Friday, December 19, 2003

Look at the funny little French man 

Sege Gainsbourg photo album. Just because.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

When Maoists Review 

I have now recovered from both my final exams and my post-exam wild coke-fuelled bender, and am now going to begin posting again.
As an English major, one is exposed to an inordinate amount of moronic intrepretations of texts. Jane Austen's novels are actually about Cuban economic conditions, these interpreters claim. Gatsby was black. Books set in Bombay in the 90s are actually about the US response to 9/11 (I think that one might be one of mine, actually). Frankenstein is actually about lesbians, since the text never explicitly mentions lesbians (I've really read this article).
As nice as it is to be free from all this, the internet, in its vast depths, may contain interpretations just as silly as any found in the ivory tower. You may have thought that Lord of the Rings was a pleasant and entertaining film. You, my gentle ignorant reader, were wrong. If you enjoyed Lord of the Rings, you should also purchase a copy of Mein Kampf, since Tolkien is (objectively) pro-genocide:
This genetic determinism drives the plot in the most brutal manner. White men are good, "dark" men are bad, orcs are worst of all. While 10,000 orcs are massacred with a kind of Dungeons and Dragons version of biological warfare, the wild men left standing at the end of the battle are packed off back to their homes with nothing more than slapped wrists...Perhaps I'd better come right out and say it. The Lord of the Rings is racist. It is soaked in the logic that race determines behaviour. Orcs are bred to be bad, they have no choice. The evil wizard Saruman even tells us that they are screwed-up elves. Elves made bad by a kind of devilish genetic modification programme. They deserve no mercy.
This screed was written by one John Yatt, a pinko. Like all pinkos, he gets his marching orders from Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky (they get theirs from Saddam, of course). McSweeney's obtained a copy of their DVD commentary on the Fellowhip of the Ring, which was sadly unused (what Liberal Hollywood, indeed). The phrase 'Read the Whole Thing' is thrown around all too lightly these days. But Read The Whole Thing. You will not understand the hidden conservative agenda of Lord of the Rings without it. It makes Yatt look, well, like a fairly sane human being.
Of course those pundits eager to massacre brown people in far-off countries also came up with an interpretation of Tolkien's classic. This may surprise you, but their interpretation is stupid. Pandagon has the details.

Of course, popular fantasy films are not the only products of popular culture Marxists turn their massive intellects to. Via Slate's Year in Music , I discovered the Maoist International Movement's music review section. The Beyonce review makes some interesting points:
We give Beyonce credit for this song "Yes," even as it is really about "No." Too many pseudo-feminists would make excuses for not showing the boyfriend the door, saying she was too afraid. Then the question becomes "afraid of what?" Afraid of emotional rejection, afraid of what she might reveal about herself or afraid of him physically? (And of course when we ask how many wimmin are not afraid of men if they ask themselves that, we will find that most wimmin are not in a position of physical superiority, so this question leads in an obvious direction and raises the question of why wimmin are going out with men they are afraid of.)...
On the other hand, we are not going to mislead readers and say the music is all that important; even though this is the album with the country's number one hit at the moment. Beyonce is about the "beautiful people." It's about doing a Google search and the top 10 links for Beyonce being mostly her corporate websites but also four websites with her gallery of pictures and links to further nude galleries. The one article one might find in the first ten is merely the industry report on her single being at the top of the charts. There's nothing serious in terms of reviews. So it is that corporations and pornography have squeezed out what music should be about. Penthouse is going out of business, but porn has more than made up for it by taking over more industries.

I don't think Maoists should be allowed to use google. But these reviews are incredibly witty. Lester Bangs never wrote one-liners like this:
On 50 Cent: If the title of 50 Cent's latest album, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," doubles as his mission statement, it would be in the interest of social progress if he reached the latter fate.
On the Dixie Chicks: For those who do not know, "Dixie" is a word referring to the southern region of the U$A. The U.S. Civil War was about Dixie's attempt to form its own country apart from the U$A. A "chick" is a light-hearted but offensive reference to a young adult female.
On Tatu: In spite of Tatu's positive portrayal of lesbian relationships, it is another example of music promoting the "bourgeois romance culture" that MIM has previously criticized.(3) Read all of this one. They start arguing that any skepticism about Tatu really being lesbians is an example of conservative media bolstering reactionary agendas.
On Eminem: All of it should be banned and Eminem should be one of the first people put into re-education camp.

If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering how to write reviews for this publication. "How to write a MIM movie, music or book review: MIM's approach to the superstructure" is the article for you. At the bottom of this long article, there some specific guidelines:
2. Reviewers should criticize all reactionary aspects of a cultural work, but they should indicate whether or not the work is progressive overall, again so the party can promote the progressive and reject the backwards...

4. The party has yet to approve a specific percentage of films and music that it believes should be banned. This will be a task of a future party congress. Judging from reviews done so far, I would guesstimate it appears that MIM would ban 95% of existing performing arts culture. To prepare for such a party congress decision, all people can undertake the same exercise. The next time in the video store, make a judgement what portion of movies can be banned with no one missing them or with society being improved. We invite public input. Send a message to mim3@mim.org on your opinion of what percentage of movies or songs should be banned in their current form.

5. Don't forget to include concrete details like year produced, title, length in time, movie G-PG-R-X rating etc. in your individual reviews.

95% sounds about right to me. To bring this post full circle, here's their Lord of the Rings review (next to a link to Amazon saying Buy It!, remarkably. I guess it's for a good cause). It's actually fairly thoughtful, and makes better points than Yatt does. Still, For MIM, "Lord of the Rings" is just a contribution to the stability of capitalism..
Maoists are adorable.

Update: While Maoists are cute, their movie reviews are not as pithy as the pope's.

Update: Now this is an interpretation of LOTR that I can accept. Watch Bush: Lord of the Right Wing. Then recall the president. The world would appreciate it.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Now More than Ever 

Neal Pollack, April 9:
With Iraq free from oppression for the first time in more than 20 years, with the television finally full of images of hope after six months of government fearmongering, with the extraordinary possibility of building a peaceful world order in front of us despite months of hideously botched diplomacy, my first natural instinct as a writer is to attack my imagined ideological enemies. I could hatchet them subtly, in a witty, carefully-composed essay. There's also the option of lashing at them through my chosen medium of the shrill, exaggerated blogpost smear job. Or, I could just enjoy the moment and not really care that people disagreed with me during one of the most contentious periods in recent human history. I think the latter will be my choice, because I'm not a man to hold grudges against the invisible.
Radley Balko, today:
I find it curious that the most prominent reaction on the pro-war Internet is to find the most asinine, foolish anti-war reactions and post and quote them as if they're the reaction of the majority of people who opposed this war. Andrew Sullivan is hosting a contest for the most "mealy-mouthed" responses from the anti-war camp. Others are mining those eternal springs of pacifist eloquence -- Democratic Underground and IndyMedia -- for particularly galling and disturbing responses. I wonder, is this the first thing that popped into the pro-war camp's mind upon seeing the images of Saddam's capture? Not, "thank God that damned butcher is gone," but, "this'll show those damned anti-war people." It's almost as if some people believe we're in Iraq not to defend the security of the United States, but to piss off the BBC, Michael Moore and Howard Dean.

Good Auden poem in another agitator post, incidentally. I'm studying for my 20th century American History exam at the moment, and one thing we learned about was McCarthyism. My (fairly conservative Russian immigrant) prof noted that McCarthy's attacks had little to do with the actual threat Soviet countries presented. Rather, McCarthy expended his energy attacking domestic political enemies; the Democrats, academia, Hollywood, the press. Today's right has the same targets, and is not ashamed of using some of the same tactics; namely, claiming fellow citizens that happen to have different political beliefs and policy prescriptions than one's own are in the thrall of brutal overseas dictators. The GOP claims in an ad that some people are attcking the president for attacking terrorists, as if the Democrats actually supported terrorism. Of course, few are being censored or losing their job because of these smears. But it's still an ugly, ugly tactic.

Update: The best biography of Saddam I ever read was published by the lovable Canadian warmongers at Vice magazine, written by an Iraqi immigrant teenage girl, who hates Saddam yet ends with a plea not to bomb Iraq. It begins with this note on how Saddam got his name:
After nine months of belting herself in the stomach almost daily, this unfortunate tramp gave birth to Saddam Hussein Al-Tikriti. She showed her disdain for the incident by combining the words "great misfortune"(sad-mah) and "confrontation" (isti-dam) to make the word "Saddam" (a name nobody had ever heard before). Back then you would incorporate your village into your name, too, but Saddam comes from Al-Awja, which translates as "crooked town." That means his actual name is "The crooked troublemaker, son of Hussein." As soon as Saddam got into power, he abolished the village rule, leaving him with simply "The troublemaker, son of Hussein" .
Um, read the whole thing.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Holy shit 

Good work, everyone.

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