Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Playing With a Stick


Recently, a TV actress announced that she doesn't like Obama, but does like Sarah Palin. According to a gruelingly upbeat Kulturkampfer named Ned Rice, this unprecedented confession suggests that Hollywood conservatives have found the courage ("after decades of cowering") to whine publicly about taxes, immigration, taxes, abortion, taxes, faggotry, and taxes, without caring whose toes they step on. They're here, they may or may not be queer, get used to it!

And they owe it all to Andrew Breitbart, who has done for conservative self-esteem what Charles Atlas's Dynamic-Tension did for the love lives of seaside sissy-boys:

Some are calling this newfound courage the Breitbart Effect, named for the affable New Media titan who exposed the amoral Superfund toxic waste site of Tinsel Town by subjecting it to the standards of traditional, conservative (read: normal) American values.
If you don't want to call it the Breitbart Effect, Rice will also accept "the Having-Just-Grown-A-Pair Effect" (fuck you, feminists!), or "the Other Great Enlightenment" (fuck you, Joseph Alexandre Victor d'Hupay)! Call it what you like, as long as you credit Breitbart for bringing these shrinking violets out of their private hothouses and into the cold, cruel Streisandian world.

And speaking of Breitbart, isn't Breitbart just incredibly great? I mean, when you stop and think about it?
Andrew Breitbart grew up in the part of Los Angeles known as Brentwood (“O.J. country,” he calls it), surrounded by entertainment industry families and regular working folks like his father, a restaurateur, and his mother, who worked in the trust department at Bank of America. Andrew’s Wonder Bread years were spent playing baseball, watching his beloved Dodgers and absorbing the pop culture references that would help form the foundation of his life’s work.
Rice needs to revisit the work of David Brooks. Restaurateurs are not "regular working folks." On the contrary, they run the sort of snooty uppercrust restaurants that put kiwi slices and pink Himalayan salt on everything. If Rice were a true professional, he'd know better than to imply that Breitbart's father was a mincing, elitist Francophile who reeked of anise and saffron.

As a child, Breitbart sold burgers and pizza, like all good-hearted people. His parents instilled in him a respect for hard work and common sense, which explains the "gentlemanly C’s" he managed to earn at Tulane, when he wasn't busy "adding to his encyclopedic knowledge of classic TV and ’80s music." (The man may not know much about the Constitution, or the Nitrogen Cycle, but he can name every MTV veejay in chronological order, and tell you which ones are currently pro-life!)

Although Tulane did its damnedest to fill Breitbart with "post-modernist bilge," he didn't cotton to none o' that there foolishness. For him, the music of Haircut 100 and Huey Lewis had nothing to do with decentering subjectivity by positing "reality" as a social construction arising from a contested field of simulations, nor with interrogating meta-narratives by means of a ludic intertextuality; rather, he held with Aquinas that a song like "Hip to Be Square" is "true with respect to its conformity with the divine intellect, insofar as it fulfills the end to which it was ordained by the divine intellect."

He also realized that "the Hegelian dialectic he’d been subjected to in college" was not going to get him a job...perhaps because the Affirmative Action Cult had already earmarked all the Hegelian desk jobs for unqualified minorities like Francis Fukuyama.

Everything changed — or at least intensified — when Breitbart watched Clarence Thomas stagger painfully along the Via Dolorosa of his confirmation hearings. Suddenly, all the pieces fell into place:
In a flash of insight, Breitbart realized that the media were the Democratic Party, that the NAACP was the Democratic Party, that NOW was the Democratic Party and that the false notion that the media and the various rights groups were acting in the best interests of America independent of ideological bias seemed less laughable than criminal to him.
Soon, the Internet came along, which meant that Breitbart could offer this epiphany to a bunch of perpetually angry paranoiacs who'd probably already had it more than once. And the next thing you know, an actress on Law and Order found the nerve to complain about Obama. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair!

Lord knows Breitbart has earned the right to rest on his laurels. But instead, he's created a new group blog called Big Hollywood. Why "Big Hollywood"? I'm glad you asked.
Big Hollywood’s name is an allusion to supposedly evil corporate powers. Like Big Oil and Big Pharma, Big Hollywood’s name cheekily suggests that entertainment isn’t just an industry, it’s a powerful force for social and political change.
If Breitbart gets his way, Hollywood will turn away at last from the left-hand path, and start making films that reinforce traditional gender roles, ennoble white rage as a cleansing force in society, and present the rule of law as optional when there's terrorism afoot. (It may even go a step further, someday, and portray FDR as a socialist dictator who ruined the country, at which point cultural domination will suddenly become giving the people what they want.)

Instead of dealing with every Acte and Monument in Rice's hagiography, I'll proceed directly to the money quote. Here's Breitbart on the difference between Hollywood liberals and Hollywood conservatives:
Hollywood conservatives are a much happier lot, even though they’re manifestly oppressed. The best analogy I can think of is that Hollywood right-wingers are like an impoverished Third World child who happily plays with a stick, and Hollywood left-wingers are like a spoiled rich kid surrounded by expensive toys who’s so bored he’s throwing a tantrum.
On the one hand, oppression is a terrible injustice; on the other, all that's required to overcome it is a sunny disposish. Like many conservatives, Breitbart can't resist downplaying and trivializing human misery, even if doing so undercuts his own argument.

Note, too, that in this analogy, the people who typically express concern about Third World suffering and poverty are "spoiled rich kids," while the people who typically spout anodyne excuses for it are...the poor themselves. Not content with exploiting the labor of the poor, and the natural resources of their countries, conservatives now intend to harvest the tears of the oppressed with an eyedropper and apply them to their own cheeks.

But what of it? What is truth, when you come right down to it? You could look at Breitbart's analogy as batshit-crazy nonsense. Or you could look at it as a micronarrative that challenges the hegemonic discourse of liberalism, and is therefore precisely as "true" as it needs to be. Perhaps Breitbart shouldn't have been quite so quick to reject postmodernism, given the extent to which his work accepts it, and his movement depends on it.

(Photo by Hartmut Schwarzbach.)

9 comments:

willf said...

For the sake of fuck, don't let the Conservatives anywhere near postmodernism, it makes them go all cock-slappy.

jaytingle said...

I read a goodly portion of the Townhall piece. Mr. "Big Hollywood" betrays his insider credentials immediately by identifying Angie Harmon as "A-list." No wonder La Streisand acts so threatened.
The upshot of not-so-Breitbart's thesis would appear to be that the culture war must be won in order that conservatives may continue to behave as bigots without being so identified.
I don't know about post-modernism, but the undeniable appeal of the conservative movement is that they appear to reconcile ideas which cannot coexist in reality: christian morality and free market capitalism, a pro-life movement that features murder, working-class people who fight regulation of big business, the list goes on.
To get an idea of the importance of Breitbart to the movement, read his Washington Times mea culpa, "I, Jerk."

Phila said...

I read a goodly portion of the Townhall piece.

Not easy to get through, is it?

I try to keep tabs on wingnuts, but I don't know much about Breitbart. I've read the occasional excerpt, and he seems to be stupid, smug, and nuts...which isn't really enough to differentiate him from the competition.

The "playing with a stick" bit is classic, though.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

re: the GOP and post modern/structuralism...

If you study their strategy and tactics, they clearly read and appropriated the core tenets of Derrida and Foucault long before those joined the public discourse through Culler, Fish, et al.

The main reason for the rightard assault on those methodologies was to camouflage the rightards' wholesale adoption of those epistemological tricks.

Phila said...

The main reason for the rightard assault on those methodologies was to camouflage the rightards' wholesale adoption of those epistemological tricks.

I always did think they protested a wee bit too much. Accusation is usually confession with that crowd.

Phila said...

To get an idea of the importance of Breitbart to the movement, read his Washington Times mea culpa, "I, Jerk."

Just read it. Incredibly funny and also pretty sad.

He handled the apology pretty gracefully, at least.

Jazzbumpa said...

Phila --

I knowed youse was a verbal virtuoso, but holy flaming pitchfork of Moloch:

"nothing to do with decentering subjectivity by positing "reality" as a social construction arising from a contested field of simulations, nor with interrogating meta-narratives by means of a ludic intertextuality;"

Right on! (I think . . .)

jaytingle:
undeniable appeal of the conservative movement is that they appear to reconcile ideas which cannot coexist in reality

Yup. It's genuinely amazing. But I am cursed with consistency as my personal hobgoblin.

WV: hingboac - IIRC, he was the father of the micronarrative that challenges the hegemonic discourse of liberalism.

(Or maybe it was John Bolton.)

Anonymous said...

Charles Atlas is Great! www.charlesatlas.com

Phila said...

Charles Atlas is Great! www.charlesatlas.com

All right. I'll gamble a stamp and get his FREE book.