How Evil Nurse Ratched Became Little Miss Perfect

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, both as book (1962) and movie (1975), was a huge commercial and cultural success.  The central dramatic conflict pitted Randall McMurphy, a heroic rebel played in the movie by Jack Nicholson, against his nemesis, the cold-hearted bureaucrat Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher.

Not even the most marijuana-marinated hippie could miss the simple-minded duality presented in Ken Kesey's work.  Randall McMurphy is a charming, near-perfect free spirit who deserves our love and support.  On the other hand, Nurse Ratched is a mean, vicious, horrible person who should be hated by the entire human race.

Clearly, Nurse Ratched was intended to be the ultimate bad guy.  Sparknotes concluded,  "If McMurphy serves as a Christ figure, Nurse Ratched is the Antichrist.  She represents authority, conformity, bureaucracy, repression, evil, and death. ... Hoping to turn the men against McMurphy, she blames him for taking away the patients' privileges and cigarettes."  What a witch!

This kind of certainty does not permit subtleties.  Netflix in 1975 wants to know: "Is Nurse Ratched a sociopath?  The Netflix show perpetuates the original assumptions as it brings back one of cinema's most hated villains to our screens."

Nurse Ratched is a psychopath because she allows her aides to do anything they please but shows no remorse when patients are damaged by this indulgence.  Mainly, she torments McMurphy, everyone's favorite hero.

Only a few years later, however, everything changed abruptly.  Hardly a word was spoken, but the world turned upside down.  Liberals enthusiastically embraced a new reality.  The Nurse Ratched personality is — are you ready? — not just good, but perfect.

In the 1960s the American left still celebrated independent thinking, freedom, and nonconformity — i.e., people like Randall McMurphy.  By the late 1970s, however, the left consolidated its power and no longer welcomed misfits and outsiders.  Such people were now a threat to a monolithic leftist culture, where everyone must be politically correct and interchangeable.

Ponder this.  Every sort of behavior the left endlessly criticized the decade before quickly became the ideal personality. 

We see this transformation writ large in Nurse Ratched.  Throughout the Democrat party, she metastasized from evil to wonderful.  Lots of extreme, somewhat nerdy people have taken over, such as Elizabeth Warren, AOC and the Squad, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, et al.  Look at the preachy hacks on CNN, at the New York Times, at the AP, and all the rest.  Nurse Ratched is now the national poster psycho for these people.

We also see this reversal throughout public education.  America once celebrated literacy, critical thinking, knowledge, and facts.  No more.  Again there is a complete flip-flop from honoring serious academic content to promoting dumbed down indoctrination as the K–12 norm.

The left has momentum now and can say openly what the leaders want.  They used to have to hide their personal oddities and obsessions.  They might even have felt embarrassment.  Now they think they can grin and gloat on their way to ever more control.

Big Nurse and Big Brother are totalitarianism's Terrible Twins.  Both names project the evil discussed in George Orwell's novel 1984.  But we are supposed to love these monsters.

Make a list of every undesirable trait.  There is your Nurse Ratched in all her glory.  Democrats are meaner now.  They can let their inner Nurse Ratched run free.

Can a society based on lying survive?  Won't it always be a house divided against itself?  A lie here and a lie there — that's how you can have a total reversal from Nurse Ratched as the most evil thing in the world to Nurse Ratched as everybody's sweetheart.  Indifference to truth allows plasticity.

Probably the Democrats have gotten sloppy-drunk.  They got away with so much corruption, dishonesty, and malfeasance.  Now Nurse Ratched would advise you to make all the wrong choices in life.  Theories and methods that don't work are just what the hard left recommends.  Choosing sight-words as a proper reading instruction is like having Nurse Ratched as your spiritual leader.

The big shift circa 1980 occurred because Democrats knew they would become the party of totalitarianism.  All inside the group; no one outside the group.  The last thing totalitarians want is a bunch of rowdy rebels expressing their own private thoughts.

The deification of Nurse Ratched is half the story.  The other half is the uglification of the heroic rebel, Randall McMurphy.  This guy has been demoted to scum of the earth.  He needs to be hit with electroshock and a big dose of Thorazine.  Society doesn't need deplorable trash like that.

Last year, the Mayor of Seattle announced that the city would enjoy a Summer of Love, even as the reality was the stupidest violence and arson.  That mayor is the new Nurse Ratched.  Governor Cuomo abused women and allowed people to die unnecessarily in nursing homes.  Cuomo is the new Nurse Ratched.

Other than hungering for more power, the left seems devoted to loose standards so it can readily shift from Nurse Ratched as devil to Nurse Ratched as angel.  The left changes its positions opportunistically, willy-nilly. 

Pursuing power seems to be the only heartfelt goal in town.

Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is Saving K–12: What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?  Price deconstructs bogus theories and methods on his ed site, Improve-Education.org.

Image: ladyvee7110 via YouTube.

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