The right loves to say “politics is downstream from culture,” but on the right the opposite is true

For those living in this blessed crossroads, keenly aware of the music charts but completely ignorant of the world of far-right politics, there was no doubt it was a mystery: A comically awful rock song called “Only Ever Wanted” by a band called Timcast had reached #2 on the iTunes music charts. It’s a song so bad that it retrospectively provokes respect for the songcraft and musicality of the mid-2000s cheap emo bands it rips off.

Unfortunately, the answer to the riddle is far more terrifying than “a lot of people have bad taste.” Timcast is the, uh, brainchild of Tim Pool, a YouTube personality who pretends to be a liberal to hide a steady stream of fascist propaganda. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented, despite claiming to be a “disaffected liberal,” Pool “has taken his commentary in an extremely far-right direction in recent years,” leading figures like Ali Alexander, organizer of the 6 Alex Jones, Founder of Tarrio and Infowars. As Daily Beast documented, Pool has received more than a billion views for his videos, which hype far-right conspiracy theories and white nationalist ideas.

In other words, people don’t listen to this embarrassingly subpar emo “music” because they like it. They like white nationalism and think that by listening to this song you will help support the cause. Most people like a pop song when it has a good beat and you can dance to it. For the extreme right, however, the only question is: “Does this song trigger the liberals?”

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One of the catchphrases of America’s increasingly fascist right is a quote commonly attributed to the decades-dead Andrew Breitbart: “Politics comes after culture.” It’s a notion that fuels much of the right’s relentless whining about “Hollywood woke.” drives. The belief, which isn’t entirely irrational, is that the more people see same-sex couples, drag queens, black hobbits, and female superheroes on screen, the more tolerant they become of the idea that you can be a person even though you’re not is to be a straight white male. That cannot be tolerated on the right, which is why mobs of offended fanatics are busy reviewing popular shows and films with different casts, hoping to scare Hollywood into believing the mantra, “Wake up, go broke.” (Unfortunately, the campaign appears to be working at Warner Brothers, threatening the future of many of TV’s best shows.)

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But many right-wingers aren’t content with getting Hollywood to make more conservative products. Conservatives like to argue that they need to make their own films, music, TV shows, children’s books, etc. as an alternative to compete with the popular “awakened” content they loudly complain about and to be at their best in their fantasies . The idea is to lure them in with their pop culture products and convert them to right-wing views.

Anyone raised in an evangelical culture is aware of this mindset, which has caused many childhoods to suffer from “Christian rock” and religiously-tinged cartoons for those forbidden from eating the good stuff . But as the production values ​​in Pool’s video show, there’s more money for the right’s culture war project than ever before. However, if you turn up the volume on your computer while watching Pool’s video, it becomes apparent that the actual appeal of these products falls short.

Far-right sites like Breitbart and the Daily Wire have been able to raise a healthy chunk of money to produce films. In particular, The Daily Wire claims to make “entertainment content, challenging content, adult content” that happens to be conservative. People were rightly skeptical from the start. As The Mary Sue pointed out, Shapiro is a “failed screenwriter” who wouldn’t make it in real Hollywood. His novels are so bad they’re used as fodder for comedy podcasts. The people they recruit for these projects are only hired because of their far-right political views. The studio is also already making heavy use of “documentaries” like The Greatest Lie Ever Told: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM and What Is A Woman, an anti-trans diatribe hosted by Matt Walsh. Meanwhile, Breitbart’s breakthrough is, uh, “Hit,” “My Son Hunter,” a film that attacks President Joe Biden, which is so weird and boring that Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill said, “It wasn’t really fun making himself.” to make fun of it. “

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In the case of these products, politics is very much prior to culture. It’s hard to imagine any of this would even find an audience, but for conservatives who’ve convinced themselves that consuming this crap somehow triggers liberals. (No doubt some will be reading this article, desperate to summarize my take on triggered.) Nobody watches Terror on the Prairie, starring former MMA fighter Gina Carano, because it seemed like a fun romp. In fact, marketers know that the only reason anyone could watch the film is to tie it to the Liberals. The ad text reads, “Disney canceled them. Now the lifting of the termination begins.” You don’t market a film. They take your money with false promises, they buy liberal tears.

Of course, no one making conservative “art” wants to think of themselves as second-rate hackers, benefiting solely from the grievances of audiences longing for the days when Elton John pretended to be straight. Pool, for example, tried to portray his iTunes success as a sign that there was a deep source of desire for his music.

But even that stubborn tweet belies the political, not aesthetic, impulses driving his audience. The Billboard Hot 100 is filled with artists of color, Harry Styles in a dress, and women who will never have sex with a Timcast fan. He peddles the fantasy that this is due to an “awakened” conspiracy and that people really want to hear tearful white dudes playing half-written emo songs. This tweet squarely addresses his audience’s racist, sexist complaints about the pop culture that Americans actually like. Even Pool’s followers are probably wondering how many times they have to play his song to get their point across.

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The irony of all this is that there’s actually a lot of stuff that’s doing pretty well that appeals to a more conservative audience: the new Top Gun movie, Yellowstone, the endless stream of Bro Country on the radio. But what the people who create this content have “woken up” to Hollywood is this: They’re more interested in making art than political propaganda. Their products don’t usually satisfy the kind of people who say silly stuff like “politics comes after culture”.

That’s the problem for the Ben Shapiros and Tim Pools of this world. They are more interested in speaking than making art. But their point of view is stupid, and their art is even more stupid.

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