Signs of a Culture with No Pride in Itself

I was shocked when once I read the last poem ever written by a Spartan. It was not the last poem written before the conquest of Sparta by Phillip of Macedon; it was the last poem written before the laws of Lycurgus took over. After a certain point in time, the Spartans, who make the Nazis and Stalinists look like pikers, simply stopped having poetry in their society. The system did not allow for it. The Spartans waxed in might and power for many years, but then suffered so steep a demographic decline, that they could no longer field a force in sufficient numbers to continue to awe their slaves and neighbors.

I was thinking about the last Spartan poet when I came back from a movie recently. My impression is that the movies I want to like, don’t like me. The poetry is gone from the silver screen.

Let me, off the top of my head, just mention a few films that I wanted to like, but which were marred by pointless insults against my religion, my country, my way of life.

STAR WARS REVENGE OF THE SITH — “Only a Sith speaks in absolutes” This is a slur against those of us who are not moral relativists. The line was pointless, not part of the plot, because the character speaking it had been tempted to the Dark Side of the Force by lines the author himself meant to be taken as relativistic sophistry.

HAPPY FEET — Dancing cartoon penguins with a cute idea: we are to animals what UFO sitings are to us. For no particular reason in the middle of the film, the tribal elders insist the penguins starve in order to honor their Great Penguin Spirit. Once again religion is the bad guy. The line was pointless, as this was not a plot point established beforehand or followed up after.

STARSHIP TROOPERS — Based on a SF novel by the dean of SF, Robert Heinlein, hardly a conservative by any measure. The men who made this movie made its message the opposite of the message of the book. The anti-military, anti-Americanism, the sheer contempt dripping from every frame of the film make it nigh-unwatchable.

BEOWULF — hulking heroes with huge swords wrestle naked against CGI monsters. How can you mess this one up? For no particular reason, Christianity is scoffed at as worthless, a religion of weaklings, and only men pissing are discussing it. The one convert wearing a cross bigger than the one Christ hung on is seen repeatingly beating his slave.

SUPERMAN RETURNS — Truth, Justice and All That Jazz.

JUMPER — another science fiction extravaganza based on a book I rather liked. In the book, the main bad guy was a Palestinian terrorist who kills the main character’s mother. In the movie, the main bad guy was a religious fanatic, from that religion (guess which one?) responsible for the Spanish Inquisition, who kills people with a knife for no particular reason. The Muslim bad guy is now a Christian bad guy.

V FOR VENDETTA — I loved this comic book. I was warned against seeing this movie by Liberals, who loudly and enthusiastically said it was a timely condemnation of George Bush. All this was a pointless addition, because the source material did not have that in it.

STARDUST — This fine book by Neil Gaiman did not have a cross-dressing gay pirate as one of its characters. Again, the insertion of this little bit of pro-perversion was gratuitous, had nothing to do with the plot (except delay it) and prevented me from either seeing the movie twice, recommending it to friends, or buying it on DVD.


And so on, and on, and on. This is just the list from off the top of my head.

This is not counting films that are deliberately trying to mock religion or trash America or preach a message of Hollywood’s lunatic brand of socialism. This is just a list of films in the lighthearted SF action genre that happened to have gratuitous insults against me and mine thrown in. They could have been removed with no damage (and in some cases, to the considerable improvement) of the plot.

Each one of these listed here are films I warned friends and relations not to go see them. These are all films I was pre-sold on liking, because they were based on books or comics I had read.

You see, I want to like these films. I want to have movies to see, to enjoy, nay, to adore. I am a movie fan. But now, every movie I watch, I wait for it. You know what I mean by it. I mean that moment which had nothing to do with the plot where the movie makers express contempt for everything I hold dear. I mean the moment when they puke on me.

No matter how much I enjoy the film, nowadays I only enjoy it with half my attention, because I am on my guard for the sucker-punch that always, always comes.

I watch my beloved movies with the attitude of a battered wife, waiting to see when the man I love will suddenly lash out and give me a black eye. The rest of the evening with him is just fine.