It’s My Party, and I’ll Culture If I Want To


Photo by Andrew Becraft — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Have you ever had the sneaking impression that cultural events are attractive to only one side of the political spectrum?

Well, now we know there is a built-in preference for culture based on an audience’s political philosophy.

As covered this week in Fest News, a recent five month poll in America sponsored by the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School and conducted by the company Zogby International breaks down an audience’s culture choices based on their politics.

Conservatives avoid entertainment in “bad taste”; they are not fans of contemporary music, although they do listen to country and gospel; if they go to movies they are going to go to action-adventure flicks; and, they love American football and car racing.

Liberals like a lot of different types of entertainment, although they are not fans of reality and game shows on television; preference in movies is for comedies, although they like to have political themes in all of their entertainment; while they, too, love American football, they are also more likely to appreciate soccer (i.e. football everywhere else); and, they listen to all kinds of music, except country.

Moderates are fans of all types of television, especially reality and game shows, soap operas and police dramas. Rock music is their favorite kind of music. They try to avoid entertainment that is about politics or current events, but they do love self-help books.

Liberals are almost twice as likely as conservatives to read literary fiction, and they read more science fiction/fantasy than moderates. They are also the least likely to read self-help books. Moderates, though, read the most mysteries and thrillers.

Liberals are much more likely to go to theatre, museums and galleries, while Conservatives are more likely to choose a sporting event.

The poll’s audience sample had 39% conservative, 39% liberal, and 24% moderate participants.

Want to maximize an audience for live performance? You should know two things: Classical music works well across all political tastes; and, liberals are much more likely than conservatives to take in entertainment with which they philosophically disagree. This means that the biggest audience would be for a classical music work with strong conservative views — conservatives and liberals will all be there.

The winner is Wagner — performed in a football stadium.

- Bill Reichblum

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