From the naked public square to the naked movie theater

At the top of the comments page for Carol Iannone’s article at Front Page magazine on “The Way We Were,” there is a thread started by me called “Movies have meaning.” I was responding to the surprising number of commenters who were hostile to or dismissive of her article because—if you can believe this—they think it’s silly to find political meaning in a movie, a truly odd notion that calls out for explanation. As the thread developed, I suggested that this attitude stems from the modern secular-democratic project of stripping culture of higher meaning, a movement that ultimately derives from the Protestant Reformation with its idea that liturgical and aesthetic representations of the divine are idolatrous. Secular democracy does not want any higher or sacred meaning in the public square, since any suggestion of higher meaning threatens the equal freedom of all men under God or under no God. For the same reason, secular democrats reject the assertion that a movie can have any political meaning. Movies must be essentially meaningless entertainment or low-level sentiment. This notion goes so far that, as we see in the dismissive and angry responses to Miss Iannone’s article, even a movie with overtly political themes must be denied any political meaning (at least if the political themes being exposed and criticized are liberal).

Making these points reminded me of a talk I gave several years ago on “the political religion of modernity.” So I dug it out of my files, fixed it up a bit, and posted it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 01, 2003 01:59 AM | Send

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