And “Under My Thumb” is Totes Feminist Because I Like It

6 Feb

Pupienis Maximus’s comment at Sadly, No! regarding the contention that Brazil is a conservative movie spurred me to think about why it is that conservatives are so fucking obsessed with finding (and listing) art and entertainment that they believe express their values.

Those of us who do wingnut-watching for sport are aware that this is not anything new. The language in that Human Events email was directly lifted from the NRO’s conservative movies list. Obviously, John J. Miller has basically made a career out of it.

Most people tend to prefer entertainment that reflects their beliefs, but conservatives seem to be intent on twisting anything they enjoy into some sort of statement on conservative principles (or, at least, an anti-liberal statement).

Truthfully, conservatives don’t usually make good art. Anything that’s beautiful or revolutionary or groundbreaking (like Brazil) cannot be, by default, conservative. When you stand athwart history yelling “Stop!” you’re probably not going to be particularly original. Not only are you unwilling to allow progress, but you’re also prone to fetishizing the past to such a degree that you’re intimidated by  new ideas in general, and new ideas that mock/give lie to old ideas in particular. It’s like comedy; comedy that sides with the bully, the powers that be, the status quo is usually terribly unfunny. You can’t make anything good if you’re propping up the values and institutions that make things, well, bad.

It also seems as if conservatives have a great deal of difficulty differentiating between things that are “bad” and things they just don’t like. Fascism is bad, so it must be liberal. Obama disagrees with me, so he is a Marxist. Green leafy vegetables pollute our bodily fluids  etc etc etc etc etc…Similarly, they’re incapable of understanding nuance, so if they like something, it must be Good (conservative) because they are Good.

So, there are very few conservative forms of art, which means that conservatives who have interest in anything other than Veggie Tales and the Left Behind series must turn to art that is “liberal,” or, at least, “not conservative” (which, for most of them, means “liberal”). And since liberal is Bad, they have to figure out a way to fit what they like into their value systems. That’s how you get “Brazil is a vision of how the world would be if liberals took over” or “this song by a gay British vegan about infanticide is anti-abortion” or “’Rock the Casbah’ is conservative because it was controversial after September 11.”

Which, like, whatever. It’s their prerogative to like what they like for whatever weird reason they like it. And if those lists resulted in dipshits downloading Sex Pistols songs, then I can possibly get over how insulting it is to completely re-frame something as conservative when that wasn’t the creators’ intent. It’s just that it’s representative of the rigid values systems that a lot of conservatives have, and their uncanny ability to take things out of context and completely misinterpret what they mean. It’s juvenile, annoying, and, on a wider level, bad for political discourse.

16 Responses to “And “Under My Thumb” is Totes Feminist Because I Like It”

  1. Iggy 02.06.2011 at 20:32 #

    Also, Back-door Boyz is totes Conservative.

  2. M. Bouffant 02.06.2011 at 22:07 #

    Wait a minute. I like the music for “Under My Thumb.” Now I’m confused again.

  3. truculentandunreliable 02.06.2011 at 22:08 #

    I love “Under My Thumb,” but I’m not going to argue that it’s feminist because I’m a feminist. Because it’s obviously not.

  4. Chris 02.06.2011 at 22:43 #

    Being a staunch liberal who manages to enjoy 24 despite the conservative slant, Firefly despite the libertarian slant, and the Western genre despite the usually pro-Southern slant, I’m always puzzled by this phenomenon.

    Might just be that when your entire worldview’s mythology based, the mythology becomes a lot more important to you.

    Oh, and congratulations on the birth of your blog!

  5. Bitter Scribe 02.06.2011 at 22:58 #

    That’s the stupidest thing to happen to Brazil since the time I saw it broadcast on network TV and some hack video editor, trying to cram in one more commercial, cut off the ending, rendering the fantasy sequence nonsensical.

  6. smut clyde 02.06.2011 at 23:40 #

    I’d describe this as an Authoritarian trait rather than something specifically conservative. It follows from the thesis that there is only one morally-acceptable side of everything.

    Roy Edroso has lots of fun at Alicublog pointing out the similarity between the conservative-movies lists and old-skool Stalinist cultural diktats.

  7. Another Kiwi 02.07.2011 at 03:59 #

    I wrote a comment, once to some bozo at Bug-eyed-Hollywood who was trying to claim Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man as a conservative movie. I explained that Herzog was Herzog and trying to put any other labels on to it was just schoolyard wannabe bullshit. He did not agree and said “wiat til you see what I write about (another Herzog movie, I can’t remember)”. so I think that there is a fair amount of “Pissin’ off teh Liebrals” involved with these morons. He, most surprisingly, banned me from his comments, so we could not pursue the question further.

  8. nedbeaumontjr 02.07.2011 at 05:10 #

    Under My Thumb discriminates against the hooved community.

  9. truculentandunreliable 02.07.2011 at 09:36 #

    Chris–Thanks! Yeah, I don’t get it, either. If I only enjoyed things that I viewed as ideologically perfect, I would be fucking BORED.

    Bitter Scribe–That’s pretty fucking terrible.

    Smut–Good point. That’s actually an issue that I run into a lot when I think about these things. These days “authoritarian” and “conservative” tend to be interchangeable (in the U.S., anyway), so sometimes I forget that yes, there are non-conservative authoritarians. At least I’m not Jonah Goldberg.

    AK–That dancing chicken in Stroszek is representative of the American taxpayer, don’t you know!

    Ned–Furthermore, the use of “the squirming dog that’s had its day” as a metaphor is offensive to our canine brethren and sistren.

  10. bughunter 02.07.2011 at 16:21 #

    Don’t forget that they also label movies as “liberal” that have no such intentions… like Wall-E and American Beauty.

    It’s one of the side-effects of viewing the world through black-and-white, us-and-them filters.

  11. Spengler 02.07.2011 at 16:49 #

    Hear, hear.

    That is all.

  12. B^4 02.07.2011 at 17:51 #

    ’Rock the Casbah’ is conservative

    This really, really pisses me off. Obviously, Joe, Mick, and the boys didn’t mean “rock the Casbah” with explosives. The song is explicitly anti-authoritarian, with the subversive message that even the thugs directed by the powers that be can be suborned by “that crazy Casbah JI-I-IVE!!!

  13. truculentandunreliable 02.07.2011 at 18:28 #

    Spengler, thanks.

    B^4 OMFG I KNOW!!! I want to beat the shit out of him on behalf of Joe Strummer.

    OTOH, if this lead to even *one* conservative hearing “Know Your Rights,” that makes me happy.

  14. The Variants 02.08.2011 at 02:14 #

    More dangerously, the authoritarians also attempt to seize history and twist it to fit their narrative. Prediction: There will be some seriously rancid stuff ahead during the sesquicentennial of the ACW.

  15. The Variants 02.08.2011 at 02:27 #

    Also and moreover too: Do you remember how conservatives touted ‘Born in the USA’ as Their Kind of Patriotism? (Hey, there was a big Amurkin flag on the album cover!) Christ, I remember one Sunday gabfest when George Will lectured everyone about how ‘Born in the USA’ was proof of the resurgence of True Patriotism. (George was proud of his hipness: He referred to Bruce several times as The Boss.)

    Lyrics? Who cares? It’s got a big flag and USA is in title cut and it’s a high-energy music, so they own it.

  16. truculentandunreliable 02.08.2011 at 08:04 #

    LOL at George Will calling Springsteen “The Boss.”

    Yeeeeah, you’d think that they’d, you know, at least look at the lyrics…maybe they just don’t understand.

    It’s like if Jerry Brown used “California Uber Alles” as his campaign theme song because it says that he’ll be president one day.

    Actually, that would be fucking awesome.

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