Washington -- Many of the discussions at the CPAC 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference have centered the pros and cons of the prospective Republican presidential nominees. However, some believe that the cultural war against liberalism is actually more important than whether Mitt Romney can defeat Democratic President Barack Obama on Nov. 6.
Syndicated columnist and best-selling author Ben Shapiro told attendees on Friday that the cultural war is the most important battle right now -- and one that conservatives are losing badly.
If you want to change people's opinion, culture matters, Shapiro said. Story matters. Narrative matters. Culture matters. ... When Hollywood does something, the American public follows.
Shapiro was joined by television game-show host Chuck Woolery and conservative filmmaker Steve Bannon to discuss some of the big issues within Hollywood. The panel -- titled Does Hollywood Still Embrace American Exceptionalism? -- took a hard look at many of the issues issues that conservatives in the entertainment business must face.
Woolery, best known for hosting Wheel of Fortune and Love Connection, said that he would not have become well known if he was out as a conservative at the beginning of his career. He told one supporter after the show that no one would have ever known about Woolery had he made his political beliefs known while initially pursuing work in the 1960s.
Woolery likened his situation in Hollywood to being a pair of brown shoes in a tuxedo world. There are certainly conservatives in Hollywood -- fellow game-show host Pat Sajak is one of them -- but one of the issues, according to Shapiro, is that because the opportunities are few and far between, the filmmakers make it way too overtly conservative.
One of the problems with conservative Hollywood is the movies we tend to make are openly conservative, he said. The best conservative movies are 'Toy Story 3' and 'The Dark Knight' because people don't know it's conservative.
He said that American Idol was an inherently conservative show because there's no affirmative action and that similar shows appeal to the largely untapped conservative television-viewing audience. Panel participants contended there is a lot of money to be made by appealing to that demographic, but many have ignored it.
Fox News smartly realized that there was a place for a right-leaning television channel and emerged as the top cable news channel, one participant said. Filmmakers have that same opportunity, but need to be willing to take a chance.
Otherwise, the void of conservative movies could permanently alter the country for the worse, said one panelist.
We're losing our country, Bannon said. We're losing the culture that made it great.