Viewing posts tagged 90s

You'll Go Blind

I just rewatched a Channel 4 documentary series I originally saw first time round back in 1999.  Pornography: The Secret History of Civilisation.  I remembered it as fascinating, and it certainly was... but not for the reasons I remembered.  Watched now, it's fascinating for its intense and suffocating provincialism.  I refer to a provincialism of time and cultural moment.  To be cruder: the series reeks of the stale atmopshere of the 90s.  I don't just mean that it's dated.

After two decent episodes dealing with the Victorian creation of the concept of pornography (i.e. as a closed-off anteroom of culture, only to be studied... and perhaps enjoyed... by responsible, educated males) in the wake of the unearthing of Pompeii, and the revolutionary porn writing of the Enlightenment, the series starts dwelling on 20th century visual forms, from the photograph to the internet.

The last episodes are particularly mired in the stagnant and repellent atmosphere of their era.  All the hallmarks of the late-90s intellectual milieu (during which I endured acres of trendy theory at University) are there.  The social and political cynicism masquerading as consumerist utopianism.  Utopianism ...

Enterprise & Initiative

Star Trek is liberal bourgeois to the bone.


Show me more of this Earth thing called "shopping" 

The Federation is supposedly post-capitalist, post-money, etc., yet it has many of the important hallmarks of advanced capitalist social organisation. A highly organised and stratified division of labour, a deep separation between workplace and home life, work shifts, career promotion, private nuclear families, a socially-separate education system providing training and qualifications, a professional liberal media, massive military expenditure (of resources if not money), hierarchical political and military arrangements combined with liberal ideology, a separate political class, etc. In one of the films, someone even mentions "opinion polls".  So, the Federation clearly has what looks like a capitalist state, capitalist superstructure and capitalist social arrangements.  What of the economy?  Well, they still have privately owned and run restaurants, for example, though supposedly people run them for the love of it… and in DS9, the Federation people mesh perfectly into the economy of Bajor, with its Ferengi businessmen, etc… to the point where you have Federation officers trading goods and paying credits for booze. When they want to make a ‘darker’, grungier version of their utopia, they take characters from the ...

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