White Noise

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
White Noise Movie Poster Image
Docu highlights leaders of the alt-right movement; language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie suggests that white majority in the U.S., Canada, and Europe is endangered, therefore white people must take action against immigrants of color entering the U.S., Canada, and Europe. It also claims feminism strips power and agency away from women.

Positive Role Models

Three far-right activists advocate promoting and maintaining the supremacy of white males. One is married to an Iranian, another has a child with a person of color, and the third has been sued by an ex-wife for domestic violence. Two of the three say they aren't responsible for misinterpretations of their messages that have resulted in violence and death.

Violence

One activist gave a viral "Hail Trump" speech echoing allegiance of the Nazis to Hitler. One follower deliberately drove a car into pedestrians at a Charlottesville, VA protest. One victim died. Racist comments are rife. One activist says "Gang rape is an inherently democratic process." Another activist promotes predatory titles such as "How You F--k a Girl," "How to Cheat on Your Girlfriend," and "How to Choke a Bitch."

Sex

A gay Republican alt-right activist has a life-size, color poster of a man wearing no pants and prominently featuring his genitals. Gavin McInnes, Proud Boys founder and co-founder of Vice, apparently comes on to a woman by phone. On her end of the conversation, she cites moral reasons for not agreeing to a sexual relationship with someone who's married and has a child. Gavin later denies he propositioned her. At meetings, white men advise other white men to go out and produce lots of white kids to help maintain a white majority.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "bitch." An activist says, "F--k Islam." The following are said: "Muslims are appalling," "non-Western immigrants bring in rape," "American belongs to us," and "Jews will not replace us." Contempt for the sight of burkas on London streets.

Consumerism

One racist social media influencer says he wants to be a "household name."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and consume alcohol. Gavin McInnes drinks what looks like whisky directly out of a bottle. Cocaine is mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that White Noise is a documentary produced by The Atlantic magazine focusing on three alt-right social media phenoms who drum up fear that American will soon become a white minority country if people of color and Jews are allowed to enter and procreate here. Expect to hear "Muslims are appalling," "non-Western immigrants bring in rape," "American belongs to us," and "Jews will not replace us," as well as contempt for the sight of burkas on London streets. Richard Spencer, the alt-right activist who organized the Charlottesville, VA protest featuring Nazi salutes and death by automobile, takes no responsibility for followers "misinterpreting" his message. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." Adults smoke cigarettes and consume alcohol. A gay Republican alt-right activist has a life-size, color poster of a man wearing no pants and prominently featuring his genitals. The movie suggests that white majority in the U.S., Canada, and Europe is endangered, therefore white people must take action against immigrants of color entering the U.S., Canada, and Europe. It also claims feminism strips power and agency away from women.

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What's the story?

"Gang rape is an inherently democratic process," is how social media troll Lauren Southern explains that "democracy isn't always a good thing" in WHITE NOISE. Her grievance is that the American system doesn't legally allow banning immigrants. She likes to plaster stickers that say "It's OK to be White" around town, yet by film's end, she's had a baby with a man of color. Does that prove her open-mindedness or her hypocrisy? She announces that feminism is "toxic" and "teaches women to be victims instead of encouraging them to achieve and strive for success," the exact opposite of the feminist message. Richard Spencer, who coined the phrase "alt-right," is the neo-Nazi who went viral for his 2016 "Hail Trump" speech, yet he denies being a Nazi and says he didn't foster the anti-Semitism and violence displayed in the Charlottesville, VA protest he organized. With hundreds of thousands of internet followers, these two alt-right leaders disavow bad deeds done by their adherents and innocently shrug that they can't help it if people "misinterpret" their messages. Mike Cernovich admits that he's just in it for the money and his early claim to fame was as a "men's rights" activist who offered such predatory titles as "How You F--k a Girl," "How to Cheat on Your Girlfriend," and "How to Choke a Bitch." He fostered online rumors that Hillary Clinton had Parkinson's and was part of a pedophile ring. Someone observes that he "invented scandals where none existed." He's still at it when he announces, "We know goddamn well that non-western immigrants bring in rape."

Is it any good?

Director Daniel Lambroso thinks that fair reporting in White Noise means letting the racist activists he's profiling speak for themselves in the hopes that viewers will see through their hatred. Given that his subjects have already proven themselves experts at exploiting social media to spread lies to millions (Pizzagate, Hillary Clinton is dying, etc.), this documentary mostly serves to expose an even wider audience to their vile attitudes. Lambroso might have explored what about these unsavory people appeals to their followers and why Spencer can get away with saying "Hail Trump!" at the same time he disavows his own Nazi bent. One would like to think that a movie showcasing racist ideas would at least denounce them. Never does the film ask why white males object to becoming members of a minority. Could it be that they fear being treated the way they themselves have treated minorities in this country for hundreds of years?

The very fact that Lambroso trains his camera on these people without comment leaves us instead to consider the possibility that his subjects have something valid to say that deserves our attention. In this case, the director had a duty to, at least, call them out for being exclusionary, power-hungry, and self interested.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. Do you agree or disagree with the people featured in this documentary? Why?

  • Who is the intended audience of this documentary? How can you tell?

  • What role do you think social media plays in distributing messages of hate? Do you think rules should apply to what can and can't be disseminated on social media? Why or why not?

  • Why is racism a bad thing? Do we have an obligation to call it out and tell racists that their views aren't okay? Why or why not?

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