Robin Hood Anxiety Syndrome: A state of agitation occurring in left-wingers when a work of popular culture threatens to awaken them from the dream of their own superior virtue and expose them as the fools and aspiring tyrants they are. See also Dark Knight Anxiety Syndrome.
The left dodged a cultural arrow this weekend. If Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood had been a good or even semi-good movie, it would have delivered a much-deserved slap in the face to them and everything they stand for. Unfortunately, while Scott got the spirit of the legend right, he told his story badly.
It was the comedian Steven Crowder who first pointed out to me that Robin Hood is a conservative. Before he mentioned it, I had—as reviewer A.O. Scott of the New York Times apparently still does—lazily thought of Robin as one who “robs from the rich to give to the poor.” Which would make him a socialist. And a thieving thug. But I repeat myself.
As Steven pointed out to me, however, what plagues England in the Robin Hood story is never poverty per se, but taxation. Invasive government taxation and hunting regulations have reduced the English peasants to penury. The King, the Sheriff and other government toadies are the people’s enemies. And Robin Hood, far from trying to redistribute wealth, is merely attempting to get the people’s money back from these bloated tax-and-spenders.
That’s the real Robin Hood story and that’s the way Ridley Scott tells it in his new movie with some present day commentary thrown in. King Richard the Lionheart stands in for Scott’s version of George W. Bush: courageous but spendthrift, he dies while brutally fighting the Muslim invaders of the Holy Land. He’s replaced by King John, a narcissistic incompetent who breaks his word, blames his predecessor for everything and taxes the nation to the brink of revolt. Sound familiar? Robin Hood becomes a hero while making fine speeches about individual freedom and responsibility. And there’s even an evil French rapist who chases a wealthy woman around the room while snarling that she owns too much land.
It’s no wonder the film’s release caused an outbreak of Robin Hood Anxiety Syndrome among our lockstep lefty intellectual elites. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland quickly attempted to distance himself from any Tea Party type sentiments. The critics at both the Los Angeles and New York Times were eager to suggest the story was “revisionist,” which it’s not. And the far-left Village Voice declared the movie a self-parody and said, “All the more reason for Sarah Palin to love it.”
All of which is reminiscent of the left’s hysterical denials when some of us made the perfectly obvious observation that Batman: The Dark Knight was a sympathetic portrait of George W. Bush. Nothing terrifies our elites more than having pop culture expose the tyranny and foolishness behind their masquerade of superior virtue. They can’t bear the thought that they’re the bad guys.
Oh, if only I were a leftist critic! Whenever they like the politics of a movie, they pretend it’s good, as they did with such trash as In The Valley of Elah and Rendition. Alas, I’m a conservative and bound to tell the truth as best I can. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood stinks. The plot’s awful, the lead actor dull, the heroine absurd. It won’t make much of a cultural impression.
So for now, at least, the left can keep telling themselves they’re not the villains of the piece.