|"Get off my lawn" -- conservative viewers experienced a little death during this scene.|
I was reminded recently of the 2008 film Gran Torino, which starred Clint Eastwood and received high marks from critics and viewers alike. I would like to preface my comments here by acknowledging up front that Gran Torino is a very effective and well-made film, and on many levels I enjoyed it. I also want to make clear that I do not assume that the aspects of the film I am about to discuss were so crafted purposively – I highly doubt, actually, that anyone involved in the production of the film participated for the sake of pushing a conservative agenda, or even had any consciousness about the fact that the film is, in many ways, a profoundly conservative one.
I would also like to acknowledge that the film is far from all bad. Indeed, its core message - that we can be inspired to be our better selves through a human connection with someone who previously, we might not have even recognized as fully human - is a good one indeed. So I feel a little bad going after a film whose heart is actually in the right place.
However, the enthusiasm with which the conservatives in my life – we can assume I am related to them and leave it at that – embraced this film told me from the beginning that something was amiss. Upon viewing the film, my suspicions were confirmed – for rather than a film that confronts Americans with the realities of structural racial and economic inequality, Gran Torino is a film that panders to the comforting clichés of boot-strap and colorblind ideology.