The Fifth Beatle: Conservative William F. Buckley on the Beatles—and What It Means for Barack Obama and Contemporary Conservatism

In 1964, William F. Buckley said of the Beatles

“The Beatles are not merely awful. They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of antimusic.”

Post World War II conservativism has long had a problem coming to terms with pop culture, which is ever seeking out, not the familiar, but the novel. Barack Obama’s election was a political phenomenon—but it was also a pop phenomenon (like electing a Beatle as president)—and conservatives reacted to Obama’s glamour and mass popularity with the same incomprehension and contempt that Buckley offered the real Beatles in 1964.

 

But Obama, like the Beatles, has marked a cultural shift. Conservatives just haven’t figured out yet how to move about in this new environment. The temptation, for conservatives, will always be the nostalgic one: to turn back the clock and reject the contemporary; to put on the Mozart record, and despise the Beatles; to recall with fondness the Eisenhower years, and despise the Obama years. 

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to The Fifth Beatle: Conservative William F. Buckley on the Beatles—and What It Means for Barack Obama and Contemporary Conservatism

  1. c says:

    Obama is Carter redux. So much for novel.

  2. Pingback: Extreme irony watch: Paul and Barack sing Hey Jude together « Prometheus Unbound

  3. Man says:

    How’s those Obama years working out for you? HAW HAW!!!!! The Beatles suck ass.

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