It ain’t gonna fly

Rick Santorum has become the new CEO of the Christian film company EchoLight Studios (though it sounds from the article that it may be just something to occupy him until 2016). His goal, it seems is to rebuild conservative power by putting Christian message into the movies: “We’re losing this debate not because of politics .. the popular culture changed America”
This is yet another of the themes Repubs have been playing with since November of last year: it’s not that their political message is flawed in any way, it’s that popular culture has brainwashed people into thinking Wrong Thoughts. So if you change the culture, you make people vote Republican! Hence Santorum’s desire to make widely popular movies in the mode of past blockbusters such as Passion of the Christ or Ben-Hur.
While I give Santorum credit for trying (a lot of conservatives sit around and discuss how America needs movies with conservative themes without actually making any), this is a hopeless project. In the first place, the chance anyone seeing a Christian movie, in any era, deciding to convert is pretty slim. In the second place, as pointed out in comments at the link, changing the culture the way Santorum wants doesn’t require converting new Christians, it requires converting them to Santorum’s brand of Christianity. By which I don’t mean Catholicism but a brand that equates Jesus teaching with the Republican Party platform. As I’ve noted before, Santorum departs from Papal teaching any time the Pope contradicts Republicans, such as support for a living wage; he also believes you can’t be liberal and Christian.
And the trouble is, you can’t get there from here. The “Christian” message in Republican politics boils down to hating gays, demanding women submit to their masters and banning abortion. While Santorum can certainly commission movies with that message, they’re unlikely to be broadly appealing works in the tradition of The Ten Commandments. And they probably won’t change the culture because Santorum’s views of gay marriage as being as evil as slavery are just not a winner any more.
For an example of what I’m talking about, here’s Gary Bauer. Another former presidential candidate and anti-gay activist, he recently stated that the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act was “judicial terrorism” and that “America is on the verge of criminalizing the book of Genesis.”
While none of this is surprising (not even equating a judicial decision to a terrorist attack), I’m not sure it makes any sense. It’s like a string of religious-right memes strung together: Unelected activist judges, religion under attack, etc. Presumably what Santorum wants is to change the culture so the average American hearing Bauer goes “Yeah! Right!” And I don’t see it. The problem is, true, partly the culture (we’re much more gay friendly than say, two decades ago), but logic and reason are on the culture’s side in this one. They have no good arguments left. Bauer grumbles about the judges “imposing morality” on other people but his whole career shows he’s fine with that, just so long as it’s his morality, not the other side (as I’ve written before, it’s never about the process, it’s about the hate).
I’m curious to see what Santorum turns out. But as a culture warrior, he’s about as doomed as the Light Brigade.

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