Monday, February 02, 2009

Anti-Intellectual, Anti-Elitist Conservatism, the case of Paul Blart : Mall Cop

Two telling "conservative " pieces on the latest Kevin James travesty, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, one from Town Hall's Douglas MacKinnon, the other from Big Hollywood's Mike Long. What do both MacKinnon and Long have to say? Mostly that liberal movie critics have it in for lighthearted, family-friendly fare and are just too elitist and too out of touch with mainstream America.

MacKinnon probably gets it right when he mentions how the New York Times's Nathan Lee reads too much politics into the crowded malls featured in "Mall Cop", but then goes on to overstate his case. "Mall Cop" has been blasted by critics because it sucks- You don't have to be a professional critic or even have seen the movie to know that. According to MacKinnon and Long, the fact that "Mall Cop" has been successful in the box office is supposed to make these dastardly critics recant their reviews. Of course, the bad reviews aren't really because "Mall Cop" is family friendly. Year in and year out there are poorly reviewed movies of every genre that perform well at the box office despite poor reviews- Just think of the Saw franchise or just about every movie made by Michael Bay. Sure, there are moments when gay cowboys tug at the heart strings of the usually cold-hearted critics and three star films ended up treated as four star classics, but this moments are few and far between. I have laundry lists of problems with movie critics, but political biases just aren't on that list.

What's truly interesting here is the context. It's as if Paul Blart: Mall Cop is being embraced just because it's a simple story that those liberal critics don't like. As I've noted over the past several months, this is the troubling strain of conservatism that Sarah Palin seemed emblematic of, defining itself not by strong ideas but by opposition to liberals and elitists and it's rather unbecoming of a political philosophy with such distinguished intellectual roots.

There's a big difference between the conservative embrace of a genuinely good film like Juno for it's main character's choice to keep her baby and give it up for adoption and the embrace of filler like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but neither MacKinnon or Long quite seem to get that. That's not to say no one should go see "Mall Cop" or no one to enjoy it, but lame films are lame films and there's no need to politicize them, especially when doing so makes your side look stupid.


Anonymous L-rissa said...

I'm not sure it's fair of you to comment on the quality of Brokeback Mountain or even Mr. Paul Blart if you haven't SEEN the movie...

A perhaps little-known fact about the Lonely Libertarian - he avoids blockbusters like the plague and refuses to watch many modern day classics - his opinion is suspect in this regard.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Mike Long said...

Hey, Lonely Libertarian--thanks for linking to my essay on Paul Blart at BH. I like your blog and I am glad somebody's out there railing against that "stimulus" (ha) package with some facts and links.

As for Blart, I am not for a moment saying lib critics aren't entitled to their opinions, or that they are even "out of touch" with the mainstream (though they may be). All I'm saying is that we should judge entertainment through our own opinion of it, not how others tell us we should react. I think many critics worry about how it would look to say they like Blart, and don't really ask themselves if they like it.

Thanks again!


10:43 AM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Hey Mike, thanks for your comment and thanks for not taking my remarks as a personal attack (the sort of thing which seems to happen far too much on these interwebs). I think you make a good point that maybe film critics just can't give Blart a good review because then no one would take them seriously as critics. My radar is just sensitive to the term "elitist" which I fear is becoming for the right what Hitler and fascism is to the left.

And L-rissa, as you well know, I end up watching most movies I should watch eventually and remember that there's a method to my madness- so much of what's offered on the small screen these days is far superior to anything offered on the big screen.

2:44 PM  

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