Home / General / Conservatism is the new plainsong

Conservatism is the new plainsong


I feel that I’ve been reading posts that mock conservatives who insist that being in favor of patriarchal values for everyone (whether everyone wants patriarchal values or not) makes conservatives the real rebels, for as long as I’ve been reading blogs.

I’ve also regularly learned that conservatives are on the verge of getting their own TV shows and movie production companies and web browsers and running away to very redundantly join the circus.

Writers like Edroso at Alicublog are very good at skewering the wanna-be hep cats. I think the regular announcements that Conservatism is Hot, Hip (not never hip-hop) and Happening stems from a few things.

There’s the lack of anything that smacks of originality that is the hallmark of the conservative movement. It turns out a desire to reinforce and maintain a form of society that is thousands of years old doesn’t allow for much flexibility of thought.

There’s the need to keep the fresh blood flowing (and not just so Peter Thiel does not have to drink … wine). Come hang out with people who think music your parents listened to as kids is still cool the cool kids is a much better appeal to the younger marks generation than Come hang out with a bunch of duds who sound like that one hairy-nosed uncle who stands two inches away from you and shouts his political opinions and killer halitosis right in your face.

Finally, Cons may be visited by the nagging realization that in all the books and TV shows and movies they like, the characters who go around forcing other people to Obey The Rules are the bad guys. However, if the RW was able to leave people alone it would not be the RW. So they lie. In the same way that they declare they’re Christians while doing something that Christ fellow said not to do, they declare they’re non-conformists while furiously stamping on anyone who doesn’t conform with their view of normal.

Does it work? Maybe. Will competing appeals from supremacist orgs prove more alluring? That depends on how quickly the Republicans turn the economy and welfare programs into a smoking crater. If history is any guide, whites turn to supremacy when they’re desperate.

Below – real punk rockers doing the best things so conservatively.

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  • Solar System Wolf

    Oh, this crap again. It was big when I was a teenager, lo those many years ago, when conservatives thought the appearance of a character like Alex P. Keaton was a harbinger of their impending coolness.

    • Dilan Esper

      If there’s anything where “both sides do it” really applies, it’s this.

      EVERYONE loves to portray their politics as hip. Amanda Marcotte, a writer I generally like for all sorts of reasons, nonetheless is absolutely aggravating as hell when she describes liberalism as the ideology of the “cool kids” (and she does it a fair amount).

      EVERYONE points to celebrities who support their cause. Liberals love Maryl Streep at the Golden Globes. Conservatives love country music stars who wave the flag. And yes, they loved Alex Keaton back the in the day.

      Personally, I wish this whole sort of rhetoric would go away. I’m tired of people denigrating actual politicians because celebrities are running against them, I’m tired of awards shows including entirely predictable political speeches, I’m tired of the whole genre of country music and what it represents, I’m tired of right wingers portraying Southern pastimes like NASCAR and chili cook-offs as more authentically “American” than what goes on in New York, and I’m tired of liberals portraying conservatives as un-hip AND of conservatives saying they are really the hip ones. And I’m tired of everyone who portrays entirely conventional (and sometimes wrong) stands on social issues, whether it is conservatives who are homeschooling, mothers who are opposed to painkillers at childbirth, anti-vaxxers on both sides, etc., as if they are making some courageous stand and are the second coming of Martin Luther King.

      Nobody should be winning political arguments because their supporters are “cool” and “hip”, or they are supported by the right celebrities, or whatever. Your politics don’t make your culture superior, and vice-versa. People should argue political positions on the merits.

      • Nobdy

        Alex Keaton is not a celebrity. He is a fictional character. This should have been a clue. If your ‘cool kid’ idols have to be fictional that should tell you something.

        You can’t separate art and politics. Have you ever heard a Bruce Springsteen song?

        • Ramon A. Clef

          All art is propaganda. Not all propaganda is art.

      • When conservatives can boast cultural achievements like Spartacus or (annoying though Aaron Sorkin often is) The West Wing or The Daily Show to their credit, maybe then I’ll be able to take their arguments about culture seriously. The simple fact is that nearly all of conservatives’ attempts to emulate films and shows like this have been failures, because they get so lost in their message that they forget what made the originals great. I mean, yes, occasionally they get lucky and stumble across something like On the Waterfront, but every conservative attempt to replicate The Daily Show has been an appalling failure.

        I also couldn’t care less if celebrities want to talk politics. If you have a platform and you care about issues, why wouldn’t you use your platform to discuss issues you care about? Moreover, a lot of these issues directly address the industries they work in. Issues with work visas are going to be tremendously harmful to the entertainment industry here going forward, because no one will trust that they will continue to have any value whatsoever. People who work in the adult industry have even more cause to be fearful with Sessions in charge of the DOJ. Some of the most political celebrities I’ve seen on Twitter lately have been adult film stars. This administration could end up being a tremendous existential threat to their entire industry, and whatever one thinks of it (I certainly have many criticisms myself, though there are plenty of people working within the industry to try to improve it, with some success), it’s going to cost probably literally billions to our economy if that happens.

        The issue of people paying more attention to the pronouncements of celebrities than qualified observers strikes me as off the mark. There is plenty of room for both celebrities and academics or other qualified practitioners to discuss politics. Furthermore, some people in the entertainment industry are qualified observers – Lawrence O’Donnell produced all seven seasons of The West Wing (and portrayed Bartlet’s father), for example, and now has one of the few worthwhile shows on MSNBC. If people value celebrities’ pronouncements disproportionately compared to those of other observers, that’s on them (or, perhaps the media).

        Also, yes, as Nobdy says, you can’t separate art and politics; even art that tries to avoid taking a political stance is, in doing this, taking a political stance. What would Bob Dylan be without the politics? Or Rage Against the Machine? System of a Down? Radiohead? Dead Kennedys? Public Enemy? I would have far less interest in listening to any of them if they avoided politics; that’s where a lot of their passion comes from.

        • LeeEsq

          There is actually a good amount of conservative media but American conservatives do not recognize it as such because it isn’t in your face about it. Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister are very Tory shows in their ideology and that is close enough to American conservatism. 1776’s celebration of the Declaration of Independence can also be seen as conservative political art.

          • I dunno. To Republicans, the British Conservative Party, at least up until a few decades ago, would look like flaming commies. Thatcher-era Toryism starts becoming more recognisable but I don’t think Yes, Minister or Yes, Prime Minister have that much evidence of Thatcher’s political thought on them (to be fair, though, I haven’t seen the whole shows).

            House of Cards is based on novels by a British Tory author, right?

            That said, yeah, I’ll allow that there is a good deal of small-c conservative art out there. The difference is that I do not think of most Republicans as being small-c conservatives, as I have outlined several times in my comments here.

            • CP

              Wasn’t House of Cards anti-Thatcher?

              • Was it? I haven’t read it yet, but Wikipedia says Michael Dobbs, the author, is a MP in the House of Lords for the Conservative Party, and that he served as a staffer for Thatcher. Reading his bio makes it sound a bit like he was the Conservatives’ Malcolm Tucker. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he had come away from that with some criticisms, though.

                • CP

                  I haven’t read or seen it either, just going off of what I’ve heard. My understanding was that it was a show about a Tory politician whose overall politics tend towards the ThatcherIan. And who isn’t a good guy.

                • The content of the show and book may vary greatly, though as I have neither seen nor read them, I wouldn’t know. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened, though (Starship Troopers is usually cited as the textbook example, as the film satirises the outlook of the book).

                • JonH

                  “The content of the show and book may vary greatly”

                  And the content of the UK show may vary from the US remake.

                • That’s also true (I haven’t seen either).

          • Hogan

            Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister are very Tory shows in their ideology and that is close enough to American conservatism.

            Oh yeah? Come back with a UKIP show and we’ll talk.

            • guthrie

              When specifying “conservatism” people need to add a (date); UK conservatism (1960) was significantly more leftist/ blatantly corporatist than UK conservatism (1990), although nearly as socially regressive. UK conservatism (2012) was a creature of the moneyed part of society, but much more socially progressive than it used to be. Unfortunately UK conservatism (2017) is determined to turn the clock back a century.

              • NewishLawyer

                I think a big issue is that in the UK, it was possible to be a Tory but also a kind of semi-Bohemian rake or pall around with Bohemian rakes because of the class system.

                I love Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time novels. He is also a Tory through and through. But because of his privileged background, he could hang out with Bohemians.

                American right-wingers would lose all social respectability and be ostracized for hanging out with Bohemians. But I think this is the religiousity factor. Anglicans were supposed to be cool and detached and be embarrassed by how dissenting churches like the Quakers and Methodists showed their religious fervor. And in the UK, it was the dissenting churches that would form the various liberal and socialist movements. The UK Labour Party famously “owed more to Methodism than Marxism.”

                In the US, it is different and it is the right-wingers who like to be Ostentatiously Pious as someone described it here.

                • BiloSagdiyev

                  The only rakes in American politics.

              • Breadbaker

                Yes, Minister starts out showing the folly of “new broom sweeps clean” when compared to the staying power of the British civil service, but as the show progressed, as silly as Hacker was, he got his sea legs and started to be capable of some pretty good jui-jitsu moves. About the time Frank his political adviser at the beginning disappeared the show really started taking on a much more neutral tone.

                • Scotian

                  Very true, and the way they wrote Weizel/”weasel” out was very well managed to boot. That quango routine was absolutely hilarious, Jobs For The Boys indeed! Then though I’ve been a fan from the beginning in the 80s, and you are quite right in how even handed/neutral the series became overall from that point onward. I still keep it with me on my phone for times when I am stuck somewhere I need to kill time at and could use a simple yet hearty raising of my spirits. This is a really good series, especially for classic political junkies who started out before the age of hyperpartisanship became the norm.

                  I saw the American remake attempt, and it broke my heart in how much is missed the mark of what made the essence of the original work so well.

            • Snuff curry

              Love Thy Neighbour?

              Plenty of conservative television in the 21st century, none of it particularly lauded, though: Who under Moffat (anything under Moffat, really), Little Britain, ITV’s endless array of polite, middlebrow detective programs (long-form Poirot, Midsomer, Lewis, Grantchester), BBC’s truly unfortunate adaptation of the Father Brown stories, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, Top Gear obv., The Inbetweeners. BBC’s Wallander’s a pretty respectable example.

              • Moffat doesn’t strike me as particularly conservative, and I think I remember him making some vaguely pro-Labour proclamations. (He definitely has ridiculed American right-wingers for their attitude on guns, though I think that was on his now-deleted Twitter account). He’s also used Doctor Who to denounce anti-immigrant hysteria (e.g., series 9’s Zygon episodes). Some of those other shows are pretty small-c conservative though, I’ll admit.

                • Snuff curry

                  I regard him as a cultural reactionary and a frightened misogynist (ETA in an explicitly right-wing vein. Plenty o’ misogyny from left-leaners). Others’s MMV.

                • I find it impossible to reconcile the premises of either Doctor Who or Sherlock with reactionary politics. Both shows have underlying their premises the idea that everything has a rational, scientific explanation. The explanation in Doctor Who may (will probably) involve time-travelling aliens, but it’s still rational and scientific within the universe of the show.

                  Moffat’s gender politics are… kind of all over the place. Missy’s gender transition was presented without any kind of condemnation or criticism, and it’s pretty difficult not to read that as political given today’s transgender bathroom controversies. (The character is, of course, still unambiguously villainous). At the same time, the character’s transition is presented in fairly gender-essentialist terms. I still regard this as better treatment than Davies gave trans characters, who literally did not include a single one of any importance in his work and restricted his usage of them entirely to an offhand remark by Lady Cassandra, who both isn’t as cool a character as Missy and isn’t given any particular development in this aspect of her personality. (And yes, I realise Davies is gay. Trans and LGB people haven’t always been the best allies towards one another).

                  If forced to sum up Moffat’s gender politics in one adjective, I’d use “confused”. He strikes me as the sort of person who wants to treat the genders as equal, but doesn’t always understand or think through the implications of what that means.

                  I also agree completely with NewishLawyer that Moffat comes across overall as the squishy liberal to Davies’ firebrand socialist (though you really have to watch Children of Earth to see the full extent of the latter).

                • NewishLawyer

                  Davies was more left-wing. Moffatt generally doesn’t strike me as running a particularly political Doctor Who except in a bland liberalism kind of way.

                  Or you can be a humorless purity pony/No True Scotsman like SnuffCurry and see Moffat as right-wing.

                • wjts

                  Yeah, Moffat handles female characters horribly*, but I don’t see the case for him as either a reactionary or a right-wing misogynist.

                  *Which is exasperating. Somehow the man manages to be responsible for most of my favorite and least-favorite things about the current run of Doctor Who simultaneously. Although I suppose at least he can’t be blamed for “Love and Monsters”.

                • Agreed. It’s not that he doesn’t like women; he actually likes them quite a lot. He just doesn’t understand them very well. That puts him quite in contrast with right-wing misogynists, who really, genuinely don’t like women. It’s the difference between a Stieg Larsson villain and a nerdy high school teenager who can’t get a date but is overall sympathetic to women.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Moffat doesn’t strike me as particularly conservative, and I think I remember him making some vaguely pro-Labour proclamations. (He definitely has ridiculed American right-wingers for their attitude on guns, though I think that was on his now-deleted Twitter account). He’s also used Doctor Who to denounce anti-immigrant hysteria (e.g., series 9’s Zygon episodes).

                  He also wrote “Don’t forget the welfare state”, unless Davies edited that in.

                  ETA: I mean edited it into the script, not edited the episode, obviously.

                • Snuff curry

                  If forced to sum up Moffat’s gender politics in one adjective, I’d use “confused”.

                  We differ, then. Having sat through excruciating amounts of Coupling and all of Jekyll, I don’t find him confused at all.

                  He strikes me as the sort of person who wants to treat the genders as equal, but doesn’t always understand or think through the implications of what that means.

                  Given that I don’t suspect most misogynists of being mustache-twirling villains intent on legalizing rape (or whatever), that feels to me like the bog-standard, default view of most men who confuse gender-blindness with equality. They don’t think of sexism as having institutional foundations with a long and insidious history, don’t acknowledge benevolent sexism unless discussing chivalry, and are unconscious of any sexism that doesn’t explicitly involve sex or female beauty and aesthetics and otherwise think of Women’s Issues, like reproductive rights, as needing to be balanced against men’s needs.

                  I find it impossible to reconcile the premises of either Doctor Who or Sherlock with reactionary politics. Both shows have underlying their premises the idea that everything has a rational, scientific explanation.

                  One doesn’t follow from the other, and Vulcanning for a hobby does not make one non-reactionary.

                  The explanation in Doctor Who may (will probably) involve time-travelling aliens, but it’s still rational and scientific within the universe of the show.

                  It’s a children’s show that requires a convenient deus ex machina. Its science is regularly atrocious and frequently illogical. (Partly why I’ll miss Capaldi, because his doctor is frequently tempestuous and ruled by his emotions, even when he’s feigning a superior rationality.)

                • I’m not sure where you get the impression that I said Moffat’s gender politics were overall good. “Not actively malevolent” does not mean “unworthy of criticism”.

                  I’m also not going to use one show that finished airing in 2004 and another that was finished filming at the end of 2006 as evidence of someone’s current politics. If you went through stuff I’d written in 2006, you’d find plenty of bad stuff there too.

                  If you have evidence of material in either Doctor Who or Sherlock to support your characterisation of Moffat as a reactionary, feel free to present it. (Though it’ll have to be from stuff Moffat actually wrote; using “The Blind Banker” as evidence Moffat doesn’t like Chinese immigrants is both unfair and not very clever.)

                  I agree that the science in DW is frequently not very good. It’s also by far one of the lightest shows on the spectrum of light-to-hard sf, so I’m not really sure how much that matters for the overall quality of the show. It certainly doesn’t mean that the main interpretation kids are going to get out of it isn’t that science is overall a good thing, though.

                  I will also definitely miss Capaldi. I’ve always found the Doctor to be more interesting when showrunners acknowledge his flaws. Then again, the casting for the Doctor and companions have both been almost consistently excellent.

                • Snuff curry

                  deux ex machina

                  I mean, “explaining” in the last third of an episode that the monstrous things resembling well-worn tropes of childhood nightmares are just aliens with A Cunning Plan is not “scientific” and has no string of logic beyond the usual rationale one finds in fair play detective stories. It’s great entertainment. Ditto Conan-Doyle, who rarely makes a lick of real sense on closer inspection.

                • Doctor Who has always had an enormous number of deus ex machinae, though. I actually find Moffat’s tenure to have had fewer of them than most, though to be fair, some probably came across that way to people who didn’t fully understand the plot. (It’s difficult to understand everything during his tenure of the show if you watch the seasons as they air and don’t rewatch them later – Moffat relies on people to remember far more details than most of them will, because his plots can get too clever and complicated for their own good. Davies usually left the continuity between seasons to something simple like “Bad Wolf”, while Moffat ran the Silence story for something like five years.)

                  Conan Doyle was not actually much of a rationalist. Almost all adaptations of his work have probably been more grounded in rationalism than he was.

              • Snuff curry

                Also, Downton Abbey, of course. New Poldark. Despite the “man verbs woman” one-liners and Gillian Anderson being superlative at everything, The Fall. Wolf Hall adaptation.

          • Dalai Rasta

            1776’s celebration of the Declaration of Independence can also be seen as conservative political art.

            I give you “Cool, Cool Considerate Men” as a counter-argument.

            • corporatecake

              1776 also contains in “Molasses to Rum” a pretty damning portrait of the Founders’ position on slavery (moreso than anything in Hamilton, at least).

              • cpinva

                first time I saw 1776 (with the original Broadway cast), I was old enough to have just gotten started on the whole slavery/3/5’s/Jefferson agonizing over it/the major players agreeing it was going to come back and bite them all in the ass later stuff in school. while it was a great show in and of itself, it opened up my 12 year-old eyes to all the horrible compromises required to get all the colonies on-board. that, and just how smart, and flawed, the founders were.

                I haven’t seen Hamilton, but if it’s anywhere close to 1776, as eye-opener, i’ll try and get to it, or at least get the soundtrack.

                the whole problem with conservatism is that they want to conserve things just as they are/were, only for them. this tends to leave out 95% of the population. it’s hard to make that popular.

            • veleda_k

              “Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.”

              • cpinva

                and that’s what conservatives prey on, the very minute possibility you’ll hit the lottery jackpot, and become one of them.

                • “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” -John Steinbeck

            • NewishLawyer

              The song is anachronistic though considering that the concept of moving to the right or left is from the French Revolution.

          • howard

            in what ways are yes minister and yes prime minister tory shows? that’s not in the least how i would describe them.

            • CP

              I’m not sure I’d call them that, but with the general theme of politicians getting elected only to find that the entrenched unelected bureaucracy of government (i.e. Sir Humphrey) blocks them at every turn, I could see how one would get a 1980s Thatcher/Reagan anti big government theme to them.

              • Is an anti-bureaucracy message necessarily conservative, though? Anarres in The Dispossessed also has an obstructive bureaucracy, and it’s presented as an unambiguously negative feature of their society (which is overall presented positively), but Ursula K. Le Guin is an anarchist, which in most ways is about as far as you can get from being a conservative (though there are a few features of Burkean conservatism that can be reconciled with many forms of anarchism).

                • CP

                  Not necessarily, no. Like I said, I’m not necessarily convinced that it’s meant that way. I just can see how it could be read that way.

              • Hogan

                Except that they never suggested a solution to that, like, say, “more democracy.” The tone was comic resignation (which I love, but it doesn’t tend toward lefty politics).

              • JonH

                I’d think the interpretation depends on the politics of the politicians being elected and the quality of the policies being stymied.

                A show about Trump’s idiotic decrees being stymied by unelected parks department bureaucrats would look like a left-wing show.

                That makes the bureaucrats look like the dedicated citizens doing the thankless job of protecting the nation from the whims of elected idiots.

                • cpinva

                  “That makes the bureaucrats look like the dedicated citizens doing the thankless job of protecting the nation from the whims of elected idiots.”

                  yes, except it’s a majority of voters who elected these idiots. presumably they did so because they favored their positions, and should be pissed at the non-elected, “dedicated citizens” failing to carry them out.

                • Thanks to gerrymandering and the Electoral College, they weren’t elected by a majority, though!

          • sigaba

            There is actually a good amount of conservative media but American conservatives do not recognize it as such because it isn’t in your face about it.

            I did some work on a Christian movie recently, the financier/producer had to put it on a shelf for nearly a year because none of the usual Christian film distributors — Lionsgate, Sony Affirm, Fox Faith — would pick it up.

            All of the executives saw it, they all agreed it was perfectly good by the standards of Christian movies, and it did test pretty well for a genre film. The issue was that they were worried it wasn’t churchy enough. All of the big christian film “hits” aren’t just Christian, they speak the inside lingo, they quote the Bible profusely, they denigrate nonbelievers and they go out of their way to turn off people who aren’t evangelical Christians. The movie I worked on, the distributors were afraid, was simply too inclusive and nice.

            The big Christian audiences who buy blocks of tickets for their congregations and spread word-of-mouth do not go to see such movies, they see such films as Big Hollywood Pandering. They’d much rather be pandered to by their own kind.

            Conservatives do have their stories but since the 1990s they seem to have absolutely zero interest whatsoever in connecting with the greater American story, and when they try it always has to be completely on their terms. It’s not honest art, it has no doubt, or sense of drama, and there is a significant disinterest in meeting people on purely human terms.

            • Mike G

              they denigrate nonbelievers and they go out of their way to turn off people who aren’t evangelical Christians

              The crucial bit right there. Their identity is wrapped up in separating themselves from the “sinful” world, judging and condemning those outside their tribe and smugly proclaiming their superiority; and like other authoritarian cultures all their “art” has to push their “message” with the sledgehammer subtlety of a North Korean government propaganda film.

              • sigaba

                Well, if the object of Fundamentalism is not faith, but to draw firm lines and to make it impossible for someone not to be all in or all out…

            • JonH

              “they quote the Bible profusely”

              But highly selectively, no doubt.

              • Hogan

                Well yeah.

                “Y’ever sat down and read this thing? Technically we’re not supposed to go to the bathroom.”

          • Woodrowfan

            except the “1776” song “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” made fun of the right. Nixon pressured the director to drop it from the film version.

        • NewishLawyer

          I don’t know if I would call On the Waterfront conservative. Anti-mafia and anti-Corruption in Unions but not explicitly anti-Union.

          Brando’s character is not exactly John Galt.

          • You may be correct. I haven’t seen the whole thing in decades. The fact that it’s not easily reduced to a single interpretation is probably also one reason it’s held up over the years while most of today’s right-wing propaganda won’t.

            • NewishLawyer

              On the Waterfront is Elia Kazan and Bud Schulberg explaining/apologizing about why they talked to HUAC. So not conservative but not quite brave Arthur Miller either.

              • Breadbaker

                Let alone Dalton Trumbo.

      • LeeEsq

        I agree with you a lot on this. Treating your politics as what the cool people believe in belittles politics. I actually blame the baby boomers for this. The idea that a certain sort of politics is what cool or hip people believe in seems to begin with the counter-culture. Before that, nobody was trying to be cool or hip in politics and many were deliberately hokey. There is a certain sort of squareness in mid-20th century liberalism/social democracy that I try touching.

        • Hogan

          I actually blame the baby boomers for this.

          Oh FFS. From Barefoot Boy with Cheek, Max Schulman, copyright 1941:

          “Do you want to be the sniveling voice of decadent reaction or the brave trumpet of a new era?”

          “The brave trumpet of a new era,” I said promptly.

          “Then you must let me guide you. Tonight the Minnesota chapter of the Subversive Elements League is holding a meeting. Will you come with me?”

        • Karen24

          The ‘we’re the Kool Kids’ politics goes back to the Whigs. That’s the “Anti-James II’ Whigs, in 1688.

          • I am almost 100% certain that in ancient Athens there were political groups who were presenting themselves as the Kool Kids. We just wouldn’t be likely to have records of them anymore, but I suspect the concept is almost as old as democracy itself.

            • cpinva

              weren’t they the underage ones drinking wine behind the gymnasium, and wearing leather togas?

              • los

                Yes I remember those, too! Togas with holes slashed into the knees were the bees knees!
                I can’t find those at the First Pentacostal’s Spring Rummage Extravaganza, anymore. Sad.

              • rea

                They were hanging out with Socrates, getting corrupted. And yes, Kritias was a conservative.

            • los

              ancient Athens …

              If I were Greek, I’d like to hear pronunciation of long ago.

              It’s interesting to hear the difference in speeches of FDR to JFK’s to political speeches to which are now accustomed.

            • los

              We just wouldn’t be likely to have records of them anymore

              Yes, I’ve even searched on ebay for those!

              Whoever made those old DVDs had no idea that DVDs would deteriorate so quickly.

              We know better now, of course.


              • They should never have gone digital. Maybe their hearing would’ve held up better without the loudness war, too. (Warning: TV Tropes link)

            • Jeffrey Kramer

              I don’t know about ancient Athens, but Shakespeare’s London definitely had some would-be gangstas. One appears in Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, saying how much he wants to learn to quarrel — basically, do the dozens — and “drink tobacco,” which was a controlled substance in those days.

      • jim, some guy in iowa


        speak for yourself, thanks”

      • Donna Gratehouse

        I don’t see Marcotte as equating liberalism with hipness so much as pointing out liberals tend to be more laid back and open to new ideas, which leads to more and better creativity. Also she frequently reminds people that if they want to be cool they should pursue it through art, music, etc., and not through politics, and I agree. Politics isn’t about expressing yourself or exercising consumer choice, it’s a civic duty.

        • cpinva

          plus, she does food porn, which I really enjoy. call me a perv, but a well turned and roasted beet just does it for me.

          • los

            If we’re going to talk about well-turned tRump sTeak, then we can’t forget that tRump tOwer leases the best exclusively made in america imported russian piss-soaked mattresses!

            Always with the complimentary Tic Tac perched on the Right side pillow.
            Trump Tower always does the best details!

          • Woodrowfan

            Dear Penthouse Gardening, I never believed the letters I read here until one day at the farmer’s market….

          • rea

            a well turned and roasted beet


  • petesh

    Kudos on the Kinkily Korrect last line

  • benjoya

    the needle drop does a nice job with this twit:


  • Nobdy

    Patton Oswalt talks a lot about how many conservatives want to be comedians but just aren’t clever or funny.

    Empathy is one of the keys to creativity. Understanding people who are different from you, perspectives that are different from yours, imagining worlds and contexts that are not your own. Once you’re there, though, it’s a very short step to liberalism.

    There have been some creative and talented conservatives but even the successful ones are mostly hacks who peddle warmed over pablum.

    And conservatives will never be cool as long as they oppose sex and drugs. You can’t get young people to reject those things without serious brainwashing, and throw in blind obedience to elders and at best you’ve got a youth pastor who can seem appealing to very young children but loses all but the dorkiest fourteen year olds when the hormones hit.

    • Norm Macdonald is pretty funny and kinda conservative, though I doubt he’d fit in with the modern Republican Party. That said, he generally seems to think of himself as apolitical and a lot of comments he’s made as jokes were interpreted as being serious. (He also cites Leo Tolstoy as one of his influences, and Tolstoy is anything but conservative.)

      Overall, I agree, there are almost no funny conservatives, and moreover, when comedians who were formerly funny shift to the right, they almost always stop being as funny. Case in point: Dennis Miller.

      I wish my comic timing were better. I’ve always felt like I would enjoy doing stand-up if I were good at it, because it’s a good way to communicate with people in a personal and often intimate way, but I can’t come up with funny material on the spot. Or sometimes even if I spend awhile thinking about it.

      • Nobdy

        Nobody knows what Norm McDonald’s actual views are, but even if he is conservative he is not rabidly conservative. His comedy doesn’t tend to punch down, for one, and he doesn’t seem to have a problem working with gay people or non-whites.

        But there, of course, talented conservative artists. Unforgiven is a legitimately great movie and Mel Gibson used to be a talented actor. Exceptions will always exist.

        • Yes. Clint Eastwood is another good example.

          I agree that Macdonald’s comedy doesn’t punch down much, and that if he is a conservative, he’s not a rabid one. Then again, I would have issues calling most of today’s Republican Party conservatives, even if it’s what they want to call themselves; conservatism as a philosophy has historically included a rather large scepticism of ideology itself, or of change for its own sake, and these people are rigidly ideological and want to enact sweeping, radical changes. I would call them reactionaries, but even reactionaries typically value social stability. They’re looking increasingly para- or proto-fascist. Or maybe just fascist without any descriptors.

          • paul1970

            I just can’t take late-period Eastwood movies seriously, adding manly sighing about how a man’s just got to do what a man’s gotta do ain’t enough to make it art…

            • Depends on the movie. Some of his later films are too overt with their messaging to be particularly enjoyable, but others, like Sully, are pretty subtle. The message about dumb bureaucrats in the film is less subtle but that came across more to me as an anti-corruption and anti-incompetence message than an innately anti-government message. Of course, having Tom Hanks as your lead will work wonders in any case.

              • sigaba

                The message about dumb bureaucrats in the film is less subtle but that came across more to me as an anti-corruption and anti-incompetence message than an innately anti-government message.

                It does not help that this entire subplot was manufactured and the entire NTSB hearing scene comes off like a Soviet gameshow.

                Whenever they’re in the plane, Sully is totally cracking though.

            • Captain Oblivious

              I’m not sure Eastwood fits as neatly into the modern conservative label as people think. I think he’s more of a Rockefeller Repubican.

              • He has largely come across to me throughout most of his career that way as well, though lately he does seem to be closer to the standard party line (that may simply be a result of his “old man yells at chair” routine, though). That said, being a Rockefeller Republican makes him more of a conservative to my eyes, since, as I’ve said repeatedly, I do not regard the current Republicans as properly conservative.

                • Tristan

                  Yeah that chair bit did not do the man any favours. Even several years later it remains not just unfunny but downright bizarre. Even if Eastwood was good enough at that Bob Newhart-style ‘one half of an imaginary conversation’ thing to pull off the basic premise, the fact that the only real joke-like thing in it was some sort of recurring gag about Obama losing his temper and swearing a lot… like, is that a thing conservatives thought he did, like how they think Clinton murders people? For that matter, why place the imaginary Obama in a real chair? Was he worried people would be confused and think Obama was actually there, but just off-stage?

                  The whole thing seemed less like a scripted bit and more like a poorly-conceived and unnecessarily restrictive improv game.

                • I’ve read several people who speculated that he was subtly trolling the Republicans. I’m still not entirely certain that I find that interpretation far-fetched.

            • NewishLawyer

              I really liked Mystic River and Letters from Iwo Jima.

              • Mystic River is an adaptation of Dennis Lehane, who is definitely not a conservative. The Given Day contains a fairly sympathetic portrayal of the labour movement of the time, though it’s a warts-and-all treatment. It also depicts how absolutely brutal the casual racism of the time was – but also how insidious it was, in that most people who were privileged often wouldn’t even notice it. The baseball game with Babe Ruth is one of the most powerful pieces of writing I’ve read in the last fifteen years.

              • BiloSagdiyev

                I liked Letters from Iwo Jima, too.

                Can you imagine any other American conservatives making a sympathetic movie about the life of Japanese soldiers in WWII? Or, say, one of this generation of right wing loons, as a senior citizen in 2070 making a sympathetic movie about the plight of Taliban soliders being blown up in caves in Tora Bora in 2002?

      • ΧΤΠΔ

        Mike Judge has also consistently been pretty good (although The Goode Family sucked and King of the Hill got weaker towards the end).

        Back when Salon was in its derp oblivion stage last year Sonia Saraiya wrote a piece arguing that Judge’s conservatism manifested itself in a soft-Hobbesian “look at all these idiots” attitude. It was a good article, but the headline – which characterized Silicon Valley as a ZEGS-style Randroid fever dream – made me want to punch my phone into the pavement.

        • Hogan

          King of the Hill seems genuinely conservative to me: someone feeling his way into an alarming future and figuring out what he can bring with him from the (or his) past. That’s not what we’re dealing with now under the “conservative” rubric.

          • Right. People who call themselves conservatives today have little in common with the philosophy of, say, Edmund Burke. That said, I believe the only of Judge’s works I’ve actually seen in its entirety is Office Space, so I can’t evaluate King of the Hill.

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            One of the issues with its later seasons was that Judge and the writing staff (which included Wyatt Cenac for a time) butted heads over Hank’s characterization: Judge wanted Hank to be the voice of reason while the staff wanted him to be about as fallible as the rest of Arlen. Which led to some interesting developments: The show increasingly sides with Hank’s POV, but he becomes a much bigger loser in the process. (This isn’t touching other issues such as the temporary douchification of Peggy). That said, it was generally a great show that I’d put in my personal top 20 animated series.

            Also, either TJ Miller or Clancy Brown should’ve played Lex in BvS.

            • socraticsilence

              I would have accepted Michael Rosenbaum- aka the major redeeming thing in Smallville

              • ΧΤΠΔ

                Not that coincidentally, he also provided the primary voice of the Flash for the DCAU (like how John Glover voiced the Riddler and Brown provided the definitive Lex Luthor).* I chose Miller & Brown because their failure modes would’ve been Weasel and Mr. Krabs – far more entertaining than the coked-up Joker knockoff we ended up getting.

                *Brown actually auditioned for the part of Superman but was given the part of Lex. The actor who the producers originally had in mind – Sherman Howard, who portrayed him in Lois and Clark – ended up voicing Steppenwolf in the series, as well as a Lex analogue in Batman Beyond.

                Also, we all know Mark Hamill is at least the second-best Joker, but how weird would it have been if he’d played him in Tim Burton’s Batman?

          • NewishLawyer

            Yet Hank Hill named his dog Lady Bird. What kind of Republican names a dog affectionately after “Lady Bird Johnson?”

            • ΧΤΠΔ

              One with a strong sense of Texan pride (and the fact that he’s not a loon). Significantly, Buck Strickland is explicitly based on LBJ.

        • Nobdy

          Mike Judge created Beavis and Butthead, which was a bete noir of culture wars conservatives. He may have conservative views but he is not part of their movement.

        • sigaba

          I have a standing bet with a friend that Judge will go full David Mamet nutjob before he turns 60– I win if he publishes one op-ed in the a major circulation US daily with the phrase “Islamo-fascism” or a cognate thereof.

          • Origami Isopod

            Judge has already palled around with Alex Jones, so I wouldn’t take that bet.

            • Snuff curry

              Oh, lord. I can’t say I’m surprised, really.

        • NewishLawyer

          Idiocracy is very Hobbesian that way and he also pulls no punches at NPR listening professionals who see clearly sees as waiting to long to have children. Upper-middle class professionals were seen as smart and should be having children but also living in a sterile and gray world.

      • nemdam

        The example that screams at me is Adam Carolla. He thinks he’s being funny by being an asshole, but no, he’s just an asshole. I’ve found the only people who find him funny are also assholes.

        • tsam

          I fucking hate that guy. That “man card” type of (lol) humor irritates the fuck out of me.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Yes. He is good at jacking his jaw, but his political instincts are shit.

      • The Dark God of Time

        Most stand-up is written out and memorized beforehand.

        The trick, as in so many of the performing arts, is making it look spontaneous. Even doing improv is something that takes a lot of training before taking it public.

        • This doesn’t surprise me. It’s certainly clearly the case with comics such as George Carlin, who rigorously road-tested material before recording his HBO specials. I’d still have to become better at writing comedy to be a successful stand-up, though. Improv courses might actually help some with that, maybe.

        • FMguru

          Rodney Dangerfield is a great example of this. His act was so loose and conversational and improvised-seeming (with his tics and stammers and bug-eyed reactions) but Rodney scripted and rehearsed and practiced it to perfection. He was on the Tonight Show once and he was sitting down with Johnny after his standup set, doing what looked like a free-flowing back and forth with the host, when the other guest on the couch interrupted him for some reason, and Rodney lost his place and began flailing and stammering for real until Johnny bailed him out. It was amazing – you could see genuine panic in his eyes as his freight was derailed by a single interruption in front of tens of millions of viewers.

    • FMguru

      There was a time in the late 1980s-early 1990s when right-wing “anti-PC” humor was absolutely ascendant in America. Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay dominated comedy, and Howard Stern and his legion of shockjock impersonators became hugely popular and influential (setting the blueprint that Limbaugh and his clones used to develop wingut talk radio). Even low-end right wing comedians (Gallagher, Ray Stevens, etc.) flourished during this era.

      There is (or was) a market out there for right-wing humor. It’s just that there are no good right-wing comedians out there who can tap it.

      • Stern’s politics seem overall pretty liberal, for whatever that’s worth (probably not all that much). Overall, though, yeah, there was certainly an element of that to a lot of the comedy in that era.

      • bender

        I thought some of P.J. O’Rourke’s essays during the Bush 43 years were laugh out loud funny. There was sharp social observation in some of them too. The example that comes to mind was a description of distributing aid to a bunch of Iraqi refugees, in which he pointed out that what looked to Western eyes like total chaos actually was governed by standards of decent behavior among the refugees; the Iraqis just drew the limits differently than we would.

        • O’Rourke was quite funny once upon a time, but he wasn’t a doctrinaire Republican for most of his career. For example, there are passages of Eat the Rich that are almost as critical of some of the Republicans’ sacred cows as they are of communism, IIRC, and he definitely acknowledges that “good socialism” (which he specifically equates to Sweden) is possible. As his career has gone on, I feel he’s lost some of his iconoclasm, and also (IMHO at least) gotten less funny. I’m not convinced these are unrelated.

          That said, I also haven’t read him regularly in awhile, so my evaluation of his career arc may be somewhat or even close to entirely off.

          • FMguru

            I always thought O’Rourke’s both-sidesism was because of the venue he was being published in (Rolling Stone) and that the real PJO was the one that emerged in places like American Spectator (where he wouldn’t have to hide his light under a bushel). Same thing with Dennis Miller – a both-sidesist until he made a mid-career move to full wingnut. His final form was probably closer to his real self than the above-it-all wiseguy persona he affected for the first part of his career.

            Another good example of right-wing comedy was 1980s Eddie Murphy, whose hugely popular stand-up routines were about 80% composed of fear and hatred about homosexuals. He was the unquestioned king of 1980s standup, and his material was overwhelmingly about how much he hated “faggots”. It’s really quit startling to watch from our perch in the mid-2010s.

            • That’s quite possible, but AFAIK Eat the Rich wasn’t influenced by the Rolling Stone editorial board (and was also written in the late ’90s, which, as far as I know, is long after he left RS). It’s certainly possible that working for the Spectator pushed O’Rourke to the right, though.

              (Also, FWIW, O’Rourke endorsed Clinton in 2016, indicating that he still has at least some standards. Though it was a grudging endorsement: “She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters” – so more of an acknowledgement of how absolutely awful Tangerine Torquemada is than a genuine endorsement, then.)

              • I’ve been trying to think about why it doesn’t bother me as much that O’Rourke didn’t give Clinton a full-throated endorsement as it does that people nominally on the left didn’t, and of course it struck me at once like a ton of bricks when I realised it: he’s not on our side. Of course he’s not going to give her a full-throated endorsement; he doesn’t agree with her about anything, but he’s still intelligent and perceptive enough to know that she wouldn’t blow up the country or the world, while her opponent might. So the fact that he’s grudgingly acknowledging that she’s the better choice actually comes across as more powerful to me because of his politics, rather than less. If he were unreservedly endorsing her, it would probably actually make me question whether I truly were more in alignment with her politics than her opponent’s.

                By contrast, someone who’s supposed to be on the left should be intelligent enough to see that, on every issue of importance to anyone, Clinton is far superior to Trump for the left. The fact that so many people who call themselves liberals or leftists were too pure, or too stubborn, or simply too dumb to recognise this is why it bothers me so much more that such people were tepid about their Clinton support. The fact that many of them normalised right-wing narratives in doing so makes it even worse.

                • Karen24

                  I so agree with this. Also, at least one of my Purity Pony friends refused to support Clinton PRECISELY because a few hardcore conservatives supported her. Apparently respect from ideological opponents is proof that someone is, in fact, in agreement with said opponents.

            • NewishLawyer

              The one Miller joke I found funny was about how his grandad or some such worked in the Rhinestone mines of Tennessee.

      • The Great God Pan

        I think Gallagher was one of the top-earning comics in the 80s, but was he really part of the Dice/Kinnison trend? Aside from hackneyed one-liners like “if the opposite of pro is con then the opposite of progress must be CONGRESS!” I don’t think he was really political back then. He was the guy kids liked because he smashed shit with a sledgehammer.

        By the Obama years he had turned into a right-wing crank with some pretty noxious jokes, but I don’t think that started until he was well out of the spotlight.

        • FMguru

          His stuff always had a right-wing whats-with-kids-and-their-crazy-haircuts undercurrent to it, it was just easy to ignore because he dressed like your basic goofball hippie tryhard (rainbow suspenders, silly hat, crazy hair) and most of his act was lowest common denominator stuff like Sledge-O-Matic.

          I remember reading those sour wingnut interviews he gave in the early 2000s and being shocked, and then remembering how much of his routine was kids-need-to-pull-up-their-pants between the giant zany props and the exploding watermelons. Dude was always aimed straight at Branson.

          • The Great God Pan

            Ah, OK. I wouldn’t have associated him with Andrew Dice Clay or Sam Kinison, but I do see what you mean.

            If you haven’t heard it already, his aborted interview on Marc Maron’s podcast from a few years back is a mesmerizing trainwreck.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Marc Maron & Gallagher

          Patton Oswalt on the decline of Gallagher:

          Patrice O’Neal tries to help Gallagher with his career:
          (Long, but my idea of an unpleasant good time.)

      • JonH

        In one of Gallagher’s HBO specials in the 80s he did a poem thing about water, where he dressed in a green-screen sandwich board that had flowing water superimposed onto it, so at the time, at least, he seemed like something of an environmentalist.

  • Hogan

    All the best movies are really conservative. Also, how come Hollywood refuses to make conservative movies?

    • sigaba

      Sturgeon’s Law: 80% of everything’s liberal. (That’s why we can’t let people vote.)

  • LeeEsq

    Conservatives are against funding for the arts. That makes them counter, or against, culture.

    • Conservatives are against funding for the arts. That makes them counter, or against, culture.

      They’re against public funding for the arts. I’m sure that many of them would at least like to pretend that they’d be influential patrons of a stable of reliably reliable starving-and-submissive artists. If they could spare the money.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        If taxes weren’t so oppressive.

  • eclare

    Finally, Cons may be visited by the nagging realization that in all the books and TV shows and movies they like, the characters who go around forcing other people to Obey The Rules are the bad guys.

    Here’s where your analysis, while otherwise excellent, misses the mark. I can tell you from first hand experience that Conservatives honestly and truly believe that the are the ones being forced to follow elitists’ PC rules and the government’s arbitrary restrictions, and thus they truly are the real freedom fighters.

    • Nobdy


      The Reaganites couldn’t deal with defeating the evil empire when the USSR broke up (what do you do when the only fun you have is fantasizing about defeating an invincible enemy AFTER you defeat that enemy?) so they switched over to battling “political correctness” and hyping up milquetoast liberalism to being an existential threat.

      It’s pretty pathetic, especially when you realize they are now in league with Vladimir Putin who is an ACTUAL RUSSIAN BAD GUY they used to hard-ons about while watching oiled up musclemen pretend to fight them in the 80s.

      • nemdam

        FWIW, Bill Clinton basically thinks the reason the right wing went after him so viciously is because they needed a new enemy after the USSR fell, and Bill Clinton in his first campaign constantly talked about how we need to live in a post-Cold War America.

        • Mike G

          I think he’s correct on that. The right wing runs on having a hate-object to focus their perpetual anger and grievance.

          • I agree. The right needs an Emmanuel Goldstein, or its entire raison d’être will vanish.

          • CP

            Correct. And I do think that over the years, domestic liberals have absolutely taken that spot rather than communists, islamists, or other actual enemies. They always hated both, but since the end of the Cold War and the rise of right wing hate media, liberals have become the Main Enemy.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        It’s pretty pathetic, especially when you realize they are now in league with Vladimir Putin who is an ACTUAL RUSSIAN BAD GUY they used to hard-ons about while watching oiled up musclemen pretend to fight them in the 80s.

        And more than a few members of the GOP base spent the next twenty-five years grumbling and intimating that them Russians were still commanists out to get us and this was all an elaborate plot and that Putin’s still KGB you know.

        How quickly they turn on a dime.

        • tsam

          Well, I mean if you think about it, it’s not so bad. If you’re going to have a president be overtly friendly to a thuggish murdering autocrat, you definitely want it to be an easy to manipulate dumb guy, right? Right? Hello?

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      We’re talking about people, some of whom had trouble figuring out that Colbert was ridiculing them.

  • The Temporary Name

    Finally, Cons may be visited by the nagging realization that in all the books and TV shows and movies they like, the characters who go around forcing other people to Obey The Rules are the bad guys.

    This is what constantly gets me.

    How have you consumed any culture at all from Dr. Seuss onward and not figured out that Trump is ambulatory excretion?

    I suppose it would be nice to go to the movies and be constantly surprised that Megatron was a big meanie.

    • lizzie

      Me too! I always want to ask these people, did you find, say, Harry Potter confusing? Did you think voldemort had the right idea?

      • I think a disturbingly large number of them would answer yes to the second question. Rowling has struck me as one of the authors of popular fiction with the strongest understandings of fascism.

  • pianomover

    I always thought a doc marten stomping to an oi! soundtrack was fairly cool and Conservative.

    • Oi! was always explicitly working class. Some of it was pretty nationalistic, a bunch wasn’t really political at all, and then there were outspokenly left-wing bands like the Angelic Upstarts. Not exactly Thatcher supporters.

  • The Great God Pan

    A fair amount of punk rock, from the Sex Pistols’ “Bodies” to some SoCal hardcore to overt stuff like Skrewdriver, was not exactly progressive in its politics.

    If by “conservatism” he means teenage/20something alt-right troll/edgelord culture rather than middle-aged Walmart Jesus NASCAR culture, I don’t think he’s exactly wrong. “Triggering the snowflakes” is, as they see it, just an iteration of “freaking out the squares.” This stuff seems quite divorced from Alex Keaton territory to me. Hopefully this particular counterculture can be strangled in the crib.

    I’ve also regularly learned that conservatives are on the verge of getting their own TV shows

    Some full on alt-righters had a show on Cartoon Network/Adult Swim. It was cancelled despite apparently being popular, but the fact that it was even there in the first place and that people within the network fought against canceling it should, IMO, have people a bit more concerned about this stuff than they maybe are.

    • “Bodies” has always read to me as a vicious satire on both sides of the abortion debate, and for what it’s worth, John Lydon himself has come out as being more or less pro-choice. Lydon had this to say: “It’s not anti-abortion, it’s not pro-abortion. It’s: ‘Think about it. Don’t be callous about a human being, but don’t be limited about a thing as “morals” either. Because it’s immoral to bring a kid in this world and not give a toss about it.’” Which, despite what he’s saying, comes across as a pro-choice stance to me. That said, a number of people have interpreted it as an anti-abortion song, but it’s always read to me as saying that abortion is a horrifically painful decision to go through.

      Another song that can come off as anti-abortion without knowledge of the outside context is Dir en grey’s “Mazohyst of Decadence”, which comes off sounding like an anti-abortion rant when directly translated but is actually commenting about the low use of birth control in Japan and the use of a painful, last-ditch method of ending a pregnancy rather than trying to prevent it in the first place.

      • Hogan

        It’s always sounded nihilist to me, like much of Never Mind the Bollocks.. “Fuck this and fuck that, fuck it all and fuck the fucking brat.”

        • Correct. If there’s an overall philosophy to the album, it’s nihilism. It’s somewhat strange that they got so identified with anarchism in the popular imagination, because their philosophy isn’t particularly anarchist. The Clash and to an even better extent the Dead Kennedys and Crass are properly anarchist, though.

          • petesh

            Well, Anarchy in the UK was taken as a clue

            • Right, I get that’s why people associated them with anarchy, but the content of the song is really more nihilist in content. Anarchy has actual political goals beyond simply overturning the status quo; it’s designed to build something in its place.

            • Hogan

              Yeah, it doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

            • tsam

              “Give a wrong time, stop a traffic line”

              That was their definition of anarchy. There’s a reason bratty teens thought it was cool and edgy.

          • wjts

            If there’s an overall philosophy to the album…

            When they were putting the album together, Malcolm Maclaren provided Johnny Rotten with a list of words and concepts that he thought would be useful fodder for songwriting. One of them was “submission”, which Rotten took as a cue to take the piss by writing a song about a submarine on a mission. Looking for an overall philosophy more sophisticated than “nyah, nyah” from an exercise in self-promotion filtered through the sensibilities of a smart-ass 19/20-year-old is probably a waste of time.

    • bender

      24 was liberal?

      Every TV show ever made about the FBI, Quantico included, was liberal?

      • I actually read that some of the writers/producers of 24 had commented that they hadn’t intended it to read as pro-torture. YMMV on how believable you find this. I never watched the show so I’m not really qualified to comment. (I did quite like what I watched of Designated Survivor, but I’m quite a ways behind on it now.)

        There was once a popular conception that the FBI was an organisation that would stand up for the rights of the dispossessed, which is of course almost completely unmoored from reality. However, the FBI has done a pretty great job of public relations throughout the years, so the writers in many cases may not actually have been aware of this. If anything, the CIA currently comes across as a more liberal organisation than the FBI, despite the popular culture perception being almost the exact opposite. So that can explain shows like Fringe, where the FBI is just an ancillary government organisation with investigative capacities that helps the main characters.

        In any case, I don’t think you can say that, for example, The X-Files comes across as looking particularly pro-FBI. Mulder and Scully are sympathetic, of course, but almost the entire rest of the organisation (with the exception of Skinner and a handful of others) is corrupt. The more recent season has a… bizarre political outlook, with the Alex Jones expy presented as making some reasonable points and some completely off-the-reservation ones. I’m not really even sure how you can characterise its politics, other than as broadly critical of the establishment as a whole (which seems to encompass both Republicans and Democrats). I also still have yet to watch several seasons of it.

        • tsam

          24 was a mixed bag. Apparently one of the producers was liberal, one conservative, and their views either competed or coexisted.

          The torture issue was weird. It showed it as effective in the cliched ticking bomb scenarios, but Jack always ended up paying a heavy price for it, which I suppose was as good a commentary on torture as an action thriller show is going to supply.

          I’m not sure any message was intended, and of course a bunch of dumbasses tried to take a pro-torture message from it.

          • That explanation makes sense and, judging from what I know of how other television shows were produced, also probably correct. Maybe I’ll watch it at some point – the actual intended interpretation seems no more insidious than that of countless other pieces of popular culture. Kiefer Sutherland is a good actor, at least.

            • tsam

              If you do, start at season 3. 1 was OK, but they really hit their stride at 3.

              • Thanks, I’ll do that. I think that may actually have been around where my parents stopped watching, ironically enough. I suspect a few seasons of that show go a long way, though.

          • CP

            I think the show’s torture thing is what makes it stand out as conservative. Otherwise, its politics are all over the map. Season 2 deserves some cred for a blistering anti Iraq War message at a time when war hysteria was at its peak.

          • sigaba

            Michael Moore’s interview of a Cops producer in Bowling for Columbine is a good demonstration of how liberal intentions in the hands of careless artists usually just comes off as the worst kind of authoritarian fluffing.

            MM: “Why are all the criminals on Cops poor people in trailers?”

            Producer: “Because that’s the truth, we just document the truth!”

            Fair Disclosure: I worked on the last two Kathryn Bigelow movies, I know of what I speak.

            • Is that The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, or has she had another film since the latter?

              Anyway, this doesn’t surprise me at all. At least shows like Fringe can use the excuse that the FBI is mostly peripheral to the show. Shows that are entirely centred around the bureau have less of an excuse.

              • sigaba

                What struck me about the Zero Dark Thirty experience is how I seem to have seen that movie completely differently than most people, everybody seems to think it endorses torture, but she was meticulously careful not too.

                The problem is it was probably too careful, people just don’t pay attention to the sequence of events or what’s happening.

                • That wouldn’t surprise me at all. Whether “Breaker of Chains” was intended to portray a rape scene appears to depend entirely on who you ask. It sounds like there was some horrible miscommunication somewhere in the process of making the episode. It does look like it wasn’t intended to be one, though, because the show never mentions it again afterwards and Cersei doesn’t treat Jaime as though he had raped her, so I’m not sure why it got fucked up so horribly. (For the record: as portrayed, it definitely is a rape, and as GRRM wrote it, it wasn’t, though it would have been if some additional dialogue had been omitted – which seems to have been what happened in the process of producing the episode. So bad editing maybe? IDK. Regardless, it’s a huge, almost unforgivable blemish on season 5.)

                • tsam

                  I didn’t take an endorsement of torture from it, but I saw it after the controversy over it took place.

                • sigaba

                  It did not help that Feinstein specifically called it out as endorsing torture, though she also admitted she walked out after 20 minutes.

                  You could see what you wanted in it.

            • Gareth

              “Why are all the criminals on Cops poor people in trailers?”

              Because poor people in trailers behave in the most interesting ways when they’re arrested.

          • tsam

            I worded that last statement incorrectly. A bunch of dumbasses used the story lines as a defense of torture. I think it’s fairly easy to get the impression the show endorses it.

    • tsam

      Slayer and Metallica both had some overtly conservative crap. Didn’t stop me from listening to them, but it got on my nerves. Especially the Slayer song. I love it, and it’s one of the most disgusting anti-abortion messages I’ve ever heard.

      • I hate the lyrics of that Slayer song, too. The song itself kicks ass; that riff is one of the best ones they ever wrote.

        Slayer’s politics always read as being all over the place to me, though. It depends which one of them wrote the lyrics as to where the song is, probably; Araya and King have very different politics and I’ve read somewhere that they enjoy trolling each other as well as the public (and Araya will happily sing anything if he thinks it’s likely to annoy people). Both Metallica and Megadeth don’t read as conservative to me early on (…And Justice for All actually reads to me as borderline socialist), but both of them have gotten more so as time has gone on, especially Megadeth.

        • tsam

          Megadeth wasn’t so much conservative as confused, but later ramblings by Mustaine indicate that he’s gone completely batty. But being a shitbird right winger fits his snotty, shitty personality. He was ALWAYS a fucking sanctimonious fucking jerk. I used to read guitar magazines, and any time Mustaine or that douchebag bassist of his (the only member who has managed to not quit or be fired by His Holy Highness, Bestest Guitarist Ever) was nothing but slagging on other musicians. Those kind of people MAKE TSAM ANGRY.

          Metallica has done Master of Puppets, Leper Messiah, Disposable Heroes–all great songs with great messages. Then they did that horrible shit on the black album that shall not be named and I wanted to punch his stupid face. Full on bumper sticker patriot–like he used a particularly bad country album as inspiration.

          Slayer is weird. Read Between the Lies is on that same album, and completely destroys Silent Scream. ???? Get it together, dummies.

          • I just looked up South of Heaven again and it looks like Araya actually co-wrote the lyrics to “Read Between the Lies” with King. WTF. I always assumed that was King because he wrote most of their anti-religious ones. Araya also wrote “Mandatory Suicide”, which is one of the most damning critiques of war I’ve seen in metal because, unlike a lot of other classic antiwar metal songs like “Disposable Heroes” and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”, it isn’t a fast-paced song that gets your blood pumping. (I also strongly recommend Decapitated’s cover if you like death metal; it’s, if possible, even more hellish than the original.)

            I’ll agree to Mustaine being politically confused early on, but Rust in Peace still has some pretty lefty lyrics criticising things like religious war and global warming. He’s always been an asshole though, and apparently has also always been a homophobe.

            Hetfield said he wrote the lyrics of that particular song after looking at …And Justice for All and thinking that album made it seem like he hated everything about living here. He wanted to acknowledge that there are still things that make it worthwhile to live here. (Or rather, were in 1991. I’m not sure what he thinks of Cheeto Benito, but I’m guessing he’s probably not much of a fan.) I’m willing to cut him a little bit of slack for that, because …AJFA does give a pretty one-sided picture of what America is like, but the lyrics of the later song are still banal and don’t actually say anything interesting or insightful. Hetfield himself apparently doesn’t even like the song much, so he may actually share your criticism of it. It’s always been one of the weak points of the Black Album for me; it’s not interesting either lyrically or musically.

            • tsam


              This is great analysis. I guess I can cut these guys some slack.

              I tend to forget the subversiveness of AJFA, (probably because aside from Blackened, I try to forget that album) but Blackened, AJFA and Eye of the Beholder are all pretty sound messages, if a bit immature in the presentation. Metallica (specifically Lars) later admitted they put too much effort into proving they could play on AJFA and kind of got a jumbled, aimless mess. The problem is that anyone who thought they couldn’t play is a fucking moron who knows nothing about music.

              The oddest thing about “Holy Wars…” was that album hit RIGHT when we entered Kuwait. Seemed a bit prophetic at the time, even if religion had fuck-all to do with either Gulf War.

              Wow, this is rambling. Sorry!

              • Thanks. And don’t worry about it. I’ve posted more than my share of rambling comments throughout my time on the Internet as well.

                AJFA is one of my favourite releases of theirs from a music/lyrical/compositional standpoint, but it suffers from its abysmal production. The guitar tone is terrible, you can’t even hear the bass, and the drums sound like clicks. Overall, I really enjoy all the songs, and the lyrics are some of their most insightful. It’s worth pointing out that they bought the rights to Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun to use for the “One” video. That’s certainly an unimpeachably leftist source.

                But yeah, anyone who thought they couldn’t play probably should simply not be discussing music at all. Whether the album appeals to people (beyond, of course, the awful production) probably depends on their tolerance for prog. I unironically like all kinds of prog, so it’s right up my alley musically. But I can see why people might think the songs are too long, as well. It’s the same deal with DFA – people who don’t have the patience for nine-minute songs aren’t going to get into Time Does Not Heal and Leave Scars and will end up favouring Darkness Descends. I enjoy Darkness but the increased sophistication of the later records definitely puts them into more common rotation for me.

                I don’t know what the hell they were thinking with the production on that album, though. And it’s not even as if they switched producers – Flemming Rasmussen had done a great job on Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. It’s as though they had forgotten everything they’d known about production at the time (although at least it’s not a loudness war’d piece of shit like the original Death Magnetic, which is definitely the worst Metallica release from a production standpoint, with Beyond Magnetic not far behind and St. Anger still coming in ahead of AJFA).

                And yeah, given the incipient Gulf War, as well as a number of the other things going on at the time, a lot of the messages on Rust in Peace couldn’t have been timelier. It’s a shame Mustaine went so batshit later on – he may still have been an asshole in the earlier days, but at least he had the ability to make cogent points when he wanted to then, as well.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    Didn’t Gavin MacInnes kill this shit, like, beyond death already?

  • King Goat

    “There’s the lack of anything that smacks of originality that is the hallmark of the conservative movement. It turns out a desire to reinforce and maintain a form of society that is thousands of years old doesn’t allow for much flexibility of thought”


  • Chip Daniels

    Rebellion itself isn’t progressive or conservative.

    Rebellion can be nihilism and self-aggrandized self-importance just as much as it can be a cry for justice.

    And right about now, the American conservative movement is more the first than the second.

    They need to be sent to their room and think about what they’ve done. Maybe when they’re ready to sit down and speak like adults, we can have a discussion.

    • Hogan
      • tsam

        I’m on a personal crusade to get ignorant people to stop using radical for far right movements like ISIS and Christian Identity groups. They’re reactionary. Its really frustrating because it creates a subgroup full of wildly divergent ideologies, and media consumers get the impression they’re the same.

        • Murc

          Will this effect my personal crusade to get people to stop using “radical” and “extreme” as synonyms for “bad?”

          • tsam

            I’m fully on board with that

      • Vance Maverick

        I was going to say, “Isn’t Corey Robin telling us that when conservativism makes things happen, it’s reaction?” but I see some Wikipedia editor got in there ahead of me.

  • Murc

    Finally, Cons may be visited by the nagging realization that in all the books and TV shows and movies they like, the characters who go around forcing other people to Obey The Rules are the bad guys.

    Well. I mean. I’m a left-wing liberal and I freely admit I would, in fact, like to go around forcing other people to obey the rules. You know. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t invidiously discriminate. Pay your taxes. Build safe buildings. You break it, you fix it.

    I would love for the government to force people to obey those and many other rules, with swift, even brutal, alacrity.

    • petesh

      Years ago I tried to categorize Reagan Republicans as radical, and claim the mantle of conservatism for those who wanted to conserve the environment, hard-won rights etc etc. Fine idea, never worked.

  • I think that–after awhile–it must be depressing to be part of an ideology that is inherently uncool. That it must frustrating that nobody awesome likes your shitty ideas. I think this is why they try SO HARD to assure us they’re cool.

    You’d think that at some point they’d question WHY nobody cool likes them and adjust accordingly but nah.

    • tsam

      Times have changed. People used to get away with saying bigoted and sexist shit all the time. It got the validation it needed from a mixture of fear of not fitting in, and fear of reprisal for standing up to it. That’s changing, so I think conservatives are feeling a need to make it what it was. Cool isn’t what it was, but they have convinced themselves that’s what it was. It’s another way to rationalize being a jerk.

      • Who was it that said something along the lines of that “political correctness” usually means “not being a jerk”? That always struck me as being essentially spot on.

        • tsam

          Not sure who said it first, but I think it’s exactly spot on. The problem is that fuckheads like Greg Gutfield view themselves as something like Kevin Bacon in Footloose, saving the world (where world = white males) from the oppression social mores that don’t allow them to drop the N-bomb, thus decimating all the best jokes.

      • Origami Isopod

        People used to get away with saying bigoted and sexist shit all the time.

        This never stopped, even before the rise of Drumpf. Not even in liberal enclaves. It was just more subtle or coded.

    • Right, the RW solution is to force everyone to accept them.

      It explains the overlap of the neo-con/MRAs Venn diagram.

  • Karen24

    Conservatives have culture: classical music, opera (maybe not “La Boheme,” but most of the rest of it), Shakespeare, all the Great Books of the Western Canon which they always go on about schools no longer teaching but which the somehow never read.

    That is, of course, the problem. They aren’t interesting in conserving the best of the past because to do so requires that they understand it themselves. The best the modern iteration of conservatives can do is to either insist on rote memorization without analysis or, even better, making sure poor and middle class kids can never afford to study the humanities.

    • dpm

      Certainly not La Boheme. Anything that includes a song about ‘your tiny hand’ will be banned under Trump.

    • CP

      I have a cousin who’s a school teacher in a wealthy, Trump-adoring suburb in the South.

      Among many other things, she’s expected to teach the Iliad and Odyssey, BUT, isn’t allowed to discuss the concept of marital infidelity when explaining why Odysseus would feel guilty after staying with Calypso, lest she offend sensitive ears and expose the children to immoral behavior. But, you know… she’s still expected to teach the Odyssey, presumably because it’s a classic of Western civilization. It’s such a perfect encapsulation of the conservative mentality on education…

      … and, of course, isn’t this fundamentalism in a nutshell? Worship, but don’t comprehend.

    • NewishLawyer

      Are Classical music and opera conservative? They mainly seem to be the home of upper-middle class or above urbanites. Usually older than 60. If young people go to the symphony, it is probably video game night or they non-American.

      I went to see Fun Home a few weeks ago and even a musical inspired by an Alison Bechdel graphic novel had an audience that titled closer to 55 and over than 30. And this is in San Francisco!

      • Abbey Bartlet

        I don’t know what it costs to see a show in SF, but finances probably play a role.

        • NewishLawyer

          There are plenty of young people with good salaries or even vast riches in SF because of tech. Finances can only go so far and I am skeptical to use it as a constant hand wave.

          Then again from what I’ve heard, symphonies can get young people to show up for video game night but they have a hard time doing the whole “If you loved hearing us play music from Final Fantasy, why don’t you come for a rousing performance of the Jupiter Symphony by Shostakovich.

          • The Dark God of Time

            Was that written before or after the Leningrad Symphony?

            Just asking for a friend.

            • NewishLawyer

              OOf. I meant the Jupiter Symphony by Mozart. I am tired from a long day.

      • Opera can be… complicated politically, as it took so long to write operas that the composers’ and librettists’ views could change while they were in the process of doing so. The Ring of the Nibelung is of course the classic example; Wagner was basically an anarchist when he started writing it (in fact, IIRC, he was actually deported from a major city because of his activities with Bakunin, but I forget which one), and by the time he had finished it he was far more cynical and also more sympathetic to authoritarianism (though he would still have been appalled at the Nazis’ appropriations of his works; he may have been anti-Semitic but I’m also almost certain he wouldn’t have wanted us killed off en masse). I believe this was a factor in why he changed the ending to the more bittersweet one everyone knows; IIRC, initially he’d planned one with a more utopian resolution.

        • NewishLawyer

          Wagner hated Jews because he saw them as writing light and popular music instead of “true music”. Also Meyerbeer and Mendelhson made more money than he did. Meyerbeer: Taylor Swift as Wagner: Captain Beefheart in modern lexicon.

          It was Wagner’s widow that made him really connected to the Aryans and far-right. Just like Neitzche’s sister did all the work connecting him with the far right.

          • The Dark God of Time

            Rienzi was the greatest opera Meyerbeer never wrote.

          • Nietzsche actually hated anti-Semites and was at most ambivalent about nationalism and pan-Germanism – certainly not an active supporter of either. Nietzsche actually ended his friendship with Wagner over the latter’s anti-Semitism.

            And yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Wagner’s relatives had been way more anti-Semitic than he was.

          • LeeEsq

            Wagner’s views on the Jews and music are bit more wilder than that. According to Wagner true music was rooted in the national soil and should reflect the national character. This is why German opera is heavy like German cuisine even though Mozart wrote some pretty light operas that were sung in German. Since Jews had no home at the time, they were incapable of composing true music.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    “If Adolf Hitler
    were here today
    they’d send a limousine

    – Joe Strummer

    • wjts

      How many Valuable Pedant Points do I earn for pointing out that the lyric is “flew in today”?

      • BiloSagdiyev


        This is what I get for posting with my thumbs in the dark as the missus sleeps. I normally check sources.

        I lose 5 of my pedant points from previous posts and owe you one Les Paul heart attack machine. Which I don’t have.

  • los

    Haven’t conservatives always groveled and begged to be seen as “hip”?

    Pink guns

    “Trump is the anti-establishment candidate”

    Seductive Superfly Alpha-pimp James O’Skeeve

  • los

    1. christian rock (“Why can’t it just be “american rock”? Why do they have to push their christian rock Identity Politics into our faces?”)

    2. the apesh*tplanet guy on twitter recycled kurt schitler’s “conservatives are the real punk rockers” (benjoya youtube linked a similar example)

    3. Rappin’ bro Ben Carson and …
    The Miseducation of Stan Veuger. Conservatives’ hilarious attempt to appropriate rap music – Jeb Lund, Jay Friedman May 21, 2013

    “21 greatest conservative rap songs of all time,” Veuger jettisons all context, cherry picks certain song lyrics, links them to certain GOP talking points, and declares a shared philosophy.

    the first artist he listed was Justin Bieber. And not any of his more plausibly hip-hop work but rather his doing an update of “The Little Drummer Boy.” It’s actually less of a stretch to conclude that Aerosmith is a hip-hop group because they were in Run-DMC’s cover of “Walk This Way.”

    Maybe stupidest is that authors of this silly Traditional Values Hipsterism are apparently so stodgily ignorant of their writing topic, that they are completely unaware that conservative artists have made “genuinely hip” popular art.

  • Dr. Acula

    Who the hell is “Paul Joseph Watson”?

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Well, this thread has been educational, but not much punk to it. Which is something I know a few things about, so:

    from the beginning, punk has had a strong anti-authoritarian streak. So anarchists and (non-money-fixated) libertarians might fit in there, but today’s Republicans? Go fuck yourself.

  • I you’re a teenager today, there’s a good chance that Punk Rock was the music your grandparents listened to. Counter-culture music might be the music of your great grandparents, and will definitely the be music of great parents by the close of the decade.

    I think this is like me as a kid declaring that I’d discovered the next Lawrence Welk.

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