Which movie should right-minded conservatives and libertarians be rooting for at the Oscars?
The short answer is: the one that’s best. That’s because unlike liberal-lefties, we’re meritocrats and therefore not the types to vote a movie “Best Picture” purely on account, say, of how righteously bad it makes us feel about the awfulness of the slave trade.
If you didn’t know better, you’d think that Dallas Buyers Club, too, fit into that Hollywood liberal guilt-trip category. After all, it’s set in the mid-Eighties during the early days of the AIDS epidemic; it’s partly about a homophobe’s journey to enlightenment (by the end he’s actually shacked up with a gay transvestite, though not in the biblical sense); and it’s got Jared Leto as a drag queen so adorable that even Uganda’s gay-bashing President Museveni would want to take him home and mother him.
But don’t let any of that distract you from the underlying truth. Just as Captain Phillips is a liberal movie masquerading as a conservative one (as my friend Toby Young explained here, all that macho, special forces stuff is just a cover for what is really another bleeding-heart exercise inviting us to blame ourselves for Third World poverty in general and Somali piracy in particular), so Dallas Buyers Club is a conservative movie masquerading as a liberal one.
All the gay stuff and AIDs stuff and right-wing-redneck-sees-the-light stuff is just liberal eyewash to help it get funding–and sympathetic reviews in Attitude, etc. Its message, though, is so uncompromisingly libertarian-right it could almost have been written by Ayn Rand. This is what happens, it tells us, when government gets too big and when the free market fails.
What happens in the movie is that people die. They’ve got terminal AIDS, they’ve got days left to live, and the State, far from being their friend, helps hasten their demise by insisting that the only drug they may take is the one sanctioned by the regulatory authorities: an early prototype of the drug AZT.
Today AZT is widely used as an effective AIDS treatment. But back in the early days, when they hadn’t got the dosage right, it would kill AIDs victims even more swiftly than the virus did.
Now suppose, like the film’s redneck, rodeo-riding anti-hero Ron Woodroof (Oscar-nominated Matthew McConaughey), you’d found yourself back then diagnosed with AIDS and given just 30 days to live by the doctor. It sure would concentrate the mind, wouldn’t it? With a projected lifespan like that, you’d lose all patience with government laws or procedural nicety. You’d seek the most effective cure, regardless of its cost or how hard it was to procure. What’s more, you’d have a much better incentive than any state functionary would to ascertain through research and the rumor-mill which drug was most effective. For them, after all, it would just be a job. For you, it would be a matter of life or death.
This is the point where Woodroof, enterprising capitalist that he is, spots a gap in the market. There are effective drugs and protein supplements out there which his fellow AIDS victims are desperate to acquire, but they can’t get them legally because they haven’t yet been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–a process which could take months or years. So he takes matters into his own hands, travels across the border into Mexico (and elsewhere), and begins importing the vital drugs which dying men need but which heartless Big Government’s pettifogging love of procedure would deny them.
When did Hollywood ever produce a more unabashed paean to the free market? When did it celebrate so forcefully the primacy of the individual over the dead hand of the State? When did it last make a movie where, instead of big business/the military-industrial complex/conservatives/anyone with an English accent being the bad guys, the real villains are the progressive regulators, in this case the overzealous bureaucrats of the FDA? When did it ever expose to more scorn the liberal shibboleth that without government regulation we would all be at the mercy of raw capitalism?
What Dallas Buyers Club clearly and entertainingly shows is that the free market will always look after your interests better than the government can.
So whatever it wins, chalk it up as a victory for the Tea Party.