‘Knives out’ – new film from ‘The Last Jedi’ director Rian Johnson – sharpens the blade of anti-white racism

I recently watched The Birth of a Nation (1915), D.W. Griffith’s century old ode to the Ku Klux Klan. Griffith’s masterpiece is a disgusting piece of racial propaganda, but it was a huge box office success and no doubt kicked off Hollywood’s long and ugly history of demeaning and belittling portrayals of people of color in its movies. 

I thought of The Birth of a Nation while watching Knives Out this week. Knives Out, a star-studded and fun-loving murder mystery that boasts a 92 percent audience score at Rotten Tomatoes, has banked over $128 million at the box office. 

You may be wondering why on earth something as seemingly innocent as Knives Out made me think of The Birth of a Nation? Well, when I went and saw Knives Out, I fully expected a light-hearted and comedic take on the whodunit genre, but what I got instead was a politically charged, thinly veiled allegory of immigration in America fueled by a pernicious anti-white racism. The racial animus on display in Knives Out is certainly not as vicious as anything seen in The Birth of a Nation, but it is just as gratuitous.

The plot of Knives Out revolves around the death of successful crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who may or may not have committed suicide. Harlan’s Latina immigrant nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas), is the protagonist of the story, and she works with famed private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to try and solve the case. 

The main suspects are Harlan’s adult children Walt and Linda, Linda’s husband Richard, a widowed daughter-in-law, Joni, and the grandchildren, chief among them Ransom. The Thrombeys all have a reason for wanting Harlan dead, the most notable of which is inheriting his vast fortune and palatial estate.

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The Thrombeys are the picture of spoiled white privilege as they live off their father’s largess, and are so self-absorbed they can’t even be bothered to remember what Latin American country Marta originally came from. They are a conniving and scheming bunch who, without hesitation, threaten to have Marta and her family deported when she becomes a threat to their fortune. 

Knives Out drips with a visceral hatred for white people that permeates its every scene. All the white characters are portrayed as morally, ethically and intellectually revolting. It isn’t just the rich Thrombeys who are held up for scorn by Knives Out, as the film’s anti-white animus crosses class barriers as well. For example, even the Thrombey’s white housekeeper, Fran, is shown to be greedy and duplicitous. Another example is Trooper Wagner, a dim-witted white police officer obsessed with pop culture who provides comedic relief by being an empty-headed buffoon. 

In contrast to the loathsome and irredeemable white characters, the Latina immigrant Marta is portrayed as a near saint, so much so that she is literally incapable of lying without vomiting. Marta is inherently noble and good, which is very evident when the watchdogs do her the courtesy of never barking at her, and also when the esteemed Benoit Blanc simply declares her to be “a good person” upon meeting her and takes her on as his accomplice in solving the crime. But even Blanc is not up to Marta’s intellectual standard as she consistently outwits him in some of the movie’s funniest scenes. 




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I enjoy it when a film has a political perspective, and I think making the immigration debate a part of a film’s text or sub-text is a noble venture, but that venture loses its moral authority when the politics put forth are as racially-driven, odious and insipid as that on display in Knives Out

Hollywood has long misrepresented minorities with cheap caricature and stereotype because it is the easy path. The hard path is that of nuance, where characters, regardless of race, are comprised of differing shades and motivations that highlight their humanity. When even the most villainous of characters are multi-dimensional, art flourishes and insight is soon to follow… look no further than the artistic and commercial success of Joker for evidence of that. But when characters are stereotyped and caricatured, especially out of racial animosity, art stagnates and insights recede; Knives Out is proof of that. 

What is seemingly contradictory about Knives Out being insidious anti-white propaganda is that the film is written and directed by a white man, Rian Johnson, and the cast is majority white. This should come as no surprise though, as it has become de rigueur out here in Hollywood for white people to consistently self-loathe over their whiteness. 

White social justice warriors basking in self-loathing is the most vacuous and common form of virtue signaling nowadays. Woke white self-flagellation has become performance art posing as racial sensitivity that, in actuality, is the most pernicious form of cheap grace as it costs the self-loather nothing and reduces fighting racism to mere narcissism and masturbatory theatre. 




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It is understandable with the ugly history of racism in Hollywood that filmmakers would want to push in the opposite direction, but countering the demeaning and belittling portrayals of minorities with equally demeaning and belittling portrayals of white people is not a solution to the evil of racism, but a continuation of it. 

What I find so unnerving is that audiences are so enamored with Knives Out. I guess the film’s success at getting white people to cheer their own degradation, and by film’s end, their own demise, is a testament to American’s susceptibility to propaganda and their addiction to celebrity culture.

Sadly, Knives Out teaches us that the knives of racism are still out in American culture, they are just pointing in a different direction. Some people want to celebrate that notion… I’ll hold my cheers until the knives of racism are sheathed and not pointing at anybody.

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