Libertarianism in Pop Culture
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There is no shortage of “libertarian books,” whether you mean fiction works like Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, and any of Heinlein’s sci-fi, or more academic non-fiction texts like Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, Mises’ Human Action, or Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom.
How many of you became libertarians because someone handed you a book to read?
I didn’t. I don’t remember when a “libertarian switch” turned on, but I do remember when former talk-radio host Neal Boortz shared that my political philosophy had a name… libertarian.
Libertarians recognize that every individual is different. To me, that means that what opens one person’s mind to libertarianism may not work with another. Each individual’s path to libertarianism is different, and I think that many can be reached by the “normalization” of libertarianism and libertarians in popular culture.
As with any change to the status quo, a political change happens behind the wave of change in popular opinion. Popular culture plays a large role in that, and we are on track to have libertarian thought remain a part of that conversation.
There is a wave of anti-authoritarian messaging in many popular teen novels that became blockbuster movies like The Hunger Games and Divergent series with strong female leads like Katniss and Tris exercising independent will and standing up to tyrannical central authorities. We see similar messaging in animated films like The LEGO Movie (which I LOVE) and The Nut Job for younger audiences.
Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson was a libertarian hero for many, and Community’s Jeff Winger and Californication’s Hank Moody both self-identified as libertarians. One of the longest running and most consistent libertarian television shows began my senior year of high school, South Park. On a recent flight, I even read this book about the libertarian lessons the show contains, which begins its 19th season next month.
The stand-up comedy world also features Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan, while actors like Vince Vaughn, Dax Shepard, and Glenn Jacobs recently “came out” as libertarian thinkers. Recently, musicians Big Boi (from the hip hop group, OutKast), country music singer Kacey Musgraves, and Aimee Allen released songs with strong libertarian messages. Former MTV VJs Kennedy and Kurt Loder mix pop culture and political leanings for Reason and Fox Business, respectively.
We’ve collected quite a few libertarian celebrities here, and we plan to update that list shortly with many new additions this fall.
It’s a start, and we have a long way to go, but there’s hope still with all of the non-political avenues noted above that we can reach and recruit new libertarians. Let’s make sure we support the artists and commentators that share our views to keep them in the public eye.
Will you commit to that with me?