If only 12 Years a Slave (or Roots, or any other wrenching American slave narrative) could move audiences beyond those already eager for a dose of feel-good shame.
...Which leads to the more important question: Could this film possibly preach to the unconverted? Could it reach Americans who at this late date, in the 21st century, still haven’t gotten Stowe’s message? Will it even be seen by any of the millions who swear by Glenn Beck? This question might be asked of all the recent movies that touch upon America’s unfinished racial business: Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, and Fruitvale Station, as well as Django and Lincoln.
Liberals are fond of chastising the right (accurately) for living in a media echo chamber of Rush and Drudge by day and Fox News by night, with no other reality penetrating the bubble. The left has never been able to replicate that mass-media ecosystem; an exclusive diet of, say, the Times and NPR would be far more porous to contrary views than 24/7 of Fox and friends. But whenever mainstream media start gushing en masse about a cultural work with an uplifting historical or political message, a smaller liberal echo chamber does spring up that I’ve at times been part of: We tend to assume that a wide audience will be converted by the power of the new masterpiece at hand, especially under the tutelage of critics, editorial pages, magazine cover stories, and awards ceremonies. Much as the right can convince itself that all of America must regard Obamacare as the worst piece of legislative blight in the country’s history, or that easy access to guns is a God-given right tantamount to freedom of speech, so liberals can become prisoners of our own bubble.