Sunday, April 4, 2010

James Bond vs. Today's Hollywood Spies: Where are the Heroes and Bad Guys?


A series of posts by Big Hollywood contributor Leo Grin on Ian Fleming and James Bond prompts the question. Where are the villains and heroes of today? When we have real life villains such as Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova and Umalat Magomedov, the curios absence of villains even remotely resembling the real-life jihadists afflicting the West, Russia, and China is pathetic. Even worse is the matching lack of real heroes. Only throwing off the PC blinders (and catering to a female-dominated PC dogma crowd) can popular culture both regain relevance and provide useful models for boys and men.


Leo Grin's post on how Ian Fleming created James Bond out of an homage to his father who died when he was a child, in World War One, and various men with whom he served in Naval Intelligence during World War Two, prompts the question. Who were the villains, and what was the nature of the hero? What was James Bond really about?

Look at the video below, of various Bond exploits set to the tune of Barry Gray's 007 music:



What is going on? An intrepid secret agent, infiltrates the enemy, and with the aid of gadgets galore causes havoc and escapes, as the Americans come in and blast the enemy apart.

This was not limited to James Bond, either. The clip from UFO (circa 1970) shows the British again fighting the Germans, only this time the Germans are aliens:



Even the Avengers fought WWII all over again:



Note the similarities, jazzy, brassy, opening score. Not much electric guitar (that's American). Various heroes, by turns brash or ruthless, with unconventional allies (often women), using the very latest gadgets to turn the tables and defeat a vastly overpowering enemy. One with more men, or better technology, always more resources and certainly more viciousness, defeated by the very odd-ball, weird, idiosyncratic and very English/British sort of "smallness," with roots in Victorian culture, and celebration of eccentricities. Older, dignified men whose authority is respected, send Steed, or Bond, or John Drake out on dangerous missions with only weird gadgets and beautiful women to accompany their fists and determination. Col Ed Stryker, of course ,runs a modern-day RAF against the Alien Luftwaffe. Even as late as 1970, the end of World War Two was only 25 years distant. Closer in time than the start of the Reagan Administration is to us today.

The national myth of Britain was that even though the Empire was lost after World War Two, by the exhausting effort, the bravery and sacrifice of tough and daring secret agents empowered by the most oddball but devious gadgets, concocted by eccentric geniuses, along with the help of the Americans, had won the day. Saving Western Civilization. From both the Nazi and Soviet tyranny. This is why Bond constantly outwits his enemies with ingenious, World War Two-like gadgets such as cars that convert to submarines, auto-gyros, miniature jets, knives popping out of attache cases, and so on. All while maintaining the composure of a proper English gentlemen.

Then there is John Steed, equally as polished. Fighting all sorts of "home front" enemies. If you prefer, there is also Patrick McGoohan, more clipped and cerebral, and very mocking and ironic, from "Danger Man":



There's even Michael Caine as Harry Palmer in the Ipcress File:



[There is a bit of the opening sequence on Youtube, as well, it cuts off right before the whole point -- after Palmer finds the jewelry left behind in the bed by his paramour, he also finds his gun and secretes it in his waistband. A wordless opener that tells the viewer all he needs to know about Palmer.]

The British Spy heroes might be total gentlemen (Bond, Steed), or cockneys (Palmer), or something in-between (McGoohan's John Drake), but regardless they were very, very British. In Palmer's case, too stubborn, insubordinate, and eccentric to be brain-washed by the Soviet agents.

And not only were the heroes, indeed very recognizable, "National Myth" heroes from World War Two revisited, the music itself was very similar, very British, as Grin notes here, always an element of jazz, lots of brass, a natural evolution from the beloved British military marching bands (itself a feature in the Ipcress File in one key scene).

Not only the heroes came from World War Two. The villains did as well. Particularly for the Bond villains, real organizations were used. SMERSH really existed. The sort of stateless, rootless, vaguely Central European, German, or Baltic villains such as Auric Goldfinger, or the German/Chinese Dr. No, or the classic Ernst Stavros Blofeld, all could have come out of the various hangers on to the Third Reich in Europe or elsewhere.

If Britain's spy heroes were re-fighting World War Two, at a time when most people well-remembered the fight, the villains were all of a type. Vaguely Nazis or allied with them, very little was needed to explain how the villains were evil, and needed to be fought. Needed a hero to oppose them.

Oppose them in a way that was totally opposite. Where the villains ruled by intimidation, fear, and ruthless killing of their subordinates and allies, the heroes willingly accepted orders from the older, fatherly men who sent them out to dangerous missions. Never questioning the rightfulness of being sent to stop the villain. Where the villains have weird, and repellent subordinates with fairly murderous characteristics, the hero's allies are usually beautiful women, and a gadgeteer providing all sorts of things giving him a critical edge. Of course, even the music makes that point, being jazzy and orchestral, the opposite of Teutonic Wagnerian Gotterdammerung, and different from American rock.

No one at the time, needed to know why James Bond had to stop Ernst Stavros Blofeld, or Auric Goldfinger, or Dr. No. They were Nazis, thinly disguised, or Soviet assassins, or both. Enemies that needed stopping.

Now, we have bland and boring, angsty heroes who reject responsibility (the Matt Damon Bourne series), numerous bad guy assassins (the Crank series) implausibly cast as heroes, or low level gangsters forced into some semblance of duty and responsibility (the Transporter Series). Even TV cannot experiment with any meaning to the heroes or depth and evil of the villains. NBC's "My Own Worst Enemy" was its own worst enemy, finding a quickly deserved cancellation, as audiences did not find the premise (a real spy creates a split personality ordinary man to have the ultimate cover) compelling enough. The hero was no hero, and the villains colorless PC bad guys. So too with "24's" Jack Bauer, hand-cuffed by the PC nature of the star demanding a more politically correct approach to villains (again the ultimate villains being boring, politically safe White guys in corporate boardrooms). Or "La Femme Nikita," or "Alias," or NBC's "Chuck," all with endless, soapy love triangles out of "Twilight" and the enemy defined as their own bosses or intelligence services. Endless and meaningless conspiracies, as society cannot define enemies abroad and without, and so must look for culturally safe ones within.

South Park shows there is a market for non-PC conformist humor, and indeed content. That market is mostly male, as women make up the customer base for PC Dogma. Refusing to look real enemies, real villains, and real threats square on, because it would threaten the whole PC agenda. Require a real sorting out of heroes and villains.

Culture is in creative crisis when it cannot even deal, even in disguised mode, with real threats. Due entirely to a blind adherence, religiously, to PC dogma.

TV and movies don't have to depict Muslim Jihadis straightforwardly as the enemy. Ernst Stavros Blofeld and Dr. No worked for SPECTRE, a fictional alliance of crime organizations and bosses, but the real enemy was the amalgamation of rootless, stateless criminals and assassins who helped first the Nazis, and then the Soviets, depending on who was winning. SPECTRE was not the bad guys, really. It was World War Two all over again. Indeed, the very stateless/rootless nature of the bad guys, who believe in nothing but power, was always contrasted by the very rooted in British eccentricity nature of the heroes.

Anyone could figure that a 30 year old jihadi like Magomedev, who apparently met then 16 year old Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova in an online chat room, and semi-abducted her, married her, and then left her a widow at age 17, is the true picture of a villain. The photo of Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova, blank face brandishing what looks like a Makarov, while Magomedev holds a Stechin pistol and and visibly controls her (neither by the way adhering to trigger discipline) is both chilling and evil. Pretty much everyone can figure that her path, and that of her evil husband, is one that should be stopped. Child marriage, likely forcible, the hijab and covering, brandishing weapons Crips/Bloods style, and blowing up innocent Muscovite commuters is something anyone can oppose. It is the ultimate enemy of safe, middle class life the way that the Nazis and Soviets and Japanese were in WWII.

World War Two, Nazis, Soviets, and their various collaborators, are too distant. The end of WWII was 65 years ago. It simply does not have emotional force, any more. Moreover, Western society faces new challenges. That of Jihad, of Islam, of people who figure if they kill enough Muscovites, or New Yorkers, or Beijingers, or Londoners, everyone will submit. Surrender. So that the surviving killers can rule, and for those who don't, well the killing is the point in the first place. Against these real villains, the phony PC villains of corporate executives, the "White Guys in Suits" do not cut it. White guys in corporate boardrooms are subject to massive PC, lawyers everywhere, and don't blow up subways.

All creative people need to do is be … creative. Don't call it jihad, and don't call the bad guys Muslims. Call them something else. Just have lots of covering for women, beards for men, fanatic prayers, suicide bombings, and terrorism.

After all, spy shows are cheap. ITV, not known for its big budgets, had many of them for years. Any quick look at the early Avengers or Danger Man or the Saint will not find massive budgets or highly professional stunts. Men like the action and adventure, and it is quite possible that female audiences hungering for something different than pouty, hunky metrosexuals would find the latter day equivalents to say, Patrick McGoohan, or Roger Moore, or Patrick McNee far more appealing than the glittery gay vampires of "Vampire Diaries" or the rich boy metrosexuals of "Gossip Girl."

Indeed, the shocking thing to comparing TV stars from the 1960's and 1970's, when there was still living memory of just what the sacrifice to win World War Two entailed, is just how masculine the actors appeared, versus the ones of today. McGoohan, Moore, McNee, all are far more masculine than say, Chace Crawford.

Westerns, of course, are not coming back. Ever tighter budgets, and loss of the ability to depict horsemanship and everything else means Hollywood today can't do what it did in 1957, even on TV. Private eye shows, don't seem to be coming back either, though periodic attempts to revive them have been tried. Cop shows are all procedural affairs, which as Ed Bernero points out, are made mostly for a female audience. But spy shows are cheap, and the villains of our time cry out for a creative disguise in an updated Goldfinger or Blofeld.

If Bernero is right, and he makes his living producing TV shows, so he should know what he's doing, the only issue is the largely female line executives at the Broadcast Networks, and likely, the gay executives. Disney is famous for its Princess Factory at the Disney Channel, which openly gay Rich Ross nurtured into a money-making machine. Just as well known, is the complete failure of Disney XD to draw boys. Who knew, that gay men just can't connect with the action and adventure that men and boys want?

NBC ought to be hungrier than most. Their ratings are in the toilet. All the other networks have established shows drawing younger women to hunky vampires, or Desperate Housewives, or multi-threaded soap operas. Simply offer real heroes, reflecting the odd, and unique attributes of Americana, and real villains. Variations of the jihadis who blow people up. Simply make them disguised. Snake worshippers, or black magic devotees, not the obvious Muslim jihadis. This puts CAIR off your back and still allows you to have women dressed in chadors, and guys in beards and skull caps.

This approach makes the writing simpler and easier. No angsty sub-plots, soap operas, or complex arc plotting. Just deadly and dangerous villains, who have to be stopped, and are, by unique and deeply American heroes. A focus on the action, not relationship angst and drama. Which often devolves into self-pity and maudlin sentiment. Keep it simple, and execute.

Up to a point, this is what Burn Notice on USA Network has done. Though even there, the enemies are the own intelligence service, rather than people blowing up innocent commuters. It is time for Hollywood to show some innovation. Otherwise someone else will do it for them. Sooner rather than later.

37 comments:

Rose said...

Where have you been?!

Do you like the new Bond movies? And do you think women are responsible for the '70s death of the unambiguously heroic good-guy hero, replaced by the "flawed," "nuanced," hero that the audience can "relate" to?

Whiskey said...

Press of work-life. Sigh. Never enough time.

I think the death of the unambiguous good guy hero sometime in the 1970's (or perhaps in the 1980's or even 1990's) comes from a variety of factors:

1. The fading of the memory of WWII, in which the struggle was titanic, the margin razor thin, and the enemies monstrous.

2. The Pill, Condom, anonymous urban living, rising income standards for women, delayed marriage, chaotic cohabitation producing a "consumer sexuality" that made men as well as women into commodities rather than traditional romantic/masculine figures.

3. Influence and influx of gays into Hollywood, fashion, television, and advertising producing a more angsty, dark view of human sexuality and heroism.

After all, the "A-Team" was neither angsty nor made up of flawed, nuanced heroes, nor was Magnum P.I., or even the Rockford Files. They might bicker, complain, get cheated, but the heroes were optimistic and fairly simple. Rockford just wanted to get the case out of the way and get paid so he could fish with his Dad. The A-Team wanted to just beat the bad guys. Magnum to solve the case.

It was more the 1990's that saw, with the X-Files, or Buffy, and so on that saw darkness, angst, and such. Note that the earlier shows featured people basically working for themselves. Hard to hate your boss when you are in fact, your boss. The FBI or "Watchers" is a different story.

I think the fading cultural memory of WWII is probably the largest factor though.

kurt9 said...

I've seen the 007 movies so many times that recognize every single scene in the Barry video. One of the cable networks used to run all of the old 007 flicks on the telly during Thanksgiving and Christmas and I used to have it on just to have background scenes and music.

I don't care if I ever don't see another 007 movie again.

virgil xenophon said...

FYI reminder, Whiskey. "Danger Man" was the U.K. title. The US version was titled "Secret Agent" with theme-song "Secret Agent Man" sung by Baton Rouges' Johnny Rivers. Along with "The Avengers" and "The Saint" "Secret Agent" was one of my favorites. One should also include "The Wild Wild West" as yet another thematically close associate with these aforementioned as part of the spy/secret agent formula of strong masculine leads..

Anonymous said...

Whiskey, I suggest you read the original James Bond books written by Fleming himself. Bond was a professional who believed very strongly in Duty.

The villians were the Russian spies, not SPECTRE.

The books confirm your thesis much better than the movies.


One interesting show on TV right now is NCIS. It sometimes has muslim terrorists as the villians and the heroes lack a lot of the nancy boy whiny self doubting that other shows have.

On a related note, I was very disappointing after September 11 when I found out that terrorists weren't suave and sophisticated Europeans (ala Hans Gruber) but instead religious nutters from shit hole in bumfuckistan.

- Breeze

Rose said...

Somehow I assumed it was the seventies because that when the dashing, idealized Captain Kirk turned into an arrogant, test-cheating Nuancy-boy with a bastard kid he never sees. By the sixth movie he’s learned to overcome his “prejudice” against Klingons. (Barf.) In the sixties, they were meant to represent the Soviets and were as bad as the the Federation/America was good, but since communism fell and we’re “friends” with Russia they turned into allies.

Your post reminds me of Wayne's World top ten list "Why We're Bummed Communism Fell", where they worried that spy fiction was going to suck in the future. But, dude, the Jihadis pretty much ARE Bond villains (wealthy and nationless). They are MORE than adequate replacements.

Cannon's Canon said...

I see a market niche for pro wrestling. The established WWE has dumbed down to a PG rated program as Linda McMahon runs for public office. The new TNA promotion is willing to add even just token blood, chair-shots, and soft swear-words. They may not "steal" WWE fans, but rather, appeal to more men who have not watched the great sport of professional mic-working.

In wrestling, you're much more likely to get a hero wearing an American flag cape or a villain identifying with another culture. TNA even introduced a bisexual (male) wrestler the other week. It's much easier to empathize with than Jack Bauer while he's pinned down under fire, having a bluetooth conversation that goes, "Excuse me, madam President, but with all due respect, I feel..."

And while '24' has surely been canceled due to over-the-top female pandering, I appreciate how this season's villains are just as you'd describe - Arab Muslims, unnamed as such, that go around suicide bombing and chopping off heads.

Cannon's Canon said...

Err, didn't mean to sound like I "empathize" specifically with the bisexual male wrestler. He'll likely become a heel that the fans root against.

Anonymous said...

On a related note, I think the reason later John Wayne mpvies became formulaic was because people wanted to see a larger than life, unapologetic masculine hero kicking arse.

If an actor similar to John Wayne could get past the manginas controlling Hollywood I suspect he would become a king of film. People are crying out for good old fashioned heroes.

- Breeze

Anonymous said...

On a related note, I think the reason later John Wayne mpvies became formulaic was because people wanted to see a larger than life, unapologetic masculine hero kicking arse.

If an actor similar to John Wayne could get past the manginas controlling Hollywood I suspect he would become a king of film. People are crying out for good old fashioned heroes.

- Breeze

The Cold Equations said...

The difference between the so-called "war on terror" and the Cold War and WWII is that we weren't selling media to our enemies in the latter two wars. If the bad guys are Muslims, that's 1/6th of the world eliminated as potential customers.

Even South Park has had the obligatory episode, which every TV show has had, in which one of the main characters reports Muslims who act like terrorists to the authorities and gets them in trouble, but it turns out that the Muslims aren't really terrorists, and the person who reported them is an asshole for doing so. South Park followed Auster's first law of majority-minority relations by making the terrorists in that episode turn out to be British Redcoats. Rather PC.

It's probably just as well. I expect that Hollywood and its local imitators in Islamic countries will probably be just as corrosive to Islamic society as it is to ours. If so, they'll end up leaving us alone.

Rob said...

I thought the introduction of the anti-hero (isn't that the same thing as the ambiguous good guy) came in the '60s with the introduction of the spaghetti westerns. There was "The Thomas Crown Affair" also.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey,
You don't have to publish this, but please ponder over it. The Prophet (PBUH) said: Honesty is what is consistent.

As a descendant of Muslim Tatars, I can assure you that this has little to do with Islam, and everything with a natural struggle for freedom of an oppressed people. As Richard Hoste wrote in his recent article, Islam merely increases their will to resist.

It is debatable, but one can honestly argue that Serbia has an historical right to Kosovo. There is something to say for objectivity. But Chechnya is something else entirely. Most of southern Russia is originally non-Russian (Tatar), but was absorbed by force relatively recently. 19th century imperialism destroyed the majority Islamic kingdoms in the area spanning from the Crimea to the caucacus. Some accepted Russian rule in exchange for limited autonomy, but they revolted when communism outlawed their way of life, and were expelled in the 1930s and 40s.

Though originally of Turkish stock, the massive slave trade that went on for a long time in the area gave these peoples significant European blood, and many can not be racially distinguished from the Russians that have destroyed most of their civilization. In fact, from the 13th to the 18th century, White slaves outnumbered Tatars in Southern Russia by 8 to 1*. The consequence of this is that they (like many Russians) have some Asiatic admixture, but have lighter skins than many Greeks. The irony is that by persecuting Chechens, Russian are basically killing the descendants of White Russian slaves. Stalin actually expelled virtually all Chechens and confiscated all their property because some had collaborated with the Germans **. A significant amount were allowed to return in the 1960s on the condition that they gave up their religion, but were never compensated for the immense loss of property they had suffered and were forced to comply with the atheist communist system. So when the Soviet Union collapsed, Chechens hoped that they would be granted freedom like the oppressed Christian peoples of Eastern Europe obtained it. What eventually happened to them that is well known. It is sad that the Russians voluntarily renounced to places such as the Ukraine, which has always been Russian, but wished to retain Chechnya which had just as much right to independence as the others.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery
** http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3509933.stm


So just as in many other places were ``Islamic Terrorism`` (i.e defensive Jihad) is said to be rampant (Palestine, the Philippines, Afghanistan), terrorism often has its roots in legitimate historical grievances. I can understand that you object to Chechens blowing themselves up in subways, but Russians have bombed the hell out of the place in the recent war. And they slaughtered people who are genetically very close to Whites. I don't deny that Chechens have committed acts of barbarism which are unworthy of a European race, but this has to be seen in its proper historical context. It is a fact that Muslims have not waged offensive war against the West since the first world war. 9-11 should be seen as a response to murderous US policies in the Middle East and Western support for Israel. And the ensuing reign of terror upon Western Europe as a resistance to these nation's participation in the Iraq war.

If Russians were truly concerned about preserving their identity, they would stop persecuting their Chechen brethren and start dealing with the increasing population of Black Africans in Moscow.

Here is an article written by a Chechen suicide bomber on what brought him to his act:

http://kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2010/04/01/11799.shtml

As for Dzhanet nd Umalat, they have clearly shown great bravery in standing up for their people. And if there is an afterlife, I don't think they would be excluded from it. Neither would the pious Christian George Habash who originally came up with the idea of targeting Israeli civilians in reprisal for the brutality of their government.

Whiskey said...

Blowing up Russian commuters is unlikely to generate much of anything other than a determination by Russian leaders and their people to simply wipe out nearly every Chechen that can be found.

Indeed, nuclear proliferation, with nukes being eventually available on the open market or at least subject to "borrowing" by factions inside unstable, chaotic nation-tribe agglomerations like Pakistan or faction-ridden places like Iran, guarantee such.

Chechens may or may not have a case for independence, but will achieve nothing but their own elimination by waging guerilla warfare against Russian civilians. If Vladimir Putin killed half the Chechens alive tomorrow, most Russians would view that as a "good start" after the latest bombings.

Hoste, moreover, is wrong. Islam *IS* the problem. My ancestors were "Kings of Ireland" (read: chief cattle thieves), O'Neils and O'Donnells. Kicked off their lands by the English. While shamefully, many East Coast Irish Americans gave money to the IRA up through the 1990's, you did not see them flying planes into Canary Wharf. You did not see the Irish equivalent of the Crotch Bomber, a son of a billionaire Nigerian Banker living in a 2 million pound London Flat, trying to blow himself up over the Six counties. Much less an Italian, or Brazilian, or Haitian Catholic.

Islam's polygamy like that of the 19th Century Mormons makes them a threat against all non-Polygamists, and indeed themselves. Its a basic resource catch -- not enough women. Who must in a polygamous society (think about it) be virgins, "unshared" with other men, etc. If Islam suddenly got rid of polygamy, world-wide, they would soon turn into colorful Mormons. But then they would cease to be Muslims.

Whiskey said...

I do agree, that there is a huge opportunity for traditional straight-ahead masculine heroics. Hollywood seems incapable of doing this, because it is catering to a mostly female audience, and is over-represented with gays as a result in key creative places.

Anonymous said...

The practice of polygamy was most widespread at times when slaves abounded. At that time, it had no negative influence on the cohesion of Islamic society. Rulers had huge harems without in any way provoking revolt. Until the 19th century, even poor Arabs could afford African slaves . In Africa and Asia, many small non-Muslim nations, which could have been destroyed, were tolerated on the condidition that they provide slaves. In Muslim Iberia, some Christian kingdoms survived many centuries that way. When the Tatars raided Moscow, they did not exterminate all the Christians of Russia; they were content to enslave some Christians while leaving most to reproduce. This was brutal, no doubt, but if Europeans had treated all non-Whites that way, at least some of their civilizations may have been preserved.

Of course one can't have any form of polygamy practiced on a large scale in any society without a large slave class. By forcing Muslims to abolish slavery, traditional Islamic society was very much destabilized. I think that the historical record shows that slaves were reasonably treated in Islam. The Quran considers mistreatment of slaves to be a major sin, enjoining Muslims to “feed our slaves with what we feed ourselves” and “clothe our slaves with what we clothe ourselves”. Examples of slaves climbing the hierarchy of Muslim societies are plentiful. I can understand that European Imperialists ended the White slave trade, which my ancestors depended on. But not understandable that they forced Muslims to give up their practice of traditional slavery and release even non-European slaves.

Slavery may be an injustice, but in many cases it ennobles the slave-owner as much as marriage. A man with with a slave or a wife, even if he is poor, is less likely to engage in immoral or risky pursuits, as he has much more to lose. This was not only true in Islam, but this also held true for the Southern United States, as George Fitzhugh documented.

After succeeding in abolishing the relatively humane form of slavery that subsisted in the American South, Western abolitionists became obsessed with ending the even more humane form of slavery practiced in the Middle-East. Interestingly, some 19th century French and English intellectuals understood that forcibly abolishing domestic slavery in the Middle-East would be the best way to foster revolt and hatred of the colonial powers. There warning were not heeded. And indeed, the poor merchants and farmers whose (mostly female) slaves were taken away played a major part in the revolts against the French and British colonial powers : the lower middle-class of Muslim society was no longer able to get any women, while the elite continued to practice polygamy. When the US conquered the Philippines, they were welcomed by the Islamic Moro kingdom, which was never conquered by the Spanish. Relations remained excellent until the US administration decided to force them to abolish traditional domestic slavery. Because most Moro women were married to a few leaders with huge harems, while almost all males owned slaves, this demand immediately caused a massive rebellion, which ended up with the complete destruction of Moro civilization and the slaughter of all their elites,. Even today, hatred of America is still widespread amongst the few remaining Muslims of the island.

Anonymous said...

The leaders of some Muslim countries now practice polygamy as a way to prevent the youth from becoming too Westernized. It is a brilliant move of the elite of some Islamic resistance movements, such as Hamas, to heavily practice polygamy themselves while simultaneously tolerating Western cultural influence, which effects mostly women: they know that the shortage of available women will prevent most young males from becoming influenced by Western ideas anyway. In these places, Westernized women delay marriage because of studies, while traditional women are quickly married to the elite. Young men notice these phenomena, and tend to blame the Westernized women and what they represent and not the practice of polygamy. Hence militant organizations such as Hamas, which periodically lose most of their militants (all young males), are not likely to suffer from a shortage of recruits.

In monogamous societies, self-sacrifice is much rarer because everyone has something to lose.

This is a indeed major reason why Muslims are more likely to use violence against their enemies than other peoples Perhaps their response to injustices would be more peaceful if they had more to lose. Polygamy and slavery are supposed to be together for society to run smoothly. Paradoxically, It would would have been in the interest of the Imperial powers and traditional Islam not to abolish domestic slavery in the the Islamic world, even if the slave trade itself had to be abolished.

Anonymous said...

@ Rob:

The 'anti-hero' was around long before Spaghetti Westerns (though not a repetivie archetype). Look at Bogart's characters in the Maltese Falcon or Casablanca. And then there is John Wayne as Ethan Edwards in the Searchers. Not to mention Rhett Butler had anti-hero tendencies.
There are probably many more examples.

On a related note the character of Harry Lime (from the Third Man) is a true villian (and a real bastard) but many people considered him so likeable he had his own spin off radio play.


- Breeze

Whiskey said...

Slavery is a bane on any society. It had always been the weakness of the Spartans, and proved their undoing. When the Romans had but few slaves, they could withstand horrific losses, of 50-70K a piece in Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae. When in the 400's, a quarter of the population was slave, the Romans were easily beaten by generally leaderless Germanic tribesman who lacked any of the brilliance of Hannibal, or his charisma, or his tactical genius.

The South, using slaves, lacked the mechanization and industrial power of the North, and despite idiotic generals among the North until late, with Sherman and Grant, and very good ones in the South, lost. Lost for lack of supplies, equipment, and war-fighting machinery. In near servile conditions after the War, the South lingered, and did not revive until Segregation's end created a tighter labor market.

Cheap labor is a trap, and the cheapest of them all is slaves. Who retard wealth creation by a broad spectrum of men who put their all into either fighting for society in war or creating prosperity for their own account in peace.

This is why the servile Greeks, who created the Parthenon, under the Muslim rule as semi-slaves, did nothing, while Gauls and Briton inheritors, who were barbarous nothings in Roman times, built massive empires on the backs of mostly free men at home. With better guns, more powerful ships, and technology, every generation.

The point remains, Islam and Muslims make excellent villains. Their alien ways, disgusting to Westerners beliefs, particularly forced/arranged marriages, polygamy, and suicide bombing, make them comic book villains. Simply go with it.

Make Muslims snake worshippers, or pyromaniacs, or Satan Worshippers. The more ludicrous (and insulting) the better, along with obvious denials (i.e. it is a plot by a South-Park like giant alien spider).

Then Hollywood can say, no we're making fun of people who worship giant alien spiders. Muslims, that's not you now is it?

Anonymous said...

Stargate SG1 in its last seasons actually had a very "Islam-like" villain.

The Ori demanded unquestioning worship, promised ascendence to a paradise plane of existence. They also used terrorism (bioterrorism) to subjugate newly conquered peoples.

Dress a prior in black and voila you have something like a Taliban or Mullah.

Kinuachdrach said...

"I do agree, that there is a huge opportunity for traditional straight-ahead masculine heroics. Hollywood seems incapable of doing this ..."

Whiskey -- your take, please, on on why no one has filled the gap.

What Hollywood can't do provides an opportunity for others. Nature, and economics, supposedly abhor a vacuum.

Russia has great movie-making capabilities (e.g., Night Watch, Day Watch, Admiral; trailers on You Tube) -- and the skills to make movies in English. Bollywood has even more facility with English, and could bring in the Russians to help out with plots. Both Russia & India could produce top-notch male-appealing material at a fraction of the cost of even New Zealand or Canada. And there are distribution channels which completely avoid Hollywood, such as Netflix and direct-to-TV.

But this has not happened, despite the obvious existence of a vast under-served market, in the US and elsewhere in the effete world of the West. The vacuum remains unfilled. What is the obstacle?

Anonymous said...

Whiskey,

I must admit I thought about you the other night. I made a late-night-run to a convienience store. It was about 11:50. There is a store in a strip mall right beside the store I was going to, ensconced between Dunkin Donughts, and Pizza Hut. There is a "Game Stop" store (or some such) where computer games are sold.

11:50 at night, a weeknight. The damend place was full. There were people lined up OUTSIDE. Im thinking W-T-F??? Im guessing some new game was being released or whatever, but there had to be 25-30 people there at almost midnight on a weeknight.

All males as far as I could tell. They dont do this for new records anymore when Band X or Y has a new release due. Its crazy. Video games aren't --that--swelteringly fun. I mean, one can wait until morning, cant they?

Amazing. I guess games really are the new music of our time for males.

Ronduck said...

Whiskey, I know you love pushing how female taste has ruined America's media, but would you do a post on the Protestant/Catholic divide in voting. In order for Obama to get elected a major section of the White electorate had to side with the coloreds and vote Democratic, and that section is composed of White Catholics.

If you look at this you will see that WC's sided with Obama, and if you look here you will see that Mainline Protestants equivocated, and Evangelicals sided with McCain.

So Papists sided with Obama, Mainliners split the difference, and Evanglicals went for McCain. Speaking objectively, the White Catholic vote gave us Obama.

Truth(er) said...

" do agree, that there is a huge opportunity for traditional straight-ahead masculine heroics. Hollywood seems incapable of doing this ..."

Whiskey -- your take, please, on on why no one has filled the gap."

The reason why no one has filled the gap is because the public will not go for something completely new. That is why you don't see any truly "masculine-oriented" TV shows. They would be so different compared to what is being churned out now that they could never make any money.

The proper approach would be to create a show that is 90% of what exists now, but create 10% layer that provides a real distinction.

I believe "Burn Notice" and "Psych" do this very well.

Nine-of-Diamonds said...

"Westerns, of course, are not coming back. Ever tighter budgets, and loss of the ability to depict horsemanship and everything else means Hollywood today can't do what it did in 1957, even on TV."

I believe you posted earlier about how Video Games have been displacing TV as a means of entertainment for men aged 18-35. You might want to know that there's been a resurgence in Western-themed titles in the past several years. "Call of Juarez" and its sequel "CoJ Bound in Blood" were reasonably popular; the upcoming Western "Red Dead Redemption" has been massively hyped and is regarded as the new benchmark for "sandbox" games, taking over from smash hit GTA 4. Interestingly, these Westerns seem less hampered by Pee Cee than the sitcoms/"action" TV series you dislike. A few examples:

-An unabashedly Christian (albeit unbalanced) hero in Call of Juarez

-Some factions of American Indians in CoJ are hostile and must be killed, without any white guilt hand-wringing by the hero

-CoJ's sequel, set in the Civil War era, allies the player with Confederates and accurately depicts Union soldiers' depradations

-Red Dead Redemption will feature a number of homosexual and Mexican characters with unattractive personality traits - on network TV, this would be pretty much inconceivable (save the stereotyped closeted white male Republican, latino "sell-out", etc.)

-On a related note, RDD will show Mexico's dysfunction in unflattering detail, with not only Rightists but Leftist revolutionaries exploiting the peasantry.

I wouldn't worry too much about the "gay/female ghetto" - most men my age either seem to tune out its preaching or actively seek entertainment where gays/feminists have not yet seized control of the creative process.

Anonymous said...

'a 30 year old jihadi like Magomedev, who apparently met then 16 year old Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova in an online chat room, and semi-abducted her, married her, and then left her a widow at age 17, is the true picture of a villain. '

Don't be naive.

In the Muslim countries, 30-year-old men marry 16-year-old girls.

In the Western countries, the 16-year-old girls dose themselves with oral contraceptives and then go out and seduce dozens of random men, ages 21 to 41.

Do you really think the West is nobler than Islam because it prevents hot-blooded girls from having sex within marriage? The girls who really want romance will get it, unless they are locked into chastity belts and confined to nunneries.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Alan Sabrosky, Former Director of Studies at the US Army War College:

The Military Knows Israel Did 9/11

TGGP said...

As pointed out above, there was no SPECRE in the original books. It was a P.C anti-anti-communist move not to offend the Russians that SMERSH was replaced by such a ridiculous organization. Wikipedia says "SMERSH never appears in the official film series". And the Soviets had the transnational ideology appealing to "stateless" persons, Nazism is inherently a highly nationalist ideology.

I think the reason we don't have movies of heroes fighting these Chechen "black widows" (maybe they do in Russia) is the same logic followed by Sherlock Holmes and Law & Order. Martin van Creveld famously said that the strong who fight the weak become weak, and that's more true in drama than anything else. We want villains who are nearly a match for the heroes, to increase the tension and make their defeat all the more satisfying. Actual criminals tend to be a boring, dysfunctional lot.

At my blog I've got a graph of how viewers of different TV programs vote, both their frequency and party.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

Video games aren't necessarily safe either. For starters, feminist game journalists are bringing their neuroses over into the gaming world. In this gringe-inducing interview, the writer puts a developer on the spot by demanding to know why there is a sexy woman in Mass Effect 2 and why there's a brief shot of her ass during a scene. She also interviewed the game's developers about another subject: the lack of homosexuality in the game. You can play as either male or female and engagage in heterosexual and lesbian relationships, but homosexuality is out. In some other games by the same company, it's possible to have gay relationships, but even this isn't enough to maintain their PC street cred. They opened Pandora's box and now they gotta have a gay parade in every game they make. Forever.

Here's a feminist screech about a fictional setting that is not gender equal. You see, in the post-apocalyptic world of Gears of War, where humanity struggles against another species, women are not fighting in the war because there are few people and they are needed to make more, as well as support the war effort (I presume). Only women incapable of reproduction are allowed to serve in the military. But of course this is not acceptable, because even fictional worlds must abide by the principles of feminism! GoW is an exaggeratedly hyper-masculine game obviously aimed at young men, but it simply won't do that women are left out. The writer even thinks that the game's characters must be gay because so few women are involved. Is that shaming language I hear?

There is also a feminist gaming site, which seems only peripherally related to video games.

Time will tell if feminists will succeed in hijacking video games.

TGGP said...

I think they'll actually have to start playing games rather than merely complaining about them. There are some decent games made by women in the interactive fiction world though.

We might compare conservative complaints about Hollywood.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Anyone could figure that a 30 year old jihadi like Magomedev, who apparently met then 16 year old Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova in an online chat room, and semi-abducted her, married her, and then left her a widow at age 17, is the true picture of a villain. The photo of Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova, blank face brandishing what looks like a Makarov, while Magomedev holds a Stechin pistol and and visibly controls her (neither by the way adhering to trigger discipline) is both chilling and evil. Pretty much everyone can figure that her path, and that of her evil husband, is one that should be stopped. Child marriage, likely forcible, the hijab and covering, brandishing weapons Crips/Bloods style, and blowing up innocent Muscovite commuters is something anyone can oppose. It is the ultimate enemy of safe, middle class life the way that the Nazis and Soviets and Japanese were in WWII.

Villains they may be, but only to the extent black underclass thugs (who exact a much higher death toll) are villains. That is, they are a couple of barely literate Chechen gangbangers who managed to sneak some C4 aboard a subway train without blowing themselves up in their apartment. As you note, they don't even know how to handle a couple of pistols. In a society that allowed freedom of association and didn't handcuff social mores by political correctness, they'd be lucky to get past the turnstiles.

This is the nub of your problem. Some very simple steps could defeat Islamic militants, and people realize this. Bronson v. Brooklyn street scum = believable; James Bond v. Chechen street scum = not believable.

Whiskey said...

Except nukes change things. James Bond or Jack Bauer trying to stop a nuke going off, in Mecca, or Jerusalem, or New York City, or London, is believable.

So too is an attempt to stop a faction of the ISI, from oh I dunno, starting a nuclear war with India by attacking Bombay or the Indian Parliament.

Or a dirty bomb, or flying a small plane into a baseball stadium, or an attack with a drone carrying poison gas like Mustard Gas (i.e. 1915 technology).

All of these are real threats. Jihadists are strong: they have impregnable, alien bases with people who don't look, act, talk, or believe in the same basic ideas as us. They have access to equalizers. A Diaspora network of safe houses and enablers. The internet creating 24/7 lone wolf distractions.

All of these guys are enemies. Even Russia, under Putin, could not stop the bombers. With no concerns over profiling, or human rights, or lawyers.

This suggests events are rapidly spinning out of control. With a real enemy.

[SMERSH was in from Russia With Love. SPECTRE was Fleming's creation out of fear that the Cold War would soon end, as Ike engaged in Open Skies negotiations.]

Anonymous said...

Even Russia, under Putin, could not stop the bombers. With no concerns over profiling, or human rights, or lawyers.

Assuming, of course, that Putin wants to stop the bombers. And that the bombers were Chechen in the first place.

Vito said...

Muslims need to be nude when when out in public. That will put an end to suicide bombings. Calling Black Jack Pershing.

Statsaholic said...

"The photo of Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova, blank face brandishing what looks like a Makarov, while Magomedev holds a Stechin pistol and and visibly controls her..."

If you think a Man controlling a Woman lets her hold a Gun, you truly have no understanding of anything..

Statsaholic said...

"...child marraige..."

Marrying a 16 year old female is NOT child marriage.

A 16 year old is a fertile Woman in every way.

Anonymous said...

We should abduct and castrate powerful Muslims and/or their sons, so their polygamy doesn't work.