If you hadn’t noticed, the world is in the midst of a conservative moment. The signs are everywhere. Madonna has taken her leather fetish gear out of the mothballs and is self-flagellating in her videos, asking God to punish her for being a bad ‘girl’; heavy metal bands are crawling all over each other to announce which Republican candidate they will endorse—which might include that antediluvian flat-Earther Rick Santorum, who has single-handedly brought back the sweater vest; Christian conservative sports stars like Tebow and Lin are all the rage; the most famous supermodel of the era, the stunningly boring Gisele Bundchen, is a shill for a Brazilian bank and married to a Ken doll football quarterback; and in cinema, cloying Oscar-bait like The Artist and My Week With Marilyn promote nostalgia for the 50s—the most conservative decade of the last century. (I know, The Artist is set in the 20s, but it’s really just a substandard retread of that 50s whitewash of the silent era, Singin’ in the Rain.) It’s 2012 nostalgia for the 50s nostalgia of the Reagan 80s, but with worse music and style. If you can fathom that.
Yes, a brand new wave of creeping, creepy conservatism is currently sweeping the world, and attention must be paid. Every time I visit another country it seems like a new right-wing government has recently been voted into power. The latest example is Spain’s most populous region, Andalusia, which was a socialist stronghold for 30 years until this past week. (Granted, it didn’t receive the majority many expected, but Spain’s swift shift to the right is undeniable.) Meanwhile former Nazi Youth member and condom eschewer Pope Benedict XVI recently invaded Mexico for the first time before stopping in Cuba, marking the second-ever papal visit to the Communist citadel. (If the pope celebrating mass in Revolution Square isn’t an act of blasphemy—not to mention a sign of the impending apocalypse—I don’t know what is.) Lately, it seems that if the world shifts any further to the right we will be spinning in a different galaxy.
In bloody old England last week, news footage showed scrooging conservative Prime Minister David Cameron giving a rousing round of applause to stuffy old Queen Elizabeth II, celebrating her Diamond Jubilee—60 years of that cobwebbed cooze occupying the throne—with opposition Labour Party chief Ed Milibrand standing beside him in competitive thrall. Whatever happened to labor-based, working class Republicanism (the British term for the anti-Monarchist movement)? Milibrand, head of the party that once championed the plebeians, stood elbow to elbow with his archconservative rival, who had just passed a budget that introduced the ‘Granny Tax,’ a measure that effectively snatches food from the mouths of the elderly poor and shoves it into the greedy gullets of millionaires receiving unprecedented tax cuts. And the Labour leader couldn’t even muster one vituperative sneer at the richest bitch in the world? (Pardon my French. I was going to say “cunt,” but that would have been unchivalrous.)
While we’re on the subject of England, according to the Guardian, abortion is also back on the table, so to speak. Or rather, off the table, with ‘pro-life’ campaigners introducing anti-abortion propaganda in schools and haranguing women seeking abortions outside clinics, while hackers threaten to release lists on the internet of women who’ve had abortions, and abortion-providers are accused of profiteering from the services they offer. Will women soon be expected to take gin baths and drink pennyroyal tea to induce abortions, as in previous centuries? How positively Elizabethan (the First)!
Back in the USSA, Young Americans—not quite as complex as the ones David Bowie sang about in the 70s—have stock portfolios, support Ron Paul, and listen to—horrors—Jay-Z. You can’t get more antidisestablishmentarian than that. Even the promiscuous alcoholic youths of today are conservative—witness Snooki (now pregnant) and her Jersey Shore ilk espousing traditional family values and generally acting like young Republicans on a permanently zoned-out spring break. So much for the new sexual revolution. Conservative camp is the order of the day, with Republican drag queens like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich performing outlandish conservative burlesque on the Fox News stage.
Even the gays are donning conservative drag these days: J. Edgar, a campy remake of Alfred Hithcock’s Psycho, attempts to recuperate the ultra-reactionary former cross-dressing director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, by presenting him as a poor, repressed mamma’s boy who may have been a great American hero if only he had been allowed to have an open, sexually honest, and, of course, monogamous relationship with his right-hand man, Clyde Tolson. It’s gay conservative camp!
Speaking of which, slacktivist hero and Kony 2012 mastermind (and evangelical Christian) Jason Russell released the most widely seen viral video in the history of YouTube, a slick infomercial in the style of an updated 50s Eisenhower campaign ad, completely misinterpreting the geo-political situation in central Africa and unwittingly promoting American military intervention in the continent under the naïve guise of humanitarianism. A week later the poor lad had a psychotic episode and was picked up by the police, mincing naked in a disturbingly campy fashion and allegedly masturbating in public on a San Diego street. (You might think twice about dicking around with global viruses, which used to be something you tended to avoid, like the plague.)
It’s easy to sit back and laugh at the camp conservative political situation that is currently playing out across the globe, but it might not be so funny when you’re a senior citizen with no social security who can’t afford your medication and your teeth are falling out.