Can a Leftist Love 24?
By Steven Rubio
In 1974, Ms. magazine asked, “Can a Feminist Love the World’s Greatest Rock Band?” The band was the Rolling Stones, who had earned their “Greatest” sobriquet for songs like “Under My Thumb” and “Starfucker.” That a band that arguably was the greatest could be reduced to any one specific malfeasance seems a bit simplistic, but the sentiment behind the article’s title was understandable. How do we evaluate art when that art involves itself in areas we find problematic? How do we respond when the art doesn’t agree with our notions of what is proper? How does a feminist look herself in the mirror, when she loves the Rolling Stones?
This is not a unique question. Popular culture often simultaneously enthralls us and posits a disagreeable worldview. The better the work is, the more it enthralls, and the more guilty we feel about our enjoyment.
Liberals and others of a more leftist bent have special reason to be concerned. Most pop culture action movies feature a hero (or, less often, a heroine) who fights a lone battle against a chaotic universe of bad guys and gals, doing the dirty work for which the rest of us are unsuited, saving society from destruction. There is no reason why these heroes must have a conservative political philosophy; there is no reason for these heroes to have any explicit politics at all. Some interpret the work of action stars like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood as reactionary, even fascist, but the left wing has its heroes, …