Monthly Archives: April 2018

Sam Harris v. Ezra Klein, Vox and the SJW Hive Mind

Nothing captures the self-implosion of liberalism quite like the phenomenon of the SJW and the ever proliferating mind contagion known as intersectional social justice. The revolution eventually eats its own, and even its most venerated voices get sent to the gulag if they trangress the boundaries of Party approved thought. I certainly don’t agree with Sam Harris on the foundational presuppositions of his worldview, but I’m always willing to give credit where credit is due. Politically, Harris is a fairly doctrinaire old school liberal. However, he has demonstrated an ability to step beyond the boundaries of Approved Thought and take positions that are laudable and even courageous. Needless to say, when an influential voice like Harris commits ThoughtCrime, retribution is sure to follow. Harris stepped on what is perhaps the Left’s most heavily fortified and highly electrified Third Rail about a year ago when he invited AEI scholar, Charles Murray, on to his podcast to discuss race and IQ. For the uninitiated, Murray’s book, The Bell Curve, which was written in collaboration with Richard Herrnstein and published in 1994, unleashed a hellstorm of controversy because it broached the dreaded subject of IQ differences between racial and ethnic groups in one chapter. The pitchfork wielding PC zombie hordes howled in outrage at the time it was published and the deranged and predictable shrieks of racism have only intensified. So much so that Murray was assaulted at a recent appearance at Middlebury College. For having the temerity to invite Murray on to his podcast and admit that he too was swept up in the mob outrage, Harris was tarred by the intelligentsia and their Twitter goon squads for guilt by association and giving a platform to Dangerous Views. The ever vigilant gatekeepers of GoodThink at Vox proceeded to publish four pieces chastising Harris and Murray for having a reasonable conversation and violating woke protocols. Any reasonable person would find the podcast a rational, dispassionate conversation about scientific evidence, but we simply don’t live in that world anymore. According to our woke superior at Vox, Ezra Klein, we must genuflect at the altar of Past Injustices and Institutional Racism and consider the Great Harm that these conversations have precipitated in the past. Not only that, Harris must confront the reality that conversations of this nature will inevitably trigger the frothing, closeted national socialists who were just waiting for the right scientific rationale to start the lynchings and reopen the death camps all over again. Years from now, after the racial pogroms, the architects of genocide will remove the gold encased flash drive from its velvety pillow, hoist it aloft in tribute to Odin, and shout their ecstatic homilies to the prophecies of Sam Harris and Charles Murray for providing the scientific guidance they so badly lacked back in the dark days of 2017.

A chain of emails and some Twitter sparring eventually resulted in a full two hour podcast between Harris and Klein in which they proceeded to air their respective positions over the entire supercharged controversy. For his part, it was among Sam Harris’ finest hours. He was sharp and emphatic, but appropriately focused on the right issues while constantly trying to sift through Klein’s prevarications, distractions and smoke screens. Sadly, I’m doubtful that a single point penetrated the fortress of insularity and smugness with which Klein has so carefully erected about himself.

Hi, I’m Ezra Klein and I’m here to lecture you about white privilege and systemic racism.But pay no attention to the subtext of this podcast. It’s not like I’m advocating for eugenics or anything.

Throughout the entire exchange, Klein was the epitome of the sanctimonious, condescending progressive SJW cunt. Willfully dishonest, cunningly deceptive, infinitely detestable, and outrageously obtuse about the mob mentality which he actively cultivates, Klein is the quintessential establishment con man. His entire argument against Harris amounted to a question begging assumption of nebulously defined harm that these conversations inflict on blacks. We’re to recoil in horror at the supposed inevitability of a collective white uprising if such conversations carried on without the requisite deference to woke protocols. No matter how cleverly he tried to hedge his statements, he was basically insinuating that Murray, and Harris by extension, were little more than white supremacists and crypto-Nazis. Klein accuses Harris of playing his own brand of identity politics which are certain to lead to dangerous repressions and rollbacks of hard won progress. In Klein’s view, blacks are children who must be shielded from conversations about scientific data pertaining to biology. All disparities in outcome are the result of an inescapable ghost of past oppressions, an omnipresent boogeyman called “systemic racism” or material privation of one form or another.

Harris repeatedly mentioned the fact that his podcast had landed him in the crosshairs of the SPLC, and Klein dismissed this without mention as though this was utterly inconsequential. Klein knows damn well that his social media shock troops have been trained to view the word of the SPLC as holy writ, yet he blithely handwaved away Harris’ justified anger in what amounted to a verbal pat on the head for his insolent outburst. There, there Sam. Stop being so SENSITIVE. Utterly repulsive and infuriating.

What was fascinating and predictable about Klein’s appeal was that it exemplifies the Left’s selective scientific skepticism when it comes to the issue of IQ differences. On an issue like climate change, Vox are a model of credulousness and pack their Voxplainer pieces with copious links and lots of quotes from really smart people. If you don’t accept the science, you’re a knuckle dragging retard. Like, obvi. Do you even know who Bill Nye is, bro?

The issue which illuminates the real crux of Klein’s gripe against Harris can be found in this Vox piece discussing gender dysphoria. Klein is adamant that Harris is insensitive to historical harm and oblivious to the supposed future harm his podcast will inevitably wreak. This is because the Left is actively engaged in reengineering language and perception. Klein and his coterie of media propagandists are thoroughly invested in preventing people from thinking for themselves. Klein and his cohorts have conditioned their base to be hypersensitive to words. An inappropriate usage of pronouns is violence. A poorly worded question is a microaggression. The Vox piece quotes the APA by stating that “part of removing the stigma is choosing the right words”. If you just call it gender dysphoria and stop using that bigoted, patriarchal hate speech term, gender identity disorder, IT WON’T HAVE THE STIGMA AND IT WON’T CAUSE SO MUCH HARM. See? Easy peasy. Was that so difficult, conservatards?

Klein’s manipulative usage of language was on full display when he poured on the supercharged rhetoric cataloging Our Past Oppressions of People of Color. This technique is so hackneyed and overplayed, it shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but Klein wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t effective at some level. No one disputes that what was done to blacks was horrific and unjust and those who think it was justified are an insignificant minority. But in his infinite condescension, Klein brings these things up as though Harris is an uninformed dolt who hasn’t gotten the memo. Again, Klein and his ilk continue to flog this meme because they want to simultaneously provoke indignation in blacks and guilt in whites. Progressives are pathologically fixated on sanctifying oppression and deviance while promoting themselves as ever vigilant champions of the Underdog. If you are on any of the lower rungs of the oppression hierarchy, it accords you some kind of universal moral sanction to go out into the world and lecture everyone about how unenlightened, stupid and backwards they are. It would be amazing if Klein could demonstrate a multicultural society who’ve miraculously transcended their historical racial strife and attained mass wokeness, but he can’t because America and Europe must be the torchbearers of post-Enlightenment multiracial cosmopolitanism. Does he bring up racism between Hispanics and blacks? Asians and blacks? Of course he doesn’t because he’s working from a script from which no deviation is allowed. Besides, blacks can’t be racist against whites because they have no institutional power. Checkmate, Trumptards. Now go read Michael Eric Dyson.

Klein kept the conversation centered around the black/white racial dialectic despite Harris’ attempts to broaden the scope and discuss inconvenient facts pertaining to Asians. Does Klein ever broach the subject of black success in America relative to African nations or black majority countries? Does he mention how many generations it took the Jews to rise from immigrants to middle class? Asians? All other racial and ethnic groups of European extraction? Of course he doesn’t. The narrative must remain focused on past injustices and the irredeemable sin of white racism. Where is the real world Wakanda? It doesn’t exist because the white man won’t allow it. Tariq Nasheed said so, racists.

The underlying agenda behind what Klein is saying is easy enough to discern. The Left consistently presents bigotry and differences as a seemingly ineradicable and intractable malady at the heart of Western civilization. A problem whose depths are uniquely apprehended by woke progressives like Klein. Meanwhile, they exacerbate the problem by carefully engineering the entire dialogue around race and portraying themselves as uniquely sensitive to its severity. Then, after constantly moving the goalposts around what can and cannot be discussed, they determine who is allowed to broach the subject properly and under what terms based on arbitrary designations of privilege or “allyship”. Then they gerrymander and denounce the science that doesn’t fit the narrative, and bully and defame anyone who doesn’t toe the line. Finally, in a fit of exasperation, they present themselves as the enlightened saviors who have to once again school the unwashed rubes about Systemic Racism and Historical Oppression because the lower life forms just won’t have The Difficult Conversations About Race. How many black people have you had on your podcast, Sam? We’re keeping track, you know. The quantity of black faces really matters here. Why haven’t you invited Ta Nehisi Coates? Too much white fragility? Afraid of having your PRIVILEGE challenged, are you? Hmmmmmmm??????

But it goes further. While doing all these things, they will insist that differences don’t really exist. Racism is a horrible scourge on the human soul and yet simultaneously, race is also completely socially constructed. It’s just a tool of the oppressive white man which was used to justify slavery and shit. Conservatards are too fucking stupid to grasp this high rung of wokeness though. Black History Month is Important and Necessary, but always remember that race is just a social construct, bigots. Western societies need to dispel their outdated notions of nationalism and cultural identity and just accept that cosmopolitan multiculturalism will hasten the alchemical transformation in attitudes that awaits us. But probably after the mandatory oxytocin shots kick in. White people also need to forever prostrate themselves in penitence by ensuring that the entire welfare state/affirmative action industrial complex continues to thrive irrespective of the results it produces. If you just provide more material benefit to people despite being little more than quasi-deterministic bags of biological matter, you can rest assured you’re doing something to dismantle Systemic Racism. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t produce any tangible results either. Family stability doesn’t matter. Illegitimacy doesn’t matter. Moral education doesn’t matter. All that matters is a continuous flow of government support. Klein repeatedly uttered his fear that Murray’s conclusions would result in some great unraveling of the welfare state/affirmative action industrial complex, but there’s zero evidence that anything like that happened under previous Republican presidents. Not a single Republican president has lifted a finger to dismantle the welfare state, and Trump’s call for reform is presently in the alarm bell stage. A sober appraisal of his current efforts to rehabilitate Clinton era reforms would invite a “We’ll see” at best. The only time spending dipped was under Clinton and even progressives acknowledge that it either backfired or failed. Predictably, they’re backpedaling from one of the signature issues of the Clinton administration that Slick Willy himself has repeatedly touted as a triumph. Yet Klein acts like he’s this champion of the beleaguered underdog speaking for the huddled and voiceless masses shuddering in fear of the coming Trumpocalypse. Contemptible and pathetic.

The Left is very durable because it has allowances for deviations from the orthodoxy and gives an impression of being capable of reform and reined in from overreach. Christina Sommers, Camille Paglia, and Jonathan Haidt are a few notable voices who’ve been valiantly swimming against the tide of PC tyranny. But they’re waging their battles on single issue fronts while never relinquishing their ultimate political allegiance or challenging their core assumptions.

As much as I feel Harris dominated and landed solid points at every opportunity, this should make Harris and anyone who subscribes to his veneration of reason question the efficacy of this belief. In the face of a decades long indoctrination campaign which casts the entire sweep of Western progress as a shameful past rife with irredeemable racial injustice, how much confidence can you place in rationalism to reverse the tide? Especially after hearing Harris deploy his best defense against one of the gatekeepers of cultural consensus. I’d like to believe we can reset the classical liberal assumptions of materialism and empiricism, roll back cultural Marxism and move ahead. But it’s increasingly apparent that those foundational presuppositions are exactly what has precipitated this calamity. Harris is a bright man, but going too far off the reservation of approved thought might have consequences he’s not prepared to shoulder. So he’ll join the ranks of leftists who are bound together by a single quixotic and doomed quest: to save the Left from itself. Nice try, Sam. I know you gave it your best shot.

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Wizards (1977)

I suppose I’m no different from others in that I hold the belief that the pop culture of my youth is vastly superior to today’s. I’m at a point where all I see is an odd mixture of hyper-PC agitprop and a mind numbing conveyor belt of destructathons that are bereft of meaning. Or a combination of both. Admittedly, my elders undoubtedly held the pop culture of my youth in disdain, but I still perceive a sharp contrast between then and now. Among the films for which I reserve a great deal of affection is Ralph Bakshi’s animated sci-fi fantasy epic from 1977, Wizards. In contrast to the sanitized, monolithic preachiness found in the messaging of today’s animation, Wizards is a relic from an era where liberals were trying to transgress the boundaries of cultural norms and it actually felt rebellious. That’s not to say Wizards is devoid of ideological programming, but it is remarkable to observe how yesterday’s radical vision would never see the light of day in today’s climate of supercharged cultural politics.

Wizards is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy reimagining of the story of Cain and Abel stripped of its theistic underpinnings. As hard as it tries to conjure its own moral mysticism engaged in an epic clash of good and evil, it retains a nihilistic inertia at its core. Though it is satisfying on its own terms as a work of fantasy, the fact that it is a piece of cultural programming with a presumed youth oriented message requires that we evaluate its merits. When you open your film with a monologue which reengineers Genesis, you’re not exactly making agenda-free entertainment.

The world blew up in a thousand atomic fireballs. The first blast was set off by five terrorists. It took two million years for some of the radioactive clouds to allow some sun in. By then, only a handful of humans survived.

In place of some kind of creation event, Bakshi is giving us mass annihilation while suggesting the concept of eternal return. Man is trapped in a deterministic wheel of time which is marked by an inescapable struggle between the forces of technology and magic. Why bother even trying to make the world a better place if mutual mass destruction is an inevitability? The reference to five terrorists is also an interesting piece of predictive programming because Bakshi is already hinting at the world of independent acts of terrorism we currently inhabit. Whether it’s a reference to a past act of terrorism like the Munich Massacre or the Entebbe incident is an open question.

Two million years after the nuclear armageddon, actual humans remain mutated monsters. In the good lands, the “true ancestors of man”, elves and fairies, resurfaced. As humanity’s primeval ancestors, elves and fairies are apparently good by default simply as a result of their belief in magic and being in tune with nature and shit. At a big celebration, the Eve of this post-apocalyptic ancient future, Delia, is mysteriously drawn back to her home to give birth her immaculately conceived wizard twins. The moral character of Avatar and Blackwolf is apparent right away. Avatar is handsome and sweet and therefore fated to be good. Blackwolf is a surly and mean spirited mutant who apparently has nothing but hatred and malevolence in his heart. There’s no attempt to portray morality as something with an independent metaphysical reality in the divine mind. Instead, it’s simply biological luck of the draw and Blackwolf got the bad hand.

Upon Delia’s death, Avatar and Blackwolf engage in a cataclysmic struggle for global supremacy. Blackwolf is vanquished and is forced to retreat into the radioactive wasteland while Avatar presides over the peaceful land of Montagar. Just like every other piece of sci-fi or fantasy, Bakshi is solely concerned with the struggle for political dominion in this world.

Ensconced at his castle headquarters, Scortch One, Blackwolf begins his preparations for conquest. Using black magic, he summons a high command of demonic generals to lead an army of mutants who are initially enslaved through his Nietzschean will. Whether this period of research and experimentation in Blackwolf’s career of evil is Bakshi’s encoded reference to the alleged Nazi fascination with Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s mystical works is also up for grabs.

He then formed an army whose generals were called up from the black shadows of hell. Souls who waited for untold eternities for a new leader, Blackwolf’s tremendous power enslaved them all to carry out his will.

His armies lacked the motivation and inspiration necessary to carry out mass extermination so he sends his minions out to uncover the lost technology of the pre-apocalyptic world. Not only does he begin to build actual military vehicles and weapons, he harnesses the most powerful weapon of all: mass media. By unearthing the propaganda and iconography of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, Blackwolf becomes a post-apocalyptic, mutant wizard fascist. Though the usage of technology and media is presented in a one dimensional way, this is arguably the great editorial masterstroke of Wizards. Bakshi himself is imprinting the one absolute moral negative in the postmodern, multicultural, materialist consensus: Nazism. In 2018, the spectre of fascism is perhaps the one and only universally denounced evil for anyone living in a Western country. In the wrong hands, a demagogue can use mass media to awaken the racial and national consciousness of the white race and drive them to commit unspeakable violence against Jews, blacks, Muslims, LGBTQIAPP2 folx, liberals and socialists. No one else is capable of comparable levels of evil though. Especially not communists. What’s less explicit is that Bakshi is using the exact same tools as Blackwolf to promote this very one sided view of evil, propaganda and the abuse of state power.

Analogous to Vaughn Bode’s futuristic killer in name and design, Blackwolf deploys Necron 99 to carry out an assassination against the president of Montagar. Pushing the envelope of the PG rating, Bakshi portrays prostitute fairies working their trade as Necron 99 plods through the streets of occupied territories. On his journey, he takes out hapless elves and fairies simply for their belief in magic. Apparently, only certain elves are willing to take up arms in defense of people and country. After suffering a devastating loss to Blackwolf’s newly propagandized and armed mutant forces and usage of media psy-ops, the elves quickly realize that the generations of peace are imperiled by this rising threat. Bakshi is also giving a voice to the rising tide of environmentalism and eco-consciousness that now comprises one of the pillars of progressive piety.

My children, the only true technology is nature. All the other forms of manmade technology are perversions.The ancient dictators used technology to enslave the masses.

Voiced by Bob Holt and living in one of Ian Miller’s surrealist castles nested amidst the pastoral bliss of Montagar, Avatar has become a curmudgeonly, cigar smoking facsimile of Peter Falk. He is joined by the voluptuous and highly sexualized fairy princess, Elinore. Wearing an impossibly skimpy outfit that has surely triggered an angry gender studies graduate thesis, Elinore is Avatar’s MK Ultra subject training for her initiation into the Masonic Lodge of Montagar. Upon hearing news that Blackwolf’s forces are advancing, Necron 99 guns down the president of Montagar who happens to be dressed like a harlequin. Even in the idyllic paradise of Montagar, the political leader is a clown. Another piece of predictive programming? You decide.

Mirroring an idea that would be duplicated in the Terminator films, Avatar reprograms Necron 99 to be their protector and rechristens him Peace. Avatar, Elinore and elven warrior Weehawk set off to Scortch One in order to save civilization from ruin. Magic is an unalloyed force for good, and it enables those who wield it to reprogram the technology of the bad people who only believe in technology. Or something.

Bakshi’s bleak cynicism reveals itself in the little vignettes of Blackwolf’s goons interspersed throughout the film. In one scene, two of Blackwolf’s soldiers seek the charity of religious leaders to feed their POWs. As they enter the temple, what they discover are relics of pop culture. When they finally enter the sanctuary, they find two priests/rabbis asleep in front of a tapestry of the CBS logo/eye of Horus. Bakshi is essentially telling you that pop culture and media has completely supplanted the role of religion. The two priests/rabbis manage to forestall captivity by invoking the necessity for prayer. They engage in an increasingly absurd pantomime of religious rituals which leaves little doubt over Bakshi’s utter disdain for religion. Their antics lull the soldiers to sleep, and upon awakening, they resolve to move to Plan B to fully secure control of the temple. After signaling to the soldiers outside the temple to initiate Plan B, the temple is blown to smithereens. Take that, religion.

Bakshi’s handling of Blackwolf’s belief in eugenics seems contradictory. He orders his unborn child destroyed because it would be a mutant, but he propagandizes his mutant armies with the belief that they will be the new master race. So either Bakshi is saying he doesn’t really believe what he’s saying to his own armies or that “bad” humans themselves are descendants of Blackwolf. As was originally established, morality is a biological certainty. The theme of mutation has been extended and inverted in recent years. Where Wizards paints it as physical and moral deformation, films like X-Men have elevated mutation to full blown hero status.

Wizards culminates in an epic battle between the remainder of the elven world against Blackwolf’s armies. He combines rotoscoped footage of older war films with an orgy of Frank Frazetta inspired fantasy carnage and death. It’s pretty gruesome for a PG, but it looks cool and it’s yet another example of how Wizards pushed the envelope. While this battle rages, Avatar and Blackwolf face off against one another in what amounts to a rather anticlimactic showdown. Given that the this was framed as a struggle between technology and magic, the manner in which Blackwolf is killed doesn’t make this chasm as irreconcilable as he originally presented it.

Once Blackwolf is vanquished, the armies lose their will to fight and Scortch One collapses and explodes as Weehawk declares that “The world is free!” It’s an idea that would be repeated that same year in a little space opera called Star Wars as well as films too numerous to count. It’s not a proper reflection of our post-national world, but the idea of vanquishing evil and liberating humanity by killing the leader and destroying his stronghold has retained its strength. But remember. It’s only a respite before the next iteration of evil on the eternal wheel of time.

In the end, Bakshi’s final message is summed up in the beautiful but despairing final song, “Only Time Will Tell”. It boils down to little more than Let’s Hope for The Best.

Elinore: [singing “Only Time Will Tell”] Time renews tomorrow. When we’ve used today. It will find the sorrow and wish it all away. Love can play a new tune. On this carousel. It may be tomorrow. But only time will tell. Somewhere in the darkness. There must be a light. Leading us together. Through the misty night. And maybe in the new dawn. We can break the spell. It may be tomorrow. But only time will tell. There can be a new dream. One for us to hold. Made with peace and hope and built upon the old. No one has the answer. To give away or sell. Tomorrow holds the secret. But only time will tell.

Despite its flaws, Wizards retains an appeal that I cannot deny. Whether it’s the psychedelic flanged synth swells, the orchestral battle funk, or the various Ian Miller background illustrations, Wizards still occupies a very special place in my heart. Like the two other sci-fi films from that year, Damnation Alley and Star Wars, Wizards has a vitality that transcends its narrative flaws. It’s both of its time and beyond it. The allure of magic and magicians has only taken deeper root in the public mind as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises amply attest. But the fear of technological enslavement seems fully abandoned. If anything, the proliferation of transhumanist themed cyberpunk seems to suggest that technology and magic can coexist. I guess it’s just a question of whether or not you think that’s a positive development for civilization.

Carl Sagan, Scientism, and the Liberal post-Enlightenment Consensus

I was sent this quote by a friend, and as much as I’m inclined to agree, I think a more balanced perspective is in order. I still reserve a great deal of affection for Mr. Sagan, but he’s hardly the first to diagnose the decrepitude of mind and spirit that’s emblematic of the classically liberal, post-Enlightenment technocratic age.

John Henry Newman, Edwin Lawrence Godkin, Oswald Spengler and Alexis de Tocqueville were but a few people who also foresaw the American experiment headed towards this unfortunate state of affairs.

If we’re going to be fair minded, we need to redirect the critique back to the worldview espoused by Mr. Sagan. What you find in the writings of those who held a more traditionalist mindset was a warning that the dogmatic emphasis on materialism and scientism would necessarily result in a tendency toward technocratic despotism. It would necessarily result in people attributing moral transgression to objects (i.e. guns) or material privation (i.e. inequality). It would necessarily result in a pharmaceutical industry relating to people as bags of chemicals whose moods and performance can be optimized with drugs. It would necessarily result in people making endless appeals to political power in pursuit of an ever elusive notion of #EQUALITY. It would necessarily result in an education system which indoctrinates the idea that the highest virtue is to place all morality into the arena of politics and that some magical combination of bureaucracy and legislation will result in ever improving outcomes.

Regarding his subtle dig at those who are sympathetic to crystals, astrology or anything that falls under the broad umbrella of New Age mysticism or the Western esoteric tradition, the entire scientific tradition as we know it is more closely aligned with the Western esoteric tradition than it is the Christian worldview. Mind you, I’m not trying to say that Christians are hostile to science by default, but there’s an esoteric spiritual worldview that’s baked into a lot of the scientific worldview that goes mostly unacknowledged. I suggest that has more than a little to do with the longstanding antagonism we’ve been fed surrounding the Faith vs. Science dichotomy.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Carl Sagan, but he can’t have his scientistic cake and eat it too. Liberalism has been the default setting for at least the past couple centuries. We’re seeing it move towards its logical conclusion: global technocracy.

I don’t think you can make this critique in earnest without a willingness to reexamine the underlying presuppositions of the post-Enlightenment liberal consensus.

Capricorn One (1977)

No matter how you slice it, Capricorn One stands alone in the cinematic sci-fi canon. Even if you aren’t among the moon landing conspiracy theory enthusiasts or don’t think that NASA is a front for some kind of nefarious black budget secret space program, Capricorn One is an outstanding sci-fi action/drama that, at minimum, asks you to question your assumptions about NASA’s goals and Hollywood’s role in amplifying them for the masses. Capricorn One touches on one of the greatest conspiracy theories of all time by telling a story about a faked NASA mission to Mars. Once the astronauts learn the truth, they must confront some big ethical questions over the consequences of revealing the truth to the world. And outrun some black helicopters in the process.

As the film opens, we see the sun rise behind the Capricorn One rocket as the various operators at mission control go through their pre-launch protocols. After sharing his heartfelt gratitude for fulfilling his life dream, a NASA technician gives his Bible to Astronaut Brubaker as a token of appreciation. Astronauts Brubaker, Willis and Watson board the command module and begin their system checks. As mission control begins the countdown, a government agent without a NASA uniform opens the command module hatch and instructs them to exit. Dumbstruck by this turn of events, they comply. The crew are shuttled off to a secure location while the nation watches the unmanned rocket launch with rapt pride.

Meanwhile, David Huddleston’s NASA Director Hollis Peaker has a conversation with Vice President Price over the importance of continued funding for the space program. It has the air of formality but Peaker’s words carry an aura of veiled threats. As Dr. James Kelloway, the brilliant Hal Holbrook has the thankless task of revealing to the crew that the Wizard of Oz behind NASA is in fact a phony and they were expected to play along with the charade.

Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, director Peter Hyams manages to accomplish things you simply won’t see in any contemporary Hollywood NASA portrait. Rather than portraying an intrepid band of mathematicians and scientists, we’re given a NASA that’s a massive front agency perpetrating a mass deception. Instead of bold idealists pushing back against a tidal wave of cynicism and pressure from above, we’re given government bureaucrats acting like extortionists and con artists. In place of a symphonic chorus of national pride, we’re being shown an elaborate matrix of noble lies that are swallowed with gusto. This isn’t the collection of rag tag scientific heroes feverishly scribbling out telemetry calculations that you’ll see in Apollo 13, The Martian, Interstellar or Hidden Figures. This is the film that asks you to consider the possibility that you drank the KoolAid.

While it may not make everyone a full blown moon landing truther, the film suggests that the space program, and the entire sci-fi genre by extension, serve as an all purpose secular teleology. The mythos of space travel carries both links to our past and the hopes for our future. Whether it’s Star Trek’s dreams of boundless scientific progress, post-scarcity plenitude and intergalactic multicultural cooperation or the possibility of the earth joining together in a grand scientific enterprise as portrayed in Contact. Between Independence Day’s global rallying cry to ward off alien invaders or the creation myth of panspermia found in Prometheus, there can be little doubt that the mythology of space in all its forms serves as a sort of de facto secular religion.

Was Capricorn One the film where Hollywood tipped its hand? I can’t say for sure, but when you consider all of the space themed films leading up to the first Apollo moon mission and Disney’s involvement in promoting the space program, it’s not completely unreasonable to ask a few questions. In contrast to the numerous films leading up to the Apollo 11 mission, was Capricorn One just a more honest piece of predictive programming? The film adaptation of The Martian came out in 2015, and both SpaceX and Trump have announced plans for a mission to Mars. Stories of UFO sightings and black budget programs have also ramped up in the media.

Then there’s the esoteric symbolism of Capricorn and Mars. Capricorn is associated with the planet Saturn and by extension, time, chaos and death. By contrast, Mars symbolizes war, strength and masculinity. Is Hyams revealing a long-term agenda by dramtizing the alchemical union of Capricorn with Mars? Or is it simply a reference to Saturn the demiurge and the secret ruler of this world? Or is the connection to the symbolism of the goat and Pan a veiled reference to NASA’s occult origins? All of the above?

The colossal irony of casting OJ Simpson as Astronaut John Walker only adds to the film’s poignancy. Hollywood is very much in the business of constructing myths and shaping perception. Subsequently, their collective obsession with racial #DIVERSITY has gone off the charts in recent years. Both The Martian and Hidden Figures were over the top about black representation in the space program. After all, what really matters is we fight stereotypes and ensure that any #MARGINALIZED group is represented in a completely positive light and real world outcomes will be the natural result. Back then, Simpson was a beloved black celebrity and if one were to take the case that this film is a giant reveal of the Hollywood/NASA conspiracy, one could easily imagine central casting reaching for the guy who best represented black achievement in America. The Juice. Talk about going meta.

The world of conspiracy theory and entertainment have long coexisted in the popular sphere. As is the case with Capricorn One, it gets repackaged and sold as its own entertainment thereby neutralizing and diluting any underlying truth claims in the public consciousness. “Conspiracy theorist” doesn’t carry the same weight as “racist” or “white supremacist” in the cultural lexicon, but in the hierarchy of epithets, it’s a close runner-up. Oliver Stone may have made a good JFK assassination conspiracy potpourri, but who really takes seriously these basement dwelling freaks spewing about the Illuminati plot for the coming New World Order? And perhaps that’s the point. People already consider the Jesse Venturas and Alex Joneses of the world unhinged nutters. You can dismiss these people because they’re conspiracy theorists. But the public likes a good conspiracy theory when it’s repackaged as The X-Files or a 007 film. It seems that Hollywood’s job is to continue to blur the line between reality and fiction so you can never really be certain of anything. And that’s why you can watch Capricorn One in the comfort of your home and then shake off all those crazy questions because “it’s just a movie”. Right?

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