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William F. Buckley Jr. at Cannes

It was as if National Review were running Criterion Channel. An art house streaming service with a foundation of conservative values, and somebody thought it would work. Or maybe they knew it wouldn’t, and that was the point. As I butted heads with virtually all of my colleagues, most of whom were also progressive-minded cineastes, I began to suspect the company had hired us just to tie up our expertise in a boondoggle. I wouldn’t have thought we’d fall for it, fighting among ourselves over the impossible task of curating interesting films for an organization that found them contemptible, all to keep our skills from being put to good use elsewhere, but here we were.

Predictably, the company culture was pretty weird. Were the anti-abortion Christmas carolers in steady rotation around the office meant as a sincere attempt at indoctrination, or were they intentionally provoking smirks and giving us a sense of renegade camaraderie? And what of the competition in the cafeteria to see who could best replicate the bass line of one of T Bone Burnett’s film scores?

I was helping assemble a collection of films that sneeringly highlighted the supposed woke agenda at the core of our entire catalog. I think the version of me in the dream found some cynical amusement in the willful ignorance behind the assignment, but when I woke up, I was just sad.