Lots of alien eyes online, alien eye, alieneye, alien-eye, alien eyes, my-alien-eyes, alien eye wear, several blogs on variations of the words. I didn't check alien eyesores, maybe I should have. Well yesh, didn't know so many people suffered from my affliction. It is a relief that no one on Daily Kos is so afflicted, except for me. If you can think of any other words that would describe my affliction, please, let me know.
The conservative mind is a cunning animal to hunt, partly because he lays claim to every single thing out there, like a spastic house cat pissing on every shoe in your closet. They even claim most movies as "conservative." Go here if you don't believe me:
omg, I don't have time to knife into all that! I'm tempted to dismiss the entire venture by stating that conservatives say movies are conservative because they say so...but that would be too easy.
First, we have to solve the conundrum of what, exactly, are conservative values. I don't mean what conservatives say they are, but judging them by their actions. Well, they like rich people. They like to tell others what to do. They aren't open to new ideas. They oppose most science. Conservatives seem obsessed with making grandma eat cat food. They engage in magical thinking, dismissing any inconvenient facts as irrelevant. They aren't brave, not the ones in leadership positions anyway - cough - chickenhawks - cough. They're mostly white. Enough of this, let's play their game and generalize their values by turning them into simple one word descriptions: biased, wealthy, greedy, miserly, close-minded, cowards. Am I being too hard on them?
Let's now layer this onto movies past and present. Number one the list is Witness. Number two on the list is Atlas Shrugged. That is the sound of your head exploding. Witness is a movie about a cop living as an Amish-man, experiencing their tight-knit community, helping to build a barn, and in the end saved by the community's commitment to him. Remember the end, when the Amish community interposes itself between the killer and Harrison Ford's character? Atlas Shrugged is one of Ayn Rand's rants pretending to be a novel, recently made into a very crappy movie. Rand is all about the elevation of the individual to the detriment of the community. The individual is all to her, nothing else exists. I've always viewed Rand's crackpot philosophy of Objectivism as a variant of anarchic individualism. So a movie stroking the ego of the solitary man is right next to a homage to an idealized human community. That makes no sense. One is the negation of the other. You can't have as your values two opposing beliefs. You can't be a pacifist and a warmonger. You can't honor both bravery and cowardice. No one sane can. My head just exploded.
Maybe this is just an exception. Let's look further down the list. Wow, conservatives claim Lord of the Rings AND Star Wars as their own. How does that work? Strip away everything else, and LOTR and Star Wars share one thing in common. They are about an inclusive group made up of wildly disparate people (many zoologically disparate) unifying to defeat a common enemy. The heroes build alliances. It's right the fuck in front of you in Return, the ewoks are welcomed into the alliance against the Empire and save the day. It's right in front of you in Two Towers, when the heroes unite elves, men, and animate trees in a winning alliance against Saruman. How does that stack up against conservative values? Instead of trying to make their case to ethnic groups, the poor, and the working class, conservatives are doing their best to disenfranchise these groups. Voter suppression laws are springing up like weeds in May in states dominated by Republican legislatures.
Okay, I'll try one more time. Let's see what else is on the list...Day of the Jackal? Really? Really? A movie about a bunch of right wingers trying to smoke de Gaulle after he pulled France out of Algeria? A movie whose central figure is the guy sent to kill de Gaulle? The hero of the movie is a FRENCH police detective, a government employee. There is rampant nudity, adultery, implied homosexual activity, and government spying. The New World Order pitches in as the French cop calls in favors from around the world in an attempt to track the assassin. Aren't conservatives supposed to be opposed to these sorts of things? Didn't conservatives rename french fries as freedom fries a while back? Isn't France the home of the devil in their cult?
Some of their choices don't have anything to do with the movies themselves, but the backstory to the directors, the actors, or the critical reaction. Several Reagan movies made the list, presumably only because Reagan was in them. Wasn't Reagan an FDR Democrat into his middle age? Wasn't he once president of the Screen Actors Guild? This goes for Chuck Heston, too. Heston even took part in civil rights protests in the 1960s, I think. We mustn't mention those facts about their fearless leaders.
Let's try another of these lists, there are two at the National Review site.
Where do I start? I actually know people in Hollywood. There may be a few more minds there on the left side of things, but they are in the minority. At least among my friends and associates, it's more of a center-right thing now. But of course, this is all nonsense, since green is the color of their party. The dollar rules all in Hollywood.
"...freedom, families, patriotism, traditions, and more...." Oh really, so taking the right to have families away from people you disagree with is supporting the idea of families? Cheap shot, sorry. See the trick here? Universal human values, American values, suddenly become conservative values. And there's their proof up on the screen. Faulty logic, I know, since the men and women who wrote and made the movies they admire were mostly NOT conservative and only meant to portray human values in a fitting, artistic way to make money. But conservatives try anyway. I'm going to go Nazi on you. Remember Goebbels? "Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths." Or this one, from dear Adolf. "But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over." These two gentlemen were merely repeating something American ad men had known since the 19th Century. Conservatives follow their trail. Repeat enough the idea that basic human values, American values, are their values alone. Sooner or later, it's a given. What's that make the people on the outside?
Let's take a look at a couple of their movie picks. Too much, an abundance of conservative nuttery here, hidden behind a well-spoken facade. They contend that The Incredibles is a conservative movie, in part because it was "...a story that celebrates marriage, courage, responsibility, and high achievement." I see, so marital fidelity is a conservative value? Anyone asked Newt about that? Cheap shot, sorry. Conservatives are brave, so the rest of us are cowards? So that means Cheney and Bush were being brave when they cut and ran from serving in Vietnam? Another cheap shot, oops. The last one, "high achievement," sticks in my craw, since the movie goes out of its way to show the parents teaching their children NOT to take advantage of their powers. Or did the guy who wrote this skip the last few minutes of the movie? No, instead he ignores those parts that don't fit his paradigm. Which signals a political purpose behind his choices, behind the entire endeavor of "conservative" films.
I'm running out of space (if I ever go over 2000 words, please smack me up the side of my head), so I won't even go into the appearance of 300, Lord of the Rings, or Master and Commander on this list. Especially 300, which, if you know a little about ancient Greek history (please forgive me Frank Miller, I'm usually a big fan of your work), you'll realize 300 is a profoundly anti-American movie. The Spartans were not big on liberty. Word.
This page is an example of the old paleoconservatives, you know, the sane people? It was written in 1994, and though it contains a couple whoppers in the intro, the selection does kinda make sense...though once again they took the Star Wars saga as a conservative tome, a harbinger of Reagan. Too bad for them that racial inclusion was never in the cards for the Republican party or for conservatism in general. Still, the list is a little more sane than the looney-tunes/grab-it-all philosophy of recent years.
Why does all this matter? Simple. We are Americans. There are certain values inculcated into us at an early age as to what that label means. We like to believe we're more than just a label. If you can declare ownership over those values, you can paint your political opponents as illegitimate, as Outsiders, and the Other. This is an old game. Frederick Douglass understood it, that's why he was so insistent at getting African Americans into the fight during the Civil War. You break the expectations painted up, you open minds to new possibilities. Otherwise the public mind continues its imprisonment in fog. Progressives shouldn't think this is mere silliness by brain-dead conservatives. It ain't. Fight back at every level, including culture. Free the American mind from the fog it's been in for time out of mind.
"Taking the culture back from the conservative right, one topic at a time."