What I want to know is, where were the North Koreans when we needed them?
They’ve been getting terrible ink recently, even though most Americans have precious little interplay with them. In fact, most Americans have never even seen a North Korean in the flesh, not even at Walmart. We’ve seen pictures of some of them, though, and they don’t have a warm and fuzzy look; in fact they look quite cold and grizzly. They don’t seem to be the kind of people we aspire to be. In the old days of radio, there was never a game show called “Who Wants to be a North Korean?” And their founding fathers, or at least their uncles, tend to vanish into history.
Still, they do seem to be onto something with this movie business.
I haven’t seen “The Interview,” and you probably haven’t either, because although Sony Pictures Entertainment reversed its decision not to release the movie, few theaters signed on to show it on its release date, Christmas Day. That seems to me an unlikely time to release a movie, given that most people are tired, having, late the night before in church and then during the day itself, been busy celebrating one of the two central events of Western Civilization: the birth of Him who came to offer hope to all men and salvation to sinners. Who could need hope more than North Koreans? And the latter seems like an appropriate description of the rulers of North Korea, unless you’re one of those nonjudgmental new-age diversity types who think all beliefs and feelings are equal and shouldn’t be repressed or discouraged by socially prejudiced, culturally imperialistic people.
For most people, or at least most of the people I know, people who aren’t in sync with popular culture, Christmas is just not the most appropriate time to hustle the family into the SUV and, with bells jingling, dash through the snow to see a movie in which a nasty dictator gets blown up in his helicopter on a silent, holy night.
I suppose it’s mathematically possible, however unlikely, that the North Koreans were just trying to preserve the spirit of Christmas against the assault of America’s popular-culture barbarians. Even if that’s not what they intended, does lack of intent (in the law it’s called scienter) really matter? Not according to Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims that in certain civil-rights cases, statistical disparity of race alone should be sufficient to convict. If Holder is right and if intent is not necessary to convict, then perhaps we can find the North Korean rulers guilty of … aiding and abetting the cause of Western Civilization by standing athwart Sunset Boulevard yelling “Stop.”
But back to the original question: Where have the North Koreans been when we needed them?
Say, back in 1995, when the movie “Kids” was released. The film (I crib from the AMC website, shamelessly editing and altering for effect) is shocking. It “follows a few characters through one day in New York City. Telly … and his buddy Casper … skateboard, do a little petty thievery, drink malt liquor, hustle drugs, beat up a black man, throw some dice, and if a virgin or two happen to cross their path, Telly is only too happy to perform a little ‘virgin surgery.’ When the boys aren’t wandering, they’re talking. And when they’re talking, it is always about sex. … [T]he dialogue is totally disgusting.”
For this, God gave us light?
“Midnight Cowboy” (1969) is the only X-rated Best Picture winner. This gritty movie discomfited some viewers with its frank, nonjudgmental depiction of homosexuality.
“Brokeback Mountain” (2005), the first mainstream gay/bisexual romance, was deplored by political and religious conservatives, but (or is it “and”?) garnered both critical and popular acclaim. As the AMC website puts it, “The love story depicted in Brokeback Mountain is as traditional as that depicted in Casablanca, Romeo & Juliet, or Gone with the Wind, but instead of war, family rivalry, or the general bitchiness of one of the characters getting in the way, societal prejudice is the culprit.” Produced by Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Civ Has Got to Go Studios.
Then there is “Avatar” (2009), about which Nile Gardiner, writing in The Telegraph (London), said: “Washington is one of the most liberal cities in America and you come to expect almost anything here — but still the roars of approval which greeted the on-screen killing of US military personnel were a shock to the system … . [Avatar is] one of the most left-wing films in the history of modern American cinema.”
For this, Thomas Edison gave us the light bulb?
But there’s more, much, much more, enough to fill a North Korean gulag. There are genres — single-mom movies, single-dad movies, and chatty, funny little movies and television sitcoms that normalize promiscuity and illegitimacy, and make fun of traditional behavior and morality. Great fun for the upper classes.
According to the Heritage Foundation, “Over a third of single-parent families … are poor, compared to only 7 percent of married families. Overall, children in married families are 82 percent less likely to be poor than are children of single parents.”
But, hey, it’s just entertainment — except when it isn’t, which is when the people who populate Charles Murray’s Fishtowns and the poverty statistics take the characters as role models and their behavior as imitable. Then we get a tangle of pathologies that fifty years and twenty trillion dollars of Great Society programs have been unable to untangle.
Ask not who wants to be a North Korean. Ask who wants to be the illegitimate son of a single mother who is the illegitimate daughter of a drug addict.
Our hearts go out this Christmas to the wretched people of North Korea, whose best hope is the United States, whose best hope may be to return to the mores of yesteryear, when mothers and fathers and their children could gather in the public square and, unhindered by popular-culture honchos and their allies in big government, wish each other, shamelessly, a Merry Christmas.
Daniel Oliver is a Chairman of the Board of Education and Research Institute and Senior Director of White House Writers Group in Washington, DC. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Ronald Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of National Review. Email Daniel Oliver at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com