It may seem a curious choice, so soon after Ethan Coen’s all-star production, to do another film version of Macbeth — particularly one that appears to have been clumsily made on a shoestring budget (owing, as this paper has reported, to a money-laundering scheme by a Trump front group). But there’s one thing you can say for Ross Douthat’s Macbeth: Something Wokèd This Way Comes: It does take a definite point of view.
Credited as “based on a play by William Shakespeare” — but with a screenplay attributed to a dozen conservative journalists including Douthat, Rod Dreher, Dinesh D’Souza, Victor Davis Hanson, and Poopmouth — this Macbeth suggests that the main character’s famous decline is attributable, not to an innate human thirst for power or for violence, but to “wokeness,” notwithstanding the traditional medieval setting.
This is signaled from the beginning, when Douthat has the three witches wearing Birkenstocks, carrying feminist protest signs, and stirring a big pot of kombucha; and it is made painfully clear when Duncan, Malcolm and the other Scots praise Macbeth — played by Tyrus from “Gutfeld!” in a disengaged surfer-dude monotone — not for his achievements in battle against Macdonwald, but for “organizing the gayest woke army trans diversity fest in Scotland, woo woo!”
Similar liberties are taken with the script and story throughout. A witch cries, “When the cancel culture’s done/Sleepy Biden’s crackhead son”; Lady Macbeth insists upon being called “Doctor”; instead of killing Duncan and Banquo by daggering them or running them through with a sword, Macbeth “cancels” them with an ahistorical and apparently magic iPhone, whereupon they dematerialize and turn up in what looks like a prison camp labelled “Liberal Gulag.”
Nor are the main character’s famous speeches spared — one becomes “Is this a bulldagger I see before me” — and the reader may only imagine what is made of “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” As if to underline the gender binary theme, Malcolm, played by Kevin Sorbo, goes during the climactic battle among his men, who are wearing Crusader armor with giant codpieces, and exhorts them to “butch up for God, MAGA, and St. George.” When Macbeth is defeated they all party with bikini models to Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long.”
“I wanted to demonstrate what I’ve been saying about the failure of modern liberal Hollywood to grasp the true nature of evil,” said Douthat as he sipped a Brandy and Benedictine at a post-premiere press conference in a nearby rectory.
Douthat dismissed the complaints against the film lodged not only by critics but also by paying audience members who had pelted him with garbage as he left the premiere. “To me ‘technique’ and ‘professionalism’ are just liberal gatekeeping mechanisms to keep intellectuals and moralists from reaching the filmgoing public directly,” he said. “There’s no reason why you have to study film or work in film or know anything about film to make a film when the technology is available to anyone with a computer and large contributions from donors whose identities are constitutionally protected by Citizens United.”
Douthat also said he was not worried about the controversy over the film’s funding, and expected to make a handsome profit from bulk orders of the associated coffee-table book from Regnery. “Face it,” Douthat laughed, “movies make a little money on popcorn and rentals, but conservative groups will happily pay $90 a pop for giveaways to show their loyalty to the cause. That’s how you shake off the tyranny of so-called ‘artists’ in the culture business, and give power back to those to whom it rightfully belongs.”