No, I’m not talking about America; I’m talking about the downtrodden eateries featured on Food Network’s awesome reality show “Restaurant: Impossible”. The show gives veteran chef, restauranteur, and all-around badass Robert Irvine a tiny $10,000 budget and an insane two day time-limit to diagnose, rehabilitate, renovate and relaunch some of the rattiest food-stops in the country.
That makes for some good TV right there, but why am I talking about it? This is a political website, for crying out loud! This doesn’t have anything to do with politics!
Ah, but culture resides upstream of politics, and itdoes speak to culture. Not only does it speak to culture, it speaks to conservative culture. See, Irvine doesn’t go into these restaurants trying to make friends; he goes into them with the goal of salvaging broken businesses and making them viable – with or without assistance from the owners. In fact, as much as the show focuses on changing the restaurant’s menu and décor, the real value that Irvine brings to these businesses is his ability to brusquely penetrate the hearts and minds of almost-uniformly-hardheaded proprietors, restore their sense of pride, and change the way they think about business.
And that changes how the audience thinks about business.
Restaurant: Impossible provides a window into the struggles of maintaining a small business, a window that is of enormous value to the conservative cause. The questions Irvine asks the owners can be educational and new to those in other areas of the political spectrum, but they are quite familiar to conservatives: What are we spending money on, and why? Why are we falling behind on our debt? How much longer can we last at this rate? Not only are these questions vital, they’re also compelling to viewers. They put fiscal and personal responsibility on a stage, and remind people that they don’t want to be the guy who’s about to lose his house and job, while also reaffirming that, with enough hard work, you can recover from nearly anything.
Of course, sometimes hard work isn’t pleasant. Sometimes businesses have cancers that need removing. The firing of employees is something that occasionally comes up on the show, revealing some of the harsh realities of business when it does. However, it also shows that “bosses” are not always bigoted, rich jerks who cackle as they crush your soul. That “Office Space” caricature gets tempered when you see how difficult it is for an owner to fire one of their co-workers, possibly even a friend, for the sake of the business. That’s an extremely humanizing counter to a stereotype that has been dehumanized for years, an empathy-driven push back against one of cultural Marxism’s crowning achievements: the maligning of leadership positions in business. It shifts the conversation from “Those heartless bastards!” to “Ugh, why is our economy so shitty?” in ways the GOP leadership can’t fathom.
And that’s kinda the best part.
We DIDN’T build this.
This show, as conservative as it is, was created to sell ad-space. Seeing as how it’s in its 6th season, it seems to sell it pretty well.
It also features a guy who for sure loves helping out struggling businesses (and also does a TON of charity work) but who also probably likes to get paid.
And he gets paid to be a conservative.
And to teach others how to be conservative.
Unintentional subversion for the win.
However, subversion doesn’t mean conversion. To get there (and it’s important that we do) we need to push the discussion. Talk about Restaurant: Impossible around the water-cooler, see what your friends and co-workers think about the show, and tell them to check it out if they haven’t seen it.
That kind of follow through is necessary to our movement if we want any advantage from this opportunity; because, just like with the show, if we don’t follow through with the opportunity Chef Robert provides, we might very well have to close up shop.