So a piece of shit showed up to speak at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, home to The Fest, No Idea Records, visionaries like Bill Bryson, Professor Anthony Oliver-Smith, heavy hitting journalism profs like Mike Foley,and too many professional hippies and punk kids to mention. Gainesville gave us Scott Camil, Harry Crews, Justin Taylor, Against Me!, and Four Squirrels. It boasts a prairie where alligators, wild horses, hikers, and bison co-exist. When De Soto showed up in Gainesville, the people he encountered spent an entire night in the middle of a lake standing on each others’ shoulders to take turns shooting arrows at his men. When Andrew Jackson led an expedition south to kill the same people, he had to stop somewhere around Gainesville because his soldiers could not handle the swamp and started offing themselves.
How did that work out for this yahoo? Well, the scumbag got drowned out by what the former dean of UF’s j-school and all around great guy William McKeen once called “the cacophony of democracy.” Sometimes good speech does push out bad speech. Or, as one of our favorite media law attorneys recently put it, “the cost of free speech is its unconsidered consumption.” Make your media consumption count.
Others Will Followis a well produced s.f. short film by Andrew Finch that is well worth nine minutes of your life. It is the inspirational sister short to a music video produced by one of our more talented members roughly one year ago.
Others Will Follow was inspired by this speech, written for Nixon to deliver if the men aboard Apollo 11 were stranded on the moon. Written by Bill Safire, the speech is dated July 18, 1969 and titled: IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER. We took an office poll, and we agree that Stanislaw Lem should have been consulted, but the speech does include helpful stage directions such as “PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT: The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.” (emphasis added). Safire also suggested that “[a] clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to ‘the deepest of the deep,’ concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.” Sounds deep huh?
Safire worked as a PR executive from 1955 to 1960, which reminds us of the line HST wrote while covering the ’72 election and particularly the McGovern campaign against Nixon: “The assholes who run politics in this country have become so mesmerized by the Madison Avenue school of campaigning that they actually believe, now, that all it takes to become a Congressman or a Senator–or even a President–is a nice set of teeth, a big wad of money, and a half-dozen Media Specialists.” Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 56-57 (Simon & Schuster 2012) (1973). Guess what Hunter? They do not even need nice teeth anymore. Others have followed.
Safire, we should note, later distinguished himself as an actual journalist, and wrote a column for the New York Times in an “exercise in restrained fury” upon learning that Nixon had authorized the FBI to wiretap “the home telephones of 17 men–four newsmen and 13 Government officials–to find out why classified information had appeared in the press and to prevent future leaks.” William Safire, The Suspicious 17, N.Y. Times, Aug. 9, 1973. If Safire wrote this essay in “restrained fury,” we would love to see his screenplays. Our favorite passage almost reads like HST:
For myself, I cannot go along with this fraternal silence of the suspicious 17. I did not knock myself loose for Mr. Nixon in 1959 and 1960, and then cast my lot with him through the long, arid comeback years of 1965 through 1968, to have him–or some lizard-lidded paranoid acting in his name without his approval–eavesdropping on my conversations.
Id. Both HST and Safire sound quaint in their then scathing appraisals of political SOP. Seventeen whole people huh? Home phone lines tapped eh? Sounds terrible.
Safire ended his column with a furious but restrained question aimed at Nixon: “Does the President realize that there are tapes and transcripts of his own conversations with aides no in the files of the F.B.I. out of his control, taken years before he began taping himself?” Id. Yes, he probably did, but he probably did not care. As Nixon told David Frost, “[w]hen the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” We have some attorneys on our membership rolls, and we have been advised that is not strictly accurate. It still took roughly fifty years for strong evidence to surface supporting the long suspected fact that Nixon fucking sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to end the conflict in Vietnamsolely to help Nixon’s campaign efforts. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of god, we read that somewhere, but some fall a little shorter than others.
As stated above, Others Will Follow is a hopeful version of what one of our members might have produced if she was not, well, one of us. Her music video for Overlord’s track Mission to Mars tells the story of an astronaut purposefully taking a one-way trip to the red planet. It is inspirational in its own way.
The footage of Mars appearing in the music video below was, incredibly, shot without any special effects at a red rock quarry in Pennsylvania. Our comrade also, incredibly, got permission to film in a decommissioned naval facility housing a REAL HUMAN CENTRIFUGE. The track is great, and the video just won “Best of the Fest” at the Bucks Fever Film Festival. Look for Mission to Mars at film festivals across the country in the near future. After ranting about Nixon and reading the almost darling outrage of HST and Safire, I almost feel like I am the astronaut in Mission to Mars. How bad did Sam Rockwell have it in Moon?
At just under ten years old, it is safe to say that Moonis a modern classic. One DMS member described it as “Multiplicityin space!” Brilliantly acted by Sam Rockwell, Moon is the low budget, well tempered answer to Event Horizon, which, if you’re in a situation like mine, you have to watch when your partner is out of town because it will cause nightmares.
We had not watched Moon since its 2009 release, and we are pleased to report that it rewards multiple viewings. The main (almost only) characters are Sam Rockwell, who plays a few iterations of the same cloned astronaut/moon miner (conveniently named Sam), and Kevin Spacey, who plays GERTY, a computerized assistant that is one part Kubrick’s HAL 9000, one part Claptrap, and one part GLaDOS. Watching as Sam’s plight unfolds, we could not help making comparisons to The Loneliest Astronauts by Kevin Church and Ming Doyle.
Moon is, however, something entirely different and effortlessly fresh. Plus, you get to see Sam Rockwell’s tight butt and listen to him make such dad jokes as “You’re really full of yourself aren’t you Doug,” while alone and talking to an extremely full plant he’s named Doug.
Without getting too deep into the plot, Sam is Jesus. He is nearing the end of his three-year contract with Lunar Industries under which he works as a miner of Helium-3 on the dark side of the moon. The number 3 appears repeatedly throughout the film, which we believe is a reference to the holy trinity (one of the first sci fi plots known to man). Each of the lunar rovers Sam watches over like a shepherd is named after one of the apostles. It is Matthew, who valued money above all else before meeting that guy Jesus in the New Testament, that ends up causing problems for Sam.
Sam’s little mining outpost provides the Helium-3 that allows the distant residents of Earth to enjoy unlimited green energy. Just as we in the United States benefit from and are therefore complicit in the wars our countries wages as evidenced by the goods we buy, the residents of Earth are all complicit in Sam’s plight. He pays the price for our reckless consumption and greed. Sam also kind of dies and kind of gets resurrected. Just like our boy J. Sam’s daughter’s name is also Eve.
At a pivotal point in the film, Sam Prime figures out what Sam the Original already knows but refuses to accept. Sam Prime refuses to let Sam the Original’s denial continue, but when Sam Prime is yelling “Wake up!” at Sam the Original, he might also be yelling at the audience. We should all be looking for clones hidden under the edifice we and our predecessors have painstakingly constructed. Walter Kovacs knew.
The last line of the film is a radio personality (probably hopped up on OCs) yelling through the froth in his mouth about Sam Prime’s return to Earth. You can likely guess what he called him, but in light of the current scumbag’s two ExecutiveOrders on the subject, we want to highlight that Sam Prime is referred to as an “illegal alien” in the final words of the film. If you have not read the scumbag’s lesser discussed Executive Order, linked above, you should. Section 8 purports to “empower State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer in the interior of the United States to the maximum extent permitted by law.” That is a terrifying and potentially irreversible erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
The attention to detail throughout the film is subtle and refreshing. For example, the attorney we keep on retainer specializes in trademark law and tells us that the logo for Lunar Industries is a phenomenal trademark.
It is a Sunday afternoon. If you have not seen this movie, watch it right quick. If you have seen it, let it unfold in front of you again. You will not be disappointed.
“[T]rying to use 1984 as a map through the Trump presidency might pose just as many distortions as insights . . . because our efforts and attention might be drawn into an ineffectual resistance against an enemy unlikely to arrive, while the real villain slips in unnoticed in his place. What’s required, then, is a close reading of 1984 to see where it fits and diverges from what’s happened so far . . . .”
Searle’s close reading is something we should think about carefully. Please click on the link to his blog above and read his thoughts.
The new live action Ghost in the Shell is out March 31. We will try to get a preview for you ahead of time, but regardless of whether it is a spiritual successor or just eye candy, we are dying to see it.
Why do we always have to wait for the Super Bowl to end before decent content is released?
After lying in furtive restlessness for hours the other night, this DMS member slid from underneath the covers, shuffled to the living room, and decided to re-watch the film adaptation of Watchmen. So now we know who watches them. Please tell Alan Moore. Maybe also check out Moore’s latest hit, Providence.
As the media, correctly, churn out articles discussing one of two chilling Executive Orders signed by a scumbag on January 25, 2017, in-depth reviews of the same scumbag’s restructuring of the National Security Council appeared below the fold. Maybe it is the cognitive dissonance inherent in feeling nostalgia for the Bush administrations, but during this viewing of Watchmen, we got a bit closer to understanding Sally Jupiter’s refusal to hold a grudge against Edward Blake, the Comedian. We do not condone the Comedian’s many horrific acts of violence, but evidence is piling up that this life is a terrible joke.
We think the Comedian solidifies his opinion that, as Walter Kovacs repeatedly tells viewers, the end is nigh when Dr. Manhattan watches passively as the Comedian guns down a woman carrying his child in Vietnam.
Since we have copies of the comic books handy, we will quote the Comedian from his original rant directed toward Dr. Manhattan.
“You watched me. You coulda changed the gun into steam or the bullets into mercury or the bottle into snowflakes! You coulda teleported either of us to goddamn Australia[,] but you didn’t lift a finger!” (emphasis in original). Dr. Manhattan, a character with god-like abilities, does not care about humans in the Comedian’s view, and, well, the Comedian saw how terrible humans can be to each other.
In the film, Nixon has ruled with an iron fist for more than a half dozen terms. Democracy is a farce, and the audience is left with a question: Is Adrian the hero, or is it Kovacs? We are reminded of a passage HST wrote while covering the ’92 election:
“Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism—which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place.”
After Nixon died, HST wrote “Richard Nixon was a warrior: He gave no mercy and expected none.
Yet he approved my first White House press pass and never had me busted for the horrible things I wrote about him.”
What would HST write about our current scumbag? He might have written a joke but not the laugh out loud kind.
One of the benefits of being kind to librarians is the occasional advanced proof of a book that feels written just for you. Sometimes, as is the case with Elan Mastai’s wonderful All Our Wrong Todays, these advanced copies even include a short note beginning with “Dear Librarian,” which makes even the Dystopian Movie Society feel intellectual and savvy.
Mastai’s stunning first novel is a break from his day job, writing movies. No wonder we here at the DMS fell in love. The main character, whose name I shall not print here for reasons that will become apparent if and when you purchase and read this book, is kind of a dick. Naturally, we can all relate to him.
The utopia readers see at the start of the book, however, is a prelude to the time travel narrative in which our protagonist becomes the first time-traveler, accidentally creates our reality as a dystopian alternate timeline, discovers the concept of temporal drag, and maybe loses his mind. It is phenomenal. Of the many differences noted between the teased utopia and our own world, my favorite was Kurt Vonnegut.
As the main character tells it, “Vonnegut’s writing is different where I come from. Here, despite his wit and insight, you get the impression he felt a novelist could have no real effect on the world. He was compelled to write, but with little faith that writing might change anything. . . . [I]n my world Vonnegut was considered among the most significant philosophers of the late twentieth century. This was probably great for Vonnegut personally but less so for his novels, which became increasingly homiletic.”
Our favorite character is Melanie, a young black girl growing up in prison. If it is not thought provoking to see a group of heavily armed, mostly white people so terrified of a petite black girl that they keep her in Hannibal Lecter style restraints for most of the movie, then you probably live in South Dakota and think racism is something the Texas School Board of Education includes in children’s history books as a footnote somewhere near the hills of Georgia.
The narrative, and sometimes feel, of this movie draw favorable comparisons to The Last of Us, which finally convinced a lot of parents to throw in the towel and decide that video games might possibly be capable of artistic achievement. Both build on the not implausible idea that a fungus could give humankind a run for its money. We have not put up much of a showing lately, and, as it turns out, fungi have been carrying a lot more weight than we thought. The Girl With All the Gifts also shares some commonalities with one of Warren Ellis’s better recent comics, Trees, which is worth picking up at your local comic book shop.
The pacing is sometimes slow, following Melanie’s still-sharp mind as she attempts to make her way in the only world she has ever known. Rather than detract from the film, it evokes the same feelings this viewer had watching children dancing under sunlight in David Gordon Green’s George Washington. What Melanie realizes is that the “end of the world” just means “the end of humanity as we know it.” Frankly, that might be a welcome development.
As we recall, we have been promised that the world will never again be destroyed by flood. We do not remember any such promise with respect to fungi.
By the way, those zombies are what you look like visiting Times Square. Except the zombies move a lot faster and seem to have a goal in mind.
While there must be close to 1,000 micrograms of nostalgia in each episode of Stranger Things, do not watch it because it triggers all those fuzzies from your childhood. Watch it because it is a fantastic show that ups the bar for content in a world where Two and a Half Men was consistently one of the most watched shows in the United States for more than a decade. Watch it because, much like Olympic Games, it plants ideas. Stranger Things happens to plant positive ideas about gender identity, people with different colored skin, and generally how humans should treat other humans. Unlike Olympic Games, Stranger Things mostly delivers its payload without detection.
With that disclaimer, we will indulge in a bit of nostalgia. If the only thing we know about something is that it is a bit twisted, we sometimes like to consume it in a non-linear fashion. The first episode we watched was the fifth, which we were told was the penultimate episode. Still thinking we had watched the second to last hour, we watched the first episode before watching the surprisingly long (to us) conclusion. Then we went back to the beginning and watched the initial installments sequentially. Consuming media is not something we do for fun, we do it to probe our physical, emotional, and intellectual limitations. In this case, it was like eating dessert first when your parents were not paying attention.
The end, in fact, is in many ways extremely uplifting. One of us found ourselves sobbing because of one character’s flashbacks and his own memories of a younger sibling who was not expected to live. There are a lot of positive messages packed into this narrative. One of the reasons we focus on dystopian films is that by learning more about the way our world works, we hope to avoid the versions of the future (or past) that we see reflected in such films. Is it naive to think that the more we learn about how terrible humans are to each other, the better the world becomes?