Friday, June 26, 2015

The "Frozen" Girls "Inside Out" the Boat

At the end of The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown's book about the University of Washington varsity crew that went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, oarsman Joe Rantz marries Joyce, his faithful high-school sweetheart, and lives happily ever after.

The Boys in the Boat is narrative non-fiction that mixes male athletic competition with the hard-scrabble story of Joe Rantz and the horrible fact of rising Nazi fascism. One of the contrasts Brown draws is between the comfortable upper-middle class undergraduates "in pressed slacks and freshly shined oxfords and cardigan sweaters" and the kids from the artisan class who just managed to scrape together the tuition and were working night jobs to stay in school. Further in the book we get to contrast the converted government seaplane hangar in which the Washington Husky crew kept their rowing shells with the lavish crew facilities of the WASP colleges back east.

But I found myself reading the book as an allegory of our own time.

After all, if Joe Rantz was chucked out by his father's second wife when Joe was ten, we have our own abandoned athletes like The Blind Side's Michael Oher. And if you are a conservative you can't help notice the parallels between 1930s Nazi fascism and today's Liberal Fascism.

Oh sure, we aren't putting anyone in concentration camps, but we are firing prominent people for having the wrong opinions on gay marriage. We don't have Leni Riefenstahl and her Triumph of the Will, but we did have a big presidential acceptance speech a while back staged in a stadium complete with heroic camera angles and Grecian formula columns in back of the candidate. We don't have the virulently anti-semitic Der Stürmer, but we do have the virulent mob of social justice warriors ready to turn out a Twitter mob to name and shame anyone who dares to voice an heretical thought that departs from liberal orthodoxy.

For me, the Command Central of liberal cultural orthodoxy is the children's CGI cartoon feature. I am talking about Disney mega-hit Frozen and the current Pixar-Disney hit Inside Out that's now playing in a theater near you.

Both Frozen and Inside Out are what used to be called "fractured fairy tales." They need to be broken because the originals don't serve the liberal zeitgeist and don't send the message that liberals want to indoctrinate in our children. Frozen is a rewrite of Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen. Only now the heroine is not trying to find the ordinary lost boy next door, corrupted by a shard from the Snow Queen's mirror, but trying to rescue her sister, and both are princesses. In the Frozen ending the two sisterly princesses are best friends forever instead of the boy and girl next door living happily ever after through the strength of Gerda's Christian love.

In Inside Out we have a little girl tossed out of her happy Minnesota childhood, complete with championship hockey team, into the tech startup world of San Francisco; and her world collapses. Her troubles are symbolized by a pop-psych (but actually mechanical) representation of her emotions where Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust rule her consciousness from Headquarters. The trouble starts when this white-bread upper-middle-class girl gets up in the diverse class in her new San Francisco school complete with right-on black teacher and discovers her sadness over the life she left behind.

(Diverse class? In the city of San Francisco? Where I imagine every parent is a white helicopter parent or an Asian tiger mom?)

In both movies we get hammered over the head with boys in girls' clothing. The movie makers are converting fairy tales into boys' adventure stories with the good parts played by girls. We are meant to think that every girl will grow up to become Carly Fiorina. (Only, of course, none of them will grow up to be a Republican. Eeeuw!)

But women just aren't like that. Daniel James Brown allows us a glimpse in The Boys in the Boat. Joe Rantz's sweetheart Joyce finds herself enraged that Joe's father could ever have allowed his second wife to toss Joe out of the family home.

After the Berlin Olympics it took two years for Joe Rantz to graduate from UW in 1939 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He then went to work at Union Oil Company and later at Boeing, living with Joyce in the family home north of Seattle for decades where they raised five children.
In all those years, Joyce never forgot what Joe had gone through in his early years, and she never wavered from a vow she had made to herself early in their relationship: come what may, she would make sure he never went through anything like it again, would never be abandoned, would always have a warm and loving home.
That reads like the women I know, even, no, especially, the liberal women. Their entire lives revolve around moral analysis -- some might even say moral judgment. 

The one thing these women are not is faux heroines in faux liberal fairy tales.

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