Friday, September 23, 2005

Penguin Family Values

I was interested to hear that conservatives were singing the praises of March of the Penguins as a film that promotes conservative values.

Some excerpts:
"March of the Penguins," the conservative film critic and radio host Michael Medved said in an interview, is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing."
Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, told the young conservatives' gathering last month: "You have to check out 'March of the Penguins.' It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things - the dedication of these birds is just amazing."
Richard A. Blake, co-director of the film studies program at Boston College and the author of "The Lutheran Milieu of the Films of Ingmar Bergman" said that like many films, "March of the Penguins" was open to a religious interpretation. "You get a sense of these animals - following their natural instincts - are really exercising virtue that for humans would be quite admirable," he said. "I could see it as a statement on monogamy or condemnation of gay marriage or whatever the current agenda is."

Well, I finally saw the film and was even more fascinated by the revelation that conservative values have suddenly come to mean men looking after the kids while the women provide for them; having a child with a different partner every year; and abandoning the kids forever once they're old enough to fend for themselves.

Putting myself in the mind of a conservative for a moment (scary, I don't recommend it), I think what they mean by their praise is that March of the Penguins promotes that classic conservative family values notion that a family is defined first and foremost by the act of procreation -- a family in its most pure form is man, woman and child. You'll recall it from such conservative classics as Dan Quayle's condemnation of Murphy Brown and their fervent opposition to gay marriage.

The problem as I see it is that if they oppose gay marriage based on the inability of two people of the same gender to procreate, don't they have to also oppose marriage between two heterosexuals who are either unable to procreate or disinclined to? Progressives prefer love and commitment to be the only pre-requisites for the formation of a family rather than the restrictive criterion of procreation. Again, it seems to me that it would be in the interest of conservatives to expand their definition of family and to loosen gay adoption laws -- if they want people to give up children to adoption rather than abortion, one would think they would do what they can to increase the demand.

Ultimately though, it's refreshing to hear conservatives praising a movie since they trash Hollywood for sport. If they took the time to actually study mainstream Hollywood films instead of demonizing them out of hand, they'd find that most actually promote values of right and wrong that they would endorse.

As a side note, I was pleased to learn recently from a friend's father that the lead character of The Great Raid, the WWII film that came and went this summer despite heavy promotion on such conservative blogs as Michelle Malkin's (no doubt as an example of the triumph of US military might), ran for Congress as a young a Democrat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't have links to examples of "conservatives were singing the praises" of March of the Penguins, do you? It would be interesting to see, first hand, what their reasoning is ... rather than just read the reasoning that you attribute to them through your own ideological blinders. I seem to recall you once attempted chastisement based on how you felt someone was attempting to put words in your mouth. Interesting that you seemingly engage in the same practice here ...

BTW, Ronald Reagan was a Democrat as "a young man" as well - but he learned better. And Winston Churchill once said that to be young and Conservative is to have no heart, but to be old and Liberal is to have no brain.

Failing that, while "The Great Raid" may have been a good movie, "Band of Brothers" was significantly better. And Dick Winters is a Republican (so thhhhhpppt!)

11:43 AM  
Blogger TWB said...

good point. unfortunately the primary article about it is in the now subscription-only NY Times. but I'll throw some quotes in there.

2:54 PM  

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