Thursday, September 10, 2009

a socialist reponse to Joe Allen's review of "Inglourious Basterds"

In his review of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Joe Allen presumes we have asked ourselves who the heroes are in this movie. He’s wrong. It’s pretty clear to us, Joe. The heroes are the ones killing the Nazis.

The Basterds exist to terrorize and undermine the morale of a genocidal fascist army occupying France. By recounting their exploits as “war crimes,” Joe displays shameful moral equivalence. We unapologetically defend the violence committed against fascists in Spain, during the Jewish resistance, and we should celebrate it on screen.

Far from a “bedtime story” reaffirming the U.S. as the “benevolent defender of freedom,” Tarantino’s film makes a point of setting U.S. racism next to Nazi fascism. In the middle of a drinking game, a Gestapo officer easily confuses the capture of King Kong with the story of American slavery. The King Kong reference, a film notorious for its racial undertones, is Tarantino’s challenge for film history to acknowledge itself. Similar to Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna, a response to the racism in Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers.

Like so much else, this point was lost on Joe.

But what we can’t lose sight of is that liberal pacifism is no response to fascist barbarity.

“Nazi ain't got no humanity. They're the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin', mass murderin' maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed.”


  1. Hahaha my thoughts exactly. This might be the first review I've read that doesn't apologize for or dance around backing kraut terrorizing and annihilation. I also like that you pointed out how there was a sort of prevalent comparison of US racism to the Nazis. All the racist things the Nazis said about blacks could sound a lot like white Americans at the time.

  2. While I can definitely get behind the whole "the only good Nazi is a dead Nazi" idea, I think there is a huge difference between violence from below and violence from above.

    The violence against fascists in Spain and against Nazis by the Jewish resistance cannot be equated with the violence between two capitalist world powers.