When you see Ryan Gosling in The Believer, you will be taken aback by how good this young actor is, you will barrack for him, your heart may break in sympathy for him, but if you live to be a million you won’t understand him. I imagine only a handful of people in the world could. May I leave this hanging and urge you to see the movie. To see it to best effect don’t read a thing about it, don’t read the movie cover, just buy it and press the play key. Shame on the US for their censorship of such a fine movie.
When you see Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper, you will be taken aback by how good this young actor is, you will not barrack for him, your heart will remain stony, and you will think to yourself that if you live to be a million years you won’t understand him. Also the victim of US censorship, but not as brutally as The Believer, which was not even permitted release, whereas a cleaned up version of Romper Stomper was.
The odd thing about this is that Russell Crowe, the vicious skinhead with murder in his brain (note, brain not heart), is everybody. You or me, in fact more or less anybody except Gosling in The Believer. The irony will be evident to anybody who has seen both movies. When Romper Stomper was released in Australia it was to some debate as to whether it was acceptable to portray Russell and his cohorts as human, the Vietnamese as faceless teeming hordes. It was abhorrent to all those people who saw themselves as ‘OMG I’m so not like that. I mean, us? Racist? Brutal? No, no, NO!’ But if there were true, really true, then Hitler never would have happened – or rather, he would have happened, but it would be the history of art paying the price. There would have been no Nazis, no racist brutal treatment of Jews. You, dear reader, can’t have it both ways. You can’t say ‘Hey, those Germans? Would have done the same myself, I’m no hero.’ whilst sitting in a movie theatre throwing stones at Russell Crowe. Isn’t it interesting how being removed from a situation changes it? We all feel so very comfortable absolving Germans from what happened leading up to WWII. But watch a depiction of our neighbour bashing his neighbour and we are all offended by it. I write this down to make the point that the way that won’t happen, we all becoming skinheads or some other variety of the like, is by being aware that they are us.
Maybe this too. Russell Crowe’s character has a straightforward sensible analysis of how he has been deprived of a life. The rich people bring in the Vietnamese (etc) so that they can pay them less for doing the work they would have to pay white Australians more to do. A cry, I imagine, that is echoed by such people around the world. And the really horrific thing is that it is true. Even better, though, for the rich white people such as those reading this – I imagine there wouldn’t be too many people sitting on the internet interacting on goodreads who aren’t – we can get the Vietnamese (etc) to do things cheaply for us instead of paying our white neighbours to do it without even bringing them in to our society. We can do it over the internet. Or have the equivalent of World Bank free trade zones even in Europe. Areas where companies like Amazon employ slavish labour so that you on goodreads can tell each other about the books available there, so much cheaper than if you went to your local bookstore. HP Switzerland can outsource tech advice so that the person you talk to is Mohammed in Tunisia. No need to pay Mohammed a fair Swiss wage, HP Switzerland continues to increase its profits, as they lose their jobs, white Swiss people start wondering what the fuck is going on, scarcely realising that they are both perpetrator and victim.
Meanwhile, rich white people will continue to rationalise what they do by talking about helping others. Why shouldn’t Mohammed in Tunisia have a job? Why indeed. And I hope when YOUR job has been outsourced to a person the other side of the world being paid a tiny fraction of what you used to be paid, and you are on the dole, the bank is repossessing your home and the rest of it, as you wander around the wasteland of your suburb that used to have a high street and an ambience, that you stick up for this fine principle you have exploited to save a few dollars here and there to spend on your holiday to the Galapagos.
But then, if there were happening, you wouldn’t be sitting here reading my pontifiations on goodreads, you’d be starting, just starting, to think ‘hmmm. Those skinheads…maybe there’s something -‘ but hey, sorry. Not you. Not me. We’re all different, right? We’d quietly put up with it. Heck, maybe we’d start working for five bucks an hour or whatever those Vietnamese (etc) are being paid. And be grateful that our rich white neighbours and friends are tossing that to us. Yes indeedy, that’s what we’d be like.