Opinion

Movies and the culture war go viral

Movies have the power to make us laugh, cry, get mad, feel inspired, identify with others, and cross cultural barriers. But while movies can provide an emotional escape, movies also have a power that goes far beyond simple entertainment; they have a significant social and cultural impact.

Andy Warhol, who knew something about affecting the culture, is quoted as saying that “it’s the movies that have really been running things in America ever since they were invented. They show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to feel about it, and how to look [at] how you feel about it.”

The power of movies makes them a central weapon in the culture war, where the battle for the hearts and minds of the public, and the conflict between values considered traditional or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal is played out, because what many people see in the darkened movie theater is not heightened reality, it is reality.

In a 2008 Washington Post article (5 Myths About Those Tinseltown Liberals), Andrew Klavan wrote that, “For the past 30 years or so, Hollywood storytelling has been guided by a liberal mythos in which, for example, blacklisting communist screenwriters during the ’50s was somehow morally worse than fellow-traveling with the Stalinist murderers of tens of millions (“Trumbo”); Che Guevara was a dashing, romantic liberator instead of a charismatic killer (“The Motorcycle Diaries”); and the worldwide violence currently being waged by Islamo-fascists is either a figment of our bigoted imaginations or the product of our evil deeds (“V for Vendetta”).”

With this understanding we have launched Crusader Pictures, a production company founded to make movies that make a difference. Our goal is not to advance a message, but to tell great stories, the themes of which are fundamentally conservative.

A vast audience for such entertainment exists. According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans are about twice as likely to identify as conservative as they are to identify as liberal, a pattern that has persisted for many years.

And just as conservatives have found significant success in talk radio, the blogosphere, and in cable news, we now have the opportunity through the Internet and social media to make inroads in the culture via filmmaking. New online platforms are presenting filmmakers with the opportunity to create film projects that garner support at the very inception of the development process, building a constituency for a film project from the grassroots up.

Most prominent among the online platforms making it possible to utilize technology and social media to fund and make films is Kickstarter, the largest funding platform for creative ventures and intellectual properties in the world.

Every month, thousands of people utilize Kickstarter’s unique online pledge system to fund projects ranging from film to music, art, technology, and publishing. Project supporters receive smart, fun, and tangible rewards for supporting and funding Kickstarter projects they believe in.

So significant a development is Kickstarter that Time magazine named it one of the 50 best inventions of 2010. And Mashable, the top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture named Kickstarter number one on its list of ten websites to watch in 2011.

This new film-funding platform is yielding noteworthy results. Sun Come Up, a Kickstarter-funded short documentary, was an Academy Award nominee this year, and The Woods, a film which opened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, was largely funded by Kickstarter.