The Rise of Liberty Pop Culture

--“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say.

“Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences.

“When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world…

“No… You move.”

Captain America Quote 1

We just saw the hit-movie Captain America: Winter Soldier last weekend. The memes are right. Captain America is, in fact, libertarian.

The movie, says Jeremy Lott on Rare.us, “pits Captain America, an old fashioned guy who stands for American ideals of liberty, against the modern national security state.”

In the end, says Lott: “These heroes, costumed and otherwise, strike a blow against the bad guys. They do so by sending the growing security state back to the drawing board.”

Captain America Quote 2

Boo-ya.

But that’s not all. Captain America, we’re beginning to notice, is only one example of many where ideas of liberty have leaked into hit movies and pop culture.

Brett Bittner, Executive Director of the Advocates For Self-Government, confirmed as much on the Liberator Online blog: “There is a wave of anti-authoritarian messaging in many popular teen novels that became blockbuster movies like the Hunger Games and Divergent series’ with strong female leads like Katniss and Tris exercising independent will and standing up to tyrannical central authorities.

“We see similar messaging,” Bittner goes on, “in animated films like The LEGO Movie (which I LOVE) and The Nut Job for younger audiences.

Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson was a libertarian hero for many and Community’s Jeff Winger and Californication’s Hank Moody both self-identified as libertarians.

Quote

“One of the longest running and most consistent libertarian television shows, South Park, began my senior year of high school and begins its 19th season next month. On a recent flight, I even read this book about the libertarian lessons the show contains.

Trey Parker Quote

“The stand-up comedy world also features Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan, while actors like Vince Vaughn, Dax Shepard and Glenn Jacobs recently ‘came out’ as libertarian thinkers.

Vince Vaughn Quote

“Recently, musicians Big Boi (from the hip hop group, OutKast), country music singer Kacey Musgraves, and Aimee Allen released songs with strong libertarian messages.”

Famous rapper Prodigy, in his newest album Hegelian Dialectic, takes a libertarian bent, too. He has a song titled “Tyranny,” in which he raps: “Race don’t matter, Your faith don’t matter. The enemy is government tyranny, all that other [expletive deleted] don’t matter… Toxic politicians, the system is rigged, but go ‘head and vote… Your wish don’t matter. You’re broke? Don’t matter. The enemy, they’re threatening our liberties, all the other [expletive deleted] don’t matter.”

Hegelian Dialectic Album Cover

--Good news: This trend, as luck would have it, hasn’t gone unnoticed by State-loving bootlickers, either.

Here is, for example, an article by Ewan Morrison at the Guardian about this disturbing (and likely offensive) development…

The Hunger Games

Huh? What does that even mean?

The article begins, we must warn you, with a solemn statement: Young Adult dystopian fiction, Ewan weeps, ain’t what it used to be.

“What marks these dystopias out from previous ones,” Mr. Morrison mopes, “is that almost without question the bad guys are not the corporations but the state and those well-meaning liberal leftists who want to make the world a better place.

“Books” he broods, “such as The Giver, Divergent and the Hunger Games trilogy are, whether intentionally or not, substantial attacks on many of the foundational projects and aims of the left: big government, the welfare state, progress, social planning and equality.

“They support one of the key ideologies that the left has been battling against for a century: the idea that human nature, rather than nurture, determines how we act and live. These books propose a laissez-faire existence, with heroic individuals who are guided by the innate forces of human nature against evil social planners.”

[Cue “Gasps!” From Crowd]

But, fortunately, says Morrison, perking up a bit, it’s only a phase. This wellspring of pro-liberty idealism, he makes clear, is nothing more than our collective inner-child purging its past immaturities: “This generation of YA dystopian novels,” he explains, “is really our neoliberal society dreaming its last nightmares about the threat of communism, socialism and the planned society. We’ve simplified it to make it a story we can tell to children and in so doing we’ve calmed the child inside us.”

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What the hell did he just say?
Not animated? Click here.

In other words, we suppose, Hunger Games, in a more sane state of mind, would’ve ended on the following moral…

Hunger Games

But that’s not even the best part. What seems to tick off Morrison the most is the incredibly large number of kids being indoctrinated by this anti-statist propaganda: “this genre may, in terms of book sales, be one of the largest markets in the history of publishing, so the message that left-wing utopians are inherently dangerous and potentially evil is hitting a lot of impressionable people.

“The quantity of books consumed here is staggering,” Morrison wallows. “The Hunger Games trilogy netted 36.5 million copies, while the Hunger Games movie was the third biggest movie premier of all time and Catching Fire broke box office records, while the Divergent trilogy held the top first, second and third places in the American bestseller list at the start of 2014 with 10 million sales of the first book in the trilogy.”

And, guess what?The pro-liberty pop culture trend continues: The latest of which has shown up in Zootopia, an animated movie set in a mammal metropolis which subtly (and oftentimes not-so-subtly) critiques the statist quo.

In today’s episode, Jeffrey Tucker is here to give you a review of Zootopia (Spoiler Alert), and show you how to protect your kids from its horrific messages of peace, cooperation and opportunity for all.

Read on…

Zootopia Seems Strangely Familiar

Jeffrey Tucker

Do I even need to tell you that Zootopia is a wonderful movie? Of course it is.

There is a reason it is wildly successful. It is hilarious, touching, memorable, and, as “kids’ movies” tend to be, surreptitiously sophisticated.

Disney has mastered the art of using animation and fantasy worlds to reveal truths about our own world. This company has been doing this for several generations. Sometimes these truths are too uncomfortable to put in live action and are better conveyed in cartoons.

In both its plot and its lessons, Zootopia is right on top of the moment. On the serious side, it deals with sensitive topics concerning race, ethnicity, language, and what it means to belong in a heterogenous population.

On the not-so-serious side, there is just something funny about watching talking animals use the latest smartphone technology. Instead of flashlights, for example, they use the flashlight app on the phone.

The Politics of Zootopia

Most importantly, it has a political message that we desperately need to hear.

Whenever I encounter a presentation of government in any idealized fiction, I want to know: what type of state is this? A minimalist state, a personal state, a nation-state, a technocratic state, or a dystopian total state?

Zootopia is a classic big-city intrusive government, with permits for everything, regulations on everything, and an insatiable hunger for revenue. So it falls somewhere between technocratic and total, while still allowing some room for enterprise to flourish.

What this state does for people — beyond divide them and waste their time — is not all that clear.

More profoundly, the film is an allegory of a main problem that confronts every society today: the politics of mixed populations with unitary states that are prone to capture and corruption.

How do we as individuals deal with it? Can we see through the propaganda, or will we run with the mob and seek solutions based on group or class identity?

I hope adults bother to see it.

Smart Bunny

The plot revolves around an ambitious young bunny, Judy Hopps, who imagines that she can do more than just inherit the family’s carrot business located out in the country.

Her parents worry that she will face disappointment and urge her to curb her hopes. They especially worry for her when she says she wants to move to the big city Zootopia, which serves as a stand-in for New York City.

Here is a place with animals of all sorts. Yet, one thing that has never happened is that a bunny becomes a police officer, which is what our hoppity heroine dreams of doing.

Determined to press forward, Judy practices her policing skills in her own neighborhood, demanding that a fox return the loot he stole from bunny’s friends. The fox hurts her in the scuffle. This scene reveals an underlying tension in the film: the biological division between the predatory animals and the prey.

For the most part, there is peace, but old fears die hard. Her father sends her off to the city with fox repellent, just in case.

Upon arriving in the city, she begins with a sense of idealism. But her ideals are gradually shattered by professional barriers to her success. She is put down and disparaged for being a bunny. She also learns that diversity is complex.

Certain animals seem inclined toward certain behaviors, some of which are criminal. In particular, there has been a rash of crimes being committed by large predators. Judy solves the crime but holds a press conference in which she blames biology for the violence, thereby whipping up both the media and the public in a frenzy of fear and loathing.

Politicians Divide the Animals

As the plot thickens, Judy gradually comes to discover an amazing truth. The political elites in the city are not committed to solving the problem or finding better ways to help people get along.

On the contrary, they are plotting to turn animals against each other in ways that cause the public to be more dependent on them. Here we have the deep critique of the state itself that one does not expect in a movie presumably made for children.

In case the philosophy here is too deep, the film offers a more poignant critique of public services.

Judy Hopps begins her police job as a meter maid (instead of a crime fighter) and is immediately given a quota to fulfill. Thus does the state benefit when people fail to keep the law — the most profound truth about the history of law that one can discover. She does one better and massively exceeds the quota, only to face public anger: why don’t you solve some real crimes?

The best of the best is the scene in the DMV. Bunny is in a rush to find out some information from the department. She’s stunned to see that, for some reason, the entire department is staffed by sloths. Sloths! They are hilariously slow. The people in the theater I was in broke up in wild and knowing laughter.

At last, here is a theme that pulls together the whole of American society: everyone understands what a disaster the government service is at the DMV. And consider too that the DMV is one of the few almost universal points of contact between average citizens and their government. Sloths indeed! The people loathe every minute of it.

As for the big takeaway, because it is Disney, it has to be hopeful, right? And it is.

Everyone learns the truth about government, about the need to not let anything or anyone stand in the way of your dreams, and the capacity of all people to be peaceful and cooperative.

The movie ends with a beautiful tribute to peace and opportunity for all, nicely summed up in a pop song sung by a gazelle voiced by Shakira.

As in Zootopia, so in real life.

Regards,

Jeffrey Tucker
Founder, Liberty.me

Chris Campbell

Written By Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell is the Managing editor of Laissez Faire Today. Before joining Agora Financial, he was a researcher and contributor to SilverDoctors.com.