Monday, February 16, 2009

Cons on Film

Suppose you hew to an ideology according to which hating an entire art form (film) is something of a cherished rite. But sensing that merely fulminating against the art form has contributed to your movement's estrangement from large segments of the population -- that there are only so many curled-lip repetitions of "Holly-weird" and cheap Babylon analogies before people start to tune out -- you've decided to indulge a new tactic: declare that film is teh awesome (uh, sometimes)!

Once in a blue moon, Hollywood releases a conservative movie, or at least a film that resonates with conservatives in a particular way. Because conservatives love movies — and especially debates about movies — we decided to produce a list of the 25 best conservative movies of the last 25 years.
The key to pulling off the conceit that "conservatives love movies" is in the bundle of not-so-confident-sounding hedges that define this rarest of pearls, the "conservative movie": it refers only to those movies that "resonate with conservatives" and achieve this resonance "in a particular way," the latter a recognition that many a movie has shown promising augurs of conservative resonance only to veer into hated liberal-left resonances by its end. But in the spirit of the new tactic, the conservative resonances will be culled and counted like so many precious natural wonders (four-leaf clovers, six-toed cats, white whales, grand canyons, dizzying peaks). Sensing the conservative readership's rising hostility to the conceit, a new qualifier is quickly added to these, "... and especially debates about movies ... " which serves to assure the movement conservative that he's really not being asked to leave the happy climes of despising and castigating film after all.

The result is roughly what you'd expect: slapdash, reductive bottom-lining of 25 films, few of which would enter any list of 25 best, and a few of which would fit easily on a list of 25 worst.

It's one thing to do film criticism and quite another to pluck little "resonances" from films. Both of these are fair enough activities -- it's a free country so long as we can have films as dauntless as We Were Soldiers, right? -- but it's not clear if the compilers of this list know the difference or care about it. That aside, if you're doing this kind of resonance plucking, isn't it useful to get it right?

Marvel at them getting even the plucking wrong as documented at Rust Belt Philosophy and The Rude Pundit.

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