June 11, 2008

A political dialogue.

From the Woody Allen movie "Melinda and Melinda." Hobie (Will Ferrell) is nervous about having a relationship with a woman he knows is a conservative:
Hobie: I think it'd be only fair to tell you. I'm a liberal.

Stacey: Oh. Are you talking politically, or in the bedroom?

Hobie: I was talking politically. In the bedroom, I'm a left-wing liberal.

Stacey: In the bedroom, I'm a radical.

Hobie: Look, can I level with you? In the last few months of my marriage, I really didn't sleep with my wife. We weren't sleeping at all. I'm a little out of practice. So, you know, I'm a little out of practice. Politically speaking, I'm ready for a little affirmative action.

Stacey: What do you say we blow this joint and go back to your place?

Hobie: My place? Yes, by all means. It would be great. So you're not going to hold the fact that we have conflicting viewpoints on the direction America should take against me? I mean, I'd hate to get all worked up and find we differ on tax cuts.

67 comments:

Jake said...

What this scene is all about is that Republican women are a lot more sexy than Democrat women.

Even Woody Allen admits that.

Joan said...

The problem with Woody Allen films is that I know he wrote the male lead part for himself. Even knowing this scene actually features Will Ferrell, an actor I enjoy watching because of his ability to make a complete ass of himself without even a trace of self-consciousness, I'm still hearing the lines delivered by Woody Allen, with the distinctive phrasing and perpetual whiny undertone. Ick.

As for the substance here, sex is one thing, relationships are another. Who talks about politics so early in a relationship, unless you're one of those wingnut types (on either side of the spectrum) that thinks politics is more important than real life? Ick, again. Was Hobie's liberalism the reason that he and his wife split up? If so, some priorities may need re-examining. Maybe that's the point of the movie? I don't care enough to find out.

Ann Althouse said...

There's nothing political in the rest of the movie. Politics is just something to be nervous about here. I think it's very funny because it makes it so clear that it's a pointless barrier between 2 people who are attracted to each other. Disagreeing about the "direction for America" and "taxes" is a hilarious reason not to have sex.

Simon said...

I'm not familiar with the movie, so I'm not familiar with the characters' situations, but I'd think that while serious political disagreement might make serious relationship somewhat fraught, if anything, it would only make more interesting something that is, to be diplomatic, intended for a shorter span.

Paul Snively said...

I dunno. I've always wondered how James Carville and Mary Matalin pull it off. Were I either of them, I don't believe that I could.

Chip Ahoy said...

I see this as a deeply seriously debilitating problem with no apparent immediate remedy. I'm saddened beyond grief and find no humor whatever. Were I to elaborate my disconsolate thinky thoughts on this subject it'd out-bummer Allen and not at all be useful. The judge story in the other thread, however, is knee-slappingly hilarious. The judge says his kid uploaded them to a family owned site, hanging out to dry his own kid. The brat. Women painted as cows. A teenager doing that. Har ha ha ha har har OMG, here I go again ... Ninth circuit. Crivens! That's teh funneh! Ha ha har ... no guessing the party, there. Har ha ha har har.

michael farris said...

"I dunno. I've always wondered how James Carville and Mary Matalin pull it off"

I _really_ hope 'pulling it off' isn't a new euphamism and could have lived without the possible mental images.

Anyway, just ask yourself "Who else would have either of them?"
I bet their own realistic answers to that go a long way to explaining the durability of the relationship.

George said...

I love Annie Hall...

"I've been trying to do to my girlfriend what Eisenhower has been doing to the nation for eight years."

"Commentary and Dissent magazines have merged to form Dysentery."

Michael_H said...

Woody Allen may be amusing, but I stopped watching his films when he began dating, and later married, his step-daughter.

Pogo said...

My god that man can be funny. Coming from anyone else, this would be hilarious. From him? Now?

In an instant, everything can be undone, a reputation permanently altered. All actions, present and past, viewed through that lens. It intrudes on every conversation, as here. And why not?

Something Judge Kozinski is soon to discover. (See also O.J. Simpson, Roman Polanski, Pee Wee Herman, Bob Crane, Don Imus, Gary Hart, Michael Richards, Ted Kennedy, Britney Spears, Dixie Chicks, Michael Jackson, la la la la.)

I cannot look at Allen's work now in any other way. My problem, I know; I do not demand others so decide.

Trevor Jackson said...

I'll top this with the finale of "The Producers" season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David has been trying to have sex with his costar through the whole season and when he finally gets the chance, a framed photograph of Bush in the woman's dressing room puts him off the whole enterprise. Priceless.

Kirby Olson said...

I really enjoyed this film. This part was very funny, too. It's kind of confusing what he finally means because the plot is a plot within a plot, and it's various writers sitting around thinking about whether life is funny or tragic, and they keep redoing the scenes.

There are very few Hollywood Republicans: Jon Voight, the wife in Everybody Loves Raymond (a comedy I can't stand except for her), and very few others.

I imagine there are a few more but you have to keep it hidden in Hollywood or else you'll be blacklisted.

Trevor Jackson said...

"you have to keep it hidden in Hollywood or else you'll be blacklisted."

Is Adam Sandler blacklisted? Bruce Willis? Was Arnold Schwarzenegger? Kelsey Grammar? Angie Harmon? Sylvester Stallone? The producer of "24"?

Are there fewer conservative artists than liberals? Sure. But why do you think that is? I'd argue it's not that there's some closeted mass of actors just dying to be able to express how much they hate welfare or taxes. There's likely a good number that bite have to bite their tongues, but I'd argue that most artists just favor liberal policies. The principles that underlie the tendency are make them good artists.

Trevor Jackson said...

"that bite have to bite their tongues"

Excuse me. I meant to say, "that feel like they have to bite their tongues." There's no blacklist against conservatives.

Pogo said...

I'd argue that most artists just favor liberal policies. The principles that underlie the tendency are make them good artists.
Why would you argue that?

One could equally well find that the preponderance of liberals in the arts in the US and Europe is merely a social construct, driven mainly by going along with what is popular in order to get ahead.

Or re-read David Mamet's Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'. Maybe liberal thinking among artists is just the political life remaining unexamined, having accepted the prevailing view uncritically.

Trevor Jackson said...

I'm going to paint in broad strokes here, but I'm going to stake out one side of an argument I still haven't entirely resolved for myself:

Good art takes empathy, to view the world outside yourself or from another person's perspective. Conservatism (as it's generally practiced) tends to favor self-interest and disdains complicated views of human nature. "They" see the world in black and white, good and evil, "with us or against us." Successful art eschews the simplistic view and try to present nuance: what Faulkner called "the human heart in conflict with itself." This takes, as I said, compassion and empathy and a willingness to see your own failings. Not something I see in most conservative platforms.

Conservative art is usually less complicated and tidier. And thus less rich or successful.

Pogo said...

Conservatism tends to favor self-interest and disdains complicated views of human nature.
Liberals, you contend, have more nuance: compassion, empathy, and a willingness to see your own failings.

That is, "we're better people, more intelligent, more moral. You're selfish and thick."

Interesting, although merely a self-congratulatory and woefully circular definition.
How do you explain T.S. Eliot?
Aberration?

How do you explain the fact that capitalism is the only mechanism created by modern man that has successfully extricated the masses from poverty?

How do you explain the adoration of fascism by artists in the first third of the 20th century, only rejecting it after that jewish thingy?

Since bohemian socialism among artists is an entirely modern construct, your definition can only account for the past 100 years, if that.

Pogo said...

Conservatism tends to favor self-interest and disdains complicated views of human nature.

Conservatism tends to recognize that people are not saints, and cannot become them. Self-interest always and forever remains operative, whether people acknowledge it or not, and despite the best intentions or any amount of rules and regulations.

It's not a preference, any more than recognizing that gravity is real "favors" gravity.

Conservatism disdains false views of human nature, especially those that posit perfectability, preferring what Thomas Sowell has termed the "tragic vision".

Trevor Jackson said...

"your definition can only account for the past 100 years"

As I said, I'm painting in broad strokes with today's defined differences. To try and use definitions for liberal or conservative that were older would be meaningless. It's like pointing to Lincoln as the face of today's Republican party.

You say: "That is, "'we're better people, more intelligent, more moral. You're selfish and thick.'"

You're proving my point, Pogo. That is a gross oversimplification of what I'm saying. I'm saying questions of better or worse, more moral or less moral, are exactly the questions good art grapples with but avoids answering. Conservative art wants and provides answers, which is always dishonest and unsatisfactory.

"How do you explain T.S. Eliot?"

A genius poet with some views which now are anachronistic and inexcusable.

"How do you explain the fact that capitalism is the only mechanism created by modern man that has successfully extricated the masses from poverty?"

Where have I denounced capitalism? Or for that matter, where have the majority of American liberals? The belief that liberals or Democrats want to establish some Soviet-style state is as ridiculous to me as equations of Bush with Hitler.

"How do you explain the adoration of fascism by artists in the first third of the 20th century, only rejecting it after that jewish thingy?"

See T.S. Eliot response. Look, I'm using divisions between liberalism and conservatism as they're practiced today.

Trevor Jackson said...

"Conservatism tends to recognize that people are not saints, and cannot become them."

But it also believes that some people are demons and must destroy them. Liberals believe in the power of rehabilitation for those that want to be saved. Those that don't? That requires a different and regrettable response.

William said...

Artists are an unstable mixture of egoism and idealism. Artists tend to favor ideal forms; hence their admiration of Fascism and Communism. Bourgeoise democratic capitalism is as untidy as a wisteria plant. Artists rarely respect its anarchic flowerings. They prefer the harmonic order of an ideal state. If Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hoxha, Castro have failed, it is very sad but no excuse to give up trying to find that picture perfect state ....As a general rule the worth of an artist is inversely proportional to his insights as a political being. Ronald Reagan was nothing special as an actor whereas Sean Penn is just terrific. The very banality that limited Reagan as an actor made him effective as a politician. The intensity of Penn's pronouncements about politics rob them of credibility. No one would claim that Jame Michener was one of the great writers of the 20th Century, but the common sense decency that informed his works made him more useful to democracy than more celebrated writers such as Brecht or Sartre. Beauty is fine on a canvas or in a sonnet; it is not applicable to politics or making money.

Trevor Jackson said...

William, thanks for that distincition. Liberal artists make good art, but usually make horrible politicians.

Pogo said...

Liberals believe in the power of rehabilitation for those that want to be saved. Those that don't? That requires a different and regrettable response.

Tom Wolfe (another conservative artist, somehow) spoke of this "radical chic" view of liberals.

Norman Mailer wrote The Executioner's Song about Gary Gilmore, who in 1977 became the first person executed in the US since the reinstitution of the death penalty, mostly because Gilmore demanded to be executed for his two murders.

One of Gilmore's prison mates, Jack Henry Abbott, heard of Mailer's new book, and began to write to the author. Soon, the world-famous author championed the convicted-killer as a writer. He further lobbied for his parole.

He felt Abbott's talents were of such importance, that "[c]ulture is worth a little risk", adding "If he gets out, we may yet have a new writer of the largest stature among us, for he has forged himself in a cauldron and still has half the world to discover."

Abbott published In the Belly of the Beast with Mailer's help. He intervened with the Utah parole board, securing Abbott's release in April 1981.

Abbott soon became the toast of New York's elite literary circle. He appeared on the Today show and was interviewed by Rolling Stone. His story was in People magazine.

July 18, 1981, just six weeks after his parole, Abbott knifed a 22 year old waiter in the heart because he told Abbott the bathrooms in the restaurant were not for customers. The young aspiring actor died as Abbott ran away.

Mailer was one of the left's best and brightest.
And stupid as shit in matters of "rehabilitation". Why should I believe any other liberal knows any better than he did?

Pogo said...

Conservative art wants and provides answers, which is always dishonest and unsatisfactory.

Always?
This is nothing more self-serving bullshit.

Give me an example of consertive art, first of all.

Next, give me an example of conservative art that wants and provides answers, whatever the hell that means in regard to a piece of art.

Trevor Jackson said...

I'm not saying recidivism doesn't exist. Far from it. The capacity for evil, as you've just demonstrated anecdotally, never goes away. But saying that one-time criminals still commit crime and thus negates the possibility for rehabilitation is just more black-or-white thinking.

Trevor Jackson said...

"Next, give me an example of conservative art that wants and provides answers, whatever the hell that means in regard to a piece of art."

Pick your poison: tons of westerns and action films, Rambo/Rocky films, Red Dawn, "24." Anything that paints an enemy in broad stereotypes I would consider "conservative."

Pogo said...

and thus negates the possibility for rehabilitation
And I am not suggesting rehabilitation is impossible. That is an example of your own black and white thinking.

I am arguing instead that the left not only believes in rehabilitation, it believes it knows who can be rehabilitated. Yet even the smartest lefty that ever was (just ask him) couldn't tell when the expression of desire "to be saved" was a lie or the truth.

But they certainly want it to be true.

And the downside of the belief was disastrous (see NYC, 1970s, or "Free Mumia", etc. etc.).

Trooper York said...

Despite the fact that he was gay, Bullwinkle was a died in the antlers conservative. He so instrumental in the election of 1912 that they named a new political party after him. He was great friends with Theodore Roosevelt after they had met in Montana and Bullwinkle served as assistant secretary of the interior. However after an unfortunate incident in the men’s room with Elihu Root, Bullwinkle was forced to resign in disgrace. He then entered show business.
(Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The E True Hollywood Story)

Trevor Jackson said...

"it believes it knows who can be rehabilitated."

Isn't it better to believe that anyone could be rehabilitated than assume that some can't? Who gets to decide who isn't worth the effort?

An artist who creates a character incapable of rehabilitation is a cartoonist, even if such people actually exist.

Trooper, I guess Bullwinkle did have some things up his sleeve.

Trooper York said...

Bullwinkle had entered into a long monogamous homosexual relationship with Deputy Dog as they shared an apartment in the Hollywood Hills as “roommates.” What was most interesting about this was the fact that despite the fact that Deputy Dog was in law enforcement, he was a “flaming” liberal who was very adamant in his leftist opinions. The Dog joined a communist cell that operated in the cartoon community during the thirties and was a long term activist in left wing causes. Bullwinkle hated his politics but he loved the hot raunchy make up sex after a long night of political argument. And the Deputy truly loved the moose cock.
(Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The E True Hollywood Story)

Pogo said...

Isn't it better to believe that anyone could be rehabilitated than assume that some can't?
Better for whom?
Certainly not the 22 year old waiter.

Who gets to decide who isn't worth the effort?
More of your black and white thinking. Indeed, it is a complex task. Science offers some answers, but it is wise to remember that character is destiny, and past is prologue.

Serial rapists are not rehabilitatable. Neither are pedophiles or serial murderers. But any answer is a guess. The conservative is cautious, recognizing the human propensity to sin. You do the best you can with the information you have, erring always on the side of safety for the community over against the protestations of future innocence by criminals, for they are always crying innocent.

So back to your initial post:
I'd argue that most artists just favor liberal policies. The principles that underlie the tendency are make them good artists.
The first statement is true of present-day America.
The second is not supported by anything you've written yet.

Some of the most beautiful calligraphy in the world was produced for the Quran, quite possibly the most narrow and illiberal text ever conceived.

The principles that underlie creativity have nothing whatsoever to do with politics, except when one's vision is limited to the last two decades.

Trevor Jackson said...

"Some of the most beautiful calligraphy in the world was produced for the Quran, quite possibly the most narrow and illiberal text ever conceived."

I said I was painting with a broad brush, so let me narrow things a bit just to literature and film: Support for conservative policies is rarely compatible with the ability to create believable human characters.

"The principles that underlie creativity have nothing whatsoever to do with politics, except when one's vision is limited to the last two decades."

I'm not talking about creativity. We all have that impulse. I'm talking about quality. In a sense I'm not really even talking about politics, but a view of humanity as the first position that then leads a successful artist to also support liberal programs because they espouse ideas like equality, compassion, and empathy, which are the wise artist's treasured tools.

A good writer sees the complexity in people and knows that if he or she is to accurately reproduce that complexity he or she must surrender a desire to create characters that fit neatly into categories. Whereas someone with a narrow view of people as wholly good or wholly evil will a) produce flat and uninteresting characters and b) also likely support and believe those stereotypes exist in the real world, which conservative politicians need to broadcast.

To be sure, you can support liberal policies and still see the world in overly simplistic ways. Republicans = evil, socialism = ideal, etc. But, an artist who does so will create bad art.

In short: Artists who are liberal can create bad art, but no one can wholly support a conservative world view and create good art.

I'd also add that any art that begins with a preconceived message that they want the art to bear, will also fail. Right or left.

Pogo said...

Support for conservative policies is rarely compatible with the ability to create believable human characters."
Readers of C. S. Lewis, Tom Wolfe, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Robert A. Heinlein, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn might disagree.

...any art that begins with a preconceived message that they want the art to bear, will also fail. Right or left.
Absolutely!
From your lips to Ayn Rand's ear.
Ideologists are rarely good artists.

rhhardin said...

A good writer sees the complexity in people and knows that if he or she is to accurately reproduce that complexity he or she must surrender a desire to create characters that fit neatly into categories.

Is ``he or she'' ever disqualifying?

rhhardin said...

I like Woody Allen, but not so much as to see anything since What's New Tiger Lily.

And he took up the clarinet, which is an abominable instrument.

Trevor Jackson said...

"From your lips to Ayn Rand's ear."

Glad we agree on something.

"C. S. Lewis, Tom Wolfe, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Robert A. Heinlein, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn"

We've got to apply today's divisions:

Lewis would be called a socialist by today's conservatives.

Wolfe fell prey to puritanism and his fiction has suffered for it.

Based on what I've read of their fiction, I imagine Percy and O'Connor would vote for Obama.

Heinlein and Tolkein aren't really known for their human characters. Imagination? Yes, but they're fantasists.

Solzhenitsyn? Considered conservative? News to me. Anti-Soviet ain't anti-liberal.

Pogo said...

The fact that Solzhenitsyn is commonly quoted by conservatives, but isn't read or referred to by liberals at all suggests otherwise.

Based on what I've read of their fiction
Your opinion. Try Walker Percy's nonfiction.

Imagination? Yes, but they're fantasists.
Oh. A "genre" fetishist. Lots of qualifications in your definitions.

I'll contrast it by saying that it can well be argued that nothing of any worth has been written by a liberal artist in the last 30-40 years, suggesting liberals aren't all that creative.
A Reader's Manifesto

Pogo said...

Ack.
A Reader's Manifesto.

Trevor Jackson said...

"Oh. A 'genre' fetishist."

Not at all. I love S/F-fantasy and think it has great possibilities for reflecting the world we live in. I'm looking for accurate depictions of human characters. I don't see much of that in the Tolkein or Heinlein I've read. They build worlds and their characters are more pawns than players.

"it can well be argued that nothing of any worth has been written by a liberal artist in the last 30-40 years"

It may come down to taste. Perhaps a conservative sees complexity in art I find flat.

Is your link supposed to go to B. R. Myers' essay by that name? Wasn't he just looking for more plot and populism in literary fiction? I don't disagree but this is an issue separate from what we're discussing.

Trevor Jackson said...

Ah, yeah, Myers' essay. He's not arguing that the problem with literary fiction is the authors' views of humanity.

blake said...

O.J. Simpson, Roman Polanski, Pee Wee Herman, Bob Crane, Don Imus, Gary Hart, Michael Richards, Ted Kennedy, Britney Spears, Dixie Chicks, Michael Jackson,

Paul Reubens was on the tail end of his career arc, as was Michael Richards. Both of them faced similar conundrums: Where were they gonna go after creating their characters? Most likely, back where they came from: obscurity.

More importantly, while an instant can undo a career, it's usually much more than an instant. Simpson, Polanski and Spears (and Crane?) followed a long trail of drugs to get to where they ended up.

Imus seems to be doing okay, though.

Trooper York said...

"Imus seems to be doing okay, though"

That's because he's dead. He's just trying to beat Lenin record for the longest display of a corpse in public.

Pogo said...

I rather thought B. R. Myers's essay was simply showing that modern literature has become simply horrible crap.

One would presume that includes the complexity of the characters, which was your point. At least earlier it was.

blake said...

Trevor Jackson mentions success.

In the '60s, facing increasing competition from television, movie box office receipts dropped. Big spectacles were risky, and so movies were increasingly made on low budgets and were what you might today call "vanity projects".

Lotsa film critics adore this period.

The beginning of the end came in 1975 with Jaws, with 1977's Star Wars being the nail in the coffin. "Waitaminute!" studio execs cried, "We can make movies that people will actually go see? And more than once?"

And movies were ever thus changed--some film critics maintain that they were ruined.

Success-wise, "conservative" beats the tar out of "liberal" at the box office.

Even Trevor mentions Rocky, Rambo, Red Dawn, and other big hits. IMDB's all time USA Box Office list is not scaled for inflation, so it's deceptively weighted toward modern movies, but you won't find much in the way of moral ambiguity in the top 100. (Itself an interesting discussion: What are the morally ambiguous films on that list? Chicago at 130, I haven't seen, but from what I've heard is murky.)

While liberals apparently believe in the ideal human, they don't like movies about them, unless they're actively doing liberal stuff. If they're confronting evil in a non-approved way, the narrative is "simplistic".

blake said...

There is, by the way, most certainly a conservative blacklist in Hollywood, even if it's not written down.

The people Trevor mentions are established--well established--and are therefore largely (but not completely) immune to it. What you'll carefully note, however, is that their politics were not known until they'd reach a point of being strongly established.

For a grip or a second unit director or a wrangler, your career depends on the well wishes of those higher up on the food chain. In that kind of ambiguous environment, with competition as fierce as it is, you either conform or die.

Trevor Jackson said...

Myers' contention was that fiction had become too academic, an exercise in prose stylings meant to impress other writers of literary fiction.

"One would presume that includes the complexity of the characters, which was your point. At least earlier it was."

It still is. My contention is that it's easier to create complex characters if you have a view of people that seems to be shared by those who support liberal policies. I'd have to reread Myers' essay, but I'm pretty sure he's not arguing that the problem with fiction is that authors don't see the world in stark contrasts.

blake said...

I actually think it all just boils down to Soviet infiltration. They wanted to take over four areas of western society: education, arts, news and government.

Mission accomplished.

Trevor Jackson said...

Blake, when I say "success" I'm not talking box office receipts. I mean in terms of its reflection of reality, its "truth."

The lack of moral ambiguity in financially successful movies is no big surprise. Most people prefer to pay $10 to have fun, not to feel unsettled or to scratch their heads in the dark.

Trooper York said...

I rather pay $5 for pay for view on my plasma TV and sit on my recliner and scratch my balls. But hey that's just me.

Trooper York said...

By the way I am a conservative so I scratch my balls with my right hand, if that's ok.

Pogo said...

...I'm pretty sure he's not arguing that the problem with fiction is that authors don't see the world in stark contrasts.

Oh, you're still arguing that old trope. The idea that conservatism is a psychiatric disorder, involving fear, aggression, avoidance of uncertainty, intolerance of ambiguity, irrational nostalgia and need for authoritarian rule.

This idea was based on a bullshit "study" in the 1950s purporting to show the tie between authoritarian personality and political fascism.

It was created to assuage the leftists who failed to recognize that their fondness for fascism devolved into murder. So they had to blame someone, and thus that piece of shit analysis, which has stained the minds of liberals ever since.

That doesn't mean I have to buy what you're selling.

blake said...

By your own definition, then, the only art that could be successful is art that agrees with you.

Do you see that? You judge "success" by accuracy of reflection of truth (as do I, in one sense, though I'm willing to ignore a whole lot of liberal distortions if the technique is good), but we're talking about truth as you see it.

Worse, in many cases, if not yours specifically, we're talking about "truth" as one has been indoctrinated to believe in, not what one has observed. Hence, "Crazy stripper makes wild accusation" becomes "Four rich white men rape poor black woman."

blake said...

I should add that I, personally, find that period of cinema (late '50s to late '70s) unwatchable along a bell curve. Ugly to look at, ugly music, ugly themes and ugly characters.

At least the Expressionist knew art design and pioneered film technique.

blake said...

My contention is that it's easier to create complex characters if you have a view of people that seems to be shared by those who support liberal policies.

Yes. Complex characters like Karl "Sith Lord" Rove and Dick "Face Shooter" Cheney or the classic all-time Chimpy McBushitlerburton.

Heh.

My original response was too long so I blogged it.

Pogo said...

Mystic River was an example of the kind of morally ambiguous and complex characters championed by the left.

It was horrible. I hated every single person in the movie. Each character was an asshole, and by the end I was hoping somebody would kill them all.

If it makes me a conservative to hate movies about "complicated people" like that, well good. Mystic Pizza was at least worth the admission.

TitusEverythingsComingUpRoses said...

Trooper, you know that Bulwinkle had an affair with the Roadrunner.

It didn't work though because the moose hog almost split the roadrunner in half.

TitusEverythingsComingUpRoses said...

I love Woody Allen movies.

They are really only for a certain type of New York-centric audiences.

The women in his movies are absolutely fabulous.

Judy Davis in Husbands and Wives is amazing.

Trooper York said...

After Bullwinkle and Deputy Dog broke up they had some tough times. Bullwinkle was briefly married to Dyan Cannon and continued to put on a hetero-pretense. Deputy Dog got further into radical politics and affairs with both Joan Baez and Jane Fonda in a futile attempt to live in the “straight” world. And in an attempt to snag a three way with Bob Dylan or Peter Fonda. Because in the sixties the love of moose cock was the love that could not speak it’s name. It wasn’t until the police tried to arrest Mr. Slate at bar during the Stonerock riots that cartoon characters were brave enough to come out of the closet. But it was too late for Bullwinkle and Deputy Dog. It wasn’t politics that doomed their relationship, it was an unenlightened America.
(Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The E True Hollywood Story)

blake said...

Pogo,

I think Eastwood is brilliant, and all the more amazing for being at the top of his game at 78.

That said, I had the same reaction to Mystic River, especially the end, when it turned out nobody had any scruples whatsoever.

I was relieved that Affleck's adaptation of Lehane's novel Gone, Baby, Gone avoided that--almost skipped it because of the connection with Mystic River. Affleck's not as good behind the camera (yet!) as Eastwood, but the story is far less despicable.

And this is the kind of movie the critics always champion. I remember going to see Under the Volcano and coming out thinking "WTF?". For years, my barometer for seeing a movie was: If all the critics love it, it must suck.

And it makes me wonder--since these guys are notoriously left wing--how it is that the left is considered to have the "idealized" view of humanity. Is it just because they believe that with the perfect political system, men will become perfect to fit in it?

Meanwhile the most conservative people believe that Man can be redeemed (through religion or whatever).

So this is part of the debate I do not understand.

Pogo said...

blake,

Hah!
I have not yet seen Gone Baby Gone for that same reason.

Now I will.

knoxwhirled said...

The principles that underlie the tendency are make them good artists.


LOL!

knoxwhirled said...

I really liked Gone, Baby, Gone. Not exactly a pick-me-upper but I would recommend it.

blake said...

Yeah, knox, it wasn't upbeat--but Casey Affleck's character could be seen as a modern hard-boiled detective. I'm thinking of Spade in Maltese Falcon, whose principles have him send the woman he loves to prison.

River, on the other hand, is positively nihilistic. Every time you think you're going to see a demonstration of principles, the character turns out to be scum.

It's kind of critic-porn. They love it when there are no good guys and no bad guys.

To elaborate a bit: In porn, you're presented with a skewed world where everything is a sexual invitation. If you acted with those expectations in real life, you'd get shunned, slapped or arrested. Or worse.

In critic-porn, the skew is that nobody is truly good at heart, everyone is compromised or corruptible, and flaws don't just exist, they dominate. If you acted with those expectations in real life, you'd have to be hanging around journalists. (rim shot)

Trooper York said...

Lehane is the key here. If you saw his work on the "Wire" you saw what true art in the form of television could be. Dennis Lehane and George Peleconis are mystery novelists who penned several of the episodes of the last three seasons of the wire where courrption was everywhere and nothing was what it seemed. The narrative arc was great as well. It was an outstanding work of art, I don't know if it was liberal or conservative.

Hector Owen said...

Trooper: The writers and creators of "The Wire" seem to be anti-drug-war left-libertarians. Reason has done a number of interviews with them in the last couple of years. For instance: Creators of The Wire: "We'd Nullify". Excerpt:

A pretty bold statement in Time magazine from the show's head writers, Ed Burns, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon.

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Ed Burns.

David Simon: Reason: What's the show's underlying message about the drug war?

Simon: That it's a fraud. It's all over except for the tragedy and the shouting and the wasted lives. That'll continue. But the outcome has never been in doubt.

I have to agree with you about the artistic merit of "The Wire." Best thing I've ever seen on TV. And, as an erstwhile Baltimore resident, I enjoy recognizing bits of scenery and references to things like Faidley's crabcakes.

Synova said...

"My contention is that it's easier to create complex characters if you have a view of people that seems to be shared by those who support liberal policies."

This is so very silly.

The best "art" and certainly the best written fiction isn't usually identifiable as "conservative" or "liberal" anyhow. The very best speaks to the reality of human experience and is loved by people at vastly different ends of the political/social spectrum.

Unless one *knows* the author one doesn't *know* the author.

The idea that, somehow, a person with a liberal point of view will see humanity in it's complexity while a person with a conservative view point will not is so obviously wrong that it's nearly impossible to articulate. Like "what is air" but without being allowed reference to the chemical make up of gasses.

Not that all liberals are simplistic but they've got no call to claim any sort of insight into human complexity or any high-ground to claim over seeing something other than good vs. evil when they look at people. "Everyone is good" is NOT considering the complexity of the human experience. Nor is excusing anything that can be explained a way to consider the complexity of the human experience.

IME, among authors with whom I come in contact, there is NO difference between the complexity with which liberal or conservative (to whatever extent those labels are even useful) authors create characters. In fact, there is a sense in which the usual sort of conflicted angst (along with horror) is the *easy* thing to create. The cop out. Audience reactions can be gotten in reliable ways with certain creative short-cuts... doesn't make it good. Not at all.

Trooper York said...

Hector, the attitude those guys have is the attiude of the front line guys in the trenchs. If those knuckleheads want to mess themselves up drugs, let 'em. But the last season showed the bullshit way politics is played notwithstanding the black faces at city hall. No sugarcoating ya see. And the petty police rivalrys and backstabbing. The backroom deals. How sleazy lawyers manipulate. Testilying by the cops and manipulating evidence. And the bullshit media political correctness. The real heros of the wire were the guys who were just doing a job. Bump. Gus the editor. Nicky on the docks. Body selling drugs. Omar. All of them true to what is real. That's art man.