Accidentally Conservative

 

Serenity was written by a flaming hippie. Yet the ultimate conflict is pitch perfect for tyrannical governments trying to remake human nature. Sure, the film is blemished by a preacher who doesn’t care about God, but there’s a nugget of good sense even in that scene.

“You don’t know what it’s like to work in the private sector. They expect results.” This was from a star of Saturday Night Live, for crying out loud! If you don’t recognize the quote, I will forgive you … eventually.

Monty Python, those poor souls! It’s jaw-dropping that a group of comedians could so perfectly and consistently satirize the Left’s nonsense without recognizing it in their own politics.

As for novelists, perhaps some gothic tales like Frankenstein qualify. What are some better examples?

What might we learn from this strange phenomenon? How is it possible for artists to unwittingly parody their own beliefs so keenly?

Published in Entertainment
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 92 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Terry Gilliam’s Brazil comes to mind. The problem I think is that many on the Left mistakenly equate conservatism or Republicanism as akin to fascism when fascism sprung forth from socialism and still shares a great deal of socialist ideology. Brazil is more and more an indictment of the Left (and a current administration that seems to tolerate terrorist attacks), insane and over-burdensome bureaucracy, and the crony capitalists who prop up an increasing authoritarian state. It’s accidentally a very conservative film, where those folks living in shadows circumventing the oppressive regime are more heroic even if at the end of the film, the totalitarian state obliterates them.

    • #1
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    What do you mean about Frankenstein?

    As for the last question, it’s not complicated. Argument or thinking through the phenomena is remote or abstract from experience or habit or practical life in some ways. People will trip over themselves even after a lifetime of walking; reflection is far rarer, so is it really a shock? People who misunderstand the phenomena cannot be expected to articulate them adequate to their purpose. Only a great author really is the authority on that which he authors. It’s worth assuming every writer is a genius–there’s no other way to prove he ain’t. But only a few really are…

    • #2
  3. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    “The facts of life are conservative.” – I’ll bet you recognize that quote too!

    To be universal comedy has to hold to core truths that are commonly recognizable: an academic/sheltered wastrel not really understanding what a real job is like; bitter arguments between people who are largely the same about minor issues; the terrifying consequences of good intentions mated with disregard for how you get there.

    Sometimes they can’t help it: the truth just pops in there.

    • #3
  4. doulalady Member
    doulalady
    @doulalady

    I think that the right has been so thouroughly and successfully demonized in education, literature, Hollywood, mainstream media etc that it’s become impossible for conservative ideas to be credited to conservatives anymore. Conservatives are just a ridiculous caricature to them

    This idea of conservatives as illogically evil is rarely ever re-examined in the light of common sense or even personal experience. By definition we conservatives want pollution, global warming, orphans in the streets, and for women to be endlessly pregnant, barefoot, and beaten down.

    I think this is the reason for the rejection of even long time close friends when they come out as conservative. In their minds we have just admitted to their definition of a conservative, not ours.

    • #4
  5. Michael Brehm Coolidge
    Michael Brehm
    @MichaelBrehm

    Monty Python is interesting because I think the trajectory of their comedy goes something like:

    Transgressive (beginning) > acceptable-ish (Somewhere in the mid 80’s or 90’s) > Transgressive (current day).

    Before you argue with me about this little theory, consider the fact that today that something like the Lumberjack song would be considered hate speech against trans-folk and would require a maudlin Facebook apology following the SJW Twitter tribunal.

    Actually it is kind of fun to consider how much of their repertoire would trigger various perma-aggrieved parties in the culture today if performed.

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Titus Techera: What do you mean about Frankenstein?

    Caution in scientific experimentation and the idea of powers reserved for God alone are conservative ideas. Mary Shelley wrote that story in a contest with her hippie friends. But perhaps I’m mistaken about her. It has been years since my literary history courses.

    Dracula, another gothic tale, similarly promotes conservative themes in a way even as it revels in seduction scenes that were risque at the time. It links libertine sexual fantasies with the malicious corruption of evil. Again, I’d go into further detail if it hadn’t been so long since I read the book. The story also treats seriously the Christian concept of the demonic’s fear of Christ.

    Incidentally, the movie Constantine (based on a series) is surprisingly true to classic Christian dogmas, with allowances.

    • #6
  7. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Aaron Miller:

    Titus Techera: What do you mean about Frankenstein?

    Caution in scientific experimentation and the idea of powers reserved for God alone are conservative ideas. Mary Shelley wrote that story in a contest with her hippie friends. But perhaps I’m mistaken about her. It has been years since my literary history courses.

    Enthusiasm about science was an early Romantic article of faith–including, in a way, in one of the people involved in the game in Switzerland, Lord Byron.

    Mary Shelley’s is one of the few warnings at the time about the trouble with evil that scientific power might unleash. Of course, the story is Rousseau in drag–rather complicated to put together with our more practical, conservative way of thinking about power & judgment.

    Dracula, another gothic tale, similarly promotes conservative themes in a way even as it revels in seduction scenes that were risque at the time. It links libertine sexual fantasies with the malicious corruption of evil. Again, I’d go into further detail if it hadn’t been so long since I read the book. The story also treats seriously the Christian concept of the demonic’s fear of Christ.

    Never read the book, so I dunno.

    Incidentally, the movie Constantine (based on a series) is surprisingly true to classic Christian dogmas, with allowances.

    This may be worth talking about in some detail. There are some comic book amateurs around here–I knew one when I was a boy, who told me about it…

    • #7
  8. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Titus Techera:

    Dracula, another gothic tale, similarly promotes conservative themes in a way even as it revels in seduction scenes that were risque at the time. It links libertine sexual fantasies with the malicious corruption of evil. Again, I’d go into further detail if it hadn’t been so long since I read the book. The story also treats seriously the Christian concept of the demonic’s fear of Christ.

    Never read the book, so I dunno.

    Well, that sucks.

    • #8
  9. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Serenity was written by a flaming hippie.

    Yes, it was.  But, my understanding — maybe from several Jonah Goldberg posts at the time; not sure; can’t find substantiation — is that Tim Minear is the libertarian — not conservative —  influence in Firefly, where that world was created and developed.  “I aim to misbehave” is NOT conservative.

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Brian Watt:

    Titus Techera:

    Dracula, another gothic tale, similarly promotes conservative themes in a way even as it revels in seduction scenes that were risque at the time. It links libertine sexual fantasies with the malicious corruption of evil. Again, I’d go into further detail if it hadn’t been so long since I read the book. The story also treats seriously the Christian concept of the demonic’s fear of Christ.

    Never read the book, so I dunno.

    Well, that sucks.

    Stick something in it-

    • #10
  11. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Owen Findy:

    Serenity was written by a flaming hippie.

    Yes, it was. But, my understanding — maybe from several Jonah Goldberg posts at the time; not sure; can’t find substantiation — is that Tim Minear is the libertarian — not conservative — influence in Firefly, where that world was created and developed. “I aim to misbehave” is NOT conservative.

    No: It’s jazzy.

    • #11
  12. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    In the Case of the ‘Loretta’ scene from Life of Brian’, Cleese has said that that was directly parodying the Leftist groups in London in the seventies with their hair-splitting schisms. Not that that affects your broader point, which is spot on.

    • #12
  13. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Owen Findy:

    Serenity was written by a flaming hippie.

    Yes, it was. But, my understanding — maybe from several Jonah Goldberg posts at the time; not sure; can’t find substantiation — is that Tim Minear is the libertarian — not conservative — influence in Firefly, where that world was created and developed. “I aim to misbehave” is NOT conservative.

    And as anyone knows that watched the Firefly series, the writers were very libertine, including the whorehouse show that never aired. They went a little too far in that direction for my taste, but still, great series.

    • #13
  14. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Aaron Miller:Serenity was written by a flaming hippie. Yet the ultimate conflict is pitch perfect for tyrannical governments trying to remake human nature. Sure, the film is blemished by a preacher who doesn’t care about God, but there’s a nugget of good sense even in that scene.

    Said hippie is also an obnoxious atheist who nevertheless allowed said preacher to tell another character, “You don’t fix faith; it fixes you.”

    • #14
  15. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Umbra Fractus:

    Aaron Miller:Serenity was written by a flaming hippie. Yet the ultimate conflict is pitch perfect for tyrannical governments trying to remake human nature. Sure, the film is blemished by a preacher who doesn’t care about God, but there’s a nugget of good sense even in that scene.

    Said hippie is also an obnoxious atheist who nevertheless allowed said preacher to tell another character, “You don’t fix faith; it fixes you.”

    To quote Mike ‘Mad Dog’ LaRoch: I ain’t a dog, I don’t need fixin’!

    • #15
  16. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    Aaron Miller:

    Titus Techera: What do you mean about Frankenstein?

    Caution in scientific experimentation and the idea of powers reserved for God alone are conservative ideas. Mary Shelley wrote that story in a contest with her hippie friends. But perhaps I’m mistaken about her. It has been years since my literary history courses.

    .

    I’ll be doing a Frankenstein panel in 9 days, so its a little fresher in my mind. The idea of Frankenstein defying God was mostly the invention of the films (and perhaps the plays on which it was based). The book is more about the creature being rejected, first by his parent, later by society, and how that turns him into a monster. The creature clearly yearns for acceptance, for family, for a mate, and turns against Frankenstein for refusing him. I think that this can be twisted to fit both conservative (importance of intact families, responsibility towards our creations) and liberal (embracing the other, societal responsibility) values.

    • #16
  17. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    Umbra Fractus:

    Aaron Miller:Serenity was written by a flaming hippie. Yet the ultimate conflict is pitch perfect for tyrannical governments trying to remake human nature. Sure, the film is blemished by a preacher who doesn’t care about God, but there’s a nugget of good sense even in that scene.

    Said hippie is also an obnoxious atheist who nevertheless allowed said preacher to tell another character, “You don’t fix faith; it fixes you.”

    The whole of Firefly is empathetic to the “colony’s rights” rebels vs the megacorporate industrial Alliance, and is all about the human desire to live an unregulated life.

    • #17
  18. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Well, it should matter why the creature is created by its creator in the first place, no? & why he rejects it?

    • #18
  19. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    In an episode* of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the space station (and eventually the universe) is threatened by a growing proto-verse. They have the ability to destroy the embryonic reality, but refuse on the grounds that it has the potential to produce sentient life.

    When the creators received letters thanking them for writing a pro-life episode, they were both surprised and horrified.

    *At some point I could have told you the name of the episode. Alas, it escapes me, and my nerd shame is great.

    • #19
  20. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    Titus Techera:Well, it should matter why the creature is created by its creator in the first place, no? & why he rejects it?

    It should and does, but, at least to me, is a secondary concern, and perhaps that betrays my own biases. Victor rejects his creation upon its “birth” for its hideous, soulless eyes, and abandons him. It is not hard to imagine the influence of her own child’s death (two weeks old) the year before.

    Of course the title of the story (Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus) evokes the Greek creation myth, which has its own parallels to Genesis. And the creature reads Milton, and finds himself sympathizing with Lucifer as he finds himself at odds with his creator. Is this because Frankenstein assumed the mantle of God in creating the creature, or is Shelley accusing God of abandoning His creations?

    In the end the story endures in part because it is rich and open to many interpretations. Certainly, some of those are conservative in nature.

    • #20
  21. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Kenneth Branagh’s version of Frankenstein is the only one I’ve seen that focuses on Victor Frankenstein and not the golem. As I recall, the majority of the novel does not focus on the monster.

    • #21
  22. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    I have less and less faith that this is a real phenomenon than that we are so bunkered that we see conservative and libertarian messages even when they don’t exist.  We fill in the social structure around undefined parts of the stories.

    Firefly -especially as noted in the unaired episodes (upon watching them, I decided Fox was correct in their decision to kill the show and have not watched it since) -wasn’t a conservative story, or even a libertarian one.  Libertine is one way to describe it, but “revolutionary” is probably more accurate.  Mal and crew don’t want to be left alone so long as they don’t hurt anyone, they want to be liberated of societal constraints entirely.  There’s is the belief that if you destroy civilization, freedom will come up in its place.  They don’t object to the government of Ariel, they object to its very existence.

    • #22
  23. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I’m also used to reading movie or music critics say this or that is really conservative in rather desperately foolish ways.

    But the phenomenon is genuine.

    • #23
  24. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Severely Ltd.: And as anyone knows that watched the Firefly series, the writers were very libertine, including the whorehouse show that never aired.

    What do you think, then, of the Companion, Inara, and of that institution?

    • #24
  25. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Sabrdance: …Libertine is one way to describe it, but “revolutionary” is probably more accurate. Mal and crew don’t want to be left alone so long as they don’t hurt anyone, they want to be liberated of societal constraints entirely…

    I don’t see where you’re getting this. Ethics underpinned all of the shows plots (not always portrayed correctly, as I said, I considered it too libertine).

    • #25
  26. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Aaron Miller: What might we learn from this strange phenomenon? How is it possible for artists to unwittingly parody their own beliefs so keenly?

    Doesn’t seem so strange to me.  Is there nonsense on the Right as well?  Could Ricochet members parody it?  I’d say the answers are Yes and Yes.

    Similarly, one can be committed to liberal ideas and still realize that some on their own side are raving loonies.  A sign of a great comedian is the ability to recognize and mock absurdity on both ends of the political spectrum.

    • #26
  27. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Aaron Miller: “You don’t know what it’s like to work in the private sector. They expect results.” This was from a star of Saturday Night Live, for crying out loud! If you don’t recognize the quote, I will forgive you… eventually.

    And the villain works for the EPA!  I’ll be astonished if there are any such accidentally conservative lines in this summer’s reboot.

    • #27
  28. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    Sabrdance: I have less and less faith that this is a real phenomenon than that we are so bunkered that we see conservative and libertarian messages even when they don’t exist. We fill in the social structure around undefined parts of the stories.

    I don’t think anyone has to be bunkered for this to occur. (I’m assuming that you mean isolated in an echo chamber of sorts.) I think most people view things through a personal lens. That’s one of the reasons different people can watch/read the exact same material and come away with vastly different opinions about it.

    • #28
  29. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    I seem to recall that in BSG, President Roslin had to struggle with her pro-choice views in regards to whether she should allow abortions to take place when there are only 50,000 humans left.

    Part of the problem is the the Left doesn’t really understand the Right, they only think in terms of extremes and caricatures. I remember the end of DS9, Quark was astonished to learn that there were now Taxes on Ferenginar to pay for the new social programs. The obvious trope that conservatives are opposed to all taxes and all social programs.

    • #29
  30. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Owen Findy:

    Severely Ltd.: And as anyone knows that watched the Firefly series, the writers were very libertine, including the whorehouse show that never aired.

    What do you think, then, of the Companion, Inara, and of that institution?

    Legal prostitution? I don’t like it but I wouldn’t make it illegal.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.