Archives for posts with tag: Afghanistan

Shot Caller

The grim crime drama Shot Caller completes a trilogy from director Ric Roman Waugh that began with 2008’s Felon and continued with 2013’s Snitch. The story follows in nonlinear fashion the metamorphosis of an investor (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who, after a drunk driving accident, is sentenced to prison, where assumes a new identity as “Money”, a hardened and brutal criminal. Money’s conflicting loyalties to his country, himself, his family, and his Aryan prison gang are tested when after release he is tasked with illegally selling a cache of AK-47s from Afghanistan. Location shooting and intensely invested performances in all of the roles – with particularly high marks going to Coster-Waldau and Lake Bell, who plays his wife – imbue Shot Caller with an uncomfortable authenticity and hoist it over the top as a must-see prison movie. Welcome echoes of Breaking Bad are audible, too, in the elements of drugs, white nationalist thugs, Albuquerque locations, and the central character’s transformation from straight-laced dork to crime lord.

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

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4. Anti-drug. Drinking and driving destroys Money’s life and kills one of his friends. The balloon-up-the-ass mule transport method of selling dope in prison also works wonders at deglamorizing the subject.

3. Anti-war. Casualties are referenced, and there is also the sense that military service facilitates a veteran’s transition into gang life, with the war being brought home in more ways than one. Shot Caller is careful, too, never to glorify its violence, always depicting it as abrupt and unpleasant.

2. Anti-racist. With suspected Israeli agent Haim Saban producing, it should come as little surprise that Shot Caller, whatever its authenticity, joins the ranks of films like Green Room (2015) and Imperium (2016) in seeking to keep an outmoded and negative incarnation of white nationalism foremost in audiences’ minds. While Money’s respectful relations with black investigator Kutcher (Omari Hardwick) demonstrate the possibility of interracial cooperation, the racial orientation of prison gangs is revealed to be based on self-interest rather than on genuine love of one’s own people, with whites and blacks alike victimize their own in the course of the film. There is a probably unintentional humor and irony in the fact that the white gang member, Shotgun, who turns out to be a police informant is played by Jewish actor Jon Bernthal.

1.Race-realist. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Shot Caller is perfectly honest about the racially self-segregating nature of prison populations as microcosms of human behavior in all multiethnic societies. “It doesn’t matter what yard you go on; it will be segregated by race, period,” the movie’s director concedes in his audio commentary. “That’s a fact.” Shot Caller’s world is one in which a man decides to join the ranks of either the warriors or the victims – and only the latter stand alone.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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The Woodstock and Altamont concerts of 1969 are widely and rightly regarded as epochally emblematic events and both have been the subject of studies into the sociological, occult, and even the possible mind control significance of each of these programmed mass experiences. The Concert for New York City staged at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001, has received much less scrutiny but is no less worthy of investigation on similar grounds. It is interesting to note that, with the inclusion of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Who, the lineup at Madison Square Garden would feature personnel from each of the previous countercultural extravaganzas, inviting comparison between the events. In the case of the Concert for New York City, however, the rock icons who had previously heralded the arrival of an ostensibly freer and more open society valuing peace and love would instead lend whatever remained of their revolutionary prestige to the entrenchment of an authoritarian establishment determined to intensify the drive for war and Zio-corporatist global domination.

The program was orchestrated by the Robin Hood Foundation – ostensibly as a fundraiser for the families of the heroic firefighters and law enforcement officers who had suffered tremendous losses during the rescue efforts in Manhattan on September 11th. Celebrities in attendance begged the viewers at home to donate. Susan Sarandon, making what she characterized as the “money pitch”, assured the audience of the benevolent intentions of the organizers: “Let’s give it up for the Robin Hood Foundation, I can personally vouch for them.” What is the Robin Hood Foundation? Lynn Parramore characterizes the initiative as “Robin Hood in Reverse”:

America’s parasitical oligarchs are masters of public relations. One of their favorite tactics is to masquerade as defenders of the common folk while neatly arranging things behind the scenes so that they can continue to plunder unimpeded. Perhaps nowhere is this sleight of hand displayed so artfully as it is at a particular high-profile charity with the nerve to bill itself as itself as “New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization.” […]

The Robin Hood Foundation, named for that green-jerkined hero of redistribution who stole from the rich to give to the poor, is run, ironically, by some of the most rapacious capitalists the country has ever produced – men who make robber barons of previous generations look like small-time crooks. Founded by hedge fund mogul Paul Tudor Jones, the foundation boasts 19 billionaires on its leadership boards and committees, the likes of which include this sample of American plutocracy […]

By occupation (the more useless and parasitical the better), it comes as no surprise that 12 of the 19 men in leadership positions at the Robin Hood Foundation happen to be hedge fund managers. […]

The mission statement of the Robin Hood Foundation brays about all the funding it provides for school programs, generating “meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods.” Soup kitchens! Homeless shelters! Job training! The tuxedoed tycoons throw money at all these causes “to give New York’s neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives.”

How far does this largesse actually go toward ameliorating New York’s poverty problem? Unsurprisingly, not very far at all. In fact, as Hedge Clippers points out, the poverty rate in the city has grown over the course of the Robin Hood Foundation’s history, from 20 percent in 1990 to 21.2 percent in 2012.

Guess what’s also grown? The bank accounts of 19 billionaires on the Robin Hood Foundation’s boards, which have ballooned 93 percent since 2008.

A look at Robin Hood’s directors reveals such worthies as Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, pioneer of toxic mortgage-backed securities trading, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Also sponsoring the Concert for New York City was Bear, Stearns, Inc., which, according to a study by investigators Mathewson and Nol, was one of the companies engaged in suspicious trading activity during the days leading up to the destruction of the World Trade Center. There “investors traded 3,979 contracts from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10 on September options that profit if shares fall below $50. The previous average volume for those options was 22 contracts” according to Mathewson and Nol. Clearly, these were people gravely concerned about the welfare of the city’s firefighters and police.

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The program opens with David Bowie performing the Simon and Garfunkel song “America” to a montage of historic images of Manhattan and newly arrived immigrants. Bowie, not himself an American – and who, just a few years previously, had declared “I’m Afraid of Americans” – would seem at first glance a peculiar choice to perform this particular number and to open the show. However, even this, as with much of the evening’s symbolism, was very deliberate in design. Bowie would be but the first of several British performers to take the stage, reinforcing the coupled commitment of the United Kingdom and the United States in pursuing the newly minted “War on Terror” agenda. Curiously, “America” contains a bizarre and seemingly comical reference to espionage and deceptive appearances. “She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy. I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera.”

Odd, too, is the fact that the montage of shots of New York City skyscrapers includes a clear image of the old International Telephone and Telegraph building on Park Avenue. This is an unexpected choice for inclusion considering that the company is most notorious for its instigation of a CIA-managed coup to install Augusto Pinochet as dictator in Chile on September 11, 1973. Bowie, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra from the Late Show with David Letterman, next performs “Heroes” – a song with an arguable 9/11 resonance owing to its inclusion in 1998’s Godzilla, a film depicting apocalyptic havoc in New York City and featuring the Twin Towers prominently. “We can beat them forever and ever,” Bowie vows, stirring the men in the audience to warlike enthusiasm.

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Next the comedian Billy Crystal – not to be confused with decidedly unfunny PNAC signatory Bill Kristol – takes the stage to make some goofy jokes about the then-current anthrax scare. “You know who I’m worried about?” Crystal begins. “My relatives. I mean, my relatives are Jews, they smell everything that looks suspicious.” Crystal perpetuates the theme of paranoia and introduces the evening’s concern with the fate of the Jews. He continues, bringing out the concert’s symbolic involvement with the uniform-oriented regimentation of spectator sports:

Somebody said that this is bigger than Woodstock […] and music brings everybody together. And it’s all about togetherness tonight. We’re here tonight, we are alive in New York, the Yankees are kickin’ ass, the Knicks will kick ass. Alright, we’ve been hit, we’ve been a little down, but we are not out, we are still the greatest city in the world […] and we’re a better New York. We’re a better New York […] and we’re a compassionate nation. We’re a compassionate nation. While we’re at war. We’re at war but we’re also dropping food on Afghanistan. […] Now tonight is important, just to have fun and get away from the news for a while, it’s okay. I can’t watch the shows anymore with the ticker tape going at the bottom of the set, it’s driving me crazy. My neck hurts. […] Get away from the news. And you hear the same things over and over again. […] It’s not the good old days when the only guy we hated was John Rocker. This is a different thing. Now we can have fun. We can make fun of the Taliban. And when they’re together, don’t they look like ZZ Top? But let me ask you something. We have learned something in all of this mess. We have to be kind to people who are different than us, who look different, who talk strange, who have different beliefs. I’m talking ‘bout people from Jersey. We should learn and whether we are Christians or Jews, or a Muslim, we all have to agree on one thing. We can never, ever again let Mariah Carey make a movie. Please.

Crystal makes clear that Muslim terrorists are not the only enemy America faces. The Concert for New York City is also haunted by the specter of the angry white bigot – the old American type personified by Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker, who in 1999 had said of New York,

It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing. […] The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?

The War on Terror, while rallying westerners to slaughter the inhabitants of distant and easily misrepresented foreign countries, would also pressure Americans and Europeans to find within themselves the capacity to accept an increasingly alien presence in their midst. As Crystal suggests, the 9/11 attacks have metamorphosed the citizens into “a better New York” and “a compassionate nation” that is also “dropping food on Afghanistan”. The obedient open-mindedness demanded of the audience extends beyond the mere acceptance of immigrants from foreign cultures. They must also accept the sexual other, as represented on the concert program by David Bowie, Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Rudy Giuliani, and Hillary Clinton. The pedophile demographic is also represented, with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Pete Townshend in attendance, and Allan Konigsberg, known to the world as Woody Allen, contributing a short film to the show.

“These colors don’t run” reads an American flag sign hoisted among the audience. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, whose office received one of the anthrax letters five days before the concert, reinforced the bellicose mood of the night, declaring that “America will never be defeated!”

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A firefighter then introduces Bon Jovi, with the Jersey boys performing a somber rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer” – significantly, a song about economic hardship made bearable by a faith in the irrational. The theme of a necessary sacrifice would be repeated in the calls for viewers to donate money and in Jim Carrey’s assertion that “freedom comes at a terrible price.” Bon Jovi next performs “Wanted Dead or Alive”, which, in the context of the Concert for New York City, is cleverly metamorphosed into a song about war and the bravery of soldiers, cowboys on steel horses, riding off to fight in “another place where the faces are so cold.” If the lyrics are honest about one thing, it is that they “might not make it back.” Ironically, Bon Jovi’s drummer beats on a set adorned with images of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty, the effect being that Lady Liberty takes a pummeling throughout the patriotic performance.

Jay-Z grabs the mic to deliver the drug-slinging anthem “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, its title a reference to the Israelite god Jehovah. This selection might seem out of keeping with the evening’s festivities if not for the fact that U.S. forces were then in the process of seizing Afghanistan for the reclamation of its poppy fields. The Goo Goo Dolls next invade the stage to rock a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, with frontman John Rzeznik parading around in camo pants to show his solidarity with the mission of “Operation Enduring Freedom”.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro then introduce Martin Scorsese’s short film “The Neighborhood”, which concerns itself with the demographic changes reconfiguring the director’s old stomping grounds on Elizabeth Street in Little Italy. “Today, on the surface,” Scorsese begins, “it seems obvious that the neighborhood’s changed. I mean, it’s Asian-American. It may be Chinese now. But it’s not that simple.” He visits a Mr. De Palo, the proprietor of a cheese shop, who gives the audience a lesson in diversity and social change:

People today say “This is not Little Italy anymore.” And I tell them “You’re wrong. You’re wrong. The spirit of Little Italy, the immigrants that came here […] and you look down the street and you see this whole group of people.” I said “That’s the same exact thing as my grandparents and great-grandparents. This neighborhood hasn’t changed.”

“Wow, look at that cheese, eh?” Scorsese enthuses before treating the audience to a historical lecture that utilizes the themes established by Billy Crystal’s deprecating remark about John Rocker earlier during the show.

There were groups of bigots called Know-Nothings. They didn’t want the Irish in America at all. This was back in 1844. They gathered together to march down Prince Street from the Bowery to burn and destroy St. Patrick’s, but when they got to the corner, they saw that the place was defended not just by Irish men, but by Irish women and by Irish children, too. […] And that was the beginning of the end. The change. The change over acceptance about what America’s supposed to be. Letting in the immigrants, letting in other cultures, other religions, other races, and everybody living together – in freedom […] I had this thing that happened to me […] by 1979 I […] developed dyslexia. Invariably, I want to say “right” but “left” comes out. I want to say “left” but “right” comes out. And, uh, when I think of New York I want to say “New York” but “America” comes out. And that’s real. That’s true.

This will never be the country of the ignorant Know-Nothings again, Scorsese suggests, so nativists are advised instead to learn to love and live with the multicultural gaggle of schoolchildren who traipse across the screen during his diatribe. After all, just like the Italians, they will acculturate and eventually be transformed into real and fully assimilated Americans.

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Billy Joel shows up to perform “New York State of Mind” and “Miami 2017” – an upbeat tune that, oddly enough, seems to revel in imagery of New York City’s destruction.

Will Ferrell next appears in the role of “W” in a comedy segment celebrating the popular myth of the cowboy adventurer Bush administration and trivializing the horror of the invasion of Afghanistan by turning it into a stupid cartoon:

I wanted to give y’all an update on the current proceedings. Let me take a second to give you my own little Behind the Music on the Artist formerly known as the Taliban. Earlier today I met with the U.S. Senate in their chambers. And then I met with the House of Representatives in their new offices, which are in the basement of an abandoned Sam Goody’s in eastern Maryland. We discussed our plan […] to bomb the Taliban into the Stone Age. The problem is […] they don’t seem to notice the difference. So we had to come up with a new plan. And right now we are focusing our attacks on all the major cities under the Taliban, or as I call them, the Evil Doers. We’ve just started attacking Mazar-i-Sharif. And you know what? Sharif don’t like it. Rock the casbah, rock the casbah. You know, Sharif don’t like it. Now, as many of you know, we’ve had to change the name of our military campaign several times […] but I’ve talked to some of the people here tonight and they’ve given me some new ideas. Paul McCartney said, “Why don’t we call it Taliband on the Run?” I thought that was good. Destiny’s Child suggested “Operation Bootylicious”. Macy Gray, she said somethin’ to me, but I couldn’t understand a word she was sayin’. […] Well, whatever we call it, the mission is clear. The Evil Doers are in their caves. And we’re gonna smoke ‘em out of their caves. And then we’re gonna smoke ‘em back into their caves just for the heck of it. And then out of their caves and then back in. And why are we gonna do this? I can do anything I want, my approval rating is like 106% right now. And since I can do whatever I want, I’m gonna sing a song tonight.

“W” then launches into a rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” only to be interrupted before he can get to the telling line “The piper’s calling you to join him.”

Chris Kattan introduces Destiny’s Child, who treat the crowd to a song titled “Emotion” (“emotions takin’ me over”) followed by a gospel medley to shut down rational thought and give God’s sanction to the new age of international interventionism. An apparently inebriated Harrison Ford thanks the Robin Hood Foundation and Bear, Stearns for their generosity, after which the audience is further distracted with a feel-good “Lovely Day” video with smiling babies, interracial couples, and dogs.

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Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, continuing with the transatlantic theme, collaborate on “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” with backing from Paul Shaffer’s CBS Orchestra.

James Lipton from Inside the Actor’s Studio provides a distinguished introduction for Adam Sandler, reprising the role of his Saturday Night Live character Operaman in order to honor the fallen firefighters and other heroes with novelty songs about consumerism, homosexuality, and Jewish erections. “I got a bone-ah! A Jewish circumcised bone-ah! Can’t get rid of this bone-ah! Operaman wish he was alone-ah!” Generous as his performance has already been, the virtuoso cannot bring himself to leave the stage without first directing the audience’s thoughts to excretions and bestiality:

He no let women read. He no let women vote-ah!

That’s why the only love he gets is from a mountain goat-ah!

He want to spread disease-oh in our mailbox.

For he himself suffers from a case of smallcox!

Osama kiss my ass! Osama bite my dink!

Osama go to hell! Osama get a shrink!

Osama says he’s tough, Osama says he’s brave.

Then tell me why Osama is shitting in a cave!

The Backstreet Boys, tasked with the difficult chore of following Sandler’s triumph, sing “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” – again, an ironic selection in consideration of what the concert has been designed to do. David Spade and Melissa Etheridge put in appearances, after which Halle Berry makes another “money pitch” and introduces a Spike Lee tribute to the New York Yankees. Visible over a doorway in the film is a quote from General MacArthur: “There is no substitute for victory.” This conveniently frames the necessity of the “War on Terror” through the collective memory of the “good war” America fought against fascism. MacArthur, of course, commanded American forces in the Pacific theater opened after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The “War on Terror” had similarly been launched by a “New Pearl Harbor” event as predicted in PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” document. Paul McCartney would also draw a parallel between the Second World War and the “War on Terror” by mentioning that his father served as a firefighter during the Blitz.

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John Cusack introduces the Who, who storm through “Who Are You” with a Union Jack projected onto a screen above the stage. An American flag replaces it during “Baba O’Reilly” with its assessment of a generation “all wasted”. “Behind Blue Eyes” cranks up the anger with its “vengeance” that is “never free”. American flags symbolically flank a Union Jack for the final song of the set, which, in the Concert for New York City’s greatest irony, is “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Images of the Twin Towers appear on the screen to remind the audience why the war drums have been beating all night.

Governor George Pataki puts in his two cents with some “God bless America!” tripe, after which Cusack introduces Konigsberg’s short “Sounds from a Town I Love”, which spies on neurotic New Yorkers as they kvetch into their cell phones post-9/11. Two of the overheard conversations warrant special attention. “This is the greatest city in the world,” one man says. “Where else can you be paranoid and right so often?” The New Yorker’s paranoia takes on particular meaning in consideration of another character’s restaurant review: “Hey, we went to Balthazar last night. Oh, it’s fantastic. At the table next to ours was Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Marlon Brando, Tiger Woods, Tony Blair, the president, and Osama bin Laden. I am telling you, that is the in place to be.” The idea that George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden might be having a business lunch together is only intended to be a joke, because only Allan Konigsberg could imagine something so silly happening – right?

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The home viewer’s attention is more than once redirected to a Bud Light banner as well as to a bimbo in the audience showing off her ample cleavage, keeping the people’s collective consciousness squarely planted between their legs, which is where it stays as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards take the stage. The pair sings “Salt of the Earth” as an excuse to get in “a prayer for the common foot soldier”, after which Mick hoots his way through “Miss You”. Matters only get grubbier from there, with Howard Stern trotting out and showing the crowd his buttocks.

Hillary Clinton put in a brief appearance behind the microphone and was reportedly booed, but this audience reaction was allegedly edited out of the concert as presented on DVD. Bill, after referencing the Oklahoma City bombing, bubbas his way through a creepy speech in which he says, “We hope we can make your children our children. We hope your future will be ours.” He then finishes with a statement reinforcing the multicultural theme established by Billy Crystal and Martin Scorsese: “Just one last thing I want ‘em [i.e., al Qaeda] to know: in America, you can have any religion you want, you can be from any race or background […] you can do anything you want [i.e., what thou wilt] and still be part of our crowd, if you recognize that our common humanity is more important than all of our interesting differences. That’s the big difference between us and them,” he declares. To fight against terrorism, then, and to be a true American patriot, is to view the racists and the religious bigots as enemies of the state.

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James Taylor sings “Fire and Rain” and “Up on the Roof”, followed by Michael J. Fox – another interesting piece of booking for the program – introducing a firefighter who angrily brays: “Osama bin Laden, you can kiss my royal Irish ass!”

Rudy Giuliani puts in a good word for New York tourism, after which Jimmy Fallon gives vent to his poor taste by singing a comic rendition of “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” to a room full of people whose loved ones had, in fact, just died. Jon Bon Jovi introduces a foul-mouthed Kevin Smith short, followed by John Mellencamp doing “Peaceful World” and “Pink Houses”. Hilary Swank brings out Vladimir Ondrasik, whose stage name, “Five for Fighting”, slyly reinforces the hawk objective.

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Natalie Hershlag next pops out to sell the alliance with Israel with sex appeal. “Hi, everybody, I’m Natalie Portman. I was born in Jerusalem, but I am now a proud resident of New York and I want to wish peace to everyone who is a human being [i.e., Jews] everywhere.” Hershlag smooches a fireman and teases the crowd, “I would kiss all of you if I could. Thank you!” Yes, thank you, goyim. Thank you for fighting Israel’s wars. Israel had nothing to do with 9/11, by the way. Check me out, you goyim. I’m totally hot!

Richard Gere, the only performer who seems to want, however timidly and ineffectively, to oppose the rampant warmongering spirit of the night, receives a negative reaction to his embarrassed message of peace:

This is the moment when we need to be healed and when music showed us the way. Music does what it does best, it helps us to heal. And I think in the situation right now, when we have the possibility of taking this energy, this horrendous energy that we’re all feeling – and the possibility of turning it into more violence and revenge – we can stop that. We can take that energy and turn it into something else. We can turn it into compassion, to love, into understanding. That’s apparently unpopular right now, but that’s alright.

An excerpt from a Ric Burns documentary has journalist Ray Suarez spouting more multiculturalist rubbish and hammering into Americans’ heads how brown they have to become and how Jews are eternal victims:

I would submit at the beginning of the twenty-first century that New York is one of those places that you can use to understand the entire American experience, from a string of Indian villages out on the tip of the eastern seaboard to a place where blacks and Dutch and Jewish refugees and people from the four corners of the earth came in – to the America factory […]

Salma Hayek calls out Jim Carrey to do a clown routine before he composes himself and gets serious. “It is the end of a selfish and cynical age,” he proclaims, reinforcing the notion that a new nation has come into being. The heroes of 9/11, he says, “have reminded us who we really are.”

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Finally, to bring the Concert for New York City to a close, the oligarchs trot out their ultimate showstopper, decrepit old beetle [sic] Paul McCartney, who, trashing his stature as the author of “All You Need Is Love”, reveals himself to be a prostitute of the military-industrial complex by unveiling what is positively the stupidest song of the long and depressing decrescendo of his career – and all for the benefit of some parasitic bankers and Zionists. “I tell you what,” the cute beetle announces after playing “I’m Down” and “Yesterday”. “We wrote a new song, um, the day after the attack, and it’s about freedom. That’s one thing these people don’t understand,” he challenges, raising his fist in a martial gesture. “It’s worth fighting for.” McCartney finally launches into the idiotic “Freedom”, instructing audience members to stomp their feet and clap their hands for percussive entrainment similar in its effect to that heard on John Lennon’s record “Give Peace a Chance”. “I will fight for the right to live in freedom,” the song states repeatedly, zombifying the listener.

After the rest of the stars on the program join McCartney for “Let It Be” – another signal to viewers’ brains to shut down logical thought processes and take refuge in the vague and pastel – McCartney again insists on subjecting the audience to another run-through of “Freedom”, this time with all of the other stars taking part and thereby endorsing its insipid neoconservative messaging. “I want to see everyone joining in this time,” McCartney commands, intending that those who sing along will become complicit in the sanction of war and have an emotional investment in the project. Amusingly, McCartney wears a firefighter’s T-shirt that says “Chinatown Dragon Fighters” – as apt a label as any for a charlatan energizing a nation to wage a war against a foe that only exists in a culture’s imagination.

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Rainer Chlodwig von K.

I’ve never been much of a U2 fan, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the group’s song “Beautiful Day”. Upbeat and uplifting in a generic, innocuous way, the track could hardly have been more perfectly engineered for distracting the public with pleasant reflections during some of the darkest days in the history of the United States. Was this the intention?

Curiously for a single offering such a positive message, the album from which it was lifted, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, was released at the end of October 2000, with E! News announcing the album as a “Halloween offering” for the band’s fans1. In retrospect, there is a creepiness to the music video for “Beautiful Day”, which features the band cavorting and performing at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The video, in addition to showing Bono running about and behaving like a child or a madman, contains a scene in which the group’s luggage is scanned by airport security – did anybody suspect U2 of being terrorists? – and later has them playing a gig on some Persian rugs laid out on a runway. Less than one year later, the unfortunate associations of aircraft, airport security, and the Middle East in conjunction with the stuck traffic and other details referenced in the lyrics would conjure anything but the idea of a “beautiful day” – for most audiences, anyway. The events of September 11th were, of course, highly profitable for many – perhaps even “beautiful”.

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Was All That You Can’t Leave Behind designed as a cryptographic soundtrack to 9/11? To ask such a question, of course, sounds foolish, as would any suggestion that Bono or any other members of U2 had anything to do with the terrorism experienced in New York City and Washington, D.C., that day. There are, however, several compelling precedents for an intelligent discussion of popular culture artifacts as possible evidence of cryptically indicated foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, the Coup’s Party Music cover depicting the remotely controlled demolition of the World Trade Center being one of the most familiar of these. Are there any circumstances, apart from those listed above, that might lead a person to suspect more than a quasi-synchronicity at work between the perpetrators of 9/11 and All That You Can’t Leave Behind?

The cover of the album itself, also photographed in a terminal of Charles de Gaulle Airport, invites interpretation with its superimposition of the code “J33-3”, a reference to Jeremiah 33:3, which Bono has described as “God’s phone number”2. The biblical passage, which itself refers to mystery, reads, in the New American Standard Bible translation, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” In the King James version, it says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not”, while the English Standard version renders it more interestingly as, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (italics added). The Darby Bible and the Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh of 1917 also favor the use of the word “hidden” in this passage. Is Bono, who as a young fellow in Ireland belonged to a prayer group called Shalom3, suggesting that something or other has been “hidden” or encrypted in the album’s contents?

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The context of the quotation from Jeremiah may be instructive in view of the music’s hypothetically posited relevance to the events of September 11th, which infamously prompted Benjamin Netanyahu to observe that the destruction of the World Trade Center was “very good” for Israel4 and to concede years later, “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.”5 Here is what Jeremiah goes on to say after 33:3.

For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword in the fight with the Babylonians: “They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.

“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.”

bono-star

After the promised revelation of the “hidden things”, the “God of Israel” talks about demolished buildings and war against the enemies of the Jews in connection with the restoration of Israel. A few verses down, Jeremiah even mentions “burnt offerings” and “sacrifices” with reference to Israel’s ascent. For those with an interest in the occult significances of 9/11, the number 333 is also associated in Aleister Crowley’s Thelema system with a destructive force called Choronzon, a “demon of dispersion”, illusion, and hallucination which Aleister Crowley claims to have summoned. This, however, is probably straying too far afield for the purposes of the present essay, possible indications of Crowleyite mysticism at play on 9/11 and Bono’s reputed sartorial dabbling in the Jewish occult notwithstanding (“When he’s going cycling, he likes to dress up as a Hassidic Jew,” the Edge revealed of his bandmate after Bono injured himself in a bicycle accident in 20146).

Returning to “Beautiful Day”, the song informs listeners, “You’re out of luck,” and goes on to intone, “Sky falls, you feel like / It’s a beautiful day.” It goes on, “You’re lovin’ this town / Even if that doesn’t ring true / You’ve been all over / And it’s been all over you” – as, perhaps, material from the combusted skyscrapers would be “all over” the people in the streets of lower Manhattan? Niall Stokes, in his book Into the Heart, notes that Interscope Records executive Jimmy Iovine made a special visit to the Dublin studio where U2 was hard at work on “Beautiful Day” with “co-conspirators” (i.e., producers) Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. “It wasn’t finished at the time,” Stokes writes, adding that “the lyrics were only half-crafted when Iovine heard the track”7. He goes on to give this interesting account of one member of the production team’s experience of the song:

Daniel Lanois, sitting in the control room also had that [“Beautiful Day”] feeling [expressed by Bono]. “The track at that point was really pumping,” he remembers, “and the mix that we did had the power of shattered metal. You don’t know where it comes from – I think it was a lot of processing. And I had this image of Bono, singing about beauty in the midst of flying pieces of metal and mayhem.”8

bono-eyeWhat “flying pieces of metal and mayhem” have to do with a “beautiful day” is beyond me, but apparently it meant something to U2. Another song on the album is titled “New York”, referencing the target of the attacks explicitly, and name-drops Jews and, in the following line, “political fanatics” – although it’s unclear from the context whether or not the Jews are the fanatics in question. Other lines in “New York”, heard post-9/11, could easily be construed as alluding to the chaos of that day if somebody didn’t know better: “Voices on a cell phone / Voices from home / Voices of the hard sell / Voices down a stairwell / In New York […] You can’t walk around the block / Without a change of clothing / Hot as a hair dryer in your face / Hot as a handbag and a can of mace / New York.”

Other songs on the album, whether intentionally or otherwise, carry similar 9/11 resonances, with imagery evocative of air travel (“Man dreams one day to fly / A man takes a rocket ship into the skies”; “Explain all these controls”; “You’re packing a suitcase”; “you’ve got no destination”; “You make me feel like I can fly / So high, elevation”; “The only baggage you can bring / Is all that you can’t leave behind”; “Who’s to say where the wind will take you”), death and loss (“I wasn’t jumping / For me it was a fall / It’s a long way down to nothing at all”; “They left you with nothing”; “a star that’s dying in the night”; “You lose your balance, lose your wife / In the queue for the lifeboat”; “I’m not afraid to die”), and explosions (“scatter of light”; “fireworks”; “star lit up like a cigar”), and other catastrophes (“All that you wreck / All that you hate”; “I hit an iceberg in my life”). “When I Look at the World”, meanwhile, in lines that could very easily refer to the “Chosen People”, gripes, “I can’t see for the smoke / I think of you and your holy book / When the rest of us choke.” Another of All That You Can’t Leave Behind’s tracks is titled “Kite” and might be of particular interest to those familiar with accusations of esoteric significance to the children’s reading demonstration for President Bush on September 11th. “There’s a kite blowing out of control on a breeze,” the song warns, adding, “I wonder what’s gonna happen to you.”

Notwithstanding the highlighted lyrics, it must be noted that Bono and his bandmates have provided perfectly plausible explanations for the genesis of each of the songs on All That You Can’t Leave Behind – each of which is detailed in Into the Heart. Bono has claimed the death of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence as the inspiration for “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”9, while “Elevation” purports to convey “a combination of primordial lasciviousness, ecstatic spirituality and soulful need”10 and “Walk On”, according to Bono, was inspired by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese academic and leader of the National League for Democracy11. As for the album’s travel motif, Stokes makes the observation that Bono is “a man who has spent a substantial part of the last 25 years living in hotels.”12 On the origin of “In a Little While”, Stokes offers the following:

Around the turn of the year, Bono had been thinking Millennium thoughts, watching old clips of the Apollo moon landing on TV and experiencing again the sense of awe that he’d felt when he saw those pictures for the first time as a kid, the ecstatic realisation of how tiny and insignificant we are as individuals – and as a race – in the grand scheme of things. It was a mood that fed into “Beautiful Day” with its vision of Bedouin fires, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon and other earthly phenomena, as seen from above, the narrator cocooned in the bosom of a space ship orbiting the globe.13

bono6In addition to the “Bedouin fires” and “oil fields” – clearly references to the Middle East – the line in “Beautiful Day” that goes, “See China right in front of you” is, perhaps, and to force a point, interesting in view of this assertion by geopolitical commentator and former U.S. Treasury official Paul Craig Roberts: “The Western peoples are so dimwitted that they have not yet understood that the ‘war on terror’ is, in fact, a war to create terror that can be exported to Muslim areas of Russia and China in order to destabilize the two countries that serve as a check on Washington’s unilateral, hegemonic power.”14 But, again, such a reading would constitute something of a stretch.

The song “Peace on Earth”, meanwhile, is acknowledged to have been inspired by a terrorist event – but one that took place in Ireland, not New York. Stokes explains:

[…] a bomb went off at 2:30 in the afternoon, on 15 August 1998, in the town of Omagh in County Tyrone. There had been an advance warning. But it was inaccurate, and instead of clearing the area around the car containing the bomb, it drove the crowds of people milling around the town on a busy Saturday afternoon towards the danger zone. When the bomb exploded, the resulting carnage was the worst in the bloody history of the Northern troubles with twenty-nine killed and dozens more scarred, maimed and wounded.15

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Finally, “New York”, according to Stokes, consists of “the cool pulsing groove acting as a backdrop as the narrator confesses quietly to the terms of the mid-life crisis afflicting him” until “halfway through it explodes in a grungy mess that’s impressively appropriate to the theme of the song.”16

In spite of the flimsiness of the case to be made for All That You Can’t Leave Behind as a cryptographic foreshadowing of the World Trade Center attacks and the coming of the War on Terror, there is an undeniable and consciously cultivated connection between U2 and these events. As The Daily Dot’s Nico Lang recounts:

Their 2000 record, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, not only sold a staggering 12 million copies, but it gave the band a renewed relevance in the wake of 9/11, when songs like “Walk On” came to symbolize an America figuring out how to pick up the pieces. Songs like the anthemic “One” had always found a universal relevance, but this was a reminder of exactly why U2 was so popular: It united the types of people who would normally never agree on liking anything.17

Whatever the group’s intentions in crafting each of the particular songs, fans have made connections between the group, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and contemporary events in history. One uploader to YouTube has even dubbed “Stuck in a Moment” a “9/11 Song” despite the fact that it was released almost a year before that date.

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More intriguing than fans’ perceptions of the band’s intentions, however, are Bono’s unexpected involvements with the neoconservative Blair and Bush administrations. “Among liberals there was, it is true, some grumbling when, from 2001, Bono’s friendly persuasion started to provide ‘caring’ cover for a Republican White House rather than a Democratic one,” writes Harry Browne, author of the scathing study The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). “But such grumbling is a mere artefact of the partisan divide in the US, where the distinction between the two parties hides the fact that they have few substantial differences.”18 He continues:

bono-flag-3It was reported that he would hop on a plane immediately after a gig and dash to Washington for meetings first thing in the morning. The Bush White House increasingly liked the cut of his jib. […]

The White House was pleased that Bono was on board with the sort of “conditionalities” on aid that First World governments and institutions had been demanding from developing countries for decades.

After 9/11, it perhaps became a little harder to sell development assistance in Washington. However, [Condoleezza] Rice and secretary of state Colin Powell were keen to ensure that US foreign policy was seen to have a non-military dimension, and Bono and others were frequently heard to conjoin the “war on terror” with a “war on poverty”: as the New York Times put it, paraphrasing Bono’s argument, “fragile states could not be allowed to become failed states, as Afghanistan had been.”19

bono-flagBono does not seem to have had much of a problem with Bush’s interventionist foreign policy, and the singer was disgustingly reported to have “clicked” with Paul Wolfowitz when the pair met20. At the very outset of the War on Terror, he gave his implicit blessing to the American invasion of Afghanistan. “Bono would not always be so sensitive about the dangers of associating ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ with nationalism, even violent nationalism,” Browne recalls. “On stage in Madison Square Garden in October 2001, as the US dropped bombs on Afghan cities, during that song he ‘embraced the Stars and Stripes’ and otherwise ‘reverently’ handled the US flag,” he continues. “He didn’t tear it apart.”21 A few months later, at E-Trade Finanacial’s Super Bowl Halftime Show of 2002, U2 performed “Where the Streets Have No Name” as, ironically, the names of the 9/11 dead were projected behind the band. At the close of the show, Bono opened his jacket to reveal the American flag in its lining, appearing to give the crowd a demonstration of his solidarity with America’s warlike response to the terror attacks.

“Such is Bono’s special status among the elite globalist sets of Bilderbergers and Trilateralists that he has, inevitably, come to the attention of American conspiracy theorists, who incoherently (even by their own standards) paint him as a knowing ‘frontman for genocide’ through his connection to an obscure but deadly eugenics agenda that appears to be run by Bill Gates,” Browne observes. “As usual,” however, “such ravings distract from serious consideration of Bono’s place in the world and the service he provides to the powerful by dressing their work, individually and collectively, in humanitarian garb – a relationship that is right out in the open and can be viewed clearly without resort to conspiracy.”22

Inevitably, not every questioner will be satisfied by Browne’s dismissive sarcasm – particularly when Bono conveniently pops up at the recent ISIS Nice truck attack (!).

Thoughts?

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Endnotes

  1. Grossberg, Josh. “New U2 Album to Rock Halloween”. E! News (August 21, 2000): http://www.eonline.com/news/40334/new-u2-album-to-rock-halloween
  2. Rossell, Raul. “U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind Airport Photo Location and Bible Reference”. FeelNumb (August 29, 2010): http://www.feelnumb.com/2010/08/29/u2-all-that-you-cant-leave-behind-airport-photo-location/
  3. Browne, Harry. The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). New York, NY: Verso, 2013, p. 14.
  4. Abunimah, Ali. “‘It’s Very Good’: Recalling Benjamin Netanyahu’s Words on the Day of the 9/11 Attacks”. The Electronic Intifada (September 11, 2012): https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/its-very-good-recalling-benjamin-netanyahus-words-day-911-attacks
  5. “Report: Netanyahu Says 9/11 Terror Attacks Good for Israel” Haaretz (April 16, 2008): http://www.haaretz.com/news/report-netanyahu-says-9-11-terror-attacks-good-for-israel-1.244044
  6. “U2’s Bono Goes Hasidic”. Jewish News (December 8, 2014): http://jewishnews.com/2014/12/08/u2s-bono-goes-hasidic/
  7. Stokes, Niall. Into the Heart: U2. New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press, p. 146.
  8. Ibid., p. 147.
  9. Ibid., p. 148.
  10. Ibid., p. 150.
  11. Ibid., p. 151.
  12. Ibid., p. 152.
  13. Ibid., p. 154.
  14. Roberts, Paul Craig. “The NeoCon Game”. American Free Press 15, no. 51/52 (December 21-28, 2015), p. 12.
  15. Stokes, Niall. Into the Heart: U2. New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press, p. 156.
  16. Ibid., p. 160.
  17. Lang, Nico. “How U2 Became the New Nickelback”. The Daily Dot (September 16, 2014): http://www.dailydot.com/via/how-u2-became-the-new-nickelback/
  18. Browne, Harry. The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). New York, NY: Verso, 2013, p. 72.
  19. Ibid., p. 73.
  20. Grieve, Tim. “Wolfowitz Reaches Out to Bono”. Salon (March 18, 2005): http://www.salon.com/2005/03/18/wolf_5/
  21. Browne, Harry. The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). New York, NY: Verso, 2013, p. 24.
  22. Ibid., p. 111.

Hood

A cheapo ghetto reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood, Hood stars bullnecked mulatto football prince Matt Singletary – an actor with all the charisma of a dead crack baby – as an “army hero” who, after fighting the Taliban (i.e., guarding the CIA’s heroin crop) in Afghanistan, comes back home to Chicago to find that his old neighborhood is being tyrannized by the Latin Kings. Determined to make a difference in “the community”, Hood becomes a hoodie-cloaked superhero of sorts, venturing out at night to rip off drug dealers and redistribute their ill-gotten gains to the needy. Assisting him in his low-intensity, action-deprived crusade are Father Tuck (Malik Yoba) and Juanito (Richard Esteras), with corrupt Chicago law enforcement taking the place of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Darren Jones is fun as an oily politician, and one wishes that Thea Camara had been given more screen time as the big and spirited Mrs. Fitzwalter; otherwise, not much to recommend this one.

2 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Hood is:

8. Anti-drug. Hard drugs empower evil. Hood does, however, enjoy a beer.

7. Anti-police. The Latin Kings have infiltrated Chicago’s police, and even the honest few are lazy, muffin-gobbling slobs.

6. State-skeptical. Cynical politicians are in league with criminals. “The worse a neighborhood gets, the more funding it gets,” an alderman rationalizes.

5. Pro-military. The Army appears as the ideal venue for multicultural empowerment. Blacks on the battlefield get to be called “sir”, mouth off to white superiors, and demonstrate their superhuman heroism by doing 187s on America’s enemies. Hilariously, Hood’s pathetic EBT-budgeted version of a Taliban fighter is just some bespectacled Jewish-looking guy in a caftan.

4. Immigration-ambivalent. Hood indicates that “new immigrants” (i.e., illegals) are a prime source of recruits for the Latin Kings because “most don’t speak English” and need a place to stay. Despite the national blight this obviously represents, the film appears to want to depict them as exploited victims.

3. Multiculturalist. So as not to create the impression of racial tension between blacks and mestizos, the Latin Kings are shown to have congoid subordinates while Hood receives the support of his Hispanic neighbors. A community center allows the races to come together in fellowship. Hood volunteers there and teaches tai chi to a vibrant set of youngsters.

2. Christian. Hood, his family, and friends are Christians, and Father Tuck keeps it real on the liberation theology tip. He acknowledges sin in the Church, however, when (after mistaking Hood for a pedophile) he says, “Unlike some priests, I don’t take too kindly to strangers putting their hands on little boys.” Hood’s soundtrack even features a little Christian rap, and the film ends with a Mother Teresa quotation.

1. Marxist. Hood and his band of merry diversityites rob not only Latin Kings, but honest businessmen as well. Troubled by the phenomenon of ghetto “food deserts” and apparently oblivious to the fact that these result from black consumer and criminal behavior, Hood and his gang commit a series of food truck heists, threatening “1 truck per week till you open stores in these neighborhoods.” Robbing trucks. Yep, that ought to spur investment in “the community” . . .

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Expendables 2

Those left craving another helping of the limp-fisted one-liners, geriatric jollies and follies and apeshit aviation stunts, the genocidal body counts, computer-generated gore, and wanton devastation of exotic locales served up by the first Expendables film will find more of the same in this second wholly superfluous jaunt from the old folks’ hangar. So much blood splatters with such fetishistic tedium during the too-slick opening raid sequence that soldiers appear to be erupting with so much crimson jizz on themselves. Should viewers really be surprised when the credits come up and attribute the script to somebody named Richard Wenk? The self-lover’s screenplay has Stallone’s ragtag team of mercenaries venturing into Eastern Europe to stop satanic jack-of-all-villainies Van Damme from getting a cache of old Soviet weapons-grade plutonium into the hands of “the wrong people” – Muslims, presumably – and avenging a fallen comrade in the process.

Unfortunately, with such a surfeit of 80s dynamite nostalgia – with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and others all crammed into Expendables 2’s star-studded cast – the result is a textbook case of a whole being less than the sum of constituent parts. The saturation of superpower, with heavyweights like Schwarzenegger and Norris confined to a couple of cameos, has the effect of mutual neutralization bordering on trivialization for all of the A-list actors involved, so that each of the heroes appears diminished and relatively dimmed. New female teammate Yu Nan, meanwhile, adds nothing of worth to the Expendables formula.

In its defense, The Expendables 2 does feature a hair-raising last-minute takeoff, a passable time bomb countdown sequence, and a brutal blade-and-chain-wielding climactic confrontation between Van Damme and Stallone. Norris, more defiantly deadpan than ever, has the only genuine laugh in the movie when he tells a campy snake attack anecdote, while the gratuity of Willis and Schwarzenegger swapping famous catch phrases with each other during a firefight holds a gay but admittedly irresistible fascination for children of the 80s – as does the sight of oldster Arnie effortlessly ripping the door off a car instead of simply opening it like a regular wimp. The CGI action sequences lack the tactile macho magic of the old days, and the forced attempts at human interest are similarly artificial, but such gripes will hardly dissuade those who already know this is their kind of film.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Expendables 2 is:

7. Anti-marriage. Jason Statham’s fiancée is a “half-cheat”.

6. Feminist. Unfeminine and consequently uninteresting Maggie (Yu Nan) is “combat-proficient”.

5. Pro-drug. Lundgren picturesquely drinks from a flask, while others opt for bottles of beer.

4. Pro-torture. “We’ll beat the truth out of ‘em,” Stallone says of a bar full of tough Slavic strangers, but surgical blades wielded with oriental prowess end up doing the job more efficiently.

3. Multiculturalist/pro-immigration. Stallone asks Maggie if she knows how to carve a turkey. In other words, all arrivals are welcome as long as they promise to ape the superficial rituals of Americanness.

2. Pro-miscegenation. Lundgren spends the movie slobbering over the homely Chinawoman, who, however (with an eye to Stallone), professes to “like Italian”. Even so, Lundgren would “really die for some Chinese.”

1. Neoconservative. As in Chernobyl Diaries, the Red Dawn remake, and the equally unworthy A Good Day to Die Hard, the Cold War’s weary specter is roused from its mothballs to put fear of the Russians back into American moviegoers. CIA operative Church (Bruce Willis) spooks in top-secret, mysterious ways, so better do what the gentleman tells you! Then, too, there is the omnipresent danger of weapons of mass destruction. Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) is a veteran of Afghanistan who expresses regret that his comrades (and dog) are “dead for nothin’”; but such brief dissimulation of antiwar sentiment serves as little more than a proprietary fig leaf for the Blackwater-as-Superman agenda of a movie determined to teach little American boys how cool it is to go off raising Cain in foreign countries in order to save and police the benighted regions of the world. One almost suspects that any disapproval Expendables 2 evinces toward the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan stems not so much from the insufficient warrant to go to war in the first place, but from the fact that America’s forces failed to splatter enough intestines loudly and brashly enough.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Zombinator

The filming of a fashion documentary furnishes the pretext for a film crew to follow a group of college students around Youngstown, Ohio, on what turns out to be night the city is hit by a zombie plague. Unfortunately, those lured by the inviting sight of the zombie cyborg featured on the cover of The Zombinator are bound to be a bit disappointed, as no such creature actually appears in the film.

The title character (Joseph Aviel) is an Afghanistan veteran trying to save Youngstown and the United States from a military-industrial undead plot being executed on the ground by “war hero” the Colonel (Patrick Kilpatrick) and his team of greedy mercenaries. The young people, meanwhile, spend most of the movie whimpering, cowering, running, and trying not to get bitten.

The film crew’s presence in the story suggests a postmodern self-awareness on the part of The Zombinator‘s makers, but it also presents some puzzling questions. They seem to be an unusually caddish lot, even for movie industry professionals, considering that they continue to shoot with apparent indifference as their associates are attacked, neither lifting a finger to help during combat nor even alerting a group of sleeping girls as the zombies sneak up on them.

The Zombinator achieves an adequate level of suspense, even if the zombies and story are nothing new or particularly special; and occasionally bathetic humor offers a welcome break from the scenes of horror and mediocre action with CGI blood and fake gunfire. Shame on The Zombinator, though, for baiting the audience with the tasty prospect of a zombie-Terminator hybrid and instead delivering a regular old hungry carcass flick.

3 out of 5 stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Zombinator is:

9. Anti-tobacco. A cigarette is a “cancer stick”.

8. Racist! A horny black dude stupidly opens a door for some zombie sluts. Paranoid and self-absorbed congoids are apt to assume that even the basement of a Catholic school might be a secret hideout for the KKK. End credits feature a vicious ghetto zombie in a hoodie.

7. Anti-family. Marcus (Justin Brown) was abused by his father.

6. Class-conscious. The 1% gets name-dropped, as does the gentrification neighborhoods of Youngstown are said to be experiencing. “It’s more like civilized murder now.”

5. Anti-Christian. The Zombinator is generally irreverent toward Christianity. A rotten-faced rock singer wears a clerical collar; one Youngstowner recalls seeing a bullet hole in a church bathroom; and priests (one of whom smokes) are ineffective at thwarting zombies. God, meanwhile, is “the one who’s got the biggest dividends.”

4. Anti-Y. Generation Y appears as a wimpy, idiotic, and superficial lot, the Colonel’s suggestion that they are truly “the greatest generation” coming across as masked sarcasm.

3. Anti-cronyism/anti-Obama. “But what about change?” cries a stupid liberal on learning that she and her friends are guinea pigs in a government bio-terror scheme. “What about what everybody voted for, against big corporations?”

2. Antiwar. America’s rulers preside over an empire, not a progressive wonderland, and ignorant young people’s mindless mouthing of patriotic admiration for soldiers rings unmistakably hollow. Afghanistan is a testing ground for biological agents, with soldiers used for deadly experiments.

1. Anti-state and N.W.O.-alarmist, promoting those darned conspiracy theories. “This is government shit, dude,” suspects one of the filmmakers. “If the world doesn’t see this, this is gonna happen everywhere else, too.” Later, the Zombinator explains that, “They have a cure, but they will not use it until it gets so big, after Youngstown is gone, and then they’ll present it on the market and make billions . . . billions and billions on your corpses.” So forget that crap in Contagion (2011) and World War Z (2013) about the valiant public servants over at the CDC and the WHO. This is the real deal.

Lone_Survivor_poster

Zio-harpy Debbie Schlussel, who has charged that Hollywood Jews are moldering in a “pan-Islamic slumber“, and badgered Jason Alexander about what she alleged were his Islamo-Nazi terrorist connections, was understandably irate with director Peter Berg when he made The Kingdom (2007), a film which, while reinforcing aspects of the War on Terror, made an effort to humanize the typical Saudi citizen.

Half-Jewish Berg, perhaps stung by this questioning of his Zionist bona fides, went on to direct Battleship (2012), an unabashed advertisement for American military recruitment on behalf of the Jew World Order. So as to be absolutely clear as to where he stands geopolitically, Berg even gave an interview to an Israeli journalist to promote Battleship, during which he referred to the possibility of an Iran with nuclear weapons as the most pressing crisis presently facing the planet and called his interviewer a draft dodger for not joining the IDF.

Berg’s most recent contribution to post-9/11 cinema is Lone Survivor, an Afghanistan war horror hailed by Fox News as “a great service to this nation” in its celebration of the goy cannon fodder who put their lives on the line to, as Berg words it, “protect you, to protect me” against “legitimate evil”. The “evil” in the film is jihadist Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami), whom Lone Survivor explicitly dubs the “bad guy” for the benefit of the cognitively impaired in the audience. Operation Red Wings deploys Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and his crack team of hardcore Navy SEALs to assassinate Shah, coddle the still-toddling Afghan “democracy”, and so secure the CIA’s investment in Afghanistan’s booming opium crop – though Lone Survivor, naturally, neglects to mention this last point.

Horribly boring exposition introduces viewers to a group of indistinguishable, unshaven, and dull-eyed muscleheads who lounge around and act like boastful frat boys between forays behind enemy lines. Israel’s errand boys, unfortunately, get into a kosher pickle when sent to execute Operation Red Wings. Shah’s Taliban army learns of the SEALs’ location, and when their Raytheon-enriching communications equipment goes on the blink, Marcus and crew are outnumbered and stranded, pinned to a hellish position on the side of a goat-infested mountain.

From this point on, Lone Survivor is almost entirely action, most of it unimaginatively realized, with shaky cam, speed-up/slow-down gimmickry, and first-person shooter POV shots with zombie-like Muslims in the cross-hairs. The characters are unlikable, their “fuck”-sprinkled dialogue doing little to humanize them, and their mission is frankly an unsupportable tyranny, so that one almost longs for the Taliban to win and kill off the American invaders. The film becomes more engrossing once Luttrell is left the last man of his team to continue to make his way to safety, as at this point Lone Survivor shifts from being a war adventure to a more archetypal struggle of one man to survive against hostile odds.

3 out of 5 possible stars. ICA’s advice: watch Rescue Dawn (2006) instead.

Rescue_Dawn_poster

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Lone Survivor is:

8. Pseudo-Christian. Navy SEAL Mike (Battleship‘s Taylor Kitsch) wears a cross tattoo on one of the arms he uses to kill on command.

7. Pro-miscegenation. End credits feature footage of a white soldier kissing his Asian bride.

6. Cronyist, putting in a good word for more military-industrial pork. “Limited resources, chief. There ain’t enough Apaches.”

5. Pro-drug. Several beers are mentioned as code names for nodes in Operation Red Wings. See, too, remark on opium above. Keep those cattle sappy and happy.

4. Anti-Muslim. Decapitation-happy “Tally” and mascara-wearing “bad guy” Ahmad Shah represents the Muslim menace ably.

3. Pro-military. An opening credits montage of Navy SEALs being trained, which is to say, tortured, to become thoughtless murder machines, essentially serves as a J.W.O. mercenary recruitment commercial. As with Berg’s toy-to-movie adaptation Battleship, the writer-director delights in the idea of plastic American soldiers for Jews to hold under their magnifying lens, watching them melt under foreign suns. A wimpy cover of David Bowie’s song “Heroes” stinks up the end credits photo montage of the men portrayed in the film.

2. Imperialist. The Taliban is a threat to world security, Lone Survivor would have viewers believe, because it promotes fundamentalist Islam, chops off a few heads, and forces its women not to dress like whores. The truth, however, is that many of these are just men trying to keep their country from going the way of the Jewnited States of Slum-merica, with whiny minorities running the show, social engineers and feminist riffraff ripping families apart, and Marxists undermining the cultural pillars supporting traditional ways of life. The neoconservative program, however, calls for Afghanistan to embrace diversity, drugs, pornography, sex reassignment surgery, Sarah Silverman, managerial government, and the drone-patrolled surveillance state – in short, Jewish World Imperium.

1. Zionist/anti-human. Disturbingly, Berg acknowledges that the strength of the book on which Lone Survivor is based is its divorcing of the Afghanistan war from politics, and its celebration of the alleged heroism of the band-of-brothers mentality that sustains its combatants. Lone Survivor, in other words, promotes the utmost nihilism, proposing that viewers should not concern themselves so much with why Taliban fighters must be killed, or why Afghanistan continues to be occupied, but rather with the relentless, Israel-licking devotion with which goy cattle “heroes” commit the mass murder. “You are never out of the fight,” Luttrell says at the end of the film, instilling in the audience the suggestion that America’s crusade against the evildoers, wherever they may dwell, will continue indefinitely.

 

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Ride Along

Ice Cube plays straight man to clownish Kevin Hart in Ride Along, a decent urban action-comedy set in the mean streets of Atlanta, Georgia. School security guard and police force aspirant Ben (Hart) is in love and intends to marry his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). Unfortunately for him, Angela’s hard-nosed top cop brother James (Cube) thinks Ben is a punk with no potential. Ben hopes that admission into the police academy will change his prospective brother-in-law’s opinion of him, but James is having none of it and decides to take Ben out for a ride along, a training day of sorts, with the intention of scaring the piss out of the weasel and getting him out of his life and away from his sister for good.

Ride Along benefits immensely from stone-faced, masculine Cube’s presence in the driver’s seat, while his smoldering, in-yo-face attitude makes the perfect foil for Hart’s lightweight ridiculousness. The latter’s antics grow on the viewer over the course of the film; but Hart still comes across as something like a poor man’s Chris Tucker, so that one wishes a livelier, more monkey-like, and facially animated performer like Tucker or Marlon Wayans had been cast in the key comic role. Laurence Fishburne collects a paycheck in a smallish part as crime kingpin Omar, while third-billed John Leguizamo (thankfully) has even less screen time.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Ride Along gets extra brownie points for including an Action Jackson reference and that it is:

7. Pro-family. James is fond of his sister and puts Ben through hell only out of a sense of protectiveness.

6. Drug-ambivalent. The morphine pumped into Ben to treat his gunshot wound is played for laughs, and Cheech and Chong are visible on a television screen in another scene. Alcohol, however, is bad news and could prevent a brother from playing basketball.

5. Feminist. Damsel-in-distress Angela frees herself from her bonds and gives some assistance to the boys with her frying pan. She also proves to be a natural at Ben’s first-person shooter game.

4. Neoconservative and anti-Slav. Ben does his part for the War on Terror by fighting the Taliban in his favorite video game. James is out to stop some Serbian gunrunners from providing Omar with the firepower he needs to take over Atlanta.

3. Statist/anti-gun. Ben, demonstrating Hollywood’s contention that the average Joe has no business with a gun in his hand, makes a fool of himself with a shotgun, giving the lie to the pro-gun poster behind him at the firing range. Security at the range is overly lax and Ben walks out with one of their guns. James, presumably the sort of government agent who, in Ride Along‘s view, should have the benevolently despotic monopoly on firearms, does his badge proud by engaging in a bit of glorified police brutality, slamming a shopkeeper’s head into a counter for no good reason.

2. Anti-police. Half the Atlanta police force is crooked, which would seem to conflict with the message intimated in no. 3.

1. Black supremacist. “I’m the brains. You’re the brawns,” James informs two fellow officers. White kids are a bad influence on an impressionable black youth, who could easily grow up to be a wino just by hanging out with them, Ben admonishes.

Assault-On-Wall-Street-Dominic-Purcell

Prolific writer-producer-director Uwe Boll, best known for notoriously reviled horror films like House of the Dead (2003) and Alone in the Dark (2005), now taps into understandable populist rage at the crony capitalist establishment with the depressing Assault on Wall Street. Powerfully built Dominic Purcell, something of a poor man’s Clive Owen, stars as down-on-his-luck security guard Jim Baxford, who, after losing his job and his wife (Erin Karpluk) following her protracted illness and financial anxiety suicide, decides to diversify his portfolio with a little vigilante vengeance directed at the seemingly untouchable high-rollers and bankster exploiters he holds collectively responsible for his personal tragedy.

Purcell is adequately tough and earnest, if not particularly interesting, in the lead; but it is in two key supporting roles that Assault on Wall Street shows true inspiration in casting. An aging John Heard is the perfect choice to play number one on Baxford’s hit list: selfish, nihilistic toxic investment CEO Jeremy Stancroft. Even greasier, however, in a role one wishes had been expanded, is uber-oily Eric Roberts as money-grubbing attorney Patterson. Roberts has aged, if not quite gracefully, then fascinatingly, with a uniquely silverfish-like screen presence that ideally lends itself to high villainy. Other familiar faces in the cast include Keith David, Edward Furlong, and Michael Pare as Baxford’s buddies Freddy, Sean, and Frank.

Assault on Wall Street is a decent rental, but may disappoint vigilante fans by spending too much time (nearly an hour) on the humiliating build-up and not enough on the retribution so temptingly advertised in the title. Consequently, it earns a modest 3.5 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Assault on Wall Street is:

11. Pro-police. Cops are depicted as human types who share in the general plight and sympathize with Baxford’s mission.

10. Anti-slut. “I’m gonna get an STD from this sandwich,” Frank teases a waitress. Corporate bigwigs consort with whores.

9. Christ-ambivalent. While a preacher attempts consolation, mouthing, “God visits us with many mysteries in life,” Baxford rather takes to heart more militant Biblical passages such as, “He trains my hands for war” (cf. nos. 1 and 7)

8. Marriage-ambivalent. Baxford’s marriage is a devoted one and would, if not for her illness and his financial worries, be happy. Friend Frank’s wife, however, is a cheater.

7. Antiwar. Baxford is a veteran forgotten in his time of need by the country that used him. In reply to the idea that violence is not a solution, a caller to a radio program asks, “Isn’t violence the official solution in Iraq and Afghanistan?” (cf. nos. 1 and 9)

6. Postracial, with blacks and whites interacting as friends irrespective of racial differences. And to demonstrate that his is an equal opportunity beef, Baxford even liquidates a few blacks along with the many white guys in suits and ties.

5. Drug-ambivalent. Baxford smokes philosophically and his friends are enthusiastic drinkers. “Let’s go get some alcohol, make the pain go away.” Baxford, in the wake of his personal ruin, is invited to “watch the game and do some serious drinkin'” for therapeutic purposes. But a man is claimed in a news report to have died in a “drunken accident”.

4. Anti-state. The cronyist statist quo, or the “plutocratic capturing of American politics”, transcends Republican vs. Democrat squabbles, with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Chris Dodd, and Alan Greenspan getting name-dropped as culpable players. At a lower level of weaselliness, Assistant D.A. Marwood (Barclay Hope) insensitively brushes off Baxford’s concerns. That Baxford is able to purchase military wares from a black market gun dealer (Clint Howard) militates against the notion that government-mandated gun control is effective or enforceable. Betraying the movie’s mixed messages about the place of government, however, is the fact that deregulation is also blamed for the ’08 collapse.

3. Anti-corporate. “The real fuckin’ criminals –  they’re downtown [i.e., on Wall Street].” Goldman Sachs, MF Global, Cerberus Capital, JP Morgan, and Lehman Brothers are among the outfits that receive negative product placement.

2. Anti-capitalistic. “System’s rigged, motherfucker.” Told “Fuck you,” a banker calmly replies, “That’s a fair response, I suppose.” Free market talk conceals an “anything goes mentality”. “The rich still get richer and the poor get poorer.” Stancroft justifies his misdeeds with a social Darwinist outlook. “That’s the free trade system, my friend,” he says. “That’s capitalism.” “There’s not a person on this earth who’s worth over a hundred million dollars that came by that money honestly.” The film also evinces a naive sympathy for the homeless, juxtaposing their plight with the ease of the leisure class.

1. Pro-vigilante. Baxford is his own law, but also a people’s fury, and wears an Anonymous-reminiscent white mask for the final killing spree.

yourenextposter

Inexplicably neglected since 2011, with no wide release until now, You’re Next is not only one of the finest film surprises of 2013, but one of the greatest slasher movies ever made. Affectionately versed in its 80s genre heritage, Adam Wingard’s film is a combination slasher and downbeat, darkly comedic family melodrama, almost as if Noah Baumbach had decided to direct a horror movie.

Middle-aged couple Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) are celebrating their wedding anniversary, for which occasion their grown children and their significant others are gathering for a celebration at their country house. Before very long, old sibling rivalries and resentments resurface, both to the family’s chagrin and the audience’s delight; but the funny display of dysfunction at dinner is disrupted when an arrow flies through a window, lodging itself in one guest’s head, and the group realizes that the house is being attacked by an unknown entity or entities. What follows is a Straw Dogs-style siege, a tour de force of storytelling, creative suspense, and invested work from an excellent cast led by Sharni Vinson as Australian heroine Erin.

You’re Next has clearly been crafted with love by people devoted to the genre, and nearly everything in the film is perfect. From delicious moments of tension to elegant use of slow motion, unexpected bits of humor, the obligatory final girl structure, and the reverent casting of genre favorite Barbara Crampton as Aubrey, this is a film by and for those who appreciate the 80s horror inheritance. The experience is further intensified by a supremely effective soundtrack of gothic noise and energizing and inhuman electronica courtesy of scorers Mads Heldtberg, Jasper Justice Lee, and Kyle McKinnon. Director Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are also collaborators on The Guest, a film presently in production, so one can only hope for more morbid magic from that one whenever it gets its release.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that You’re Next is a horror which, in the grand old slasher tradition, has a pronounced sense of morality, and also indicates that it is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

11. Anti-drug. Vicodin abuse is a sure invitation to victimhood in a slasher film.

10. Anti-police. A police officer, arriving on the scene of the horror too late, gets the wrong idea of the situation in the house and makes what the audience can only view as a fatally tragic error.

9. Anti-miscegenation and anti-Arab. One of the young women is involved with a quiet (or is that aloof? – and presumably somewhat pretentious) “underground” documentary filmmaker named Tariq (Ti West), whose name (“to reek”) suggests offending armpits. These miscegenators are among the first to die. It is worthy of note, however, that this minor character seems to have been designed so as to contradict stereotypical depictions of Arabs (cf. no. 7).

8. Anti-Christian. Paul and Aubrey’s faith is formal and superficial and not shared by the younger set, who give evidence of their contempt as prayer is said at dinner.

7. Immigration-ambivalent. Erin, of tough, self-reliant Australian stock, is the sort of immigrant that the country arguably needs. Tariq’s death is undignified and will not be mourned by the audience (cf. no. 9).

6. Anti-state. The resourceful Erin, the audience learns, was raised by an extremist survivalist father in the Australian outback. Though she is somewhat embarrassed by her past, her father’s doomsday scenario teachings definitely come in handy (see also nos. 3 and 10).

5. Anti-slut. In the film’s opening scene, a couple has what is obviously loveless sex. The shameless woman then gets up and goes to a window without even bothering to cover up her semi-nudity. Naturally, this wanton specimen is the first to die. Goth girl Zee (Wendy Glenn) is a far worse degenerate and demands to have sex next to her boyfriend’s mother’s corpse.

4. Anti-weenie. Generation X/Y men are worthless and incapable of defending themselves.  Drake (Joe Swanberg) is a spoiled brat and philistine, and one senses that devious brothers Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and Crispian (AJ Bowen), apart from being motivated by the fortune they stand to gain (see no. 2), are haunted by a sense of having been insufficiently nurtured as children. Both devoid of anything resembling a work ethic, neither man has the taste for doing his own dirty work. Crispian is a struggling writer who fails to meet with his father’s approval and has probably grown a beard partly to cover up his pudgy features, but also so as to seem to be more of a man, which may also explain his lame tattoo (cf. no. 1). The relativistic hypocrisy of the neutered liberal American male is also spotlighted when Crispian, after having his family slaughtered, actually claims to be a pacifist. (For more on Generation X/Y, see Creep Van)

3. Antiwar. Just as, in the years during and after the Vietnam war, movies exploited the phenomenon of psychologically scarred and dehumanized veterans taking the terror of foreign conflict back to the streets of America in Motor Psycho, Forced Entry, Rolling Thunder, First Blood, Combat Shock, and others in this vein, a wave of films including recent entries Savages, Jack Reacher, and You’re Next has emerged to continue this simultaneously salacious and critical tradition. In You’re Next, a team of coldblooded mercenaries, probably veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan, have been hired to exterminate most of the family for the father’s fortune. Mild-mannered “fascist” Paul, who acquired his wealth as a public relations shill for a defense contractor, has surely guaranteed for himself a painful demise in the unforgiving moral universe of You’re Next.

2. Anti-family/anti-marriage. A wedding anniversary is the occasion of a massacre. Parents Paul and Aubrey are self-absorbed, faintly distant, and perhaps inconsistently affectionate with their children. Felix, along with girlfriend Zee and brother Crispian, plot murder against their parents and brother Drake. The man murdered in the film’s opening scene has, it is later revealed, left his wife for a college girl.

1. Feminist. Erin is forced to lead the home defense and proves to be quite the adept at forging makeshift MacGyver-style weaponry. Of interest is that she uses kitchen wares, the trappings of traditional woman’s work, for violent self-assertion (cf. Vile). Also interesting, though, is that Erin makes a kitchen blunder that might, were she not the final girl, actually have cost her her life. Imagining she has flung boiling water on adversary Felix, she forgets that she earlier turned off the heat. “The water’s not even hot, you dumb bitch,” Felix tells her. Erin, however, quickly recovers and handily dispatches this sexist swine (with his insensitive expectation that women ought to know how to cook) with a triumph of poetic justice, taking advantage of a blender’s exposed mechanism to give him a gruesome homemade lobotomy. Zee, in a parallel characterization, is more ambitiously wicked and assertive in her villainy than wimpy co-conspirator Felix.

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