Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A CLOCKWORK BREITBART. The L.A. Times has engaged David Ehrenstein (film nerd) and Andrew Breitbart (culture warrior) to discuss Hollywood and the War on Whatchamacallit. (First two parts up now.) We have gone round this particular mulberry bush many times before, but Breitbart's ravings are proving classics of the genre.

Most notable are Beitbart's mood swings between professions of conservative cultural impotence and professions of conservative cultural power. On the one hand he accuses "the politically correct architecture of the creative process in Hollywood," where "pro-victory voices are reflexively ridiculed, cold-shouldered and made pariahs of on the party circuit [! -ed.]," of "reverse McCarthyism" (Watershed! They're against McCarthyism now!). On the other, he declares that "my side has talk radio, best-selling books, top-rated cable news shows, blogs, Op-Ed columns and even the presidency to make our points," and that "millions of other American filmgoers" share his politics and find their needs ill-served by Hollyweird, despite record box-office figures.

At one point, perhaps a rare moment of equilibrium in his brain chemistry, Breitbart turns introspective on behalf of the Movement: "Yet the conservatives who defend and, to a great degree, prosecute this war [? -ed.] have only themselves to blame for not putting enough emphasis on popular entertainment, and refusing to get bloody in the trenches of Melrose and Vine," he says, before (alas) reverting to form and calling on Ehrenstein as a "gay expert on gays in cinema" to help him with a Hollywood "diversity" project.

There are many different ways to relieve a creative urge, and those of us who toil both in blogs and in other formats must be careful not to shoot too much of our wads on internet prattle. That's why I continue to hold out sympathy and hope for guys like Jason Apuzzo, whose rages against the Hollywood machine are punctuated by efforts to make the sort of movies he wants to see.

But as Breitbart's case shows, the pure culture warrior finds making actual culture a "bloody" business and beneath him. His talents are instead devoted to concocting syrups of outrage thick enough to suspend bombast-fragments like "heroin-addled reality star," "self-congratulatory award show pronunciations," and "Gulfstream-flying, eco-warrior billionaires" for the delectation of undiscerning goons. The hard work of pursuing a coherent idea from start to finish -- whether in a story, script, or even a blog post -- is for the gloopy ones, while the oomny ones use, like, inspiration and what Bog sends.

It seems clear that our culture warriors are not engaged in a war for culture so much as a war against it.

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