Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gay Propaganda? Horror Classic 'Bride of Frankenstein'

by Eric Brothers (C) 2014
Ernest Thesiger (Dr. Pretorius): “one of the most outrageous queens of 30s movie queendom.”

Bride of Frankenstein is indeed a horror film, but did director James Whale, writes Gary Morris in his essay, "Sexual Subversion: The Bride of Frankenstein," discover “a strategy for creating a commercially viable product that would also—in subtext—subvert existing mores”?  It could be argued—quite strongly—that this film "full of fantasy and monster-outsiders" from 1935 was "the perfect medium for indulging the most radical aspects of a gay sensibility.”

James Whale (with cigar) directing Karloff on set of "Bride."
The reviewer of the film in Time magazine seems to have gotten the message back then. Published on April 29, 1935, he writes, “Director James Whale [has] given it the macabre intensity proper to all good horror pieces, but [has] substituted a queer kind of mechanistic pathos for the sheer evil that was [the] Frankenstein [monster].”

Elsa Lanchester is "mannish" while Shelly and Byron “look, talk, and act with an outlandish, caricatured femininity…”

1935 review says Elsa Lanchester is "mannish in dress"

The review, for some reason, discusses actor Charles Laughton (who was not in the film), the husband of actress Elsa Lanchester, who does appear in the film, as well as Miss Lanchester herself, “Although he [Laughton] is known for his plump effeminacy, she [Lanchester] is mannish in dress.” Why in the world would that be written in a film review of 1935?

Ernest Thesiger in full drag in the 1920s or 1930s.

Ernest Thesiger: "fruity" and "perverse"

Director Whale was gay and made no effort to hide that fact. Morris points out that major characters are played by gay or bi-sexual men, including Ernest Thesiger (Dr. Pretorius), who Morris writes was, “one of the most outrageous queens of 30s movie queendom.” Brunas, Brunas and Weaver write that Thesiger’s performance is “fruity” and “pompous and slyly perverse.” Known to be a “skilled” female impersonator, the actor once asked playwright W. Somerset Maugham why he never wrote any parts for him. Maugham claimed that he did, and quipped, “but Gladys Cooper always plays them.”

Percy Shelly and Lord Byron have "outlandish, caricatured femininity"

The opening prologue of the film, when author Mary Shelly chats in a “plush” parlor with husband Percy Shelly and friend Lord Byron, writes Morris, which is “allegedly irrelevant to the narrative, actually goes far in establishing Whale’s tone of homosexual revenge...” Both men wear heavy make-up and “look, talk, and act with an outlandish, caricatured femininity…”

Valerie Hobson (Elizabeth) and Colin Clive (Henry Frankenstein) in "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935).

Henry and Elizabeth have "straight" relationship

The one “straight” relationship in Bride of Frankenstein is that of Henry Frankenstein and his fiancĂ©, Elizabeth. A major conflict of the film is that the experiments leading to the resurrecting of the dead are a threat to the “normal” relationship between them. Elizabeth says to Henry, “The figure of death seems to be reaching for you, as if it would take you away from me.” Morris writes that “death” can be interpreted metaphorically as “a heterosexist vision of homosexuality” that is a “barrenness, the inability--or worse, indifference--to producing children.”

Pretorious (standing) and Henry Frankenstein.

Two "queens": "mincing" Pretorius and "overwrought" Henry

When Dr. Pretorius (Thesiger) arrives, the maid Minnie (Una O'Connor) says in an aside, "He's a queer fellow!" Morris writes that Whale shows us two "queens": the "mincing" Pretorius and the "emotionally overwrought" Henry, "whose attempts to marry and enter into conjugal hetero bliss with his wife are endlessly thwarted..." Pretorius mocks "conventional" love throughout and even mocks the bible--in a 1935 film!--when he says, "Sometimes I wonder if we'd all be better off being devils, and no nonsense about angels." 

Karloff as the Monster.
Morris writes that the monster (Boris Karloff) is "society's paranoid vision" of the result of a "homosexual tryst." Pretorius is the monster's involved, but "manipulative" parent figure, writes Morris, "the embodiment of society's fears of the vast damage the homosexual, nefariously moving into the role of domestic caretaker, teacher of social values and sex-role attributes, is capable of doing."

"Domestic bliss" between monster and blind hermit

True "domestic bliss" in Bride of Frankenstein is found only in the scenes with the monster and the blind hermit. Morris sees these scenes as quite powerful, and resonating on different levels: satire of the nuclear family; full of interchanges resembling a "typical" family, "and as a bitter view of society's ultimate responsibility for seeing intelligent, sensitive people—read: homosexuals—as cripples and monsters."

The blind man is open and loving: "I have prayed many times for God to send me a friend...I shall look after you, and you will comfort me." This is a marriage, says Morris: the monster wants to learn and his blind friend wants to teach, and "both are driven by a need for acceptance and love."

"Domestic bliss": blind hermit and monster enjoy a meal.
Whale reminds viewers, however, that society does not approve when the monster—the outsider— "is driven from his scene of domestic pleasure by two gun-toting rubes [one the un-billed John Carradine] who happen upon this startling alliance and quickly, instinctively, proceed to destroy it."

"Birth" of the Bride of Frankenstein

The exciting climax of the movie—the creation of the bride—is well worth the wait and the price of admission. Lights flash, faces are locked in serious concentration—with Pretorius looking like a Mephistophelian drag queen. The Time review says, "they impregnate her [the bride] with crackling life from a lightning bolt brought down on gigantic kite-cables." We are bombarded "with dazzling forced perspectives, tilted angles, and wide angle close-ups of the crazed participants."

Pretorius and Henry "give birth" to the Bride of Frankenstein.
Morris's brilliant and scathing essay also builds to a climax that is worth the wait. "They"-— Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius—"work together to 'give birth' to a woman," writes Morris, "...two homosexuals replacing the heterosexual modes of male and female parenting."

In closing Morris writes, "Whale's magical rendering of this scene, one of the greatest in Hollywood history, validates the power [of Whale's] tremendous abilities as a gay artist...The intense dynamism of this scene serves as Whale's reminder to the audience...of the majesty and power of the homosexual creator."



Monday, June 23, 2014

Strange Zionist Propaganda: Islam Blamed for Holocaust

by Eric Brothers (C) 2014.
Zionist Pamela Geller, who leads the AFDI.

Beginning in late May, strap-hangers in Washington, D.C., were greeted by the image of Adolf Hitler during their morning commutes, thanks to a controversial new propaganda campaign that plastered a photograph of the Nazi leader onto the sides of 20 buses in our nation's capital.  The anti-Muslim advertising was created by Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), which is also known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an American far right-wing,anti-Islamist, anti-Muslim, and Islamophobic organization led by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists SIOA as a hate group.

The 15-foot posters present Hitler talking to Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who teamed up with the Nazis in an attempt to try to drive Jews out of Palestine. According to the Washington Post, Al-Hesseini once supported Hitler’s policy of exterminating the Jews.  The propaganda was created in response to the below ad by The American Muslims for Palestine that appeared on the side of Washington DC buses in March and April of 2014.

The ad reads, “We’re sweating April 15 so Israelies don’t have to! Stop US aid to Israel’s occupation!” the ads read. Geller called the pro-Palestine group's campaign “Jew-hating.” The American Muslims for Palestine spokesperson said that her organization doesn’t usually react to Pamela Geller. “This is the kind of thing she does, countering political speech with racist, Islamophobic speech,” Kristin Szremski said.

The above American Muslims for Palestine ad refers to the fact that the U.S. gives $3 billion in aid to Israel every year.  This money is provided by U.S. taxpayers.  A careful look at the image and copy does not reveal any "anti-Semitism" to this author.  Calling the ad "anti-Semitic" is actually quite laughable.  It is common, of course, for any criticism of Israel to be greeted with cries of "Jew-hating" or "anti-Semitism."  And, of course, the Holocaust is usually brought up to show that any criticism of Israel will bring about another Holocaust.  It is meant to silence all critics of Israel and negate the First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech. But it is just a pathetic Zionist version of "crying wolf."

Propaganda by AFDI in 2012.
It was two years ago that the above propaganda was presented in New York City subways and other mass transit around the country by Geller and the AFDI.  According the Gawker blog, "We told you...that Pamela Geller's wildly offensive pro-Israel ads, which paraphrase Ayn Rand to call Muslims 'savages,' were set to make their debut in New York City's subways sometime in September.  Well, ten of those ads went up today [9/25/12], and it was only a few short minutes before several of them were vandalized by quick-on-their feet street artists out to remind everyone that, yes, it is racist to tacitly suggest that all Palestinians are monsters while Israelis are 'civilized men.' Good work, New York."


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Censorship of Palestinian Children's Artwork

by Eric Brothers (C) 2014
Artwork created by Palestinian child in Gaza.
This blog post features images that were part of an art exhibition by Palestinian children depicting the Israeli assault during 2008-09 on the Gaza strip.  During the Israeli attack approximately 1,400 people were killed, including several hundred children; Gazan children have used art therapy to process their trauma and grief. This exhibit was the result of art therapy sessions for these emotionally-battered children.

These drawings were supposed to be shown at the Museum of Children's Art in Oakland (MOCHA), entitled 'A Child's View from Gaza' which was cancelled on September 8, 2011.  The drawings in the exhibit were created by children ranging in age from about 9 to 11 and included bombs dropping, tanks and people getting shot.  "They are pictures of what these children experienced. It's their experience," said Barbara Lubin, executive director of the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), which was organizing the exhibition.

The Berkeley-based Middle East Children’s Alliance stated in a news release that "there was a concerted effort by pro-Israel organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area to pressure the museum to reverse its decision to display Palestinian children’s art."

Lubin was notified by museum officials on on September 8, 2011, that they were cancelling what had become a controversial exhibit that was putting the children's museum in the midst of the long-standing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Museum board member Randolph Bell said that it had become a distraction to the main objective of bringing arts education to all children.  "The pressure was ... well, we were getting calls from constituents that were concerned about the situation," Bell said. "We don't have any political stake in this thing. It just became apparent that we needed to rethink this."  In other words, the museum caved in to political and economic pressure and censored the exhibition.

The group's executive director, Barbara Lubin, described the move as censorship. “We understand all too well the enormous pressure that the museum came under. But who wins? The museum doesn’t win. MECA doesn’t win. The people of the Bay Area don’t win. Our basic constitutional freedom of speech loses. The children in Gaza lose."

Museum officials said the exhibit space is in a multi-use area that brings in children as young as 2. While art should "provoke people and generate emotion," the museum couldn't handle the divisive issue in that space, said Hilmon Sorey, the board's chairman.  "Our aim, as with all exhibits, is to foster insight and understanding," Sorey said in a statement. "However, upon further review and engagement with the community, it became clear that this exhibit was not appropriate for an open gallery accessible by all children."

However, In 2007, the museum exhibited paintings made during World War II by American children in the Kaiser shipyard child care center. Their work featured images of Hitler, burning airplanes, sinking battleships, empty houses and a sad girl next to a Star of David.  Earlier, in 2004, art by Iraqi children hung on the museum's walls. The pictures, made shortly after the U.S. invasion, included a drawing of a helicopter shooting into a field of flowers.

It was on Saturday, September 24, 2011, the day that 'A Child's View from Gaza,' was originally scheduled to open at MOCHA, that over 500 people — led by a marching band — stood outside the museum carrying the childrens’ precious artwork in their hands, celebrating both the young Gaza artists and their freedom of expression.   MECA’s executive director, Barbara Lubin, announced that the exhibit had found a new venue — a bigger, better gallery space around the corner from MOCHA. Some days earlier, Lubin said that MOCHA board members had advised her that they would reconsider putting the show back on at their museum, but it would need "modifications."

In response, MECA stated that: "We at MECA made a commitment to the children of Gaza to share their experiences and perspectives, and consider any modifications to the art exhibit as a form of censorship. Children everywhere deserve to be heard, but we have an even greater responsibility to listen to the stories of children under siege and who survived Israel’s brutal military assault in 2008-2009."

It is clear that supporters of Israel did not want the truth about the brutal attack upon Gaza in 2008-09 known to the American public.  Americans enjoy freedom of speech.  Why is it that Israeli supporters abuse the freedoms that we cherish here in the United States?  Where is the loyalty of American Zionists who censor information that places Israel in a poor light, but uses every media outlet available when anyone attempts to publicly criticize Israel, cynically invoking the same rights that they are actively crushing?


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Zionism: Nationalism, Colonialism, Racism

By Eric Brothers (C) 2014

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." Yoram Bar Porath, President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published in Yediot Aahronoth, 14 July 1972.

Zionism is the nationalist movement of Jews and Jewish culture which resulted in the creation of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined in the Old Testament of the Bible as the Land of Israel, which is, in the words of its leadership, a Jewish state.  Therefore, non-Jews in the Jewish state of Israel, who currently number 20 percent of the population, have less rights and privileges than do Jews. Israel has been heralded in propaganda as the only "democracy" in the Middle East.  However, it could be considered a "limited democracy" at best.  The movement reached its stated goal in 1948 when the State of Israel was approved by the United Nations. But Israel is a nation that has been beset by endless wars, while Zionism is a movement that has been fraught with controversy from its inception to the present day.

Zionism: Jewish nationalism

Zionism is a nationalist movement that in its beginning did not really care where that Jewish nation would be.  They could return to Palestine, the historical home of the Jews, or settle in Argentina or Uganda, where Jewish states were seriously proposed. This was because Theodor Herzl and other early political Zionists saw the creation of a Jewish national homeland as the primary goal.  To them it did not matter where the “Jewish State” existed--as long as it did indeed exist.  Also the use of Hebrew as an official language was not originally desired.  Herzl picked his own German as the official language of the Jewish state.  His Jewish homeland was firmly based upon the Germanic culture of his upbringing.  It fact, Herzl was reluctant to employ Hebrew as the vernacular of the Jewish state.

Theodor Herzl.

In the late 19th century there were three major strains of Zionism. The political Zionists, as noted above, led by Theodor Herzl, saw the formation of a Jewish state as the main goal, no matter where it may be.  The cultural Zionists, led by Ahad Ha’am, saw the creation of a movement that emphasized the national cultural revival of the Jewish people at its core. According to Ha’am, the Jewish state would be a spiritual haven for the Jews and should be created in the Jewish homeland of Palestine.  The third faction was Orthodox Jews, who were unique among Zionists as claiming Palestine for the Jews solely on religious, rather than political or historical grounds.  These religious Zionists believe that God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants and that Zionism was a sign that deliverance was at hand.  In their eyes, Palestine belonged to the Jewish people and establishing the Jewish homeland in Palestine was the fulfillment of that right.

If Palestine was an empty land, bereft of people, then there would be no problem.  However, the Zionist propaganda line, "A land without people for a people without a land," which is still used in Israeli text books to this very day, was a bold-faced lie.

Palestinians fleeing during the Nakba.

In 1948, when the State of Israel was formed by the United Nations, there was a Palestinian exodus, known in Arabic as the Nakba ("disaster," "catastrophe," or "cataclysm").  It occurred when approximately 711,000 to 726,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine and the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.  The term Nakba also refers to the period of war itself and events affecting Palestinians from December 1947 to January 1949, and is synonymous in that sense with what is known to Israelis as the War of Independence (Milkhemet Ha'atzma'ut).

Around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what became Israel (50 percent of the Arab total of Mandatory Palestine) left or were expelled from their homes during the Nakba. It was the Deir Yassin massacre that frightened Palestinians and motivated many to flee their homes. The massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun Zevai Leumi and Lohamei Herut Israel Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian Arab village of roughly 600 people.  Around 107 villagers were killed during and after the battle for the village, including women and children—some were shot, while others died when hand grenades were thrown into their homes.

Factors involved in the Nakba include Jewish military advances, attacks against Arab villages and fears of another massacre after Deir Yassin; expulsion orders by Zionist authorities; the voluntary self-removal of the wealthier classes; the collapse in Palestinian leadership; and an unwillingness to live under Jewish control. Later, a series of laws passed by the first Israeli government prevented Palestinians from returning to their homes, or claiming their property. They and many of their descendants remain refugees.  Later in the war, Palestinians were expelled as part of Plan Dalet. The expulsion of the Palestinians has since been described by some historians as ethnic cleansing.

Jewish Nationalism means War

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”— David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.

It was as early as 1922 that Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Histadrut ("General Federation of Laborers in the Land of Israel") said:

[...] The possibility of conquering the land is liable to slip out of our grasp. Our central problem is immigration ... and not adapting our lives to this or that doctrine. [...] We are conquerors of the land facing an iron wall, and we have to break through it. [...] How can we run our Zionist movement in such a way that [... we] will be able to carry out the conquest of the land by the Jewish worker, and which will find the resources to organise the massive immigration and settlement of workers through their own capabilities? The creation of a new Zionist movement, a Zionist movement of workers, is the first prerequisite for the fulfillment of Zionism. [...] Without [such] a new Zionist movement that is entirely at our disposal, there is no future or hope for our activities.

Jewish colonization in West Bank city of Ramallah (2012).
Zionism: Jewish Colonization

In the Occupied Territories of  East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, which are supposed to be Palestinian lands, Jews have rights and privileges, while the indigenous (West Bank) and displaced (Gaza) Palestinians are persecuted, terrorized, displaced from homes, and killed.  In essence, the Occupied Territories are colonies of an imperialist Israel with over 500,000 "settlers," i.e., colonists, living in the West Bank.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky, (1880 –1940) was a Zionist leader, author, orator, soldier, and founder of the Jewish Legion in World War I.  In his book, Instead of Excessive Apology (1911), he wrote: 

We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization...must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy. 

Jabotinsky also wrote of Palestine, "If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for the land, or find a benefactor who will maintain the garrison on your behalf. ... Zionism is a colonizing adventure and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed forces."  The State of Israel has indeed found "benefactor[s] who will maintain the garrison": firstly the British and currently the pliant and weak-willed United States, who often put Israeli political and military needs ahead of its own. 

The late Ariel Sharon, Israeli politician and general. 

"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don't grab will go to them." Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
Zionism: Jewish Racism

According to historian Avi Shlaim, throughout its history up to present day, Zionism "is replete with manifestations of deep hostility and contempt towards the indigenous population."  The evidence of this behavior goes back to 1891 when Ahad Ha'am, who, after visiting Palestine in that year, published a series of articles criticizing the aggressive behavior and political ethnocentrism of Zionist settlers. Ha'am, a leading Zionist, wrote that Zionists settlers: with the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly, beat them shamefully for no sufficient reason, and even boast about their actions. There is no one to stop the flood and put an end to this despicable and dangerous tendency.

Ahad Ha'am also wrote some prophetic words for the future state of Israel: "[But if things continue the way they are] ...the society that I envision, if my dream is not just a false notion, this society will have to begin to create itself in the midst of fuss, noisiness and panic, and will have to face the prospects of both internal and external war..."

Early Zionist and first Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion.

By the turn of the 20th century, Ben-Gurion advocated exclusively Jewish labor in Jewish businesses. He explained why a Jewish worker should earn a higher salary because: "[he was] more intelligent and diligent" than the Arab.

The treatment of Arabs during the boycott inspired Ahad Ha'am to write, "Apart from the political danger, I can't put up with the idea that our [Zionist] brethren are morally capable of behaving in such a way to humans of another people, and unwittingly the thought comes to my mind: if it is so now, what will be our relation to the others if in truth we shall achieve at the end of times power in Eretz Yisrael?"

Ben-Gurion wanted to segregate Arab and Jewish societies in all sectors from his earliest days in Palestine. For example, the Jews had their separate economical, social, health, educational, media, and political sectors that were opened to Jews only; Arabs were forbidden from participating at all. The segregation of Palestine's society was nurtured and pushed by the Zionists in order to make it easier to partition the country when the Zionist dream of a Jewish state became a reality.

It was in the 1920s that Ben-Gurion stated, "Without Hebrew labor there is no way to absorb the Jewish masses. Without Hebrew labor, there will be no Jewish economy; without Hebrew labor, there will be no [Jewish] homeland. And anyone who does anything counter to the principle of Hebrew labor harms the most precious asset we have for fulfilling Zionism."  Therefore no Arab should work with or for any single Jew in Palestine.  The racial segregation of early Zionism remains firmly in place in 21st century Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Arab Jews in Israel.  Second best?

The racism in Zionist society also extends to Jewish citizens of Israel.  Ben-Gurion spoke of Arab Jews when he said: "Even the immigrant of North Africa, who looks like a savage, who has never read a book in his life, not even a religious one, and doesn't even know how to say his prayers, either wittingly or unwittingly has behind him a spiritual heritage of thousands of years. . . ." A backhanded complement if ever there was one.

The picture of the "perfect" Zionist is a white Ashkenazi Jew from Europe or America.  Ben-Gurion said that European Jews were "the leading candidates for citizenship in the State of Israel. Hitler, more than he hurt the Jewish people, whom he knew and detested, hurt the Jewish State, whose coming he did not foresee. He destroyed the substance, the main and essential building force of the [Jewish] state. The state arose and did not find the nation which had waited for it." Thus Arab, African, Indian, and Asian Jews were accepted as poor replacements for "the nation" that Ben-Gurion desired.


Gouz. "Emergence and Evolution of Early Palestinian and Zionist Identity." unpublished paper. University of Florida, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  No date.

Also see links within post.