Dressed to Kill in New York

My wife subscribes to a magazine, the very sight of which turns my stomach. She believes that it’s beneficial to have this reading matter around so we can know how the “non-deplorables” think. But as a retired college professor, I know whatever is to be known on this subject.

The unpalatable piece of mail that arrives to my disgust each month is called New York, and it is cram full of PC clichés. The lead tirade is usually from Jonathan Chait, who lately has been railing against the plutocrat and Putin-look-alike who is about to enter the White House. Chait is particularly annoyed that Trump is trying to “legitimate his power” by claiming to represent workers. Presumably denizens of the West Village and Reverend Al would do it better.  

A recent harangue in the magazine complained that “the Obama years have been too soft” in advancing a Counter-Culture agenda. Despite Obama’s efforts to move the culture toward the left through political means, we supposedly still “tolerate indiscriminate killings of black men and women by police officers,” allow women to have their buttocks pinched at work and do not punish white men sufficiently for speaking abusively about the transgendered. From the most recent issue I discovered that the government should be restructuring the economy to fit the needs of the LGBT community. I’m not sure what prescriptions the government should be following to please these grievance groups but I doubt their implementation would leave us with any recognizable economic freedoms.  

Hoping to get my mind off this stuff, I watched on HBO a stylish thriller from the year 1980, Dressed to Kill, starring Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson. For those who haven’t seen it, a synopsis may be in order. This movie deals with the murder of an unhappily married socialite, who is killed by a slasher as she is leaving the apartment of a lover she picked up the same day. As the plot thickens, it becomes increasingly apparent that the murderer was Angie Dickinson’s shrink, who is a conflicted and indeed psychotic bisexual. This bisexual is being torn apart as his male and female personalities clash. As the inner conflict intensifies, the killer’s female side drives him into murdering women to whom he’s erotically attracted. The slasher also turns out to be a cross-dresser, a situation that is intended to make him/her look even more sinister.

 Near the end of the movie a psychiatric colleague of the slasher discourses on the dangers of people who have trouble determining their gender identity. Needless to say, I couldn’t imagine a psychiatrist or even an establishment conservative making such a speech today. The same movie features a police chief who casually refers to women as “dames” and treats them in what would now be considered a gravely sexist manner. This too would elicit cries of indignation in our enlightened age, unless of course the one using derogatory language about “dames” was a designated minority. Then it would be ok, perhaps comparable to a Muslim beating his wife. But the police chief in the movie was an Italo-American and portrayed on the whole as a likeable chap. Contrary to what I read in New York, the cultural Left has been stunningly successful in getting people to talk the way it wants. Chalk that up as a victory for the sensitivity-police.

This movie caused me to reflect on how profoundly society has been reshaped (no, I don’t attribute this change to chance or spontaneity) since I was in college over fifty years ago. As later as 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president, a movie like “Dressed to Kill” sparked no controversy. It was not attacked by the LGBT community; nor were its actors blacklisted for denigrating an admirable “gender choice.” The idea that we should reconstruct our economy to please cross-dressers, the transgendered, or some other sexual outliers would have occasioned surprised amusement when I was still in my thirties or forties. Today it is a noteworthy topic of discussion; and the only way one is permitted to question the proposal is if one gushes with positive feeling toward the groups that we’re supposed to drool over.

I also noticed that the editors of New York never come across “illegals.” They only recognize “the undocumented,” who are invariably depicted as Christ-like.  Please note that as late as January 1996, in his State-of-the-Union address, Hillary’s hubby was considering the deportation not of the “undocumented” but of “illegals”? Also of interest: Union organizer Caesar Chavez was well-known during his lifetime as a rabid opponent of illegal immigration, but the movie recently made about him conveniently whites out his scathing views about illegals who compete for jobs with American farm workers. Perhaps Hollywood could reconstruct Dressed to Kill, to bring it into line with Jonathan Chait’s editorials. This, mind you, is only a suggestion from a caring-sharing senior citizen.               

My wife subscribes to a magazine, the very sight of which turns my stomach. She believes that it’s beneficial to have this reading matter around so we can know how the “non-deplorables” think. But as a retired college professor, I know whatever is to be known on this subject.

The unpalatable piece of mail that arrives to my disgust each month is called New York, and it is cram full of PC clichés. The lead tirade is usually from Jonathan Chait, who lately has been railing against the plutocrat and Putin-look-alike who is about to enter the White House. Chait is particularly annoyed that Trump is trying to “legitimate his power” by claiming to represent workers. Presumably denizens of the West Village and Reverend Al would do it better.  

A recent harangue in the magazine complained that “the Obama years have been too soft” in advancing a Counter-Culture agenda. Despite Obama’s efforts to move the culture toward the left through political means, we supposedly still “tolerate indiscriminate killings of black men and women by police officers,” allow women to have their buttocks pinched at work and do not punish white men sufficiently for speaking abusively about the transgendered. From the most recent issue I discovered that the government should be restructuring the economy to fit the needs of the LGBT community. I’m not sure what prescriptions the government should be following to please these grievance groups but I doubt their implementation would leave us with any recognizable economic freedoms.  

Hoping to get my mind off this stuff, I watched on HBO a stylish thriller from the year 1980, Dressed to Kill, starring Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson. For those who haven’t seen it, a synopsis may be in order. This movie deals with the murder of an unhappily married socialite, who is killed by a slasher as she is leaving the apartment of a lover she picked up the same day. As the plot thickens, it becomes increasingly apparent that the murderer was Angie Dickinson’s shrink, who is a conflicted and indeed psychotic bisexual. This bisexual is being torn apart as his male and female personalities clash. As the inner conflict intensifies, the killer’s female side drives him into murdering women to whom he’s erotically attracted. The slasher also turns out to be a cross-dresser, a situation that is intended to make him/her look even more sinister.

 Near the end of the movie a psychiatric colleague of the slasher discourses on the dangers of people who have trouble determining their gender identity. Needless to say, I couldn’t imagine a psychiatrist or even an establishment conservative making such a speech today. The same movie features a police chief who casually refers to women as “dames” and treats them in what would now be considered a gravely sexist manner. This too would elicit cries of indignation in our enlightened age, unless of course the one using derogatory language about “dames” was a designated minority. Then it would be ok, perhaps comparable to a Muslim beating his wife. But the police chief in the movie was an Italo-American and portrayed on the whole as a likeable chap. Contrary to what I read in New York, the cultural Left has been stunningly successful in getting people to talk the way it wants. Chalk that up as a victory for the sensitivity-police.

This movie caused me to reflect on how profoundly society has been reshaped (no, I don’t attribute this change to chance or spontaneity) since I was in college over fifty years ago. As later as 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president, a movie like “Dressed to Kill” sparked no controversy. It was not attacked by the LGBT community; nor were its actors blacklisted for denigrating an admirable “gender choice.” The idea that we should reconstruct our economy to please cross-dressers, the transgendered, or some other sexual outliers would have occasioned surprised amusement when I was still in my thirties or forties. Today it is a noteworthy topic of discussion; and the only way one is permitted to question the proposal is if one gushes with positive feeling toward the groups that we’re supposed to drool over.

I also noticed that the editors of New York never come across “illegals.” They only recognize “the undocumented,” who are invariably depicted as Christ-like.  Please note that as late as January 1996, in his State-of-the-Union address, Hillary’s hubby was considering the deportation not of the “undocumented” but of “illegals”? Also of interest: Union organizer Caesar Chavez was well-known during his lifetime as a rabid opponent of illegal immigration, but the movie recently made about him conveniently whites out his scathing views about illegals who compete for jobs with American farm workers. Perhaps Hollywood could reconstruct Dressed to Kill, to bring it into line with Jonathan Chait’s editorials. This, mind you, is only a suggestion from a caring-sharing senior citizen.