Sunday, June 9, 2013

Andrea Ostrov Letania: Neo-Fascist Consideration of MIRACLE MILE(by Steven De Jarnatt) & TREE OF LIFE(by Terrence Malick) Part 1.

This is Part 1 of the Blog Post. For part 2, click here.

According to the preferred narrative in the so-called ‘cinephile’ community, the late 60s and early 70 comprised a landmark period in American filmmaking. Just when the once vital European and Japanese cinemas were waning, American cinema was coming into its own with the dissolution of the old studio system and the rise of personal filmmaking. Though there had always been mavericks in American cinema — consider independent director John Cassavetes and B-movie director Sam Fuller — , the general impression was that of Hollywood churning out popular entertainment and Europeans(and some Japanese) specializing in personal ‘art films’. Throughout the 50s and early 60s, American critics and intellectuals bemoaned of how ‘foreign cinema’ was far ahead of the game in terms of vision, innovation, and experimentation. Though Hollywood was possibly bigger than all of foreign cinemas combined and brought forth tremendous technological innovations, the manner in which the technology was used was thought to be essentially crass or philistine. American films had bigger sets, wider formats, splashier colors, and etc., but they generally lacked the audacity and/or personality of the best of the foreign cinema. Indeed, consider the landmark foreign films of the 1950s and 1960s: I VITELLONI, SEVEN SAMURAI, SAWDUST AND TINSEL, 400 BLOWS, BREATHLESS, L’AVVENTURA, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, JULES AND JIM, THE LEOPARD, LES COUSINS, FIRES ON A PLAIN, PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS, ANDREI RUBLEV, and etc. Though American cinema produced its share of bold and imaginative films in the same period, Europeans and Japanese truly embodied the new spirit of post-war filmmaking up to the mid-60s. In the case of Sergio Leone, some were beginning to ask why an Italian-American who’d never been to the American West — at least until working on ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST — was making more interesting westerns than his American counterparts. (And BONNIE & CLYDE was initially offered to Francois Truffaut, perhaps on the supposition that only a European filmmaker exemplifying the spirt of the age could do something remarkable with the material.) If anything, Americans were trying to emulate and catch up with ‘foreign cinema’, and this mind-set, fawning and even slavish at times(Mike Nichols and Paul Mazursky, only to name a few, worshiped Fellini’s 8½), lingered for some time, even as the fortunes and quality of ‘foreign cinema’ precipitously declined. (It’s like the glory of Rome continued to inspire civilizations even after Roman civilization faded.) Woody Allen carried on with his European-ish films up to the 80s — today, he makes films in Europe. Perhaps, the American director who went neck-and-neck with the European masters was Stanley Kubrick. THE KILLING, PATHS OF GLORY, LOLITA, and DR. STRANGELOVE were as daring and different, as ‘out there’, as anything that came out of Europe. And 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY went even further. Only ANDREI RUBLEV — and perhaps 8 ½, PLAYTIME, PROFOUND DESIRES OF THE GODS, HERE’S YOUR LIFE, MARKETA LAZAROVA, and THE WILD BUNCH — among 60s cinema is comparable in terms of vision and scope. But then, Kubrick had left America, set up shop in the UK, and made all his films beginning with LOLITA across the Atlantic, far from Hollywood(and, to be sure, safely distanced from continental European cinema as well. His relative isolation made him somewhat like Ingmar Bergman, but if Bergman was perhaps wrapped too tight with his neurosis, Kubrick coolly unwound the world around him with an approach that was both leisurely and intense; he worked hard at a slow steady pace; he sold 'no wine before its time'. Perhaps, one crucial difference was Bergman carried considerable traumatic baggage from his childhood whereas Kubrick grew up reasonably happy, pretty much doing as he pleased. Bergman felt hatred for his father whereas Kubrick didn’t. On the other hand, Bergman was of a people, the Swedes, who’d not only managed to avoid the major conflicts of the 20th century but profited handsomely from them, especially WWII. Kubrick was of the Jewish people who suffered one of the great horrors in WWII. But then, the Kubrick, who grew up as a child in NY, was safely distanced from the horrors that were raging across the Atlantic. Bergman lived a peaceful life in Sweden, but, across the Baltic Sea, the world was blowing up, with tens of millions of people perishing in the biggest war in history. Bergman may have felt a double guilt: guilt of having come to hate his father and reject the Faith AND the privileged/pampered guilt of obsessing about his private angst when the world was blowing up not far from Sweden's shores — the guilt was later reflected in films like WINTER LIGHT, SILENCE, PERSONA, and SHAME. Another layer of guilt had to do with his youthful enthusiasm for National Socialism and Hitler; Northern Europeans are funny that way; do you know of any Jew who feels guilty over having associated with communism that destroyed tens of millions of lives? Okay, maybe David Horowitz, but that's about it. Kubrick may have felt somewhat guilty for having enjoyed a mostly carefree and privileged childhood when so many Jews were dying in Europe, but then, his personality wasn't of the guilt-obsessive type. Also, as his father was a doctor, Kubrick had it better than most people even during the Depression. But Jews are not into the guilt-thing as much as Christians are because the Judaic tradition — even among secular Jews — has always been more pragmatic than the idealistic Christian one. Judaism was ritualistically purist but morally ‘diplomatic’ since it had no figure like Jesus who held forth the model/ideal for the Perfection of Man — to be sure, He was also an anti-ideal as His story was about doing in man’s stead what man himself couldn’t do; it would have been presumptuous for a mortal man to emulate Jesus’s perfection; nevertheless, even impossible ideals do inspire, and many Christians secretly longed to be as great as Jesus. Also, the Semitic personality tends to be more wiggly and haggly. Straightforwardness and earnestness are not to be found in the Jewish vocabulary. Northern Europeans are, by nature, a more straightforward and earnest people, more direct than devious. Even when Northern Europeans lie, they are more apt to believe in their own lies since they have this need to believe that they are good people on the side of the truth. When Jews lie, they know they’re lying and enjoy it as a game much like chess. Because of the relative pure-heartedness of Northern Europeans, they must believe that they are good/correct/justified in order to feel well, and therefore, when they tell lies and suspect that they’re telling lies, they must do their utmost to repress their doubts and misgivings since their Northern European mind is only comfortable with the purity of truth. This may explain the sheer madness of Nazism and Swedish Political Correctness. Many Germans surely suspected that Hitler was full of shit, but they didn’t know how to deal with lies, so they did their utmost to simplemindedly believe that Hitler was a great leader on the side of Truth. And many Swedes today must sense on some level that political correctness and multi-culturalism are full of BS, but such realization would force them to admit and face the fact of lies that pervade their lives. But their national character doesn’t allow this. So, they fanatically attempt to suppress and prevent any dissent that gives the lie to their ‘truth’. Jews are different in that they are comfortable with lies, which isn’t to say Jews lie all the time or believe lying is a virtue in and of itself. Instead, Jews have long survived in foreign lands with goy majorities — often hostile toward Jews — by honing the art of lying, and thus, lying became one of their main modes of surviving, subverting, and prospering. Thus, Jews came to see the tactical value of lying, and so, Jews are not uncomfortable with the fact that they are telling lies or may be surrounded by lies. Thus, if a Northern European forces himself or herself into believing that the lie is really the truth, the Jew will play with the lie knowing that it’s a lie but useful as ‘truth-for-dummies’. Thus, if Jews by and large know that all the stuff spewed out by the ADL, SPLC, AIPAC, and ACLU are lies but nevertheless useful to Jews, Northern-European-Americans like Ken Burns and Stephen Colbert really swallow PC bullshit as the holy truth. [Jews tend to win against Northern Europeans because they have different fighting styles. Jews approach the game of power like chess. In chess, you don't make obvious moves. You don't give yourself away. Rather, you make seemingly opaque moves that gradually set up to surround and/or trap the opponent. In chess, all your moves are seen by other side, but your motives and strategy remain hidden. There are also gambits in chess where you make an ostensibly 'bad move' that is intended to set up the opponent. Jews are sometimes direct, feisty, pushy, and aggressive, but that alone wouldn't have made them so formidable. After all, blacks and Italians have been loud and brash too. Jews know when to scream and holler, but they also know when to smile and hold the knife behind their backs. Since one wins in chess by avoiding obvious moves, one has to be conscious of how every move connects with other moves. Thus, even when Jews seem to be acting in a non-hostile manner, they could be setting up the pieces to make way for the killer move. It's like before you push the lever and blow up structure, you have to quietly go set up the explosives in a sneaky manner. Though the pushing of the lever detonates the dynamites, more crucial was the act of positioning the dynamites in the first place. Before Jews make the obvious move of pushing the lever, they make a series of non-obvious moves that sneakily plant the explosives within the goy power structure. When a Jew and a Northern European argues, the latter states his or her case in an obvious and earnest way whereas the Jew is always predicting what the goy may say and what he himself should say to gradually rout the goy. Northern European goy makes an obvious move whereas the Jew is always making moves coordinated with other moves. The only way to win against the Jew is to play the game better, but Jews have the highest intellect. The only other way to win is to blurt out the truth as to the nature of the game. If you can't win in chess, you must speak the truth. You must say, "Jew, you are smarter than me, and that biological fact gives you an unfair advantage over me. Therefore, I won't play this game and use other means to gain my freedom and independence from your ilk." This is why Jews hate and wanna suppress the truth as 'hate speech'. Jennifer Rubin's real reason for going after Jason Richwine was the latter spilled the beans on higher Ashkenazi intelligence. Though American Enterprise Institute once hosted Richwine, there were probably Jews at the organization who tipped Rubin about the troublesome goy and what must be done about him.] And in a way, this was the difference between Kubrick and Bergman. Bergman, as he confessed in FAITHLESS, was a compulsive liar and betrayer, but he was deeply troubled by his own lies and sought some way to either dig himself out of the hole to face the music or dig himself deeper into the hole to hide in shame and silence. Thus, in PERSONA, the woman refuses to talk because all she hears coming out of her mouth are lies, personally and professionally. A character in SAWDUST AND TINSEL recounts a dream where he turned into a small baby and crawled inside his wife’s womb and then vanished into the void — the inability to face the world of endless lies and painful truths, the desire to just dig into the hole and disappear. There’s something about an abortion in PRISON, aka DEVIL’S WANTON, and in WILD STRAWBERRIES the husband says he wishes he hadn’t been born and dreads bringing another child into this world. All of this may sound weird coming from a Swede who grew up in relative privilege in a nation that was spared the ravages and mayhem of World War I, World War II, Nazism, and Communism, but it was rather typical of Northern European neurosis; I wonder if Bergman was especially strange because he was maybe part-Jewish. Maybe his mother had a fling with a Jew behind her husband’s back; the grandmother in FANNY AND ALEXANDER certainly had intimate relations with a Jew, so maybe Bergman sensed this was true; if so, maybe Bergman’s half-Jewish nature simply couldn’t abide by an earnest Northern European upbringing.
Kubrick shared some of the same fascinations with Bergman, but he was a more easygoing person because his Jewish nature didn’t need to believe in or fess up to some Truth. As a Jew, he was comfortable with lies and saw the world as a maze of lies. This isn’t to suggest that Kubrick was a compulsive liar or swindler or con-artist. Rather, Kubrick was accepting of the world as an entity built of lies; a world where truth is less something to be found in the maze than the workings of the maze itself. The maze is the truth, and the objective of the maze is to fool us. If Danny outwits his father at the end of THE SHINING, it’s because the father looks for something/someone in the maze whereas Danny gains insight into the nature of the maze itself. Jack Torrance is oblivious of the workings of the maze and merely runs after Danny, whereas Danny figures out a way to use the maze to his advantage. Deception becomes perception.
[The best summation of Kubrick's approach may be found in INCEPTION by Christopher Nolan. A character named Ariadne is hired to work as an architect. She will build mazes in dream space, and the person brought into the dream world will naturally project his subconscious onto them. Kubrick was like an architect who built these cine-mind mazes onto which audience members found themselves projecting their own ideas, emotions, and obsessions. For this reason, some people have found his films to be somewhat hollow and empty, lacking a center grounded in powerful characters. But this sense of emptiness was intentional as Kubrick's characters were meant to serve as vessels for our own thoughts and emotions through the maze. Thus, they are half-formed characters at best. The other half of them is left empty for us to embody and onto which our own subconscious is to be projected. Though Nolan's idea is Kubrickian, he himself isn't a Kubrickian director as he's too discursive and explanatory, at least in his big budget movies.] Jews may seem impassioned when they spout politically correct nonsense, but they are really playing a mind-trick game; their show of emotions is less a manifestation of their true conviction than an attempt to browbeat us into going along with their agenda. Just as playwrights and authors manipulate their own characters, Jews see themselves as the authors of our world and see us as characters in their Jewish Supremacist play. Jews write the ‘script’ of higher education, entertainment, propaganda, and culture; and these things have a way of infiltrating and influencing the way we think and act, and thus, we become like fictional characters in a Jew-written play. For example, Jews spread all this gay propaganda that has come to affect so many hearts and minds, and so, many young people are flocking to ‘gay pride parades’; it’s as if Jews have direct access to the mental mechanisms of others. Authors know they’re writing fiction, but fictional characters don’t know they’re fictional. Authors knowingly deal with lies, whereas fictional characters believe in the ‘truth’ of their fictional worlds. Jews are like authors, and Northern-European and Wasp Americans are like fictional characters. Jews, like authors, are comfortable with lies and the endless ways they could be spun. Northern Europeans, like fictional characters, have this need to believe that they are living for and in the world of truth. Such purism has a way of undermining thought, so Northern Europeans are often afraid to think on their own to discover their own truth. Christianity was appealing because it supplied them with the Truth that could be accepted simply and wholly. But in the post-spiritual order, there was need for a new kind of faith, and it was offered to Northern Europeans in both US and Europe by the Jews. This is partly why Jews won. Jews didn’t feel uncomfortable with lies whereas Northern Europeans did. Since the world is complex and difficult to understand, we are surrounded by more lies than truths. Jews could handle this, but Northern Europeans couldn’t. Since the Old Truth was no longer acceptable — since anything related to white racial pride or identity became associated with Nazism — , Northern European types were in need for a new ‘truth’. Jews spun a whole bunch of politically correct lies into a new ‘truth’ for Northern Europeans to embrace, and so they did. Bergman was a very intelligent man, but it isn’t difficult to understand why Sweden turned out the way it did if we study Bergman’s career. Bergman had trouble with the truth but also had trouble with the fact that he had trouble with the truth. To the end of his life, he longed for some kind of absolute truth — and this can also be said of Michael Haneke who morbidly and single-mindedly digs and digs for what he assumes to be the Truth. Kubrick the Jew never felt such need. It’s like the difference between the Tom Cruise character and the Sydney Pollock character in EYES WIDE SHUT. The former needs some kind of ‘forever’ truth whereas the latter is comfortable with lies as chess pieces in the game of power. So, when Jews tell PC lies, we need to know that they’re using lies to win the game of Jewish Supremacism. In contrast, when Northern European types spout PC nonsense, they really believe in the nonsense they’re spewing. Just look into the ‘innocent’ eyes of goo-goo boys like Ken Burns as they sing the PC chorus about ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’. If one traces Bergman’s personal problems to his relationship with his father, what about the case of Franz Kafka? Kafka possibly hated his father even more than Bergman hated his. Bergman at least understood that his father was not a bad man but a weak and difficult person who concealed his social and personal insecurities behind sternness and brusqueness, but Kafka really found his father to be a nasty and unfeeling person. And yet, Kafka, like Kubrick, wasn’t so much trying to separate the truth from the lies but sardonically exploring the way of how lies and truths are interwoven through one another at every level of reality). To be sure, there was a counter-narrative that ironically originated in Europe itself. Just when American intellectuals and cineastes were profusely praising foreign cinema, a group of French cinephiles centered around Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol — Godard also for awhile — at the Cahier Du Cinema were making a case for American cinema as art. The ‘auteur theory’ championed a growing number of American directors — growing because every would-be-critic had his personal list of great ‘unsung’ directors — as artists no less significant than European masters. French auteurists preferred many American directors over the ‘cinema of quality’ French directors whom the auteurists excoriated for their impersonal tastefulness and bland competence. (This bloodless convention of ‘cinema of quality’ now seems to prevail in Hollywood during the fall season when the so-called ‘mature’ films are cranked out for Oscar season. While more adult and serious than most summer blockbuster fare, most of them might as well be directed by the same professional hacks. AMERICAN BEAUTY, NEVER LET ME GO, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, HITCHCOCK, CAPOTE, and etc. have no personal style or vision to speak of.) In a way, French auteurists and American intellectuals had something in common. Both were waging a war on middle-brow philistine-ism. American intellectuals argued for cinema as personal art, and the French auteurists were no less praiseworthy of film directors such as Bergman, Fellini, Resnais, Antonioni, Rossellini, Renoir, and etc. What the French auteurists didn’t like were the ‘impersonal’ professional directors who worked closely — even ‘slavishly’ — with the writers and producers. Such directors were accused of serving the concept of the writer and/or pandering to the staid respectability of middle class viewers(as understood and shaped in turn by the producers and industry as a whole). So, French auteurists attacked Rene Clement and Henri-Georges Clouzot, and American culture critics would eventually turn on David Lean. Where American intellectuals and French auteurists initially differed was in the idea that Hollywood had produced its share of genuine film artists worthy of comparison with the best of European artists. The standard line among American intellectuals acknowledged that even though Hollywood had lots of talent and produced its share of film classics, it was mostly about entertainment and not art. So, even as American intellectuals appreciated Hitchcock, Huston, Wilder, Wyler, Ford, Hawks, Capra, and etc. they were seen as entertainers than artists; they were considered as professionals who knew the tricks than artists seeking the truth. French auteurists disagreed and argued that the best American directors were genuine artists in their own right. Andrew Sarris took this and ran with it. Auteurism gave him intellectual cover to fully come out of the closet and declare his hopeless romantic obsession with Hollywood movies; it’s no wonder he sympathized with Robin Wood’s coming out of the closet in the 1970s as a ‘gay critic’ or homouterist. Ironically, Sarris was liberated in his love of populist American cinema by European intellectualism/respectability. Sarris had grown up watching Hollywood movies and loving them. But as a would-be academic and professional writer, he’d felt compelled to favor and champion the ‘higher’ over the ‘lower’. So, in 1958, he included Stanley Kramer’s ON THE BEACH on his top 10 while excluding VERTIGO and TOUCH OF EVIL. Kramer’s movie was lousy but dealt with lofty, grave, and ‘socially relevant’ themes. And in the 60s, there were many American critics who praised Sidney Lumet’s ridiculous THE PAWNBROKER for its ever-so-serious attempt to emulate European cinema — it might as well as have been called ‘Holocaust Mon Pawnbrokeur’. Sarris had been wanting to come out of the movie closet and unabashedly proclaim his love for American-cinema-as-art-in-its-own-right, but American intellectuals were looking to Europe for the big ideas. In the age of Jean-Paul Sartre, how could Sarris argue for Budd Boetticher and Sam Fuller as artists? So, how convenient for Sarris to discover the French auteurist school that argued in favor of American cinema. If French cinephiles thought so, maybe it was intellectually legitimate after all to champion American cinema as art. Sarris made his decisive turn with his praise for Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. Though Pauline Kael and Sarris were never on good terms, her attitude about cinema and art was more or less in the same vein. And if Truffaut and especially Godard were especially appealing to both critics, it had something to do with their riffing on American pop cultural influences. BREATHLESS and SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER owed a lot to American B-romance-thrillers. And Chabrol borrowed heavily from Hitchcock, though all said and done, his sensibility was uniquely European. Of course, this Hollywood vs European cinema dichotomy has always been blurry due to the fact that so many Hollywood movies were made by European emigre directors, especially Jews who left Germany with the rise of Hitler. Was Fritz Lang more a European or American director? And was Hitchcock ultimately more British or American?

Anyway, by the late 60s, European and Japanese cinemas were on shaky legs for any number of reasons. The rise of TV cut into ticket sales. Radicalization of politics and culture turned many directors into dull ideologues — especially true of Godard. Success turned some formerly innovative directors into crowd-pleasers — especially true of Truffaut. In some cases, film directors became obsessive and/or self-indulgent — especially Fellini and Bergman in the late 60s and early 70s; films like FELLINI SATYRICON and PASSION OF ANNA don’t look good today. But then, we should remind ourselves that even in the heyday of European art cinema, many of what came to be considered as classics were box-office failures. The decline of Japanese cinema was even more dramatic. The studio bosses decided that the trend was irreversibly in favor of TV and decided against risk-taking in cinema, and already by the late 60s, most Japanese films were cheapie genre productions about gangsters and ‘pink films’ or soft-core porn. Unwittingly, the Japanese movie business and Japanese Left joined hands to destroy Japanese cinema. In economic terms, the businessmen went for the safe easy bucks, and the Japanese radicals, in their war against ‘bourgeois’ culture, denounced everything about Japanese culture. The most famous — or infamous — Japanese director of this period, Nagisa Oshima, attacked just about all the big names in Japanese cinema as ‘militarist’, ‘bourgeois’, ‘oppressive’, or whatever. Thus, many Japanese film artists were abandoned/neglected by the industry and/or attacked/excoriated by the Japanese intellectuals and critics who, like other such folks all over the world, were blinded by fashionable leftist dogma.

Just when European and Japanese cinemas were fading, American cinema was coming into its own as an art form. (Though one could argue genuine works of art had always been created by Hollywood from the beginning, most Hollywood filmmakers kept their ‘artist soul’ in the closet as ‘art’ was considered a dirty word in Hollywood for both capitalist and leftist reasons. For studio bosses, ‘art’ meant pompous jerks making movies that always lost money. For leftists, ‘art’ was bourgeois in its selfish and self-indulgent notion for art-for-art’s-sake when truly worthy art must be for The People! So, filmmakers who aspired to be artists kept their artist-hood in the closet as gays did their homosexuality. Thus, even though John Ford made several films worthy of the title of ‘art’, he always publicly disdained the term as fey and ‘gayish’. It was really in the late 60s that American filmmakers, without apology or reservation, came out of the creative closet as aspiring personal artists. In this sense, the dichotomy of film vs movies, however limited or simpleminded, did some good for American film-makers. Hollywood had long insisted that everyone make ‘movies’, but maverick directors like Elia Kazan and Stanley Kubrick wanted to make more personal films or do their own thing. They wanted to work in the ‘film’ mode than ‘movie’ mode. The problem wasn’t with the idea of ‘movie’ per se but with the idea that Hollywood products must be ‘movies’. Mike Nichols, a wunderkind of 60s American cinema — who, like Orson Welles, arrived from Theater — made THE GRADUATE in the spirit of ‘film’ though, in many respects, it was very much a ‘movie’. Though artistically several notches below CITIZEN KANE, its impact was comparable, truly seismic.) Though one could trace the trend to an earlier time, the aptly titled THE GRADUATE was like the official declaration of Hollywood’s full embrace of the idea of film-as-art. Though not the first attempt, it was the first truly successful one that made believers out of everyone — critics, fans, and academy members alike. In truth, THE GRADUATE wasn’t so much a bona fide ‘art film’ as a populist pandering to youth with certain European ‘art film’ mannerisms.
Buck Henry’s screenplay could almost be sitcom material. (The success of Woody Allen’s ANNIE HALL owed to a similar formula. It turned European Art Film conventions into bite-size sitcom hors d'oeuvres.) But there were certain nuances and moods in the film that conveyed a wholly new kind of feeling in American cinema. And unlike previous youth films made by clueless adults who didn’t really ‘get it’, THE GRADUATE rode on the wavelength of the generation it pandered to. Prior to THE GRADUATE, most movies about young people presented the content of youth but in the older context of Hollywood’s assumptions about youth; even Nicholas Ray’s groundbreaking REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE stereotyped the young as a social tribe to observe and ‘understand’. For all his angst and whimpering, the James Dean character is more a type than an individual. Compare WEST SIDE STORY and SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS with THE GRADUATE. The first two are about young people but seen from a remove through adult eyes whereas THE GRADUATE makes the viewer feel as one with Benjamin Braddock(Dustin Hoffman). In WEST SIDE STORY and SPLENDOR, all sorts of fashionable ideas and theories — Freudianism, social critique, morality of sex, danger of repression, etc. — are at the forefront and come between the characters and the viewers. Also, their styles, impressive as they are, seem rigidly ‘classic’ and artificial than ‘different’ and personal — compare Natalie Wood’s picaresque adventure near the waterfalls with Dustin Hoffman’s dash to the church in the final reel. Movie makeup is always omnipresent in SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, even in its rawest moments, whereas THE GRADUATE begins with the white noise inside an airplane and zooms away from the dark tanned face of Hoffman, which late in the movie is full of sweat and stubble and shot through washed out colors and accompanied with what could be real sounds of the street; when the car runs out of gas and Ben starts running, we feel the full effect of the noise, confusion, and heat; the cine-cosmetics have melted off; the zoom lens effect gives it a grimy cinema-verite documentary feel, but it’s much more than realism as the technique, though deceptively spontaneous, has been expertly calibrated  to convey the personal mood of desperate hope and fatalistic anxiety in Ben; the combination of realism, professionalism, and personalism(with a touch of poeticism) in THE GRADUATE was truly remarkable, so much so that few directors, including Nichols, were able to match it in coming years. (MIDNIGHT COWBOY and HAROLD AND MAUDE are among the few that come to mind.) Mike Nichols, at 36, wasn’t exactly ‘young’ when he made THE GRADUATE, but he understood the spirit of the times — and the use of Simon and Garfunkel’s songs was one of the first(if not the first) effective uses of the New Music in film. While Rock n Roll music had been used many times earlier in movies, it had been mostly as dance spectacle(as in musicals) or social statement. In THE GRADUATE, from the very opening scene with "The Sounds of Silence", the music is part of the film’s psychology. It isn’t just the soundtrack but a glimpse into the heart of Benjamin Braddock, the melody of the generation, the film’s very soul. In this regard, THE GRADUATE may have served as a template for such films as MIDNIGHT COWBOY, EASY RIDER, HAROLD AND MAUDE, and AMERICAN GRAFFITI. THE GRADUATE revolutionized the use of music in movies. In earlier movies, a song, especially a rock n roll song, tended to hog the foreground as either a statement — of rebellion in BLACKBOARD JUNGLE — or a spectacle, as in all those Elvis and Beach Party movies. There were exceptions to be sure, especially Ringo’s walk along the river bank to the instrumental of "This Boy" in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. It was European cinema’s use of pop music that was more nuanced, as in THE EASY LIFE, aka, IL SORPASSO(1962) and MASCULIN FEMININ(1966), and Nichols was among the first American directors to explore the new possibilities of melding mind, matter, and music.

Anyway, for a time in the late 60s and early 70s, it was as if American cinema was finally coming into its own as a full-fledged art form. And unlike serious American directors of the 50s and early 60s who sought to imitate the Europeans and make European-ish films like THE PAWNBROKER, the American directors of the late 60s and 70s were finding their own national, ethnic, and/or personal voices in attitude, style, and sensibility. While they owed something to European innovations in film grammar, they spoke with a distinctly American accent. Robert Altman’s MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER and NASHVILLE were as American as cheeseburger and milk shake. So were Lucas’s AMERICAN GRAFFITI and Peckinpah’s THE WILD BUNCH. If earlier American directors of ambition tried to imitate European innovations note-for-note, the American auteurs of the late 60s and 70s had learned the notes but played their own tunes, paralleling the difference between American composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who tried to slavishly imitate the ‘superior’ Europeans and those of the later period who, while absorbing the lessons from abroad, played freely with unique American voices and spirit. Thus, TAXI DRIVER owes something to Bresson and Godard, but it’s distinctly a New York film — unlike THE PAWNBROKER that tries so hard to be a European Art Film made in New York.

Another strange development was that the Americans finally discovered and expressed the European content of the American character by becoming less European-ish and more American-ish. Francis Ford Coppola, for instance, was as influenced by European filmmakers as by American ones, but it was by working on THE GODFATHER that he came to express what was uniquely Italian and Old World about Italian-Americans. Instead of trying to seek approval of haute Europeans or Anglo-Americans, he probed into his ‘humble’ Southern Italian-American roots to portray the richness of Italian-American life and culture unknown to outsiders. As such, THE GODFATHER is, at once, one of the most American and one of the most ‘exotic’ films. It’s about the Italian experience in America but in a unique than generic sense. It’s as much about the part of Italian-ness that cannot assimilate into American society as about the part that can. It’s both a film of acceptance and exile. Corleones do win and are accepted into the American order, but something about them remains as outsiders, the exclusion working both ways — Wasp elites looking down on the Corleones as ‘oily’ outsiders, and Corleones not trusting anyone who’s not a Sicilian, which is rather ironic since Sicily is a land of deception and corruption; Corleones are also at war with other Sicilian gangs and with other ethnic groups like the Jews. As Sicilians of humble background who became rich in America, the Corleones are both a family of bandits and members of the New World royalty. As Americans who found great success in the New World, they cannot really return to their roots. But as nouveau riche Americans who made their fortune through gangsterism, they cannot belong to respectable society. When we think of European CULTURE, we think of France, Germany, Britain, and Northern Italy. No one thinks of a backwater like Sicily or even much of Southern Italy. Indeed, even many Italians don’t think very highly of Southern Italy and Sicily which are sometimes derisively associated with Africa or Arabia. Just as Jews found paradise in America, Southern Italians found their true blessings in America, but the Italian-American experience has been marred by organized crime. Thus, there is an element of exile in THE GODFATHER and Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS, and that may have been one of the reasons why Pauline Kael felt a certain fondness for them. Jews also have a long mental history of exile, and in the case of Kael, it was double-layered for she also felt exiled from much of the Jewish community centered in NY and LA. Perhaps, Kael didn’t care for most John Ford movies and European art cinema because of their air of officialdom. John Ford movie seems to say "this is America", "these are American archetypes", "these are American values", etc. And European art film seems to say, "this is art", "this is intellectualism", "these are proper ideologies". For Kael and others like her, the truth was in the personal and the tribal. This isn’t to say that she was an individualist ideologue(in the manner of Ayn Rand) or tribalist(in the manner of a Zionist or race-ist). Rather, she liked the FEELING of truth, and this feeling could always change, and she liked the freedom of being able to change her mind and moods. As the character Steiner says in THE CROSS OF IRON, "a man is generally what he FEELS himself to be." Sam Peckinpah was one of Kael’s favorite directors. Whether good or bad, high or low, left or right, Kael had a thing for truth of feeling. For her, too many Hollywood films were generic in their appeal to the mass audience or in their formulation of Americanism or moralism. And too many European films were overly serious about meaning, symbolism, and intellect. Both overrode the feelings at the core of human experience. The issue wasn’t really populism vs. art sensibility. Movies were legit or not legit depending on whether they channeled or blocked the truth of feelings. Thus, Kael could admire an art film like EMIGRANTS and THE NEW LAND or a popular work like the movies of MEL BROOKS. They felt true in the power of their emotions. It is then no surprise that the film she was craziest about was THE LAST TANGO IN PARIS. She connected with its dark and delirious passion of middle age crisis and love-sexuality-guilt triangle. An American fuc*ing in Paris.

The 70s became a legendary period for cinephiles, especially as the 80s came to be associated with Reagan, the conservative revival, neo-patriotism, and the triumph of capitalism(and demise of communism). To be sure, American cinema began to move away from ‘personal filmmaking’ already with the success of JAWS and STAR WARS — though one could make a case for THE EXORCIST as well. Because the success of JAWS and STAR WARS(and then HALLOWEEN) spawned the rise of blockbuster and/or formula movies in the 80s, aka the Reagan era, Lucas and Spielberg came to be loathed by many liberals — all the more so since Lucas copped Riefenstahlian fascist aesthetics in his space fantasy and not only for the villains but for the good guys, e.g. the final scene of STAR WARS with the triumphant good guys borrowed design ideas from the Nuremberg Rally. That such a brazenly aesthetically-fascist movie could become the biggest hit of all time troubled many social commentators. And Lucas’s main intellectual and ‘spiritual’ inspiration came from Joseph Campbell, the quasi-fascist scholar of mythology. Though liberals like Bill Moyers tried to clean up Campbell’s image, especially in the PBS documentary THE POWER OF MYTH, the fact remains that Campbell was no lover of Jews and Negroes. Of course, not liking Jews doesn’t make one a fascist as there are Jewish fascists too — as Zionism is a form of Jewish fascism — , but Campbell was fascinated with the power of the irrational, the visionary and the imaginary, and themes of particularist blood-and-soil loyalties. Lucas was also the son of an arch-conservative father. But Lucas was also a child of the 60s and absorbed many of the anti-establishment assumptions of the Counterculture. In taste and imagination, he was very much a conservative and fascist, but in terms of conscious political outlook, he was very much a liberal Democrat. Thus, STAR WARS was a means by which Lucas could have the cake and eat it too. He could indulge in all the fascist imagery(from comic books, science fiction fantasies, and WWII photos and footage that he loved as a child), but then, neatly divide fascism into good fascism(as represented by the Jedi Order) and bad fascism(as represented by the Dark Side). Interestingly enough, all the good guys were white in the first STAR WARS whereas ‘racial’ diversity in the form of various creatures in the Jazz club tavern, Jewish-like Jawas, and Arab-like Sand People looked rather unpleasant. Possibly due to criticism, Lucas added a Negro in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and made RETURN OF THE JEDI more like SESAME STREET, or Muppets vs the Evil Empire. And in the later series, one of the top Jedi masters was played by Samuel Jackson, and indeed the Jedi Order seemed to be made up of a diverse bunch of space freaks, including  a conehead with bushy whiskers. But then, once Annakin Skywalker becomes evil, he puts on a black armor and starts sounding like a Negro whose motto is "Force is a terrible thing to waste." And then, the Stormtroopers turn out to be a bunch of Samoans. In a way, Spielberg and Lucas had more in common with Steve Jobs(relatively a late boomer) than with the boomers born between them. Lucas and Spielberg(early boomers) were respectively born in 1944 and 1946, and Steve Jobs was born in 1955. That means both of their formative period missed the crucial period of 67 to 70. If one’s most formative years are between 15 to 18, Lucas and Spielberg were already in their 20s by 1967; their formative period was in the late 50s to early 60s. By the late 60s, both were full adults. And by the time Jobs was in his late teens, the memory of the ‘radical’ 60s was fast fading away. Lucas and Spielberg’s formative years were before America went crazy, and Jobs’s was after America went crazy. Lucas’s nostalgia trip AMERICAN GRAFFITI set in the early 60s could have been set in the late 50s, and in a way, it’s like a Twilight of American Innocence movie. And though Jobs wanted to be part of 60s culture, the ‘vibes’ were fading by the day as Jobs came into adulthood. Thus, while all three were affected by the 60s, their youthful impressionability was at a certain remove from the epicenter. Lucas’s favorite music was from the late 50s and early 60s. Spielberg was more into Walt Disney and David Lean than into rock music(and there’s something old-fashioned and ‘classic’ about all of his movies). There were plenty of cinephiles in the 60s, but they were more into European art film and the like. Spielberg preferred the more accessible David Lean and Akira Kurosawa, who was also the hero of Lucas. For Spielberg and Lucas, the 60s were a mixed blessing. They were excited by the changes and moods, but they also felt that the America they loved was slipping away. Both lacked the passion to join the movement as it destroyed the America they grew up in and longed to return to — a more innocent America — , but they were affected by the movement’s idea that the Establishment had lied to the public and kept people in the dark about the truth. The problem of the Vietnam War and Nixon’s scandals compounded these fears. And yet, Spielberg loved suburbia, not hippie communes and rowdy college campuses. And Lucas loved machines and gadgetry — a passion shared by Steve Jobs — than hemp and patchouli. Though the ‘spiritual’ message of STAR WARS is anti-technological, its heart-and-soul is about machines, technology, and special effects. Ultimately, even the good guys need big spaceships to fight the bad guys — and we gotta admit the Empire has a great looking armada and battle gear. And what are light-sabers? Weapons made of wood and stone? No, they are weapons made of hyper-technology. Besides, we later learned it was the good guys who first used the storm trooper Clone Army to fight the evil forces. (In a way, Lucas foreshadowed the dilemma that Hollywood had to face.
Lucas loved fascist aesthetics and irrational mystical cults — so central to anti-rationalist fascism — , but he hated fascist politics. STAR WARS offered a means to celebrate and enjoy fascist aesthetics and spectacle while condemning its message. As STAR WARS broke all box office records and proved immensely profitable, it was obvious that people love fascist aesthetics, especially wedded to science fiction and neo-Wagnerian music; eventually Hollywood made peace with fascist aesthetics and made a killing at the box office with quasi-fascist directors making stuff like ROBOCOP, TERMINATOR, RAMBO, LOTR movies, TRANSFORMERS, MATRIX trilogy, etc; the trick was that it couldn’t be called ‘fascist’, and the political message had to be anti-fascist, even as the aesthetics was pure pop-fascism. Even as many boomers attacked Lucas as a sell-out and closet-fascist-‘racist’, there was a certain appeal in his fascist imagination because all that stuff about the Force was, in a way, an extension of the 60s ideal of self-actualization and being ‘far out’ enough to touch god. Lucas changed the electric guitar to the light saber; he idealized the disciplined order of Jedi Knights than the rowdy disorder of rock stars, but the appeal of both was the Power. At Woodstock, rock stars were revered as guitar gods with the power of sorcery. In the STAR WARS universe, Jedi Knights possess and wield a mysterious power known as the Force manifested through their masterful display of skills with light sabers. In the 60s, the boomers rebelled not only because they found society to be too oppressive and unjust but because they found it too equal, square, and conformist. As Benjamin Braddock says to his father, he wants to be ‘different’; he didn’t want to be the same or equal with everyone else who is into ‘plastics’. Even as boomers railed against racial inequality and the like, many boomers wanted to gain fame, fortune, and power far above what had been deemed adequate by their parents, and this outlook began in their bedrooms as they listened to rock music. If earlier generations understood that they had to ‘put away childish things’ and grow up and become responsible, the boomers grew up enjoying more freedom to dream their fantasies in their bedrooms while listening to rock music. Good wasn’t good enough for them. Boomers believed that they were anti-materialistic and ‘spiritual’ because they preferred to ‘drop out’ and ‘find themselves’ than jump on the career path to make money, but this form of anti-greed or anti-materialism was paradoxically a profound expression of their ultra-greed and ultra-materialism. After all, people find jobs to pay their own way and to pay taxes, which is what the parents of boomers did all their lives. But many young boomers selfishly wanted everything without working, and they naively believed that their commitment to ‘love’ and ‘peace’ would bless them with manna from heaven when, in fact, their parents were footing the bill for their self-indulgences. Boomers were actually acting like the snobby guy in MILDRED PIERCE who takes money from Mildred but doesn’t want to work because it’s beneath his dignity as a person meant for finer things — and this also shows in the sneering arrogance of Obama who reeks of unearned privilege but hides the odor with highfalutin rhetoric of ‘social justice’. Thus, there was a streak of closet-aristocratism in the souls of boomers, which is why they loved the public image of the Beatles and Stones, the neo-aristocrats of the age, who seemed to have lots of money and privilege to indulge in creativity, love, and whatever caught their fancy. Of course, boomers eventually couldn’t be kids forever and eventually had to find work, and not surprisingly, their materialism and ‘greed’ in the 1980s and 1990s went far beyond anything imagined by earlier generations. This is where Reagan and Thatcher miscalculated. Their idea of the rich and successful harked back to an earlier time when the rich had more class and restraint; therefore, they thought the return of the culture of wealth would ‘conservatize’ the boomers, but what really happened was that wealth was ‘radicalized’ by the boomers, a very excessive generation. Of course, boomers couched their energies in progressive language of fighting for ‘social justice’ and equality, but what really excited them was the chance to be totally free and follow their bliss. They wanted all their youthful fantasies to come true as if they were princes and princesses in fairytales. Oliver Stone embodies this boomer paradox down to a tee. He wants to be Alexander the Great and is fascinated with rich football stars, famous rock stars, gangsters, and Wall Street titans — and all sorts of men of power — , but his political rhetoric is always some bullshit about ‘social justice’. The dirty secret of the 60s was that even as the generation spouted Marxist cliches, the real animating force was a kind of personal fascism, i.e. each boomer radical or visionary wanted to be his or her own Mussolini or Hitler. Only John Milius and perhaps Paul Schrader — the director of MISHIMA — were honest about this, but then the crazy right generally tends to be more honest than the crazy left.) Many liberals found Lucas too conservative(even fascist), but Lucas, well aware of the fact that liberals had the upperhand in the field of moral combat(what with the myth of WWII as ‘good war’ and Civil Rights Movement), had to convince others(and himself) that he was a good progressive. Also, since his Industrial Light and Magic Company relied on recruiting top talent in computers and high-tech(and since most geeks were either Jewish or liberal), it was necessary for him to be the good ‘progressive’. Republican message under Reagan was all about success and wealth, but the likes of Lucas didn’t need any advice from Republicans and conservatives to make a lot of money. Though Lucas and Spielberg benefited handsomely from the Republican policy of lower taxes and pro-entrepreneurship, they didn’t simply want to be seen as rich guys and be thought of as ‘crass’ and ‘greedy’. So, even as they made their money the ‘conservative’ Ayn-Randian way, they wanted to show the face of ‘compassion’ and ‘inclusion’. This is something the Republicans didn’t understand, that, as Jesus said, "man doesn’t live on bread alone." Republicans emphasized economics because they found themselves on the defense in areas of race, sex, and other issues. Since Republicans couldn’t defend hierarchy on the basis of race or sex, they opted for the natural hierarchy of talent as the determinant of wealth. Republican policy was appealing to a lot of yuppie boomers in the 80s — especially as many were eager to put behind the crisis mode of the late 60s and early 70s — , but as the decade wore on, all the wealth seemed empty and meaningless. And even as the Republican policy made the talented boomers fabulously rich in finance, entertainment, high-tech, and fashion, most yuppie rich despised the cultural core of conservatism that seemed trapped in the 50s, the Southern Bible Belt, or bland suburbia as retreat from urban cosmopolitanism. In the post-religious age, yuppie boomers wanted some ‘spiritual’ meaning in their lives, but all they got from conservatism was Reagan’s muscle flexing, Ayn Randian me-me-me-ism, and/or Bible-thumping. Yuppie boomers were ‘greedy’, but they didn’t want to feel or seem greedy, so most of them couldn’t accept Randianism. Yuppie boomers didn’t care for old time religion, but they wanted something to worship. And so, there was the new religions of the Green movement, Oprah, Holocaustianity, and MLK faith. Boomers loved the immediate sugar highs of pop culture but also wanted to seem ‘intellectual’, so their gathering place was NPR where popular movie stars and musicians were interviewed in an intellectual manner by the likes of Terry Gross(who really looks gross). Have the cake and eat it too. Yuppie boomers were afraid of Negro crime but wanted to seem ‘guilt-ridden’ and redemptive. So, even as they drove Negroes out of urban areas via gentric cleansing and locked them up in massive prison compounds(built under Clinton), they extolled Oprah as the heroine of our age and voted for Obama as ‘the one’. All these contradictions can be found in Lucas. The way he made his money was Reaganesque, and he did it by marketing pop-fascism. Also, there’s little that’s egalitarian about Lucas’s life or the message of his movies. Lucas built his empire by making everyone know who is boss. He didn’t wanna be just another filmmaker working for Hollywood but built his own movie studio and was his own mogul. And STAR WARS is all about hierarchy. Annakin Skywalker goes wrong because he betrays the hierarchy of the Jedi Order. The wise and noble Obi-Wan Kenobi is loyal and obedient to Yoda, and he expects Annakin to know his place. Annakin as a young Jedi is like a punkass kid who wants to his own thing, a kind of rebel without a cause. Yet, despite all this, Lucas in public life has been eager to show himself as some kind of egalitarian teddy bear who’s with the People. And he pretends to understand Negroes too. Like that other silly white man James Cameron, Lucas seems to have something for black mamas. If Cameron wrote a script(STRANGE DAYS) with a hot mama Negress, Lucas went one better and is on the verge of marrying one. Maybe, it’s just a white boy fantasy. As both were likely castrated by smart white women, maybe they seek solace in the myth of the soulful black mama who done understand. You see, white women be too icy and cold, but black ho’s, they be full of soul and be understanding what a white man feels and needs. They get to play Thomas Jefferson, if indeed he did father children with one of his plantation slaves. (This also seems to be the appeal of Oprah. It isn’t exactly Jungle Fever but more like Mama Fever.) It’s sort of like what Bugs Bunny gets from the female gorilla in "Apes of Wrath".

Of course, black women understand the naive white boy psychology — especially if the white boy is rich and famous — and milk it for all its worth. Sorryass white boys castrated by cold white bitches. Uh poor poor babies, come to black mama and suckle on chocolate milk from warm jungle titties. Looks like Roger Ebert done got some warm chocolate milk by suckling on the titties of a Negress too.

Anyway, the 80s got tagged as the Reagan Era and, as such, came to be derided by liberals. To be sure, Reagan and the 80s have sometimes been portrayed positively by the liberal media to shame current conservatives. This narrative would have us believe that Reagan had been for compromise and cooperation — with Democrats and even the Soviet Union — whereas recent Republicans are only shrill fanatics. So, Obama is praised as being Reagan-like or the Reagan of the Democrats.
There is some truth to the liberal narrative, but as arguments go, it’s more specious than specific. Remove the glow of nostalgia, and liberals and leftists loathed Reagan in the 80s and saw him as the man who wanted to start WWIII. The liberal media even broadcast the crazy paranoid THE DAY AFTER in the hope of scaring Americans into voting for Mondale. (Red Scare of the 50s very bad, Reagan Scare of the 80s very good!!) Also, the loutish cantankerousness of Limbaugh, Gingrich, and their ilk owes something to boomer era radicalism. The heated rhetoric of the Counterculture created the heated rhetoric of the counter-counterculture. While there had been no lack of virulence in American politics from the beginning of the republic, pre-boomer politicians and personalities still had common manners, attitudes, values, and restraints. Ideology aside, a member of the Frankfurt School could have had a sane conversation with William Buckley. They may have disagreed on principles and ideas, but liberals and conservatives had more or less the same standards of behavior — and one of the reason for McCarthy’s downfall was his rudeness and lack of manners. As Pat Buchanan wrote in RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING, even as he and liberals locked horns in the late 50s and early 60s, they belonged to the same species of Homo Americanus. But as the 60s got radical, the Counterculture wasn’t just an assault on the Right but everything deemed American. It wasn’t reformist but radical. Even a communist and a Bircher, in terms of manners and attitude, had more in common in the 50s than a traditional Democrat and a counterculture boomer did in the late 60s.
The radicalism of the Left naturally led to the radical style of the Right. As the result of the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and legal battles over discrimination, conservatives could no longer be passionate about specific ideas that propped up old privileges, so conservatism moved from substance to style. Since conservatives couldn’t be aggressive in ideology — even overt anti-communism could be denounced as ‘McCarthyite’ — , they developed a kind of swagger, and today it can be seen in Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. All in all, in the battle of moral ideas, liberalism defeated conservatism, but conservatism defeated communism. Conservatism conceded to liberals on the race issue and joined in worshiping MLK, and liberals conceded that communism was rotten and wasn’t worth defending. Ironically, Reagan’s role in the ‘defeat of communism’ was a great boon to liberals as (1) conservatives lost the great bogeyman to rally the nation against — the War on Terror has been a poor substitute — (2) liberals could no longer be accused of being ‘soft on communism’ (3) Jews no longer needed to rely on the GOP to ‘save Soviet Jews’. During the Cold War, Soviet mistreatment of Jews and its support of Arab nations made Jews increasingly wary of the international Left. But with the demise of the USSR and the spread of the Zionist-globalist empire, Jews came to realize that they control everything. What need to rely on the American Right for protection? Of course, Jews still throw a bone to the American Right once in awhile to prevent it from turning against the Jews. (Jews are clever this way. If most white conservatives rely solely on the GOP for their interests, Jews play with both the Democratic party and Republican party to further their agenda. If white conservatives were smarter, they would play both parties too. Use the GOP to support rich and middle class whites and use the Democratic Party to support poor and working class whites. Don’t just place all the eggs in the basket of one party. NO ENEMY TO THE RIGHT should be the slogan of white conservatives.) If all Jews were Democratic and pissed on the Right, the Right would be forced to fight the Jews. But as long as neocon Jews and other fakers give false hope to the American Right that Jews so dearly appreciate their support of Israel(and may one day become Republican), the American Right will continue to pray that Jews will politically convert to the Right and join the GOP.
Anyway, though American conservatism has become more ‘extreme’ in style, it’s grown more compromised in substance if anything. Increasing numbers of ‘conservatives’ are bending over to embrace ‘gay marriage’ because they fear the powerful gay lobby allied with the all-powerful Jewish lobby. I guarantee that Limbaugh will support ‘gay marriage’ in a few years. Also, what many liberal critics ignore is the fact that much of conservative ‘extremism’ is merely an attempt to appease Jews. Politics is about money, and politicians go where the money and power are. Jews have control of Wall Street and the media. Since conservatives don’t see eye-to-eye with Jews on social issues, they try to win Jewish support by being fanatically pro-Wall Street and pro-War-for-Israel. But this is extremism as a form of prostitution than ideology. Also, conservatives feel a need to prove that they are not ‘racist’, so they go out of their way to show the world that they will do anything to prevent ‘another Holocaust’, even if it means aiding and abetting the Zionists in the bashing of Palestinians and Iranians.
There are libertarian extremists in the GOP, but two things need to be said about libertarianism, which is a two-headed beast. One side of libertarianism is purist and anti-conservative. True blue libertarians are only allied with conservatism and despise most cultural conservatives. The other side of libertarianism is purely opportunistic or pragmatic. It is white nationalism wrapped in ‘principles of freedom’ because white nationalists know that whites have higher IQ than blacks and non-white Hispanics. All things being equal, if individuals are chosen on the basis of merit, even poor whites will do better than rich blacks, as the SAT scores of poor whites are often higher than that of rich blacks. The reason why some conservatives cling to libertarianism with such extremist zeal is because the culture of political correctness doesn’t allow any honest debate on race and racial differences. Thus, libertarian extremism is a reaction to the extremism of political correctness that defines so much of American politics & culture and prohibits honest discussion of issues.
Also, we need to ask who gets to determine what is or isn’t ‘extreme’? We are now living in an age when an idea as ridiculous as ‘gay marriage’ is deemed ‘normal’ and mainstream while opposing such monstrosity is considered ‘extreme’. How did America become like this? Today, the antics of Lady Gaga are mainstream. Sarah Silverman is also mainstream. But if restaurant chain like Chick Fil-A donates money to a group that opposes the gay agenda, it is said to be ‘extreme’. Young people are so brainwashed that even straight people participate in ‘gay pride’ parades that celebrate the lifestyles of men who practice fecal penetration. Thus, the extreme has become ‘normal’, and the normal has become ‘extreme’. This is the new America as created by rabid and virulent Jews who, all throughout history, have acted as a virus that enters and corrupts entire societies. By weakening the host, the Jewish virus takes control. Jewish virus also takes over the mind, which is why even many intelligent goyim are defenseless against Jewish influence. New drugs may make homos more impervious to the HIV virus, but America has almost no immunity left against the Jewish virus. ‘Extreme’ is a codeword that really means ‘the conservative is too principled and courageous to bend over to the liberal demand’. If compromise and acceding to the other side are so wonderful, why don’t Jews ever compromise on the issue of Israel or Jewish power? Why didn’t homos just give up the ‘gay marriage’ crusade when most Americans opposed it not long ago? Aren’t Jews extreme? Haven’t gays been extreme in pushing for something that most Americans rejected? You see, it’s never ‘extreme’ for Jews and homos to make any kind of demand on the rest of us, but we are ‘extreme’ if we oppose their lunacy. In Jewish-controlled America, it’s legal for illegal aliens to invade this country, but it’s illegal for local governments to arrest and deport illegal aliens(or to even call them ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘illegal immigrants’). It’s normal for Jews to throw their weight around and destroy the career of anyone who is critical of Jewish power, but it’s ‘extreme’ for anyone to criticize Jewish power. It’s normal for gays to act like freaks in public parades and call people ‘homophobic’ for disagreeing with gays, but it’s ‘extreme’ for people to even believe in the special meaning of marriage as defined through the ages. Welcome to JewSA.


But one of the movies I completely missed in the 80s was MIRACLE MILE, and the reason was probably my aversion to the non-stop slew of teenage action-comedies pouring out of Hollywood month after month. There was also the whole Brat Pack thing. Though the star of MIRACLE MILE, Anthony Edwards, wasn’t part of the Brat Pack, he was one of the generic and almost interchangeable young faces of 80s cinema along with Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Michael J. Fox, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, James Spader, Andrew McCarthy, John Cusack, Eric Stoltz, Charlie Sheen, Matthew Modine, and several others(who were also not of the Brat Pack but might as well have been). They seemed to be perpetually stuck in teen-hood. Matthew Broderick was 24 when he made FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY off but he didn’t look a day over sixteen. Tom Cruise sort of belonged to this crowd too, and indeed, he got his break along with some Bratpackers on Francis Ford Coppola’s THE OUTSIDERS. Lucky for Cruise, he had more fight and drive. He was willing to bite off more than he could chew and swallow even if it got stuck in the throat. Some of the 80s ‘teen’ movie stars eventually grew out of typecast roles and found new niches for themselves. This was especially true of John Cusack, but then he’d exhibited something special in movies like THE SURE THING. And Broderick’s charm as a comedian was undeniable. Lowe was too pretty not to land gigs later. James Spader, usually the wasp heavy in many ‘teen’ movies, also had genuine talent and could have been a major star with better roles. Though waspy, he had the edgy quality of Christopher Walken, who also never lived up to his potential. As it happened, most of the big ‘teen’ names of the 80s turned out to be more Sal Mineos than James Deans. They were not star stuff but shooting stars, here today, gone tomorrow. Possibly the biggest loss of the decade was Matt Dillon who had the looks and charisma to be something special. For whatever reason, he faded and fumbled. Perhaps, as with Mickey Rourke, there was something self-destructive about Dillon. Or maybe he was considered too dark and heavy for ‘teen’ roles and too heartthrob-ish and immature for ‘serious’ roles.

Though I have fond feelings for 80s cinema — nostalgia can do wonders — , I thought 80s culture was pretty lousy while it was happening. And even in retrospect, much of 80s culture seems insufferably shallow and stupid. Though it came to be associated with the ‘Reagan Era’, stuff like MTV and other pop cultural silliness were the product of the liberal imagination. But it could be mistaken as ‘Reaganesque’ because of its lack of ‘commitment’ to anything but hedonism and materialism. From the late 70s to around 1986 — when Oliver Stone made an impact on the culture with PLATOON, which, however flawed, was a necessary antidote to the wantonly stupid RAMBO — , pop culture was happy to be pop culture and little else. Though most people in the industry were nominally liberals, apolitical-ism was in the air. The Sixties were over — and even thought to be embarrassing as boomers came of age and were raising kids of their own — , and Jimmy Carter dashed hopes for a New America. Liberals couldn’t stand Reagan, but with the likes of Mondale and Dukakis in the wing to run as future candidates, there was no thrill or passion among the Democrats. Urban elites, especially Jews and liberal wasps, found themselves at odds or in trouble with Negroes(who never seemed to do anything right), the entrepreneur class, and the working class. Negroes were robbing and raping urban liberals. Entrepreneur class wanted lower taxes and more free trade and came to value Reaganism. And working class patriots found liberals to be a bunch of sissies who were afraid to stand up to the Evil Empire. And among ethnic voters, there was lingering bad feeling at the Democrats for having pushed social policies that unleashed waves of black crime. It was not a good time to be a liberal, and pop culture reflected this. The big shows on TV were the COBSY SHOW where a black family acted as white-as-can-be and FAMILY TIES, where former 60s radicals had become a middle-class suburban family with an intellectual conservative son, a kind of Milton-Friedmanian young version of Archie Bunker(Carroll O’Connor). If Bunker was conservative in his prejudices, Alex Keaton(Michael J. Fox) was conservative in his principles. But unlike ALL IN THE FAMILY, which was full of bickering and nastiness, FAMILY TIES was all about warmth and togetherness. Because liberalism was so out of vogue, most pop stars didn’t take any kind of stand. And college campuses were mostly quiet. When I began college in the mid-80s, I actively sought out radical leftist groups but could hardly find any, and those that existed, like Marxist fronts championing ‘peace’ for Central America, could barely attract more than half a classroom of enthusiasts. China was abandoning communism, and Soviet Union seemed to be going senile along with its octogenarian rulers and then seemed to desperately grasp at straws under Gorbachev. For awhile, even Bruce Springsteen was doing the Rambo act. Despite the bitter lyrics of "Born in the USA", its effect was anthem-like at concerts... and the Boss knew it. And Michael Jackson seemed to be turning white with each passing year. And the other big black star in music was Prince, who looked like a light-skinned Puerto Rican and played ‘white rock’ than soul or rap. If 60s racial politics was pretty acrimonious, 80s began with Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder singing a duet called "Ebony and Ivory", one of the dumbest songs ever recorded, but it soared the charts to #1. In the mid-80s, the biggest political statement by celebrities was "We Are the World", but it too was pretty apolitical for its message was nothing more than "let’s feed the dumb Negroes in Africa". It was hardly a call for revolution. Even conservatives had nothing against sending some free food to Negroes. And given that the famine in Ethiopia happened under a Marxist regime, the publicity didn’t do much good for the Left. If there was a hot spot in the 80s, it was Central America, and some feared that it might become the new Vietnam, but as US provided more aid and pressured Latin American nations toward greater democracy, Marxism became less appealing to the Latin masses. And if one of the great moral causes for the Left in the 60s and 70s was Vietnam, the passion had not only cooled but turned to revulsion after the Vietnamese Boat People fiasco and the revelations of Khmer Rouge holocaust in Cambodia. Even liberal Hollywood found itself making THE KILLING FIELDS. The Old Left was dead forever. The New Left that came into being in the 60s was in tatters. The Right seemed to be on the ascendancy while the Left seemed to be in decline or retreat all over the world. In the 80s, there was no good news in the communist world. Meanwhile, the capitalist economies of East Asia under US tutelage and protective umbrella were booming and even catching up with Japan. And among the Latin American economies, the best performer by far was Chile headed by the much reviled right-wing Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet, as it turned out, also had the decency to voluntarily relinquish power, something no communist leader was ever willing to do. And it became clearer by the day that there was no saving the Soviet Union. Gorbachev’s Glastnost and Perestroika couldn’t reverse the rot. And China gradually became communist in name only. Even more brazenly than Reagan and Thatcher, Deng Xiaoping, the man who’d spent most of his life trying to socialize China, told the Chinese that it was ‘glorious to be rich’. And American Jews, who’d been heavily represented on the far left in American politics, had to admit that they’d grown immensely powerful and rich under American capitalism. Indeed, they were bound to grow even richer and more powerful under Reaganism. If Reaganism favored the intelligent, innovative, entrepreneurial, and individualistic, even a liberal Jew was bound to make a hell of a lot more money than Christian conservative hicks. So, liberal and leftist Jews found themselves becoming the masters of American and global capitalism. They were ideologically opposed to Reagan but materially gaining most from his policies. They liked the economic arrangement so much that they supported Bill Clinton who, in the 90s, Reaganized the economic platform of the Democratic Party while boomerizing its ideology. Traditionally, the Democrats had been about championing of the working class and the less privileged classes by the intellectual class with big ideas about social and economic reform. But the liberal elites lost heart about the working classes and the minorities. Working classes had been spoiled by unions and were bound to lose out in the global competition under increasingly freer trade. Unions were a poor bet for the future of the Democratic Party. Besides, many white working class folks had voted for Reagan. And Negroes had gotten cocky and aggressive, led by ‘antisemitic’ hustlers like Jesse Jackson. In Democratic-dominated cities, whites and blacks often felt hostility toward one another. The future of the Democrats depended on winning over the newly successful class, the boomers who made unprecedented fortunes during the Reagan era. Democrats still relied on black voters and the like, but money ruled in politics, and Democrats had to appeal to those with money. So, even as Bill Clinton romped around as the ‘first black president’, he made sure to lock up a whole bunch of Negroes in a vast newly built prison complexes. He also pushed Section 8 housing whereby urban black criminal class would be relocated out of the cities. This cleared whole swaths of land for urban liberal gentry while dumping dangerous Negroes on working class and lower middle class small towns and suburbs. And by pushing NAFTA and other ‘free trade’ agreements, Bill Clinton won over the yuppie globalist class over to the Democrats. Clinton’s tax raises were moderate. Besides, by handing over economic policy to Wall Street that promoted free trade(that opened up Third World workers to US corporations on an epic scale), the rich could make more money than ever before. Also, as old grand ideologies were dead, the new-new liberalism was all about lifestyles and privileges. It wasn’t about workers rights or civil rights. It was about ‘empowerment through single motherhood’, ‘gays in the military’ later to be followed by ‘gay marriage’, ‘vagina!’ this or ‘vagina!’ that, rap music as ‘poetry’, taking TV shows seriously as art(as so many clowns are fooled by the ‘merits’ of WIRE, SOPRANOS, and MADMEN), intellectualizing the antics of madonna and Lady Gaga, and other such silliness. It was all about the narcissism of lifestyles of the urban privileged decadents. If the face of radical cinema in the 60s was BATTLE OF ALGIERS, what passed for ‘radical cinema’ in the 90s was MATRIX, a sort of Calvin Klein narcissistic-gay-fascist-marxist video game circus where characters were more conscious of their stylistic poses than conscientious of their ideological positions. It’s like 007 and Pontecorvo fused into an ecstasy tablet at a rave club. It is then not surprising that we ended up with a phony baloney like Obama as president. But what did the GOP have to offer as an alternative? The likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, and other dufuses. Though liberals always had more intellectual talent, American conservative had its share of brains and talents. So, what happened? Bill Buckley was a smart guy. Reagan, though no great brain, was a savvy politician and organizer of men. George H.W. Bush, though a limited politician, had a long illustrious career in government. But after eight yrs of Clinton, the best that the GOP could put forth was George W. Bush? To be sure, there are many smart neocon Jews working in the GOP, but their main concern seems to be how-to-hoodwink-dumb-white-conservatives-to-serve-Israel. Neocons don’t like smart and independent gentile conservatives(like Joseph Sobran) who might disagree with neoconservatism and mindless pro-Zionism, so they propped up mindless puppets like George W. Bush and John McCain.
Anyway, as the better educated Northern states turned Democratic and liberal, the GOP has been losing brain power year after year. It’s becoming the party of sneaky clever Jews and dumb naive white Christians. Though Democrats have mostly absorbed the Reaganist economic policy of ‘free trade’ and the economic hierarchy of ‘no limit for the superrich to become superricher’, they can always scapegoat the GOP for the problems of ‘greed’ and ‘inequality’ since the GOP is even more slavish toward the superrich, which is funny when we consider that 2/3 of the superrich are Democrats and have showered more money into Obama in both 2008 and 2012. So, Obama is the puppet of superrich Jews but attacks the GOP as the party of the superrich, and the GOP continues to stick by the superrich that favors Obama. It’s really surreal. But then, GOP is more slavish to Zionists even though most Jews remain Democratic and piss on conservatives. The GOP is so retarded that it really just needs to die. Imagine a scenario of a Jewish stud-pimp with a Democratic whore and Republican whore. The Jewish stud-pimp favors the Democratic whore while abusing the Republican whore, but the latter is ever more slavish to the Jewish stud-pimp and pledges to protect him from the Democratic whore who happens to be favored by the stud-pimp. Jews laugh at white conservative dummies. (Oddly enough, blue state ‘socialism’ favors the rich too. Blue state ‘socialism’ makes it harder to do business, which means only the most promising businesses with full backing of Wall Street and the protection of government will thrive. Also, environmentalism is very expensive, which means only the rich can afford it. Thus, there are likely to be jobs only for the highly talented and very wealthy and promising. Most people are hired by small businesses, but blue state ‘socialism’ makes it difficult to open small businesses that hire a lot of people of lesser talent. Thus, over time, small businesses go to red states and take the poor dummy masses with them. Socialism used to be ‘take from the rich and give to the poor’, but in America, it’s more about ‘you have to be rich to afford socialism’. In a state of Vermont with heavy regulations, it’s hard to start up just any kind of business, so it’s a state of mostly wealthy people who work in quality enterprises. It’s no wonder the black population of Vermont is only 1%. Meanwhile, red states with few regulations make it easy to start new businesses, and that attracts tons of Hispanics, blacks, poor whites, and etc.)

I remember a lot of bad movies from the 80s, mostly from advertising and/or reviews — as I thankfully missed most of them — , but MIRACLE MILE is one I never even heard of until recently. I never saw a PREDATOR movie, but I know what the series is about. I still haven’t seen PORKY’S, but I remember all the talk at school.
There is a problem with ‘refusing to see bad movies’, of course. Unless you’ve seen it, how do you really know if it’s bad? Most times, we make an ‘intelligent guess’ based on reviews, credits of talent and crew, subject material, and the general character of the work. For example, we don’t have to actually read most horror or romance novels to know what they’re about. We don’t have to see a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie to know what most cheapie slashers offer. Over 90% of the time, our guesses turn out to be correct. Recently, I finally watched a TRANSFORMERS movie our of curiosity, and it was just what I expected. More often than not, a movie you hope would be good turns out to be bad whereas a movie you expect to be bad almost always turn out to be bad — though, in some cases, you find yourself liking bad movies, and in my case, that would be the trashy RESIDENT EVIL series.
But there are times when something of value slips through your critical pre-cognition. A good example for me was PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES. I’d decided John Hughes was useless and couldn’t make a good movie. While PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES was formulaic with recycled gags and emotionally manipulative, it worked surprisingly well. Another movie that could easily have been lost in the shuffle was THE SURE THING. Released during the height of the ‘horny teenager movie’ craze, it could have been overlooked as just another dumb sex romp comedy. It turned out to be a first-rate romantic comedy comparable to Frank Capra’s IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.
Kevin Reynold’s WATERWORLD and John McTiernan’s 13th WARRIOR got terrible reviews and sunk at the box office, but I found them to be surprisingly good. After the mindless THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies, I didn’t want to watch another Peter Jackson movie and expected the worst when I was dragged by friends to see KING KONG, but I found myself loving every minute of it. It traded the phony pomp and grandeur of LOTR for movie magic and wonder. So, there is no fool-proof means of pre-evaluating the worth of movies. Not only do critics disagree all the time about everything — and even critics you admire have different tastes from yours — , but you carry your own baggage of presumptions and biases.
Given the currency of the ‘auteur theory’ — which has never gone out of circulation — , one thing that many cinephiles rely on is the name of the director. So, even if Scorsese were to make a stupid-sounding horror movie, many film lovers will be interested for its association with a renowned ‘auteur’. Whenever David Cronenberg works on a new project, the community of cinephiles awaits its release with great interest.
But what about a special movie made by someone who came out of nowhere and then went nowhere? A one-shot wonder? Most cinephiles probably never heard of Steve De Jarnatt, the director of MIRACLE MILE. Neither did I. Checking IMDB, it appears Jarnatt made two feature films back to back in the late 80s and the rest of his work was in TV. So, he never developed an ‘auteur’ following. MIRACLE MILE might have fallen through the cracks because it’s too strange and disturbing for a pop action-comedy-horror-sci-fi movie — it’s all over the map in terms of its genre-tic makeup — and too ‘trashy’ and populist to qualify as a ‘serious’ or ‘art’ film. Indeed, a whole bunch of films have failed for the same reason. VERTIGO was both too dark and too Hollywood. In its initial release, the regular Hitchcock fans didn’t get it, and the critical Zeitgeist wasn’t yet prepared to appreciate it as art. And BLADE RUNNER failed with both STAR WARS fans and most film critics. Fans didn’t get enough action, and critics saw too much special effects.+++++

This is where the ‘cult movie’ phenomenon comes into play to save the reputation of certain films. If in its initial offering, most people don’t ‘get’ the movie or stay away in droves, there may still develop a core community of devoted fans who obsess about the movie, and then gradually, by word of mouth, its reputation grows and grows into a cultural legend. This happens much more quickly now thanks to the internet — but if cultism has become so fast and easy, can it even be called cultism any more? To be sure, most cult movies are awful, and most cultists have something close to serious mental problems. The overwhelming bulk of cult movies happen to be freak shows, gross out horror, and other garbage. There’s John ‘toilet’ Waters who had the fat transvestite Divine eat dog shit on film. That such foul creatures are treated as royalty in the film community should tell you something about our Jew-controlled culture. Jews are masters, and dumb gentiles are their sheep and dogs. If Jews say a movie where some fat transvestite eats dog poo is culturally significant, it must be because we goy dummies can’t think for ourselves. We are at an impasse where most intellectual types are more offended by the idea of a normal man and a normal woman forming a family than a disgusting homo director making his actor eat doggy doo in front of a camera. The most famous cult movie is THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, surely one of the worst movies ever made. (Though trumped as THE special cult movie for ‘different’ people, the mass ritualistic conformity at the showings belied the conceit of its nonconformism. Individual freaks may be different from most people, but their ultimate desire/agenda is to come together to form their own conformist community of like-minded freaks, which is why gay communities or ‘radical’ college campuses are all so alike. In the film THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, a lonely oddball kid is led on a path of discovery of his ‘true self’ by befriending a homo kid and his slut-nut sister who are apparently superior to most kids because they not only attend but participate in the pageantry of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW every midnight. It’s all so narcissistic, not so much a case of "we are ‘different’, so leave us alone" but rather, "we are so superior to all the squares because we are so ‘different’." PERKS is merely the latest twist in the hoary cliche worn on the sleeves of movies like SOPHIE’S CHOICE, where some wide-eyed Southern boy learns the true meaning of self under the life lesson tutelage of some crazy Jew and a Polish woman who looks and sounds like Meryl Streep speaking English with a Polish accent.) So, there is no single kind of cult film community. Roughly speaking, there are two kinds of cultists: the dreamers and the revelers. Dreamers become part of a cult community by default whereas the revelers very consciously form and join the community. Many dreamers develop a kind of personal/private fixation with a certain film. The movie becomes for them something akin to what ‘Madeline’ becomes to Scotty in VERTIGO. They return to the film over and over and can’t help but notice that they are not the only one, and therefore, a kind of an accidental community of shared interests develops. It’s like the seekers in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Each seeker, in trying to make contact with visitors from another world, inadvertently bump into one another and form a certain bond.
In contrast, the cult appeal of movies like ROCKY HORROR is something closer to participatory theater, a Nuremberg Rally for freaks. It’s like a costume ball where you dress up as characters and throw toilet tissues at the screen when one of the characters screams, "Great Scott!" It’s like a Halloween Party every Friday night at the midnight screening.
The original WICKER MAN, in contrast, is a dreamer cult film. Everyone who watches that film for the first time feels a very private chill running down his spine as the man is engulfed in flames by a crazy happy cult — but the horror also raises the question of whether the sacrificial victim too is a member of a cult as a member of the Christian community that historically destroyed so many pagan communities, sometimes by burning people at the stake. ERASERHEAD is a dreamer movie, but because of its ‘drugginess’, it developed something of a revelatory audience as well, i.e. a whole bunch of people tripping on substances and sharing the experience. The first time I watched ERASERHEAD at a midnight screening, the first two rows were filled with people who seemed to be either on LSD or mushrooms or something. They were howling with laughter at stuff I didn’t find very funny. But when then the film got really intense near the end, they gazed at the screen in stone silence, and when it was all over, they sat absolutely still for awhile until one of the guys said, ‘wow’, and then they all stood up and walked out dazed as if they’d seen god as an aborted fetus. Because of its reputation as ‘one of those’ cult films, I’d long refused to see ERASERHEAD, so I was stunned by its singular greatness. Another great cult film is, of course, HAROLD AND MAUDE.
To be sure, any film, even a big hit with the mass audiences, can be a ‘cult film’ simply by attracting a devoted following; and, it’s equally true that a movie intended to be a cult film can utterly fail in that regard. SHOCK TREATMENT, the sequel to ROCKY HORROR, developed no cult following. Part of the appeal of ‘cult film’ is the politics of ownership, and this is why the best ‘cult films’ gain cult status through default. Cultism can’t be ‘forced’ on the audience, at least not in a blatant way. For example, a cult film could be an old and forgotten movie — it may have been popular once or in a different country. Thus, there’s an element of archaeology in its ‘rediscovery’. Thus, cult fans of such ‘rediscovered’ films feel a sense of ownership. Finders Keepers.
Or, the cult film can be relatively new but one that happened to be dismissed or unappreciated by most people, critics included. A good example is BLADE RUNNER. By ‘salvaging’ the ‘misunderstood masterpiece’ from neglect, the fans feel deserving of partial credit in having kept the flame alive. And as some fans try to make the movie known to the larger public, they even feel a sense of the messianic cult. But when a film is calculatingly made as a ‘cult film’ and imposed on the fans, it carries an air of officialdom. The fans don’t feel ‘empowered’ since their own efforts had nothing to do with its cult status. So, a film like SHOCK TREATMENT was doomed from the outset. Fans loved ROCKY HORROR because THEY made it what it became. SHOCK TREATMENT, in contrast, was foisted upon them. And GARDEN STATE by Zach Braff was a poor and painfully conscious attempt at another HAROLD AND MAUDE. It strains to be cultish, but you can’t fake real cult-appeal. Wes Anderson works in cult film mode, but his only success, in my mind, has been RUSHMORE but largely because it questions and has fun with its own obsessions. (One of the truest cult films in the past 20 yrs has been DONNIE DARKO, a film I have little feeling for, but I can understand how some weirdos with serious mental issues might feel a certain psychic rapport with it.) Another kind of cult film involves camp, something I don’t care for. I never cared for Ed Wood and the Mystery Science Theater thing.
Then, there’s cultism created by problems of distance and availability. Thus, a work that might be mainstream in one part of the world could be cultish in a different part. A good example of this would be anime, which has long been mainstream in Japan. Though anime became moderately successful in the US, there was a time, especially in the 80s and early 90s, when anime culture used to be ‘underground’, sustained by fans trading bootleg videotapes in college towns and through specialty magazines. Prior to the wide availability of anime in the 90s, the only anime works I was familiar with were LAPUTA CASTLE IN THE SKY by Hayao Miyazaki and the cyberpunk AKIRA.

What about stuff like HARRY POTTER and TWILIGHT? To the extent that they are about dark magic and self-enclosed communities — a school for witch-training or a clan of vampires — , there is a certain cultish appeal to them, but they’ve become mainstream mega-successes. Can something so popular be cultish? Could there be a mass-cult film? I suppose a mass-cult-film would be like ‘alternative rock’, which is really mainstream rock marketed as ‘alternative’.
Cultism also differentiates between core devotees and mainstream audiences. So, even if a work is very mainstream, like STAR TREK and STAR WARS, the core cultists don’t merely watch the movie but ‘live’ in its universe. For most of us, the Force in STAR WARS is just a neat idea. For the true blue cultist, it might as well be the spirit that governs the universe. Most people watch STAR WARS once or again once in awhile. The core cultist has to watch it over and over and over and maybe even write ‘fanfics’. They have to attend STAR WARS conventions and dress up as Jabba the Hutt or Bubba Fats. And then, there are STAR TREK fans, the absolute dregs of humanity. (In a way, the most remarkable thing George Lucas and Steven Spielberg did in the late 70s was mainstream-ize cultism. The advantage of cultism was having a devoted following, but cultists tended to belong to small and separate communities apart from the mainstream. The advantage of mainstream-ism was reaching a wide audience, but mainstream tastes tended to change too often and too fast, so what is cool-and-popular today may not be cool-and-popular tomorrow. But if cultism and mainstreamism could be fused into one, then popularity can attain the lasting power of fanaticism. If Tolkien had done it in literature, why not do it in the movies? STAR WARS wasn’t just a space fantasy but a ‘spiritual’ vision that enticed its fans with the idea of the Force, and so, generations of kids got hooked to it. And Spielberg’s true breakthrough was CLOSE ENCOUNTERS than JAWS. While JAWS was a smash hit, its main focus of interest was some rubbery shark, and there haven’t been many cults around sharks. But there had long been various fanatical cults about UFO’s, and Spielberg tapped into this cultist obsession but turned paranoid paranormal paraphernalia into a mass opiate for everyone. It’s a story about a guy who goes totally crazy — and even leaves his own family — , but it was sold as a feel-good family movie. And then, Spielberg made a kiddie version of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS with E.T., another combination of cultism and populism. Cultism and populism were generally polar opposites in the cultural sphere, but Lucas and Spielberg made the two stick as one, indeed much more successfully than the L. Ron Hubbard and his acolytes did with Scientology. Better to sell admission tickets than offer auditing sessions.)
Paradoxically, the internet has both expanded the possibilities of the cult film phenomena and diminished its potency, but then, this process began with the advent of the home video. Prior to the VCR, cult fans had no choice but to return to revival or ‘art house’ theaters to watch their favorite film whenever possible. A community of the heart is no match for the community of the feet. It’s like a community of churchgoers feel more involved than a community of religious people who pray to God at home. Once the VCR came along, many cultists preferred to watch their favorite movies at home. VCR revived many films — BLADE RUNNER got its second wind on video — , but it undermined the film community of the feet at college campuses and revival houses. Just when I was becoming a follower of ‘film as art’, revival houses and campus films were closing all around in the early 80s. To be sure, VCR or no VCR, ‘film as art’ was no longer attracting the kind of attention it once did. And a similar trend was happening in popular music. Rock concerts continued to thrive — because there was no way to replicate the excitement of a live show in the home — , but rock music culture became less intense and interesting. In the 60s, rock music took on aspects of art, personal expression, spirituality, and etc. but by the 80s and beyond, it had little meaning beyond fun, partying, and hedonism. Maybe, the rock culture of the 80s was simply becoming more honest as the 60s rock culture had been full of illusions and false hopes. Even so, the culture seemed phonier and shallower in the 80s.
Now, with the internet, anyone can watch ‘cult films’ from all over the world, but the instant knowledge and accessibility have diminished the aura that had once surrounded movie cultism. You can just recline on your back in your bedroom and have it all come to you with a push of button.
The internet led me to MIRACLE MILE, but can any new ‘cult film’ gain the mythic allure of HAROLD AND MAUDE, ERASERHEAD, WICKER MAN, and regrettably ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW in the age of immediate downloads and worldwide social networking?
Incidentally, though ROCKY HORROR is the biggest cult movie ever, its lasting appeal seems more questionable than ever because audience participation was the heart-and-soul of its notoriety. Like the works of Andy Warhol, the true value of ROCKY HORROR cannot be understood apart from the social phenomena that surrounded it. On its own, it’s as worthless and pointless as any ‘painting’ by Warhol. A movie like MIRACLE MILE or BLADE RUNNER has value regardless of how it’s seen, whereas ROCKY HORROR has entertainment value only with a large audience of like-minded people acting like idiots and degenerates. It’s like there’s no point to partying alone when no one else comes to the party. Besides, who needs ROCKY HORROR on the silver screen when our whole society and mainstream culture has been Rocky Horrored with this madness called ‘LGBT’ lunacy, ‘gay pride’ parades, and gay fantasy galore in print, movies, and TV? Jewish control of society has Rocky Horrored and Cabareted mainstream culture. Given that the abnormal has become the ‘new normal’, the very idea of ‘cult’ may seem a bit quaint. Whatever ‘shock element’ ROCKY HORROR may have had, who cares when kids today can watch stuff like SOUTH PARK and FAMILY GUY on mainstream TV? With the envelope having been pushed every which way, the more personal directors today try to ‘seal’ the envelope. That is one of the appeals of Wes Anderson’s films. As a kind of mild cinematic variations of J.D. Salinger’s vision, Anderson clings to or tries to restore a kind of innocence and quaintness. Similar kind of whimsy is to be found in Whit Stillman and Richard Linklater. BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET are the anti-thesis of the 80s ‘horny teenager movie’. In a world of too much libertine-ism, maybe the truly special thing is a way to find one’s way back to old-fashioned romanticism. But you can’t go home again, so you look for roundabout ways through fantasy and whimsy. This could also be part of the appeal of HARRY POTTER and TWILIGHT. HARRY POTTER recreates the vision of an orderly society of clean-cut school kids. And TWILIGHT makes girls believe in courtship and romance again. (If HARRY POTTER cleaned up witchcraft into fun-for-every-child, TWILIGHT defanged and sterilized the vampire tale into safe-for-the-whole-family, which makes it more ‘subversive’ in some ways.)

MIRACLE MILE was likely overlooked by many people for its ‘teen comedy’ and ‘suspense thriller’ trappings. When I caught the trailer on youtube, I thought of GOTCHA with Andrew McCarthy, another movie I avoided when released(and watched only recently out of curiosity) and felt certain I wouldn’t like it. Another drawback may have been the subject of nuclear attack. Mix comedy, thriller, and nuclear, and most people are gonna think ‘cheap thrills’. Besides, it’d been done already with WAR GAMES and THE TERMINATOR, and after stuff like THE DAY AFTER, people probably got sick of the whole idea, and besides, the Cold War was winding down in 1988. Ebert and Siskel, in their review, seem to inordinately discuss the film as a nuclear apocalypse thriller, though Ebert, in mentioning its surreal quality and likeness to AFTER HOURS, has a better grasp of what Jarnatt was after. (By the way, Ebert/Siskel’s review gives away too much in terms of ‘spoilers’, and I recommend you see the movie first.)

In terms of looks, style, and references, MIRACLE MILE is very much an 80s film, but I would compare it more with RISKY BUSINESS and BLUE VELVET than with AFTER HOURS. Though Jarnatt wasn’t the master director of Scorsese’s caliber — and though AFTER HOURS has more stylistic kinks — , MIRACLE MILE is the greater movie. How can a movie that is less good be more great? Because greatness in creativity isn’t always about technical finesse and/or master craftsmanship. Sometimes, the depth of vision and passion can carry the ‘less better’ work to greater heights. AFTER HOURS is well-written-acted-directed, but it’s basically NYers patting themselves on the back about how wonderfully neurotic they are. It’s a rather empty celebration of New York as yuppie/bohemian neon-lit Dante’s Inferno that is ultimately too glib and facile to carry much meaning. Indeed, Scorsese’s bravura directing and slick professionalism are somewhat detrimental to the film’s loose structure and anarchic spirit because the intrusive fingerprints of a master-auteur are authoritatively all over the film; Bunuel might have done something infinitely more interesting with the script, focusing more on sensibility than on style.
The main character is supposed to be lost and trapped in NY, his own city, but we are always aware of Scorsese’s sure hand over the material, so everything feels ‘under control’. Likewise, HUGO failed because Scorsese’s impeccable control over the minutest detail prevented the fairytale elements to breathe freely and come to life of their own accord, a mistake Ang Lee avoided with LIFE OF PI. Another problem is we can’t help feeling that Scorsese’s boundless talents have been rather wasted on a material that is, at best, amusing. It’s as if Scorsese instinctively understood that the script, though clever, was without substance, so his only recourse was to dress it up with excessive style. On the other hand, I suppose one could argue that the mismatch between the sheer chaos of the story and the sure control over the style embodied the dichotomy of the modern yuppie who works in a sterile laboratory environment but plays on the wild bohemian side. AFTER HOURS would have worked more or less the same way even if directed by a hack. It’s essentially a work of the writer and actors, and Scorsese’s touch as director sort of gets in the way; it’s like a master chef trying to make too much of a fast food recipe. Though AFTER HOURS is twisted, it isn’t really dark or disturbing — it was made to elicit laughter rather like sitcoms — , and no amount of effort on Scorsese’s part to personalize the material can elevate it beyond what it is.
AFTER HOURS is essentially a series of gags, one more forgettable than the next; and the lead character has no inner soul, no motor. He’s just a hapless piece of paper, rather like a $20 bill that flies out of the cab, being blown this way and that. In contrast, there is something intensely dark and morbid about Rupert Pupkin of KING OF COMEDY, all the more disturbing — in some ways more than Travis Bickle of TAXI DRIVER — because he wants to be a comedian and make people laugh. AFTER HOURS is essentially a tourist pastiche of NY neurosis for non-New Yorkers. It flashes from one wackiness to another. The bland and colorless yuppie who makes decent money wants to try out the ‘wilder side’ of NY, and the inhabitants of the wilder bohemian side either indulge in shallow pop art or are obsessed about protecting their material belongings from thieves. I suppose it implies that NY is such a crazy place that even NYers are strangers in their own city and to themselves, but while it was certainly fun — at least on first viewing — , there’s nothing there beyond the gags. It’s about the fashion of NY than passion of NY. Scorsese’s powerful style needs to wrestle with depth and passion to justify its obsessive energy. It’s like a wrestler needs to wrestle with another wrestler. If he grapples with a gay ballet dancer, it just looks silly, and AFTER HOURS, like the billiard balls in COLOR OF MONEY, glides rather than grasps. Consider Scorsese’s direction in COLOR OF MONEY, CAPE FEAR, BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, and THE DEPARTED. It’s intensely busy but with stuff either too shallow or trashy that isn’t worth the effort. Lesser material calls for lighter treatment or may serve as the basis for further imagination. Scorsese’s forte as director was as an interpreter of other people’s original visions. If he ended up with stupid material, his talent, no matter how wizard-like, couldn’t save it. Someone like Welles or Kubrick could rework stupid material into something original and formidable — as with LADY FROM SHANGHAI, TOUCH OF EVIL, THE KILLING, or THE SHINING — , but Scorsese lacked that level of imagination.

The nuclear war scenario of MIRACLE MILE mainly serves as narrative pretext. It is neither the central subject nor theme of the story. It serves as a trigger to drive the plot and passion; it also serves as a bridge connecting the themes of life and death with themes of time in both its instant and infinite dimensions. The nuclear holocaust has no pretensions of being realistic, and the whole thing has a feel of a dream and could well be a dream. Jarnatt, as a typical Hollywood liberal, may have been worried about crazy Reagan pushing the button, but by 1988, the Cold War had wound down. Like LA JETEE by Chris Marker — by which it was almost certainly inspired — , it’s a work that pores through the fractures of the present to glimpse the past and the future. And on that level, it has something in common with Terrence Malick’s TREE OF LIFE, one of the most ambitious — and stunningly stupid — films ever made. Though TREE OF LIFE has its share of detractors, it has many more admirers, and it makes me wonder about the supposed ironic sophistication of liberals — though, to be sure, I’m sure some conservative idiots bought it as well. Liberals generally laugh at how gullible conservatives are about such issues and themes as ‘God and Country’, Creationism, and etc., and I too wonder about people who could possibly choose the likes of George W. Bush to represent their movement. On the other hand, do most people really have a choice? ‘Conservative leaders’ aren’t so much chosen by the people as foisted upon them by the rich elites. Politician-whores pander to the likes of Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers in order to gain financial advantage over other candidates, and then, the people must choose between the likes of Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. As for candidates like Ron Paul, they are not only snubbed by the rich and powerful who own the GOP but brushed aside by the MSM controlled by liberal Zionists who won’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t get on his knees to kiss Jewish ass. Liberals love to scoff at conservative dummies because they see themselves as well-educated, rational, hip, factual, ironic, skeptical, creative, cultured, ‘radical’, ‘transgressive’, ‘subversive’, ‘dissenting’, and etc. But then, you really have to wonder. What about the whole Camelot mythology around John F. Kennedy? Take Oliver Stone. He pretends to be a hard-nosed digger of truth, but he downright mythologizes men like Kennedy. He even seems to have a hardon for Joseph Stalin! But then, liberals have a long history of being harshly critical of White America yet being blind to the horrors of communism. So many liberals and leftists have nitpicked about everything wrong about America while glossing over the millions killed by communism. Liberals, who denounced the US government, swallowed lie after lie fed to them by communist regimes and their useful idiots. And just look at the neo-religions that have developed around Jews and MLK. Liberals practically get down on their knees and worship Jews as Jew-sus and praise MLK as bigger than Jesus when, in fact, MLK was a foul thug and cheat. Consider the Oprah phenomenon or the sight of all those liberal fools getting thrills up their legs thinking about Obama. Consider how easily most liberals have been fooled that fecal penetration between homosexual men is ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’. So much for skepticism and rational thought. Liberals really seem to believe that two guys sticking their sexual organs into each other’s fecal tunnels is the biological and moral equivalent of real sex. And most liberals seem blind to the fact that the very people who yammer most about ‘equality’ — the Jews and homos — are, by far, the most privileged people of society. So much for liberal understanding of irony. And liberals seem blind to the fact that new urban policy favors the liberal urban rich that keep getting richer and richer. And think of the absurdity of such thing as ‘slut pride’. Also, consider the trendy idea of being ‘transgressive’. It might as well be called ‘trans-passive’ since most so-called ‘transgressive’ people simply conform to the ideology, attitudes, values(or lack thereof), and positions of their peers in highschools, universities, work places, government, and etc. In a society and culture that is so Jew-centric, MLK-worshiping, pro-gay(to the point of blacklisting anyone who doesn’t get on with the ‘gay marriage’ movement), porn-dominated, interracist, and etc, what is so ‘transgressive’ about being ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’, especially if you grew up in a community where your parents, teachers, politicians, friends, relatives, and co-workers think and feel as you do and indeed spoon-fed you ‘transgressivism’ since childhood? Being for porn in Muslim society might be ‘transgressive’ but how is it transgressive in NY or LA? Being a neo-Marxist might be transgressive in Nazi Germany, but how is it cutting-edge at Harvard or Yale or Stanford where neo-post-quasi-crypto-Marxist yammering is par for the course? How can ‘trangressive’ be transgressive when even a nice bland white bread white girl like Dana Stevens claims to be, uh, ‘transgressive’? Yeah, she’s so ‘transgressive’ that she’s been admitted to elite colleges, shoe-horned into a choice job at, and invited to mouth off her PC cliches at top cultural institutions. Today, bland white girls in cities and suburbs are raised to think and feel like Dana Stevens. She is a Stepford Radical, a toybot child, the Tina Fey of film criticism. She may see herself as the new Pauline Kael, but she hasn’t got the guts to go against the grain. Kael was a Jewish liberal, but she wrote things that offended and appalled liberals(and Jews). Stevens the bland white bread white girl has been programmed to spout ‘trangressive’ pieties that are the iron dogma in college campuses all across America. Her idea of showing off her ‘transgressive’ street-cred is telling us that she took some guy to see IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES and freaked him out. Well, blow us down, we are sooooooo impressed! What a phony baloney.
‘Transgression’ has meaning only within certain contexts. If you ‘transgress’ in accordance with everyone around you, what are you ‘transgressing’ against? It’s about as meaningful as Red Guards in China during the Cultural Revolution all ‘rebelling’ exactly alike by reading the Little Red Book and singing praises to Mao. Mao said ‘To Rebel Is Justified’, but he meant everyone better rebel as he ordered them to — and no one better rebel against him. Same thing with liberal ‘transgression’. It has its officially stamped-and-approved ‘enemies list’, and the schmorky likes of Dana Stevens are allowed to transgress only against such targets. If she ever discussed Jewish power and its abuses — or the reality of black genetics as James Watson has done — , she would lose her gig at in a second. Like all of her kind, she’s just a conformist coward who thinks she’s hot stuff because she follows the correct official line of ‘transgression’. Another such phony is Kim Morgan who, like every member of her brainwashed bimbo gentile kind, mouths the same BS about the evil ‘Hollywood blacklist’. Does it ever occur to the likes of Kim Morgan and Dana Stevens that blacklist still continues and is much worse than when McCarthy and HUAC were around? What chance would anyone associated with the KKK or the neo-Nazis have in Hollywood? Aren’t such people blacklisted? If it’s morally justified to blacklist people with such ‘odious’ and ‘noxious’ beliefs, why was it wrong to blacklist people who praised and admired Stalin, who only created a totalitarian monster state and killed about 10-20 million?

Furthermore, all this stuff about ‘transgression’ and ‘subversion’ sound so much like a vain narcissistic fetish, rather like the thrill some silly girls get out of playing witches, especially officially sanctioned witches. When official witches carry out the witch hunts, the world is indeed upside down. It’s a shortcut for dull and bland conformists to feel special and ‘dangerous’. Dana Stevens as Dana Stevens is just a white bread female film geek, no more or no less. But if she yammers about how transgressive she is, maybe she is a ‘dangerous’ radical of our age. Dana Stevens is the film critic version Amanda Marcotte, another twit who writes for, a mainstream upper middle class ‘chic’ online magazine. Marcotte’s fifteen minutes of fame(or shame) involves her sleeping with a porn star, writing about it, and bitching that no one high-fived her for ‘conquest’. These silly bitches are so privileged and bored that they go looking for things to ‘transgress’ against — and then beg for approval. When their peers express boredom or indifference to their personal accounts of ‘transgression’, they get all flustered and wonder, "gee whiz, why aren’t people either ‘shocked’ or full of praise for my ‘bad girl’ antics?" Marcotte wanted people to be either shocked by her slut-with-porn-star revelation or high-five her as a liberated/empowered woman. For someone who claims to be a ‘strong individualistic feminist’, she sure depends on the responses of others to justify her pitiful existence. Only a silly white bread white girl would think watching porn is any kind of ‘transgression’ these days. Such silly twits are favored, groomed, and hired by the current culture(that is controlled by Jews), but they think they’re cutting-edge transgressors. Of course, Jews who hired them are laughing at them behind their backs. Jews want white gentile girls to be anti-white, anti-normality, anti-morality, and anti-sense. Jews encourage white girls to be stupidly ‘transgressive’ — within confines of Political Correctness — and then promote such girls as useful idiot tools and models to stepfordize other white girls into inane silly creatures. A truly transgressive female of our age is someone like the HBD Chick, but she has to hide her identity because she would likely be blacklisted from whatever she does. Harvard is supposed to be a place for academic freedom, but when a student named Stephanie Grace sent a private email — yes a PRIVATE email — that discussed racial differences, the Jewish dean of law school initiated a campus wide hate hour against her; and no one among liberals or conservatives came to the defense of her freedom. Of course, the likes of Stevens and Marcotte surely would have joined the Politically Correct Establishment in silencing and bullying Ms. Grace for her ideas. Indeed, Miss Piggy Lena Dunham got so much flak for her racial remark concerning the TV show GIRLS that she decided to woo the critics by adding some interracist jungle fever garbage(with a Republican Negro!) to her show; I must say I feel sorry for the bro. These silly white girls are hysterical and ludicrous. If they really love diversity so much, I advise them to move to Detroit. They settle in whitopias and gain privileged positions and are feted by the major institutions, but they wanna lecture us about being ‘transgressive’.

At any rate, being ‘transgressive’ is neither here nor there. What matters is one’s search for truth. There is no single emotional or moral truth, and even scientific truth changes with new discoveries. Life has meaning in our search for truth with courage and honesty, and one doesn’t search for truth just to be ‘transgressive’. Along the way, he or she may come upon something that society may deem as ‘transgressive’. But such ‘transgression’ has value only as the byproduct of one’s search for the truth. But seeking transgression simply to be ‘transgressive’ is trite and shallow, a narcissistic and petulant way to draw attention to oneself. But it’s especially pointless when one’s so-called ‘transgression’ actually has the full approval of the powers-that-be that hire you, reward you, and promote you. Dana Stevens’s ‘transgression’ has about as much bite as the white liberal ‘war on white privilege’. Notice that whenever white liberal elites yammer about ‘white privilege’, their own privilege — ostensibly to fight ‘white privilege’ — keeps growing. Rich white liberals invoke the evil of ‘white privilege’ to wage class war on less privileged whites in order to boost their own white privilege. Just look at the likes of Bill Clinton and the Hillary Clinton. They throw poorer whites into the jaws of black criminality and thuggery and into the competitive trap teeming with hordes of cheapie immigrant labor, but they themselves rake in tens of millions of dollars. Look at Dana Stevens and other privileged white and Jewish liberals at They bitch and whine about all those rednecks in the South when, in fact, they themselves are the biggest privileged weasels of the new globalist order.

There is meaning in seeking the truth. The truth may be ‘transgressive’ within the context of the existing order, but the truth is the truth, and therein lies its value. Being transgressive for transgression’s sake is too easy. It’s like the members of the Pussy Riot in Russia shoving a raw chicken up their vaginas. It’s ‘transgressive’ alright, but what, if any, moral, biological, social, or sexual value does it have? Maybe Stevens and Marcotte can pull such stunt to be ‘transgressive’ and then high-five one another. Anyone can be ‘transgressive’. Just spray swastikas on a synagogue. Just yell ‘nigger’ in the middle of Martin Luther King boulevard. Actually, that’s more like suicide. Go naked and run into a mosque and piss on the carpet. Or Dana Stevens can eat a lot of stinky French cheese and boiled cabbage and break wind at her next editorial meeting at Slate. Or Amanda Marcotte can strip and stick a dildo into her cunt in front of her workers. All so ‘transgressive’. But what value do they have?
Galileo’s ‘transgression’ had value because he was seeking the truth. He wasn’t just some silly child beating pots and pans to be the center of attention. Likewise with Darwin and his theory of evolution. He was trying to be truthful, not troublesome. He didn’t go looking for trouble, but troubles came to him because his truth was upsetting to some people. Same with Thomas Mann’s criticism of Nazism. Such individuals were seeking the truth and sometimes found themselves at odds with authorities or mainstream society. They weren’t callously and petulantly seeking transgression-for-transgression’s sake just to call attention to themselves. Dana Stevens is so stupid that she can only understand Nagisa Oshima’s IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES only as a ‘radical’ act against social repression/oppression. While there is a ‘bad boy’ streak to the film, there are other considerations that Stevens conveniently overlooks: the extreme commitment to passion and violence between the man and the woman in the film had its parallels in Japanese militarism in Asia. Whether one blindly and ‘radically’ gives oneself over to total pleasure/sex or to total destruction/violence, there isn’t much difference in terms of their extreme psychology. Japanese militarism was brutal and rigid, but it was not sexually repressed. If anything, the literal rape of Nanking was given green light by the authorities, and the whole thing with ‘comfort women’ took place under the wing of the military. Whether it’s the cult of death of the samurai — especially the ritual of cutting open the abdomen via seppuku — or the cult of eros with the woman strangulating the man and then cutting off his penis in IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, there are as many similarities as contrasts. Indeed, it’s all part of the amoral fascination with the aesthetics of sex and death that has been a part of Japanese culture. If anything, the woman who killed and Lorena-bobbitted the man was much celebrated in Japanese society, not least because such deviance was partly in tune with the Japanese notion that anything done with pure commitment and without hesitation or second thought has poetic and ‘spiritual’ value. The deed itself was thought to be secondary to the purity of one’s commitment to the deed. Also, Japanese culture has never lacked for sexual perversity in its popular culture — and indeed has been far ahead of the curve than the US — , but I fail to see how that made Japan any more ‘progressive’ or ‘liberated’ than other societies. There are all sorts of prostitution services, all sorts of porn, and all sorts of other whacky things in Japan, but they mostly make Japanese society silly and disgusting. When sexual matters are handled by a genuine artist like Shohei Imamura in the search for truth, we learn something about the life and soul of Japan — as well as some universal truths.
But what is to be gained by the sight of a woman stuffing her vagina with an egg, ‘laying’ it, and then making her lover eat it in IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, I have no idea. Or how about the scene where the guy has to go wee wee while humping the woman, but she tells him to pee inside her, and so he does. It’s just retarded. My guess is that Stevens felt kinda boring as a nice middle class bland white girl, and she felt this need to prove that she is sooooo ‘different’ and ‘transgressive’. So, she latched onto the sexual tomfoolery of IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES and made a big stink about it. Indeed, her need to take her boyfriends to see the movie parallels Amanda Marcotte’s need to tell others that she slept with a porn star. If both of them are indeed confident of what they are, why must they pull such stunts to win others’ attention? It used to be that little boys stuffed frogs into girl’s dresses to get attention. Today, the likes of Stevens and Marcotte yammer about having seen porny stuff in the hope of freaking people out or winning their approval, or both. What a couple of phony baloneys.
Interestingly enough, the only reason IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES got in hot water in Japan was because of Japan’s then ridiculous rules about the depiction of sexuality. Oshima’s film was made when 80% of films produced in Japan was porn, so sexuality on screen was nothing new in Japan. The problem was that Japanese law prohibited the showing of pubic hair. So, the problem with Oshima’s film was not that it was pornographic but pornographic in the incorrect way. But then, such extreme adherence to rules and regulations is so Japanese. Indeed, IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES isn’t so much about free love and free passion as about a strict ritual of love taken to its logical extreme of death and mutilation in near ritual fashion. It isn’t about sexual freedom but sexual fanaticism no less insane that what the Japanese military pulled in Nanking. The strangulation and penis-lopping of the man might as well be a kind of kinky harakiri or horny-kiri. Once the crazy man and crazy woman embark on their crazy sexual mission, they are no longer having sex in the name of freedom and pleasure but in the name of fanatical commitment to sex, death, mutilation, and notoriety as some kind of demented purist ritual. Stevens is such a bullshitter — and not even much of a ball-slitter. For one thing, I find it incredibly selfish for her to yammer on and on about her own boring sexual foibles when she’s writing an obituary of a filmmaker. The way she goes on, you’d think Oshima made the film just so she could freak out her boyfriend and flash her ‘trangressive’ credentials. It’s rather like Obama eulogizing another Japanese(American) guy, Daniel Inoue, by remarking that "it was all about me." How did we create such self-centric nitwits? Besides, aren’t liberals supposed to be the ones who can see and understand the world outside their own egos and skin? I guess not. In a way, silly Stevens was trying to write her own version of Kael-does-LAST-TANGO-IN-PARIS. Kael’s review of LAST TANGO was on the extreme side, but we can understand her passion given her feelings about her own mid-life crisis and her lifelong hots for Marlon Brando. And LAST TANGO, for all its silliness and excess, does inch toward an emotional climax that really delivers — the scene with Brando beside his dead wife. Though notorious for its sex and nudity, LAST TANGO’s real power derives from its baring of naked emotions. In contrast, there’s nothing beyond the physical and the insectoidean fanatical in IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES. Worse, like Pasolini’s stupid SALO, the sexual acts range from boring to laughable. Indeed, soon after all the fuss stirred up by the ‘controversy’, it was mostly forgotten as something of an embarrassment. Though Oshima complained of the charges brought against the film, it was disingenuous since he was looking for notoriety, without which the film wouldn’t have amounted to much. It’s like Jonathan Rosenbaum rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of ‘puritanical’ Americans squealing in horror at Catherine Breillat’s new porno-art-film. He was just itching to mouth off and pontificate on how the French are so ahead of Americans who still can’t deal with sexuality blah blah, but when Americans were unfazed and just ignored the latest Breillat film, the jerk was standing stupidly with his limp dick hanging out with nothing to screw. Rosenbaum is, of course, someone addicted to masturbating to his own moral narcissism and cultural superiority. You see, he spent so much time in Paris. He’s so far ahead of us. What’s considered reactionary in France may be progressive for us rubes in the US. Even so, Rosenbaum has a genuine voice like no other and has some of the deepest insights of any film critic — and he doesn’t have to play the tacky role of wild man like Slavoj Zizek to garner attention. In contrast, Dana Stevens is dull, dull, dull. She’s a nothing, and she knows it. She knows she was favored in the media because she’s a good little doggy, has a pleasant girl-next-door face, and offends no one. But there’s the very problem. ‘Progressives’ like to see themselves as ‘transgressive’, but if you offend no one, how can you be ‘transgressive’? One way to be ‘transgressive’ is to prop up the bogeyman of ‘all them rednecks down south’ — as if all the problems of race and income inequality in ‘blue states’ are the result of redneck bigotry. Do Jews in NY and gays in San Fran own lots more wealth than Negroes and Hispanics because rednecks somehow arranged things that way? Another way to be transgressive is for silly white girls like Stevens and Marcotte to yammer about how far they’ve deviated from their ‘puritanical’ past. So, it’s either yelling ‘vagina’, having sex with porn stars and writing articles about it, or turning an obituary of a filmmaker into a journal of one’s sexual experience with men and movies. But, it’s all so bogus, so by-the-numbers. Whatever one thinks of Kael’s piece on LAST TANGO, it was really from her heart and poon — though perhaps not so much from her head — , whereas Stevens’s yammering is entirely from her gurgly constricted throat and giggly thin lips. You can hear her asinine voice throughout the review.
TREE OF LIFE and MIRACLE MILE make for interesting contrasts because they cover similar grounds in different ways. MIRACLE MILE playfully winds its ideas through genre conventions whereas TREE OF LIFE is a full-blown art film striving for profundity at every second, as if Cinemalick is Profundity 24 times a second.
The difference is like between Cronenberg’s RABID and A DANGEROUS METHOD, similar in theme but opposite in approach. RABID belongs to horror genre whereas A DANGEROUS METHOD is an earnest attempt at serious art film. In the case of both MIRACLE MILE/TREE OF LIFE and RABID/THE DANGEROUS METHOD, the genre work is more interesting and beguiling than the ‘art film’. This isn’t to state a rule that the genre format is preferable to ‘art form’, especially as the conveyer of serious themes. Rather, the problem of making an art film is it’s very demanding and comes with higher expectations. When an attempted art film fails, it can really fail, as is the case with TREE OF LIFE. Because of its highfalutin claims and earnest conviction in terms of truth, originality, power & beauty, and/or sublimity, an art film cannot merely work on the level of shlock. It must succeed as art, no easy feat. Even genuine artists rarely reach the summit more than a few times. There are many meanings of ‘art’, and in the most generic sense, any creative endeavor is an art. So, even crayon drawing of kindergarteners is art. But another meaning of ‘art’ is restricted to works that attain something of great and sublime truth, beauty, brilliance, power and/or originality. In cinema, even most great directors made only a handful of films that could be called ‘art’ according to this strict hierarchical and discriminating definition. Peckinpah made several great films, but how many were real works of art? THE WILD BUNCH and maybe STRAW DOGS. I would credit five for Scorsese: MEAN STREETS, TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL, GOODFELLAS, and CASINO, but of course, the credit must be shared with writers and actors. Tarkovsky hit the high note twice with ANDREI RUBLEV and STALKER. Malick with BADLANDS and maybe DAYS OF HEAVEN. When a work achieves genuine status as genuine work of art, it’s in a world of its own. But when the attempt at serious art falls flat, it can be far more painful than most genre works.
This is especially true in the modern era when the thrust of art came to be associated with individuality, originality, and/or truth. Prior to modern art, even high art adhered to certain long standing rules(and largely tended to be conservative in preserving and continuing the traditions of excellence and craft handed down from the past). Before genre became a formula of mass entertainment, it was a style of high art. Consider the genre of portrait painting that could only be afforded by a handful of aristocrats and rich merchants. Landscape paintings also belonged to a certain genre. In classical music, there were many established genres and forms, and composers were expected to adhere to the rules. Before the rise of modernism, only gradually did styles and fashions change in the art world. And the aristocracy was more interested in well-established standards of beauty, refinement, and power in art than truth or individual eccentricities. Statues were modeled on beautiful bodies in dignified or striking poses. Paintings were of kings, aristocrats, and rich folks garbed in fancy dress designed by fruiters. Traditionally, art was less interested in truth since truth could be upsetting to the social order. Most poems were about ‘loftier’ emotions, such as love among the aristocrats. Most plays were about great men and women, or grand themes. Most novels were romantic or about manners centered around social proprieties. They did convey a truth of a kind, of course, but, more often than not, in metaphorical, allegorical, mythical, or some such way.

Art was for the rich and often by the rich or those favored by the rich. Modernist art posed a challenge to all this. But even before modernism, the rise of realism and naturalism, along with combative ideologies, turned art into a weapon and tool. Given the long history of Christian Art, the idea of art as propaganda or value system was hardly new. Even so, art had long been the instrument of the powers-that-be, and it purveyed the official belief systems of the domain. It was much the same in Hindu India, Muslim Arabia, and Confucian China. Art conveyed values but mostly official values. The American Revolution and the French Revolution didn’t much change the traditional concept of art. Though Americans rejected the English King and the French killed theirs, the new order used art in much the same way as the old system had done: to serve the official ideology. Thus, most paintings and sculptures of the American and French Revolutionary period show men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robespierre, and Napoleon in bright colors and heroic poses along the lines of neo-classicism. One form of officialdom gave way to another. In contrast, realism and naturalism sought to expose the grimy and gritty reality beneath the surfeit of idealism and behind the illusions of romanticism. Thus, realism and naturalism posed a danger to all forms of officialdom. Every official order tries to impose a cosmetic vision of itself. It seeks to depict its leaders as god-like, its streets as clean and safe, its trains as arriving on time, its workers as well-fed and happy, its farmers as joyous salt of the earth. Against such idealism was realism and naturalism that sought to lay bare the rough reality and its mechanisms. But, realism had three problems for the would-be radicals of the new era. Formalistically, it was too limited and slavish to what was seen with the naked eye. Intellectually, it was too accessible to the masses and lacked the avant-garde edge. Even uneducated boobs could look at a realist painting and ‘get it’. Politically, it could easily morph into a new form of idealism and be appropriated by the state. Governments everywhere — communist, fascist, capitalist, democratic, etc. — came to adopt forms of realism to serve their official line. Consider Socialist Realism under Stalin, the preferred ‘art for the people’. Or the realist-style paintings of German farmers under Nazism. And the works of Norman Rockwell blurred the line between idealism and realism. Most were about ordinary Americans living ordinary lives, but elements were arranged so that everything seemed ‘significant’ with just the right glow of meaning. Therefore, cultural rebels realized that realism could just as well be the tool of the powers-that-be as idealism had been. After all, realism wasn’t really reality but merely a depiction of reality so as to create the impression — often false impression — of reality. In a way, realism could be even less true and more deceptive than classicist idealism for no one mistook idealism for reality whereas one could easily be hoodwinked into believing that realism was presenting actual reality — this is all the more obvious today when CGI can create fake images that are more-real-than-real; the computerized tiger in LIFE OF PI is absolutely amazing. Also, the sheer force of realism could be used to scare people into acquiescence: the violence in PASSION OF THE CHRIST and SCHINDLER’S LIST. Realism could falsely depict reality and still make it look real. Take SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. It’s realistic battle scenes are so powerful that we could easily mistake the entire movie as truthful when the narrative is pretty hokey. And SCHINDLER’S LIST’s brutal realism in violence blinds us to the utter phoniness of its drama. And of course, just because SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and SCHINDLER’S LIST looks ‘real’ doesn’t mean real war or genocide really looks or feels like in those movies. The hope of realism was to dig beneath the officialdom and show reality as reality and truth as truth, but it didn’t pan out that way. Nevertheless, there has long been a line of artists — especially in cinema in the 20th century — who remained truthful to the meaning of realism. This is evident in many cinema-verite documentary films and in the films of such directors as Ken Loach. Not that such filmmakers are necessarily trustworthy, honest, or fair-minded. Even the purest realist has ideological axes to grind and will shape his or her ‘realism’ to slant the vision of reality according to his or her political blinders. And there’s little evidence that people on the dissenting side are necessarily more truthful than those with the power. At one time, the Iranian Fundamentalists, National Socialists, and Bolsheviks were on the dissenting side, but were they necessarily any more truthful than the official powers-that-be? Also, even though leftist documentarians and independent filmmakers are not the dominant forces in Western culture, they are protected and patronized by powerful institutions such as universities and media. No one gets in trouble for making a communist-sympathizing or even a pro-communist film. You get in trouble only if you make a fascist-sympathizing, pro-fascist, counter-Jewish, counter-gay, or anti-black movie. When certain views are so deeply entrenched and patronized by the powers-that-be, we need to ask what is real dissent in an age when much of what is called ‘dissent’ or ‘transgression’ are not only approved but promoted by elite institutions. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the realism of someone like Ken Loach or Barbara Koppel isn’t the same as Socialist Realism under Stalin or Hollywood realism of Spielberg’s ‘serious’ films.

Intellectuals always had a love-hate thing with the people. They love to invoke their mission of leading and liberating the People to justify their own privileged lives of ‘higher thinking’. But they also look down on lower-class people as dumb, stupid, dirty, unwashed, vulgar, trashy, and childish AND look down on middle-class conservative folks as square, dull, boring, lame, unhip, and unimaginative. It’s like what the Jewish kid who plans on becoming an ACLU lawyer says about ordinary people he observed at the post office in DAZED AND CONFUSED: "You know how for like the last year or so I've been talking about going to law school so I can become a ACLU lawyer to be in a position to help people getting fucked over and all that? Well I'm standing in line at the post office yesterday you know, and I'm looking around and everybody's looking really pathetic you know what I mean. Like people have just got drool sticking there, and like this guy's bending over and you can see the crack of his... It was all just like wife beaters, it was.. Anyway. I realize that I just don't want to do it. You know what I mean it sounds good and all but I just have to confront the fact that I really don't like the people I've been talking about helping out. You know what I'm saying. I don't like people period. I mean you guys are okay. I don't know. I'm just trying to be honest about being a misanthrope." It’s no wonder so many progressives today would rather take up the ‘gay cause’ than the cause of hayseed farmers, blue collar workers, welfare Negroes, or sweaty Mexicans. It’s so much more fun to hang around rich privileged gays with all sorts of Apple gadgets and fancy clothes and eat at fancy places and attend art galleries. ‘Radicals’ were always angling to be radistocrats, and avant-garde-ism was a handy way to differentiate themselves from the people; indeed, one could have the cake and eat it too for avant-garde-ism waged war on both traditional snobs and populist slobs; it could be elitist and anti-elitist all at once. The appeal of modernism for the ‘radical’ intellectuals was that most people — the poor dumb philistine slobs — didn’t get it, and it was rather difficult for the powers-that-be to embrace it as the formal expression of their official ideology. Soviets had Constructivism and Italian Fascists had Futurism for awhile, but both failed to capture the imagination of the masses and were soon shunted by the powers-that-be in favor of standardized styles with greater mass appeal. And despite all the formal experimentalism of early Soviet cinema, most Russians preferred Hollywood imports, especially the movies of Charlie Chaplin. Radical intellectuals wanted to represent the people but stand above and apart from the people, and so, the self-justifying conceit of the ‘avant-garde’ was that it was ‘ahead of its times’. That way, intellectuals could have it both ways. They had an art form that belonged to themselves but might one day be accepted by the masses as a whole — when their minds and bodies finally been liberated and raised of course. (Oddly enough, Ayn Rand thought much the same way. In FOUNTAINHEAD the artist-architect-visionary isn’t understood by most people — and is even attacked by establishment critics — , but we are to believe he’s the real engineer of the future in which his dreams will have been fulfilled and vindicated.) Not for nothing have the likes of Jonathan Rosenbaum defended the later films of Jean-Luc Godard by claiming that such works are ‘20 yrs ahead of its time’. Well, it’s been thirty years since Godard made his radical films in the 1970s, but does anyone see evidence of the masses lining up to see FILM SOCIALISME? I’ll leave it up to intellectual-vegan Richard Brody who seems to understand that sort of thing. If anyone was ahead of his or her time, it was Leni Riefenstahl though, of course, Hollywood liberals are loathe to admit that they’ve been raking in billions from all over the world by creating and marketing pop fascism. But, Jews control the academia and media, so they get to call the shots and run the narrative. So, Israel is a Jewish fascist state with 300 illegal nuclear weapons, but we are only focused on the ‘violations’ of Iran. Jews have the power and act like new Hitlers.

Modernism in art was bound to run into problems. Other than the contradictions between its elitist conviction and egalitarian conceit, there was the problem of middle brow culture and pop culture. In the first half of the 20th century, relatively few people were well-educated. Most people got some schooling and then worked as farmers, factory workers, small businessmen or tradesmen, or clerks. Relatively a small share of the population got college education, and most urban folks couldn’t afford to own their own homes. But in the post-war era, there was a huge economic boom and the rise of the vast middle class. Suddenly, the newly educated wanted to attain some credentials of respectability by partaking of the ‘arts’ and ‘culture’. Prior to the rise of the vast middle class, there was high culture for the snobs and the rich, the modernist culture for the radicals and rich, and mass pop culture and/or local folk culture for everyone else. But, with more people going to college and becoming middle class, a greater number of Americans and Europeans wanted to be associated with ‘Culture’. This was more so in America than in Europe, where due to its ancient histories, traditions, and architectures, the people were more conscious of ‘higher culture’ — even though even a smaller percentage attended college than in America. For example, even in the 19th century and early 20th century, many Germans — even laborers — had a rudimentary understanding of art and appreciation of higher culture. America was a young nation and its Anglo-roots tended to be literary than musical or fine-art-oriented; indeed, the most revered musical composers and fine artists had tended to be French or German or Italian. America had its vibrant popular culture of Jewish Hollywood movies and black-and-Jewish-inflected popular music — especially Jazz and later rock n roll — , but many wanna-be-respectable white Americans wanted to be associated with something more than ‘nigger music’ and crass Hollywood movies. So, the new middle classes in the 50s began to buy stuff like the Great Books Collection — though few read it — , classical albums in the new LP format, and art books with stuff by Matisse and Picasso. For the middle-brow middle classes, the main concern wasn’t ideology or schools of thought. They wanted cultural respectability, and attaining it could mean anything from appreciating Tchaikovsky’s SWAN LAKE on public TV or attending the latest Picasso exhibit at the art museum. This began to piss off the intellectuals, and perhaps no one expressed this anxiety better than Dwight MacDonald did in his essay "Midcult and Masscult". For MacDonald, masscult was mostly trash but has the virtue of unpretentious honesty; it was junk food for the masses. Midcult, in contrast, was either masscult with ‘art’ trimmings — like the films of Otto Preminger or Fred Zinnemann — or high/modernist art turned into postcards and tourist trinkets for the newly risen middle classes whose interest in culture had more to do with status-credentials and crossover watering-down than genuine interest. Thus, paradoxically, midcult could be worse than masscult. Masscult, for all its limitations, was open and unapologetic about what it was, whereas Midcult powdered itself as ‘intellectual’, ‘high brow’, and/or ‘avant-garde’ without really understanding — or being capable of understanding — the differences and meanings. Midcult was like the Shelley Winters character in LOLITA yammering about her reproduction of ‘Van Gogh’: a stupid American putting on silly airs. And to be sure, there were some seriously insufferable midcult offenses, among them THE PAWNBROKER and JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG.
Thus, modernism lost its edge. Also, as cinema came to be appreciated more as a genuine art form in its own right — especially welcome as modernism in painting, sculpture, and music was petering out — , modernism came to be owned by a whole bunch of middle class college kids all across America who came to be known as the ‘film generation’. Also, despite the rise of modernist auteurs in cinema, film remained an expensive art form — even for independent productions — , and so, there was bound to be a growing convergence between modernism and commerce — what might be called commodernism. As it turned out, modernism was also easily appropriated by pop culture since both had something in common: ‘radical’ commitment to change. Despite the crucial difference — modernist art as seeker of new truths and ideas as opposed to popular culture as seeker of new markets and fortune — , both were premised on the notion of upending the old and reinventing the new. Thus, it was only a matter of time before modernist art and popular culture would merge under figures like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and become this thing called Pop Art — as well as Pop Intellectualism, of which Camille Paglia, Michael Dyson, and her clones are the perfect example. And of course, there’s Pop Politics that was first fully mastered by Reagan, which oddly makes him the Andy Warhol of politics. Strange world we live in.

Even so, the objectives of modern art — as distinct from the narrower modernist school of art — at their most meaningful and significant are still with us and define much of what we appreciate as real art. Even after so many schools, controversies, ideologies, dogmas, counter-dogmas, fashions, and conceits, we still maintain the modern notion of art as something of higher/deeper truth, beauty, power, originality, eccentricity, and/or brilliance. The French philosophical school can yammer about the problems of the ‘author’ all it wants. At the end of the day, we judge artists and their art according to their unique powers and talent. Though there are fools and phonies who pretend to appreciate the ‘radical’ significance of garbage like JEANNE DIELMAN by the worthless Chantal Akerman — her being a lesbian Marxist Jewess who makes films that most people can’t sit through automatically makes her a great director according to clones and drones indoctrinated by Political Correctness — , even most liberals and ‘radicals’, at least over the long haul, prefer the real thing over the phony thing. Consider how Godard films have been praised profusely by so many ‘intellectual’ critics since the 1970s, but who really cares about most of them today? Though the School of Radical Conceit will do its best to prop up false gods like Chantal Akerman, she too will be forgotten in time as no sane and honest person in a sane and honest world can admit to liking her inane films of flaky narcissism and self-absorption. Besides, girls even now find more fun in PMS-queenery and flaky solipsism by shaking their butts to Alanis Morissette or Tori Amos or watching trash like GIRLS with Miss Piggy Lena Dunham. Generally, the sluttier ‘intellectual’ types go for Morissette while the plainer-faced ones go for Amos. But if you’re really intellectually vain, you might indeed go for something like JEANNE DIELMAN and claim to have had your life profoundly transformed by it — exactly in accordance to some essay by some ‘feminist intellectual’ hag. But really, when the white bread white girls like Dana Stevens are into that stuff — when they’re not watching BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or DJANGO UNCHAINED(a movie she claimed to find ‘funny’, meaning that she’s so hip, progressive, and cool that she’s not in anyway threatened by images of black-on-white violence, but then, she lives in the privileged part of the world with fancy restaurants and the like, so she can afford to be ‘above’ the normal fears of most white Americans) — , where’s the edge anymore, that if it existed in the first place? Notice how all these ‘intellectual’ types claim to be independent, ‘radical’, and eccentric, but they all end up in the same place in exactly the same manner by following the same prescribed rituals. Whether it’s Harvard, Yale, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, a community college, or a film geek club, you will hear exactly the same pickled and cloned statements about why Chantal Akerman is such a ‘profound’ filmmaker; they sound like Frank Sinatra in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE mouthing the words, "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." Now, the problem is not consensus per se as consensus can be true. Just as something isn’t true simply because it’s ‘transgressive’, something isn’t untrue simply because it’s part of the consensus. After all, we would wonder about people who can’t appreciate Orson Welles or Stanley Kubrick who is considered by most film lovers as a great artist. There are certain kinds of greatness that plainly obvious to anyone with eyes and ears. But when a phony like Akerman is hailed as a great director, we need to ask why the mindless fanatics feel the way they do, but the only answer we are likely to hear is the same ‘rehearsed’ lines that the fans picked up from a handful of film critics they lionize. They get all buggy-eyed and go into regurgitative programmed mode, spouting something they read from Amy Taubin and her clones; they’re like brainwashed homomaniacs — straight people who worship homos — who shriek in horror at anyone opposes ‘gay marriage’ and shrilly claim that you ‘hate gays’ if you don’t bend over to every single one of gay demands. And much of it has to do with labels and associations. Akerman is Jewish, a plus. She is a lesbian, a plus. She is an intellectual, a plus. She likes Godard, a plus. She is a Marxist, a plus. There is also the attraction of anti-association: the fact that most people will be bored out of their skulls by stuff like JEANNE DIELMAN means that YOU, who sat through the whole thing, are that special person who understands what most people don’t get. YOU passed the grueling initiation rite and are part of the Tribe of radicals or tribicals. It makes you feel special. It doesn’t involve thought, honesty, integrity, or individuality. It’s all just a silly cultural ritual among those who wanna be initiated into the club. Like all such ritualistic initiation culture, it involves pain, and what can be more painful than sitting through a 3 ½ hr film where a stupid woman chops potatoes and polishes shoes? But hey, if you made it through the damn thing — while doing your best to stifle your yawns and summoning all your strength to convince yourself that you’re watching a ‘radical’ masterpiece — , welcome to the club. You see, the mentality behind it isn’t much different from a gang initiation where you gotta stay on your feet as you walk down columns of thugs who hit you with punches.

Anyway, the obsession with the ‘truth’ in modern art made the artistic endeavor ever more difficult. The modern artist could no longer rely on received norms and work according to pre-existing conventions. To be truly worthy, he or she felt compelled to do something no one else had done before. ‘Truth’ in the modern art’s sense could be social truth, political truth, spiritual truth, psychological truth, formal truth, intellectual truth, philosophical truth, etc. Truth in art is rarely objective; art is about discovering one’s own truth. This element of purism was initially fascinating but also problematic and even anti-artistic. To unmask or unearth the deeper or hidden truth, much of surface ‘illusions’ and ‘deceptions’ had to be stripped away. But as each layer of ‘falsity’ was scraped off, art was left with one less layer of expression to work with. The result was fragmentary, destabilizing, deconstructive, and micro-disassembling of the components that had come together to create the illusion of art. Thus, modernist music didn’t bring the components come together to form melody, harmony, and rhythm, but instead, the components disassociated from one another to expose the inner musical DNA. Different artists and intellectuals sought their own truth in purist ways, and the results were often dire. Jean-Luc Godard, in seeking purity of ideological truth, turned his cinema into a form of radical monasticism. Susan Sontag, in her attempt to be the pure radical intellectual, became less interested in any film with ‘conventional’ attributes and began to champion stuff like HITLER: A FILM FROM GERMANY by Hans Jurgen Syberberg. Ingmar Bergman, for a time, made extremely harsh films like HOUR OF THE WOLF, SHAME, PASSION(OF ANNA), and FACE TO FACE, works that were hard to take. Sarris complained of ‘too much undigested clinical stuff’ in these films. Bergman had ventured into that zone earlier in the 50s but had balanced with ‘human’ qualities and sentimentalities as well. After 8 ½, Fellini’s films became ‘purely’ committed to his dream-fantasies. Robert Bresson, though a Catholic director, was always more Protestant-istic in his vision and temperament. His films have an almost Lutherian quality of self-denial and harshness. Though Fellini, Bergman, and Kurosawa were the big names of 50s international cinema, the leading intellectuals of the 60s were beginning to favor Antonioni, Resnais, and Bresson. As cinema came to be championed as a vessel of modernism(and even a savior of modernism just when modernism was losing its novelty element in the other arts), films with the ‘human touch’ were thought to be sentimental, old-fashioned, middle-brow, and conventional. It wasn’t long before Godard was attacking Truffaut as a bourgeois faker. Though Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi obviously had a human touch — and even elements of sentimentality — , the younger critics praised them over Kurosawa for their purer commitment to formalism. In other words, Kurosawa was thought to be using form and technique for drama and effect whereas Mizoguchi and Ozu, with purer commitment to formalism, were using drama as pretext to develop a new kind of film grammar. Thus, they were more ‘modernist’ even if they hadn’t consciously worked along those terms. (One could argue that RASHOMON is more showily modernistic on the outside, but its core is essentially that of humanist dramatics. In contrast, Mizoguchi and Ozu’s films might appear to be more sentimentally traditionalist on the outside, but their power derives from the redefinition of film form. It’s like Mifune’s character is the louder and more colorful character in SEVEN SAMURAI, but the quiet and stoic leader is the real master of the battle.) The advantage of purism is in weeding out the ‘miscellaneous’, ‘irrelevant’, and ‘distracting’, but the problem is the value of something, especially art, derives less from purity than from a ‘chemical’ combination of impurities. Thus, Bergman’s late 60s and early 70s films may have been ‘radically’ purer, but their unrelenting commitment to tearing off the mask of falsehood left nothing but raw flesh and bones. And most Godard films after the mid-60s are not even watchable, and his kind of purism paved the way for Chantal Akerman’s dreary JEANNE DIELMAN and other kosherized bloodless cadavers of cinema.
Same problem befell rock music in the 70s with the purism of punk. Rock music used to feed on the freedom to feel and express all sorts of emotions, but punkers had no choice but to be angry, nasty, putrid, and mean as punk music puristically demanded that ‘true’ rock n roll had to be ‘rebellious’ and ‘anarchic’ at all times. In the 60s, the Beatles and Stones could sing hard or soft, and either way it was okay, but punkers felt compelled by the ‘rebellious’ prison of their own making to be nasty all the time; they lost the freedom to be un-nasty. Just as liberals now say, ‘hate speech is not free speech’, punkers were saying something like ‘pleasant rock is not real rock’. Just like liberals narrowly define ‘free speech’ to fit their ideology, punkers narrowly defined rock music to convey only a narrow range of ‘correct’ emotions and ideas. (There was a punkish element in the conceited Dogma filmmaking of the 1990s that developed in Denmark.) To be sure, the turn toward purism began to take place in rock already in the late 60s as a reaction to the overly flowery artsiness of psychedelia. Starting in 1968, Lennon’s songs got grittier and harsher — and it would culminate with PLASTIC ONO BAND — , and Stones released BEGGAR’S BANQUET, a b/w work of gangster rock so different from their colorful dream imagery of BETWEEN THE BUTTONS and HER SATANIC MAJESTY’S REQUEST of 1967. If some rockers were returning to the ‘purer’ roots of rock n roll, others were seeking similar ‘purity’ by returning to rock’s Country music roots. (And of course, there were still a bunch of folkie purists who still couldn’t forgive Dylan for his abandonment of ‘pure’ folk music and radical politics.) Even so, there was no set rule or dogma around this for the most part. The process was organic and natural, as when too much of one thing pushes people to something else. Rock music had a big tent, as can be witnessed from the range of talents at Woodstock. Punk ideology waged war against this, and it was appealing to rock critics and intellectuals since writers always prefer ideas over expressions since ideas can be expressed in words that comprise the weapon of critics and academics; the effect was to turn rock criticism from an appreciation of great popular culture into esoterica along ideological and intellectual grounds. This got so dreary and boring that the next reaction, paralleled by the triumph of Paglian slut-ism in feminism, was the rise of naked celebration of trash, and today, Rolling Stone magazine is nothing but ad copy for the industry.) Bergman understood the problem of his purist approach even while being committed to it, but it was just part of the Zeitgeist. There’s a surreal episode in HOUR OF THE WOLF where a woman’s face is torn away only to reveal emptiness and nothingness. This ‘purist’ craze in Bergman had been brewing already in the early 60s with works like THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, WINTER LIGHT, and THE SILENCE, but then, Bergman did something truly remarkable with PERSONA and then sought to replicate the landmark achievement to no avail.
The stakes of modern art were rising ever higher. The modern artist had to do something different/original/unique and explore pure truth. Cinema was late in following this trend, but by the 60s it became the main focus of attention even among high brows and intellectuals. In the 50s, the average ‘art film’ incorporated certain modernist elements, raised the bar in terms of dramatic complexity, and wrestled with ‘serious’ themes. That had been sufficient to earn great praise. Thus, most ‘art films’ of the 1950s were not only admired by the intellectuals but could be understood by the masses, and some of them were international hits. Consider films like SEVENTH SEAL, WILD STRAWBERRIES, LA STRADA, RASHOMON, and etc. Even Bresson’s films of the 1950s could be mostly understood and even enjoyed by many people who weren’t of intellectual bent. Kurosawa, like David Lean, was never a a full-blown modern artist and certainly not a modernist artist. Like Elia Kazan, John Huston, and Jean Renoir, they wanted to make serious films for the public. Thus, despite the power of their visions, they were in sync with the movie audience and weren’t ashamed of this. Ozu likewise made films for the mass audience who appreciated them as family dramas(even as soap operas), but his formalistic strategy was so ‘pure’ and unbending that he came to be appreciated as one of the purest and ‘most radical’ modernist by default — even if that hadn’t been his aim. That TOKYO STORY came in third place among critics and first place among directors in the 2012 Sight and Sound Poll of the ‘Greatest Films’ has less to do with the story or subject than Ozu’s purist formalism. Ozu and Bresson were great directors in their own right, but I’m not sure they’re good models for future filmmakers. Before you arrive at purity, you must begin with impurities. It’s like before you end up with a sculpture like David(Michelangelo), you must know all about the properties of marble. Before Ozu and Bresson could pare away the ‘impurities’, they had to know them intimately as part of reality for without such knowledge, they wouldn’t have know what to take out and what to leave in. And of course, different artists focus on different elements of purity, i.e. what is pure to one person is impure to another. Thus, in order to truly appreciate modern art, one has to know as much or even more about impurities as about the purity. Before fixating on Ozu or Bresson’s vision of formal or spiritual purity, one has to know what they left out and why they left it out. Needless to say, what was pure to Bresson was impure to Ozu, and vice versa. Their films are ‘pure’ but for having pared away different things. You gotta start with completeness and fullness before you arrive at the ‘pure’ essence. You gotta know the whole fish before you cut it down to sushi. You gotta know the entire process and the entire object before you fully appreciate the final product. But the fixation on the ‘pure product’ led to the rise of filmmaker as dreary as Bruno Dumont and Chantal Akerman. Neither has any interest in reality or people and only seems to be fixated on the notion that something ‘purely’ devoid of anything resembling the ‘human touch’ must be an ‘uncompromised’ radical work of art or statement or some such. They are imitators trying to out-pure the product. They began with the final product of others and used it as the basis for heir own product. They didn’t begin with a full vision of life and reality and then arrive at their own ‘purity’ through their own filtering processes. In this sense, I’d say Sam Peckinpah and Kurosawa had more in common with Ozu and Bresson. Why? Because even though Peckinpah and Kurosawa’s films are very different from those of Bresson and Ozu, they began with the fullness of reality and life experiences and then shaped it into their own visions of truth. Everyone has a different temperament and understanding of reality, and everyone will chisel away at the marble in different ways. What unites all great artists is their will to cut the marble their own way, but the thing is to start with the marble(of reality and life).
Thus, Ozu, Bresson, Kurosawa, and Peckinpah can all say, "I did it my way" whereas the most Akerman and Dumont can only say is "I did it the way it’s supposed to be ‘radical’ and ‘pure’." Given the prevalence of groupthink among the intellectual class, pseudo-artist hacks like Dumont have been showered with prizes and the likes of Akerman are lionized as ‘one of the greatest filmmakers of all time’. Dumont has since been forgotten, but if he were a lesbian Marxist Jewess, you bet he’d still be as fashionable as Akerman.

Anyway, once modern art became associated with a morbid commitment to ‘purity’ of ‘truth’, it had fewer cards to play with. It might be bad form for the work to be saddled with anything resembling ‘bourgeois’, ‘middlebrow’, ‘commercial’, ‘populist’, ‘humanist’, ‘old-fashioned’, ‘conventional’, ‘reactionary’, ‘traditional’, ‘sentimental’, ‘simple-minded’, ‘accessible’, and etc? Thus, Godard in the late 60s rejected all his earlier works as ‘bourgeois’. Bergman began to dismiss his films prior to PERSONA. New anxieties led to new schools and dogmas. What if you’re a modernist painter, but your work is thought to be too middlebrow? What if you are a modernist musical composer, but your work still has discernible melodies and harmonies that still might appeal to unwashed masses and middle brow bourgeois philistine folks? Since so much of "what is and isn’t art" was decided by a small coterie of critics, curators, and institutions in the Art World, artists got ever more nervous about what they should do — and in a way, the rise of Pop Art was initially a rebellion against the rules of the Art Establishment, but the latter learned and appropriated the new rules all too quickly and cleverly, and so, we have the current ‘art world’ as what it is. What if the artists followed their muse and did what came naturally, only to be ridiculed as ‘bourgeois’ or ‘conventional’. (It’s no wonder that the most famous artists in the past 60 yrs have worked in popular art forms. The world of ‘serious art’ became so esoteric and theoretical that no one could be sure if artists were really making good art or trapped in an emperor-has-no-clothes prison of their own making. As for mere popular entertainers, they were mainly concerned with fame and fortune and following the prevailing fashion. But popular artists were committed to personal expression and popular acceptance; they were to judged not only by critics and academics in the self-enclosed ‘art world’ but by the wider public who might not so easily fall for intellectual or ‘radical’ conceits. Thus, the great jazz musicians are now thought of more highly than most modernist composers who’d once been thought of as ‘cutting-edge’ by intellectuals in the 50s and 60s. Great popular film artists like Hitchcock and Kurosawa have passed the test of time while most avant-garde filmmakers have been forgotten. Many more people care about Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson than about John Cage or John Adams.) So, paradoxically, radicalism in art bled dry as it bred a new kind of conformism, but then radicalism in its essence is less about freedom and individuality than replacing existing truisms with new ones. Thus, all modernist paintings began to look alike, and all modern music began to sound alike. People were going to art and music schools to be taught and instructed alike on how to be ‘different’. Some artists resisted such trappings, indeed amusingly articulated in 8 ½ where Guido, Fellini’s alter ego, imagines hanging the intellectual collaborator who cerebrally ridicules everything he does. Fellini sought to escape the purism of modernism by following his fantastic muse wherever it took him, but his purist commitment to his dream world was a kind of purist modernism just the same. Though intellectuals in the late 60s pretended to like or at least appreciate the new-new films of Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, and Godard, they were really growing tired of most of them. But then, the same kind of boredom had already descended on the music and art scene. Increasingly, people lost interest in modernist music and got more interested in rock music, especially as figures like Dylan demonstrated that rock music can be art too. And even prior to the rise of rock, many turned to bebop Jazz instead of modernist music — though Jazz eventually caught the modernist-purist bug and got dogmatically ‘radical’ and esoteric too.
Despite Warhol and his ilk’s complete lack of worth as artists, their appeal can still be understood within the context of ‘modernism’ having run its course and ossified into orthodoxies and dogmas. And just when Godard and Bergman and others were getting ever more ‘pure’ and ‘radical’, a new sensibility was gaining vogue for championing good ole classic American cinema. Though liberal critics and cultural historians have spun the narrative of ‘progressive’ and ‘egalitarian’ forces toppling the ‘conservative’ dichotomy of ‘highbrow’ vs ‘lowbrow’ in art, it had really been a culture war between the liberals. After all, Andrew Sarris didn’t so much rebel against artistic traditionalism as against liberal and leftist elitism that too often decried Hollywood films as product of bourgeois capitalism. Warhol’s main enemies were not conservatives — who didn’t have much stake or voice in 20th century art in the first place — but liberals and leftist radicals who distrusted pop culture. And the people screaming ‘Judas’ at Dylan were leftist folkies who couldn’t tolerate one of their own turning ‘commercial’ or art-for-art’s-sake. And the opposition to rock n roll and Elvis in the 1950s came as much from the ‘commie’ left as from the ‘redneck’ right. The Frankfurt School was no fan of popular culture. Similarly, though stuff like ‘slut pride’ and the new skanky ‘feminism’ are spun as assault on the Right, the main fissure has been between Old-Line feminists(as represented by the likes of Patricia Ireland) and new feminism(as represented by the likes of Camille Paglia). It’s really a war between liberal and liberal, between left and ‘left’, but ‘progressives’ conveniently frame all these battles as being between the ‘progressive left’ and the ‘reactionary right’ to distract us from the fact of all the family squabbles within the ‘progressive’ community. It’s hardly different from the rhetoric that came out of the communist struggles for power. In the Soviet Union and Red China, various leftist factions would vie for power against one another, but they would always frame their struggle as being against the ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘capitalist roaders’. That way, the troublesome fact of all the divisions and contradictions on the Left could be swept under the rug. And when communist China and communist Soviet were at each other’s throat, both sides framed the debate in terms of ‘we are true communists’ and ‘they are bourgeois turncoats’. So, even when commies were fighting commies, they maintained the fiction that they were fighting the bourgeoisie.
If ‘evil conservative white males’ were to vanish into the thin air, what would hold the ‘left’ together? Indeed, what is so ‘leftist’ about a bunch of black nationalists, brown power agitators, privileged gay elites, Zionist Jewish supremacists, fancy high class mulattos, skanky feminists, puritanical feminists, blue collar folks, Hollywood billionaires, Silicon Valley gazillinaires, and single mothers on welfare? Liberals are virulent in their hysterical rage against the ‘evil white male’ because once the usefulness of that much scapegoated trope is lost, there is nothing to hold the ‘left’ together.

Thee problem of ‘purity’ and ‘truth’ in art is two-fold. The artist comes under pressure to conform to the dominant orthodoxy of ‘what is art’ at the moment. If not, one could be censured for harboring the wrong set of values and attitudes, for not being sufficiently in tune with the spirit of the all-too-fickle age. The artist is allowed or even encouraged to be ‘different’ in a way that flatters the conceit of ‘transgression’ as already established within the art world. He must be ‘different’ to demonstrate his sameness with the prevailing sensibility and ideology of those who control the art world. It may not make for good art, but it provides some guidance for the would-be artist because, at the very least, he knows what he must do to please the clients, patrons, curators, and critics who incestuously guard the workings of the art world. (There is some of this too in the film world too, a good example being Todd Haynes’s bloodless I’M NOT THERE, a film custom-made to flatter elite film critics, scholars, and festival organizers.)

If a true artist sticks to his or her own vision, the search for ‘truth’ becomes very challenging for one must find a unique and original path with less of a recourse to established conventions and formulas. Creating something on the level of ANDREI RUBLEV, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, or PROFOUND DESIRE OF THE GODS is no easy feat. It could be argued that 2001 belongs to the sci-fi genre, but Kubrick’s film owes almost nothing to earlier science fiction. He reinvented science fiction as an art film, and no space movie has come anywhere near it since. (Though Kubrick credited David Lean as an early influence, a key difference is the absence of pictorialism in Kubrick’s films. This may seem odd since few directors produced as many arresting, powerful, and memorable images as Kubrick did, but even the most beautiful and stunning images in Kubrick’s films don’t strike us as pictorialist because they seem part of a larger vision/conception. Lean had a great eye for images, but one often got the sense that the images were shot for their striking beauty or magnificence regardless of their relevance to characters or narrative. Lean’s editing skills managed to pull them altogether, but the overall impression was that of ravishing pictures glossed over the story. They weren’t held together conceptually but romantically. In contrast, Kubrick’s images seem to pieces of a larger puzzle, intricately linked together, creating a sense of interlocking meanings and associations. Lean’s images are like flipping through photos; Kubrick’s images are like moves on a chessboard, each image a part of a larger pattern of objectives and meanings. If one word could be used to describe Kubrick’s films, it’d be ‘hypnotic’. There are different ways to create altered consciousness, such as the ritual of magic mushrooms and wild dancing among Aztec tribes, or loud music and drugs at rock concerts. Hypnosis, in contrast, works through slippages within the mind through stillness, and there was an element of hypnotic stillness even when Kubrick moved the camera. Long tracking shots, for instance, present motion but also the constancy of flow and continuity of focus, as with the shots in the trenches in PATHS OF GLORY and along the hallway in THE SHINING. The moment when the bone turns into the space ship in 2001 is a great hypnotic moment, the most amazing magic switcheroo trick in film history. A million yrs pass in an instant from the brutish ‘dawn of man’ to a sterile mechanized future of space exploration, but the shift seems normal than strange. We find ourselves under its hypnotic spell and subliminally make the ‘logical’ connection between prehistory on earth with apes to a future in space with machines. Thus, no image in a Kubrick film is just an image as a pictorialist presentation. The secret to Kubrick’s art is evident in the ‘Blue Danube’ scene with spaceships hovering over Earth. At first sight, it seems as though Kubrick is celebrating the freedom of boundless space and zero gravity, with spaceships soaring every which way, free as a bird. But the spaceships have specific functions, and that the two objects — the passenger vessel and the spinning space station — carefully regulate their motions so as to allow one to enter the other. We come to note the inherent order and logic in the movements of objects that initially impressed us as rhapsodic and free. Just as the ships have to align themselves rhythmically and geometrically to allow entry and safe landing, Kubrick had to find just the right angles in his compositions and make just the right cuts in the editing to produce just the right effect. He makes it seem effortless and easy, but it’s one of the most impeccably orchestrated and matched scenes in movie history, indeed all the more remarkable because Kubrick didn’t resort to flash cuts and cheap tricks to distract us from any possible deficiency. He maintained a stately pace and demonstrated fully his skills of organization, construction, and execution, laying down images like poker cards, one after another, to reveal finally an unbeatable hand. Of course, even as our eyes revel in the mastery, our minds cannot fathom the shuffling processes that led to the killer hand. We watch Kubrick’s films with our eyes wide shut. Just as the Tom Cruise character sees the secret but not the secret behind the secret, we enter a special world through Kubrick’s films but can’t quite figure out what makes them special, indeed no more than Bowman can explain the power of the extraterrestrials or Jack Torrance can understand the ghostly powers of the Overlook hotel. In a way, Kubrick relished playing the role of god by creating secret universes which we were allowed to enter but never solve. Incidentally, while 2001 is easily the greater work, especially as a feat of film-making, THE SHINING is more interesting in some ways for the psychological interplay between characters and their settings. Jack and Danny Torrance, especially as performed by Nicholson and Lloyd, have inner-lives that characters of 2001 do not. Jack and Danny are unique individualities with peculiarly warped mental spaces whereas the human characters of 2001 tend to be either blank or perfunctory. In some ways, the Moonwatcher ape has more personality than the humans. If there’s any kind of unique psychology in 2001, it belongs to the Hal computer, a creepy situation since Hal is supposed to be pure logic only masked with the veneer of ‘personality’ to make its interaction with astronauts more personable. When it starts going ‘wrong’, we are not sure if it’s Hal’s ‘personality’ going awry or the logical extension of Hal’s programming. Because of Hal’s logical assessment of everything, he seems to be both utterly sane and utterly mad, but then, maybe total sanity is a form of total insanity since there is no single pure thread of truth in this world, especially since science is as much driven by aggressive agendas and interests as by facts and figures, i.e. while science is used to gain objective understanding of the universe, the prioritization of gaining knowledge of something, especially OVER other things, is driven by emotional agendas; for instance, Jews may have used ‘social science’ to study the political psychology of ‘paranoid’ white conservatives, but why study that over other social realities? Because it serves the emotional interests of Jewish power. Similarly, science led to the making of the atomic bomb, but why was science directed in that area than into other areas of nuclear science? Because Jews desperately wanted the Bomb before Nazis might build one. If there’s psychology in 2001, it’s more about the mind of the universe than the mind of man, i.e. it’s about some ‘spiritual’ force in the universe that could be striving for ‘collective cosmic consciousness’ across space and time. Perhaps, this monolith has existed for millions or even billions of years; maybe it’s visited other planets with living organisms and gifted them with the spark of genius so that, one day, the consciousness of every planet can attain cosmic transcendence through the monolith and be united as one in a kind of cosmic heaven for souls across the galaxies. In this context, perhaps it makes sense that 2001 forwent the development of strong personalities and psychologies. Perhaps, heaven is the surrendering of one’s personality/psychology for the sake of gaining communion with higher consciousness; it’s about letting go of the small personal ego in order to be one with the infinitely bigger cosmic truth. In contrast, THE SHINING is about hell, and the road to hell is paved with the megalomania of one’s personal ego, i.e. the ego of one’s own personality and psychology looms so large that it blinds one to other realities, as happens with Tetuso in AKIRA; the megalo-ego can even become estranged from one’s own family, even murderous toward it as in the case of Jack Torrance. If angelic David Bowman surrenders himself to the higher reality of heaven, Torrance claims ownership of hell as his own 1000 Yr Reich Germania. Bowman realizes he, as an individual, is just a speck in the universe and must surrender to the universe to be part of something bigger. Torrance conflates the world as an extension of his ego in the manner of ‘Germany is Hitler, Hitler is Germany’. Both Bowman and Torrance come in contact with something larger than themselves, but Bowman gives himself to the largeness whereas Torrance lays claim to the largeness as his personal empire. But of course, hubris and malevolent forces are playing with his silly little mind in a Faustian manner. Kubrick had both hubris and humility — hubris in aiming to be the greatest filmmaker ever and humility in knowing that he had to work very hard and couldn’t just rest on the laurels of his ‘genius’, and in this sense, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and THE SHINING are probably his two signature works, which explains why they have stirred up more discussion than all other Kubrick films combined. EYES WIDE SHUT is interesting as a kind of dream journey between the extremities of heaven and hell, especially as it brings together Christmas and a pagan orgy, a blissful marriage and poison suspicions. It may even channel something of Roman Polanski, especially BITTER MOON, a truly nasty movie comparable to Joseph Losey’s THE SERVANT. Though a romance-mystery, it has elements of horror, somewhat like a vampire movie, as the Tom Cruise character drifts through the night as if thirsty for blood to replenish his bleeding ego and festering self-doubts. That the couple with their one child finally pull together out of the haze after much soul-searching is a hopeful counterpoint to the family that is shattered in THE SHINING. In THE SHINING, one spouse was too egotistical while the other, the wife, was too passive and oblivious to what was going on. Though there are clear signs of trouble with Jack, Wendy manages to block out all the evidence in a Panglossian manner until it’s tool late. Early in EYES WIDE SHUT, Alice — Nicole Kidman — freaks out her husband Bill in a manner similar to the first time when Jack spooks out Wendy in THE SHINING, but whereas Wendy, after being insulted by Jack, just walks away quietly like a little girl, Bill knows that a real breach has developed between himself and his wife after she spanked his feelings. He can’t let it go and seeks some way to exorcize his doubts, and even though or especially because it takes him to some dark places, real and psychological, he is able to finally purge himself before his wife and vice versa, and both are able to arrive at a new understanding, as in the Bob Dylan song "Fourth Time Around". Perhaps, things work out better in EYES WIDE SHUT because there’s a kind of balance in the sexual dynamics. In THE SHINING, Jack is bigger and more aggressive as a male than Wendy the female. In EYES WIDE SHUT, Alice the female is taller and emotionally more aggressive than Bill. So, there’s a faintly androgynous aspect to their relationship. Bill has the looks and charm, but maybe he’s TOO pretty — like a girl — , and he’s certainly no big tall knight in shining armor, a Lancelot, to Alice as damsel princess who is actually more like a queen. Alice loves him but, in some ways, more as a boy than as a man, and Cruise was perfect for the role of Bill for, even in his middle age, he seems to be stuck in his teen yrs. And indeed, not long after Cruise and Kidman broke up, the dirty skanky whore screwed a Jewgro Lenny Kravitz. Imagine that, as if giving herself to a jigger-jiver wasn’t bad enough, she had to go with a Jewger-jiver.)
Similarly, FULL METAL JACKET is unlike any other war film(and defies all genre and ideological categories), and EYES WIDE SHUT is in a league all by itself. THE SHINING more clearly belongs in the horror genre, but it is less an adaptation than a transformation and transcendence of Stephen King’s novel. How many filmmakers can work on this level? How many have the originality of vision, the uniqueness of insight, the brilliant mastery of technique? It’d be like swimming across a lake relying on one’s skills and stamina. For most filmmakers, genres are useful as a kind of life jacket or flotsam to hang onto while paddling across the lake. It keeps them from sinking into the confusing abyss of the material. Genre can serve as rough map for creative navigation, as bony structure to wrap flesh around. Also, genre can also function as a crutch in case the work fails as art — genre elements have innately recognizable entertainment value and work as a bridge to the larger audience who don’t care about art. So, even if one doesn’t think much about the ‘intellectual’ aspects of films like RABID, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, or MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, they can still be enjoyed as ‘horror’ or ‘political thriller’. Kubrick generally alternated between art films and genre films(or art films with genre association). THE KILLING was a crime thriller comedy, followed by the serious PATHS OF GLORY, followed by costume epic SPARTACUS, followed by an adaptation of a serious novel, LOLITA, followed by comic satire DR. STRANGELOVE, followed by science fiction 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, followed by sci-fi satire A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, followed by adaptations of serious novel, BARRY LYNDON, followed by horror THE SHINING, followed by ‘war movie’ FULL METAL JACKET, followed by adaptation of serious novel, EYES WIDE SHUT.
The problem of genre is the artificial padding created between the artist and the subject. Hitchcock made some ‘serious’ movies, but his reputation as the ‘master of suspense’ demanded padding of the material with tricks to shock the audience — ‘give them what they want’ — , thus preventing him from handling the narrative and themes in a straight-laced manner. Even his most ‘serious’ works, such as THE WRONG MAN and LIFEBOAT, hang on conventions of suspense and shock.
Hitchcock’s movies may have exhibited elements of ‘pure cinema’ — a term he coined — , but nothing he did could be called ‘pure art’, a work freed from genre conventions and audience expectations. But the saving grace of his genre-orientation was that all of his movies, even lesser ones, have some entertainment value. We never seem to tire of romances, thrillers, mysteries, horror, and the like. Genres don’t have to be truthful, meaningful, profound, or original. As long as they’re competent and deliver the goods, we can have a good time. (The appeal of Westerns is apparent in their excellent batting average of delivering what was promised. For science fiction to work, it needs lots of imagination and outstanding special effects. For horror to work, it needs to do more than frighten us; it has to get under our skin. For romance to work, we have to believe in the magical chemistry between lovers. For mysteries to work, a rigorously logical plot has to be sustained from beginning to end. For comedies to work, it has to be funny, and genuine humor is a rare thing. For film noir to work, it has to maintain just the right mood, not so easy with something as intangible as mood. Generally speaking, science fiction or comedy can be great or bad; there’s almost nothing in between. It works very well or doesn’t work at all. In contrast, even a middling western can deliver the essentials of what the audience wants. Western lovers expect steak, potatoes, and beans, and any middling director could make a good western.) MARNIE’s theme — and the treatment — , for instance, is ludicrous and, as a straightforward ‘art film’, would have been laughable. (Perhaps same could be said for the premise of VERTIGO.) But even if MARNIE fails in the ‘serious’ department of psychological truth, it works beautifully in accordance to conventions of the mystery/romance genre. We can’t accept the characters as people in a plausible world, but we can appreciate them as mythic archetypes. In certain passages of MARNIE, the ludicrous is rendered almost sublime by the tension between steely control and wild passion, contradictions that exist not only between Marnie and her husband but within Marnie’s soul itself. (If winged critters channeled Tippi Hedren’s psyche in THE BIRDS, it’s the horse in MARNIE. The horse has always had an odd relationship with man. Perhaps, no animal was trained and controlled more by man than the horse, even more so than the dog; after all, horses were even used in battle. Yet, horses have been admired for their size, strength, and will. Even as we train horses to carry us, we dream of horses running wild and free. We train horses to obey us, but we love them because, even in their obedience, they exhibit independence of spirit and prowess. When a horse gallops, we lose sight of who’s really in control. Is the rider riding the horse, or is the horse hijacking the rider?) But there is a factor that can make some genre films even greater, profounder, and more interesting than ‘pure’ art films. After all, poetics, aesthetics, and operatics are not the same thing as prosaics. One problem with ‘art as the expression of truth’ is the truth may be revealed as raw, naked, and banal in a manner that is raw, naked, and banal. And this danger is plain to see in films like PASSION OF ANNA. Or ROSETTA(by the Dardennes brothers) or whole bunch of realist French films about real-seeming but boring people stuck in boring lives. At one point, Bergman stripped his film of everything except commitment to psychological truth, and there was no style, imagination, beauty, or poetics to speak of. There was just the interminable anguish and languish of life.
Mankind created art partly to mythologize and fantasize(and to escape from) reality — or understand reality and truth through metaphors, codes, detours, and symbols — , but art in the late modern period increasingly became a means to harshly gaze at the truer truth(especially with the fading of religion). But the more art was used to bring us closer to reality/truth, one of the dangers was making art less ‘artistic’. Thus, in the late 60s and early 70s, Bergman’s films became less poetic and more prosaic, like tough raw pieces of steak to slap on private bruises. Though PASSION OF ANNA and SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE have their defenders, I found them to be like punishing docu-dramas of Bergman’s angst and angry relationships — mental snuff films. They are like 16 mm home movies — and indeed SCENES was shot in 16 mm for Swedish TV. If Bergman got more prosaic, Godard got more theoretic, turning his films into an intellectual fist of truth to stick up the bourgeois ass. He too was seeking a kind of ‘truth’ with his new brand of cinema, but whatever it was, it couldn’t be called ‘art’. (It’s no wonder that when cinephiles remember Godard, they almost always refer to the period between 1960 to and 1966.) And this is why Welles, Hitchcock, and Kubrick loom larger and larger whereas appreciation for Bergman and Antonioni keeps fading. Bergman and Antonioni — and others like them — may have been purer ‘film artists’, but once the social and intellectual contexts within which their hangups and obsessions had been appreciated passed into history, their works spoke less to new generations. What do most young people today care about the death of God or the themes of ‘alienation’ in a world of fading tradition? Once their themes(in relation to the real world) became less compelling, their art also seemed less compelling. (Bergman and Antonioni may have grappled with reality and truth, but reality changes. We now live in a funny kind of reality where kids are raised to WELCOME — not merely tolerate — the idea of two guys sticking their sexual organs into one another’s fecal holes, indeed as if soiled buns ala fecal penetration are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Today, anti-tradition is the new normality. If Antonioni and Bergman — and even Godard — were modernists who were nevertheless steeped in intellectual and cultural tradition and disturbed by the loss of old truisms in the face of nonstop modernity, kids today grow up in a world of no tradition except the obnoxious cults of Holocaust worship, MLK worship, queer history worship, and Oprah worship. Bergman, Antonioni, and especially Godard acknowledged the need to accept the new and say goodbye to the old — even with violence and vehemence — , but they nevertheless felt disturbed by the rapid changes that overtook and outpaced one’s ability to make sense of the world. Such anxieties are rare today, which is why most film students can’t understand why Bergman and Antonioni’s films are so anguished or alienated. Why seek meaning when it’s so much cooler to be hip and have fun with the latest gadgets? And in our hook-up culture where even Miss Piggy Lena Dunham has raw open sex on TV without any thought, how can young people understand the guilt and confusion that the characters feel at the end of L’AVVENTURA and LA DOLCE VITA?
Some might say we’re living in the age of TWILIGHT, but then, there’s a certain irony because part of TWILIGHT’s appeal is the re-introduction of themes related to the need for meaning and the fear of alienation in a world where meanings aren’t always so easy. After so many wham-bam-smash-up action movies with non-stop violence and hump-bump movies with lewd sexual vulgarity and jokes, TWILIGHT partly restores a certain classicism that the characters of L’AVVENTURA and Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA secretly long for. It’s not a guilt-free and conscience-free world of happy hedonism.) In contrast, a timeless quality surrounds VERTIGO because, though set in an era different from ours, the genre elements mythologize the emotions into something larger-than-life. Though Bergman and Antonioni were many times greater than Stanley Kramer, their reputations also suffered from topicality — social in Kramer’s case and psychological/philosophical in Bergman & Antonioni’s cases. For Bergman and Antonioni, the problem wasn’t merely the growing ‘irrelevance’ of their themes but the changing meaning of what constituted ‘art’. Godard’s reputation has fared better because of his cachet as a ‘radical’ auteur. Most cinephiles will likely enjoy Bergman films(especially of the 50s) more than most Godard films, but Godard’s image as the terrible infant of French cinema has stuck. Given the ‘radical’ posturing of the SWPL crowd and the nostalgia among the armchair radical boomers for the exciting days of the 60s and 70s, Godard lives on as a myth even though most people don’t really like his films. His myth is rather like Mao’s. No one in China cares about Maoism, but the Chinese continue to appreciate Mao as a talisman of national myth and good fortune; he has become the latest manifestation of the ‘Fat Buddha’.

Another advantage of genre is in the manner of how the themes must play within the maze of populist expectations, and INCEPTION is a wonderful example of that. Paradoxically, the art-deadening demands of genre can, in some cases, increase the level of artistry and imagination. It’s kinda like how the role of censorship in the past forced filmmakers to be more imaginative in their expression of eroticism or violence. Take the scene in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE where the senator is shot through a milk carton. Instead of gushing with blood, he ‘bleeds’ pure white milk, a perversely ironic and iconic image. Or consider the shower murder scene in PSYCHO. Hitchcock employed a brilliant mix of sound and editing to convey the shock of horror; it might have been less chillingly effective with gory details — of course, the fact that people were so shocked back then has nostalgic value as a reminder of a forever-lost- innocence; it popped the eye-cherries of the American movie-going public; they really lost it at the movies. And consider the eroticism in VERTIGO after Scotty saves ‘Madeline’ from the bay. There’s no physical nudity, but the scent of eroticism hangs in the air between Scotty(who can’t hide the fact that he saw a naked woman) and ‘Madeline’(who, though under a blanket, knows that Scotty saw her nude); they choose their words carefully, but there’s no hiding what happened between them. It’s like the parody of "Hey Jude" that goes, "Hey Jude, we saw you nude, don’t try to fake it, we saw your naked." Hitchcock was more graphic with sex and violence in FRENZY, but it’s much less effective than something like STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. (Given the role of censorship in all this, scholars have long wondered about the role social/cultural/political repression played in the development of the arts. Paradoxically, the means to limit expression may have enriched expression. Since artists throughout history couldn’t always say what was on their minds lest they infuriate the powers-that-be, they had to use codes, symbolism, metaphors, allegory, and etc. to hint at what were really on their minds. We generally and mostly correctly see repression as the enemy of art, but repression surely had a role in expanding, wittingly and unwittingly, the expressive perimeters of art. It’s like a tree growing on a rock has to be more ‘creative’ in winding its roots to reach the soil. John Simon said this of Roman Polanski, i.e. communist repression in his case might have improved his art as he was forced to be more creative and crafty with his perversity. Jews and gays are more adept at such ‘creativity’ and cleverness since they’d long sought power and wealth as distrusted and even reviled minorities in societies dominated by the normal majority. The rise of meritocracy and victimology was a great boon to Jews and gays. Having had thousands of years of experience and knowledge in the secretive/subversive game of power, Jews and gays were more talented in their ‘creative’ and devious pursuit of power. Also, the halo of victimology protected them from scrutiny from the larger community even when they came to abuse their power via all sorts of hidden social/tribal networks of power.)
What goes for sexuality and violence also goes for truth. While an artist might feel impatience to get right to the truth, what more is there after laying it bare? (It’s like if a Mystery author blurts out the truth of who-dun-it right away, there’s no reason to tell the story. Or if an author follows a long narrative and then says the real truth is there is no truth, what’s the point of writing another book to say the same thing? This is why Antonioni’s L’AVVENTURA could only be made once. The audience wanted to know the truth of what happened to the woman, but Antonioni had another kind of truth in mind. As the story ended on the note of pointlessness, it would have been rather pointless to point out the pointless again.)
How many times could Bergman tear off the mask and expose the raw nerves of existential anguish? How many times could Antonioni tell us that modern life is infected with ennui before falling into the trap of what Andrew Sarris called ‘Antonioennui’? If the truth is to point out that life is pointless, what’s the point of even making such a point? If art, as the digging instrument of truth, has laid bare the stark meaningless of life, why keep digging? Or, even if the truth presented by the artist is more positive — the brotherhood of man, the need for hope, faith in love, etc. — , how many times can it pack the same power? It’s no wonder that Rossellini dispensed with powerfully cathartic endings after ROME: OPEN CITY. Vittorio De Sica’s emotionally charged endings were effective up to UMBERTO D., but he knew he couldn’t sustain it over and over. Same with Satyajit Ray after THE APU TRILOGY. They had power because no one had seen such truth revealed on the screen before, but the effect wore off as neo-realism became one of the standard modes of cinema. Today, when a film like BIUTIFUL tries to recapture the spirit of neo-realist sentimentality, the effort may be heroic but the result is ultimately foolhardy. Fellini squeezed every last teardrop out of his special blend of neo-realism and magical whimsy in his great films of the 1950s, and so, even though same kinds of movies can be made(and even very well), the effect can never be the same, especially in a world where even emotions have been corporatized so utterly by Jews who control Oprah and Hollywood that cranks out stuff like FORREST GUMP, GREEN MILE, and THE HELP. (Hollywood and movies around the world have always sought to manipulate our feelings but never as shamelessly as today when even educated adults are often reduced acting like babbling babies on the Oprah show. The mind-set of American morons isn’t much different from that of brainwashed morons in North Korea who bawled like babies when their ‘great leader’ died. At least in the past, Hollywood and government propaganda had a sense of limit in the level of their push-button emotional manipulation on the public, perhaps due to the culture of emotional restraint, rationality, sobriety, and the notion that it’s undignified for grownups to be reduced to childish emotions. No longer. In videogames, children’s stories, porn, horror movies feel-good mushy movies, and etc, the powers-that-be feel no sense of limit in HOW MUCH to push our emotional buttons — and one could say Spielberg may have played a certain role in perfecting the means and modes of this technique. People’s buttons have been pushed in so many ways that they are like a combo of babies who need their diapers changed and Red Guards who can’t stand any disagreement. They worship gays like babies worship their mommies and throw childish tantrums at anyone who doesn’t bend over to the gay agenda. It’s like THE PRIVATE LIFE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON. We are living in the age of emotional button-pushing where adult emotions grow backward and revert to goo-goo childhood. Roger Ebert was a reasonably okay critic, but the profusion of sentimentality surrounding his death may have had something to do with the fact that he looked like a baby and reverted to a form of babylikeness in the last phase of his life. This isn’t in any way to criticize Ebert’s personal conduct in his last years, which could even be said to have been courageous and inspiring given all the impairments and pain he had to deal with. Rather, I’m talking of the wider culture that acts as if Ebert became like a cherubic angel baby in his final years and is deserving of universal sanctification. But intellectually, Ebert, even in sickness, was a dishonest man, and as a critic, he was more of an opportunist than anything else, carefully balancing his populism with elitism when it served his interests. And only an infantile mind could possibly choose TREE OF LIFE as one of the ten greatest films. I mean let’s not create a cult of personality around him.) Once truth has been exposed and put forth, it has the danger of shtick if repeated over and over; even anti-shtick, once conventionalized, becomes just another shtick, and neo-realism in film eventually waned because it too became a kind of shtick. The neo-realist humanist period of the immediate post-war era was a special time when certain moral values and social observations seemed fresh and genuinely meaningful. Think of BICYCLE THIEVES, RASHOMON, IKIRU, ON THE WATERFRONT, and FORBIDDEN GAMES. Fellini could get away with something similar with LA STRADA and NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, though working on a more personal and magical level. But, by the time of Truffaut’s 400 BLOWS and Pasolini’s ACCATONE, the rules had changed — and necessarily so. Their truths were more ambiguous, and their endings abstained from conclusive or cathartic summations about the human heart or condition. Thus, 400 BlOWS finishes less with a statement than a question; one might say the film begins and ends in the middle. While neo-realist films often ended grimly, there still remained an element of closure to the tragedy that inherently allowed for powerful, grand, or sweeping emotions.

If full-blown ‘art films’ or ‘serious films’ felt an obligation to grapple with weighty themes, films situated between ‘serious’ and genre-istic could playfully navigate and ‘negotiate’ between the two modes, expressions, and possibilities. (We need to make a distinction here between middle-brow-ness and middleman-ness in this equation. Middle-brow-ness is when someone ‘safely’ mixes elements of ‘high’ and ‘low’ to win with both the audience and critics, and as such, is a watered-down form of compromise that generally lacks interest. Good examples of middle-brow-ness would be MAN FOR ALL SEASONS and AGONY AND ECSTASY. They may be perfectly decent movies but also tend to be colorless, spineless, and gutless in their compromises. In contrast, movies like VERTIGO and THE SHINING exhibit elements of middleman-ness, a ‘subversive’ and conspiratorial streak. They don’t so much seek the respectable/populist middle-ground between the high and low but ply a sly kind of diplomatic trick between the two realms, seeping and prying into and across both, tying strands and threads hat neither side even knows exists or acknowledges. The best kind of middlemen doesn’t merely buy from one side to sell to another; instead, like the great Jews, they toy and use all manner of ploy to link up both sides so as to make them dependent on the indispensability of the middlemen. Thus, the middleman gains greater access and comes to own both sides even as they remain apart. The wicked general in THE PATHS OF GLORY had a devious middleman character than a straightforward military character, which is why he was able to play all sides and come out on top. Whether it’s Henry Kissinger in politics or the Google boys in business, Jews use middlemannery to subvert, penetrate, and own all sides. Welles understood this trick too. CITIZEN KANE begins with the sign ‘No Trespassing’, but Welles’s forte was his keen ability to trespass into all areas of artistic expression, from high and low, and tie them together in ways that completely befuddled others. The very character of Kane traverses between poverty/leftism and wealth/reactionism, between wide-eyed idealism and dye-in-the-wool cynicism, between childlike innocence and full-blown megalomania, between the most public of lives and the most private of lives.) This explains why Kubrick’s THE SHINING is a more interesting film than Bergman’s THE SILENCE. Bergman’s film is a work of ‘art’ in all its morbid and earnest Seriousness It may be purer, but it’s single-minded in its serious treatment of a serious theme. It’s very artful and maybe profound — with its themes of ‘lack of communication’, ‘alienation’, ‘sexual repression’ as paralleled with political repression, and etc. — , but it’s like a one-note melody.
(To this day, I can’t make up my mind whether THE SILENCE really means something or is a canned sardine of the ‘serious’ themes. The story is basic to the point of nonexistence; indeed, it’s more situation than story, a narrative excuse as storage room to warehouse all the big ideas inside Bergman mind that he didn’t know what to do with. We wonder if the film is genuinely complex or willfully made complicated. The plot has two sisters stopping at a hotel before re-embarking on their journey ‘home’. It’s made complicated by one sister being a dry intellectual and the other being a sultry sensualist. Furthermore, there’s a precocious child, the son of the latter but mentally closer to the former, between them. The hotel is in a made-up ‘foreign’ nation that is, however, very much like Sweden — familiar and alien at the same time. Though people go about their business in this foreign city, there are also tanks rolling around, implying wartime or preparation for war. As it’s a foreign country, the two women cannot communicate with the locals except through bodily motions that range from hand signals to raunchy sex. The hotel’s caretaker is an old man who looks like a retired magician. A troupe of midgets occupy a room on the same floor as the sisters. As ‘actors’ who communicate physically on-stage through slapstick and pantomime, the midgets are both out of place in the world — as ‘deformed’ creatures — and the perfect inhabitants of the weird situation presented in the film. All these elements add up to a making of an ‘art film’, but do they add up to any real meaning? I have no idea. The child is both a welcome respite and another cipher. His ‘innocence’, like Danny’s in THE SHINING, allows us to latch onto him emotionally — as just about all the adults seem either neurotic, weird, or even grotesque. But the kid isn’t your average child but a kind of weirdo himself or at least budding into one, which also makes him rather like Danny, the child with the gift/curse of the ‘shining’. Despite similarities between THE SILENCE and THE SHINING, the meaning isn’t central to Kubrick’s horror film as its real power derives from the devilish fun of toying with all the possibilities in the story and concept, but Bergman’s film cannot be so easily let off the hook because, as a morbidly serious work, it seems eager to impart some kind of clear Truth. One might argue that it’s less a finished film in the conventional sense than a thought-experiment in the manner of LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, but it fails on those terms because its characters and emotions are too real and powerful. Resnais’s film can be enjoyed as an experiment because the characters are presented as pieces on a chess board, but there’s too many jangling raw nerves in THE SILENCE for us to approach the film as merely a mind-game. Are the complications — foreign city, wartime, midgets, the child between sisters, etc. — really integral to the emotional core of THE SILENCE, or are they willful complications to make the film seem more arty? The difference between Kafka and Bergman of THE SILENCE is the former effortlessly stumbled onto complexities whereas I suspect — though I may be wrong — that THE SILENCE strains to be more complex than its core justifies. The film’s essence is in the emotional tension between the sisters, and it could have been just as powerful without the distracting complicating socio-political factors. The dry intellectual sister turns out to be a sensualist and maverick in her own right, and the sultry and wild younger sister an emotional prisoner in her own way. The former appears to be a possessive incestuous lesbian — it can’t get any kinkier than that — , and the latter seems to be putting on all her wild-and-crazy-sexual act to impress the former that she is her own person and no longer the fearful younger sister. That she has to make a spectacle of her sexual freedom in front of her older sister means that she’s still an emotional prisoner of her older sister, perhaps even a psychological cripple, stunted like the midgets who are adults but small like children. Indeed, the younger sister even brings some sex stud to the hotel in plain view of her son, who then runs off to inform his aunt. Thus, it’s as if the younger sister wants to be found out by the older sister. Her sexual freedom isn’t natural and spontaneous but orchestrated to be discovered by her sister; it betrays her ongoing psychological dependence on the sister; it’s as if only by driving the older sister to death can the younger sister be free. All said and done, maybe it has something to do with Bergman’s mother having cuckolded his father. Bergman probably both understood and hated his mother. He understood his mother because he couldn’t stand his father either, but then, no one wants to discover that the mother is a traitor to the family.) In contrast, THE SHINING is played on many keys and scales, its intertwining of ‘serious’ and ‘fun’ and of eccentricity and formula allowing for unending creative maneuvers and variations. Perhaps, THE SHINING has less ‘sober truth’ to offer than THE SILENCE does, but meandering can be more tantalizing than meaning in art. Meaning, once understood, is simply what it is. But meanderings continue to fascinate because the focus is more on the journey than the discovery. The possible meanings of THE SHINING could probably be summed up in a few sentences — not unlike CliffNotes with great literature — , but then, art is less about the what than the how something is said. In some cases, the expressive potential is multiplied when art is crossbred with genre. Some artists work like lumberjacks chopping down all the trees that obscure the view of the truth. Once the trees have been cleared, we can see the terrain for what it is, but then, we lose interest. Some people may admire the works of Todd Solondnz but not yours truly. Some may consider him ‘courageous’ and ‘daring’ for showing life as it really is, but it’s like pulling out one’s booger and popping one’s zits and saying, "this is the real me, and you’re no better." After awhile, who cares? It’s like someone taking a dump out in the open, forcing others to see the feces squeezing out of his ass and smell the odor spreading all around. And the same kind of dreariness surrounds the films of Michael Haneke who is unrelenting in his disgust for humanity, or at least, white humanity. Kubrick didn’t feel this obsessive need to chop down false-trees-obscuring-the-view-of-truth. He accepted the reality that truth is obscured by obstacles and appreciated that life was actually made more interesting by the maze of falsehoods. The game of life was the real meaning of life, a key element of Mamet’s works as well — before he got didactic with his newfound arch-libertarianism and hardcore militant Zionism. Remove the obstacles of the maze, and the mouse can go straight for the cheese and call it the truth. But maybe the more important truth is inherent in the nature of obstacles themselves, how they lead and mislead us on a journey to the truth, and it may be that very journey that is the greater truth. The story of ODYSSEY wouldn’t be much if Odysseus had gone straight home. It’s the detours and obstacles that add up to a richer and more mysterious kind of truth.

Of course, most genre movies are self-enclosed universes with no interest in truth whatsoever, recycling/revamping the same formula of cops-and-robbers, dungeons and dragons, heroes and villains, or boy and girl with slight variations. But sometimes, real artists use genre as the base or springboard for genuine concerns about the inner life and/or the world we live in. Instead of a hide-and-seek between self-enclosed genre elements, it becomes a hide-and-seek between facade and reality(with the implication that so much of real life is genre-istic as well, since we often wear masks and take on social roles and follow certain conventions in our lives. After all, we can’t at all times be the ‘real me’ in public, and even in private, we often think of ourselves in relation to the shared cultural icons and images that inhabit our minds. Also, our very experience of reality tends towards fantasy because our eyes see outwards but
never inwards. Without a mirror, camera, or clear pool of water, we would never know how we look. Since we don’t see ourselves most of the time, we can hold an ideal image of ourselves in our minds at odds with reality. Young girls can look at Bella of TWILIGHT and imagine themselves to be like her even if they themselves may be a bunch of plain janes. Because others see and hear your real physical self while you can’t — without reflective or recording devices — , in some ways other people know the real you more than you can know yourself. You own the inside of yourself, but others own the outside of you; they see you but you don’t see you. Also, there’s the allure of role-playing. The kidnaper in HIGH AND LOW even takes it upon himself to consciously play the role of ‘bad guy’ with a certain relish; he acts as if above reality and human emotions, as if his nihilistic philosophy of life and cool/hipster attitude shield him from the fate of ordinary people in the real world; he plays the crime as a rigged game, and he knows he wins either way. If the ransom is paid, he gets the money and wins materially; if the ransom isn’t paid, it vindicates his view of the rich as heartless pigs, and he wins philosophically). Some films do have truth embedded in the genre, and the game of hide-and-seek — as in M, THE KILLING, HIGH AND LOW, TOUCH OF EVIL, THE SHINING, and L’APPARTEMENT — makes for provocative viewing. Indeed, even after you know the ending, re-viewing can be just as or even more rewarding because the journey through the maze is so multi-faceted and intriguing, so much so one can almost believe the ending might be different with every new viewing.
While Bergman and Fellini were among the greatest filmmakers, I don’t revisit their films often whereas I never tire of REAR WINDOW and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. This isn’t necessarily to say one kind of film is better than the other but to point out that genre-art-fusion offers more halls-of-mirrors in the corridors between the entrance and the exit.
This difference is readily apparent when we compare MIRACLE MILE with TREE OF LIFE.
TREE OF LIFE is a full-blown ‘art film’ whereas MIRACLE MILE is a genre-art-fusion-film, and for me at least, the card-game of MIRACLE MILE is infinitely more interesting that the sermonizing of Malick’s magnum opus or maggot offal. (But to be clear, I think TREE OF LIFE is one of those art films that utterly fail as art, and therefore, in no way, shape, or form am I suggesting that genre is superior to art. Perhaps, one of the problems is the absence of any dramatic or emotional center in Malick’s flim-flam film. For me, DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is much more effective in exploring the life of the inner mind/soul. Its power derives from the sense that imagination and memories have value precisely because our souls are trapped in our physical prisons, which in the case of Jean Do, is paralyzed but for his one eye. Thus, there’s a kind of necessary escapism and tragic nobility to Jean Do’s journeys through the sights and sounds within his memory bank. We value Jean Do’s winds of imagination in relation to the heavy anchor that moors his body. In a similar sense, we can understand why the debilitated Roger Ebert may have found even more meaning in cinema in the last ten yrs of his life. TREE OF LIFE, in contrast, come across as idle mumbo jumbo narcissistic lyricism of some guy who just prefers new age flakery to anything that has anything to do with reality. It feels like a combo of flashy MTV stylistics and incessant uploading of photos and videos on facebook while traveling around the world, which may explain why so many young people weaned on iPads and other such gadgets mistake it as a masterpiece that speaks to them.)
If some ‘art films’ strain to be opaque and obscure — mostly to mask their lack of substance, meaning, or imagination — , TREE OF LIFE gushes with the most infantile blathering about the Meaning of Life. In a nutshell, it says are two forces governing the cosmic way and human soul — since humans are extensions of the cosmos — , and they are ‘nature’ that is all about power, control, and domination, AND ‘grace’ that is all about giving, surrender, understanding, and peace. It’s yin and yang as tuffy-ruff and fluffy-duff(and murmured in the most preciously prayerful voice-over narration that had me alternately rolling my eyes or giggling uncontrollably. Malick probably meant the aural tone to suggest a telepathic tuning into the inner voice of the heart.) By golly, the film tells us that both tuffy-ruff and fluffy-duff are necessary and integral to the universe, with both sublimely spectacular and painfully tragic results. Cosmos exists because there was the Big Bang and massive fireballs that became the stars. But violent energy alone doesn’t create the stuff of life. Earth nurtures life because it’s removed from the sun and has cool water and blue skies. Through life, the cosmos came upon the poetic, elegant, intricate, and fragile. But life on Earth is energized by the sun, and life too is a struggle for power and domination among different organisms. But life isn’t only about struggle and violence but also about sensitivity and understanding, and this essence is perhaps truest between mother and children. If the father principle represents the cosmic force of control and domination, the mother principle represents the peace and calm away from the fireballs of creative violence. And because we are all offsprings of mothers and warm creatures of a cooled planet, there is some grace within all of us. Notice that in THIN RED LINE, the Japanese soldiers at the end didn’t shoot the American right away. A part of them searched their own souls and reached out to him — if only ‘spiritually’ and ‘psychically’ — before pulling the trigger. The scene is alluded to in TREE OF LIFE when, quite hilariously, a dinosaur comes upon a sick dying dinosaur, and instead of killing and eating it, exhibits an element of ‘grace’ and slunkers away. (New Age flakiness really jumps the shark or dino there.) So, even in the most brutal combat among men or harrowing encounter among dinosaurs, there is an element of ‘grace’ within living beings. And throughout the film, we see this tension between ‘nature’ and ‘grace’. Neither can do without the other, they are indeed opposites that repel as well as attract one another. They are complementary but also confrontational. ‘Nature’ must lead, fight, and protect. ‘Grace’ must forgive, accept, and maintain peace. There is also the element of time. Father dominates the sons, but in time, the son grows older and challenges the ‘nature’ authority of the father. The son is torn between the nature principle of the father and the grace principle of the mother — though Negroes who grow up with trashy single mothers are a different story; indeed, it’s like Negroes grow up with ‘nature’ and ‘nature’, what with both Negro males and Negro females being crazy and wild, and since the Negro father is often absent, the Negro mother becomes extra gorillian-like; but then, I suppose a lot of whites are now growing up under ‘grace’ and ‘grace’ since so many straight white male fathers are pansy-ass homomaniacs who bend over to the gay agenda and castrated worshipers of Jewish privilege and power; most straight white males have been so castrated that they cower before bitchy gays who have bigger balls and guts; when straight guys submit to the demands of silly fecal-penetrative fruiters, you know civilization is entering into a decadent phase. It used to be that women relied on tough men for protection and survival. But in the modern West filled with peace and prosperity, especially in places like Sweden, the male principle has become less valuable since society has become so safe. Thus, if the female principle once yielded to the protective male principle, it now feels independent in a safe and orderly world and sees the male principle as the problem. In a world of hostile forces, women rely on tough men for protection. But with the hostile forces gone, women see tough males as oppressors than protectors, and so, the male principle becomes the target of ‘social progress’. But female nature also desires tough manly man, and if the men of society have been ‘pussified’, women must seek sexual pleasure from OTHER men — especially Negroes. Sweden is a strange case because the white feminine principle that now rules that nation feels both motherly and whore-ish sluttishness toward black Africans. One part of the Swedish feminine principle wants to save, hold, and nurture the poor African baby, but another part of Swedish feminine principle wants to be humped and conquered by the Negro stud. If tough white male principle is politically incorrect as white males are associated with ‘racism’ and ‘patriarchy’, tough black male principle is still okay because blacks have been associated with ‘victim-hood’. It’s a very neurotic social arrangement. With increasing social disorder arising from increased immigration from Africa, Swedish order may break down, and white women may one day have to rely on tough white men again, but for now, tough white maleness has been banned by law as ‘racist’. America has more experience with the problems of tough black maleness, which is why liberals are trying to partially castrate blacks by condemning black behavior as ‘homophobic’. (Some might say the decadence began in the 1960s, but I don’t not so sure. The movements and demands of the 60s, as excessive and irresponsible as many of them may have been, were genuine bursts of new energy, creativity, and liberty searching for truths and answers beyond staid officialdom and mass conformity. In contrast, all the new ‘transgressive’ and ‘subversive’ trends today have been carefully crafted and orchestrated by the elite globalist powers-that-be in order to maximize Jewish-and-gay supremacy over the rest of the populace who are being turned into sheep dosed on pop culture hedonism and statist propaganda. There’s a big difference between John Sebastian singing "Younger Generation" with all his heart — even if a stupid one — and Lady Gaga/Tyler Perry strutting around as official sluts of the New World Order. Also, even decadence in the 1960s was appreciated as decadence; it wasn’t sold as the New Morality. In the 60s, the people of difference knew they were different and wanted to be different. Today, with garbage like ‘gay marriage’, being ‘different’ is the new orthodoxy, the new norm. In a way, it reflects the change from Jewish mind-set from the feisty underdog minority to the fussy overlord minority.)
Even as the father and son(who looks like a miniature version of the Jim Caviezel character in THIN RED LINE) grow older and apart, a part of the son always remains the ‘child’ in relation to the father, and this psychological truth is conveyed in TREE OF LIFE with almost no sign of aging on the parents and with the son played by the same young boy even as the character is supposed to be growing older and bigger, even capable of threatening his once fearsome father. The scene where the son kneels down and helps his father with weeding the yard is similar to a moment in Henry Williamson’s CHRONICLE OF ANCIENT SUNLIGHT: all through his childhood, the young Philip Maddison lived in fear of his father and loved his gentle mother; later, as a young man returned home, he watches his aged father working on the cabbage patch and sees a pitiable figure than a fearsome giant.
The various themes of TREE OF LIFE could have been approached in interesting ways, but Malick’s treatment is a total disaster from beginning to end. It’s the worst kind of concoction of the sugary and flaky with the fanciful and pompous. The whole beginning section with the cosmos and stuff is like rehashing of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS with voice-over narration of fortune cookie wisdom. Later, there are ‘kumbaya’ raptures of wonderful souls getting all gushy-wushy and hugging one another and holding hands, the sort of thing you’ve seen a million times in ‘reach out and touch someone’ ATT commercials.
I can tolerate and even enjoy some level of flakiness and pictorialism. For what they are worth, KOYAANISQATSI and BARAKA have some ravishing images. The New Age message didn’t amount to much, but they had value as travelogues for most of us who don’t get to travel extensively all that often. Purely as a festival of images, they had a certain charm — and genuine moments of wonderment — , and one could always do worse(like watching a latter-day Malick film). The problem with TREE OF LIFE isn’t pictorialism per se. Overabundance of pretty pictures may seem artificial, an all too cherry-picked and airbrushed view of reality, but prettiness is always pretty to look at. The real problem is TREE OF LIFE’s inane conflation of pretty pictures with profundity and spirituality. Worse, Malick’s parade of pretty pictures is mostly on the level of postcards, fashion magazines, TV commercials, and, at best, coffee table photo books and PBS documentaries. It’s the sort of thing you’ve seen a thousand times on NOVA science specials or National Geographic; the sort of imagery used to sell mattresses, shampoos, cell phones, and beer. The sort of thing you see in gift shops at tourist magnets.
There was already an element of preciousness in BADLANDS and an element of prettiness in DAYS OF HEAVEN, but Malick the artist managed to hold them in check. The poetic musings of the Sissy Spacek character — I guess she was ‘grace’ to her beau’s aggressive and pathological ‘nature’ — were counterposed with the murder spree of her soulless prince charming(or harming). DAYS OF HEAVEN basked too much in the glow of nostalgia(ala Andrew Wyeth), but the overripe prettiness was also ripped open with the teeth of realism. Like the voice-over narration of the young girl that traipses between the poetic and the plain, DAYS OF HEAVEN never loses sight of earth in the search of heaven. (While there are plenty of grim and violent things in THIN RED LINE, THE NEW WORLD, and TREE OF LIFE, Malick’s mind seem to be in heaven at all times, as if, even in the heat of battle between armies or cultures, he’s in a state of everlasting zen that cannot be perturbed by problems of the world.) In contrast, TREE OF LIFE is vapid and empty-headed like some of Fellini’s later films. Malick seems to confuse the wizardry of wow with the wisdom of Tao. It’s as if he’s peered into the mind of God or his mind itself has gained godliness. Whatever tripe trickling out of his head is supposedly pregnant with meaning about everything before, after, below, over, in front, and behind the sun. So, there was no attempt to pull everything together and arrive at some sort of sense; and no effort to splash some cold water on himself to realize that maybe he’s not the greatest philosopher-prophet-artist of all time. Instead, we are to believe that truth and meaning are intrinsic to every frame of TREE OF LIFE because, by golly, the visions and ideas came from Malick himself.

This is all the more insufferable because most of the imagery is cliched, recycled, and repetitious. In FORREST GUMP — another kumbaya crap movie — , there was the feather of fortune that hovered angel-like all around saint Gump who, though blown every which way by the turbulent winds of history, transcending fate with faith. That was pretty feather-brained as metaphors go, but Malick goes one better by turning cameras themselves into fleeting, floating, and fluttering feathers roiling all around the characters. But the effect is less airy than airheaded, especially when the characters are hardly presented as anything beyond symbols or archetypes. The father is Mr. Nature, the mother is Princess Grace, the brother is Lost Innocence, and the main character as Malick’s alter ego is Boy-Am-I-So-Confused-And-In-Need-Of-Salvation-But-Look-Ma-Look-Pa-I-Found-It-By-Making-This-Movie-That-Is-The-Greatest-Philosophical-Spiritual-Biographical-And-Artistic-Achievement-In-Human-History-No-Make-That-Cosmic-History. Maybe all this stuff has personal meaning to Malick in the way family photo albums do in every home, but we don’t know Malick’s family nor does TREE OF LIFE make us want to know or care. I mean not all of us can relate to someone who had Tuffy-Ruff Principle as father and Fluffy-Duff Principle as mother. If Malick wanted to make a movie for himself, he could have sat home and used computer software to cut-and-paste and splice together snippets of family photos, home videos, and whatnot — further vamped by visual effects that are now dime-a-dozen and can even be downloaded free from the internet — and then posted it on youtube(as so many have done), and the result would have been hardly better or worse. But an ego like Malick’s knows no bounds. TREE OF LIFE is, at once, a specimen of movie-I-made-for-myself(and audience be damned if it doesn’t like it) and universal-movie-for-all-time-for-all-peoples-in-all-places. TREE OF LIFE is a case of a would-be-genius declaring that he’s so special that he can do as he pleases to please himself, but, at the same time, expecting us to gratefully accept his biography, ideas, and imagination as a magic fount generously bestowed onto us poor dumb slobs to draw water from.
No matter how personal a work of art, the artist has to be mindful of the fact that he’s making it for others who don’t have a psychic connection to his heart. Thus, self-allusions that have meaning only for the artist have no meaning for the rest of us. A rock concert ticket stub that holds meaning to the person who attended the concert in a special time of his or her life is just a piece of paper to the rest of us. For the stub to have meaning for others, it has to be contextualized within the larger biographical and cultural framework. In TREE OF LIFE, Malick doesn’t even bother to shape the details into something that may resonate deeper for the rest of us. It’s as if Malick is flipping through his family photo album and rhapsodizing on the piano in blissful ignorance of the fact that the audience may not feel whatever he’s feeling. His sense of self-importance seems, at once, to snub us as unworthy of being privy to the secrets of his heart AND to assume that his personal truths are so great that explanation or intelligibility of any kind is unnecessary for us to feel the sacred vibes. (This is how gods think: "we are so mysterious and powerful for you humans to ever understand us, but we are also such paragons of beauty and truth that our holiness radiates and permeates everything and everyone. Malick is telling us to have faith in him.) Perhaps, Malick doesn’t need to characterize the people in the film for himself since the mere glance of them releases torrents of memory about his own life and family, on whom they’re based. But we don’t know his family or him personally, so the fractal imagery of the ‘characters’ leave no lasting impression on us. Because we cannot access the personal core of the character’s hopes, dreams, and tragedies — as Malick never calms down to carve out the contours of his characters, as if characterization is so passe and ‘conventional’ — , we can only approach the film in terms of thematic grandiosity, the stuff about ‘nature’ and ‘grace’. TREE OF LIFE is paradoxically entirely private and entirely generic, i.e. Malick is too guarded about his past to let us in on the secret — and therefore, much of the film remains cryptic and enigmatic(like Tarkovsky’s MIRROR) — and too pompous in his ego not to use his life lesson as the story of the cosmos. It is a form of totalitarianism, not unlike the Stalin and Mao cult where the Great Leader was, at once, too secretive to be accessed/understood by the people and too megalomaniacal not to be promoted as the unifying and guiding spirit of the nation.
The result is meaningful to us in the most generic way, such as ‘love is good’, ‘forgive pa’, ‘we are all sinners’, ‘I love ma’, ‘hold the hands of a Negress and feel the magic’, and etc. We can get this crap from watching Oprah or listening to the New-Age-smooth-Jazz-hipster-infantile-yammering of Barack Obama. TREE OF LIFE is really the biggest version of thumbsucking as conceptual art. I mean what are we to make of lines like, "Love everyone, every leaf, and every ray of life"? Like character Benjamin Button, is Malick growing backwards and turning infantile?

The film is also utterly self-serving and self-aggrandizing. In one scene, we are told that the kid’s father(or Pa Nature or Mr. Tuffy-Ruff) could have been a great musician but put his dream aside. Get it? We are to assume that the great Malick didn’t make the same mistake like his father did and instead fulfilled his creative/spiritual calling in life(and in the life of the cosmos). He didn’t get sidetracked by a career and instead found meaning by getting a degree in philosophy, found truth by journeying around the world, and found his cosmic calling by making the greatest work of art of all time — indeed a work that challenges the universe itself in its profundity — that reveals the spiritual links among all things, everything from star dust to formation of stars to sick dinosaur whose head is stomped on by another dinosaur to exploding volcanos to a white family in Waco to the heavenly act of holding a Negress’s hands. As a 3D Omni-Max presentation, I’m sure it also appealed to the fans of AVATAR.

The danger of taking on a project like TREE OF LIFE — I mean get a load of the title — is pompousness, which is all the more reason for the artist to keep his head on his shoulder. Because the subject is inherently so grandiose and sprawling, the artist has to maintain a map of where he’s going.
Why are 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and ANDREI RUBLEV great films? Kubrick touched on big themes but with a powerful sense of design and discipline in his conception and execution. He understood that he could easily get lost with the material. (The second half of APOCALYPSE NOW and much of Werner Herzog’s FITZCARRALDO, impressive as they are as feats of film-making, become a bit dreary because the maps of artistic vision got lost along the way — or were never fully plotted in the first place. I suspect that much of Malick’s hyper-style in latest films is really to distract us from the lack of focus and overall sense. It’s like a musician dazzling the audiences with all sorts of licks and hooks because he has no real melody to play. If a film is too minutely mapped out in terms of plot and meaning, it can turn out to be mechanical and predictable, like THE MISSION by Roland Joffe. Most often, the best kind of film comes with a map with multitudinous directional possibilities than a single-minded directional purpose.) ANDREI RUBLEV also reaches for big themes, but Tarkovsky holds them together by grounding the story in a powerfully dark and dangerous world, that of medieval Russia. TREE OF LIFE is rootless. It isn’t anchored to anything and just drifts about like dandelion seeds. Malick takes his purported genius, wisdom, and greatness as givens and seems to think he only needs to say and show whatever he feels at any given moment to impart his awe-inspiring lessons to the benighted fortunate to blessed by his cosmic-conscious vision. Though a fair amount of critics were irritated by TREE OF LIFE — sanity is still alive in this world — , plenty of critics hailed it as a masterpiece(and many more strained to convince themselves that they saw one) because the culture of cinephilia demands ‘great auteurs’, and in this day and age when so many are worried about the future of the cinematic art, there is a need for faith. Thus, even a film like THERE WILL BE BLOOD has been hailed by some as ‘one of the greatest films of all time’. (BLOOD has its strengths but mostly emulates the greatness of other films than finding and defining its own. Anderson tried to be the next Fellini with BOOGIE NIGHTS, the next Altman with MAGNOLIA, and the next Welles and Huston with THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but we are left asking... "but when will Anderson be Anderson?")
Because of the genuine strengths of BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN — and Malick’s long absence from filmmaking that fueled the myth of ‘missing genius’ — , tremendous goodwill gathered around Malick, and his return to filmmaking with THIN RED LINE was one of the most hyped events in film history(indeed, with just about every big-name Hollywood actor signing up for cameos in it). People were so awed by the idea of Malick’s comeback that they overlooked THIN RED LINE’s failures, which were quite apparent to me on first viewing, but I too desperately tried to convince myself that there was something ‘great’ about it — though it took me several attempts to get through the whole thing without my mind wandering off every other scene. THE NEW WORLD has a hardcore fanbase — mostly schmorky SWPL liberal boys like Matt Zoller Seitz but then nutjob eccentrics like N.P. Thompson as well — , but the enthusiasm began to wane in the critical community as a whole, though most critics were still too reverential to complain too loudly. I’ve never been able to sit through more than 30 minutes of THE NEW WORLD without feeling sick; it’s like DANCES WITH WOLVES made in collaboration by Tarkovsky and Stan Brakhage. Then came TREE OF LIFE, a travesty of cosmic proportions that should have been laughed off the screen, a film so bad that maybe it’s time for another meteor to strike our planet and bring an end to the species that could create something so spectacularly mindless.
So, why have so many people been suckered by Malick’s movie? I suppose there are lots of liberal flakes and schmorks working in and around the film community, but then, TREE OF LIFE isn’t particularly political. Maybe younger critics need to claim their own great auteur, and Malick, though an old director by now, has come to be that man, especially since he reemerged with a New Age baptismal born-again career just when the so-called millennial generation was coming into its own. Most of the old masters are dead and gone, and no new ‘auteur’ — PT Anderson, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Richard Linklater, Noah Baumbach, David O’Russell, etc. — has been able to garner the kind of critical consensus that big names once commanded from the 1950s to the 1970s. For a time, just about everyone who loved movies hailed Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Kubrick, Altman, Truffaut, Bunuel, and etc. as great directors. Today, the new big names have their champions but also hordes of detractors and unbelievers. As for Scorsese, his best days were up to the early 90s, so he’s been claimed by earlier generations. Spielberg is still working as a true master of the form, but populism and lack of edge have kept him from becoming a bona fide cult icon among cinephiles. Malick, in contrast, bridges the 1970s with the world of today. He was part of the mythical era of New Hollywood, but then, returned with a drastically new style in the late 90s. So, younger cinephiles see him as both one of their own and as the Yoda-like figure who links them to the mythic era of the 1970s. He seems both ancient and wise, a man from a long lost era, AND hip and new, an artist of refreshing relevance and innocence to a younger generation who grew up with kumbaya and MTV. He is to young ones what E.T. — super genius from another planet but also cuddly friend to children — was to Elliott.

Kubrick died in 1999. So, who else is left but Malick? Younger generation of critics don’t have their Kubrick, their Kurosawa, their Bresson, and their Godard, especially since most younger ‘auteurs’, having grown up with pampered privilege(and emotionally having stopped growing altogether in their late teens in a culture that is so youth-centric, hipster-hedonistic, and kumbaya-infantile) inside a culture cocoon of post-modernist self-reflexivity and multi-mutual-referentiality, have little sense of reality outside the culture they consume, made all the worse by the Americanization and MTV-ization of the global community whereby one can make believe that popular culture is the ideal, spiritual, and moral glue that holds the entire global community together. It’s no wonder that something like ‘gay marriage’ comes so easily among so many young people(but then, their parents and even their boomer grandparents grew up steeped in and surrounded by popular culture as not merely entertainment but the very ideal vision of life). While popular culture was a big deal prior to the rise of the boomers, it was never mistaken for the reality of family, work, and the world of real problems. One walked into a movie but walked back out to reality; in the end, ‘there was no place like home’. One listened to the radio, but when it was turned off, and there was the reality of shared family life that ate dinner together. But once boomer children had their own rooms, own TV sets, and their own stereos — and when popular culture fused with the claims of personal art — , a new generation began to favor the pop cultural cocoon over reality and remake reality according to pop cultural assumptions, and this has gotten even truer with every new generation. Now, pop culture is so powerful that a TV sitcom like WILL & GRACE can turn millions of young kids to ‘gay marriage’. Homosexuality is an unnatural act where deviant men foolishly and grossly stick their sex organs into the fecal holes of other men, but this real side of homosexuality makes no impression on young people whose experience of homo-ness is purely cultural via TV shows and celebrity mania where homos are presented as angels and saints. Thus, so many straight young people today are homomaniacs, like so many mindless girls were Beatlemaniacs in the early 60s. Someone who knows and cares about reality knows about the problems pertaining to race, but most pop-culturalized Americans cling to the image of the mountain-sized Negro who wuvs a wittle white mouse in GREEN MILE. The reality of sex and the need for sexual responsibility is plain to anyone who knows about reality, but so many people are fixated with pop culture politics of Vagina-hollering and Slut Pride parades. In reality, the KKK has no power whereas whites are routinely the victims of black thugs and Jewish crooks, but most white college kids raised on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and movies like MISSISSIPPI BURNING and DJANGO UNCHAINED get all hyper about the KKK laying siege to college campuses across the nation.
Anyway, the Godard that still makes films excites no one but the diehardcore base of cine-vegans who think they know what Richard Brody is talking about(when even Richard Brody doesn’t know what he’s talking about). And because of the pampered infantilism and/or niche-focused hipsterism of the new generation of directors, there’s been a real lack of film artists with adult sensibilities who tackle big important themes as Kurosawa, Antonioni, Kubrick, Bergman, Resnais, Wertmuller, and others had done in the past. It’s as if the age of great giants and dinosaurs in cinema is over, and the new breed of mammalian filmmakers are content to scurry around for much smaller grubs. Then, how exciting to know that Malick is with us and making still Big Themes Movies as an ‘auteur’, a kind of ‘Jurassic Park’ reanimation of the kind of film artist that was thought to have gone extinct forever. But then, is the revived Malick the real thing or a horrible mutation of what had once been a true artist? (Concerning the handful of filmmakers who still take on Big Themes, I prefer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu over Malick, if only because Inarritu has a better grasp of and more feeling for his characters than Malick who hovers godlike around his characters. BABEL and BIUTIFUL have problems — as fancy rehashing of humanism and ennui-ism, as well as glossy mixing of sentimentalism and neo-liberal narcissism — , but their hearts are in the right place even if their heads aren’t. With Malick, the mind and heart have fused into a thumb to suck for the self-made Star Child of Boomer Spirituality. Indeed, for all the yammering about ‘nature’ and ‘grace’, there’s little tension in TREE OF LIFE because everything is so totally Malick. It might as well be called "My Life as the Universe".) As for the up-n-coming generation of cinephiles, I suppose young people are suckers for anything, especially as they have such poor grasp of reality as they live in the part of the world that is the center of international Zionist globalism. Monomania and monopoly are not good for truth, but we live in a Jewish-controlled world of monomaniacal Jewish Supremacism that has monopolistic hold over the powerful institutions in this country. There was so much truths and counter-truths in the 1960s and 1970s because of the constant clashes among the generations, races, and ethnic groups. Every side was battling it out for no single side held monopoly power. There was the power of Jews in the media, the power of Wasps in government, the power of Catholics in local communities, the power of the radical left, the power of the racial right, the power of angry Negroes, the power of young people crazy about rock music, the power of old people who couldn’t stand rock music, the power of big business, the power of big labor, and etc. Today, we live in a world where Wall Street, Ivy League universities, Washington, Hollywood and TV, Radio, News Media, nearly all the major think-tanks, government bureaucracies, and big cities(especially New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami) are all controlled by globalist Jewish supremacists and their mini-me gay cabal. And since boomers are now the old people and since boomers shaped and controlled the minds of the younger generations — and they’re all addicted to ‘youth culture’ — , there isn’t even much in the way of generational conflict. And since Big Labor was destroyed under Clinton who took orders from globalist Jews, there’s no labor power to stand up to Jewish business power that imports cheaper foreign labor and exports jobs overseas to repressive nations like China, India, and Mexico. Both political parties are controlled by Jews: Democratic Party by liberal Zionists and the GOP by neocon Zionists. And Google and Facebook, the new giants of information, are totally owned and controlled by Jews; and there are three Jews on the Supreme Court and even non-Jews are deathly afraid of Jews. How can we have any kind of truth in this reality where the monomaniacal monopoly of the Jews control all and works to create a new consensus of political correctness for all of us? Some may think that with the rise of diversity, there will be more voices and views, but the facts say different: most blacks are stupid and follow popular culture, most Hispanics follow the agenda of white conquistador Hispanics who take their cues from Jewish globalists, and most Asian-Americans are conformist-minded drones who just think and do as Jewish professors instruct them(and, Jewish professors are telling the yellows to hate the ‘evil racist privileged whites’). Ideally, the white conservative community should serve as the main critic and opponent against Jewish power since Jews are mostly ‘liberal’, but most conservatives are either Creationism-believing dummies, dimwits with lots of guns but no brains and talent, or shameless whores of Wall Street and Jewish power. How can there be any real truth in such a world that has been Malickized by Jewish power?
Since young people today are so addicted to gimmickry and gimcrackery, they don’t mind the fragmentary-ness of TREE OF LIFE, especially they’re so used to digi-cording and editing all sorts of things on computers or even smart phones. For them, TREE OF LIFE is cinema as cosmic-and-autobiographical texting and video-sharing. It’s no wonder that David Thomson mentioned how he caught his son watching bits of TREE OF LIFE on the iPad or some such device. Malick might disdain such ‘use’ of his film, but its lack of meaningful structure invites such uses. One can just about start watching TREE OF LIFE at any point, and it won’t make any more or any less sense. It’s really a flurry of snapshots and video-fragments blowing in the wind. It’s the most expensive youtube video ever made. It might have the same kind of appeal for today’s young that Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD and Allen Ginsburg’s HOWL did for boomers in the 1950s/1960s: a kind of ‘anything goes’ celebration of spontaneity of the wandering soul in search for who-knows-what-but-maybe-you’ll-sort-of-know-when-you-get-there. I’ve only read the first few chapters of ON THE ROAD, so I can speak as one-who-knows, but its appeal seems to have been less for its intrinsic literary value than for its verve and flow of life as adventure and risk-taking. Because of its freeform structure, readers back in the day may have felt a liberating sense that the story can be and change into anything as it went along — and if earlier literary experimentations of James Joyce and William Faulkner had been decidedly high brow and even difficult, Kerouac’s experiment was inviting, accessible, and about the kind of life that young people in the late 50s and 60s could imagine for themselves. It offered a new possibility of rules beyond the simple dichotomy of obedience and opposition: a new sense holding open the possibility of making and living by one’s own rules, like fermenting homemade wine to one’s own tastes. It might have appealed to many young people as something like the 3D printing of the independent soul. (Of course, where ON THE ROAD and TREE OF LIFE differ significantly is that Kerouac held open the possibility of adventure minus the finalizing answers, whereas Malick would have us believe he’s been on an epic journey not only through life but the cosmos, and has returned to bestow us with a spiritual gift that reveals the ultimate meaning of life and death and everything between them. It amuses me that the very people who think L. Ron Hubbard was a loony take the latter-day Malick so seriously.) For boomers who dug Kerouac, the burst of spontaneity in the films Cassavetes and Godard surely also held promise, but maybe old-style spontaneity, with all its rough edges and consequentiality(that every action has an equal and opposite reaction), doesn’t really speak to most young people today who prefer a more idolized form of cultural expression. For, all said and done, there’s real pain along with the pleasure in the works of Cassavetes and Godard(and Kesey and perhaps Kerouac), whereas the current culture of packaged idolization maximizes the pleasure as orgasmic soma while anestheticizing the pain into an acceptably sado-masochistic form of cultural orgy, as in Tarantino’s movies(except his first one) where the blood and gore carry no real emotion or sensation and only signal us to laugh properly as hipsters; it packages political incorrectness into political correctness, creating a whole new cottage industry delving into what is acceptable ‘hipster racism’ without the hurt and what is unacceptable ‘real racism’ with the intolerable hurt. This is to be expected in the age of Tina Fey who offers acceptably biting ‘satire’ with a pretty face. Even lewdness and skankery are heavily polished and packaged in today’s culture, more plastic than raw. Horny-porny Lady Gaga might as well be a plastic doll.
And even young intellectual types watch a lot of stuff like LORD OF THE RINGS movies and MATRIX movies — and play a lot of video games — , all of which are minutely organized and designed(despite their nonstop violence and mayhem, indeed as if chaos itself has been tamed into order via pop fascist aesthetics), and so, freeform expression, with all its ‘rough’ edges and thorny inconveniences, isn’t sufficient to excite today’s young cinephiles. What TREE OF LIFE offers is an immaculately scrubbed and polished freeform travel through time and space(of humans, life on earth, and the cosmos) where all the blemishes of freedom have been airbrushed out — it’s like seedless watermelon — , and those qualities may have won over the younger cinephiles of the Age of Idolism. TREE OF LIFE is meant to overwhelm the senses and emotions, but it’s all so very ‘clean’, as Paul McCartney’s ‘grandfather’ in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT kept saying. It’s meant to be overpowering stuff, but it was designed to make us feel safe at all times, like on amusement park rides. It offers the faux-thrill of ‘danger’, but we know it comes with seat-belts. In contrast, the films of Godard, Cassavetes, Peckinpah, and early Malick may have been less spectacular as rough rides in jalopies, but in the unprotected sensation of every bump and bruise along the road, there was a real sense of danger in where the stories were taking us.

Possibly, due to his philosophical/intellectual training, Malick may be obsessed with hidden links between everything. But, Malick is temperamentally more a spiritualist — and sermonizer — than an intellectual, which may explain the declining rigor in his thought-processes. Kubrick, for instance, was also fascinated with veiled connections between past and present, rational and irrational, logical and random. Unlike Malick, Kubrick kept his mind clear and dispassionate(which is not the same thing as unemotional); what characterizes Kubrick’s films is not clinical lack of emotions but zen-like control over emotions. I suspect one of the reasons why Kubrick finally decided not to make ARYAN PAPERS — the planned Holocaust film — was the difficulty on his part to control his emotions on a subject so personally significant for his Tribe. (Purportedly, Kubrick decided against it since Spielberg did it first with SCHINDLER’S LIST, but then, Kubrick made Vietnam films after Cimino, Coppola, and Stone, so I don’t really see that as the main factor.) Kubrick maintained a certain level of ‘objectivity’ or ‘distance’ by resorting to satirized caricatures, multiple narratives(that undermined the centrality of subjective narrative), flat styles of acting(especially in 2001 and BARRY LYNDON) that was perhaps inspired by Bresson, emphasis on architectural space as a ‘main character’(as with Tati’s PLAYTIME), razor-sharp reptilian gaze of the camera(observing warm-blooded pain without blinking and flinching), and a stylistic formalism that remained independent of any single psychological point of view, i.e. characters inhabit than dominate the Kubrickian landscape; they are renters/tourists than owners/settlers. (Kubrick’s ‘cold gaze’ sometimes got him in trouble, especially with A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Pauline Kael, in her review, wrote that Kubrick had become like a soulless German scientist. Humans, as warm-blooded animals with advanced brains, are capable of great emotion, empathy, and sympathy. When we observe pain in other people — or even in animals — , we can feel the pain ourselves, much like Elliott could share the feelings of E.T. As Clinton said, "I feel your pain", a remark both humanizing and infantilizing in American politics, as if he was running not merely to be commander-in-chief but nanny-in-chief; as it turned out, he was more cum-on-her-in-mischief. Other mammals aren’t as empathetic as humans, though some are indeed capable of shared emotions, especially among pack/herd animals such as dogs, wolves, lions, hogs, elephants, dolphins, and etc. Though hostile to outsiders, animals such as wolves can be very supportive and caring of one another within the pack. Same with hippos within the herd. And dogs and cats can even sense sad feelings in humans and lend comfort. And among certain species of birds, there’s a strong bond between male and female and their young. But reptiles generally don’t feel this way. If a reptile observed suffering among other creatures — even their own — , they would just watch with an icy gaze without care. It was as if Kubrick had the cold-blooded reptilian eye to accompany his warm-blooded mammal brain, and some critics mistook his gaze for his soul. There was something of the scientist about Kubrick, and the scientific approach demands that we watch coldly for emotions cloud our objectivity and search for truth. It’s naturally human to react with strong emotions to horrors that cause injury and pain, but that aspect of human nature obscures our perception of the truth that exists regardless of how we feel or what we wish. It’s the ‘emotions’ of David in A.I. that prevents him from accepting the objective truth that he’s just a robot without a real mother. Too often, we ‘see’ reality with our emotions than with our cold eyes. A scientist must really see what is happening and what is as it really is, and this is only possible is if the emotions are calmed/cooled/controlled. A surgeon wouldn’t be able to operate if he reacted to the sight of cut-open flesh humanly, or emotionally. Most people would feel queasy and ‘feel the pain’ of flesh being cut open, but the surgeon objectively focuses on the details of the organs he’s operating on. But even as the surgeon watches with a reptilian eye, his actions are motivated by his mammalian heart/mind for medicine is all about man’s desire to relieve the suffering of fellow men. Thus, a kind of paradoxical duality exists in human action. We are human because we feel emotions, but the advancement of humanity depends on an increased ability to coldly gaze at and assess reality as it is.
We have to act coldly for warm motives, but then, even higher animals instinctively understand this, which is why wolves ruthlessly make a kill to feed their young for which they feel great affection. This is especially true in ‘good wars’ where soldiers must coldly push the button or pull the trigger to kill the ‘bad guys’ in order for the ‘good side’ to triumph. One has to act coldly but for a warm cause. This is where humans are different from both cold-blooded reptiles that feel no emotions of empathy and mammals such as dogs that are governed largely by emotions of sharing and belonging; a dog wants to love and be loved at all times. Man as mammal also lives within a world of emotions, but man is also committed to the truth and advancement, which are arrived at through a cold assessment of reality, and this is why the West advanced far ahead of the rest. If most cultures understood and explained reality in terms of warm spirituality and emotionality, the West came upon a coldly empirical and logical way to access, study, and reshape reality. For this reason, the West has been critiqued as ‘coldly rational’, ‘inhumanly heartless’, and etc., and some Negroes such as Leonard Jeffries even done called white people ‘ice people’, and the Cullen vampire clan in TWILIGHT be white and icy whereas the Indian folks be hot-blooded wolves. But since the Cullens are both icily rational and warmly romantic, I suppose they, in a way, represent the Western ideal of being coldly rational for the sake of higher warmth, which is especially embodied in the character of Carlisle, a sort of vampire doctor — you can’t make this stuff up. The only way to understand real reality is to observe it objectively, and objectivity is possible only by turning off one’s subjective emotions. There is no ‘my subjective law of gravity’ and only the objective law of gravity. Paradoxically, though objective coldness implies — at least for some — an inability to feel for others, it was this objectivity that advanced the goal of universalism that embraced all of mankind. It is via objectivity that we can speak of universal truths than local ones. Thus, while every culture had its own subjectively colored cosmology, it was the Western understanding of objective reality that unified the world in terms of gaining understanding of the forces that govern the world around us — and even across the universe. It was the cold objective science of the West that made it clear that there is no Hindu-centric science, no Sino-centric science, no Arab-centric science, and etc. There is only objective science regardless of culture, and the laws of science work the same everywhere, the implication of which is that all humans should adopt this true science and understanding of reality; and it was the West that developed the first truly objective methodology of studying history that depended on research of artifacts than on lore, legend, myth, and/or official narratives of the powers-that-be. And the cold science of archaeology taught us that all humans have common origins and are brothers under the skin — though Negroes are one bunch of brothers we can do without as they often be acting like baboons than humans. Bacteria work the same in China as in Africa as in Latin America. Chemical laws operate the same in Turkey as in Greece as in Israel as in Yemen. And this scientific sense of universality came to be applied to the human realm and affairs as well, producing and disseminating the idea that all people around the world are deserving of the same human rights. Problematically however, universality of human ‘social sciences’ didn’t jibe so well with the objective truths of human biological sciences. True science looks at humans as they really are, whereas what goes by the name of ‘social sciences’ is heavily colored by ideology that favors what humans SHOULD be like than what they really are like. Thus, even though universalists of ‘social sciences’ may want to believe that all peoples are equal everywhere — just like gravity works the same everywhere — , biological sciences show that different races have different levels of abilities, tendencies, personalities, and character traits. All humans make be generally alike in their primitive states, but civilization is the result not of generalities but of peculiarities. Among primitive folks, there’s a prevailing form of crude equality due to limited means and wealth, e.g. the lord and his slave in a savage African tribal community weren’t much different as both lived in mud huts and ran around half-naked. Civilization is about hierarchy whereby more talented peoples and individuals have the means to rise above the rest. Civilization was the rise from the crude equality of savagery. It was means for one people/culture to grow superior in power, knowledge, wealth, creativity, and potential than others. Notice how, even as we hail America as a land of equality, it is also admired as the richest, most powerful, and most advanced nation-state in the world and, as such, upheld as the template for all other nations to follow. In a primitive setting, an Einstein and a Beavis-and-Butthead wouldn’t be much different. They’d both be illiterate hunter-gatherers; Einstein may be more clever at it, but his genius couldn’t be put to much use. But in a civilized setting, a man like Einstein can conquer the secrets of the universe whereas Beavis-n-Butthead watch TV and make dumb comments about music videos. Thus, even relatively ‘minor’ differences can have huge consequences in a civilized setting. It’s like all kids, smart and dumb, are more or less equal when they learn the ABCs and such. But later, smart kids can grow up to master the art of making the atomic bomb while dumb kids will grow up to shovel shit in Louisiana. Thus, it doesn’t matter if all races are, more or less, similar. The ‘minor’ differences that Jews possess can make them owners/rulers of the entire world. Special differences matter a lot more than general similarities in a civilized setting. The guys who run Google are generally similar to all of us. They wake up, they talk, they eat, they take a dump, they play games, they tell jokes and laugh, they enjoy watching movies and listening to pop tunes. In this, they are hardly different from ‘white trash’, Negroes, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, and etc. But the Google guys do have a special difference — ultra-high Ashkenazi Jewish IQ — , and that factor makes them billionaires and globalist elites with immense power and influence while most of us ain’t got shit, not even to shovel in Louisiana as it’s been outsourced to Mexico, India, and China. So, all this crap about ‘we are similarly alike’ doesn’t hold much water in a civilized setting because ‘small differences’ can lead to tremendous differences in advanced societies where human genius can achieve so much wealth and power. As it turns out, some races have more members suited to be towering athletes/thugs while others have more members suited to geniuses/power-grabbers, and it just so happens that white folks are being squeezed between black thuggery and Jewish thinkery. Anyway, objectivity is necessary for us to better understand and assess the world, and without such understanding, it’s much more difficult for us to ‘improve’ the world. Every culture has had its medicinal theories based on its own cosmology, but why did the West bring about the greatest improvements in health? Because the West was most advanced in its objectivity about the human body and diseases. But sometimes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and this problem came to the fore in the 20th century with the rise of Marxism and Nazism. In the 19th century, Marx claimed to have arrived at an objective and scientific understanding of the workings of human history, and this objective truth of class struggle was supposed to be the key to healing the disease of human injustice. Communists in the 20th century were so sure of this ‘objective’ and ‘scientific’ truth that they went about implementing it on humanity like a surgeon on a patient. A surgeon has to bloodily cut open the patient and possibly rearrange and remove organs, but he does it with the understanding that such drastic means will save the patient. Communists tolerated so much bloodshed/violence since they saw it as a necessary surgical operation on humanity sick with the disease of ‘class exploitation’. Communists thought they were being cold-gazed but with warm hearts, i.e. they were being ruthlessly cold in their operation to save the patient of humanity. As Mao wrote in a poem in the early 60s, "cold-eyed, I gazed the world". But whatever the justification, the cold-blooded deeds of communism became the very soul of communism, culminating finally in the utter madness of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Nazism had a similar problem. Though Nazism was tagged with ‘irrationalism’ and ‘particularism’ at odds with universality of truth and primacy of science, there were actually two sides to Nazism. On the cultural sphere, Nazism was indeed a kind of national cult, even a form of spellbinding occultism in some aspects. But when it came to science and warfare, Hitler was ruthlessly ‘objective’ and ‘scientific’ in his agenda, at least in the way he defined those terms. He saw himself as the midwife birthing the new order, and he regarded all the screams of agony and pain as part of the necessary process of bringing new life into being, even if the mother has to die. His view of history was racially rooted in Aryanism, and he felt objectively convinced that the enemy of the ‘Aryans’ were the Jews. Thus, to make a safe, powerful, and prosperous world for newborn consciousness of ‘Aryanism’, the Jewish germ had to be either radically contained or eradicated. According to such ‘logic’, the Nazis as pest-controllers had to coldly wipe out the rats to prevent the spread of filth and disease. One must be cold against the enemy to protect the world of warmth among fellow ‘Aryans’. To some extent, all nations have such attitudes, no less today than yesterday. In the 90s, Americans shut their hearts to the 100,000s of starving and dying Iraqi women and children whose tragedy was the result of American-Zionist enforced sanctions because Americans were led to believe that the policy was necessary to contain the evil Saddam Hussein. Similarly, Stalin and his Jewish henchman Lazar Kaganovich shut their hearts completely to the millions of starving Ukrainians during the 1930s because they believed the ‘science of history’ necessitated class warfare against cockroaches known as the ‘kulaks’, and while the horror was taking place, there was hardly a Jew in the world that felt the slightest sympathy for the Ukrainians; not a single Jew said US or Europe should wage against the USSR to stop the democide against Ukrainians; if anything, many Jews were hideously livid with glee over the news that millions of Christian Slavs were dying under Stalin and his Jewish henchmen. The Spanish Civil War happened because patriotic Spaniards didn’t want their nation to fall to Stalinists who were sure to carry out the kinds of massacres and atrocities happening in the USSR, but most American Jews rooted for the arch-Stalinists in Spain and celebrated every time they heard of mass rapes of nuns and mass killings of priests and conservatives. Jews want us to care about them, but they don’t care one bit about us. The Jewish mind-set, formed over thousands of years, sees humanity in terms of what-the-filthy-goyim-must-do-to-make-us-Jews-live-and-feel-better. The danger of objectivism was that the cold gaze, which was meant to be used to serve the warm heart/mind, could take over and freeze the heart/mind. There’s a character like this in Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS. He’s radically committed to science and coldly dissects the miraculous beings conjured up by the mind-ocean planet of Solaris. And such mind-set was also behind medical experiments such as vivisection where animals — and in some cases, humans — were dissected while alive. Whatever could be scientifically gained from such experiments, it was a case of the cold gaze taking over than serving the mind/heart, and to their credit, the Nazis were the first to put an end to this gruesome practice; but then, Nazis carried out some of the most horrific experiments on living humans, which goes to show that people with moral vision in one eye can be completely blind in the other eye. But then, the horror of the hogocaust goes on in our world. Our nation is so retarded that so many people have swallowed the notion that the paragon of higher morality is forcing onself to believe that fecal penetration between homos is of equal value as real sex and natural love between man and woman. Meanwhile, these homomaniacs — straight fools/tools of the Jewish/gay media cabal — munch on bacon and other meat products of hogs that, as creatures equal in intelligence and emotional richness as dogs, ought to be spared from mass-cruelty and mass-killing. We need hogo-saviors to have a truly moral nation, but instead, we have disgusting bacon-chewing homomaniacs who suck up to Jews and bend over to homos. At any rate, because of the character of Kubrick’s ‘cold’ gaze, some critics surmised that his mind/heart must have been as icy as his camera lens, but a closer examination of his films would seem to disprove this. True, Kubrick ‘watched’ the nuclear destruction in DR. STRANGELOVE and the assault/rape in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE rather dispassionately than judgmentally — though some might argue that the problem wasn’t so much the lack of emotion as the excess of sardonics in STRANGELOVE and of hedonics in CLOCKWORK, i.e. emotions of amorality — , but Kubrick’s approach was partly to, Brechtian-like, offer a larger view as well as a closer view of reality — also an oblique view as well as direct view. Kurosawa went for a similar multi-layering effect in the castle siege scene in RAN, where the horror is initially seen from afar without sound — as if by eyes and ears of distant gods — , only to be followed suddenly by close-up action exploding with barrages of gunfire. More subtly, Scorsese in GOODFELLAS and Tarantino in RESERVOIR DOGS — his one true masterwork — angled moments within scenes like a roomful of mirrors to reflect the sardonic off the straight and vice versa.) Sometimes, especially in THE SHINING, Kubrick seemed to be entering into the minds of his characters as if to favor subjectivity — especially Jack’s and Danny’s — , but Kubrick wasn’t so much seeing/feeling through them as playing with them. Some directors fix their gaze on the characters from the outside(as in the later films of Roberto Rossellini); some directors prefer to enter into the souls of their characters and feel them from the inside(as in the early films of De Sica). In contrast, Kubrick was a border crosser, restlessly slipping and smuggling in and out of both words; thus, even when his images seem most clear and crisp in their physical aspects, there’s a psychological sense of unease, as with the scenes with the Hal computer in 2001 and privates in FULL METAL JACKET; Hal has no face, a unblinking red eye, and a monotone voice, but we are hypnotically swirled into his ‘psychology’ just the same. The soldiers in FULL METAL JACKET are trained to be expressionless robots, but we sense their inner turmoil. And when Kubrick got inside his characters, he wasn’t so much emoting with them and sharing their pain as slyly analyzing them like a psychiatrist would a patient. There’s nothing like the emotionally raw scenes in Kazan or Kurosawa in most Kubrick films.
Oliver Stone is a very different kind of director. He enters his characters, feels their pain, shares their hardships, cries and rants with them, and shares the pot smoke. Thus, Stone and Kovic become one in BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. And in NIXON, Stone doesn’t just enter Tricky or Trippy Dick’s mind but becomes Nixon. HEAVEN AND EARTH makes us share the full weight of shame and pain of its female protagonist. Compare her with the Vietnamese hooker in FULL METAL JACKET. On one level, Kubrick’s character is a caricature of a wartime Oriental hooker. She also serves to highlight the sexual principle in relation to the warrior/killer principle. Thus, her significance isn’t personal or biographical or emotional but archetypal and conceptual. The endings of PATHS OF GLORY and LOLITA show that Kubrick was capable of tender feelings and emotional sympathy, but in most of his films, there’s a sense that excessive sympathy with personal emotions got in the way of understanding the dynamics of power that really determine the fate of man and history. In the end, life is a struggle, a game, and what decides winners and losers is the art of the deal than the heart of the feel. This isn’t to say that emotions don’t matter. After all, people are manipulated to choose sides via emotional pleading. And soldiers are emotionally turbo-charged to go kill and kill and kill. But the true holders of power master their own emotions and manipulate the emotions of others. It is the suckers who, childlike, rely more on emotions than on intellect and gamesmanship. PATHS OF GLORY is an emotional film with many emotional moments, but the arch-puppet-string-puller is the master of emotions and has the advantage over others — inferiors, peers, and possibly even superiors who can also be duped, just as upstart Jews duped and subverted the once mighty wasp elites. Tom Cruise’s character gets awfully emotional in EYES WIDE SHUT, whereas the Sydney Pollack character — who has the real power — is the master of emotions. Emotions, no matter how true or meaningful, are childlike and rooted in infantilism. We are born crying and cry for milk as babies. And as kids, we can easily be manipulated to cry. What child didn’t get all sobby watching SNOOPY COME HOME? We learn to cry less and control our emotions as we grow out of childhood. The more we learn to control our emotions, the more power we gain over ourselves and the world around us. After all, power isn’t gained by screaming and throwing chairs(unless you’re a Negro in Detroit) — or by begging for sympathy like a piteous little baby. It is gained by playing the game of money, politics, and privilege. Of course, the powers-that-be that master their own emotions encourage our emotions and manipulate them to their own ends. If we are indeed encouraged to think, we might challenge the PC orthodoxy of the powers-that-be. Thus, the elites prefer that we feel or confuse feeling with thinking; it’s no wonder that so many dimwit white liberals conflate MLK worship with progressive thought, or consider themselves sophisticated because they ‘feel’ laughter through comedy shows of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But then, such baby-like emotionalism is no less prevalent on the Right, what with the likes of Sarah Palin thinking they’re so morally wonderful because they FEEL so much for Jews and root for Zionists to keep beating up and killing those evil ‘muzzie’ Palestinians.
Our feelings having been infantilized, most Americans think they’re so good and wonderful because they are so brimming with unconditional love for ‘helpless’ and ‘orphan-like’ Jews. But why do we feel such feelings for Jews? Because it’s natural? No, because Jewish controllers of the media and academia have used learning tools and entertainment to make us all scary-wary and weepy-sheepy over stuff like HOLOCAUST TV series and SCHINDLER’S LIST. And if you’re an intellectual who’s too good for such philistine tripe, there is SHOAH that one is obligated to praise on both intellectual and spiritual grounds. Again, the key is ‘control’. The rich and powerful are, of course, emotional. Indeed, in their great lust for power, they may be more emotional than others. But not all emotions are the same. Paradoxically, powerful emotional lust/drive for great power necessitates a greater mastery of one’s own emotions. For a time, this is what made Napoleon and Hitler great. They were men of powerful emotions but learned to control them to gain control over the masses — that is until their emotions finally got the better of them. (In the case of Hitler, his personal laundry list of tirades about all the setbacks in his life came to resonate with many Germans who also had their own personal experiences of grievances, failures, and disappointments. As German culture was stoic, proud, and reserved, most Germans had thought it bad form to abandon self-control and scream like a lunatic about the problems of one’s life, about the shame of having fallen into desperation and destitution. Thus, Hitler’s proto-rock-n-roll tirade had a liberating effect among many Germans who also had been wanting to get something off their chests. It was like the scene in NETWORK where the news guy screams, "I’m not gonna take it anymore." But if Hitler had only been a loudmouth, his appeal would have been limited and short-lived. The genius of Hitler was that while he understood that Germans wanted a ‘Teutonic Nigger’ to holler like a motherfuc*er and "say it like it is", he also understood that Germans, a clean and orderly people, wanted a promise of a better society with more unity, security, and prosperity. So, Hitler combined ‘niggerism’ with law-and-order-ism He would act the ‘crazy nigger’ to scream about and smoke out the parasitical Jews, but once the smoke cleared, the Germans would live in a clean and well-ordered society with greater power, peace, and prosperity.) Powerful Jews are very emotional, but they are also very smart and knowledgeable. Deep in their hearts/minds, they know they’ve have been no less ‘guilty’ than any other group. They know all about the ‘historical crimes’ of Jews throughout the ages. But as Jews, they are emotionally invested in Jewish power, and, in order to secure their power, they must make goyim feel sorry for the Jews; they must make goyim feel ‘guilty’ and ‘self-loathing’ for harboring any critical thought or feeling about Jews. (Much of the Jewish nature can be found in the Original or Old Testament even if most Jews today are secular and irreligious. Jews and the Torah make an interesting case of chicken-or-the-egg-conundrum. Did the natural personality of Jews shape the Jewish religion or vice versa? Culture surely plays a role in evolution as different cultures value different sets of skills, talents, and attributes. Jewish religion has had great respect for prophets and rabbis AND placed great value on merchants and middlemen, and so, understandably, people with certain traits were favored by Jewish society over thousands of years. Gypsies seem to favor thieves, cheats, and crooks, and maybe people with such tendencies came to be prized most highly in gypsy society, accounting for so many cretinous types. To be sure, primacy of one kind of trait can have a way of favoring another, even the opposite, kind of trait, e.g. paradoxically, a culture that favors extreme militarism might end up genetically favoring the nonaggressive. If aggressive primitive tribal cultures favored the individual warrior, some advanced ones tended to favor a more unified and coordinated methodology of fighting, and this called for strict hierarchy that demanded absolute obedience. Thus, people with submissive traits came to be favored over those with maverick traits. Perhaps, this is why the Nordics eventually became a rather colorless and bland people. And maybe this explains why the Japanese, though forged by centuries of samurai-ism, became a bunch of nerds who later became addicted to ‘kawaii’ or ‘cute’ culture. Perhaps with Jews, it was chicken AND the egg, and the result was a formula of power that was, at once, utterly ruthless, utterly arrogant, utterly moral, utterly humble, utterly sincere, and utterly cunning/devious. Jews became total lawyers and total gangsters. Look around today, and Jews are the people in America who are most invested in the gambling, finance, entertainment, and porn industries, much of which are immoral. But Jews are also most entrenched in intellectual/ethical/truth-seeking institutions such as legal enterprises, academia, think-tanks, media, and etc. Jews were behind both the neo-saintly iconography of MLK and the slut-porn-idolatry of Marilyn Monroe who served as the template of shikse sluts manipulated by Jewish masters. In the areas of homo politics, Jews have forged immorality and morality into one, i.e. they fooled a lot of Americans that ‘gay marriage’ premised on fecal penetration between men is as moral or even more moral than real marriage and real sexuality. We don’t have real family or real sexuality parades, but Jewish-dominated cities have ‘gay pride parades’. And Jews created Obama, puppet boy as ‘great leader’, dirtbag hustler as neo-messiah. When Jews believed in God, they acknowledged at least one force in the universe that was never to be messed with. But once Jews dropped faith in God, they took on all the traits of the Jewish God and perverted them for supremacist power and self-aggrandizement. The modern Jewish mind-set can be seen in the Kleinfeld character — played by Sean Penn — in Brian De Palma’s CARLITO’S WAY. Not content to be a rich lawyer, he has to play a coked-up god over both the law and the outlaws. His devious ego grows so cancerous that he plays legality and illegality both ways. He plays at being a legal gangster, and as such, could be seen as a template for Jewish elite power that gained total control of the this nation beginning in the early 90s.
There’s something Kleinfeld says to Carlito — played by Al Pacino — that is very reminiscent of how God finally answered Job. Kleinfeld says, "Fuck you and your self-righteous code of the goddamn streets. Did it pull you out of a 30 year stint in only 5 years? No, it didn't, I did. Did it get you acquitted 4 fucking times? No, it didn't, I did, so fuck you, fuck the streets, your whole goddamn world is this big, and there's only one rule, you save your own ass." It’s like God’s answers-in-the-form-of-question to Job: "Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting?" God asks Job who-did-this and who-did-that, who really created and managed the world? Though Kleinfeld is a dirtbag lawyer, he carries the mind-set of the old Jewish religion. But if God could do as He pleased because He was said to be perfect and had a grander/deeper view of things, Kleinfeld is a cynical shitter who’s only in it for his ego and greed. But his arrogance is downright godlike. God did bad things to Job, the good man, and Job understandably found this to be unjust and sought the answer as to why. Carlito too wants to know why Kleinfeld stabbed him in the back, but Kleinfeld’s answer is he can pretty much do as he likes since he’s just better than anyone else. If Lord can giveth and taketh away, so can Kleinfeld play the same game with goy shmucks like Carlito. He can have Carlito freed but then, change his mind and work with the D.A. to lock Carlito up again. Carlito, though a former gangster, believes in honor among thieves. Kleinfeld thinks the notion of honor or code is stupid. It limits the cards one can play with in the game of power. In a way, CARLITO’S WAY is like a demonic variation of the Book of Job story. In the Bible story, the good God deals with Satan to ‘punish’ good Job. Job suffers greatly, but in the end, the good God and good Job are reunited in good will upon Job’s acknowledgment of his unworthiness to know God’s secrets — as Adam and Eve were unworthy of eating from the Tree of Knowledge — and submits to God, upon which God blesses him with all sorts of good stuff. The setup in CARLITO’S WAY is reversed. Carlito and Kleinfeld are two bad characters. Carlito was doing time in jail for homicide/narcotics, and Kleinfeld’s clients are mostly big time crooks. If good Job is punished for seemingly no good reason, bad Carlito is blessed with early release from jail because Kleinfeld, with godlike knowledge of the law, exploited technicalities to render moot the decision of the court. Though Kleinfeld sits before the judge in the opening scene of the movie, he is clearly the one playing the role of god-judge for his mastery of the law is superior to that of the judge and prosecutors. He even has the temerity to lecture the judge that Carlito’s conviction was "a classic ‘fruit of the poisoned tree’ situation." Kleinfeld the smart Jew uses his superior intellect, knowledge, and verbal skills to use the law for nefarious and self-serving reasons, and as such, is representative of Jewish power in America. Jews have turned US from a nation of laws to a nation of lawyers. This isn’t to say Wasp-controlled America was a moral paradise in the past. Many wasps made their fortunes and gained political power through corruption and dirty deeds. Even so, the educational and moral institutions were controlled by genuine wasp idealists and reformists who educated the children of elite wasps to live up to higher standards. As wasps felt secure in their power, they thought they could afford to be increasingly magnanimous, principled, and honorable. So, even if wasp money was earned the dirty way, the children of the wasp rich were often educated by people who demanded higher values. Jews are different because they feel paranoid as comprising only 2% of the population, have a long historical consciousness of persecution under goyim, and have a traditional habit of looking upon goyim as dimwit filth. Thus, even though many Jews have gained great wealth the dirty way(just like wasps in the past), the Jewish educators in elite universities don’t tell the children of elite Jews that they must be critical of their Jewish community and strive to be better than their ‘greedy’ and ‘unscrupulous’ parents. Instead, Jewish educators tell Jewish kids to stick up for Zionism and Jewish interests, to feel morally narcissistic for the simple fact of being Jewish. Jewish elites don’t do this blatantly — as we would find out about the true way of the Jew — but deviously by fixating Jewish minds on the evil of ‘white privilege’. The idea of ‘white privilege’ has young Jews believing that America is still dominated by wasps who won’t allow Jews into special clubs — as in SOCIAL NETWORK — , and therefore, Jewish power must be about uniting with oppressed underdogs of all color to combat ‘white racism’. Jews don’t say they are for Jewish power; instead, they say they’re against ‘white privilege’, and this justifies Jewish power as the avant-garde force against this great malevolent evil of ‘white racism’, i.e. for Jews to fight evil KKK sightings at Oberlin college, they must have more power, money, and influence as Jewish warriors against ‘white privilege’. Similarly, Jews don’t define Zionism in terms of aggressive Jewish power but defensive Jewish survival against all those evil ‘antisemitic’ Muslims, Arabs, and Persians. The notion of preventing ‘another Holocaust’ from Arab Nazis is invoked to justify Jewish supremacism over Palestinians and Zionist espionage and lobbying in America in the cause of Greater Israel. Anyway, if Job thinks he’s been cursed for no good reason, Carlito thinks he’s been blessed for no good reason. Carlito admits he grew up bad and was bad. He even admits a legal technicality got him released. But because his release was such a ‘miracle’, he’s gonna be good from now on, and he tries his best to do right. For awhile, it seems like everything is going right for him. If everything seemed to go wrong for Job under a good God, but then, God saved him and restored his happy life and everything turned out okay in the end; everything seems to be going right for Carlito under a bad Kleinfeld-playing-god, but then, all his dreams turn to dust, and he can’t make it to the promised land. Job, though trapped in a kind of hell, finds freedom at the end. Carlito, freed from the purgatory of justice, thinks he’s ‘free at last, free at last’, but in the end, dies as the prisoner of fate. Faith saves Job, fate destroys Carlito, who can no more escape it than the character in LA JETEE. There’s something to be learned from the Kleinfeld character because so many Jews are like him, and De Palma, though a lifelong liberal, probably met tons of such Jews in Hollywood. Though De Palma is Italian-American, he’s had negative Italian-American characters — as in the films of Coppola and Scorsese — , but Jews almost never make movies about negative Jews, and it must have been somewhat risque for De Palma to present such a negative Jewish character in CARLITO’S WAY. Like Kleinfeld, a lot of smart Jews have this god complex and think they are above the law. God meant His Laws to be followed by man. He Himself was above the law, and in a way, He found a roundabout way to release Himself from moral blackmail that He’d created for Himself with the Noah and Abraham stories. After He destroyed the world with the Flood, He Himself was so horrified that He pledged never to do such thing again. And though God told Abraham to kill the kid, He thought maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea as it would make Him a powerful and fearsome God but not necessarily a good God; in other words, though the story of Abraham and Isaac seems to be about God testing Abe, it’s really more about Abe the Jew testing God by putting Him in a bind, i.e. if God tells Abe to the kill the kid, He can still be a great God but no longer a good God; God was morally checkmated by Abe even though Abe put on the loyal servant act. So, even though God was supposed to be above the laws that were meant for Jews, He Himself came under its moral injunctions. So, in a way, the Book of Job can be read partly as a way of God — as the representative of the Jewish Mind — to find a way to be above the law. God does everything that seems immoral or amoral to Job; it’s so horrible that, even as He remains a great powerful God, we feel that maybe He’s not such a good decent God. But then, what God says to Job about the mystery upon mystery upon mystery upon mystery gives us a sense that even when God seems to be doing bad, He is really doing good because He has the larger view of things that remain hidden to us. It’s like parents sometimes punish kids, and kids think it makes no sense, but in the long run, the punishment turns out to be have been just. Similarly, there’s a sense in the Book of Job that after the terrible scorching of the earth, new seeds shall sprout up from the ground fertilized by the ashes. And this is true of Job. Though he can’t have his old family back, he gains a new family and wisdom for the ages that he hadn’t before. And the Holocaust turned out to be both the biggest disaster and biggest blessing for the Jews. It led to the horrific deaths of millions of Jews, but Jewish power that rose from its ashes came to own the world, and Jews became the god-race to be worshiped by Americans and Europeans. Kleinfeld is a sleazebag, but he has the god-mind-set of the Jewish religion. As lawyer, he doesn’t follow the laws but explores ways to be above the law. While he admonishes the D.A. for having violated the law to have Carlito convicted, he himself is willing to violate or subvert any law to get things go his way. He’s so much like most Jews in media, academia, government, and etc. But, part of Kleinfeld’s hyper-egotism is as much the product of his insecurities and inadequacies as his confidence and arrogance. He knows he’s smarter than all the gangster boss clients and all the prosecutors and judges. But, he’s also filled with resentment that others are stronger than him, bigger than him, better-connected than him, sexier than him, more loved than him, etc. He draws his strength from his sense of weakness. It’s like the Jew character in BROADCAST NEWS. As a kid, we see him being roughed up by bigger tougher goyim. So, he compensates with feistiness of intellect and backroom media politics. He also resents that the girl of his fat schlongish dream prefers the handsome wasp played by William Hurt. Though our political discourse often ridicules and castigates individuals and groups for their feelings of ‘inadequacy’, nothing is more natural and smarter than assessing one’s inadequacies and obsessing over them. In nature, animals that are aware of their inadequacies are more likely to survive that those that aren’t. They are more likely to devise strategies to overcome their inadequacies through clever or creative means. So, a smaller bear will be conscious of his inadequacy in relation to bigger bears and run for safety. A smaller pack of wolves will realize that its power is inadequate to a much larger pack, and so, it will run to safety than fight the bigger pack and get wiped out. If Germany and Japan had better assessed their inadequacies in waging a long-term war against giant nations, they wouldn’t have lost the war. If white males admit their inadequacy vis-a-vis Jews in the area of intellect and vis-a-vis the Negro in the area of physicality, whites would be better poised to formulate a strategy of survival and strength. There are many kinds of power. A single wolf is inadequate in its power against a cougar or bear, and so, wolves acknowledge this inadequacy and ‘creatively’ rely on the advantage of cooperation and group power. Individually, a white guy is intellectually inadequate next to a Jew and physically inadequate next to a Negro, but if white guys unite into a group, they can politically take on the hideous Jew and the crazy Negro. This is why it’s so necessary for Jews to divide whites across sexual, geographical, cultural, ideological, and etc. lines. The whole issue of ‘gay marriage’ is a boon to Jews because it serves to divide whites into homomaniacs — straight people who think stuffed buns are the greatest thing since sliced bread — and ‘homophobes’. That said, there is something about the Jew that is immensely likable even when they’re hateful, and this is true of Kleinfeld. He looks and acts like a dirty shyster Jew, but he has a certain charm and sparkle. And on some level, he’s not without dreams and a heart. He got Carlito out of jail for self-interest, but there is also a side to Kleinfeld that feels genuine affection for Carlito as a friend. And a part of us roots for Kleinfeld because he has the balls to take on the brutish Italian mafia. The kid has chutzpah, and maybe if all that cocaine hadn’t clouded his vision, he might have played it with a clear head and come out on top. But whatever genuine feelings Kleinfeld may have for Carlito, he’s always out for number one when push comes to shove. In this, he has no sense of honor, which is seen as an impediment of naive Boy Scout simplicity. Honor, in the best sense, is an inner sense of individual dignity and pride that makes one feel certain obligations and hesitations. Though misuse of honor can drive people to do dumb things, it can also prevent people from doing just about anything to gain an advantage; it’s like Vito Corleone’s sense of sexual and cultural honor held him back from dealing in whores and narcotics.) Thus, Jews grow ever ‘colder’ in their machination of power, all the while infantilizing the goy population. This isn’t to say all heartfelt emotions are infantile. There’s nothing wrong with being moved by films like BICYCLE THIEVES, NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, or RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY. DeSica, Fellini, and Peckinpah weren’t trying to gain power over us; they were trying to move us with the tragedies of others. But there are those who play on our emotions to gain control over us. Consider GREEN MILE, a movie that would have us believe that some mountain-sized Negro loves a wittle white mouse. That has nothing to do with real Negroes or social reality; it’s just a weepy-fest to sucker white viewers with ‘white guilt’ and rake in their money with false offering of ‘redemption’. You see, if you weep and feel sorry for the mountain-sized Negro who wuvs a wittle white mouse and even done sacrifice his life for the white man’s soul, then you must be a very very good ‘progwessive wiberal’ or a conservative who has ‘evolved’.
In BADLANDS, there was an unsettling tension between the mind and emotions, not least because of the odd or pathological nature of the characters. Malick couldn’t simply embrace or identify with a psychotic serial killer and a semi-sociopathic waif who, though not murderous herself, was disturbingly indifferent to the bloody trail left by her lover. Also, the landscape was harsh and barren, making for an interesting contrast with the fairytale romanticism of the girl. Malick was a first-time director and unknown quality, and a certain caution may have restrained him from going whole hog with ‘style’ and ‘vision’. Thus, there was more of an interplay of intellect, emotion, and vision. DAYS OF HEAVEN got a little ripe as Malick’s tragic dream-symphony of Lost-and-Found America, but the characters were stubbornly grounded in their individualities and thus something more than figments of Malick’s ‘spiritual’ imagination. Malick curiously interacted with them as dramatic possibilities than took possession of them as soul-puppets. So, even as DAYS OF HEAVEN in part wallowed in bathos of nostalgia, pictorialism, earnestness, and/or romanticism, there was an element of mystery and fascination. As in BADLANDS, Malick tracked the links between the simple/personal with the complex/social. BADLANDS, in trailing the unlikely duo, tells us something about an America that reflects and deflects their crimes. They were created by America, they are rejected by America. In their own way, the couple pursue their perverted variation of the American Dream; they also run from the American Reality that has no room for such nightmares, but there is something so American about the killer and the girl. When captured, one of the officers remarks that the guy looks like James Dean, both an icon of American freedom and American alienation, the ultimate star and ultimate outsider, an immortal legend and an actor who died too young. BADLANDS also contrasts civilization and nature, freedom and confinement, the innocence of myth and myth of innocence(in the end, both the guy and the girl are corrupt and innocent in their own ways), expressing the tension with picture-perfect physical details and tone-perfect psychological moods.
Malick bit into those themes and carefully chewed them without slobbering all over. The linkage of the personal/intimate with the political/cosmic is, of course, nothing new. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO is an intimate romance with the Russian Revolution as backdrop. And THE ODYSSEY is about a man’s journey back home within the framework of larger forces and events. But BADLANDS is different from DOCTOR ZHIVAGO — as well as from BONNIE AND CLYDE and THE WILD BUNCH — in that ‘land’ is as crucial as the characters. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA are centered around vibrant romantic characters. Such center is missing in BADLANDS. It’s not about people IN the world but people AND the world. Thus, the killer is as much a symptom of society as a rebel against it, and the land is as much a reflection/representation of the killer as a backdrop he inhabits. The girl’s poetic musings are both whimsically personal and absurdly cosmic, leaving us to wonder if her mind is her own instrument humming with personal tunes or a (defective)device beyond her control transmitting signals from a larger reality, social and cosmic. No matter the troubles and tragedies in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO — or in AFRICAN QUEEN — , there’s a sense of security in the emotional reality of the characters, i.e. the world may be going crazy and even driving the characters crazy at times, but we never doubt their souls. But we are less sure with BADLANDS(and even in DAYS OF HEAVEN) because of a certain soullessness in the characters. They have the five senses, consciousness, and even feelings(at least for one another), but they lack what most of us would recognize as the moral sense that makes up the soul. Even immorality is soulful as it pits evil against the good. The characters in BADLANDS are amoral — the girl passively so and the guy aggressively so. The girl is not only innocent of the larger world but even of simple moral injunctions as ‘thou shall not kill’; she seems unfazed by her lover’s murder of her father. And the guy kills without anything like real malice or hate. It seems to come naturally to his soulless soul, like a habit he just can’t get rid of. It’s as if American society has no place for certain kinds of people who were always fated to be outcasts. Since outcasts have no stake in the social order and no roots to plant, they lead nomadic lives like gypsies or animals, and it’s too much for us to expect such people to have anything like a moral soul. Yet, like the homeless wanderer in Agnes Varda’s VAGABOND, they possess freedom outside and independent of conventional moral qualms. And because most people are rooted in their conventional lives, they may find an element of romantic appeal in the outcast wanderer who seems free to live(and even kill and die) as he chooses. Thus, the Richard Gere character in DAYS OF HEAVEN is both loathsome and romantic(as a free spirit). And his lover and young sister are both detestable as conniving/conscienceless parasites and exciting as rootless wanderers who can go anywhere and live anywhere, like Billy the Kid or wild horses. But the real tragedy of America(and maybe civilization as a whole), at least in Malick’s mind, is the dichotomy of man and nature. When man removed himself from nature, he created the notion of laws and properties where few had a lot, many had some, and some had nothing. Thus, respectability and morality became associated with values of property and privilege. This kind of morality favors the haves over the have-nots for the haves can afford to be respectable and authoritative whereas the have-nots cannot. But among primitive folks like the tropical island folks in THIN RED LINE and American Indians in THE NEW WORLD, man and nature are one, and property is not divided into properties; instead, all of nature belongs to all of natural man; Indian tribes may fight other Indian tribes over territory, but the conflict is more organic — as among animals — as there is no specific, artificial, or legal definition or assessment of property. Since there is no clear distinction between man and nature, there is no clear morality, and primitive folks might be said to be amoral, but it’s a soulful kind of amorality because it’s rooted in the ways of organic nature. It’s like animals are amoral but with the fullness of their spirit and energy. In contrast, the amorality is BADLANDS is soulless and dead because there is no more nature. Even nature is no longer nature as all of America is criss-crossed with roads, signs, laws, regulations, borders, boundaries, etc. Since there is no nature, Martin Sheen character is forever a trespasser and refugee from the law than a soulful hunter-nomad of nature. An Indian may fight and kill another Indian but with the organic soul of a bear or wolf as his nature is part of natural nature. Thus, to kill as a natural man isn’t to be a murderer but to be part of the natural process of life and death. But Sheen’s character is a murderer since he cannot escape society. No matter where he runs, there is more America of property and laws. And no matter how much he rejects society and vice versa, he is too much a product of American culture of celebrity, atomized individuality, and fetishistic obsession with guns and violence(of the cowboy myth). Jim Jarmusch’s DEAD MAN also developed this theme of soulful Indian and soulless white man, i.e. the Indian lives in a world where death and life are part of a single unity of cycle of birth and rebirth whereas the white man sees the world in material terms of living things vs dead things, the result of which is to render even living things into dead things since everything has been objectified or materialized. Personally, I find ideas such as this rather ridiculous — like the yammering of the pompous jerk in MY DINNER WITH ANDRE — , but then, I tend to be on the pragmatic side on such issues, i.e. if Malick and Jarmusch really feel as they do, they should take a dump in the bush and wipe their butts with leaves and just pray it’s not poison ivy. Besides, GRIZZLY MAN and INTO THE WILD should be evidence enough that all this nature-worship crap is really a luxury of modern man who doesn’t have to worry about being eaten alive by mosquitos, tse-tse flies, and tigers.
If there is a ‘center’ in BADLANDS, it occupies the ever-shifting spaces between the characters and the world around them. It’s like an intellectual form of gypsy-ism. Like the characters in ZABRISKIE POINT, they seem to be strangers no matter where they are — in contrast, the characters of Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET seem to be home wherever they go. In some movies(sometimes called ‘humanist’, but not to be mistaken with philosophical/moral humanism of postwar era), the world revolves around strongly realized characters and in others(sometimes called ‘formalist’), characters move in strongly realized environments. BADLANDS is neither as the characters remain clueless to us and to themselves AND the landscape comes without a map, design, or direction.
Because of this sense of displaced-ness and de-centeredness in Malick’s first two films, even the pictorialism of DAYS OF HEAVEN served as a kind of counterpoint. It seemed to present rural America as a promised land of blue skies, fecund soil, honest toil, and open spaces, but things are not what they seem. The good-hearted landowner is the of the ‘oppressor’ class. The free spirit as represented by Richard Gere is a liar and cheat. The pretty woman both passionately and amorally lives the lies between the two men. And the young girl is both innocent and knowing. She sees and feels so much but, in the end, runs off with her murderer-brother without any pang of pity or remorse.
The real problem with Malick began with THIN RED LINE and grew into an out-of-control Blob with TREE OF LIFE. If Malick was an ironic observer/participant in BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN, he hokey-ly becomes one with the universe in the later films. There is an unsettling yet engrossing scene in DAYS OF HEAVEN when Richard Gere’s character slips into the mansion of the rich guy(Sam Shepherd), a scene replicated in TREE OF LIFE where the oldest son trespasses into someone’s house; I suppose it’s okay to invade or trespass into the homes/mansions of rich white folks since white folks had invaded and stolen the edenic garden of the Indians; come to think of it, there’s a scene where the sociopath couple break into a rich man’s house in BADLANDS too. It is this sense of trespassing that made Malick’s first two films so interesting. There was a sense of mystery and fascination, a nervous sneaking into the realities of other peoples and places to gain a glimpse of the ‘forbidden’. A similar obsession characterizes much of Kubrick’s cinema. As a Jewish kid growing up in New York and working as a photographer for LOOK magazine, Kubrick must have been fascinated by all the powerful and privileged places in NY that were the domain of the rich and powerful — it must have been all the more fascinating and beguiling for Kubrick since Jews were still sort of excluded from certain places in high society in NY in the 40s and 50s. With camera in hand, Kubrick wanted to pry into the forbidden places. He wanted to break in and enter, and this may have fascinated him with stories like THE KILLING — an elaborate plan to penetrate into the inner sanctum — and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, where Alex and his ‘droogs’ break into a wealthy writer’s home. Even David Bowman’s ordeal of re-entry into the spaceship becomes a dramatic challenge. As a young director, Malick didn’t know the mysteries of the world and didn’t pretend to know. But by the time he made THIN RED LINE, it was if he’d mastered some zen-like out-of-body ability to travel through the souls of men, through historical time, and the cosmos itself. For a war film, there’s almost no tension in THIN RED LINE. There’s no sense of trespassing(except in the most generic sense of two technological civilizations trespassing on tropical eden). Instead, it’s as if Malick has the power to slip in and out of psychic spaces of man, nature, and the cosmos. The film felt like Malick’s personal psychological-time-machine. The characters played by Martin Sheen and Richard Gere in the first two films intrigue us because they are attractive as free spirits, repulsive as egomaniacs or psychopaths, and enigmatic as troubled souls(or souls without souls). But the main characters of THIN RED LINE, THE NEW WORLD, and TREE OF LIFE are simply to be embraced as noble, spiritual, and wonderful, because, by golly, they are alter egos of Malick himself. It’s like a goody-two-shoes version of Batty’s self-regard in BLADE RUNNER. Batty has seen so much but all the wonders stored in his mind will be ‘lost like tears in the rain’. But Batty’s final moment packs emotional power because he’s a bundle of contradictions: poet, thug, robot, man, god, slave. In contrast, the main protagonist of Malick’s last three films are blathering non-entities of cosmic consciousness. It’s like they don’t even have to develop into characters since they possess the ‘essence’ of things. They are so pregnant with meaning that all they need to do is navel-gaze at the Truth with acid twinkle in their eyes and whisper airheaded cliches about ‘what it all means’. Worse, this consciousness floats around like dandelion seeds and colonizes other characters as well. Thus, the mother and father in TREE OF LIFE aren’t so much individuals or characters in their own right as variations of the truth of cosmic soul(as attained by Malick). Thus, in TREE OF LIFE, the idea seems to be that, in the big picture of things, there is really no ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘son’, ‘brother’, ‘whitey’, ‘Negro’, and etc, etc. Instead, there is ‘nature’ and ‘grace’ and these forces in the universe manifest themselves through so many incarnations of fire, water, volcanos, blue skies, dinosaurs, nations, humans, etc. It’s the sort of hokum we’ve heard a million times from New Age-ism. Nevertheless, even hokum can be nice if done well. TWILIGHT movie series is hardly great art and recycles old cliches about youth and romance, but it was done effectively on its own terms. TREE OF LIFE, in contrast, tries to pass its formulation of ‘kumbaya’ as the greatest thing since the Big Bang. Also, for a film that pretends to be so big-hearted and big-minded, it sure is self-centered and conceited. The ending may remind people of the final moments of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and SIBERIADE. But, the ‘reunion’ endings of Capra and Konchalovsky’s films derive their power from the catharsis culminating from the nightmare history and/or biography the characters were wrung through. They’d been to hell and back. But what accounts for all the heavenly testament and rapture at the end of TREE OF LIFE? That every person has his or her personal tragedies, sad memories, and stories of loss AND seeks spiritual reunion with what or who’s been lost is a universal fact. But why inflate it to such hammy cosmic proportions? What in Malick’s own biography justifies the Star-Child-ization of his own ego and psyche as the consciousness of the cosmos? (And notice that in THIN RED LINE and THE NEW WORLD, Malick merely used characters and history as props for his own boundless ego. War wages all around, but the Jim Caviezel’s character — as a conduit for Malick’s grand beautiful soul — mopes around dazedly like he’s above it all as a kind of Jesus-in-war figure whose mind is too occupied with higher things to care about who wins or who loses. He’s like Star Child lost in a world of nationalistic apes fighting for industrial America and imperial Japan. He sees Eden all around in the jungle and its primitive folks, but modern men only see turf to fight for as on a football field. He sees and swims in the ocean as the womb of life, but US and Japan see the Pacific as a waterhole to fight over. A right-wing variation of this higher consciousness in harmony with the true way of nature can be found in John Milius’s original characterization of Colonel Kurtz character in APOCALYPSE NOW, and perhaps certain elements of right-wing romanticism got to Malick as well through his studies on Martin Heidegger. One might say the Bowie character in MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE had a similar disposition as Caviezel’s character as a kind of Jesus-in-war figure, but what made Nagisa Oshima’s film compelling was the demonstration of the difficulty to be ‘spiritual’ in a world where honor is wedded to horror. Though THIN RED LINE ends with Caviezel’s character getting killed, it all seems so painless and so meaningful, as if ‘spiritual’ consciousness can overcome material horrors. In a way, there’s a similarity between Martin Sheen’s character in BADLANDS and Caviezel’s in THIN RED LINE. They both seem ‘out of it’, i.e. they seemed to be tuned to signals different from those of most men. The difference is Sheen’s character is tuned to extreme soullessness whereas Caviezel’s character is tuned to excessive soulfulness.) The ending of TREE OF LIFE is somewhat similar to the one in 8 ½, but consider Fellini’s blend of magic and mischief, his sense of closure and new beginning. Malick presents his reunion fantasy as something like a graduation ceremony unto eternity with a degree in cosmic wisdom, as if the universe came into being just for Malick to make TREE OF LIFE as the ultimate revelation of its truths. Shoreline at dusk(or dawn), as the meeting place between land and water beneath open skies, may have worked as a metaphor of the realm between life and death, between here and forever, between personal and the cosmic, but Malick botches it with bathetic gushy-mushiness that make FORREST GUMP look like a Bresson film by comparison. It induces headaches and bellyaches of irritation and laughter.
This is too bad because there are some good scenes in TREE OF LIFE. The scene where the parents are informed of their son’s death and walk the neighborhood streets — where the son used to run and play — effectively conveys the duality of familiarity as both comfort and pain. Walking the street, they feel his presence and absence. And the husband walks behind the wife as both a consoling and atoning figure. He knows that she knows that he hasn’t been the ideal father. He faithfully follows the woman who faithfully stayed by his side but who, in this moment of grief, wants to be alone from him and, in some way, blames him. He knows she needs someone to lean on but he, in that crucial moment, is not that person. Malick gets the best out of the material when he works with some restraint, but it’s not long before he turns back on the bathetic water at full blast to drown us in cosmic bubble bath.

TREE OF LIFE is surely appealing to younger audiences for some of its sci-fi ambience, especially in the long discursive part with stars and dinos and stuff. TREE OF LIFE has been compared by many with Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, not least because Douglas Trumbull collaborated on the special effects. Kubrick’s film connected the past with the future while bypassing the then ‘present’ of the late 60s. To be sure, the year 2001 was only 33 years away from when the film was made — whereas the ape scene takes place something like a million year ago — , but both worlds seemed very distant to the viewers in 1968(not least because all the futuristic scenes in the movie took place out in space). No one had seen anything like 2001 before, and the idea of a super-sentient computer — artificial intelligence — and manned trip to Jupiter(as well as human hibernation) seems futuristic even today. In a way, Kubrick and Clarke were perhaps indicating the exponential pace of change in the modern world. Thus, changes that might take place between 1968 to 2001 could be as revolutionary as all changes that took place between one million B.C. and 1968. And we must keep in mind that the number ‘2001' was chosen for its epic catchy-ness. In actuality, Kubrick could have just as much meant 2020 or 2060. The point is that in the time of the apes — and even up to the period of late modernity — , ‘progress’ happened very slowly(if there was any progress at all). In the apes scenes, one day is just like the next. It’s like a GROUNDHOG DAY existence of the same day over and over, with apes struggling to find food and shelter — and watching out for predators. Apes have no concept of progress, of one year being followed by the next year. Even in the late 19th century, most Americans lived in rural communities, and their lives weren’t all that different from people who’d lived hundreds of years ago. While rapid change was industrializing America and mechanizing farm labor, there were still many folks who subsisted on family farms and relied on manual labor to get things done. Changes from 1900 to 1968 were, in many ways, more astounding than changes between 1500 to 1900. Indeed, consider the changes in warfare. Only 20 yrs separated the end of WWI and the beginning of WWII, but the advances in killing technology had grown exponentially. WWI saw the first crude tanks and airplanes, but WWII had tens of thousands of monster tanks and squadrons of massive bombers and fighter planes. And WWII ended with jet engines and nuclear explosions. With the rise of jet fighters and long-distance missiles, changes became even more dramatic in the two decades after WWII. And now, we have advanced computer and drones and whole lot of other mind-blowing stuff that keep revolutionizing warfare. Power Geeks or Peeks, the Doctor Strangeloves of the world, now own the economy and the means to win wars. It’s no longer about ‘revenge of the nerds’ but ‘conquest of the nerds’ and ‘war of the nerds’. Future will be about American, Chinese, Russian, European, and Muslim nerds fighting it out. Of course, Jews own the world because they are both very nerdy and pushy. Many Jews are Peek Geeks. America power in the media, academia, finance, and high-tech is controlled by nerds. It’s nerds leading the herds. Since nerds used their brains to rise above the brawn of the herds, Jewish nerds feel an affinity with effete homosexuals. ‘Hymies’ and homos are both unmanly but very bitchy and pushy in their personality. And Jews are very detail-oriented with words, numbers, and laws, AND homos are very fussy with clothes, decoration, and design.
1968 was an uncertain period, one of massive protests, radical fashions, and utopian fantasies. The Cold War was at its height, what with America deeply mired in Vietnam and Soviet tanks rolling into Czechoslovakia. It was as if America was fighting a two-front war against Communism abroad and ‘fifth-columnists’ at home. America was trying to be strong around the world, but the fabric of American society, especially among its young, seemed to be tearing apart with the decadence of pop culture and drugs — ironically, capitalist pop culture would make inroads into communism and do more to undermine socialist culture in the long run. But many people saw pop culture and drugs as liberating forces hastening the evolution of man. For many hippies and freaks — and ‘beautiful people’ — Beatles’ SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND wasn’t just a pop album but a spiritual proclamation of the dawning age of Aquarius. Though Kubrick, like Bob Dylan, played a role in shaping the new Zeitgeist, both seemed ‘out of it’ in the late 60s. Dylan, the once leftist folkie and proto-psychedelic rock star, abandoned the radical/pop race and retreated to his home and family and sought deeper connections with the origins of American music. Kubrick had retreated to UK earlier, but his DR. STRANGELOVE was one of the great cinematic statements of the New Sensibility. Though far more perverse and contradictory than audiences took it for, it was hailed as a proto-counter-culture attack on American militarism and knee-jerk patriotism. While 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY also became an emblem of the era, it was remarkable for its detachment from the fashions of the late 60s. At a time when the counterculture was ‘celebrating’ nature as peaceful, harmonious, and beautiful and wanting to ‘touch Indians’, Kubrick began the film with a brutal depiction of nature as one of ruthless survival. (And with the next film A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, Kubrick presented the youth rebel — a much romanticized icon of the 60s — as dangerous lunatic.) There’s no peace in this nature. Leopards ambush apes, and apes battle apes over a water hole. And when an ape learns to use a bone as a weapon, he bashes the skulls of tapirs and then commits the first ‘armed murder’ in apestory. And the apes’ hollers and screams are pretty terrifying.
At a time when young people were attacking modern society and its technological trappings, Kubrick presented waltzing spaceships in grand manner. Hovering over Earth and circling one another, the ships appear musical than mechanical.
And the specimen of the Organization Man we encounter on the space station come across as able and admirable. And later, Bowman and Poole impress us as fine men, topnotch professionals.
In a way, ‘blankness’ of their expressions suggests how man is becoming like machines in a technocentric world, but we never doubt Bowman and Poole’s humanity and even heroism. They are men of responsibility, skill, and self-control. They don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk. When so many people in the 60s were talking a lot of fancy crap but couldn’t do worth a damn, it must have been refreshing to see two astronauts who don’t talk much but are absolute professionals at what they do. Maybe, Kubrick was channeling something of Antonioni and Bresson in his conception of the characters. In order for the characters to serve as archetypes, peculiarities of their personalities had to be muted. They had to be more like ‘Blondie’ than ‘Tuco’(in THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY). (The suppression of personalities may also have had something to do with Kubrick’s fascination with power. Personality can serve as mask or bluff to hide the power or the lack of power. Through the mask of personality, a person can seem more powerful or less powerful than he really is. Nicholson’s character has a lot of personality whereas the ghosts have little in THE SHINING, but Nicholson is controlled by the ghosts. Cruise’s character is rather colorless in EYES WIDE SHUT whereas Pollack’s character has lots of personality — a rather friendly and amiable one — , and it’s the latter who has the power. Jack Nicholson’s aggressive personality makes him feel far more power than he really has; Pollack’s friendly personality makes him appear far less dangerous than he really is. Personality is not where the truth is. Anyone can imitate Muhammad Ali and talk loud and dance around, but that won’t guarantee victory in the ring. Ali had a colorful personality and lots of bluff, but it was really his talent with fists that won him the championship. Anyone can imitate the personality of Albert Einstein, but that’s not going to make him brilliant. A person can imitate Steve Jobs’ personality, but that’s not going to make him rich. A lot of would-be rock artists in the 60s imitated Dylan’s personality, but they still couldn’t write good songs. Personality distracts us from the true worth of a person in terms of his power, and Kubrick was most interested in the power-person. He saw the way of the world as a struggle over class and status, war and politics, money and fame, lust and passion. To win, personality is a useful mask but only a mask. It’s like a fighter plane can be painted with all kinds of ‘personality’— colors, mottos, pictures, and symbols — but its true worth lies in its engine and guns and pilot. In the boot camp scene in FULL METAL JACKET, the drill sergeant tries to tear the mask of personality from each recruit and harden the inner core of the soldier in body, spirit, and ability. In real battle, jokes and smiles won’t save you. You have to be tough, have the stamina, the team spirit, and the ability to use weapons. This isn’t to say personality is useless. It can be very useful but only in conjunction with real ability, as among the con-artists in David Mamet’s plays and films. Thus, Joker’s personality in FULL METAL JACKET wouldn’t amount to much minus the wit, a real advantage. Without the wit, he would have been beaten harder and harder and humiliated. The drill sergeant tolerates Joker’s wise guy personality because he admires Joker’s wit. Joker’s killer wit syncs with the killer instinct. HAL is an interesting case for it has no face, not even a mask but for a dim red light that serves as an eye. Since HAL can’t use its personality, with which he wasn’t endowed, — though there are certain ironically quasi-emotional tones to HAL — to smooth things over, it is ‘condemned’ to be coldly ‘obsessed’ with endless calculations of its power vis-a-vis everyone and everything else. The opposite of HAL is Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and Jack in THE SHINING. They are essentially personalities gone wild. Though not without talent — both are at least superior in intelligence and ability to most ordinary people and their immediate peers — , they overestimate their own power through the sheer force of their personalities. But face-to-face with real power, they turn to putty. One might argue that Barry Lyndon and Bill Harford — Tom Cruise in EYES WIDE SHUT — are more formidable as they are clever enough to restrain their personalities and ease themselves into the forbidden world of privilege, but in the end, they prove to be amateurs who overestimated their cleverness and/or coolness. Lyndon, who’d so craftily mastered the art of aristocratic sophistication, is reduced to raging like a hotheaded Irishman.)
On the ground, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY takes place in pre-history long before mankind came into being; and in space, it is distanced from the problems of the 60s(and whatever earthly problems mankind might be facing in the future). One reason why 2001 hasn’t dated(or at least hasn’t dated badly) is because its futuristic vision was limited to the self-enclosed world of spaceships. If Kubrick had tried to predict social reality of the future, it would have been trickier. (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE does imagine social reality of the future, but it too hasn’t dated because Kubrick was less in predictive mode than in prophetic mode. Prediction is about gauging how things might be in the actual future. Prophecy is about proclaiming a future based on inspiration and imagination; it is more about birthing the future as it could be based on our hopes and fears. Prophecy is like THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA. A prophet may have visions of future paradise as the fruit of man’s genius and creativity, or he may visions of future hell as punishment for man’s wickedness. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE was a prophetic vision of future hell than an attempt to predict the actual future. It is a work of imagination than prognostication. Also, it is predicated on the notion of regression, i.e. the idea of progress as a myth, implying that the future could easily be more barbaric as more advanced. If 2001 contrasts brutal apes with advanced man, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is a vision of regressive ape-ness and progressive reason-ness co-existing side by side. In a general way, our world does reflect some of that dichotomy, for the West is filling up with wild Negroes and crazy Muslims equipped with cellphones and iPads. Oddly enough, advancement of science and technology has also juvenile-ized our culture. We’d like to think science and technology, in favoring intelligence, would also favor experience and wisdom. But oftentimes, very smart young people master math and sciences far quicker than the lessons of life. They grow into shallow geniuses and become very rich very fast, like all those millionaires and billionaires on Silicon Valley. Since young ‘geeks’ are rewarded so handsomely for their penchant for cleverness with numbers and data — and nerdy stuff — , there’s little incentive for them to grow into emotional adults. Just look at the likes of Mark Zuckerberg the weasel. Though Bill Gates is much older, I doubt if he developed emotionally beyond his late teens or early 20s. Why bother when the world showers you with money and pats you on the back for your math and computer skills alone? But if very smart people at least master genuine knowledge in a particular field, masses of dumb young people become dumber because technology has made everything so easy and accessible to them with a flick of a switch or push of a button. Also, even though technology is perfected by the mind, it rakes in big cash by appealing to hedonism and animal senses. 3D film-making may be a great technological breakthrough, but it’s used to make stuff like AVATAR, and it certainly hasn’t made Malick any smarter with TREE OF LIFE. Thus, the more science/technology advances, fewer people know how it works while losing even their basic skills as everything is made more convenient and orgasmic for them. Also, paradoxically, youth-centrism is turning the White West into an old aging society. If young white people become addicted to youth culture, they don’t wanna grow into adulthood. They wanna spend most of the time, money, and energy on staying and feeling young, and so, fewer people get married and produce new young people.) Paradoxically, 2001 appealed to the politicized 60s generation because it was so above the politics and obsessions of the 60s(with the exception of the Space Race to the Moon), but then one of the problems of 60s radicalism was its inbuilt escapism; it wanted to change but also escape from the world through 'higher consciousness' induced by drugs and music. 60s counterculture was both very much OF THE TIME and AGAINST(OR ABOVE) THE TIME. The ‘beautiful people’ were steeped in the thrill of the ‘radical’ moment but also entertained the conceit that they were beyond the moment. So, they weren’t merely part of the now; they were one with forever-ness and timelessness. By listening to psychedelic music, dropping acid, touching Indians, and feeling ‘groovy’, it was as if the 60s generation had transcended all categories of age, nationality, religions, and etc. It’s like the John Lennon song "Imagine". Even Coca-Cola got into the act and ran a commercial with a song that went, "I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony... drink Coca-Cola." Generation of Jerry Garcia and Coca-Cola. (People say the Counterculture became the mainstream culture, what with former radicals now running America, but this isn’t really true. There were many aspects to Counterculture, and many of them failed or were rejected by the very boomer radicals who took over the system. Much of the Counterculture was about free speech, being eccentric, being different, taking chances, favoring flower over power, and rebellion. The sort of Boomers who took over the system were not the dreamers and eccentrics but the totalitarians, radicals, and opportunists. People who really embraced the ideals of the Counterculture favored truth over power. They may have been on the wrong journey chasing after rainbows and fooled by their own delusions, but they were genuine seekers. In contrast, the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton were always power-hungry hustlers who eventually made peace with the system and decided to cash in on the money and power by cutting deals with whomever and whatever. The genuine Counterculture folks either burned out — by pushing the envelope with drugs and/or social experimentation — or stuck to their guns even as times changed, whereas the ones who took the power had always been afraid to be in the frontline. In dodgeball, those with courage and daring get knocked out early whereas the cowards staying in the back survive. Those who took the least risks in the 60s and early 70s were the ones who gained the most power. They chose bureaucratism and nanny-state-ism because they were lacking in creativity, originality, and courage. Like Stalin, they remained in the background and accumulated power by forming a vast network of like-minded cliques. Genuine Counterculture people came to loathe political correctness and the new censoriousness that took hold especially in the late 80s and 90s. Just look at drab PC queens like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. They are born-bureaucrats-and-commissars. They were born wearing uniforms and have no use for freedom. They are only for ‘freedom’ that goes their way and are itching to suppress any freedom that undermines their total control. 60s Counterculture, at its best, was about more freedom, more expression, more debate, and more controversy. But as with all movements, the opportunists and the commissars took the power in the end. It’s like every religion is born with the burst of spiritual freedom and creativity, but eventually institutions grow around it and the faith is turned into dogma protected and pushed by commissars. Though founded by a free-thinking and eccentric rebel-maverick-visionary, the new faith comes to be owned and enforced by colorless commissars who have no imagination of their own. To be sure, the founding maverick visionary could have been a madman or megalomaniac. Nevertheless, he was trying to find his own truth and struggle against himself and the world to think and see beyond conventional norms. There was an element of courage, of an uphill climb. In contrast, the commissars are afraid to think new thoughts lest they upset the iron comfort-blanket of received-wisdom-turned-into-dogma. Thus, new thoughts and further controversies come to be banned by the commissariat — though their ‘truth’ was borne of will-to-freedom-and-heresy. So, if genuine Counterculture folks of the 60s dreamed new dreams and roused people to ponder new possibilities with their own free will, today’s commissars have simplified the 60s into a few catchphrases & dogmas and demand that all of us must bow down to these ‘truths’ — or else face being blacklisted by political correctness for ‘racism’, ‘sexism’, and ‘homophobia’. During the heyday of the Counterculture, the gay movement was fighting for the right to be gay and to be allowed to do their own gay thing. Today, the gay lobby tries to force all Americans to believe that fecal penetration between men is healthy and wonderful. It tries to teach kids that children can have ‘two mommies’. It demands that we not only tolerate homosexuality but WELCOME it though most people aren’t gay and have a natural aversion to gay stuff — even if they repress it under PC pressure and brainwashing; if Victorianism repressed natural expressions of sexual desire, Homomania represses natural distaste for homosexual acts. In the 60s, one could have spirited debate about MLK and other political figures. Today, if you dare spout even the slightest criticism of MLK, you are effectively blacklisted from respectable institutions or can even be fired from your regular job. In the 60s, Jews were for free speech and debate. Today, Jews are for using Abe Foxman as a Jewish Joe McCarthy to go after anyone who might harbor even the slightest unease about Jewish power and influence. Jews who now control the US were never genuine Counterculture folks. They were opportunists who merely used the Counterculture to shake up American society to pave the way for their own Jewish supremacist vision of Correctocracy. It’s like the Bolsheviks were for freedom and dissent ONLY WHEN they were out of power. Once in power, they shut down all dissent and freedoms. Bolsheviks were led by Jews, and the boomers who took the power are led by opportunist Jews. To be fair to Bolsheviks, they were more honest than American Jews today. At the very least, Bolsheviks never pretended to be liberal democrats. In a way, the real Counterculture folks of good faith were naive. Wise or stupid, right or wrong, they really believed in the ideals of freedom and unfettered search for truth. They had no idea that they were being used by Jewish and homo opportunists to merely shake up the system so that Jews and homos could become the new masters of America.)
Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is clearly a work of science fiction with its imagination about the future, space ships, trip to Jupiter, and artificial intelligence. But would it have been science fiction even if the entire film had taken place a million year ago among the apes? This raises an interesting question of what is and isn’t science fiction. Even if all of Kubrick’s film had taken place in the distant past when humans had yet to evolve fully from apes, one could still make a case for its inclusion. Same can be said for QUEST FOR FIRE. It’s certainly not the primitivism per se that makes such films science-fiction-like — if that were so, every documentary about Amazonian jungle folks or African tribal folks would be science-fiction-like — but, rather, the means and modes of speculation and imagination. It’s no wonder that some people prefer to call science fiction ‘speculative fiction’. It’s the very manner of speculating(with a combination of the latest findings in the sciences of anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology AND creative imagination) past worlds and different worlds that makes for science-fiction-ness. (In contrast, purely mythic or fantastic imagination of past worlds isn’t science-fiction-like. So, CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR might be thought of as science fiction since it draws from scientific studies of the past, but LORD OF THE RINGS and 13th WARRIOR, as they draw purely from legend and myth, would never be mistaken for science fiction.) This rule applies to different worlds as well. Think of someone imagining about another planet in another galaxy, and suppose that this imagined planet has no life, thus no civilization or technology to speak of. Despite the absence of life and technology on this imagined planet, the imagination itself could still be thought of as science-fiction-like because our knowledge of the larger universe comes from science.
And primitivism, seen from a certain angle, can take on a science-fiction-like sense of revolutionary technology. To us, a bone is just a bone, but to the ape in 2001, it is like the most marvelous futuristic gadget. By seeing it with ‘new eyes’, the ape finds the science-fiction-ness within an object it had dismissed earlier as merely the remnants of a dead animal. Similarly, while fire means nothing to us modern folks, to the primitive folks in QUEST FOR FIRE, it is truly avant-garde stuff. In this sense, the South African movie GODS MUST BE CRAZY also has a kind of science-fiction-ness to it for the Coke bottle that falls upon the primitive Bushmen tribe is almost like something from another dimension. Science-fiction-ness is as much about the way of seeing as what is seen. Thus, Michelangelo Antonioni’s films beginning with LA NOTTE have a science-fiction feel even though they take place in the present; this is especially true of RED DESERT. And there are no special effects in STALKER, but it too is a work of science fiction(in terms of how it makes us see reality). We cannot travel through time, so when we see the primitive past presented with such clarity and precision in 2001, it’s almost as if we’ve been transported to another time; it’s as if Kubrick turned the movie camera into a time machine device. (In earlier works of science fiction, the audience always knew they were looking at movie effects, not least because most of them were awful or cheesy — and even when the effects were inspired, they still didn’t look very real. But the opening of 2001 really does seem like the world a million years ago, and its space scenes really look and feel like they were shot in outer-space, not least because Kubrick eschewed all sci-fi movie conventions — such as sound in space and earth gravity in space ships — and based everything on years of research with real scientists, astronomers, and NASA people.) Jonathan Rosenbaum said this of BARRY LYNDON as well. With most costume epics or historical dramas, no matter the accuracy or detail, we know we are watching a recreation of the past in the present whereas BARRY LYNDON makes us feel as if we’re really in a different time and place. There’s an element of this science-fiction-ness in TREE OF LIFE as well. The first long segment is like the introductory episode of COSMOS that much impressed young people in the early 80s. Carl Sagan’s TV series wasn’t without schmaltz, but it got the people interested in astronomy and related sciences. Sagan touched on profound matters but had a way of translating difficult ideas into colorful narratives. COSMOS was ambitious but didn’t pretend to be anything more than what it was: at TV science documentary for the public. In contrast, TREE OF LIFE, as far as I can make it out, tries to be not only the Greatest Film Ever Made, not only the Greatest Art Ever Created, but the Greatest Revelation of the Meaning of the Cosmos. COSMOS — MIRACLE MILE too — was smarter about the limits of the visual medium, indeed of any form of art or human expression, i.e. even with our dawning consciousness of the immensity of the cosmos, there’s nothing about us, with us, or by us that can behold such immensity. Thus, Sagan, as cosmic tour guide, gave us only glimpses of the vastness of the universe. He spoke of the ‘ship of the imagination’ and filled us in on the innumerable stars and reminded us of the vast light-years across stars and galaxies. As for MIRACLE MILE, it hints, in the opening and closing scenes, at the vastness of time, of the eternal past and forever future, within which our short lives are wedged. Mathematicians may crunch up the seemingly infinite numbers of eons-and-distances-and-matter-and energy that comprise the universe, but our sensory-challenged and all-too-emotional hearts and mind can ‘see’ and ‘feel’ only so much of this immensity.
So, how foolish for Malick to show entire clumps of ‘immensity’ of time and space as if they are the Real Thing, the big kahuna. It’s like Malick went on a fishing expedition and thinks he caught the mother of all big fish. If by hinting at the immense, MIRACLE MILE finds something of greater significance in everyday things, TREE OF LIFE, by wallowing in (what it assumes to be actual portrait of)immensity, makes infinity seem small and trite. Kubrick captured infinity in the passing of a single day in the opening scene of 2001, but Malick makes a billion years seem like a day at a science museum. Also, by focusing on the tired big themes of Science 101 — Big Bang, Volcanic explosions, first cellular organisms, dinosaurs, giant asteroid hitting the Earth, etc. — none of it strikes us as strange or mysterious. We recognize much of it, just as we recognize the many cameo faces in THIN RED LINE. It’s like a fifth grade lecture on how some asteroid killed off the dinosaurs and how we are made of DNA. No mystery.
While the idea of apes-as-ancestors-of-mankind wasn’t exactly new when Kubrick made 2001, notice the element of unpredictability in the ape scene. We see apes coping not only with daily survival but eternal boredom of constancy — every day and every night seem like the repetition of the day and night before — , that is until the apes come upon the monolith. And no one expected the ape to hurl that bone into the air and then find oneself amongst futuristic vessels in outer space. Audiences had seen apes and space ships in movies before but nothing like Kubrick’s vision that was truly unprecedented — and still continues to blow away all science fiction space movies made since. But the whole first segment of TREE OF LIFE is like astronomy 101, geology 101, biology 101, theology 101, and philosophy 101 rolled into one big joint for aged hippies, young hipsters, and spineless slackers to smoke. The one surprising scene might be when a dinosaur comes upon an injured dinosaur and shows an aspect of ‘grace’ instead of seeing it as lunch, but even that scene looks familiar as an allusion to the final scene between Caviezel’s character and ‘Jap’ soldiers in THIN RED LINE where a thin line separates murderous ‘nature’ and empathetic ‘grace’; the ‘Jappers’ mean to kill the American, but for a moment, there is a kind of ‘spiritual’ truce between them. Despite TREE OF LIFE’s 3D format shown in Omnimax theaters — I only saw the conventional format on TV, but I don’t think I missed anything — and the many elaborate special effects and bubble-blow camera tricks, the overall concept and presentation struck me as obvious and tired.
Even third graders heard of dinosaurs going extinct because of an asteroid. (Malick gives us tripe and cliches about the cosmos but pretends like he’s showing us something startling and revelatory. MIRACLE MILE, in contrast, begins in a museum where a field trip of grammar school kids is in progress. It amusingly presents general science cliches as what they are, reserving its true vision toward exploring the fear and anxiety of having to confront the infinite as tragic reality than as safe displays inside glass cases a museum. Later, the main character stands inside a store next to a shelf stacked with clocks. Clocks are like toys of time, reducing time into neat little packets of minutes and hours. As clocks are useful to human schedules, they anthropomorphicizes time, as if the cosmos also works according to some recognizable goal and schedule. Also, time via clocks is used to serve the living, so we have a tendency to associate time with the living when, in truth, almost all of cosmic time passed through realms of the non-living. When finally faced with the end of the world, the hero of MIRACLE MILE is forced to ponder the meaning of time beyond himself, beyond his world, beyond the living.) Also, given that we still aren’t absolutely sure what killed off the dinosaurs, TREE OF LIFE is foolish to end the dinosaur section with an asteroid hit. It is too retroactively cocksure, too reliant on current knowledge, as if what we’ve discovered and/or theorized in the past few decades has revealed everything we need to know about the cosmos; it lacks the autonomy of its own speculative mystery and grandeur. While some of the images may be impressive, the ‘narrative’ seems to follow the dictates of a National Geographic article. TREE OF LIFE lacks the wonderment of ‘what if’ and is instead weighed down with the certainty of ‘what is’. MIRACLE MILE begins by gently mocking a class trip of school children to a museum — one of those things all of us remember from childhood where adults tried to explain the unfathomable mysteries of the past with pat lectures and toy-like models — , but TREE OF LIFE does just that with a straight face. Malick serves up a class trip lecture like it’s the Bible of the Universe. I was reminded of a similarly silly scene in MISSION TO MARS where the Martians finally reveal how life on Earth began, a scene that was possibly copped by the makers of PROMETHEUS. (Ridley’s Scott’s prequel to ALIEN has four or five great set pieces — the eerie opening scene, the virtual map presentation of the star systems, epic wrestling match between alien skinhead and tentacled beast, and the giant ship falling from the sky — , but its two main concepts neutralize one another: It strives for high-concept profundity ala 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY or SOLARIS YET also tries to rehash gory sci-fi horror cliches. So, the film posits some Big Questions, but the plot degenerates into when-will-who-eat-whom? As director, Scott pulled his weight but couldn’t transcend the material. Scott got lucky with excellent material with BLADE RUNNER but has mostly wasted his considerable talents on second-rate scripts since.)
Though cinephiles may value TREE OF LIFE as an alternative, counter, and/or corrective to the utterly stupid and mindless AVATAR, the two films actually have much in common. They have no use or even understanding of the true sense/idea of vastness and mystery. The essence of vastness and mystery lies the unbridgeable gap between aspiration and accessibility, with our senses touching only the tip of the iceberg. ‘Great men’ have sought to ‘conquer the world’ with armies, ideas, faith, and/or knowledge, but in the grand scheme of things, man is but an ant and his dreams but a flicker. Nevertheless, it is the ultimate realization of this inaccessibility that gives meaning to our aspirations as either folly(comedy) or tragedy or both. In striving for the seemingly unattainable, we are foolish but also heroic, and it is only by testing ourselves against the impossible that we know the true extent and limits of our ability — how many times have mankind have said progress is no longer possible since mankind has come as far as it possibly could? What Harry Washello attempts in MIRACLE MILE — to save his girl when the nuclear horror is imminent — seems pointless, but that makes his determination all the more inspired. The robot boy David in A.I. seeks the impossible — his ‘mother’ in a world where humans have gone extinct — , but his everlasting faith, at once programmed and profound, stir our senses and emotions in ways that cannot be resolved, lulling us into that vast vacuum between what we belong to and what we long for. And it is in that zone where we gain a glimpse of the impossible-eternal. In contrast, the ending of TREE OF LIFE offers a promise of a state where all souls and things are finally reunited and resolved as one, as if eternity and mystery are nothing but a New Age beach picnic with people wetting their feet, holding hands, and smiling a lot. One of the problems with movies like AVATAR and LORD OF THE RINGS, what with their cameras seemingly attached to jet fighters or birds, is that everything is made instantly accessible and easy. When our eyes swoop up from the bottom to the top of a mountain in a split second, it might as well be a molehill. While there’s a certain thrill element to Superman-camera wizardry, the epic sense is lost because the sense of proportionality is gone. We are made to feel as if our eyes are like the Millennium Falcon with the power to zoom from one end of the galaxy to the other; at least Lucas used light speed only sparingly in STAR WARS, whereas Jackson and Cameron’s cameras seem to be on light-speed mode all the time. The sheer literal-minded you-are-there-ness of TREE OF LIFE from the beginning of the Cosmos to the time of dinosaurs to the childhood of Malick’s alter ego to the current era of post-modern skyscrapers makes everything seem mundane and interchangeable. TREE OF LIFE is essentially AVATAR for intellectual-ists and New Age spiritualists. It is also science-fiction-ness(if not exactly science fiction) as the secular faith. Though critics have compared it with 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, it is closer in spirit and brains with Peter Hyam’s risible 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT. It is hokum. If Kubrick transcended the cultural fashions of the 60s, Malick wallows in and panders to the worst excesses of the boomer generation’s self-flattery and the millennial generation’s techno-narcissism. If 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was misunderstood and under-appreciated by too many upon its initial release — mainly because film critics, with their self-conceit as skeptical professionals with full possession of their rational faculties and power of words, were reluctant to admit they’d been totally blown away and entranced by the rapture of sound and images — , a whole bunch of critics and bloggers seemed to have lined up to heap Malick’s film with nothing but praise. (If critics in the past were too guarded in their emotional and sensual experience of film — something Pauline Kael challenged and mocked — , many of today’s critics seem all too willing to be wooed and romanced by films.) Thankfully, some key critics have seen through the utter BS of TREE OF LIFE — as they’d done with THE NEW WORLD — , but slavish slobbering over Malick generally prevailed — and even those who didn’t like the film felt obligated to acknowledge the film’s ‘great ambition’ and ‘profundity’, rather like a guy taking a girl he doesn’t like on a date under the pressure of expectations. But then, in our manufactured age that turns morons and hucksters into ‘pop stars’ and ‘messiahs’ — the age of Oprah, Lady Gaga, and Obama(and an age when a ‘leading intellectual’ like Camille Paglia says that the final duel in REVENGE OF THE SITH is the greatest work of art in the past thirty years) — none of it was very surprising. It’s to be expected in an age when many film critics think P.T. Anderson’s infantile MAGNOLIA is a profound movie about fathers and children, love and hate, guilt and redemption, body and soul, and toad and man. It’s amusing how so many supposedly skeptical, sophisticated, and hipsterish SWPL types so easily fall for such tripe. All said and done, despite all their ‘radical’ poses and ‘bohemian’ manners, all they really want is to suck on their thumbs and go ‘goo’. But at least MAGNOLIA featured an inspired directing style and a handful of good performances(when not ruined by over-acting and over-aching). TREE OF LIFE is just one long gesture of cosmic thumb-sucking and diaper-changing. It reminds me of a Peanuts comic strip where Lucy asks Linus what he’s eating. He says sugar cubes with honey, and Lucy runs off holding her mouth, presumably to vomit. That’s TREE OF LIFE. It’s visual sugar dripping with narrative honey. It’s preciousness varnished with preciousness, pomposity inflated with pomposity, purity washed with purity, grandiosity striving for grandiosity. Visually and aurally, it’s too muchness from beginning to end. If Obama is a man of ‘profound humilities’, TREE OF LIFE is the sort of movie where even whispers are the choruses of God. It makes you wanna throw up and throw stuff at the screen. The visual scheme of TREE OF LIFE is like that of Ron Fricke’s New Age travelogues BARAKA and SAMSARRA, but at least Fricke’s highfalutin nonsense just loads up on the images & music and can be enjoyed in parts as Instant Travel around the World. Despite the too-much-ness, Fricke for the most part presents arresting images and leaves it up the viewers to do with them as they choose. So, one can ignore the stupid aspects of BARAKA and SAMSARRA and enjoy them as high-concept slideshows. In contrast, TREE OF LIFE has Malick not only overfeeding us with New Age tripe as Gerber pablum but massaging our souls, whispering sweet-everythings into our ears, administrating holy-water-and-baby-oil enemas into our orifices, and talcum-powdering our butts. You see, during his long ‘exile’ between DAYS OF HEAVEN and THIN RED LINE, he found the secret elixir that can heal us all. (It’s interesting that both Lucas and Malick directed their last film in the late 70s and made their comeback in the late 90s. Lucas because he thought he finally had the technology to fulfill his true vision. Malick did likewise presumably because he finally arrived at the great truth that would no longer merely pose questions but offer answers.) Malick isn’t content to show us the movie. He wants to enter our minds and souls and swirl inside us like yin and yang and cure our souls. It’s mush. Worse, it demonstrates that the totalitarian mentality isn’t only political or ideological but can easily be spiritual. TREE OF LIFE may seem beautiful and uplifting to many people, but it’s also a megalomaniacal form of auto-messianism. The TV show FATHER KNOWS BEST meant that the father knew best about his family affairs. It didn’t mean he knew best about humanity, history, life, and the cosmos, but that is just what Malick, as the representative of the boomer generation, is peddling. In terms of sheer ego, there isn’t much difference between Malickism and Maoism. TREE OF LIFE might as well be called MALICK KNOWS BEST.

The science-fiction-ness of TREE OF LIFE is perhaps ‘ideally’ in sync with the latest almost science-fiction-like technologies. While there’s no short supply of movies overloaded with special effects, most are still narratives with beginning, middle, and end. They have something like character development, even if characters tend to be one-dimensional. So, even though movies like AVATAR and TRANSFORMERS are dizzying hurricanes of special effects, they still function as stories from starting point to the finish line. By contrast, it doesn’t much matter how you see TREE OF LIFE. You could shuffle the thing and start seeing it from beginning, middle, or end and it won’t make much difference. It’s like a tossed salad; you don’t have to start with the lettuce. Given the arbitrariness of its narrative structure, gadget-addled young ones can watch a snippet on the iPad, a clip on youtube, a fragment on iPhone, and etc. Some might argue Malick is at the cutting edge of cinematic art by eschewing conventional narratives, but not for a second did I feel challenged by TREE OF LIFE. It’s not exactly MURIEL, 8 ½, or CITIZEN KANE. Malick didn’t forgo ‘conventional narrative’ to expand the language of cinema but to affirm the simple faith in the soulful unity of all things. There’s a big difference a baby’s incomprehension of and/or indifference to sequentiality and consequentiality AND an adult’s attempt to go beyond them. TREE OF LIFE is just cosmic babytalk, just a lot of goo-goo-ga-ga about "good mommy, bad daddy, waaaaah". It’s baby tantrums rhapsodized into pseudo-Tantrics.

Nevertheless, the film seems to have a spiritual hold on its diehard fans, but then, such devotion is also very much in keeping with the thrust of science fiction(though TREE OF LIFE isn’t technically science fiction). After all, the most notable new religion of the 20th century is Scientology, something cooked up by a science fiction writer — and there are also cults around STAR TREK and STAR WARS. And Kubrick described 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as a movie about ‘god’, and Tarkovsky the Russian spiritualist made two science fiction films with SOLARIS and STALKER — and even THE SACRIFICE, with its theme of WWIII and end of the world, touched on science-fiction-ness. And consider THE FOUNDATION series by Isaac Asimov, who also wrote ISAAC ASIMOV’S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE. Asimov’s FOUNDATION is, to a large extent, a sci-fi version of Jewish game of survival and power. Jewish religion is largely about memory of the past, but endgame of Judaism isn’t simply to study the past to preserve the past but to prophesy the future. This is the difference between history and religion. One studies history to better understand what happened in the past whereas religion digs into the past for the key to future and eternal glory. Thus, Jews have always looked backward to look forward. Paradoxically, Judaism has been more forward-looking than Christianity because of its absence of Messiah-has-arrived narrative. While Christianity has promoted itself as the New Faith that has acknowledged the arrival of the Messiah and liberated itself from the stuffy traditions of Judaism, the very fact of the Messiah-has-already-arrived narrative has converted the New religion into the looking-backward religion. While the history of the New Testament comes long after the history of the Old Testament, the prophecy of the New Testament is a done deal whereas the prophecy of the Old Testament has yet to be realized as Jews still believe the true Messiah has yet to arrive; even secular Jews share this feverish sense of future revelation. For Christians, since the Messiah is said to have already arrived and said all that needs to be said, they rewind to the period of His arrival, death, and ascendance. In contrast, even as Jews are fixated on the Old Testament and Old traditions, they look to past clues for future cues. Thus, if the Coming of the Messiah is a past-tense for Christians, it has always been a future tense for Jews. Most modern Jews are secular and lack religious faith, but their long tradition of anticipating the Messiah has been transmuted to a kind of radical futurism. To be sure, Christians also have something to look forward to since there’s the promise of the Second Coming, but that’s only an encore; the great event of Christianity — the birth, life, and death of Jesus — is in the past tense, whereas Jews continued to look forward for the coming of their true glory. There is something like this in Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION. Its elite scholars study the past in great detail to understand how events will turn out in the future. It’s like looking back forward. And of course, Marxist scholarship revolved around much the same thing. Jewish intellectuals would pore through Marxist texts to find clues to the future of capitalism and the socialist revolution.
Thus, for a whole host of reasons, the appeal of science fiction seems to be more mythical than material. While some science fiction fans are primarily fascinated with technological possibilities and promises(and dangers), many more seem to have a paradoxical relation to science fiction. For them, sci-fi is less about science-as-possibility than about science-as-the-new-unfathomable mystery. Since so much power is invested in science(and since scientific theories are outpacing the ability of the layman to understand them), the future of science has also become the repository of the great mystery. When mankind didn’t understand nature, nature was mythologized and deified into mysterious gods or forces of gods. Nature can still do us much harm, and many people still fear the awesome power of nature near volcanos, during hurricane seasons, and etc. But we have a good sense of what causes earthquakes and hurricanes, so there’s no mystery attached to their power. Nature remains powerful but in a mechanical/material than mythical/mysterious way. And this is also true with most of current technology. While most of us don’t know how a can opener works, we know there’s some gears and gadgets operating inside the machines. But things are getting ever stranger in the realm of advanced science, so much so that scientists use terms like the ‘god particle’ so that layman might understand what is at stake. In a primitive society, the technological understanding between the dumbest member and smartest member wasn’t very wide. Both could learn to make and use spears and bows; both could understand how and why such tools/weapons work the way they do. And before the rise of advanced computers, most machines could be more or less understood by almost anyone who got some learning. Even a layman can ‘get’ how and why a record player or TV works the way it does. But with the rise of advanced computers and all the new discoveries made possible through them, we’re moving into an area where only a small number of people ‘get it’ while rest of us have no clue what’s going on. Paradoxically, the new gadgets and machines made possible by advanced science are user-friendlier than ever — indeed even illiterate Negroes in Africa can get the hang of such devices in short time — , but most of us have only the vaguest idea of how they work. And even if we took the time to study the science behind them, it’d be like banging heads against a brick wall for many of us. Technology is now moving way beyond the ability of most people to understand them; even some of the geeks are having trouble as a college student might graduate with the realization that his studies have already been rendered obsolete. Perhaps, most people just take things in stride as they don’t really care about ‘how it works’ as long as it makes their lives easier, faster, and more fun. But, the current pace of changes means that the elites who know the technology are going to gain tremendous power over us — and it’s not just in Silicon Valley but on Wall Street, where new practices and computerized processes have become so complex and restless that regulators have no clue where to begin or what to do; and even if they did, they’d be up against the globalist Zionist power(that also controls the courts, government, and media) that tolerates no counter-check on Jewish Supremacy. It will almost be like an elite order of humans ruling over and controlling masses of apes, especially as ‘idiocracy’ of dysgenics may be setting in with the dwindling of the white population and the massive arrival of lower IQ folks from non-white nations. While super-smart and super-rich geeks are marrying geekettes and having super-smart geeklings, the masses may well be getting dumber and dumber — at least in the West where whites are refusing to have kids or increasingly having kids with Negroes and the like while non-whites are having lots of babies and bringing their dumb relatives via chain immigration.

As science and technology outpace our mental abilities, they become ever more mysterious to us. On the other hand, the sheer accessibility of these gadgets to users — even tribal Africans use cell phones light years ahead of the most expensive phones used by billionaires 10 years ago — has also made technology mundane to all parts of the globe. Also, through social networking, the mind-space between the West and non-West and between urban life and rural life has been dissolving. Now, even people in small towns can see films from all over the world and can be ‘friends’ on Facebook with Germans and Moroccans. They can use Google Earth and Youtube to see every street corner and everyday life from all over the world. With advance in ‘virtual reality’ technology, people everywhere will be able to ‘go anywhere’. Science and technology become ever more mysterious in their inner-workings but ever more apparent and intrusive in their outer manifestations.

Anyway, the appeal of science fiction is not so much to the idea of what is scientifically possible as what is impossible. Therein lies the appeal of mystery in science fiction. Science fiction ceases to be science fiction the moment we in the real world invent the wonder technology. The allure is in the sense of science/technology so advanced that it is practically impossible in our world. Same goes for the horror genre. Horror isn’t merely about some murderous psychotic but about evil beyond rational understanding. Thus, most horror movies have a supernatural aspect, but even non-supernatural work can be construed as ‘horror’ if the evil defies our rational understanding. This is where Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO may qualify as horror. As it turns out, there is a rational and scientific explanation for Norman Bates’s madness. But despite the clinical analysis that neatly connects the dots, Bates’s expression and inner ‘voice’ in the final shot defy psychology. We can explain his madness but not his soul; his hypnotic stare pulls us into the vertiginous abyss. It makes you sick. Even as we know with our minds, we remain afraid in our hearts.
We think we have a ‘rosebud’ explanation for Norman Bates, but, in the end, he remains a mystery like Charles Foster Kane. And even though the car is recovered from the swamp — unlike the sled that goes up in flames in CITIZEN KANE — , the woman remains a mystery too, and she herself didn’t know why she really did what she did. (Ostensibly, she stole to have a better life with her lover, but all of us are tempted everyday. We know there’s something to gain by transgressing or trespassing against laws and rules. But why do some give into temptation while others don’t? Where is the thin line between the abhorrence of and acceptance of transgression? Where is the line between guilt conscience and amoral pride? There is a bit of Norman Bates in all of us. Incidentally, Anthony Perkins as Bates, as well as Joseph K in THE TRIAL, may have been an influence on Dustin Hoffman’s role in THE GRADUATE; and the flash-cutting of Benjamin looking at Mrs. Robinson’s nude body recalls the editing in the shower-knifing scene in PSYCHO. Regarding THE GRADUATE, it’s interesting how the cultural narrative is played out, especially according to the powers-that-be that control the media. On the special features on the DVD, a bunch of Jews and Hollywood liberals say how the casting of Hoffman was so ‘radical’ at the time when tall light-skinned blondes — wink wink ‘Aryan’ types — had dominated all the leading male roles. So, you’d think THE GRADUATE was some kind of cultural breakthrough in presenting people who looked ‘more like real Americans’, a rather funny notion since Jews were never more than 2 or 3% of the US population. Anyway, it’s simply not true that most leading male roles had gone to tall light-skinned blonde types. One of the biggest stars of the 40s and 50s was Humphrey Bogart who, though a wasp, looked like a rat-faced Jew or greasy Italian. And the nasty Irishman James Cagney, also a huge star, was hardly a tall blonde type. The short and funny-looking Mickey Rooney was also one of the biggest stars of the 40s, and there were plenty of ethnic comedians like Abbott and Costello and the Marx Brothers. Paul Muni was a major star, and so was Tony Curtis, and both were hardly light-skinned tall blonde ‘Aryans’; they were Jews. Montgomery Clift was good-looking to be sure but hardly the Big Man type. Two years before Hoffman, Omar Sharif the Egyptian landed the role of Russian Zhivago, the biggest hit of Lean’s career. And James Dean did the misunderstood youth-angst thing a decade before Hoffman. Dean did have some blonde hair, but he was an oddball, not the classic hero. Cary Grant was a Big Man type, but he was rather dark and ruddy in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, so the idea that Hollywood stars had to be light-skinned is a myth. And Frankie Avalon the ‘dago’ was in a whole bunch of Beach Party movies in the early 60s. So, Hoffman’s role in THE GRADUATE was hardly groundbreaking. Where the movie really made a difference was in its mood and look, as if submerged inside the aquarium of Benjamin Braddock’s mind and emotions. Anyway, notice how Jews spin the cultural narrative to make themselves the ‘sensitive rebels’ nobly swimming against the tide of Tall Blonde Wasp domination — in Hollywood of all places! If Jews were so sensitive and caring, why did the Jewish Blake Edwards use Mickey Rooney as a buck-toothed ‘Jap’ in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, admittedly to hilarious effect? Why did Jews in animation come up with Speedy Gonzalez the funny-talking Mexican mouse?) A similar dynamics operates in science fiction, where technology is shrouded in an aura of mystery beyond our imagination, though, to be sure, there is no single kind of science fiction. We know, for instance, that the device for reigniting the sun in Christopher Doyle’s SUNSHINE is beyond current technology(and ludicrous within bounds of real future science); we also know the sun cannot be ‘fixed’ in such way. Yet, it’s the imagination of the impossible that creates the illusion of grand mystery. (Incidentally, the villain in SUNSHINE makes no sense whatsoever. How did a man survive such burns and gain such near-superhuman powers? He almost ruins the movie as a stock horror movie monster; he’s like the creature in the original version of THE THING. The ONLY way that character might make sense if we surmise that God or gods exist in the SUNSHINE universe. Suppose there are various gods, two at the very least, on the Sun. Or maybe God is of two minds, a kind of split personality. One god or one side of God tests mankind by threatening the world with extinction; this deity or spiritual force demands that mankind obey and accept the decree of the sun god. It would be heresy for mankind to defy the will of god. But maybe there’s another god or another side of God that wants to push mankind to its limit and see if it is truly worthy of its intelligence, imagination, and values; this god secretly roots for the success of the mission. It’s like one bunch of gods make things impossible for Odysseus while another bunch of gods want to see him succeed. It’s like God makes things bad for Job but also protects him. Without such spiritual element — idea of the Sun as a ‘thinking’ or ‘living’ god in the manner of the Ocean planet in SOLARIS — , SUNSHINE is sheer looney tunes in its final third. Indeed, consider the how the hero isn’t killed right away by the explosion at the very end; instead, some spiritual force on the Sun seems to gently embrace him as a kind of ‘starchild’ messiah. By finishing the mission of sacrificing himself for the rest of mankind, it’s as if he attained he status of messiah-hood. His death on the Sun thus goes from the hellish to the heavenly.)
Or consider the child in A.I. Will such a robot child ever be possible? Maybe, maybe not, but, even if possible, we know it’s way in the distant future. What fascinates us isn’t so much ‘what is or may be possible’ but ‘what seems unreal but is made real through myth’. Even as science had demystified the world — unlocking one secret after another in the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics — , the methodology of science has grown even more ‘mystifying’ to most of us. The instrument helps us see the world more clearly, but the instrument itself becomes clouded in growing in complexity; science open one door, but once inside the room, we see more doors leading to other rooms; more puzzlingly, the truth revealed in a new room may contradict with the truth in the previous roo; how could both dimension-alities be true? (To be sure, some of the newer findings in biology and physics are also getting pretty mystifying as the inner mechanics of the DNA and subatomic particles, even as they make theoretical sense to the experts, seem to defy our prior assumptions of how life and matter ‘should’ work’.) If nature had once been the altar of mysterious forces, future of technology is now the temple where the mysterious are hidden. Despite the logic behind all scientific knowledge and technological knowhow, most of us don’t get it and rely on mythic imagination of science fiction to ponder our relation to the future that will be ‘radically’ transformed. Science fiction allows us to deal with the power of science and technology as a matter of faith, in religious terms of war or struggle for or against it. Thus, the benevolent beings of the future in LA JETEE offer salvation to the time-traveler captive to the men of the ruthless present. But the future could also be a technological hell, and the future sends an agent to the present to ensure the creation of that hell in THE TERMINATOR. Same goes for space aliens. They can either be infinitely wiser and technologically more advanced than us in a good way(like the beings in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND) or in bad way(as in WAR OF THE WORLD and other space alien invasion movies). They can be angels or devils, and as their science/technology is way beyond our feeble minds, we can only pray that things will be go our way. Our acceptance or resistance becomes a test of faith, the chance for our collective redemption through them or the need for our holy crusade/jihad against them — since we cannot defeat them with our technology, much relies on hope and a prayer.

There is the fear and fascination that the machines will one day gain their own will and become god-lords over us, which too is a ‘religious’ idea. If machines outgrow and outpace humanity — even the nerds who made them — and gain their independence and work on themselves to further advance their powers, they will truly be beyond human understanding, even that of the most intelligent people on Earth — just like even the best chess players find it ever more impossible to defeat the computer.
In a way, this was the problem with HAL. Humans made him, but his logical powers superceded that of humans. Hal the machine ‘feels’ as god over man. There was something like this in TRON: LEGACY too, albeit with a more mystical twist. Flynn designed and built every nano-gigabyte of his private computer empire called the Grid, but within this artificial world was birthed something unbeknownst to his conscious will, something spontaneous and unforseen to his egotistical intellect. A kind of ‘miracle’ happened. The cyber-utopia he built to populate with creatures of his conscious design conjured up creatures independent of his rational/perfectionist will. It’s the difference between construction and creation. Flynn built something artificial but something ‘organic’ miraculously grew out of it; similarly, David in A.I. was designed to be a programmed robot but ‘miraculously’ and tragically developed something like a real soul. Of course, one wonders to what extent the ISOs — the miraculous creatures spontaneously created by the cyber-system — were born of Flynn or of the technology Flynn created. To the extent that the ‘Grid’ was designed and revised by Flynn — and worked on by Flynn’s doppelganger CLU — , it is as much an extension of Flynn’s mind as something created by his mind. In that sense, when Flynn’s son enters the Grid, is he entering something created by his father or the very soul of his father, a soul torn between the narcissism of power/perfection/immorality and the organicism of growth/flexibility/mortality? Or is the Grid both? It’s tricky, like the machinations behind the dream-sharing in INCEPTION or eXistenZ where we aren’t exactly sure who is entering whose dream and whether the dream is real or conjured, a scenario also explored in Charlie Kaufman in BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and Peter Weir in THE TRUMAN SHOW(where Truman’s ‘reality’ turns out to be an elaborately set up pop-cultural fantasy). Anyway, our fascination with TRON: LEGACY and INCEPTION owes to their technologies being so far advanced that we can only stare at them in a state of total wonderment. It’s like science that defies the rules of science as we know them and, as such, take on a mythical dimension. If real science and technology in our world must work according to their laws and limitations, the ‘science’ of science fiction follows the ‘logic’ of imagination. Thus, Roy Batty is as much a god as robot — robogod — in BLADE RUNNER. And when the technology in science fiction seems within grasp in our mundanely real world, a new fascination arises from the speculation of its contact with a greater technology. The space technology in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, dazzling as it is, is within the realm of technological possibility, that is if NASA were to invest in such things. The true mystery of 2001 arises from technological man’s coming in contact with the monolith, a form of technology so astounding that might as well be ‘spiritual’ or godly as far as human intellect is concerned. (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was also amazing upon release for no one imagined that such film-making technology was even possible. I always wondered how the movie audience would have reacted in the 1950s if someone had used a time machine to smuggle a print of STAR WARS to that earlier period. Audiences in 1968 must have felt something similar with 2001, which, even today, remains the most incredible science fiction film ever made.) Same goes for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. The best scientists around the world come together to use science and technology to make contact with space aliens, but human technology, impressive and audacious as it is to most of us, is pipsqueak stuff compared to that of the aliens. The space aliens might as well be gods from outer-space. Thus, science fiction is essentially mythic and neo-religious than truly scientific. Even in its speculativeness, it’s more concerned with spiritual than with technological themes. It’s often about technological forces with godly powers or about forces beyond technology — like the Ocean Mind Planet in SOLARIS. Or consider eXistenZ where the threads of ‘realities’ are so interwoven that we lose sight of which fabric of time and space is real or unreal.
And the ending of INCEPTION doesn’t make it really clear if the protagonist is outside his dream or still in a dream. (Has he too been ‘played’ by others so that he could finally go ‘home’?) The appeal of myths lies in the infinitude of their mysteries; there’s always another mask behind the mask. Something about human nature wants to solve mysteries for the sake of finding ever deeper mysteries, just as explorers wanna discover new worlds as gateways for newer worlds ad infinitum. We unlock one door to find yet more doors to unlock. That’s one of the fascinations with Kafka’s novels(and the Bible, Hindu texts, and mythic stories of the Ancients); the sheer inexhaustibleness of how they can be approached, read, interpreted, understood, and ‘solved’. We dread unlocking the door that turns out to be the final door for we’ll have arrived at the dead end of human knowledge, and there shall be no more mysteries with all their enticing/intriguing promises and dangers. We want yet another door and another door of mystery, which is one reason why horror is more popular than the mystery genre; in the latter, there seems to be some dark mystery, but the power of reason and fact-gathering wins in the end, and the mystery is solved once and for all, whereas in the horror genre, the monster can return even after it has been destroyed as satanic evil works in mysterious ways that defies logic — it’s like how Michael and Freddy the Krueger kept coming back movie after movie in the HALLOWEEN and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series.
We think we’ve unlocked most of the doors on the workings of nature, at least on Earth. When we think of rain, we think of barometric pressures. We don’t think of gods. When we think of current technology, we think of machines and geeks. But when we speculate about futuristic technologies, there’s a powerful sense of mystery. There’s also the imaginative speculation of technology and rationality coming in contact with unrealities that subvert or overturn everything we assumed about the nature of reality. Sometimes the great mystery is psychological, as in LA JETEE or ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Sometimes, the mystery is spiritual, as with the ‘miraculous’ Room in STALKER. Or, it’s otherworldly, like the monolith in 2001. Or, it can be the loss of a clear meaning of what it means to be human or what it means to be oneself. Consider BLADE RUNNER where replicants are becoming ‘more human than human’ and where some ‘humans’ don’t even know that they’re replicants. If Deckard is indeed a replicant, he could have spent his entire life — from ‘creation’ to ‘retirement’ — believing he is human.
Religion and mythology are, to a large extent, our fascination with the mystery of power. After all, no culture ever worshiped a god or gods who were weaker than men. (Animism believes in minor spirits that may be weaker than man, but such spirits are not gods per se.) One of the main attractions of monotheism that grew out of Judaism was simply the Jewish conception of power. The moral, poetic, and/or philosophical underpinnings of Judeo-Christian theology were wedded to the conception of the greatest and most powerful God in the universe. The Jewish God wasn’t created with, by, or of the universe but was the very creator of the universe. Jewish concept of God was so ‘extreme’ that it didn’t merely say that Yahweh was the most powerful God but that He is the ONLY God. Human mind is such that it prefers variety in certain matters and simplicity in others. Women like to own a variety of shoes, and we like to taste a variety of foods. But when it comes to matters of great importance, we want a sense of certainty and security. Diversity in food doesn’t harm us, but diversity of answers to a math problem is intolerable as only one answer can be correct while all other ‘diverse’ answers are wrong. It’s like diversity of opinions and diversity of actions are very different things; purely in the realm of opinions, it is harmless for someone to spout communism, but if communism were to be practiced alongside other economic systems within the same society, it would lead to social chaos and war. In our desire for sure survival and well-being, we want the right prophet or predictor of future events. And when it comes to issues of right or wrong, we want to be right and feel right — and under the protection of the rightful lord. The problem of polytheism was that the vast array of gods didn’t make for feelings of certainty or security. So, you could pray to and make sacrifices to a certain god, but what if other gods were conspiring against you? So, you had to hedge your bets like on a roulette table. Your risks would be spread across the board but so would your chances. Notice how half the gods were with the Trojans and the other half with the Greeks. In contrast, Yahweh was with the Jews and only with the Jews. Even when Jews angered Yahweh, He didn’t side with enemies of Jews against the Jews. Yahweh might withdraw His protection of the Jews from the enemies of Jews and watch Jews suffer for awhile, but Yahweh was the God of the Jews, never of the rivals or enemies of Jews; in contrast, Greeks believed that their gods might even support the enemies of Greeks. There was only one God in Judaism, so Jews could concentrate on that one great power that ruled the universe and favored the Jews. (So, in the spiritual realm, Jews didn’t hedge their bets as did the polytheists with their many gods. Since different gods of polytheism had different agendas, polytheists generally could never win totally or lose totally. Consider how Odysseus just barely made it back home because, while some gods were with him, others were against him. And just because he did finally make it home doesn’t mean that the gods who hate him will stop hating him. He will never know a single day of spiritual unity when all gods look down upon him favorably. Jews placed their entire bet on their one and only God who, of course, demanded that they do so. If Jews dared to hedge their bets by worshiping forbidden idols, God would have smitten the Jews real good. So, the spiritual aspect of Judaism came to see things in terms of total jackpot or total wipe-out, total victory or total defeat. It’s no wonder that Jews have been utterly ruthless and relentless under both communism and capitalism to gain total control over everything. It’s no wonder that Jews were both the biggest losers and winners of the 20th century. The Holocaust was truly horrible, and European Jews faced the possibility of extermination. But the rise of Jewish power in the 20th century, especially in America, has been astounding. Who would have thought that a people who comprised only 2% of the population would have so easily and quickly overthrown the seemingly invincible and mighty Anglo-Americans. No other people could have done it. Jews are so ambitious for total control and monopoly of total Truth that they can drive other peoples batshit crazy, indeed enough to make them want to expel or exterminate the Jews. But, Jewish brilliance can be so dazzling and awesome that some people wanna kowtow to the Jews and be ruled by them, and it seems most Americans have fallen into this mode of Jew-worship. Given this Extreme nature of Jewish personality, Jews have had a very rocky history of steep highs and steep lows. Chinese, in contrast, have been a more consistent people in terms of their ambition. But even as the extreme way of Jewishness pushed Jews to make extreme wagers in history, their long history and experiences taught them to be crafty, cunning, and careful. So, even though Jews spiritually and/or emotionally don’t hedge their bets, they learned to play the game across all sides, which is why Armand Hammer played capitalism and communism against one another and why Henry Kissinger seems to be everyone’s friend and enemy. Also, Jews mastered the art of rigging the bets, and this art got so masterfully fine-tuned by the 21st century that even after Zionists and Jews lost big time with the Iraq War debacle and Wall Street meltdown, they came out of both catastrophes unscathed and, if anything, richer and more powerful than ever. Things are now rigged that, even when Jews lose, they win. All the blame for the Iraq War was conveniently dumped on Bush II. And though Jews played a big role in creating economic bubbles, the tech bubble got blamed on Clinton and the housing bubble got blamed on Bush II. Marc Rich got bailed out by Clinton. Though Bernie Madoff the Jew ripped off so many people, the narrative was "poor poor Jews were the main victims of Madoff", which is total BS. And Zionists in Israel can promote Jewish nationalism, but white folks in Europe and America better not have any racial identities of their own. Jews stay behind and above the scene and pull the strings of the puppets they control. Jews love to gamble, which is why they pretty much built the gambling industry in the US; though nasty Italian-Americans and Teamsters muscled in on the action for awhile, both fell by the wayside as Jewish brains beat Italian brawn and as Big Labor took a nosedive as a major player in the globalized New Order. Just like Ace Rothstein in Martin Scorsese’s CASINO, Jews don’t just gamble for fun but gamble to master the ‘science’ of gambling. Rothstein kept winning because he studied every wager from as many angles as possible. And he made alliances with the powerful so that even if he messed up, he’d be bailed out and be protected. It’s like what Johnny Ola says of Hyman Roth in THE GODFATHER PART II: "Hyman Roth always made money for his partners." Of course, he made most for himself, but he understood the game of alliances as that too was a kind of wager on the future. Jews have the combination of extremism and flexibility, which is why so many people underestimate Jews. Because Jews seem to be ‘playing the game’, the assumption is that Jews have no direction, no compass, and no real agenda but making some dough. In truth, Jews play fast and loose not because they’re a bunch of hack hustlers but because they’re looking at all the angles in their ambition for total and absolute power. It’s like how the con artists in David Mamet plays; they seem to be hustling just to make a few bucks here and there, but in fact, they are maneuvering to make the big kill and take it all. It’s like Kleinfeld character in CARLITO’S WAY. Because he plays so fast and loose with all sides — big time gangsters, his friends, the district attorney, judges, and etc. — , one might think he’s just some petty thief trying to squeeze out an extra buck. But in fact, he does as he does because he wants to gain power over everyone. He’s not just playing for the extra cash but the whole jackpot. He plays loose and slippery with his hands and lips, but he has the iron balls and heart of the extreme Jewish soul. Jews are known for their intellect, but even their formidable intellect serves the Jewish soul/personality that is made of fiery stuff that seeks to smite all enemies in the long run. Popular culture often presents Jewish aspergery symptoms as cute or something to pity, but they are the basis of extreme personalities, like the Jew kids in RUSHMORE and MOONRISE KINGDOM who are really psychotic if you think about it. Look through the cuteness, and it’s not very cute. Consider the homo Jew kid played by Bob Balaban in MIDNIGHT COWBOY. Notice how he gets sexual favors from Joe Buck — Jon Voight — but then pulls out a sob story and makes himself the object of pity even though Joe Buck is the wronged one. A Jew will spit on you and then make you feel sorry for him as a victim of dehydration so that you will get him a glass of water for his mouth to be replenished to spit on you some more. I’ve personally known plenty of such Jews. Consider how Jews are so rich and so hateful toward white conservatives, but Zionists go to Christian churches of low income white folks and ask for donations to aid the poor defenseless people of Israel who are supposedly on the verge of being wiped out by Iranian and Palestinian Nazis.) In a similar way, Jews in the West have focused on the institutions and levers of power. Jews understand that power in the modern world is decided by a handful of forces that control the hearts and minds of the masses. So, Jews don’t have to own or control everything to possess most of the power. They need only to own the institutions of power. If you control the laws, you control the government. If you control finance, you control the politicians who can be bought and sold like prostitutes. If you control the media, you control what is hip and cool and fashionable among the young. If you control the elite academia, you shape and mold the minds of the richest and most influential members of society. If you control entertainment, you control the pleasure machines to which the masses are addicted for their weekly/daily/hourly dosage of eye-ear orgasm and with which they cannot do without. And Jews, by having gays enter and take over church institutions, are even gaining power over Christianity, and it’s possible that most Christian Churches will be for ‘gay marriage’ within the next decade. When renegades Jesus and Paul remolded the Jewish God into the Universal God available to all humanity, Jews were spitting mad. Jewish God was not to be shared with non-Jews. Some non-Jews were allowed to convert to Judaism, but it was the exception than the rule. The Jewish God could bless all of mankind but only through the Jews, the one and only Chosen People of the one and only God. It says so in the Bible, which is why so many Fundamentalist Christians are so slavish toward the Jews. (Never mind that modern Jews use their power and wealth to undermine white people and white power. Fundamentalist Christian dummies were never much for thought.) The Old Testament says that all of mankind shall be blessed by the growing power and prosperity of the Jews, i.e. humanity cannot be blessed except through the success, happiness, and power of Jews.

Anyway, the appeal of mythology and religion lies their contemplation of the mystery of power. Raw power is fearsome but not necessarily fascinating. Spiritual/mythic/mysterious power is power we don’t understand to which we pray in order to be saved, protected, or ‘delivered’ from raw/physical/obvious power we do understand. While the mind or power of reason ultimately helps us to find solutions around obstacles(things of overbearing raw power) that stand in our way, it is the power of the spirit that inspires us to have faith in the possibility of salvation, deliverance, and/or transcendence; instead of giving into fate, the power of the spirit goads us to believe in the possibility of overcoming fate; this spirit may have predatory roots as predators tend to be more daring than prey animals. Prey animals generally try to flee from danger; while predator animals also often take flight from danger, they sometimes feel an inner-spirit that pushes them to take on the challenge, even against great odds; take a mountain lion that may even challenge a grizzly bear several times its size and weight; if the power of faith has predatory roots, spirituality is paradoxical for it, at once, advises mankind to bow down and resign themselves before the mighty spirit AND be inspired by the spirit to take up the fight against the greatest of odds; it’s like the Taliban soldiers are utterly humble before Allah but this resignation before Allah fills them with the courage to take the fight against enemies much stronger than them.
The nature of our relationship to different kinds of power — raw and mysterious — can be seen in the film 127 HOURS where a hiker/climber gets his arm trapped between rocks inside a gorge. He’s helpless in his predicament but fully knows the nature of his dilemma. He fears the rocks’ power over him but his feelings are those of aggravation than fascination. In the end, it’s some mysterious inner-spirit that makes him go beyond what he thought himself capable of.
Consider the character Moose in Archie Comics. He’s a big lunk who can kick everyone’s butt but isn’t revered by anyone. Or consider a big powerful Negro who goes around kicking white boys’ asses and raping white women — someone who looks like Mike Tyson. He is feared but not worshiped. (Given the natural and rational fear that whites have of blacks — a fear that, if understood and used properly, can serve to justify white race-ism against the foul jigger-jivers — , it’s no wonder that anti-race-ist idiots and clever Jews have been pushing the notion of the Magic Negro. Often, the Magic Negro is a big strong Negro with huge muscles. Consider the mountain-sized Negro who wuvs a wittle white mouse in GREEN MILE. In real life, such a Negro would be feared, and white folks would be justified in not wanting to integrate with such ilk. And whites would also feel a measure of justification in having kept blacks down in the past. If indeed blacks are naturally bigger, stronger, and more aggressive — thus a threat to the well-being of the white race — , then white ‘racism’ was largely justified, the implication being that whites have every right to organize and unite for their shared and common racial interests. But Jews don’t want whites to feel this way, so they, following the lead of naive and foolish anti-race-ist propagandists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, have promoted the image of the Negro where his muscle power is equated with some mysterious magical power. Thus, the mountain-sized Negro in GREEN MILE isn’t a black thug but a kind of angelic figure whose body and soul, as a mountain of spiritual strength, is linked with the heavenly realm. In reality, Negro muscle is used to whup white boy’s ass, but in the field of fantasy that so much dominates our popular culture, Negro muscle is either associated with heavenly powers of ‘white guilt’ redemption or dark passions of interracist orgasmic rapture, a kind of Afro-pagan sexualization of spirituality. For this reason, Negro muscle is both the most spiritualized and sensualized thing in pop culture. One part of liberal mythologizing would have us believe that no matter how muscular a Negro is, he has nothing on his mind but goodness and nobility and higher truth. So, even the most muscular and mega-penis-sized Negro never has fantasies of humping lots of ho’s, especially white women. It’s as if they’re imbued with childlike hearts of angels. Their mountain of muscles isn’t to kick the white boy’s ass or to hump the white woman’s pooter but to nobly serve as an altar for the salvation for white folks whose souls have been tainted by the sin of slavery and Jimmy Crow. Thus, via such mythologization, whites feel especially indebted to the Negro as the forgiving savior, the neo-messiah, who has thawed out their frozen souls from the moral ice age known as ‘racism’. If KING KONG was about the black man as horny and aggressive mothafuc*a, SON OF KONG was about the Noble Negro who sacrifices his life for the sake of whites. It ends with Son of Kong drowning in the ocean but still holding aloft white folks in its hand to spare them from drowning. This mythic narrative of de-sexualization and spiritualization of Negro muscle was necessary to allay white fears of black thuggery in order to push the leftist agenda of ‘racial equality’. Jack Johnson pissed off a lot of white people and rightfully so. Johnson’s message was, "I, a black man, belong to the superior race that can whup you slow, flabby, and faggoty white boys. And as I done whup your white ass, look how all them white women be flocking to me, a black man, a REAL man." In a way, Jack Johnson was good for white power since he woke up white folks to the reality of racial differences and the black threat to white manhood. Joe Louis was far more dangerous to whites. For one thing, he was promoted as ‘brown’ than ‘black’. Also, he put forth a Noble Negro personality. So, even though he whupped white boys just as mercilessly as Jack Johnson had done, he acted like it was all just an accident and he didn’t mean to do it. It was like he got into the ring to be friends with whites, but them clumsy white boys just walked into his fists, and there was nothing Joe could do about it. He didn’t mean to hurt nobody. They just be bumping into him the wrong way. He really be just a friendly teddy bear, rather like Mighty Joe Young the Magic Gorilla. Because of Joe Louis’s niceness, even white guys who hated ‘niggers’ got to liking him somewhat. Joe Louis was handled by Jews, just like Obama is today. In a way, Jews prolonged Joe Louis’s long run and used his ‘positive’ image to undermine white resistance to black muscle power. Though Joe Louis was indeed one of the all-time great boxers, his record was over-extended because Jews rigged the system so that Joe could duck most black boxers.
Of course, Jews loved the fact that their Negro was whupping all the white boys. Jews, who’d always felt intimidated by big Polacks and the like, loved the sight of their Negro toy whupping white boy goyim. But Jews also valued Joe Louis because they could have the cake and eat it too. If Jews supported a black-skinned thug who acted like Jack Johnson, whites would grow angry and get riled up at blacks and Jews. Thus, Joe Louis was an ideal tool for the Jews. Louis kicked white butt, but after the fights he smiled and acted so nice to make whites feel at ease. Same thing with Obama. Jews use Obama to whup white boys, but Obama smiles a lot and acts so nice, and so, whites think, uh goshy, it’s an honor to be whupped by him, the Brown Obomber. Whites are so stupid, which is why Jews run circles around them. But if one side of blackness has been de-sexualized and spiritualized — most notably in movies like GREEN MILE — , another side has been sexualized to the nth degree. This too is a kind of spiritualization but of a animal-pagan than transcendental kind. Tribal folks admired lions, bears, and other big animals because the power of such beasts seemed beyond that of the human. Similarly, there is that kind of appeal to black muscle among white liberals. There is the idea that blacks can sing so loud that it can set off massive ear orgasms or eargasms among whites. Or blacks can play sports so well that even white boys wanna put on cheerleader uniforms and shake their ass in worship of Negro muscle; indeed, many white male spectators gush about their black hero athletes as if they wanna be rammed in the ass by black dicks. And there’s the notion that a massive-muscled and massive-donged Negro can give a white woman an orgasm beyond anything what she can get from a white dork. Thus, even the sensual/sexual power of the Negro gains something of mythic power. And Jews push both the spiritual notion of the Negro and the sexual notion of the Negro. Whites are made to feel guilty for suspecting that Negroes could even think of raping a white woman. According to this narrative, every Negro who was lynched for rape was innocent because Negroes, having such pure innocent hearts, would never even dream of hurting, raping, or even thinking of having sex with a white woman. But the other narrative says Negroes are the biggest warriors-sexual-conquerors of the world, and this is a great thing because it turns flabby white boys into happy girlish cheerleaders and turns white women onto super studs who can give them orgasmagedden. Now, it should be obvious to anyone with brains that the two narratives are contradictory, but cognitive dissonance is a part of human nature? Most people are incapable of connecting the dots or simply don’t want to — consider how Mao Zedong and Che Guevara have been turned into capitalist trinkets in new China and Hollywood. Just like some conservatives are foolish enough to believe in both Creation and Evolution, many liberals are foolish enough to accept both the de-sexualized spiritual Negro and the super-sexualized animal Negro. Both are useful to the Jews. For mass consumers addicted to thrills and orgasms, the Animal Negro is marketable as super-athletes, funky singers, and big-dic*ed porn actors. Jews rake in billions by marketing such Negroes. But the problem of the Animal Negro is the implication that he can kick the white boy’s ass and rape(or jungle-feverize) the white woman. So, Jews need to relieve whites of such fears and fill white hearts with feelings of guilt for even suspecting that blacks could be so dangerous and threatening. So, there is the de-sexualized Negro who acts ‘spiritual’: TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, Oprah fever, the mountain-sized Negro who wuvs a wittle white mouse in GREEN MILE, Morgan Freeman’s Kindly Old Negro act. Whites are allowed to feel ONLY excitement and joy in relation to the Animal Negro, because the moment alarm bells go off about the potential threat posed by the Animal Negro, the Magic Negro trope kicks into gear inside the white mind to melt away the fears and water the seeds of ‘white guilt’. It’s like making people see only the fun and exciting aspects of big bears or lions without their taking notice of the dangerous sides of such animals. This is why current racial relations are so dangerous for whites. Whites are allowed to cheer the black man as the superior athlete but not allowed to consider the implications of black superiority in muscle power and aggression: pussification of white male in relation to Negroes. Of course, Jews have allies among white goyim, most notably Ken Burns, a maggoty and schmorky white boy. So, even though Jack Johnson was a thug and human ape, Burn’s documentary — based on a book written by another white schmork liberal — would have white boys feel nothing but admiration and sympathy for Johnson. That Johnson and blacks in his time were treated as second class people, there is no question. But for anyone with sense, the story of Jack Johnson should amply indicate why whites were, to a large extent, justified in keeping the black man down. Whites and blacks are not biologically equal. Blacks are stronger and more aggressive. If you let blacks loose, they kick white ass, and indeed, white liberals are often the first to flee the onslaught of black crime and thuggery(or use zoning laws and gentric cleansing to drive urban blacks to other areas). But Jews don’t want white folks to be thinking honestly about all such issues as it will lead to white rage and call for white unity and power. And too many white males are too bland, dull, and white-bread to feel anything like real passion — except for, in their role as attack dogs of Jews, hounding and barking at white ‘racists’ and ‘homophobes’.

In a way, the relative passionlessness of Anglo-Americans was a great advantage for this country. If Anglo-Americans who founded this nation had been ‘passionate’ and hotheaded like Italian-Americans in MEAN STREETS or GOODFELLAS, America would have turned into one giant Sicily. Or, it would have ended up like rotten modern Greece. It was because Anglo-Americans were capable of being cool-headed, rational, and reformist(relative to the rest of the world, of course) that American made great social and moral progress. And the story would have been a happy one if indeed the only difference between whites and blacks was skin color. Imagine if Anglo-Americans had brought over tan-skinned Asian-Indians to be slaves. Over time, whites would have freed them, and the two sides might have come to terms. There would have been no reason for whites to fear Asian-Indians because the latter, though dark-skinned, are no bigger or tougher than whites. But black Africans had evolved into thug-machines over 100,000s of yrs in hot and dangerous Africa. No amount of goodwill on the part of well-meaning whites could turn blacks into anything but a bunch of childish gorillian thugs. It’s good to be well-meaning, but there is a limit to do-goodery. Consider the character played by Tom Conti in MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE. He really tries to be fair to all sides but it’s to no avail against militarist ‘Japs’ who are really nuts; the only way to deal with ‘Japs’ is to defeat them.
Of course, what Jews have done with blacks, they’ve done with themselves as well. So, we are allowed to have only positive impressions of Jews but all negative impressions are forbidden. So, Jews tell us that Jewish intellect has brought forth many wonderful medicines and innovations. But we are not supposed to think of how clever Jews have used their superior minds to fool, manipulate, and cheat white Americans. Jews have also twisted our understanding of racial sciences to make us feel/believe that theories of race were never anything but pseudo-science. For example, the dominant image of racial science is that of some German scientist in the 19th century or first half of 20th century toying around with skull-measuring instruments. Now, it goes without saying that there was much bunk in past racial science — indeed, many theories in all scientific fields were eventually proven false and seem funny to us today — , but Jews would have us believe that racial science was nothing but a bunch of cranks measuring skulls. So, the impression is that Nazism killed a lot of Jews because of silly skull-measuring instruments. While it’s true that the vicious and stupid Nazis came up with some of the dumbest racial ideas, the main reason for Nazi antisemitism had little to with the skull-shapes of Jews. If anything, it served as a convenient post-facto pseudo-scientific explanation to rationalize Nazi anti-Jewish policies that originated from other causes. Of course, many Nazis literally believed in the ‘science’ of their ideology, but the real roots of Nazi animosity toward Jews lay elsewhere. Nazis were offended by Jewish money-grubbing, Jewish cultural decadence, Jewish power in finance, superior Jewish intelligence with which Jews were taking control of Germany, Jewish involvement in communism, and etc. Nazis resented Jewish power and Jewish influence, which were real, and they were real because of Jewish talent and intelligence. But Nazis, filled with arrogance, couldn’t admit that Jews were smarter, and so, they relied on the bullshit ‘science’ about race that they concocted. If skull size was truly paramount, neither Hitler nor Himmler should have been allowed to rule Germany since they hardly had the ideal skulls. Indeed, there were many ‘Aryans’ in the Nazi system with hook-noses and Jewish features, but it didn’t matter as they were officially ‘Aryan’ and served the Nazis against the Jews; in contrast, even Jews who didn’t ‘look Jewish’ were targeted by the Nazis. My point isn’t to deny the real power of the crazy Nazi ideology but, rather, to argue that the real emotional roots of Nazi ideology lay in the real differences between Jews and Germans than in some fanciful notion of skull shapes. In other words, the Nazi hatred of Jews didn’t begin with skull shapes and then move toward issues of Jewish power but began with issues of Jewish power and then grabbed onto skull-sciences as a convenient way to ‘scientifically’ justify Nazi policies against Jews. If Jews weren’t so powerful and influential in so many negative ways, most Germans never would have bothered with the skull-shapes of Jews. Nazis settled on the wrong science, but their negative obsession with Jews had a valid basis in the fact that so many Jews were using their power to undermine the German nation, people, and culture. But Jewish revision of history reversed things so that we are to assume that Hitler and others came to be anti-Jewish because they’d stumbled on some bogus science about skull shapes. Such narrative implies that National Socialism was cuckoo bananas from day one and had no legitimate basis whatsoever in its obsession with Jews. In truth, Hitler and his cohorts had every reason to be obsessed with Jewish power since it was so powerful and harmful to the German nation. Where they erred was in settling for a bogus racial science to explain the nature of the Jew. By fixating on the image of the German ‘scientist’ measuring skulls, Jews distract us from the more important truth of the reality of Jewish power and influence. Thus, we are made to believe that Jews weren’t particularly powerful or influential in Europe the first half of the 20th century but were merely the victims of madmen who got to measuring skull shapes. In truth, many scientists became interested in the Jewish brain because Jews were gaining so much power so rapidly in the late 19th century and early 20th century. While much of the racial science proved to be bunk — but then, most of the anti-race-ist theories of people like Franz Boas also turned out to be bunk — , it made sense to be ‘obsessed’ with the Jewish mind since Jewish power was affecting so many lives, especially in Russia and Ukraine where Jewish power worked with Stalin to destroy so much culture and so many lives. Consider America today. Which people should we be paying more attention to? Eskimos or Jews? Now, I’m sure that Eskimos are an interesting people with a fascinating culture and folklore. And there’s something of value to be gained by studying any culture/people. But Eskimos have no power in America, no power over our lives. What Eskimos think doesn’t matter since Eskimos don’t control elite colleges, elite financial institutions, Hollywood, law firms, law courts, politician-whores, and etc. Jews do that. So, it would be natural, healthy, and normal for us to be ‘obsessed’ with Jewish power, and it would make sense for us to wonder about the nature of the Jewish Mind that has enabled Jews to gain so much power. Now, the Nazis went the wrong path by choosing the wrong ‘science’, but race-ism doesn’t have to be radical or nonsensical. We can choose rational race-ism as opposed to radical race-ism — ‘race-ism’ in this case meaning race + ism = belief in existence of races and racial differences, and the need for racial consciousness. For those who say "race doesn’t exist", how can they explain the truth of evolution when a species cannot overnight evolve into different species? One species can evolve into another species only by first evolving into another race of itself. If race isn’t a scientific fact, then evolution is impossible. Jews are never to be trusted for they are never honest with us goyim. Behind closed doors, Jews do speak honestly and candidly about all sorts of issues amongst themselves, but Jews will never speak honestly with us filthy goyim. It’s the Jewish way. When Jews didn’t have the Power, it didn’t matter what Jews were saying amongst themselves behind closed doors, just as it doesn’t matter what Greek-Americans, Palestinian-Americans, or Burmese-Americans may be saying amongst themselves since they don’t have much power in America. For those without the Power, tribal talk behind-closed-doors concerns only the tribe itself. But today, the secretive Jewish talks that take place behind-closed-doors aren’t just about Jews but about all of us. Jews are talking about how to pull the strings in the institutions they control to maximize their own power at the expense of gentiles, especially white gentiles. When Wasps had the Power, they too spoke candidly amongst themselves about how to keep the power. This was why so many Wasp country clubs kept non-Anglos out. They were walled bastions behind which Wasps discussed matters concerning their power. But as Wasps-with-Power, they felt pressure from the outside — especially Jews — and from the inside(their own social-reformist conscience) to stop using secretive and exclusive means to hold the power. Wasps were forced to open up the elite bastions of power and privilege. Wasps were pressured to change their exclusive ways not only on the outside but on the inside. Today, things have gotten so that even in private meetings amongst themselves, Wasps are amongst the most politically correct clods in the world. They feel they must obey Politically Correct Commands 24/7, even in their dreams. In contrast, Jews today have the Real Power, but they still operate in the tribal behind-closed-doors mode. (Look what the Jewish-run Wall Street banks have been able to get away with.) They still get together to discuss Jewish matters and Jewish issues without the rest of us knowing, and if we dare challenge them, we are accused of harboring the age-old ‘canard’ about ‘Jewish conspiracies’; it’s the canards-in-the-gold-mine strategy, i.e. if you call out on the all the gold that the Jews are hoarding for themselves, you are accused of twitting nasty ‘canards’ about Jewish power that is just a figment of the imagination of incorrigible ‘anti-Semites’. The Jewish canard about ‘antisemitic canards’ is the biggest canard in today’s world. And Jews don’t conspire and secretly merely to discuss things to find better ways to maintain their own community and culture but to find ways to change other communities and other cultures so as to bring them under the heel of Jewish power. Jews penetrate into other ethno-communal and spiritual spheres(Jews even demand that the Catholic Churches reverse its 1000+ yrs of tradition and customs to appease the homo lobby), but the Jewish sphere is shut off to others, and anyone who dares to speak truth to Jewish power is given the Rick Sanchez treatment. Also, Jews act like they know what’s ‘best’ for goy communities and feel they have the right to ‘advise’ goy communities on how to manage their own affairs, but if goyim were to act likewise toward Jews, Jews would be infuriated by the very idea of a goy who thinks he knows better than the Jews what is good for the Jews. Jews insist on minding their own affairs, but they think they have the right to stick their hook-noses into the affairs of others. (Chuck Hagel said some honest things about Jewish power and Israel in the past, but for him to be confirmed by the Senate, he had to agree to prostration and castration. The message is clear. If you speak truth to Jewish power, you are fired and blacklisted. If you have any hope of being rehabilitated, you must get all weepy-eyed, tuck your tail between your legs, and agree to be neutered like a dog and lobotomized like Randall McMurphy in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. The Senate confirmation hearing was especially pitiful to watch as he biggest attack dogs against Hagel were Republican Senators who’d long ago submitted to being neutered by Jews. That is the reality of Republican politics. It’s politicians who already castrated by Jews barking at the odd Republican dog who’s yet to be castrated. But Jews work with both carrots and sticks. For Hagel to attain the carrot, he had to agree to castration, and the castrated Republican dogs administered the ritual emasculation during which Hagel looked all sappy, weepy-eyed, and afraid and utterly surrendered himself to the scalpel. In a way, it was the paradoxical phenomenon of the mock-courage of cowards against the truly courageous. In most systems, most people submit while a few resist the orthodoxy and status quo. If everyone submits equally, no one feels like a coward since cowardice is the norm. But if someone refuses to submit, he demonstrates the possibility of real courage against the system. Now, while it’s natural for the system to try to crush him, it’s surprising that those oppressed by the system may want also him to be crushed. This may seem odd since he is opposing/resisting the system that is oppressing them, but then, he also sticks out as the evidence of their own cowardice. When everyone is a coward, cowardice is the social and moral norm. But if someone stands up and resists the system, the prevailing cowardice is exposed for what it is. Thus, everyone feels lesser than before. People come to envy the courage of the rebel, and this was one of the reasons why so many people wanted Jesus to be killed; His courage shined the light on their collective cowardice. Most Republican politicians are whores and cowards before the Jewish power, but if everyone is a whore, his cowardice becomes invisible as the social norm. But if one politician refuses to go along, their cowardice is exposed for what it is. So, cowards sometimes show ‘courage’ only against the courageous. It’s collective ‘courage’ to quell true courage that exposes their collective cowardice. This is also why guys like John McCain, a totally castrated tool of Zionists, bark so loudly at Vladimir Putin. Putin, who stood up to the Jewish oligarchs in Russia, showed a way by which a proud goy man could stand up for his people, culture, and nation. His example exposes the utter cowardice and total prostitution of McCain and his ilk. But no one wants to admit that he’s a coward, and so, the likes of McCain have been playing the tough guy and howling at Putin, when, in fact, they are nothing but cowardly attack dogs groveling before their masters, the Jews. I suspect much of right-wing fury at Anders Breivik and the Tsarnaev brothers had something to do with the cowardly inadequacy and envy among most right-wingers who talk the talk but are too afraid to walk the walk. They do nothing but bitch and whine while their world is being totally transformed by Jews and gays, and so, when tough guys come along and do something really daring and outrageous, they make a big fuss about how they are ‘decent’ right-wingers so different from the ‘murderous’ kind. But is decency of any use in war? Blacks see race relations in terms of war and never apologize for their riots, rapes, robberies, and lootings. Jews are in war-mode and gloat over the death of the white race, celebrate the horrible murder of Eugene Terreblanche, and cheer the mass bombing of Gaza that have killed scores of women and children; madwoman Madeline Albright even starved 100,000s of Iraqi women and children through the regimen of sanctions — like her tribesman Lazar Kaganovich did with Ukrainians in the 1930s — and then said it was ‘worth it’. Hillary Clinton supported the mass bombing of Libya and cackled like a mad hen when she heard of the torture and lynching death of Gaddaffi. During WWII, what was so decent about the mass carpet bombing of Dresden and Tokyo? And didn’t US use torture to obtain information that finally led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden? ‘Decency’ is a dirty word during wartime. If the white right really think it’s caught in a state of war with the globalist powers-that-be, there is no decent way to fight. There is only the ‘Jewish way’ and the counter-Jewish way. Do you see Jews apologizing for all the horrors they committed?) So, Jews have taken over black politics via control of NAACP and Obama; Jews have taken over the GOP with the Neocon putsch; Jews have taken over the Hispanic community by controlling Spanish-language TV channels and funding Hispanic politicians. But, Jewish sanctums of power are sacrosanct and cannot be entered by anyone but Jews. It’s permissible for Jews to gather together as Jews to discuss matters pertaining to themselves(and what they need to do to maximize their power over the nation and the world), but imagine if Wasps did the same for their own interests. Jews would attack Wasps as ‘exclusive’ and ‘racist’. (Indeed, even a dinky American Renaissance has to find some secluded little spot in the woods to hold a tiny conference over a few days.) So, non-Jews have to cater to Jews, but Jews only serve themselves. It’s like Israel can have an exclusive immigration policy, but white nations cannot.
Indeed, consider the demented Jewish interpretation of the Holocaust. The true meaning of the Holocaust should be that ANY people could be driven to commit such horrors(if led by a demagogue during times of extreme duress) and ANY people could be victims of such horrors. The true lesson of the Holocaust should be that Jews too could have carried out something like the holocaust and Germans too could have been the victims of a holocaust. After all, if the great lesson to be learned from the Holocaust is the ‘radical evil’ of blaming one people(Jews in the case of Hitler) for all the ills in the world while crediting another people(‘Aryans’ according to National Socialism) with all the wonders of human achievement, then it follows that no people should be lionized over others and no people should be vilified forever. Yet, the Holocaust cult has turned Jews into the new ‘Aryans’, a kind of morally supreme race, while turning Germans — and by extension all white gentiles — into the new ‘Jews’ who are to serve as scapegoats for all evils in the world. Jews have eternalized Holocaust as a strictly Jewish tragedy. While the Holocaust of WWII was indeed essentially a Jewish tragedy, the bigger LESSON of the Holocaust should be that ANY people are capable of evil. If the Holocaust teaches us not to favor one race over another, then it follows that all races are capable of doing good and doing bad; if the lesson of the Holocaust teaches us to see Jews as fellow humans like the rest of us, it means they can be good like the rest of us but also bad like the rest of us. In truth, Jews could have committed something like the holocaust(under a convergence of certain dangerous circumstances) — and Germans most surely would not have carried out the Holocaust if the Great Depression didn’t push 1/3 of Germans to vote in desperation for Hitler, who then, against the will of most Germans, undermined rule of law to consolidate all the power in his hands(just like Jews have pretty much taken control of just about all the powerful institutions in America) and then brought about WWII, something most Germans didn’t want — and indeed there are plenty of Jews in Israel who talk just like Hitler in regard to Palestinians and gentiles; also, just listen to the rhetoric of Jews in American and Europe as they foresee a future where white people will be reduced to becoming mixed-race minorities in their own traditional homelands; their tone is poisonous, sadistic, and murderous, as if Jews are celebrating the total defeat and subjugation of the white race; there was once a time when Jews peacefully promoted ‘diversity’ as something that will benefit us all; but now, we know it was all a ruse, because, as the total demographic defeat of the white race looms over the horizon, Jewish vengefulness has finally come out of the closet, and its virulent hatred of white gentiles is undeniable; the seething vampirical vehemence is palpable beyond belief. Their Jewish arrogance and hatred sound hardly different from Hitler’s invective in MEIN KAMPF. And, in a way, Jews committed their holocaust in the form of the Bolshocaust. Before Hitler ordered the mass killing of Jews, Jewish communists worked with Stalin to kill millions of ‘class enemies’ in the Soviet Union, and most of the victims were Slavic Christians. The Bolshocaust was also something of a rural-cide or rurocide. In order to build big industry and favor urban areas over the ‘reactionary’ countryside, venomous Jewish communists conceived of a grand scheme to rob the countryside of its food and freedom. And today in America, urban Jews are waging a war against white suburbs, small towns, and rural communities. They take from the white middle class to fatten the elite Jewish class in Wall Street. It’s the Jewish way. And if Henry Morgenthau had gotten his way, there would have been a massive holocaust of the Germans right after WWII. Morgenthau wanted to remove all heavy industry from Germany and force all Germans to be farmers. Given the German population, there was no way a purely agricultural system could have sustained all those tens of millions of Germans, many of whom would have starved in the process, and that is just what the vengeful Morgenthau wanted. In his hatred of Germans, he wanted to punish not only Germans guilty of Nazi crimes but all Germans, men, women, and children. Throughout history, Jews have carried out numerous holocausts against other tribes. Though the unique suffering of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust is undeniable, the universal lesson of the Holocaust should be that a people so cocksure of their superiority, rightness, and destiny are capable of committing horrible acts against a people deemed permanently evil or inferior. The great irony of the Jewish Way after WWII is that Jews have become the new racial supremacists premised on the notion that Jews are naturally more moral and nobler than others. Even though the official Jewish line is ‘anti-racist’, Jewish policies in Israel and America are marked by Jewish Supremacism, Jewish Exceptionalism, Jewish Unique-ism, and Jewish Self-Justification-ism. Jews have twisted the history of the 20th century so that Jews are always victims and morally noble while even the slightest critics of Jewish culture and community is some ‘odious’, ‘noxious’, and ‘toxic’ ‘anti-Semite’ or ‘crypto-Nazi’. Jews are never ever to be criticized, but Jews have the right to attack and demean anyone, even the mildest critics of Jewish power. We mustn’t speak of Jews as the octopus taking over the world or Jews as hairy cretins lusting after white women, but Jewish media give us the Chinese Dragon taking over the world and the Muslim apes abducting and raping white women in movies like TAKEN — and liberals who bitch about BIRTH OF A NATION and THE SEARCHER as ‘racist’ seem to have no problem with Jewish scapegoating of Muslims and Chinese in movies like RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and the remake of RED DAWN, which, though ostensibly about North Koreans invading America, is really about Yellow-Chinese-Peril. Israel can have hundreds of illegal nukes, and that’s no problem. But at the behest of Zionists, US rattles its saber against Iran that has no nukes. South Africa got hell for its apartheid policies though whites were outnumbered by savage blacks, but Israel has received nothing but blessing from Americans even though what Jews did to the Palestinians have been many times worse than whites did to blacks in South Africa — and Jews benefitted more from white privilege in South African than white gentiles did and even though Israel had very close ties with ‘bad old’ apartheid South Africa. White South Africans kept blacks apart but still living in the same nation, whereas Jews created Israel by committing wholesale ethnic cleansing against Palestinians. And even though Jews whose ancestors left the Middle East thousands of years ago can return to Israel anytime they choose, Palestinians who still remember their homes in Palestine are not allowed to return. Jews in Wall Street can sink the world economy and loot us even more through Obama’s ‘bailouts’, but they don’t go to jail, but instead, reap more power, privilege, and wealth. Jews are the new Nazis, and the lesson of the Holocaust should be that any people can be Nazi-like. Jews are indeed pushing what is a gradual democide of the white race in the West. Jews don’t use death camps. Instead, they push open borders in a ‘camp-of-saints’ strategy so that whites will be drowned in a sea of non-white ‘diversity’, and then, Jews will be able to play ‘divide and rule’ and use the less intelligent gentile hordes — brainwashed with Jew-worship — to serve the Jews. Jews have used the Holocaust to spin the fantasy that Jews are morally superior by the simple virtue of being Jewish. Things have gotten so ridiculous that if Jews were to wipe out all the Palestinians tomorrow, many Americans would say Jews were justified because Palestinians are ‘evil Nazis’. Even Jewish offense will be justified as Jewish defense. If a Jew kills you, he will be exonerated for defending himself from you even if you intended no harm against him. So, even if Jews act like Nazis, they are forever the innocent victims while the victims of Jews are deemed as ‘Nazis’ who deserved to be destroyed. Current Jewish Ideology is something like Tribal Moral Supremacism. True morality is a matter of individual conscience within a mutually agreed-upon set of universal standards, but Tribal Moral Supremacism of the Jews have sanctified every Jew — no matter how decrepit and foul — as the holiest person simply because his or her tribal brethren suffered in the Holocaust during WWII. It’s no wonder that Roman Polanski has been allowed to live out the rest of his life in fame and fortune even though he’s a fugitive from the law. It’s no wonder that Marc Rich got pardoned by Bill Clinton. It’s no wonder that Wall Street Jews who sunk the economy by fleecing all of us got rewarded with massive ‘bail-outs’ engineered by fellow Jews brought into the Bush and Obama administrations that were really nothing but shills of globalist Jewish power. Imagine if Chinese said they are forever morally superior because they suffered the humiliation of Western imperialism and horrors of Japanese invasion. Imagine if Muslims said they are forever morally superior because they suffered from the murderous invasion of the Crusades. Jews don’t have to be moral anymore since they are protected by Tribal Moral Supremacy. So, it doesn’t matter how vain, snide, arrogant, repulsive, repugnant, narcissistic, and privileged a Jew or Jewess is. By the virtue of being a member of the Holocaust Tribe, he or she is morally superior to other peoples, and NO ONE better criticize his or her Jewish power and privilege. And Jewish Tribal Moral Supremacism is far more dangerous than Nazi Racial Supremacism. Though Nazis were vile, they simply couldn’t shut up about how great and superior they were. They were shouting, "we are a bunch of insufferable arrogant assholes" 24/7. So, people could see the Nazis for what they were: supremacist bullies. Jews, in contrast, pull every trick in the book to maintain their supreme power but don’t want anyone to notice or talk about it. When Joel Stein wrote a piece about how Jews own Hollywood, he was soon removed from the MSM. And Rick Sanchez got blacklisted ever since he spoke of Jewish power and privilege in the media. So, Jews seek and accumulate supremacist powers but want us to see them as powerless victims for all eternity in need of our compassion and protection. At the very least, Nazis were honest in their arrogant vileness whereas Jews are utterly devious. Tribal Moral Supremacism of the Jews, though officially practiced in the name of combating ‘racism’, is a form of radical racism. By defining Jewish morality on the basis of an historical event, it doesn’t require individual Jews to be moral. Instead, the assumption is that all Jews sare born morally superior since they are the Holocaust People. And it doesn’t matter if Israel has hundreds of illegal nukes and is trying to push Americans into a war against Iran that has no nukes. Since Jews Know Best, Jews are right even when they are wrong. Instead of remembering the Holocaust as a lesson about how a people so cocksure of their supremacy could commit horrors against others, Jews have twisted the lesson so that Jews are to be seen as permanent saintly victims since the beginning of time to the end of time. And Germans — and other whites especially of Northern European stock by the guilt of racial association — are to be seen as permanently guilty. It’s no wonder that we have movies like GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Even though there is no Nazi power in Sweden, a nation controlled by globalist Zionists and filling up fast with African thugs and degenerates, the popular narrative is evil Nordics hatching another diabolical plot. The narcissism of Jewish persecution is really a narcissism of Jewish oppression. By feeling so persecuted by evil powers, Jews have legitimized their oppression of others on the conceit that Jews are always resisting evil anti-Semites. A Jew who sees hostile forces all around him will feel justified in his hostile attitude toward the entire world. Given that Jews have higher IQ and computer technology will be the main generator of wealth in the future, Jewish hostility will gain Jews ever more power over non-Jews. Jews are 2% of US population but own 95% of the media. That is a form of oppression, especially as Jews use the media to destroy the white race. Consider a film like MUNICH by Steven Spielberg. It begins by showing Jews as victims. Jews are victims of Palestinians at the Olympics in Germany, the nation that committed the Holocaust. So, Mossad agents in the film feel justified in carrying out all sorts of terrorist acts. Of course, what is truly disingenuous about the film is the manner in which the events are framed. While it’s true that Palestinian terrorists carried out a foul deed against Israeli athletes, Palestinian terrorism was a reaction to Jewish ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. So, if we frame the film differently, Palestinian terrorism become justified. Jews will say the difference between Palestinian terrorism and Israeli terrorism is that the former target innocent people whereas Mossad agents target only the guilty. But didn’t the Irgun target innocent British people before Israel was declared? And what about Israel’s attack on all of Lebanon? And what about Israel’s massive bombing of Gaza? Jews have twisted the lesson of the Holocaust from ‘every people should be careful not to be like Nazis because any people, Jews included, could end up doing what the Nazis did’, to ‘We Jews have the right to do anything, even act like Nazis, since we are of the Morally Superior Tribe’. What’s truly disgusting about the current state of affairs is that so many people are utterly terrified of Jewish power — they know they’ll be blacklisted and disgraced as ‘anti-Semites’ if they express the slightest criticism of Jewish power — , but they masquerade their cowardly subservience to Jews as sympathy and compassion for a long suffering, ever-so-noble, and pitiable people.

Anyway, power as power is just brute force. It’s like Monster Truck Bash or Professional Wrestling. But power as mystery is endlessly tantalizing in both positive and negative ways. In the positive sense, people worship God or gods as forces that care for humanity. The story of Jesus is essentially that of a Man who was defeated by brute power of the whip and hammer but rose to great and mysterious Heavenly power. The great power as represented by the Monolith in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is beyond human understanding but appears to be ‘sympathetic’ toward life on earth by steering its evolution to higher stages. Science fiction invests technology with the mystery of power because future science/technology could be so far advanced. Generally, when the science/technology isn’t so outlandish in science fiction, it is more a work of satire than sci-fi in its true genre-istic sense. For example, the technology in FAHRENHEIT 451 isn’t outlandish, and the story is really little more than 1984 for juveniles. But MARTIAN CHRONICLES certainly has a mythic element in its mysterious conception of higher power; the Martians are said to have physically died out, but they seem to live on in a kind of alternate ‘spiritual’ universe owing to their power of telepathy and communication with parallel realities. And consider the mythological overtones of INCEPTION. It even has a character named after Ariadne, the figure associated with Theseus and mazes. (Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s ZERO DARK THIRTY has an Ariadne-like figure in the character of ‘Maya’. Like Ariadne, Maya is a mapper and seeker through the mazes, and the mystery of Osama Bin Laden consumes every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year of her life. It becomes her mission, her calling, her quest, and her religion. Osama seems to be both nowhere and everywhere, physically and psychologically. He could be anywhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan or some other place. Or he could already be dead. He is certainly inside Maya’s mind, even her soul, at all times, and she’s trying to get inside his mind/soul — and those of his associates, direct and indirect — for clues as to his strategy for survival. Though a political/historical film, there is an element of mythology in Maya’s ‘archaeological’ search for Osama. So, it is both a triumph and a tragedy when Osama is finally hunted down and terminated. It’s not tragic for the sake of Osama, a creepy mass-killing terrorist Muslim radical, a kind of Che Guevara of the Middle East. Rather, it’s almost as if Maya has killed her god — albeit a dark one — with the success of the mission made possible by her theories.
Bigelow and Boal began the project when Osama was still alive, when they probably thought he might never be captured or killed by Americans or might have even died yrs ago in secret. So, in the original concept of the film, the hunt for Osama probably had more mythological overtones — the search for the black god of terror who could be anywhere, nowhere. When Bigelow embarked on the project, Osama was more myth than man. Everyone had his or her idea of where he might be, whether he was still alive or had died some time ago of disease or US bombing. But once Osama was found and killed, the story went from myth to fact, and even though the fact of Osama’s killing finally brought some closure to the tragedy of 9/11, it also ended the myth of Osama as a black god. Thus, it’s only natural that Maya identification of Osama’s body is anticlimactic. When he was alive and hidden, he was a myth, and she was on a mythic quest to do battle with the evil god. She was the young secular ‘feminist’ angel of vengeance against the ‘evil’ god of patriarchy and reaction. Vengeance used to be with the old God, but now, it’s with the young woman. But as a corpse on a table, Osama is just a piece of dead meat. And Maya’s life had ‘spiritually’ been so committed to the hunt for Osama that once it’s over, it’s like she killed her own religion. She played a key role in the killing of the black god, but he was still a god of a sort. In the final scene, she has the entire military aircraft all to herself. She is special and given VIP treatment. But she is also alone and empty. Osama, her dark ‘spiritual’ companion as a specter haunting the world, is no more. Even anti-worship is a form of worship. He was her raison d’etre or religion d’etre. Furthermore, as a CIA agent, her identity can’t be divulged, so it’s a lonely victory. Evil as Osama may have been, he was one of the last great Third World bogeymen whose reach and aura seemed unconquerable by the West with all its advanced weaponry and technology. He seemed a worthy foe, bigger than life, bigger than the world, bigger than history. And indeed, had he died mysteriously, a cult of personality may have grown around him. But he was hunted and killed by Americans, and Americans disposed of his body quickly and unceremoniously — unlike with Che Guevara — so that it’s nearly impossible for a myth to grow around him. Osama turned out to be no Geronimo, who did indeed become larger-than-life and the stuff of eternal myth. A similar film to ZERO DARK THIRTY is THE HUNTER where Willem Dafoe’s character is on an illegal expedition to hunt and kill what may be the last Tasmanian tiger alive. To be sure, there is a significant difference in that Maya is on a moral mission against a mass killer whereas Dafoe’s character is involved in a morally dubious operation for money. But the two films have in common the idea of the hunt for a mythic figure/creature, possibly the last of its kind, in a world where there is no clear sense of good and evil; though Americans in ZERO DARK THIRTY are the ‘good guys’, they use torture against ‘enemy combatants’, and sometimes, we wonder if Maya is acting in the name of justice, personal vengeance, or pride/thrill of the game. If Maya is a good person who finds herself doing morally dubious things in the fight against ‘evil’, Dafoe’s character is an amoral/cynical character who senses a dawn of moral conscience. When the Tasmanian tiger is finally tracked and hunted, a great sense of emptiness comes over Dafoe’s character; but, it is also an act of mercy for his reason for killing the ‘tiger’ had changed over the course of his adventures in the forest. He initially arrived to kill the ‘tiger’ for money, but in the end, he kills it so that no one, especially in a world as corrupt as ours, could own any part of it. He kills the last of the mythic beast, and in that sense, it’s the death of myth, but the nobility of his reason imbues the killing with a mythic element, turning it into something like a sacred ritual. In the psychological realm, the why matters as much as the what. All said and done, Dafoe did kill the ‘tiger’ as he’d originally set out to do, but the shift in his perspective changes the killing from an immoral to a moral act even though, in the most literal sense, killing is killing. It’s like the Maori rebel in UTU is killed in the end, but the reason and manner in which he is killed changes the meaning of his death and thus of his life. Things have mythic quality when they’re out of your grasp, but once in your grasp, they soon become yesterday’s paper. Consider the expression on Benjamin Braddock’s face after he pulls off the impossible and runs off with Elaine Robinson. He begins to feel ‘now what?’ It’s as if Braddock graduates twice in the movie. First, we see him returning home after graduating from college and then being clueless or disaffected about the future. Later, winning Elaine’s heart becomes the great goal of his life, and he manages to ‘graduate’ with honors in Wife Snatching 401, but, once again, he feels the return of that feeling of emptiness. The character of Ariadne in INCEPTION doesn’t have Maya’s problem. Maya pursued a myth in the real world until the myth was rendered into reality that could finally be hunted and vanquished off the face of the earth. Maya the myth-hunter destroyed the myth that gave her life meaning. When cops hunt down some low-life killer, it’s just a job well done. But when someone like Maya hunts down a larger-than-life figure, the world grows so much smaller. It’s like the suave gangster in THE FRENCH CONNECTION; we want Popeye Doyle to catch or kill him, but another part of us is fascinated with the impossibility of his capture; he seems more myth than man, and we can’t help but be fascinated with this almost supernatural side of him that always seem to elude mortal hands. It’s like Karla was the great enemy of Smiley in the John Le Carre series — the TV series as I haven’t read the books. When Smiley finally captures the great Soviet agent, he doesn’t feel a sense of triumph but rather something like emptiness, even pity, as the great nemesis of his life is now nothing more but just another broken man. There is no real victory, no more than when Willard finally kills Kurtz in APOCALYPSE NOW. In contrast, Ariadne in INCEPTION knows that the dream world into which she was initiated is limitless and inexhaustible in its mystery and potential. It is the infinite maze where no goal is the final goal, no objective is the final objective, no deed is the final deed. Though Ariadne plays a key role in finishing a mission with her fellow dream-travelers, she knows it was just the beginning and not the end.) Science fiction also dwells on the dichotomy of the ‘creator’ and the ‘dreamer’, the creator being the conscious maker/designer of things and the dreamer being the subconscious conduit of things. In some religions, God or gods are the conscious creators of the universe. In other religions, the universe is a dream of the gods(beyond the conscious will of the gods) or god are dreams of the universe. In Judaism, God is the conscious maker of the world — and it is for this reason that the Jewish God was initially physically very intolerant; if indeed He is perfect and He consciously made every drop of water, every leave of grass, and every ounce of flesh, and every breath of human soul, then everything in the world should be physically perfect, and everything should work according to His perfect design; but, things didn’t turn out to be physically perfect; the Serpent lured Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, and Adam and Eve did just that; as in Kubrick’s films, the perfect plan began to unravel, which means God maybe isn’t perfect after all; initially, God sought to repair or hide this proof of imperfection through physical means, especially by smiting a whole bunch of bad eggs, especially in the Noah story; but even after He wiped out all the wicked folks and spared only the good, the evil seed began to sprout in the hearts of men all over again, but then, the soul wasn’t exactly a physical creation but an extension of God’s own soul produced by the mixing of His breath and physical matter such as clay or soil, which may explain the volatility of the result, i.e. spirit can be pure as spirit and matter can be pure as matter — a rock is perfectly what it is, a rock — but when spirit and matter are brought together to produce life, especially one with advanced semi-godlike consciousness as is the case with humans, the fusion may be inherently unstable like radioactive material; since God could not physically restore the world to perfection, Jewish theological intolerance went from the physical to the moral; God accepted the world as physically irreparable, but maybe there was a way toward moral redemption; for this reason, God eased down on smiting a whole bunch of bad eggs and directed His focus on using the Prophets to preach and spread moral sermons amongst the Jews who were too often disobedient and acting like Jeff Goldblum in JURASSIC PARK, a smarty-pants jerk; but, eventually, God began to feel that maybe even moral path toward perfection wasn’t doable; also, maybe He really didn’t want man to be morally perfect since it might imply that man could be better than God; after all, while God carried out a lot of violent acts and even smote a whole bunch of people — even women and children — , Job was innocent and loving as a lamb; in that sense, maybe God felt morally threatened by Job’s goodness as He’d once felt physically threatened by the builders of the Tower of Babel; so, God had to drive Job crazy to commit an act of sin — daring to question God — so that Job would be exposed as not-as-good-as-he-seems, and thus, Job couldn’t be said to be morally better than God; but the impulse toward moral perfection didn’t go away in Judaism and resurfaced with the coming of Jesus who was yet another human challenge to God’s supposed moral perfection; like Job, Jesus led a perfect life of lovingness and forgiveness — according to Christianity anyway — , but if Job questioned God, Jesus accepted the pain and was made out to be the Son of God, the equal of God; thus, He was both a human challenge to God and a manifestation of the Heavenly being in human form, which is a kind of conceptual copout if you think about it; anyway, the idea that God is a perfect and perfectionist Being who consciously created every atom in the universe probably had a huge influence on the Jews, which explains why Jews have been known for their hair-splitting intellectualism and theoretics; and it might also have had a cultural impact on Northern European Protestants, which may explain why Germans, Nordics, and Anglos became so detail-oriented; but, it may have had less impact on Catholics as Catholicism is a blend of Jewish spirituality and Greco-Latin paganism; in this sense, Judaism and Protestantism, though further distanced from each other in history and geography than are Judaism and Catholicism, are more similar in their spiritual and moral essence, which may partly explain why Northern Europeans types eventually came under greater moral and cultural influence of Jews; both Judaism and Protestantism have a tradition of moral purism, whereas Catholic thinking has long been influenced by ‘impure’ elements of paganism and its more cynical understanding of power; but because of the greater element of purism — which could take any form, moral or racial or national — , the Northern European types could also be more frighteningly anti-Jewish as was the case with German National Socialism.
In Hinduism, the ‘creator’ god is really a dreamer god, Brahma. "There is a Hindustani saying calling this world the dream of life. In the Vedanta this world is called the dream of Brahma, the dream of God." According to Judaism, God made the world according to some conscious design. In contrast, according to Hinduism, the world arose organically and subconsciously from Brahma’s dream, and indeed Brahma could himself be considered a part of his own dream. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are waking religions where God and His Prophets have specific intentions for or in the world. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism are dream religions where the concept of the world is far more elusive and lack concrete forms — this may explain why Hindus tend to be more tolerant of the messiness of the world; since so many of their gods are dreamers who accept the universe as it is than are concrete doers with clear plans for a perfect world, many Hindus have a similar outlook on life; what seems like abject disgusting poverty to us is just part of the ‘way things are’ to the Hindus who believe that the universe is the creator of the gods or the dream of the gods than a conscious plan of perfect gods; things will be as they are, and there’s nothing you can do about it since the gods can’t do anything about it either; Hindus can be awful superstitious and taboo-oriented since there are so many gods to appease, but taboo-ism isn’t necessarily the same thing as perfectionism; tabooists fear what they might do wrong whereas perfectionists are mindful of what they must do right; so, a Hindu tabooists don’t mind taking a bath in the sewage-like waters of the Ganges as long as they carry out the proper ritual; a perfectionist would be more likely to notice the foulness of the water and take measures to clean it up; Hindus are like the Alec Guinness character in PASSAGE TO INDIA; they accept the world as it is and figure it’s up to the gods to sort it out in their dreams over which they have little control.

This dichotomy between ‘creation’ and ‘dream-ation’ exists in science fiction because man so often tries to consciously create the perfect system according to the perfect idea, but the result turns out to be anything but. In some cases, as in FRANKENSTEIN and David Cronenberg’s version of THE FLY, the dark hidden forces of the subconscious take over from within. Seen literally, the plan goes wrong in FRANKENSTEIN because the monster has a rotten retarded primitive brain, and it goes wrong in THE FLY because a fly entered into the switcheroo pod. But seen metaphorically, the monster and the fly are the dark subconscious of the ostensibly rational scientist. The scientist thinks he’s working according to logical formulas, but the passion that drive him is the dark will-to-power. It’s like the story of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. Rational systems hide irrational impulses, which was also the theme of DR. STRANGELOVE and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Also of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY where the HAL computer not only functions according to hyper-logic and reason but seems driven by some hidden subconscious will-to-power of the engineers who designed it.
But the hidden subconscious isn’t necessarily dark or evil. In TRON: LEGACY, there are two sides to Flynn. The conscious creator is represented by the figure of CLU, who always has a conscious plan for everything. He believes he consciously knows everything there is to know, and everything must work according to his perfect plan. But there is another side of Flynn that subconsciously ‘creates’ or dreams up whole new dimension. CLU as the conscious alter ego of Flynn is like the Jewish God whereas Flynn the subconscious dreamer is like Brahma. The difference between Judaism and Hinduism is that the Jewish God can never be surprised since He is all knowing and the world is as it is and things happen as they do because of His design and will — nevertheless, it must be said the Jewish God is often alarmed by all the things that go wrong that shouldn’t have gone wrong. In contrast, Brahma, though the locus of the ‘creative’ will of the universe, dreams the universe and thus not everything that happens is the product of his conscious will. Just as we can’t control our dreams, Brahma doesn’t have control of his dreams, and he can be surprised by what surfaces in his dream world that is the universe. This dichotomy between the conscious will and dream way is a common thread in science fiction. It’s there in INCEPTION where one is haunted by phantoms from the dream world in waking life and is ‘consciously’ conspiring plots within the dream world. It’s there in 2001: A SPACE ODSSEY where man’s conscious effort to understand the mystery of the monolith is subsumed by the monolith’s power over man’s inner-dream-world. It’s there in SOLARIS where scientists with all their theories come face to face with a ocean planet that materializes their inner dreams. (Though I’ve been an atheist all my life, my word of advice to people embrace stuff like Intelligent Design would be to look into the idea of universe as kind of dream. Intelligent Design argues that some conscious being designed the way of the cosmos, but mightn’t it be more appealing, at least to New Age flakes that the universe is a kind of a dream where the barrier between reality and unreality and between the ‘creator’ and the created are tenuous at best? Dream Design?)

What Malick attempted in TREE OF LIFE is probably crossed every artist’s mind at one time or another: namely, what is the nature of narrative itself? When and where does the story begin and when and where does it end; what is the ever-present ‘now’ in relation to the past and future? What is the here in relation to everywhere? How do everything intertwine, how is everything interconnected with everything else? Though stories help us to understand other realities and perspectives other than our own, most stories also have a way of enclosing a segment of ‘reality’ from all other realities. After all, a story is a product of narrowing of focus and filtering out all elements deemed ‘irrelevant’. So, it creates a kind of cocooned sense of reality, an artificial sense of wholeness unto itself, and this is true of how genres work. Reality doesn’t conform to any formula but stories do. So, a romance will edit out all elements unrelated to romance. Mystery will edit out all elements unrelated to mystery. Horror will focus on the supernatural and ignore all else. This is why most genre movies are, at best, useful only as oblique or allegorical representation of reality. Even ‘serious’ films that venture outside genre perimeters tend to focus on one view/aspect of reality. So, THE GODFATHER creates its own enclosed world and blocks out anything that might violate its sense of wholeness. Besides, even most serious movies maintain a consistency of tone at odds with the nature of reality that is multi-faceted. We may seek order and routine in reality, but reality is filled with accidents, randomness, haphazardness, instability, and unpredictability. (It’s like the movie UNFAITHFULLY YOURS where the main character plans a perfect formula for killing his wife and plays out the scenario in his mind with everything falling into place, but when he finally embarks on the plan, ‘reality’ totally messes it up.) There is always an element of surprise. A day can start out as comedy, turn into horror, continue as high drama, become dreary, and etc. Some European filmmakers tend to conflate dullness with reality and seem to believe that purifying cinema of colorfulness and eventfulness will make it more honest or closer to truth. But they are missing the point too, as reality is a jumble of mental and social events. Also, our experience of reality is never a simple case of reality vs genre as reality is filled with genre-ness, especially in our pop-culturally-saturated society. People don’t so much try to be real as try to be ‘hip’, ‘cool’, or ‘more evolved’, and that means conforming to the standards, ideals, role models, and attitudes disseminated and promoted by the media. Girls dress like pop stars, boys talk like TV characters, intellectuals model themselves on the personas of public intellectuals, and soldiers wanna be like the heroes they see in Hollywood movies — consider American soldiers watching the helicopter attack in APOCALYPSE NOW before invading Iraq. And many street punks model themselves on millionaire rappers, and lots of drug dealers see themselves as the new Tony Montana or Carlito Brigante. While movies pretend to reflect something of reality, much of social reality models itself on art and entertainment. One could say this of Obama. He’s not so much a real politician as a pop savvy politician playing the role of ‘clean cut Negro’ who took elements of the public myths of JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, and Bill Cosby and rolled them into a hopium joint to be smoked by the same suckers who fell for Oprah. And part of the appeal of Sarah Palin was she played the role of ‘hot bimbo with big guns and round buns’. Genre-ness or genreality has become so pervasive that many people really can no longer tell the difference between the real and the fantasy. Thus, so many people now support ‘gay marriage’ because they’ve seen how wonderful gays are on TV; and since ours is a very materialistic culture obsessed with the lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous and since many gays are very rich, gays have become the neo-aristocrats for Americans to swoon over; of course, it also helps that so many homos work in vanity industries devoted to making women look good; even conservative anti-gay women who are made over to look ‘gorgeous’ by gay stylists and fashion designers, who then profusely praise their ‘beauty’, fall under the spell of homos; female vanity knows no bounds and turns to putty before anything or anyone that makes her look delicious; if women can win the hearts of men through men’s stomachs, homos have won the hearts of women through women’s hair and dresses. But, as US also has moralistic roots in social reform and since American morality has been pop-culturalized, Americans also want to feel justified as do-gooders, and gays benefit from this too as they can pose themselves as poor poor victims of ‘odious’, ‘noxious’, and ‘toxic’ ‘homophobia’; in other words, gays, along with their main allies the Jews, can now have the cake and eat it too, enjoying more privilege and power than the rest of us yet also monopolizing moral righteousness as victims of all those ‘less evolved’ bigots who don’t see the beauty of two guys ramming each other in the fecal holes with the penis; the whole thing is a sham and a pile of shit that earlier generations with hard experience with real reality would have laughed at, but we are now living in the world of pop reality where reality is whatever Jewish controllers of media and entertainment say it is.
And even though the endemic problem of black crime doesn’t go away — and white boys continue to be raped in the ass by Negro thugs with mega penises in prison — , many white people have this image of the mountain-sized Negro unjustly behind bars who wuvs a wittle white mouse. Though MATRIX was made by liberals with the warning that we must break out of ‘our’ illusions in order to reconnect with reality, its vision of truth — a utopia where young people of all races all live in peace by smoking a lot of hashish and shaking their asses together — was just another illusion. And contrary to the BS dished out by the movie, today’s corporations are not owned by white male conservatives but by Jewish globalists, homo elites, privileged feminist bitches, liberal wasp opportunists, and such ilk, and they are the ones who’ve been pushing stuff like ‘gay marriage’ and open borders up the people’s ass. Pop or mass culture had tremendous hold on the populace throughout the 20th century, but it matters even more now. The reasons for this are several. Though cinema was the artform of the 20th century, prior to the rise of TV, people still made a distinction between movie world and real world. To step away from reality, one had to step inside a movie theater. With the rise of TV, the pop world came right into one’s living room — and with the internet and handheld devices, it’s now with us everywhere we go. It’s like Big Brother Is Texting You — and even ‘sexting’ you in the case of Anthony Wiener. Since the new technology allows easier communication and expression for just about everyone, one might expect most people to share something true about themselves; but instead, most people with vlogs on youtube just imitate celebrities, cultural stereotypes, and other such idols. Even as they present themselves, they hide their true selves and try to be like famous people in the way they look, dress, talk, and act. (Given the new reality, it’s fitting that so many nouns are being transformed into verbs such as ‘to text’ or ‘to friend’; it’s as if things are losing their individual integrity and being integrated into the larger matrix of files to be constantly shared all around the world. People are even losing their individualities as it’s now much easier to share information about oneself or have it searched, accessed, or stolen by others. In one way, Facebook could be seen as a giant con-trick to steal the identities and information of all its members in order to process them into useful data for the interests of commercialism and statism, as Facebook works closely with other corporations, to which it sells data about us, and closely with the government, with which it works to spy on us. Big Nerd Is Watching and Friending You. And the idea of ‘cloud computing’ led by Google would even transfer the control and ownership of personal files away from our individual computers to some single-giant-computer-in-the-sky owned and operated by Google, which aspires to be the one and only monotechnological god of the future. Historically, as Jews were a wandering people without a home for long stretches, they couldn’t put down permanent roots in most places, and so, they conceptually rooted themselves to the heaven world, through which all Jews of the diaspora could feel connected with God and one another. Such conceptuocentric thinking — in contrast to physiocentric thinking rooted in a specific geography — enabled Jews to ponder and explore ways of gaining power through ideas, business, and finance, and so, perhaps it comes naturally to Google Jews to devise the idea of ‘cloud computing’ where they would control everything as if they’re lords of heaven.) Similarly, especially with the rise of the walkman in the 80s, music followed you wherever you went. There had been the portable radio(with mono earpiece), but it was the walkman that revolutionized how people listened to music.
For much of the 20th century, popular culture came under pressure from the real world. All sorts of groups representing moral values pressured Hollywood, TV industry, and music industry not to go too far with sex and violence. Eventually, the New Culture resisted old moral pressures with a moral argument of its own: greater realism in language, sex, and violence was necessary in art for the audience to be presented with greater truth, and what could be of higher moral value than truth itself? Paradoxically, the push in the 60s to make movies, TV, and music more realistic — more reflective of reality — eventually made them less realistic. Initially, it produced films like FIVE EASY PIECES, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, HUSBANDS, MEAN STREETS, and FRENCH CONNECTION that were more hard-nosed, abrasive, and gritty in their details. But greater licentiousness also meant that Hollywood could exaggerate levels of violence and sex, thus making them less real. Kubrick, when directing THE SHINING, surely understood this about the blood gushing out of the elevator, an image that looks real but is hardly realistic.
And consider PULP FICTION, which is packed with all manner of graphic gore but doesn’t have a single moment that could be mistaken for realism. RAMBO is gorier and more graphic than SANDS OF IWO JIMA but also more artificial and fantastic. The freedom to be more realistic with sex and violence didn’t so much lead to more realism but more stylization of sex and violence to render them more sensationalistic. (One of the social dangers of licentiousness in sex and violence is the false impression of freedom they lend us. One might call this the ‘compensatory scatological libertine-ism’. Because traditional orders tended to censor or suppress explicit uses/expressions of epithets, sex, and violence in arts and entertainment, scatological excess came to be synonymous with demands for more freedom. After all, freedom lovers listened to Rock music and traded nudie magazines in the totalitarian Soviet Union. Social rebels listened to ‘nigger music’ that was an affront to the censorious older generation and bigoted white ‘racists’. And Jews argued pushed porn partly to challenge stuffy Christian socio-moral authority. Thus, over time, scatological expression came to be associated with speaking-truth-to-power. But what if the powers-that-be have found a way to rake in billions of dollars from an entertainment industry saturated with scatology? And what if scatology is now being used to control and manipulate the masses than to liberate them? What if scatology has the power to turn us into stupid children with infantile emotions that can easily be manipulated? What if scatologism can be used as a form of demagoguery, as on the Jerry Springer Show, Howard Stern Show, Bill Maher Show, Rush Limbaugh Show, South Park, Larry David Show, and etc.? What if it can be used to manipulate our emotions to laugh WITH certain points of view, laugh AT other points of view, cheer at certain things, jeer at other things while discouraging rational thought on our part. As vulgarized laughing, cheering, and/or jeering dummies, we are led by the pied sewer pipers who’ve been promoted by the mass media controlled by Jews. Scatologism can turn us into herd/pack animals, as on the Arsenio Hall show where people were encouraged to ‘woof’ while twirling their arms in the air. Jews used to fear such behavior when controlled by gentiles, as with National Socialists who used it to great effect with millions of Germans saluting Hitler and cheering loudly and following blindly; same kind of manipulations can still be found in North Korea and Cuba. But Jews today, as the controllers of the media, value the power of the herd instinct as an effective means to sway masses, especially the gullible and impressionable young. For example, suppose the issue of ‘gay marriage’ were put before an audience for an open and rational debate. People will give it some real thought, but then, thinking might lead to doubt and skepticism and finally the rejection of ‘gay marriage’ as a ridiculous idea. It is for that reason that globalist/supremacist Jews and homos prefer the manipulation of herd instinct to push their agenda, i.e. they hold events, rallies, and parades where attendees are expected and goaded to cheer loudly at expressions of pro-gay sentiments. If one third of the audience starts cheering, another third is carried along by the wave of emotions — as at church meetings — that override their power of reason and true morality; as for the final third that continues to doubt the gay crap, it chooses to remain silent because it’s afraid to play the party pooper and to be hated by the hysterical and delirious; it’d be like shouting "Journey sucks!!" at a Journey concert — no matter how true, you decide to keep calm since the crowd might go into a hate-fest against you if you spoke the truth; it’s like you don’t wanna cheer for the Dallas Cowboys against the Steelers in Pittsburgh even if you are a bona fide Cowboys fan; it’s like even a skeptical agnostic at a church meeting chooses not to raise his voice voice in opposition to the mindless rapturous emotions of the churchgoers. It’s just how human psychology works. Consider the J.K. Rowling convention where the lowlife PC whore said she’d always meant for the grand wizard to be gay, whereupon stunned silence ensued for a second, but then, as a bunch of parents and kids began to cheer loudly to Rowling’s approval, other dummies soon followed suit, and then every kid was cheering along without thinking of the true implications of Rowling’s homomania because it suddenly seemed as if the Harry-Potter-fan-thing-to-do was to cheer for homos; so, never mind that this grand wizard gets his jollies by pumping his penis into the shitholes of other men and has his own poophole penetrated in turn; all that matters to the dummies is that you need to cheer mindlessly for gays in order to be a true Harry Potter fan. This observation isn’t to imply that people who are homosexual can’t achieve or accomplish great things, especially as there have been plenty of homos who contributed something remarkable to human history and civilization, but the idea of cheering on a group of people on BECAUSE they are homosexual seems to be just about the most retarded thing; if a straight person isn’t to be lauded and praised simply for his straightness, why should a homo — whose ‘sexuality’ is especially gross and dysfunctional — be revered simply because he likes to have his fecal hole inserted with the sexual organs of other men? If people who happen to be homosexual do great things, praise the great thing they do or the great talent they have, but why praise their sexual deviance? If an alcoholic or incestuous person does something great, do we praise his alcoholism or incestuousness? No, we only praise the greatness of his achievement. We don’t praise Richard Wagner’s antisemitism because he was a great musical composer; instead, we praise his musical genius but criticize his overly simplistic view of Jews; but for some sick reason, we are supposed to praise homosexuality itself even though it’s about men having their anuses pummeled with sexual organs of other men or about men/women having their bodies mutilated under the surgical knife and pumped with all sorts of artificial hormones to radically change them into something they were not born as. Jews have turned all of mass media into one massive Jew-Gay Nuremberg Rally so that those who oppose the gay agenda have been browbeaten into silence by the hysterical apotheosis of gayness as something happy, holy, wonderful, and saintly. Just consider all the millions of herd-like homomaniacs on Facebook who used the red-equal-sign — that looks like a bleeding anus — as their avatars in support of ‘gay marriage’. Americans are so mindless that they think that two guys doing fecal penetration on each other is the greatest thing since the coming of Christ and that denying ‘marriage equality’ to a bunch of sexual freaks is the greatest injustice since the Holocaust. This is how stupid, childish, and trivialist this nation has become under the power of Jews. But then, conservatives offer no real challenge since American Right is dominated by the childish religious right whose ‘conservatism’ is mostly based on unthinking faith in what their elders and handlers tell them, which means it may not be long before conservatives also embrace ‘gay marriage’ as a ‘conservative value’ once the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity get into the act at the behest and under pressure from their rich patrons and media lords; rich conservatives like Limbaugh tend to be narcissistic, and narcissists want to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, and if one has to support ‘gay marriage’ to be invited to the biggest parties, that’s what most narcissistic a**holes will do. For ‘conservatives’ who can’t stand the Christian Right, there’s the equally mindless and childish ideology of libertarianism that would have us believe that the individual is all that matters and the solution to all problems is removing the ‘statist’ element from our lives. Having reverence for two guys who stick their sex organs into each other’s shi*hole is the paragon of moral values in the New America ruled by dirty Jews and their privileged and neo-aristocratic homo allies. We are living in a Judeocratic and homocratic state, and most white people are idiots who just go along as they’ve been reduced to being stupid children. But as long as the powers-that-be promote scatologism, they fool us that we are free and getting freer. I mean how can our society not be free when it’s saturated with F-words, sex talk, porn, bloody horror movies, lewd rap and rock songs, TV shows with graphic blood-gore-and-sex, and etc.? After all, didn’t totalitarian and authoritarian societies suppress such things? Didn’t sex-and-violence in arts and entertainment increase with the expansion of social freedoms in the 60s and 70s? But, it’s a fallacy to think that increase in sex-and-violence per se is the same thing as increase in freedom. As Aldous Huxley pointed out in BRAVE NEW WORLD, the powers-that-be can take ownership of and manipulate the ‘freedoms’ that fill our lives with sexual and sensationalistic excitement in order to control us emotionally and physio-sensually AND also to distract us from diminishing of real freedom of thought, dissent, and heresy. Notice how our society is increasingly becoming more porn-ized just as it’s becoming more politically-correctized. There’s a TV show called GIRLS when some Miss Piggy-lookalike named Lena Dunham acts the total whore, but Dunham is a Oberlin college graduate who fully supported the college’s recent hysterical shutdown of the campus just because someone might have seen someone who might have had a blanket over his head and looked like a KKK member. Just as our streets fill up with silly homos and ridiculous transvestites in ‘gay pride rallies’ all over the nation, so-called liberals are now arguing that freedom-of-speech must be curtailed and controlled so that anyone who says anything offensive about homos should be fined or sent to prison. ‘Gay pride parades’ are promoted as proof of our liberty and freedom, but a restaurant chain like Chick-Fil-A that believes in traditional marriage cannot even expand its franchise in cities like Chicago. According to Jewish-controlled Political Correctness, there is only one-size-fits-all kind of ‘Freedom’ that is stamped with the seal of approval by the globalist Zionist/Jewish and Homo elites. Otherwise, you’re out of business and out of all institutions where most of the power and wealth are concentrated. There had been a time when the government and academia were associated with enforcement of PC while private enterprise was seen as the bastion of freedom and liberty, but as the most successful and powerful businessmen are Jews, liberal wasps, and their gay allies, American big business is one of the biggest pushers of the PC agenda; in many big firms across the country, gay propaganda is displayed all over the workplace, and if you object to such ideological pressures, you are dragged to ‘sensitivity training’, fired, or denied promotion. GOP used to be the part of big business but no longer, not since Clinton dumped Big Labor in favor of big business and liberal boomers raked in the most money in the crucial high-tech, popular entertainment, and finance sectors. It was much the same in UK under Tony Blair. This is something Margaret Thatcher never understood, which is why she came to be reviled by both the Right and the Left. British conservatism used to be the bastion of tradition and privilege, but Thatcher sought to Americanize British conservatism by favoring individualism, enterprise, and merit. She favored the ‘crass’ businessman over the aristocratic type; she favored the hardworking immigrant over conservatives who inherited their privilege. Thus, she aroused the ire of British conservatives. But then, her pro-business policies obviously alienated the British Left that was still mired in Marxist orthodoxy. So, even though her pro-business policies actually undermined British conservatism, she won no friends on the Left. Did she at least win the support of the newly rising entrepreneurial and financial yuppie class? No, she looked too old-fashioned and unhip, too behind the times, too starchy in dress and hair. She may have had done wonders for them, but they couldn’t culturally connect or identify with her. Also, the newly rich class, even as it wanted the money, also thirsted for the moral vanity of being ‘progressive’, but Thatcher offered them no such candy. Even as UK pop culture fills up with all sorts of vile rap music, lewd TV shows, and garbage porn, some kid was dragged off to jail simply because he posted something ‘racist’ on his Twitter account. We are losing our freedoms and being punished by the state over the slightest thought-crimes, but many people are blind to the dangers and think they are living in a free-society-getting-freer because the likes of Lady Gaga and Jay-Z are splashed all over the media as ‘free-spirited’ and ‘outrageous’ personalities. But such scatologicalism only distracts us from the fact that entire areas of thoughts are being banned in the media — with even conservative media beginning to suppress arguments against ‘gay marriage’ and ‘amnesty — and that entire bodies of knowledge are effectively being purged or erased from the academia that have come under near total control by Jewish globalist supremacists and their goy running dogs. Sadly, many people who know that freedom of speech is coming under curtailment support the new censorship because they’ve been conditioned to think in terms of ‘hate speech is not free speech’; hating free speech is the new ‘free speech’. They don’t stop to think who are the powers-that-be that determine what is and isn’t this thing called ‘hate’. So, black rappers can spew the worst kind of filth in the UK and rake in millions of pounds, but if a white kid makes a mild racial joke on Twitter, off to jail he goes. A Zionist Jew in American can say nasty things and make vile movies about Arabs/Muslims and support the imperialist state of Israel that continues to oppress and harass Palestinians, but if a white American pointed out the hypocrisy of Jews who support nationalism and race-ism for themselves while denying it to white Americans and European-Americans, he is called a ‘hater’ and ‘notorious anti-Semite’.) Greater realism in cinema was initially championed and justified as a challenge to the fantasy world of the movies(where people didn’t bleed after getting shot or stabbed), but eventually, the , maximization of sex and violence only intensified the fantasy, which is why it takes the most special kind of skills with violence — as with Oliver Stone with PLATOON and Steven Spielberg with SAVING PRIVATE RYAN — to make movies seem frightfully real again.
Peckinpah was being disingenuous when he said THE WILD BUNCH was meant to rub people’s noses in the violence to make them feel sick in the stomach and never again confuse fantasy movie violence with real violence. As Peckinpah well knew, many more people were drawn to and thrilled by the violence in THE WILD BUNCH, which, with all its stylization amidst the blood-letting, actually seemed less real than the violence in John Ford films. (Incidentally, I find the violence in Ford films more disturbing in some ways. In Peckinpah’s films, violence is presented as a kind of spectacle. So, when it’s about to erupt, you brace yourself for the rough ride. Like it or not, you know it’s where people get hurt or end up dead real bad. In contrast, there is a sense of normality to much of the violence in Ford’s films, especially with the fist-fights. It’s not so much violence as head-busting spectacle — as in Peckinpah and Penn’s films — but violence as ‘boys will be boys’ rite-of-passage or melee, just like drinking whiskey to get blind drunk and beat up the wife and children among the Irish. The bar brawls in John Ford westerns are meant to be fun, but they are all the more brutal for their casualness, all the more so because they are presented as what-men-do. Consider the scene in DONOVAN’S REEF where John Wayne and Lee Marvin routinely bash each other’s heads. When people act like that in a Peckinpah film, it’s meant to be violent and threatening, mean and nasty. In John Ford films, it’s just supposed to be seen as boys-will-be-boys. But, don’t people suffer brain damage or even get killed by getting hammered in the head by big hard fists? All such considerations are secondary in John Ford movies, at least when it comes to fist-fighting. The long fist-fight scene in THE QUIET MAN — where you can hear the bone-cracking-thud with every blow — is one of the most unpleasant things I’ve ever seen. It’s a great film, and Ford had a wonderful way of mounting such scenes, but the ham-fisted Irish-mentality of ‘boys will be boys’ has never been my glass of whiskey — what such blows can do to a person could be seen in THE GODFATHER where a corrupt Irish cop knocks out Michael Corleone; and in the Westerns HIGH NOON and SHANE, Fred Zinnemann and George Stevens went beyond most of their peers in depicting the nakedly brutal side of punching or shooting someone, which was why Peckinpah especially mentioned SHANE as his favorite Western, the one that changed everything. But in many of Ford’s westerns and even non-western films, there’s an all too casual attitude to violence. It’s like the Buchanan boys in RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING instigating fights at parties to prove that they are a bunch of real fellas: ‘thugs will be thugs’. But then, the current culture of SWPL has its own big problems. For while men musn’t be thugs, they must still be men. No man should be like a wussy boy like Ken Burns or Chris Matthews who has chills going up his legs whenever he listens to Obama. It could be that gay culture and Jewish supremacism that are having a truly castrating effect on the white male — indeed, much more so than feminism or woman power. Women have long had a civilizing influence on men — at least white women on white men as Negresses only seem to drive Negroes into wilder frenzy. Consider all the John Wayne characters who act brutish and thuggish but change their ways when they meet the right kind of woman. Consider how Wayne’s character does the right thing in MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE out of a love for a woman. Consider the young brash guy in RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY learning to more sensitive and civilized by developing feelings for Mariette Hartley’s character. There is no shame in man becoming more sensitive due to woman’s pressure. For while woman are attracted to manliness, she doesn’t want some barbaric beast hollering like a loon and acting like a baboon, that is unless she has ‘jungle fever’. It’s like the musical SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS. The guys learn that they must court and win the hearts of the women than simply rape them. There’s something to be gained for civilization when a man puts aside his overt machismo in order to win the heart of a woman. He wins love and affection. To be sure, the effect a woman has on a man is of a paradoxical nature. The beauty and grace of her femininity both calm and inflame his masculinity. She appears before him like a goddess, and he wants to win her respect and affection. This aspect of femininity makes him gentle. But female beauty arouses lust in men, and this makes them possessive of her against other men and even against her own will. Consider the character of Bohun in Henryk Sienkiewicz’s WITH FIRE AND SWORD. He is a ruthless killer and thief, but he turns into butter in the presence of the woman he loves named Helena. Even after kidnaping her, he doesn’t take advantage of her but tries to woo her to make her love him. Her presence turns him into a puppy but also can bring out the fiercest wolf in him. This is also true of the Jacob character in the TWILIGHT series. Bella Swan brings out both the softest side and the most aggressive side of him. This aspect of male psychology is both inter-conflicted and intra-conflicted. Inter-conflicted in that males compete with other males to win the love of the ‘damsel’, ‘princess’, ‘goddess’, etc. But it’s also intra-conflicted for the man sees the woman of his desire as both madonna and whore. Some women understand this side of male psychology and toy with it for all its worth to their advantage, whereas some women, due to their puritanical or dogmatic upbringing, have no clue as how the male mind works, which is why Camille Paglia has railed against all those naive college girls who haven’t the slightest idea of what their words and gestures might be signaling to men. She probably understands the wolfish side of male psychology better because she’s a lesbian herself and probably drooled over ‘good girls’ who had no idea what was really going through her mind. She eyed the girls like a fox at bunny rabbits, but the girls probably just saw her as a nice friend. As MACHIVELLI wrote THE PRINCE as the guide to power, maybe Paglia should write THE PRINCESS as a guide for women about the ways of sexual dynamics. Once you enter the marketplace, you must know it’s a game and must be played like a game; for women to demand all the rights/freedom of adulthood but then expect to be shielded from the big bad wolf of reality like children forever is to live in denial. This doesn’t excuse boorish or brutal sexual behavior by men, and all rapists must pay the price, but a lot of sexual transgressions could have been avoided if women understood the rules of the game: what signals to send and not to send, where to go and not to go and with whom. But feminism has infantilized and/or hystericalized young women — and even older women — into embracing a silly utopianism [1] where women can act like total sluts yet shouldn’t be seen or treated as luscious sex meat by men [2] where no decent person feels anything but the most ‘progressive’ emotions running through his veins at all times, as if the world is neatly divided into good people vs bad people, when, in reality, even good people are tempted by ‘bad’ desires all the time and can lurch into the ‘dark side’ under certain circumstances, like how the vampires in TWILIGHT can, at the sight/smell of blood, lose control of their good side and be tempted to suck out the blood of even humans they care about. Utopian feminists seem to think women should have the right to be as ‘bad’ as they want as temptresses and skanks, but men must be perfect gentlemen at all times, i.e. if a woman shakes her naked boobs and butt in his face, he must remain totally calm and pretend as if she’s a classy lady who just wants to shake his hands than a skanky pussyass ho who be shaking her butt like a wild Negress; but then, such lopsidedness also exists between whites and Jews/Negroes/homos, i.e. Jews can be extremely hostile and virulent against whites, but whites must always see Jews as the most wonderful people; blacks can be wild, hateful, and ape-like, but whites must always see blacks as the nicest bunch of Magic Negroes; homos can bugger one another and spread AIDS all around, but being homo means never having to say you’re sorry and the entire blame for the AIDS epidemic in the gay community must fall on Reagan and conservatives for ‘not caring enough’. At any rate, the male psychology concerning the female may be kind of reverse reflection of mother psychology concerning her offsprings. Consider the mother grizzly bear. Her cubs can bring out the kindest, gentlest, and most loving side of her, but in face of possible danger to her cubs, her offsprings also brings out the most dangerous and aggressive side of her. The cuddly cuteness of the cubs pacifies her emotions, but her need to defend them from danger brings out the ferocious killer instinct in her. So, in a way, a man feels about a woman in the way that a mother feels about her cute sonny boy. The emotion of guilt probably has its roots in the relationship between mother/parent and child/offspring AND in the relationship between man and woman. Guilt is essentially fear of oneself as a doer of harm to others. At the core of senses are the feelings of pleasure and pain. An organism likes to feel pleasure for itself, but it hates pain, a danger signal, and tries to avoid it at all cost. The most obvious kind of pain is physical, but there is also emotional pain, and fear is an emotional pain. When an organism is overcome with fear, it feels emotional distress that also makes for psychological pain. To fear something means to see it as a great danger, even a mortal threat, and be overcome with intense emotional discomfort; fear comes naturally to all creatures as a survival mechanism. But some organisms, especially birds and mammals have emotions that go beyond self-interest, and the root of such feelings lies in the bond of affection between parent — usually mother — and child/offspring, and the full bloom of such feelings is the bond of love between man and woman. Through such feelings comes sympathy and even empathy, and the organism comes to see the world not only in terms of its own interests but in the interest of others it cares about. Thus, it makes the leap FROM only feeling fear of harm done to it by others TO feeling fear of harm it may do onto others it cares about. Thus, guilt is a kind of fear but fear of the danger one may pose to others than fear of the danger others may pose to it. As empathy allows an organism to feel what others may be feeling, a kind of split-mentality develops in the empathetic organism. Instead of just being worried about harm caused by others onto it, it begins to worry about the harm it may do to others — and may have done to others. Empathy is both advantageous and dangerous. Among organisms of mutual empathy, it can help to create a strong bond to work together for the common good and fend off enemies. But the problem of empathy/sympathy is it could be a one-way street, i.e. one may foolishly assume that others feel toward it as it feels toward others when, in fact, others feels no affection for it. Since organisms cannot really read the minds of other organisms, the hope of mutual empathy is a kind of guesswork or a matter of faith/hope. A con-artist may act like he cares about you as much as you care about him, but you are being misled and fooled. Thus, empathy is a doubled-edged sword. It can be useful or it can be detrimental, even suicidal. The problem with Jews and Negroes is they are generally lacking in mutual empathy toward other peoples. They are capable of opportunistic empathy of figuring out how the white boys/girls may be thinking and then use that knowledge to gain the advantage over whites. Both Jews and Negroes want whites to sympathize with them and to care about them, but they themselves don’t give a crap about whites. They are merely exploiting the white hope of mutual empathy to squeeze more money, favors, and blood out of whites. They want whites to feel guilt — the fear of oneself — about the potential harm that whites may cause onto Jews and Negroes, but they themselves don’t feel any guilt toward whites even though there’s a long history of Jewish exploitation, enslavement, and even mass extermination of whites and even though Negroes have been going on a wild rampage to destroy entire cities and rob/rape/murder whites since the 1960s. If not for the historical circumstances that blinded whites with ‘white guilt’ in regard to Jews and blacks, whites would surely take notice of the true nature of the Jew and the Negro. As whites don’t feel much if any guilt for Asians, Hindus, and Muslims, whites have a much more clear-eyed view of those people and their ‘national character’. But the burden of history — as controlled and manipulated by Jews — has tinted white lenses with the color of guilt when it comes to Jews and Negroes, and so, whites are prevented from seeing the reality of how Jews and Negroes are causing the most harm to the white race. Even the Muslim danger in the West wouldn’t exist if Zionist supremacists don’t control foreign-and-immigration policy in both the US and EU. Jews and Negroes love themselves and reserve their fears for others that may cause them harm, but whites fear their own selves as they’re infected with ‘white guilt’, which is pathological white fear of their own whiteness as potential danger to the entire world. This self-fear has grown so cancerous and deadly that even white conservatives are now more concerned about how denying ‘amnesty’ might cause harm to all those wonderful ‘people of color’ illegals than concerned about how ‘amnesty’ might harm the white race and conservatism. Excessive feelings of good-willed empathy toward outsiders are not good, but pathological levels of good-willed guilt-ridden empathy showered on Jews, Negroes, and masses of illegal aliens is a form of psychological cancer; it is pathologically suicidal, but as long as Jews control the academia and media, they have control over the white mind as a shrink over his patient’s. Anyway, the woman tames the man but doesn’t castrate him. Indeed, why would she wanna castrate the man she wants to ‘surrender’ to? She wants the man to be civilized but also masculine. In contrast, gay pressure is far more deadly to maleness. Gays don’t so much want to civilize straight men as take over as the new model of malehood — as opposed to manhood. When a bunch of pansy males are elevated as the new ideal of maleness, true maleness of straight males is effectively castrated. When straight maleness must sit next to — or even take a backseat to — gay maleness and is forced to accept gay maleness as being of equal value, irreparable harm has been done to straight maleness — when something of real meaningful value is forced to acknowledge something of dubious value as being of equal value, it’s not an issue of equality or justice but of special privilege and supremacy for the latter as it’s been elevated beyond its inferior value or anti-value, i.e. if a genius is forced to acknowledge a dummy as his intellectual equal, it’s not about equality but about dummy privilege/supremacism premised on the notion that a dummy doesn’t have to prove his intellectual worth; similarly, in the new homocentric order, homos don’t have to prove the biological or moral worth of men pumping their sex organs into fecal holes in order for homosexuality to be considered something of equal value as real sexuality; when something that is clearly dysfunctional, defective, dubious, and/or degenerate is elevated to being of equal — or even higher — value as the thing that is true, functional, and meaningful, it is a sign of social decadence and neo-aristocratic privilege enforced by the powers-that-be; after all, if an F student demands that he be given the same honors as an A student, it’s not a matter of equality of justice but ‘equality’ of privilege whereupon one party feels it can do as it pleases and fail the test but then be guaranteed with the same ‘right’ to be showered with honors; as we all know, homosexuality is a form of fake sexuality practiced by dysfunctional deviants, a form of ‘sexuality’ that is of no biological value and of dubious moral value, especially among the ‘gay men’ who indulge in the utterly foul practice of fecal penetration; yet, these deviants now teach America’s children that two guys pumping one another in the fecal tunnel is of equal biological and moral value as real sex between man and woman; they teach America’s children that ‘gay parents’ can have babies through ‘gay unions’; and most straight liberals and even increasing numbers of straight conservatives go along with such nonsense because ours is a materialistic culture that worships people with money — gays, as caterers to the vanity of the rich class and conspiratorial agents of power, have lots of money and influence — and a narcissistic culture that worships creative people, which is one reason why artists — such as Roman Polanski and many rock stars — are often given the benefit of a doubt[no matter what foul deed they commit] that would never be given to ordinary people. Of course, America has long been a moralistic culture, and it was for that reason that many Americans had an instinctive aversion to homosexuality and homosexual culture that seemed so decadent, indulgent, and excessive. Jews and homos understood this normative moral aspect of the American character, and so, they reformulated the image of homos from one of excess-deviance-decadence to something like clean-cut-Father-Knows-Best-ness. They Saul-Alinskyized homosexuality into the ‘new normal’ where the image of homos was cleaned up with movies like PHILADELPHIA and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Thus, decadence and deviance took on the image of normality and even morality, and then, homosexuality could be sold to the mainstream American public as ‘more normal than normal’, a homorality. I mean who can be more normal-looking than Tom Hanks and American cowboys as saintly gays? Also, even though the core of homosexuality is premised on men sticking their sexual organs into the shi*holes of other men — even a dumb ape knows that the anus is a stink-hole from which the turd comes out — , homo propaganda emphasizes the angelic countenances of famous gay people, thus fooling people that the essence of homosexuality is having pleasant smiles than sticking one’s sexual organ up someone’s behind. Straight maleness is being forced to sit in the back of the bus in relation to gay maleness that is now in the driver’s seat. It’s one thing to tolerate gays and let them do their gay stuff, but a male culture that is forced to accept gay maleness as being of equal or even higher value in relation to straight maleness has no value in terms of manhood. Also, there’s nothing to be gained for manhood by bending over to gays. By allowing himself to be tamed by the woman, the man gains the woman. But by bending over to the gay, the male only gets buggered in the ass, figuratively or literally. Also, it goes against nature for straight maleness to bend over to gay maleness. While it’s natural for men to feel soft feelings in the presence of women, it’s not natural for straight men to get so gooey and whoopsy-doopsily enthusiastic about gayness. Men have to be brainwashed, castrated, and coerced to accept gay maleness as something decent, natural, and normal. To be sure, one could argue that homo-dominance or hominance had a kind of civilizing value on humanity. The effeminacy of gay sensibility might have rubbed off on the boorish warrior caste since so many gays — even as they remained in the closet — designed fancy attires, stockings, jewelry, wigs, and manners for the privileged and powerful classes. Thus, over time, the rulers of civilization became more fancy, elegant, and refined — more ‘dignified’ and well-mannered as opposed to crude, barbaric, and uncouth — , and their rule had a restraining effect — sometimes ruthlessly administered — on the barbarous impulses of the masses who were whipped into good behavior whenever they got too uppity, rowdy, and out-of-control; similarly the somewhat gay-ish Southern gentry put on highborn airs and invoked them as proof of their social/moral superiority that justified their suppression of blacks and ‘white trash’ elements. As the warrior rulers turned into a class of aristocrats with pretty manners and fancy demeanors, they were less likely to act like the Vikings and Huns of old who just liked to bash stuff for the hell of it. The old barbarians were sackers and looters, not builders and designers, of cities. As barbarian chieftains gradually turned into civilized kings and noblemen, there was greater peace and prosperity in the land; and one could argue that gay cultural/social influence had something to do with this since a disproportionately high number of notable artists and designers in the past were gay, and as such, may have had a taming effect on boorish men. Even though homosexuality was looked down upon and prohibited in the past, something of gay sensibility came to permeate much of aristocratic high culture, especially in Northern Italy, France, and Britain. Paradoxically, it’s possible that the Western order was so anti-gay precisely because it was so gay-ish, i.e. the mostly straight ruling classes of Europe who donned gayish clothes and put on fancy gayish manners didn’t wanna admit that so much of their style and attitudes were drawn from gay sensibility, especially as they claimed to be torchbearers of Christian values; it’s like the Japanese militarists in the first half of the 20th century were very Westernized but also so repressive of the fact that they were westernized. And even before the modernization of Japan, there had long been a tension within Japanese culture between gayish effeminacy and tough manliness, strikingly illustrated in Nagisa Oshima’s GOHATTO or TABOO; samurai were supposed to be ruthless killers but also refined defenders of a high civilization. But even if we acknowledge the civilizing role played by gayness, especially by turning the warrior caste onto fancy things and elegant manners, the old adage that ‘too much of a good thing is a bad thing’ applies here. Gayishness also led to overt and excessive snobbery, highfalutin-ness, sneering contempt, preening arrogance, and fussy-wussy-whoopsy-do intolerance of the ‘vulgar unwashed’. It also altered privilege from a social fact to an insufferably fancy social art of vanity, as embodied by the loathsome character played by Tim Roth in ROB ROY. At the very least, barbarian chieftains were honest about their power-lust, but the gayish kings and aristocrats put on fancy airs as if they were above such concerns, indeed as if they only cared about art, beauty, poetry, and the finer things in life. And what with their fancy-ass manners, they came to look down on the masses as dirty, smelly, unclean, and disgusting, which the masses were, of course, but mainly because they had to toil on the soil from morning to night while the fancy-arsed kings and aristocrats with their gayish manners and powdered wigs were having a grand time at ballroom dances. The first great blow against the gayish order was the American Revolution and the second was the French Revolution. American colonialists took the fight to the gayish British aristocrats, and the French masses followed their revolutionary leaders to assault and overthrow the aristocrats who were eating all the fancy cakes with all the fancy cutlery. The French Revolution was especially alarming to the gayish European aristocratic classes once Napoleon transformed the French army into the people’s army that steam-rolled over the colorfully attired wind-up toy soldiers led by gayish aristocratic generals. Even so, the French Revolution were led by radical aristocrats and bourgeois elements who themselves were into fancy stuff and elitist attitudes. And the American Revolution was led by the neo-aristocratic class among the colonialists who had gayish tendencies of their own; the Founding Fathers never meant to create a populist style of democracy, which really came into being with the presidency of Andrew Jackson. It was in America that the masses truly broke away from the gayish aristocratic mold of Old Europe. If, in the UK, one had to have the proper gayish manners to win social respect and retain self-respect as ‘one of the better members of society’, one could be an ordinary person in America and still have all the respect and self-respect in the world. Of course, manners did matter, but they didn’t have to be fancy and snobby; they just needed to be good and proper. Thus, American manners were premised on moral substance than on the conceit of style, as was the case with British manners. This anti-aristocratism naturally made Americans anti-gayish as gayness was associated with putting on airs, preening narcissism, tutti-fruity highfalutin vanity — the kind displayed by Liberace and Elton John. Even gays born to regular folks tended to have neo-aristocratic tendencies; just as European aristocrats wore feminine attire through the ages, a gay boy born into a working class family might put on a pink panties and demand imported champagne than stick with canned beer like everyone else. Gayishness seemed wrong to most Americans not merely because of the long-standing tradition of anti-homosexualism but because of its perfumed flair of neo-aristocratism that was bound be disdained in a nation that belonged to the common man: the honest farmer, the factory worker, the rugged pioneer, the cowboy, the rancher. All such people had to serve under gayish aristocrats in Europe, but in America, an ordinary man could work and make something of himself and not feel inferior because he didn’t own fancy clothes and wasn’t trained with fancy gayish manners like the French and British upper classes — as inferiority-complex-afflicted middle classes aspiring to win approval from their social superiors. One could be like John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Alan Ladd, or James Stewart and have self-respect and the respect of other Americans. And in this sense, both communism and fascism had something in common with Americanism. Russian communists finally got rid of the fancy Russian Tsar and aristocracy and created a new culture of common sturdy manhood, and Italian Fascists and German National Socialists created a new order where the common man, Italian or German, could stand up with his head held high and not feel inferior to the traditional aristocratic classes who were said to be ‘well-bred’ and ‘well-mannered’. And modern nationalism, militarism, and/or communism were welcomed by many Chinese as a manly means by which to rid China of its overly refined and gayish culture of the literati whose idea of life consisted of sipping tea, writing calligraphy, wearing silk gowns, growing long finger nails, binding women’s feet so that the feet would be ‘dainty’ and cute, and staring into the garden all day for inspiration for a poem. Of course, the old adage, ‘too much of a good thing is a bad thing’ applies to anti-gayishness too. In the case of communism, Italian Fascism, and German National Socialism, the supreme emphasis placed on the Common Man or the Mighty Man led to extreme destructive violence and eventually to their own demises. It was in America that the proper balance was found where the common and/or the tough man could have his self-respect and rights but also where key contributions by different types of people could also be welcomed and appreciated. To the extent that homos had once struggled for the freedom and right to be gay — and to be left alone and not face persecution and harassment — , it’s difficult to find fault with their cause as different kinds of people should have the right to pursue their own idea of happiness in a free democratic society. But we are now living in a gayish neo-aristocratic order where gays are not content to be left alone to do their thing but demand that we ‘welcome’ them as wonderful, noble, saintly, great, and normal like the rest of us, when indeed, the core reality of homosexuality is that homos indulge in foul and gross ‘sexual’ acts. It’d be like incestuous people not only arguing they should be left alone to do their stuff but demanding that we should allow incest pride parades in every city, teach school children that incest is healthy and normal, and be condemned for ‘incestophobia’ if we were to oppose ‘incest marriage’ or ‘same family marriage’. The ‘kindness’ of homos today is of an ‘aristotalitarian’ character, i.e. you better accept their show of kindness and accede to their demands or else be blacklisted, tarred-and-feathered, or destroyed in public life. The choice is not between submission and resistance but between submission or silence; worse, as was the case in communist nations, the choice in the future may be between total submission and near-total submission, i.e. you won’t even be allowed to resist the gay agenda in the silent realm of private thought. Communist leaders made kindly gestures to the people in public, but it was a coercive kind of kindness that one had to appreciate, or else, be accused of being a counterrevolutionary. Kings and aristocrats acted the same way toward the unwashed masses; their show of kindness had to be appreciated as if it were the blessings of divine beings or gift from heaven, or else, you would be targeted for persecution; in Japan, if a social inferior didn’t show gratitude for the show of kindness by his lord and grovel at his feet, he could get his head chopped off as shown in SHOGUN. In CARLITO’S WAY, Benny Blanco’s acts of kindness toward Carlito is really a tool of power, and if you refuse his ‘kindness’, you are marked man; it’s ‘kindness’ as a weapon of power and privilege; it’s like the show of kindness by the rich guy toward the pretty poor girl in TESS — the film as I haven’t read the book — or the show of kindness by the powerful executive toward Hulk Hogan in NO HOLDS BARRED; Hulk better sign the deal because, otherwise, the rich powerful guy will take it as a personal insult — "Are you telling me my money is not good enough for you, Jock-ass?!?" — and do whatever he can to destroy Hulk. It’s like the show of ‘kindness’ by certain powerful horny men toward attractive female employees, with the not-so-subtle hint that the women better put out if they want to keep their jobs or be favored for raises/promotion; ironically, Jews, homos, liberals, and feminists are now using all sorts of political/ideological/cultural harassment to pressure us to kneel before them; their ‘kindness’ is like an offer from Vito Corleone; it can’t be refused. That sort of thing has, of course, been commonplace in Hollywood where so many ‘shikses’ had to submit to the ‘kindly’ advances of Jewish executives and get down on their knees and swallow gobs of kosher cum to be maybe given a chance at making it in the industry; if you fight off the ‘kindly’ advances of Jewish men, the word gets around that you’re ‘difficult’ to work with and are thus effectively barred from any real chance of success; and most politicians better get on their knees and swallow the cum of Jewish supremacist globalists, or they are finished. What today’s fairistocrats and fruitocrats are doing to us is the same thing. As the main allies of the all-powerful Jews, homos have become the second most powerful group in America, and they are forcing their ‘kindness’ on the rest of us; we are forced to swallow their poison fruit just like Tess had no choice but to open her mouth to the strawberry that is dangled in front of her by the rich bastard. As the two most privileged groups, Jews and gays, become richer and richer and more privileged while the rest of us get poorer and less privileged, there’s no question that America is turning into a neo-aristocratic society where some groups are favored and promoted way over others. Though marketed by Jewish controllers of the media as ‘equality’, it is the rise of neo-aristocratic gayish privilege, the difference being that neo-aristocratism isn’t merely gayish in style as the old aristocratism had been but fully and openly gay in its radical demands and arrogant agenda. Possibly even more damaging to white maleness is the power of Jewish maleness. Jews, being a bunch of nerds and dorks, have always felt intimidated by white maleness. Thus, Jewish males have used the power of the media, academia, and entertainment to castrate white maleness. So, white maleness is associated with oppressing Negroes, killing Jews, and the like — as if non-white males hadn’t themselves indulged in acts of violence and oppression all over the world all throughout history. White maleness is also associated with rape. Though white women have much more to fear from Negroes, the main issue concerning rape in ‘progressive’ circles — dominated by Jews, of course — is that every white girl on campus is being targeted by white male rapists; the Duke Lacrosse hysteria would have us believe that privileged white males are also targeting poor defenseless black women. And of course, the gay agenda wouldn’t even be on the map without the support of Jewish money and media. Jews have promoted gays in order to demoralize the element of white power inherent in Western Civilization. This isn’t to say gays shouldn’t be free to do their gay stuff, just as incestuous people shouldn’t be banned from doing their gross stuff. Rather, it concerns the promotion of deviant sexual lifestyles as something of equal or even higher value than normal/real sexual ways. Such an agenda is well under way. For instance, FORBES magazine weighs ‘gay-friendliness’ heavily as a criterion in estimating the ‘best places to work’. Thus, if companies wanna be on the list, they must roll out the red or pink carpet for gays, even though gays make up but a small percentage of the working population. It’s like Jews are no longer content to be equal with us. Instead, they want special recognition and privileges. So, Jews are never to be criticized, Jewish power is never to be discussed, Jews must be mentioned favorably at all times, Jewish ‘historical crimes’ must be forgotten and swept under the carpet, the world must bend over backward for Israel, every city must have a Holocaust memorial, even people who were harmed by Jews must praise Jews, and etc. It’s no wonder Jews feel so close to gays. They are both addicted to vanity and privilege. It’s often been said that those who control history controls the present, but it must be emphasized that history isn’t simply about the power of remembrance but the power to induce amnesia. Jewish power, after all, isn’t premised only on the remembrance of the Holocaust but the forced amnesia of Jewish involvement in communist mass murder.) That more graphic sex and violence wouldn’t necessarily lead to a more honest depiction of reality was already evident with PSYCHO. Though lacking in explicit nudity or blood-letting, it pushed the envelope in suggestiveness, style, sound, and/or intensity, especially in the opening post-sex scene in the hotel and in the shower scene at the Bates Motel. The style was so powerful that many people swore to having seen what they hadn’t really seen. PSYCHO’s achievement implied that even graphic sex and violence could be stylized into escapist fantasy and thrills. And no one could doubt this when THE EXORCIST was splattered across screens all over the world. Today, most graphic sex and violence is the domain of freaks like Takeshi Miiki and Quentin Tarantino who have little sense of reality outside the movie-world within which they’ve taken up permanent residence. Though they grew up watching tons of violent movies with graphically real depictions of violence, their sense of reality is utterly tenuous when compared to that of John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Raoul Walsh. (One might argue that the most unreal aspect of watching graphic violence in movies or on TV is the absence of actual harm to the viewer. In reality, to be in close proximity to violence means you can get hurt too from gunfire, exploding shrapnel, knife-wielding madman, and etc., i.e. there is a direct relation to what you see and what may happen to your own flesh and bone; if a mad killer murders someone next to you, he might then kill you. But movies, no matter how much they scare you, make you feel assured that YOU are safe despite all the mayhem on the screen; thus, the fright eventually turns into a kind of thrill and pleasure; and this is why we don’t make heroes out of real butchers like John Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer, but we do of characters like Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, the murderers of THE GODFATHER, the bandit-killers of THE WILD BUNCH, and the serial-killer of the Hannibal Lecter series; we would not have a convention honoring Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin, but at STAR WARS conventions, even Darth Vader and the Evil Emperor are stars of the show. Even the three murderous vampires in TWILIGHT win huge applause from the fans.) The issue of screen violence has been written about thoughtfully by many scholars, among them Stephen Prince in "Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies" — though I must say I tend to disagree with many, if not most, of Prince’s assertions. Though Peckinpah has had a huge influence on movie violence, I’m not sure if the ethical problems of most screen violence in current cinema could be traced to Peckinpah’s works. The sensibility governing most of today’s screen violence owes more to slickness of 007 movies, the mindless gore of George Romero’s zombie sequels, and videogame aesthetics, though, to be sure, videogames have been greatly influenced by movies as well. I would also trace the use of slo-motion in movie violence to televised sports events with their slo-motion replays, something that needs more attention from film scholars. The instant replay had a way of elevating sports from an competitive event to a heightened spectacle. This was especially true of KOs in boxing and touchdown passes in football. And of course, the most famous use of slow motion in sports footage was by Leni Riefenstahl in the diving sequence in OLYMPIAD. Especially striking is how Riefenstahl juxtaposed real-time action with slo-motion long before Penn and Peckinpah did. Even if Peckinpah didn’t consciously derive his style from televised sports, he must have seen his share of sports on TV and been subconsciously influenced by them. After all, after a touchdown pass in football and KO in boxing, what the audience savors most is the replay that transforms the moment into a monument. (Prince also foolishly dismisses Peckinpah’s account of how a death he witnessed in China as a Marine may have influenced his development of screen violence. Prince thinks it was just a case of Peckinpah intellectualizing his achievement after the fact, but it’s pure conjecture on Prince’s part. As Peckinpah was working towards a more subjective depiction of screen violence, he was obviously thinking not only in terms of how violence looked but felt ‘psychologically’, and so, why wouldn’t he have drawn from his own knowledge of violence — seen or experienced — in real life? It appears Prince was projecting his own movie-centrism onto Peckinpah, as if everyone who makes movies hardly knows anything about life and draws his visual influence only from other movies. It may be true of Tarantino, but the charge simply doesn’t stick on Peckinpah.) But the real problem of Prince’s thesis is in the final chapter where he rags on directors such as Walter Hill and Martin Scorsese. I mostly agree with Prince on the case of Tarantino, at least in regard to his post-RESERVOIR DOGS movies. Prince has problems with the ending of TAXI DRIVER, but I’d argue that it is, in some respects, ethically more provocative than anything by Peckinpah and for the very issues Prince raises. Prince feels that Peckinpah felt close to the violence, was morally engaged with it, and connected emotions of the audience with the characters caught up in the violence. In contrast, there’s an element of coldness in Scorsese’s treatment of violence in TAXI DRIVER and later films(such as GOODFELLAS) that distance/alienate us from the heat of the action, or so Prince argues. But this makes Scorsese’s films all the more intriguing — in a meaningful way — because we aren’t allowed to get intoxicated with the passion and violence, i.e. even as Scorsese excites us with the mayhem, he encourages a part of us to remain calm and not surrender our souls to the passion of the moment; indeed, it is when Scorsese dispenses with that element of caution that his films go most wrong, as with the violence in CAPE FEAR and GANGS OF NEW YORK. Though Scorsese professes to be a Catholic, he is actually more like the christ who comes off the cross in THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST than the Christ of Mel Gibson’s PASSION OF THE CHRIST who follows his calling 100%. According to the Christian mythology of the Passion, Jesus fully committed Himself to sacrifice and death, as do the gunmen in the final scene of THE WILD BUNCH. Scorsese is a great admirer of Sam Peckinpah’s cinema of passion and a professed true believer in the Catholic Faith, but a side of him has always approached the Passion narrative of Christianity and passion-thrills cinema with a certain trepidation. Whether it’s the fire of damnation for gangster-killers(in movies like WHITE HEAT by Raoul Walsh) or the flames of salvation for Christian saints(as in THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC by Carl Dreyer), Scorsese always shared in the passion but found himself unable to commit fully to either damnation or salvation owing to his naturally skeptical nature and the contradictoriness of his upbringing and formative years that necessitated straddling very different worlds — ethnic NY, cosmopolitan NY, counterculture of the 60s, traditional customs of his people, liberal Jewish-dominated Hollywood, conservative Catholic-dominated Little Italy, American idealism, Italian-American criminalism, the culture of macho vulgarity, the culture of high art, etc. Thus, what may seem like a lack or insufficiency of emotions in Scorsese’s films is really a kind of willful self-restraint that warns himself and us against downing the entire bottle of whiskey or drowning in a tub filled with holy water. There is an element of orgasm or catharsis to the violence in THE WILD BUNCH, STRAW DOGS, and THE GETAWAY, but what characterizes Scorsese’s movies is a sense of coitus interruptus, indeed even in TAXI DRIVER and RAGING BULL, i.e. the violence never delivers the kind of release that the characters might have hoped for. It’s like Scorsese disobeyed the Church doctrine against ‘self-abuse’ and fornication but was too filled with anxiety and doubt to make himself cum in the act. There are two aspects to Scorsese’s presentation of violence: one of wish-fulfilment and will-to-power rage AND one of defeat/exhaustion before the wall of impenetrable reality. It’s like the scene in RAGING BULL where Jake Lamotta pounds the prison wall with all his might, only to stand before the same stone-hard wall with busted fists. The ending of TAXI DRIVER has a lurid quality, but that makes the violence more thoughtful than in most Peckinpah’s movies. Travis Bickle may have seen himself as romantic Peckinpah character — despite the cynicism that runs throughout Peckinpah’s films, they are nothing if not romantic, and many of the characters do achieve a larger-than-life heroism, even something like redemption, through the romanticism of all-out mayhem — , but the hoped-for revelry of the moment of truth dissipates to reveal a sordid and putrid ugliness. The action scenes in Peckinpah films can be enjoyed for their thrill content again and again, but I’d worry about people who repeatedly watch the ending of TAXI DRIVER for kicks. The violence in STRAW DOGS is longer and perhaps even more extreme, but we are sucked into the action. We root for David Sumner(Dustin Hofman) to score more kills as he lurches from defensive to offensive mode; and despite the moral murkiness of STRAW DOGS, we believe in the instinctive ‘right’ of David to defend his turf against those who would trample all over his manhood. Though we side with Travis Bickle in the final scene — as the pimps are especially loathsome — , we never lose sight of the fact that he himself is a lunatic. The violence comes across as more porno-grimy than spectacular or heroic. Also, the final violence is anticlimactic for two reasons: (1) It’s pitiful compensation for Bickle’s failure to get the big fish, Palantine (2) Instead of facing off against Sport(Harvey Keitel), the lover/owner of Iris(Jodi Foster), as the final antagonist in the fight, Bickle kills him off first, thus leaving him to face off against the faceless rest for whom Bickle feels no personal animus. It goes from a ‘meaningful’ quest to a mechanical process, from an act of heroism(at least as Bickle sees it) to a hog killing. That element of ‘detachment’ arguably makes TAXI DRIVER morally more responsible than, say, BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA. In the latter, when Benny stands over a dead Mexican and shoots him again and mutters, "Just because it feels so goddamn good", it does indeed feel goddamn good. Good or bad, we share in the joy of the kill and in the further killing of the already killed as attitude and style. And there’s an element of redemption as Benny mows down El Jefe and his men, and Benny’s own demise reeks not only of blood and sweat but something like tragic nobility. In contrast, though Bickle puts his life on the line to kill the ‘bad guys’ to save the girl, it comes across as a confused and pathetic act of a loner-loser with a death wish. And of course, the girl didn’t even ask for his help and is, if anything, traumatized by the ‘rescue’. (Just as Bickle misread Betsy all the while trying to get to know her better, he also pretty much misread Iris. Bickle, who is unhip to the max, cannot connect with people in a world of pimps and sluts, sharks and shakers. He does try to be ‘hip’ at times, as when he takes Betsy to a porno movie or when he awkwardly tries trash-talk on Iris, but he fails to see the nuances of hipness and how it’s done. Perhaps Betsy too is a whore of sorts, but she is a higher-class whore who wants to ‘sell’ herself to men like Palantine. Bickle can’t understand the difference between low porn of the lower class and high porn of the well-to-do. What may be appropriately hip in one part of social reality can be anathema in another. Bickle doesn’t really get the contradictions of egalitarianism and elitism in a place like NY, i..e. urban liberals may see themselves as ‘one with the people’ but are loathe to be associated closely with the stuff that excite the lower orders. In earlier times, there was a clearer demarcation of what was respectable/high and what was vulgar/low, but in NY of the 1970s, following the social revolution of the 1960s, the new Zeitgeist was social libertine-ism and permissive-ism among the elites and well-to-do, but that didn’t mean that a well-born or aspiring white liberal really wanted to be taken to a porn theater, especially one with a lot of yapping Negroes. Liberals may say they’re ‘one with the people’, but if you act like one-of-the-real-people with a liberal, he or she will shriek about your vulgarity, ‘racism’, ‘sexism’, ‘xenophobia’, ‘homophobia’, and etc. Liberals pretend to be open to everything, but it’s really a conceit; if you drag them to real reality and show it as it is, they shriek and freak out. Bickle doesn’t get along with Betsy but does okay with Iris, who is still a child. Iris is sexually far more experienced than Betsy but emotionally naive, even ‘innocent’, which makes her one of the most disturbed characterizations in American cinema. What’s really troubling is not so much her degraded role in life but her numbness toward and even comfort with it. She is not the damsel in distress secretly calling out for help, like Debbie in THE SEARCHERS, who, in the end, is happy to be rescued and returned to the white family. Though the pimps in TAXI DRIVER are swarthy-white, they were originally meant to be black in Paul Schrader’s screenplay, which means that Schrader was troubled by the possibility that a white girl could be content to be a sex slave of the Negro. How is the white man to save the white girl from the monstrous Negro if the white girl happily surrenders herself to sexual slavery under Pimp Mandingo? So, in a very twisted way, Bickle creates a fairytale of his own making in which he is the white knight in shining armor who saves the helpless white girl from horrible Negroes, when, in truth, she may never have wanted to be saved. The same idea runs through HARDCORE written and directed by Schrader where the puritanical small town father finally tracks down his daughter who was assumed to have been abducted by a sex slave gang but, in the final scene, confesses to having left of own accord to find freedom and liberation through debauchery. It’s as if white civilization went from the anxiety of defending white woman from savages to the resignation of realizing the white woman wants to go with savages, especially them Negroes. Paradoxically, the powerful will of white men to defend white women from savages may have turned white women onto savages. In trying to shield white women from threats and danger, white man may have created an excessively sexually repressive and socially secure order that came to fill white women with repressed lust and fascination of what savages might offer them in the way of pleasure. If the savages had been a bunch of funny-looking pygmies or stubby Amazonian Indians, white women might not have lost their fascination but as the main savages in the fearful white male imagination became the musical, muscular, athletic, and big-penised Negroes, a whole bunch of white women began to shake their booties to the rhythms of jungle fever, especially as Jews took over popular culture and disseminated the cult of black sexual/athletic/musical jivery all around. Though this Jew-Negro alliance has posed a grave threat to the pride and power of white males, white males have been castrated by ‘white guilt’ to do anything about it. In TAXI DRIVER, Bickle ‘loses’ Betsy to the liberal wasp Palantine and to the Jew played by Albert Brooks, and he notices that Iris is owned by Sport, a white-man-as-honorary-‘nigger’. He knows he can’t get any respect from the ‘better sort of people’ in town, so he banks his hopes on Iris even though she’s not asking for his help. Because she’s just a young prostitute, one of the dregs of society, whereas he’s an adult member of society with a regular job, she can’t pull rank on him as Betsy did. And she sort of comes to like him because he’s so ‘weird’ and different from the kind of people she usually deals with as her managers and clients. Even if for twisted reasons, Bickle does express a sincere concern for her welfare that no one else she met in NY probably did. That Bickle does sow some seeds of moral doubt in her is apparent in the scene where she slow-dances with Sport; we see her questioning if she is indeed doing something that is good and right. Bickle’s concern for Iris is as ‘selfmore’ as selfless. There are two ways people can feel the power: to go amongst the winners or the losers. If one makes it into the world of winners, one can feel the power as a fellow winner. Failing to do that, the other way is to go amongst the losers. As the saying goes, "In the land of the blind, one-eyed man is king." Though the idea of helping people is understood to be selfless, the fact that one is in a position to help others implies one has power over them. Even an un-athletic loser adult can volunteer to teach basketball to a bunch of retarded children and suddenly feel like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Indeed, it’s much harder to attain the feeling of power among winners than among losers. Among winners, one has to prove oneself as being worthy of hanging with the best of the best. But even an average person can go among the dummies and feel like Einstein. It’s like the guy in IDIOCRACY, though utterly mediocre in everything, finds himself to be the most intelligent man on the planet in the idiocratic future; indeed, he comes to be hailed as the savior of mankind. This is where Ayn Rand perhaps misread the true agenda behind altruism. She thought it was about schmucks being selfless in order to help others, but she underestimated how even schmucks can feel the surge of importance and power by going amongst the dummies and retardos and playing the role of their savior and leader. Jim Jones certainly enjoyed playing messiah to his loser flock.) In some regards, TAXI DRIVER may owe more to a film like POINT BLANK by John Boorman than to the films of Peckinpah. POINT BLANK also walks the razor’s edge between subjectivity and detachment. Too much subjectivity makes us identify with psychopaths and killers. Too much detachment makes it dead and dull; and too much identification with the victims makes it overly preachy and didactic. One of the greatness of GOODFELLAS is Scorsese’s razor-sharp balancing act between subjectivity and objectivity. Too much subjectivity would pull us into the amoral minds of gangsters and share their sick sense of fun. It would be like playing ‘gangster for a day’ at a theme park. But too much objectivity would block us from prying into the gangster mind and seeing how it ticks. Scorsese sought to enter and explore the gangster world from the inside without surrendering himself to its temptations of easy money, thrills, and glamour — but then, there is also the wink-wink hint that one of the reasons why Scorsese was able to resist such criminal temptation was because he succeeded as an artist, which is a kind of a creative gangster as both criminal gangsters and creative gangsters generally play by their own rules, choose their own objectives, and disdain the 9-to-5 routine as being for the suckers and the birds. One of the ways Scorsese intersected subjectivity with objectivity was tweaking our awareness of the ever-shifting barriers between genre-reality and social reality; thus, unlike gangsters in most movies — including THE GODFATHER movies — , the gangsters of GOODFELLAS don’t merely inhabit a self-enclosed ‘gangster world’ but seem to be our next-door neighbors, the very people who might hire your daughter to babysit their kids. Another way was through a deft handling of surprise in the use of violence. Coppola’s use of violence with THE GODFATHER was masterly, but it was orchestrated to be operatic, splashy, or spectacular. In contrast, we don’t know when the hit’s gonna happen in GOODFELLAS, and even when we do sense something’s about to go down, we don’t know what or when. GOODFELLAS begins with three guys in a car taking it easy and then they hear a sound, which takes us by surprise. When they pull over and we hear groans coming from the trunk, we know it’s gonna be something ugly, but we don’t expect the full ferocity of Tommy’s(Joe Pesci) attack on the already bloodied body, followed by pounding gunshots from Jimmy(De Niro). Tommy pops out of nowhere to beat the living crap out of Billy Batts, and Jimmy, who’d been schmoozing with Batts, joins in. We are jolted when Samuel Jackson’s character gets his head blown off. Or when Tommy is assassinated as the newly ‘made’ guy. Henry(Ray Liotta) wakes up to find a pistol aimed at his face by his wife. We are made to believe that Jimmy decided against killing Morris the wig guy, but the hit happens suddenly anyway. Even the discovery of dead bodies killed off-screen comes with an element of surprise. For instance, take the scene where a bunch of kids slowly gather around an object, and the object turns out to be a pink Cadillac with a dead couple. And in the final part of the film, the non-stop tension derives from Henry and his wife’s sense that they might be killed anywhere at anytime by anyone. (CASINO, in contrast, is less effective as a moral guide to violence as much of the violence is of the laughing kind and/or lacks the element of surprise except at the end when Nicky and his brother get beaten with baseball bats. All this talk of the element of surprise reminds us of what Hitchcock said of suspense vs surprise, i.e. suspense is knowing that a bomb is under the table whereas surprise is the bomb that no one knew about exploding. Of course, as the master of suspense, Hitchcock was implying that suspense is worthier material for a true artist/entertainer than surprise, which any kid can pull off by sneaking behind someone and popping a balloon. Even a hack horror director can pull off lots of surprises by having a monster jump into the frame and holler. In contrast, suspense requires narrative form, preparation, and meticulous execution; everything has to fall into place. For the sake of entertainment, Hitchcock was surely right, especially as most uses of surprise have been in cheapie horror movies.
But, Scorsese’s films show the limits of suspense as a moral guide when art is to be used as a reflection of reality. Suspense may be masterfully engineered by someone like Hitchcock and Coppola, but there is an element of cheap thrills in its manipulation of our emotions. The bloodletting in THE GODFATHER may be masterfully orchestrated, but the ‘pure cinema’ machinations make it entertaining than enlightening, and as a result, we find ourselves enjoying the mayhem a little too much. Thus, the ugliness of violence and death has been transformed into a kind of opera or spectacle. No such pleasure can be derived from the violence in GOODFELLAS when the grisly killings happen when we least expect them — and without the accompaniment of musical score or exaggerated sound effects. Though Scorsese was not the first to use violence in such manner, he may have done it better than just about anyone else with GOODFELLAS. He found a moral use for the element of surprise in violence, which had mostly been used for cheap effects in cheapie horror flicks and dumb action movies. Also, and even more remarkably, Scorsese showed how the use of surprise could be just as artistic and brilliant as the orchestration of suspense. In the hands of a master, surprise isn’t merely blowing up a balloon behind someone’s head but no less the product of careful preparation than in the case of suspense. We are taken by surprise over and over in GOODFELLAS because Scorsese planted the mines for us to step at just the right moments. He didn’t just go for surprise-surprise but maximum-surprise, a kind of con-game where one never knows what hit him.)
Anyway, we were saying something about how popular culture is now more pervasive and invasive than ever before. In the past, there was something like social values, local customs, and traditional institutions to partly check and counter the power of popular culture. Most children grew up in traditional families and even developed close ties with grandparents and kinfolk. So, lives were grounded in the reality of living, connecting, and dealing with real people and real powers(and family roots). And the power of the Church was greater, and the majority of people attended church on sundays. Back then, YMCA was something more than a place you went to work out, swim, or rent a room. Church organizations even had the means to pressure the entertainment industry to uphold moral standards and self-censor things that might cause social harm. Also, children grew into adulthood faster. Childhood lasted into the early teens and then one was suddenly an adult. Most kids went to work right after high school or even quit school to begin work. This was true of both whites and Negroes. But with the growing prosperity of the post-war period, kids began to have their own bedrooms and then their own radios, record players, and TV sets. It’s like Benjamin Braddock in THE GRADUATE locking himself in his room in the manner of Brian Wilson’s ballad "In My Room". Also, the rise of youth culture encouraged young people to develop their own identities based on cultural fantasies, and these fantasies could be nurtured and indulged since, what with all the postwar prosperity and expansion/extension of higher education, young people didn’t have to work right away after high school. They could put off the future by staying in college. Or one could rely on one’s parents while one went off to ‘find oneself’. (This was certainly true of Bob Dylan who preferred to emulate Rock n’ Roll stars like Elvis Presley and movie stars like James Dean than help his dad out with the furniture store or study and get a degree to pursue a career in ‘plastics’. Eventually, Dylan found a more realistic hero to emulate in Woody Guthrie — a folkie who’d sung about ordinary people during the Great Depression — , but that too was a cultural fantasy as Guthrie had become a mythical icon with nostalgia value for those who’d hoped the crisis of capitalism during the 1930s would have paved the way for communist revolution. As such hopes had faded away by the late 50s and early 60s, Guthrie’s appeal was more mythical than real for a younger generation hungry for some kind of moral compass in life. To an extent, Dylan’s father was irritated by his son’s errant behavior and narcissistic self-indulgence, but another side of him was probably happy to see his boy enjoying the kind of life he never had. It’s like what Mr. Robinson in THE GRADUATE says to Ben: to take it easy and have a good time with the girls while you’re young. Indeed, many ‘Greatest Generation’ had a love/hate thing with their children. As they themselves had gone through hard times in their youth, they wanted their kids to be more responsible about life, more appreciative of the good life provided for them, and more realistic about the future. But they were also happy to see their children enjoying the kind of fun and freedom that had slipped them by during hard times. It’s like Mrs. Robinson wants to both help Benjamin have a good time and suck the blood out of him. She is both sympathetic to and envious of his youth.) Or, with the expansion of government programs and government jobs, one could work in dubious fields or subsist by means that severed one from the demands of reality. And the same could be said for all those NGO’s, which are mostly about privileged kids who wanna make believe they’re doing something good in the world by extorting money from the ruling class. Jeffrey Sachs is the poster-child of this kind of lifestyle: attend endless series of cocktail parties around the world and rub shoulders with ‘important people’ to make believe that one is engaging to fix world’s problems. Also, with the breakdown of the family and greater dependence among the people on either the government(especially among blacks, Hispanics, and ‘white trash’) or the entertainment industry(especially among the so-called privileged ‘creative class’) for their livelihoods, society was bound to become more and more divorced from reality. It is no wonder that rap culture has become the mainstream culture among blacks and why ‘gay marriage’ has become THE moral issue of our time among the privileged urban gentry. Every Negro lives, at least in his or her mind, the fantasy life of punkass thug stud or skanky bitchass ho, and every urban wiberal lives the fantasy life of ‘Fruit Knows Best’.

Anyway, every genre has its own rules of ‘fantasy reality’, and every artist has to play by those rules for it to work — in a similar way, basketball has to obey the rules of basketball as opposed to those of football or wrestling. So, VERTIGO must remain within the genre rules of romance-mystery-thriller and mustn’t shift into Mel Brooks’ PRODUCERS mode. STAGECOACH can’t suddenly break out into a musical dance number or have an alien space ship land in the middle of the desert. A mystery thriller cannot abandon its plot thread and turn into a mountain-climbing movie — unless the secret to the mystery is to be found at the top of the climb. To be sure, genre rules can be toyed with, expanded, distorted, subverted, or violated, but there has to be a purpose or some reason behind it, which is usually for comedic purposes as in AIRPLANE! Indeed, many movies incorporate and interweave elements of different genres. Especially in our pomo-cultural age, the mix-and-matching of various genres has become THE thing to do, which accounts for the popularity of Tarantino. Of course, long before Tarantino and his ilk got into the act, comedians like Mel Brooks and Woody Allen and experimental filmmakers like Godard had ‘subversively’ played with genres when doing so had a cachet of freshness and daring. The difference is that the earlier directors knew they were breaking the rules, whereas the likes of Tarantino are simply wallowing in what has become the new standard. Jean-Luc Godard was breaking barriers and going against the grain whereas Tarantino is piling his plate at a World Buffet and pigging out like a glutton.
It’s the difference between self-challenge and self-satisfaction, i.e. Godard was always trying to go beyond himself whereas Tarantino is perfectly happy in his pomo-potemkin-village-romper-room. Godard was truly eccentric whereas Tarantino is eclectic, but the problem of eclecticism is the shallowness, glibness, and vapidity. (Eclecticism sounds appealing as having interests in all sorts of things, and it is perfectly okay for a dilettante who wants to sample a bit of everything the world has to offer, but a true artist has to go beyond eclecticism as it lacks depth and commitment. It’s like if you really wanna learn something about love, you can’t just be swooning over every movie star. You have to meet real people, get to know them intimately, and mull over your own feelings about them. Being a fan of lots of handsome actors or pretty actresses is not what real love is about. Similarly, if you really want to become a French chef, you have to master the art of French cooking; you can’t be studying all the cuisines around the world equally. Of course, once you master French cooking, you can then try to expand its possibilities by adding new flavors and ingredients borrowed from other world cuisines. But, to be meaningfully good at something, you must have real commitment and go for depth. Otherwise, you’re just a dilettantish eclecticist. David Byrne, as a member of Talking Heads, was a genuinely intelligent and talented composer, but his eclecticism robbed his music of anything like passion or vision; it was just cleverness-on-ice, even if brilliant at times. When I say an artist must resist eclecticism, I don’t mean he has to only focus on or master one thing; it’s good for artists to know as much as possible. Rather, I mean that he has to understand the limits of human time/knowledge and fully master something he really cares about than play at mini-mastering everything, which is to master nothing. Some might mention Bob Dylan as a great eclecticist, but nothing could be further from the truth. Though Dylan had wide-ranging interest in different kinds of music, in history and literature, and fine arts — he even took up painting — , he had genuine passion for them; he was not merely sampling them. As BASEMENT TAPES demonstrated, Dylan was digging deep into the roots of American music, in some ways digging even beyond the original artists of the forgotten past had done, i.e. he was digging into the psychological roots whence it might have sprouted. Also, Dylan had a powerfully integrative mind that discovered, at the deeper psycho-cultural level, connections among things that were thought to be separate, incompatible, or opposite. Dylan found integrative links among the energies and matters of folk music — to the shrieking horror of leftist purists for whom folk music was to be used a weapon of unambiguous consciousness-raising — , blues music, Rock n Roll music, French Symbolist poetry, religion, history, psychology, romance, hipster culture, American novels, western myths, and etc. Had Dylan been a mere eclecticist, the creative product of his wide-ranging curiosity would have been just a clever pastiche, a hipster collage of whatever struck his nerve or fancy, like so many vapidly sterile works at museums of contemporary art — indeed Todd Haynes I’M NOT THERE is so awful and off-the-mark because it treats Dylan as a series of superficial ‘signs’ when, in fact, all of his ‘guises’ are united and flowing as a single current within his soul. Instead, Dylan’s approach was essentially psychological and ‘spiritual’, i.e. he found the connections at the depths than on the surface. A mix of Freudian psychology and country music would sound stupid on the surface level, but "Lay Lady Lay" is a sublime fusion of seemingly culturally-and-intellectually incompatible elements joined in the realm of dreams; as Luis Bunuel’s nightmare sequence in LOS OLVIDADOS showed, the dreamworld is where the whore can be the madonna and vice versa. Dylan was one of the most ‘intellectual’ of rock artists, but the true power of his creative thought arose from the depth of his emotions, the deep water ocean in which everything separate and different could dissolve into one. In this sense, there’s something similar between BASEMENT TAPES and Andrei Tarkosky’s STALKER. Dylan and the Band’s album scavenges upon the ‘cultural junk’ of the forgotten past, and the recurring image in Tarkovsky’s film is a wasteland strewn with ‘garbage’. Yet, the creative juices of Dylan and the Band work like enzymes on the ‘junk’, breaking it down and churning it into cultural nutrients. And the element of water in STALKER is seen to be reclaiming man-made garbage and artifacts and purifying them back into sacred nature, an imagery that might have inspired the environmental themes of Hayao Miyazaki’s NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND. It is in this sense that Dylan has to be be understood as a ‘spiritual’ artist. Long before he took up Jesus and/or Zionism, his creative approach was as emotional as intellectual. Even though many people think that Dylan’s forte was as a writer, his greatest achievement was the ‘mercurial’ sound of BLONDE ON BLONDE that melted and melded thoughts and things in ways that no one had conceived of before in popular music or in ‘serious’ music for that matter. While most of the songs on BLONDE ON BLONDE are about love affairs, Dylan was less interested in expressing the sentiments of love than in exploring the labyrinths of love, gaining an understanding of love as a kind of dark mythology.)
That the perimeters of the genre can be stretched to accommodate serious themes is nothing new. Even so, certain demands of the genre must be met for its universe of interconnected meanings to be sustained. For example, Westerns, even the so-called ‘anti-Westerns’, must end with a shootout. (Of course, we must keep in mind that not every film about the West belongs in the Western genre, just like not every film about gangsters is a ‘gangster movie’. SCARFACE is a gangster movie whereas GOODFELLAS isn’t — it’s really a film ABOUT gangsters. To be sure, a work can be both a ‘gangster movie’ and a film about gangsters, straddling both genre filmmaking and ‘art’ filmmaking: THE GODFATHER for example. And a work can be both a Western and a film about the west, like Raoul Walsh’s THE BIG TRAIL.)
Mystery stories must reveal the secret at the end of the trail. Its refusal will understandably upset the audience, as was the case of L’AVVENTURA, but then, Antonioni’s film was not a romance-mystery and was only mis-perceived as such at the initial showing at Cannes Film Festival, where the crowd booed at its lack of closure; it may have been the most famous case of mistaken identity in cinema, a film so disaffected and puzzling that many in the audience grabbed at the crutch of ‘mystery’ genre, only to fall over when it didn’t take them to where they thought they were going. Even though the lack of closure is integral to the meaning of L’AVVENTURA, I suspect Antonioni mischievously expected the audience to be upset and indeed probably engineered the plot so as to fool the audience into feeling ‘betrayed’, thus vindicating his aura as a ‘radical’ artist too ahead of his time to be properly appreciated, and of course, critics and scholars soon got the hint, and it wasn’t long before L’AVVENTURA was hailed as one of the most important films ever made: it made onto the Sight and Sound Ten-Greatest-Films-List only two years after its release. Antonioni probably knew what kind of stunt he was pulling with the film, just like the male character in the film intentionally knocks over the ink on the drawing sheet of a young architect, all the while professing his innocence.
Genre expectations have a way of limiting what we are willing to accept from movies. Over time, unfortunately, ‘art films’ have developed their own set of familiar tropes and quasi-formulas, whereby some cinephiles feel cheated if an ‘art film’ happens to be ‘too accessible’ or ‘conventional’. Thus, what had once been daring, different, and meaningful with Antonioni’s breakthrough film became a kind of ‘ideological’ fetish, what with every other lame feminist film student trying to make her own Chantal-Akerman-ish film. It has become a form of thought-control mechanism that boxes in young impressionable minds into a mode of thinking and feeling that is thought to be correctly radical, i.e. to be ‘radical’ not in terms of breaking out of the prevailing orthodoxy but in succumbing to its preordained rules of what is good and what is bad, what is useful and what is useless, what is to be permitted and what is to be banned. However one may feel about Leni Riefenstahl or Lina Wertmuller, any honest person who knows anything about cinema should be able to tell they were infinitely greater artists than Chantal Akerman, but Akerman has become the Janet-Napolitano-like favorite among the politically-corrected elites of the cinephile community simply because she’s Jewish, lesbian, Marxist, and feminist — indeed, you are required to like her if you want to be considered a true member of this sickly cloistered community, just as you better be for ‘gay community’ if you wanna work in the film-and-theater departments and institutions across this country; it’s like insipid fools who go around making noises about how much they love reggae music, and if you don’t share their enthusiasm, you must be a ‘racist’, which is like saying you better like German opera or you’re anti-German. (The politics of enthusiasm is the new intolerance of the so-called ‘progressive’ community. It’s not enough for you to tolerate different people liking different things. Instead, you must ‘welcome’ and love what the ‘good progressive people’ embrace and love, or else you’re a ‘racist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘xenophobe’, and etc. You must worship MLK, you must revere Oprah, you must like rap music or at least show it respect, you must like Chantal Akerman, you must like ‘gay pride parades’ and wave the ‘gay rainbow flag’ — and you must never question what two guys porking each other in the fecal holes has to do with the miracle of the rainbow — , and you must like Obama, or else, you must be some of Tea Party terrorist who is hatching a plot to blow stuff up. So, if you want a leg up in the cultural community, you better like all the stuff that the ‘good’ people like. You must have the proper enthusiasm, just like every good person living in a communist nation had to prove that he wasn’t merely okay with communism but loved, loved, and loved Big Brother. It’s like the funny couple in THE SURE THING who demand that everyone in the car sing show tunes because if you don’t, YOU are spoiling all the fun. As a corollary to enforced enthusiasm is the obligatory vehemence that one must have toward certain things. So, even though THE BIRTH OF A NATION is one of the greatest and most important films ever made, almost no one mentioned it — or most works of D.W. Griffith — in the Sight and Sound Greatest Films List. Even those who wanted put it on their lists chose not to lest they be seen as ‘racists’ for not sharing the obligatory vehemence against it. And if you like Richard Wagner’s music, you must always qualify your partiality with a long tirade about you are so very, totally, and absolutely appalled by Wagner’s antisemitism — indeed, there is a whole cottage industry in journalism that goes on and on about how Wagner, despite his genius, was an evil-evil-evil man and how, even as we are overwhelmed by his music, we must always be mindful to pinch ourselves and remind ourselves to hate, hate, and hate him some more. But notice that there’s no problem with extreme enthusiasm shown for films like MAN WITH MOVIE CAMERA, EARTH, and BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN even though they were made by enthusiastic supporters/propagandists of the bloody Soviet Revolution that killed millions of people; indeed, if anything, film scholars and college professors overlook most of the horrors of communism — which get only cursory mentions — and rhapsodize about the aesthetics of Soviet cinema. In other words, we must never approach and appreciate the works of Wagner, Griffith, and Riefenstahl purely from an aesthetic perspective and always be mindful that their expressions were part and parcel of their ‘racism’, antisemitism, and fascism, BUT, we can overlook the ideology and horrors of communism when we gush about the works of Sergei Eisenstein, Alexander Dovzhenko, and Dziga Vertov. Similarly in business, we must never forget that Henry Ford was a ‘notorious anti-Semite’, but it would be ‘paranoid’ and ‘McCarthyite’ to point out that many powerful Jewish tycoons of the past were anti-Christian, anti-white, anti-gentile, anti-Palestinian, anti-American, and/or even may have aided and abetted foreign enemies, as in the case of Armand Hammer who did business with the Soviets just when they were killing millions of Christian Slavs. I don’t deny the greatness of Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov as film artists, but it is interesting how it’s perfectly okay for people to express the most feverish enthusiasm for certain artists associated with certain ‘historical crimes’ while it’s not okay to show even muted enthusiasm for certain artists associated with certain other ‘historical crimes’. In a nutshell, it’s because Jews and ‘leftists’ rule the roost in the cultural affairs in the West, whereby it’s perfectly okay for anyone to praise a Jew or leftist whose career was associated with ‘historical crimes’ of the Left, but it’s not okay to do the same with someone on the Right.)

Anyway, it appears Malick wanted to be free of all such restrictions of genre filmmaking and ‘art’ filmmaking. Thus, TREE OF LIFE can be seen as science fiction, family drama, childhood movie, soap opera, religious movie, quasi-documentary, historical epic, autobiography, New Age fantasy, or whatever. (Terrence Malick appears to be positioning himself as the Walt Whitman of cinema, and his TREE OF LIFE is supposed to be like LEAVES OF GRASS, or maybe Frames of Grace. But TREE OF LIFE channels Walt Disney no less than Walt Whitman, and some of its high concept kitschy elements may have been drawn from FANTASIA. Disney’s epic, as bloated and pompous as it is in parts, was to animation what 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was later to science fiction: a giant leap beyond what was thought possible, and it still remains the greatest feat of animation ever conceived, and on that note, is justly appreciated and remembered, but within a few years, anyone with sense should realize that Malick broke no new grounds with TREE OF LIFE and only fooled a lot of people with the sheer unprecedentedness of its scope. It’s like entering a giant mall and being wowed by the sheer size of the place, only to realize after the initial excitement that there isn’t anything worth buying on the mostly empty shelves.) Though a member of the boomer generation, Malick strives to transcend the categories of historical time, which may be one reason why TREE OF LIFE is big on cosmic time and personal time but almost totally ignores historical time, as if history, as the artificial construct or constriction of time by man, stands in the way between the individual soul and cosmic consciousness, which was perhaps one of the reasons why THIN RED LINE and THE NEW WORLD had little use for politics — and all this stuff about ‘time’ may owe something to Malick’s long immersion as a philosophy student in the works of Martin Heiddeger; for Malick, the main moral or ‘spiritual’ issue seems not to be the conflict between the ‘left’ and ‘right’ but the problem of civilization standing as a mechanical clock/bulwark between the organic time as ‘known’ by cosmos and felt by the personal soul. Indeed, most of TREE OF LIFE is about the limitless ocean of cosmic time, a boy’s wading in the puddles of personal time, and an adult’s striving to connect with the rivers of time. We see how the history of the West changes in THE NEW WORLD, DAYS OF HEAVEN, THIN RED LINE, BAD LANDS, and TREE OF LIFE — consider the different kinds of tools, clothes, homes, gadgets, weapons, vessels, and etc. with the march of ‘progress’ — , but it’s as if Malick considers most manifestations of history to be mere props that should never be mistaken for the true drama of time, which is infinitely and intimately the same, that if we were to let go of our narrow cultural, political, and historical egos, we would realize that we are all part of a single unity of time. In generational terms, it’s as if Malick is reaching out to the younger people with the message that it’s wrong and misleading to see history in terms of this generation as opposed to that generation, i.e. if we scratch the surface of history and ego, then is now and now is then and you are me and I am you and we are one big family, just like the Barney the gay dinosaur said, and perhaps, this is why Malick, more than most film artists of his generation, has become something of a cult item among young people who have no direct connection to the 60s; if some boomers seem stuck in the attitudes and outlooks of their generation — even fighting the old battles as if they still matter — , it seems as if Malick has moved beyond all that, and this is especially apparent in the fact that all of his films take place away from the seismic core of boomer generation — the late 60s and early 70s. Oliver Stone made three movies about Vietnam whereas Malick chose to make a film about World War II, the discovery of America, and life on the farm in the early part of the 20th century; just as Dylan moved away from the counterculture scene and committed himself to family life just when things were getting very hot, it’s as though Malick always preferred to do his own thing and think his own thoughts than be part of his generation’s ‘movement’; and perhaps, Dylan and Malick felt this way because, even as they found success in the urban/urbane world of popular culture or academia, they had small town roots(far away from the major cultural centers such as New York or Los Angeles) that they never could let go of totally; Dylan, though very Jewishly Jewish by nature, spent much of his time in NY by imitating the NY Jew, and even though he did the ‘New York Jew’ better than real NY Jews did, it was partly an act as he was really a small-town-Jew; Jewish zeligishness generally imitated non-Jews, so it must have been surreal for a small-town Jew to zeligishly do the big city Jew act via the way of the hillbilly and Negro. And if the common hue and cry among the boomers to their parents was "we are NOT like you", the kid in TREE OF LIFE says to his father that he is ‘bad’ too, i.e. he comes to a realization that the problem isn’t simply one of generations and fathers-and-sons but of the problems of human nature rooted in the evolution of life that developed from the tumor of ‘nature’ that ruptured from the soul of the cosmos or something like that.

With TREE OF LIFE, Malick also strove for the fulfilment of cinema as a total art incorporating and subsuming all other forms. Thus, the film is painterly, architectural, musical(in use of music and visual rhythms and patterns), journalistic, essay-istic, poetic, lyrical, balletic, and etc. As if that wasn’t ambition or conceit enough, it also strained to be the fulfilment of cinema as a unique expression beyond not only other art forms but what the history of cinema has offered up thus far. But if one was gonna be that ambitious, one might as well have taken it even further, and of course, Malick did that too, which is why TREE OF LIFE was meant to be both the cinema as culmination of all that had gone before and cinema as starting-from-scratch, as if in happy amnesia of past film history. Thus, TREE OF LIFE is supposed to work as a treasure trove of references that reminds us of the great masterpieces of the past, while, at the same time, seeming so utterly new and fresh with its ‘uncertain’ styles and rhythms that lend the impression that new cinema was invented in 2011 and TREE OF LIFE was the first film ever made in the purest spirit of innocent delight and delirium; it’s as if cinema has come full circle through the genius of Malick as both the old man going out and the new baby coming in with the New Year.
Malick was so busy tossing together so many ideas(most of them half-baked) and images(most of them fully-flaked) that he lost sight of what he was doing and got just caught up in the doing-ness of it all. It’s all just an artsy variation of FORREST GUMP, which, to be sure, didn’t so much transcend genres as indulge every one of them in the hoary manner of something-for-everyone(or every sucker), but the overall effect of both movies is too-muchness-in-service-of-goo. (If some genres make natural pairs — romance and mystery or science fiction and action thriller — , certain combinations are too contradictory to resolve. Two prominent examples are JFK and SCHINDLER’S LIST. The subject of Stone’s film is scandalous and the subject of Spielberg’s is harrowing; so, what were Stone and Spielberg doing
mixing and tenderizing such tough material with Frank Capra-ism? I suppose it worked in terms of commercialism as both were huge hits, but the subjects of both films were badly compromised and even betrayed by their copout peddling of soft sentimentalism. The only way JFK could have worked as art is if the character of Jim Garrison [Kevin Costner] had been conceived of as a deeply flawed and compromised — and even corrupt — person himself. That way, as with the character of Jack Nicholson in CHINATOWN, his hunt for the truth would have had shades of personal redemption — as well as self-aggrandizement that comes all too naturally to the larger-than-life personalties of Louisiana — that would have made the conflict more interesting and personal, as is the case in Robert Redford’s best film THE CONSPIRATOR. And it would have been more believable — as well as closer to how things actually were and happened. Instead, we were fed the notion that there’s this one good pure man up against the system; it was the stuff of liberal do-goody fantasy, not the stuff of art. One part of Stone has the soul of an artist, digging into hidden corners and aspects of American history that offer no easy comfort to neither the Right or Left, but another side of Stone is a natural populist, propagandist, and snake-oil salesman. There’s a contradiction at the heart of Stone that’s rarely been resolved: on the one hand, he challenges us to look beyond the conventional wisdom and narrative — prodding us to be more intelligent and skeptical than we normally are — , but another side of Stone is eager to drown us in simplistic emotionalism, as he knows full well that if people really used their brains, they couldn’t possibly buy into the BS he’s peddling. Unfortunately, Stone’s most intensely thoughtful films, NIXON and HEAVEN & EARTH, were box-office bombs, whereas his unholy combinations of overdrive courage and craven cliches, PLATOON, WALL STREET, and JFK, have been his biggest successes, thus encouraging his worst and most dishonest instincts. Half of PLATOON was a necessary corrective to the mindless we-win-this-time-nostalgia-fantasy of RAMBO and even to the rather bloated Vietnam epics like DEER HUNTER and APOCALYPSE NOW, but the other half reduced the moral conflict of Vietnam into a childish fairytale of angel-on-my-left-shoulder-and-devil-on-my-right-shoulder. WALL STREET tackled the issue of financial corruption and greed but sensationalized the material was, at once, a total monster and total badass but nothing in between that was recognizably human. JFK could have been a fascinating foray through the culture of paranoia surrounding American politics but was turned into something like Mr.-Smith-Finds-Out-Who-Really-Offed-Kennedy. Stone is someone who asks us to be more intelligent but doesn’t trust our intelligence as it might disagree with his world-view. So, he wants to provoke our thoughts ONLY TO THE EXTENT that we may agree with HIS ‘contrarian’ view of the world. It’s no wonder that he identifies with figures like Alexander the Great, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and etc. Each was a ‘great man’ who inspired the people to challenge history... but never the Great Man himself. Spielberg isn’t the naturally swaggering braggart that Stone is, but he also has a problem with art because he’s always been too invested in the redemptive and/or manipulative power of sentimental emotions. Compare SCHINDLER’S LIST with Gillo Pontecorvo’s KAPO. In its physical details, Spielberg’s movie may be closer to the actual truth of what happened in the Nazi death camps, but Spielberg doesn’t have the guts to take a cold hard look into the human heart. Earlier in his career, it was because he was slow to mature emotionally, but nowadays, it’s because he knows full well that the pulling of emotional strings is one of the most effective ways to infantilize and control the hearts and minds of goyim. We are to take on faith the goodness and nobility of the Jewish victims as if all Jews are born to be good and live nobly to face death as saints. In truth, even good people can be dehumanized under abject fear and terror. But Spielberg is too invested in the holy Holocaust narrative to consider the possibility that some of the Jews in the camps could have acted horribly and miserably themselves. I don’t say this to fault the Jews who lost their humanity in the death camps as most of us would likely lose our humanity under even less stress, but it is a fact that what we call ‘humanity’ or ‘humanness’ is a fragile entity. Perfectly normal Ukrainians who loved their families were reduced to killing and devouring their own children during the Great Famine. Even people who would never think of eating dogs and cats might do so if they faced starvation. Even people who abhor violence can be driven to violent acts if traumatized badly enough. The enlightened and democratic British, in bitter war with Germany, carpet-bombed entire cities and killed countless number of women and children; we can all easily be dehumanized and act like monsters under duress. This was the greatness of Pontecorvo’s vison in KAPO, as was the case with Lina Wertmuller’s in SEVEN BEAUTIES. The Jewish girl just barely hangs onto her humanity and, along the way, does terrible things herself and even comes close to losing her humanity. One might say Spielberg lurched into a morally ambiguous territory with MUNICH, but the film is rigged as a rationalization of Zionist revenge on the Arab terrorists, especially as it fails to take into account why the Palestinians were furious with the Jews in the first place, i.e. the Arab-Israeli conflict didn’t begin in 1972 in Germany but in the first half of the 20th century when the World Jewry, with their backers among the great imperialist powers, engineered the massive ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Incidentally, what happened to the Palestinians might prove to be a picnic compared to what the International Jews have in store for white peoples of America and Europe, and perhaps it’s comeuppance for the white race for its crime of aiding the Jewish race to dispossess and oppress the Palestinian people who never did anyone no harm. On the other hand, the movie audiences seem to go for that stuff, so from a purely economic viewpoint, horseshit is worth its weight in gold. Sidney Lumet made one of the most consistently honest and intelligent films about cops in PRINCE OF THE CITY, but it completely flopped at the box office, which means much of the blame must fall on the audiences. Today, more often than not, educated people and even intellectuals consider stuff like SOPRANOS, MADMEN, and THE WIRE as ‘great art’. Any honest appraisal should note the shameless and manipulative formula beneath their veneer of sophistication and/or gritty realism. The problem isn’t formula as formula but formula packaged and sold as ‘art’ and ‘smart people’ chattering about that stuff as THE crucial discussion material in the Zeitgeist that’s really controlled by the Jewish powers-that-be. The highschool herd mentality of what’s-hot-n-what’s-not pervades ‘intellectual’ culture more than ever.)

TREE OF LIFE also questions the meaning of plot structure. Every story begins and ends somewhere, but where does or did ‘it’ — the story of everything — all begin and where does ‘it’ all end? Most books enter into the life of an adult person already in progress, and the time frame of the story is measured in days, weeks, months, or few years. Even when it’s a long novel, it’s rarely about the entire life of a person. And this is even truer in movies as even a five hour movie can cover only so much ground. When movies span a long period of time, it is mostly by exclusion than inclusion. Compare GRAPES OF WRATH the novel with the movie. Or the novel and film versions of SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION. (I suspect part of the reason TREE OF LIFE eschewed realism was Malick felt the best way to link Now with Forever was by off-setting the balance of perspective. Thus, the camera always seems to be sliding off from the central action or situation. Even in the ‘now’ reality at the dinner table in Waco, Texas, the perspectives keep shifting and no emotional tone is allowed to command the scene. It’s as if Malick is trying to undermine the idea of narrative authority. For example, the father tries to play the role of ‘man of the house’, has his own narrative of destiny as a successful/important man, and wants his wife and sons to obey and respect him, but this narrative is undermined by disappointments with his career, legal problems, his wife’s ‘spoiling’ of his sons, and his sons’ lack of proper respect for his authority. The father feels sort of like God with the Jews who were too often acting like the Marx Brothers and making Him mad. In most movies, there’s a sense of ‘authority’ built around the narrative of the ‘main character’, i.e. Michael Corleone commands the attention and the narrative of most of THE GODFATHER, and FORREST GUMP is mostly about the feelings, moods, dreams, and hopes of its eponymous character. In visual terms, the main characters are generally placed in the center of the frame throughout the film. In TREE OF LIFE, the camera is in constant elision mode. The ‘authoritative’ accent goes missing as the images slip, skip, and slide around the characters. If TREE OF LIFE had focused more firmly on the ‘authority’ of its central characters, it might have been more jarring to then match their lives with that of the cosmos. But since TREE OF LIFE doesn’t so much fixate on the characters as on the ‘higher reality’ flowing through and around them, one could argue that the true ‘main character’ of the film is this restlessly ‘spiritual’ essence around them, and this essence is the very ether of the cosmos. For me, it seemed like just an excuse not to make a proper movie. It was a case of a semi-interesting conceit taken to cancerous extremes, letting it grow and grow out of control, like Tetsuo at the end of AKIRA. Orson Welles showed how one can have powerful characters and gripping storylines AND also convey a sense of a skewed reality that questions the ‘authority’ of the reality presented before us — consider the final scene of TOUCH OF EVIL and the opening scene of MR. ARKADIN. He did it through all sorts of masterly tricks borrowed from theater, magic, radio, and fine arts. The leap in time from when Kane is a young boy to when he’s an adult has both visual authority and visual ‘subversion’, as is the case with the grand leap in time in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Welles wasn’t the sort to take a single concept and blow it up into the biggest soap bubble of all time. There was a sense of playfulness in his approach even with the most serious films whereas Malick seems afflicted with a puritanical disdain for humor.) Fictions pull us out of our minds/bodies and make us share in the lives of others but also create a sense of enclosed reality, a comfort zone shut off the larger reality of history, not to mention the cosmos. Indeed, it is no wonder that so many people wanna escape into the world of fiction. Reality is open-ended with no real beginning and end whereas the fictional world has not only its rules but its fences. Fiction is a pathway that takes us away from our narrow personal realities, but paradoxically, the appeal of fictional reality, more often than not, is in its enclosed nature, i.e. it’s usually the one where the ‘good guys’ always win and ends happily ever after; or even if it ends badly, it’s made to be meaningfully, thus therapeutically, tragic, as tragedy is a form of therapy. Fiction is like vacation. Vacation isn’t about taking leave of routine reality to face a larger and more challenging reality but about secluding oneself in idyllic reality where all the real troubles of the world are blocked out, unless the cruise ship becomes stranded at sea, in which it turns into a ship of uber-reality. Though fiction offers lots of conflicts, they are of entertaining and escapist nature than thorny or troubling nature. Fiction is like going to a football game; no matter how violent the action, it’s only fun for the spectator; in contrast, being robbed by a stickup man many involve less violence but it’s really to be mugged by reality. A movie can be about crooks stealing a million dollars and loaded with bloody violence, but none of it fazes the viewer who is caught up in the thrill; but even if someone was robbed of only $10 at knife point and escaped without physical harm, his or her view of reality could have been affected profoundly. So, fiction generally does a poor job of making us aware of reality. Generally speaking, we seek fiction not to go and know beyond ourselves but to hide inside ourselves — the woman characters of Fellini’s THE WHITE SHEIK and Allen’s PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO indulge in fiction not to know more of reality but to hide from reality via photo-books or movies that pander to their private fantasies of happy romance and flawless heroes. (Works of ‘art’, with their more ‘honest’ and ‘less compromised’ commitment to exploring and understanding the truth — political, social, historical, moral, psychological, spiritual, ethical, and etc. — , would have us believe that they are different from works of genre catering to escapist fantasies of the masses, but ‘art’ too is a form of escapism for, ultimately, it imposes shape and meaning on its view of reality. Also, art operates by selection, favoring certain things and aspects of reality over others, but then, I suppose all of life is kind of like ‘fiction’ or ‘art’ since our minds are constantly ‘editing’ reality and selecting/preserving for memory or attention things that have special meaning for our preferred views of reality. So, Israelis and Palestinians have different reality-movies running inside their minds even as they share much the same physical reality, and conservatives favor certain factoids to sustain their narrative of American history while liberals favor different ones for their own purposes. Even so, we need to make a distinction between real artists who seek and ask the tough questions and bogus ‘artists’ who have a priori view of the world and merely use the veneer of ambiguity, ‘fairminded-ness’, complexity, and sophistication to fool us that we are watching thoughtful art than sham propaganda. John Sayles was a real artist with BABY, IT’S YOU but mostly a bogus artist with films like MATEWAN and LONE STAR. The somber tone and serious acting may fool the audience into thinking that they’re watching realistic depictions of how America-really-was or America-really-is, but both works really begin with the conclusion that ‘communist agitators were noble and big business was evil’ and ‘Gringo males are bad and the only good white person is one who works against the interests of his own race’. And the same goes for SOCIAL NETWORK, which is little more than an apologia for the Jewish-weasel-will-to-power but pretends to be a multi-faceted and thoughtful study of business and power in the internet age. Fiction-as-art was once seen as a necessary antidote to fiction-as-fantasy, but Jews and others have perfected ‘art-isms’ to lend the mere impression of complexity upon what are really formulaic or simple-minded works with propagandistic messages. A good example would be DO THE RIGHT THING. Spike Lee is obviously a black-power-ist who favors his own people and has ready-made excuses for all the foul deeds of jigger-jivers. But if he said so, he wouldn’t be taken seriously as an ‘artist’, and so, he created some quasi-complex white characters who aren’t out-and-out ‘racists’, thus fooling us into believing that we are watching a thoughtful and ‘fair-minded’ social drama instead of just another jive-ass Negro propaganda. And same could be said for THE WIRE. Because of its gritty details, foul language, and violence, a lot of white liberals and conservatives thought they were watching a truly complex work of art. But if David Simon was really interested in hard questions about social inequality, why didn’t he touch on the subject of higher Ashkenazi Jewish I.Q. and Jewish social networking? If he wants to touch on the problems of black crime, why didn’t he dwell on the issue of how blacks naturally have harder muscles and more aggressive personalities? A true artist would ‘go there’, but Simon did not. So, THE WIRE is for those who wanna pretend that they have the courage to face the truth but don’t have the real courage to face the real truth. It’s for sham ‘thinkers’ like Francis Fukuyama who wouldn’t know a real work of art if one was shoved up his arse. MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE is a true work of art, but notice how it received far less attention than bogus works of ‘art’ like SOCIAL NETWORK, THE WIRE, and DO THE RIGHT THING. Worse of all are bogus ‘serious films’ like MARGIN CALL that, while pretending to take a hard look at the world of finance, spends most of its time ‘humanizing’ the Wall Street crooks as a bunch of hapless/clueless schmucks who really didn’t mean to do any harm and just got caught up in the mess and were PRESSURED by circumstances to commit unethical acts that they personally loathed. The final image of the movie is that of one of the financial workers digging a hole to bury his dead dog. Uhhhhh, poor poor baby! MARGIN CALL, like SOCIAL NETWORK and MUNICH, is sham social critique and indeed more an apologia for the financial sector that is run by Jews. Given the gravity of the economic problems stemming for Wall Street malfeasance during the 2000s, you’d think Hollywood — that pretends to be so socially conscious — would have made a lot of hard-biting movies about financial crimes, but why would rich Hollywood Jews go after their tribal brethren in Wall Street when indeed they are all joined at the hip, along with Jews who run the news media and Washington?) Consider the comforting romanticism of GONE WITH THE WIND — the movie, as I haven’t read the book. Though it’s about war, defeat, and deprivation, in the realm of fiction-land we don’t have to worry about lack of toilet paper and unwiped booties. And there’s no dangerous Negroes on the prowl even as the social order is breaking down. Even the tragedy is picturesque, as was the case with DOCTOR ZHIVAGO where even the ravages are ravishing. Even in gory war movies where people get shot and blown up, most characters conveniently vanish after they’ve been felled. BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY was a necessary corrective to most war movies in this regard; it dwelt on the aftereffect of war.

That every system is a self-enclosed fortress of meanings may be troubling for a cosmic soul-person like Malick. (What he finds appalling about ‘nature’ — the aggressive male principle of the universe — is its orientation not only toward conquest and dominance but toward exclusion, oppression, and ruthlessness. ‘Nature’ spreads all around not to share in and with everything but to own everything and impose its will onto it; the soldiers in the opening scene of THIN RED LINE and one of the white guys in THE NEW WORLD ‘go native’ and meld in with the edenic garden, but the civilizational forces behind them are essentially imperialistic; thus, the violent conflict in THIN RED LINE isn’t one of freedom-loving Americans vs militarist ‘Japs’ but one of American industrial imperialism vs Japanese industrial imperialism, with a noble ‘spiritual’ white man who fell in love with the primitives natives caught in between the two industrial powers. ‘Nature’, as male principle, is schlong-ish and seeks to penetrate and impose its genetic code onto everything; it tries to turn everything into a clone of itself, like with the CEO evil guy in MATRIX. ‘Grace’, as feminine principle, surrenders itself to everything; it is embracing and loving, and we could see this dichotomy in BADLANDS as well, with the aggressive male and passive female — though both were sociopathic to be sure. ‘Grace’ is nice, but the problem is it’s inactive and inert unless stimulated by the force of ‘nature’, and thus, even though it is the opposite of ‘nature’, it attracts and is attracted to ‘nature’. But this isn’t much of a problem in real cosmic nature and wild nature since there is a natural balance between ‘nature’ and ‘grace’ in a yin-yang manner in those realms; the real problem began when ‘nature’ was institutionalized into an iron hammer by the conscious will of man. If in cosmic nature and wild nature, there is a natural and cyclical ebb and flow between ‘nature’ and ‘grace’, mankind — at least civilized white mankind and some yellow ‘Japs’ — has hardened ‘nature’ into an ideology and value system whereby aggression, dominance, conformity, and exclusion have been enshrined into permanent values. But TREE OF LIFE went too far with its diatribe as its counter-ideal of manhood is for the white guy to be some lame flaky wussy, which may be why Roger Ebert, the white male reduced to submitting to Jews/gays/Negroes — just like Ken Burns does — , chose it as one of the ten greatest films ever for the 2012 Sight and Sound Poll. It is also contradictory for, even as Malick argues for letting go of the control-freak will of the male ‘nature’ principle, his film is the product of a male ego totally out-of-control.)
This male principle of ‘nature’ can be found among both the rich and old and among the young and poor. The Martin Sheen character in BADLANDS is a man of ‘nature’. He conquers the girl and traverses all over the land, but his soul is indifferent to the suffering of his victims. Same goes for Richard Gere’s character in DAYS OF HEAVEN. He’s poor and down-and-out but aggressive, self-centered, and ruthless — indeed more so than the rich landlord played by Sam Shepherd. Malick seems to see America as ‘nature’ in action. Consider the connective links between THE NEW WORLD and DAYS OF HEAVEN. White man came to conquer and expanded over vast territories. But instead of acting like ‘grace’ and surrendering to the pristine virgin soil of the Americas, whites built garrisons and imported the ‘oppressive’ and domineering ways to the New World. So, instead of touching Indians and dancing with wolves, white folks built towns and cities. They expanded westward to conquer and transform the whole territory. The landlord in DAYS OF HEAVEN owns a lot of land, and his kind has turned virgin wilderness into farmland with combines, harvesters, and poor laborers(who presumably have it even worse in the smoke-stack-filled cities). And yet, the male principle of ‘nature’ is necessary among humans for the same reason it is necessary in the universe. For the feminine principle of ‘grace’ to surrender to something, there has to be the creative principle of ‘nature’. For there to be saints, there must be conquerors and masters. For a waif-like woman to give herself to a man, there must be a horny guy. ‘Grace’ can receive, but it can’t really create, or it can take part in creation only by receiving the aggressive energies of ‘nature’. It’s like a child can grow inside a woman’s womb only after being plowed over by the penis. But ‘nature’ cannot do anything without grace. For there to be fiery stars, there was be vast spaces through which its heat can spread. If there were no space among the stars, stars would all overheat and blow up in never-ending big bangs. Earth, fueled by the sun but also safely and ‘gracefully’ distanced from it, has given birth to life that dramatically exemplifies the contrasts and complementary-ness between ‘nature’ and ‘grace’. Earth harnesses the aggressive ‘nature’ of the sun, and life on Earth is characterized by its aggressiveness. This is especially true of animals. One could argue plants are more ‘grace’-like, though, to be sure, plants also compete ‘ruthlessly’ for best exposure to sunlight and access to water. Among animals, carnivores are more aggressive than herbivores — though hot-tempered hippos, rhinos, and elephants can be plenty dangerous. Males are more aggressive than females, though among hyenas, baboons, and Negroes, the ‘bitches’ seem to be just as crazy, if not more, as the males.
One might argue that through American history, there was the balance of the male principle of ‘nature’ and female principle of ‘grace’. Too much of the male principle can lead to madness like Nazism and insane wars. But too much of the female principle could lead to weakness and decline. In the past, the female ‘grace’ principle among whites tended to soften and civilize the virile ‘male’ principle. White female ‘grace’ had a calming effect upon white male ‘nature’ but was also on its side. They were wedded together, like the couple in TREE OF LIFE. It wasn’t always a happy marriage, but it was better-balanced than most male/female relationships in the rest of the world. But in time, the white male ‘nature’ principle came under assault by clever Jews who sought to castrate anything that smacked of white male pride. And the white female ‘grace’ principle was no longer content to soften the rough edges of white male ‘nature’ principle — like what white female characters did for John Wayne’s characters in John Ford movies — but to wussify it altogether. White females, increasingly indoctrinated by Jewish professors and manipulated by the Jewish-controlled media, came to see white male ‘nature’ principle as ‘male chauvinist’ and ‘patriarchal’. So, white males were pressured to be more wussy and ‘pussy’. But this didn’t satisfy white females since women are naturally drawn to strong males. White males were caught in a damned-if-you, damned-if-you-don’t situation. If they acted like real men, they were deemed ‘racist’, ‘patriarchal’, and ‘homophobic’. But if they went along with Political Correctness, they were deemed wussy and ‘pussy’. So, white women naturally began to go with the Negro males. Negroes, as the ‘victim’ race, automatically won sympathy of ‘progressives’. Also, since black male-hood isn’t associated with slavery and genocide in popular consciousness — though blacks had been murderous savages in Africa since the beginning of time — , blacks could strut around as badass studs(and besides, black machismo, as in the cases of Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali, came to be associated with uppitily standing up to ‘racist oppression’). But the downfall of white malehood began long before the rise of Political Correctness. Think of when Jack Johnson was proving to the world that the white man be just a slow flabby white boy in relation to the muscular Negro. If white males had been honest about this fact and pushed for policies to send Negroes back to Africa or give them a separate nation, white America could have been saved But white males were too full of lies to ever admit they were indeed afraid of Negroes, and so, we are caught in the current mess. As Merlin said in EXCALIBUR, "... when a man lies, he murders some part of the world."

White male denial — the great lie — of their fears of the Negroes has murdered America. The fact of Negro superiority in muscle power would have morally elevated whites as racial victims of black thugs and, as such, would have justified harsh measures to remove Negroes from American lands — just as Russians, Czechs, and Poles felt morally justified in expelling millions of ‘dangerous’ Germans from parts of Central Europe in a German trail-of-tears soon after WWII. I mention this issue because its dissemination could help to turn many people from the anti-white ‘left’ to the white right. Many people are on the ‘left’ on the basis of the conviction that all races are more or less biologically equal, and therefore, all differences in economic and social matters are due to the history of white power and privilege. Though many of us witnessed much Negro violence and aggression, we’ve all been influenced by stuff like ROOTS and PBS programs. We’ve been raised to believe in the biological equality of the races because only such notion could sustain the moral authority of the ‘left’. Only if all races were biologically equal, we could hope for a day when all men and women could be brothers and sisters. But the more we begin to think about reality-as-it-really-is, we can’t ignore fact that there are indeed differences, not only between men and women but among the races. We would no longer be able to deny that most black problems are due to the fact of their greater natural aggression and physical power. And we’d no longer be able to deny that Jewish IQ and naturally weasel-like personality are the real factors for Jewish elite power over us. Truth can turn Americans from the ‘left’ to the Right. Unless most Americans know the truth about racial differences and unless they come to see themselves as physical victims of blacks and intellectual victims of Jews, nothing much can be done.
The Right, by focusing so much on lower black IQ, actually make blacks the object of pity and compassion. Most good-hearted people wanna help people with lower IQ and make life better for them. Though liberals reject the notion of IQ differences amongst the races, even if they did believe it, they would only be filled with EVEN MORE sympathy for blacks and call for more aid and support for them poor poor Negroes who need our help. So, all this IQ-centrism does no good for the Right. Instead, it’s much more useful to speak of black physical advantage when it comes to fighting and aggression. The admission of black physical superiority can turn whites, especially poor whites without means to move away from dangerous black-infested neighborhoods, into the object of sympathy and pity. But white male vanity in the American Right prevents this.
Anyway, white male ‘nature’ principle came under assault in the postwar period, all the more so due to unprecedented rise in prosperity and freedom. In earlier times, especially in the Old World, there had been the privileged class with deep roots in history and the unwashed masses of peasants and workers. Because of the finely tailored tradition of privilege, boys born to noblemen and the better classes grew up with certain confidence and pride. As for boys born into less fortunate circumstances, their fate in life was maybe get some schooling and then toil for the rest of their lives. But in the modern world, especially in 20th century America — and especially after WWII — , there was a rapid socio-economic rise of the middle classes. Suddenly, even people with rough/crude backgrounds suddenly attained ‘privilege’. But since they didn’t have a dignified tradition of privilege, they tended to be somewhat crude and unrefined with their newfound privilege, as with the father in TREE OF LIFE, despite his taste for classical music and the like. The privileged class in England had a long tradition of refined manners, and their children were brought up with those manners, and this could be said of the ‘Brahmin’ class in New England too. But this was less true in the American West. Many white folks suddenly had ‘privilege’ but not so much the ‘culture of privilege’. They wanted respect but didn’t possess the culture of manners to command the politics of respect — and this stereotype of Western-wealth-but-no-class was popularized in TV shows like DALLAS. The father in TREE OF LIFE is into classical music and aspires to finer things in life, has lofty dreams, and wants to be the family patriarch, but there’s something rough and common about him just the same. And despite his ambitions in a booming America after the war, his children wanna follow their own dreams than follow in the footsteps of their old man. If the family were poor, the kids would have to face up to reality and go to work soon after highschool or even earlier. But this is post-war America with new opportunities and new freedoms for everyone, even or especially for the young ones. They can hope to go to college, pursue their own dreams, and ‘follow their bliss’ as Joseph Campbell said it. It’s no wonder that George Lucas rejected his father’s conservatism and went with the Campbellian philosophy, especially after he read THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. In a tough world of limited prospects, a poor white would have to face harsh reality and come to terms with his dad who, it turns out, was just ‘being strong for the family’, like the young Vito Corleone who had to carve out a place for himself as an poor orphaned immigrant from Sicily. But in a softer world, a white son born into unprecedented privilege would want to follow his own dreams. He would see his father’s toughness as an hindrance and act of brutality. Also, a poor father acting tough has a certain dignity to it, as a poor man has to be tough to survive and keep his family together — like the old man in John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY. But when a father with newfound privilege and pretensions of culture acts tough and crude, the son is likely to see his pa as a kind of phony. That’s one of the problems with the father in TREE OF LIFE. It’s not just that he’s tough-and-mean sometimes but that he strives so hard to be a man of respect as successful businessman, head of the household, and man of high culture(what with his classical music collection). In one scene, he takes his sons to a black neighborhood to buy some fried chicken or ribs or watermelon. In the next scene, he’s acting like Pat Buchanan’s father, teaching his sons how to box. In an oblique way, Malick hints at the racial tensions of America. On the one hand, the father wants to be a refined and respected man of culture and finer stuff. On the other hand, he wants his sons to be tough warriors who can fight a ‘nigger’. It’s these contradictions between the father’s highfalutin aspirations and lowly grudges/aggression that drive the sons batty. The family isn’t rich, but it’s privileged, at least relative to earlier generations. Being ‘privileged’ is relatively new to the father in TREE OF LIFE, and he has to make up the rules of respectable authority as he goes along, since there is no tradition of privilege and manners he can drawn upon — as the British upper-middle-classes did. In some ways, the father is a tragic figure, and Brad Pitt does a good job of looking right for the role — far better than Sean Penn’s moping about as a lost wounded soul — , but it’s too bad the film is more about Malick’s philosophical mumbo-jumbo than about well-defined characters. (Even so, the concept of tragedy in TREE OF LIFE isn’t as off-putting, if not offensive, as the one in P.T. Anderson’s MAGNOLIA. The question of whether ‘ordinary’ people can be tragic figures was posed by Arthur Miller in DEATH OF A SALESMAN. In Miller’s play, the answer was yes. Willy Loman is not a great man who falls from a great height. But there is a kind of greatness, though utterly delusional and foolish, about his aspirations for the American Dream; a similar thread runs through Darren Aronofsky’s REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, which is more pathetic because the crazy woman is not even trying to work for the American Dream — as Loman at least tirelessly did — but sitting in front a TV set and living the Dream as a series of fantasies. In a way, Miller’s work has parallels with THE GREAT GATSBY. Gatsby, unlike Loman, does make a heap of money, but he too is a self-deceiving follower of false dreams. Yet, as with Holly Golightly in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, Loman and Gatsby are ‘real phonies’, and there is a crazy integrity in that. There’s a perverse purity of faith in their mad dreams — something they can never let go of and would even die for, just like a nutty Baptist on the subject of God and Jesus even after reading Richard Dawkins and taking a full course on evolutionary biology — that imbues them with an element of genuine tragedy, even if it’s psychological than political. Same goes for A.I. and MULHOLLAND DR. From the outside, Diane Selwyn is just a doped-up loser chasing false dreams in her silly little mind. But as we trespass into the xanudu of her mind, we can’t deny the genuine and even inspired obsessions that fuel her dreams. There is a kind of truth within the lie, a kind of faith despite the evidence of facts. One might make the same case for the various narratives in MAGNOLIA. For example, take the homo dweeb who got braces on his teeth just to win the affection of some good-looking bartender. It’s downright pathetic, but Anderson gets in close and drags us into what might be called the tragicomic dimensions of the man’s existence. He’s a fool with a ridiculous dream, but it is an heartfelt dream, one borne of love, hope, and desire. But, and it’s a big but, there are limits to this sort of thing. It’s simply too much to expect any sympathy on our part for the insipid fool. I mean a full-grown fairy getting braces just to win the affection some young bartender with braces and then bitching like a baby because the bartender didn’t show him any love. The fool deserves to be spanked. We feel like the father in THE FIDDLER ON THE ROOF when, after a series of ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ ruminations, finally reaches the point where he wails, ‘there is NO MORE other hand!’ What Anderson is asking of us in MAGNOLIA is simply too much. If he’s mush-brained and mush-hearted enough to make an epic ‘tragicomic’ valentine about a bunch of mopes and dopes, OKAY, but why should we care? MAGNOLIA made me wanna puke and indeed should be called GAGNOLIA. And worst of all is the copout or frogout with the toads. Knowing that he overreached emotionally, dramatically, and thematically, what does Anderson do? He goes for an outlandish scene that can be read in just about any way — as allegory, absurdity, apocalypse, revelation, celebration, whatever you want it to be. To be sure, the scene is a tour-de-force — and the film is directed with genuine talent as a whole — , but what total failure of vision that mistakes excess and indulgence as passion and meaning. On the one hand, Anderson says we should embrace the gay-fool-with-braces and recognize the ‘tragic’ or ‘tragicomic’ dimensions of his life — and recognize that each of us has foolish dreams too and shouldn’t be too quick to judge others — , but on the other, Anderson brings in the toads and the rain to wash away the tears-and-sweat as if to say, "come on, people, let’s break out of our shells and greet the new day". It’s a case of have-the-cake-and-eat-it-too. As material for tragedy, it really scrapes the bottom of the barrel. With so much suffering and troubles in the world, the idea that we should invest so much of our emotions with some gay fool with braces he doesn’t need — or a dull woman who peels potatoes for 3 ½ hrs in Chantal Akerman’s JEANNE DIELMAN — is the height of decadence and triviality, but such is to be expected in a social order that thinks ‘gay marriage’ is one of the greatest human rights causes in the world, when, indeed, the main moral cause of Americans should be bringing an end to the horrors of the hogocaust. As Bob Evans breakfast sausages aren’t part of my morning ritual, I’m infinitely more moral than some gay freak who likes penises up his fecal hole while munching on chocolate-covered slices of murdered innocent hogs. Imagine that. Coating chocolate on bacon for finicky lips and packing fudge for the fruity anus; THAT is what passes for morality among degenerate homomaniacal hogocidal elites that now rule this nation.)

Malick’s problems with civilization seem to be similar to his problems with narratives. For there to be civilization, mankind must set up fences and borders. Mankind must select certain themes, expressions, and meanings at the expense of others. Civilization has a specific time-and-theme frame. For example, we speak of Egyptian civilization as beginning at a certain period and then ending at another period over a specific territory inhabited by a people of a specific language and ethnicity. Each civilization has its own political and philosophical meanings, and civilizations go to war against others over those meanings and to expand its control of the world — like US and Japan in THIN RED LINE. Just like each work of fiction exists in its own enclosed universe, every civilization exists in its fixed domain of meanings. There is the world of Christian values, Hindu values, Confucian values, communist values, or capitalist values, and civilizations seek to impose a single ‘correct’ or authoritative value system on everyone and everywhere. Some religions and ideologies seek to unite the world under one truth, but such a truth is as exclusive as inclusive. For the world to be communist, the world must be cleared of all anti- and non-communists. For the world to be globalist-cosmopolitan, everyone must be like NYers with Apple iPads and cell phones and into ‘gay marriage’ and munching on chocolate-covered bacon promoted by NPR as the hip thing for the SWPL crowd. For everyone to be Christian, all other religions must be suppressed. For Israel to be a Jewish nation, Palestinians must get it in the neck. For there to be a revival of Palestine, Jews must get it in the neck. It’s like every vision of civilization is a closed book. In contrast, there is the pristineness of forests, jungles, and oceans. There is the purity of Edenic primitive folks in THIN RED LINE and THE NEW WORLD who have yet to fall into the prison-trap of civilization. For them, there is no beginning, no end. Time is an everlasting flow; every day is the eternal day. As such, there is really no life and death since everything is part of the cosmic circle. There is no history, just the ever-present eternity. As their cultures are simple, it can morph into and out from anything. It’s not rigidly fixed and institutionalized like the norms of civilizational cultures. And there is no clear divide between primitive man and the world in which he lives. A clam shell found on the ground can be a jewel. The ocean is his bathtub and the bush his toilet. Everything is interconnected. (There is also no ‘myth’ as opposed to ‘science’, no ‘truth’ as opposed to ‘lie’. There is only being and time as the same entity. We modern folks sometimes speak of humanity ‘inventing’ myths and religions as if people long ago, at some point, decided to come up with certain ideas and concepts. But in truth, myths and religions developed naturally, accidentally, randomly. Something was said, something was heard, something was remembered, and all these ‘somethings’ were passed around and gradually formed into narratives that came to define a community apart from other ones with their own shared narratives. There was no need to consciously invent any myth or religion since it happened so naturally. Mankind, with the capacity of language, could never shut its mouth, and whenever someone said something, it was passed around from one person to another to another to another, with each person changing the narrative along the way, until finally the people gathered around a campfire where an especially inspired tribesman wove the various threads into a whole cloth. Such a person had the uncanny ability to turn rumors into gods, even though his only purpose was to tell a fun story. Storytelling is power, which is why Buliwyf says, "A man might be thought wealthy if someone were to draw the story of his deeds, that they may be remembered" in THE 13TH WARRIOR." Jews tell the stories in our world and thus get to mold the new gods.) In other words, it’s a lot of hooey, and a part of me thinks that Malick is simply too intelligent to really believe in such nonsense, just like Oliver Stone is just too well-read and smart to really believe in his neo-Stalinist bullshit he’s been peddling lately. Perhaps, part of Malick’s cosmo-primitivism and Stone’s neo-Stalinism has more to do with their wish to repress their true natures. In many cases, if you want to know the true essence of man, you would do well to consider the opposite of what he claims to be. It’s like lots of Christian preachers and Islamic Fundamentalists who preach non-stop about the evil of fornication really wanna hump every ho in sight. Based on Stone’s screenplays and movies, we know he’s really a power-lusting Nietzschean. Just consider the sort of characters and people he’s most obsessed about: the Tony Montanas, Gordon Gekkos, Alexander the Greats, professional football players, and Rock Stars of the world. Even in the so-called ‘anti-war’ film PLATOON, there is the near-superhuman Christzschean hero played by Willem Dafoe — and even the evil sergeant played by Tom Berenger is one tough badass you can’t help admiring on some level. Stone loves men of power, and he loves the man-as-warrior-and-conqueror archetype on the sports and battle field. But if he were ever to be honest about it — like John Milius — , he would be labeled a ‘fascist’, and so, he rolls out the ‘egalitarian’ neo-Stalinist ‘progressive’ crap. This isn’t to say Stone is being consciously dishonest, and he probably believes in the horse dung he peddles. But to a large extent, he’s just fooling himself and pretending to be something he’s not. He identifies with the conquerors but pretends to feel for the conquered. (Stone tries to ‘have the cake and eat it too’ in the case of Alexander the Great by arguing that the Macedonian leader was a revolutionary who sought to unite the world under enlightened values. In other words, the great good man — such as Alexander or Mao or Castro — has the right to conquer since he liberates the conquered. Napoleonism is alive and well in the heart of Stone.) Stone, of course, isn’t alone in his phoney-baloney-ness. Consider Lucas who loves fascist aesthetics but fools himself that he’s making anti-fascist ‘progressive’ films. Consider James Cameron who’s obsessed with machines and technology but pretends to be a man of nature. Consider all those Bible-thumpers who really want fame and fortune. Consider Pat Buchanan who is a born tribalist but hides behind the veil of universalist morality preached by the Catholic Church. While Hitler was worse than all the aforementioned men combined, his one virtue was that he was honest about what he was and wanted. In contrast, people like Mao Zedong were utterly dishonest characters. Mao, a neo-feudalist who wanted to be emperor for life, always invoked equality and ‘class warfare’ to maintain his power and destroy all his enemies. Jews yammer endlessly about equality, but they keep getting richer and richer, and indeed, the last thing Jews want is to be equal with the rest of us. They are all a bunch of phony-baloneys. Look not at what people claim to be but what they claim for their wallets.
Similarly, Malick seems to be another phony-baloney, at least in his last three films. He may sincerely believe in all this New Age gobbledygook, but he’s concealing the likelihood that he really loves the neo-imperialist New World Order that showers him with so much privilege and opportunity to trot around the world much as Bono does. And for all his elevation of the principle of ‘grace’ and egolessness, he seems to conflate his own mind with higher reality itself. Everything about THE TREE OF LIFE is me, me, and me. It’s not Malick trying to understand others on their own terms but through the filter of his massive cosmo-ego or cosmego. It pretends at empathy, but it’s really about empa-me than empa-thee. Not for a second did I believe in the mother figure. She wasn’t a person but a fantasization of woman as ‘grace’. It made me sick to my stomach. The characterization was as bloodless as Jessica Chastain’s sickly pale skin that looks ickier than that of Cate Blanchett, a woman so ugly she makes the grossest Jewish hags look beautiful.

As it stands, TREE OF LIFE is, at once, too avant-garde-ish and too populist(and trite). It reaches for the ultimate in new-kind-of-cinema — New Big Bang than merely New Wave — , yet much of it seems so familiar — and only like other art films shot with digi-cams but like TV ads, especially those pharmaceutical commercials streaming with feel-good imagery and lush music. Consider the image of the baby’s toes gingerly aglow in sunlight. Or the woman walking toward the dusky sun on the beach. Or a man approaching a door atop a rocky canyon. Talk about tired symbolisms! Judging by the eye-witness accounts of its fans(or acolytes), you’d think TREE OF LIFE is the panacea for all their life’s problems. TREE OF LIFE is no less problematic than Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS, where the supposedly avant-garde pyrotechnics only scorch into MTV hysterics.

BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN also brought together elements of modernism and Americana but in the spirit of creative friction. We couldn’t take anything in either film at face value; we were urged to think through our emotions and feel through our thoughts, to transgress upon conventional morality and question our attraction to transgression. We were confronted with the strangeness of Sissy Spacek’s character living in a dollhouse world of ‘poetic’ musings and being utterly oblivious to the ever-shifting situation around her. The irony was abetted by the main narrators of BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN being a simple-minded woman-child(who refused to grow up) and a precocious ragamuffin(who grew up too fast). The former knows less than she should, the latter more than she should. The incongruities between the ‘simple’ characters and Malick, a Ph.D. in philosophy, made for interesting dialectics. The female characters, as simpletons, lacked the knowledge of a man like Malick, but Malick, as a bookish scholar, found fascination with the natural and organic ‘wisdom’ of people who were so close to their hearts or to the earth. The Spacek character may be something of an idiot, yet she lives in a genuine dream world of her own weaving. And the young girl in DAYS OF HEAVEN, though something of an illiterate urchin, has natural rapport with everything around her. Of course, both characters were imagined by Malick, but Malick wasn’t simply speaking through them as Woody Allen or Quentin Tarantino with his characters. And when, as with the Martin Sheen character in BADLANDS, Malick found himself unable to tune into the signals of the characters who remained impenetrably strange, he just left it at that than pretending to know how their minds work; such desire to understand but the courage to admit one doesn’t may have been inspired party by Albert Camus’s THE STRANGER, though, what with tiresome antics of Michael Haneke, it’s become something of a cliche in cinema: puzzlement as short-cut to profundity. (It worked once with Haneke with THE SEVENTH CONTINENT but has since turned into a shtick. With each new Haneke film, you can expect to see characters acting lousily while Haneke shrugs his shoulders as if such gesture of uncertainty makes him a uniquely interesting artist.) As if through a creative form of telepathy, Malick silenced his own voice to access the minds of others, to hear the murmurs of their hearts. But things began to change with THIN RED LINE. It’s like everyone’s just a mouthpiece — or heartpiece or mindpiece — of Malick, and all the gushy-mushy voice-over narrations are to be taken straight as songs of yearning souls. Perhaps, this change in Malick’s vision was simply the product of growing older. As a young filmmaker, Malick was the asker of questions and seeker of answers, but as an aging guru, maybe he felt more comfortable in the role of teacher, like Leo Tolstoy in the final phase of his life. Surely, Malick isn’t the only artist to undergo such transformation, though some, like Luis Bunuel and Kon Ichikawa, resist it to their dying day. Consider the vibrant and thorny dramas of Akira Kurosawa of the 1950s as opposed to his preachy RED BEARD in 1965. Thankfully, Kurosawa was rudely awakened from his would-be ‘sage’ doldrums with the failure of DODESKADEN, and he returned to hardier filmmaking with DERSU UZALA, KAGEMUSHA, and RAN. But then, he retreated to preaching mode with DREAMS. Even so, the ‘wisdom’ of DREAMS was easier to take because of the fairytale-like aspect of the film. It wasn’t pretending to be the ‘greatest film or work of art of all time.’ What’s really painful about Malick’s later films isn’t simply the gushy-wushiness but the avant-garde, intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual pretensions that they are onto profound truths expressed in the most brilliant and sublime way heretofore unseen in cinema. His last three films are many times more ambitious than his first two, but at their core there’s precious little but feely-good banality of New Age rhapsodizing. And Malick uses voice-over narration as if the words aren’t so much coming off the lips but emanating from some deep hidden corner of the soul. As a concept, it’s interesting and might have worked better under different circumstances, but most of it sounds preciously coy or pregnant with m-e-a-n-i-n-g. Especially the woman’s voice-over chirps and flighty smiles were too much icing on the angel cake. It’s pukeville. In BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN, simplicity and complexity exist side by side. They flirt, cavort, and dance but also contrast and contradict one another. They don’t copulate and give birth to cosmic babytalk, what happens in the next three films. It’s as if Malick finally arrived at some connective threads that link complexity and simplicity into a seamless fabric. He’s found true meaning in the image of soldiers swimming in the oceanic womb with the pristine natives in the beginning of THIN RED LINE or the civilized man dillydallying and going kissy-wissy with the native Indian girl in THE NEW WORLD. Or in the union of ‘nature’ and ‘grace’ in TREE OF LIFE. But it’s really just G-rated porn of the soul.
Possibly, Malick was exploring ways to expand on the purpose of storytelling. Stories connect us to other lives, but the self-enclosure of fixed time frames and genre formulas tend to seal off the larger world. Through fiction, we pretend to take leave of our own fixed reality and think/feel as others people do, but we become trapped in their enclosed worlds, which are, as often as not, our own wish-fulfilment fantasies dramatized by idealized alter egos. But what if the doors of consciousness were swung open so that our eyes and ears, as portals to our souls, were flooded with visions of the cosmos, memory, imagination, futurama, hell and heaven? Malick conveys such ‘higher’ awareness not only with the epic saga of the Cosmos, Earth, and Life before the rise of man but with the use of fluttery camera movement and snippity editing technique for the semi-autobiographical scenes. Malick holds a scene for epic effect when dealing with stars, volcanos, oceans, and dinosaurs, but the prevailing visual style for the human characters is one of almost impatient restlessness, either of joy or sorrow. It’s as if personal realities are constantly colliding and eliding, fragmenting and scattering, reforming and embracing, evading and escaping one another; always in flux. It’s as if Malick sought to avoid the sense of fixed or definitive reality, i.e. dispense with the ‘authority’ of reality. So, even though it’s a work of megalomania and largely seen and felt through one character — the son who’s likely Malick’s alter ego — , the film desperately tries to avoid favoring one authoritative vision of reality over others.
But then, some of the biggest megalomaniacs have been marked by a similarly paradoxical mental phenomenon of humble profundity. Consider Jesus and Buddha. A part of them wanted to crack open the Great Truth, know everything, and play the role of the greatest prophet that ever lived. But in the process of making claim, they abandoned the fixed reality of their own selves/bodies and claimed to be one, in unity, or in harmony with the higher reality of either God in Heaven or Nirvana. (The role of prophet is perhaps the most troubling and contradictory, as well as the most interesting, in the world of man. To be a prophet — spiritual, philosophical, or even scientific, as some scientists come to be revered as great gurus who ‘finally’ cracked the grand mystery, or even artistic, as the cult of creativity flowing from Romantic era has elevated the great artist as a kind of a mini-god — means to be aware of the grandest mystery/power outside the realm of man. Most men are occupied with affairs of their little world, while prophets hear the calling to ponder the true meaning of God, Fate, Beauty, Truth, or the Cosmos, and in doing so, they come to the realization that the Mystery is far more mysterious, wondrous, darker, beautiful, and terrifying than most people have ever imagined. Thus, the prophet’s sense of humility before this awesomeness is deeper than the humility of most people. But in having touched upon or gained a glimpse of this great Mystery, they feel superior to most men who were never gifted with the vision. The prophets feels as the servant to God and as the god over man.) Thus, Jesus supposedly understood and cared about everyone than merely for Himself, and Buddha was liberated from his own ego. They let go of the self in order to embrace or surrender to a higher reality. But, in making such highfalutin claims, they were, in effect, saying that their visions were better than all others, they were wiser than all others, and they were better than all others. We see this in the likes of Karl Marx and Mao Zedong too. They claimed to be for the people, unlike kings and lords of the past who were only for themselves, but as all-knowing leaders of the new movement, they made themselves into the new gods. TREE OF LIFE is similarly a work of megalomaniacal humbleness, which is hardly surprising in the age of Obama whose tagline is that he’s so full of ‘profound humility’. In a world where Jews are the god-race, Obama is their humble prophet who suckles on their toes, and in having gained the ‘wisdom’ as to the true nature of power in America, he’s been chosen by that Real Power to lord over us as our master. His total subservience to the greatest power in the world, the god-race of Jews, has gained him the permission to rule over most American dummies who think Jews are a powerless group that needs to be protected from neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. (At least Jesus and Buddha did come upon some profound insights. Obama’s ‘profundity’ and ‘greatness’ are essentially grounded in his celebrity based on racial symbolism. Since childhood, he’d been a privileged boy. He spent his youths hanging with kids with money and smoking dope and having a good time. He was showered with toys and trinkets by rich Jews who figured on using him one day. As ‘community organizer’ and law instructor at University of Chicago, he just slacked along just enough to be ‘somebody’, and in the Illinois Senate he hung around doing nothing. But he had the right image that Jews wanted to hype and promote, and he had the acting talent to make it work..) As theory, Malick’s ideas on camera mobility and editing might be interesting, but it’s disastrous as practice. It looks like just so many throwaway images captured by tiny butterfly/soap-bubble cameras spliced in so many ways. After awhile, for me at least, it began to produce migraines. Some people complain of the shaky camera, but it can be used meaningfully(or unavoidably yet to powerful effect, as in war footage documentary filmmakers). The style of TREE OF LIFE isn’t shaky but flaky, precious in its collage of dry academism and showy sensory-overload, in some way more irritating than the flash-editing in mindless blockbuster movies, which, at least, don’t pretend to be profound works of art.
And there’s simply too much: the cosmos of light and darkness, stern father and gentle mother, dreams of childhood, alienation in the sterile urban landscape, and etc. The only way such matters could have been made interesting if the audience were brought close to the characters, as in Bergman’s screenplays about his own parents and childhood. As Malick refuses to look at them straight and just prefers to prance around them like a homo ballet dancer, the characters remain ciphers as individuals and register, at best, as symbols. Symbols can work as symbols and archetypes can work on the level of archetypes — as in the films of Stanley Kubrick — , but Malick wants to have it both ways: for his film to be a grand experiment breaking all the rules yet also an intimate portrait of real lives and real pain. But how can we see or feel anything recognizably human when his camera won’t sit still and keeps buzzing around like winged pests? Perhaps, Malick was trying to capture as aspect of childhood, namely that children are brimming with life and short on attention span; like dogs and cats, they are thrilled by every stimuli. Children don’t wanna sit still and solemnly grow into a solid oak. They wanna flutter around in the wind. And there was this quality to some of the scenes with the girl in DAYS OF HEAVEN and in the scenes of virgin wilderness in THE NEW WORLD. I suppose primitive folks are the forever-children of nature. But in TREE OF LIFE, the technique overrides the material, indeed as if Malick thought he didn’t need to shape the story material since his vision and style were true enough. It was as if his eye and method are so profound and brilliant that all he needed do was see and show and toss the pieces together.
Malick may now see himself as something akin to an impressionist painter. To create an impression of something, you don’t have to focus on the exact details. Malick may have felt that his invocation of the impression of human lives didn’t call for the minute or specific dwelling on those lives. Wielding the camera like a brush of an impressionist painter, he would evoke such an extraordinary vision/explosion of life that the very notion of specificity would be irrelevant to the experience and discussion. Malick also seems to be channeling shades of cubism, with the non-stop camera motions and editing constantly shifting perspectives and creating an impression of a world of oblique angles. Indeed, he seems to be channeling everything without processing any of it into a meaningful narrative or discursive methodology. The closest thing it resembles in aesthetic terms is crayon drawing by kindergarten kids.
Malick’s editing is notably different from classic montage built on awareness of contrasting angles of perspectives that are suggestive of contradictions of ‘power’ vying for dominance and supremacy. Eisenstein, for example, conveyed a vision of the world of opposing forces whether they be cultural(QUE VIVA MEXICO), political(OCTOBER), national(ALEXANDER NEVSKY), or psychological(IVAN THE TERRIBLE). In contrast, the relentlessly snippety editing of the human moments in TREE OF LIFE doesn’t allow for the images to stand for anything. If there’s meaning to be found, it’s in the constant flutter and fracture of sensations and emotions, as if the essence of human conflict isn’t so much among concrete worldly ideas/forces but of enigmatic egos created by cosmic forces and molded by social institutions. There is a scene of a flock of birds in the film, and the seemingly chaotic but ultimately purposeful patterns of their movement serve to illustrate Malick’s visual strategy. The sky seems to be filled with crazed birds winging frantically all over — and, of course, each bird cannot be aware of its place and function in the overall pattern — , but the big picture of the phenomenon seen from afar suggests a design, a cycle, a destiny.
It’s as if Malick got a winged swarm of cameras to fly around his characters and then assembled the footage to convey a sense of the-so-many-realities-buzzing-all-around-us-seemingly-arbitrarily-but-actually-as-part-of-a-grand-design-that-reveals-itself-only-with-our-spiritual-elevation-which-by-the-way-can-be-attained-by-watching-TREE-OF-LIFE-in-3D-version-on-the-Omnimax-screen.
For a film with a style so elusive and slippery, TREE OF LIFE is overly saturated with an excess of lush, grandiose, and/or overripe imagery. And despite its formalistic declaration of audacity, the overwhelming impression is a lack of focus. The viewer feel like a seal swimming amidst a vast school of herrings or sardines. (Paradoxically, a whole bunch of fish swimming together in close formation serves as a kind of defense mechanism against predators as the sheer number makes it difficult for the hunter to fixate on a single fish. Similarly, TREE OF LIFE is like a giant aquarium with so many angled & mirrored walls and loaded with so many fish swimming in every direction that narrative focus is next to impossible. Maybe, this could have worked as a kind of stream-of-conscious dream-memory narrative, but as the images are too crisp and clear, too realistic and detailed, for us to drift into the realm of reverie or dreams. Worse, for a film with so many flashing facades of reality, the actual faces of humans are used too obviously, as if standing for gloom-laden alienation/tragedy or sunshine-sprinkled radiance/grace. Take the scene where Sean Penn goes to wash himself while his lover lingers on the bed. Penn barely speaks in the film, but his facial fugue is a never-ending dirge of angst, remorse, and loss. His lover sitting on the bed remains silent and is but a minor key in the film, but her face speaks volumes about ‘lack of communication’, soulless modernity, and all that stuff Antonioni covered in his 1960s films more effectively and originally.)
What Malick was aiming for was realized much more artfully, indeed sublimely, by Alain Resnais in MURIEL. Resnais slipped between the intersections of yearning and anxiety, conveying a sense of repressed tragedy too painful to confront or confess and the pangs of anxiety/guilt that, however poeticized into a song, couldn’t, in the end, deny or reverse the horror and loss. Rarely has such a bold experiment, grappling with the iron weight of tragedy, yielded something so elegant and lovely. But then, MURIEL was a culmination of Resnais’s earlier experiments in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR and LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD.
Though HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR has many moments of poetic beauty, its powerful style conveyed a world of destruction, agony, and tragedy. It’s not without a certain desperate hope, but it’s a bleak remembrance of political history and personal history wedded together and torn apart by war — how could it not be when the horrific WWII ended only 14 yrs prior to the film’s release. (MURIEL was different from HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR in that while the remembrance and discussion of WWII was very much a part of the official truth for all Frenchmen, a reality they could not deny — though Marcel Ophuls and others later accused the French of repressing certain aspects of the war experience, such as the extent of French collaboration with Nazis or apathy toward Jews facing sure death — , whole swaths of French society went through the Algerian conflict as if it was happening on another planet. Everyone knew about WWII when it was happening, especially as the war came home to France and Japan; France was occupied by Germans and became the horrific battleground between Allied troops and German forces, and Japan was bombed to smithereens and even suffered two nuclear bombings. Also, the moral lessons of WWII were supposed to be clear and transparent following the defeat of Axis nations, i.e. that the Free World defeated the forces of evil, and Resnais contributed to this understanding with NIGHT AND FOG the Holocaust documentary. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR began to dig a hole in this narrative by revisiting the issue of America’s use of the Bomb on Japan and by sympathizing with a French female character who’d loved a German soldier and suffered as a result at the hands of her countrymen; and just as most French did nothing to help the Jews when Nazis took them away, her parents did nothing as their daughter faced beatings and humiliation day after day. Even so, the ‘noble suffering’ of the French under German Occupation had become part of the grand official narrative for postwar France, one that made the French feel morally proud for having been ‘victimized’ by evil Nazis and having played a role in the nationwide Resistance that supposedly played a key role in the Liberation. While Algeria was a major news item in France during the 1950 and early 1960s, it simply didn’t fit in with the favored national narrative that the French were noble defenders of freedom and liberty around the world and that things were getting so much better at home with more jobs and consumer products. So, if HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR tore a hole in the official historical narrative, MURIEL touches on a taboo denied by official history. HIROSHIMA bewailed a repressed history; MURIEL whispered a hidden history. Also, if France began with humiliation in WWII but emerged from the war with great moral pride, she began with imperialistic hubris and national pride in Algeria and crawled out in defeat and shame, seeking a place to bury her head; thus, if members of the Resistance were honored as heroes, the veterans of Algeria were treated as lepers by the French Right that saw them as ‘losers’ and by the French Left that saw them as torturers and ‘baby killers’. To be sure, France, as a democracy with a powerful leftist coalition, had plenty of loud critics of the war, but censorship during the DeGaulle years was extensive, and several films dealing with the Algerian War were banned altogether.) Paradoxically, the element of hope is, in some ways, the most painfully tragic thing in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR. To move on and embrace life’s joy once more, one must let go of the past — a kind of emotional amnesia — , but what if the past, despite or due to its tragedy, is the reservoir of one’s most sacred memories that fill one’s heart not only with pain but the deepest feelings of love one has ever known?
There’s also a dream quality to HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR arising from the contrasts between violent past and the peaceful present. How did a world that was on the brink of destruction, where everyone seemed to be at each other’s throat, become so kind and peaceful again in so short a time, as if none of it had really happened? How did great tragedies that devoured and devastated so many lives inspire such simple slogans, silly propaganda, and feel-good rallies in the postwar world? Modern wars, with their wanton destruction, seem unreal, but peace, especially following great wars, also seem unreal. How did the world-as-hell so easily become the world of heaven? How did man the destroyer of all things become man the builder of all things. How did bitter and hateful enemies — so hateful that wholesale slaughter of their womenfolk and children was justified — become the dearest friends? HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, like NIGHT AND FOG, is about the recovery of the past, a recovery that seems almost surreal in the new reality of normal peace. Had Germans, who seemed so peaceful and democratic after WWII, really carried out those grisly acts under Hitler? Had Hiroshima, a seemingly modern and well-functioning city, really been devastated by an atomic bomb? Was the Bomb really dropped by the ‘good guys’? In war, what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’? Is everyone guilty in the mutual climate of hate, rage, and bitterness? In wartime, is it a crime even to love if the lover is the ‘enemy’? We gradually learn that the French woman had been in love with a German soldier during the Occupation. Her love was true, but she was a traitor in the eyes of the French. The French who’d been victimized by Germans viciously victimize her. (To be sure, not all Frenchmen were offended by relationships between French women and German soldiers. Many Frenchmen tolerated if not welcomed German Occupation as being preferable to being ruled by International Jews and the radical Left, though, to be sure, the French socialists in power in the 1930s were different from communists. As there was a Popular Front mentality among the French left, something similar developed on the French Right. The Popular Front notion of ‘no enemy to the Left’ meant that even mild French liberals and democratic-socialists should side with Stalinists, terrorist-anarchists, and the most extreme communist groups against the enemy that included not only fascists and the far right but even mild conservatives and moderate French nationalists. Thus, as French liberalism came to favor even Stalinism over moderate conservatives, even the moderate conservatives in France became more radicalized in response and didn’t necessarily mind the German occupation. If French liberals were going to strike up an alliance with Stalinists — and would certainly have collaborated with communists to round up and kill conservatives if France had come under Soviet occupation — , why shouldn’t French conservatives make a peace with the Germans? A similar mind-set exists on certain elements of the Right in America. Some conservatives wonder why they should moderate their views when American liberals have a Popular Front mentality that deems it okay for them to embrace the likes of Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, radical gays, leftist Jews, illegal invaders, and crazed feminists? Why should American conservatives moderate their views when American liberals feel no obligation to moderate their own views? Why is it ‘McCarthyist’ to point out liberalism’s ties with the far left, but it’s perfectly okay for liberals to point out conservatism’s possible ties with the far right? Why must conservatives condemn the likes of Augusto Pinochet when liberals have openly embraced the likes of Che Guevara — a nutty Stalinist who wanted to nuke the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis — and Fidel Castro, who ran Cuba like his personal fiefdom since 1959? Under the current arrangement, American liberals can go for Popular-Front-ism but American conservatives cannot. This is why a lot of conservatives wouldn’t mind if US were invaded by, say, fascist Russians whose goal was to round up Jews and elements of the far left and toss them into prison camps as happened to the ‘Japs’ during WWII. Though US would be under foreign occupation, some American conservatives would feel liberated by white Russians who would be seen as preferable to hideous Jews, vile homos, and thuggish Negroes. They would rather be ruled by someone like Vladimir Putin than someone like Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and all the hideous Jews and vile homos who run the Democratic Party. And in a way, foreign white fascist rule may be preferable even to Republican rule as most Republican politicians are nothing but shameless whores of Zionist Wall Street and Las Vegas plutocrats. Of course, American conservatives would ideally like to be ruled by their own kind, but even foreign rule is preferable to domestic rule IF the nation has already been taken over by elements such as hideous Jews, vile homos, horrible Negroes, and white race-traitor cowards. It’s like Hong Kongese preferred foreign British rule over Maoist Chinese rule from 1949 to 1997; it was the not the British Imperialists who were killing millions of Chinese. Though Nazis were monstrous overall, it must be acknowledged that some Frenchmen understandably felt liberated under German occupation following the rule by socialist Jews, international Jews, communist-sympathizers, and outright communists who made up the left coalition in France.) In a way, wittingly or unwittingly, they are all victims and victimizers. If some people, especially the powerful, are clearly responsible for their actions, what about the people who are caught up in the fury of war as recruited soldiers and hapless civilians? To move on, we must let go of the past — both historical and biographical — , but we mustn’t forget the past. But we cling to the past not only out of moral obligation but of personal guilt as there’s a sense of betrayal to lost/loved ones when we decide to move on with our lives. There’s an element of this in THE LAST TANGO IN PARIS where a middle-aged American(Marlon Brando) hides out in an apartment with a strange young girl as a refuge from his pain and guilt over his wife’s death. Only after the cathartic outburst at her side is he able to drain out the emotional puss and move on with life(but then complications with his young lover lead to yet another tragedy). But it’s not only a matter of guilt but a kind of selfishness. Tragedy — especially of a romantic nature — , however painful, injects one’s life with a potent dose of dark beauty. It becomes something to guard and savor as one’s own, a psychological reality powerfully expressed in VERTIGO, LA JETEE, WICKER PARK, and ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA — even in BLADE RUNNER, with the impending doom of Rachel. It’s also there in CHINATOWN where the guy walks away yet again with a perverse yet beautifully tragic tale of a woman he couldn’t save. (That this happened to him twice is both a double curse and double blessing. If not for such a tragedy, he would be just some cynical and vapid jerk without a care in the world. The first tragedy that happened long ago had once filled his life with moral angst and meaning, but he forgot it along the way and reverted to being the jerk that he is. It happens to him again, and so, terrible as it is, it’s a second chance for him to feel something like real emotions.) Scotty(James Stewart) in VERTIGO tries to recreate the woman he lost, but then, you can’t revive a dead person, and so, he revives ‘Madeline’ as a ghost, but then, it turns out she wasn’t really dead, and so, he doesn’t so much revive a dead person as a ghost but recreates the ghost in a person who was supposed to be dead, but then, he inadvertently ends up really killing the person thought to be dead but is alive, but in a way, he doesn’t ‘kill’ Madeline since he hadn’t known her but only her double played by a woman named Judy, but then, as Madeline was turned into ‘Madeline’ who was perhaps even more beautiful and alluring than the real Madeline — woman killed by her evil husband — , Scotty did know the true ‘Madeline’ who was more Madeline than the real Madeline, and etc. In a way, it’s like the story of the dog with a bone that stares at its own reflection and loses the actual bone and, along with it, even the illusion of the bone; the bone that Scotty had in his soul was the beautiful memory of the tragedy of ‘Madeline’, but he wanted more than the memory and sought to recreated and possess it in flesh, but in the process, lost everything, both the reality and the illusion.
In HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, we are shown the various ways the Japanese have tried to recreate the tragedy of Hiroshima. Resnais splices actual historical footage with bits of kitschy docu-drama and intercuts both with images of contemporary Japan. Just as the ‘Madeline’ that Scotty hopes to recreate could never be the real thing — and even the real thing wasn’t the real-real thing — , the recreation of historical memory by the Japanese is based on something less than real history. According to the docu-drama footage of the aftermath of Hiroshima bombing, it would appear that Japanese were hapless victims of a terrible weapon dropped by a great power. But were the Japanese merely innocent victims of WWII? Not only is the recreation of the past aesthetically unsatisfying and emotionally unconvincing in most cases but its aim is to serve an agenda than the actuality. If the bits and pieces of the docu-drama-ganda used in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR pretend to recreate/remember the tragedy of Hiroshima in realist fashion — like SCHINDLER’S LIST much later — , the French woman is part of a peace campaign that uses Hiroshima as a political soap commercial. The docu-drama tries to rub the viewer’s nose in fake/recreated horror, and the peace campaign puts a smiley face on the tragedy.
Time is ‘democratic’ and ‘egalitarian’ in its equally thoroughgoing indifference to armageddon and amnesia. Visit the jungles of Cambodia today, and you’d never know it had once been the Killing Fields. If not for the preservation of concentration camps in Poland, one would never know mass killing took place there. (Thus, historical memory doesn’t come or continue naturally; it is ensured only by the obsessive memorialization of the past, something the Jews understood through the sanctification of their past through the Torah and Jewish historical/persecution narrative. Time doesn’t have a stop, and it just goes on and on through war and peace, equally oblivious to both; and it is up to the powers-that-be to choose what should be remembered. Powers that be doesn’t so much have to worry about what must be forgotten since it’s natural for humans to forget, though to be sure, powers-that-be have also sought to suppress certain memories,, especially the Jewish involvement in communist oppression and mass killings. The use of history in America is especially dangerous because Americans are naturally amnesiac owing to the fact that the core of Americanism is future-oriented and generally disdains the past. Thus, most Americans will forget or not know anything except that which is memorialized over and over and over again by the powers-that-be. Even the seemingly holy MLK myth and Holocaust cult would soon be forgotten unless there’s a tireless effort to prop them up month after month, year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation. There are so many interesting things about American history, yet most young Americans only know and care about Jewish victimization and black victimization — indeed, they now know more about homo history than about the history of their own people — because their historical memory is dependent on what the powers-that-be drum into their minds with public education, higher education, popular culture, and celebrity culture. If Americans were truly a conservative people who deeply cared about their history and heritage, they would do the remembrance and reading on their own and preserve their own sacred memories that could serve to counter the narrow emphasis centered around ‘white guilt’ imposed by the Jewish powers-that-be, but most Americans have no desire/will to remember and preserve the past on their own, and so, the only things about the American past they do remember is what the powers-that-be continue to feed them between the mind-numbing dosages of popular culture. It’s laugh-with-the-SIMPSONS-and-moment-of-silence-for-MLK-on-black-history-month; it’s munch-on-popcorn-to-IRON-MAN-3-and-moment-of-silence-for-Anne-Frank-on-her-birthday-reminded-for-us-by-Google-search-page.) But even with those tokens of remembrance(and memorials built since), the past is gone forever — even the greatest horrors pass with a whimper like sand castles crumble before ocean waves — , and what we call historical memory is a selective mythologization of the past by the powers-that-be to gain political and cultural advantage in the present. Perhaps, in this sense, the only pure memory is personal memory, like the French woman’s remembrance of her younger self during the Occupation and Liberation. But then, given the all-too-real-and-grave contexts of history and politics, can any memory, even the most ‘innocent’ and heartfelt, be pure as snow? Consider the racial and political ironies. She, a French girl, fell in love with a German soldier serving an ideology of racial purity and the politics of ‘hate’. She loved a man of ‘hate’, and she was hated and punished by Frenchmen who ‘resisted’ the forces of ‘hate’. Her great love was for a soldier fighting for the ideology of race purity, but she later fell in love with a man of another race, a Japanese. She feels for — and even identifies with — him on some level because the Japanese, like the French, suffered horribly during the war. But Japan was allied with Germany, the enemy nation of France. But then, the Japan she is visiting in the late 1950s is the new Japan, the friend of the free world remade by democratic America. But then, she’s there in support of what looks like a leftist and anti-American ‘peace’ campaign very probably secretly funded by the Soviet Union. The ironies extend further if we consider the biography of the author of the screenplay, Marguerite Duras, who, as a young woman, had affairs with a Chinese man in Indochina, a place where her race/nationality privileged her kind but where she, as an individual, was ‘owned’ by a rich Asian man. Japan was the part of Asia that was allied with Germany, Vietnam was the part of Asia ruled by the French — who might as well have been like the occupying Nazis as far as the Vietnamese were concerned.
If HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR was heavy on pain and misery, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD was sleek with elegance and beauty. It was like a romantic mind-parlour-game without a soul, but that sense of something missing is what makes the film morally provocative. (In a similar way, the French-Jewish author Georges Perec has written a novel called THE VOID where the letter ‘e’ is never used. Though seemingly just a innocuous literary gimmick, some literary critics think it’s a oblique commentary on the disappearance of Jewish people/culture during WWII and the continuation of European history after the war — at least for a few decades — as if nothing had happened and no one had gone missing. It’s as if Europeans didn’t see the missing Jew because they didn’t miss the Jew and were maybe even glad that the Jew had gone ‘missing’. It’s like the ‘invisible’ Negro of Ralph Ellison’s novel. Or, it’s like the peach tree princess who is seen by the young boy but seen by no one else in the second episode of Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS, indeed as if she’d never existed in the first place. Or consider the adoptive father in THE OFFICIAL STORY pretending as if the child that he and his wife are raising was not taken from ‘missing’ leftists of Argentina’s so-called ‘Dirty War’. Of course, the obliviousness to the ‘missing Jew’ in the aftermath of WWII was hardly exceptional in history as much of 20th century Russian history continued as if millions didn’t die under Stalin and his Jewish henchmen, and China to this day pretends that tens of millions didn’t die during the Great Leap Forward. And Palestinians crushed by Zionists and white Afrikaners raped/robbed/murdered by black South Africans might as well not even exist as their cries have gone unheard. The loathsome Golda Meir even said Palestinians aren’t even a people, a sentiment echoed today by despicable whores of Jewish Power such as Mitt Romney, Marc Rubio, John McCain, and Newt Gingrich. And no one in Europe seems to notice the disappearance of freedom and liberty in a social order that prides itself on liberal values and democracy. And the Jewish-controlled media overlook or suppress news and stories about whites robbed, raped, and murdered by Negroes. If in the past, white people were blind to the humanity of the Negro, today’s Jewish-owned media are willfully blind to the inhumanity of the Negro. So, if Negroes run wild and riot and loot and cause mayhem, their blackness is made ‘invisible’ by having them be described as ‘youths’ or ‘teens’. Or consider how the humanity of George Zimmerman was made ‘invisible’ by turning him into the much vilified ‘white male’ when, in fact, he’s half-white and half-Hispanic of mixed racial lineage. Of course, things have changed drastically since the first few decades following WWII, a time when many Europeans, for reasons justified or not, were not willing to confront the full weight of what had taken place during WWII; Germans had yet to face up to the full extent of their ‘collective guilt’ and other European nations weren’t yet willing to come clean on the extent of their collaboration with Germany or indifference to the mass killing of Jews and other ‘undesirables’. But since the late 60s, we’ve been getting nothing but Jew, Jew, and Jew, and it’s as if the main religion and cultural project of Europe since the socio-cultural shift has been to lionize every Jewish victim as the eternal victim deserving of our remembrance, reverence, and apology — Louis Malle’s AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS even burdens a French child with the guilt of Collaboration, no matter how unwitting or minor the ‘betrayal’ may have been, but then, given the child was meant to be Malle’s oh-so-guilt-ridden alter ego, the film reveals that the cult of Holocaust Guilt has paradoxically turned into a kind of ‘pride of guilt’ in New Europe, i.e. Europeans now compete with another in their confessions of ‘Holocaust guilt’ to narcissistically show off their holier-than-thou-ness, just like white liberals in America make a big fuss about their ‘white guilt’ to elevate their moral worth in relation to white ‘racists’ who see right through Obama as the toy-boy of Jews and regard Negroes for what they be, a bunch of troublesome jigger-jivers — while all the victims of Jewish communists and Zionist imperialists are swept under the carpet of New Jew History. So, the novel of OUR AGE should be one where there’s the word ‘Jew’ in every sentence. Jews may have been sucked into a the ‘void’ at one time, but the Jew is impossible to ‘avoid’ today as his tendencies and tentacles reach all over the world and into everyone’s life. Indeed, notice how the Google search engine commemorates Cesar Chavez and remembers holidays like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah but ‘voids’ even the mention of Easter on its Google’s main search page. Would Google ever commemorate the likes of Arafat or Robert E. Lee? Jews now have the power to ‘void’ entire areas of culture and history.) Though Resnais’s film is ostensibly about what may or may not have happened last year at Marienbad, the truly notable element of the film is the absence of emotions. Though such lack of feeling may seem trite or trivial as the characters are so one-dimensional — almost like mannequins — , it is possibly implicative of something profound within the context of European history of the post-war era. The problem isn’t so much the lie(as to what really may have happened) as the lack of feeling or caring about the lie. If one lies out of fright, passion, or some real emotion, it’s at least understandable and within the realm of humanness, and it is in this sense that RASHOMON is different from LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. However deranged or deceptive the witnesses or suspects in RASHOMON may be, each retains his or her semblance of humanity in the passion to project/protect his or her version of truth; even as liars, there is an element of ‘moral commitment’ in their need to justify themselves in the eyes of others. In contrast, the layers of deceptions and delusions in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD are played like a heartless game. Even if Renais and the writer Alain Robbe-Grillet had no intention beyond presenting an intellectual parlor-game, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD very much complements the thematic developments of Resnais’s other films. It shares with HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR(a work that partly owes to PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC) a sense of interrogation and shares with MURIEL a sense of piecing together the fragments of the puzzle. And Resnais used similar approaches in LA GUERRE EST FINIE and PROVIDENCE. If HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR is deeply emotional, an excavation of pain; LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD is coolly dispassionate, an exercise in style. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR is certainly big on style — in many ways, no less so than LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD — , but the film revolves around the matters of the heart that sometimes push style into the background, whereas, in the absence of anything like real emotions and characters, the style of LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD always remains at the center. Many critics found the style impressive but meaningless. And yet, perhaps it’s the very absence of recognizable emotions that makes LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD no less provocative as a moral statement than is HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR. For if the characters of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR are sometimes loathe to speak the truth as a result of too much shame — but then compelled to shout the truth as a result of too much pain — , the absence of human emotions in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD negates the value of truth and lies altogether as there’s no soul to even care which is which. Lies may be the opposite/enemy of truth but can also serve as the pathway to the truth for lies are constructed in the mind as mazes of anxiety, fear, and guilt to hide the truth, which is why detectives manipulate and peel off the layers of lies told by suspects to get nearer and nearer to the truth hidden within the maze of deception; thus, every lie is a betrayal of a pathway that inadvertently leads to the truth. People tell lies out of anxiety, fear, and/or guilt, and such feelings imply the existence of the soul, no matter how damaged or compromised it may be, a kind of repressed conscience. But with the soulless, the lie might as well be the truth and vice versa as there is no emotional or moral commitment favoring one over the other. In that sense, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD is a kind of vision of hell.
Truth and lies matter to us because the moral equilibrium of our souls depends on favoring one over the other for the sake of justice or emotional health. Sometimes, we need to face the truth, sometimes we need to cling to lies. As emotional beings, truths and lies both have meaning and value. But without souls, truth might as well be a lie, and a lie might as well be the truth. Since we don’t feel or care one way or another, what does it matter?
Truth or lie, it has meaning in relation to the forgotten diva in SUNSET BOULEVARD; her soul may be sick but it’s a soul just the same, and we can see the silhouette of truth against the sham radiance of her lies. Same goes for Mrs. Robinson in THE GRADUATE. Whether we see her as a villain or not, her highly emotional nature lends moral significance to her truths and lies.
But what of the emotionally anemic characters in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD? Was the film an attack on bourgeois soullessness? Or was it concerned with the soul-hollowing ennui and haute-alienation of post-war prosperity, a kind of sensibility so devoid of both traditional truisms and modern ideals that it was incapable of feeling anything. No pain, no guilt, no conviction, which, by implication, means no concern for historical truth and responsibility as well. Thus, it could be that the central question of LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD isn’t so much what-is-truth and what-is-a-lie but what-matters-what-is-truth-or-lie-in-a-world-without-souls? Fellini also touched on the new soullessness in the scene with the character Steiner and his friends in LA DOLCE VITA. It was if the world was both post-religious and post-revolutionary. There was no more guilt, no more dreams, no need for memory, no need for accountability. Growing prosperity and increasing stability of the post-war period may have led to a fashionable disaffectedness that may, in turn, have encouraged historical amnesia as, after all, memory(personal or historical) has little meaning without emotions. (In a way, the postwar cultural scene was a continuation or revival of the modernist project of the first half of the 20th century that had been rudely interrupted by the rise of National Socialism and WWII. Yet, in another way, some people felt that, given the gravity of what had taken place during WWII, modernism itself was a kind of sick joke of the privileged bourgeoisie that preferred to indulge in theories, attitudes, and fashions than wrestle with the full implications of historical tragedy that had just transpired. While Picasso had been much praised for his painting GUERNICA during the Spanish Civil War, could something so ‘conceited’ and ‘precious’ as modernism convey the true horrors of what had taken place in the battlefields and death camps? World War I and the Great Depression also had been rude awakenings in the first half of the 20th century — and many leftists of the period preferred the revolutionary art with clear political agendas over modernist art of mavericks — , but then, World War I was regarded as an unfortunate tragic war between
‘honorable’ nations than an epic battle between Good and Evil, and all sides had been equally brutal in the conduct of the war. Also, WWI led to the demise of aristocratic order and gave birth to a new democratic and/or populist yearnings — that led to the creation of the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, and National Socialist Germany, all of which were defined by mass politics — , and for awhile, the great changes encouraged all sorts of cultural experimentation, as in the early yrs of the Soviet Union and in Weimar Germany. But as the economic situation got worse, modernism came to be seen as a kind of decadent indulgence of the privileged classes — especially by the venal and soulless Jews — while the desperate masses went without work and food, and so, National Socialists promoted themselves as the cultural enemies of most forms of modernism in art. As such, modernism gained the cachet of freedom and liberty as the persecuted form of expression under Nazism, and many Europeans were delighted to see the return of modernism after WWII. But ironically, the sheer horror of WWII, at least for a time, exposed the moral hollowness of modernism though that was hardly Hitler’s intention. The preening and privileged avant-garde conceits of modernism seemed trivial and even irresponsible at a time when so many people were going without proper housing, food, clothes, and medicine; and this explains why neo-realism dominated so much of European cinema for over a decade following the end of WWII. Even the highly stylized THE THIRD MAN came down to the moral question of doing-the-right-thing; in a way, we come to admire the author of simple westerns as a man of honesty and common sense, especially in contrast to European intellectuals asking questions about James Joyce and stream-of-consciousness when there’s so much misery in the streets of Austria and elsewhere in Europe. A film like 8 ½ or BREATHLESS would have seemed obscene in 1945. Modernism was in full bloom in European cinema by the late 50s, but, even as it posed as the ‘leftist’ challenge to bourgeois conventions, it was an exercise of bourgeois privilege by artists whose main admirers part of the privileged classes that preferred abstractions, fashions, and theories to reality on the ground and complexity of history. Of course, many liberals today would prefer to think that so much had changed since then, what with the changes wrought by the radical 60s and the ‘long march through the institutions’ and the raising of ‘consciousness’ through political correctness, but, in truth, most of ‘progressive’ historiography and sociology continue to be abstract, precious, and divorced from reality. Most of it’s designed to further the power and privilege of Jews and willfully blind to the raw truths of social/biological reality and the controversy of history. If indeed ‘progressive’ historiography and sociology are so daring and disturbing, why are they so favored by the elites who graduate from Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, and Princeton and then grow richer and richer and more privileged and powerful while the rest of us have less and less? The cult of Obama, the rhetoric of ‘equality’ that basically favors homos, the banning of terms of ‘illegal aliens’ as ‘derogatory’, and etc. are all part of the Jewish elite’s design to gain total control of the social, political, and cultural order.)
If some individuals, like the woman in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, couldn’t or wouldn’t let go of the past in the aftermath of WWII, there were many more Europeans who pretended as if the past hadn’t even happened — , and this was also true of many members of the ‘Greatest Generation’ who repressed memories of hard times and the war for a few reasons: (1) their stoicist principles discouraged them from calling attention to their deprivations and suffering in the 30s and 40s — this was especially true among the men — as it was considered bad form to ‘plead for sympathy’ (2) they felt shame in having had so little(and even having been dependent on the government) during the bad times and also wanted to put behind the nightmare of WWII (3) the comforting narrative of America having saved the world from the Great Depression and WWII was good enough, so why open up a whole new can of worms and undermine the preferred ‘legend’? So, the Greatest Generation, surrounded with newfound and unprecedented wealth after WWII, urged the boomers to sign onto ‘plastics’; the great irony of the generational conflict during the 60s was that even as the boomers were rebelling and against the ‘old ways’ of the Greatest Generation, the latter had done so much to deny or repress the past in favor of amnesiac consumerism and prosperity; and even as the boomers were rejecting the past, they were digging to excavate its hidden truths; in a way, the boomers were trying to recover the forgotten or lost past. While many Greatest Generation people were listening to Perry Como and Herb Alpert, boomers were rediscovering the folk tradition in music, and some of the hippies were reconnecting with Romantic movement of the 19th century. (Another dynamics that has often been overlooked in discussion of the 60s is the conflict between the GG and the pre-GG generation. In the 1950s and 1960s, many GGs were still in their thirties, forties, or early fifties, which means they were still relatively young and often at odds with older folks who still held considerable economic, political, and voting power; indeed, most of the great social, cultural, and economic changes of the 50s and 60s were driven by the ideas and movements led by GGs — many of them Jewish — against pre-GGs — many of them wasp. So, even though the boomers, with their Rock music and drug scene, made the most noise, the real generational conflict in the 50s and 60s was between idealistic/progressive GGs versus conservative GGs. To be sure, liberal GGs were allied with old radicals, and conservative GGs were allied with old reactionaries. But the difference was that liberal GGs led the progressive movement that was supported by old radicals from behind, whereas conservative GGs followed the conservative movement that was led by old reactionaries who stood at its front and center; it was this discrepancy in vision and energy that would, in the end, favor liberalism over conservatism, i.e. liberalism is more effective in recruiting and passing power to its young than conservatism is.)
On the one hand, post-war France faced all sorts of problems, not least due to the crises in Vietnam and Algeria, but many French people managed to overlook or ignore overseas conflicts, as if the stench of tragedy had swiftly blown away with the end of WWII, clearing the way for a new France where the fragrance of perfume hung in the air. (Michael Haneke takes issue with this amnesia in CACHE, according to which mass violence overtook the streets of France in the 1950s, leading to the deaths of THOUSANDS of Algerians, an horrific episode willfully pushed down the memory hole — I personally never heard of it prior to watching Haneke’s film — in a society all-too-eager to re-establish ‘normalcy’ and ‘get back to business’ as a consumer-democracy. Interestingly enough, the career trajectory of Francois Truffaut followed this pattern. The angry film critic of the 1950s with a big chip on his shoulder, whose early films like 400 BLOWS and JULES AND JIM were defined by bitterness and tragedy, later made inane pap like the Antoine Doinel sequels and DAY FOR NIGHT. In contrast, Jean-Luc Godard gradually abandoned his lightness and humor for radical commitment to ‘truth’, indeed even to the point of lashing out at Truffaut for his lack of ‘commitment’. Partly, this divergence between friends was the result of contrasting personalities but also probably owed to their different upbringing. Truffaut, whose childhood was somewhat deprived, was appreciative of the fame and fortune that came his way, whereas Godard, who grew up with plenty and privilege, saw art-and-culture less as a career than a platform.)
Until the early 70s, most Frenchmen didn’t think about the extent of French Collaboration during the German Occupation, and indeed were only gradually prodded in that direction by pushy Jews such as Marcel Ophuls, which goes to show that the cult of victimology doesn’t naturally arise from some mysterious force of historical conscience but must be created, pressured, and enforced through control of the media and public discourse. (Peoples, like individuals, are loathe to admit wrongdoing and will do so only if strong-armed to do so — or else face the risk of being shamed and destroyed publicly for lack of remorse and/or contrition — , and the ‘crime’ will become part of the national mythology only if the children of the accused are raised with the secularized version of the Original Sin whose stain is said to pass from parents to children. Notice how Bill Clinton denied having had any ‘sexual relations’ with the woman until he could no longer deny the smoking or squirting gun evidence. Similarly, most white Americans preferred not to discuss the historical problems of black slavery in post-Civil-War America, most Germans preferred not to discuss the Holocaust in post-war Germany, and most Frenchmen preferred not to discuss French Collaboration-and-the-terrible-lynch-mob-retribution-against-the-Collaborators following the end of WWII. Blacks and Jews forced white Americans to come to terms with the historical past, which is why so much emphasis on collective ‘white guilt’ pertains to black or Jewish issues at the expense of most others. Why do we care more about what happened to blacks than what happened to the natives of the Americas who were killed and enslaved by the millions with the coming of the white man, Spanish and Anglo? Because blacks, especially with the support of Jewish media, are so much more vocal and also because they are more useful to Jews who need to bait white Americans with ‘racist guilt’ in order to browbeat them into submission. Also, Jews need white Hispanics, aka Conquistador Americans, as nominal ‘people of color’ allies against White Americans, and that means going easy on the extent of Spanish/Portuguese oppression of the American natives and, instead, favoring the convenient narrative that all Hispanics are a ‘beautiful’ and ‘harmonious’ blend of all races of the world and, as such, should serve as the future racial template for all white Americans who too need to be mongrelized. Also, needless to say, most native peoples of America, due to certain Asiatic traits — as they’d crossed over into the Americas through Alaska tens of thousands of years ago — , tend to be less vocal, pushy, and aggressive than Jews and blacks, and this is also true of the rather stiff and passive American Indians as well; even when they complain, they don’t holler and act wild like Negroes, nor do they get all pushy and dig into whites as pesky Jews like Tim Wise and Bill Maher often do. Victimology is a social construct and must be created, promoted, and maintained, which isn’t to say that certain peoples weren’t victimized in the past as, indeed, black slavery and racial discrimination are facts of American history. But suppose most American blacks were willing to let bygones be bygones, didn’t make a fuss, and made peace with whites. Would whites really have become so hung up about the ‘original sin of slavery’? Every group has been victimized throughout history as all peoples had their high points and low points, all people had been winners and losers, all peoples conquered and were conquered, all peoples enslaved and were enslaved. So, why are some people designated as ‘victim groups’ while others are not? Their victim narratives have been constructed into Identities; it’s a kind of collective moral tribalism. So, even though white Hispanics arrived in the New World long before the Anglos and committed all sorts of horrors, they count as a ‘victim group’ according to the socially constructed narrative of ‘American imperialism over Latin America’, the one-drop rule that says even a blonde-and-blue-eyed white Hispanic with a single drop of black or native blood is a ‘person of color’, and the cult of illegal-aliens-as-victims that imbues the Hispanic community — even legal Hispanic Americans — with the status of the oppressed by association with nobly illegal Hispanics who are supposedly denied their full humanity by American ‘Nazis’. But why aren’t Chinese-Americans considered a victim group though their ancestors were treated harshly in the building of railroads in the 19th century? Because East-Asian Americans are far less vocal in their social construction of victim-hood and since East Asian victim identity isn’t favored by Jews who want to use ‘yellow peril’ to distract white American minds away from the reality of Jewish power. And why do many Americans think that radical leftists of the 1940s and 1950s were bigger victims in American history than conservatives ruined/blacklisted by political correctness or 100,000+ Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned during WWII? Because Jews who control the media and academia have made a big fuss about the ‘noble’ victims of ‘McCarthyism’, especially as many of the leftist agents and sympathizers were Jewish. And why are most Americans blind to the suffering of Palestinians? Because no matter how much Palestinians and their sympathizers try to construct a victim identity, it goes ignored by the Jewish media and academia that dominate America and prefer the narrative of Zionist victim-hood that says Israel with 300 illegal nukes is under grave threat by neo-Nazi Iran even though Iran has no nukes! So many white Americans have been victimized by black crime and violence, but how come a white victim-hood identity cannot be constructed within the framework of such social reality? Because no matter how well-constructed it may be as an idea, it isn’t given the necessary air time in the Jewish-controlled media that, instead, ennoble the Magic Negro narrative, and besides, the Jewish-controlled academia denigrates as ‘racist’ and ‘reactionary’ any white identity that empowers or ennobles whiteness. Thus, even a billionaire Jew is seen as a ‘victim’ whose grandparents weren’t admitted to some country club, whereas a white kid who is robbed and murdered by blacks or a white woman who is raped by black thugs isn’t considered a racial, historical, or social victim but merely as an isolated victim of crime where ‘race had nothing to do with it’; by the way, did the Rothschilds open their mansions and banks to a whole host of non-Jews, especially Gypsies and ‘dumb Polacks’? Did Jewish country clubs admit black, Asian, or Hispanic members? If memory serves me right, Michael Jordan applied for membership to a Jewish Golf Club in the 1990s but was denied, after which he spoke of building a country club of his own and excluding Jews, whereupon the Jewish community harshly criticized him for ‘antisemitic’ sentiments. So, Jews can exclude non-Jews, but if a gentile even jokes about having a club of his own and keeping Jews out, that is just so terrible. Every group can conceivably construct a victim identity for itself, and every group can conceivably be tagged with the victor/villain identity. Jews can construct themselves as the victims of antisemitism and the Holocaust, but they can also be constructed into villains of world communism and Zionism. But being so clever, Jews have made themselves out to be the prime victims of the communism as well by selectively harping on the fact that Stalin purged a lot of Jews, all the while conveniently ignoring the fact that Jews played a decisive role in the creation of the Soviet Union and even in the rise of Stalin. And even though Jews have ethnically cleansed the Palestinians who, to this day, live in abject poverty, the Chosen People narrative would have us believe that poor-poor Zionist Israelis are under grave ‘existential’ threat from Palestinian Nazis who are planning to drive Jews into the sea. Chinese have constructed a victim identity whereby modern Chinese history was a non-stop series of calamities and humiliation at the hands of ravenous invasion of Europeans, Americans, and Japanese, that is until the great Chinese Communist Party put an end to all that and allowed China to ‘stand up’ in the world again. But never mind that the Chinese Communists killed more Chinese than were killed by all the foreign imperialists put together, and never mind China’s miserable human rights record in Tibet and other regions where non-Chinese have to live under Chinese imperialism. And never mind that it was the KMT that did the bulk of the fighting against the Japanese while Chinese Communists waited in the rear to eventually pounce on the weakened KMT to feed on its carcass. Just as Eric Hobsbawm said nations are ‘imagined communities’ or ‘constructs’, so are victim-hoods. Constructs are based partly on reality — ethnic groups with shared cultures do exist as dominant populations over certain geographies, and the history of the world is rife with peoples being conquered, defeated, mass-killed, enslaved, and/or exiled — , but they are never reflections of the complete reality but products of conscious selection of certain realities and deletion/suppression of others. After all, depending on how one constructs the narrative, one can equally make a case for black liberation/progress in America under the enlightened rule of whites. We all know of the narrative that focuses on slavery and racial discrimination, but suppose we consider the original state of blacks in Africa in contrast to black social reality as the result of white rule in America? Prior to being brought to the New World, black Africans had been spear-chucking savages with no great religion, no great philosophy, no written language/literature, no real medicine, no advanced morality, no math, no real science and technology to speak of, no idea of progress or social reform, no understanding of complex agriculture, no concept of political freedom, no interesting sports, no economic organization to speak of. Their only musical instruments were bongo drums and other crude concoctions. Black Africans had hardly changed over 100,000s of years. But within a few centuries under white rule, blacks gained infinitely more than they would have on their own. Even if blacks had it worse than whites in America, it was white rule that allowed blacks to reap so many rewards that they never would have on their own as spear-chucking jigger-jivers despised even by hippos and hyenas. Though silly liberals only fixate on how whites prospered on the backs of black labor, they are blind to the much greater reward blacks reaped by marching behind white genius and brilliance. So, black victim-hood narrative and identity are not the only possible readings of history, as one can just as easily and convincingly make a case of black attainment of great rewards under white rule. Indeed, look at South Africa in contrast to other black African nations. Why does it have the biggest economy in Africa? Though silly liberals only fixate on the ‘evils’ of Apartheid, it was Apartheid that have given white Afrikaners the window of opportunity to work their magic and transform South Africa into a First World nation, and indeed, even during the yrs of Apartheid, black Africans in neighboring nations were dreaming to go work in South African mines as whites had the proven skills and intelligence to run complex operations, something that became increasingly rare in black-ruled African nations where kleptomaniac jigger-jivers looted and stole everything they could get their hands on. Sad to say, America, Canada, and Western Europe have all come under the victim-hood-social/historical-construction of the Jews. But pockets of Central/Eastern Europe and Russia continue to maintain their own social-constructions of victim-hood that are designed to serve their own national/ethnic interests and power than those of International Jews. At one time, the French had propped a proudly nationalistic victim-hood construct of WWII that had most Frenchmen — except for a handful of loathsome Collaborators — as equal victims under the Germans. According to this narrative, all Frenchmen were equally noble as victims, Jews and gentiles alike, and many courageous Frenchmen had been part of the Resistance. But beginning in the late 60s and picking up pace in the 1970s, a new construct arose insisting that the bulk of the Resistance had consisted of leftists — notably communists — and that French Jews had suffered especially while ‘too many’ Frenchmen made peace with the new order under German Occupation, and worst of all, even collaborated on a grand scale to hunt down Jews for mass extermination, i.e. it wasn’t just a handful of bad eggs who’d been Collaborators but entire swaths of the French population; and even most Frenchmen who didn’t directly collaborate with the Nazis or the Vichy regime barely lifted a finger to save Jews. The revised construct of victim-history of the Occupation period was surely closer to the truth, but the problem was that while Jews insisted that the French look in the mirror and face their own demons, the Jews never meant to do likewise in regard to the exploitative and/or murderous roles they’d played in communism, radical subversion, finance capitalism, and Zionism. Jews called on gentiles to air out their dirty laundry without any intention of airing their own, and for this reason, Jewish morality has generally been in bad faith rather than in a spirit of mutual moral understanding and obligation, and this is why anyone who trusts Jews is crazy. The problem was not France’s eventual admittance of what had really happened during WWII but the Jewish refusal to confess their own ‘historical crimes’. When one side decides to make good and act fair while the other side remains dirty and nasty, the former will always lose. Claude Lanzmann is a typical Jew who demonstrates this crucial lesson about Jews. In the 1950s, he hung around Jean-Paul Sartre who was then apologizing for Stalin, the killer of millions of Christian Slavs. Lanzmann had no problem with Sartre’s paeans to Stalin or with the role of Jewish communists in aiding and abetting Stalin’s mass killings and creation of the totalitarian system. Lanzmann is also a flag-waving Zionist cheerleader for the oppression of Palestinians. But this dirty Jew wants the world to get on its knees and apologize to the Jews for letting the Shoah happen. Jewish moralism is really a game of power to strengthen the Jews while weakening the power of enemies or potential rivals of Jews. Though Jews reaped so many rewards in America that was founded on Anglo-American principles, values, and organizations — indeed, if not for the Anglo-American basis of the American Civilization, Jews would never have gained the means and wealth to gain control of the world — , do Jews see themselves as the greatest beneficiaries of the freedoms, opportunities, innovations, and rule of law made possible by Wasp tradition and power? Do you hear Jews expressing any gratitude? No, even though Jews are now the elite overlords of America and employ every means to keep expanding their privilege and power, they would have us believe that they too are the poor tragic historical victims of Wasps because, uh, some millionaire Jew wasn’t accepted into a wasp country club in the 1950s or 1960s. Unlike all those evil Wasp-dominated institutions, I suppose Jewish-run Hollywood was open to a whole host of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and hillbillies in those bad ole days. Victim-hood identity can easily be constructed and enforced, but its success depends on creative uses of theory, legal power, media access, academic domination, and control of marketing. Most victim-hood identities today have been constructed by Jews in order to weaken the power of whites. Feminism is one such identity, with its main purpose being to drive a wedge between white males and white females, thus allowing Jews to play divide-and-rule between white man and white woman. The constructed identity of female victim-hood encourages rich privileged white girls in elite colleges to feel and complain as victims. Meanwhile, even poor white males, whose jobs have been shipped overseas and whose wages have been drastically reduced by massive immigration, are seen as ‘evil racist privileged white males’. Jews love this because it makes white women hate white men, and no people can survive for long when its men lose the respect of its women. Homo victim-hood is another constructed identity. That homos had often been ridiculed and even persecuted in the past is true enough; it’s also true that there are places even today where homos may be treated with open derision and hostility, especially in the Negro community where it’s not uncommon for black thugs to beat up ‘faggoty ass mothafuc*as’ though, to be sure, Negroes be calling anyone ‘faggoty’ in a fight. But today’s homo victim-hood identity is really a form of privilege or privictim-hood. It’s like a badge of honor, just as the identity of Christian victim-hood turned into a form of privilege for triumphant Christians. Though Christians, beginning in the Middle Ages, became the lords of Europe and rulers of entire empires, even rich Christian women would wear Crucifix necklaces to feel an association with the spiritual origins of victim-hood at the heart of early Christianity. Even though European Christians had power over the Jews and often oppressed Jews, they propped up the ‘eternal’ legend of Jews as murderous and oppressors killers of Christ and the early Christian community. Jews have reversed this game of ‘eternal victim-hood’ so that white gentiles are forever to be seen as ‘eternal oppressors’ no matter how weakened they become while Jews are to be seen as ‘eternal victims’ no matter how rich and powerful they become.)
Throughout the 50s and early 60s, the French preferred to believe things were simply getting better and the past was safely behind them, and this was especially true of the conservative elements of French society as right-wing ideology as a whole had been tainted by the WWII and the German Occupation.
(Even though the French Right had been in retreat since the end of WWII, it remained a powerful force in the post-war period, especially as liberated France emerged with its empire intact in Southeast Asia, North Africa, parts of the Middle East, and Africa. The French Right clung to Vietnam to the bitter end, and the war between Algerians and French colonialists threatened to spill over into France itself and ignite a civil war between the French Right and the French Left. As long as France was head of an empire, the French Right still had a powerful role in the political destiny of France, especially as the French military was dominated by conservative elements. The question of empire also threatened to split the French Left as some French leftists clung to the outlook that French rule and culture were civilizing influences around the world. And intellectuals like Albert Camus, though sympathetic to the demands of Algerian rebel fighters, also understood the French colonialist community in Algeria, not least because of his own upbringing there; his firsthand knowledge of Algeria went beyond ideological abstractions; similarly, George Orwell’s experiences on the ground during the Spanish Civil War made him see the conflict beyond the simple dichotomy of ‘evil right’ vs. ‘noble left’. Though the French Right was initially united in the defense of empire, even diehard rightists had to admit that Indochina was irretrievably lost after the disaster at Dien Bien Phu. And as the crisis got worse in Algeria, the French Right began to splinter along the lines of diehard imperialists and make-peace pragmatists. One of the positive results of the crisis was the political peace that was achieved between the Right and the Left under Charles De Gaulle. Ideologically, De Gaulle was a conservative, even a reactionary, but like the British conservative Winston Churchill, he’d opposed German expansionism, and that made him acceptable to the liberal community as well. He was a ‘good’ rightist who wasn’t tainted by Collaboration. But he was also admired by the French Right as a patriotic general who romantically harked back to the Old Republic, indeed even dreamed of the restoration of the monarchy. But De Gaulle was nothing if not pragmatic — his instincts were as political as ideological/militaristic — , and he saw the writing on the wall as the problems of Algeria refused to go away. The unspoken agreement between the French Right and the French Left was that the rightist De Gaulle would let go of Algeria — and stab the French ‘far right’ in the back — and, in return, the French Right would attain a respectable cultural and moral role to play in French society, something of a welcome relief to French conservatives whose standing had been dwindled by German Occupation and considerable collaboration with the Germans by French rightists. While this arrangement was acceptable to a broad spectrum of French society ranging from the moderate right to the moderate left, radical leftist elements saw it as a selling out, and of course, French Jews felt bitter that the French Left had defacto rehabilitated the French Right that hadn’t been properly brought to account for its Collaborationist crimes during WWII; and, America’s alliance with the French Right as a counter-force against the Soviet Union made the French Left especially anti-American, though, to be sure, the anti-Americanism of the French Left was partly shared by the French Right in that both the Left and Right in France had long entertained the notion of France as the leading positive force in the world; French Left saw France as the spreader of Enlightenment values around the world, and the French Right saw France as the spreader of superior French culture around the world; thus, both the French Left and the French Right had reasons to hate America’s role in Vietnam, with the French Left seeing it as evidence of American neo-imperialism standing in the way of communist revolution — that supposedly had roots in the French Revolution — and the French Right seeing it as American neo-imperialists working behind the scenes to steal the empires of European nations; Americans were supposedly worse because whereas French imperialists had taught the natives to enjoy fine wine and souffle, Americans were turning them into Coca-Cola guzzlers and burger gobblers. If nationalism came to be closely associated with rightism in many nations, it was more complicated in the case of France because French nationalism was birthed with the French Revolution, and thus, French nationalism took on both leftist and rightist shadings; in contrast, German nationalism was essentially the construction of the German Right, especially under the guidance of arch-reactionary Otto Von Bismarck who never entertained any notion that German ideas, culture, or experience could or should serve as a model to liberate or elevate humanity around the world. French leftist-nationalism and American leftist-nationalism were also different from most leftist-nationalisms of the Third World that generally lacked the universalist element, i.e. most Third World leftist-nationalists wanted to expel imperialists or overthrow ‘reactionary’ elites to gain control over their own nations and not much else. Even though Vietnamese leftist-nationalists made all the correct noises about the brotherhood of man and supporting the world revolution, their only true interest was gaining control of Vietnam and minding their own business; in contrast, American leftist-nationalists and French leftist-nationalists saw their own national histories and principles as lessons/models of universalism for all of mankind; in the case of America, such feelings were further abetted by its missionary zeal to Evangelize the world. In the 50s and 60s, Resnais sympathized with the radical elements of the French left though he was far from a doctrinaire leftist. He was more of the critical leftist tradition than of propositional leftist tradition, i.e. he preferred to expose what was wrong about or hidden within bourgeois society than offer a know-it-all blueprint for a better future. Indeed, that aspect of Resnais is a major recurring theme throughout his work: the obsessive realization of what is wrong with one’s life and/or the world but the lack of clarity as to what should or could be done to make it better. Resnais’s radicalism was diagnostic than applicative.)
Major political crises rocked France in the 50s — with even plots by the military to overthrow the government — , but the French, by and large, preferred the narrative of the actualization/universalization of middle class comfort for all Frenchmen, i.e. the bourgeois lifestyle, which had been the privilege of the affluent classes, seemed within reach of the working class and their children in the rising prosperity of the 50s and 60s, and this socio-economic transformation had such a broad appeal that both the French Left and the French Right felt compelled to abandon old principles and agendas to accommodate the new reality, which meant that the rhetoric of class warfare and revolution grew weaker on the French Left AND the rhetoric of French tradition, glory, and empire subsided on the French Right. In a way, the diehards of the French Left and French Right grieved over the loss not only of old passions but of old enemies, as both the French Left and French Right were coming to terms with the universal-consumer-bourgeoisization of postwar France. Not only did De Gaulle and French generals let go of Algeria, but lifelong leftists like Andre Malraux worked in De Gaulle’s administration and became part of the Establishment; and, as living standards improved all around, the class warfare element of traditional French Leftism became a harder sell. And as the economy was improving and expanding just when France was letting go of its empire, the economic justification for the imperialist project lost luster as well, and, for a time, it seemed as though France was growing more insular as its retreated from its former colonies and focused on consumerism at home; and since living standards were rising all around and reduced class tensions, the French Left had to grab onto something else to remain relevant, and one was the idea premised on the notion that conditions in France were improving only because world exploitation continued apace via an insidious form of exploitation called neo-imperialism, and the other was the idea of personal realization/liberation among the younger generation by rebelling against materialist consumerism, though, to be sure, the young revolutionaries were wallowing in the very culture whose owners/controllers were being denounced as the enemy. Whether this socio-cultural development was intentional or accidental, it was a great advantage to the powers-that-be as the rebels had to buy the stuff offered by capitalists to attack the capitalists, e.g. young people bought Beatles and Stones albums and watched films like THE GRADUATE and EASY RIDER to feel themselves as part of the counterculture that was supposedly waging war on The System and The Man. It was a kind of rock concert revolution where energy and style counted more than ideas and sense; it was like all those so-called Italian Marxist making Spaghetti Westerns to show their solidarity with Third World peoples; it was a case of ‘the revolution will be performed as a rock concert or turned into a movie’; since capitalists controlled the music and movie industry, it was a revolution that came to rely on corporate-consumerist-capitalism even while ostensibly railing against it, and of course, this conceit continues today with movies like MATRIX trilogy and the cult of celebradicals. Revolutionariness itself has become a neo-bourgeois brand, attitude, and gesture. Bernado Bertolucci, a kind of Italian Oliver Stone before Oliver Stone, touched on this problem in BEFORE THE REVOLUTION where a privileged ‘Marxist’ youth has no idea on how to start a revolution, not least because he’s too busy chasing after girls and having fun; and in Marco Bellocchio’s CHINA IS NEAR, the revolutionary enterprise has become something of a prank, more akin to stuffing a frog down a girl’s blouse than seriously changing society to improve the lives of the people. Godard was onto this when he made the famous quip about ‘the Generation of Marx and Coca-Cola’ in MASCULIN-FEMININ, and it was perhaps the main reason for his psychotic viciousness against the French bourgeoisie in WEEKEND. In earlier times, the bourgeoisie used to mean rich capitalists who owned big banks and factories and by extension, the levers of government. Though there were the lesser bourgeoisie below the big bourgeoisie, they’d comprised a relatively small share of the overall population. Love them or hate them, they were clearly what they were: the privileged upper crust of society with more power and wealth, thus not to be mistaken for The People. But what some leftists found alarming in the post-war period was that the majority of the French were entering the ranks of the ‘universalized’ form of neo-bourgeoisie — or thought they were because they could afford the right kinds of clothes and shoes and even own a car — and thus even The People were losing their sense of class consciousness and sense of historical duty to class struggle and revolution. So, the main villains of Godard’s WEEKEND are not the superrich or big bourgeoisie but regular French people who had made it into the ranks of the neo-bourgeoisie. The old rich bourgeoisie may have been a**holes but at least they were true to what they were: defenders of the ‘exploitative’ order. In contrast, the bulk of neo-bourgeoisie of the postwar period comprised the very people who’d once belonged to the ‘oppressed’ masses; it seemed that they were all-too-willing to turn their backs on their historical consciousness simply because they could afford cars, perfumes, and nice dresses. Godard also wanted to show that the new bourgeoisie were self-deluded fools because, beneath the veneer of their newfound privileges, they were really prostitutes who sold their souls to the system just to have ‘good things’ in life, and this ideas was later feminist-ized by the dreadful Chantal Akerman whose JEANNE DIELMAN is about some ‘bourgeois’ woman who sustains her privilege by selling her body to men with money. (The REAL TRUTH is that we’ve all been reduced to being prostitutes of the globalist Jews. We are all Palestinians now.) In a nutshell, the once-proletariat as the ‘new bourgeoisie’ were really just the prostitutariat.

For a time, the harmony of ideological compromise arrived at by the Left and the Right in the 50s and early 60s seemed to have achieved lasting peace, as most people seemed content and complacent in the new order, but the expanding freedoms and privileges ironically made the young restless and angry — for older people, the new arrangement was better than anything they’d known in the past, but for young people without memory of war and depression, the new reality wasn’t good enough — , exploding with the social revolutions of 1968, but in the end, the momentum of consumer-capitalism couldn’t be reversed as too many people had an economic stake in it. Also, young rebels, divided among countless factions, knew well enough how to throw rocks and bottles and shout slogans but lacked the requisite idea or plan to create a new society. Also, even the working class Frenchmen who’d initially sympathized with the May 68 radicals turned against them for two reasons: (1) most of the radicals were privileged college students from richer classes only indulging in the game of playing at revolutionaries (2) working classes of postwar France decided they didn’t want revolution since they had it pretty good in the new order.

Paradoxically of course, as in America and rest of Europe, the rise of radical politics in the late 60s in France was really a sign of much economic and social progress, i.e. record number of young people had access to institutions of higher learning, and what with job prospects seeming so boundless, they felt no urgency to finish school and pursue a humdrum career. But things had remained relatively calm up to the mid-60s. Though the war in Algeria had divided the nation, France finally let go of the former colony, and a kind of permanent normalcy of bourgeois-consumerist-universalism seemed at hand. As soon as the Algerian nightmare ended, the French seemed to forget that it had ever happened — and as Algeria descended into chaos and poverty under the rule of its former ‘freedom fighters’, even French leftists who’d idolized the Algerians rebels/terrorists lost interest. Though France never lacked for vocal politics — especially given that the Communist Party routinely won a quarter or third of the votes in national elections — , the rising middle classes and even working classes preferred the good life, consumer goods, pop culture, and fashion. They wanted to forget the dark past and the troubled world — especially the Third World from which France had finally unmoored itself with varying degrees of pain, humiliation, and/or relief — by indulging in Hollywood movies, yeye singers, new lines of cosmetics and perfumes, and etc. In a way, this was the Americanization of France, but one could argue that the French had pioneered the socio-economic phenomena of fashions and trends long before Americans did with Hollywood and pop music world dominance. (This was certainly true of high culture and aristocratic fashions, as for centuries, the elites all over Europe had looked to France for the new styles of dance, painting, music, literature, attire, perfumes, and etc.) The idea of popular culture was hardly new to the French. The difference was that the French used to be the leaders of cultural fashions, high and low — and even their low culture had an air of fanciness or sophistication — , whereas Americans came to dominate and own world culture, especially the ‘low’ but even the ‘high’, in the post-war period. Americans had the vast and diverse talent pool, the money to spread its culture around the world, the capital to invest in new ideas, and the rewards to attract the best and brightest from all over the world; and American museums and galleries, flush with cash, bought art works from all over the world, even from the heart of Europe. What offended the French — as well as other Europeans — was the sense that Americans were BUYING OFF so much of the talent. If European culture had organically grown out of European soil and thereby belonged to Europe, Americans simply bought the talent and products of Europe with tons of cash. Because of WWII and the Holocaust, Europeans could no longer bitch about International Jews, and so, ‘Americans’ became the new bad guys who spread the cash around and gained control of everything. Be that as it may, the French didn’t simply surrender to American culture like many nations did. The French were not a bunch of silly Filipinos whose silly behavior seems to be confirm the notion that ‘inside every gook is an American trying to get out.’ Instead, the French absorbed American culture in sophisticated and critical manners. Critics/directors like Godard and Truffaut took Hollywood conventions and reworked them for their own purposes — just as British rockers didn’t merely imitate American Rock n Roll but ‘elevated’ it into something generally more complex and artistic. French film critics noticed things about Hollywood movies that Americans had missed. And French music lovers thought they appreciated Jazz with more depth than Americans did, who presumably enjoyed it only as dance music. Thus, the French made even the absorption of American culture into a kind of resistance against American culture. It was as if the French were digesting American culture on their own terms and discovering meanings that had gone unnoticed by Americans. Thus, in a way, the French could lay critical claim to American culture even though they didn’t create it — it illustrates how criticism can function as a kind of ‘parasitism’, i.e. if you can’t own the work as creator, own it as the critic who purportedly understands it better than the creator does, which is the conceit behind most of the interpretations of THE SHINING in ROOM 237; of course, the most effective way to claim ownership of something you yourself didn’t create is to control the legality and economics around it, which is why Hollywood Jews control even the movies that were written, designed, and directed by others; Jews control the cash and the contracts; thus, even gentile film directors in Hollywood are mostly owned and controlled by Jewish financiers and producers; George Lucas used to be one of the few great exceptions, but being a silly white liberal boy, he seems to have given himself over to an Aunt-Jemima-look-alike Negress; white boys do silly things, and it’s no wonder that Wasps lost to the Jews.

France’s critical approach toward American culture reflected the earlier attitude of European archaeological scholars toward the ancient glories they’d ‘rediscovered’ and salvaged from neglect of the (mostly non-white) natives who’d long forgotten the sources and achievements of their once glorious past. It was as if it fell upon the enlightened Europeans to rediscover, examine, and interpret the histories and cultures of the natives who’d fallen into near irreversible cultural decline. Thus, Europeans could condescendingly lay claim to much of world culture, indeed even expropriate whole chunks of it by hauling them to European museums to preserve and study.
While all sorts of cultural ferment and social change defined the post-war period, there was no satisfactory way of coming to terms with all that had happened during the war. Not only had the Nazis committed unprecedented horrors — even beyond the pale of communist ones — , but a good many non-Germans had collaborated in them. And after the war, some European nations still had imperial possessions that soon erupted into violence, and therefore, their moral pride of having fought against or been victimized by Nazi imperialism was compromised. Many in the Third World even began to argue that the British and the French were hardly different from the Germans during the war, and the European Left picked up on this line of argument as well, though, to be sure, it was used with the greatest relish by European intellectuals when it came to US involvement in Vietnam. In a famous essay, Jean-Paul Sartre argued that what US was doing in Indochina was nothing less than full-scale genocide.
The radical elements of Europe fanned the flames of global revolution and began to condemn European civilization in its entirety than just in its parts. Jews, gradually regaining their power and confidence, began to push the issue of Nazi crimes and European culpability in them.
In contrast, the ‘bourgeois’ elements wanted a return to normalcy and stability. Normalcy and stability were good and appealing, but could they be justified after what Europe had gone through in WWII and when Europeans were ‘acting like Nazis’ in Algeria, Vietnam, and Kenya? (Ironically though, Europe could indulge in issues of historical morality to such an extent precisely because it was doing so well in the post-war years. Leftism and political morality in Europe used to be obsessed with the Here-and-Now for there had been plenty of misery among the masses in the home country. Leftism used to be about better wages, better housing, and better food for the masses of the French. But once most French people became well-off in post-war France, the moral issue became more historical — what did we do wrong in the past? — than centered in the present. And since most Frenchmen were living well in France, the French left had to look for moral causes in OTHER nations, especially the Third World, to stir up moral outrage about human evil. Since the West had created the international order, of course, much of the blame fell on its shoulders.) And what about the Americans who provided the nuclear umbrella for Europe against the Soviets? Were Americans really the good guys who saved Europe, or were they the new imperialists who were acting like Nazis in Vietnam after the French had cleared out? For men like Resnais — and Godard and Chris Marker — , the problem wasn’t with normalcy and stability per se. Rather, it was their ‘indecency’ in relation to the larger reality of what had happened and what was happening. How could Europeans so soullessly forget what had happened in WWII and lead comfortable middle class lives as if WWII was just a historical inconvenience? How could they ease themselves into a life of comfort when the world was in flames as the result of wars by capitalist-imperialists like the French in Algeria and then Americans in Vietnam? (Godard’s leftist credentials in the 1950s seem to have been tenuous at best, and one wonders if the real impetus for his drift to the Left and then to the Far Left was his growing anti-Americanism borne of wounded national/cultural pride as a Swiss-Frenchman. Did Godard really come to sympathize with Asians, Africans, and later Palestinians, or did he find them to be useful moral crutches for attacking the newly risen American empire and later globalist Zionist power? French have been a proud people, and it could not have felt good to be French after WWII when Americans seemed to have all the power and money. And because of their great pride, the French had been more ‘antisemitic’ than most Europeans for the simple reason that it hurt French pride that the Jews seemed to be smarter in the fields of business and intellectualism. Antisemitism became anathema after WWII, but the cult of French pride remained. As the old nationalistic kind of pride increasingly became taboo — and even laughable given France’s shrinking role in world politics and culture — , certain elements of French society that were not naturally leftist drifted toward a kind of opportunistic leftism as a convenient moral cover for railing at American power and ‘Zionist’ power. It’s like Kevin MacDonald, though generally a rightist when it comes to white interests, is a ‘leftist’ when it comes to the issue of Israel, not so much out of genuine sympathy for Palestinians but as a convenient means to attack Jewish power and hypocrisy.) Though LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD isn’t a political film, the theme of soullessness intercrossed with the theme of memory touches on wider implications — Europe is buried with tens of millions of bodies whose ghostly cries from the dead need to be heard, but the powerful/privileged in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD cannot even be bothered with what happened last year and carry on as if they’re living inside a bubble world like the one in ZARDOZ for the Eternals. The aristocrats in RULES OF THE GAME sweep what really happened under the rug as if it’d been an accident, and the rich ghosts in THE SHINING remain forever oblivious to anything outside their agenda, and likewise, the rich in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD go on as if they’re reside within a realm where the rules of historical time don’t apply; it’s as if they have the privilege of turning time on and off, like within the memory cells of the main character in TIME REGAINED for whom past and present are one. The woman’s denial of having met the man last year may be true or untrue, but the nature of the denial may have certain moral implications — consider the Roman Polanski’s DEATH AND THE MAIDEN where Ben Kingsley’s character denies ever having met Sigourney Weaver’s character, but she is sure he was the man who’d caused her great harm in the past. Notice that the figures in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD are beautiful but soulless, rather like the rich eeriestocrats in THE SHINING. Like the bourgeoisie in Luis Bunuel’s EXTERMINATING ANGEL and THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, they seem willfully oblivious to the world outside their privileged domain. They are the beautiful people in a beautiful world, and their enclosed world and circular concerns aren’t connected to nor acknowledge the real world and real concerns. In their world, they might as well pretend that WWII never happened, that villages are not being torched by imperialists in places like Algeria and Vietnam. (Though Jews bitch and whine about how some gentiles won’t fully come to terms with what they or their kind had done to Jews in the past — some gentiles won’t get on their knees, grovel, apologize, beg forgiveness, follow suicidal national policies to satisfy Jewish passion for vengeance, promise to pay monetary tribute to Jews forever, and etc. — , Jews are amongst the biggest deniers of reality in the world, and this is true on both the macro- and micro-level. Jewish arrogance and contempt are such that many Jews feel that they don’t even need to address or acknowledge the existence of certain peoples or issues. So, Susan Sontag pretended as if she’d never heard of Camille Paglia when she most certainly had. Jews pretend as if the Lavon Affair and the attack on USS Liberty never happened, and since Jews control the media, their memory becomes our memory and their amnesia becomes our amnesia. Because Jewish media never forget about Emmitt Till, we never forget about how he was murdered. On the other hand, the Jew-run media decided that the Knoxville Massacre where a bunch of black thugs raped and murdered a white couple wasn’t worth remembering, and so, most white Americans never heard of it. Jews make sure we don’t forget about the Holocaust, but Jews deny any memory or knowledge of the extensive Jewish role in communist mass killings. And Jews don’t discuss the role of Zionist terrorists in the creation of Israel, and therefore, most Americans don’t know about that either. So, even as Jews insist we gentiles must never forget and never deny, they carry on as an arrogant and contemptuous bunch who cannot be bothered to remember all the sordid details of Jewish history. In college, I had a Jewish professor of modern history of China, and when I mentioned Nien Cheng’s LIFE AND DEATH IN SHANGHAI, she denied ever having heard of the book! It was only a major best seller and a cover story in Time magazine. Though I can’t prove that the Jewess was lying, she most certainly was. As far as she was concerned, the book wasn’t even worth acknowledging since ‘evil conservatives’ were invoking it to denigrate the sacred memory of socialism. That is the Jewish way: Force the enemy to remember and apologize for all the bad stuff but never ever air out their own dirty laundry. Why do Jews act like this? With some Jews, it’s a matter of personality, i.e. it just so happens that many Jews have very nasty personalities, like those of the fat guy in JURASSIC PARK and of Abe Foxman of ADL. The hideousness of Jewish personality blinds Jews to their BS. Consider how Aaron Sorkin who wrote SOCIAL NETWORK denied the fact that today’s Harvard University is totally owned and run by Jews and, instead, would have us believe that poor lonely Jews must swim upstream against the tide of evil crypto-Nazi wasp privilege. Not only do Jews deny the reality of Jewish privilege but maintain the fiction of traditional wasp power and privilege even where there is none. Many hideous Jews willfully and knowingly deny certain facts when dealing with gentiles because they see us as dumb children who aren’t deserving of the truth we can’t handle, just like adults refuse to discuss certain things with their kids. This is one reason why gentiles must never ever trust Jews or deal with them in good faith. Trusting a Jew is like a rabbit trusting a rattlesnake.)

MURIEL blended elements of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR and LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. Similar to MARIENBAD, the style and tone of MURIEL tend toward genteel elegance, yet, as in HIROSHIMA, there’s sorrow behind the smile; the cry has been turned into a song, but at the price of sanity, a loss that barely goes noticed amidst the surfeit of ‘normality’. The figures of MARIENBAD are beautiful masks without souls; they might as well be made of marble and glass inside and out. In contrast, the characters of MURIEL are beautiful faces with wounded souls, marked by bruises under their attires. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR connects private lives to the larger events of history: WWII, German Occupation of France, Liberation, Retribution against Collaborators, the bombing of Hiroshima, the massive loss of ‘innocents’, the rise of new Japan from the rubble. It’s about large events affecting small lives — the tragedy of war and occupation gaveth-and-tooketh away the greatest love of her life — , and how personal pain, insignificant as it may seem in the grand scale of history, means more to the individual than the totality of historic events. (This was also the theme of Mikhail Kalatozov’s CRANES ARE FLYING, the final scene of which has the main character realizing that her lover won’t be returning from war. Soviet Union celebrates a great victory, but she is overcome with loss. But, in keeping with the ideological conventions of the USSR, she comes to feel collective joy by sharing the happiness of other Russian women greeting sons, brothers, fathers, or husbands who have returned alive. She gains a larger sense of what it means to be human, instead of fixating on her own hangups, which is what we observed her do throughout the film. One might find her transformation to be inspirational or a copout, or maybe both. In contrast, the woman in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR can’t compensate her loss by embracing the larger humanity, partly because her dead lover was a German but also due to the peculiarities of her personality — and the greater artistic freedom of Resnais who could venture into thematic and psychological territories out of bounds for Soviet filmmakers in the 1950s.) In a way, the woman in HIROSHIMA is both most noble and most selfish. When France was occupied by a foreign nation(then under the rule of an evil regime), she looked past the political reality and only believed in her love for a German soldier regardless of the larger historical/moral context. And yet, in another way, she was an innocent who believed in true love regardless of nationalities or uniforms — indeed, her sadness by her dead lover’s side was as genuine as Antigone’s love for her dead brother. She didn’t care whether he was ‘German’ or ‘Nazi’. She didn’t care if she would be punished for grieving over a dead German. In an oddly perverse way, the woman is like a modern twist on Joan of Arc. According to legend, Joan of Arc was both deeply private and highly political, and the two facets were eventually bridged via spirituality. Joan became famous as a national heroine, a grand public figure who fought for the honor and pride of France, and yet, the other aspect of Joan is as, if not more, important for it was the solitude of her suffering that turned her from a faceless warrior who’d triumphed on the battlefield to an individual saint who triumphed spiritually as well. The story of her trial and death is a harrowing and lonely one. Yet, she was caught up in the larger themes of national wars and culture clash. What bridged all these elements were her mysterious relationship to higher powers that seemed pure/true to some and satanic/witchcraft-ish to others, and it’s this duality — Joan the witch and Joan the saint — that makes her story so endlessly fascinating. (The problem with most Joan of Arc films is they too easily come down on the side of Joan the Saint. Luc Besson’s treatment took a more ambiguous approach, but the movie stunk to high heaven.) The woman in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR also suffers for reasons that are personal and political. She suffers at the hands of her own countrymen, and even her family neglects her. She is a both a traitor to her nation and a martyr to love, aspects of which reappear during her stay in Japan as a campaigner of peace and lover of a ‘Japper’. But the worst part of it is she survived the ordeal. She would have preferred death at the hands of her tormentors and be reunited with her dead lover. But then, the persecution suddenly came to an end and ‘normality’ returned, and the tormentors and tormented alike went about their business as if none of the violence had happened, especially as both sides felt guilt or shame for either having collaborated with the Germans or having acted like vengeful beasts. The torment that seemed to never end suddenly came to an end one day as if it’d all been nothing more than a bad dream. (Ironically, though HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR exposes the dirty secret of what Frenchmen had done to a ‘horizontal collaborator’, the very idea of revisiting the past and tearing open the historical scab may have set the template for what French Jews did later in regard to French culpability in the Holocaust.) By the late 50s, France seemed like both the same old nation and a wholly new nation, as if the transition from 1930s to 1950s took place without the interruption of the 1940s; there was a sense of continuity and change but without the full account of the horrors of war, defeat, humiliation, occupation, collaboration(especially in the rounding of Jews for mass killing), liberation by Americans — which was another kind of humiliation and occupation in a way — , the bloody and often ugly vengeance against collaborators, etc. (It’s like how we generally prefer to picture a woman before the pregnancy and then with the child after the childbirth, but we block out the gross and painful process of the childbirth itself. It’s like how homomaniacs block out the fact of fecal penetration practiced by homos. We all edit history and reality to push sanitized narratives.) It was as if there had been no WWII, no betrayals, no brutal retribution and mob violence. Paradoxically, such normality seemed abnormal given what had happened not so long ago. How could neighbors who had angrily accused and attacked one another suddenly act as if everything had been on good terms all along? The woman senses the same thing in Hiroshima, a city that had been nuked out of existence, and yet, quickly restored to a bustling modern city with regular people going about their daily lives. (There’s some sense of this in Antonin Moskalyk’s DITA SAXOVA as well, a Czech film about Jewish orphan girls who’d survived the Holocaust but go on living life as a song, though beneath their cheerfulness is a stony quietude that betrays a profound sense of detachment from the indifferent gentile world around them.) So much happened, yet one could almost believe nothing happened, as if a science-fiction sleight-of-hand flipped the world from irreversible madness to mundane sanity, as if great moral lessons from the war could no longer be distinguished from soap commercials. (We know this ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11. The destruction and terror seemed so tragic that the ideological gap between conservatives and liberals seemed to dissolve. Roger Rosenblatt wrote an essay about the end of irony. It was as if the horrors of 9/11 finally shook us out of our Hollywood/celebrity-induced doldrums and forced us to deal with the full weight of reality. But it wasn’t long before Americans went back to becoming obsessive consumers, celebrity-obsessed dolts, and ideological cops-n-robbers, and soon enough, 9/11 no longer has any kind of emotional significance for most Americans, especially after it was cynically exploited by neocons to get US involved in the Iraq War. But then, the same kind of amnesia overtook this nation after the Watergate scandal and the ignominious end in Vietnam. It only took a few yrs for Americans to embrace the collective amnesiac fantasies under feel-good Mr. Normality Ronald Reagan.) What passes for historical memory and political awareness is often kitsch or propaganda, like the docu-drama of the bombing shown in snippets in the opening scene of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR.
The world was changed profoundly with WWII, yet the new normality wrought by the changes felt as if it’d been around forever, as if it had always been THE reality — like Grady insists that Jack Torrance has always been the caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING — , especially as so much of modern culture was geared toward sedating our Panglossian sense of well-being with drinks and distractions. Indeed, consider the sudden and dramatic shift from VHS to DVD but the almost immediate normalization of the new device, as if it’s always been the only true way to watch movies at home; or consider the opening scene of WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS with the big clunky portable phone of the 1980s, a hot item for the rich and privileged back then; what is really jarring is not our awareness of the changes in technology but our feeling that the only true and acceptable normality is one in which we all have state-of-the-art cell phones; we don’t merely acknowledge that the current technology is better but feel it’s the only acceptable technology and that, somehow, the people in the past were less than ‘normal’ for having used such grotesquely clunky devices.
So much has changed, yet change doesn’t feel like change, or rather, the distraction provided by the cult of ‘change’ in the form of ‘progress’ and ‘prosperity’ has a tendency to normalize change as pleasant and peaceful, almost as if it is the new continuity. One might think that for a society to go from rejecting ‘gay marriage’ to accepting it is form of profound change, but the full implication of this radical transformation and cultural destruction goes unnoticed by most Americans since they’ve been led to see change as a happy norm. Americans don’t ask how a nation that would never even have imagined such a thing has suddenly become so crazy about it. Because it’s been sold as the happy norm to a people who are essentially amnesiac, many Americans don’t see ‘gay marriage’ as something alarmingly new but as something so normal that they are shocked to discover that it hadn’t been around since the beginning of time; in their minds, homos are the lovable angels and saints they see on TV and movies, and so, they can’t imagine any rule or law that doesn’t cater to such wonderful people; they are so insipid that they can’t even imagine why ‘gay marriage’ had never existed in the past and doesn’t around most of the world. Yet in some strange way, there’s a certain validity to this view since hierarchy has been around since the beginning of time and aristocratism has a long pedigree, and what is the gay agenda if not a sneaky revival of aristocratism? Thus, ‘gay marriage’ is both a radical departure from previous value systems and the return of the old and ancient system of special privilege for the richest and most powerful people of society. Anyway, even the rapid demographic transformation that is turning America from a once-overwhelmingly-white-nation to an increasingly non-white-nation goes unnoticed in its strange or harmful manifestations since change has been normalized into something as American-as-apple-pie. People see the ‘pros’ — even if dubious — of change but are blind to its cons. Thus, our habit of seeing change and normality as being synonymous has had a way of impairing our ability to see or deal with the traumatic aspects of change. It is the acute awareness of this other kind of change, one that is impossible to normalize, that defines the inner-life of the woman character in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR. If the world around her keeps changing but lends the feeling that it’s still the ‘same’ — and always has been the ‘same’ or should have been the ‘same’, in which case one should make believe the world should always have been ‘same’ as it is in the happy and peaceful ‘now’ — , something within the woman remains truly and personally the same(as opposed to ‘same’), which is to say the sameness borne of memory than ‘sameness’ born of amnesia or the banality of ‘change’. Though now an older woman seemingly well-adjusted to a much changed world, there’s something within her that refuses to let go of the past, the same place she revisits over and over — and all by herself before she met a curious Japonais who wanted to penetrate not only her pooter but her soul; thus, the masturbation of angst touching on the same memory turns into a kind of intercourse of emotions penetrated by another. The ‘sameness of personal memory’ reminds one of what has been lost through change, whereas the ‘sameness of collective amnesia’ makes one aware of what’s been gained through change; the former is fixated on the same past whereas the latter is fixated on the same now. Jacques Tati’s PLAYTIME is a satire of the ‘sameness of collective amnesia’, in which professionals, consumers, and tourists from all over the world move about a vastly transformed Paris but appear unperturbed as they seem to be programmed with the ‘normality of change’; PLAYTIME’s modern Paris looks so new, but because it’s so de-contextualized of anything but the ‘new’, the ‘new’ doesn’t strike us as something different from the old, indeed almost as if the old might as well not even have existed; a darker take on this is Godard’s ALPHAVILLE. In the world of PLAYTIME, you can almost believe in Paris as an experiment in Year Zero, which goes to show that capitalism, more than Marxism, did a more effective job of erasing the past in its creation of the all-pervasive and all-amnesiac consciousness of the ‘now and only now’.

The nobility, as well as the pity, of the woman in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR flows from her will to remain within the walls of the ‘sameness of personal memory’ concerning her private past, thus shielding her soul from the amnesia-inducing cult of the ‘now’. But the real dilemma is she’s caught in a limbo between the ‘sameness of personal memory’ harking back to a time in WWII and ‘sameness of collective amnesia’ that lulls her to accept the happy and contented ‘now’. She knows that her sacred memory is slipping away despite her fealty, and she knows that the new reality is drawing her in despite her resistance; thus, she is a habitant and exile of both the past and the present; and ironically, she longs for the past that destroyed her and fends off the present that would have her.
Though she’s in another nation working on a ‘world peace’ film in a show of camaraderie with the peoples of the world, her deeper feelings are still all about herself and her lost lover during WWII. She tries to care about the problems of the bigger world, but her heart is always elsewhere. Through the medium of films, facts and figures, photos, theories, and ideologies, she says she has seen and understands what happened in Hiroshima, but the Japonais says she hasn’t seen or understood anything. No matter how much she learns about Hiroshima through museums, books, newspapers, essays, and the like, it will remain an abstraction approached and understood as a historical or public event — and this may be why the most effective treatment of Hiroshima may be Ibuse’s novel BLACK RAIN, later made into a film by Shohei Imamura, that follows the effect of the bombing on a single family. You can know all the physical details of an event and even try to empathize/sympathize with strangers who suffered greatly, but they remain as ideas, abstractions, statistics, or symbols. Knowing through the mind, even through the heart, is not the same as knowing through the soul. So, in contrast to the woman who tries to understand the larger event of ‘Hiroshima’, the Japonais tries to understand the private realm of the woman(as an indirect portal to something of larger significance), and so, he questions her about her personal memory and her personal sense of loss. Though what happened to her during and after the war cannot be compared with the horror of tens of thousands who perished in Hiroshima, we realize it matters to her more than all the horrors in the world. For all her consciousness about Hiroshima and injustices around the world, what really defines her soul is her sense of personal tragedy. In an odd way, the Japonais manages to make her understand Hiroshima better by understanding herself better. Real tragedy in human terms isn’t historical but personal, which is to say that even though Hiroshima was a major event, the human tragedy isn’t to be found in the statistics of buildings destroyed, photos of mangled bodies, and reports of horrible diseases; indeed, such details are so overwhelming that they have a numbing effect. Tragedy can be poeticized, but the danger is the fetishistic aestheticization of pain into something fanciful, and indeed HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR is well aware that it may be doing just that with the events of WWII, which makes it a somewhat auto-subversive film. Though Hiroshima was a major event of WWII, there were the countless personal stories of the tragedy, and it was in each of those stories that the human tragedy could be found; and the Japonais, though reticent about his own past, surely has such story of his own. But then, each personal tragedy has real meaning to the personally afflicted and not so much, if at all, to others; even when we read accounts of tragic lives, they’re less likely to have a long-term impact on us than the loss of our family members or even pets. So, how can the Japonais convey his own personal tragedy of Hiroshima to the French woman? Wittingly or unwittingly, he does it by having her recount her own personal tragedy, i.e. by confessing her own story and acknowledging the full extent of the pain, she finds a roundabout way of understanding the personal tragedies of others, i.e. there are so many hidden personal accounts of broken hearts, ruined lives, and lost dreams. Just as it was so difficult for others to know the true her, she realizes the near-impossibility of knowing the true tragedies of Hiroshima that cannot be gleaned from books, photos, films, and archives. That she comes to a better understanding of the human tragedy of Hiroshima through the recounting of her own pain is both hopeful and despairing; it suggests the possibility of knowing others better by knowing oneself better but also indicates the generally self-centered and self-enclosed nature of our emotions. He’s evasive with his own personal history but presses her to open up hers. Her memories are specific to her own life and nation, but the psychological implications are paradoxically universal: We are all alike in our differences, we are all together in our separateness.
Also, paradoxically, the suffering of the world is a kind of pain-killer, a blissful drug, to distract the woman from her own pain. (There’s an element of this in MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, where a man tries to bury the pain of his wife’s death by obsessing over major tragedies around the world.) Though the film opens with the woman’s poetic-tragic musings on Hiroshima, it closes with a painfully piteous confession of the heart; it’s easier to invoke the sufferings of the world than investigate one’s own pain. People search the World to hide from themselves.
Yet, in the revelation of her pain to another person in another part of the world, there is a kind of universal truth, and, in a way, she comes to speaks for him as for herself. Paradoxically, her memory of Nevers(French town) serves as a conduit to Hiroshima. (In an ironic sort of way, one might even say the Japanese man does to her what atomic scientists did with matter, that is pry deeper and deeper into the nucleus until the ‘hidden’ energy at its core is released.) Though much remains enigmatic in HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, it is undeniably a tour-de-force about loss & tragedy and bares, layer by layer, the hidden scars of the human soul.

But, things are different in MURIEL. Instead of a headlong dive into tragic history or surgical probing into personal angst, we are gradually made aware of a certain disquiet and then obliquely directed to its ultimately tragic source through an elliptical maze of perceptions that are kaleidoscopic in their mutually reflecting and reinforcing facades of elegance, grace, and gentility. (A film of comparable power is Atom Egoyan’s EXOTICA, in which nothing really turns out as it seems. A similar kind of irony is found in BABETTE’S FEAST — the film as I haven’t read the book — where the surfeit of festiveness belies where the story is ultimately leading us.) Thus, we aren’t sure of the final image that may emerge from the fragile pieces of the puzzle — and emerge but for an instant in a muted corner of the world — , and for this very reason, MURIEL is in some respects the more devastating film. It’s not the Pain Train taking us to Destination Tragedy(clearly printed on the ticket stub) but a series of satiny and glossy detours that ostensibly flatter our complacent and forgetful view out the window, all the while quietly leading us to a place in which a wounded soul, however much he tries to poeticize ghosts into muses, cannot exorcize the demons of historical tragedy. It’s like a series of fashion shows that finally takes us to Auschwitz. The tragic element of MURIEL is related to Algeria, a war that raged through a good part of the 50s and ended not-too-happily in the early 60s. It was a heavily censored war, and the majority of Frenchmen just hoped that the problem would be solved one way or another and just go away. But it was a devastating war — and some on the Left even compared French war atrocities with those of Nazis, and Resnais was of the Left for whom the Holocaust weighed heavily on his conscience, as evinced in NIGHT AND FOG. (Some of the ‘facts’ in NIGHT AND FOG may since have been disproved by historians, but it is still the most powerful and effective statement on the Holocaust.) In style and mood, MURIEL may resemble LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, but its core is closer to the emotions of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR. If the mystery of MARIENBAD is merely ‘academic’ or experimental(enclosed within its own formalistic bubble), its counterpart in MURIEL, as in HIROSHIMA, ultimately connects to the problems of real history.
I mention MURIEL because its editing style may have influenced Malick’s later works, especially THE NEW WORLD and TREE OF LIFE. It was as if Resnais of MURIEL sought to convey something other than the impression of rooted reality. (Bergman also was obsessed with the ambiguity and instability of reality, especially given that objective reality, even if it exists, can only be approached through the subjective realities of each individual. Bergman also came of age when reality-according-to-modernity was hammering the final nails into the coffin of reality-according-to-Faith, and he felt this crisis especially acutely because his father was a minister. As son of a minister, he felt a certain protectiveness on matters of religion, as if, even as a non-believer, it was his duty to carry the torch of God. But on the other hand, he loathed his father, and this part of him wanted to desecrate the very idea of religion. Bergman finalized his conversion away from religion, with which he grew up with, but he felt naked than liberated without Faith. Bergman’s confusion only grew because the so-called Reason of modernity was ‘discovering’ psychological truths that, however, made reality seem even more unreal than in the old religious texts. Anyway, because of Bergman’s origins in Theater and roots in grim Lutheran religious upbringing, he never quite became a cinematic modernist of Bunuel or Resnais’s caliber. Though many of Bergman’s films grappled with the themes of ambiguity of reality, the stylistic approach was generally very clear and precise, as if Bergman was more comfortable with the individuality/integrity of solid objects, as on the theater stage, than with the truly ambiguous fluidity of cinema that has the power to match and connect moods and thoughts of characters and the world around them. In Bergman’s films, we are made to focus on the people and things as objects within the frame, whereas in MURIEL, we are made aware of the ever-shifting flows and currents among the characters and things, owing especially to one of the most deft uses of editing, perhaps the most uniquely cinematic of techniques. Even when Bergman wanted to convey the quality of liquids and gases, he used solid materials as models for his demonstration. To use the analogy of writing, he used bold letters. Resnais’s mastery of editing and sense of rhythm, simultaneously graceful and ‘radical’, made him one of the finest chirographers of cinematic language and meaning, and in that sense, his style was highly satirical, even when his thematic intentions weren’t so. He’d use one kind of style to convey meanings generally associated with other styles.) The sly and ever-shifting camera style seems to convey an impression of ‘perspectives of reality’ than of reality itself. So, instead of seating us in a world defined by ‘establishing’ shots and ‘main’ compositions, we are precipitated with a flurry of kaleidoscopic reality that ceaselessly flips through an array of egos, sentiments, suspicions, and ‘accidents’. Reality is forever uncertain in its ever-shifting-and-shuffling manifestations, and this is why memory is so central to our subjective or personal sense of reality, which is the only kind of reality that we can really know. Memory is selective and mytho-institutionalizes certain incidents/events as the cornerstones of one’s life. Memory may be inaccurate, even deceiving, but it’s home to the soul but to which the body can’t found its way back. There is a problem of authoritativeness/agreement between physical reality as it’s perceived and psychological reality as it’s processed. We can extend this ‘dilemma’ by contrasting reality of life with ‘reality’ of cinema — though, paradoxically, the reality of life may be less stable than the ‘reality’ of cinema, as each person’s sense of his or her reality is bound to differ from all others due to whims of personality, biography, and health, the implication being that the only way for different people to share a sense of common reality is through the ‘reality’ of shared fiction, of which cinema may be the most powerful, i.e. even Charles Manson and Simone Weil would have shared in the same ‘reality’ of Charlie Chaplin movies, whereas on their own, they would have experienced and felt very different personal realities of life. Even with editing, filmed reality tends to create a sense of established spaces and ordered narratives. But in reality, even when we’re sitting or lying in the same spot for a long duration, our minds wander, drift, and fidget endlessly from one stimuli/image/feeling to another, either out of curiosity or boredom. At each moment, we don’t know where our minds and senses will turn to next, and we often don’t control which, when, and how memories from the past, near and far, will surface into awareness, an extreme case being the woman in Steven Soderbergh’s BUBBLE being surprised by her own memory. It’s like staring into large aquarium filled with all kinds of fishes swimming every which way. Our minds go from one fish to another to another. We follow from right to left following one fish, then left to right following another, then up and down with another fish, then down and up with yet another, and etc. MURIEL approximated certain facets of the mind, but Resnais knew not to overdo it lest it seem artificial and contrived, i.e. more a gratuitous celebration of style than a sharpened means to convey meaning. Thus, Resnais balanced anarchy with control, the arty with the ordinary, the ‘radical’ with the classic. Malick’s approach in TREE OF LIFE lacks such balance. It’s just an all-out tsunami of contrivances to flood and drown the audience in pseudo-profundities; it’s the sort of film where everything is happening even when little is being said. If Resnais used deceptive elegance to unveil while seeming to veil, Malick pelts and pounds us with everything lest we miss out on the profound message he has in store for us. Our eardrums come under nonstop barrage of classical music, especially the repertory of the 100 Most Popular Classical Tunes of All Time, and slaps us silly with an onrush of ‘striking’ images. It doesn’t matter how much effort Malick put into the experimental-editing of the film. The overweening thematic concept is so simple-minded that all the fragments jell into one cosmo-glob of New Age cliches. It’s for the soul what Bill Cosby’s jello-pudding pop is for the tastebuds. One of those mmmmmm ‘yummy’ things. No matter how hard Malick works at challenging our conventional perception of reality(in life and in cinema), the only ‘reality’ we see and feel in TREE OF LIFE is one that revolves around the hoary notions of ‘nature’ and ‘grace’, the cops and robbers of the universe. Because Malick declares his intentions/themes so boldly and obviously at the beginning of the film — like STAR TREK with ‘to go where no man has ever gone before’ or STAR WARS with ‘long long ago, in a galaxy far far away’ — and spends nearly 40 minutes with some acid-trip-as-class-trip exegesis about the cosmos, the rest of the film involving human characters becomes self-explanatory, with everything falling neatly into place within the cosmic framework of what Malick-as-cinejehovah laid out In the Beginning. Father figure played by Brad Pitt is Mr. Nature or Tuffy Ruff, and the mother figure played by Jessica Chastain is Ms. Grace or Fluffy Duff, and the oldest son, the alter ego of Malick, feels the conflict of his ruffy pa and fluffy ma in his heart; I guess that makes him Tuffy-Duff or Fluffy-Ruff. It doesn’t matter how much Malick experiments with the narrative or the camera, which is tossed and turned around and about in just about every way conceivable; it’s like it doesn’t matter how many fancy moves Daffy-Duck-as-Robin-Hood can pull off with his quarterstaff because it still can’t hide the fact of his incompetence as a warrior; it’s like it doesn’t matter how many fancy back-flips a fighter can do if he lacks the sense of a real fighter; style may make the fight but it is not the fight.
Malick blurts out the theme of TREE OF LIFE in such a simple-minded yet pompous manner that it, blob-like, blathers and spills over into everything — a mistake Tarkovsky also made with SACRIFICE, though not quite on the same scale. It’s impossible to form any complex attitude toward the material, and not surprisingly, all rivers lead to foams of bathos at ocean’s edge of forever. MURIEL deceptively ‘paints’ with light strokes to scratch the canvas for hidden truths, whereas TREE OF LIFE pulverizes with lightning strikes to lobotomize us with brain-fried kumbaya consciousness. (If Oprah ever decided to start a movie-of-the-month club, TREE OF LIFE should be the first pick.)

Oddly enough, MIRACLE MILE, an 85 min romance-thriller genre-movie, is infinitely more interesting than Malick super-ambitious epic art film. As illustrated by the case of the trashy but provocative RABID in comparison to the serious but dreary A DANGEROUS METHOD, the main difference between MIRACLE MILE and TREE OF LIFE can be understood through the dichotomy of expression and exposition. Expression is the bread and butter of art, and exposition is best left to the cookbooks of academia. In a way, MIRACLE MILE is a ‘trashy’ movie that recycles the cliches of ‘teen romance comedies’ — though the lovers are in their late 20s or 30, they seem stuck in tar pits of eternal youth — , horror flick, sci-fi end-of-the-world movie, and urban paranoia cinema. And on those terms, MIRACLE MILE is neither particularly successful nor unsuccessful. As a popcorn movie, it has its share of fun and thrills, but that alone doesn’t make it special. Rather, it’s how MIRACLE MILE touches on — filches and filters — graver themes/meanings through the machinations of genre. ‘Touches on’ is the key for nothing can sink a film faster than thematic heavy-handedness. If a work expounds what it’s all ABOUT, the message/meaning hogs the center-stage-as-bully-pulpit and blocks & drowns out the views and voices of all the expressions that make a work of art special and mysterious. And this is one of the problems of LA STRADA. The three main characters are too obvious as archetypes and the theme of redemption too brazenly dramatized. It is acted and directed so well and filled with so many memorable images and powerful moments that its status as a film classic has long been assured, but it’s one of those films that serves up pretty much everything on the first viewing. It’s a worthy feast, the strong flavors of which excite but don’t tantalize the senses(at least not enough to leave us wondering as to the secret of the recipe). Zampano(Anthony Quinn) is never more than Zampano, and we know that he’s gonna go from brutal beast to remorseful penitent. No surprises there. He is a walking/talking symbol though wonderfully portrayed.. Quinn’s performance was far more interesting in ZORBA THE GREEK. Though no less an archetype than Zampano, Zorba is a multi-faceted character of rough manners and worldly wisdom. Though unschooled in books, he knows something about life and makes an interesting contrast with the author/intellectual played by Alan Bates.
The problem with the first lines in RASHOMON is that Kurosawa lays on the theme on too thick — thus coming perilously close to banalizing the story into a simple morality tale — , what with the priest and woodcutter groaning and moaning about the meaning of it all. (A work of art nearly almost fails when it stops surprising us. It’s like what Charlie — played by Catherine Zeta Zones — says in HIGH FIDELITY. She asks John Cusack’s character if he’s into one of those "what does it all mean?" things that she finds so dreary, especially as a string of old flames called her up with just such hangup. She finds it to be a cliche among people who’ve given up on leading interesting lives. The exchange between Charlie and Rob Gordon — Cusack — serves as a springboard for a series of surprises that soon follow. Gordon is invited to a dinner party, to which he goes in anticipation of once again being in the divine presence of the magnificent Charlie, but surprise #1, it begins to dawn on Gordon that she is a vain, vapid, and shallow person who does nothing but ‘talk shit’; he suspects that maybe he ‘saw through all this’ in college and thought her so brilliant and remarkable because she was so sexy gorgeous. Surprise #2, his disappointment is also a kind of relief and triumph, i.e. maybe her dumping him long ago was a kind of favor as it now appears she was a phony all along. Before he leaves, he prods/provokes her with a wry "what does it all mean" thing, almost as an afterthought as his illusions about Charlie seem gone for good, i.e. she is no longer a goddess but a cheap harlot who got ahead by talking with her hips. When Charlie says ‘fuck’ over and over, Gordon’s reassessment of Charlie seems vindicated, but then, there’s surprise #3. When pressed by Cusack to explain why she left him for Marco, she picks just the right words — a form of verbal flower arranging — to describe Marco’s qualities: "...bit more glamorous... more sure of himself, less hard work... a little sunnier... sparkier", and in that magic moment Gordon realizes there is and indeed always was another side to Charlie that was truly special — something he blocked out earlier at the dinner, just as he’d blocked out her deficiencies back in college. Finally, surprise #4, though her mention of Marco’s attributes as boyfriend and lover implies Cusack’s deficiencies, he is grateful to once again observe the beautiful qualities of Charlie that once made him fall head-over-heels for her in the first place. So many independent filmmakers confuse truth with grubby realism, as if the filming of reality as something raw, messy, and unvarnished is more honest about life, but, in truth, so much of reality is lived in our minds through our thoughts and feelings about others and thoughts and feelings about how others may be thinking and feeling about us, and this is the great advantage of the writer over the visualizer. Generally, adapting novels to films stumbles into the problem of losing the thoughts inscribed in the language, and most cases of voice-over narration using passages from the novel to overcome this problem tend to be forced, interruptive, or artificial. Nick Hornby’s HIGH FIDELITY, like JULES AND JIM, is one of the rare instances of successful transcriptions of novelistic reality into filmed reality, where the words and images rebound off one another so naturally and vibrantly. It’s about how life is filled with surprises, most of them hiding in that closet closest to us: our own minds. Cusack’s character’s has problems with the truth, but then, so does everyone else in the film to varying degrees. And yet, lies, as reflections and challenges to other lies, also serve as the mirror of truth, however distorted and imperfect the glimpse may be. Stephen Frears, the director of the remarkable MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE, a realist film cluttered with surprises big and small in every moment in every frame, was the man to pull it off, and HIGH FIDELITY will be remembered as the capstone of Cusack’s career.) What redeems RASHOMON are Kurosawa’s powerful use of imagery and the enigmatic schema of Akutagawa’s storytelling that can’t be decoded even with Kurosawa’s best, albeit misguided, efforts. However the narrative is tossed and turned — even with Kurosawa’s addition of the fourth eyewitness account — , it’s a curled-up porcupine that won’t show itself.

What makes art interesting is a sense of play, especially if we’re allowed to play along. An very ‘serious’ work may be stuffed with plenty of meaning for us to gaze at but in the inert, even dull, manner of objects behind glass cases in a museum. It may claim to be a treasure trove of truth, but truth is never simple, and ‘truth’ in art doesn’t declare itself to be The Truth. Furthermore, what if the truth on display happens to be trite or summed up tritely(thus betraying the complexity of all that preceded it)? Hence, the problem with Bergman’s THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY and possibly even WILD STRAWBERRIES. They are clearly the works of a master film-maker with much to recommend them, but the philo-spiritual declaration in the final scene of THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY sounds rather forced and unconvincing, and everything fits together and falls into place all too neatly in WILD STRAWBERRIES.

Most creative people are not profound folks into deep philosophical truths or psychological complexities. Yet, some of them have a talent for expression. Therefore, when most of them attempt heavy lifting for higher meaning or deeper truth, they tend to flounder like Cronenberg with A DANGEROUS METHOD or Hitchcock with THE ROPE, in which the Master of Suspense grappled with moral and philosophical issues head on but actually managed to say much less than in the movies where he favored expression than explication; expression done well will explain itself. THE ROPE is a well-made film strung together by interesting method of visual continuity(that more or less works visually and may signify the ethical rope that binds the victim with the murderers and the murderers with the man they admire played by James Stewart and him with us; also the villains unwittingly entangle themselves in their own hubris), but Hitchcock, due to lack of either understanding or courage, made a hash of the truly disturbing implications of the material(but then, maybe it was due to the moralistic censoriousness of the time). Based on the play inspired by the case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the film lacks the guts to take full account of the moral implications of the story.
If a story’s gonna end with a copout, it works better in the domain of genre than ‘serious’ art. The Leopold and Loeb murder case was intriguing for the fact that two highly intelligent and privileged young Jews committed an absolutely mindless murder that didn’t in, anyway, benefit them socially, economically, personally, or politically. They knew what they were doing and did it for perverse reasons of ‘philosophy’ — of course, the ‘Nietzschean’ aspect of their supposedly ‘philosophical crime’ conveniently spun the cold-blooded murder from one committed by Jews into one inspired by proto-Nazism, i.e. the Jewish guys did it because they were infected with Germanism and they no more really knew what they were doing than the brainwashed assassin in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE did in stacking up his victims; furthermore, the film COMPULSION, starring Orson Welles as Clarence Darrow, would have us believe that the two Jewish murderers were victimized by mob justice of cryto-antisemitic gentiles, i.e. even when Jews act like villains, they are victims of a repressed and repressive gentile social order and collective mental disorder that may actually be even more sinister and hateful than the souls of the two Jewish killers. THE ROPE is ultimately less interesting than the real-life story it’s based on because the killers come across as dummies who are only pretending to be smart. Worse, they come across as childish-and-naive going for sophisticated-and-intellectual. So, there’s far less of shock and mystery to what they did and why they did it. In the real-life scenario of Leopold and Loeb, we were left with the question of how such intelligent, well-bred, and knowledgeable men could have done such a thing. In THE ROPE, there is no real mystery. They killed the fella because they’re stupid and childish and fitfully fooled themselves with the conceit of ‘Nietzschean’ superiority. This aspect of the movie certainly flattered American moralism for its modesty and common sense decency(the kind that made Harry Truman endearing to many, though he was also the one who ordered the nukes on Japan and lent full support to the massive Zionist ethno-war against Palestinians), especially as a counterpoint to European intellectualism that supposedly encouraged ‘moral relativism’ and led to the horrors of Nazism and World War II; this is all very amusing in a way, and one wonders if Hitchcock was being morally earnest or actually mocking the naivete American moralism while pretending to flatter it, because, after all, his movies have always been marked by a perverse moral relativism that even veered into all-too-close-identification with transgressors and killers; indeed, even though the good almost always won out at the end in his movies, the victory was more like an afterthought or dessert following the main course of the pleasure with the kill; also, one can’t help feeling that the main offense of the two closeted gay guys in THE ROPE — at least according to Hitchcock — is their impropriety, or lack of style and grace; despite their pretensions of cool-calm-and-collected-ness; they act like debonair ace professionals of amorality but turn out to be clumsy amateurs with shaky legs, stammered speech, sweaty palms, and frozen smiles; they are cheap imitators than originals, what with the blatantly gauche irony of serving dinner on the trunk in which the dead body is stuffed; though the killer in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is even more loathsome, he’s actually more likable and admirable because he’s a real pro and has a grand time messing with everyone; indeed, it’s the ‘good guy’ in STRANGERS who is all shaky and amateurish; in THE ROPE, it’s the bad guys who act like total amateurs despite their conceit to the otherwise, which is to say, they should have stuck to goodness as they’re too lame and stupid for badness, which is an art form whereas being good is just a Boy Scout pamphlet; later, Hitchcock took a more interesting approach with the idea of the amateurish killer with Norman Bates in PSYCHO, which is more effective as a thriller for sparing us the moral sermon explaining the demons gnawing away at Bates’s worm-infested soul, the vacant stares of which pull us into the soul as black hole. Anyway, the two murderers in THE ROPE are like children playing at grownups. So, their murder could be attributed to stupidity and confusion, i.e. they are to philosophy what the nouveau riche are to wealth; just as the nouveau riche think the essence of status is conspicuous displays of wealth and just as middlebrow philistines think the essence of art is name-dropping to sound ‘cultured’ — Shelly Winter’s character in LOLITA as she mentions her ‘Van Gogh’ and the like — , the would-be-superior-men in THE ROPE think the essence of higher philosophy is doing something brash to demonstrate their contempt for ‘conventional morality’; they are really vulgar boobs, indeed worse than real vulgar boobs for their pretensions otherwise. Be that as it may, the biggest problem in THE ROPE is the conception of James Stewart’s character. We watch and hear him relishing in dark Nietzschean theories about the ‘superman’ and ‘beyond good and evil’ and all that. But when he discovers what really happened — a murder has been committed in practice! — , he’s suddenly all goody-goody and, in effect, says he was ONLY KIDDING about all that Nietzschean stuff. The film would have been more provocative and courageous if James Stewart’s character was forced to face his own demons(and realize that ideas do have consequences or maybe even the possibility that the young fellas had the courage to do what he, despite his big talk, never could), but we are told that his philosophical ideas had really been just horseplay, and he never expected anyone to take them seriously; it’s a total copout.
Because the moral themes of THE ROPE were placed up front, Hitchcock may have felt obligated to play it safe or ‘responsibly’, lest anyone get the ‘wrong’ message. For a film to be a genuine work of art, it has to dig deep into where the body is buried, stare straight at the discovery, and inhale the fumes. James Stewart finally uncovers the truth of what really happened in THE ROPE, but he isn’t confronted with his own dark soul since Hitchcock wasn’t prepared to go there.

If a filmmaker is unwilling or incapable of digging all the way to where the truth is buried, he’s better off kicking the dirt with genre formulations. That way, he can artfully ‘touch on’ and hint at deeper truths without the burden of heavy lifting that requires total commitment of the mind and spirit. Also, the imaginative potentialities of genre filmmaking can even turn trite ideas into feverish expressions. A good example is THE BIRDS, the theme of which may be boiled down to cliched observations about sexual psychology, the revenge of nature, collective paranoia, or whatever. Though trite they may be, they are uplifted by the hypnotic vision and mastery of Hitchcock. Just as poetry or music can turn a simple emotion like "I love you" into something special, narrative artistry can turn or refurbish an old story or idea into something new. Thus, many of Hitchcock’s movies are not deep in terms of their meanings, but the meanings gain elements of beauty, darkness, mystery, and grandeur through masterly expressions that also imply more than what is shown. Also, the literal/physical becomes the psychological/political in works of genre because the larger-than-life-ness allows everything to be read allegorically and/or archetypally. After all, one of the best commentaries on Stalinism came in the form of a children’s book: ANIMAL FARM. And 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY has been interpreted in so many different ways. We like playing games, and genres erect maze-like walls between us and the meaning. The walls serve as barriers, mirrors, and doors between the audience and the hinted-at-truth. Even if the Truth may not add up to much in terms of insight or clarity, there’s the fun of play in the game of winding ourselves through the hall of mirrors, as with the character in the fun-house in LADY FROM SHANGHAI; the eventful journey to the truth makes it worthwhile, even if, the truth itself may not be much; it is for this reason that Pauline Kael considered CITIZEN KANE to be more a great work of kitsch than a genuine work of art, i.e. the ‘truth’ of ‘rosebud’ was a gimmick to take us on a journey where we really don’t learn much and instead realize the real value was in the journey than in the discovery. (To be sure, one can argue that ‘rosebud’, even if a ‘gimmick’, allows for the realization of profounder aspects of cinema. After all, the most startling thing about the final scene owes less to the fiery revelation of ‘rosebud’ per se than to the ominous way in which we are led to the secret. Through most of CITIZEN KANE, we see and hear people, places, and things, the very stuff that makes up ‘reality’, by interaction with others. We follow a reporter chasing a story and interviewing a series of people — descending from the most public/powerful to the most servile and lowly, the butler at Xanadu — , and through their accounts, we see the chapters of Kane’s life. Thus, most of CITIZEN KANE operates in the ‘conventional’ world of lived and shared reality — despite the unconventional uses of visual and aural techniques — , almost as if that’s the only kind of reality that exists in the world, and indeed, cinema, as a character-centric form of narrative expression, has mostly fixated on that kind of reality: the reality as lived, seen, heard, and felt by characters. But the beginning and the ending of CITIZEN KANE go beyond that? Whose perspective is it in the opening scene as the camera slowly climbs over the fence and stares toward the lit window in the mansion; whose eye, with every soft blink, is growing nearer and nearer to the window and then, with a dreamy fadeout, finds itself moved from exterior to the interior of the room in which Kane lies on his deathbed, breathing and muttering his last? What is this reality? In a novel, it might be called the omnipotent narrator, but even such a figure has a voice expressed in words, and words are inherently human, and therefore, even the strangely omnipotent narrator of a book lends a subjective humanish — even if suprahuman — presence to the narrative. But in the opening scene of CITIZEN KANE, there’s no voice as the camera rises along the fences and gates of the Xanadu estate. We sense the presence of the Eye but whose eye is it? It’s also an eye with superhuman powers as it defies gravity and slips through windows and walls like a ghost, as it conjures up different periods and places with a blink or two. Through Bernard Hermann’s music, we sense a spiritual essence, but whose soul is it that is controlling the magic-dream-eye? Is it metaphysical? Of course, every shot of CITIZEN KANE was carefully prepared and shot by humans, but the opening and closing scenes of CITIZEN KANE convey a sense of film-apart-from-the-film-made-by-man. It gives the impression that the camera has a secret life and vision of its own, as if imbued with the power to pry into things beyond the grasp of man. Thus, the opening and closing scenes of CITIZEN KANE feel as if the camera, while Welles and others were busy with something else, secretly drifted away and captures the images of its own accord for a confidential report never to be divulged to the eyes of man. The opening scene unfurls more like a dream of a ghostly essence lurking in the world than like an effort of a conscious human mind. ALIEN said "in space, no one can hear you scream", and it’s as if CITIZEN KANE begins with the idea that, within the realm of deeper reality, there is no voice with which the truth can be spoken; it’s like the monolith sled in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY that takes us to a sense of reality outside the conventional subjective/objective dichotomy that we are so familiar with; in actual reality, no one can escape one’s subjectivity, which is tightly wound with a very limited sampling of ‘objectivity’, just like the man in LA JETEE cannot, in the end, escape from his fate; but fictional narratives lend the impression of out-of-body experiences of entering into other minds, souls, stories, lives, times, and places, but, of course, it’s all really just an illusion; nevertheless, even as an illusion, fiction generally situates us in the familiar territory of lived-and-shared reality of the ‘main characters’, and this is where films like CITIZEN KANE and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY were different in venturing beyond such familiar territories, as if to peer not only into other realities-as-lived-by-other-people but into those special places that elude the gaze and awareness of humans whether fictional or real; it’s like the Zone in STALKER that the eponymous character feels has a reality and life beyond that which people can understand in terms of their own agendas; the Zone exists in-and-of-itself and has a secret life of its own, regardless of whether people find their way to it or not, and when the three men stare into the Room, they sense not so much their-presence-in-the-room but the room’s ‘reality’ beyond their presence in the room. It’s like the final scene of THE SHINING where the camera moves down the empty hallway even though all the characters have either gone away or died; it’s as if the Overlook and the camera Eye have a pact and awareness of a ‘reality’ beyond the lived-reality and consciousness experienced and known by man, woman, or child, though, to be sure, Danny the kid had some sense of it. The camera reveals the photo of Jack Torrance in the final scene of THE SHINING in a manner reminiscent of how ‘Rosebud’ was revealed in Welles’s film. Near the end of CITIZEN KANE, we see talkative reporters amongst Kane’s piles and piles of collections; we are smack in the middle of a busy lived-and-shared reality as if that’s the only kind of reality that exists. But the movie doesn’t end with the departure of the characters as most movies do. Instead, the camera that had pulled back into a long shot — that could well have been the final shot of the film — lingers on and then returns to a close up to the collections, and then moves slowly over the objects as if of its own accord independent of human motive or interference; it’s as if, after all the guests have left the party, the last person in the mansion, instead of going off to bed, sneaks into a secret compartment and has a sip of special wine that no one else knows exists; it’s like the final scene in Jacques Rivette’s LA BELLE NOISEUSE where the artist decides to hide his real work behind a wall and show something else to the eyes of the public. The eye slowly approaches a furnace where the ‘rosebud’ sled is being burned. But, whose perspective is this? The out-of-body soul of Kane? The ghostly spirit of cinema with a will of its own apart from the will of its characters? Mizoguchi achieved a similar kind of perspective with the ending of UGETSU. The film finally seems to have returned to the world of lived-reality upon the husband’s return home and realization of his wife’s death; he again seems to be firmly rooted in the real world with real people, but then, the camera seems to have a will of its own as it slowly drifts upward in manner reminiscent of the opening scene in CITIZEN KANE; it’s as if the camera is no longer the conscious tool of the film-maker but a spiritual essence with a dream and wisdom of its own. As we hear the dead wife’s voice, we might suppose we are looking through her eyes from another dimension, in which case the camera is no longer a tool of the living and conscious but the eye of the ghostly and otherworldly. There’s a similar moment at the end of THE LAST EMPEROR by Bernardo Bertolucci. Though not one of my favorite films, the ending is something special. Throughout the story, we watched Puyi as a tool of history — Manchu Imperial court, Western powers, modernizers, Japanese imperialists, communists, etc. — , indeed, as if such is the only reality known to humanity. Thus, Puyi serves as a kind of controlled human camera of history, walled within the Forbidden City, walled within Japanese rule, and walled within communist control, almost as if there’s no reality outside such confines and agendas. But in the final scene, Puyi finds himself all alone, like a camera no longer shackled to the will and designs of filmmakers. In a dreamlike moment, Puyi pulls out an implausibly old cricket from behind the throne, hands it to a child, and disappears like a ghost. It is his ‘rosebud’ moment, his secret, his personal reality beyond the shared reality of society and history. And, there’s an element of this in A.I., the ending of which is like the ending of CITIZEN KANE taken to the nth degree. In the final moment of Welles’s film, the camera moves of its own accord independent of all those characters whose perspectives and agendas has dictated its positions and movements. In A.I. all of humanity have long departed and gone extinct, and yet, the robot boy, as the living camera of humanity that has gained its own power to dream, survives and lives its last fantasy independent of humanity that had created him long long ago. So, on that note, the ‘rosebud’ thing is more than a gimmick but a means by which Welles found a means to explore another kind of reality, that of the ghostly consciousness of the camera eye that, in the conceit of cinema, has the power to see beyond what is seeable.) Also, as genre works generally aren’t centered around truth, the meaning can be ‘read’ in any number of ways. (Sidney Lumet’s THE PAWNBROKER has a specific message/meaning in relation to a specific reality, whereas THE BIRDS has as many meanings as our imaginations and interpretations will allow. PERSONA is sharply focused on a set of themes and ideas, whereas VERTIGO swirls around so many possibilities.) The Big Truth of TREE OF LIFE isn’t only obvious to find but finds and grabs hold of you, alternately whispering and shouting into your ears, and dunk-baptizing you in the Church of Malick Faith. Worse, its Truth is inanity professing to be profundity.
Though far from entirely successful, Alexander Sokurov’s THE RUSSIAN ARK is a more interesting art film as experiment and exegesis of time, history, & biography. Sokurov’s visual strategy was the opposite of Malick’s. If Malick snipped and chopped up his images, Sokurov made his film as one long take — enabled by the advent of the digital camera; Hitchcock attempted much the same in THE ROPE but, due to limitations of reel length, tied the ends of reels together in a seamless manner as possible.
Sokurov’s experiment was made easier because of the setting of the entire film in and around the Hermitage Museum, but what’s really interesting is how the overall impression isn’t all that different from what Malick did in TREE OF LIFE. Though THE RUSSIAN ARK is one continuous take, it doesn’t seem continuous because of the ever lurching and leering camera. Continuity only feels like continuity if we focus on and follow a single object, as with the kid on the scooter in THE SHINING. Our gaze is fixed on his continuous flow through the corridors of the hotel. But when there are several different objects of interest in the same frame, our eyes go into natural ‘editing’ mode, shifting focus from one thing to another — and the Hermitage is filled with all sorts of interesting cultural objects; and there is also the character of the ‘European’ who enters and exits, on and off, as the camera moves through various and voluminous rooms filled with all kinds of art works and individuals; thus, as an experiment in continuous single-take, RUSSIAN ARK is almost self-defeating, but then, maybe that was the point, as if to say, Russian history is so multifaceted, diverse, and contradictory that no single perspective is possible, even if we try to unite everything through one long single take.
Another way a long take can feel continuous is if framed as a long shot, thus maintaining a sense of wholeness of space instead of allowing our eyes to drift from one stimuli to another; a good example is the opening scene of Kenji Mizoguchi’s THE LOYAL 47 RONIN. In contrast, THE RUSSIAN ARK’s use of single-shot continuity is almost superfluous because the overall effect doesn’t seem continuous at all. Sokurov allows our perception to dart and drift from one thing to another — sometimes with impatience or annoyance, as the camera often outpaces or fails to keep up pace with our perceptions — as his own camera-eye wanders through the Hermitage. He doesn’t discipline our means of observation by playing the role of a helpful guide — and the ‘European’ seems to have his own agenda oblivious to that of Russians, past or present, and the audience — nor does he emphasize a sense of unity of space, as in some of the works of Mizoguchi, Ophuls, or Kubrick. In a way, Sokurov’s film is both a success and a failure depending on how one looks at it. It fails in that the continuity seems almost wasted or useless, or it succeeds for the very reason that it ‘fails’. Perhaps, Sokurov was passing the right of ‘editing’ to the viewer, thus making the film more participatory. He held the power of movement and framing, but the viewer holds the power of editing; therefore, everyone will see the film differently since he or she will ‘edit’ it in his or her fashion. Or perhaps, Sokurov was demonstrating how a director can edit without editing. One could argue that any movement of the camera is a kind of editing through time or with time-as-temporal-scissor.

There are two kinds of movies: one where the film-maker has a clear concept or vision of what he wants to say/show and one where the film-maker is fixated or obsessed with an image or idea but doesn’t know where it will lead. DANCES WITH WOLVES and RED BEARD are the first kind of film. The concept of Kevin Costner’s film was to show Indians as the happy children of nature, and the purpose of Kurosawa’s film was to preach us humanist sermon on the virtue of selflessness. DANCES is pretty dreadful — though with some nice scenery — and RED BEARD is a rather decent film, but neither came with any surprises. (This is too bad since the first part of RED BEARD has an air of uncertainty and dramatic tension, which unfortunately dissipates in the warmth of moral sanctimony.) To be sure, a movie doesn’t have to be full of surprises to be effective or great, but the many of the most fascinating movies tend not to be sure of where they’re going until they get there. There are, of course, films that have qualities of both certainty and uncertainty. A good example is LA JETEE. Made up of fragments of still images, the audience has to fill in the gaps of time and space with their own imagination and speculation. The hero is put into a kind of time-travel slumber and gradually begins to recollect and piece together images of the past — taken from his remembrances of reality and dreams — into a personal puzzle, whereupon entirely new images and ‘realities’ that never were are created in his mind, just like Isos that appear out of ‘nowhere’ in the Grid-mind-realm of Flynn in TRON: LEGACY. (In both LA JETEE and TRON: LEGACY, the experiment or enterprise begin as a rational/objective project but gives birth to a personal miracle that defies the dictates and demands of ‘science’. A private heart begins to sprout in the empire of the mind.) The hero of LA JETEE then assembles the broken images into a narrative — as archaeologists and art historians do with fossils and ruins — , and we find ourselves doing the same, not only with the story of the film but with our own memories for every memory is a field of buried bones and lost ruins. It’s possible that the idea of LA JETEE came to Chris Marker in the same way, i.e. first as broken images, which then connected with another and then unearthed and/or birthed new images which then formed into a narrative. But LA JETEE isn’t merely poetic and speculative but intellectual and conceptual — and according to some, an homage to VERTIGO. Though the protagonist gains a measure of personal/existential freedom by piecing together the puzzle in his own manner, he remains part of the larger project/plan, and he really has no choice in the grand scheme of things, no more than Jack Torrance did in THE SHINING; he could burrow into himself to hide from the world, but he’s eventually dug out just the same, just like a doomed warthog in its den from a pride of lions clawing into the dirt. In a way, our relation to cinema is similar. Watching films, we are free to interpret, speculate, and connect the dots in ways that have the most meaning to each of us. But in the end, we have no control over the movie as it was made by someone else. Whatever we make of the story, it always begins and ends the same way. Our ‘freedom’ of interpretation exists within the predestined prison of the narrative. This duality is felt in the viewing experience of nearly all of Kubrick’s films. THE SHINING, for example, is both the most uncertain and the most certain of films. With every viewing, it is the same movie and a different film. Just as the incarnations of Torrance hope for a new beginning in the Overlook but can’t escape the same fate, each viewing of THE SHINING leads us to find the key to the secret but leaves us lost in the maze all over again. Of course, the element of surprise isn’t simply a matter of the plot — the twists and turns of what will happen next — but of psychology and meaning. We all know how THE SHINING ends, but we are all likely disagree on what really happened to Jack Torrance’s soul or on who really is ‘Jack Torrance’. THE SHINING, like the DNA, is outwardly organized around a tightly wound and seemingly discernible concept, but the interior of the concept is contoured with so many contradictions and variables. Kubrick also had a way of turning mundaneness into mystery. For example, take the computer buzz in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. We first sense it as the all pervasive ordinary sound or white noise in the spaceship. But it’s so ordinary that we don’t even notice it and ignore it as virtual silence. But after HAL kills the astronauts and stares at the camera that stares at it, the buzz, as the humming of Hal’s ‘soul’, takes on whole new significance. The hum still says nothing but means everything in its eloquent ‘silence’, i.e. even when HAL says nothing, it quietly tremors with the noise of god, and in a way, HAL is like man’s material creation of god. If gods were man’s exaggeration of their own powers through imagination, HAL is man’s super-realization of his own intelligence through technology. (An idea can sound simple and harmless enough, but the true implications and consequences of its complexity/power can be something entirely different. Take the game of chess, which, as an idea, sounds simple enough — so much so that any child can learn to play in less than an hour — , but the ‘intellectual’ possibilities of chess is infinite, beyond anything as simple as tic-tac-toe. Something can seem/sound deceptively simple because the human mind cannot easily ponder or process reality outside their zone of comfort, which is why the Japanese during WWII thought they had a fighting chance against Americans. They had so many ships and planes and the fighting spirit — and was allied with Germany — that they couldn’t imagine America building thousand times the planes and ships that they did. In a way, the story of how white gentiles in America came under the power of Jews can be understood in the story of the emperor and the inventor of the chess game/board as told by the Persian poet Ferdowsi. The story goes: "When the inventor of the game showed it to the emperor of India, the emperor was so impressed by the new game, that he said to the man, ‘Name your reward!’ The man responded, ‘Oh emperor, my wishes are simple. I only wish for this. Give me one grain of rice for the first square of the chessboard, two grains for the next square, four for the next, eight for the next and so on for all 64 squares, with each square having double the number of grains as the square before.’ The emperor agreed, amazed that the man had asked for such a small reward - or so he thought. After a week, his treasurer came back and informed him that the reward would add up to an astronomical sum, far greater than all the rice that could conceivably be produced in many many centuries! For the ordinary mind — and emperors are human too — , the idea of doubling the number of grains of rice on each square of the chessboard doesn’t sound like much. The mind thinks, "Okay, 2 will become 4, 4 will become 8, 8 will become 16, 16 will become 32, etc., so what’s the big deal?" It is unlikely to ponder the reality that the number of grains of rice by the 64th square will be 18,446,744,073,709,551,615. And this is what the Jews, the master of chess, understood about the dimwit goy mind. The goy mind wouldn’t be able to estimate the true extent of Jewish ambition and greed in the game of American power. Jews, as poor and helpless victims of the Holocaust, seemed not to be asking for much when they made their move on academia, media, and finance. White America, in the 1960s, didn’t ponder the real consequences of what would happen to America with the rise of Jewish power in immigration policy, culture, economics, politics, foreign policy, and etc. Just like the emperor scoffed at the rice on the chessboard, white goyim thought,"what could Jews, a mere 2% of the population, possibly do by gaining key power in a few institutions?" And what could possibly happen to American demography with the arrival of some immigrants from the Third World when America seemed so solidly and permanently majority-white? And what could happen by giving some illegals amnesty in the 1980s? Well, look around today! Jews are now celebrating the decline and death of the white race and power. Homos have more power in the culture and media than all of white gentile straight society combined. Jews run Wall Street like Las Vegas, gamble and rake in huge profits but when they gamble and lose, force us to bail them out. 99% of our foreign policy revolves around Jewish interests and Zionist priorities. Interracist pop culture and porn run rampant to turn white women into a bunch of race traitor mudsharks. Jews, even as they have the most money, power, and influence, forbid us from discussing Jewish power by invoking the cult of Holocaustianity and threat of what might be called McCarthowitzism, as the New McCarthyism is dominated by Jewish Witz. Jews understood the exponential dynamics of how their power would grow once they gained the brain centers, the eyes, erogenous zones, heartstrings, and wallets of America. The brain centers control the ideas, eyes control the news and information, erogenous zones control the addictive power of pleasure, heartstrings control the conscience and guilt, and wallets control what gets funded and what doesn’t. White goyim may still comprise the bulk of the American body, but the body follows the key organs of the brains, eyes, hearts, and groins. It’s like Jews got a bagful of gold and diamond while white goyim got a giant heap of rocks and dirt. What Jews got is far more valuable than what white goyim got. It’s like a handful of key pieces — queen, rook, knight, bishop — on the chessboard is more powerful than a whole bunch of pawns. And indeed, American white power has effectively been checkmated by Jewish power. Chess makes for a useful analogy here for the objective of chess isn’t to kill the king but to checkmate him. Jews are not trying to wipe out the white race but chain it into mental and physical serfhood. So, your king is still alive and you may still have a number of pieces on the chessboard, but you have lost because, no matter what you do, your king is trapped and cannot maneuver to safety. And American conservatism is in just such spot because Jews, via the weasly alliance of liberal Zionists and neocons, put it there. Just consider. Conservatives are told that they cannot win elections unless they embrace amnesty and pander to Hispanics. But if conservatives do just that, they’ll still lose because Democrats offer more freebies to Hispanics and because Hispanic elites have been indoctrinated with anti-gringo-ism by Jewish academics and media. If conservatism doesn’t pander to homos, it will lose out on all that homo cash and Jewish cash — as Jews value homos as their main allies. But if conservatives pander to homos, they will lose the support of Christian Right conservatives who will stay home during elections. American conservatism sucks up to the superrich and promises even more tax cuts because the wasp rich class had been the traditional supporters of the GOP. But today, the superrich are made up mostly of rich Jews, homos, and liberal wasps who support Democrats. By sucking up to the superrich, the likes of Romney lost support of the white working class. But if conservatism reaches out to the working class, it will lose the support of the dwindling number of libertarian rich in the GOP. No matter how GOP tries to maneuver on the chessboard of politics, it’s doom and checkmated all around. This is what happens to a sucker people who trust Jews. Asian Indians may have been backward and filthy, but they eventually saw the British Imperialists for what they were and drove them out. But the white goyim of America now take pride in being the humble servants of Jewish supremacists. Most pathetically, white conservatives are the biggest asskissers of Jews even though Jews hate, hate, and hate white conservatives.) There is a map somewhere in THE SHINING, but no one, not even Kubrick, can access the entire thing. So, THE SHINING is, at once, Kubrick’s mapping of a preconceived idea and a mapping of uncharted possibilities discovered along the way.

TREE OF LIFE is rather like DANCES WITH WOLVES. For all its formalistic experimentalism and time-bending gyrations, it’s a film enveloped with a very simple idea: there’s ‘nature’ and ‘grace’ in the stars and in our hearts. It’s a thumbsuck movie. Though Malick is supposed to be a scholar of Martin Heidegger, TREE OF LIFE seems to draw more from Deepak Chopra or a Beatles’ song like "Across the Universe". TREE OF LIFE strikes me as a film that began with an answer than a question. It’s as if Malick finally knew the answer after a lifetime of searching, and he was gonna share it with us through the generosity of his heart and profundity of his vision. But like the old lord’s conceit of wisdom in the beginning of RAN, it’s so naive and senile-infantile. The old lord foolishly thought he’d achieved the unity of peace and loyalty. Malick thinks he’s finally arrived at the harmony of ‘nature’ and ‘grace’, a spiritual reunification with dear ones so sublime and meaningful that he just had to share the warmth and radiance with the rest of us.

MIRACLE MILE is a far more interesting movie for it begins as a chain-reaction of questions. Its writer-director Steve De Jarnatt, like Chris Marker and Kubrick, conceived a basic design to frame the story and link the themes, but the movie is fueled by a radioactive core of unpredictable creative potentials and ethical dilemmas. My hunch is that De Jarnatt had a set of ideas and images but only a vague notion of how to expand upon their meanings, and the writing process was likely an exploration of the questions running through his mind. Not all of De Jarnatt’s preoccupations in the movie are interesting — and some are even on the stupid side — , but MIRACLE MILE stands apart from most of 80s cinema in the extent of its uncertainty principle — also, the audacity of connecting the petrified certainty of the past with the organic uncertainty of the present and then pitting both against the stardust infinity of the future.
Youth feels like forever, but old age and death come sooner than you think. Most of the dead are forgotten and lost to time, but a precious few(relatively speaking) ‘survive’ as fossils of nature or of history(in the form of art, sculpture, monuments, or ruins), but like the fossilized bodies of Pompeii or the mummified remains drudged from La Brea Tar Pits, they are life frozen into death(and death frozen into ‘life’), a kind of tragic parody of both life and death. Utterly dead but with the impression of life; seemingly alive but imprisoned in death. We fear death because it not only means the extinction of life but the vanishing of all evidence that we’d ever existed — as most people are not meant for posterity, the only witness of their existence is themselves and a few personal intimates, increasingly fewer as society becomes less family-oriented and more atomized; a famous or notorious person can die with the assurance of being remembered by others, which is why the Jack Elam character in PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID takes comfort in the fact that he will be remembered in association with the legend of famous outlaw Billy the Kid; when famous people die the torch of the evidence of their existence passes on in the minds of future generations, but, for most people, the torch is extinguished upon their deaths, almost as if they’d never even existed in the world.
But, we also dread the preservation of our deaths, especially if anonymous, for it would be like fossilized amnesia. An amnesiac who cannot remember his or her past feels lost in the world; a mummy or fossil that can’t be identified is lost in time, a kind of John Doe or Jane Doe of eternity. What had once been a human life has become a specimen of archaeology, something for dry scholars to inspect like rocks or for school children to gawk at on field trips. A dead with a name has gained immortality of fame; he is a part of history as his identity places him in the pageant of man’s progress. A dead without a name is lost in the eternity of exile; it is part of geology, hardly distinguishable from the fossils of animals and birds. While we ennoble the unknown soldier as a tragic hero, most fossils, mummies, or remains of the unknown dead are meant for museum shelves, along with all other kinds of specimen, or for the furnaces.
Even if we were to use our science and imagination to speculate upon the past lives of the unknown dead, our ‘truths’ could only be general than personal; at best, we might know something about their ‘way of life’ but nothing of their inner lives; we may now know what kinds of potteries the Mayans used and what kind of food they ate, but Mayan-remains of the dead tell us nothing about the rich individualities of Mayan lives; all the remains blend into an anonymous and bland identity called ‘Mayan’; in life and death, so much of our sense of reality and worth is dependent on its relation to other lives, which is why a person who is all alone is bound to go crazy, as in all those ‘last person left alive on earth’ movies; it’s as if our identities are nothing unless acknowledged by others; only then, does it become something; if a living person can at least explain who he is to strangers, a dead mummy without a name cannot and, therefore, remains forever a nothing; there’s probably few things more horrible than being discovered alive as an unknown person who is also paralyzed in movement and speech, thus unable to reveal one’s identity. (Name is a strange thing when it comes to identity for it says nothing and everything, rather like ‘rosebud’ in CITIZEN KANE. If someone says "I’m Bob Smith" and that’s all we know about him, we still don’t know diddly squat about him. He’s still an unknown person who just happens to be labeled ‘Bob Smith’. Yet, the name alone has the power to make him into an individual apart from everyone else. It’s like the human mask in the film FACE OF ANOTHER. It’s just some flesh and skin over the frontal part of the head, but it says so much about a person or, at least, lends of such impression, but then, the world of humans is understood and shared through signs and symbols, both visual and aural; man’s visual creations signify as well as show — clothes one wears don’t merely say "I am wearing this" but "I am this" — , and language developed by the transformation of sounds into symbols. There were surely a lot of sleds identical to ‘rosebud’, but that one particular sled happened to be named ‘rosebud’, and that made all the difference to Kane. A million copies of the same teddy bear can be sold to a million kids, but each kid will give his or her teddy bear its own name, making the teddy come to life as a special friend for each different child. Indeed, the bear doll gained special affection by being named ‘Teddy’ — after the President of America — in the first place. A child giving a name to a doll is like the imprinting process in A.I. that turns David from a generic android to a ‘child’ with an identity. He goes from being ‘David’ to David.) We think about prehistoric man in generalities: what did ‘he’ hunt, what did ‘he’ eat, what did ‘he’ wear? We have no way of knowing what a prehistoric individual might have felt, whom he knew/loved/hated, what his final thoughts may have been. And for us to imagine the individual of prehistory, we would only be projecting ourselves or our fantasy of prehistory onto him or her.
We fear dying and fading into dust forever, but we also fear being dead and being preserved in a state that may never be recovered — imagine being secretly buried underneath the deepest/darkest bottom of the ocean where the body is to be preserved forever never to be found; ideally, people like to be both hidden and to be seen in death, as with the case of the Egyptian pyramid where the dead Pharaohs were hidden deep within the thick walls of the structure that, however, declared itself to earth and heaven that THIS is where the great kings lay buried; thus, tombs serve to both intensify the hiddenness and magnify the presence-ness. Burial in the bottom of ocean may be a bummer, but the prospect of the discovery of one’s preserved remains is no consolation either, for it is the desire of humans to be understood, and a body without a name or history is just an artifact; it isn’t invested with meaning; it’s like the scene in BLOW-UP where a bunch of young rock fans fight over a broken guitar piece, which happens to be invested with the significance or ‘meaning’ of having belonged to the famous Rock band Yardbirds, but when someone else later picks up the piece on the sidewalk, it’s just a piece of garbage and tossed back onto the street. The drama of living and dying is filled with emotions, but museums, especially of pre-history, hardly elicit any emotions. The tragedy of death is inscribed in the fossils and artifacts of the peoples and creatures that had once lived and died, but the emotional link between them and us remains as dry as a bone. We can only see them as generalities. But then, in the grand scheme of things, even fossils don’t last forever as nothing lasts forever. Entire star systems vanish in interstellar holocausts. Against such immensity, what does it all mean?
MIRACLE MILE is very specific in its 80s cultural references yet poses questions and quandaries that undermine the comforting narcissism and complacency of here-as-paradise and now-as-forever. The way the film begins, you can almost believe that the place where Harry Washello lives is a kind of paradise, a kind of retirement home for the young who can put off tomorrow forever as if they’re gonna stay young forever; of course, the freak rumors of a possible nuclear war shatters Washello’s lack of urgency and Disneyland illusions of golden-years-for-young-people, and he’s compelled to do things and deal with the sort of people he would normally never even dream of doing or meeting; he slips into the paradoxical cliche where having lots of time makes one thinks only of the present whereas having little time makes one think of forever.
Unlike Malick’s highfalutin mess, MIRACLE MILE doesn’t plunge into profundities but ‘touches’ on them to create ripples, leaving it up to the audience to unriddle the reflections in ways most logical and meaningful for each viewer. One can choose to overlook the ‘deeper meaning’ of the movie and just enjoy it as a romance-comedy-cum-sci-fi horror, but De Jarnatt was undoubtedly pursuing bigger questions, especially in allusion to other artists preoccupied with similar fears and obsessions.
What follows is an analysis of the general outline and themes of the film.

The opening image of MIRACLE MILE couldn’t be more reassuring, as if peace and prosperity were upon the land(and, by extension, the whole world, if not the entire universe), and each & every individual in this paradise had the freedom and means to plot his life at his own chosen pace. It’s as if the luxury of leisure and time are available to all, even Harry Washello who, even at the age of 30, hasn’t settled down to any meaningful career; he could be one of those trust fund kids.
The opening image is of glittering street lights dispersed over a quiet night, and all we hear are the plaintive yearning of Washello’s trombone(on which a photo of a girl is attached to the outer-slide) and congenial crooning of his white-bread romantic voice-over narration; Washello is a young man but so resigned to the world around him that he might as well be a senior citizen in retirement; fittingly enough, his great ‘passion’ — more like a fetishistic hobby — is old-time big band jazz that only old folks remember.
The opening image could be an introductory throwaway shot of any major city on any given night in any Hollywood movie. But of course, everything in art/fiction gains meaning in relation to everything else; each word of a novel or each note of a song means nothing on its own and has significance only in relation to the whole, thus the same thing takes on different significance in different stories. So, for those who’ve already seen MIRACLE MILE and know the story and outcome, elements in the opening scene take on special significance that would be inaccessible and irrelevant to the first-time viewer. The street lights shimmer like gems in the vast pool of darkness(as black as a tar pit), evoking the fragility of life that makes life all the more precious, especially against the backdrop of uncaring and indifferent eternity. In the closing scene of the film, the couple is trapped in a helicopter sinking into the abyss of the La Brea tar pits, and their final wish is for a direct nuclear strike to vaporize them into cosmic souls glittering like diamonds. In an early scene, when the couple stand outside the coffee shop/restaurant — where the woman works — , the blinking out-of-focus light-bulbs looming over them have the glimmering quality of diamonds. Even as MIRACLE MILE begins in the style of ‘just another romance-thriller-comedy’, it’s actually a carefully conceived and devised work in its use of motifs, symbolisms, and cross references, a labor of love toward which De Jarnatt poured a lot of attention and thought.

The night city-scape slips out of focus, which then fixes on the outer-slide of a trombone(attached to which is a snapshot of Julie, making for a deft interplay of night, music, city, and love that shines with more brilliance than all of TREE OF LIFE with its hyperventilating imagery), and then we hear the voice-over narration of the main character who seems and sounds like a nondescript ‘bland white guy’ of so many 80s comedies. He appears not to have a care in the world. The words are spoken in the manner of amiable passionless droning that is nevertheless pleasant, friendly, and, above all, non-threatening. (There were several ‘Reaganite’ icons of the ‘white male’ stereotype in the 1980s. One was the avenging white male perhaps best represented by Stallone as Rambo, another was the greedy white male made famous by Michael Douglas in WALL STREET, and then there was the nice white guy, of which Anthony Edwards and Andrew McCarthy were the among the most famous examples. Though the nice white guy wasn’t violent like the avenging white guy or amoral like the greedy white guy, he was often a target of ‘progressive’ mockery/satire for his niceness was seen as a luxury enabled by an American empire created and maintained through the instruments of white violence and white greed. Reaganism was seen as the return of unapologetic white militarism and white greed, and even though nice white guys — the minor yuppies with modest ambitions — seemed harmless and decent, their conceit of kindness was supposedly either a matter of willful naivete or moral cosmetics of the ‘favored’ denizens of a world that was designed to serve white American power; it’s like dogs and cats have the privilege of being nice-and-gentle because they are favored and fed by humans; if they had to hunt like other animals, they would show their true nature, and some of Washello’s natural instincts emerge in MIRACLE MILE, and on that note, the movie has some similarities with Sam Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS. Thus, Harry Washello is both a truly nice guy who shows his courage/heroism on that fateful night and a privileged white guy who gets his just desserts for having ignored the problems of a tyrannical world dominated by evil patriarchs like Reagan. He’d been indifferent to the world as long as he, as a privileged white guy, could take it easy and follow his inane dream of making it as a old-time big band instrumentalist, but the true power dynamics of the world finally comes closing in on him with the sudden advent of WWIII — started by Americans, of course.) He is a lone soul but not necessarily a lonely soul. He seems to be more on the lookout than looking for true love. He’s a grown man but something of a goof. The narration is lackadaisical, as if Washello’s body is natural producer of Valium. But then, we see a video documentary accompanied by sober narration in what turns out to be the natural museum of the La Brea Tar Pits. The animated images of the evolution of life should be recognizable to some — especially those who grew up in the 80s — from the second episode of COSMOS, but the narration is by someone other than Carl Sagan; in a way, it’s like a variation of the News-on-the-March segment of CITIZEN KANE; if the fake newsreel footage in CK presented a short summary of Kane’s public life to contextualize the rest of the film’s deeper delving into Kane’s private life, the documentary in MM presents a short summary of the universe within and against which the historical extinction of humanity and personal tragedy of Harry & Julie are made both significant and insignificant; it’s like, just as ‘rosebud’ really did exist but no one will find out about it, life on earth and human civilization really do exist but will burn into ashes one day, as if they’d never existed; indeed, think of all the life-forms and civilizations that may have come into being and then vanished in other star system without our knowing about it; just as we don’t know them, they won’t know us; but then, even in the present on our planet earth, most life-forms come into existence and vanish without anyone or anything else knowing or caring; there could be some squirrel that just died in some part of the forest somewhere, but it’d be like a tree falling in the forest without anyone knowing about it; and indeed, even millions of people perished without anyone outside their realm knowing of their deaths; think of the millions that died under Stalin and tens of millions that died under Mao without the knowledge of the Western press that had a monopoly on the narrative of truth; until the Vietnamese drove out the Khmer Rouge, the world was in th dark about the Killing Fields; and if Hitler and the Nazis had won, the narrative of the Holocaust would be far murkier, if existent at all; the very idea of News gives us the false impression that we are connected with everything in the world when, in fact, the real purpose of news is always to favor one reality over all others, to push one agenda above or against all others; when we read the news, we are not finding out about the world but having our attention be distracted by one narrative at the expense of all others, i.e. every news story hides as well as reveals reality, for what it reveals obscures what it doesn’t reveal; all the news space devoted to the Holocaust pushes out narratives of the Bolshocaust in which Jews played a significant role; by its very nature, controllers of the News always privilege the news they prefer over those news they find inconvenient or ‘hateful’; consider how ‘liberals’ have been made to be so obsessed with homomania as the Biggest News Story in the World that they see themselves as the most moral people in the world because they suck up to homos while being utterly blind to the fact that most of them are disgusting and uncaring eaters of chocolate-covered bacon, thus participating in the horrors of the hogocaust that might as not even be happening as the cruelty with which the noble hog is put through goes unreported by the Jewish-dominated media. (Liberalism and leftism used to be centered around the ideal of economic equality, but as urban liberal and leftist types find themselves getting ever richer and richer and more equal than others in the globalist order, they’re revised the idea of equality in terms of culture war issues, and so, the new equality is obsessed with the idea of marriage equality for homos. But of course, it’s really a form of marriage privilege for homos since their deviant concept of marriage is being favored and promoted while other deviant proposals such as multi-marriage and incest marriage go unaddressed. If liberals really believe in marriage equality for all, why is the homo kind promoted while other kinds are not? So, you see, it’s really about homo privilege packaged and sold as equality Since homos and Jews are rich and getting richer, they can no longer convincingly sell the ideal of economic equality; and so, equality has been turned into a gimmick where masses of less intelligent and less fortunate liberals have been duped into believing that they are fighting for equality by serving the narrow privileged interests of Jews and homos. Liberal masses are as dumb as conservative ones, but then, the masses throughout history have always been sheep regardless of ideology, nationality, or religion. It’s not an issue of conformism vs non-conformism but one of conforming to the old vs conforming to the new where the ‘new’ is controlled by the powerful and/or the power-obsessed.) Because of the manner in which the movie began — and Harry’s subsequent horseplay in the museum with school children to draw the attention of Julie — , we think the inclusion of the video presentation is maybe meant as a joke by De Jarnatt, Harry is drawn to Julie Peters(Mare Winningham) and tries to win her attention with one silly antic after another. Because of the comedic tone, the surroundings — fossils on display and recreations of prehistoric past — do not, as of yet, carry any special significance for us; it’s as if the infinite past is just a Pee-Wee-Herman-ish toy store backdrop to the all-important-and-pervasive present when, in fact, it’s the present that is a mere flash in the infinitude of time). There’s something odd about the manner in which natural museums organize and arrange things of nature in a most artificial manner. Consider how dinosaurs have become the favorite animals of children. Probably no animal as fearsome as a Tyrannosaurus Rex ever walked the Earth, but children feel no fear around dinosaur exhibits at museums, not least because the arrangement of fossils lends a comforting sense of controlled order. The hook of JURASSIC PARK was in subverting and exploding this sense of complacency. The old tycoon in the film grew up loving dinosaurs and dreamt of a theme park filled with dinos-for-the-whole-family. But dinos are one thing as museum exhibits/merchandises and quite another as walking killers and giants on the earth. The movie surely scared the crap out of a lot of kids. (Perhaps, JURASSIC PARK has special significance for Steven Spielberg the Jew. Maybe he was conveying the idea that, even though ‘white supremacism’ now appears to be a thing of the past, it may yet be revived and wreak havoc on humanity, especially Jewry, again. Beware of the Tyrannosaurus Axis. Also, the sheer fright of JURASSIC PARK anticipated SCHINDLER’S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. With JAWS, people expected to be frightened as everyone knows that sharks eat people. Though dinosaurs were even more fearsome as killers than great white sharks, the great distance of time has turned them into ‘cool’ mythic creatures, just like WWII has become, for some military buffs and aficionados, less an actual historical horror that devoured countless lives than a hobby of model airplanes, paraphernalia, collectibles, weapons, strategies, great commanders, and etc., as if WWII was more a game than a war. Spielberg himself fell into this trap with 1941, a lampoon of WWII that offended older actors like Charlton Heston, for whom WWII was a tragedy than material for farce. We naturally fear sharks that all too dangerously lurk the oceans, but the distance of hundreds of millions of years has made dinosaurs the objects of fascination and wonderment. But what were dinosaurs really like? Michael Crichton, who wrote the book, might have seen them as ‘big niggers’ whereas Spielberg saw them as ‘big Krauts’. JURASSIC PARK is an interesting case of how a liberal Jewish filmmaker can take the work of a white conservative author and twist the meanings around. Though I haven’t read the book, there seems to have been no indication that the character of the chaos mathematician was meant to be Jewish, at least according to the Wiki article. In the movie, he is of course played by a very Jewish Jeff Goldblum. If the character in the novel speaks the same lines as Goldblum in the movie, it’s likely that Crichton was talking about the danger of Negroes. If mankind shouldn’t bring back the dinosaurs because mankind — or mammals in general — was not meant to coexist with such dangerous beasts, a similar kind of argument applies to the Negroes. Negroes and whites evolved in different continents under different conditions and were separated from one another for most of their existence for very good reasons. Just as brown bears and African lions weren’t meant to live side by side, whites and Negroes were meant to be separate since the Negro is fiercer and stronger and poses a threat to the white race. The Negro is like a human raptor thug that be hunting down and robbing, raping, and murdering white folks. And this was also the subtext of the original KING KONG, an obvious inspiration for JURASSIC PARK. Just as nature separated dinosaurs and mammals through vast distance of time for a reason, nature separated white folks and black folks for a reason. White civilization couldn’t have been possible if tons of Negroes had been let loose in Europe for tens of thousands of years. There is a theme of racial separatism running through Crichton’s works. In EATERS OF THE DEAD — made into the movie 13th WARRIOR — , an Arab enters the world of Vikings and realizes the vast differences between cultures; also, the Vikings fight against cavemen who are especially primitive and savage — and may have to be exterminated in order for Europeans to live safely and make cultural progress. RISING SUN is about the white American order threatened by yellow peril in its globalized form snaking across the Pacific to hump blonde women and subjugate the white American race. CONGO says that black Africans should be left in their primitive state because they’re unfit for civilization, i.e. if you introduce civilization to black Africans, they’ll just act like gorillas and baboons with rifles. In CONGO, the forest gorillas that never had contact with humans are ‘innocent’ and harmonious, whereas gorillas that had come in contact with an ancient civilization act like a bunch of gangsta rapper Idi Amins. And the movie also contrasts the dangerous and well-armed ‘modern’ Africans with peaceable forest Negroes who are content to pick jungle melons and dance with gibbons. In other words, let the Negroes slumber in their edenic savagery and let’s not give them our weapons or bring them over to white nations where they’ll just act like raptor dinosaurs in JURASSIC PARK. If Napoleon is reputed to have said, "China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep", Crichton might have been saying, "Niggers are crazy. Let them boogie in the jungle." He had a point, for the white man brought the Negro to America with full confidence that the black savage would be contained within plantations, but it wasn’t long before Negroes were freed and running around and causing all kinds of havoc. But Spielberg the clever Jew reversed these meanings by turning the mathematician into a Jew, and so, his warning about dinosaurs take on shades of paranoia about the Nazis and white power.) For Harry Washello, the museum is just a place to idle away his time; though towering over the schoolchildren, he acts like one of the kids; later, when his voice-over narration says maybe he should find a job as a teacher, it’s funny because he has yet to emotionally graduate himself; but then, one wonders if the kind of adults who become teachers to young children just wanna be children forever; and, for some university professors, it’s like they wanna remain in college-student mode for the rest of their lives; education thus stunts as well broadens; it’s like intellectual groundhog day, what with teachers and professing the same thing over and over every year to a new bunch of kids who never seem to age. Washello’s attitude is he’s gonna be young forever because, young or old, he’s just take it easy through life; he’s the opposite of Benjamin Braddock in THE GRADUATE who frets about growing old and becoming like his parents; Braddock sees the world in terms of I-who-wants-to-stay-young vs the world that grows old and dreary; Washello is a young man in the 80s, a time when a lot of young people felt completely at ease with Reagan, the oldest president in American history; indeed, many young people in the 80s preferred to trust a man over 70 than boomers who were now in their 30s and 40s. Washello has no sense of urgency. Even when he sees a woman he really likes, he tries to attract her attention by acting like the class clown. Indeed, it is Julie who, as it turns out was attracted to Harry as he to her, walks over to him and starts a conversation when he thought he’d lost her for good and was willing to leave it at that. Harry is somewhat ‘immature’, but he’s a very nice guy, perhaps a bit too ‘nice’. He’s the sort of guy who would never hurt a fly, but his niceness is also a cushion from the troubles of the world and the deeper questions of life. He has a narrow range of interests and likes & dislikes but seems unwilling or incapable of taking the larger measure of the world — unless compelled to do so by extraordinary events. He’s so nice that at a seafood restaurant, he buys a bunch of lobsters to set them free, mainly to impress Julie what a fun and goofy guy he is. She certainly takes to his niceness as something warm and cuddly. But his niceness is also a plastic bubble, a cocoon, against the world. He has the classic 80s mind-set of either not wanting to deal with big issues or dealing with them with a goofy irony for which P.J. O’Rourke and Dave Barry became famous; Barry’s ‘satire’, if it could be called that, made people forget than face reality. Laughing at things or turning the world into a cartoon is one way of not dealing with it. MTV routinely ‘appropriated’ and trivialized images of historical figures like Gandhi, and with Live Aid and Rock the Vote — and shows like David Letterman — , it was no longer certain where the jokes ended and where the reality began. And with Ronald Reagan, it wasn’t easy to tell when he was being serious and when he was putting on an act, and after awhile, it was as if people didn’t care. (Paradoxically, earlier generations were more easily duped by fiction but believed more strongly in the need to distinguish reality from fantasy. A lot of Americans were fooled by Orson Welles WAR OF THE WORLDS radio broadcast, something that would be unimaginable today — though, maybe not, as no one has pulled a similar stunt out of fear of lawsuits. Back in the 1940s, a good number of viewers thought they were watching a documentary at the screening of ROME: OPEN CITY by Roberto Rossellini. In our age of BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITIES, it’s hard to fool anyone with such things. Also, the internet, digital camera/video devices, and CCTV have provided people with the tools to pry what’s real from what’s fake, though, all too often, the obsessive act of separating the wheat from the chaff can make one confuse the chaff for the wheat, as has been said of JFK conspiracy theorists and Birthers/Truthers; the human mind isn’t much different from the ghost mind in THE SIXTH SENSE; it sees what it wants to see, and so, the mounting availability of CCTV and other images from other devices, far from clarifying reality from falsity, has often had the effect of making us hallucinate what we want to see; the problem of technology and reality was explored in Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, and things are even more complex today, especially with CGI reaching a point where it can create images that are more-real-than-real. Anyway, despite the bigger naivete and ‘innocence’ of people in the past who might have fallen for Welles’s radio stunt, older generations had a clearer sense of what was important and serious as opposed to what was fantastic or trivial. So, people went to Church to pray to God, not to sing rock songs. They believed in family as a moral institution for the creation and raising of human life, not some lifestyle choice of over-privileged homos. They understood the difference between serious issues and trivial entertainment; it’s difficult to imagine a bunch of music stars in the 1940s holding a pop concert for the victims of the Holocaust. Of course, there were already signs of the trivialization of America, especially with Hollywood stars going over to entertain the G.I.s in Europe and Asia during WWII and in Korea, and indeed, the Hollywood-ization of newsreels portended signs of things to come. Americans today are far more media savvy and harder to fool in terms of what is real or fake. Especially with all the making-of documentaries on DVDs, kids today are more conscious of how movies are made, and of course, computer technology allows young kids to create their own fantasies. But what has diminished in society and culture is the distinction between serious reality and junk reality, between real values and junk ‘values’, between the real meaning of equality in a free society and ‘equality’ custom-designed to serve the privileged interests of arrogant and snot-nosed Jews and homos. Perhaps, the ground zero of the new dilemma can be found in the so-called Reality TV shows where it’s reality but not reality. In the traditional cinema-verite documentary filmmaking, the participants were trying to be nakedly real before the camera whereas the formula of Reality TV expects and pressures real people to conform to the TV’s ideal of hyper-reality of maximum entertainment value. Thus, people are encouraged to act unreally hyper-real as if that has more value as ‘extreme’ reality than ‘humdrum’ reality of life as life.) David Letterman was more both more irreverent and more reassuring than Johnny Carson. His irreverence wasn’t prickly and abrasive in the manner of pioneers such as Lenny Bruce, and instead, was rather a yuppie-knows-best put-on-act where irony soothed as balm for the would-be-‘so-hip-sticated’ than bit to draw blood from them. Of course, Letterman was NOT nice like Harry Washello, but his humor wasn’t eccentricity against the establishment but eccentricity appropriated by the establishment. A good example was when Letterman had Harvey Pekar(of AMERICAN SPLENDOR) on several occasions. Though Letterman brought attention to such ‘underdogs’, it was never to understand them but to treat them as objects of ridicule and merriment for viewers addicted to feeling glibly superior. (It was a new form of snobbery but also posed as anti-snobbery with the pretense of laughing WITH what they were actually laughing AT.) Letterman being a funny-looking guy and something of an oddball himself, it wasn’t a simple case of the mainstream mocking the sidestream, nor was it a case of the sidestream mocking the mainstream. Rather, Letterman served as a kind of two-way bridge between the two spheres. He was too oddball to be straight, and too straight to be different. Letterman served as a conduit through which oddballs and outsiders passed into the mainstream and vice versa. But another factor to Letterman’s advantage was that his audience was ‘hipper’ than the older middle-brow America that tuned into Johnny Carson and then into Jay Leno. There was just enough air of offbeat sophistication that made him the favorite of ‘intelligent’ late night talk-show viewers. Anybody could ‘get’ Carson, but you had to be in-the-know and of a certain sensibility to really ‘get’ Letterman. Thus, Letterman played it both low and ‘high’, both mainstream and subculture, both slobby and sly. The sensibility he ushered into the American living room — and on a nightly basis than just on weekends as with SNL — probably opened the door for shows like THE SIMPSONS and Jon Stewart. No one watched Carson to feel smart. But many watched Letterman, especially with friends in the dorms, to feel clever. Laughing at his jokes meant that you ‘got it’, which then implied you ‘got in’. People watched Carson to be a part of America: urban, suburban, small town, and rural all rolled into a cultural whole, but fans of Letterman got a kick from feeling urbanely different, though not too different. Because Letterman positioned itself as both mainstream and ‘intellectual’, it helped establish the attitude that one’s entire cultural and intellectual diet could be had from TV. It’s no wonder that so many ‘progressives’ now get most of their political news from stuff like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher. Since it’s not just entertainment but ‘smart’ entertainment, one can have the ‘intellectual’ cake and eat it too simply by being glued to the TV and other ‘smart’ junk news sources on the internet. Though there are indeed lots of smart liberals and ‘progressives’, much of ‘liberal intelligence’ is a conceit molded of attitudes and sensibilities than real meaning and real ideas — and certainly not honesty. Too often, style masks the lack of substance. Of course, it’s part of the trick of not being too sophisticated/intellectual since one could be accused of being ‘elitist’. This probably explains the changes that happened with NPR and other such programs. It once came across as overly dry, academic, or sincere in its choice of topics and programming, as if catered to the educated upper-classes and aspiring upper-middle classes. To have the cachet of being ‘of the people’, liberal shows needed to appeal to the low as well as to the ‘high’, to the slobs as well as to the snobs. Jon Stewart offers both ‘smart’ stuff and ‘dumb’ stuff, and thereby serves as a bridge between liberal elitists and Democratic slobs, and both sides feel ‘enriched’ via the impression of contact with one another. Thus, the better-or-higher type of liberal feels one with the ‘people’, and the lesser-or-lower kind of Democrat feels kinda smart-and-sophisticated in knowing that he’s laughing at the same jokes that rich and intelligent liberals find funny. Laughter carries with it an element of derision and contempt, and the lesser liberals with less money, by laughing along to Jon Stewart jokes, can share in the air of cultural and moral superiority of rich liberals who graduated from the Ivy Leagues who also watch Jon Stewart. If you’re a Democratic slob with a crappy job and no future, you can at least rest assured that you’re watching the same show that Harvard graduates who make millions are watching. There is no comparable cultural force on the Right. Rush Limbaugh and country music are the favorites of conservative slobs while richer and better educated conservatives prefer NPR or even Stephen Colbert.

Though Harry Washello is a nice guy and hardly a jerk, he is very much a creature of the 80s. Regardless of his political or ideological inclinations, he is defined by many of the characteristics of the ‘Reaganoid white male-ness’, though of the passive than aggressive kind — the character Joel(Tom Cruise) of RISKY BUSINESS was seriously passive/aggressive, half nice suburban kid who seeks approval and half wanna-be Gordon Gekko who wants the world. If the iconic 60s white male embarked on a ‘search of (self)discovery’ to find the meaning of life — even if it amounted to little more than riding a motorbike to New Orleans to sell cocaine — , the 80s white male of the cultural imagination/critique was complacent and content with what he was; even his cynicism had a reassuring quality, as in RISKY BUSINESS where it doesn’t faze anyone that life is all about ‘money’; it was as if US was one giant consumer mall paradise where the biggest worry was whether anyone remembered Molly Ringwald’s birthday in SIXTEEEN CANDLES, a movie sold as neo-innocent but was wholly cynical in its cheap and shameless manipulations; even ‘innocent’ was thoroughly cynically manufactured. Instead of resisting ‘plastics’ as Benjamin Braddock tried to do, the 80s hero was demanding it. If the 60s icon dared to break out of the mold, the 80s icon fit into the fold.
Some viewed the 80s as a return to 1950s conformism, not least because Reagan was at the helm, but 80s white culture was as much the product of as well as a ‘reaction’ to the so-called ‘radical 60s’. White youths of the Counterculture era ‘struggled’ because a host of taboos and rules & regulations were still in place that constrained their freedoms. And there was an unpopular war in which too many American boys were coming home in body bags. But full freedom had been won by the 70s — ironically under Richard Nixon and Ford — , and the war came to an end. Once freedom can be taken for granted, it tends to nurture complacency than daring. Kids in the 70s and 80s didn’t have to struggle for libertine freedom as earlier generations had done. Compare the attitudes in THE AMERICAN GRAFFITI and DAZED AND CONFUSED. The former takes place before all hell broke loose, a time when the hierarchies of social authority were still in place. Things are stirring at the dawn of a new era, but social stability is still the order of the day. Richard Linklater’s film takes place in 1976 when highschoolers have no hangups about sex and drugs; freedom has become banal, so much so that the major ‘moral issue’ among the characters is the silly business of whether the quarterback guy should sign the customary pledge not to use drugs; indeed, there’s so much freedom and laxness in the high school that the character — and Linklater too — inflates the ‘controversy’ all out of proportion in order to have something to ‘rebel’ against in the name of principle; incidentally, the radical feminist history teacher in the film was a sign of things to come with the rise of political correctness in the 80s and 90s, i.e. even though boomer radicals defined their 60s experience as one of rebellion and liberty, they became harsh enforcers of orthodoxy once they gained control of the institutions. The 60s radicals — especially Jews and homos — , in order to shake up the foundations of society, acted as if they were for more freedom for everybody and all sides. As most Americans(even liberals) were still hostile to or suspicious of radical ideas, 60s activists had to pitch their agenda to as wide a public as possible, i.e. in America, one should be equally free to put forth the pro-homosexual view as the anti-homosexual view. But once the radicals took over the seats of power, they promoted political correctness as a means to revise the ‘new freedom’ into something that will ONLY tolerate certain kinds of views while utterly shaming other kinds and destroying those who dare express or espouse them and refuse to get on with the program of the ‘new freedom’. So, if in the 1970s, one had the freedom to be pro-homosexual as well as anti-homosexual, one better be ONLY pro-homosexual today because if you don’t bend over to the new agenda, you are labeled as subhumanly ‘less evolved’ and infected with a clinical ‘phobia’. Similarly, there was a time when Jews had pushed for more freedom so that pro-Jewish views would have the same protections as views that were suspicious of or hostile to Jewish power, but today, the only kinds of views that are permissible are pro-Jewish views; but then, of course, Jews can spew all the anti-wasp, anti-Christian, and anti-white virulence, contempt, and hatred they want. (At one time, Jews pretended to embrace Catholics as fellow allies against the order of Wasp privilege, but now that wasp power has essentially become subservient to Jewish power, Jews are out to destroy the last vestiges of Catholic power as well. It’s how Jews play the game. ‘Good will’ simply doesn’t exist in the Jewish vocabulary.) It’s as if Jews had once called for a new order where bread would be available to all — for pro-Jews and anti-Jews alike — , but once they took over the bakery, they decided bread was only for their favored kind — themselves, their homo allies, and anti-white forces.
In the 60s, fighting for more freedom had meaning. By the late 70s, it was just about being free to party. M*A*S*H by Robert Altman was admired as bold satire. ANIMAL HOUSE had no such pretensions; it was just a mindless party movie and served as a template for the new mentality of freedom as something to party with than fight for. (It’s like the Beastie Boys’ song "Fight for Your Right to Party".)
But there was a key difference between 70s culture and 80s culture. The former still retained some of the wild, anarchic, and crazy spirit of 60s Counterculture, an element of vitality, authenticity, and grubbiness. You could smell the sweat and the stink. The ‘wild’ 80s comedies that followed lost this element, and things got downright neat and ultra-formulaic with John Hughes’ teen comedies. (In a way, the huge success of Randal Kleiser’s GREASE and total failure of Milos Forman’s HAIR may have been harbingers of things to come. GREASE, for all the oily hair, was very cute and neat, a kind of amnesiac pill that, like HAPPY DAYS, made one forget that the 60s and early 70s had ever happened. Its biggest worry was whether Danny and Sandy could make it work. It was carefully market-tested junket of a movie that pushed all the right buttons, and it hit the jackpot at the box office. HAIR, in contrast, rehashed the themes and issues that tore America apart during the Counterculture era, and the audience simply wasn’t interested. Of course, the failure of HAIR could be attributed to its awfulness because, after all, films such as COMING HOME, THE DEER HUNTER, APOCALYPSE NOW, and PLATOON were respectable hits despite their picking on the historical scab of the 60s. But the general mood of the late 1970s was to finally get over the late 60s/early 70s hangover. The Disco craze had been such a palliative, but it was so excessive in its silliness that it only worsened the hangover, which couldn’t be partied away. Besides, who really wanted the image of a renewed America to be one of Jimmy Carter and his malaise speech and a bunch of fruiters who called themselves the Village People gyrating their hips to "Macho Man"? Incidentally, when I first heard and saw them as a child, I didn’t know they were homo but couldn’t help feeling something wasn’t right about them. If not for the AIDS epidemic, maybe the gay agenda would have made even greater inroads in the 1980s. But homos, with their Jewish supporters, found a clever way to spin the AIDS epidemic, something for which they themselves were most responsible, into tragedy of epic proportions that made homos in to holy victims in a kind of homocaust. In other words, all those homos died not because of their excessive behavior and the filthy nature of fecal penetration but because America didn’t care enough. So, just as Americans hadn’t done enough to save Jews from the Holocaust, an uncaring America didn’t do enough to save all those saintly gays by not spending half its GDP on a miracle drug so that homos could bugger away all night long without the risk of infection. In a subtle way, homos and Jews also used the AIDS epidemic to discredit the Christian God, as most of the Christian community was a bulwark against the gay agenda. It was as if Christian God did nothing to save all those saintly homos from dying, and therefore, Christianity must be totally revamped so that Jesus would be overshadowed by the new messiah of Obama, the gayish mulatto bought and sold by Jews and homos. So, even though homos brought the mess upon themselves — and even spread the disease to the straight community via bi-sexuals, drug use, and blood transfusions — , they made themselves out to be victims of straight society, and it’s as if we now must be ultra-pro-gay in order to redeem our past sins of ‘homophobia’, which is now the second worst evil ‘ideology’ after ‘antisemitism’. When you hold your baby in your arms, you see the him as your child, and you want him to grow up as a healthy member of your community. But Jews and homos don’t see the child that way. Jews think your baby was born to serve not himself, his family, and his community but the Jews. Jews don’t hold their own babies and think they were born to live, fight, kill, and die for gentiles, but Jews want gentiles to think of their own children as having been born to primarily serve Jews. If Hitler were killing only Poles during WWII while sparing the Jews, would any Jewish-American felt that his son should go fight the Nazis and lay down his life to save ‘dumb Polacks’? Not in a million years. Homos feel toward straight people how Jews feel toward gentiles. We all exist to revere and serve them. They are filled with ultra-narcissism of themselves as more intelligent, more creative, more special, and more morally justified — as they believe themselves to have suffered most through history, which is a lot of hooey, Jooey, and pooey.)
ANIMAL HOUSE has no message, but it still retained some of the genuine rebellious spirit of the 60s and authenticity of the 70s. In contrast, most 80s teenage sex and college party movies didn’t even have that. As lewd and vulgar as many of them were, they catered to sunny and safe suburbia; and even the booger-and-burp jokes were carefully formulated gags than brash gestures. In the 60s, the counterculture was a rebellion against the standardization of culture and values following WWII, when American was remade into a vast middle class complex with a dream of suburban home for every family and a TV in every living room — and maybe bedroom too. (In a way, the Counterculture was a rebellion not only against what was seemingly bad about society but what was ‘good’ about society as well, i.e. maybe society had been scrubbed too clean after WWII as unprecedented number of Americans gained foothold in the middle class; the transformation was so rapid that the new prosperity and new privilege had to be universalized and standardized as fast as possible; in Old Britain, the socio-economic climb from working class to middle class had been an arduous process wherein the newcomers had to be ever so mindful of saying, wearing, and doing the right things, not least because nothing could be taken for granted; in contrast, America had less of a culturally specific tradition of the middle class, and the transformation of lower class people — of various ethnic backgrounds — into the middle class was vast and rapid following WWII; to accommodate so many people so fast, the idea of the American middle class had to be as standardized as much as possible, and this happened in American higher education as well, as unprecedented number of Americans with G.I. Bills were attending college for the first time in their families’ history. A lot of Americans, especially those who’d risen from lower class status and gone through the Depression and WWII, thought they never had it so good and were perfectly content with the middle-class-ness, even if it was ‘bland’ and standardized. But not everyone was happy with the new state of things. Dwight MacDonald, both a leftist and an elitist, found the new liberalism to be bloodless and found what he called ‘Mid-cult’ to be a sausage-ization of high/serious culture for the nouveau-middle-class that really had no use for high/serious/avant-garde culture except as status symbols. And, for many boomer children born into such conditions, standardized middle-class-ism was never bound to be good enough, especially as consumerism via TV and pop music bombarded their eyes and ears with unattainable fantasies of freedom-AND-meaning. Also, the nature of education changed as those who’d been radicalized by the Great Depression and WWII — as well as Jewish emigre intellectuals from Europe — gradually came to take control of the media and academia. Though radical ideals were unrealistic, even fantastic, the boomer generation weaned on higher expectations could make believe anything was possible; paradoxically, the success of consumer-capitalism led to the popularity of leftist radicalism, i.e. consumerism filled young people with dream fantasy of having-it-all — best looks, best homes, best clothes, best lovers, best cars, etc. — , and this mind-set had its counterpart in the mind-set of utopian dreams of perfect justice and equality and happiness for all; though ideologically opposite, the fantasism of consumerism and fantasism of radicalism made a natural pair, which is why, today, we have movies like MATRIX trilogy that peddles Calvin Klein narcissism and neo-Marxist revolution as two-in-one package; it’s no wonder that homos, the vainest and most narcissistic people in the world, came to dominate both capitalism and the new ‘leftism’; homos cannot be biological parents but, boy, don’t they inspire us with the fantasy of ‘gay marriage’ and ‘gay parenting’; if such fairytales can come true, then might not anything else that we wish for as well? Paradoxically, the sheer fantasy of the gay agenda has great appeal to so many Americans because reality is, by its nature, dreary and tough; reality means limits on what is possible; but, if we can make believe in the fairytale of ‘gay parenting’, maybe we can make ourselves believe that ANYTHING is possible. In a way, the real culture war in the past sixty years had been between realistic expectations and fantastic hopes, and of course, even though reality is realer than fantasy, the latter is more alluring; if you tell an ugly woman that she’ll never be beautiful and should just try to look presentable and if another person tells her that she too can be as beautiful as a goddess, whose advice is she likely to go with? Anyway, the boomer generation didn’t have to worry about basic needs amply provided for them, and so, they obsessed about things of greater meaning and pleasure, preferably orgasmic, as the Beatles showed how music can be not only erotic but erogenous; girls screamed as if their ears were clitorises being fiddled and diddled by the Fab Four. Pop culture had always made people feel good but good wasn’t good enough for the Boomers; it had to blow their minds and groins. Rock music was so pleasurable and mind-blowing that when the album ended, reality simply wasn’t good enough. And of course, rock concerts went from 40-60 minutes affairs to 3 to 4 hour events. And, a set of values and ideas that gave the Boomers direction in life weren’t good enough; it had to inspire them with ecstasies of utopianism; it’s like the young woman at the end of ZABRISKIE POINT finally feels joy by fantasizing the blowing up of the rich folks’ mansion; it’s like revolutionary violence as better-than-sex. Hippies even left the comfort of middle class security in search of authenticity, though, to be sure, in the secure knowledge that they had homes to go back to; it didn’t matter that they traveled around in cramped vans, barely showered, slept in sleeping bags, and crapped in the woods; they were out to touch Indians, though Indians were probably running from them. As Mike Royko suggested in a column, the hippie was, in some way, a throwback to the hobo, a familiar character during the Depression who traveled around in empty train compartments, and indeed, Bob Dylan, one of the great icons of the 60s, took some of his inspirations from the most famous ‘hobo’ of them all, Woody Guthrie. And ON THE ROAD romanticized the beatnik as a kind of neo-hobo with a poetic soul and a car, which made things easier than hopping from train to train. Hobos and hippies may have stunk and dressed dirty, but there was a mystique of freedom about them that was lacking in the standardized postwar lives of many boomers; Agnes Varda’s VAGABOND explored the various facets of this mystique in relation to the harsh realique. And for some ethnic groups, especially the Jews, the suburban life cut them off from the vibrancy of urban life that held a certain nostalgic value. Though the urban experience for many ethnic groups had been one of crowdedness, grinding poverty, disease, and crime, it had also filled them with a powerful sense of cultural identity and a lively sense of cosmopolitanism, i.e. city life was both more tribal and more universal than suburban life, which made it all the more fascinating. Italian-Americans in the Italian-American enclave, Polish-Americans in the Polish-American enclave, Jewish-Americans in the Jewish-American enclave, and etc. all lived apart in the same city with a fair amount of distrust — if immigrant parents of various ethnic groups spoke different languages and practiced different religions, their children could be had their own Americanized variations of tribalism — like the Jets vs the Sharks in WEST SIDE STORY — , but the city was also a crazy-quilt mosaic of many different groups who all shared the Down Town area — and you didn’t have to be Irish to take part in the St. Patrick Day Parade. So, city was both intensely ethnic and freely universal. It was also noisy, nerve-racking, and congested, which is why so many ethnic groups were finally glad to move out to the suburbs and find peace in the fresh air and green lawns — especially with all them Negroes migrating from the South and acting like crazy jigger-jivers. If many people adapted well to the quieter life of the suburbs, others felt trapped in a world of stony silence and blandness, and this was especially true of Jews like Betty Friedan who was born with a Hester-Street mentality. As suburbs tended to be less ethnically defined than urban enclaves — today, white ethnic enclaves are all but gone in most cities, replaced by various kinds of SWPL sub-cultural communities and, of course, the homopolitan areas — , they were less tribal and accommodating to all kinds of groups, but they could never generate the kind of cosmopolitan excitement since the homes were spaced apart by lawns and downtown areas were either nonexistent or very small. In one way, boomers were bound to be more sensitive to what was wrong with society because many of them grew up without want. A poor white person in the 20s or 30s wouldn’t have been so stirred by images of poor Negroes since his own lot wasn’t much better; he might have felt, "So, you’re poor! Welcome to the club, nigger!" It was the norm for large sections of Americans to live without electricity or running water. So, being poor and barely subsisting, while not good, wasn’t necessarily seen as a Social Evil. But for boomers who couldn’t imagine any social reality lacking the amenities into which they were born, the idea that some Americans didn’t have it so good was not only shameful but horrible! So, liberalism shifted from providing jobs and opportunities for the poor to providing free things for the poor so that they could lead lives of ‘dignity’, though, by addicting the underclass to handouts, the dignity was effectively taken away.) By the 80s, it was as if suburbia has accepted libertine-ism as well, what with every family owning a VCR. Dirty old men had to go to big cities to watch porn movies in the 70s, but in the 80s, porn had entered the living rooms and bedrooms. Even school children began to whisper and crack jokes about what they secretly saw of their parents’ or uncles’ or next door neighbors’ porny collection. So, even if there was an air of stability and ‘apathy’ in the 80s that recalled some of the ‘conformism’ of the Eisenhower years, it was against the backdrop of an entirely different cultural context. (Though one can make a case of how 50s conformism gave way to 60s non-conformity, what is often called ‘social progress’ is less a matter of going from conformism to individualism as a matter of replacing one conformism with another. After all, all those people at Woodstock looked rather similar in the way they dressed and let their hair grow. When a society goes from men with crew cuts to men with long hair, only the rules of conforming have changed. Thus, even though so much is made of our ‘social progress’ with this ‘gay’ business, our society is merely conforming to the ‘new normality’ of homomania as promoted by Jewish and homo elites that control most of the powerful institutions. Notice how so many people on Facebook used the red-equal-sign — that looks like a bleeding rectum — as their avatars; they are mindless lemmings. Thus, even non-conformity has been appropriated by the powers that be and is defined in a manner that serves their own privilege and interest; and most people, being natural sheep, just go along and think they are being ‘different’ when they’re really bending over to the New Boss.) And even though the new cultural mentality of the 80s tended to be ‘conservative’, it was bound to increase the power of the boomers. When boomers were young in the 60s, many of them rebelled against their elders. But as boomers grew older and took up powerful positions across institutions, the last thing they wanted was to have new generations of young people challenge their power. So, the boomers had mixed feelings about 80s conservatism. On the one hand, they hated the fact that so many young people seemed to be ‘apathetic’ when the nation was ruled by a second-rate actor who happened to be ‘delirious’ about communism and wanted to blow up the world. On the other hand, the new docility and ‘niceness’ would play into boomer hands since ‘conservative’ attitudes tend to be submissive and non-rebellious. So, 80s ‘conservative apathy’ would only serve the interest of boomers as all those ‘nice’ kids could be turned onto political correctness and as few dared to rebel against the New Power. Indeed, this is what Allan Bloom warned about when he discussed the problems of ‘niceness’ in THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND.

Every decade has its blend of optimism and pessimism, security and hysteria. 60s were the go-go years, a time of great economic boom and optimism in social change. It began with the ascendancy of John. F. Kennedy, and after his assassination, American spirits seemed to be flying high to the tune of the Beatles and Beach Boys. LBJ rode the tide of optimism, and the goals of Great Society seemed achievable than a utopian fantasy. But there was the other side of the 60s: the race riots, rapid rise in Negro crime, drug culture, radical politics, and war of generations. 70s carried over the excesses of the 60s and then came the political paranoia from and around Nixon and Watergate, but it was also when the Vietnam War and the street protests came to an end, and America finally breathed a sigh of relief. With America having survived Vietnam and the Nixon disgrace/scandal, it finally seemed as though things might return to normal and America get back on track, and Carter played on this hope. But it wasn’t long before Carter got caught up with his own controversies, what with the ailing economy and Soviet influence spreading in Africa, Central America, and Afghanistan; and then, there was Iran that brought back the memories of the fall of Saigon and American impotence. This was a time of great electoral opportunity for the GOP — indeed, one wonders how things might have played out if there had been no Watergate scandal — as the political realignment brought many former Catholic/ethnic and Southern white Democrat voters — and even Jews who would later come to be known as ‘neoconservatives’ — over to the Republican Party, though the full cultural-political impact of this shift became only gradually apparent. Due to the excesses of the 60s and rising crime, many former blue collar white Democrats and ethnics just about had enough. But more eventful was the shift in the South to the GOP. Initially, this made possible the great victories of Nixon in 72, Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and Bush in 1988. And this was a time when whites were still the solid majority in America. GOP, with the help of southern whites and blue collar whites, could win everywhere. In the West, North, East, and South. But in the long run, there was a price to pay, especially due to the growing dependence on ‘free trade’ libertarians and Southern voters. ‘Free trade’ and pro-rich policies pushed by the GOP undermined the white working class and lower middle class, who increasingly came to distrust the Republican Party. GOP policies were great for rich and upper-middle class whites but not good for other kinds of whites. Also, the main beneficiaries of the pro-rich policies — the globalist boomer liberals, Jews, and homos — could never come over to the GOP for social and/or cultural reasons. Because the GOP spearheaded the ‘free trade’ and low tax policies, they got the bulk of the blame for promoting greed and creating inequality EVEN THOUGH the main winners of the new socio-economic order were urban liberals made up mostly of Jews, liberal wasps, homos, and elite feminists. So, rich liberals got to have the cake and eat it too. Even as their own wealth and privilege rose and rose far above the rest of America, there was always the GOP to take the blame. (Suppose there’s a smart kid and dumb kid in school. The dumb kid is for hierarchy while the smart kid pretends to be for equality. Suppose the dumb kid demands that the teacher allow smart kids to get the better grades and sweep up all the prizes while letting the dumb kids fall behind. Suppose the smart kid says he wants a more ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ grading system. Suppose the teacher follows the demand of the dumb kid. Initially, the dumb kid thinks he won, but of course, the smart kid wins in the class room while the dumb kid is left behind. But since the dumb kid demanded the hierarchical grading system, he takes the blame for the inequality while the smart kid, even as he spouts cliches about ‘equality’, grabs all the prizes. It’s essentially what happened with the GOP and the Democratic Party. GOP demanded more ‘natural hierarchy’, but the natural winners were the smart and creative liberals over the dumb and dim conservatives.) And when the South was coming over to the GOP, it was as a secondary force in the GOP coalition. But, as the GOP became increasingly identified with the Deep South, many secular and moderate white voters in the North and West became increasingly alienated by the GOP’s new image as the redneck Bubba party that was into Creation-ism, Evangelicalism, and Neo-Confederate-ism. Thus, many Northern whites turned away from the GOP, and many ‘smart’ and ‘sophisticated’ people didn’t want to be associated with the ‘Bubba Nascar Party’. To be sure, the GOP pandered to the wealthy and, as such, took for granted the support of the rich and superrich. But once even the Democrats accepted lower taxes and ‘free trade’ policies — and ‘stabbed Big Labor in the back’ — , the rich and superrich didn’t need the GOP to protect their interests anymore. Also, GOP failed to understand that even as the rich love their money, they don’t wanna be seen as ‘greedy’ and ‘shallow’. They want the dough but wanna show off their halo. GOP’s message of ‘rich is good’ and ‘money is great’ came across as bad press for the rich that wanted see themselves and be seen by others in terms of "we are rich because we are creative and inventive, not because we are greedy, and besides, our ultimate goal is to ‘give back’ to society." The liberal side was better at exploiting the moral vanity of the rich. The superrich felt uncomfortable around conservatives for the same reason Jews/Zionists did. The superrich wanna come across as ‘wonderful’ people rubbing shoulders with ‘intelligent people who care’, but conservative politicians, activists, and intellectuals acted like running dogs slavishly enamored of the rich for their fat wallets & expensive jewelry and always pledging to lower taxes for the rich with the fanatical conviction that the rich are the best of the best and nothing is too good for them simply because they are rich; the rich may have benefitted greatly from conservative policies, but they find conservatives to be a bunch of slobbering dogs who foul up their precious image; the rich may recruit conservative dogs to guard the outside of the house but don’t want them inside, which is reserved for ‘thoughtful’ liberal guests with the right kind of class, confidence, and ‘dignity’. Jews wanna come across as a caring and compassionate people with thoughtful minds, but conservatives act so servile to Jews that it only draws unwanted attention to Jewish power. (It’s like a high class woman wants to be admired for her mind, manners, style, and virtues, whether she really has such qualities or not. She doesn’t wanna be around someone who slobbers all over her and openly declares his love for her ‘big titties and ass’, even if he’s very honest about why he’s so committed to her.) Jews don’t want that kind of attention, which is why the likes of George W. Bush, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney never appealed to Jews. Their scream loud and clear, "Oh great Jew, let me suck your cock!! Oh great Jew, let me kiss your ass!!" They do this out in the open with such vulgar servility that Jews are more than a little nervous and embarrassed by the spectacle of goyim worshiping their great wealth and power. (To be sure, conservatives pretend like they’re concerned with the safety and welfare of supposedly defenseless Jews in a world that is still rife with ‘antisemitism’, but actions speak loudly than words, and anyone can see that conservative support of the Jewish community is that of a running dog to a master that, by the way, kicks it all the time.) Anyway, every decade of the 20th century had its great sunny side and great dark side. The 20s began as the Jazz Age and was giddy with stock markets before crashing to the Great Depression. The 50s and 80s had parallels in their extremes of hysteria and complacency. There were two kinds of hysteria in the 50s: those who saw communists everywhere and those who saw ‘fascist’ anti-communists everywhere. There was paranoia, paranoia about paranoia, and paranoia about paranoia about paranoia. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS captured this mood with stark brilliance. But the 50s also a time when the nation was dozing off with the I-Like-Ike soma pill. WWII was fading into history, Korean War ended, and with the death of Stalin, the USSR seemed to be moderating. Though Eisenhower was anti-communist, he didn’t care to turn the Cold War into a Crusade against ‘Godless Communism’ — and closed his presidency with a warning about the power of the military-industrial complex that had come into being during WWII but seemed only to get bigger and bigger even in peacetime; as someone who was born in the 19th century and witnessed America’s massive transformation from a nation where majority of people farmed the land and rode horses to a nation that built thousands of bombers and possessed the nuclear bomb, his anxieties about the new order was probably cultural as well as political. He urged patience and discipline in what he assumed would be a prolonged struggle against communism. So, the 50s were a time of both A-bomb scares and apple pies baking in the oven. It was a time of both "mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?" and "mother, do you think the pie is done?" But despite the political tensions, it was a socially stable time. Same could be said of the 80s. The political rhetoric could be very heated, even hysterical on both the Right and Left. With the benefit of hindsight, Reagan way overplayed the Soviet threat. He was building all those new bombs just when the USSR was exhausted and about to keel over from the weight of its own wastefulness and inefficiencies. Looking back, all that ‘evil empire’ talk now seems a bit ripe, even ridiculous. There were other right-wing hysterias such as the moronic RAMBO movie that re-fought the Vietnam War in the fantasy-land of amnesia and had a single muscular American defeating just about the entire communist empire — though it still made more sense that a tribe of Teddy Bears defeating the Empire in RETURN OF THE JEDI. As if this wasn’t silly enough, Stallone followed it up with ROCKY IV, one of the dumbest movies ever made. But the left was pretty silly too, making ludicrous movies like THE DAY AFTER, as if Reagan, at the behest of Armageddon-obsessed Evangelicals, was really planning to blow up the world to Kingdom Come. The anti-nuke hysteria reached its peak in marches in West Germany, where ‘progressives’ hated US more than the USSR that held East Germany hostage.
But Reagan was popular at home, and he made a lot of Americans feel safe and strong. It seemed as if US was ‘finally’ rolling back the tide against the USSR, and communism was fading in China with the reforms of Deng Xiaoping. College campuses were mostly calm during the 80s, with the biggest issue probably being ‘Divest from South Africa’ — though, of course, there was no such demand concerning Israel, but then the ‘progressive’ movement was then, as is now, controlled by liberal Zionists. Furthermore, Reagan seemed to be getting less ‘crazy’ even in the eyes of the Left. When he met with Gorbachev and hammered out a deal, the liberals were so impressed that it was for that reason that they let him off the hook for the Iran-Contra Hostage scandal, which, if one thinks about it, was in some ways more serious than Watergate. (Even so, Watergate seems worse because it was so petty and stupid. Iran-Contra deal was a breach of the law, but one could find some ‘nobility of cause’ in raising funds for anti-communist rebels in Central America and brokering a deal to have hostages released. Watergate was a criminal act of such pettiness that it couldn’t be dignified as a ‘noble’ crime. It wasn’t even an epic folly but a pee-wee folly. It’s like if you’re gonna risk losing everything on a hunting expedition, hunt for an rhino than a mouse. Paradoxically, it may have been the pitifulness of the crime that made the controversy of Watergate so much bigger. The idea of the President of America stooping to that level for so dubious a prize was a disgrace to the very notion of power. It’s like if a gangster kills a bunch of tough guys to be the new kingpin, that’s at least ‘badass’. But if he breaks the law to steal a box of cookies from a girl scout, that’s simply pathetic, and he may never regain his ‘dignity’ as a tough guy.)
If the ‘Red Scare’ of the 50s raged when the Cold War was heating up, its counterpart — as well as the Reagan-Scare fanned by the Left — in the 80s was when the Cold War was cooling down. In retrospect, one could argue that the ‘Red Scare’ of the 50s wasn’t heated enough, especially with the later revelations as to the extent of radical infiltration of American institutions at the behest of the Soviet Union. It turns out many more people who’d professed their innocence had really been guilty as sin. (Some liberals have argued that the Soviet infiltration of the American system had essentially been neutralized by the late 40s, and therefore, much of the ‘Red Scare’ fanned by HUAC and Joe McCarthy was much exaggerated and unnecessary. From a purely foreign policy POV, this may have been the case. But the emphasis on espionage-for-a-foreign-nation misses the point of the much graver threat posed by the radical left in America. Even if Soviet espionage had effectively been curtailed in by the 1950s, the real threat resided within America itself. While some leftists infiltrated the US government to aid and abet a foreign government, many more leftists entered the American system to change America itself, regardless of whether the USSR existed or not. Thus, the radical threat was real even if most radicals in the US government weren’t foreign spies. After all, American Jews are a bigger threat to white Americans than Israeli agents are; Israeli agents spy on America to aid Israel whereas American Jews mess with American institutions to fundamentally change America itself. To better illustrate this, suppose a whole bunch of neo-Nazis entered the US government in the 1950s. Now, as Nazi Germany had been destroyed in 1945 during WWII, American neo-Nazis couldn’t possibly serve a foreign nation or act as spies; they would be Americans working in America for America. But they still would have an agenda of transforming America into a radically different nation where, possibly in the future, neo-Nazis elements could take control of the levers of power. Wouldn’t that have been more dangerous for America than the threat of Nazi spies in America passing secrets to a foreign government. Spies infiltrate institutions to aid a foreign nation whereas radicals infiltrate institutions to change those very institutions to change the nation itself. Thus, the real danger posed by radicals who wormed into US institutions was not their spying activity but their subversive agenda to change the whole character of America. And the Jews who entered and took over American institutions did just that, engineering policies that came to turn white Americans from the dominant majority group into a dwindling population, with most of the men being a bunch of wussies kissing Jewish ass and most of the women being homomaniacal and Negro-worshiping idiots who celebrate their own racial suicide; they are more pathetic than the Eternals who greet their own deaths in the final scene of ZARDOZ.)
But given the crudity of style and lack of intelligence/imagination in American conservatism in the 50s, liberal anti-communists made the more effective argument, regardless of whether it was valid or not. And it took a former leftist and a homosexual, Whittaker Chambers, to write what perhaps became the most powerful indictment of communist subversion in America, but then, it was the socialist George Orwell who wrote the best work on the nature of Stalinist totalitarianism. Given the conditions and events, any sensible person should understand the reasons for the ‘Red Scare’ in the 1950s. The so-called ‘hysteria’ has been much vilified only because many of the suspected subversives were Jews, and it’s generally true that even most conservative Jews will side with leftist Jews against even conservative goyim. The Jewish-controlled media and academia fumed and still fume about the ‘Red Scare’, not mainly due to ideological or constitutional reasons but for tribal reasons: they saw it as a veiled form of ‘Jew Scare’, and indeed, there were elements on the Right that tended to associate the radical Left with Jewish power — and not without justification as Jews were disproportionately involved in leftist agendas. If 1950s ‘Red Scare’ seemed at least half-justified due to Stalin’s Iron Curtain, the communist takeover of China, and the Korean War; what was all the anti-Evil Empire mania in the 1980s all about? Even after Reagan signed a deal with Gorbachev and visited the Soviet Union and pretty much declared the Cold War over,
many stalwart American conservatives were still insisting that the Soviets posed a grave threat.
In hindsight, it would appear that the whole anti-communist brouhaha of the 1980s was nothing but a cynical ploy by conservatives as a means to play the patriotic card, rather ironic since it was the conservatives who were laying down the foundations of globalist ‘free trade’ inspired by the idea of Milton Friedman — a libertarian Zionist but no conservative patriot — in the 1980s that would come to favor the more creative/innovative/industrious liberal elites who dominated Silicon Valley and other high-tech areas. There is some truth to the charge of conservative opportunism, but there was also an element of sincerity in the Cold Warriors of the Reagan Era, and to understand their mind-set, we have to look back to the 60s. The Counter-Revolution of the 1980s grew out of the radical 60s, a time when America seemed to be going to pot — literally and figuratively — , cities were burning down, and college campuses were turned upside down by protesters. And 1970s saw the fall of Saigon, the communist takeover of Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, & Nicaragua, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and perhaps most alarmingly, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the Middle East, the region on which the West depended for its energy supply. Reagan and many like him — who were alarmed by developments in the 60s and 70s — were sincere in their view that the historical momentum was on the side of International Communism and that drastic measures had to be taken in order to reverse the Red tide. As for anti-war American liberals, they had egg on their faces when the true face of Southeast Asian communism revealed itself with the Vietnamese Boat People tragedy and the Khmer Rouge horrors in Cambodia. But in retrospect, one sure sign that communism didn’t have a future was Deng Xiaoping’s visit to America during the Carter presidency. The world’s most populous communist nation that had been associated with the most radical of communist leaders, Mao Zedong, was about to embark on wide-ranging market reforms and draw even closer to the US against the USSR.

Anyway, there was a sense of being in a time warp during the 1980s. It was a decade that extended and widened the great social and cultural shifts that exploded onto the American scene in the 1960s. Via MTV and rise of suburban malls, youth culture was bigger than ever — though, to be sure, mall culture had a way of containing and compartmentalizing youth habits. Boomers like Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg were effecting huge changes in entertainment and technology. Women were climbing the corporate ladder in record numbers, and feminists were becoming ever more prominent in media circles. Despite the AIDS epidemic brought upon by irresponsible and crazy homosexual behavior, there was increased sympathy for gays, not least because Jews ran the media. R-rated movies that could only be seen in movie theaters entered the living room via Cable and VCR. And porn, which had been restricted to the quasi-red-light districts of big cities, also became part of ‘home entertainment’. After the chaos and uncertainties of the 60s and 70s, Americans welcomed the stability of the 1980s, but how much of this outlook owed to a real cultural turn-around or to the chimera of false-stability perpetrated by the media remains uncertain. Perhaps, the shift in perception had something to do with the changes in media style. The 1970s seemed grimmer and grimier than they actually were because of the prevalence of cinema-verite style in movies and TV. Consider TV shows like COLUMBO and KOJACK that had the visual texture and even the mood of Cassavetes films. They were hardly upbeat. And TV news in the 1970s also went for realism, and not every news anchor was a good looking guy or gal with Barbie/Ken doll make-over. But the shift in perception had already begun in the late 70s with blockbuster feel good movies. And one of the most popular shows in the 1980s was MIAMI VICE where cops were well-dressed yuppie-fantasies. Even Oliver Stone’s WALL STREET, a movie that purported to be an attack on finance capitalism, was slick to the bone. And even a violent apocalyptic sci-fi movie like THE TERMINATOR seemed neater and cleaner than FRENCH CONNECTION and DIRTY HARRY. 80s visual media style was slicker, more polished, brighter, and cartooier.. Compare the textures of THE FRENCH CONNECTION with TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.. The latter tells a more violent and sordid story, but it looks flashier and ‘cooler’ than the grubby film about NY cops. Michael Mann was one of the major fashion designers of 1980s visuals. And compare the MTV style of the 80s with cinema-verite style of late 1960s and early 1970s Rock documentaries. Media play a significant role in influencing public mood and opinions by their choice of words and styles; one of the reasons why FDR kept winning was because, even though the New Deal wasn’t doing much — and in some cases making things worse — , the media created the impression that ‘something was being done’. The recession of the early 1990s was minor, but the media wanted Bush out and Clinton in, and so, Americans were bombarded with the impression that the American economy was the worst since the Great Depression. The economy under Obama has been lackluster, but the media has done everything possible to make Obama seem like a miracle man who magically saved the economy from total destruction. And to be sure, there is a style about Obama that makes people believe he’s in control of things — something that even the diehard supporters of George W. Bush didn’t feel about their guy who couldn’t even string a few words into a intelligible sentence. Obama may be a phony but he’s a ‘real phony’ whereas Bush II was a phony baloney.

Paradoxically, MIRACLE MILE is very much an 80s movie precisely because there’s so much in it that isn’t 80s-ish, i.e. being un-80s-ish was part of 80s-ness. Post-modernism, which had been percolating in corners of the art world, became part of mainstream culture and sensibility in the 80s. It was partly there in RAGING BULL, a very up-to-date boxing film with raw violence and sexuality but shot in the stark b/w style of 1940s/1950s boxing movies. It was there in BLADE RUNNER, a science fiction film that was, at once, futuro and retro, and in TRON, a state-of-the-art computer animation film that harked back to silent cinema in look and design. David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET — surely a major if not main influence on MIRACLE MILE — was a fever-dream-ish blend of 50s and 80s sensibilities. The great revolutions in film art had taken place from the late 50s to the early 70s, and in the 1980s, many directors were less interested in being ‘radical’ or ‘avant-garde’ than in rediscovering, reassessing, revising, refitting, and reconfiguring a vast array of already established signs, styles, and symbols. Also, given that most artists and media folks were liberal/leftist while the political culture of the ‘Reagan 80s’ tended to be ‘conservative’ and the news industry was revamping toward unabashed commercialism, many creative and journalistic people felt a kind of disjuncture from the world around them. In the 60s, artists felt that the cultural and historical momentum was on their side. Even the Nixon yrs didn’t dampen these hopes as most of what was happening on college campuses and on the streets sang to the tune of the ‘revolution’ and ‘liberation’. (One crucial difference between liberals and conservatives is that the former tend to be very noisy about their agendas, tragedies, and triumphs, whereas the latter generally prefer to remain mum. If indeed the 1980s were a triumphant time for conservatives, they should have been demonstrating and celebrating their power as liberals had done in the 60s. But there were no conservative noise-making on college campuses during the Reagan yrs. Perhaps, the difference is that, even as liberalism was triumphant in the 1960s, the very nature of liberalism/leftism is to operate in fighting mode against the ‘silent majority’, whereas the conservative style is just to go along with the ‘silent majority’. Liberals make noise to win the fight and then make more noise in celebration of victory. In contrast, conservatives just hope the noise will die down, and once it does, just enjoy the silence with a sigh of relief instead of filling the air with conservative voices — except on talk radio, a format that has limited appeal as radio, especially A.M. radio, is old technology. Politics abhors not just a vacuum but the silence, and ennobling the idea of the ‘silent majority’ was maybe not so smart for the Right. After all, Archie Bunker won a lot of arguments against Meathead because he never shut up.) But during the 80s, not only was Reagan president for two terms but even the formerly radical boomers seemed to have settled into the corporate world and institutions of the establishment — and the 80s generation seemed more interested in videogames and MTV than in ‘changing the world’ or ‘discovering oneself’. (Perhaps, one could argue that the rise of political correctness was mainly the product of the conflict between corporate boomers and academic/activist/journalistic boomers. The 60s and early 70s were supposed to be a time of revolution, and boomers were supposed to rebel against the Establishment and the Man, not join them. But as boomers grew older, they realized they couldn’t be protesting all the time and shouting a lot of empty slogans. They had to find jobs and settle down; they had to work within the system. As it turned out, boomers who entered the corporate world or started up capitalist enterprises made a hell of a lot more money than boomers who went into academia, journalism and political organizations. So, there was probably an element of envy/resentment among the boomers who worked in the realm of Ideas and Truth in regard to boomers who were raking in big cash on Wall Street, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Pharmaceutical companies, and etc. Corporate boomers had much more money, much cooler cars, much nicer clothes, much bigger homes, much better everything; and even self-professed anti-materialists get green with envy when others have more. So, the only way the academic/journalistic/activist boomers could compete with corporate boomers was by playing the Moral Righteous card; they would act as though they, as people who live with Ideas and Truths, haven’t betrayed the Ideals of the 60s like the materialistic corporate boomers did, and therefore, the ONLY way the corporate boomers could justify and redeem their ill-gotten capitalist loot was by funding the ‘good works’ and lifestyles of the Boomers of Idealism. So, Bill Gates got rich via I-deal-ism but only finally won accolades from the media and academia through his Idealism in accordance with leftist boomer principles.) So, a film like SOMETHING WILD by Jonathan Demme feels strangely out of time. On the one hand, it’s a yuppie nightmare film very much set in the 80s, but the cultural time frames are mixed up. The dark character in the figure of Ray Liotta seems to be a ghost from a bygone era, and there’s the high school reunion thing. There’s a discrepancy between Melanie Griffith’s character as she first appears and as she acts at her mother’s home in a sleepy small town. And it turns out that the happy yuppie(Jeff Daniels) isn’t as he pretends to be. It was also like a 1930s screwball comedy, as was THE SURE THING that was typically ‘cynical’ on the surface like most Horny Teeanger movies but very sweet and even ‘innocent’ underneath. SILVERADO, the dreadful western by Lawrence Kasdan, also lacked any fixed tone or sensibility one could identify with. It was fitting that one of the most iconic film of the 80s was THE TERMINATOR, which toyed with the element of time — Schwarzenegger was like Brando in THE WILD ONE from the future. And ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA had three layers of time — four if we include the 80s, as the ‘now’ of the story takes place in the 1960s.
One reason for the rise of pomo sensibility wasn’t merely due to cultural exhaustion but the fact that many new filmmakers knew nothing but popular culture. If earlier generations of directors had lived and known reality outside of popular entertainment, a whole bunch of new film people in the 1980s just grew up watching TV and movies in the comfort of their living rooms/bedrooms. In Barry Levinson’s movie AVALON, we see the impact of TV in the final scene: why deal with noisy relatives and family issues when you can just stare into the idiot box? Jews used to get together more often, and young folks would mingle with old folks, and stories of the past would be told and retold. But as families scattered across the suburbs, and as each home had its TV or TVs(in every room), young kids got more into their record collections and TV shows — and videogames — than in the cultural and historical sense of roots in real lives and real deaths. (Even so, Jews have maintained a powerful sense of roots and heritage because they read and write more than any other people. Hollywood Jews make dumb TV shows for us goyim, but they make sure their own kids read the books and know their history, especially history as pertaining to Jewish victim-hood and Jewish achievements. Also, Jews are drawn to history because it flatters them. History is dominated by Jews, which means most of history makes Jews out to be good guys and/or noble victims. So, Jews feel morally justified and good about themselves when they read history. But white folks are less and less interested in history because history-as-written-by-Jews reminds whites that they’ve been nothing but a bunch of stinking ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘homophobic’, ‘patriarchal’, ‘genocidal’, ‘xenophobic’, ‘odious’, ‘noxious’, ‘toxic’, ‘rabid’, ‘virulent’, and ‘paranoid’ scumbags, the cancer of history.) The 1980 film MELVIN AND HOWARD(directed by Jonathan Demme) prophesied where the culture was headed. In the film, a ne’er-do-well named Melvin, who is addicted to TV gameshows and the American Fantasy — as opposed to the once real American Dream, the modest hope of having a steady job and owning a home — meets Howard Hughes, the famous eccentric who, from a young age, preferred to live life as a kind of fantasy. Back in the days, one had to be rich like Hughes to indulge in maximum leisure and fantasy. But in a way, every American has become Hughes-like — but minus the daring and vision that made Hughes famous — with the advent of TV and pop culture. Melvin may not have the money of Howard, but he too sure can indulge in fantasies. Every kid grows up as a mini-Hughes, with his or her own ‘private’ world inhabited with all sorts of pop fantasies. Even Negro kids in blighted neighborhoods live the fantasy of being millionaire rap stars simply because they wear expensive blings and wave gold-plated pistols just like their heroes. Before there was TV, kids found fantasy in the movie house but returned to reality at home. But with TV, stereos, and other such gadgets, kids grow up hooked to TV and pop music from cradle to grave: everyone in his own self-made Truman Show. Via mainstream popular culture, kids fashioned themselves into figures of fantasy, even truer now with ‘fan culture’ on the internet. (The diminishment of family life and the fact that many parents are addicted to the same junk encourage the tendency even further.) Consider that FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, a record breaker in the publishing industry, began as a ‘fanfic’ of TWILIGHT, a kind of girly Howard-Hughes-like take on the vampire myth. The strange thing about Howard Hughes — at least based on THE AVIATOR — was that he was, at once, a man both behind of and ahead of his time. He was too reclusive and private to keep up with all the fashions and trends. He was his own Theseus-wandering-in-the-cave. He was like a vampire afraid of light and contact. Yet, he was also a visionary whose obsession was to build things that no one dreamt was even possible. He wanted to reinvent the technology of cinema but spent much of his time staring at old films. He was like an Alice-in-Wonderland version of the Ayn Rand hero.
In the 80s, it was another Hughes — one named John — who altered the landscape of teenage culture. The two breakthrough hits that established him as a cultural force to reckon with were SIXTEEN CANDLES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB. The frankness of some of the emotions and issues, especially pertaining to sexuality, was a clear indication that the 80s were not the 50s, but there was a sweetness and ‘innocence’ that made the movies endearing even to older people. Despite all the anti-adult yammering in THE BREAKFAST CLUB, it was pretty toothless, indeed far less threatening than a dated 50s film like BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. Just as Stanley Kramer always reassured his audiences with old-fashioned sentimentality even when dealing with tough subjects, John Hughes movies were meant to make the audience feel that, in summation, the world was a good place and dreams do indeed come true. Besides, how outlandish can things really get in the affluent white suburbs? (Though FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF was mostly set in the city, it was really a projection of suburban fantasies onto the city than anything related to real city life. It was a commuter-to-city movie than a city-dweller movie. Its smarminess was indicative of the sheltered existence of white suburban kids who seem to think everything was a joke and nothing could hurt them. Working class white kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, and others know what it means to get whupped or kicked in the ass. They know if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong place, it could mean a lot of trouble. But in affluent white suburbs where kids generally don’t pummel one another and act like thugs, a smartass gets to feeling that he can get away with just about anything. A smartass in tough neighborhood is gonna get his ass whupped by a badass. But a smartass in a nice neighborhood thinks the world revolves around his wit and brilliance. And on the occasion that some big lunk barks at him or pushes him a bit for being so annoying, the smartass thinks it’s the biggest injustice anyone could suffer and comes to see the big white lunk as the most evil thing in the universe. This is culturally significant because most liberal elites come from privileged/affluent white communities. For the most part, they suffer no repercussions for being smartasses, especially if Jewish. But on the occasion that some dimwit white lunk pushes back because he just about had enough of the smartass, the smartass comes to identify the Big Angry White Guy with the greatest tyranny in the world — or even if the Big White Guy is rather nice and friendly, the geeky smartass comes to feel envy because girls prefer the Big White Guy over the geek/nerd/gork/schmork. Personal becomes political in this sense. It’s kinda like how elite Jews think the greatest injustice in the world is that their grandparents weren’t admitted into Wasp country clubs. Never mind that Jewish-dominated clubs excluded non-Jews, especially if non-white. Even Michael Jordan wasn’t admitted into a Jewish Golf Club in the 1990s.) Even the ‘working class’ characters in movies like PRETTY IN PINK and SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL are little more than middle class suburban fantasies of working-class-ness. In the Hughes universe, young people are kept infantile and never asked to grow up and face the music. Instead, they are lauded and embraced for complaining about the pettiest things. THE BREAKFAST CLUB was like ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST for young ones, just like STAND BY ME was a kiddie version of DELIVERANCE. If characters in the youth movies of earlier eras were striving for more freedom and independence, most of the young people in John Hughes films seem to be striving for security and warmth. Since young people had already gained sexual and other freedoms in the 60s and 70s, excessive libertine-ism came to define the culture, and what many kids wanted was to be understood and appreciated than let loose to run free. 80s youth were not the troubled kids of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE or SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS — though the whiny side of James Dean and the self-aggrandizement of Wood & Beatty set the tone for future youth movies. It turns out that everyone in THE BREAKFAST CLUB is really just a sensitive kid who needs to be given a pat on the shoulder and be hugged. "Don’t You Forget About Me." The title of SIXTEEN CANDLES alluded to a 1958 song, and the hit song from the movie, "True" by Spandau Ballet, was a very old-fashioned ballad refurbished with ‘New Wave Rock’ touches. It was all very shameless and manipulative but irresistible to the MTV generation.
Hughes had even bigger hits with TRAINS, PLANES, AND AUTOMOBILES — an old songbook of a movie that, one must admit, hits all the right notes — and with HOME ALONE. Both movies reaffirmed the sentimental magic of family and home, doing for white suburbia what Neil Simon did for Jewish NY. No matter how crude or vulgar the humor, it was like a day at the mall during winter break. It didn’t seem to matter that the violence in HOME ALONE was more extreme than in STRAW DOGS — I kid you not — , because John Hughes always passed out the milk and cookies along with the mayhem, like Hyman Roth always made money for his partners. Even so, the level of bawdiness and violence alongside old-fashioned ‘innocence’ made for a strange sense of time-out-of-time-ness. They were like 50s movies made in the 80s or vice versa, an idea PLEASANTVILLE may have toyed with later.
This sense of time-out-of-time-ness also pervaded RISKY BUSINESS, a film that is, at once, both more ‘radical’ and more ‘conservative’ than THE GRADUATE. In Mike Nichols’s film, Benjamin Braddock(Dustin Hoffman) initially plays at being ‘bad’ — bedding down with a married older woman — but embraces true love when he falls for a beautiful young woman(who happens to be the daughter of the ‘older woman’, which makes it both perverse and redemptive). In the name of old-fashioned true love, Benjamin Braddock challenges the ‘order’ to save his damsel from distress. He’s like a counterculture warrior as chivalric knight. He rebels but in the name of ancient virtues. Things are reversed in RISKY BUSINESS where, in the end, Joel(Tom Cruise) cleans up the mess and plays at being the darling son to his parents. But, he’s a convert to naked materialism — not just ‘plastics’ of manufacturing but plastics of hedonistic consumerism — and all that it implies in a culture where wealth-without-restraint is the new norm. In a way, Joel is both villain and hero. He appears to have lost his soul, but he’s also taking a crash course in growing up, in being real, in having initiative, in being honest about what success is really about. And in a way, what he offers to his peers has a certain value. The women need the money, and the pimply-faced fat kids need some action. To be sure, he’s making money to have his father’s car restored after falling into Lake Michigan, but he gets a kick out of his role as suburban teen pimp. In a way, Joel stands for the old American ideal of being ‘real’ as opposed to being ‘academic’ or slavish to ‘theory’. It’s like the business of America is business; he’s a go-getter. While most aspiring kids follow the well-tread path of going to college and getting a degree, Joel discovers within himself a natural knack for business. It’s like we cheer for the heroine in ERIN BROKOVICH — in contrast to the by-the-book female lawyer — because Erin is a natural and doesn’t need ‘book learning’ to know what is what. And we cheer for Rodney Dangerfield in BACK TO SCHOOL because he’s supposed to be ‘real’ while the academics are just a bunch of pompous asses who don’t know how real business in the real world works. (There’s also the ‘anti-lame’ and anti-authoritarian strain of modern democratic culture. Though Rule of Law and Doing-things-by-the-book are fine virtues — usually anyway — , there’s an element of priggishness and uptightness about them that we find off-putting. In school, no one likes the kid who does all the homework, always behaves, and wins the approval of teachers; indeed, even teachers kinda feel uneasy about those kids. In DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, Strelnikov played by Tom Courtney is the most principled character but also the biggest pain in the ass. The character played by Rod Steiger, though despicable, is more likable in some ways because he’s at ease with the flaws of humanity that we all share. In ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, we prefer McMurphy over Ratched though the latter is more responsible and responsive to the students. People who are impeccable about Rule of Law may be fairminded and principled, but they also tend to be more judgmental, and since most of us are far from perfect, we tire of their probing looks and curt remarks. In STALAG 17, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, and KING RAT, we prefer the wily, resourceful, and improvisational American to the stiff and stuffy Brits who insist on doing things by the book. And even as we can understand the measures taken by Anthony Hopkins character in THE BOUNTY, we find ourselves feeling closer to the Brits who ‘go native’ and just wanna have a good time. In THE WILD BUNCH, the least likable characters are actually the German advisors to Mapache. They seem uptight, contemptuous, disdainful. The Mexicans and the Bunch may be dirty and uncouth, but they have something of the ‘human element’. The main character Pike Bishop is torn between the principle of Rule of Law and the pride of being ‘natural’. He loves women, drinking, and having a good time like the other guys. But there’s another side of him that insists on principles and honor among thieves. This side of him makes him the leader and the most essential member of the Bunch as it is he who organizes and manages the group according to a set of rules. But it also makes him the most prickly member as he’s always telling others what to do and criticizing them. Of course, the man of principle also exposes himself to the charge of hypocrisy since even the ‘best’ have their weaknesses, fall prey to temptation, act out of cowardice, and betray rules and friends. In a way, there’s a duality to the American character. On the one hand, it prefers the ‘natural way’, the way of improvisation. More than a few movies about the American Revolution have depicted the colonialists as men of adaptive pragmatism resisting the starchy and uptight British redcoats who march like robots and obey orders in accordance to strict discipline and hierarchy. BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI merely replayed these tropes in the setting of WWII. Andrew Jackson especially popularized this ideal in American politics. Stephen Ambrose’s CITIZEN SOLDIERS would have us believe that American GIs were, in the end, better soldiers than Germans because American soldiers were more naturally creative and adaptive whereas Germans always did everything by the book. There’s also the cowboy myth. In the American Civil War, both sides invoked the colonialists who fought the British. The South claimed it was seceding from the oppressive Union just as colonialists had seceded from the British Empire. But the North partly framed the war in terms of ordinary freemen soldiers of the North fighting the aristocratic social order dominated by the pompous Southern gentry; besides, the South had hoped to form an alliance with the British in the war against the North, which made it all the more ironic for the South to invoke the Revolutionary War. If one part of the American duality props up the myth of the Anglo-American as a ‘natural’ who thinks and lives freely and improvises than sticks to some stiff and priggish Rule Book, the other part of the duality was very much all about the Rule of Law. Founded as a republic/democracy, laws were what secured property rights and legal rights. For all Americans to be equal — at least more so than in Old Europe that was still defined by ‘ancient’ privileges — , Americans had to uphold laws that ensured equal rights. Also, as America was a nation in the making via westward expansion, laws were essential in creating new settlements and politically/economically integrating them to established parts of the nation in the East. Also, despite the freer spirit of Americans, Anglo-Americans and German-Americans were inheritors of Northern European traditions and outlooks and couldn’t simply abandon their habits and values overnight. Also, as waves and waves of immigrants arrived — especially from cultures without much understanding of Rule of Law — , it was imperative for Anglo-Americans to uphold the Rule of Law and school the newcomers as to the absolute necessity of those laws, because without the rule of law, there would no way the diverse groups of people could understand and do business with one another.) But like BLUE VELVET by David Lynch, Paul Brickman’s RISKY BUSINESS feels like a film set in time-out-of-time and place-out-of-place; something just doesn’t seem right as safe suburban boys come in contact with the darker side of life and feel both repulsed and turned on by it; it’s like birth pangs, both the trauma and thrill of breaking out of the womb; it’s no wonder that the Dennis Hopper character puts on the ‘baby-wanna-fuc*-mommy-whore’ act. What both films have in common is the sense of urban/suburban tension and divergence. Even within the same historical period, urban reality and suburban(or small town) reality could be as different as day and night — consider the scene in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE when small-town Bedford Falls takes on the character of a big city in the alternative universe of Pottersville.
The surreal thing about the suburbs is that they have the tranquility of small town life but are adjoined to major urban centers. Thus, the suburb feels, at once, older and younger than the city. Unlike urban reality(which his marked by both growth and decay), suburbs seem to remain much the same decade after decade with the same houses, green lawns, and trees. Some suburbs feel like they’re still stuck in the early 20th century or even the 19th century; they feel old. But the suburbs, in their safety and security, also feel more like the world of children. The city is more vibrant but also more dangerous, corrupt, and weary. Suburbs are places of preservation and continuity. Cities are places of decay and regeneration.

Though the sexual mores of the kids RISKY BUSINESS are up-to-date(as things stood in the early 80s), their neighborhood has the quietude and stability we associate with earlier eras. Thus, Joel seems to be living in a cocoon, rather like the young hero in BLUE VELVET. But Joel’s feverish horniness gets him involved with a hooker, leading to one complication after another, until Joel finds himself fleeing a nasty urban pimp played brilliantly by Joe Pantoliano. The ensuing troubles are daunting and daring, and Joel senses there are many more parallels and connections between the world of business and world of crime, between the selling of products and the selling of flesh, between guarding one’s privilege and protecting one’s power. It’s like a dog brought up on dog food swallowing raw meat for the first time, at once gagging on the blood and feeling wild-and-free(and wanting to howl instead of bark). He enters a world where his killer instinct and scent for blood must be switched on all the time, where he has to hustle, scramble, and prove his mettle than just show that he did his homework. The woman he gets involved with is both a corrupting seductress and a liberating angel. She leads him into a sordid business — and we never know to what extent she uses him — , but she also opens his eyes to what the game really is. She might have done well as a salesman in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. She uses him but also pops his cherry; he humps her but she screws him, and regardless of whether he can trust her or not, he learns that the world is not about trust. And in the final scene — especially the director’s original ending now available on DVD — , Joel is no longer sure if he’s conformist or maverick, suburban or urban, legal or illegal, realistic or delusional, Reaganesque or Warholian. He doesn’t know if he’s a pimp or a whore, a wolf or a dog. He doesn’t know if he wants to go on or stop, with both the girl and the ‘future’.

MIRACLE MILE begins with a pronounced sense of time-out-of-time-ness and continues in this vein in its first act. It’s set in the 80s, but its hero dresses conservatively and is into Big Band music. The story gets underway at a natural history museum(the Page Museum), the artifacts of which seem suspended in time. There’s a vibrant sense of the Now inside the museum, what with kids running around, bright electronic displays, and people making purchases at the gift shop. They are oblivious to the fact that the museum holds fossils of animals that met with horrible deaths long ago. The part of L.A. where Julie Peters — Henry Washello’s love interest — lives looks like a toy town, a giant model set that looks modernistic but feels old-fashioned. It has high rise condo complexes but also trolleys moving about, as if from another time. Julie herself lives with her grandmother. Though a vivacious young woman, her life is intimately intertwined with old folks(and she even knows something about Harry’s favorite Jazz players); she is also very close to her grandfather and saddened that the old couple live separately and haven’t spoken to each other for over a decade out of stupid pride. At home, Harry turns on the TV, and King Vidor’s BIRD OF PARADISE is playing, a 1932 film that, like MIRACLE MILE, mixes romance and comedy with tragic apocalypticism; as a movie where civilized whites mingle with tropical savages, it is also a time-out-of-time-and-place-out-of-place movie. Though MIRACLE MILE is wholly set in a small section of L.A. and most of the story takes place over a single night, there’s an element of culture clash as in Vidor’s movie — white adventurers sharing, dancing, fighting, and/or falling in love with half-naked primitive folks — , what with yuppies, proles, blacks, a Hispanic, and gays crossing each other’s path as tensions heat up.
Some might complain that the main actors are not particularly appealing or compelling as characters, especially as romantic leads, and Soiled Cinema blog certainly felt that way about Mare Winningham. But I think Winningham is perfect for the role precisely because she’s somewhere between appealing and homely instead of knock-out gorgeous; it’s the coming together of hearts than of heartthrobs. (Also, her slightly Neanderthal-ish features complement the motif of prehistoric fossils, as if to suggest Harry Washello met a modern cave woman at the natural museum.) If Julie had been played by a very pretty actress, the element of personal bond between Harry and Julie would have been less special. The story would have been about heroism and beauty writ large than Harry and Julie made intimate and personal; also, there’s an element of surprise in watching Harry and Julie pushed into roles that neither they nor society would have expected them to fill; a nobody boy and a nobody girl fulfill their unlikely destinies as romantic heroes of a tragedy; it’s like there’s an element of myth in all of us. Harry knows Julie’s not the best-looking girl in the world, and she knows he’s not 007. There’s a sweet quality to Julie, and she likes the funny side of Harry that even risks looking foolish to gain her attention at the natural museum. It’s not stud meets babe but boy meets girl. Neither has yet found his/her place in the world with that ‘right person’. (The amusing awkwardness between Harry and Julie in the Page Museum speak volumes about the problems of love in the modern world. Among animals, males just chase down the females for humping after fighting other males. Or females go into heat and demand to be humped by males. Birds sing without inhibition to attract mates. Insects do the same. In traditional society, marriages were generally arranged by parents or elders; or boys and girls had a lot of time to become acquainted with one another as most pre-modern peoples lived their entire lives in small tight-knit communities; thus, the boy or girl you married could be someone you’d known your entire life. Modern society promises more freedom and choice, but this has also made love more frustrating for many. You can’t just act like an animal and demand sex, at least if you’re not a Negro. And you can’t rely on parents or elders to arrange your marriage. And since people, as free individuals, move around a lot and/or live in cities filled with countless strangers, they may never reunite with people they grew up with. And as modern women work and compete with men, men have to offer something more than a home, bacon, and marriage. Also, pop culture has made everyone more vain, narcissistic, and demanding of life, and so, a whole bunch of people might be offended if the ‘wrong’ person approached them and asked them for a date. It’s like the ‘Skepchick’ was put off by some dorky guy who made a pass at her and even went so far as to characterize it as ‘sexual harassment’, when, most likely, what really offended her touchy ego was that some ‘loser’ thought he was good enough for her, the implication being that she, as dating material, isn’t any better. Modern men and women are freer than ever to find love, but the rules of the game have become far thornier as there are many more things to consider in the equation. With the rise of feminism and SWPL political correctness, one’s ideological views are also factored into the love game. Edith Bunker didn’t care what Archie said about Negroes and homos even if she didn’t share his views, but girls today may not even look at a guy who won’t bend over to the gay agenda, and of course, Jews are giddy with joy over the ideologicalization of love since it means a whole bunch of white women — especially those who graduated from elite colleges with high IQs — won’t go with conservative white men.) Something just clicks when Harry sees Julie, and she notices it too. Thus, Winningham’s lack of perfection personalizes her. We don’t see her as THE princess but as Harry’s princess — like the bride in Federico Fellini’s THE WHITE SHEIK comes to love the nondescript groom as her real ‘white sheik’.
Same goes for the woman in Chris Marker’s LA JETEE who is appealing but no beauty. Her attractiveness, instead of serving as glaring beauty that blinds our vision of everything around her, serves as a marred shadow of the man’s wounded and pockmarked psyche; she is the moon to the man’s planet, illuminated in relation to the man’s position between her and the power that fuels his ‘travel through time’; paradoxically, the closer he approaches and hovers over her, the greater the possibility of her being lost in his shadows; thus, we don’t see her as The Beauty but as beauty felt and personalized by the man; instead of stealing attention away from the main character, she lends meaning to his uniqueness. Therefore, the bond between the characters become more personal, more private and special. We know they feel something for one another that goes beyond the generic attraction to good looks. And this is also why VERTIGO becomes even more powerful in its second half. In the first part, Kim Novak looks ravishing, so it’s no surprise that Scotty totally falls for her. Scotty’s obsession doesn’t seem as crazy since a lot of men fall head-over-heels for a beautiful woman. We only learn the true extent of his madness in the second half when he comes upon a none-too-beautiful woman. Kim Novak reappears but looking all tacky and cheap like a gypsy tramp with terrible hairdo and bad makeup. She still looks attractive but not very appetizing, and if Stewart hadn’t noticed something about her, we might not have paid her any attention. Scotty is almost immediately piqued by her presence, and through this aspect of his obsession we begin to realize he didn’t just fall for the Beauty of Madeline but for the Dream of ‘Madeline’, so much so that he can detect her sweet fragrance even through the cheap perfume of Judy. He’s so deeply into ‘Madeline’ that he can see her beauty through Judy’s ‘ugliness’. He can see gold speckles in the rock, feel the pea under the blanket. So, ‘Madeline’, who was beautiful enough to be the ‘dream of any man’ in the first part of the movie, becomes the dream of Scotty and Scotty alone; it’s as if he alone has spiritualized the essence of her beauty so that he can see it and recreate it in another woman. He sees her in ‘someone else’, and he molds the ‘ugly duckling’ into the beautiful swan. He does it physically as well as emotionally, but the emotional aspect of this equation can happen to anyone. So, Harry Washello may have initially sought Julie’s attention because he found her ‘cute’ and likable. But as the story progresses, his affection turns into love, and she goes from a cutey to his princess; she goes from "someone I’d like to spend some time with" to "the ONLY person I want to spend my entire life with". And he becomes her prince charming. We may not see what is so special about either character(in the romantic department), but this is what makes their love special. It’s about what they see through their own eyes and feel in their own hearts.

The movie begins with the words: "I never really saw the big picture before... not until today. Love can sure spin your head around. God, where do you begin?"
The voice-over narration is easy-going and easy-listening, and Harry’s musings sound like dime-store novel cliches about love. But unbeknownst to us and to Harry, his whole being is about to embark on an adventure(perhaps predetermined long ago by cosmic fate) that will really make him see and feel everything in a new light. If not for Julie Peters and the La Brea tar pits, MIRACLE MILE could have been just a mad-dash-for-survival-from-nuclear-holocaust movie. It is the love interest and the element of cosmic fate that complicate and transform the event of one night into a rickety bridge between the infinite and the intimate; as in LA JETEE, the main character seeks meaning/sanctuary in the personal and the cosmic when confronted with the political/tyrannical; political power, often oppressive, has the power to crush us, so people find refuge from politics through personal life(love and family) and science/spirituality(as the God and/or cosmos are everlasting and infinitely greater/grander than even the mightiest of political rulers who, like everyone else, live only briefly and turn to dust); in LA JETEE, the time-traveler is at the mercy of those who wield political power, and he seeks refuge in the ‘private’ image of the woman he loves and is later given sanctuary by wise and godly future-beings who take pity on him; between the choices of eternal life with future god-beings and a brief mortal existence with his ‘lover’, he chooses the latter as the human heart is more apt to find meaning in the intimate than the infinite, i.e. we’d rather live and die with the ones we love than live forever in cosmic emptiness or among future strangers, which is why David’s is finally ‘granted his wish’ in A.I. when he’s allowed to ‘die’ with his ‘mother’; political power has the paradoxical effect of bridging the intimate with its opposite, the infinite, because little people, as victims of big people, pray to or meditate on godly/cosmic powers as the corrective or avenging force to set the world right; it’s like many victims of communism rediscovered God in the prison cells, and it’s why communists worked so hard to destroy religion; it was not only an opiate for the masses but spiritual refuge/sanctuary for the victims of communism; if Jews, Christians, and Muslims got into the habit of PRAYING to God to eventually take revenge on their Evil Oppressors, Hindus preferred to MEDITATE and find peace-of-mind with the cognizance that nothing-of-this-world(not even the greatest empires) lasts forever and time will take care of everything in the end, and this may have been one reason why the British were able to rule India for so long; like Alec-Guinness-as-Hindu in PASSAGE TO INDIA, Indians thought that time will eventually take care of things and that any active attempt to change thing went against the karma of things; it took the British-educated-and-influenced Indians to take a different tact and actively struggle for political independence and modern nation-building.
Harry and Julie also find refuge in the intimate and infinite as the world is about to be blown up by the political powers-that-be, but they have difficulty surrendering to the infinite because they lack faith in God; they don’t see death as promise of eternal life with Lord in Heaven but as eternal materialist imprisonment in the muck of tar pits, and ironically, they pray for a nuke to strike the tar pits to ‘spiritualize’ them into ‘diamonds’; nukes, the very thing they were running from, have become their hoped-for-liberator; it’s as if, even though nukes are the products of man’s political hubris, they’ve taken on a godly character all their own, a power beyond that of man, as if man didn’t so much invent nukes as the cosmos merely used man to invent nukes to bring about the natural cycle of creation and destruction; just as dinosaurs once ruled the earth and had to go, it was maybe fate that mankind too should rule the world for a time and then vanish; it’s a both a shame/tragedy and the natural way of things. Given the happiness and meaning found in love, it’s not uncommon for people to believe that the cosmos came into existence just so they could find that special love, which is why TWILIGHT SAGA ends with the word ‘forever’ as Bella Swan and Edward Cullen gaze into each other’s eyes; it’s as if the universe has fulfilled its primary purpose by finally bringing the lovers together(and as they stand for archetypal fantasies of so many boys and girls, it’s as if their happy ending of ‘forever’ is a wish fulfilment of all their fans as well; this mental process could be a kind of ‘emparasitism’ as opposed to empathy; if empathy is about trying to share in the feelings and thoughts of others, emparasitism is about having others reflect and aggrandize your own feelings, i.e. when TWILIGHT fans watch Bella and Edward, they are not so much sharing in the emotions of other people but relying on other people to embody and fulfill their own fantasies of romance and bliss; a TWILIGHT fan may believe she is feeling for Bella, another person, but Bella is nothing if not the fan’ fantasy mirror of herself); and maybe there’s a certain truth to the notion that the cosmos came into existence for the fulfilment of love since there’s an ‘inner logic’ in all matter/energy to expand itself, replicate itself, or create something ‘higher’ than itself, and love is the means by which humans create more of themselves through sex and reproduction; however, sexualistics has produced its own contradictions because, in a way, romantic love is a cancerous tumor of the sexual drive; after all, real purpose of sex isn’t to serve oneself but to engage in an act that produces more creatures like oneself; sexual drive among animals make them mate and produce offsprings, and the same is true of humans; sexual pleasure functioned as the bait to make creatures mate; it wasn’t meant to be an end in itself; but, as the sexual drive was turned into romantic love, the locus of sexualism went from using sex to serve the species/tribe/community to elevating sexual fantasy into an eternal ideal; so, love went from the gravy of pleasure(that accompanies one’s sexual service to the species) to the central goal of sexualism, and this narcissistic view is one of the attractions of TWILIGHT, as Bella wants to be young forever to enjoy romantic love between herself and Edward; instead of being a single link in the long chain of humanity, they want their link to extend forever and go off on its own tangent.
(In this sense, TWILIGHT SAGA — the movies as I haven’t read the books — is closer to a fairytale than to horror. It’s really about happily-ever-after-in-love-forever, very clean and hygienic. The element of horror serves to cleanse than defile human beauty. Bella is a beautiful girl, but she will grow old and wither. But as vampire, she can shine on forever. There’s the promise of everlasting life in traditional horror but also a steep price to pay, and almost inevitably, it comes to a bad end. The traditional vampires may be immortal, but they must feed on human blood, must stay out of sunlight, and be fearful of sacred objects like the Crucifix; they are also stalked by men with stakes and hammers and in danger of dying ghastly deaths. Vampires in TWILIGHT can overcome the appetite for human blood, shimmer like diamonds in sunlight, socially adapt to changing fashions, and be perfectly moral despite their ‘lack of souls’. Edward Cullen and Bella Swan even run around like Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman. Also even the death of vampires of TWILIGHT tend to be neat and clean without the messy and gory details; their heads come unscrewed like the heads of dolls; they are like robo-vamps or vamproids. The Faustian element is gone, where the price of eternal life is the loss of one’s soul, where to be more-than-human is to be un-human or even anti-human. In TWILIGHT, you can have it all as a vampire, even have a family as Bella gives birth to a half-vamp kid right before she is ‘changed’ into a vampiress. Horror often deals with the spirit world but one that is corrupt and decaying. It’s negative spirituality as opposed to positive spirituality. Positive spirituality accepts the abandonment of the flesh upon death in order to gain everlasting afterlife. Thus, the spirituality of major religions has an element of purity and redemption for their devotees let go of the sinful and transient flesh in order for their purified souls to enter into the God’s embrace. But spirituality in horror tries to have it both ways. The soul hovers in the realm between life and death. Instead of letting go of life and fully accepting the fact of death as a pathway to the afterlife, the soul steps into the spirit realm but clings to the things of the world; it becomes trapped in a kind of limbo. Worldly beauty of the flesh and material pleasures of life are temporary and fleeting whereas the purified soul in the afterlife is forever, but ghosts in horror cannot let go of the material world. Thus, horror often revolves around the paradox of eternalizing flesh and material things, as if such worldly things could be brought into the spiritual world. This is the case in Mizoguchi’s UGETSU where the ghost of a noblewoman conjures up a dream replica of the enchanted world she’d once known and leeches off the souls of lured lovers to sustain the illusion of everlasting beauty and privilege. In JACOB’S LADDER, a dying soldier — played by Tim Robbins — finds himself in the bowels of hell as he clings to life that can no longer be lived; an angelic figure played by Danny Aiello hints that the devils tearing at Robbins’ flesh could morph into angels cradling his soul if only he were to let go of his fleshly life and make peace with death. A similar dilemma haunts the soul of the Nicole Kidman character in THE OTHERS; she and her children are dead, but she tries to cheat death by preserving her memories of life as a perfect doll house in the spirit world. Horror is often about trying to have the cake and eat it too: to enter the spirit realm with one’s material possessions intact. This is why THE MUMMY, though hardly a masterpiece, made perfect horror material. Jews understood that the dead take nothing of this world into the other world; and Jesus said a rich man with all his possessions has less of a chance of entering Heaven than a camel through an eye of a needle; you have enter the spirit world naked, cleansed of riches, flesh, and ego. But Egyptians believed that one could have the cake and eat it too; one could die and be mummified and take one’s worldly possessions into the spirit world, which is why Egyptian tombs hold not only dead bodies but their worldly possessions. Such pagan notions became anathema to Christians and Muslims and thus were relegated to the stuff of witchcraft and horror. According to positive spirituality, you have the temporal life of the flesh and then the eternal life of the spirit, but you cannot have both. Negative spirituality of horror tempts one to imagine having both, and one reason for TWILIGHT’s popularity is the resolution of this dilemma, wherein horror is turned into a fairytale, what with Edward Cullen and Bella Swan having both eternal life and worldly happiness; it’s no wonder that people who hate TWILIGHT really hate it. It violates or at least seriously compromises the central tenet of the negative spirituality of horror, in which souls wanna have it all but tragically discover they can’t. BLADE RUNNER has an element of horror in that the seemingly godlike replicants have only 4 yr life-spans. As Tyrell tells Roy Batty, "a light that shines twice as bright shines only half as long." Batty wants to be both godly and human, but he can’t have both. In a way, Nazism and Communism were cautionary tales of political horror. National Socialism sough to ‘spiritualize’ the ‘Aryans’ into the eternal race in the material world, but physical beauty and soulfulness could not be made one and the same. Communism sought to transform the Proletariat into avenging angels of equality and justice for the creation of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, but men are not born to be angels. The world of horror seeks to preserve the best of the material world in its pristine form in the spiritual world, but the spiritual realm cannot digest material things, and so, decay fills the air in the negative spirituality of horror; material reality causes indigestion in spiritual reality. Try as ghosts and vampires might to preserve their ideal of material perfection or fleshly beauty, a sickly pall hangs over them because the objects of their egos and vanity don’t belong in the spirit world. Thus, the gothic castles of Dracula have a tomb-like quality; we notice the striving for permanence but also the scent of death in the air — like with the mansion of Ms Havisham in GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Of course, not all ghosts are alike. Some linger in the in-between-world of material reality and spiritual reality because of their vanity and narcissism. But other ghosts are condemned as a form of punishment to be trapped forever in that dusk/twilight world. It’s possible that women are generally more drawn to horror — at least certain kind of horror — because of this element of vanity, narcissism, and the anxiety of beauty. Women wanna look beautiful forever but must face the ‘horror’ of aging and decay. Women wanna smell good with perfumes and stuff but must eventually die and rot. Women wanna have kids who look beautiful and angelic but must undergo the gory and gross process of nausea during pregnancy, pain and goo-spewing during child-birth, and baby-shitting-and-pissing-all-the-place-before-being-potty-trained. Women are also central to horror as objects of desire, hate, fascination, fear, and envy. Some of the most famous horror movies revolve around sexuality and motherhood: think of PSYCHO, THE EXORCIST, and THE OMEN. Horror also reflects the troubled duality of sexual feelings among both women and men. Men desire women but also feel frustration and may kill what they can’t have. Women see men as lovers and protectors but also as stalkers, marauders, rapists, and murderers. It’s like Bella the lamb stalks Edward the lion; she desires him but also fears him, but then, the fear is integral to the desire. So, when women watch horror, they feel an instinctive identification with the contradictions and turmoil inherent in sexuality, love, vanity, and narcissism. Women are obsessed about looking beautiful on the outside but must deal with all the gunk on the inside, with monthly periods and gooey stuff during childbirth. Horror touches on the connections between the desire for eternal beauty and the decay of biological processes. Though biology is a science, it’s a wet science about things that are birthed, grow, wither, die, and decay, unlike reality that can be reduced to theoretic billiard balls of chemistry and physics. Also, it is the power of biology that has made women valuable to men. In some ways, the opposite of horror is science fiction, and it’s no wonder that the great majority of science fiction fans are men. Though there are many kinds of science fiction, most of them deal with technology, and even though technology makes life easier for everyone, it also has the means of empowering/liberating men from the biological power of women. Men cannot create life without women, but science fiction promises this possibility through cloning and artificial intelligence; according to STEPFORD WIVES, men might even be able to create ideal robot mates. Women held the power of reproduction from the beginning of time. No man, no matter how rich or powerful, could create life without inseminating his seed into the woman. But science and technology, generally dominated by men, give this power of creation to men in the world of science fiction, and this may be why female characters — especially the mother figure — tend to be secondary in most science fiction stories. BLADE RUNNER begins with someone asking a replicant, "tell me all the things that come to your mind about your mother?" The replicant asks, "my mother?" and then blows away the questioner with a pistol placed near his phallus. What need for mothers when Tyrell and his male colleagues can create beings that are ‘more human than human’?
Later, Rachel shows a photo of her mother and herself as a child to Deckard but then discovers her mother is not her mother and, indeed, Rachel never had a mother. Both her mother and father were Tyrell. Thus, men no longer rely on women to create life. Life can be produced in the laboratories of men. Men and women have been asexualized in THX 1138. Indeed, love-making is a crime since production of life is monopolized by the ultra-rationalist techno-state. In BRAVE NEW WORLD, people of the future break out laughing at the word ‘mother’. Science fiction doesn’t get rid of women, but it’s as if women are no longer crucial to man’s survival and progress. No need for mothers when children can be cloned — as in ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER — or when sentient androids can be mass-produced. No need for courtship and romance when the perfect lover can be custom-built-and-ordered. And you can own a child that never has to fed and works only according to programming. And this is the tragedy of David in A.I. He is a robot but paradoxically programmed with human emotions, which gives him free will and the power to hope/dream but only within the perimeters of his everlasting loyalty to his ‘mother’. He’s free within unfreedom. He searches for his ‘mother’, but his real mother is the male scientist who created him. The woman may be idealized in science fiction — especially as a lover, as in SOLARIS — but not so much as the mother figure, and one of the problems with Andrei Tarkovsky’s film is that the Russian-earth-mother thing seems alien to the basic story/concept. Notice how TRON: LEGACY says nothing about the kid’s mother and is entirely about son-and-father, and the girl he falls in love was ‘born’, Athena-like, from the mind-soul of the father; perhaps the makers of TRON: LEGACY are homos and projected their female-free homo fantasies; indeed, there seems to be a good number of homos in Silicon Valley. Conservatives, who are still into the father-mother-child thing, tend to be less tech-savvy. And in DEMON SEED, the computer takes over the womb of a woman who is reduced to a guinea pig. In INCEPTION, we learn that the woman became so immersed in the freedom and power made possible by dream-technology that she lost interest in motherhood and her real children; why deal with real children with all their problems when you project idealized images of your children in a utopia made possible through technology? Also, the process of ‘inception’ is like inseminating the mind — high tech mind-fuc*ing — , and it is generally done male to male, and there’s no need for females. But even as or especially because technology makes the unreal ever more real, some characters in the scif-fi universe cling to the last vestiges of the real: the main character of INCEPTION tries to find his way back home to the reality of his children created with his late wife, Cruise’s character in MINORITY REPORT knows that no amount of technology can restore his lost son, the mother in A.I. abandons David the robot kid in favor of her own flesh-and-blood kid, and the mother in LOOPER tries to protect her child from a technological world gone very wrong. Because of discrepancies between horror and science fiction, the merging of the two can produce very strange or striking results. THE TERMINATOR is pretty simple as an action movie but rather twisted in its sci-fi-cum-horror concept: of the future, man-made technology has taken over the world and sends a robot abortionist into the past to terminate the mother who is to give birth to the future leader/savior of mankind. Thus, Sarah Connor’s pooter possesses the mother-power to win back for humanity the world that was lost thanks to technology created by man. The ALIEN series is even stranger as sci-fi-horror. It begins with man-made spaceships and technology, but we encounter a gruesome creature that uses humans, men and women alike, as womb-cocoons for the incubation of her offsprings. The first Alien baby we see is ‘birthed’ from a man’s stomach. It’s a strange creature, both primordial and mechanistic in its looks, like a fusion of tyrannosaurus rex and a Panzer tank; it looks like a giant insect, but then, insects look like tiny machines. The running conflict throughout the series is between Alien creature as the space-mother of monsters and Ripley as the star-mother of humanity. ALIEN series and TERMINATOR series are ambiguous in their attitude toward technology. In the first ALIEN, the android is bad, but in the second one, he is good. In the first TERMINATOR, the android is bad, but in the second, he is good. PROMETHEUS is somewhat different because its android seems neither particularly ‘noble’ or ‘evil’.
I suppose FRANKENSTEIN is a fusion of science fiction and horror as well, what with a scientist discovering a way to create life from the dead, thus laying the groundwork for the possible nullification of motherhood. But the strangest crossbreeding of science fiction and horror can be seen in the films of David Cronenberg, who’s less interested in the science of machines and gadgets than in the science of biology, anatomy, and things related to life. RABID, BROOD, VIDEODROME, SCANNERS, THE FLY, and DEAD RINGERS freakishly merge technology with scatology. But strangest by far is eXistenZ where a woman uses a womb-like device with rubbery umbilical cords to connect with other players in a virtual-reality-role-playing-game. It’s like she’s their mother, their twin, their lover, their machine.) The centrality of emotions is such that we’d like to believe that the entire universe is enveloped in truth, meaning, and love, especially as pertaining to each of us. It’s no wonder that religions posit that wise and loving spirits guide — and even created — the universe. Religion emotional-izes the universe by seeing God or gods everywhere for all eternity; generally, pagan gods serve as agents between us and the vastness, whereas the Judeo-Christo-Islamic God is believed to be even bigger and more powerful than the universe, which He created. But science tells us otherwise, according to which the universe is mostly cold, dark, and empty. Planets with life-forms are rare, coming into existence and then going extinct forever without being known by other life-forms in other parts of the universe. And even with planets with life-forms, how many have intelligent life-forms that can ponder the universe? To the best of our knowledge, humanity’s existence has been just a flash on a speck of dust in vast darkness. Even against the mere length of human existence(200,000 to 300,000 yrs), the story of human civilization — what we call ‘history’ as opposed to ‘pre-history’ — has been but a tiny chapter, at most 6,000 yrs(in the oldest civilization). As for the phenomenon of ‘true love’, that is a very late development in human history. For most of human history, marriages were arranged or coercive. People married out of need, obligation, and pressure, not because they fell in love. The ideal of being free — and carefree — and taking one’s time to find one’s true love is a recent social development that originated in the modern West and is still rare in many backward parts of the world.

For part 2 of the Blog Post, click here.

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