John Nolte, conservative film critic, decries an article about the new Captain America film:
“This approach to patriotism is all a lie, a ploy from the Left to turn what really is simplistic and lazy (nihilism, angst, irreverence, irony) into “art,” when just the opposite is true. What the Left despises about themes that lift the human spirit is that they’re more often than not, conservative themes — themes of self-sacrifice, selflessness, fidelity, manhood, bravery, and nobility. Whereas darker, simpler themes or a complete lack of theme, appeals to the all-about-me, chaotic narcissism that so defines the Left.”
I love reading Nolte’s work–it reveals so much about the Conservative understanding of art. First of all, I think it’s quite telling that “manhood” is on that list of “good” themes, but that there is no corresponding female virtue. But secondly, I can almost hear Ayn Rand’s fury at the “self-sacrifice” and “selflessness” portion of the program.
What Nolte is describing here is strangely anti-individualistic in nature–I find that quite interesting. (Another example of this tendency in his artistic taste is his review of The English Patient.)
The truth is, the virtues he alludes to are not the virtues of a libertarian, but of someone who feels an actual sense of, dare I say it, community–specifically, nationalism. I only bring this up to point out that this is one more instance in which the inherent conflict between the Nationalistic and Materialistic sides of the group that calls itself “Conservative” appears.