This effort to extend the 1619 reeducation program into popular culture is particularly dangerous because stories have the power to change minds through emotion instead of reason.
Oprah Winfrey is partnering with Lionsgate to turn The New York Times’s 1619 Project into feature films and television programs.
The 1619 Project is a series of essays and multimedia creations produced by The New York Times and one of their leading writers, Nikole Hannah-Jones. The purpose of the project is to reframe American history by claiming that America’s founding is based on racism instead of equality and liberty. Hannah-Jones’ goal in creating the project was to show how slavery and racism have had a lasting effect on all of America’s institutions.
Much of the 1619Project is repackaged critical race theory, which argues that America and its laws, systems, and institutions are innately racist. This effort to extend The New York Times’s reeducation program into popular culture is particularly dangerous because stories have the power to change minds through emotion instead of reason.
The campaign to legalize gay marriage is a perfect case study in how entertainment can change the minds of a generation on a particular topic more quickly than any legislation or social protest movement. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2004 polls showed that 60 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage privileges, but by 2019 that number shrank to 31 percent.
Many social scientists agree it was the growing visibility of gay people in popular culture that was responsible for the shift, reports the Washington Post. Once people began to relate to and feel compassion for either fictional gay characters on shows like “Will and Grace” or actual gay people like Ellen DeGeneres, it wasn’t long before their minds swayed on related policies.
This is the power of pop culture. As is often said, it is more important to write the songs of a nation than its laws. As historian Wilfred McClay writes in “Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story,” “We need stories to speak to the fullness of our humanity and help us orient ourselves in the world. The impulse to write history and organize our world around stories is intrinsic to us as human beings. We are at our core, remembering and story-making creatures, and stories are one of the chief ways we find meaning in the flow of events.”
This is why turning the 1619 Project into film and television is so dangerous. It will teach Americans the falsehoods that their nation was founded on racism and oppression and that every institution they’ve trusted has been built on the same.
Changing American Minds on History
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said, “For many Americans, ‘The 1619 Project’ was a great awakening and a true history that you probably never learned in school.” Two Lionsgate chairmen applauded the 1619 Project for “challenging the entire history we thought we knew, revealing the true role of slavery and the impact of racial prejudice in shaping the America of today.”
Oprah also praised the project: “From the first moment I read ‘The 1619 Project’ and immersed myself in Nikole Hannah-Jones’s transformative work, I was moved, deepened and strengthened by her empowering historical analysis.”
Unmentioned by any of the above is that one of the project’s key historical claims, that the Revolutionary War was fought to preserve the slave system, had to be corrected or that numerous renowned historians have criticized the project for relying more on an ideological narrative than on historical fact. Like Howard Zinn before her, Hannah-Jones chose a narrative and then bent bits and pieces of facts to fit into it.
Turning the 1619 Project’s debunked history into film could set the narrative on American history for decades. Most Americans do not fact-check the films they watch. Destroying American heroes in film and on television by overemphasizing their flaws and underemphasizing their contributions will do more to demoralize American patriotism than any statue toppling.
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Libturd Thursday ~ Martini Edition Great memes here.