Quite unlike most mainstream Hollywood liberal potheads, Altman was by no means a pussy, as he was a World War II veteran that flew on more than fifty bombing missions as a United States Army Air Forces crewman on a B-24 Liberator with the 307th Bomb Group in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies (notably, only 30% of crewmen survived thirty missions, yet Altman somehow managed to survive fifty). In short, unlike his whiny liberal (and largely kosher) colleagues, Altman actually earned the right to bitch about the military due to his own personal experience, but with his (anti)war flick Streamers he managed to achieve something that totally transcends petty party politics and superficial pot-addled pro-peace sentiments. While adapted by David Rabe from his 1976 play of the same title, Streamers was a somewhat personal film for Altman, or as he confessed in an interview with David Thompson featured in Altman on Altman (2006), “When I was in US Air Force as a pilot during World War II, I was eighteen years old. There was always the threat of being attacked by the Japanese, though I was never in that kind of situation. But I remember being in a barrack room and sleeping next to somebody I didn’t know, and that can be frightening because you’re not sure of yourself and you try to act the way a bunch of rough fellas do. Being an individual can lead to a lot of problems. The boys in STREAMERS are in a real pressure cooker. Everything is based on fear. It was more about that than Vietnam.” A cinematic work that makes the first act of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket seem like it was directed by Steven Spielberg due to its refreshingly pure and unadulterated essence and freshingly raw depiction on unfiltered emotional vulgarity and vulnerability, Altman's exceedingly emotionally erratic Vietnam War era exercise in military barracks bickering and brutality is questionably one of the greatest cinematic examples as to why the auteur was a singular master when it came to dealing with actors (notably, the entire cast won the Best Actor award at the 1982 Venice Film Festival). While Matthew Modine starred in a number of popular Vietnam War flicks, including Full Metal Jacket and Alan Parker's Birdy (1984), the actor undoubtedly gives his greatest and most memorable performance in Altman's rarely-seen film.
Indeed, as his incessant request for movie dates demonstrates, Richie has a crush on Billy, but the latter is in denial about this forbidden crush. As for Billy's sexual proclivities, he seems like a self-loathing closet-case, especially after he tells a long dubious story about he and a supposed pal named ‘Frankie’ used to scam queers out of money on a regular basis, only for said supposed friend to later become queer as a result of coming to the following absurd rationalization, “What does it matter who does it to you? Some guy or some old broad, you close your eyes, a mouth’s a mouth.” Naturally, as a cocksucker with a crush, Richie believes that Billy is really the ‘Frankie’ of the story and even goes so far as asking him. Needless to say, Billy, who is ashamed of the fact that he is a college-educated dork, does not take it too well when Richie accuses him of having a gay past. In fact, Billy becomes so enraged that he yells in Richie's face, “You are really sick, you know that? Your brain is really, truly rancid. You know there’s a theory now it’s genetic, that it’s all a matter of genes and shit like that? You, man. You and the rot that’s make out of your feeble fucking mind.”
Despite his fairly belligerent anti-white racism, Carlyle is somewhat willing to critique his own race and even insightfully blames the collective failure of negroes on hyper-emotionalism, stating, “That’s my problem. Maybe that’s the black man’s problem altogether. You ever consider that? Too much feeling. I mean, it’s like he too close to everything. You know, too close to his body, his blood. Man, it ain’t like he got no good mind or nothing. It’s just that he believes in his body.” At the same time, Carlyle's anti-fag and anti-white taunting gets so extreme that even meta-wuss Richie gets pissed and makes the racially-charged statement to Billy right in front of the nasty negro, “He’s one of them who hasn’t come far down out of the trees yet, Billy. Believe me.” As the film hints also in regard to the characters' masculinity (or lack thereof), Carlyle's beloved ‘blackness’ acts as a sort of artificial pseudo-identity that gives him a misguided sense of belonging, even though other negroes don't even seem to like him. Indeed, the initial reason Carlyle begins lurking around the barracks is because he learns a fellow black brother lives there, though he has a hard time actually remembering Roger's name. Somewhat ironically, it is ultimately gay boy Richie that Carlyle develops the closest bond with, thus underscoring the absurdity of his racial prejudices. Of course, as a man with a massive inferiority complex, Carlyle also seems especially excited by the prospect of sexually brutalizing a smart, cultivated, and handsome white boy, hence the sick trend of black-on-white prison rape. After all, people tend to try to defile and/or destroy those things that make them feel a sense of inferiority.
While Rooney and Cokes only seem to need each other and never once mention the carnal pleasures that they can acquire from members of the opposite sex, Carlyle coerces Roger and Billy into going to “a cathouse that is full of cats” for a little bit of “sex, drugs, danger, danger.” Somewhat ironically, gay boy Richie, who has little interest in the ‘fruit that made man wise,’ ends up paying for the three recruits to patronize the low-budget negress pussy-peddlers. Unfortunately, serious trouble arises when the boys get back and Richie demands that both Roger and Billy leave the barracks so that he can be sodomized by sexually insatiable spade Carlyle. Indeed, as Roger mockingly states, “Richie is one of those white boys that want to get fucked by a nigger.” Of course, the two refuse to allow gay interracial buggery to occur in their barracks and Billy even goes so far to describe Carlyle as a “fucking animal,” to which the hyper horny negro hysterically replies like a savage beast on the verge of murderous impulse, “I want my fucking nut. I want my nut, man! What the fuck you so uptight for, huh? He wants me. This boy here wants me. Richie wants me, man. Who the fuck are you to stop it?”
As can be predicted, Carlyle grabs the knife and immediately stabs Billy in the stomach after he calls him “sambo” in what almost seems like an instinctive reflexive response that really highlights the colored character's racial sensitivity. Of course, Carlyle does not stop there, as he also stabs Rooney in the stomach after the poor drunk bastard randomly stumbles into the barracks and threatens to stab him with a broken bottle upon noticing that he has fatally wounded Billy. When the MPs eventually show up after Richie goes for help, both Billy and Rooney are already both dead, though they eventually catch Carlyle, who is covered in the blood of his victims, wandering around the base like a chicken with its head cut off. Completely in denial that he has just brutally murdered two people and more or less ruined his entire life in a matter of minutes, true blue dindu Carlyle rather ridiculously, if not predictably, maintains his innocence and even demands to be immediately released, absurdly stating with a sort of quasi-crackhead ghetto elegance, “Look, I’ve had enough of this. Listen, all you guys are going to have to be going now, all right? Seriously. Now, if you just kindly remove these cuffs from my hands. Get me a bus ticket home. I’ve quit the Army. I’m not going to be quit. I have quit the army.”
Surely, it is doubtful that such a thematically subversive film could be made today, as it features somewhat unflattering depictions of both gays and negroes, as well as naughty words that might cause seizures in the easily triggered. Indeed, aside from depicting blacks as innately racially hysterical and just plain racist (of course, whites are also depicted as such, albeit in a different way), the main gay character is a manipulative masochist that uses a poor ghetto negro as a tool in a feeble attempt to make his ambiguously gay Caucasian crush jealous. Undoubtedly, if anything can be learned from the film, it is that interracial harmony is an absurd communist fantasy and gay men and straight men are from different universes and thus can never be true comrades. In an age where both poor negroes and flamboyant faggots are presented by Hollywood and American public schools as perennial victims and the height of moral superiority, Streamers indubitably makes for an insightful flick that exposes racial and sexual problems that are completely hidden in the mainstream. While Altman might have been a lifelong leftist pothead, but he was not afraid to be politically incorrect and speak his mind. After all, only a couple years later, Altman would direct his badly botched yet nonetheless sometimes entertaining (anti)teen comedy O.C. and Stiggs (1987), which is notable for poking fun at pretentious poofs, deranged Vietnam War veterans, rambling black bums, and even Mariticide, among other things.
Despite a lifetime of cultural Marxist propaganda, most people seem to realize on at least a subconscious instinctual level the Orwellian neo-commie slogan ‘diversity is our strength’ is a grotesque lie that is an insult to all of human history. After all, even Robert D. Putnam—a leftist WASP that is so pathetically deracinated that he actually converted to his wife's religion of Judaism—had to admit in his magnum opus Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000), which he postponed publishing for years because he was afraid to reveal his less than kosher findings, that so-called multicultural has led to the complete and utter destruction of civic, social, associational, and political life (aka ‘social capital’) in the United States, hence the overall lack of cohesion among the largely isolated white majority and destruction of virtually every American city due to black criminality and white flight. At the most fundamental level, the barracks in Streamers acts as a sort of symbolic microcosm of the socially necrotizing madhouse that is multicultural America, so naturally it is no surprise that the film concludes with completely senseless interracial murder because some poor helpless minority could not handle being called a couple big bad mean words (notably, the made-up phrase ‘white fragility’ is quite popular among contemporary leftists, which is rather funny since whites, quite unlike blacks and Jews, do not tend to commit violent crimes and/or suffer mental breakdowns as a result of experiencing name-calling or imagined racial insensitivity). Despite the commie lie that people are completely malleable and can be brainwashed and manipulated enough to the point where they magically shed their most intrinsic biological instincts, straight white males will always prefer straight white males, ghetto negroes will always prefer ghetto negroes, and effeminate homos will always prefer effeminate homos, or so one learns while watching Streamers.
More sophisticated and nuanced than similarly themed cinematic works like Jack Garfein’s The Strange One (1957), John Huston’s Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), and John Flynn’s The Sergeant (1968), Streamers is unquestionably flawed but is undoubtedly the sort of Grand Illusion of the rather preternatural self-loathing gay military subgenre. Not unlike his Sam Shepard vehicle Fool for Love (1985), the film is indubitably one of Altman's most underrated flicks and evidence that the auteur was at his most subversive when working with a small budget and away from the constraints of some big Hollywood studio. I certainly cannot think of another rampantly heterosexual American auteur that would have the gall to make an extremely awkward film about the dangers and dilemmas of ‘Dorian love,’ especially one like Altman that incessantly used fags as a source of comic relief in his films. Indeed, when the time finally arrives when some Jewish tranny or triracial feminist dyke academic gets the gall to attempt to discredit leftist cynic Altman by portraying him as some sort of sinister German-American homophobe with cryptic antisemitic tendencies (after all, he dared to wage war against the very kosher Hollywood studio system and even directed films featuring grotesque Yid gangsters), I would not be the least bit surprised if they attempted to present Streamers as the virtual Jud Süß of gay war movies.