Archives for posts with tag: Conservative

The maxim that “the personal is political” has been around since its origin in the 1960s feminist movement. It postulates that what happens in one’s personal and private life is actually quite relevant to and influenced by the larger, structural factors at play on a macro scale. But really, everything is political. Mezzo level institutions and organizations are political. Media is political. Neutrality is political. Everything is interconnected, and what happens anywhere is going to be shaped by, and will shape in its own discrete way, the world and its ideology.

When it comes to film and television, the same holds true. In general terms, action and horror films are inherently conservative. I appreciate a wide diversity exists across all genres, and some great films are great because they subvert common tropes, but by and large, action and horror films are inherently conservative. There is some threat to the in-group from an outside force, and the only difference between the two is whether the protagonist goes on the offensive or the defensive. Action films are usually a bit more broad in that the threat is typically to upset the status quo (think of the Joker who wants to change the world, and Batman who wants it to stay the same – Batman’s ‘solution’ to the world’s problems is ultimately to remove all the deviants). Or you can think of Captain America: Civil War which is one long advertisement for libertarianism (don’t let oversight committees hold me accountable; I, as an individual, know best). Horror films are more personal in that the threat is much more intimate. The threat is more overwhelming and overpowering. The viscera is embellished. But the overarching theme between the two is clear: the Other is dangerous, and you better fight or the bogeyman will get you. Think about it this way, conservative politicians and pundits use horror movie rhetoric to justify action movie policies.

They may seem like us, but there is just enough of a difference that their inhumanity is truly revealed

In contrast, adventure films are inherently progressive. The protagonist leaves their comfort zone, goes on their hero’s journey, and learns something from having experienced the different. Consider the original trilogy of Star Wars which would be incredibly problematic by today’s standards of identity politics: every human is white except for the one black guy who is pretty shady. Yet by the end of the story, Luke has found friends, teachers, and allies across a wide range of species with different languages, cultures, and lifestyles. The final confrontation is an overcoming of hatred, and the humanity of the antagonist is very literally revealed when Darth Vader connects with his son in his dying moments. It isn’t an outsider that is the villain of Star Wars, it’s hatred. It’s an ideology that can be overcome through non-violent resistance – Luke wins by refusing to fight.

The politics of a thing doesn’t have to be overt. It can be baked into the structure of the way a story is told. A character can have an exploratory relationship with the different, or it can be a threat. Protagonists in stories are paragons of how to interact with the world, and the way that the storytellers frame that interaction will inherently be political one way or another. Even the really obvious political messages like in Civil War don’t seem obvious because it is the framework of the story shaping the message rather than a character yelling at you that libertarianism is amazing. Though the beard Steve Rogers grows afterward may be telling…

Sharks, the Thanoses (Thanii?) of the sea, being shown here in a radical propaganda film that tells us that even those maligned as unthinkingly violent can be our friends… if we leave our comfort zone

Superficial politics is what is commonly associated with politics in movies today. Movies that base their entire marketing campaign on how much of a woman their protagonist is, or ensure that a minor character is Asian, or show a brief allusion to the existence of homosexuality in the corner of their film: these are what instigate the great political debates of our time.

When a film goes to great lengths to include every identity, it feels hollow. Films are finite, which means they have only so much time for character development, and peppering the screen with diverse, one-line characters is far more tokenistic than it is a genuine political statement. Even a television series doesn’t have enough time to invest in all the colours of the rainbow. Representation is important in films, but tokenism is not representation. Better to have less representation than just a rich tapestry of background characters, and then produce greater depth.

There is just… boy! There is just one of every kind of you, isn’t there?

I’ve written previously about feminist ethics in ‘feminist’ films. In this case I want to look at the politics. Replacing the male lead of an action film with a female doesn’t change the inherently conservative nature of the format. This likely contributes to the intense backlash that these types of films receive from white men: they are no longer presented as the in-group, which means they must be part of the out-group, which means they are closer to the one-dimensionally monstrous villains than to the heroine saving her own status quo. When Captain Marvel destroys the patriarchy with her laser fists, she isn’t creating a new, brighter future because the world she is saving belongs only to the in-group of the comfortable female watching the film from home. The world isn’t actually changed in any meaningful way, it just doesn’t have Jude Law in it anymore. The dynamic of the out-group threat remains the same; it is simply the content that is shifting. Here the narrative is exulting my elimination, and it doesn’t feel all that great. Hence, backlash.

Jonathan Haidt paints purity as an inherently conservative virtue, and I agree that it is, but it exists within progressive circles as well. When the left cancels itself on Twitter because someone isn’t being the perfect incarnation of allyship, that is the same manifestation of out-group exclusion found in any conservative diatribe. Framing old, white men as the dastardly fiends to be destroyed by a quick-witted teenage white girl and her motley crew of minority friends and LGBT acronyms is a shallow political message of identity and a deeper presentation of group categorization. The categories may be new and turn traditional categorization on its head, but the process remains the same.

A girl!? Inventing things!? Harumph and such!

Superficial politics in media will never change anyone’s mind because it isn’t intending to. It’s probably encouraging further divisiveness because conservative ideology is inherently divisive. Its intentions are to make money. Is it such a shock that billion dollar corporations aren’t actually as progressive as they pretend to be? Controversy breeds money, and enough people buy into shallow political pandering to turn a profit because they’re thrilled to be a part of an in-group for once, and their political education has come from triple-digit character count polemics on social media. Plus it pisses off the alt-right, and therefore it must be good! This kind of film will continue to be made so long as this continues to be the state of our world. If Fox News really wanted to end this manufactured culture war, they’d just stop ranting about it, and it would probably go away. I guess they have their own ratings to consider.

The thing is, though, more people probably learned how to open up to the outside world and fight against fascism from Star Wars than they did from the Ghostbusters remake. Ideology has a place in film, but it needs good storytelling to be effective. The right complains about Hollywood’s conversion to ‘woke’ culture, but progressive ideals have always found their home in fiction. The issue is panderous, bad writing and tired conservative tropes dressed up in progressive clothing that are alienating to the new out-group.

My political activism involves liking movies with really rabid comment sections on their YouTube trailers

I like action movies. Batman is my favourite superhero, and I thought Civil War was better than Infinity War. I dislike horror movies for the most part, but not for the reasons listed here. You can enjoy things and ignore the politics within them, but that doesn’t mean that the politics aren’t there. Those who don’t recognize them are going to be much more susceptible, and that sounds ominous, but it goes both ways. Maybe people will learn to be kind to strangers if they saw it in a movie once? There is a difference between good politics and bad politics, despite what those evil, relativistic postmodernists think!! Good politics represented as preachy and tokenistic only reinforces bad politics. Good politics embedded in a good story will go infinitely further.

They say that if you’re not a socialist at 20 you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 30 then you have no brain. Now this quotation may have originated as derision against naive republicans by the more sober and rational monarchists, but now that democracy is pretty much universally understood as the undeniably greater alternative, our current incarnation of this maxim must be the definitely true version. That being the case, now that I’m over 30, I must concede that justice is a worthless cause and self-interest is the highest virtue. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m stupid enough to deny the supremacy of inherited, incestuous leadership! …I mean, conservatism!

So here it is. My conservative conversion expressed through the medium of cute animal pictures. Eight of them.

1.

23941_orig

I believe that anti-white rhetoric has a censoring effect on my speech, but I never quite make the leap to believing that anti-black, anti-women, and anti-LGBT rhetoric might have the same impact

2.

129bf5ac0e846765860d6acfda166792--plaid-tartan-tie

Communism can never work because centralized power is intrinsically corrupting and destructive, unless it resides within the corporate executive office, in which case centralized power is the bedrock of civilization itself

3.

catsdogs

You might think it is disingenuous that I equate anti-fascists with fascists, but it makes a lot more sense when you remember that I also equate refugees with terrorists and war criminals

4.

07e5a31b271f7dc58284c6fbfeeb2aad--king-charles-spaniels-cavalier-king-charles

I absolutely loathe the permissive, liberal, welfare culture that surrounds me, but I refuse to welcome the statistically more conservative, community-oriented, and traditionalist immigrant groups because of their “culture”

5.

b3aa9e6408d079dc47a8b2ac883094bd--military-police-police-dogs

Let’s convince those abroad of the supremacy of our values by murdering their families. If that doesn’t work, it can only be because they reject our values

6.

9bf03351048d78802cdc11d6233cc768--corgi-funny-corgi-puppies

I vehemently support law and order policies, but not corporate regulations. Rules are for people, not businesses. If you put arsenic in my drink, I will revel in your lethal injection, but if your company dumps toxic chemicals into the river that feeds into my reservoir, I will support you 100%

7.

82548950

I claim to be devoted to my neighbours, but I believe that my personal views should supersede the collective view when deciding the community’s future. If there is any attempt to include me in communal responsibility, I will call it theft. I actually reject the very notion of society because I enjoy pretending that I transcend any kind of real participation within it

8.

CS13875439

I choose to ignore the entire scientific community simply to spite liberals

9.

redwing-cherokee-nuke

For some reason I am ominously comfortable with a nuclear holocaust.┬áLike, I’m sure you get by now that this is a parody, and to be perfectly honest I think that tradition and community-values are important to keep around, and that the conversations surrounding trade and globalization are nuanced and complex, but like, what the fuck is the deal with being just TOTALLY FINE with world-ending catastrophes?

I know that last one wasn’t a cute animal picture. I only promised you eight.