Real America: 'Robin Hood' and 'Elm Street': Main Street Goes to the Movies

by Abe Sauer


It’s already summer movie season for Real America. This Friday marks the first of two spring weekends when America will be offered film remakes that are unusually prescient for Hollywood fare. These films will be blockbusters and, soon enough, the media will be knee-deep in meaning-searching. You should be ready. First up is the release of the re-booted Nightmare on Elm Street, which, as you should already know, tells the horrifying tale of teens haunted by a beyond-the-grave Freddy Krueger. In the 1984 original, Krueger was never openly called a “sex offender” or a “pedophile,” even though many understood this to be the case. While Slasher films have always spoken to teen sexuality (usually by punishing it), the original Elm Street didn’t go much further than most. Freddy was more overtly sexually threatening than, say, Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, but he never went beyond cackling a line like “I’m your new boyfriend.” Unsurprisingly, that’s all changed.

In these years of “To Catch a Predator” and an attorney general’s “wake-up call” to parents who do “not yet appreciate the scope, the nature and the import of this criminal activity and the threat it poses to our kids,” where every Boy Scout troopmaster, high-school teacher and priest is a sex pervert getting hard diddling himself while planning on just how he can defile your child, the new Elm Street has stronger ties to Freddy’s sex offender pedigree. That all begins with the casting of Jackie Earle Haley.

After his unforgettable (in the bad way) turn as Ronnie the child molester in Little Children, Haley’s casting as Freddy Krueger solidifies the actor as Hollywood’s chosen face of pedophilia and sexual depravity. Small, skinny, almost petite, with a pocked face that can seem almost rodent-like, Haley is every parents’ worst nightmare of a stranger in a van with candy. The remake features lines such as “Why are you screaming? I haven’t even cut you yet” and “Nobody can prove I was here.

Just as Elm Street rolls into theaters, California entertains a new law with a girl’s name. Chelsea’s Law, not to be confused with Megan’s Law or Jessica’s Law, is a “one strike” provision allowing prosecutors to, amongst other things, pursue a life sentence without parole for certain sex crimes against minors. Meanwhile, the froth is stirred by a relentless, near-daily media trudge on shows like Today, where questionable stats like “one in five” and “50,000” are used to rightfully scare the bejeesus out of every parent. Attempts at a more nuanced understanding of our national situation, such as Mark Bowen’s excellent Vanity Fair look into the conventional wisdom on sexual predators, largely goes ignored.

Nuanced approaches will certainly be out the window in the 30-second media ponderings given the time-lines of the latest Robin Hood film, due out two weeks after we revisit Elm Street. Indeed, after calling Robocop “American Jesus,” I am simply giddy in anticipation for what (Andrew Breitbart Presents) Big Hollywood will say!

Not since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Collateral Damage, a tale of a revenging fireman who lost his family to a terrorist attack (and which originally included a scene in which a plane is hijacked), was set to release around 9/11 has a film accidentally had worse (better?) timing with regard to a nation’s heightened rhetoric.

The wealth-redistributing tale of one socialist hero’s adventures will hit screens at the same time our nation begins the long six month slog to a general election sure to be dominated by Tea Party rhetoric the likes of which will make many of us wish for the low-volume days of 2009. Will the term “Robin Hood tax,” so popular now in Canada and the U.K., finally make its way to these shores?

Have we finally turned the corner where Robin Hood will be seen as the criminal socialist he is? Indeed, what Nottingham’s sheriff really needs in his battle with Sherwood’s merry men is some dedicated Teabaggers. Fret not fair merry-men, the official synopsis appears to have solved this quandary: “Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation…” Unsurprising, considering rumors that no less than five writers worked on the script, including one who rewrote during filming. This may be the only blockbuster this summer that features lengthy discussions of taxation.

So just maybe the good folks of Nottingham will fully understand what it means to be Taxed Enough Already and Robin Hood will experience a little right-wing revisionism, becoming a hero to the hard-working middle-class patriot wronged under the thumb of big government.

And we haven’t even started on the film’s sub-plot about invading foreigners threatening the good people’s way of life.

Noteworthy in the week between Elm Street and Robin Hood is the release of Casino Jack and the United States of Money, about (wishfully fictional) iconic lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Talk about timely. Of course, this film won’t do big box office, so who cares what it has to say, it can’t be too important.