Monday, February 23, 2009

I triumphantly return to blogging by mocking the idea of "conservative" movies

It's not difficult to point out some movies that are decidedly "liberal," at least based on the overall tone and plot of the film. A few titles come to mind such as The American President and Dave, wherein Republican politicians receive their comeuppance by Democratic politicians or a likeable everyman character. For some reason, it seems harder to label a particular film "conservative," particularly using the present-day meanings of the words "liberal" and "conservative." Sometimes I think "liberal" ideas just make for better drama--stories of an underdog triumphing against the odds are much more compelling than stories of the struggle to remain abstinent or to retain one's tax cuts. I jest, somewhat, but the reason I'm even writing this is because I have been haunted for the past several days by the National Review Online's list of the 25 best "conservative" movies (h/t Chez Pazienza at HuffPo). What, you may ask, is a "conservative" movie? Well, in this case it refers to films "that offer compelling messages about freedom, families, patriotism, traditions, and more." With such a generic definition, this should be an entertaining list. Personally, I think it shows the utter bankruptcy of the very concept of a single "conservative" ideology in 2009 America. Cue the snark.

1. The Lives of Others. Beyond a doubt, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. Set in East Berlin in 1984, it tells the story of a Stasi spy assigned to snoop on a barely-tolerated subversive playwright, and how the spy comes to sympathize with the playwright's ideals and freedoms over the Communist system he has devoted his life to. Thinking that communism and totalitarianism suck is hardly the sole domain of "conservatives" anymore, though, so I hereby reclaim The Lives of Others for my fellow political independents.

2. The Incredibles. Another one of my favorite movies, said to "celebrate marriage, courage, responsibility, and high achievement." These are "conservative" values? I think someone missed the last 8 years.

3. Metropolitan. I haven't seen it, but it apparently involves a normal guy showing up a bunch of effete New York snobs. And that's really what conservatives are all about.

4. Forrest Gump. The title character is described as "an amiable dunce who is far too smart to embrace the lethal values of the 1960s." I suppose that is one way of interpreting it, but I got a rather strong anti-everything-stupid vibe from the movie, not just limited to hippies. Meh.

5. 300. Seriously. 300 is considered a conservative film. Beefcake in leather speedoes being fed into a meat grinder in the name of defending a society that kills unfit individuals at birth. It is worth noting that a major cause of the eventual smackdown they receive (aside from being horrifically outnumbered) is the betrayal of one of those "unfit" individuals who was allowed to live, and man was he pissed. I suppose the lesson is that freedom isn't free and must be defended at all costs, which is why so many College Republicans have volunteered to go to Iraq. Oh wait...

I think I'll have to make this a series of sorts, since I'm not going through all 25 in one sitting. Besides, I like to leave my reader(s) wanting more...