Flick Story

Watch ‘The Giver’ to Remind Yourself Why We’re Fighting

Opening on Friday, August 15.

By 8.13.14

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What do progressives want? If you want to know, to really see, then pack up the wife and kids and head to your local movie theater on August 15.

Based on the Lois Lowry novel, a new movie called The Giver is going to change the way people think about the nanny state. The movie is not some sort of right-wing propaganda film. In fact, it has such Hollywood heft as Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, Brenton Thwaites, and — a casting decision that will please my 15 year daughter Lucy — Taylor Swift. The novel’s author is, in fact, an Obama supporter.

So why do I say all conservatives should see it? Because it shows us what’s at stake.

The movie includes a totalitarian government like we’ve seen in The Hunger Games and Divergent, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these themes keep popping up under and administration that regularly erodes our liberties and targets its perceived enemies.

In The Giver, the government makes all decisions for its citizens — whom to marry, what to do, and where to live. People don’t fall in love and have kids. Rather, mates and children are assigned. Passion has been eradicated through daily injections that dull the “stirrings.” The world is predictable and plain — black and white actually, lest anyone stick out or be different. When everyone is the same, the government says, there is peace. When decisions are left up to the community, they reason, problems are avoided. The result is a place without joy, dancing, animals, or even pigment.

Rebecca Cusey sums it up best at the Federalist

Dissent is hushed away as distressingly impolite. Passion is outlawed. Even the idea of choice is an archaic concept. The state dictates your mate, your family, your career. Prefer loneliness or the life of a ne’er-do-well? Too bad. Not an option. For your own benefit, your future is determined. Music? Too emotionally liberating. Family? Irrational and unpredictable. Love? Too messy, too uncontrolled, as likely to end in murder as in bliss. After all, if the individual is allowed to choose, he or she might choose poorly.

I think I need to go throw up.

This movie, which I got to see in a special pre-screening, completely blew me away. Not just because it’s an amazing, edge-of-your-seat, well-acted blockbuster. Rather, it spoke to me because it elegantly — and horrifyingly — shows what happens when people trade freedom for security.

Though the movie is set in some unidentifiable “future,” this is an age-old conundrum.

How do you balance a community’s desire for safety and comfort with that burning passion for freedom?

Benjamin Franklin had a little something to say about that back during the Revolution. “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety,” he said, “deserve neither.” 

Conservatives, especially pro-life people of faith and liberty-loving tea partiers, will identify with certain elements of the movie. In fact, in a few moments, I had to remind myself that this film actually came out of Hollywood.

But here’s the truth. Liberty, life, and love are age-old concepts that weren’t extinguished when Obama took office. These ideas still reside in our hearts and minds. That a major Hollywood studio produced a film about their importance shows these values transcend politics. In fact, I wouldn’t even describe The Giver as political. It’s more about what it means to be a human and how we want our culture to be.

To all of my Tea Party friends, get to the movie theater to see why we’re fighting. 

As our liberty is gradually eroded, we are slumping toward the world of The Giver. Let’s have another revolution.

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About the Author
Mark Meckler is the president of Citizens for Self Governance, which created the Convention of States Project.