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.