Nebraska is a low-budget, black and white movie starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), as well as Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad). Nebraska was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where Dern won the Best Actor award. Since then, Nebraska has been nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Alexander Payne), Best Actor (Dern), Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb, who plays Dern’s wife), and Best Original Screenplay (Bob Nelson). Nebraska has also enjoyed generally positive reviews. Buoyed by its critical success, Nebraska is now showing around the country, but I urge you to skip it.
Nebraska is being sold as a heart-warming comedy/drama about rural, salt-of-the-earth white Americans in Montana and Nebraska. But it is exactly the kind of movie about such people that one would expect to find favor in Cannes and Hollywood: sneering, contemptuous, and vulgar—an insult to the very people who are being swindled into buying tickets.
But Nebraska is not just vicious, it is also inept. And it is not even spectacular in its ineptitude. It is just curiously flat, hollow, and dull. The acting, directing, and screenplay are utterly mediocre. I’ve seen better movies on Lifetime.
Why, then, has such a mediocre movie been nominated for so many honors? Simply because it plays to the prejudices of the critics: urban, liberal, Jewish or spiritually Judaized, and anti-American for all the wrong reasons. (The New Right is anti-American because America is anti-white. The Left are anti-American because they are anti-white.)
Dern plays Woody Grant, a senile old drunk who lives in Billings, Montana. Woody has received a letter informing him that he might have won $1 million. It is just a gimmick for selling magazines. But Woody believes he has won, and is determined to go to Lincoln, Nebraska, to collect his winnings. No longer allowed to drive, Woody sets off on foot, only to be brought home by the police.
Finally, Woody’s son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive his father to Lincoln, using it as an opportunity to spend time with his father, who turns out to be a thoroughly unlikeable, self-absorbed individual. On the way, they have many adventures. For instance, Woody gets drunk, loses his dentures, and falls and cuts his head.
Eventually, Woody and David stop by Woody’s home town of Hawthorne, Nebraska. They are then joined by Woody’s wife Kate (June Squibb) and their other son Ross (Bob Odenkirk) for a family reunion. Kate is portrayed as a hateful, sex-obsessed, foul-mouthed shrew. Woody’s family are portrayed as dullards, vacantly swilling beer, staring at the television, and mumbling in monosyllables.
When news of Woody’s winnings gets around, family and friends start remembering old debts and trying to share in his good fortune. Other trivial events ensue. Finally, Woody gets to Lincoln, where he is informed that he is not a millionaire after all. Then David, ever the enabler, humors his father yet again, and the movie ends on a note that is supposed to be heart-warming but is really just pathetic.
As drama, Nebraska is flat and uninvolving. The director, screenwriter, and actors are too concerned with holding the characters at arm’s length and sneering at them to actually inhabit them and turn them into interesting human beings. The comic elements of Nebraska are entirely at the expense of the characters, but the satire is not particularly cutting or clever. It is merely smug and self-congratulatory. This could be a really evil film, but the director and screenwriter simply lack the talent to bring something like that off.
I do not deny that there is truth in this movie’s satire of working-class and rural white Americans. There are lots of obese, alcoholic, petty, greedy, vulgar, heartless, and tasteless white people in America. And I am every bit the urban SWPL as the director Payne and screenwriter Nelson. If anything, I am a far better educated and a far bigger snob. I look down on people like this too. But in the end, they are still my people, and I do not wish to see them mocked in their degraded state, particularly by denizens and profiteers of the junk culture industry that is one of the major causes of their corruption. I want to see them raised up, not put down. I want them to have better jobs, better food, better culture, and better lives. I want to destroy the system that degrades them, the system that produces crap like Nebraska. The creators of this movie, however, view its subjects across an abyss of alienation so vast that empathy cannot span it.
The saddest thing about this gulf, though, is that it is entirely artificial. Director Payne and screenwriter Nelson as well as the rest of the cast (aside from a couple of Mexican bit players) are all white Americans. As are most of the smug, superior urbanites who get such a good chuckle and a warm feeling of superiority from this film. The gulf, in short, is not between Jew and gentile, but between white and white: between town and country, rich and poor, big people and little people, progressive, “educated” people and “those people.” It is an ancient wound in the flesh of our people, where Jews and maggots now feast. It is a wound that must be healed by an overarching sense of white kinship and solidarity if our race is to be saved.
The flaws of Nebraska can best be appreciated by contrasting it with a similar movie, David Lynch’s The Straight Story , which is based on the true story of Alvin Straight, an elderly Midwesterner who, no longer able to drive a car, decided to ride his lawnmower across three states to visit his long-estranged brother who’d had a stroke. Lynch, who grew up in Missoula, Montana, tells Straight’s story with affection and empathy because, ultimately, both director and subject belong to the same people, and Lynch knows and feels it. Thus we are led to admire Alvin for his strength and resourcefulness, as well as his wisdom and kindness. The Straight Story is a portrait of a man who deals with the debilities of age with dignity.
Nebraska is, in effect, a remake of The Straight Story by a mediocre director and screenwriter who feel nothing but contempt for white Americans. I suggest that you return the favor.