the pop culture / political complex

From The National Review’s “Now What?”, hand-wringing after the election.  Jay Nordlinger “Against the Tide” — this is from a mish of his article online and a slightly variation that is in the print edition.

When Hillary Clinton said “It takes a village,” a lot of conservatives objected. The full saying is, “It takes a village to raise a child.” One can certainly understand the objections. But, in an important sense, it does take a village to raise a child. Children are shaped by everything around them: in the home and outside it.
 Way back in the mid-1980s, Tipper Gore wrote a book called Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society. Tipper and her husband were dabbling in a kind of social conservatism at the time. They dropped it quick — because all the cool cats, such as Frank Zappa (I remember him specifically), mocked and reviled them. Social conservatism is not the way to rise in the Democratic party. They rose.
Who runs the village?  What are the forces that shape men and women?  Well, we could name education, IK through graduate school.  The movies.  Popular music.  Entertainment television.  The news media.  In all of these areas, the Left holds sway.  Where does the Right hold sway?  Country music, talk radio, NASCAR, it’s hard to go on.

From Michael Knox Beran’s article on how Obama won 8 of the nation’s ten richest counties and what this means for the whole “Country Club” thing, “Obama’s Coddled Elites“:

And why should they keep track of them (deficits, tax dollars), when the most respectable oracles of the coastal suburbs — the New York Times, PBS, Diane Sawyer, Andrea Mitchell, David Letterman, et alia — readily assure you that under President Obama “it’s all swell”?

Too busy going back to the well of Clinton — Lewinsky jokes and Bush Dumb jokes is that last one, methinks.

Well, if hey Left is getting Obama re-elected through its powerful bases in the Hollywood media, what is the Right left with?  They have the important niches in the Military Politico Complex, I think.  Jay Leno, maybe?  Also all military related movies.  Red Dawn and the remake of Red Dawn… from John J Miller’s appreciation of Red Dawn:

The violence of Red Dawn serves a grander purpose than cheap thrills: It means to show that the Second Amendment is in the Constitution for a good reason. Early in the film, the camera lingers on a Chevy truck’s bumper sticker: “They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.” Then the image tilts to the ground, where a Soviet pries a pistol from the cold, dead fingers of a fallen American. It may feel like an ad for the National Rifle Association — recall the late Charlton Heston’s rallying cry at the 2000 NRA convention, “From my cold, dead hands!” In this case, the slogan works as an ironic epitaph. As the story of Red Dawn plays out, however, America’s gun culture allows the Wolverines to fight back.

Red Dawn also fights forward. In 2003, the movie made the news when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein. The deposed Iraqi dictator was discovered in a location known as “Wolverine Two” in a raid called “Operation Red Dawn.” The code name was the brainchild of Army captain Geoffrey McMurray, then 29 years old. “I think all of us in the military have seen Red Dawn,” he told USA Today. “Operation Red Dawn was so fitting because it was a patriotic, pro-American movie.” Milius applauded the effort, telling the Los Angeles Times that the soldiers who found Hussein “are Wolverines who have grown up and gone to Iraq.” A handful of liberals uttered dutiful harrumphs, noting that in Iraq, Americans were the oppressing invaders and the Iraqi insurgents were the scrappy rebels.

They just refuse to let go — and they’re already mobilizing against the new Red Dawn. In September, Joe Leydon of Variety mocked “a premise arguably even sillier than the original Red Dawn.” He may have a valid point. In the 2012 release, the Soviets are gone, tossed upon the ash heap of history. Their replacements are the North Koreans, whose attempted conquest of the United States requires not just an old-fashioned suspension of disbelief but an indulgence of gobsmacking ignorance.

 More on the implausibility of the Red Dawn redux scenario, here.  And how maybe something can be said for cutting Defense spending out of it.

The new version of Red Dawn, like the original, centers around a foreign invasion of the U.S. The country that manages to invade this time is North Korea, a pariah state with a military budget generously estimated at $9 billion, compared with about $650 billion for the U.S. The North Korean economy is so battered that famines are a regular occurrence. This inadvertently lends the movie’s plot a smidgen of plausibility, since any North Korean invasion of the U.S. probably could be defeated by a misfit band of teenage dropouts.

Originally it was China, but China wouldn’t let it — and the studio needs that market and all — so it’s changed from one implausible scenario to a more implausible one.  Just as well — let’s lose all illusion of “moral in the story” of Military Preparedness.  (No.  That’s what Eliot Abrams claimed.)

From David Sirota’s “Back to Our Future” on 80s pop culture and its political imprint

In 1997, after reports that “Red Dawn” was one of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s favorite films, MGM/United Artists vice president Peter Bart revealed to Variety that when his company first considered the movie’s script, the studio’s CEO “declared in no uncertain terms that he wanted to make the ultimate jingoistic movie.” The studio subsequently recruited Reagan’s recently departed secretary of state, retired general Alexander Haig, to serve on MGM’s corporate board, “consult with [‘Red Dawn’s’] director and inculcate the appropriate ideological tint.” Though the screenplay’s first draft strived to lament the tragedies of war, Bart recounted how the studio “demanded to know why [it] should try to remake ‘Lord of the Flies’ when it could instead try for ‘Rambo.’” […]

For that access, the military began exacting a price. The Pentagon’s focus on juveniles created the heavy hand it was beginning to use to shape popular culture in the 1980s. Increasingly, for filmmakers to gain access to even the most basic military scenery, Pentagon gatekeepers began requiring major plot and dialogue changes so as to guarantee that the military was favorably portrayed. In a Variety story from 1994, the Pentagon’s official Hollywood liaison, Phil Strub, put it bluntly: “The main criteria we use [for approval] is … how could the proposed production benefit the military … could it help in recruiting [and] is it in sync with present policy?” […]

As if that carrot-stick dynamic weren’t coercive enough to aspiring filmmakers, the Pentagon in the 1980s expanded the definition of “cooperation” to include collaboration on screenplays as scripts were being initially drafted. “It saves [writers] time from writing stupid stuff,” said one official in explaining the new process.

And so we have Will and Grace and Red Dawn, and I guess it’s the perimeters of what we get elected.

Leave a Reply