The Decline and Fall of Culture11

Created: March 24, 2009 12:06 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Charles Homans delves into the history of Culture11, the witty, wide-ranging libertarian/conservative web magazine (full disclosure: I wrote for it) that collapsed with the economic crisis. The whole thing’s worth reading, especially for the accurate transcription of one of former C11er James Poulos’s questions (“In the interest of being more than provocative, are we ever going to be able to address the question of cultural necessitarianism without being confident that we’re getting our cultural criticism right?”), and for the sad conclusion:

It was a grimly funny coincidence that around the time Culture11’s financial well was running dry, another Web site sharing its subject matter debuted to much greater fanfare in the right-wing media than Kuo’s project ever received: Big Hollywood, an entertainment and politics blog created by Andrew Breitbart, a conservative Los Angeles–based Internet entrepreneur who helped launch both the Drudge Report and Huffington Post. Beneath an angry vermillion-colored banner, the blog offers recurring features like the “Celebutard of the Week”—tracking the latest vapidly liberal political utterances from the likes of Cher—and clips of the best conservative moments in film interspersed with rote breaking news from the entertainment industry. It’s supposed to eventually host cultural musings from such notable film critics as House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor; commenting on a scene in the new thriller The International in which the characters shoot it out in the Guggenheim Museum, one Big Hollywood contributor coos approvingly, “I love seeing modern (phony) art destroyed.”

The best conservative/gleeful take on why Culture11 failed came from Robert Stacy McCain, whose arguments are too numerous to summarize here, but can be boiled down to: “If you want to create a brand of conservatism that doesn’t yet exist, you have to do more than write columns and movie reviews.” If you want to write columns and movie reviews, they have to be in the “liberals are awful and destroying freedom” mold.

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