"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, January 13, 2006

Dance of the Gay Puritans

Our sharp-tongued pal Bern Chapin has written an excellent rejoinder to Mark Gavreau Judge's article on the American Spectator site in which the latter claimed that people on the Right should abjure popular pleasures such as NASCAR, country music, and even rock and roll and football, as well as down-home clothing styles such as tee shirts, sneakers, and jeans, and that we should all shop at Brooks Brothers instead of Wal-Mart.

On our site, Hunter Baker took exception to Judge's suggestion that Christianity requires an individual to wear certain types of clothes and enjoy certain types of entertainment, a claim which Jesus would certainly have found ludicrous. Hunter is absolutely right about this.

Judge seems to be going for a sort of Gay Puritanism here.

Hunter is correct to take him to task for it.

Now, as I said earlier on this blog, I do agree that "Most prominent conservatives today have little appreciation of the fine arts, and they show little respect for style, just as Mark says. Among the causes for this, I would suggest the fact that conservatism used to be a more elite position than it has been since Reagan, who made real the populism that Goldwater's candidacy had begun." (I then left Judge and went into a discussion of the Omniculture.) But Hunter and Bern are right to bring out these other implications of Judge's elitism. The notion that the right should be a movement of people who shop at Brooks Brothers and not Wal-Mart is a guarantee of marginalization. There just aren't that many people who can afford to do the former and not the latter. (Otherwise, the president would be a member of the Green Party.)

In addition and even more importantly (if you can imagine anything as being more important than partisan politics), it's silly to place stylistic litmus tests on morality. Either people love God above all things and love their neighbors more than themselves, or they don't. Wingtips and sneakers provide not the slightest clue of an individual's position on that—or, if anything, one would expect a person who really keeps those two commandments to be wearing the more humble footwear.

Of course, if one has a certain amount of the ready and has come by it honestly, sure, looking nice is better than being a slob, and attending to elevating and edifying art is far better than wallowing in trash. But the particular standards Judge is suggesting are overly specific and snobbish, and they also praise a phenomenon, "metrosexuality," that should be laughed right off the earth as soon as possible. As Bern says,

A metrosexual is one who possesses a woman’s taste, and anyone who has ever cringed at the color pink or had glitter rub off on them knows that female taste cannot always be equated with the word “good.”

Another mistake is apparent as metrosexual has never, to my knowledge, been applied to opinions about art and music. The term has always been used in reference to fashion, grooming, habit, and social interest. I have never heard it applied to intellectual interests, but that is an assumption on which the rest of the piece rests.

This is an important point. In praising "metrosexuality," Judge is, perhaps unintentionally but definitely, siding with the notion that the differences between men and women are not largely natural but are in fact culturally determined. This is a crucial point, and one which Judge really should revisit and reconsider.

So, thanks to Bern for bringing this to the fore.

In addition, I want to add an angry complaint about Judge's disgusting, outrageous dismissal of football as a low-class endeavor. That is a simply contemptible assertion: football is in fact the greatest sport of our time. It gives young men a way to excel in an area that the modern world seldom allows, and it is a thing of great beauty, complexity, and subtlety. It teaches individual achievement within a structure of essential cooperation. A boy who plays football, and to a lesser degree anyone who watches the sport, learns that group success comes from each individual doing the very best at whatever he or she has been told to do. It is a beautiful matter of individuals cooperating to bring their personal abilities together in a group effort. The team that wins consistently is the team in which the most players do exactly what they are supposed to do on the greatest percentage of possessions.

I have coached football at the junior level, and it is a great way to help silly, uncontrolled boys become serious young men. It doesn't always work, as so many cases attest, but of the millions of boys who play organized football, I would suggest that it benefits all of them in some way. If Judge has never played or coached football, and is not even a fan of the sport, well, that says a lot about him, and something any real male would rather keep quiet about. Any woman who finds a contempt for football attractive would be far better off simply finding another woman to live with.

Now, I do think that style is important and that nice things are much better than crap. Much, much better. But Bern and Hunter are absolutely right to point out that Judge is into some very dubious stuff and shouldn't force his weird tastes on other people. Keep that in the closet, girl!

I think that the styles people choose do say important things about them, and I like to be as jaunty and prosperous-looking as possible, but to associate Christianity with metrosexuality strikes me as utterly grotesque. Brrrr.

I suggest that Mr. Judge punt and try to get his defense in order.

7 comments:

brmerrick said...

'[C]onservatism used to be a more elite position than it has been since Reagan, who made real the populism that Goldwater's candidacy had begun.'

I think we should stop seeing the finer things in life as the exclusive domain of modern Leftists and old-fashioned rich conservatives. Especially where the arts are concerned, truly fine arts have always interested a small number of people, and they always will. It is absurd for Leftists to insist that they are better than the rest because of their ability to appreciate fine art. Look at how these same Leftists fawned all over Michael Moore.

Mozart's music survives to this day, but he died a pauper. He couldn't make money in his lifetime because his style of music (and the modern equivalent) has always thrived on the patronage of the rich, who can throw money at something many of them find only marginally interesting, but which makes them feel and look superior. Once he tried to make money on his own, the populace ignored him, much like the populace ignores Danielpour today.

The finer things in life require patience, acquired taste, and attention to detail, which has always been rejected, and will always be rejected, by large swaths of people. Sad, but true.

Christians ought to embrace Philippians 4:8:

[W]hatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report... think on these things.

That much of the argument is true. Many of the current pleasures of the masses are merely distractions from the pursuit of excellence in which any Christian ought to be engaged continually. I agree that this should not be an excuse for metrosexuality. But a return to time and place, to proper proportion, to a better composure of oneself in public, this is not too much to ask.

Perhaps it is past time to turn off "American Idol" and turn on the LSO.

Kathy Hutchins said...

OK Sam, but I'm confused about one thing: I like football and John doesn't. Is there a female Bizarro World version of metrosexual (which I have only ever seen applied to men) in which women embrace the tastes of men? And am I, God forbid, one of them, whatever they're called?

And I appreciate your reminder that football is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. In a week that should have been devoted to intelligent analysis of the Redskins-Seahawks matchup, all anyone wanted to talk about was Sean Taylor spitting on Mike Pittman. You understand, of course, that I am undercover and cannot, in such close proximity to Baltimore, even mention I'm from Indianapolis, much less that I'm a closet Colts fan.

James Elliott said...

On a serious note, I know the whole metrosexuality thing is kind of funny and really an urban, 20-30 something phenomenon, but it seems to really just be about taking pride in your appearance and men discovering that, by god, a manicure and pedicure feels good and so do massages of the non-Oriental variety. It's men pampering themselves, and since such things are invariably a tad expensive, it tends to be limited to a certain class of individuals. I don't think it's quite the big deal people make of it.

Man, by that definition of conservative dress (with the exception of Wal-Mart), I guess I must be a conservative. And since when do you get to claim football?? If you get football, we get sumo wrestling: Two fat giants smacking the heck out of one another in ritualized fashion. It has remained unchanged for centuries and is essentially perfect. I love it, and it loves me back.

Merrick, if you want to see an example of Michael Moore as an actual artist, I suggest watching "Roger & Me." That is a truly stunning piece of work.

Intelligent analysis of the Redskins-Seahawk match? Seahawks by a touchdown. No way a battered Mark Brunell and a beat-up offensive line put up a decent enough fight against the Seahawks D. The 'skins don't have the defense to stop Hasslebeck's game. (Don't worry about loving football, Kathy - I'm a late bloomer, and wouldn't be unless I'd met my fiancee, who loves the game.) And don't worry about the Colts either - you'll have the last laugh when they beat the Pats and then the 'hawks and take the trophy home.

S. T. Karnick said...

James, I, too, love sumo and hereby claim it for the Right. We're the ones all about not handicapping everyybody who's good at anything. Sumo is just that: if you can push the other guy out of the ring or on to the deck, you win. I love it, and I watch it on ESPN whenever they show it. If I weighed only 350 pounds more, I'd be a great sumo, 'cause I'm wily.

Hunter would be the best sumo in the Reform Club, for obvious reasons.

In addition to sumo, I want it thoroughly clear that we on the Right get lacrosse. I'm taking care of that one right away, before anybody even brings it up. The second-greatest sport.

Kathy, a woman who loves football is a fine lady indeed. The only excuse I can think of for John is that he is from California. Man, nothing about that place surprises me.

Colts, Bears, Broncs, and Skins.

That's whom I'm pulling for this weekend, not necessarily whom I think will win. I want the road as easy as possible for the Bears and Colts, though I don't reckon the Broncs are any kind of a pushover, but the Pats have been playing so well lately I'd prefer to give them a miss.

James Elliott said...

In addition to sumo, I want it thoroughly clear that we on the Right get lacrosse. I'm taking care of that one right away, before anybody even brings it up. The second-greatest sport.

Oh, sure, you want the sport we stole from the Iroquois. (Man, did I spell that right? I don't think so...) You might as well claim polo (the horse kind), since that was another Anglo theft from a conquered indigenous people.

Of course, the Mayans and the Aztecs arguably invented rugby/football - only they used human heads. We're such panzies.

We're the ones all about not handicapping everyybody who's good at anything.

You been overdosing on your Vonnegut? That's the FAR Left. Regular Left means equal opportunity, not equal ability. Sheesh. That said, take my 49ers... please! I don't want them anymore! I'm going to have to end up rooting for the LA expansion team or just come out of the closet and root for the Broncos.

The only excuse I can think of for John is that he is from California. Man, nothing about that place surprises me.

Hey! Tom Brady is from the Bay Area! I lived down the street from Steve Young! Of course, I wasn't into football until meeting my fiancee and she's from New Mexico... Damn. Never mind...

I, too, want the Broncs to win. But the Pats are going to beat them. The Skins are going down. No way they beat the Seahawks. Ditto the Bears - their QB's played in a grand total of eight NFL games ever and is making his playoff debut. The Panther's defense is far too brutal, and the Bears aren't going to shut down Delhomme and Smith. The only danger I can see to the Colts is that they haven't played in 34 days. But I don't think there's any stopping Peyton and his line this year.

S. T. Karnick said...

Stole lacrosse from the Iroquois? They're still permitted to play! Heck, we welcome everybody. It's the fastest-growing sport in the nation, in terms of participation. As to the historical side, all the major lacrosse organizations are proud of the sport's origins and make sure to honor its Native American forebears. Personally, I think it's great that the sport derives from a truly American tradition.

Regarding sumo, I wish the regular left did mean only equality of opportunity instead of manipulating things to force equality of results. Unfortunately, things like affirmative action are not equality of opportunity, regardless of what we may think of their merits. No, equal opportunity is a classical liberal position. Go now and read your Burke, your Defoe, your Booker T. Washington, and your Hayek, my friend, and one day you shall be able to call yourself a true liberal.

No chance for the Bears? The Bears sacked Delhomme EIGHT times when they played them in November, and they shut down Smith, too. I don't see where the Panthers got that much better in the intervening weeks. NY was very bad last week, and that is because they were one of the two weakest teams in the playoffs (with the Skins). The Bears' defense is infinitely better than the Giants'. On offense, Rex Grossman is a darn good QB with a truly great arm. The Bears' O will do much better than it did in November. Overall, the team is much better now than when they beat the Panthers in November, which is saying something. Plus, they're playing at home. This one could surprise a lot of people.

Yeah, the Skins are not in the Seahawks' league at all, but I'm rooting for them. Pats are just outrageously hot right now, and Belichik is a genius. Colts are decidedly better than the Steelers and should get the job done.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I think Mr. Judge has his answer. If the consummately erudite internet home of ubersexuality (TRC, of course) is talkin' football instead of brie, I think he should take the Colts and lay the points.

(The Broncs, Da Bears, and the Starbucksers, too.)