Here is a fun experiment you should do sometime: rewatch some of your favorite shows from years ago and apply to them today’s standards and sensibilities. What you will find is that you will be shocked at how far over today’s social justice line many of those shows were, especially those in the period that I define as the Golden Age of Television. We’ve seen incredible TV shows in many different generations, going back to I Love Lucy and Bewitched through the Simpsons and Seinfeld, and up to the more recent era of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. So what then would be the Golden Age, and how do you define it?
First, one should define the Golden Age of TV as a time when creativity peaked, and writers were free to see their visions come alive on screen, without any shackles; where the quality was overwhelmingly high across multiple shows, genres, and channels. I am aware there are those who ascribe that term to the 1950’s and a second in the late 90’s. I define the beginning of the Golden Age as January 10, 1999, with the pilot of the Sopranos. The Sopranos ushered in a new era of TV, with a nearly unheard of levels of critical acclaim, and brought about the ability for studios to take the gloves off writers to tell more engaging stories. For the first time, television could meet and in many cases exceed the storytelling of movies. The HBO triple threat of Sopranos, The Wire, and OZ, all firing in succession, showed what was possible with modern dramas. In a rush to capitalize on this newfound freedom and chasing HBO to the awards and ratings line, virtually every studio went all in on hardcore dramas. In addition to the quality being churned out yearly by HBO, two of my favorite series of all time premiered within a year of one another: The Shield in 2002 and Battlestar Galactica in 2003.
From approximately 1999 to 2015, television was scintillating virtually every week. My DVR was packed during that time with unbelievably high-quality tv in both the drama and comedy realms. From FX hitting home run after home run in the Shield, Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, Sons of Anarchy, and more to HBO continuing their legacy of greatness, and the emergence of Netflix and Amazon, this span of time included the highest density of greatness ever seen on television. All good things come to an end, and as time went on, I started to notice my DVR wasn’t quite as full as it used to be. Everything from drama to stand up comedy seemed to be reduced dramatically in the quality and quantity I had become accustomed to having. Don’t get me wrong; there are still great shows out there, but not to the level that we had in the Golden Age. Recently, I rewatched my favorite series, Battlestar Galactica, and I think I’ve figured out where the Golden Age went.
Social Justice killed it.
In rewatching BSG and thinking back to that era, I had forgotten how far shows were willing to go to tell a story, and networks were quite willing to run storylines you couldn’t possibly get away with in the modern era. Even innocuous shows like the Office likely would never get made in today's climate of oppressive social justice without severe alterations. The Shield, which I believe to be the best police show ever created, would have ZERO chance of being green-lit in 2018. The reason for all of this?
Writer’s handcuffs and the boycott outrage machine.
In writing my own novel, I’ve done a tremendous amount of research on the do’s and don’ts of writing fiction. Read any number of recent articles entitled “10 Mistakes Writers Make,” and you will be presented with a litany of things you should not write about or characters you shouldn’t have. A great example of this is YouTuber/Writer Jenna Moreci, who has a massive hit channel on YouTube with many videos telling you what the “rules” are for writing, with a distinctly left-wing bent. After watching about 10 of these types of videos, I came to the conclusion that modern writers are shackled to an incredibly lengthy list of handcuffs, to stay on the pleasant side the social justice warrior crowd. For example, it used to be that representation was one of the most significant problems, as people wanted to see more diverse casting decisions. Once that came to fruition, then it became about dictating how those people were written. Keep in mind, no one has a problem with the representation of minorities, but that is no longer enough, now they have to be portrayed exactly a certain way to conform to these rigid guidelines.
Let me give an example, featuring the show I consider to be “Patient Zero” in the new era of social justice TV: Quantico. Back in 2016, the writers for this show came out and stated explicitly that they would never have a Muslim terrorist on the show, becoming one of the first times that writers publicly took certain types of characterizations off the table. Fast forward to 2018, ABC and the show’s writers were forced to issue a public apology for a storyline involving Indian Nationalists framing Pakistanis for a terrorist act. Think of it: one of the most politically correct shows on television, featuring an Indian lead, still got crushed for veering off the social justice highway even for a moment. It turns out that doing so much restricting of your characters and storytelling doesn’t make for particularly compelling TV, as Quantico was canceled after three seasons.
There’s another elephant in the room: the complete lack of black or minority villains. Shabazz Malikali wrote an excellent article on this over two years ago that remains true: Hollywood is petrified of making black villains. Go ahead and google the phrase “black villain on tv” and you get a grand total of nothing. Outside of the all black properties like Luke Cage or Empire, there are zero black villains on any mainstream TV show. The problem used to be representation, as in there aren’t enough black people on TV, now the problem is that all black characters have to be portrayed as comically overpowered in every situation, giving them no actual arcs, depth, or flaws. Also, one can go right down the line of every ethnicity, gender, or orientation and find the same. Essentially, 99% of the time your villain has to be miscellaneous rich white guy number 424, relegating minorities to playing superhuman caricatures of real people.
To sum up: the rules that were created with good intentions have spiraled out of control, stifling creative expression across all forms of media. Books, TV, and to a lesser extent, movies have all become artistically subverted to a fascistic left-wing orthodoxy that demands rigid adherence to the rules; thus creating a stale environment where every show has to follow a long list of guidelines in order to ever get produced. Since every show is working from the same social justice guidelines, it stands to reason they would share many of the same characteristics, inducing boredom with everyone competing to see how woke they can be. Maybe it’s possible that the Trump era killed TV, as he scared liberals so drastically that they figured maybe they needed to crack down further on the culture; making sure to pound home their message in a more blatant manner. Whatever the reason, it is highly likely we will be seeing average TV for the foreseeable future.
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I’ve become fascinated by how TV and Movies have changed over the past 3-4 years. I used to be a huge cinephile, and regularly binged out my favorite shows on Netflix or DVR. I always knew Hollywood and the media in general were liberal, but I rarely made any connection to the actual content I was watching, and whether or not it was pushing some kind of message. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I watched stuff like Star Trek, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, etc. Pretty normal run of the mill apolitical stuff. Of course you could make the argument Star Trek is extremely socialist, but I never found it to be that overt. Basically, I never felt my media consumption was being poisoned with some agenda. Make no mistake, there’s always been political movies like Apocalypse Now or anything related to Vietnam, but I don’t think it’s ever been so frequent or overt as what we have in 2017.
Now, over the past few years, it’s become inescapable. I just watched Thor: Ragnarok the other day, so if you ever care to see it, feel free to skip the spoilers part that’s upcoming. This is one of the highest rated Marvel movies ever, and has generally garnered universal praise. For those unaware, Marvel has taken a hard left wing turn in the comics, but that has yet to seriously spread to the movies, until now. There was a fair amount of liberal bullshit in Spiderman: Homecoming, but Thor took it to another level. First and least problematic, they “blackwashed” several characters, i.e. took characters that were white in the comics such as Heimdall and Valkyrie and made them black. This doesn’t bother me, but it shows intent to project some level of diversity onto the movie. Next up, we have the villainess of the movie, Hela. She is clearly a projection of the way leftists view Trump as this Hitlerian autocrat, and the way she wants to make Asgard great again. Still though, this isn’t really a problem. Then we come to the big one, and the most overt move. “Asgard” in the movie is portrayed initially as this idyllic civilization, only later we come to find out that it’s build on conquest, war, and blood, and thus is considered by characters as not legitimate. Asgard clearly becomes an analogue to America, and the hard left wing dogma that America isn’t legitimate because of slavery and conquest. Thor in the end sequence basically allows Asgard to be destroyed to stop Hela, and erase it from existence. Obliterating his entire homeland doesn’t seem to bother Thor or anyone else in the least, since as they say “Asgard is a people, not a place,” as they become refugees to earth. Apparently the values and culture a civilization cultivates means nothing, since it’s just a plot of land. I’ll be interested to see if they present Wakanda in the Black Panther movie the same way, given that Wakanada is essentially an African Ethnostate.
Thor and even the Inhumans Marvel show on TV are hyper pro-refugee stories. None of this is a surprise once you check out the director, Taika Waititi on Twitter. I thought maybe I was just projecting my confirmation bias onto it, but clearly not. Once you read his and other hyper liberal stars like Mark Ruffalo’s Twitter accounts, it’s no mystery where this is coming from. However just having liberal messages is not what this article is about. It’s about actual manipulation of culture and how Hollywood can shift mainstream perception of certain issues. There are a few techniques Hollywood uses for this, so let’s take a look at what they are.
The Invented Character
The first technique we see is inventing a fake character that encompasses the ideology of the filmmakers and writers. Let’s say you have a historical or literary movie, and you can’t change the source but so much, what do you do? Invent a character to be the personification of your views. Virtually every piece of media does this to a varying degree, so let’s take a look at one of the bigger offenders: Hidden Figures. I’ve heard of people in tears after this movie, and read article after article talking about how amazing this movie was at showing the struggle these women went through. The problem is, it’s almost entirely fake. Virtually all of the over the top racism emerges from 3 characters played by Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons. Guess what, every single one of them is fake. Literally none of that happened. Katharine Johnson, the person the movie is based on said specifically she never felt segregation or not acknowledged as a peer. The coffee pot scene, bathroom scene, all complete fiction. No one denies the achievements of these ladies, nor that the time had racism, but the way the movie lays out the treatment of these women is complete fiction. The writers admit that the fake characters were “there to represent the feeling of the racism of the era.”
Here’s another example: Black Sails. It’s a pirate show that was on Starz and was extremely liberal. Every character in the show is either based on an actual historical figure, or a literary one. For example, you had Long John Silver from Treasure Island, but also Charles Vane, a real pirate. There’s another character though, Eleanor Guthrie. She’s one of the only newly invented characters in the show, and represents ridiculous over the top feminism. She literally runs the entire show, bossing around these hard-ass pirates and kicking their ass periodically. She runs the entire island, the whole business of profiteering, essentially everything. In addition, this show took the liberty of making Captain Flint, the character from Treasure Island, gay. So as we see, if history or literature doesn’t align with the ideology we have, we can just make people up like Hollywood does.
Minorities Can’t be Evil or Dumb
This is a newer one that’s really emerged in the past few years. I absolutely dare you to find a minority other than Asian (because liberals don’t care about them) that’s ever evil or dumb in a movie, tv, show, or commercial. Go ahead, think about it. It never happens. 100% of criminals in commercials are scruffy white dudes. Apparently Russian or Asian or even Italian gangsters are the only gangs committing criminality around in Hollywood these days. I just finished watching the Punisher on Netflix. About 3 episodes in, a nice relatively rich white guy shows up. I knew immediately he was going to be the villain. That’s how predictable they’ve gotten nowadays. In addition, they showed a white war veteran using a pressure cooker bomb after reading some NRA literature, which I doubt has ever occurred. I’m actually surprised they didn’t just put him in a MAGA hat. The guy who writes the TV show Quantico actually told everyone he would never have a Muslim villain. Come to think of it, I can remember the last time there was a good black villain. Idris Elba in Star Trek Beyond. I remember being so shocked that someone had the balls to make a modern black villain, since no one ever does. Black and Hispanic people can only ever be the most alpha, kind hearted, wise, people ever in 2017. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I saw a minority with virtually any character flaw. Writers are actually scared to give minority characters any depth, so as to prevent getting called racist. Even Morgan Freeman noticed Hollywood’s unwillingness to cast black villains. It’s not that it never happens, as Samuel L Jackson, Denzel Washington, and Jamie Foxx have all been villains, it’s just exceedingly rare.
People complain that there aren’t enough leading minorities or women. I will tell you why. Writers are scared of doing anything negative with them. It’s hard to have a compelling plot and character when you can’t bring yourself to degrade, hurt, or torture the main character in case you get called racist or sexist. As a writer you can do whatever you like to white people and no one blinks an eye, thus they are easier to cast as leads because of the lack of risk, and ability to do whatever you want to them. Also, don’t forget that white people must be either inept or evil. One of the two. Even shows with a white male lead, must have a ridiculously diverse cast, all of which guide his idiocy. Shows such as Arrow and The Flash have white, superhero male leads, and yet they are generally total morons that can’t go to 7-11 without assistance from their hyper diverse crew of perfect characters. Direct TV has a commercial running right now where they show people doing stupid things, and somehow they managed to pick 5 white people doing moronic stuff. There’s not much diversity when you need an idiot, that’s for sure.
I could go on and on, but you get the gist. Hollywood more than ever before are using their platform to manipulate social consciousness, and have developed a few tricky ways to slide their ideas in under cover.
Take a look, it’s not hard to see the agenda.
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.