Cancel Culture and Art: the Scorched-Earth of Cultural Division

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Last week I submitted and had published at PJ Media a review of Will Ferrell’s latest feature film, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. Though PJM is a political site, I decided to keep politics out of it. Aside from a brief reference to Ferrell’s partisan leanings, which I felt was obligatory, I did just that. My goal was to write a straight review which for the most part might appear in any magazine, or on any website.

Is it ever okay for conservatives to write positively about the works of liberal or Democrat artists? Does arts-targeted cancel culture, on both sides, extend without quarter to the entire entertainment industry?

Is it possible to strongly disagree with an artist’s political ideology and praise the work? In the current climate, sadly, I’m thinking not.

My review, in the opinions of the few people who commented (I have no idea how many page views Ferrell’s mug generated), went over about as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell’s arrival at a chili cook-off. The resistance was to Ferrell himself, and by extension, Hollywood. The sense of it was: how dare I sing the praises of and promote a film from this politically retrograde celebrity?! Though few people weighed in, any poll of conservatives would probably reflect similar disapproval.

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One commenter noted, to paraphrase, that a celebrity like Ferrell would like to see sites like PJ Media shut down, and shamed this website for publishing the piece. Another commenter was blunter, saying that I should be fired.

That’s fine, that’s the way it works. I get my say, then everybody else gets theirs. Interestingly, a family member of mine, an old-school Democrat, liked the review, and told me that I was submitting such content to the “wrong website.”

I understand the push-back from conservatives. The nation is in a very precarious position. It is all or nothing for the cause. Artistic merit be damned, no quarter can be given to the enemy, which is the left in all its powerful iterations. Hollywood, academia, the Democratic Socialists, and Deep State, all must be utterly obliterated. I get that and have made it my personal business, within my limited sphere of influence, to support conservatism, specifically in the last several years in terms of unequivocal support for President Trump.

Here’s the hard-line position in a nutshell: No matter the quantifiable artistic merit of a movie, book, or recording, if the politics of the creators aren’t right, conservatives can’t be giving aid and comfort to the enemy in terms of nonpartisan appreciation for an apolitical job well done. Not in the situation America finds itself in on the eve of the 2020 election. (Or ever?)

Don’t get hung up on Fire Saga, it’s no Schindler’s List. But the point was made clear by the few people who bothered to weigh in.

Even if the work in question can be argued to promote conservative values, as I believe Fire Saga does (the beneficial societal effects of marriage, family, and national pride) it’s the people behind the film-making, the writers and influencers behind the heartwarming or grippingly exciting story, the actors, and the entire infrastructure of the left-leaning entertainment industry, that must never be deemed praiseworthy in any context.

It’s important that conservative pundits and critics scathingly review works that promote-either overtly or surreptitiously–discredited, harmful, or untruthful leftist values and worldviews. That kind of manipulative rubbish must be thoroughly deconstructed. But what about when a work is just plain good, regardless of who created it? I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of great conservative-created films and books out there. But the fact remains that if you remove every left-leaning or Democratic artist out of artistic or cultural consideration simply because of their politics, you’ll have to write-off a lot of good stuff.

Author Stephen King, an outspoken anti-conservative, wrote a great novella, The Body (later made into the film Stand by Me.) Do we reject author, book, and film?

It is easy to intensely dislike someone like Stephen “cock-holster” Colbert for his foul disparagement of the president, or the insipid Jimmy Kimmel, for making his child’s illness all about his Trump Derangement Syndrome. I can’t image anything those two individuals could produce that I would be able to stomach, because of who they are.

It’s more difficult with Will Ferrell. He is likable. He may be a Democrat, a 2016 Hillary Clinton supporter — which, IMO, is political madness. But while his political views are antithetical to everything I believe is in the best interests of the United States — although I doubt he would support canceling conservative websites-my reservations about his politics have not risen to the point where I cannot enjoy his comedies.

Andrew Breitbart’s pronouncement about politics being downstream from culture was a call to arms for conservative and traditionalist artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians to boldly go forth with works that evoke conservative, traditionalist values. Is it possible that there is also a need for conservatives to occasionally review apolitical works created by leftist artists absent the overlay of conservative socio-cultural analysis?

With America hanging in the balance, and cultural warfare storming every front, it seems we are at a place where the answer to that question is as unequivocal as my support for President Trump.

No.

Mark Ellis is the author of A Death on the Horizon, a finalist in the 14th annual National Indie Excellence Awards in the category of General Fiction. Follow Mark on Twitter.

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