Category Archives: social justice

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

After enduring the abomination that was The Last Jedi, I found myself tempted to forswear the franchise along with other old school fans. Why participate in the further vandalism and degradation of a beloved cinematic mythology at the hands of people who clearly do not care about the story, have pure contempt for the core audience and are using it as a transmission vessel for their demented ideological jihad? Furthermore, a Han Solo origin story feels especially unnecessary at this juncture in the new series. After dying a very undignified death at the hands of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi’s very explicit message of “killing the past”, why try to revive the memory of Han Solo after you’ve closed out his story arc and signaled the desire to wipe the slate clean? Rogue One managed to split the difference by leveraging aspects of Episode IV while still presenting something that felt genuinely new. This film already feels like blatantly opportunistic mythological cannibalism. Just because you can make a Han Solo origin story doesn’t mean you should.

Call it masochism, nostalgia or just plain stupidity, I had to see Solo just to assess how bad the damage was. Admittedly, Kathleen Kennedy and her minions have made it eminently clear that she doesn’t give a single fuck about the core audience and is solidly intent on utilizing the franchise as a political bludgeon. That said, Solo wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. It’s a serviceable, if pointless, addition to the franchise that has a couple genuinely rousing moments which approach the old Star Wars magic.

The main question surrounding Solo is why? Rogue One pulled off its central premise by fleshing out the Rebellion’s daring acquisition of the Death Star plans. You could say it was equally pointless, but it was just enough to justify its existence as a standalone Star Wars film. Whereas Solo’s existence only makes sense as an exercise in franchise vampirism since The Last Jedi nearly milked every last drop of residual goodwill from the fanbase reservoir.

Agenda? What agenda?

Solo is essentially Smokey and the Bandit crossed with Game of Thrones set in the early years of Imperial dominion. It’s a lite heist caper set in the pre-New Hope gangland. If you don’t ask too many questions and go along for the ride, it works pretty well. As a Han Solo origin story, it’s a functional connect-the-dots which asks for relatively modest cognitive leaps. You know how things will end up, so the outcome is never really a surprise. Director Ron Howard manages to throw in enough twists to keep your attention.

In the titular role, Alden Ehrenreich has the thankless task of reimagining a beloved character whose memory is already firmly cemented through Harrison Ford’s iconic performance. Maybe there’s something to the law of diminished expectations because I didn’t think he completely sucked.

What’s perhaps most disturbing about Solo and each new installment in the Star Wars franchise is the way the films manage to make moral relativism and the brute acquisition of power seem virtuous and cool. This is, of course, entirely consistent with the progressive agenda behind them, but it’s astonishing to see increasingly overt nihilism being packaged as family entertainment. Forgoing the standard crawl that’s featured in the canonical installments, the film opens with a simple text frame which outlines the dire state of the galaxy.

It is a lawless time. Crime Syndicates compete for resources – food, medicine, and hyperfuel. On the shipbuilding planet of Corellia, the foul Lady Proxima forces runaways into a life of crime in exchange for shelter and protection. On these mean streets, a young man fights for survival, but yearns to fly among the stars…

So the Old Republic was so shitty at governance and maintaining a stable social order that the transition to empire resulted in the mass dissolution of families and the immediate rise of crime syndicates? Didn’t the Republican Senate approve Palpatine’s expanded executive power in Episode III? And these are the people we want to have returned to the seat of power? And if society deteriorates into a shitstorm of resource wars and competing crime lords so soon after the dissolution of the Old Republic, what does this say about the prevalence of ethics under the Old Republic? I’ll tell you what it suggests to me. They were incompetent and corrupt because those sympathetic to the Old Republic are in a constant state of revolution against some version of Imperial government in every film. Neither the Rebellion nor the Old Republic are capable of translating military success into stable government. Way to go, Disney. You guys are validating the existence of every The Empire Did Nothing Wrong subreddit and meme page.

Of course, our hero is the quintessential lovable outlaw, so we must understand the world that shaped him. As Darwinism and #WOKE materialism dictates, man is just a semi-conscious sack of meat who is simultaneously biologically hardwired for toxicity due to his genitals, the beneficiary of immutable social forces which accord him countless privileges and yet perpetually at war against bourgeois delusions of free will. A man whose only credo is to do what thou wilt for the highest bidder can only be understood by setting up a sociopolitical order that’s devoid of man made law. Because, after all, that’s the highest authority. What Solo presents is a sanitized variation on the type of world with which we’re presented in Game of Thrones and numerous other similar shows. In other words, the acquisition of power is the only objective. Ethics are bought and sold. Blackmail and the threat of deadly force is the only surefire way to ensure compliance, obedience or loyalty. Individual freedom and defiance of any established authority is the highest virtue.

Just as we’ve seen in all other installments, there are no real parents, no legitimate or virtuous authorities, and the universe is a seething snake pit of lawless brigands, Imperial tyrants, and ruthless slave lords. You have no organic ties to family, religion or nation. Just a collection of atomized individuals who seek either a big payday, ultimate power or salvation in revolution. In a pivotal scene in which Solo sees enlistment in the Imperial army as his only ticket to liberation, the Imperial officer asks him about his family name. “I don’t have one,” he says. Got that, kids? Your parents are useless, the world in which you live is poisoned and corrupted beyond hope and you can’t trust anyone or anything.

This is the Aeon of #SocialJustice so you know you’re going to get the SJW Catechism in one form or another. While not nearly as cringeworthy as The Last Jedi, Solo still serves up some groaners. Despite Solo being a rare new film featuring a white male hero, you know Disney isn’t just going let this film be made without swinging the wrecking ball at the male hero archetype in one way or another. Naturally, we get no insight into Solo’s childhood or parents. Like Luke and Rey, Solo is another rootless youth set adrift in a sea of galactic chaos seeking some semblance of freedom and, in this rare circumstance, a romantic connection with Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra.

He finds a paternal proxy in Woody Harrelson’s mercenary, Tobias Beckett. Through the course of the series, we’ve seen the father figure go from Jedi Knight to Jedi muppet to communist revolutionary to Jedi incel to amoral criminal degenerate in ten films. Good work, Disney.

While impersonating an Imperial officer on the front lines of a “pacification” operation, Solo discovers that he has designs on a coaxium heist. Sensing a ticket out of Imperial servitude, Solo ingratiates himself with Beckett and his team. Early on, Beckett advises Solo to “assume everyone will betray you, and you will never be disappointed.” Given that advice, it’s not difficult to guess where this story arc ends up. In a remix of the Greedo confrontation and a foreshadowing of The Force Awakens, Solo couldn’t be more explicit about Disney’s contempt for fatherhood. Besides being utterly predictable, it is by far the most malevolent subtext.

Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot droid, L3-37, can be read either as a sop to militant SJWs and transhumanists alike or it can be read as a vicious lampoon of both. Given what Jonathan Kasdan tweeted about Solo, it’s obviously intended to be read as the former but that doesn’t exempt it from Poe’s Law either. L3 joins Jar Jar Binks, Rose Tico and Admiral Holdo as one of the series’ most irritating characters because she is basically a feminist activist in the form of a droid. She is annoying, preachy, narcissistic and domineering. Her heroic moment amounts to fomenting a droid revolution at a critical moment which buys our heroes a narrow window of time to escape. The choice to have this character embodied in a droid speaks for itself.

As one would expect, the L3 character was used as a pretext for engineering an utterly idiotic revision of Lando Calrissian as “pansexual.” That’s right. The suave smooth talker who couldn’t stop putting the moves on Leia throughout The Empire Strikes Back is really “pansexual” and has the hots for an anthropomorphic SJW garbage can. An attractive human female, a blob of alien slime, a droid. It’s all good, brah. Like clockwork, the lemmings in the media heralded this #WOKE revision with the same fanfare that Rose Tico received upon the release of The Last Jedi.

Though one could make a case that the Original Trilogy had more complex politics, the blatant leftism of the new films leaves no such room for nuance. To be fair, the politics in Star Wars have always been confused so it seems pedantic to analyze them too closely. Regardless, they require some inspection because there’s no doubt that they’re meant to transmit a political message. On the positive side, Solo is pretty explicit about the fact that Crimson Dawn and other crime syndicates are the shadow masters behind the Imperium. Whether it’s the Trade Federation, the Hutts or Crimson Dawn, the economic elites are able to buy influence within the Republican and Imperial power structure. Like their real world globalist counterparts, these are the people who buy off the politicians while the utopian rubes in the #RESISTANCE continue to romanticize the idea of a #WOKE, progressive Democracy despite being in a state of endless rebellion.

Solo’s hopes for rekindled romance with his lost sweetheart, Qi’ra, are dashed upon discovering that she has sworn allegiance to Crimson Dawn. His sole motivation entering the Imperial military and making an alliance with Beckett was so that he could earn enough money to buy a ship and rescue his bae from the Corellian hellhole from which he escaped. No such luck though, pal. This is the Aeon of #SocialJustice, Solo, and you don’t get to have your heterosexual, cisnormative romance.

When Solo finally reunites with Qi’ra, she’s already in league with Crimson Dawn capo, Dryden Vos. She’s cagey about the nature of her allegiance, but she makes it clear to Solo that there’s no going back to The Way We Were. And she’s got the Crimson Dawn insignia tattooed to her forearm to prove it. I suggest that this is a revealing insight into the culture of blackmail within Hollywood. While women in Hollywood talk a big game about female empowerment and equal pay while being sanctimonious about the evils of sexual predation, the culture of silence we saw from these very same actresses around Harvey Weinstein’s transgressions speaks volumes about their true loyalties. Qi’ra’s Crimson Dawn tattoo also bears a similarity to the marks women received during branding rituals that were utilized in the NXIVM sex cult.

Solo’s bond with Chewbacca feels rushed and arbitrary. Given that this is a character whose relationship to loyalty is initially sketchy, we want to understand how he forged such a deep bond with a creature who resembles an anthropomorphic dog. It’s a strange scene and the speed with which he earns Chewbacca’s trust as well as his mysterious grasp of Kashyyykian grunting is a bit of a leap. Why he needed only to speak in Chewie’s native tongue on one occasion and speaks to him in English from that point forward is a mystery that will have to be pondered on a subreddit.

Maybe I’m seeing Star Wars through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia, but a Star Wars film used to feel special. Maybe they were fated to end up as bland corporate Product and Content from the start, but at least George Lucas made me feel like he actually gave a shit about the story he was telling. The same claim cannot be made about Kathleen Kennedy and her cohorts at Disney. Sure, Solo managed to be passable entertainment, but that still doesn’t explain why this film had to be made in the first place beyond lining the corporate coffers. Sure, Ron Howard managed to prevent this from being the turd it could have been, but is that really the best that can be done with this property? Maybe I’m asking too much from Kathleen Kennedy and the Disney Corporation.

No one in the progressive establishment will ever acknowledge it, but Han Solo is a kind of Randian übermensch. In the materialist dialectic, he has opted for individualistic self-interest over revolutionary collectivism. At least in this stage of his character development. In the final scene, he’s offered the opportunity to join the #RESISTANCE, but he opts to fly to Tatooine so he can score some cheddar smuggling for Jabba the Hutt. In the original Star Wars trilogy, Han Solo was the lovable wiseass in contrast to Luke’s overly earnest farmboy romanticism and Kenobi’s stoic mysticism. His character made sense within that story arc and his development felt heroic. Whereas using Solo as a subject for a heroic arc of his own feels like thin gruel for a standalone story. Why do you want to see a man become a narcissistic loner outlaw who has issues with honesty, debt, and commitment? Sadly, the only answer that’s apparent is that this is exactly the message Kathleen Kennedy and the Disney Corporation want to send with the Star Wars franchise.

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Black Panther (2018)

Similar to the prejudices I harbored going into The Last Jedi, I went into Black Panther fully expecting to hate the film simply because it was being pushed so hard by the progressive establishment. While it is certainly filled to the brim with all of the requisite SJW talking points and orthodoxies, it is also another surprisingly entertaining addition to the MCU franchise. As is the case with every other Marvel installment, there are a lot of esoteric symbols, religious archetypes and geopolitical themes which warrant a deeper look.

We Wuz Kangz!

The fact that Stan Lee, Marvel and Disney are in the business of manufacturing myths that are designed to subvert and supplant any conventional real world religious or cultural history should be self-evident to everyone. When examining the significance of Black Panther from the perspective of symbolism, one must not forget that Black Panther was aimed primarily at black Americans and white progressives who desperately want to virtue signal their solidarity with blacks.

Since the black community has been so mercilessly politicized and exploited by the progressive establishment, a black superhero archetype fills a spiritual void that has been eclipsed by a neverending mantra of oppression and subjugation at the hands of the evil white man. So what kind of archetype do Stan Lee and company serve up? A genetically engineered KANG, muthafuckas!

That’s right! When the mythmakers of Hollywood want to conjure a fantasy of black technological might, cultural solidarity and national unity, they go all Old Testament and give us T’Challa, King of Wakanda. Long live the king! In the age of democratic triumphalism, Black Panther presents a fantastical, isolationist, racially homogeneous hereditary monarchy as the ideal socio-political order. Given the prevalence of illegitimacy and fatherlessness in the black community, I suspect this myth taps into a primal psychological and spiritual yearning. It’s a society in which competition for the throne is settled by male on male combat rituals. It is, in essence, a patriarchal monarchy. Since the film has a politically correct vision of black empowerment which includes an elite all female praetorian guard, a female scientific genius and a cat goddess, you won’t hear a peep of dissent from feminists about this portrait of a patriarchy. Besides, it was enough that they “leaked” about the deleted lesbian love affair between two members of the Dora Milaje. We’ll have our black, non-binary, differently abled Disney princess yet! More on this later.

Needless to say, you don’t have to look very far to find people who are convinced that Black Panther reveals some actual hidden history that’s been suppressed by the white man.

Wakanda Forever!

Besides being an Afrofuturist spin on the Masonic myth of El Dorado and the latest black power meme, Wakanda represents something even deeper. Home. Since the black American identity is so tightly wound up with slavery, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement and Africa remains a country rife with corruption, poverty and political instability, the search for a historical narrative which elicits pride might seem elusive. So let Marvel create one for you! Blacks have always asserted a collective cultural identity, but Wakanda is probably the first large scale pan-African mythological homeland. It has different tribal factions, but everyone swears allegiance to Wakanda and calls it home.

W’Kabi: You would kill me my love?

Okoye: For Wakanda? Without Question.

Herein lies one of the numerous absurdities in the ever changing Catechism of progressive racial pieties. Blacks are always permitted to express different visions of leftist black nationalism. With the release of this film, it can now include sci-fi black nationalism for a country that doesn’t even exist. Cuz Institutional Racism and Historical Oppression and shit. Or something. Who can keep up with the latest #WOKE protocols anyway? Whereas a white, middle class person wearing a MAGA hat is basically worse than a KKK Grand Wizard and a dude in a SS uniform combined.

But what a grand vision of fantasy nationalism it is! When we’re introduced to Wakanda, we see it from the cockpit of T’Challa’s hovercraft as it swoops through the idyllic plains. As the ship penetrates the cloaking system and careens through the neo-Babylonian spires of the utopian futurescape, the music ratchets up the drama and you can easily imagine fists being pumped in IMAX theaters all over the world. “This never gets old,” proclaims T’Challa as he beams with pride. It’s a scene that tugs at the heartstrings in a manner that’s reminiscent of the scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture when Kirk is reunited with the Enterprise.

Also like Star Trek, the Wakandan origin story is a very clever and daft mixture of sci-fi esotericism and bonkers economics that’s common of both the Trek and Marvel universes. 2.5 million years ago, a vibranium asteroid crashed to earth somewhere in East Africa where Wakanda is located and remains hidden from the surrounding world. The vibranium infected the flora and fauna and imbued certain plants with mutagenic properties. Guided by a vision from the panther goddess, Bast, a warrior named Bashenga was guided to a special herb which gave him supernatural strength when ingested. Transformed into the first Black Panther/King David, Bashenga proceeds to unite four out of five tribes of Wakanda. Sitting atop the most valuable resource known to man, the Wakandans proceed to build a society of unimaginable technological innovation and economic prosperity.

It’s easy enough to suspend disbelief when being presented with the origins of superhero powers, but the ascendancy of Wakanda as an economic and technological superpower just beggars belief. We’re to believe that Wakanda developed itself into a technological behemoth by maintaining a completely homogeneous population and an isolationist economic policy while simultaneously maintaining ancient tribal rituals and traditions. With no visibly adverse effects on the environment and not a trace of economic inequality. Right. Besides withholding this technological might from the world, they don’t even make an effort to improve the lot of the remainder of the African continent! What a bunch of bigots.

The fact that Wakanda Forever has become a cultural meme shouldn’t surprise anyone. Every Avengers film henceforth which features Black Panther is going to have some rousing scene in which the phrase is uttered. It’s the new May the Force Be With You. The larger question is over the true provenance of the Wakandan salute and what it may represent.

Glory to Aiwass!

Black Panther is rife with pagan, occultic and esoteric religious overtones. The majority of the Wakandan population swear allegiance to the panther goddess, Bast, while the dissident Jabari tribe worship an ape god, Hanuman. Bast is a twist on the Egyptian goddess Bastet, but was portrayed as a male god in the original Marvel canon. Since we live in the Aeon of #SocialJustice, Bast is made into a goddess. This inversion and connection to Egyptian mythology casts the overall theology in close proximity to all of the expected associations with Masonry, Thelema, Theosophy and all other related occult traditions.

Aside from the Wakandan ceremonial combat, there is also ritual magick. The victor ingests the mutagenic vibranium herb as he is buried in red soil. He enters a supernatural realm called Djalia and communes with ancestral spirits. It’s roughly similar to Aleister Crowley’s communion with the entity Aiwass which allegedly inspired The Book of the Law.

Speaking of Crowley, I think the true origin of the Wakandan/Wonder Woman/Wolverine/Deadpool salute is not quite what the media would lead you to believe.

Wakandan Spooks or Marvel Spooks?

It is supremely ironic that “spook” is both a racial slur and a slang term for people who work in clandestine services because Black Panther is loaded with geopolitical espionage subtext.

For starters, the presumed villain Erik Killmonger, is T’Challa’s first cousin. His father, N’Jobu, was Wakandan deep state. While on assignment in the oppressive, racist world of the white man, he becomes embittered by the subjugation of his people at the hands of the white devil.

N’Jobu: I observed for as long as I could. Their leaders have been assassinated. Communities flooded with drugs and weapons. They are overly policed and incarcerated. All over the planet, our people suffer because they don’t have the tools to fight back. With vibranium weapons they can overthrow all countries, and Wakanda can rule them all, the right way!

He tries to redress these inequalities by hiring another unscrupulous white man, Ulysses Klaue, to steal vibranium from Wakanda. He is discovered by King T’Chaka and killed for his act of treason. His death is hidden from his son, Erik, and he grows up with nothing but hatred and animosity for the evil white man. Imagine my surprise.

So what does angry Erik Killmonger do? He ends up working with the CIA! This is the part of the film where they’re actually telling you the truth. As we learn from token white CIA hero, Everett K. Ross, Erik worked with the CIA on destabilizing foreign governments during election cycles! Remember, everyone. Election meddling is fine when we do it. But if Trump wins against Hillary, the progressive establishment will get apoplectic and manufacture a story about how this is the worst possible crime imaginable.

Everett K. Ross: He

[Erik Killmonger]

Everett K. Ross: worked with our CIA to destabilize foreign governments… during election cycles.

They’d never do that here though, right? Nah!

After all, Black Panther was first published in 1966, and the Black Panther Party, a radical Marxist, black nationalist party also surfaced in 1966. I’m sure it’s just a strange coincidence. It’s not like Marvel is working with the Pentagon and the CIA or anything.

This is also where the movie tries to have it both ways. The film wants you to believe that Erik Killmonger is Black Hitler. In reality, his rhetoric mirrors the radical BLM/socialist element of the progressive Left very closely.

Erik Killmonger: I’ve waited my whole life for this. The world’s going to start over. I’MA BURN IT ALL!

How many amongst the black demographic actually found Erik Killmonger’s rhetoric distasteful or disturbing? Much like Avengers: Infinity War sparked the Thanos Did Nothing Wrong meme, Black Panther inspired a Killmonger Did Nothing Wrong campaign. Of course, the progressive establishment doesn’t want to own up to the hatred and division it has actively cultivated, so they deployed their minions to attempt to tamp down the flames. Erik is the archetypal broken, angry black man who’s been ground up by the system and dispossessed of his family, country and past. They want you to believe that Erik is light years apart from T’Challa, but the system thrives by cultivating Erik Killmongers every day.

Erik Killmonger: I lived my entire life waiting for this moment. I trained, I lied, I killed just to get here. I killed in America, Afghanistan, Iraq… I took life from my own brothers and sisters right here on this continent! And all this death just so I could kill you.

Wakandan SJW shit is this?

As I expected, Black Panther is chock full of SJW bullshit. With one notable exception, the characters and the story are sufficiently engaging that it doesn’t derail the movie. Of course, we have the powerful warrior womyn archetype. Somehow, being a member of the all female Dora Milaje and swearing an oath to protect its male monarch is super empowering and #WOKE for some reason. Apparently, women have to be portrayed as asexual badasses in EVERY GODDAMN MOVIE these days.

Not only that, just like Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman, they refuse to use guns. Got that, guntards? The Dora Milaje don’t need no guns, coloniser! They have vibranium spears, really bitchen outfits that don’t turn them into sex objects and the best CGI money can buy, so give up your constitutional rights already!

But you can tell that Coogler and company don’t really believe the horseshit they’re serving up. Early in the film, T’Challa sets out to rescue Nakia and a group of burqa-clad women from a Boko Haram-style group of militants. Yeah, sure. Okoye shows up to help T’Challa out of a jam, but this group of women were pretty ordinary in that they had neither super strength nor combat skills. It was a welcome bit of realism from a film that’s very high on its own helium.

What sci-fi film would be complete without the requisite female scientific genius? Hollywood actresses and their feminist foot soldiers love to talk about smashing stereotypes and subverting gender roles, but they seem blissfully ignorant of the degree to which they’ve mainstreamed a handful of absolutely predictable and idiotic SJW stereotypes. Right behind the asexual ass kicking warrior womyn is the scientific super genius. How many times do we need a character whose sole purpose is to hammer home the idea that MORE WOMYN SHOULD BE IN STEM FIELDS? Besides being an irritating bigot, Letitia Wright’s Princess Shuri has no real flaws or weaknesses. This isn’t a real character. She’s just a progressive virtue checklist who is given some sassy lines of dialogue while being Q to T’Challa’s Bond.

Rounding out this collection of dumb clichés is a shout out to veganism. We already got a generous helping of racial politics and feminism, so that pretty much leaves us with climate change and veganism. It amounts to one wisecrack, but it’s extraordinarily stupid and contrived. Upon discovering that T’Challa had survived his confrontation with Killmonger and was convalescing among the Jabari tribe IN THE FUCKING MOUNTAINS OF WAKANDA, our heroes attempt to negotiate his return. M’Baku threatens to feed the party to his kids. After a pregnant pause, he breaks the tension and confesses that the Jabari are VEGETARIANS. Hardy har har.

Now remember, the Jabari have REJECTED technology and LIVE IN THE MOUNTAINS. They’re big and physically imposing dudes who wear ANIMAL FURS. But we’re expected to believe that they’re VEGETARIANS. Give me a fucking break, Ryan Coogler. This is what happens when ideological correctness overrides basic storytelling common sense.

The entire issue of immigration was so hot, I’m not surprised they completely bulldozed over it by the film’s end. To my surprise, they allowed a moment of honesty. Because W’Kabi sides with Killmonger, his argument is not meant to be taken seriously. After all, he sided with the self-proclaimed Black Hitler, so pay him no mind.

W’Kabi: You let the refugees in, they bring their problems with them, and then Wakanda is like everywhere else.

This is the issue progressives refuse to confront. Culture is something that’s nurtured and cultivated over centuries within a homogeneous society. Cultural traditions exist for the purpose of affirming a unitary identity. When you have a minority population within a largely homogeneous population, the minority are naturally going to gravitate towards their own just to have a sense of shared cultural solidarity. Ideally, the minority population will assimilate to the culture and traditions of the host country because they actually want to be citizens. If there’s no incentive to adopt the customs of the host country, they’re going to assert the identity they already possess. But when you’ve got a class of elites who despise the native population and are intent on inculcating the notion that national identity and pride is the sole province of non-European cultures, then multiculturalism isn’t really about affirming all cultures equally. It’s about hating whitey.

In light of everything happening in South Africa right now, the entire post-apartheid biracial dream of unity is unraveling. Even under the SJW definition of racism, we’re seeing a white minority being dispossessed of their property under a black majority government. But progressives don’t care. They’re too invested in pushing their one sided narrative.

T’Challa the Globalist sings Kumbaya

By the film’s conclusion, Black Panther sidesteps the entire immigration question. T’Challa’s renounces isolationism and joins the United Nations, but we never learn whether he alters Wakanda’s immigration policy. We just see him turn into another milquetoast political hack mouthing the same idiotic, braindead appeals to Brotherhood and Unity we hear all the time. Sure, he sets up Wakandan CIA field offices from which to conduct psychological warfare…I mean….EMBASSIES in which inner city youth will get Wakandan iPads and learn sassy wisecracks from Princess Shuri. But it never addresses the question of whether Wakanda will be multicultural and #DIVERSE henceforth. I have a hunch I already know the answer.

Despite all my gripes, I enjoyed it way more than I expected. The template for the MCU franchise is well established, and for the time being, the Marvel team are able to crank out new additions to the Avengers saga that manage to be slick, stylish and entertaining. Yes, indeed. Black Panther is a clever, Afrocentric spin on the superhero archetype. Chadwick Boseman is quite likable in the role and he plays it with a slow burn charm that really works. I even bought the phony accent. Lupita Nyong’o is equally appealing as T’Challa’s lover, Nakia. It’s also nice to see a bit of romance at the end. Aside from Wright, the only other off key performance was an overwrought turn from Angela Bassett. Too bad Bobbi Kristina isn’t around to weigh in.

Is Black Panther also a wildly manipulative and cleverly deceptive piece of globalist propaganda? Absolutely. Anyone who isn’t drinking the #SocialJustice Koolaid knows this film is little more than a multi-million dollar virtue signal and a long running targeted psychological operation. It’s a chance for the black target demographic to flood social media with fist emojis and Wakanda Forever gifs while white progressives wring their hands and get hyper self-conscious about asserting too much white privilege in a moment that’s about “uplifting POC voices” or some shit. Like everything in the progressive movement, it’s a collection of platitudes that has the aura of unassailable righteousness but masks unpleasant realities and inconvenient facts. But progressives don’t care. You too will learn to say Wakanda Forever and mean it, coloniser.

Or else.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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 and Shapiro: On the Proper Balance Between Individual and Collective Identity

Picking up the venerable tradition of the long form interview format which was the norm in decades past, Dave Rubin has claimed a prominent position in the so-called “intellectual dark web”. A term coined by Eric Weinstein which describes a collection of independent content creators, podcasters and dissident intellectuals who are actively cultivating a space for the discussion of big ideas and philosophical principles that drive culture and politics. In a recent episode of the Rubin Report, Rubin moderated a vibrant exchange between Dr. Jordan Peterson and conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro. Since there was a lot of mutual respect and a shared passion for both the expansion of public discourse and the preservation of Western ideals, Rubin was able to guide the discussion with a very light touch. Though both Peterson and Shapiro share many complementary views, the exchange was illuminating in that it provided insight into the different pathways of thought they traversed in order to arrive at their respective conclusions.

The discussion touched on familiar themes that all three men have devoted considerable mental bandwidth in recent months including free speech, identity politics, postmodernism as well as Peterson’s now legendary exchange with Cathy Newman. The latter half of the interview was the most illuminating because it contrasted the differences between the Judaic and Christian tradition and the ways each informed their respective worldview. Specifically, they discussed what they regard as the proper relationship of the individual to the collective.

Though Shapiro identifies as a conservative and Peterson claims the mantle of classical liberal, each is an ardent defender of the primacy of the individual over a collective identity. Both men, Peterson in particular, have built their reputations by being outspoken combatants on the forefront of the cultural war against identity politics. However, this doesn’t mean that either rejects a group identity. Though I’ve been following their work very closely, this is the first time of which I’m aware that they’ve discussed a contrasting view to collective identity which stands in opposition to neo-Marxist postmodernism.

All three agreed that intersectional social justice is sowing the seeds of a reactionary identitarian movement on the political Right, and all three agree that identity politics should be abandoned outright. All three subscribe to the secular liberal idea that religious belief is not required either for the acquisition of moral values or for meaning and purpose in life. Further, each concedes that you need to have an underlying bedrock of commonality on which to build a society. Given that all three men are at war against the degeneration of Western thought, it is curious that they would mount a defense of the Western tradition starting from the very propositions that formed the basis of post-Enlightenment modernity. In other words, the very consensus that has lead us to this point. This raises one profoundly important question. If ethno-nationalism is not the solution for America and the West, what set of ideas are being proffered for building a stable national identity and social order? Will these ideas be durable enough to stand up to the various ideologies competing for global dominance? How will conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals address the issues of collective identity, social cohesion, and a sense of shared responsibility in a world dominated by a largely progressive, multicultural consensus? Can the classical liberal framework be conserved at all without devolving into neo-Marxist postmodernism?

Anyone familiar with Dr. Peterson knows that he is a model of precision when he speaks. Very few people are able to articulate the depth of knowledge that he possesses with the same level of clarity and consistency. This is why it was surprising to hear what appeared to be two competing claims around group identity. Peterson was adamant in his opposition to either multicultural neo-Marxism or white nationalist identitarianism. Shortly after making this statement, he concedes that there is “utility” in having a homogeneous society.

You could think about that psychologically as an attempt to both manage the preservation of group identity so that would be culture, a cultural identity, which has some utility and also to be able coexist with others who are doing things in a different way. – Jordan Peterson

This is a solidly conservative proposition and one that has ethno-nationalist overtones. Yet at every other juncture when ethno-nationalist identity politics are brought up, they avoid it like the plague. If ethno-nationalism is a third rail, what about religious nationalism as YouTubers like The Distributist suggest? Peterson hints at the Catholic Church’s role in the conservation of culture, but since Vatican II, the Church has taken an increasingly secular and politicized tone. Peterson himself concedes that Protestantism fares no better in that it’s rabid individualism coincided largely with the ascendancy of liberalism.

Furthermore, if neither religion or race will be the binding principles that define nationhood, then it appears as though we return merely to the prospect of the restoration of the post-Enlightenment conception of modernity. In other words, neutrality on faith, no prioritization of hereditary culture and a reliance on the conservation of a loose consensus of a nation of ideas.

This appears to be the shared consensus between both men. While Shapiro is biologically Jewish and believes in Judaism, he argues a distinction between biological Judaism versus a Judaism of ideas.

I care very little about biological Judaism. – Ben Shapiro

If Shapiro is only interested in a collective identity of ideas and biological heritage is of no consequence in the construction of culture, how does this square with the racial and ethnic composition of the state of Israel? Would Judaism be Judaism without people who were, in fact, biologically Jewish? As Shapiro himself concedes, the number of converts to the faith suggest that the bar of entry remains very high. Would Shapiro be comfortable with the idea of a minority Jewish population within the state of Israel? Call me presumptuous, but I have a hunch he’d object.

Is a national identity of ideas viable over the long term in a multicultural social order? How does this differ from the American Republic? And if that’s what he’s offering, doesn’t that suggest that a national identity of ideas in a secular, multicultural social order is an untenable proposition? Can we just hit the reset button on the classical liberal consensus and conserve it for posterity?

Given that neo-Marxist postmodernism has been so successful in mobilizing identitarian factions while plunging whites into an ever accelerating downward spiral of self-loathing, isn’t this confirmation that there is a deeply embedded psychological mechanism that has been turned in on itself? If being branded a racist is considered the height of moral depravity in our Age of #SocialJustice, can we really chalk it up to the effectiveness of progressive conditioning or is it something unique to the moral psychology of whites which makes them especially susceptible to pathological guilt tripping?

If secular multicultural civic nationalism is such a fantastic alternative to both the globalist Left and Islamic theocracy, why do Western democracies bear such a disproportionate burden for maintaining this idea?

If evolutionary psychology is true and the substrate of being is comprised of stories of your own forebears mixed with archetypal symbolism, is it unreasonable to suggest that the conservation of racial and ethnic distinction is perfectly harmonious with the conservation of national identity and cultural tradition?

If seasoned academics like Peterson are using evolutionary biology and psychology as rebukes to the claims of the postmodern Left, then why would race be excluded from the overall calculus?

Many people agree that the West is facing a deep crisis over the erosion of the cornerstones of community, faith and family and the corrosive effect wrought by its politicized substitutes. What’s less clear is how to restore a healthy balance between individual liberty, collective identity, and civic pride. The alt-right has a vision that continues to be vilified and stigmatized as the second coming of fascism. The globalist Left shows no signs of reversing their embrace of intersectional social justice thereby justifying their mutual existence. Two forces destined for a collision course. I’d like to think there is hope for the conservation of the classical liberal framework. As much as I admire Peterson and Shapiro, I just hope they aren’t whistling past the graveyard.

From Sexual Liberation to #MeToo: Pop’s Unstable Marriage of Hedonism and Puritanism

Liberalism is totalitarianism with a human face. – Thomas Sowell

The increasingly strident political tone of today’s pop music can certainly be traced back to the various counterculture movements of the 60’s. For the most part, every single one of today’s hashtag campaigns is merely a remix of the protest placards of yesteryear. Swap in an open borders sentiment for the antiwar movement, and the issues remain largely the same. There is, however, one notable exception. Sexual liberation. While liberals never hesitated to proclaim the moral high ground on the entire spectrum of domestic civil rights and foreign policy, this pursuit of every form of secular liberty also included an open embrace of free love and hedonistic indulgence. This celebration of bacchanalian excess stands in sharp contrast to the duplicitous messaging of today’s pop stars. The message of free love has not completely disappeared from the progressive playbook. It has been repurposed and repackaged in the continued push to normalize every form of sexual fetish and orientation. Now that every kink and perversion is celebrated throughout academia and the media, the militant preaching of the #MeToo movement rings especially hollow.

While the Grammy Awards may have previously suffered from being merely another stodgy and boring entertainment industry spectacle which catered to insiders, the most recent broadcast hastened its plunge into the abyss of irrelevance by turning itself into yet another megaphone for progressive moral preening around the scourge of sexual predation against womyn. The ceremony was another tiresome cavalcade of brain dead celebrities regurgitating the same idiotic homilies for #DIVERSITY you hear at every other Hollywood event. What’s especially galling about this particular exercise in celebrity virtue signaling is the attempt reclaim the moral high ground on the issue of harassment when the pop and entertainment industry has long advertised itself as the Kingdom of Bacchus. Making it even worse is that both progressive academia and media continue to sound the clarion call of sexual liberation while the feminist foot soldiers seem either blissfully oblivious or willfully deceitful around the standard progressive line around sexual liberation. Setting aside the sex negative ravings of militant lesbians and misadrist harpies, the only moral condition that’s applied to sexuality is consent. As long as that is established, there are no taboos. But it’s not difficult to conclude that this single moral constraint is not going to offset an anything goes mentality.

And this brings us to the age old critique of liberalism. If the ideology stands for nothing more than the dissolution of conventional norms around sexuality, then what will enter the void to constrain behavior? The answer remains the same as it’s always been for the liberal: the State. Since the progressive worldview is secular, the Left has no choice but to circumscribe the entire sphere of moral action to politics. Therefore, all moral pathology and transgression must be collectivized and attributed to something material (i.e. race, gender) or something that exists as a metaphysical feminist boogeyman (i.e. the patriarchy). What ensues is the same pathological and destructive quest to punish transgression that’s played out throughout every leftist revolution you can name.

As a product of the cultural legacy of Boomer generation liberalism, I remain sympathetic to the counterculture excesses of the 60’s and their influence on art and society. I’d like to think there’s room for sexual liberty and deviations from the norm without devolving into total degeneracy. That said, it’s apparent that the acids of modernity don’t exactly slow their corrosion of traditional norms. Subsequently, we see progressives trying to play the dual role of champions of transgression and beacons of moral authority. Not exactly a convincing mix.

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.

On Spencer v. Sargon, Collectivism and the Limits of Liberalism and Libertarianism

Sargon of Akkad’s recent live stream appearance with Richard Spencer was a watershed moment not just for the so-called YouTube Skeptic Community, but for classical liberalism and libertarianism alike. Specifically, it has called into question the viability of the classical liberal assumption of the primacy of individualism over collectivism. So much so, that Sargon has renounced his perch of smug detachment and hoisted the banner of “liberalist” in hopes of revitalizing a philosophy that has long been considered the pinnacle of Western secular thought but has since fallen into disrepute with the ascendancy of progressivism and postmodern neo-Marxism. 

What’s at issue is the classical liberal and libertarian claim that all political collective action initiated under the banner of either multicultural neo-Marxism or white nationalist identitarianism is a pathway to tyranny. Conservatives have long argued that liberalism leads to atomized individuals with no larger concerns for community or country. And in the case of the alt-right, loyalty to race. Further, the idea that rights come with responsibilities and duties has given way to a either a sense of petulant entitlement or a false pretense of morality. Take for example, the progressive argument for single payer healthcare. Classical liberals (including many conservatives) and libertarians argue that legislation which expropriates the individual in order confer material goods or services through force of law violates individual rights. State compulsion deployed in order to forcibly impose a transfer of wealth from one group to another or to fulfill a broad notion of “public good” is merely a form of legalized plunder. While it may be tempting to take the standard libertarian tack of apolitical detachment and principled rationalism, That Guy T argues a point with which any serious liberty minded person must contend. 

Humanity is wired for collectivism. Society can neither be built or maintained with a mass of atomized individuals. People’s moral instincts favor group welfare over appeals to individualism. No matter how tight your argument against redistribution may be, you’re fighting what amounts to a religious belief in the sanctity of group welfare. In the mind of the progressive, the fulfillment of a moral imperative which redresses entrenched inequalities and structural barriers to upward economic mobility completely trounces any appeal to individual liberty. 

However, I believe the critical distinction is over what form collectivism will take and where it goes wrong.

The State is an institution of collectivized force. Politics is both the art of the possible and the socially sanctioned application of institutionalised violence. When any form of collective action enters the political sphere, it is in essence, an attempt to impose a widely shared moral imperative through the force of law. The progressive left has built a completely politicized moral system atop longstanding Marxist templates of oppression. The reason they have monopolized every institution which shapes values and perception is because the leftist ideology can only be upheld and maintained through aggressive propaganda and an atomized population whose cultural and familial bonds are weak or broken.  

Sargon argued that the alt-right are simply the other end of the identity politics Horseshoe Theory. Ergo, they’re no different from the SJWs. The alt-right quest for an ethnostate will require all manners of state oppression, thought policing and perhaps even blood testing. The alt-right, however, are arguing that ethnic and racial homogeneity is perfectly in accord with human nature and legislating a collective consensus is easier to justify when you’re providing for your own people and there are more deeply rooted bonds of family and community. The alt-right contends that racially homogeneous societies produce higher levels of trust and cohesion. Even if you don’t buy the argument for racial homogeneity, the libertarian argument for decentralization and smaller units of political power lends itself to creating a more manageable social order. T argues that libertarians can be liberty “consultants” for collectivism. 

That Guy T is also correct to concede that libertarianism risks becoming an irrelevant clique of sanctimonious nerds. Pretensions of intellectual and moral superiority, postures of neutral detachment nor ideological votes for doomed candidacies are likely to win the day or build the kind of future libertarians seek. Libertarians must face the possibility that all the arguments in the world won’t mean anything when people will use the political apparatus without hesitation to promote what they believe to be in the best interests of their preferred group. I have previously suggested that the libertarian pursuit of pure principles and free competition of ideas has the best chance of planting the deepest roots. This was perhaps an overly charitable appraisal. Perhaps the most uncomfortable truth which must be considered is that a marketplace of ideas doesn’t stand a chance unless there’s a culture which values a marketplace of ideas in the first place. 

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