Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, March 7, 2008

While You Were Sleeping

Jonah Goldberg says a lot of stupid things. Liberals are fascists. Progressives are authoritarian. The white man is the Jew of liberal fascism. And on and on and on and on. But by far the stupidest thing he's ever said is that the message of the latest version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers says, "...we should make peace with the fact that there is war and conflict in the world because that is the nature of humanity itself and it's better to stay human than surrender to a new order of eternal peace and unity if it would cost us our souls."

But first, let's explain the context. Jonah went to the movies, as he so often does. He chose The Invasion, but did not go into the movie without mental preparation.

Anyway, I figured the 2007 remake would try to conjure some anti-Bush or
anti-war themes (if memory serves the movie was actually filmed a couple years
earlier). I was right. For most of the movie, it seems like it's about the Iraq
war. At least the war is constantly being referenced in the background. For most
of the movie I surmised that they were trying to make some sort of point about
how sleeping (when the pods take over) is the moral equivalent of political
apathy. If you close your eyes, oppression and conformity win, or something like
that.

I haven't seen the movie but I've seen the 1956 version and the 1978 version multiple times, and read the book. Jonah's probably right, although the message is probably closer to this: If you close your eyes, people like Jonah win.

For Jonah everything is political, even (or especially) movies, and if a review of the movie can hawked for a few bucks to the LA Times or take up some space at the National Review Online, so much the better. Case in point:

But then, at the end of the movie, the moral of the story seems to be turned completely on its head.
Which is more probable, the filmmaker suddenly flipped his message 180 degrees, or Jonah gets it wrong again?

Yeah, I think so too.

Earlier in the movie some Russian diplomat gives a speech about how if we lived in a world without conflict and war we would be in a world where we cease to be human. This little speech is recalled at the end, and the lessen seems (again I say "seems" because I'm not sure the filmmakers really knew what they wanted to say) to be that we should make peace with the fact that there is war and conflict in the world because that is the nature of humanity itself and it's better to stay human than surrender to a new order of eternal peace and unity if it would cost us our souls.* *Yes, it's pretty much exactly the same lesson of the Jasime storyline in the "Angel" series.
No. No it really, really isn't. Jasmine didn't eliminate violence, she surrounded herself with it. Jasmine had her general, Angel, and his team to carry out the violence. Jasmine says, "They're my eyes, my skin, my limbs, and, if need be, my fists." She ate her followers. And those who were not eaten lost all free will, which was the point of the storyline. We're the free will gang, Gunn shouts, because despite the peace and surety of surrendering all your decisions to your god, you have to give up too much in return. Loving and being controlled by Jasmine made Angel and his gang happy, but it also made them horrifically indifferent to suffering, including their own. Everything is easier, and they no longer have to question anything. Keeping that feeling of being cared for and belonging, and of course making their god happy, was all that mattered.

After Jasmine's spell is broken, Fred also rejects Angel's belief that they have to be cold and indifferent to fight her. Fred asks, "That the world we're fighting for? The right to be heartless, an uncaring shell? To be dead inside?...Well, I don't know about you, but... I'd take [pain] over being a shell any day." Peace and unity are not costing people their souls. It's not a choice between war or humanity. It's a choice betweeen making your choices yourself, no matter how difficult and painful that may be, or letting someone or some god tell you what to do, no matter how terrible that action may be. Free will or obedient servitude.

But Jonah doesn't see this, just as Jonah doesn't see how his beloved conservative ideology translates into suffering for so many people. He made his choice, despite all his protestations of libertarianism, and he chose obedience to authority over free will.

God bless W. F. Buckley and pass the ammunition.

1 comment:

tonto said...

Always amazes me that people like Jonah and his ilk would, to form a more 'perfect' society, have us all appeal to what is the most base in our nature.

The shorter version, of course, would be, "Turn away, all those who would endeavor to promote harmony and peaceful co-existence, 'cause my fat ass would be out of a job!!"

tonto