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Cultural Winners and Losers of 2019

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

As we end another year, our popular culture still revolves around President Donald Trump, and our news and entertainment conglomerates continue to be outraged that conservative Christians stick with him, so much so they are summarily ignored. Support him as, say, Franklin Graham and a vast majority of evangelicals have done and ... crickets. But what happens when evangelicals don't?

Happy days are here again. The left has lunged to promote an editorial by Christianity Today magazine that insists Trump must be removed from office. What the left understands -- and some on the right still ignore -- is that the cultural is far more powerful than the political. Thus, whenever a force on the cultural left flaps its wings, it is saluted. In the rare occasion that the entity advances the cultural right, it's slammed, or ignored.

But that's not necessarily how America sees it, thanks to social media that has done an end run around the press and told the truth. The left still dominates in the cultural space, but it no longer enjoys a monopoly.

Let's look at the cultural winners and losers of 2019:

Loser: Jussie Smollett, the "Empire" actor and Hollywood race hoaxer who cost the taxpayers of Chicago more than $130,000 for all the time it took police to look for a nonexistent hate crime. Nothing says viral like a black gay celebrity claiming he was beaten by red-hatted Trumpster thugs. For two weeks, the left went nuts. Celebrities, politicians and the "news" media convicted Trump World for what it had allegedly caused. And it never happened. And now all of America knows it.

Winners: the students of Covington Catholic High School. Speaking of viral sensations of "fake news" around Trump hats, these high school kids were smeared relentlessly for several days for allegedly making evil smirks at a Native American activist. But the Diocese of Covington launched an investigation and found "no evidence of offensive or racist statements." Again it was social media that spread the word to tens of millions across the country about the wrong done to the students. They were vindicated in the court of public opinion.

Winner: "Unplanned," the movie about Abby Johnson, who converted from Planned Parenthood clinic director to conservative Catholic activist. Major music labels refused to license songs for it. Cable-news channels refused to run ads for it. Newspaper film critics refused to review it. And yet the little film became the talk of social media. What Pure Flix delivered has done more to advance the pro-life cause than the National Right to Life Committee has accomplished in the past three decades.

Loser: the abortion industry. In September, the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute estimated that there were about 862,000 abortions in 2017, nearly 200,000 fewer than in 2011. The abortion rate -- the number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 -- dropped to 13.5 in 2017, the lowest rate since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973.

Loser: Gillette. In January, NPR touted a Gillette ad that attacked its own consumers. "The first half of the ad portrays males as boorish, sexually harassing women, mansplaining and bullying," NPR reported. It probably saw the ad as an anti-Trump message. The second half of the ad insisted men must change. The ad went viral. Then, Gillette dug in deeper. Shortly before Father's Day, the company launched an ad about a dad teaching his "son" -- a biological girl -- how to shave. Sales tanked. But the company claimed it wasn't the ads. It blamed "lower shaving frequency."

Loser: The Walt Disney Studios. It dominated the top-grossing movies, but superhero flicks like "Avengers: Endgame" and "Captain Marvel" pandered aerobically to feminists. And for all that energy, leftist sites like Slate still bashed the movies for being "too patronizing, too late." Why bother messing with superheroes?

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog

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