Last week, my friend John Nolte of Big Hollywood fame did one of his classic take-downs of an hysterical leftist reviewer, some doof who went ape over the new family film Secretariat. To read the fearsome Noltenator at his Texas Chainsaw best, go here.
But what struck me most–moved me most–about this excellent post was this paragraph:
Every smurf-less left-wing film released over the last few years has not only failed miserably at the box office, they’ve also been artistic embarrassments of the highest order. And yet, a good number of openly conservative films and those openly embraced by conservatives have been monster hits: “The Blind Side,” “300,” “The Dark Knight,” “Fireproof,” “Taken,” and both “Iron Man” films have grossed more than the production costs of all those anti-war flops combined. ”The Expendables” is currently thisclose to crossing a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide. Then there’s “Salt,” the “Twilight” saga, “The Book of Eli,” “Grown Ups,” “Gran Torino,” the Narnia trilogy, and the Pixar collection — all of which appealed to the right side of the political spectrum and have, to say the least, done better than respectable business.
Nolte goes on to say that we right-wing cultural revolutionaries should not declare victory yet. I agree with that, but I believe that–because of guys like Nolte, and his boss Andrew Breitbart, and Jon Voight and Glenn Beck and all the people in the arts and culture business who have refused to keep their mouths shut–we are winning this fight to take America’s culture back from the lockstep left and we ultimately will win it, with great and good consequences for the nation.
But what will victory mean exactly? And what will come afterward? Revolutions famously devour their own children as those addicted to strutting radicalism, unwilling to sink back into the everyday routine of life, fall to internecine fighting over smaller and smaller heresies to their self-righteous orthodoxy. Are conservatives just waiting to become the same sort of censors, blacklisters and distorters cultural leftists have been lo these past forty or fifty years?
I personally don’t want to see American arts in which leftists are barred from launching their assaults on the principles of liberty and piety. I’m not interested in stopping filmmakers or novelists who want to use nudity or foul language–as I sometimes do. (It’s amusing to think that Shakespeare is the only screenwriter to slip an overt reference to a woman’s private parts past the Hayes office. See the 1936 film of Romeo and Juliet: “her…quivering thigh and the demensne that there adjacent lie.”) I don’t need to live in a sheltered G-rated universe where the arts can’t serve their essential role of holding the mirror up to nature and exposing the hypocrisies and evils that infect every human enterprise and society.
What I would like to see is an American culture that understands, if only as subtext, what elevates mankind: love, faith and sacrifice–and individual liberty, without which those other noble ventures can’t be freely chosen. I would like to see an end to knee-jerk praise for the shocking and perverted, for work that casually tosses aside the eternal verities to secure an image of tolerance or ironic cool. That means we need more critics who aren’t so pathetically desperate to prove their hipness bona fides to the ignorant young.
I would like to see culture makers whose hearts are responsible to reason and whose minds are responsible to their moral core. If they believe in God, let them say why they do, and if not, let them give some reason other than their own smug arrogance at being in with the current trend. Likewise, if they believe in liberty, let them sing its praises, and if not, let them tell us why men should be servants of the government rather than the other way around. If all they’ve got to say is that the other guy is Hitler or a heretic, if all they can do is shatter icons they haven’t the talent to make or blaspheme gods they haven’t the faith to praise, let the critics and audience turn their backs on them instead of encouraging them with slavish oohs and aahs.
We already know who we are. That is, we know who we’re supposed to be: we’re the people of liberty and reason, whose God is Love. I would like to see a culture that shapes the image of that ideal for us, even if (as in Macbeth or The Sopranos) it’s just the silhouette of that image formed by the degradation and evil that always surround it.
Less correctness, more truth. Yeah, I would like to live to see that happen in American culture. And actually, I’m starting to believe I will.