Conservative vs. Conservative
0 comment Friday, August 8, 2014 |
Here, at OneSTDV, there is a discussion of anti-PC humor and frat-boy 'conservatives'.
The subject was the antics of frat boys at Yale, and the larger subject of South Park 'conservatives' and edgy humor. OneSTDV reflects on why he finds this kind of thing disagreeable.
"Perhaps, it's the desperate attempt at social acceptance that I find sad and the "look at me, I'm so edgy" posturing associated with the content. Again, there's just something shallow and unnecessarily crass about such humor."
A companion piece, in a strange way, is this one, which takes an opposing tack, and lauds crude, ''edgy'' pop culture and disparages those who don't choose to partake of it, mainly Christians.
''Witness a site like Plugged-In Online, a kind of encyclopedic collection of reviews of recent movies, TV shows, and music albums -- all of which are critiqued from an ostensibly Christian perspective. I say "ostensibly" not because I doubt the sincere religious convictions of the site's writers, but because their collective aesthetic notions leave much to be desired. Indeed, their habitual tendency is to equate sanitization with sanctification and G-rated-ness with holiness.''
I've read many of the Christian movie review sites, and if anything, they are quite liberal, finding certain levels of obscene language to be acceptable and a certain amount of illicit sex to be no problem ''in context.''
And I wonder what the writer's definition of ''holiness'' is if 'g-rated' is not to be equated with it. Is there such a thing as X-Rated holiness? Or PG-13 holiness?
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary gives a secular definition of holiness, but to a Christian, holy means simply separated. That was the meaning in the original Biblical languages.
The term "holy" is often understood in its contemporary usage rather than its true meaning in the Scriptures. For this reason, our study must begin by reviewing several dimensions of the definition of holiness.
(1) To be holy is to be distinct, separate, in a class by oneself. As Sproul puts it:
The primary meaning of holy is 'separate.� It comes from an ancient word that meant, 'to cut,� or 'to separate.�
Being holy, to a Christian who understands the word, has nothing to do with being a goody-two-shoes, halo-wearing ''saint''. Holiness means being apart from the world and the world system. I suppose this in itself is offensive to the nonbeliever, but considering how thoroughly most nonbelievers dislike Christians, they should be pleased that the real serious Christians separate themselves.
The world likes violent, dark, crude entertainment, but the Christian keeps those things at arms' length. The writer of the article should take heart, though, from the fact that fewer and fewer Christians seem to aspire to holy living. Right now, the fashion among the postmodern Christians is to adopt the world's fashions and fads, and that includes all the raw, crude popular culture.
Holiness is going out of style among Christians. It's so pre-modern.
I'm reminded once again of C.S. Lewis' observation about how each age warns against the very things which are no threat to the prevailing culture: in a libertine culture, people warn against 'puritanism'; in an age which is irreligious, we hear constant cries about how ''right-wing Christians'' are trying to establish a theocracy in our midst. As our borders are obliterated and our country overrun with aliens, legal and illegal, we hear how much ''xenophobia'' and ''nativism'' there is. In an age in which the Minority is king, we hear about ''racism''. In an age where all manner of perversions are out in the open, we hear about how ''intolerance'' is killing us. We have banished the idea of sin, and make excuses for all kinds of bad behavior, but yet we are warned against being ''too judgmental.''
The blog piece continues:
''Thus, to use a Biblical metaphor, is the wheat commonly thrown out with the chaff. Smutty, exploitative, irresponsible, and immoral junk gets lustily condemned, of course, but so does fare that, while irreverent and "adult," is actually in many ways sympathetic to traditionalism, or at the very least gives the ever-looming Zeitgeist a good, square kick in the crotch. Comedies like Juno and Knocked Up, both of which contain a scandalously pro-life message, are dismissed out of hand due to their nonstop racy and vulgar dialogue. The 40-Year Old Virgin, which, if you pay attention, actually promotes abstinence before marriage, also gets greeted with prissy exhalations of exasperation and contempt for its raucous and ribald content. Fight Club, a profound meditation on the spiritual emasculation of the modern male in a world bereft of belief or hope, is simplistically condemned for promoting violent nihilism. And on it goes...''
Again, I have to ask: if these movies contain such effective messages for ''traditionalism'', why are these loud messages not reaching the drifting nihilistic masses out there, who need to hear them? It seems to me that most people, even the secular intellectuals, must be missing the messages, their attention being focused on the 'racy and vulgar dialogue' and 'raucous and ribald content.' That stuff does have a way of distracting from higher thought and deeper meanings.
''No one would ever claim that the representative sample of movies discussed above were "family-friendly." Still, a conservative critic with even a scrap of subtlety of mind and aesthetic discernment can see that, even if they fall short in certain crucial ways, there is, indeed, much to appreciate in these films. But the good, churchgoin', God-fearin' Plugged-In folks seem almost willfully clueless to such a possibility, smarmily set as they are on maintaining their lofty perch of sanctimonious disapproval.''
Why, I wonder, is the writer so bothered by these ''churchgoin' God-fearin'' folks and their opinions, or their 'sanctimonious disapproval'? When the people I dislike reject my opinions, it is reassuring for me, actually. Why court the approval of people one looks down on, and holds in obvious contempt?
''But even more irritating than the proclivity to reflexively dismiss and sniff at every non-Veggie Tales movie ever made, is the way the Plugged-In-style critic tends to react when challenged.''
Nonbelievers tend to react in an irritating way to their critics, also, and to dismiss and 'sniff' at anything wholesome or non-lewd. This is mystifying. Besides, the Plugged-In type sites are directed at believers; nonbelievers have no need or desire to seek them out. The nonbelieving world will do what it always does, and Christians are to separate.
The Christian's only objection is that this entertainment cannot be avoided; it is everywhere. Billboards, TV promos, radio spots, everywhere we go we see lurid or disturbing images and hear dialogue quoted from these movies. We can't avoid it. It is compulsory in a way, just like all the leftist propaganda in pop culture.
''What about all of those shocking stories from the Bible itself? Adam and Eve are naked without shame, Cain murders Abel, Lot has sex with his daughters during a drunken cave orgy, Onan spills his seed on the ground, David commits adultery with Beersheba and sends Uriah to his death, and the Isrealities wipe out just about everyone in sight over and over again... and all of that's just in the Old Testament! Yet the Bible is a holy book -- THE holy book. If it, Dante, Shakespeare, Sophocles, Homer, Milton, Poe, Joyce, O'Connor, and all the other faithful recorders of human vice, folly, perversity and corruption throughout the ages are allowed to tread in such waters, then why do you immediately look upon movies of recent years with suspicion and consternation if they deal with challenging material?"
This is so frequently brought up by the atheist or secular critic of Christianity: the charge that the Bible itself is lewd and obscene. If so, then most newspapers or history books are obscene when they describe immoral acts. The fact is, there is a world of difference between the Bible's treatment of the stories alluded to above and a secular source. The Bible describes these things bluntly and matter-of-factly, and invariably shows the bad consequences that follow sin. Everybody suffers by it. There is a moral, whereas in popular culture sin does not always bring ruin, far from it. It is glamorized.
I think most people on the right acknowledge that popular culture generally, as well as ''high culture'' are profoundly subversive of traditional ways and morals.
(Note: Beersheba, in the quote, presumably refers to Bathsheba.)
''To this, the self-satisfied Christian critic of the Plugged-In variety smiles blandly. "You're comparing Shakespeare to Pulp Fiction? I'm sorry... that just doesn't work!" While declaiming any qualitative equivalency between the Bard and Tarantino, you reply, why can't this question be asked? To this, he scoffs at first, taking the answer to be self-evident, but when you persist, he stammers that Shakespeare and everyone else who wrote a long time ago always wrote with a moral framework in mind, while contemporary writers are in almost all cases just scurrilous schlock-meisters whose only agenda is to mock all things decent. Suggest that your interlocutor is painting with the broadest of brushes and, moreover, speaking from pure ignorance, and you'll again be favored with a patronizing smirk, much like Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" character once fixed upon his guest before snarkily observing, "Well... we have our little opinions, don't we?"
Nice straw-man (or straw-woman) construction there. Talk about broad brushes. The Christian is always reduced to a caricature in these kinds of pieces.
''In the coming years of struggle, hopefully more true cultural conservatives, be they of Christian affiliation or not, will plug out of the "Plugged In" mentality, and will begin to entertain more independent and adventuresome aesthetic principles. Whatever your faith, it's not a sin to be provocative; indeed, extreme times call for extreme art. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling pictures''
But who is being shouted at, and what are they saying? Is this shouting directed at the prissy stereotyped ''conservative Christians?" If so, what is the message -- that they need to get with the times? Christians do not need the conservative message; the ones who do are the very ones who eat up the 'provocative' entertainment and ask for more. Obviously they are not getting any kind of ''conservative'' or ''traditionalist'' message. I would venture to guess that all this ''edgy'' entertainment is consumed in large quantities by a predominantly liberal/leftist/libertarian audience, which would include most young people today. Why are they not getting any ''conservative'' message from these movies which 'shout' conservative messages? Perhaps they are deaf in a moral and intellectual sense.
If the aim is to destroy what vestiges of traditional Christian morality there are, then in what sense is this goal conservative or traditional? I don't see what is conservative about trashing middle America (which is grounded in old Christian morality, for most people) and established ethical precepts.
Many Christians, by the way, were once secular people who were steeped in the 'adventuresome and independent'' attitudes, but we left that behind. Nobody forced us to; it's just what happens naturally when you become a Christian. Not all of us have lived sheltered lives or shunned the world from birth onward. Not all Christians came from Christian homes, not by a long shot. So Christians have the advantage, in some cases, of having tasted the world, lived in it, wallowed in it and all its temptations, and yet walked happily away from it. Many nonbelievers only know life from a nonbelieving perspective.
And where does this profound division, this rift which is widening into a chasm, come from? It is all part and parcel of the counterculture and its conquest of American society which culminated in the 1960s and 70s. To return to the subject of 'South Park conservatives', they are nothing more nor less than a product of the 1960s. No such group or such mindset could exist, had not the (anti)ideals of the 60s prevailed.
The sixties generation, strangely, is abhorred by many on the 'new right', the secular right. I say this is strange not because the counterculture crowd is not abhorrent but because the secular ''frat boy'' right, the South Park conservatives et al, are the direct descendants of the sixties counterculture. The vulgar bathroom humor, the disrespect for everything staid and wholesome, the rebelling against previous generations, the refusal to grow up and be adults, the foul language, it's all derived from the ''free speech, free love'' mores of the counterculture. I find it odd that many of those on the right who say, as one blog commenter said somewhere, that ''I'll be glad when the baby-boomers all die off'' are the people who most emulate the baby-boom generation in their libertine, vulgar proclivities. They really should thank the baby-boom generation for making the popular culture which they embrace so fiercely. It's all of a piece with today's popular culture.
Had the counterculture never existed, or not succeeded, we would have a much more traditional culture today, and we would not be strangers to, or hostile toward, the culture and heritage from which we come. And we would not be so divided, one generation against each other, and nonbeliever against Christian.
The 'frat boy conservatives' with their outrageous pranks are the true heirs of the 60s, though I think that the 60s rebels believed that they were making some kind of statement against what they viewed as their parents' failed society. At some point, as the 'counterculture' became lionized by adults who should have known better, it became a kind of self-reinforcing conformism. One had to be leftwing, foul-mouthed, sexually libertine, and ''irreverent'' in order to be part of the in-crowd. Those who did not join in were ridiculed as squares, uptight, not ''with-it.'
The same thing happens now. The South Park conservative compartmentalizes his 'conservatism', puts it away out of sight, except when fiscal or small-government issues are at stake. In all other respects, he is a libertarian or liberal.
I know there are those on the right who think that social conservatives, especially Christians, drive people away from ''our side''. If only we were more hip, trendy, more in step with the times and all the pop culture fashions, then we could attract droves of people to our side. This is wishful thinking.
The thing is, social conservatives make the social liberals uncomfortable. We cramp their style, even if we refrain from saying anything to upset them. Even if we are as bland and inoffensive as Ned Flanders, to use a rather stale TV reference, we alienate some people, and that's to be expected. The other side of the coin is that the hardcore nonbelievers alienate the believers, and there are more believers out there than some people admit. It seems we need to go our separate ways, but the catch is that we are so few; we need unity or else we have no chance. We are stuck with each other as it stands now, which makes me as unhappy as it makes the other side.

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