Yesterday, I proposed our rights are a “use them or lose them” proposition, writing that we should exercise every right out loud before the Deep State believes your rights are a minority or you don’t care if the Deep State takes that right away. The Deep State coopts power incrementally, it works around the margins, confiscating the rights of people in small tranches and before you know it, things in which the government has no business are banned.
And I believe this goes for culture as well.
As Mike Campbell in Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” said about his bankruptcy, it happens “Gradually, and then suddenly.”
This modern authoritarian misanthropic culture movement gobbles up your agency as an individual a teaspoon at a time because if they went for the entire bowl of cake batter too quickly, you are going to see what they are doing and refuse to allow it.
I was tipped to an interesting article by an email from a group of free-thinking, independent people who maintain a beachhead in my old community of Park City, Utah.
Through world-roaming and career changes, for 28 years my wife and I maintained a home in Park City. That is until late 2021 when the ROI of living there just didn’t make sense to us any longer. PC’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes of the closure of the silver mines and near abandonment post-WII, Park City’s ski bum culture had a leftist, screw the man, leave me alone, do your own thing skew. Over the years though, it became Aspen West, the playground mecca of rich, wanna-be second-string Klaus Schwab types whose militant progressivism combined with prestige bought with nouveau riche money destroyed the quirk and charm of a little ski town where 95% of the restaurants closed after ski-season was over and kids in the Park City school system got season ski passes for $49 a year.
The quirk of Park City is why Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute reinvented an existing film festival in Park City to showcase independent films that deserved attention. These films were financed on a shoestring but legitimately good and just as quirky as the town. It was also a place where movies could be used to poke at the majority conservative and religious culture of Utah, a rebellious anachronism of sorts.
It was a match made in heaven.
But that little film festival in an out of the way ski town twenty minutes east of the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was doomed by its own success.
Little by little, corporate Hollywood took over. Today, these “independent” films are independent in name only, many are already backed with Hollywood money. Rather than a forum for cinematic art, the Sundance Film festival has become a strip mall shopping center for showcasing films that push the limits of contemporary culture and politics.
In short, the changes in Sundance mirrors the changes in the little ski town with which we fell in love over 30 years ago.
So here in 2023, after a two year absence due to the covid panicdemic, Sundance is back and this time they mean business.
Woke, ESG, neoliberal sort of business of course.
Gary Geipel, a communications consultant and writer based in Indianapolis, wanted to get tickets to the online version of the festival – to enable him to watch the new movies from his home in Indiana.
Chronicling his efforts to do so in this past Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Mr. Geipel found that a “two plus two equals five” loyalty oath to woke neoliberalism is required just to buy tickets to view the movies online:
“…when I logged in to buy tickets, I was stopped at the virtual door.
The site wouldn’t sell me tickets unless I affirmed the festival’s ‘Community Agreement.’ Among other things, I had to promise to be ‘vigilant in the fight against the spread of COVID-19,’ to avoid ‘unwelcome sexual attention, harassment, stalking, and inappropriate physical contact of any kind,’ and to refrain from ‘abuse or intimidation including that related to race, gender, position, or wealth.’
What if I slipped up and engaged in ‘intimidation related to wealth,’ whatever that means? Someone could squeal using a ‘name-optional reporting form,’ and the complaint would be ‘taken seriously and reviewed carefully by Sundance Institute’s Safety & Belonging team.’ The team has the authority to impose ‘exclusion from Sundance Institute programs, platforms, or spaces—including a complete ban on further participation in any Institute program or event.’”
I began laughing when I got to the “intimidation related to wealth” part because Sundance now exists to be a venue where ostentatious wealth is lorded over the peasants.
“So what?” one might ask. “Its just to buy tickets. It doesn’t matter.”
No, it is more than that.
You either swear an unnecessary oath to something you don’t believe to gain access to something you want (which is progressive neoliberal culture in a nutshell) or you actually believe this kind of authoritarianism is peachy keen.
Either way, a piece of your soul is taken in exchange.
It is for that reason I keep this quote from Thomas Jefferson’s 1816 letter to Samuel Kercheval taped to the frame of my computer monitor:
“A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering.”