Friday, February 10, 2012

Let's Epatez the Liberaloisie!

Traveling the long hours across the Atlantic on Thursday I got a chance to catch up on some "classic" movies.  As in Planet of the Apes and Close Encounters.  Not to mention Sunset Boulevard.

I admit it.  I had never seen those great movies.

I had no idea.  No idea that the Charlton Heston vehicle was in fact an allegory on our horrible racist, speciesist, fundamentalist society.  Or that Close Encounters was a gentle poke (gentle because of Steven Spielberg) at the Vietnam era government that, you'll recall, was always lying to us.  Unlike the administration of the wonderful One.

Nor did I know that Sunset Boulevard was an entry in the good old hard-boiled genre, including cameos by all the old Hollywood moguls like Cecil B. DeMille.  But that is another story.

Let's get back to Planet of the Apes.  Ever since the invention of the German cult of the creative, or what Charles Taylor calls "expressive individualism," a favorite reflex of the creative class has been the "challenge" to bourgeois hypocrisies.  The Sixties was a bumper decade in that regard, especially in popular culture as all kinds of mainstream entertainment mocked the old Protestant and anti-Communist pieties and hypocrisies.  Thus M*A*S*H, Star Trek, Archie Bunker.  Young liberal artists were granted open season to epater la bourgeoisie.

The great cultural offensive of the counter-culture wasn't quite as brave and noble counter-cultural as liberals liked to pretend, because the transgressive "challengers" of the status quo actually had quiet and not so quiet support from the cultural establishment.

You can appreciate just how substantial that support was if you try to imagine a Planet of the Conservatives where conservatives own the culture and rule over liberals and mouth liberal pieties about race and global warming and wind farms and silence their critics with PC.

Yes, the measure of political and cultural power is the extent to which you can silence the opposition.  No, let's correct that.  The measure of political and cultural power is the extent to which the opposition doesn't even have to be "silenced" but rather never dares to venture its opinion.  How many people today think heretical thoughts but fear being branded as racists, sexists, homophobes, and know that there would be no support from a liberal media for their transgressive opinions, unlike the "kids" of the Sixties.

But some people are detecting cracks in the liberal monolith.  The flap over contraception in the Catholic hospitals is a marker.  How far can the Catholics bend over for the liberal bullies without disappearing into the liberal cultural hegemony?

Let's look at the mortgage meltdown.

Here's President Obama praising a $25 billion deal over abusive bank foreclosures.
We have reached a landmark settlement with the nation's largest banks that will speed relief to hardest hit homeowners and some of the most abusive practices of the mortgage industry. And begin to turn the page on an era of recklessness that has left so much damage in its wake.
This continues the Democratic talking points on the mortgage meltdown, that it was unregulated "greedy bankers" that enticed innocent homeowners into deals they couldn't afford.  It flies against a competing Republican narrative that the banks were strong-armed into floating mortgages to people that couldn't afford them by Big Government regulation in the Community Reinvestment Act and the two mortgage GSE giants, Fannie and Freddie.

Imagine, if you like, a sit-com about a single twentysomething mortgage broker that's always out of town at some Fannie-Freddie shindig where they are pushing mortgages to under-served communities.  And his flatmate is an ACORN activist that organizes demonstrations at banks when she is free from those endless voter registration drives with no ID required.  I know, it's the stuff of fantasy.

But we won't start to turn the corner on hegemonic liberalism until a new generation of transgressive artists has the cojones and the conservative establishment backing to stage frontal assaults on liberal lies, shibboleths, and hypocrisies with satire, investigative journalism, and allegory.

Perhaps that new era is just beginning.  We can but hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment