For some time much has been said regarding conservatives’ approach to culture. So much so that it’s almost become a cliché and frankly tiresome to hear. Those making this charge are effectively saying that people with right-wing political leanings have become too insular — that they exist on an island consuming only conservative cable news, conservative talk radio, outrageously outraged conservative blogs, and that they live in an “echo chamber” — another ubiquitous phrase that’s become tiresome too. However, evidence for this theory was present in the visceral reaction most conservatives had when Obama won reelection.
People living on Conservative Island were convinced that all the polls showing Romney trailing Obama were dead wrong because the aforementioned conservative media demonstratively declared it so. With certitude, conservative outlets cited inside baseball lopsided poll sampling. Naturally, a plurality of folks were shocked to learn that in another world just a few dials down from where the right now exists, there was a myriad of other polling data that accurately predicted the outcome of the election. But conservatives were told to ignore them.
Most Americans only paid attention to the presidential election approximately two months prior to November 6th. They then resumed to their regular downtime consumption of reality television, sports, music, and movies. Most people don’t follow politics closely and likely couldn’t explain what a sequester is or what the fiscal cliff was. Many on Conservative Island enjoy poking fun at these people, labeling them “uninformed idiots.”
I don’t think they realize the joke may very well be on the provincial crowd of conservatives who have become “the weird kid in class.”
Here is what I mean by “the weird kid:”
I went to a private school from kindergarten to 12th grade in the southern United States. Almost all private schools in the South are Bible-based Christian/Catholic institutions where kids go to chapel and the Bible is taught as a part of the curriculum. Most parents (like mine) sent their kids to private school in an attempt to offer them the best education possible — but a few of the kids were there because his or her parents were strict religious purists.
These kids were sheltered from pop culture and not allowed to listen to or own the music most of my classmates enjoyed. Forget about the sheltered kids ever going to a chaperoned concert. They didn’t get to watch the movies of the 1980′s and 90′s that all my friends and I got to see in theaters, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Terminator, Die Hard, and even Stand By Me. The kids of purist parents were insulated, sheltered, and restricted. Unfortunately, this made them different from everyone else. There were little to no common interests. While the parents of these kids stood firm on principles and likely thought themselves to be superior & more informed than parents like mine, they inadvertently ostracized their children. They weren’t invited to birthday parties and they didn’t participate in general fun.
Their children became the weird kids in class. And so it is with a large faction of the conservative movement.
I watch Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon nightly, if for no other reason than to hear the opening monologue and have something funny or light on my mind before I go to sleep. Sometimes I will tweet a joke that resonated with me for its comedic value or perhaps it was controversial. But invariably when I send the tweet, my mentions become inundated with “you really watch those morons” or “who watches the late night comedians anymore” — or my favorite: “why do you support the enemy?”
In all caps, of course.
I know these people believe they are staying true to principles by boycotting late night comedians, but in so doing, they have isolated themselves from what 10-12 million Americans watch every night (at least according to Nielsen). Fallon and Leno have been hilarious lately, making fun of NBC executives during the changing of the The Tonight Show hosting gig. Most people are talking about it everywhere, including at work around the water cooler. But the “principled crowd” are oblivious. They must seem weird to their coworkers.
The same is true of Saturday Night Live, awards shows like the Oscars or the Golden Globes, and any number of other television events that originate from Hollywood or New York. If watching this type programming isn’t your thing, that is your choice and it should be respected.
But why lash out against those who do view network programming for entertainment as if they are traitors?
Conservatism is about freedom and liberty, not restrictions placed upon people due to ideology. But as of late, my friends on the right are trying to impose rules and standards that are counter to our charge. The conservative movement is miles away from approaching the culture because many won’t allow for a wide range of interests and simple pleasures amongst their own.
Like any family that has problems, we should start with settling our disputes and being more understanding of the many personalities involved. We should find common ground. Then maybe we can venture out into the culture where the majority of America dwells in hopes of shedding the unfortunate stereotype of “the weird kid in class.”
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