THE COLUMN: Monsters From the Id

One of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone concerned a malevolent child with supernatural powers who terrorized the adults around him into indulging his every whim. Frustrate the little bastard over anything, no matter how small or trivial, and the offender was subject to instant, humiliating, sometimes capital, punishment. Called "It's a Good Life," the 1961 episode was remade in 1983 by director Joe Dante as part of Twilight Zone: the Movie. If somehow you're not familiar with it, have a look. Here's the original, based on the 1953 short story by Jerome Bixby and written by Rod Serling : 

And here's some of Dante's version:

The subtext was the petulant beast that dwells in the breast of every child, and no, it wasn't about Greta Thunberg. What makes this episode so remarkable was that it came as the 1950s turned into the 1960s, but still before the "youthquake" that began c. 1963. The idea that children should be seen (maybe) and not heard (never) was paramount in most stable American—father, mother, more than two kids—families. Nobody liked a smarmy or mouthy kid, certainly not one like the nasty Anthony Fremont or the brown-nosing Eddie Haskell of Leave It to Beaver:

But by the time the little monster, Anthony, returned in Jon Landis's star-crossed movie, he and Eddie had already started to take over the world, even without magical powers. The generation of parents that had grown up during the Depression had surrendered to Dr. Spock and legions of child psychologists, who wormed their way into child-rearing, "liberating" children from "arbitrary" parental authority and producing generations of the solipsistic darlings now determined to impose their theories of relativity upon the rest of the world.

Thus was begotten the Gretas of the western world: monsters from the belly of a world that has abandoned reality for their fantasies du jour. And so it believes, as good Spockians, that our children have a clearer, better vision of the future than we do. And, worse, that we ought to listen to them:

Monsters from the Id, indeed: in another classic movie from the period (1956), Dr. Morbius belatedly was forced to confront his deepest, most destructive fears as he sought to solve the riddle of why one of the most advanced civilizations in galactic history had suddenly committed mass suicide and disappeared. Yes, the one Anne Francis starred inForbidden Planet

My poor Krell. After a million years of shining sanity, they could hardly have understood what power was destroying them.

Nor could the doomed Morbius, as his reclaimed ancient civilization is torn apart by his own primitive impulses. But those impulses, like many human impulses, stem not from adulthood but from childhood, from the unfettered Id that would destroy if it could because, lacking the Apollonian superego, it cannot yet create. And when your civilization is given over to its rudest and meanest impulses, hell rather than heaven is the likeliest result. 

So "flow morfia/Morbius slow." The seductive rush of absolute power mingles with the surrender to absolute pleasure. America's children have come home to roost. In 1975, a few years before The Twilight Zone movie, Australian director Jim Sharman turned an obscure London stage play by Richard O'Brien into a film called The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which somehow presciently tapped into the coming Zeitgeist by combining classic science fiction movie tropes with the narcissism of bodybuilding, old comic books, English fondness for campy cross-dressing, and the burgeoning sexual fluidity of the Cocaine Era: little Anthony, all grown up.

It starred the then-unknown Tim Curry—who went on to give one of the greatest single stage performances I've ever seen as Mozart opposite Ian McKellen's Salieri in the original Broadway case of Amadeus—as well as the Shakespearean actor Charles Gray, so memorable as the syphilitic Pandarus in the late Jonathan Miller's dyspeptic 1981 TV production of Troilus and Cressida. The result was, oddly, and taken strictly on its merits, one of the best musicals ever written:

Who’d ever seen anything like it? And yet it leaves us with this exhortation, as conservatively American as apple pie: 

Hot patootie, bless my soul. Talk about moral-cognitive dysfunction! And yet here we are. Where we're going is another question. Art suggests, reality follows. Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, little Anthony is enjoying the hell out of this. Your results may vary. 

THE COLUMN: Silence of the Lambs

It seems that a lad named Will Thomas, complete with God-given willie—his John Thomas if you will—is now a NCAA "women's" swimming champion, having finished "first" in a women's 500-yard freestyle event, beating off a bunch of real girls in the course of his famous victory. Not that he pretends to be a real woman, mind you; no, he's "making history" as "the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title," a dubious distinction given that he's not "transgender" in any meaningful sense of the word, and thus his "first place" finish in a women's event has exactly zero validity. As Abraham Lincoln once said: calling a dog's tail a leg doesn't make it so. If Thomas wants to be called "Lia" that's his business—but let him compete in the men's events.

Ah, but this is the lunatic world we currently live in, thanks in large part to the tolerance brigade, which demands that normal people (and yes, there are such things) tolerate and even encourage mental illness on a hitherto unimagined scale—as a glance at the mentally ill people who post their psychological problems on TikTok and Twitter for all the world to admire plainly indicates. Never mind the damage this does to impressionable and insecure young people, some of whom have killed themselves after being pressured into "transitioning." Time was when demanding that humanity address you as Napoleon bought you a trip to the funny farm; today, psycho-sexual mini-emperors lord it over the rest of society and demand to be indulged and given prizes.

 What did Dr. Lecter say? “He’s making himself a girl suit out of real girls.” 

That's from Thomas Harris's novel, The Silence of the Lambs, which concerned the hunt for a serial killer of women named Jame Gumb, aka "Buffalo Bill" because he "skins his humps." In the film, the line was changed to "he's making himself a woman suit out of real women," one of the few clunky notes in Ted Tally's otherwise superb screenplay, which won Oscars all around for him, director Jonathan Demme, actors Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, as well as Best Picture. Hopkins got the accolades for his scenery- and face-chewing portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, but Ted Levine's embodiment of Buffalo Bill, a homosexual who'd been rejected for sex-reassignment surgery and is taking out his anger on the roomy girls of the world, is every bit as chilling. Indeed, my only other criticism of the script is the omission of Bill's dying words after he's been shot by Clarice Starling: "How does it feel to be so beautiful?"

Ready when you are.

Because that's the whole point: sufferers from sexual dysmorphia (do not say "victims") such as the fictional Mr. Gumb envy the opposite sex (there are only two; there are three "genders" but that is a grammatical term), and want to be like them. That's why he tucks his dangly bits between his thighs as he nears his apotheosis—a practice that some pediatricians are now teaching our children. This is called "guidance":

Doernbecher Children's Hospital, a pediatric teaching hospital in Portland, Oregon, has come under fire over its guidance for kids interested in changing their gender identity. The guidance teaches kids how they can hide their genitals, called “safe tucking,” discusses the use of puberty blockers, some say encouraging their use, and even refers children to “a sex-positive shop in Portland” where they can find “gender-affirming” products in addition to “sex toys, videos and more.” 

Gumb's valedictory as he expires from a sucking chest wound courtesy of the FBI is the only touching moment he has. Unmanly cheaters like Will Thomas, the irrefutable evidence between their legs, simply want to take advantage of women. Or mock them and mock society as well:

In the relatively sane society in which we used to live, this fellow's and others' smug satisfaction would be summarily wiped off their eyebrow-plucked faces by real men, and back to their closets and basements they would go, having learned that delusionary "rights" do not trump society's norms. To paraphrase Dr. Lecter: best thing for them, really. Even before it got to that, real women would have slapped them, complained, called the police, boycotted any athletic event featuring dudes with XY chromosomes (no matter how much "hormone replacement therapy" they've had). But the elevation of the bogus virtue of "tolerance"—an Alinskyite culture-killer if there ever was one—over morality and common sense has seen to that, and nowadays it is practically feminist dogma that the highest form of a woman is a man. 

Thomas, who previously competed on the men's swim team at Penn, joined the women's team for the 2021-2022 season after undergoing two years of hormone replacement therapy, she explained in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated. Since then, however, the athlete's sparked a wave of controversy and national debate on whether trans women should be able to compete in women's sports.

The roundheeled media, which of late has never met a "transgressive" fad it didn't want to tumble for, has fully embraced the language of "transsexuality," as evidenced above. When Billy Wilder made his classic cross-dressing comedy, Some Like It Hot, the famous last line was meant to be a killer-diller. Today, the joke goes right over the multi-colored heads of the tik-tokkers. What's the problem? they wonder:

Lest you think me a prude, long before it was fashionable my debut novel, Exchange Alley (1997), featured a character of shall we say dramatically indeterminate sexuality, and includes scenes of extreme violence while exploring the seamier sides of the New York City and Soviet Russia sexual underground of the time. No one objected to the material: my book got a starred review in Publishers Weekly, was named a Book-of-the-Month club alternate selection upon publication, and was recorded as a book on tape by the late Edward Herrmann. Heck, it's fun for the whole family:

JFK assassination buffs will enjoy bushwhacking their way through this labyrinthine debut. Young Danish cultural attache Egil Ekdahl--engaged in hawking the KGB's file on Lee Harvey Oswald to the highest bidder--turns up murdered in a particularly grisly fashion, and NYPD Detective Francis X. Byrne is given the joyless task of finding his killer. Almost immediately, he locates one of Ekdahl's many sex partners, a fabulous Dane called Ingrid Bentsen, who connects him to New York's hot Euro club scene. But Byrne also discovers the lowlights of Ekdahl's career: a distinguished regular at a gay S&M club in the West Village, he was once caught on tape slicing a girl's throat during intercourse somewhere in Russia.

What I find interesting in retrospect is that there was no politicization of the subject matter. Just as there wasn't about Some Like It Hot, The Silence of the Lambs, or this off-Broadway classic:

Ah, but now such things are hills to die on for cultural warriors. There is no middle ground: you're either on board with the latest boundary-pusher or barrier-breaker, or you're a hateful bigot. There is no art to be mined from this particular mother lode, no jokes to be made. The iconoclastic, juvenile demons of Wokeness run shrieking through the halls of Western civ, smashing everything in their path, just for the sheer hell of it.

So it's with some satisfaction one notes that WilLia Thomas just finished dead last in the final race of his college career:

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas ended her controversial college swimming career with a last place finish in the final of the 100-yard freestyle at the US collegiate championships on Saturday. Thomas, who competes for the University of Pennsylvania, trailed home in eighth place in 48.18 sec, more than two seconds behind winner Gretchen Walsh, who touched the wall in 46.05 sec.

Controversy has shrouded Thomas throughout the year, with critics and some fellow swimmers saying she should not have been allowed to compete and has an unfair physiological advantage. Others say she should be allowed to compete freely as a woman

Gotta love that "others." Who are they? Nuthouse Napoleons all, transvestite lions roaring orders at an army of sheep and wondering why Mother Nature steadfastly refuses to take them seriously. Meanwhile we, like lambs, refuse to object. There's nothing "controversial" about Thomas's career, except that the entire deracinated political and journalistic establishment takes it seriously, and insists that we do, too. It's the Emperor's New Clothes all over again, only this time it's an Empress, she's packing, and doesn't care who knows it.