Hollywood is, as everybody knows, controlled by our enemies. And yet somehow, movies have overall been pretty good to the cause of monarchy. School teaches us to have negative associations with words like “monarchy”, “authority”, “feudal”, “medieval”, while movies end up giving us positive associations with “king”, “queen”, “princess”, “knight”, and “royal”. This needs explaining.
Republicans generally have no understanding of the appeal of monarchy. They think that a monarchist must be either an aspiring tyrant who secretly sees himself as the coming king, a fool who imagines that only exceptional men will ever occupy the throne, or a childishly servile fellow who “can’t handle” the freedom of adulthood. There’s no sense that monarchy may actually enable a certain type of human excellence, that loyalty to a leader–not because of his personal charisma, but because of an order of legitimacy that transcends both ruler and ruled–can be a manly, virile, and intelligent attribute.
This is a weakness of the republican consensus. The idea of a brave and loyal subject is intuitive to most boys. Progressive doctrines, republicanism included, take a very extreme, and thus difficult to defend position–that rival positions have absolutely nothing to be said for them. So it is that a historian will complain when a Civil War documentary gives the Northern justification 15 minutes and the Southern justification 15 seconds, not because of the imbalance, but because the South was allowed a say at all. So it is that sodomy marriage advocates feel compelled to say not that their arguments are better, but that their opponents don’t have any arguments at all. Not a shred of ambiguity, not a single trade-off or shade of grey, is allowed in the official narrative. Only their control of the media makes it possible for them to advance such a fragile position.
To subvert republicanism, you only need to portray a good subject, not a good king. The king in a story may be good, bad, or absent. Republicans and monarchists agree that a king might be any one of these. The disagreement is on whether subjects are degraded compared to citizens. Even loyalty to a bad king, it portrayed as admirable, will thus do more for the cause of monarchy than for republicanism. So republican propaganda has to be really egregious. For instance, The Patriot had to fictionalize history making the British into monsters in order to make the Founding Traitors look good. Another republican film, Gladiator, was actually a pretty good action movie, but even run-of-the-mill Americans probably felt that the “bring back the republic” subplot was stupid.
Obvious propaganda can backfire. For instance, it was Leon Uris’ book Exodus that cured me of Zionism. I realized that the story of Israel couldn’t be as black-and-white as that, and yet Uris’ story is basically what Americans are taught. Such was my first venture outside the Judeo-Manichean narrative. Often enough, screenwriters don’t want to sacrifice the integrity of their stories to the degree republican dogma demands, and so movies are filled if not with monarchical sentiments, at least with characters with monarchical sentiments.
Let’s take an example. I know what you’re thinking. “Bonald is going to start talking about some Disney cartoon again.” Well, you’re right! I want to talk about Robin Hood. I like this movie. As a kid, I found Prince John (played by Peter Ustinov in my favorite of his roles) and Sir Hiss hilarious, and I still do. Given how wicked and ridiculous the man (well, anthropomorphized lion) occupying the crown is, one would expect this to be a very anti-monarchist movie, with audiences going home thanking the stars that the vote saves them from rapacious rulers like Prince John, but the actual effect is the opposite. Take the archery contest scene. Robin Hood has won the contest but been captured by Prince John, who sentences him to death (“sudden, instant, and even immeeeediate DEATH!”). Maid Marian pleads for Robin’s life, but the prince insists “Traitors to the crown must die!”
Robin Hood, tied up by John’s guards, shouts out “Traitors to the crown? That crown belongs to King Richard. Long live King Richard!”
Facing death, Robin Hood chooses to defiantly proclaim his loyalty to his legitimate king, precisely because of his legitimacy (not because he’s such a good king, but because it’s his crown). Do we find his gesture weak-willed or immature? Certainly not. The boys watching will recognize it as heroic. Nor would Robin Hood shouting something about the Will of the People had the same poetic force. Abstractions are not what is needed at such a moment, but loyalty to tangible persons.
Note that I haven’t even talked about the good king returning to fix things in the end.
Or how about the most conservative movie ever made, The Last Samurai? Here the heroes are rebelling against the one whom even they regard as the legitimate Emperor. And yet they do it out of a sense of higher loyalty to him and his realm. You can call this a rationalization, but they are clearly sincere about it, it is clearly important to them, and we are allowed to admire their monarchical idealism.