Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
The Counterculture Revolution is Already Here

The Counterculture Revolution is Already Here

Are they ready for it?

The 50th Annual Telluride Film Festival went off mostly without a hitch. It was the same beautiful town in the mountains of Colorado I’d been visiting for at least ten years. There were movies earmarked for the Oscar race, critics and bloggers, and film industry professionals scurrying from place to place. But something felt different.

It wasn’t just the lack of celebrities that are usually the draw for such an exclusive, expensive fest. The actors’ strike meant they could not show up, even if a few did sneak in for a party or two. Usually, they’re everywhere. Nicole Kidman getting coffee somewhere. I once rode the gondola with Jennifer Garner.

It wasn’t even so many people I used to know barely talk to me now. They used to love me, now they hate me. They have no other choice, of course. They can’t be seen fraternizing with the enemy. Those who still have the courage to say hello are few and far between.

No, it was something harder to define. There was a feeling that there were no good stories left to tell because the rules had become so oppressive, and all must be in strict compliance with how a small but powerful minority sees itself. That rendered the films almost unnecessary. A magic mirror of sorts to affirm what they all already think.

The only really good movie I saw there was Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers, a “holdover” from a different time in Hollywood when universal stories could still be told.

The story was good enough that it didn’t matter that its two lead characters were straight white men. It was a film about three people finding friendship through their own personal setbacks. It was extraordinary in its ordinary-ness. I highly recommend it.

There were a few socially conscious movies that drew attention, like the film about the gay swimmer, Diana Nyad, who at 64 made history by swimming from Cuba to Florida (though there is some controversy already brewing about its accuracy), and the film about the gay Civil Rights leader, Bayard Rustin, which is executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama as part of their Netflix deal.

That the Democratic Party, the Obamas especially, are fused with culture has led to stagnation, with too many rules of what can’t be said, or criticized. After all, how many in the Royal Court can make fun of the King and Queen?

It isn’t just that so many people are tuning out a Hollywood that feels justified in judging them, telling them what should matter, what should be funny, what should be compelling. It’s that a counterculture revolution is rising to take its place out of sheer desperation. Hollywood has destroyed itself with its own mandates and imposed dogma.

What they see as daring storytelling, like the films “Poor Things,” about a woman who becomes a nymphomaniac after committing suicide as a pregnant woman, then being brought back to life with her own baby’s brain implanted, really just becomes the usual story of female empowerment and feminism. And the film “Saltburn” seems to mock the ruling class, but they can’t really mock themselves so the whole thing ends up being rather pointless.

Imagine the stories Hollywood could tell about “cancel culture,” or wrongly accused actors purged from the industry on false accusations. Imagine movies about forced apologies. Imagine how they could dive into the paralysis of comedy. It is absurd that everyone has to constantly watch what they say for fear of being exiled or purged from polite society. And that makes for great storytelling.

Never mind the collapse of journalists in the mainstream - abandoning what they used to value, tracking down the story at all costs. They can’t criticize the monarchy, so they stay silent and follow the propaganda machine. And that is why a counterculture revolution is so necessary, too. If they won’t do the dirty job of getting the story then we’ll all find alternative sources that will.

Those who dominate culture now seem to believe they are still the most interesting people in the world with the most interesting things to say. But because they’re so disconnected from the desperate cries of the working class, they can’t possibly tell stories that resonate with the majority.

A counterculture revolution, and maybe even a political one, is coming because the people “out there” will demand it. We’re already seeing signs of it everywhere, but recognizing it requires stepping out of the protective bubble the Left has built for itself.

Do they really believe on the Left that they can end the Trump movement by convicting him and throwing him in jail? Do they think that’s the best approach to deal with a populist revolution, culturally and politically? Do they think that censorship on sites like YouTube and GoFundMe is the way to quiet the rising discontent of the people they have abandoned?

Yes, they do because no one has told them otherwise. But you can’t stop what’s coming.

Rich Men North of Richmond foreshadows the coming revolution. The meteoric rise of the protest anthem didn’t get there entirely on its own. The collective voices of the populist Right amplified it and made it an overnight sensation. The song didn’t just resonate with them, but it was a rare experience to have a song speak to their ongoing plight — that they’re living in a new world with an old soul.

How the Left attacked Oliver Anthony tells you everything about why a counterculture revolution is so necessary right now. We forgot what it felt like to hear hard truths no one is allowed to say or sing.

Rich Men North of Richmond could be a song about the fires in Maui or the train derailment in East Palestine. It could be for a father whose parental rights have been terminated because he loves his daughter, who now insists she’s his son. It could be a song for me as I walked around Telluride as an outsider now, a stranger in a strange land.

The song has now wracked up 57 million views on YouTube in just a few short weeks.

Says Brendan O’Neill at Spiked:

The thing I love most about Oliver Anthony, aside from that apocalyptic timbre in his country singing, is that he’s forced the elite to unmask itself. We live under elites-in-denial. ‘We’re not the establishment!’, cry the movers and shakers of the upper middle-classes, even as they force your kids to genuflect to gender ideology, screw up economic growth with their climate-change hysteria, and dictate with Caesar-like conviction what is and isn’t sayable in the modern town square of social media. And yet in their foaming response to Mr Anthony, they’ve told on themselves. They’ve revealed that they know perfectly well who this red-bearded warbler from Farmville, Virginia is singing about in his rebellious ballads against The Man: it’s them.

That is the power of the counterculture on the New Right. The rules are being made on the fly. A whole new vocabulary of music, film, comedy, journalism, even social media is exploding in the only area of modern American life outside the grip of the authoritarian Left.

O’Neill closes his op-ed this way:

Why has Oliver Anthony hit a nerve? Put away your essays, park your academic analysis. It’s not rocket science. Working-class people are simply intrigued that there exists a cultural figure who doesn’t view them as the scum of the earth. They can’t believe it. And that tells us everything we need to know.

That Sound of Freedom became a word-of-mouth sensation meant doing major damage control on the Left, not just by attacking the film as “Q’anon” but by spreading rumors and conspiracy theories about how it got made. They couldn’t believe one managed to slip through their gatekeepers undetected.

How shocking it must be that Sound of Freedom now tops Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning on the annual box office chart:

Christianity is the Counterculture?

The hippies and the boomers never really thought they’d need religion. They broke free from tradition back in the 1960s out of necessity. Politically and culturally, things had to dramatically change.

But after their revolution, after major cultural upheaval that changed movies, art, science, government, and music, they’ve come full circle in 2023, having replaced their freedom with their own newfound religion and it is just as oppressive and stagnate as the one they once escaped.

They have all of the money they could ever need, all of the cultural and corporate power, nearly all of the administrative and security state (yay FBI!). But they’re missing something fundamental and it shows. That might be why so many of the voices rising on the Right are also turning to God now, because religion is the counterculture in a country emptied out by “wokeism,” which has nothing to offer us except separating each of us into categories, to demonize all of us based on our gender or our skin color.

One of the most popular comedians on YouTube is JP Sears, whose own belief in God is not something he hides, but something he shares with his millions of viewers, blending it into comedy:

And let’s not forget the Babylon Bee becoming one of the few subversive comedy sites replacing what the Left used to offer up - speaking truth to power using satire. And they don’t hide their Christian beliefs either.

From the Babylon Bee.

The rise of Christianity isn’t the only sign of a counterculture revolution. It’s just one aspect of it. So is the MAGA movement, undeniable in its cultural and political power. So is alternative media, with voices like Megyn Kelly, Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, the All In podcast, and all of the many content creators on YouTube and Tik Tok.

What keeps it from becoming a major force to be reckoned with is that Trump continues to divide so many who don’t want to be associated with the “far right,” even if they’ve abandoned the Left. But what would happen if all of those disparate voices did unite? Well, that would be something.

Walter Kirn talking to Matt Taibbi on America This Week has urged all of us on the outside to unite in “radical solidarity” to push back against an increasingly authoritarian ruling class that shows no signs of loosening its grip:

This thing is only moving in one direction. The more they try to control speech, to silence dissent, the louder the counterculture revolution is going to get. Those who can’t hear it or see it will never know what hit them.

And speaking of Burning Man, it might be a metaphor for what’s about to happen to the Left. No matter how much they wanted things to be the same as they always were, how much they wanted to celebrate in their utopian oasis, to dance in the moonlight in the desert, they were hit with a hard rain no one saw coming. The mud was too thick. Their RVs were stuck. Thousands had to walk out to find food and water. Their illusion shattered.

And so it will go with the culture at the hands of the Left. They won’t be able to predict what is about to hit them. That was what felt so strange wandering around the Telluride Film Festival. They were still focused on their existential angst, their own private paradise they believe is untouchable.

The more people hear of these fresh new voices of truth, sanity and reason, the less they will be able to resist them, no matter how many different ways they’re punished for it.

Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Essays on politics and culture from Sasha Stone's Substack. A former Democrat and Leftist who escaped the bubble to get to know the other side of the country and to take a more critical look at the left.