On Liberal Ideologues Watching Classic Movies

I resonated with so much of this piece by Joseph Schaeffer. Especially loved this:

“Those of us who don’t see a need to redefine the family or male and female sex roles and the like can easily view a classic film and enjoy it for what it is. We don’t feel a burning need to judge the past by the standards of today, since we largely reject those new standards. The modern liberal is absolutely incapable of this. Liberal individualists achingly search for their personal message in older films and demand it in new films. Thus they are utterly incapable of enjoying the Golden Era of Filmmaking and at the same time are actively contributing to the flat-out mediocrity of contemporary movies.”

I remember back in my film school years at Northwestern constantly being subjected to the same kind of weird skewed lens with which so many of my nostalgic-Marxist professors filtered every movie. In the exhausting and ridiculous way in which everything for the Boomer generation was about politics, for the geriatric hippies teaching us, every movie was a political entity that either had masked references to queerness or else was suffused with institutionalized poisons of patriarchy, theocracy (liberal “coding” for Christianity) or capitalist swine-ness.

I remember in one class being aghast as one of our relentlessly grim lesbian film professors explained to us that Disney’s wonderful Hayley Mills’ vehicle, The Trouble with Angels, which I loved and had seen scores of times, was actually stuffed full of lesbian and feminist coding put there by the director Ida Lupino. I remember asking what evidence the professor had that the thrice-married Lupino was gay. The professor dismissively waved her hand, “Oh she was. She might not have known it, but she was.” I thought to myself, “How convenient for you. Darn near impossible to disprove subconscious gayness, now, isn’t it?”

Schaeffer’s article had me musing once again about the difference between ideology and philosophy. Philosophy, is the love of wisdom. It is the humble desire to receive reality and to penetrate its meaning. Ideology is the love of a particular idea. The central idea imposes itself on reality and makes all perception conform to itself. Leftist liberalism is an ideology. It sees what it wants to see regardless of whether the thing it is seeing is really there or not. Liberalism decides that Zimmerman is a racist and blocks out that Zimmerman’s business partner is black, and the girl he tok to the high school prom was black, and that Zimmerman himself is a person of color. Ideology insists that everything that doesn’t fit the narrative must be blocked out. I was perpetually frustrated by this attitude in film school because it stifled all debate. The professors started with the notion that every movie made by a man – except, you know, the Soviet-era filmmakers! – was infected with patriarchy. It was there for them because IT HAD to be there.

Ideology was the stuff of the murderous French Revolution mobs. Philosophy was the stuff of the liberty-seeking drivers of the American Revolution.

Once I was talking to an atheist and she demanded proof that there was a God. I started, of course, with my own experience and she waved it away, “You are obviously being jerked around by your own psychological issues if you think you have actually experienced something supernatural.” So, then I tried to appeal to first cause and prime mover but she waved those away too saying, “Just because we don’t know how the universe came here now, doesn’t indicate at all that it was created. Someday, people will be smarter and figure out how everything started.” So eventually, I said, “What proof could I offer you that God exists?” She thought about it and responded, “Nothing. Nothing could ever prove to me that there is a God. If I ever thought I was having an encounter with God, I would know that I was deceived.” Mind-crippling ideology.

The sequel to this piece should ask why so many professed Christian leaders/culture writers buy into this nonsense too. My opinion is that, in the urgency to flee the opprobrium engendered in the mainstream culture by the Moral Majority/Christian Right, lots of Christians end up flinging themselves into the service of the Left… who will be only too happy to eat them too eventually. “The last one we hang is the one who sold us the rope.” Marx

  • Gerald Alford

    Right on!

  • Tom Kaye

    Pardon. Not Marx. Stalin.

    But sadly, true.

    I was recently corresponding via comments with an atheist who, in response to my reference to C.S Lewis insisted that if Lewis lived today he’d be an atheist because we know so much more now that he knew back then!! Also, in another line of discussion, I’m not sure if it was the same guy or someone different, after mentioning C.S. Lewis, I was informed that Lewis was actually gay – but didn’t know it!! Why? Because he was a bachelor most of his life and his marriage was a scam on the British government to get some woman citizenship. I didn’t recommend he read “A Grief Observed” because I doubted it would

    My correspondent then also mentioned that Lewis’ childhood friend Arthur Greeves was homosexual. How that was evidence for Lewis’ queerness is beyond me! I think it was a that point I mentioned Lewis’ direct statement that he had never in his life been tempted toward homosexuality – or gambling. But every other vice he wrote about, he claimed as his own.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I’m not so sure about the 2nd part. The “Enlightenment” was full of ideology masquerading as philosophy, much of it anti-Catholic. Much of it exactly the same kind of claptrap we now call liberal.

  • AshleyWB

    Schaeffer is wrong. Here’s how I know: I’m a modern liberal, and I very much enjoy the golden era of filmmaking. I also enjoy many contemporary movies. I’m not sure if that means I’m contributing to their mediocrity. In my view, most movies in every era are pretty mediocre.

    Here’s a suggestion for you. When you want to know what some group of people think about a thing, ask them, not some writer for a web site that spends lots of time stereotyping those people. Doing that might get you accused of over-devotion to an ideology over people.

    • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

      Please, re-read title of this post… So, do you include yourself among ideologues? No? Then your rant is unnecessary and embarrassing.

    • http://www.philweingart.net/ Phil Weingart

      Nothing new here.

      All of us who have attempted to engage “liberals” (or “progressives,” whatever you want to call yourselves) in intellectual dialogue for any length of time are more than familiar with the category of objection, “That criticism does not apply to me. I am Different.” At least 1/3 of those who belong to the ideological left in America will take that line of defense in any discussion attempting to criticize the left.

      After fielding the objection hundreds of times over decades, I have reached the following conclusions:

      (1) The objection is actually a psychological tic, not an argument. Those who use it almost invariably need, in the psychological sense of “need,” to feel that they are different or else they are worthless. It’s their self-worth mechanism.
      (2) Those who use this defense will never permit you to use any broad category to describe them. Nor will they suggest a category into which they might be included. This will not stop them from using broad categories to describe you, though.
      (3) The defense always implies that those attempting to categorize are either too stupid, too illiterate, or too corrupt to categorize accurately.

      Of course, this creates a very comfortable place from which the Uncategorizable can judge the rest of us; no criticism will ever truly apply to them. That’s the object, of course.

      So let’s just say that when a liberal says “No, I don’t” to something that we who reject liberalism find to be nearly ubiquitous among them, I take it with a truckload of salt, and wait for more persuasive evidence before I believe them.