Very interesting interview over at HumanEvents Online with Brian Anderson, author of South Park Conservatives. The WSJ, by the way, has a review of the aforementioned book here.
From the Interview-
Brian Anderson, the author of the newly released South Park Conservatives (Regnery Publishing, a Human Events sister company), agreed to answer a few questions for Human Events Online readers.
1. Who are "South Park Conservatives"?
A South Park conservative, as I use the term, is someone who isn't a traditional conservative, especially when it comes to popular culture and censorship, but who looks around at today's Left, with its anti-Americanism, its political correctness, and elitism, and says: "No way." In my book I find growing evidence of this anti-liberal attitude among college students and in a new kind of razor-edged political comedy that takes aim at the Left, and not just conservatives, and whose Number One example is Comedy Central's hugely popular, outrageously vulgar, and satirically brilliant cartoon "South Park." This anti-liberalism is one aspect of a bigger shift to the right in our politics and culture that is being fueled in part by the explosive arrival of the new media of political talk radio, cable news, and the Internet, which is the larger theme of my book.
2. Some conservatives have denounced "South Park" as part of the general degradation of popular culture. How do you respond to them?
The conservative social thinker Peter Berger has written a wonderful book on the comic imagination called Redeeming Laughter. Of satire, he notes that it has four criteria: fantasy (often grotesque or obscene), a firm moral standpoint, an object of attack, and an educational purpose. I'd say South Park meets all four criteria. It is offensive--so much so that a mock warning precedes each episode saying that no one should watch it. But it has also satirized abortion rights, hate-crime legislation, multiculturalism, radical environmentalism, diversity mongering, sex-change operations, the sexualization of pre-teens, and any number of liberal celebrities, usually portrayed as monstrous, alien fascists. I offer an array of examples in my chapter on anti-liberal comedy.
What other program in the history of popular culture had taken on liberal elites in this fashion before "South Park"? I can't think of any. The show's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone make wicked fun of conservatives and organized religion, too, though there's nothing new about that. Obviously, if someone is put off by cursing or vulgarity he shouldn't watch the show--and it's most definitely not for children. But the fact that one of the most popular programs in America among young adult viewers regularly skewers the Left is of enormous cultural significance. It would not have been possible in an old media era.
South Park Conservatives looks as well at other examples of anti-liberal humor--Parker and Stone's movie Team America, the standup comedians Colin Quinn, Nick Di Paolo, and Julia Gorin, and talk show host and comic Dennis Miller. The source material in the chapter is uproariously funny. I defy readers, at least younger ones, to come away from the chapter without a few serious laughs. These are very funny people.
The situation that I would like to see as a result of the emergence of the so-called "South Park Conservative" is a move towards a viable centrist party that actually represents a large enough constituency to challenge the two major parties. Both of these parties have become so beholden to the fringe elements of their core constituencies that they are slowly but surely excluding people out of their "big tent". Indeed, the Republicans continue to ignore the people who helped get them over the top in 2004, and the Democrats seem unable to detach themselves from the pseudo-socialist marxist fawning moonbats of the left. It is my understanding of early America that the founding fathers did indeed fear a monopolized two party system, but in order to retain a semblance of a Republic, there wasn't much they could legislate that would prevent it. We did see a brief resurgence of this third party with the Reform Party in the 1992 presidential race, but jeebus people c'mon, did anyone actually think Ross Perot would get elected?
What I see a lot of in my day to day life are people who hold varying degrees of liberal and conservative views at the same time. For instance, I am firmly pro-choice on the abortion issue, simply because there are enough plausible examples where a woman should never be beholden to the government when it comes to making such important life changing decisions in situations such as rape, incest or other life threatening scenarios. But I am also against abortion-on-demand, wherein people use it as a form of birth control. There should be a realistic middle ground to the debate. Good luck with that, I can hear everyone rolling their eyes.
Another example is fire-arms. I don't believe that the 2nd amendment was that complicated. Everyone has the right to bear arms. And it was placed right behind the first amendment for a very good reason. If we don't have the ability to protect our right to free speech, then there is nothing preventing the government from taking it away as they see fit. However, I think it should be difficult to obtain fire-arms. I don't think that anyone should be able to stumble in to a Wal-Mart, pick up a grenade launcher and go nuts. If I wanted to go purchase a handgun for my own personal protection, and I am a law abiding citizen, then I don't have a problem with government wanting to make sure that I am in fact a law abiding citizen that will act responsibly with a handgun. I don't think this is asking too much. I imagine that there gun enthusiasts who will scream that it is a right not a privilege to own a handgun, and I agree with you. The constitution is quite clear on this. But I don't believe that requiring citizens to go and confirm that they are in fact law abiding citizens, and not mass murdering convicts is asking too much. Yes, I realize that Hitler first required gun registration, and then he took the guns away. Well, I'm sorry, but I don't think that what we require in the US is an apt comparison. And good freaking luck trying to get people in the rural areas of Tennessee to hand over their weapons. Ain't gonna happen folks.
Clinton rode a wave of centrist "big tent" ideals that enabled him to get re-elected despite his shoddy foreign policies and inept economic policies. The result was the inevitable stock market crash, and the first attack on American soil in over 60 years. Had their been more attention paid during the 90's to the inherent weakness in the irrational exuberance of the stock market, and the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism, we probably would not have seen Bush re-elected to a second term. We probably wouldn't have NEEDED it. Had their been a third party acting like grown ups, perhaps they would be in office right now.
The best way perhaps I can describe this phenomena is quoting from the master of political rhetoric, PJ O'Rourke- from Peace Kills, America's Fun New Imperialism
Clinton was everybody's best friend. Except when he wasn't. He conducted undeclared air wars against Serbia and Iraq and launched missiles at Sudan and Afghanistan. Clinton used the military more often than any previous peacetime American president. He sent armed forces into areas of conflict on an average of once every nine weeks.
Then we elected an administration with adults in it- Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. Gone was the harum-scarum Clinton policy-making apparatus with its frenzied bakeheads piling up midnight pizza boxes in the Old Executive Office Building. They disappeared, along with the clinically insane confidants; vein-popping James Carville, toe-sucking Dick Morris, and the loose haircuts in the West Wing and the furious harridan on the White House third floor.
President George W. Bush's foreign policy was characterized, in early 2001, as -"disciplined and consistent" ( -Condoleezza Rice): "blunt" (-The Washington Post), and "in-your-face" (-the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). Bush began his term with the expulsion of one fourth of the Russian diplomatic corps on grounds of espionage. He snubbed Vladimir Putin by delaying a first summit meeting until June 2001, and then holding it in fashionable Slovenia.........
We saw the results of Clinton's emotional, ad hoc, higgledy-piggledy foreign policy. It led to strained relations with Russia and China, increased violence in the Middle East, continued fighting in Africa and Asia, and Serbs killing Albanians. Then we saw the results of Bush's tough, calculated, focused foreign policy-strained relations with Russia and China, increased violence in the Middle East, continued fighting in Africa and Asia, and Albanians killing Serbs. Between the first year of the Clinton administration and the first year of the Bush administration, we went from attack on the World Trade Center to World Trade Center attack.
Does anyone else notice the problem here? Those of us hailing from the the land of the South Park Conservatives certainly do, and I think we know the answer to the problem.