Wednesday, February 02, 2005
They’re gonna put me in the movies
They’re gonna make a big star out of me. . . .
Well, maybe not. The movie won’t be out until the end of the year, and I have no way of knowing whether I’ll really be in it. But the other day I heard about a feature-length film called “Brainwashing 101,” and thinking oh come on, there’s no way to make a screenplay out of that Ben Shapiro book, is there, I checked out their website.
And discovered to my surprise that the two nice men who came to my house and interviewed me last year about this time, who gave their names as Evan Coyne Maloney and Stuart Browning of On the Fence Films, are actually, in real life, Evan Coyne Maloney and Stuart Browning of On the Fence Films!
They said they were independent filmmakers traveling the country making a movie about campus controversies, allegations of liberal bias, and such things, and so naturally I thought, “aha! independent filmmakers! this means they must be men of the left– no doubt they also run a local food co-op and teach yoga and meditation classes at the People’s Center for Peace and Composting in their spare time.” I thought I would talk to them for a while about David Horowitz’s evil right-wing schemes, and then ask them for recycling tips, like, for example, can I include the hard-plastic orange juice containers with the soft-plastic gallon jugs of cider and the plastic-coated paper clips?
And so, dear readers, lulled into a false sense of complacency, I told them all our secrets about how we keep conservatives off the arts and humanities faculty and brainwash our students into becoming members of the Church of Chomsky! What a fool I was, what a trusting fool!
Actually that’s not true. They did indeed interview me, but I didn’t assume anything about them one way or the other; they didn’t ask any slanted or leading questions, and they were entirely pleasant throughout the hour-or-so interview. I stumbled verbally a couple of times (once in the first ten minutes, when I was recapping Paul de Man’s argument about the closing couplet of Yeats’s “Among Schoolchildren”– weird, no? but they asked me what deconstruction was and where it came from, and I was completely unprepared to do my Intro to Decon bit), but so far as I recall, I didn’t say anything outrageous or colossally stupid. I’ve gone over my mental notes, and I don’t believe I said
– that the people who died in the World Trade Center were “little Eichmanns”
– that ROTC students are babykillers
– that anyone who blows up the Pentagon has my vote
– that fighters for global justice have no choice but to support the Iraqi resistance,
so I have a sinking feeling that I’m just not the kind of lunatic academic leftist the folks behind “Brainwashing 101” are looking for. And why would conservatives and libertarians be looking for lunatic academic leftists? Because LALs have become, in the past three years, one of the right’s most reliable recruiting devices, that’s why. (Which reminds me: a hearty parenthetical thank you to Big Max for slapping down the Wingnutty Professor’s efforts to make Ward Churchill the poster boy for the American Left.) Eerily, just as the PNAC-inspired war in Iraq has swelled the ranks of al-Qaeda recruits instead of peeling away moderate Muslims from Islamist fanatics, so too do the far-left campus blowhards swell the ranks of Bush voters instead of peeling away centrists and independents from the radical neocon/theocon right. Coincidence– or symbiosis? This humble blog is not sure.
All the same, my “Brainwashed” interview might not be wholly useless. I think my twenty-minute exposition on the relation between deconstruction and queer theory could make for a thrilling theater experience, so I implore Messrs. Maloney and Browning not to leave that segment on their cutting-room floor. I think it screams “Golden Globe,” I really do. And finally, though I don’t usually go around telling libertarians what to do– it makes them behave so wild and nasty!– I have to say that in my ideal universe, libertarians would not go around complaining that “Curriculums have been transformed to meet the demands of various ‘victim groups’ with politicized area studies such as Women’s Studies, African American Studies, and Queer Studies - while the Western Canon, that body of literature and art thought to consist of the best that has been thought, written and otherwise expressed has been partially jettisoned in an attempt to rid the curriculum of the influence of ‘dead white males.’” In my ideal universe, libertarians would support the right of faculty in the arts and humanities to be just as queer, black, and feminist as they wanna be, and they would be a bit more hesitant about championing undergraduates who wear hoods and blackface on Halloween. And, of course, they would not get so hysterical and hyperbolic about a little curriculum revision here and there. Or, at least, if they were serious fans of the Western Canon they invoke, they would insist that the Plato-to-Nietzsche, Beowulf-to-Virginia Woolf surveys be required of the nation’s business and engineering majors as well as the left-leaning art-and-literature students who actually care about such things. I think that would be great. I personally love dead white males, and hope to become one myself someday!