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Another Terrible Conservative Movie
BuzzFeed Politics ^ | 04/03/2013 | Ben Howe

Posted on 04/03/2013 7:03:08 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

As a conservative and a fledgling filmmaker with a few early-stage documentaries in the works, I've long been concerned about conservatism's struggle to relate to the culture. While our ideological opponents are partying with Beyoncé and having action movies made about their foreign policy decisions, the pop-culture portrayals of our party have led many voters to associate us more closely with segregation than economic liberty. As unfair and inaccurate as the characterizations may be, it's our job as a movement to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, a new production by the conservative nonprofit Tea Party Patriots, called A Movement on Fire, looks like it may do more harm than good.

From what I can gather, the initiative is aimed at addressing this problem of conservatism's absence in the entertainment media. I'm calling it an initiative because Tea Party Patriots hasn't made it entirely clear what they plan to do. So far, a movie trailer and, more recently, a "music video" (essentially just a longer trailer) have been released.

In the future, I sincerely hope they hire some experienced help, because what I see right now leaves much to be desired.

The newer of the two trailers starts by providing the setting. A woman — it's unclear if she's symbolic or an actual part of the movie — stands next to a torch overlooking a city as a girl's voice is heard providing a brief history: "It was created to provide us with freedom. Our city became a great beacon of hope and liberty to the world. It was a shining city upon a hill. 15 years ago ... freedom died."

From there, we learn that 15 years earlier, a political party known as the Development Party earned total control over this city. Using double-speak and talking points, Development Party Chairman Troy Marcus lays out their plans to create a welfare state in which "from each, everything shall be given to all."

From here, it becomes clear that Marcus has raised taxes (now called "contributions") to 80% and has begun a massive effort to redistribute wealth and ensure that everyone is receiving their "fair share." As outcry from citizens grows, the Development Party — apparently with control over the police department — rounds up opposition and squashes dissent.

As the video moves to the present day, the protagonist of the film appears and quietly tells a companion, "Something is very wrong with our city." And thus begins the rebellion against tyranny in this city of liberty. Quick cuts and action scenes are interspersed with frightening statements from politicians, and symbols of liberty are placed in windows around the city. Interestingly, 15 years into this dystopia, people seem to be doing pretty well. The cities appear to be clean, everyone is healthy-looking and wearing stylish clothing, technology seems to have progressed quite nicely as "Development Cards" are used by citizens throughout the area to collect their "fair share." I find it alarming that the creators of the film believe a socialist paradise would work so efficiently, with one character even marveling at "everything they give us."

Of course, all the upsides come at the cost of liberty, so this ragtag group of rebels takes to the streets and works to earn their freedom back. Through the use of such modern conveniences as computers and touch-screen AT&T smartphones — as well as media support from what appears to be a free press that reports all of the bad news against the Development Party — the "Liberty Movement" rises up to challenge the status quo.

In front of a crowd on a cold night, the protagonist rallies the troops to fight for freedom:

"Our city was built on freedom and opportunity. The freedom to pursue our own dreams. The freedom to build our own lives. The freedom to develop our own destinies. We are all shaped by the times in which we live. So let this time be defined by freedom! That our lives be the spark that ignites the flames of liberty! We are a movement on fire! Will you take up the torch!?"

It ends with a message from the Tea Party Patriots: "Fiscal Responsibility; Constitutionally Limited Government; Free Markets."

So far, the original trailer has earned about 113,000 views on YouTube. The music video version has earned an additional 9,000 views.

Don't get me wrong. I agree with the general sentiments expressed in the trailer. I just wish they were expressed in a way that captivated. Instead, it's cringe inducing. Right out of the gate, the first thing you'll notice is that the acting falls short. I don't necessarily think that's the actors' fault, though. Much of what you get out of an actor can be based on the director and the dialogue. I can't speak to the abilities of director Luke Livingston, but the dialogue is trite and the portrayals are robotic. In a movie trailer you often find the best scenes and the best lines used in order to pique interest. When what you see is awkward acting, repetitive scenery, and a story line that you can predict with precision in two minutes, you lose a lot of your potential moviegoers.

If the "thumbs down" number on YouTube is to be believed (and I'll grant you it's not scientific), the majority of viewers represent my point of view on this effort. This film seems to play out less as the tried-and-true Orwellian future that is used in so many successful movies and books — typically with more progressive heroes saving the day — and attempts a weak imitation of The Hunger Games. But even putting aside what appears to be a low-budget offering, where does a film like The Hunger Games succeed while this film can't? Why do Orwellian futures work in other stories, but not this one?

Well first of all, films like The Hunger Games succeed because they create a suspension of disbelief. They take you into a world so far removed from our own that you become absorbed in their universe. Suspension of disbelief can be vitally important if your intention is to make a statement that you hope resonates with the viewer. By absorbing them in something so far removed from reality and getting them to accept that reality's rules, you have opened their mind to ideas. This doesn't work well if the person is instead constantly nitpicking what they find unrealistic.

If you've ever watched a film that represents the industry you work in, it's a great example of the problem I'm describing. I'd imagine it's pretty hard for forensic scientists to watch actors on CSI: Miami go from shooting bad guys in the head to using a microscope. As such, an episode of CSI: Miami that is trying to make a point about say, child slavery, will find itself having a hard time convincing the forensic scientist who is more focused on the ridiculousness of the portrayal.

In A Movement on Fire, there are high taxes, forced redistribution of wealth, a controlling political party, and corrupt police. All of these are used as a way, apparently, to cause the viewer to fear the direction we're headed in as Americans. I can't imagine that such a portrayal could do any such thing to the uninitiated. While The Hunger Games created a healthy respect for freedom to choose your destiny, this film seems more likely to cause viewers to roll their eyes and mutter, "Like that could happen here." Any points about loss of liberty or the lack of self-reliant people would disappear into a cloud of criticism about the unrealistic portrayal of modern American life.

But possibly the most damning aspect of the story, given its apparently lofty goals, is that we are supposed to fear what takes place in the past. Were this some other universe, as in Hunger Games, the distant past works fine because, in that film, what matters is the future, not the present. How will things turn out? But in A Movement on Fire, the concern is the present. Our present, to be specific. Without providing an adequate portrayal of how what is happening now unfolds, opting instead to merely present it as a horrible thing that already happened 15 years ago, the ability for a viewer to connect their lives to the future being shown is lacking and interferes with the message.

Now, the entire reason I'm writing this review can be summed up in my opening: I want a culture shift, and I want conservative artists to be taken seriously. It is my opinion that this Tea Party Patriots film does great damage to such an effort.

Instead of pulling people into a story that espouses the underlying tenets of liberty, it slaps them across the face with all of the subtlety of a campaign commercial. Rather than taking the viewer along for a first-person view of how our present can develop into their future, the filmmakers opted to skip directly to the bottom of the slippery slope without describing the tumble with enough detail to create a real connection for the viewer.

The last thing these filmmakers probably wanted was to grant more evidence to the entertainment industry that conservatism and art don't mix. Unfortunately for them, and others wishing to make an impact in film, A Movement on Fire could easily become the smoking gun for that narrative.

Update: Keili Carender, who was involved in the project, said there are no plans to turn the trailer into a feature-length film, and that it was intended primarily to draw attention during last month's CPAC.

-- Ben Howe is an editor at RedState.

TOPICS: Society; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: amovementonfire; conservatism; movementonfire; movie; moviereview
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1 posted on 04/03/2013 7:03:08 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Those guys who produced Courageous, Facing the Giants and Fireproof get better and better at it. One of the most gripping and touching scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie is what happens in the first minutes of Courageous.

However, I really love their first movie, with all it’s flaws (it’s on video) called Flywheel. It’s amateurish and the acting is not too good, but that is one of it’s redeeming qualities, and the message, though clearly over the top, is solid and poignant. And it does have some really touching and strong moments.

But “message” movies always run the risk of doing more harm than good. Especially political ones. The trick is to not cross the line into “message movie”.

2 posted on 04/03/2013 7:09:14 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The writer of this article makes a good point. For example, the recent movie by one the Zuckers that ridiculed a Michael Moore-type character just wasn't very good. Too ham-handed and preachy. There has to be more subtlety.

Obviously, good conservative-themed movies can be made. I saw the movie version of "The Fountainhead" after reading the book, and Hollyweird actually did a fairly good job. Of course in 1949, when the movie was made, Hollyweird wasn't as weird as it is now. Hammering people over the head with a message when they want to be entertained usually doesn't work.

3 posted on 04/03/2013 7:29:59 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: driftless2

” Hammering people over the head with a message when they want to be entertained usually doesn’t work. “

Doesn’t work for the libs either. All of their out-an-out propaganda flicks are bombs. Their propaganda DOES work when embedded in seemingly innocuous entertainment pieces like Avatar.

4 posted on 04/03/2013 7:37:04 AM PDT by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: cuban leaf

Not crossing the line is hard to do in a “message” film.

I would also add that in any dystopian fiction, the real secret is to create a catastrophic event that serves as the backstory, but not elaborate on it too much.

In “1984”, we know there was a Third World War; that’s how England ended up as ‘Airstrip One’, and the division of the world into the three great powers. But the war itself is only seen as fragmentary memories from Winston Smith’s childhood.

In the film “Bladerunner”, the reason L.A., and in truth, the rest of the West Coast - and presumably the rest of the US or the world - is such a nightmarish place is because of World War Terminus: Something that most moviegoers wouldn’t know because it’s only touched upon in one sentence of the novel the film is based on, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. In the film, there’s no reference to this event - but if you know of it from having read the book, it explains a good many things in the film, such as Sebastian’s Methusala’s Syndrome, the Off-World colonies, and why there’s apparently no actual real-life animals left.

Dystopian fiction always works better when the event that created the dystopian ‘present’ is barely mentioned at all. For instance, how many can recall the event that creates the need for the “Battle Royale” in the novel and film of the same name, and why they take place? I’m quite confident that a good many FReepers probably could, but how many in the everyday world?

5 posted on 04/03/2013 7:40:18 AM PDT by AnAmericanAbroad (It's all bread and circuses for the future prey of the Morlocks.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Probably the best dystopian movie warning about government that I’ve seen was Demolition Man. It’s more libertarian than conservative, but is almost prophetic.

6 posted on 04/03/2013 7:43:44 AM PDT by Darren McCarty (If most people were more than keyboard warriors, we might have won the election)
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To: driftless2

As long as we NEVER EVER EVER have another American Carol in our lives, I will be happy as a clam. That was the worst film I have ever seen and I saw some bad films in my day but that was number 1 worst movie in history for me. I did love Courageous, Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and I somewhat liked Fireproof. I have them all on Amazon Instant Video.

7 posted on 04/03/2013 7:44:00 AM PDT by napscoordinator
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To: napscoordinator

Seems like American Carol tried to be a less raunchy of “Team America” that was a movie that really skewered Liberals.

8 posted on 04/03/2013 7:45:15 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Darren McCarty

be well yourself, you lack of certitude in our joy joy society reflects negativly upon your mental apreciation.


big brother loves you, please enjoy your banana brocoli smoothie...

9 posted on 04/03/2013 7:46:02 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! and
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To: SeekAndFind

The problem with these movies is the production values are generally horrible and the acting is just stiff and all around bad.

It has a low budget feel in a day and age of green screen seamless sets and unknown performers with actual acting skills.

10 posted on 04/03/2013 7:53:16 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! and
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To: longtermmemmory
Huxley: Ah, smoking is not good for you, and it has been deemed that anything not good for you is bad. Hence, illegal; alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat-

Spartan: Are you sh---ing me?

Computer: John Spartan, you are fined one credit for a violation of the verbal morality statute.

Spartan: What the hell is that?

Computer: John Spartan, you are fined one credit...

Huxley: Bad language, child play, gasoline, un-educational toys, and anything spicy. Abortion is also illegal, but then again, so is pregnancy if you don't have a license.

11 posted on 04/03/2013 7:54:22 AM PDT by Darren McCarty (If most people were more than keyboard warriors, we might have won the election)
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To: Darren McCarty

The best part was the Dennis Leary rant:

According to Cocteau’s plan, I’m the enemy, ‘cause I like to think, I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech, and freedom of choice. I’m the kinda guy that likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder, “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecue ribs with the side-order of gravy fries?” I want high cholesterol! I wanna eat bacon, and butter, and buckets of cheese, okay?! I wanna smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section! I wanna run naked through the street, with green Jell-O all over my body, reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly may feel the need to, okay, pal?

12 posted on 04/03/2013 7:56:16 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: napscoordinator
American Carol was so bad, except for the first 5-10 minutes, which had some really good slapstick and sight gags.

2016 was pretty lousy too, but a nice money grab for D'Souza.

13 posted on 04/03/2013 7:58:04 AM PDT by JacksonCalhoun (CT Yankee in NC Exile - the only swing state to flip (barely))
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To: SeekAndFind

14 posted on 04/03/2013 8:11:16 AM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: SeekAndFind

I just like a movie because I like a movie. Unless it is a docu, I could care less about the politics. Also, I’ve seen MANY a movie argued by both sides as propaganda for the other. I just don’t see this as a big deal.

15 posted on 04/03/2013 8:12:19 AM PDT by RIghtwardHo
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To: SeekAndFind
At least avowed conservatives are trying. If the conservative movement continues to try film and other media they will gain experience and become better.

The left is much better in creativity and intelligence than the right.

The conservatives are now starting to produce some fine essayists; Victor Davis Hanson comes to mind.

16 posted on 04/03/2013 8:15:05 AM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: Darren McCarty
An extremely good "messag film" It only got preachy" once and even then it was entertaining....

I'm the enemy, 'cause I like to think; I like to read. I'm into freedom of speech and freedom of choice.

I'm the kind of guy who likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder, "Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?"

I WANT high cholesterol. I wanna eat bacon and butter and BUCKETS of cheese, okay?

I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section.

I want to run through the streets naked with green Jell-o all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to, okay, pal?

I've SEEN the future. Do you know what it is? It's a 47-year-old virgin sitting around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake, singing "I'm an Oscar Meyer Wiener".

17 posted on 04/03/2013 8:19:01 AM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: SeekAndFind

I’m not sure I’d put too much credence in anything from BuzzFeed.

Any website which has an article like this:

“13 Art Tattoos That Belong In A Museum”


18 posted on 04/03/2013 8:20:59 AM PDT by BwanaNdege ("To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize"- Voltaire)
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To: SeekAndFind

A big budget conservative movie should not focus on the good, but the bad and evil.

Imagine the movie Eraserhead, for those of you who have seen it, grotesque as it is, which more than anything depicted a surreal view of life in the Soviet Union, minus the politics.

But add the politics. Depict it as a nihilistic, post-apocalyptic, thoroughly socialist view of America, complete with socialist dialectic. A dreary, black, off white and gray place, with decaying infrastructure, vicious and whimsical secret police, rampant crime and brutality, scarcity and rationing of everything. Horrific pollution, and socialism, everywhere you look, socialism.

Constant, nattering political correctness. Oppression in every way. Untold and unending misery and suffering, while bombarded by utterly deceitful propaganda and corruption.

A society in ruins, much like East Germany at the end, where even color and music were reserved to honor the state.

Everything is turned upside down. A “health care system” that only kills and cripples. A ‘Fahrenheit 451’ fire department, but not one that burns books, but instead piles of garbage and homeless people. A public reduced to slaves who show up to ‘work’, do nothing, and are paid with worthless paper. Empty shelves.

It goes on and on. And the socialist leaders spouting lies with every breath, in total denial that anything is bad at all. Denying political prisons and death camps. With 100% of the vote going to them at every election, with the public excluded from the polls by armed guards.

There is no redemption in the movie. It ends on a sour note, that “This is what socialism promises to do. Whether they call themselves socialists or not, it is what they want.”

Hopefully nobody will want to see the movie a second time.

19 posted on 04/03/2013 8:27:12 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Best WoT news at
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To: AnAmericanAbroad

Have any non-Japanese even seen/heard of Battle Royal?

20 posted on 04/03/2013 8:40:33 AM PDT by Bikkuri (Molon Labe)
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