Archives for posts with tag: conservatism

10_cloverfield_lane

Nasty woman Mary Elizabeth Winstead wakes up chained to a cot in survivalist John Goodman’s basement in 10 Cloverfield Lane, a genre-bending experience in the tradition of Cabin in the Woods (2012) and The Signal (2014). Is Winstead, recalling Misery (1990), the prisoner of an obsessive loser who intends to possess her sexually – or is Goodman telling the truth when he claims that he only intends to keep her alive and that the world outside is uninhabitable, that everyone she knows and loves is dead, and that civilization has collapsed after a catastrophic apocalypse? Is it the Russians? The Martians? Or is it just a tall tale to dissuade his uncooperative guest from attempting to escape? Finding out is as frightening and fun as being held captive in John Goodman’s basement!

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 10 Cloverfield Lane is:

4. Alt-media-ambivalent. Goodman is “like a black belt in conspiracy theory”, a mixed bag of a man simultaneously tuned-in and misled as to a number of topics. The fact that, in addition to aliens and Russkies, he is also concerned about “Al Qaeda” seems to suggest that the film is condescendingly and disingenuously conflating neoconservative outlets and various conspiracy-oriented media of varying quality.

3. Anti-redneck. Goodman’s character represents a typical cosmopolitan millennial’s idea of a conservative Republican: a slovenly gun nut, “authoritarian personality”, and “no touching” prude scared of Martians and the prospect of a real-life Red Dawn scenario. He is stuck in a vanished American past, as evidenced by his Frankie Avalon records and VHS collection. The fact that major elements of his assertions turn out to be correct prompts the deliciously implied question at the heart of the film. Which would be more horrifying for a millennial woman – the prospect of an alien invasion that razes everything and everyone she knows, or the possibility that, for all of these years, those hateful, judgmental, beer-bellied, rifle-toting, misogynistic deplorables were right?

2. Disaster-alarmist. Turning viewer expectations upside-down, Goodman’s conspiracy-theory-fueled survivalism comes in handy when the shit really hits the fan. Rather than rejecting extreme preparedness outright, the movie suggests that liberals, rather than pointing and laughing at the conservatives, ought to appropriate such foresight and associated skill sets for themselves. The idea that fashion design could become a survival skill in a post-apocalyptic landscape is no doubt highly appealing to a number of young women and homosexuals with tacky, clashing heaps of student loan debt in the closet.

1. Feminist/anti-family. Goodman presents a negative patriarchal archetype (“I want us to be a happy family.”). Winstead also recounts a traumatic memory of seeing a man cruelly pulling his daughter by the arm and hitting her. Perhaps under the influence of such impressions of family life, she rejects the possibility of reuniting with her boyfriend in order to strike out on her own as a superheroine and save the planet – a choice about which the director, Dan Trachtenberg, expresses a cuckolded you-go-girl enthusiasm in his audio commentary.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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road-to-the-well

Laurence Fuller plays a frustrated beta male desk jockey, Frank, who discovers that his girlfriend has been having an affair with his boss. Serendipitously, an old friend of his, handsome drifter Jack (Micah Parker), breezes into town and convinces his buddy to meet him for a few drinks at a night spot, where he also goads Frank to approach a woman (Rosalie McIntire) who catches his eye at the bar. From here, Frank’s life takes a left turn down a darker avenue than he ever knew existed, with Road to the Well developing into a fantastic, albeit eccentric, little thriller sustained by painful tensions and moments of unexpected strangeness. Only one superfluous scene broadly and condescendingly characterizing conservatives as “bigoted trash” taints what is otherwise a recommendable film, and writer-director Jon Cvack is to be commended. Barak Hardley is also worthy of mention for his portrayal of spoiled millennial man-child Chris, while Marshall Teague, glaring out of the screen from the other end of the masculinity spectrum, is also highly effective. For those interested, Road to the Well was recently released on DVD and VOD.

Four-and-a-half out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Road to the Well is:

8. Anti-capitalistic, with prostitution furnishing the film’s model of free enterprise. Undignified Frank continues to work for his company (in order to “build a cushion,” he says) even after learning his boss has cuckolded him. He despises his erstwhile friend Chris, however, as a “hoity-toity yuppie” – but it is possible also to read the envy hiding behind Frank’s feigned contempt for Chris’s material security. Jack is utterly dismissive of regular employment, and encourages Frank to call in sick. “I don’t work anymore,” he says.

7. Anti-war. An implicit parallelism emerges during a scene between a murderer and a military man. One character understands something about the other’s experience.

6. Judgmentally anti-slut. The wages of sin is death!

5. Pro-gay. A corny anecdote is told about a homosexual adolescent who shot himself after being bullied. A homophobic redneck landlord who makes light of his own son’s participation in the bullying is intended to represent the low standard of sophistication prevailing among opponents of sodomy. Frank’s exaggerated reaction to this insensitivity is, one assumes, meant to establish his character’s moral credentials.

4. Manospherean. Frank, over the course of the film, is taught by his experiences to man up and assert himself. “Everything is fine as long as you got some money and a nice piece of pussy” is Jack’s philosophy.

3. Anti-Christian. A chaplain (Teague) has lost his faith and become suicidal. “My faith? What the hell is that?”

2. Anti-marriage. “It’s like marriage is this weird construct we’ve made up for ourselves and handed down from generation to generation,” moans Chris, who is soon to be married. “It’s meaningless, right?” A committed relationship is “not exciting”.

1. Antinatalist. “It’s like they’re these tiny little animals and I’m responsible for ‘em,” Chris frets, imagining the prospect of fatherhood. “If I don’t change their diaper, then they just, what, sit in their shit all day? Or, like, if you touch their fontanelle, you’re like, touching their brain, and you got a dead baby. […] No thank you.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Paul Morrissey

Paul Morrissey

Mention Paul Morrissey and movies about transvestites, heroin addicts, and other varieties of lowlife are likely to come to mind; but the director of such films as Flesh (1968) and Heat (1972) holds very different views than one might assume from a first impression of these films and from his professional association with Andy Warhol. “Staunchly conservative, Morrissey still frowns upon the moral and artistic state of America today,” writes Steve Ryfle, who interviewed the filmmaker in 2000. Rather, Morrissey’s vintage films reflect his view that “modern American life was going down the toilet.”1 David Bahr of The New York Times writes:

Paul Morrissey disdains rock music, abhors recreational drugs and thinks even less of liberal politics. When asked his views on sex, he pauses for a moment, looks his inquisitor in the eye and says: “I’m Catholic. I’m with Rome 100 percent.”

Such sentiments may seem surprising coming from a director whose films luxuriate in the libertine lives of heroin users, masturbating transvestites and polymorphous-perverse male prostitutes. Yet Mr. Morrissey – who from 1966 to 1972 directed more than half a dozen movies produced by Andy Warhol, discovered the avant-garde rock band the Velvet Underground and once saw a court label his work “obscene, vulgar and profane” – believes he’s misunderstood, to say nothing of misrepresented.2

Morrissey situates his work outside the counterculture and characterizes it instead as his disapproving reaction to the general collapse of morality as it occurred around him:

There’s something I realized years later, after I had made all the films, although I probably realized it at the time even though I wasn’t conscious of it. At that time, there was this idea that was just coming in – the media was just getting hold of it, and the music world was just screaming its lungs out about how great it was – saying you could do whatever you want. That was really idiotic, and stupid and foolish and silly, unbelievably stupid.

People, by the late sixties, were doing whatever they felt like, and nobody gave a damn.

“I understood that these people were good story material, good subjects to show where life had gotten to, and how pathetic it was,” Morrissey explains.3 Blood for Dracula (1974), for instance, imagines a future-shocked traditionalist vampire (Udo Kier) who despairs of finding virgin blood to drink in the sexually free and easy 1970s, while Trash (1970) depicts the boredom of heroin dependency. “So much of the culture glamorized drugs at the time,” remarks frequent Morrissey leading man Joe Dallesandro. “Paul wanted to show the seedier side, where it all led to.”4 Women in Revolt (1972), which utilizes a cast of transvestites for satirical purposes, mocks the increasingly noisy and confrontational feminist movement of the day. “I thought it would be funny if they were playing women who were converted to lesbianism by the women’s lib movement,” Morrissey says. “The whole women’s thing was so ridiculous. ‘We don’t need men,’ and all that.”5

The director envisioned his Madame Wang’s (1981) as a satire of nonexistent American values and the decline of Western Civilization:

The huge Masonic Temple was a Greek temple, it represented past culture, and it was abandoned and lived in by derelict female impersonators. That was my take on Americans, especially Southern California Americans. They couldn’t care less about anything, except maybe getting up in drag or doing a punk rock show and screaming and throwing themselves on the floor. And the poor Russian agent comes from East Germany and says, “I’ve got to meet Jane Fonda, we’re taking over this country one day, and we have to have all of our operatives in place and I’m one of them.” And everyone says, “great, so what?”6

Morrissey gives the following explication of his comedy flop Spike of Bensonhurst (1988), in which his “pain in the ass” protagonist (Sasha Mitchell) “treats everybody like dirt, and does whatever he wants”:

The little switcheroo, which I thought was the point of the story, was that finally when someone disciplines him it turns out to be the best thing that happens to him. The idea that there are some standards and a sense of order in the world somewhere […]7

Like so many avowed conservatives in American politics, however, Morrissey’s work reveals his complicity in the projects of the culture destroyers even as he professes traditionalism. The mundane drugs-and-drag depravity of his classic oeuvre, while successfully illustrating the emptiness of the revolutions in sexuality and consciousness that had been engineered during the 1960s, also serves to normalize the ascendant dysfunction.

“Life is so second rate now,” Morrissey assesses.

And that idea that life has degenerated to a second rate position was part of the story to all those movies. I still don’t see that as a story element in any other movies – the obvious fact that life today is so much poorer than it was before. And I don’t think you can tell that story unless you’re aware that there’s a difference now. Most people don’t even know there’s a difference between today and before.8

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Endnotes

  1. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  2. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  3. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  4. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  5. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 20.
  6. Ibid., p. 21.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p. 19.

Street Wars

Originally a two-part episode of the TV series True Justice, this ersatz “movie” has over-the-hill kicker Steven Seagal playing the chief of a special sheriff’s task force in the Seattle area. He becomes concerned when clueless clubbers start dropping like flies from a new drug making the rounds of the local rave scene. (Indicative of the depressingly meager budget of Street Wars is the fact that the psychedelic effect of the drug is conveyed by choppy editing, strobe lights, and a close-up of a water bottle being shaken.) “This is gettin’ bad, man. This is gettin’ bad. We gotta do somethin’,” the enlightened law enforcer decides. The investigation will lead his team into a tangle of mob hits and federal corruption, none of it particularly interesting.

Seagal, sporting a plastic Dracula ‘do and a few extra pounds around the midsection, characteristically whispers his way through police procedural gobbledygook and action epilepsy shot nearly entirely in gimmicky ADHD jerkvision to disorient the viewer and try to shock life into this video corpse. Speed-up/slow-down annoyance, generous expenditures of ammunition, and quick cuts (to distract from Seagal’s relative lack of mobility) were never so boring. Ever. The bleak non-entertainment that is Street Wars is probably best summed up by one of the hefty, greasy-faced hero’s lines of dialogue: “I mean, you gotta be kidding me, man. I ain’t got time for this.”

1.5 out of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Street Wars, in addition to sucking, sends mixed political signals and that it is:

9. Sexist! Workplace flirtation (i.e., verbal RAPE) goes unprogressively unpunished.

8. Pro-wigger. Seagal is given to occasional black affectations, calling people “y’all” and saying things like, “We ain’t suppose to be babysittas.”

7. Pro-family. “If I could turn back the hands of time,” Seagal says, “I’d spend a lot more time with my wife and kids.”

6. State-ambivalent. Street Wars accepts the validity of the War on Drugs, but depicts the DEA as corrupt and favors local law enforcement as more effective, honest, and caring. “If you think you’re going to make the government care about these [impoverished] people, you’re crazy,” Juliet (Meghan Ory) says, presumably with reference to the federal government. A visit to the site of Camp Harmony, part of Uncle Sam’s system of WWII Japanese internment camps, resurrects the specter of a belligerent, racist, authoritarian state. Later, when a conflict arises between federal law and the needs of the Seattle task force’s investigation, Sarah (Sarah Lind) asks, “You know this violates half a dozen federal laws?” “Rules went out the window when they tried to kill Gates, right?” Juliet bristles. “I hate to rationalize breaking the rules,” Sarah replies, “but, yeah, you’re right.”

5. Diversity-skeptical. Seattle is racially and politically polarized. “These people, the good and the bad,” says filmmaker Savon (Byron Chan), “are products of the environment that the government created.” “But do you understand that none of this is interesting to people like me?” Juliet sasses back. “And if your audience doesn’t consist of us young white Republicans, uh, you’re not really gonna get the advertisers, right?” Savon objects, saying, “An investigative piece is made as food for the brain – not for advertisers’ dollars”, to which Juliet snaps, “Yeah, well, I guess my brain just doesn’t, uh, eat what your restaurant is serving.” (see also nos. 1 and 3)

4. Anti-slut/anti-miscegenation. A ditzy hedonist (Annette Tolar) lets a black thug (Matt Ward) stuff dope in her mouth. “One of these and your whole world will change,” he says as he removes his pooplike finger from her lips. The pair dances briefly until she collapses, foams at the mouth, and dies. Street Wars would seem to be more tolerant of white guy/Asian girl hook-ups, however. “It’s so sexy when you get all technical like that,” Gates (Kyle Cassie) tells Sparks (Elizabeth Thai).

3. Conservative. Street Wars features a caricature of a left-libertarian social justice weenie in the annoyingly named Savon, a documentarian making a propagandistic film about the homeless with the cooperation of local authorities. Savon, an Asian nerd with a pretentious British accent, is convinced that a legacy of government oppression of minorities and the poor is to blame for society’s woes. Tough cookie Juliet identifies as a Republican.

2. Anti-drug. Few will envy the brain swelling, dementia, convulsions, and death.

1. Racist! Seagal’s black lackey (William “Big Sleeps” Stewart) calls him “Boss”. “Did you see that?” Sarah asks after Seagal has subdued a mulatto culprit on the run. “That was like trying to corral a monkey on crack!”

 

 

Buckley

Master of conservative English prose, William F. Buckley, Jr.*

Conservative bloggers frequently will invoke “culture” and “civilization” in the midst of griping about the ravages being done to the West by the Left and the teeming hordes of the Untermenschen. Unfortunately, too many of these putative traditionalists express their arguments in such a slipshod fashion as to make only too painfully obvious in what base regard they actually hold their much-vaunted culture and civilization. Could any component be more central to a culture than the language in which its standard-bearers speak and write the books and laws that fix and transmit its essence from one generation to the next?

Why, then, do the writers for Stuff Black People Don’t Like and the Daily Kenn, men who perform a valuable service by making much neglected information available to order-oriented citizens, issue their thoughts in such disorderly sentences, demonstrating so little care for craft and for proofreading, a true mark of a writer’s respect for the culture and civilization he both expresses and hopefully bolsters with each of his public formulations? These two gentlemen, however, are hardly alone in a negligence that is particularly puzzling among those who worry that government-orchestrated Reconquista threatens to overrun and uproot America’s English-speaking heritage.

Conservatives already must bear the brunt of a popular impression, fostered largely by academia and a radical media consensus, and particularly current among the flippant Daily Show cohort, that they are brutish, intellectually backward, and so woefully incapable of matching or even understanding the subtle revolutions of the leftist thought collective. This being the case, it becomes the special responsibility of the rightist voice of dissent to express itself as carefully and purposefully as possible. As liberty-minded citizenship requires constant vigilance, so does the conservation of the European cultural inheritance necessitate a compositional discipline sadly lacking as one surveys the rakish-right blogosphere of today.

* UPDATE. After publishing this post with accompanying picture of William F. Buckley, a friend of your humble reviewer sent him this link to an unfavorable profile of Chairman Bill, presumably with the intention of chiding your humble reviewer for his poor choice of exemplars of “conservative English prose”:
http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/bill_buckley128.html

To clarify, Ideological Content Analysis, being in sympathy with political incorrectness, with libertarianism, and with race realism, does not endorse the policy positions of Mr. Buckley, which tended in what came to be known as the neoconservative direction. Your humble reviewer does, however, feel that, at least in terms of his presentation, gravitas, and eloquent calculation of expression, he is the breed of charismatic figure conservatism arguably needs at this point.

Buckley, his shortcomings notwithstanding, was as charming a figure as any who ever appeared on television. It is the position of Ideological Content Analysis that even the ragged, self-consciously alternative Right ought to aspire to Buckley’s combination of catchiness and dignity of image. Admittedly, Buckley is a somewhat sinister illustration of how even previously exotic movements of ideas can attain popular currency through exceptional public relations – which is precisely why, at least with an eye to the superficial aspects of the Chairman Bill persona, the marginalized Right might benefit from emulating him.

Viking Saga

Roving bands of foreigners ravage a seemingly helpless Britain, pillaging, raping its women, and humiliating or liquidating its men. No, this is not Woolwich in May of 2013, but the eighth century, when Norsemen subjected the island to terror even more frightening, at least in its immediate consequences, than that presented by the swarms of uncivilized welfare rats presently infesting jolly old England. Today the invaders are Third World rubbish of the British government’s own invitation, but during the Middle Ages an enemy threatened civilizational cataclysm by military means. Fortunately, back in those distant days, there were Englishmen sufficiently concerned with national survival to resist and struggle for the preservation of their culture.

The awkwardly titled A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day follows monk Hereward (Marc Pickering) as he makes his perilous way, attempting to elude the Vikings and get the Holy Book of Lindisfarne, a relic of great national and spiritual significance, to safekeeping at a northern monastery. During his journey Hereward is joined by the warrior Aethelwulf (Mark Lewis Jones) and Pictish woman Eara (Elen Rhys), who both have things to teach him about his responsibilities to his faith and his people.

The lead performances in this historical allegory, particularly Pickering’s, are passionate; and the mist-shrouded Welsh landscape, in combination with a constant sense of urgency and doom, contribute to A Viking Saga‘s air of earnestness of purpose. The artificial dialogue, always a challenge in bringing to life such a distant period, may strike some viewers as unnatural, and the film does show its budgetary limitations in the paltry smattering of actors purporting to represent a devastating Norse invasion force; but A Viking Saga is, on the whole, a better and more engrossing film than might be expected from its unfortunate title.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day is:

10. Mildly feminist. Eara gets revenge for a rape and helps win the day.

9. Traditionalist/pro-family. “My people have used the land’s gifts for a thousand years,” Eara says. “My mother taught me as her mother taught her.”

8. Drug-ambivalent. A psychoactive plant causes Hereward to have frightening hallucinations, but this also results in his having a spiritually instructive vision.

7. Anti-capitalistic/anti-NWO. The invasion started with coastal trading, an allusion to capitalism and possibly also to the EU as sources of Britain’s degradation and loss of sovereignty.

6. Populist. “The church has seen to grow rich and fat while the country starves. Monks hold little respect in the wilds.”

5. Antiwar. The Vikings’ invasion, like so many wars, is motivated by gold and dreams of empire.

4. Conservative. Pathetic, pale-faced, defeatist victims of plunder, plague, and famine actually suffer from a mental disorder: self-loathing liberalism. “We must embrace the death He brings so we may sit at His side in paradise,” one of these medieval progressives explains.

3. Xenophobic and anti-immigration. A quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles at the film’s outset reads, “The heathens trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.”  Black clouds are said to have brought this human pestilence. Alcuin of York “was victorious over the darkness of his time. We shall be victorious over the darkness that threatens to engulf our time.” (Italics added)  Unfortunately, trends today in the UK and Europe, with Islam the continent’s fastest-growing religion and soon to be the dominant faith in Britain, indicate that these storm clouds of the present will not be so handily dissipated.

2. Militantly Christian. A Viking Saga opens with naked monks, beaten and humiliated by Vikings, cringing, crying, and imploring God on a beach after being kicked out of their monastery. These are flabby, undignified men, unsuited to the task of protecting the faith. (“We have seen the bravery of the Saxons here. Men who would stain their church with the stench of their own piss rather than fight.”) “There are many ways to serve Christ, boy,” Aethelwulf tells Hereward. Lifting his sword, he asks, “Does it not resemble the cross?” “Become my wrath,” Christ (Gerald Tyler) says in a vision.

1. Nationalistic. “The book isn’t everything.” The violent defense of the island and nation comes even before Christ’s teachings. “Without their book, this nation would fall,” a Viking leader observes. The perpetuation of Christianity, then, is but a means to the survival of a tribal and racial identity. “The people of England are as precious as the Word.” Jesus is more than once called the “white Christ”.

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