The state of California has recently set up an “exchange” to promote Obamacare, and has hired Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide for $900,000 to encourage programs like Grey's Anatomy and Modern Family to help sell the health care law.
According Tim Graham of NewsBusters.org, Peter V. Lee, the director of California's exchange said, “I’d like to see 10 of the major TV shows, or telenovelas, have people talking about ‘that health insurance thing.’ There are good story lines here.”
On Meet the Press, Vice President Joe Biden recently congratulated Will & Grace for swinging public opinion in favor of gay marriage. In 1972, Maude was credited with advancing the public acceptance of abortion enough to encourage the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973. The story line was that Maude got pregnant at age 47. The show created sympathy for her predicament. Few of the many millions of abortions that followed were on women over 45.
There are lots of great story lines that favor Obamacare (poor people who can't get insurance, people with preexisting conditions, people who lose their insurance when they lose their job). There are also lots of great story lines that would make ObamaCare look horrible (young healthy people forced by law to pay high rates that do not reflect their real health care risk, people unable to get services rationed by the government, people dying waiting for their turn to get care, a growing doctor shortage). Guess which ones will be on network television.
When Bambi was released in 1942 the sales of hunting rifles dropped in half that year. When Fugitive From a Chain Gang came out in 1932, prison reform followed quickly.
The sexual revolution quickly followed the end of the Motion Picture Code and the start of MPAA ratings. Movies like the Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Woodstock, and others promoted the idea that sex outside of marriage was normal and acceptable. The result has been a transformation of American culture with huge increases in divorce, unwed births, welfare spending, and prison populations.
When most people think of propaganda they think of some Nazi movie like Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl. They don't think about Modern Family making a homosexual couple look more like they belong in Leave it to Beaver than in Midnight Cowboy.
The truth is that media influences culture and people who want to influence culture want to influence the media. They want story lines that advance their agenda.
At Movieguide, we prefer story lines that honor God, encourage righteousness and redeem culture. We like to see marriages that last, children raised by loving natural parents and a society far more honest, civil and respectful of others.
Paul Verhoeven, the director of Robo Cop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct wants to make a movie promoting the idea Jesus was the son of a roman soldier who raped Mary. He wants the world to see Jesus as merely another flawed human.
Michael Moore loves to make movies blasting capitalists while trying to capitalize as much as he can on his movies.
The low budget, poor quality Innocence of Muslims recently was blamed for the death of an American ambassador and several staff members and threw the Middle East into hysteria.
Media has a profound impact.
During World War II, famed American director Frank Capra made Why We Fight using tax dollars. Will the new trend be that tax dollars are used to hire public relations firms to get movies and television programs to advance the political agenda of those in power? Will the major studios line up and march to the tune being played in Washington.
Hollywood has much to loose by upsetting those with political power. The major studios are conglomerates that include cable divisions. Imagine a law freeing communities from cable monopolies. Imagine a-la-cart cable services where consumers decide not to pay for major studio channels they don’t want. Imagine the MPAA rating system being replaced by one not owned and operated by the six major studios. The majors have reason to keep helpful politicians happy and their campaigns well funded. This has been true since Thomas Edison's monopoly on the movie business was busted in 1915.
The major studios have high-paid lobbyists out to promote their interests in Washington. Now, the government has it's own high-paid lobbyists to promote their interests in Hollywood, and you're paying their salaries.