In 2008 David Koch, the well-known philanthropist and boogeyman on the left, donated $100 million to the New York City Opera. When I read that, I thought of an old friend of mine, Michael Rust. I worked with Michael at Insight magazine in the late 1990s. He died in 2002 at age 41. Michael was a brilliant and very funny man, and he and I once created, at least in our heads, an opera based on the rise of the conservative movement in the 20th century. We imagined the scenes showing the slow climb of the right (and yes, we saw the silly humor in the idea), culminating in a grand scene of William F. Buckley standing on top of a model of the National Review building in New York and driving all the anti-Semites and wackos out of the movement. The melodrama would be worthy of the melodrama of “Medea.” Then would come Reagan, played by Pavarotti.
But failing that, perhaps David Koch — and other conservatives with means — should think about getting behind films. The alternative is that we leave it to the left. And we all know what that means.
In 2011, the documentary “Better This World” was released. “Better This World” tells the story of two American terrorists who threatened to napalm the 2008 Republican convention. It is a left-wing film, and its makers received millions of dollars’ worth of grants to do the film from both HBO and George Soros. It also played on PBS.
The existence of “Better This World” can be added to the pile of reasons why conservatives need to get into the film business. It’s the kind of film that will run at film festivals and on public TV and get into the bloodstream of the culture without any effective reply or alternative.
We have a chance to provide an alternative, and all at the cost of a free vote. As some Daily Caller readers know, I’m producing a documentary on Whittaker Chambers, one of the great anti-communists of the 20th century and the author of the classic autobiography “Witness.” It’s a film that needs to be made for the same reasons that the works of Dante, St. Augustine and William F. Buckley (a friend of Chambers) need to be preserved. America’s public schools and academia are certainly not interested in remembering the man who revealed Soviet espionage in the United States government. The chronology of most of their history books goes like this: imperialist Christopher Columbus, the slaughter of the Indians, racist Southerners and the Civil War, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, McCarthyism, Vietnam, Bush.
This week we received an exciting opportunity. Indiewire, a terrific website dedicated to the filmmaking industry, named “The Story of Whittaker Chambers” its Project of the Day. The Project of the Day is a work that Indiewire presents to its audience thinking that it is worthwhile and that the audience may think that it is worthwhile. One project is presented every day for a week. At the end of the week, the audience votes on their favorite. The winner gets some cool perks.
Voting is free.
Conservatives responded to the launch of our project with enthusiasm and donations. Yet we are still well short of our goal. It’s understandable considering the economy. But this year conservative organizations will hire hundreds of people in different capacities: writers, economists, PR people, field coordinators, etc. But no artists. Why?
Because in recent decades conservatives have abandoned the arts to the left. And there’s no reason for it anymore. The technology is at the point where we can make our own films, better films than Hollywood produces, for basically the salary of a journalist at The Weekly Standard or National Review. Of course, we want to make something that appeals to the masses as well as to conservatives engaged in the arts and politics. And “The Story of Whittaker Chambers” has it all: espionage, courtroom drama, God, the soul of man under socialism, human sexuality. In his fearless witness and his powerful spiritual insight, Whittaker Chambers genuinely did better this world.
Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.