Archives for posts with tag: inclusive

Teen Spirit

Teen Spirit might be a fantastic movie; but, not belonging to the target demographic of teenage girls, I really have no idea and I don’t especially want to know. From my perspective as an irrelevant, middle-aged man, this is a pretty drab attempt at giving a new generation its Flashdance – a cultural touchstone referenced briefly in Teen Spirit. Elle Fanning does nothing to endear herself to this reviewer with her sullen, uncharismatic performance as Violet Valenski, a Polish girl who longs to escape humdrum farm life on the Isle of Wight by winning a singing contest. Supporting player Zlatko Buric is Teen Spirit’s sole saving grace as a washed-up Croatian opera singer and alcoholic, Vlad, who becomes Violet’s voice coach and manager. I suspected the movie was about to become fun and interesting when Vlad takes a shine to Violet’s stubborn mother (Agnieszka Grochowska) and tries to court her; but, alas, this little thread is abandoned in favor of several instantly forgettable Katy Perry tier synthesized musical numbers and brainless teenage drama.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Teen Spirit is:

Anti-Christian. Singing in a choir is boring for Violet, who wants to be the next Gwen Stefani. Her mother gives her a crucifix that belonged to her father, warning that she is unsure whether it brings good or bad luck. Violet, who finally decides to remove it, must come to the conclusion that Jesus is fake news.

Inclusive. Whites, blacks, and mystery meats intermingle freely, and Violet recruits a rock band of odd-looking black youngsters to tour with her.

Disingenuously pro-Slav. In contrast to the villains and prostitutes typically presented by Hollywood as representative Eastern Europeans, Teen Spirit offers Slavs a path to redemption by immigrating to Western Europe and becoming global citizens – in effect, ceasing to be themselves and reproduce their own cultures. Violet does, however, at least appear to stay true to her roots in that the ugly outfit she wears for her climactic performance seems to have been a designer’s botched attempt to glamorize an Adidas tracksuit.

Globalist. The arbitrary choice of the Isle of Wight as a setting appears to have no serious purpose, apart from promoting placelessness, as Teen Spirit might just as well have been set in any other region of the neoliberal West. Like every other such locale, no matter how remote or ancient, it exists as an interchangeable piece of real estate merely waiting to be populated with increasing quantities of diversity. The island ultimately validates its existence by integrating its cultural life with glitzy globohomogeneity. Teen Spirit’s end credits roll to Elle Fanning singing “Wildflowers”, the lyrics of which celebrate lost innocence and cosmopolitan triumphalism: “Every city was our city. Every road was our road.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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

Monster Trucks

Somewhat surprisingly, given that this is a Cuckelodeon production, Monster Trucks is a mostly child-friendly and fun adventure film. Distractingly cute young costars Lucas Till and Jane Levy star as high school students who find themselves caught in the middle of a corporate conspiracy when they discover a tentacled, subterranean creature that lives on oil (a literal gas-guzzler!) and enjoys embedding itself under the body of a truck like a hermit crab. Rob Lowe appears as the head of the nihilistic oil company that, through unscrupulous drilling practices, has inadvertently brought these creatures to the surface and now seeks to apprehend them, with Thomas Lennon toadying in a comic supporting role. The film is endearing, the digital animation is brilliant, and even adults should be entertained by this one.

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

5. Inclusive, allowing diverse token gimp Danny Glover to take part in the heroics.

4. Class-conscious. The male protagonist’s chief rival at school is a “rich boy” with fancy wheels.

3. Family-ambivalent. The hero’s absentee father is an untrustworthy drunkard, but the troubled young man’s reconciliation with his mother’s rugged beau does at least leave him with a responsible male authority figure at home. The teen male and female leads join hands as they witness the touching reunion of a monster family, the implication being that they will be inspired to marry and start a family of their own.

2. Anti-corporate. Townsfolk, while recognizing that their small community’s economy is dependent upon Terravex’s presence (“All the money in this town comes from Terravex Oil”), also resent the inordinate and quasi-governmental clout that the company wields. “The company I work for employs everyone in this town – and that includes you,” a corporate representative arrogantly informs the sheriff. Company scientist Thomas Lennon also admits to falsifying environmental reports. (Subverting the anti-corporate messaging, however, is the film’s product placement for brands like Beanitos and Chrysler).

1.Green. The problems begin with a sin against nature – “like the earth got mad and let something bad out”. Had Terravex – which, as its name indicates, molests the earth – taken more care not to disturb an unfamiliar and misunderstood ecosystem, it could have avoided its hour and a half of difficulties. Somewhat disappointingly, it seems not to have occurred to the writers what a godsend the existence of oil-gobbling monsters would be in the case of an oil spill. More likely, an oil concern would want to keep such potentially useful creatures on retainer rather than try to destroy them. There is, too, something not quite kosher from an environmentalist perspective about the idea of turning America’s gas habit, visualized by the creatures’ appetite for oil, into something cute, cuddly, and endearing, albeit cartoonishly monstrous.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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