My Thoughts on Elysium


Last Friday, Anna shared her new liberal wisdom gleaned from the Matt Damon/Neill Blomkamp film Elysium here on Pocket Full of Liberty. I echo her brilliant analysis of what liberals think, as evinced by this movie. It is only in the final couple of paragraphs that I depart from her views on this film.

When I first saw the trailer, I too wanted to see Elysium out of curiosity. I liked District 9, though not as much as other people I know. Elysium, however, did not disappoint me in terms of artistic and entertainment quality. I much preferred it to the somewhat heartless District 9.

Yes, it did bother me as I was sitting in the theater having fun watching far-left opinions being shoved down my throat, but Neill Blomkamp knows how to make a great film. It was well-filmed, somewhat unpredictable and -– most importantly –- the characters were sympathetic.

Upon reflection, the holes in the story’s credibility are certainly there, as Anna points out. But the task that many writers undertake is not so much to say something true, but to say something believable. While you’re in the middle of the movie, there is no violation of the suspension of disbelief and you actually feel for the characters’ plights.

While the film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged is much more in line with conservative (economic) and libertarian views, no one can make an intellectually honest argument that its characters are more relatable to the average person (the novel is a different story). Part of selling the truth is making people care. Liberals sell their lies by the same method.

I do have respect for Matt Damon, but –- let me be clear –- as an actor. Damon is a top-notch actor and he executes his job as Max in Elysium perfectly. Politically, I have no respect for Damon, because he’s an idiot on those matters. Much like Joseph Schumpeter argued, people can know their vocation inside and out and still be clueless when it comes to something like politics. Intelligence or competence in one field does not necessarily translate to intelligence or competence in another.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the arts, conservatives often make the reverse mistake. They know politics and seem to assume that they can make great films, books, or music about it. But what we need, to alter C.S. Lewis’s admonition a bit, is not great conservative art — but great art that happens to be conservative.

My argument is not that conservatives need their own movie studio. That idea has been thoroughly debunked elsewhere. The likely result is the very films conservatives should stop making. Again, conservatives and libertarians need to make good art and entertainment. The values will come through naturally. Out of the abundance of the heart.

Art and entertainment have almost always had a liberal bent to them. They are primarily populated by young emotive people who don’t work real jobs. Still, great art has been made by conservatives, such Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov or Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings (as well as the terrific film adaptations).

To compete with liberalism in the cultural battle, conservative filmmakers need not just combat Blomkamp on the worldview front, but also on the quality entertainment front.