In last year’s Independence Day post, I offered a playlist of my favorite Liberty-themed songs. This year, it’s going to be a brief, issue-focused post for me, as what I want most is to direct readers’ attention to a very important but uncertain new initiative:

Bill Whittle, PJTV commentator who first gained admiration and notoriety for his brilliant and eminently worthwhile “Silent America” Essays, has chosen July 4th, 2010 to launch “Declaration Entertainment”. By all means, watch this 4½-minute welcome video that explains what it’s all about:

See Bill’s 3-minute “Pioneers” video for more.

Pipe dream? Perhaps. Can it work? I honestly don’t know. But Bill has a plan, and he’s doing something, and while I hold out great hope that his idea will succeed tremendously, I greatly admire his initiative independent of the result. Because to me, this really matters.

Many of us have watched with increasing despair over the years, as the Hollywood we thought we knew growing up — one whose craft once promoted and unabashedly celebrated classically American values such as optimism, confidence, self-reliance, entrepreneurship, and heroism (including the heroism of American soldiers who risked everything fighting for the freedom of others) — has gradually transformed into the preeminent domestic broadcaster of anti-Americanism, social criticism, ambivalence, nihilism, and ennui. From the content it now produces to the invective its glitterati deliver from the pulpits of self-congratulatory awards ceremonies, Hollywood has mainstreamed the culture of shame, cynicism, social criticism, and self-loathing that was once largely the preoccupation of a small, bitter niche of radical-left academia.

Those of us who’ve felt this despair have realized that today’s Hollywood does not speak for us, our values, or our outlook. We’ve felt helpless to do anything but stop buying a product that routinely insults and vilifies us. Yet, for reasons that Declaration Entertainment’s introductory video explains, this strategy of passive withdrawal exerts no significant economic influence on the content that a now internationally-funded Hollywood produces, for what has become first and foremost a worldwide audience. I believe we’ll learn that it’s not enough to economically reject repellent content and its Hollywood creators. We ultimately need to find other ways of getting our own movies made, of producing and promoting alternative content that positively reflects our values and confidence in our culture.

Remember when School House Rock distilled the essence of the American Idea into educational and genuinely celebratory Saturday morning shorts such as “No More Kings”, “The Shot Heard Round the World”, “Elbow Room”, “The Preamble”, “Sufferin’ ‘til Suffrage”, and “Fireworks”? Watch them again (or most anything else of that era), with the eyes of 2010, and think long and hard about the tremendous change that’s occurred in our popular culture. Can you imagine educational shorts like these being produced and broadcast today? Why not? Would you ever, back in those days, have predicted such a transformation of attitudes?

It’s not supposed to be like this.

We have a choice.

If we care enough, we can usher in a new Renaissance of the American Idea.

Bill’s ambitious plan for “Declaration Entertainment” could, I sincerely hope, be the start of that.

Remember when we believed in us:

ps – Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you: Go enjoy some uplifting music!