INGLOURIOUS CRITICS OF THE INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
Now, not everyone has to like Quentin Tarantino, or his magnum opus Inglourious Basterds. There's different strokes for different folks, and some folks just don't appreciate art. Perhaps you find the violence of a war movie unpleasant to watch. There might even be a few legitimate aesthetic objections. But then there are some folks who object on foolish lefty ideological grounds. As Lt Aldo Raine would say, that I cannot abide. So I want to take a minute to address a couple of foolish examples.
Daniel Mendelsohn was unhappy about the portrayal of Jewish-American soldiers mimicking Nazi atrocities done to European Jews. "In Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino indulges this taste for vengeful violence byŚwell, by turning Jews into Nazis....in history, Nazis carved Stars of David into the chests of rabbis before killing them; here, the "basterds" carve swastikas into the foreheads of those victims whom they leave alive."
This guy is indulging some obvious ideological foolishness that causes him to talk stupid. Killing and mutilating Nazis does not make YOU a Nazi. It makes you a good guy. See, the Nazis had an evil army bent on world conquest that horribly terrorized, tortured and murdered tens of millions of innocent people. Stopping them by any means necessary was the only thing to do. Marking a Nazi goon for life to strike fear into his fellow murdering Nazis is completely not the same thing as carving up a peaceful cleric just for fun before you murder him.
It's truly a moral obscenity to liken Jews to Nazis, as is done routinely in the Middle East of 2009 - and among even a lot of stupid spoiled white Westerners who choose not to understand the wickedness of Muslim jihadists set on destroying Israel, Jews and pretty much all Westerners and non-believers. It is, if anything, a step worse to choose not to understand the difference between 1944 Nazis and Jews in particular fighting back to stop them.
Also, let's unpack this second bit of ideological foolishness mislabeled as a movie review from a Mr Don Jeffries on the IMDB page for the movie
For starters, this guy has it just exactly 100% backwards to describe this movie as "political correctness gone amuck." The term "political correctness" in America and Western nations basically means social enforcement of left-wing liberal beliefs. The politically correct position is to be hypersensitive to the US or allies engaging in any form of so-called "torture." Tarantino's movie clearly, on the other hand, glorifies torture and cruelty. Lt Raine's not even trying to extract information to stop a ticking bomb. He's just doing it to put the fear of God into some Nazis.
Also even more distinctly separating this from being politically correct is that the major protagonists are vengeful Jews. All decent, enlightened people in 2009 know that Israel is an oppressive state - often in fact compared to the Nazis, even by some Westerners of non-Muslim/Arab background. This is a stupid position for them to take, but even now President Obama is leaning on how to screw Israel while clearly signaling that we're ready to accept nuclear Iranian Mullahs. Modern Jews acting like Shosanna or the basterds do not compute to acceptability in that code.
But let's dissect his first premise "He is the Larry Flynt of violence; reveling in it, smearing it all over the screen, forcing the viewer to overdose on it. His films are all about violence for its own sake." This sounds to me like the criticism of someone who has never watched his films. His films are not "all about violence," though Kill Bill Vol 1 might be so mistaken. But for being a war movie, Inglourious Basterds has, I'd guess, about a half hour at most of active violence. Most of the film is dialogue - storytelling and character development.
As to being the "Larry Flynt" of violence, Tarantino isn't even close. For starters, there's more intense and realistic and horrid violence from Steven Spielberg in the first half hour of Saving Private Ryan than in the entirety of Tarantino's output - again, give or take the fairly cartoonish first half of Kill Bill. The scalping theme that makes such a big impression in this movie really involves no more than a minute of screen time. Scalping the corpses of already dead bodies isn't really even violent, any more than plucking a dead chicken before you cook it. It's certainly not 1% as horrifying as the Spielberg scenes of guys screaming in agony with their intestines spilling out on the ground beside them.
In the truth, Tarantino mostly uses a relatively minimal amount of carnage to make his point. Note for example that we never see blood or bodies of Shosanna's family being massacred under the floor by the Nazis. For a modern war movie, this really features a minimum of gore.
Our "heroes" do nothing laudatory at all throughout the movie, except to violently destroy "bad guys." But violently destroying wicked and murderous people is an entirely laudatory act. There's no "might makes right" credo from the basterds. They're right because they're the good guys who are trying to stop the genocidal Nazis. Lt Raine is giving them a dose of their own medicine. He's got a fairly Old Testament morality, but clearly a morality nonetheless.
Lt Raine is clearly making calculated moral judgments. He's not carrying on about some code, or literally invoking the Bible, but he repeatedly expresses moral calculations about what he can and cannot accept. Listen to his final explanation to Landa. Alright, the Nazi gets to go to America and have a cushy retirement. Well, he's just ended the war, and that's worthy of some consideration. But he's going to take off that uniform and not be known or counted for what he was. "And that, I cannot abide." That is distinctly the sound of someone making nuanced moral calculations.
The real point here is the wickedness of our critic Don Jeffries. There's a world of wickedness implied by his felt need of putting scare quotes around describing Nazis as "bad guys." That is, the quotes indicate that he does not agree with that basic description. Indeed, somehow he found himself absolutely feeling "sympathy" for the FLIPPIN' NAZIS. No, that would NOT be the likely reaction of any person with a recognizable sense of decency.
But the worst thing with Mr Jeffries here is his corruption of art and ideology. Anyone who has a clue will tell you that Quentin Tarantino is a unique creative genius. You might disapprove of what he has to say in some aspects, or just generally not particularly dig him. But recognize the talent. Jeffries basically is denouncing Tarantino for ideological reasons, eg that Tarantino's film does not support his evil moral relativism. He does not support my ideology, so he's got no talent and his movies are just stupid. And not being able to make that basic distinction between art and ideology is just childish and dumb.
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