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Corporate Marketing Telling You What You Like

[T]hese Transformer movies make a ton of money, and I’ve never met anyone who liked one. There’s a case to be made about the power of advertising, and the power they have to create this sense that this is what we’re supposed to see.  – Ethan Hawke, May 2015

Saudi Despots Afraid of Love

Last year, when some Saudi men celebrated the day of love [Valentine's Day], they were arrested by police and sentenced to 32 years each in prison and 4,500 lashes for being found with "unrelated women, drinking and dancing". Mohd Abdul Alam, February 2015

Too Many Toys

If I had a daughter I would not give her Barbie dolls. I wouldn't want my child to be constantly obsessed with getting something, and that immense preoccupation with high-heeled shoes and clothes. BillyBoy*, former Barbie collector and designer, 2015

Ai Weiwei

The photographer, unconventional artist and blogger Ai Weiwei has become a thorn in the side of China’s authoritarian rulers for asking uncomfortable questions and criticising the stifling and regressive culture of contemporary capitalist China.

Ai Weiwei - 'Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn', 1995

Much of Ai Weiwei’s criticism of Chinese society and the intellectual climate of China is about the absence of any fundamental intellectual movement in his country. He believes that China has yet to experience a large-scale modernist movement, whose basis is the liberation of human nature and the spread of humanity. Democratic politics, material wealth and the education of all citizens in the society are the soil for modernism, yet all of those are only idealized pursuits for a developing country like China. Modernism is the questioning of traditional humanist values and critical thinking of living conditions, and is so far missing in Chinese society, where individual and intellectual value is largely dismissed. Ai’s photographs and act of photographing hold up a mirror to this void, and show how he strives to fill it. – Carol Yinghua Lu [1]

Translated Internet message post from Ai Weiwei on China’s overblown opening ceremony to the 2008 Olympics:

Those incompetent tools perverted the Olympic opening ceremony into the archetypical example of bogus “traditional” rubbish, a blasphemous “spirit of liberty, ”a visual crap pile of phony affection and hypocritical unction. Offensive noise pollution and a monarchical mentality have been revived as a vaudeville variety show. It was the ultimate rendering of a culture under centralized state power, an encyclopedia of spiritual subjugation. Before we can stand up straight, we are heavily bent over once again. [2]

Ai WeiWei – Interlacing, edited by Urs Stahel and Daniela Janser, Fotomuseum Winterthur, 2011, 1) pg. 239, 2) pg. 312.

Drug Use

Discretionary drugs are a coping mechanism. You're better off without them, but the more stress in your life the more difficult it is to go without an escape - a drug-based temporary relief.

Look at Disney, for example. They should be made accountable for force-feeding a sickly diet of pink, sparkly princesses as the norm. Parents need to take a stand and realise that it's not acceptable to be selling two-year-olds makeup kits to make themselves beautiful.  – Emma Moore

Why is that art on the wall (that my kid could draw) worth so much?!

05.12.11 If you want to talk about the value of art with a price tag attached to it, perhaps for insurance purposes, you have to keep in mind that the prices are driven by the capitalist art market, which itself is characterized by a few very rich and egotistical characters searching for a place to invest their cash that will, at the same time, confer a sense of status and prestige upon themselves.

Although from a rather ironic source, Charles Saatchi (famous for his art collecting and museum of modern and avant garde art) criticized art collectors for what they care about most of all – money – rather than artistic achievement.

Do any of these people actually enjoy looking at art? Do they simply enjoy having easily recognised big-brand-name pictures, bought ostentatiously in auction rooms at eye-catching prices, to decorate their several homes, floating and otherwise, in an instant demonstration of drop-dead coolth and wealth? Their pleasure is to be found in having their lovely friends measuring the weight of their baubles, and being awestruck.  – December, 2011

Now, if instead we consider the value of a work in relation to the history of art, the significance is primarily a result of artists who have done something remarkable or new for the first time and have subsequently achieved notoriety and success from doing it. This is typically the kind of accomplishment that warrants adding a piece of art to a public museum. Contrast this artistic achievement against the typical reason art is added to a high-priced private collection.

The capitalist art market effectively hijacks the artists and often redirects contemporary artistic interests towards commercial purposes, while at the same time restricting competitive access in order to drive prices up even further.

Body Image and the Tyranny of Culture

'Ariadne', by John Vanderlyn, 180915.10.11 When it comes to body-shape there's what you are without trying, and then what contemporary cultural standards demand. If you look back in time you'll notice that the relics and artwork from prehistoric times depicted women of very ample size, implying an ideal form. More recently, until about the beginning of the 20th century, women were still typically depicted as what would be considered fat today, but not quite the obese of pre-history. And during contemporary times western culture expects women to be thin, the skinnier the better.

There certainly seems to be a progression occurring here. Basically, before the industrial revolution girth was a symbol of wealth because food was difficult or expensive to acquire. Yet today food, or at least empty calories, are everywhere and so being thin has become difficult, not being fat!

Gaining weight was more difficult when living was often arduous and calories were sparse, while in the 21st century the challenge is to be thin amid a surfeit of junk food and TV-induced sloth.   Yet in neither time or place are cultural 2010 Fashion from Milan Italyexpectations demanding or seeking the answer to the important question: what is my healthy weight? After all, it's not the same for everyone.

People often want what they don’t have because an abstract desire is always easier to conceive as more desirable than an easily acquired value. And cultural expectations create an unnecessary competition, in this case culture is used as a way to get women to compete against each other to the advantage of men; that’s primarily the twisted game in play.

Cultural ideals and the imagery to convey those values are employed to convince people to be what they aren’t, and the result is neurosis and angst as the slaves to dominant cultural struggle in vain to conform to intentionally impossible or unrealistic standards. Culture is just another word for bullshit; this is just another tyranny to be undermined, superseded or destroyed.

Poisoned Culture: From Citizens to a Mob

12.08.11 All the incessant news stories of lost kids, criminals caught in the act, bizarre injuries and deaths – it’s all distraction, a calculated diversion to boost TV ratings for advertising money and to minimize attention to serious and substantive issues – unemployment and increasing poverty, a predatory ruling class, the conversion of public education into a private profit-driven enterprise, the ongoing degradation of our natural environment, and on and on.

Fear sells, but it also erodes social bonds, leading to a mass of paranoid and atomized individuals that only seek immediate safety through obedience to police and military authorities, and relief through commercial entertainment and mindless product consumption. In other words, civilization and functional society based on participatory citizenship is reduced to an unstable mob.

This dirty mental environment is inherently precarious, highlighting the short-sighted foolishness of the wealthy and the ruling class for promoting it, but it also brings widespread upheaval all the more near. A mainstream culture as poisoned as ours is today makes economic and political reform practically impossible, and it also makes the revolutionary process all the more ugly when it inevitably arrives.

The narrow layer of the super-rich to which [Rupert] Murdoch belongs has dictated every aspect of political, economic and social life over more than three decades. His 175 or so newspapers and television channels, including Sky in Britain and Fox in the US, are widely viewed as kingmakers inside the political establishment. [...] Murdoch is the supreme purveyor of a particular type of gutter journalism, whose emphasis on sex scandals and the antics of the rich and famous is meant to divert and confuse the public and encourage the most backward sentiments. -- Chris Marsden, July 2011

China still cannot offer any real value to the world except cheap labour, manufacturing and its own so-called stability. Besides that, I don't see any creative values and creative minds – thinking – that can be announced from China. It [needs] to have a more reasonable political structure which allows this kind of development to happen.  – Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist, 2010

Book Reviews: Anarchy Evolution & Praying to the Aliens

03.11.10 Anarchy Evolution, by Greg Graffin (2010), is the auto-biography of the lead-singer and songwriter for the punk rock band Bad Religion, published to coincide with the band’s 30th year and most recent album release The Dissent of Man. Actually, auto-biography is a little inaccurate, the book is more of an anecdotal remembrance of the singer’s experiences with his band, but mostly (and perhaps unexpectedly), his academic career studying evolutionary biology.

Greg Graffin briefly mentions his childhood, the southern California music scene, along with the rise – and demise -- of punk rock, during the 70s and 80s. The author then goes on to recount his extensive academic endeavors, his own unconventional views on atheism and evolution, particularly what he sees as the preponderance of randomness and chaos within natural selection, and the rebirth of Bad Religion later in the 80s.

The writing style is plain-spoken, and the author presents his chosen scientific subject matter clearly without being pretentious or boring. Reading the book though it’s also apparent that Graffin is not a natural writer, and even the assistance of a co-author (Steve Olson) whose role in the production is never explained, doesn’t smooth out the books rough edges. The book continually bounces back and forth between evolutionary biology and tidbits of Greg Graffin’s experiences with his band. The intent was probably to compare the evolution of the band with the chaotic quality of natural selection, but it just comes off feeling like two separate drafts were shuffled like playing cards and glued together to make a book.

Anarchy Evolution is certainly an interesting read, but the sum result was rather disappointing. I would have appreciated more about the history and significance of Bad Religion’s songs, and more (or indeed anything!) on most of the other band members. On a more personal level Anarchy Evolution was disappointing because it reveals Greg Graffin as just an average Joe, someone quite removed from the intellectual radical that I expected him to be based on the lyrical complexity and attitude of Bad Religion’s punk rock music. Nonetheless, this criticism shouldn't detract from the man's significant musical talent and academic achievement, as well as the major impact that Bad Religion has had on the music scene over the past 30 years in punk rock, and beyond.

Numan's Own

In contrast to Anarchy Evolution, the auto-biography by Gary Numan, Praying to the Aliens (1998), succeeds on all counts as a fascinating and entertaining tale of the singer’s personal life and musical career. For those unfamiliar, the British singer Gary Numan is most recognized for his 80s pop-tunes like ‘Cars’, but was most influential for having pioneered the use of a heavy electronic synthesizer sound he called ‘Machine Rock’. His musical career progressed from early punk efforts, to pop, and more recently into industrial sounds similar to the creative efforts of Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor.

Gary Numan writes an honest and easy-to-read account of his very interesting life, the rise and fall, and rise again of a pop musician, dedicated pilot and auto-enthusiast, among other things. In his book, Gary recounts how he quickly achieved everything he dreamed about, only to realize he was totally unprepared to deal with the true reality of it all! It’s actually easy to sympathize and relate to him because he begins just like most everyone else, with all the illusions and misconceptions about what it’s like to be famous and wealthy. And through it all, Numan’s life story delivers some important lessons:

  • Don’t give in to defeat: follow your dreams.

  • Be nice to other people, because you don’t know who, or where, they’ll be in the future; it’s a smaller world than you might think!

If you like Gary Numan’s music you’ll enjoy reading his story, but even people who aren’t fans will still get something out of it. Elaborate budget-busting concerts, fast cars, bizarre run-ins with the police, groupies, crashes, and even an around-the-world flight, Praying to the Aliens is a revealing account of a rare life story that most anyone will find entertaining on one level or another.

(A Piece of my Mind)

Filmography (A Piece of my Mind), 0146018cj5000
September 2010

Film Review: Punishment Park (1971) DVD

Caught by the police in 'Punishment Park'This is an insightful and smart film for the unique way it delivers the underlying emotions and clashing political views within American society. Filmed in documentary style and directed by Peter Watkins, Punishment Park's premise is that students and political dissidents are put on trial in kangaroo courts after a repeal of Constitutional law during the tumultuous Nixon era of the late 60s and early 1970s. Since the prisons are filling up too fast to contain all the political criminals, convicted dissidents can choose to serve time in prison or compete in ‘punishment park’, a 53 mile race in the summer heat of the southern California desert to reach an American flag station while being hunted down by police and military personnel. The participants are told that if they can reach the flag in three days they'll be set free; but will they?

While one group is frantically running through the desert another group is on trial. The proceedings showcase the opposing views, that of the state establishment contrasting with the views of those under arrest and otherwise oppressed. Punishment Park is a film made in the heat of the moment so the opinions and attitudes feel genuine. Not surprisingly most of the court dialogue descends into expletive laced arguments as opposing sides struggle to communicate but find common ground lacking amidst an endemic atmosphere of polarized politics and overly simplified generalizations.

“You either win, or you die.” – Punishment park convict verbalizing the true quality of a polarized establishment where increasing authoritarian violence generates an increasingly violent public reaction.

Although the film is fictional the themes are startlingly relevant to America in 2007 - just replace communism with terrorism and the Vietnam War with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is an excellent film for provoking discussion and serious thought concerning the issues of authority, politics, the oppression of public dissent, and violence within American society. 20.06.07

Lo-Pointe Cinema

Lo-Pointe Cinema, 0139012mxx0000
October 2009

The Death Song, by Marilyn Manson

We’re on a bullet
and we’re headed straight into god
even he’d like to end it too
we take a pill, get a face
buy our ticket
and we hope that heaven’s true
I saw a cop beat a priest on the TV
and they know they killed our heroes too
we sing the death song kids
because we’ve go no future
and we want to be just like you
and we want to be just like you
let’s sing the death song kids
we light a candle on an earth
we made into hell
and pretend that we’re in heaven
each time we do we get
the blind man’s ticket
and we know that nothing’s true
I saw a priest kill a cop on the TV
and I know now they’re our heroes too
we sing the death song kids
because we’ve got no future
and we want to be just like you
and we want to be just like you
let’s sing the death song kids
we write our prayers on a little bomb
kiss it on the face and send it to god
we we’re the world

but we've got no future
and we want to be just like you
we want to be just like you.

Film  Review: Daisies (1966) DVD

There’s an enchanting personal attraction to any artistic creation that is so innovative or outrageous that it defies categorization. The 1966 Czech film Daisies directed by Vera Chytilova is just that.

The two sisters question the evidence for their existence in the film Daisies.The two main characters, both bored young women named Marie, conclude from what they see around them that the world is bad, consequently they should be bad too and so they proceed to engage in a series of silly and destructive antics. They date older men just to get a free meal then ditch them on the train, hold an existential discussion in a bathtub full of milk, and mostly eat like messy pigs anywhere and everywhere.

Daisies is difficult to describe, it's part Kafkaesque surrealism, part social commentary with a comedic flair, but the final message typed on the screen reveals the reason for all the apparent absurdity. The film is mostly, but not entirely, a criticism of the skewed perspective of a lazy bourgeois society that’s more concerned with the disruption of dinner entertainment than the consequences of a war.

It’s surprising that this film was even made at all when you consider it comes from Communist Czechoslovakia in 1966, was directed by a woman, and contains extensive use of creative photography and film techniques in a surrealistic presentation. So of course Daisies was banned in Czechoslovakia, but fortunately the film survived as did the director, and now you can see it too. 11.05.07

“Everyone does what they can to avoid thinking. Laziness is the most basic human trait. People don’t want to think - they can’t make the connection between entertainment and thought. They want immediate kicks. People will not be human until they get pleasure from thought - only a thinking person can be a full person.” – Vera Chytilova, 1978.

Film Review: Fail-Safe (1964) DVD

Fail-Safe details the mindset, all the reasoning and first-strike justifications, and general calculated thinking behind the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cold War era and puts it into a credible and unnerving apocalypse scenario. Fail-Safe is from the same time period as Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb, and the basic theme of nuclear war is the same but the two movies approach the issue from two different directions. Where Dr. Strangelove is a dark comedy that works to spoof and mock the absurdity of the people and beliefs involved in manufacturing nuclear war, Fail-Safe takes a literal approach in order to demonstrate how easily an accidental nuclear war could occur in which millions are killed instantly, and the behavior and character responses likely in such an event.

Fail-Safe highlights the clash between the career military commanders and the political leadership, two sides that often have conflicting goals. Fail-Safe (1964)Most notable are the civilian advisers to the pentagon (Walter Matthau’s character), people that use flawed assumptions about how the other side is different (and thus 'evil'), questionable statistics, and dubious studies to justify appalling actions and provocations that easily spin out of control - all in the name of ‘national self-defense’. These same Pentagon advisors are still hard at work bringing us more idiotic and self-defeating wars like the Bush administration’s escapades in Iraq, still blazing away with no end, or a ‘victory’, in sight some four years later.

A mistaken conflict that pushes the military to the limits of their patriotism - even over the edge into rebellion, how contemporary! Indeed Fail-Safe is an intense movie that still has relevance today; it reminds me of the saying, when the elephant’s fight it’s the grass that suffers (hint: we’re the grass!). 21.01.07

Industrially organized production of culture has always seemed suspect to committed cultural critics. For Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, it represented an instrument of subtle oppression in the hands of those who possessed and administrated economic and political power. Its products served only one purpose — to draw people's attention away from their true interests and, by colonizing their minds, divert it towards superficial, surrogate pleasures. Beyond this, the mass production of standardized commodities and ideas, aimed at the lowest common denominator, would lead to a gradual decline in the general intellectual level. From: Pop Art, by Klaus Honnef, page 20, Taschen, 2006.

Film review: No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land (2001) DVD. Few things get uglier than a civil war but they chose a beautiful location for this one. This film reveals the absurdity within a war, in this case it’s Bosnia, with two sides forced together, one a Serb and the other a Bosnian. Trapped in no man’s land between warring sides they are compelled to find a way out.

No Man’s Land is a war film but with a very distinct difference in that it criticizes not just a futile conflict but all of the other participants as well from the multi-national UN peacekeeping forces to the mass media, while also challenging the concept of political neutrality amidst a conflict where both sides are trying to kill each other. The military peacekeepers are mostly there for appearances and don't want to get involved while the news media will do anything for a story without any genuine concern for the real misery of the people involved in the mess.

This is an excellent film with a sharp sense of humor, and although it doesn’t offer any particular resolution to the basic problem it does poignantly demonstrate that once involved in a conflict there may not be any practical way to get out, a message especially germane to another civil war now occurring in Iraq. 29.11.06

Film review: Why We Fight, A history of America's Military Industrial Complex

Why we fight (2005) DVD by Eugene Jarecki is designed for the portion of the American people that gets their information on world events truncated and shrink-wrapped from the likes of FOX news, Rush Limbaugh, or their local newspaper. In other words Why we fight is a documentary designed for your average ill-informed workaday American. It very carefully and deliberately explains the rationale and personnel behind the current war on Iraq and it also establishes the historical context needed to understand why things are the way they are beginning with World War II and the advent of the United States’ infamous military-industrial complex first labeled by the same man who was largely responsible for its formation: President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

This is an Informative and interesting film but what it has to say may not be overly surprising for Noam Chomsky fans or avid readers of Holology, for instance. 23.09.06

Film review: Bush Family Fortunes – The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2004) DVD by Greg Palast

This is a revealing documentary about the rise of the Bush political dynasty and the controversial 2000 election. Investigative reporter and filmmaker Greg Palast shows that the Bush family has used its influence in office for decades to build up their personal fortunes through special personal connections, such as with the Saudi monarchy and the infamous Carlyle Group, and then plowed the profits back into their own reelection campaigns. He explains that the contested Florida election in 2000 was lost due to intentional disenfranchisement of Black voters using a doctored roster of out of state convicted felons. More to the point, vote rigging is a tactic that both sides, Republican and Democrat, want to see continue because it favors the incumbent and they both believe that by perpetuating it they can win at this charade.

This is one of the questions that has always bothered me because, as Vice President, Gore had the deciding vote in the Senate. Gore had a deciding influence in determining whether to recount or just accept Bush's win in Florida. The Vice President and his election team had to know that something suspicious was going on in Florida, especially since the governor of that state was Bush's brother, but apparently they decided to let it go on in the belief that, even if they had the evidence for a case, revealing the scale of the fraud would only end up hurting both parties in the long run. So instead of revealing the massive fraud going on like an honest person should have done, Al Gore let it slide.

Palast goes so far as to suggest that the Supreme Court was a party to the corruption in the Florida election as well. If this is the case then America as a Republic and as a democracy is completely lost because no institution remains that is free of massive corruption. Not the Presidency, not Congress and now not even the Supreme Court. No matter how much effort the public puts into it through agitation and protest, the system cannot fix itself anymore because all legitimate institutions have been corrupted to become part of the problem implacably opposed to the solution! There’s a cynical saying, ‘if voting changed anything it would be illegal’. Read between the lines: Bush’s Family Fortunes is a call to revolution in the United States because it is increasingly apparent that nothing else can rectify the situation. 24.04.06

Film review: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004) DVD, an analysis of the mass media and how they sold the War on Iraq by Danny Schechter.

Danny Schechter, a former mass media employee and now professional media analyst, narrates this very informative and revealing documentary. In Weapons of Mass Deception he is primarily concerned with television news since that is the source, unfortunately, that most Americans get the information they use to form opinions about local and world events. Schechter details multiple aspects of modern mass media and how it has become little more than a propaganda outlet for the established powers. The most recent and polished example of the way the major media outlets twist and exploit news and current events, like a product to be marketed and sold, is the coordinated process that was used to sell the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Some of the things going on behind the scenes include:

The Fox News effect: where all the other domestic news channels are dragged to the right because they don’t want to appear to be less ‘patriotic’ and lose market share or get angry letters from viewers. Patriotism in this case means jingoistic blind support for the Bush administration.

The Pentagon’s daily theme: where a single concept was concocted each day and carefully disseminated through official channels in order to keep the mass media on the Pentagon’s script for reporting the war on Iraq.

PSYOP staged events were used to create highly symbolic illusions to mold public opinion both in Iraq and back home. One example was the angry mob tearing down the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, an event that was actually completely staged and not spontaneous as was implied at the time.

The use of embedded journalists to create one-sided sympathetic reporting in support of the American war effort.

Using military force to endanger the lives of independent journalists: borrowing a tactic used by the Israeli military in the occupied territories for years, the Pentagon bombed and shelled known independent media stations in Iraq. Whether these multiples incidents were accidental or intentional is nearly irrelevant considering the favorable outcome that was generated. By putting the fear of death into them, and in many cases actually killing the journalists, the military was able to scare off the independent journalists leaving only the embedded ones to cover the story like the Pentagon wanted it reported.

Danny Schechter concludes: "Major media covers the world through the eyes of those in power."

When considering mass media bias you have to realize it's not typically an issue of partisan politics, of being pro-Republican or pro-Democrat. The mass media propaganda line backs whatever party is in power for simple personal benefit, to gain the approval of government regulations, or deregulation, that the media owners want. The 'journalists' working for the mass media repeat the official story because it's so much easier and safer to do that than genuine critical and objective journalism. Sycophantic journalism not only means job security but taken to an extreme can even mean a promotion! This explanation for mass media bias doesn't require any conspiracy, simply numerous lazy, shortsighted and selfish people.

The corporate driven mass media is a clear and imperative threat to the well being of everyone who isn’t making a dollar off of the mass media machine, and it’s a mid-term threat to even their well being if they had the brain cells and objectivity to stop for a moment and think about the self-destructive consequences of their greedy actions. This propaganda machine has criminally colluded with political authorities to sell wars, colluded with big business to cover up artificially created environmental disasters, to lie, cheat and steal directly leading to the deaths of millions, and millions more literally being entertained to death as sedentary habits lead to skyrocketing  rates of obesity, diabetes and more. This is the same mass media led by the despicable likes of Disney/ABC and AOL/Time Warner that want to hijack the Internet so they can twist it into a glorified television, another one-way passive experience for filling minds with their mental pollution.

The first step in fighting back is to just turn off the damn television. In fact don’t just turn it off, heave it in the dumpster and don’t buy another one (or take it to the recycling center if you want to save some space in the landfill). I’ve stated it before and I’ll do it again: television as it is currently used is nothing more than an ignorance generator; the more TV you watch the less you know.

Fortunately it's not all doom and gloom. As pervasive and relentless as the mass media monstrosity is alternatives do exist. Most every day I publish a selection of news headlines and links in The Daily Irritant. Links to major and minor news sources are listed on the same page too. Use these sources or go out find your own but whatever the case you'll really have to work at it to find an online news source even worse than the major media's television news pseudo-journalism. 09.04.06

Film Review: Juliet of the Spirits directed by Federico Fellini (1965). Juliet is a middle-aged woman whose personal life is thrown into turmoil by suspicions of her husband’s infidelity. Juliet subsequently finds herself struggling through a world of conflicting messages and moral rules all the while burdened by a past full of religious-morality baggage and a present filled with odd and unreliable people continually conferring poor examples and unsound advice. Troubled by intangible advice for her very tangible personal crisis, Juliet finds herself in a conflict zone between the way she thinks things ought to be and the way they actually are. Juliet eventually leaves her 'martyrs grill' behind and realizes she can only deal with her past and present on her own, achieving a new sense of freedom in the process.

Juliet of the Spirits has the usual colorful Fellini visual imagery as well as the blurring between fantasy and reality; it’s a film that carefully creates the mood and view of the personal world that revolves around the main character. Although the ending is inconclusive concerning the primary event of concern in the film, Juliet’s marriage, a main theme of escaping the burdens of the past is still carried through - many of life’s external problems have to first be dealt with internally. Some of it is strange, some is funny, but it’s a worthwhile movie to watch if simply for the odd and uninhibited characters as well as the striking visual qualities of the realm they inhabit. 23.01.05

Winged Migration (2001) is a movie for observers of nature or anyone who wants to see a fascinating film with a different perspective. It conveys the struggles of many different kinds of birds as they migrate across the globe set against some stunning backgrounds From Antarctica to Arizona.

Part of the idea behind the film is to view things from the perspective of a bird as they travel but getting to know the birds also means respecting them and also gaining an understanding of what they go through and how they fit into the larger ecosystem and life in general. The film clearly conveys the effort that the birds put into their travels and the difficulties they face and if one bird gets injured or falls sick on the journey the others cannot wait they must go on in order for the group, and the cycle of migration itself, to perpetuate.

Winged Migration is a French production and was directed by Jacques Cluzaud and Jacques Perrin. The main film has a soundtrack and narration in English while the other commentary portions on the DVD are French with English subtitles. Winged Migration is an excellent film; the DVD is definitely worth viewing for the movie alone but its also loaded with extra features that explain how the birds were acclimated to people, the aircraft camera platforms used, the concept behind the film and so on. 01.05.04

Finding perspective in a mad world: a film review of Dr. Strangelove Or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb,  by Stanley Kubrick, 1964, DVD version.

Dr. Strangelove is an especially scary movie for anyone familiar with the military systems that were parodied in the film because of the startlingly accurate portrayal and even more disturbing was the credibility of the storyline itself! It took so little to do so much, one order and everything is nuked.

Dr. Strangelove was made in the missile era but the story it was based on was written earlier during the age of the strategic bomber. At this time in the 1950s America had built a lead on the Soviets after buying into Soviet propaganda and believing in a ‘bomber gap’; hey it was an easy myth for them to believe! Many Generals in the Pentagon, and even many politicians, actually considered using a pre-emptive nuclear ‘decapitation’ strike on the Soviet regime to ‘prevent’ a war in the future that would presumably occur on less advantageous terms. Of course the reasoning was completely absurd as so poignantly characterized by Dr. Strangelove himself and the shortsighted, ethically bankrupt think-tank mentality that he represented. But no one questioned it because of the stakes involved in this Cold War competition, and besides it was a job and it kept everyone busy even if it meant being under a chronic threat of mass-extermination, and the concept was framed using the excuse of ideology.

But although close calls were astonishingly frequent, pre-emptive nuclear war did not occur. Then came the missile-gap. The Soviets realized that one advantage they could leverage was rocket technology and so they beat everyone else into space. The Americans shuddered realizing that a Sputnik whizzing by overhead today could very well be a hydrogen bomb tomorrow. Answer? Build missiles! The consequence was that the time between launch initiation and detonation of a nuclear weapon shrank from the comfy several hours of a bomber run, as featured in Dr. Strangelove, to a rather tight 30 minutes or so for an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). And of course missiles and bombers weren’t enough because, hey, what if those commies nuked our airfields and our missile silos, we’d be defenseless! Answer: build missile-launching submarines! And again the time shrank by about half, so nuclear oblivion was only about 15 minutes or so away during the latter part of the Cold War.

This nuclear warfare system was called the Triad, for obvious reasons, and although an Air Force bomber wing most likely could never have gone rogue like in Dr. Strangelove, an SSBN submarine captain does have complete autonomy in launching a nuclear strike because it’s assumed by the war planners that communications would most likely be lost. In other words Dr. Strangelove could have been rewritten in the 1980s with a lurking SSBN submarine substituted for a lumbering B-52 and the plot would have been even more credible than before.

I think the primary theme of the movie was about a sense of proportion and trying to find a sane perspective in a mad system, about not getting so trapped in your own little job that you forget the big picture. For instance, study the scenes of the B-52 crew and how they go about their individual tasks with such grim efficiency yet not thinking about what it is they're actually working to do – to drop hydrogen bombs on another country and initiate a worldwide thermonuclear conflagration!

Ignoring the horrific consequences of an act is made possible by this compartmentalization effect. Nobody would really push that button knowing the loss to themselves and everyone else that would ensue, but a system can be put in place that breaks up that button-pushing and breaks up the responsibility so that it nonetheless still occurs but no single person is truly driving it. General Ripper goes to war under 'Peace is our Profession' bannerThis was the essence of the doomsday machinery of nuclear war, in order to have a robust command and control element, responsibility for launching a nuclear attack had to be divided up and this inevitably created the potential for a rogue nut to start a war like the character General Jack Ripper did. Many people wisely realized that it was only a matter of time before an irreconcilable ‘error’ occurred in this system and an unstoppable nuclear holocaust ensued.

On a technical level Dr. Strangelove looks too much like a very old movie and the black and white is very low contrast, it really needs a special edition or some kind of enhancement to brighten the print. The special effects are very primitive and the whole movie seems low budget, and probably was, but the story and the acting are so superior to the average that it’s easy to overlook the technical flaws and just enjoy a funny and thought provoking film.

Past & Present in Perspective

The Cold War can be easily equated to the ‘modern’ world whereas the post-Cold War era of today is akin to the ‘post-modern’ world. The Cold War was a world of black and white, of a bipolar reality easy to position oneself inside but impossible to avoid, no safe places existed. One was either for the Soviets (communism) or for the Americans (democracy) and even if you tried to be a neutral you’d still end up getting fried to a crisp along with everyone else in a nuclear exchange anyway. Life in the modern world may have lacked signposts but it was quite simple nonetheless, so conforming and fitting in was easy to do, and of course now the nostalgia for the (imagined) simplicity of ‘traditional’ 1950s idyllic reality is stronger than ever. In actuality the Cold War was an exceedingly dangerous time period because nuclear oblivion was never more than 30 minutes away - the time it takes for an ICBM missile to streak through the sky and detonate over a major city on the other side of the world.

The post-Cold War era is multi-polar one full of multiple signposts and messages, various factions and sects all competing for attention and power which inexorably leads to confusion where simplicity existed before, and nihilism where jingoism and blind faith reigned unchallenged previously. So instead of just being black and white the post-modern has shades of gray and this makes escape and independent self-definition possible where it was not before. Unfortunately as we’ve found, this takes an inordinate amount of effort not just to define oneself but to maintain that character in the face of chronic assaults and challenges.

Today if a nuclear weapon were to be used it would only affect a localized region because global war of the Cold War type is no longer imperative. So although the post-modern world is less stable and more confusing than the modern world it's more localized and also offers much greater opportunities to map out superior paths and seek out rewarding opportunities. The confusion and multicentric nature of the post-modern world we inhabit today looks to be around for the foreseeable future, probably at least as long as the Cold War lasted. 04.03.04

Review of the Movie Naqoyqatsi (2002) & Analysis

The title is an interpretation of a Hopi word meaning ‘war as a way of life’ and is the third of a trilogy that includes Koyaanisqatsi (1983) and Powaqqatsi (1988). Naqoyqatsi is not a film that can be reviewed in the traditional sense as typically criticized elements such as quality of dialogue or acting proficiency are inapplicable. Naqoyqatsi does mesh well with the previous two films in the series but is also much more visually distorted than the previous two due to the digital image manipulation used to create the hi-tech, ‘brave new world’ impact of the film. Naqoyqatsi  is a very interesting movie but the cinematic qualities can’t really be described, only experienced.

Naqoyqatsi is a smashing good filmThe themes conveyed in Naqoyqatsi do lend themselves to discussion however. I think the primary theme is the difficulty of defining what is real in the modern world and in this regard the public becomes so confused that their exploitation and manipulation by authorities is made all the more simple. The complicity of the mass media in distorting and conveying a skewed reality is a major element in Naqoyqatsi. In this post-modern existence determining the specious from the critical becomes increasingly difficult, largely due to the volume but also the complexity of information continually bombarding us all. Eventually context is eroded and the personal depth of reality shrinks to an absolute metaphysical minimum, solipsism. In the end everything becomes difficult to define, hazy, we become singular entities, detached atoms floating in clouds as the post-modern vision concludes in nihilism. 03.02.04

Given the uniqueness of this trilogy I don't have any criticisms of the technical or cinematic qualities of the film, I think it's fairly consistent and holds together well. The only complaint I have is with the DVD itself which was over-priced for a typical DVD and doesn't even have any liner notes inside - just a plastic case and a disc - my aren't we generous? And I wonder why people pirate? Yeah, the distributor, Buena Vista/Disney, is definitely gouging the market; dirtbags. 04.03.04


Anymore we use the term war almost reflexively: ‘war on drugs’, ‘war on cancer’, ‘war on terrorism’, war on everything. War is just another word for competition without pity. Human nature and all life exists within a milieu of competition. But the severity of competition rises in proportion to several factors such as increased population density and scarcity of critical resources, among other things. Thus as both of these factors have become more prominent in modern life, so has competition increased to the point that the modern existence is characterized by a perpetual series of wars because so little room is left for forgiveness and generosity.

Over time different methods of winning the wars for human survival have emerged. Sacrificing individual identity for that of a larger group is one notable method. A parade of varying religions, ideologies and beliefs as well as collections of habit and tradition that form cultures, all serve to bind individuals into collectives. Although the gains of the collective effort are often conferred upon the individual the downside to self-sacrifice is the loss of control over personal destiny as power is granted to the leaders of the collective. Further, the failure of the collective always impinges upon the well-being of the individuals.

The post-modern dilemma is a testament to the struggle to find meaning where none exists and to deal with our own self-created chaos generated by frantic technological development devoid of any holistic aim or respect for consequences. Human effort has succeeded in creating a new environment that is unavoidably regulated by natural laws but designed to serve human desires. Ultimately we must realize that the two are not compatible, that what we want is often not what we need and that our artificial environment is surprisingly incompatible with our biological needs. 08.02.04

When Bad is Good

As long as Hollywood has been churning out movies they've been churning out crappy ones. Very often the bad movies are at least as entertaining as the good ones and sometimes far, far more. Now 'good' and 'bad' are relative terms, values attained through comparison, and the larger the pool of material used to draw the comparison the more accurate the conclusion becomes. In other words stating, Gigli is the worst movie of 2003 is not especially meaningful if most of the other movies this year are equally appalling. However, stating that Gigli is the worst movie in 80 years of film would have a much deeper impact, wouldn't it? But if one made such a wild accusation they would demonstrate a yawning lack of historical references to judge from, as well as being flat out wrong, oh so wrong.

So having defined 'good' and 'bad' in general terms, I'm now going to go further and try to define good and bad in the sense of a movie. This would seem to be a challenging task given the vast disparity of what people consider a good movie as well as the different criteria which can be used to measure a movies quality. But actually it's not that complicated because we already know that many movie viewers have little if any awareness of films beyond the immediate time-frame, partly because of poor public memory and partly because of the films themselves which are so easy to forget, being primarily all visual impact and no intellectual substance.

A bad or a good movie is determined by the audiences expectations of the film. This is why no one can intentionally set out to make the 'worst film ever' and succeed. This is why the most fun 'bad' movies are the ones with the highest initial expectations and why Ed Wood Jr. (Plan 9 From Outer Space, 1959) is, arguably, the pinnacle of this 'bad is good' genre because he honestly set out to make good, meaningful movies but still failed (and filmed) every step of the way. Woe to the fools that actually do try to make bad movies as they only produce wholly lame, painfully un-entertaining disasters. I mean, take Spaceballs (1987), in fact - please take it. Holy hell, you'd have to be really stoned to see that as a fun movie.

Movie-makers intent + audience expectations versus final product = film value

In order for anyone to gain anything remotely resembling an accurate idea of a movie's quality in proper context they have to at least have a chronologically diverse exposure to film, and geographic diversity also helps. Professional movie critics are supposed to have this sort of experience, and some do, but most are just freelance writers who get paid based upon the literary appeal of their work and not the accuracy of their criticism.

That's the great thing about not being paid to write, you can be as outrageous as you want and no one can fire you!

Every film-viewer should try to be not just a critic, but an educated critic. The public should demand more for the surprisingly high expense they pay to be entertained, or in very rare cases, intellectually or emotionally challenged in some way. Obviously nobody has seen every film made or understands every technical aspect and detail of film-making, and no one should have to; in order to be a useful critic you just have to broaden the pool of references as much as possible. The easiest way to do this is just to watch old movies and  focus on genres that you like.

The sci-fi genre in the fifties was arguably about as low as you can go, at least superficially, in the vast majority of the products which reached the screen. Yet actually the simplest part - the script-writing, was surprisingly well done. This is especially ironic considering the stunningly awful tripe gushing from the theater screens today. And this is an interesting event because despite the multi-million dollar budgets and vast technical capabilities of modern film-making, the simplest parts of the film seem to have the lowest quality now.

Hollywood seems to want their movies as big, loud and dumb as they can possibly be.

The script is about the simplest and most important part to the movie but anymore it's been sacrificed to the god of visual flash, and a completely unnecessary sacrifice it is. Take Star Wars Attack of the Clones (2002) a movie that by all accounts had everything going for it, years of development, the absolute best technology and one of the most talented directors in the business. Yet the dialogue was so awful as to be literally jaw-dropping in it's ludicrousness - and I was not the only one laughing in the theater. Star Wars Phantom Menace (1999) is considered to be even worse. Now Phantom Planet of 1961, that was about as entertaining and probably could have been filmed from the catering budget for the Menace set. Not only that but you can buy the DVD for less than the cost of the theater ticket (assuming Menace was still showing) - now that's entertainment!

Budget size is irrelevant to a film's entertainment quality.

Today we don't see too many boom-mikes at the top of the screen anymore or scratches on the film-negative to depict lightning bolts and ray-guns, but the end-result is not appreciably more entertaining despite these technical improvements and vast sums of money spent on production. So if a movie is to be judged by its entertainment value we'd have to admit that some of the old, 'bad' movies are easily the superior to today's blockbusters.

So what is the worst movie ever made? An unofficial award is actually given out to these bad movies called the Golden Turkey award. Plan 9 (see above) won the top place but not for its failings but rather its fame. Easily even worse is Robot Monster (1953), but is it really the worst movie ever made? Well it certainly pisses off the audience and features infanticide (twice). It reportedly had a budget of $16,000 and after the film's debut the director tried to kill himself. Alas he proved equally unsuccessful at suicide and was left with no other choice (I assume) than to keep making movies.

More contemporary colossal failures in this genre include Lost in Space (1998) and Starship Troopers (1997) but have not been rated by the author who, incidentally, harbors no intention of doing so because that would require me to watch them.

  • Oldest worst movie I know of: the unwatchable Maniac (1934). Don't even bother.

  • Oldest good movie I know of - Metropolis by Fritz Lang (1926).

  • A few of the best movies ever made? See the Holology Bibliography.

And finally the worst, worst movie ever made (and theatrically released)? Easy, The Creeping Terror (1964) Watch it you can (and dare)! Acting, editing, lighting, and especially the sound - every aspect is a total failure. This movie is so low-grade even the dialogue is nonexistent, it's just narration, why? The sound reel fell into Lake Tahoe never to be seen again, and had to be completely re-done at the last minute. 03.08.03

See also: Holology Media Content Ratings Issue

Movie review: Zardoz (1974) on DVD

Zardoz (1974) is a fantastic, outrageous film that perfectly distills so much philosophy! Succinctly, it's about an aberrant intellect in the future that learns to read and subsequently has a revelatory discovery concerning the true nature of (their) God. Angry, he concocts a plan to defeat God and establishment. The actual movie is more complex and nuanced of course as well as being heavily symbolic, mesmerizing  and just plain unnerving at moments.

"Would you kill God?"

Zardoz: Giving the gift of deathI think the overall theme is both nihilistic and Nietzschian because it's about killing God(s). All gods are built to create stability but that stability inevitably descends into stagnation, an inability to adjust, and eventually boredom, suicide, death or even an artificial situation worse than death. This situation, although intentionally created to fulfill a human desire for safety and peace, nevertheless negates the ability to adapt to new circumstances, improve or change which is the essence of evolution. Positive progress is dependent upon the destruction of God and gods, regardless of the reason. The more we try to defeat this need, the more it defeats us.

"Truth or revenge?!"

If I had to guess at the reason for its poor reception way back in 1974 it was probably because the movie itself is a bit odd, although so were a lot of 70s Sci-fi films; or perhaps because Sean Connery plays in an unexpected role. But the ending is neat too, we see that's the order of life, that's all it is, just a mark, a hand print on the cave wall. 13.02.03

Fashionable Dictatorship
(clothing as control)

Rebel Fashion Statement

What's the story on the standard issue U$ Army field jacket Osama's always wearing? Nobody mentions it but it's far too obvious to be just coincidence. And I don't think he's just wearing it to stay warm. Considering how often he's appeared on TV with it he must be trying to convey a message, to Americans? Perhaps bin Laden got the jacket from the CIA back when he was a freedom fighter and it's his subtle reminder to his former supporters? Otherwise it's just a fashion statement; now debuting - the 21st centuries answer to the Mao jacket and Che's beret. Pick one up today and be the coolest rebel on the block! 03.11.01

Still Life With Beer Can


Dada is Deada

I encountered an example of Jasper Johns artwork referred to as "neo-dadaism". After the brief initial laugh it actually seemed more dangerous than just error. Now I've always interpreted dada as an effort to break down much of the accumulated barriers limiting artistic creativity with associated standards and requirements restricting the achievement of that estimable label called 'art'. This included schooling and training which made artists an elite, and their product an elitist result of carefully cultivated classical values.

Dada was a rejection of these standards and limitations that were stoically imposed upon social perceptions of artwork and artists. The point was to divest society from a lot of elitist rules that were being abused to ostracize legitimate talent. Talent that languished for lack of that official stamp of approval, that belonged to the wrong socio-economic class, or basically anything that didn't fit within the boundaries of orthodox rules.

By taking non-art and presenting it as art, dada was trivializing the artistic creation, making it accessible to the public as well allowing them to create art themselves. A democratization of art if one prefers the term. Elements of the positive were gained and certain elements of the positive were also lost in this transition to modernity. But this is history, this is period and era that can only be understood and valued within chronological context.

Dada isn't a genre that can be modified to fit another era. It happened, it's over, give it up, there is nothing left to rebel against, art has already been there done that; those classical rules have long since been buried. In furtive effort to rehash the past we see art like Jasper Johns being treated as the contradiction, the rebellion just for its own sake, the revolution is its own genre - how debasing, how late 20th century! An ironic debasement of debasement or what? "Neo-dadaism" would be like a joke told for the 10th time to the same audience, it's just not funny anymore, it's self-negated by it's very ubiquity. And even that element of artistic saturation has already been done to death. If the artist wishes to innovate in this vein they'll clearly need to try much harder. 15.08.01

Spielberg & Kubrick two ways to make a film and a dollar

Here we have a remarkable contrast between two popular filmmakers that produced very different products with very different styles although they had similarities in their personal backgrounds. Spielberg's films are replete with hollow stereotypes and vapid symbolism, tied together with flashy special effects, and just like a fireworks display it looks pretty for a few seconds then burns up and disappears from the mind. Kubrick on the other hand took time and effort to make quality, even visionary films, that remain evocative and intriguing decades later, example the resilience of 2001 A Space Odyssey.

The difference, and subsequent appeal, of Kubrick's films is that they contain a meaning, they have substance and even a message. Spielberg's films have no meaning and no message, they're completely hollow cheap entertainment often intended as vehicles for sequels and box office profits. Weird little alien lands, befriends and leaves, shark terrorizes sleepy coast and escapes for the sequel(s). Dinosaurs run amok and take over island. The only time Spielberg produces concise message is to spew out blatant propaganda flicks like Schindler's List. Yet when Kubrick got political, as in Dr. Strangelove, he gave it an edge, he made it funny and consequently actually a provocative, enjoyable film to see.

Spielberg's movies are riddled with stereotypes, tired clichés and plastic players, they insult intelligence and play to an insipid audience. Kubrick pushed the edge and used symbolism and imagery to fully deliver the power of the subjective cinema to inspire and provoke and audience to shed complacency and think for a few moments. Unlike Spielberg who uses Tom Cruise like a punch-press, Kubrick used lesser known actors to prevent a distracting screen presence, because in a quality film the actors are secondary to the image and the cinematic presentation. Hollywood and Spielberg, it's narcissistic crown prince, believe the opposite, that a big name is primary to a film and monetary success, because only that will lure an audience into buying overpriced tickets for their latest hackneyed claptrap.

Kubrick is lesser known, enigmatic, an eccentric and probably a genius. Kubrick worked outside the self-congratulatory, narcissistic world of Hollywood. But Spielberg is an omnipresent face even at every awards ceremony and Hollywood event, like stink on a monkey. Spielberg projects an image of family-man normalcy and strives for popularity and public approval, which is not very tough to do with all the help from his inside associations, media buddies, and politico power-whore sycophants.

A quality film will always make money, maybe not within the first two week opening (gasp!) but will undoubtedly over time if it's well made and something people enjoy viewing. Bottom line: Hollywood, and everything associated with it, is dirt - don't get in on you. 01.07.01

Hollywood Kills

Monolithic monstrosities: the Soviet Central Committee, just as the dark-ages European Church, dominated the economy and hijacked free artistic expression by disbursing funds only to approved (self-glorifying) channels. Interesting how the Soviets used icons so heavily, neatly paralleling the Renaissance with its Church mind-monopoly. The Soviets had Marx and Lenin, the Church had Christ and Mother Mary. The faces were different but the intent was the same, to create easily understood hero-idol/symbols for the masses to rally around. Quality of art in both cases was irrelevant but quantity was paramount. 28.09.00

Food of the Oxymorons (with fries)


Cultural Imperialism

The 'John Frum' cargo cults of Melanesia are an astounding depiction of the effects that imported culture has on native traditions, and the continuous struggle between tradition and technological progress. It's a story almost too bizarre to believe.

Like an alien invasion the American military moved into the remote Pacific islands to occupy them for bases during W.W.II. ... and one day the Americans descended from the sky bringing aircraft, ships, boxes, food, clothes, money, radios, guns, things that the islanders had never known of and couldn't even imagine! And then a few year later it all left just as suddenly, save a few relics and some garbage. The cargo cults sprang up as a result of this cultural infection. They mimicked the devices they had seen, making wooden copies of rifles, radios out of pots and rope, idolizing dollar bills and photographs. Americans became gods and their prosperity became something that the islanders were to inherit; all they had to do was parade around acting like American soldiers and soon the giant metal ship will land and bring heaven along with it!

From the simple to the arcane, no aspect of the traditional lifestyle has been left unaffected. Change in diet causes obesity, alcohol and smoking shortens life-spans, western clothing, television, radio and education originally imported by the American military machine and later finished with the aid of tourism and media encroachment. Christianity brought by missionaries predated the military but serves to cap off the obliteration of native culture. Although the lifestyles were rudimentary, they worked well; and although substance in scope that really meant it was just population and resource sustainable. The Polynesian's lived in a paradise of gentle climate, plenty of rain for freshwater, adequate food, a place where hard work consisted of walking into your front yard and picking up a few coconuts, or spearing a few fish for lunch. With the arrival of much more advanced American culture they now suffer from obesity, alcoholism, violence, environmental destruction, and previously unimaginable concepts such as unemployment.

It seems like quite a twisted irony when stable cultures actually want to destroy themselves by adopting an antithetic foreign culture. But it's not so much that American culture is a conquering virus as it's the universal human nature to be wealthy, and the most blatant symbols of wealth are physical possessions. The Yap islander's money consists of giant stone wheels, so heavy they don't even move them, but that demonstrates the concept here, wealth is best when it's an ostentatious display! The Americans had power, they had machines and weapons, to the native islanders they seemed like omnipotent gods that never did any work.

The ease at which forces can be manipulated by the machine-culture belies the slavery that's actually imposed upon the creators.

American culture, by creating the supra-structures that form our society, individuality and the liberty that goes along with it, are sacrificed for amorphous collective goals. The islanders didn't see the unemployment, the diseases, the chronic social friction, the grinding poverty, mental illness, the obliteration of spirit and a sense of personal purpose and identity within society that every living person needs to survive as much as food, air and shelter.

Corporate law, tax codes, rules and details, the plethora of exemptions and exceptions, the trivialities and shading that covers every rule and law of daily life. These social constructs as they become increasingly regimented and complex leave the average person feeling isolated and confused. Simple concepts such as cause and effect, motive and intent become muddled. Getting food no longer means catching a fish for the meal tonight or digging up some taro root to store for the day after tomorrow - it means punching the clock for 40 hours a week to get your paycheck at the end of the month replete with deductions, taxes, union fees, donations and insurance while trying to get through rush hour twice a day to watch newsreaders talk about the latest corporate takeover and most recent mass shooting.

Material goods and technology don't arrive tax free on our doorsteps. Our maniacal pursuit of technological gains has turned us into atoms in a vapid monoculture where nothing makes sense because it doesn't function according to human values but according to the values of the structure itself. The survival of the system takes precedence over that of the individual. For example, if a CEO of a corporation is suddenly stricken by pangs of guilt over the deaths and pollution his company has caused and decides to make sufficient financial reparations and change in conduct, he will either a) bankrupt the company and put himself out of business only to make room for a more 'profitable' corporation who doesn't do nice things or b) get fired by his shareholders the moment he even speaks an 'uncompetitive' thought.

Until this trend towards collective meta-structures without inclusion of elemental human needs is reversed, the inevitable consequences we've already experienced will only become more insidious and pervasive. A prosperous economy no longer means a prosperous population. All the apparent technological and economic gains need to be rectified against the damage to human community. As our advanced meta-structures grow they do so at the expense of individuality and traditional cultural structures. Not that it must be that way just that it's so much easier to worry about the pollution later. Unfortunately some damage can never be undone. 09.19.00 & 20.06.09


2000 Once I was perusing the shelves of one of the sad-sack Universities I've had the misfortune to be part of, and quite by accident I found an interesting book. Of course this might not seem that unusual, but actually finding anything remotely useful, intellectually stimulating or vaguely intriguing is pretty much a challenge unto itself at this [bad name deleted] University library. Anyway it was called Persuasive Images produced by the Hoover Institute, and since it was big and mostly pictures, who could refuse?

Persuasive Images is all propaganda posters and artwork mostly from WW I and WW II. According to the caption, one poster made by a Western European in artist in 1943 is titled "KULTUR-TERROR" and features a giant monster composed of all the typical aspects of American life. One arm has a money bag and a record, another a tommy-gun. One leg a blood stained bomb, another from a beauty queen. The head is a Klansmen's white hood and the body a bird cage with black dancers and the plaque 'Jitterbug - Triumph of America...'. And if that wasn't scary enough the American beast is busy stomping on the historic treasures of Europe - cathedrals and art museums ala Dresden or Monte Cassino, all while posing as the self-stated savior of European culture.

I'd like to have giant copies of 'Kultur-Terror' superimposed over a waving American Flag pasted onto highway billboards all over the country. If nothing else it would be fun just to watch the media and the Pavlovian populace having collective conniptions until they could pass a new law banning my billboards.

This is why the page is titled 'Kultur-Terror' and despite being over 50 years old the poster is the best visual typification I've yet seen of the run-amok nature of American culture, a bizarre and unhealthy beast with a narcotic like grip on Americans, and the world.

If Hollywood really wants to make some bucks and reach that ever-elusive lowest common denominator, they should just film paint drying and add commercials -- a three picture deal starring low paid no-one's but replete with eye-popping special effects and a Top 40 soundtrack. The audience may complain about the poor quality of the film(s) but like trained rodents they always come back again and again, plopping down another $8 because they have such asinine, tedious existences that the cinema is their most accessible (legal) escape from the perpetually droll monotony of their daily lives. The public has no scruples and no powers of discrimination because the media control the entire spectrum and defines both ends of good and bad. The audience will watch whatever garbage is shown, and pay for it too!


 Content & Design © Freydis
Updated: July, 2016
Created: 1999