Thursday, September 24, 2009

A LIVE ONE. Among the pleasures of this gig from which I have been too long misdirected is the work of S.T. Karnick, a culture warrior without portfolio whose run at National Review seems to have ended long ago, leaving him to Big Hollywood and other such catch-alls. But he still keeps up a blog full of gems.

Take his review of the new Melrose Place, wherein he finds moral uplift:
Two-thirds of the way through the episode, things get quite interesting as a couple of the decent characters are presented with serious moral dilemmas involving financial and career temptations. A nurse is offered an urgently needed $5,000 to sleep with a man she has just met, and a young filmmaker is offered $100,000 to keep quiet about witnessing an extramarital affair.

The moral implications of these dilemmas are made so clear and taken so seriously that it doesn't really matter what the characters choose; the viewer will be nonetheless encouraged to think about how they would react in such a situation and thus contemplate their own moral probity. That's a good thing, and it's what popular fiction at its best always does.
You can see Dostoevsky looking down from the clouds, nodding solemnly, with an arm slung over Aaron Spelling's shoulder.

Take a stroll through Karnick's obsessive topiary mazes and you will find his denunciation of Rush Limbaugh's V/O on The Family Guy on moral grounds ("For Limbaugh to lend his support to MacFarlane's project in any way indicates which direction Limbaugh's moral compass is pointing. If Limbaugh sees no wrong in it, you have to wonder just how morally reliable his pronouncements on other topics may be"), and his hopeful prediction of a female chastity revival ("If a girl wants to listen to Liz Phair, let her legs get hairy, and go on pro-abortion marches, she's perfectly free to do so; she'll just have greater difficulty in getting the most sought-after guys to go out with her--but if she wants to keep her clothes on she'll have the same problem anyway").

I usually don't bookmark these people, but Karnick is a prime candidate for my prospective easy-layup file.

UPDATE. Readers point out that the Limbaugh item is actually written by somebody else, one Mike Gray. Forgive me, please -- the continued existence of the site was such a shock I just couldn't fathom that Karnick actually got other people to write for it. That's like bringing new passengers aboard the listing Andrea Doria ("Hey, for another twenty minutes, it's still a boat ride!")

Karnick also employs one Jim Lakely, who has a spectacular jeremiad about people who disprespect the suburbs -- which, in the petrie dish of his imagination, becomes the liberals who disrespect the suburbs, and then Obama who hates the suburbs (though he starts the piece with Obama, in apparent recognition that he is the ultimate rightwing money shot). Followers of conservative persecution mania will find familiar Lakely's claim that criticism of, and even jokes about, suburbia mean that "the left wants to impose their version of 'enlightened' urban life on the rest of us." Overnight the brownshirts will turn your beloved K-Mart into a trendy cafe, and force your children to eat panini and gelato.

These names are new to you now, but you'll see them soon at The Atlantic, either as authors, sources, or fiancees.

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