This past week, Netflix released Dave Chapelle’s newest stand up special, Sticks and Stones. The special immediately became controversial given Chapelle’s crassness and indifference towards the left’s sacred cows. He mocks the LGBTQ movement, castigates the #MeToo movement, called women b****es, mocked rape victims, used the homophobic slur f****t and dressed Jussie Smollett down.

Granted, this wasn’t some partisan manifesto as he also took shots at pro-life activism and gun-rights. The whole point of the special was just to be provocative and push boundaries for the sake of it. Despite this, Twitter reacted as it usually does with a small group of progressives calling to “Cancel” Dave Chapelle for mocking leftist sacred cows.

The reaction was most obvious at far-left progressive websites. Vice criticized the special as exhausting and worth skipping. Slate went as far as to say that the special was self justifying, defending of a corrupt status quo and homophobic.

The reaction outside of this small quadrant of progressive critics and twitter accounts has been universally positive. In a time when Cancel Culture and progressive myopia reigns supreme, it’s transgressive to tell jokes that wouldn’t have been offensive just a decade ago.

You wouldn’t know just how popular the special was if you checked the Rotten Tomatoes score on the film though. As was pointed out by Tim Pool, the website has curated it’s critics so specifically that the site has awarded it a 0% rating and hasn’t enabled user reviews as of the time of writing.

Tim’s point is salient. There is a tendency among critics to lean extremely hard to the left. A casual glance at the field of film criticism reveals a lot comprised of moderate liberals like Roger Ebert, Richard Roeper and Leonard Maltin to far-leftists like Pauline Kael, Jonathan Rosenbaum or FilmCritHulk. Cahier due Cinema, arguably the most important film magazine in history, was filled with pages of unrepentant Marxist writers.

There are conservative critics like Christian Toto, Kyle Smith, Sonny Bunch, John Nolte, and Armund White but their voices are usually lost in mainstream film discussion.

As conservatives, we’re well aware of the progressive control over culture and just how much power that gives the left. As Andrew Brietbart famously declared, “politics is downstream from culture.” The power to declare a progressive comedian like Dave Chappelle as problematic is an incredible power to wield.

Given this reality, our tendency as conservatives is to disengage and drown ourselves in Turner Classic Movies reruns. It’s easier just to ignore culture than to change it. For those of us who don’t, conservative audiences tend to lean towards pure entertainment over movies critics would prefer. We can’t and shouldn’t abandon film criticism and filmmaking, if for no other reason that it’s still massively popular.

At this point, calls for creating parallel cultural structures to Hollywood and academia are old news on the right. Shy of attempts with Christian focuses film studios like Pureflix, there are few successful major conservative filmmakers or studios in existence. Hollywood as it stands is almost impossible to break into for open conservatives. Even just last week, Will and Grace star Eric McCormick announced he won’t work with Trump supporters.

The fact that Rotten Tomatoes is joining in with the dog piling is unsettling. Certainly there are plenty of critics who appreciated Chapelle’s special. Even Salon reluctantly approved of it. Much like Google and Twitter which have proven themselves to be ideological actors, it seems that film criticism is happy to join the left’s takeover of corporate power.

The moral of the story is that we merely need to take this massive top down system with a grain of salt. At this point Hollywood it too big to fail. It won’t go away anytime soon. We have the money and power to shift the power in entertainment in our favor and yet most of us spend it going to see movies like Lion King while there are conservative voices in Hollywood already that desperately need our support.

We shouldn’t stop engaging with progressive Hollywood (that’s practically impossible). We need to start seeking out talented conservatives and make them bankable. If nothing else, we need to support sensible liberals like Dave Chappelle when they call out the left.

 
 
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