Matthew Yglesias has some rather trenchant remarks occasioned by Ross Douthat’s column on Funny People. Agreeing with Douthat that the reason American audiences haven’t enjoyed Apatow’s new film is that it portrays the conservative choice (in the case of the movie not ruining a marriage) as difficult, and indeed as something which doesn’t make it all work out. Americans want to be conservative–except when it is hard.
He makes a good point about this phenomenon in regard to homosexuality:
I think this explains a lot about the appeal of anti-gay crusades to social conservative leaders. Most of what “traditional values” asks of people is pretty hard. All the infidelity and divorce and premarital sex and bad parenting and whatnot take place because people actually want to do the things traditional values is telling them not to do. And the same goes for most of the rest of the Christian recipe. Acting in a charitable and forgiving manner all the time is hard. Loving your enemies is hard. Turning the other cheek is hard. Homosexuality is totally different. For a small minority of the population, of course, the injunction “don’t have sex with other men!” (or, as the case may be, other women) is painfully difficult to live up to. But for the vast majority of people this is really, really easy to do. Campaigns against gay rights, gay people, and gay sex thus have a lot of the structural elements of other forms of crusading against sexual excess or immorality, but they’re not really asking most people to do anything other than become self-righteous about their pre-existing preferences.