The West: It's declining again.
Recently the right-wing Claremont Institute's Claremont Review of Books published Terrence O. Moore's "Wimps and Barbarians," which argues, at great length, that America's young men are going to hell in a handbasket:
Too often among today's young males, the extremes seem to predominate. One extreme suffers from an excess of manliness, or from misdirected and unrefined manly energies. The other suffers from a lack of manliness, a total want of manly spirit. Call them barbarians and wimps....
Then yesterday and today WorldNetDaily.com published an even longer lament for the state of our youth by David Kupelian; Kupelian begins with an anecdote about his 12-year-old son wanting to (gasp!) wear a choker around his neck and somehow manages to link that to every extreme of sexual excess and body modification that ever surfaced in a horrified article in the Style section of The New York Times or Washington Post. (How this relates to chokers is unclear.) For good measure, Kupelian manages to blame "the explosion of middle-school sexual adventures across America" on Bill Clinton (because, as everyone knows, thirteen-year-old kids always take their behavioral cues from paunchy, gray-haired, middle-aged men in suits).
So it may not be the best moment for Regnery -- the publisher that is to hysterical, underresearched right-wing books what Sun Records was to countrified rock and roll -- is planning to publish this (as reported by Publishers Lunch):
City Journal editor Brian C. Anderson's THE END OF THE LIBERAL MONOPOLY: How the Media Revolution is Turning American Politics and Culture to the Right, examining how the emergence of a hip new anti-liberal attitude in popular culture from South Park to Dennis Miller -- along with huge changes in communications, from Fox News to the Blogosphere, are eroding the liberal monoculture and transforming American culture and politics...
Anderson's book will be an expansion of this Wall Street Journal article, in which he prattles on endlessly about several purported signs of the emerging Republican utopia, most notably the once-hip (though apparently still hip on the right) South Park:
One episode, "Cripple Fight," concludes with a slugfest between the boys' wheelchair-bound, cerebral-palsy-stricken friend, Timmy, and the obnoxious Jimmy, who wants to be South Park's No. 1 "handi-capable" citizen (in his cringe-making PC locution). In another, "Rainforest Shmainforest," the boys' school sends them on a field trip to Costa Rica, led by an activist choir group, "Getting Gay with Kids," which wants to raise youth awareness about "our vanishing rain forests." Shown San José, Costa Rica's capital, the boys are unimpressed:
Cartman: [holding his nose] Oh my God, it smells like ass out here!
Choir teacher: All right, that does it! Eric Cartman, you respect other cultures this instant.
Cartman: I wasn't saying anything about their culture, I was just saying their city smells like ass....
Anderson also approvingly cites the patriotic conservatism of readers of the "hipster bible Vice magazine," as attested by Vice's publisher, Gavin MacInnes. Vice?
Last year's "Vice Guide to Getting Reamed Up the Cake" outlined a five-month campaign to coax your reluctant girlfriend into getting "down with the brown." McInnes advises, "She won't like anal sex until her seventeenth time. It's an acquired taste. But you have to get her to want to go through that good pain, seventeen times. To get that response, you must employ the 'Pavlov's Dog' technique." The piece's underlying message is more Camille Paglia than Dr. Ruth: "Love hurts and sex is hostile." (Village Voice)
Oh, that Vice.
I go back and forth on this cultural-decline stuff -- sometimes I think pop culture goes over the top, then I see smart, sane kids and think it all does far less harm than culturally conservative handwringers assume.
What bugs me, though, is that the right wing seems to derive strength from both sides of the argument: Satanic barbarians want to get on TV and say "smells like ass" to your kids, and then evil PC liberals want to clean up TV so Cartman can't say "smells like ass."
I want right-wingers fighting about this with each other. I want to strand Terrence Moore, David Kupelian, and Brian Anderson in a smowbound cabin for a couple of weeks with nothing for intellectual diversion but a TV and Anderson's DVD collection. And I want to videotape the results.
(Thanks to Sadly, No!, for pointing me to the Kupelian links -- here and here.)