Does liking some of these movies make me a racist?


Why do I do it? Why? It only raises my blood pressure and probably contributes to atherosclerosis, stress, and all sorts of other things likely to shorten my lifespan. But I do it anyway. In my interest in Holocaust denial, I keep an eye on a fair number of Holocaust denial and white nationalist (or, as I like to call them, white power rangers) sites. It’s usually the vile stuff that you’d expect, replete nasty and vicious attacks on Jews, blacks, or any other race that is “destroying our nation” or race or worse, diluting it out with all sorts of horrific multicultural miscegenation. Occasionally, though, I find something that’s just weird.

So it was when I came across a list of “Aryan movies.” The introduction states:

Remember, none of these films except Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will are ideologically perfect. They do, after all, come out of Hollywood.

Well, I should hope not. Movies thought “ideologically perfect” by white power rangers are in general quite disturbing. Birth of a Nation, though, despite its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan, was, alas, a stylistically and technically innovative film for its time; its blatant racism was, unfortunately, a product of its time. Given that, it’s of interest primarily for its history. Triumph of the Will, of course, was pure Nazi propaganda, nothing more than unadulterated Hitler worship. Sadly, it, too, was a technically and stylistically innovative film for its time.

Still from "The Birth of a Nation"

The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Directed by D.W. Griffith
Shown: Walter Long (as Gus) surrounded by Ku Klux Klan members.

Our white power ranger continues:

The following is a suggested list of flicks that have something of racial or moral significance to say to us, buried deep under all the Hollywood crap and propaganda.

My curiousity was piqued. What films were on the list? Take a look. (Don’t worry, as long as you don’t go elsewhere on the blog, there isn’t anything in the linked post that’s too disgusting, and I did make sure to use the rel=”nofollow” tag.)

Some are rather expected, like Birth of a Nation, Zulu, Triumph of the Will, and Gone With the Wind, and the execrable 1980s B movie Red Dawn. No surprises there. Some were unexpected to me, but, upon further reflection, I could understand why they might appeal to white power rangers. These films included films like Braveheart (the Scottish rebel who would rather die than submit), Rob Roy (about another Scottish rebel who would not submit, except without the torture, disembowelment, and beheading at the end), and Excalibur (white power rangers love to imagine themselves bold knights in a fantastical white paradise that never really existed).

But then there are some downright weird choices. For example, The Outlaw Josey Wales may portray a Union officer as the main villain, but the title character accumulates a bunch of Native Americans as part of his little band. That may not be entirely weird, but what about the inclusion of Soylent Green? I suppose you can view it as a mirror of white power ranger fears that the nonwhite races are out-proliferating whites, although I don’t recall any sort of racial message in the movie; it was a movie about overpopulation, which was one of the huge concerns of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Then there’s They Live! I suppose if you analogize the aliens disguised as humans from that movie to some sort of racial invasion, you might be able to link the movie to white power ranger beliefs, but it’s tenuous at best.

Then there’s Lord of the Rings. Man, I get so tired of seeing one of my favorite stories of all time, if not my favorite, held up by white power rangers as a story that supports their views. True, I can see how it would be very easy for these clowns to analogize Sauron’s minions, Orcs, to the sort of views they have about blacks and Hispanics supposedly overrunning the U.S. It’s not hard to imagine that. True, J.R.R. Tolkien clearly romanticizes and mythologizes English country living in a way that resonates with white power rangers. True, Tolkien was also clearly suspicious of modernity and equated industrialization with the destruction of of a way of life he loved. None of this, however, means that Tolkien’s work is a racist. They also forget that one of the key plot elements consisted of the four main races in the story (men, elves, dwarves, and Hobbits) working together to destroy Sauron as the fellowship of the ring. Multiculturalism!

Moreover, there is evidence from Tolkien’s own writings of what he thought of Hitler and his racial policies. For example, here’s an excerpt from a letter to Stanley Unwin dated July 25, 1938 in response to a letter from his German publishers considering a German translation of The Hobbit to ask him if he was “Aryan” in origin:

I must say the enclosed letter from Rütten and Loening is a bit stiff. Do I suffer this impertinence because of the possession of a German name, or do their lunatic laws require a certificate of ‘arisch‘ origin from all persons of all countries?

Personally I should be inclined to refuse to give any Bestätigung (although it happens that I can), and let a German translation go hang. In any case I should object strongly to any such declaration appearing in print. I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.

Tolkien was a product of his time as well. While he also despised Hitler’s racial policies, he also was not above writing that the orcs were “degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.” Some of the ideas he had do seem somewhat racist in the year 2008, but he was actually probably less racist than most of his contemporaries. In any case, for the movie versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson pretty much scrubbed any hint of troublesome material from the books, given that these movies were made in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The bottom line is that, for many of these movies, seeing an “Aryan” message is nothing more than a case of this particular white power ranger seeing what he wants to see in a movie. And I’m not a racist for liking some of these movies.