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The World According To The Coen Brothers

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The World According To The Coen Brothers

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Appeared in Bulgarian at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront

Very often, cinematography reflects the spirit of the times much more accurately than all socio-political analysis and published material. In 2015, another film of Coen brothers, ‘Hail Caesar’, came to the American screens; a slightly absurd comedy about Hollywood of the 50s of the last century, typical for these directors. On the screen is America in 1950, where the joy of the economic upswing after recently winning World War II borders the dark paranoia of McCarthy, with cartoon margins of leftist professors and writers who worship the invented by them, but not existing in reality, image of the USSR, and the money, both all-powerful and powerless. This film became the symbolic epitaph of the events of 2016, which can be called “the year of the great turning point in global politics.” Donald Trump, wishing to bring back Great America, is in fact, the United States from the era of President Dwight Eisenhower. This is America, which is so powerful that it is able to protect its way of life and that of its allies, but it is also smart and does not impose its rules in the backyard of its neighbors and does not try to teach them how to liveThis is a society which labors to achieve its own welfare, but is not yet infected by the bacillus of politic-correctness and hypocritical glorification of minorities. Trump wants to live in such America

Trump wants to live in this America and, judging by the outcome of the election, so does a significant part of the American society. To what degree did that America actually exist and is recoverable in the second decade of the XXI century? One would rather not find answers to these two questions. It is not about political programs and strategies but the mood of voters, and not just voters in the United States. The political forces that are customarily called “populists” (those that the ruling class does not like, but to their surprise increasingly dominate elections) feel the change in social relations and use it against the establishment.


The Coen brothers made a parody of the “witch hunt” as if anticipating (the film was released in February) the amazing wave of peculiar aggrandizement of Russia and Putin that swept America and Europe in the second half of the year. The faith in the Russian president’s omnipotence went to a qualitatively new level. He not only stunned the world with his geopolitical games and strategic combinations, but it turned out that he is also able to rule the fate of democracy in the leading countries in the world. This is not even the Com-intern with its network of agents, which was seen everywhere by Senator McCarthy, but something much worse. It is the invisible and faceless intervention of hackers, not the Rosenberg spouses or the opposing Marxist intellectuals.

The tension did not drop with the completion of the election campaign in America. Judging by everything, the battle against Trump is just beginning. Accusations that the new president entered the White House thanks to Putin will be a major trump card that his enemies will use to trigger impeachment, or will serve as a basis for blocking the activity of the new president. In parallel, the same process started in Germany, where an election is due in the fall of 2017. The total “infiltration of Putin’s propaganda designed to deceive the honest Germans” is defined by Bild as self-evident. The tabloid explains in detail how Russian special services, through agents among the refugees, are planning to organize acts of sexual violence against German women to prevent the victory of Merkel’s election. Just to remind you that New Year’s Eve of 2016 in Cologne began with multiple attempts of sexual abuse by refugees. Now it becomes clear who has organized it…

This reminds of Coen brothers’ movie ‘Burn after reading’, in which the overlapping of paranoia of certain people with the paranoia of others becomes a real absurdity where even sworn conspirators who invented all this could no longer understand anything. Globalization and the universality of the political processes are not an empty sound. Everything that happens in one part of the world is carried out to the rest of the world. And now, the European Parliament will fight foreign agents and foreign influence, although when Russia wanted to assign such functions to the State Duma, the West was appalled by the “authoritarian obscurantism.”


2016 drew the line under the era, which occurred after the Cold War and which, according to the perceptions of all, brought a new world order. Looking back, however, we can say that the New World Order was not proposed. An attempt was made by an “American world order” to mask the Western institutions that served the Cold War and the bipolar confrontation. Nothing came out of it. The qualitatively new global circumstances require new forms of approaches. Now, it is realized, but the truth is that it is not clear what specifically will replace the old order. So far, it seems that this is a growing wave of sovereignty and a rejection of global universalism, triumphant from the late 80s. This naturally does not mean that someone has cancelled the ties of universal interconnectedness and interdependence. The forces displacing the establishment, at best, are able to diagnose the disease, but not to formulate methods for its treatment. Apart from that, the world’s politics is becoming more democratic, globally and nationally. The willingness of the Turkish military to place the country on “the right track,” which they repeatedly and without major problems did in the twentieth century, was decisively rejected by the society this timeincluding by those who did not accept the course of President Erdogan. Mechanisms for expression of the will of the people, regardless of the criticism, have become a ubiquitous norm and it is no longer possible to ignore them. Not surprisingly, after the sensational result of the referendum in the UK, there were voices saying that it is pointless to trust the people when addressing such crucial issues.

It turned out, however, that the US political elite fell into another trap. If voting was direct and national, Hillary Clinton would have become a president. But the electoral system that has not been changed since the XVIII century, has always served as a testament to the strength and stability of American democracy. In general, one of the conclusions of the presidential campaign in the US, with its extremely low level of controversy and vacuity, coupled with the paradox of final selection by a select group of representatives of the US, makes it unacceptable as a model for any other country.

In previous years, the increase in geopolitical conflicts in the world was mainly noted; the rise of some countries and the decline of others … In 2016, the focus proved to be on domestic issues, the socio-economic development of countries and the psychological state of their citizens. It turned out that citizens do not understand and do not want to understand the motives of our globalized elites. And by detaching from the roots, the elites simply lose their source of legitimacySo they will have to again return to the roots. A vivid metaphor of the crisis in America and the world as a whole is another film of Coen brothers’ from 2007, the movie ‘No Country for Old Men’. At the end of the presidency of George Bush, when 80% of Americans felt that the country was not on the right track, the directors showed that the problem is not Bush, as many had hoped, but the defects of the society that came long before Bush (the film is set in Texas in 1980) and cannot disappear after him. Violence, unmotivated and totally impassive, yet somehow inspiring, embodied by the main character, Javier Bardem, destroys the social fabric, exposing the most disgusting human events. And people from the “old school” are left with nothing but lifting up shocked, perplexed hands. The absurdity of international politics after the Cold War, which deliberately erased the boundary between war and humanity, came into resonance with destructive social processes in different countries. This created a world where there was no place not only for “old dogs” but for people, too. However, people did not think of giving up, which is reflected in the election resultsThey want changes. After Bush, Barack Obama was seen as a carrier of hope, of something qualitatively new. Today, everyone is disappointed with the results of his presidency. The first black president understood perfectly well that everything has changed and America cannot behave like before. But he could never figure out what needed to be done. Eddie Meniks, the protagonist in the movie ‘Hail Caesar’, does not think about high ideals. He is not interested in the structure of the world. But he is confident of one thing – if one works hard and he is honest in whatever he does, the world will become better and more real. Against the background of the fairy fantasy, this position looks dull, but it is only right. It seems that in world politics comes a time when politicians will be looking for exactly this and not some chimeras and ambitions. In the coming years, it will be homework assignments to everyone without exception. The illusions about the new world that emerged 25 years ago have dissipated. The old world can no longer come back. Therefore, in the building of the future world it will be necessary for everyone to start with himself.

Author: Fyodor Lukyanov 

Source in Russian: „Огонёк”

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Steve Josephson

Very Interesting ideas! As a fan of the Coen brothers, I’d expect their name to be spelled correctly, however. Proofreading for grammar also, which is a problem in most online writing.


How do they spell their name?

Arthur Smith

With four letters, actually =D No idea, where translator got fifth.


did you miss the part where it was stated this was a translation? hop down of your grammatical high horse.

Steve Josephson

I will not. Journalism should be held to a higher standard than currently exists. Thanks to the administrator for correcting the spelling of their name.

Douglas Houck

It’s hop down “off” not “of” your grammatical high horse. :-)


lol, that would be typographical, not grammatical. get it straight jaggoff.

Douglas Houck

Do you see any mention on my part that of vs off is grammatical? Learn to spell Oathkeeper. Is that more direct?


that you don’t know the difference between grammatical vs typographical is all i need to know about you. have a great day strawman.

Real Anti-Racist Action

The Cohen brothers most lifelike and greatest film of all time is Miller’s Crossing. (I highly recommend to everyone here to watch it through) They actually cover many of the things that are currently so wrong in America and the world today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkJIcFMN_pc

Carol Davidek-Waller

Obama knew ‘what had to be done’. He campaigned on it. He was a weaking who surrounded himself with Bush’s old guard and did as he was told. The concept of leadersnip was rare to absent.

Douglas Houck

“The illusions about the new world that emerged 25 years ago have dissipated. The old world can no longer come back. Therefore, in the building of the future world it will be necessary for everyone to start with himself.”

Couldn’t agree more. Not spending time on the Coen brothers movies, but the US and it’s western allies need to ask themselves what is the purpose of the US and the west in the world and where do we go from here.

The last 25 years have been spent trying to secure themselves as the world’s hegemony and ensure their values were supreme. While they got close, it failed. It’s a waste of time and effort to try and go further down that road, (not to say that many will still try).

First, the US has to abandon trying to impose their “values” on everyone else. This is going to be very difficult as the integration of values into it’s political process has been going on since the Civil War. As morally appealing as it is, the US has shown it simply can’t be done in a positive manner over the long term.

If a country is morally outraged by others actions they need to gain approval from the UN first. It was the use of unilateral actions and going directly against the votes of the UNSC which resulted in the US losing it’s way.

Further, Globalization (and Automation), as economically efficient as it is, simply does not have an answer of what to do with the workers. Until and unless it can provide an answer, the will of the people will reject it.

Let the discussion begin.

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