Culture

The ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Lunacy

Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss at the Emmy Awards, September 17, 2017. (Reuters photo: Lucy Nicholson)
‘Trump’s America’ is not perfect, but it is far from Atwood’s dystopia.

Donald Trump, much to his chagrin, never won an Emmy for The Apprentice, but he can now take indirect credit for a clutch of the awards.

The Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale won eight Emmys on Sunday night, a sweep fueled, in part, by the widely accepted belief in liberal America that the show tells us something about the Trump era.

Based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, the series depicts a misogynist dystopia. Christian fundamentalists have established a theocracy that — after an environmental debacle craters the birth rate — forces fertile women, called handmaids, into sexual slavery. 

Set in contemporary America, the show combines the atmosphere of The Scarlet Letter with 1984. It is bleak, plodding, heavy-handed, and occasionally gripping. What has given it extra oomph is the trope that it is relevant to Trump’s America. This is a staple of the commentary, and everyone involved in the show’s production pushes the notion.

According to Atwood, people woke up after Trump’s election “and said we’re no longer in a fantasy fiction.” The series is indeed highly relevant — as a statement on the fevered mind of progressives.

The president doesn’t want to impose his traditional sexual morality because, for starters, he doesn’t have any to impose. His critics are mistaking a thrice-married real estate mogul who has done cameos in Playboy videos and extensive interviews on The Howard Stern Show with Cotton Mather. He isn’t censorious; he’s boorish.

“I thought this could be a great cautionary tale,” director Reed Morano says of the show. “We don’t think about how women are treated in other countries as much as we should, and I guess I thought this would raise awareness.” Fair enough. The Handmaid’s Tale does have something to tell us about, say, Saudi Arabia. But, in an uncomfortable fact for Christian-fearing feminists, none of the world’s women-hating theocracies are Christian.

Elisabeth Moss, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of handmaid Offred, warns of “things happening with women’s reproductive rights in our own country that make me feel like this book is bleeding over into reality.”

What this means is that Republicans want to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and roll back Obamacare’s contraception mandate. If they succeed, this would mean less government intervention in matters of sexual morality, rather than more.

The progressive mind is unable to process that it has won the culture war in a rout (except for abortion, where conservatives are trying to chip away at our extremely liberal laws at the margins). We live in a country where Christian bakers get harried by government for politely declining to bake cakes for gay weddings, yet progressives still believe we are a few steps away from enslaving women.

For sheer obtuseness, it’s hard to beat executive producer Bruce Miller’s comment about a protest scene from the show that has been compared to the anti-Trump Women’s March. “You’re seeing exactly the same signs,” he told Vanity Fair, “exactly the same images, and you’re also seeing Capitol police with guns, not firing them, thank God, but it’s the same image.”

Actually, it’s the opposite image. There’s a vast difference between the forces of a totalitarian state crushing a protest, as happens in the show, and police maintaining the peace during a demonstration in a robustly free country, as occurred right here in Donald Trump’s USA.

According to Atwood: “If you’re going to get women back into the home, which some people still firmly believe is where they belong, how would you do that? All you have to do is remove the rights and freedoms that [women] have fought for and accumulated over the [past] 200 years.”

Yeah, that’s all you have to do. Atwood doesn’t explain who, straw men aside, actually wants to do this, or how they’d go about it. She wrote a book that, despite her intentions, has become a cautionary tale about how sophisticated people lose their minds.

    READ MORE:

    The 2017 Emmys Turned Out to be Exactly What We All Expected

    They Hysteria of The Handmaid’s Tale

    We Are a Long Way from The Handmaid’s Tale

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. © 2017 King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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