September 21, 2007

"Eastern Promises" with Viggo Mortensen

Here's an excerpt from my review of the new film in the October 8, 2007 issue of The American Conservative:

"Eastern Promises," David Cronenberg's latest crime family thriller collaboration with Viggo Mortensen (the King in "The Return of the King"), is a sizable improvement over their last outing, 2005's "A History of Violence." It might be almost as preposterous as that critical favorite, but its less familiar setting amidst Russians in London makes it easier to enjoy than Cronenberg's clankingly inept vision of middle America.

"Eastern Promises" raises politically incorrect questions about why we would want so many newcomers that new ethnic mafias have become inevitable. Cronenberg explained to the New York Times his opposition to immigrants failing to assimilate:

"At its worst, it’s you come and you live there, but you live in a little ghetto of your own culture that you brought with you. I suppose that’s happening in the States with the Spanish language. Can multiculturalism really work?"

"Eastern Promises" asks whether the West needs, in particular, quite so many foreign pimps to lure blonde adolescents here from Eastern Europe with promises of singing jobs, only to rape them, hook them on heroin, and enslave them in brothels?

The October 8th issue, now available to electronic subscribers, also includes John Derbyshire's review of Steven Pinker's new book The Stuff of Thought, and lots of other good stuff from Andrew Bacevich, James Howard Kunstler, Fred Reed, Tom Piatak, Michael Brendan Dougherty, Daniel Larison, Philip Weiss, Pat Buchanan, Philip Giraldi, Daniel McCarthy, and more. Subscribe here.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"At its worst, it’s you come and you live there, but you live in a little ghetto of your own culture that you brought with you. I suppose that’s happening in the States with the Spanish language. Can multiculturalism really work?"

I don't see this as the worst outcome because at least then your ethnic group might still exist 50 to 100 years from now. If we actually allowed immigrants from all over the world, there might end up being some sort of balance of power between the various groups. What we do instead is bring so many people from one or two areas of the world that we are colonized. Then our insistence on giving the newcomers special treatment so that they never feel marginalized in their new country becomes our undoing. To the extent that established citizens will have their civil liberties stripped of them if they make the newcomers feel unwelcome in any way (including simply in the mind of the new immigrants), many of us will be edged out of the economy & even our own communities as we fail to be assimilated to the new cultures replacing our own. Why is this happening?

I say allow true multiculturalism so that my culture may at least continue to exist as one of many.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I listened to the interview on NPR's Freshair with David and Viggo. David makes the statement (maybe more than once) that what is going on in Russia today is in essence true/raw capitalism. I don't recall the exact wording but I got the sense that one aspect of the movie was to portray the "evils" of capitalism. Did you get any sense of that?

- Ethan

Bill said...

I'll probably go watch this, but Viggo's such a guiser. He's just another Danish pretty-boy, except he's a bit hairier, which makes him almost acceptable in a manly role.

Sometimes, it seems as though Viggo's climactic moments derive from his own self-awareness. This is comical, and it's why he's hard to take seriously.

But I'm curious... Is this movie portraying ethnic Russians as rapists of innocent blonde girls? This just isn't what's going on, I can assure you. The big Russian fighter types, the guys who escort the girls back from the bars in wealthy international centers of hedonism, are not sophisticated gangsters, but rather fellow-travellers with their prostitute peasant girlfriends from the dying towns created decades ago by Communist population transfer policy.

The big bosses I've seen were thuggish Asiatic types with fat gold chains and connections to FSU governments. The Russians were just along for the ride.

It was such a shame... These beautiful little girls, fresh out of the village with teenager legs and not a clue what they would do with their lives going to the hotel with greasy, piggish execs.

One time I said "hi" to one of the girls, because she looked nice and was about my age, but she just shot back "100 dollars." Rebuffed, I turned around and walked away. The next time I saw her she apologized, but what good does that do? It wasn't her fault after all -- it just made me feel worse about it.

I had a friend, Olga, who was involved in the business. We didn't talk about it, but I got the idea. She was a bit older than the other ones and really bright. She spoke English, Russian, Ukrainian, French and Chinese. Quite an impressive tally. We lived in the same neighborhood, and every now and then we'd have a drink together at the local bar. She opened a club called "Success" with her French-Jewish boyfriend, with whom she was enthralled, in partnership with some PLA officers. It really was a great success, until her boyfriend took the money and flew back to France, leaving her alone to face the wrath of her cheated business partners. It took her a long time to work that off. The situation was humiliating, so I just tried not to think about it.

But I'll never forget one night, when I was invited by Olga to go to one of their own Russian clubs where business was forgotten and they became kids again. There I was, in a dark room with those cheap disco lights flashing and cheaper Euro-pop throbbing in the background, and these gorgeous, leggy blondes danced with each other and their big, tough Russian boyfriends like they were back home again, with nothing to be ashamed of and nobody to impress.

Olga asked me if I liked any of the girls, but I just shook my head. It wouldn't have been right. They should have been back in the village, like the beautiful, long-legged girls I see east of here in the high desert, asking me if I want room for cream in my coffee when I stop in a diner. May God spare our girls from the same fate when we, too, hit on rough times.

Mark said...

I say allow true multiculturalism so that my culture may at least continue to exist as one of many.

Or how about reducing immigration so that our culture can continue to shape a political and cultural environment we prefer?

Thanks to immigration, that possibility is now very nearly out of reach.

Re: Cronenberg: What's comforting and amazing is that we're starting to actually see a handful of cultural figures on the left questioning the logic of high levels of immigration. Gore Vidal and Richard North Patterson among them. "Gods & Generals" director Ronald Maxwell has written eloquently on the subject, though he's not on the left. (He's even got a satirical movie about it, "Armada," in the works). In Britain, several Labour Party members and former Labour MPs have written on the subject.

Patterson's latest novel, "Exile," features terrorists who get into the US by crossing the Mexican border.

Gore Vidal had this to say:

“A characteristic of our present chaos is the dramatic migration of tribes. They are on the move from east to west, from south to north. Liberal tradition requires that borders must always be open to those in search of safety or even the pursuit of happiness. But now with so many millions of people on the move, even the great-hearted are becoming edgy. Norway is large enough and empty enough to take in 40 to 50 million homeless Bengalis. If the Norwegians say that, all in all, they would rather not take them in, is this to be considered racism? I think not. It is simply self-preservation, the first law of species.”

An interesting quote I came across: in 2000, the president of Bangladesh was asked how she expected her people to feed and clothe and shelter themselves in 2050, when the population will have doubled. This is what she said:

“We’ll send them to America. Globalisation will take that problem away, as you free up all factors of production, also labour. There’ll be free movement, country to country. Globalisation in its purest form should not have any boundaries, so small countries with big populations should be able to send population to countries with big boundaries and small populations.”

Can you imagine an entire population the size of the current Bangladesh (150 million people) living in the US? Some people already have, and are working towards it.

Mark said...

I got the sense that one aspect of the movie was to portray the "evils" of capitalism. Did you get any sense of that?

Raw capitalism doesn't have anything evil about it? Raw capitalism is what's driving our immigration mess - and Russia's.

SKT said...

I think sometimes you guys overanalyze stuff. This is a sweet movie about the Russian mafia, and I definitely want to go see it.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one that I know of had noticed a kind of allegory of the evils of capitalims in the Alien movie and perhaps the sequels.

The corporate weasel character who smuggles the aliens to Earth under the motive of profit makes a great GWB.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism?

Please. Gangsterism more like it. Russia has no rule of law, merely rule of thug. Which is why it's not capitalist like America or Australia where rule of law exists (mostly).

The reason for prostitution is lack of legal opportunities for women, constrained by thuggery.

SFG said...

Movies about the evils of capitalism go back a while. Heck, that's one of the subtexts of the The Godfather. Going back further the Bible did say the love of money was the root of all evil.

I actually think you could assimilate the newcomers, but not at the current rates. 2 Mexicans a year could be assimilated whereas 200 million could not; obviously there's a line somewhere (or at least a gray zone), and we have crossed it.

SKT said...

Actually, I take it back. I just went and saw it. I wouldn't recommend seeing this unless you like very explicit male on male nude wrestling scenes. O_O

Proofreader said...

Is it fair to portray the evils of foreign gangsters in the UK with Russians?
There´s a slim chance we´d get to see a Somalian or Pakistani maffia in film. That would be too racist,wouldn´t it? Although it would be closer to the truth on the ground.

On the other hand, "Russian" maffias are usually run by ethnic Azeris or Jews, not actual Russians.

TabooTruth said...

It was a very interesting movie, and brought up questions on different moral standards between the west and the rest. Some great violent scenes and a little confusing.

For more on how immigrants treat their women, check out NYT's article on honor killings.

Anonymous said...

bill: May God spare our girls from the same fate when we, too, hit on rough times.

Spengler, over at the Asia Times, wrote a rather controversial essay about this topic last November:

Jihadis and whores
Spengler
Nov 21, 2006
atimes.com

Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.

The French sold their women to the German occupiers in 1940, and the Germans and Japanese sold their women to the Americans after World War II. The women of the former Soviet Union are still selling themselves in huge numbers. Hundreds of thousands of female Ukrainian "tourists" entered Germany after the then-foreign minister Joschka Fischer loosened visa standards in 1999. That helps explain why Ukraine has the world's fastest rate of population decline. On a smaller scale, trafficking in Iranian women explains Iran's predicament...

Anonymous said...

I say allow true multiculturalism so that my culture may at least continue to exist as one of many.

With limp wrists like this out there, the revolution is assured.

Multiculturalism is a form of social warfare. Wake up, please. Asking the enemy for "true multiculturalism" is pure Stockholm Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, "Russian" maffias are usually run by ethnic Azeris or Jews, not actual Russians."

Hollywood has made some Jewish mob movies but, mysteriously, there usually is no overt identification of the characters as Jewish. Rent "Once Upon a Time in America" and notice the non-existent references to the ethnicity of the Jewish mobsters.

In the many Bugsy Siegel and Dutch Schultz films that have been made, Jewish ethnicity is either ignored or portrayed as an unusual exotic deviation from the Italian mafia norm. But, of course, Jewish mafia is the norm in the USA and around the world. The black markets in Russia and much of Europe have been controlled by Jewish organized crime for centuries. In oldtime gangster America, Murder Inc. represented the Jewish participation. In the modern era, Rabbis get busted for heroin trafficking in New York. But that is all beside the point.

The point is who has the power to prevent unflattering depictions of their ethnic group in the media.

Bill said...

Spengler, over at the Asia Times, wrote a rather controversial essay about this topic last November:

-anon


Yeah, I read that one. He has a point about how the vanquished pay a form of sexual tribute, but actually I think this is kind of a simplistic explanation for the phenomenon. We all know about the rampant prostitution in the American West when Americans were quite clearly winning on that front. And I don't know if anyone who hasn't seen it first hand can quite wrap their minds around this concept, but the Chinese use prostitution in an aggressive, almost warlike manner. Why aren't there any Manchus left to speak of? I don't want to be crude, so I'll leave it up to you to use your imagination.

Hollywood has made some Jewish mob movies but, mysteriously, there usually is no overt identification of the characters as Jewish. Rent "Once Upon a Time in America" and notice the non-existent references to the ethnicity of the Jewish mobsters.

-anon 2


I know it's popular to bring up the Jewish involvement in gangsterism, but Jews are seriously overrated in this endeavor. I mentioned Olga's boyfriend running off with the money. He was lucky. Without that French passport that boy would have been eaten alive, regardless of the fact that Olga never lost faith in him even when he left her out in the cold. Jews are smart, as is frequently pointed out here (but not as smart as some think), and they have a knack for splitting at the right moment, but when it comes to all-out war they usually get the worst of it.

The toughest, most ruthless SOBs I ran across were Asian cutthroats who would smile at a guy and then have him knifed in his bed that night. You know, the kind that turned Daniel Pearl over to his executioners. Personally, I think Pearl was an arrogant idiot. Who the hell did he think he was trolling alleys in Karachi and expecting his WSJ credentials to keep him safe? Even I knew better than that as a dumb, young cracker who almost got knifed for fighting in a bar on xizhimen nei (thank God the host recognized me and called off the dogs).