Robin Hood And The Evils Of Taxation

April 1st, 2022 | JH

There’s a period of Disney movies made after Walt Disney died in the early 70’s, but before the Jeffrey Katzenberg-era of the Disney Renaissance of The Little Mermaid in 1989. Some refer to this as Disney’s Dark Age. They made a lot of movies that were a little more somber and edgier. The movies from this era have a unique look and feel to them that contrasts with much of the 90’s stuff that was more refined and calculated and corporate. I was born in the 1970’s so I’ve got an affinity for some of these feature films, and I’ve shared some of them with my own kids recently.

One that stands out for Poletical readers and comes highly recommended is 1973's Robin Hood. The main reason this film is good for children is that it provides emotional illustration for them to learn about the evils of taxation. There are many other good conservative life lessons as well… the corruption of authority, the righteousness of being an outlaw in a lawless land, the impact of malicious greed. Movies are a fundamental system for educating values into the hearts and minds of the viewer and Robin Hood has many conservative virtues throughout.

Prince John – Taxes! Taxes! Beautiful lovely taxes!

Hiss – Sire, you have an absolute skill for encouraging contributions from the poor!

The film opens with a scroll regarding the usurpation of the crown by evil Prince John. His brother King Richard has left for the Middle East on a Crusade (you’ll never see this as an explanation in a Disney movie again) and in the interim, Prince John rules with a corrupt iron fist. One of the conceits of the character is that the crown is too big for his head, so it’s always falling down on his ears or pressing his face or sitting lopsided. The message being that he isn’t fit to wear it, which is a good lesson for little ones. Just because you have power doesn’t mean you deserve it.  

The first big set piece of the film showcases Robin Hood (the fox) and Little John (the bear) dress up in disguise in order to loot the travelling king. They cross-dress as fortune tellers (for laughs mostly… no subtext in the modern sense whatsoever, this movie could be cancelled for this alone very soon) and play into Prince John’s ego in order to distract him from their robbery.

Robin and Little John are suave “devil-may-care” adventurers, and their charisma and earnest ease sells every scene they’re in. This contrasts with Prince John who displays a neurotic and insecure arrogance and bullying no matter the situation. It’s easy to identify the heroes with all the characteristics of goodness and the villains with all the characteristics of the opposite.

There are some scenes delightfully played out with lots of breathing room that modern animated films forgo. Robin and Maid Marian have a romantic moonlit walk for example and there’s an extended scene with kid characters getting their arrow out of the castle grounds. Nothing particularly political in this, but it’s nice to watch movies for children that aren’t relentlessly overstimulating them with a constant barrage of whiz-bang “keep them watching”, short-attention-span-grooming “entertainment”.

More politically explicit, the movie turns up the volume when Prince John gets bested during an archery competition and decides to go full tyrant in hopes of punishing the populace into fealty. Families and vulnerable characters have everything taken from them and are then arrested and put into debtor’s prison. This will likely unleash a lot of questions from kids as modern kids’ films don’t feature stuff like this. It’s also a good opportunity to educate kids about the motivations of the tyrant and how he uses power and wealth to oppress the populace and how taxation is a form of theft. Seeing previously introduced characters living in poverty and then revisiting them all later in the film while they’re in chains in the dungeons is a striking illustration of injustice.

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In one tear-inducing scene, Friar Tuck gets shaken down by the Sheriff of Nottingham for all the money the broken-down church has remaining. Upon realizing the desperation of the situation, one little church mouse donates her single copper coin to the church coffers only to see that it too gets confiscated by the authorities. We later see this contrasted with Prince John literally sleeping with bags of gold in his master bedroom. When Robin Hood and Little John launch their rescue mission, young eyes are primed for comeuppance.

There’s a socialist reading of Robin Hood that people like to use regarding “stealing from the rich and giving to the poor”. Better students of the subject matter know that “the rich” are corrupt members of the government, and the reason the poor are poor is because they live under the jackboot of a corrupt despot. Stealing from the rich is really, in this case, just stealing back the money the authorities stole from the common man. How these details ever got overlooked and appropriated by the left is baffling, but in this iteration of Robin Hood, there is no doubt as to who the bad guys are and why.

The movie wraps up rather abruptly with a jailbreak and lots of chasing. Ultimately King Richard returns and without much explanation realizes the score and sets things right. He arrests all the bad guys including his brother Prince John and puts them to work breaking rocks in an old school jail situation. He pardons Robin Hood and the heroes ride off into the sunset.

The overall understanding is that resistance is necessary for justice, but only upon the replacement of a higher just authority can regime change be affected. At no point is Robin Hood positioning himself to be a replacement for Prince John. His resistance is effectively as a guerilla warrior, gumming up the works of the system in service to the oppressed people living under it.

By wearing down the oppressive system, Robin Hood is able to create the conditions for order to be restored by a parallel power inside the regime. This is a good lesson for all dissident conservatives to learn and one that we saw demonstrated most recently in the form of the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.  

"Families and vulnerable characters have everything taken from them and are then arrested and put into debtor’s prison. "

Disney in recent years has a fifth column of the cult of woke toiling inside of it, trying to ingratiate progressive values into every project they make. By revisiting some of the old classics, we can introduce children to texts and subtexts that more accurately reflect conservative values. Revisiting 1973’s Robin Hood is well worth the journey.

*(I’d recommend this for kids over the age of 5 and under the age of 7. The story is complicated enough to warrant explanation by modern standards and the younger ones probably won’t follow it, but kids over 7 will be well past this level of viewing.)

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