Mark Steyn on the totalitarianism of the Now


The appeal of “old” stories used to be that their truths were so enduring you didn’t mind the crinolines and powdered wigs: When I read bedtime stories to my little girl – Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, Black Beauty – she did not have an adult’s conception of time and so was too young to know or to care that all these people lived years before she was born and were all now dead. She was simply engaged by their quandaries. The endurance of Shakespeare is, as the cliché has it, that he “understands human nature” and so you cut him some slack on the doublet and hose.

But the hyper-present-tense of our own culture has more or less inverted that: We don’t mind the doublet and hose, it’s the “human nature” that’s the problem. So, when today’s movies do the period stuff, we impose our values on their times – hence, all the “f*cks” and lesbo sub-plots in recent Miss Marples, or the ghastly boorishness of Robert Downey Jr’s outings as Sherlock Holmes. Their times, our values. And because we are, in fact, engaged in overthrowing and remaking “human nature”, the past’s eternal verities are a particular affront. More.

Reality check: Wars on human nature usually involve mass murder.

See also: Mark Steyn on the Deep State coup against Trump