Sunday May 16, 2010

Robin Hood — Libertarian?

Here's my favorite part of A.O. Scott's review of the new “Robin Hood”:

Meanwhile — and believe me, there is a whole lot of meanwhile in this crowded, lumbering film —...

Here's my least-favorite part:

You may have heard that Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but that was just liberal media propaganda. This Robin is no socialist bandit practicing freelance wealth redistribution, but rather a manly libertarian rebel striking out against high taxes and a big government scheme to trample the ancient liberties of property owners and provincial nobles. Don’t tread on him!

Yes, Robin Hood, in legend, is most famous for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, but Hollywood, liberal Hollywood, has never followed suit. In the Fairbanks version in 1922, Robin and his men sing about it (“We rob the rich, relieve distressed...”), and an arrow quivers close to “the Rich Man of Wakefield,” but that's about it. Otherwise they're against Prince John's excessive taxes. The Flynn version during the Depression? That caravan they rob is full of Prince John's tax money. Costner? He does rob a wealthy man, and takes the necklace off of his comely daughter, but he, too, is mostly about getting back tax money. Ditto Patrick Bergin the same year. You can take issue with it, but don't pretend it's anything new. Hollywood always makes it personal, not political.

Plus the libertarian line is just silly. The libertarian assumption is that we're all free and government enslaves us. The 12th century assumption is that we're all enslaved, at the whim of a king who is chosen by God, so Robin tries to use government, i.e., kingly decree, to free us. We're talking different planets.

Most important, and please accept the usual SPOILERS here, the fault of the new “Robin Hood” movie isn't that Robin Hood does't rob from the rich and give to the poor; it's that he never becomes Robin Hood.

Ah, well. At least Scott's review isn't as bad as Armond White's.

Posted at 09:08 AM on Sunday May 16, 2010 in category Robin Hood  
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