The Fearful Cinematic Symmetry of Our Time

As the films The Great Escape, All the President’s Men, and The Hunt for Red October confirm, historical events translate to the screen with varying degrees of accuracy. Some films, on the other hand, seem to presage events and trends with surprising verisimilitude—what William Blake would call fearful symmetry. For our present age, consider for our first example, Being There, from 1979.

That film centers on President “Bobby” (Jack Warden) who leans so heavily on aging tycoon Benjamin Rand (Melvyn Douglas) that the dependence is dramatized by the president’s apparent sexual impotence. When the First Lady (Alice Hurson) wants to have sex, Bobby tells her “I just can’t.” The message is clear: the president is entirely the tool of Big Business.

Yet when Rand proves to be in failing health, the president turns to Chauncey Gardner (Peter Sellers), by pure chance a simple-minded resident of the Rand mansion and a man who, in fact, serves as the property’s gardener. The president quotes Chauncey on national television and the gardener is soon in high demand. The property’s  former maid, Louise (Ruth Attaway), sees him holding forth and is astounded.

“I raised that boy since he was the size of a pissant,” Louise says, “and I’ll say right now he never learned to read and write—no sir! Had no brains at all, was stuffed with rice pudding between the ears! Shortchanged by the Lord and dumb as a jackass and look at him now!” Nevertheless, Chauncey’s stature only grows, and that raises an issue after Rand dies.

As the pallbearers approach the mausoleum, Texas oil millionaire Charlie Bob Bennet says “It would be lunacy to support the president for another term.” Banker Lyman Murray agrees.

“Exactly, that’s why I agree with Ben’s final wishes, and I firmly believe, gentlemen, that if we want to retain the presidency, our one and only chance is Chauncey Gardner.” In 2024, the man in the White House is Joe Biden, who makes Chauncey Gardner look like a genuine sage. Even hagiographic hooey like Mark Bowden’s 2010 Atlantic profile outed Biden as a semi-literate plagiarist.

In his latest defiance of satire, Biden claims cannibals chowed down on his “uncle Bosie,” who was not shot down by enemy fire. For all but the willfully blind, Joe Biden is the demented puppet of a leftist-globalist-woke axis. Being There was on to something, but so was Dressed to Kill, from 1980.

In that film, Michael Caine plays Dr. Robert Elliot, who secretly wants to be a woman. The attractive Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) reminds him he’s a man, so “Bobby” carves her up with a razor.  High-class hooker Liz Blake (Nancy Allen), explains the dynamics to Kate’s son Peter, played by Keith Gordon.

“There’s some men and women who think they’re born in the wrong body,” Liz explains, “They’re called transsexuals. And all they want to do is have their sex changed.”

“How do you do that,” wonders Peter.

“Well, if you’re a man that wants to become a woman, you take female hormones.”

“What do they do?”

“Well, your skin softens, you grow breasts, and you don’t get hard anymore,” notes Liz, but there’s more to it. “Castration, plastic reconstruction, and the formation of an artificial vagina. A vaginoplasty, to those in the know.” Jump ahead to 2024 and what once seemed outrageous lunacy is now our waking reality.

The man born Richard Levine now serves as Joe Biden’s Assistant Secretary for Health and is called Admiral Rachel Levine. Admiral Levine, who bears some resemblance to “Bobby,” now recommends “gender affirming care” such as cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, and gender reassignment surgeries as medically necessary, safe, and effective for “trans and nonbinary youth.” Like Peter Miller, the kids might wonder what this is about.

According to Dr. Maddie Deutsch, University of California San Francisco medical director for transgender care, hormone therapy “will not necessarily bring about faster changes, but it could endanger your health.”  Some breast growth, and possibly reduced or absent fertility “are not reversible” and to complete the transformation requires surgery.

For the male-to-female (MTF) patient, surgical procedures may include: mammoplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, vaginoplasty, clitoroplasty, vulvoplasty, labiaplasty, urethroplasty, and prostatectomy.

A penectomy, “completely destroys the penis,” leaving no skin for a vaginoplasty. According to Oregon Health and Science University, the risks to vaginoplasty include vaginal stenosis, narrowing of the vaginal canal, and “a second surgery is often required to fix it.” There is also a chance of injuring the rectum,  and the possibility of fistula, a rare connection between body parts such as the vagina and rectum. “If you see fecal matter (poop) coming from the vagina,” OHSU explains, “you may have a fistula and should tell us right away.”

It remains unclear which of these mutilations Admiral Levine has endured, but Biden’s

Assistant Secretary for Health now certifies the lot as medically necessary, safe and effective for the kids. Liz Blake was on to something, and Ted Levine fleshes out what that drama would be in 1991’s Silence of the Lambs.

Levine plays Jame Gumb, also known as Buffalo Bill, and as Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) notes, “what a naughty boy he is.” He skins his female victims and leaves a death’s-head moth in their throats. “Why does he place them there, doctor?” the FBI’s  Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) wants to know.

“The significance of the moth is change,” Lector replies. “Caterpillar into chrysalis, or pupa, and from thence into beauty. Our Billy wants to change, too.” He kidnaps Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith) and forces Catherine to collaborate in her own mutilation. In similar style, Admiral Levine wants our submission to irreversible surgeries, and everybody must approve.

As Bruce Bawer explains, the trans movement is “a revolution against reality itself.” This ongoing nationwide horror show requires no suspension of disbelief, and many sequels are surely in the works. 

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