Viewing posts tagged culture industry

Secret Reality

Spoilers



The last episode of The Blacklist was hilarious.  Red describes an international cabal - comprised of people in government and the private sector - who run the world behind the scenes, start wars, control the media, kill to protect their power, etc.  It’s supposed to be so edgy.  Dark, terrifying conspiracy.  He has to get loads of investigate journos to attend his briefing in secret.  They’re all stunned by what he says.  But… he’s just describing the ruling class!  Seriously, the ‘Cabal’ is just the capitalist military-industrial-media-government complex.  But we’re supposed to be shocked by the existence of this group.  Once informed about it, the Washington Post runs a front page story telling everyone of the breaking news.  SHOCK NEW REVELATION: SMALL NUMBER OF POWERFUL PEOPLE ARE POWERFUL AND GET UP TO STUFF FURTHERING THEIR OWN POWER WITHOUT TELLING US!  The evil director of the CIA looks at the paper in horror, like he’s thinking “oh no, now everyone knows!”  It’s like structuring the big, dramatic denouement of a drama series around the astonishing revelation that water is wet, and having all your characters suddenly back away in terror ...

Powerlessness Corrupts

More curated tumblr jottings, which some people seemed to like.  Rewritten and expanded.


There is, in fandom, an impulse to denounce which is very congruent with a similar impulse that exists in some iterations of right-on politics.  It comes from a similar place: helplessness.  We’re always told that power corrupts, and it certainly does.  But powerlessness corrupts too.  People in fandom get accustomed to worshipping that which is handed down to them.  They can then discover the opposite but equal pleasure of execrating that which is handed down to them.  What both have in common is the idea of passively accepting what you’re given.  And yes, hating on something is a form of passivity quite distinct from the activity of criticism.  Passive acceptance of texts is, contrary to myth (a myth largely put around by fans, amazingly enough) far more common within fandom/s than in the general television viewing public. 

Jane Q Citizen puts Doctor Who (or whatever) on her telly, doesn’t like it, and so switches over to hunt for something she does like… or she likes it (having no long-cherished internal needs that she ...

Pyramids of London ('Deep Breath' 1)

I've realised who Strax reminds me of: the policeman from 'Allo 'Allo.  But not as good.  That's a cheap shot, but I do have a serious point to make.

Strax, you see, is essentially a funny foreigner.  You know, with his allegedly hilarious misunderstandings and all that stuff.  Moffat evidently imagines that Strax's misunderstandings are a rich and continuing source of humour, since he stops the plot of 'Deep Breath' for a few minutes so that he can (once again) run through all the same Strax jokes he's already done several hundred times in other episodes.  (This, by the way, is another way in which Strax resembles a character from 'Allo 'Allo - he is the same joke, repeated endlessly, over and over again, with the laugh demanded - upon recitation of a well-known catchphrase - from an audience supposedly trained via pavlovian technique.  If you object to my singling out 'Allo 'Allo here then, really, I agree with you.  How about we use Little Britain as our example instead?)

Of course, the funny foreigner - with all the imperial contempt and jingoistic chauvinism that is built in to it - is a very ...

Koba the Ape

Post-Spoilerocalyptic.


I went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  Banalities first:  A well-crafted film.  Cogent and coherent in terms of aesthetics and plot (though there is a pleasingly bathetic moment when, following lots of atmospheric shots of apes engaged in social interaction, one ape suddenly addresses another in sign language as "Maurice").  Nicely acted by the principles. 

Now.

In The Dark Ape Rises, the 'good' ape leader is Caesar and the 'bad' ape leader is Koba.

Caesar is the reasonable one, the compromiser, who wants peace with the humans.  Koba is the nasty one who can't let go of his resentment of humans, who doesn't trust them, who betrays Caesar and launches an all-out war against the humans.

Thing is, Koba is fucking awesome.  Because, unlike Caesar, he understands that when you have the oppressor on the floor, you don't help him up and dust him down.  No.  You stand on his neck.

Here's Koba, riding straight at the enemy (who are armed with rocket launchers by this point) while simultaneously holding (and firing) two machine guns instead of the reins of his horse ...

Piece of Cake

Someone nice on tumblr just asked me:

Do you think that it's fair to criticize a work of art for the failings of the culture around it? This is a question I've been mulling over the past few days and I'm sure you have an interesting response.

My answer got a bit long, so I decided - opportunistically - to post it here.


*

I think the terms of the question are worth investigating.

What do we mean by 'failings'?

What do we mean by 'culture around it'?

Failure is, of course, subjectively judged.  Something I think is bad may be seen as good - or neutral, or normal, or inescapable - by others.

It is perfectly possible for something that is a 'failure' with regards to general human wellbeing to be a 'success' for a social system.  (The wellbeing of the working class, in any class society, always being more universal than that of the minority loafing class.)

Indeed, I think that if you look at the vast majority of mainstream media culture as it has existed in modern capitalist society - including and perhaps even especially with reference to narrative culture - then you see that it pretty unambiguously touts ...

2

"Go on, tell them," says Jacko to Sean. 

"Tell them what? I'll tell them nothing. They're not people like us, they're just a bunch of sardines."

The fish people in the water below do not like this.

"You heard me," jeers Sean, "Cold-blooded fishes. You haven't got a drop of good red blood in your body."

They don't like that either.  They've been surgically altered by the regime of Professor Zaroff, an old Nazi scientist who was employed by the Western powers before he disappeared (it's implicit) and who is now running the underwater city of Atlantis (the Nazis were obsessed with Atlantis).  He has forcibly turned an army of his workers into fish, complete with gills and fins and big round eyes, so that they can do the underwater jobs.  (They just don't make mad scientists like Zaroff any more.)

"A flatfish from Galway would have more guts in them than that bunch!" Sean continues.  Oh yeah, I forgot to say... Sean's Irish, hence his "gift of the gab" (sigh).

The fish people start throwing things at him.

"All right, all right, all right," laughs ...

10

"We waited here in the dark space," booms the Dalek Emperor, "damaged but rebuilding. Centuries passed, and we quietly infiltrated the systems of Earth, harvesting the waste of humanity. The prisoners, the refugees, the dispossessed. They all came to us. The bodies were filtered, pulped, sifted. The seed of the human race is perverted. Only one cell in a billion was fit to be nurtured."

So, In Russell's rewrite of 'Revelation of the Daleks' (which would be a better title for this story than it was for Saward's script), the Daleks are no longer harvesting the elite.  Brought to the brink of extinction, they have been forced to resurrect themselves from the 'dregs'... which seems to be synonymous with the contestants who lose game shows.  The Daleks take the people who get knocked out before the finale.  Because the Daleks have become TV producers.  They've become the people who run Big Brother and Trinny & Susannah and The Weakest Link.  They've become the bosses of reality TV.  They've become Simon Cowell.  (Which is kind of an insult to the Daleks, if you ask me.)

Big Brother, in our ...

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 ...

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