“A Stop At Willoughby” is a Twilight Zone episode from the early ’60’s. It is a sad, wistful piece about a man who is not long for the intense pressures of the modern world.
The show opens with a man named Gart Williams, a New Yorker working in advertising, getting yelled at by his fat boss for losing an important account. The boss tells him the business is “push, push, push” and he had better get with the program. He goes home, depressed, and is confronted with his cold, cruel gold-digging wife. She gives him no sympathy and refers to him as a latter-day Huckleberry Finn.
He goes back to work and the situation worsens with his boss. He has a breakdown at work and when he phones his wife, she leaves him cold with no compassion. She refuses to show any love or compassion to him after his begging.
All through out this he travels by train to and from work. He drifts off to sleep in the November snow showers and travels to a small, slow town in the 1880’s called Willoughby. It is quaint, slow-paced and free from all the pressures of the modern world. As the situation in his life worsens, he dreams even more of this world.
Eventually, he decides the next time he fantasises about Willoughby, “he will get off the train.” Indeed, in the last scene he does get off the train – to his death on the train tracks while shouting, “Willoughby!” The ending is ambiguous as to whether he intentionally committed suicide or did it his dream-like state. My theory is that the train symbolized life and his suicide show the unnatural nature of suicide. Anyway, as his body is hauled into the hearse, the door is closed and we see the name of the mortuary is “Willoughby & Sons.”
Here is the ending narration by Serling:
Willoughby? Maybe it’s wishful thinking nestled in a hidden part of a man’s mind, or maybe it’s the last stop in the vast design of things – or perhaps, for a man like Mr. Gart Williams, who climbed on a world that went by too fast, it’s a place around the bend where he could jump off. Willoughby? Whatever it is, it comes with sunlight and serenity, and is a part of The Twilight Zone.
The Narcissism Of Liberal Feminists
Consider a feminist-friendly review of the episode that frames perfectly why this man committed suicide and why feminists play a direct hand into it.
The author is Todd VanDerWerff. Clearly, a soft man divorced of masculinity, as he approvingly cites feminism & shows his anti-male bias in his review.
I want to talk about Todd’s approach to the main character of Gart and Gart’s wife. Todd seems to have trouble seeing Gart’s wife as a villain. He expressly states he has trouble with this and also doesn’t see her as oppressing him. He likes her “Huckleberry Finn” comment as it has a “stab of truth” to it. He sees her as somebody that is trying to get Gart to grow up and come into the modern world.
If that wasn’t sick enough, Todd dances around Gart’s suicide and why he does it. He talks about ambiguity and how we don’t know what was going through Gart’s mind when he jumped off the train. That much is true. The most compelling issue, to me as a human with compassion, is just why did he do it?
This is one of my sticking points with liberalism. They talk a big game of deconstruction, dismantling untoward power structures but they have little to say about how to reform the world. All the talk about striving for equality, decency & human rights is nothing but worthless pablum to paper over the supreme lack of positive solutions for the world.
Take the Sexual Revolution, liberals kicked off the reigns with no thought as the underlying psychology of America, the potential ramifications for sexuality & human relationships, much less the economic ramifications or the ramifications for children. We did it in the name of removing oppression & helping the kids. No, you did for yourselves and then used claims for compassion & equality to cover up your reckless & blatant selfishness.
We see this here in Todd’s piece. An episode like “A Stop At Willoughby” can be disconcerting to a liberal because of temporal issues. One idea I have yet to wrap my mind around is liberal obsession with temporal politics – i.e. the unending accusations of “being in the wrong time period,” “the time has passed for that idea,” or “that is not how the modern world works.” It sidesteps any real rebuttals while also playing up an appeal to authority – society doesn’t think that now, so it is inappropriate.
The problem with this analysis is that is completely ignores real male feelings about the world around them. Men are routinely exhorted to express their feelings so they can become humans, instead of the stoic, masculine zombies they pretend to be. However, when they do like Gart in this episode, they are told they need to grow up and become a real man. Todd approves of this analysis, as he probably sees Gart as some racist misogynist who pines away for a time when he was so privileged he didn’t have to think about the world around him.
I bang on about narcissism, but this a clear case of liberal narcissism. We are presented with a man who clearly is depressed with his life. His wife is a horrible person, but do liberals & feminists care? What matters is the maintaining the zeitgeist of subjecting white males to horrendous levels of criticism. Gart was a man distraught over the increasingly hectic & narcissistic workplace. His wife was a controlling bitch. What was his recourse? Real compassion for fellow humans cannot be constrained by the artifices of victim politics – either you empathize with somebody or you do not. The fact that people like Todd can feel so much sympathy for women in the past, but completely ignore male suffering strongly suggests somebody who doesn’t feel compassion at all, but understand the needs to show it off in order to get social approval.
A Stop At Disenchantment: The Social Retreating Of Men
One the reasons that men like Gart commit suicide is because of ignorant people like Todd VanDerWerff. Why is it so hard to sympathize with a man in psychological trouble? You would think the ideology that bangs on about mental health issues would be sensitive to needs of the clearly depressed? Wrong.
Part of the reason is the complete ignorance of psychology among liberals. I don’t give two squirts of piss whether white, heterosexual males have it so good in society. I don’t limit my feelings for others within some narcissistic, proscribed bounds. Healthy people do not do that. Either you feel for somebody or you don’t. You do it on the basis of their individual reality and how you relate to that. Gart’s seeing Willoughby as liberating & serene has to rub some liberals wrong. It suggests the world that has been constructed by liberals is deficient & hurts people. Todd criticized the past as being oppressive, but that criticism does nothing to alleviate Gart’s concerns. While the issue of whether Willoughby was just a mental mirage constructed by Gart or representative of America is an interesting one, it completely avoids the main issue:
Why are men like Gart so disaffected?
At the end of day, that is the troubling question that lingers in your mind after watching the episode. He clearly is a man with codependent qualities, as he spends much of his time fantasizing about a reality that does not belong to him. However, it is clear he is surrounded by unhealthy people: his narcissistic wife; his bellicose, domineering boss. He doesn’t seem to have a social support network.
Escaping into the fields of fantasy is the option he chooses. It isn’t a healthy one, but one that allows him to cope with a life that is completely depressing. The golden future of true love & career fulfillment that are supposed to be awaiting a man have never come to fruition. The reality is that most people never get there. It is intriguing that Gart works in advertising, as his industry has done much to fool men like Gart that the modern American way resulted in happiness & fulfillment.
While that is part of his disaffection, another key element is his wife. When Todd talked about not wanting to treat Gart’s wife as a villain, he provides a key insight into why men are retreating from society at large. Sensing their needs & desires are not treated as important and relevant, they get retreat into their own mind: sometimes via fantasies, sometimes via video games, etc.
It is the complete & utter inability of society at large to understand the ways women hurt men in relationships. Part of the reticence is the lingering idea that women are more moral & compassionate than men, so they are not likely to hurt men in relationships – so male needs go unnoticed and unattended as media caters to women.
Female domination of media also plays into this. Women are not going to tune into a TV show, magazine or blog if said outlet is about exposing female abuse of men. Sure, maybe – if it is framed in a narcissistic way – i.e. ‘I’m better than that bitch,’ etc. It cannot purely be about showing compassion towards a man by way of how a woman treats him. There has to be something plus – i.e. he is a closeted gay man who is verbally abused by his wife when she finds out, etc. Also, consider how women use media to taunt men and let men know women don’t need them anymore. How compassionate.
Men like Gart realize that society is not long for them unless they are confident, successful & attractive to women. If they are not, they had better be quiet about it otherwise they will be shamed back in silence so as to perpetuate female delusions about themselves & society. Omega losers like Todd VanDerWerff have a stake in this oppression, as they think they will finally get that elusive female sexual approval once “patriarchal” gender norms are dismantled. What fools like Todd don’t understand – and men like Gart do – is that all you have as a beta male or less is to completely submit to a female’s frame or get cruelly tossed aside. Either you kowtow to female narcissism & play the non-human in their life or get busy fucking off. Gart could not come to terms with it, so he commits suicide.
While the modern workforce plays a great role in this, yet what really hurt Gart was his wife. Gart was understandably upset with his work environment, but it was his wife’s coldness that did him in.
Our society teaches women to prioritize independence and not needing men. Men get the message that they are not relevant to a woman’s life. When they do consummate a union, there is always the lingering idea that she doesn’t need him – that his presence is voluntary on her part. What women are fleeing here is a real, substantive emotional connections with men. It isn’t men that are afraid of commitment – it is women. Remember, women were the originators of the idea the marriage is a trap.
What this results in for men who are trapped in a world that pretends they are the ones that fear and run from emotional commitment, while existing in a world in which they pursue commitment as a base impulse and women instinctively flee it. When they get commitment from women, their needs are treated as necessarily met. They are treated as assholes who need to not just grow up but to also step up their relational game, as men don’t meet their ladies’ needs.
Men should realize that society and relationships are just one, collective fantasy of women. This point will always be considered sexist & misogynistic precisely because it punctures female’s collective delusions about how they treat men. The increasing number of men like Gart in America does nothing to help women feel good about themselves, so they paint those men as hateful, troubled or ignore them outright. Just like that man who self-immolated on the steps of family court, he had to be relegated to the footnotes of American history lest women get their fantasies upset.
The sad ending to Gart’s life represented his only true act of personal autonomy – killing himself. Who cares about white privilege, etc. if you do not have autonomy over your life? Gart’s life bothers feminists because it strongly suggests men do not have power over their life and liberal society and women (sometimes) are the cause of it.
People do not die from suicide, they die from sadness.
Read More: Why The Past Is Best Left In The Past