Pelley Is Prologue

William Pelley posing with dork-ass nazis of the Silver Legion (aka “Silver Shirts”) in Redmond, WA circa 1936.

Lately I keep thinking that it's a little surprising nobody has seized on the opportunity to make a recent flick about William Dudley Pelley. Maybe it's a little too on-the-nose? Might be a challenge to avoid having it scan as didactic / corny, and of course there's always the difficulty of avoiding the induction of dumbass anti-hero sympathy toward him in (maybe especially US) audiences, but the dude really has it all: – an anti-communist politic which is inseparable from antisemitism, – narcissistic, moderately-successful author & hollywood screenwriter who goes far-right, – heaps of proto-new-age woo bullshit, – a large-scale street fascist paramilitary organization (which finds particular traction in the Pacific Northwest), – high profile seditious conspiracy trial & conviction, – etc. (etc. etc. etc.)

Anyway, interesting prologue & historical context for a lot of things happening at the moment – and a pretty salient object lesson in the type of ostentatious (nonetheless very dangerous) clown that tends to spearhead any given fascist movement with demagoguery.

Knute Berger did a good little PBS bit on him not so long ago, worth checking out.

Bill Hader is good at wrecking the anti-hero tropes, so...