defending our culture

There are many things we’re not allowed to do any more. We’re not allowed to defend our borders. We’re not allowed to defend our industries. But perhaps most important of all, we’re not allowed to defend our culture.

In this instance I’m talking mostly about popular culture, although the argument also applies to so-called “high” culture as well. Popular culture has often been despised but it’s an essential ingredient of our identity as a people.
Back in the 60s and 70s leftists often talked about “cultural imperialism” but it’s a term you don’t hear very much these days. The reason you don’t hear about it very much is because it’s incredibly important. You can always assume that if a topic is forbidden it’s because it’s important.
Globalism aims at a single global market and ultimately a single global government (a totally undemocratic global government of course) but it also must lead inevitably to a single global culture. We can already see what that global culture is going to look like and it isn’t pretty. Moronic Hollywood movies, hip hop music, reality TV shows. And that global culture is going to be in all essentials an American culture. The processing of imposing American popular culture on the whole planet started a century ago but it’s become steadily more insidious and steadily more deadly. 
Most popular culture tends a little towards trashiness. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s good trash culture and there’s bad trash culture. There’s harmless trash culture and there’s harmful trash culture. Good trash culture is basically lightweight throwaway entertainment. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Personally I happen to enjoy lightweight throwaway entertainment. I can appreciate grand opera and High Renaissance art and the novels of Joseph Conrad but there are times when I just want to read a detective story, or watch a silly 1950s sci-fi B-movie, or a harmless TV cop show.
The problem is that popular culture today comes with extra added ingredients – political messages and (even more worrying) subtle and not-so-subtle social propaganda. It is more and more difficult to find pop culture that doesn’t glorify promiscuity, or sexual perversion, or push an anti-white anti-European agenda.
And that’s why the Americanisation of global popular culture is a cause for concern – modern American popular culture is stridently politically correct and pro-globalist. It also happens to be, ironically enough, strongly anti-American. It is cultural poison to Americans, and it is cultural poison to everyone else. It aims to destroy traditional American values, and it aims to destroy the traditional values of every other nation.
I don’t want this to come across as an anti-American rant. Most modern British and Australian pop culture is every bit as bad. It’s just that modern American pop culture is more dangerous because it’s so all-pervasive and it’s marketed so aggressively to the rest of the world.

I also want to make it clear that I have a great love for American popular culture of the past. There was a time when America had a genius for producing marvelous pop culture.
Australia is particularly vulnerable because we’re still comparatively speaking a young country. European settlement in North America began a couple of centuries before European settlement in Australia. By the mid-20th century Australia was just beginning to develop a recognisable and distinctive popular culture. In the 1930s Australia had a thriving film industry, making movies that were often surprisingly ambitious (such as Forty Thousand Horsemen). Much of our pop culture was heavily influenced by British and American models but it was starting to acquire an Australian flavour. That’s all gone now. What passes for Australian pop culture today is simply third-rate copies of the worst of American pop culture.
That’s what used to be called cultural imperialism and it does matter. Even European nations with their much stronger indigenous traditions are going to be powerless to resist the onslaught. Even non-European countries are going to lose their cultures. We’re heading for a globalist popular culture and we need to recognise that this is yet another aspect of the evil of globalism. It’s a way of weakening us so that we will willingly accept the entire globalist package. And that means the destruction of any sense of national, ethnic, racial or cultural identity.  
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politically incorrect books – Bulldog Drummond (1920)

Books don’t come much more politically incorrect than the Bulldog Drummond novels of H. C. McNeile (published under the pen-name Sapper). The first in the series was Bulldog Drummond, published in 1920. Apart from being politically incorrect these books are enormous fun. My review of Bulldog Drummond can be found on my book blog here.

Things get even more politically incorrect with the second book, The Black Gang.

The first four Bulldog Drummond novels from the Carl Petersen tetralogy which I recommend in its entirety.

fighting the mass media addiction

In Addicted to Distraction Bruce Charlton argues that “the mass media is evil – indeed in modernity it is the very source and focus of evil.” He believes that the only way to deal with mass media is to avoid it, and that “the most dangerous delusion is that you personally can filter the Mass Media, decode and see through its biases, selections and lies to discern the truth of the situation.”
He tells us that overcoming this addiction will be unpleasant in the short term but that the long-term rewards make the effort worthwhile.
I have myself tried, reasonably successfully, to break my addiction to the mass media. I do not watch any contemporary television. I do not watch any movies made within the past thirty years, and very few made within the past fifty years. I do not read contemporary fiction. I avoid newspapers. I cannot say that I have broken the addiction entirely but I think I can say that I have gone a long way towards doing so. And it is worth doing. 
I have to admit that my own cure has been a partial one. The difficulty with going cold turkey on mass media is to find a substitute. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys gardening or going for long walks. I’m the sort of person who avoids exercise like the plague. I have no interest in sports or games. My own solution is to immerse myself in the past. 
I still watch television; I just don’t watch the television of today. I still watch movies but the movies I watch are generally movies made seventy or eight years ago. I read novels, but I confine myself to novels written prior to the Second World War. I do not lack for entertainment. In fact I find myself facing an embarrassment of riches. Not only do I still get entertainment – the entertainment provided by the popular culture of the past is infinitely superior to that provided by the dreck that constitutes modern popular culture.
I’m not sure that Bruce Charlton would regard me as cured. He might well think that my cure is a bit of a cheat. I still consume popular culture even if I limit myself to the popular culture of the past. I have to admit that my approach is something of a compromise but then life is very often a matter of accepting compromises. 
My own view is that the mass media is certainly toxic, and that it becomes more toxic with each passing year. By confining my exposure to popular culture to the popular culture of the past I at least avoid the more virulent strains. There is still a good deal of propaganda in the movies and television of the past but opposing viewpoints do occasionally get a hearing. The propaganda is less strident, and not so remorseless. It is easier to avoid the more extreme propaganda. In the past there was still room for dissenting voices.
Avoiding mass media altogether is unquestionably a desirable goal. Those unready to take such a drastic step might find that my approach has something to recommend it. 
I have found that the more I focus on the past the more rewarding it becomes. My enthusiasm for the books, movies and television of the past has led me to create several blogs devoted to these subjects – Vintage Pop Fictions (devoted to pre-1960 genre fiction),  Classic Movie Ramblings (dealing with the movies of the past) and Cult TV Lounge (television of the 50s, 60s and 70s).

My main motivation in starting these blogs was that almost every existing blog and website I’d found devoted to these subjects had a leftist bias. 

Dirty Harry revisited

Dirty Harry was one of the more controversial Hollywood movies of the 1970s, and four decades later it can still provoke very heated responses. What made it controversial was not so much the subject matter, or even the stance taken by the movie, but the fact that the movie was clearly intended to be deliberately provocative.
I hardly think it’s necessary to spend too much time on a plot synopsis. This is a movie that is well and truly, for better or worse, part of our cultural fabric. But for those who may somehow have contrived to miss this movie, here goes. Inspector Harry Callahan of the San Francisco Homicide Squad is no stranger to unpleasant cases but he is about to face a case that will take him to the edge. A serial killer who calls himself Scorpio, has demanded $100,000 or he will kill a random victim every day. There are no obvious leads and all the police can do is to increase surveillance – the killer favours shooting his victims from the rooftops of tall buildings so the police are trying to cover as many rooftops as they can and are putting considerable reliance on helicopter patrols.
These routine precautions are very nearly successful, but this killer seems to have uncanny luck in being able to slip away from neatly impossible situations. After almost being killed by the police Scorpio decides to up the ante. He kidnaps a 14-year-old girl and doubles his demand for money. Callahan gets the very unpleasant, and very dangerous, job of acting as the bagman when the City decides to pay over the money. Callahan and his partner are almost killed, Callahan is viciously beaten, but Harry gets his man. Or at least he thinks he’s got his man, until the DA informs him that he infringed the suspect’s civil rights and that Scorpio will walk free. Harry knows that this is not the end of the case, that guys like Scorpio go on killing because they enjoy it, and that sooner or later he will get his chance to nail the killer. The question is, will more innocent lives be lost because the DA allowed Scorpio to walk free?
Dirty Harry was greeted by howls of outrage from liberals in general and from liberal film critics in particular. What really fueled the outrage was that the movie was a very deliberate and calculated assault on certain cherished liberal beliefs. Harry Callahan does not see criminals as victims and if he has to choose between the rights of a suspect and the rights of a victim he has no hesitation in ignoring the rights of the suspect. He is quite unapologetic about it, and the movie is equally unapologetic about it. It’s important to note however that the movie doesn’t suggest that the rights of suspects should be ignored; it merely suggests that it’s a delicate balance and that the balance may have shifted too far. The movie also points out the unpalatable truth that the rights of suspects and the rights of victims of crime are in some cases absolutely irreconcilable. Whether you agree or disagree with the movie’s stance there’s no doubt that it’s an effective statement of that stance.

What gives the issue particular bite is the fact that the bad guy, Scorpio, is very much aware that the legal system is stacked in his favour. He knows how to play the system and he does so ruthlessly. He uses this to taunt the police.

Some critics at the time took their opposition to the movie to remarkably silly extremes. When people (as Pauline Kael did) start throwing the word fascist around it’s always a bad sign. 
I usually try to avoid becoming bogged down in overtly political interpretations of movies but in the case of Dirty Harry there’s really no way of dodging the issue. 
There’s also a sense in which Dirty Harry can be read as film noir. The Scorpio case will plunge Harry Callahan into a nightmare world in which he scarcely knows which way to turn. He is both physically and psychologically beaten to a pulp. He tries his best but he always seems to be too late to save anyone. Whether his descent into the noir nightmare world is the result of his own character flaws is something that can be debated. Maybe he could have handled some situations more effectively, but the fact is that any police officer faced with a case such as this one would come up against the same problem, a criminal who knows how to use the system. Harry becomes increasingly obsessed and perhaps his sanity is even threatened. Harry has never questioned his own moral code but now it seems that knowing what’s right isn’t enough. By the end of the movie he’s an embittered man, his faith in the system hopelessly shaken.
This is an exceptionally well-crafted and stylish movie. Don Siegel was a great action director and he is in top form. The first half hour of the movie takes place mostly in bright California sunshine but then it all starts to get very dark, with lots of night shooting with absolutely minimal lighting. 

This is the movie that made Clint Eastwood a true cultural icon. The role had been offered to various other actors, including Steve McQueen and Robert Mitchum. Frank Sinatra was actually signed to do it at one stage but had to back out. 
Mention must be made of Andy Robinson as the psycho killer – it remains one of the most disturbing performances of its type.
Dirty Harry has lost little of its edge. It can still push people’s buttons and it’s still a stylish and effective crime thriller. And it’s one of those movies you just have to have seen. Highly recommended.

1950s Hollywood anti-communist movies

I’ve been getting into 1950s anti-communist movies recently. These movies have for years been dismissed by liberal film critics as paranoia movies. In fact they depict the activities, the methods and the mindset of communists pretty accurately. And at least a couple of these movies can be regarded as pretty good examples of film noir.
I’ve reviewed two these films recently on my classic movies blog – RKO’s 1949 production The Woman on Pier 13 (originally released as I Married a Communist) and Warner Brothers’ 1950 offering I Was a Communist for the FBI. The latter was based on a true story. Both movies deal with communist infiltration of labour unions, which was in fact one of the favoured methods of the Communist Party at that time, both in the United States and in other countries.
If these movies have a fault it’s perhaps that they let the unions off the hook too easily, but Hollywood has always been a union so it was unlikely that a movie critical of the union movement was ever going to get made. In fact given the large-scale real-life communist infiltration of Hollywood and the domination of Hollywood by liberals it’s surprising that these anti-communist movies got made. The only problem with the movie industry’s response to communist infiltration, the blacklist, is that it didn’t go far enough.
Both of these movies are worth a look, both for their historical interest and as worthy examples of the film noir of the period. They’re a reminder of a time when Americans were still willing to fight back against leftist tyranny.

film noir and cultural marxism

Whether film noir is a genre or a style has been endlessly debated but either way it is extraordinarily popular among film school types. It’s easy to see why. Film noir is all about victimhood. The film noir protagonist is always doomed. In our modern age, an age that sees victimhood as the highest achievement to which anyone can aspire, this is clearly going to be a very popular film form. And since academics have been to a large extent responsible for creating the cult of the victim their enthusiasm for film noir is hardly surprising.

Of course true victimhood requires that the victim should have no responsibility for his own fate. Ideally society, or capitalism, or the patriarchy, should be responsible. This creates a minor problem since many film noir victims are clearly victim of their own personal inadequacies or poor judgment. Film academics however are not going to let such trifles bother them and they have been able to produce interpretations of most of the films of this type that satisfy their political agendas.

That’s one of the reasons that there’s such an immense amount of writing on the subject of film noir. Without guidance there’s a danger that viewers might fail to interpret these movies correctly. Academics are only too willing to offer that guidance. One of their favourite methods of dealing with film noir (and with many other Hollywood movies as well) was to see such movies as explorations of the dark side of the American Dream. It goes without saying that to a modern film academic the American Dream only had one side and that was the dark side.

In fact quite a few movies in this genre were written or directed by people who were blacklisted. This increases the appeal of film noir enormously. The left-wing political slant doesn’t always have to be added by the film academics; in many cases it’s there already. By the time American film noir began to emerge in the early 1940s whining was already well and truly established as a favourite liberal pastime. Most of the writers or directors who were blacklisted really were communists or communist sympathisers and they did their best to give their movies a left-wing slant. The communist domination of Hollywood uncovered by the HUAC investigations was no figment of the conservative imagination.

Most film noir however was more than just political propaganda and many of these movies were not inherently left-wing at all. Some of the finest examples of the form such as Out of the Past (1947) and Double Indemnity (1944) deal with people who are clearly doomed by their own weaknesses and their own poor choices. Film academics nonetheless manage to twist all movies of this genre into the correct political shape.

Some of the most interesting examples of film noir were directed by German expatriate Fritz Lang. If you read interpretations of Lang’s movies by academics you’d be likely to conclude that Lang regarded the United States with loathing. Actually Lang liked the United States very much. You’d also be forgiven for concluding that Lang was first and foremost a political film-maker. In fact Lang was a Catholic and his religious faith was the major influence on his work. Lang is often described as a fatalist whereas he described himself as a fervent believer in free will. You Only Live Once (1937) is the most obviously Catholic of his American pictures but his Catholic beliefs are present in all his movies. One of the most frequently misinterpreted of Lang’s film noir efforts is The Big Heat (1953). The accepted critical view is that the cop is the bad guy and that the movie is an indictment of the corruption and violence of American society. In fact Lang made it quite clear that the movie was about the devastating effects of crime on the individual. The cop is the hero, which is in fact quite clear to anyone who watches the movie without a political bias.

There’s a great deal to enjoy in film noir. These were some of the most stylish American movies ever made. Like most important art the best of them deal with universal and eternal themes. Some have irritating political elements but most are far more complex than mere political screeds. There’s no reason to let academics prevent us from enjoying them.

reading for misery

One of the most depressing things about the rise of political correctness is that it takes the pleasure out of everything. Including reading. Especially reading. It’s obvious that anyone today who has been exposed to the poison of political correctness finds it very difficult to read for pleasure. The main purpose of reading today is to search a book for examples of thought crime. Every page has to be obsessively combed through for any hidden sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia. etc. The reader’s task is to look for things to get angry about, things to get offended by. Everything has to be deconstructed to the point of destruction.

This is incredibly sad. I’d have thought that the purpose of reading was to find things to be uplifted by. To find things of beauty. Or things we can learn from. Whether you’re reading great literature or lightweight beach reading the ultimate aim is enjoyment. Great literature offers more complex enjoyments but the principle is the same. There’s no point in reading if it offers nothing but misery.

Great literature might, and in fact probably should, encourage us to think as well, but increasing our understanding is pleasurable. If a book offers us spiritual truths then that is something that will makes our lives better and richer.

Literary criticism in the past was focused on finding the good stuff in books, not the bad stuff.

The same argument applies to watching movies, looking at paintings, listening to music, any kind of cultural pursuit.

I’m constantly saddened by people I encounter on the internet who are no longer capable of getting enjoyment out of anything. Recently I came across an internet post by a woman who was going through agonies over her favourite television show. Everything about the show seemed perfect. It had non-white people. It had gays. In fact it had wall-to-wall gays. But there was no transexual character! This woman was torturing herself with the thought that maybe this was indicative of some deeply hidden transphobic agenda. Which of course meant she’d have to stop watching the show! Even modern American television with its mind-numbing monolithic political correctness was still not politically correct enough for her. She is a person doomed to perpetual anger and misery because she will never be able to stop searching for hidden non-PC meanings and subtexts.

That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons conservatives are happier and better adjusted than leftists. We still allow ourselves to get some enjoyment out of life!