About halfway through my conversation with filmmakers Patricia Marcoccia and Maziar Ghaderi, they got two pieces of bad news. First, they found out from their tour manager that a planned screening of their film, The Rise of Jordan Peterson, had just been canceled by a theatre in Toronto.
This was not entirely unexpected. Another venue in Toronto recently canceled a week-long run of the film, as did a theatre in Brooklyn, citing complaints by the staff.
“The people who run these venues are so worried about getting in trouble,” Ghaderi said. “An old professor of mine once told me that artists are supposed to be fearless, but when I’m reading these emails from these gatekeepers, I’m thinking, ‘Man, you people should go work for the government or something.’”
We kept talking, and then, a moment later, Ghaderi received a text message from a pastor outside of Portland. The pastor had agreed to screen the film at his church and had been getting complaints—and threats. He forwarded one of these messages to Ghaderi.
“Fair warning,” it read, “several community organizations are planning to shut down your showing of the Jordan Peterson propaganda film. While many of us aren’t Christian and some even flat-out condemn the religion, we do not want any harm to come to your place of worship or those within. However, we cannot allow fascism to continue to rise and will not tolerate its presence in our city, whether it is on the streets or on the waterfront or in a church. Read some history books, read about eugenics, read about sex and gender and then compare it to Peterson. Pray on it if you must. Do the right thing. As much as we joke about it, we really don’t want to have to bring out the guillotine to fix society.”
Is he dangerous? A lot of people think so. Over the weekend, the New York Times published an opinion piece by a parent worried about children being recruited online by racists. She wrote that she almost lost control of the car she was driving when she heard her son use the word “triggered,” which she calls a “calling card of the alt-right.” She names Peterson videos a sign of radicalization as well, writing that his “perspectives on feminism and gender are very popular among young men and often are a path to more extreme content and ideologies.”
This argument has been made frequently—and it’s addressed in the film—but many of the Peterson fans I’ve spoken to have told me the opposite: Peterson didn’t guide them to the alt-right; he guided them back from it. This discrepancy between what his followers see and what his critics say can make the outrage over him seemed like a kind of moral panic.
Read the whole thing. The lefties in Portlandia are threatening the guillotine, but the threat to society is Jordan Peterson, you see.
Here’s a review of the documentary in Quillette; the reviewer is Carol Horton. Excerpts:
The Rise of Jordan Peterson constructs a kaleidoscopic narrative that enables the viewer to look at the same sequence of events in several different ways. Engaging with the film fully demands a willingness to listen to a wide and often conflicting range of perspectives. Those who insist on placing Peterson in an airtight box, and seeing him solely as either a holy prophet or a demonic villain, will almost certainly neither like nor understand this film. After all, it’s designed to raise questions that, if acknowledged, would devastate such one-dimensional caricatures.
On the other hand, those open to considering the man, his work, and the controversies swirling around him in a new light should value and enjoy the film. It’s an exceptional accomplishment that this should be true regardless of whether they’re fans, critics, or simply curious to know what all the fuss has been about. Weaving a multiplicity of narratives together into a powerful, if complex storyline, The Rise of Jordan Peterson inspires the viewer to think, feel, question, and reflect.
Horton goes on:
It’s sickly ironic that a film of such outstanding originality is being shut out of independent and arthouse cinemas, the very cultural institutions that should be most committed to supporting such creative work. It’s also pathetic that “progressives” preoccupied with a fashionable politics of identity can’t bring themselves to care about the hypocrisy of seeking to sabotage a film made by a woman (Marcoccia) and person of color (Ghaderi). No doubt, they’d also prefer to ignore the fact that the original project was to document Peterson’s friendship with an indigenous artist who, among other accomplishments, created a 55-foot high totem pole honoring the survivors of Canada’s residential school system, which forcibly placed First Nations children in shockingly abusive church-run schools.
Here’s the trailer:
Here’s a link to the film’s website. If you want to sponsor a screening in your locale, go through the site.