Publisher’s Note: In the interest of equal time, Pajiba has asked one of our frequent and favorite commenters to offer a conservative counterpoint to the more liberal musings of “The New Millennium Nigga.” We now consider ourselves Fair and Balanced.
I find myself in an interesting position. As conservatism is reeling under a left cross from Nancy Pelosi and her merry band of anti-warriors, I have been allowed some space on Pajiba to bring a dash of conservative thought to what has been a bastion of intelligent liberals. Whether this is a nod to the popularity of conservative media or just a patronizing pat on the head from the victors in this latest election, I appreciate the opportunity. Hopefully, I can give you a glimpse into the entertainment world as we conservatives see it, but I’ll settle for not seeming like a warmongering oil glutton who wants to paper the wombs of America with legislation to safeguard their contents while making damn sure that Johnny and Johnny don’t get too far past holding hands.
The word “conservative” conjures up a certain image. Yes, I do own a gun. Yes, I did at one point commute sans carpool in a pickup truck that got 8 mpg on the highway. Yes, I do live in the capital of Red Statonia, and yes, I have grilled an entire quadruped in my backyard. And yet I contend that if we met in person we would probably get along better than you would expect. I recycle, I work for a tiny startup trying, among other things, to make your cars lighter and less thirsty, and Toyota made the fuel-efficient little beauty that I drive now. If you met me, you would probably never realize we’re so different. I say that’s because we aren’t; because what really puts us at odds has more to do with our prejudices and ignorance, to steal a couple of your catchphrases, than it does with some fundamental ideological difference. So maybe I can do something here to further the cause of understanding and cooperation. I used to think that liberals did what they did because they hated freedom and wanted to destroy America, but that’s because the politicians want me to think that way, just like they want you to think that conservatives want to torch the great outdoors and blow up anyone with a different accent. Negative campaigning works, my friends; studies prove it, and politicians are no idiots. So if we really want to work together for a better country we’re going to have to stop listening to our elected leaders and start getting to know each other ourselves.
What better way for us all to get to know each other than through the movies? As Rob Gordon says in High Fidelity, “What really matters is what you like, not what you are like.” Instead of trotting out movies that make liberals look stupid or conservatives smart, I’d like to start with a movie that paints a fairly accurate, if a bit simplistic, picture of what we’ve become: PCU. The movie may have gained some cult status in the intervening years, but when it came out it was bad-mouthed all around, and why not? The movie insults almost everyone.
The nominal main character of the movie, Tom Lawrence (Chris Young), comes to visit Port Chester University as a pre-frosh and discovers a divided and tense campus. The favorite activity of the student body appears to be protesting about anything and everything, especially the traditional issues of gender, race, and sexual orientation. There’s a great scene that makes a gauntlet of the protesters, with one of them shouting “FREE NELSON MANDELA,” only to be reminded by his neighbor that Mandela had already been freed. Later, protesters outside the cafeteria dance around in cow costumes before being felled by giant cardboard axes, while the “womynists” fight the phallocracy by protesting the kegger they’ve termed a “penis party.” It’s all very over-the-top and very much in line with the view your average conservative has of activist liberalism. The cartoonish protestors take their lead from the hyphenated head of the university, President Andrea (emphatically pronounced Ahn-DRAY-uh) Garcia-Thompson (Jessica Walter), a forceful and manipulative woman who dresses and talks tough and generally grates on the university board’s old guard.
Meanwhile, the conservatives have maintained their brotherhood sub rosa, despite a university ban on fraternities. The Secret Fraternity of Balls and Shaft is a room full of navy blazers, striped ties, and well-bred bigots who identify the pre-frosh as one of their own by his L.L. Bean wardrobe and complexion. No punches are pulled on the conservatives either, especially not in the litany of intolerance spewed by their leader (a perfectly cast David Spade) in the movie’s closing moments. “You and all the knee-jerk, bleeding heart liberals … those useless hippie potheads, those commie-pinko leftists, the bunny huggers, the pillow biters … the butt pirates, and those beastly man-haters … goddamn whiny crybaby minorities.” The rank-and-file conservatives are as broadly drawn, witless, and single-minded as the protestors. Spade’s character, however, is a scheming counterpoint to Garcia-Thompson and quite literally wants to be in bed with the liberal leadership.
So what makes the movie unique, besides the fact that both sides of the aisle are lampooned? The fact that the leaders of both sides are working together to achieve a common goal. How perfectly prescient can a dumb, rollicking kegger of a good-time college movie be? The university head wants to expel the denizens of “The Pit,” a slovenly, anarchic house of slackers whose leader has been in college long enough that his name should be lavishly prefixed and/or suffixed. The Pit is the former home of Balls and Shaft, and the university head has promised it to them if they help her get the complaints necessary to evict the slobs. It’s easy for Spade to turn his conservative following against the Pit because, besides the house issue, the Pit’s inhabitants are disgracefully unkempt and dirty and “worst of all, poor.” President Garcia-Thompson has done her part by creating a campus that won’t tolerate the Pit’s liberties and an actual system whereby the protestors can fill out complaint forms, a certain number of which mean expulsion.
The analogy isn’t perfect. The animosity between the protestors (liberals) and conservatives isn’t what’s being exploited, but in general their prejudices and distrust of one another are what their leaders are using to achieve a goal by trampling on the rights of others. In much the same fashion, we’re being used by a government whose primary interest is staying in power, and to do it they’re playing off our prejudices against each other. Here’s the blueprint: Tell people that other people are doing something they shouldn’t like. At least some of them listen to you. Now mobilize the first group, and eventually you can take that right away from the second. Now you have a fresh, piping-hot batch of people pissed off that their rights have been torn from them. Your friend Jim Bob can come along and tell that second group what a load of crap it is that their rights were taken away and wouldn’t it be swell if they went and took some of those arrogant assholes’ rights away. Booyah, now everybody is too busy trying to take each other’s freedoms away to even notice you feeding yourself at the trough and doing very little to improve anyone’s life. Religion used to be the opiate of the masses; now it’s politics (well, and sports and entertainment).
Just look at the beauty of the system. Marvel at it. Bow to its power; you’re already doing it at the polls. We are literally ignoring what the politicians are actually doing because we are too wrapped up in politics. Every time you think conservatives are idiots and evil geniuses (just a quick parenthetical nod to the odd conflict inherent there, but others have said it before and better) bent on turning the whole world into one giant, joyous conflagration in order to make money for oil and defense, a Democratic strategist gets their wings. Every time I think that liberals are actively trying to hand our country over to Islamic terrorists, Michael Savage smiles. You know all those politicians that you really love because they’re different and they’re actually trying to change things, unlike the rank-and-file? So do the rank-and-file. They probably love them more than you do, because “good” politicians put a face of legitimacy on the political system so the rank-and-file can continue manufacturing little but pork and division and still avoid a revolution. If we weren’t so busy being really pissed off at the other side, we might see how bad our own sides are and take the next step to realizing that it’s not conservatives or liberals who suck; it’s modern politicians. Then who knows what we would do? The Pit is the Capitol, and they’ve already kicked us out.
So how about it, kids? Party at the Pit. Gutman is on beer, and I hear George Clinton warming up inside. There’s my peace offering. You’ve been had, but we have, too. Let me come back next week, and I promise I’ll tell you how you’re bigger idiots and dupes than I am. C’mon, it’ll be fun; I’m wrong all the time, I swear. You’ll have a blast tearing me apart. Then we can all play along like good liberals and conservatives while our leaders turn this country into a history lesson.
Erik Nolte lives in Texas and daylights as a research engineer. He has sacrificed this e-mail address to spam and death threats.
PCU / Erik Nolte
Film Reviews | December 5, 2006 | Comments ()