Monday, November 25, 2013


If you did not know that Kanye West was the singer of the background music, by the quality of the lyrics and beat, you might think that a fourth grader was spewing rhymed obscenities...
Ah shaddap Gramps -- also known as Victor Davis Hanson, who in his latest essay regales his readership with the kind of kids-today yap that used to pad out middlebrow magazine essays. Only instead of blaming permissive parents or the Bomb, Hanson blames aesthetes:
Once classical canons of artistic, literary, or musical expression were torn down, and once those classically trained rebels who ripped them apart have passed on, we are left with the ruins of trying to shock what is perhaps beyond being shocked...

In other words, once you have rebelled against hexameters, quarter notes, or realistic representation, and after you have rebelled against that rebellion with crucifixes in urine, obscenity-laced rap, and peek-a-boo nudity on stage, what are you left with? The 20th-century rebels who knew what they did not like have been replaced by the anti-rebels who don’t know that there was ever something against which to rebel. Again, we are left with the 21st-century of Lady Gaga giving birth to a blue sphere, Miley Cyrus probing body orifices with a foam oversized finger, and Kanye West humping on a motorcycle while reciting obscene nursery-rhyme ditties.
I think general idea is that the Moderns ruined everything, but it's hard to be sure; the rebellion against "hexameters," for one thing, would seem to mean most poetry after the ancients -- when Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter, was Party in the U.S.A. the inevitable result? Also, if culture fell when "realistic representation" ceased to be an aspiration, where does that leave Agamemnon? It's less representational than Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Maybe everything really went downhill after ring shouts and cave paintings.

I wondered why Hanson was even bothering with this Andy Rooney schtick, and then found to my horror that he thinks it has something to do with Obamacare.
Why would a culture that canonizes a Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, or Lady Gaga have the discrimination to determine whether their chief executive tells the truth or lies? Obamacare is a great program in a way that West, Cyrus, and Gaga are great artists, in a way that more iPads will mean more geniuses.
Well, in a way he's got a point -- would stuff like Hanson's even be tolerated if we hadn't been inured to it by decades of absurdism?

Next week: The curse of Instagramsci!

UPDATE. In comments, Dr. Hunky Jimpjorps: "It's like one of those Oliver Sacks patient histories: classics expert Victor H. has woken up every day since about 1964 to be shocked anew by the existence of pop culture."

Also, for newcomers, here's the referent for the title.

UPDATE. Whetstone, in comments: "Oh, horseshit. Ask someone who actually pays attention to contemporary popular music—rather than just railing about whatever YouTube video happened to pop up on PJ Media—whether there are 'hierarchies.'" It's one of the institutionalized absurdities of the Culture War that guys like Hanson believe pop culture represents some refutation of values. Pop fans actually have much more rigid formal demands than high art fans at this point; in the dimmer ones, they're made even more rigid by sentimentality, and if you don't believe me get a load of this Star Wars dork who's also a National Review writer -- though I warn you, you may throw your action figures away after reading it. Sample: "And why would Disney go to the bother of globe-trotting in search of future celebrities if not to brazenly drum up publicity? If that’s true, it totally worked, with Exhibit A being the article you’re reading right now." Next she'll do a story where she realizes actors don't make up their own lines.


  1. JennOfArk10:05 PM

    ...when Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter, was Party in the U.S.A. the inevitable result?

    The flap of the butterfly's wings says yes, yes it was, in much the same way that there's a direct line of descent from the Venus of Wittenburg to Backdoor Hotties 9.

  2. Spaghetti Lee10:11 PM

    when Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter, was Party in the U.S.A. the inevitable result?

    "What light through yonder window twerks?"

  3. Tybalt10:16 PM

    VDH's taste runs more to 300

  4. Tybalt10:20 PM

    And the most recent comment is a hoot, a sour ex-college radio DJ who spends his nights at the gun range (alone), eating in a cheap restaurant (alone) and drinking in his basement bar (alone) giving what else... child rearing tips!

    If you invented these people for a book, you'd be hooted down with derision for your lack of imagination.

  5. I like the comment claiming Ayn Rand somehow predicted all of this.

  6. Take care, young wingnuts, and value your whine.
    Be watchful of classics profs who blog on 808s and .gifs on Vine.
    Deeply they'll swallow from the Obamacare bleghs,
    Then swiftly be gone, leaving bitter dregs.
    Ahh-ah-ah-ah, bitter dregs.

  7. That's actually the most liked comment... yeah.

  8. Also, if culture fell when "realistic representation" ceased to be an aspiration, where does that leave Agamemnon?

    Behold, our man Edroso's erudite.
    Ashamed should Stanford's classics program be,
    For Victor Davis Hanson knows not shit.
    What, Hoover can't dump money onto Roy?

  9. PiggysGotTheConch10:45 PM

    ...once you have rebelled against hexameters, quarter notes, or realistic representation...

    Damn hippies and your dissonant harmonic progressions! What's with that cowbell?? This is radicalism I tells ye!

  10. "Kanye West humping on a motorcycle while reciting obscene nursery-rhyme ditties"

    I prefer Marie Osmond reading dadaist poetry while probably not humping a motorcycle for my freakouts, but there you go: capitalism has bought out everything at this point. Pretty sure that's not the fault of the hippies.

    Yes, the Left would surely love its counterculture back, thank you. I'd be a much bigger fan of Kanye if he was a less famous, poorer, weirder artist. Would Hugo Ball have written such bangers back in the day if there was any chance they might show up in a beer commercial?

    In exchange for one (1) dadaism in working condition, we promise to stay off your lawn. We get Lady Gaga, you can have Miley, and we'll go joint custody on Katy Perry and Kanye.

    Blago bung, motherfucka? (That's dadaist jive for "do we have a deal?")

  11. BigHank5310:57 PM

    You'd think a classics professor (someone who had not only read, but almost certainly taught Lysistrata) would stop and pause for a moment before condemning the on-stage sexual antics of modern stars. One of the funniest scenes in that play is a woman sexually teasing her husband, leaving him weeping with frustration. Later, the Athenian and Spartan peace delegations enter with visible erections under their clothing. Right there in the original stage directions, folks, and VDH wants to pretend that smut was invented in the Sixties.

    I'm not gonna defend any modern acts; many of them do use sex and obscenities to cover gaps in talent. VDH was actually on solid ground until...well, until the second fucking sentence of his essay, where he commented on Ms. Cyrus' "rather unimpressive anatomy." There's a dissertation on male privilege packed in there, I'm sure, but the main fun's in watching him hamstring his own argument: if all of modern culture has descended to a titty show, Victor, why are you complaining about the size of the titties? Y'all have a broadband connection: go find some you like.

  12. DocAmazing10:58 PM

    Well, since we know that Hanson favors increasing investments in public education so that every child might be exposed to classical music and Greek marbles...

  13. Also:

    Next week: The curse of Instagramsci!

    I would gladly be dominated by the ideology from which this quip arises.

  14. And weaken the bourgeois cultural hegemony which allows an ignoramus like him to be a public intellectual?

  15. I'd like to congratulate this comment on its insight...looking at its chest and not its eyes the whole time.

  16. The one constant in Victor Davis "Joey" Hanson's screeds is that he still likes movies about gladiators.

  17. "It is the blacks, and Rihanna is the moon."

  18. Equation of quality with "realistic representation" is the hallmark of a person who knows exactly zero about art. Don't get me wrong, painting photorealistically is difficult as hell and certainly an admirable achievement, but left to stand on its own, it still leaves the Devil whispering, "But is it art?"

    I mean, shit, Thomas Kinkade's paintings are realistic, and I think that's all that needs to be said on the subject of "does realism equal quality?"

    Tangentially related, I was reading this article just now, and this bit struck me:

    “Can we, in the month of September, achieve defunding Obamacare?” he boomed. “Yes, we can!” yelled the crowd.

    So... this call-and-response "yes we can!" business is creepy and Hitler-Youthy when liberals do it, but they don't find anything wrong with it when conservatives do it?

  19. mortimer200011:20 PM

    Shorter Victus Maximus: Obscenity laced rap... Peek-a-boo nudity... Disgusting! What has our culture come to? O for the golden days of Antiquity when a classicist like myself could spend an afternoon with the family enjoying some fine, wholesome torture and executions, watching the riffraff hung by their own entrails and women and boys raped and ripped apart by animals. Et quod futurum erat illis tantum THEY ONLY GOT WHAT WAS COMING TO THEM! Where was I? And the sex shows! A conservative manly man could learn so much just watching prostitutes in action before they got devoured by vicious beasts. Ah, such classical days!

  20. BadExampleMan11:27 PM

    I hold up my first two fingers for this comment to lightly touch with smoldering reserve.

  21. Everything is just like Munich now.

  22. Gromet11:46 PM

    First the Beatles almost lost us the Cold War, and now we want to risk everything by canonizing Miley Cyrus? I tell ya, if the sun rises tomorrow, it won't be thanks to America's 14-year-old girls.

  23. J Neo Marvin11:47 PM

    What's Victor's take on the new, improved version?

  24. MichaelNewsham11:55 PM

    Things have been going downhill since that cheap sensationalist Sophocles added the third character because he couldn't handle the classical standards.

  25. Gromet12:03 AM

    You can draw a straight line from Sophocles to Poochie to Obamacare.

  26. JennOfArk12:40 AM

    Yeah, you'd think he would have cottoned to the fact that modern gay pride parades in the Castro have got nothin' on the dithyrambs and their accompanying phallic processions so beloved by the ancient Greeks.

  27. Budbear12:48 AM

    Damned Poochie! Itchy & Scratchy was so much more realistic until he came along. Him and his anti-rebel rebellion.

  28. Another Kiwi1:09 AM

    Uh oh, looks like VDH has realised that some of the help is richer than he is.

  29. FlipYrWhig1:10 AM

    Fittingly, it seems Victor Davis Hanson has learned all too well Poochie's catchphrase: "Always recycle... TO THE EXTREME!"

  30. Spaghetti Lee1:11 AM

    Well, who else would be the authority on talentless hacks elevated to positions of greatness by their idiot fans?

  31. Formerly_Nom_De_Plume1:16 AM

    Later, the Athenian and Spartan peace delegations enter with visible erections under their clothing.

    You forgot the bit where they actually whip out said erections and show their wangs. A friend of mine who's a theatre director told me of staging this production, wherein he commissioned a talented makeup artist to fashion very real-looking veined cocks, which were duly revealed in the second act. It resulted in walkouts, and when the disgruntled patrons bitched, he'd point to the signs at the entrance warning that this show was graphic, and tell them to fuck off. That is the only way to deal with bullshit like this.

  32. sharculese1:36 AM

    Roy, for serious, that line is a career highlight in a career full of highlights.

  33. Jay B.1:37 AM

    "...the food is terrible and the portions are so small!"

  34. Actually, he says he has kids. He's looking forward to them "breeding" (his term) and is encouraging others to "breed and make good citizens" (direct quote!). Nothing says "well-adjusted" quite like a man who uses the same term to refer to having children that he would to refer to his dog having puppies.

  35. AngryWarthogBreath1:44 AM

    Ah, I see now! See, in Black Skinhead, Kanye has the lyrics:

    "I keep it 300, like the Romans
    300 bitches, where's the Trojans?"

    And VDH is furious. Furious! The Trojans were the precursors to the Romans in the Aeneid and neither had anything to do with the 300 at Thermopylae, which were pre-Greek Spartans fighting Persians!

    It bothered me, too, but I didn't let it force me into the eleventeenthousandth "new genres mean art is dead" piece.

  36. AGoodQuestion1:45 AM

    Look, not everyone has to dig Kanye. The musical mainstream always has its malcontents and always should. That said, if your four year old sounds like this then junior's got some unusual skill and has undergone very early puberty.

    Mmmm-bop Hanson shows some discipline in not actually using the words "jungle junk."

  37. AGoodQuestion1:48 AM

    Miley Cyrus might not be all that clever, but I'm sure she could let VDH know that she's not impressed with his anatomy, either.

  38. Funny, one of the commenters is complaining that they don't teach Latin anymore. He seems to think it's some knock against the dumbing down of culture, as though there were no other reason why high schools don't teach dead languages.

    Now if you'll excuse me, these tests aren't going to feed themselves into the scanner.

  39. AGoodQuestion1:52 AM

    He must have the contract to write that "Eugenics for Dummies" handbook.

  40. Gromet1:54 AM

    He likes his Classical era all Apollo, no Dionysus. And he's got a tape measure and some reference charts ready, so if any Dionysians show up anyway, he'll know whether they're sexy.

  41. This may be part of some weird conservative strain of thought. I don't know if you've heard this, but Jon McNaughton (he of the "Jesus hand-delivers the Constitution" series, definitely done in a realistic style) recently self-published a YA novel. In it, the Mary Sue protagonist has a run-in with a pothead art teacher who insists that his students not do representational art. So it's possible that the social critics cons believe that liberals hate realistic art - you just don't know about it because they rarely discuss fine art.

    The best I can imagine is that they're still upset that Picasso and his filthy anti-war paintings are considered classics now. Cubism? I'll give you cubism...

  42. Things I didn't know before VDH: High culture was destroyed by smooth jazz, haiku and impressionism.

  43. smut clyde2:04 AM

    Full on this casement shone the wintry moon, And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast

    Wait, what, those aren't gules? Sorry. My bad.

  44. smut clyde2:05 AM

    Something something Habermasturbation something.

  45. Waffle_Man2:09 AM

    So, the, uh, I guess controversy(?) around Miley Cyrus just baffles me. To me, nothing she's doing is any more weird than anything Britney Spears or Madonna did, but apparently I just hallucinated the last 30 years of pop music and women showing off their ankles is still shocking or something.

    And speaking of, Kanye's Bound 2 is completely tame next to pretty much any track off Straight Outta Compton, which came out 25 god damned years ago.

    The big hip-hop acts right now seem positively harmless if you actually compare them to a lot of older rappers. How do you look at Macklemore raping about how much he loves shopping at the Goodwill and see that as the most debased our culture has ever been?

    Also apparently people grinding on each other in music videos is shocking because, again, I apparently hallucinated the last 30 years of music videos being exactly that.

    Also, is Hanson okay? I mean, this is gibberish. I would expect a scholar to be able to explain why people rejected "the canon" even if it was just to mock them for it, but more than that, I'd expect a scholar to be able to write an essay where the sentences seem to have some kind of relationship to the sentences they follow. Even Jonah Goldberg can do that.

  46. Hmm, I believe in ancient Greece they used comically large leather strap-ons that didn't at all resemble real penises (except in shape).

    Not that I object to the realistic approach.

  47. You know what VDH is really complaining about? It isn't debased culture, it's post-modernism. No, he never uses the word, but that's definitely it. For a certain faux-intellectual subclass of conservative culture critic, trashy entertainment calls up memories of an obscure philosophical movement that denied the existence of objective standards.

    Now, I've never met a post-modernist. I'm convinced that the few of them who actually exist never leave their homes, spending their days compiling essays on how 90's anime proves their philosophy correct. But guys like VDH think that everyone left-of-center believes this. Really, if he thinks liberals don't bitch about contemporary entertainment, then clearly he's new to blogs.

  48. smut clyde2:14 AM

    She had strong views on art -- it had to be realism, all else was degenerate! -- which her disciples had to accept to demonstrate their independence of mind.

  49. AngryWarthogBreath2:15 AM

    Nothin' says realism like EVERYBODY on a train being an unreconstructed and deliberate moocher deserving nothing but death. No caricatures for Ayn, nopenopenope.

  50. ColBatGuano2:17 AM

    Everyone likes a nice pearl necklace.

  51. Can't believe you left this part out:

    Meanwhile, we hear whispers that in our big cities a new fad spreads of young African-American teen males boxing unsuspecting people in the head...usually the racial profiles of both the victims and suspected perpetrators are felt to be better hushed. Racism in our culture is not evident in selecting targets to brain bash on the basis of their race, but in suggesting that the evidence so far suggests that it happens.

    Two things:

    1.) Apparently I'm not paying close enough attention to our wonderful newsmedia, because I missed the latest mythical youth panic.

    2.) Do you think people are somehow compelled to drop racial overtures into everything they write, or it is a deliberate style choice?

  52. Waffle_Man2:28 AM

    Duchamp's fountain was nearly 100 years ago! Rothko died more than 40 years ago!

    Non-representational art has been mainstream since before most of these people were born.

    I mean, the war to re-establish representational art was won when Hanson was young. Maybe there's some fine art subculture where Abstract Expressionism still reigns supreme, but for most of us it's not hard to find stuff that looks like other stuff.

  53. gain, we are left with the 21st-century of Lady Gaga giving birth to a
    blue sphere, Miley Cyrus probing body orifices with a foam oversized
    finger, and Kanye West humping on a motorcycle while reciting obscene
    nursery-rhyme ditties.

    Wait'll he gets a load of that up-and-coming young author Petronius!

  54. It's a great adjunct to his Spartan pederasty fantasies.

  55. Lancelot Link4:04 AM

    Perhaps old VD should listen to Mozart's "Leck Mich im Arsch" before he complains too much about today's "Entartete Kunst".

  56. smut clyde4:46 AM

    A third thing:
    What is wrong with Hanson's style? Those are some crappy sentences there, flaccid strings of loosely-articulated clauses which give the impression that they crawled out of his mouth in search of a quiet place to die. Is it Hanson's idea of an Ciceronean High Style? Is he trying to demonstrate that the rebellion against convention has made good writing impossible?

  57. Wrangler4:56 AM

    It's always extremes with these guys. There's no pop culture silliness that isn't the very face of the Death of All Civilization. What a bunch of neurotics. It's a wonder they can make it through the day without collapsing into exhaustion.

    When V.D. Hamsandwichandaglassofmilk applies "canonized" to an artist like Lady Gaga, it's clear he either doesn't know what that word means, or he has no idea what is going on around him, or it's just a word that means something like "people who like her might be irreverent toward religion so choke on this one!"

    It's extremes again. It's like he doesn't get that Lady Gaga can make tons of money singing and yet not be elevated to godhood by people who buy her shit. She's rich because her songs are pretty inoffensive and easy to listen to while doing fun things. That has very board appeal. Granted VDH openly worships wealthy people, so I guess I can see why he would think everyone else does too.

  58. Smut Clyde6:19 AM

    The Coffee Cantata was a celebration of DRUG CULTURE.

  59. Hanson really is an Old Nerd, with a lifetime of resentment at the "cool kids" eating away at his scrawny insides, ain't he? He seems to be acquainted with a lot of Knowledge without the capacity to link things together in any meaningful way. Kinda sad, really--Trivia Rich but Wisdom Poor, is old man Hanson. I think the salt of the Earth would say he's "Book Smart" by way of implying he's pretty stoopid in real life.

    He is emblematic of Parker's "you can lead a horticulture, but you can't make [him] think."

  60. For well Hanson wist--a woman hath no beard!

  61. Even Jonah Goldberg can do that.

    …he just chooses not to?

  62. Oh, is that what's got VDH in an uproar? Does he get all his current events from Yahoo Headlines?

  63. Was that Mozart … or Falco?

  64. Thanks to cranky old farts like VDH I can no longer enjoy disliking Kanye for the simple reason that he flat out sucks. If Hanson hates it, I can't. Bastard.

  65. brandonrg7:44 AM

    well tbf smooth jazz is pretty horriible

  66. Fer chrissakes, wasn't J.M.W. Turner once accused of firing blunderbusses full of paint at his canvases?

  67. brandonrg7:55 AM

    It is not, shockingly!, a real thing, as David Weigel (ht: digby) points out:

  68. redoubt8:01 AM

    Lie back, and think of Sparta

  69. macgreco8:12 AM


  70. cleter8:12 AM

    I am totally stealing Instagramsci.

  71. tigrismus8:23 AM

    Maybe Kanye should rap something classical just for Hanson... Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo

  72. "Paging TGuerrant. TGuerrant to the white courtesy ... phone."

  73. Yeah, but his work is covered by the Second Amendment.

  74. Helmut Monotreme8:48 AM

    I think the central issue with his rant is that this focus on the novelties of pop culture means he is stuck teaching courses that no one takes at Fresno State.

  75. Also apparently people grinding on each other in music videos is shocking

    Yeah, to listen to these guys, you'd think Patrick Swayze hadn't appeared in anything after Red Dawn.

  76. Dr. Hunky Jimpjorps8:50 AM

    It's like one of those Oliver Sacks patient histories: classics expert Victor H. has woken up every day since about 1964 to be shocked anew by the existence of pop culture.

  77. glennisw9:24 AM

    It's as if someone were to rail against the barbarism and musical corruption of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and hold up "Bicycle Built for Two" as an example of how insidiously it has invaded our culture. The guy can't distinguish between art and popular culture.

  78. JennOfArk9:25 AM

    Would that he hadn't.

  79. JennOfArk9:34 AM

    thank you for that - it almost makes up for the original.

  80. BigHank539:46 AM

    There's also the tit jokes and the pubic hair shaving joke. And the male and female choruses debating about how now they're really going to get into it. Really, it's quicker to just go read the damn play.

  81. j_bird9:57 AM

    Yeah, fuck ALL those "musicians" that rebel against the pure quarter-note composition with their "syncopation" and their "cadenzas" and their "glissandos". I blame Beethoven.

    Anyway, have we "canonized" Kanye, Gaga, and Miley? Isn't the canon usually assembled sometime after everyone's dead? I'm no historian, but I had the impression that any given time period had plenty of popular artists that are now forgotten.

  82. Halloween_Jack9:58 AM

    Consider how terrifying it would be if it were.

  83. Halloween_Jack10:04 AM

    I doth feel like hoppin' on a flight, on a flightExeunt to my hometown tonight, town tonight
    Something doth stop me every time, every time
    The DJ playeth my song and I feel alright

  84. Howlin Wolfe10:07 AM

    May this comment live long and prosper.

  85. Ellis_Weiner10:08 AM

    "..the food is terrible! And the waitresses' tits are so small!"

  86. FlipYrWhig10:11 AM

    Miley is more of a flashpoint than other pop stars because she was formerly the biggest star of saccharine children's entertainment. The funny thing, though, is that when I try to think of a parallel case from an earlier era, all I come up with are child stars who took a similarly naughty turn and didn't convulse the culture in the least: Jessica Biel, Alyssa Milano, Drew Barrymore, etc.

  87. Howlin Wolfe10:11 AM

    "Why would a culture that canonizes a Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, or Lady Gaga have the discrimination to determine whether their chief executive tells the truth or lies?"
    Right, because the discrimination necessary to prefer art forms is JUST THE SAME as being able to tell who is teling the truth.

    Why would a culture that likes lutefisk have the discrimination to tell if their chief executive tells the truth or lies?
    Why would a culture that believes in a sky fairy that sees all, hears all and knows all be able to detect rank propaganda and logical howlers such as those put forward by Venereal Disease Hanson? Now, that's a good question.

  88. philadelphialawyer10:14 AM

    I don't think he really cares about post modernism, modernism, or pop culture. All he really wants is something to gripe about, and then tie that into politics, as in the reference to Obamacare.
    As pointed out above, his criticisms fail on so many levels, ie the classics that he purports to love were not strangers to sex as a theme, that you can't say you don't like nudity and then turn around and complain about the attractiveness of the naked bodies you are being shown, the fact that hexameters went out long before the modern, much less the post modern, and so on.
    There really is no there there. This kind of rant has become beyond rote in the predictability of its targets (sexually liberated women and non non threatening Black men, and pop, especially rap ((because its African American)) music). But, to me, the sign that a conservaguy is not really even trying, is just mailing it in, is when the crucifix floats to the top of the urine one more time! Just how much mileage can they possibly get out of that one piece of art? It was made in 1987, for, er, Christ's sake!

  89. Ellis_Weiner10:16 AM

    Oh please. If Rothko were spelled with a c instead of a k, VDH would be praising the artist's entrepreneurial spirit.

  90. Ellis_Weiner10:17 AM

    He asks readers to do it for him.

  91. Funny, one of the commenters is complaining that they don't teach Latin anymore.

    To be fair, if they taught classical Greek, hexameter would be relevant again.

  92. Are you referring to ... Jerkin Habermasturbate?

  93. [SCENE: The front hallway of a California "farmhouse." A doorbell is playing the theme from The Jetsons]

    [VDH enters from stage left, wearing a 300 bathrobe]

    VDH: All right, all right, I'm coming.

    [VDH opens door to reveal a group of ROBED FIGURES on the front porch, their faces obscured by deep hoods]

    LEAD ROBED FIGURE: Quarter notes?

    VDH: ... Excuse me?

    LEAD ROBED FIGURE: Quarter notes as a signifier of tradition and quality? Really?

    VDH: Well, yeah, what with the kids these days---

    LEAD ROBED FIGURE: Get 'im, boys!

    [ROBED FIGURES rush into the hallway and proceed to pummel VDH to the floor]

    VDH [weakly]: B-but ... why?!?

    LEAD ROBED FIGURE: The Order of Saint Benedict sends its regards.

    [Exeunt ROBED FIGURES through the door, passing an approaching GREEK CHORUS wearing masks representing IRONY]

    KORYPHAIOS: Hope you saved some for us.


  94. GregMc11:26 AM

    Similar thoughts were expressed by philadelphialawyer, I think, but I'd like to go further.

    Andres Serrano was a genius. I must admit that it has taken me some time to come to this realization, but that dude has done more to infuriate people like VDH than just about anyone this side of Marx.

  95. whetstone11:30 AM

    There's so much about this that makes me upset.

    by the quality of the lyrics and beat, you might think that a fourth grader was spewing rhymed obscenities

    "Bound 2" might not be Kanye's best work, but... shut up, VDH:

    "The drums — well, they're exactly the way Kanye makes them sound.
    That's his signature. There's always a certain grit to them. He pitches
    and EQs them in a certain way that goes back to when he was doing beats
    at Hinge. They're un-techy, but in a positive way. There's an art to
    that. Sometimes he'll overdrive the input from the MPC. He can play that
    like an instrument instead of a sampler."

    No one believes that such fixations arise from watching the History Channel, googling the Renaissance, or reading the Economist.


    The greatest sin in America is not to lie, but to embrace a hierarchy of any sort at all.

    Oh, horseshit. Ask someone who actually pays attention to contemporary popular music—rather than just railing about whatever YouTube video happened to pop up on PJ Media—whether there are "hierarchies." Kanye seems to think there's a hierarchy; I think that's why his latest albums are called Watch the Throne and Yeezus.

  96. You, Philistine, speak for me as well: Rotko still just plain pisses me off after all these years of books, museums and critical analyses.

  97. J Neo Marvin1:10 PM

    One of Professor Hanson's top students weighs in.

  98. mgmonklewis1:14 PM

    So many bonus points for use of "exeunt."

    Exeunt omnes, with alarums

  99. KatWillow1:16 PM

    You'll never be a respected wingnut unless you blame Obamacare on Rothko!

  100. Scott P.1:16 PM

    I wrote a rap version of Hamlet's soliloquy back in high school. I guess that makes me the vanguard of the end of Western Civilization.

  101. mgmonklewis1:29 PM

    What would VDH think of The Skinhead Hamlet? Love it because it references a classic, or hate it because it was bastardized? Hate it for the skinhead references, or... er... love it for the skinhead references? Love it because it was written by Oxford grad Richard Curtis, or hate it because it was written by someone who also wrote sitcoms for the BBC — you know, television! [screams in horror, but in a classical way, of course]

    In the end, maybe the only response to VDH is Fortinbras' final line.

  102. You can be dead for centuries and still be trampling Hanson's lawn.

  103. mgmonklewis1:36 PM

    I had the impression that any given time period had plenty of popular artists that are now forgotten.

    Robert Southey was poet laureate of England, and the only reason anyone hears about him today is because of the savaging he took from Byron.

    Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope;
    Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey;
    Because the first is crazed beyond all hope,
    The second drunk, the third so quaint and mouthy

  104. redoubt1:37 PM

    John Jacob Jerkinhabermasturbate, AKA the "rhythm method"

  105. mgmonklewis1:37 PM

    Hmm... I meant to do a block quote for the line I quoted from j_bird, but apparently my HTMLs aren't accepted at this internet. Apologies.

  106. Mark_Bzzzz2:09 PM

    Miley works in a genre which is 'blacker' than those other people you mention, and often works with black artists. I think it's the over the top racism of today's right wing which inflames them so much. But then, if those other artists existed today, I would expect more consternation from the right than there was at the time it happened, because today's right-wingers are much more into butt-hurt and victimhood than any group in the history of the universe.

  107. J Neo Marvin3:07 PM

    We'd all be sent to the cornfield.

  108. Ellis_Weiner3:09 PM

    They think, and tell us and each other, that they're classicists. The definition of masculinity is, to them, concealment of feeling. (For White Guys Only; when black males conceal their feelings from whites, and call it "cool," conservatives feel threatened and reach for their own special strain of sociology in self-defense.)

    To them, anything romantic (let alone abstract) reeks of self-indulgence. Their text is, "Indulging your emotions is weak/feminine/immature." Hence their glorification of the military, where mastering and denying your emotions is a good idea.

    Of course, the sub-text is, "Why should you be allowed to indulge (to say nothing of celebrate) your emotions, when I have to repress mine?" Bless their hearts.

  109. J Neo Marvin3:09 PM

    Also, the likes of McNaughton are just making more elaborate versions of editorial cartoons.

  110. smut clyde3:21 PM

    The sacrifices must continue!

  111. Mooser3:24 PM

    Nothin' but Moslems and Moderns, Moderns and Moslem in America! Maybe I'll sell this load in Canada. (Furry Freak Bros. reference)

  112. smut clyde3:24 PM

    I don't think he really goes there for the quality of the wine.

  113. Mooser3:27 PM

    "It's a first class tragic trauma,
    To be told you've humped your Mama,
    And further hear,
    You've murthered Dear Old Dad."

  114. Mooser3:32 PM

    "quarter notes"

    Understand now, he's got no kick against Modern Jazz, except they play the music too darn fast! And, inevitably, lose the beauty of the melody, until it sounds just like a symphony! Well folks, you got trouble, libertine men, scarlet women, ragtime, animal mass-steria which'll drag down your son, your daughter.

  115. He's basically calling Whistler a Little Red Rooster.

  116. edroso5:17 PM

    That too!

  117. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person5:18 PM

    its dwindling manhood would never again march far to the north

    Dude. Leggo your spear...

  118. Gabriel Ratchet5:23 PM

    Rockwell once famously said, "People tell me, 'I don't know anything about art, but I love your stuff.' I wish they'd say the opposite, 'I know a lot about art, and I love your stuff.'" So, I doubt he'd find attention from wingnuts terribly flattering.

  119. Gabriel Ratchet5:27 PM

    What? And lose Point Break? Bite your tongue!

  120. Sure, sure, sex and dick jokes and etc... but at least the Ancient Greeks didn't let real life women tell those jokes. An all male cast? Its right up VDH"s alley, as it were.

  121. Both my daughters are taking latin in highschool. And both could have taken greek. The scariest thing in the world for VDH is, presumably, that if he gets any students at all they are probably liberals like my kids. Taking the classics isn't a sign that you are right wing at all.

  122. Or lability issues.

  123. TGuerrant5:52 PM

    Yay, I found the dildos! My work here is done. For tonight.

  124. TGuerrant5:53 PM

    I'm so here for you.

  125. Point Break? A personal Fave.

  126. JennOfArk5:56 PM

    Yeah, but...I've seen them in person. More than one, and more than once; I've even been to the Rothko Chapel. I just don't grok it. Though obviously some folks do, which is fine. I think my objection mostly falls along the lines of even if you do find it evocative, it's no more so than any similar sized square smudge of paint in the same color would be if placed there by anyone else. Hence, my take on Rothko as a charlatan.

  127. JennOfArk5:57 PM

    Dildos, stat!

  128. Robert Johnson5:58 PM

    A very incomplete list:

    Bessie Smith destroyed western culture.
    Robert Johnson destroyed western culture.
    Benny Goodman destroyed western culture.
    Louis Jordan destroyed western culture.
    Ike Turner destroyed western culture.
    Chuck Berry destroyed western culture.
    Elvis Presley destroyed western culture.
    Buddy Holley destroyed western culture.
    The Beatles destroyed western culture.
    The Rolling Stones destroyed western culture.
    Bob Dylan destroyed western culture.
    Sly & The Family Stone destroyed western culture.
    Black Sabbath destroyed western culture.
    P Funk destroyed western culture.
    The Sex Pistols destroyed western culture.
    The Ramones destroyed western culture.
    The Plasmatics destroyed western culture.
    Madonna destroyed western culture.
    Marilyn Manson destroyed western culture.
    Public Enemy destroyed western culture.
    NWA destroyed western culture.
    Miley Cyrus destroyed western culture.
    Lady Gaga destroyed western culture.
    Kanye West destroyed western culture.

    How can there possibly be anything left of western culture
    if the VDH’s have been correct all along? It’s almost as if this tired old song
    is some sort of third-rate oldie that hangs on against all odds generation
    after generation…..

  129. I think the Miley Cyrus thing is some combination of all the things others have pointed out and also some kind of reverse, double secret, annoyance that one of "our" pure white virgins tried to dance the "n" word and was told in no uncertain terms she couldn't. Half of VDH wants to demand that black people admit that if they can twerk and be black then Miley Cyrus has as a right to exploit and profit off their shtick. The other half wants Miley to stop race traitoring around and imitating black people because: shame.

  130. satch6:09 PM

    It really is the commenters that give VDH's piece context. There's a real hunger in Greater Wingnuttia for this kind of "There-Ain't-No-Standards-Anymore" bullshit, accompanied by "When-We-Stand-Up-For-Traditional-Values-The-Intelligentsia-Laugh-At-Us" victimological whining. Mona Charen wrote a piece that appeared in our local paper about two weeks ago on how rude and surly fast food workers are, indicating to her that Teh Yoots just don't appreciate the value of hard work and working your way up from the bottom; instead expecting to have everything handed to them. Never mind that I go to fast food restaurants probably as often as she does, and I've never been treated rudely. Also appearing in our local rag were matching columns by Michael Gerson and Cal Thomas on C.S.Lewis, and how reading him will instill Christian values in a culture growing increasingly faithless. And of course, who could forget David Brooks, Suzanne Fields... the list goes on. Hanson, of course, stands out due to his recasting of ancient Greek works to make his lameass points about the decadence of modern Liberalism, but all these guys have the formula down, and an audience slobbering for more.

  131. It's, "You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think." Apparently DP was asked to use "horticulture" correctly in a sentence. Parker's naughty bits are best left unadulterated (and I am shamelessly stealing, "triva rich but wisdom poor.")

  132. You should see VDH shake his booty to Kathryn Jean Lopez' dramatic reading of the Old Testament on DanceFever! Night during the National Review Old Fucks CruiseaPalooza. Talk about a rebel!

  133. AGoodQuestion7:10 PM

    What the fuck kind of sadist rag is this?

  134. j_bird7:19 PM

    Lichas next slammed his freed shaft with an upward flat stroke against thehelmet of the onrushing Epaminondas himself.

    Epaminondas, on his knees, murmured, "yeah, that's hot," and took Lichas' shaft into his mouth...

  135. AGoodQuestion7:19 PM

    Not to mention Donnie Darko. Small role, but the movie wouldn't be the same without him.

  136. AGoodQuestion7:28 PM

    I actually played Hamlet's father in a college production of The Skinhead Hamlet. Lotta fun.

  137. Budbear7:31 PM

    "In other words, once you have rebelled against hexameters, quarter notes, or realistic representation..."

    Hey! I got your realistic representation right here,

  138. Spaghetti Lee7:37 PM

    And also, one of the only things I remember from History of Modern Art 101 is that in the '50s, the CIA put their heft behind abstract expressionism specifically as a symbol of capitalism, freedom, Western values, etc, to contrast with-you guessed it-Soviet social realism, a representational style if there ever was one. Kinda puts a new spin on all the Hansonesque "Modern art was our downfall!" pieces out there, huh?

    The other things I remember from that class were the Italian guy who boxed and sold his feces and the American guy who sat in the basements of art galleries and masturbated on command. And that's why I myself can work up a cranky storm about that that particular era and ethos of modern art when I'm in the mood.

  139. Spaghetti Lee7:38 PM

    It'll be the next Aiden or Hunter, just you wait.

  140. satch7:42 PM

    The kind that thinks they can balance Charles Krauthammer with Mark Shields.

  141. J Neo Marvin7:43 PM

    Indiscriminate, sadistic violence: it's OK if you're a Spartan.

  142. satch7:53 PM

    Sorry, but it's gotta be Road House. Full of great lines, but my favorite? "Pain don't hurt".

  143. I took that to mean that Obama's big lie was that he had done something important in healthcare at all. Like "its a big fucking deal" was a lie.

  144. What about the new Coriolanus? Then one where they are mob bosses? I haven't seen it yet but my mom says its fantastic.

  145. Namgalsipsclar8:36 PM

  146. Tehanu8:57 PM

    I don't know much about Rockwell's personal politics either, but if his famous painting of the little black girl being escorted to school by Federal marshals was new today, tomorrow every one of the rightwing pundits would be screeching about the race card.

  147. Tehanu9:02 PM

    Me too. I didn't really get Rothko until I visited his chapel in, gosh, I forget where exactly, but where you are surrounded by his stuff. There's a peace vibe... I know that sounds silly but I can't explain it any better.

  148. Tehanu9:06 PM

    There's no accounting for taste. I once got into a big argument with somebody over Robert Motherwell, whose work I loathe, as compared to Franz Kline who is almost my favorite painter. She (the somebody) said that there was "obviously" no difference between them and I was just making it up. I hope maybe you'll "get" Rothko at some point, though.

  149. Waffle_Man9:35 PM

    No, animators are just naturally like that. I know a lot of them, and it's honestly a miracle that we ever get anything more coherent out of them.

  150. bekabot10:07 PM

    All the better to clutch 'em with, my dear.

  151. tigrismus10:13 PM

    Hanson fights against cultural relativism by producing absolute crap.

  152. XeckyGilchrist11:01 PM

    I'm sure he's a rock star on the MRA sites' comment threads.

  153. Ellis_Weiner11:59 PM

    In the arms of the jungle, animal instinct? Mass hysteria? And this is a problem why?

  154. DocAmazing12:12 AM

    The Nazis may have voted for the guy, but they didn't look at his insipid watercolors.

  155. There's a sight I wish I saw in real life more often.

  156. satch8:12 AM

    And THAT is central to my point...

  157. satch8:55 AM

    Translated from the original Pig Latin.

  158. Ellis_Weiner11:02 AM

    ("We've replaced Victor Davis Hanson's indictment of Who Destroyed Western Culture with the fact that the above list IS Western Culture. Let's see if he notices!")

  159. Ellis_Weiner11:08 AM

    "Why would a culture that canonizes a Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, or Lady
    Gaga have the discrimination to determine whether their chief executive
    tells the truth or lies?"

    I know the correct answer is, "Geez, Paw, I dunno. Why?" But this is a little masterpiece of fail, because a) "canonizes"? Really?, and b) where was VDH and his discrimination when W et al really WERE lying us into catastrophe?

  160. Ellis_Weiner11:16 AM

    I don't know if this is apocryphal, but I've heard Kline's mother looked at his black and white paintings and said, "I might have known you'd find the easy way, Franz." Meanwhile, Jenn, if you really want painters not to like, how about Yves Klein or Ellsworth Kelly. The one I could never get was Morris Louis. I'd stand in front of his things at MOMA and want to grab people and say, "Look at this. Seriously?"

  161. Ellis_Weiner11:19 AM

    Permission to seal "CruisaPalooza"?

  162. Ellis_Weiner11:24 AM

    I'd like to buy this comment a Coke in perfect har-mo-nee.

  163. JennOfArk11:49 AM

    Eh, I'll go back to Philistina just as soon as Rothko goes back to Charlatania.

  164. JennOfArk11:53 AM

    You forgot to mention that they're at the historic Parker House Hotel in Boston...

  165. JennOfArk12:08 PM

    You raise a good point. I feel pretty much the same about the other color block theory artists. Some of Yves Klein I'm down with, some of it - that which edges over into color block - not so much. We actually had a post over at my shitty blog about Yves Klein blue; my former co-blogger is obsessed with the color and had her kitchen cabinets finished in that exact tint.

  166. Halloween_Jack12:17 PM

    The Man Who Mistook His Chainsaw For Thermopylae

  167. Halloween_Jack12:18 PM

    Only when I'm beside myself.

  168. realinterrobang1:22 PM

    So be sweet and kind to Mother
    Now and then have a chat
    Buy her some candy or some flowers or a brand new hat
    But maybe you had better let it go at that may find yourself with a quite complex complex...

  169. realinterrobang1:28 PM

    I'm not a fan of Mondrian either. Anybody who can do something like 23 nearly identical pictures of trees is just not my kind of bent.

    Oh, since we're talking about art of all sorts, did you folks catch that VDH's reference to "urine" is almost certainly him still carping about Piss Christ? That was how many zillion years ago now? I mean, certainly before President Who-Neverheardofim that they conveniently flushed down the memory hole...

  170. realinterrobang1:33 PM

    Oh come on, you didn't like To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar?

  171. realinterrobang1:39 PM

    I know a few things about art, and I'm an unashamed Norman Rockwell fan. Guy was an actual liberal, and had a great eye for detail and a sense of humour. Also, his painting of Gus Grissom and John Young getting suited up is amazing.

    Kanye West, not so much, because it seems like every time he opens his mouth, something cringingly stupid comes out, so he just seems like an idiot to me.

  172. realinterrobang1:45 PM

    His watercolours weren't that bad.

    He was a better artist than a political leader, or perhaps that's my bias showing as someone who would have been wiped out in Aktion T-4, dunno.

  173. Certainly. As long as "Old Fucks" precedes it, you're golden!

  174. realinterrobang1:46 PM

    "Gules" is a heraldic term for red. If that's red, you're doing something wrong...or at least way too much.

  175. JennOfArk9:34 PM

    I didn't see that version; I saw the original, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. To be fair, part of the reason I never saw the re-make was because...Patrick Swayze.

  176. Mooser11:04 PM

    "First the Prophets made us stagger

    And then the Oracle sounded off,
    And it seems as though the King's
    A Mother-shagger.
    Tho he's often made us sore,
    No one's called him that before,
    But things are getting so bad,
    It hardly even matters!"

    It's one of those modern translations. Lacks diginity. Got no stroph.

  177. Mooser11:07 PM

    'If she says your behavior is heinous...'

  178. Mooser11:14 PM

    "my former co-blogger is obsessed with the color and had her kitchen cabinets finished in that exact tint."

    Great art inspires us, and always finds an appropriate place in our lives. And yet, behind those blue-tinted panels is there cereal murder?

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