Recognizing a novelist’s, filmmaker’s, or visual artist’s influence on society is perfectly acceptable as long as those Cultural Influence Professionals nudge folks in the liberal-left direction, and one limits comments to description alone. If, however, you criticize or create work that pushes back against this influence be prepared to suffer slings and arrows.

Times Arts Correspondent Ben Hoyle noted J.D. Salinger’s influence on American youth. Catcher in the Rye, Hoyle noted,

had spread its influence into many undernourished corners of cultural life. Along with Elvis Presley’s music and James Dean’s swaggering Rebel Without a Cause persona, it was Salinger’s Caulfield who best dramatised the emergence of a defiant youth identity in 1950s America. It helped to create demand among young people for their own cultural products, a demand that would fuel the youth cultural revolutions that convulsed the West, and later the whole world.

Salinger helped to invent the notion of teenage angst, and is a father figure to everything from punk music to Donnie Darko, and Bart Simpson to The Graduate. In music, Guns N’ Roses and Green Day are two of the modern bands who have worn its influence most explicitly. In film, the director Wes Anderson often features troubled young protagonists clearly descended from Caulfield.

I doubt Hoyle will be described as a cultural philistine for describing the novels, music, and movies that “helped invent … teenage angst” and fueled “youth cultural revolutions that convulsed the West.” Suggest, however, that promoting leftist “youth cultural revolutions” and “teen angst” damages society and hamstrings young people maturing into adults, and suddenly one is persona non grata.

When I noted that Hollywood’s dominant Left-wing ideology limits a culture of liberty and personal responsibility, I was taken to task for despising art and promoting some grand conspiratorial cabal that meets in back rooms and bans nonconformists. Andrew Klavan criticized the Hollywood creative class for elitism and responding “so shabbily to 9/11.” Los Angeles Times film critic Patrick Goldstein got indignant and charged Klavan with being a pop-culture detesting right-winger who believes “Hollywood is chock-full of leftist dilettantes who disrespect all sorts of important cultural icons.”

One can describe the content produced by Cultural Influence Professions and, every so often, its influence, but one dares not judge. This isn’t to say that liberal critics won’t judge a work’s content and its cultural influence. When a work doesn’t jive with the dominant liberal narrative then judging content is not only acceptable, it is darn near required. Only leftist ideologues can judge cultural influence. The rest of us should limit our comments to simple description. You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t dance to that tune.