Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ANNALS OF THE CULTURE WAR. I have been encouraged to review the latest opus of Ben Shapiro, boy culture-warrior, this one in National Review and about the "twelve best conservative TV shows." It is a noisome task. The descriptions are moronic ("I may be the only person on earth who believes that Lost skews conservative on political matters..."), as is indeed the whole thing. But this statement is worth noting:
You’ll see that many of these shows were also created by outspoken liberals — so this is a tribute to those gutsy liberals who didn’t toe the party line.
This is really how Shapiro, and his fellow operatives, think about TV, movies, literature, etc. They think all the studios, presses, and writers' rooms are actually devoted to advancing leftism -- that in real life the show-runner begins each day by asking, "How can we speed the coming of the dictatorship of the proletariat?" And if Shapiro likes a show, he imagines that some of these minions have bravely rebelled by inserting conservatism into their work.

It's sort of like when people who generally look down on TV think the shows they enjoy come from the creators' attempt to insert a little artistry into the commercial product. This is a simplification, but at least it acknowledges the forces of art and commerce. In Shapiro's case, though, it's all political, because that's what he thinks everything is. When he gets a pair of shoes that fit comfortably, he probably gives a prayer of thanks to the cobbler who resisted liberal orthodoxy to provide them.

Shapiro's height of lunacy is reached in his coda, where he offers to "help television save itself." From what, I wonder? Television is doing well enough that someone could afford to pay Charlie Sheen $2 million an episode. And when its producers are dissatisfied with the money they're making -- and they always are -- they innovate in ways that have nothing to do with politics (as with reality shows -- small investment, big profits). But Shapiro insists:
In truth, only Hollywood can save television. And Hollywood can save television only if they give up their liberal agenda and focus on what they should have been focusing on all along: pleasing the American people, regardless of political viewpoint.
The American people have already voted with their eyeballs -- they want Snooki and celebrity drug addicts. That's capitalism, comrade, and a better lesson in conservatism than Shapiro can manage.

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