An Anti-Imperialist Review of ‘The Post’

BY JOSÉ CARLOS MARULANDA

If Marvel’s recent “Black Panther” film centered Black people in starring roles in a historic move (a film that is not immune to criticisms), then Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” re-centers white supremacy to counterbalance it perfectly.

Based on real-life events during the Vietnam War, the film focuses on the experiences lived by staff at The Washington Post and government leaker Daniel Ellsberg, the first Edward Snowden.

Like Snowden’s narrow view of the world, the film centers white lives and experiences while completely neglecting oppressed voices and experiences from around the world — namely those of the Vietnamese people who were most affected. This is strange, given that hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people were killed and millions more were attacked by U.S. military forces for defending their country from invasion.

Some, less biased than myself, would argue that films have limited time in which to tell stories and that this story, in particular, was about those involved in exposing U.S. government secret documents, an apparent act of heroism.

In “The Post,” an absence of any attempt to tinge the film with Vietnamese voices is accompanied by a serious endeavor to have us feel sorry for invading U.S. soldiers. The film begins with an ambush on a U.S. military unit by the Viet Cong, which is supposed to invoke grief. But for those of us who have read and understand history from an anti-imperialist lens, it only rouses celebratory laughter.

While the cast is dominated by white males, the film attempts to gap the gender divide by giving Meryl Streep a leading role and a few scenes which “speak” to women — white bourgeois women to be specific. Streep, who plays Katherine Graham (the first female publisher of a major newspaper) and who also played Margaret Thatcher in that devil’s biopic, fails to stir any feelings of solidarity and instead further drives our opposition to white bourgeois feminism.

In one scene, Streep’s character is in a mansion dressed in a fancy dressing gown deciding on whether to allow the publication of the initial secret documents provided by Ellsberg. We’re supposed to feel sorry for this rich white woman’s turmoil.

Spielberg, please. The only emotion felt was cringiness. The only possible negative consequence of her actions was going to jail, but we all know wealthy white people don’t go to jail. Even if they occasionally do get “punished,” the worst punishment they often serve is house arrest.

This is all to say that nothing less than a white supremacist narrative was expected from Spielberg and Hollywood.

We don’t have the power or the money to produce something which honors the beautiful fight of the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese people. What we can do is inform our readers that going forward, our concern should never be “our troops” but standing up against the invasion of socialist and anti-imperialist nations at all costs.

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