On 1994’s PCU, Now vs. Then

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How well has 90s campus culture flick PCU held up since 1994? Pretty well, all-in-all. Though I’m not on campus currently, the media zeitgeist driven mostly by journalism/English majors tells me that what was of concern then is of concern now. Mostly race and sex issues. OTOH environmentalists featured prominently in this film, and they seemed to have taken a back seat lately to the black/white divide and alleged gender discrimination (in Silicon Valley et al.). From the vantage point of 2015, political divides have become easier to grok. Fewer abstract, we-‘re-all-in-this-together problems – of which the Earth dying in the distant future would be a prime example – and more seemingly tribal conflicts that even a caveman could comprehend. Politics has become cruder, more debased. (This even as our understanding of politics has become more sophisticated.)

I noticed in the film too that the Republicans on campus were pitted against the party lovin’ protagonists along with the myriad campus groups deemed politically correct. As if the free speech absolutists and the conservative right were two different groups. But that was then, this is now. I see little distinction between the bro-ey, grow-a-thicker-skin libertarians and the conservative establishment in the current day. As I’ve written before, the libertarian represents the progressive’s most formidable opponent in the second decade of the 21st century, with the decline of the 80’s style Satanists-are-ruining-our-kids religious right.

We’ve come a long way since atheist Frank Zappa squared off with Christians advocating for censorship. In fact atheism is now associated with old white guys like “Islamophobic” Richard Dawkins. That’s its most salient feature, apparently, not the metaphysics. In 1994 you could plausibly paint “PCU” libertarians as something equidistant to the left and right. No longer.

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