Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Conservatives entertained by nihilistic propaganda

View from the Right had a good discussion today on people not noticing the liberal messages that surround us in modern society. A commenter mentioned meeting "conservatives" who enjoy movies like Pleasantville without even realizing that these films are leftist propaganda.

By far the most egregious example of this phenomenon, in my experience, is how so many conservatives are fans of the television show The Simpsons. I used to watch it sometimes in college, before I became mature and discerning enough to realize how destructive it was, and I honestly don't think it's possible to pack more nihilism, cynicism, and scorn for all things traditional into one half-hour than the producers of this show do. Appallingly, I have even met evangelical Christians who are fans of the show, despite the fact that mockery of evangelical Christians from a clearly atheist or secular-left perspective has been one of the show's longest-running and most prominent themes. When I pointed this out to one of them, he replied, "well, they pretty much make fun of everyone." I can't imagine how one can consider oneself a devout Christian and think that mockery of, say communism, or alcoholics, or Indian culture, somehow excuses mockery of Christianity.

Another example is the movie The Golden Compass which recently opened in theaters. Now, I have not heard conservatives or Christians express admiration for this film, but it is certain that many people are completely unaware of its anti-traditional religion message. To be fair, the message may not be clear from the first movie alone. I read the first two books, before the author's intentions in writing them became known, and if I recall correctly, at the end of the first the message is still unclear, but by the end of the second it is obvious that the trilogy is intended as an anti-Christianity diatribe, which is now well-known to anyone who cares to read reviews. As I understand it, in the fictional world of the books God is really just the most powerful of angels, and he wrongly usurped power long ago and convinced everyone he was God, and now he must be killed so that mankind can be free from his tyranny. The author, Philip Pullman, has stated in interviews that he hates C.S. Lewis and the Narnia books (not to mention Christianity), and essentially set out to write an anti-Narnia. Despite this, I recently overheard someone describing the movie as "basically another Narnia, except instead of a lion there's a bear, and instead of a witch there's a [something]," and he listed several other superficial differences without which, he was implying, the movie is very similar to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I wonder if what is going on here is that people have lost the ability to think beyond any but the most superficial level. The Golden Compass is a fantasy movie featuring talking animals based on a series of children's novels, so therefore it must be like the Narnia stories, even though it suggests that the Christian God is evil and can and should be killed. The Simpsons makes fun of people doing foolish things, so it's funny; it doesn't matter who it makes fun of or why it considers what those people do foolish. At the moment, though, I can't figure out how this happened; how supposedly educated people, and especially professing conservatives, lost sight of the fact that ideas have consequences.

A final note: I was about to claim that I had never seen commentary from a traditionalist or conscientious cultural conservative on the topic of this "conservative" adoration of The Simpsons, something that should outrage us. But after searching, I came across another VFR discussion in which Sage McLaughlin, the same commenter who made the Pleasantville point, wrote a good comment about it. It's about halfway down the page.


Terry Morris said...

Hermes, excellent post!

The Simpsons is an appalling cartoon of which I've watched four or five episodes at most. From what I've watched of it it is simply junk. And you know what they say: "junk in, junk out."


Jacob Douvier said...

If you think the Simpsons is bad, you should see (or shouldn't) Family Guy. It makes the Simpsons seem wholesome.

I recently blogged about how the Christian community should respond to the Golden Compass. I made the point that older children (jr. and high school age), if they have been trained well, ought to be able to see the movie, so long as they are thinking critically about it's ideas. Now, some argue that the words "discerning" and "teenager" don't belong in the same sentence, but I know from firsthand experience that they can be equipped.
My aside aside, I haven't seen anything but negative reaction to Golden Compass.

uncle ned said...

Excessive-almost compulsive- jocularity and an excessive preference for comedy over serious art and thought(or simply serious conversation ) is one of the major vices of the English-speaking peoples. This kind of behavior allows, for example, the indigenous English to avoid taking seriously the destruction of their country and culture until they reach the point where they can no longer take it. Then they decamp permanently to the Costa Brava.

I wonder if a victory of the Central Powers( a good idea in any case since it would have spared us Hiler and the Bolsheviks) might have altered the zeitgeist somewhat and created a barrier against uncontrolled buffoonery. Nobody who has known more than a few Germans would say that they lack a sense of humor-they just utilize it more sparingly.

P.S. Here is my favorite online humorist.