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Rending of hair, and so on

I thought this review was interesting as a sample of flawed political discourse. Also fun for those who want to hear about how Happy Feet is a dangerous, offensive movie, but I’m gonna shine a flashlight on the clever rhetorical trick. Or, in this case, probably not a clever rhetorical trick — it’s probably just a guy who doesn’t realize exactly what kind of hyperbole he’s engaging in.

The trick is this: you take someone generally considered to be offensive on your side of the political spectrum, and you take a behavior you disapprove of on the other side of the political spectrum, and you say “it’s OK to disagree with me, but that behavior is exactly like this offensive person!” It gives you this veneer of reason, cause you’re being all rational and bipartisan and admitting there are slimeballs on your side of the fence. However, it also irrationally conflates what may be perfectly reasonable behavior with behavior that is generally accepted as slimy.

E.g., Pat Robertson:

Calling this Liberal is like those people that call Pat Robertson a conservative. Real conservatives cringe at that statement. No, he is an ultra right wing Christian neo conservative who teaches the word of Christ out of one side of his mouth and then calls openly for the public assassination of the democratically elected leader of a sovereign nation out of the other. No. Real conservatives stand as far away from that scary goon as humanly possible.

Aw, that’s awesome. He’s condemning a guy who calls for assassination! That shows he’s rational.

Happy Feet is the Liberal Pat Robertson.

Well, there you go. Happy Feet might as well be calling for public assassination. Wait…

Happy Feet is liberal like that unwashed hippie wearing the Look to the skies T-shirt that climbs and handcuffs himself to a tree to prevent someone from knocking down a forest on their own land.

You can have mixed opinions about the morality of people who cuff themselves to trees, sure. However, I think it is reasonably clear that calling for assassination is somewhat lower on the morality scale than tree-cuffing. Cause one involves death, and the other does not.

The review goes on to explain that Footloose is evil because the hero doesn’t believe that God forbids dance — um. Wait. No. That’s the plot of Happy Feet, in this case, but it’s definitely evil. Maybe it was evil in Footloose, too, I dunno. He’s pretty convinced that there’s something clearly wrong with it here — “Still not making up a single word.” After that there are a lot of spoilers, so I won’t keep going, but wow.

This shows up all the time on political blogs. Not quite as often in movie reviews. Good trick to recognize when you see it.

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