Because we're all activists, now…

Screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi has taken the time to write a little primer-of-sorts, on what Hollywood knows about delivering a message and influencing thinking. It’s very insightful and I’m thinking the Army of Davids, the Tea Party, the nation full of newly-hatched activists and fledgling politicians could use a little “inside baseball” information to help them do battle with the Goliaths!

Here is what Barbara says about getting the message out:

For nearly one hundred years, the Hollywood-based entertainment industry has been perfecting methods of getting and sustaining the attention and focus of the global audience. There are principles for communicating effectively that go back to the ancient Greeks, and they can be gleaned from Hollywood’s experience. Sadly, many people of religious faith tend to dismiss entertainment as frivolous or exploitive. This is muddled thinking. “Entertainment” simply refers to the effort to satisfy and engage human nature by appealing to the emotions. We have entertained whenever we have made people feel. Once we have them feeling, we can move them toward caring and thinking.

It is a mistake to not take into consideration the entertainment value of every message that we create. We who are creating political or spiritual messages should ask ourselves some of the questions that Hollywood asks, like these:

1. Why will the audience care about this?
2. How will we engage the audience’s attention with this piece?
3. What is the core, defining theme of this piece?
4. What should our tone be in this message?
5. How do we want the audience to feel at the end of this piece?

Take some cues from the industry that knows how to communicate strategically.

This is well worth reading. A good little primer to work from, as we prepare for the next round of campaigns and protests, and microphones and cameras are all around.

It feels really bad out there. It feels like a planned and orderly plunge into disorientation, doesn’t it? I used to listen to the whackadoo left proclaim that “Bush is going to throw the country into chaos and then declare martial law and suspend elections” and I’d shake my head. But darn it if I don’t read the headlines, and see the lack of jobs, the “new way” of thinking about employment numbers, the cries from Geithner for “more” money, the seeming intent of the White House to shut down the government rather than actually try to effect the “change” necessary to keep that from happening; the staggering incoherence, the twisting of reality, the unwillingness to get serious, apparent scheming by our lawmakers, the fecklessness of politicians who can’t move beyond the expedient, thoughtless moment, that lack of hope, and I wonder: is chaos, in fact, the goal, after all?

I’ve been thinking for a while that Obama does not act like a president who expects to ever have to actually win an election again. He is so unresponsive to anything but his own vision, and his vision is so incomprehensible — let’s support Brazil’s oil drilling, but not our own! (No, why would we want to do that, and create some jobs?) We want to buy our oil from them! — and his distortions so non-stop (we’re drilling more, or we’re going to, but we’re not really approving those permits) that I don’t know what to think, anymore. But when people say formerly outlandish things, like “he is fomenting chaos so he can declare martial law,” anymore…I’m not just shaking my head and dismissing it.

I mean, everything else that was accused of Bush has turned out to be true in Obama — why not the “martial law” meme?

It’s just about 150 years since the start of The Civil War. It feels like something equally as devastating is coming to America, again. It may not have us fighting in the streets, but the crumbling of a nation may still be effected. And I begin to wonder if some are working toward precisely that aim.

Learning from the Man of Sorrows

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mandy P.

    I know exactly what you mean. I feel like I’m living in bizzaro world.everything that our government is doing right now is so crazy that you almost feel nuts just trying to describe it all.

  • Lisa

    I had never, ever bought into conspiracy theories…. until the 2008 election. My husband had thought I had gone off the deep end, but I kept on insisting that “the puzzle pieces of reality do not fit!”

    My husband was finishing out 20 years of active/reserve duty during the campaign; every time I drove through the Fort Dix gate I would break down in tears knowing that Obama was friends with Bill Ayers and knowing that our own family members would likely vote for him. How do fight willful ignorance?

    If you stop giving O the benefit of the doubt and believe the demise is on purpose… the pieces of reality fit.

  • DeLynn

    I used to not believe people who thought BHO was purposeful in the actions he took that seemed to be so detrimental for our country. I have changed my mind.

  • Mutnodjmet

    Anchoress: I wish I could have a pint of Guinness and talk with you about all these matters in person. As you know, I have been a very active member of the Tea Party for quite some time — but have become disheartened, as it seems our representatives don’t desire to do what is right and best for the public they serve. They seem to only want to relish in the power and glory of their positions, and reward their supporters.

    Good citizens who confront bureaucrats with the truth, and attempt to correct misguided policies, are punished with the full force of state power.

    I think of this as a “civics war” — the struggle between the politically connected and protected, versus the average, tax-paying American. It is very frightening to realize that few representatives in Washington seem to really understand basic economic principles, and feel they can lavish perks without considering how hard Americans work for the tax dollars so recklessly spent.

    I find myself praying for grace, wisdom and energy in all my citizen activism. Thank you for your faith and inspiration, upon which I draw so frequently. I must admit, I am frightened — especially after seeing the tactics employed against Tea Party participants in Wisconsin by union thugs. I sense I will be praying more frequently in the days to come.

  • Jen

    “It’s just about 150 years since the start of The Civil War. It feels like something equally as devastating is coming to America, again. ”

    I agree completely, and I’ve been having that same thought for a long time. But I’m not so sure there won’t be blood in the streets.

  • Peggy Coffey

    I get on Drudge every morning and scan the headlines and drink my coffee. This past week, I have decided the world has gone mad and there isn’t anything we can do about it. I do believe Obama has an evil agenda in mind for the country, he doesn’t care what we think about anything. But we can’t stop him because of the brain dead supporters who would defend him to the death. I am to the point that I think we need something horrific to happen to wake us all up. But I am afraid of what Obama would do if something did happpen. We are left to watch and wait.

  • Dan

    It wasn’t just the whacked-out, far-left that was foaming at the mouth about Bush’s policies, recall some of the well known writers chiming in at various Catholic blogs who went over the edge about the removal of Saddam Hussein, and his regime of rapists.

  • Manny

    And don’t forget the whole abortion issue. Reducing the size and scope of government is priority one, but making abortion illegal, or at least rare, is priority number two for me.

    I know right now everything this administration does is so incomprehensible, but I do not think we are headed for a civil war. But we need to gather all our resources and make Obama a one termer. His defeat in 2012 is the key event that will enable us to bring to fruition both priorities. Or at least make headway toward them.

  • W8kwses

    I would agree the Administration is not doing a good job of getting a message out … but I would disagree that the Administration is in any sense evil …

    Currently the nation has a bad debt situation, but I do not think that the expense of fixing it should fall upon those least able to pay … I am disgusted that all the conversation about budget seemingly ignores the revenue side. The Bush folks cut taxes in the belief (maybe) that growth would result which would replace the revenue lost. Unfortunately, that last proposition has been very much proved wrong in experience.

    We need to raise taxes, pure and simple, to pay the bills. Why is that not even on the table?

    We need to maintain programs for seniors and the poor, elemental Christianity that. We need to note that the Japanese nuclear plant situation, the Southwest Airlines aircraft maintenance/inspection issues, not to mention the great oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, indicate that the private and the rich are not to be left to do whatever in their own sweet minds they wish to do. Government regulation of the quality of private endeavor’s externalities is vital.

    Medicare and Social Security are vital.

    Dumping everything onto the private sector is a political payoff, and a very bad idea.Cutting corners is profitable. We do not need to leave everything to private discretion. We had that world in the latter half of the 1800′s, and spent much of the 1900′s undoing the damage done in those 1800′s.

  • sam

    I have thought the same thing since our current President was elected and always came here to you for a voice of reason and hope…scares me to think that you are thinking the same thing now…

  • James


    You are not paying attention. We could tax at 100% and the politicians would still spend more than we send them. Christ said nothing about the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor. That responsibility belongs to us. Expecting the government to take care of the poor is not a way to releave us from our Christian responsibilities.

  • Rebecca Balmes

    I advise taking a giant step back from the news cycle, or at least commentary on the news cycle, and re-reading Ecclesiastes. That’s been what has been returning me to calm and sanity this Lent, and I may never go back to being a newshound! :)

  • Sue from Buffalo


    The more taxes are raised, the less motivation there will be to work. I used to be a private piano teacher. I charged $11 a half hour lesson a few years ago. (Now they charge $16). I won’t teach now except for my own kids because the taxes they take out of me just isn’t worth it.

    At one time I taught 47 students every week. Sounds like great money until you count your change at the end of the day. New York State: empty your wallet at the border.

    Also, if the govt spends so much on programs, why would anyone donate to charity? Because of govt programs the level of entitlement has skyrocketed and people who would normally donate (and thereby increase their own charity of heart) just count on the govt to do the work. And we all know just how well the govt does that.

    I’m not counting on the govt to do the right thing. I suspect that we’re all headed for a big old chastisement.
    We’ve had abortion too long and that has hardened the hearts of way too many.

  • Lisa

    “but I would disagree that the Administration is in any sense evil”

    Obama’s friend Bill Ayers attempted to bomb Ft. Dix and kill the soldiers that defend our nation and their families. Like I said; How do you fight willful ignorance?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    “Elemental Christianity” is giving charity out of our own pockets—not forcing others to do it, and not handing money over blindly to the government.

    Sadly, raising taxes will only result in—yet more taxes. They won’t be used to pay off the national debt (though they will be used for more pointless things such as our “kinetic action” in Libya, and propping up Islamic governments in Afghanistan, and Iraq.)

    And please. . . enough with blaming Bush.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, Sue—more taxes, less motive to work and fewer and fewer “rich” people, who can actually afford to pay said taxes.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As you said, Sue, I believe abortion has hardened our hearts.

  • CTM


    Nobody implied that the administration has a messaging problem. It’s their actions that are incomprehensible.

    Obama’s spending has tripled the deficit, and our debt, now at $14.27 trillion, is unsustainable.

    The tax cuts have now been extended for about four months, thus giving businesses some assurance of stability. There has been slow economic growth and job creation, but unknown health care costs still cause concern, hence all the requests for waivers.

    Common sense tells us that we cannot tax our way out of this economic mess. Revenues will increase as businesses grow and create jobs, not through taxing and spending. There will be no money for any programs if the economy collapses.

    Please listen to Paul Ryan’s presentation from earlier today – he offers a way forward.

  • CTM

    Anchoress, I just read this article at National Review that may address some of your concerns. It’s about Obama’s closest National Security adviser, another of his stealth appointments we know so little about.

    Unfortunately, it will probably not relieve that sense of unease so many of us are experiencing.

    “Samantha Power’s Power”
    On the ideology of an Obama adviser
    by Stanley Kurtz

    “A member of the president’s National Security Council who shares Noam Chomsky’s foreign-policy goals? An influential presidential adviser whom 1960s revolutionary Tom Hayden treats as a fellow radical? A White House official who wrote a book aiming to turn an anti-American, anti-Israel, Marxist-inspired, world-government-loving United Nations bureaucrat into a popular hero? Samantha Power, senior director of multilateral affairs for the National Security Council and perhaps the principal architect of our current intervention in Libya, is all of these things.”

    “On rare occasions, Power comes straight out and admits that the sorts of interventions she favors constitute an almost pure cost to American national interest, traditionally defined. More often, she retreats into the language of “pragmatism” and “self-interest” to justify what she knows Americans will not support on its own terms. That is Samantha Power’s way and, not coincidentally, Barack Obama’s way as well.

    At some point, after we’ve all done our best to fit the president’s puzzling Libyan adventure into our accustomed conceptual frameworks, we just might wake up and discover what has been going on behind the curtain. When we do, the answer will be found in the writings of Samantha Power.”

    Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the author of Radical-in-Chief

  • Manny

    James in Post #11 and Sue in Post #13:
    Right on. The act of taking taxes is one that creates anger and hate; the act of charity is one that engenders love. Tax collectors were not endeared in the bible; giving alms is raised to reverence. Those that put forth that Christ was a socialist have it all wrong.

  • Lori

    I still cling to the notion that, when you get right down to it, Obama just isn’t that smart. He can read off a teleprompter, but without it he’s not such a great speaker, and he seems to be a pretty muddy thinker too … and someone who has a hard time buckling down to the work the Presidency requires. It’s hard for me to believe that someone like this could be behind some vast left-wing conspiracy to take down America.

  • Dan

    Obama is PAINFULLY provincial. Get him beyond the politics of race and retaliation and he quickly demonstrates as much.

    He isn’t an intellectual per se, rather he imitates the mannerisms of intellectuals, and shares their faddish fixations, such as climate control, race, class and gender.

    A mental cul-de-sac if there ever was one.

    Who here thinks the guy ever perused Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic war, {De Bello Gallico}? Count on him to follow the “works” of a Spike Lee, not the Red Wheel cycle of a Solzhenitsyn.

    Some of us saw it from the start.

    But others, unhinged by America pursuing her enemies in the Middle East, supported the Obama candidacy, either openly, or working to depress the Catholic vote for McCain.

    And some of those creatures are very well known.

  • ricki

    I also think we as a society have reached a point where the get-something-for-nothing mentality is in sway. A lot of people seem to think working for a living is for “chumps” and that there’s no value in doing a task well for its own sake. They happily take governmental handouts, not thinking (or, perhaps, not caring) about where the money for that comes from, and what may happen in the future.

    It’s one thing to give voluntarily to charity (I suspect most, if not all of us, reading here, do). It’s another to have more and more money forcibly taken for programs you might not choose to support, and to be told the money’s being taken for your own good.

    I’ve had a feeling of “there’s another big shoe going to drop” off and on since fall 2001. I tell myself there’s nothing I can really do other than pray that things work out and try to take care of my own needs (by doing things like planning a garden and making sure I have food on hand). But I foresee bad inflation, high gas prices, and lots more misery before things get better. I’m just kind of pessimistic about things right now.

  • Dan

    Obama is going to go down as, probably, the worst President; and there’s very little chance he can avoid that grim destiny.

  • Doc

    Obama is entirely a creation of the corporate media. Without them supplying his wings, he never would’ve beaten McCain, a guy who couldn’t wait to give a well-received concession speech. Perhaps we ought to nominate someone who actually will do what it takes to win this time. Challenge the talking heads on ABCNNBCBS and shove their Obama-love back in their face.

  • Greta

    Nothing can be made clean again as long as the USA lives in a culture of death. The blood of over 50 million slaughtered innocents haunts this land the same way 6 million Jews haunts the world to this day. End abortion and we will see a massive change in the country.

    We are the problem for either voting for those who keep abortion legal and defended, sitting silent and not voting, or trying to justify our vote on issues which somehow in our mind we find porportional to 50 million plus dead babies. We support spending money we do not have. We support the gay lifestyle and now force this on our soldiers in time of war as if serving openly in that lifestyle choice is somehow normal or equal. The sad fact is that we have a very evil political party that has been evil since it was founded. Democrats supported slavery, fought to keep it and expand it even going to civil war. After the war, the same democratic party did everything possible including the use of terror, church burnings, and lynching to deny rights to African Americans and continued to do so for almost 100 years after the war. When finally defeated, they suddenly found abortion and attached as firmly to that as they did not slavery. They will go to any means necessary to keep that legal and funded. does anyone believe it is a coincidence that the party of slavery now has the abortion mills they support killing a very high percentage of African American babies? They were willing to kill their pride and joy legislation of ObamaCare rather than agree to an amendment stating no funds can be used for abortion. Only a lie by the president to give fig leaf to democrats pushing to control abortion saved it from defeat.

    On the two largest moral issues of our country, slavery and abortion, the democratic party has been in extreme in its support of both. How does anyone with a conscience support this party??

  • Terrye

    I agree. It is all so unsettling and strange. I have no idea what to expect next.

  • Terrye


    The US is not the only country in the world in which abortion is legal. It is ridiculous to compare us to the nazis.

  • alexandrag

    Pray without ceasing; believe without doubt. Pray for the spinners, sinners, and the whole world. Keep an eye on the spin and respond when you must, but keep your focus on God. We are in the second half of Lent, two more weeks of Lent and then Holy Week and Easter. The spinners are spinning mightily away. The Truth will always prevail. The Truth may not prevail in the time we want or expect, but it will always prevail. The church is calling us in this penitential season to examine ourselves. The spinners are calling us to be distracted. Don’t let the spinners ruin Lent by distracting us from the ultimate focus and desire of our hearts.

  • Dan


    dead right on McCain, a “guy who couldn’t wait to give a well-received concession speech,” a perfect turn of phrase that, and so deadly accurate as to be likened to a rhetorical bunker-buster.