PARKS AND RECREATION – Separating Fact from Fiction


By Stephen Poppe, Contributing Writer

It’s a low-point in American television indeed when I find myself turning to the comforting blue hue of the television guide station for relaxation. At least, I can be confident that it won’t denigrate my political beliefs or openly mock me as an ignorant conservative with some ridiculous caricature. In this TV culture which enjoys portraying Tea Party supporters as backwoods hicks and finds humor in repeatedly portraying Republicans as fat, white old men while ignoring ongoing scandals because of the political orientation of the current administration in the White House, I’m finding it harder and harder to watch television without repeatedly finding offense in the portrayal of the those who hold conservative values.

The latest culprit of this type of infuriating propaganda is NBC’s hit comedy PARKS AND RECREATION. A sitcom set in the background of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, the program follows a cast of bureaucrats working in the town’s Parks and Recreation department led by Amy Poehler, who plays a passionate, yet quirky Gov’t official named Leslie Knope, and Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson, a libertarian anti-government official. An over the top idealist, Leslie is the quirky heroine of the story who battles government inefficiencies, takes on corrupt politicians, and with impressive subtlety and in spite of her obvious lack of bureaucratic competence, gets the audience to buy in to her as the defender of “proper government.”

While some might argue that any type of analysis done about PARKS AND RECREATION is an over-allocation of brain power for a show that still appreciates fart jokes, the program’s politically motivated undertones are another example of how subtle messages tucked away in humorous little packages are eating away at the core principles of the conservative message in America. Never was this more evident than in a recent PARKS AND RECREATION episode titled “Article Two,” where Leslie’s agenda to clean up “racist” aspects of the towns “archaic” constitution was derailed by a tradition loving, libertarian character played by Patton Oswalt. A few examples of the fictional laws that brought about this effort was a law against women raising their voice to men, a statute confining menstruating women to their bathtubs, and property seizure rights by white men from Indians.  This is obviously fictional and humorous, but perhaps not so innocent as it seems.

The storyline’s intent is truly revealed when the opponent of these glaringly necessary changes is revealed as the staunch conservative played by Oswalt. He goes on to defend the inherency of the “Pawnee Charter” by filibustering Leslie’s attempt repeal these laws. Void of any real logic, his argument appeals to the traditionalist by claiming the Charter “shall not be changed, not today, not ever.” While the episode was entertaining, one can’t help but compare his backward approach to progress with the ongoing national debate about conserving the principles of the United States Constitution held by the Tea Party, Republicans, Libertarians, or whatever name one chooses to give the conservative base. The subtle narrative being implanted by this little exchange is that constitutionalists are opposed to progress as a principal and are too entrenched in archaic ideas to embrace “progress,” even when it’s so desperately needed.  Alone, this caricature might be passed off as a mere misrepresentation. However, when combined with a similar portrayal of conservatives in other forums such as SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, Jon Stewart program on Comedy Central, and other programs, one begins to understand the shaping of a national narrative that is not only openly anti-conservative but also opposed to the constitutional principles that helped America defeat the national socialists leading Germany and Japan in World War II and the Soviet Union’s socialist oppression of Eastern Europe.

How did we get here? The power in such politically correct messages is only truly realized when received by the largely ignorant masses who, whipped into obedience by a government-controlled and dumbed-down education system, seem to lack the ability to think critically on their own. Sadly, this is an increasingly legitimate problem, and accurately describes the masses of America today. For example, a recent study by the ICPMA (International Center for Media and Public Agenda) revealed that an increasingly large percentage of the Generation X, Y, and Z demographic are getting their news through social media, and news parodies such as Jon Stewart and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. This not only reflects the inability of the public to distinguish fact from opinion. It also illustrates the incredible power that the mass media in America has in shaping the national narrative on key social issues. Thus, by default, a small number of extreme liberal minds in key media positions begin to shape the minds and worldview of millions.

Where does America go from here? Many of the keys to this culture war lies in creating a conservative base in Hollywood to challenge the industry’s inaccurate portrayal of conservatives. From there, the debate will need to be taken into our communities, forcing Americans to then understand the views of their parties fighting for their votes instead of relying on propaganda videos around election time.

America is what it is because its citizens were informed and emboldened by their principles and, therefore, were willing to challenge the status quo. To stay true to that blueprint, America requires an informed populace.

So, while we may laugh and enjoy shows like SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and PARKS AND RECREATION, one might smile a little less knowing that millions of people are absorbing the jokes and false caricatures as representations of reality. In order to make intelligent decisions and better choices when they vote, Americans will have to be ever more vigilant to ferret out the facts from the leftist fiction that too often makes its way into the deluge of information and entertainment called TV.