The American Spectator has a “movie and culture critic” called James Bowman. James appears to be an idiot of the lowest, most conservative of waters. He believes that fiction requires balance, and that slavery had its upsides.
In a mealy mouthed slab of prose masquerading as objective, informed journalism (not what I’m going for here by the way) called “PROPAGANDA IS NOT ‘REALITY’ OR ‘TRUTH’” (not the all-caps) James announces his belief that the Oscar winning movie 12 Years a Slave based on a book that describes the criminal trade of slavery is required to have balance.
Let me start with Blowman’s opening gambit – because it is a gambit, a move to suggest that Blowman himself is the voice of balance.
The question to be answered about Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is this: whether or not it expresses a truth about chattel slavery as practiced in the American South before 1865 — and let us stipulate that it does — does it express the truth?
That is a paragraph that you don’t even need to read critically or deeply to know is confused bordering on meaningless. “The” truth of slavery is that slavery is wrong.
He then proceeds to analyse McQueen’s interview with one time president of the American Historical Association, Professor Eric Foner in The New York Times, a “Marxist-Leninist” according to Blowhard. Let me say that again, “one time president of the American Historical Association, Professor Eric Foner”. Not a Marxist-Leninist.
The problem is that it wasn’t an interview, is was a discussion moderated by Nelson George, and including the film’s director, Steve McQueen; the artist Kara Walker; the lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor; and the historian Eric Foner.
This could suggest that Blowhard hadn’t fully read his own (unlinked to) source. But that’s not the worst of it. No, Blowman’s brain, unable to cope with the fact – the truth – that slavery is bad, attempts to reprehend the lack of balance in the movie and the source book’s portrayal of US slavery in the 1860s.
Now, as far as I can see “Mr. McQueen’s frankly stated political agenda” is that “Slavery is Bad”.
“Our awareness of Mr. McQueen’s frankly stated political agenda cannot but affect our view of the supposed history that is supposedly repeating itself and may even cast doubt backwards on that history itself.
“If ever in slavery’s 250-year history in North America there were a kind master or a contented slave, as in the nature of things there must have been, here and there, we may be sure that Mr McQueen does not want us to hear about it.
“This, in turn, surely means that his view of the history of the American South is as partial and one-sided as that of the hated Gone With the Wind. That professional historians among others insist on calling such propaganda “truth” and “reality” and condemning anyone who suggests truth and reality might be more complicated than that is one measure of the politicization of historical scholarship in our time — to a level, perhaps, rivaling even that of film studies.”
That’s right, Jimbob Blowback (“a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is the author of Honor: A History and Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture, both published by Encounter Books”) believes that there was happiness to be discovered within a structure where people could own people and exercise the power of god over them.
Next, I expect to read Mr Bowman demanding balance in his criticism of a filmic portrayal of 9/11.
Read the entire piece at The American Spectator.