“When the Pillsbury Doughboy from Hell tries to tell us what kind of movies we can make or see, the only honorable response is ‘Go f**k yourself,'” Jonah Goldberg writes in the latest edition of the G-File, which imports the potentially trendsetting phrase “hoden angst” into America:
I made a similar point in my review of Dinesh D’Souza’s book The Enemy at Home years ago. D’Souza argued — plausibly! — that the Western decadence celebrated by the Left made it harder to win over socially conservative Muslims abroad. I think he’s right; I just don’t care. I think Miley Cyrus’s prime-time slatternly gyrations are an embarrassment and a sign of a real sickness in our culture. But if such behavior makes a bunch of murderous fanatics want to blow up Americans, that’s on them. As I wrote in the CRB:
. . . In short, D’Souza is right that the bawdy spectacle of Hollywood and the Left sometimes makes America’s job harder.
But here’s my primary objection: I don’t care. There’s something about The Enemy at Home that gets the Irish up, even in a guy named Goldberg. I can criticize and complain about my brother all I like, but if my brother bothers somebody outside the family, well, that’s just too bad. Similarly, Ted Kennedy may or may not be a Caligulan carbuncle, but if the jihadists want to behead him for it, they’ll have to get through me first. In short, if our debauchery fuels Islamic terrorists to kill us, the blame for that still resides entirely with the terrorists. One can wholeheartedly agree that some Americans make poor use of their freedom, and that certain behavior shouldn’t be promoted, but that’s our problem. And if it makes it harder for us to make our case to the Muslim world, then harder it must be.
The collective U.S. response to North Korea’s assault on Sony has been disgusting and dispiriting. I don’t think we should bomb North Korea over this (and not because I am against bombing North Korea per se, but because I think the costs of doing so outweigh the benefits), but the correct response is to flip Kim Jong-un the bird. What form that bird-flipping would take is open to debate. I’d like it if the TV networks all ran The Interview at the same time. I’d like Barack Obama to call the leaders of the House and Senate to a private screening of The Interview at the White House, just like Woodrow Wilson did with Birth of a Nation. Let’s play the thing on the Jumbotron in Times Square. Simply put, I want America to have some balls about this kind of thing. Instead we’re paralyzed with hoden angst.
(Quick explanation: I had a friend in college who told me about his high-school football or track coach, I can’t remember which. The coach was from Germany. He used to berate the boys about their fear of getting hit in their giggleberries. He would shout at them, “You must get over your hoden angst.” “Hoden” in German means “testicles.” Angst means fear, worry, anxiety. After we heard this term, a bunch of us would, in our best Schwarzeneggerian/SNL accents, walk around telling each other “Girly man, you must lose your hoden angst!” (Other friends of mine briefly named their band “Hoden Angst”) (“I’m losing track of all the parentheticals,” — The Couch)).
As far as worrying about American debauchery angering our enemies, it’s utterly impossible to appease them, as Mark Steyn noted at the start of the month, almost three weeks before co-chairman Scott Rudin and others at Sony caved over its Seth Rogan comedy and Paramount pulled its own (coincidentally?) Scott Rudin-produced 2004 film, Team America, World Police:
A few decades back, a young middle-class Egyptian spending some time in the US had the misfortune to be invited to a dance one weekend and was horrified at what he witnessed:
The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips . . .
Where was this den of debauchery? Studio 54 in the 1970s? Haight-Ashbury in the summer of love? No, the throbbing pulsating sewer of sin was Greeley, Colorado, in 1949. As it happens, Greeley, Colorado, in 1949 was a dry town. The dance was a church social. And the feverish music was “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” as introduced by Esther Williams in “Neptune’s Daughter.” Revolted by the experience, Sayyid Qutb decided that America (and modernity in general) was an abomination, returned to Egypt, became the leading intellectual muscle in the Muslim Brotherhood, and set off a chain that led from Qutb to Zawahiri to bin Laden to the Hindu Kush to the Balkans to 9/11 to the brief Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt to the Islamic State marching across Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Qutb’s view of the West is the merest extension of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — America as the ultimate seducer, the Great Satan.
I’m a reasonable chap, and I’d be willing to meet the Muslim Brotherhood chaps halfway on a lot of the peripheral stuff like beheadings, stonings, clitoridectomies and whatnot. But you’ll have to pry “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from my cold dead hands and my dancing naked legs. A world without “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” would be very cold indeed.
Of course, for Sony, things have only gotten worse: in addition to appeasing the likes of Kim Jong-un (let alone the successors to Sayyid Qutb), as Roger L. Simon writes today, Sony Pictures has just knuckled under to an equally powerful enemy of America: Al Sharpton.
No wonder Sony is so full of angst — in the course of one week from hell, they’ve surrendered the entirety of their hoden.