John McCain

"Perhaps You Haven't Noticed, but We've Been Sharing Our Culture With You All Morning."

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Brad Reed and Roy Edroso, two liberals who regularly write about conservative appropriation of pop culture, have a longer piece on the topic in The American Prospect. It's funny but the conclusion misses something.

What the Konservetkult has failed to grasp through all this is that art is most successful when it is not put slavishly in the service of political ideology. To be sure, art and politics have commingled in the past, from Beethoven's symphonic tribute to Napoleon to Goya's graphic depictions of war, to South Park's barbed libertarian social satire. But lasting political art uses politics as its inspiration; in the Konservetkult's calculus, politics must always use art. Normal people look at a piece of art and ponder how it changes their view of the world, or how it deepens their appreciation for life. The right's culture critics look at art and ask, "How can this help us win?"

Thing is, conservatives/traditionalists/hawks used to have a lock on pop culture. Victor Davis Hanson or Myrna Blyth's yen for more conservative art isn't like James Dobson's nostalgia for an Ozzie and Harriet-style America. That kind of America didn't exist, but the show did. And while that was on the air, outwardly sexual or anti-war or pro-gay entertainment was kept off. The pro-war pop culture critic's frustration is even easier to understand, as during the "good war" they could watch Frank Capra-directed fighting man films and during the Korean War they could pore over Two-Fisted Tales. It's natural for them to get wistful about that after three decades of Eric Maria Remarque-lite cinema with the occasional token nod to WWII (Saving Private Ryan). They want more pro-war films and are frustrated that no one is making them.

Edroso actually gets this. As he blogged a while back:

I would much rather see a Unification Church production of Petraeus: Man of Iron than another silly rant about how Hollywood is engaged in treason.

Jeremy Lott's classic article on the Christian culture industry is here.

UPDATE: My back-of-the-envelope casting call for Petraeus: Man of Iron:

Gen. David Petraeus - Gary Sinese
President George W. Bush - Dennis Quaid
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - Alfred Molina
Fred Kagan
- Wayne Knight
Sen. John McCain - Michael Hogan
Michael O'Hanlon - James Spader
Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp - Hayden Christensen