Tuesday, May 03, 2005

From a letter in last Thursday's Post-Dispatch:
I can only hope that [a veteran spitting in Hanoi Jane Fonda's face] is the forerunner of similar activity against a few of my other favorites: Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Jessica Lange and all the other slime epitomized by the bottom of the barrel Ramsey Clark.

Whew! Now that's some serious disapproval. And yet, as Frank Rich points out in his Sunday Times column:
Conservatives can't stop whining about Hollywood, but the embarrassing reality is that they want to be hip, too. It's not easy. In the showbiz wrangling sweepstakes of 2004, liberals had Leonardo DiCaprio, the Dixie Chicks and the Boss. The right had Bo Derek, Pat Boone and Jessica Simpson, who, upon meeting the secretary of the interior, Gale Norton, congratulated her for doing "a nice job decorating the White House."

What to do? One solution is a book praising "South Park" for its lampooning of left wing political correctness. Despite the fact that one episode of "South Park" holds the record for the most bleeped out (162) repetitions of a single four-letter word in a half hour show, the book's right wing authors admire, for example, a parody that presents an anti-smoking campaign as fascistic and another satire of anti-war celebrities as dim-witted.
Since "South Park" outdraws even "The Daily Show", finally right-wingers can be hip--so they thought. "But a funny thing happened on the way to the publication of 'South Park Conservatives'": the Schiavo debacle broke, and
the same TV show celebrated by Mr. Anderson and his cohort as the leading edge of a potential conservative victory in the culture wars now looks like a harbinger of an anti-conservative backlash instead.
In the March 30 episode, Kenny, a kid whose periodic death is a "South Park" ritual, lands in a hospital in a "persistent vegetative state" and is fed through a tube. The last page of his living will is missing. Demonstrators and media hordes descend. Though heavenly angels decree that "God intended Kenny to die" rather than be "kept alive artificially," they are thwarted by Satan, whose demonic aide advises him to "do what we always do - use the Republicans." Soon demagogic Republican politicians are spewing sound bites ("Removing the feeding tube is murder") scripted in Hell. But as in the Schiavo case, they don't prevail. Kenny is allowed to die in peace once his missing final wish is found: "If I should ever be in a vegetative state and kept alive on life support, please for the love of God don't ever show me in that condition on national television." ...
The same arrogance that sent Republicans into Terri Schiavo's hospice room has also led them to try to police the culture of sex more rabidly than the left did the culture of sexism. No wonder another recent poll, from the Pew Research Center, finds that for all the real American displeasure with coarse entertainment, a plurality of 48 percent believes that "the government's imposing undue restrictions" on pop culture is "a greater danger" to the country than the entertainment industry itself. Who could have imagined that the public would fear Focus on the Family's James Dobson more than 50 Cent?

Rich's column details some proposed censorship of the airwaves that I was unaware of, including this satisfying irony:
"South Park" is also on this hit list: the Parents Television Council, the take-no-prisoners e-mail mill leading the anti-indecency charge, has condemned the show on its Web site as a "curdled, malodorous black hole of Comedy Central vomit."

That's some more serious disapproval, but I have to ask: Does it make sense for a left-winger to ask whether the right hand and the left hand of the right wing each know what the other's doing?

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