Batman (1989)

Not rated yet!
Director
Tim Burton
Runtime
2 h 06 min
Release Date
23 June 1989
Genres
Fantasy, Action
Overview
The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker, who has seized control of Gotham's underworld.
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  • Batman Returns:An Anti-Semitic Allegory?
    [1]

    Danny DeVito as the Penguin

    2,536 words

    Soon after the release of director Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992) starring Michael Keaton as Batman, Danny DeVito as the Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Christopher Walken as evil capitalist Max Shreck, America’s premier newspaper, the Jewish-controlled New York Times, published an op-ed piece by two Columbia College seniors, Rebecca Roiphe and Daniel Cooper, entitled “Batman and the Jewish Question” (July 2, 1992).

    Today, Roiphe, the daughter of feminist Anne Roiphe [2], is a professor at New York Law School [3].

    Batman Returns is the second movie in the series, after Tim Burton’s inaugural Batman (1989). It told the tale of the Penguin, a freakish villain who posed a deadly threat to the citizens of Gotham City. As a deformed baby, he had been secretly set adrift à la Moses in Gotham City’s river by his parents, who deemed him repellant.

    Nurtured in the sewers, the Penguin tries to seize political control of the metropolis with the help of wealthy, megalomaniacal industrialist Max Shreck. Ultimately, the Penguin mounts an attack to kidnap and murder all of the first-born aristocratic children of Gotham City.

    This last plot element, an obvious reference to Passover [4], was introduced by Jewish screenwriter Wesley Strick, who admitted, “of course I was referring to Exodus.” [5]

    In their article, the two Ivy League Jews charged that Batman Returns was anti-Semitic. The Penguin, they averred, “is not just a deformed man, half human, half-Arctic-beast. He is a Jew, down to his hooked nose, pale face and lust for herring.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Cf9hffZ8k&feature=related [6] [4:24 mins.]

    Some of Roiphe’s and Cooper’s allegations make little sense to a non-Jew.

    For example: the Penguin’s “umbrellas that transform into bayonets, machine guns and helicopters are Moses’ magic staff. The flipper hands he holds at his chest are Moses’ hands, which in Exodus become ‘leprous as snow.'” The Penguin’s “army of mindless followers, a flock of ineffectual birds who cannot fly, is eventually converted to the side of Christian morality. They turn against the leader who has failed to assimilate.”

    One could deconstruct their argument further, but my objective here is to report Jewish perceptions.

    Here were some of their charges:

    • Using “images and cultural stereotypes,” director Tim Burton “depicts the Penguin as one of the oldest cultural clichés: the Jew who is bitter, bent over and out for revenge, the Jew who is unathletic and seemingly unthreatening but who, in fact, wants to murder every firstborn child of the gentile community.”
    • “The Penguin feigns assimilation into society and gains the citizens’ trust for a time. But eventually even the ignorant masses understand this false prophet for what he is, a primordial beast who seeks retribution, ‘an eye for an eye.'”
    • The evil, wealthy capitalist who allies himself with the Penguin against the citizens of Gotham is named “Max Shreck” after German actor Max Schreck, who portrayed Dracula in F. W. Murnau’s Expressionist silent film classic, Nosferatu (Ger.-1922). Metaphorically, Shreck is a blood-sucking vampire.
    •  The Gentile Shreck “wants only power, but the Jew who has suffered wants to punish others for the crime that was committed against him.”
    • “The Penguin’s evil plan is the enactment of a paranoid notion that Jews’ effort to preserve their heritage and culture is a guise for elitist and hostile intentions.”
    • Batman Returns takes place at Christmas time. The Christmas tree, the lights and the mistletoe serve a thematic purpose. They represent the Christian ethic, which will save Gotham City from the false ideology of the Penguin. In the final scene Batman articulates the distinctly Christian moral of this film: ‘Merry Christmas and good will toward men . . . and women.'”
    • Finally, the authors discern a Wagnerian motif: Jewish composer Danny Elfman’s musical score, they say, “makes indisputable the influence of Richard Wagner.” In addition, director Burton’s horde of penguins are like the Niebelungen; the “Penguin-Jew-villain” is Wagner’s Alberich from Das Rheingold; and the duck-shaped boat in which the Penguin navigates Gotham’s sewers is a parody of the “Schwan der Schelde” from Lohengrin.

    The Chorus Chimes In

    Publication of these accusations in the Times conferred instant legitimacy upon them. The article generated numerous letters to the editor, commentaries in other venues, and was republished across the country. One large metropolitan daily re-ran it under the headline “Batman Returns Casts Jews as a Force for Evil.”

    A Jewish reader [7] who initially assumed the article could be dismissed as the “product of a pair of intellectually overheated, pretentiously affected and politically correct undergraduates straining to ferret out nonexistent sinister motives,” became a convert after seeing the “vile motion picture.” He was puzzled why it hadn’t been censored in the production process.

    After positing this taken-for-granted censorship regime, he inconsistently concluded that Batman Returns “gives the lie to the shibboleth that Jews control the entertainment industry and use it to manipulate the American public.”

    Even paleoconservatives felt compelled to weigh in on behalf of the weak, ever-persecuted Jews.

    Chronicles magazine’s contribution to the dialogue was “Christmastime in Hollywood” (December 1992) by David R. Slavitt, a derivative review reproducing the opinions of the Columbia undergraduates nearly verbatim.

    “These Columbia kids,” Slavitt averred, “are not crazy. If anything, their report is cautious, modest, and generally understated.” Although it was hard to believe “that an industry from which the Jews are not significantly excluded” (!) would “base a surefire summer hit on the old blood libel [4],” nevertheless, Batman Returns is “an old-fashioned 1930s Jew-baiting movie.”

    Since there were no 1930s “Jew-baiting” movies in America or virtually anywhere else, he was undoubtedly referring to Germany.

    “The trouble with the Penguin,” Slavitt sermonized, “is that his bestiality runs riot and that he outwardly proclaims it: ‘I am not a human being! I am an animal!’ Which is the fundamental basis of all bigotry—that they are not like us and in fact are not even human.” “The Penguin,” he concluded, “is at least as Jewish as Roiphe and Cooper claim.” In summation:

    The message from Batman Returns is that all our ills arise from the work of some small but evil bunch of rich and powerful people who are different from us—not quite human, beasts, vermin—and are therefore after blood, wanting to kill our children and our God.

    Note that this outlook is, without qualification, exactly the way Jews demonize whites!

    The movie left Slavitt feeling “dismayed” and “numb.” He hinted darkly that a pogrom (or worse) might be in the offing.

    A not exactly earth-shattering observation by Slavitt was that the film had an Expressionist look. (This is true of virtually all of Burton’s films.) Expressionism was common in the German cinema of the Weimar era. The implication seemed to be that this, too, was somehow anti-Semitic.

    Although the production designer for Batman Returns was Bo Welch, he inherited his expressionist designs from Batman (1989). The set designer for that film was British-born Jew Anton Furst, who committed suicide before the second project went into production by leaping from an LA parking garage.

    Designer Bo Welch did mention in an interview that he had blended “Fascist architecture with World’s Fair architecture” for Gotham City, and studied Russian architecture and German Expressionism.

    Anti-Semitic Allegory?

    Were the Jews right? Was Batman Returns an anti-Semitic allegory? Or were these aspects of the film some sort of odd coincidence?

    When I saw Batman Returns I was well-versed about the Jewish problem, but did not automatically think, “This film is antiSemitic!”

    That doesn’t mean such themes weren’t present, but until they were pointed out by anti-white writers they did not register with a racially conscious person such as myself. And, unlike me, most Gentiles are unaware.

    There is another film that works better as anti-Jewish allegory.

    That is John Carpenter’s low budget sci-fi flick They Live (1988). Carpenter, who is white, is a typical Hollywood denizen. His objective was to discredit Reaganism and free enterprise. The film also prominently features a hoary propaganda cliché, the white-Negro “buddy” team (The Defiant Ones, Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon series).

    I have never seen They Live attacked as anti-Semitic by Jews the way Batman Returns was. Rather, I first read that take on the movie in 1988 in the now-defunct Populist Party’s magazine The Populist Observer, and have seen many pro-white writers make the same point since.

    In They Live the (unintended) anti-Jewish theme sticks out like a sore thumb for conscious whites in a way that it does not in Batman Returns. But the depiction of the Penguin in Batman Returns unquestionably set off the Jews’ own alarm bells.

    The anti-Jewish elements in Batman Returns might have been as unconscious and unintentional as Carpenter’s were.

    Another approach is to ask who made the film. Whose sensibilities, conscious and unconscious, does it express?

    The corporate parent was media colossus Time Warner, run by Jews Steven J. Ross (real name Steven J. Rechnitz) and Gerald M. Levin.

    The co-head of subsidiary production company Warner Brothers was Jew Terry Semel, later CEO of Internet giant Yahoo!.

    Of the movie’s six producers (director Tim Burton was one), Peter Guber and Benjamin Melnicker were Jewish, while New Jersey-born Michael Uslan’s ethnicity is unknown. Apparent Gentiles were Jon Peters, supposedly half-Italian and half-Amerindian, and Denise Di Novi, a presumptive Italian-American.

    Daniel Waters wrote the screenplay. Unfortunately for anti-white conspiracy theorists, his screenplay was heavily rewritten prior to filming by Wesley Strick, who is Jewish. Strick has been credited with authorship of two-thirds of the final script, including the Old Testament allusions.

    As an aside, the final script reveals one way Hollywood scriptwriters, directors, and actors employ buzzwords to quickly convey white racial images and stereotypes to one another during production. In one scene I saw references to nameless characters including “ALL-AMERICAN DAD,” “ALL-AMERICAN MOM,” “ALL-AMERICAN SON,” and “ADORABLE LITTLE GIRL” with her “precious little purse.”

    Tim Burton

    A movie’s director ordinarily exercises more control than anyone else over the final product in terms of story, look, theme, etc. Counter-Currents [8] and TOO [9] film analyst Edmund Connelly relies upon “auteur theory”—the theory that the director is the main “author” of a film—in his readings of Hollywood movies. He succinctly summarizes that theory here [10].

    Tim Burton exercised considerable control over the making of Batman Returns.

    His previous Batman (1989), the first film in the series, was one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing over $411 million. It won critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The success of the movie helped establish Burton as a profitable director.

    During production, Burton had repeatedly clashed with the film’s producers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber. But after Batman‘s success, Warner Brothers wanted him to direct the sequel. He finally agreed on the condition that he be granted total control. As a result, producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber were demoted to executive producers.

    Tim Burton has always seemed hyper-Jewish to me. (By my definition [11], half- and quarter- Jews are also “Jewish.”) Indeed, I find it nearly impossible to believe that he isn’t. He is so strange, so alien, that next to him Alfred Hitchcock looks like Ward Cleaver.

    But if Burton is Jewish, he is extremely crypto-.

    The media implicitly presents Burton to the public as white. Reporters state that he was born in 1958 in Burbank, California to Jean Burton (née Erickson), the owner of a cat-themed gift shop, and Bill Burton, a former minor league baseball player who subsequently worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department.

    Yet Tim Burton’s background remains obscure. As late as the 1990s a newswriter incorrectly identified him as a “British director,” and years ago I read that he was adopted.

    He does not look Aryan.

    His sensibility—notably his weirdness, obsessions, and conspicuous neuroticism—does not seem Aryan, either.

    Burton’s “art,” whether his commercial films or the paintings, drawings, photographs, etc., featured in a retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, does not look Aryan.

    Proof of all of this is on display in a 7:00-minute YouTube interview [12] with Burton posted by the Museum of Modern Art in 2009 that highlights examples of his artwork.

    In 2003, a Jewish website no longer in existence (http://jewishpeople.net/famousjewssz.html [13]) listed him as Jewish, and of 515 voters at a contemporary Jewish site called Guess Who’s the Jew?, 58% thought him Jewish and 42% non-Jewish [14]. The site does not verify that he is in fact Jewish, but rather tabulates the perceptions of visitors.

    Burton’s amazing career trajectory suggests favoritism. He became a leading director of big budget movies while still in his 20s.

    His career received major boosts from Disney Studios, where he was employed as an animator (gauge his qualification for commercial Disney animation work in the YouTube clip), and Warner Brothers, which gave him his first significant break directing Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) starring Pee-Wee Herman [15] (Paul Reubens, born Paul Reubenfeld).

    Burton’s current mistress is actress Helena Bonham Carter. Nearly half Jewish, Bonham Carter has a complicated family tree, the product of hybridization between members of the British aristocracy and Europe’s Jewish aristocracy. Burton has two children by her.

    Finally, despite the toxic charges of anti-Semitism, Burton’s career did not miss a beat. He was not unceremoniously cashiered like Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen. That’s too bad, because a suffering world would have been spared much ugly cultural dreck if he had been.

    Self-Image

    That from a Jewish perspective there are coded “anti-Jewish” messages in Batman Returns is interesting.

    More interesting, though, is the fact that the controversy over them has completely disappeared from public view.

    As John Derbyshire recently observed [16] in connection with William Cash’s much-reviled 1994 Spectator (UK) article, “The Kings of the Deal” [17]: “‘It’s surprising what you can find on the internet,’ we used to say when the thing was new. Nowadays I am more often surprised by what I can’t find on the internet.”

    This is certainly true of Batman Returns. The 1992 assaults on the movie are conspicuously absent from the World Wide Web, especially given how prevalent they were at the time. Googling David Slavitt’s Chronicles article does not turn up a single reference.

    Perhaps some subjects are routinely downplayed or concealed by slyly jiggering search results. I can think of a particular search formula I consistently used with great success for many years that no longer works. The ADL partners with Jewish mega-giants Google and Facebook to censor Internet content on ideological and racial grounds. Such control of information choke points confers tremendous power.

    Today most people do not know that such accusations were ever made, although oblique hints linger. For example, Jewish movie critic Leonard Maltin’s bestselling annual Movie Guide gives Batman Returns only two stars, calling it, without explanation, a “nasty, nihilistic, nightmare movie” with a “dark, mean-spirited screenplay”—an obvious allusion to the Jewish themes discussed here.

    But those who self-righteously take umbrage over alleged anti-Semitism in Batman Returns deserve no sympathy. They should have their faces shoved into anti-Semitism every bit as vicious and unrelenting as the anti-white filth they propagate daily without remorse, and experience the resultant violence and hatred as well. Such vile people are in no position to preach.

    That won’t happen, of course, but it should.

    [18]

    Surely the most extraordinary aspect of the entire affair, however, is that Jewish elites gazed upon the physically, psychologically, and morally deformed Penguin and instantly saw themselves.

    “That’s us!” they cried. “They’re depicting us!”

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Tim Burton’s Batman: Putting the Gothic into Gotham

    2,774 words

    [1]Origins & Evolution of the Gothic in Film

    The gothic is a quintessentially European aesthetic. Moreover, it pertains and appeals more specifically to those of North-West European descent and is to be found in various modes and tropes throughout North-West European culture and contrasts with the Classicism of Southern Europe. Gothic as a term was first applied to medieval art and particularly architecture by Renaissance critics in similar propagandist fashion to how the term Dark Ages was also used to describe the period following the collapse of the Roman Empire. In both cases, the terms were coined to denigrate Germanic ascendancy in culture as unenlightened and barbaric in relation to the culture of Greco-Roman Classical Antiquity and its Renaissance.[1]

    Equally, when the Gothic appeared in literature towards the end of the 18th century, it was as a reaction to Enlightenment Classicism and the Age of Reason. Gothic motifs here are typically old aristocratic families, subterranean and eerie settings, the past—particularly the medieval past—entering the present, the supernatural, emotional extremes in characterization, an older powerful antagonist, a young hero and a heroine that faces some sort of imprisonment or constraint. As regards the subterranean and eerie settings, typical are those again often associated with the medieval: dungeons, castles, manor houses, churches and cathedrals.[2]

    Contemporary (read post-Marxian) critical theory relating to the Gothic has centered on the subject of transgression against societal norms, yet what is rarely addressed is that these norms are post-Enlightenment, not meaning from the likes of Kant or Franklin, but from the radical liberal tradition beginning with Locke. In other words, the transgressive forces of the Gothic proper (as opposed to contemporary texts that often attempt to subvert the genre itself) are not those compatible with any philosophical position further Left, but, in their traditional and mythical rootedness in what is quintessentially European, can only honestly be interpreted from the Right. While the old liberal radical Left used the term Gothic disparagingly,[3] the New Left of the post-1960s cultural revolution has appropriated the Gothic for its countercultural impact, while either critiquing or attempting to divorce it from its Rightist elements, such as those pertaining to aristocracy, myth, religiosity, and Eurocentrism.

    In this struggle between the rationality of the Enlightenment and the alleged unreason of the Gothic, one can see a foreshadowing of the philosophies to come that relate to the human condition: the persona and shadow of Jung and the Apollonian and Dionysian of Nietzsche, the “darker” aspects in both philosophies being defined in relation to post-Enlightenment bourgeois society. Yet with both of these philosophies, one sees a reconciliation of polarities beyond good and evil.

    The Gothic as a genre in and of itself has all but disappeared and is often referred in post-Gothic texts as “the Gothic mode,” diffused as it is throughout other genres. In film, one sees it readily in German Expressionism, in its Hollywood derivative Film Noir, and in more contemporary genres like Steampunk. Here, cinematic settings in particular are atmospherically Gothic: the urban cityscapes are often eerily lonely and dark, often nocturnal, and the characters that inhabit them psychologically extreme. German Expressionism exaggerates the mise en scène to reflect a psychological imbalance in characters; the architecture is therefore often stylistically Gothic, as the form lends to this extremity. Steampunk’s reinterpretation and advancement of Victorianism into the present, often creating alternate timelines where the digital revolution never occurred and steam remained the basis of technology, inevitably bring with them the high Victorian architectural style of the Neo-Gothic.

    Steampunk was certainly influenced by events in the world of distinctly white European forms of music. The rise of industrial, gothic rock, and darker new wave bands like the Damned, the Cure, Bauhaus, and the Sisters of Mercy, to name the more famous ones, created a whole new post-punk aesthetic, in which its acolytes wore black especially leather and plastic clothing, white make-up, and silver jewelry. The aesthetic had a distinct Victorian vampiric look to it, and it was no surprise that its adherents were called simply Goths. The music videos that accompanied the singles released into the charts were set in the city back alleys at the junction of Film Noir and Steampunk. Although this cultural scene began in part, perhaps appropriately, in the industrial yet culturally traditionalist north of England, its Mecca was to be found in the metropolis of London, in a nightclub named the Batcave.

    Origins of the Gothic in Batman

    Batman was originally set in New York City. According to Batman’s co-creator Bob Kane, the name Gotham came quite by chance:

    Originally I was going to call Gotham City “Civic City.” Then I tried “Capital City,” then “Coast City.” Then I flipped through the New York City phone book and spotted the name “Gotham Jewelers’ and said, “That’s it,” Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it.[4]

    Gotham is an antiquated nickname for the Big Apple, and its appearance in the telephone directory was as incidental as its selection was not. The name Gotham was coined by Washington Irving (and one notes his connection to the Gothic literary mode) in 1807 and taken from the village of Gotham in Nottinghamshire, England, a village notable for its habitation by fools. This cannot have been far from both Kane and writer Bill Finger’s mind when creating a lawless city inhabited by crazy villains, and, whether consciously or subconsciously, neither can Gotham’s phonemic association with the Gothic.

    In spite of Kane and Finger’s ethnicity that often inclines members of their tribe to be at odds with Western culture, they created a character that is very much in the European tradition. The character of Batman himself is a hybrid of both the Classical and the Gothic. Kane stated that the idea for his form came from a design for an ornithopter flying machine by Leonardo Da Vinci with the inscription “Remember that your bird shall have no other model than the bat.”[5] Yet the shadowy chiropteran costume is equally Gothic, as are Batman’s nocturnal habits, which all serve to bring to mind that archetype of Gothic literature: the vampire.

    The outward vestments of Batman and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne serve to reveal the inner compartmentalization of two major character aspects to the audience. Wayne’s bourgeois suit emphasizes the modern Renaissance man, the Apollonian persona constructed for polite society, “persona” of course meaning both character and mask. Ignoring the camp 1960s television series version, the Batsuit’s Gothic external mask disguises the Dionysian shadow within.

    Indeed, the 1960s series did much to undo Batman’s Gothic image, which only really recovered thanks to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight series of comic books from the late 1980s. Indeed, it was Miller’s success in reinvigorating the comic character that led directly to interest in a potential film. It is, however, perhaps quite ironic that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series of films has concentrated more on gritty realism than a stylized Gothicism, although this may also have been a conscious decision not to attempt to recreate the Tim Burton films.[6]

    [2]

    Tim Burton & Gothic Batman

    In addition to Miller’s graphic reinterpretation of Batman, one other event enabled the filming of 1989’s Batman: Richard Donner’s 1978 version of Superman, hailed as the first modern superhero film. In the cinematic superhero overload of today, it is difficult to comprehend the impact the film had, or to imagine a prior cultural space in which a serious filmic treatment of a superhero was seen as a daring move. Indeed, Donner’s original grossed far more at the box office than any of its campier and cornier sequels.

    The aforementioned genres of German Expressionism, Film Noir, and Steampunk contract to a point in Batman. Gotham’s criminals and police are attired in the 1940s suits of Film Noir that are by no means out of place in their surroundings. The cityscape of Gotham itself is an aesthetic blend of Steampunk with Film Noir. The art deco theatres and gothic tenement blocks are juxtaposed with fantastic Steampunk appendages: pumps, pipes, vents, shafts, fans, and ducts, which constantly belch out steam. The Steampunk setting culminates in crime boss Carl Grissom’s chemical plant, and it is no coincidence that this building is where the (il)logic of comic book fantasy overrides the laws of physics, Jack Napier plummeting into a vat of chemicals and being transformed into the Joker.

    The Steampunk settings are also congruent with German Expressionist cinema, and there are obvious nods to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The high altitudes and odd angles of both building construction and civil engineering within the film and camerawork as creative process of the film reveal the huge influence of German Expressionism and also correspond nicely to the demands of a film in which the main character emulates the aerial swoops of the bat. The film is replete with downward and upward shots that give the audience a collective sense of vertigo that destabilizes the equilibrium of the senses and transports it beyond its comfortable bourgeois world of safety and reason.

    It is no coincidence that the film ends with multiple opportunities for these vertical shots as Batman fights the Joker, rescuing Vicki Vale from him in a Gothic cathedral, high up in the belfry and above the ribbed vaults and flying buttresses and onto the roof, in almost a re-enactment of the climactic scene in Metropolis in which Freder Fredersen rescues Maria from the mad scientist Rotwang. Indeed, one can readily see similarities between the Joker and Rotwang in their insanity, scientific expertise, and narrative functions in the two films.

    Where the two characters differ most significantly is in their respective relationships to modernity and tradition. Rotwang bears the greater similarity to the “mad professor” archetype of Gothic fiction, for there is no rejection of prior cultural tradition. The Joker’s vandalism in the museum as he abducts Vicki Vale is an attack on traditional and bourgeois culture; Rembrandts, Degas, Renoirs, Gainsboroughs are all defaced, while the piece by Francis Bacon is left intact: “I kinda like this one, Bob. Leave it.” He represents the Left-wing anarchist, whose only aim is to destroy America as a cultural extension of Europe.

    Many fans have criticized the use of the pop singer Prince’s songs in the film, yet one notes the context in their employment; they invariably accompany the Joker on his “artistic” and “theatrical” endeavors—here in his deconstruction of traditional art and also during his gaudy lowbrow parade. In its Negroid superficiality, Prince’s music fits the bill perfectly.

    In contradistinction, accompanying Batman/Wayne is the classical film score by Danny Elfman. Both the Bruce Wayne and Batman identities come from quintessentially European traditions in their construction by Burton and company, the bourgeois Classicism of Bruce Wayne and the reconfigured Gothic Batman for the postmodern technological age being split into a very dualist Apollonian persona and Dionysian shadow, as is revealed in the dinner scene between Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale, when Wayne, uncomfortable as Vale in the vast Gothic dining hall, suggests they go into the kitchen:

    Vicki Vale: You know, this house and all this stuff really doesn’t seem like you at all.

    Bruce Wayne: Some of it is very much me, and some of it isn’t.

    Vicki Vale: That dining room is definitely not you.

    Bruce Wayne: No, the dining room isn’t.

    The Gothic dining room is not Wayne, but it is Batman, as is, ironically, the whole Gothic edifice of Wayne Manor, underneath which the equally Gothic (in terms of narrative mode rather than architectural style) Batcave is hidden, revealing that Batman is Wayne’s Dasein and Wayne a mere social actor. The Jungian shadow is therefore the true self and the persona, as its etymology suggests, a mere mask.

    When Wayne leaves the dining room with Vale, it is because being with Vale in the room makes him uncomfortable. He is awkward in conversation and table manners, and it is Vale who reveals the inappropriateness of the room by exaggerating her mannerisms as she puts her hand to the side of her mouth and calls to Wayne at the other end of the long table. The acting by the male and female leads is commendable, with Michael Keaton’s awkwardness juxtaposing well with Kim Basinger’s self-assuredness in bourgeois society. What Wayne represents is very much the aristocrat awkwardly attempting to fit into a society now ruled and modelled by the bourgeoisie.

    Here we have then an interesting morality at the center of Burton’s Batman. Whether consciously or subconsciously—and one notes Burton’s unconscious attraction to the Gothic—we are served a critique of bourgeois superficiality and the society of manners and mannerisms as anathema to the heroic. Furthermore, these social conventions are seen as distinctly feminine, the gendered self-assuredness being reversed when these conventions are broken by those who operate outside them, like the Joker. Suddenly, Vale becomes the helpless damsel in distress of Gothic fiction, and Wayne assumes his natural role as Gothic hero, and it is no coincidence that the Joker is (literally) brought down in the finale by a gargoyle from the aforementioned Gothic cathedral.

    Burton’s attraction to the Gothic as a white European has then resulted in both his subversion and masculinizing of the mode, as he recreates it in his own image. In the Gothic literary genre proper, it is the villain who is the personification of the “True Rightist” traditional and mythic past—a representation of the superstition and barbarity of particularly the so-called “Dark Ages.” Yet in Batman, we have a “Dark Enlightenment,” where the post-Enlightenment Apollonian bourgeois world can only be saved from the forces of nihilism by a Dionysian Übermensch who embraces pre-Enlightenment ideals of aristocratic paternalism, the warrior code, an appreciation of the mythic and tradition—ideals that are subverted in true Gothic texts like Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. As Jonathan Bowden often pointed out, this is ever the irony in Hollywood’s masculine archetype: that the aristocratic warrior type must always defend the liberal capitalism of the bourgeoisified West.

    In all, Burton has created a filmic extravaganza specifically tailored to the sensibilities of the white European male. The only significant Black character in the film is that of the reconfigured Harvey Dent. The decision to cast a black American actor in Billy Dee Williams as a canonically white character was a conscious one on Burton’s part as he looked ahead to Dent’s becoming the villain Two Face. He was interested in the black and white concept. What he meant or where he was going with that was never realized.[7] Critics like Camille Bacon-Smith and Tyrone Yarbrough have attempted to prove that as many blacks attended film showings as whites, based upon a cursory head count at single showings at a tiny sample of picture houses,[8] but the hype surrounding the film was well-documented at the time and audiences were overwhelmingly white. Her study shows rather the dishonesty of contemporary academia.

    The film, then, is a white film for white audiences. Tim Burton’s version of the Batman narrative is not merely a retelling of Batman, but simultaneously, a postmodern retelling of the Gothic tale, which in turn, is a retelling of European folktale and fairytale. Certainly, Burton’s ever expanding portfolio of work bears out this assertion and, in spite of restraints, constraints, and conventions imposed upon the film industry by both Hollywood’s Jewish executives and the state apparatus with regard to the employment of ethnic minorities, Burton’s films remain firmly in the European artistic tradition.

    Notes

    1. See Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Artists, trans. J. C. and P. Bondanella [3] (Oxford: Oxford University Press [4], 1991), pp. 117, 527, and Giorgio Vasari in Vasari on Technique: Being the Introduction to the Three Arts of Design, Architecture, Sculpture and Painting, Prefixed to the Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, ed. G. Baldwin Brown, trans. Louisa S. Maclehose (London: Dent, 1907), pp. 83ff.

    2. For more on the subject, see for example, David Punter, The Gothic (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2004).

    3. See Fred Botting, “In Gothic Darkly: Heterotopia, History Culture” in A Companion to the Gothic, ed. David Punter (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 3–14.

    4. Cited in Jim Steranko, The Steranko History of Comics (Reading, Penn.: Supergraphics, 1970), p. 44.

    5. Interview with Bob Kane, The Two Masks of the Caped Crusader, The Family Channel, 1990.

    6. Christopher Sharrett, “Batman and the Twilight of the Idols: An Interview with Frank Miller” in The Many Lives of Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and his Media, ed. Roberta E. Pearson and William Uricchio (New York: Routledge, 1991), pp. 33–46.

    7. Tim Burton, “Commentary,” Batman Special Edition, PolyGram/Warner Bros., 2005.

    8. Camilla Bacon-Smith and Tyrone Yarbrough, “Batman: The Ethnography” in The Many Lives of Batman, pp. 90–116.

     

     

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  • A Dark Knight Without a King

    [1]3,073 words

    Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy deserves its large audience among White Nationalists. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises all comprise a canon in the superhero genre that stands above the rest, perhaps only succeeded by Watchmen in its representation of Right-wing themes and philosophy. Much has been said about the emphatically Right-wing character of Batman’s villains, especially the League of Shadows, but less has been said about the Rightist aspects of Batman himself. 

    Typical of the superhero genre, Nolan’s Batman protects the liberal system. Batman is nominally portrayed as the defender of liberalism, a “heroic” savior of the neoliberal, cosmopolitan city of Gotham. He ostensibly believes in the democratic system and its institutions that are worth fighting for. All it needs is a little help from a crime- fighting billionaire. In this, Nolan’s Batman is no different from other superheroes, who follow the same narrative pattern of protecting the existing system as its hero from the villain who critiques the system and seeks to destroy it.

    Yet in Nolan’s trilogy, this narrative framework is routinely undermined and revealed as a weakness in Batman’s character. A tragic flaw that serves as the habitual source of Batman’s undoing and frustration. Furthermore, unlike conventional superheroes who are portrayed as “heroic” because they champion liberal values, Batman betrays the system he seeks to uphold, acting outside of the rule of law in defiance of liberal notions of justice. Indeed, once the mask is removed from Batman as the “silent guardian, watchful protector” of neoliberalism, a much deeper Right-wing character emerges.

    Symbolism & Imagery

    [2]The first clue that Batman is a Right-wing character are his appellations the Dark Knight and the Caped Crusader. Both refer to medieval European warriors who adhered to an ethical code glorifying honor, righteousness, and loyalty. Such men are reviled by the Left as exemplified in Obama’s equation of crusaders to present-day jihadists. Other medieval allusions are woven into Batman’s backstory. Bruce Wayne’s family is Gotham nobility, they built most of Gotham, and are its most wealthy and powerful family, emblematic of American-style aristocracy. When Bruce Wayne’s parents are shot by a vagrant in Batman Begins, they had been attending an opera, a hallmark of aristocratic culture. As sole heir of the Wayne family, Bruce is free to engage in higher pursuits as he is secure in his wealth and power like most feudal elites. The mob boss Falcone even refers to him as the “Prince of Gotham” when Bruce confronts him about the release of his parent’s killer in Batman Begins. As such, Batman can be viewed as a contemporary version of a noble who transforms himself into a crime-fighting knight, both of which are representative of historical institutions on the Right.

    Notwithstanding his use of advanced military technology, Batman fights with a grittiness that is not flashy or enhanced by any supernatural capabilities; it’s authentic and brutal. He fights with his fists and defeats his opponents through mastery of an ancient style of martial arts, one that employs the psychological (deception and fear) as well as the physical (strength and technique) to overcome enemies. The art of combat, a celebration of virtus, is unequivocally Right-wing and plays a prominent role in the Batman character. Altogether, the aesthetics of Batman harken to pre-liberal masculinity, when men were nobles and knights, fought for their people, believed in grand visions, and pursued higher callings in life. Even the uninitiated receive a healthy dose of manliness, the bedrock of any Right-wing movement.

    All of this is set against the backdrop of Gotham, a giant metropolis that signifies an amalgamation of America’s premier globalist cities: New York, LA, and Chicago. These shining cities of liberal utopia are accurately depicted in Gotham. Crime and corruption are rampant throughout the city choking off its lifeblood. The streets of Gotham are dark, dreary, and deadly, bereft of all beauty and awash in the refuse of humanity that liberalism produces but cannot eliminate. Gotham is the future that awaits our Western cities. Even the rich in Gotham are not safe, something we have yet to look forward to in the coming years. Within this dying liberal dystopia springs forth Batman, entrenched in medieval symbolism and masculinity, bringing real change: righteous violence. 

    Actions

    [3]The most Right-wing aspect of Batman is his fascist use of force. Batman recognizes that order must be brought about by violence. Violence is necessary; violence is justice. The Left believes that “violence is not the answer,” that criminality and corruption can be solved by displays of acceptance and understanding, or programs that address the “root cause” of such problems. Batman understands that only violence can stop criminality. No social programs will ever stop the criminal dregs of society from becoming who they are. Batman flouts the legal system’s procedures that protect criminals, and defies society’s laws that restrain law enforcement. The actions of Batman reveal the failure of “the rule of law,” which requires a vigilante to break the law in order to uphold the law. Society’s preoccupation with the rights of criminals has disarmed authority from the ability to properly fight criminality. Justice requires force, Batman exemplifies this truth.

    We on the Right understand that force in itself is amoral. Its morality depends on who wields it and who triumphs. Liberalism restricts the use of force and violence against criminals because it sympathizes with the criminals, the miscreants, and the reprobates that liberals see as victims of an oppressive white society. Libertarians fear the potential abuse from more violence. On the Right, however, we understand that violence cannot be avoided. It is necessary to maintain civilization. The goal is to find those worthy of the power, those of higher character and justice, those like Batman. This can only be achieved in a society that appreciates violence and virtue, not one of democracy and equality.

    In Nolan’s trilogy, the villains reinforce the conclusion that Batman’s use of force is just and that he should use more force not less. In The Dark Knight, Batman deploys a city-wide wiretapping device to finally locate the Joker despite the liberal objections of Lucius Fox who sees it as violation of sacred privacy rights. Batman is proven correct in his fascist use of force as it successfully results in the Joker’s location and capture, demonstrating the value of force when used for the right purpose. Earlier in the movie, the necessity of uninhibited force is again justified when Batman travels to China and kidnaps Lau, the mob money launderer, and brings him back to Gotham for trial. The law had become not only a shield but an enabler of criminality as Lau exploited the law’s limits on jurisdiction and extradition to advance his criminal empire. Only through force unbound by the law does Batman render Justice against Lau.

    In this respect, Batman pays heed to Ra’s al Ghul’s counseling from Batman Begins that “criminals mock society’s laws.” The irony is that Ra’s al Ghul delivered this pronouncement in light of the need to kill extrajudicially, which serves as the final test for Bruce Wayne to become a member of the League of Shadows and “demonstrate his commitment to justice.” In the Nietzschean figure of Ra’s al Ghul, the killing of the condemned by the righteous is the ultimate expression of justice. Bruce Wayne objects to such a test, asserting that the execution of a murderer should only be delivered by a court of law. Wayne’s refusal to kill is arbitrary. Although Wayne recognizes the necessity of being freed from legal limitations, he quixotically believes that killing alone requires judicial sanction—the demarcating line between just avenger and unjust vigilante. In Snyder’s rendition of the character in Batman v Superman, Batman’s refusal to kill is rightly done away with. However, Nolan uses the refusal as a critical mistake.

    The Joker lays bare Batman’s “self-righteousness” as utterly foolish, and exploits it just as Ra’s al Ghul warned: “your compassion is a weakness your enemies will not share.” The Joker willingly allows himself to be captured by Batman knowing that he will be taken into custody unharmed. Once inside the interrogation room, the Joker delivers his punch line that both Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes have been kidnapped and bound in separate warehouses, and Batman must choose which one to save before they are both blown up. Batman chooses Rachel but inadvertently saves Harvey, as the Joker lied about their locations. Rachel dies, and Batman loses his closest friend and love interest. He also fails to “save” Harvey Dent who turns into the madman Two-Face in the aftermath. If Batman had simply executed the Joker earlier when he had the chance, such a loss would have been avoided, but sadly he lacked the “courage to do what is necessary” to defeat evil.

    Worldview

    Another dimension to Batman’s character worth examining is his worldview. The killing of his parents motivates Wayne to transform himself into a crime-fighting superhero to clean up the streets of Gotham. Initially, he is consumed by rage after the release of his parents’ killer and embarks on a seven-year journey of criminality in an attempt to make sense of a corrupt world. His crimes land him in a Bhutanese prison where he is rescued by the League of Shadows, a traditionalist order that trains Bruce to become a member. Under Ra’s al Ghul’s tutelage, he learns to sublimate his rage towards the higher cause of justice and vengeance. Although Wayne objects to their radical vision, the League of Shadows imparts to Wayne a warrior ethos that animates his actions.

    Bruce fights to uphold liberal institutions, but his actions and motivations derive not from his belief in egalitarian morality but rather from a warrior code that is one-part League of Shadows and one-part his own moralistic fabrication. The net result is a warrior code that recalls the spirit of chivalry: protecting the weak, fighting injustice, defending the city. But is also deeply flawed as it perpetuates a corrupt system. Understood in this light, Batman fights for Gotham not because he believes in egalitarian ideals, but because he wants to defeat criminality, the source he perceives as the cause of his parents’ deaths.

    This rejection of equality is openly hinted at in The Dark Knight when Batman impersonators question Batman’s supremacy as sole vigilante: “What gives you the right, what’s the difference between you and me?” to which Batman dismissively responds “I’m not wearing hockey pads.” Bruce Wayne also mocks the lifestyle of our cosmopolitan elites by relying on an outwardly hedonist image of Bruce Wayne who spends his time lavishly drinking and consorting with bimbos as the perfect cover to avoid suspicion in a society that glorifies such vanities as normal. Batman does fight for the system and not against it, but he stands apart from the system, motivated instead by a warrior ethos unbound by society’s rules that make his actions admirable but ultimately frustrating.

    Ra’s al Ghul diagnoses such a warrior ethos that fails to do “what is necessary to defeat evil” as a weakness derived from the denial of the Will. In a scene that appears inspired by Nietzsche, Ra’s al Ghul instructs Wayne on the primacy the Will as they spar on a frozen lake:

    Ra’s al Ghul: Your parents’ death was not your fault.

    [Bruce attacks Ra’s al Ghul with his sword]

    Ra’s al Ghul: It was your father’s.

    [Bruce furiously attacks Ra’s al Ghul, but is easily defeated]

    Ra’s al Ghul: Anger does not change the fact that your father failed to act.

    Bruce Wayne: The man had a gun!

    Ra’s al Ghul: Would that stop you?

    Bruce Wayne: I’ve had training!

    Ra’s al Ghul: The training is nothing! The will is everything!

    [Ra’s al Ghul bests Bruce once again]

    Ra’s al Ghul: The will to act.

    This Nietzschean Will is constantly denied and suppressed by Batman. His failure of the Will is ultimately the most important Right-wing critique offered in Nolan’s films, most strikingly the disasters that follow when Batman captures the Joker instead of executing him. A knight’s moral code of chivalry serves little good for the protection of a system that rejects all the values a chivalric code was meant to uphold. In the end, Batman’s worldview is self-defeating. Wayne can never save Gotham because the corrupt system never changes. Wayne refuses to “become who you are”—the Prince of Gotham, its ruler—and instead believes that lesser men like Harvey Dent should govern the city. A knight can fight against the forces of corruption, but only a king can change the system to end corruption and injustice.

    Villains

    Batman’s denial of the will, makes his character rigid. His belief in Gotham’s institutions denies the heroic nature within him that his villains attempt to bring out.

    The Joker taunts Batman to release the inner beast, to free himself entirely from society’s norms as the Joker has done. He points out that society already considers Batman a freak like him, so why bother following their rules. “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules” the joker says, to live according to one’s Will, to be authentic. Western man has subjugated our Dionysian self to Apollo, always making sure that actions proceed from a reasoned plan, which the Joker delights in destroying. A little chaos is needed to reignite tribal man; he’s just ahead of the curve.

    Similarly, the villain Two-Face who starts out as Harvey Dent, envies Batman’s power. He instructs Bruce Wayne on how the Romans would suspend democracy and appoint an absolute ruler during war, which was considered an honor for the man chosen. Harvey in a sense wishes to be Batman, to take control of the city by force, whereas as Batman would rather be Harvey Dent, who attempts to change society through the system. Two-Face implores Batman to be Gotham’s hero, but Batman shirks from such power. The juxtaposition, as with the Joker, is an explicit call for Batman to use more force, to take control of his city.

    The villains Bane and Ra’s al Ghul of the League of Shadows challenge the very identity of Batman as just and morally good. Both villains rail against Batman’s desire to save Gotham. Batman is not justice but injustice. Gotham must die. It must be destroyed so that it can be reborn anew, cleansed of its decadence. The only justice that can be rendered is Gotham’s reckoning, and by standing in the way, Batman is unjust. In Batman Begins, Wayne describes his vision for Batman as an incorruptible symbol of hope, to inspire people that “good” will win out. In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane ridicules Batman as worse than an empty symbol, a symbol of despair:

    There’s a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth . . . Hope. I learned that there can be no true despair without hope. So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed Its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to stay in the sun.

    Bane is directly challenging Batman’s sole purpose and declaring him not a symbol of justice but of self-delusion and despair. Justice rests upon truth, but Batman would rather perpetuate a lie that Harvey Dent was Gotham’s white knight than tell the truth about his murders because “people will lose hope.” In contrast, Bane’s whole message is about truth, the harsh truth about Gotham as a lost city of decadence and corruption that must be eliminated. Bane reveals the truth about Harvey Dent to the people: “you have been supplied with a false idol to stop you from tearing down this corrupt city.” Batman is thus shown to be a deceiver standing in the way of truth and justice. The League of Shadows show Batman for what he is: a fruitless charade that merely prolongs the decay. Rather than wait out the decay as civilization crumbles, Bane and the League of Shadows accelerate “progress,” allowing democracy to be fully realized by handing over the rule of the city entirely to the people. “Gotham is yours. None shall interfere, do as you please” Bane tells the denizens of Gotham, releasing the masses to consume themselves and tear apart the city as its final destiny.

    This is why Batman’s villains are far more memorable and interesting than Batman himself. They are free to pursue their will, whereas Wayne is trapped in a fool’s game where nothing materially changes, one that the Joker finds irresistibly amusing: “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

    Conclusion

    While recovering in Bane’s prison pit, Batman hallucinates a vision of Ra’s al Ghul. It is a subconscious admission of his failure:

    You, yourself fought the decadence of Gotham for years with all your strength, all your resources, all your moral authority and the only victory you achieved was a lie. Now you understand Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die.

    Even though Wayne rises from the pit to save Gotham one last time, he knows Ra’s al Ghul is right and that he has failed. He can’t let Gotham be destroyed on his watch, so he performs his final deed and then passes the buck to somebody else and leaves the city for good. Wayne is destined for heroic nobility, but he is insincere. He does not remain true to his calling of justice, failing to do what he knows to be right and necessary out of misplaced self-righteousness. He lacks the will to act, the will to power. Maybe one day a truly heroic Batman will emerge, one that uses his superhero abilities to rule the people not serve them.

    Nonetheless, Batman conveys an altogether Right-wing impression that can be admired and appreciated for its traditionalist outlook and approach. The medieval symbolism and imagery, as well as the depiction of righteous violence all invoke important Right-wing attributes concerning masculinity, discipline, and order. Where Batman falters, his villains are there to offer compelling foils and to shed light on the right path to take. The Nolan Trilogy offers a total work of art dedicated to a fascist superhero in need of his King. In the coming ethnostate, we can look forward to a Batman who finds him.

     

     

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    (Review Source)
  • The Order in Action The Dark Knight Rises
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,374 words

    MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ THIS BEFORE SEEING THE MOVIE.

    The Dark Knight Rises is beyond Left and Right, beyond good and evil, beyond any frame of reference that this society can understand. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy closes with a vision of weaponized Traditionalism certain to be misunderstood by movie reviewers and talking heads who think in terms of Republicans versus Democrats. It’s similarly beyond the grasp of fanboys playing compare and contrast with The Avengers or Superman.

    That said, it’s a comic book movie, it’s a blockbuster, and the demands of the medium necessitate that Nolan cannot go all the way. The most interesting characters are, as always, the villains.

    That said, there is something deeply unsettling at the heart of this film, a strange uneasiness that cannot be shaken even after applause fades, the credits roll, and the costumed audience tromps happily into the early morning after a midnight showing. The murder of 12 people [2] at a premiere in Colorado throws a glare on the sickness at the heart of our own society, begs a comparison between the corruption of Gotham and the rot of our own post-America, and forces us to ask, “Is the fire rising?”

    The film is utterly unintelligible without the other films in the trilogy [3]. It begins with Gotham paying tribute to its fallen white knight Harvey Dent, who is remembered as an incorruptible crusader against injustice. The symbol also serves as the justification for Dent Act, which keeps the soldiers of organized crime behind bars without hope for parole. However, the fragile peace of Gotham is based on a lie: Batman accepted the blame for Harvey Dent/Two Face’s killing spree at the end of The Dark Knight. Gotham has stability, but it is the stability of a static and lifeless society, a soft but pervasive repression reminiscent of Brezhnev’s Russia, with an explosion just below the surface.

    The lie has taken its toll on both Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne. Gordon is weary, tired, almost broken by the burden of having to live out the necessary falsehood. His victory over crime is hollow, his usefulness exhausted, and his civilian superiors already planning his replacement. In The Dark Knight, there is an agonizing moment when his wife Barbara is told that he has been killed, followed by a tearful reunion when his necessary deceit is revealed. By the beginning of this film, Barbara has embraced the noble equality offered the gentler sex in our enlightened time and abandoned him, of course taking the children with her. “Manning up” and doing what is necessary to save one’s city and loved ones is ruthlessly punished by modernity, as it always is.

    Wayne, meanwhile, has become a recluse, obsessing over his lost love Rachel Dawes, whom he still believes was waiting for him. His great task of saving Gotham accomplished, Wayne is physically and emotionally crippled. Wayne’s only project is the predictable endeavor of any good Hollywood superhero/tycoon: the pursuit of clean energy. He is assisted by Miranda Tate, a (seemingly) typical liberal do-gooder philanthropist, dreaming of sustainable development, and no doubt, helping the underprivileged, uplifting the oppressed, and doing it all from her drawing room. Unfortunately, Wayne learns that the fusion reactor they were developing could be turned into a weapon, so he shuts the project down, costing Wayne Enterprises millions. As the Joker points out in The Dark Knight, Wayne and Gordon are both “schemers,” trying to “control their little worlds.” As a result, they are trapped by their lies, their fears, and their insecurities.

    One of the first signs that the peace is breaking is the emergence of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman), a cat burglar seething with resentment against the privileged. Contemptuous of Bruce Wayne and other limousine liberals flattering themselves with their own altruism, Kyle seduces and steals from high society as an act of vengeance, but she is actually seeking an escape from her past. She removes a necklace from Bruce Wayne’s safe, but more importantly, steals his fingerprints for an unknown use. While she thinks she is striking back at the decadent rich, she is actually being used as a pawn by a more dangerous and dedicated group with a higher end in mind than class warfare.

    Their leader is Bane, a hulking but brilliant mercenary who was supposedly “excommunicated” from the League of Shadows. Having (literally) built an underground army, Bane’s plans are disrupted when Commissioner Gordon discovers their existence, ending up hospitalized. From his bedside, Gordon pleads for Batman to return. The League of Shadows, which trained Bruce Wayne and in many ways “made” Batman, is the Traditionalist Order headed formerly headed by Ra’s al Ghul. Batman turned on the Order in spectacularly unconvincing fashion in the first film. Why Batman turned on his erstwhile creators remains unanswered in The Dark Knight Rises. Batman merely states that they were a bunch of “psychopaths,” a strange claim coming from a man dominated alternately by childhood fears and long vanished pseudo-girlfriends.

    Recognizing that Bruce is trapped by the past, Alfred reveals that Rachel had chosen Harvey Dent over him and that he had concealed it to spare Bruce pain. Alfred also pleads for Bruce to leave everything behind, pointing out Bane’s obvious skill, strength, and training. Bruce refuses, seemingly hoping for death. Alfred confesses that he never wanted Bruce to come back to Gotham, as there was nothing for him there but pain, and confesses a fantasy of him living abroad, somehow having gotten beyond Gotham City. Alfred tearfully leaves Bruce Wayne’s service, leaving Batman truly alone for the first time.

    After a brief liaison with Miranda Tate, Bruce Wayne uses Selina Kyle to reach Bane, counting on Kyle being more than a mere criminal. He’s wrong. He is betrayed and forced into a confrontation with Bane, who calls him “Mr. Wayne” (to Kyle’s shock). Bane breaks him, defeating him in physical combat and snapping his spine, before throwing him into an open air prison below the earth. Crippled, Bruce Wayne will be forced to watch the suffering of Gotham while being taunted by the promise of freedom above.

    With Batman removed, the League moves with startling swiftness to take over Gotham. A police raid into the sewers to capture Bane’s forces backfires, and the police are trapped en masse below the earth. Bane uses his more materialistic pawns to capture Wayne Enterprises and seize the nuclear device Bruce inadvertently provided, as well as Batman’s arsenal. Bane reveals the bomb’s existence after an attack at a football game. He exposes Batman and Gordon’s lies about Harvey Dent and gives Gotham to “the people,” by freeing the “oppressed” criminals imprisoned by the Dent Act. The result is that Gotham becomes a kind of Paris Commune, with the possessions of the wealthy seized outright and dissidents condemned to death by Dr. Sebastian Crane (Scarecrow), the only villain who appears in all three movies, who returns as a revolutionary hanging judge.

    Commissioner Gordon, fresh from the hospital, tries to rally what resistance he can. He is assisted by John Blake, an officer who has discovered the true secret of Batman’s identity and wants him to return. The few above-ground police fail to win back the city, as an effort to smuggle in Special Forces from outside fails miserably.

    Meanwhile, Batman recovers slowly underground. He learns about the origins of Bane and his connection to the League of Shadows and Ra’s al Ghul. To escape the prison, which only one other person (Bane) has done, he must climb out of the darkness and into the light, as the other trapped prisoners chant “Deshi Basara” (he rises).After several failures, Wayne is told that he can only escape if he climbs without a safety rope – meaning that another mistake will mean certain death. Wayne climbs and escapes, reborn as Batman. After saving Gordon, his fiery emblem announces his return to Gotham. He frees the police, and together Batman and his new army assault Bane’s base of power at City Hall.

    Batman manages to defeat Bane in their rematch, knocking off part of Bane’s mask which delivers a gas that eases his chronic pain. At the moment of Batman’s triumph, Miranda Tate plunges a dagger into him, revealing herself as Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia and the real escapee of the prison. Bane was merely her guardian, who was injured defending her and expelled from the League because of his love for her. Talia attempts to trigger the bomb, but the mechanism has been disabled by Gordon, buying a few moments. She flees in one of the Tumblers (Batmobiles) to guard the bomb. Kyle appears and kills Bane with firepower from the Batpod, and together Batman, Kyle, and Gordon chase down the bomb. Talia is killed, but there is no way to disable the bomb. Thus Batman heroically flies the bomb over the ocean, where it detonates, apparently killing him but saving the city.

    In the aftermath, Gotham memorializes Batman as its true hero. Bruce Wayne is remembered simply as a victim of the class violence. His true identity remains a secret, and most of his assets go to help underprivileged children. John Blake (whose real first name is revealed to be Robin) is given the coordinates of the Batcave in Wayne’s will. Gordon, still Commissioner, finds a new Batsignal on the roof of the police station, suggesting Blake has taken up the mantle of the Batman. A heartbroken Alfred travels overseas. At a café, he suddenly looks up and nods, and the camera reveals Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman, but he is still alive.

    From the perspective of Bruce Wayne, the film has to end as it did. While there were rumors that Batman would be killed off, this “darker” ending would actually have been a cop out. Bruce Wayne’s obsession with the Batman, with Rachel, and his own death wish show that he never learned to put suffering behind him. As Alfred points out, “You see only one end to your journey.” Wayne has the characteristically American attitude that bad things cannot happen to good people, and that suffering is a vast departure from the way things ought to be. As a result, when something bad does happen, he can never move beyond it and becomes brooding and obsessive. The ability of Bruce Wayne to put down the mask and move beyond that Bat is necessary for his character to show growth, in some ways, the first real growth since the death of his parents.

    What Wayne never goes beyond, and the movie never explains, are his continued sacrifices on behalf of Gotham. When Selina Kyle begs him to leave the city, pointing out that he’s “given these people everything,” Batman says, “not everything. Not yet.” But who are these people? At the beginning of the film, when Bruce Wayne is brooding in his lair, he says to Alfred, “There’s nothing for me out there.” Instead of living, he is, in Alfred’s words, “waiting for something bad to happen.” Wayne is so disgusted with Gotham that he can’t even bear to experience the peace he created at such a terrible price. Even his grand victory at the end of the trilogy is moving beyond Gotham, putting down the mantle of the Bat, and abandoning his own identity or anything that could tie him to a place that only brings him tragedy and pain.

    The motives of the so-called villains are more substantial but would seem incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t seen Batman Begins. The most important role of the League of Shadows is to bring “balance” to civilization by destroying the centers of degeneracy when the rot has become too great. Like Constantinople or Rome before it, Gotham’s time has come. While Batman managed to stop Ra’s al Ghul, Bane and Talia have come to finish the job.

    The Dark Knight Rises thus gives us a portrait of an Order in action. In the first scene, when Bane and his comrades seize a nuclear scientist from a CIA flight, Bane orders one of his men to stay behind. Addressing him as “brother,” he explains that the enemy will expect to find at least one of their bodies in the wreckage. Seemingly unaffected, with a beatific smile, the League member asks, “Have we started the fire?” Bane nods and responds [4], “The fire rises” (0:28). Bane habitually executes members who fail and demands (and receives) complete willingness to die from his comrades. “Where do they find such people?” asks one awed observer.

    The first two targets Bane attacks in Gotham are heavy with meaning.

    The first is the stock exchange. As Bane takes control of the trading floor, a stockbroker pleads “There’s no money here, there’s nothing to rob!” Heavy with contempt, Bane responds, “Then why are you here?” After completing the financial takeover of Wayne Enterprises, a non-League member accuses Bane of taking his money but not doing what he wants. Bane responds, “And this means you have power over me?” Realizing for the first time that he is confronting someone who has a higher end than money, the criminal asks “What are you?” prompting the response, “I’m Gotham’s reckoning.” Bane is not in it for money, and the League of Shadows looks with contempt at the vulgar traders and materialistic grubbers that constitute the supposed elite of the city. The League of Shadows is going to pull down the Kali Yuga in Gotham, whatever it takes.

    At the same time, this is no egalitarian rant against “the rich.” The Dark Knight Rises may be the most contemptuous treatment of egalitarianism ever produced on film. Needless to say, what passes for the American Right is not intellectually capable of understanding it, alternately complaining that Bane was created in order to attack Mitt Romney’s finance capital firm or thinking it is a partisan attack on Occupy Wall Street in the name of millionaires like Romney and Bruce Wayne. Instead, The Dark Knight Rises is a direct attack on the idea that people can manage themselves.

    Bane’s second target is a football stadium hosting a pointless spectacle where a mostly white audience lives vicariously by watching mostly non-white players throw and chase a ball. The game begins with the singing of the national anthem, as if Nolan is telling us that pointless distractions are what America is all about today. If the stock exchange was the “bread” of this degenerate society, sports are the “circuses,” and it is significant that Bane decapitates the political leadership of the city by blowing up the mayor’s skybox at a sporting event. Bane takes away the diversions and forces the people to re-engage with History.

    When Bane seizes control of Gotham, he claims that he is coming to “liberate” Gotham and tells the masses to “take control” of their city. He also frees the prisoners on the grounds that they are “oppressed,” all de rigueur left-wing talking points. The result is a complete breakdown of the city, with a criminal lunatic (Crane) serving as the focal point of power. The upper classes are destroyed, and the “people” instantly give themselves over to pointless consumption in a manner more degrading than the most spoiled trust fund baby. When one of Selina Kyle’s erstwhile comrades celebrates that Wayne Manor now belongs to “everyone,” Kyle is disgusted.

    It turns out that Bane and Talia are planning on eventually destroying the entire city with a nuclear bomb anyway. While many conservative commentators claim that this is evidence that Bane (and thus Occupy Wall Street) is motivated by pure evil, the real message is far more subversive. Bane allows the city to live for a few months to show the world what Gotham’s citizens are capable of. Libertarian ideologues and socialist revolutionaries get their chance, as the boot of the state is taken off, and the police are trapped underground. The result is an ugly, starving society ruled by the insane.

    Bane delays destroying Gotham because he wants the world to watch how freedom failed. He gives the city a false hope by letting the people govern themselves, knowing they are not capable of it. This isn’t the conquest of a healthy society – it’s a laboratory experiment where the League of Shadows knows the outcome. A simple killing would be too merciful. The punishment “must be more severe.” Only when the consequences are unmistakable and the corruption has been ripped out by the root will Bane give Gotham permission to die [5]. Liberalism, classical or otherwise, is so self-evidently stupid that Bane gives it free reign knowing that it will fail spectacularly. Even more impressively, Bane and the other members of the League are willing to remain in the city when the bomb detonates, dying so that the corrupt world can be reborn. This is a creed of iron that demands the whole man in order to make him something more.

    Batman is a more severe problem for the League because he is a product of the same Order as Bane, thus he is capable of withstanding his attack. Batman harnesses Traditionalism and the aristocratic (or even fascist) principle to save society from itself. Bane explicitly recognizes this. When Batman fights Bane the first time and uses his usual tricks, Bane comments, “Theatricality and deception are powerful weapons to the uninitiated . . . but we are initiated.” When Batman is broken and left in the darkness, he is symbolically “killed,” only to be reborn after he remakes himself and climbs into the light, a motif familiar to the ceremonies of many fraternal and religious orders. The use of ritualistic incantation is another indication that we are not watching a superhero with magical powers but the product of initiation.

    But to what end? When Batman is recovering from his injuries in the darkness, he has a vision of Ra’s al Ghul who taunts him that after years of complete sacrifice, the most that Bruce Wayne could achieve is a lie. At the end of the movie, once again, this is all that is achieved. Bruce Wayne did not die either as a victim of class warfare or as a hero of Gotham. He fled the city to pal around with Selina Kyle in Florence, enjoying lunches at fashionable restaurants. He cannot bear to live among the people he saved.

    Wayne Manor is turned into a shelter for the children of the slums, postponing the inevitable end that the League was founded to hasten. Batman lives on through Robin John Blake, but the whole point of the trilogy was that Batman was supposed to be a temporary measure until the city could be returned to health and the “normal” system could govern without recourse to masked vigilantes.

    Of course, this is the essential problem with Bruce Wayne’s worldview. The return of the bat signal suggests that the extraordinary will always need to sacrifice themselves for the ordinary. Bane showed the true face of Gotham, but it was saved regardless, and it will continue to be saved by heroes that have to emerge from outside of society. Good men like Gordon are destroyed by the society that produces them, stripped of family and honor. Darker heroes like Batman find they can no longer even live in it. The best solution that can be offered is more charity from the rich, as if a Band-Aid can stanch a sucking chest wound. Batman’s plea to save the city because there are “good” people is a pointless banality reminiscent of Judge Smails [6] from Caddyshack. The League of Shadows presents a radical critique of society, and all Batman tells us is that we have to stand for “goodness” and not “badness.”

    The Batman trilogy poses deep questions about the nature of society, the importance of Radical Traditionalism, and the meaning of heroism. However, ultimately, it can only give the same answer as The Avengers [7]: heroes are heroes precisely because they use their gifts and dedication to safeguard a world that is unworthy of them, preventing any attempts to turn it into something greater. The Kali Yuga rolls on, the corrupt look up and shout “save us!,” and heroes hasten to the call. But the sparks are there, and the conflagration is being prepared.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • World War Z
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    World_War_Z_Poster_3_24_13

    [1]2,662 words

    Why can’t anyone make a decent zombie movie?

    The genre has already reached saturation proportions, is rivaled only by Game of Thrones [2] in fanatical television fandom, and has been endlessly analyzed in both academia and among the Alternative Right [3]. Despite this, most zombie movies are distinguished mostly by their kitsch, incompetence, infantile politics, and terrible production quality. Anyone even casually interested in film thinks they can make a “zombie movie” with a resulting glut of embarrassing efforts that have titles inevitably ending with “of the dead.”

    Thus, horror aficionados had high hopes when Brad Pitt purchased the rights to Max Brooks’s [4]World War Z [4], [4] a startlingly leftist and Jewish supremacist work which nonetheless is worth appreciating as one of the few “zombie” products that can combine an entertaining narrative with a large scale view of the fictional world situation. The book World War Z works because it has something to say (even if it is wrong) and is an alternative to the usual model of following a few uninteresting guys around while ignoring the collapse of civilization. It deserves an ambitious, well-made, and relatively faithful film version to bring Brooks’s vision to the big screen – if only so Traditionalists can condemn it.

    The film World War Z isn’t it. It’s a cynical disaster, a confusing mess that should have been condemned to eternal torment in development hell. Pitt’s vanity project manages to strip everything that made the book original, interesting, and intellectual, and turns it into another run of the mill B movie with a big budget.




    Instead of a documentary set years after the conclusion of the “Z war” chronicling the slow buildup and the Great Panic, we start in the middle of the action. Pitt’s “Gerry Lane” is a former United Nations investigator given cursory character development – he has a wife, two daughters, and by all accounts an idyllic family life enabled by the sacrifice of his globe-trotting career. The family is caught on the ground when the outbreak suddenly hits Philadelphia, and Pitt manages to get them to an RV to escape. Unlike the “classic” walking zombies of Romero’s films and Brooks’s book, these are the animalistic running zombies prominent since 28 Days Later.

    Already, we are in a world that has nothing to do with what Brooks has created, but it’s worth trying to take the film on its own terms. Though it makes no sense why the outbreak would suddenly hit every city in the world at once with apocalyptic violence, let’s accept that for the moment and look at the movie purely as an action film.

    Gerry Lane, though bland, is at least competent and intelligent, allowing us to avoid the usual eye-rolling moments of zombie films when characters blunder into dangerous situations without even the pretense of preparation or caution. Lane at least thinks to build crude guards for vulnerable arms and shins before doing battle. When he gets blood in his mouth, he reacts instantly and runs to the edge of a roof, prepared to kill himself if he is infected and counting down how long the virus “took” another person he saw. It’s about time we saw a character in one of these films who isn’t a complete idiot.

    The imagery is powerful, with sweeping panoramic views of cities in chaos, mobs rampaging through the streets, minor outbreaks of violence amidst the fleeing crowds. However, there’s no sense of tragedy or sadness at the death of millions – it’s just spectacle.




    Still, the film hits a relevant note when the characters (idiotically) flee to Newark, NJ, to await a rescue chopper sent by Lane’s old boss at the United Nations. Newark is a scene of frantic looting – but interestingly, a white character pulls a gun on Lane only so he can ensure Lane is just taking medicine needed for his daughter. After an attempted rape (by whites of course), Pitt is approached by a black Newark police officer – who runs past him to join in the looting. The swift breakdown of civil order and the collapse of institutions is precisely what we saw during Hurricane Katrina [5], when the sole superpower instantly transformed into “Africa in our midst.”

    Lane and his family are welcomed into temporary safety by a Spanish-speaking family in a Newark apartment.

    (Done laughing? Good, we’ll continue.)

    Lane tries to convince them to come with him on the chopper in the morning, but they are terrified and stay behind. Of course, a few seconds after Lane and his family leave, zombies (probably attracted by Lane’s exit) come knocking on the door. There is a thrilling chase as the family makes it to the roof while pursued by the living dead, but somehow the Hispanic family’s young son inexplicably dodges the zombies and joins the Lanes on the chopper. Just like Brad Pitt himself, Gerry Lane has his Third World adoptee, who seems remarkably unconcerned about the zombification of his parents.

    The book emphasized the renewal of national pride and the different cultural approaches different peoples took to confronting the zombie threat. The film strengths the recent trend [6] of a shadowy international elite calling the shots for the benefit of humanity, rather than any national government. The President is dead and the VP is missing. For some reason, Lane’s UN boss, one Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) is aboard a US Navy ship, and the Navy is putting their resources at his disposal, at least initially.

    Lane is tasked to accompany a young virologist and a team of Navy SEALs on a mission to find out the source of the disease, with the first stop at an American military base in South Korea, the source of the first memo that mentioned “zombies.” For once, the Marines don’t seem to be doing anything but standing around on the ship, a rarity in a Hollywood movie [7]. In any event, within about five minutes of arriving in South Korea, the virologist, who had real potential as a character, manages to accidentally shoot himself. Our heroic “war crimes” investigator will save the day and find the truth himself.

    The joint memo from intelligence agents in the CIA and the Mossad was the warning which the world ignored to its cost in the novel. Here, it’s an email which for some reason no one read. Why Pitt needs to go to South Korea to get an email is not explained. Pitt finds a semi-insane CIA agent under lock and key for selling weapons to the North Koreans [8]. The agent explains that North Korea beat the virus by removing all the teeth from their people, an idiotic B movie piece of dialogue far less horrifying than the sinister mystery behind the outright disappearance [9]of the North Korean people [9] in the book. He also reveals that Jurgen Warmbrunn, head of the Mossad, knows what the virus really is, and that Israel is winning. Lane heads to Jerusalem to get some answers.

    In Jerusalem, we get an extended defense of the Jewish people’s paranoia, taken straight from the book. Because of the concentration camps, the Munich terrorist attack, and the Yom Kippur War, the Israelis always take every threat seriously, no matter how unlikely. In a matter of hours, they surround the country with a huge border security wall (amazing how a country can do that when powerful Jews decide it is in their interest [10]) and ever so heroically let in foreign peoples for shelter. We also get some eye candy as the famous Israeli grrl power soldiers [11] flaunt their weaponry.

    Still, why couldn’t the Israelis couldn’t be bothered to send an email or make a phone call warning any other countries about what was coming? (It’s not like they would ever fail to warn an ally [12]in the real world.) But even if the Israelis in this alternative universe decided to be pointlessly secretive, we see other characters using cell phones throughout the movie and even watching television. It doesn’t make sense why Lane had to physically go to Israel to see what he could have learned with a phone call.

    Brooks’s overtly Jewish supremacist book at least confronts the real issues the Jewish state would face if it allowed mass immigration (even if it was to combat zombies). While Israel is relatively free of devastation caused by the undead, the country is ripped apart by a bloody civil war between government forces and religious Jews outraged at the government’s decision to allow Palestinians to return. The Israelis are forced with a tragic choice, and have to live with the consequences.

    Here, the disaster comes when zombies, who for some reason ignore the millions of people living just on the other side of the wall, get excited when Palestinians and other non-Jewish refugees start chanting and singing for no reason (which, after all, Third Worlders are wont to do). The zombies then swarm over the wall, using their numbers to form a kind of human ladder, a giant singular organism in its own right. It’s impressive imagery, but also makes no sense. Apparently, none of the Israelis even bothered to notice the giant swarm climbing up their border security wall until it was too late, when it could have been stopped easily if so much as a single guard had looked. The cordon breached, the zombies run wild through the streets of Israel, as Lane and a female Israeli solider he saved make it out on a Belorussian (?) aircraft.

    Why Belarus? Well, in the original film, the third act of the film was a bloody battle on the streets of Moscow, and presumably it originally took him there. In the original trailer, you can even see Lane asking Warmbrunn how to get into Russia, which the latter describes it as a “black hole.” In the book, Russia becomes a right-wing, theocratic “Holy Russian Empire,” which would have been interesting to see on film.

    Instead, the film stopped production and remade an entirely new Third Act. Lane pulls a Samuel Jackson [13] and fights “zombies on a plane” by throwing a grenade at them, with predictable results. Needless to say, both Lane and his Jewish warrior woman survive the plane crash, with everyone else killed. Luckily, though both are wounded, they easily walk to a World Health Organization building which is conveniently located near their location.

    Once inside, though the doctors have no idea how to stop the plague, Lane remembers that he has seen the zombies avoiding people who may have been sick. He thus suggests that people be deliberately infected with deadly (but curable) diseases as a kind of camouflage. An absurd mission is launched into the “infected” wing of the hospital to obtain supplies, which predictably succeeds. A teeth-chattering zombie, whose comical antics provoked laughter in the theater rather than dread, sniffs at him but lets him pass. Other zombies also ignore him. The “camouflage” works and the world has its first weapon against the living dead.

    Lane closes with an invocation for people to “help each other” and “fight.” But of course, it appears that the hard part is already over – it’s just a question of giving people the vaccines and calling it a day. “Our war is just beginning,” he intones. And though a sequel is already in the making – no, the fight is really not. It’s over, and we survivors are wondering what the hell we just watched.

    There’s a small nod to some of Brooks’s themes near the beginning of the movie – serious news coverage interspersed with worthless celebrities and inane talk shows to show how people were distracted. There’s even a “blink and you miss it” mention of “Grover Carlson,” the evil conservative caricature Brooks lambastes in his book as responsible for the zombie invasion. However, most of the messaging has been utterly stripped from the film.

    The question is why? Why do they insist on doing this? The book of World War Z offered something genuinely new, with the faux documentary setting giving any filmmakers almost unlimited freedom to pick and choose what they wanted to focus on. Instead, it’s just the same old empty spectacle – and not a very impressive one at that.

    What remains are three consistently worrying messages that seem to popping up in movies repeatedly, even though they are only suggested rather than stated explicitly.

    The first is the superiority of shadowy international elites in solving major crises. Brooks’s World War Z at least suggested a kind of retro World War II-style American patriotism – Pitt’s version dispenses with this altogether. The hero is essentially a professional UN do-gooder who “investigates” things like “war crimes in Chechnya” and his powerful supporter is an African UN Undersecretary of some kind.

    Though there’s a small shot of documents like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence being secured aboard the naval ship, the American military doesn’t seem to be doing much or reporting to anyone. Just before Lane’s family is informed they are being shipped off to a refugee camp because Lane is presumed dead, there is a shot of the American flag flying above a smaller UN flag, as if to tell the audience that the reactionary militarists are in charge and aren’t listening to the wise people of color and international elites.

    Secondly, there is the utter helplessness of Americans and people in general and their dependence on benevolent leaders to save them. While Brooks’s work critiqued survivalism, he at least admitted it was possible and that Americans were more likely to do it than anyone else. More than that, the book is filled with stories about ordinary people carving out areas of their own so they can survive. In the film, both zombies and humans are just cattle, either killing or being killed until the UN can tell them what to do.

    Admittedly, part of this is a function of the story, as the zombies run in this version. Still, as in The Avengers, Man of Steel, the Batman movies, and many others, the only heroes either have extraordinary powers (with Batman himself a partial exception) or are government officials of some kind. Insofar as ordinary people have heroism, it is of the weak, self-sacrificial kind like the Hispanic family welcoming in the Lanes and later paying for it with their lives. As American elite opinion mobilizes against guns [14], self-government, and the republican ideal of self-sufficiency, we can expect further portrayals of Americans as nothing more than cattle. Of course, most Americans are – but that’s because cattle are bred that way by the people who control them.

    Finally, there is the portrayal of the Chosen as uniquely wise and virtuous. Israel alone initially survives the outbreak and is only doomed because of the foolish behavior of Palestinians whooping it up and waving their flags. The Israelis are so enlightened that they even let in foreigners in order to protect them, but, once again, they suffer a tragic fate because of their innate goodness. The demise of Israel through the animalistic mob of foreigners pouring over the border fence is a powerful suggestive image. Ask yourself – could Pitt have made a movie where the American Border Patrol desperately guns down infected Mexicans swarming over a newly built protective fence?

    With foxy IDF soldiers and enlightened political leadership, Israel comes off far better than any other country in the film. Who could have predicted that?

    What a missed opportunity. What a disappointment. But what’s worse than the sub-par showing is the feeling of déjà vu, this increasing sense that all the “spectacle” summer movies are blending into one plot, with the same suggested themes over and over again. It’s almost like they are conditioning us. As you leave the theater, walk into the shopping mall, and stare at the vacant eyes of your countrymen, you realize that the zombies are already among us. The only difference is that most of the ones we see every day are too fat to run.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Manos Redivivus: “The Master is Gone, But He is With Us Always”
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]6,627 words

    Manos: The Hands of Fate – Restored Edition [2]
    Written and Directed by Harold P. Warren
    Restoration Producer: Ben Solovey
    Synapse Studios, 2015

    “Why is he sleeping on a pile of dirt?”
    “This movie has deep philosophical significance.”
    “What about the beer bottles?”
    “Oh . . .”[1] 

    Well, here it is: the bottom of the bottomless barrel,[2] the worst of the worst — the loathed[3] and legendary Worst Movie of All Time: Manos, the Hands of Fate.[4] Comes now this two-disc version, on DVD and Blu-Ray, that surely must be considered definitive.[5] And there’s nothing in all this restoration and commentary that comes close to in any way challenging the film’s reputation.[6]

    But why? Why this film of all films?[7] Other films certainly have their own urgent, unique claims.

    It’s not like there are no other candidates, even within the somewhat arbitrary universe of “movies I saw on Mystery Science Theater 3000.” For example,[8] The Crawling Terror shares Manos’ origins in a bet (that the director could make a scary movie just like those guys in Hollywood), casting of the director in a starring role (though under the pseudonym, “Vic Savage,”), entirely overdubbed soundtrack (the original having been lost, supposedly, in Lake Mead), and above all, arguably the worst cinematography in history — some shots are so over-exposed that the screen is almost entirely white, making Manos, even in its unrestored state, seem like a Technicolor blockbuster.

    Other films share the incompetent filmmaking but go one better in post-production. Monster A Go-Go and The Dead Talk Back also dispense, for whatever reason, with sound sync, in favor of narrators; but the first was never even finished (Bill Rebane sold the remains to schlockmeister Herschel Gordon Lewis, who patched in new scenes, using some but not all of the original actors[9]), while Dead, finished, sat on a film lab shelve from 1957 to 1997 when it was discovered and shipped directly to Mystery Science Theater. Both movies also share the supremely irritating trait of cheating the ending: “There was no monster,” the narrator sternly informs us, and, as Tom Servo exclaims, “Hey, the dead never talked back!”

    The attentive reader will have noted that so far all these movies (one hesitates to call them “films”) are of the sci-fi/horror genres. It’s true that these genres, much to the chagrin of their fans, do tend to produce a lot of junk.[10] Or it may be, that their fans are seriously devoted enough[11] to demand a high level of performance to match the seriousness of the theme, making the gap between aim and achievement more visible, and risible, than in, say, a failed Hollywood rom-com like Gigli.[12]

    But it can happen elsewhere: take The Wild World of Batwoman, where the sci-fi elements (a superheroine with no particular abilities or fashion sense, a mad scientist whose role is realized mainly through splicing in scenes form The Mole People and a Mexican wrestling movie) are combined with an apparently[13] deliberate attempt at “comedy” or satire of some kind; the gap here produces 80 minutes of continuous douche chills.[14]

    Douche chills, however, will keep you awake. Just as its craggy non-actors have “broken the face barrier,” The Starfighters is easily the most boring, sleep-inducing movie ever made.[15] Designed, apparently (more research is needed on this), to convince NATO that the F-104 Starfighter was worthy of purchase, despite a comically deadly accident record,[16] its combination of stock footage and non-actors [17] creates a cinematic black hole.

    “It’s like they forgot to have things happen.”

    “I really think there’s more nothing in this movie than any we’ve ever seen.”[18]

    “Nothing,” however, can only remind us of the final challenger to Manos, the first entry in the Coleman Francis Trilogy (the Godfather Saga of bad films), The Beast of Yucca Flats.

    “About the most nothing film I’ve seen . . . little more than a home movie someone might make.” (Bob Burns, “film historian and erstwhile movie gorilla”).

    “An incredibly deadening experience” (Larry Blamire, B-movie director)

    “Before this movie, there was no such thing as clinical depression.” (Tom Servo, robot)[19]

    And yet . . .

    Bad as it is, Beast does edge out Manos, if only on points.

    Beast’s narration has its own Dadaist charms.[20] The cinematography is really rather good; although this was cameraman Lee Strosnider’s first chance to film 16mm, he had just come form several years making industrial films, while Hal Warren came straight from industry — fertilizer, in fact — and was actually using little more than a home movie camera.[21] Larry Blamire comments on the “heartbreaking” quality of the shots of the Flannery O’Connor-esque mother wandering around looking for her lost boys, and Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank”) refers to the “dark kind of lyricism” seen in the next film, The Skydivers (although, as he admits, no one else agrees).

    And that’s the main reason: Beast is part of a trilogy, and needs to be judged as such.[22] Above all, it’s only in the context of the three films together that the elements of repetition and futility emerge which make Francis’s work the mythological masterpiece that it is.[23]

    Repetition and masterpiece: that brings us to Manos. If you’ve read this far, you likely know the “plot,” which has been summarized as [3]:

    The peculiarly-paced story of a deeply uncharismatic man (director Warren) taking his wife Margaret (Diane Mahree) and daughter Debbie (Jackey Neyman) on a vacation that runs afoul of a cult led by the plurally-married Master (Tom Neyman) and his jittery, big-kneed manservant Torgo (John Reynolds).[24]

    So why does anyone care about this cinematic turd, and why care about polishing it? Why any “bad” movie? Consider this:

    In attempting to explain the film’s appeal, the Los Angeles Times hypothesized, “After screening Manos for probably the 10th time, I’ve concluded it has to do with intimacy. Because it is such a pure slice of Warren’s brain — he wrote, directed, produced and starred, and brooked no collaboration — Manos amounts to the man’s cinematically transfigured subconscious.”[25]

    But I, at least, am not interested in some Judaic pseudo-science like “psychoanalysis,” but rather in the super-science of Traditional metaphysics.[26] As Luis Varady has recently pointed out, the ancient wise men may have lack our physics and astronomy, but since they had the ancient teaching that “As above, so below,” the Microcosm is the Macrocosm . . .

    All things mirror all things and to fully understand even a small fragment of reality gives an insight into reality as a whole — this is a common teaching in the mystical traditions of the world.[27

    . . . they could learn the deeper truths about reality by studying their own consciousness, the results of which study they encoded in stories we call “myths.”

    Cosmological myths were used as a means to convey spiritual truths, and these spiritual truths pointed directly at the true nature of our psychology.

    And so:

    It is not the reasonableness or likelihood of a myth that attracts human beings to it. Rather, a myth’s attraction is its potential ability to convey spiritual or moral truths to every member of society, from the most intellectual to the illiterate.[28]

    In the same way, it is not the “reasonableness or likelihood” of a movie — the myths of the 20th century — that explains their appeal, but their “potential ability to convey spiritual or moral truths to every member of society.” Antd this potential is stronger in bad movies, which lack the pseudo-intellectual “sophistication” of the “quality production,” which is usually just a big budget rehash of Judaic PC-ideology, instead, most often accidentally, flying under the radar of both the director’s consciousness and industry censorship.[29]

    Furthermore, that “bad” movies should be the focus of attention makes sense, since humans have an odd relationship with truth, especially metaphysical truths about themselves and their situation: they crave it, yet fear and loathe it at the same time.

    And this, I think, is the key to the “bad film”: it sounds themes we suspect are true and important, but which we don’t want to admit; hence, we mock it, as the Roman soldiers and crucified thief mocked Christ. “It’s only a movie, and a bad one at that.”

    Writing about the Gnostics, and why they lost out to the “orthodox” Christians, Michael Hoffman writes:

    Why did people embrace childish lower-level Christianity (i.e., literal interpretation of the myths)?

    People were starting to shy away from some of the painful truths revealed in the mysteries. They had mixed feelings about being mere puppets of gods/fates.[30]

    The scriptures offered a choice between supernaturalist Literalism that takes pseudo-history as reality, and allegorical myth that reveals determinism — most people chose to stay in the supernaturalist reading.

    If some Michael,[31] Captain of the Deterministic Angels were to actually do as the New Testament prophecies and reveal the Christian mystery of God’s kingdom, and this kingdom turns out to be entheogenic Christ-myth determinism, and “eternal” life is experienced only during this life, most people would plug their ears.

    What use is a mere revelation of the metaphysical truth about moral agency, especially when such a revelation robs us of infinitely open possibilities and puts strict limitations on the types of freedom we can have? This is the already famous red pill versus blue pill choice from the movie The Matrix: would you rather slumber in often-comfortable fantasy or awaken to often-uncomfortable truth? Do you want the bliss of fantastic, uncritical, wishful thinking, or the sober intellectual satisfaction of high rational integrity?

    If you could resolve your metaphysical intellectual discomfort by waking up to deterministic consistency, would you want to?

    If God’s kingdom is deterministic, we don’t want it. It is no wonder the quantum physicists rejected (by fiat) finite, hidden-variables determinism and insisted on the endless magic of Copenhagenism instead. It is no wonder people chose the psychologically open-ended Literalist reading of Christianity rather than moving on to let the mystery of the deterministic kingdom of God be revealed.

    And, on a not-unimportant related point, boredom induction conduces to transmission of spiritual truth and ultimately to enlightenment, or at least, cultic membership.

    What is this mythological or metaphysical element that is feared by the masses? As already hinted, and as you might suspect from what you’ve heard about the movie, or seen yourself, it’s repetition. Obviously, the movie is about Fate, but specifically, in the words of the title of one of the soundtrack cues, “The Futility of Fate.”[32] Life here in the material world, on the samsaric plane, is an endless, horizontal round, a Circle, of the same, karma-induced events over and over; liberation/salvation/enlightenment is a matter of tossing aside karma (what I’ve called “passing the buck” and ascending vertically, via a Spiral (a Turn of the Screw), to a new level.[33]

    The cyclical nature of Manos’s plot is actually fairly common, even as a screenwriting technique. What raises Manos to its unique status are the ways in which Manos, deliberately or not, takes it up to eleven [4].

    The most notable, and perhaps the one “feature” that most everyone focuses on to explain the Manos Experience, is the extreme level of repetition in the dialogue, thus making it of a piece with the cyclical nature of the plot.

    Torgo: There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon. There is no way out of here.

    Torgo: He has left this world. But he is with us always. No matter where he goes, he is with us.

    Torgo: There is nothing to fear, Madam. The Master likes you. Nothing will happen to you. He likes you.

    Maggie: Likes me? I thought you said he was dead!

    Torgo: Dead? No, Madam, not dead the way you know it. He is with us always. Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always.

    And my personal favorite, Michael and Maggie’s rather philosophical — or fatalistic — duet in response to his daughter’s dog’s disappearance:

    Maggie: Pepe’s gone. I just hope Debbie will understand.

    Mike: She’ll understand. She’s my baby, she’ll understand.

    Maggie: I hope so, darling. I sure hope so.

    Mike: She’s my baby, she’ll understand.

    It’s like listening to Charlie Parker jam with Lester Young!

    Further increasing the echo-effect is the soundtrack, which, as mentioned before, is entirely post-production. For various reasons, only two men and one woman were available, so the characters’ voices quickly become indistinguishable,[34] and the child’s voice, clearly a woman’s falsetto, achieves a Brechtian level of alienation.[35] This kind of “dubbing” leads to the “doubling” I’ve frequently pointed out in films with mythological subtexts.[36]

    Most of the repetitive dialogue belongs to audience favorite Torgo, who also acquires the equally beloved and repetitive Torgo’s theme [5], which sums up the movie rather like some big Hollywood themes like those of Gone with the Wind or A Summer Place.

    And mentioning Torgo leads us to the second theme: who passes the buck? Certainly not Michael, who we see at the very end, has replaced Torgo, even (of course) repeating his lines:

    Michael: “I am Michael. I take care[37] of the place[38] while the Master is away.”

    No, surprisingly enough, it is Torgo who passes the buck to Michael. Yet, how can this be?[39] Torgo, when last seen, was running away, his coat sleeve aflame, while The Master held his burning, amputated hand aloft, laughing like a Bond villain.

    But that’s just the point: Torgo gets away. The obvious fakery of the burning hand suggests that there has been some kind of magic trick, on one or both their parts.

    First Wife: You are losing your control. Even Torgo defies you.

    This also makes sense of the odd moment right before, where the Master commands his wives to kill Torgo (or rather, in the Manos idiom, “Kill! . . . Kill!) and they proceed to enact a kind of “liturgical dance” (MST3k) that culminates in what looks like an attempt to kill through . . . massage. It’s all fake, a set-up.

    And finally, one can see, as Torgo is rolfed to death, that his hat has a large hole in the crown, alluding to the Traditional symbol of the vertical path of escape, like smoke through a the top of a teepee.[40]

    Or perhaps the hand, the symbolism of which is surely a displacement for the phallus, is sacrificed to the god Manos? Or is it the equivalent of the eye, which Wotan sacrifices for wisdom?[41]

    No one knows, or more significantly, no one seems to be curious about, what seems to me to be the most curious aspect of the whole production, the bizarre and unique hand symbolism[42] that permeates the film, from the title onward.[43]

    Presumably, our Freudian friends will suggest this is a phallic symbol. Actually, the “hands” in question, starting with Torgo’s staff, are usually upright, at the ends of arm-like structures, suggesting not so much hands as fists.[44] In any event, the symbolism seems muddled here; the vertical staff should symbolize escape or “upright” in the sense of virile and “upstanding,” as Evola says in The Hermetic Tradition;[45] yet both Michael and the First Wife are tied to upright poles or trees, and subsequently are vanquished, while Torgo is forced to lie on a horizontal slab during his tickle-torture, and triumphs.

    The symbolism is much clearer with a related theme: As Jackey Neyman (“Debbie”) points out with remarkable insight, her character is always falling asleep on the couch, and the family members are always falling down — i.e., falling horizontally into samsara. But, she adds, Torgo never falls down, despite his unforgettable stumbling walk.[46]

    Even the MST3k crew intuits this, observing that “Torgo wobbles but he won’t fall down.” The wobble/hand symbolisms come together when the Master once more spreads his arms to disclose the giant hands embroidered on the inside of his robe,[47] and the crew suggests “Push him over!” Ultimately, this is what happens; the “Master” returns to his suspended, samsaric state, while Torgo makes a break for it. Michael and his family, attempting to escape, ultimately decide to return to the house (I guess on the principle of “they’d never think to look for us there!”), a horizontal trek that leads us back to the beginning, again.[48]

    The idea that Torgo is the hero, or at least the protagonist, is not that forced. The featurette notes that the original (and only) review of the film, in the El Paso Daily Post, already referred to Torgo as “the hero.” The character of Torgo, along with his “haunting theme music” immediately piqued the imagination of the MST3k crew, who incorporated Torgo into their cast of recurring characters (played by head writer Mike Nelson, who would eventually replace Joel Hodgson as the human host). The 2008 making-of documentary is entitled Hotel Torgo. And as recently as March of this year,

    The murderers on the Elementary [6] episode “T-Bone And The Iceman [7]” used the physical features of Torgo (portrayed by John Reynolds) to compose a fake facial composite to get the NYPD off their trail. It worked for a while before they were caught, due to the character of Dr. Joan Watson having recognized Torgo’s features from the film.[49]

    What, then, of this restored edition? What was the condition of the earliest cut of the film, the so-called “workprint”; was the film always this hard to watch? Apparently not.

    The trick about the cost-efficient on 16mm Ektachrome reversal film on which Manos was shot is that there was never a negative: when the film from the camera was developed, what resulted was the actual picture, not a negative thereof. That developed film was then duplicated for editing, eventually being assembled into the workprint that Solovey now possessed. It’s a minor miracle that the workprint survived not only standard disposal, but also the 1994 Northridge Earthquake which (according to Emersons) destroyed all the other extant Manos materials. And it’s pretty, too, thanks to the inherent hardiness of Ektachrome material.

    The few audiences that saw Manos at the time certainly didn’t get to see anything as spiffy as the workprint. Once editing was complete, a 35mm blowup was made — making the picture twice as grainy — and prints for theaters were copied from that blowup. Not a single fuck was given about framing or color by the people who made those prints, resulting in a badly cropped picture with much of the color drained out. When the film hit VHS decades later, it was based on the horrible theatrical prints, and of course VHS is not exactly an archival format, so it made the picture look that much worse.

    Although the result is better than anything seen by audiences in 1966, Solovey, in the restoration featurette, is adamant that the idea was not to “upgrade” the film into contemporary quality, in sound or vision, but to strip away accumulated dust, fingerprints, splices, etc., and return it to what was originally on the editing bench.

    What we have here, then, is rather like the “historically informed performance practice” movement (misleadingly mislabeled “authentic practice”) that aims not at a metaphysically impossible and aesthetically irrelevant attempt to “hear what the music sounded like back then” but rather to strip away centuries of acquired interpretations so that we can form our own interpretation of the work itself.[50]

    So, how does the “restored” version differ from the theatrical version (included, dubbed the “Grindhouse” cut, on the Blu-ray two-disc set only) which was used on MST3k, and is available on numerous cheap DVDs (it’s in the public domain[51]) other than in presentation?

    Most notably, the infamous opening, a long, infinitely boring sequence of the family just driving along the highway (“The slowest car chase ever”—MST3k). The story is that this was supposed to have the opening credits superimposed, but for whatever reason — money, competence, or patience — it was never done. The non-MST DVD’s I’ve seen just lop it off, and start with a simple title shot.[52] The restoration keeps all this footage, but starts with some establishing shots (including an appropriate “Waste” container) of the Mordor-like surroundings of the director’s native El Paso (“Welcome to lovely Ground Zero” Joel says of a later “scenic” background, eerily foreshadowing 9/11).[53]

    There’s also the aforementioned sequence in which the Master taunts, slaps, and smears blood on his tied-up first wife. Otherwise, individual shots seem to sometime be slightly longer. Some sequences, like the family’s escape attempt, have more shots included, the voices better synced; I suppose over time the theatrical release was subject innumerable cuts and splices, either to speed it up [!] for TV viewing or due to accidental damage.

    There’s nothing in all this that comes close to in any way challenging the film’s reputation, for good or bad.[54]

    In the featurette “Restoring the Hands of Fate,” although he likes to use the word “schmutz” a lot, restorationist Solovey presents as an almost aggressively Aryan type in appearance, modest and plain spoken. He is a very trustworthy and pleasant person to listen to, considering the types one runs across in the film world.[55] He takes obvious pride in in speaking of the fine German scanner he managed to obtain for the task, and the amateur viewer tends to believe what he says about the difficulties and decisions involved in the restoration process.

    Solovey ultimately makes a very important point: movies, a 20th-century invention, must be preserved, since so much of our history is now in them.[56]

    Speaking of history: one tends to think of productions like Manos as being in some sense auteur productions, for better or worse,[57] and so most attention has been focused on writer/producer/director/star Hal Warren. One thing that emerges from the “Hands: The Fate of Manos” featurette is that Tom Nyman, who played The Master, may have had far more influence on the film, providing, as he says with ironic modesty, “everything”: he contributed his own daughter as the daughter, his dog is the dog, his car as one of the two cars (he’s not sure which at this point), and as “production designer” he designed all the costumes (which were sewn by his wife, except for Torgo’s overalls, coat, and hat, which were Tom’s own) and above all, the set decorations: all those hands. Turns out, he had already sculpted dozens of such things (“His art was going through a period of fascination with hands” says Solovey, deadpan). Indeed, “One day I suggested we just call it Manos: The Hands of Fate.”

    Graciously, Tom adds that Warren “was involved in everything on the film,” And on that note, the featurette ends with Neyman, still photographer Anslem Spring (a German soldier who was hiding out — I mean, living in — El Paso), and Solovey paying homage to Warren as the kind of DIY culture-creator I’ve lauded before; Neyman emphasizes that Warren knew he was making a B-picture (if only!) with local community theater talent, but thought it would serve as “the start of something big.” Solovey even attributes to Warren the start of “the kind of independent, self-financed” filmmaking we’ve become familiar with since, say, Easy Rider (made around the time and place of Manos).

    Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the restoration process itself is an instance of the same kind of “hey, let’s make a movie” American can-do-ism as the movie itself — although, one must add immediately, on a far more successful level.

    Finally, the audio commentary track brings us the Neymans reminiscing about the production; rather than a couple of film nerds one-upping each other with trivia, it’s more like eavesdropping on a father and daughter still closely knit after all these years. Who knew Manos could be heartwarming?[58] [8]

    So, buy or not buy? Neophytes[59] should start with the MST3k’d version; it was available as a single disc from Rhino back in the day, now out of print, and currently Shout! Factory has a two-disc release, with the theatrical release and MST3k-centric special features.

    Once — if — you decide to experience it firsthand, this set is the way to go. It makes for a far more “pleasant” viewing experience, if that word can ever be used in the context of Manos, and, to paraphrase Tolkien, those who approve of courtesy (at least) to long dead Texas fertilizer salesman will purchase it, and no other.

    Notes

    [1] Jackey and Tom Neyman, commentary track.

    [2] “Coleman Francis is at the bottom of the barrel that’s beneath the one Ed Wood is in.” — Larry Blamire, interviewed in “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece,” a featurette on the DVD version of the MST3k episode Beast of Yucca Flats.

    [3] “Oh Joel, there’s a plethora of loathsomeness,” says Crow T. Robot as the end credits begin to roll.

    [4] According to Wikipedia: “Manos holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 11 reviews. The book Hollywood’s Most Wanted lists Manos as the #2 in the list of “The Worst Movies Ever Made,” following Plan 9 from Outer Space [9]. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed Manos “The Worst Movie Ever Made.” The scene in which the seven-year-old Debbie is dressed as one of the Master’s wives was included in a list of “The Most Disgusting Things We’ve Ever Seen” by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew.”

    [5] New 2K restoration; audio commentary; Hands: The Fate of MANOS Featurette; Restoring the Hands of Fate Featurette; FELT: The Puppet Hands of Fate Featurette; Manos: The Hands of Fate: Grindhouse Edition (Blu-ray only).

    [6] “Will I have a bad rep?” is a line suggested by Tom Servo as the teenage girl in Manos confronts the highway cops.

    [7] “But why? What’s the difference between 17 and 20?” demands the teenage boy in the educational short “Are You Ready for Marriage?”

    [8] I discuss these films, briefly, at the end of my “Essential Films . . . & Others,” here [10].

    [9] “This is like an entirely different movie” Joel says in stunned amazement during Episode 421; unfortunately, the new movie is just as bad.

    [10] Lovecraft, of course, was a frequent and rigorous critic of this fellow “authors,” while for sci-fi, the legendary Theodore Sturgeon defensively formulated his well-known Law, or Revelation [11], “90% of everything is crap.”

    [11] The stereotypical “nerd,” demanding to know why dome detail was changed, and proclaiming, like the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, “worst [blank] ever.”

    [12] Patton Oswald, apparently an MST3k fan (he moderates a couple of Comic Con MST3k panels that appear on the DVDs) has a bit where he fills in the blanks on the typical movie preview “From the director of BLANK and the star of BLANK, comes BLANK” with various flatulent noises. See Gregory Hood’s Counter-Currents review of Oswald’s implicitly White “black comedy” Big Fan here [12].

    [13] Directors frequently insist, like Martin Short’s Nathan Thurm [13] character, that of course, they were actually trying to be funny, why would you think otherwise? For example, Lewis insisted that whatever Rebane thought he was doing, he, Lewis, at least knew it was crap and tried to turn it into a Twilight Zone parody. As Mad magazine told us long ago (to the tune of “The Rain in Spain”), “An ad that’s bad will wind up spoofed in Mad.” As a further turn of the screw, directors began sending their own recent but unknown films to MST3k in hopes of generating enough “so bad it’s good” buzz to pump up home video sales or even, as with Hobgoblins, finance a sequel.

    [14] Angels’ Revenge, a Charlie’s Angels rip-off, has the same effect, not only humiliating TV sitcom legends like Alan Hale, Jr,. Jim Backus and Pat Buttram, but also dragging in the declining Peter Lawford and even Jack Palance, pre-Batman and pre-Oscar™ .

    [15] In color, at least. Radar Secret Service (1950), with its washed out, grey print, grey men and grey clothing and vehicles, takes the black and white title, employing what MST3k calls “sleep-induction through hypno-helio-static-stasis” (Episode 620).

    [16] The movie’s base commander proudly says “it’s even been called a rocket with a man in it,” but in the real world it was known as “The Brick with Wings” and “The Widowmaker.” Ten years later, Robert Calvert of Hawkwind would record a “satirical concept album” based on the Luftwaffe’s experience with the plane: Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters (UA, 1974) Musicians who appeared on the album include members of Hawkwind [14], The Pink Fairies [15], Brian Eno [16], Arthur Brown [17], Jim Capaldi [18], and Adrian Wagner. See the Wikipedia entry here. [19]

    [17] As the gang says about The Skydivers, Episode 609, rather than have the actors do their own flying, they had the flyers do their own acting.

    [18] MST3k, Episode 620.

    [19] All from the DVD extra “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece.”

    [20] “I thought I was listening to Spoon River Anthology performed by atomic mutants.” — Larry Blamire.

    [21] The MST DVD includes not only extensive contributions from Strosnider in the “making of” featurette — “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece” — he also gets his own interview segment, “Coleman Francis: The Cinematic Poet of Parking.”

    [ [20]22] Of a gunfight from ten feet away, after a careful, lovingly drawn out parking sequence, Crow remarks that “He’s trying things here he’ll perfect in Red Zone Cuba.”

    [23] As will be shown in my forthcoming essay, “Footprints on the Wasteland: The White Apocalypse of Coleman Francis.” Starfighters goes perhaps too far in the direction of entropy; the absence of “things happening” entails, of course, an inability to suggest the endless repetition of things. There is, however, the endless, repeated “refueling” stock footage, a lame practical joke that occurs twice (and actors so generic as to prompt the comment “Is that that one guy?”) as well stock footage of take-offs/landings; the latter perhaps suggest the puppet theme as well, although, since the emphasis is on how gosh darn safe the F-104 is, there’s only one bailout, and it’s off camera. Francis’s Skydivers (note the linguistic similarity) will by contrast be entire constructed of planes taking off and landing, and the eponymous skydivers diving, with the later a combination of stock footage and close-up shots of the actors hanging from harnesses in a warehouse.

    [24] “Manos: The Hands of Fate Restored — The So-Called “Worst Movie” Has Never Looked Better,” by Sherilyn Connelly on The Robot’s Voice, March 14, 2014, here [3].

    [25] Wikipedia, quoting Dan Neil, “Why We Love Bad Movies,” Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2005.

    [26] Let’s get the “psychology” out of the way. Judging from the recollections of the actresses in the “making of” featurette, Hal Warren seems to have been the usual horndog/control freak typical of the males of the Mad Man era: suggesting an actress take off her blouse, then quickly retreating to “just joking” when she refuses; entering the same actress in the Miss Texas contest without her knowledge, a publicity stunt that backfires when tells the judges that she’s an atheist, etc. This is clearly manifested in the film in three sequences: the infamous nightgown wrestling of the Master’s wives (the MST crew suggest “this is why the film was made”); the scene where one of the wives sees the husband/director unconscious and tied to a tree, whereupon she begins to kiss him, lick his face, and then slap him (as Tom Neyman says on the commentary track, “Sure, it’s what every woman wants); and a scene cut from the MST version, in which the Master slaps his own tied up wife. Misogynistic, yes, but too amateurishly made to be either erotic or disturbing. Hal Warren though had nothing on the director of the above-mentioned The Creeping Terror, the Bob Crane-like Vic Savage, who “makes Ed Wood look like Ward Cleaver” according to the recent bioflick, The Creep Behind the Camera [21] (Peter Scheurman, 2014).

    [27] “To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.” — Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.

    [28] Luis Varady: The Wisdom of the Serpent: The Gnostic Trinity of the Peratae (Amazon Kindle, 2015). For more on Varady, see “Lords of the Visible World: A Modern Reconstruction of an Ancient Heresy,” my review of his earlier essay A Life Beyond Change: The Gnostic System of Carpocrates (Amazon Kindle, 2015).

    [29] See my discussion of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, whose PC-anti-anti-communism intentions were subverted precisely because the screenwriter “had contempt for the material” and “wrote it fast, on autopilot,” thus allowing Traditional themes to emerge. “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as a Lovecraftian Tale,” reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

    [30] How appropriate, then, that included with the Restored Edition as a special feature is FELT: The Puppet Hands of Fate, a retelling of the Manos story — one is tempted to say, the Manos myth — with puppets.

    [31] Michael, of course, is our “protagonist,” but apart from the aforementioned lack of charisma, I will soon suggest our “hero” is someone else.

    [32] Oh, and the soundtrack, the kind of laid-back jazz noodling that older guys like Warren still thought was “cool” back in the early sixties, and which I, growing increasingly fogey-ish, have lately grown fond of, calling to mind as it does long summer afternoons, light rain, and the soothing tones of Jessica Walter asking Clint Eastwood to play “Misty” for her. Although Coleman Francis mainly used free “library” music, The Skydivers has two interesting exceptions: a brief excerpt from Lionel Hampton’s “Going Home” (prompting Tom Servo to whine “Dad, change the station!”) and, by contrast, an appearance by then-famous surf guitarist Jimmy Bryant playing his then-hit, “Stratosphere Boogie.” “The jazz-centric score for Hal Warren’s horror “Master”-piece is forthcoming from Brooklyn’s own Ship to Shore Phono Co. The company sourced its audio from the 35mm soundtrack negative that was created for making theatrical release prints. The master tapes have never surfaced, thus leaving this 35mm neg as the closest one can get to the original recorded material. The company is offering three vinyl variants that will total a press run of 2000 LPs. Expected release date is the end of this month. More info about MANOS and how to buy the different vinyl color editions is here [22].” — Manos: The Hands of Fate screening & soundtrack premiere in Brooklyn on Oct. 7th!” here [23]. Check out the soundtrack LP here [24]: “Utilizing sparse, jazzy arrangements, Robert Smith, Jr. [25] and Russ Huddleston [26]’s score evokes the same bizarre, yet oddly compelling, feelings that fans of the film know and love.”

    [33] See the essays reprinted in The Eldritch Evola, as well as my forthcoming collection, Passing the Buck: a Traditionalist Goes to the Movies, which will include “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1 [27]“ and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2 [28].”

    [34] “Hey, that’s just one guy!” mutters Joel in muted wonder.

    [35] The poor child burst out in tears on hearing her “voice” during the premiere showing.

    [36] For example, in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables; see my review reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    [37] In the first act, Michael, typically, shouted “Where the hell is that caretaker?” This is the only time Torgo is referenced as “The Caretaker.” Michael’s transformation at the end recalls — or rather, predates — Jack Torrance’s in The Shining. “You have always been the caretaker.”

    [38] “In dwelling upon the nature of God and the universe, the mystics of the Talmudic period asserted, in contrast to the transcendentalism evident in some parts of the Bible, that “God is the dwelling-place of the universe; but the universe is not the dwelling-place of God”. Possibly the designation (“place”) for God, so frequently found in Talmudic-Midrashic literature, is due to this conception, just as Philo, in commenting on Genesis 28:11 says, “God is called ha makom (המקום “the place”) because God encloses the universe, but is Himself not enclosed by anything” (De Somniis, i. 11).” — Wikipedia, here [29].

    [39] “How can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!” — Dune. If this were MST3k, I’d shout out here “Give a dog a bone!”

    [40] See the essays collected in The Door in the Sky: Coomaraswamy on Myth and Meaning by Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, ed. by Rama P Coomaraswamy (Princeton, 1999).

    [41] See my comments on the Wotan theme embodied in the suicide of Lane Pryce in my latest collection, End of An Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents,2015).

    [42] “Manos” as the vibrant and diversity conscious modern viewer must know, is simply the Spanish word meaning “hands,” so the title is essentially Hands: The Hands of Fate, which already begins to enunciate the repetition theme we will begin exploring.

    [43] Apparently, quite arbitrarily. The “making of” featurette reveals that Tom Neyman (The Master) was also the production designer; he just happened to have a whole load of hand sculptures, since, as restorer Solovey says, dead pan, he had entered an artistic phase in which he was exploring the essence of hands. It was he (Neyman says) who suggested one day “Why don’t we just call this “Manos: The Hands of Fate.” But is not the theme of Manos that there are no “accidents”?

    [44] Did Warren anticipate the practice of “fisting,” which Edmund White called “the only new sexual act invented in recorded history”?

    [45] At least one hand is imbedded in a block of stone, thus literally “ithyphallic.”

    [46] “It’s like having Joe Cocker as your bellhop” (MST3k). Apart from being constantly high, John Reynolds was literally saddled with some kind of wire contraptions on his lower legs; people have speculated that he’s a satyr, or goat-man, but Tom Neyman, the production designer, again reveals that they, like the hands, were just some stuff he had lying around.

    [47] Neyman designed this himself, and his (real) wife sewed it, but he say that it was director Warren who insisted on his doing this over and over.

    [48] Torgo presumably heads for “the crossroads” where it was previously said the nearest phone is; this explains Michael’s curious initial idea of “hid[ing] out in the desert until someone comes to help.” The crossroad symbolism is obvious (the warp and woof of material elements) and it is from here that Torgo, like the initiate who has become the Realized Man, will ascend. See “The Corner at the Center of the World” in The Eldritch Evola, op. cit.

    [49] Wikipedia, here [30].

    [50] See Nicholas Harnoncourt’s remarks quoted in the liner notes to Telefunken’s Bach 2000 anniversary sampler disc (Teldec, 1999).

    [51] Or not: “Manos: The Hands of Fate is generally believed to be in the public domain because director Hal Warren failed to include a copyright symbol in the film (in the US in the 1960s this was enough to disqualify a film for copyright). When news broke of Solovey’s restoration, the son of Hal Warren, Joe Warren, started exploring the possibility that the film was in fact not in the public domain. Joe Warren discovered in 2013 that the script had been copyrighted, and he believes this means that the film is also copyrighted. However, no precedent exists for this case so the legal status of the film is uncertain. The release of the restored film is going ahead in spite of this.” — Wikipedia, here [31].

    [52] What with “manos” = hands, the title sequence subtly recalls the equally accidental doubling of the Larry Buchanan opus Attack of the Eye Creatures; as the MST crew says, “They just . . . didn’t . . . care.”

    [53] According to the commentary track, the road is, in fact, called Scenic Drive.

    [54] “Will I have a bad rep?” is a line suggested by Tom Servo as the teenage girl confronts the highway cops.

    [55] “Investigator Graham interests me. Very purposeful looking.” — Manhunter. “I like you, Tony, there is no lying in you.” — Scarface.

    [56] A sentiment echoed by Bob Burns in his Beast interview: “All films are interesting . . . It was a film, it did get made. . . . I think there’s a place for every movie that’s been made . . . It has a place. I’m not sure what that place is, but it has a place. I don’t think it should be forgotten.” And Larry Blamire concurs “Every movie is important to see, even the miserably bad ones.”

    [57] “Our auteur, ladies and gentlemen!” exclaims Crow as Coleman Francis sits down on the floor of a “Cuban”jail and spreads his legs wide in Red Zone Cuba (Episode 621).

    [58] “Say, I knew sex was corny, but who knew corn could be so sexy?” Another painful bit of “humor” from The Starfighters, delivered by the future Congressman Bob “B-1”Dornan.

    [59] “What’s a neophyte?” (MST3k, The Starfighters).

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Dark Right Rises: Christopher Nolan as Fascist Filmmaker?
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]4,490 words

    Conservatism’s League of Stupidity

    The egalitarian Left isn’t just evil — it’s boring. Unfortunately, the conservative “Right” doesn’t have anything better to offer. It’s not just true of politics — it’s even true of their movie reviews.

    The endless reinforcement of egalitarianism throughout the controlled culture means that to a great extent, every “superhero” film has the same plot [2]. An extraordinary character is introduced, a challenge emerges to the liberal assumptions of modernity, and the hero, by humbling himself and accepting his responsibility to his inferiors, saves the day and preserves the sacred illusion of equality. The unintended result of this kind of culture is that the most interesting, intelligent, and genuinely substantive characters and ideas come from a film’s supposed villains. Leftist commentators often recognize this and have genuinely insightful (or at least accurate) observations to make about a film’s ideological content.

    Perhaps the most subversive and overtly right wing movie to be made in many years was The Dark Knight Rises, the triumphant finale to director Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy. The Left most recognized it for what it was. Noted Lefty policy wonk Matt Yglesias [3]tweeted [4]: “Had a lot of problems with Dark Knight Rises but it was sort of refreshing to see a balls-out insanely rightwing movie.” Andrew O’Hehir at Salon noted [5]:

    It’s no exaggeration to say that the “Dark Knight” universe is fascistic (and I’m not name-calling or claiming that Nolan has Nazi sympathies). It’s simply a fact. Nolan’s screenplay (co-written with his brother, Jonathan Nolan, and based on a story developed with David S. Goyer) simply pushes the Batman legend to its logical extreme, as a vision of human history understood as a struggle between superior individual wills, a tale of symbolic heroism and sacrifice set against the hopeless corruption of society. Maybe it’s an oversimplification to say that that’s the purest form of the ideology that was bequeathed from Richard Wagner to Nietzsche to Adolf Hitler, but not by much.

    They may not necessarily like fascism, or for that matter, anything that alludes to heroism or greatness, but at least we are talking about the same thing.

    Of course, many “movement conservatives” miss the point of the movie entirely, seeing each new cultural phenomenon as another opportunity to bash the “Democrat Party” or give a eulogy about the glories of various purveyors of high fructose corn syrup and why they pay too much in taxes.

    Thus, if we didn’t have John Nolte and Ben Shapiro we’d have to make them up. The two writers at the late Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood [6] somehow managed to view Nolan’s climactic film as some sort of love letter to Goldman Sachs. Batman is pictured a capitalist hero presumably sent by the Cato Institute to protect the prosperous citizens of Gotham from the moral relativists of Occupy Wall Street. Comrade Bane is seen as the leader of evil Leftists, who probably also support Islamism, and is nothing but a jealous nihilist who wants to bring about equality.

    Shapiro gushes [7], “The entire film is an ode to traditional capitalism.” He condemns Bane’s “communist-fascist” (?) regime and worries that Bane’s evil “Leftist populism” sounds like Barack Obama. While this is idiotic, it’s about par for the movement, and is still a trite more intelligent than Rush Limbaugh’s charge [8] that Bane was deliberately named to create sinister associations with Mitt Romney’s “Bain Capital.” Just as Barack Obama can simultaneously be a Communist and a Nazi, Bane can be a liberal attack on Republicans and an obvious stand in for President Obama.

    Where Ben Shapiro actually achieves a kind of conservative movement perfection is in celebrating that The Dark Knight Rises supposedly condemns green energy for being unprofitable, rips public-private partnerships for furthering Bane’s plan, and is somehow pro-gun. (In a sentence, the “green energy” program works but Bruce Wayne doesn’t want it weaponized and so halts it, the villain achieves his ends through totally private stock market manipulation, and Batman doesn’t let Selina Kyle use guns.) It’s so precisely wrong, reaching Bill Kristol and Dick Morris levels of factual absurdity, that it’s beautiful. It’s this kind of logic that gives us intellectuals who build entire careers explaining how Barack Obama’s Democratic Party is racist [9] against blacks and too pro-white, that Detroit, Camden, East Saint Louis, and Rochester [10] were destroyed by white liberals, and that the problem with academia and the media is that they’re anti-Semitic [11]. You almost have to admire it.

    Nolte meanwhile is so far off the mark with his review and his responses that it’s difficult to believe he saw the movie. He charges that Bane is simply motivated by jealous nihilism simply because he’s miserable. Also, all of his followers are losers — just like Occupy Wall Street, LOL! [12]

    Nolte writes [13]:

    “Rises” is a love letter to an imperfect America that in the end always does the right thing. . . . Nolan loves the American people — the wealthy producers who more often than not trickle down their hard-earned winnings, the workaday folks who keep our world turning, a financial system worth saving because it benefits us all, and those everyday warriors who offer their lives for a greater good with every punch of the clock.

    And of course, the whole movie was just an excuse by Christopher Nolan to “slap Obama.” Press releases from the Southern Poverty Law Center contain more intellectual subtlety and analytical depth.

    Nolte’s review is exhibit A for the case that the Republican id is driven by the feeling of being right, rich, successful, and in charge regardless of what is actually happening [14]. As Bane said before snapping a capitalist pencil neck, “Do you feel in charge?” Nolte and Shapiro, clueless, would say yes.

    New York Times token faux-conservative Ross Douthat objected to this reading in a fairly accurate but incomplete analysis [15]. Douthat noted there might be a bit more subtlety to the question of Gotham’s underclass than they are just jerks, but Nolte fired back [16], doubling down on his, uh, thesis. The bad guys are just “insecure thumbsuckers raging with a sense of entitlement, desperate to justify their own laziness and failure and to flaunt a false sense of superiority through oppression.”

    “Tell me about Bane! Why does he wear the mask?”

    Where to begin? Perhaps it is best to find some common ground with our misguided and lovably dopey kosher conservative friends. Let’s advance the theory that if we both accept the idea of liberal media bias, it is mildly suspicious that biggest blockbuster of the year would be an “ode to traditional capitalism” and a partisan attack on Barack Obama. While contemporary American conservatism’s conception of the “Right” has devolved into support of charter schools for blacks and opposing evolution because it’s racist [17], in theory, the Right by definition involves the principled defense of hierarchy. Movie villains that attack egalitarianism, attempt to set themselves up as an authority, or generally have some higher aim besides “chaos” are on the Right, like most of James Bond’s super-villains, Loki from The Avengers [18], or the Empire in Star Wars.

    Therefore, rather than just quoting Republican talking points, it’s useful to look at the character of Bane and see how Big Hollywood’s charges hold up.

    Bane the Nihilist

    First is the idea that Bane is some sort of nihilist. A nihilist is an individual who doesn’t think human existence has objective value or meaning. While Bane could certainly be described as a rather brutal anarcho-primitivist, he certainly does have a belief in actual life versus mere existence. Bane strives for an order worth living in, and ultimately wants justice for all those responsible for the state of society as represented by Gotham.

    Bane is motivated to restore the natural balance to the world by putting an end to a decadent society which will inevitably fall. In a sentence: that which is falling must also be pushed. He views Batman as someone who makes things worse by drawing out Gotham’s decline and suffering, which is why he must be eliminated. Many of Bane’s minions lay down their lives on command to accomplish this ideal, indicative that they believe in something beyond their own personal interests. Their lives are forfeited towards a higher goal, not in a wanton manner à la the Joker.

    The dialogue spells it out fairly clearly. Bane addresses a henchman as “brother” when he asks him to lay down his life for the mission. “Have we started the fire?” the initiate asks. “Yes,” replies Bane. “The fire rises.” Unlike the capitalists that Bane exploits to acquire the weapons and equipment he needs to take over the city, Bane is not in it for the money. Staring down at a gaping John Dagget, his former accomplice, Bane pronounces, “I’m Gotham’s reckoning, here to end the borrowed time you’ve all been living on. . . . I’m necessary evil.”

    Does Bane have a vision of the good beyond just tearing down corruption? Actually he does. Bane possesses a certain reverence for the concept of innocence. In the course of the film it is revealed that Bane was willing to lay down his life to protect the defenseless child Talia. His actions ultimately lead to his own excommunication from the League of Shadows, and a permanent physical impairment. The mask feeds him a painkilling gas that keeps the injuries he sustained at bay. Some of the film’s deleted material [19] shows a more primitive version of Bane’s apparatus and his training in the League of Shadows under Ra’s al Ghul, before he was expelled because Ra’s wanted him away from his daughter. Talia could not forgive her father, until Bruce Wayne murdered him. Only then could Talia and Bane join forces to complete his mission.

    This is the heart of Bane’s identity, the transformation from a pain-wracked prisoner into an avatar of Justice. As he defeats Batman in single combat, Bane pronounces, “I am the League of Shadows. I am here to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny!” Michael Caine’s Alfred intones, “His speed, his ferocity, his training! I see the power of belief. I see the League of Shadows resurgent.” Say what you will about the tenets of the League of Shadows [20], Nolte, but at least it’s an ethos.

    As we recall from the first film [21], the League of Shadows is a Traditionalist Order dedicated to fighting crime without restrictions from society’s “indulgence.” Batman is trained by the League, but he turns on them when he is asked to execute a murderer. Incredulous, Ra’s al Ghul asks if Bruce Wayne would prefer a trial by “corrupt bureaucrats.” Wayne has no response. When Wayne is told that the League plans to destroy the festering rot that is Gotham, Wayne kills many of the League’s members and blows up its headquarters. Compared to the League, Wayne/Batman is a liberal.

    Incredibly, but perhaps not astonishingly, neither Nolte nor Shapiro mention the League of Shadows. It’s like trying to explain the transformation of Bruce Wayne into Batman without mentioning the death of his parents. Most importantly, as we find out (spoilers!) at the end of the film, Bane is not the main villain. The main villain is Talia — Miranda Tate for most of the film — the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul who seeks to complete her father’s mission. The person who rose from the prison pit was not Bane, but Talia, and it is she who is leading the mission to destroy Gotham. In both the first and third films, Batman is not fighting against chaos, or communism, or high tariff rates, or some other bugaboo of the Beltway faux-Right — he’s fighting a Traditionalist Order that wants to destroy the city he loves.

    The League’s justice decrees Gotham should die — Batman’s mercy says it should live. Both are fighting for their conception of the good, and willing to die for it. This isn’t nihilism, on either side.

    Bane the Economic Socialist

    Bane’s attack on the city of Gotham is twofold. First, he attacks the stock market, an action which brings Batman/Bruce Wayne out of retirement. He’s confronted by a stock broker who claims, “This is a stock market — there’s no money for you to steal.” Bane replies, “Really? Then why are you people here?” Bane doesn’t take the money — he uses a program to strip Bruce Wayne from control of Wayne Enterprises so he can seize the arsenal and the energy project to build an atomic bomb.

    Of course, this is just a means to an end. When John Dagget protests that his company has not been able to absorb Wayne’s and claims “I’m in charge,” Bane replies calmly, “Do you feel in charge?” Laying his hand lightly on Dagget’s shoulder, Bane shows he knows where power comes from — force [22]. When Dagget mutters that he’s paid Bane a small fortune, Bane replies, “And this gives you power over me?” “Your money, and infrastructure, have been important, until now.” Bane is in service to a cause greater than money — it’s not surprising that American conservatives literally cannot comprehend it as coming from the Traditionalist Right.

    The real boss of the League, Talia, brings the message home in lines that are delivered early in the movie, but take on a whole new meaning after her true identity is revealed. Speaking to Dagget about a clean energy program, she says, “But you understand only money, and the power you think it buys.” We think this is just a champagne socialist looking down on the rich who don’t share enough with the poor or spend enough on trendy causes. Actually, the clean energy program is a way to develop a fusion bomb to take control of Gotham, and Talia (who already has control of a vast amount of money) could not care less about Lefty trends. She is also serving the purposes of her father’s Order.

    The second main attack is against the football game, with Bane blowing up the field after the National Anthem. Nolte’s take is “Nolan’s love for this country is without qualifiers and symbolized in all its unqualified sincerity in a beautiful young child sweetly singing a complete version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ — just before ‘Occupy’ attempts to fulfill its horrific vision of what ‘equality’ really means.” Of course, knowing that Bane actually is part of the League of Shadows, we know there’s a larger agenda here.

    Bane isn’t entirely immune to the idea of innocence, as we know how he saved Talia. He even comments while listening to the song, “That’s a lovely, lovely voice.” Then he says, “Let the games begin!” and pushes the button. The League regards the city of Gotham as hopelessly corrupt and evil, and it’s therefore significant that they announce their takeover at a football game — the circus part of bread and circuses. The football game isn’t some glorious manifestation of Americana — it’s a symbol of how pointless and worthless modern life has become [23]. Bane then announces that Gotham is to rise up and “take back their city.” The next day, at Blackgate Prison, Bane destroys the myth of Harvey Dent and calls for revolution against the corrupt, who will be cast out “into the cold world that we know, and endure.” Gotham, says Bane, will be given “to you, the people.”

    There’s a heavy tone of irony in that last pronouncement, which goes to the heart of Bane’s plan. Nolan said that much of the plot was based upon Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, which depicts the moral collapse of Revolutionary France. We know Bane is not a nihilist because of his own pronouncements, actions, and membership in the League. However, has he transformed the League into a vanguard fighter for a socialist commune?

    While Big Hollywood says yes, there’s nothing to suggest that the League of Shadows and its relatively wealthy members and backers (like Talia) are socialists, and they speak consistently of fulfilling, rather than changing, Ra’s Al Ghul’s Traditionalist mission. It’s not that Bane is a socialist — it’s that he’s a Traditionalist who despises capitalism, Revolting Against the Modern World from the Right. American conservatives simply don’t get it, trapped into a simplistic worldview where there is Communism on the Left and Capitalism on the Right.

    But how do we know this? How can we be sure that we aren’t, like Big Hollywood, just reading into the movie our own ideological prejudices? Well, it’s pretty easy. Bane directly tells us.

    Bane the Egalitarian Revolutionary

    After “breaking” Batman, Bane takes him to the prison where he lived for years. He tells [24] Bruce Wayne “the truth about despair.” There can be no despair without hope, and just as the prison has an opening at the top to drive prisoners mad with the lust for freedom, so Bane will use hope to create greater despair.

    Batman is to be punished because he betrayed the League of Shadows and the cause of true justice. Wayne believed that his “Batman” could be a symbol that lasts beyond him, that anyone could be Batman. As we learned at the end of The Dark Knight [25], Bruce Wayne believes that the people of Gotham are fundamentally good, and that given the choice, they will choose good. Therefore, no matter how bad things get in Gotham, no matter how decadent the elite may be, no matter how much he may personally despise them (even to the point of becoming a recluse), Wayne thinks that which is falling must be propped up. Bane considers this not just mistaken, but despicable. When Batman dismisses the League as a gang of psychopaths, Bane attacks with outraged fury [26].

    Thus, in defeat, Bruce Wayne will be punished by watching Bane torture an entire city. Wayne, after all, lusts for death and release. Bane knows that Wayne’s punishment must be more severe, that he has to be forced to understand the depth of what he sees as Wayne’s evil. Bane will do this by “feeding them [the people of Gotham] hope to poison their souls.” Bruce Wayne will watch the people of the city climb over each other “so they can stay in the sun.” He will force Wayne to watch as the true nature of Gotham City is unleashed. And then, “when you have understood the depth of your failure, and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.”

    Thus, Bane’s proto-Occupy speeches aren’t about propagating the ideology of the League — it’s spiritual poison. He even tells us it’s spiritual poison. His screed about giving Gotham back to the people is done to mock the idealism that Batman places in the populace of the city itself. Bane’s actions are an attempt to fulfill H. L. Mencken’s quip that, “The people get the government they deserve, and they deserve to get it good and hard.”

    When left to their own devices, the people of Gotham fail miserably at governing themselves. Without the force of Gotham Police Department, the judicial fangs of the Dent Act, or the confining grip of Arkham Asylum, Gotham quickly falls into disarray. The people of Gotham illustrate that they are nothing more than a mob, who allow psychopaths like Dr. Crane/The Scarecrow judicial power to give people death sentences for pointless reasons. Bane is Gotham’s reckoning, not Gotham’s executioner. Only the people of Gotham can be the architects of their own destruction.

    Bane has zero pretentions about the ability of the people to govern themselves. He gives them every opportunity, and they bring their fate on themselves. The ultimate collapse of Gotham is caused by giving the people the false hope that they are capable of governing themselves through his “revolution.” His previous monologue on the worst prison being one with perpetual hope is indicative of this sentiment. He also directly shows Bruce Wayne that his mission in life was a failure. Wayne himself suspects thus, in a dream sequence where the “immortal” Ra’s al Ghul tells him that after all of his sacrifices, the most he could accomplish was a lie and that even he must realize Gotham should be destroyed. Subconsciously, even the Batman knows his mission is futile.

    There’s also one critically important fact that puts the beliefs of the League of Shadows and Bane beyond all doubt — this is a suicide mission. The nuclear bomb that Bane forced Dr. Pavel to build is going to go off after a certain time, regardless of what anyone else says about it. Bane will let Gotham destroy itself, force the rest of the world to see it, and then blow it all up anyway. He’ll even sacrifice his life and the life of his men in order to bring about a new beginning on a non-egalitarian foundation. Like Batman, the world will be forced to understand.

    American “movement conservatism,” itself a product of the Enlightenment dogma of infinite human perfectibility, can’t cope with this kind of message. Thus, Big Hollywood has to ignore the League of Shadows, ignore Talia, ignore the previous films, and even ignore Bane’s speech telling the audience exactly what he is doing so they can keep on believing “an imperfect America that in the end always does the right thing.” At the Fox News level of cultural analysis, Bane and the League of Shadows develop an intricate, years-long strategy that ends with their own deaths for no other reason than shits and giggles.

    The Hero Liberal America Deserves?

    Needless to say, Batman/Bruce Wayne does save the day. In a sequence heavy with Traditionalist overtones, Wayne climbs out of the pit, is “reborn” as Batman, and defeats the League of Shadows. However, he can’t go back. Fulfilling Alfred’s wishes for him, he avoids both defeat and death and chooses an anonymous life away from Gotham, away from the society he sacrificed so much to save.

    One bit of credit is due the reviewers for comprehending the character arc of Selina Kyle/Catwoman. At the beginning of the film, she claims that she is somehow doing more for the poor than rich philanthropists. She looks forward to the day when “a storm is coming . . . because you’re all going to wonder how you thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” When she actually sees the revolution unleashed, she’s disgusted to see how a wealthy family’s home has been transformed into squalor. Kyle understands that egalitarianism does not lead to paradise, but horror.

    However, ultimately Kyle’s actions are motivated by her need to escape. Just like Bruce Wayne, she cannot bring herself to live even in a restored Gotham City. At the end of the film, she’s not some happy mama grizzly taking the kids to Mickey D’s after a hockey game — she’s chosen a wealthy exile with Bruce Wayne. Kyle too is an outsider. Unlike Talia, she chose selfish escape over sacrifice for an ideal.

    This the price of heroism — the hero cannot be part of the society that he saves. That is why the idea of a superhero can be inherently “fascist” — a superhero is a being of pure will and great power who is held to a different standard so he can impose that will on the larger society. A superhero saves society from itself.

    Bruce Wayne comes to this realization reluctantly. After all, the whole point of Batman was that he was supposed to temporary and that the police and government could take over and function normally once things got to a certain point. This doesn’t happen — Robin John Blake is the heir to the title of Batman, having thrown away his own policeman’s badge and faith in the sytem. Like a meat grinder [27], Gotham will demand more extraordinary men to sacrifice themselves in order to keep functioning. To save the kind of society where everyone is equal, the higher man must allow himself to be consumed as the price of democratic heroism. Democracy can only be saved by people who don’t really believe in democracy.

    “Do you finally have the courage to do what is necessary?”

    Despite the happy ending of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle palling around in Florence, the ultimate message of the film, and the trilogy, is far too dark for ever-optimistic American conservatives to internalize. Gotham only functions when it is built on lies. Lacking both an aristocracy capable of leading, and a populace capable of being lead, Gotham reverts to brutal authoritarianism in order to bring about order. This is buttressed by noble lies that would make Leo Strauss blush, and the constant sacrifice of higher men.

    The nature of the people themselves ultimately never changes. When left to their own devices, the people allow radical psychopaths to run the roost, a reflection of their own fractured existence. At the end Gotham is saved from total destruction, but once again needs the false lie of a higher man’s sacrifice in order to make sense. Bruce Wayne escapes, turns his back on the city, and moves on with his life in a foreign country. Maybe Nolte’s charge of nihilism would more accurately apply to the man in the cowl, as opposed to the one in the mask.

    Much like modern America though, Gotham can only make sense for so long before the wheels come undone. What is Nolan really saying then? Is it possible he’s challenging our notions of what we actually are conserving? Gotham is reminiscent of modern America, decadent, soulless, and lacking any social capital. Is there a Gotham still worth saving? An America? That’s Nolan’s real question, and something Batman, like conservatives, omit themselves from ever having to answer.

    While it is not surprising that Big Hollywood and movement conservatism don’t “get” the movie, or much of anything else, the reaction speaks volumes about how the Left understands the Right better than the Right understands itself. Conservatives misinterpret the movie because they lack the ability to comprehend anything deeper than corporate profiteering dressed up in platitudes like “free markets” or a “shining city on the hill.” Higher ideas like Traditionalism or the nature of man, society, and power might as well be a foreign language to the last men pining for the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

    Christopher Nolan created a Right-wing film that conservatives are attracted to, but will never truly understand. They can’t explain why they like the movie because that requires a new vocabulary drawn from Tradition and the European New Right. Lacking that, we get paeans to the Caped Crusader’s fight against clean energy. Still, American conservatives instinctually claim anything with sublimated Right-wing tendencies as their own. All politics is downstream of culture, and unfortunately for conservatives, they lost that battle quite some time ago. However, the impulse for an authentic Right is still there, and the real culture war never truly ends.

    Nolan films with a hammer. The Dark Knight Rises is a radical traditionalist puncture wound against modernity: not the film we want, but the film we need. Unfortunately, much like Gotham City, the conservative movement and its intellectuals are already too far gone to understand it.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Jonathan Bowden’s Last Interview, Part 2: Transcript
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    Jonathan Bowden, in the moment

    4,643 words

    Podcast here [2]

    Transcript by V. S. and S. F.

    Greg Johnson: You are an author as well as a reader of comics and graphic novels. 

    Jonathan Bowden: Yes, when I was a child and an adolescent. Yes.

    GJ: That’s a quintessentially popular art form. It’s directed primarily to children and young adults, and yet you think that it has a great deal of aesthetic potential. Can you talk a little bit about your sense of that?

    JB: Yes, it’s an interesting one, because that’s very much an art for and of the masses. And although I am an elitist, there are moments when you wish to communicate with the majority of people. I suppose the thing that attracted me to them when I was very young was the heroic. The heroic is denied in our culture, in all sorts of ways, and has been disprivileged. Those forces that animated the great epics and Homer have been forced down to the level of comic books literally. Because the heroic is not seen as a necessary or requisite part of a high culture. When you have liberal values supervising the novel and the elite play and the elite film, the heroic will go down into the lowest forms of mass culture.

    And yet really what are comics? They’re films on paper, and in certain cultures, like Japan and so on, they’re considered to be genuine art forms of quite a high sort. That isn’t true in the West, but because they are representational, and yet very imaginative, you can communicate with a large number of people instantaneously, and you can also be stereotypical in relation to the heroic, which is more difficult with more complicated forms.

    There is also a degree to which the art can be actually quite abstract, because it’s draftsmanship par excellence, and it’s only lines on paper. And if you look at the imaginative input into what is purely a commercial area, there’s this odd trade-off between the aesthetic quality and the risible quality in terms of psychological realism and sociological appropriateness. But that’s not what these things are about.

    They are also a pure form of escape and a pure form of sub-literary escapism, and I quite like art as a sort of escapism because we’re all born, we’re all going to die, and there needs to be something to fill the gap in between.

    GJ: The graphic novel has emerged as a more artistically serious form of comic book, and for a long time I have to admit that I was somewhat dismissive of this. First of all, people were touting Spiegelman’s Maus, and I thought that this was very tendentious anti-cat propaganda. How is this an improvement on the comic book, and how is this serious as art? Then I started discovering that movies that I thought were really rather good, like A History of Violence [3], were based on graphic novels, and so I started looking into them. I really am very impressed, specifically with the graphic novel Watchmen, which I think is. as a novel really. on the level of some 19th century Romantic novels of the highest order. What do you think of the graphic novel, and what do you think its future is, its potential is?

    JB: Well, its potential, because they really are films on paper. There’s no denying that they are what it says on the tin. Therefore, the commercial pressures aside, their artistic future is limitless, because it’s as limitless as the capacity to create stories and to visualize them. So, all that will hold them back is the absence of seriousness with which they are viewed by the general, more literate culture. It’s probably true that mass culture is more visual than elite culture. Because elite culture tends to be more conceptual and tends to be bound by words.

    Now, in these types of graphic novels you have sequential art with a storyboard that is a film on paper, and so you do have the ability to create films very cheaply. In some ways, it’s a marvellous medium because it approximates to Wagner’s total art form, because with the exception of music you’ve got almost everything combined.

    There’s always something slightly ridiculous about comics, even the high-faluting ones that we’re discussing at the moment, but that’s part of their charm. They do have a charm. They do have a kitsch, which is part of their romantic allure. Because the first literature that most children fall in love with actually, long before they come to books, they look at this sort of material. Even if they quickly outgrow it.

    GJ: Who do you think are the best graphic novelists and what are the best graphic novels?

    JB: There’s a Batman called Arkham Asylum [4] which is by Dave McKean–visually anyway–and which is quite extraordinary. That was done before computers became fashionable. To paint on a computer screen and to print it out is how that sort of art form is now done, but McKean did individual paintings. Each of those panels is an individual painting situated within a larger conspectus.

    I suppose Alan Moore. I don’t care for Alan Moore’s sort of politics, particularly, in so far as it’s subliminally present in his work, but he would have to be considered to be a major talent in the area that he’s chosen to concentrate in. Again, you tend to scan this sort of material. You don’t so much read it as you scan it. It’s very much like watching film. You absorb it. It’s like the wind screen wipers in a car–flick, flick–and then you go to the next page and you absorb it almost osmotically. You float in this material and then put it down. In this sense it’s probably more powerful than visual art, although visual art can reach parts of the mind that nothing else can, because it’s not bounded by narrative, and yet if you bound images by narrative, you have the possibility of reaching very large numbers of people. It’s surprising in some ways that graphic novels haven’t even been even more successful than they could be, but that’s probably because television is in the way, and the DVD is in the way. If those forms were less pronounced, probably they’d have an even greater articulacy than they do at the present time.

    GJ: You said that the graphic novel is like the Wagnerian total work of art, except that it lacks music, which brings to mind the movies that have been made from graphic novels which of course include music. One of my theses is that the movie really is the thing that most closely approximates Wagner’s idea of the complete work of art, because with Wagner you still had the staging necessities of the theatre that sort of constrict your points of view, whereas film doesn’t have those constrictions, and therefore it’s more versatile, yet it can incorporate all the other art forms like the complete work of art was supposed to do. Do you think that’s a sensible thesis?

    JB: Very much so. Yes. Film is the ultimate art form of the 20th century and contains all the other arts within its self. That’s why it was important to try and make films. Film is the most frustrating thing to do, however. Because it involves radical collaboration with other people and with other egos, and it’s costly, and it’s extraordinarily time-consuming to do properly. It involves great technical skill and ingenuity. However, digital film-making has democratized the film industry, even though in the end these films are just cut up and put on YouTube or its equivalent. But you can now make films for very little money. The films that I’ve made cost £800 pounds each, which is totally ridiculous in relation to what film technology once cost in the past.

    But, yes, I’ve always wanted to make films actually, because films are the total way in which you can live a dream that can impact upon other people and also can be seen in a relatively short and sequential period of time. It takes maybe 8, 10, 16, 24 hours to read a book sequentially over a period. An image can be accessed in seconds, that’s true. But a film you can put life, death and everything else into a spectacle that lasts for one hour. There is probably nothing like it.

    GJ: Let’s switch our topics to some philosophical issues. You seem to be quite conversant with a wide range of ideas, especially ideas on the Right. But there’s a great deal of intellectual diversity and deep philosophical divisions amongst various Rightists. For instance, I know people who are Guénonian Traditionalists, and I know people who are Darwinists, and they have very different accounts of the evolution or devolution of man, for instance. Where do you stand on issues like that? Are you a Traditionalist? Are you a Darwinist? Are you a materialist? Are you a dualist? What philosophical outlook do you think is most adequate?

    JB: I’d probably be described by a critic looking on from the outside as a Nietzschean, and as a Right-wing Nietzschean, in love with paradox, possibly for its own sake. I’m not technically a Traditionalist in the purest sense, because I don’t necessarily believe that there’s one tradition that one can get back to. The problem with all forms of Perennialism is that there’s no agreement on what one should get back to in relation to a prospective Golden Age.

    But the real division for is between those that are metaphysically objectivist and those that are metaphysically subjectivist. All liberal Left-wing thought is metaphysically subjectivist, which means, put very simply, that you make it up as you go along or that life is endlessly socialized in its impact and import.

    Metaphysical objectivism is the idea that there are standards outside life and there are concepts which pre-exist man and his consciousness of himself and that are absolute and that lack variation and can always be subscribed to by looking back at them, whereas Nietzsche had the view that, in a sense, such objectivist standards do exist, but we don’t entirely know what they, because we’re not divine, and we cannot perceive the world from its outside by virtue of the fact that we’re meshed in it and its fleshy and contingent circumstances.

    So, what you have to do, is you have to become actualized in the space that you’re in and, by subjectively understanding the possibility of the objective that remains behind you, you achieve maximum insight through a morality of strenuousness. So, that’s what I would tend to believe.

    In relation to things like Darwinism or regression of man theories à la Evola, I would take the view that perspectivally both can be right. We’ve evolved from lower forms, but you can also see the apes as falling away from one of our particular trajectories in relation to ascent. But it doesn’t bother me. The animalism of man doesn’t bother me as a concept. You only have to look around you in your local Wal-Mart.

    GJ: I think that one way to somewhat reduce the tension between the Darwinists and the Traditionalists is simply to recognize that Traditionalism is not necessarily an account of how things actually happened. It’s first and foremost a collocation and synthesis of mythology, and mythology doesn’t necessarily have to be literally true in order to be extremely useful, and I don’t care how silly the idea of man’s devolution from higher beings is from a biological or evolutionary standpoint. When I go to Wal-Mart it makes a lot of sense, and so it’s got its own power and its own truth, and it doesn’t necessarily have to have the kind of truth that competes with scientific truth.

    JB: Yes, that’s right. There are different forms of truth, and it’s a Gradgrind human mind that can’t see that. But that’s inevitable. Politics is a rather dry area, and people who are very politically-minded, on the whole, want rather tough, affirmative single-track causations, don’t wish to mix things together, and don’t want to be too philosophically complicated. After all, in the end, politics is about influencing the mass of people, and these issues are of no importance at all to the mass of people, who wish to see their areas less crime-ridden or wish to see their cities with less immigrants in them or more immigrants in them, depending on their point of view.

    But these philosophical niceties are actually very important. Religions are enormous psychic novels, and the myths that sustain them are the poetic tropes that give reality and variety to their endless and teeming dreaming.

    GJ: Let’s talk about religion. Where do you stand on religious issues? Did you receive any kind of religious training as a young man, and did it stick? How has your religious thinking evolved over time?

    JB: Yes, that’s interesting. Emotionally, I’m drawn to religiosity. Although, I suppose if you wish to be very tough-minded and literal about things then I’m an atheist. But I don’t care for atheism as a position emotionally and psychologically because it’s such a desiccated and empty and banal position. All the musical traditions of any import are on the other side. So, I’m very much close to the Existentialists of the 1950s, who, although they framed all their religious concerns within what might be perceived as a rationalist purview, were obsessively religious in their attitude towards life and yet didn’t have a coherent religious system, Christian or otherwise. I’m a bit like that really.

    I went to a Catholic school where, contrary to the idea it was sort of a torture chamber with a bit of added excess and brothers dressed in dresses flogging boys whilst you conjugated Latin verbs, it was actually a very good education and set oneself up for adult life in a very adequate way. But religiously, though I admire the myths, I’ve never really been that much of a Christian, although I can be moved by a film like Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which struck me as a genuinely religious film and an extraordinarily accomplished artistic film as well; the two combined.

    So, I’m emotionally drawn to religion, but I would not in a hard, factual sense be described as a religious person.

    GJ: Are you more drawn to Christian or pagan mythology?

    JB: No, I’ve been much more drawn to pagan mythology, although there’s a lot of Christian artistic inheritance that would influence me a great deal. But no, I’m emotionally and belletristically and aesthetically and psychosexually, I’m a pagan.

    GJ: We were having a conversation a few days ago about astrology, and you said that you had the astrological profile of a fascist dictator, and that brings me to the next question which is: What do you think the ideal political system is?

    JB: That’s very difficult at this moment in time to answer. I think the best political system is the most conservative system imaginable combined with the most revolutionary system imaginable. So, it’s something which is classical and flexible. It will be the equivalent of a Classical Modernism, really, in terms of its stylistic aesthetics, but beyond just style and/or aesthetics, its meaning and its sense of itself. It has probably never existed. It’s the lifestyle of Ernst Jünger conceived as the management of a state.

    GJ: Are there historical regimes that you think most closely approximate that?

    JB: No, not really. It’s why I’m not in love with any particular dictatorship or any particular form of democratic organization. All of them have positive features. All of them have negative features. I perceive of life as essentially dynamic, and therefore there’s never been a static society which was perfect. But humans aren’t perfect. And there’s no such thing as human perfectibility.

    My interest in the grotesque is because man is so lopsided and so deliriously imperfect that the idea of utopia is itself slightly risible and will lead to dystopia anyway. But one should attempt to achieve one’s own utopias as long as one realizes that there always imperfect and approximate. Just as human life begins with childhood and ends with the idiocy of pre-senility, societies need to endlessly renew themselves.

    My vision of not a just society but a society that’s come to terms with the nature of its own injustice is a quivering sword in a fencer’s hand; morality and social climbing perceived as a form of mountaineering. It’s a society that’s more dangerous than the present one, even though the present one has all sorts of dangers, and is more alive and is more percussively inegalitarian and elitist.

    I suppose the open-minded rule of a traditional aristocracy that partly believed that the patronage of the arts was one of the most important things that it could do as well as officiating at religious ceremonies would be the sort of sensibility that I favor.

    GJ: What thinkers or writers have influenced your views of politics most?

    JB: The most is probably Carlyle and Wyndham Lewis and Machiavelli and, although he’s not really political in a narrow sense, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Georges Sorel as well and Curzio Malaparte and D’Annunzio and D. H. Lawrence. But again, the people who’ve influenced me tend to splurge over into the artistic area and are not narrowly political. I suppose Plato, in a way; both to approximate to, to ascribe to and to reject simultaneously.

    Amongst contemporary theorists, amongst contemporary politicians, Enoch Powell was an interesting Classicist who wrote poetry, and there’s an existential subtext to some of his articulations. We’re talking in a British context here. Who else? I’m certainly not influenced by Michael Oakeshott and sort of milksop conservatives of that sort. But then again, I’ve always been too revolutionary to be a complete conservative and too conservative to be a complete revolutionary.

    I believe in a mixture of the past and the present. I’m an optimistic person, actually. I believe very much in the future. I don’t share the pessimism that most Right-wing people do. Most Right-wingers are pessimistic people and have a strong streak of Puritanism in their personalities. Although there are Puritanical sides to me, they tend to be part of a starkness and part of an aesthetic that is thrown beyond itself.

    To me, artistic things are so much more important than anything else, and politics is a way to achieve certain artistic goals that otherwise would fall fallow.

    GJ: Ayn Rand had an essay called “Bootleg Romanticism” where she talked about certain forms of literature in the 20th century that she thought were a refuge where 19th century Romanticism had fled because it had been purged by naturalism and modernism from higher letters. She talks about things like spy shows. I think she talks about The Man from U.N.C.L.E., although she dropped that from the published version that she put it in her book The Romantic Manifesto. She talks about the Bond films. She talks about pulp adventure novels and things like that.

    You have a great interest in pulp novels.

    JB: . . . Raymond Chandler . . .

    GJ: You have an interest in pulp and popular fiction. Is that true?

    JB: Yes, partly because its crudity is endlessly amusing and also for its love of the extreme and its love of the radical situation. It’s compelling.

    I’m drawn to extremism. I’ve always been an extremist. But I’m not drawn to the usual forms of counter-bourgeois extremism that exist on the Left. So, for me, the elitist spine that has to subsist in everything prevents me from going in a Leftwards direction because egalitarianism is a bore. There’s nothing more boring than egalitarianism. There’s nothing more aesthetically sterile. And that’s why the truth is on the Right side of the equation.

    As for popular forms: popular forms can be very mass-oriented and degraded, but they can also be endlessly charming and full of life and brio and energy, and in their very crudity they can escape some of the halting steps that the naturalist’s aesthetic might place upon things. It’s the very abnaturalism and non-naturalism of elements of the popular imagination as perceived artistically in mass culture that can render the grotesque even more baleful, even more illuminating, even more distressingly actual.

    GJ: You like Robert E. Howard. You’ve done a lot of writing about his Conan works and other writings. Again, this is a fellow who created a lot of popular literature, yet you are drawn to it even as an anti-egalitarian elitist.

    JB: Yes, that’s right. Partly just because of the heroic metaphysic, which is itself a form of elitism, as Rand rightly pointed out. Things are never destroyed in culture. They’re just displaced, and therefore they find new levels for themselves through which they can articulate what they are or might be. So, naturalistic fiction displaced fantasy fiction, which went down into genres like fantasy and science fiction and the rest of it, and then those come up again and become more literary in the hands of somebody like Ballard, whereas popular work and elitist work fertilize each other and interrelate. With me things are never either/or but yes/and, and there’s a degree to which you can see ramifications of the elite in the popular, and you can see dithyrambic populism in elitism. It’s more the treatment and the self-overbecoming which is involved in any creative moment. It’s less where there’s something that’s popular or whether something is populist or whether something is elitist. Life and history will determine that.

    Howard is now regarded in part as a sort of, not as an elite writer, but as a qualified elite writer, certainly as a literary writer, which as a pulpster he was never considered to be. Indeed, the triumvirate of the Weird Tales three–Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard–are now considered to be essentially elitist writers who went slumming.

    GJ: When I read Rand’s essay it occurred to me that you could run a similar argument regarding music in this sense that in the late 19th/early 20th century Romanticism was dominant in music and then Modernism came in, and the Romantic sensibility was driven off the concert stages, and it showed up in Hollywood, and so you had a lot of film composers who were carrying on the Romantic tradition in ways that more “serious” academic composers were not. What do you think of film music?

    JB: I like film music. Partly because it’s an extension of film as the total artwork. It’d be interesting to have film music with a totally blank screen, wouldn’t it? Whereby you actually had a film that was rendered musicological, and then you voided the screen, and just played the music so you had a concert response to what might be programmatic or filmic music.

    Yes, I like film music, although its composers are not individually that important, because you can’t abstract it from the film which their product is a part of. But no, a film without music is a deader film. If you ever sit through films which have very little music, you’ve lost a part of the overall experience.

    One of the things that interests me a great deal is that ultra-modern music and horror films go very much together. Partly because the Hammer films in Britain could get Modernist composers very cheaply, like Elisabeth Lutyens and this sort of thing, to do these amazing scores which are completely over the top and, from an naturalistic point of view, utterly ridiculous and yet suit that sort of hedonistic and abstracted material even at its most popular and deranged.

    So, I quite like that sort of combination of sort of Charles Ives manqué and Hammer horror.

    GJ: Kerry Bolton has done a lot of writing for Counter-Currents since our website got started, and he’s published a lot of essays on artists of the Right. We’re going to bring out two volumes of these essays now. He’s written so much that it has exceeded the length of one volume. We’re going to bring out the first volume sometime in the spring.

    It is really quite remarkable that some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, especially the first half of the 20th century, were political Rightists and sometimes rather radical Rightists. It’s interesting to me how Counter-Currents as a metapolitical project embraces the attempt to cultivate artists. One of the things that I would very much like to do is to the extent that it’s possible for a journal to cultivate artists I would very much like to encourage a new artistic scene on the Right. It would be very nice if some of the great artists in the 21st century turned out to be Rightists as well.

    What are your thoughts about how one can cultivate an artistic/political sub-culture? Do you think that can be cultivated or does that just happen in ways that can never be predicted or controlled?

    JB: I think it’s more likely to happen in the latter way in which you just described it. It’s difficult to stimulate such a thing into being, but you can help that which exists. I think that probably works like Bolton’s are very important because what they’re doing is they’re engaging in cultural revisionism. What they’re doing is they’re bringing back into focus all of the people who existed between about 1900 or 1890 and 1945. The great fall off, of course, is the effect of the Second World War. If you wish to get anywhere in the arts since the Second World War you’ve had to have liberal opinions because civilized people couldn’t have illiberal opinions because they could be perceived as leading in a fascistic direction.

    But we’re living in a new era now, and we’re living in a post-modern or a post-post-modern or a hyper-real era, and I feel it’s time to bring back all of these titans from the first part of the 20th century to give people the courage and the energy to say that they believe in new forms of art which are radically unequal and radically inegalitarian in their responses to life.

    I feel that the best thing that can be done is to take people up when they appear and to manifest interest in their work and to project them without fear or favour when you’re aware of the nature of their existence. I don’t think you can synthetically bring into being a Right-wing cultural and artistic movement, but you can pick and choose from a large number of people who will come forward in the next ten years or so, or who have created silently and without being recognized since 1945.

    GJ: It strikes me that things that I can do as an editor of a journal are really two-fold: Publishing articles like Kerry Bolton’s gives people today a whole pantheon of models that they can look to which can be inspiring and the other thing that’s possible is to provide critical feedback and exposure to contemporary artists who are working in a sort of Right-wing sub-culture and I think that’s really the best that I can do. If there’s more, I would like to know. If there are people out there who want to contact me, we’ll do our best to give you critical feedback and to give your work exposure. And one hopes that there’s a genius out there listening; the next Ezra Pound or the next Roy Campbell. And really, that’s the best we can do.

    JB: Yes, I think that’s the best that can be done and what ought to be done and what should be done and what is being done.

    GJ: Well, Jonathan, thank you very much. This has been very, very enjoyable, and I hope to talk to you again soon for another Counter-Currents Radio show.

    JB: Thanks very much.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Pulp Fascism
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]9,838 words

    Editor’s Note: 

    The following text is a transcription by V. S. of a lecture entitled “Léon Degrelle and the Real Tintin,” delivered at the 21st meeting of the New Right, London, June 13, 2009. The lecture can be viewed on YouTube here [2]. (Please post any corrections as comments below.)

    I have given it a new title because it serves as the perfect introduction to a collection of Bowden’s essays, lectures, and interviews entitled Pulp Fascism: Right-Wing Themes in Comics, Graphic Novels, and Popular Literature, which is forthcoming from Counter-Currents.

    I proposed this collection and title to Bowden in 2011, and although he wrote a number of pieces especially for it, the project was unfinished at his death. We are bringing out this book in honor of the first anniversary of Bowden’s death on March 29, 2012. 

    I would like to talk about something that has always interested me. The title of the talk is “Léon Degrelle and the Real Tintin,” but what I really want to talk about is the heroic in mass and in popular culture. It’s interesting to note that heroic ideas and ideals have been disprivileged by pacifism, by liberalism tending to the Left, and by feminism particularly since the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. Yet the heroic, as an imprimatur in Western society, has gone down into the depths, into mass popular culture. Often into trashy forms of culture where the critical insight of various intellectuals doesn’t particularly gaze upon it.

    One of the forms that interests me about the continuation of the heroic in Western life as an idea is the graphic novel, a despised form, particularly in Western Europe outside France and Italy and outside Japan further east. It’s regarded as a form primarily for children and for adolescents. Yet forms such as this: these are two volumes of Tintin which almost everyone has come across some time or other. These books/graphic novels/cartoons/comic books have been translated into 50 languages other than the original French. They sold 200 million copies, which is almost scarcely believable. It basically means that a significant proportion of the globe’s population has got one of these volumes somewhere.

    Now, before he died, Léon Degrelle said that the character of Tintin created by Hergé was based upon his example. Other people rushed to say that this wasn’t true and that this was self-publicity by a notorious man and so on and so forth. Probably like all artistic and semi-artistic things there’s an element of truth to it. Because a character like this that’s eponymous and archetypal will be a synthesis of all sorts of things. Hergé got out of these dilemmas by saying that it was based upon a member of his family and so on. That’s probably as true as not.

    The idea of the masculine and the heroic and the Homeric in modern guise sounds absurd when it’s put in tights and appears in a superhero comic and that sort of thing. But the interesting thing is because these forms of culture are so “low” they’re off the radar of that which is acceptable and therefore certain values can come back. It’s interesting to note that the pulp novels in America in the 1920s and ’30s, which preceded the so-called golden age of comics in the United States in the ’30s and ’40s and the silver age in the 1960s, dealt with quite illicit themes.

    One of the reasons that even today Tintin is mildly controversial and regarded as politically incorrect in certain circles is they span much of the 20th century. Everyone who is alive now realizes that there was a social and cultural revolution in the Western world in the 1960s, where almost all the values of the relatively traditional European society, whatever side you fought on in the Second World War, were overturned and reversed in a mass reversion or re-evaluation of values from a New Leftist perspective.

    Before 1960, many things which are now legal and so legal that to criticize them has become illegal were themselves illicit and outside of the pedigree and patent of Western law, custom, practice, and social tradition. We’ve seen a complete reversal of nearly all of the ideals that prevailed then. This is why many items of quite popular culture are illicit.

    If one just thinks of a silent film like D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation in 1915. There was a prize awarded by the American Motion Picture Academy up until about 1994 in Griffith’s name. For those who don’t know, the second part of Birth of a Nation is neo-Confederate in orientation and depicts the Ku Klux Klan as heroic. Heroic! The Ku Klux Klan regarded as the hero, saving the White South from perdition, from the carpet-baggers, some of whom bear an extraordinary resemblance to the present President of the United States of America. Of course, they were called carpet-baggers because they were mulatto politicians who arrived in the South primarily from the North with certain Abolitionist sponsorship and they arrived with everything they owned in a carpet bag to take over. And that’s why they were called that.

    That film, which you can get in any DVD store and buy off Amazon for ten pounds or so, is extraordinarily notorious, but in actual fact, in terms of its iconography, it’s a heroic, dualist film where there’s a force of darkness and a force of light. There’s a masculine individual. There’s people who believe that they’ll sort out problems with a gun. The Bible, in an ultra-Protestant way, is their text. It’s what they base metaphysical objectivism and absolute value upon, and that film is perceived retrospectively as an extreme White Right-wing film although Griffith himself is later to do a film called Intolerance and actually, like a lot of film makers, had quite a diverse range of views irrespective of his own Southern and Texan background.

    The thing one has to remember is that the methodology of the heroic can survive even if people fight against various forces in Western life. One of the great tricks of the heroic in the last 40 to 50 years is the heroic films involving icons like Clint Eastwood, for example, as a successor to this sort of archetype of John Wayne and the sort of Western stylized masculinity that he represented. Eastwood often plays individualistic, survivalist, and authoritarian figures; Right-wing existentialist figures. But they’re always at war with bureaucracies and values that are perceived as conservative. One of the ways it tricks, which has occurred since the 1960s, is to reorient the nature of the heroic so that the eternal radical Right within a society such as the United States or elsewhere is the enemy, per se.

    There’s a comic strip in the United States called Captain America which began in the 1940s. Captain America is a weedy young man who almost walks with a stick and has arms like branches, and of course a friendly American scientist introduces him to a new secret program where he’s injected with some steroids and this sort of thing and immediately becomes this enormous blond hulking superman with blue eyes. Of course, he must dress himself in the American flag so that he can call himself Captain America. So you get the idea! He has a big shield which has the star of the United States on it and has a sidekick who dies in one of the 1940s comics, but of course these figures never die. They’re endlessly brought back. But there’s a problem here because the position that Captain America and a lesser Marvel Comics equivalent called Captain Britain and all these other people represent is a little bit suspect in an increasingly liberal society, even then. So, his enemy, his nemesis, his sort of dualist alternative has to be a “Nazi,” and of course Captain America has a Nazi enemy who’s called the Red Skull.

    The Red Skull is a man with a hideous face who, to hide this hideousness, wears a hideous mask over his hideous face as a double take. The mirror cracks so why not wear a mask, but it’s not a mask of beauty. It’s a skull that’s painted red, and he’s called the Red Skull. He always wears green. So, it’s red and green. He always appears and there’s always a swastika somewhere in the background and that sort of thing. He’s always building robots or cyborgs or new biological sorts of creatures to take over the world. Captain America always succeeds in vanquishing him in the last panel. Just in the last panel. The Red Skull’s always about to triumph until the fist of Captain America for the American way and the American dream comes in at the end.

    This mantle of the heroic whereby Right-wing existentialists like Captain America fight against the extreme Right in accordance with democratic values is one of the interesting tricks that’s played with the nature of the heroic. Because the heroic is a dangerous idea. Whether or not Tintin was based on Léon Degrelle there is of course a fascistic element to the nature of the heroic which many writers of fantasy and science fiction, which began as a despised genre but is now, because it’s so commercially viable, one of the major European book genres.

    They’ve always known this. Michael Moorcock, amongst others, speaks of the danger of subliminal Rightism in much fantasy writing where you can slip into an unknowing, uncritical ultra-Right and uncritical attitude towards the masculine, towards the heroic, towards the vanquishing of forces you don’t like, towards self-transcendence, for example.

    There’s a well-known novel called The Iron Dream and this novel is in a sense depicting Hitler’s rise to power and everything that occurred in the war that resulted thereafter as a science fiction discourse, as a sort of semiotic by a mad creator. This book was actually banned in Germany because although it’s an extreme satire, which is technically very anti-fascistic, it can be read in a literal-minded way with the satire semi-detached. This novel by Norman Spinrad was banned for about 20 to 30 years in West Germany as it then was. Because fantasy enables certain people to have an irony bypass.

    Although comics are quite humorous, particularly to adults, children and adolescents read them, scan them because they sort of just look at the images and take in the balloons as they go across because these are films on paper. They essentially just scan them in an uncritical way. If you ever look at a child, particularly a child that’s got very little interest in formal literature of a sort that’s taught in many European and American schools, they sit absorbed before comics, they’re absolutely enthralled by the nature of them, by the absolute villainy of the transgressor, by the total heroicism and absence of irony and sarcasm of the heroic figure with a scantily clad maiden on the front that the hero always addresses himself to but usually in a dismissive way because he’s got heroic things to accomplish. She’s always on his arm or on his leg or being dragged down.

    Indeed, the pulp depiction of women which, of course, is deeply politically incorrect and vampish is a sort of great amusement in these genres. If you ever look at comics like Conan the Barbarian or Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk and these sorts of things the hero will always be there in the middle! Never to the side. Always in the middle foursquare facing the future. The villain will always be off to one side, often on the left; the side of villainy, the side of the sinister, that which wants to drag down and destroy.

    As the Hulk is about to hit The Leader, which is his nemesis, or Captain America is about to hit the Red Skull, which is his nemesis, or Batman is about to hit the psychiatric clown called The Joker, who is his nemesis, there’s always a scantily clad woman who’s around his leg on the front cover looking up in a pleading sort of way as the fist is back here. It’s quite clear that these are archetypal male attitudes of amusement and play which, of course, have their danger to many of the assumptions that took over in the 1960s and ’70s.

    It’s interesting to notice that in the 1930s quite a lot of popular culture expressed openly vigilante notions about crime. There was a pulp magazine called The Shadow that Orson Welles played on the radio. Orson Welles didn’t believe in learning the part, in New York radio Welles, usually the worse for wear for drink and that sort of thing, would steam up to the microphone, he would take the script, and just launch into The Shadow straight away. The Shadow used to torment criminals. Depending on how nasty they were the more he’d torment them. When he used to kill them, or garrote them, or throttle them, or hang them (these pulps were quite violent and unashamedly so) he used to laugh uproariously like a psychopath. And indeed, if you didn’t get the message, there would be lines in the book saying “HA HA HA HA HA!” for several lines as he actually did people in.

    The Shadow is in some ways the prototype for Batman who comes along later. Certain Marxian cultural critics in a discourse called cultural studies have pointed out that Batman is a man who dresses himself up in leathers to torment criminals at night and looks for them when the police, namely the state, the authority in a fictional New York called Gotham City, put a big light in the sky saying come and torment the criminal class. They put this big bat symbol up in the sky, and he drives out in the Batmobile looking for villains to torment. As most people are aware, comics morphed into more adult forms in the 1980s and ’90s and the graphic novel emerged called Dark Knight which explored in quite a sadistic and ferocious way Batman’s desire to punish criminality in a very extreme way.

    There was also a pulp in the 1930s called Doc Savage. Most people are vaguely aware of these things because Hollywood films have been made on and off about all these characters. Doc Savage was an enormous blond who was 7 feet. He was bronzed with the sun and covered in rippling muscles. Indeed, to accentuate his musculature he wore steel bands around his wrists and ankles, as you do. He was a scientific genius, a poetic genius, and a musical genius. In fact, there was nothing that he wasn’t a genius at. He was totally uninterested in women. He also had a research institute that operated on the brains of criminals in order to reform them. This is quite extraordinary and deeply politically incorrect! He would not only defeat the villain but at the end of the story he would drag them off to this hospital/institute for them to be operated on so that they could be redeemed for the nature of society. In other words, he was a eugenicist!

    Of course, those sorts of ideas in the 1930s were quite culturally acceptable because we are bridging different cultural perceptions even at the level of mass entertainment within the Western world. That which is regarded, even by the time A Clockwork Orange was made by Kubrick from Burgess’ novel in the 1970s, as appalling, 40 years before was regarded as quite acceptable. So, the shifting sands of what is permissible, who can enact it, and how they are seen is part and parcel of how Western people define themselves.

    Don’t forget, 40% of the people in Western societies don’t own a book. Therefore, these popular, mass forms which in one way are intellectually trivial is in some respects how they perceive reality.

    Comics, like films, have been heavily censored. In the United States in the 1950s, there was an enormous campaign against various sorts of quasi-adult comics that were very gory and were called horror comics and were produced by a very obscure forum called Entertainment Comics (EC). And there was a surrogate for the Un-American Activities Committee in the US Senate looking at un-American comics that are getting at our kids, and they had a large purge of these comics. Indeed, mountains of them were burnt. Indeed, enormous sort of semi-book burnings occurred. Pyramids of comics as big as this room would be burnt by US and federal marshals on judges’ orders because they contained material that the young shouldn’t be looking at.

    The material they shouldn’t be looking at was grotesque, gory, beyond Roald Dahl sort of explicit material which, of course, children love. They adore all that sort of thing because it’s exciting, because it’s imaginative, because it’s brutal, because it takes you out of the space of normalcy, and that’s why the young with their instincts and their passion and glory love this sort of completely unmediated amoral fare. That’s why there’s always been this tension between what their parents would like them to like and what many, particularly late childish boys and adolescents, really want to devour. I remember Evelyn Waugh was once asked, “What was your favorite book when you were growing up?” And just like a flash he said, “Captain Blood!” Captain Blood! Imagine any silent pirate film from the 1920s and early ’30s.

    Now, the heroic in Western society takes many forms. When I grew up, there were these tiny little comics in A5 format. Everyone must have seen them. Certainly any boys from the 1960s and ’70s. They were called Battle. Battle and Commando and War comics, and these sorts of thing. They were done by D. C. Thomson, which is the biggest comics manufacturer in Britain, up in Dundee. These comics were very unusual because they allowed extremely racialist and nationalist attitudes, but the enemies were always Germans and they were always Japanese.

    Indeed, long after the passing of the Race Act in the late 1960s and its follow-up which was more codified and definitive and legally binding in the 1970s, statements about Germans and Japanese could be made in these sorts of comics, which were not just illicit but illegal. You know what I mean, the Green Berets, the commandos, would give it to “Jerry” in a sort of arcane British way and were allowed to. This was permitted, even this liberal transgression, because the enemy was of such a sort.

    But, of course, what’s being celebrated is British fury and ferocity and the nature of British warriors and the Irish Guards not taking prisoners and this sort of thing. This is what’s being celebrated in these sorts of comics. It’s noticeable that D. C. Thomson, who has no connection to the DC group in the United States by the way, toned down this element in the comics as they went along. Only Commando survives, but they still produce four of them a month.

    In the 1970s, Thomson, who also did The Beano and utterly childish material for children for about five and six as well as part of the great spectrum of their group, decided on some riskier, more transgressive, more punkish, more adult material. So, they created a comic called Attack. Attack! It’s this large shark that used to come and devour people. It was quite good. The editor would disapprove of something and they would be eaten by the shark. There was the marvelous balloons they have in comics, something like, “This shark is amoral. It eats.” And there would be a human leg sticking out of the mouth of the shark. Some individual the editor disapproved of was going down the gullet.

    Now, Attack was attacked in Parliament. A Labour MP got up and said he didn’t like Attack. It was rather dubious. It was tending in all sorts of unwholesome directions, and Attack had a story that did outrage a lot of people in the middle 1970s, because there was a story where a German officer from the Second World War was treated sympathetically, in Attack. Because it was transgressive, you see. What’s going to get angry Methodists writing to their local paper? A comic that treats some Wehrmacht officer in a sympathetic light. So, there was a real ruckus under Wilson’s government in about ’75 about this, and so they removed that.

    Various writers like Pat Mills and John Wagner were told to come up with something else. So, they came up with the comic that became Judge Dredd. Judge Dredd is a very interesting comic in various ways because all sorts of Left-wing people don’t like Judge Dredd at all, even as a satire. If there are people who don’t know this, Dredd drives around in a sort of motorcycle helmet with a slab-sided face which is just human meat really, and he’s an ultra-American. It’s set in a dystopian future where New York is extended to such a degree that it covers about a quarter of the landmass of the United States. You just live in a city, in a burg, and you go and you go and you go. There’s total collapse. There’s no law and order, and there’s complete unemployment, and everyone’s bored out of their mind.

    The comic is based on the interesting notion that crime is partly triggered by boredom and a sort of wantonness in the masses. Therefore, in order to keep any sort of order, the police and the judiciary have combined into one figure called a Judge. So, the jury, the trial, the police investigation, and the investigative and forensic elements are all combined in the figure of the Judge. So, if Judge Dredd is driving along the street and he sees some youths of indeterminate ethnicity breaking into a store he says, “Hold, citizens! This is the law! I am the law! Obey me! Obey the law!” And if they don’t, he shoots them dead, because the trial’s syncopated into about 20 seconds. He’s given them the warning. That’s why he’s called Judge Dredd, you see. D-R-E-D-D. He just kills automatically those who transgress.

    There’s great early comic strips where he roars around on this bike that has this sort of skull-like front, and he appears and there’s a chap parking his car and he says, “Citizen! Traffic violation! Nine years!” and roars off somewhere else. Somebody’s thieving or this sort of thing and he gets them and bangs their head into the street. There’s no question of a commission afterwards. “Twelve years in the Cube!” which is an isolation cell. It’s got its own slang because comics, of course, create their own world which children and adolescents love so you can totally escape into a world that’s got a semi-alternative reality of its own that’s closed to outsiders. If some adult picks it up and looks at it he says, “What is this about?” Because it’s designed to exclude you in a way.

    Dredd has numerous adventures in other dimensions and so on, but Dredd never changes, never becomes more complicated, remains the same. He has no friends. “I have no need of human attachments,” he once says in a slightly marvelous line. He has a robot for company who provides most of his meals and needs and that sort of thing. For the rest, he’s engaged in purposeful and pitiless implementation of law and order. One of his famous phrases was when somebody asked him what is happiness, and he says in one of those bubbles, “Happiness is law and order.” Pleasure is obeying the law. And there are various people groveling in chains in front of him or something.

    Now, there’ve been worried Left-wing cat-calls, although it’s a satire, and it’s quite clearly meant to be one. For example, very old people, because people in this fantasy world live so long that they want to die at the end, and they go to be euthanized. So, they all queue up for euthanasia. There’s one story where somebody blows up the people waiting for euthanasia to quicken the thing, but also to protest against it. And Judge says, “Killing euthanized is terrorism!” War on terror, where have we heard that before? Don’t forget, these are people that want to die. But Dredd says, “They’re being finished off too early. You’ve got to wait, citizen!” Wait to be killed later by the syringe that’s coming. And then people are reprocessed as medicines, because everything can be used. It’s a utilitarian society. Therefore, everything is used from birth to death, because the state arranges everything for you, even though socialism is condemned completely.

    There’s another bloc, it’s based on the Cold War idea, there’s a Soviet bloc off on the other side of the world that is identical to the West, but ideologically they’re at war with each other, even though they’re absolutely interchangeable with each other. But the Western metaphysic is completely free market, completely capitalist, but in actual fact no one works, and everyone’s a slave to an authoritarian state.

    There’s also an interesting parallel with more advanced forms of literature here. A Clockwork Orange: many people think that’s about Western youth rebellion and gangs of the Rockers and Mods that emerged in the 1960s at the time. Burgess wrote his linguistically sort of over-extended work in many ways. In actual fact, Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange after a visit to the Soviet Union where he was amazed to find that, unlike the totalitarian control of the masses which he expected at every moment, there was quite a degree of chaos, particularly amongst the Lumpenproletariat in the Soviet Union.

    George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four has an interesting idea, and that is that the proles are so beneath ideology, right at the bottom of society, the bottom 3% not even the bottom 10%, that they can be left to their own devices. They can be left to take drugs. They can be left to drink to excess. They can be left to destroy themselves. Orwell says “the future is the proles” at one point. Remember when Winston Smith looks out across the tenements and sees the enormous washerwoman putting some shirts, putting some sheets on a line? And she sings about her lost love, “Oh, he was a helpless fancy . . .” and all this. And Winston looks out on her across the back yards and lots and says, “If there’s a future, it lies with the proles!” And then he sings to himself, “But looking at them, he had to wonder.”

    The party degrades the proletariat to such a degree that it ceases to be concerned about their amusements because they’re beneath the level of ideology and therefore you don’t need to control them. The people you control are the Outer Party, those who can think, those who wear the blue boiler suits, not the black ones from the Inner Party.

    This interconnection between mass popular culture, often of a very trivial sort, and elitist culture, whereby philosophically the same ideas are expressed, is actually interesting. You sometimes get these lightning flashes that occur between absolutely sort of “trash culture,” if you like, and quite advanced forms of culture like A Clockwork Orange, like Darkness at Noon, like Nineteen Eighty-Four, like The Iron Heel, like The Iron Dream. And these sorts of extraordinary dystopian and catatopian novels, which are in some respects the high political literature (as literature, literature qua literature) of the 20th century.

    Now, one of the reasons for the intellectual independence of elements in some comics is because no one’s concerned about it except when the baleful eye of censorship falls upon them. A particular American academic wrote a book in the early 1950s called Seduction of the Innocent which is about how children were being depraved by these comics which were giving them violent and racialist and elitist and masculinist stereotypes, which shouldn’t be allowed.

    Of course, a vogue for Left wing comics grew up in the 1970s because culture in the United States, particularly men’s culture, is racially segregated in a way which is never admitted. African-Americans have always had their own versions of these things. There are Black American comics. Marvel did two called The Black Panther, and the Black Panther only ever preys on villains who are Black.

    There’s another one called Power Man who’s in prison loaded down with chains and a White scientist, who might be Jewish, experiments on him. He’s called Luke Cage and he’s experimented on so he becomes a behemoth. A titan of max strength he’s called, and he bats down the wall and takes all sorts of people on. And yet, of course, all of the villains he takes on, very like the Shaft films which are both about James Bond films which are very similar, all of this material is segregated. It occurs within its own zone.

    But you notice the same heroic archetypes return. Yet again there’s a villain in the corner, usually on the left side, Luke Cage has an enormous fist, there’s a sort of half-caste beauty on his leg looking up, staring at him. This sort of thing. It’s the same main methodology. It’s the same thing coming around again.

    Although there have been attempts at the Left-wing comic, it’s actually quite difficult to draw upon with any effect. Because, in a way you can criticize comics that are metapolitically Right-wing, but to create a Left-wing one is actually slightly difficult. The way you get around it is to have a comic that’s subliminally Rightist and have the villain who’s the extreme Right. There are two American comics called Sgt. Fury and Sgt. Rock and another one’s called Our Army at War. Sgt. Rock, you know, and this sort of thing. And you know who the villain is because they’re all sort in the Second World War.

    The attitude towards Communism in comics is very complicated. Nuclear destruction was thought too controversial. When formal censorship of comics began in America in the 1950s something called the Approved Comics Code Authority, very like the British Board of Film Classification, emerged. They would have a seal on the front of a comic. Like American films in the 1930s, men and women could kiss but only in certain panels and only for a certain duration on the page as the child or adolescent looked at it, and it had to be, it was understood so explicitly it didn’t even need to be mentioned that of course it didn’t even need to be mentioned that it was totally heterosexual. Similarly, violence had to be kept to a minimum, but a certain allowed element of cruelty was permitted if the villain was on the receiving end of it.

    Also, the comics had to be radically dualist. There has to be a force for light and a force for darkness. There has to be Spiderman and his nemesis who’s Dr. Octopus who has eight arms. But certain complications can be allowed, and as comics grow, if you like, non-dualist characters emerge.

    There’s a character in The Fantastic Four called Doctor Doom who’s a tragic figure with a ruined face who is shunned by man who wants to revenge himself on society because he’s shut out, who ends as the ruler of a tiny little made-up European country which he rules with an iron hand, and he does have hands of iron. So he rules his little Latvia substitute with an iron hand. But he’s an outsider, you see, because in the comic he’s a gypsy, a sort of White Roma. But he gets his own back through dreams of power.

    There’s these marvelous lines in comics which when you ventilate them become absurd. But on the page, if you’re sucked into the world, particularly as an adolescent boy, they live and thrive for you. Doom says to Reed Richards, who’s his nemesis on the other side, “I am Doom! I will take the world!” Because the way the hero gets back at the villain is to escape, because they’re usually tied up somewhere with a heroine looking on expectantly. The hero is tied up, but because the villain talks so much about what they’re going to do and the cruelty and appalling suffering they’re going to inflict all the time the hero is getting free. Because you have to create a lacuna, a space for the hero to escape so that he can drag the villain off to the asylum or to the gibbet or to the prison at the end. Do you remember that line from Lear on the heath? “I shall do such things, but what they are I know not! But they will be the terror of the earth!” All these villains repeat that sort of line in the course of their discourse, because in a sense they have to provide the opening or the space for the hero to emerge.

    One of the icons of American cinema in the 20th century was John Wayne. John Wayne was once interviewed about his political views by, of all things, Playboy magazine. This is the sort of level of culture we’re dealing with. They said, “What are your political views?” and Wayne said, “Well, I’m a white supremacist.” And there was utter silence when he said this! He was a member of the John Birch Society at the time. Whether or not he gave money to the Klan no one really knows.

    There’s always been a dissident strand in Hollywood, going back to Errol Flynn and before, of people who, if you like, started, even at the level of fantasy, living out some of these heroic parts in their own lives. Wayne quite clearly blurred the distinction between fantasy on the film set and in real life on many occasions. There are many famous incidents of Wayne, when robberies were going on, rushing out of hotels with guns in hand saying, “Stick’em up!” He was always playing that part, because every part’s John Wayne isn’t it, slightly differently? Except for a few comedy pieces. And he played that part again and again and again.

    Don’t forget, The Alamo is now a politically incorrect film. Very politically incorrect. There’s an enormous women’s organization in Texas called the Daughters of the Alamo, and they had to change their name because the White Supremacist celebration of the Alamo was offensive to Latinos who are, or who will be very shortly, a Texan majority don’t forget. So, the sands are shifting in relation to what is permitted even within popular forms of culture.

    When Wayne said he was a supremacist in that way he said, “I have nothing against other people, but we shouldn’t hand the country over to them.” That’s what he said. “We shouldn’t hand the country over to them.”

    And don’t forget, I was born in ’62. Obama in many of the deep Southern states wouldn’t have had the vote then. Now he’s President. This is how the West is changing on all fronts and on every front. American Whites will certainly be in the minority throughout the federation in 40 or 50 years. Certainly. Indeed, Clinton (the male Clinton, the male of the species) once justified political correctness by saying, “Well, in 50 years we’ll be the minority. We’ll need political correctness to fight that game.”

    The creator of Tintin, Hergé, always said that his dreams and his nightmares were in white. But we know that the politically correct games of the future will be Whites putting their hands up in the air complaining because somebody’s made a remark, complaining because they haven’t got a quota, complaining because this form is biased against them, and this sort of thing. They’ll be playing the game that minorities in the West play at the moment, because that’s all that’s left to them. You give them a slice of the ghetto, you predefine the culture (mass, middling, and elite), in the past but not into the future, elements of the culture which are too much reverent of your past don’t serve for the future and are therefore dammed off and not permitted. This is what, in a sense, White people face in America and elsewhere.

    One of the great mysteries of the United States that has produced an enormous amount of this mass culture, some of which I have been at times rather glibly describing, is why has there never been a mass serious Right-wing movement of the real Right in the United States. The whole history of the 20th century and before would be different if that had occurred. Just think of it. Not some sort of trivial group, but a genuine group.

    Don’t forget, the real position of the American ultras is isolationism. They don’t want to go out into the rest of the world and impose American neo-colonialism on everyone else. They’re the descendants of people who left the European dominion in order to create a new world. Hence, the paradox that the further Right you go in the United States, the more, not pacifist, but non-interventionist you become.

    Before the Confederacy, there was a movement called the Know Nothings, and this is often why very Right-wing people in the United States are described as Know Nothings. Because when you’re asked about slavery, which of course is a very loaded and partial question, you said, “Well, I don’t know anything about it.” And that was a deliberate tactic to avoid being sucked in to an abolitionist agenda or a way of speaking that was biased in the political correctness of its own era.

    But it is remarkable that although the Confederacy didn’t have the strength to win, if they had won the history of the whole world would be different. The 20th century would have never taken the course that it did.

    One of the interesting things about the American psyche, of course, is that many unfortunate incidents, the war that we fought with the United States in 1812, for example, have been completely elided from history. It’s gone! It’s gone! We almost went to war with them in 1896 over Venezuela. That still has slightly interesting intonations even now a century or more on when Joseph Chamberlain was Colonial Secretary. This is again [elided] rather like the Suez incident 1956. There are certain incidents that are played up. And there are anniversaries that are every day on the television, and that you can’t escape from. But there are other anniversaries and other events which have been completely air-brushed from the spectrum and from the historical continuum as if they never occurred.

    One episode is the extraordinarily bad treatment of prisoners of war by Americans going way, way back. The Confederates and the Unionists treated each other that way in the Civil War, but the Mexicans certainly got the boot in the 1840s as did the Spanish-Cubans at the turn of the 20th century. Americans beat up every German on principle, including members of Adenauer’s future cabinet when they occupied part of Germany. They just regard that as de rigeur. This frontier element that is there, crude and virile and ferocious, not always wrong, but ultimately fighting in ways which are not in the West’s interests, certainly for much of the 20th century, just gone, is part and parcel of the heroic American sense of themselves.

    Where do all of these archetypes ultimately come from? That American popular culture which has gone universal because the deal is that what America thinks today, the world thinks tomorrow. When we allegedly ruled the world, or part of it, in the 19th century, Gladstone once stood in Manchester in the Free Trade Hall and said, “What Manchester thinks today, the world thinks tomorrow.” But now it’s what’s on MTV or CNN today, that the world would like to think is the ruling discourse of tomorrow.

    American self-conceptuality is, to my mind, deeply, deeply Protestant in every sense. Even at the lowest level of their popular culture the idea of the heroic man, often a dissident police officer or a rancher or a hero of certain supernatural powers and so forth, but a man alone, a man outside the system, a man whose anti-Establishment, but he fights for order, a man who believes that everything’s settled with a weapon (which is why they always carry large numbers of weapons, these sort of survivalist type heroes). All of these heroes, the ones created by Robert E. Howard, the ones such as Doc Savage and Justice Inc., the Shadow, and all of the super-heroes like Batman.

    Superman is interesting. Superman is Nietzschean ideas reduced to a thousand levels of sub-intellectuality, isn’t it? That’s what’s going on. He has a girlfriend who never ages called Lois Lane, who looks 22 now even though she’s about 88 in the trajectory of the script. There’s a villain who’s bald called Lex Luthor who’s always there, always the nemesis, always plotting. Luthor’s reinvented later in the strip as a politician who takes over the city. Superman’s clean and wholesome, you see, whereas the villain becomes a politician. You can see the sort of rhetoric.

    Luthor and Superman in the stories are outsiders. They’re both extraterrestrials. Luthor, however, has anti-humanist values, which means he’s “evil,” whereas Superman, who’s partly human, has “humanist” values. Luthor comes up with amazing things, particularly in the 1930s comics, which are quite interesting, particularly given the ethnicity of the people who created Superman. Now, about half of American comics are very similar to the film industry, and a similar ethnicity is in the film industry as in the comics industry. Part of the notions of what is right and what is wrong, what is American and what is not, is defined by that particular grid.

    Luthor’s an anti-humanite. Luthor always has these thuggish villains who have several teeth missing and are sort of Lombrosian, and they’re ugly, have broken noses and slanted hats. This is the 1930s. And Luthor says, “I’m sick of the human. We’ve got to transcend the human.” They don’t have words like “transcend” in comics. They say, “go beyond” or something, you know. “We’ve got to go beyond the human. Humans have got to go! I’ve got to replace them with a new species.” And one of his thugs will say, “Way to go, Luthor! This is what we want!” If you notice, you have a comic called Superman, but Superman has liberal values and fights for democracy and the American way, and Luthor, although no one ever says he’s “fascistic,” is harsh, is elitist, is inegalitarian.

    You know that the villains have a tendency to punish their own men? You remember Blofeld in the Bond films? One of his own minions will fail him, and he’ll sit in a chair and you know what’s going to happen. A hand strokes the cat with the diamonds around its neck. The villain likes cats, and the cat’s eyes stare on. The finger quivers over the button. And Blofeld, or Luthor, or Dr. Doom, or the Red Skull, or the Joker, or whoever it is, because it’s the same force really, says, “You failed me. There is only one punishment in this organization . . .” Click! The button goes, and there’s an explosion, the bloke screams, goes down in the chair.

    There’s a great scene in Thunderball at the beginning where the chair comes up again. It’s empty and steaming, and all the other cronies are readjusting their ties. Blofeld’s sat there, and the camera always pans to his hands, the hands of power. You know, the hands of death, the hands of Zeus, the hands of Henry VIII. The closet would meet, and they’d all be disarmed by guards, but he would have a double-headed axe down by the chair.

    It’s said, by American propaganda, that Saddam Hussein once shot his Minister of Health during a revolutionary command council meeting, and the same script had to be continued in the meeting by the Deputy Minister of Health. Just think of how the Deputy Minister felt! Let’s hope he wasn’t wearing gray flannels, because they might have been brown by the end of the cabinet session.

    This idea of dualism, moral dualism (ultimately a deeply Christian idea in many ways as well as a Zoroastrian idea) is cardinal for the morality of these comics and the popular films and TV serials and all the internet spin-offs and all of these computer games. Because even when the hero is a woman like Lara Croft and so on, it’s the same methodology coming round and round again. Because adolescent boys want to look at somebody who looks like Lara Croft as she runs around with guns in both hands with virtually nothing on. That’s the sort of dissident archetype in these American pulps going back a long way. It’s just the feminization of heroic masculinity actually, which is what these sort of Valkyries are in popular terms.

    Now, the dualist idea is that there’s a force for evil and a force for good, and we know who they are (they are the ones out there!). In The Hulk, the Hulk is green because he’s been affected by gamma rays. The Hulk alternates with a brilliant scientist, but when he’s in his monstrous incarnation—because of course it’s a simplification of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson’s myth—the Hulk, particularly early on in the comics, is incredibly stupid. If he saw this table in front of him he’d say, “Table. Don’t like table.” And he’d smash it, because Hulk smashes. That’s what he does! He smashes!

    The villain in The Hulk is called the Leader. The Leader is the villain. The Leader is all brain. Indeed, the Leader has such a long head that he’s almost in danger of falling over because of the size of his brain. So, like children have to wear a steel brace on their teeth, the Leader wears a steel brace on his head because he’s “too bright.” So, the Leader—notice the Leader is a slightly proto-fascistic, Right-wing, elitist figure, isn’t he? The man who wants to dominate through his mind—is counter-posed by just brute force: the Hulk!

    This idea that there’s a force for good and a force for evil and the one always supplants the other, but the one can never defeat the other, because the Leader in The Hulk, the Owl in Daredevil, the Joker in Batman, Dr. Doom in The Fantastic Four, Dr. Octopus and the Green Goblin (another green one) in Spiderman . . . They’re never destroyed. If one of them is destroyed, their son finds their mask in a trunk and puts it on and knows that he wants to dominate the world! And comes back again. They can never be destroyed because they’re archetypes.

    The comics hint at a sort of pagan non-dualism partly because they insist upon this good and evil trajectory so much. That’s in some ways when they become quite morally complicated and quite dangerous.

    In Greek tragedy, a moral system exists, and it’s preordained that you have a fate partly in your own hands even though it’s decided by the gods. In The Oresteia by Aeschylus, you have a tragedy in a family (cannibalism, destruction, self-devouring) which is revenged and passed through into future generations. So that the Greek fleet can get to Troy, a girl is sacrificed. Clytemnestra avenges herself as a Medusa, as a gorgon against her husband who has killed her own daughter. Then, of course, there’s a cycle of revenge and pity and the absence of pity when the son, Orestes, who identifies with the father, comes back.

    In this type of culture, and obviously a much higher level conceptually, it’s noticeable that the good character and the evil character align, are differentiated, merging, replace one another, and separate over the three plays in that particular trilogy.

    If you look at real life and you consider any conflict between men, Northern Ireland in the 1970s (we’re British here and many people here are British nationalists). But if you notice the IRA guerrilla/terrorist/paramilitary, the Loyalist guerilla/terrorist/paramilitary . . . One of my grandfathers was in the Ulster Volunteer Force at the beginning of the 20th century, but I went to a Catholic school.

    Nietzsche has a concept called perspectivism whereby certain sides choose you in life, certain things are prior ordained. When the U.S. Marine fights the Islamist radical in Fallujah, the iconography of an American comic begins to collapse, because which is the good one and which is the evil one? The average Middle American as he sat reading Captain America zapping the channels thinks that the Marine is the good one, with a sort of 30-second attention span.

    But at the same time, the Marine isn’t an incarnation of evil. He’s a man fighting for what he’s been told to fight for. He’s a warrior. There’re flies in his eyes. He’s covered in sweat. He’s gonna kill someone who opposes him. But the radical on the other side is the same, and he sees that he’s fighting for his people and the destiny of his faith. And when warriors fight each other, often there’s little hatred left afterwards, because it’s expended in the extraordinary ferocity of the moment.

    This is when this type of mass culture, amusing and interesting and entertaining though it is, begins to fall away. Because whenever we’ve gone to war, and we’ve gone to war quite a lot over the last 10 to 12 years. Blair’s wars: Kosovo. There’s the bombing of the Serbs. Milošević is depicted as evil! Remember those slogans in the sun? Bomb Milošević’s bed! Bomb his bed! Bomb his house! And this sort of thing. Saddam! We’re gonna string him up! The man’s a war criminal! The fact he’d been a client to the West for years didn’t seem to come into it. Hanged. Showed extreme bravery in a way, even though if you weren’t a Sunni in Iraq, definitely, he wasn’t exactly your man.

    There’s a degree to which the extraordinary demonization of the Other works. That’s why it’s used. The British National Party won two seats in that election but there was a campaign against it for 12 to 15 days before in almost every item of media irrespective of ideological profile saying, “Don’t vote for these people!” to get rid of the softer protest votes and you’re only left with the hard core. That’s why that type of ideology is used. Maybe humans are hardwired to see absolute malevolence as on the other side, when in actual fact it’s just a person who may or may not be fighting against them.

    But what this type of mass or popular culture does is it retains the instinct of the heroic: to transcend, to fight, to struggle, to not know fear, to if one has fear to overcome it in the moment, to be part of the group but retain individual consciousness within it, to be male, to be biologically defined, to not be frightened of death, whatever religious or spiritual views and values that one incarnates in order to face that. These are, in a crude way, what these forms are suggesting. Morality is often instinctual, as is largely true with humans.

    I knew somebody who fought in Korea. When they were captured, the Koreans debated amongst themselves whether they should kill all the prisoners. There were savage disputes between men. This always happens in war.

    I remember, as I near the close of this speech, that one of Sir Oswald Mosley’s sons wrote a very interesting book both about his father and about his experiences in the Second World War. This is Nicholas Mosley, the novelist and biographer. He was in a parachute regiment, and there’s two stories that impinge upon the nature of the heroic that often appears in popular forms and which I’ll close with.

    One is when he was with his other members. He was with his other parachutists, and they were in a room. There was The Daily Mirror, still going, the organ of Left-wing hate which is The Daily Mirror, and on the front it said, “Oswald Mosley: The Most Hated Man in Britain.” The most hated man in Britain. And a chap looked up from his desk and looked at Mosley who was leading a fighting brigade and said, “Mosley, you’re not related to this bastard, are you?” And he said, “I’m one of his sons.” And there was total silence in the room. Total silence in the room, and they stared each other out, and the bloke’s hands gripped The Mirror, and all the other paratroopers were looking at this incident. And after about four minutes it broke and the other one tore up The Mirror and put it in a bin at the back of the desk and said, “Sorry, mate. Didn’t mean anything. Really.” Mosley said, “Well, that’s alright then, old chap.” And left.

    The other story is very, very interesting. This was they were advancing through France, and the Germans are falling back. And I believe I’ve told this story before at one of these meetings, but never waste a good story. A senior officer comes down the track and says, “Mosley! Mosley, you’re taking too many prisoners. You’re taking too many prisoners. It’s slowing the advance. Do you understand what I’m saying, Mosley?” And he said, “Sir, yes, I totally understand what you’re saying.” He says, “Do you really understand what I’m saying? You’re slowing the advance. Everyone’s noticing it. Do something about it. Do you understand?” “Sir!”

    And he’s off, I guess to another spot of business further down. Mosley turns to his Welsh sergeant-major and says, “What do you think about that? We’re taking too many prisoners.” Because what the officer has told him in a very English and a very British way is to shoot German soldiers and to shoot German prisoners and to shoot them in ditches. What else does it mean? “You’re slowing the advance! You’re taking too many prisoners! You’re not soft on these people, are you, Mosley? Speed the advance of your column!” That’s what he’s saying, but it’s not written down. It’s not given as a formal and codified order. But everyone shoots prisoners in war! It’s a fact! When your friend’s had his head blown off next to you, you’d want revenge!

    I know people who fought in the Falklands. And some of the Argentinian Special Forces and some of the conscripts together used dum-dum bullets. Hits a man, his spine explodes. So, when certain conscripts were found by British troops they finished them pretty quickly at Goose Green and elsewhere. This will occur! In all wars! Amongst all men! Of all races and of all kinds! Because it’s part of the fury that battle involves.

    One of my views is that is that we can’t as a species, or even as groups, really face the fact that in situations of extremity this is what we’re like. And this is why, in some ways, we create for our entertainment these striated forms of heroic culture where there’s absolutely good and absolutely malevolent and the two never cross over. When the Joker is dragged off, justice is done and Inspector Gordon rings Batman up (because it is he) and says, “Well done! You’ve cleansed the city of a menace.” All of the villains go to an asylum called Arkham Asylum. They’re all taken to an asylum where they jibber insanely and wait for revenge against the nature of society.

    I personally think that a great shadow has been cast for 60 years on people who want to manifest the most radical forms of political identity that relate to their own group, their own inheritance, their own nationality, their own civilizational construct in relation to that nationality, the spiritual systems from the past and in the present and into the future that are germane to them and not necessarily to the others, to their own racial and biological configuration. No other tendency of opinion is more demonized in the entire West. No other tendency of opinion is under pressure.

    Two things can’t be integrated into the situationist spectacle based upon the right to shop. They’re religious fundamentalism and the radical Right, and they’re tied together in various ways. It’s why the two out-groups in Western society are radical Right-wing militants and Islamists. They’re the two groups that are Other, that are totally outside. The way in which they’re viewed by The Mirror and others is almost the level of a Marvel Comics villain.

    I seem to remember a picture from the Sunday Telegraph years ago of our second speaker [David Irving], and I’m quite sure that it’d been re-tinted, at least this is my visual memory of it, to appear darker, to appear more sinister. I remember once GQ did a photo of me years ago when I was in a group called Revolutionary Conservative. That photo was taken in Parliament Square. You know, the square that has Churchill and Mandela in it, that square near our parliament, with Oliver Cromwell over there hiding, [unintelligible] over there hiding further on. That photo was taken at 12:30, and it was a brighter day than this. But in GQ magazine it was darkened to make it look as though it was shot at nine o’clock, and everything was dark, and because it involved so much re-tinting it slightly distorted and reconfigured everything. That’s because these people are dark, you see! They’re the force from outside! They’re that which shouldn’t be permitted!

    Whereas I believe that the force which is for light and the force which is for darkness (because I’m a pagan) can come together and used creatively and based upon identity and can lead on to new vistas. But that’s a rather dangerous notion, and you won’t find it in The Fantastic Four when Reed Richards and Dr. Doom do battle, and you won’t find it in Spiderman when Peter Parker and Dr. Octopus (Dr. Otto Octavius) do battle with one another. You won’t see it when the Aryan Captain America is taking on his National Socialist nemesis, the Red Skull. You won’t see it with the Hulk taking on the Leader. You won’t see it in any of these forms. But these forms have a real use, and that is that they build courage.

    Nietzsche says at the end of Zarathrustra that there are two things you need in this life. You need courage and knowledge. That’s why Zarathrustra has two friends. He has an eagle, which stands for courage, and he has a snake, which stands for knowledge. And if you can combine those things, and synthesize them, you have a new type of man and a new type of future. And Nietzsche chose the great Persian sage as the explicator of his particular truth, because in the past he represented extreme dualism, but in the future Nietzsche wished to portray that he brought those dualities together and combined them as one heroic force.

    Thank you very much!

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • “PC is for Squares, Man” Alan Watts & the Game of Trump
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,123 words

    “Why . . . so . . . serious?” — The Joker[1]

    “It’s all a joke.” — The Comedian[2]

    “All humane people should admit that they are jokers; that they are playing games and playing tricks. That I am doing it on you—I am most ready to admit this. I hoaxed you all into coming here to tell you . . . what?” [laughs loudly, crowd laughs] — Alan Watts[3] 

    Alan Watts is remembered, if at all, as “that hippie philosopher,” meaning perhaps both “a philosopher who was a hippie” (or vice versa), or “a philosopher for or of hippies.”[4]

    But Constant Readers of this website know that, whatever else, Watts was above all[5] a “man of the Right.”[6]

    For example, Greg Johnson points out that

    Watts tries to reach out to the ’60s counter-culture in Does it Matter?, but at the same time he makes it clear that he accepts the Traditional idea of historical decline and rejects all cause-mongering and progressivism.

    It seems odd to think of Watts as a “rightist” because although

    To most readers, the theory of “Wealth versus Money” seems both amazingly original and astonishingly naïve. . . . that is because Watts is concealing his sources. In fact, the foundation of his proposals is merely a version of C. H. Douglas’ Social Credit theory. Of course Watts had good reason not to mention Douglas in the pages of Playboy in 1968: Social Credit was the economic system favored by Anglophone fascists like Ezra Pound.[7]

    As another example of what might be called “strange not so new respect,” a reader of Watts’ Beyond Theology (Pantheon, 1965) finds that the hip, Zen-meditated, LSD-expanded young intelligentsia of 1965 were applying their psychedelic insights against dreary old Dad by advocating . . . intelligent design:

    A universe which grows human beings is as much a human, or humaning, universe as a tree which grows apples is an apple tree. . . . There is still much to be said for the old theistic argument that the materialist-mechanistic atheist is declaring his own intelligence to be no more than a special form of unintelligence. . . .

    The real theological problem for today is that it is, first of all, utterly implausible to think of this Ground as having the monarchical and paternal character of the Biblical Lord God. But, secondly, there is the much more serious difficulty of freeing oneself from the insidious plausibility of the mythology of nineteenth-century scientism, from the notion that the universe is gyrating stupidity in which the mind of man is nothing but a chemical fantasy doomed to frustration. It is insufficiently recognized that this is a vision of the world inspired by the revolt against the Lord God of those who had formerly held the role of his slaves. This reductionist, nothing-but-ist view of the universe with its muscular claims to realism and facing-factuality is at root a proletarian and servile resentment against quality, genius, imagination, poetry, fantasy, inventiveness and gaiety. Within twenty or thirty years it will seem as superstitious as flat-earthism.

    Well, he seems to have been a little off on that prediction; the argument is still valid, though.[8] Archeo-futurism: who’s more “old fashioned” than a “free-thinking” atheist/materialist?[9]

    Or their cousins, the political Liberals.

    But before we look any further at Watts’ suspiciously non-PC attitudes, let’s step back and look at their source.

    Watts’ fundamental insight — equal parts philosophy (Vedanta), psychology (Gestalt), and pharmacology (LSD-25)[10] — was that fundamentally, there are no things. Our experience — and hence any idea we can form of the universe — is of processes or waves.

    Now these processes or waves have a kind of duality: they seem to have two parts, or phases, or sides. Up and down, black and white, left and right, front and back, life and death. I say “seem” or “kind of” because we don’t want to get into any idea of these phases being like the parts of a transmission, out of which we can build or into which we can disassemble the machine. That’s the problem Descartes wound up with, having dissected experience into two utterly different kinds of thing (mind and matter) and then was left wondering how — or if — they interacted.

    [2]No, all these processes have aspects that are so closely bound up with each other that one can’t even imagine them separated, like front and back.[11] To convey this non-relational relationship Watts suggested we use his neologism “goeswith,” as in “Front goeswith Back.”

    Watts’ own expositions of this are so clear, compelling, and above all entertaining (and he called himself not a philosopher but a “philosophical entertainer”) that one fears sounding like someone over-explaining a joke, or falling into endless quotations. At this point, you might be better off sampling some audio/video remixes an enterprising chap has set up on YouTube.[12]

    But it does need a bit of explaining, since for some 2000 years we, in the West at least, have been operating under two very different fundamental understandings

    First, the Jews bequeathed to us the idea of an omnipotent Creator who creates creatures like man from out of the dust, and the dust itself out of nothing at all. Watts calls this the Ceramic Model (with hints of Semite?), after St. Paul’s denying the pot the right to question the work of the potter.

    There are problems with the model,[13] especially in the underlying, inescapable sense of existential uncertainty it inculcates. But around 500 years ago people began to rethink it, asking in particular why we needed God at all. Deism, which postulated a “watchmaker” god who wound things up and then went on vacation, eventually became outright scientific Atheism. The Ceramic Model was replaced with the Machine Model; more particularly, what I call the Idiot Machine Model. Unfortunately, the existential unease, the damnable contingency and fragility of everything, ultimately ending in the death of ourselves and the universe, remained.

    Now this may seem like, indeed, airy-fairy hippie nonsense, but as Watts liked to point out, like all metaphysics, it is “rockily practical.” At least, there are practical conclusions.

    For one, as we’ve seen, it makes Intelligent Design, well, intelligible. Animals are not bags of meat shoved around by outside forces called Nature; they are processes, and they “gowith” their environment: if there are people, then the universes is a peopling universe; if there is intelligence, it is an intelligent universe. Neo-Darwinism, despite its “neo” prefix, is just the same old Idiot Machine model. Admittedly, they’re also right to suspect ID is smuggling in God; it’s the Ceramic Model rearing its head again.[14]

    To see how all this plays out in the modern political scene, we need to back up a bit first. Both the Ceramic Model and the Idiot Machine Model assume a universe of things, one of which is us. Humans, in particular, are in a forever precarious position vis-à-vis the universe (all the other things). In the Ceramic Model we are the creatures of a supposedly loving but strict and rather unpredictable God; in the Idiot Machine Model we are a random fluke of the universe,[15] subject to the apparently eternal extinction of death at some unknown but inescapable point, followed by the universe itself.

    While the Joyous Cosmology of Watts is a game between White and Black, the existential unease produced by both of the other models issue in a fight, pitting White against Black.

    The game of White and Black, where White tries to win, and eventually will,[16] but not without many ups and downs, which lend interest and spice to the game, becomes not a game but a fight when White feels absolutely positively that he must win. A loss (e.g., ones physical death) would be catastrophic — literally, as Joe Biden would say, apocalyptic.[17]

    Life lived according to Watts’ Joyous Cosmology is quite different:

    It comes, then, to this: that to be “viable,” livable, or merely practical, life must be lived as a game—and the “must” here expresses a condition, not a commandment. It must be lived in the spirit of play rather than work, and the conflicts which it involves must be carried on in the realization that no species, or party to a game, can survive without its natural antagonists, its beloved enemies, its indispensable opponents. For to “love your enemies” is to love them as enemies; it is not necessarily a clever device for winning them over to your own side. The lion lies down with the lamb in paradise, but not on earth—”paradise” being the tacit, off-stage level where, behind the scenes, all conflicting parties recognize their interdependence, and, through this recognition, are able to keep their conflicts within bounds.[18] This recognition is the absolutely essential chivalry which must set the limits within all warfare, with human and non-human enemies alike, for chivalry is the debonair spirit of the knight who “plays with his life” in the knowledge that even mortal combat is a game.[19]

    “Chivalry” is the last thing that comes to mind when considering Hillary, and the last thing on her mind as well.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a laugh with a television news reporter moments after hearing deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had been killed. “We came, we saw, he died,” she joked when told of news reports of Qaddafi’s death by an aide.[20]

    In foreign policy, this is the mentality of “The Good War,” which is actually all wars, since America is always in the right[21] and always faces The New Hitler.

    Of course, this is always portrayed as a sin of the Right — first, the obsession with bombing our enemies not into surrender and crude material plundering (which at least would be understandable)[22] — but “back to the Stone Age,”[23] then, turned suicidally on ourselves, smugly professing ourselves to believe it “Better Dead than Red.”[24]

    But in reality, it’s equally the mindset of the Liberals possessed with the Orwellian-named “Humanitarian Interventionism,” from McKinley’s “helping” the Philippines and just accidentally acquiring an empire, to Wilson’s “War to End All Wars,” to Hillary’s excellent adventures in North Africa. It’s always a war not for plunder or honor, but until the enemy is annihilated: unconditional surrender![25]

    And as Watts would point out, since White can’t really “win” where “win” means “total annihilation of Black,”[26] it follows that war is endless. There’s always a New Hitler; Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia.[27]

    On the domestic front, we see the White against Black mentality in the PC obsessions of modern Identity Politics. [28] The creatures of the PC universe are indeed helpless egos in bags of skin, facing a cruel world that constantly micro-aggresses them. And under such conditions, any accommodation to the Enemy is Treason.[29]

    For Watts, though, things are entirely different:

    The morality that goes with this understanding is, above all, the frank recognition of your dependence upon enemies, underlings, out-groups, and, indeed, upon all other forms of life whatsoever. Involved as you may be in the conflicts and competitive games of practical life, you will never again be able to indulge in the illusion that the “offensive other” is all in the wrong, and could or should be wiped out.[30] This will give you the priceless ability of being able to contain conflicts so that they do not get out-of-hand, of being willing to compromise and adapt, of playing, yes, but playing it cool. This is what is called “honor among thieves,” for the really dangerous people are those who do not recognize that they are thieves — the unfortunates who play the role of the “good guys” with such blind zeal that they are unconscious of any indebtedness to the “bad guys” who support their status.

    As Watts meditates on this, he just keeps digging himself deeper into the role of spokesman for hurtful bullies:

    It is most important that this be understood by those concerned with civil rights, international peace, and the restraint of nuclear weapons. These are most undoubtedly causes to be backed with full vigor, but never in a spirit which fails to honor the opposition, or which regards it as entirely evil or insane. It is not without reason that the formal rules of boxing, judo, fencing, and even dueling require that the combatants salute each other before the engagement. In any foreseeable future there are going to be thousands and thousands of people who detest and abominate Negroes, communists, Russians, Chinese, Jews, Catholics, beatniks, homosexuals, and “dope-fiends.” These hatreds are not going to be healed, but only inflamed, by insulting those who feel them, and the abusive labels with which we plaster them — squares, fascists, rightists, know-nothings — may well become the proud badges and symbols around which they will rally and consolidate themselves. Nor will it do to confront the opposition in public with polite and nonviolent sit-ins and demonstrations, while boosting our collective ego by insulting them in private. If we want justice for minorities and cooled wars with our natural enemies, whether human or non-human, we must first come to terms with the minority and the enemy in ourselves and in our own hearts, for the rascal is there as much as anywhere in the “external” world — especially when you realize that the world outside your skin is as much yourself as the world inside. For want of this awareness, no one can be more belligerent than a pacifist on the rampage, or more militantly nationalistic than an anti-imperialist.

    Watts analyzes the moral crusader in terms straight from the work of that nasty “anti-Semite,” Kevin MacDonald:

    I would never be able to know that I belong to the in-group of “nice” or “saved” people without the assistance of an out-group of “nasty” or “damned” people. How can any in-group maintain its collective ego without relishing dinnertable discussions about the ghastly conduct of outsiders? The very identity of racist Southerners depends upon contrasting themselves with those dirty black “nigras.” But, conversely, the out-groups feel that they are really and truly “in,” and nourish their collective ego with relishingly indignant conversation about squares, Ofays, WASPs, Philistines, and the blasted bourgeoisie.

    Although Watts sees himself, and is, on the side of the Angels here, his refusal to turn this into a Battle in Heaven that the Angels must win against damnable devils marks him out, in contemporary terms, as a turncoat or a Fifth Columnist.[31] In the neo-Stalinist language of the SJWs, no matter what one’s intentions, if one cuts the “enemy” some slack, or mildly critiques one’s own side, one is “objectively” acting for the enemy. For example, when comedian Patton Oswalt [3] retweeted Steve Sailer’s remark that Political Correctness is a war on Noticing, he was immediately attacked [4] by people saying that Sailer was “objectively” racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic.[32]

    And note the use of the quasi-N word! Ban The Book!

    Watts, like Kevin MacDonald, suggests this moral signaling is rooted in Protestantism:

    [M]odern Protestantism in particular, in its liberal and progressive forms, is the religion most strongly influenced by the mythology of the world of objects, and of man as the separate ego. Man so defined and so experienced is, of course, incapable of pleasure and contentment, let alone creative power. Hoaxed into the illusion of being an independent, responsible source of actions, he cannot understand why what he does never comes up to what he should do, for a society which has defined him as separate cannot persuade him to behave as if he really belonged. Thus he feels chronic guilt and makes the most heroic efforts to placate his conscience.

    From these efforts come social services, hospitals, peace movements, foreign-aid programs, free education, and the whole philosophy of the welfare state. Yet we are bedeviled by the fact that the more these heroic and admirable enterprises succeed, the more they provoke new and increasingly horrendous problems.[33] For one thing, few of us have ever thought through the problem of what good such enterprises are ultimately supposed to achieve. When we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and housed the homeless, what then? Is the object to enable unfortunate people to help those still more unfortunate? To convert Hindus and Africans into a huge bourgeoisie, where every Bengali and every Zulu has the privilege of joining our special rat-race, buying appliances on time and a television set to keep him running?[34]

    And surely the Ultimate Methodist Scold is none other than Hillary.

    To Hillary and all the SJWs who would call this a gospel of passivity or even (ironically) despair, Watts make a simple distinction. He asks, if a pretty girl says she loves you, do you say “Are you serious?” or do you say, “Are you sincere?”[35] To the suicidal Seriousness of the Fighter, Watts contrasts the Sincerity and Good Humor of the Player, the Good Sport.[36]

    Be that as it may, Watts’ verdict on the morals and politics of the adult world, pursuing scorched Earth in the name of Morality, is dire:

    The political and personal morality of the West, especially in the United States, is utterly schizophrenic. It is a monstrous combination of uncompromising idealism and unscrupulous gangsterism, and thus devoid of the humor and humaneness which enables confessed rascals to sit down together and work out reasonable deals.

    “A monstrous combination of uncompromising idealism and unscrupulous gangsterism” is really the perfect description of the Clintons, who, to be fair, are only the ultimate and most characteristic product of the Liberal Elite.

    And as for “the humor and humaneness which enables confessed rascals to sit down together and work out reasonable deals,” is this not The Donald himself, the master of The Art of the Deal?[37]

    And those same foreign rascals sense this as well [5]:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin had kind words for his “stablemate” Donald Trump during an annual end-of-the-year Q&A session in Moscow.

    “[Donald Trump is] a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt,” [Vladimir] Putin told reporters, according to a translation by Interfax. “It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race.”

    The GOP frontrunner has been blunt about his plans for defrosting U.S. relations with Russia should he be elected president.

    “He says he wants to move on to a new, more substantial relationship, a deeper relationship with Russia, how can we not welcome that?” he said. “Of course we welcome that.”

    For Hillary, though, foreign policy, like everything else, is Serious Business, and rascals like Putin are devils to be threatened with ’50s style nuclear annihilation.[38] As Camile Paglia has pointed out with some urgency, Hillary is the New Nixon, the ultimate Brown-shoed Square:

    But Hillary, consumed by her own restless bitterness, has no such tranquility. The wheels must grind! The future must be conquered! Past slights must be avenged! So it’s all planning and scheming and piling up loot, the material emblem of existential worth.[39]

    What would The Joker say about planning and scheming, and piling up loot?[40] What would Watts say, or even, dare we think it, God Himself?[41] Is Trump the hero we deserve, or the hero we need? Perhaps, as an earlier Joker would say, he’s the enema this town needs.[42]

    So, get “with it,” kids; save the Earth, and piss off your parents and the all the other squares, too: vote for Trump!

    Notes

    1. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2012).

    2. Watchmen (Alan Moore, 1986; Zach Snyder, 2009).

    3. “Is it Serious?”(audio lecture), here [6].

    4. See the opening paragraphs of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel of madness in Grosse Pointe, Expensive People: “I was a child murderer. I don’t mean child-murderer, though that’s an idea. I mean child murderer, that is, a murderer who happens to be a child, or a child who happens to be a murderer. You can take your choice. When Aristotle notes that man is a rational animal one strains forward, cupping his ear, to hear which of those words is emphasized — rational animal, rational animal? Which am I? Child murderer, child murderer? It took me years to start writing this memoir, but now that I’m started, now that those ugly words are typed out, I could keep on typing forever. A kind of quiet, blubbering hysteria has set in. You would be surprised, normal as you are, to learn how many years, how many months, and how many awful minutes it has taken me just to type that first line, which you read in less than a second: I was a child murderer.” (Vanguard Press, 1968; Modern Library, 2006). For more on Vanguard Press, see my “Anti-Mame: Communist Camp Classic Unmasked,” here [7].

    5. Or “beneath it all” as he might have preferred; as did my mentor, Dr. Deck, who, in his Canadian way, liked to speak of things au fond and of “approfondising” some helpless dead philosopher.

    6. See Greg Johnson’s “The Spiritual Materialism of Alan Watts: A Review of Does it Matter?here [8]. “Watts was known to be a quiet man of the Right, but it is high time that scholars determine just how far to the Right he was.”

    7. Johnson, loc. cit. Watts is somewhat more forthcoming about Douglas in his autobiography, but probably thinks — rightly — that it’s just a name to his readers. See In My Own Way: An Autobiography, 1915–1965 (New York: Pantheon, 1972).

    8. I also love how Watts could see, even back then, that the argument was indeed about intelligence, and the phony opposition between Judaic Creationist Priests and Judaic Materialist Scientists; and what wonderful phrases he comes up with: “insidious plausibility,” “gyrating stupidity.” I vote we start using these ourselves; what else is the opponent of ID but an advocate of “gyrating stupidity”; any guesses as to how many “factuality-facing” fashionable atheists will have the intellectual courage to grasp the term as indeed articulating their view, or give the reason why not?

    9. Compare Thomas Mann’s Dr. Faustus, where the combined futurist extremism and atavistic primitivism (as Mann sees it) that led to the rise of Hitler is explored through a series of grotesque figures in “the Kridwiss Circle” who alternatively shock and amuse the “conservative” nobility, such as Daniel zur Hohe (author of a single book, on “hand-made paper”; a “lyrico-rhetorical outburst of voluptuous terrorism”; Stefan George?), and the, in this case at least, rather Wattsian figure of the polymath “private scholar” Dr. Chaim Breisacher, a Jewish Evola, sneering at the very idea of “progress” in a world that has been declining since Solomon built his temple. Miles Mathis writes that “Scientists will say that the current models are superior to Genesis, at any rate, since one who accepts Genesis doesn’t continue to ask how the Earth evolved. This much is true. Good scientists continue to study, while religious people and bad scientists do not. But this paper is not about good scientists, it is about bloated atheists and bad scientists, the sort that think they already know how things are. They have barebones models of the early Earth, models less than a century old and ever-changing, and they think they can claim with certainty how things are, who exists and who does not, how things got here and where they are going. They think a theory of how things evolved is equivalent to a theory of how things were created. They think a model of a complex twisting molecule is the same as a blueprint for life or an explanation of self-locomotion or a proof of phylogeny. They think that four-vector fields and non-abelian gauge groups and statistical analysis explain existence, complexity, solidity, and change.” The whole article is available here [9]. Seth Macy writes [10] in “Shut Up, Nerd” that “It’s really a delight to see people waking up to the lameness of scientists. Nerds belong in labs or basements, not as the subject of memes. Science is extraordinarily useful. Scientists are extraordinarily lame, but they make science, so they have worth to society. The entire ‘skeptical movement’ is filled with the same boring people who love to shit on everything right and lovely. They can’t shit on stuff that sucks, because then they’d need to shit all over themselves like some skeptic tubgirl. We need to stop listening to anything they say outside of the confines of laboratory settings. It’s like your favorite comedian spewing politics on Twitter. Shut the fuck up.”

    10. See The Joyous Cosmology (1965; reprinted 2015 with an introduction by Daniel Pinchbeck). “The Joyous Cosmology is Alan Watts’s exploration of the insight that the consciousness-changing drugs LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin can facilitate ‘when accompanied with sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is in search, not of kicks, but of understanding’. More than an artifact, it is both a riveting memoir of Watts’s personal experiments and a profound meditation on our perennial questions about the nature of existence and the existence of the sacred.”

    11. Thus, Jesus says that we should not listen to someone who says of the kingdom of Heaven that lo! It is here or lo! It is there, for the Kingdom is within us. “And indeed We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self develops, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (Quran 50:16).

    12. Ironically enough, the company and channel is called Tragedy and Hope, which should again be a “red flag” for conspiracy hounds, as well as connecting Watts to Hillary through Bill’s college mentor (and CIA control?) Carroll Quigley. Indeed, “Isaac’s videos document his journey from conspiracy theory to spirituality, a path that many of us who have opened the conspiracy can of worms can personally relate to. ‘If you look through my channel  [11]you will see that it is basically a reflection of my awakening, starting out with conspiracies and politics and then moving into philosophy and spirituality, which I now believe to be the most important truth,’ he said [12].”

    13. Such as making sense out of creation ex nihilo. See John N. Deck’s epochal critique “St. Thomas Aquinas and the Language of Total Dependence,” first published in Dialogue: A Canadian Philosophical Review, Vol. 6, 1967, pp. 74–88; anthologized in Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays, Anthony Kenny, ed. (Notre Dame University Press, 1976), pp. 237–254, and online here [13]. Deck later generalized his argument as “The Itself: In-Another Pattern and Total Dependence,” [14] also on Tony Flood’s website devoted to debating the issue.

    14. George Bernard Shaw, a proponent of “vitalism,” argued that the public acceptance of Darwinism was not motivated by the supposed evidence — they not being scientists, after all — but rather by weariness at the constant surveillance and intrusions of the Calvinist God, little realizing that the God-less model left them with a literally senseless and meaningless universe. See his Preface to Back to Methuselah.

    15. “You are a fluke of the Universe. You have no right to be here. And whether you know it or not, the Universe is laughing behind your back.” From Deteriorata [15], the National Lampoon parody of the uplifting 70s LP/poster Desiderata [16]. For my reflections on the ‘poon, see here [17]. Deteriorata addresses both the Ceramic Model as well as Watts’ Joyous Cosmology: “Therefore, make peace with your god, whatever you perceive him to be: hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin.” Oddly enough, Adlai Stevenson was apparently a fan, despite his mean-spirited attack on Norman Vincent Peale (see my “The Secret of Trump’s A Peale,” here [18]).

    16. Dr. Deck would correct Watts, or “approfondise” him, here; White and Black are a “dialectic couplet,” but White is the “senior partner.” In this sense, and only in this sense, White must win; the necessity is logical, not willful. As Guénon would say, quality and quantity are only logical opposites, not real entities; and while the Whole can be described, as a facon de paler, as “Quality,” (though really transcending both), “Quantity” (matter, darkness, evil, emptiness, etc.) is only a shadow, a point approached asymtopically. Watts does sometimes notice this: “The game doesn’t work in reverse, just as the ocean doesn’t work with wave-crests down and troughs up.”

    17. Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

    Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?

    Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.

    Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.

    Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!

    Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes . . .

    Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!

    Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together . . . mass hysteria!

    Mayor: All right, all right! I get the point! (Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman, 1984).

    18. Another un-PC moment. This is the answer to all those Christians who smugly talk about “we are all God’s children” or “In Heaven there is no Jew or Gentile” as if this required us to throw open the borders, abolish all voting requirements, etc. They have confused (deliberately?) the levels of Heaven and Earth — “immanatized the Eschaton,” as Voegelin liked to say.

    19. This all and all the following otherwise unattributed quotes are from The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (Pantheon, 1967), available online [19] here and elsewhere.

    20. “We came, we saw, he died.” You can, if you want, watch it here [20].

    21. “And you can believe me. . . . Because I never lie, and I’m always right.” Campaign ad for George Leroy Tirebiter’s father, running for dog-killer, on the Firesign Theater’s Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers [21] (Columbia, 1970). According to Wikipedia, the first late-night movie on the album, High School Madness, “is a parody of the Aldrich Family [22] radio show, the Archie [23] comic book and of 1950s youth culture in general.” See my “Welcome to the Club: The Rise & Fall of the Männerbund in Pre-War American Pop Culture,” here [24]. The second movie, Parallel Hell” “is a war film set in Korea, where the soldiers (including Tirebiter) debate the seemingly endless war.”

    22. Like Chris Rock on OJ, Watts doesn’t say traditional war is right, but he understands the need and the goals.

    23. Or perhaps at least the Jazz Age. “Leading to a Crowning Moment of Funny [25] as the pilots practice bombing the absolute shit out of the desert while muzak plays: Crow: We’re gonna bomb ‘em back to the Jazz Age!” TV Tropes [26] on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Episode 612, The Starfighters.

    24. Christian conservatives like the Buckleyites would often smugly assert that this was a “truly spiritual” view, which is true in the sense that Christianity and other Ceramic Religions seem to lead to it; when it is actually merely the crackpot “spirit vs. matter” spirituality that Watts contrasts with “a really thoroughgoing spiritual materialism.”

    25. Sir Fred Hoyle’s October the First is Too Late imagines that men of present England, dumped into a world where WWI is still raging in France, would immediately try to stop the slaughter. Perhaps, but would they have done the same if it were 1942? See my “Worlds Enough & Times: The Unintentionally Weird Fiction of Fred Hoyle,” here [27].

    26. Again, in the phenomenal world. Ultimately, at the end of this Manvantara, Black “wins” but the wheel immediately flips, setting up first the sleep of Brahman, then a new Golden Age as the cycle begins again. See “The Basic Myth” in Does It Matter?

    27. Needless to say, the global oligarchs are fully onboard this, like all other aspects of the “Liberal” agenda; permanent war means permanent profits.

    28. Marxism might at first seem to be an alternative to the Social Darwinist individualism of the Right, what with its obsession with classes, but just like Darwin (another “iconoclast” beloved of “skeptics” and other nerdy asshats), Marxists do not see the people as natural products of the State, but as random individuals united only by superficial nominalism of class characteristics. Even Marx recognized that “Religion is . . . the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.”

    29. Like Watts, Burroughs had a more relaxed, realistic view: ““I would like to sound a word of warning — To speak is to lie — to live is to collaborate . . .” William Burroughs, Nova Express (New York: Grove Press, 1964), p. 14.

    30. Gilad Atzmon gets it: “One would expect an academic scholar specialising in Modern Jewish History to grasp that Zionism as well as the State of Israel are sustained by Jew hatred. If ‘anti-Semitism’ disappears, Israel and Zionism become obsolete concepts. Understanding this, Israel and Zionism have consistently contributed to the rise of anti-Semitism. When there is no anti-Semitism to point at, Jewish institutions simply invent it, as they are presently doing in the Labour party.” See “Hitler the Zionist,” here [28].

    31. I suppose something like this lies behind the occasional Leftist conspiracy theorist who thinks that the drug and hippie movements were “manufactured” by the CIA to derail the burgeoning anti-war movement, turning manly tribunes of the Folk into lethargic burnouts, or else scaring everyone else with tales of the Manson Family. See the various writings of Miles Mathis [29]. Shrine of Eris [30] writes that “He likes to rip the rug from under people I may like quite a bit, such as Rupert Sheldrake, and Alan Watts, and Russell Brand (all three working towards ‘‘an agenda of drug use’’ and pseudo ‘‘mysticism’’ promotion, apparently, and quite plausibly in my opinion), and Terrence McKenna (self-confessed CIA plant). Graham Hancock. Ram Dass. Timothy Leary. Blavatsky, Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Hemingway; All the great and cool get a lash of his tongue. Which could be sad. . . . but I find it refreshing. He sees Red Flags everywhere, this Mathis. Most everyone who has set the foundation for counterculture of any kind, he sees as a plant. We are being lulled into spending lifetimes contemplating unknowable things and being passive — armchair philosophers, who think we can get a handle on consciousness — and this is a deliberate ploy to occupy an intelligentsia that might otherwise be out on the streets actually doing something. I see a lot of truth in this idea. But as he says himself . . . ‘—the truth is hard to find. It has been made hard to find on purpose, and I am not claiming I know everything or anything.’’’ One would think such an elaborate “cunning plan [31]“ (or “Batman Gambit [32]“) was hardly necessary; all that was needed was to end the draft and the whole movement faded away. “Robin: But suppose something went wrong. Suppose Tut didn’t raise his voice, what then? Batman: I prefer not to think about those things, Robin. They depress me.” — Batman (TV series), “I’ll Be a Mummy’s Uncle.”

    32. For more on Oswalt, see Gregory Hood’s review of his film Big Fan, here [33].

    33. Conservatives call this “unintended consequences,” which admittedly is the go-to response to any proposal and a call to do nothing as a policy. For example, we now see the well-intentioned Scandinavian social welfare model upended by the inevitable, almost compulsive impulse to signal yet more moral status by welcoming the unassimilable darkies.

    34. As James Kunstler and others have long noted, the spread of consumer capitalism (what he calls “the world of happy Motoring”) would indeed be an apocalyptic catastrophe, in ecological terms.

    35. I feel the need to point out that such “games” have nothing to do with the man-o-sphere’s notion of “Game,” which is indeed the very epitome of making the game into a fight to be pursued oh so seriously.

    36. Watts might have to admit that those hated English public schools did teach him something valuable.

    37. See his Trump: The Art of the Deal (1987; Ballantine paperback edition, 2015). The hatred of “deals” is rife on both sides of the political spectrum, but takes its most unctuous form among the Neocons, who find it distasteful to deal with those dubbed “Evil,” calling it nothing but “appeasement.”

    38. “At a California fundraiser last year, she reportedly compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. . . . Conservative commentator Paul Craig Roberts, an economist who served as assistant secretary of treasury under President Reagan, warned that Mrs. Clinton will have a difficulty backing down from a confrontation with Mr. Putin after calling him Hitler. “When you go that far out on a limb, you really kind of have to go the rest of the way,” he said in an interview at Infowars.com. “I don’t think there is any candidate that we can end up with as president that would be more likely to go to war with Russia than Hillary.” “Hillary Clinton’s hawkish position on Russia troubles both sides of aisle” by S. A. Miller; The Washington Times, June 9, 2015, here [34].

    39. “It’s not about sexism: Camille Paglia on Trump, Hillary’s “restless bitterness” and the end of the elites,” Salon, May 5, 2016, here [35].

    40. See Trevor Lynch’s review of The Dark Knight here [36].

    41. “Take no thought for tomorrow. . . . Lay not up treasure on Earth”?

    42. Batman (Tim Burton, 1989).

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Hunger Games
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,003 words

    In a place once called “America,” there is no culture — there’s only marketing. Every several months, post-Americans obediently shuffle to the specified location to consume the latest mass product. Pressured by a media campaign as autocratically directed as any celebration of Juche, consumers of all classes will spend their dwindling savings on the officially and unofficially licensed products of the latest corporate constructed entertainment.

    As any sense of a real culture or shared tradition breaks down, there’s no longer a community, but only a mass anti-culture sustained by centrally directed publicity campaigns.

    The hypocrisy and exploitation of the system becomes ever more apparent, the threat of naked force is ever more obvious, and what is worse, the people are required to rejoice at their own destruction through panem et circenses. They might even do it voluntarily.

    Welcome to the Hunger Games. Welcome to what was once our country, anno Domini 2012.

    Having been stripped of their history, culture, identity, faith, or even linguistic unity, perhaps the only thing the denizens of what was once a real country called America have in common are the mass media campaigns that push the latest franchise. While there is still the centrally produced prolefeed of the Rihanna variety, dissenters in music can find the niche market that caters to their own idiosyncrasy. Politics is increasingly irrelevant, the responsibilities of citizenship a sick joke, and even news reporting has become so fragmented that journalism serves to confirm bias or defend taboos rather than expose new facts. Even war has no effect on the vast majority of the country.

    What the consumers inhabiting North America have in common, and perhaps the only thing they have in common, are the major franchise campaigns that sweep through the youth market. Creations like Harry Potter, Batman, or even the Twilight [2]series require hundreds of millions of dollars in production and marketing investment, and so overwhelm even the supposed democratization of the culture that the online era was supposed to create.

    The characters, stories, and dialogue of popular films, especially multi-film and multi-book franchises that spawn an entire fictional world, serve as the common cultural touchstones of young people, the source by which they define values such as beauty, masculinity, courage, or coolness. Also, while centrally produced and disseminated by a culturally destructive elite, a truly popular story can’t help but reflect deeply embedded archetypes or widely shared sentiments, even those that are suppressed or forbidden by the people themselves.

    Therefore, what does it tell us that what could be the most popular movie of all time is about the government forcing children to murder each other for entertainment?

    The Hunger Games tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl living in post-apocalyptic North America destroyed by unspecified natural disasters. She is a resident of District 12, a depressed coal-mining region of a nation known as Panem. The 12 regions of Panem each produce a single staple commodity for the benefit of the Capitol, a spectacularly wealthy and decadent city ruled by the dictatorial President Snow. The Capitol uses advanced technology and an army of “Peacekeepers” to keep down the districts. Many years ago, the districts rose against the Capitol in rebellion. The Capitol retaliated (supposedly) by completely annihilating the now unpopulated District 13.

    In remembrance and eternal punishment for their rebellion, the Capitol decreed that every year, one boy and one girl between 12 to 18 from each district would be sent to compete in the “Hunger Games,” a nationally televised fight to the death that only one could survive. The Games are part media spectacle and part reminder to everyone in the districts that the Capitol not only rules them but can even take away their children for their own entertainment. After a random drawing at the yearly “reaping,” the heroine’s 12-year-old little sister Primrose is drawn. To save her life, Katniss sacrificially volunteers as tribute, and is sent to compete in the Games.

    [3]Author Suzanne Collins is a children’s writer, and the sparse, plot-driven prose is targeted at young adults, especially young women. The de rigueur love triangle is introduced, with Katniss torn between her best friend (and inevitable love interest) Gale, and her fellow tribute from District 12, the well-built but gentle baker’s boy Peetra, who has secretly been pining for her for years.

    However, Katniss is no Bella Swann, and considers all personal relationships, romantic or otherwise, in terms of her own interests. While she lionizes her deceased father, Katniss cannot rely on her own mother, who jeopardized the survival of her family with her emotional collapse. For years, she has provided for her family by (illegally) taking to the woods with bow and arrow to slaughter game. Self-reliant, unsentimental, and coolly capable of taking life, it’s easy to see why Katniss has been celebrated as the latest manifestation of media friendly grrrl power.

    While the usual Buffy style pop feminism is part of the popularity of Games, the depth of its cultural impact suggests there is far more at work. There have been predictable explanations that fit into the official narrative that governs the society that Hunger Games is about environmentalism (it must have been global warming that destroyed society) or class prejudice (there’s a ruling elite, therefore oppression). Conservatives have also chirped about what you would expect them to say (the government is oppressive, therefore, libertarian fable about low taxes). There’s also the interpretation that the entire thing is just one large metaphor for high school.

    It’s perhaps a general rule of White Nationalism that the farther some cultural phenomenon or figure is from our position, the more inclined we are to read something we want into it. That said, the portrait of Panem that seems so relatable to tens of millions of young Americans suggests a deep seated disgust at the heart of the American psyche, particularly that of whites.

    There is a conflict of the “99% versus the 1%” at the center of Panem, but it is a story that defies the approved media narrative of our own time. The Capitol that is the center of evil in Panem is driven by purposeless exploitation. Rather than grim faced blonde Herrenvolk oppressing the colored masses of the Districts, Collins presents an exaggerated portrait of our own progressive elites. They are effeminate and hysterical physical weaklings with pointless lives. The complicated edifice of power reaches its zenith not in a black-garbed order of Übermenschen fanatically dedicated to an occult quest, but in a contemptible menagerie of spoiled sexual deviants that give themselves cat whiskers and brightly colored wigs to look “attractive.”

    Rather than fear, they inspire contempt. Katniss, upon encountering their way of life, if it can be so called, says, “What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment . . . the whole rotten lot of them is despicable” (p. 65).

    Rather than Nazis or even old school Communists, the oppressive Capitol society seems composed of liberal arts graduate students, part time workers at feminist bookstores in Portland, and a sprinkling of the wealthier members of Occupy Wall Street. Panem has somehow reversed Hegel’s master-slave relationship — the one who is unwilling to risk his life for honor has become the master.

    Selectively controlled technology makes it possible. The Capitol’s media manipulation, genetically engineered creatures, warplanes, and hovercraft remind the reader of the current Hollywood Imperium’s unmanned drones. In contrast, Katniss is a poor and uneducated white huntress, precisely the kind of person sneered at nightly by the likes of Bill Maher or Jon Stewart Leibowitz. Hailing from the Appalachian coal country, she is from the one group that our own society despises beyond all others.

    The districts are contrasted with the Capitol because they produce actually useful products and necessities for life. Workers here are willing to risk their own lives in dangerous jobs to secure food for deeply loved families and friends. Meanwhile, those connected to the system can wallow in pointless luxury. Even the ostensible Führer, Coriolanus Snow, surrounds himself with roses to conceal the smell of blood from his mouth sores and secured his position through poison and intrigue, rather than charisma, strength, or ideological fanaticism.

    The name of the country itself says it all: the point of Panem is consumption — the pursuit of happiness, in its most degraded form. Rather than some departure from America, the Capitol is contemporary America taken to its logical conclusion. Neither market worshipping conservatives nor trendy lifestyle liberals should be comfortable with the results.

    It’s been said that if I tell you our society is ruled by an oppressive elite, you will call me a liberal, a reformist, and an idealist. If I tell you who that oppressive elite is, you will call me a Nazi, a racist, and an anti-Semite.

    The Capitol of the present United States continues to grow in wealth and power, systematically sucking wealth and productivity from the “districts” in flyover country. Federal government employees enjoy higher salaries and benefits than the productive classes and the patronage system is governed almost entirely with the objective of providing free educations and cushy jobs.

    Meanwhile, Eric Holder’s own “peacekeepers” at the Department of Justice periodically sortie out into the districts to suppress local resistance to the central regime, whether its voter ID in Texas, an immigration law in Mississippi, or a troublesome sheriff in Arizona, even as entire cities become ungovernable.

    All of this is meant to suppress white workers, the white middle class, and what’s left of an actually existing folk community, as the existence of a real country would interfere with an economy seemingly based on debt driven finance capitol, media manipulation, and services for a degenerate and sociopathic upper class. As in Panem, the lower classes are given reality television and the promise that — if they play by the rules — they may be given a taste of the good life, like the victors in the Games.

    Media manipulation is also central to the story. Katniss’s encounters with the tributes trying to kill her or the obstacles the “gamemakers” throw her way are relatively simple compared to the necessity of creating the media image needed to survive. Participants in the Hunger Games are watched by citizens of Panem who have the ability to send “gifts” such as food, armor, or medicine to the players they choose. Of course, in order for “sponsors” to want to spend their hard-earned money to send gifts, the fighters have to create a relationship with the very people who are watching them die on television. Makeup, witty remarks, even completely fictional relationships are created in order to develop artificial human interest to invest the people of Panem in a particular fighter. Her assigned mentor Heymitch, a past winner of the games, trains Katniss more in media relations than in actual fighting. Katniss’s relationship to Peetra is partially one of sentiment, partially one of circumstance, but mostly, at least from her perspective, a deliberate ploy to win audience sympathy and their twisted form of love.

    To win the Hunger Games, you have to become a celebrity. Behind the primitivism of spears, bows, and fighting to the death, the book is a product of the internet age, where a viral video or sex tape can make or break fortunes in an instant. Everyone is available and accountable to everyone else. This is the first generation that takes for granted that social networking, the internet, and media allow each person to present a completely artificial image to the rest of the world, one that eventually has the power to replace the “real” person behind it. In the age of Facebook, even supposedly passionate teenage relationships are about appearances as much as reality. Katniss is manipulated into a “relationship” with Peetra for her own survival and by the end of the book, even she doesn’t know what she feels anymore. She’s also dependent on the mass society that gives her the supplies she needs to face another day, but is also deriving entertainment from her suffering. “Why am I hopping around like some trained dog trying to please people I hate?” she says (p. 117). Of course, if she openly dissents from the Capitol, even with the slightest remark, Katniss, her family, and her friends will all be destroyed. The white advocate of today can sympathize.

    What is truly horrifying is that the Capitol residents are in some ways even more degraded then their slaves. As with our own society, all experiences are mediated. Life in the Capitol seems to be about watching the games and imagining some kind of a real connection with the contestants, to be discarded when they conclude. This is hardly different from Oprah watching housewives cooing over Madonna’s latest African baby, obsessing over Jennifer Aniston’s new boyfriend, or watching Dancing With the Stars. Like residents of the Capitol, many Americans can only be termed alive in the purely technical sense, as they have no purpose to their existence beyond living vicariously through the people on an electronic screen. At least in Panem, the contestants are actually fighting for their lives, as opposed to a record deal.

    Race is not directly addressed in the Games, and yet, as always, it is. In the book and certainly in the casting of the film, Katniss, Gale, Heymitch, and Peetra are all white, the last with blonde hair and blue eyes. The black characters serve in the traditional role of numinous Negroes who help the white protagonist come to a greater understanding of his or her place in the world and the responsibility to work towards social justice. Cinna, a fashion designer who helps Katniss win the crowds in the book and supports her, has been transformed from a green eyed protagonist in the book to being portrayed by Lenny Kravitz in the film. He is the one character in the Capitol who is wholly sympathetic and somehow aware of the contemptible nature of the society he serves. Somehow, when compared to contemporary fashion designers, this character does not ring true.

    The two black tributes in the film, Rue and Thresh, both hail from the agricultural district 2 where crop pickers are forced to work all day in a presumable nod to slavery. Rue [4] is a small, agile young girl who allies with Katniss in the Games before bearing speared by another tribute. As a young small female who dies pitiably, she becomes Katniss’s moral center. As Rue dies, Katniss sings to her and holds her hand, salutes her, and then puts flowers on her before her body is taken away. Collins thus avoids the necessity for Katniss to actually kill a member of one of the victim classes at some point. Thresh [5], who is also from Rue’s district, inexplicably spares Katniss at a critical moment in gratitude for her kindness to Rue. Again, as in Batman: The Dark Knight [6], when the black criminal refused to blow up the ship to save his own life, the large black male character shows all the evil white people the true meaning of morality by reacting in a wildly unrealistic way in a life or death situation.

    The bad guys of The Hunger Games among the contestants are the “Careers,” tributes who have trained for the contest all their lives and are eager to kill for a chance of glory. The leader is the blonde haired Cato [7], who is the required blonde haired villain familiar to every teen movie, even apparently post-apocalyptic ones. “Glimmer [8]” the beautiful but evil Aryan chick, serves as part of his pack along with “Marvel [9],” another evil Aryan. There are a few borderline nonwhite tributes, who exist to be quickly slaughtered and forgotten without us learning their probably unpronounceable names. As always, the heroes are white, the villains are whites, blacks serve as moral mascots to help us tell good from evil, and a few non-whites run around for scenery and to fill a quota of some sort. Whether unconsciously, accidentally, slyly deliberately, or with the kind of sanctimonious liberal racism that presumes only whites can be moral actors for good or evil, the message is for us.

    In any movie about social change and revolution, the marginalized assign their own meaning, and no doubt some Communist is writing his own review about the Marxist subtext of The Hunger Games. Nonetheless, while a traditional Leninist could find substance in narrative of exploitation, such a message is outdated when confronting our socially liberal, eminently fashionable, and militantly multicultural ruling class. The residents of the Capitol look more like guest bloggers for Gawker than the lords of the Kremlin. The Hunger Games confronts the nihilism of modernity, with struggle, even deadly struggle, presented as a path to redemption and morally preferable to consumption. Even brutality is better than passively watching others do it for your entertainment and at least it means asserting your own existence. Whites as hunters, fighters, and warriors, even as children, is a bracing image when contrasted to the passive, overweight, apologetic and diabetic couch potatoes our enemies’ society has carefully bred. Nor is easy to avoid who recognizing is the enemy when the very programs on MTV or E! promoting the film are hosted by bizarre surgically warped creatures that look like they crawled straight out of President Snow’s entourage.

    All American whites have both the Capitol and the Districts in them, and the mass media that pushes the franchise contains within it a self-directed radical critique. The society is sick beyond saving, in Panem and the Capitol, and the only question is what group will step forward to offer the alternative. The message is Catching Fire.

    Down with the Capitol!

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Why Dark Shadows Sucks
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,548 words

    I was a very small child when the Dark Shadows serial was first airing on ABC at 4:00pm Monday through Friday. Some of my most vivid early memories are associated with it. Dark Shadows was originally conceived as a Gothic romance. Premiering on June 27, 1966, it centered on Victoria Winters, a young woman who takes the job of governess to the young scion of the wealthy Collins family, who reside in the spooky Collinwood mansion in spooky Collinsport, Maine. (Victoria was played by Alexandra Moltke, actually Countess Cornelia Alexandra Moltke, herself the scion of an aristocratic Swedish family. She later gained notoriety as the mistress of Claus von Bülow.)

    The series floundered in the ratings for 209 episodes, until in desperation producer Dan Curtis decided to try something outrageous by the standards of daytime TV. Hunting for treasure, local loser Willie Loomis, finds a secret room inside the Collins family vault and unwittingly releases vampire Barnabas Collins. The earlier episodes had featured supernatural elements, but nothing as radical as this.

    To appreciate part of the reason why Dark Shadows made such a big cultural impact in the mid to late ’60s, one has to keep in mind that it was, after all, a daytime soap. These programs were designed primarily for stay-at-home moms and were sponsored by companies like Proctor and Gamble (who make soap, in case you don’t know – hence, “soap opera”). They dealt with family problems and love affairs. Scenes took place at the breakfast table or in the living room and were mostly heart-to-heart chats (the kind that woman like to have). Someone was always pouring someone else a cup of coffee. It was all very familiar, comforting terrain, albeit glamorized by perfect hair, makeup, and teeth. Female viewers identified with the characters and their problems. To add to the realism, soaps were shot on videotape, which always has a more immediate, direct quality to it (unlike the glossiness of film).

    And into this homey, lace curtain and checked table cloth terrain, into this world of “Will Brad ever ask Janet to . . . ?” came the undead Barnabas Collins, crawling out of his moldering crypt, bent on sucking the life out of perky local waitress Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) and turning her into his vampire bride. Suddenly soap operas were scary.

    And although people laugh at Dark Shadows today (for reasons I’ll turn to in a moment) it was often genuinely creepy. The fact that Barnabas had been injected into that mundane afternoon world that female viewers so closely identified with made the program feel unaccountably weird. It almost felt like these events were really happening; like the uncanny and horrific really had suddenly pierced the sunny veil of suburban placidity. And the fact that it was videotaped, with a minimal budget added to the weird quality of “realness” that the whole thing had. (As any horror film fan can attest, low budgets often enhance creepiness.)

    [2]

    A classic image of Frid as Barnabas

    But Barnabas was no ordinary vampire, he was a tragic figure. In the first few Barnabas episodes, viewers were left in suspense, wondering if he really is a vampire (or one of those “fake” vampires that you sometimes see on TV; like the haunted house that turns out, at the end of the hour, to be not really haunted after all). In one memorable scene at the close of one episode, he walks into Maggie’s bedroom as she sleeps and proceeds to grin wide, revealing . . . a set of perfectly ordinary teeth. But audience members – at least some of them – were sure they had seen fangs. And so viewers were left in suspense over the weekend: were there fangs in Barnabas’s mouth, or not? The mystery was resolved on Monday when, at the beginning of that day’s episode, the scene was reshot. This time when Barnabas opened his mouth no one could fail to perceive that he was sporting a set of very realistic vampire fangs. And it was clear that he was up to no good.

    But as the writers developed the Barnabas storyline, it emerged that he was a tortured soul, and anything but a simple villain. Back in the 1790s he had spurned the affections of a glamorous witch named Angelique. Her vengeance consisted in killing Barnabas’s beloved fiancé Josette and turning him into a vampire. When Barnabas’s grief-stricken father discovered his son’s terrible fate, he sealed him in an iron coffin, wrapped it in chains, and hid it in the secret room in the family crypt. And so Barnabas lay in that coffin, mad with blood lust, until released by Willie Loomis in 1967. The reason Barnabas goes after Maggie, by the way, is that he believes she is the reincarnation of his dead Josette. Horrified by his condition, Barnabas allows Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall, wife of series writer Sam Hall) to experiment on him in the hopes of curing his vampirism.

    In short, it was all terribly tragic and romantic – and imaginative and engrossing. Barnabas was the first “tragic” vampire: before Blacula (yes, Blacula was a tragic vampire), Interview with the Vampire, the Coppola Dracula film, Angel, the Twilight [3] films, and True Blood. (Did I miss one?) In 1973 Dan Curtis made a TV movie version of Dracula starring Jack Palance in the title role. Both Curtis and writer Richard Matheson felt that Stoker’s character was one-dimensional; a thorough villain whose motives were often inexplicable. And so Curtis dipped back into the well of Dark Shadows and came up with an anguished Dracula obsessed with the woman he sees as the reincarnation of his long-dead wife. If this Dracula sounds very familiar, it’s because Francis Ford Coppola stole the idea for his 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula (no, there is nothing like this in Stoker’s novel!). And, if you’ve noticed, virtually all the vampires since then have been troubled, reluctant, and vulnerable. But it all started with Barnabas Collins.

    In any case, to return to the 1960s: Dark Shadows became a major ratings hit – and Jonathan Frid, the actor who played Barnabas, became an unlikely heartthrob. Frid was 43 when he joined the cast, and not conventionally handsome. But there was something fascinating about both his physical appearance as Barnabas, and his performance – something that appealed to women (especially older women, I think).

    As Barnabas, Frid could be alternately sinister and affecting. He was often undeniably stiff, but that actually helped because Barnabas was conceived as very much a gentleman of the 1790s: gallant, courtly, and flawlessly polite. Undoubtedly, this was one of the major aspects of the character that appealed to women. He was not a man of the present. He was a man out of a better, more genuine age. He really loved Josette (pass box of Kleenex, please). He was masterful. He could put women under his power. And he knew how to deal with ruffians like Willie. He knew what honor meant – and what it means to make a vow. And he really . . . sniff . . . loved Josette. (Trevor Lynch has given us a very perceptive analysis of why vampire stories appeal to women in his review [4] of the first Twilight film.) When Jonathan Frid made personal appearances he was inevitably mobbed by screaming and weeping female fans. The Barnabas cult of the late 1960s had a kind of creepy, necrophile quality to it. But then again, this was the era when Tiny Tim was a sex symbol.

    Of course, Dark Shadows was not just a hit with housewives and their still-single, bespectacled older sisters. Go online and read around and you’ll find countless people a little older than me talking about how they “ran home from school every day” to watch Dark Shadows. (Ironically, this was one of the reasons the series was cancelled when its ratings begin to slip: kids didn’t make the buying decisions in households – not then anyway. And so Dark Shadows became less attractive to advertisers.) The response to the juvenile fans of the series came in the form of lunch boxes, posters, model kits, board games, coloring books, jigsaw puzzles, and comic books. Paperback Library published thirty-two (yes, thirty-two) novels based on the series, penned by Marilyn Ross (actually, Dan Ross – Marilyn was his wife’s name).

    This is where I come in. My mother only let me watch Dark Shadows now and then, because she thought it was too scary for a small child (and she was right: I still get chills when I remember the episode where the face of the evil Angelique appeared in the fireplace, laughing maniacally). What I knew about it I got mainly by word of mouth and by reading the comic book published  by Gold Key. (Those Dark Shadows comic books, by the way, were published until 1976: five years after the series was cancelled.) But – like Johnny Depp – I became utterly fascinated with Barnabas Collins.

    [5]

    The Barnabas “Vampire Van” model kit my mother threw away

    I longed to own Barnabas’s wolf’s head walking stick. I even combed my hair like Barnabas. I would roam through the neighborhood at dusk (something you could do in the early ’70s), watch the neighbors eat dinner through their dining room windows, and try to put them under my hypnotic spell. I owned a Barnabas model kit (“Barnabas’s Vampire Van”) which was sort of a hearse with Barnabas inside. One day it disappeared from my room. My mother told me she had accidentally broken it while dusting. I learned much later she had thrown it away – concerned at the effect such a macabre toy might have on my young mind. Needless to say, this did no good, and I just got weirder and weirder. She was shutting the garage door after the hearse had already gone.

    It was in the 1980s, I believe, that I got to finally sit down and really watch a lot of Dark Shadows, because that’s when it came to our area in syndication. I was disappointed, because it seemed really bad. The actors flubbed their lines a lot, parts of sets would fall over, props would malfunction, and you could see the shadow of the boom (the microphone that hangs over the soundstage) practically all the time. (This is how the series earned the industry nickname “Mic Shadows.”) But I had to admit that the story was great. It crossed my mind that somebody ought to take that story and do it over again – but this time rehearse the actors a little and spend more money on sets and take a little more care with the lighting.

    Producer Dan Curtis, it turns out, was thinking the same thing. In 1970 he made the feature film House of Dark Shadows, featuring the original cast. It was Curtis’s first major credit as director and holds up quite well today. The film followed the basic Barnabas Collins story (only in the end he gets staked!) and demonstrated the great potential of the Dark Shadows saga – when accompanied by rehearsals, a bigger budget, and better lighting. (This film was followed, unfortunately, by a very weak sequel called Night of Dark Shadows, which should be avoided at all costs.)

    In 1991 Curtis brought Dark Shadows back to television as a big-budget prime time series on NBC. The cast was entirely new—and terrific. Ben Cross played Barnabas Collins and the great horror actress Barbara Steele played Dr. Hoffman. The writers again followed the basic storyline of the original serial, right down to the sequence of events wherein Victoria travels back in time to the 1790s so that we can see how Barnabas becomes a vampire. It was an excellent series, and demonstrated once more that whatever the faults of the soap opera may have been, at its core was a timelessly classic romantic tale. Alas, the series was pre-empted so many times by coverage of Operation Desert Storm that it lost its audience, and was cancelled after one season.

    But Curtis did not give up! In 2004 he filmed a Dark Shadows pilot for the WB network, with Alec Newman as Barnabas, but it was not picked up. And two years later Curtis died of a brain tumor. Dark Shadows fandom was far from dead, however. Fans have kept the memory of the series alive, luring the surviving cast back to Dark Shadows conventions (yes, it’s big enough for conventions), and even persuading them to appear in newly-penned Dark Shadows audio plays. I suppose I have to admit that I’m a fan (in case you haven’t already figured that out). And so I was delighted when I heard that Tim Burton was making a $150 million feature film version starring Johnny Depp.

    It didn’t bother me that Burton was the director, as I’ve enjoyed several of his films (especially Ed Wood). I thought he would bring an interesting, quirky approach to the material – and I had heard that both he and Johnny Depp were fans. The news reports about the film bothered me slightly. Almost every single one described the original series as “campy,” which is simply not accurate. Yes, Dark Shadows is often unintentionally funny: when the actors flub their lines or fake trees fall over, etc. But “camp” is something from which we derive a kind of delicious ironic enjoyment because it’s unoriginal, naïve, or in bad taste (and the greater the pretensions of the makers, the funnier it is).

    Camp can be produced unintentionally or intentionally. Ed Wood’s films are campy because he thought they were good, while in fact they are terrible. By contrast, the Batman TV series of the 1960s was deliberately campy. But Dark Shadows doesn’t fall into either category. It’s actually quite original and it features, as I’ve said, a clever, imaginative, and absorbing plotline. And it was always in good taste. To paraphrase what Brigitte Bardot once said about sex, when Dark Shadows is good it’s really good, and when it’s bad it’s still pretty good. So good, in fact, that one overlooks the flubbed lines and mic shadows.

    [6]

    Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins — scary

    So it bothered me slightly when I heard that the film promised to be a “campy” reinvention of the “campy” series. However, I often enjoy deliberate camp, so I was prepared to accept Burton’s film. Once I saw the trailer, in fact, I was prepared to love it. It seemed riotously funny, imaginative, and visually arresting. And so last Thursday I queued up and saw the film in a cinema in Manhattan. I deliberately avoided seeing it on its opening day, as I assumed cinemas would be packed . I assumed wrong, however, as Dark Shadows has done disappointing business so far. When I saw it there were only about 15 people in the cinema with me – though admittedly it was four o’clock on a Thursday afternoon.

    I was disappointed that the film did not open with Robert Cobert’s classic theme (re-used in the 1991 series), but my disappointment quickly turned to delight. As others have pointed out, Burton has done a masterful job of re-creating 1972: the year in which the film is set (the original series ended in 1971). Right down to lava lamps, door beads, bean bag chairs, and Donovan. The film re-tells the basic story of Barnabas – how he becomes a vampire (in flashback), how he returns to Collinsport, his love for Josette, his occult war with Angelique – though a great deal has been truncated and otherwise altered. And it is uproariously funny. I literally laughed so hard parts of me hurt – though I often seemed to be the only one in the theatre getting the humor.

    Indeed, the humor is this film’s greatest asset. And its greatest flaw.

    Although I have to say that I enjoyed this film, by the time I was about thirty minutes away from its conclusion it began to give me a kind of empty feeling. It was funny, but it wasn’t amounting to anything. There was no suspense. I never felt afraid, or awed, or moved. And, most importantly, I didn’t care about anyone. I didn’t care about Barnabas or his family (portrayed in this film as dysfunctional, unlikeable weirdoes), or his love for the new Josette. The last fifteen minutes of the film turned into a depressingly predictable, over-the-top special effects fest, and I was glad when it was over. I have no plans to see it again. I laughed, but it meant nothing to me.

    In short, Dark Shadows has gotten the predictable postmodern treatment. The original series was deadly serious (as was the 1991 remake). There was nothing ironic about it. Barnabas Collins was not a figure of fun; he was a tragic hero, for whom we felt sympathy, admiration – and who sometimes genuinely frightened us. And the story of his undying love for Josette was genuinely moving. In the Tim Burton film, all of this is treated with ironic distance. Barnabas becomes an Edward Scissorhandish oddball who thinks little people live inside the TV set, and that the M in the McDonalds sign stands for “Mephistopheles.”

    [7]

    Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins — not scary

    Barnabas’s belief that Victoria Winters is the reincarnated Josette is handled in a kind of a smirky, ironic, offhand manner. It’s as if Burton and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith are so convinced the audience will find this plot element all-too-familiar they do not even attempt to handle it in a fresh, dramatic, or interesting manner. If you blink you’ll miss the scene where Barnabas “recognizes” Victoria as Josette. And the actress who plays Victoria (Bella Heathcote) has that flat, bland, unrefined quality that so many young actresses have today.

    The rest of the cast is interesting, but they have little to do. The one who probably comes off the best is Eva Green as Angelique (Green was the girl in the Bond film Casino Royale – the recent one). Burton’s girlfriend Helena Bonham Carter plays Dr. Hoffman, and both the actress and the character are wasted in this film. In the original series, it was clear that Dr. Hoffman loved Barnabas, while he did not return her feelings. In the film version, this translates into Dr. Hoffman getting on her knees and giving Barnabas a blowjob.

    Quite a lot happens in Dark Shadows. There are actually several subplots going simultaneously, but none of them is developed or resolved adequately. In the last ten minutes of the film we discover that little Carolyn Collins is actually a werewolf. This is thrown in apparently because . . . well, apparently because they wanted to throw in a werewolf (the original series featured one, though he was Quentin Collins).

    Jonathan Frid and three of the original cast members from the series appear in the film, briefly seen as guests at a ball Barnabas organizes (with Alice Cooper as musical entertainment – one of the film’s funnier sequences). This was apparently included for the Dark Shadows fans, and in a sense so that the original cast could be seen as giving their imprimatur to the film. Frid died at the age of 87 a little less than a month before the premiere of Dark Shadows on May 11th. A number of writers have suggested that it is good thing he didn’t live to see this film. I can’t disagree with them.

    I wouldn’t brand this film as a “travesty” of the original series, because it’s clear that Burton and Depp had their hearts in the right place. It is meant to be a kind of affectionate parody. The problem is that Burton simply was not up to the task of dealing with this story. It’s a case of a very modern, ironic, postmodern director attempting to translate to the screen a story brimming with very unmodern romance, and genuine horror. The characters in Dark Shadows (the series, that is), really felt things. They felt true passion, obsession, and terror. They were open to the possibility of true love. They felt the weight of history, and the presence of the uncanny. I don’t think Tim Burton has ever felt any of those things.

    In the end, as I rode home on the subway, the chief thought on my mind was: what a wasted opportunity. Dark Shadows is such a wonderful story – probably the best vampire story of all. And vampires are really hot right now. Had Burton (or, preferably, a different director) made this film totally straight – no camp, just real horror and romance – they could have launched another Twilight series (only much better) and made a bajillion dollars. But reviews of this film have been bad, and the box office has been very disappointing. There will almost certainly be no sequel, no new television series. Hollywood will conclude that there’s no money in Dark Shadows. For years, fans hoped to see the story that had so fascinated them translated to the big screen and finally given the treatment it deserves. But Tim Burton has buried Dark Shadows for all time. It’s as good as stuffed in a coffin, wrapped with chains, and sealed in the Curtis family crypt.

    Like Barnabas Collins himself, Dark Shadows now truly belongs to the past.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • An “M” of Our Own: Creating an Aryan Version of Fritz Lang’s Masterpiece
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,320 words

    M (1951)
    Directed by Joseph Losey
    Produced by Seymour Nebenzal
    Writing Credits (in alphabetical order): Leo Katcher (scenario revisions); Fritz Lang (scenario) (uncredited); Norman Reilly Raine (scenario revisions); Waldo Salt (additional dialogue) Thea von Harbou (scenario) (uncredited)
    Cast: David Wayne (Martin W. Harrow); Howard Da Silva (Inspector Carney); Steve Brodie (Lt. Becker); Raymond Burr (Pottsy); Norman Lloyd (Sutro); Jim Backus (The Mayor)
    88 minutes; black and white

    As with The Strange One, Turner Classic Movies has once again given me the chance to view a rarely-seen classic of ‘50s black-and-white Hollywood: the 1951 “remake” of Fritz Lang’s 1931 M.

    In “Kafka, Our Folk Comrade [2],” I highlighted the latest literary research showing that, as Margot Metroland so succinctly puts it, “Franz Kafka was no doomed, obsessed prophet of the Holocaust, but rather a millionaire slacker whose ‘horror’ stories were written as absurdist satires.”[1]

    Another prominent figure of that impossibly over-rated period (when “hated by the Nazis” meant “genius”) is Fritz Lang, a somewhat equivocal figure as far as “echoing” goes. He did, after all, direct the epic Nibelungen films, but “in exile” Lang was quick to offload any hints of “Nazi” tropes here and elsewhere onto his collaborator, Thea von Harbou (apparently an enthusiastic Hitlerite).

    M is a good example, at least as Lang told the story (like most “survivors” his stories tended to be unverifiable, self-serving, and changeable). Shortly after the premiere, Lang was summoned to the offices of Dr. Goebbels himself. Lang was terrified that the National Socialists had figured out (he says) that the movie (originally titled Murderers Among Us) was a veiled attack on the party’s rise to power. Instead, Goebbels praised the film, which he saw as an allegory of the breakdown of order under the Weimar government, and the necessity of the people taking power back into their own hands. He then (Lang says) offered Lang the leadership of the German film industry. Lang then went home, packed his bags, and headed for Paris and, eventually, Hollywood.

    True or not, the story illustrates a point we’ve frequently made: being a collaborative medium, film, more than any other art form, is likely to escape the intentions of its “auteur” and take on a life of its own.

    Again, take M. Not only did Goebbels derive a party-friendly reading of it, but Lang’s clear intention — to create a sympathetic portrait of a child-murderer — was subverted by the party incorporating Peter Lorre’s famous trail scene — ”explaining” his obsessions and begging for mercy — into Fritz Hippler’s 1940 propaganda classic The Eternal Jew [3], as an example of both Jewish support for degeneracy as well as Jewish hysterical mannerisms.

    Lang must have thought he was truly cursed when, after the war, his fellow “refugee” (“My God, they tried to make me run the film industry, the monsters!”) Seymour Nebenzal, the producer of M, popped up in Hollywood. Nebenzal asserted that he still held the rights, and, wanting to polish up his stateside résumé, proposed a remake. Lang was outraged, but having divorced von Harbou,[2] no screen credit, and the papers proving his ownership having been “lost in the war” (as per usual), Nebenzal simply got von Harbou’s OK and proceeded along. Lang briefly agreed then refused to direct it, so Nebenzal offered the role to a neophyte with two movies under his belt, Joseph Losey. Losey also refused, but “after looking at his bank account” (according to TCM’s Robert Osborne) decided to go ahead.

    It’s hard to say exactly what M51, as I’ll call it, is, vis-à-vis M31. It’s not really a “remake,” like the three versions Warner’s made of The Maltese Falcon;[3] nor is it really a frame by frame “reshooting” like Gus Van Sants’ pointless Psycho (although we’ll have reason to revisit the original in what follows).

    The Bond films — as is appropriate, when dealing with the creator of Dr. Mabuse, as well as a very different “M”! — offer several not quite exact parallels. The ownership dispute recalls Kevin McClory’s claim to the Thunderball scenario and the Blofeld character, although the subsequent “remake”– Never Say Never Again — reverses the relation of M51 to M31, respectively.[4] It’s not a rip-off, using a Lorre lookalike along with some of the original actors, but avoiding the same character names, like Operation Kid Brother (a.k.a. Operation Double 007, a.k.a. OK Connery, where Sean’s brother takes the place of “your, um, brother”). It’s not a spoof, as when Columbia Pictures (the company that produced M51) reasserted its rights to the first book, Casino Royale, and made the dreadful 1967 version.

    Speaking of which, the Daniel Craig version suggest this is a “reboot” of M31, like the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Very close, but each of these consciously tries to avoid anything that visually recalls the earlier films, and here Losey is hewing very close to the original, either out of piety or uncertainty, or perhaps fear. A reviewer says:

    Watching the remake, I was struck by how humbly Losey bows to the shot sequence of the original. In the original M’s famous opening, a mother in her kitchen glances at the wall clock; meanwhile her little daughter wanders home from school alone. The girl bounces a ball as she walks, and a nice man, his face unseen, befriends her, buying her a balloon from a blind street vendor. Growing fearful, the mother calls down the stairwell, turned into a vortex by a camera shooting straight downward. Medium shots show the little girl’s empty place setting at the kitchen table, and the abandoned ball rolling to a halt; a long shot reveals the balloon caught in the telephone wires. Losey copies this entire sequence; there are some minor adjustments (he inserts a shot looking back up the stairwell at the mother, and reverses the order of the rolling ball and drifting balloon), but they only remind you how beautifully conceived the original was.[5]

    For a closer analogue, I think we need to look at one of Lang’s own films. In the early days of cinema, it was not unusual to avoid dubbing or subtitling by making entirely separate films for two or perhaps more major markets, shooting them simultaneously, using a different cast of native actors and perhaps another director.

    It’s an intriguing idea; by using not just dubbing but actual native actors, the market gets the story recreated by their own people, almost cargo cult-like.

    Needless to say, these are not “exact” copies;[6] necessarily, slight differences in shots and especially editing occur, deliberately or not.

    Thus, Lang shot parallel versions of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, one in German, one in French, using the same sets, but different actors.[7] An even better example would be Dracula (also 1931!), or rather, the legendary “Spanish Dracula,” shot at night on the same sets by another director, George Melford. Here again, the resulting “alternate take” — as would be the case with sound recordings — is fascinatingly different:

    Of the cast, only Carlos Villarías (playing Dracula) was permitted to see rushes of the English-language film starring Bela Lugosi and was encouraged to imitate the other man’s performance. As well, some long shots of Lugosi as the Count as well as some alternate takes from the English version were used in this production.[8]

    The tradition continues in television, especially between US and Latin America; thus Betty la Fea becomes Ugly Betty, and Breaking Bad becomes Metastasis. Indeed, the Counter-Currents fav[9] provides the closest parallel yet:

    You seem to be watching the opening minutes of the first episode of “Breaking Bad,” but you notice a few differences. The vehicle full of drug-lab paraphernalia and dangerous fumes is not an RV; it’s a decrepit school bus. When the driver staggers out for a breath of fresh air, he puts his shirt on so that he can play the rest of the scene semi-modestly. And when he picks up a video camera to record what he thinks will be his last testament, he doesn’t say, “My name is Walter Hartwell White.” He says, Mi nombre es Walter Blanco.

    “Metastasis,” shot in the high desert in Colombia, is an episode-for-episode, practically shot-for-shot remake, done with considerably less time and money than were spent on the American original. On television, where it plays every weeknight, the telenovela  —  which encompasses the entire story line of five seasons of “Breaking Bad”  —  will play out in about three months.[10]

    And here’s our Fritz Lang:

    “They did all the 62 episodes we did, but made them much faster, on a smaller budget,” says Bad creator Vince Gilligan, who had “zero” input in the adaptation but experienced a “slightly disorienting feeling of déjà vu” watching the first episode. “It simultaneously inspires me and makes me feel a little sheepish that we took as much money and shooting hours as we did.”[11]

    And perhaps, apart from making it cheaper, quicker, and easier for the viewer to binge-watch, it’s also better than the original? Consider “Spanish Dracula” again:

    In recent years, this version has become more highly praised by some than the better known English-language version. The Spanish crew had the advantage of watching the English dailies when they came in for the evening, and they would figure out better camera angles and more effective use of lighting in an attempt to “top” it. As a result, this version’s supporters consider it to be much more artistically effective. The Spanish semiologist Roman Gubern considers that the longer duration allows better development of the plot in spite of the shortened shooting time and smaller budget.

    Speaking of Dracula recalls a final parallel, with a famous incident from the beginnings of the German film industry: F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu.

    The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”). Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema. As of 2015, it is Rotten Tomatoes’ second best-reviewed horror film of all time.[12]

    Here we see a sort of reversal of the M51 situation: there the first director fails to get the widow to assert his supposed ownership, while she strikes a deal with the new director, who never the less does make some changes. It’s time to look at those changes, and indeed “reversal” is the recurring theme.

    The most noticeable is that the story has been moved forward in time, to 1951, and westward in place, to Los Angeles — “go West” will be the nature of most of the reversals. This is all done implicitly; there are no sly winks back to M31 or other “fan service.”[13]

    Nebenzal thought the story still worked because America had all sorts of isolated psychotics running around; in fact, the inner world conjured up by Losey and David Wayne feels less like the original M than it does the sun-washed nightmare of Psycho.

    For example, these shots, impossible to film in Berlin even if Lang had tried:

    A montage of the killer approaching various girls (one black and another Asian, reminding us where we are and how the lower classes are preyed upon) ends with him staring out into the blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean. A marvelously composed frame shows him getting a shoeshine before a picture window that overlooks an impossibly wide city street. Later the killer sprawls out on a park bench playing his creepy tin whistle, behind him a panoramic view of a main thoroughfare stretching back to the horizon.

    All the landmarks of the soon-to-be razed Bunker Hill section are there, including the funicular railway, Angel’s Flight. We’ve explored this territory before, and sure enough, down in the credits, there he is — assistant director, Robert Aldrich!

    Yes, M51 brings us back to the creepy, sunny apocalyptic landscape that Aldrich would explore/exploit four years later in Kiss Me Deadly.[14]

    On the other hand, M51 lacks any notable cinematography, neither the shadowy Expressionism of M31 nor the blinding chrome and neon lighting of KSD that create their culturally appropriate visions of post-Apocalyptic Hells. Surprisingly, it’s by Ernest Laszlo, who also did KMD! [15] Neither my Portuguese bootleg DVD nor the “restored” version shown by TCM display any more than competent Hollywood camera work, like the element of professionalism William Thompson consistently brought to Ed Woods’ oeuvre.[16]

    Moving on. Of course, Peter Lorre is gone. Apart from any idea of approaching him, or his lack of interest, Lorre simply was no longer suitable, having, during his Hollywood “exile” (“Oh, my God, they’re forcing me to make millions dollars!”), moved, willingly or not, from effectively scary guy to funny little weirdo.[17] Yes, he’s “gone West” too.[18]

    Taking his place is David Wayne, and here the reversals continue and get more interesting. Wayne, unlike Lorre, had a small career playing nice guys; he’s a slightly built, blonde, pleasantly Midwestern guy.[19] Overall, does an excellent job; one miss-step is the scene where he tries to resist his impulses and break away from a potential victim, going to a nearby sidewalk café and downing a drink. While Lorre demands several in quick succession and eventually calms done, Wayne barely chokes down one before plopping face down on the table and sobbing; it’s very fake. On the other hand, in his big final speech — the “To be or not to be” of the role — he easily matches Lorre.[20]

    Film buffs will no doubt miss Lorre’s whistling of the “Hall of the Mountain King” tune; I’m not sure why it was left out, unless it was thought too much of a “classic” bit and thus a cliché.[21] In its place, Wayne plays a little slide flute, and not only is it a pretty good substitute in the creepy department, it also fills a big plot hole in M31. How does Becker (Lorre) attract these little girls? He is, after all, Peter Lorre, and one would think anyone’s reaction to finding him standing next to you would be to more or less quickly and soundlessly put some distance between him and yourself. [22] But not only is Wayne a reasonably friendly-looking guy, the flute is just the sort of thing that would attract a child, and it even has Germanic folk tale resonances (The Pied Piper, of course).[23]

    Pursuing Wayne is Lt. Becker [24] played by . . . Steve Brodie! Brodie’s career would sink into a black hole so deep that he would later “star” in not one but two MST3k favorites — The Giant Spider Invasion, and The Wild World of Batwoman, the latter being a leading contender for the worst movie ever made, or at least, the most cringe-worthy “comedy.”[25] But in 1951 Brodie was still doing OK for himself, with roles in noir classics like Out of the Past and Crossfire (both in 1947).

    M51 would be the last big noir role, or indeed big role of any kind. He’s in The Caine Mutiny but not in the lead he had in the play, and by the sixties Elvis movies were the best he could find.[26] He did a lot of TV, though, and appeared four times on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1957, he appeared in the episode “One More Mile to Go”:

    Sam Jacoby and his nagging wife argue, and he accidently kills her by striking her with a rod. He decides to dump her body in a lake. Jacoby puts the body in his car trunk and takes off. A motorcycle policeman repeatedly stops him after seeing Jacoby’s burned out taillight. Eventually, the officer tells him to follow him to the station where a police mechanic will open the trunk and change the bulb.[27]

    Brodie is quite effective as the cop in mirror shades who seems to be impishly toying with the murderer, who, for many reasons, seems a stand-in for the viewer. Many have suggested that this episode, directed by Hitchcock, contains the seeds of an idea he would expand to the first third of Psycho: the vaguely knowing cop behind the mirror shades, popping up to freak out the criminal we sympathize with. So Brodie connects us to Psycho again, and who played the driver, Jacoby? David Wayne!

    One expansion of the original actually serves to ramp up the Judaic content. We get to seem more clues about the creep’s background, and you know what that means. There’s a photo of a strikingly ferocious woman that we suppose is his mother, and at night he models female figures in clay, then decapitates them.

    Psychoanalysis, like its big brother, Marxism, is another Judaic cult disguising itself as a “science.” Like Marxism, it comforts its believers with an all-encompassing story, while stroking their vanity by telling them that only they are smart enough to know “what’s really going on.” Remember, “America had all sorts of isolated psychotics running around.”

    It particularly appeals to Hollywood types, due to their already weak egos, as well as for a reason we see here: it helps the beleaguered scriptwriter by providing ready-made storylines.

    Speaking of Marxism, some claim that “McCarthyism” was one reason for the film’s virtual disappearance.[28]

    Three of his players on M — Howard Da Silva, Martin Gabel, and Luther Adler — were blacklisted, and M was greeted by right-wing picketers in Los Angeles that October.

    As for Losey himself,

    Three months after M was released, he left the United States for Europe to escape being subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which wanted him to explain his past membership in the Communist Party; subsequently, he enjoyed a long career in Britain and France but he never worked in America again.[29]

    Here we have the final reversal: Lang and Lorre flee Europe for Hollywood, Losey and his actors flee Hollywood for Europe. And despite decades of whining and back-patting,[30] the fact remains that they got what was coming to them: the anti-sedition mechanisms — including the “Un-American Activities Committee” itself — were set up in the ’30s at the insistence of Commies in and out of Hollywood, so as to persecute anti-war activists and Aryan patriots as “isolationists” and “agents of foreign powers.”[31] I say, good on ’em.

    But let us be generous in our triumph — at least, the prospective triumph of our White Nationalist reality. Let us go back to the beginning:

    Losey opens with a shot out the window of the [Angel’s Flight] rail car as passengers board, stepping over tied stacks of newspapers screaming child killer sought, before the killer boards and the car begins its ascent.[32]

    Yes, Losey begins his “remake” by showing the killer stepping over the news of his victims. I suggest we step over Losey’s agenda, and recuperate, as the “critical theorists” would say, the film for ourselves.[33]

    In “Kafka: Our Folk Comrade” I suggested that once we know the facts behind the legend we can “step over” the decades of the Judaic ethnic networking to promote victim/prophet Kafka and retain his work for our own, as he would have wanted. In “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick” — and elsewhere — I’ve suggested that filmmakers are often overtaken by their own work and have their intentions subverted — Aldrich, intending to “destroy” the popularity of Mickey Spillane by portraying Hammer as a sadistic moron, produced a film that was condemned by the Legion of Decency as more sadistically violent that anything in the Spillane canon.

    M51 gives us a chance to do both: take away Lang and Losey’s film and recuperate M as an Aryan film for ourselves: add Goebbels’ interpretation and substitute our West Coast for dreary Weimar.[34] Psychos, but nice, warm, “sun-washed,” if you will. Above all, White.

    In this way, it does, once more, kind of resemble the Daniel Craig “reboot” of Bond, but again, reversed: instead of substituting a blond Jew for a dark Aryan, the dark chaos of Weimar Berlin is replaced by the “sun-washed nightmare” of the West Coast; degenerate Lorre is replaced by the sunny David Wayne; and although the intention was to suggest, Lynch-like, that the evil is right here in sunny White Land — “America had all sorts of isolated psychotics running around”– it’s still nice to be able to watch a movie that’s scary but with only nice White actors and scenery, isn’t it?

    Notes

    1. From Ms. Metroland’s blurb for my latest book, Green Nazis in Space! (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015), in which the essay is collected.

    2. Who had pulled a Savitri Devi by shacking up with a true Aryan, an Indian journalist.

    3. The first, in 1931 (same year as M) is a pre-Code film that emphasizes the sleazy innuendo and is mildly interesting as such; the second, retitled Satan Met a Lady (the winning suggesting in a studio contest) is an unfunny “comedy” starring then-matinee idol Warren Williams and Bette Davis, who hated the picture so much she walked out on her contract. The third time proved to be the charm with John Huston’s 1941 version, featuring  . . . M31’s Peter Lorre.

    4. For the history, see Jef Costello, “The Cat is Back! The Spectre Behind S.P.E.C.T.R.E.,” here [4].

    5. See the excellent review (of both movie and history) “The (re)making of M: Joseph Losey takes another crack at the Fritz Lang masterpiece,” by J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader, October 20, 2013, online here [5].

    6. “We don’t have a machine that makes exact copies.” Don Draper to Pete Campbell, accusing Pete of stealing his copy of a rather Frankfurt School-ish “psychological profile” of the “death instinct” of the average smoker, in Mad Men, Episode 1.1, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Lang, in M, Mabuse, and elsewhere, was a first class retailer of Freudian claptrap to the movie-going masses.

    7. You can view and compare both on the Criterion Collection DVD release.

    8. Wikipedia, here [6]. To see for yourself, you can either get a bootleg online, as I did, or, as Wikipedia notes, “It was included as a bonus feature on the Classic Monster Collection DVD in 1999, the Legacy Collection DVD in 2004, the 75th Anniversary Edition DVD set in 2006, and was remastered in high definition for the Universal Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray boxed set. In September 2014 it was released as part of the 4-DVD/6-movie set, titled Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection. The film was theatrically released on October 25 & 28, 2015 as part of the “TCM Presents” series by Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events. Two showings each day played a double-feature with the Spanish film’s English counterpart.”

    9. See “Breaking Bad: A Celebration” by Jef Costello, here [7].

    10. See “Walter White, Meet Walter Blanco: It’s the Same Story, With a Different Desert, ‘Metastasis,’ a Spanish-Language Version of ‘Breaking Bad,’ Debuts,” Mike Hall, New York Times, June 17, 2014; online here [8].

    11. “‘Breaking Bad’ doesn’t get lost in Spanish translation,” Gary Levin, USA TODAY, June 3, 2014; online here [9].

    12. Wikipedia, here [10]. The article details the changes as: “The story of Nosferatu is similar to that of Dracula and retains the core characters—Jonathan and Mina Harker, the Count, etc.—but omits many of the secondary players, such as Arthur and Quincey, and changes all of the characters’ names (although in some recent releases of this film, which is now in the public domain in the United States but not in most European countries, the written dialogue screens have been changed to use the Dracula versions of the names). The setting has been transferred from Britain in the 1890s to Germany in 1838. In contrast to Dracula, Orlok does not create other vampires, but kills his victims, causing the townfolk to blame the plague, which ravages the city. Also, Orlok must sleep by day, as sunlight would kill him, while the original Dracula is only weakened by sunlight. The ending is also substantially different from that of Dracula. The count is ultimately destroyed at sunrise when the “Mina” character sacrifices herself to him.

    13. Or rather, “pandering to the base.” “‘Fanservice’ is also sometimes used in a more general way, referring simply to any crowd-pleaser thrown in just because. When this is something non-sexual, like needlessly flashy attacks in a Humongous Mecha show, long guitar/bass/drum solos in a concert, or throwing in lots of obscure continuity references in a long-running work, it’s Pandering to the Base. Sexy fanservice is considered the default form, because it is everywhere, and it’s easy to add to any kind of show.” Such as in Casino Royale when Daniel Craig, asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, says “Do I look like someone who cares?”; or in Skyfall, where Bond and M escape London in an Aston Martin DB6, and Bond lingers over the ejector button “we” know is hidden in the stick shift lever. Not that there’s anything wrong with fan service generally.

    14. See my “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale,” here [11] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

    15. Along with an impressive amount of work [12] over a long, Academy-awarded career, ranging from “prestige” anti-Nazi schlock like Judgement at Nuremberg and Ship of Fools and noir like D.O.A., as well as colorful comedies like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and sci-fi like Logan’s Run and Fantastic Voyage; even MST3k favorites Tormented and The Space Children get excellently moody photography. Was he intimidated here, asked to reproduce a Lang classic early in his career?

    16. I have not seen the recent (2015) French DVD, which supposedly is the best version. If you can play Region 2 DVDs, get it from Amazon.fr here [13] and let me know.

    17. On the way, he sample the “campy though surprisingly effective wimp” who earns Sam Spade’s grudging respect in the aforementioned Maltese Falcon; see my discussion of the film in “Humphrey Bogart: Man among the Cockroaches,” reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    18. Or not. Lorre actually had better things to do in 1951: he was actually back in Germany, directing his own—and only—film, Der Verlorene (The Lost One). It sounds like the title of a late Beckett piece, and with reason. The New York Times is dismissive: “In look and tone ‘The Lost One’’ shows the influences of Lorre’s early career in the German cinema, especially of the work of Fritz Lang and of ‘M’ . . . It’s a good deal less successful as an attempt to illuminate the Nazi phenomenon, which it analyzes in a series of rather perfunctory clichés. . . . A curiosity” (Vincent Canby, August 1, 1984, online here [14]). I recall seeing it once on TV and it’s really rather effective in its miserablist fashion. Lang is a respectable scientist who for various reasons commits some murders, but the NS government is less interested in some random killings than in the ongoing slaughter of the Allied assault. Even when arrested, an Allied bombing raid destroys the police station, freeing Lorre and destroying the evidence (shades of Lang!). And the occupation authorities are also uninterested in pursuing a minor league serial killer when there’s denazification to handle. Consumed with guilt, he becomes a doctor in a refugee camp, but meeting an old colleague drives him to jump in front of a train.

    19. Kids will probably only recall him as “The Mad Hatter” on the Batman TV series, and, until his death, the original “Digger Barnes” of Dallas; closer to M51, he starred in one of the first three Twilight Zone episodes to be produced, “Escape Clause [15].”

    20. At times he recalls, to me at least, Burgess Meredith’s nervy little characters, such as the Whittaker Chambers clone in Preminger’s Advise and Consent, which I discuss (the film, not Meredith) in End of An Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015). Meredith did the same little guy in a number of Twilight Zones, like Wayne, (always have a second pair of glasses!) and like Wayne, is perhaps best remembered as a Batman villain, the Penguin.

    21. The classical music trope is still there, as we see early on Wayne listening to it on the radio in his crummy apartment. Lest we fail to identify the music, the announcer asks us to tune in again “for more classical music.” In my KMD review, I note how odd it is that when Mike Hammer turns on the radio, it’s already on a classical station, since he is otherwise played as a knuckle-dragging brute. Later, he reverts to form and “tortures” a witness by smashing his collection of opera 78s one by one. A similar poke in the ribs occurs soon after when, restricted by the Hollywood production code from having the little girls raped (killing them is OK, though) a spectator says “Why do the police keep saying they weren’t ‘abused’ or ‘interfered with’? What difference does it make?”

    22. “It’s also moving in a way he could not have foreseen, in that it demonstrates how his physical being — his distinctive looks and manners — would inevitably limit the sorts of roles available to him in spite of his talent.”—Canby, op. cit. The same criticism can be made of Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Lecter: he’s too obviously evil to ever pass unnoticed as a psychiatrist or museum director; just as Dracula couldn’t show up today and not excite suspicion. Brian Cox’s Dr. Lecktor (spelled as per Manhunter) by contrast is convincing, since, as I’ve said elsewhere, he looks like the sort of guy who’d strike up a conversation with you on a bus, and before long you wake up in his basement. See my “Essential Films … & Others,” here. [16]

    23. I recall in grade school some kind of Music Man like guy showing up in class one day to hawk his flutes; I suppose the idea was to get us interested in music and the arts.

    24. In M31, Lorre is Hans Beckert, and the first victim we see is Elsie Beckman. Jews seem to like this kind of name-play—“onomastic comedy,” Thomas Mann called it, who noted it in himself and Hermann Hesse. In The Producers, notice how all the leads have “B” names—Bloom, Bialystock, de Brie, du Bois—except Hans Leibkind, who was originally going to be played by . . . Brooks himself.

    25. Another Batman link, sort of. See my “Essential Films,” here [16], again. Giant Spider teams him up with Barbara Hale, noted for playing Della Street opposite the Perry Mason of Raymond Burr, who plays a mobster here.

    26. In a final indignity, Wikipedia adds [17] that “at the time of his death, The Los Angeles Times erroneously stated in his obituary that Brodie had been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for 1949’s Home of the Brave. In truth, Brodie was actually not among the five nominees in that category that year.”

    27. TV.com [18]

    28. A better reason from ChrisDFilm at IMDB [19]: “The reason why this excellent Joseph Losey version of M is virtually unavailable in any form is because Columbia, the original studio, lost the rights many years ago. The rights reverted to the original producer Seymour Nebenzal. Either he or — if he is deceased — his family’s estate, seem to be apathetic about doing anything with the film in regards to things like DVD releases or screenings on Turner Classic Movies cable channel (though it might help if somebody at Turner did the detective work and contacted them). The only existing print (at least a publicly known existing print) is at the BFI (British Film Institute) in London. (2008)” Later: “The very mediocre/poor bootleg VHSs and DVDs out in circulation seem to be all from the same original source, a 16mm print from either an uninterrupted cable TV airing in the 1980s or a 16mm film chain transfer. I know, as far as existing prints (that are known to archives), there is only one 35mm because when I was a programmer at the American Cinematheque in L.A. between 1999-2009, we frequently questioned the main film archives to see if they had a print. BFI in the UK was the only one, at least in English-speaking territories. (2011)”

    29. J. T. Jones, op. cit. Jones adds that “When the M remake was released, Lang showed up at a promotional screening and got into a shouting match with Nebenzal; according to film scholar Thomas Elsaesser, Lang ‘was not prepared to acknowledge’ Losey as a member of the directing profession.” Another example of Judaic hysteria and bumptiousness; see my review of The Strange One for another example of the self-defeating hysteria of Jewish directors.

    30. Most recently, the loathesome Trumbo (2015), starring Bryan Cranston, still riding the wave of . . . Breaking Bad.

    31. For the “Great Sedition Trial of 1944” of Lawrence Dennis and 14 others, see Margot Metroland, “Lawrence Dennis, 1893-1977” here [20]; and for more background on “the high art of demonization” see “Tale of a ‘Seditionist’–The Lawrence Dennis Story” by Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com, April 29, 2000, here [21].

    32. Jones, op. cit.

    33. “Stepping over” was a phrase of Jonathan Bowden’s that has become iconic for the North American New Right. “But that’s life, and that’s power, and that’s the reality and the vortex of power. What we have to do is to understand that things have been used against us for ideological reasons, irrespective of the facts, and only when we have the courage to do that will we revive. So it’s really only when a leader of revivalist opinion is asked, ‘Well what’s your view of the Shoah then?’ And they say, ‘We’ve stepped over that.’ ‘What do you mean you’ve ‘stepped over’ that? Are you minimizing its importance to humanity?’ You say, ‘We are minimizing its importance to our form of humanity!’” See “Revisionism, Left & Right, Hard & Soft,” here [22].

    34. “I reject your reality and substitute my own!”—MythBuster Adam Sandler.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]7,465 words

    Alejandro Jodorowsky
    The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky [2]
    Rochester Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2008

    1. Introduction

    Alejandro Jodorowsky is known to English-speaking audiences as the director and star of the cult film El Topo (1970). His other films (of which there are only a few) are lesser known, and his work outside of film is hardly known at all in America. But Jodorowsky is also a stage director, composer, psychotherapist, mime, and author. His books deal with the tarot and other matters mystical, and he has also published some thirty graphic novels.

    Born in Chile, to parents of Jewish extraction, he lived and worked for many years in Mexico where he studied under a Japanese Zen master. He now makes his home in France, where he stages elaborate psychodramas and offers free tarot readings. In short, Jodorowsky seems impossible to categorize.

    But there is a common thread running throughout his life and work, and that thread is a spiritual quest. Jodorowsky might, therefore, plausibly be described as a lover of wisdom, less plausibly as a “mystic.” All that Jodorowsky does—even the comic books and the mime—can be understood as playing a role in this quest. This is a man seeking enlightenment not through religion or philosophy, but primarily through art. As anyone knows who has met him or seen him interviewed, this is also a man who is wonderfully, hilariously strange—and wise.

    The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky (a translation of Mu: Le maître et les magiciennes)[1] is an autobiography of sorts, though of a strangely impersonal sort. Details about Jodorowsky’s work and personal life (his wife and many children are scarcely mentioned at all) are included only insofar as they are relevant to explaining a further step in the quest. These steps are a series of alliances with strong, charismatic women. (What the wife thought of this is not recorded.) However, the most powerful influence—and the catalyst for these alliances—is a man: the Zen master Ejo Takata.

    Jodorowsky frankly admits that his spiritual quest is motivated, at some level, by a search for a father figure. His description of his childhood is pitiful: unloved by a mother who never wanted him, and tormented by a brutal father. Jodorowsky’s search for wisdom is a search for love, and for benevolent, order-giving authority; for the feminine and the masculine. When Jodorowsky reflects on this, he emphasizes the search for the father figure: but this search continually leads him back to the mother. In fact, early on in the book the father figure Ejo literally “rejects” him and hands him off to a woman, the surrealist painter Leonora Carrington. This is providence at work, for Jodorowsky’s root problem is not so much with the father as it is with the mother: his strongest desire is to be loved and accepted. This is not the sort of love and acceptance sought by the people one finds on Craigslist, however. What Jodorowsky seeks is the love and acceptance of the universe: to know that he belongs to the universe and that, in a sense, the universe belongs to him.

    Now, all of the above seems as if it constitutes the makings of a psychoanalytical interpretation of Jodorowsky’s quest—and, indeed, the makings of a psychoanalytical interpretation of mystical questing itself. And all such interpretations are deflationary. In other words, they all tend to wind up claiming that “The mystical quest is nothing more than . . .” The idea is to debunk, to demystify. But such a move is a non-sequitur. Jodorowsky’s spiritual quest is not the search for a father or mother figure: instead, the search for the father or mother figure is what catalyzed his spiritual quest.

    Jodorowsky did not seek, as others with similar backgrounds almost always do, to heal himself through sex or serial love relationships. Instead, he was launched on a spiritual quest. Why? Because he has an exceptional, brilliant, and strange mind. No other explanation is possible. Had Jodorowsky been born with a conventional mind, to a conventional family—had he received an abundance of love and acceptance and attention, he would not have embarked on his spiritual journey. It is very often the case that what pushes us on to great things is precisely some lack or absence in us or in our lives. But this does not mean that all our achievements are nothing other than a reaction to that lack. Parsifal left home on what eventually became the Grail Quest no doubt partly out of a desire to get away from his mother. That does not mean, however, that the Grail Quest can plausibly be understood as matricide.

    2. Ejo Takata

    In the Prologue to the book, Jodorowsky naïvely tells Ejo that he has achieved the state of “empty mind, empty heart.” Ejo bursts into laughter at this and tells him “Empty mind, full heart: that is how it should be.” Jodorowsky comes to accept this correction, realizing its wisdom. And it effectively summarizes exactly what he seeks, and finds by book’s end. Ejo is saying that he must silence his mind, which acts as an obstruction to Jodorowsky’s efforts to understand himself and the world. The intellect abstracts from life in forming its theories, and we come to live, for all intents and purposes, within theories rather than within the world. In other words, the intellect abstracts from experience—and the result is that we wind up becoming abstracted ourselves: removed from life and from the present. To combat this, we must “empty our minds.”

    To a rationalist (and virtually everyone in the modern world is a rationalist) this sounds like a prescription for stupidity and, if accepted on a mass scale, chaos. The assumption here is that there is nothing else in us that can provide guidance other than the intellect. (This is the personal, psychological equivalent of the hubristic modern view of history: before modern scientific rationalism came on the scene there was nothing to guide humanity other than woolly superstition.) The root assumption of Zen (which derives, in fact, from Taoism) is that when the mind is silent, the voice of the heart speaks: the voice of the sentiments and instincts. Pre-rational, pre-scientific human beings did not appear on the earth bereft of any means to guide their actions. Like every other animal we came equipped with innate drives and instincts which, if heeded, promote survival and flourishing. There is, in short, a “wisdom of the body.” And much of Jodorowsky’s spiritual journey is an attempt to silence the mind so that the body may speak.

    Jodorowsky’s spiritual quest consists essentially of two aspects. With Ejo, he attempts to break down the intellect; to tame it or silence it. With the women, he attempts to break down “emotional armor” in order get in touch with the body’s wisdom. This latter part of the journey is fundamentally Tantric in character. A great deal of the book is devoted to Jodorowsky’s relationship with Ejo, and while this makes a touching and sometimes profound “buddy story” it is also often tedious.

    Ejo uses the Rinzai Zen method of the koan to try and help the intellectual Jodorowsky “learn to die.” A koan is a question to which no rational answer can be given. The most famous koan is “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” In Rinzai monasteries, students would be given koans by their masters, and would try to answer them. Any attempt to answer them in straightforward, logical terms would be rejected (for, indeed, such an answer is really impossible).

    The point of the exercise is to get students to let go of the intellect entirely and to open to an experience of the world itself, free of the entanglements of theory and language. Such an experience is called satori. The masters would look for some genuine sign that a student has advanced to this stage—and often it might consist in a completely illogical, but strangely “appropriate” response to the logically insoluble koan.

    It is obvious that Jodorowsky delights in koans, and much of the book is taken up with them. It is this material that becomes, after awhile, tedious and may seem largely pointless to the reader. For how is the koan technique supposed to work if one already knows the “trick”? I may very well be missing something here, but if one already knows that the point of the koan is to push us beyond intellectual understanding, what is the point in trying to “answer” a koan? If it is impossible to give a logical answer to a koan, then won’t just about any answer do? Nevertheless, Jodorowsky and Ejo proceed as if they believe there are “correct answers” to koans (we also are told about the existence of a book which contains the “correct answers” to all the classic koans). The following exchange is typical:

    “It never begins and it never ends. What is it?”

    “I am what I am!”

    “How does the intellectual learn to die?”

    “He changes all his words into a black dog that follows him around!”

    “Do the shadows of the pines depend on the moonlight?”

    “Pine roots have no shadow!”

    “Is the Buddha old?”

    “As old as I am!”

    “What do you do when it cannot be done?”

    “I let it be done!”

    “Where will you go after death?”

    “The stones of the road neither come nor go!”

    “If a woman advances on the path, is she your older or younger sister?”

    “She is a woman walking!”

    “When the path is covered with snow, is it white?”

    “When it is white, it is white. When it is not white, it is not white.”

    Reading this, I was reminded of the following exchange between Batman and Robin from the old, 1960s Batman series. The Dynamic Duo are attempting to solve some conundrums left for them by the sinister Riddler:

    Batman: Robin, listen to these riddles. Tell me if you interpret them as I do. One: What has yellow skin and writes?

    Robin: A ballpoint banana!

    Batman: Right! Two: What people are always in a hurry?

    Robin: Rushing people? . . . Russians!

    Batman: Right again. Now, what would you say they mean?

    Robin: Banana . . . Russian? I’ve got! Someone Russian is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck!

    Batman: Precisely, Robin. The only possible meaning.[2]

    Robin’s “solutions” to the Riddler’s riddles are about as arbitrary as Jodorowsky’s “solutions” to Ejo’s koans. This leaves us with a problem: if we are wise to the Zen trick, how then do we kill the intellect? I myself studied briefly with a Zen master and gave up precisely because of this problem. When my American Zen master was first given a koan by his Japanese master, he told me he responded with a fully-worked out speech about silencing the intellect and listening to the heart, etc. His master responded (in broken English): “Your idea perfect. But is only idea.” In other words, you’ve got the “Zen theory” but you have not realized its truth in your life. How do we go about doing that? There can be no single answer here, applicable to everyone. The koan gimmick worked for Jodorowsky, and that is fine. It may, however, leave the reader cold.

    Ejo Takata was born in Kobe, Japan in 1928 and began his study of Zen at the age of nine in the monastery at Horyuji. In 1967 he emigrated to the United States and wound up in California, where he was quickly adopted as a guru by some hippies. It took Ejo only a couple of days to peg these people as narcissistic phonies—and soon he had hitchhiked his way to Mexico. Some time later he met Jodorowsky, also a stranger in a strange land, who promptly involved him in his all-nude stage production of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. (Ejo appeared on stage—fully clothed—meditating throughout the entire production.) As mentioned already, early on in the tale Ejo “expels” Jodorowsky, telling him, “You think that you can only learn from men. The archetype of the cosmic father dominates your actions.” And he sends him to “study” with Leonora Carrington, saying “Let her give you the inner woman who is so lacking in you.”

    3. Leonora & the Tigress

    On Jodorowsky’s first meeting with Leonora she greets him with the words, “Are you the mime that the Japanese sent to us?” And she rechristens him “Sebastian.” Jodorowsky’s apprenticeship consists largely in being under foot in Leonora’s household, where he becomes absorbed in the affairs of her strange family (her husband Chiki wears a beret that he never removes). Surrealist hilarity ensues as Leonora paints and utters her own koans, to the bafflement of Jodorowsky:

    Everything lives because of my vital fluid. I wake up when you sleep. If I stand up, they bury you. Who am I? . . . We shall transform ourselves suddenly into two dark, dashing Venezuelan men drinking tea in an aquarium. Why? . . . A red owl looks at me. In my belly, a drop of mercury forms. What does it mean? . . . A transparent egg that emits rays like the great constellations is a body, but it is also a box. Of what? . . . Only bitter laments will enable us to cry a tear. Is this tear an ant?

    Jodorowsky achieves an epiphany when Leonora unveils her portrait of the Mexican film actress Maria Felix, at a party held at the actress’s home. Felix stares transfixed at her own image then scans the room. All eyes are upon her, worshipping her, including those of her dog, Eldra. “Even the dog desires me!” she cries in a moment of supreme self-affirmation. Jodorowsky realizes that he has never truly felt desired—by anyone or anything. “I had always lived with the feeling that nothing really belonged to me; in order for the world to belong to us, we must believe that the world desires us. Only that which desires us can be ours.” He begins to work on himself: to try to arrive—somehow—at the realization that the world desires his existence.

    Jodorowsky soon discovers that he is desired by one Irma Serrano, a cabaret actress popularly known as “The Tigress.” Rumored to be the mistress of Mexico’s president, Jodorowsky portrays the Tigress as the ball-busting female she-devil from hell. She has had multiple plastic surgeries to reshape her breasts, buttocks, cheeks, chin, lips, and other parts. Her body is cold and hard to the touch. The surgical filling in her calves alone weighs four pounds. Jodorowsky witnesses her lathering black dye onto the long hairs on her legs: “I want them to see that I’m not another Indian but the descendant of Spaniards!”

    On their first meeting, the Tigress and Jodorowsky imbibe vast quantities of mescal. Through an alcoholic haze, Jodorowsky fires off a koan: “Which is the way?” Refreshingly, she responds, “I’m not a railroad track.” Eventually they wind up in bed, where the Tigress orders Jodorowsky to enter her. The mescal and the Tigress’s castrating, she-devil persona have shriveled Jodorowsky’s penis down to the size of a cashew. And to top it off she declares, “If you don’t get it up, I’ll tell the journalists, and all of Mexico will know that you are impotent.” Nevertheless, after “a short but agonizing moment,” Jodorowsky succeeds in getting hard. (“I am very virile,” he has confessed in interviews.) But the sexless, marble-bodied Tigress doesn’t desire an orgasm. The act of penetration is enough: Jodorowsky has passed the test.

    The Tigress declares that the two of them will stage a sensational new production of Lucrezia Borgia in which she, naturally, will play the title role—and they hatch an elaborate plan to generate publicity. Together, the Tigress and Jodorowsky attend a convocation of Mexico’s journalists, in the middle of which, by prearrangement, Jodorowsky’s wife Valerie bursts in wearing a phony plaster cast on her leg. She accuses Jodorowsky of having an affair with the Tigress—an accusation Jodorowsky appears to confirm by his behavior towards both women. (This is, by the way, about the only time Jodorowsky’s wife is mentioned in the book.)

    The event generates a scandal and tremendous advance publicity for Lucrezia Borgia. But on the eve of the premiere it is apparent that the Tigress has still not learned her lines. Jodorowsky and the other performers are furious, and they walk out and abandon her. The Tigress is hardly fazed by this at all, however. She simply stages her own production of Lucrezia Borgia across town, in which she appears nude, stalking around on the stage repeating lines fed to her by an off-stage prompter. This production runs successfully for two years. Meanwhile, Jodorowsky remounts his own production of Lucrezia Borgia with a different, better, fully-clothed actress. It runs for four months.

    The episode with the Tigress is fascinating—but it is hard to discern what, if anything, he learns from her, and how she represents a stage on Jodorowsky’s spiritual journey.

    4. Doña Magdalena & the End of Zen

    Jodorowsky’s next “spiritual bride” is Doña Magdalena, who rescues him from a gang of street urchins bent on raping him in an alley. “Leave him alone! He belongs to me!” she cries, and they pull their pants up and scatter. Then, addressing herself to the terrified Jodorowsky she advises, “Don’t give so much importance to being penetrated.” Magdalena takes Jodorowsky back to her home, where she strips and then goes to work on his body—spending hours scraping it with a blunt knife and massaging his organs. Strangely enough, this turns out to be one of the most profound and interesting parts of the book. She tells Jodorowsky:

    If bones are beings, then joints are bridges across which time must pass. Every one of your ages continues to live in you. Infancy is hidden in your feet. If you leave your baby stuck there, he will impede your walk, dragging you into a memory that is both cradle and prison, cutting you off from the future and trapping you in a demand that cannot give or act.

    Jodorowsky comes to realize the ways in which painful memories—memories, for example, of abuse by his parents—have become locked in his body, especially his muscles. Magdalena’s work, like that of a Reichian therapist, is to help his body to free itself of this “armoring.”

    The theories that guide Magdalena’s practice are an eclectic combination of ideas borrowed from here and there. Discussing the spinal column she states that it culminates in the cranium, “in ten thousand petals opening to the luminous energy pouring down from the cosmos.” Magdalena’s theories are, in essence, a wedding of Reich and Kundalini. They are the sacralization of the Reichian body. Liberation will consist in a freeing of the body—but this is a sacred path; a path to feeling (not thinking) one’s unity with the source.

    At one point, Magdalena tells Jodorowsky that the contractions of the muscles “give you the sense of existing.” This is an important and profound idea. I had always thought that one of the benefits of yoga was to help us “get in touch with the body.” But after two years of practicing it, it occurred to me that the point of yoga was actually to eliminate the feeling of having a body at all.

    We speak, of course, of “having a body” partly due to the way our language works, but also because we are often so uncomfortable in our skin that it does indeed feel like the body is an other. We tense our muscles, grind our teeth, walk and sit hunched over, feel tension in the pit of the stomach, or in the form of a headache. Babies are born without any of this. These problems develop as a result of negative life experiences—and are particularly acute in modern people. Hatha yoga is a technique that leads to bodily mastery, and involves the development of flexibility and control. It helps us to overcome the patterns of physical “armoring” that have become fixed in us. And the net result is that one gradually overcomes the sense of opposition between the self and the body. Or, to put it a different way, one becomes one’s body.

    Predictably, the highlight of Jodorowsky’s encounter with Magdalena is when she goes to work on his genitals. As I have said before, Jodorowsky’s spiritual journey is a Tantric one. Magdalena introduces this portion of her “therapy” with the following observations about the difference between the male and female sex organs: “For us women, our internal sex is visceral. But for you men, this viscera has become an organ. We feel our vulva as a creative center, whereas you feel your phallus as a sort of companion, a pleasurable tool, and you separate it from your emotional center. Now lie down, I am going to show you the roots of your sex.”

    I will not attempt to describe what happens next. Suffice it to say that as Magdalena manipulates Jodorowsky’s organs, she discourses on the nature of the sexual center and its relationship to the rest of the body, and to the body’s subtle centers, and to the cosmos. Again, her remarks betray the influence of Kundalini, mixed together with elements of Taoist theory about the circulation of chi.

    Throughout this section, one wonders just how much Jodorowsky is embellishing the words of Magdalena. At one point, for example, he says that “She awakened my vital energy by causing my navel (which she called Eden) to sprout four intangible rivers branching into thirteen centers in my body, which she called temples.” Indeed, one wonders throughout the book about the words Jodorowsky attributes to others, and the degree to which he has exercised a certain license in setting forth his recollections. But ultimately this is a completely unimportant issue. What matters here are the ideas themselves—whatever their source may be—and their relevance to our own lives.

    The final stage of Magdalena’s therapy consists in her getting down on her hands and knees and washing Jodorowsky’s shadow—cast on the floor behind him—with lavender-scented soap and water. At this point I laughed out loud. I don’t feel, however, that this reaction in any way diminishes my fundamental conviction that this is a book of great profundity. It just also happens to be extremely funny (in the same way that Jodorowsky’s films are both profound and funny). I am even prepared to believe that there may be something to shadow washing. Furthermore, that these people were able to do all of this apparently without being drunk or stoned should be an inspiration to us all.

    In any case, the experience with Magdalena lasts forty days. At its conclusion, Jodorowsky walks down the street: “I no longer felt that the weight of my body was a burden. Instead, it was a link of union with this mirage I called reality. Every step was a caress, every breath of air was a blessing. These sensations were so surprising that I felt as if I were living in a new body and a new mind.” His transformed state is an expression precisely of that which I was trying to get at earlier with my remarks about overcoming the feeling of “having” a body, or of becoming one’s body.

    There follows a new episode with Ejo, which constitutes the climax of Jodorowsky’s dalliance with Zen. Realizing that Jodorowsky is going through a spiritual crisis, Ejo decides on a rather dangerous measure: rohatsu. This is the Zen Buddhist equivalent of the U.S. Marine “Hell Week”: constant meditation for seven days, with only very short breaks for sleep and eating. It is a practice regularly carried out in Japanese Zen monasteries. One can easily imagine, however, that in some individuals it could precipitate a psychotic break. The point does, in fact, seem to be to bring about a crisis of sorts—and this is exactly what occurs in the case of Jodorowsky.

    At one point, unable to take it anymore Jodorowsky leaps up and leaves Ejo sitting zazen. He rushes out into the night, wanting to be around ordinary people (not monks), wanting to be humdrum (not mystical). He dives into a nightclub, only to find himself feeling “like an extraterrestrial who, after a long interstellar voyage, arrives in a prison. The dancers seemed like galley slaves, going through their motions; smoking their tobacco and marijuana; ingesting their alcohol, cocaine, and pills; aware of only this tiny sliver of time and space.”

    Jodorowsky is in the uncomfortable position of all lovers of wisdom who have advanced quite a way down the path. He feels utterly alienated from ordinary people, almost seeing them as if they were a different species. Yet in a way, oddly, he yearns to be one of them again—to be “ordinary” and uncomplicated. Many intellectuals live in this tension—feeling that they have somehow transcended ordinary life, yet halfway yearning to be ignorant again. They may even envy ordinary people, seeing them as more connected to the world.

    The truth, however, is that most ordinary people are just as disconnected from the world, in their own way, as the intellectuals are. The meagerness of their knowledge, and the narrow range of options of which they are aware impoverishes their experience. Their ability to truly appreciate life is roughly commensurate with their understanding of it. The tension the intellectual experiences between enlightenment and life is actually a dialectic which ought to resolve itself in the following realization: that enlightenment is not an abandonment of ordinary life but actually an indescribably intense experience of it. The wise man is not otherworldly but profoundly this-worldly. And one reaches this state—I believe—through a radical acceptance of the facticity of the world, acceptance of that which is irreducibly other and unchosen. (This is what it means to “annihilate the ego.”) True mastery of life is possible only in one who has recognized the impossibility of mastery.

    Jodorowsky returns to the makeshift zendo. He has had his moment of clarity:

    I realized that I was alive for a duration of time that was infinitesimal within the eternity of the cosmos, and what a privilege, a gift, and a miracle this life was. This instant of my existence was the same instant in which the stars were dancing, in which the infinite and finite were united, in which were united the here and the beyond, the perfume of the air and the memory within all matter, the gods of imagination and unimaginable energy, lights and abysses, colors and blindness, the humble sensitivity of my skin and the ferocity of my fists—but also the miserable peasants, the soldiers, the imbecilic fat man, the passengers in the train chattering like monkeys, the cloud of dust following the bus: all of this was a remedy if I accepted it as such so that it was transformed by my vision. The world is what it is: a remedy instead of the poison I had believed it to be.

    5. Reyna the Robot

    Enter Reyna D’Assia, the daughter of the mystic G. I. Gurdjieff. Jodorowsky’s chapter on Reyna is, in many ways, the highpoint of the book. It is certainly the Tantric highpoint and comes quite close in many places to being pornographic. It is also probably the best brief account—and critique—of the ideas of Gurdjieff that I have ever come across. Jodorowsky meets Reyna in Mexico City after a screening of El Topo. She introduces herself to him as the daughter of Gurdjieff. Jodorowsky is dressed as the character he plays in the film—in a black leather cowboy outfit. Together, they take a taxi to her hotel, necking the entire way. In her room, she asks him to penetrate her, still dressed as El Topo (the Mole). Jodorowsky does so, but before he can start thrusting, Reyna’s vagina begins vibrating and convulsing around his penis. “A few seconds later, my semen flooded her. I had three successive ejaculations.”

    Reyna takes full advantage of the refractory period to teach Jodorowsky a few things. (In fact, she never stops talking.) She explains that she learned these sexual techniques from her mother, who was taught them by Gurdjieff. “Gurdjieff taught my mother to awaken and develop her soul by developing a living vagina.” Since Reyna claims to have been the product of a brief encounter between Gurdjieff and her mother, one wonders just how quickly such sexual skills can be imparted. Credulity is strained further when Jodorowsky describes Reyna squatting down and absorbing several olives, which she then fires from her vagina with such force that they ricochet off the ceiling. Reyna blows out a candle using her vagina—which seems a bit anticlimactic after the olives. But she manages to top that by inserting a thread into her vagina and—what else?—knotting it.

    Finally, Reyna’s vagina sings with a voice Jodorowsky likens to “the song of whales,” and to the sirens of Homer’s Odyssey. This reduces him to tears. Reyna comments: “In the most ancient times, women chanted lullabies with their vulvas to make their babies sleep, but as this art became lost and forgotten, children ceased to feel they were loved. An unconscious anxiety settled in the souls of human beings. That whimpering of yours expresses the pain of having a mother with a mute vagina, but we are going to resolve that.”

    Central to Gurdjieff’s mysticism is the idea that for much of our lives we live under the control of “the robot,” by which he means that we are fundamentally unconscious. We spend most of our waking lives unconscious—acting automatically. A simple example would be driving. How often have we driven someplace we frequently go, and literally been unable to remember driving there? Clearly, we had to have been “conscious” in some fashion, else we could not have negotiated the traffic. Yet, we acted robotically. Our minds, our self-awareness were, in a more important way, shut off. The trouble is that most people go through their entire lives like this. The robot even takes over in sex. The goal of Gurdjieff’s system is to “remember the self,” and to put the robot out of commission. In this there is, however, a great irony—as anyone knows who has ever had contact with Gurdjieffians. These people are extremely robotic. Everyone I have ever known who was into Gurdjieff seemed tightly controlled, humorless, obtuse, and utterly lacking in spontaneity.

    What happens next in Jodorowsky’s account is a concrete illustration of this irony: machine-like, Reyna proceeds to perform a number of physical and mental “tricks”:

    Standing on her left leg, Reyna D’Assia traced a figure eight in the air continuously with her right leg. Meanwhile, her left hand continuously traced a square and her right hand a triangle. All the while, she recited a seemingly chaotic succession of numbers. . . . “Listen carefully: 2 ×8 = 16. If I add the 1 and 6, I get 7, you understand? No? Another example: 8 × 12 = 96 and 9 + 6 = 15 and 1 + 5 = 6. Therefore 8 × 12 = 6.”

    And on and on and on. Further tricks are performed until she begins to seem to Jodorowsky like a “sinister machine.” Finally he grabs Reyna and essentially tells her this. In true Gurdjieffian fashion, she dismisses him as a poor fool who, if only he could advance a little further on the evolutionary scale, would be able to understand the serious purpose of these exercises. They quarrel over this until Jodorowsky puts an end to it like a true Tantrika: “Shut up and let’s fuck again!”

    Reyna’s philosophy, like Gurdjieff’s, is a mixture of sense and nonsense. At one point she tells Jodorowsky, “you have been trying to transcend the body, whereas you should be submerging yourself within it to become so small that you arrive finally at that inner offering that is your birthright—that indefinable diamond that we call ‘soul’ but which is beyond words.” This is sound advice and makes Reyna seem like a Tantrika herself. But she is deeply confused. In spite of this assertion about submerging oneself within the body, and in spite of her remarkable sexual skills, Reyna is witheringly cerebral. As D. H. Lawrence might say, she’s got her sex—and her Tantra—in her head. Jodorowsky confronts her with this:

    The pain you have undergone in order to live in accord with what you believe to be your realization is enormous. Yet how can you really live in peace while making such strenuous efforts? Where is everyday tranquility in all this? The simple pleasure of eating a piece of bread next to a river, of doing nothing, or walking in the street, smelling the wet asphalt after a rain, watching a flock of sparrows fly without wondering where they’re going? What about simple weeping in grief as we scatter the ashes of a loved one in a beautiful landscape, or speaking of ordinary, unimportant things with a child, an old woman, or a madman . . . ?

    “What bad taste!” Reyna responds, and then—predictably—she suggests that he is suffering from herd mentality. The goal of the spiritual quest is evolution to a higher form of consciousness—and the universe itself is evolving toward a state of “pure thinking.” In short, the Gurdjieffian philosophy is yet another progressivist ideology promising some future state of perfection as the only thing which can make the here and now meaningful. The adherents of such ideologies—whether they are Marxists, Christians, Ken Wilburites, Aurobindonians, Gurdjieffians, Liberal Democrats, Neoconservatives, or whatever—have one thing in common: a disconnection from the present, from the body, and from nature. The present state of the culture and of humanity is undeniably rotten, and it is perfectly natural to hope that the future may bring something better. But these ideologies, in one way or another, denigrate the pursuit of happiness in the here-and-now, on earth—and in the process denigrate pleasure and beauty. Furthermore, because they insist on the perfectibility of man they must deny any version of biological determinism, no matter how mild. Hence the disconnection from, and often outright hatred of, the body.

    Jodorowsky isn’t buying any of this. Nevertheless, he agrees to travel with Reyna to Monte Alban, a six-thousand-foot mountain flattened by the Zapotecs for ritual purposes. On the way, in the back seat of their chauffeur-driven car, Reyna shows Jodorowsky “how the larynx can perform astonishing movements if it is vibrated simultaneously with the aid of certain Tibetan mantras.” At the Zapotec pyramid, Reyna attempts to free a stone in order to cause the pyramid to “produce life.” Jodorowsky has now had enough. He finds a flower growing between the stones and cries out to her: “You see, the pyramid doesn’t need your help in order to produce life. . . . Reyna, I remain convinced that you give too much importance to effort. Stop carrying so many heavy stones! Allow something to be born in you that is not a product of your will . . .” She is livid with anger and throws the stone at Jodorowsky’s head, narrowly missing him. Then, incredibly, Reyna undergoes a transformation. She concedes Jodorowsky’s point, wholly and completely. “I must find another way,” she says.

    The other way consists in visiting a sorcerer named Don Prudencio Garza, who lives several miles away, in the desert. Reyna and Jodorowsky go on foot to find Don Prudencio. When they do, the grizzled old man feeds Reyna mushrooms which are said to produce “real, physical death.” If one is lucky, however, one can return transformed—having come back from a profound vision quest. Jodorowsky—who does not partake of the mushrooms—is ordered to remain absolutely silent, lest Reyna wake up as a demon and drink his blood. Don Prudencio feeds Jodorowsky some goat’s milk laced with what turns out to be a sleeping potion. When Jodorowsky awakens, Reyna has returned from her inward journey. “I am the same yet not the same,” she says. “The process unfolded in me as the sorcerer said it would: At first the mushrooms made me lose all sensation of my flesh and bones. I realized then that I had always lived in my body as if it were a prison. As I began to lose it, I felt an intense love and compassion for it.” (It would have been safer to have taken Reyna to Doña Magdalena, who produced a similar effect in Jodorowsky, but Magdalena disappeared shortly after finishing her work on him.) Jodorowsky also learns that when Reyna returned to consciousness she found Don Prudencio raping her (no doubt this was the reason he gave Jodorowsky the sleeping draught).

    A few years later, Jodorowsky receives a letter from Reyna D’Assia with a photograph of herself and her daughter. “I don’t know whether her father is you or Don Prudencio,” she writes.

    6. Conclusion

    The final episode of the book takes place a decade later. Jodorowsky has returned to Mexico to give a lecture at the University. Jodorowsky’s visit occurs just two weeks after the death of his young son Teo in an accident. He is struggling to deal with this loss, in the midst of fulfilling his numerous commitments. And now he must lecture on “enlightenment” to a crowd of college students. To his surprise and joy, Jodorowsky finds Ejo in the audience, and they are now reunited. Later, Ejo consoles him with a single Spanish word: duele (it hurts). What more can be said?

    The two men, however, are now greatly changed. Both are, in fact, ready to leave Zen behind. Ejo has realized that much of Zen practice is too rigid and formal, and has its origin in historical developments that are anything but spiritually motivated. Jodorowsky has filmed The Holy Mountain which ends with the realization that there are no “spiritual masters” and that the quest for them is folly. This abandonment of Zen may seem disappointing to some, but it should not be. After all, as they say, once one has reached the opposite shore it would be silly to pick up one’s raft and continue to carry it around.

    Has Jodorowsky (never mind Ejo) reached the other shore? Has he achieved Enlightenment? In order to answer this question, we have to have some idea of what Enlightenment is. In a 1994 interview Jodorowsky states, “All this Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan stuff, it’s all bollocks. Enlightenment doesn’t exist. We are all enlightened, we just don’t realize it. The great mystery is to be alive now. Nothing else is as important and incredible as being alive. It’s an incredible mystery. What more do we need to look for?”[3]

    As we have learned from Jodorowsky, Enlightenment (for lack of a better term) is certainly not a leaving behind of the body. And if we are embodied, and if we accept that, then we are finite and vulnerable. Hence Enlightenment, if it involves acceptance of the body, cannot be a state of invulnerability. Nor could Enlightenment be a state of all-seeing, all-knowing. The acceptance of the body and of finitude goes hand in hand with the acceptance of the state of not-knowing: an openness to the mystery of being. And this is the basis of paganism, and of radical Traditionalism.

    Modernity is essentially a war against finitude or limitation of any kind. Modern people—openly or tacitly—reject the idea that there should be any limits on the mind’s ability to understand or to improve upon nature, or themselves. They regard the cycles of nature and the cycles of life as something to be overcome. Why shouldn’t youth last forever? Why can’t we overcome death? Why can’t we have babies in our seventies? Why can’t we engineer better tomatoes? Why can’t we spend more than we earn? Why can’t both parents have careers? Why can’t we have stable marriages and sleep with whomever we like? Why can’t money buy happiness? (It might not have in the past, but things have changed, haven’t they?) Why can’t we enjoy all our consumer goods, and still be “green”? Why can’t we have a cohesive society made up of people who share neither culture nor language? Why can’t women be as masculine as men and men be feminine? Why can’t Heather have two mommies?

    We reject any suggestion that there may be necessities in life, meaning things that can only be one way, and not another. And we especially deplore the idea of biological necessity—i.e., the idea that the body may limit us. Radical Traditionalism is, at root, a call to return to our ancestors’ acceptance of finitude: their recognition that certain things are unchangeable, and that all attempts to change them lead to disaster. Paganism has the same root. “The gods” show themselves precisely in that which resists us. The gods are the mysterious facticities of life which stop us in our tracks because they are bigger than we are, and we are powerless against them. They are terrible, or beautiful, or both.

    But how to return to the gods, or to get them to return to us? This is the question that nags radical Traditionalists and neo-pagans. How can we do this when all cultural forces are arrayed against us, and when we are all—if truth be told—children of modernity? Traditionalism teaches that we are living in the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, the age of decline. In this time, the old ways seem to have lost their power. We are free to consult the runes and call to Odin. No Christians will burn us. But we do so fourteen floors up, as the air conditioner hums, and the Olestra gurgles in our innards. The earth, the water, the air, and our bodies have been developed, explored, cultivated, irradiated, and, generally, trashed.

    In this age, the only honest path open to us is the left hand path: taking that which debases and corrupts lesser mortals and using it as a means to self-transformation. This is Tantra, and this is what Jodorowsky’s book is about. What does it accomplish, exactly? Empty mind, full heart. The way back is not through mimicking the outer forms of the culture of our ancestors. It is through transforming our consciousness into some semblance of theirs. In other words, through taming the intellect and its tendency to fall into hubris; through silencing the mind and letting the wisdom of the body speak. As I said earlier, we did not spring upon this earth without any means to guide us, until modern rationalism came along. We came equipped with natural sentiments, instincts, and intuitions.[4] It is these that must be recovered, for this is what it means to have a “full heart.” It is from such “empty” minds and full hearts that Traditional culture sprang. Once we have achieved this—if, indeed, we can achieve it—will we reconstitute those same cultural forms? In outline yes, for they are perennial and natural; in detail, no.[5]

    This is a path to be followed by individuals, without any assurances at all that they may be laying the ground for a new world, beyond the Kali Yuga. To achieve what I have described is to make of oneself an alien in this world, but a native of the next, or of the one that has passed away. It has nothing to do with “fighting for the future,” for the future focus is one of the traps of modernity: believing that a future ideal state may confer meaning upon life in the present. No, the Tantric path is a leap of faith and a leap into the abyss: a radical embrace of uncertainty, mystery, and finitude—with no guarantees.

    Notes

    [1] Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky (Rochester Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2008)

    [2] Actually, this is from the Batman movie (Twentieth Century Fox, 1966), written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., directed by Leslie H. Martinson, and starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin.

    [3] From the 1994 documentary The Jodorowsky Constellation.

    [4] Incidentally, there is nothing “sentimental” about natural sentiments. They include love of one’s own—not universal love (which is impossible)—and the sentiment of “us vs. them.”

    [5] The foregoing is not a rejection of neo-paganism. Our quest to return to the spiritual standpoint of our ancestors may include studying their beliefs and, in some cases, doing as they did. I merely mean that without a radical, internal transformation of consciousness, neo-paganism is a conceit. Of all the theorists involved with neo-paganism, it is Edred Thorsson who takes the most promising and philosophically sophisticated approach. Thorsson openly declares himself to be a practitioner of the left hand path, while at the same time attempting to reconstitute and revivify the pagan ways of his ancestors. Such a synthesis is possible in Thorsson’s case because he takes Odin himself to have been a devotee of the left hand path. Thorsson’s “Odinism,” therefore, is not worship of Odin, but rather an attempt to achieve an “Odinic consciousness.” The left hand path, obviously, cannot be practiced in the abstract, and must take concrete form as a specific practice. Thorsson draws his practice from the pagan Germanic tradition, augmented by elements drawn from modern left hand path teachings.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The League of Shadows:The Path to Dark Enlightenment
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    1,690 words [1]

    Nowadays, any opinion regarding Batman cannot ignore the prime importance of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy [2].

    The British director indeed had the ability to adapt Frank Miller’s comics better than they had been before, and above all, he managed to turn an imaginary hero into something more complex and worthy of attention. Being one of a kind, Batman raises a few cultural and political issues which are not taken into consideration in most of the other superhero sagas.

    Nolan’s movies have such a degree of complexity that the protagonist of the trilogy does not play as prominent role as would normally be expected. In fact, Batman finds himself in a wide plot in which the powerful enemies that he fights against often play a central role, both in the story and in Bruce Wayne’s character development. The League of Shadows particularly deserves to be looked at more carefully, since it is from his encounter with this secret group that the incorruptible symbol of Batman is born, and who in the end will find the strength to fulfill his destiny.

    In the first chapter of the trilogy, Bruce Wayne is a man adrift, devoured by remorse and anger as a result of the deaths of his parents. He decides to live on the margins of society, living like a criminal without ever actually becoming one. His search for answers leads him to Asia, on the slopes of mountains that resemble the Himalayas, the home of the legendary hidden occult center of Agartha.

    Throughout the Nolan movies, prison plays a key role in the main character’s development. As shown in Batman Begins, it is in the darkness of a cell that Bruce Wayne meets with a mysterious man who offers him the opportunity to find a way out. We will find out later that his real name is Ra’s al Ghul, or “Demon’s Head,” leader of the League of Shadows, a warrior community that aims to wipe out corruption and decay from the face of the Earth by any means in order to inaugurate a new cycle of civilization.

    The reference to the Classical allegory of Plato’s cave in this incident is evident. The protagonist has to come out of the shadows to genuinely know himself and be in full possession of his faculties. “The will is everything. If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely,” he is taught. It is, indeed, thanks to the martial arts and meditation that the League of Shadows makes a perfect war machine out of Bruce Wayne. He learns how to master his physical strength, but most especially how to regulate his deepest fears. Through a path of awakening, which references the practices known to the famous League of Assassins of medieval Persia, Bruce increasingly becomes a differentiated man, an awakened one.

    His break with Ra’s al Ghul and the League happens at a time when he must demonstrate his absolute loyalty to them, causing the destruction of their castle but saving the life of his master. The first movie focuses entirely on the League of Shadows, and the presence of Ra’s al Ghul lingers throughout the film until the very end, when Batman is confronted by him yet again, and must choose whether or not to kill his former mentor in the name of his own sense of justice.

    But things are not that simple, and the hero, despite being “super,” is not the classic perfect man. The dark side of Batman emerges in the second movie, when a serious crisis threatens to “destroy” all his certainties. This time it is a challenge from the Joker, again in prison, which is the decisive moment. Is it another reference to Plato’s allegory? It may be that the interrogation in prison, which is first depicted in the dark and then in the light, symbolizes a moment of passage that is confirmed by the fatal choice Batman is forced to make between saving the life of Harvey Dent or Rachel. This time, it is not the villain’s fate which is at stake, but, in the deepest possible way, that of Batman himself. The Joker mocks him:

    Don’t talk like one of them. You’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these . . . these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.

    It is no wonder that the second chapter marks this moment of crisis, and the subsequent collapse of the Batman myth.

    Finding himself in the position of questioning all his principles, the hero of the saga is shattered before his lies and the failures of his choices. This is how Dent becomes the symbol and the hero of the city while, as the Joker predicted, Batman is abandoned and condemned by all.

    The whole story of Batman reaches its fulfillment only in the third chapter, The Dark Knight Rises, where the hero is facing a new terrible threat, this time represented by Bane and his army of loyal soldiers. Bruce Wayne is no longer the man he was in the past; he has been worn down by events, crippled by the weight of his mistakes. A veil of decay and darkness has fallen over his family’s villa.

    The dark hero returns to fight only when the threat of Bane is revealed in all its danger, and the clash with this mighty enemy, played by Tom Hardy in a state of grace, turns into a disaster for the protagonist. Batman is severely beaten because of his lack of preparation and is imprisoned in an underground jail, in a mysterious location in the Middle East. The antihero explains the hard lesson Bruce is to be taught: “I am the League of Shadows, and I’m here to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny! . . . You think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it.” Batman has not yet fully attained his true self, so he must plunge into the darkness to rise yet again.

    The symbols of prison and shadow return again. More so than in the rest of the trilogy, the allegory of Plato’s cave comes to play a key role in the rest of the story. Meanwhile, it turns out that Bane has replaced the deceased Ra’s al Ghul, becoming the new leader of the League of Shadows. While a populist government, with some resemblance to the councils of the Bolsheviks, imposes itself on Gotham, the League of Shadows prepares for the complete destruction of the metropolis. The catastrophic project, the overthrow of an era, has not ended, and is being carried on by the daughter of Ducard/Ra’s al Ghul.

    Bruce Wayne is literally broken. He fails to rise to the occasion, and he helplessly witnesses the imminent destruction of the city he tried to protect. Then, in a kind of déjà-vu that recalls their meeting at the beginning of the first film, Ra’s al Ghul appears to his disciple, triggering the hero’s liberation from the darkness he has fallen into: “You, yourself, fought the decadence of Gotham for years with all your strength, all your resources, all your moral authority, and the only victory you achieved was a lie. Now you understand Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die.”

    For the final time, the League of Shadows pushes Bruce to take full possession of himself. Plato’s allegory, which relates to truth and how it is revealed to the world, is evident in the movie through the actions taken by the differentiated man. As Heidegger says, the one who comes out of the darkness and sees the light of truth must then return to the cave to attempt to awaken those who are still imprisoned. The risk is very high in this deadly struggle. Bruce Wayne becomes a disciple once again in the crucial moments of the story, and it is Batman who comes to light after Bruce is awakened.

    The League of Shadows, along with Ra’s al Ghul, and Batman are two sides of the same coin. They represent two approaches to the essential truth and how one approaches the principles of justice and regeneration. Whereas Ra’s al Ghul and Bane represent in some way the “Left-hand Path,” which seeks to make use of all appropriate means to create the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new civilization. “When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural,” Bruce was told in Batman Begins. As it is depicted in the first chapter of the trilogy, this secret group has its headquarters in a sort of Agartha, isolated from the world, but its agents are everywhere. On the other hand, Batman represents the “Right-hand Path,” being rigidly faithful to the principles of justice and solidarity.

    The way the League of Shadows operates symbolizes, in some way, the attitude of the disaffected, those who know that nothing will change if you rely on a corrupted humanity that indulges in every form of baseness. Batman yet retains hope for this civilization that he is attempting to save, and yet this hope becomes his greatest weakness. But beyond this, the end of the trilogy is somehow a disruption of the strained claim to authenticity that he has made throughout the whole saga, which results in a “lie” that enables Gotham to be saved from itself.

    As clarified by Heidegger in his interpretation of Plato’s doctrine of aletheia, truth presupposes and includes falsity. A man seeking for truth fits into in this circle of concealment and revelation. Darkness and light are therefore two sides of the same reality, which finds its final and incorruptible expression in the defining of a symbol, and of an immortal idea.

     

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PJ Media Staff15
PJ Media



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The Top 10 Comic Book Movies Hollywood Still Needs to Make (#10): Dr. Doom
    Lifestyle One of the things that we're hoping to do more in the future with PJ Lifestlye and PJ Tatler is to use the shorter blog format to develop ideas that will then be polished up for longer, full-length PJM articles. We're going to look to PJM's commenters to provide arguments that will help shape the direction the PJM articles ultimately take. In this way the blog medium can be taken to an even more explicit level of reader-writer collaboration as we all work together to make sense of the world.I'd like to begin this New Media experiment with a lighthearted subject appropriate for the middle of the Summer season: a discussion of the comic book blockbusters. Each year more seem to be released, and maybe it's just me but is the level of quality rising? One can only imagine how the third Batman film will be in Summer 2012...As the genre moves forward it's worth thinking about what comic properties Hollywood has yet to touch that they should. So here's my first guesses as to an attempt at ranking the 10 comics that I think would make successful, provocative summer blockbusters. This list is a work in progress. I hope that PJM readers will be able correct my mistakes and offer up better suggestions or a more accurate order. I'll be laying out 4 parts today, 4 parts tomorrow, and the last 2 on Monday -- each post scheduled throughout the day.Initial thoughts on the comic and the film will be short and basic -- the titles decided on for the final PJM article will be longer and more in depth with sharper arguments enhanced by the credited thoughts of PJM's best commenters.What I most want to figure out is: which titles have the potential to become the most satisfying, effective films? The ultimate ranking will be based on that criterion, not necessarily which comic is "better" than the other. Suggestions of which actors, screenwriters, and directors would be most appropriate for each film would be appreciated.So let's begin:10. Doctor DoomThis metal-masked sorcerer, dictator, and technological master was featured in the first Fantastic Four movie BY NAME but the character had nothing to do with the actual arch villain featured in the comics. The REAL Doctor Doom -- who is a much more intimidating, powerful, threatening character -- should be explored in his own film and fought perhaps by the Avengers.There's the potential here for whoever the actor is who plays Doom to really deliver a major career performance the way Robert Downey Jr. and Christian Bale have. And the creation of the Doom character would combine the technological elements of Iron Man with the magical reality of Thor.The storytelling potentials here are many.What actor would do a good job as the character and who should direct the film? var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'My tribute to DR. DOOM', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Click here to see #9 on the beta Top 10 list. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2011/7/30/the-top-10-comic-book-movies-hollywood-still-needs-to-make-10-dr-doom/ ]]>
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  • The Top 10 Cinematic Portrayals of DC Comics Villains
    Lifestyle Warner Bros. recently announced an aggressive slate of films based upon DC Comics properties which will share a single cinematic universe, an answer to the successful franchise which Marvel Studios has built since 2008’s Iron Man. The DC slate opens with 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and will continue the same year with Suicide Squad, which director David Ayer recently described as “The Dirty Dozen with supervillains.”In the comics, the Suicide Squad boasts DC’s B-list villains, characters like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. However, if rumors now circulating prove true, the cinematic interpretation of Suicide Squad may boast A-list villains like Lex Luthor and the Joker. Reports claim that bombshell actress Margot Robbie has been cast as Harley Quinn, and that Oscar-winner Jared Leto is in talks to play Joker.In any case, the roster of DC Comics villains portrayed in live-action film is about to explode. Before that happens, let’s consider where the existing rogues gallery ranks. Here are the top 10 cinematic portrayals of DC Comics villains. var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Batman Begins (3/6) Movie CLIP - The Doctor Isn't In (2005) HD', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); #10. Cillian Murphy’s ScarecrowWhen it was announced that Christopher Nolan would be rebooting the Batman franchise years after Joel Schumacher piloted it into the ground, no one could have predicted how definitive the result would become. Among the bold moves made in re-imagining the property was featuring lesser known villains, including the Scarecrow.Actor Cillian Murphy took what could have easily been a camp character and grounded him in a believable reality. Dr. Jonathan Crane served a vital narrative purpose befitting his nature as a criminal psychologist obsessed with fear. Fear stood as the dominant theme in Batman Begins, as Bruce Wayne turned his fear against the criminals holding an unholy grip upon Gotham City. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/11/14/the-top-10-cinematic-portrayals-of-dc-comics-villains/ previous Page 1 of 10 next   ]]>
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  • New Batman Movie Previewed in 20 Minute Video
    Ed Driscoll var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': '1989Batman.com Warner Brothers 1988 Batman Preview Video RARE Making Of 1989', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); OK, to be fair, it was the then-new first Batman movie starring Michael Keaton, which was previewed in a 1988 video, which as the sci-fi themed Website i09 notes, Warner Brothers released "to Prove Tim Burton's Batman Wouldn't Suck:"Holy crap. Has it really been 25 years since Tim Burton's first Batman film came out and proved superhero movies could be serious? People forget this seemed impossible at the time, which is why WB made this fascinating behind-the-scenes promo video in 1988.According to the special's director, Andrew Gillman, the video was made to reassure distributors and merchandisers the movie wasn't going to be a campy update of the 1966 Batman TV series. The entire video is fascinating, not just for taking a look at the making of the movie, but also revealing how people generally thought of comic book-based entertainment back in 1988 — and how much people had to be convinced the now seminal film wasn't going to be a disaster.Warner Brothers was riding a very curious wave in the late 1980s -- Full Metal Jacket, released in 1987 was pretty awesome late-period Kubrick, even more so in retrospect, and Lee Ermey and Adam Baldwin continue to receive plenty of well-deserved goodwill from the film. Batman turned out to be far better than anyone expected, with Michael Keaton as brilliant example of stunt-casting that actually worked.And then came Bonfire of the Vanities, in which Warner purchased the rights to the definitive novel of the 1980s -- and did everything they could to make its adaptation a politically correct unwatchable mess.Well, two out of three isn't bad -- and compared to today's cinematic culture, it's fun to look back at an era when Hollywood hadn't quite yet exhausted itself. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2014/8/26/new-batman-movie-previewed-in-20-minute-video/ ]]>
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  • The Dark Knight Rises Trailer: Is Catwoman an Occupier?
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    PJ Media The Dark Knight Rises official trailer is out. It makes the film sound very political, more so than either of the first two Nolan Batman films.http://www.youtube.com/watch" frameborder="0" allowFullScreen> var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': '', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); It also looks very, very good.Catwoman's lines in the trailer:You think this can last. There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne.You and your friends better batten down the hatches, cause when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."The rest of us?"Catwoman is a thief, and a rich thief at that. Her portrayal in Batman: Arkham City sticks close to this amoral line. She slinks around and steals, helps Batman when she absolutely has to, but mostly enjoys chaos and looks after herself. The DKR trailer makes her out to be someone you'd expect to find around a drum circle in your local park. Maybe Catwoman is still carrying too much student debt? If these lines in the trailer are true to her character in the film, then Catwoman is essentially a sexy Soros, working with the forces of chaos to bring down the system while profiting from it at the same time. In the end, though, Batman is the real hero, and he doesn't let chaos win.So which side is director Christopher Nolan on -- Batman's or Catwoman's?Well, TDKR filmed using real occupiers as a background/prop. Or, they were going to do that, until they decided that the occupier' message, whatever it was, was more important than filming a blockbuster and giving the occupiers jobs that paid them real money.Perhaps Christopher Nolan is just very shrewd at generating hype for his film. Surely he's smart enough to have understood how and why George Lucas having Anakin Skywalker mutilate a George W. Bush war on terror line ended up ruining the Obi-Wan character, the Darth Vader character and the Star Wars franchise. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/the-dark-knight-rises-trailer-is-catwoman-an-occupier/ ]]>
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  • The Top 10 Comic Book Movies Hollywood Still Needs to Make (#8): The Riddler
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle Click here for #10 -- Dr. Doom -- and the introduction to this project.Click here for Part #9 -- Justice League.8. The RiddlerThe Riddler needs to be featured prominently as the sole villain in a Batman film. He apparently won't be in the one coming out next Summer.The current screen performance of Batman's most intellectual enemy is a campy turn by Jim Carrey. It's time for a new actor's characterization of the villain to make Carrey's clowning a forgotten memory. In the last Batman film the late Heath Ledger reinvented the Joker and forever changed how the character was regarded. There is just as much potential for an A-list actor to do the same as the Riddler. Who should it be? var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': '', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2011/7/30/the-top-10-comic-book-movies-hollywood-still-needs-to-make-8-the-riddler/ ]]>
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  • The Green Hornet: Nice Buzz, No Sting
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    PJ Media You know going in that something’s up with The Green Hornet. A superhero movie starring schlubby Seth Rogen and directed by the French visual magician Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)? Like Watchmen, this isn’t so much a superhero movie as a critique of same -- this time from a comic point of view.In that sense, it's the inverse of the old 1966 ABC TV series, which for the most part played it straight (and would help propel Bruce Lee to eventual superstardom along the way), in contradistinction to the network's infamously campy pop art take on Batman.Rogen, who co-wrote the script with his boyhood friend Evan Goldberg, with whom he also wrote Superbad and Pineapple Express, stars as a wealthy playboy like Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark. But Rogen’s character, Britt Reid, is a spoiled, whiny slacker, so cosseted that the story really gets rolling when he discovers someone has bungled his cappuccino. By this point, he has lost his father, an L.A. newspaper magnate, to a fatal bee sting -- but it’s the bad java that really stings Britt.Demanding to know the details behind his morning pick-me-up, he encounters an obscure servant on his gigantic estate whom he’s never met -- Kato (Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou). Not only can Kato make a dazzling cup of joe, he’s also a martial-arts master, designer, engineer, mechanic, ladykiller and all-around genius. Picture an ass-kicking Leonardo da Vinci in black leather and motorcycle cap -- who happens to work as a gofer. “We’ve both been completely wasting our potential,” Britt tells him. “You, a little more than me.” Soon, the two of them adopt disguises (Britt wears a green mask) for their first covert mission -- sawing the head off a bronze statue of Britt’s father, who used to be mean to his son.By accident, the two of them become masked crime fighters taking on L.A.’s organized crime boss Chudnofsky (a funny and merciless Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds), and since Britt has inherited his father’s newspaper, he splashes the news about himself and his sidekick all over Page One. He even comes up with a nickname for the trench-coated crusader nobody but Kato knows is his alter ego: “The Green ... Bee!” Kato suggests “Hornet” sounds cooler. Also, Kato doesn’t really like being called a sidekick, especially when his boss is an oaf. “I’m Indy, you’re Short Round, " Britt insists. He tells Kato to back off Britt’s pretty new secretary (Cameron Diaz), who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of crime for a temp and comes up with surprisingly perspicacious tips about what Chudnofsky might do next. But she, like everyone else, thinks Britt is a jerk. It doesn’t help that he says she’s in the “twilight” of her years. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/the-green-hornet-nice-buzz-no-sting/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
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  • Blade Runner: The Final Final Cut for Christmas
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    PJ Media We're in the middle of a five-year Hollywood dry spell that's so bad, one journalist even had the chutzpah to claim "The era of big cinema is over". And in these days of what Mark Steyn calls "present-tense culture", it may seem hard for many to remember that for forty years, Hollywood could be counted on to release at least one awe-inspiring science fiction film a decade. The trend began in the 1950s with Forbidden Planet, and its glimpse of the staggering artifacts left behind by that eponymic world's long dead civilization, the Krell. 11 years later in 1968, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke gave the world 2001: A Space Odyssey, which presented audiences with not just The Dawn Of Man, but two of his possible successors: a space-born supercomputer named Hal, and rebirth as a Nietzschian starchild. In 1977, George Lucas would merge 1930s pulp with special effects inspired by 2001, and gave both movie audiences and the Hollywood industry itself A New Hope.In 1999, The Matrix asked moviegoers to question reality itself, as it pondered a future in which the friends of Hal were running the show, and Man was literally nothing more than their batteries.But The Matrix found its roots in the previous decade's benchmark science fiction film, 1982's Blade Runner.License To KillAfter spending most of the 1970s working in the British advertising industry, Ridley Scott's first film was The Duellists in 1977, a sort of road company version of Stanley Kubrick's 1975 anti-epic, Barry Lyndon.It garnered Scott much praise for its beautiful cinematography, but did little box office. It was with his next movie that Scott would hit the big time. For just as George Lucas had merged 1930s movie serials with cutting edge special effects in Star Wars, in Alien, Scott would take another old-time Hollywood staple, the bug-eyed horror-film monster, and move him into outer space.Scott pushed all the right buttons of the massive audience for sci-fi that Star Wars cultivated just a couple of years earlier. And as a result of Alien's box office success, he found himself at the point that a few successful directors reach. Movie studios gambling for their next hit will often give a suddenly hot director his one time license to kill, in the form of a big budget and a large amount of creative control. In the mid-1960s, Stanley Kubrick was given his by MGM as a result of Dr. Strangelove, and thus had both an enormous budget and the freedom to make 2001 into a film that was simultaneously a blockbuster and intensely personal. George Lucas was given his by 20th Century Fox after the low-budget American Graffiti minted big profits for Universal.Star Wars' happy ending and unambiguous black and white hatted characters revitalized a Hollywood that heretofore had spent the first three quarters of the 1970s alienating audiences with grim, nihilistic (but occasionally great) movies. Quickly becoming the highest grossing movie in Hollywood's history, in its wake, the late 1970s and early 1980s was an era in which science fiction was the genre of choice in Tinseltown.This was the environment in which Scott directed Blade Runner. The result was a film, much like 2001, that mystified early audiences, failed with its first critics, and yet slowly gathered cult status as one of its decade's great cinematic achievements.Blade Runner had so many offshoots that it created a whole cottage industry that throughout the 1980s routinely borrowed its design and story elements. TV's Max Headroom and The Michael Keaton-era Batman movies borrowed its production design. The first Terminator movie from 1984 was little more than a way to tell the same story with a much lower budget by bringing the androids back to present-day L.A. And Jan Hammer's gleaming synthesizer soundtrack to Miami Vice owes more than a small debt to the soundscape that synthesizer wizard Vangelis created for Blade Runner. In 1989's Black Rain, even Ridley Scott himself ended the decade by trying to make present day Japan look like the L.A. he created seven years earlier.Merging Man And MachineBut unlike much of what followed in its wake, what ties Blade Runner in with the elite science fiction films is its marriage of state-of-the-art special effects with a fully reasoned science fiction subtext. The Matrix's postmodern "What is reality" theme is unthinkable without Blade Runner coming first-as Blade Runner asked, "what does it mean to be human?"What the replicants actually are is deliberately left ambiguous by the filmmakers. They seem like the reverse of TV's bionic characters-they appear to have artificial brains encased in human skin. They definitely bleed like humans when shot. But Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty character certainly acts like he's getting some sort of electrical short circuit when, Christ-like, he inserts a nail into the palm of his hand near the end of the film. But are they human? Well, they certainly pass the Turing test even better than Kubrick's Hal 9000 does.But who in the movie is human and who isn't? In the original, 1982 version of Blade Runner, the notion that Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard might be a replicant was certainly buried deep within the film's subtext. Ten years later, for the film's first Director's Cut release, Scott inserted a brief scene that made the idea much less ambiguous. Coupled with the new ending of the film, it begged audiences to wonder: how much of Deckard's back story-divorced hard bitten cop-was as manufactured as those of his female counterpart, played by Sean Young. While Ford was angry to suddenly find himself playing a robot, ex post facto, it provided the perfect sci-fi twist to end the movie.Hiding A Multitude Of SinsWhile the visual and sonic impact of the film was apparent from the start, the production design and killer music hide a few flaws: in the version of the film that went out to theaters in 1982, its continuity is just a mess. It's somewhat understandable why Leonard Maltin, at least in the earlier versions of his annual Movie and Video Guide would write that the film is "a triumph of production design, defeated by a muddled script and main characters with no appeal whatsoever."Responding to less than stellar early previews, it's obvious that Scott and the film's producers tried to rescue the film in the editing room. That's reflected in how so much expository information comes from actors when they're off camera, particularly the police captain played by veteran character actor M. Emmett Walsh.Walsh famously refers to "six replicants", with one killed before the on-screen action began, ordering Ford's character to find the remaining five. But the fifth replicant (apparently to be played by Stacy Nelkin, who was the inspiration for Mariel Hemingway's character in Woody Allen's Manhattan) was terminated by budget cuts long before her character could hit the streets of 21st century L.A.The first shots of Rutger Hauer don't match the scene that immediately follows, because they were stolen from the film's last reel and dropped in to flesh out his character's introduction. And then there was the original film's incongruous drive off into the sunset happy ending, built around outtakes from the opening credits of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. At the time, critics complained that if the countryside is so much less developed than the city, why doesn't everyone move there? (Probably for the same reason that contemporary Greenwich Village denizens rarely decamp to Texas or Iowa.)We Call It Voight-Kampff For ShortAs reflected in the five discs that are included in the new deluxe DVD edition of the film, Blade Runner went through a number of revisions, the most important of which were the film's 1982 premiere, and 1992 "Director's Cut" version. Although the latter jettisoned the happy ending and tacked on a lot of expository narration, it left all of the continuity errors from 1982 still very much present and accounted for.Fortunately, through a combination of judicious sound editing and a handful of CGI shots to mask the limits of special effects in 1982, that's all been cleaned up in a new DVD that promises it is the film's "Final Cut".Just in time for Christmas, all of the film's previous editions are included in the blow-out Gift Set DVD edition, which includes five DVDs packaged in a case resembling the Blade Runner squad's replicant testing kit, the polygraph-like Voight-Kampff machine. There's also some fun swag: a recreation of the symbolic origami unicorn that Edward James Olmos leaves in Deckert's apartment at the end of the film, a toy "Spinner" flying police car, a portfolio of storyboards and a few of former Detroit automobile illustrator Syd Mead's production design drawings.Soylant Green II: Replicant BoogalooFrom the flying police cars to the film's look of retrofitted technology within a moldering Los Angeles cityscape down and out underneath the film's giant skyscrapers, Mead was responsible for much of the film's look.Mead's brilliant designs, realized on film by an army of highly skilled cinematic technicians, mask perhaps Blade Runner's biggest sin. It's a film that, made by less skilled artists, could have fitted quite easily into the subgenre of sci-fi films that Star Wars happily helped put out to pasture: the sterile modernist Hollywood dystopian film. Think about it: replace Harrison Ford with Charlton Heston, ditch the noir lighting, clad the actors in white jumpsuits instead of '40s-inspired togs, and replace Mead's dank production design with clean Mies van der Rohe modernist architecture, and the plot of the film might have been too close for comfort to all of those early 1970s corporate-enviro-disaster movies. Without Ridley Scott, Syd Mead and Vangelis, Blade Runner would have been THX-1138 Again, Soylant Green II: Replicant Boogaloo or Rollerball: The Next Generation.And in many ways, the film's mindset is informed by the mindset of that era. It assumes a straight line from the urban hell of the 1970s to 2019, but we now know that it's possible to stem much of that tide through policies such as Rudy Giuliani's "Broken Window" school of law enforcement. And it assumes an overcrowded world, whereas Japan, the nation that's likeliest to have a shot at something resembling replicants first, is building their human-shaped robots to offset the demographic decline and fall of a rapidly aging population reproducing far below the replacement rate.But then, that's another of science fiction's hidden beauties: it often gives future generations looking back a more accurate picture of the people who created these films and their cultural obsessions, far better than it predicts the future itself.Journalist/blogger Ed Driscoll produces PJM Political, Pajamas Media's weekly show on XM Satellite radio. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/blade_runner_do_androids_dream/ ]]>
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  • Are Superhero Movies Undemocratic? Who Cares?
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    LifestyleMovies While Wonder Woman has been dominating at the box office, the idea of superheroes is clearly on people's minds. For the crowd that believes everything is political, however, this is a great opportunity to show that they're humorless troglodytes who can't actually just enjoy anything without trying to make it uncool for anyone to enjoy it.Take Wonder Woman, for example. A strong, powerful female lead that is kicking major butt at the box office isn't enough, nor is the big win by a female director who just set a record for the best opening weekend by any director of her gender.No, some humorless scold at Salon has decided to take a massive dump on the entire superhero genre by claiming that characters like Wonder Woman are "undemocratic." Here’s a joke you haven’t heard: What’s the difference between Wonder Woman and Donald Trump? One is an moralistic aristocrat with a superiority complex about Western civilization who autocratically thrusts their warped notion of “justice” upon the world. The other, of course, is the president. Lest you think I’m singling out the hero du jour, I should note that virtually any superhero can be inserted into that joke. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor, Iron Man — with few exceptions, superhero blockbusters read as if they were underwritten by the American Enterprise Institute. That’s because nearly all superhero movies glorify wealth (and the freedom it provides), aristocracy and/or monarchy, militarism, unilateralism, and right-wing fantasies about criminality. You might object to this harsh critique of America’s most beloved (and profitable) film genre. After all, aren’t these movies little more than harmless summer popcorn flicks? Not really. And no, it doesn't really get any better. 7 Slobbering Feminist 'Wonder Woman' Movie Review Quotes First, keep in mind that this comes from the left, the very same people who elevated Barack Obama from a mere president into a leftist messiah whom they actively wanted to single-handedly reshape the Western world in their preferred image. Salon, which published this screen, had the temerity after eight years of Obama to tag this piece with "The movie genre epitomizes the right-wing idea that we need elites to save us."Yeah...with this much projection they should sell popcorn, sodas, and show superhero movies. Seriously.Second, let's understand that superheroes are the modern proxies for heroes and demigods from Greek mythology. You've heard of the Greeks, right? They only invented democracy.The fact is, there aren't really any underlying messages in the genre. If there is one, however, it's that one man can make a difference. Isn't that what we tell people when we try to get them to get off their rear ends to go and vote?If a message like that is undemocratic, then so be it. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2017/06/05/are-superhero-movies-undemocratic-who-cares/ load more ]]>
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  • September's 10 Most Popular Movie Trailers
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle Fall is decisively under way. September saw the release of many new movie trailers. It’s an interesting time of the year, not quite late enough to start seeing much from next year’s highly anticipated lineup of blockbusters. That clears the way for some lesser known projects to take a greater share of the public’s attention. Here are the top 10 most popular movie trailers released in September. var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'God Help The Girl Official Trailer #1 (2014) - Emily Browning Movie HD', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); 10. God Help the GirlEmily Browning has a stealthy little career going for her, working steadily in films which no one sees. Her most mainstream appearance came in Zack Snyder’s directorial misstep Sucker Punch. The other places you may have seen her were this year’s Pompeii and the Jim Carrey showpiece from a few years back, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.She has a trademark beauty which oscillates between strange and captivating. It’s a look which suits this eccentric musical drama well. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/10/7/septembers-10-most-popular-movie-trailers/ previous Page 1 of 10 next   ]]>
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  • Perhaps If He Added the Word 'Alfred' to the Beginning of His Title…
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Ed Driscoll Yet another Blue on Blue incident, as Lee Daniels, The Butler’s director attacks Hollywood racism, claiming, “Hollywood would not allow me to make a black drama:”The director claims he met resistance to the film's financing, in part, based on the notion that "black" films don't sell in the modern marketplace.It’s bull ... that our movies don’t make money,” he said, then added pointedly that he thought industry types didn’t protest the point for reasons of cowardice and self-protection. “It’s politically incorrect to scream racism at the studios in Hollywood. People fear for their jobs,” he said.Daniels felt insulted that Hollywood suits could dictate how much money he would need for his film given his track record. Left unsaid is that some of the biggest, most respected names in Hollywood struggle to get their films produced. Even Steven Spielberg said his Oscar-winning Lincoln almost didn't make the big screen due to the new challenges facing dramatic film productions.Perhaps if Daniels had decided to make a film about Alfred the Butler, he might have had a chance attracting the interest of Hollywood’s studios. As producer Lynda Obst wrote in recent book Sleepless in Hollywood, historically-themed movies (perhaps with the exception of explosion-heavy World War II movies) are exceedingly difficult to launch in what she calls "The New Abnormal" of postmodern Hollywood. In fact, as Obst noted, anything that doesn’t have the following in its title or cast will be an uphill struggle to get made in 21st century Hollywood:BatmanSupermanSpider-ManStar TrekStar WarsJames BondMission: ImpossibleThe Avengers (and/or their individual superheroes)HobbitsPixarIn other words, Hollywood wants big budget comic book or sci-fi franchises to help increase the odds that the $200 mil or more that they’re going to sink into a movie -- plus advertising and distribution -- will result in a hit, or at the least, avoid becoming a spectacular, Heaven’s Gate-level studio-destroying bomb. This is a very different -- and as Spielberg pointed out, an increasingly high risk model for the studios. (Witness all of the implosions this summer, perhaps a billion dollars' worth.)In the old days, each year Hollywood studios would make one or two zillion dollar spectacles (think David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago, Darryl Zanuck’s The Longest Day, or Kubrick’s Spartacus), lots of midrange medium budget quality productions, and plenty of cheapies. Today, as Obst writes, Hollywood films come in two, exceedingly schizophrenic, flavors. On the high-end, Hollywood produces superhero, science fiction and action films, typically part of a franchise such as the Batman, Superman, Star Trek and Avengers movies. And lots of low budget independent movies. Many of the latter are films that were independently funded as The Butler was, develop buzz, catch on as crowd favorites at a film festival like Sundance, and then Hollywood picks up the distribution to urban art theaters, cable TV, and DVD.But if The Butler’s director wants to insist to the world that the town that went all-in to elect Barack Obama, and made superstars of Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Sidney Poitier, Halle Berry and other black actors and actresses is a hot bed of racism, as veteran screenwriter William Goldman once wrote, have fun storming the castle.Or as Roger L. Simon writes today in his PJM column, “The race card is a perfect example of this division and why this movement should be extinguished. Anybody who plays the race card in our country today is less than pond scum. It has become the 21st century equivalent of accusing someone of witchcraft in seventeenth century Salem. Anyone who uses the race card should be considered a pariah automatically. It’s almost always projection.”Though upon further consideration, perhaps Daniels has a point. Until Hollywood solves not just its inherent racism, but stops giving a pass to Communism, totalitarianism, anti-Republicanism, domestic violence, and its hatred of its domestic audience (aka, oikophobia), then I’m prepared to boycott its product as it rolls off the assembly line. I think I’ll start with The Butler…Related: "Reagan Biographer Blasts 'The Butler' for Maligning President's Race Record;" its coverage of the JFK era also sounds rather shaky as well. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2013/8/15/butler-director-sees-hollywood-racism/ ]]>
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  • 6 Punches Director Zack Snyder Must Land in Man of Steel (Revisited)
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Man of Steel Official Teaser Trailer #2 - Superman Movie (2013) HD', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Note: The following was originally published nearly a year ago upon the initial release of the first teaser trailer for Man of Steel. In the many months since, we have learned much more about director Zack Snyder's approach to reinventing Superman for the silver screen. In celebration of this week's long-anticipated release of the film, we're revisiting this wishlist, adding commentary on how the trailers, interviews, and behind-the-scenes material released thusfar indicate whether Snyder and company will land these punches.In the 2004 film Finding Neverland, playwright J.M. Barrie is depicted seeding orphaned children throughout the opening-night audience of Peter Pan. He does this to break the ice for the surrounding adults, gambling that the children’s earnest reactions will suspend disbelief in grown-ups.I was reminded of Barrie’s strategy upon watching the teaser trailer for Man of Steel, which was attached to the recent release of The Dark Knight Rises. For those not expecting it, the teaser plays its subject close to the chest. Shots of rural America are interposed with footage of a black-bearded, blue-eyed migrant worker hitching rides between jobs. Visually, all is ordinary, even a bit mundane. Only the voice-over hints at something special about this man. In the version I saw (there are two making the rounds), Kevin Costner speaks of a moral choice ahead and states that this man, his son, will undoubtedly change the world.It is only after that subdued montage, when our interest is piqued regarding how this seemingly ordinary person could change anything, that we get a brief glimpse of something up in the sky, a caped figure propelled without effort, zipping through the clouds at such speed that he leaves behind a sonic boom. Then, we behold the iconic S shield.It was at that moment during my viewing that a young child among the audience gasped and cheered.Superman!I doubt he was a J.M. Barrie plant, but the moment played as he would have intended. The whole audience took that kid’s glee as permission to get excited. After the Dark Knight legend ends, the Man of Steel’s begins.The grounded portrayal evident in the teaser offers hope that this on-screen iteration of Superman will depart significantly from the increasingly cartoonish super-powered soap operas of the past thirty years. Lending credence to that hope is a familiar creative team. Christopher Nolan, who directed the Dark Knight trilogy, is producing Man of Steel. He also came up with the story, which was put to script by Dark Knight scribe David S. Goyer. Direction is provided by Watchman and 300 auteur Zack Snyder.Assuming Nolan can tame Snyder’s often chaotic visual style, it seems likely that Man of Steel will revitalize the Superman mythos for a generation that’s never been properly introduced. Sure, there was Superman Returns a couple years ago, and the adventures of a young Clark Kent in television’s Smallville. But neither of those efforts effectively captured the essence of the character or his world.Those of us with young children today grew up with the films of the late ’70s and ’80s. For us, Superman was and shall in spirit remain Christopher Reeve. The earnest humanity he brought to Clark Kent was eclipsed only by his steadfast portrayal of Superman.Richard Donnor, director of the 1978 original, famously sought verisimilitude.You will believe a man can fly.So read the teaser poster. And we did believe. The film is still regarded as one of the best in the genre. But it was not without flaws, and things have slid downhill since.Superman II was only partially shot by Donnor. It was finished by and credited to Richard Lester, who added heavy camp reminiscent of super hero parodies like the ’60s Batman television series. Though much of Donnor’s verisimilitude endured in the final cut, it was wholly absent from the absurd entries which followed. Reeve remained impeccable as Superman, but could not overcome his increasingly ludicrous surroundings.After Donnor and Reeve, Kent and his alter-ego retreated to the small screen in various iterations until 2006’s Superman Returns. Coming off the success of the X-Men franchise, and in light of vocal reverence for Richard Donnor, it seemed the Superman property was in good hands under director Bryan Singer. Alas, what emerged in theaters was a super disappointment for reasons we shall explore.In order to set things right, and restore Superman’s verisimilitude, there are several things next year’s reboot must do. The fact that Nolan and company are proceeding as though no previous films exist provides an opportunity to recast the godfather of all superheroes in an image long lost. Here are six punches director Zack Snyder must land in Man of Steel. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/6/13/6-punches-director-zack-snyder-must-land-in-man-of-steel-revisited/ previous Page 1 of 7 next   ]]>
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  • I Liked Scrooge Better Before: 3 Christmas Movies I Hate
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle I'm not a big fan of Christmas. It requires me to take time off work and venture into the cold to waste time with people I don't like, and who don't like me back.I've felt this way as long as I can remember.As a teenager, I'd start having mini-anxiety attacks around June, anticipating the annual ritual:Getting dragged to my aunt's house, where even the toilet seats had "Santa" covers, and a fading twenty-year-old Johnny Mathis Christmas TV special played in an endless loop.Every year, that side of the family insisted that we all "have fun" by playing games.Every year, they dusted off the Trivial Pursuit board.Every year, I won.("How can you NOT know the names of The Beatles?! Again?!")Every year, they pouted, then whispered behind my back that I was "weird."Especially after I pointed out that their quaint "Victorian Christmas" figurines had likely been, in real life, spreading communicable diseases with strange names to vitamin-deficient child prostitutes.In one of her innumerable memoirs, Shirley MacLaine says the trouble with going to therapy is that you go home for the holidays and instantly realize to your horror that no one else in your family has gone to therapy.Or, in my case, read a book. var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'The Only 4 Christmas Movies Ever Made', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/12/27/i-liked-scrooge-better-before-3-christmas-movies-i-hate/ previous Page 1 of 5 next   ]]>
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  • 6 Punches Director Zack Snyder Must Land in Man of Steel
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': '', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); In the 2004 film Finding Neverland, playwright J.M. Barrie is depicted seeding orphaned children throughout the opening-night audience of Peter Pan. He does this to break the ice for the surrounding adults, gambling that the children’s earnest reactions will suspend disbelief in grown-ups.I was reminded of Barrie’s strategy upon watching the teaser trailer for Man of Steel, which was attached to the recent release of The Dark Knight Rises. For those not expecting it, the teaser plays its subject close to the chest. Shots of rural America are interposed with footage of a black-bearded, blue-eyed migrant worker hitching rides between jobs. Visually, all is ordinary, even a bit mundane. Only the voice-over hints at something special about this man. In the version I saw (there are two making the rounds), Kevin Costner speaks of a moral choice ahead and states that this man, his son, will undoubtedly change the world.It is only after that subdued montage, when our interest is piqued regarding how this seemingly ordinary person could change anything, that we get a brief glimpse of something up in the sky, a caped figure propelled without effort, zipping through the clouds at such speed that he leaves behind a sonic boom. Then, we behold the iconic S shield.It was at that moment during my viewing that a young child among the audience gasped and cheered.Superman!I doubt he was a J.M. Barrie plant, but the moment played as he would have intended. The whole audience took that kid’s glee as permission to get excited. After the Dark Knight legend ends, the Man of Steel’s begins.The grounded portrayal evident in the teaser offers hope that this on-screen iteration of Superman will depart significantly from the increasingly cartoonish super-powered soap operas of the past thirty years. Lending credence to that hope is a familiar creative team. Christopher Nolan, who directed the Dark Knight trilogy, is producing Man of Steel. He also came up with the story, which was put to script by Dark Knight scribe David S. Goyer. Direction is provided by Watchman and 300 auteur Zach Snyder.Assuming Nolan can tame Snyder’s often chaotic visual style, it seems likely that Man of Steel will revitalize the Superman mythos for a generation that’s never been properly introduced. Sure, there was Superman Returns a couple years ago, and the adventures of a young Clark Kent in television’s Smallville. But neither of those efforts effectively captured the essence of the character or his world.Those of us with young children today grew up with the films of the late '70s and '80s. For us, Superman was and shall in spirit remain Christopher Reeve. The earnest humanity he brought to Clark Kent was eclipsed only by his steadfast portrayal of Superman.Richard Donnor, director of the 1978 original, famously sought verisimilitude.You will believe a man can fly.So read the teaser poster. And we did believe. The film is still regarded as one of the best in the genre. But it was not without flaws, and things have slid downhill since.Superman II was only partially shot by Donnor. It was finished by and credited to Richard Lester, who added heavy camp reminiscent of super hero parodies like the '60s Batman television series. Though much of Donnor’s verisimilitude endured in the final cut, it was wholly absent from the absurd entries which followed. Reeve remained impeccable as Superman, but could not overcome his increasingly ludicrous surroundings.After Donnor and Reeve, Kent and his alter-ego retreated to the small screen in various iterations until 2006’s Superman Returns. Coming off the success of the X-Men franchise, and in light of vocal reverence for Richard Donnor, it seemed the Superman property was in good hands under director Bryan Singer. Alas, what emerged in theaters was a super disappointment for reasons we shall explore.In order to set things right, and restore Superman’s verisimilitude, there are several things next year’s reboot must do. The fact that Nolan and company are proceeding as though no previous films exist provides an opportunity to recast the godfather of all superheroes in an image long lost. Here are six punches director Zach Snyder must land in Man of Steel. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/7/30/6-punches-director-zach-snyder-must-land-in-man-of-steel/ previous Page 1 of 6 next   ]]>
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  • It Begins: Good Morning America Blames Tea Party for Dark Knight Massacre *Updated*
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle Joel B. Pollak, Editor-In-Chief at Breitbart: The Usual Suspects: ABC's Ross, Stephanolpoulos Point to Tea Party in Dark Knight Shooting:On Good Morning America, ABC News' Brian Ross and George Stephanolpoulos suggested that the Tea Party might be connected to the mass shootings early this morning in an Aurora, CO theater during a screening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. The mainstream media attempted to blame the Tea Party for the Tuscon shootings in January 2011, shortly after Republicans swept the midterm elections. Now, in the critical 2012 elections, the mainstream media seems poised to do the same--and ABC News has led the way.Here is the exchange between reporter Brian Ross and host George Stephanopoulos about apparent suspect James Holmes:Stephanolpoulos: I'm going to go to Brian Ross. You've been investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You found something that might be significant.Ross: There's a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it's Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.Stephanolpoulos: Okay, we'll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much.I'll update as the inevitable scapegoating continues. Links to relevant news stories, tweets, and blog posts in the comments are appreciated.Update 6:50 AM PST: The Belfast Telegraph reports on the president's response to the shooting and the youngest victim:President Obama urged the nation to "come together as one American family".....Some of the injured were children, with the youngest a three-month-old baby. Victims were being treated for chemical exposure apparently related to canisters thrown by the gunman.Local reporter Justin Jones said the gunman was wearing body armour and a gas mask."The attacker shot a baby at point blank range," he said.Another eyewitness, James Cameron, said the baby girl was shot in the back.Update 7:12 AM: ABC news reveals the shooter's mother is not surprised that her son would commit this horrible act:A San Diego woman who identified herself as James Holmes' mother told ABC News she had awoken unaware of the shooting and had not yet been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved."You have the right person," she said, apparently speaking on gut instinct. "I need to call the police... I need to fly out to Colorado."Update 7:18: Mother Jones staff writer Stephanie Mencimer tweets:Update 7:45: In These Times "labor journalist" Mike Elk:Elk then decided to retweet these statements:Elk then expressed his main concerns regarding this tragedy:Update 8:10: Kevin Drum of Mother Jones:Update 8:22: Gawker highlighting disturbing images, allegedly uploaded by one of the victims from the Emergency Room:Update: 8:25: Politico reports that ABC is backing off from the irresponsible Tea Party reporting:An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. Several other local residents with similar names were also contacted via social media by members of the public who mistook them for the suspect.Update: 8:36: Cenk Uygur, "Host of @TheYoungTurks on @Current TV and the largest online news show in the world. @TYTonCurrent," reacts:Update 8:50: David Sirota at Salon has decided to use this tragedy to begin a debate about whether we should use the word "terrorism" to describe acts such as this:For all the legitimate questions that will be asked in the coming days (Why are there so many mass shootings in America? Why is it so easy to buy weapons-grade tear gas canisters? How much is this related to the availability of guns?); for all the insulting media coverage that will try to ramrod the dead Fargo-style into the woodchipper of the presidential campaign (New York Times headline: “In Wake of Colorado Shooting, a Concern Over the Proriety of Campaigining”); and for all the demagogues who will use this tragedy for their own gain (pro-gun GOP Rep. Loui Gohmert is today blaming the shooting victims for not being armed) – there is only one harrowing conclusion we can come to for certain immediately after such a heinous act: terrorism has no specific nationality, geography, race or creed.Not surprisingly, police and reporters have been quick to tell us the opposite — that the suspected shooter was likely just a “lone wolf” and that “this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism,” as ABC News put it. This newspeak is supposed to reassure us that this is anything but terrorism — that terrorism is something that happens only in far away places or huge cosmopolitan cities, not in an Anytown, USA in the American heartland; that terrorism never comes at the hands of a “24-year-old white American male” named “James Holmes,” it only comes at the hands of dark-skinned “evildoers” with hard-to-pronounce names. In this, we are expected to be sedated by such reassurances, and to ignore the ever-growing list of such “lone wolves”, and to reject a much wider definition of terrorism, no matter how much the reality of shooting after shooting after shooting screams at us to accept it.But with bodies strewn across an Aurora movie theater, we must ask: what is terrorism, if it is not a man in a riot mask and bullet-proof vest, armed with tear gas canisters and weapons, meticulously executing a military-style assault on a crowded movie theater?Just because something is "terrifying" it does not mean it's an act of "terrorism." The term "terrorism" refers to violent acts inflicted in order to intimidate a population into submitting to political or cultural revolution. Here's the dictionary definition:ter·ror·ism[ter-uh-riz-uhm]  Show IPAnoun1.the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.2.the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.3.a terroristic method of governing or of resisting agovernment.A mass murderer who wants to "watch the world burn" is not a terrorist like Al Qaeda is and Bill Ayers was. var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'The Dark Knight - Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Burn', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Update 9:27: I've taken the last update with Sirota and highlighted it as its own post here along with an excerpt on the subject of evil from Dennis Prager's new book:Some Men Just Want to Watch the World BurnUpdate: 9:53: From the Huffington Post: Colorado Shooting: What We Know About James Holmes:Lt. Andra Brown of the San Diego Police Department briefed reporters outside James Holmes' mother's home Friday. Brown confirmed Holmes attended high school in San Diego before going to Colorado to pursue additional studies. Brown would not name either school.San Diego media outlets have reported Holmes attended high school at Westview in Carmel Valley. He was also reportedly pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at University of Colorado-Denver. He supposedly enrolled in the fall of 2011, but dropped out in June....Police are still trying to clear the suspect's Aurora apartment. According to police, explosives found inside the unit are "very sophisticated" and could take some time to disarm....The FBI has revealed Holmes is a white male who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 24 years old, with a birth date of Dec. 13, 1987. Authorities have found no significant criminal record and no terrorist affiliations. Investigators suspect he acted alone.A motive in the shooting is not yet known.Update: 10:00: Twitchy collects Tweets from those choosing to blame Rush Limbaugh for inspiring the shooting.Update: 10:08: Twitchy also highlighted comedian D.L. Hughley's response to the massacre:Update: 10:45: From the influential progressive blog Crooked Timber, and promoted in a tweet by Slate writer Matthew Yglesias:One of Yglesias's followers made the argument more openly:A few months ago I blogged through every chapter of Afrolantica Legacies, a book written by Derrick Bell, the founder of Critical Race Theory and one of Barack Obama's intellectual mentors. In part 7 I noted where Bell chose to blame unemployment for inspiring inner city drug dealers to break the law. This is a common way that progressives choose to shift responsibility for evil acts away from individuals and toward "society."11:13 Update: PJ Media's Editor-In-Chief Roger L. Simon at his blog this morning:Time to Curtail Violence in FilmI am not calling for censorship here, nor for gun control laws, but for a modicum of self-censorship on the part of the filmmakers and the film and television industries. They should ask themselves to what end is the violence they are portraying and whether it need be so explicit. Can they make their points as effectively, perhaps more effectively, without the endless splatter and gore?...Hitchcock’s Psycho and Fritz Lang’s M (about a serial killer), scary as they may be, are considerably less explicit than Natural Born Killers and considerably better artistically as well, yet it is Natural Born Killers that is said to have inspired copycat crimes.I blogged about Stone's most recent film Savages two weeks ago here at PJ Lifestyle.One of the copycats inspired by Stone's film was Columbine -- the two killers debated over whether Quentin Tarantino or Steven Spielberg would do a better job making their life story. Instead they got Gus Van Sant with 2003's Elephant, a quiet, very overrated art film that featured a scene where the two shooters kiss before beginning their massacre.Update 11:32: From ABC News: Aurora 'Dark Knight' Suspect James Holmes Said He 'Was the Joker':The man in custody for allegedly killing 12 people at the screening of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado told authorities after the shooting that he "was The Joker," NYPD police commissioner Ray Kelly said today.Kelly told reporters the suspect, identified by federal officials as 24-year-old James Holmes, had dyed his hair like The Joker. The Joker is a well-known villain in the fictional Batman universe. The attack took place at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," the final movie in a Batman trilogy, following "The Dark Knight" in which The Joker was the principal villain.Two federal law enforcement officials confirmed the details of The Joker costume to ABC News. Police said the weapons used in the massacre include a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and two handguns.Update 2:07 PM: I'm continuing the afternoon coverage in a new post here at PJ Lifestyle:What Does Israel’s Prime Minister Have to Do With the Horrific Dark Knight Shooting?***More coverage at PJ Tatler:Rick Moran: Breaking: 14 Dead, 50 Wounded at Batman Premiere Shooting in ColoradoBryan Preston: Bloomberg Pounces, Uses Aurora Tragedy to Push Obama and Romney on Gun RightsBryan Preston: Left, Media Blaming Colorado Shooting on Gun Rights, Tea Party, Rush LimbaughRick Moran: Why Is Brian Ross Still Working for ABC News?Bridget Johnson: Obama Cuts Short Campaign Swing Because of ShootingRick Moran: Colorado Shooter Was Dressed as 'The Joker' class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/7/20/it-begins-good-morning-america-blames-tea-party-for-dark-knight-massacre/ ]]>
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  • What Does Israel's Prime Minister Have to Do With the Horrific Dark Knight Shooting?
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle This morning I provided coverage of the breaking news and commentary for a shooting last night during a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rising that left a dozen people dead.This afternoon will feature further updates of the tragedy and the attempt by some to utilize it for political gain. One example so far -- from David Sirota at Mother Jones trying to label the act "terrorism" -- disturbed enough to warrant its own post here.So far in the progressive responses we've seen attempts to blame the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh for inspiring the shooter. We've also seen calls for gun control.Now MJ Rosenberg takes the discussion in a whole other direction:2:30 Update: Both atheists and Christians have responded to the shooting. Mediate quoted Tom Flynn, head of the Center for Secular Humanism criticizing President Barack Obama for invoking God in his speech today:“Even in a situation like this, [when] he leads a public prayer to a deity that it pretty recognizably the Christian God, much as you can understand the emotional context of it, he’s still sending to some degree a message of exclusion to other religions who don’t call their god “Lord” and to non-religious Americans.”“By the very act of praying, that’s a message of exclusion,” he continued. “If I’m a public official, I think I’m going to look around in the morning and conclude that, ‘hey, this religion thing is just too hot to handle, I should stay away from it in my official capacity.’”And the lead story at the progressive-feminist group blog Jezebel all morning:Here's the tone Erin Gloria Ryan chose for writing about Rep. Louis Gohmert's remarks:Hours after a horrifying armed assault that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured dozens more at a Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert took to the radio airwaves to call the tragedy an "attack on Judeo-Christian beliefs" and surmise aloud what would have happened if only more people in the hazy, dark movie theater would have had guns. Yeah, if only that 3-month-old baby that got shot had a gun and just a liiiittle bit more Christ, none of this would have happened.The remarks came during a radio appearance on The Heritage Foundation's "Istook Live!" and included some other gems like a bizarre ramble about how the Founding Fathers would have been upset about the state of the world today because some Americans aren't all that into religion anymore, and how maybe if more people in the theater had guns, they could have shot blindly into the dark haze and ended the shooting spree, because everyone knows that when you carry a gun, you automatically get night vision. It's like how Peter Parker got bit by a spider and became Spider-Man. And, really, even though God could have prevented this tragedy, God opted not to because God listens to American law enforcement, and Americans were like "Ugh, GOD, just GO AWAY you're ALWAYS EMBARRASSING ME by SHOWING UP TO MOVIE THEATERS."And here's what Gohmert actually said:ISTOOK: We were going to talk about other things but since you are a former judge and you dealt with criminal cases on the bench…. I don’t know if you ever had something that was such a crime that is senseless as we seem to be seeing with this theatre shooting with at least a dozen people killed evidently in Aurora, Colorado.  What? What is your experience, with the way we have so many twisted people in our society?GOHMERT: Well it… some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedoms that it was important … you know… whether it was John Adams saying  that our Constitution was only for people with ‘moral and religious people’ and ‘wholly inadequate to the governments of any others.’ Ben Franklin, ‘Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become more corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters’. I mean it goes on and on… you know… George Washington, ‘of all the disposition and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.’ We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country… and when… you know… what really gets me as a Christian, is  to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo- Christian beliefs and then a senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place.ISTOOK: Now, in this case we don’t know much about the individual. Now, about the suspect all I’ve heard is  is he 24 years old, his name is James Holmes. Obviously, he had hom…GOHMERT: What I am saying…ISTOOK: We don’t know…GOHMERT: Don’t misunderstand my statement … don’t misunderstand. My statement - by saying that it is terror…ISTOOK: Oh, No, I didn’t take it that way.2:54 Update: At Film.Com Elisabeth Rappe worries about the effect of the shooting on "Fan Culture":After Columbine, focus turned on Marilyn Manson, “The Matrix,” video games, and trenchcoats. I lived in the same neighborhood as Columbine High School, and can attest to the paranoia and anger that swirled for months after the event. If you wore a long black coat (and you dared to pair that black coat with boots or sunglasses), you were looked at with fury, silently condemned as someone who celebrated murderers. One felt guilt at enjoying “The Matrix,” even though it was proved to have no inspiration or connection to the teenage gunmen. It didn’t matter. Everyone needed something visual to blame and rage at.The same is about to happen to movie enthusiasts and comic geeks. This is the price of going mainstream. Eventually, the world knocks on the door, and demands to see our “weirdos.” Rumors persist that the accused was in “costume,” which will undoubtedly put a focus on cosplayers. The worst of our culture will be emphasized and we’ll likely see costumes banned at midnight screenings from this point on, regardless of what evidence about the assailant is revealed. Perhaps midnight screenings will end as well. Geeks, their gatherings and their costumes are going to be seen as a powder keg.It may very well be that this man was obsessed with DC Comics, Christopher Nolan and Batman. He may be one of the very people who was sending death threats to critics. He may have been too into Nolan’s world, a sick mind who fancied himself a supervillain, and wanted to make his mark on a piece of pop culture in a louder way than in a comment field. We’ve seen the positive sides of fandom – fan-made posters, trailers, web comics, costumes, charity events – and it’s constantly thriving and shaped by people who want to be a part, on some level, of a property. Where there’s good and honest people who just want to join with others, celebrate and even leave the world better than they found it, there are people who want to hurt, maim, and ruin in the name of obsession.We have to recognize this. We have to be prepared, and we have to be ready to defend the integrity of fandom we’ve all seen and experienced. Again, there may be no direct correlation, but we have to brace ourselves that the claims – which are already being made – could turn out to be true.No, Ms. Rappe, I don't think you'll have to "defend the integrity of fandom" even though we now know he committed the act dressed as the Joker.4:00 Update: Bill Maher weighs in from his blackberry:4:11 Update: Like Rappe at Film.com, Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress also interprets this tragedy through the lens of "fandom":Mostly what I feel is this: Midnight screenings are big, hyped, advertiser-driven events that have become a source of new information to feed the Hollywood data beast, by indicating how motivated audiences are to see a movie. But they’re also a product of genuine enthusiasm and an expression of collective joy. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has meant a lot to an enormous number of filmgoers. And as someone who writes about movies, and who cares about the big, flawed thing we call fandom, I’m saddened by someone turning that shared enthusiasm into a weapon. And even if this tragedy hadn’t happened at the premiere of one of a dwindling number of genuinely mass cultural events, I hate the idea of using an audience’s suspension of disbelief, their openness to and absorption in the spectacle unfolding before them, as cover—the gunman reportedly started shooting during a sequence involving gunfire, meaning the audience was slower to react. We are vulnerable when we go to the movies, open to fear, and love, and disgust, and rapture, surrendering our brains and hearts to someone else’s vision of the world. We don’t expect to surrender our bodies, too.4:19 Update: Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood with Christopher Nolan's statement:Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to  know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.4:32 Update: Nation contributor Max Blumenthal, who now describes himself as a "Desert bloom denier" in his Twitter bio:4:36 Update: Michael Moore:4:48 Update: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship declare at Salon that "The NRA has America living under the gun":Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and perhaps as many as 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence costs our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns than guns.So why do we always act so surprised?  Violence is our alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass as the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.We are a country which began with the forced subjugation into slavery of millions of Africans and the reliance on arms against Native Americans for its westward expansion. In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks – we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.Nonetheless, we have become so gun loving, so gun crazy, so blasé about home-grown violence that far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined. In Arizona last year, just days after the Gabby Giffords shooting, sales of the weapon used in the slaughter – a 9 millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistol – doubled.We are fooling ourselves. Fooling ourselves that the law could allow even an inflamed lunatic to easily acquire murderous weapons and not expect murderous consequences. Fooling ourselves that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of a “well-regulated militia” be construed as a God-given right to purchase and own just about any weapon of destruction you like, a license for murder and mayhem. A great fraud has entered our history.5:12, Last Update of the Day: Chris Kelly, a writer on Real Time with Bill Maher, featured at the Huffington Post:Early this morning, 71 people were shot -- 12 died, one of them six-years-old -- in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. They were killed, apparently, by a rifle and a handgun and the faulty wiring inside the head of an alleged gunman named James Holmes. And our response -- America's response -- is going to be nothing.No. They were not killed by guns and "the faulty wiring inside the head" of James Holmes. They were killed by James Holmes. He is the one who will bear responsibility for his evil acts. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/7/20/what-does-israels-prime-minister-have-to-do-with-the-horrific-dark-knight-shooting/ ]]>
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The Federalist Staff9
The Federalist



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 'The Lego Batman Movie' Fills A Gaping Hole In The Batman Canon
    With the exception of Marvel’s Wolverine, Batman is undoubtedly my favorite superhero: a silent avenger driven by an ironclad code, forced again and again into combat with comics’ best rogues’ gallery. From the campiness of Adam West’s 1966 live-action outing to the R-rated darkness of Grant Morrison’s “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth,” Batman has cycled through story after story, confronting both his own psychosocial demons and the villains that threaten Gotham City. Given all that history  (and particularly after last year’s disastrous “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), you might think there’s not much more to be done with the character. But “The Lego Batman Movie” proved me wrong. This New ‘Batman’ Considers Vigilantism And Rule Of Law This Batman—last glimpsed as a hilarious, hyper-arrogant supporting character in 2014’s “The Lego Movie”— is voiced by Will Arnett (perhaps best known for his turn as Gob in “Arrested Development”) and has a fondness for bad self-referential music. Despite doubling down on the zaniness, this incarnation manages to tap into deep elements of the character that live actors have somehow never fully embraced. “The Lego Batman Movie” kicks off where most Batman films typically end: the Caped Crusader facing off against the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), the Riddler, Catwoman, Two-Face, and everyone else. After a brilliant display of Bat-techno-superiority, the Dark Knight triumphs again, sending his nemeses back to the lockup. But he doesn’t have much time to relax: Commissioner Gordon is on the cusp of retirement, and has planned for his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) to succeed him. To Batman’s chagrin, it turns out that Barbara is something of a criminal justice reformer: after cleaning up neighboring city Blüdhaven with a combination of “compassion and statistics,” she’s set her sights on Gotham. Vigilantism is out; “rule of law” is in. And that’s not all: when he accidentally adopts wide-eyed orphan Robin (Michael Cera, in an inspired bit of voice casting) at a gala event, Batman is abruptly forced to be the father he never had himself. Adult Fans Can (And Will) Enjoy ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ While “The Lego Batman Movie” is certainly an all-ages film, adult fans will probably enjoy it the most. Beneath all the silliness and snark is a thoughtful reflection on the Batman character that fills a gaping hole in his cinematic canon. Batman isn’t an easy superhero to capture in any medium, let alone a computer animation style designed to mimic stop-motion cinematography. Irreducible elements of the character are both freakishly goofy (c’mon guys, he wears a rubber hood with ears and fights a man with a freeze gun) and grimly adult (murdered parents, psychopathic clowns with neurotoxins). I’m personally quite fond of his portrayal in the Arkham video game series, but none of his recent silver-screen outings have adequately balanced all the dynamics in play. As a 2012 article in The Economist put it, “Nolan’s films, as ambitious and intelligent as they may be, aren’t definitive. There’s one element of the Batman mythos that they haven’t cracked, just as Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher lost sight of it during the previous run of Bat-movies. They haven’t captured the character of Batman himself.” How This Batman Film Captures His Character Best “The Lego Batman Movie,” for all its outrageous slapstick, manages to do so. This film hinges on a blindingly simple insight into the character, a truth that previous stories have somehow overlooked or sidestepped: Batman’s need to inspire fear in his enemies emerges from his own internalized fear of tragedy. For Batman, to care about anyone else is to risk losing them—and in that loss, to experience afresh the nightmare of his own parents’ death. Batman’s desire to assume the cowl doesn’t come from pride or rage, but from an impulse to numb his need to love and be loved by others. An early sequence set in Wayne Manor—Batman, eating and watching TV alone in the midst of spectacular opulence, is particularly poignant. Director Chris McKay allows the scene to linger painfully. It doesn’t look so cool to be Batman, you think. It looks really sad and lonely. And for a long moment, you completely forget you’re watching Lego characters. The heavy thematic stuff doesn’t stop there. When Batman is sent to the extradimensional “Phantom Zone” prison, a strange entity forces him to relive his darkest moments to see if he’s really “a villain who belongs there.” As it so happens, Batman’s life is a saga of pushing away those who care about him, embracing an “idealism” that differs little from straight-up narcissism, and recklessly pursuing his own missions of vengeance without much regard for collateral damage. It’s a Dante-esque, uncannily sobering sequence that resembles nothing so much as a blocky vision of purgatory. The Film Captures An Important Truth About Love Happily, by the end of the film, Batman has learned a lesson that’s been only murkily expressed in other media: love requires risk, but it’s worth pursuing nevertheless, and keeping love at arm’s length leads only to emptiness and self-consuming destruction. In any context but this, the film’s underlying message (“everyone works better together as a team!”) would feel impossibly twee: given the Batman underpinnings, though, it plays brilliantly. Thought-provoking as the movie may be, it’s worth mentioning that things aren’t entirely seamless. The third act of “The Lego Batman Movie” sags a bit, particularly in comparison to its predecessor (alas, here there’s no meta-commentary about humans and Legos). And while the climax is clearly a riff on the “giant monster-spawning sky hole in space-time” trope, at times it’s played a little too straight—though it’s pretty funny to see the range of non-Batman villains Warner Brothers pulls in from its other cinematic properties. But these gripes are minor: by and large, “The Lego Batman Movie” fires on all cylinders. In McKay’s capable hands, the film captures not only everything that made Batman such a great part of “The Lego Movie,” but everything that’s made him such an iconic character in the first place. Lay aside any inhibitions you might’ve had about seeing the Dark Knight storm the screen in Lego form. This “Batman” is one of the character’s best outings yet. ]]>
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  • What Ben Affleck And Jennifer Garner's Divorce Says About Our Own Love Lives
    2015 was a year for Hollywood romance gone awry. One of the biggest, most surprising splits of the year was the demise of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s ten-year marriage. Now, months later, while technically divorced they are raising three kids together. Recently the two talked to separate publications about upcoming films and, of course, each other. What Garner and Affleck said and didn’t say revealed as much about the differences between men and women as it did about their starring roles in two very different films. He Said, She Said At first glance, the New York Times article about Affleck and the upcoming “Batman” he directs and stars in seems like a normal profile. We learn Affleck delayed the interview (due to a migraine) and that while he’s open to discuss his character and the making of the film he’s—surprise!—more pensive about his relationship with Garner. During the interview, or at least what made it into print, Affleck mentions Garner just a couple times. When commenting on her personally, he says simply, “Jen’s great.” Contrast this with Garner’s interview with Vanity Fair, wherein she discussed her movie but also her relationship with Affleck in a far more significant manner. Entertainment News called it a “tell-all,” and indeed she gushed about what it felt like when she first fell in love with him—she “ran down the beach to him” on their wedding day. You can’t have these three babies and so much of what we had. He’s the love of my life. What am I going to do about that? He’s the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous. He’s just a complicated guy. I always say, ‘When his sun shines on you, you feel it.’ But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow. Garner spoke at length about how much she worked at her marriage and how important the institution is to her. Still, at the conclusion of the piece, she manages a bit of a light-hearted jab at her ex-husband regarding the new tattoo that takes up his entire back, a Phoenix rising from the ashes: “You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart.’…Am I the ashes in this scenario? I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.” Men Are from Gotham, Women Are from NYC Granted, the publications that featured these interviews have a different focus and Affleck has arguably had the bigger Hollywood career, so it makes sense the NYT profile would focus on the upcoming film he’s promoting. But that aside, the two interviews reveal the unique ways men and women cope with and discuss conflict—in this case, their heartbreaking divorce. The two interviews reveal the unique ways men and women cope with and discuss conflict—in this case, their heartbreaking divorce. Referring to Garner’s interview with Vanity Fair, Affleck said, “She felt like she wanted to discuss it and get it out there and get it over with, so she could say, ‘Look, I already talked about it — I don’t want to do it again,’ It’s fine. She’s allowed to talk about it.” Affleck might have his share of the burden to carry for the couple’s divorce, but he seems to understand a woman’s need to vent, however strange, even tacky it can sometimes seem. In an e-mail, relationship expert April Masini told me this is normal: “Women tend to expound on relationships and they want to feel good about where they are in them.” By contrast, while it seemed strange (to me) that Affleck only said a couple things about Garner, this too is normal for men. Masini says, “Men don’t want to expound on [relationships], and they’d rather talk about sports or politics, which are more removed from their emotional cores….Ben’s response is indicative of this tendency men have to veer far away from any relationship talk.” (Women around the world sigh.) Man Vs. Woman Conflict Resolution People have, of course, been wringing their hands since the dawn of time—okay, just women have—over the differences between men and women. As Shakespeare said, “You will never find a woman without a ready answer.” Especially during conflict, it’s natural for women to pursue relational harmony, to want to discuss the issue until it is resolved or vent in the meantime or afterwards. A lot of men resolve conflict by allowing for or pursuing space first. A lot of men, on the other hand, resolve conflict by allowing for or pursuing space first. They then seek resolution and usually facilitate it much faster than women. In the case of a divorce or breakup, they typically “vent” and cope, also, but in entirely different ways, such as focusing on work, or perhaps even a new relationship. Since women tend to be much more relationally driven, they sometimes take their need for harmony too far, and ignore their man’s need for emotional space. Masini says women often write her wanting to have “the talk” with their men. “I always try to talk them down by explaining that guys hate ‘the talk’ about the relationship status. They’d rather have root canal without anesthesia.” We All Need to Process, and We Do It Differently As frustrating as this can be for women—heck, I found myself wanting Affleck to say more about his broken heart and marriage than “Jen’s great”—it’s an innate trait in many men that proves itself to be valuable. No offense to feminists, but if men went around fixing relationships all day, what would they accomplish vocationally? (Of course resolution should be reached in a reasonable time frame.) There’s a time to praise and wax eloquent, and there’s a time to let bygones be bygones. This isn’t to say women don’t work or that a man’s work is more valuable, but men are especially hard-wired to provide and perform while women manage those duties in different ways, particularly via nurturing. Space post-conflict allows for these two unique but characteristic traits to complement each other naturally, in time. This also teaches women a valuable thing or two about patience, timing, and her place in his life. In essence, while he might be the king and she the queen, his sun does not revolve around her every emotional stirring, and he’s not going to behave in conflict the way she does. If that sounds harsh, imagine if he did? A houseful of emotions raging like the sea during a tsunami. If he’s the anchor, her emotions can stir and vary and she still has a safe emotional place to return. That said, Garner’s “tell-all” and Affleck’s positive response to it shows there’s a time to vent, and there’s a time to focus on work. There’s a time to praise and wax eloquent, and there’s a time to let bygones be bygones. As Masini said, “This isn’t news. It happens all the time. But when it happens to celebrities, it makes the front pages of publications and websites because it’s something we can all relate to — only it’s happening to people with more resources, better clothes and houses and glam squads. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help heal the heart. Time and processing does.” ]]>
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  • 10 Best Batman Films To Honor The Ten-Year Anniversary Of ‘The Dark Knight’
    Batman is bigger than any one film or comic. He’s a myth that looms large over our culture, casting a wide and long shadow.
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  • Hijacking A Mass Murder To Boost Self-Esteem
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    When it comes to portraying crabby, slightly crazed, or hyper testosterone-leveled men, Jack Nicholson is an absolute genius. Think of Jack “Johnny” Torrance in “The Shining,” Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in “A Few Good Men,” or the red-lipped, wide-mouthed, cabaret-style Joker in Tim Burton’s “Batman.” Among these over-the-top characters, a sleeper favorite might be the role that won Nicholson an Oscar in 1997: Melvin Udall, the misanthropic, cranky, best-selling novelist in “As Good As It Gets.” One scene from the movie involves Melvin, in full rotten crabapple mode, getting cornered by an overenthusiastic receptionist who loves his books. “How do you write women so well?” she gushes, eyes wide and dewy. “I think of a man,” Melvin replies, his tone flat, “and I take away reason and accountability.” While somewhat amusing, Melvin’s sentiments are certainly not very nice. Unfortunately, were he a real person, and if he spent significant time on the Internet, his bias might have been confirmed this weekend, when feminist Twitter activists misspent at least three days hijacking a mass murder to boost their self-esteem. On Friday, tragic news broke out of Isla Vista, California: a crazed Santa Barbara City College student, despairing of his lack of success with the ladies—“Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men but never to me”—apparently decided to go on a shooting spree. He allegedly ended up stabbing his three roommates (all men), shooting two young women outside of a sorority house, and killing another young man in a convenience store before shooting himself in his shiny black BMW coupe. (The accused killer’s father, it has been reported, was an assistant director of the first “Hunger Games” film.) And that’s when an odd thing happened. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “hours after a shooting rampage in this coastal college town that the alleged gunman said was ‘retribution’ against women who’d rejected him, a woman launched a conversation on Twitter about what it’s like to feel vulnerable to violence. ‘As soon as I reached my teens, I didn’t feel comfortable being outside in the evening on my own street,’ the woman wrote in one of her first posts under a Twitter hashtag called #YesAllWomen.” #YesAllWomen immediately caught fire. Hundreds of thousands of tweets later, the hashtag emerged as the top trend on Twitter, dominating the Memorial Day weekend.  Women from all over the world joined in. “It’s probably one of the most important tags on Twitter yet,” declared Cosmopolitan; on Sunday, Vox.com called it “the most important thing you’ll read today.” Over at the Atlantic, one article declared the #YesAllWomen movement a “sobering reminder of how commonly [women’s] full personhood is denied.” Time, NBC News, and the Los Angeles Times all took approving note. Some of the #YesAllWomen tweets offer harrowing tales of sexual assault. The vast majority, however, seem, well, less than empirical: “I know that not all men threaten women, but that all women have been threatened by men.” (Really? How do you know?) “Imagine the creative energy we would release if half of humanity didn’t have to devote so much time in fear of the other half.” (Yes! Then they could spend more time writing things on Twitter.) “I’ve spent 19 years teaching my daughter how not to be raped. How long have you spent teaching your son not to rape?” (Quick answer—so far, on three sons, I’ve spent about zero seconds. But they’re all under six, so I figure they don’t turn into rampaging, predatory, inhuman monsters until they’re about 12 or 13.) Don’t worry, it gets much more ridiculous. Other #YesAllWomen complaints—and please, keep in mind that this is in response to a killing spree—include the following: “Here’s to never hearing a dude tell a woman to ‘smile’ ever again”; “If I don’t feign an interest in what the too-friendly grocery clerk is telling me, everyone in line will judge me”; and, my personal favorite: “When I asked for Happy Meal and didn’t specify a gender, they gave me ‘boy’ toys. Male is the default.” As far as I can tell, that last one was not a joke, but I did laugh out loud. Lest you think I’m cherry picking, check out the thread yourself. The tweets I’ve selected are pretty much representative. There are a few awful tales of abuse, stalking, or rape, but the vast majority of tweeters basically complain about obnoxious bosses, horrible boyfriends that no person in their right mind should go out with in the first place, or some random dude wolf-whistling at them on their way into their entry-level analyst job at Goldman Sachs. In fact, if your only experience with feminism was the #YesAllWomen Twitter extravaganza, you might become convinced that the greatest concern of America’s female population is the right to be studiously ignored while wearing hot pink pleather hot pants to that entry-level analyst job at Goldman Sachs. (And, actually, not to be mean, but given their estimation skills, I get the feeling that most of the #YesAllWomen tweeters are not that good at math, so maybe employment at Goldman Sachs is a bit of a stretch.) Let’s make no mistake—sexual assault is a serious problem. The sad reality is that women have to take more safety precautions than men. But #YesAllWomen, when it comes down to it, isn’t even remotely about sexual assault. It’s not about feminism or empowerment, or practical solutions to crime (like, say, concealed carry laws), and it certainly has nothing to do with a deranged college student killing six people. It’s about taking a tragedy and turning it into “I Want To Talk About Me.” In fact, #YesAllWomen might end up being the most narcissistic event of 2014, which is saying something, given that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West just got married. Why, in our age of unprecedented plenty—and, at least in America, unprecedented power for women—is victimhood so appealing to so many? When complete strangers were murdered on the West Coast, why do hundreds of thousands of people, healthy in body if not in mind, enthusiastically latch on, insisting that they were victims too? For certain people, the Internet offers a compelling, powerful alternate universe in which to dwell. Press reports describe the accused murderer as living in a lonely world of YouTube videos, video games, and twisted representations of reality. In his mind, everything—every loss, every perceived failure, every tiny personal slight, real or imagined—was blown out of proportion. Everything was taken personally. Everything, in the end, was all about him and his imagined victimhood. Scarily, many of the posters on #YesAllWomen, to varying degrees, seem to share the same problem. For all of his hatred of women, the crazed, lonely murderer and the impassioned “feminist” Twitter activists might have something in common after all. Yikes, ladies. Yikes. Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin, TX. Sign up to receive her columns atwww.heatherwilhelm.com. ]]>
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  • ‘Logan’ Offers Viewers A World Of Meaningless Despair
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The film proffers a bleak, hopeless world in which the only hero to be found—Wolverine—embraces endless violence, and cannot offer redemption.
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  • Why Marvel Doesn't Want You To Watch X-Men
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    As summer blockbuster season ramps up, Hollywood studios foist loud, CGI-choked productions onto the marketplace. Twentieth Century Fox enters the fray this weekend with its latest attempt to rejuvenate its comic-book property, “X-Men: Apocalypse.” All the usual elements are in play, from a widescreen rollout to carpet-bombing ad campaigns and extensive cross-promotion licensing. Hanes, for example, is offering X-men-themed adult foundation garments—in case you desire to have a mutant in your pants. Despite this onslaught, the marketing blitz is somewhat blunted, because the business entity that created and owns most of the rights to the original property is not playing along. Marvel is not just sitting on the sidelines for this particular release. Over the past year, the corporate comic titan’s involvement has ranged from apathy to hostility to outright refusal to acknowledge the existence of some members of its stable of characters. Over the past decade, Marvel Studios (and its takeover parent company, Disney) have been incapable of delivering a failed movie product. This has actually led to a bit of rancor. These studios now look forlornly at other comic entities over which they have no cinematic control. When eyeing the X-Men and Fantastic Four property rights that lie with Fox, the Marvel-Disney team sees lost profits, and that creates professional contempt. Marvel is not only not assisting in the cinematic development of its own characters. The company has gone to the length of devaluing those heroic teams in other platforms. Comic Book Character Assasination The latest contretemps have been stewing for some time, but there is only one source to blame. The whole reason Marvel does not possess the film rights to characters it created in the 1960s is decisions from Marvel itself. The past 20 years has seen Marvel blessed by the superpower of the golden box-office touch. This has built up the company to where Disney acquired it to the tune of billions of dollars. But there is a darker fiscal backstory. As Marvel Studios rides a string of heroically successful movie titles, its chief competitor, DC Comics, has struggled in the same arena. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise and the recent “Superman v Batman” are exceptions, as DC has struggled getting its stable of characters translated onto screen. DC has failed to ignite another franchise, while setting up likely box-office bombs involving Green Lantern, Catwoman, and Jonah Hex. It may be hard to imagine, but back in the 1980s and 1990s that script was flipped. DC Comics saw repeated success with Superman and Batman franchises. Marvel was flailing financially and took an altogether different approach. It shopped various superhero characters to numerous studios hoping that any films released or TV productions developed would boost Marvel properties in other platforms, such as book sales and licensed products. During this era Marvel hung a price tag on most of its hero creations. This is how an entity like Spider Man came to be owned by Sony Entertainment, and how Fox obtained film rights to the X-Men. After a bout of bankruptcy in the 1990s, the new era of superhero films saw Marvel’s fortunes reverse. The downside was many cash-cow characters had been auctioned off with open-ended agreements. In the case of Fox, as long as the studio produced films it would retain the rights to those characters. This means these days Marvel seethes over its own characters it cannot develop as it watches a rival fumble the premise just as often as it succeeds. In response, Marvel has resorted to marketing sabotage of its own characters. They Who Shall Not Be Named Last summer XM Studio Collectibles was revealing a new line of collectible superhero products. Not mere action figures, these were highly detailed character statuary and dioramas, based on scenes from iconic comic book releases. Following the announcement, just days after showing off a number of whips (unfinished prototypes) to the public, the company made a stark announcement: Folks, it’s been a sad day for us… due to reasons we aren’t at liberty to disclose, we have been asked to put a hard stop to all X-Men characters for now. Still, we continue to have faith that this isn’t an indefinite red light forever and you can have our promise we will be back to producing these dream pieces once the coast is clear – no matter how long it takes! No Fantastic 4 too . . . same reason. Disclosure is not required. Marvel did not pull its entire licensing agreement with XM Studio, it axed the production of specific characters. It’s no coincidence those same characters are governed by Fox, right? This is not the first instance of the comics corporation working to make their characters unavailable, hoping they become as unseen as the character Cipher. Whether in its own realm or with production partnerships, the X-Men are becoming harder to find. Further, the Fantastic Four has seen its comic production brought to an end. Marvel is willing to cut off its Thing to spite Fox. The elimination of a figurehead brand from the comics division is not the only step taken. Another move noted by fans was the Marvel 75th anniversary magazine cover, which displayed most of the company’s flagship characters—save for the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. More extensive still, on the Marvel items featuring those teams are no longer offered for sale. Marketing second-party partners are also under the gag order. Mondo, creator of character posters, has been commanded to stop producing certain prints, and Diamond Select Toys has been told to discontinue productions on X-Men action figures. For a hilarious example of how extensively Marvel takes this desire to turn its mutants into pariahs, a T-shirt company replicating one Marvel cover has been scrubbed. In the printing of a Secret Wars No. 8 book cover onto cotton, we see the X-men and Fantastic Four expunged, with even the title stamp altered to show Matt Murdoch (Daredevil), a character not appearing at all in that storyline. Some in the Marvel offices have expected Fox may tire of producing expensive franchise endeavors that lead to modest profits. After years of rushing scripts before the cameras for the sole purpose of retaining rights, Marvel hoped Fox would let the rights lapse, as had happened with Universal and The Hulk. This anticipated reverting was stoked by the blatant failure of last fall’s attempted reboot of “The Fantastic Four,” a franchise that had also produced moribund results. While that may still happen, the two studios are surely at a stalemate regarding the other supergroup. The X-Men franchise has not only had a better success rate, it recently was given a mega-dose of adrenaline. The release of “Deadpool,” an X-Men spinoff character, shattered numerous box office records this past February. To call it lucrative is understatement, as it out-grossed almost every other X-Men title after only one week. That success indicates X-Men will not be leaving Fox anytime in the near future. The irony is this may lead to X-Men staying away from Marvel in more ways in the coming years. ]]>
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  • 'Logan' Offers Viewers A World Of Meaningless Despair
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
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  • RIP: The Hollywood Summer Blockbuster, 1970-2012
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Hollywood has had a dismal summer. The bad news started coming out in late July, but there were a few still-to-come movies with promise of softening the stats. Alas, they did not. Jim and I took the kids to see one of those flicks on opening Friday night. (Does it matter which one? I hardly remember it.) Jim got tickets online early, in case our preferred 7 o’clock-hour show sold out, and we arrived early to get good seats. We needn’t have bothered. If our foursome made three dozen in the theater, I’d be surprised. I doubt few besides Hollywood are surprised by the Hollywood bummer summer. Last May, the Wall Street Journal published an unintentionally prophetic article that concluded: The tidal wave of expensive movies this year is part of a year’s long shift by studios to put more resources into ‘event’ films that perform best with diverse audiences around the world. Foreign moviegoers accounted for 69% of box office last year. Summer was originally viewed as the best time to open big-budget films because schools are out, but now as studios try to boost ticket sales, would-be ‘summer blockbusters’ arrive weeks before Memorial Day. There are also idiosyncratic reasons for this summer’s busier slate. In 2012, Warner Bros.’ ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ and Paramount’s ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation,’ both scheduled to come out in June, were delayed to March 2013. This year, ‘The Great Gatsby’ (Warner Bros.), ‘World War Z,’ and ‘Elysium’ (Sony Pictures) were pushed back to May, June and August, respectively. Despite the risks, Hollywood is hoping more films will generate good news all around. Research has shown the more frequently people go to the multiplex, the more likely they’ll return. ‘Moviegoing is a habit,’ said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., whose ‘Turbo’ comes out in July. ‘When people see good movies, they like to see more good movies.’ Readers might note that none of the mentioned movies performed well. Shifting the release dates around to get more foreign buzz obviously didn’t help—because it’s not the dates or the event nature of movie-going. Besides, that whole “event film” idea is a fudge. Movie-going hasn’t been an event for decades. From a report on Hollywood’s misadventures in movie measurement: Hollywood gave up counting the success of movies based on ticket sales a long time ago, because the numbers were an embarrassment. In 1946, the number of movie tickets sold was three times larger than it is today despite the fact that the population has doubled and added two additional states. Katzenberg was right, though: people do want to see more good movies when they see a good movie. The problem is that Hollywood has no idea what a good movie is anymore. Hollywood simply assumes it is producing good movies. They have missed that for a while now. We’ve been going to the movies merely hoping to see a good one. Lately, we’ve just given up hope. ‘The Avengers’: The Last Blockbuster If Hollywood wants us back in the theaters for blockbuster summers, they might want to study the last blockbuster. There are only four adjusted-for-inflation-but-not-astronomical-ticket-costs blockbusters on the top 100 list since that WSJ article. Two “Hunger Games” installments at Nos. 93 and 94, “The Dark Knight Rises” at No. 63, and “The Avengers” at No. 27. If we adjust for ticket cost, “The Hunger Games” wouldn’t make the list. “The Dark Knight Rises” might—adjusting for effect of ticket cost and inflation requires some assumptions. “The Avengers” is the last blockbuster. We don’t care if the story is literal; we care if it is true. I prefer “Batman,” but I was never a Marvel junkie, and I like the law and justice themes in “Batman.” That said, I loved “The Avengers.” I hadn’t heard that much laughter in a movie, even a comedy, in years. Joss Whedon managed to weave together half a dozen story lines in a not only coherent, but also dynamic story loaded with humor. He had story fluency, which is essential since Hollywood is out of ideas and relying almost exclusively on book or comic-book-to-movie adaptions or remakes. If you are writing your own story, obviously you can choose all characters, and setting rules. If you are writing fan fiction (and Whedon’s “Avengers” and all adaptions are essentially professional fan fiction), then you are limited by the setting and characters already provided. Remember the scene in “Inglorious Basterds” in which the characters are having drinks in a bar? One guy is an English spy who gives himself away by the way he asks for three more pints; he uses the English gesture, which tips the Germans off that he is a spy. When Hollywood hires mere technical skill to foster an adaption, the fans all notice the wrong gestures. These talented directors and screenwriters usually assume they weren’t literal-enough in their adaption. But, tip from a longtime fangirl: We don’t care if the story is literal; we care if it is true. Whedon is a Marvel fan. He grew up on this stuff. He got his job when they came to him for advice on the story they had at the time. They liked his ‘I would have gone in this direction’ ideas so much that they hired him to write the movie. Add the care and skill Whedon had honed over many years of hits and misses, and he successfully joined all of the elements into a cohesive and artistic whole. Writers No Longer Believe in Human Nature Compare “The Avengers” against the terrible “Twilight” movies, where the screenplays were penned by a woman who has difficulty comprehending the ideals of the hero and heroine; the lukewarm fan reception to “Prince Caspian,” which was penned and directed by professionals worried about the story’s religious basis (at least they learned the lesson for “Dawn Treader,” but then it was just to literally transpose Lewis’s dialogue to screen); or the inexplicable omission in “Order of the Phoenix” of perhaps the central theme of the Harry Potter stories. All were successes, but they fell off in successive weekends due to bad or lukewarm buzz because they got the story wrong. “Superman,” the latest “Star Trek” installment, “Ender’s Game”—is there a franchise in which the movie adaption got the story right? If the author strays too far from the archetype, then his character loses the power to propel the story forward. Authors, screenwriters, and Hollywood powers that be, they don’t understand stories anymore. They’ve forgotten how to write them. They often start with a good premise, but then bend the story to be relevant to what they suppose a modern audience wants or to tell a modern morality tale as they believe morality to be. They’ve forgotten how to write characters, as well. Myth stories are powerful because they use archetypes: the hero, the rebel, the rogue with a heart of gold. These reflect elements of human nature. If the author strays too far from the archetype, then his character loses the power to propel the story forward. Interviews with good writers often refer to the author having one plan for the character and the character having another. Good authors let the character win. But in Hollywood, the characters bend. The liberalism of Hollywood provides another layer on all this bad storytelling. Liberals don’t merely dislike conservatives, they don’t understand them. Little wonder, then, that conservatives have grown almost numb to Hollywood presenting crude caricatures of us and absurd simplifications of conservative thought. One cannot write what one doesn’t understand. And audiences don’t want to pay for insults. Hollywood needs to start hiring writing and directing talent who actually understand and love the stories placed in their care. Skilled direction and a formula for action and special effects won’t get the job done. A good story can cover for poor direction, but flawless direction cannot salvage a poor story. Hollywood needs to start hiring writing and directing talent who actually understand—and dare I hope, love—the stories placed in their care. Then we might see a movie revival. It’s not coming anytime soon, based on the previews from the summer movies most of us didn’t see. The preview that quickly caught my attention was for a TV show that I can’t believe got through production. Anyone heard of “Black-ish”? Think “Undercover Brother” made for TV. The most notable movie previews were for “The Judge,” which I will go see, and “Mordecai,” for which I will just note the release date so I can look for the reviews from the United Kingdom. From the preview, it looks like a movie with American actors, including Gwyneth Paltrow, pretending to be Brits and mocking the British upper class. Yeah, that will go over well. ]]>
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The Weekly Substandard Podcast2
The Weekly Standard



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The Substandard Ranks the Batmen
    In this latest micro episode, the Substandard reflects on the passing of Adam West and ranks the Batmen from best to worst. Sonny and Vic embrace West's campy take on the Caped Crusader. Jonathan has a slightly different take. Pow! Bam! Zap! All on the latest Substandard! This podcast can be downloaded here . Subscribe to the Substandard on iTunes or on Google Play .
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  • The Substandard Ranks the Batmen

    In this latest micro episode, the Substandard reflects on the passing of Adam West and ranks the Batmen from best to worst. Sonny and Vic embrace West’s campy take on the Caped Crusader. Jonathan has a slightly different take. Pow! Bam! Zap! All on the latest Substandard!

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Millennial Woes1
Scandza Forum



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻


  • My Entire DVD Collection [multi-parter] | Batman | 2:02:59 | 👎
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The Flyby Podcast1
The Binge



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 6/19/19 - Batman Turns 30
    Cranky T-Rex and Sarjex take a look back at 30 years of Tim Burton's Batman, review The 100 Season 6 Episode 7 "Nevermind" and Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 5 "The Other Thing", and talk about the re-release of Avengers: Endgame.
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Christian Toto2
Hollywood In Toto



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Sorry Fanboys, You’re Wrong About Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    hulk 2003 review fanboys

    “Because he is unique, the world will not tolerate his existence.”

    – David Banner (Nick Nolte) describing his Gamma ray-infused son, Bruce … and Ang Lee’s “Hulk” overall.

    The 2003

    The post Sorry Fanboys, You’re Wrong About Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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  • ‘Dumbo’ Delivers Spectacle, Dumbed Down Humans
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    DUMBO-review danny devito

    Director Tim Burton always delivers a feast for the senses.

    Burton’s palette, from the dark purple depths of “Batman” to the gothic “Dark Shadows,” shows he has few visual peers.

    The post ‘Dumbo’ Delivers Spectacle, Dumbed Down Humans appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Amerika.org Staff1
Amerika.org



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The search for wholeness in society, personality, and romance (Mark Wegierski)
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    The search for wholeness in society, personality, and romance (Mark Wegierski)

    by Enda Miller on August 11, 1970

    The search for wholeness in society, personality, and romance

    By Mark Wegierski

     

    The critique of contemporary dualism is an important aspect of the over-all critique of late-modern, Western society. One of the facets of this critique is pointing out the fact of the triumph, on the one hand, of excessive rationality (as in the economic and technological spheres), and, on the other, of excessive irrationality (for example, in terms of certain elements of personal lifestyle, in the extremal aspects of some contemporary popular music, and in the burgeoning acceptance of various “occult” beliefs). Both these trends seem to increasingly expand at the expense of what was once the rooted ideational centre of the society. (This distinction is similar to Daniel Bell’s perception of a rational, economic sphere of society, which is at odds with the antinomian, cultural sphere, as described in his book on “post-industrial” society, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism). It is also reflected in one of the catchwords of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: “adults at work; infants at play”.

    Another interesting aspect of this critique is to look at the increasing incidence of the disappearance of a properly-balanced psychological identity among men, vis-à-vis sexual relations with women. On the one hand, one sees the ravenous, hypersexual “stud”; and, on the other, the cerebral and introverted “square” or “geek”. What was once the basic traditional male identity in this regard (which might be loosely described as “the hero or knight-errant questing for his lady” — or the ideal-type of the “gentleman”) has come under the fire of both radical feminists and “sex-educators”, who seek to disenchant traditional gender identities and relations. The balance of strength and sensitivity seems to have split (or been forced to split) into these two oppositions.

    Ironically, the spirit of romance and of the masterful male is often maintained today — if in a highly derogated fashion — in much of standard, heterosexual-male-oriented pornography. It might even be argued that the impetus of male desire towards increasing extremity in such pornography, is largely in reaction to the emerging society-wide triumph of a neopuritanical feminism, which basically seeks to abolish those dangerous, masterful aspects of men. A more critical view of this phenomenon would see it as part of the over-all, heightened sexual obsession of society — for example, in rock music, television, video, advertising, and film, as well as in that peculiar North American combination of softcore sex and hardcore violence, typified by the so-called “teen slasher-flicks” — which is a social excess existing in parallel to that of the antisexual (or antiheterosexual) type of radical feminism, both of which feed off of each other at the expense of the rooted ideational centre.

    The emerging problem in male-female relationships, for most young women, is that the “stud” is exciting but often too cruel; the “geek”, decent enough but unexciting. Two popular movies which showed “masterful” men with a sadistic streak were Nine-and-a-Half Weeks (with Mickey Rourke) and Wall Street (with Michael Douglas). The phenomena of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatrical-operatic interpretation of The Phantom of the Opera; Tim Burton’s Batman epics; The Beauty and the Beast television series; as well as the good knight dressed in black in Ladyhawke (who fights an evil, heretical bishop dressed in white) could be explained psychologically as representing some of the attempts for “the whole man” to re-emerge, in a world dominated by various contemporary correctitudes.

    In a similar but somewhat less-positive vein, there is as well today the emerging popular obsession with male as well as female vampire-figures, typified by the Anne Rice novels (and many other works in this subgenre), Francis Ford Coppola’s rendering of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with its motif, “Love Never Dies” (which is only one of several recent movies on a similar theme), as well as the television series Forever Knight, which portrays the half-shaded, twilight figure of a “vampire-cop”. There has also appeared a major network television series, Vampire: The Masquerade, which had much romance and mystique, but little horror. Indeed, vampire romances are now a recognized pulp subgenre.

    It may be argued that female psychological identity itself (vis-à-vis sexual relations with men) seems to have fragmented into at least three different aspects (although some of these divides were present, to some extent, in many traditional societies) — the faithful but unexciting wife or companion (or nice but not very sexual friend); the sexual temptress; and the completely independent woman. The synthesis of the positive elements of all three of these aspects seems to occur ever-more infrequently. The latter two aspects do arguably appear as united in a character such as that played by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct (who, like the two quasisadistic male figures mentioned above, veered towards the psychologically problematic); or by Michelle Pfeiffer as “Catwoman” in Batman Returns; as well as by the pop-idol Madonna (who is similarly tinged). But it might also be pointed out that many of these very sexual women often fail to achieve (in the real world) what should be remembered is the natural result of sexual relations between men and women. They are thus sexual but not fecund.

    An interesting phenomenon is that typified in many young adult females, who tend towards incredibly intense obsessions with idealized “teen idols”, who are very sexual figures to them, but where actual sex, in the vast majority of cases, can never take place. The more average men who are sexually available often become perceived as either too rough or too weak, and generally inadequate. There are clearly a large number of areas today where the critique of excessive opposing extremity, as in personal psychology, social issues, politics, and culture, can be highly instructive.

    Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher, published in Alberta Report, American Enterprise, American Outlook, Books in Canada, Calgary Herald, New Brunswick Reader, Review of Metaphysics, Telos, and The World & I, among others. An article of his about Canada was reprinted in Annual Editions: World Politics, 1998-99 (Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 1998).

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Kyle Smith1
National Review



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Do Female Film Critics Need a Safe Space?
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Some media women cry foul as male critics find fault with Captain Marvel.
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The Weekly Standard Staff2
The Weekly Standard



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Justice League Is Crashing and Burning. Will Anyone Survive?
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    JONATHAN V. LAST

    One of the rituals of Thanksgiving weekend is heading out to see a movie. And so, with that in mind, let me do you a mitzvah: Do not see Justice League.

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The American Conservative Staff5
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Jar Jar, The Ruin Of A Universe
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Culture So, I’ve just watched the 30 Rock finale, which was not so great, but Tina Fey and her crew gave me so much pleasure, and so many laughs, over the past seven years that I begrudge them nothing. What a great show that was. The subject of the moment comes courtesy of Noah Millman, who comments on Ross Douthat’s analysis of the Star Wars universe, and the upcoming movies to be directed by J.J. Abrams. Ross makes a case for why Ben Affleck would have been a better director for the new Star Wars movies. It is impossible to get me to care less about a film project than these new Star Wars movies. In a passage that makes an excellent point about the difficulties facing the new director, Douthat brings to mind why I can’t imagine caring: But fans of the original “Star Wars” trilogy should realize that the director of the next installment faces a bigger challenge than just serving as a capable custodian of a popular franchise, or enlivening a stale formula with some lens flares and sex appeal. That’s because the next movie will be released in the shadow of the epic, franchise-altering disaster of George Lucas’s prequels — a case, rare in the annals of pop culture, where a beloved story was ruthlessly and comprehensively torched, not by hackish studios chasing easy money, but by the very man who created it in the first place. Thanks to Lucas, half of the official Star Wars story is unsalvageable dreck — but it’s canonical dreck, which means it can’t simply be shunted into an alternative timeline in the style of Abrams’ “Star Trek,” or dropped down the memory hole the way say, Joel Schumacher’s “Batman” movies were when Christopher Nolan set about making “Batman Begins.” Instead, the prequels have to be somehow formally accepted as part of the “Star Wars” story and artistically repudiated at the same time. That’s a much harder task than making a “Star Wars” sequel would have been back in 1995, before Lucas took a flamethrower to his legacy. And I can’t help thinking it might have been easier for a director who came to the project free of fanboy baggage, and who could cast a more dispassionate eye on a pop cultural mythology that too many people (myself included, before I was introduced to Jar Jar Binks) invested with far more significance than its creator’s talents could ultimately bear. I remember the theater where I saw The Phantom Menace, and how it felt to be introduced to Jar Jar Binks. I recall thinking, “This can’t be for real. This character couldn’t possibly exist. How did this happen?” And so on. It must have been what taking the first sip of New Coke was like, back in the day. I honestly don’t remember the movie, except for Jar Jar, who was such a colossal steaming turd pile that it ruined everything from that point on. I quit caring about Star Wars after that movie, though I tried to watch the Clone Wars a couple of times, because my kids wanted me to, but it was garbage. I couldn’t tell you if Revenge Of The Sith was any good, because really, who cares? And I say this as someone who was 10 years old when Star Wars came out, and who remembers every single thing about seeing it for the first time. It was a religious experience. The rest of the summer, when I piloted the Sears riding lawnmower around our big front yard, I was Darth Vader streaking through the galaxy in my special TIE fighter. (Yes, I was Vader, who was much cooler than Luke Skywalker). I was crazy for Star Wars. Me:Last Three Star Wars Films::Archbishop Lefebvre:Second Vatican Council. Anyway, though Jar Jar was the End, the trouble really started with the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Horrible little bastards. They existed only for merchandising purposes, and showed what gruesome self-sabotage George Lucas was capable of. Frankly, if the entire series had ended after The Empire Strikes Back, the universe would have been better served. Anyway, Vader was the coolest one of them all. Then again, I wish the Dowager Countess ran the cosmos, so what do I know… ]]>
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  • Size of the Entire Universe Man
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Avoiding my own screenplay, I pause to goggle at Ross Douthat’s suggestion that Ben Affleck should have been hired to direct the new “Star Wars” movies. His case: Affleck has now made not one but three movies that are better works of pulpy entertainment than anything J.J. Abrams has ever directed. And where the challenge of rescuing “Star Wars” is concerned, actual filmmaking talent might matter more than previous experience with spaceships and monsters. Abrams’ filmography is nothing if not consistent: His “Mission Impossible,” his recent “Star Trek” and “Super 8″ are all zippy simulacra of more original pop blockbusters (the best of the three, “Super 8″ is just a pure Spielberg homage) with weightless action scenes, average scripts, and plots that only make sense if you don’t actually stop to think about them. They are not bad movies, by any stretch, and if what you’re concerned with is delivering a respectable piece of genre entertainment, he’s proven himself a safe choice. So I’m not surprised that Disney — which no doubt wants the safest possible return on its investment — went with him rather than making a more eccentric pick. But fans of the original “Star Wars” trilogy should realize that the director of the next installment faces a bigger challenge than just serving as a capable custodian of a popular franchise, or enlivening a stale formula with some lens flares and sex appeal. That’s because the next movie will be released in the shadow of the epic, franchise-altering disaster of George Lucas’s prequels — a case, rare in the annals of pop culture, where a beloved story was ruthlessly and comprehensively torched, not by hackish studios chasing easy money, but by the very man who created it in the first place. Thanks to Lucas, half of the official Star Wars story is unsalvageable dreck — but it’s canonical dreck, which means it can’t simply be shunted into an alternative timeline in the style of Abrams’ “Star Trek,” or dropped down the memory hole the way say, Joel Schumacher’s “Batman” movies were when Christopher Nolan set about making “Batman Begins.” Instead, the prequels have to be somehow formally accepted as part of the “Star Wars” story and artistically repudiated at the same time. That’s a much harder task than making a “Star Wars” sequel would have been back in 1995, before Lucas took a flamethrower to his legacy. And I can’t help thinking it might have been easier for a director who came to the project free of fanboy baggage, and who could cast a more dispassionate eye on a pop cultural mythology that too many people (myself included, before I was introduced to Jar Jar Binks) invested with far more significance than its creator’s talents could ultimately bear. I’m influenced here by the fact that the best “Star Wars” movie, “Empire Strikes Back,” was directed by Irvin Kershner, a filmmaker who combined a distinct absence of sci-fi experience with an appropriate skepticism toward the man whose vision he was charged with translating into mass-market entertainment. When he set to work on “Empire,” Kershner’s previous two films were “The Eyes of Laura Mars” and “Raid on Entebbe,” both contemporary thrillers with nary a blaster to be seen. Yet the movie he made is the only “Star Wars” installment that transcends genre, and approaches art. I obviously have no idea what the new “Star Wars” movies are supposed to be about, but I think Douthat goes wrong with his final reference to “The Empire Strikes Back.” Because that movie’s mission bears little resemblance to the mission of the director of the next batch of movies. “Empire” followed the massive success of the original “Star Wars,” and the principal achievement of the original movie was creating a distinctive and original universe. Kershner and Kasdan could take that universe for granted, and ask the question: where do these characters go from here? How can we deepen the story? And they did a masterful job of executing on that mission. But that’s not the mission of the director of the next set of movies. Rather, his mission is to re-create a universe that has lost much of its distinctiveness. And that kind of universe-creation has not been a hallmark of Affleck’s direction to date. Affleck is very much the heir of Clint Eastwood as a director, both of them making solid middle-brow pictures for grownups, both good at rooting their films in universes that are familiar – that are “movie real.” But they are not makers of worlds. Abrams will undoubtedly do to the franchise exactly what Douthat expects: streamline it and make it “work” while making it less-distinctive. That’s probably what Disney wanted, because they wanted to avoid handing it to the sort of director who might recall Lucas’s failures by overstuffing their own version of Lucas’s universe. But I understand why that would be disappointing to someone with lingering affection for the franchise like Douthat. But he shouldn’t be pining after Affleck. He should be pining after someone with demonstrated talent for universe-making who could make audiences forget the prequels and remember not “Empire” but the original “Star Wars.” The hallmark of that original was the “dirty universe” – the contrast between the clean and sleek Empire and the rust-bucket rebels, and visually this was what was most obviously sacrificed not only in the prequels but in the changes Lucas kept imposing on his earlier, more successful films. If I were looking for a director to reboot the franchise, I’d look for somebody who I knew got that, and the obvious choice would be the director of the dirtiest universe to hit the screen in recent memory (one with Star-Wars-level odd family dynamics to boot). Final note: as one of the few Joss Whedon skeptics, I have to disagree with Chris Orr that he’d have been a good choice to revive “Star Wars.” Wheedon’s stock in trade is a kind of witty self-awareness, where “Star Wars” depends crucially on taking the created universe completely seriously, and painting in clear, unironic emotional colors. A Whedon “Star Wars” would be radically untrue to the franchise’s roots. He’d be a better choice to re-boot “Star Trek.” And now, back to creating my own universe. ]]>
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  • The Death of the American Movie Theater | The American ...
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    The Death of the American Movie Theater Cliché films, assaulting sound effects—enjoying the show has become almost impossible. ... a review, etc. I don’t want to hear something specific but ...

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  • Geeks, Nerdoms, and Politics
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Last Thursday was Star Wars Day: May the Fourth be with you! It is a good time to reflect on the intersection between nerd culture and politics. In particular, two questions come to mind. First, how does the nerd culture color and influence people’s engagement with and understanding of contemporary politics? And second, does interest in certain fandoms or genres associated with the nerd culture, for example fantasy or science fiction, influence an individual’s political philosophy? Or to flip the question, do people with certain political views gravitate toward nerdy activities or specific genres within the larger nerd culture?  My engagement with nerd/geek culture (the specific differences between the terms “geek” and “nerd” are endless, but I use them synonymously) goes back to my earliest days: since I began reading fantasy and science-fiction novels in the fourth grade, I’ve never stopped. I co-founded a group for fantasy/sci-fi nerds, went to Anime conventions, immersed myself in the lore of several RPGs and MMORPGs (role-playing games and their massively multiplayer online counterparts), and know plenty of gamers and people into graphic novels (which have recently given rise to the wildly successful films set in the Marvel Universe). The explosion of geek culture into the mainstream in the United States, particularly among young people, over the past two decades is therefore an exciting and interesting development, as are its sociopolitical implications. I believe this cultural phenomenon definitely affects the way that people engage with and conceptualize politics. However, this is a double-edged sword. We can gain interesting insights about life from geek culture: for example, it is far more conducive for most people to learn how to live a good life by following and emulating a character from a novel rather than through reading the works of Aristotle. In a culture increasingly cut adrift from the ancient wisdom of religion and philosophy, we can welcome the fact that young people are being drawn toward the reassuring moral lessons found in much of the nerd culture. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Batman are all examples of stories in which the good-evil dichotomy is a central theme. On the other hand, despite the need for moral clarity in many aspects of life, politics, social, and economic issues are complex, the products of the needs and ideas of disparate groups. Such issues, which affect and divide millions of people, cannot be reduced to simplistic formulations and analogies, such as the notion that Trump is basically Voldemort because his rhetoric against immigrants and minorities is similar to Voldemort’s against mudbloods (wizards and witches from non-wizarding families). Additionally, many people saw the portrayal of the rebellion against the Empire in the Star Wars franchise, for example in the movie Rogue One, in terms of fighting against the Trump administration (although some small-government conservatives also identified with the overthrow of big government, i.e., the Empire). This geek culture is being used now to facilitate resistance against Trump because, in the words of one writer, it “provide[s] a common language for everyone to understand—and share on social media. With thousands of potential movie/television lines and moments to use in GIFs, memes, and quotes, protesters can vent their fear and anger. … [It] serves as a unifying force for Americans of all colors and creeds.” But this oversimplifies things. Politics in general isn’t so black and white. Although I am not a supporter of Trump and did not vote for him, and am not a Republican, I cannot ignore the fact that he came to power because of legitimate economic concerns possessed by at least half the population of the United States. We need to derive our tools for engaging with politics from other sources, primarily history. The breadth of history is vast. Its canvas covers thousands upon thousands of years of recorded civilization throughout the world, testimonies to the deeds of men and gods. Within the annals of the past, humanity has experienced almost every conceivable situation. We ought to be using historical—and by extension, political, geographical, and sociological—information from our collective historical experience to draw analogies and explanations for contemporary politics. This represents a failure of our media and education systems, one that narrows our ability to interpret and appreciate the complexity of political phenomenon. It is more useful, for example, to interpret modern American political trends in the context of the late Roman Republic, as Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has argued: There may not be grain riots, or large landholds, but there is definitely a patrician class, and a plebeian class, and they are definitely at loggerheads. And the inability of the political and economic system to deliver an outcome that leaves both classes doing well keeps intensifying the conflict. … America rejected a patrician and elected a tribune. The Founding Fathers and other political philosophers certainly studied history and drew insightful lessons about the nature of politics in a democracy that are more enlightening than a study of Star Wars. It is only with a deeper understanding of history that we can appreciate the complexity of contemporary issues. Nerd culture seems to be adapting, though. Fantasy and science fiction are now moving away from their earlier simplicity, and toward a more nuanced, gray portrayal of politics and human motives. This is best exemplified by Game of Thrones, the TV show based off of A Song of Ice and Fire, a yet-to-be-finished series of novels by George R.R. Martin. Although Martin is quite leftist and idealistic in real life, his work, which emphasizes the need for realism in politics and the importance of power, can be read in a conservative manner, in which the idealism of social perfectionism is discarded in favor of working with preexisting institutions and mores. In The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn, two series by one of the most popular contemporary fantasy authors, Brandon Sanderson (a devout Mormon), characters in positions of power have to grapple with reconciling their ideals, often religious in nature, with their ultimate goals and political realities: these works are beautiful meditations on the nature of morality and goodness in complicated and difficult circumstances. While nerd culture cannot be used as an effective template for conceptualizing political activism, it can serve a useful purpose in clarifying and molding the underlying political principles that guide people. The themes of good versus evil, and the little guy (often a peasant or farmer) taking on a powerful, wicked, and corrupt big boss (dark lord/Sith/corrupt king/usurper) can appeal both to liberals and conservatives in the American political spectrum. On one hand, the idea of resisting authority, as represented by powerful figures such as Voldemort or the Emperor Palpatine appeals to liberals and social-justice warriors. Yet the themes of good versus evil, heroism, and moral absolutism appeal to conservatives. Perhaps, then, conservatives and liberals aren’t really that different in their values, but differ in how and toward what ideas they direct these values. Both J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling drew on classical and religious sources for their works, though one identified as a traditionalist and the other as a liberal. This is why the question of whether science fiction and fantasy can be associated with liberalism or conservatism is ultimately difficult to answer, and not definitive in any case. In general, readers of fantasy tend to skew liberal, while science-fiction readers are more conservative or libertarian. Perhaps this is because science fiction, especially space-based fiction, fuels the hope that idealized libertarian societies will be founded on distant and remote planets in the future. Additionally, gamers tend to be more libertarian than the average population; this may be because games are about making choices. In some games, one can essentially do anything one wants as long as it doesn’t violate the game’s fundamental mechanical framework or storyline, for example in the Elder Scrolls series. (It is unclear if people predisposed to libertarianism game more, or if gaming more nudges people in that direction.) Fantasy is a more interesting case, because it frequently draws upon a nostalgia for the past in constructing its worlds and should thus be more closely aligned with conservatism. After all, most of the liberal viewers of Game of Thrones are hoping some great house or the other gains power and rules justly, an essentially aristocratic desire. Nobody is pushing for a liberal democracy in Westeros. Most fantasy readers and authors are of a fairly liberal bent, however. Perhaps that is because the alignment between libertarianism and fantasy is minimal; after all, libertarianism is generally an American phenomenon, while fantasy worlds are generally based on premodern societies characterized by strong communal ties and networks of social relations. There is no place for radical individualism in a traditional, agricultural society, the livelihood of which depends on cooperative wheat or rice cultivation. One explanation is that progressives tend to gravitate toward fantasy because of the similarities between the idealism found throughout much of the genre and the progressive notion of progress and the perfectibility of humanity. George R.R. Martin sums up the meaning of fantasy in this sense very nicely on his blog, noting that fantasy is “written in the language of dreams”: Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true? Fantasy gives us wonderful visions, ones that drew me into the genre as a kid, but alas, ones that do not necessarily reflect the realities of human nature. George R.R. Martin knows this perhaps better than any fantasy author, for his is a work on politics and power. Another convincing explanation for the lack of conservatism in the genre is found on the popular fantasy and science-fiction website Tor.com, where Liz Bourke argues: If epic fantasy is second-world fantasy that shapes its arc in the form of a grand mythic quest (or several), that plays with tropes such as the return or re-establishment (or sometimes the purification) of a monarch, then it’s, by nature, conservative in structure, and by habit conservative in the political institutions it portrays. But it’s not necessarily conservative in its attitudes towards power, relationships, and orientation towards divinity. Indeed, many series, like The Wheel of Time, Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, encourage readers to think about power and relationships in fairly egalitarian terms. Kings and those in positions of power like Rand al’Thor, Aslan, Aragorn, and Dumbledore treated everyone, high and low, with respect and understanding despite their positions. Nonetheless, these leaders owed their positions and distinct wisdom to traditions and hierarchy, and not through the consent of the masses—in fact a character like Dumbledore often needed to go against the grain of the Ministry of Magic in order to do the morally right thing. As a result, despite the egalitarian elements of fantasy, especially in regards to how people should treat each other, it really does advocate a traditional view of politics: an unelected, wise leader often has better solutions than mass-based populism. Ultimately, nerd culture is here to stay and will remain a big part of the larger culture. Although it shouldn’t serve as the basis for specific policy formulations or analogies for complex political issues for which history is a better mirror, the impact that novels, games, and movies have on shaping and clarifying our political principles is fascinating and should be welcomed. After all, people are affected by the things dear to them, and given the dedication many people have to their various nerdy fandoms, it is understandable that this phenomenon will continue to affect the way people conceptualize morality and politics. Akhilesh Pillalamarri is an editorial assistant at The American Conservative. He also writes for The National Interest and The Diplomat.   ]]>
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  • Movies are Movies
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Culture Like Dennis Dale and Patrick J. Ford, I enjoyed WALL-E. I’m also astonished by its bashing by conservatives as “propaganda”, which reminds me of other subversive animated films, like the pro-spinanch Popeye or the crude anti-puppetry message of Pinocchio, not to mention the way vertically-challenged people were portrayed in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Shame on Hollywood! I recall that when I was studying film history sometime in the late twentieth-century, the four movies that were described by most critics as the film masterpieces of the century were German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s pro-Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will;  The Birth of a Nation (aka The Clansman), D. W. Griffith’s celebration of white supremacy and the KKK; The Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein’s communist revolutionary film; and Orson Welles’ anti-Establishment Citizen Kane. It wasn’t very difficult for most viewers of these films to separate between, say, their artistic value and superb direction and their political message. In fact, there is a general tendency among pundits to exaggerate the political influence of the media, including films, on the general public. For example, the common wisdom is that certain television commercials or televised presidential debates had a huge impact of the outcome of political races. But such claims are based mostly on speculation and not on concrete evidence. And it’s important to remember that while the communist regimes had bombarded the citizens of the Eastern Bloc with a lot of political propaganda for close to five decades, the general impact of all of that on most Poles, Hungarians, etc. was negative. The French communist party has more members today than its counterpart in Poland. Which brings me to the hysterical reactions to the Obama Cover of The New Yorker. I’m not sure whether it was funny or not, but the notion that it serves as anti-Obama propaganda is nonsense and reflects the notion that “I get it. But what about the idiots out there”? Even kids “get it”, which explains why despite the popularity of Superman and other flying film heroes, you don’t hear a lot about children, wearing Batman suits jumping from rooftops of tall buildings. ]]>
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Mark Steyn4
Fox News



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Spider-Man
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Mark Steyn Adapting Spider-Man isn't like adapting Jane Austen, where you can chop characters and stick in lesbian scenes to your heart's content. Mess with a comic-book superhero and the purists will leave you for roadkill. So I'm pleased to report that, even though I haven't looked at SpiderMan for a decade or three, everything in this telling proceeds pretty much as I remembered it: the high-sc
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  • Batman Begins
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Every culture creates heroes in its own image: it’s difficult to imagine transferring the British adventurers — Rudolf Rassendyll and Richard Hannay, the Saint and 007 — to America.
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  • Batman at Eighty
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Happy birthday to Batman, who made his debut eight decades ago in Detective Comics, issue number 27. It was dated May 1939, but actually hit newsstands in March that year. Batman made his screen debut in 1943 - see the somewhat saggy long underwear at
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  • Star Wars
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Stabilize your rear deflectors! From a galaxy far far away - the summer of 1977 - Star Wars is back, rebooted for the 21st century and in hopes that after a decade's time-out the series has shaken off its turn-of-the-century "prequels", agreed even by
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NPI / Radix Journal Staff1
Radix Journal



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻


  • “INTERSTELLAR”: FINDING A NEW TELOS
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers. (Joseph Cooper) There’s an unwritten rule with movies: the more you expect from one, the less you get from it. Another unwritten rule is that a remake is, in most cases, not as good as the original. Christopher Nolan seems to be the great rule-breaker of today’s film industry. When he took on the project of salvaging the Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher had almost destroyed it (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin), who could have predicted he would release a trilogy that would almost completely eclipse Tim Burton’s two first opuses (Batman and Batman Returns), which were actually really good? When Interstellar‘s trailers started to catch my attention, and it was evident that Nolan was attempting a remake of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I thought that the stakes were too high this time. How dare Nolan challenge The Master? Interestingly, Christopher Nolan has often been described as Kubrick’s heir, partly because of the two directors’ common propensity to cut the Gordian Knots of established filmmaking. Kubrick was one of the very first moviemakers to use a nonlinear narrative, in The Killing (1956), and Nolan went even further in Memento (2000), which recounts the fragmented story of an amnesiac whose memory is rebooted every five minutes. The comparison between Kubrick and Nolan is even apter in the case of Interstellar. Indeed, Interstellar is more than a remake of 2001. It is 2001, only way, way better. If Kubrick was film’s Copernicus, then Nolan is its Galileo. Before raising Radix readers’ eyebrows, I should mention that Nolan’s improvement upon Kubrick’s 1968 movie is not due to technology. Unlike many futuristic movies these days, Interstellar is two-dimensional, and though there is, of course, an important use of CGI, it is not what defines the movie (and it is worth noting that in technical terms, 2001 has aged quite well). I could go as far as saying that Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) was graphically much more audacious than Interstellar. But it would be missing the point: though Interstellar takes place in outer space, it is not about space conquest. Much like 2001, Interstellar is about biological evolution, the meaning of human existence, Mankind’s destiny, and God. And though there is an important reflection on artificial intelligence in Interstellar, supercomputers are here reduced to the status of farm animals. There is no equivalent of “HAL,” arguably 2001‘s central character. The prominence of humans in the scenario made the casting a matter of ultimate importance. Whereas the actors of 2001 could easily have been replaced with others, Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Interstellar already is, and will remain indispensable. Though not as famous as Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), and still mostly known for starring in a string of interchangeable “rom-coms,” McConaughey has recently proven as a man of both wit and emotional depth. With only a few minutes of screen time in Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, released last Winter, McConaughey managed to play the movie’s most famous scene with a simple “money mantra” (or whatever it’s supposed to be). McConaughey also appeared on TV this year. In HBO’s True Detective, he plays officer Rust Cohle. Down in Louisiana’s post-industrial rubble, he and detective Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are investigating a series of murders committed by the local elite in a ritual, Satanic fashion, leading some website editors to analyze True Detective as a “conspiracy theory” series. Commenting on the “tomb of the American Dream” he and Hart have to muddle through, Rust Cohle has some lines that echo those of Nolan’s comic-book heroes and villains: “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.” In Interstellar, McConaughey, starring as Joseph Cooper, doesn’t fail to provide the spectator with catchy lines. But before I start quoting, perhaps some contextual elements are in order. The story takes place in the United States, or rather what used to be the United States. Joseph Cooper, a former engineer and pilot who had to retire after a crash, is now growing corn to provide for his two kids and his father-in-law. Cooper’s wife died a few years before the story begins. She had a tumor that, had it been diagnosed in time, would have been curable. But the lack of proper medical devices and qualified physicians sealed her fate. Cooper was wise enough to plant corn instead of wheat, corn being (for now) the only crop which resists a blight that is ravaging plantations. The earth, both with a small and a capital “e,” is dying. The rotting plants turn into dust, which, due to frequent windstorms, makes it harder and harder for people to breathe. Field fires are commonplace. Harvests hardly reach survival levels. Apocalypse has come, not with a bang but with a whimper. Though early 21st-century technological devices keep being used as long as they work, civilization has globally reverted to a pre-Industrial Revolution level: most human activity is oriented towards food production. Cooper’s elder son, Tom, whose intelligence is only slightly above-average, will have to study how to grow corn in high school. More and more, boys learn their fathers’ trade, as it used to be before the 19th and 20th centuries’ division of labor. Cooper’s daughter, Murph, is much more like her father. She seems to be endowed with a kind of “shine” that allows her to feel a part of reality that the five senses cannot detect. Unlike her brother, she knows that “something is wrong” in the present state of affairs. She doesn’t live by the rules, because she feels that rules are dooming her family. Though—or rather because—her intelligence is vastly above-average, she has troubles with her teachers at school. On her spare time, she tries to figure out what “ghosts” want to communicate to her. Although Cooper doesn’t believe his daughter’s “ghosts” stories, he supports her in her personal experiments. One day, she detects a signal that resembles geographical coordinates. Cooper, who has noticed anomalies in his automatic ploughing machines’ functioning, believes it is due to a magnetic field, whose center has been located by Murph. He decides to go there, and his disobedient daughter manages to hide in his pickup truck and go with her father. (Promethean Nolan likely means that all evolutionary leaps are made by rebels, like Columbus in his time.) It turns out that the mysterious site is nothing less than a covert NASA base. Once the pride of the world, NASA has gone underground since government credits have been cut in favor of agriculture. (But as “Paul Kersey” wrote, in today’s “real world,” space conquest has been abandoned to the benefit of “Diversity.” At least humans in Interstellar have the excuse of starvation.) In a very short-sighted manner, what remains of the government thinks that Mankind’s dire situation justifies that “frivolities” like space exploration make way to more essential endeavors like farming. (History school books are orwellianly rewritten to describe Apollo 11 as a hoax.) SLIPPING THE “SURLY BONDS OF EARTH” Here I am reminded of an episode from TV animated series Archer. In the twelfth episode of the third season, Commander Tony Drake (with Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston’s exalted voice) explains to curvy quadrooness Lana why space colonization is the right answer to “here and now” problems: Drake: You think space exploration is a boondoggle?! Lana: Well, come on, in this economy?! Drake: Exactly! Now, more than ever, is when we need to look to space for the solutions to Mankind’s problems. In just two hundred years, Earth’s population will exceed her capacity to produce enough food. And even as the famines begin, global war will erupt as fresh water becomes scarcer than gold. But if we begin now, using the lessons learned aboard Space Station Horizon, a small group of brave colonists can terraform Mars. And Mankind can finally slip the surly bonds of Earth, to live forever… AMONG THE STARS!!! “Slipping the surly bonds of Earth” is exactly what Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a NASA researcher, has to offer Cooper. Brand wants Cooper to lead an expedition with Brand’s daughter (Ann Hathaway) to a black hole located near Saturn’s rings (which is reminiscent of 2001‘s black monolith revolving around Jupiter). Beyond this black hole is another stellar system, in a faraway galaxy, with three planets apparently similar to Earth both in gravity and atmosphere composition. The expedition’s mission is to find out whether one of these exoplanets can be terraformed. Cooper faces Ulysses’ dilemma. Should he stay in Ithaca or should he go conquer Troy? And Penelope’s dead anyway. As painful as it is for him to leave his children and his home, Cooper decides to go. He begs his daughter to forgive him and explains to her that he has to live at last. To live, that is, to exist beyond food, shelter, and reproduction. To put the Greater Good above one’s family’s interests (or rather to understand that the latter depends on the former). To follow one’s Destiny, even if said Destiny is tragic. And, for those who have that rare power, to bring Mankind to a higher level of consciousness, mastery, and being. Cooper knows when he leaves that his chances of seeing his family again are very thin. Not only is the journey long and dangerous, but spacetime is different on the three exoplanets: one hour there amounts to seven years on Earth. Which means that the expedition, named Lazarus after the Christian saint who came back from the dead, is a race against time. Even if Cooper manages to make it, he might be back when there’s nothing left to save on Earth (a little like in the first Planet of Apes). And, of course, when his kids are dead. But he accepts the challenge, which appears to be Mankind’s last chance. Pr. Brand informs Cooper that corn will also die out eventually. Even worse, the Noah’s Ark-like vessel ready to follow Cooper’s pioneer expedition is, for now, too heavy to overcome Earth’s gravity. NASA’s calculation is that Cooper will get back when the scientists on Earth have managed to make the vessel fly, due to the spacetime difference between the two stellar systems. If this “Plan A” doesn’t work, they’ll turn to “Plan B”: a light shuttle with fertilized eggs aboard will leave with a few colonists to the New Earth; the rest of Mankind will be left to die. (I wonder what will annoy conservatives most this time: surrogate motherhood or the idea that not all human lives have the same value?) Thanks to these eggs, a new Mankind will be recreated. As Brand puts it, “We must think not as individuals but as a species.” Later in the movie, Cooper will throw the line that prompted me to write this review: “Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.” A PHILOSOPHICAL CHALLENGE TO IDENTITARIANS Interstellar is problematic for Identitarians, who follow two simple principles: Blood and Soil. If the former is only shaken by Nolan (more on that below), the latter is completely crushed by the British Faust. Indeed, space conquest means that Man will not dance around the same wooden totem pole for Eternity like Hobbits, which Identitarianism often boils down to. But I think Instellar is a challenge rather than a stop sign to Identitarians, at least for (Pan-)European ones. As I mentioned in my debut article at Alternative Right (my very first article in the English language, by the way), this “Let’s do as our ancestors have always done” motto may suit Indian tribes, but it is unworthy of Sons of Europa, whether the “European New Right,” which is neither European in spirit nor New nor even right-wing, likes it or not. “We are the heirs of conquerors,” fellas. Our distant ancestors had to “slip the surly bonds” of the Pontic steppe so they could reach a higher stage of evolution in their millenial upward journey. Of all people, Americans should understand that reality better than any of their European brothers, which is actually the reason why I decided to “slip the surly bonds” of my beloved Hexagone two years ago (which answers the usual question I’m asked: “Why are you doing all this?”; that’s why). The real founding of America—when the Mayflower left Plymouth, not when the “Holy Scrap” was written down—is not even four centuries old, a period of time, in strictly evolutionary terms, that’s merely a blink-of-an-eye. If evolution keeps its course (I think it will), there will be a Mayflower spaceship someday. Let’s just hope that it won’t be crammed with Puritans. As for the “Blood” part of the Identitarian motto, it is also challenged by Nolan, but in a more subtle way. Viewers will have noticed that the Lazarus expedition comprises one Black man, and a woman whose name could be Jewish. Well, call me a “race traitor” (but again, traitors are firstly those who betray Europa’s spirit) if you will, but I didn’t hide under my seat in terror. Let’s not forget that Art shouldn’t be confused with Politics, something the Right has never understood, and the Left less and less understands, which is why its works of art are getting embarrassing. The second reason why I don’t mind seeing non-Whites in a European expedition is because as Oswald Spengler put it, “those who talk too much about race no longer have it in them.” What is more traitorous: non-Whites appearing in a clearly European movie, or great-grandsons of Acheans, Romans, Franks, and Vikings placing their hopes in this or that model of car? (“Both are equally abhorrent” is an easy, common, but… wrong answer.) There are, in my opinion, two competing strains of Identitarianism, whose opposition can be summed up thusly: “What is Mine is Fine” VS. “What is Fine is Mine” (Due to Prince Harold’s history-shifting shipwreck on Picardy’s shores and the Battle of Hastings that ensued, the rhyme also works in French: “Ce qui est mien est bien” VS. “Ce qui est bien est mien.”) I explained that in an interview at AltRight with Alexander Forrest: We can recognize the various strengths of [other] civilizations and take inspiration from the noble and inventive things they engendered. That is exactly what the West used to do best. To use a very basic example… the Arabs produced coffee long before the West adopted it and transplanted it to the Americas. Today, the most refined coffee is brewed in Italy. It is the essence of our civilization to take what is best in other civilizations and improve upon it. The worst aspect of “Blood and Soil” rigidity is that it deprives those who stick to it of a telos, of a final cause that would transcend their individual lives and therefore enable them to pass their dreams down to their descendants, until the time when these dreams can be put to practice. I believe such a dream should be space conquest. I obviously won’t live it, nor will my children, and I don’t think my grandchildren or even my great-grandchildren will. And therefore, in the meantime, a European Home should be established so as to make the carrying out of this dream possible and even thinkable (the rewriting of history books about Neil Armstrong’s giant leap is one of Interstellar‘s most important scenes). But this European Home would’t be sustainable—it wouldn’t even see the light of day, since its founding is, in itself, a project involving several generations from conception to realisation and therefore requires transcendence to survive the bite of time—if there wasn’t an idea bigger than us, an idea that will mean the same thing in one century as it now does. It is time we cultivate this idea instead of doing as if it was still “five to midnight” and we had to “act before it’s too late.” It is not five to midnight. It is five past midnight. The night is still dark and cold. Predators of many kinds prowl around the camp. Ghastly screams echo in the void. Waiting for the Dawn, torch-bearing guards keep the fence, and poets recount glorious tales around the fire, while everybody looks to the stars.
    ...
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Soiled Sinema2
Soiled Reviews



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  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is one of the first films I remember seeing. As a child, Pee-wee Herman was someone I could identify with becau...
    ...
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Vox Day1
Castalia House



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  • Mailvox: Justice League review
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    DJ watches it so you don't have to.

    I had some time to kill in town today. Didn’t want to drive back home just to turn around. Decided to roll the dice and see the Justice League Movie. Consider this me taking one for the team.   It was abysmal. Just flat out boring. But it was offensive, too.

    Before the opening credits even completed, while the movie tries to convince us the world has gone to hell with the death of Superman, we witness two angry white men (one with a shaved head, of course) assaulting a grocery owning Muslim family.  But that’s actually the only “bad” scene we see. All the other scenes were just of urban decay and sad people in mourning.

    Yet, that’s not the only reason I found the movie offensive. It was a horrendously dumbed-down version of the DC Apokolips/Darkseid mythos. Truly awful. Further, the introductions of Aquaman and Flash completely rewrite those characters, making them as annoying as they are impotent.

    Flash is a self-described fearful Jew who admits being scared of bugs and running away from trouble, perfectly ok letting others do all the fighting. Arthur Curry is a depicted as a petulant and spoiled resigned member of Atlantis, who even with near godlike power and freedom, drinks himself silly while complaining about his mommy.

    Cyborg was pretty on point and probably the best part of the movie.

    A risen Superman?  Boring. Made more so by returning him to his all-powerful, Silver Age, personality-missing, truth and justice (minus the American Way) flying savior.

    Wonder Woman?  Well...let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if Zach Snyder ends up on the Miramax Scoreboard soon considering how many times we got to see a center focus shot of Gal Gadot’s rear. As for her character?  By the end of the movie she’s telling us Batman wanted her to lead the team (which he never actually does), and that she’s supposed to be the glue for the league, all the while smiling patronizingly at all the “supermen” around her...until of course a shirtless Clark Kent arrives on scene, at which point she drops the smile and visibly quivers at the sight of hairy Henry’s chest.

    Not ever how the angry-and-suspicious-of-all-men Wonder Woman was ever depicted.

    Bruce Wayne/Batman?  Fat. Fat, and not at all intimidating on any level. The Batman. Not intimidating. It’s a joke, but when Barry Allen asks what Bruce’s super power, Bruce responds, “I’m rich,” but that’s clearly what we’re supposed to take away from Batman. He’s too old, too slow, past his prime, useless without real powers (as even stated by Arthur Curry), and nothing without his money.

    What. The. Hell.  Not the greatest tactician to ever live. Not the world’s greatest detective. Not the most feared crime fighter villains have ever faced - also, every human bad guy in the movie is a white male; even Steppenwolf is depicted with pinkish white skin. No. Batman is just sort of the Justice League’s bruised-and-broken, Scotch-drinking rich uncle.

    There was never any real danger once they raised Superman. None. No challenge. No real conflict. Just that tired trope of “if only we come together as a team, we can defeat anything,” and do it better than all those who did it before. Before, it took the combined forces of all the Amazons, all the Atlantians, all the heroes of all the tribes of man, AND the old gods to defeat Steppenwolf and the danger of the trinity box. This time it just takes a desire for justice as stated by Superman at the beginning of the final battle.

    Ahhh!!  Even the CGI landscape the League flies into for the final battle looked cheap and fake!  Nothing about this movie reminded me of the hours I’d spend reading comics growing up!  None of it!  Not even the rise of Superman carried any inspiration whatsoever.

    These mythical stories and adventures are supposed to inspire us to be better people, but this movie wasn’t that at all. It was plain and not mythical. It was common and trite. It wasn’t even good brain candy. It was exhausting.

    It was just boring.

    Labels:

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John Hanlon1
John Hanlon Reviews



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • "Dumbo" Review
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    ...
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Plugged In1
Focus on the Family



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  • DVD Review: Aquaman
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    ...
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Crosswalk1
Cross Walk



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • A Special Behind-the-Scenes Look at Disney's New Dumbo Movie!
    (”Batman (1989)” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Enjoy a special behind-the-scenes look at an extraordinary family film.
    ...
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Andrew Anglin1
Daily Stormer



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    Ica Reviews1
    Aryan Skynet



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