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June 09, 2010


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Dan Coyle

Dude, that is truly terrifying.

Matt Dutto

When I was a child, I didn't like this particular cartoon because it pained me to see Elmer Fudd suffer so.


it's pretty crazy how modern and brutally violent these cartoons still feel- even in a post "kickass" world!


"Gwacious! Have any of you girls had an experience like this?"

Stephen Bowie

That's funny, I have a migraine today, and I think my neurologist has pretty much thrown in the towel trying to diagnose the cause. Maybe it's rabbits!


Just noticed that this is tagged as "polemics." Brilliant.

Glenn Kenny

Thanks for picking up on that, PY IV. In that spirit, let me address a few thoughts on the "Is Spielberg conservative" question that started on that other thread, here. I think Victor's essentially correct that in a lot of aspect Spielberg and his work embody a lot of traditional liberal Democrat traditions and commonplaces; by the same token, that doesn't make him NOT conservative. Certainly there's nothing in his work that can be said to challenge the dominant ideology, or hegemony, or what have you; he may be seen to oppose those symptoms of capitalist excess he sees fit to conjure up, but he certainly can't be seen to oppose capitalism. His work is conservative in that it serves the order. The puling anti-war sentiments in "Saving Private Ryan" that Victor is affronted by really aren't that much more profound or pernicious than any given chorus of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone;" and more to the point, they are PRECISELY AS EFFECTIVE, which is to say, not at all. If Spielberg sometimes declines to give a big bear hug to American exceptionalism, I don't think a lot of conservatives have much to complain about, particularly if they accept Jonah Goldberg's distillation of what he calls "the Ledeen Doctrine" as a shining example of how that exceptionalism ought to be deployed. (And no, I am not gonna link. I'm sure more than a few of you know exactly what I'm talking about.)

What was that Cornelius Cardew tract called? "Stockhausen Serves Imperialism?" Well, duh. So does Spielberg, as Jean-Luc Godard would be happy to tell you all about. This doesn't mean, by the way, that I reject the man and his works; after all, I serve imperialism too. And also, I find the ideological muddle of something like "Minority Report" one of its most fascinating features...


Things really get broken down neatly into "left" and "right" around here. America has a nice rational liberal tradition, one that relies upon gradual reform and consensus, that is often ignored when cultural-critic types start talking about "the left." Check out Marilynne Robinson's excellent book of essays, "The Death of Adam," for some insight into this tradition, one that is Christian, rural, and undeniably "liberal." I love Godard, but his politics are as far from my own liberalism, what you call "traditional liberal Democrat traditions and commonplaces," as they are from Victor's conservatism. Weirdly enough, the moderate liberal tradition is one that actually has enjoyed power in the US, and actually gotten things done.

Jeff McMahon

And to respond here, I wouldn't say that Saving Private Ryan is an anti-war movie; on the contrary, I'd say it's a movie that argues that war (or at least, WWII) is a painful necessity in order to advance the greater good. Not exactly a revolutionary sentiment.

Meanwhile, I'd say there are are anti-capitalist leanings in The Terminal, Jurassic Park, and Catch Me If You can, although they tend to be sublimated to other aspects of the productions. But I think the most important element of Spielberg's cinematic politics is that he tends to be a progressive, but one insistent on avoiding radical sentiments in favor of trying to work within the system for change...not unlike the protagonist of the film for which Spielberg won his first two Oscars.

Stephen Bowie

Well, okay, if you want to talk Spielberg's politics ....

I don't think Spielberg has ever been politically or ideologically consistent in his work. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and THE TERMINAL, as noted above, just seem contradictory and naive when you try to discern a "left" or a "right" point of view in them.

Where I think Spielberg shakes out as conservative is in his emphasis on the personal rather than the sociopolitical. That's true of all his films, but it's really problematic in something like the retch-inducing WAR OF THE WORLDS, in which Spielberg destroys the entire world for the sole purpose of reuniting a broken family, and takes a narrative detour (the infamous Tim Robbins sequence) that serves only to endorse vigilantism against sexual predators. (That section of the film is so creepy and gratuitous that it calls to mind those pedophiles who believe they're "protecting" the children they victimize.)

Just the fact that Spielberg always operates on an emotional (one might say sentimental) level rather than an intellectual one is political too. Especially in his films of the Bush II era, where that impulse was echoed in so much of the public conservative discourse.

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