July 3, 2008

The younger generation's motto: Always trust anyone over 30!

When I was a kid back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, rebellion was in fashion. The idea that your elders were lying to you was pervasive. "Never trust anyone over 30" was a popular motto.

Social change was remarkably rapid -- you can date women's lib to 1969, not 1968. And gay lib can be dated precisely to the evening following Judy Garland's funeral in July 1969.

Today, though, I'm fascinated by the credulity of younger, well-educated people toward their elders, and the endurance of their bad old ideas. Stephen Jay Gould, for example, has been dead and gone for years, but the mellifluous old blowhard is still constantly cited by the relatively young as a great thinker whose golden ideas must remain unchallenged by we lesser mortals doomed to live in this age of brass.

By way of analogy, I'm reminded of a passage from Michael Blowhard's amazing review of last year's movie hit "300."

The film is another example of the way we've caved in culturally to adolescent values. Here's how the story goes. Boomers were the first sizable generation of adolescents ever to have their adolescent tastes and pleasures catered to. This is really-truly true, by the way. Nothing like it had ever occurred on the face of the planet before. And -- since anything that occurs to you in the teen years has a big effect -- that's playing with fire.

So the Boomers became experts in being adolescents, and in adolescent pleasures. When they got older and the time came to attend to the business of catering to the entertainment needs of the new crop of adolescents, Boomers proved much much better at it than their own elders had been. What they created for the new adolescent audience wasn't just memorably exciting and full of promise, as post-WWII pop culture had been. The pop culture the Boomers created proved so exciting and satisfying for adolescents that for ensuing generations nothing beyond adolescence and adolescent values and pleasures exists any longer.

I think much the same holds true in the educational and intellectual realm. The 1960s ideas promoted by Boomers were essentially adolescent and thus when they gained control of the education system, change ground to a halt. They serve up puerile bilge to puerile young people, so everybody is satisfied. It's a perpetual anti-motion machine.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael Blowhard completely missed the point of 300. His shtick is to point out the problems with diversity without realizing that solutions require some testosterone, some appeal to young men. 300 was one of the most right wing, pro-freedom movies made in the last decade.

The small band of brothers resists their inclusion into the monstrous "diversity" of the Persian Empire. A white guy even kicks a black guy into a well...after the black guy
told the white that he'd have to change his culture...without any soul searching afterwards!

Traditional gender roles are shown to be necessary for -- rather than incompatible with -- loving relations between men and women.

There is a traitor, and the traitor is not "patriotic because he dissents".

I could go on and on about why this movie is a rare masterpiece in this age of anti-nationalist movies, but
basically the resistance to cultural destruction is finally given voice.

I'm really surprised that both you and Mike Blowhard missed this. Not a single subversive message in the movie -- for example, no Spartan woman fell in love with a Persian soldier, showing that "true love conquers all". Instead they fought to the death to preserve borders, language, culture...and the message was gotten across to a mass audience with the wink-nudge deniability that the left has perfected.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I think you might enjoy Vice magazine's anti-boomer issue, "The Vice Guide to Killing Your Parents":

http://www.viceland.com/int/v12n8/htdocs/
the_vice.php

Anonymous said...

Ah, but the medium is the message, no? Blowhard did not miss the point, not at all. If its content was 'right-wing, pro-freedom' (debatable given the militarism of the film), then what was its form? 'Pumpy' indeed.

Ron Guhname said...

Yeah, books like The Bell Curve and g Factor have gone over like lead balloons because they appeal to men, not pie-in-the-sky teenie boppers (of all ages).

Muswell Hillbilly said...

Anon,

No, Blowhard was right. 300 was a movie suffused with adolescent sensibilities throughout. Despite the superficial sops to conservative ideals, that is all inconsequential compared to the bulldozer of emotional adolescent postures, which are inevitably prone to liberalistic values.

Michael said...

Hey, I'm honored. Many thanks.

Best comment about "300" of the many that turned up on my posting: "It's a Nike ad."

Reg C├Žsar said...

Yes, but the "Boomers" didn't create themselves-- they were the Frankenstein work of "the greatest generation". That august cohort which made Playboy profitable, threw out the Hays Code and abortion laws, elected Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Carter-- in succession!-- and used the GI Bill to run away from their hometowns. Oh, and destroyed the career of any officeholder who dared question Social Security.

Anonymous said...

Anyone knowing anything about the Spartans knows how ironic it was for them to be yelling about freedom in 300. Not much longer after the events depicted in 300 they asked the Persians for help defeating the Athenians, and became so paranoid about slave revolts (they had huge numbers of slaves to support their unbalanced society) that they would hardly leave their cities even when in danger.

testing99 said...

Steve the reason is that the Boomers held on to power for far longer than any other generation. It's why music, movies, books, all form of creative endeavor suck.

Because it's all in amber, in 1968 (which Ed Driscoll has covered in spades).

cabrolet said...

they had huge numbers of slaves to support their unbalanced society

Yes, Sparta was degenerate in their embrace of slavery as institution. Yes! There were so many other civilizations around the world at that time that rejected slavery on moral grounds - but Sparta was uniquely evil. Yes, of course.

Right, A-hole Anonymous? Why don't you produce a list of civilizations that rejected slavery in the time of Sparta? So we can all keep score as to who exactly was moral, and who was immoral?

Here's an inconvenient truth: Present-day slavery (and also historical slavery) is unremarkable and acceptable - as long as the slavers aren't white. Indeed, a lot more people lived and still live in slavery around the world post-1865 then did in America pre-1865.

Middle Ages slavery of Europeans by Muslims is unremarkable today. And Jewish agency in that industry is also very unremarkable.

Yes, alas, all American schoolchildren recognize the term "slavery" as applying directly and exclusively to the business practices of the pre-Civil War Southern plantation owner.

Shocking facts! The Middle Passage slave industry shipped many, many more African slaves to South America than North America. Heresy! Yes, some things just can't be discussed in polite company. And don't you even dare talk about the Jewish role in that dirty business that went on in South America. We must concentrate solely on the North American white Christian slave owner! From now until the End of Time!

Yet slavery is, in fact, common around the world today. Still Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton don't seem to give a damn. Imagine that. Why could that be? Maybe A-hole Anonymous will explain the interesting facts of slavery around the world, from ancient times until the present.

Anonymous said...

> "It's a Nike ad."

Yes. But the key difference is that it is a "Nike ad" that does not enjoin us to worship blacks.

I know. That does sound harsh. But then think about what you see on MTV, and tell me again whether that is not the constant message on TV.

Michael Blowhard, I ask you to watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlF5C0iPcpg

That's a "beer ad". But it would NEVER EVER be shown on American TV, for all the obvious reasons. In ads like that and movies like 300, you can see the tiniest hint of what might happen if the majority was in control of the culture again.

I'd love to see you break that video down on your blog (I'm generally an admirer, though I admit to frustration with your on-the-other-handism). I hope you can see the power of it.

> all inconsequential compared to the bulldozer of emotional adolescent postures

Spoken like someone who *wants* his movement to die.

No movement can long survive without some appeal to youth. The decline of the right is directly attributable to its lackadaisacal attitude towards leftist indoctrination of youth.

Arguing with a college educated adult who has been through 20+ years of leftist indoctrination isn't going to shift the needle on basic premises except in a very few cases, most of which are to be found here on this blog.

The left appeals particularly to young women, by cloaking itself in caring. The right must appeal to young men in unapologetic terms, or it will continue to die.

Glaivester said...

300 was one of the most right wing, pro-freedom movies made in the last decade.

From your description, it sounds like it is more of a right-wing, pro-culture movie than a right-wing pro-freedom movie.

And as the third anonymous poster pointed out, the comments about 300 being an adolescent movie are about the style, not the themes.

Anonymous said...

Vice magazine's anti-boomer issue

That is an awesome issue. The links are pretty subversive themselves, e.g. a link to "coloring the news" under the media rather than something about Fox News.


Vice is interesting because the proprietor has realized (sort of like the Exile) that the _real_ rebel today is he who has the courage to laugh at politically correct BS. I remember he wrote something about Buchanan a while back.

I'd bet $100 that Christian Lander of Stuff White People Like reads Vice and has been influenced by it.

Anonymous said...

the comments about 300 being an adolescent movie are about the style, not the themes.

Bashing 300 disdainfully completely misses the point. It's like calling the Passion a "slasher flick". It's repeating leftist talking points. 300 stands head and shoulders above
"Good Night, Good Men", "Rendition", "Crash", "In the Valley of Elah", "Syriana", and all the other Hollywood bilge that openly or tacitly mocks the virtues of America, the white nuclear family, self defense, and free enterprise.

You're not going to win the key argument of our times -- do nations matter? -- solely by writing about it on the web. People need to see movies that defend nationalism in heroic terms so that you have a common frame of reference. Think about it: 300 contains not a single "holy negro" (as David Ehrenreich puts it), corporate villain, or military conspiracy! I mean, when's the last time you saw heroic white men fighting *for themselves*? Zulu, maybe?

Remember: WW2 movies like Band of Brothers don't count. The "Why We Fight" portions always make it very clear that they were fighting as "righteous gentiles" rather than in defense of their culture against alien hordes. Civil War movies again don't count. Whites fighting for blacks or they-who-shall-not-be-named always get a pat on the head from the media. Their reward? To come home to find their neighborhoods flooded with section 8ers while their military is being fleeced to the tune of 300 mil a pop.

Given this context, I was surprised and taken aback by Steve and Michael Blowhard's review, because it signaled to me that after a lot of thinking they *still hadn't gotten it*. The aesthetics might be a matter of taste, but the all important political message was not. Steve understands the political power of movies -- that's why he reviews so many of them. So does Michael Blowhard. And so did Willi Muenzenberg:

http://www.reason.com/news/show/27732.html

"One of the most pressing tasks confronting the Communist Party in the field of propaganda," wrote the indefatigable Comintern agent Willi Muenzenberg in a 1925 Daily Worker article, "is the conquest of this supremely important propaganda unit, until now the monopoly of the ruling class. We must wrest it from them and turn it against them." It was an ambitious task, but conditions would soon turn to the party's advantage.

Every iSteve reader will find that article enlightening (it came out before Nick Gillespie's undistinguished time there). You can play the same Solomon, Rothblum, Levenson game there. For bonus points, read some Neil Gabler's "Empire of their Own" right afterwards, and finish up with a little Yuri Slezkine and a nice Chianti. Then start putting 2 and 2 together regarding why movies like Zulu, Death Wish, Red Dawn, and 300 are once-in-a-decade flicks while every month brings yet another Nazi movie villain.

Anonymous said...

cabrolet,

Learn some history. The Spartans had conquered neighbouring city states and turned their inhabitants into slaves (well, "helots", actually - low-level serfs). So unlike other ancient societies, where slaves might be a third of the population or so, in Sparta the free population was a small minority. This is the usual explanation for Sparta's hyper-military character: fear of revolt by the helots. This idea has been a commonplace for centuries.

Oh, and don't call people "a-holes" without provocation.

intellectual pariah

Svigor said...

I could go on and on about why this movie is a rare masterpiece in this age of anti-nationalist movies, but
basically the resistance to cultural destruction is finally given voice.


I didn't dig 300 that much personally (I found the style distracting), but politically I'm a big fan.

Yeah, you can go on and on about 300. They give Quasimodo a chance (well, they don't kill him on sight or drive him away), and he screws them, that's about as illiberal as it gets.

Anonymous said...

cabrolet,

Sparta was completely different than other slave societies. They had literally enslaved entire nations so that they could devote themselves to the unproductive military arts.

side note: I've tried to get past the goddamned captcha 4 times now. WTF? I'm entering it correctly.

Blode said...

Yeah, I agree that Michael B. and Steve S. missed the boat on this one. A big-budget f/x fest was marketed to and succeeded among adolescents, so what?

People say the Spartans were portayed unrealistically for two reasons: exaggerated expectations of realism in a fantasy movie, and, more importantly, forgetting important stuff that was actually in the movie. The "unrealistic Spartan family values" thing is mainly in the imaginations of certain audience members; just because a man wanted to defend his community and didn't cheat on his wife doesn't make him some kind of American 50s Christian.

Blowhard says: "The Spartans in "300" aren't the Spartans I've learned about: deeply conservative, suspicious to the point of paranoia, fascistic and totalitarian, willing sacrificers of children, oppressors of their own subjects..."

"Fascistic" in perhaps the most anachronistic possible way to describe them: what political movement is more a child of the 20th Century than fascism? Where is the Futurist art, the commitment to state control of heavy industry, the slick, scientific propaganda machine? Totalitarian? With an elective senate and kings? No, they were just another (non-anachronistic) Greek oligarchy, albeit with more slaves. "Willing sacrificers of children"? Eh? Do you not remember the ass-load of skulls in the first scene?

And no, the movie isn't the slightest big "gay". There is nothing inherently gay about men being fit ... I resist the notion that a man must prove his heterosexuality by being out-of shape and uncultured. Projecting backwards, all men's clothing styles from the past look approximately gay because no one knows what it means to be a man any more. Get a modern young (uncultured) man to make up the elementary male clothing style and he will basically come up with black denim trousers and a black t-shirt. Simple as that.

People most likely to be off-put by the style and the message were Boomers - that is my guess. 300 was no more unrealistic than the predominant leftist anti-European view of history, it just has a contrasting message. That is why it sticks out like the inviting nail. (And no, I'm not saying Blowhard and Sailer like the prevailing anti-Euro thing, just that they are taking a swords-and-practically-sorcery movie way too seriously.)

Anonymous said...

Calling 300 "gay" is like calling the Passion "violent", or calling Watson and Summers "arrogant". It is mindlessly repeating particular, selectively applied talking points. You didn't come up with those insulting angles yourself.

I said "selectively applied". That is important. Notice that those are talking points which appear at first glance to appeal to right-wing virtues: heterosexuality good, family-friendly entertainment good, humility good.

But whenever the media is denouncing something in terms congenial to the right, you can bet that it's extremely important and threatening. Using both right ("it's gay! it's violent") & left ("it's fascist! it's anti-Semitic") barrels on something is how they try to set the level of support to zero, to undercut support among nominal defenders as well.

How many times did you hear stuff like:

"I'm not denouncing Watson because of his comments, but because of his inexcusable arrogance"

"I'm not against 300's political message, just its aesthetics"

You know what that is? Those are the comments of someone on the right who is either clueless or afraid.

Clueless: doesn't understand that sticking together is *important* when you're under siege

Afraid: realizes this, but doesn't want to go out on a limb; thus, faux denunciations for ostensible transgressions against the right serve to balm a guilty conscience. For who wants to sell out a friend?

The point is selective application.
You see this a lot. Go back and look at the reviewers who called the Passion "violent". Then read their stuff on Kill Bill. Do the same exercise with people who've written about Watson and Gould, both of whom have healthy egos.

Question: did anyone call "Amistad" or "Roots" gay for having many shots of muscular black guys? No! Wake up and realize that you are mouthing the talking points of your enemies, meant to furnish you with a pretext for attacking your friends.

Remember, the other team is constantly, constantly, constantly vigilant for any sign of deviation from the leftist agenda; here's a good sample of the genre:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/aug/04/thesimpsonssellout

And here is a good list of left wing movies, which starts to show you what we're up against:

http://www.changesurfer.com/Acad/Films.html

Anonymous said...

'right-wing, pro-freedom' (debatable given the militarism of the film)

If you are on the right, you know that the military is necessary for freedom.

The scenario portrayed in 300 is one of defensive war, of defending a land against invaders. So the posited contrast between "militarism" and "freedom" is nonexistent.

One can be sympathetic to the idea that we might want to scale our commitments back overseas without falling into the naive libertarian fantasy world, where borders protect themselves.

If you don't fight to defend your borders -- and not just your physical borders, but your cultural borders as well -- you lose your freedoms. There is always someone seeking to take your territory. How else did white men suddenly wake up to find themselves jailed or fined for "hate speech" while rap about killing cops is at the top of the charts? How else did the children of America grow up to learn that Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman are the most important and noble figures in American history (Google it)?

How else did white men wake up to find a country with quotas against them in every sphere, with their culture and patrimony mocked daily on the television and big screen?

Because they didn't fight, or because they fought and lost. A right which abjures vigorous self-defense -- part of which is viewing "militarism" with suspicion -- is a right which is not long for this world. Young boys and men _want_ militaristic role models. If you don't give them organized violence, they will gravitate towards the chaotic black anomic violence of rap, whose message is to destroy your civilization and women rather than to protect them.

Anonymous said...

A popular course in Britain is media studies where 16-18 yr olds spend their lessons watching TV and movies and deconstructing them from a largely marxist standpoint.

What makes the whole exercise ironic is that while uncovering the secret messages from The Man in the media they seem to overlook the fact that much of what they are de-constructing is written and directed (and performed by) marxists and liberals.

travis said...

As an ex-marine, I find people often exaggerate the importance of propaganda. Most of the guys I served with were, to use the title of Jim Webb's book, "born fighting." Anthony Swofford successfully captures the mentality of the grunt in his memoir Jarhead:

There is talk that many Vietnam films are antiwar, that the message is war is inhumane and look what happens when you train young American men to fight and kill, they turn their fighting and killing everywhere, they ignore their targets and desecrate the entire country, shooting fully automatic, forgetting they were trained to aim. But actually, Vietnam war films are all pro-war, no matter what the supposed message, what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson in Omaha or San Francisco or Manhattan will watch the films and weep and decide once and for all that war is inhumane and terrible, and they will tell their friends at church and their family this, but Corporal Johnson at Camp Pendleton and Sergeant Johnson at Travis Air Force Base and Seaman Johnson at Coronado Naval Station and Spec 4 Johnson at Fort Bragg and Lance Corporal Swofford at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base watch the same films and are excited by them, because the magic brutality of the films celebrates the terrible and despicable beauty of their fighting skills. Fight, rape, war, pillage, burn. Filmic images of death and carnage are pornography for the military man; with film you are stroking his c----, tickling his b----- with the pink feather of history, getting him ready for his real First F---. It doesn't matter how many Mr. and Mrs. Johnsons are antiwar — the actual killers who know how to use the weapons are not.

Bill said...

Good point, Travis.

But about the generational thing -- it's lagged a bit. I am a genXer. Nothing to proud of, to be sure, but follow boomers we did not.

I see the kids today, some ten years younger than me, and I am astounded by their naivete and goodwill. It's because they were more fortunate. They drove late model cars in high school, while we puttered around in old hand-me-downs if we were lucky enough to get them. I got my first job in the middle of a recession, whereas most of them never even worked until they got out of high school.

Real white poverty, which is just making a comeback, is alien to them. It's a foreign concept.

The "puerile bilge" a lot of my generation got from boomers was straight up sexual exploitation. It was a disgrace what happened in the 1970s and 80s to the family and the entire concept of decency. That was checked somewhat in the 1990s, and has fortunately turned around a bit.

As a youngish, but maturing guy, I have recently spent some time around what I consider "kids" (early to mid 20s), and I can't believe how trusting they are around me. People my age were never that way, because there was always some creep willing to take us for a ride, and we learned that pretty young.

If there's any reason teens and 20-somethings are as trusting as they are today, it's because the generation before them - genXers - was never so lecherous as to teach them otherwise.

Boomers were the ultimate exploiters. To them that was a way of life, and it had little cost. For us, it resulted in broken families, sky-high youth violence, and a general atmosphere of despair and insecurity.

These kids you see now were cushioned and insulated from that. Good for them. I just hope we astonished, jaded genXers can provide some protective wisdom to them.

Concerned said...

The Spartans really were gay. I mean, literally. They had hetero relations to procreate. Their form of marriage was to abduct and rape the bride, whose head was shaved to resemble a boy.

I don't mean they were just situationally homoerotic. They were gay, ghey, ghay.

Michael said...

Is there a good reason why all the "anonymous"'s won't go to the trouble of using a real pseudonym? It'd really make taking part in these discussions a lot easier.

Anyway ... And not that it matters, but ...

I think the main "anonymous" here is making a good point about why the film succeeded with a lot of young dudes -- the frankly stick-up-for-square-values line it's peddling. Sparta vs. Persia in the movie is clearly a little like "the frat boys vs. the art-school kids," or "the white kids vs. multicultural onslaught."

Given what a corny, a-historical, TV-commercial film the movie is, I'm surprised that anyone took the movie all that seriously in terms of its content and its message, but I guess they did. It's always worth paying attention to what people get out of movies.

A quick chatting-about-the-arts lesson, though: When talking about movies or books or paintings, you aren't debating scientific truths or untruths, you're comparing responses, feelings, perceptions, and hunches. In the case of "300," for example: Guys in the audience apparently loved the film's message; they *also* took to the film because of its style. These two points aren't in conflict; both of them are worth noting. But there's no reason the conversation should end there either. There's much else that's worthwhile that can be said about the movie, no doubt.

Good lord, the determination some people have to turn artchat into "I win / you lose"-style intellectual debate" ... It's artchat, dudes. You're saying something interesting or you aren't.

Dean Venture said...

I'm a dyed in the wool left winger and Greek history nut who recognized that 300 was almost completely ahistorical and politically dubious (the Persian imagery seemed calculated to make Edward Said roll over in his grave). But I still really enjoyed it as a rousing, "campfire story" version of Thermoplyae which used cool imagery and entertainingly over the top performances to tell a story about bravery and dedication in the face of overwhelming odds. I love action movies too much to let politics get in the way of enjoyment-- the pickings would be pretty slim, otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, the determination some people have to turn artchat into "I win / you lose"-style intellectual debate" ... It's artchat, dudes. You're saying something interesting or you aren't.

Mr. Blowhard, you are forgetting that this is a culture *war*. Things that you prize are under concerted assault. Atomized individual preferences are well and good, but this is _culture war_, as you well know from Stanley Rothman's book.

So we are not the ones who turned this into a "win/lose" intellectual debate. I'm sure that some of the people on the other side felt a pang or two of regret while damning a work of art like "The Passion" as a run-of-the-mill slasher flick. But they didn't let it slip in print.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter how many Mr. and Mrs. Johnsons are antiwar — the actual killers who know how to use the weapons are not.

But the killers are not the ones who make the decision to send men out into the field. Propaganda has an effect. You think the endless stream of Renditions and Redacteds and Syrianas and Crashes don't matter?

Imagine instead a movie which contrasted the coverage of Abu Ghraib with the Mohammed cartoons, making the explicit point that the media is all too happy to play up stories that will get soldiers killed, but that will cover up stories that might result in a car bomb flying through CNN headquarters.


Or for a less neocon-ish angle, imagine instead what might happen if one hundred intelligent white men took it upon themselves to spend a few hours a week coordinating quietly amongst themselves, working out talking points and hammering out a party line that everyone can agree on -- including use of language -- and then writing letters, swarming comments sections, and generally being pests to overwhelm by sheer force of numbers, without the crudity and stupidity that characterizes idiot lairs like Stormfront and VNN?

Most newspapers that receive 100 angry letters on an article will start taking notice. Pick a different target each week and focus a collimated beam of wrath.

Start linking to thugreport and setting up your own sites. Include video and audio, from cameraphone clips, because video cannot be denied.

What if one hundred white men set as their goal the conversion of two -- more is better, but at least two -- others? By conversion, this can mean something as simple as regularly starting to read alternative media like VDare and the real news (the Forward and Haaretz) rather than NPR, CNN, the New York Times, Fox, and Rush.

If you push hard for each person you convert to convert just two more people to a weekly meeting, interesting things might start happening.

michael farris said...

Okay, I finally saw 300 and .... didn't think much of it.

Beyond historical inaccuracies (which generally don't bother me in movies like this) the basic problem was that I couldn't suspend disbelief. Little boys treated the way they are in the movie don't grow up into valiant brave warrior-family-men - they grow up into being thugs or paranoid rageaholics (kind of like the real Sparta).

Besides that, bad pacing, not enough rhinos and too many snappy comebacks. Since when were the Spartans masters of bitchy reparte?

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Almost every line in the movie that was a snappy comeback is from the historical record.

"[Spartans] lay down your weapons"
"Persians, come and get them"

A paraphrase, but documented by Plutarch.

"Our arrows will blot out the sun"
"Then we will fight in the shade"

Moved into a different context (a Spartan speaking to a Persian emissary) but also part of the historical record (Herodotus in this case).

The Spartans were actually famous for their wit.

-Steve Johnson