The Hollywood Anti-Left

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This weekend I'll be in L.A. covering the Liberty Film Festival, the only annual film fest I'm aware of that's devoted entirely to right-wing cinema. Those of you who prefer entertainment coverage to entertainment can wait for my dispatch next week; those of you who'd like to check it out for yourselves can find all the info you need right here.

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  1. What IS a right wing film these days?

    I’m picturing a really big budget Christian war flick, produced by Haliburton, cast by K Street, and charged to someone else’s credit card.

  2. The Kurdish film-shorts, Robo-Tech sneak peek and “We the Living” (1942) seem worth a look. Have fun.

  3. Yo, Adrian! It’s me, Rocky!

  4. Is it films about “liberty” in the sense we use it here?

    Or “liberty” in the right-wing propaganda sense, as in “yes, we want Liberty for all Americans, as long as they are white, own land, vote Republican, wear their hair in a buzz cut, wear navy blue suits with red ties with tiny American flags on the lapel, and only have sex in the dark in the missionary position”?

  5. Why do I think that that all they showed were Rambo-pics and “The Passion” over, and over, and over, and over…

  6. They’re doing a screening of The Searchers which they list as essential viewing for conservatives. I dunno, seems like a pretty ambiguous movie to me. Can anyone read this as an especially conservative movie?

  7. Ah, the film festival operated by the couple with lame conservative movie blog.

    We can only hope the Robotech movie doesn’t follow the dreadful “Jack McKinney” novels’ conclusion, or reaches into the Sentinels universe.

  8. With the exception of the most obviously political films, I don’t see films as “right” or “left”. One of my favorite films was an outright Stalin-style propaganda film (“The Cranes Are Flying”). I’d recommend it to any libertarians or republicans who enjoy great cinema.

  9. “Brainwashing 201: The Second Semester” – World Premiere! (30 mins., 2005)
    A hilarious yet sobering account by Evan Maloney of political correctness run amok on college campuses.

    Cool!!

    Featuring Special Introduction by author David Horowitz, who will speak about the Academic Bill of Rights.

    Ewww!!!

    I’ve seen the first flick mentioned, Fellowship 9/11, and thought it was pretty amusing.

    I find myself most curious about “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”. I’m sure it’ll be biased and maybe infuriatingly so, but I think it could be provocative and would likely at least work as a good horror movie, ie scare me.

    Have fun, Jesse! I look forward to your report!!

  10. “Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution” – Special Preview Presentation (92 mins., 2005)
    Documentary about the foundational role of the Republican Party in the abolition of slavery, and also the Civil Rights Movement. “Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution” argues that the Republican Party was created to end slavery, and that major legal reforms and acts of legislation passed to give black Americans the vote – and full civil rights equal to whites – were created and passed by Republican legislators. The movie also follows the fascinating story of how every black American elected to Congress immediately after the Civil War was a Republican, how President Eisenhower signed into law the first major civil rights reforms of the 20th century, and how most black Americans up until the 1960s were Republicans.

    “It then goes on to pretend that the last 41 years of history never occurred, and if they did, then you didn’t see anything, understand? ANYTHING!! Vote Republican!”

  11. *shaking my head*
    I hate those rude awakenings, when one assumes that libertarians are intelligent…yet they further stupid notions like republicans are all racists.

    It’s dolts like this that cause people to want to hold film fests such as this.

  12. They’re doing a screening of The Searchers which they list as essential viewing for conservatives. I dunno, seems like a pretty ambiguous movie to me. Can anyone read this as an especially conservative movie?

    That’s the trouble. The vast majority of conservatives are too stuck-up to have anything approaching creativity. Therefore, they comb the film archeives for anything that vaguely sounds comes close to their beliefs in one way or another, then latch on to it and claim the flick as one of your own.

    Rule of thumb, anything starring John Wayne or directed by John Milnus is usually dubbed a “conservative” flick by the Right. Although I don’t think a film festival featuring “Red Dawn” and “Big Jim McClain” is all that entertaining.

    I’ll admit that “The Wind And The Lion” was good, though I still have trouble picturing Sean Connery as an Arab.

  13. Although I don’t think a film festival featuring “Red Dawn” and “Big Jim McClain” is all that entertaining.

    Well your loss then…

  14. Why aren’t they showing Team America? All of my extreme lefty acquaintances are quite certain that TA came right out of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

  15. Scratching My Head,

    Are you reacting to independent worm’s post or Phil’s?

    If the former, I think you take him a bit too literally. I took his comment as intentionally overstated satire myself.

    If the latter, setting aside the caveat that neither of us has actually seen the film, I can relate to the alarms it sent up for Phil. On the face of it, the history of the Republican Party regarding race only shows how times and political parties change rather than demonstrating how blacks have got it wrong about Republicans. If you want to address how current Republican Party policies are better for blacks, well by all means. But the history of the Republican Party reflects little on its current relationship to blacks save for a sense of irony.

  16. Well your loss then…

    It’s nice to know you’re so easily entertained, Herman. I have some shiny coins and car keys in my pocket to keep you occupied while you’re waiting for the 3 pm showing of that masterpiece of patriotic cinema “Braddock: Missing in Action III.”

  17. I don’t really see how they can categorize The Searchers as especially right wing, unless they’re somehow suggestion that John Wayne’s character is thoroughly heroic. If anything, the film is about the abiguity that surrounds good and bad, how bad men do good things and good man can do bad things, etc.

    I was hoping they’d be running a series with a name like, “Examing Pan-Arabic Relations to the West and the Effects of Unilateral Military Intervention: Delta Force, starring Chuck Norris.”

    -K

  18. I hope you weren’t talking to me, Scratching My Head. Pointing out that a film glorifying the Republican Party’s historic role in abolition and civil rights appears, from the description offered, to want to elide everything that happened with the Dixiecrats and the Southern Strategy is a far, far cry from “further[ing] stupid notions like republicans are all racists.”

    Now, if the film is meant to highlight the idea that the Southern Strategy was and is morally and ethically wrong, and that the Republican Party should get back to its historic roots, I’m all about it. But I’ll bet you $50 it isn’t.

  19. Akira touches on a good point. Even the best examples of art from a conservative rarely actually push technical or artistic envelopes.

    Such endeavors may be noteworthy for their content, but rarely do conservative artists do anything new or innovative with the artform itself.

    It’s the difference between Bryan Larson and Luke Chueh

  20. Someone Else,

    All of my extreme lefty acquaintances are quite certain that TA came right out of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

    Really? They must be pretty extreme, or else idolize Michael Moore. Most of my lefty friends liked the flick just fine. The one who specifically addressed the film’s politics claimed that its pokes at the right were more substantial than its pokes at the left, ie, arrogant Americans bombing the Eiffel Tower and not giving a shit how the locals feel versus making fun of how fat Michael Moore is. You’d have to be pretty far left to mind the North Korean dictator singing about how ronery he is! (I hope anyway…) That said, I remember telling a former lefty friend of mine about Saddam Hussein’s abusive love affair with Satan in the South Park movie, and he scoffed, “Well THAT’s an easy target!” Hmm…

  21. Such endeavors may be noteworthy for their content, but rarely do conservative artists do anything new or innovative with the artform itself.

    Not sure if mediageek meant it this way, but it is interesting how having noteworthy content is often somehow devalued compared to monkeying around with the artform itself. Form, in short, over substance. And most artists who pride themselves on being transgressive or innovative produce krep. IMO.

  22. Akira-
    I have some shiny coins and car keys
    Well, if you have a nice car and the shiny coins are gold Krugerands, I think I will be well entertained for a while.

  23. I know I didn’t just hear someone trash Red Dawn.

    Wolverines!!!

  24. So, perhaps I’m merely denser than normal, but why Robotech? How is it “right wing cinema”?

  25. Dean, please don’t mistake my post as one that places form over substance.

    Just last night I finished reading a book by Jeff Cooper, who is very much an old school, classically educated conservative kind of guy. His writing style makes use of the royal “we” and is just as gilded as the bygone days he writes about. But the content is pretty solid, and hence worthy of my time.

    On the other hand, I attempted to read Lewis Nordan’s The Sharpshooter Blues a few years ago, and after the fifth page of overly self-indulgent, masturbatory text closed the book and put it back on the shelf.

    I suppose to sum up, yeah, most transgressive or innovative types generally turn out to be wannabe idiots, but without a bunch of people constantly trying new techniques, most of which ultimately fail, no new techniques would ever be discovered. Ultimately, one wants the best of both worlds- engaging content presented with an innovative technique.

  26. Morat,

    While there’s more fun to be had in labelling it a right wing film fest, it’s actually meant to be a Liberty filmfest. While that very rightly might be mocked in some instances for cheap conservative cover, it sometimes means what it says. Robotech might be considered on example of this, the Kurd film shorts another (I doubt that the makers of these would be found to have a whole lot in common politically with Rush Limbaugh). Even the inclusion of Rand’s “We the Living” could be seen as promoting liberty rather than conservatism.

    Also, it might just be a cheap bid to bring the anime-geek crowd in.

  27. If you’re going to lump Robotech into “liberty”, then you might as well bring in ANY film of “Fight the foreign invaders!” school of cinema.

    Yeah, they’re fighting against the big bad aliens and defending the ole’ homeland. About the only thing you can say for it is because it’s “human v. human-looking aliens” there’s at least not the ambiguity of the “fight the foreign devils!” sort of film (and the current rather uncomfortable parallels you can draw between that and, just to pull a random example, the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.)

  28. While there’s more fun to be had in labelling it a right wing film fest, it’s actually meant to be a Liberty filmfest.

    Well, its website does bill it as “Hollywood’s Conservative Film Festival.” One of the questions I’m planning to ask the participants is just what makes a movie “conservative.”

  29. Jesse,

    I’m sure that’s some of the focus (description list free speech, patriotism and religious freedom as things it espouses), but it’s obviously not strictly a right wing conservative republican message. Otherwise I would expect more silent scream and less Ayn Rand.

    What is your explanation for the Robotech inclusion? And is that perhaps the real reason you are going?

  30. Featuring Special Introduction by author David Horowitz, who will speak about the Academic Bill of Rights.

    Ewww!!!

    Ewww!!! is right!

    Horowitz used to have a local weekly radio show here in L.A. that was entertaining because he seemed to get guests who didn’t know his background, spinning every point into a right wing screed. ISTR his interpretation of The Piano as a conservative film pointing to woman’s need to be dominated by strong men, all to the confusion to his guest, who was cordial.

    Also amusing was his habit of flashing his “former liberal” credentials at least once a show.

  31. Take what conservatives pass for humor. (Please!) Does the Right really, honest think that Mallard Fillmore comics are funny? How about those putrid parodies they play on Rush Limbaugh’s show? You can see the jokes coming down Runway 9 a mile back every time. No originality. No bite.

    They’re no less funny than the “hilariously clever” things lefty protesters do (they were dressing up as Paul Revere and shouting, “The Republicans are coming! The Republicans are coming!” during the RNC, and that was supposed to make us all drop down to the street in uncontrolled fits of laughter) — though I will admit that most leftist protesters are innately funny without trying to be funny.

    And watching Bill O’Reilly is much funnier than listening to Al Franken.

  32. Featuring Special Introduction by author David Horowitz, who will speak about the Academic Bill of Rights.

    You mean the Sue Your Professor For Teaching Concepts You Don’t Want To Hear Act?

  33. What does liberty have to do with the right-wing. Seems like the two are mutually exclusive.

  34. The only people more annoying than loud-mouthed left-wing celebrities are loud-mouthed right-wing celebrities.

  35. Right-wing humor vs. left-wing humor: I really think it depends on whether your ox is being gored — and whether it’s being done subtly or with a sledgehammer. (Can you gore an ox with a sledgehammer?)

    It’s been many a year since I thought Rush Limbaugh was amusing. On the left, I used to truly love George Carlin, but lately he strikes me as just crabby and overly political. I actually kinda like reading “Mallard Fillmore” but it’s more like an oasis in my lefty local newspaper that makes me say, “Huh! Take that!” rather than inspiring real laughter. And “Doonesbury” stopped being consistently funny on the November day that Reagan was elected — I don’t think Gary Trudeau ever got over that trauma.

  36. Time for Stevo to feel really old. Does anyone else remember a 1980s miniseries called Amerika, about the Soviet conquet of the USA?

    (When it aired, I remember David Letterman said, “So what’s Chuck Norris doing while all this is going on?”)

  37. I remember watching it, but not much about it.

  38. Dean, please don’t mistake my post as one that places form over substance.

    Wasn’t sure, so I hedged. Much of what passes for criticism of the arts these days does devalue substance in favor of lunging after dubious innovation, though.

    The innovation that you mention usually requires a unorthodox and unconventional outlook on life which is something that an ideology seeped in tradition and authoritarian zeal can not produce.

    Not sure that conservative = authoritarian. Sure, there’s some overlap, but these days the authoritarians that I fear most are lefties.

  39. Righty v. lefty humor:

    What’s really funny is humor that busts on authority. Whoever is down at the moment usually gets off the good punch lines. Puncturing pretension is always funny. Looking down from Olympian heights never is.

  40. “Does anyone else remember a 1980s miniseries called Amerika, about the Soviet conquet of the USA?”

    I remember one scene from that. Some Soviet functionary was explaining to some Amerikan citizen how they took over so easily. They jammed all the radio waves, apparently, and just walked in. To paraphrase the payoff line:

    “We were surprised how, without television, your nation quickly turned into weak divided territories.”

    Even as young as I was, I knew I didn’t have to watch any more of it.

  41. I’m surprised they aren’t showing Ghostbusters or Brazil.

  42. $110? $6 for parking? Drive to West Hollywood? No thanks.

  43. After sleeping on it, I can think of one filmmaker whose content reflects pretty conservative values, but who has been considered an innovator if not in form, then in how film technology is used: Robert Zemeckis.

  44. “I still have trouble picturing Sean Connery as an Arab.”

    You have to see the SCTV skit “How the East was Won” sometime — Eugene Levy as Sean Connery as an Arab, saying “I’m a bloody mufti, dammit!”

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