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Delusion Is Not A Political Strategy

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The pioneer of blogging has an excellent post today on Brokeback Mountain — mainly the undeserved hype that it gets. Mickey Kaus, a writer for Slate.com, analyzes the box office receipts of the movie and the misinformation that’s used for political gain.

Essentially, Hollywood would like you to believe that it’s a breakout hit, transcending political and social boundaries and finding a massive audience across demographics. In reality it’s an art flick with the media behind it, a fact that really doesn’t change its appeal. Like most of these films, it’s not changing minds or revolutionizing opinion, but simply preaching to the choir.

  • Keep in mind that “The Passion of the Christ” was roughly six times larger in gross receipts but it didn’t get near this kind of positive coverage.

Kaus manages to do a superb job of taking the facts — the isolated data — and applying it to the larger picture. ‘Brokeback Mountain doesn’t deserve all the hype’ is a theme conservatives have been hammering at since its release. What they forgot to address, however, was the larger politically relevant issue.

But this B.S. falls into a special category: the sort of gratifying myth that in the past has helped lull liberals (and gay rights activists who may or may not be liberals) into wild overconfidence. Remember when Democrats actually believed that Fahrenheit would help push Bush out of office? It didn’t work out that way. Moore’s film didn’t change many minds in part because, as York puts it, it “never reached audiences that had the power to defeat the president at the polls.”

A movie that was shoved down the public’s throat at every awards show, newspaper, and magazine isn’t going to change minds. It’s going to appeal to the people it was aimed at and alienate everyone else. Instead of realizing this, or being grateful for the initial acceptance the movie garnered, liberals are out proclaiming the century’s greatest achievement. Two gay cowboys in a moderately successful movie aren’t going to unravel 150 years of collective idealization and legend. Gay’s are going to progress rapidly forward because the Sundance film festival had a critical orgasm at their expense.

In fact, this works to the conservative advantage. Just like Newsome’s dictatorial move to radically alter marriage ended up hurting the cause, an over hyped movie is just going to turn people off. No one likes to be told what the greatest movie ever is; they want to find it for themselves. With liberals out there attempting to tarnish the sacred image of the American west, people are going to fondly remember the old days. For all the talk of progress and change, in reality, the opposite is going to occur. Enthusiasm is fine, but saturation is annoying.

Much of Democratic politics seems to now consist of embracing and fanning similarly comforting, but ultimately deceptive, liberal memes. Enron has fatally damaged Bush, Abu Ghraib has fatally damaged Bush, Katrina has fatally damaged Bush, Abramoff has fatally damaged Bush, the Plame investigation will fatally damage Bush — you can catch the latest allegedly devastating issue every day on Huffington Post or Daily Kos (and frequently in the NYT). If you believe the hype you’ll believe that Democrats don’t need to change to win. They just need to push all these hot memes forcefully.

Again, reality is not always comforting; it’s just as disheartening for conservatives as it is for liberals. Public opinion polls are relevant for this reason, they show that a significant portion of society accepts abortion rights and gun control and that people value morals and the institution of marriage–issues that are discouraging to Republicans and Democrats respectively. In the end, you cannot simply ignore these facts to fuel your idealism. You cannot twist the data from a movie’s returns to justify the furthering of homosexual agenda, lest you wish to fail.

The author is exactly right; liberals are delusional if they buy into the hype that they created. If you want to exaggerate the successes of Brokeback Mountain, so be it, but you’re an idiot to use it to justify political endeavors. Control of the media is powerful, no doubt, but it’s not the end all be all. Just because the networks covered Abu-Ghraib endlessly and exploited the hurricane doesn’t mean everyone agreed with it. Anderson Cooper’s outrage doesn’t always translate into national outrage, and the blame game falls on many deaf ears.

Democratic failures often come from this: an overestimation of their own prowess. Too regularly they just assume they’ve got everyone on board, and proceed accordingly. This is a weakness that conservatives can take advantage of. As they push forward confidently, but wholly oblivious to true public opinion, elitists alienate the masses. They piss people off with their obsession with audience-less films and ignorance to overwhelmingly popular ones. When legislation is passed over the heads of the voters in contradiction to their demands, Democrats shoot themselves in the foot. That is the essence of the Brokeback debacle — crowds aren’t flocking to fill theatres or relating to its message but the media acts like it’s revolutionizing the consensus on homosexuality. Reality is starkly different, the movie isn’t changing minds; it’s masturbation to the left’s own moral superiority and self-righteousness.

Just as the left’s recent initiatives have failed due to their own delusional confidence and ignorance, this will too. The same political gravity that took down Bush — the lack of public support and political capital — will shock the optimism that this movie spurned. It’s not striking the nerve that the critics think it is, mainly because the target audience is far different than the average American. The resentment builds and conservatives thrive on it. For all Bush’s mistakes, the Republican Party will flourish due to Democratic arrogance. There is no need to fear our culture’s corruption because it’s a sham. This movie isn’t a smashing success; it’s a niche flick. So keep it up liberals, it will be your demise.

For more from Ryan Clark Holiday:
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About ChaunceyBillups

  • Charl

    Ehh.. Too much talking about this movie.

  • Dave Nalle

    It also doesn’t help when the word of mouth about the movie is so radically different from the hype. The hype has convinced a number of people I know who are generally liberal, pro-gay and open-minded to go see the movie, and every one of them has come back disappointed – not in the gay theme – but in the quality of the movie as a movie, which they describe as overly long and sort of pointless, plus Jake Gyllenhal (the actor himself, rather than the character) is just creepy.

    Dave

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    Thank you Dave :)

  • RogerMDillon

    “Delusion Is Not A Political Strategy”

    It’s worked well for Karl Rove

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    Whatever you have to tell yourself.

    I don’t think I could have asked for a better comment, you’re so perfectly cliche. The author speaks directly to you in the article.

    ————-
    …comforting, but ultimately deceptive, liberal memes. Enron has fatally damaged Bush, Abu Ghraib has fatally damaged Bush, Katrina has fatally damaged Bush, Abramoff has fatally damaged Bush, the Plame investigation will fatally damage Bush…
    ————-

    Keep telling yourself that you’re making progress and changing minds, but it’s not going to alter reality.

  • Dave Nalle

    Well put, Ryan. They just don’t understand that tone matters as much as content, and the endless stridency, braggadocio and pure arrogance pisses off even people who agree with them on the substance of their positions.

    Dave

  • Bing

    C’mon you guys are being a little tough on these hollywood stars. I mean even though most of them only attained a high school education and don’t have the slightest idea of what constitutes the needs and wants of the average American they are still famous and therefore better than everyone else.

    Is it just me or would Sean Penn make a kick ass Secretary of defense?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Well, he does own a gun, Bing.

    Dave

  • Ass Buster

    You people are so full of crap it’s coming out of your mouths.

  • Bing

    That was deeply profound and nsightful Ass Buster.

  • RogerMDillon

    Way to take a joke, but you can’t expect to be taken seriously when you write such a poor, misinformed article.

    In your second paragraph, you illustrate that you have no idea what you are talking about. “Essentially, Hollywood would like you to believe that it’s a breakout hit”.

    First off, it’s not Hollywood, but the studio that released it that wants you to think it’s a breakout hit. Unless someone has money invested in it, no one else cares because they are the competition. It’s called show business, emphasis on the latter.

    Second, if you have ever picked up a Variety or Hollywood Reporter or even an LA Times, you would know that everyone in Hollywood wants you to think their movie is a breakout hit. They all trumpet their successes in the trades and in commercials to get others to come see their film. It’s called advertsing. Are you just now realizing commercials don’t always tell the truth? None of this is unique to Brokeback.

    “Keep in mind that ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was roughly six times larger in gross receipts but it didn’t get near this kind of positive coverage.”

    Your bullet point is meaningless because you are only bringing up one side of the equation. You can’t only compare gross receipts because that doesn’t take into account the budgets of the film. If the numbers reported online are accurate, then Passion’s budget was roughly four times that of Brokeback.

    In regards to coverage, both films were mixed. O’Reilly and others were positive about Passion. As a whole, Brokeback is a better film because Passion doesn’t do a good job of telling the story; however, I’m sure some had more profound experiences at the latter.

    “Like most of these films, it’s not changing minds or revolutionizing opinion, but simply preaching to the choir.”

    So you are telling me not one person thought differently after seeing this film. Got any proof?

    “‘Brokeback Mountain doesn’t deserve all the hype’ is a theme conservatives have been hammering at since its release.”

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but the film is critically acclaimed whether you like it or not and it’s the conservatives who are the ones talking so much about it, which generates hype.

    “liberals are out proclaiming the century’s greatest achievement.”

    Can you provide at least one example of this? It’s not even the best film from last year.

    “an over hyped movie is just going to turn people off.”

    Tell that George Lucas as he takes his Sith millions to the bank because he proved your theory wrong. And over-hyped needs a hyphen.

    “the sacred image of the American west, people are going to fondly remember the old days.”

    And what is that? Unsupported hyperbolic declarations are hollow words. Also, I don’t think Indians and Mexicans are going to fondly remember them.

    “This movie isn’t a smashing success; it’s a niche flick.”

    So far, it’s made 10 times its budget and that’s just in North American box office. I know plenty of prodcuers and investors who would take that return on their money. How much does it need to make for a novice like you to think its a smashing success. And what movies are smashing successes?

    “You cannot twist the data from a movie’s returns to justify the furthering of homosexual agenda, lest you wish to fail.”

    Who did this? I don’t want to hear that someone else told you that’s what people are saying. Show me who said this. Do you have quotes from a politician or leader on the left making any of the claims you say?

    “It’s not striking the nerve that the critics think it is”

    What nerve and what critics? Do you provide an example for anything you write? It’s easy to tear apart an arguement no one made.

    “I don’t think I could have asked for a better comment, you’re so perfectly cliche.”

    Well, no one knows cliche like you. Your article is filled with them. The author doesn’t speak to me because I never embraced any of those points.

    “Keep telling yourself that you’re making progress and changing minds, but it’s not going to alter reality.”

    I’m not a Democrat and I’m not in the business of changing minds, so keep blathering on as if your opinion matters, but it’s not going to alter reality.

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    If my opinion didn’t matter you wouldn’t have taken the time to attempt disecting it point by point.

    I’ll get to responding later tonight.

  • RogerMDillon

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Your opinion doesn’t matter, which I illustrated by easily dissecting it.

  • JR

    Likewise, naming innumerable landmarks after Ronald Reagan (i.e. forcing him down the public’s throat) just emphasizes what a jackass he was, right?