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Wow. Just Wow.

June 3, 2010

Via David Boaz, I’ve been genuinely shocked by the reaction that several liberals writers had to the latest rendition of Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott.  Apparently, this version of the classic outlaw’s story is just a big political statement—Crowe’s Robin is a “big angry baby” who’s just immaturely whining about taxes and a “libertarian rebel”, and the movie feels like “a rousing love letter to the Tea Party movement” as well as “a political attack ad paid for by the tea party movement”.  Uh… damn.  I regret to inform you that I’ve already seen Robin Hood twice—on the first occasion, I had a great time in the theater, mostly because of how hard the characters crushed it (they partied, got chicks, and killed Frenchmen the whole time), and the second time I just got bored because the movie’s superficiality.  But it’s good fun as long as you take it at face value, which apparently a lot of people were unwilling to do.  Over at Reason, Cathy Young has this to say:

Whatever one may think of Scott’s newest incarnation of the Robin Hood legend, it is more than a little troubling to see alleged liberals speak of liberty and individual rights in a tone of sarcastic dismissal. This is especially ironic since the Robin Hood of myth and folklore probably has much more in common with the “libertarian rebel” played by Russell Crowe than with the medieval socialist of the “rob from the rich, give to the poor” cliché. At heart, the noble-outlaw legend that has captured the human imagination for centuries is about freedom, not wealth redistribution.

…The Sheriff of Nottingham is Robin’s chief opponent; at the time, it was the sheriffs’ role as tax collectors in particular that made them objects of loathing by peasants and commoners. [In other books and movies] Robin Hood is also frequently shown helping men who face barbaric punishments for hunting in the royal forests, a pursuit permitted to nobles and strictly forbidden to the lower classes in medieval England; in other words, he is opposing privilege bestowed by political power, not earned wealth.

Of all the things I’ve ever heard/read/seen about Robin Hood, I’ve never inferred that he was some sort of socialist.  Indeed, I’ve never inferred that he was anything but a classic liberal, i.e. someone opposed to the arbitrary right of kings and rulers to do as they pleased at the expense of their subjects.  And, as I understand it, modern liberalism and conservatism are both descendants of classic liberalism.  It’s pretty hard to sit around at criticize an anti-tyranny movie for its emphasis on individual freedom.  I mean, the whole point here is King: bad, people: good.  How can you be annoyed by the damn Magna Carta?

Moreover, how can you possibly see this as a political statement?  It’s Ridley Scott’s next Gladiator. It’s about as superficial and good v. evil as you can get.  You think Ridley’s a Tea Partier?  Russell Crowe?  I had always thought conservatives were the ones who read too far into things, culturally speaking, but this is, frankly, nuts.

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