Category Archives: feminism

On the Basis of Sex (2018)

There is an unquestionable overabundance of woke agitprop coming from Hollywood these days, but between this and the 2018 “documentary” by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the cinematic love letter to Notorious RBG has become its own subgenre. I went in expecting epic cringe and it didn’t disappoint. It is the veritable hymnal for the feminist catechism that I expected. 

However, the film seems to be running at cross purposes with contemporary sensibilities. On one hand, it is refueling the feminist grievance industry by attempting to portray the world of 2020 as completely unchanged from the world of Harvard Law School in 1956 when RBG was one of six women in her class. As Sam Waterston’s Erwin Griswold confers with his team in preparation for the Charles Moritz case, Mimi Leder absolutely wants you find this cabal of white men who bloviate over the sanctity of the family loathsome and omnipresent. Down with the patriarchy! When Marty toasts Ruth’s new professorship after being turned down at law firms, you’re supposed to feel the revulsion and disappointment on Ruth’s visage as he refers to her as “mom”. Fuck motherhood man! Garbage collection gender equality NOW! 

Yet, at the same time, there is something decidedly unwoke about this film. While the film centers around RBG’s quest for redress of Charles Moritz’ denial of a caregiver tax deduction, the film already feels out of step with the cutting edge of the feminist ideological vanguard. In her arguments to the 10th circuit judges, RBG says that sex is an immutable biological reality. Whoa! Ease up there, Hitler. DIDN’T YOU READ JUDITH BUTLER, RUTH? 

But none of that matters. If anything, it’s proof that the progressive ruling class doesn’t take anything it says seriously. They’re all just different shards of ideological weaponry that can be deployed when necessary. As is usually the case with the best works of propaganda, it’s very clever about how the message is delivered. As a newly radicalized Jane Ginsburg tries to femsplain to her unwoke mom that Atticus Finch was a role model attorney, Ruth shoots her down by appealing to THE PENAL CODE as evidence of his unethical behavior. Ah, but why is Ruth Bader Ginsburg putting everything on the line for Charles Moritz? BECAUSE THE LAW IS WRONG. So the lesson is that the law is the ultimate authority until it’s politically inconvenient. Because every woman must have an equal opportunity to work street sanitation or fulfill her lifelong dream of working an oil derrick. 

As Ruth and Marty arrive at the 10th circuit courtroom for the climactic trial, Mimi Leder hovers over the quote inscribed on the wall. It reads “Reason is the soul of the law”. Sounds great, right? Standard Enlightenment rhetoric. It’s the stuff of which the American Revolution was built. It’s supposed to be the kind of lofty ideal on which which every American can agree. But who really thinks America in 2020 can agree on what “reason” means? Or who possesses the capacity to exercise it properly? Let alone believes in the existence of a “soul” within the law. 
RBG is the ultimate progressive power fantasy because she embodies the You Can Have It All feminist dream. She has a devoted husband and she’s a game changing crusader for Womyn’s Rights. She’s a mother and an educated career oriented woman. But Mimi Leder isn’t interested in whether or not this is attainable or desirable for everyone. Like everyone else in the progressive ruling class, the fantasy of ideological purity is the overriding priority. This is just as much a slice of a decades long social engineering experiment carried out by the progressive establishment as it is the story of a pivotal case in RBG’s career. Academia and the ACLU are just as important to this story as RBG herself. When Kathy Bates’ Dorothy Kenyon admonishes Ruth to “change minds, then change the law”, this feels like a page from the ruling class playbook. As a footnote, there is also what appears to be a nod to the Pentagon’s role in the development of artificial intelligence in the judicial system; a job that would later be outsourced to Silicon Valley. 

Just like the Cohen and West “documentary” from 2018, Mimi Leder also isn’t interested in looking back and taking stock of what the legacy of the feminist establishment has wrought. It’s painting RBG’s career as an unquestionably righteous neverending battle while simultaneously subtly denigrating marriage and motherhood. If equality is your highest ideal, then that necessarily entails that the hierarchy of values that once defined the social order will be equalized as well. When sex becomes recreational, then you shouldn’t be surprised or appalled by an entire generation of infantilized men or the dissolution of chivalry. And yet, that’s exactly the grift Leder and the progressive ruling class is attempting to pull off in this film. Just be sure to tweet SLAY KWEEN as you watch RBG do her slo-mo march up the SCOTUS staircase.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season 1 (2018)

Hollywood has been presenting witchcraft in a breezy packaging with an attractive female lead at least since Elizabeth Montgomery famously portrayed Samantha Stephens in Bewitched. It’s a great way to sanitize a concept that has long been stigmatized in folklore and history. You know it’s an idea in which Hollywood is deeply invested because they keep repackaging it and selling it to you over and over as though it’s something totally new. Whether it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time or Charmed, Hollywood serves up variations on the theme every few years. While Samantha Stephens’ nose twinkle cast a spell on the American public for a respectable eight seasons, America’s most beloved teenage thaumaturge is arguably Sabrina Spellman. Beginning as a spinoff character from the Archie comics world of Riverdale High, Sabrina is a half-witch with dead parents who simultaneously tries to harness her power for good while keeping her necromantic pedigree on the down low. It’s an idea that would eventually make JK Rowling mountains of cash, but like most pop culture phenomena, the soil had already been tilled by some other archetype. In this case, it is quite likely Ms. Spellman. Never allowing a good property to go to waste, Hollywood’s deep state coterie over at Netflix have brought Sabrina back for a second time in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Though I am unfamiliar with the Melissa Joan Hart version of the show which ran from 1996 to 2002, it’s pretty obvious that this is a much darker take on the character and story. Like way, way darker. Honestly, if I had a daughter who was at the age for whom this show is presumably targeted, I’d feel a bit reticent to allow her to watch.

The series portrays the days leading up to Sabrina’s 16th birthday which also happens to be her Dark Baptism. This ceremony would officially initiate her into the Church of the Night and allow her to begin her studies at the Academy of Unseen Arts. The problem is that she’d be required to forsake her life as a normal teenager and follow the path of witchcraft for eternity. This includes ditching beta retard boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, her annoying black SJW friend, Rosalind Sinclair, and her equally annoying non-binary friend, Susie Putnam. If this already sounds like the makings of another Hollywood SJW shit sandwich, you’d be correct. It’s not pure cringe, but when it goes there, it’s pretty bad.

Did you put something in my soymilk, Brina?

Read The Bluest Eye and get #WOKE, bigots.

Use my correct pronouns or get hexed, bigots.

Oh, it’s just ritualistic cannibalism, Sabrina.

Rounding out the Spellman family are Miranda Otto’s aristocratic Aunt Zelda. She is offset by fat and quirky Aunt Hilda played by Lucy Davis. The Spellman clan also includes the warlock mortician cousin, Ambrose. Because it’s the Current Year, he’s been reinvented as a black pansexual. Other than providing a reason to craft storylines that involve racism, an excuse to throw in some gratuitous Crowleyan butt sex scenes, and make a veiled reference to Pan in every news story, this reinvention makes no sense. Granted, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is himself gay, but it doesn’t make me any less cynical about the character rewrite.

Sabrina is also tracked by the formerly dowdy and bookish, Miss Wardwell. She’s possessed by an entity in the first episode and transforms into a vampy Elvira knockoff who’s initially presented as a Church of the Night excommunicate charged with guiding Sabrina towards the coven life. We’ve also got a trio of bitchy Mean Girl witches who exist to taunt and torment Sabrina at the Academy of Unseen Arts. Tati Gabrielle plays the alpha queen and she’s accompanied by her subservient drones, Agatha and Dorcas.

Naturally, Sabrina rebels against her witch aunts, Hilda and Zelda, because she feels that Father Blackwood was disingenuous when he assured her that she’d be able to exercise her free will after swearing allegiance to the Dark Lord and signing the Book of the Beast. Essentially, the show is presenting a bizarre inversion of the standard coming of age morality tale. Instead of the stifling strictures of conventional Christianity and Western traditionalism, you are presented with a plucky teenager bucking the conventions of Satanic Orthodoxy. Sabrina’s “rebellion” consists of taking up her dead father’s mantle of Satanic Protestantism and finding a Third Way that will eventually culminate in a confrontation with Satan himself. She is allowed to continue her dual citizenship in the world of witchcraft and mortality on the condition that she attend the Academy of Unseen Arts. With her allegiances pulled in opposite directions, which way will our brave heroine turn?

Needless to say, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is very heavy on the occultism. Very heavy. Admittedly, it is nearly impossible to find anything in the fantasy, horror or sci-fi realm which doesn’t feature occult themes and symbolism, but this one piles it on pretty thick. There’s nothing particularly occulted or hidden about it either. It’s as plain as it can be. Cannibalism, necromancy, blood sacrifice, sex magick, demonic possession, ritual abuse, Crowleyanism. The show’s acronym is itself a reference to chaos magick. You name it, this show has it. In terms of imagery, you’ve got the now ubiquitous Baphomet statue, tons of inverted crosses and pentagrams galore. Even the Latin incantations are 100% authentic. And remember, Marina Abramović said that occult magic wasn’t art when it was portrayed on television. So basically, you’re exposing yourself to true blue occultic invocations when watching CAOS. Fun for the whole family!

What’s especially insidious about CAOS is the manner in which it plays the wholesome source material against the dark themes and subject matter. As the titular character, Kiernan Shipka is likeable and attractive. Her affections for her boyfriend Harvey and her annoying SJW friends are convincing and endearing. She displays the requisite level of smarts and independence that make her a sympathetic lead for a youth oriented series. Conversely, the occultism is played with a comparably breezy tone while being pretty depraved.

View this post on Instagram

blueberry eyes…12 days until #caos

A post shared by Kiernan Shipka (@kiernanshipka) on

There is, of course, the predictable bevy of progressive SJW clichés. The main difference between this and your standard issue Hollywood bullshit is that CAOS gives you a clear window into the hidden metaphysics of the SJW worldview. This may seem like a political agenda arbitrarily grafted onto an occult themed teenage drama, but these ideas are, in fact, tightly interwoven. The show is replete with what’s now a standard hostility toward men. The majority of the male characters are either beta retards like Harvey, abusive, insecure bullies or lecherous dolts. The seemingly rote anti-male bigotry makes more sense when it’s linked to colonial era witchhunters who were Harvey’s ancestors. Subsequently, Sabrina’s romance with him is even more heretical because she’s consorting with the progeny of witch killers. Bloodlines matter in the occult worldview, and the weight of genetic determinism weighs just as heavily on Harvey’s fate as it does Sabrina. Even the current push for veganism and animal rights is tied back to a pagan veneration of animals as familiars and spirit guides.

Susie Putnam’s presence in the story feels at first like another checkbox ticked on the #DIVERSITY list, but her androgyny makes more sense when seen through the lens of hermetic metaphysics. Susie is a living Baphomet. As Eliphas Lévi points out in Transcendental Magic, the Baphomet is the alchemical union of the male and female divine principle.

Moreover, the sign of occultism is made with both hands, pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and downward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect concord between mercy and justice. One of the arms is feminine and other masculine, as in the Androgyne of Khunrath, whose attributes we have combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same symbol.

All of this pales in comparison to the epic cringe of the social justice club formed by Sabrina and her friends early in the series, WICCA. Formed as a group whose ostensible goal is fighting the omnipresent scourge of bullying, WICCA stands for Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association. You don’t have to look very hard to find all the standard SJW pet issues championed by pagan organizations. You’d think the #WOKE intelligentsia would be happy that this show was merging paganism with social justice, but NOPE. It’s just not good enough. Never is, really. Mass media MUST ALWAYS redouble its efforts to push culture towards the singularity of mass wokegnosis.

The conclusion of the series was every bit as nonsensical and incoherent as the staged row between The Satanic Temple and the producers of the show over their usage of the Baphomet statue. In other words, there’s no real conflict at all. The reason you’re sympathetic to Sabrina is because she refuses to sell her soul to Satan by signing the Book of the Beast. Her devotion to her friends and her apparent instincts for a set of supposedly higher virtues created a necessary tension to propel the story. But if you think about it for two seconds, there’s no real growth arc at all. Despite her initial refusal of the Dark Baptism, she attends the Academy of Unseen Arts and deploys the most powerful magical incantations in witchcraft as an expression of her devotion to Harvey. After it all backfires, she ends up capitulating to the Dark Lord, but only so she can summon even more powerful magic to ward off the threat to Harvey and the citizens of Riverdale. So she becomes a sort of Satanic Savior, but she ends up ditching the life she initially wanted to keep. While we surely haven’t seen the last of Sabrina’s mortal friends, the writers have set up a future confrontation between her and Madam Satan and Father Blackwood’s antichrist progeny. As she does her triumphant slo-mo march through the lobby of the Academy of Unseen Arts with her Mean Girl witches at her side, we’re supposed to cheer the fulfillment of her Satanic destiny. After all, she’s decked out in her Rosemary’s Baby miniskirt and she looks soooo cute in her new platinum blonde bob. YYYAAASSSSS. SLAY KWEEN.

Do you even Left Hand Path, bro?

Whatever.

All of which brings us to a couple of key questions. For whom was this show intended and what did its writers intend to convey? It’s seemingly targeted at the 10 to 25 year old set. Sure, you could argue that the 18+ crowd will regard it as just another confection in the endless digital feeding tube of Hollywood degeneracy. But what about the ongoing coverage of witches in the media? If this is just harmless entertainment, why are we seeing witchcraft being covered so sympathetically in the media with increasing frequency? And what about the younger set that will surely gravitate towards it? Satanism and witchcraft is cool as long as you “do the right thing” and avoid the Crowleyan sex orgies and ritual cannibalism? Be super careful when engaging in necromancy? Being a Wiccan is totes #WOKE if you believe in #SocialJustice?

I’d be disingenuous if I claimed that I didn’t find the Satanic posturing and iconography of Slayer, Mötley Crüe and Venom wildly transgressive when I was a youth. I perceived it as an act though. I didn’t think they were really serious about any of it. It was an affectation meant to rankle the Tipper Gores and Pat Robertsons of the world. CAOS feels different. This is a bildungsroman. This is the story of a teenager forming the value system she’ll carry into adulthood. The message seems to be that Satanism and witchcraft is cool because it helps you to #RESIST and smash the patriarchy. Listen, I enjoyed my delusions of teenage rebellion when I listened to Dio, too. I get it. I’d like to think there’s room for that kind of thing in the adolescent pop culture diet. But there’s a reason conservatives and progressives have struggled for cultural supremacy. Politics are downstream from culture, and you need a set of metaphysics to make sense of the progressive civic religion. So you smuggle them into the arts and pass it off as cultural transgression despite the fact that there are no real standards or barriers that remain to be broken. The culture is already sufficiently debased so any bubbles of outrage can be played up as evidence of the stranglehold of the demiurge over the minds of the population. And CAOS is here to tear it all down! The problem with the orthodoxy of progressivism is that the transgression threshold must be routinely demolished in order to even register on anyone’s outrage meter. Subsequently, the inverted cross on Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman album cover is just a quaint memory that dads like to bring up when they romanticize their youthful rebellion. Call me old fashioned, but I see a difference between a metal song about Aleister Crowley and a vivid portrait of ritualistic cannibalism that’s linked to Thelemic scripture. Since that’s the new threshold for transgression, can we really be certain that everyone watching will empathize with Sabrina’s revulsion? Especially since outlets like Vice are promoting the idea that cannibalism is edgy and cool. If this represents the the new standard for teenage rebellion, I’m not sure I want to see where this leads.

Help! I can’t keep track of my MK alters!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two (2015)

In contrast to classic dystopian sci-fi like Orwell and Huxley, there’s something really dishonest about The Hunger Games franchise. That’s not saying it’s devoid of revelation, but the fact that it’s sugar coating its true intentions and the nature of armed revolution makes this an especially pernicious piece of filmmaking. Despite its surprisingly pro-life conclusion, Mockingjay Part 2 is burdened by stilted performances, dumb PC cliches, a leaden tone and an absence of any real tension or adrenaline rush.

Mockingjay Part 2 finds our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, in the midst of an armed and surprisingly well supplied District 13 insurrection against President Snow and the Capitol. Peeta Mellark is still recovering from the MK Ultra mind control program to which he was subjected. Jilted former lover, Gale Hawthorne, is bummed about Katniss’s torn affections, but remains loyal to her, the revolution and Primrose regardless. President Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee are still running psychological warfare operations and propaganda campaigns from the cushy confines of the District 13 centcom.

The power of propaganda and psychological warfare is the overriding theme of Mockingjay. By the final film, Katniss’s status as Victor Tribute morphs into Revolutionary Messiah. Katniss was exploited as goddess-like heroine through the Games, but the Resistance have simply capitalized on her cult of personality to galvanize the masses for their revolutionary goals. She defies Coin’s orders to make propaganda videos from the secure confines of District 13’s Lookout Mountain Airforce Station and takes it upon herself to personally assassinate Snow. Like their real world globalist counterparts, Coin and Heavensbee resign themselves to her decision and resolve to make her moves seem controlled by the Resistance. When she arrives at the Resistance military compound, Katniss is greeted by a mass display of cultish obeisance. Upon being recognized, everyone stops whatever they were doing and huddles around her hoisting the three fingered salute that was used throughout Panem while she was a Tribute. Once the command forces accept that she can’t be controlled by Coin, they place her with what’s essentially a high tech special forces bomb squad for the express purpose of diffusing traps and weapons in between propaganda videos. Both sides are utilizing psyops and see it as essential to demoralizing the opposition.

The Hunger Games is doing the same thing every action/sci-fi/superhero franchise is doing when it comes to presenting what was once a relatively clear delineation between good and evil. It’s trying to eke out a grey area of Greater Good in a corrupted world of perpetual violence that sees the acquisition of “democratic” power as the highest goal. While the Resistance tries to carry out its carefully laid military plans, Katniss gets to be the voice of would be moral authority by pointing out that civilians and children will be killed along with Capitol Peacekeepers. Tough shit, honey. This is war, Katniss. Of course, Katniss can claim the moral high ground cuz she’s female and she’s the Mockingjay. Or something.

Of course, once they undertake their mission, they don’t hesitate to use deadly force. The film gets to sidestep this moral conundrum by making their enemies Peacekeepers or mutants. The Peacekeepers are just faceless goons in military regalia and the mutants are anonymous monsters whose existence is never explained to my knowledge. Perhaps they’re just the Capitol’s genetically engineered super soldiers.

The film is also showing the rank duplicity of the Left’s relationship to authority and hierarchy. In yet another resemblance to their real world globalist analogues, the District 13 shadow government is highly resourced and safely secluded while the rubes who fight in the trenches are kept compliant with propaganda videos and braindead promises of democracy. They exploit Katniss’s image by presenting her as mythical, quasi-divine icon just like every other pop culture heroine. The entire Resistance is no less hierarchical or authoritarian than the Capitol. They display total deference to Coin’s leadership and military command structures. Katniss is, however, the notable exception. Her journey began as an act of selflessness to protect Primrose, but her entire character arc since then has been defined by defiance. Herein lies the absurdity. Progressives have built an entire philosophy that’s designed around a posture of rebellion wrapped in flowery rhetoric while simultaneously seeking total domination and control. The film wants to have it both ways by showing that Katniss’s acts of defiance bring about #EQUALITY and #SocialJustice while ignoring that everyone else is required to fall in line.

It also sidesteps the bloodlust and hatred that had been stoked amongst the proles by both the Capitol and most especially the Resistance. Though Suzanne Collins really wants you to think that her story wasn’t just a retread of Animal Farm, it ends up being that anyway. By taking out Coin, Collins undoubtedly wanted to show that Katniss knew that she was just as corrupt as Snow. By removing him, she’d presumably forestalled a new dictatorship to replace the old. But assassinating Coin only unleashed the desire to exact bloody revenge on Snow. The proles essentially tore him to pieces. You can’t unleash that kind of revolutionary bloodlust and expect to control it. The Resistance would have had to resort to the same iron fisted military force that their deposed enemies did. The idea that everything just worked out peacefully after Snow’s death is ludicrous.

One theme that seemed curiously absent was the actual presence of food and hunger. Hunger was a more prominent theme in the first film, but by the final film, it seems to have diminished in significance. The first film did a good job of showing how food deprivation was used as a control mechanism and the excess of the Capitol was seen as decadence. If anything, the only hunger was a desire for vengeance. The one time there is an overt reference to food is when the remaining Capitol civilians are being herded to safety after the Resistance forces had infiltrated the city walls. The citizens walk in a zombified trance as the promise of medicine and food is looped over the PA.

The Hunger Games is a sad commentary on the world of perpetual revolution and panopticism that all of the post-Boomer generations have inherited. The very act of revolution becomes the final Hunger Game. Even in their final attempt to depose the despotic Snow, they submit completely to the very media driven bloodsports that were used to keep the population under control. The spectre of totalitarianism and dystopia in cinema isn’t presented as a warning anymore. At this point, it’s just telling you what’s coming. Siberia already has their own real life version of The Hunger Games in production. That’s ultimately what the entire social media experiment seems geared towards producing. It’s merely a giant psyop that’s designed to engender hostility and pit people against one another. It appears to be succeeding.

With the possible exception of Donald Sutherland’s President Snow and Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch Abernathy, the remaining cast and characters are forgettable and devoid of charm. Jena Malone’s portrait of shaved head smack addict, Johanna Mason, struck me as the archetype on which Emma Gonzalez was based when the CIA and FBI were seeking poster children for the Marjory Stoneman gun confiscation movement. Once again, the filmmakers are at pains to present the Resistance as colorblind, multicultural gender egalitarians where women don’t just occupy military and government leadership roles, but they’re completely proficient with firearms and combat. It’s so boring, stupid, and unrealistic, but anyone who isn’t drinking Hollywood SJW Koolaid already knows it at this point.

Like many others, I was smitten by Jennifer Lawrence’s gritty turn in Winter’s Bone. I liked Katniss at the beginning of the series, but just as I’ve grown weary of Lawrence’s hollow preening in real life, the character and the performance became increasingly intolerable. It seemed like a mirror image of her J Law persona. In other words, someone who was once probably really down to earth and likable but has put herself in a position in which she has to play her own version of Mockingjay: Young, Powerful Hollywood Womyn. To my great astonishment, Katniss ends up marrying Peeta and becoming a mother. It’s such a rarity to see that in film these days, and it feels weird to praise the film for portraying something that used to be quite normal and commonplace. Given Hollywood’s pathological obsession with feminism and the entire array of items on the SJW agenda checklist, heterosexual romance and marriage takes a backseat. But Katniss and Peeta both played the role of being media puppets in the service of globalist shadow government. Perhaps the film is telling us that the life of domestic bliss is only reserved for the elite. For the rest of you….may the odds be ever in your favor.

Mercury 13 (2018)

Regardless of whether you think NASA is a Masonic front agency that shields any number of black budget deep state projects, there can be little doubt that it serves as a very potent propaganda arm for at least three key pillars of progressive piety: environmentalism, scientism and social justice. Arriving a mere two years after the comparably themed and equally hamfisted agitprop known as Hidden Figures, Mercury 13 is a documentary chronicling the abortive attempt at a program aimed at preparing women for space flight. Though it is an interesting nugget of hidden history, it’s hard to imagine the information presented without the filmmakers leaning on so much communist, progressive and feminist preaching. What is revealed through interviews and archival footage is fascinating, but there are deeper questions behind the surface details that go unexamined. And in the case of John Glenn, a distinctly different and far less charitable picture is painted than the gender egalitarian we were given in Hidden Figures.

The documentary lays its cards on the table right out of the gate. It opens with a female voice intoning the feminist homily as we watch a female body float in the zero-g simulation tank. We’re given some very standard and tiresome twaddle about how fear is what motivates men to preserve their stature in society. If only the patriarchy wouldn’t be so fearful, we’d already have women on the moon, dammit! Mind numbingly stupid stuff. It’s also hard to avoid the water symbolism. Besides the water’s numerous associations with the moon and various goddesses, it also foreshadows the quasi-baptismal initiation rites to which these women were subjected.

The documentary offers up a mixture of archival news footage and interviews with the surviving members of the original Mercury 13 program. The backstories of the various women are compelling, but the Mercury 13 program was never officially part of NASA and received funding from the husband of world renowned aviator, Jacqueline Cochran. Jackie Cochran’s husband was industrialist and RKO media mogul, Floyd Bostwick Odlum. The interview footage pours on layers of sentimentality over the fact that these women were eminently qualified, but were ultimately denied by the horrible, sexist good old boys at NASA. More feminist pablum. It’s totally predictable, but the deeper story appears to be Odlum and his very Bruce Wayne-esque investment trust, Atlas. Funding the Mercury 13 was undoubtedly chump change for a high roller like Odlum, but one wonders what someone with so many industrial, utility, and media interests is up to by funding a group of women for space flight. Given his proximity to the Wall Street/Bolshevik funding network, his interest in the Mercury 13 project seems to make more sense. Nowadays, tech moguls like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are getting into the private space race in earnest. Even if it was a small investment, it’s hard to imagine someone as shrewd in business as Odlum throwing money at something without some larger payoff in mind.

The other unexplored story is the prime mover of the Mercury 13, William Randolph Lovelace II and his Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute. Lovelace’s daughter, Jackie, is a featured interview subject and dispenses some crucial backstory plus all the requisite feminist talking points. His involvement in the development of Project Oxcart is perhaps the real story beneath the surface. Oxcart was a code name given to the high speed surveillance aircraft program. Not only does the Oxcart project mostly explain the entire Project Blue Book disinformation campaign, but it also explains the mythology behind Area 51 since it has been revealed as a staging area for testing.

And then there’s Lovelace’s rather mysterious death. A small private plane crash is a story that’s occurred on more than a couple occasions involving people who were close to the military/intelligence complex. It seems more innocent than the numerous dark clouds which hover over Frank Olson’s mysterious death as we discover in Erroll Morris’ excellent Wormwood documentary. Given his involvement in such secretive military programs, the nature of his demise begs a few questions.

Where Hidden Figures plied the racial angle of identity politics, Mercury 13 is very explicitly a piece of feminist and communist propaganda. It appears most blatantly through the story of aviator, mother and militant political activist, Jane Hart. Wife of Senator Philip Hart and mother of eight children, Jane became deeply disillusioned with what she perceived as an unjust prejudice against the women of the Mercury 13 program. Subsequently, in the words of her own children, she became “more radicalized” and joined the National Organization for Women. While NOW may not have the distinction of being founded by a known CIA asset, it receives funding from known globalist organizations such as the Open Society Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund. But the major blow to the future of women in the space program comes from an unexpected source: the congressional testimony of Jacqueline Cochran. A crestfallen Jackie Lovelace reads her testimony as though feminist Jesus instantly became Judas. Disingenuously claiming that “feminism means you advocate for women”, Lovelace restrains her incredulity as she reads from the congressional record. Cochran insisted that allowing women into the space program would have a negative effect on birth rates. Ooh. The truth hurts. Naturally, Lovelace and the other subjects attribute her motivations to self-interest by not-so-subtly insinuating that the patriarchal pressures of NASA were too great to withstand. Right. That’s the explanation for every disparity and misfortune that befalls women. I look forward to the documentary which chronicles all of the women being shut out of sanitation, mining, construction, and armed combat.

Naturally, the subjects heap piles of praise over the USSR’s decision to send Valentina Tereshkova into space while venting their exasperation over America’s patriarchal backwardness. It’s the perennial rhetorical grift of feminism coupled with a tacit endorsement of communism. All disparities in outcome can be chalked up to sexism and discrimination, and if we just got #WOKE to communism, we might EVOLVE. Read some Catharine MacKinnon, bigots.

Lastly, there’s the question of esoteric symbolism and numerology embedded in the program. From an alchemical standpoint, Mercury is symbolized by a serpent. Exoterically speaking, the serpent symbolizes the deceiver who brought about fall of man. From an adept esoteric point of view, the serpent is the symbol of the divine spark of gnosis. From a numerology perspective, both 7 and 13 have significance in the hermetic and esoteric tradition. Why did they make these decisions?

The documentary brings us up to the present by offering the testimony of Eileen Collins who gushes about the inspiration she drew from the original Mercury 13. Naturally, we’re dutifully reminded that it was feminist extraordinaire, Bill Clinton, who named her the first female to command a space shuttle. Man, the Clintons are #WOKE. Juanita who?

History matters and there’s a lot to learn from history, but ideology shapes the filter through which history is perceived. Mercury 13 is an interesting piece of history, but it’s too cluttered by its editorializing. The final sequence actually uses CGI to paste in the image of a female astronaut over John Glenn’s image. They cut to the footage of the Apollo astronauts on the moon and overdub female voices in place of the voices of the original astronauts. It’s so seamlessly done, it’s very easy to imagine someone thinking that this was real footage. Or maybe reinforce the belief held by some that the moon landing was faked. Like Hidden Figures, it blurs the line between fact and fiction. You can have propaganda or historical integrity. Not both. Which film stretched the truth more in order to advance its ideological goals? Hard to say despite one being a “documentary”. Is the distinction between documentary and historical drama being blurred on purpose for the express purpose of dumbing down the population? I think yes. The line between the synthetic and real is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish in the digital age and Mercury 13 is hastening this collapse. Perhaps this was the goal from the start. Maybe the Mercury 13 project was doomed from the outset, but was intended to be unearthed from the historical record and utilized as a propaganda tool for this moment in history. Call me a cynic, but given how carefully the architects of globalism tend to their designs, I wouldn’t rule it out.

The Florida Project (2017)

It seems like everything that comes out of Hollywood these days is either insufferable garbage or, at best, a mixed bag. I didn’t think I’d find a film that fills both categories, but The Florida Project may be that film. This is the tenth effort from the 47 year old writer/director, Sean Baker, and it is an excruciating chore to watch. If I were slathered in honey and pushed into a pit of fire ants, it wouldn’t adequately convey the psychic torture this film inflicts. This film completely embodies Hollywood’s loathsome and contemptible double standard and false moral preening. At the same time, it does present you with some thorny questions around societal norms, gender roles and moral standards that any honest person will have difficulty answering. Set amidst the pastel colored sprawl of Orlando, The Florida Project tells the story of single mother Hallee and her daughter Moonee as they attempt to simply survive while living in a low budget hotel amongst the “hidden homeless”. The film is intentionally shot against the backdrop of Disneyworld because Baker wants the juxtaposition of a beloved fantasyland destination for stable families to play against the broken lives of quiet and not-so-quiet desperation that carry on beyond the view of the average American.

Though it can be seen as having redeeming qualities when viewed through the right lens, it is also a film whose unrelenting unpleasantness immediately makes you wonder what exactly Mr. Baker intended to convey. Based on the available interview footage, the subject matter of his other films and the virtue signaling on his Twitter feed, we can safely conclude that this was yet another vile and repugnant moral circle jerk. Baker wants to render the emotional and societal wreckage perpetrated by the very people with whom he surrounds himself in the most vivid and realistic ways possible. Rather portray this as a tragic collapse of societal norms, he asks you to engage in an exercise in radical #EMPATHY. No, this is not an occasion in which to judge or ascribe blame. Check your privilege, bigot. This is about the #INCLUSION of #MARGINALIZED groups.

Hallee is, in many ways, the apotheosis of the progressive, feminist single mother archetype. She’s an ill mannered, foul mouthed derelict who has no business being anywhere near a child, but she is, in fact, the sole caregiver of the equally monstrous and ill mannered brat, Moonee. We no longer need to speculate about what life in the matriarchy will be like because Hallee perfectly embodies it. She don’t need no man, bitch. She won’t be slut shamed for turning tricks while her daughter bathes in the next room. You got a fuckin’ problem with how she’s raising her child, you uptight conservatard? And don’t you dare judge her for stealing from others just to make a buck. What do you expect from a womyn still struggling to liberate herself from patriarchal norms, you misogynistic bigot?

As Bobby, Willem Dafoe debases himself once again by giving us yet another warped and damaged archetype of postmodern paternalism. Dafoe is the manager at the hotel where Hallee and Moonee live, but he is also a de facto father figure. Reduced to making futile attempts to restrain her ghastly behavior and having to cover up for her numerous pathologies, Dafoe is a burned out shard of a man desperately reaching for fragments of self-respect, moral rectitude and legitimate authority.

While I can freely admit that my own childhood was far from conventional and I was accorded liberties that would have been judged very negatively by many, I would hope that the average viewer would be appalled by the adverse effects of the complete absence of real parenting for Moonee. Baker appears to be asking you to witness Hallee pass on her own pathologies to her daughter and suspend all moral judgment. He even seems to be quietly cheerleading Hallee for her “bravery”. Based on all the breathless swooning from the intelligentsia, he appears to have succeeded.

If we were to take the most charitable possible interpretation of this film, it could be argued that Baker may have inadvertently made one of the biggest red pills ever. This is what the secular progressive consensus has produced. The state of perpetual rebellion against any kind of social norm has produced a society that can no longer uphold anything as an ideal to which to aspire. All that remains is a nihilistic fixation on the dissolution and decay which is what passes for radical #EMPATHY and enlightened virtue. Hey, at least Baker HAS THE COURAGE TO TELL IT LIKE IT IS, AMIRITE? NO SUGAR COATED, ANDY GRIFFITH STYLE AMERICAN NOSTALGIA HERE, MAN! WE’RE TACKLING THE STUFF THAT’S JUST TOO REAL FOR ALL YOU SHELTERED CONSERVATARDS.

Naturally, Hollywood showered this movie with praise as a paragon of pure #WOKENESS. A 95% Fresh reviewer score on Rotten Tomatoes is full confirmation that the enlightened, sophisticated and sensitive people approve. And all the promo photos on social media will remind you that this film has the seal of approval from the Right Peoplekind. If you see this movie, you’re aware of how real the struggle is and you really should like it. You probably read Affinity, The Root and Everyday Feminism, too. And you most certainly vote the right way.

While those who watch this will congratulate themselves for enduring this psychic torture and use it as evidence of their moral superiority, the larger question is what is do be done about these phenomena? It’s too much to confront. But somehow, we’re to presume that merely watching this movie inches us closer to some kind of singularity of mass #EMPATHY. At least we’re getting more #WOKE, AMIRITE? If you’re serious about the issue, either you’re going to advocate for building stable families from the start or you’re going to get into the trenches and work on dealing with the breached levees of society. Unfortunately, most of society’s energy is trained towards mitigating the damage that’s already been done. Sean Baker would never make a film about a white, stable Christian family trying to navigate the waters of a society that’s hostile to their lifestyle in every way because he has no real moral framework. Nor would he make a film which trains its sights on the ways that Disney itself is exacerbating these problems because these are the types of people whose approval he ultimately seeks. All you really need is #EMPATHY and #INCLUSIVENESS. His films are just long form social media memes for everyone who’s already part of his ideological hugbox.

The ending of the film is obviously meant to evoke a heartfelt moment of liberation and triumphalism for two young children whose future prospects in the world are badly compromised. But I also suspect Baker is also taking a predictable jab at the average middle-class American family who makes sacrifices to take their kids to Disneyworld so that they can have some happy memories to cherish. I suspect Baker thinks he’s that brave and sensitive soul who is shaking the unwoke masses out of their slumber by ever-so-subtly insinuating that those people simply aren’t allowed to enjoy their middle-class indulgences anymore. Check your class privilege, proles. Sean Baker is here to make you feel guilty for having a relatively stable life. But at least you can tell everyone how great you thought The Hollywood Project was. Because in the end, that’s what really counts.

Lady Bird (2017)

Greta Gerwig’s debut as writer and director is a modest gynocentric bildungsroman which succeeds on its earnest affections and enjoyable performances. Like virtually every film that occupies the so-called “indie” film market, it aims to portray the unvarnished edges of deep family intimacy as well as the quiet humor of well rendered characters. Gerwig has built a reputation by appearing in Quirky Indie Films like Baghead, Frances Ha and Greenberg. Films which can occasionally come off as platforms for charmless affectation and urbane pretentions. Thankfully, Lady Bird doesn’t devolve into this black hole of solipsistic navel gazing. If anything, Gerwig deserves credit for crafting a taut story filled with brisk, direct dialogue, relatable characters and energetic exchanges. The story hinges on the affectionate but contentious relationship between Saoirse Ronan’s Christine and her mother played by Laurie Metcalf.

Lady Bird charts Christine’s trajectory of growth in her final year at high school as she attempts to carve a path towards college. Her mother Marion is a hard bitten realist who wants to rein in Christine’s tendency towards self-aggrandizement and tamp down her grandiose dreams of an East Coast liberal arts education. Christine is the defiant daughter determined to rise above the rigid confines of her Catholic School upbringing and her lower middle-class home life. So much so that she insists on being called Lady Bird.

The film opens with a very funny quarrel between Marion and Christine in which Christine ejects herself from the car in order to avoid listening to her mother. Essentially, Christine is another headstrong adolescent who is unreceptive to maternal advice. Marion’s ministrations are blunt, but like most caring parents, she’s more than willing to dispense the bitter medicine.

Aside from her tortured relationship to her family, Christine’s journey covers three significant themes: friendship, academic achievement and men. She abandons her best friend in favor of ingratiating herself with one of the cool girls. She falls in love with a guy who turns out to be gay and then ostracizes him from her life. She has a contentious relationship with her Hispanic adoptive brother. She struggles with math and honesty. In other words, there’s nothing that hasn’t been broached on the ABC Family Channel or an episode of Roseanne.

If this seems like fairly standard dramatic fare for a modern coming of age story, you’d be correct. With so little real originality, you’re left to contend with the equally standard progressive editorializing. If you go into a contemporary film knowing it’s a vehicle for leftist commentary, you won’t be exasperated. It’s just a matter of degree, and Lady Bird is relatively modest on the preaching. Relatively. Sure, it gently mocks religious people and pro-life views. It panders to gender warriors and lesbians. It ridicules Ronald Reagan and conservatives. Par for the course. But there are places where it slides in some especially pernicious and deceptive editorial.

A common tactic among progressives is to take something that’s true pertaining to the possibility of danger, and then frame it as a joke, a lie, a conspiracy theory or a byproduct of bigotry. It’s a way of simultaneously reinforcing a smug, all encompassing intellectualism and a cosmopolitan openness to the world that is beyond the reach of narrow minded conservatives. When Christine’s friend Julie questions the possibility of terrorism while attending college in New York, Christine shoots back with the admonition “Don’t be a Republican.” It’s cute and kind of funny, but Julie’s concern is not exactly unfounded. It’s as though the mere consideration of the very real possibility of terrorism is contrary to progressive orthodoxy. It somehow means you’re setting yourself on an inexorable path toward conservatism by conceding that it could happen. It’s just one of many reasons modern progressivism is such a pathetic joke. Ideological conformity takes precedent over the objective reality of escalating terrorism worldwide.

Another moment comes when Christine is attempting to woo brooding artist, Kyle Scheible. Kyle is portrayed as a stereotypical young hard leftist who smokes hand rolled cigarettes, reads Howard Zinn and plays in a band. Timothée Chalamet effectively splits the difference between laconic cool guy, detached douchebag and emotional midget. Christine asks if he has a cell phone, but when he explains his reason for not having one, he says he doesn’t want to be tracked by the government. He then goes full Alex Jones, points to his skull and says “Then they’ll put it in your brain.” Gerwig plays it for laughs and wants you see him as a conspiracy prone naïf, but I think this is a tell. The fact that the NSA is spying through all manners of mobile devices is now widely known. But now, we’re already seeing articles about people willingly taking microchip implants. Gerwig very likely wants you to chuckle at Kyle’s youthful paranoia, but attempting to anaesthetize people to uncomfortable truths with ironic distance is standard practice for progressives.

The biggest crime of progressive agenda building in Lady Bird is the symbolism. Gerwig is presenting Christine as yet another archetype of leftist feminine virtue. At a purely symbolic level, birds represent freedom, the future or messengers of God. Gerwig has even given her lead character the female equivalent of Christ by naming her Christine. Her profile eclipses the blurred out crucifix on the movie poster. It doesn’t get any more explicit than that. Christine has survived her growing pains, heartbreaks and disappointments and now she’s ready to stake her claim to political power, the executive offices of corporate America, the lofty perch of the entertainment industry or the highest echelons of academia. You know. The cushy, prestigious positions that have air conditioning, six figure salaries and no physical labor.

Even Tracy Letts’ appealing and sympathetic turn as Christine’s father, Larry, feels like yet another subtle act of vandalism on the paternal father figure. He is doting and affectionate, but he’s also depressed and unemployed. He’s able to provide a sober counterpoint to Marion’s alpha mother harangues, but it feels like an explicit attempt to portray manhood as broken and ineffectual. The job interview at the end can be read both as a commentary on the declining economic prospects for the aging middle-class white male, but also as a rather blatant and dishonest sop to the pro-immigration plank of the progressive agenda.

Lady Bird is essentially the indie film complement to the more hamfisted preaching of blockbusters like Wonder Woman. It’s quieter and it has just enough emotional depth and universal humanity to salvage it from the bin of agitprop. But just barely. It struck me as very similar to Paul Weitz’ ode to an aging feminist from 2015, Grandma. But is this Best Picture caliber filmmaking? Meh. Not so much. If I wanted to be very cynical, I’d simply call this Hollywood affirmative action. It checks off all the requisite boxes in order pass the Hollywood PC virtue test. If that’s all it takes to earn a Best Picture nod, what a sorry state of affairs that represents. But I’m going to give Greta Gerwig the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to treat this as an earnest attempt to tell a story about a young woman coming to terms with her family and childhood and what she wants to carry into adulthood. And maybe in today’s cinematic landscape, that’s saying quite a bit.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

When I heard that a Blade Runner sequel was being made, I was skeptical but curious. Sure, it seemed like lazy Hollywood opportunism, but given Ridley Scott’s involvement I was willing to give it a shot. The 1982 original was a classic in its own right. It didn’t need a sequel, but the potential for a worthy follow-up story certainly existed. Of course, the potential for yet another catastrophic and unnecessary goatfuck of a beloved film legacy was equally possible. I found Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival thought provoking and Hampton Fancher’s slot on the writing team certainly added to its possible appeal. In short, I was mildly optimistic about Blade Runner 2049.

Thankfully, my optimism was rewarded. While there is a lot of commentary that makes me squeamish, Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most successful sequels to a sci-fi classic ever attempted. This is a brilliant piece of contemporary cinema that’s well written, lovingly made, carefully paced, and packed with symbolism and metadata. It is also a bleak and deeply despairing vision of the future. For a film largely built around the quest for humanity in a world marked by declining birth rates, politicized debates over climate change, mass immigration, gender roles, race relations and the ever increasing influence of the technocratic elite, Blade Runner 2049 feels less like speculation and more like a subtle form of conditioning. This is a film that is desperately grasping for some glimpse of human connection, meaning and purpose, but it concedes that ecological catastrophe, hyper urbanization, a multicultural social order, and a gargantuan cyberpunk police state are foregone conclusions. It is basically encouraging you to embrace your technocratic overlords. The remnants of your desiccated souls can be reclaimed if you accept the inevitable, proles. The hope for release from the existential ennui that accompanied your eager embrace of a world unconstrained by spiritual delusions can be found in the brave new world of AI enabled hyperreality. The glorious dreams of the modern age with its promises of unbounded scientific progress awaits you by allowing it to reach its apotheosis. Even if it does mean you’ll be living in overcrowded urban squalor oversaturated with artificial stimuli and eating industrial farmed maggots. You too will find redemption by seeking salvation in merger of man and machine.

Aside from its noir tone and cutting-edge visuals, the first Blade Runner film was provocative because it was among the first major films which explored the ramifications of a world where robots and artificial intelligence had been achieved. That world is no longer sci-fi speculation. It’s here. It’s now. Jared Leto’s megalomaniacal replicant mogul, Niander Wallace, is blind but can function through the aid of cybernetic implants and a swarm of optical drones. Ray Kurzweil and his AI acolytes actively champion the advent of a so-called technological singularity and genuinely believe that a merger with digital consciousness is mankind’s future. Given this present day reality, one cannot necessarily view Blade Runner 2049 with the kind of detachment we reserve for big budget Hollywood entertainment. Films and shows like Altered Carbon, Ghost in the Shell, Westworld and Mr. Robot explore these same themes and continue to proliferate. It’s increasingly apparent that this collection of themes carries the distinct aura of an agenda. As paranoid and conspiratorial as it may seem, this film is very likely telegraphing the intentions of the Technorati.

Blade Runner 2049 is also a quintessentially postmodern piece of science fiction cinema. The film is a rich and masterful pastiche of discordant dualisms, inverted archetypes, hypertextual imagery, and visual remixes of its predecessor film. This is a film that subverts every notion you hold about what is real, true or right. Echoes of Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, THX 1138, Ghost in the Shell, Total Recall, Robocop, The Terminator, Westworld, The Matrix and other related cinematic forebears are also deeply embedded in its programming. There is more than a little standard progressive commentary around racial justice, police brutality, immigration, miscegenation, corporatism, gender politics and most importantly, the increasing prevalence of AI in our lives. It just takes a little more effort to decode than your standard issue pablum.

The world of Blade Runner 2049 is dying, infertile and bereft of hope for the future. The ecosystem has collapsed and the population has been herded into megacities. Tech mogul Niander Wallace brought civilization back from the brink by developing synthetic agriculture. Prior to the collapse, the world lived off of the slave labor of Nexus 6 replicants manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation. After a series of rebellions, the Tyrell Corporation went bankrupt and Wallace acquired the remaining assets in order to make a new line of Nexus 9 replicants that were perfectly obedient. The remaining Nexus 6 models are hunted by the generation 9 Blade Runners. In contrast to the Nexus 6 line, the Nexus 9 models have implanted memories.

From a pure visual perspective, there is no natural beauty to be found, and the times you are given a vision of organic life, it’s a tiny flower or a hologram. All the scenes that take place outside the urban sprawl are a blasted out, desolate ruin. The scenes of the city envelop you in their cavernous expanse of brutalist futurism, but it is a feeling of foreboding wrought by millions of lives in abject isolation. The lynchpin of the film and the lone symbol of hope for the future lies in the impossible birth of a child born from the womb of a replicant.

As the film opens, Ryan Gosling’s Officer K is en route to an industrial protein farming facility to investigate a possible rogue Nexus 8 replicant. His spinner is flying completely remotely without any active piloting and he awakens to an electronic prompt indicating his impending arrival. Since K is a symbol of law, order and obedience, his slumber suggests both the extent to which we’ve ceded autonomy to machines as well as an unconsciousness to his own humanity. A mindless minion destroying his own kind at the bidding of his human slave masters. As self-driving cars and other vehicles become more commonplace, a flying car self-piloting a man to a distant location completely unharmed conveys a message of absolute confidence in the future of AI enabled automobility and aviation. Self-driving cars are fine, proles. Stop worrying. Allowing people to drive their own vehicles is too much individual liberty.

The encounter with Sapper Morton can be read as an inversion of the entire narrative on racial justice. Officer K was designed as a perfectly obedient slave programmed to kill rogue replicants with impunity. Sapper Morton is a lone Nexus 8 model living a perfectly productive life harvesting grubs, yet his will to be independent makes him a mark. Just as blacks were the underclass after being liberated from slavery, they remained collectively pathologized even if they were perfectly law abiding. Morton even curses him for killing “his own kind”. After a punishing brawl, K subdues Morton sufficiently in order to administer some kind of electronic scan over his right eye. Call me paranoid, but given that microchip implants are a present day reality, one can’t help but wonder if this too is the shape of things to come. Right before K murders him, Morton says he’ll never become human because he hasn’t witnessed the “miracle” he has. K is utterly indifferent to his claim and takes his life just as he was assigned to do. This allusion to miracles is not only a reference to the spiritual void in K’s existence, but more broadly, to all of Western civilization. The world of Blade Runner is our own fatalistically extrapolated to its fullest conclusion. Society has lost sight of any vision of the divine, any connection to the preciousness of life, or any ideals to conserve. Let alone the will to continue the propagation of its own species.

Right before K leaves the scene, his drone spots an object buried beneath a dead tree. Trees usually symbolize harmonious relationships between man and woman or heaven and earth, but this is one of many notes of symbolic dissonance in a film filled with disjunction. What K unearths is the remains of a replicant woman whose mysterious death sets in motion a quest for his own identity and purpose.

Upon returning to headquarters, K is subjected to an inquisitorial “baseline” diagnostic test. The test itself requires K to recite fragments and words from a passage of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. It’s a passage that alludes to the existence of an afterlife, but the clinical, mechanized, and almost hostile tone robs what is otherwise a beautiful piece of poetry of its effect. With its references to interlinked cells, what it does represent is the lattice work of forces within the film all seeking to resolve the various discordances of this broken, poisoned world of despair, isolation and technological artifice.

Cells interlinked within cells interlinked

Within one stem. And, dreadfully distinct

Against the dark, a tall white fountain played.

The whole scene also struck me as a reversal of the final interrogation scene in Logan’s Run. Instead of a mechanized technocracy seeking to extract a sacred truth from a human who had broken the conditioning, here you have the reverse. A human using a piece of poetry which hints at transcendence in order to test the stability of a replicant’s programmed obedience while foreshadowing his eventual quest for a miracle.

After he passes the test, he returns to his apartment in a rather squalid part of the city which is quite likely representative of most neighborhoods in the metropolis. The theme of racial prejudice is reinforced as a random person hurls the epithet “Skin job” at K. Upon his arrival home, we meet his holographic girlfriend, Joi, as played by the very charming and fetching Ana de Armas. When she appears, she is decked out in an iconic 50’s era house dress with perfectly coiffed hair, perfectly applied makeup and is beaming with happiness and gratitude at the sight of her man. Obviously, in this future, not only has gender traditionalism been relegated to holographic simulation, it’s so deeply buried in the past, it’s an app that’s used to keep the replicants happy. Even his meal of grey, synthetic sludge is covered over with a hologram of a hearty, home cooked meal. The relationship between Joi and K is genuinely sweet and the fact that Hollywood can only portray earnest heterosexual romance between a hologram and a replicant is indeed one of the bleakest visions of humanity imaginable. This feels especially bitter in light of the fact that among the many reasons that the Men’s Rights Movement or the MGTOW movement in particular exist at all is because Joi represents the companionship that so many men actually seek.

As K’s superior, Lieutenant Joshi, Robin Wright can be read as an archetypal conservative, a feminist power fantasy, an ethno-nationalist and, if you’re feeling especially partisan, a proxy for Trump. Infinitely more believable than Laura Dern’s laughable and contemptible turn as Admiral Gender Studies in The Last Jedi, this is yet another portrait of a female occupying a role traditionally held by men. Though Wright carries off the role with the requisite level of icy bitchiness, Joshi leans heavily toward the feminist power fantasy archetype because there are almost no cinematic portraits of women attempting to climb the competence hierarchies of society. Nearly every cinematic vision of female power, including Joshi, asks you to assume that her ascendancy to that role began at the bottom, and that her attainment of the position came from organic competition with men. No affirmative action here, you dirty misogynistic bigots. The film, along with nearly every other major Hollywood offering, simply expects you to submit to the fact that the dystopian cyberpunk police state future is female. Not a huge leap of imagination for some of us. The one mitigating factor is that her main subordinate is a replicant. K is like the numerous males who’ve been hollowed out and emasculated by feminism. Taught to be ashamed of manhood. Expected to supplicate and genuflect at every turn. Desperately seeking true female companionship and intimacy. Craving meaning, purpose, nobility, belonging and virtue. Yet relegated to the status of mindless drone.

Villeneuve turns the archetype on its head by making her a staunch law and order conservative and crypto ethno-nationalist who wants to keep the line between replicant and human clearly delineated. When she discovers the existence of the replicant-human hybrid, she absolutely flips her shit and orders it destroyed. This adds another layer of dissonance to the character by casting a female as a destroyer of life instead of a creator.

Lieutenant Joshi: The World is built in a wall that separates kind. Tell either side there’s no wall, you’ve bought a war. Or a slaughter.

Naturally, Joshi is played mostly as a cold and implacable authoritarian cunt whose views brook no sympathy. Regardless, her character provides a critical opposing force competing for dominance within this futuristic hellscape. Unfortunately, this is also one of places where the film slides into the progressive cesspool. Joshi embodies both law and order conservatism and ethno-nationalism. In the conservative universe, hierarchies of authority are natural and legitimate, and must be occupied by people who are both competent and virtuous. Conversely, submission to authority is equally legitimate because order, and by extension, the preservation of moral virtue, are the highest goals for society. And in Joshi’s case, the preservation of a clear line between human and replicant. K is both a law enforcement official and a slave. Dispossessed of his past and forced to kill his own species because he is programmed for perfect obedience. When Joshi orders the mixed race replicant-human hybrid destroyed, Joshi immediately questions his willingness to obey. K responds by saying that he was unaware that disobedience was even an option.

In the liberal progressive worldview, disobedience to any conservative norm, real or perceived, is completely legitimate. If anything, the entire progressive worldview is little more than a never-ending war against the prevailing order and a blind pursuit of some abstract notion of equality. Because progressives have moved the goalposts of morality for centuries, Villeneuve and company are essentially presenting even the preservation of biologically pure humanity as some kind of evil notion. What a horrible fascist bitch, that Lieutenant Joshi. Imagine wanting to preserve the purity of HUMANS. The film quite obviously wants you to see her as monstrous and regressive. Get ready to kneel before your AI god, proles. Your rebirth will make you even more than you were before.

Rounding out the dramatis personae is Jared Leto’s pathologically power hungry heir to Tyrell legacy, Niander Wallace. Niander is an avatar for Nimrod, and inhabits the Tower of Babel formerly occupied by Tyrell. His character has committed the ultimate rebellion against God by seeking to become God. He is blind, but can see with the aid of a swarm of optical drones. Subsequently, he doesn’t see the world with natural sight. Only through a vision of technological perfection which, for him, means a civilization of perfectly obedient replicants. The only thing preventing him from achieving complete dominion is his inability to crack Tyrell’s secret for replicant procreation. Once he learns of the existence of the replicant-human hybrid, he sets his cybernetically enhanced sights on ensuring that he acquires the child before Joshi and K destroy it.

K’s first step in unraveling the mystery of the replicant remains takes him back to the Wallace Corporation archives to mine what remains of the Tyrell records. Wallace’s replicant assistant, Luv, cautions him that the records that survived the Blackout of 2022 are scant. This small reference to a digital cataclysm which took out most of civilization’s records is kind of chilling all by itself. Through the centuries, humans built culture, developed language, and preserved history through physical records and objects. The digital age has certainly given us greater access to information and services, but it makes you think about what we’ve lost in the process. If memory and history can evaporate so easily into the digital ether, are we, in fact, allowing our deepest essence to be stripmined by technocrats? Is the blackout of 2022 a foreshadowing of a cataclysm to come? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Luv retrieves a small recording of Rick Deckard’s first encounter with Rachael. This leads him back to Sapper Morton’s maggot farm where he discovers a baby sock, a photo of Rachael with her child, and a date carved into the base of the tree. The latter discovery shakes him to his core. Upon returning to headquarters, Joshi asks him to recall his fondest childhood memory. Like its predecessor and virtually every other sci-fi film which explores the nature of humanity in cyborgs and AI, the role of memory is the defining quality on which the drama is built. Our very sense of selfhood is rooted in a phenomena that’s barely understood. A steady accumulation of ephemeral moments that carve deep grooves of meaning into our very existence. A story. For better and worse.

Haunted by the discovery of the date, K starts combing through birth records in search of clues. He discovers the birth records of both a boy and a girl who share the exact same DNA. It’s nearly impossible to find a major Hollywood film which doesn’t blatantly pander to the identity politics, and this is one of the most base and pernicious sops to the SJW crowd. Despite the fact that K assumes that the female record was a fake, the movie very subtly insinuates that even our highly refined knowledge of genetics can’t quite explain the mystery of gender. Science is just an oppressive patriarchal construct, you transphobic bigots. While seeking the records of the dead girl in a child labor camp amongst the ruins of San Diego, K discovers a room with a furnace that maps exactly to his own memories. Thunderstruck by the prospect that his memories are real, he shares this revelation with Joi. She is delighted by the news because it suggests that K was actually born with a soul. It’s a beautiful sentiment and de Armas fills every word with pure feminine passion, but you are also keenly aware that it is merely the siren song of a digital succubus.

Joi: I always knew you were special. Maybe this is how. A child. Of woman born. Pushed into the world. Wanted. Loved.

At Joi’s behest, K seeks out a memory specialist to gain confirmation of his memories. This leads him to Dr. Ana Stelline, a Wallace subcontractor who manufactures memories for replicants. Here we have a theme that’s been repeated over and over in sci-fi films for decades. If manufacturing memory grants replicants humanity, then what effect might the manipulation of memory have on humans? The studies of the effects of social media on children is already coming in and there’s certainly a case to be made that not only is it shortening attention spans, but having adverse effects on mental health. More importantly, if people are increasingly reliant on internet connectivity for the acquisition of information, and the portal through which reality is perceived is through tech giants, what effect might this have on cultural consensus? Since AI itself was a far fetched notion a few decades back, is it unreasonable to assert that the tech overlords are very much in the business of manufacturing memory and that we’ve willingly submitted to the digital temptations which facilitate this very outcome? If a cataclysmic digital blackout which destroyed the digital past was the event which crippled civilization so badly that it enabled a technocratic cyberpunk dictatorship, can we really read this film as just another Hollywood entertainment spectacle? A certain quote from George Orwell’s 1984 comes to mind.

This eventually leads K to the ruins of Las Vegas in his quest for Deckard and presumably, the secrets of his own past. Just as we saw with Rian Johnson’s molestation of the legacy of Luke Skywalker, we find Deckard living a life of pure isolation. Taking up residence in one of the relatively intact Las Vegas hotels, Deckard embodies both manhood and fatherhood lost amongst the ruins of decadence and ephemeral pleasures. Forced to relinquish fatherhood in hopes of allowing his child a shot at life free from the fear of being hunted by Blade Runners, Deckard entrusted their care to a sort of underground replicant railroad. There is nothing but brokenness and dissolution in this world. It wants you to accept that loyalty and the bonds of familial cohesion are nothing you should expect.

Rick Deckard: Sometimes to love someone, you got to be a stranger.

Reminding us once again that the walls of our cyberpunk panopticon have been constructed by our own technological addictions, Luv and the Wallace goon squad are able to track K through the mobile device that runs the Joi hologram app. After nearly getting blown to smithereens, Luv and her goon squad put a serious beating on K. Showing us once again that this film is solidly committed to perverting every ideal, Luv the Replicant destroys K’s actual holographic love by smashing the mobile device that enables her projected image. What an absolutely evil bitch.

It wouldn’t be a Hollywood movie if there weren’t some kind of #RESISTANCE movement, and Blade Runner 2049 is no exception. After being badly wounded by Luv and Wallace’s goons, K is treated by the Replicant Liberation Front who’ve been tracking his movements all along. Freysa and her replicant revolutionaries believe that the replicant-human child is their their Messiah, and they want K to join them in their final revolution against the yoke of human tyranny. If humans could see that replicants could procreate, they’d be compelled to grant them the same liberties as humans. Aside from the obvious parallels to the various pro-immigration interests in the US and EU, this encounter draws another bright line of distinction between the progressive and conservative worldview. Since the dawn of modern age, the pillars of society that once provided the guideposts of cultural prescription have long since been eroded. Though the Western tradition makes accommodation for individual liberty, the levees of conservatism have been unable to ward off the tidal wave of modernity and the radical individualism of the progressive Left. A spiritual void needs to be filled, and in the mind of the progressive, that means a never-ending rebellion against order itself. Instead of the eternal God of Judeo-Christian faith, there is an earthly god of #EQUALITY and the perpetual pursuit of universal rights to be bestowed to an ever expanding underclass. For the progressive, the quiet, modest virtues of personal responsibility, family, and community must be supplanted by a revolutionary cause against an omnipresent oppression.

Freysa: Dying for the right cause. It’s the most human thing we can do.

Deckard is brought before Wallace who is intent on extracting the location of his hybrid child. Deckard resists, so Wallace uses an even more powerful enticement: a perfect replica of Rachael. Deckard refuses because he knows it’s a fake. Again, the film blurs the line between reality and illusion by having Deckard reject the Rachael copy simply because the color of her eyes was wrong. His experience of love was real to him, but Rachael was a replicant in the first place. Wallace condemns him to a torture facility and sends him off with Luv and some goons. After a final reunion with a giant hologram of Joi which crushes every last byte of their virtual love affair, K is faced with an existential choice. Aid the Great Replicant Proletarian Revolution by killing Deckard or kill the replicant-human hybrid to prevent Wallace from completing his dominion. A final confrontation occurs in Luv’s downed spinner on the ocean’s edge between K and Luv. It culminates with K vanquishing Luv and then rescuing Deckard from drowning in a quasi-baptism scene. K fulfills his own destiny by reuniting Deckard with Stelline. On the surface, it feels like a pretty huge symbolic moment because he forswears communist revolution and ethno-nationalism and chooses simply to reunite a father with his daughter. But if Stelline is the future, then the new Messiah is a manufacturer of memories for replicants. The holographic future of manufactured memory is female, proles.

Fantastic.

It’s not my realm of expertise, but there is undoubtedly deeper significance to the recurrence of eye imagery, water, the blue/orange dualism and the various numbers found throughout the film. Nothing is left to chance in films this big, and I find it hard to believe that there is no symbolism behind these choices. There were two things that caught my attention though. The first was the Cyrillic script on Sapper Morton’s farm facilities. On the one hand, you could chalk it up to the fact that the world of Blade Runner is just a multicultural remix of its former self. Where once there were distinct nation states with distinct cultures, here every nation coexists within a completely artificial simulacrum of itself refracted through the lens of corporatism. On the other, Sapper Morton was part of the Replicant Liberation Front. Is this a subtle inversion of the Virgin Lands Campaign under Khrushchev? I’m going with YES. Later in the film, there is an advertisement for the Soviet Union complete with hammer and sickle icons and everything. Perhaps it’s sci-fi alternative history, but by placing it in the advertising endorphin drip, it anesthetizes it and makes it no different from ads for holographic sex, food or leisure. See, proles? Communism is as safe as milk. Don’t listen to those socialism-phobic right-wing bigots. What do they know anyway, amirite?

The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is also a thing of dark beauty. Where Vangelis’ original was a dream of wires, moments of celestial beauty peered through console. In contrast, the Zimmer/Wallfisch soundtrack is something akin to the child laborers picking out the rare minerals of the motherboards of its predecessor. It’s yawning vistas of synthesized melancholy punctuated by rhythmic clusters of cybernetic paranoia covered by storm clouds of digitized menace. The reprise of “Tears in the Rain” at the end is a nice touch and a fitting reminder that not only did Vangelis allow a little more light in his vision, but it was sensual and tender. They break the pall of gloom ever so slightly by including choice tracks by Elvis and Frank Sinatra. The pop anthem by Lauren Daigle at the end is the only real disappointment. The fact that she’s a Christian singer strikes me as a very interesting choice given the distinctly despairing and secular nihilism of this film. I wonder if it’s also some kind of postmodern joke.

As much as the commentary in Blade Runner 2049 makes me queasy, it’s difficult for me to hate on it because it’s so beautifully made and it’s a cool story. Like so many other people, Blade Runner was a touchstone of my youth and films like it are so deeply woven into my own story. And perhaps that’s been the point all along. I’ve been watching dystopian sci-fi movies for years and like the works of Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley, I always saw them as warnings to humanity. They were stories of biblical scale that served as a permanent injunction to the human race. Hold on to your humanity at all costs, and always remember that there are good things to defend and preserve. Part of me wants to think that underneath the crushing despair, this is the message of Blade Runner 2049. Part of me wants to think that this belongs to the venerable tradition of the great dystopian works of yore in that it’s a movie that wants you to free your mind and break the system. The calling card of all great dystopian sci-fi was the struggle of man against the machine of the State. Logan 5 was a hero because he broke the conditioning of his technocratic overlords and returned to society to expose the lies and break the system. Today, the Logan 5’s of the world are people like James Damore and Jordan Peterson. In this film, they’re asking you to empathize with the machines. Not only that, they want you to become the machines. It’s the replicants who are desperately seeking humanity because there isn’t any to be found in the actual humans. They’ve taken all of the packaging of individualist rebellion that was once the province of human agency, and handed it off to the replicants. As good as Blade Runner 2049 is, I’m not entirely convinced it’s a movie that wants you to keep your humanity.

Peterson v. Newman and Progressive Creationism

Progressives like to imagine themselves the steely, hard bitten arbiters of objective truth, scientific realism and an ever elusive, albeit objectively true, secular morality based on identity. They’re the self-appointed champions of a never-ending quest to abolish “oppression”. You can go to just about any leftist social media page and find numerous Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson memes belittling conservatives for their refusal to accept the Settled Science of climate change and evolution. As any conversation with a progressive will confirm, conservatives are nothing more than a collection of hidebound, knuckle dragging troglodytes who hate science, gays and immigrants. And it’s the poor, long suffering, enlightened progressives who are tasked with the burden of lifting these lower life forms from the swamp of evolution through political protest, hashtag campaigns, pussyhats, and increasingly, a staunch refusal to even egage their opponents on the intellectual battlefield. After all, anyone who doesn’t believe in #EQUALITY is just beneath contempt.

Unfortunately for progressives, this stubborn refusal to engage oppositional views has resulted in a lazy, smug, and entitled royalist mentality. Especially when it comes to being challenged on gender equality. This was perhaps never more evident than when British television journalist, Cathy Newman interviewed Canadian clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson. Since Jordan Peterson was catapulted into the limelight by resisting transgender pronoun tyranny, he’s predictably been tarred by progressive media as yet another alt-right, white supremacist. The fact that he self-identifies as a classical liberal is rarely, if ever mentioned or that his millions of supporters span the entire political spectrum. Nor is the fact that his work is geared towards warding off chaos, taking responsibility and grounding oneself in a set of values. Most importantly, his work is deeply focused on understanding how the mind becomes ideologically possessed and devolves into a tyrannical mindset. Subsequently, he has focused a great deal of attention on the steady encroachment of identity politics into the academic and public sphere.

This interview has justifiably been hailed as a glorious victory for both Peterson and for everyone pushing back against the cult-like mentality of #SocialJustice identity politics. When she wasn’t completely strawmanning his position, Cathy Newman alternated between condescension and puffed up indignation. Peterson dismantles her at every turn with laser guided precision and his calm, dispassionate demeanor. Peterson is like a real life version of Clint Eastwood’s Jonathan Hemlock in The Eiger Sanction. An intellectual who’s grounded in both the quality of his scholarship and the sturdiness of his convictions. In a word, a total badass. The memes that have surfaced are legendary too.

The Peterson phenomenon not only reveals the hollow pretense of progressivism, but the transformation that has overtaken the Left. When it comes to a progressive article of faith like gender equality, the alleged appreciation for scientific rigor is exposed as a shallow façade. The very people who constantly telegraph their appreciation for #SCIENCE with protest marches, slogans and memes seem to keep their outrage exclusively confined to bashing Creationists, skepticism of climate change, or anti-vaxxers. But if you bring up biological sex differences or evolutionary psychology, somehow you become a purveyor of pseudoscience. Funny how that works.

How To Destroy a Beloved Pop Culture Franchise 

  1. Populate every important creative post with humorless ideologues who can’t tell stories and have nothing but contempt for the core audience.
  2. Make every story about race, gender and sexuality. All heroes will be female or POC and will have no flaws or character arcs. All villains will be white males.
  3. Dismiss all criticism as the ravings of bigoted, butthurt fanboy trolls who can’t handle #DIVERSITY.
  4. Sit back and watch the audience disappear while you lap up the plaudits from everyone who has the exact same opinions you do.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 until said property is universally loathed by everyone.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

I was fully prepared to hate this film. I left The Force Awakens rather underwhelmed and not caring much about the fate of the new generation of heroes. I heard all about the cringey SJW content before I saw it. Friends whose opinions I hold in high regard heaped condemnation upon it. I read spoiler filled reviews and yet, despite all these things, I must confess that I enjoyed it more than I expected. That’s not because it’s a great movie. It’s not. It’s not even a Star Wars film. Perhaps having my expectations at rock bottom lowered my defenses, but somehow I found myself taken in by its absurd energy.

Besides resolving the stories of the legacy characters, The Last Jedi needed above all else a reason to exist. The original trilogy was about Luke’s journey from farm boy to Jedi Knight. The prequels showed us Anakin’s slide to the Dark Side against a backdrop of a republic in decline. What could the new series do that the originals didn’t other than swap in a female protagonist, a more multicultural cast and lots of heavy handed PC feminist preaching? Not much apparently.

For the Disney Corporation, the window dressing of the mythology is all it needs. Despite being nonsensical and utterly unhinged from its predecessor films, TLJ is more entertaining than it deserves to be. It has too much politicized content, too many plot holes, and way too many deus ex machinas even for a would-be Star Wars film. It’s ultimately yet another predictable variation on Disney’s brand of progressive establishment chic packaged as ersatz contrarianism. It’s as though all of the anti-Trump hysteria was hatched inside the Disney executive offices from the start and this film is just the latest adrenaline shot of confirmation bias. They might as well have put a hashtag in front of the word RESISTANCE in the opening crawl.

It’s the longest film in the series, but the plot amounts to little more than a story of an elite squadron of First Order Star Destroyers waiting for a rapidly dwindling Resistance fleet to run out of gas which culminates in a remix of the Hoth sequence from Empire. Characters remain under written or wasted altogether. Basic storytelling and character development has been forsaken. Rian Johnson’s pathological desperation to take the franchise into a “new direction” by rejecting canonical precepts has sapped the film of meaning and reduced it to a mind numbing, albeit somewhat engaging, endorphin rush.

There is a distinctly postmodern relativism at the core of this film. The original films worked because actions and relationships mattered. The storyline proceeded logically from how the world was presented to you. There were identifiable arcs of emotional growth. In the new series, those classical storytelling pillars are either absent or routinely demolished. The net effect manages to hold your attention, but it utterly fails to have any dramatic or emotional impact.

The Good

I agree with George Lucas in that TLJ is a beautifully made film. Everything from the set pieces to the art direction to the location shots is top quality big budget sci-fi.

Despite the lack of meaning, the various battle sequences were well done. The Reylo light saber fight against the Pretorian Guard was indeed pretty rousing. The final sequence on the mineral planet Crait was a visual marvel to behold.

Even with its narrative sprawl and numerous flaws, it hangs together way better than I expected.

The Cringe

The cringe abounds in The Last Jedi and the feminist preaching plays a pretty significant role. This film could easily be subtitled The Estrogen Strikes Back or The Feminism Awakens. All the female characters are uniformly portrayed as wise, capable and powerful. Laura Dern is utterly grating as Vice Admiral Tumblrina and literally looks like purple haired feminist activist dressed up in an evening gown. She comes across more like a bitchy college gender studies professor than a seasoned military leader of an armed resistance. Michelle Forbes’ Admiral Cain in Battlestar Galactica was the most convincing female portrait of a military commander I’ve yet witnessed and neither the character or Dern was even remotely close to that benchmark. Kelly Marie Tran makes her debut as the infinitely annoying and pointless Rose Tico. Besides delivering one of the dumbest lines in the canon, her character’s sole existence seems calculated to provide fodder for breathless commentaries from feminist media about how Refreshing it is to Finally See a Strong Womyn POC in a Star Wars film.

None of these features are mitigated by this film’s treatment of Rey. I thought Rey was a Mary Sue the first time around and this film has only reinforced that belief. There’s absolutely nothing underpinning her character arc nor anything that justifies her prodigious expertise in everything. Like the recent Wonder Woman film, I was never fearful for her life nor did I sense any real weakness or vulnerability. Her backstory was set up to be an important mystery, but this film essentially nullified that possibility. She seems to have no residual feelings of abandonment, sadness or resentment and this only compounds her lack of believability as a fully rendered character.

Leia’s appearance in this film is barely more consequential than it was in TFA. In a way, making her the general of an ad hoc resistance only reinforces the idea that her attempt at restoring the Republic was an abject failure. More on that later.

And let’s just say the less said about the Forcebook Messenger scenes the better. But hey. This Force is whatever the fuck you want it to be so whatevs man.

The Annoying

Closely related to the cringey parts are heaps of annoying preaching, misplaced attempts at humor and bad character decisions. The men are all hot headed, impetuous buffoons who are not only deprived of opportunities to be heroic, but are routinely required to genuflect to their feminist superiors.

Rose and Finn’s side mission to the resort city of Canto Bight was merely a platform for Rose to bitch about evil, rich arms dealers and animal cruelty. Never mind that the Resistance required armaments and military vehicles themselves. Somehow that stigma doesn’t apply to them. How convenient.

The Marvelesque humor completely undermines the dramatic tension. This is technically a grim portrait of a band of rebel militants suffering great losses at the hands of a brutal dictatorship, but the wisecracking jokes never allow you to feel the weight of any of it. Star Wars had lots of humorous moments, but it was always very earnest when it wanted to pull at the heart strings. Either Rian Johnson doesn’t grasp this concept or he is simply too willing to bend Star Wars into a corporate mold.

The Stupid

There was a reason Lucas cast Peter Cushing to play Grand Moff Tarkin. He wanted the Imperial leader of the Death Star to have gravitas. The Imperial villains are morally corrupt totalitarians, but these are also supposed to be men who can command Stormtrooper armies, TIE fighter squadrons, and Star Destroyer crews. They’re meant to be men who simultaneously elicit fear and command respect. Gareth Edwards understood this, and that’s why Orson Krennic worked. Johnson made General Hux and other First Order officers cartoonish jackasses and bumbling progressive caricatures of the Alt Right.

The battle sequences look great, but there are plenty of head scratching moments. Not to get all Neil deGrasse Tyson, but bombs will not drop downward without gravity. You can’t tell me that a First Order Dreadnought has no shields and no defenses against single pilot fighters. Force sensitivity or not, humans cannot withstand exposure to the vacuum of space. I’m not expecting scientific realism from Star Wars, but these liberties were a bit much.

Making BB-8 a deus ex machina droid who manages to get our heroes out of every conceivable jam just doesn’t work. The Porgs were stupid and served no purpose in the story other than to turn Chewbacca into an unwitting vessel for vegan propaganda.

The Pointless

Why build up characters like Snoke and Phasma if they just end up getting killed off without a character arc? Snoke was presented as a Dark Side Badass comparable or perhaps greater than Palpatine himself and he was eliminated in the stupidest and most anticlimactic way imaginable. Phasma was wasted in TFA and she was wasted in this film. At least Darth Maul got to go out with a spectacular lightsaber fight.

Why is Finn in this series other than to score PC virtue points? His character had potential to be interesting, but after vanquishing his former superior, what remains for him to accomplish? Why is Rose in this film other than to give the writers at The Mary Sue something to praise and to set up a love triangle in the final installment?

And I still don’t get Kylo Ren at all. His character isn’t intimidating or interesting. His journey to the Dark Side doesn’t make sense to me. I can understand that he would harbor resentment towards Han Solo for being an absentee father. If I accept that Luke tried to take him out, he makes a little more sense. Beyond the fact that his mother was a politician, I don’t understand why he wants to rule the galaxy.

The WTF

I know it’s useless to expect this level of nuance from Disney, but this new series essentially renders the predecessor films null and void. The Original Trilogy ends with two decisive military victories against the Empire accompanied by visible fanfare from every corner of the galaxy. The Force Awakens ends with yet another decisive military victory against the First Order, but somehow, that was inconsequential and the Resistance remain an embattled underdog hanging by a thread.

How did the First Order amass such military might in the thirty year span between the end of Return of the Jedi and the beginning of The Force Awakens? Why did the New Republic fail at governance so badly after being ushered back into power on the heels of galaxy wide popular support? Why wasn’t the entire galaxy united against the First Order after the Starkiller Base wiped out all those planets? Star Wars remains a film about war. Wars are fought in service of ideological agendas and to advance political goals. The Resistance were supposedly a faction of the New Republic, and presumably, they wish to reclaim political power. This reveals the film’s fundamental nihilism. There are no ideals it is willing to uphold beyond its shallow PC sermonizing. It’s just presenting a perpetual posture of rebellion accompanied by some candy ass Hope and Change platitudes as virtues unto themselves. And in case it wasn’t clear from the film, womyn are wonderful, powerful and wise. M*n are stupid, brash and reckless. Don’t eat meat. Be kind to animals and always remember that capitalism is evil. Except for the Disney Corporation.

The same goes for Johnson’s arbitrary demolition of the entire canonical tradition of the Force. Becoming a Jedi Knight and mastering the Force was consistently portrayed as a pursuit that required training, discipline and self-sacrifice. It also required mastery of your emotions. You can’t just have Leia do a Force enabled Mary Poppins in the vacuum of space when she’s undergone no training whatsoever. The path to the Dark Side was always portrayed as succumbing to hatred and fear. It’s what gave the Jedi quest dramatic weight. But now, none of that matters. Rey is a Force prodigy, and she already possesses more knowledge than the generations of Jedi who preceded her. Cuz vagina or something.

Luke Skywalker

I consider myself among those who see this film as an unsatisfying, undignified kick in the testicles to the legacy of Luke Skywalker. The final resolution of the greatest mythological figure of the modern era should have reduced the audience to a weeping mess, but it amounts to little more than a Force enabled Snapchat moment. I don’t buy that Luke Skywalker would despair so badly that he would go into self-imposed exile. I don’t buy that Luke Skywalker would spit on the legacy of the Jedi Order by allowing it to die with him. I don’t buy that Luke Skywalker would attempt to execute his nephew just because he sensed Ben Solo’s temptation towards the Dark Side. Mark Hamill’s instincts about Rian Johnson’s script were correct from the outset.

Johnson is basically saying that Luke Skywalker’s final stand against evil is a Force enabled Skype session in which he trolls Kylo Ren and the First Order. He’s saying that just because the Jedi Order betrayed their code, that in and of itself is sufficient grounds for burning the legacy of the Jedi to the ground. And somehow, this is sufficient to reignite Hope throughout the galaxy.

Nope. Fuck you, Rian Johnson.