Alongside Machete

Okay, Machete isn’t Hitchcock or anything; but it’s a fun movie. It also has some interesting libertarian aspects:


  • It’s explicitly in favour of open borders.
  • It’s implicitly in favour of the right to bear arms.
  • It dramatises countereconomic resistance to government (“the Network”).
  • It also dramatises the “Baptists and bootleggers” dynamic, as well as the role of government in helping to cartelise the very industries it claims to be trying to protect people from.
  • It explicitly endorses the Socratic-Stoic-Ciceronian-Augustinian-Thomistic-Spoonerite principle that an unjust law is not a law.
  • By contrast with Cory Doctorow’s (otherwise excellent) Little Brother, whose ending disappointed me, Machete does not end with a reformist exhortation to work within the system; on the contrary, it ends with two of the main characters renouncing forms of state authorisation that they have been given. (I’m being deliberately vague to avoid spoilers.)

Now we just need to convert Robert Rodriguez to agorism and we’ll be all set.

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13 Responses to Alongside Machete

  1. Brandon September 25, 2010 at 12:07 am #

    It’s really interesting to me that you would pick Hitchcock as a contrast to one of these ‘grindhouse’ exploitation pictures. Did you mean that this movie isn’t great in the sense that Vertigo or Notorious is great? or that Hitchcock would never lower himself to mass audience appeal? If the latter, I’d say Psycho and Frenzy are both grindhouse pictures. And North by Northwest, while not a grindhouse picture, is certainly designed for mass audience appeal.

    If I was going to contrast one of these pictures, I’d use Godard. His movies are inaccessible, sometimes incomprehensible, experimental for its own sake, and mostly beloved by elitist critics. His movies are designed to appeal to his own sensibilities and tastes, to the exclusion of every other consideration. That said, I’d rather watch one of Godard’s lesser movies, Pierrot le Fou for example, than anything by Rodriguez. At least that movie, being designed for Godard himself to enjoy, has some interest as a puzzle to be figured out.

    • Jesse Walker September 27, 2010 at 8:38 am #

      I took “isn’t Hitchcock…but it’s a fun movie” to be the cinematic equivalent of saying a book “isn’t immortal literature, but I enjoyed it.”

      • Brandon September 27, 2010 at 9:53 am #

        Ah, Hitchcock was so good at marketing himself. People immediately think of him when they think of great movies.

        • Roderick September 30, 2010 at 9:42 am #

          I just meant it didn’t have much subtlety or nuance.

  2. T Barrett September 25, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    Agora! Anarchy! Action-packed!

    I love it. I hadn’t intended on seeing this flick, but I may just go catch it today since I’ve no other plans.

    • b-psycho September 25, 2010 at 9:49 am #

      Sadly, I can’t seem to find any place around here (central Missouri) still playing it…

      I assume it’ll be a least another month before it comes out on DVD.

  3. T Barrett September 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    Closest theater to me that still has it is 30 miles away. I might wait for it on DVD as well considering ticket prices.

  4. Bob Kaercher September 27, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    I’m going to try to catch this here in Chicago some time in the coming week. I’ve previously found Rodriguez’s work to be a mixed bag at best, but I’ve seen enough interesting press on this film to intrigue me.

  5. Indiscipline September 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    This movie would be awesome if it weren’t so sexist.

    I guess it’s still pretty cool though.

    • Roderick September 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

      This movie would be awesome if it weren’t so sexist.

      That’s certainly the movie’s chief flaw — particularly the stuff with Booth’s family.

  6. Anon73 September 28, 2010 at 12:53 am #

    Movies by Rob Rodriguez and his friend QT are certainly enjoyable, but I have to question the efficacy of praising libertarian tendencies in “bloodbath”-style movies, despite the ending of this one. In “Pulp Fiction” for instance all the main male characters except QT himself were thieves, killers, or rapists.

    • Roderick September 30, 2010 at 9:49 am #

      Well, I wasn’t trying to be “efficacious,” whatever that would mean here. And I wasn’t suggesting it was an ideal vehicle for spreading the libertarian message. (For one thing, although the main characters clearly think immigration laws are unjust, they never say why.) All I said was that it “has some interesting libertarian aspects.”

      Re QT, whose work I generally like a lot more than Rodriguez’s (and who is certainly less sexist): of those main male characters, one (SJ) renounces the hitman lifestyle at the end, while another (BW) only has accidental or justified killings.

  7. Brandon October 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Rodriguez’s next movie will be “Lawrence of Arabia 3: Lawrence vs. The Terrorists”. Now, the background will have to be dumbed down for Americans, so T.E. Lawrence will be a college student who’s a brilliant computer hacker and mighty warrior who can singlehandedly take on armies of America’s intractable enemies.

    Keanu Reeves will portray Lawrence, while Hugo Weaving will be cast as Osama bin Laden.

    The flick will cost $250 million and feature many gratuitous CGI battle scenes. The ending will set up another sequel, “Lawrence 4: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning”.

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