The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 Max West Archive
Dragged Across Concrete (2019) and the Art of Cinematic Trolling
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Since the 1960s, there have been sporadic reactions in film against emergent liberal hegemonies in culture. In the early 1970s, when the social changes borne of the countercultural 1960s were, in very short order, becoming the mainstream culture and translating into the disastrous social policies of that era, there were occasional sympathetic depictions from Hollywood which channeled White discontent and a growing White male anxiety — for example, Dirty Harry (1971), The French Connection (1971), Death Wish (1974), and Taxi Driver (1976) — but by the 1990s, articulation of this anxiety (which, as a sociological phenomenon became hardened, not softened, through decades of collective experience) was largely expressed, ironically, through unsympathetically depicted characters — for example, Falling Down (1993) and American History X (1998)[1]In her 1972 review of Dirty Harry, Pauline Kael infamously referred to the film as “fascist” and “deeply immoral”, a “right-wing fantasy of that police force as a group helplessly emasculated by unrealistic liberals.” The pendulum swing back towards a distinctively liberal spin on the vigilante film genre stretches back to the anti-Reagan hysteria of the 1980s, through films such as The Star Chamber (1983)..

Since this time, the Hollywood filmmaking pipeline has become thematically constricted by a radical surge of political correctness and leftwing, agenda-driven depictions of race and racial conflict. Unspoken rules ensure that any film dealing with race ultimately settles on the side of predictable, leftwing, social justice platitudes. (Various Oscar-winning films of recent years attest to this.) As such, when it comes to subjects such as racial conflict, the effects of mass immigration, or the plight of Whites in America, there is simply no diversity of opinion coming out of Tinseltown. Creatively, this has led to a metastasizing sameness, a bland and boring creative funk, to mainstream films that touch upon such subjects.

In terms of the sociology of filmmaking, the significance of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) was to demonstrate — in stark, jaw-dropping, financial terms — the profound imbalance between the demand for ‘conservative’ films and the sparse supply of such films coming out of a leftwing, Jewish-dominated Hollywood system. Passion was independently produced and distributed by Gibson’s Icon Productions, going on to earn over $600 million worldwide, and currently stands as the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history. (The film also confronted strong rebuke and charges of anti-Semitism from prominent Jewish individuals and organizations.) Gibson’s next film Apocalypto (2006), also produced by Icon Productions, depicted violent, genocidal, tribal conflict in sixteenth century Mexico, and alluded to the eclipse and decline of Mayan civilization, emphasized in the film’s penultimate scene of Spanish Christian conquistadors arriving by ship to the jungle’s coast, with the indigenous locals looking on in awe. (Not surprisingly, Apocalypto was castigated in some quarters for harboring racist and colonialist apologetics.)

In the same way that Icon Productions has helped fill the vacuum of unmet demand for more conservative, religious, and un-PC films, Cinestate, a B-movie production company located in Dallas, Texas, and “backed by an anonymous Texas oil heiress” (Schwartzel), is producing films that deviate from the stultifying liberal guard rails. Cinestate’s business strategy revolves around a target audience of cinematically-disenfranchised Red Staters. “If we can make a movie that does not treat them as losers, or ask how dare they vote a certain way, or pander to them,” notes Cinestate founder and CEO producer (and Texas-native) Joseph “Dallas” Sonnier, “naturally they’re going to respond in a positive way.” “It’s funny,” he adds, “that, in this moment in time, the movies we’re making are almost counterculture” (ibid)[2]For more on Cinestate’s eclectic business model, see Miller (2019). For the fascinating backstory of how Sonnier turned extreme personal tragedy (the separate murders of both of his parents) into the fuel to put all his personal finances on the line towards making Bone Tomahawk, see Simek (2016).. That being said, Sonnier doesn’t see Cinestate’s films as being made for “Trump supporters,” as liberal media profiles are wont to do. “I didn’t even vote for the guy,” he says. “I don’t necessarily crave a conservative audience, but that may be an outcome, and it wouldn’t surprise me. I understand that audience deeply. But it’s not a mission statement” (Miller).

For instance, The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2018), produced by Cinestate, is an impressive debut by writer/director Henry Dunham. Made for only $500,000, and with a respective 73% Rotten Tomatoes score, the film is a compelling whodunit think-piece that, in its dialogue-driven stagecraft, harkens to Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992). Plot-wise, Sparrow pivots around White militias and police investigations into them, and features an all-White cast (virtually unheard of today) comprised of established character actors.

Cinestate has also released the three films made by writer/director S. Craig Zahler to date: Bone Tomahawk (2015), Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017), and Dragged Across Concrete (2019). Even within mainstream film criticism, Zahler is being heralded for elevating the mechanics of B-movie pulp into serious film. From one perspective, Zahler traffics in grindhouse exploitation tropes; from another, he is a post-Tarantino, closeted conservative auteur.

Even when working from within these independent film production outlets, filmmakers with non-liberal perspectives are increasingly forced to allegorically encode their views in ever more creative ways, akin to how White identitarians and White nationalists are increasingly forced to encode their language (through memes, irony, and surrogate words and phrases) on social media platforms. This is especially true for filmmakers expressing iconoclastic political views on race or the effects of mass immigration, such as Ruben Östlund’s recent film The Square (2017). Zahler is clearly in this camp, and from this perspective, his films can be interpreted as episodes of cinematic trolling. From his deliberate casting of known conservatives Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, and Don Johnson, Zahler seems to delight in provoking liberal intolerance, pushing their buttons to elicit a response. (This will be discussed in more detail below.) In the scope of this essay, I will focus on some of Dragged’s more salient references to race, as well as to feminism and the consequences of our feminized culture in general.

As I previously addressed in more detail in my review of Brawl, it is also my contention that Jung’s model of art as a manifestation of the creative unconsciousness helps explain both the creation and appeal of various metaphors, allegories, character journeys, and narrative structures that emanate from an artist. To a historically unrivaled degree, Cultural Marxism has succeeded in stifling healthy psychological individuation among Whites, primarily by making taboo any and all outward expression of racial consciousness. In such a repressive climate, works of art that touch upon White racial consciousness (however indirectly or subconsciously) will resonate. One can argue that the collective unconscious of an increasingly dispossessed White America is the ‘demand’, with the ‘supply’ being those works of art and culture which satisfy the psyche. Whether through movies, music, memes, or literature, Jung’s unconscious Shadow archetype expresses itself as the antithesis of whichever collective personality type is the dominant, actualized, conscious zeitgeist of the day. In reaction to this suppressed and bottled-up aspect of White racial consciousness, the Shadow surfaces vis-à-vis sublimated, metaphorical surrogates.

* * *

Zahler’s influences run the gamut. He’s clearly indebted to classic, violent antihero films of the 1970s (e.g., Don Siegel; Sam Peckinpah; early Martin Scorsese), B-movie grindhouse, as well as neo-iterations of both genres (predominately through the work of Quentin Tarantino). Stylistically, one can discern the influences of Kubrick (in static shots with symmetrical mise-en-scène), Antonioni, and Tarantino. Zahler has professed a longstanding obsession with Akira Kurosawa, but has also had an interest in splatter films (e.g., Sam Raimi, George Romero, Tobe Hooper) since he was a teenager (see Tobias). A prolific writer who has written numerous scripts and novels, Zahler grew up reading pulp horror and dark fantasy (e.g., H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs) as well as classic hard-boiled detective fiction (e.g., Jim Thompson). He is also an accomplished musician who co-writes his own film scores, which are in different genres from soul to jazz, as well as songs for his heavy metal band side project.

With respect to his writing process, Zahler emphasizes that character drives his storylines, not the other way around. “I am not looking for films to express values,” he says. “That’s getting dangerously closer to an ‘agenda movie,’ which is a movie in support of its thesis statement. My characters drive my movies.” (See Tobias). In another interview (Schager), he says: “My writing process is to surprise myself daily. There are always surprises, and a lot of those surprises are a humorous moment, or a revelation about someone’s backstory, or a connection between two characters. That sort of stuff.”

Zahler’s first film, Bone Tomahawk, is set in the American West of the 1890s and revolves around White hero protagonists battling a savage tribe of cannibalistic American Indians, a setting and conflict that immediately makes the hair on a liberal’s neck stand up. When Brawl came out, a film with a contemporary setting, liberal critics were a bit taken aback by the brazen use of racial antagonisms, as well as the ‘racist’ language of its protagonist, but such critics missed many of Zahler’s deeper race-centric themes. The same is true for Dragged Across Concrete.

Plot & Symbolism

SPOILERS AHEAD. The opening scene of the film, as well as the closing scene of the film, feature Henry (aka “Slim”) Johns (Tory Kittles), a late 20s Black male. While Gibson and Vaughn are the A-list actors that Dragged understandably focuses upon, Henry is something of a third protagonist. By film’s end, the paths of all three characters will have crossed, and not necessarily for the better. The opening scene of the film also serves as a troll on diversity: We see Henry, fresh out of prison, having sex with an Asian-American hooker, a girl he knew from school. Henry then returns to his mother’s ghetto apartment building and finds her prostituting herself to a skittish White man. (His mother’s prostitution is notably depicted less from desperation as from a type of laziness, a characterization that will be revisited in the film’s denouement, as this same woman, now wealthy behind her wildest dreams, is not bettering herself per se, but is receiving a massage from a young White male.) Henry chases the scared john out with a baseball bat and, referencing the trash bags in the hallway, commands him to “Take those garbage bags that are outside down to the trash.” The scared White john, out of his element, complies, symbolizing White fear of, and genuflection before, Black aggression and displays of dominance.

“What happened to your job at the grocery?” Henry asks his mother. “I got fired,” she replies. The reason for her firing is left to the audience’s imagination. An exchange of dialogue between Henry and his mother captures the pathologies of the Black underclass, as well as some politically incorrect flourishing which reflects Black underclass attitudes:

Henry: I left you money before I went in, plenty for twice as long.

Mother: It ran out.

Henry: Yeah… And I can see its footprints up and down your arms.

Mother: Look, you ain’t got no right lecturing me about nothing.

Henry: You can’t be doing this. … Hooking, needles… and especially not in front of Ethan at all ever.

Mother: He ain’t a toddler no more.

Henry: And you doing those things around him. … It’ll mess him up permanent.

Mother: So, you gonna take care of us now, huh? Like your cock-sucking father did when he ran off with his faggot-ass boyfriend?

Henry: Pops is a yesterday who ain’t worth words.

Henry promises to help her out financially, but in the meantime, he tells her, “Start organizing yourself and this place.”

Shotgun Safari
Shotgun Safari

Henry then knocks on the bedroom door of his wheelchair-bound younger brother, Ethan (Myles Truitt). (It is implied that Henry went to prison for exacting revenge upon whomever put his younger brother in a wheelchair.) Due to his circumstances, Ethan is addicted to video games and dreams of being a video game creator. The brothers proceed to play a fictitious video game called “Shotgun Safari”, which involves killing lions and other creatures in the wild. A symbol-rich ‘lions’ allegory will occur several times throughout the film, capturing how our society may be regressing back to the law of jungle:

Ethan: Okay. You gotta be careful around these parts. It’s got lions.

Henry: Can we shoot them?

Ethan: Well, yeah, but it’s gonna be pretty hard, unless you have a pump-action shotgun.

Henry: Alright, we get one.

[Ethan shoots lion.]

Henry: Nigga iced that feline!

Ethan: Okay, look, we gotta go. There’s more coming. Okay, once you get across this stream, we gotta look out for boa constrictors.

Henry: This nigga’s ready for a real safari!

Ethan: Even if my legs worked right, I wouldn’t wanna be hunting animals for real. It’s like some rich White people shit.

Henry: Still, you real good at this game.

Additional clues can be found in the soundtrack’s songs “Shotgun Safari” and “Street Corner Felines,” both of which Zahler wrote the lyrics for. “Shotgun Safari” equates the streets of the city as a jungle (“Life after prison ain’t easy / This neighborhood’s no longer safe… Can’t trust the police… Stray dogs roam these streets.”) As is noted further below, with respect to one of the White cop protagonist’s family context, the lion analogy is also made apparent. It is worth noting that the very last image of the film is of a fantastically-enriched Henry and Ethan, living in an expansive mansion, playing “Shotgun Safari” again, with the film’s last line being: “Let’s hunt some lions.”

* * *

Lurasetti & Ridgeman
Lurasetti & Ridgeman

The central plotline of Dragged follows world-weary cops Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) of the Bulwark Police Department. The fictional city name, which conventionally refers to a defensive wall, is likely intended as a metaphor for the encroaching entropy and chaos that creeps forward when walls fall down, or when they fail to be erected altogether, and when police (acting as a bulwark against chaos and incivility) become disengaged due to political correctness.

After staking out a Hispanic drug dealer (Vasquez), Ridgeman and Lurasetti trick Vasquez into attempting to escape out the window onto the fire escape. There, Ridgeman pins Vasquez down, and with his boot on Vasquez’s head, presses him for information, inflicting pain in the process. Unbeknownst to the two cops, another tenant in the building is filming their every move, a nod to the ubiquitous cell phone subculture of urban dwellers filming any and all police encounters. With Vasquez subdued and hand-cuffed to the fire escape, Ridgeman and Lurasetti then enter the apartment and proceed to question Vasquez’s girlfriend, Rosalinda. “Her handbag seemed a little heavy,” says Ridgeman to Lurasetti as the latter inspects it. “You been taking into account the amount of make-up Latinas carry?” quips Lurasetti, before finding a gun in her purse. In a twist on the longstanding tactic of Hispanic criminals pretending to “no habla Ingles” when being questioned, the two feign not being able to understand Rosalinda’s hearing-impaired and broken (but coherent) English. “I didn’t understand that, did you?” Ridgeman asks Lurasetti. “No,” replies Lurasetti. “Sounded kind of like ‘dolphin’.” We see Ridgeman and Lurasetti cruelly renege on their promise that, if Rosalinda tells them where Vasquez hid a duffle bag of drugs and money, they’ll forget about finding the gun in her purse. She tells them where the duffle bag is hidden. Ridgeman then calls for backup and for the arrest of both Vasquez and Rosalinda. “You said if I told you where the bag was, you’ll let me go,” she asks them. “Can you understand her?” Ridgeman rhetorically asks Lurasetti. “No,” Lurasetti replies.

Post-incident, Ridgeman and Lurasetti retreat to their favorite diner for breakfast. Over the diner’s sound system, a song plays, featuring an androgynous-sounding singer. It’s banal pop with politically correct lyrics: “We can be considerate / To people or strangers / Until you get to know them / Ooh.” Ridgeman asks Lurasetti: “This a guy or a girl singing this song?” Lurasetti listens for a bit. “Can’t tell,” he replies. “Not that there’s much of a difference these days,” says Ridgeman. Lurasetti adds, “I think that line was obliterated the day men started saying ‘we’re pregnant’ when their wives were.”

Their breakfast is interrupted by a call summoning them to the office of their boss, Lt. Calvert (Don Johnson). Calvert informs them that the 6 o’clock news will be airing the cell phone video of their heavy-handed interaction with Vasquez[3]The irony of Mel Gibson’s character being caught by video, given Gibson’s own personal history of having audio-recording capture his rants, is surely not lost on Zahler. Such is likely another instance of Zahler’s trolling.:

Calvert: Our inspector… our Mexican-American inspector… is unlikely to be lenient.

Ridgeman: Politics, like always.

Calvert: Like cellphones, and just as annoying, politics are everywhere. Being branded a racist in today’s public forum is like being accused of communism in the ’50s. Whether it’s a possibly offensive remark made in a private phone call or the indelicate treatment of a minority who sells drugs to children, the entertainment industry, formerly known as the news, needs villains.

Lurasetti: There’s certainly nothing hypocritical about the media handling every perceived intolerance with complete and utter intolerance.

Calvert: It’s bullshit. But it’s reality.

Lurasetti: But I’m not a racist. Every Martin Luther King Day, I order a cup of dark roast.”

Ridgeman, Lurasetti, & Lt. Calvert
Ridgeman, Lurasetti, & Lt. Calvert

Both men, who are financially strapped, are put on a 6-week suspension without pay, an event that propels the rest of the film’s events.[4]If interpreted literally, the idea of cops being underpaid requires some suspension of disbelief. However, this may be intended to figuratively represent the hallowing out of White, lower middle-class American wages. Calvert dismisses Lurasetti from the room but asks Ridgeman to stay behind. In the ensuing conversation between these two men with English surnames, the mise-en-scène of the shot highlights the difference between the two. Calvert has played the political game to advance his career, while Ridgeman has stayed true to his old-school, street-cop methods. On Calvert’s side of the desk, we see awards and framed newspaper accolades; on Ridgeman’s side of the desk is only glass and the skyline of Bulwark, a metaphor for how Ridgeman represents the ‘bulwark’ of old, a bulwark against the city being overrun by criminals, against the police being cow-towed by the cell-phone-wielding, ‘snitches get stitches’ constituency.

Calvert: Ridgeman, gotta be aware of this stuff. Digital eyes are everywhere.

Ridgeman: I do what I think best when I’m out there. I was that way when we were partners, and I’m still that way now.

Calvert: There’s a reason I’m sitting behind this desk running things, and you’re out there crouching on fire escapes in the cold for hours, with a partner that’s 20 years younger than you.

Ridgeman: Hey, Anthony’s got a mouth with its own engine, but he’s solid.

Calvert: That wasn’t my point. … I watched that video a couple times. You threw a lot more cast-iron than you needed to. And when we worked together, you weren’t that rough.

Ridgeman: And?

Calvert: It’s not healthy for you, to scuff concrete as long as you have. You get results, but you’re losing perspective and compassion. Couple more years out there and you’re gonna be a human steamroller covered with spikes … and fueled by bile.

Ridgeman: There’s a lot of imbeciles out there.

Calvert: Yeah.

Post-suspension, we see Lurasetti enter Feinbaum’s jewelry store, to pick up the engagement ring he ordered and plans to spring on his mulatto girlfriend, Denise. Zahler, who is himself an atheist Jew (see Schager), canvases the scene with various stereotypical tropes of the Jewish jeweler and credit financier, as well as Jewish occupational choices[5]As a nonreligious Jew, Zahler may see himself as “White.” Zahler’s depiction of Denise as a successful, highly-paid, White collar manager contrasts with Lurasetti as a not highly-paid, not-promoted cop, which may be a commentary on how, in the era of SJW corporations, Persons of Color are to be hired and promoted before Whites. That Denise is eloquent and dating a White cop who makes less than her may also be trolling on the part of Zahler. Evidence for trolling is when Lurasetti mentions that Denise “only shops at organic stores, specializing in assuaging guilt.” With respect to Jewish stereotypes, further evidence that Zahler is willing to troll may be found in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018), an indie horror-comedy about Nazi puppets, which Zahler wrote the screenplay for. In one scene, for instance, the “heroes try to lure these anti-Semitic monsters out of hiding by lighting a menorah” (Tobias).:

Feinbaum the Jeweler
Feinbaum the Jeweler

Lurasetti: I got an issue at work.

Feinbaum: Do you need a payment plan? I’d be more than happy to…

Lurasetti: Thanks. I saved enough for this. It’s a different kind of problem.

Feinbaum: My wife has two brothers who are therapists, and three sisters who were lawyers.

Lurasetti: Well, my problems don’t require those kinds of professionals. I just… I’m thinking about the kind of future I can offer my girlfriend and, you know, that life won’t have a lot of diamonds.

The film eventually cuts to Ridgeman’s teenaged daughter, Sara, walking home alone from school, which is in a non-desirable part of the city where the Ridgemans live. (We’re led to believe that the neighborhood, which the Ridgemans have lived in for many years, has gone downhill.) A group of four Black teenagers hanging out on the street (which naturally implies they are school drop-outs) proceeds to hassle her, one of them on a bike, and carrying a fast food soda cup, peddles up behind her and throws orange soda all over her. The others start laughing. When Sara gets to the family’s building apartment, we see her lock the door’s several bolts while muttering to herself: “I won’t. I won’t.” — a sentiment that may relate to her promise to herself not to “become a racist.” (The locking of doors, and the importance of doing so, is a recurring motif throughout the film. Our multicultural era is one of locked doors and depleted social capital.) Sara’s mother Melanie (Laurie Holden), who is Brett’s wife, walks into the room with a cane (we learn later that she has MS and used to be a cop herself) and comforts her daughter. That evening, Melanie tells Brett about the orange soda incident:

Brett: What kids?

Melanie: The ones she didn’t recognize. Four Blacks, one on a bike. But does it actually matter who? This is the fifth time. This fucking neighborhood. It just keeps getting worse and worse.

Brett: Is she okay?

Melanie: Well, yeah, but coming home from school and walking four blocks shouldn’t be an ordeal.

Brett: No. It shouldn’t. Did you offer to pick her up at the bus, escort her back?

Melanie: Of course I did. She knows it isn’t easy for me to get around a lot. And she’d be too embarrassed anyways.

Brett: Well, she’s got two sets of cop DNA, so of course she’s tough.

Melanie: Yeah, especially for her age and gender. But she’s getting older, more womanly. And these boys are gonna start having different kinds of ideas about her pretty soon, if they don’t already. … You know, I never thought I was a racist before living in this area. I’m about as liberal as any ex-cop could ever be. But now… We really need to move.

Brett: I know.

Melanie: No. Yesterday or the day before.

Brett: I know.[6]This dialogue expressing the Ridgemans’ fear of their daughter getting raped by Black teenagers is not only a rational fear within the context of the film (and for Whites living among urban Blacks in general), but may be a troll regarding an infamous secret recording Mel Gibson’s former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva made of him. “You look like a fucking pig in heat,” Gibson can be heard yelling at her. “If you get raped by a pack of niggers, it’ll be your fault.”

Ridgeman knocks on his daughter’s bedroom door and invites her to watch “that show about the lion cubs.” We then see them both sitting on the couch, watching a documentary which shows a lion cub with its mother. “They’re so cute before they get big,” says Sara. As mentioned earlier, at several different points in the film, a lion allegory is used to represent both the violent lengths a White father will go to support his wife and daughter (Ridgeman), the similar lengths a young Black man will go to provide for his brother and mother (Henry), as well as the lengths a criminal, in the generic sense, will go (in killing a lion, lioness, or cub) for sport or to help their own non-lion kind (e.g., the psychopathic bank robbers wantonly murdering innocents.) There may be a deeper sociological relevance for the “Shotgun Safari” video game that Henry and his younger brother play; while Henry’s motivations in this film are noble, Zahler may be trolling here, given the sociological reality of Black males committing the vast majority of society’s violent crime. In other words, the likelihood of Henry representing the typical Black ex-con is likely quite remote.

With his mind made up to rob a presumed drug dealer, we see Ridgeman enter a shopping mall, en route to visit criminal-world-liaison Friedrich (Udo Kier), whose front is a high-end men’s clothing store. Upon entering the Mall, Ridgeman sees scantily clad, un-chaperoned, teenaged girls coming down the escalator. With a disgusted, yet worried, expression on his face, Ridgeman conveys an entire dialogue with just a heavy sigh, realizing that this picture may be what’s in store for his daughter. In Friedrich’s dimly lit, well apportioned office (the lighting reminiscent of The Godfather; the stuffed bird harkening to Psycho), Ridgeman makes his Faustian bargain.

On the first night of their illicit stakeout of Lorentz Vogelmann (Thomas Kretschmann), whom Ridgeman believes is just a drug dealer, Ridgeman waits for Lurasetti on a street corner at night. While waiting, Ridgeman sees two hoods climbing a fence, obviously intending to rob a business, but Ridgeman does not act and no longer cares. A hint of nihilism creeps in and is accentuated with Ridgeman’s quasi-market-economics version of morality; he tells Lurasetti that anything they do from that point on is strictly for the payoff, not loyalty or friendship. When Lurasetti, already in too deep with Ridgeman’s plot, realizes the full extent of Ridgeman’s ambitions, he demands answers from Ridgeman on why he is doing this:

Ridgeman: I’m a month away from my 60th. I’m still the same rank I was at 27. For a lot of years, I believed that the quality of my work, what we do together, what I did with my previous partners, would get me what I deserved. But I don’t politic and I don’t change with the times. And it turns out that thatshit’s more important than good honest work. So yesterday, after we stop a massive amount of drugs from getting into the school system, we get suspended because it wasn’t done politely. When I go home and I find my daughter has been assaulted for the fifth time in two years, because of the shit neighborhood my shit wage has forced me to live in. And my wife can’t help. She’s barely getting through the day on her meds as it is.

Lurasetti: They okay?

Ridgeman: Yeah. Melanie’s coping. Sara’s doing okay. She’s dealing with it better than most kids her age would. But who knows what kind of long-term damage is going on with her. There have been opportunities before, more than a few. Take a bribe, pocket a bundle, pilfer cash. I was a cop on active duty. Today, I’m a poor civilian who’s nearly 60. I can accept that, but I’m not gonna ask my wife and daughter to.

Ridgeman further justifies his intentions by telling Lurasetti: “We have the skills and the right to acquire proper compensation.”

* * *

Things spiral out of control when Ridgeman and Lurasetti realize that Vogelmann (who sports a German accent) and his band of psychopathic accomplices (whose look and behavior resemble Nazi caricatures) are not drug dealers but bank robbers.[7]In the film’s final act, as they prepare to rob the Vogelmann crew, Ridgeman and Lurasetti don Black, full face masks similar to the ones that the Vogelmann crew wear, leading to the film’s working reality that all of the White male primaries don similar Black masks. The patient stakeout and tailing ops by Ridgeman and Lurasetti lead them to witness a savage bank robbery, but their inaction in calling the police situates them into a moral zone of complicity, due to the carnage that ensues in the bank.

The Vogelmann gang has employed Henry and his friend Biscuit (Michael Jai White) as getaway drivers. Interestingly, Henry and Biscuit wear a layer of whiteface makeup as they wait in the van outside the bank. When the entire gang leaves the bank in the getaway van, having stolen gold bars worth millions, Henry and Biscuit remove their whiteface makeup.

Henry removing his whiteface paint
Henry removing his whiteface paint

Despite their ‘acting’ White vis-à-vis makeup, Henry and Biscuit’s linguistic ebonics is taunted both by the psychopathic Vogelmann crew and, later, by Ridgeman. When the van is approaching the post-robbery destination, Henry says “We here,” to which one of Vogelmann’s psychos asks rhetorically: “We are here or we’re here?” Later in the film, when Henry uses the phrase “who don’t know nothing”, Ridgeman corrects him:

Ridgeman: I believe what you meant to say was, ‘Who don’t know anything.’

Henry: You understood me, didn’t you?

Ridgeman: Yeah, but you’re a lot smarter than you sound, a whole lot smarter from what I’ve seen.

Henry: It’s good to be underestimated.

In the movie’s final bloody shoot-out sequence, things unravel for most of the parties involved. In a particularly gruesome scene, the Vogelmann crew are forced to perform an abdominal incision on a corpse, to search the stomach for a set of keys the individual had swallowed. The two nameless Vogelmann gang psychopaths discuss the procedure:

Psychopath A: It’s the pale sac in there, the one that looks like…

Psychopath B: I know which one it is.

Psychopath A: Careful not to pop his liver. That is the worst smell in the world, Black guys especially.

I point out this exchange for a few reasons. First, it implies the two have military backgrounds, in particular, special ops backgrounds (given that this is not the first time one of them has done such a procedure, and multiple times on a Black corpse, to boot). Second, it feeds into the Nazi caricature angle. Lastly, it alludes to the men’s lived-experience of cultural race differences (the diets of Blacks) translated into biological differences (the smell of the punctured liver), which may be Zahler giving a trolling nod to race realism.[8]In his review of the film, liberal critic Marlow Stern refers to this bit of dialogue as “objectionable nonsense.”

In the last act of the film, and in league with the Kelly Summer interlude, the ‘crawling hostage woman’ scene is symbolic of White women being told that a certain course of action (which, in the film, involves the killing of a White man, at the instruction of the psychopathic villains) is in their best interest, when it is in fact a suicidal act.[9]From this perspective, the psychopathic villains assume not the form of Nazi caricatures, but rather totalitarian Leftists.

After the melee of bullets and blood, only Ridgeman and Henry remain, and a Prisoner’s Dilemma is fully embodied:

Ridgeman: We should clean up this mess together and split the gold. We can fight each other some more, do this until we’re crippled or dead, or we can both be rich. I don’t see how this is a dilemma.

Henry: Trusting a cop, one that’s crooked as fuck, is the dilemma. Only thing absolutely certain about you is that you don’t give a shit about any oath you swear to.

A last observation is that Ridgeman’s fateful decision towards Henry is likely motivated by a rational heuristics regarding typical Black male criminal behavior. It’s unlikely, but possible, that Ridgeman would have reneged on giving Henry his cut, but Ridgeman was more preoccupied with obtaining (and destroying) Henry’s cell phone ‘insurance policy’, which was incriminating video Henry took of Ridgeman and Lurasetti from a distance, when things went to Hell in a handbasket during the Vogelmann shoot-out.

Liberal Critiques: Ambiguity as Trolling

One of the best measures of the efficacy of a filmmaker’s coded sentiments (whether conscious or unconscious) is to analyze liberal critiques of the respective films. With Dragged, such critics were already primed to be on the lookout. They already know that both Mel Gibson (whom they thoroughly despise as a person, but begrudgingly acknowledge is a terrific actor and director) and Vince Vaughn — the leads in Dragged — are conservatives (as is Don Johnson), and so suspect that Zahler himself must be as well. Many of these critics accuse Zahler of trolling; in fact, if there is an emergent theme to liberal criticism of the film, it seems to be that Dragged is racist and misogynist, and that it constitutes trolling.

There has been no shortage of film critics willing to throw the R-word (and worse) at Zahler. In The Daily Beast, the title alone of Marlow Stern’s review of Dragged conveys the sort of sententious moral preening that is all too common: “Mel Gibson’s New Police Brutality Movie Is a Vile, Racist Right-Wing Fantasy.” In Vulture, David Edelstein calls Dragged “your basic boneheaded, right-wing action movie — skewed so that its heroes’ moral relativism is meant to be a sign of their manly integrity. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do — however shortsighted and racist and sadistic.” We can speculate that coastal elites like David Edelstein have little idea what is involved in real, day-to-day policing. To him and his ilk, proper policing is defined solely through criteria of abstraction, sophisticated theorizing, perfect information, and always-sufficient time to reflect and rationally decide upon the right, proper, and just course of action. There is no room for heuristics, hunches, and split decisions, no place for the sort of Burkean ground-up knowledge that years of experience on the street brings to the table. “Collaring a Spanish drug dealer might involve stepping on his cabeza,” Edelstein writes, “but given that the scumbag deals to kids on playgrounds, that’s no biggie, right? If you think it is a biggie, this won’t be your sort of movie.”

In our contemporary, intolerant, gotcha culture, where careers and lives can be ruined simply for expressing a single politically incorrect sentiment, a real source of frustration among Zahler’s liberal critics is his political inscrutability. Many such critics have excoriated him for maintaining a level of ambiguity on such matters, especially in regards to the race-related views of his films’ White characters, which drives these critics crazy. As noted earlier, deliberate ambiguity of authorial intent in filmmaking, especially if such intent is of the Dissident Right variety, is very much akin to the need to encode beliefs, or use irony, on social media platforms. This is not to say that Zahler is, in fact, sympathetic to the Dissident Right. But a writer-director who was sympathetic to the Dissident Right, or even to the more tempered, close-to-the-mainstream, conservative positions, would be wise to deploy such obfuscatory tactics.

During the press barrage for the film’s release, Zahler, in interviews, has been peppered with questions about his political orientation. In a Daily Beast interview with Nick Schager, for instance, Zahler consistently dodges a line of questioning that seems desperately intent on uncovering the director’s politics:

Some critics consider your films conservative-oriented, and Dragged Across Concrete has only reinforced that view. Do you agree with those assessments about your work’s politics?

The last part of the artistic process is letting go of your work and giving it to people who have their own private experiences with it. I’m not politically driven; I’m not very politically interested. None of the stuff I write comes from the point of view that I want to push an agenda, or have a piece that is subservient to a single thesis statement that I hope will enlighten the world…

This is a thing I do as a writer: I put what the characters are doing and thinking on the line and in the piece much more than me putting out a single idea or a philosophy for people to latch hold of. Now at this point in time, people are falling all over themselves to make sure they aren’t labeled this or that, and I’m fine with whatever anyone wants to take away from my movies. … I think one needs to ignore a lot of what certain characters do, and then say, well, what these characters are doing and saying, that’s what the author really feels. So then what you’re doing is bringing in your judgment of the author, and looking for evidence to support it, rather than looking at the material that’s at hand.

In the case of Dragged Across Concrete, I think it’s a very complex world; there are a lot of differing viewpoints that show, yeah, a lot of different people have different struggles. I understand why some people would say that [my films are conservative] — because there isn’t a clear didactic, if not pedantic, agenda at the fore of these pictures. But I’m writing stuff that I find compelling, and I’m not going to stop writing a scene, or change a character’s ethnicity, or remove a line of dialogue, because I think someone might interpret it in a certain way, or be offended by it. I’m writing what I find compelling…

One of Schager’s questions gets to the heart of liberal critiques of Zahler’s work: Do his films celebrate the protagonists, therefore validating their worldview, or are his films critiquing them, given how things spiral out of control for the protagonists? Zahler again maintains that he has no political dog in the fight. To the liberal mind, the very fact that Zahler chooses to provide full and humane character development to ‘racist’ White males (just as he does with the Black, third ‘lead’ character in Dragged) is itself suspect.

Bone Tomahawk was set in the Old West. Brawl was his first film in a modern-day setting, and Dragged is his second. As Zahler’s oeuvre grows in size, and Cinestate’s library of films and other media grows, alarmed liberals are sniffing a pattern. In The Hollywood Reporter, Stuart Miller writes:

[C]ritics have assailed Zahler’s films precisely for having an agenda: in the three films he directed, plus his [Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich] screenplay and a novel Wraiths of the Dying Land, he repeatedly has a White male protagonist saving White women and violently killing evil minorities. On the website Medium, Jacob Garfinkle writes, “It’s pretty clear that S. Craig Zahler has a formula for his fiction. Irredeemably evil minorities + damsel in distress threatened with sexual violence + heroic Aryan(s) + violent climax = jackpot!”

Some also argue Sparrow Creek humanizes alt-right militiamen, although [writer/director] Dunham says it was inspired by his own social anxiety and is about the “need for connection” and how that can lead isolated people to choose poorly. He adds, “I don’t have anything to do with the rest of the slate and if someone wants to lump me and Zahler together, well, we’re pretty different.”[10]For unknown reasons, Garfinkle has apparently deleted his article (which was titled “Is S. Craig Zahler a White Supremacist?”) from Medium. The link for the article now says: “The author deleted this Medium story.” Other facets of Zahler’s creative output point to trolling being a likely motivator for him, such as his writing for Fangoria and the dark apocalyptic tropes of his heavy metal side projects. Tobias notes: “While cranking out screenplays, Zahler turned out three heavy metal albums with his friend Jeff Herriott as one half of Realmbuilder, and played drums and contributed songwriting to the Black metal band Charnel Valley. Gently described, these bands are an extension of Zahler’s interest in dark fantasy and world-building, with ominous song titles like “Advance of the War Giants,” “The Beast of Six Thousand Bones,” and “Carry Their Bodies to the Horizon.””

In his review for The Atlantic, David Sims (2019) observes that Dragged has “revived a strain of criticism that has long followed Zahler — criticism about whether his movies are more politically motivated than the director insists, and whether he’s sympathetic to the kinds of racist and sexist tropes that appear in his work.” Sims references how many (liberal) critics have asserted “that Zahler has a tendency to insert characters or lines of dialogue solely for the purpose of rebutting claims of racism or insensitivity.” From a perspective such as Sims’, “the particular one-dimensionality of characters of color, both good and bad, in his movies is a troubling pattern that’s difficult to ignore.”

“Many great works of art have been made about — and by — reprehensible people,” proclaims Todd Gilchrist (2019) in The Wrap. “But, thus far, Zahler has largely declined to discuss the ideas within his films and especially the views they espouse, leaving audiences to figure out for themselves if this and Brawl in Cell Block 99 are conservative screeds or just uncomfortably specific character studies for a certain White male point of view.” Gilchrist works himself into a stew, noting that “the director’s growing body of work may well resonate with exploitation fans as much as White nationalists,” before intoning with what sounds like a Commissar’s warning to Zahler: “But at a certain point, not clarifying or taking responsibility for any of what’s in your films means you’re responsible for all of it. And Zahler is not unique, creative or talented enough to keep audiences guessing much longer.”

“There’s a fine line between truth-telling and trolling,” writes liberal film critic Adam Nayman (2019), “and what Zahler is doing in Dragged Across Concrete seems closer to the latter. He’s protected to some extent by the pulp fiction format, which has a prerogative for obnoxiousness.” The final sentence of Nayman’s review contemptuously refers to Zahler as “a filmmaker who, more than anything, seems pleased to be getting away with something.”

In The Guardian, Charles Bromesco smells both fascism and trolling. “Tilt your head a little to the left,” he writes, “and the vision of Zahler as stealth fascist starts to come into focus. … Cinestate regularly positions White men as the last defense against a world of drugs, crime and rape.” Again, what bothers such critics the most is the potential trolling. “Each time Zahler transgresses, he provides enough internal counterargument to muddy anyone’s interpretation,” writes Bromesco. “There’s enough ammunition for either ideological side, leaving only an unsavory not-knowing.” Bromesco accuses Zahler of “saying one thing through his mouthpieces in the script, then saying the opposite to sow misgivings,” which leads Bromesco to conclude “there’s a word for people who consciously antagonize others and then claim that the mark is merely projecting their objections onto the antagonism: trolls. Zahler’s a troll par excellence, literally elevating the act to an art form. But at the end of the day, a troll is a troll is a troll is a troll.”

Richard Brody, one of the most unflinchingly anti-White film critics in the business, describes Dragged as a “reactionary” cinematic expression of “White-male rage”, a “trifecta of racism, sexism, and nativism.” As with a great many other critics, Brody sees the film as “an extraordinarily effective act of artistic trolling, a self-consciously brazen provocation that also covers its tracks with winkingly transparent gestures… Zahler hedges the movie’s racial stereotypes and sympathetic depictions of racism with details of plausible deniability that suggest Zahler’s awareness of how the movie is likely to be perceived.”

In his review for Vanity Fair, K. Austin Collins derides the film with a PC smugness matched only by his cognitive dissonance. Collins characterizes the anxiety the Ridgemans have of their daughter potentially getting raped by Black ghetto youth as an “illogically racist conclusion.” Regarding Ridgeman’s daughter Sara being repeatedly taunted by urban Black teenaged boys, Collins finds the entire scene, context and depiction incredulous. “Zahler’s premise,” he writes, “depends on our believing that Black kids in the neighborhood would really attack a White girl who’s the child of cops.” Collins assumes here that Sara’s repeated harassment refers to the same set of Black teens, which is refuted by Ridgeman’s wife Melanie in the aforementioned dialogue with her husband (“The ones she didn’t recognize.”) Furthermore, for Collins to assume a group of urban, Black, impulse-control-challenged youth would A) know that this White girl is the daughter of a cop, and B) would give two hoots about it and change their behavior if they did know, reveals more about Collins’ naivety than anything about Zahler. In our era of ubiquitous cell phone filming of anything and everything police do when interacting with the urban class (which is a central theme of Dragged), along with the widely acknowledged sociological phenomenon of post-Ferguson, post-BLM police disengagement, why would such Black youth treat the Ridgeman daughter any differently? They might do so, one can imagine, if there was a rational fear that Ridgeman would mete out justice while on duty, or even extrajudicially, but hasn’t that fear been nearly eradicated? This seems to be precisely what Zahler is pointing to with a string of dialogue between Ridgeman and his wife (about their fear for their daughter), with the altogether different course of action that Ridgeman actually pursues:

Brett: I’ll handle this.

Melanie: How?

Brett: There’s a way. But it’s not something that we’re gonna talk about… ever.

Melanie: Okay.

The audience is led to believe that Brett’s intention here is to punish the offending Black youth, by roughing them up, or worse. But, as the film shows, this is not what Brett does. Again, due to our ubiquitous cell phone era, Ridgeman pursues an entirely different course of action. This appears lost on Collins. Also, wouldn’t this sort of imagined behavior by Ridgeman (roughing up the youth being the more likely scenario) be precisely of the sort that Collins would himself be appalled by? In the BLM era, such youth are not chastened but emboldened.

Of Lurasetti having a mixed-race Black girlfriend, Collins drips with cynicism. “Lurasetti wants to propose to his (Black—don’t ask) girlfriend…” As so many other critics have done, Collins also accuses Zahler of trolling and bemoans the “wheels of diminished accountability” in Zahler’s film.

Regarding the same abovementioned anxiety the Ridgemans have about their daughter, and the Ridgemans’ conversation about moving to another (implied: Whiter) neighborhood, Jonathan Romney writes: “You pause to wonder whether Zahler is justifying the Ridgemans’ racism and their acceptance of it.” To someone of Romney’s stripes, it is simply beyond comprehension that a White person’s ‘racist’ attitudes towards urban Black males might, in fact, be due to real and lived experiences, rather than from blind and irrational prejudice.

As one would expect, garden variety National Review-type cuckservatives, in their reviews of Dragged, completely avoid interpreting the film through a race-realist lens. Kyle Smith is somewhat perplexed at Brett Ridgeman’s motivations. “The chief problem with the movie is that it’s hard to get a purchase on Brett… He’s not a wicked anti-hero who lacks any moral compass, but neither is he a good man forced into the abyss; the last straw for him is that his daughter gets a soda dumped on her, so he’s not exactly as well-motivated as Charles Bronson in Death Wish.” Smith completely misses the mark here. The whole point is that Ridgeman does not want to wait for his daughter to wind up like Dr. Paul Kersey’s daughter in Death Wish, and only then do something about it. Smith shores up his NR bona fides when he adds:

Movies with racial themes these days have a cloud of panic about them and scramble desperately to signal their virtue. This one, which gives racists plenty to snicker at only to pull the rug out from under them, is much sneakier. Instead of drawing its Black characters as hapless victims, it suggests they have more agency than anyone knows.

Also writing in National Review, Armond White (who is himself Black) surprisingly labels Dragged a “conservative action movie with spiritual depth… a story of urban chivalry”, a film where the protagonists Ridgeman, Lurasetti, and Henry/Slim, are “in constant search of spiritual satisfaction”, and eventually “come together in their alienation.” In contrast to the many liberal White film critics who moan (and virtue-signal) over the supposed one-dimensionality of Henry’s character, White actually praises Henry’s characterization. “It is Zahler, unlike other modern directors making noise about race and representation,” White writes, “who introduces the most credible Black male movie character this decade.”

Conclusion

Dragged Across Concrete continues many of the themes of Brawl in Cell Block 99, particularly the plight of White men in a rapidly changing, multicultural America, and the moral relativism that progressivism has engendered across the political spectrum. In a very incisive review at Quillette, David G. Hughes writes:

The difficult truth about Dragged Across Concrete is that it’s neither progressive nor reactionary; liberal nor conservative. Rather, it exists as a thorn in all of our sides, refusing to offer even the reassuring catharsis of a redemption parable…

[A] film as resolutely apolitical as this one resonates with contemporary political discontents. Zahler has his finger on the cultural pulse, even if it’s not entirely clear if he believes there’s a heartbeat worth saving. As the violent narrative closes in on its inevitable denouement, Lurasetti says, “I hope I am not remembered for this mistake.” But we know he is lost because the culture has commanded it. In a cultural moment that has seen reputations destroyed by a single tweet, each transgression can become the entirety of a person’s character. Beneath the car chases, shoot-outs, and smart dialogue in Dragged Across Concrete is an elegy, not for the passing of time (this isn’t a nostalgic film), but for those left behind when the cultural baton is passed from one generation to the next. The hands that built the nation are now tainted, their flaws have been exposed and denounced, and swathes of our fellow citizens have been condemned as unclean rabble-rousers. Here is a film that speaks to this cultural tragedy in the shape of two flawed cops, resigned to a world that despises them but doing their awkward and imperfect best to stay afloat and do the right thing as they understand it.

Henry, his mom, & White male masseuse
Henry, his mom, & White male masseuse

To revisit the Lion analogy a last time, there is no room for the likes of Ridgeman and Lurasetti in today’s progressive culture, a culture which regresses, inch by inch, to the law of the jungle. The arc of Henry’s journey – from ghetto to prison to immense wealth, sole-survivor status, and readiness to ‘hunt some lions’ — can be interpreted as satire on both the adjunct, and relatively new, phenomenon of ‘Black privilege’, and perhaps also as a troll (a la Chuck Palahniuk’s 2018 novel Adjustment Day) with its intimations of Blacks inheriting the Earth through an imagined and long-suppressed, syncretic law-of-the-jungle knowledge. That Henry lives in a clean, White, modernist, and proverbial castle on the water — instead of having financially imploded, the way so many Black criminals, athletes and rappers do — is, proportional to the degree it is unrealistic, likely a troll. The same is true of Zahler’s depiction of Henry as the film’s moral center, who even sends a cop’s widow a small share of the stolen gold (a precious metal throwback to pre-industrial times) in order to honorably comply with the dying’s wishes, a scenario that, in and of itself, stretches credulity.

We live on the cusp of a new age, where Persons of Color will increasingly exercise their newly gained power over Whites, ruthlessly meting out ‘social justice’ in perpetuity, as revenge for how they imagine Whites previously lorded power over them. With no socially sanctioned outlets for racialist identity formation or collective promotion of such group-based racial interests, Whites may increasingly resort to a reactionary nihilism of the type symbolically represented in Brawl and Dragged. Likewise, the cinematic art of trolling is one of the few clandestine means of articulating this reactionism in an increasingly liberal, intolerant, and anti-White culture.

The author writes at Logical Meme and @Logicalmeme.

Bibliography

Notes

[1] In her 1972 review of Dirty Harry, Pauline Kael infamously referred to the film as “fascist” and “deeply immoral”, a “right-wing fantasy of that police force as a group helplessly emasculated by unrealistic liberals.” The pendulum swing back towards a distinctively liberal spin on the vigilante film genre stretches back to the anti-Reagan hysteria of the 1980s, through films such as The Star Chamber (1983).

[2] For more on Cinestate’s eclectic business model, see Miller (2019). For the fascinating backstory of how Sonnier turned extreme personal tragedy (the separate murders of both of his parents) into the fuel to put all his personal finances on the line towards making Bone Tomahawk, see Simek (2016).

[3] The irony of Mel Gibson’s character being caught by video, given Gibson’s own personal history of having audio-recording capture his rants, is surely not lost on Zahler. Such is likely another instance of Zahler’s trolling.

[4] If interpreted literally, the idea of cops being underpaid requires some suspension of disbelief. However, this may be intended to figuratively represent the hallowing out of White, lower middle-class American wages.

[5] As a nonreligious Jew, Zahler may see himself as “White.” Zahler’s depiction of Denise as a successful, highly-paid, White collar manager contrasts with Lurasetti as a not highly-paid, not-promoted cop, which may be a commentary on how, in the era of SJW corporations, Persons of Color are to be hired and promoted before Whites. That Denise is eloquent and dating a White cop who makes less than her may also be trolling on the part of Zahler. Evidence for trolling is when Lurasetti mentions that Denise “only shops at organic stores, specializing in assuaging guilt.” With respect to Jewish stereotypes, further evidence that Zahler is willing to troll may be found in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018), an indie horror-comedy about Nazi puppets, which Zahler wrote the screenplay for. In one scene, for instance, the “heroes try to lure these anti-Semitic monsters out of hiding by lighting a menorah” (Tobias).

[6] This dialogue expressing the Ridgemans’ fear of their daughter getting raped by Black teenagers is not only a rational fear within the context of the film (and for Whites living among urban Blacks in general), but may be a troll regarding an infamous secret recording Mel Gibson’s former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva made of him. “You look like a fucking pig in heat,” Gibson can be heard yelling at her. “If you get raped by a pack of niggers, it’ll be your fault.”

[7] In the film’s final act, as they prepare to rob the Vogelmann crew, Ridgeman and Lurasetti don Black, full face masks similar to the ones that the Vogelmann crew wear, leading to the film’s working reality that all of the White male primaries don similar Black masks.

[8] In his review of the film, liberal critic Marlow Stern refers to this bit of dialogue as “objectionable nonsense.”

[9] From this perspective, the psychopathic villains assume not the form of Nazi caricatures, but rather totalitarian Leftists.

[10] For unknown reasons, Garfinkle has apparently deleted his article (which was titled “Is S. Craig Zahler a White Supremacist?”) from Medium. The link for the article now says: “The author deleted this Medium story.” Other facets of Zahler’s creative output point to trolling being a likely motivator for him, such as his writing for Fangoria and the dark apocalyptic tropes of his heavy metal side projects. Tobias notes: “While cranking out screenplays, Zahler turned out three heavy metal albums with his friend Jeff Herriott as one half of Realmbuilder, and played drums and contributed songwriting to the Black metal band Charnel Valley. Gently described, these bands are an extension of Zahler’s interest in dark fantasy and world-building, with ominous song titles like “Advance of the War Giants,” “The Beast of Six Thousand Bones,” and “Carry Their Bodies to the Horizon.””

(Republished from The Occidental Observer by permission of author or representative)
 
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The nation’s hall monitors have dug up some of his “racist” quotes.
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  1. ” … the Hollywood filmmaking pipeline has become thematically constricted by a radical surge of political correctness and leftwing, agenda-driven depictions of race and racial conflict.”

    The above statement is shining truth. Tinseltown is Pravda, especially when it comes to race. Blacks (13% of the population with, at least, 50% representation in TV, movies, commercials) are entitled to their own truth while whites have no truth and are entitled to public self-flagellation.

    “Cinestate’s business strategy revolves around a target audience of cinematically disenfranchised Red Staters.”

    and

    ” …’the movies we’re making are almost counterculture’ …”

    Yes, this is the way forward: a counterculture mindset and genre films. The audience is there and ready to expand. But don’t fall into the Hollywood trap of overt politics; nobody wants to watch political propaganda. Make it meaningful and entertaining.

    S. Craig Zahler has been on my radar since Bone Tomahawk (2015). I look forward to watching his new film.

    • Agree: Endgame Napoleon
  2. Anon[867] • Disclaimer says:

    I’m a poor civilian who’s nearly 60. I can accept that, but I’m not gonna ask my wife and daughter to.

    A real man’s purpose in life is to gather economic resources to channel to the female members of the family. As well as…

    Ridgeman sees scantily clad, un-chaperoned, teenaged girls coming down the escalator. With a disgusted, yet worried, expression on his face, Ridgeman conveys an entire dialogue with just a heavy sigh, realizing that this picture may be what’s in store for his daughter.

    Make sure his women don’t go around dressed the way women should not dress (because he feels better if they don’t), and without the protection and guidance — the chaperoning — of his.

    Women are to be

    1) Paid
    2) Guarded
    3) Directed
    4) Owned

    And we aren’t going to read many a column on film here at Unz which forgets to remind us every 4 points, it seems.

    It’s like what the mainstream media say about women, just mirrored. That is a beauty to be taught, and so is this; why wouldn’t mirrored beauty still be beauty.

    • LOL: Alden
    • Replies: @WHAT
    , @Alden
  3. Huh? Just call it Dogwhistle Stop and Cops Too…and leave it at that.

    Come on guys, it’s a movie…with Mel Gibson in it. It’s probably pretty good. Just enjoy it…or not.

    Regards,
    Harry

  4. Although I must add that I do enjoy all the references. They are educational and historical reminders.

    Thanks,
    Harry

  5. Since Gibson’s historical / biblical dramas, with the strong emphasis on design and cinematography, worked, why not assume that Red Staters are intelligent enough to absorb more authentic, historical content, especially if it is visually commanding.

    Why should historical content deliver a message outside of the prevailing ethos of the time? There aren’t that many historical movies, showcasing American history, in a no-holes-barred way. Gibson made one on the American Revolution. It was pretty violent, but it was still a good movie.

    If any message is delivered, why not show women in their historical role as mostly homemakers, with the educated women among them doing a lot to create a civilizing environment on the Homefront, and the occasional genius woman who was not, in fact, held back in the eras when traditional values prevailed.

    Women back then had to fight off the trolls of day, but probably no more than they do today, and if anything, fewer women have economic security today. Red Staters are tired of the wholesale vilification of America’s past, with the attempt to graft an idealized view of today’s woke communities into every scenario.

  6. Never heard of this director but look forward to seeing all his output.
    The PC ranting, although to be expected, is still tedious & unprofitable.
    Take this Bromesco idiot — “there’s enough ammunition [ in the movie ]for either ideological side, leaving an unsavoury not-knowing”.
    What a poisonous fool. So lost in public PC signalling that he can’t even conceptualise “Art”.
    The poor fool finds “not knowing” where there are really opportunities for questioning, for reflection. This IS Art. An attempt to realise the world, humans, life.
    I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t say how successful this “realisation” is — but, it certainly looks intriguing, which is a damn good start.

  7. alexander says:

    I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago.

    Very impressive.

    The best way to describe it is “fresh” and “unashamed”.

    I am glad you spent some time on it….Maybe more people will see it…They should.

    It is just that good.

  8. If somebody is inspired by “splatter films, Tarantino, pulp horror and dark fantasy,” he needs to seek help. If there is anything I hate it is some phony libertarian fake conservative who loves depravity. I am reminded of the time some parents sued a grade school because boys were molesting girls. Because for some reason this seemed to be a “liberal” issue (I have no idea why), conservatives kept miming the meme, “Boys will be boys.” That is not conservative. That is puerile libertarian fake conservative, starve the poor and smoke dope phony.

    The real conservative answer to little boys molesting little girls is that the little boys ought to be thrashed till the cows come home.

    But you phony perverts wouldn’t even know what true conservatism is. You pathetic loser child basement-dwellers.

    • Agree: Old Prude
  9. This is dopey. I mean the writing style. How can someone who writes like this expect to be taken seriously?

    • LOL: WHAT
  10. Kirt says:

    I’d highly recommend Dragged, but not if you’re looking for light entertainment with a happy ending. It’s quite serious and rather depressing. It’s extremely well done. One slight criticism I have from the standpoint of credibility comes from some scenes at the end where duffle bags supposedly full of gold bullion are being slung around as if they weighed no more than 40 or 50 pounds at most. In reality, I think that much gold would probably weigh several hundred pounds and not be portable at all by one man, perhaps not even by two.

  11. UDO KIER

    It is amusing that one thing is unchanging in movieland-the Teutonic boogeyman killer whose been around since THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR and BULLITT.

    Cool.

  12. WHAT says:
    @Anon

    Your princess is in another castle

  13. anon[237] • Disclaimer says:

    good article

  14. Castles says:

    “Sonnier doesn’t see Cinestate’s films as being made for “Trump supporters,” as liberal media profiles are wont to do. “I didn’t even vote for the guy,” he says. “I don’t necessarily crave a conservative audience, but that may be an outcome, and it wouldn’t surprise me..” God forbid anyone would think you voted for Trump or were anyway associated with the conservative scourge.

    Personally I would rather read a good book of the out of print non-PC historical/political variety. Hollywood has become a festering sore with the #metoo movement and the arrogant, condescending, vitriolic behavior of its denizens. Their products seem to be mostly marvel comic characters and remakes of remakes. This Dallas production company CEO thinks he’s an outlier, but his rhetoric sounds very similar to Hollywood claptrap. So, no thanks, I’ve got better things to do than to waste time or money on your cinematic efforts.

  15. theMann says:

    Spoiler alerts included.

    Hard to argue that Dragged is either a Racialist fantasy or an alt-right fueled film when everybody, except for one Black dude (hardened criminal) dies ….brutally, in the end. What really struck me about the film is how everyone in it proceeds with imperfect knowledge of the events swirling around them. Every decision goes bad, and leads to further, worse, decisions. Perhaps inadvertantly, the film illustrates the limitations of the crime engaged mind, where not one character can think “abort, abort, this is going way wrong” except, to an extent, the one guy who survives.

    BTW, loved Bone Tomahawk, just so I can tell visitors “mind the troglodytes ” if we go to Carlsbad or Hobbs.

  16. anon[188] • Disclaimer says:

    As a non-religious Jew, Zahler may see himself as “White”

    jeez, the guy’s a jew and (((they))) still threw all that crap at him?

    • Replies: @Jake
  17. anon[327] • Disclaimer says:

    If Mel Gibson is connected to a movie, I will see it.

    His presence makes it quality.

  18. Heredot says:

    This site and the reviewers are great.

  19. SOL says:

    “As I previously addressed in more detail in my

    of Brawl,”

    This sentence needs to be fixed?

    Thanks for the essay.

    • Replies: @Logical Meme
  20. Thank you for this article. I did not know these movies or this production company existed. From the trailers the movies look good. They honestly do not look very political. I could easily see the people who made them be more sane liberals. Albeit one always hopes that more people with talent and money are on our side. The movies do seem to have done abysmal at the box office unfortunately. I will buy them if they turn out to be good.

    Once again thanks for the article and thanks to mister Unz.

  21. Very informative-thank you. I knew none of the backstory when I watched this movie. Which I simply enjoyed for being well made. So few movies are GOOD. One scene really stood out to me, which was the preparations of a mother for going back to work after maternity leave. There was a lot of detail and time spent on a character who was about to get shot/killed in the bank. THAT is what made it so good. It really was about the characters. Which leads me to question if you want to call it an action film. It might give the wrong impression to others about to see it. The movie does take its time, and does it right, so might be considered slow but is always compelling and interesting.

    • Replies: @Logical Meme
  22. Jake says:

    “To a historically unrivaled degree, Cultural Marxism has succeeded in stifling healthy psychological individuation among Whites, primarily by making taboo any and all outward expression of racial consciousness. In such a repressive climate, works of art that touch upon White racial consciousness (however indirectly or subconsciously) will resonate. One can argue that the collective unconscious of an increasingly dispossessed White America is the ‘demand’, with the ‘supply’ being those works of art and culture which satisfy the psyche. Whether through movies, music, memes, or literature, Jung’s unconscious Shadow archetype expresses itself as the antithesis of whichever collective personality type is the dominant, actualized, conscious zeitgeist of the day. In reaction to this suppressed and bottled-up aspect of White racial consciousness, the Shadow surfaces vis-à-vis sublimated, metaphorical surrogates.”

    Cultural Marxists always lead Jews who at least seem not to be overt Cultural Marxists and their white Gentile BFFs and other allies to HATE whatever they sense could be an important cultural platform for escaping the PC zeitgeist. When, for example, the Godfather films seemed to be undoing the carefully crafted Jewish (with Elite WASP help and necessary validation) fantasy that Jews in organized crime were mere accountants, non-violent types trying to get by in an America overrun with anti-Semites (which required that the public learn to forget about the 100% Jewish Purple Gang and the predominantly Jewish and nearly 100% Jewish run Murder INC, as well as that Dutch Schultz was a Jew, as well as the many Jews directly involved in murder both for an against Capone in Chicago), Jews and PC white Gentiles again began focusing on the evil Italians, with their evil swarthy, non-Nordic Catholic ways that brought violent crime and forced on everybody. The media became so saturated with Italian mafia reports that the average person came to assume that Italian Mafioso were slaughtering at least twice as many people per year as were the poor Numinous Negroes.

    When John Paul II became a hero, especially to Poles and Catholics of any Eastern or Central European ancestry, for backing Solidarity, which was essential to breaking the power of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Jews in academia shorty thereafter began to write a flood of articles on Polish anti-Semitism and on Catholic anti-Semitism and on the anti-Semitism that lay behind the evil plot to link Jews or Bolshevism. It was the era when we first saw the release of documents from various archives that marked how deeply the anti-Russian feeling had been among the Brit Elites, back to at least the Napoleonic era, who were playing the Game of Thrones. In academia, a key mindset for Neocon power was set well before the close of the 20th century: that WASP and Jew were natural, and very old, allies against the Russians and other Slavs.

    For some time (back to the Reagan election), there are had been a growth in awareness among middle Americans, including those with no known Catholic ancestry, that Irish culture played a important role in who they were and what the best of American culture – not the most elite, but the best for average Joes – had been. At the same time, there had been a growth in awareness of the importance of Scottish culture to America – Scottish as Scottish, not as some regional variant of British, which meant to most people English. The Jewish attacks on those were the most withering, inside and outside academia. Most featured an assertion that such cultural interests were false because they were fantasies of something that never happened, that never was. All Irish/Scottish interests were said to be akin to racism because they were about white people promoting cultural identity that was seen as white and white only. Articles were written and read at conference after conference warning against the racism that surely was the reason for anyone wanting to proclaim Irish or Scottish culture in America as worthy of academic study and teaching. Irish and Scottish cultural expressions were verboten.

    Why have so many Jews worked so hard to prevent both academic focus on certain white groups and popular cultural expressions of those groups? Why have the vast majority of those Jews working double and triple time to bash certain white ethnic groups given a pass to nearly all things truly Anglo-Saxon Protestant and nearly all things Continental Germanic Protestant right up to the Lutherans caving before the Nazis?

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Alden
    , @mark green
  23. anon[363] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jake

    i used to think it was just happenstance that jews control so many media outlets and so many in the media are jews but now it seems they use this power to “flood the zone” – today they try to convince the avg person that there are nazis and fascists behind every tree and that anyone who wants the border secured is also a nazi/fascist/white supremacist

    white people in this country have no real voice in their own media – probably the same goes on in most of Europe too

  24. Jake says:
    @anon

    Jews who fail to bow before the path of hating Christ and Christendom, and the peoples of Christendom, as their prime directive will be hounded to death and after. Jews probably hate St. Paul more than anyone who ever lived, even Jesus.

    Paul Gottfried has never converted to Christianity, and Jews, Neocons as well as Liberals and Leftists, hate him with all their might.

  25. It’s funny, or darkly comic, that left-wing film critics whine about a movie having a supposed political message.

  26. The problem with Bone Tomahawk is not that the juxtaposition of native americans to the white town folk. It’s that in order to make to work, he had to create a trope that bares little resemblance to what we know about native americans.

    There were occasional native american bandits that would have made the film work just fine. The introduction of these natives starts out as something near supernatural in nature and in the end turns out to be something far less.

    I don’t think there’s much in the way of issues with white people expressing their angst about having to share more of the country than previously. The real hurdle is trying to expiate what went on before. And what history seems to indicate is that whites were none to benign in getting power, maintaining power and extending power in ways not unlike what is described. There’s a reason why the police have such a lousy reputation in some quarters of the inner city and rural US.

    I enjoyed Bone Tomahawk. But it’s a very tough sell, this era of the wobegone down trodden whte beset by vengeful blacks.

  27. I saw it. Had high hopes going in. Started off well enough but descended into an ending where all the good guys are dead, the bad guys are dead and the black driver walks away with everything, invests wisely, doesn’t blow it in booze, drugs and lottery tickets. I’m sure, if there was a commercial break, he’d have been buying life insurance and kayaking in their down time.

  28. Alden says:

    Dragged Across Concrete is on Netflix.

  29. Alden says:
    @Jake

    The term WASP is a pejorative invented by Jews to denigrate old stock Americans of English descent. From 1900 right up to about 1980 many films had WASP villains, and buffoons and kindly Irish cops, priests mothers business owners beautiful girls and heroes.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  30. Alden says:
    @Anon

    You have an unhealthy interest in daughters. If you don’t mind my asking, who chaperones your wife sisters and daughters ? You must have a lot of money to hire chaperones for all of them. Are your daughters homeschooled? I assume so because it would be very expensive to pay a chaperone for each daughter and another to make sure your wife never goes out alone. Are your women allowed in the front yard? Or have you built a courtyard with 18 ft walls for them? Do you as the husband and father accompany them to dr and dentist visits? Or do you hire male chaperoned for that?

    Or are you on welfare and thus have the time to chaperone your women? What happens when the daughters go to school and you have to leave the wife at home for the school day as you chaperone then? Are you allowed in the class rooms with them? Aren’t you afraid your wife will escape her locked section 8 apartment when you’re chaperoning the daughters?

    It’s obvious you have neither wife nor daughters as you don’t know about the logistics and arrangements of chaperoning. Do you hire other men’s women as chaperones? Or since you don’t think any women should be out of the house alone, do you hire men to chaperone your women? If so, I hope they are eunuchs. Male chaperones for wife’s and especially naive daughters is a bad bad idea.

  31. KenH says:

    It sounds like Dragged has some realistic depictions of 2019 America along with a dose of unreality and artistic license with the Hollywood Nazi psychopaths, the violent black male criminal with redeeming human qualities and the role reversal at the end with the white masseuse as servant to the black masters.

    The Dirty Harry movies depicted violent black criminals as he really is which is dimwitted and mean as hell.

    • Replies: @Logical Meme
  32. When did this site turn into a trashy Hollywood movie review?

    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @Johnny Rico
  33. JimDandy says:

    Great movie, but I can’t really rejoice because only a Jew could have gotten away with it–and by that, I mean: could have made it.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  34. @Alden

    Jews didn’t invent the word White Anglo Saxon Protestant and their real animus was directed towards Catholics who had been their blood-enemies in Europe as the Brits were generally more accepting of Jews and there never Pogroms like Poland or expulsions like Spain.

    If you watch the KARATE KID or CADDYSHACK, it is fairly accurate summation of WASP-Irish Catholic-Italian class divides in the eighties.

    The WASP lasted through the Reagan Revolution as a Yuppie and it was not until the nineties that the Old Money WASP seemed to disappear into body piercings, tattoos, useless degrees and slackerdom. Bush II finally seemed to seal their fate during his presidency.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Feryl
  35. @JimDandy

    JIM

    White people never seem to be able to raise any money to make films or own their own publishing companies. When a Jew wants to make a film, another Jew is willing to finance it. If a white person wants to make a film, where does he find the money?

    And let us say a white person did make a completely accurate film about the reality of being white in America using my friend Stanley the Polish-American. A film about a middle-class kid who made a mistake at 21 or 22 and got a Catholic girl pregnant and found himself trapped in a city that became a ghetto. A film that accurately depicting many female inner-city Hood Rats as crack whores who make a living sucking off lowlifes in their cars. A film that depicted a white man coming out and seeing a load of used rubbers in his driveway.

    Or say a film about a Midwestern from a modest background who moves to the Southwest and finds themselves menaced by Mestizos because they can only afford to live in an apartment on the periphery of the barrio.

    No distributor would exhibit this film. It would have to go on You Tube and soon it would be taken down.

    Or let us say a film like CRUISING that simply depicted the truth about gay men. That they have sex with 20 men every weekend. A film like CRUISING, which would never get made today but is accurate.

    But no, only when the villains are played by aging German character actors like Udo Kier or Klaus Kinski can the film be financed. And I happen to be German-American myself and find it funny that (THEY) are still so scared of Germans 3 generations later.

    Udo Kier as the criminal mastermind. Sure,

    • Agree: JimDandy
    • Replies: @anon
    , @SunBakedSuburb
    , @Feryl
  36. anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Joey Pastrami

    There is no heavy-handed leftist message, but degenerate amorality is not much better in the grand scheme of things.

    Tarantino’s early films were apolitical too…but more refried Tarantino is the last thing the world needs. This hip, ‘street-smart’ pitter patter dialogue is so cliché, it’s painful to listen to.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  37. @anonymous

    Tarantino is stuck in the 90’s which was stuck in the seventies. His post-ironic slacker vibe seems awfully outdated in 2020.

    Last thing I heard Tarantino was making yet another movie about the 70’s. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD.

  38. The movie sounds good, but the best part of the review was the review of liberal reviews. BTW Thomas Kretschmann was in the great German war movie Stalingrad (not to be confused with the more recent Russian movie, which was a ridiculously over-the-top propaganda flick).

  39. @jeff stryker

    Tarantino is far too smitten with his own cleverness. Still not sure if his Hollywood role reversal in Inglorious Basterds (Germans as cultured and refined, Americans as buffoonish morons, and Jews as vicious killers) was intentional or not, but it seems to be a case of the (approximate) truth slipping out accidentally, which is my impression of Zahler as a filmmaker.

  40. anon[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @jeff stryker

    Jews didn’t invent the word White Anglo Saxon Protestant and their real animus was directed towards Catholics who had been their blood-enemies in Europe as the Brits were generally more accepting of Jews and there never Pogroms like Poland or expulsions like Spain

    oh, so the Catholics ran the Ivy Leagues and the Country Clubs these jews were apparently angry about not getting into?

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  41. anon[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @jeff stryker

    But no, only when the villains are played by aging German character actors like Udo Kier or Klaus Kinski can the film be financed. And I happen to be German-American myself and find it funny that (THEY) are still so scared of Germans 3 generations later.

    they’re not scared, its just that (((their))) hatred and vindictiveness never ends

  42. @anon

    392

    That is assuming a great deal. Jews seemingly made the money to quickly have their own associations and resorts (Catskills for example).

    Irish-Catholics and Jews were in bed as significant components in the Democrat machine (Though Irish-Catholics are dwindling in importance) but always had significant differences and animosity. Italians of course are genetically linked to Askenazi.

    Jews and WASPS are more figurative foes. The former are liberals and leftists and often even Marxists. The latter are always GOP Republicans and Conservative.

    Nor were Jews ever banned from Ivy League schools. They were some of the first poor attendees to receive scholarships. Today WASPS are underrepresented partly because they are a dwindling race. There are very few Old Money WASPS in Connecticut or Boston left. Very few.

  43. @jeff stryker

    William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980) is an interesting film. It contains graphic, near pornographic, depictions of homosexual sex combined with a thriller plot that hints at the supernatural. Plus, Al Pacino’s performance is gray and low-key compared to his normal colorful effusiveness (three years later he returned to form as Tony Montana). Cruising was shot in 1979 in and around the gay neighborhood and bars where the story is set. The production was plagued by homosexual activists who attempted to disrupt the filming. Friedkin used this atmosphere to infuse his disturbing story with even more dread and unease. The 1970s was Friedkin’s golden era: The French Connection (1971), The Exorcist (1973), and the great Sorcerer (1977). He closed out the decade with the risky, disturbing, and effective Cruising. There’s a reason why he’s venerated by film fans and filmmakers.

    • Replies: @Feryl
  44. @jeff stryker

    Tarantino’s schtick had skin tags all over it in the 1990s. The primary reason why he was vaulted to fame and geniushood is because he gave film actors chunky and overwrought theatrical dialog to speak. And while he never attempted a realist approach to the crime genre, which is his forte, his dialog usually consisted of pop culture musings which did little to drive the story or illuminate his characters. He’s more pop stylist than storyteller.

  45. @SOL

    I’ve written to the Unz editors to fix this sentence. There should be a link to my essay on “Brawl” at Counter-Currents.

  46. @James M Dakin

    I agree about the ‘mother going back to work’ scene. I addressed this scene in my original submitted essay to TOO, but it was edited out. An interlude in the film begins and ends with a focus on the brief character of Kelly Summer (Jennifer Carpenter). Ostensibly intended to humanize the victims of a violent bank robbery, Kelly’s character also serves as a devastating indictment of feminism and neoliberal materialism, an observation I have not seen a single liberal critic of the film make.

    I have posted about this scene here.

  47. @KenH

    Such unrealistic depictions may be part of the ‘trolling’ aspect now almost required for any movie with a non-liberal viewpoint.

    The era of “Dirty Harry” was a different time, before the censorious cancer that is Political Correctness took total control of filmmaking production.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  48. Thanks Mr. West for this review. I was unaware of these films (Dragged, Sparrow, Bone, Brawl and Square). I’ve already watched Dragged, Bone and Brawl and was very pleased with all three.

    Please keep up the good work. It is nice to find a movie reviewer who isn’t pozzed.

  49. @Jake

    Thank you, Jake, for your nuanced observations and probing questions.

  50. @Logical Meme

    What was so un-PC about Dirty Harry films?

    The villains were ALWAYS white. Scorpio is a hippie and Vietnam vet who is obviously deranged from his military service.

    The cops in MAGNUM FORCE are depicted as being worse than the criminals they kill and of course when they offer Clint Eastwood the opportunity to participate he declines saying “you’ve misjudged me”.

    In the ENFORCER the villains are Mansoneque aging hippies of the Weatherman variety led by another deranged Irish-American veteran named Maxwell who was a former Green Beret in Vietnam who was discharged for being Section 8 and then became a street pimp and then a revolutionary (Maxwell was definitely the toughest of the DIRTY HARRY villains and possibly the smartest).

    SUDDEN IMPACT’S villains are not as exotic as Scorpio or Bobby Maxwell or David Soul. They’re just run-of-the-mill white trash rapists.

    There are minor villains who are Hispanic (Rudy Ramos in ENFORCER who holds up the liquor store) or black (The stickup kids whom Harry tells to “make his day”). And of course the Italians are all portrayed as mafia scum like the one Harry goads into a heart attack played by Michael Gazzo.

    These stereotypes are probably pretty accurate. Blacks and Hispanics are generally low-level criminals and Italians whom Harry can never go after legally (Which is why David Soul and his posse of rogue cops kill them in MAGNUM FORCE) keep a lower profile than the mad hippies like SCORPIO or ENFORCER or the giggling psychotic rednecks in SUDDEN IMPACT. Blacks and Hispanics do commit petty stickups that go bad like Rudy Ramos in the beginning of ENFORCER or the stickup artists in SUDDEN IMPACT that Harry stares down.

    One thing that is interesting to note is that the blacks are suggested as not being beyond all salvation and Harry could have killed the bank robber or the kid who takes the hostage in SUDDEN IMPACT but they surrender and live. It is the whites who are hellbent on fighting to the death like Maxwell or Scorpio.

    The series does portray the white villains as far more clever and formidable adversaries-Scorpio initially gets away with his crimes and beats the system; Maxwell kills Harry’s partner; Mick and his cohorts beat Harry up and nearly drown him. Most of the time, Harry does not arrest the Italians who are portrayed as shrewd and cunning. All this is accurate.

    • Replies: @Logical Meme
  51. The BBC said Dragged across concrete was a must see movie and it never showed up in San Antonio. We only have a couple of chains here and they must dislike Mel Gibson

    • Replies: @anon
  52. anon[250] • Disclaimer says:
    @the Watcher

    research who owns the chains – prob the usual suspects

  53. @Joey Pastrami

    It has always been a trashy international relations review site. With so little of any interest happening in the news this is the logical next step in the quest for domination of the media.

    I’m watching Brawl in Cell Block 99 right now. Not bad. Kind of a mix of Breaking Bad and A Clockwork Orange.

  54. @jeff stryker

    The fact that the villain in “Dirty Harry” is white is more a function of the era’s casting norms than any deliberate anti-white subtext. (In virtually every Hollywood movie through the end of the 1970s, and well into the 1980s, both the hero and the villain were white.) This Hollywood tradition, much like the so-called ‘whitewashing’ phenomenon in films, was likely the product of both inherited production norms as well as the relative dearth of non-white actors (and especially prominent actors with audience familiarity and appeal, a key impetus for the Hollywood production equation). From an economic point of view, many of these casting decisions were based on the presumed (and tested) desires of cinema’s overwhelmingly white audiences. Through the late 20th century, both the theater and cinema (writers; filmmakers; actors; audiences) were predominately the province of white people.

    That being said, with respect to “Dirty Harry”, the film’s most iconic scene – the scene which everyone remembers – is Harry taunting the black bank robber with his immortal ‘Go ahead, make my day’ line. In “Coogan’s Bluff” (a 1968 progenitor of “Dirty Harry”, by the same Siegel/Eastwood team), there is a near-identical scene with the same black actor (Albert Popwell), but with Coogan using a broken beer bottle instead of a gun. “Coogan’s Bluff” also shows the precinct station filled with blacks, Hispanics, and ribald homosexuals… but the film’s villain and his crew are white. Working within the strictures of the production norms of the time, using a black villain for the most iconic scene of “Dirty Harry”, a scene with striking and informationally-loaded visuals, may even have even been an early instance of trolling.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  55. @Logical Meme

    LOGICAL

    The DIRTY HARRY villains are white for the same reason THE SOPRANOS were white. White criminals are usually more intelligent (They never caught the ZODIAC KILLER that Scorpio was based upon) and resourceful than blacks or Hispanics.

    David Soul even says “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to prosecute a cop?”. He and Scorpio and THE ENFORCER’S hippie cult killers are smart, calculating and strong.

    In SUDDEN IMPACT, it is noted that the white rapists are lowlifes but still employed (Mick the kinky sex type jerk is a professional gambler in Vegas abusing a hooker when we first see him).

    The black and Mexican offenders in the DIRTY HARRY films are realistic portrayed as committing sloppy spur-of-the-moment crimes that the coffee shop stick up in SUDDEN IMPACT or the Mexicans who hold up the liquor store in THE ENFORCER.

    All of the white villains in the DIRTY HARRY films prove formidable allies and resourceful, which most real-life black or Mestizo offenders are not.

    DIRTY HARRY also depicts the Italians as avoiding prosecution by Harry because they are low-key and cunning. Which is true.

    It is much harder to find a white criminal, even a jackass like the druggie who Clint chases arouond NYC, than a reservation Indian out in the desert.

    • Replies: @Feryl
  56. I liked this movie because it had interesting and idiosyncratic characters with witty dialogue. The sandwich-eating scene in the car comes to mind. It was satisfying to watch something that didn’t have an obvious ideological hard-on. The film was something of a throwback in that way.

    I felt let down by the ending, though. The emotional payoff wasn’t there. Although we met Henry first, it wasn’t really his film, it was Ridgeman’s, and I think the drama demanded that he come out of it with a little more than he did. Ridgeman’s distrust of Henry’s word seems more than plausible, and Henry even proves it right there as Ridgeman is dying: “I keep my word.” “Ok, forty percent.” “Nah, I’m not going to give them forty percent.”

  57. SFG says:

    Don’t laugh, but you’ve given me a new hero apart from Stephen Miller and Paul Gottfried.

  58. Sean says:

    Despite their ‘acting’ White vis-à-vis makeup, Henry and Biscuit’s linguistic ebonics is taunted both by the psychopathic Vogelmann crew and, later, by Ridgeman. When the van is approaching the post-robbery destination, Henry says “We here,” to which one of Vogelmann’s psychos asks rhetorically: “We are here or we’re here?” Later in the film, when Henry uses the phrase “who don’t know nothing”, Ridgeman corrects him:

    http://www.unz.com/jthompson/your-iq-in-90-seconds/
    Science marches on. A researcher writes in to chide me that I have forgotten the fastest intelligence test of all, which masquerades as a simple reading test, but which can reach back 50 years, and in 90 seconds deliver a precise verdict on the best level of ability you had in your prime. Indeed, I had forgotten this test, despite recently using it in clinical practice. All this comes from Edinburgh, where Jean Brodie was in her prime, and where psychometry is now in its prime.

    Picture the scene: the person being tested is handed a page with 50 words printed on it, and asked to read them aloud, one by one. All the examiner has to do is to note whether they have been pronounced correctly. And that’s it. It is called the National Adult Reading Test

  59. Feryl says:
    @jeff stryker

    I always figured that late Boomers (and later generations) came of age in the 1970’s (and subsequent decades) when elite leadership was rapidly becoming more “ethnic” and female, to the point that portraying “our” elite as mostly pallid, thin-nosed, and uptight was utterly ridiculous.

    America in general got rapidly less white after 1970, especially after 1990. Ethnic distinctions among white have blurred to some degree. Younger generations of Jews and Catholic whites realize how stupid it is to claim that WASPs have a strong grasp of our culture and institutions, when said WASPs opened their doors up to other whites in the 1950’s and 60’s, and said WASPs then threw open the borders in the 70’s and 80’s.

    The prole 90’s culture you describe has affected every ethnic group in the lower-middle class.

  60. Feryl says:
    @jeff stryker

    It’s about audience demographics. The heavily white audiences of the 70’s and 80’s wanted featured characters to be mostly white; the two-bit criminals with limited screen time could be what was called, correctly back then, “minorities”. “Blaxploitation” movies generally didn’t have a large audience (Walter Hill was forced to use white actors when he cast The Warriors in ’79). The early 90’s was when a change happened WRT movie casting, presumably for two reasons: Gen X-ers were a much less white demographic than the Boomers, and also, the 90’s is when lots of whites became fascinated by black culture, for some reason.

    In most of the Dirty Harry movies, the white low-lives are portrayed as being disheveled, ugly, and sleazy (I suppose that also true for the non-white low lives), the obvious exception being the vigilante cops in the second movie. Cunning doesn’t really describe Scorpio, or the hippie gang in part 3, or the gang-rapists of part 4*, or the psycho weirdo with the bad blond dye job in part 5 (funny how the worst movie in the series also has the worst villain). Most movies in the 70’s and 80’s tyically portrayed low-lives as being fairly prole-ish; it’s in the 90’s with Hannibal Lector that the trend toward debonair psychos really took off (reality check: most crime is commited by people with little to no money).

    *One of them is a butch woman with an ugly face and even uglier mouth, and even the leader, Mick, has a cruddy hair cut with a small mustache that does him no favors, and it’s not like he dresses like James Bond or anything. It’s funny how these 70’s and 80’s movies tapped into something that’s been confirmed with studies: ugly people commit more crimes.

  61. Feryl says:
    @SunBakedSuburb

    The events that inspired Cruising are interesting, to say the least. NY cops in the 70’s were trying to nail down a serial killer who targeted gay men. I’m too lazy right now to look up more specifics, but it’s not hard to find them if you’re curious. It’s quite a story.

  62. Feryl says:
    @jeff stryker

    Tarantino recently has tried to disguise his played-out schtick by setting movies in various parts of the past, usually well before the 70’s, at that.

    Tarantino has said that he can’t do a “straight” movie, which is weird because he always says that he loves 70’s movies, which typically were made very earnestly. He always seems very show-offey with his approach to movies, approach to interviews, etc. He loves bombast, obviously, but it’s a pretty churlish sort of bombast, nothing that seems all that resonant or “fun” to anyone with a certain level of emotional development.

  63. Feryl says:
    @jeff stryker

    Or let us say a film like CRUISING that simply depicted the truth about gay men. That they have sex with 20 men every weekend. A film like CRUISING, which would never get made today but is accurate.

    Cruising was a bomb; nobody wants to be subjected to that kind of nasty subject matter, unless there is some ray of light shining through (generally provided by a sympathetic and well-meaning protagonist). However, Cruising dealt with such taboo and unpleasant subject matter that I don’t think anything could’ve made it more palatable to the mainstream.

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