Pezness

“Lived any good books lately?”

As a high school outcast with a budding interest in art and literature, I remember feeling a sense of envy in reading about the participants in interwar creative-destructive movements like Dada and Surrealism – or, for that matter, Fascism – for the reason that all of these painters and writers had like-minded contemporaries with whom to collaborate or squabble, whereas nobody else in my school seemed to share my self-ostracizing affinity for vintage nationalisms or was openly willing to acknowledge the faintest racialist sentiment. Retiring into a corner of the school library with a book of European propaganda posters in those days before the explosion of internet politics, I could believe that I was the last of my kind. Then, a few years ago, it occurred to me that, without my realizing it, my historical arts movement moment had found me in the dissident sphere of online nationalism. The creative ferment, the comrades, controversial personalities, struggles, debates, the sense of participation in important events, had all become real. But is this milieu so real – or is it to some extent, as retrofuturist poet Brandon Adamson now suggests, a “dark game of Candy Land” – a “situation where someone perceives that their actions and decisions are meaningfully influencing the course of events, but in actuality those actions are being directed and manipulated within a controlled environment by outside forces”?

Rats of Nationalism

Are we rats?

“There is a familiar trope which often was jokingly repeated around these circles a few years ago,” he begins. “It goes, ‘Maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way,’ with some variations replacing the word ‘treasure’ with ‘ethnostate’ or whatever else is relevant to the topic being discussed, the implication being that the experiences on the journey are potentially more valuable than the reward which awaits upon reaching your goal. That might as well be a metaphor for this phenomenon,” Adamson poses. “What you have to remember though,” he cautions, “is that the goal is the most important thing, and some of those ‘friends’ you meet along the way aren’t really your friends …” Adamson’s latest work, The Rats of Nationalism, is an unexpected book from a Diet Coke tweeter – but perhaps also a necessary one. It is, in one sense, an easy read; but it is also uncomfortable. The author has set himself a commercially counterintuitive task in that, though he has written a conspiracy book of sorts, he retains his contempt for the conspiracy genre, chooses not to market his book to that audience, and has only gotten a couple of pages into his text before he feels compelled to dismiss “that crap”, with alternative takes on the JFK assassination lumped together with flat earth and Roswell extraterrestrials. Many prospective readers in the dissident sphere, too, will be disappointed to learn that the “rats” in question are not a mean-spirited ethnic stand-in, but instead a reference to themselves.

Brandon Adamson

This image of an earnest-eyed Brandon Adamson appears on the book’s back cover, conveying the author’s tone of concern, while the choice of attire likewise connotes the Adamsonian sense of humor, which is also present.

Online nationalists, Adamson worries, have been “reduced to regurgitating the latest viral meme mantras and cornball lingo that’s been pre-packaged, shrinkwrapped and spoon-fed to them, straight from the imageboard ‘meme factory’ cesspools, Discord honeypots and compromised group chats.” The uncritical approach to non-activism has, Adamson indicates, not only rendered nationalism ineffectual and self-defeating, but created the conditions for an elaborate series of virtual laboratory experiments. “People just gobble it up like candy” – a motif pursued throughout the book. “Just go through the motions, and you’ll be rewarded with clout,” this book smirks, unimpressed: “To paraphrase an old saying, never look a Pez dispenser in the mouth.” Among the book’s most important ideas is that the conventional wisdom on the “fed” archetype and on “fedposting” generally is outmoded and overly narrow. Adamson’s thesis is that the “fed” we encounter online might be less interested in prodding patsies into bomb plots than in maintaining a tepid equilibrium in the political ecosphere. “Unfortunately, few of us are completely resistant,” he acknowledges: “I wish I could say that I was totally immune to this form of manipulation, but indeed I have […] enthusiastically been swept up in many memes and diversionary ‘ops’ over the years. It’s difficult not to be,” he confesses. “People want to be part of something fun. […] Authentic dissident political advocacy on the other hand is an isolating and dreary business.”

Reading what may go down as the book’s most controversial chapter, “The Rat Meat Market (An Interlude)”, I almost wondered if I had stumbled into one of Hipster Racist’s Hipster Racist fan fictions. I think that The Rats of Nationalism would stand on a more solid footing if this idiosyncratic foray into “MKUltra-lite” intrigue had been excluded, as it is this chapter to which Adamson’s critics are likely to have recourse in attempting to discredit the overarching thesis; but, even if nothing Adamson has written in his book is true, it is now much more likely to become true as a result of his having written it. Is Adamson just petitioning the federal government to send a cute spy to watch old movies with him? To his credit, he ends the “Interlude” with this disarmingly Adamsonian passage: “Maybe a certain percentage of this book is just me thinking out loud and talking out of my ass, while the remaining percentage involves me relaying things I know for a fact. I won’t reveal the exact numerical breakdown because I’m not entirely sure myself, and I hate math.” To do the poet-polemicist’s arguments justice and to receive the author’s more specific insinuations of disingenuous candy-vending, people will need to read The Rats of Nationalism in its entirety; and, as he points out, the impulse toward a “Post-Rat Nationalism” and the consciousness of “another type of fed” bear potentially urgent relevance not only for the Alt-Right, but for any figure involved in counter-establishment activism: “If you’re active (even in a limited capacity) in political circles of any kind on social media, there’s a very good chance you’re following and interacting with this type of fed regularly, without even realizing it.” Consequently, The Rats of Nationalism might even be the most important book you read in the current year.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of, most recently, Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

dead trigger

This campy and stupid but fun mid-budget entry in the based-on-a-video-game zombie subgenre serves as a decent geriatric Dolph Lundgren vehicle. Here he leads a team of “dead triggers” – losers and outcasts recruited by the government to take on suicide missions in zombie-infested warzones – into post-apocalyptic Terminal City, “Ground Zero” of a plague that for years has enriched monolithic arms-and-pharmaceuticals conglomerate Cyglobe. There’s nothing here that people haven’t seen before, but fans of the genre will probably like it, bad CGI and all.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dead Trigger is:

[WARNING SPOILERS]

Retro-feminist, introducing not one but several tough-girl ass-kickers of the supermodels-in-tight-outfits variety. “My father wanted me to join the military, but I always wanted to be a scientist.” Yawn. If this movie were really progressive, the representatives of womanly resourcefulness would be fat, heavily tattooed, pierced, and/or trans.

Euthanasist. People have a “right to die”, and “the more we kill, the more we set free.”

Anti-Christian. A preacher (James Chalke) is depicted as a drunkard, and a zombie outbreak in his church serves as an excuse to show Lundgren slaughtering his parishioners. Probably in an ass-covering move, this scene is then revealed to be a sequence from virtual-reality gameplay.

Anti-corporate. Cyglobe has purposefully prolonged the zombie war to profiteer. Any anti-war posturing one might discern in this movie is, however, wholly insincere. “You know, I realized something,” says Tara (Autumn Reeser). “What’s really left of our humanity. It’s us – the humans left to fight. Because despite everything, we still care.” “Humans”, as far as Saban Films is concerned, are those still willing to fight Israel’s wars.

Obama-ambivalent. Dead Trigger was released by Israeli-American Democrat megadonor Haim Saban; and, just as there was a vacillation in Saban’s attitude toward Barack Obama and his Middle East policy, so there is an ambiguity to Dead Trigger’s characters needing to reach and cross the zombie-besieged and curiously named “Obama Bridge” to make their way to safety and escape Terminal City.

Anti-Russian. Dead trigger vet Martinov (UFC fighter Oleg Taktarov) of course turns out to be a traitor who sells out his team to Cyglobe.

Neoconservative – but also playfully conspiracist, perhaps even straying into Revelation of the Method. “Ground Zero”, the designation for Terminal City, where the zombie outbreak (and hence the interminable zombie war) started, immediately calls 9/11 to mind. Linking the zombies with Muslims – rather like World War Z – one scene occurs in a zombie strip club with Arabic architectural motifs; and, again recalling 9/11, Captain Rockstock (Isaiah Washington) tells one zombie, “Have a nice flight”, before throwing it from a balcony. “Ground Zero” is said to contain secrets that could lead to a cure for the plague. In a possibly related development, two zombie-hunting characters known as the “Twins” (Alyona Chekhova and Seira Kagami) are revealed before they are killed to have been in the employ of Cyglobe all along, thus evoking the concept of the “inside job” in conjunction with potentially 9/11-relevant “Twins”. Immediately following this moment is a scene in which dead trigger Naomi (Natali Yura) recounts an Alice in Wonderland fantasy and her desire to lose herself down the “rabbit hole”.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

booksmart

Booksmart is, on the one hand, an involving study of two brainy teenage girls’ unique friendship, and, on the other, a comedy death-fart that did not make me laugh even once. Directed by Olivia Wilde and penned by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman – it apparently takes the combined creative resources of four women to put together a screenplay this unfunny – Booksmart is nothing if not a hoarse and harrowing howl of girl-power intransigence into the maelstrom of Trumpian apocalypse. Unsmiling lesbian Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and smug, RBG-venerating Jewish fatty Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are academic all-stars who reach the end of their senior year with a sudden sense of regret at not having done any partying like their cooler peers during their time in high school. With one last night in which to revel before their graduation, Amy and Molly determine to cut loose and go buck wild whatever the cost. No one can fault the ensemble cast for the energetic, fully invested maniac performances on display; one only wishes the script had given the actors something a little more dignified to do with their talents. Booksmart is fast-paced and never exactly boring, but the accidental-finger-up-the-butt hijinks, microphone fellation, and scoldings about the difference between sexual orientation and “gender performance”, etc., failed to turn the engine in my inner gay pride parade float. This is a movie that does not so much attempt to tickle audiences’ funny bone as thrust its hand down its pants Don Lemon style before rubbing its malodorous fingers under the viewer’s nose in a botched, mentally ill attempt at seduction.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Booksmart is:

Multicultural and pro-miscegenation. The almost uniformly brilliant student body of the girls’ Los Angeles high school seems to be comprised entirely of homosexuals and diversity. Molly’s secret crush, as it turns out, is mystery meat jock Nick (Mason Gooding). Hip black teacher Miss Fine (Jessica Williams), meanwhile, has an end-of-year fling with a Mexican student.

Anti-white. “Straight white man, your time is [over],” proclaims a graduation speaker. In one of the more grotesque expressions of the dumb blonde archetype ever to hit the screen, an athletic but spastic girl named Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) appears to be borderline retarded.

Anti-Trump. The girls’ car displays “Resist” and “Warren 2020” stickers. So brave!

Pro-drug. A dose of psychedelic strawberries has the girls hallucinating and finding themselves in the bodies of Barbie-like dolls, precipitating the obligatory exploration of the objectification of women. Talk to the hand, W.C. Fields. This feminist comedy steamroller can’t be stopped!

Gay. “Amy, do you know how many girls are gonna be up your vagina at Columbia next year? Are you aware of it? ‘Cause I’m aware of it,” the heterosexual Molly assures her best friend. “Every time I come to visit you, you’re just gonna be scissoring a different girl.” Putting in what I suppose is intended as an endorsement of gender-neutral bathrooms, male and female students converge on the same facilities where they gossip, draw dicks, and write obscene messages on the walls. In addition, Booksmart truly puts the Globo in Globohomo by giving a shout-out to increasingly gay-friendly Botswana even as Amy laments the fact that she would be murdered in heterofascist Uganda.

Feminist. Molly aspires to be the next Ruth Bader Ginsberg, while Amy rejects male value altogether. “My Body My Choice,” booms a poster on her wall. “Honestly, ‘pushy’ is a compliment,” Molly observes. “You know who else was pushy? Diane Sawyer. Joan of Arc. Queen Noor of Jordan.” Tediously, one of the movie’s running gags is that Molly and Amy will periodically pause to give each other sassy pep talks and tell each other how hot, fabulous, and empowered they are – almost as if neither one is convinced.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

 

Meeting

Werner Herzog gained intimate access to the last leader of the Soviet Union for this watchable documentary. Herzog, who comes across as the consummate dork throughout, mainly confines his questioning to the realm of historical platitude, but crosses the line into outright tastelessness in prodding the aged Gorbachev to discuss his agony over his wife’s death from leukemia: “How much do you miss her?” Even so, the film, combining interview segments with archival footage, does manage to produce a few moments of interest, with Herzog’s thesis presenting Gorbachev as a tragic figure deserving of audiences’ sympathy. Oddly, the elder statesman is one of those individuals who looks like a completely different person in old age, with even his signature birthmark seeming to have changed color over time – so let the retarded Paul-is-dead impostor conspiracy-theorizing commence!

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Meeting Gorbachev is:

Anti-Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a “reckless type”, Gorbachev laments, reflecting, “I should have sent him off somewhere.”

Pro-German. “I believe we have a common destiny with the Germans,” says Gorbachev, who grew up with German neighbors. “I personally feel that they are our closest friends.” Ultra-cuck Herzog, however, makes sure to remind viewers of the 25 million citizens of the Soviet Union killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Anti-nuke and anti-Trump. Gorbachev remains committed to nuclear disarmament, and Margaret Thatcher emerges as an antagonistic force in her more belligerent nuclear stance. “It’s a shame that the current American president declared he will modernize their nuclear arsenal,” observes Horst Teltschik, National Security Advisor to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Pro-NATO and anti-Putin. Teltschik downplays the threat that NATO poses to Russia. “But we have to get back to having reasonable discussions with Russia,” says Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, “and probably that takes some sort of a jolt for Mr. Putin to realize that the hostility is not good […]” Disappointingly, Gorbachev is not permitted to say much of anything about Russia under Putin.

Socialist! “More democracy – that was our first and foremost goal,” says Gorbachev. “I also wanted more socialism!” The film does allow, however, for “errors in centralized planning” having contributed to the Soviet Union’s demise. Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa is accused of “sinister reasoning” in his determination to take advantage of Gorbachev’s sincere desire for reform. “He really believed that he could reform communism,” Walesa scoffs. “Of course, I and many others knew communism couldn’t be reformed.” “Rather than dissolving the Union,” Gorbachev believes, “we should have given the republics more rights.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

 

under

A reader suggested that I review this oddity, so it’s with a tinge of sadness that I report that I don’t like it very much. This hodgepodge of conspiracy theories, urban legends, magical realism, cult consumerism, and synchronicity is essentially a hipster version of The X-Files with a self-consciously quirky and ironic millennial spin. Ne’er-do-well protagonist Sam (Andrew Garfield) becomes obsessed with secret messages in popular culture after reading a cheesy zine called Under the Silver Lake. Strange occurrences start to haunt the befuddled hero as he combs Los Angeles hunting for clues, seeking the ultimate profundity of it all, and also tries to track down elusive inamorata Sarah (Riley Keough), who is apparently supposed to be some kind of fascinating woman of mystery but just seems like a dumb and gross pothead to me. Amplifying my annoyance with this movie is that, at 139 minutes, it’s so goddamned long and just keeps getting less and less interesting as it progresses. Maybe it’s only that I’ve become a middle-aged fogey, but fuck this movie, altogether a disappointing non-delivery on the promise of writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s previous effort, the superior horror outing It Follows (2014).

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Under the Silver Lake is:

Pro-drug. Sam and Sarah bond over weed and a movie after a meet-cute occasioned by dog poop.

Anti-Alt-Media. As much as Under the Silver Lake might like to market itself as an homage to conspiracy lore and to find an audience among extremely online devotees of hidden history and various autistica, the filmmakers’ condescension is plainly in evidence. The characterization of the pop music industry as an establishment contrivance, of course, has some validity; but, mixed as it is with whimsy about underground tunnels decorated with Egyptian ephemera and guarded by hobo initiates, the brief whiff of truth here and there in this movie is most often overpowered by the stench of bullshit. Sam – whom production designer Michael Perry describes in the DVD extras as a “conspiracy nut” – is a kidult who still plays video games and seems incapable of managing his life. Unconcerned that his rent and car payments are overdue, he instead spends his money in a bookstore or a bar or orders a pizza, the responsibilities of life apparently being beneath him. This representative conspiracy researcher is also a dope smoker for whom, in Perry’s words, “everything’s connected. So we have the Kennedy assassination, World War II, aliens” – dissident investigation of political murders or the facts of the Second World War apparently being on par status-wise with UFOlogy. The writer behind the Under the Silver Lake zine, once Sam meets him, is a bugman whose home is filled with toys, comic books, and pornography – the preoccupations of an arrested development. Even when Sam’s investigations seem to validate his suspicion that surface reality conceals a world of secret meaning, his adventures can still be interpreted as a mere satirization of what goes on inside the heads of alternative media consumers. Under the Silver Lake is not an endorsement of the work of David McGowan, for example, but a cinematic snicker at the suckers who read him. Smug liberal consumers of corporate media will be able to view this film in the comfort of bias confirmation, their point of view personified in the screenplay by Sam’s friend played by Topher Grace. “I used to think that I was gonna be someone that, like, people cared about,” Sam complains. “Maybe do something important” – which his skeptical friend diagnoses as “narcissism and entitlement” – the qualities that presumably motivate rabbit-hole explorers and dissident researchers in the opinion of David Robert Mitchell. Sam’s friend, giving voice to the TV believers, internet conspiracy pooh-poohers, and pop psychologists in the audience, dismisses Sam’s feelings of being followed as “the modern persecution complex. Who needs witches and werewolves anymore, right? Now we have computers. I swear to God, at the very least, the entire population is suffering from mild paranoia. See, our little monkey brains, they’re not comfortable knowing that they’re all interlinked and routed together now in some kind of all-knowing, alien mind hive, and that shit is a straight-up cesspool for delusion, for fear …” In another scene – one that contributes nothing obvious to the advancement of the story – Sam catches some youngsters vandalizing cars and brutally beats them; and I can’t help but wonder if this moment, like the ones I recently spotlighted in Drunk Parents and The Prodigy, speaks to a tribal industry’s anger and anxiety about trollish young white men in the era of the Alt-Right and Trump.

Nihilistic and anti-human. One of the most off-putting things about Under the Silver Lake is that its characters are so unlikably casual and desensitized. Sam absently screws some floozie, for instance, as they watch a news broadcast, and he later turns an old man’s face into a crater, smashing his head repeatedly with a guitar – all of which the filmmakers thought I needed to see in graphic detail for some reason or other – I suppose because they think it’s funny. The casualness with which Sam and the women in his life approach their sexual relationships – the screenplay seems a bit confused as to whether the character is cool or a loser – makes his infatuation with Sarah a bit of an arbitrary head-scratcher given that there’s nothing particularly intriguing about her apart from her looks; and nightmare visions of Sarah and other women barking like dogs serve to reinforce an impression of general contempt for the trainable human animal. The revelation, too, that popular culture emanates not so much from the brilliance of revolutionary artists as from a hidden establishment with ulterior motives, contributes to a feeling of futility and despair as opposed to wonderment. Give up. You can’t win!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Replicas

You know you’ve fallen into an awesome Keanu Reeves vehicle when one of the first lines out of the actor’s mouth is, “This man is dead, yet his neurological data is still accessible.” Reeves is bracingly earnest as William Foster, a Faustian darer in the tradition of Frankenstein as he experiments with the transferal of consciousness after death. After his wife and children die in an automobile accident, Foster enlists comic-relief dweeb friend and colleague Ed (Thomas Middleditch) to clone the deceased in order to transplant their minds into blank-slate brains. Soon – much to viewers’ suspense and amusement – Foster finds himself trapped in a “giant, sucking hole of lies” as he tries to keep his life together while concealing his activities from the mysterious medical research project that employs him. Replicas, notwithstanding its abundance of CGI, actually constitutes an exemplar of the old-fashioned mad scientist genre and ought to be remembered as one of the better sci-fi entries in the Reeves filmography.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Replicas is surprisingly poz-free and:

Miscegenation-ambivalent. After having moved his family to Puerto Rico, Foster finds that his daughter has caught the attention of a local boy named Juan. Foster impersonates his daughter in a text message, declining Juan’s invitation to meet him and claiming to be grounded until age 18; but it is unclear if Foster does this only to create a cover story for his daughter’s temporary disappearance or if he is also a dangerous bigot and Asian-Aryanist supremacist.

Anti-war. The biomedical firm employing the hero is revealed to be a front and to have other, probably military-industrial motives. “Who would spend this much money saving mortally wounded soldiers?” cynically poses Foster’s adversarial project manager, Mr. Jones (John Ortiz). “My God, man, come on. That’s not how you win wars.”

Agnostic. “We’re going straight to hell,” worries Ed; and Foster’s wife (Alice Eve) also expresses apprehensions about the morality of her husband’s research. At stake is the matter of whether human beings have souls or if humanity is “all neurochemistry” – a question never resolved in the screenplay. After the doom-laden, chaotic build-up, it is a little surprising not to see Foster meet with some form of divine retribution. Instead, the cloning of his family is successful, and the viewer is left to assume that they live happily ever after.

Transhumanist. The end of the film presents the synthetic prolongation of consciousness as a potentially ultra-lucrative business venture of the future – a prospect that the end-credits song, “I Will Live Forever”, seems to celebrate.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the book Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

us

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to the 2017 horror hit Get Out, this surprisingly effective allegorical genre entry stars Lupita Nyong’o as a woman whose family vacation to Santa Cruz brings her into confrontation with a childhood trauma with ramifications for all of humanity. This is a difficult film to describe without giving away too much of the plot, but it revolves around the protagonist’s anxiety regarding the existence of a “shadow” or doppelganger and her experience of a series of evilly portending coincidences. Peele has a genuine knack for suspense, and the film has humorous moments, as well, thanks largely to the presence of Winston Duke, who appears as the hapless family patriarch.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Us is:

Drug-ambivalent. The family bonds over a dope-referencing rap tune, even as the father warns his children not to use drugs.

Conspiracist. The movie opens with an intriguing blurb about networks of ominous tunnels running underneath the expanse of the US, and the mystery at the heart of the story is revealed to have something to do with a mind control experiment gone awry. Early on, in something of a foreshadowing, the protagonist’s daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) poses: “Did you know that there’s fluoride in the water that the government uses to control our minds?” Of course, all of this could also be read as a satire of online conspiracy theories; but the movie on the whole seems to discourage the viewer from being dismissive of the existence of the otherworldly and outrageous.

Feminist. “You don’t get to make the decisions anymore,” Nyong’o informs her husband. Later, she is shown literally occupying the driver’s seat of their car and taking the initiative in confronting the “shadows”.

Anti-white. Though racial tensions are not the focus or principal subtextual relevance, scenes of interracial violence carry an undeniably racial charge, with audiences probably intended to feel a special satisfaction at the sight of a sassy black girl disposing of feral white girl doppelgangers. Likewise, the moment when a feral black girl doppelganger falls upon a grouchy white guy is probably supposed to convey a sense of justice or racial revenge. In one scene, white actor Tim Heidecker wears a shirt that says “Fragile”, which presumably is intended to endorse the concept of “white fragility”.

Egalitarian and globalist. In its revelation that, living undetected in tunnels under the United States is an underclass of uneducated, underprivileged, dysfunctional, and disgruntled doubles corresponding to more prosperous counterparts on the surface, Us invites interpretation as an expression of proletarian or lumpenproletarian angst and resentment toward upper-middle-class and wealthy Americans. In making the “shadows” physically identical to their class enemies and demonstrating that a specimen of the former set is able to pass as a member of the latter, Us plays with the theme of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Environment, Peele suggests, is the difference between success and squalor, so that compassion for one’s less fortunate fellows is in order if cataclysmic retaliation is to be averted. The ambiguous “us” of the title lends itself to different interpretations, one of which is that it refers to blacks specifically and arguably the discomfort of the “talented tenth” with their own teeming and rather frighteningly criminal coethnics. The protagonist and her family, who enjoy an upper-middle-class lifestyle on par with that of successful whites, are horrified when they are confronted with their own “shadows” – violent, primitive versions of themselves in convict-style red jumpsuits. It is a “there, but for the grace of God, go I” moment, but also an indication of elitist disgust at the cultural gulf that the protagonists perceive between themselves and their social inferiors. The revelation that the protagonist herself, however, is actually the “shadow” and that her savage assailant is the one who was born topside indicates that this condescension is misplaced, undermining the “Us vs. Them” dichotomy implied by the title. Beyond this, Peele also mentions in one of the DVD extras that he believes the people of the United States as a whole to be the beneficiaries of a “collective privilege”, the solution presumably entailing some form of global reparations.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the book Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

avengement

After enduring a brutal seven years of imprisonment and learning of his mother’s death from cancer, “hardened, rusty nail” Cain Burgess (Scott Adkins) breaks out and seeks his vengeance against those responsible for his torments. At the top of his list is his loan shark brother Lincoln (Craig Fairbrass); but before arriving at the climactic confrontation, the viewer is treated to a series of nasty flashbacks to prison brawls, police beatings, and other fuming catalysts for Burgess’s hate. This British film is surprisingly violent and bloody and ought to satisfy those looking for something tough, dumb, and full of broken beer bottles and spite.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Avengement is:

5. Anti-police. Police and prison guards are mean, insensitive, corrupt, or resort to unnecessary brutality.

4. Reformist. Cain, despite having no prior criminal record, is thrown into prison with extremely violent convicts after botching a robbery. He emerges as a hardened killer, the film seeming to suggest that the criminal justice system only breeds more dangerous menaces.

3. Racially suspect. Lincoln’s black accountant, Stokes (Terence Maynard), is a family man, listens to classical music, and would be classic exemplar of Africanus cinematicus if not for also being described as a “crooked fucker”. The overwhelming majority of the rowdies Cain has to fight in prison are white, with only a couple being black, and no racial self-segregation into gangs seems to occur in this apparently postracial penal institution. An impersonal board of officials responsible for Cain spending longer behind bars, however, is multiracial, with a “fuckin’ ponce” of East Indian origin presiding. It must be said that the sight of a row of brown bureaucrats casually signing off on punitive extensions of the white protagonist’s sentence hardly presents the new, globalized Britain in the most positive light. A gangster (Nick Moran) also has this to say about Mexican justice: “In Mexico, you know what happens to people that behave like that? They string ’em up under a bridge, cut off their dick, and shove it down their mouths […] you know, they’re savages.” This statement is left unchallenged, but the general savagery displayed by Britons throughout the film may be intended to serve as an implied and relativistic rebuttal.

2. Anti-usury. Cain gets back at his loan shark brother by redistributing the money in his bank accounts to those he has victimized. Lest this idea of debt forgiveness be interpreted as somehow even vaguely skirting the edges of crypto-anti-Semitism, however, the screenplay makes sure to mention that one of those whose lives were ruined by the predatory loans is named Silverman.

1.Pro-family. Cain loves his mother and, living up to his name, goes after his brother only after being betrayed. Lincoln’s sin, meanwhile, is prioritizing his business interests over family ties. Never believe a bent copper over your own flesh and blood!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

 

dog

Directed by professional dork Charles Martin Smith (I’ll be goddamned if it hasn’t all been downhill for him artistically since 1986’s heavy metal horror triumph Trick or Treat), A Dog’s Way Home is, as its title would indicate, the epic story of a lovable lost pooch, Bella (voiced by actress Bryce Dallas Howard), trying to find her way home to her beloved master, Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) – although, probably as a concession to brittle sensibilities, he is never referenced in the screenplay as Bella’s master, but only as her person. At first glance, this might only appear to be a canine’s seemingly harmless adventures through town, country, and rugged Colorado wilderness; but closer inspection reveals this effective children’s tearjerker to basically be Globohomo: The Movie.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Dog’s Way Home is:

7. Antiwar. Physical and psychological costs of war are embodied by homeless veteran Axel (Edward James Olmos) as well as attendees of a veterans’ therapy group that includes Lucas’s mother (Ashley Judd), who suffers from depression and finds consolation in Bella’s company.

6. Pro-gay. Bella stays for a while with two gays (Motell Foster and Barry Watson), one black and one white, who serve as poster boys for homosexual parenting, the care they provide to Bella and another dog contrasting instructively with the callousness of grumpy heterosexual Mr. Kurch (Chris Bauer). “That man belongs alone,” Bella observes.

5. Pro-miscegenation. Lucas enjoys a relationship with more-or-less white-presenting mixed-race woman Olivia (Alexandra Shipp).

4. Woke and anti-white. Mean white guys include the aforementioned Mr. Kurch; unscrupulous, animal-hating landlord Gunter Beckenbauer (Brian Markinson); and nerdy, ineffectual dog catcher Chuck (John Cassini). Olivia and Lucas’s mother provide girls with role models as strong, assertive womyn effecting social justice by standing up to insensitive white men – in Olivia’s case, by livestreaming a scene of injustice.

3. Multicultural. Bella was raised by a cat and later adopts a young cougar as her traveling companion, demonstrating how characters from different backgrounds can live peacefully with each other and learn to work together.

2. Anti-gun. Bella witnesses hunters killing a cougar, leaving its cub a defenseless orphan.

1.Pro-immigration. A Dog’s Way Home arrives just in time for the muh-poor-brown-kids-in-concentration-camp-cages melodrama. A Denver city ordinance makes Bella’s breed illegal, so that “a dog can be banned from the city because of how it looks”, to which Olivia objects: “That’s basically racism for dogs!” It is easy, therefore, to find in the movie’s depiction of Animal Control officers stand-ins for totalitarian ICE agents out to net Mexican or Guatemalan kids, lock them up, and make them cry just for the hell of it. Fortunately, Animal Control is unable to enforce local law when Bella finds sanctuary at a veterans’ hospital, which, it is argued, constitutes federal jurisdiction. Sheriff Arpaio BTFO happily ever after. Rather revealingly – but no doubt unintentionally – A Dog’s Way Home also illustrates what illegals ultimately represent to virtue-signaling white progressives – their cute little pets.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

Drunk Parents

Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek, once they send their daughter (Michelle Veintimilla) off to college, struggle with making ends meet and hiding their poverty after being well-to-do and suddenly finding themselves in dire financial straits. Tasked with housesitting for out-of-the-country neighbor Nigel (Aasif Mandvi), the couple instead gets drunk and places a Craigslist ad to rent out the house, precipitating a wacky succession of misunderstandings and chaotic hijinks – all of it furnishing a serviceable showcase for the stars, with Baldwin doing his usual thing and Hayek totally over-the-top as she rants about hippies in a supermarket, spastically writhes as CGI spiders crawl over her face and body and bite her, and finds herself in various other zany situations. Colin Quinn and Will Ferrell, meanwhile, have amusing cameos as hobos.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Drunk Parents is:

6. Anti-white. Baldwin and Hayek are the comedy’s obligatory positive depiction of an interracial couple. Like The Prodigy, Drunk Parents reflects Hollywood’s discomfort with politically rebellious young white men and includes two bratty kids, Trey (Jeremy Shinder) and Tristan (Eddie Schweighardt), who have hacked a neighbor’s baby monitor and are teaching the infant to say “the N word”. The name Tristan, which this character shares with a Wagnerian protagonist, may be indicative of the fear of rising identitarianism among intellectually inclined and irreverent white youth.

5. Pedo-sympathetic. New neighbor Carl (Jim Gaffigan), a convicted sex offender, is revealed to be a basically harmless eccentric whose attempt to save some children from a shark was misunderstood as predation. Reinforcing the theme of sympathy for accused sex predators, Baldwin and Hayek are abducted by vigilantes who have mistaken them for pedophiles. Again, as in The Prodigy, a racist white boy – in this case, Tristan – falsely accuses Baldwin and Hayek of sexual molestation. The industry would seem to be circling the wagons in response to growing public awareness and hostility toward Hollywood degeneracy.

4. Consumerism-critical. “Why did we get all this stuff?” Hayek frets after coming to ruin and finding herself in debt.

3. Media-monopolist. Alternative media – which is to say, the democratization of the means of disseminating information – makes the world of Drunk Parents a more dangerous place. This is demonstrated when the anti-pedo vigilantes upload a video of Baldwin and Hayek to the internet and turn them into a viral sensation.

2. Drug-ambivalent. Drunkenness makes Hayek accident-prone and gets her and Baldwin into some trouble, but the movie’s attitude toward alcohol is ultimately rather Taoist, with everything working out alright in the end. “A drunk man’s actions are a sober man’s thoughts,” narration explains. Trafficking drugs lands a trucker in prison, but the man is not depicted as fundamentally a bad person, and the fact that his daughter is left without a provider is intended to evoke sympathy and possibly militate against the regime of prohibition. Ferrell demonstrates that smoking is dangerous, however, when he sets himself ablaze while siphoning gas. Cocaine is also mentioned as a nutritional supplement utilized by ancient warriors.

1.Class-conscious. Ferrell’s character, a once-wealthy man reduced to homelessness, explains that the rich will “prey on you” – and the film’s representatives of “Wall Street” and “family money” are of course white men. Respectability or criminality, in the world of Drunk Parents, are situational products of environment and the vicissitudes of fortune. Rather like Trading Places, this is a story about a man discovering how his social inferiors live. Suddenly an entitled Baldwin finds himself thieving a bottle of pricy wine and only meeting with job offers he once would have considered undignified. One of Hayek’s gripes is that, “You have to be rich to be skinny. All the cheap foods are the ones that pork you up. The sugars, the carbs, the corn syrup.” Now that they are struggling, “people look away. They avert their eyes. Especially our friends.” They are ultimately happy to have lost the “stuck-up, useless friends” of their former social milieu.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

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