Now that we are descending into nanny-state soft tyranny under the sure and certain leadership of our beloved Not-A-Dictator, we are going to need a Minister of All Cultures and my nominee is John Nolte of Breitbart’s Big Hollywood. First of all, I know Nolte so even under the new regime, I should be able to score copies of movies with all the offensive scenes still intact. And second of all, I’m beginning to think that he is the last sane man discussing pop culture in America except for me. And I’m not too sure about me.
Last week, the Noltenator ran a terrific piece defending funny man Seth MacFarlane from both left-wing and right-wing attacks on his off-beat, politically incorrect and also very amusing Academy Awards performance. Especially under fire was a song called “We Saw Your Boobs,” which named which actresses had exposed themselves in which movies. Critics on left and right called the song sexist, offensive, puerile, etc, and Nolte explained to them: shut the hell up.
What strikes me as wrong-headed… is all this taking of offense and hurling of “ists.” I fear we’re becoming a nation of well-intentioned (sometimes) “Footloose” dads who see danger in harmless fun; where we cry “ist” to put a stop to things that make us uncomfortable; where — so “we don’t offend” and “for the good of others” — we build restrictions. And what happens in the process? We lose our own capacity for joy and that very healthy exercise known as laughing at ourselves.
Read the whole thing here. It’s worth it.
But while John takes both the left and the right to task, I think the right is more to blame here. When leftists attacked MacFarlane, they were being pinched, small-minded, puritanical, humorless, bullying, and censorious — which is to say, they were being themselves! Blaming them for that is like blaming a rattler for having venom.
But if right wingers want to speak through and about pop culture, they need to learn to be smarter and better than the opposition. The fact is, properly understood the “Boobs” song was a triumph for right-wing values!
Look, no one loves a good nude scene more than I do, but the truth is: forcing young professional women to expose themselves in order to get acting jobs is degrading and unnecessary. Weak, sinful hypocrite that I am, I’ll watch those scenes again and again, but even I understand: there’s not one nude scene in motion pictures that is dramatically essential. Not one. They are all there for reasons of prurience and exploitation, every one of them. They take abusive advantage of actresses’ desperate need for work, love, and attention in order to give drooling, demented old curmudgeons like me a cheap thrill. And once a girl does one, it’s online forever. Believe me — I know where to find them! And the actress’s parents, sweethearts, husband, and children know where to find them too.
The only reason the left complained about MacFarlane’s song was the same reason they complain about any piece of public discourse: it exposed the truth about their lousy, hyper-sexualized values and practices. Look at the faces of Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron when MacFarlane sang about them:
Now look at the face of Jennifer Lawrence when MacFarlane’s song mentioned that she had never exposed herself in a movie:
Which of these ladies looks proud and which look ashamed? [I should add, in answer to the comments below, that this was, of course, filmed earlier as part of the Captain Kirk routine, but the idea of the song is that the women who exposed themselves are ashamed by MacFarlane’s tactlessness. That’s what the left is so upset about — the joke is true.]
Criticize the song??? The right should’ve posted the bloody song on every website we have! We should have said: Hey, ladies, if it makes you feel bad when someone publicly talks about what you publicly do — guess what? Don’t do it! Do something else instead! Maybe treat your bodies with dignity and respect — the way you’ll want your daughters to treat their bodies. The way men ought to treat them.
MacFarlane’s humor did one of the very things that good humor is supposed to do. It told the truth about an accepted practice that is morally absurd. As right wingers dedicated to moral truth, we should have used the moment to pleasantly and sweetly drive the point home.
But when it comes to pop culture, we’re just too damned stupid.