Pop History

I have another half-assed theory about how to evaluate a period’s history: Pop culture.

This is hardly new in itself — there are historians whose entire specialty is pop culture (and an entire “discipline,” so-called “American Studies,” where dorks who couldn’t cut it in a real history program write long jargony “dissertations” about comic books and South Park).  But their productions are of limited value, because as you’ve probably guessed, it always turns out that CisHetPat Capitalism is at the root of everything.

Instead, I think you can get a pretty good line on a culture by looking at its most escapist entertainment forms, and assuming the opposite.  Take horror movies, for example.  Stephen King floated this idea in his weird, self-indulgent, obviously cocaine-fueled nonfiction book on horror, Danse Macabre.  You don’t have to be Marshal McLuhan to see that the “big bug” movies of the 1950s were, like Godzilla, responses to our anxieties about nuclear technology.  And techno-anxiety in general is one of the wellsprings of horror, starting with Frankenstein, both novel (1818) and movie (1931).  But King takes it a step further in his discussion of The Amityville Horror movie (1979).  At the depths of Carter’s stagflationary malaise, King heard an audience member behind him gasp “think of the bills!” as the demon wrecked the house.  What an odd reaction!

But it makes sense in the context of the times.  And watch what happens next — Carter’s out, Reagan’s in, and all of a sudden horror movies are about unstoppable spree killers: Friday the 13th (1980); A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).  Notice the overlap, too — an early spree killer movie in the last of the Carter years (Halloween, 1978), and a bill-busting haunted house movie in the early Reagan years (Poltergeist, 1982).  And a few techno-horrors as the nuclear clock stays set at 11:59 — The Thing (1982); The Fly (1986).  Even Romero’s zombie movies Dawn (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), though usually read as critiques of consumer culture, are just as much about social breakdown — a whole world overrun with Jasons and Freddie Krugers.

Fast forward to the War on Terror years (notice how few true horror movies there were in the nice, safe, prosperous 1990s!).  It’s either torture porn (Saw, 2004; Turistas, 2006) or demon possession (The Conjuring, 2013; Drag Me to Hell, 2009), or social breakdown (28 Days Later, 2002).  They’re all about mere survival, against evil entities with no motivation except pain for its own sake, who strike anywhere, anytime, for no reason.  Sound like anything in the Bush years?  And they’re still going strong — cf. It Follows (2014).

Pop music follows a similar pattern.  When there’s war, either actual or likely, you get nice bright shiny happy music – rock in the 50s and 60s, disco in the 70s, techno in the 80s, hedonistic tween pop now.  But when things are great — as in the 1990s — you get songs about how awful everything is (grunge, nu metal).  The only caveat here is that you have to look at what’s actually on the charts, not just what you think is going to be there — Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane never sniffed the top 10, and the only Doors songs to do so were treacly pop crap like “Touch Me.”  Acidy stuff was there, but most “Sixties” music shared chart space with, and usually lost out to, crap like “Harper Valley PTA” and “Sugar Sugar” (the top song of 1969, the very year of Woodstock!).

It’s not perfect, but it’s a decent metric.

Oh No!!! PURGES!!!!!

Herr Trumpf is purging “principled conservatives.”  Also known as…wait for it…. dissidents!  (Remind me: Is dissent the highest form of patriotism again?  Or are we all supposed to get in line behind the John McCains and Mitt Romneys of the world, because that’s what “principled conservatives” do?)  Anyway….

Whether the establishment political class was on board with Trump from the beginning (and most were not), they are going to use loyalty to Trump as an excuse to purge conservatives of conscience from having any political work at all. And the people who still remain opposed to Trump are the same people who are likely to align with the conservative troublemakers in both the House and the Senate. With the willing aid of the Trumpkins, the goal is to crush Cruz’s actual and ideological allies and drive them from the party.

The only named “actual and ideological ally” of Ted Cruz?  Ben freakin’ Sasse.

As the Z Man quips, Ben Sasse is the epitome of the Trotsky Wing of the Republican Party.  His resume reads like something I’d make up to lampoon guys like Ben Sasse:

He spent a year in the dreaded private sector after college and then got on the gravy train of government work. A dozen years on the dole and runs for Senate and is now the shiny new penny “representing” Nebraska, a place he rarely visited for twenty years prior to his election. Instead of working his way up from dog catcher or state rep, he just parachuted into the Senate without much vetting.

Let’s see…yep: “consultant” (=lobbyist) for a year, then a year as “consultant/executive director” at some evangelical (=lobbying) group, then Homeland Security, HHS, and the Senate, with some Obama-style “professor” gigs thrown in.  Government or academia — when he’s not in government, or lobbying the government, he’s “teaching” government.  Dude is 44 years old and has never, ever held a job that didn’t involve kneepad service to the leviathan state.

What principle could he possibly have acquired, in all those years working his fingers to the bone shuffling regulations in the belly of the beast?  He’s a full time tax code comma-juggler…. but he gives the occasional shout-out to Jesus, so he’s a “conservative.”

Just for giggles, I googled Redstate’s last two endorsements for president: Bible-thumping no-hoper Rick Santorum (because he’s against abortion and global weathering) and that truest of true conservatives, the lisping Cuban Cabana Boy himself, Marco “Bootsie” Rubio, because “electability.”   I’m trying to figure out what “principle” this track record hews to… nope, coming up empty.  Unless, of course, it’s the principle of “throw the election to the Democrats, then climb up on our cross and scream ‘forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do’ at every possible opportunity for the next four to eight years.  Oh, and please donate!  Paypal, Patreon… it’s all good.”

The old 90s-style culture wars are dead, y’all.  You want to know why Republican voters don’t care about abortion anymore?  I’ll spell it out for you in little bitty words: IT’S THE FUCKING IMMIGRANTS.  The very same self-righteous Churchians who are out there marching for life are helping Obama import Aztecs and Muzzies as fast as they can fill the cargo holds.  The Constitution isn’t a suicide pact, and neither is the Gospel. The rest of us can see that for every baby you save from the butcher’s knife — and it’s a laudable goal, God bless you — you’re disemploying five American citizens, three of whom will be wounded in next week’s outbreak of Sudden Onset Jihad Syndrome.

While all that’s going on, the wonkblogs are yelling about “purges,” as if stone-faced men in jackboots have hauled poor Ben Sasse off to a meeting with a rubber hose and some thumbscrews.  In reality, of course, he’ll be back in the Senate sponsoring vital true conservative legislation in no time.  And should he be ousted in his next reelection bid — perhaps because the voters of the great state of Nebraska couldn’t pick him out of a police lineup — he’ll be right back on K Street the next day, true conservatively lobbying Congress for more true conservative pork.

But don’t forget: it’s e before i in “gleichschaltung.”  PURGES!!!!

Ahem, “Man” Enough

man enough for hillary

Err … no

Yeah, a whole bunch of us who are supposedly (because of our political alignment) too macho (“not man enough”, in their view) to vote for a woman voted for McCain because of Palin, in spite of our disdain McCain. So it fails in its intention right there. They’re beating a dead horse. Fighting an SJW battle that was legitimately won long ago. Just setting it up so if she loses it will be because “patriarchy”. Yawn.

Next, we’re looking at a guy with perfectly quaffed hair combined with what I believe they call “ironic facial hair” in the “lumber sexual” style, who has covered himself in tattoos … I’m guessing because he realizes he’s not “man enough” on the merits of his personality so he compensates with cliche “tough guy” visual social signals. He probably arranges flowers. (Not that there’s anything WRONG with that.)

assume genderLast, but certainly not least, we have the arrow in “Her” pointing to … er … him? In this day and age of not “assuming” anybody’s gender where it would be downright hateful and bigoted for a woman to tell him to get the hell out of the women’s room where he’s just walked in on her — probably gives us an indication on where Hillary stands on peeing (pun intended).

And we don’t even need to go to the syphilis poster connection.  Our idiocracy is certainly infected with something.

PUAs Discover Stupid Professor Tricks

Chateau Heartiste is a very entertaining “Game” blog, which has just discovered one of the Stupid Professor Tricks.  On substituting various euphemisms for the word “race:”

What is it with lunatic libs and their pathological compulsion to deny the reality of race? “Red” and “blue” are social constructs to describe real world differences in colors, but that doesn’t mean the visible light spectrum is imaginary or a tool of the oppressive White patriarchy. All words are literally social constructs — labels created by social humans — to describe real world phenomena. Leftoids can call it “ancestry”, “population locations”, “human migration patterns” or “geography-based groups” that “correlate” with “sociological concepts of race”, but it’s all just legerdemain-slash-poopytalk meaning the same as race.

Times like these make the whole Explaining Academia series worthwhile.  I often wonder if anyone even cares about this nonsense…. but then some of it slips out into the real world.  So, for the benefit of PUAs everywhere:

In academese, social construction means “an incontrovertible, easily observed part of Reality that we wish to deny, for fun and profit.”  You’ll notice that, say, Marxism is never referred to as a “social construction,” though it’s the very definition of a community-based reality.  Nor are conservative, Right wingnationalist, or any of their synonyms, though again, they are entirely the creation of social groups, for social purposes — every theology requires its devil, after all.   Ditto capitalism, for the same reason — if it weren’t empirically real, they’d too obviously be tilting at windmills.

But race? Gender? You can’t get tenure saying “boys are boys and girls are girls,” and the ivory tower would be about as diverse as a Huffington Post editorial board meeting if they admitted that race is a real thing.  Thus, they are “social constructions.”

You Have No One to Blame But Yourselves, Media

Ace of Spades notes that, to hear the media tell it,

some good-hearted, well-meaning rioters were peacefully rioting down the street when they were hate-accosted by some Trump supporters who had gathered in a hate rally.

And there you have it.  It doesn’t surprise me that the GOP establishment is so clueless — they are, after all, the Stupid Party — but you’d think at least a few media types would have something on the ball.  But I guess they don’t, so it’s up to me to spell it out for them.

Yo, Media: The American people hate you.  Fucking hate you.  They hate you here, they hate you there, they hate you way up in the air.  They hate you on a mat, they hate you with a bat.  Anyone you’re against, we’re for; anyone you love, we hate.  If you gave Jesus Christ Himself the kind of coverage you give Obama, we’d all turn Muslim.  And if you gave Beelzebub your Donald Trump treatment, the Church of Satan would become the biggest denomination in America overnight.

You guys are at least 50% of the reason for Trump’s political existence, and you’re handing him the election.  You have no one but yourselves to blame.

Destruction is the Point

Ace of Spades reports on the latest SJW cultural freakout: Make James Bond a woman!  He asks:

Why is the Social Justice Warrior imagination so incredibly stunted that it cannot even imagine imagining its own new things? Why can it only imagine old things, given a new racial or sexual make-over?

Why are they altogether incapable of any kind of creative or productive thought whatsoever?

And concludes:

Oh that’s right: Because these are stupid, useless, trivially-minded people.

Which is true, but that’s not the reason they can’t create new pop culture.  They’re remarkably creative when it comes to inventing new “fundamental rights,” “penumbras,” and so forth.

Rather, it’s because creating entertainment isn’t the point.  They don’t want to be entertained… not in the way normal people understand it.  Their entertainment is watching others suffer.  They want “Jane Bond” because it’ll destroy “James Bond.”  That’s all there is to it.

Which is creativity of a sort, if you believe Bakunin — “the urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

The Wisdom of Jon Bon Jovi

It’s all the same

Only the names have changed….

Culturally, America has always been split between Cavaliers and Roundheads.  The latter are Puritans, whose creed H.L. Mencken quipped was “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”  The former are proud, liberty-loving wannabe aristocrats, who tend to place their pride and love of liberty above such petty stuff as common sense.

Politically, the split is between Federalists and Anti-Federalists.  Federalists want the government to serve the people; Anti-Federalists want the government to leave the people alone.

It has been this way from the minute the first boot from the Mayflower touched land, and if you want a quick and dirty version of the major events in American history, try figuring out which group was which in each time period.  As politics is downstream from culture, you’ll see some spectacularly odd combinations… usually right before some very bad shit was about to go down.  And if you can’t find one or more of the groups represented in electoral politics at a given time, it’s dead certain something awful is about to happen.

It’s important to notice, however, that there’s no necessary, or even natural, connection between the cultural and political groups.  All combinations are possible.  The original Puritans of Massachusetts Bay set up a theocracy, yes, but unlike their English brethren, they dealt with dissent by simple banishment.  And their descendants had no problem signing off on the Establishment Clause while setting up official churches within the several states.  And students of the Civil War will note that The Slave Power Conspiracy were, despite their states’ rights rhetoric, as Federalist as they come — the SPC, in the form of the Democratic Party, handed down the Dred Scott decision, pushed the Lecompton Constitution, and waged an obvious war of conquest to extend slavery.  They put through the gag rule, and controlled the discourse to such an extent that neither party dared mention slavery during presidential campaigns.  They were perfectly happy with federal power, so long as it benefited them — aristocrats tend to like the government they’re in charge of.

The bad stuff happens when one of the groups gets lost in the shuffle.  Politics just before the Civil War, for instance, completely marginalized entire groups that together made up the vast majority of Americans.  Where were the Roundheads in the Democrat / Whig contests, or the Anti-Federalists in the Democrat / Republican ones?  If you didn’t want to die for slavery one way or the other, you had no representation at all.

We’re seeing the same type of splintering today.  Both parties are chock full of Federalists, and both of them subscribe to the new Roundhead religion of globalism and anti-“racism.”  Cavaliers have effectively been outlawed — this is the “war on masculinity” the “alt-right” keeps talking about — as has Anti-Federalism.  Where could you possibly go to escape the reach of the American government?  Globalize or die.

Or vote Trump.  His candidacy shows just how far the old coalitions have fractured, and how unnatural were their marriages of convenience in the first place.  He’s seen a million faces of Americans who have been effectively disenfranchised, and he’s rocked them all.

Paradigm Shift?

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “paradigm shift,” but probably haven’t read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which introduced the concept.  I’m not going to claim that you need to run out and read it — I haven’t, and have no intention to — but “paradigm shift,” and its presentation, need a second look.

Most people think that “paradigm shift” just means “a new way of looking at things.”  And that’s what Kuhn wants you to think… when he’s speaking to laymen.  But doublespeak is the hoariest Stupid Professor Trick of them all, and so “paradigm shift” means something completely different when aimed at the anointed.  To “sociologists of science” &c, it’s an ironclad epistemological claim: You literally cannot think outside of your particular “paradigm.”  This thesis goes by various names — “frames,” “the Strong Programme [sic] in the Sociology of Science” — but it’s all the same thing: Knowledge itself is “socially constructed,” so you can only know what society, the media, the Patriarchy, capitalism, et cetera ad nauseam allow you to know.

Like all Postmodernism, the problem with this should be obvious.  It’s the Ishmael Effect — how did Thomas Kuhn escape his “paradigm,” to be able to tell us that nobody can think outside his paradigm?  Once again we find professors asserting for a fact that there’s no such thing as a fact.

And yet it’s not obvious.  In fact, Kuhn would say that noticing little factual discrepancies is how the “paradigm shift” happens in the first place — observations of celestial bodies don’t line up with Ptolemaic astronomy, for instance, and so along comes the Copernican revolution.  But, again, that’s just a PoMo speaking from both sides of his mouth — paradigms are incompatible, but somehow the one transforms into the other….

But now I’m wondering if he isn’t somehow right after all. See, for instance, this Cracked.com photomontage.  Specifically this

541398_v1and this:

541378_v1In both cases, the facts are well known, and easily accessible.  Re: more money, US per capita education spending is among the very highest in the world.  And there’s no correlation between spending increases and performance increases, as even the ultra-liberal HuffPo acknowledges.  And that’s with five seconds of googling.

With ten seconds’ worth of googling, we find that nope, not a single US state mandates teaching creationism in science class.  A handful require students to “critically analyze key aspects of evolutionary theory,” and two others allow (not require) “teachers and students to discuss scientific evidence critical of evolution.”  Hmmm….critically evaluating evidence and theories.  Gosh, that sounds like the very definition of the scientific method!

So maybe Kuhn is right after all.  Because these facts aren’t secret, they get brought up to liberals all the time.  You’ve probably done it yourself.  I know I have, and I bet your result was the same as mine — ad hom, then run away.  At the very best, you get a grudging acknowledgement that “some” studies “may have” said that… and five minutes later, they’re back griping about insufficient funding for public schools and those hicks in Tennessee mandating creationism in biology class.

They really can’t see past their paradigm.

A Succinct Illustration of the Multi-Use Bathroom Issue

Q: Why can’t trans people use the rest room marked with the gender they identify with?

A: Trans people using the ladies room is really not my primary concern. It’s what it opens the door to.

Q: But trans people aren’t any more likely to be predators than cis-straight ones.  So again, why keep them out?

A: I’m not arguing that. It’s actually the straight, as you say, ‘cis’ ones I’m more concerned about.

Q: What kind of straight ‘cis’ man is going to go in the ladies room just because nobody will stop them?

A: Exactly the kind you don’t want in there.

History in the Age of Asperger’s

Holocaustianity” is Vox Day’s ugly neologism for American Jews’ square in the great game of Victim Bingo.  Just as blacks explicitly claim they get a pass on dis-civic behavior because slavery, so American Jews implicitly claim a pass on their Israel-first behavior because Holocaust.  “Anti-semite,” therefore, is just another iteration of “racist,” and just as meaningless — Black Lives Matter types scream “racism” if the Mickey D’s window guy forgets to supersize their fries.  It’s what Orwell said “fascism” is all the way back in 1946: “Something not desirable.”

The interesting thing about “Holocaustianity,” though, is that the Holocaust actually happened.  I’d be willing to bet that more pages have been written on Nazism than on the Bible since the 1930s, making it the most covered topic in that time frame.*  And yet, the minute anyone makes a Third Reich allusion, some combo of three things always happens: someone yells “Godwin;” someone yells “anti-Semite;” some aspie comes along to tell you how wrong you are because Poland hasn’t been invaded yet.

The first two are meaningless — ol’ Schicklgruber himself would have Godwin called on him in five minutes if he posted on the internet, and “Holocaustianity” is a quixotic attempt to make “anti-Semite” a Godwin synonym.  The third, though, is fascinating.  As Nate Winchester says, the internet seems to make aspies of us all.  Is it just that some folks feel they have to say something?  It beats my pair of jacks, but it also kills conversation stone dead.  If those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, then we’re well and truly screwed, because the lessons of history work by analogy.

Thoughts?

 

*P.J. O’Rourke used to joke that he wanted all his book covers to have a picture of a Nazi getting ready to tee off on a cat, as golf, cats, and Nazis were the perennial top three topics in American book sales.