Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sean Astin, Progressive Caricature

As I was writing my previous post, I began conjuring a Hollywood-oriented analogy for what conservatives and liberals are like. If one takes the view, as I do, that one of conservatism's primary roles is that of a cautioner (pace Bill Buckley's famous "stand[ing] athwart history, yelling 'Stop!'"), whereas progressivism and liberalism tend to be rash "experimentalists" -- a view I have increasingly gathered via Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism -- a particular image emerges from an unlikely place: the film The Goonies.

We conservatives are like Chunk, the fat kid in the movie. He is constantly urging his "friends" NOT to progress in their quest for One-Eyed Willie's treasure, which could only be viewed by a rational individual as a fool's errand that couldn't possibly end well. While I can't (without rewatching it) quote any specifics for you, it is easy to imagine Chunk exhorting his friends, "I don't think we should go in there", or "I don't like the looks of this place". And like conservatives in contemporary culture, Chunk is presented as unsympathetic, cowardly, and xenophobic.

Meanwhile, oblivious to all Chunk's cautionary ejaculations, we have Mikey. Mikey is the perfect analog to liberal progressivism. His family's poor and facing the loss of their home, you see (at the hands of Evil Corporate Interests, no less), so he has to go on a Quest, endangering himself, his friends, and his loved ones in the process, with no clear outcome in sight, but only because he "has to do something!"

Of course, this being a typical Hollywood production, the liberals win, the treasure is found, and the town is saved, in typical fantasy fashion. In real life, the kids would have been robbed and beaten by the Fratelli brothers, gang-raped by Sloth and Ma Fratelli, then left to die of exposure in the dank basement of the abandoned restaurant hideout. If only they had listened to Chunk. On the bright side, at least the Evil Corporate Interests would have been able to proceed with their strip-mall intentions, thus revitalizing the decrepit slums that Mikey and his friends lived in through economic incentives.

(Author's note: I actually really like The Goonies. It's one of my favorite films from the 80's, and is actually very fun to watch. Sometimes, though, I just can't help myself.)

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Marty said...

You know, your blog is gonna get flagged as inappropriate in a lot of places. Gang rapes of children! And Chunk's ejaculations! I know, you can't help yourself...

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that The Goonies was most assuredly a movie and not a film.

ST

10:31 PM  
Anonymous a liberal who also likes The Goonies said...

Very flawed analogy, but amusing. I think one could also argue that Mikey is a greedy conservative with only his self interests at heart, and that the corporate interests symbolize big government exercising eminent domain. ;o)

1:28 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

As I've said elsewhere (your blog, I think, Marty), I'm really trying to rehabilitate the word "ejaculate".

Sam -- it was printed on film. So it was a film. If I wanted to sound like a pretentious twit, I would have called it un piece de cinema or some such nonsense.

"AM" -- welcome! On the contrary, just because a symbol can take on multiple, sometimes even disparate meanings, does not mean that pointing out one of those meanings is somehow flawed. And since Mikey was trying to save the... er... "village" (perhaps the "village" that HRC insists "it takes"?), he was clearly working toward "The Greater Good" and not necessarily his own self-interest. Ergo, liberal (again, as seen through the eyes of a liberal screenwriter).

And don't get me wrong -- I couldn't stand Chunk, and rooted for Mikey the whole way. Nobody with any sense denies that Hollywood is liberal, so it's perfectly reasonable to assume that the characters with whom the audience is expected to sympathize would convey the author's preferences and prejudices.

8:51 AM  

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