Imagine seeing the following movie:
Hitler learns that on his visit with Mussolini, he will have to attend a formal ball. It will be expected that he dance at least three or four dances, certainly with Mrs. Mussolini and perhaps also with some of the wives and daughters of the German high command. But Adolph is a complete klutz and he is fearful he will embarrass not just himself but the whole of Aryan manhood, and at a critical time, when they are planning to respond to the difficult international crisis. So on the advice of Himmler, Hitler engages a ballroom dance instructor who has an uncomfortably unconventional style. But over time they bond and the student learns. The evening of the ball, Hitler reminds the assembled German and Italian bigwigs of Fred Astaire, only more virile. The dance instructor, Himmler and a couple of very nice-looking ladies are all moved to tears.
Depending on the date and provenance of such a film we would take it as a campy parody, like “The Producers,” or a piece of propaganda like “The Eternal Jew,” a 1940’s Nazi-made piece of anti-Semitic swill.
Would you think that any American, or even German, reviewer would describe such a film thusly?:
- “…transcends its historical setting to present a compelling portrait of quiet heroism.”
- “…a moving and remarkable story of friendship and triumph.”
- “A beautiful story of one man’s finding his…”
- “A film of extraordinary humanity and spirit.”
Yet these are some of the many positive and entirely serious comments that reviewers and critics have made about “The King’ Speech,” which depicts with no irony the struggle of King George VI of England to learn not to stutter. These quotes are completely representative of the positive critical response the movie has gained.
Before proving that my provocative comparison of King George VI to Hitler is accurate and appropriate, I wanted to review the ideas for which all kings stand:
- Certain people by birth are better than everyone else.
- The ruler of a nation is hereditary or decided by a very small number of people all of whose positions derive from birth.
- The ruler makes all decisions and can not be overruled.
- A class of people above all others has special rights and deserves better treatment.
- Every resident of a geographic area must fight to preserve the rule and special rights of the person on top and his family.
Now why are we glorifying a person who is the absolute symbol of these obnoxious beliefs just because he was rich enough to buy the best teacher possible to help him meet a challenge as an adult that most of us face by fourth grade (and in the case of poor children who stutter, sometimes with no help whatsoever)?
Even if you agree with me that that George VI is a symbol of these disgusting royalist views, you might still think it unfair to compare George VI to Hitler because he is only a rather weak and vestigial type of symbol called a “constitutional monarch.”
But consider: Who killed more people and made more people suffer, the British royalty over about 800 years or the Nazis between 1930 and 1945? And since George VI is primarily a symbol and all symbols are vessels, we can extend his symbolism beyond England to encompass all of royalty, who surely in the history of the world were personally responsible for more deaths and more suffering than the Nazis.
I’m not saying that “The King’s Speech” didn’t deserve its 12 Oscar nominations and 4 Oscars. Movies about the “banality of evil,” as Hannah Arendt put it, often are worthy of praise. What I am saying is that the critics and judges should have dealt with the film with the sense of irony and/or disgust with which they would deal with a serious film about Hitler, Stalin or Richard Nixon facing a personal crisis.
What I’m asking is that people, especially Americans whose ancestors shed blood twice to establish the principle that all men are equal, should begin to consider royalty as reprehensible.
To those Americans who have flag decals on their cars or hang flags out their windows, I suggest that a more patriotic act would be to write or email every media outlet in which you see a story about the upcoming royal wedding and tell them that you don’t want to see any more stories about the personal lives of the royalty, which inherently glorify these leeches on society by reveling in their unearned celebrity.