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Inglorious Bastards

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I agree with the following review completely (bold mine).

http://www.newsweek.com/2009/08/13/inglourious-basterds-when-jews-attack.html

Ewww. I think attempting to substitute pacifism for justice is very great moral failure itself.

And yes, it is pacifism being upheld as the moral ideal in that review because if the middle of a war is not an appropriate moral context to fight back against evil with violence then violence is never justified period, which is the pacifist conclusion.

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Ewww. I think attempting to substitute pacifism for justice is very great moral failure itself.

And yes, it is pacifism being upheld as the moral ideal in that review because if the middle of a war is not an appropriate moral context to fight back against evil with violence then violence is never justified period, which is the pacifist conclusion.

If I or that reviewer had said that it was immoral to show a movie where Jews fight back then THAT would be pacifism. In no way do I advocate pacifism, I think killing Nazis is fine. Instead I am saying that mutilating Nazis makes the mutilator as bad as the Nazi. It is sickening to have to watch rounds of bullets being carved into Hitler's head. It is sickening to watch a baseball bat dent the Nazi officer's skull while they are alive. Would I have assassinated Hitler given half a chance? Yes. Would I have mutilated his body? No. That would be sick. Being sick is what Nazis are and were. We degrade ourselves if we stoop to their level.

The worst bit in the film was obviously the scene where the Nazis are trapped in the cinema and are burned alive while machine gun fire is unloaded into their backs. The fact that this stuff actually happened to Jews and is now being casually perpetrated on film (while the audience is meant to feel sadistic glee) makes me so so seethingly angry. Its outrageous. Words cannot describe the moral sewer that has been wallowed in here.

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Instead I am saying that mutilating Nazis makes the mutilator as bad as the Nazi. It is sickening to have to watch rounds of bullets being carved into Hitler's head. It is sickening to watch a baseball bat dent the Nazi officer's skull while they are alive. Would I have assassinated Hitler given half a chance? Yes. Would I have mutilated his body? No.

You do realize you say this from sterile comfort of the movie reviewer's seat and not as the person who may have been faced with such moral decisions in real life circumstances? I have to ask, what similar experience do you have that you can make such a pronouncement of what "you would do" in such an extreme situation as veterans of WWII and Jewish victims were faced? It's always easy to say what we would do IF we were in the driver's seat. it's usually quite another thing being the driver.

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You do realize you say this from sterile comfort of the movie reviewer's seat and not as the person who may have been faced with such moral decisions in real life circumstances? I have to ask, what similar experience do you have that you can make such a pronouncement of what "you would do" in such an extreme situation as veterans of WWII and Jewish victims were faced? It's always easy to say what we would do IF we were in the driver's seat. it's usually quite another thing being the driver.

Fair enough. I'll change my comment from "Would I have assassinated Hitler given half a chance? Yes. Would I have mutilated his body? No." to "Would I have made a movie about assassinating Hitler given half a chance? Yes. Would I have shown sadistic mutilation of his body in such a movie? No."

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[...] THAT would be pacifism.

Hopefully you can understand why one would think you had advocated pacifism --> from the review you quoted:

An alternative, and morally superior, form of "revenge" for Jews would be to do precisely what Jews have been doing since World War II ended: that is, to preserve and perpetuate the memory of the destruction that was visited upon them [...]

That, to me, advocates pacifism. I will gladly take your word though that that is not what you are advocating.

Worse to me though is the moral equivocation between aggressors and defenders that is going on here:

Instead I am saying that mutilating Nazis makes the mutilator as bad as the Nazi. It is sickening to have to watch rounds of bullets being carved into Hitler's head. It is sickening to watch a baseball bat dent the Nazi officer's skull while they are alive. Would I have assassinated Hitler given half a chance? Yes. Would I have mutilated his body? No. That would be sick. Being sick is what Nazis are and were. We degrade ourselves if we stoop to their level.

The worst bit in the film was obviously the scene where the Nazis are trapped in the cinema and are burned alive while machine gun fire is unloaded into their backs. The fact that this stuff actually happened to Jews and is now being casually perpetrated on film (while the audience is meant to feel sadistic glee) makes me so so seethingly angry. Its outrageous. Words cannot describe the moral sewer that has been wallowed in here.

You raise two issues in your questions above. Twice you say it is "sickening to watch" which is an issue of aesthetics. You also raise questions of morality and justice. Let us take them one at a time and see if the particular acts in the movie were immoral or unjust.

First we must recall the context of history: the Nazis were aggressively initiating force and the Allies were defending themselves from Nazi aggression. So really it is unjust to compare the people who are doing whatever they have to to defend themselves with the initiators of force against them and declare them "as bad as the Nazi". That isn't true in any situation I've ever heard of, can think of, or, as far as I'm concerned, any situation portrayed in the movie. Certainly there were many people in Germany and Japan who were "mutilated" by our bombs and I find that completely justified.

As to shooting Hitler's head off: Gruesome? yes (though he was already dead); Unjust? no; Immoral for the one doing the act? I think not in the full context of who Hitler was; Immoral for us to choose to watch and to derive some satisfaction from it? Again, I think not, remember we are talking about HITLER here. This guy never had to account for his actions, he killed himself rather than explain himself. There is some satisfaction in seeing Hitler get what he deserves, even if it is just fictional -- in fact, all the more reason that he receive a double dose of justice.

As to the Nazi officer and the baseball bat: This act was completely justified and moral. There was a Nazi patrol in the orchard which was a threat to Raine's raiders, Aldo needed to know where they were to keep his men safe. The baseball bat was mainly used to persuade the other two prisoners to talk. Again, completely justified.

As to the shooting of Nazis in the theater: nothing wrong with it. Hopefully you agree that it was justified to blow-up the theater and if so then what could be wrong with shooting the people inside and actually putting them out of their misery?

I think your best case can be made in regard to the carving of swastikas into the foreheads of soldiers. In the case of Col. Landa, a high officer in a brutally aggressive totalitarian dictatorship who was going to live out the rest of his years as a supposed allied hero spy, I think what he got was just.

It might, might, be harder to justify the act against (if he was) the private. However, used by "Aldo the Apache" as a tool of propaganda to scare and demoralize the enemy, I find it acceptable.

And as to the question of whether Lt. Raine himself should feel some satisfaction at having performed these acts: I say yes, that the performance of rationally just acts should be considered moral and thus should provide one some sense of satisfaction.

So I don't find the movie to be a "moral sewer". I suppose you could argue about the movie being an "aesthetic sewer" (though I wouldn't) but at least you should know what to expect when you go to see a Quentin Tarantino movie.

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Marc, I think your post is well reasoned. Here is how I understand part of your argument, please say if I have mischaracterised or misunderstood your argument:

You believe it is just to mutilate in order to scare the enemy enabling information extraction from others who witness the mutilation. You believe it is just to mutilate to enact justice against an aggressor by avenging deaths.

If this is your argument then I disagree. The film should have shown Jews efficiently killing Nazis without stooping to the Nazis level by using barbarism. For example, in the baseball bat scene, in order to get the information they should have threatened to shoot the captain and if necessary done so with an efficient bullet to the head. In the fire scene, they should have rigged the fire and the bombs but should not have sprayed bullets into the crowd or sprayed bullets repeatedly into Hitler's body. This is barbarism.

If the movie did things like I have just suggested then it would have rejected pacifism without promoting barbarism.

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