I had heard that the Daily Wire, the website started by Ben Shapiro, was starting a new media channel that will feature movies and other programming but there are simply no stories in the media about it. That is because Shapiro, along with several others, are most definitely on the “verboten list.” The list is growing. Anyone can be on it at any time. Heck, in my tiny corner of the universe I have been on it a few times, lest we forget the debacle of the vanishing Ansel Elgort allegations. What that means is a little like being shunned in the Amish community: do not speak of the unclean thing.
But if you are on the left and you are put on the verboten list you might eventually survive it. You might find your way off of it. It’s possible. Conservatives, forget it. Trump supporters – no shot.
Either which way, I personally can sense a shift. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see it coming – the writing is on the wall. The left is losing its mind a bit – understandable under the conditions of late – and in so doing alienating, half the country at least, and even many who are on the left but can’t stand what the left is becoming. That means, all media, talent and intent is carefully scrutinized for bad deeds. And that usually means “problematic” casting choices, films with the “wrong” message, ideas or subject matter that makes people “uncomfortable.” There is a continual effort to purify for minimum offense. If one person is offended, the whole thing is tainted. And then onto the Verboten list you go.
This has been going on for a while but when Trump rose to power it most definitely intensified. The line between “us and them” became much wider and much more extreme.
The same way that writers who have found themselves on the verboten list and have exiled themselves to Substack (Andrew Sullivan, among others), the same way people like Joe Rogan have fled not just the left, but California and other “blue states,” so too will there be some kind of exodus in the film world probably. The reason being: there is money to be made. Lots and lots of money when someone with a smart idea can find a way to grab the middle and both sides become polarized.
It would be easy and simple to just call this the new “white flight” but I think it is more complicated than that. For one thing, much of the strident woke movement is being driven by young, fairly well off white millennials. But also, there are just as many non-white people out there who are growing weary of “cancel culture.” It does not seem, at least to me, that Hollywood is prepared to push back even a little bit. Most people I know are accepting this as the new normal and they figure they have to adapt or flee.
Matthew McConaughey recently brought up the way things are shifting — he isn’t the only person who feels this way. I get emails from people who feel the same way but are too afraid to say so out loud for fear of being put on the verboten list. It’s a real fear and I certainly understand it. Ideally, as McConaughey says below, we can find a way to meet in the middle.
Ben Shapiro, who is listened to by a lot of people who will not admit they listen to him (his podcast is in the top ten at iTunes and was among the top ten of the year, higher than any on the left), and he is friendly with many in Hollywood who can’t or won’t admit they know him or listen to him, has noticed this shift and is building an entertainment channel on the Daily Wire that will be available for streaming on the Apple TV or Roku app.
Already, conservatives are putting out podcasts and YouTube videos, and have for a while, but the only one who is really creeping into the left’s territory, as far as I can see, is Ben Shapiro and Daily Wire. At least right now. For all of the dunking he gets on Twitter, his popularity is rising.
Daily Wire’s first movie is Apollo 11, a documentary on the infamous space flight.
So I’d be watching for who is about to fill the vacuum that the left is leaving wide open, both in how it polices art constantly for “rightness” and in how it aims its content at a portion of the public. It is only intensifying, or at least it has this year. Most high profile Hollywood types (McConaughey excluded) are much too afraid to say a single thing else their career could be ended overnight.
By the way, to me this is why I believe that the left is headed for self-destruction in 2024 – and if any presidential candidate can capture what McConaughey is going for in that video? They will win in a landslide. I personally do not believe the country, or Hollywood or the Oscars, can survive by isolating and insulating themselves from everyone else.