January 19, 2014

NYT: "Russians: Still the Go-To Bad Guys"

Movies these days tend to be extremely accurate visually about what the past looked like or would have looked like if people back then had more money and time to work on their looks (e.g., all the work put into, say, American Hustle to look like 1978-80).

But the kind of people who write about movies are generally pretty clueless about how people thought or behaved in the past. Cultural pundits today mostly absorb some generally acceptable lessons about the evil attitudes of the past and don't look for nuance.

Thus, from the New York Times:
Russians: Still the Go-To Bad Guys 
By STEVEN KURUTZ
THE movie “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which opens in theaters this weekend, revolves around an American C.I.A. analyst first introduced in Tom Clancy’s 1984 novel “The Hunt for Red October.” The source material isn’t the only thing that’s a little creaky. Ryan’s destination is Moscow, his target a Russian businessman plotting to crash the American economy through a terrorist attack. 
In portraying the diabolical oligarch Viktor Cherevin, Kenneth Branagh delivers his lines in the thick, menacingly slow accent that defines Eastern European baddies on screen: “You think this is game, Jack?” 
Nearly 25 years after the Berlin Wall fell and marked the end of the Cold War, Hollywood’s go-to villains remain Russians.

That assumes that Russians were the movies' go-to villains during the Cold War, which was hardly true. An obvious example is the James Bond movies, in which the novels' original bad guys, the Soviet SMERSH agency, were replaced by the nonideological for-profit multinational SPECTRE.

In general, Cold War movie bad guys were far more often the CIA, the oil companies, the military-industrial complex, the rich, and so forth and so on. (Among powerful American institutions, the Marine Corps and the FBI spent a lot of money and effort schmoozing Hollywood to keep from being portrayed badly.) Overall, the Soviets didn't figure much in American entertainment, and when they did, were usually seen as not the real problem.

The use of the Soviets as bad guys tended to be a 1980s idiosyncrasy of a handful of out-of-the-closet conservative action stars (e.g., Sylvester Stallone) or writer-directors (John Milius -- Red Dawn). Their anti-Communist movies were extremely controversial at the time since they were much more popular with the public than with the culturesphere.

In general, Hollywood saw the Nazis as having agency, while the Soviets did not. They were a mere unfortunate reaction to our own agency. That's not a wholly unreasonable interpretation of history, but you can see why it wasn't very stimulating for making movies, so there were few anti-Soviet movies.

Even then, it is difficult to recognize any sort of negative ethnic stereotyping of Russians of the type we see today. Throughout the Cold War, American culture producers tended to view Russians as a cultured people as seen in all the great Russian novels and plays of the pre-Communist era. Many of the Russians in the West during the Cold War were refugee aristocrats of impeccable manners: some became head waiters, others novelists (Nabokov). For example, Ensign Chekov on Star Trek was named to call to mind the great Russian playwright.

The current notion of Russians as flatheaded goons didn't exist in America before the Berlin Wall came down.

While Soviet government officials were seen as boring and badly dressed, Americans during the Cold War tended, if anything, to overrate Russian culture as more elegant than American culture. For example, the Bolshoi Ballet was hugely famous during the Cold War. Similarly, young Texan pianist Van Cliburn winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 was gigantically famous at the time. Russian figure skaters and gymnasts were highly admired. Even the U.S. victory over the Soviet ice hockey team at the 1980 Olympics was seen as bumptious upstarts somehow knocking off a team that was far more elegant than the brutal North American style.

At the upper end of Hollywood prestige, note Dr. Zhivago, the second biggest grossing movie of the 1960s, which depicts Russians as soulful, literary, and romantic but sadly victimized by Stalin. The movie ends with a travelog of a giant new Soviet hydroelectric dam showing the bad times are over and progress is being made.

The current stereotype associating Russians with organized crime simply didn't exist during the Cold War.
The last few years alone have seen a sadistic ex-K.G.B. agent (“The Avengers”), crooked Russian officials (“A Good Day to Die Hard”), Russian hit men (“The Tourist”), a Russian spy (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), a Russian-American loan shark (“Limitless”) and so many Russian gangsters they have displaced Italians as film’s favored thugs (“Jack Reacher,” “Safe,” “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” among others). 
I suspect screenwriters and studio executives have deemed Russians to be politically safe villains. No advocacy group will protest.

E.g., Steven Spielberg thought Hindus were a safe set of villains in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 30 years ago, but quickly discovered that he'd better go back to Nazis.
No foreign distribution deal will be nixed. Russian moviegoers here and abroad are probably inured to seeing themselves portrayed as Boris Badenovs on screen.

Russia is second only to China as a growth market for Hollywood movies. The movie industry is very concerned about Chinese sensitivities, so it would be interesting to see why it doesn't seem concerned about Russian sensitivities.
Why make a TV show about modern-day surveillance and wiretapping when you can do a Red-scare period piece and offend or provoke no one?
Still, it doesn’t make for as powerful drama as it once did.

If you grew up during the Cold War, you viewed Russians with a potent mix of hatred and fear, and felt in your gut that a nuclear war between our countries could erupt any second, obliterating everybody and everything. That’s why movies like “The Day After” and “Threads” were so visceral.

No, these were basically movies about how Ronald Reagan was going to blow up the world. It's funny how the gigantic Nuclear Freeze movement of the early 1980s is so forgotten that it doesn't even have its own Wikipedia page.
I doubt today’s teenage moviegoers are walking around with the same mixed-up feelings about the Russians. Ivan Drago, the Soviet-bred fighting machine who battled Rocky Balboa in 1985, may have been absurd but he was a fall guy for his time. Has our pop culture not moved beyond “Rocky IV”?  

Once again, Stallone was notoriously out of step with the rest of Hollywood in the 1980s by making anti-Communist movies, from which he made lots and lots of money, much as Mel Gibson made lots of money off the Mexican-American market with The Passion of the Christ. And don't forget that Rocky IV still ends with Rocky Balboa negotiating world peace with the young new Soviet premiere.

Now, in defense of post-Berlin Wall Hollywood screenwriters, let me point out that they were faster at sniffing out that something funny was going on in Yeltsin's new free market democracy than was, say, Stanley Fischer.
 

188 comments:

Dave Pinsen said...

An exception to what you describe was the TV series Amerika.

BTW, does Hollywood really need Branagh to play a Russian baddie? Are there no Russian actors?

Anonymous said...

I suspect that at least SOME of the anti-Russian sentiment and antipathy from Hollywood has more then a little to do with the fact that Jews run it and don't like Russians at all.

Anonymous said...

"While Soviets were seen as boring and badly dressed..."

Only in US Cold War propaganda. In reality and in most of the world's understanding, Americans were always and still are badly dressed. America is the world epicenter of "casual" clothing. Jeans, T-shirts with stuff written on them, sneakers, shorts on adults, sweat pants when not exercising - this is what "badly dressed" looks like today. This is how Americans look in the world's eyes. There was very little casual clothing in the Soviet Union. Women wore dresses. There was never a point in the entire history of Russia when Russians dressed worse than Americans. Not by a mile. Worse than the French or Italians - yes. Than Americans - only in Americans' imagination.

Anonymous said...

Currently on FX there is a show that depicts life from the perspective of communist spies. It is not at all negative.

Anonymous said...

And wherever you see badly (i.e. casually) dressed people in Europe or elsewhere, it is through the influence of American culture. America exports bad taste in clothing.

Anonymous said...

"Even the U.S. victory over the Soviet ice hockey team at the 1980 Olympics was seen as bumptious upstarts somehow knocking off a team that was far more elegant than the brutal North American style."

North American hockey was objectively more violent than Soviet hockey. There were no fist fights in Soviet hockey. And the play itself was less violent too.

"The current stereotype associating Russians with organized crime simply didn't exist during the Cold War."

There was no organized crime in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

And about the Bolshoi Theater, etc. That stuff didn't appear out of thin air. The post-WWII Soviet state supported high culture more than its Western rivals did.

Anonymous said...

I still can't get over the fact that Steve would imply that Americans were dressed better than Russians during the Cold War. Or before it or after it. It is so hilarious. The extent of self-delusion. From a guy who mocks others' (often real, yes) self-delusion. It's just funny.

Steve Sailer said...

Kennedy and Reagan dressed better than their Soviet counterparts, who were notorious for their unstylish suits.

Anonymous said...

in portraying the diabolical oligarch Viktor Cherevin,...

Is this character a Russian oligarch, or a Jewish-Russian oligarch? Three years ago Steve posted something on Amy Chua in which she said that only one of the big Russian oligarchs was actually Russian.

Anonymous said...

Steve, but Kennedy and Reagan were not representative of Americans at large. One was a rich playboy, another a pro actor. The average Soviet person dressed better. With better taste. What does it mean to dress badly in the modern world? Casual clothing. And that's an American specialty. America exports the mindset of not caring about how one looks. That mindset was absent in the Soviet Union. People cared a lot. And it showed.

Steve Sailer said...

Soviet officials dressed more poorly than James Bond, which contributed to their lack of movie glamor as bad guys.

Anonymous said...

Khrushchev was know as being sophisticated and stylish.

Steve, you're right the commies not being Hollywood villains. After some perfunctory anti-communism in the 50s, Hollywood moved back to Nazi's, Southern Racists, and generic villains by the early 60s. Case in point: The Bond Films. Dr. No was in league with the ChiComs, while Robert Show (from russia with love) was a Nasty commie killing machine who didn't know which wine to have with fish. With Goldfinger, the Russkie's were no longer Bad, it was Spectre "The international organization of Evil".

Prof. Woland said...

One of the things I liked about the original Star Trek was that it depicted a tri-polar power structure. I am sure that the writers patterned it somewhat on the pre-ww2 Nazi-Soviet-US / England other good guys model.

Anonymous said...

Even in "Russia with Love" the REAL bad guys were Specter Agents working for the KGB. The underlying theme -from then on - of Bond films was that the REAL villains were baddies trying to stir up trouble between East and West.

JWS said...

No doubt that the scary, competent Russian is a movie stereotype. For some reason the first one that comes to mind to me is "KGB" from Rounders, a Russian mobster who operated some sort of underground poker den in New York.

Movie bad guys are often preppy WASP types; think of Judge Smails in Caddyshack or the guy in Wedding Crashers.

The evil oil baron is also a common stock villain character, especially in mediocre movies. I remember seeing this in such diverse titles as Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator" and the 2011 Muppets movie. I saw the "Promised Land" on HBO last week and while it did not have a central villain character, it did feature some vaguely evil oil companies. Obviously, the archetype of this character is Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood) I've read the origin of this villain character arose from the aftermath of the Kennedy Assassination in Dallas, where many conspiracy theories implicated H.L. Hunt.

Secret cells of the CIA are big in the Bourne movies and also some the Jack Ryan books.

Of course, the types of people Hollywood chooses to demonize in movies often align with prominent targets of the mainstream media. Vladimir Putin, George W. Bush, ExxonMobil and the NSA all provide source material for screenwriters to build on to create the stock characters mentioned above.

RonMexico said...

"Even the U.S. victory over the Soviet ice hockey team at the 1980 Olympics was seen as bumptious upstarts somehow knocking off a team that was far more elegant than the brutal North American style."

The NHL had played the Super Series in the 70s against Soviet club teams and the Soviets routinely beat them, so that 80 Miracle on Ice was justifiably a total shocker. The NHLers tried to skate with the Soviets; a mistake. The Broad Street Bullies, 76 Flyers in this case, beat the shit out of the Soviets, which really shook them up. They didn't want to play the Flyers again. The Soviet style (European) is the preferred now in the NHL. Vladimir Konstantinov was a guy who could play both styles very effectively. We still revere Vladie here in Michigan.

Anonymous said...

What I find fascinating is the flip-flop in attitudes on Russia between the Right and Left in the USA. During the Cold War the Right was anti-Russian and basically ignored the enormous Soviet effort to defeat the Nazis.

The Left were more sympathetic which probably accounts for the theme of your post.

But since then, and especially since Putin, the Right, and I mean the traditional Right not the lefty neoconservatives, has begun to warm up to the Russians. I've even come across guys who now are interested in the Eastern Front and think the Russians are badasses.

The Left on the other hand hates,hates, hates the Russians

It's obviously ideology. But I even find myself doing it. As a kid I hated the Russkies and thought it was cool when I saw TV reports of Soviets being killed by the US supplied Mujahideen in the Stan. When I watched WW2 documentaries, I felt myself rooting for the Germans on the Eastern Front even though I knew they lost.

Now I feel embarrassed I ever felt that way.

Anonymous said...

There is a Wikipedia page for everything: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_freeze

Check out TV series "The Americans", which is a sort of Bond-negative about omnipotent Russian spies in Washington, DC.

"it would be interesting to see why it doesn't seem concerned about Russian sensitivities"

Because for the most part Russians simply don't care. They understand that it's just Hollywood. Hollywood would have to paint Russians the New Nazis burning, purely for fun, scores of innocent Afghan children in order for Russians to get offended.

Steve Sailer said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
There is a Wikipedia page for everything: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_freeze

But that URL redirects automatically to a Wikipedia page entitled "Nuclear Disarmament."

The Nuclear Freeze movement of the early 1980s was huge enough that it deserves its own Wikipedia page.

Anonymous said...

The average Soviet person dressed better. With better taste.

Judge for yourself. Some pictures from what appears to be mid-1980s:
http://skif-tag.livejournal.com/791874.html

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that Soviet officials as a group dressed badly. Khruschov did. And he's famous for building all those ugly, rectangular apartment houses. Nikita Khruschov had a poor aesthetic sense. But the leap from that to the average Soviet citizen having been badly-dressed is all propaganda and wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Kennedy and Reagan dressed better than their Soviet counterparts, who were notorious for their unstylish suits.

Kennedy and Reagan were metrosexuals, an exclusively Western if not American phenomenon. Yet their "badly-dressed" Soviet counterparts knew far more about chess, opera, ballet, symphonies, painting, and wine.

Anonymous said...

In general, Hollywood saw the Nazis as having agency, while the Soviets did not. They were a mere unfortunate reaction to our own agency. That's not a wholly unreasonable interpretation of history, but you can see why it wasn't very stimulating for making movies, so there were few anti-Soviet movies.

And the Nazis weren't a reaction to the Treaty of Versailles, and the completely hypocritical treatment of Germany and Austria by the winners of WWI?

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest villain characters of all time, Anton Chigurh from "No Country for Old Men" has a vaguely Slavic name.

Cormac McCarthy deliberately obfuscated this character's ethnic and national identity so as not to offend anyone. The movie producers used the same strategy; although some of the accomplices this character works with are Mexican drug runners and Javier Bardem is from Spain, he doesn't look or sound Mexican or Spanish in character. In the movie his accent sounds made-up.

I never saw "The Sum of All Fears" but the original bad guys the Tom Clancy novel were Arab nationalists, whom the producers must have thought were controversial targets because they changed them into neo-nazi fascists

Anonymous said...

Rambo and Red Dawn, in fact ANY Anti-communist movie from 1965-1992 was written off by the critics as disgusting Red Meat for mouth-breathing "Right-wing extremists". For example, "Deer Hunter" was denounced as "fascist" by Pauline Kael and others, for simply showing VC torture of Americans.

BTW, I can still remember Leslie Stahl talking about how "Scared" she was when Reagan made his "evil empire" speech. She reached out and touched another women journalist - for comfort - as they both cowered in fear at Ronnie's desire to blow up the world.

Anonymous said...

"...the original Star Trek was that it depicted a tri-polar power structure..."


Despite whatever the original intent of the writers, it was the US as the Federation, the Soviets (or maybe Russians) as the bear-like Klingons, and the Chinese as the mysterious Romulans.

It's easy to forget how mysterious and closed China was back during the era of the original Star Trek. It really was an unknown in a tripolar world.

Anonymous said...

Despite whatever the original intent of the writers, it was the US as the Federation, the Soviets (or maybe Russians) as the bear-like Klingons, and the Chinese as the mysterious Romulans.

Oddly, the makeup/prosthetics for the character of Beorn, a shapeshifting bear-man, in the latest Hobbit movie, bear (no pun intended) some resemblance to the original Klingon makeup.

Anonymous said...

Canadians are incredibly polite, yet their national pastime is super violent. Russians are tough, with lots of rough edges, yet the Soviet version of hockey was far less violent than the Canadian original. Why?

There's money to be made from gory spectacle. Bum fights, etc. Most people will tell you that it's exploitative and immoral to make money in this way, but a lot of them consume such entertainment anyway.

In the Soviet Union most exploitative ways of making money were prohibited. Gambling, lending money on interest, advertising, petty scams (you won a million dollars! Claim it now!), deceptively complicated marketing schemes - all of that was against the law and actually absent. You never saw it. The bum fights aspect of sports fell under that category.

Anonymous said...

The movie producers used the same strategy; although some of the accomplices this character works with are Mexican drug runners and Javier Bardem is from Spain, he doesn't look or sound Mexican or Spanish in character. In the movie his accent sounds made-up.

Bardem looks more Mexican than Spanish. It was the haircut and accent that made him look out of place.

Anonymous said...

Using the Bond series as a Cold War prism is interesting:

1. DR NO (1962): The villains are the non-ideological SPECTRE.

2. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) :SPECTRE again.

3. GOLDFINGER (1964) : Western capitalist working with the "Red" Chinse.

4. THUNDERBALL (1965): SPECTRE again.

5.YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967)
: SPECTRE

6. ON HER MAJESTTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969): SPECTRE

7. DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971): SPECTRE (their last go around; after this, legal wrangling would keep Blofelt and SPECTRE from showing up in "official" Bond films).

8. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE(1973): First Roger Moore Bond. Bond jumps on the Blaxploitation bandwagon and takes on Black drug smugglers. In the original novel, they worked with the KGB, but this angle was dropped in the film.

9. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974): Mishmash of Asian tycoons and a Western assassin (played by old pro Christopher Lee).

10. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977): Villain is a Western industrialist.

11. MOONRAKER (1979): Villain is a Western industrialist.

12. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981):Villains are the Soviet Bloc and their Greek operative.

13. OCTOPUSSY (1983): Villain is a rogue Soviet general and his "exiled Afghan prince" operative.

14. A VIEW TO A KILL (1985): Villain is a KGB operative who goes out on his own.

15. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987):First Dalton Bond. Renegade Soviet general working an American arms dealer.

16. LICENCE TO KILL (1989): Bond goes up against Latin american drug dealers.

So, looking back on it, it isn't until the 1980s that the Soviets/Communists become key players in the Bond series. Even then, however, they only function as the actual villains in a single film (FOR YOUR EYES ONLY). In the others, the Soviet villains are operating on their own.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Kennedy and Reagan were metrosexuals, an exclusively Western if not American phenomenon. Yet their "badly-dressed" Soviet counterparts knew far more about chess, opera, ballet, symphonies, painting, and wine."

Methinks that you are vastly overestimating Krushchev and Brezhnev.

agnostic said...

In 1983, the #5 movie at the box office was about an American high school hacker almost accidentally setting off World War II, all because he thought he was just playing a video game after hacking into a supercomputer of the US military.

The #5 movie in '81 was about a rag-tag bunch of mud-wrastlin' aficinados getting some "Arrrrrrmy training sir!" What nearly sets off a conflict between East and West is an arrogant bumbling American Captain accidentally leading his platoon across the Czechoslovakian border.

Two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the #15 movie shows a technological malfunction leading an American warplane to continue toward a Soviet target after the others had been called off in the nick of time, ultimately starting WWIII.

Anonymous said...

Another example of Hollywood's avoidance of the Cold War comes from the 60s spy show THE MAN FROM UNCLE. As with the 60s Bond, it elided the Cold War with the Soviets by using a non-ideological substitute, THRUSH (a SPECTRE-style organization). Further removing the series from Cold War realities was the way in which the showed depicted UNCLE employing a Soviet operative (Illya Kuryakin)in their war against THRUSH.Hence, in THE MAN FROM UNCLE, it was not East vs West; it was East and West against a common enemy.

Anonymous said...

Your accurate account of Hollywood villains seems to be incompatible with the theory--which may or may not hold water--sometimes posited here: that the post-war USSR was more conservative or traditional than the post-sixties USA.

After all, if the post-war Soviet Union was more conservative than post-sixties America, you would think that ultra-liberal Hollywood would have portrayed it as more sinister than it actually did.

wiseguy

jody said...

"Movies these days tend to be extremely accurate visually"

you mean like all these shows and movies about ancient europe, where every person is good looking, has great teeth, clean skin, a full head of hair in middle age, and all the medical and dental benefits of a 21st century society? yeah, they are extremely accurate visually. those veneers and hair transplants are technologically accurate for ancient rome.

i'm just kidding with ya steve, i do agree that movie and show production has improved and they get the look and feel and tech of the period pretty close now. except for the actors. here, we're going in reverse. in the movie industry of the real 1978, there were lots of ugly or odd looking actors who would have fit right into year 1300 europe, but the set production was clearly straight out of 1978 and hokey and fake.

today they get the sets, clothes, props, lingustic accents, music, and cultural references pretty much period correct, but totally blow it by casting the beautiful people in every movie or show.

also i didn't watch 12 years a slave, but isn't solomon northup supposed to be from new york? so why does he have a southern accent in the movie? seems like a major screw up, unless there's a reason for it explained in the film.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"The average Soviet person dressed better. With better taste."

Not based on any footage that I have ever seen.Looking through google images from the 1918-1984 period, the overall impression is one of unbelievable drabness.

Anonymous:" What does it mean to dress badly in the modern world? Casual clothing."


I'm afraid that you have confused dressing badly with dressing casually. the two are not synonymous. One can dress casually but elegantly. Conversely, one can be badly dressed in formal attire.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. As you noted, Steve, some of the most anti-Soviet films from the 1980s came from conservative leaning figures like Stallone and Milius. Another figure to add to that duo would be Clint Eastwood. His FIREFOX (1982)was quite hard-hitting in its portrayal of the USSR.

Harry Baldwin said...

The notion of Russians as flatheaded goons didn't exist in America before the Berlin Wall came down.

On the other hand, Russian women used to be stereotyped as fat proles in babushkas, as in the
1980s Wendy's commercial. Now they're stereotyped as hot strippers and models.

Like Steve, I recall that the Russians were rarely portrayed unsympathetically in movies or television in the 1960s through 1980s. When they showed "Amerika," my local station bookended it with a panel of lefties critiquing it. (They didn't feel the need to bookend "Roots" with a panel from the Council of Conservative Citizens.)

I also noticed when newscasters like Peter Jennings and Dan Rather had to pretend they were anti-communist all along after the Berlin Wall fell.

Anonymous said...

Libs went relatively easy on Russians because they hated homegrown anti-communist right esp after McCarthyism.

Also, Vietnam War made many Americans more anti-war than patriotic.

RUSSIANS ARE COMING, RUSSIANS ARE COMING

PRESIDENT'S ANALYST. Lovable Russian spy.

DR. STRANGELOVE, FAIL SAFE, SEVEN DAYS IN MAY have US triggering nuclear crisis--even after the crisis with Soviets putting missiles in Cuba.

ONE TWO THREE. Russians as bumbling clowns.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4RMwEYrOE8

GORKY PARK has some bad Russians, but the hero is a good Russian and the ultimate bad guy is Lee Marvin the American.

But there was a change of tone in the 80s and not just from the likes of Stallone. Jews had come to see the USSR as anti-zionist and anti-Jewish, and even the Jewish left dropped communism.
So, movies like WHITE NIGHTS showed Russia in a bad light. And asylum seekers like Baryshnikov and others gave the impression that Russia was hell for artists and freedom lovers.

------

But it must also be said that many WWII films weren't hostile to Germans as a people and even presented German soldiers as men of honor in their own right: ENEMY BELOW, YOUNG LIONS, PATTON, etc.

DIRTY DOZEN was the one that began to change the tone, but it was really the HOLOCAUST TV series that changed Germans from mere enemies or bad guys to EVIL GUYS WHO SHOULD BE GROUND TO DUST WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE.

Even in the 70s, films like BRIDGE TOO FAR, KELLY'S HEROES, and THE EAGLE HAS LANDED didn't present Germans as total enemies. And TV show like HOGAN'S HEROES made people laugh at Germans.









Anonymous said...

Stalin, Khruschov and Brezhnev used the Soviet state's resources to promote high culture while this culture was being destroyed in the West. To what extent were Stalin, Khruschov and Brezhnev cultured themselves?

Not to a very large one. Stalin's father was an alcoholic cobbler, Khruschov's a peasant and Brezhnev's a metal worker. This showed. None of them had any sort of cultural polish. They respected culture, but were not aesthetes or intellectuals.

Lenin, Bukharin and a lot of other Old Bolsheviks were culturally middle class (in a sense that's closer to the modern British than to the modern American one). Many Old Bolshevik leaders WERE intellectuals. They were also scum of course. Stalin was an actual proletarian, so it's fitting that he was the one who ended real Communism in Russia. The leaders of Communism-in-name-only that followed him were also honest-to-goodness proletarians.

Anonymous said...

"Only in US Cold War propaganda. In reality and in most of the world's understanding, Americans were always and still are badly dressed. America is the world epicenter of "casual" clothing. Jeans, T-shirts with stuff written on them, sneakers, shorts on adults, sweat pants when not exercising - this is what "badly dressed" looks like today. This is how Americans look in the world's eyes. There was very little casual clothing in the Soviet Union. Women wore dresses."

You're missing the point. Americans chose to dress casually or 'badly' out of personal choice or as fashion statement(esp with rise of youth culture)and out of abundance. Even 'bad dressing' in America had fashion codes.

Russians dressed more soberly and traditionally but the quality and the cut of their fabrics were poor, and Russians owned far less clothes than Americans did. So, their clothes were more worn.
Russian dress code was 'need and functionality' with little other consideration.

Russians didn't have a choice.
I knew a bunch of Russian emigre kids in the late 70s and early 80s. They were dressed like drably.
Rather nastily, a lot of us in class voted for this Russian kid as 'best dressed' for 8th grade as a joke.

Btw, aren't you the clown who praises East German cameras and Soviet era toilet tissues?

Get a life.

Marissa said...

Russians are the bad guys in Gravity too (technically). I was intrigued at that choice.

Anonymous said...

Russians as the bad guys come from the jewish antipathy toward Russians., the same as the diabolization of France in the last 10 years.

Anonymous said...

"Not based on any footage that I have ever seen.Looking through google images from the 1918-1984 period, the overall impression is one of unbelievable drabness. "

Yes, drabness is what the world associates with American style. Projecting that on the USSR, a rival at the time, was just propaganda mixed with understandable embarrassment.

Casual clothing is just a part of it. Paper plates and cups instead of china, painting the walls white instead of using wall paper, genre movies instead of realistic ones, genre fiction instead of literary fiction, the whole fast food experience - all of this is typically American. The USSR was on the less drab side of all of these contrasts.

Auntie Analogue said...


Hollywood today steers well clear of portraying Moslems in any negative or even hinted-at-negative way. To do otherwise would be "racist" or "Islamophobic." So we see that Hollywood's sneering contempt for knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing Americans who opposed Communism has merely shifted to Americans who find Islam and its effects to be contemptible and who know that importing Moslems is never going to work out well.

The Cold War saw Hollywood's liberals engage in an ecstasy of Chicken Little the-sky-is-falling "cautionary tales." Many episodes of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, loads of sci-fi nuke-scare movies such as 'Them,' plus the spate of one-of-our-guys-gone-rogue or our-systems-aren't-perfect flicks such as 'Fail-Safe,' 'Seven Days In May,' and 'The Bedford Incident' were all hand-wringers over the global incineration followed by nuclear winter that liberals feared and expected to come of the Atomic Age. Liberal Hollywood always laid the blame for its cinematic apocalypses on rogue or doctrinaire "right-wing" Americans, never on the Soviets. Of course the apogee of liberal hand-wringing nuke dread was Kubrick's 'Dr. Strangelove.'

I grew up in the 1950's-1960's and I never hated, but always suspected, the Russians, and I never lived in anything like liberals' constant dread of nuclear Armageddon. As I recall, except for the fortnight, or so, of the Cuban Missile Crisis, most Americans did not subscribe to liberal knee-knocking over the possibility of nuclear war.

Soviet Russia's clothing was stodgy and what the average Russian wore was shoddily made - after all, they'd either imprisoned or chased out all the superb Jewish tailors!

Anonymous said...

"Hollywood today steers well clear of portraying Moslems in any negative or even hinted-at-negative way."

TAKEN?

TV anti-terrorist shows?

ZERO DARK THIRTY(even if not blatantly anti-Muslim)

All those superhero and sci-fi films that blow up the middle east real good?

Anonymous said...

What really stood out about RAMBO and RED DAWN--as well as Spielberg's films--and others like them wasn't so much the anti-Russian-ness per se as the sheer level of lunacy, fantasy, and over-the-top violence.

They were part of the blockbuster craze of filmmaking ushered in by as JAWS. They made DIRTY HARRY seem downright sober in comparison.

They turned history and politics into a comic book joke(not much different from the mentality behind ANIMAL HOUSE, STRIPES, and 1941).

It was so much a formula, movies as soda pop and sugar highs.

Their main offense was not politics but childish stupidity that reduced everything down to the level of MTV music videos.

Keep in mind many people in Hollywood didn't like Spielberg and Lucas either. Them two were accused of having dumbed down culture and turning young audiences into junkies of movies as rock shows.

Anonymous said...

"the quality and the cut of their fabrics were poor"

Not true.

"Russian dress code was 'need and functionality' with little other consideration. "

Not true.

"and Russians owned far less clothes than Americans did".

True. Russians owned fewer clothes, but they were in better taste. The quality was higher than what you see in modern Asian-made clothes. The colors weren't as likely to wash off, the seams weren't as likely to come apart, the materials looked and felt better.

Anonymous said...

You're missing the point. Americans chose to dress casually or 'badly' out of personal choice or as fashion statement(esp with rise of youth culture)and out of abundance. Even 'bad dressing' in America had fashion codes.

Russians dressed more soberly and traditionally but the quality and the cut of their fabrics were poor, and Russians owned far less clothes than Americans did. So, their clothes were more worn.
Russian dress code was 'need and functionality' with little other consideration.


This reminds me of an issue of (I think) national Geographic from the mid-80s, with the theme youth all over the world. Teenage Russian girls wearing classy but frayed dresses and skirt-based school uniforms vs. the spiffy designer jeans of American valley girls. There was even a picture of Albanian peasants in ill-fitting three-piece suits that might as well be made of army-green burlap. And bow ties too, of course.

Anonymous said...

What really stood out about RAMBO and RED DAWN--as well as Spielberg's films--and others like them wasn't so much the anti-Russian-ness per se as the sheer level of lunacy, fantasy, and over-the-top violence.

Name me one Spielberg film even remotely anti-Russian and/or anti-communist.

Anonymous said...

MISSION TO MOSCOW a totally vile and venal movie by the man who made MISSION TO MOSCOW.

Beatty's REDS is a pernicious work that presents the Russian Revolution as 'Annie Hall and Shampoo go radical'. Not without some good things but a very dishonest and narcissistic film.

"You're so vain...."

Auntie Analogue said...


Yes, Anonymous 9:28, Hollywood steers clear of negative portrayals of Moslems - and of Islam. I meant and I mean Moslems, not the so-called "Islamists" that our Diversity Commissariat and Enemedia-Pravda prattle on about and depict in film fiction, as if Islam itself is somehow an unalloyed good (hey, it's one of the "Abrahamic religions," don'tcha know!) that brings life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and ever-advancing knowledge to the benefit of human beings.

Anonymous said...

"Name me one Spielberg film even remotely anti-Russian and/or anti-communist."

I didn't mean that he made anti-Russian films in the 80s. I meant the sensibility behind his films shared the same blockbuster mentality as that of films like RAMBO and CONAN though Spielberg did it infinitely better.
And they were ludicrous. I was offended by RAMBO and RED DAWN because they were so preposterous(even on their own terms) and mindless.

That American conservatives ate that junk up was a troubling sign of how stupid and childish conservatism was becoming, therefore easy to manipulate into supporting more wars in the future. Not that new libs are any better. The cult of Obama, WWG over pussy riot, the fanatical support of Israel and endless applause of Netanhayu in Congress, the hypocritical strangulation of Iran, crazy war with Iraq, the pointless attack on Libya, etc.

RAMBO or MTV, they are propaganda to make us think less and mindlessly bark and obey like dogs.

-----

CRYSTAL SKULL had bad Soviets.

I thought SCHINDLER'S LIST pulled a fast one against the Soviets at the end. We see a Soviet officer arriving at the death camp AFTER the Nazis had fled and saying "We come to liberate you" or some such. The impression one gets is that Russians didn't do diddly squat and arrived rather lazily after the event. But in fact, USSR did the most and lost the most men in the war.

When the Russian officer said that, there were snickers in the theater and one guy yelled out sarcastically, "yeah right!"

If Jewish Spielberg feels so little gratitude to the Russians, I wonder how he really feels about American goys who fought in WWII.

Anonymous said...

as if Islam itself is somehow an unalloyed good (hey, it's one of the "Abrahamic religions," don'tcha know!) that brings life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and ever-advancing knowledge to the benefit of human beings.

That was also the attitude of Western conservatives towards Islam in the Cold War days, except for a brief chill in 1979.

Anonymous said...

MISSION TO MOSCOW a totally vile and venal movie by the man who made CASABLANCA.

Anonymous said...

"...if the post-war Soviet Union was more conservative than post-sixties America, you would think that ultra-liberal Hollywood would have portrayed it as more sinister than it actually did."

Hollywood did not portray Stalin's, Khruschov's or Brezhnev's USSR positively. It's my impression that most of the time it wasn't interested in the USSR at all. When it was somewhat interested in it, as in the 1980s, the portrayal was negative.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Yes, drabness is what the world associates with American style. Projecting that on the USSR, a rival at the time, was just propaganda mixed with understandable embarrassment."

Actually, it was based on simple observation. Again, just google-up images of the Soviet Union in the period 1918-1984. the ugliness is unendurable. Indeed, I tend to think that one reason for Hollywood's avoidance of Soviet villains during the Cold War was their sheer lack of aesthetic appeal. All of those badly cut suits, the poor fabrics, the dirtiness, etc. At least the Nazis were glamorous enemies.







Anonymous:" painting the walls white instead of using wall paper,"

Again, dear boy, have you ever looked at Soviet wallpaper? I'll take a coat of white paint over Soviet Wallpaper any day.

AQnonymous:" genre movies instead of realistic ones,"

MMM, based on the Soviet films that I have seen, we must have quite different ideas about what constitutes realism.

Anonymous:" genre fiction instead of literary fiction,"

Again, the mixing of terms. Genre fiction can be more artistic than "literary" fiction, dear boy.

Anonymous:" the whole fast food experience -"

MMM, remind me to tell you some of the stories that I have heard about the sheer awfulness of the food in Soviet Russia.


Anonymous:" all of this is typically American. The USSR was on the less drab side of all of these contrasts."

Hardly dear boy. The Soviets were leading the pack in the drabness sweepstakes. It was a veritable Empire of Shoddyness and vulgarity.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and necons aren't cons in any way whatsoever. They're liberals. They were very anti-Soviet.

Anonymous said...

HER, FRANCES HA, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, etc..

Put-on with sincerity? Conceit as comfort food?

Prof. Woland said...

Aside from pure luck, one of the things Khrushchev attributes his survival to was his clownish appearance. Stalin kept him around for his enjoyment. He would frequently mock his frumpy clothes that barely fit and would humiliate him in front of his other lackeys. He was Woland's Begemot. It was never safe to be that close to the boss. The problem was that eventually he would tire of his underlings and would demote them with a bullet in the back of the head. Like a drunk staggering around a minefield, Khrushchev miraculously avoided the same fate.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"the quality and the cut of their fabrics were poor"

"Not true."

Exceeding true, dear boy. Russian women used to actually get fancy items (lingerie, etc) from Poland because of the poor quality of Russian clothing....And if Communist era Poland looks like a veritable oasis of style, the Russian case must have been truly dire.

Anonymous;""Russian dress code was 'need and functionality' with little other consideration. "

"Not true."

Again, dear boy, exceedingly true. I was just looking at some Moscow street scenes from the 50s. Utter drabness. No Anglo could stomach it.

Anonymous:""and Russians owned far less clothes than Americans did"."

"True. Russians owned fewer clothes, but they were in better taste."

Again. completely untrue. Soviet man was without taste in sartorial matters. One glance would have reduced a Savile Row tailor to tears.


Anonymous:" The quality was higher than what you see in modern Asian-made clothes. The colors weren't as likely to wash off, the seams weren't as likely to come apart, the materials looked and felt better."

MMM, every older Russian of my acquaintance has always talked about how uncomfortable the Soviet-Era fabrics were...

Anonymous said...

"The Soviets were leading the pack in the drabness sweepstakes. It was a veritable Empire of Shoddyness and vulgarity."

You're just being defensive. And I understand that. The whole world considers the jeans/ sneakers/ sweat pants/ McDonald's/ paper cup/ superhero movie aesthetic to be drab and vulgar, so you want to project those epithets on others. It's very human. But yes, objectively the USSR was on the less drab side of all of those contrasts.

Anonymous said...

But in fact, USSR did the most and lost the most men in the war.

Only because Stalin purged the USSR's military to the point of near uselessness, and spent so many resources (and men) trying to liberate Finland from the EVIL CAPITALIST KULAKS. And afterward they seemed to need Lend-Lease pretty badly.

HA said...

"I suspect that at least SOME of the anti-Russian sentiment and antipathy from Hollywood has more then a little to do with the fact that Jews run it and don't like Russians at all."

Yes, but that makes it all the more curious as to why the last big-budget movie to feature an overtly Arab bad guy (though he was played by a Pakistani) was the Cameron/Schwarzenegger film True Lies, and that came out two decades ago. It seems that certain groups that cause trouble for Jews get a pass that is somehow denied to the Russians.

Moreover, if one looks to Hollywood on how best to profile a terrorist, then one would conclude that airport security personnel should limit themselves to stopping and frisking primarily those individuals with British or German accents and pasty faces. Russians (i.e., those of the non-Chechen variety) would presumably be next on the list, followed by Serbs, or maybe Albanians (but only like those in the movie Taken, whose first names are Petar or Marko, as opposed to something like Hasan or Shafet).

Anonymous said...

RE: Spielberg's use of Soviet villains in KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL,

Note the drabness of the Soviet villains in the film compared to the glamorous Nazis of the previous films. Film is all about the tyranny of the eye, the power of spectacle. The Soviets just don't deliver on film.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"I thought SCHINDLER'S LIST pulled a fast one against the Soviets at the end. We see a Soviet officer arriving at the death camp AFTER the Nazis had fled and saying "We come to liberate you" or some such. The impression one gets is that Russians didn't do diddly squat and arrived rather lazily after the event. But in fact, USSR did the most and lost the most men in the war.

When the Russian officer said that, there were snickers in the theater and one guy yelled out sarcastically, "yeah right!""


MMMM, I received a rather different impression.After all, what does "liberation" mean when it comes from Stalin? True, you are not going to be killed purely because of your ethnic background, but you are also going to fall into the hands of one of the greatest tyrants in human history.It was certainly a dubious kind of liberation.

Anonymous:"If Jewish Spielberg feels so little gratitude to the Russians, I wonder how he really feels about American goys who fought in WWII."

Judging from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, BAND OF BROTHERS, and THE PACIFIC, I would say that he thinks quite highly of them.

Anonymous said...

"Russian women used to actually get fancy items (lingerie, etc) from Poland because of the poor quality of Russian clothing."

I grew up in the USSR and I haven't seen a single "Made in Poland" label in my life. You saw stuff made all over the Communist block, but never anything made in Poland. You are the first person who has ever raised before me the possibility that anything at all might have ever been manufactured in Poland. Intellectually I know that they must have made SOMETHING there before the modern wave of deindustrialization. But I've never seen any evidence of it. Just to be clear: are you making a claim that clothing was manufactured in Poland during the Communist period?

By the way, asking Poles about Russia is like asking the Irish about England. Russians rarely think about Poland, but Poles always think about Russia, and never positively. This has nothing to do with the quality of clothes and it's much older than Communism.

Anonymous said...

To the Polish commenter: perhaps you meant that Russian women used to buy Western European-made lingiree while on business or holiday in Poland? That's plausible.

Or are you suggesting that lingiree was at one time manufactured in Poland and that Russians thought it was very good? That's not nearly as plausible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous;"You're just being defensive."

Hardly, dear boy. You, after all, are the one extolling the sartorial virtues of Soviet Man. If anything needs defending, it is that line of argument.

Anonymous:" And I understand that. The whole world considers the jeans/"

MMMM, I seem to recall that a pair of jeans was a highly sought after commodity on the Soviet black market. Not quite what one would expect if Soviet Man thought them "drab."


Anonymous;" sneakers/ sweat pants/ McDonald's/ paper cup/ superhero movie aesthetic"

MMMM, again, the citizens of the Soviet Union seemed to find sneakers quite stylish, at least in comparison to their own footwear.

Sweatpants.....seem rather more stylish than the pyjama-like trousers that I see adorning many a Soviet leg...

McDonald's: Seems quite tasty in comparison to typical Soviet fare in the 1918-1984 period.

paper cups: Were the soviets that backward? Did they really not have paper cup technology?

Super hero movie: Does the "whole world" find them drab? Odd, then, that they keep on watching them...


Anonymous;" to be drab and vulgar, so you want to project those epithets on others. It's very human."

Completely, dear boy. Why just look at how you are desperately trying to convince yourself that the Soviet Union was not hideously ugly. I mean, say what you will about the Nazis, but at least they offered an aesthetic challenge to the Anglos.


Anonymous:" But yes, objectively the USSR was on the less drab side of all of those contrasts."

Other way around dear boy.The USSR was rivaled in drabness only by Mao's China.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"To the Polish commenter: perhaps you meant that Russian women used to buy Western European-made lingiree while on business or holiday in Poland? That's plausible.

Or are you suggesting that lingiree was at one time manufactured in Poland and that Russians thought it was very good? That's not nearly as plausible."


If you look at my original comment, you will see that I did not say that the items were made in Poland, merely that they were purchased there.

Anonymous said...

"I thought SCHINDLER'S LIST pulled a fast one against the Soviets at the end. We see a Soviet officer arriving at the death camp AFTER the Nazis had fled and saying "We come to liberate you" or some such. The impression one gets is that Russians didn't do diddly squat and arrived rather lazily after the event. But in fact, USSR did the most and lost the most men in the war."

That was your impression, not *your* impression. Spielberg was being historically accurate. The Nazis running concentration camps didn't stick around and wait for the Russians - they bugged out before that. My father was an a concentration camp where this happened. The SS took the healthiest prisoners with them on a forced march deeper into Germany and were replaced by the Volkssturm, who then also left before allied troops got there.

Anonymous said...

MISSION TO MOSCOW a totally vile and venal movie by the man who made CASABLANCA.

Another vile pro-Soviet film from that era is North Star, which portrays early WW II Ukraine as a land of well-fed peasants eager to support and even die for the Communist Party. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_North_Star_%281943_film%29

Omitted from the film? The 1932-1933 anti-Ukrainian genocide in which Stalin and Lazar Kaganovich murdered six million Ukrainians through forced starvation and mass executions, the mass arrests and executions that occurred between 1934 and 1937, and the NKVD's mass execution of Ukrainian prisoners and intellectuals in the first days of the war.

Anonymous said...

"McDonald's: Seems quite tasty in comparison to typical Soviet fare in the 1918-1984 period."

But you haven't tasted any Soviet fare. I have. Your certainty comes from defensiveness, mine from experience. Unlike you, I've compared the two. Same about clothing, movies and the rest of it.

Anonymous said...

For a while, white S Africans were the staple villains, and were in general very badly drawn and inaccurately portrayed.

S Africa was, until it -ahem- somehow changed, a very hospitable home to the very people who made money dissing it once they got out "because of apartheid" (code for "because apartheid ended").

Anon.

Prof. Woland said...

Whatever soviet citizens where wearing in the 1960s or 70s, it was light years ahead of what they wore in the 1930s and 40s. What little they had was even less once The Great Patriotic war was going. Most of the fabric used in Red Army uniforms came from the U.S. They were so desperate they would routinely strip the uniforms off of dead comrades and just give them to the next recruit. If memory serves me, the USSR produced 160,000,000 shoes in 1943. That sounds like a lot, but 80 million pairs of shoes in a country of 220,000,000 people meant the average person had to wait 3 years before getting a new pair. It is even worse when considering that Russians essentially need two sets of clothes, one for summer and one for winter. It sucked being Russian. They probably thought they had it pretty good until they met someone from the West. In the 1950s the Soviet Union started to aggressively grow cotton in the Uzbekistan region which alleviated the situation somewhat but like the rest of Soviet Agriculture, is suffered from saboteurs and wreckers. Translated into English, that means drunks and slackers.

Anonymous said...

For majority of people 50 years and younger the "Cold War movies" are precisely those '80s flicks like Rambo. I mean, no one now thinks of say James Bond series as Cold War movies.
...
It is true that Russians are used to being negatively portrayed by Hollywood. It's Hollywood, they've always done it, what can you do except make fun privately? It hasn't yet occurred to the Russians that they can play a victim card on this and it may be effective.

Anonymous said...

And also, why would the liberal elites in the news media, if not Hollywood, sympathize with the USSR, as opposed to Reagan, if it was the more conservative country? I think we all know there is ample evidence demonstrating that the Left is not composed of disciplined pacifists, but, instead, of aggressive agitators who would not hesitate for a moment to unleash Hell on a "reactionary, authoritarian empire." So if the 1980s USSR really was more traditional than 1980s America, you would expect the news media to cheer on, not condemn, any of the mildly belligerent moves of Reagan. And it did not. Which indicates that the post-war USSR really was still to the left of post-sixties America.

wiseguy

Anonymous said...

"Looking through google images from the 1918-1984 period, the overall impression is one of unbelievable drabness"

If I'd shown you the images of American men-on-the-street from 1918-1954, you'd say they were dressed drably, too. (Especially if I told you beforehand that these were the Soviets).

Anonymous said...

I tend to think that one reason for Hollywood's avoidance of Soviet villains during the Cold War was their sheer lack of aesthetic appeal. All of those badly cut suits, the poor fabrics, the dirtiness, etc. At least the Nazis were glamorous enemies.

For reasons I could elaborate later, the Nazis were almost ideal literary and cinematic villains - in a way that communists could never be. This is even true about the really evil and murderous commies such as Stalin, Mao, and Pot.

Part of it was that the Nazis were more glamorous with their metrosexual dress uniforms, particularly the black Hugo Boss SS uniforms. Never mind that the SS issued these specifically for the 1936 Olympic parades - and retired them very quickly afterwards for much more practical and maintainable dark grey dress uniforms without the swastika armbands. And of course, the SS trooper in the field wore the same stuff as Wehrmacht soldiers, but with SS collar tabs.

The Nazis were very much into "spook value" as well, to shock their enemies with pagan and occult symbolism. In the end it made them look like comic-book bad guys.

Anonymous said...

"If you look at my original comment, you will see that I did not say that the items were made in Poland, merely that they were purchased there."

OK, but Americans buy high-end Western European-made clothing too. And I'm sure that during the period when America still manufactured clothing, style-conscious Americans considered the best American clothing to be by far inferior to the best French, Italian and English clothing.

The Soviet Union did not produce any luxury stuff. There were no private yachts or private helicopters and hardly any luxury cars. No Soviet equivalent to Charvet ties or John Lobb shoes. But the average quality of the stuff it made was good. And there was no "casual" drabness - that originated in America and didn't reach Russia until late in the 80s. And there's still less of it in Russia than in America. To this day Russian women are more likely than American women to dress in a feminine way, to really care about aesthetics. And that gap between the two countries, not just in femininity, but in aesthetics generally, was larger in Soviet times than it is now.

Anonymous said...

Thrush and Spectre were just to get us primed to accept "Al Qaeda":)

From wiki:

"Al-Qaeda is a global militant Islamist and takfiri organization founded by Osama bin Laden in Peshawar, Pakistan"

Yep, that's right, a global non government threat! Hey wait, what did Macdonald say about the nazi?

Mr. Anon said...

"Steve Sailer said...

The Nuclear Freeze movement of the early 1980s was huge enough that it deserves its own Wikipedia page."

I guess the KGB (excuse me, FSB) can't be bothered to spring for a Nuclear Freeze wikipedia page, as they once did for the movement itself.

Anonymous said...

"For a while, white S Africans were the staple villains, and were in general very badly drawn and inaccurately portrayed."

The recent movie Elysium had a white South African villain.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

CRYSTAL SKULL had bad Soviets."

But they were never called "Soviets", or "Commies", or "Reds". They were called "Russians".

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Kennedy and Reagan were metrosexuals, an exclusively Western if not American phenomenon. Yet their "badly-dressed" Soviet counterparts knew far more about chess, opera, ballet, symphonies, painting, and wine."

Utter nonsense. Kruschev? Breszhnev? Kosygin? They had all the class and refinement of Teamster union bosses.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"It hasn't yet occurred to the Russians that they can play a victim card on this and it may be effective."

Wouldn't a Russian moviegoer probably just assume that the 'Russian' mafia boss villain was Jewish, and his underlings probably Georgian etc?

Anonymous said...

It is well known that China has being lobbying Hollywood hard not to portray them as villains, the even managed to change the "Red Dawn" remake from a Chinese to a North Korean invasion !?

Russians on the other hand do not seem to be as offended by Russian oligarchs as villains, this could be because the oligarchs are not popular and belong to the one group that will absolutely never be portrayed as a villains.

Anonymous said...

As someone who grew up in the 80s, one of my most lasting Cold Wat memories is of Johnny Carson saying to his audience on the Tonight Show, "Clap if you think Russian women are ugly!" followed by thunderous applause and cheering. Even as a youngster, I thought the demagoguery and mob mentality on display was frightening and pathetic. With the benefit of hindsight, it was also laughably stupid and inaccurate, as Russian women are far more feminine and attractive than American women.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to take sides here in the "who's more stylish" debate. I just want to point out just how different the two sides were.

Take jeans for example. Only Americans could think of making jeans stylish; for most other peoples they were truly workers' and peasants' clothes. Yet in the socialist "workers' paradises", they were discouraged even for workers on the job.

The same applies to sneakers, T-shirts, exercise clothes worn in public, and other examples of western casual wear.

Anonymous said...

""As someone who grew up in the 80s, one of my most lasting Cold Wat memories is of Johnny Carson saying to his audience on the Tonight Show, "Clap if you think Russian women are ugly!""

That looks like just another form of early PC, I doubt that joke could have been made about the Chinese or Iranian women even when at the time those countries were also viewed as American enemies.

Simon in London said...

Re drabness & vulgarity, these are not the same thing. Vulgar is often flashy and distinctly non-drab.
Soviets were seen as drab, Americans were seen as vulgar.

Spielberg is definitely pro-American in his movies. Notably he's also one of the earliest directors to show WW2 German soldiers as generally irredeemably evil; with hindsight the first Indiana Jones movie marks a big shift in the portrayal, which was carried on in Saving Private Ryan - though there was the one humane scene where a traumatised German soldier staggers out of a building after killing an American in a knife grapple, right past another cowering American. Before Spielberg and the 1980s, non-Holocaust movies generally showed the Germans as decent humans, and avoided showing German war crimes nearly as much as they avoided showing Allied war crimes. I think though this may be primarily a genre thing - "war" movies tend to show both sides as decent fellow humans (even sometimes the Japanese!), whereas "action" movies show the antagonists as two-dimensional villains. Proto-Action-movies such as Where Eagles Dare and The Dirty Dozen already have something of this tendency, which is absent in The Longest Day or A Bridge Too Far.

Orthodox said...

Did you noticed Tom Clancy novels became pro-Russia after communism fell? The U.S. missed a window of opportunity to change the course of Russian-American relations. Or maybe not, as a comment alluded to earlier. The neo-cons and leftists, but I repeat myself, seek global domination under American leadership. Russia is the only thing standing in the way, at least until China is a credible military threat and projecting power into the Pacific.

I saw the new Jack Ryan movie here in China. There were some laughs when Costner's character says "The Russians will be hit too!," and Ryan answers, "The Chinese will lose the more."

The movie was OK as far as entertainment, but the Russian threat was comical. It may have had to do with the fact that the U.S. is destroying itself in exactly the manner as the villains intended. Maybe they should have a movie where it turns out that the election of Obama and appointment of the Federal Reserve officials is the work of KGB infiltrators who are angry that communism fell in Russia and now hate Russia and Putin. They want to revolutionize America and then retake Russia.

Anonymous said...

If Hollywood defeats Putin and there are gay parades down red square and Russia is administered by Brussels, it does raise an interesting question who would be left as villains for Jack Ryan to battle ?

If the only villain left is American white males or North Koreans, it starts becoming a bit of joke. That action movie where whites wanted to take back the white house or the one where it was North Koreans, were both not hits. Even blatant Hollywood cannot get away with just using those as villains.

DavidB said...

Surely Hollywood's number one preferred ethnic group for villainy is the English. In any TV crime series (The Mentalist, Castle, CSI, etc) as soon an English actor comes into view, we need look no further for the perp. The same in films: the villain has to be played by Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons, or Jude Law. Admittedly they might sometimes be playing a non-English character, but no-one is fooled.

Simon in London said...

Re Russian 'drabness' and Hollywood - I definitely think that Hollywood doesn't like Slavic looks, even on villains. They tend to cast Scandinavians as Russians - Dolph Lundgren & Brigitte Nielsen in Rocky IV. Otherwise British actors like Connery, Branagh, et al. Schwarzenegger played a good-guy Russian cop.

T. Greer said...

"The movie industry is very concerned about Chinese sensitivities, so it would be interesting to see why it doesn't seem concerned about Russian sensitivities."

It has everything to do with the way movies are distributed and released in China. Chinese central government has a stranglehold on (and quota for) which U.S. movies are shown in China. Russian government has not shown itself as willing to intervene in cinematic affairs.

Plus there is not much evidence that films with Russian villains have proven drastically less successful in Russia. One suspects the Russians are not as defensive as the (incredibly defensive) Chinese.

Sid said...

In Hollywood culture, Soviet leaders are stiffly, formally dressed, but the style is bland and uninteresting. My friends and I have joked that the reason why the fourth Indiana Jones movie was so bad was that Communists had dull, grey uniforms, while the baddies in the first and third Indiana Jones movies were in SS uniforms.

But yeah, I am in Azerbaijan presently, and I would say that people are more formally dressed than most Americans, but their clothing is much less stylish than the fashion-conscious in America.

Anonymous said...

Trying to think of cold-war movies that had bad Soviet/Commies and good Americans:

A very good Gregory Peck vehicle called "Night People", color, late 40's, early 50's. Recommend it.

A movie with John Wayne and Jim Arness as FBI agents in Hawaii on the trail of a commie 5th column.

Book, movie, TV series "I Led Three Lives."

LeClare's first book/movie. But in that one everyone's a bad guy.

Regarding Soviet fashion and what was thought of it, listen to Bob Newhart's bit about Khrushchev's trip to America. Found on Newhart's (I'm guessing) first album. It will back up Sailer's comments.

Anonymous said...

Another movie in which the Commies were bad and the Americans (more-or-less) good is "The Manchurian Candidate."

Anonymous said...

"Russian women are far more feminine and attractive than American women."

They aged faster and had worse teeth.

Anonymous said...

Re Auntie Analogue,

Dr. Strangelove is not a left wing movie by any stretch, in fact a lot of left wingers were utterly appalled that Kubrick chose to make light of nuclear war, which they viewed as the great danger of the age. The typical left wing movies of that era were Seven Days in May ( Crazy fascist general attempts coup d'etat against liberal American president who wants disarmament with Russians ) and Fail Safe ( Where liberal icon Henry Fonda as POTUS orders NYC nuked to compensate Russia for Moscow being nuked by accident ).

Kubrick was making light of Armageddon and viciously satirizing BOTH American and Russian leadership. The Russian Premier is portrayed through phone conversation as a dim witted drunk ( Uh, Khrushchev, anyone? ) who stupidly builds a doomsday device and then neglects to inform anyone about it which kind of defeats the purpose of building it. Ultimately it's the Russians building a doomsday device that destroys the world, not the lone American bomber that carries out it's mission against a missile base. There was also " On the Beach " which came out a few years before which had people in the Southern Hemisphere awaiting death from nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere, which was based on a book beloved by left wingers and which also was scientifically inaccurate.

Anonymous said...

A longstanding question is why has Hollywood been, rightly, so hard on the National Socialists (Nazies), but gone so easy on the International Socialists (Commies)?

The usual answer is that Hollywood is full of people who identify and agree with the the Commies.

But another answer might be that, until a hot war breaks out, there's no reason to piss off a powerful enemy; i.e., let sleeping dogs lie.

Before Pearl Harbor, Hollywood wasn't that hard on the Nazies, either.

Anonymous said...

"For reasons I could elaborate later, the Nazis were almost ideal literary and cinematic villains - in a way that communists could never be. This is even true about the really evil and murderous commies such as Stalin, Mao, and Pot."

Commies could easily be Nazified.

Ivan Drago the 'Aryan' commie.

The devious Fu Manchu in MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE--like the Nazi sophisticate.

Karla in SMILEY'S PEOPLE, the Commie gestapo.

Also, the relative lack of 'glamour' could seem villainous to the consumerist west.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-H_6BZLGCI

Anonymous said...

"Like a drunk staggering around a minefield, Khrushchev miraculously avoided the same fate."

Most of Stalin's closest advisers/inner circle from late 30s survived.
Molotov, Voroshilov, Beria, Malenkov, Bulganin, Khrushchev, Kaganovich and Mikoyan.

Anonymous said...

Homos used to be villains, with Nazi elites being homo-ish.

SFG said...

"If Hollywood defeats Putin and there are gay parades down red square and Russia is administered by Brussels, it does raise an interesting question who would be left as villains for Jack Ryan to battle ?"

Um, no. The Homintern is not a real threat to Putin--he's the czar and doesn't tolerate opposition parties, let alone gay people messing around from traditional enemy countries. It's the thing these lefty 'human rights' people like to ignore, because Obama's not going to pressure Russia--they've got nukes.

It's like the joke about everyone turning their Facebook page green and Iran being a democracy.

(Your initial point about Hollywood being out of villains, I agree with.)

As for the Nazis having more style--sure, Hugo Boss made their uniforms, but exterminating the relatives of the moviemakers didn't help either.

Wayne Gretzky said...

"North American hockey was objectively more violent than Soviet hockey. There were no fist fights in Soviet hockey. And the play itself was less violent too."

There are no fist fights in amateur American hockey and the 1980 USA team was all amateur.

The play in Soviet hockey was less violent because the rinks are wider than in North America hockey.

Anonymous said...

http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/tag/stalin/

Anonymous said...

Russians = proud white gentiles = villains.

Whose perspective?

Anonymous said...

"detecting tackiness"

Anonymous said...

"Only Americans could think of making jeans stylish..."

It's difficult to make jeans look good. Large teams of tailors and photographers may have succeeded at it in one or two Marlboro man ads, but it rarely happens in real life. They're ugly by default. In contrast, if you're not fat, an adequate off-the-rack pair of dress pants will look OK on you. It will give some straight, smooth lines to your contour - I think that usually helps. The farther away you move from the covered-in-burlap-sacks look, the better.

Marissa said...

There is no such movie as RAMBO unless you are referring to the 2008 film set in Burma/Myanmar.

The movie you're referring to is FIRST BLOOD. It may be violent but it's a great example of small-town American tyranny and satisfying vengeance against it. I'm not sure why this is considered so plebeian. One man against his power-tripping enemies is a great story.

Reg Cæsar said...

"Only Americans could think of making jeans stylish..."

It's difficult to make jeans look good.


Well, duh. The purpose of denim is to protect the skin from rough, dirty jobs. So using it as a fashion statement is a subtle mockery of real working pepole.

It's like the pretend peasantry of the old French gentry.

Anonymous said...

Arabs were acceptable movie bad guys as recently as the 90s.

"Executive Decision" with Kirk Russell and Halle Berry came out in 1996. It was about Arab Muslim terrorists hijacking a plane and attempting to blow up the entire Eastern Seaboard with chemical weapons.

A Tom Clancy novel called "Executive Orders" came out in the 90s that also involved an airplane hijacking and suicide bombing by Arab terrorists.

These both came out about five years before 9/11/2001.

I've never seen a journalist write about how the September 11 attacks were an example of life imitating art.

Mr. Anon said...

"Simon in London said...

Spielberg is definitely pro-American in his movies. Notably he's also one of the earliest directors to show WW2 German soldiers as generally irredeemably evil; with hindsight the first Indiana Jones movie marks a big shift in the portrayal,"

The Indiana Jones movies were comic-book-like actioneers, so they had comic-book-like villains. I did not think that "Saving Private Ryan" was unsympathetic towards the german soldiers. It simply had no time for sympathy for them, as indeed the American soldiers in combat didn't either. "Band of Brothers", which was produced by Spielberg, was much more sympathetic towards german soldiers.

Prof. Woland said...

"Most of Stalin's closest advisers/inner circle from late 30s survived. Molotov, Voroshilov, Beria, Malenkov, Bulganin, Khrushchev, Kaganovich and Mikoyan."

Molotov only survived because Stalin died. His wife was one of the prime targets in the "Doctors Plot" and clearly was not long for the world. Mikoyan had also gone out of favor and would probably died in the same purge. Beria tried to take over with Malenkov after Stalin croaked but he was shot in prison less than a year later and Malenkov was sent off to Siberia to run some project clearly to get rid of him. Voroshilov and Bulganin were side kicks and had no real power. Of the bunch you mention, only Kaganovich wielded real power but he was Jewish and might have gone down in the doctors plot before it was all over.

It would have been a more apt metaphor if I had said musical chairs, with the tune being called by Stalin.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:""If Jewish Spielberg feels so little gratitude to the Russians, I wonder how he really feels about American goys who fought in WWII.""

"Judging from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, BAND OF BROTHERS, and THE PACIFIC, I would say that he thinks quite highly of them."

Though he did insert three Jews into the Ranger unit searching for Ryan. Jewish participation in the American forces during WW2 can only charitably be described as "sporadic". Or when it could not be avoided, as "rear echelon" as possible. There is a reason the Coast Guard was known as "Abey's Navy".

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Strangelove is not a left wing movie by any stretch, in fact a lot of left wingers were utterly appalled that Kubrick chose to make light of nuclear war, which they viewed as the great danger of the age."

True enough, but even so, a 'paranoid' right-wing general started it, and that's something that the American left loved.

Most libs were not offended because they saw it as SATIRE!
If anything, Dr. Strangelove got much better press than FAIL SAFE or SEVEN GAYS.

Anonymous said...

Before Spielberg and the 1980s, non-Holocaust movies generally showed the Germans as decent humans, and avoided showing German war crimes nearly as much as they avoided showing Allied war crimes. I think though this may be primarily a genre thing - "war" movies tend to show both sides as decent fellow humans (even sometimes the Japanese!), whereas "action" movies show the antagonists as two-dimensional villains. Proto-Action-movies such as Where Eagles Dare and The Dirty Dozen already have something of this tendency, which is absent in The Longest Day or A Bridge Too Far.

Good point!

Also consider the generational aspects. Before 1980, there were many WWII veterans in Hollywood, who came face-to-face with Germans, Japanese, and Italians* in combat. The question remains: why 1980 as the turning point? I can see WWII veterans (of all ethnic heritages) replaced by Jewish Baby Boomer activists with a collective chip on their shoulder - but in a gradual process.

The post-1980 anti-Nazi movies were nothing more than war propaganda 40 years after the fact, aimed at younger and younger generations of potential Nazi skinheads. Hollywood was never that militant about the evils of communism.

* There was very little American vs. Italian conflict in WW2. It was the British (and Russians, and Ethiopians, and Balkan partisans) who ground down the Italians before 1943, paving the way for their surrender.

Anonymous said...

"There is no such movie as RAMBO unless you are referring to the 2008 film set in Burma/Myanmar."

The title of the second one was called RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II.

Anonymous said...

In the biography of Che Guevara, when Cubans first meet Russian agents, they notice the badly designed suits and poor hygiene.

Anonymous said...

Reg Cæsar said...

"Only Americans could think of making jeans stylish..."

It's difficult to make jeans look good.

Well, duh. The purpose of denim is to protect the skin from rough, dirty jobs. So using it as a fashion statement is a subtle mockery of real working pepole.

It's like the pretend peasantry of the old French gentry.


You hit the nail right on the head. One word: slumming. It was after the 1960s that jeans became the "standard" fashion for young people, and the 1980s evolved in quite bizarre directions. Anyone remember the designer jeans (mostly for teenage girls) of the early 1980s? They went quite beyond cowgirl chic, and in many cases, into dominatrix chic.

Anonymous said...

Cultural Marxism vs. Russian Nationalism disguised as Marxism

The Frankfurt School vs. the Moscow school


Anonymous said...

I think the blockbuster movie produced the SUPERVILLAIN, and in time, even real-historical villains came to be presented in that manner.

Super-villain isn't merely sinister or up-to-no-good but outlandishly, brazenly, ludicrously, and operatically over-the-top in his villainy.

The traditional gangster could be a nasty villain. But look at Deniro in UNTOUCHABLES. He's a supervillain.
The huge muscled Russians with giant helicopters in RAMBO are hardly distinguishable from the Terminator or Predator.
But the real problem of RAMBO was not the fantasy element of US revenge. (Fantasy always has its uses). It was the pretense that it had something serious to say about the war, veterans, and missing POWS. As the movie audience were all worked up, it was effective in dumbing down America into a popcorn/sodapop version of the Cold War. And today, we have 'conservative' kids joining the military because they grew up playing 'blow the world up' video games. We have Americans going into Iraq playing ROCK THE CASBAH and singing Rap. We have idiots like Ted Nugent saying we should fight war like it's a rock concert and who cares how many muzzies die.

The rise in screen violence and foul language(with the fading of censorship), along with the more bombastic visual style of film geeks, made everything more excessive.

Incidentally, the style of RED DAWN was actually closer to sober realism than blockbusterism, but the notion of USSR invading vast areas of the US and then some high school students fighting back in Viet Cong/Mujahedeen manner was just too funny--but the film didn't see the humor as the story was as drab as Soviet attire.

Seeing it again a few yrs back, I saw some virtues as well as vices, but it's still a totally silly movie.

The over-the-top super-villain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoAK1JNNKR0

American 'patriotism' says white conservatives must fight FOREIGN ENEMIES while Jews and Liberals mock and attack domestic conservatives.

Liberal manipulation of the conservative heart.

'Kick their ass while we kick your ass.'

pat said...

I have recently taken to reading (sort of) Russian novels on my (sort of) Kindle.

About ten years ago I started reading the Arcady Renko novels of Martin Cruz Smith. The first of these - 'Gorky Park' was made into a big Hollywood movie but none of the others. Pity.

Smith at one time wrote some other novels about Gypsies but his Russian themed detective stories proved more popular.

I read all of the Renko novels then published and then quit for a decade to give him a chance to catch up. I've read three more recently and will probably read another this week. Cruz Smith is a hell of a writer.

Smith's vision of Russia is deeply horrifying. His view of Russia is little better than hell. Renko however keeps going back.

I used to supervise a unit of Russian and Ukrainian software engineers. In retrospect after reading about Russian and Ukrainian life in the Cruz Smith books I begin to comprehend a little more their odd behavior. My coders were escapees.

The real Russia seems to be filled with real villains.

Albertosaurus

Marissa said...

The title of the second one was called RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II.

It still ain't RAMBO! And the monster ain't called Frankenstein.

Svigor said...

TV anti-terrorist shows?

In my experience, anti-Arab sentiment saw a serious downturn in the mass media after 9/11. Following Auster's Law of Majority-Minority Relations, they came to be seen as a worse threat by the white western public, so the lefties started treating them better. Before that, it was typical for Arabs to be stereotyped (e.g., Cannonball Run). On the other hand, it's not like that really went away (e.g., the Arab in the The Mummy), but I do think there was a real Auster effect going on.

As for the anti-terrorist TV shows, I don't think they show what you think they show. In my experience, they show terrorism as a primarily white "gentile" phenomenon, as opposed to reality, where it's primarily a swarthy West Asian phenomenon. E.g., 24 spent most of its 7 or so seasons dealing with non-Muslim, non-Arab terrorists. And one season when they were involved, they were mere dupes and patsies.

Svigor said...

Super-villain isn't merely sinister or up-to-no-good but outlandishly, brazenly, ludicrously, and operatically over-the-top in his villainy.

I've noticed this as well. It seems that the upshot of this is that villainy must be over-the-top for anyone to get exercised over it; villains must be irredeemably evil for us to oppose them.

Simon in London said...

Mr Anon:
"The Indiana Jones movies were comic-book-like actioneers, so they had comic-book-like villains. I did not think that "Saving Private Ryan" was unsympathetic towards the german soldiers. It simply had no time for sympathy for them, as indeed the American soldiers in combat didn't either."

A big plot point in Saving Private Ryan was the German POW they release instead of killing. He comes back later and kills several American soldiers. The film's message that it's a good idea to kill prisoners seemed quite shocking to me at the time.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"Though he did insert three Jews into the Ranger unit searching for Ryan. Jewish participation in the American forces during WW2 can only charitably be described as "sporadic"."

I thought there was only one Jew in the Ranger unit?
I've been to Omaha Beach; there are some stars of David in the cemetery, as shown in the movie. Presumably they died in combat. I get the impression WW2 had good participation by all US ethnicities, though obviously Southern Good Ole Boys tended to be disproportionately represented in the combat units, as always.

Anonymous said...

"It still ain't RAMBO! And the monster ain't called Frankenstein."

Right, and 2001 is wrong cuz it's not 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

Get a life.

Anonymous said...

"The question remains: why 1980 as the turning point?"

Maybe the culture got cartoonish and formula-oriented. Also, shameless.

Prior to late 60s, American censorship and culture of respectability had a restraining effect on excessive violence and passion.
So, even though the 'lemon-colored characters' in SANDS OF IWO JIMA are the bad guys, they are not delirious demented lunatics.
But look at the Jappers in RISING SUN. (LOL). It's even more outlandish than Nazi movies about Jews.

Same with horror. Horror used to be about shadows, creepy music, mood, and suggestiveness, but the new horror in the 70s(though PSYCHO might have paved the ground)were just downright disgusting. A movie like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE would not have been possible in the 50s or even 60s. By the 80s, the slasher films were sickening beyond belief.

At the very least, 70s cinema was defined by personal vision, a certain raw vitality, and etc. So, it had an element of 'truth'. Same in rock music.
But by the late 70s and the rise of slick formula-ism(STAR WARS and DISCO), the 'authentic' feature of late 60s and 70s culture went out the window. Art(with Warhol now recognized all around as the king) and entertainment(with MTV and videogames sweeping the nation) could use all their powers to package violence, action, sex, and brutality into Big Macs and Coca Cola.

In the late 60s and 70s, there was still this ideal that sex and violence should stand for something true and authentic than merely as shameless entertainment. Consider LAST TANGO IN PARIS. Like it or not, it's a blistering and bruising film. But compare it with something like 9 1/2 WEEKS or BASIC INSTINCT which are shameless slick trash. Compare Eastwood's PLAY MISTY FOR ME with FATAL ATTRACTION.

Even conservatism got shameless. John Wayne turned down DIRTY HARRY because he thought it was too violent and he insisted on changes to THE SHOOTIST as well. But RAMBO, a war porn movie, was hailed by conservatives in the 80s as their own Woodstock.

And compare the changes from ROCKY to ROCKY III. ROCKY, a 70s film, had heart and ethnic authenticity. ROCKY III and then IV were totally over-the-top exercises in ludicrousness with cartoon characters like Clubber 'I pity the fool' Lang and Ivan 'I will break you' Drago. ROCKY III even had Hulk Hogan in it, and of course, pro wrestling was huge in the 80s along with MTV and hair bands.

Eastwood was actually disturbed by the increase in the mindless cult of violence, and so, he began to make films in the more classic tradition of Ford and Hawks that dealt with the issue of the consequences of violence. I don't like his support of 'gay marriage' and endless praise of Jews, but he was responsibly conservative at least in that area. To treat violence in a more thinking and moral manner.

But Stallone and Schwarzenegger turned action films into porn violence in the 80s and 90s along with Cameron and other freaks.

Stone's PLATOON was sobering in contrast to RAMBO, but all said and done, Stone's sensibility is more 80s than 60s(even though 60s and 70s were his formative period). Stone love slick formula-ism: WALL STREET and JFK. They are so 80s. And DOORS has more the MTV slick look than 60s raw look.

Anonymous said...

Who can forget Macho Man Randy Savage and Big Boss Man?

They were all over and you couldn't get away from it--just like BEAT IT was played everywhere over and over and over.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:""Though he did insert three Jews into the Ranger unit searching for Ryan. Jewish participation in the American forces during WW2 can only charitably be described as "sporadic".""

MMM, I can only recall one Jewish guy in the Ranger unit.

As for Jewish participation in America's armed forces in WW2:


"During World War II, approximately 500,000 American Jews served in the various branches of the United States armed services. Roughly 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards." (via WIKIPEDIA)

Jewish casualities in the US armed forces: The total number of Jewish war casualties was 38,338

That does not sound "sporadic" to me.

Ehud Barak Obama said...

There's another example of this mass media false memory syndrome - kind of believable-sounding but actually false statements about The Way Things Used To Be. In the British media you often hear vague assertions that black/non-white people used to be portrayed negatively on television, which is why they receive a uniquely positive portrayal these days. This is completely untrue though - black people have always been treated reverentially on television. There was never a time when they weren't. What was different in the old days is that white characters were portrayed as being much more overtly anti-black/generally racist than is the case now, when subtle "racist" cues are enough to get the message across (the viewers have been well enough trained over the decades to pick up on these and fall into line behind black characters and against the white haters).

But the intention has always been to show blacks as good guys and whites as snivelling racists who are made fools of in the end. In the 1960s the programme "Till Death Us Do Part" featured an outrageously racist white working class character (played by a Scots-Irishman) whom viewers were meant to side against because of his political incorrectness. But the reality was that viewers loved him because he expressed, more or less, their own views. (The character of Archie Bunker was supposedly modelled on him).

It doesn't happen at all now, but for a while in the 1980/1990ss Arabs were popular Hollywood bad guys. Back to The Future, True Lies, Navy Seals. Not a permissible target any more, of course (although the first iron Man film has pretty evil SW Asian bad guys - not Arabs but Muslims, and who among the proles knows the difference anyway...).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Take jeans for example. Only Americans could think of making jeans stylish; for most other peoples they were truly workers' and peasants' clothes. Yet in the socialist "workers' paradises", they were discouraged even for workers on the job."

It rather demonstrates the American talent for making things stylish. Americans take proletarian clothing and make it the epitome of cool.The Soviets, in contrast, wear men's suits and made them look plain and drab, the least stylish things imaginable.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, anti-Arab sentiment saw a serious downturn in the mass media after 9/11. Following Auster's Law of Majority-Minority Relations,

Which Arabs? And which Arab terrorists?

The Arab terrorists in the 60s and 70s were all secular socialist types. The Islamists came much later, and were a side effect of the Western Powers using them as a Cold War weapon against communism.

Anonymous said...

Prior to late 60s, American censorship and culture of respectability had a restraining effect on excessive violence and passion.

While I do hate censorship, it does have the effect of making artists work harder at delivering their message. The Russians used to say that the best literature was written during the reigns of the most repressive tsars (and that includes the Soviet people's tsars.)

Anonymous said...

A popular fantasy was the gorgeous Slavic and/or communist in a fur hat/fur coat who would come over to our side cuz our guys were sexier and more fun.

Even homo Elton John got into the act.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9HHjazDFWQ

(A real stretch. If all Western men looked like Elton John, surely the commies would have stuck with communism. And the Berlin Wall should have remained standing.)

There was Barbara Bach in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

And operative Bariosova in PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQzUCRxaS5A

Comrade or Comsel in Distress waiting to be rescued.

Maybe it goes back to NINOTCHKA.





Anonymous said...

Anonymous;"OK, but Americans buy high-end Western European-made clothing too. And I'm sure that during the period when America still manufactured clothing, style-conscious Americans considered the best American clothing to be by far inferior to the best French, Italian and English clothing."

Far inferior would be too strong. Soviet clothing was far inferior. The Best Savile Row stuff was only somewhat better than high end menswear in the USA.

Anonymous:"The Soviet Union did not produce any luxury stuff. There were no private yachts or private helicopters and hardly any luxury cars. No Soviet equivalent to Charvet ties or John Lobb shoes."

But that's the real issue, isn't it? The Soviets had no high quality, stylish clothing .

Anonymous:" But the average quality of the stuff it made was good."

Again, not according to what I have seen. The average quality was a step below the Western mean during the 1918-1984 period.


Anonymous:" And there was no "casual" drabness - that originated in America and didn't reach Russia until late in the 80s."

Well, yes; the Soviets had drab and shabby suits instead.

Anonymous:" And there's still less of it in Russia than in America."

Again, not according to what I see. A huge percentage of the post-Soviet images that I google-up consists of Russian proles in hideous shell suits.


Anonymous:" To this day Russian women are more likely than American women to dress in a feminine way, to really care about aesthetics."


MMMM, only if one thinks that the Russian version of Essex girl style is something to admire....

Anonymous:" And that gap between the two countries, not just in femininity, but in aesthetics generally, was larger in Soviet times than it is now."

Well, yes. The Soviet Union was much less aesthetically pleasing than America during the Cold War.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFoI83Jwaig

Garbo could wear a potato sack and still be beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"If I'd shown you the images of American men-on-the-street from 1918-1954, you'd say they were dressed drably, too. (Especially if I told you beforehand that these were the Soviets)."

Actually, I did do a comparison view, and I was quite impressed by how well dressed New Yorkers were during the 1918-1945 period. They looked several notches more stylish than the Soviet Muscovites during the same period...

Mike said...

Soviet drabness was forced on them by poverty while American lack of style was self-chosen. These days, Russians are very stylish and well dressed and American vulgarity continues unabated. The real reason is that Russia never ceased being an elitist society, where Americans took egalitarianism and the peasant ethos seriously; looking elegant, refined, and stylish in America simply isn't done. That would be elitist.

Americans never made jeans look stylish. It took Europeans to do that. Stylish, elegant jeans were very much a product of the European elitist ethos, and even today Levis makes the least stylish jeans out there despite recently making a serious effort to copy European stylishness.

For Americans, the ugliness and lack of refinement of jeans was meant to represent the peasant/manual laborer aesthetic which has always been the American physical ideal. Brawny, overweight, beer drinking, baseball cap wearing American men are not an accident; they are the American ideal. Any American male who tries for elegance or refinement will face ridicule. Coarse, overweight, sweatpants and sandal wearing American women with no make-up are not an accident; they represent the American feminine ideal. A nation of anti-elitist, egalitarian, peasant/manual labor men and women dress, look, and behave exactly as you would expect.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"But you haven't tasted any Soviet fare."

True. I'm relying on what others have told me.And they are uniform in saying that average Soviet cuisine was pretty bad during the Cold War.


Anonymous:" I have. Your certainty comes from defensiveness, mine from experience."


Sadly, dear boy, your experiences have made you defensive.If you really want to defend something, why not pre-Soviet Russia : Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin, etc. Now that is something to gush over.

Anonymous:" Unlike you, I've compared the two. Same about clothing, movies and the rest of it."

Actually, I have viewed quite a bit of Soviet era clothing, cinema, etc. And it definitely does not measure up to the American mean during the Cold War.

Anonymous said...

Cold War farce classic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSJVEb-qljA

-----

It's ironic. It was the Commies who first waged WWG against the West.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGV35u35UM4

trans-athletes

Anonymous said...

"These days, Russians are very stylish and well dressed and American vulgarity continues unabated."

Which Russia are you talking about?

Plenty of Russians are poor, drunk, drug addicted, etc.

Anonymous said...

Smith's vision of Russia is deeply horrifying. His view of Russia is little better than hell. Renko however keeps going back.... The real Russia seems to be filled with real villains.

The real Russia was a heavily engineered, regimented, dehumanized robotic society. Imagine life imprisonment in a compulsory public school.

Anonymous said...

Americans never made jeans look stylish. It took Europeans to do that

Europeans and Quebecers.

Anonymous said...

In a way, communist 'drabness' had a moral justification that wasn't much different from dress codes in Protestantism. Communism emphasized the nobility of the common worker and despised vanity/narcissism. Such a moral code exists in Christianity as well. It's like the old nun in LILIES OF THE FIELD may be limited in a way, but she has her sense of dignity in wanting to make the Sisters remain true to the simple but noble ways(instead of sipping sodapop brought by a jiving Negro).

It's rather ironic that godless Communism would embrace such Christo-puritanism while the Christian West would embrace the mammon of consumer vanity and hedonism.

Communism theoretically could have had simple dignity as a spartanist system where people's lives were governed by and centered around unity, togetherness, and such. I would not want to live in such a community, but then, the Amish after all live dignified lives in their own right even though they reject the consumerist life. And there are orders of monks who dress and eat simple foods but are full of dignity.

But communism couldn't really work cuz it tried to make everyone comply to such standards, and they didn't wanna. Monks who join the order do so out of free will. Communist morality was imposed on people who didn't care for it. Worse, elites said one thing but did something else; they got all sorts of goodies for themselves. Brezhnev loved Western cars. And even though communism was about the WORKER, the USSR had nothing to sell to American workers. Instead, it sold caviar and fur to rich elites in the West, the evil bourgeoisie.

And when communism tried to be fashionable and consumerist in its own way to convince its people that life under communism was as colorful and fancy as in the West, it became a third-rate parody of the West.
It lost two stones with one bird. By trying to imitate the West, communism undermined its spartan but dignified moral philosophy of restraint and unity for the common good(over vanity and narcissism) AND it also exposed itself as a totally inept in competing with the West in producing fun/colorful stuff that people wanted.

Come to think of it, conservatives are in a similar dilemma. They are also losing two stones with one bird. Conservatism has its own history, dignity, core values, and core constituency, but Conservatism Inc tries to prove that it is more 'liberal'--more 'anti-racist', more philosemitic, more pro-diversity, more pro-blacks, etc--than Liberalism is. That way, Conservatism Inc lose both grassroots conservatives who lose faith in American Conservatism Inc(as imitation Liberalism) AND also fail to win over blacks, libs, browns, and etc.

------

Anyway, if the rise of capitalism paradoxically owed something to the puritanical ethos of Puritanism(hard work, restraint, delayed gratification, wary of hedonism), maybe communist ethos can be reworked to serve capitalism too.

Perhaps one can cook up a kind of pro-capitalist communism similar to the pro-capitalist Protestantism that developed in UK and Germany.

A pro-capitalist communism would allow people to work and amass fortunes but would also pressure them to save and invest than spend and show off their wealth like gaudy louts.

Maybe such kind of communism helped China in the past 30 yrs. Chinese worked hard to 'get rich' but lingering communist ethos also urged them to be sober and 'humanist'--to save and be cautious.
But the princeling generation that has risen in recent yrs only seem to know and care about spending, spending, and spending. And maybe that will be the downfall of China.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, I have viewed quite a bit of Soviet era clothing, cinema, etc. And it definitely does not measure up to the American mean during the Cold War."

Wasn't it you who said that jeans are the epitome of style? If you thought that the ebola virus was American, you'd probably be proud of it too.

Anonymous said...

"If you really want to defend something, why not pre-Soviet Russia : Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin, etc. Now that is something to gush over."

"Actually, I have viewed quite a bit of Soviet era clothing, cinema, etc."


If you weren't BSing, if you actually knew anything about Soviet cinema, you'd know that a large percentage of Soviet movies were ecranizations of the classics of Russian literature.

And anyone who seriously thinks that jeans are the epitome of style, that superhero movies are OK, etc. would surely be bored by Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin, etc. I've read them and I'm telling this to you now: you won't enjoy them. Try comic books instead.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of Russians are poor, drunk, drug addicted, etc.

I doubt the majority of people making comments like this on this thread have ever been to Russia. As an American who has never been to Russia, I would like to remind my fellow Americans that similar statements can be written about us. Remember we are the nation that has cities like Detroit. We have major drug problems, out-of-wedlock births, a record number of folks not in the workforce, and almost half the population on some sort of government assistance. Even wealthy Americans that should have class, the Kardashians, do not and are trash. And BTW we seem to be intent on accelerating this trend by importing the drecks of the third world.

In 2014 for Americans to be putting down Russians, or any other civilized nation, is like the pot calling the kettle black.

kaganovitch said...

The drabness of soviet era clothing was western propaganda?? Surely you jest- The design aesthetic that brought us the Zil, the Zis and the Trabant was magically transformed into ferragamo when transposed to the shmatte sector?? I want whatever this guy is smoking.

Anonymous said...

As for Jewish participation in America's armed forces in WW2:
"During World War II, approximately 500,000 American Jews served in the various branches of the United States armed services. Roughly 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards." (via WIKIPEDIA)
Jewish casualities in the US armed forces: The total number of Jewish war casualties was 38,338
That does not sound "sporadic" to me.


Except that these Wikipedia stats are not at all supported by the article referenced...
500,000 American Jews serving implies that they were over-represented at least 2X in the USA military (13,000,000 total surved during WWII). Do you really find that believable? 38,338 Jewish war casualties implies that Jews were over-represented 5X in military deaths (420,000 total for the USA in WWII). Do you really find that believable?

Anonymous said...

MMMM, only if one thinks that the Russian version of Essex girl style is something to admire....

Taking into account also this commenter's frequent use of "dear boy", the overall effect is one of either deep insecurity, or unhealthy fixation on Michael Sheen's vampire aristocrat in Twilight, or possibly both.

Mr. Anon said...

"Simon in London said...

A big plot point in Saving Private Ryan was the German POW they release instead of killing. He comes back later and kills several American soldiers. The film's message that it's a good idea to kill prisoners seemed quite shocking to me at the time."

I don't think that was the message of the movie. There is a scene, earlier on during the D-Day landing, when two Wehrmacht soldiers try to surrender to a couple of GIs. They have their hands up and are actually speaking in Czech, trying to tell the Americans that they were drafted by the Germans and don't want to fight. The Americans murder them in cold-blood and make fun of them. Of course, the Americnas had no idea they were czech, not german, and as they had just come through the horror of the beach landing, they probably didn't care anyway, and it's hard to blame them.

The overriding message of "Saving Private Ryan", as near as I could discern it, is that war really sucks - it's just a big amoral meat-grinder - semi-organized murder on an industrial scale. I actually think that Steven Spielberg should get a Nobel Peace Prize for his serious war movies - "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List". He, more than any other film director, has actually tried to portray the obscene butchery of warfare. In doing so he has perhaps done a greater service to the cause of peace than most of that award's recipients. Every sixteen year old boy with naive ideas of martial glory should be forced to watch "Saving Private Ryan".

Anonymous said...

The name/ethnicity of the (broadly speaking) colony-supervising bad guys in James Cameron's two outer space epics is mildly interesting. In "Aliens", Carter Burke has a whitebread Anglo name, although the surname is Irishy. In "Avatar", the first name barely changes, but the surname is a full on WASPfest. Parker Selfridge! Reassuring to know that even in the distant future those dastardly Anglos will still be around to run things and discriminate against alien ethnic minorities.

Also, Carter Burke may have been written as some kind of WASP, but Paul Reiser (inadvertently) plays him as a full-on devious little tribesman.

Anonymous said...

"The overriding message of "Saving Private Ryan", as near as I could discern it, is that war really sucks - it's just a big amoral meat-grinder - semi-organized murder on an industrial scale."

The violence is pretty horrifying in the opening scene, but the final battle is very gungho and heroic, with 'angels' arriving to save the day.

Also, the anti-war message gets lost because we see the war experience humanizing and ennobling the men. After they go through several battles, they are shown to be 'better' men. So, the carnage becomes justified for the Americans at least.

They earn the right to ask 'oh goo goo, have I been a goood man?'

David said...

>Taking into account also this commenter's frequent use of "dear boy", the overall effect is one of either deep insecurity, or unhealthy fixation on Michael Sheen's vampire aristocrat in Twilight, or possibly both.<

More like a Beau Brummel - V.I. Lenin death match.

Anonymous said...

Every sixteen year old boy with naive ideas of martial glory should be forced to watch "Saving Private Ryan".

Didn't do anything to deter teenaged me.

Samuel Johnson said...

Also, the anti-war message gets lost because we see the war experience humanizing and ennobling the men.

Every man think meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.

Steve Sailer said...

Somebody should make a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead-style inverse war movie where the main character is the anonymous victim of a famous cinematic hero: e.g., some poor Turkish corporal who gets blown up by Lawrence of Arabia while finally heading home on leave. It wouldn't make any money, but it would be good to know it existed. You could call it "Zero Sum."

Steve Sailer said...

"Every man think meanly of himself for not having been a soldier."

When I was being interviewed in court for jury duty, they made a big deal about telling the exact truth, so when asked "Did you have the opportunity to serve your country?" I replied, "Yes."

"In which branch?"

"I didn't say I served my country, I said I had the opportunity to serve my country."

By the way, this doesn't get you out of serving your county on a jury.

Peter the Shark said...

There was very little casual clothing in the Soviet Union.

Right. A country where people would walk around on trains in track suits had "no casual clothing". The ignorance about Russia in alt-right circles is mind boggling. Conservatives in 1984 were far more correct about Russia than Conservatives in 2014.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"38,338 Jewish war casualties implies that Jews were over-represented 5X in military deaths (420,000 total for the USA in WWII). Do you really find that believable?"

The normal US usage of 'casualty' includes wounded, not just fatalities.

Simon in London said...

Mr Anon:
" There is a scene, earlier on during the D-Day landing, when two Wehrmacht soldiers try to surrender to a couple of GIs. They have their hands up and are actually speaking in Czech, trying to tell the Americans that they were drafted by the Germans and don't want to fight. The Americans murder them in cold-blood and make fun of them. "

Basically the same scene in The Longest Day. Germans try to surrender, crying "Bitte! Bitte!" American machineguns them, then says "Wonder what Bitte means?"

James Kabala said...

What about TV? Wasn't Mission:Impossible (the series, not the Cruise movies) mostly about fighting Communism in various Eastern European and Latin American locales, or am I mistaken? And of course Boris Badenov (mentioned in the article) was also from TV.

James Kabala said...

Or maybe not (or at least only semi-explicitly):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission:_Impossible#Cold_War_subtext

Anonymous said...

"The overriding message of "Saving Private Ryan", as near as I could discern it, is that war really sucks - it's just a big amoral meat-grinder - semi-organized murder on an industrial scale. I actually think that Steven Spielberg should get a Nobel Peace Prize for his serious war movies - "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List". He, more than any other film director, has actually tried to portray the obscene butchery of warfare. In doing so he has perhaps done a greater service to the cause of peace than most of that award's recipients. Every sixteen year old boy with naive ideas of martial glory should be forced to watch "Saving Private Ryan""

Worked for me, but I wasn't a teenaged boy. Actually it's not teenagers who start wars; it's middle-aged politicians and bankers.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

The violence is pretty horrifying in the opening scene, but the final battle is very gungho and heroic, with 'angels' arriving to save the day."

The last battle includes the following:

1.) A bunch of GIs being shot to pieces with an anti-aircraft gun - literally shot to pieces; you can see them disintigrating.

2.) Wounded, mutilated GIs trying to crawl to safety being shot in the back at close range.

3.) A GI slowly stabbed to death, after his comrade dies from having been shot in the throat.

I didn't find it really gung-ho and heroic - just squalid and depressing.

Svigor said...

Russians' penchant for pointy shoes forever damns their fashion sense to the First Circle AFAIC.

Anonymous said...

Anon said "
As for Jewish participation in America's armed forces in WW2:

"During World War II, approximately 500,000 American Jews served in the various branches of the United States armed services. Roughly 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards." (via WIKIPEDIA)

Jewish casualities in the US armed forces: The total number of Jewish war casualties was 38,338

That does not sound "sporadic" to me."

Yes, I saw the same wikipedia article that you did. Did you go any further and see where wikipedia sourced that number?

Hint: Find out what AJHS stands for.

Jewish VOLUNTEER participation is the US armed forces in WW2 was similar to current levels: extremely low.

I don't dispute some were drafted.

Anonymous said...

Every man think meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.

I didn't.

The only thing I think meanly of myself is not being the total nihilist bastard that I was treated as.

Anonymous said...

Somebody should make a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead-style inverse war movie where the main character is the anonymous victim of a famous cinematic hero: e.g., some poor Turkish corporal who gets blown up by Lawrence of Arabia while finally heading home on leave. It wouldn't make any money, but it would be good to know it existed. You could call it "Zero Sum."

The closest match would be LIFE OF BRIAN, which is not about the victim OF a cinematic hero, but a poor nameless shmuck in the same shoes as a cinematic hero.

Cail Corishev said...

Magnum p.i., in the 1980s, didn't have Soviets on the screen all that often, but those who were were bad guys. It may have been the first TV show after Vietnam to portray the veterans as good guys, too (the higher-ups in the US military come off somewhat mixed).

Anonymous said...

As for Jewish participation in America's armed forces in WW2:

"During World War II, approximately 500,000 American Jews served in the various branches of the United States armed services. Roughly 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards." (via WIKIPEDIA)

Jewish casualities in the US armed forces: The total number of Jewish war casualties was 38,338

That does not sound "sporadic" to me."

Anonymous:"Yes, I saw the same wikipedia article that you did. Did you go any further and see where wikipedia sourced that number?

Hint: Find out what AJHS stands for."


Are you implying that the American Jewish Historical Society is incorrect in its figures? If so, feel free to provide alternative ones.



Anonymous:"Jewish VOLUNTEER participation is the US armed forces in WW2 was similar to current levels: extremely low.

I don't dispute some were drafted."

Do you have any figures for how many Jews volunteered vs how many were drafted during World War 2? Do you have any figures for how those rates compare with other ethnic groups (Greek Americans, Italian Americans, etc)?

Anonymous said...

Some figures on Jewish Americans in WW2:

Jewish percentage of US population in 1940: 3.7 %

Jewish percentage of the US armed forces in WW2: 4.23 %

Seems that American Jews were participating in the War at a rate that exceeded their share of the population. That Does not seem "sporadic" to me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Except that these Wikipedia stats are not at all supported by the article referenced...
500,000 American Jews serving implies that they were over-represented at least 2X in the USA military (13,000,000 total surved during WWII). Do you really find that believable?"

Yes. Jews composed 3.7 % of the US population in 1940 and 4.23 % of the armed forces.

Anonymoys:" 38,338 Jewish war casualties implies that Jews were over-represented 5X in military deaths (420,000 total for the USA in WWII). Do you really find that believable?"

Casualties, in this case, includes both the wounded and the killed. So, yes, 38,338 total Jewish dead and wounded sounds quite believable.

Total number of Jewish deaths in the armed forces in WW2: 11,000
Total Combat deaths: 7,000. (via Jewish Virtual Library)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"If you weren't BSing, if you actually knew anything about Soviet cinema, you'd know that a large percentage of Soviet movies were ecranizations of the classics of Russian literature. "

Yes, and a huge percentage of those ecranisations were wretched things, drab beyond all hope of redemption. Only the naive would think that adapting a classic work to film is a sign of quality. For a Hollywood comparison, compare Huston's adaptation of the THE MALTESE FALCON (a good piece of middlebrow fiction) to his adaptation of MOBY DICK. The film FALCON beats the WHALE all hollow.Never mistake pretension for quality, dear boy.

Anonymous:"And anyone who seriously thinks that jeans are the epitome of style,"

Only when worn by the stylish, dear boy.

Anonymous:" that superhero movies are OK, etc."

And why shouldn't they be OK, dear boy? Art thrives where it thrives. Look at the "vulgar" Hitchcock. His VERTIGO (a genre film) now sits atop the 2012 SIGHT AND SOUND POLL.Hitchcock took the thriller and made art out of it.


Anonymous:" would surely be bored by Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin, etc. I've read them and I'm telling this to you now: you won't enjoy them. Try comic books instead."

Oh, but I have read them, dear boy. Pushkin, I must confess, is not much of a personal favorite, but, then again, he does not translate well.But Tolstoy (surely the greatest novelist of the 19th century; I've always had a special fondness for the novella-length KREUTZER SONATA), Gogol ("Viy" and "The Nose" are probably my two favorites of his stories) and Chekhov (after Shakespeare, surely the greatest of dramatists)are three of my favorite authors.Surely every Russian breast should swell with pride at the thought of such men....And shrink in horror at what befell the country of Gogol, Chekhov,and Tolstoy during the Soviet epoch.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Wasn't it you who said that jeans are the epitome of style? If you thought that the ebola virus was American, you'd probably be proud of it too."

Nothing is intrinsically stylish, dear boy. Americans made jeans stylish.They took a proletarian style and made it chic and romantic. Just as the Soviets took the gentleman's suit and made it ugly and drab. It's all about the execution.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Americans never made jeans look stylish. It took Europeans to do that"

Hardly. They simply aped the Americans styles that they saw on that most glamorous of things, the Silver Screen. They were just trying to be as cool as the Hollywood icons that they adored.

Anonymous said...

In general, Cold War movie bad guys were far more often the CIA, the oil companies, the military-industrial complex, the rich, and so forth and so on.

This gives me an opportunity to put in a plug for my favorite paranoid 60's thriller/comedy, The President's Analyst, in which the villains turns out to be..., well, I don't want to spoil it, but it's not the Russians.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sailer mentions John Milius; it's telling that one of Hollywood's few right-wingers probably contributed more than any other single person to the development of the modern Action Movie- think of all today's big-budget blockbusters that clearly owe their existence to the success and influence of Dirty Harry, Apocalypse Now!, and Conan the Barbarian. Steve has already explained that Apocalypse was actually a pro-war movie, protestations of critics to the contrary notwithstanding; this is related to his old point that Liberal Hollywood makes movies that are more conservative than you'd expect. Hollywood lefties can't invent useful formulas that please their conservative audiences, but they're very good at imitating one when some oddball right-winger discovers it. (Witness the little minor boomlet of religious costume dramas that were released in the years after Passion of the Christ).


That's not to say that they don't have their strengths. Liberal Hollywood, at least in its golden age, was always pretty good at making movies about civil rights- To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men are superbly made films about the important right of due process and protection against false conviction (though I'm convinced that the defendant in Twelve was guilty as sin, and I'm told by people who know more about the law than I do that Henry Fonda's character may have created grounds for a mistrial). I can't think of very many genuinely memorable films before Dirty Harry though, that packed a visceral emotional punch and were about the right of the public not to be victimized by depraved sociopaths who hide behind their civil rights. (In retrospect, the original Dirty Harry is not a great movie- it's another one of those meandering films calling out for a stripped-down "Editor's Cut"- but it also looks worse today because it's been skillfully imitated and improved upon so many times since).

Svigor said...

Seems that American Jews were participating in the War at a rate that exceeded their share of the population. That Does not seem "sporadic" to me.

Correct. Jews were over-represented in WWII participation, from what I've read. Reasonably represented in Korean War participation. Almost entirely absent after that:

Jews and the Armed Forces of the U.S.A.

David said...

>Never mistake pretension for quality, dear boy.<

Is it even necessary to comment on this quotation?

>Milius<

Don Siegel produced and directed "Dirty Harry." Not Milius. Bogdanovich said Siegel told him he was anxious that his liberal peers would read him out of town because of the movie.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/18/us/admiral-in-suicide-note-apologized-to-my-sailors.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Anonymous said...

'Don Siegel produced and directed "Dirty Harry."'

Correct, but Milius was an uncredited contributor to the script, and many of the most memorable lines were his.

Anonymous said...


I believe some of the changing view of Russians is an accurate reflection of Russian demographic changes.

The problem is the Soviets deported, killed, or otherwise caused a great deal of the intelligentsia (Russian word, BTW) to no longer exist. The people at the top now are barely a shadow of Russia's former elites. A lot of them left to Paris (and other places) in the early part of the last century, and I don't think it's a coincidence that I frequently see Russian surnames in French cultural productions.