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I'll admit, we're probably sick of hearing about Clint Eastwood's Harvey act at the Republican convention.  And none of us probably have much of a desire to see Dinesh D'Souza's insane Obama-smearing "documentary" 2016: Obama's America.  But Salon film critic Andrew O'Hehir has this piece out today that uses both of these embarassing moments to ask a very good question: Why does the GOP and, indeed, conservatives in general have such a problem with popular culture?  And why does that lead them to do so many massively humiliating pop culture moments?

It makes for a fun read and this paragraph in particular is very entertaining, depicting just how out of place Republicans are in Hollywood, especially when they try to fundraise there:

Last weekend Mitt Romney's campaign held just such an event in Beverly Hills and most of the names on the guest list were downright depressing: A few aging prodcers like action-movie impresario Jerry Bruckheimer and 1970s game show pioneer Burt Sugarman; a few showbiz relics like Pat Boone and Connie Stevens. Almost the only contemporary and recognizable figures were Patricia Heaton (you know! Debra from "Everybody Loves Raymond"!) and "CSI:NY" star Gary Sinise, quite likely the only Republican who ever directed a Sam Shepard play. Indeed, Sinise is so beloved by the lonely cadre of culturally savvy right-wingers -  they do exist! -  that former George W. Bush and John McCain aide Nicolle Wallace floated a rumor in 2009 that he might run for president. (Give the way things look for Romney right now, I bet a lot of Republicans would love to go back in time and work a little harder on that.)
Honestly, I did not know that.  And it's a good thing it never materialized, because the last thing we need is the GOP fawning over another conservative Hollywood type who decides to run for public office (even though Hollywood is the center of all things evil and wrong about America).  The embarassing history of that, from Ronald Reagan to Fred Dalton Thompson, could fill a volume the size of a phone book.

But the most enjoyable part of this piece is when O'Hehir recaps what may be the most humiliating of all recent conservative pop culture disasters. The ongoing Atlas Shrugged cinematic adaptation, you ask? Afraid not, even though the fact that despite the film's tank job at the box office someone actually threw away more money to make an upcoming sequel is pretty humiliating enough.  (Hell, the reviews for the first fim were bad enough, like Roger Ebert calling it "the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone's vault.") No, the event he discusses is An American Carol, the Michael Moore-bashing "comedy" that seemed to features appearances from every conservative in Hollywood and seemed less like a movie then some massive group therapy for the isolated righties of the film industry. I'll let O'Hehir describe it:

If you haven't heard about this movie, you should - it's the one in which anti-American filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin Farley), after accepting the Leni Riefenstahl Award from Paris Hilton for his documentary "Die, You American Pigs," receives "Christmas Carol"-style visits from George Patton, George Washington and country music star Trace Adkins, who shows him a future in which Los Angeles is occupied by Islamists and Michigan has been nuked by al-Qaida. And it's every bit as good as it sounds! Despite a highly professional cast and director (comedy veteran David Zucker), "An American Carol" is simultaneously amateurish, ugly and profoundly unhinged, with an angry, paranoid edge that virtually oozes off the screen. Compared to that movie, the mawkish, in-your-face earnestness of "October Baby" feels like a restrained masterwork of the early French New Wave.

"An American Carol" was one of the biggest conservative efforts to engage mainsteam moviegoers directly, relentlessly pumped on the air by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. It was also a massive flop, earning back only about one-third of its $20 million budget.

I've only seen part of An American Carol and that was enough.  It is a spectacuarly bad and unfunny movie and seeing it tank at the box office was quite satisfying. I tend to hold it up as proof that conservatives don't know how to do satire.

Go check out the entire article.  It's a good enlightenment to why conservatives continue on their path of pop culture blunders with the likes of Eastwood's imaginary friend and Distort D'Newsa's attempt at aping Leni Riefenstahl. Because they don't get it and perhaps they never will.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They ain't POPular... (12+ / 0-)

    ...so they don't understand pop...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:18:47 PM PDT

  •  There are some dots to connect... (16+ / 0-)

    Broadly speaking, the arts value members of the species who are apt at communication, which is premised on connectivity.  Right-wing ideology is difficult to shoehorn into such minds.  It's an unnatural fit.  The right-wing brain is deficient in areas relating to empathy and expression.  It lacks aptitude in disciplines that are inherently predicated on acknowledging the reality of other people's existence, including communicative arts.  

  •  Please Consult Your Favorite Old World Folk Music (3+ / 0-)

    and literature about the nature of the nobility.

    Take as many decades as you need; the question is worth 1 point.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:34:22 PM PDT

  •  Given that they can't apparently understand that (4+ / 0-)

    introducing an entirely new cast of people we mostly haven't heard of for what is supposedly a sequel to the spectacularly failed "Atlas Shrugged" suggests all by itself why they don't "get" modern pop culture...

    ...had they been at the wheel for the Indiana Jones series, the lead character played by Harrison Ford probably would have been replaced by Chuck Norris, Gary Sinise, and Kevin  Farley in the subsequent movies...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:41:09 PM PDT

  •  A newish acquaintance of mine (6+ / 0-)

    who seems reasonably intelligent but generally unhinged, was talking up the Dinesh D'Sousa hit piece a few weeks ago.  The only thing I learned from his ravings was that D'Sousa's whole thesis seemed to be that President Obama's background may lead him not to be a stalwart champion of American exceptionalism.  I suspect that, in turn, is why the RNC spent so much time on chest-thumping about American exceptionalism.  You'll notice, though, that they really haven't mentioned it since, so I guess the notion doesn't poll well.

    Romney: The guy that laid off your father. Ryan: The guy that thinks your father should starve because he couldn't keep a job.

    by Liberal Protestant on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:42:54 PM PDT

  •  The short answer for me?? (6+ / 0-)

    They have a problem with everything they can't manipulate and or control. Pop culture is like a puppy, you never know where it's gonna go or what it will do when it gets there. They hate that "un-certainty".Just look at that soul-less,lying,sociopathic control freak that they're running for the presidency.No problem with that guy.They certainly know what they're getting with him.

  •  Eastwood's made some good ones (5+ / 0-)

    He's capable of working with complex nuance.  It made the recent bizarre Dada-ist performance at the convention all the more pathetic.

    But generally, it's true that the fervent right wingers just haven't got a fabulous streak of creativity.  Even though there's a few exceptions.  Very few.

    "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party (quoted by Paul Ryan without proper attribution)

    by Land of Enchantment on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:04:09 PM PDT

    •  I don't consider Eastwood a right-winger (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills, packrat

      He's more a libertarian than anything else.  He just seems really disappointed in Obama and that clouded his judgement here.

      I would also include John Wayne, who was a major right-winger, but also did some genuinely great movie (usually under a great director, however, like Ford or Siegel). When Wayne directed, however, he really went off the rails and into conservative fever dream territory. The Alamo is jingoistic nonsense and The Green Berets...ugh.

  •  Wow, I'm in the film biz and I've never even heard (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, walkshills

    Of 'An American Carol'!! I have hundreds of friends and contacts in every field, from P.A.s, camera, sound, makeup, wardrobe, sets, props, writers, directors, publicity, actroids and producers - and I never heard a single word!

    It really hits home how utterly out of touch these people are. It would be sad if they weren't so utterly vile human beings.

    (romney)/RYAN 2012 - Look at those clouds. It's beautiful. Just look at those things!

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:23:46 PM PDT

  •  Looking at the cast of "An American Carol" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    there are a few that I would recognize as RWers: Grammar, Jon Voigt, Trace Adkins, James Woods.

    Some others leave me a little dumbfounded since they weren't known (at least to me) as Republican/conservative activists: David Alan Grier? Gary Coleman? Leslie Nielsen? Mary Hart? Dennis Hopper - his Wiki bio showed him endorsing Obama in '08 due to McCain picking Palin.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:40:29 PM PDT

    •  Art combined with industry. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RockyMtnLib

      While some of the actors were probably really committed to the theme of the movie and wanted to make some kind of statement others were probably just looking to make some quick spending money with an easy gig.


      Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

      by jayden on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:21:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of the most stimulating things (5+ / 0-)

    about Pop Culture is that it is Constantly Changing
    and constantly moving Forward.

    The folks on the Right don't want to Go Forward.
    They want to go Backwards to 1950 Something.

    All Important decisions made by White Males Only.
    A US Monopoly on Nuclear Weapons.
    Segregation to keep "Those People" where they Belong.

    All popular culture was Vapid, Insipid stuff like
    Pat Boone, Lawrence Welk and Ozzie & Harriet.

    No Elvis.  No Beatles.  No Rock & Roll.  No Hippies.
    No Drugs. No Oil Shortage. No Birth Control.

    And Nobody Questioning the "Status Quo" that
    God Himself created for the United States of America.

    Never. Ever.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:44:54 PM PDT

    •  Yes. This. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terabthia2

      Conservatives in the 1770s thought we should just pay the damn taxes, and "representation is just this century's witch trials. Distracting and messy."

      Heck, conservatives in 1619 were the ones that dismissed "the whole sailing off to start a new life thing" as totally irresponsible.

      Keep everything exactly the same. It was the conservative Dream for America before there was even an America.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:05:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gary Sinese?????? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, susanala

    Nicolle Wallace, Bush and McCain supporter said:

    "The natural strengths that an actor brings to politics would come in handy to anyone going up against Obama in 2012. We will need an effective communicator who can stand toe to toe with Obama’s eloquence."
    Gary Sinese? vs Obama?

    Hold on. Need to catch my breath... tears... laughing. at..the..same...time....

    •  Maybe if Bruckheimer produces the campaign? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      themank

      Sinese is actually a decent actor.  He might be able to act the part of a good candidate --especially if the campaign were in the hands of Bruckheimer, a competent director,a few good writers...Oh! I know! A professional makeup artist!  

      This would so far exceed the current ticket, the idea laughably and sadly actually starts to make some sense.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:15:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've always seen art as quintessentially being (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terabthia2

    About the tension and interplay between the powerful and the powerless.  The powerful can be a shark in a school of fish, the bright moonbeam across a dark landscape, the power of a child over the mother who adores him.

    When you ("you" being the right) insist on being the powerful no matter what the cost, no matter how ugly, no matter the outcome or whom you exploit, there's no tension. There's no art in Donald Trump's buildings (nor apparently Dinesh D'Souza's films) : there's just excess. Art is often about what you leave out. But the right hoards power and resources. The idea of intentionally leaving something out is foreign to it.

    The right doesn't understand balance. It doesn't understand yin and yang. It doesn't understand Newton's third law of motion.

    Popular culture is society's artful reaction to power, which yes, the left likes to enjoy; but the right holds so tightly that it can't open itself up to anything else.

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:56:03 AM PDT

  •  Because they're against popular culture (0+ / 0-)

    And anything else they can't corporatize or christianize. Been raving against Hollywood for decades.

    A society is judged by how well it cares for those in the dawn of life, the children. By how well it cares for those in the twilight of life, the elderly. And, by how well it cares for those on the edge of life; the poor, the sick, and the disabled.

    by BobBlueMass on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:57:53 AM PDT

  •  I don't know, but this seems a good spot (0+ / 0-)

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:46:48 AM PDT

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