‘White Noise’ highlights the small lives, not the ugly views, of white nationalists
The value of this documentary is in seeing these how these hate hucksters operate.
The alt-right, anti-immigration, YouTube star Lauren Southern shares her views:
“Gang rape is an inherently democratic process. It’s nine people voting against one and what they want to do.”
It takes a special level of ignorance and awfulness to think that way. And you have to be next-level dumb and terrible to say something like that on camera, for a documentary.
The Atlantic presents a documentary directed by Daniel Lombroso. No MPAA rating. Running time: 94 minutes. Available Wednesday on demand.
Southern is one of the three main subjects of Daniel Lombroso’s “White Noise,” which takes a look at a white nationalist movement that gained considerable momentum and was emboldened by Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. We also spend time with the infamous neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, who gave a speech in which he boomed “Hail Trump!” after the election and was one of the primary players in the Charlottesville marches, and Mike Cernovich, a misogynist hatemonger who peddles his brand of B.S. with all the subtlety and earnestness of a 19th century snake oil salesman.
Granted, you might be thinking: Why would I want to spend even a minute with these terrible clowns, let alone a full-length documentary? I get that. Ten minutes into Lombroso’s film, it’s painfully clear these are people with ugliness in their hearts and dangerously racist ideas. But there’s value in seeing these how these hate hucksters operate and going behind the curtain to see how small they really are.
“I’ve lived in this multi-cultural mess my entire life, and I want to get out of it,” says Spencer, as we follow him on a tour of sorts where he gives speeches attended by his small band of pathetic followers — and large numbers of protesters, who boo and heckle and hold signs and basically tell him what he can do with his racist propaganda. Spencer denies he’s a racist, denies he’s responsible for inciting violence and often plays the victim card, wallowing in self-pity and wondering why people have a problem with his call for white supremacy. The USA is “our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us,” he proclaims.
Southern, a Canadian in early 20s, is obsessed with putting a stop to illegal immigration around the world and travels to Italy and France while making a documentary. When she speaks to African immigrants living under a viaduct in France and hears one man’s story, she’s moved — but it doesn’t change her views. In Toronto, she claims she walked around the city and “I literally could not see a single European face.” Really? We also see her on a date with a fellow alt-righter in which she says she’d like to have a family someday — and he responds by saying procreation is the duty and responsibility of white Europeans, and if you happen to love your spouse and children, that’s a bonus. As the film progresses, Southern seems to lose steam and says at the ripe age of 23, she’s growing tired of being a YouTube anti-immigration celebrity and is thinking about her next move in life.
Then there’s Cernovich, who if anything might be more odious than Southern and Spencer because he comes across as a cynical performance artist/con man who’s exploiting racism in a desperate grab for money and fame. He says of the alt-right movement, “I’m glad to get rid of the Nazis, they were holding us back,” and is using his notoriety to hold self-help seminars and peddle a line of dietary supplements and facial serums. Cernovich fancies himself as some sort of mischief-making clown prince, but like Spencer and Southern, he’s awash in a pit of execrable quicksand of his own making.