SiskelnSiskel is a name. It belongsnto a movie reviewer whom thenChicago Tribune, his employer,nprefers to call a “film critic.”nWe entitled what follows withnhis name not because Mr. Siskelnmerits a story, but because henseems to us a paradigm of thosenforces that daily inflict an almost-irreparableninjury upon thenpopular culture. Mr. Siskel is anLiberal Culturenrun-of-the-mill reviewer, shallownand trite, who has never saidnanything interesting, let alonenoriginal, about movies—at least,nto our knowledge. He reacts tonplots and messages with the routinenliberal predictability. Henfaithfully obeys the socio-ideologicalnprecepts set decades agonby the New York Times editorials,nNew York Review of Booksnaesthetics and the born-againnmodish progressivism of his ownnEditor*s Comment continued from page 42npower are venting their anticonservative impulse in a bizarrenway. As we all know, it all started in the 60’s with theoriesnand rhetoric which condemned any concern for cleanHnessnas an immoral camouflage of spiritual rot. Neglect came tonsymbolize progress; slovenliness acquired the status ofnmoral superiority.nIn fact, the very first step on the ladder from poverty upnto a better livelihood is symbolized by a passion for tidiness;nneatness becomes ambition. One has only to visit the homesnof those who have graduated from the slums to a slightlynbetter neighborhood, to look at their children, their Sundaynceremonies. A well-scrubbed aura of tangible order becomesna passion, the metaphor for a better life.nWhich is the triumph of the conservative principle.n11.nA radical ideologue once described a serene village innEngland: “They all seem to be very happy that time hasnstopped here. They resist any idea of change. It’s repulsive!”nI could not understand his outrage. If people are happy, whynshould they seek change.’ Is stability and permanence thenDevil’s invention.’ I, for one, do not know how to separatenthe idea of progress from the idea of stability and permanentnvalues. The destruction of values, in whatever name it isndone, is never progress. Those who do not comprehend thatnblindly hate the conservative principle without having evernunderstood it.*n—Leopold Tyrmandn*This is a portion of a chapter entitled “The Conservative Principle”nfrom The Prudent Progressiiie or an Arcadia of New Wisdom,norgan. Politically he seems tonbe an admirer of Jane Fonda andnThe China Syndrome. He supportsnthe star system and helpsnstars of the Redford type who arendeep into so-called social advocacy.nHe reaches a large numbernof people in Chicagoland withnhis radio and television performances.nWe have yet to spot in hisnwork a single innovative or controversialninterpretation of anmovie —to our mind, a preconditionnof art criticism, one whichnhas been discarded by the schoolnof socialist realism, of course.nStill, boring professional mediocrityndoes not warrant an accusationnof harmfulness. Thendetrimental nature of the Siskelsnin this land came to the fore,nhowever, and in a rather perversenway, when Mr. Siskel, innone of his reviews, took a standnwhich we found highly commendablenand would be happy tonapplaud loudly. He went withnthe utmost ferocity after anmovie, / Spit on Your Grave,nwhich, according to his analysis,nis the most scurrilous, exploitativenpiece of manure ever tonemerge from the corrupt filmnindustry. Thanks to the pervertednmorality of United Artists,nits distributor, the film receivednan R rating, and now childrennof all ages, accompanied by imbecilicnbut permissive parents,ncan witness multiple “rapes innshocking detail,” “a hanging, anhatcheting, and a couple of castrations.”nThe promotional adnfor the movie reads: “Thisnwoman has just cut, chopped,nbroken, and burned five men beyondnrecognition …” and Mr.nSiskel is justly incensed by whatnhe calls a “revenge flick” that isn”… easily the most offensivenfilm I have seen in my 11 yearsnon the movie beat.”nBut at whom does he directnhis righteous and correct outrage?nDoes he point out thenheinousness of the producersnwho thrive in the fetid climatenof the Liberal Culture and basknnnin the recognition of the semiliteratenTV talk-show punditsnwho would eagerly tag thisnmovie “high camp” and fight fornits right to be publicly shown innkeeping with the First Amendment’snpremise.-* Does he take onnUnited Artists, whose laissezfaireneconomic ethics will donanything—even if it contaminatesnAmerica with moral pus —nfor a buck (and an R-rated movienmeans many more bucks thannan X-rated one)? No, Mr. Siskelngoes to a Chicago theater, spotsncouples with young (4-8 yearsnold) children in the audience, interviewsnthe parents, gets blockheadednanswers from peoplenclassically benumbed by the libculturalnmood of our currentnreality, and laments: “I wasnwatching a typical Americannfamily being entertained in thenyear 1980 . . . today’s mainstreamnmoviegoing public hasnbecome desensitized to violencenand has turned into a thrillseekingncrowd.”nCorrect. But does Mr. Siskeln—or his countless colleaguesnfrom coast to coast — connotenwith himself what the publicnhas become? With his work? Hisnguilt? His part in the problem?nIt does not look as if he does.nHe’s quick to quote the theaternowner who blames the ChicagonPolice Department for giving angeneral audience permit to /nSpit. But the police, like all supervisingnoffices nowadays, worknin a vicious atmosphere; trackingndown obscenity in entertainmentnoften results in beingnabused and vilified by the defendersnof freedom of expressionna tout prix—in other words, bynthe hordes of Siskels who, anfew years ago, would crucifynanyone who dared to warn thatnAndy Warhol’s filth, Hustler’snbarbarity and Bertolucci’s elegantnnihilism would result, inntime, in simple people lookingnfor “thrills” other than JohnnWayne’s westerns. Mr. Siskelnmakes no connection betweennSeptember/October 1980n