When it was owned by GE -- a company with billions of dollars invested in subsidy-dependent alternative energy technologies -- NBC began its "Green Week," seven days of sitcoms, sports shows and even news programs doing their part for the cause. There was nary a word of protest from TV critics or supposedly independent writers and producers about the corruption of art. I wonder, if Fox announced a "pro-life week," whether the same crowd would yawn as conspicuously.
In the book, "Primetime Propaganda," author Ben Shapiro quotes many TV producers boasting about blacklisting conservative actors and shilling for liberal issues. As Shapiro notes, perhaps no figure was more upfront -- or successful -- at yoking art to political proselytizing than Norman Lear, the creator of "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons" and other shows.
Which is fitting. Last fall, the California Endowment, which is spending millions to promote the Affordable Care Act, gave $500,000 to the Norman Lear Center at USC to work on ways to get Hollywood to do its part. In February, the center will cosponsor with the Writer's Guild of America an event in New York titled "The Affordable Care Act: Comedy, Drama & Reality," about portraying Obamacare in TV and film. The Obama administration, naturally, will be sending an emissary to help.
It's doubtful this will have any significant effect. The rollout has made its impression, and the changes wrought by Obamacare in the individual lives of millions of Americans won't be erased by a very special episode of "The Big Bang Theory." But it's a useful reminder that Hollywood is always eager to lend its services -- for the right president.