Dave Neiwert and I have been writing a book for over two months now and in my research I discovered how easily manipulated movement conservatives from the 70's and 80's are when it comes to characters they see in film and television. It also extends to today, since we've seen how the torture scenes in 24 have also had an impact on right-wingers.
I never believed previously that music or TV shows could really influence people in their thinking because we can discern the difference between reality and fiction, but not so for conservatives. After right-wing extremist conservatives like Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist watched the movie Patton, they totally flipped out over it and became obsessed with the anti-communism and pro-military stances it championed. They believed Scott was real.
In Nina Easton's book, Gang of Five, she detailed Ralph Reed and other College Republican leaders' reactions to George C. Scott's performance in the movie:
Several hundred college students cheering a call to arms is something I shall not forget. In short order, gruesome Patton guerrilla talk became Ralph's forte: "I paint my face and travel at night," he infamously explained to a reporter ten years later. "You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag."
One year, the College Republicans Christmas card featured a photo of Patton standing on a stone, binoculars in hand, under the words, "Merry Christmas from the front." Abramoff, who cultivated an image of a reasonable adult, forswore Patton's gutter language (though he got a thrill out of the fact that screen writer Francis Ford Coppola had intended his audiences to be horrified by Patton's antics, when in reality young conservatives fell in love with the tyrannical general.)
So I fell off my couch laughing when Bill O'Reilly inserted scenes from Patton to attack President Obama's Afghanistan speech with the other night. Movement conservatives obviously view war as a fictitious movie, explosions and intense battles used for nothing more than dramatic effect. And the lives lost are but mere props.
They actually believed that George C. Scott was General Patton, and so they want Democratic politicians to live up to an Oscar-winning actor's performance rather than the reality we actually face. Whenever progressives pointed out Bush's awful communication skills, they defended him at every turn. Conservatives often criticize Obama's speeches because he's too mesmerizing and effective for them and they hate that, because George Bush failed miserably when he tried to communicate with the public.
O'Reilly: Talking points believes the bigger problem is Mr. Obama's lack of passion for victory. What the nation needed to hear last night was a little General Patton...
No matter how you feel about the speech (I want out of Afghanistan)this illustrates the kind of delusional reality conservatives labor under on a daily basis. BillO is looking for Obama to be George C. Scott instead of the president of the United States. Simply amazing. We want action not words.