Let's Nip This 'Judd Apatow, Neoconservative' Thing in the Bud


It's inevitable: Every summer, some conservative asshat ventures out of his office to see his one allotted movie of the season, then boasts that this blockbuster entertainment actually hides a hidden conservative message! Last year, we learned that Batman (you know, from The Dark Knight) is actually George W. Bush, which probably accounts for how popular that movie was. This year, claims NYT columnist Ross Douthat, our Republican message movie is Funny People. I'm afraid I'm gonna have to do a line-by-line rebuttal on this one, folks.

No contemporary figure has done more than [Funny People director Judd] Apatow, the 41-year-old auteur of gross-out comedies, to rebrand social conservatism for a younger generation that associates it primarily with priggishness and puritanism.

That's news to everyone (especially since younger generations currently associate social conservatism with vehement intolerance), but continue!

No recent movie has made the case for abortion look as self-evidently awful as "Knocked Up," Apatow's 2007 keep-the-baby farce.

Knocked Up barely touched on the abortion issue at all, skittishly calling it a "shmashmortion" and then moving on. Through Douthat's skewed lens, Juno is practically a Chick Tract.

No movie has made saving -- and saving, and saving -- your virginity seem as enviable as "The 40-Year Old Virgin," whose closing segue into connubial bliss played like an infomercial for True Love Waits.

Yes, well, a sex-fearing misogynist neck beard might misread Virgin in that way, but no sane moviegoer's first takeaway from the film was, "I wish I'd waited that long to have sex, filling my down time with loneliness and action figures!"

Just to reiterate: Douthat, who is afraid of sex and disgusted by birth control, called Steve Carell's 40-year virginity "enviable." Writing editorials like this one will help you achieve that goal, Ross.

More than most Westerners, Americans believe -- deeply, madly, truly -- in the sanctity of marriage. But we also have some of the most liberal divorce laws in the developed world, and one of the highest divorce rates. We sentimentalize the family, but boast one of the highest rates of unwed births.

Yes, well, I can think of one very famous unwed birth of recent vintage. Teenage and Republican, in fact!

Guys, it goes on and on, but here's the most essential bit of it: Douthat's argument is that aspiring to a healthy family (a goal in many of Apatow's films) is an inherently conservative principle, which is a total canard any way you look at it. Allow me to expound on your point, Ross: People of every political persuasion desire a loving family, but only social conservatives seek to dictate exactly what kind of family fits those parameters. (Also, Apatow's veneration of the family unit would appear to be principally inspired by his parents' traumatic divorce, as he told us, and not neoconservatism.)

Still, it is fun to watch Republican sites like Big Hollywood fall in line with this brand-new talking point. Two days ago, Funny People's middling box office was proof positive that Americans have rejected Apatow's endorsement of pot-smoking, swear words, and cunnilingus. Today, he is our new Rush Limbaugh, but with dick jokes.

· The Unfunny Truth [NYT]


  • the kid says:

    I'm printing my red, white, and blue "Apatow 2012" bumper stickers as I type this!

  • Colander says:

    I kind of see where Douthat is coming from. The first thing that will pop into a lot of conservatives' heads when they see the direction of the 'morality' in an Apatow movie is "See! That's what I think too!"
    They may be misunderstanding the premise, but then they probably never really stopped to think about it.

  • Lowbrow says:

    Damn, you attacked that stooges' column like Kirstie Alley at a Sizzler! And I, for one, was thoroughly entertained & grateful.

  • icallthebigonebitey says:

    I think the most Apatow could be accused of is being a Limousine Liberal, and he's hardly alone in that regard.

  • Jeff says:

    Has anyone else noticed that when given the chance, female characters don't have abortions? Knocked Up, Juno, Defying Gravity (TV show) For a group that presumably supports the right to have abortions (hollywood types), why don't they go through with it on screen?

  • Morgo says:

    Maybe because its traumatic and not very much fun to do or watch.

  • The Kid says:

    Isn't "Maude" one of the only shows where a character went through with an abortion?
    If they do get rid of the fetus, there's always some sort of accident.
    Or they conveniently get rid of the mother, making it look like she lost the baby, but secretly she had it, only to bring it back when the father has finally fallen in love with someone else so it can screw up his life.

  • rodger says:

    Juno, Knocked-Up would be very short movies if they did.
    And Defying Gravity is an abortion.

  • Rattus says:

    Supporting personal choice with regard to one's own body and reproductive processes doesn't actually mean one wants to have an abortion.

  • Jeff says:

    To be fair to Douthat, he wrote on film for years before he became a Times columnist, and I believe he's still technically a film critic for the National Review. Some of his opinions obviously suck, but he's actually a pretty clear-eyed and smart guy from what I can tell.

  • Victor Ward says:

    Wasn't there that one very special episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air? If I recall correctly, Ashley discovered she was with child, went to the clinic, and had "the procedure" done. All goes according to plan, until - uh oh! - she boards the elevator and her fetus jar happens to be there - awkward! Even worse, the elevator breaks down - hilarity! Eventually, though, the close quarters cause both parties to come to terms with each other, and a valuable lesson about something or other is learned.

  • Jeeshman says:

    Kyle Buchanan is right, but... are all the writers for Movieline such total liberal douchebags? No wonder I don't come here very often.

  • np says:

    I think YOU'RE misreading what he's saying about Virgin, but that aside, I do tend to think of Apatow's films as leaning to the conservative side, and it's hardly a secret that his films are completely heterocentrist/phallocentric (if not outright homophobic and sexist). Cue flamage.

  • Robert says:

    I think I probably would agree with your conclusions but you realize that all you did was take ad hominem jabs at the guy without making any arguments yourself. You should seriously be ashamed for taking the time to drag a guy's name through the mud without engaging in thoughtful dialogue.