Left Politicizes Entertainment, Americans Tune Out
Whether it's the Emmys, summer movies or sports, we're getting pretty tired of the Left's war on culture.
“What in the heck has happened to late night comedy?” —columnist Larry O'Connor.
The question is rhetorical. O'Connor knows what happened to late night comedy — along with the rest of TV entertainment, movies, sport shows and sports themselves. They’ve become bully pulpits for the dissemination of progressive ideology. In short, a cadre of sanctimonious, intolerant, pseudo-moralists are determined to make every American as miserable as they are.
Thankfully, their non-stop moralizing comes with a price.
Take last week’s Emmy Awards show where host and late-night comic Steven Colbert and his merry band of fabulously wealthy and thoroughly out-of-touch fellow celebrities couldn’t resist bashing President Donald Trump — when they weren’t busy lecturing their audience about the “proper” way to think about topics such as global warming, Middle East turmoil, racism and, as Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw puts it, telling “the same five jokes about conservatives ad nauseam.”
Apparently millions of Americans were afflicted with nausea: the telecast tied last year’s show for the all-time smallest audience ever. Shaw nonetheless insists everything is relative, and that an audience of 11.4 million isn’t about to give the Left pause because it’s still a big number relative to the ratings of other TV broadcasts and “they can pay all the bills with that just fine.”
Maybe so — for now. But ratings ultimately determine what rates advertisers will pay to get their products before the American public. And while TV ratings are down a whopping 33% in the last four years, ad rates were up 20% because the networks managed to convince ad buyers the time buys were still worth it.
Not anymore. “TV ad sales are expected to slide this year, the first time that’s happened since the height of the Great Recession,” reports Business Insider, which also notes a “bad economy” can’t be used as an excuse this time. And while it’s only 1%, it may signal the beginning of a trend exacerbated by the reality that the same Americans who averaged 42 hours of TV-watching per week in 2011 are averaging only 34 hours of TV-watching per week as of the first quarter of 2017.
Naturally the industry would rather attribute a more than 20% decline to anything other than the quality of programming. Apparently they can’t imagine that millions of Americans aren’t interested in an watching an arrogant hack like Colbert interview a far more arrogant Hillary Clinton, who likens herself to “Paula Revere,” or that they might be repulsed when daytime talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres insists she won’t give the president of the United States a platform on her show because he’s “not only dangerous for the country and for me personally as a gay woman, but to the world.” Americans might also be sick and tired of ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s politicized lectures about health care — lectures for which he was receiving talking points from Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office.
Perhaps TV execs will eventually discover that consistently alienating half the nation makes for a lousy business model in the long run.
And the short run as well. In the world of sports, ESPN, perfectly okay with host Jemele Hill calling President Trump a “white supremacist” who has surrounded himself with “other white supremacists” continues to steadily hemorrhage viewers, down another 9% in July 2017 compared to the same time last year. And that’s on top of more than 600,000 subscribers who dropped the channel in a single month last November.
They’re hardly an outlier. A Nielsen report entitled “November Cable Network Coverage Areas Universe Estimate” revealed 82 of the 119 networks they surveyed lost subscribers as well. They included Viacom, whose Spike brand lost one million subscribers from October to November, and whose CMT brand lost 1.1 million. Time Warner also lost 2.2% of its subscribers, and 10 other networks suffered losses greater than ESPN.
Nielsen attributes the decline to “outright cord-cutting.” No doubt, but that engenders an obvious question: Why are millions of Americans cutting those cords?
Or even more telling, what stops them from tuning in when they haven’t? Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser reveals NFL viewership is down 14% on a year-over-year basis during the first week of this season. Rating were down again in week two, and an analyst from Jeffries, an equity research firm, believes the NFL’s TV partner could sustain losses of $200 million or more if ratings continue to tank. Ad sales are way down as well.
And after Sunday’s spectacle, expect those ratings and revenues to plummet further.
To what do those involved attribute the decline? Last year it was the election. This year it’s hurricanes, quality of play and over-saturation. In reality, viewers are disgusted by a bunch of multimillionaire athletes disrespecting the flag and the National Anthem — that was cited as the number one reason by more than 9,200 fans surveyed by J.D. Power. Maybe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in the midst of negotiating a renewal of his contract and a pay raise, may not want to rock the proverbial boat. Yet he apparently remains willfully clueless. When President Trump criticized the NFL’s toleration of contempt for America, Goodall insisted it was Trump who was “divisive.”
“Regardless of your position on Obamacare or on the 2016 election, the bigger picture here is how ponderous and self-reverential and sanctimonious our late night shows (and their hosts) have become,” writes O'Connor. “Can we get back to entertainment please?” He could have added sports personalities.
The short-term answer is no, due in large part to the reality that the legions of self-reverential progressives who infest every arena of the media and sports businesses believe progressive politics is entertainment. And when ratings and revenue decline, or Hollywood suffers its worst summer movie attendance in 25 years, they’ll attribute it to anything other than millions of Americans who have grown tired of being insulted — and have finally decided to do something about it.
Worse, they don’t realize that stultifying political conformity breeds agonizing staleness. Progressive Hollywood has become the land where sequels of sequels of already re-hashed franchise ideas have become the order of the day. Progressive comics and late-night hosts, oblivious to their echo-chamber approach to comedy, have become unfunny. Athletes who used to celebrate touchdowns now celebrate victimhood.
Slapstick genius Mel Brooks has noticed. “It’s OK not to hurt feelings of various tribes and groups,” he stated in a recent interview. “However, it’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. It’s the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.” Brooks knows a thing or two about thin lines, with movies like “Blazing Saddles” in his repertoire.
Such an outlook is utterly anathema to an American Left so intolerant of alternate ideas they shield themselves with safe spaces, trigger warnings and microaggressions, while being more than willing to suppress — or literally tear down — any truth that doesn’t accrue their “superior” sensibilities.
Thus, decent Americans should tune out whenever possible. Yet they might consider another strategy as well: laughing, rather than getting angry, at these puerile virtue-signalers. The bet here is those who measure their self-worth by the anger they elicit from “deplorable” Americans would erupt in spasmodic outbursts of their own.
How funny would that be?