Sunday, 3 January 2016

Review of BBC Sherlock 'The Abominable Bride'

I watched, live, the BBC 'Christmas Special (broadcast January 1 2016) of their highly successful Sherlock series starring the acting 'dream team' of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and produced by the scriptwriting dream team from Doctor Who - of Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

On the one hand it was (mostly) state-of-the-art entertaining, clever, witty hokum - with high production values; on the other hand it was 98% soft-sell propaganda; and 2% a full dress sermon, with an explicit moral message - all combined to promote an asonishingly evil morality based on distorted pseudo-facts.

The whole plot was built on the (false) premise of woman's pervasive and extreme historical oppression.

(In fact, in almost all societies in history, by biological, physical, and social structural criteria women are the privileged sex: obviously! and rightly so, in my view) - just compare the lives, dangers, hardships, mortality rates, life expectancies, privileges, responsibilities, exemptions, supports etc. The mass of men are, and always have been, regarded as disposible...)

In case we missed the implicit message, at the denouement Sherlock stepped out of character, and delivered a (false) historical sermon almost straight to camera to explain this to the audience - illustrated with women characters stepping out of character to illustrate the various types of female oppression (cruelty, violence, infidelity, being marginalised as a servant, not being allowed to qualify as a doctor - all conflated); after which he drew the moral that because oppression women who have experienced oppression are entitled to murder men.

In other words, the episode was constructed - with considerable brilliance, expense and effort throughout - to prove the assertion that oppression of women (self-defined) is the greatest human sin, and (therefore) worse than murder - in the sense that it justifies murder.

Its overall purpose, almost perfectly achieved - although I would regard the sermon as a major artistic flaw - was to provoke resentment and anger among women viewers; and to encourage women to unite and organise to exact revenge and further crush the exploited sex (as modelled by the secret society of women depicted in the episode).

This is, of course, the bog standard, mainstream and high status modern secular morality of The West currently and for about the past half century - in that sense there was nothing at all exceptional about The Abominable Bride except for its exceptionally high quality is entertainment.

But the array of talent and wealth and media hype that was mobilised by this exercise in propagating evil morality demonstrates to me the utter futility of Christians imagining that they can win the Culture Wars by engaging the opposition on their own ground! The fight for Good must therefore take place outwith the mass media, and by invisible and undetectable communicative means - these channels are invisible and undetectable because the enemy think they are unreal, made-up, nonsense.

19 comments:

Imnobody said...

women are the privileged sex: obviously! and rightly so, in my view

What does this "rightly" mean? If you mean that this is right from a biological point of view, I agree: women are the scarce resource in reproduction. If you mean this is right from a Christian point of view, I disagree: I don't find anything in the Bible that supports this view. Maybe it would be a good idea that you elaborate on that, if you wish. I enjoy your insights.

In traditional societies, women were the privileged sex but men used to be given some compensations for the sacrifices they endured for women. They had status, authority or being positive they were not going to lose their children and be stripped of half of their assets. Those compensations have been removed so incentives for men to build a family are becoming less and less. This is part of the whole set of measures that powers that be have established to destroy the family and make us completely dependent on the State.

was to provoke resentment and anger among women viewers; and to encourage women to unite and organise to exact revenge and further crush the exploited sex

This is another of the measures I was referring to. Resentment in women towards men fuels divorce, putting career before family formation so more people are alone and depend on the State.

Besides trusting the providence of God, our only hope is that this system is not sustainable (the amount of debt that modern economies have is a sign of that), although the wealth of the Western world can make it last one hundred years or more.

Wondering said...

Why do you think it's right to privilege women beyond basic biology of them having the children? My understanding from reading history is the few times when men have had significantly greater formal on-the-surface rights are the times of greatest advances. Men are still the losers even then but society should be structured to support men of a certain type.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Imn - Well, the sexes are not equal, so in each specific we should expect to find asymmetry.

The matter of 'looking after' women (more than men) is of course biological, and in that sense 'built in' so I assume it is the right way around. That attitude is held by the best people I know of.

This does not mean that the preference should be extreme (as currently), nor does it mean that there should not be exceptions, and such matters ought to be done from self-sacrifice not by coercion.

But, with appropriate caveats, the general attitude of 'women and children first' feels right, no matter how deeply one reflects - and certainly, the opposite ethic of men pushing to the front and taking the lion's share because they are stronger... seems very obviously wrong.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wondering - As above. A simple rule, even when correct, cannot cover all the nuances. But reversing the rule and inspecting the result, often clarifies its rightness and necessity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nicholas - Note that I italicized 'almost' all societies. But certainly my summary applies to the target audience for this show.

thelastfurlong said...

I've just watched it now.

About poor women - of which I am one, I think I disagree with "Its overall purpose, almost perfectly achieved - although I would regard the sermon as a major artistic flaw - was to provoke resentment and anger among women viewers; and to encourage women to unite and organise to exact revenge and further crush the exploited sex (as modelled by the secret society of women depicted in the episode)."

To me, it simply pandered to the hideous Feminists who are a horrible bunch that have completely lost the plot. and who already "encourage women to unite and organise to exact revenge and further crush the exploited sex". After all, Women's Liberation is NOT the same as Feminism. There are millions of women who cringe at Feminism and their ridiculous antics, seeing in the West, except for a few small details (like equal pay) Woman's Liberation has achieved its aims - that kind that THOSE women would have imagined. The secret society/meeting in Crypts/viciousness/man hate is Feminism - the "Monstrous Regiment" as Holmes suggested to Dr Watson to use as the title of the case.

I would have preferred that title! He summed it up perfectly.

Bruce Charlton said...

@tlf - Just waiting to be moderated...

Misanthropist said...

"But, with appropriate caveats, the general attitude of 'women and children first' feels right, no matter how deeply one reflects - and certainly, the opposite ethic of men pushing to the front and taking the lion's share because they are stronger... seems very obviously wrong."

It would be morally wrong and objectionable for men to use their greater physical strength to simply gain more advantages and resources over women. But what are the dangers of that happening on a systematic society wide level in any society remotely resembling our own?

Yet it is equally morally wrong and objectionable for women to use their superior social skills and powers of manipulation, psychological and cultural biases in their favour, or even status as a majority voting bloc in democratic nations, to help themselves to more resources and advantages while imposing more disadvantages on men. Abuse of power is equally objectionable, whether it comes from differences in natural physical strength or a host of other dynamics. Yet few people seem to recoil in disgust at this scenario being played out in the same way they would at the former scenario you posit.

Western societies in particular have become deeply unbalanced, in that people have become hyperaware and hypervigilant against any potential or imagined abuses of male power or masculine evil. And yet people have become more and more oblivious and blinded to feminine evil or abuse of female power. The whole women good-men bad paradigm has become so deeply entrenched that we lack the moral, psychological or intellectual capacity to confront feminine evil. It is thus able go unchecked and run amok. Feminism largely represents the dark side of feminine energy or power. As such, it can only survive and thrive in such an unbalanced environment.

Bruce Charlton said...

@M - Yes, but equality is impossible.

What is wrong is that the privileged sex (rightly privileged, in my view, as I said) is systematically treated as if it is the oppressed and exploited sex - and this *falsehood* is what causes the pathological imbalance. (A lot of modern ills come from the elites doubling-down on falsehoods - see today's post.)

Misanthropist said...

"What is wrong is that the privileged sex (rightly privileged, in my view, as I said) is systematically treated as if it is the oppressed and exploited sex".

Yet I would argue that the fact that so few women actually acknowledge the advantages they enjoy, and so many women complain about alleged disadvantage and systematic mistreatment, is a compelling argument for why women do not deserve any advantages (or at least no longer deserve the considerations that may have historically attached to their sex). Surely the least that the privileged owe the less privileged in society is some magnanimity and gratitude for the advantages they enjoy. Or at the very least to not invent endless fictitious grievances.

It is absurd and grotesque to expect men to continue to sacrifice their own interests, or even their very lives if it comes down to it, for the sake of women who not only refuse to acknowledge the advantages they enjoy, but may well be content to continue to demonise such men as unfairly privileged.

It is a particularly pernicious form of evil to not only expect a particular group to endure various forms of disadvantage, but to then tell that group that not only will there be no acknowledgement of the disadvantages they face, but they will be endlessly lectured on atoning for all the allegedly unfair privileges they enjoy.

Bruce Charlton said...

@M - My own view is that two wrongs don't make a right.

But for those who advocate that men ought to become the systematically-privileged sex, there is of course a culture of a billion-plus people and growing which provides exactly this option.

JP said...

Haven't seen that particular show, but I have seen a number of Hollywood productions that convey the message that it is not merely acceptable, but admirable and obligatory, for "victims" to kill the "oppressors" - and an "oppressor" is defined by membership in a particular group (the one group that it is OK for everyone to hate), not by their personal oppressive actions.

Misanthropist said...

There are many more interesting angles to all this that could be pursued. But what I find interesting is the idea that women are superior to men as something that should be celebrated as a noble, moral and civilising factor. Is the idea that one group is objectively superior to another, however true or false, something that should ever really be celebrated in this way?

This is not to deny that objective differences exist between groups (such as average intelligence among different racial groups etc.). Yet the acknowledgement of such differences should never really be about celebrating how superior one group is and lording it over the inferior group. It is simply about acknowledging uncomfortable truths, as suppressing those truths will cause more problems, distortions and confusion. Whenever the belief that one group is superior or more deserving to another is promoted as something to be celebrated, as great and noble, it is a good bet that one is dealing more with the realm of human ego and delusion than a desire to confront uncomfortable truths.

What is notable is the extent to which the belief that women are superior to men (or at the very least equal to men in all abilities and respects, if not better) requires an extraordinary amount of social support, conditioning, manipulation and delusion in order to be maintained. Simple truths do not require this level of support to survive. Only lies and delusions do.

We ought to recognise the tendency to value females over males for what it is. That is, simply a psychological bias that is ingrained but is not particularly noble and has probably outlived its usefulness. Indeed, I would argue that it is a fairly primitive instinct, rather than an enlightened one. As evidence of this is the fact that the more that society has become dumbed down and ignorant, the instinct to value females over males has only become more extreme and entrenched in more areas of society. If it really is such a noble instinct, it must surely enjoy the singular distinction of being the only such instinct to have become more common during what is clearly a period of terminal cultural decline.

Bruce Charlton said...

@M - I think you have somewhat misunderstood what is going on in modernity. The modern period in which women were regarded as 'superior to men' by mainstream secular Leftist culture is already past, and was never solid. Women have slid down the political correctness pecking order - surpassed by certain races and religions; and also by people with inverse sexual identities and impulses.

As many have noticed, the Left's supposed high valuation of women was mostly dishonest - since it never took account of what actually happened as a result of its pet policies - which is that women are subjectively (by self-report) and objectively (by observed behaviours) more miserable post-feminism than pre-feminism - and their life situations are on average lower.

I will not labour this point, by the typical (middle aged) woman has changed from being a wife with a family, to a never married or divorced middle manager - which doesn't look much like 'progress' to the impartial eye.

However, the Left is an intrinsically destructive project (i.e. destructive of The Good; whatever its adherents may suppose) and it *used* Feminism for as long as it was useful (and still does, intermittently) in order to destroy its most loathed targets - marriage, family, Christianity, and then all the major social functions such as law, science, medicine and so forth.

Clearly, this is evil and indefensible - but we should not confuse this situation with teh natural and good intrinsic nature of the complementarity of the sexes.

In this I am drawing upon perhaps the most deeply significant metaphysical clarification (as I regard it) of the Mormon restored theology:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/on-reality-of-complementarity-of-sexes.html

Misanthropist said...

I agree broadly with much of what you say. It is true that the Left's supposed championing of women was always strategic and dishonest. They ignore evidence such as that many women are simply not as career oriented as men, and are often unhappy in the new roles they have been thrust into. There are also things like the negative psychological consequences of delayed childbearing, infertility and contraception to consider. However, this is all a feature rather than a bug. Make women miserable pursuing this nonsense, and then tell them that all their problems are due to societal sexism and that they should vent all their anger at men. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Yet this is not really any different to every other designated PC victim group. The real aim is seldom genuine concern for said groups. They are usually simply a temporary cudgel to be utilised to destroy the existing order. But the championed groups are nearly always simply pawns in the game of the elites.

Yet the elites and cultural Marxists realised that women's general solipsism and feelings of superiority over men, and many men's acquiescence or open support of this, could be utilised as a vastly destructive force. This has been all too effective. As I have noted previously, feminism was always largely an elitist manipulation to undermine society and divide the sexes rather than a genuine grass roots movement. Women who go along with the agenda are useful idiots in the same way that those that supported communism in the belief that it would improve the lot of the workers were useful idiots for the elites. They obviously targeted women instead of men as they know women are far more susceptible to this kind of thing.

It is also true that when it comes to designated PC victim groups, women are increasingly trumped by other groups like racial minorities or homosexuals in the victimhood sweepstakes. Yet they are still held in much higher regard than heterosexual men.

Bruce Charlton said...

@M - Yes. I do not see any positive solution from a secular framework, however - only if based on a religion (and then the solution will be only as good as the religion).

Also, I regard it as counter-productive for men to complain (publicly, officially) about the situation. It seems to be one of those issues about which we should go no further than a refusal to lie and a simple statement of the truth - but no arguing, no proving by evidence. At least not in the public domain.

(There is something counter-productive about proving the obvious by evidence and argument - it seems to imply that if the evidence or argument are or can claimed to be erroneous, then the obvious is untrue.)

The current situation is the product of Leftist 'men' and those they have brainwashed - if Western 'men' are unhappy about their situation, then they will just have to stop inflicting it upon themselves. This would take approximately one month.

However, I don't (yet) see any evidence of the tide having turned - and the mass of men prefer nihilistic hedonic Leftism to any serious religion. So at present evidence and argument are going to be futile.

Misanthropist said...

I agree that there is not much to be gained by men complaining too much about the situation, or trying to turn men into another victim group. And because biases in favour of females and against males are deeply rooted in evolutionary psychology, there is a limit to how much these things can be changed through measures such as lobbying for legal and policy changes or trying to educate the brainwashed masses. Though there is a compelling need to reign in the worst excesses of all this in some areas, such as the erosion of due process rights in criminal proceedings.

"It seems to be one of those issues about which we should go no further than a refusal to lie and a simple statement of the truth"

I have found that to be the best approach. Whenever dealing with individuals that repeat feminist falsehoods, simply state the truth and do not validate the falsehoods. But there is little further to be gained by complaining about the situation or expecting others to be sympathetic.

Misanthropist said...

"(There is something counter-productive about proving the obvious by evidence and argument - it seems to imply that if the evidence or argument are or can claimed to be erroneous, then the obvious is untrue.)"

I often feel this way whenever someone meticulously points out how feminist claims about the 'wage gap' and discrimination have been disproved by economists.

It should be instinctively obvious that it will always be the case, in nearly all societies and periods of time, that men are judged more heavily according to their career prospects and success than women are (both by potential partners and wider society). Ergo, men will always have an incentive to make more effort to advance further in terms of income or status. To suggest that the over representation of men in higher paying or higher status occupations is somehow a reliable metric of gender inequality and pervasive male 'privilege' ought to be self-evidently ludicrous on its face.

There is something silly and demeaning about relying entirely on empirical evidence to disprove a claim that ought to be obviously laughable to anyone with an iota of common sense to begin with. As though it were an interesting hypothesis that just happens to have been disproved. The fact that there is plenty of empirical evidence to disprove it ought to be a secondary issue. The first response should be to ridicule the obviously silly premise of the claim.

NZT said...

Just watched this and agree with your excellent review. It's darkly amusing how subtly they slip that past the viewer: "it turns out the murdered men were mean to their wives, therefore those jerks deserved to be brutally slaughtered. No, we won't be notifying the police."

The whole thing is made even more absurd by the realization that at this time England was in fact being ruled by a woman, who was and is one of the most powerful and respected rulers in history. A woman who said this in 1870:

“I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women’s Rights’, with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to ‘unsex’ themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings, and would surely perish without male protection.”