site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of December 5, 2022

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

9
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Last night I watched the absurdly stupid and awful-looking surprise hit movie of 2022, the Tollywood epic RRR. While slogging through this 3-hour parade of xenophobic melodrama, incoherent action, and kindergarten-level sentiment was a struggle, it did make me wonder about two ideas that I’ve always thought should be in direct conflict with each other but aren’t treated as such: “Anti-Colonialism” and “Open Borders.”

As I understand it, the principle behind “Anti-Colonialism” is that Group A is never entitled to move into Group B’s space and take it over, replacing Group B’s preferred culture and/or method of governance with Group A’s preferred culture and/or method of governance, thereby subjugating Group B as second class in their own space. However, this school of thought seems to be most popular among the same political/intellectual cohort that also champions very loose immigration controls, commonly referred to as “Open Borders” (even though that phrase suggests no control whatsoever, whereas the reality is probably something closer liberal immigration controls). With an “Open Borders” mindset, there is no stopping Groups B-Z from moving into Group A’s space and altering its culture or assuming control of its institutions if any of those Groups does so with enough numbers or organization. “Open Borders,” on principle, refutes the very notion of any group’s ownership of any space, which more or less dismantles the paradigm of “Anti-Colonialism.” How do these two ideas co-exist in the same mind without producing uncomfortable cognitive dissonance?

It seems uncharitable to suggest that the salve for this cognitive dissonance is simply racism; or, to put it how I suppose the “Open Borders Anti Colonialist” would think of it, “intersectionality.” That is, the principle behind “Anti-Colonialism” is not really the wrongness of generic groups subjugating each other but rather the wrongness of one static “Bad Group” (that happens to be largely defined by skin color/geographical origin) subjugating other Groups (of other skin colors), who by the nature of their subjugation and opposition to “Bad Group” are thereby “Good Groups.” “Open Borders,” too, is a policy only sought after when the same “Good Groups” are immigrating into the space of the same “Bad Group,” rather than vice versa. These are intended as strictly one-way ideological roads, and not as equal-use roadmaps for Groups A-Z.

I don’t get the impression that this intersectional solution to the “Open Borders Anti Colonialism” knot is oft-contemplated by the typical “Open Borders Anti Colonialist,” who rather thinks of both notions as having sprung from the same well of humanist good intentions. Is the racial/intersectional question actually essential to this paradigm, or is there some other less invidious key that unlocks the conflict between “Open Borders” and “Anti Colonialism?” in the progressive mindset?

I’ll hand this to RRR: It aptly confounds Western culture-warring by presenting its own set of ideas that may be difficult for some Western progressives to reconcile: It pits noble indigenous revolutionaries against the cartooniest of all racist villains and does so with a strident rallying cry against gun control. One of the protagonists has the stated goal of “putting a rifle in the hand” of every colonial subject, and suggests that a bullet only attains its true value when it kills an immigrant (or, in this exact case, any white person).

I'm having a Gell-Mann Amnesia moment here. I generally respect the comments I read on TheMotte until someone comments on matters outside theMotte's general demographic reach, and the commentary comes across as somewhere between shallow and misguided.

I personally think that RRR is the best and most important blockbuster movie India has made in the last 10 years (since 3 idiots). It has sent a cultural Tsunami through the nation and I believe it will be remembered as the movie that started a sea change in India cinema.

Hilariously, I and my brother had an hour long discussion today morning about how some of the smartest western commentators start sounding like bumbling fools once they start commenting on any culture or religion outside the Abrahamic sphere of influence.

Let's start with the very first comment.

surprise hit

RRR was Rajmouli's (director) 3rd major film after his 2 Bahubali films. They were the 2 highest grossing Indian movies at their time of release. RRR was expected to be his magnum opus, and the last thing you can call it is a 'surprise hit'.

awful-looking

I find this to be grossly untrue, most people in both the west and India seem to disagree with me on this one.

But this bit is the subjective, so I won't contest you on it.

absurdly stupid and awful-looking surprise hit movie of 2022, the Tollywood epic RRR. While slogging through this 3-hour parade of xenophobic melodrama, incoherent action, and kindergarten-level sentiment

I don't have a week to write an entire thesis on how wrong you are. But, RRR to me, is genius of the highest order. It is a layered movie with at least half a dozen meta levels behind it. While the base movie is entertaining at face value, most discerning viewers realize that it operates entirely in the realm of metaphor.


The first thing you need to understand about RRR, is that it might be the first major Indian blockbuster that situates itself entirely within the context of India. Bollywood is notorious for making sure their movies fit into western aesthetic and cultural sensibilities, ending up as at best shallow imitations of western media and at worst creating completely out of touch pander-fests.

India is a civilizational nation with a completely different way of looking at life. From legends, founding myths, core national values to political divides. Movies subvert and play to the expectations of the target audience (non-westernized Indian). So when a movie caters to an audience that is so disconnected from those set in different civilizational contexts (Americans), those outside the target audience are at a high risk of misunderstanding the movie entirely.

I don't think it is possible for me to convey why you are wrong about everything when it comes to RRR. I apologize. I have neither the time nor the space for it. But, do know, that you did not get the movie.

xenophobic melodrama

Do Europeans not understand the deep resentment held by people from ex-colonies towards their (erstwhile) ex-colonizers? Irrespective of revisionist opinions about the good done by colonialism (most of which I find somewhere between laughable and nauseating), the people that live in ex-colonies despise those that occupied their lands.

The blood of the Congolese boils at statues of Leopold II and Indians resent seeing Churchill being hailed as a the hero of the west in the same manner that Jews forth at the mouth when someone begins praising Hitler.

“Anti-Colonialism” and “Open Borders.”

These terms have very different meanings in an Indian context.

India has always been accommodating of immigrants, and has culturally advocated for ghettoized integration. India has been a historic refuge for persecuted Parsis, 3 waves of Jews, Tibetan Buddhists and has preserved millennium-old unique sub-sects of Islam and Christianity. The first Indian movie stars were jewish, the current movie stars are muslim and the richest indians are parsi. The 85% hindu majority treats hinduism in the same manner : practice whichever subsect of hinduism you want, just don't fuck with the way my family does things.

This is unlike the west, where the melting pot ensures that there is 1 pot (winning culture) and the only way to change it is to edit massively by melting a lot of people into it or completely replacing it through conflict. India has always rejected the this idea of mono-everything (theism or culture) and your friction doesn't register in the same manner for Indians.

There is a reason Indian Hindus mostly only run into issues with actively proselytizing subcommunities of various faiths. (Missionaries, Love Jihad, forced conversions, exodus, hard-communists)


confounds Western culture-warring

Nope, if anything, the movie is created with a deliberate ignorance towards the western culture war. To RRR, the west might as well not exist post-independence.

noble indigenous revolutionaries against the cartooniest of all racist villains

YES !!!!!!! There is a reason I call it the best sequel to Rocky 4.

Guess what, all great blockbusters are exactly like this at face value.

Sharks, TRex, Communists, Nazis....every major blockbuster of note has a simple villain at face value.

strident rallying cry against gun control

I am sorry. But this kind of mindless "what does it mean in a western context" is exactly the kind of misunderstanding that I am talking about. Gun Control is not an issue in India and it never will be an issue in India. The guns are entirely metaphorical in this setting. A 100% of Indians agree that gun control is great.

        

The movie pits itself primarily against the founding myth of independent India, one that every Indian knows cover-to-cover. One interpretation is that the guns stand for Rajamouli's blatant rejection of India's traditional power structures and myth creators which stake their identity on non-violence. It rejects the monopoly held by the Congress, Bollywood, North India, Gandhi and Nehru on India's cultural identity and its narratives. The movie similarly rejects western aesthetics, western sensibilities of movie structure and western dog-whistles in favor of what is most obvious and natural to the target audience : the Indians. The 2nd bit is very important. It does not subvert for subversions sake. It subverts to enfranchise what feels most natural and intuitive to the people it was made for in the first place.

Another meta interpretation of the movie has to do with the unspoken rule in pre-RRR Indian cinema that Hindu stories cannot be told. RRR toes the line by borrowing aesthetics, moments and sometimes direct messages from Hindu epics (esp Ramayana) while still never explicitly breaking that rule.

Lastly, the movie alludes to decolonizing of the Indian mind. Decoloniality is a revived phrase that is distinct from anti-colonialism. This ties into redefining what it means to watch a movie in an Indian context vs a colonial (western) context. You are meant to dance, celebrate, be loud and indulge. RRR is unapologetic about indulging in its best/worst instincts in a manner that no other Indian blockbuster has done before. This bit directly ties into idea behind decolonialization of mindsets.

kills an immigrant (or, in this exact case, any white person)

The movie literally has an entire subplot about the MC dating a white woman to clearly indicate that 'not all white people are bad'. Hard to miss honestly.

Your comment portrays a weird persecution complex. I know conservative white men might find American urban liberal circles to be suffocating. But, in the rest of the world, white people still enjoy a shit ton of privilege. Most 3rd world families view dating white people as 'dating-up'. They are given a shit ton of attention, people defer to their opinion just because they speak English natively and pine for their approval. White monkey jobs exist as a distilled $ value on white privilege.


p.s: this probably needs proof reading. Just know that your opinion on RRR is wrong and bad.

p.p.s: say what you want about the movie, the songs are bangers and the dance numbers are incredible.

This would be the Irish version of such a movie 🤣

Indians resent seeing Churchill being hailed as a the hero of the west

There is (or was) an Irish version of this, too; from the First World War, Churchill was seen as responsible for the Dardanelles, the campaign that killed a lot of Allied soldiers (including the Irish who were enlisted in the British Army). Attitudes after the Easter Rising in Ireland also didn't help elevate his reputation, along with being the son of the man who stirred up sectarian violence in Ulster by 'playing the Orange Card'.

Come the Second World War, and his speechifying (while understandable) about Irish neutrality and how tolerant the Brits had been in not invading Ireland by force received a rebuff by De Valera, our Taoiseach (equivalent to Prime Minister) at the time, which was very well-regarded in Ireland even by those who were not fans of Dev.

Extracts from the speech below, speech can be heard here. Reference to "a quarter of a century ago" is because Dev was part of the uprising:

"Prior to de Valera's political career, he was a commandant of Irish Volunteers at Boland's Mill during the 1916 Easter Rising. He was arrested and sentenced to death but released for a variety of reasons, including the public response to the British execution of Rising leaders. He returned to Ireland after being jailed in England and became one of the leading political figures of the War of Independence. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, de Valera served as the political leader of Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin until 1926, when he, along with many supporters, left the party to set up Fianna Fáil, a new political party which abandoned the policy of abstentionism from Dáil Éireann."

I know the reply I would have given a quarter of a century ago. But I have deliberately decided that that is not the reply I shall make tonight. I shall strive not to be guilty of adding any fuel to the flames of hatred and passion which, if continued to be fed, promise to burn up whatever is left by the war of decent human feeling in Europe.

Allowances can be made for Mr. Churchill's statement, however unworthy, in the first flush of his victory. No such excuse could be found for me in this quieter atmosphere. There are, however some things which it is my duty to say, some things which it is essential to say. I shall try to say them as dispassionately as I can.

Mr. Churchill makes it clear that, in certain circumstances, he would have violated our neutrality and that he would justify his action by Britain's necessity. It seems strange to me that Mr. Churchill does not see that this, if accepted, would mean Britain's necessity would become a moral code and that when this necessity became sufficiently great, other people's rights were not to count.

It is quite true that other great Powers believe in this same code-in their own regard - and have behaved in accordance with it. That is precisely why we have the disastrous succession of wars - World War No. 1 and World War No. 2-and shall it be World War No. 3?

Surely Mr. Churchill must see that if his contention be admitted in our regard, a like justification can be framed for similar acts of aggression elsewhere and no small nation adjoining a great Power could ever hope to be permitted to go its own way in peace.

…I would like to put a hypothetical question - it is a question I have put to many Englishmen since the last war. Suppose Germany had won the war, had invaded and occupied England, and that after a long lapse of time and many bitter struggles, she was finally brought to acquiesce in admitting England's right to freedom, and let England go, but not the whole of England, all but, let us say, the six southern counties.

These six southern counties, those, let us suppose, commanding the entrance to the narrow seas, Germany had singled out and insisted on holding herself with a view to weakening England as a whole, and maintaining the securing of her own communications through the Straits of Dover.

Let us suppose further, that after all this had happened, Germany was engaged in a great war in which she could show that she was on the side of freedom of a number of small nations, would Mr. Churchill as an Englishman who believed that his own nation had as good a right to freedom as any other, not freedom for a part merely, but freedom for the whole -- would he, whilst Germany still maintained the partition of his country and occupied six counties of it, would he lead this partitioned England to join with Germany in a crusade? I do not think Mr. Churchill would.

Would he think the people of partitioned England an object of shame if they stood neutral in such circumstances? I do not think Mr. Churchill would.

…Many a time in the past there appeared little hope except that hope to which Mr. Churchill referred, that by standing fast a time would come when, to quote his own words: "…the tyrant would make some ghastly mistake which would alter the whole balance of the struggle."

I sincerely trust, however, that it is not thus our ultimate unity and freedom will be achieved, though as a younger man I confess I prayed even for that, and indeed at times saw no other.

Solidarity! 😀

Solidarity!

Huh, this is interesting. Besides the visual similarity, both flags have similar symbolism. In Ireland, green is for Catholics and orange for Protestants, while in India, orange (technically "saffron") is for Hindus and green for Muslims. In both flags, the two colours are joined together, representing a hope for reconciliation between the two religious groups.

Thank you for your reply. I don't think, perhaps, that you understand how unique Indian intellectual hatred of Westerners (and the British in particular is), how strong the persecution complex is, and how much it does - in fact utterly so - reflect the post-independence Congress/Gandhi-ist view of Indian identity, even when promoted by Hindutva types.

Do Europeans not understand the deep resentment held by people from ex-colonies towards their (erstwhile) ex-colonizers? Irrespective of revisionist opinions about the good done by colonialism (most of which I find somewhere between laughable and nauseating), the people that live in ex-colonies despise those that occupied their lands.

The Belgian King Philippe visited the Congo a few months ago to celebrate 60 years of independence, at the invitation of the Congolese President. His cortege was cheered, according to Politico's correspondent, as it made its way through the streets of Kinshasa. The Congolese government stuck up the kind of posters all around the city to celebrate that look so reverential even the British government might not have them printed for its own monarchy; they make the Royal couple look almost like the King and Queen of the Congo itself.

I work a great deal in Africa. With the exception of Algeria, where independence was bloody, involved the ethnic cleansing of the white and Jewish population, and racial hatred toward France became the foundation of the modern state's ideology, very few people in Africa bear any grudge towards their former colonial power. Egyptian intellectuals do not give endless highly-attended lectures about how awful the British and the French (and the Ottomans, and the Greeks, and the...) were. Especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, few people care to remember or discuss the colonial era, and even fewer do so with the maudlin negativity of India's premier intellectuals. Even in Zimbabwe, most black people bear no grudge towards the British or whites; they understand that land reform was about preserving Zanu-PF power by bribing old soldiers capable of standing up to Mugabe with land owned by a small and easily dispossessed minority, not some racial or ex-colonial war.

Only in South Africa (and to a very, very limited extent Kenya because of the nature of tribal politics in the highlands) is there still culture war about whites, and South Africa still has a substantial white population of millions of people who remain extremely influential in business, politics, culture and so on. Even in South Africa, conflicts between black and South Asian populations and between the local black population and immigrants from central Africa are far more severe and salient than any perceived conflict between the white and black populations. India does not have any substantial white population to think of, and the few white expats who are there have very little political or economic power.

In China, where the 'Century of Humiliation' is state ideology. I have found few bear grand grudges toward the British or other colonial powers, despite the fact that China was inarguably treated far worse by the British and West in general than India was. Most Chinese have moved on, they don't consider the British or others to be ancient foes, and even Very Online nationalists care more about the US, for the most part, than the UK, which they understand has little present-day influence over Chinese police. This despite the fact that Britain was a colonial power in China for fifty years after Indian independence.


Only in India does this absurd fascination with British imperialism continue. Only in India do reams of public intellectuals continue to make a living by rambling, endlessly, on about the supposed ongoing "colonization" of the Indian mind, even 70 years after independence. This while India's great cities suffocate under smog, garbage piles up in the streets, religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims surge, and almost every smart Indian who makes it into an IIT evacuates to Silicon Valley as soon as their FAANG job offer comes in rather than stay in their ancestral homeland to try and make it a better place. It reeks of lashing out at one's own inadequacy. The best revenge, as is often said, is to live well. Make Mumbai a nicer, cleaner, less polluted place to live than London and you will have accomplished more than any Indian intellectual in the last century, Gandhi included. Jews are often accused of obsessing over victimhood status but much of Israel is at least a relatively modern, clean, somewhat-functioning developed country; the masses are not desperate for escape to England or Canada.

What I struggle to understand is why even India's conservative nationalists adopt this pathetic ideology of victimhood. The Congress Party did in the postwar era, as it renamed monuments and streets and railroad stations. Fine, Gandhi would have wanted it that way (maybe). But conservatives can surely see that this victimhood ideology, the ideology in the video you link is - just like the writing of Edward Said and so many other 'anti-colonialist' intellectuals, including the great Third Worldists - utterly derivative of Western leftist ideologies. These are post-Marxian ideas about the injustice of history, grand narratives of restoration and humiliation and conquest and resurgence. Meanwhile, on the ground, India is the same as it always was. Two hundred years of British rule didn't change it. Even the Mughals didn't change it. You celebrate the vanquishing of some alleged North Indian supremacy (even though North Indian high culture has always been more complex and influential than its Southern peers), but most of the cast of 'RRR', even if slightly darker than Bollywood stars, are still much more pale in complexion than the average Dravidian. Actual dark-skinned South Asians are more common in Western cinema than in that of India. That's not the fault of Europeans, of course, since colorism dates back long before the arrival of the British, or the Portuguese.

India's history is full of great civilizational accomplishment. Indian high poetry and culture sits alongside that of China and the broad Greco-Roman continuum in terms of its value to humanity. But China and Greece and Italy, for all their many problems, are moderately decent places to live for many or most of their people. I would love to visit a Mumbai or a New Delhi where the streets are clean and modern, the buildings are freshly painted and not-crumbling, the traffic is manageable, I'm not harassed in the street, the skies are clear and pollution-free, and the people are broadly happy and prosperous. Perhaps save the grand pontification on India's civilizational aura or whatever until then.

India's hatred may be unique, but one must surely admit the Anglo-American countries also share a very unique perspective - one of always having been the invader and never the invaded, at least within the last few hundreds of years. US has arguably never been in a situation where there was even a serious risk of the country being occupied as a whole, unless one counts the fleeting moment in time between the colonials developing an American identity and the US independence being acknoweldged by Britain, or really stretches the narratives around the War of 1812. The British have been cocooned quite safely in their little island as well.

I cannot, of course, have an inkling about how the Indians really feel about the British colonization, but I certainly know that when Russians go around invading other countries, an atavistic fury rises in me - and pretty much all other Finns - that is probably not felt in the same way in countries that don't have the same history. When Russians go around explaining that no, it's Russia's duty to teach the smaller, more inferior nations about their true Russian-ness or save them from fascism once again, and that the conquered nations should have been grateful to Russia or Soviet Union for peace or modernization or whatever, it doesn't exactly work to quench that fury.

The importance of national sovereignty - never being ruled by another nation if it can be avoided - is crystal clear to me, again due this history. As such, I can only grant the same to the Indians regarding their conqueror-nation, or one of them - crucially the one conqueror-nation that always remained a foreign one, not one of the ones that set up shop in India and ended up becoming Indians of a sort.

The British have been cocooned quite safely in their little island as well.

UK was bombed a bit during WW II (total death count lower than single big German massacre in occupied areas).

USA mainland was technically actually bombed during WW II with some civilian death - 6 in total ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incendiary_balloon#Fu-Go ). But it is extreme nitpicking.

Compare with Belarus (occupied by USSR at that time) where 25% of population died/was murdered, or Poland where 16% of population was killed/murdered during war.

Yeah, that's the "quite" part. The main point was that despite the bombings and such, there has not been a real threat of the island of Great Britain actually being invaded and occupied for centuries. (years of reading soc.history.what-if convinced me that Operation Sealion was never a realistic possibility, and the same probably goes for any threat of Napoleon invading.)

To be clear, I was not disagreeing - just expanding.

In China, where the 'Century of Humiliation' is state ideology. I have found few bear grand grudges toward the British or other colonial powers, despite the fact that China was inarguably treated far worse by the British and West in general than India was.

Care to substantiate or elaborate on this?

Opium Wars, Boxer Rebellion were likely worse than aligning with some Indians against others in the manner of various other imperial overlords over the preceding few hundred years? The famines are the worst crimes of which the western administration in India can be accused, but a big part of the reason they were so bad were because of actions the British had taken in anticipation of a Japanese invasion of British India. Judging by the Japanese treatment of other Asians, it is hardly likely they would have been better colonial masters than Churchill and Mountbatten.

The Opium Wars themselves were sideshows at best during this period in China’s history; the impact of opium on Chinese society is likely overstated, both wars were really quite limited (the Chinese lost what, thousands of troops? in each war?), and the both was complicated by the fact that the Qing were fighting other conflicts at the same time - first with Tibet, then dealing with the Taiping (+ other rebellions) at the same time, the latter of which was an actual, existential threat to the empire. What the Brits got out of the wars in treaties were minor territorial gains, civil rights, trading rights, freedom of religion, indemnities, etc.

The Boxer Rebellion was considerably more bloody, but again, was essentially a limited affair; the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded mostly (totally?) above the Yellow River in northern China - at Beijing, near the Hai river, and in Manchuria - and while the pillaging and destruction of the conflict would continue for 2-3 years in the area, it was hardly most of China or even productive parts of China. Additionally, the southern provinces didn’t even care to attack foreigners despite war being officially declared, and many Chinese reformers took a dim view of the Boxers. The conclusion of the Boxer Rebellion also marks a decline in western intervention in China, though there was a massive indemnity to be paid.

None of this is to say that these were trivial setbacks dealt to the Qing by Britain; they were politically disastrous. The losses themselves were humiliating, and stoked Chinese unrest as well as European/Japanese ambition, and lead to the strangling of Chinese economic self-determination in the late 19th and early 20th century. The loss in the First Opium War, in particular, likely contributed to the aforementioned Taiping rebellion, which sees tens of millions of Chinese dead and the ravaging of China’s most industrious regions. The Boxer indemnity would haunt China into the post-Qing era and seriously hamper indigenous efforts at modernization and investment, and exacerbate the warlord issue. None of these are good things to have come out of foreign (British) intervention. Even then, though, China was at least intact as a de jure sovereign nation, even if bits and pieces like Shandong and Hong Kong and parts of Manchuria went missing, and much of this is quite indirect.

But in comparison, to my understanding (Indian history is not my strong suit), India was annexed and ruled by Britain piecemeal, which transitioned it into a somewhat extractive economy operating for the benefit for the Home Islands, with attendant deskilling and destruction of indigenous industrial (not in the industrial revolution sense) links and capacity. I am to understand that many Indians also resent that Britain essentially collapsed their political structure, which has aftereffects in the dysfunction of current Indian politics. All in all, these would be greater direct effects from British influence than what happened in China. There were also multiple famines under the British Raj before the famous WW2 one, at least some of which (e.g. 1769 Bengal famine, the 1876-1878 famines) were exacerbated by British decisions or priorities.

I could be convinced that the relatively minor direct effects of British meddling in China is in fact a greater indignity than what the Indians went through, either because the British weren’t actually so bad in India after all or were actually a positive force in India (I understand that some people earnestly argue the latter), but I don’t find it obviously true.

Edit:lost a thought

The movie literally has an entire subplot about the MC dating a white woman to clearly indicate that 'not all white people are bad'. Hard to miss honestly.

The fact that racism often carves out an """exception""" for hot babes you might be able to sexually conquer is usually considered to make it worse, not better.

No-one ever exculpated an alleged white nationalist on account of his Asian girlfriend.

The blood of the Congolese boils at statues of Leopold II and Indians resent seeing Churchill being hailed as a the hero of the west in the same manner that Jews forth at the mouth when someone begins praising Hitler.

I'll not comment on Belgium, but I assume Indians could admit to themselves that, as the victory in WW2 remains the sole politically correct outlet of Western* (implicitly White) pride, the sole reason Churchill's assessment is still largely positive in the West is that he didn't practice 'appeasement' (whatever that means in context), unlike the dunce Chamberlain.

*technically this is incorrect as the USSR played the main role, of course, but it's also no coincidence that negating, questioning, delegitimizing and outright denying the Soviet role in final victory, especially since the beginning of the Ukrainian war, has become increasingly normalized in the West since a couple of years (I remember when Bush II explicitly condemned the Yalta Treaty)

  1. The USSR did not play "the main role". More of their soldiers died, yes, but they relied heavily on materiel, technology and intelligence supplied by the West. It was a joint effort. Plus, their role in the Pacific was minimal.

  2. This does not mean that the role the USSR did play has not been minimized. However, this minimization did not start in the past few years, as you claim, but during the Cold War, for obvious reasons. (See also: https://old.reddit.com/r/europe/comments/bxe58t/poll_in_france_which_country_contributed_the_most/)

I'm sure you're also aware that the Japanese were never going to surrender, no matter how many atomic bombs were dropped on them, as long as the USSR was neutral in the conflict, and thus there was hope, no matter how faint, that they were going to mediate an armistice and eventually peace between Japan and the Western Allies. In the end, they made the decision to surrender only after learning that the Soviets broke neutrality and invaded Manchuria. This was an absolutely necessary step to terminate the war.

Also, it's absolutely possible to rely on material assistance and still play the main role.

This plus the fact that there was a substantial portion of the Anglo/American right who felt that the war started with the invasion of Poland and should have ended with the liberation of Poland. The fact that the Stalin was allowed to keep the territory gained from his alliance with Hitler instead of sharing Hitler's fate stuck in a lot of craws.

Why wouldn't the Yalta Treaty be condemned? My country was stuck on the wrong side of the curtain for 45 years because Roosevelt used us as a bargaining chip.

Edit: And before you answer, I would like you to think very carefully about the role the Red Army played in WWII, in the context of Poland.

Why wouldn't the Yalta Treaty be condemned?

From the selected letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, one from 1943:

Nothing to read – and even the papers with nothing but Teheran Ballyhoo. Though I must admit that I smiled a kind of sickly smile and 'nearly curled up on the floor, and the subsequent proceedings interested me no more', when I heard of that bloodthirsty old murderer Josef Stalin inviting all nations to join a happy family of folks devoted to the abolition of tyranny & intolerance! But I must also admit that in the photograph our little cherub W. S. C. actually looked the biggest ruffian present.

(W.S.C. = Winston Churchill)

When Germany invaded Poland, what Red Army should have done? If they wouldn't have occupied Eastern parts, Germany would occupy all territory of Poland.

  • -10

It's not like they saw the Germans invading Poland and then quickly decided to invade to salvage what they could. The invasion was planned and coordinated between Germany and the Soviet Union from the start.

Was the Katyn massacre also part of the Soviet 4D chess strategy to beat the Nazis?

Yes, there was a pre-invasion plan between Germany and USSR. I don't think it included "Germans attack on 1 sep, then Germans urge Soviets to attack and Soviets reluctantly attack on 17 sep". Germany was more strong enough to beat Poland alone, didn't need Soviet help to do so and began to advance on territories which were planned be go to Soviet zone.

Was the Katyn massacre also part of the Soviet 4D chess

What does this have to do with this? This Soviet atrocity happened on RFSFR proper soil when invasion of Poland was finished

You forgot to mention that USSR and Germany cooperated in starting WW II - both in developing military power before, joint strategy planning, invading Poland and holding a military parade after victory.

what Red Army should have done?

Do not help Germans.

Do not attack Polish Army (also in 1920).

Leave after WW II ended.

Murder, rape and loot less.

The Soviet official explanation for partially annexing Poland may have been flimsy, but I'm sure it was not flimsier than the Allied explanation for invading Iran or Iceland.

The Allied explanation for invading Iceland was to deny it to the Germans, which while not the strongest moral justification in the world doesn't seem all that flimsy as to sincerity.

Why should I assume that the Germans were planning to invade Iceland?

On the other hand, why should I assume they were not planning to annex the whole of Poland?

I'm sure it was not flimsier than the Allied explanation for invading Iran or Iceland.

You are wrong.

Invading Poland by USSR in alliance with Third Reich Germany was done for much, much worse reasons.

And even if that claim would be true, it still does not explain why explicitly condemning the Yalta Treaty would be bad.

I wasn't talking about reasons, which we may or may not fully know in retrospect. I was talking about official justifications.

USSR official justification was flimsy because it was outright lie and fakery, exposed by clear and ongoing cooperation wither Third Reich.

I remember when Bush II explicitly condemned the Yalta Treaty

(it is about Yalta Conference AKA Crimea Conference AKA Argonaut, right?)

why that would be weird? USSR got there permission for brutal colonization of Central and Eastern Europe. I understand why USA and England was not interested in continuing war. At least Poland got a bit smarter about its international relationships since that time.

But why condemning this would be bad?

USSR played the main role, of course

one of main roles - yes

the main role? Not really. And no, share of effectiveness does not scale linearly with soldier death count, especially when deaths are caused by idiotic and murderous leadership.

outright denying the Soviet role in final victory

Denying role in the victory over Germany is lying. Denying role in liberation is quite accurate as Soviet victory was not liberation, just a different oppressor. There was kind of improvement as they were less genocidal and were running outright extermination on far lesser scale and targeting different groups. But "only some subset of you will be murdered and enslaved" is quite a low bar. And they stayed for far longer, so total damage was still very significant.

Unqualified describing Red Army victory as "liberation" and omitting USSR-Germany alliance that started WW II is as big omission as denying the Soviet role in final victory over Germany.

especially since the beginning of the Ukrainian war

Pity that war happened, but self-destruction of Russia in the war they stupidly started is delicious. And no, Russia is not entitled to empire in Eastern Europe, or Central Europe. And fortunately nowadays they have also no strength for that.

Finally consequences of USSR and their empire caught up with them.

More awareness of various Russia/Russian empire/USSR evils is just one of that nice things.

Let's start with the very first comment.

surprise hit

RRR was Rajmouli's (director) 3rd major film after his 2 Bahubali films. They were the 2 highest grossing Indian movies at their time of release. RRR was expected to be his magnum opus, and the last thing you can call it is a 'surprise hit'.

I should have qualified it thusly: "surprise hit in the U.S."

awful-looking

I find this to be grossly untrue, most people in both the west and India seem to disagree with me on this one.

But this bit is the subjective, so I won't contest you on it.

It looks like a video game cut scene, and every visual is both so overly processed digitally and full of CGI, that it's kind of hard to tell what is real and what is fake, because it all looks fake. And there's no visual art to it, it's all just bright and garish, like the master bathroom of a nouveau riche with no taste.

And, seriously, the CGI effects are fucking terrible. I wish I could post clips. It's mind-boggling how shitty some of the CGI scenes are, one in particular that is a long shot of Bheem sneaking into a compound, and it looks like a little video game character jumping from one digital surface to another.

absurdly stupid and awful-looking surprise hit movie of 2022, the Tollywood epic RRR. While slogging through this 3-hour parade of xenophobic melodrama, incoherent action, and kindergarten-level sentiment

I don't have a week to write an entire thesis on how wrong you are. But, RRR to me, is genius of the highest order. It is a layered movie with at least half a dozen meta levels behind it. While the base movie is entertaining at face value, most discerning viewers realize that it operates entirely in the realm of metaphor.

If all dozen meta-levels are written for an audience of six-year-olds, it doesn't matter how many levels there are. Yes, there is a lot going on in RRR -- not enough to fill a 3 hour movie, unfortunately -- but it's all simple-minded busywork performed by the most shallow of characters spouting remedial dialog. Compare it to the work of a master Indian filmmaker like Satyajit Ray, and RRR looks Paul Blart: Mall Cop in the spectrum of Indian cinema. Even compared to a legit masterful musical like Lagaan, everything in RRR is pedestrian and/or insulting.

Part of my issue with how the movie has been received in the U.S. is that it seems like an egregious example of the "soft bigotry of low expections." I've only seen a few Indian movies, but of extremely high quality, so this one seems like an exception in awfulness. I could see how someone who enjoys movies like Birdemic and The Room might find similar qualities here enjoyable, but not unironically.

And there's no visual art to it, it's all just bright and garish, like the master bathroom of a nouveau riche with no taste.

Taste is subjective. When I adjusted my expectations to the acceptance that South Indian cinema is going to be blinged out to the max, I got on a lot better. Yes, it's all bright and garish, so what? At least it's not filmed in orange hues or so dark you can't tell what is going on and any objections are met with "well that's because you have cheap crappy TVs". It's meant to be larger than life, that the Heroes are on the level of mythological demi-gods. These are the equivalents of Achilles and Agamemnon, you don't tell those stories by having everyone wearing mud and shot at night. (Well not unless you're a modern Western movie-maker 'deconstructing' this, that and the other).

I should have qualified it thusly: "surprise hit in the U.S."

It earned $11 million in the US, which ranks it 67th so far this year.

I will suggest that much of what is happening there is invisible to you because you lack the context.

Consider a modern movie that takes place in the American civil war. There's a black character named Forge Lloyd who is totally not on drugs and just has a heart problem, never did any home invasions, and he's killed by pro-slavery police who stand on his back while he yells "I can't breath". And by the way, police were invented to enforce slavery in 1850's USA.

Lets have some flashbacks. Forge Lloyd's mom got pregnant, but no one can figure out who the daddy is, and she quietly admits to someone that she's never been with a man. Forge Lloyd then goes around preaching a message of love and equality. At some point he says he has a dream. Then he makes a thanksgiving dinner for 12 of his buddies, and his bro Jubas kisses him.

After the flashbacks we go back to 1850's USA, 3 days after his Forge Lloyd's death. We see a mysterious figure riding off into the sunset, :insert cinematography here: and it's Forge Lloyd.

Now imagine someone who doesn't know the story of the bible or the story of Forge Lloyd writes a review. He loves the pro-Hindutva messages in the movie, and thinks it makes good points about GST.

That's your review of RRR.

Note: I haven't seen the movie. It would not surprise me if the FX are video-game like, because that is the natural evolution of ordinary telugu cinema + modern CGI. That's telugu film vocabulary, and it's evidently not your thing. That's fine.

You might as well criticize Japanese anime for showing a character tasting some bad food, and then flashing to a scene where the character is being tentacle raped under the ocean. The viewer familiar with that vocabulary knows the tentacle rape isn't literal, it's a visual metaphor for how bad the food tastes. (Food Wars is excellent and you should watch it, BTW.)

You realize that most of these complaints apply equally to pretty much everything Disney has put out in the last 5 - 10 years as well do you not?

Yes, but if someone here claimed that Avengers 12 was the pinnacle of American cinematic achievement they’d be ridiculed for it too.

I’m not a Disney fan, but there’s still a learned subtlety and visual sophistication to their recent work that is light years beyond RRR, which is like an early 2000s video game in both form and content.

I can enjoy unsophisticated or technically rough cinema as well, but not when it is so narratively and thematically shallow.

dance,

How wealthy are all the people in this video? They largely seem to have huge houses/driveways or are at least in much nicer and more "modern" places than one normally finds watching Indian media, travel videos etc.

I don't really see where the huge houses in the video are—or houses at all, for that matter—except maybe in the first clip. The rest all seem fairly typical for people in metropolitan cities of India.

The first thing you need to understand about RRR, is that it might be the first major Indian blockbuster that situates entirely within the context of India.

Any recommendations for works like this (strong preference for books, but maybe movies)? One of my favorite things about the new Chinese fantasy novel's I've read was the genuinely alien baseline cultural assumptions. I've long had a fondness for India, but I have no idea what might function as a decent inroad work.

I wish I had a good answer for this. A lot of Indian Literature runs into a problem where the only ones who are interested in translating it to English are English speaking white people or practically-white Indians. So you run into a Heisenberg's uncertainty moment, where the act of translating it makes it lose what made it special in the first place.

There are very few sources that I can blindly trust to do a good job of representing Indian baseline assumptions well, and is further compounded by me not having read any of those books. Let me go to some of my more 'grounded' Indian friends and see if I can find something.

I haven't read this book(finding the raga) but it comes highly recommended from a source I deeply trust and does a great job of outlining the core differences between Indian and western music. (and through it art and aesthetics at large)

2 more books from my more cultured friend:

I wish I had a good answer for this. A lot of Indian Literature runs into a problem where the only ones who are interested in translating it to English are English speaking white people or practically-white Indians. So you run into a Heisenberg's uncertainty moment, where the act of translating it makes it lose what made it special in the first place.

He should probably read Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat.

::cringes in NRI::

It's about how English plays into modern class roles, quite distinct from caste. Chetan Bhagat is also the only famous person I've seen who is willing to discuss this.

What ??

Recommending Chetan Bhagat is like recommending Stephanie Meyers to understand American culture. (edit - which might not be a bad thing?)

He is a bad writer and a bad intellectual.

It is decent schlock , but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone..

It's alright.

If you disagree, name another English language book that covers the particular topic of English language and modern Indian class roles. I can't think of much; most English writers do not generally want to acknowledge it.

I didn't recommend it for the plot. I wouldn't recommend twilight for the plot either, but if someone wanted to understand western female empowerment-by-infantilization, it's a perfectly fine place to start.

IMO, the issues that Chetan Bhagat touches on, don't need as much context about India though. They are fairly straight forward and easily understood even when read from a western lens.

That being said, you make a good point. I'll admit, my reaction to seeing Chetan Bhagat being recommended was kind of knee jerk.

It is especially rich of me, given that I just called RRR the best Indian movie since 3 idiots (a movie loosely based on a Chetan Bhagat book). Also, say what you want about him, he does capture the angst of your average 18-25 yr Indian male pretty well. 2 states was fairly relatable too.

Still not my first recommendation, but I will retrack my earlier kneejerk reaction. Chetan Bhagat is alright.