Fight the (Imaginary) Power

December 28, 2011

Multiple Pages
Fight the (Imaginary) Power

The more popular it is to worry over some organized threat, the less of a danger it likely is in reality. After all, if some group or institution was truly fearsome, most people would either be terrified into silence or admiration.

For example, Dan Brown made a fortune off his The Da Vinci Code pulp novel during this low ebb of the Catholic Church’s powers with a tale of how a nearly omnipotent Church conspires to cover up pagan feminism’s golden age.

However, actual pagans traditionally complained that Christianity was too female-friendly. But Brown is practically Edward Gibbon compared to his successor as a global publishing sensation, the late Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (or as it was originally titled in Sweden, Men Who Hate Women). Himself a hate-filled lefty nerd, Larsson concocted an elaborate fantasy world for true believers in the conventional wisdom.

“The more popular it is to worry over some organized threat, the less of a danger it likely is in reality.”

Although Larsson was a long-time supporter of the Communist Workers League, his politics seldom got in the way of his lust for Apple products. The Aspergery author penned such undying literary effusions as:

Unsurprisingly she set her sights on the best available alternative: the new Apple PowerBook G4/1.0 GHz in an aluminum case with a PowerPC 7451 processor with an AltiVec Velocity Engine, 960 MB RAM and a 60 GB hard drive.

You may have somehow garnered the impression that Sweden is a politically correct social democracy where the main problems women face (qua women) are oppression and rape at the hands of Muslim immigrants whose traditional misogyny is sometimes excused in the name of multicultural sensitivity. Otherwise, Scandinavia would appear to be a feminist utopia. As WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, currently appealing against extradition to Sweden on “sex-by-surprise” charges filed by two women scorned, has complained, “Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism.”

Nordic feminism has a thousand-year history since Leif Ericson’s half-sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir terrified the poor Skraelings in Vinland. And modern Sweden’s mild-mannered men are famous among the more aggressive sort of male tourists for their relative lack of apparent jealousy when their womenfolk amuse themselves by flirting with strangers.

But readers of Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, which has sold nearly 30 million books, know better. Larsson fearlessly exposed the true plagues menacing contemporary Sweden: rich Nazis, Christian male chauvinists, rapist legal officials, and two generations of billionaire serial killers—the first preying on Jewish women, the second on immigrant women.

Fortunately, two human beings dare stand up to this fascist tsunami engulfing Sweden. One is a middle-aged leftist journalist (in other words, Larsson’s sockpuppet). Although persecuted (and possessing no discernible personality), he’s still dynamite with the ladies.

The second is his young research assistant, Lisbeth Salander, who comes equipped with every add-on that turned on geeky former sci-fi fanzine editors such as Larsson in female fantasy figures back in the 1990s.

Think Trinity in The Matrix, but with even more attitude. Lisbeth has genius computer-hacking skills, a black wardrobe and a black motorcycle, hand-to-hand combat techniques that let her deal out cruel vengeance upon men twice her 100 pounds, piercings, a mohawk, and lesbianism (until she’s exposed to the journalist hero’s recessive charm).

But this isn’t the 1990s anymore, so the appeal of such dusty clichés has drifted up the age range.

Very few Americans go to subtitled foreign films anymore; thus, the Swedish adaptations of Larsson’s books were the three top foreign-language box-office films of 2010. I was at the local art-house cinema in 2010 when the third thriller debuted, and it looked like Twilight for the elderly. The lobby was jammed with shuffling octogenarians. The restroom lines were moving so slowly that I fear many Larsson fans may have missed their favorite sexual-torture and sadistic-revenge scenes.

Now, though, they can catch up because Hollywood has handed ace director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) somewhere between $90 and $125 million to remake The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

It still ends up looking much like the $13-million Swedish original: clammy and dank. Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, plays the Swedish reporter as if he researched his role by listening to a Prairie Home Companion debate over whether Swedes were even duller than Norwegians. (For some reason, he’s the only actor in the movie without a Swedish accent.) Starlet Rooney Mara, an offspring of the Rooney family who owns the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team and the Mara dynasty that founded the New York Giants, portrays the nerd-bait.

Despite Fincher’s expertise, his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo winds up being The Da Vinci Code of the 2010s, only with more anal rape.


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