Aug 28, 2020
Rightwing Culture Critique: ’12 Years’ Unfair To All The Happy Slaves, ‘Frozen’ Will Turn Kids Into Gaysicles
Frontline reports from the Culture Wars: Our Oscar winners are full of leftist propaganda! Best Picture 12 Years a Slave is historically inaccurate, only depicting unhappy slaves with cruel masters, and ignoring the many “contented” slaves. And even this year’s Best Animated Feature, Disney’s Frozen, should be avoided since it encourages children to become gay. We just love it when rightwing thought leaders go to the movies.
Over at the American Spectator, James Bowman is very unhappy that so many people who should know better are are talking about Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave as if it depicted the full “reality” of slavery. The issue, he says isn’t really whether it “expresses a truth about chattel slavery as practiced in the American South before 1865″ — he very graciously allows that maybe it does — but whether it expresses “the truth”:
In everything I have read about it, the assumption seems to be that it leaves nothing more to be said on the subject.
As proof, he presents quotes from a couple of “credentialed historians” who he thinks should know better than to praise the film for recreating the “realities of life” in slavery. Well, by golly, this simply will not do, says Bowman, because if, like Eric Foner, you call a movie “much more real, to choose a word like that, than most of the history you see in the cinema,” then you have crossed over the line from history and “into politics,” which as everyone knows are utterly separate things somehow.
The problem, you see, is that McQueen has presented far too narrow a view of the peculiar institution:
If ever in slavery’s 250-year history in North America there were a kind master or a contented slave, as in the nature of things there must have been, here and there, we may be sure that Mr McQueen does not want us to hear about it. This, in turn, surely means that his view of the history of the American South is as partial and one-sided as that of the hated Gone With the Wind.
Why, oh why can’t movies be more like a Davide Broder column, with equal balance given to all sides? You see, by labeling slavery “bad,” historians actually blind themselves to the beautiful diversity of reality:
That professional historians among others insist on calling such propaganda “truth” and “reality” and condemning anyone who suggests truth and reality might be more complicated than that is one measure of the politicization of historical scholarship in our time — to a level, perhaps, rivaling even that of film studies.
It’s not that Bowman thinks slavery was good, mind you, oh no, certainly not — but in only showing slaves being whipped and overworked, the movie — and indeed, the so-called “historians” who praise its “realism” — adopts a
cartoonishly simple-minded view of the vast and fascinating sweep of the past [that] cuts them off from learning anything from it that they don’t already know … Yes, there was much cruelty and hardship in the slave-owning South, as there has been in most of the rest of the world most of the time, and Mr. McQueen’s camera is all over that. But it strains ordinary credulity to suppose that there was nothing else.
Unless we are very much mistaken, Bowman appears to be calling for some sort of affirmative action program for depictions of kind slave-owners who took excellent care of their human property, perhaps with quotas, even. Frankly, we’re only surprised that Bowman didn’t also drag out the old “you know, Africans had slaves, too!” argument.
From Bowman’s pseudo-intellectual concerns about the “narrowness” of thinking that slavery was bad we now move to the far less nuanced paranoia of our favorite minor-league rightwing radio preacher, Colorado Springs’ own Kevin Swanson, who has previously suggested that Mark Twain was under the influence of demons and that most girls who go to college become ugly feminist whores. His newest discovery is that Disney is “the most pro-homosexual organizations in the country” and that lots of naïve Christian parents are naïvely taking their innocent children to see Frozen, which is exactly what Satan wants them to do. With his cohost Steve Vaughn, Swanson discusses the possibility that the Walt Disney Corporation is actually owned and operated by Satan Himself (a proposition we could actually believe, albeit for different reasons):
Swanson: If I was the Devil, what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds in Christian families around America?
Vaughn: I would make a movie.
Swanson: I would buy Disney. If I was the Devil, I would buy Disney in 1984, that’s what I would have done.
Why 1984? Well, it’s the year Splash came out, so maybe Touchstone Pictures is of the Devil. It’s also the year that Saul Steinberg launched a hostile takeover and Michael Eisner became the head of the studio and Disney moved toward making its big gay musicals like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Cool conspiracy story, bro!
And all those Disney movies are just chock full o’ sin now, making “sin look enticing” according to Vaughn. He doesn’t actually say what sins, but we bet they involve being someone’s guest and belting out ballads. Swanson spells it out for listeners:
Friends, this is evil, just evil. I wonder if people are thinking: “You know I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way.” I wonder if the average parent going to see Frozen is thinking that way. I wonder if they are just walking in and saying, “Yeah, let’s get my five-year-old and seven-year-old indoctrinated early.” You know they’re not, I think for the most part they’re oblivious. Maybe they do pick up on pieces of it but they just don’t get up and walk out.
We haven’t yet seen Frozen, but we weren’t aware that it promoted the gay agenda, and Swanson doesn’t get specific; we’ll guess that his fears are stoked by internet response to a blogger who claimed that the main character’s struggles with her magic freeze-ray powers is an allegory of being gay — Elsa at first tries to hide her magic, then accepts it as part of who she is, and “comes out” into a world where she can be fabulously magical. No telling if that’s what Swanson objects to, or just that the snowman lisps or something.
In any case, Disney’s trying to make your children gay, so make sure that they know the whole story about how some slaves were really quite contented and well-treated, the end.