Viewing posts tagged consumerism

12

There's so much I love about 'Planet of the Ood'.  Picking a moment will be hard.

I love some of the things other people hate.

Unlike Lawrence Miles, I love that Donna ticks the Doctor off for his "Who do you think made your clothes?" crack.  Why the hell should Donna put up with smuggery like that from a guy wearing Converse trainers?  Who makes your clothes, Doctor?  (Apart from anything else, one answer is probably 'women'.)  Okay, he apologises for making her feel uncomfortable, which is problematic... but it isn't as if the episode lets the matter rest there.

Unlike many people, I love that the Ood thank DoctorDonna for, essentially, doing nothing.  I love that they free themselves without any help from the Doctor.  I like him better as an ally than as a messiah.  The Ood don't suffer the fate of the N'avi: they don't get Whitey leading them to freedom.  The DoctorDonna doesn't interfere.  DoctorDonna renounces any claim they might think they have to judge the oppressed, to moralise when the oppressed free themselves by any means necessary.

I love ...

13

"All the resting ones I have used were people of status, ambition," says Davros.

The quintessential 80s heroes.  They had themselves brought to his business, Tranquil Repose, when they wanted to pay to cheat the ultimate human frailty.  Death was a weakness they felt they had a right to buy off.  They paid to rest until they could be awoken and cured.  They would then resume their positions of power.  Money would conquer death.  Just as Timon and Marx knew, as the ultra-commodity in a system of total commodification, money has a fantastic and phantasmic power.  It can dissolve even the most drastic boundaries and oppositions.  It can even make the dead into the living.

Davros' clients had the same dream as all ruling classes.  Their ancient forebears had themselves buried in their finery, surrounded by their treasure, expecting to take it with them.  If they couldn't take it with them, they weren't going.  That was the logic behind the pyramids...  and those monuments to dead pharoahs helped bolster the power of the living ones.  They were a unified statement of divine and material power ...

17

Ms. Kizlet is using the wi-fi signal to control people in the coffee shop.

 “I do love showing off,” she says through a waitress she has made her puppet. “Just let me show you what control of the wi-fi can do for you,” she adds through the mouth of a young girl.

It’s a tech demo. Here’s what this latest version of the operating system can do. Upgrade now. The iconography is all ruthlessly current. Particularly fitting: Kizlet and her crew are playing around on iPads as they do their little Steve Jobs routine. You almost expect her to reveal that they’ve captured Clara with an “oh, and one more thing.”

Kizlet explains that they’ve “released thousands” of base stations into the world, blanketing the whole of humanity in their Worldwide Web of Fear.

Meanwhile, Clara’s on her laptop. She recognizes the vulnerability in every grand system: people. With just a bit of clicking around she’s figured out where Kizlet is transmitting from. The most obvious spot in London, really. Kizlet's client loves using grand projects for his own purposes. It’s what he did in the Underground, and it’s what ...

20

For March Against the Mainstream Media Day


The Editor (apparently he edits the whole of human society) has uncovered Suki's true identity.  Instead of being just another inoffensive wannabe employee, she's actually...

"Eva Saint Julienne, last surviving member of the Freedom Fifteen. Hmm, self declared anarchist, is that right?"  His tone is patronising.  Non-mainstream political principles are a quaint and amusing affectation.

"The Freedom Foundation has been monitoring Satellite Five's transmissions," says Suki, pulling a gun on the smug bastard, "We have absolute proof that the facts are being manipulated. You are lying to the people."

"Ooo, I love it," he giggles, still in the same tone of amusement, as though he's listening to hilariously naff dialogue in a period drama, "Say it again."

"This whole system is corrupt. Who do you represent?"

The Editor is self-aware enough to know that, for all his power, he's a slave himself.

"I answer to the Editor in Chief.... If you don't mind, I'm going to have to refer this upwards."

Suki looks up, to see what the Editor is referring to.

"What is that?" she asks.

"Your boss. This has always been ...

21

Earl plays a C on his harmonica.  It starts a sympathetic resonance in the pipes that stretch under and through the regime on Terra Alpha, like the arteries in a body.  What flows in these arteries is sugarly gloop, the outpourings of the Kandy Kitchen.  It fills the regime with the glucose it needs to survive.  And the regime uses it to kill dissidents or refuseniks or men wearing pink triangles, drowning them in sweetness.  Earl's note causes the encrusted, crystallised, fossilised sugar coating the insides of the pipes to crack and fall.  Tonnes of the stuff falls on top of Fifi, Helen A's savage attack dog and beloved pet.  She sent it into the pipes to kill the Doctor and the Pipe People, the surviving aboriginals on her colony.

"Happiness will prevail," says the artificially fruity voice on the colony tannoy system, "Factory guards are joining forces with the drones to destroy the Nevani sugar beet plant here in sector six. We will keep broadcasting."

This is a revolution.  The killjoys are marching and demonstrating, and having their own melancholy parties in subversion of the rules.  The factories ...

Maximum Utility

The literature of terror is born precisely out of the terror of a split society and out of the desire to heal it. 
- Franco Moretti


People often compare the Borg, the cyborg gestalt from the Star Trek franchise, to Doctor Who's Cybermen.  Both races were conceived as humanoids physically augmented with technology, hence a certain superficial visual resemblance, particularly between the Borg and the earliest Cybermen, from 1966's 'The Tenth Planet'... which has just been released on DVD, if you want some way for this post to be halfway relevant to anything.

Borg
Cyberman
But the Cybermen were written by various different writers, under different conditions, with different levels of interest and different levels of knowledge of past depictions, over the course of nearly five decades.  The Borg, by contrast, were written by a small number of tightly associated people, under the aegis of a carefully controlled franchise, over the course of just under 15 years.  The two 'races' differ markedly in the circumstances of their production and in cultural profile.  As noted, the Borg's various appearances weren't separated by the same kinds of time-lags, and weren't a product of ...

Private Ownership of the Means of Inhumation

or 

Sex, Death and Rock 'n' Roll - Part 2

(Part 1 can be found here.)


Some disjointed observations about 'Revelation of the Daleks'; fragments of a larger and uncompleted essay that's been in the draft drawer for ages... just so that I can say I've served up more this month than an off-the-cuff whinge about how much I hated P.E. lessons.


Hang the D.J.

He skulks in his private studio. He almost prefigures RTD’s quasi-fan characters. He’s a geek, a dweeby enthusiast. He sits alone, watches TV, greets a visitor very shyly and comes alive when given a chance to enthuse about his pet obsession: the old style D.J.s and music of America. When he learns that Peri is really American, he reacts like… well, like a Who fan meeting Nicola Bryant. You get the feeling that he might ask for her autograph. He’s almost a parody of the nerdacious loner. He has little or no direct contact with any of the other characters. Apart from Peri, he’s only ever seen with Jobel – and they don’t speak to each other. One gets the sense of someone asocial and ...

The Logic of the Work

"Interested parties explain the culture industry in technological terms. It is alleged that because millions participate in it, certain reproduction processes are necessary that inevitably require identical needs in innumerable places to be satisfied with identical goods. The technical contrast between the few production centers and the large number of widely dispersed consumption points is said to demand organisation and planning by management. Furthermore, it is claimed that standards were based in the first place on consumers’ needs, and for that reason were accepted with so little resistance. The result is the circle of manipulation and retroactive need in which the unity of the system grows ever stronger. No mention is made of the fact that the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest. A technological rationale is the rationale of domination itself. It is the coercive nature of society alienated from itself. Automobiles, bombs, and movies keep the whole thing together until their leveling element shows its strength in the very wrong which it furthered. It has made the technology of the culture industry no more than the achievement of standardisation and mass production, sacrificing whatever ...

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