‘This Must Be The Place, a film by Paolo Sorrentino, shows how the shock of the holocaust infantilized Western culture and its citizens. As jihadis presents us with images that make the holocaust photos look tame, the West must again contend man’s dark side. Watching this film and ISIS videos can help the West grow up.
Sean Penn does a superb acting job as an aged 1980s rock star, Cheyenne, who has never changed his 80s look, even though he hasn’t performed for 20 years. Coming too late to his estranged father’s deathbed, Cheyenne takes up his newly departed father’s hunt for his Auschwitz tormenter. The gorgeous and poetic chase leads him through a beautifully, nostalgically, portrayed American landscapes and homes.
Cheyenne has not spoken to his father in 30 years. And at one point, he says, “not having had children has really screwed me up.” The NAZI he is hunting is also estranged from his son. And, a boy Cheyenne bonds with during his NAZI quest, appears to have lost his father in one of America’s Middle East wars. The absence of fathers is – to put it lightly – a theme.
And, now my editorial begins . . . It has always amazed me that the 1960s generation followed on the heels of the WW II generation. One generation stared down evil. The next tried to convince us that bad guys were only an illusion to be overcome by love. The hippies’ dream has led to our multicultural nightmare, wherein all cultures, no matter how NAZI-like, are considered idyllic and to be embraced with love and kindness.
Cheyenne didn’t speak to his father for 30 years because his father rejected his goth make-up. Though not in the film, I have tried to imagine this holocaust survivor staring at his 1980s son playing at evil. It would have stirred emotions and been hard to take seriously. As in punk, the fifteen-year-old goth would be trying to acknowledge the evil their hippie parents ignored. But punk and goth lyrics aimed at imagined suburban kid horrors.
My analysis gets vindicated when Cheyenne meets a tough-looking, heavily-tattooed man in a bar, who is really just a nice guy. Cheyenne asks drolly, when informed that his new acquaintance is a tattoo artist, “Have you noticed how nobody works anymore and everybody does something artistic?” Yes. I have noticed both grown children playing tough guys littering western cities and the avoidance of responsibility.
Both Cheyenne’s father and the caught NAZI, lament having their “lightheartedness” and childhoods stolen from them by WW II. Now in a Freudian transfer, our multicultural generation just wants happy depictions of all cultures. In our post-holocaust world only being a victim has merit. In such a world, being dominant and macho can only be a crime. It is a formula for emasculation. An absence of manliness.
After confronting his father’s NAZI guard Cheyenne grows up. Today, a new generation is seeing evil first-hand in jihadis’ tiny youtube videos. Perhaps the jihadis’ cruelty will end the West’s childlike multicultural fantasy.