Category Archives: culture

The Revolution WILL Be Televised

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.

American Anarchist (2016)

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.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019)

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.

Christopher Caldwell: The Age of Entitlement

Growing up in the secular liberal paradigm requires you to take lots of assumptions both as a priori truth and unquestionable articles of faith.  First and foremost being an ironclad assumption that society must progress. There is an unswerving belief that we remain shackled by social values that are both antiquated and deeply ingrained. These attitudes are a consequence of ossified institutions which perpetuate outmoded ways of thinking underpinning a vast array of pernicious, omnipresent structures of “oppression”. The only way forward is to demand change and remake the system. Smash it and rebuild if you fancy yourself a radical. Following closely behind these beliefs are three corollary beliefs; true progressivism is the ideology of the underdog, the system is fearful of change, and that all progressive political advocacy is good, true, pure and right. Anyone who stands in the way is just motivated by hate, ignorance, fear or bigotry. Probably all of the above.  

In 2020, Progressivism is the ideology of the ruling class. Once effectively able to affect a pretense of working class legitimacy, the modern liberal establishment is unabashedly global, cosmopolitan, and aristocratic in temperament. Most importantly, they’ve gotten filthy rich. Once comprised of labor unions, blue collar workers, and various bleeding heart middle income urbanites who could convincingly exploit grievances against the 1%, the modern liberal establishment is clearly the plutocracy it once opposed. Comprised of pretentious academics, judicial activists, NGO’S, non-profit sector denizens, media elites, effete celebrities, sports tycoons and their overpaid, preening athletes, Silicon Valley moguls, hedge fund and private equity barons, Wall Street titans, intelligence professionals, bureaucrats who inhabit every level of power from the municipality up to the UN, IMF and World Bank, and legions of annoying professional activists in every corner of cultural influence, the progressive establishment is anything but an embattled underdog.  

Needless to say, if you subscribe to this worldview, you aren’t likely to question the success or failure of yesterday’s policy victory nor the underlying belief that today’s cause célèbre is anything less than a moral imperative. Christopher Caldwell’s new book, The Age of Entitlement, is a look back on the entire spectrum of legislative and cultural reforms of the 60s and the ways in which they ushered in an entirely new social compact and subverted constitutional precedent. What’s fascinating about his analysis is that he reveals that these changes were so sweeping, they continued their inexorable march through every power structure regardless of who occupied the White House or which party held a Congressional majority.  While conservatives may feel a sense of vindication and triumphalism by the Trump presidency, The Age of Entitlement should make anyone with traditional sensibilities deeply concerned. 

At the center of his critique is a sweeping indictment of the Civil Rights movement. Specifically, the Civil Rights Act of ’64 and its subsidiary revolutions, feminism and the so-called “counterculture“. While Caldwell isn’t the first to go after these sacred cows, he is taking a different tack than Thomas Sowell and Paul Gottfried did in their analyses. The Age of Entitlement is useful in the sense that it provides a serviceable narrative to describe the massive cultural and institutional transformation ushered in under the banner of civil rights. What’s less useful about the book is that it offers no remedy nor any refuge for anyone who claims the mantle of conservatism of any kind.

Not only does it shed a light on the origins of today’s demagoguery disguised as activism, it exposes these reforms as simultaneously the most sweeping in the history of the republic and the biggest failures in terms of creating a more harmonious relationship between blacks and whites and men and women. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 created a bureaucracy of judicial activists, academics, and compliance apparatchiks so vast, the net effect was nothing less than a complete disassembly of constitutional norms of free association in favor of a police state mentality which looked for bigotry and discrimination even if there was none to be found.

Even if Trump secures a second term, the Right must contend with the cultural reality that the outworking of the liberal worldview has wrought. As Seraphim Rose argues in Nihilism, the underlying presuppositions of liberalism have become unraveled and its hollow core is exposed as never before.  Caldwell argues that the new Civil Rights compact set the old constitutional norms in opposition to the new ones. It might be tempting to say that all that’s required is a reset of old fashioned constitutional principles, but who really believes that this is a tenable proposition at this juncture? 

The country would therefore become an economic part rather than an economic whole, rendering nonsensical, at least for a while, all kinds of inherited cultural and political beliefs about sovereignty, national independence, and social cohesion. 

p. 173

Political conservativism is built on the liberal operating system. It can only work for a while as long as the assumptions of the premodern mindset remain intact. In other words, it assumes that there are objective moral principles and that there are transcendent truths to which we and our leaders are bound through the nation state. However, at this point in time, nothing can be taken as a given nor can any inherited tradition be considered exempt from the bonfires of revolution. If a society can no longer agree on what is shared or held to be sacred, then you’ve got a social malady that extends far beyond the purview of any legislative remedy. Christopher Caldwell has done a fantastic job chronicling the unraveling of 20th century democratic capitalism, but it does not answer the question of where to place your ultimate faith in the tumultuous years that lie ahead. And I daresay that may require an appeal to a higher power.  

Lucasfilm after Kathleen Kennedy: Our Only Hope?

Now that The Rise of Skywalker is out and a confirmed turd, what will become of Star Wars? Can Lucasfilm right the ship after Kathleen Kennedy and coterie of pop culture arsonists have immolated the lore? Can Star Wars be salvaged? Can Star Wars ever matter again?

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.

God willing, the rumors are true that Kathleen Kennedy’s ignominious tenure as head of Lucasfilm is coming to an end. Hopefully, we’ll look back on her stewardship as a mercifully brief, but painfully depraved act of vandalism on a beloved pop culture franchise. Maybe Star Wars won’t recover from her reign of terror, but we can always hope for the best and imagine the possibilities.

In a normal world, the failure of the sequel trilogy should prompt an earnest reappraisal of the relevance of the entire Star Wars franchise in the 21st century. At its core, Star Wars celebrates the revolutionary ethos; the scrappy underdogs taking on the mechanistic totalitarian behemoth. In 1977, this mixture of pulp sci-fi, Jungian archetypes, and old school Hollywood swashbuckling felt fresh and innovative. You could even make the case that it had reactionary overtones since the final celebration of A New Hope heralded the restoration of a monarchical aristocracy. Even if Princess Leia ultimately submitted herself to the interplanetary democratic bureaucracy, she was still royalty. Even JJ Abrams affirmed this fact in one of Lor San Tekka’s throwaway lines.

The sequel trilogy tried to present itself as a fresh update by putting a more multicultural, intersectional veneer on Star Wars, but the underlying formula remained the same. Embattled democratic idealists fighting an infinitely resourced technocratic military dictatorship. But what’s so rebellious about pandering to feminists, LGBTQ ideologues, and vegans or giving lip service to other hollow progressive pieties? Nothing.

Is this pop space opera formula even relevant anymore if you’re looking to revive Star Wars for a new generation?

It could be.

If the Disney Corporation had any real courage or was really interested making Star Wars relevant while repurposing the basic formula, they would have to completely realign the struggle between the Rebellion and the Empire. What gets easily forgotten is that the Rebels simply want to reclaim the seat of power of the interplanetary democratic imperium. They’re not trying to dismantle the Galactic Senate. Their ambitions are no different than the Empire in terms of acquiring power. You’re left to assume that they’ll just be more humane cuz womyn and multiculturalism and shit.

A more courageous 21st century Star Wars would focus on the #Brexiteers of the New Republic; planets who are sick of a bloated and decadent bureaucracy of indifferent elites on Coruscant. It would focus on societies who don’t want the crushing conformity and ineptitude of a multiplanetary super state. Since Disney is a propaganda arm of the globalist power structure, they’ll never do that. If anything, they’ll continue to offer up cartoonish strawmen of secessionists and Nazis as the sole embodiments of pure evil.

Should Disney just break the universe down into its constituent parts and focus on small scale projects like The Mandalorian?

Maybe. The Mandalorian seems to be drawing enthusiastic praise from the fans. Perhaps Star Wars makes more sense as a crime/Western or as a gritty remix of The Dirty Dozen a la Rogue One. It invites questions about whether or not these reinventions can even be called Star Wars, but people just want something that’s good even if it bears no resemblance to the OT. If Lucasfilm can just write a decent story and create memorable characters, the fans would be lining up to hand over their cash.

What’s obvious to anyone who isn’t already ideologically aligned with the Disney Corporation is that they are the Empire. Does anyone really believe that the military-industrial corporate powers behind a multibillion dollar global conglomerate like the Disney Corporation represent any kind of real world revolutionary underdog? Mass produced revolutionary chic is the ethos and the product of the global corporate democratic elite. #Rebellion is the establishment. Subsequently, they’re ideologically cornered. The safe bet is that we’ll continue to watch all their storytelling choices get funneled into this narrow cul de sac. Any other narrative choices are either too risky or just too far off the ideological reservation for the Disney Corporation.

Despite the romantic lip service to democracy, the Star Wars franchise is actually a subtle indictment of democracy. The prequel series traces the decline of the Old Republic while the subsequent chapters portray two generations of revolution. Not exactly a glowing endorsement of democracy. The series constantly glorifies rebellion as the highest virtue, but portrays the ability to govern and lead as a recipe for dictatorship. The Empire are clearly more accomplished at marshalling resources and maintaining order, but the means by which they achieve it is either through violence, fear, brainwashing or overwhelming military might.

A more honest and mature Star Wars would portray pro-Empire worlds who were beneficiaries of the military-industrial contracts and largesse. To amass that much military might purely through coercion absolutely strains credibility. Comfort, leisure, and entertainment coupled with order, safety and stability are far more effective means of population control than guns, prisons and superweapons ever will be. The perennial portrait of murderous Imperial monsters who just want to annihilate every world in the galaxy just doesn’t add up. They need resources, labor, and a tax base. They won’t have anything to govern if they just vaporize every planet in the imperium. It’s not exactly the mythic dichotomy portrayed in the franchise, but it would be a fresh update.

A more honest and mature Star Wars would also portray the Rebels for what they likely really are in the real world: controlled opposition; a subversive element which provides a pretext for consolidating more power. The Rebels would either be demagogues marshalling public sentiment, terror cells, or fifth column elements attempting to destabilize planets unsympathetic to the Empire. No one in the New Republic really wants a Holdo leading military fleets. In contrast to their real world progressive counterparts, the Rebels clearly do not repudiate firearm ownership, opportunistically glorify military leadership or embrace phony postures of pacifism.

I never thought I’d see the day when the gatekeepers of a major pop culture franchise would use it to telegraph their utter hatred for the mythology and the fans the way Kathleen Kennedy has over this film cycle. As someone who always regarded the very idea of being paid generous sums of cash to tell stories and be creative as the greatest achievement, this strikes me as the height of decadence and entitlement.

I certainly think Star Wars could matter in the 21st century, but I don’t blame anyone for writing it off as a dead mythology at this point. Because of the impact it made on me while I was growing up, it’s hard for me to completely reject it. However, that doesn’t mean I’m signing up for Disney+ just so I can watch The Mandalorian either. Because George Lucas lit my soul on fire back in 1977, part of me will continue to hold out a new hope that someone at Lucasfilm will simply love Star Wars and its fans. I’d like to think there’s room for a big hearted pop culture mythology that actually respects its fans and source material. Despite being the property of the most entitled and compromised people on the planet, I believe Star Wars could reclaim that position again. Help us, Kevin Feige. You’re our only hope.

Clown World Woke Revisionism: John Legend and Kelly Clarkson play Donnie and Marie for Cancel Culture

Back in the day, all the cool kids were unanimous in their opposition to puritanical scolds of the time, the PMRC. For those who didn’t live through it or simply don’t recall, the Parents Music Resource Center was a committee comprised predominantly of the wives of Washington elites who were Deeply Troubled by the lack of content warnings on major recordings. In short, they wanted a warning label on pop and rock records which contained racy lyrical content so they could theoretically police their kids’ purchases. Needless to say, the PMRC created a shitstorm of controversy, and the ensuing schism predictably arrayed public sentiment into two camps. The forces of secular liberal rock n’ roll freedom were set against the forces of stodgy, repressive secular conservatism. The PMRC’s crowning achievement was a televised Senate hearing in 1985 which ultimately ushered in the era of the Parental Advisory sticker warning on albums.

Despite the industry concession, the hearing produced three of the most memorable and pugilistic anti-censorship speeches ever delivered by modern musicians. Not the least of which was Frank Zappa’s combative diatribe. Who didn’t relish hearing Frank Zappa dish out such well deserved scorn and contempt on this self-appointed group of busybodies?

The PMRC got their warning sticker, but the entire crusade seemed like a pyrrhic victory. All it did was incentivize rockers to make records that would earn them the sticker. The Parental Advisory became a new badge of honor for the edgy rocker or rapper. What kid didn’t want to buy the album with the Parental Advisory warning? Musicians boasted about its instant appeal. At the end of the day, the PMRC seemed like an orchestrated stunt which ultimately emboldened and sanctified the rebellious rocker who gleefully held his middle finger aloft in permanent defiance of all would-be establishment moral authority. “Fuck off, prudes” was rock n’ roll’s permanent answer to any pleas for restraint from morality cops.

However, I believe the PMRC was a harbinger of a far more pernicious trend that has achieved its ultimate and inevitable conclusion in what has now been deemed Cancel Culture. The abiding lesson that the social engineer class likely recognized (planned?) from this exercise is that top down enforcement of morality doesn’t work. Subsequently, the various gatekeepers of cultural consensus who inhabit the academic, media and entertainment spheres have cleverly smuggled a tightly knit package of woke pieties into the public consciousness through a multigenerational indoctrination campaign that is now reaping its harvest. If you can succeed at encapsulating vast social evils into omnipresent yet infinitely subjective terms like “patriarchy”, “toxic masculinity” or “rape culture”, people won’t just accept censorship. They’ll actively police content for signs of transgression and demand it. It’s the type of Pavlovian style psychological conditioning that Aldous Huxley portrayed in vivid detail in Brave New World.

All of which brings me to John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s abominable turd of a remake of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. To anyone who’s attuned to methods of the Missionaries of Wokegnosis, this is a sad inevitability. Any time you see a steady drip of woke thinkpieces in the media or gender studies papers bitching about something being “problematic” on one or more grounds of woke sin, you can predict with absolute and ironclad certainty that this particular piece of pop culture has been slated for demolition.

The ways that this remake is a pointless, hypocritical and destructive affront to a wonderful song are manifold, but the most egregious of which is the sanctimonious aura of moral authority that is implied by its very existence. The entire realm of rock and pop has maintained a posture of unrepentant hedonism and decadence since Elvis gyrated his hips on Ed Sullivan. “Fuck off, prudes” and “Don’t be rapey, you misogynistic bigot” are mutually exclusive positions. You can’t have it both ways, assholes.

Are they taking aim at Cardi b’s “Stripper Hoe” or Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side”? Of course not. Instead, they create a shitty revision of a beloved song just to virtue signal and score a few cheap #MeToo points from blue checkmarks on Twitter. Why? Because it’s easy. They can point the finger at The Past and tear down the achievements of others for failing to pass the fake moral purity test of the hashtag warriors.

The worldview which gave rise to this posture of pious censoriousness is straight out of the Herbert Marcuse School of Repressive Intolerance. It thrives on a presumption of an irreconcilable Left/Right dialectic in which all forms of convention or tradition which can be even loosely attributed to the Judeo-Christian worldview are forms of false consciousness which must be summarily torn down and remade in a progressive mold. Sadly, this is why the Missionaries of Wokegnosis cannot actually create anything of lasting value let alone anything people really want to consume. All they can do is infiltrate the legacy of works created by others and tear them down by imposing their idiotic and misguided ideology. These people simply cannot create original works that stand on their own merits. They can only desecrate the works of minds far superior to their own.

In retrospect, the PMRC seemed far more honorable than the woke revisionists of today because at least they were reasonably consistent about which songs they believed contained morally questionable or reprehensible content.

The same cannot be said about the phony #WOKE posturing of John Legend and Kelly Clarkson in their pointless and wretched revision of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. In an utterly shameless grab for virtue points from their online echo chamber, the song is nothing but a cavalcade of the same dumb clichés and platitudes that already permeate the culture. It’s bad enough that a company which manufactures shaving products for men has to push this toxic gruel into the public square, but it’s even worse that the simple pleasures that everyone could once enjoy during Christmas have to get a woke makeover.

This is ultimately what makes John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s transformation into the Donnie and Marie of Cancel Culture just another contemptible manifestation of America’s descent into Clown World. The most decadent and compromised people on earth are dispensing moral lectures by ruining Christmas songs. Men and women can’t be flirtatious and fall in love anymore. Courtship and chivalry don’t exist. Subsequently, the ultimate virtue is for the man to treat women like radioactive material while encouraging her to #shoutyourabortion and be a “self-partnered” wine aunt. The sheer cynicism and hubris is what makes this truly detestable. It is designed to be the turd in the Christmas punchbowl. They knew it would spark a backlash and they’ll respond with some other predictably idiotic cliche about how they’re “just trying to start a conversation” or “raise awareness”. We’re not buying it, assholes. Do us all a favor and cancel your shitty and unnecessary remake.

Apocalypse Now Redux (1979)

When Apocalypse Now was released, it was heralded as a scathing indictment of the amorality of the Vietnam War. The war that divided America and defined an entire generation of alleged revolutionaries had finally been seen through the unflinching gaze of one of cinema’s greatest artists. In the wake of the release of Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut, the cinematic auteur himself has come clean and said that he doesn’t see it as an antiwar film. This is precisely the feeling with which I was left upon reviewing the film. It reveals the hot war in Vietnam as the merely the overt flipside to the domestic psychological degradation and debasement of the American soul being perpetrated through the media and the culture. If anything, Apocalypse Now reveals the savagery, futility and moral vacuum of modern warfare as its own form of psychological propaganda. The decadence and hedonism that had been unleashed in the counterculture were the exact same tools that were used to keep the ground forces numb to their own pain, loneliness and guilt. Sex, drugs and rock and roll weren’t the signifiers of rebellion that gatekeepers of culture would lead us to believe. The narcotic nihilism of The Doors’ “The End” playing against the symphony of destruction in the film’s opening isn’t really a lament. It’s a psychedelic sedative that’s meant to inoculate you to the juggernaut of inhumanity to which you are about to be subjected. These were the new chains of enslavement deployed by social engineers who had built their careers perfecting the means by which to erode the foundations of a healthy society. The combat was simply the laboratory in which the ideas were tested and the means by which the process was hastened.

Apocalypse Now makes this abundantly clear throughout the film in several different ways. The most obvious of which is the scene that Coppola himself concedes is a glorification of aerial combat. Lt. Colonel Kilgore revels in the fact that the Vietnamese are terrified by the sound of Wagner blaring over the helicopter squadron’s loudspeakers as they mercilessly slaughter the terrified civilians. The combination of aural psyops and aerial bombardment feels less like a rebuke and more like a celebration of American military dominance. Hell, you can even find articles discussing the possibility of video game adaptations. The practice of musical psyops has been extended into the era of Middle Eastern warfare with the only significant difference being the switch to heavy metal instead of 19th century operatic pagan mysticism. Same idea, different expressions.

The role of the media in advancing the domestic propaganda effort receives emphasis as well. When Willard arrives at the beachhead where Kilgore’s division is stationed, he is immediately met by a television crew directed by Coppola himself. In a meta moment, he instructs Willard to look like he’s engaged in combat. It’s a brief but highly effective scene because Coppola is revealing that the footage that would eventually be culled by Ken Burns and repackaged as hard hitting documentary was arguably just as stage managed as the fictitious effort you are viewing.

Despite the prevalence of Domino Effect narratives promulgated by the political class and official histories, Coppola goes one better by suggesting that the Viet Cong were yet another enemy created by the US government in a century that would be defined by wars fought for the express purpose of taking down manufactured boogeymen in service of the expansion of the Pax Americana. When Willard visits with the French colonists, he is given a lecture on American proxy warfare by Gaston de Marais.

Gaston de Marais: You Americans. In 1945, yeah, after the Japanese war, your president Roosevelt didn’t want the French people to stay in Indochina. So, you Americans implant the Vietnam.

Willard: [to Hubert] What’s he mean?

Hubert: Yeah, that’s true. The Vietcong were invented by the Americans, sir.

Willard: The Americans?

Gaston de Marais: And now you take the French place. And the Vietnam fight you. And what can you do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Later in the film, Kurtz’s sardonic reading of a Time magazine article suggests the naked and sanitized deception and the media were routinely peddling. The mention of Sir Robert Thompson’s affiliation with the neocons of the RAND Corporation simultaneously hints at the technocratic administration of the war effort while foreshadowing the eventual controlled release of the Pentagon Papers. As films like Wag the Dog and Network have so brilliantly illustrated, Hollywood has been completely forthright about the media’s rank mendacity and captured allegiance on numerous occasions. You need people as skillful as Steven Spielberg who can churn out agitprop like The Post to make the shills in the media seem heroic. This is ultimately what I believe Coppola was saying with Dennis Hopper’s drug addled photojournalist. Despite Kurtz’s murderous megalomania, Hopper remained enthralled by his poetic mystique. Hardly the behavior of an allegedly objective chronicler of America’s long term commitment in Vietnam.

Apocalypse Now offers what can now be seen as a fleeting moment in the ongoing politicization of sex. Once upon a time, liberals were actually promoting sexual liberation. They still do, but it’s been overshadowed by a lot of #MeToo moral grandstanding. Libidinous displays of female sexuality were simultaneously hailed as evidence of the liberated modern woman as well as a way to stick it to the conservative prudes. Coppola brings this to the forefront by portraying what amounts to a DOD sponsored strip show featuring Playboy playmates. Not only does it show how liberalism actively promotes sexual degeneracy, but it reveals Playboy as one of many forms of legal prostitution embedded within the entertainment complex.

If this seems like it’s a world away from the current cultural moment, it’s because liberals are a clever bunch. They carefully tend to the maintenance of both sides of the dialectic by deploying assets who can push the opposing perspective. They’ll happily peddle a former stripper like Cardi b in the mainstream while the entire feminist media complex will breathlessly extol the bravery of the #MeToo “movement”. Don’t believe me? Just ask feminist extraordinaire Gloria Steinem about her stint as a CIA asset and Playboy bunny.

Much like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now is a study in the real dynamics of American power. In one of many of Willard’s voice overs, he puzzles over the seemingly arbitrary decision to take Kurtz out. Kurtz was being groomed to take his place in the highest echelons of the American power structure. Because he had made the decision to step out of line and build his own cult of personality, he became a liability. His decorated status also made it necessary to make Kurtz’s retirement a black operation. It couldn’t be conducted through official channels because it would have been bad PR. It’s not about upholding any sacred honor or fixed morality. It’s about the preservation of the power structure at any cost.

Coppola also strongly suggests the link between the occult and the deep state. Kurtz had taken his considerable military training and transformed himself into a cult leader. I also believe that the appearances of Sir James George Frazer’s Golden Bough and Willard’s discovery of a newspaper article about Charles Manson were not accidents. Kurtz ended up being sacrificed at the altar of the death cult that bred him. His only transgression was carrying out his training without the sanction of his superiors.

In the paganistic final scene, Willard is immediately recognized as the new cult leader simply by virtue of slaughtering Kurtz. Three years after the release of Apocalypse Now, screenwriter John Milius directed a little sword and sorcery film called Conan the Barbarian starring a bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the film, he seeks vengeance against a cult leader who murdered his family. The final scene of Conan is deeply reminiscent of the conclusion of Apocalypse Now. The exact same premise of the gritty Vietnam War drama is effortlessly transferred over to the pulp fantasy epic. Hollywood doesn’t have a lot of tricks up its sleeve. If they’re recycling the same idea in two major motion pictures, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s a message they’re deeply invested in promoting.

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

I suppose I have to give Jim Jarmusch some credit. I watched another one of his films, and I was so disarmed by its laconic detachment and deadpan humor, I almost forgot that it masked his utter hatred for middle America. Almost. Admittedly, it’s a skill every Hollywood filmmaker needs to master, but like Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson, Jarmusch’s skill is above average. Not perfect mind you, but certainly above average. Almost no one knows how to write real characters or craft real drama in a screenplay anymore. Subsequently, any director who can imitate the gestures of actual filmmakers gets considered an auteur and attracts a loyal following amongst Hollywood’s A-listers. His films have a distinct directorial POV, but he’s also one of those guys who has made the terms “indie” and “quirky” into pejoratives. That’s Jarmusch in a nutshell.

The Dead Don’t Die is a quintessentially postmodern zombie film. Similar to Tarantino, the whole thing is simply layers of meta-references to other films and pieces of pop culture which ultimately reveal a hollow core of contempt. Adam Driver’s Officer Ronnie Peterson foreshadows the ending by repeating the refrain “This is definitely going to end badly”. With this wink and nod, Jarmusch is signaling that there are no dramatic stakes whatsoever. He even wrangles a cheap laugh by using it as a device for breaking the fourth wall and making some self-congratulatory inside jokes. It’s the Waiting for Godot of zombie films. Whatever pleasure you derive from the film rests on your enjoyment of the deadpan banter between the characters.

The film is essentially a giant pisstake on small town Middle America. With the Cohen brothers, you at least get a kernel of residual affection. No such luck with Jarmusch. To him, these people are just contemptible hicks and hayseeds who deserve the zombie apocalypse that’s coming. Naturally, he engages in some standard Hollywood virtue signaling. The minority characters are all plucky, intelligent, and interesting. The white characters are slow witted, unsophisticated, and charmless. Steve Buscemi is bestowed with the dubious honor of perpetuating Hollywood’s deathless strawman of the provincial, racist MAGA dirtbag. He stoops to a Sarah Silverman-esque depth of hatred by giving him a hat which reads “Make America White Again” and naming his dog Rumsfeld. OMG! IT’S A REFERENCE TO DONALD RUMSFELD. AND IT’S HIS DOG! ISN’T THAT FUCKING HILARIOUS YOU GUYS! Fuck you, Jarmusch. It’s bad enough that no one in Hollywood knows or cares about anyone in middle America, but the fact that this lazy, royalist condescension is so commonplace is just beyond the pale.

On the positive side, the film can be read as subtle nod to the role of geoengineering’s effect on climate change. The zombie apocalypse is triggered by something called “polar fracking”. In the film, it messes with earth’s rotation. What it probably refers to is some kind of tech that manipulates the electromagnetic spectrum since it messes with everyone’s devices. Jarmusch undoubtedly wants it to be seen as comeuppance for middle America’s indifference to or skepticism of The Climate Crisis. Like the globalist elites they represent, if you just get past the smoke and mirrors, Hollywood is always tipping its hand.

I believe the title of the film reveals the establishment’s exasperation with middle America. After years and years of global trade polcy which has decimated rural America, a flood of opoids into the communities, agribusiness consolidation and a neverending onslaught of propaganda which consistently casts flyover country in the most negative light possible, the global elites cannot stand that middle America will not just roll over and capitulate to their progressive overlords. To them, they’re already dead. And yet, they won’t die. So let’s pile on one more insult by just portraying them as zombies that need to be culled by some righteous Malthusians who are just being responsible stewards of Mother Earth.

Bonus points for Chloe Sevigny giving one of the most honest portraits of a female cop since Tyne Daly in The Enforcer. But that’s all you get, Jarmusch.

American Bolshevism: The Tragedy and Inevitability of the Destruction of San Francisco’s Counterrevolutionary Arnautoff Mural

A little over a year ago, I wrote a piece arguing in favor of Trump’s aborted threat to defund the federal arts apparatus. Like so many conservatives who preceded him, Trump didn’t deliver on this promise and the progressive outrage mob was placated for at least five full seconds. I stand behind the argument I made in the piece, but the recent decision in San Francisco to destroy Victor Arnautoff’s New Deal era George Washington mural prompted a reappraisal of the underlying assumptions of my original argument. Specifically, the possibility that a publicly funded work of art portaying Washington in a less than heroic light holds value in a world of indiscriminate cultural destruction.

For those unfamiliar with the story, the San Francisco city council voted to allocate $600k in taxpayer money to destroy a mural that was commissioned by FDR’s Works Progress Administration and painted by a communist. Why? Because it’s a painful reminder to San Francisco’s Oppressed POCs that AmeriKKKa subjugated and murdered indigenous and brown people, you disgusting bigot. DUH.

For anyone with a rightward perspective, this is yet another moment of vindication and schadenfreude. The self-proclaimed champions of publicly funded art, and the guardians of culture itself by extension, who once celebrated this piece as a triumph of what enlightened and progressive government can achieve have done a full 180. Now, they want to destroy what is presently condemned by the #WOKE proletariat as a symbol of AmeriKKKa’s irredeemable wickedness. Because what else would you expect? Such is the nature of the #SocialJustice ratchet effect.

Let’s pause to do a brief recap and allow ourselves to take in the fullness of the cognitive dissonance. Here we have a mural painted by a communist which views Washington’s legacy through the highly parsimonious lens of Marxist historical revisionism. In other words, it’s a view of Washington designed to emphasize the oppression and misery versus the heroic achievements. This piece was commissioned by FDR’S Works Progress Administration and funded with federal tax dollars yet is now officially Counterrevolutionary Hate Speech according to San Francisco’s #WOKE Revolutionary Commissars. The layers of irony boggle the imagination. Arnautoff’s mural doubtless had numerous detractors both conservative and radical at its inception and since its installment. Regardless, it was piece funded by taxpayers presumably to commemorate both the New Deal and Washington for posterity, but is now being destroyed at taxpayer expense.

Alrighty then.

On one hand, it perfectly validates the case against publicly funded art. When art is funded by taxpayers it can’t avoid being politicized and becomes fodder for the fickle winds of contemporary sentiment. In this case, yesterday’s progressivism isn’t progressive enough for today’s revolutionaries. Case closed. If you think we’ve already entered the 9th circle of Clown World hell, think again. For some on the radical Left, this is seen either as bourgeois oppression of communist culture or an excuse to double down on revolutionary goals!

But let’s take a step back and consider the magnitude of this loss in the wake of today’s neverending slow motion Cultural Revolution. Regardless of your opinion of the NEA, FDR or the painting itself, I invite you to consider that this was an attempt, however niggardly, at canonizing Washington and his legacy for all Americans. Subsequently, it can rightfully be viewed as a contribution to America’s cultural heritage, and by extension, a source of national pride. In contrast to the Left’s overt attempts to troll conservatives with taxpayer money with pieces like “Piss Christ” or Mapplethorpe’s Corcoran Gallery exhibit, Arnautoff’s piece had enough of a veneer of earnestness that any American could, in theory, take a small measure of pride in our first POTUS. It is more likely that the mural was yet another way for spiteful leftists to troll conservatives by forcing them to fund communist propaganda, but for the sake of argument, let’s take the most charitable interpretation of the original intent and grant that this effort was animated by a sense of real national pride. I concede that it’s a stretch of imagination, but let’s give it a shot.

The Left has been carrying out a slow motion Cultural Revolution for the past couple years. In contrast to yesterday’s liberals who could at least pretend that they cared about expressions and symbols of national pride, contemporary progressives make no effort to conceal their utter disdain for America. Whether it’s the idiotic preening of Megan Rapinoe and Colin Kaepernick, the demolition of Confederate statues or the routine flag burnings, these acts of vandalism are the acts of cultural destruction one expects from totalitarian ideologues who wish to erase all vestiges of national unity and pride. It’s behavior we saw in Mao’s regime, the Khmer Rouge, the Bolsheviks, the Jacobins as well as their Islamic counterparts in ISIS and Boko Haram. It’s a steady erosion of the past to pave the way for another Year Zero.

People want and crave heroic ideals and individuals who embodied these ideals. In contrast to just about every other nation, America is a young country built on what were believed to be pure and noble philosophical abstractions completely divorced from metaphysics and theology. However, people do not follow abstractions. They follow leaders who best embody heroic ideals. This is precisely why America’s founders are idealized in works of art, national symbols and monuments. Despite their human foibles and errors in judgment, America’s founders are intentionally romanticized for the express purpose of concretizing American ideals and binding the citizenry together in their preservation for posterity.

Unfortunately, it is the spirit of negation at the core of American republicanism that makes the destruction of the Arnautoff mural both a bitter loss and an inevitability. Ideally, a publicly funded work of art would be something that would represent a universal and timeless ideal which upholds a classical standard of beauty. One would hope that such a project would be borne of a genuine spirit of national pride and would inspire unity for generations to come. However, the very possibility of either universal timeless ideals or objective aesthetics are impossible in the post-Enlightenment worldview. The current decision is likely the exact outcome the painting was intended to produce.

For the the communist, the only ideal he sanctifies is perpetual revolution. Despite America itself being a product of revolutionary ideals, the communist sees only bourgeois subjugation of the various proletariat underclass groups he chooses to recognize for the purpose of advancing his own political power. The communist is not an aberration of American republicanism. He is inextricably linked to the post-Enlightenment dialectic. A society which purports to uphold a free marketplace of ideas has to allow people who only seek to destroy and undermine the very order that allows them to pursue their absurd and nihilistic jihad. After decades of propaganda which consistently casts the leftist rebel as the beleaguered underdog desperately struggling to be given his fair hearing in the court of public opinion, it has finally reached its logical conclusion in the unfortunate destruction of what was already a flawed memorial to America’s first President.

Echo in the Canyon (2018)

(aka Establishment Gen X Aristocrat Canonizes the Boomer Would-be Revolutionaries For Other Aging Boomers)

There’s one scene in Andrew Slater’s love letter to the seminal Laurel Canyon musicians that sums up the entire film. In one of many interview segments led by Jakob Dylan, Graham Nash gets all misty eyed as he looks back on those heady days of creative ferment and unbridled hedonism. “I still believe music can change the world,” he says just barely holding back the tears. Just then, it cuts to Jakob Dylan as he let’s Nash’s words hang in the air. He stares off into the distance, but to his credit, his expression reveals nothing. Maybe he’s taking in the full weight of Nash’s sentiment and genuinely feels a sense of humility. Or maybe he’s silently scoffing at Nash’s audacity for uttering such a pitifully idiotic and painfully maudlin platitude that no one really buys. Maybe he knows that Nash is just regurgitating a mythology that needs to be perpetually reinforced through books, awards shows and rockumentaries. Maybe it’s something in between.

Much like its recent companion, Rolling Thunder Revue, Echo in the Canyon has the distinct whiff of the establishment patting itself on the back. These were musicians who presented themselves as rule breaking revolutionaries, yet the film wants you see them as the torchbearers of the rock “tradition”. Herein lies the great conundrum that the Flower Power Generation cannot reconcile. As anyone who’s read David McGowan’s excellent and far superior survey of the Canyon scene knows, these people were already children of the establishment. They made great music, but they were also trafficking a lot of social degeneracy. The film only scratches the surface of the extent of the hedonism these people were importing into the culture.

I’m sure it felt really transgressive to be for tuning in, turning on and dropping out back then. But this was the generation that turned out a generation of latchkey kids. This is the generation that ushered in higher divorce and suicide rates and enshrined abortion as an article of faith. This is the generation that got hooked on cocaine in the 80s and gave rise to innumerable cults and self-help gurus. This is the generation that colonized Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and the Democratic Party. Can music change the world? Of course it can. But what kind of “change” are we talking about exactly?

As expected, there is no mention of the dark underbelly of the Canyon scene. They completely sidestep the body count and the mysterious deaths that amassed around these people. They completely ignore Charles Manson’s proximity to the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas. There’s no discussion of the various mob, military and CIA connections behind the clubs and the record industry. This may explain why the scene in which Beck, Regina Spektor and Dylan attempt to philosophize over the broader cultural impact of these bands feels forced, artificial and utterly laughable.

They talk about the drugs and the sex, but you know they’ve completely sanitized it. Hearing Michelle Phillips talk about her affair with Denny Doherty isn’t titillating or cute. It’s pathetic and contemptible because it radiated out into the culture and wrought tragic results. Where were the uncensored interviews with Carnie and Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips to give their unfiltered perspective on what it was like to grow up with these paragons of parental excellence? These people knew exactly what they were doing, yet we’re expected to treat them like royalty.

Right.

Go fuck yourselves, Boomers.