The Iron (sulfide) Lady

Interesting.

In a televised Amnesty International special back in 1989 called “The Secret Policemen’s Biggest Ball,” two Monty Python members, John Cleese and Michael Palin, begin re-enacting the famous Parrot Sketch from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”  However, not long after starting the sketch, Palin, who is supposed to protest throughout that the parrot he sold Cleese “not ‘alf an hour ago from this very boutique” isn’t dead but resting, immediately gives Cleese an apology, a refund, and a couple of holiday vouchers.  With this rendition of the sketch now apparently over, Cleese, just before disappearing offstage, tells the audience, “Well, you can’t say Thatcher hasn’t changed some things.”  The audience applauds.

Funny.

Another audience for another episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” did the same thing back in the early 70s, when said Cleese made reference to Thatcher’s brain being located in her shin.  This was ‘round about the time, according to Thatcher’s official website, that “The Labour Government of 1974-79 was one of the most crisis-prone in British history, leading the country to a state of virtual bankruptcy in 1976 when a collapse in the value of the currency on the foreign exchanges forced the government to negotiate credit from the International Monetary Fund.”

The British economy at that time was largely run by regulators and Leftists, who always seem to think you can fix things by passing more laws and spending more money.  Margaret Thatcher relieved quite a lot of that, to the groans of Leftists and their media sycophants.  It was a remarkable achievement, done by a politician who cared less about the personal attacks she endured and more about the end result she desired.  I don’t agree with political solutions, and can think of a great many things Thatcher did that I disagree with (most notably a national “education” program), but Britain is not my island, and this is not a political rant.  There are at least two things I like about the woman: From what I can tell, she did what she said she was going to do; and she gave the world a lesson in successful economics by reducing the degree of governmental coercion in the marketplace.  It’s a lesson that humanity refuses to learn, and one that the modern state and its media refuse to teach: Leave people alone, and they will eventually prosper.  You’ll notice that we haven’t brought up Thatcher’s sex yet, but we’re going to, because that’s ten times more important than leaving people alone.

Ridiculous.

Meryl Streep, an actress with some weird, unearthly gift, just won Oscar Number Three for portraying an aged version of Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” with scene after scene depicting the former Prime Minister wandering around her house, halfway to dementia.  If you go by the film, Thatcher was saddled with ungrateful children and a nagging househusband.  (In reality, she was married to a successful businessman, and, just as in the movie, let’s forget about whatever the kids’ problems were.)  Her mother didn’t want her to go to Oxford, as if the idea of a woman getting that much education was horrifying.  (I can find no evidence of this, in either Thatcher’s early life or anywhere else in the Western world.)  She was surrounded by men throughout her political career, and oftentimes uncomfortably so.  She didn’t like piles of garbage and decided to do something about it.  (We never find out exactly what.)  Some stuff blows up near her.  (We never find out exactly why.).  A war happened on TV.  And finally, she got to be Prime Minister for a while, so she could wear her cute little outfits and walk around big important halls, surrounded by men.

Like “She-Devil,” a movie where the protagonist destroys her husband’s life because he cheats and gets a little too upset at home, the only thing worth watching in this film is Streep.  Also like “She-Devil,” Streep’s performance alone isn’t able to save it.

What the film tries to do over and over again – to paint Thatcher out to be yet another victim of the opposite sex’s ignorance – can best be summed up by the worst offending clip.  During the Falklands War (the TV war mentioned above), Alexander Haig is visiting from America ostensibly to offer advice.  (Or something.  The scene is approximately 20 seconds long and I’m not watching it again.)  The director makes the execrable choice of showing Haig’s entrance in slow motion, with a swagger that’s the walking equivalent of a 10-inch dangler as he struts into the room.  Thatcher is unmoved and unperturbed, as she is throughout the film whenever she is standing in a room full of men.  She puts him in his place with a few direct words.  In reality, Thatcher always did seem untroubled with the political boys, so here Streep plays it correctly.  Why, then, are we shown continual opposition to Thatcher via the opposite sex, and throughout the entire film no less, when it apparently meant so little to the one made of real iron?

To begin with, “The Iron Lady” was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, a woman who also directed “Mamma Mia!”, a film so awful that I had to press eject before it was less than halfway through.  Streep starred in that one as well, refusing to save it by playing a woman with a grown daughter whose father Streep’s character tried to ensure she would never know about.  “The Iron Lady” was written by Abi Morgan, a woman who also wrote “Sex Traffic” for television, which I haven’t seen, but the description at the Internet Movie Database says in part: “Because of the near epidemic problem of sex trafficking of young Balkan women, [American defense contractor] Kernwell has decided to support the charity, Worldwide Federation Against Forced Migration.”  I guess I’m not going to see that, either.

The one area where I agree with Thatcher, the reduction of governmental ownership and control, is barely brought up except with the odd encomium to individuality or some sort of vague reference to hope.  The end result of Thatcher’s dismantling of governmental oversee is met with headlines screaming “Profit!” and Brits in an office doing a conga line.  In other words, that’s apparently all that was accomplished by Thatcher’s administration.  She let Brits get greedier.

Appalling.

Not to mention insulting.  It misrepresents not only what Thatcher actually believed and stood for, but it’s a slap in the face to women everywhere.  If there is a single feminist out there that ever thought feminism’s end goal was to actually help women become all that they can be, she should be absolutely disgusted with this film.  Why is every confrontation with men so flat and over with so quickly?  Why doesn’t Thatcher react more when she is slighted due to her sex?  Did she ever hang out with any women?  What about with female politicians, the state’s fun-loving parody of women?  Did she stand for anything specific?  Did she accomplish anything beneficial?  There are all these people in the film, standing outside various cars that carry Thatcher this way and that, jerking placards up and down, and shouting in her face.  What’s that all about?  Did any of them change their minds years later, like Cleese?  Can we talk to a single miner in this film?  What about a single trade union leader?  What the hell was the matter with Britain?

The only thing this movie succeeds in doing is showing you what the problem is between feminist and Leftist views of female politicians and who those politicians actually are.  It has nothing to do with their sex.  The only place where it ever has to do with a woman’s sex is in her mind, especially in the modern world.  Thatcher knew this.  She wasn’t vilified for being a woman; she was vilified for being a conservative woman.  She was a traitor.

It’s the same with Sarah Palin.  For a while, she seemed to be quite the presidential contender, so the Left came out with stories of her stupidity (her brain’s probably in her shin, too) to take her down a few notches.  Years later, when a couple of American feminists make a biopic of Palin, it will probably be the same deal, just so they can avoid talking about any conservative ideas that might actually have a basis in fact.  To some small extent, Thatcher understood the nature of coercion, at least coercion against businessmen.  We can’t have people learning that!  The only thing that feminists seem to admire about Thatcher is her sex.  If she weren’t demented in real life, I’m sure that the real Thatcher would have plenty of unpleasant things to say about that sort of attention.

Women have had access to the halls of statist power now for decades.  They have had access to education and opportunity for much longer.  Yet the only story about an important historical figure like Thatcher that two well-connected female filmmakers can come up with is not unlike the questions asked by a few female reporters at a press conference in 1975, when Thatcher won her position as leader of the Conservative party: “Mrs. Thatcher, have you spoken to your husband?”… “And what do you plan for … tonight?”… “You were carrying a bouquet of flowers when you came into Tory Central Office, … can you tell us who gave them …”  Compare that to an exchange she had with a male reporter:

Questioner: Mrs. Thatcher you said that sex was not the issue and so did the other candidates. What was the issue you think that put you over the top…?

Thatcher: I would like to think it was merit?

Questioner: Could you expand on that?

Thatcher: No, it doesn’t need expansion. You chaps don’t like short answers. Or direct answers. Men like long rambly, waffly answers.

Speak for some other man, (iron) lady.  I like it short, sweet, and to the point.  I’m glad you do as well.

It’s no surprise to me that Streep was attracted to this role.  She was of much the same mind three decades ago when she starred in “Out of Africa,” another biopic about another extraordinary woman, Karen von Blixen, better known by her male pseudonym, Isak Dinesen, who ran supply wagons on the African plains during World War I.  Near the beginning of the film, von Blixen accidentally walks into a men’s club and is quickly escorted out.  After a dangerous journey, and meeting up with these same men on the African plains with much-needed wartime supplies, they invite her back to the club at the end of the film for a toast before she leaves Africa for good.  As the thorough professional she is, Streep plays it the way it’s supposed to be played: with gratitude.  In an interview on the accompanying DVD, however, all she has to say is, “Big fucking deal!”

Ah, modern women.  Getting all pissed off at us guys for opening their doors, pulling out their chairs, and standing when they enter the room, yet keeping a little place for ourselves.  It escapes Streep and all other feminist-indoctrinated females that these little niceties were intended as a man’s sign of respect.  Opening doors, pulling out chairs, and standing when one enters the room is what a butler does for his employer, or what a servant does for his ruler.  Somewhere down the line over the last few decades, some idiot who doesn’t understand an ounce of manhood told these women that we did these things because we thought of them as being weak, like children.  Streep will probably never understand that the toast to von Blixen, whether or not it actually occurred, was because she did something amazing that, in the minds of those men, benefited them far more than it did her, and it was obvious to them that she did so at the risk of her own safety and well being.  The toast to her fantastic feat had little to do with her sex; the doors opened, chairs pulled out, and legs straightened for the real von Blixen, probably every other day of her life, had everything to do with it.  That, Ms. Streep, is the big, fucking deal.

Bollocks.

Thatcher understood the world of work.  Until recently, work outside the home was largely a man’s world.  The demographics have changed, but men have not.  They’re not going to.  Therefore, women who envy men’s exclusive clubs, who look longingly at the big office, who see from way far away where men appear to be doing something interesting, need to understand what men are like in these settings before they embark.  Once women were let in to these “all-male” areas of modern life, they discovered that it wasn’t tailored to women!

Shocking.

I remember a father writing online about his daughter wanting to go out for high school football.  He agreed to help her train by taking her out into the backyard and clotheslining her.  That was the end of that.  Yes, ladies, football looks like a lot of fun, until you actually play it.  Then it’s bruises, broken bones, cold mud, grass stains, body odor, sweat, taunting, teasing, sore losers, sore winners, sore muscles, and beer.  Still want to play?

The insults hurled at Thatcher, both in this silly movie and in slightly-less-silly real life, are insults the men hurl at each other.  British Parliament is notorious for this.  It’s expected.  Any woman who wants entry had better have a thick, Thatcher-like skin.  To stop the proceedings every time your feelings are hurt and blame it all on men is childish.  To base an entire movie on this skewed world view is even more so.

Streep wins an Oscar for playing a woman whom we’re supposed to admire simply because a) she won a political contest, and b) she’s a woman.  Kate Winslet wins an Oscar for playing a former Nazi prison guard who let Jewish women burn to death in a church instead of opening the doors, and we’re supposed to feel somewhat sorry for her because a) she can’t read, and b) she’s a woman.  Katharine Zeta-Jones wins an Oscar for playing a woman whose murders we’re supposed to excuse or at least laugh at because a) she can sing and dance, b) her feelings were hurt, and c) she’s a woman.

Charlize Theron wins for playing a prostitute who kills her johns.  Sandra Bullock wins after jokingly telling a large black guy she’s just adopted that she’ll cut off his penis if he impregnates any young woman at college.  Liza Minelli’s Oscar-winning character gets an abortion without the father’s knowledge or consent.  Julie Andrews wins an Oscar for lecturing a dad who ignores his children, all the while ignoring the mother who ignores the same children.  That is a large part of our culture, and it stinks almost as much as a large pile of shit.

The real Margaret Thatcher was invited to view new designs for British Airways on little model airplanes.  She saw some weird design reminiscent of a 60s-era Dixie cup on one of the tails.  The Union Jack, a design that no doubt appealed to a conservative monarchist like Thatcher, was absent.  With a tight-yet-polite grin, she covered it up with a tissue, to the nervous laughter of the men surrounding her.  Makes you wonder what a mentally competent Thatcher would do to this movie if she could comprehend it.  That’s entertainment I’d gladly pay for.  And it would have nothing to do with her sex.

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