Wednesday, November 24, 2004

BUREAU OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS. Jonah Goldberg adds to his colleague's list of conservatively-correct shows "South Park," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and "The Dave Chapelle Show." No explanation is provided -- Goldberg is steamrollin' on his way to a demand for affirmative action for conservatives, about which more later -- but one ventures to guess that they pass the red litmus test because Buffy has values 'cause she fights evil and stuff, "South Park" proceeds from the loins of the sainted Parker and Stone, and Chapelle sometimes makes fun of black people, something Goldberg really wishes he could do.

Now, I like those shows myself, but believe me, that doesn't make me a conservative. Like most people, I deal with culture as, you know, culture -- that which makes us neither liberal or conservative but human, and something vastly more interesting and important than politics.

But for Goldberg, culture isn't something one is called to create by anything so non-partisan as a muse -- it's a rank power struggle: "Today," he says, "conservatives need to embrace more than tokenism, accept more than a quota for their views, and demand more than condescension... This is our culture, our nation, too." (That "too" is unusually generous.) "Everything we believe says that it would be better for everybody if we got busy taking it back through door-to-door fighting and persuasion."

Control of the culture is, in his view, an entitlement program, and he's out to twist some arms to make sure he and his get their slice of the pie.

The up-front problem is obvious: How do you take over a culture without artists? I know they have a few creative types who loudly proclaim themselves for the Right (as opposed to artists who happen to be conservative but would rather make art than culture war), but is Ben Stein patiently collecting funds for his Calvin Coolidge biopic? Are Richard Scaife or Sun Myung Moon subsidizing right-wing writer's colonies or film academies?

No. Because their model, remember, is not artistic but political. Laboring in garrets and ateliers, starving and unacknowledged, is for liberal losers; conservatives make things happen.

Another advantage of their political model of cultural control is that it exempts them from submitting actual works of art to the marketplace for judgement. In their way of doing things, constructive effort -- whether the building of superhighways or the filming of epics -- is left to wait until after the voters have been brought on board.

So, with rare exceptions, theirs is not a support-the-arts drive, but a war of attrition. Their obsessions with Michael Moore, Barbara Streisand et alia are well-known, but even a conservative gets bored sometimes, so occasionally they spray in other directions. They've been rolling on the new Oliver Stone movie, for example, since well before it opened, not because it figures to advance any political agenda (unless you're an ancient Macedonian), but because it was made by Oliver Stone, an approved target.

The plan, it would seem, is to so widely and completely vilify the opposition that all the liberals are chased out of Hollyweird like rats, leaving "The Joe McCarthy Nobody Knew," starring Drew Carey, written by Roger L. Simon, and directed by Mel Gibson, who also guest-stars as General McArthur, as the only game in town.

Can it work? Well, people do buy Hoobastank CDs, so who knows.

UPDATE. I don't know why these guys never mention "7th Heaven," one of my all-time favorite Christian shows, in which a minister's children fuck their lives up royally and with much love, laughter, and treacly acoustic guitar music. It makes me long for a Rapture I will never know. Continuing coverage here.

UPDATE 2. Y'all are killing me with Buffy-related comments. Aren't there any "The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross" scholars here?

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