Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 25 Best Conservative Movies of all time?

The 25 Best Conservative Movies of all time? Here's my commentary on their choices, and why this list is based on a faulty premise.

1) The Lives of Others- Didn't we try something like a surveillance state under the last administration? I know Republicans like to portray these things in terms of economic regulations, or government intervention of any kind, but there's nothing particularly conservative about resisting such totalitarian systems and their abuses.

2) The Incredibles- Again, the Republicans think they have a monopoly on resenting the "everybody's special" idea. They should remember, though, that the family makes the decision not to stand out in the end, to let others succeed and have the spotlight. Syndrome's plan (Syndrome being the villain) is wacked out and evil because he's not sharing technological power with everybody to their benefit, he's killing superheroes and acquiring their powers out of a twisted resentment of them. I'll tell you that I don't think much of awarding all participants in a competitive contest equally, but I think even less of the sort of twisted cultural resentment of intellectuals and scientists that the Republicans have stirred up in the past few years. As a party, they've been very resentful when power is granted to others, and have little compunction of fighting to nullify other's advantages, instead of developing their own.

4) Forrest Gump- When did having a moral compass and being critical of the excesses of the 60's and 70's become a purely Republican thing? The movie was more Clintonian than Republican.

5) 300- Given that they left the Spartan's penchant for institutionalized child molestation out of the picture (literally), I'll do the same in my critique of this choice. But let's discuss the institutionalized infanticide, the dependence of the Spartans and Athenians on slavery, and the funny idea of King Leonidas proclaiming the virtues of democracy. I guess they like the plentiful slaughter of Middle Eastern Hordes and the fact that the buff Spartans act so manly their masculinity's just about to detonate one of their testicles.


6) Groundhog Day- I guess they missed the part where he outs that young man as gay. Or the fact that the film is about breaking free from a routine and humbling himself.

7) The Pursuit of Happyness- Again, the Republicans think they have a lock on admiring a virtue. Of course we like self-made folks. If only most people in Wall Street were like this guy. Unfortunately, while this is probably the kind of portrayal they wished Hollywood would gift to Wall Street folks, circumstances have made the other portrayals far more appropriate.

8) Juno- Apparently, they never watch Scream. I think people liked it more for its snappy dialogue than its moral message. Which reminds me: Conservatives? Perhaps instead of holding protests and demanding bannings of films with points of view you don't like, why don't you folks make good movies which have moral and upright overtones to compete with them? It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

9) Blast From The Past- I think they must have missed Back to the Future, and a metric ton of other fifties-set movies. On that subject, I'd say this: good and bad. There's good and bad in every era, and I think this movie whitewashes some of it. I think it's better to understand different eras with a mix of realistic appreciation and forgiveness for the shortcomings of the era. We'll have to remember to do that when we reflect on this decade, no doubt. For each side there will be things to absolutely hate, and things to feel proud of.

10) Ghostbusters- Yes, the guy from the EPA is a dick. Or dickless. Yes, it's true, this man has no dick. But on the flip side, it can be argued that he reflects a universal problem: political officials not doing the science, but messing with technology against the advice of those familiar with it. The latter part of the story argues for timely intervention when it comes to crises, rather than last minute measures taken after the situations blown up into a full blown crisis.

I know. But why do Republicans have to hog all the subtext? We're just as good at rationalizing undertones into popular entertainment?

(honestly, though, I wouldn't be surprised if this was genuinely meant to be a conservative shot from the director. He is Arnold's favorite director, after all.)

11) Lord of the Rings- Power corrupts. Well, that's universal. Tolkien was obviously conservative in his sensibilities. But who can forget the portrayal of misrule with Denethor, the self-destructive military policy, the price of allowing dark despair to take over. Tolkien's mythic story has room for many in it, especially given it's notes of sympathy for enemies, its explicit environmentalism, and its aggressive military character. You can read different things into it, depending on your viewpoint. Sometimes when we try to politicize what we write, we deprive it of the depth that makes it appeal beyond such partisan sentiments. But other sentiments can be felt beyond the confines of stuffy partisanship.

12) The Dark Knight- Some folks, they just want to see the world burn. One should remember when Alfred recounts what he did to defeat the bandits. He said he burned down the forest. The impression left at the end of the movie is that Batman essentially wins a pyrrhic victory by going all out, with his efforts to defeat the Joker. He strains relationships, alienates allies, and ends up being manipulated into finishing the destruction of the bright light that was going to help end Batman's tortured time as Gotham's protector. The movie, as much as anything else, is about the dark price of escalating the fight against evil into a no-holds barred battle. The price of such expedience is often to lose the war for winning the battles.

13) Braveheart- The nice fantasy for the Republicans is that somehow Liberals don't like movies about violent wars for freedom. Never mind Spielberg's own violent opus, Saving Private Ryan. Hell, should I tell them that I liked The Passion of the Christ, too? If the Conservatives weren't so busy insulting us about how much we dislike fights for freedom and religion, perhaps they'd realize that not every Democrat fits their obnoxious strawman. If we weren't so into ass-kicking, then how did we win the last election?

On another note, let me say this: though some liberals dislike graphic or realistic violence, and I can understand that, I take the other view: if violence doesn't seem painful, people won't consider it's cost so well. Constant violence can be desensitizing. With Rambo, Stallone's recent opus, I got to the point where all the evisceration and bodily destruction just became an intellectual exercise (gee, that's a new way to separate somebody from a limb...) But it's good punctuation and good drama sometimes to emphasize that violence hurts and people suffer. It's a balancing act.

14) A Simple Plan- As I recall it, moral slip-ups ending up in tragic consequences is a universal basis for tragedies. Call it conservative. I call it human nature. The irony is, such tragedies happened right in front of the GOP, and they didn't even acknowledge them.

15) Red Dawn- Good heavens. Do you really think I'd try to argue with this one?

16) Master and Commander- They should really tell these people that law and order and military discipline are not uniquely celebrated among their own. They should, however, take note of the disdain in which superstition is held. After all, a major subplot of the film revolves around a nice little trip to the Galapagos Islands. They should have also picked up on an important lesson: as British officers, Aubrey and his crew were obligated to choose the lesser of two weevils. (that's not a typo, watch the film)

17) The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - I first have to include the blurb the writer did on this film, just to make most of my point for me:

The White Witch runs a godless, oppressive, paranoid regime that hates Santa
Claus. She’s a cross between Burgermeister Meisterburger and Kim Jong Il. The
good guys, meanwhile, recognize that some throats will need cutting: no
appeasement, no land-for-peace swaps, no offering the witch a snowmobile if
she’ll only put away the wand. Underlying the narrative is the story of Christ’s
rescuing man from sin — which is antithetical to the leftist dream of perfected
man’s becoming an instrument for earthly utopia. The results of such utopian
visions, of course, are frequently like the Witch’s reign: always winter, and
never Christmas.

Good heavens, man. Could you be any more hilariously off-base? Maybe you should watch the next movie, which is about how even those with the best intentions can screw up. Major subplot at least. This War on Christmas crap just makes me want to throw things. All because we're trying to be a little more inclusive while we celebrate our own particular holiday, these wingnuts (and I pick my use of that term with particular care) act like we're trying to destroy it, like we hate it. As for land for peace details, should we remind these folks just whose land it was originally when the Israeli's took it? They're called the occupied territories for a reason.

Sigh. I love when folks tell me what I really think. I really do need help figuring out what I'm thinking for myself.

18) The Edge- Otherwise known as an allegory for the Obama story. Brains beats hostility. Obama the rabbit smokes the pipe on the other side of the paddle because he knows he's safe from the Panther.

Or we could look at this as a tale of the self-made man winning out over an opportunistic, dishonest thief, which as I reminded y'all folks earlier, is not restricted as an admired virtue to the Right.

19) We Were Soldiers- I let you guys have this one.

20) Gattaca- First, there are no calamitous results. Spoiler: Ethan Hawke's character succeeds in his ambitions. Further spoiler: Liberals love stories of people overcoming adversity and discrimination. Don't they remember that the guy who wrote and directed this also directed Lord of War, one of perhaps the most harrowing critiques of American foreign policy in recent times?

21) Heartbreak Ridge- "A welcome glorification of Reagan’s decision to liberate Grenada in 1983". Glorification is the right word to describe any movie about the invasion of Grenada. Not to knock the soldiers who did their job there, but that wasn't an earthshaking triumph. We should fight wars to practical ends, not as therapy for lost battles. War is not a safe, touchy-feely thing that can be so casually employed. I haven't seen it, to be sure, and I'm sure Eastwood is a hoot, but Grenada is a footnote in history, which could have almost been fictionalized as some other battle had Grenada not come along.

22) Brazil- A good Liberal movie for the same reason it's a good Conservative movie.

23) United 93- Hollywood has a tendency to seek commercially sound melodramatic balance, whether the movie tries to be Conservative or Liberal. They could have made the movie go either way. Instead, they portray both sides with humanity, without making the fatal mistake of using that humanity to excuse obviously heinous acts. Republicans need to realize that lowest common denominator jingoism is both unnecessary and unhelpful. This movie make the point of what evil the Terrorists did, and what heroism the passengers employed to challenge their captors, without resorting to cliche or lowest common denominator stereotyping.

24) Team America: World Police- The Liberal Hollywood Left is the two dollar senior citizen prostitute of Republican cliches about Democrats. Yes, sometimes folks like that say amazingly stupid shit. That's what happens when you have people with lots of money and few people to tell them "no" or "shut up". But they've frequented this stereotype so much and for so long that it probably excites next to no attraction for folks besides those desperate enough to try it. Worse, they take the stereotype of the stereotype, which is essentially like making an out of focus porno movie in the dark with that old two-dollar whore. As easy as it is, one just has to wonder "Why?"

25) Gran Torino- Encouraging understanding and assimilation of immigrants. Realizing that racism is bad. Gee, what a concept. I'll acknowledge the Republicans got to it first, during the civil war, but for some odd reason, the Republicans of today took up the political banner of those who they beat in that past century, and became the party of States Right, rationalized racism, and recalcitrant hatred of the the old Union States.

I don't know. The public voices of the Republicans seem unwilling to admit that they live in the same country, admire many of the same values, and fight against many of the same evils as everybody else. It's kind of sad to see the way the Republicans have convinced themselves that the rest of the country is all against them. They seem to be trapped in a world where they can't rely on anybody outside of the redstate tribe. They need to open themselves up to the world beyond their politics.

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