Sunday, November 14, 2004

I finally got around to reading this New York Observer article, which argues that The Incredibles -- "The first hit of the Bush II years" -- is very much in step with Bushism:

The movie is about a family of superheroes forced by the government to go into a superhero-relocation program, suppress their awesome powers and hide out in the beaten-down, charmless miseries of suburbia—among tract homes, leftovers, cubicles, commutes, and dreary elementary-school commencement ceremonies in which every kid is celebrated for being "special."

Eventually, of course, the superheroes—up against it in a dangerous world—release their superpowers, break free of Anytown, U.S.A., and explode with enough personal initiative to make
The Fountainhead look like a bedtime story.

A. O. Scott also invoked Ayn Rand in his New York Times review of The Incredibles.

I haven't seen the movie, but I can't help noting that it bears some resemblance to a story by that big old liberal Kurt Vonnegut Jr. "Harrison Bergeron" concerns a godlike youth who lives in an America in which

Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Bergeron defies the authorities, shakes off his handicaps -- but it's a pulp tragedy, because he's finally brought to "justice," killed by the Handicapper General herself.

That's not the work of a Randian. It's the work of a guy who, in his 80s, thinks the Bushies are psychopaths.

Why is it necessarily Randian to believe that talents shouldn't be suppressed? Liberals are meritocrats -- sure, a lot of us support affirmative action, but the thinking behind affirmative action is that a nudge might help some people's latent gifts to flourish. The focus on "self esteem" in schools is liberalism in a mutant form, even though it's hung around liberals' necks. It's much more in keeping with liberalism to believe that the people who get to shine ought to be the people who deserve to shine, because they're good at what they do. Why do you think we can't stand Bush?

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