Conservative vs. Liberal movies

It’s really a toss-up as to what forum to put this in, but CS seems a good start.

I saw Bill Maher talking about a list of greatest conservative movies, so I decided to do a little research about the movies that defined as conservative or liberal, and why they are so defined. THis was a bit more difficult than I expected – as usual, conservatives outdo liberals in labeling things. So while I found a bunch of seemingly legit conservative movies lists made by conservatives, many of the “liberal” lists I found were created by conservatives to warn against them. In the end, I went with 3 conservative and two liberal lists.

The Conservative lists:
50 best conservative movies from the National Review
Top 10 Conservative Movies of the Modern Era from The Telegraph
Great conservative movies from Conservapedia

The Liberal lists:
Top 25 Liberal Movies of the Last 25 Years from the Daily Kos
Top 10 Classic Films with a Social Message from

Saving Private Ryan and Brazil are claimed by both sides in at least one list. And while I’m interested in what you think about whether particularly movies deserved the label or not, I’m more interested in what the criteria are (or should be) for putting a movie on either side of the ledger.

My own opinion is that these conservative list makes have decided that “heroism” is a conservative value, maybe THE conservative value, based on so many hero movies on their lists that seem to me to be otherwise non-political. Another thing that seems clear is that “anti-totalitarianism=conservative” in their view, which I don’t buy as true. The liberal lists seem to me to be more consistent, though not completely so, about about addressing specific social issues and portraying what many of us would view as liberal solutions.

And there are some claims that I find pretty wacky – Ghostbusters is a conservative film? Groundhog Day too? The Deer Hunter is a liberal film? Saving Private Ryan is either?

So whaddya think?

Bob Roberts is one of my favorite liberal films.

I bet that a lot movies can be interpreted either way. Just yesterday I watched this Bill Maher clip.

I guess it has something to do with the apparent agenda of the director.

Coming Home
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Easy Rider

My Son John
The Green Berets
Red Dawn

The National Reviewer list has Team America:World Police as a conservative movie. They must be taking the piss.

When the team shoots down Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn, how could they be anything other than conservative?

I really think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of satire and parody among these conservative reviewers. If there was a list of best conservative tv shows, no doubt they would put The Colbert Report on it.

Well, it is an antiwar film, so yeah, I can easily how liberals would claim it as one of their own.

Looking at the list from the National Review, I’m kind of surprised at the inclusion of “A Simple Plan,” as basically the entire theme of the movie is “money is the root of all evil.”

How the hell can a piece of fiction be liberal and or conservative? What next, liberal foods? Conservative sports? Bipartisan poetry readings?

Quiche and arugula are certainly liberal. Football has a level playing field and is winner-take-all, which sounds like conservative talking points to me. Fiction can’t help but express its author’s worldview and agenda; how can it not be liberal or conservative?

If the writer has an agenda, or at least a proclivity, either way, it can show. It’s not hard to see the liberal aspect of MAS*H the TV series. “Brokeback Mountain” would likely be widely considered as liberal too. Any movie with a ready acceptance of drugs such as a Cheech and Chong movie is liberal. “Reds” can safely be classified as liberal. Movies with strong censorship of nudity or the like are likely conservative if the ideas are conservative as well. I think “Dragnet” is fairly conservative.

Another vote for Bob Roberts.

And don’t forget that in it Sir Jack Black appears in his first role. Brilliantly, I might add and pre-KG.

The question reminds me of the controversy over whether Invasion of the Body Snatchers was symbolic of Communism, or, as some said, of McCarthyism. Obviously, it was neither, it was symbolic of authoritarianism, of which Communism and McCarthyism are but two of (sad to say) many subsets thereof.
Likewise “liberal” and “conservative”: just two flavors of authoritarian control, presented to you as opposites of a totality so you’re conned into believing you have a choice.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker are classic liberals aka small L libetarians

Some of the Conservative choices do little more than play into mindless conservative stereotypes about liberals. The most egregious choices as “conservative” movies, in my opinion, are those that portray the horrors of communism. The National Review list is topped by The Lives of Others, and the Telegraph list contains The Killing Fields.

These only really qualify as “conservative” films if you buy into the right-wing stereotype that liberals are the same as, and are admiring of, totalitarian and murderous communist regimes. The vast majority of my friends describe themselves as liberals or leftists, and not one of them, as far as i know, has any time at all for the East Germany of the 1980s or Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia.

While many modern conservatives might enjoy portraying American liberalism as one short step from Stalinism, that is a completely dishonest assessment, and the two films mentioned hold just as much appeal for liberals as they do for conservatives. The fact that The Lives of Others topped the National Review list is especially amusing, considering that the National Review was among the conservative organs that spent so much time cheerleading the Bush administration’s efforts to wiretap its own citizens.

And therein lies the problem, right?

Describing a movie with a libertarian outlook as “conservative” raises some real questions of definition. While libertarians and traditionalist conservatives might find some common ground on issues such as taxation and spending, they are light years apart on questions of government’s role as an arbiter of social and cultural habits and mores.

These sorts of issues have dogged American conservatives since WWII. William F. Buckley managed to bring the libertarian and traditionalist intellectuals together, and there was something of a common purpose among libertarian and traditionalist conservatives under Reagan and even up through Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. But it’s always been an uneasy relationship, borne more out of a desire to beat liberalism than out of any real common purpose, and you can see the tension in the current battle for the Republican Presidential nomination.

Libertarians might often vote Republican, and they have, at various times, fallen under a broad definition of American conservatism, but they really aren’t the same thing as traditionalist conservatives. Ask a traditionalist conservative, someone who is religious and believes in biblical notions of morality (there are plenty of them in America), what he or she thinks of Stone and Parker’s movies. Ask someone from Focus on the Family or any one of the dozens of other “family values” or “traditional morality” conservative organizations. I doubt you’ll find many of them praising Team America.

Having a slanted worldview is different from "being conservative or liberal fiction. Kipling often reads like the manifesto of the Raj, he historically had little time for colonialism. Also, I find the choices in the links a little difficult to swallow as well as the examples given above.

Much as the original *Manchurian Candidate *was lambasted both by the right-wing and left-wing press when it came out. I suspect the people who made it were hoping for that kind of reaction.

Well, it is somewhat hawkish, especially the “dicks, pussies and assholes” bit. Whether you consider this to be conservative is another question.

I can’t get the Telegraph list to load, and the Conservapedia is full of liberal trolls, but from the others, I think the difference is that the Conservative list went more for the best conservative movies, while the Liberals went for the best liberal movies. The National Review list has quite a few movies that are just good, period, while the Daily Kos list gives four of the top ten positions to Michael fucking Moore.