10 January 2009

Where have you gone, Leni Riefenstahl? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you

Much fun has been had at the expense of a new right-wing site called "Big Hollywood:" apparently the latest in a long line of attempts to win the film industry over to conservativism.  

The creeping evil of "liberal Hollywood" has, of course, been a longstanding hobbyhorse for right-wingers, but their new approach is, if not more coherent, at least more novel.  It mixes the usual bawling about "blacklisted" Hollywood righties and the liberal agenda with triumphalist crowing about the box-office failures of a recent spread of anti-war movies and claims that blockbusters like "The Dark Knight" secretly contain a right-wing message which explains their massive success.  

John Rogers wrote the definitive post on this subject a few years ago, but it bears going over again.  The great majority of the output from the megastudios is designed to be as inoffensive as possible, because the studio's goal is to reach the largest audience possible.  Insofar as most blockbusters promote any values at all, they're the kind of back-of-the-cereal-box Aesops that no one would find troubling ("love conquers all!" etc.).  They are nothing if not "conservative."  Which would seem to make the right-wing objections to movie world perplexing.  There are a lot of films that could be said to have generally "conservative" values; the Pixar catalogue comes to mind.  

But it's important to remember this about our contemporary American right-wingers; they aren't really that "conservative."  Indeed, the primary complaint from right-wing Hollywood critics is the insufficient amount of jingoistic war propaganda, and, to a lesser extent, too little respect for the virtues of savage capitalism.  It's odd to see conservatives embrace "The Dark Knight" so readily, given that the main debate over the film is how much it endorses Batman's vigilante fascism (following the Hollywood truism above, I couldn't make heads or tails of that movie's attempt at political commentary, which was probably intentional).  If judging right-wing film commentary is any indication, modern conservatism can be boiled down to this;  support for the great American war machine, and worship of right-wing authoritarian heroes.  All else is auxillary.