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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. David Faggiani
    February 10, 2017 @ 10:34 am

    “Rogue One is, as long as we’re relocating Nazis into space and putting heavy artillery in their hands, not just content but delighted to give an emphatic ‘yes’ in response to the question ‘should we fucking kill and maim and incinerate as many fascists as we can, and refuse to agonise over it for even a second?’ You wouldn’t think this’d be a big deal in a world that idealises World War II as ‘the good war’, and thinks of Nazis as its default image of evil, but apparently it is these days.”

    I get your point, and god knows we’ve all come under a lot of stress from neo-fascists recently, but your enthusiasm there is treading dangerously close to the people who think there was nothing wrong with bombing Dresden, say. Especially the word ‘incinerate’. I know your views are more nuanced than that, but facist regimes and structures take human hostages/shields. We are right to agonise over violence, because violence (like all actions) is chaotic in its effects.

    Great article, by the way. Talking of agonies, your line “Discomforted by this, I don’t know whose record to pick at first – Hillary’s or Leia’s” might be Peak Jack Graham. In a good way 🙂


  2. David Faggiani
    February 10, 2017 @ 10:39 am

    I particularly like your point about diminishing protection from real Nazis/Nazism through a surfeit of simplifying allegory. If you rely on a forcefield of metaphorical demons, eventually the real demons will march right through the fog and grab you.


  3. Austin Loomis
    February 10, 2017 @ 3:34 pm

    The last thing we need […] is to foster the idea that we can mend what’s now broken (as if it just got broken) by reversing entropy and going back.

    This. Anyone can turn back the clock, and it’s often a reasonable thing to do, but not even the Archdruid of the Druidic Order of the Golden Dawn can unring a bell. (He’s heard it and he’s hungry.)


  4. Megara Justice Machine
    February 10, 2017 @ 5:20 pm

    “This is partly what accounts for the runaway gigantism of Hollywood films, with its vicious cycle of ever more hysterical bombast and incoherence. It’s almost as if Hollywood has decided upon a strategy of attempting to brutalise us into a state of hypnosis, in which we are addicted to ever-more sense-assaulting experiences.”

    This made me think of Doctor Strange – very pretty in its origami of reality imagery that confused enough to miss the sameness of the story enfolded inside.

    Good article.


  5. Alphapenguin
    February 10, 2017 @ 11:12 pm

    Good God, I love you.


  6. Jane
    February 11, 2017 @ 1:32 am

    Sorry I’ve been away for a while. Hopefully there’s a proper homecoming soon. In the meantime, I want to buttress Jack’s argument that this is a World War II movie and some of the consequences of that.

    Rogue One is not just a spy movie. It’s also a Pacific front movie, with all those beach scenes. More importantly, however, is the twist that this is also a martial arts movie, that it’s been informed by Asian aesthetics. Which in turn informs how we (should) read the Death Star. Because when it comes to the Death Star, the kind of iconography that’s invoked — big balls of light arising from the ground from the two cities where it’s activated — also ties into certain Anime aesthetics (think Akira) that are ultimately regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the bombs the United States dropped there.

    The effect, then, is to position America as being aesthetically linked to the fascist regime of the Empire, which can be accomplished thanks to dressing everything up in SF tropes out in deep space; we don’t have to read the film as singularly analogistic to the historical Axis and Allies, which would necessarily make Americans think they’re aligned with the rebels. Because in truth, we are the ones who utterly destroyed two cities with a single weapon.

    As such, Rogue One is even more unfortunately prescient than Jack has already described.


    • Jack Graham
      February 11, 2017 @ 9:01 am

      Great to have you back Jane. Really interesting comments. I am now writing something more specifically about Rogue One the movie, and I expect I’ll be drawing on what you say! There are actually other aesthetic linkages elsewhere in the film that work in a similar way, i think.


  7. David Ainsworth
    February 11, 2017 @ 3:52 pm

    Something that didn’t strike me on first viewing but has become obvious after: CGI Tarkin worked for me because he literally represents what he is in the film. The agents of rebellion die and die over the course of the story, and while they may take with them the villain introduced at its start, he’s far more of a comedy figure than a threat. The twin threats of fascism and Empire in this story are Vader and Tarkin, far more dangerous working in conjunction than what we see in A New Hope and yet never appearing in the same scene.

    One is more machine than man, effectively an animated cadaver but without most of the characteristics of the zombie, instead a distillation of intimidation and menace, projecting fear through a combination of competent unrestrained power and the unreadable qualities of a mask. The other is Vader.

    By making Tarkin a CGI figure, by reanimating Peter Cushing (imperfectly), the filmmakers make him another Vader. Coupled with Vader’s horror-movie turn, the two become figures of apparently unstoppable threat. How do you defeat an enemy who is already dead? Within this framework, CGI Leia offers an imperfect hope. For, at least briefly, she represents not another immortal archetype but rather the attempt to recapture or reclaim a rebellious youth that never quite panned out.

    In version 1, the revolutionary figure who promises ultimate victory is actually an attempt to package a woman in her 60s (or 70s, if we want the political metaphor to work precisely) as the face of the coming thing. Her uncanny/faux youth reflects and critiques the ways in which youthful rebellion has been excised from so many polities.

    Then Carrie Fisher dies, and version 2 leaves us with a clash of archetypes, ghosts of the past wrangling with another ghost of the past who defiantly claims to represent a future well past its sell-by date.


    • David Faggiani
      February 11, 2017 @ 7:43 pm

      That’s really good! I love that.


      • Jack Graham
        February 12, 2017 @ 12:04 am

        Will you lot please stop being better than me on my own pages?


  8. Dylan
    February 17, 2017 @ 11:33 am

    I’m in agreement with Sam (Keeper) on the fact that this might be the best film in (or out) of the series.
    I love the fact that the film isn’t afraid to go to more than three worlds, and actually make a point of making them lived in. That it can have societies and cultures that aren’t in the scope of imperial/republic and rebel/fringe monocultures that all the others get away with.
    I love Jyn, who is, apparently, a super-competent rebel soldier who was trained by the biggest bad-ass in the Rebellion… but is allowed to fail in a way no other protagonist in the series ever has. She gets places too late, she rarely fires her gun, and the end of the film, Felicity Jones allows Jyn to portray a genuine and affecting sense of fear. And despite all this,despite the fact she doesn’t make it, she fought to the end and made a difference.
    I loved the entire cast. Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed and Ben Mendelsohn stood out (And that’s saying something when Madds Mikkelson is in there).
    Most of all, I love the fact that I was wrong with how I’d feel about the film. A rare delight.


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