The Two Minutes of Hate began in Ballston before the movie even began, when the previews of Oliver Stone’s W. hit the screen. My brief speculation as to the political leanings of the crowd dissipated, as the Republican faithful screamed in rage at Stone’s biopic. “Judas,” “Traitor,” and the ultimate insult from any National Review conservative, “Fascist,” echoed through the theater. At least in Arlington, VA, there are still some people who want to defend George W. Bush.
But of course, this is why we were at the movies this night, not to be entertained, but to strike a blow against the Left. As even the movie posters proclaimed, David Zucker’s An American Carol commands us to “Laugh Like Your Country Depends On It” and show those leftists what for.
The clumsy plot centers around the Scrooge stand in Michael Malone (hint, hint) director of the award-winning documentary Die American Pigs, who has launched an effort to ban the “oppressive” Fourth of July. Three ghosts of the American past, George Patton, George Washington, and for some reason, Trace Adkins, try to show the fanatical leftist that he should love America and Support Our Troops. By the end of the movie, they have succeeded—mostly, because they prove that the United States is the most left-wing country in history.
The heart of Zucker’s case against Malone seems to be that the American Left is insufficiently anti-fascist. Malone is compared to the director of Triumph of the Will, winning an award at a Hollywood banquet where celebrities happily watch a video tribute for Leni Riefenstahl featuring a smiling Führer. This makes sense of course, as we learn in a graveyard scene that Moore shares Hitler’s birthday of 4/20. Jimmy Carter is randomly savaged for calling Israel as an “apartheid state” (which, of course, it is, not that there’s anything wrong with that) and arranging a surrender to “terrorists” on the U.S.S. Missouri. (Which terrorists we surrender to is of course unexplained, because it would be impossible even if we wanted to).
Kelsey Grammer’s George S. Patton repeatedly slaps Malone and occupies himself by glowering in rage, which is historically believable. He also takes Malone to a fictional slave-owning America where the Civil War never happened and pays reverent tribute to Abraham Lincoln, threatening to shoot Malone for questioning the Great Emancipator’s sexuality. These anecdotes are less believable, as the real Patton was a Virginian proud of his Confederate forebears, who grew up with pictures of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in his house, and called blacks intellectually incapable of operating armor.
I briefly perked up when there was a 1940 flashback scene of protesters calling Franklin Roosevelt a “war monger,” but unfortunately, David Zucker has not discovered Justin Raimondo and this is somehow meant to insult left wingers. Any real Hollywood left wingers were probably too busy making Song of Russia and Mission to Moscow to bother protesting FDR, although Patton himself seemed to want to forgo de-Nazification to form a Western alliance against Bolshevism. Or am I thinking of the fascist propaganda I learned at University? The reconstruction of the American Right as solely defined by war—any war, for any reason, whatsoever—reaches it’s logical conclusion with Carol’s John F. Kennedy subbing for Jacob Marley, stunningly portrayed as a militarist canoodling with Bill O’ Reilly.
From the opening song of “Sweet Home Alabama,” to Trace Adkins’s patriotic country concert, to scenes of American soldiers praying to Jesus before charging heroically into battle, An American Carol is a cinematic Sarah Palin—a cheap attempt to channel the justified resentments of patriotic Americans against treasonous leftists into supporting an agenda of social liberalism, politically correct history, and war for war’s sake. At no point is the American identity defined as anything other than unconditional support for the federal government, anyone in uniform, or any version of American history that doesn’t consist of fighting one evil fascist threat or another.
But, as Michael Moore asked when queried about the movie on “Larry King,” is it funny? As could be expected from David Zucker, it has its moments. The comedic timing is sure, and there are enough sight gags that it’s not as painful as one might have feared. It is not another “½ Hour News Hour.” Watching Dennis Hopper, late of George Romero’s Land of the Dead, blaze away with a shotgun at ACLU lawyers portrayed as zombies (“They’re not human, they’re the ACLU!”) while joyfully chirping “Try it, it’s fun!” was an appreciated inside gag. A clueless Malone celebrating the “island paradise” Cuba while civilians are graphically slaughtered by Communists in the background led to roars of laughter. A musical number lampooning elderly professors indoctrinating students and giving extra credit to those who are “poor, black, or gay” was funny and edgy enough that liberal movie reviewers are already complaining about insensitivity. Finally, a hypothetical documentary by “Rosie O’ Connell” about nuns and Episcopalians suicide bombing everyone in sight was something that tops almost anything seen on SNL since “Dick in a Box.”
As a movie though, it fell flat unless you saw this as an exercise in identity politics. A conservative can watch “The Colbert Report” and laugh, even when we are being scourged. A liberal can not find anything funny or redeeming about this movie, any more than a conservative can think Jon Stewart is anything other than a less funny Keith Olbermann. It is funny in the same way that a “Vote Democrat, it’s easier than thinking” bumper sticker is funny, which is to say that it has nothing to do with humor but indulging in satisfying scorn of The Other.
The laughter of the crowd, which seemed both forced and savage, the blunt name calling that passed for comedy, even the act of showing up in the first place, was simply a way to sneer at the Left without having to think about it. The inevitable comparisons to Bill Mahrer’s Religulous will only encourage it.
And yet as a Red State Fascist, I couldn’t help but laugh, and laugh hysterically and hatefully at several parts. The sheer loathing for the pampered pinks of Hollywood made it impossible to resist indulging, as intellectually vacuous and politically pointless as the whole sad spectacle was. .
Near the end of the movie, Trace Adkins unconsciously echoes Sen. George Allen, pointing to country music-loving serviceman (instead of Macacas) and shouting triumphantly, “Welcome to the real America!” What’s left of that real America, if rallied behind the radicalism implicit in that battle cry, could blow apart the leftist hegemony and give the Mahrers, Moores, and O’Donnell’s something more to fear than George W. Bush. But Hollywood need not lose any sleep. An American Carol and the reaction to it show that the neoconservative safety valve is firmly functioning. While conservatives may think the leftists are traitors, most of us won’t do anything about it except vote for McCain, salute the federal banner, and hope you will support the troops just like us. Carol’s audience is still serving as cannon fodder for the neoconservatives that mock the real nation and the history that used to define our country–and it’s loving every minute of it.
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