How Bonnie, Clyde And Pauline Gunned Down Middlebrow Culture
By Ed Driscoll · July 17, 2008 03:59 PM · Bobos In Paradise · Hollywood, Interrupted · The Return of the Primitive
Leftwing historian Rick Perlstein recently told Reason that "Bonnie and Clyde was the most important text of the New Left." It certainly foreshadowed the radical chic that runs through the liberalism of the late 1960s, from the Black Panthers sipping Martinis in Leonard Bernstein's salon to recurring parodies such Michelle Obama in camo and combat boots clutching an AK-47 on the cover of this week's New Yorker.
Speaking of the New Yorker, how much did Pauline Kael's championing of the movie impact the rest of culture? In my interview with James Lileks on AMC's Mad Men for PJM Political, we discussed the middlebrow culture of the 1950s and early 1960s. That culture was eventually eviscerated, as anyone who turns on a TV or goes to the movies knows all too well. But how much is Pauline Kael to blame?
Her part in the process began four decades ago when she wrote an article for The New Yorker defending Bonnie and Clyde, the 1967 Warren Beatty film that treated two 1930s bank robbers with sympathy and raucous humour.As the above article concludes, "Not long before she died, Pauline Kael remarked to a friend, 'When we championed trash culture we had no idea it would become the only culture.' Who did?"
(Via Jonathan Last.)
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