STOP. Before continuing, click here for important Internet security information about browsing this site.
If a web address is not clickable, copy and paste it into the address bar of a new tab.
Try to switch to using https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io if you find yourself visiting this site regularly.
Culture/Reviews > Movies
Movie reviews from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Amerikans kill Muslims to boost themselves pornographically: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” and the imperialist-patriarchy
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Dir. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, and Martin Freeman
PG-13, 112 minutes, 2016
This movie was both infuriating and very interesting to watch.
It could be summed up in a couple sentences. A sexually inept-appearing or naive corrupt Afghan official thinks Amerikan females are such ‘ho’s that they would jump at a chance to sleep with em and is severely mistaken. It does not immediately occur to the official that Amerikan females’ reputation reflects their gender privilege, which they can use to get more-desirable partners and to get others to do what they want and support their lifestyle.
Patriarchy is not just about money or class. It seems this particular Afghan lackey of U.$. imperialism playing the role of pro-government Muslim law enforcer might have more money than any of the journalists staying in the Western house in Kabul, but Kim Barker (Tina Fey) ends up with attractive European white males. One of them might help Kim with eir career—there may be an exchange of sex for money in a way—but the relationship seems to go beyond any economic usefulness. At the same time, marriage is never on the table realistically. Both the Scottish photographer and the Afghan official (played by Alfred Molina) could help Kim with eir career and anything that happens with either could stay in Kabul, but the official seems to be out of the question before ey even opens eir corrupt collaborator mouth. Kim shows very little interest, if any, in eir better-looking driver, guide and translator, Fahim Ahmadzai, and the viewer is treated early in the movie to a scene in which it is implied the Internet in Afghanistan means dark-skinned males looking at donkey porn. The donkey porn guy is with the journalists, but somehow it takes a movie about Afghanistan to bring up bestiality in pornography. The movie is supposed to be inspired by a true story, but even Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Dictator”) couldn’t have done much more to make Afghan or Middle Eastern-looking males repulsive or seem immature.
Kim Barker finds out, and the idea is raised several times, that an Amerikan female who is a “4” or “7” back home can be a “9.5” in Afghanistan. The British journalist who looks like a supermodel (Margot Robbie) apparently went from being a 10 to something stratospherically higher. It’s an interesting way of putting things. The increased status seems to be more in relation to the Western journalists or to the U.$. marines with whom Kim interacts, but to say Kim is just one of the few females around is to ignore who else is in the country, millions of Afghan females and males. Fahim in fact risks eir life to help Kim. Fahim is paid, but when the issue of a pay raise comes up Fahim suggests it’s not just about the money. Though Fahim gets married to an Afghan, ey makes a vague remark about ey should be “suspicious” of what ey “wants” (Kim) or something to that effect. Earlier, Fahim is shown reading O, The Oprah Magazine, and it is revealed Kim gave it to em. Even a “warlord” who has a risky interview with Kim seems intrigued by em and implies ey could be attractive. The moment reflects disgustingly on Afghan males. No thought of marriage, a relationship or sex is necessary on Kim’s part for Kim to benefit from an inequitable situation facilitated by pornography and a patriarchal structure of desire, desirability, and eroticization of power, in which a European female can take advantage relative to other females and many males. Differences in appearance between females have always existed and impacted interactions with males, but now that Western whites dominate pornography internationally, Euro-Amerikan females can exploit it to their overall advantage in interactions with many oppressed nation males and females.
Kim barely gives a sh*t about Fahim and seems indifferent to others’ perspective throughout the movie, which is evidently the way females are supposed reach success. After all, this is war, and this is about Kim’s career advancement through war with sex only as a side benefit (and then only with white males with certain accents and body types/styles). Kim is involved in influencing the public to support bombing and shooting people. At one point, Kim does help the Marines with a mission that makes Kim and a non-Amerikan white lover look heroic and makes the Marines themselves look useful among European allies and Amerikans. Flashes of light are all that indicate the deaths of people leading to all these Westerners being on TV either as saviors or as people worth saving from wretched people who live in mud dwellings. Putting down—literally and figuratively—oppressed nation males may limit Amerikan females’ sexual prospects, but not so much in a marriage-oriented country where marriage with a nonreligious Western foreigner could be unthinkable. Amerikan females still become more desirable through an eroticization of power, and through a kind of pornography elevating whites or Amerikans in general.
There is, however, at one point an attempted slap down of Afghan females in the form of an odd joke. Kim covers a story about some Afghan females driving cars supposedly as a sign of progress generally; the driver goes in reverse by mistake to portray Afghan females as inept even when they have freedom. In Amerikan culture, a young adult driving a car has dating significance. So, what the movie could be saying is that white males should date white females, not the Afghan females recently “liberated” by Amerikan and NATO bombs. Amerikan females accurately sense a threat to their position when their male compatriots invade a country. Set in the first few years of the occupation, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” shows bunches of bachelors accompanied by a much smaller number of females in a war zone.
This writer did not get the sense watching this movie that Amerikan females would see “WTF” and think imperialist war is bad for them. More likely, they would think about potentially glamorous careers in CIA/embassy work, or the journalism or military work that the movie portrays. The movie suggests Western females can do things their males can’t (interact closely with Afghan females, because they have some anatomy in common) so there are particular opportunities for females and a need for females to feel comfortable in certain roles. Kim has a regret about something that happened related to eir reporting, but feels better after a discussion of causation. Maybe everything has multiple causes or could be blamed on Bush still, Brezhnev, the Crusades, or Christopher Columbus. Whatever the case may be along those lines, Kim is told she needs to get over career-related errors and go on living—guilt-free.
While Kim is absolved individually, in the real world Amerikan females continue to pursue their group and individual interests through war with deadly consequences. This became blindingly obvious with Hillary Clinton and Libya, so blinding in fact that many act like it could not happen again in 2016-2020 and talk about preserving Amerika’s “stature” through Clinton. No doubt the pro-pornography pseudo-feminism of the West has led to a situation in which an abortion rights-supporting blonde-haired white female who can have blue eyes with colored contacts would, with many observers and despite eir grandmotherly image, indeed improve Amerika’s stature relative to a bald or balding so-not-effete male president who may not really be able to compete with Putin’s sexy sportsman image. In “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” Kim Barker says she taught somebody how to clear pornography from eir web browser history. How do other Western white females benefit from pornography use and pornographic culture—and from their knowledge and competency with respect to these—one may wonder.
Kim turns out to have an unfaithful partner like Hillary Clinton does or did. Despite the boyfriend’s desire to continue to be in some kind of relationship with em, Kim’s immediate response is to start sleeping with the males in eir guesthouse. Regardless of Clinton’s sexual behavior following revelations of Bill’s adultery, the disloyalty of the other persyn can signify a certain sexuality of Westerners, and indeed normative Western sexuality increasingly includes a propensity to be unfaithful. Of course, now that everyone knows about the Ashley Madison cheating website and what went on involving millions of probably non-Muslim adult Amerikans, adulterous Amerikan male and adulterous Amerikan female must both be supported pornographically, internationally, and be represented in movies in positive, cynical or amoral ways. Islam in particular must be taken down a notch because Wilhelm Reich-influenced Christianity was already having difficulty competing with Islam in terms of family values. This sexuality of Westerners must be made palatable and valuable, as part of Westerners’ whole image, through pornographic culture such as Hollywood movies, in order to make drone strikes by females tolerable as a kind of masochism, or voyeuristic or vicarious fetish for the “neutral” or militarily uninvolved countries. The lethal eroticized exercise of power, in which Third World males are sexually assaulted, tortured and killed, itself becomes a form of reality TV pornography, which potentially elevates Westerners’ sexuality and bodies and enables more violent action, more bullying, and more submissiveness and sucky agreements. The possibility arises of a never-ending process of Western idols needing pornographic support, Hollywood porn, deadly or aggressive action, and reality TV porn.
A recurring shot in “WTF” involves a boy asking for money in the streets. It seems to be the kind of memory that sticks with rich people when they visit a country like this. Some will receive “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (the name itself suggestive of drinking and dancing in a NATO war environment) as another movie about the sex and drinking culture of mediocre white people who get ahead because of their “race” and individual looks—female or male. Some will be embarrassed by the sight of white people partying a few feet away from children begging on the street following a Western invasion. Characters in the movie discuss whether one should give money in such a situation. Isn’t it a scam? Meanwhile, U.$. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders today in the real world talks about needing to improve the infrastructure in the united $tates, rather than rebuilding the infrastructure in Afghanistan—as if that were charity or just money going to scheming corrupt officials. Whether imperialist country people should be there to begin with and how they contributed to, and continue to contribute to, the situation doesn’t really come up in the movie. Of course, rebuilding wouldn’t be necessary if there weren’t bombings and invasions in the first place, but various discussions of giving resources to the Third World overlook the fact that the reparations necessary to eliminate the structural basis of international exploitation are in the trillions of dollars from the united $tates alone. Conversations about charity versus keeping the riches they have, or how to allocate money domestically, lead to more Westerners failing to go along with reparations in the future.
In addition to the begging, there is a repeated suggestion of the sexual abuse that became more prevalent post-invasion. Such things when they appear in the Western media become an excuse to stay, invade more countries, or send more Western troops to replace abusive Afghan collaborators. “WTF” was marketed as a comedy, but some of the moments, including the attorney general’s behavior toward Kim, are awkward in being both horrible and seemingly intended to be comedic (and in fact some in the audience laugh). Despite portraying Afghan males as bad heterosexuals or bad at being heterosexual (which actually may prop up heterosexuality in general), there is nothing about the movie that would offend heterosexual homophobes except for those who might object to child abuse being turned into a joke just to portray Afghan males as ridiculous or unmanly. While using pedophilia or alleged pedophilia as justification for weakening data and Internet security, repression, spying, war, and exporting Western sexual culture including pornography to countries in the Third World, many approach child sexual abuse as it were suitable material for gender-defamation of Third World males in a comedy instead of being a cause for societal change and revolution.
How does a society arrive socially at a situation in which people can subject others to unwanted sexual attention (or inferior offers of exchange using sex as a commodity) without any witness is another area left to the Western chauvinist imagination. The Afghan official distances emself from how sharia was implemented before the invasion, but eir polytheistic alternative somehow includes making advances toward Western foreigners in the country temporarily and seeking to trade journalistic access and favors for sex informally. The pessimistic or self-centered may regard this as something intrinsic to males, the crazed result of sexual repression, “hypocrisy,” or lacking in Western refinement or skill in sexual matters, instead of considering there has been a social change due to Western influence. Such a change could have the potential to make a whole Third World nation even more oppressed and subjugated within a complex system of patriarchy spanning multiple countries.
Most of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is from the point of view of one persyn, Kim Barker. There are snippets of what Kim sees right in front of em over the years. The movie shows or suggests various things one could find in Afghanistan among some people in some places, but with little context or explanation. Characters’ comments will frequently contribute to viewer misunderstanding, ignorance, or feelings and beliefs of superiority. Afghans appear as just strange or backward though even male pubic hair cutting, mentioned as belonging to a certain practice of Islam, could have something to do with infertility or disease directly or indirectly. The viewpoint-related limitations are a problem inherent in the film medium to an extent, not just a matter of the movie’s claim to being biographical. For example, one would not know from watching the movie that abortion, sleeping with the most attractive male or female, non-monogamy, serial monogamy, and some forms of birth control (historically and contemporarily), come with greater risks of serious disease for females in the Third World in general, even sterilizing disease. (So do pregnancy and giving birth, but Western commentators are liable to see Western sexual and so-called family planning practices as part of a solution, and fertility decline as a sign of progress, instead of realizing that international exploitation contributes to pregnancy- and childbirth-related disease and that having fewer children could be evidence of war- and invasion-caused infertility.) It is challenging to show sex-related disease and infertility, and how they develop, in a Hollywood movie. Promiscuity becomes a problem for the whole population as disease and infertility spread. Stress contributes to disease and infertility and is greater during war and can be greater under an occupation. Westerners on the move for jobs, or as part of their job, tend to be promiscuous and consciously have sex principally for pleasure rather than with a reproductive intent, but many people in the Third World can’t have the same lifestyles as Westerners without severe health and social consequences.
Careless about eir veil, Kim Barker is called a “shameless whore” by an older female as soon as ey steps off the plane in Afghanistan. Kim’s perceived disregard of modesty, and of equality of beauty or appearance, may represent disease, destruction and death in various ways for Afghan females and Afghans in general. “WTF” raises the idea of Western females’ patriarchal privilege only to go on to critique it by portraying Western females as just being more liberated than Afghan females, but oppressed when they leave places in Kabul catering to Westeners. The reality is that more wealth, better health care and less disease underlie much of the success of alleged feminist movements in the West. Also, by gaining freedom and using pornography to their advantage when others couldn’t, Western females became patriarchs themselves analogous to how the “liberation” of workers in one country without revolution is actually bourgeoisification when billions of people continue to be exploited. Those workers become exploiters themselves.
It’s not so much that Western females want to free Afghan females from the blue burqa so millions of Afghan females can compete with a tiny number of Western females for males. Rather, Western females have mobility and want to be able to go anywhere in the world and exercise their privilege as males-socially-speaking in the midst of females and males with less privilege than them. Sure, the boyfriend back at home starts behaving badly, but who needs em really. After all, the boyfriend travels for work emself so “equality” could mean doing the kinds of things many males do while on business trips regardless of (or with tacit toleration by) intimate partners left behind. If it weren’t for strong monotheistic culture (in the absence of a secular proletarian alternative to Western ideology and Western patriarchal frameworks and patterns), Western females would be able to dominate in oppressed nations more than they do already in unstructured or informal contexts, or from the safety of their homeland. Amerikan females sense this and are shocked, disappointed or annoyed (“wtf”) when they enter a Muslim country, which could have seemed like a more thrilling, more exotic spring break destination to the ignorant. Instead of considering that some things in Islam could be useful in a struggle against patriarchy, or pondering why it is Western males also face restrictions when they leave Western occupier compounds, the reaction is both chauvinist and pseudo-feminist. ◊