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Culture Shock
March 26, 2009 5:53 AM   Subscribe

"How do you talk about something like gangsta rap from a conservative perspective?" he said. "Are you going to critique it, or just disagree with it?" Friedersdorf tried gamely to square that circle in a piece exploring his conflicted feelings about dancing to Lil Jon at a wedding, but it was an essay that could have been written only so many times. A post-mortem on Culture11. (previously)
posted by Horace Rumpole (34 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I too wish those cats well and am sad that their attempt to inject humor and self-reflection into their ideals clashed with the talking points of the money moguls. I hope that the conservative movement eventually jettisons all of the culturally backward and bigoted elements and once again engenders intelligent leaders and thinkers, not because I particularly care if they can front a viable political party, but because the kind of fear-mongering prude-narcotic the current mouthpieces push is poisonous even to their enemies.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:19 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was going kind of snark-with-the-truth on this by noting that since conservatism is about staying put or even moving backwards and therefore the only critique it can offer for new things is "get off my lawn".

Stripped of its woolly academese, what Poulos was asking was, can conservatism properly push back against a popular culture that it doesn’t really understand?

Reminds me of: To understand is to forgive. When conservatives understand popular culture, a lot fewer of them will want to push back.

That said, I heartily welcome intellectual divisiveness amongst the right.
posted by DU at 6:21 AM on March 26, 2009


Uh...did something weird just happen to this thread? Was it just, like....rebooted?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:22 AM on March 26, 2009


I think you went into the Previously thread, read it like it was this one, then stepped out of it, then looked back and, "Hey! What happened to all the posts? Some of them were really good."

Don't ask me how I know this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:24 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ohhhhh! That's totally exactly what happened.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:27 AM on March 26, 2009


What Would Shakespeare Do... with the amen break?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:29 AM on March 26, 2009


Faxing It In, by Hailey Eber. The slow decline of the fax machine. There She Is. Is Anybody Watching? by Laura Vanderkam. Miss America struggles to stay relevant in a changing media world. Whitewashing Graffiti, by Jillian Bandes. Museums featuring the medium shouldn't ignore the harm it does on the street.

A sampling of three of the lead stories from their front page, each more boring and tepid than the last.

This is actually a little amazing. It's like the conservative movement has been dominated by people shrieking as loudly as they can about gay marriage and evolution for so long that when a few of them open their eyes in a noble attempt to write intelligent narratives about our crazy modern life instead of rallying against it, they're amazed and confused by things that stopped being relevant, oh, about a decade ago.
posted by Damn That Television at 6:35 AM on March 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think you went into the Previously thread, read it like it was this one, then stepped out of it, then looked back and, "Hey! What happened to all the posts? Some of them were really good."

Don't ask me how I know this.


I did the exact same thing.

I guess conservatives don't have a monopoly on being too dumb to figure this Internet thing out.

I figured out what I was doing wrong when I realized the thread was full of snark against Culture11 -- which was a sort of douche-y thing to do in a Culture11 obit thread.

(See what I did there?)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:35 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't ask me how I know this.

Please remove your spyware from MeFi! :)
posted by rokusan at 6:35 AM on March 26, 2009


I like the graffiti article. It's like he tips his hat five times to the concept of a nuanced world view before turning into a 13 year old would-be punk rocker arguing that since Hitler ordered the execution of 12 million people back in the day, following any order (like that sign that says, "no skateboarding" in the strip mall parking lot) is a bad idea.

I'd like to start a street gang where we do impressionist oils on the sides of buildings and train cars whenever we're not selling drugs or shooting other gang members in the face, just to see how weird a world view I could, uh, paint him into.

Another missed opportunity. Sigh.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:39 AM on March 26, 2009


Potomac Avenue: "I hope that the conservative movement eventually jettisons all of the culturally backward and bigoted elements"

In all seriousness: what would be left after that? The bow ties?
posted by Joe Beese at 6:46 AM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


> Among college students, "the worst thing you can do is harsh someone else’s buzz. And the second they step off the moving car of their college experience, and actually have to walk—it’s like one of those moving walkways in airports, when you get off all of a sudden, ‘Whoa, it’s hard to walk!’ " The audience laughed appreciatively. "Once they get off, and realize they need jobs and need to actually pay rent and all that, they get a lot more conservative very quickly."

Another Johan Goldberg triumph! While I would concede the point that many people tend to get a bit more conservative as they grow older, buy houses, have children, etc., most of my friends and I would be to the right of Pat Buchanan by now if having trouble finding work and being a bit short of cash were all it took to mold college lefties into old-school conservatives.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:50 AM on March 26, 2009


I read that same Goldberg quote and couldn't figure out what it was even supposed to mean. Wouldn't difficulty buying food and shelter actually make someone more LIBERAL? Once you have the job and the income and the comfy pad and have forgotten hardship, that's when you lean back, puff on your pipe and say "See? That wasn't so hard. Why can't those complainers (i.e. women and brown people) be more like me and just stick to it?"
posted by DU at 6:56 AM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would like to think of Culture11 as one of those animals that lives only to give birth to its children and then die off. It may be gone, but I think its influence is definitely being felt with the creation of sites like The League and Front Porch Republic.

Unfortunately, I think this may only be a temporary phase. The cruchy/paleo/localist/whatever-conservative is trying to get away from the need to use politics to control everyone around them and are taking a good look at the world they live in. If you read this link, I think you get a pretty good view of the kind of thing many of them really want. I also get a view that it probably isn't possible and they know it. Maybe if everything collapses these guys may be able to do some good, but otherwise I don't know how long they can just beat their heads against our culture/society and not really get anywhere.
posted by cimbrog at 7:00 AM on March 26, 2009


For anybody else, did Goldberg's quote sound like this?

Among "groovy" college students, the worst thing you can do is "mellow their high" by suggesting that too much "dooby" and "acid rock" might superficial seem like acts of rebellion "against the man," but once they get their lazy asses out of college and into the real world, they'll all be, like, "hey! It's not all tie-dying and Woodstock out here!"
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:21 AM on March 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Top 11 Fringe Right Arguments Against Barack Obama Becoming President" (Number two: "He’s not really black." Number one: "He’s black.")

This is funny in its own right but funnier still when you realize that this kind of thinking is what killed Culture11. There is no "right-wing" without the fringe.

Fig. 1

Counting on the "center-right" as they define it - "just insane enough to recognize that maybe Obama isn't the Antichrist but still hoping that someone will shoot him anyway" - is like hoping to unseat the New York Times with your blog by and for bisexual, freegan, basketball-fan grandmas.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:25 AM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Are you trying to tell me something about my blog, Free Food, Freethrows, Free Love and Free Hugs: A Journey Into Excellence, Optimus Chyme? Because I got six visitors last year alone, and only four of them were me. Watch your back, Krugman!
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 7:49 AM on March 26, 2009 [23 favorites]


Joe Beese: I'd enumerate them but I have no desire to be derided this morning. Let's just say, among other things: a measured and idealistic opposition to all of the unquestioned bits of pop-morality and culture that currently reside on our collective lawns. Certainly it gets old hearing about it, but sometimes the piles of shit out there really are killing the grass and blocking the flowerbeds.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:52 AM on March 26, 2009


How do you reconcile a desire for smaller government with a desire to legislate morality?

This is why conservatism as a political philosophy is dying off. Painfully and ridiculously so.
posted by bardic at 7:56 AM on March 26, 2009


Free Food, Freethrows, Free Love and Free Hugs: A Journey Into Excellence

Uppity Pigeon #2, I know the Favorite button exists, in part, so threads won't be filled with LOL as the only response, but since I am in a cubicle and cannot literally laugh out loud, so supressing the feeling this faux blog title gave me is actually causing me to tear up a little,

What I am trying to say is that causing me to cry with slight joy deserves more than just a click and that is what this is. Well done. Thank you for bettering my day.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:56 AM on March 26, 2009


it's funny how movement conservatives put 'holy virgins' like goldberg out to write these sorts of things. What do conservatives do in the real world:
On page after page, Chandrasekaran details other projects of the C.P.A.’s bright young Republican ideologues — like modernizing the Baghdad stock exchange, or quickly privatizing every service that had previously been provided by the state. Some of these ideas would have been laudable if they were being planned for a country with functioning power and water supplies, and that wasn’t tottering on the brink of anarchy.

But how could these young Americans have known what life was like for ordinary Iraqis since they never left the Green Zone? Instead, they turned the place into something like a college campus. After a hard day of dreaming up increasingly improbable projects, the kids did what kids do — headed for the bar and looked for a hookup. As for the Iraqis, they were conspicuous by their absence.

hook-up, just like anyone else.

But whole point of the Nixonian 'silent majority' isn't really about condemnation, it's jealousy. It's about rich kids like Jonah Goldberg who get to go to college and live it up while your kid is working behind the counter at a convenience store.
posted by geos at 7:57 AM on March 26, 2009


Free Food, Freethrows, Free Love and Free Hugs: A Journey Into Excellence
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2


rack em
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:08 AM on March 26, 2009


I hope that the conservative movement eventually jettisons all of the culturally backward and bigoted elements and once again engenders intelligent leaders and thinkers

I feel the same way about hiphop.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:10 AM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


In all seriousness: what would be left after that? The bow ties?

If more of them wore bow ties, I'd probably like them more.
posted by brundlefly at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I hope that the conservative movement eventually jettisons all of the culturally backward and bigoted elements"

In all seriousness: what would be left after that? The bow ties?


I feel the same way about Nation of Islam.

(I could do that all day!)

Anyway, now that I've read the article... [THIS IS GOOD.]

As much as I disagree with the Right, the one thing I most disagree with is their usual methodology, i.e. to swallow whole and regurgitate when necessary.

The typical Conservative "argument" consists of nothing more than a distorted retelling of misremembered half-truths, and nearly always wholly irrelevant. It's as if, rather than carefully listening and thoughtfully responding, a good ninety-odd percent of the time they're simply scanning for key words, performing a quick mental google search, and then reciting the first hit at full volume.

So, yeah, I'm up for some post-anti-intellectual conservatism.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's my understanding that Jonah Goldberg's never gotten a job that wasn't a pure nepotism hire (his mother is a crazy person with right-wing influence, Lucianne Goldberg). Am I incorrect in this understanding?

He's not without some intelligence, but then neither is my wristwatch, and my wristwatch actually provides a service.
posted by waxbanks at 8:48 AM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


He's not without some intelligence, but then neither is my wristwatch, and my wristwatch actually provides a service.
posted by waxbanks


If i had a webcomic this would so be the first thing i'd plagiarize.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:12 AM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


"hey! It's not all tie-dying and Woodstock out here!"

NOOOOOO!!!!!1!11
posted by symbollocks at 10:09 AM on March 26, 2009


I liked this bit:

But for all the bluster of all-caps headlines like "GLOBAL WARMING PROPAGANDA SINKS ‘UNDER THE SEA 3D,’ " [Big Hollywood is] a far less courageous site than the comparably nonconfrontational Culture11; beneath the patina of combativeness, it’s really just a support group for 24 fans. What Big Hollywood does isn’t criticism, or reporting—it’s ideological accounting. And its failure to get its arms around the culture in which it is swimming is symptomatic of the broader failures of the conservative movement.

There's a close connection between conservatism's cultural confusion and its political confusion. There are pro-life liberals. There are liberals opposed to stem-cell research. There are even a few weird "teach the controversy" liberals. Liberalism in this country is far from perfect, but it's ideologically large enough that it can include varying views. With precious few exceptions, conservatives have never quite figured out the difference between an overarching political philosophy and a litmus test.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:10 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's as if, rather than carefully listening and thoughtfully responding, a good ninety-odd percent of the time they're simply scanning for key words, performing a quick mental google search, and then reciting the first hit at full volume.


Oh please. This is what 90% of people on earth do about any issue. There are plenty of lefties out there who do the same thing around lefty issues.

Not that I disagree that conservatives do this. I just think they ain't the only team in this league. Problem is they tend to be like the Yankees, whereas the Pirates can do pull the same schtick no one pays attention.
posted by spicynuts at 10:17 AM on March 26, 2009


On the one hand, I think the dangers of trying to debate any cultural thing from any one particular perspective is an exercise in futility, because everything is just so bloody subjective. We each have highly individual tastes. While our tastes can indeed be informed by a type of cultural background, sometimes...they just aren't. People could make a good case as to why I personally may dislike the work of Damien Hirst because I possess one kind of perspective, or how I tend to not be a huge hip-hop fan as a rule because of some other perspective, but the truth of the matter is, I don't like any one genre as a rule, I instead like songs or artists on an individual basis, and there are a couple hip-hop songs I do like; as for Damien Hirst, his stuff all looks like rejected displays from a natural history museum and I don't see the point. Sometimes you dislike a painting just because you dislike it, rather than because you are a neo-con. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

But on the other hand -- I am reminded of a bit of schtick from the film C.S.A., a mockumentary about the history of the United States in a world where the Confederacy had won the Civil War. At some point, the mockumentary was discussing how a lot of artists had fled to the comparative freedom of Canada, and so by the 1960's the C.S.A. cultural scene was all really vapid Lawrence-Welk-esque jingoism and propagandizing. And somehow that made perfect sense.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 AM on March 26, 2009


from the article:

Gosh, my super-transgressive life is sort of unrewarding, maybe I’ve exhausted this mine of self-indulgence and personal freedom and saying ‘fuck the man,

it's funny how even when they're making an effort to get it, they just don't get it. As if giving up personal indulgences means you have to turn into a Republican and start actively working to deny freedom to others.

also, Conor Friedersdorf is my ex-girlfriend's brother. Small world.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:03 AM on March 26, 2009


As if giving up personal indulgences means you have to turn into a Republican and start actively working to deny freedom to others.

Conservative ≠ Republican and visa versa.
Hell, Conservative ≠ Conservative these days...
Of course, Poulos would have been better off not using the term, "right".
I say we outlaw all words - they only lead to misunderstandings.

posted by cimbrog at 11:51 AM on March 26, 2009


Another bastion of wing-nut welfare bites the dust.

Them hippies need to get real jobs now.
posted by bardic at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2009


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