Freedom Sells

Everyone likes movies. Since its inception at the turn of the 20th Century, film has evolved as one of the most prolific sources of social, political and spiritual commentary in history. As some have said, Hollywood is what Homer was to the ancients. Movies tell stories. Movies strive to move us. They can even rewrite history in the mind’s of a society. Needless to say, movies and TV shows are a crucial part of modern culture.

As dozens of high-budget Hollywood blockbuster hopefuls make their way to the screen every year, the reaction from the political sphere is largely the same: Hollywood is a liberal’s world. From the causes and candidates that actors and actresses support to the “socially progressive” message that many films portray, this is a rare case of bipartisan agreement.

However, when one analyzes the plot structure, character development, and themes of some of film’s most popular and most recent works, there seems to be an intriguing trend of conservative ideals that permeates them all. Allow me to explain.

One of the most basic principles of modern liberalism is big government is best. Nationalized healthcare, increased welfare state, increased regulation, etc. Conservatism then, obviously, opposes many of these views. So you would think an industry that is overwhelmingly stereotyped as liberal would tend to portray this kind of ideology in its products. However, in many cases this is just the opposite.

For example, take the popular genre of post-modern dystopian societies (aka Hunger Games, Divergent, Blade Runner, and the like). The vast majority of the time, the antagonist of these movies is blatantly identified as the government. It’s up to one strong-willed, unassuming underdog to courageously lead a revolt against the oppressive rulers who stand diametrically opposed to freedom and individual progress. Interesting.

Look at Gladiator, Braveheart, The Matrix, Star Wars, some of the most iconic movies of all time all share this common theme. Of course, the most inspiring movies use this David vs. Goliath tactic as a way to make an interesting plot line, but the cultural subtext here cannot be ignored. Where are the movies about the successes of an increased welfare state? Instead we have The Pursuit of Happyness. Where are the dramatic success stories of government security agencies? Instead we have the Bourne series. Where are the long-term success stories of those who tossed the rule book out the window, abandoned classic values and morals, and have a life of complete happiness and satisfaction to show for it? Instead we have Wolf of Wall Street.

No, Hollywood knows what makes a good story. It’s one that inspires us to succeed, to be entrepreneurial, to stand out, to think critically, to contribute, to work hard, to be free. It’s these kinds of stories that have made America the best country in the world. But these ideas aren’t just reserved for Americans. They resonate within everyone. Freedom makes sense. Freedom transcends. Freedom sells.

Do you have a story that exemplifies what it means to be free? Find and contact your state think tank here and share!