Coming to Terms with Kingsman: The Secret Service


Warning: You are entering a spoiler zone.

Over a month after its release, Kingsman: The Secret Service seems primed to exceed all pre-release expectations with a US Box office haul that has already exceeded $110 million not to mention healthy international returns (including, for reasons no one seems to understand, an already ardent cult following in South Korea). Even this week, Kingsman looks prepared to outpace more well-promoted vehicles featuring more notable stars, like the Will Smith vehicle Focus and the Hugh Jackman sci-fi dud Chappie.

A lot of digital ink has been spilled about the political messages of Kingsman – almost exclusively from liberals howling about the various ways in which their sacred oxen were gored by the movie. For instance, many have taken offense that the movie’s chief villain (played by the ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson sporting an absurd Mark Zuckerberg parody persona and a barely passable if not borderline insulting speech impediment) is a megalomaniac who wants to rid the world of almost all of its population due to concerns about global warming. Barack Obama’s head explodes during the course of a gleeful musical montage. The movie’s final scene (more on that later) is a calculated middle finger to modern feminism. All of these things have been analyzed and criticized to death by the American left.

More importantly, though, there’s been an almost complete absence of explicit praise from the movie on the right, which is because the movie isn’t conservative, at least in any meaningful sense. Kingsman is a delightfully and deliberately over-the-top romp that skewers everyone and everything in its path (including especially global warming alarmists) – a task that is somehow made all the more hilarious by the staid performance of Collin Firth as the film’s lead. However, the movie never questions the assumption that global warming is real or that it is caused by man, and it contains no conservative message, as such. It has, essentially, been mistakenly labeled as conservative by some for the same essential reason that South Park is often erroneously labeled as conservative – it depends for its success on a skillfully executed irreverence that catches in its scattershot both liberal and conservative sacred cows.

The fact that Hollywood is unable to appreciate the existence of a market that is desperately hungry for relatively even-handed irreverence is evidence of the fact that, largely, Hollywood is full of stupid people. Movies that make fun of Christianity, Republicans, anyone with the last name Bush, conservatives, tea partiers, gun owners and the like are easy and tired, and seldom draw anything other than Hollywood’s already-captive audience of self-important liberal arts majors. An entire segment of America sits dying for a movie that makes fun of global warming alarmists, Barack Obama, and feminists – for a director with the balls to tell feminists who were offended by his deliberately offensive final scene to, essentially, sod off.

The reason that Hollywood can’t deliver this product on anything approaching a semi-regular basis despite the obvious demand for it is actually very simple: liberals, unlike conservatives, are congenitally incapable of laughing at themselves. Liberals fancy themselves as the arbiters and purveyors of humor in America, but their humor is cheap and easy, turned outward at subjects that are the natural objects of their contempt, where sarcasm is a readily available weapon. Seldom if ever do liberal comics possess the skill as comedians to turn a sardonic eye towards their own excesses and follies, or those of their fellow ideological travelers. When those topics are at issue, they suddenly become a humorless grievance brigade, professing without irony genuine offense at the colorful explosion of Barack Obama’s head when they almost yesterday praised Harold and Kumar for portraying George W. Bush as a pot-smoking buffoon.

The truth is that the modern left is a target rich environment for the satirist and comic, both in terms of its personalities and the absurd beliefs and excesses of its adherents, as Kingsman showed, to great commercial success. The fact that Kingsman is such a rare feat in this regard, indicates that Hollywood simply isn’t very good at the true art of humor, even when huge piles of money are on the line.

For the most part, you can’t even pay Hollywood to laugh at liberals. Which is why, increasingly, America has stopped paying Hollywood for anything at all.