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The Hunt for Red October (1990)

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

After I completed my Tom Clancy article yesterday, I stepped outside into a rainstorm—eventually I took cover at the Shakespeare memorial theatre, being in Stratford-Upon-Avon; sheltered under the metal exterior awning, I saw a perfect rainbow that stretched from horizon to horizon without interruption. This being among the few websites—perhaps the only website—guided not by hit metrics but by signs in the heavens, I took this as a sign that the article had well-pleased and that I should write another about Clancy.

The Hunt for Red October (1990) is a classic “dad bod”—as we said a few years ago—film. It is the perfect post-Christmas Boxing Day film for a rotund man with a herringbone jumper to put his feet up to. He pours himself a glass of “Old Contemptible” brown ale and settles into his submarine adventure (“Connery was obviously the best Bond”). The film itself was already slightly anachronistic when it was made, given that it is about defection from the Soviet side and the Berlin Wall had just come down—so the whole tension is somehow lost, even if you saw it at the time you had to imagine it was a “false document” or alternative history about events that happened a few years before and not something that could happen “now”. Hollywood should have made the film three years earlier to catch that full-on Cold War paranoia and claustrophobia.

Anyway, this article is really about October’s general political orientation, not about the plot itself. As noted in the previous article, Clancy has this peculiar attitude to black Americans—actually the standard or “official” attitude—whereby he gets off on blacks being placed in a superior position to whites; as noted, it’s like a decadent aristocrat who pinches his skin just to feel something (Superbia! Arrange my Sumerian slave on top of my Gaulish slave for this performance—yes, bring four of them together this time…chop-chop…). It’s also a form of racial noblesse oblige—we let you be in charge, pretend we’re not in charge—and that’s why it always feels a bit sickly, smug, and “off”. It’s not dissimilar to men who call their wife “the wife” or “the boss”—and yet still retain the dominant financial position. “Got to run it past the boss.” Do you really, though?

In October, the racial dynamic is played about with by having the senior official at the CIA—played by James Earl Jones, Darth Vader himself—be boss to Jack Ryan, the film’s hero. Ryan has a paternal relationship with his boss, James Greer. “Jack, boy, get yourself in here,” Greer says when Ryan arrives at his office—the valence of “boy” in that sentence being changed by the fact a black man addresses a white man; a bit like “nigger”, “boy” is a word with a history.

This awkward paternal relationship in fact relates to a non-racial element in Clancy’s own life—before he was an author he was an insurance agent in his father-in-law’s business; hence he often has Ryan, his recurrent character, in these unusually chummy relationships with senior officials, admirals and the like, and they often humour him and give him “access” above his rank. This reflects the way Clancy relied on his “padrone”, his father-in-law, for many years—“Now, boy, how’s it going along—you working hard? Not too hard I hope—ha, ha. Just you keep it up, anything to keep my little girl happy.” As previously noted, Clancy writes from the feminine position and he was himself basically feminised for many years, being owned by his wife’s father.

In October, this surrogate father relationship—instantiated by Darth Vader, “the dark father” himself—is played out in a racial dimension, with Ryan’s “work dad” being black. This dynamic also plays on a common trope that I often mention in American cultural products, the “wise old negro” archetype—perfectly instantiated by Morgan Freeman—whereby the slave represents the “wisdom of the child” that his more sophisticated masters (white people and their crazy notions) can never grasp. In this case, the “wise old negro” is a senior figure in the CIA, the “all-knowing” agency—very wise, perhaps.

Secondarily, another black character in October is “Jonesy”—depicted above—a sonar man on the USS Dallas. The racial dynamic is obvious in the video above, with the vaguely Southern “racist” ribbing Jonesy—a man who is in fact his superior, intellectually and culturally. In the novel, Jonesy is not black—he is a 151 IQ dropout from college; he does have a black colleague as an officer (the defecting Soviets cannot believe the Americanskis have a black officer and want to touch his curly hair—a recurrent theme in progressive propaganda). The film transposes this black officer onto Jonesy, so that instead we have the black nerd-genius—a highly cultured man, as is Clancy’s original character, who listens to opera and not rock, let alone rap.

Depicted: the frisson experienced when a Tom Clancy fan thinks about his commitment to racial equality, prays to the “sacred ass”.

October plays with both black characters deliberately by keeping them slightly off screen in their introductory shots so that you cannot see them, then the camera rolls round the corner and…it’s a black man! “Guess I shocked you there, bigot, you assumed, prejudicially, senior CIA executives and sonar geniuses would be white—they’re actually black.” This isn’t entirely political, it’s also a filmmaking decision to surprise you and make the story more interesting; and there are also certain story archetypes that make us responsive to this idea—“the wisdom of children” or the “idiot savant” who everyone ignores because “he’s stupid” and yet turns out to be right.

What this illustrates is that the themes that constitute “wokeness”—would have been called “political correctness” when October was made—are just the standard American belief system. The belief system updates itself but the basic form is fully realised in October—and as I have often noted, you can go back to 1940s B-movies with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and see girl pilots flying Holmes into occupied Europe. The belief system itself extols “progress” and would maintain that the 1940s were “totally misogynistic”—yet the “kick ass” girl pilots are there, just as much as today.

Hence although Clancy likes to insinuate the Russians are homosexual, he boasts in one novel that the head of the FBI is now a Jew and everything else in his fictional world is progressive—if he were still alive he would have gay and transgender characters met with “Hey, things have changed.” The irony is that activists for feminism and similar progressive causes regard men like Clancy as “conservative” or “Republican reactionaries” because they write about the military—yet Clancy is fully aligned with every progressive talking point, rebarbative to only the most neurotic progressives who cannot even stand to look at a gun on screen without discomfort.

October might have been made when the Cold War had finished, but the film itself is communist with a small “c”. This is not only due to its progressive racial dynamics (women do not really feature in the film but Ryan’s wife is a career woman who has to leave Ryan to watch the kid at one point, Ryan himself stays home to work as an analyst—impeccable feminism, the stay-at-home-husband; and Ryan himself is a wuss who hates flying and anything too “action-y”). Indeed, the film’s real communism comes out in the Soviet submarine tasked to hunt down the Red October before she defects. This submarine is captained by an officer “descended from aristocracy”—very unrealistic: the Soviet system consciously discriminated against the children of the old aristocracy and bourgeoisie—just as the American system discriminates against whites today. The last person to be a fully trusted and vetted Communist Party member with command of a nuclear submarine would be an “aristocrat”.

This artefact exists because, per Yarvin, America is a communist country. Hence the enemy, even if Communists, must be aristocrats “really”. It’s genuinely Orwellian—the propaganda has no connection to reality, just as the Soviets used to call the Americans “fascist imperialists”. Hence the aristocrat who commands the Soviet submarine is a cold, cruel “Prussian” who doesn’t care about his men and is arrogant—he will naturally be defeated by the “meritocratic” Americans and democratic Red October. Similarly, although the Soviet Union attacked America endlessly for “racism”, Clancy depicts Soviet sailors as “the real racists”—touching the “fuzzy-wuzzy” hair on a black man like curious infants, as if an actual adult male would do such a thing (they’re ignorant though, you see—not educated, “politically educated” as the Soviets themselves would say…).

Hence October, while nominally an anti-Communist film, is turned into a film against the non-existent Russian aristocracy. Poor Russian aristocrats! Not enough to be bludgeoned to death and flushed down coal mines by the Bolsheviks, or forced to flee to work in Paris as taxi drivers; even in 1990 they’re being blamed for the oppression in Soviet Russia! As Minitrue informs me, these aristocrats are devilish clever—you thought the Communists killed them all, but they were running the USSR all along. It’s a good job we live in meritocratic America where we have true commun…sorry, where we have liberty and justice for all.

This tendency was even sent up in The Simpsons in an episode where the Schwarzenegger parody “McBain” fights against “commie-nazis”—jet fighter pilots with Prussian monocles and a symbol that, per Dugin’s National Bolshevism, mixes swastika and hammer and sickle. This tendency—to depict the USSR as “racist” and “aristocratic”—increased in the early 1980s; previously the line was much more “the USSR is against God, they’re Godless and against private property”. The change came about due to the fact the USSR suppressed Jewish emigration to Israel in the 1970s and pushed Jews out of senior positions within the Party—this led the American Jewish community, until that time relatively pro-Soviet because the Soviets were radically anti-Christian, to change their orientation and become more militantly anti-Soviet.

Hence Hollywood ideology in particular began to depict the Soviets as “Prussian aristocrats” and “racists”—i.e. “they’re the Nazis really” (let our people go—as Moses himself might have said). This gives rise to the apparently contradictory situation wherein Communists are portrayed as Prussian aristocrats—the insinuation is that the Russians are behaving “like the Tsarists with their pogroms again” and this message had to be conveyed in a way that was comprehensible to a mass non-Jewish audience (whose thought process extended to “Communists bad”, “Soviets bad”—“We good”). Indeed, Clancy’s characters—sadly this is probably authentic American behaviour—refer to their opponents as “the bad guys” whereas the Americans are “the good guys”. Truly infantile.

Anyway, the bottom line is that Red October is a left-wing propaganda film—redder than the Soviets it depicts; and that is because Clancy was a godless perverted feminised man—a product representative of the entire American system—and, indeed, a man so feminised that what was terrible about “the Natzees” and “the Commies” for him, so that they merged into “the commie-nazis”, was that they were, in their authoritarian pose, dangerously masculine. It struck me at university when I read Furet’s “totalitarian twins” thesis that the USSR and the USA were “Enlightenment twins”—and, indeed, America has always been “woke”; to be “woke” is normal—you are the pervert.


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