“Honestly, it has to be the dumbest fucking thing I’ve seen ever. Literally ever.”
— Banter founder Ben Cohen in an e-mail he sent me just a few minutes ago
I know it seems like I’m going for the low-hanging fruit here by quoting my boss, but really there’s nothing I’ve read today that better sums up and puts a fine point on a subject. That subject, as it turns out, isn’t simply the latest entry in our ongoing “What Stupid Fucking Thing Did Salon Say Now?” series, it is, quite frankly, the dumbest thing the site has ever printed. In fact, it could very well be, as Ben alluded to, the dumbest fucking thing that’s ever been printed by anyone — period.
It’s the kind of thing that makes you not only want to burn Salon’s offices to the ground in the name of salvaging whatever’s left of the overall IQ of the United States but pull the plug on the entire internet, or maybe go back in time and smash the original Gutenberg printing press with a sledge hammer. I want to kill God for creating the species that created something like this.
The piece is called — I can’t believe I’m even typing this — “The Dangerous Transphobia of Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’.”
And no, I will not link to it.
I will, however, quote part of it:
(There is) darkness at the heart of Roald Dahl’s seemingly light-hearted children’s tale. With a spoonful of sugar comes a transphobic message about the dangers of straying from traditional gender roles, a conservative parable about the “right” and the “wrong” kinds of women…
“Matilda” is… a fable about the hubris of being transgender. Women should know their limitations and never imitate a man’s authority or physical prowess, lest he intervene to remind them who’s boss.
Many may have missed these politics, seeing little more than a playful, imaginative, and entertaining story about a smart girl who gets even. This subtlety is Dahl’s genius. By pulling at the strings of our unconscious prejudices, Dahl conjures in the reader a hatred for the enemy that is greater than the sum of her misdeeds.
One group of people will not miss Dahl’s underlying message, however. Little girls who love sports and not dresses, who are tall or muscular, who are boyish or even perhaps identify as boys, who long someday to possess authority. All of these children will see themselves in the Trunchbull, and they will watch closely as these aspects with which they identify are shamed.
This is not the message we want to send our children.
Now, I realize that it’s only been about three weeks since I last called a column at Salon the dumbest thing the site’s ever published — but that should really tell you something about the rapid decline of the once-laudable online magazine. At this point it’s simply impossible to draw any conclusion other than that the whole place was secretly bought by The Onion a year or so ago and everything we’ve seen since then has been an attempt to continually up the ante when it comes to satirizing impotent liberal outrage.
That has to be it. There’s no other rational explanation for this ridiculous column and all the others that have built up to it (as well as the ones which will undoubtedly go on to try to top it).
You know, actually, maybe this response to the piece, from its comment section, is the Quote of the Day:
Oh my god. Shut up. Seriously. Shut the fuck up. I’m a big supporter of equality and rights for all people, no matter how you identify. But shut the fucking fuck up. Point your finger at real causes. Stop getting falsely indignant at a beloved children’s story. You give the LGBTQ movement a terrible name, and you’re the kind of person that opponents can point to and say, “it doesn’t matter what we do, they’ll always find something to criticize, so how can we really take them seriously?”
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.