The Clare Spark Blog

March 4, 2013

Romney v. the cultural politics of “Mean”

WSJ cover art March 2-3

WSJ cover art March 2-3

Fox News Sunday, March 3, 2013, ran a long interview with Mitt Romney and Ann Romney. I was struck once again by how nice the Romneys were, and how “gentlemanly” were Mitt’s opinions and demeanor.

Everyone has an opinion on why Obama defeated Romney, but no one has commented, to my knowledge, on the cultural politics of “Mean.” For instance, Seth MacFarlane was ostentatiously mean during his Oscars hosting, yet he is being defended by feminists and conservatives for nailing Hollywood actresses for adding to the dread “hyper-sexualization” that those strange bedfellows (feminists and cultural warriors of the Right) laud in the song “Boobs” that outed all those actresses who had bared their breasts for the [white slavers of Jew-controlled Hollywood]. (See Andrew Klavan’s new piece Then compare Klavan’s defense of MacFarlane with my own analysis:

Similarly, conservatives are on board with the obviously misogynistic insult to mothers when they call the paternalistic welfare state “the nanny state”.  Or take the impressively educated actor David Duchovny, interviewed on NPR last week, who explained why he could watch The Godfather over and over, for he was captivated by Marlon Brando’s transition from Mafia don to murderer, which is Duchovny’s idea of fatherhood, a point he made quite clearly.

Or take yet another example from the hip media: the much-admired series The Good Wife seems to celebrating opportunism over the moral quandaries it had previously explored in a successful Chicago law firm. “Alicia” (played by Julianna Margulies) has made the transition from self-torturing moralist to opportunist, and is demonstrably mean to the (exploited) associates in her new role as “equity partner.” Will the writers take her down in future episodes? I doubt it, because I suspect that “mean” is the new “cool,” and the chic Margulies, dressed to the nines with very high heels, is the role model du jour. Nice guys and gals finish last, and Alicia will go with the winner.

Freud and his ever dwindling followers warned about the brutalization of culture during and after the Great War. Even that outpost of balance and moderation the Wall Street Journal ran a story about female executives persecuting their female underlings, illustrating their piece with a gigantic spike heeled black shoe, the very symbol of sadism and masochism. See the first page of Section C, March 2-3, 2013: “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee: Women who reached positions of power were supposed to be mentors to those who followed—but something is amiss in the professional sisterhood.”


“Mean Streets,” the continued coolness of that train wreck Lindsay Lohan, the viewer interest in The Following, all point to a culture where cruelty is celebrated, and niceness is wimpy and old hat, something our grandparents wear, like sensible shoes. (Note that the dimunitive female mentee above is wearing flat shoes.)

Louboutin "Fetish Ballerine"

Louboutin “Fetish Ballerine”

Underneath all this sadism is the lesson the professoriate failed to spot in analyzing classic American literature. For instance, Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Man of the Crowd” gives the game away. This symbol of the urban mob is revealed as Pierrot, as the Wandering Jew, as the murderer Cain with hairy hands. As the story line of The Following plays out, expect to see the charismatic serial killer (James Purefoy) and his hunter (Kevin Bacon) meld into one fearsome intertwined specter. Both will be heartless and mean, the very embodiment of the barbarism that Freud detected in 1915, for we are not civilized yet.

The too civilized, too nice Mitt Romney, looking at his wife with adoring eyes, never had a chance.



  1. […] performance at the Oscars 2013, for moral laxity should be boldly and freshly confronted. (See, and […]

    Pingback by Do paleoconservatives want a theocracy? | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — March 14, 2013 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  2. Unfortunately, politics has descended to (or perhaps, never been elevated from) demonizing one’s opponent’s character. In this year’s cycle, Romney was at a disadvantage because any personal attack on Obama would have been accompanied by cries of racism.

    Comment by Bob Ennis — March 5, 2013 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

    • MSM did their best to smear all Republicans with the tag of racism. A variant on their identifying Republicans with Fascism during the late 1930s and 40s. Sadly, some deserved the label, but sympathy with Italian Fascism in particular was a well-known feature of many New Dealers.

      Comment by clarespark — March 5, 2013 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  3. Clare:
    Recently made [nearly] the same point in another board, albeit with much less depth and flair. Nice to see it confirmed here. What to do, what to do when the cleanest, most qualified person to assume an executive position can’t make it past the identity political character assassination machine, something is very wrong. Mitt Romney’s dog? For real? Anyone?

    Comment by Terbreugghen — March 4, 2013 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

    • Oh, and looked forward to Kevin Bacon’s attempt to match Kyra Sedgwick’s success with “The Closer,” only to find a horribly written mash-up of Hannibal Lecter meets Edgar Alan Poe meets Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo meets Ted Bundy training academy. YIKES! Watched two episodes because we thought the first one was a mistake and might be redeemed. I suppose if one likes helplessly watching pointless slaughter with an attempt at art-school derivative “authenticity” in the killing “style,” OK. Just sad as hell this is what someone with power in Hollywood thinks of the rest of us; or worse, that they might be right.

      Comment by Terbreugghen — March 4, 2013 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  4. Oh yes, gentle Mitt of “Democrat party” and the moocher 47%. Not to mention the consensus media term “decent” for George H.W. Bush, he of the Pledge of Allegiance and Willie Horton campaign.

    But when the Republican standard of politesse is set by Rush Limbaugh, he of “Moochelle,” the bar is low enough for anybody else to clear with ease.

    Comment by Jonathan Morse — March 4, 2013 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

    • My short blog condemned all sadism and masochism. For instance, Andrew Klavan (one of my targets) is a man of the conservative Right. If you know something about Mitt and Ann that puts them in the same bag as sadists and masochists, out with it please. As for Mitt’s remark about the 47%, he apologized for it, but though the figure is lower, dependency on largesse has never been shown to breed independence. Romney’s compassion for the weak and suffering is well documented. Would you like to defend the able-bodied consumer of taxpayer dollars?

      Comment by clarespark — March 4, 2013 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

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