248. Splitting apart (VII)
A few years ago, a male relative took his granddaughters to see a new Star Wars film. “There was something odd about Han Solo, though,” he said to me, with a puzzled voice. Now this man is an engineer, hardly troubled by films; he went along to babysit and because he has more or less retired; a senior manager for many years, it was about time for him to be frivolous. What he did not realise was that he had dropped back into popular culture during a religious war—during a revival moment in degraded Anglo-American Christianity—that is called by some “the Great Awokening”.
When he last went to the cinema, probably on a date with his fiancée in the 1980s, it was…different. A slightly younger man, more orientated to the humanities, might have noticed more changes to Solo—doubtless changes to neuter him to smooth the path for women and black characters. Such a person might begin to protest: “Everything has gone woke suddenly! It’s stupid! Why can’t we go back to the 1980s when I was a kid!”
The man who notices the woke—politically correct, we would say twenty years ago—angles in a film has merely noticed the water he swims in; it is as if a man in North Korea turned to a friend and said, “You know, all the films we see have this very definite theme about the Kim family. It’s a bit strange in a democratic socialist republic, isn’t it?” We do not kill people if they notice our themes, but we are not so different from North Korea.
Go back to the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes productions made during wartime and you will find Holmes rescued from occupied Europe by a highly competent female pilot. The female pilot is there for ideological reasons; she is great-grandmother to Wonder Woman and other “kick-ass” girls in our day. All this was long before postmodernism, for the phenomenon is connected to Anglo-American liberalism; and this is connected—as Nietzsche, Yarvin, and John Gray have all noted—to a degraded Christianity in which the marginalised replace the strong. It was just that back in 1942 the acceptable holy position was that a kick-ass girl could fly a top secret mission for a few minutes to help the male characters; by 2021, the kick-ass girl takes up all the screen time, and the male characters simper and rely on her aid.
Consider Alien (1979), surely not “woke nonsense”? Yet in that film a girl—a Rosie the Riveter—takes on the Xenomorph, a penis-shaped alien that wants to impregnate the crew to death. The film suggested that masculinity is evil—birth is evil, all sex is Xenomorph rape—long before it was trendy to make anti-natal TikToks. The heroine Ripley is the kick-ass proletarian who has no children and survives while all the men die; actually, the Xenomorph is the real man in the film: a giant penis made for war and rape—a genuine hero, in fact.
The ship’s computer is called “Mother”; and Mother knows all about the corporation’s plans to use the crew to acquire the Xenomorph and develop it as a weapon. Ripley’s “mother” plans to get her pregnant in connivance with older men; but Ripley—personifying the leftist conception of the pacifistic anti-industrial “Mother Earth”—revolts against man’s plans for babies and war, very feminist and sterile. Alien is like Triumph of the Will in that it stands on its own as a well-crafted film, even if it is propagandistic; but many films have no artistic merit and are pure propaganda for the ideology’s latest iteration. What is popularly referred to as “woke” is not new; it is centuries old, it is in most mass cult products: it has formed your basic premisses about what mankind is and what constitutes “good” and “evil”; and most only notice when the formula changes, when inter-generational sectarian strife breaks out—when it moves further towards its logical conclusion, death.