Jonah Goldberg, that pop cultural savant, recently wrote a piece called, “Our Conservative Popular Culture: Does the Left really have a monopoly on storytelling today?” In it he argues that, “Conservatives refuse to celebrate, or even notice, how much of the popular culture is on their side.” Part of this has to do with what might be called a bunker mentality; we have been taking cultural hits from the left for so many years that we just assume it’s all against us. But nothing could be further from the truth. As he argues further about why popular culture is more conservative that we think:
One explanation is that while it is true that culture is upstream from politics, reality and, I would argue, morality are upstream from culture. Good stories must align with reality and a sense of justice. They can be set in space or Middle Earth, but if they don’t tap into something real about the human condition, they will fail. As Margaret Thatcher used to say, “The facts of life are conservative.”
It would be hard to find a better example of that than the latest Marvel blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, which my 12-year-old son persuaded me to see this afternoon. I’m glad I did. It’s raucous fun (the first time I’ve ever used raucous in a sentence!), and an entertaining morality tale. We see all kinds of conservative and traditional values like honor, sacrifice, loyalty, goodness, faithfulness, friendship, and the greed and lust for power is duly punished. And not only this, but it ends with an affirmation of the family, and guess what kind of family? It is something truly radical and counter revolutionary, something that can’t be mentioned in polite society: mom, dad, married, child!
How does such a movie get made? Most Americans, the vast majority of Americans in fact, regardless of their political orientation, are conservatives and live their lives as such. They don’t want to upend traditional morality because without the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule, life would be exactly what Thomas Hobbes said it would be, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Hollywood is of course full of lefty, secularist progressives, but that stuff doesn’t sell very well. Now we know why; reality won’t cooperate.