Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 21, 2007

May 6th (06/05)

Filed under: Film,immigration — louisproyect @ 10:28 pm

More interesting as historical document than film, Theo Van Gogh’s “May 6th” (06/05) is now available on home video. The title is a reference to the 2002 date when rightwing Dutch parliamentarian Pim Fortuyns was assassinated by an animal rights activist who had claimed he was acting on behalf of Dutch immigrants. Van Gogh, a Fortuyns supporter, was himself assassinated by an Islamic radical on November 2, 2004. So death and extremist politics cast a pall over this entire project.

Theo Van Gogh

The DVD contains a 55 minute documentary titled “Have a Good Weekend, in Spite of Everything” that accuses the Dutch cops of failing to protect Van Gogh from Mohammed Bouyeri, who appears to have been a informer. Ironically, “May 6th” raises charges of complicity but based on fiction rather than fact. The screenplay, written by Tomas Ross, portrays the assassination as a conspiracy woven by American war manufacturers and their Dutch compatriots to eliminate Fortuyn, who was supposedly opposed to a deal to replace the aging F-16 fighter plane. One might say that the movie is “inspired” by the murder of Pim Fortuyns in the same way that the silly horror movie “Primeval” was “inspired” by a man-eating crocodile in Burundi several years ago. It gave the film-makers a convenient peg to hang a far-fetched yarn.

Curiously enough, Van Gogh was not that interested in disseminating propaganda in this film. In a video diary that is also contained on the DVD, he claims that he only sought to tell a story about the effect of Fortuyn’s killing on his characters. They include a professional photographer who happens on the scene of the execution when he taking cheesecake photos of a soap opera star and a young Turkish woman who was an informant like Mohammed Bouyeri. In exchange for early release from prison for her role in an animal rights killing, she agrees to snitch on the left. When she learns that the cops were involved in Fortuyns’s murder, she hooks up with the photographer who also suspects the cops. In becoming an amateur detective, he follows a long tradition in film going back to early Hitchcock. Although the story of an ordinary citizen stumbling across an evil conspiracy is as dated as a cowboy riding off into the sunset, one can certainly credit Van Gogh for presenting a creditable B-movie version of this cliché.

In some ways, Van Gogh comes across as a typical entertainment industry figure fixated on sex, drugs and his career. Throughout the video diary, he keeps gloating over the fact that Tiscali has fronted him 2 million euros to make “May 6th.”

According to a useful wiki article on Van Goth, he began a second career in the 1980s as a kind of “shock jock”, but used a newspaper column rather than the radio to get attention. After he questioned what he saw as the Jewish preoccupation with Auschwitz, Jewish leaders began to attack him. This kind of attention only made him more provocative. In a 1991 interview, he blamed the “smell of caramel” in the air on the fact that “today they’re only burning diabetic Jews.” When Jewish historian Evelien Gans took him to task, he wrote: “I suspect that Ms. Gans gets wet dreams about being fucked by Dr Mengele.”

In the late 1990s, he evidently got bored with the Jews and turned his attention to the Muslims who he kept referring to as geitenneukers (goat-fuckers). It should come as no surprise that he also said that if he’d been younger, he would have emigrated to the U.S.A., which he considered to be a beacon of light in a darkening world.

After Fortuyns was killed, Van Gogh found a new parliamentarian to pin his hopes on. That was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian refugee who launched a political career founded on bashing Islam, a sure-fire way to get ahead nowadays. She wrote the script for “Submission,” a short film directed by Theo van Gogh which criticized the treatment of women in Islamic society. There is footage of this film in the Van Gogh documentary on the DVD that shows a woman dressed in a semi-transparent burqa that reveals her breasts with text from the Qur’an projected on her skin like tattoos. The words supposedly refer to the subordinate role of women in Islam.

Theo Van Gogh is the great grandson of the art dealer Theo Van Gogh, who dedicated himself to promoting the work of his brother Vincent. I would say that the evidence of the latter-day Van Gogh’s film and journalism is just one more confirmation of the decline of Western Civilization.

Perhaps the most interesting political aspect of the films under consideration and Van Gogh’s broader career is how it represents a variant on American rightwing politics. The Netherlands in some ways is a nation dedicated to the ethos of a place like Berkeley, California. Freedom becomes associated with a mixture of libertarian and counter-cultural themes, including the right to get stoned and to fuck everything you can get your hands on. Van Gogh was notorious for his open cocaine use and for his “advanced” views about sexual relationships. Of course, his sexual attitudes were probably no more advanced than those found in Playboy Magazine, based on this September 8, 1995 NY Times review of an earlier flick:

There is much potential for playfulness and sly characterization, here, but “1-900” doesn’t capitalize on it. Watching the film is like eavesdropping on a couple’s uninventive, soft-core sex talk. Mr. van Gogh offers discreet but unmistakable images to accompany these blunt conversations, as Sarah and Thomas masturbate while on the phone. In the same way that the characters share sex without ever meeting, Mr. van Gogh attempts a visual equivalent by showing that sex without nudity. In a typical encounter, Thomas talks about his philosophy of community housing; Sarah pretends to listen while stroking her leg with a peacock feather.

The death of Fortuyns and then Van Gogh has helped to accelerate the rightward drift in Europe as “enlightened” countries with a social democratic tradition take up the cause of people such as these or Danish cartoonists to be “outrageous”. Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders advocated a five-year ban on non-Western immigration stating: “The Netherlands has been too tolerant to intolerant people for too long. We should not import a retarded political Islamic society to our country”. Meanwhile, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who had worked closely with Wilders, has been forced to look elsewhere to advance her political career after it was discovered that she lied on her immigration application to the Netherlands, including a false allegation that she was fleeing a force marriage.

She moved to the USA in September 2006 to take a job with the American Enterprise Institute, where standards of truth and falsehood are laxer.


  1. Instead of making professorial declarations about “the decline of Western Civilization” based on what he admits is an exploitative and cliché-ridden B-movie, why doesn’t the Unrepentant Marxist review Ian Buruma’s recent book “Murder in Amsterdam”? It attempts to give a serious analysis of current Dutch ethnic problems. Or is Buruma considered an untouchable whose pages might endanger ideological purity?

    Comment by Peter Byrne — January 22, 2007 @ 11:45 am

  2. Buruma is a disgusting pig. Not quite as bad as Theo Van Gogh, but very bad. Just do a search on “Buruma” and you’ll see what I have said in the past about him.

    Comment by Louis Proyect — January 22, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  3. Calling a writer “a disgusting pig” is not an argument. It’s what the bully in the bar tells his approving cronies. Is this a members only club?

    Comment by Peter Byrne — January 22, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

  4. I think this guy Theo was a right wing dickhead because he was so ugly and couldn’t get chicks. Didn’t he even own a comb?

    Comment by Tony — January 23, 2007 @ 10:50 am

  5. So the assassinated man is not only a “disgusting pig” but a “dickhead” and worthy of moronic psychologizing. Maybe the Prof is right and the West is going down the drain.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — January 23, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

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