In 1971, Gil Scott-Heron famously proclaimed that the revolution will not be televised. In 2020, we can definitively conclude that he was wrong. Not only will the revolution be televised, it will be livestreamed on Periscope, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. You will be forced to stay at home and self-quarantine, brother. You will be able to plug in, turn on and pig out on Uber eats and Doordash. Not only will you be able to lose yourself on skag, but all the other opoids being shipped in from China as well. You won’t need to skip out for beer during commercials because it’ll be delivered to your doorstep by Drizly. Because the new season of the revolution will be streaming on Netflix and you’re binge watching it with your nonbinary, polyamorous partner. The revolution will be delivered to you overnight by Amazon Prime. The revolution will show you leaked nude photos of J Law, Kim Kardashian, and Ariana Grande. The revolution will be brought to you by Hulu and Disney + and will feature the world’s first differently abled, queer, body positive, atheist Muslim POC superhero. The revolution will give your mouth, butt and abs sex appeal because you’ve been working out to Andrea Rogers’ xtend barre workout app. If it doesn’t make you look five pounds thinner, just use a better filter and post to Instagram. The revolution be viral. There will be lots of cute selfies and photo bombs. There will be pictures of George Floyd, Eric Garner and Michael Brown on instant replay and available as ringtones from Google Play. There will be slow motions and still lifes of AOC, Alyssa Milano, Shaun King, Rachel Dolezal and Jussie Smollett strolling through the streets of Ferguson wearing custom #BlackLivesMatter facemasks that they’ve been saving for just the proper occasion. Black Mirror, Westworld and The Walking Dead will no longer be so damn relevant because the real world surpasses the horror of these shows by several orders of magnitude. Women won’t care about whether Dick got down with Jane because Dick is her biggest patron on her Only Fans account. Black people will be looking for a brighter day because the revolution left their businesses looted and ransacked. The revolution will be hashtagged, contact traced, surveilled, scanned, barcoded, sanitized, searched, unmasked, leaked, deep faked, socially constructed and socially distant. There will be highlights on Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, The View, SNL, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Meet the Press. There won’t be pictures of Antifa throwing bricks or pipe bombs, but there will be photos of pro-2A citizens because those are the people you really have to worry about. There will be a powerful post by Billie Eilish and Greta Thunberg denouncing the usage of #AllLivesMatter and in support of veganism to combat the #ClimateCrisis. The theme song will be written by John Legend and Justin Timberlake and sung by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Lizzo. The revolution will be right back after a message about white privilege, white supremacy, and how white people just need to use their power to be better allies. You will have to worry about Alexa in your bedroom, a surveillance drone above your park, and robotic police dog in your neighborhood. The revolution will not go better with Coke, but it will go better with Pepsi. The revolution will not put you in the driver’s seat, but you can call an Uber. The revolution will be livestreamed, tweeted, posted, and retweeted. The revolution will be screencapped, brothers. Because nothing is live.
One of the ways you know that Marxism is a social engineering tool of global capitalism is seeing how it is implemented in burgeoning market economies. The coronation of Parasite by the Hollywood establishment can be seen as definitive proof that South Korea’s middle class is ripe for some bourgeois class warfare chic.
Capitalism in South Korea is so oppressive, our heroic proles must connive and grift their way into the good graces of some affluent dolts just to avoid living in their fumigated urban urinal. Apparently, Bong Joon-ho doesn’t just want us to overlook the criminality in the Kim family’s ingratiation of the Park family. He wants us to see Ki-taek’s bloody revenge and exile as heroic because the rich people they’ve exploited are so vapid and clueless, they deserved it. If you’re poor, you’re not bound to any moral standards if you’re getting cheddar from your bourgeoisie patrons. Sounds like a perfect recipe for destabilizing the underclass and fomenting divisions. Look how well it’s worked out here.
There are some interesting details which foreshadowed Coronachan and the coming biometric police state. The Kim family were able to get the Park family housekeeper fired by creating the illusion that Moon Gwang was suffering from tuberculosis. In their infinite suffering at the hands of the capitalist pig dogs, the Kims used their mobile devices to coordinate a way to inflame Moon Gwang’s allergies to peach fuzz, stage a photo at the hospital, and perfectly time her coughing fit so that it was visible to the Park family matriarch. It’s the kind of skill and coordination one would expect from people who were trained in psychological operations. Not necessarily a skill set you’re likely to encounter amongst the urban poor, but whatever man.
And of course, the pinnacle of economic achievement is when the proles embrace their own servitude by using the tools of mass surveillance against one another. When Moon Gwang discovers the Kim family’s con, she is able to subdue them by threatening to send the incriminating camera phone video to the Parks.
Also, it’s worth noting that the evidence of the Park family patriarch’s elitism and detachment was his revulsion to Ki-taek’s odor. This was the final indignity that set him off in the bloody climax. Bong Joon-ho seems to think this sentiment is the sole province of the out of touch upper class bourgeoisie, but this is also exactly what Peter Strzok said about Trump supporters in the declassified texts between him and Lisa Page. The ruling class attitude is certainly not defined exclusively by the size of your bank account.
Parasite is another example of a film whose merits as pure cinema make the editorial go down easier. Bong Joon-ho knows how to make a movie. It’s just unfortunate that he’s chosen to apply his gifts to the propagation of such a dubious message. Now, why aren’t the wokescolds giving him shit for the heinous crime of cultural appropriation of Native American headdresses? I guess it’s ok as long as it’s used to advance revolutionary goals.
The Netflix “documentary” is a dubious phenomenon and perhaps even an oxymoron. If Netflix’s partnership with the Obamas doesn’t send up a red flag over their institutional priorities, then I suppose you’re exactly the target demo for their products. That said, it doesn’t mean that they’re not well made or devoid of interesting content. As long as you go into it knowing you’re getting an approved narrative, there’s still value to be gleaned.
American Anarchist is William Powell’s look back on his manifesto of paramilitary sedition, The Anarchist Cookbook. The Cookbook has gained infamy for being an alleged inspiration for every atrocity from Columbine to the Oklahoma City bombing. In addition to its white hot revolutionary rhetoric, it has instructions for everything from homemade surveillance and explosives to hallucinogens and firearms. Charlie Siskel spends the entire film acting like some kind of puritanical grand inquisitor trying to extract penance and contrition from Powell.
What’s perhaps most interesting is that Charlie Siskel has assumed the mantle of the pious, reformed nu-Left of the post-Obama world. Where yesterday’s radicals openly embraced revolutionary violence, today’s version doesn’t necessarily need to resort those tactics anymore. They have institutional power. They’re running the universities, the media and Silicon Valley. And most importantly, they run all the major metropolitan areas. Sure, you’ve got some Bernie bros who like to larp as neo-Bolshevik “revolutionaries” in their local Antifa chapter. But now that Coronachan has been rolled out, the necessity for that kind of controlled opposition has likely run its course.
Speaking of controlled opposition, this brings me to my central thesis about Powell, the Cookbook and this film. I suggest that the Cookbook was intentionally released as a long range psychological operation in order to infiltrate and coopt opposition groups. If the subversion and psychological warfare deployed in other countries described by spooks like Miles Copeland Sr. are applicable to the dawn of the counterculture in the US, then it’s entirely reasonable that Powell’s book was part of that long range effort.
Why do I believe that? Because Powell fits the pattern we find in a significant majority of the academic, celebrity and revolutionary class. He is a child of the global establishment. His father, William Charles Powell, was director of the Press and Publications Division [emphasis mine] of the U.N. Office of Public Information. But he was rebelling against his father, you dumb conspiratard! Exactly. Rebellion against the establishment was and is the pathway to the eventual conquest of the establishment. Do you think for one minute that a stooge like Bernie Sanders was ever serious about his “revolution”? Of course not. But man! Did that shit ever go over like gangbusters with the kids! For two election cycles no less!
The two questions that were largely unexplored in the documentary were the Constitutionality of the Cookbook as well as its historical connection to the revolutionary ethos of the founders of the United States.
We now know beyond a shadow of doubt that the Left doesn’t give a single shit about the First Amendment. It applies to their unlimited exercise of speech, but the rest of us can pound sand. Anyone who has a rudimentary knowledge of the 60’s knows that the sanctity of free speech was at the center of the Left’s civil disobedience crusade. If we’re to adopt the naive assumption that the Bill of Rights is still universal and inviolable and Marbury v. Madison is a legitimate decision, then the SCOTUS precedent regarding the 1A we must honor is the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision. Is The Anarchist Cookbook “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” or is it “likely to incite or produce such action”?
Good question. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but it seems like it is.
However, if we take the case that the Cookbook is unconstitutional, then doesn’t that put us at odds with the revolutionary ethos of the Declaration of Independence itself? Isn’t an instruction manual culled from military field manuals exactly the kind of material to which your citizens are entitled if “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish” a tyrannical government?
Another good question. It seems like it is.
It also casts doubt on a purely libertarian worldview which places negative liberty as the highest virtue. There’s simply nothing that binds anyone to the Non-Aggression Principle when generic liberty is placed at the apex of the value scale. Objective moral truth and virtue must be paramount.
So if we have material that’s potentially unconstitutional, yet at the same time, completely consistent with the revolutionary ethos of the country’s foundation, what appeal remains for the paleoconservative, reactionary, or run of the mill law and order civic nationalist?
Even if there is a proper secular response to this question, I suspect we’re past the point of having a mature discussion about it in the political arena.
The Trump presidency has precipitated a period of massive upheaval and transformation in the progressive establishment. Setting aside the spasms of selective outrage, acts of political sabotage and the reflexive posture of juvenile recalcitrance that define its outward manifestation, one of the most significant developments of the past few years has been the public deposition and crucifixion of one of its most revered patron saints: Harvey Weinstein. Woke revisionists will cast him down the memory hole as a relic of a bygone era, but there is simply no denying the vaunted position he once held in the progressive power structure. Measured in Hollywood terms, he was nothing short of a King Midas. When his name was invoked by the most admired celebrities at every awards ceremony, it was spoken with gushing praise, gratitude and affection. If it weren’t on the Obama White House archive channel, there’s little doubt in my mind that YouTube’s content monitors would scrub every last bit of footage of that time Michelle Obama publicly thanked him and called him a “wonderful human being” in 2013.
The story of the downfall of Harvey Weinstein is fascinating for a number of reasons. Not the least of which being that Hollywood celebrities enjoy a tacit immunity from public scrutiny and an unearned mantle of moral authority. Hollywood never hesitates to arouse moral indignation with its films, shows and documentaries, but it never seems to train its camera eye inwards. They’ll have us believe that the real predators, hypocrites, racists, dumbshits and deceivers are out there in flyover country wearing MAGA hats or are simply white men who have conservative views. Never the woke beautiful people who wear Versace on the red carpet and gush over Billy Porter’s gender neutral outfit. LOL. As if, amirite?! While the feminist wing of the woke intelligentsia has been ginning up outrage over sexual assault on college campuses for years, sexual predation in Hollywood wasn’t even part of the public discourse prior to Harveygate. Given all these things, you’d think that Ronan Farrow’s account of his attempt to bring the Harvey Weinstein story into the light, Catch and Kill, would be one of the most important pieces of investigative journalism in the modern era.
It may be, but there are reasons to be suspicious of it as well.
Since the Weinstein revelations have come to light, Hollywood and the progressive establishment have adopted a very strident posture of would-be piety and puritanism around the issue of sexual assault. Female celebrities virtue signal their manufactured solidarity with matching gowns while the men dutifully don their #TimesUp pin on their lapels. The woke Twitter brigade immediately went to work deploying facile hashtag slogans like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen. In other words, hashtag slogans that are meant to be construed in one narrow rigidly politicized niche. As the current indifference towards Tara Reade’s allegations amply demonstrates, allegations of sexual assault are to be accorded automatic credibility except if the perpetrator is a Democrat.
You are a fraud. This is about holding the media accountable. You go after Trump & Kavanaugh saying Believe Victims, you are a lie. You have always been a lie. The corrupt DNC is in on the smear job of Tara Reade, so are you. SHAME https://t.co/B7NHK4k09K
While one would hope that people like Rose McGowan, Annabella Sciorra, Mira Sorvino and the numerous others who’ve suffered from Weinstein’s predatory behavior would take some kind of comfort in his conviction, the Hollywood establishment has weaponized Weinstein’s downfall in a way that feels completely calculated. Herein lies my fundamental beef with Farrow’s account. Something about it smells fishy.
Though Farrow certainly deserves credit for bringing this story to light, we must first consider that he is not a politically neutral actor nor is he an outsider who’s trying to bring the whole system crashing down. Farrow is a progressive establishmentarian through and through. Besides his elite pedigree, he worked in the State Department under Hillary Clinton. Specifically, under the tutelage of Richard Holbrooke and CIA veteran, Frank Archibald. He is engaged to former Obama speechwriter, Jon Lovett. His former employer, NBC, is known mostly for its cozy relationship to the national security complex. When one takes into account the various voices throughout the network, they can hardly be considered an unbiased platform when it comes to their reporting.
With credentials like these, one must consider the possibility that he is a controlled asset and this entire affair is and has been stage managed to some extent to serve a larger agenda. Specifically, to propagandize the media establishment itself as a self-policing entity. As a person who is intimately familiar with the tactics of the progressive establishment, one of ways they maintain ideological fidelity is by using journalism as a limited hangout. First and foremost, they are able to normalize corruption and deviant behavior within their own ranks. Second, they are able to affect a pretense of transparency and reform while casting aspersions on the political opposition. By selectively exposing and purging the corruption within their own ranks, they are able to maintain a posture of self-reflection and resume the daily business of opportunistically politicized outrage. Farrow proves himself exceptionally skillful at this task throughout the book.
Farrow tips his hand early on. He begins by rehearsing the manufactured outrage of now infamous Billy Bush/Trump exchange that was spiked by Farrow’s employer, NBC. Farrow describes this fumble as a loss of “one of the most important election stories in a generation”. (p. 6) Right away, Farrow has poisoned the well in two key ways. He reinforces what is now considered definitive proof of Trump’s moral turpitude while he simultaneously presents NBC’s journalistic malpractice as equal opportunity. We’re to believe that the top brass of NBCUniversal were just as skittish about going after Trump as they were a powerful progressive like Harvey Weinstein. Sure, Ronan.
The pattern continues throughout the book. Events are framed in such a way as to subtly reinforce progressive articles of faith. Every good story needs villains, and aside from Weinstein himself, Farrow sets up Phil Griffin and Noah Oppenheim as the unscrupulous stooges who were instrumental in spiking his story. While I don’t dispute that this is consistent with factual record, it is awfully convenient that the anecdotes Farrow chooses to use to illustrate their dubious moral character correspond perfectly with standard progressive bromides. Griffin has no compunction about airing a selectively edited segment with Gwen Stefani which made her sound ambiguous on vaccines (pgs. 176-177). Can’t have the proles getting any weird notions about vaccines, can we? But how about that dirty Phil Griffin? Imagine him being so cavalier as to permit a selectively edited clip of Gwen Stefani to air which might give people a….God forbid….different opinion on vaccinations. What a science hating degenerate. This is NBC not Infowars, Phil! The last thing we need right now anti-vaccine propaganda!
Farrow offers up another story about Noah Oppenheim which casts him in an equally dubious light. In Oppenheim’s case, it’s even worse because as writer for the Harvard Crimson, he had the temerity to…..wait for it…..mock feminists. The horror. What a terrible piece of shit, that Noah Oppenheim. Clearly, someone who mocks feminists would be exactly the kind of misogynistic dirtbag who would spike a story which exposed a serial predator like Harvey Weinstein. Only bad people mock feminists. Very bad. Bad Noah Oppenheim.
The ultimate destruction of Farrow’s credibility is found on page 19. When describing the collusive relationship between Dylan Howard, The National Enquirer and Donald Trump, Farrow weaves together a patchwork of references which paint the perennial cliché that political conservatism is the sole province of sensationalism, corruption and unhinged conspiracy mongering. There’s a safe containing secret dirt on Trump. There’s a conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father’s link to the JFK assassination which was purportedly advanced by Roger Stone. And there are those “sycophantic” headlines which painted Trump favorably and highlight Hillary Clinton’s “supposed treachery”. Because the media establishment are never sycophants when it comes to progressive politicians. Right, Ronan?
Got that, conservatards? Her supposed treachery. The predations of Harvey Weinstein would never have come to light if not for the fearless reporting of Ronan Farrow, but somehow, this allegedly unbiased alumnus of Hillary Clinton’s State Department didn’t have an ounce of curiosity around his former boss. Either that, or we’re to take his claim at face value because he’s obviously a brave and scrupulous man. She did ostracize him for pursuing this story, after all. I mean, he believed Meryl Streep when she claimed that she had no knowledge of Harvey’s predations. Meryl was totally oblivious.
Despite the book’s presumed focus on the Weinstein revelations, Farrow revisits this entire guilt by association tactic by revisiting Dylan Howard and his loyalty to Trump. The title of the book is a reference to the manner in which publications would buy a story only to bury it. Farrow has the absolute gall to assert that the Enquirer is uniquely guilty of spiking unfavorable coverage of Trump in order to sway an election. As if Silicon Valley, the entire mainstream media complex, academia and Hollywood weren’t all in the tank for one party. What a joke.
There are other reasons to believe that this book is a stage managed psyop and a highly refined piece of propaganda. Weinstein hired agents from Black Cube, a private intelligence firm which employed former Mossad operatives. Farrow eventually received help from a Deep Throat-style informant from within the agency who leaked the details of Black Cube’s contract with Harvey Weinstein. Their assignment was to prevent the release of Farrow’s piece and any subsequent harm to Weinstein’s reputation. Because private intelligence operations often operate outside the law, and their assignment from Harvey Weinstein was both illegal and amoral, it sure makes Black Cube, and private intelligence agencies in general, seem like pretty bad actors.
Farrow poisons the well even further by recounting the efforts of Black Cube operatives working on behalf of the……wait for it…….TRUMP ADMINISTRATION to spike the Iran nuclear deal that was struck by the angelic Obama administration. So remember, proles. Just because this makes Harvey Weinstein and his progressive cohorts look really bad, always remember that there are people that prop up these dirtbags who are even worse. After all, they also work for Blumpffft.
But wait! Isn’t it true that Ronan Farrow got help from a Black Cube informant? They can’t be all that bad if they helped brave and intrepid Ronan Farrow. If it weren’t for Sleeper1973, we might never have known the extent of Weinstein’s misdeeds!
This is exactly why I believe this book is ultimately a sophisticated piece of propaganda. As Anthony Sutton and numerous others have revealed, intelligence operatives thrive precisely because they are able to pit groups against one another through carefully controlled dialectics. Through the deliberate deployment of a left/right paradigm in perpetual conflict, intelligence operatives are able to manipulate public opinion and cultural consensus. I believe that like every other espionage novel or film, clandestine operations are cast as both heroes and villains.
Seen from this perspective, Catch and Kill confirms several very powerful insights about the real machinery of power behind the global progressive establishment. The primary one being that this is a class of people who are completely amoral and have weaponized morality purely for the purposes of manipulating public opinion. The entire system seems upheld through private surveillance, sexual blackmail and NDA’s.
The chances that Catch and Kill has reformed Hollywood in a meaningful way are minimal to nonexistent. They’ve certainly ramped up their virtue signaling and doubled down on the fake piety, but has this book fundamentally changed the culture of Hollywood? I’m going with No.
Ronan Farrow’s account has the appearance of a brave and principled piece of investigative journalism. Perhaps it is. Given that the very media establishment that allegedly blacklisted him after going to the New Yorker with the Weinstein story have heartily embraced him and showered him with glowing coverage and awards, what are the chances they tacitly sanctioned this entire release from the start? I’m going with High Probability.
The day they blew out the brains of the king Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise Right there in front of everyone’s eyes Greatest magic trick ever under the sun Perfectly executed, skillfully done Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul
“Murder Most Foul”, Bob Dylan
When Bob Dylan released a cryptic 17 minute track detailing the JFK assassination during a worldwide pandemic, I couldn’t help but find it damn curious. Perhaps even an ill omen. I also thought it was a good time to revisit Oliver Stone’s 1991 treatment of the same subject, JFK.
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. Not only is it one of Oliver Stone’s best films, it’s one of the best conspiracy thrillers ever made. Everyone is bringing their A game. Joe Pesci and Tommy Lee Jones are both brilliant as gay CIA operatives. Pesci’s final paranoid freakout is my personal favorite moment in all his films. The appearances of Ed Asner, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are casting masterstrokes. It’s also a tour de force of editing. The way he’s able to weave the historical footage with the reinventions is absolutely masterful. I’d say it’s one of Costner’s finest cinematic moments too. When Jim Garrison delivers that final speech in the courtroom, it’s some stirring shit.
Now on to the meatier questions.
Is this film is disclosure or propaganda? Or both? I’m going with both. You have to be an absolute dolt to think that the Warren Commission report is the definitive word on the JFK assassination. I don’t know exactly what happened that day, but Stone’s account seems plausible. The way the film shows how intelligence operatives work in the world via private investigators, controlled opposition groups, and shell companies is especially revelatory.
The propaganda lies in the mythologizing of Kennedy as this game changing disruptor of the permanent power structure in Washington. Whether it’s the film’s claim that he wanted to dismantle the clandestine operations complex and end imperial intervention abroad, his alleged intention to return the US dollar to the gold standard, or his public denunciations of secret societies, the mythology of JFK as the Great Liberal Messiah is the part that I have difficulty accepting.
If it’s true that he was set up to be a Liberal Messiah, and his assassination was meant to be a sort of public crucifixion, then all Stone is doing is presenting the Kennedy mythology with the curtain pulled back a little more than usual. It’s worth noticing that Garrison unironically referred to Kennedy as “King”. That kind of deference is the province of the traditional Christian worldview. Not the secular, post-Enlightenment democratic worldview.
If that’s true, then what can we surmise about the hidden power structure that carried out this coup?
It suggests to me that these shadow elites have an esoteric worldview. Luciferian even. Why would you traumatize millions of people by publicly executing their president? Perhaps because it represents a sort of mass initiation or sacrament of violence. As Bob Dylan ominously proclaims, “The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”.
By making a martyr of JFK, I’d argue that it served to sanctify liberalism as the New Testament of the Aquarian Age. The irony is that the optimism, patriotism, and unabashed Americanism one would find in embodied in the JFK presidency devolved into militant radicalism, decadence and cynicism in the subsequent years.
This is ultimately what makes Oliver Stone’s film such an anachronism. Is there any doubt that Garrison’s final speech is a proxy for the kind of bygone liberal idealism that Stone himself espouses?
That brings us to what I believe is the irreconcilable contradiction at the heart of the film and, by extension, the entire liberal democratic project. Garrison sacrificed everything to pursue the truth of what happened on November 22, 1963. Not just “his truth” or a “relative truth”, but The Truth. As progeny of the great American experiment, we’re all taught to believe in the virtues of civic engagement. This entails a robust knowledge of our history, Constitution and the way our civic institutions operate. It also entails valuing the idea that there are fixed principles and moral truths on which the proper functioning of these documents and institutions depend.
But how much does the modern liberal establishment really value the idea that there is Ultimate Truth? When modern progressives insist that biological sex is a social construct and skepticism of an autistic teenager means you’re a science denying bigot, I find their credibility lacking. I’d even argue that Garrison’s idealism has metastasized into a smug sanctimony. The ones who seem the most credulous towards the pronouncements of the intelligence community and the most contemptuous of conspiracy theories are often liberals.
The assassination of JFK was one of the most consequential and controversial events of the 20th century. If you are even remotely skeptical of the Warren Commission report, then you have to concede that there was at its core, a conspiracy. This means that there are highly resourced, highly coordinated hidden powers that do not give a single fuck about “democracy”. Garrison’s speech was awesome, but it’s just pollyanna horseshit for normies if the real rulers of the world can grease JFK in public and wipe away the evidence.
So what can we speculate about Bob Dylan releasing a track about the JFK assassination during a global lockdown?
I’m not sure I even want to go there, and I hope to God my worst assumptions are wrong.
Is there a modern artist whose personal life, public persona and artistic ambitions create more psychic dissonance than Miles Davis? Bob Dylan, Liz Taylor and Elvis would probably qualify, but Miles Davis certainly tops my list for being the one guy whose mystique, flaws and artistry captured the public imagination in an unprecedented way.
If you’ve read Miles’ autobiography, you won’t learn anything new about the man or his career. Regardless, it’s a serviceable synopsis of his life and achievement.
Unfortunately, you do have to endure some of the standard woke talking points that are mandatory these days. To be fair, it’s mostly present in his autobiography in the first place (i.e. wypipo bad except for French hipsters), but there are times when it felt like Stanley Nelson was intentionally emphasizing certain moments in order to maximize the virtue signal. Naturally, the film lingers on the infamous assault he suffered at the hands of a belligerent and #RACIST cop in 1959 while simply trying to enjoy a smoke.
Apparently, Miles never quite recovered from that incident psychologically and he carried a chip on his shoulder from that moment forward. As Farah Griffin reminds all of us privileged wypipo, it just doesn’t matter how successful a man becomes if he’s black. He’s forever forced to contend with a system that’s rigged against him. Never mind all of the wypipo who helped propel Davis’ career into the stratosphere. Nope. None of that counts. And that’s why you should snicker at Miles’ badassery when he tells Columbia executives to get that “white bitch” off the cover of Miles Ahead. Good for Miles that he got the album cover he wanted, but it’s apparently too much to expect that a consistent standard be applied to everyone when it comes to disparaging remarks made about people who are in the racial out group.
As a piece of American cultural legacy building, the contradictions in Davis’ body of work are especially thorny. The film opens with a quote from the autobiography. He recounts the occasion he saw Bird and Diz playing together in 1944 and described it as the most fun he had “with my clothes on”. There’s another piece that I haven’t yet sourced which refers to the necessity for “change” in artistry. I’m not saying it’s inauthentic, but it does place Davis’ work at odds with the idea that jazz is an American tradition. A tradition is something that is conserved. If it’s constantly changing, then what are you conserving?
This brings us to the now predictable schism between Classic Cool Jazz Miles versus Freaky Hippie Psychedelic Miles. Some version of this debate has been alive since at least the time of the release of In a Silent Way. Where Ken Burns fully ceded the debate to the more conservative Wynton Marsalis/Stanley Crouch perspective, Nelson only gives Crouch a cursory moment to rebut Miles’ embrace of the electric frontier. With a stunningly elitist quote by Carlos Santana, Nelson makes it clear that Miles’ demolition of the tradition was central to his artistic genius.
While I remain sympathetic to Miles’ electric innovations, I think Nelson’s full capitulation to the evolutionary ethos in artistry is foolhardy. Miles’ electric innovations had an impact because there was still a residual perception of an actual jazz tradition. As much as the modernists affect a pretense of being brought into subjection by a Crouch/Marsalis Jazz Politburo, they have long prevailed in this debate. The question is how much room is there for the traditionalist perspective at this point in history?
The Classic Cool Miles of the 50s and early 60s did represent a cultural high water mark. Not just for jazz, but for American culture, modern art, and to a certain extent, manhood itself. There was something dignified and romantic about that music. As a cultural role model, I’d wager that the stylish, virtuoso jazz musician represented a better aspirational ideal than say Lil Wayne.
As a husband and a man, Davis was less than exemplary. Naturally, he fulfilled the fantasy of the profligate male celebrity who gets to have lots of beautiful women. It is interesting that when he wanted domestic traditionalism from Frances Davis, it meant asking her to abandon her career. It may just be a commentary on the ways celebrity itself is at odds with true domestic stability, but Nelson and Wayne Shorter seemed intent on hitting feminist talking points when describing her discontent with the role of housewife.
Jazz is regarded as a uniquely American art form and Davis’ contributions to the form are undeniable. Like Bob Dylan, people argue over which version of Miles is the true representation and which is the fake. This documentary won’t settle that debate, but it’s a decent summary of one of America’s most captivating artists.
Ed Norton made a real movie. He really did. Yes, there’s some woke pandering, and we’ll get to that, but there is real cinematic achievement here and that warrants recognition.
A little bit Chinatown, a little bit The Fountainhead and a little bit Peter Gunn, Motherless Brooklyn is Ed Norton’s bid for an update on the old school hardboiled crime drama.
As Lionel Essrog, Ed Norton is a private detective trying to unravel the mystery of the murder of his employer. His investigation leads him to the heart of a massive gentrification effort led by a megalomaniacal developer named Moses Randolph. The effort is opposed by a progressive coalition of working class poor and minorities. Of course, the leaders of this woke coalition are two women; black and Jewish respectively. The film predictably places your sympathies with the woke underdogs and the Tourette’s afflicted gumshoe, but the characterizations, atmosphere, music and dialogue lift this effort above your average Hollywood panderfest.
Alec Baldwin’s Moses Randolph is undoubtedly supposed to be a composite of Trump and Howard Roark, but there’s a cursory attempt at making him somewhat sympathetic. When he waxes about his architectural achievements, you’re taken in by his quasi-Randian hubris. Norton probably wants you to just see Trump in Randolph, but he’s just as easily a proxy for progressive icons Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton.
Making him some kind of progressive caricature of #WHYTE #SUPREMACY was an unfortunate misstep, but I guess the Big White Boogeyman is unavoidable these days. The woke intelligentsia makes it seem as though whites are the only racial group that has any notions of superiority or supremacy. What about the Asian supremacists? Or better yet, the Jewish supremacists? Oh, that’s right. The European white man is the only one capable of true racism. My bad.
On the whole, the music is absolutely first rate. Not only is there a character who is undoubtedly a stand in for Miles Davis, but the noir jazz soundtrack is masterfully baked into the fabric of story.
Norton’s portrayal of Lionel’s Tourette’s is decent, but it does feel a little like pandering. Just as Asperger’s is being portrayed as some superpower, Norton is attempting to do the same for Tourette’s. It seems calculated to empower the ableism narrative.
Generally speaking, the artists who garner the praise of the cinematic establishment are those who stare into the barren soul of modern man and render its depravity in painstaking detail while hopefully, but not necessarily, offering a small glimmer of redemption in end. This is especially true of the films of Ingmar Bergman. This is a difficult tightrope to walk because the joke is that there is no real redemption in secular modernity. There is, at best, a competition of wills over some presumed “greater good”.
The praise that is accorded to Bergman is warranted for a few important reasons. First and foremost, his passion for the storytelling potential of cinema is genuine and awe inspiring. He appreciates the importance of crafting intimate and emotionally honest character portraits. The Serpent’s Egg meanders a bit, but for these reasons alone, Bergman commands your attention.
The Serpent’s Egg is a story of an American Jew living in Berlin in the twilight of the Weimar Republic. Most people will read this film as another spin on #NazisBad. Don’t believe them. Bergman has bigger fish to fry.
The fundamental delusion of the scientific materialist paradigm is the underlying belief that man’s moral defects can be quantified and stripped out through Pavlovian conditioning. The Serpent’s Egg may not be Bergman’s greatest film, but it is worth watching because it is the one film I’ve seen thus far which casts a bright light on the clinical and pathological architecture of this mindset.
Nowadays, we hear a constant drumbeat of feigned outrage and manufactured moral panic from the progressive establishment over the existential threat of a resurgent “fascist” sentiment in Europe and America. The shills who promulgate these concerns focus on bumper sticker moral transgressions like “racism” and “nationalism”, but anyone who has dedicated five minutes of genuine introspection over the real aims of the post-Enlightenment liberal project can easily see that Bergman is revealing something that is not limited to the national socialist mindset of pre-WWII Germany. When the behavior scientist Hans Vergerus confesses that the privately funded research in which he was engaged is destined to become global, it is among the most blood curdling lines ever uttered in cinema.
I was not surprised to see that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the lowest rated film on Letterboxd featuring the original cast, but that doesn’t mean I’m less certain that the consensus is wrong. Whether you’re a fan of Wrath of Khan, the TNG series, or the Abrams reboots, y’all can suck on it because this movie is fucking Star Trek. Period. No, I don’t care that it’s similar to “The Changeling”. This is the quintessential Star Trek film.
Yes, it’s basically 2001 rewritten for the Star Trek universe, and that’s exactly as it should be. It’s about a giant ass AI ship that’s headed for Earth, and the crew must use their wits to subvert the AI’s logic protocols and save humanity from being snuffed out. What is more Star Trek than that?
Robert Wise was the perfect man to helm the director’s chair. People grouse about the pacing, but I feel he finally lent this franchise the gravitas for which it always strived in the first place. He takes his time introducing each character and you feel like you’re getting to know them for the first time while reveling in the special chemistry these actors shared in this setting. Of course, Scotty is stressed about the new design. Bones is a lovable crotchety grump about the new sick bay, but Kirk lays down the law and tells everyone to buckle up because humanity is at stake. Spock’s arrival aboard the Enterprise is easily one of best entrances ever. He’s bringing so much Vulcan stoicism that it approaches Eastwood levels of badass.
Thematically, this is just a remix of 2001, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The V’Ger AI had amassed tremendous quantities of information, but it had no human consciousness. It was an AI facing a Nietzschean existential crisis. Subsequently, it saw humans as pathogens to be eliminated. It wanted to evolve by merging with an actual human. If 2001 went over your head, Roddenberry repackaged the same idea for a younger generation. Now, folks like Ben Goertzel and Elon Musk are discussing these ideas openly.
The irony is that Roddenberry was a secular liberal globalist who had largely skeptical view of religion. While the show always presented the combination of Kirk’s human intuition and Spock’s ruthlessly rigorous scientific mind as a harmonious and heroic dynamic, the worldview itself leads to the barren ennui of V’Ger.
This is a minor gripe in what I consider the crown jewel of the Star Trek films featuring the original cast. Besides, you’re never going to see six full minutes of Kirk and Scotty just cruising through space dock taking in the glory of the USS Enterprise quite like this ever again.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Besides being one of the best sequels in modern cinematic history, it’s also a clever reimagining of Moby Dick and Paradise Lost. Even if you aren’t familiar with the literary references, the entire film can be seen as an extended exploration of one the RAND Corporation’s biggest exports: game theory. Specifically, the no-win situation.
The film opens with Kirstie Alley’s Lieutenant Saavik taking the now famous training simulation, the Kobayashi Maru. Rescue the Maru, and you violate the Neutral Zone treaty and precipitate hostilities with the Klingons. Ignore the signal and the crew dies. What’s a Starfleet cadet to do?
This conundrum is emblematic of the paradigm of enlightened scientific rationalism that has always been Star Trek’s calling card. We see the world through the eyes of a military starship captain. The welfare of the collective is always measured in terms of maximizing some Benthamite calculus. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.
This is also an early and explicit example of geoengineering in film. Where Star Trek Into Darkness completely bypassed the moral implications of geoengineering by justifying it under the aegis of the Prime Directive, much of the drama of The Wrath of Khan comes from the fulfillment of David Marcus’s fear that the Genesis Project could be weaponized. Just as we saw in Avatar, we see an unholy alliance between the world of scientific innovation and the military-industrial complex. The movies always trick you by making you think there’s a bright line between the motivations of scientists and the military hierarchy overseeing them.
David Marcus’s reconciliation with Kirk is very heartwarming, but his skepticism towards Starfleet and militarized science is not unfounded. Khan is himself the byproduct of genetic engineering gone awry.
What’s truly remarkable is just how restrained the overall tempo and volume of The Wrath of Khan is. It’s a film that allows the tension to build organically. Especially in comparison to the Abrams reboots. Maybe attention spans have been permanently diminished, but one gets the impression that Abrams doesn’t grasp what made Star Trek tick in the first place.
The ending still gets to me. My love for these original films is eternal. Absolutely classic.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek has always glorified scientific utopianism, but anyone who doubts that it is deeply spiritual at its core needs to give this one a spin. Not only is it loaded with Biblical symbolism, but the Vulcan ritual at the end is as pagan as it gets.
Despite Star Trek’s overt sympathies for globalism and scientism, this film levels a scathing critique at scientific hubris. The Genesis project may have raised Spock from the dead, but besides being a failure, it was sought by the Klingons to be utilized as a superweapon.
I feel sorry for anyone who really thinks that the Abrams reboots truly represent Star Trek. If you want to understand the difference between then and now, just marvel at the way Nimoy managed to make the Enterprise’s escape from space dock dramatic. It’s the kind of patient filmmaking you’ll never get from a JJ Abrams.
Aside from the very obvious Genesis/Lazarus symbolism, this film reveals that Star Trek is ultimately very concerned with spiritual questions but is packaging them in a veneer of scientific rationalism. Kirk undertook the mission because his soul was at stake.
I suspect that James Cameron borrowed from the katra ritual to some extent for the conclusion of Avatar.
Vulcan mysticism is very overtly pagan. I’d argue that it’s fundamentally Platonic.
Star Trek glorifies the achievements of Starfleet and the Federation, but almost every one of Kirk’s great achievements requires him to buck the bureaucracy and disobey orders.
Despite the radical scientific advancement that the Genesis project represented, it was a failure and it was sought by the Klingons so it could be exploited as a superweapon. Once again, you have the veneration of scientific advancement (e.g. warp capabilities, transporter tech, terraforming, etc) while simultaneously showing how these technologies can be weaponized.
Deep state assassin plays surrogate father for his deep fake GMO clone who’s trying to ruin his retirement.
I always feel a little bit dirty for being taken in by a film like this because you know that’s when its psychological toxins are taking root. Like Doctor Sleep, Gemini Man exceeded my minimal expectations. It is another piece of deep state chic about a super soldier assassin who is being targeted by his genetically engineered clone. The main gimmick here being the seamless integration of CGI effects on the Will Smith double.
When Henry and Junior finally meet, there is some genuinely compelling psychodrama as Henry tries to appeal to his conscience and his capacity for free will. It’s subject matter that has plenty of precedent in sci-fi, but it’s capably handled here. I was almost encouraged when Henry tries to dissuade Junior from pursuing the deep state assassin life and raise a family. But alas, I was let down in the final confrontation with Clay Verris, the bad surrogate father who raised Junior from the time he was just a test tube specimen.
Verris wanted to create an even better version of Henry. A soldier with all of his killer acumen and none of his defects, vulnerabilities, fears or doubts. This required filling the deficits of Henry’s single mother upbringing and being the father he never had. That means showing him…get this….love and affection. Scandalous. I think you can imagine what happens to Verris. I suppose it’s a form of cosmic justice since it wasn’t true, unconditional paternal love, but from a symbolism perspective, it’s another swing of the wrecking ball against the edifice of fatherhood.
Ramona Flowers turns in a likeable performance as another nu school archetype of feminine Wokegnosis. Academic smarts, combat capabilities, yet desexualized and semi-maternal all at once. All the checkboxes are filled out, but there’s just enough real humanity and vulnerability to make her engaging. Together, she and Henry form the kind of quasi-alchemical, artificial parenthood that the establishment hopes to normalize.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Every Hollywood film is a clever mixture of art and propaganda. Gemini Man is noteworthy because it is further proof that Hollywood is specifically propaganda for military black operations, espionage, mass surveillance and media, eugenics, artificial intelligence, and all manners of superweapons. It’s a big deal because the MSM narrative insists that the idea of a “deep state” is just a conservatard talking point. From a Hollywood perspective, it is normative to see portraits of espionage and black operations as heroic. Yet, they’re also telling you that these forces are the very first boots on the ground in any unstable region of the world deposing leaders, fomenting dissent and training death squads.
Not only does Gemini Man want you to believe that the black ops assassin is a great guy who is just doing his patriotic duty, it wants you to believe that he’s the guy who’s going to thwart the plans of people like Verris who take things a little too far. When Henry and his pals raise a glass, they toast to “the next war which is no war.” Don’t you want to believe it?
The film was shot at 60 fps as opposed to 24. While this was probably sold as a cutting edge effect, it is also probably includes the latest piece of hypnosis tech. This is also probably the test film for a new generation of deep fake technology. May God have mercy on our souls.