The Golden Globes illustrate the importance of controlling history
The New York Times offers a weird tribute to “girl power” at the Golden Globe awards on Sunday night that includes these little gems:
Ricky Gervais took the awards to the edge of puerile bullying three years in a row, but Tina Fey and Amy Poehler brought charm and easy good humor to a ceremony where stars are supposed to relax and have fun.
And it was one of the more amusing awards shows because of it. The two comedians were gentle — up to a point. In their opening, Ms. Fey and Ms. Poehler pointed out Kathryn Bigelow and made a joke about the controversy over her film “Zero Dark Thirty.” Ms. Poehler said, “When it comes to torture, I trust a lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.” The camera panned stars looking a little shocked as they laughed.
It wasn’t the only Girl Power moment. Former President Bill Clinton was met with a standing ovation when he arrived to introduce the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln.” But it was Ms. Poehler who got the biggest laugh when she returned to the stage and said rapturously, “That was Hillary Clinton’s husband.”
So one of America’s most storied perjurers is tapped to introduce a film about Honest Abe Lincoln, and a room filled with people who would characterize themselves as “feminists” swoon when an adulterer takes the stage. This comes on the heels of Bill Clinton winning the “Father of the Year” award, leaving us with a Father of the Year that no sane man would trust alone in a room with his teenage daughter. In the Nineties, Clinton’s own teenage daughter got to watch her father lead a “national conversation” about the fine points of having oral sex with a young woman who is not your wife. Message to the children of America: lying and cheating are super awesome, if you have the right politics.
And if you have the wrong politics, well…
Julianne Moore, who won best actress in a television movie for her depiction of Sarah Palin in the HBO film “Game Change,” made a point of saluting two women who had nothing to do with the film but everything with exposing Ms. Palin’s weaknesses: Ms. Fey, who impersonated Ms. Palin on “Saturday Night Live,” and Katie Couric, whose interviews with Ms. Palin during the 2008 election campaign provided Ms. Fey with raw material for her parody.
Yes, it was “A Night For Saluting Women,” as the Times headlines its account, and it was bubbling with “girl power”… unless you happen to disagree with the ruling political party. Then it was time to celebrate the vicious destruction of a woman’s career through lies and slander, high-fiving the comedienne who tricked countless “low information voters” into thinking Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house.
Palin attracted particular fury from the Left because she is a woman, but none of these “girl power” advocates is “brave” enough to have that discussion, any more than they want to discuss the constant self-parody of the sitting Vice President of the United States. Strangely enough, none of these daring, “irreverent” comedians seems to find any “raw material” in Joe Biden’s goofy, and sometimes offensive, antics. That’s why the low-information voters look surprised, if and when they eventually hear the things Biden has said. There is a line between news media, and the far broader and more influential realm of popular culture. Some things get pushed across that line with furious effort, while others remain carefully quarantined in the realm of the news junkie.
The American Left understands the importance of controlling history, to a degree the Right never has. Granted that the Left has far more cultural power at its disposal for the sculpture of history, but the Right is still too quick to surrender narrative control of its prominent figures. There’s always some faction in the Right that will happily join with the Left in destroying someone, if their destruction proves helpful to the preferred political narrative of that faction. Everything that went wrong with a particular election was that person’s fault, and we told you so. Rather than change our cultural course, they surf along with the tides.
Meanwhile, others decide that an individual politician’s reputation just isn’t worth the trouble of protecting. The drumbeat of left-wing popular culture is too insistent; shouting over it strains the vocal cords. We’ll just let them have this one. We’ll let them declare this strong, outspoken conservative is too “controversial” or “divisive” – labels the Left will never allow even its most controversial and bitterly divisive leaders to carry.
After Bill Clinton left office, he made a furious effort to control his “legacy.” It received quite a bit of media coverage at the time, until every molecule of media oxygen was understandably absorbed by the events of 9/11/2001. Even some mainstream-media observers raised their eyebrows and wondered if Clinton was overdoing it. But he knew exactly what he was doing, and big figures of the Left – even some who privately grumbled about the hell Clinton had put them through – understood as well. The control of history is vital. That’s why Hollywood is still applauding itself for slashing and burning every square inch of Sarah Palin’s reputation, at the dawn of Barack Obama’s second term. It’s also why Bill Clinton got to give a show-stopping speech at the Democratic National Convention, blaming all of Barack Obama’s many failures on George W. Bush, without anyone recalling that Clinton left his successor with a recessionary economy too.