Monday, October 17, 2005How shall we define elitism?
It was a topic of discussion today at National Review, thanks in part to (surprise, surprise) another stupid remark on the part of Howard Dean. The mention of merlot led to a mention of the movie Sideways, as Kathryn Jean Lopez declares that anyone who likes the movie must be an elitist. Rod Dreher, as usual, is a voice of reason in this moronic debate.
I've spent the last two week defending "elite" conservatism against the likes of Hugh Hewitt and James Dobson, but this is out of hand. National Review is the most important opinion magazine of the last fifty years, but a magazine that regularly features reviews of operas and symphonies should never, under any circumstance, call out someone else as an elitist. This sort of nonsense is what hurts Beltway conservatives.
I've not yet seen Sideways, but I'm sitting about ten feet away from a copy. I might watch it tomorrow. Who knows? The point is that liking an independent movie or disliking bad Starbucks coffee does not make you an elitist. Having taste is never a bad thing, whether it refers to coffee, music, movies or food. The word "elitist" carries with it a certain implication: you think you're better than the guy drinking Maxwell House. But that's not true. I don't think I'm better than the next guy just because I can enjoy a foreign film or jazz. It's just a choice on my part, a choice I make because I think that some movies are better than others. And if a movie recieves critical praise, I reaize two things: First, that sometimes critics are self-serving. Second, critical praise occurs, more often than not, for good reasons. It is almost objectively agreed upon that North By Northwest is a great movie, even better than the latest blockbuster. Even if that blockbuster is family friendly.
Why can't NR make this distinction?