Directed by the Coen brothers, reviewed by Dr John K Press
Hail, Caesar! is another Coen Brothers masterpiece. Culturist themes abound in this film (see www.culturism.us). We can take it as a parable asking us to choose between worshipping Caesar and God; as questioning America’s economy moving from industry to culture; and as showing how religion and the modern intersect. But, more significantly, Hail, Caesar! high lights the disjuncture between the wholesomeness of the films of the 1940s and early 1950s and the apparently seedy reality behind the scenes. Yet, in reminding us how pure they were, Hail, Caesar! makes us consider how degenerate today’s films are. Furthermore, as it features communists in the film industry, Hail, Caesar! suggests that today’s films became unwholesome due to a communist plot.
The tagline of Hail, Caesar! is ‘Lights. Camera. Abduction.’ And the abduction it ostensibly refers to is the kidnapping of a movie star (George Clooney) by a group of communists. But this tagline also stands for the communists’ abduction of our entire culture by the ‘Lights [and] Camera’ of our film industry. To make the symbolism clearer, when captured, the movie star is dressed as a Roman – a symbol of western civilization, power and stoic virtue. The movie being filmed when Clooney is abducted, Hail, Caesar!, is a re-make of Ben-Hur: The Story of The Christ. We see a meeting wherein religious leaders discuss its potential to offend Christianity that bulwark against subversion. These meetings are now evidently off the agenda.
In Hail, Caesar, communists subvert America under the leadership of Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979). In the 1920s, since workers had failed to arise and institute communism outside of Russia, the Frankfurt School formed in Germany to foment revolution from different marginalised groups, such as racial and sexual minorities. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjaBpVzOohs). This was the birth of cultural Marxism and multiculturalism. From the Frankfurt School we get the idea that patriotism is an authoritarian neurosis and that family life is based on unhealthy sexual repression. Herbert Marcuse was a Frankfurt School luminary who moved to America, taught at Columbia University, and became a darling of the 1960s New Left. He gave us the idea of political correctness (which he called repressive tolerance) wherein free speech only applied to progressive ideas. (http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/pubs/60spubs/65repressivetolerance.htm) By focusing on Marcuse, Hail, Caesar! alludes to the Frankfurt School’s conscious destruction of the West via multiculturalism.
Clooney, the abducted Roman, wakes up in a house full of communist Hollywood writers, arrayed around Marcuse. The gathered communist writers each represent real people blacklisted by the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Dalton Trumbo is immediately recognizable. HUAC was a US government committee formed to get rid of communists in Hollywood. Those found to have had communist connections were blacklisted; they could no longer work. Though HUAC is now seen as oppressive, in Hail, Caesar! the writers give several examples of subversive communist messages successfully put into major films. And Clooney is converted to communism, showing how duping is possible.
Famously, Joseph McCarthy attempted to root out communism in the American government. But, dangerous as were McCarthy’s targets, the Frankfurt School were arguably even more so. Thanks to their long march through the universities, generations of professors and students have swallowed the multicultural narrative wherein minorities celebrate overcoming their marginalization by evil whites. And, as this has become the default position of our culture, communists no longer need secret cells to subvert us. The communist ideological takeover via multiculturalism is complete! This is the philosophy behind open borders and Black Lives Matter. And this is exactly what the pro-Western philosophy of culturism – the opposite of multiculturalism – fights against.
In the final climactic scene of Hail, Caesar!, in a film within a film, the previously kidnapped Clooney, dressed as a Roman, speaks of his conversion (to communism?). Clooney tells of Christ giving water without regard to status. Selling Christ as a harbinger of egalitarian material distribution indicates that communists wrote this script. Furthermore, the only sin identified is ‘greed.’ For the Frankfurt School, promoting every sin except greed was central to their attempt to undermine the West. In telling us about the Frankfurt School’s subversion and then placing it in the climactic speech, the Coens train us to look for subversion in the media.
It is remarkable to see a film that features Marcuse and that so directly demonstrates the Frankfurt School’s endeavor to subvert the West by means of multiculturalism. Yet, admittedly, the Coens’ might instead be arguing that the subversion of 1940s-50s cinematic sensibility was natural and inevitable. In this context, the gay subtext behind Hollywood musicals and the foul mouthed girls behind the pure, sublime water ballet films, are indicatively prominent. Perhaps these pristine art forms died because (as the unbelievably wholesome Midwestern cowboy character repeats) reality is “not so simple.” So, ultimately, the answer to the question, ‘What made Hollywood abandon patriotic idealism?’, is ambiguous. Yet the movie, nevertheless, directly demonstrates the Frankfurt School’s conscious attempt to subvert our culture, reminding us that cultural subversion is ‘not so innocent.’
John K. Press, Ph.D., teaches culturism at a university in South Korea. He is the author of the book, Culturism: A Word, A Value, Our Future. More information can be found at www.culturism.us