The Worst Afakens

The Worst Afakens

Months behind the curve here but I finally watched The Force Awakens–rented not bought from iTunes–on the laptop, while eating fish and chips at my desk. What do you call this? It’s like Star Wars has become an archetype. Now a direct copy––it’s not even a remix––is acceptable. An instance. For a piece of mass (hysteria) media to be so derivative shrinks the collective psyche. In order to subscribe to liking it (a separate thing from actually liking it or not) you have to forget.

Of course, the new copy is aimed at people much younger than me, who would not put up with the archaic SFX of the original. Perhaps it’s just a Generation X thing––jilted overgrowns watching kids movies and feeling left out that the makers haven’t kept them in the loop. Maybe the believe-yourself stuff pumped through Hunger Games etc is as good as any esoteric codex. Maybe kids grow up pumped with the star-seeded hero’s journey narratives of today only to end up aspiring to golf and corporate mafiadom anyway. Everything and nothing changes.

Now the Deathstar is ten times bigger and sucks energy from the sun and we must pretend for the sake of getting our money’s worth that Mark Hamill simply doesn’t and didn’t have the right face for the King of the Jedi. We may as well have had Michael J Fox. We miss Alec Guinness. After LOST I wanted more from Abrams. Only edgy thing he has done here is set the bar even lower for pressing out simulacra. Harrison Ford’s action movements are getting ludicrously ponderous, but maybe he and Chewie kind of rescue things on the nostalgia front. Maybe it’s sort of edgily cool that JJ casts English and Scots people in the Reich-like staff of the Deathstar, until you remember that the original had Peter Cushing. End of day that’s it for Star Wars, as Prometheus was death knell for Alien, as it will be for Matrix and Avatar if the rumoured prequels or sequels ever come out. I probably would collect an Agent Smith plastic figure out a cereal packet.

Which all goes to show that, everything–even (or perhaps especially) allegory about the entrapment of human consciousness–is eventually assimilated into the default post-modern, ‘scientific’, atheistic banality we are continually persuaded is “the truth”.

It’s a war of attrition, if nothing else. A relentless canoning of images at the re-uptake sites in the brain. Which is pretty much the mechanism of Evil itself–iteratively reinforcing the correctness of the ego, which will buy let’s face it pretty much anything. There is then a connection between the machine and the ego and evil.

Machines essentially repeat. Which is something different from natural production–the propagation of plants and animals etc. There is something mechanical about repeating the post-modern consensus that what there is (often delineated by rapping on the solidity of the wall or tabletop) is all there is and that is the way it always was and ever will be. You won’t hear Richard & Judy or Eddie Muir, say, say it in as many words. It is the point of view implicit in what they are saying and not saying. For the most part it is an unexamined point of view–often held by people who do not even know they are holding a point of view. The worse case is when the point of view is known to be a point of view, but is maintained for other, usually selfish, reasons. Worse still is where the point of view is known to be false and is maintained for selfish reasons.

In the Force Awakens we have a very crude awakening. The African-American child-being Fin is awakened by his conscience when he witnesses the ethnic cleansing of a village. Within a few beats he is helping the rebel pilot escape the Death star. And from there, like everyone else, he follows a character arc computed by an app or a widget in Microsoft Word. He might wield the light sabre for a moment, but Fin is basically Driving Ms Daisy. It would have been edgier to have made cast a Syrian or Afghan or Kurd.

But forget edgy. Of course the New Star Wars Movie was never going to be edgy! But ff that’s our point of view we need to urgently examine it! Is there not resignation in this acceptance that the New Star Wars Movie is pure simulacrum, fodder, mechanised distraction, laced with blue pill not red. Is it acceptable for a movie titled The Force Awakens? Is it alright that the movie encapsulates whatever might have been alluded to by “the force awakens” in the algorithms of Normal, in the mechanics of Evil? Is there anything new about the new Jedi in the movie other than that she is female? What force awakens in her and what does it do for her or anyone else? Maybe in the kamikaze X-wing pilots penetrating like sperm to the Deathstar egg we can read spirit’s impregnation of the void. Is Abrams channeling something in having the Deathstar suck energy from the sun or simply repeating what has already become an archetypal instance, a subroutine, a preset in the machine of plot-with-esoteric-reference?

Or to sum the whole thing up: is it okay to watch something called “The Force Awakens” and then go play golf*?

 

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* I often use golf as a convenient epithet for all that is Evil.

 

 

 

 

Urbs Not War

Urbs Not War

Just-about Reanimated Stallone as Bread Mafia Boss in Warburton’s Ad

Arriving in (class) war-torn Bethnal Green yesterday afternoon, possibly the warmest on record for April, I was struck in the face by a billboard ad featuring a just-about reanimated Sylvester Stallone and a host of other hand-gun-toting ghouls standing in a Blackwater-style phalanx beneath heavy metal typography. The product? War(burtons) bread.

Global Machine Culture.Wheat

The latest outdoor media instalment from Campaign award-winning agency WRCS would appear to be pitched at ornery inner city folks raised on that peculiar subterranean-yet-mainstream diet of violence–now worked into the degenerate and desecrated grain formerly known as wheat. A bastardisation concocted by Global Machine Culture [GMC], wheat has become the edible monoculture version of Agent Smith, viral shadow of the Matrix.

Whether the “grain” used in Warburton’s “bread” is GM or not is pretty much irrelevant. Fracking, corporate tax evasion, Blairism–take your pick from a plethora of parallels–you can bet your bottom dollar that chemical corners have been cut. GMC is certainly betting its bottom dollar on it. Am I saying Warburtons “bread”–let’s call it “edible product” is harmful to your health? Let’s not go there. GMC already has the “scientific” answers ready to roll on surface-to-media missiles that crop-dust public discussion with enumerated bullshit. Is GMC harmful to the environment? If you can answer no to that, I’d love to see your arguments in the comments box below.

But this is not so much a “green” as a “green psychology” article–if you like, a “deep eco” more than an “eco” piece.

Ecology: The branch of science concerned with the relationships between organisms and their environments.
Oxford Dictionary

Sure, it’s tongue-in-cheek, concocted by “clever”, middle class executives and “creatives” in the rather sexier environs of 60 Great Portland Street, leveraging the already tongue-in-cheek Stallone movie “The Expendables”. But what is the relationship between the residents of Bethnal Green and the award-winning Warburtons “Family” campaign? Or the Britain’s Got Talent-watching, edible-product-toasting masses who lap up the TV commercial in the ad breaks? Does thegame for a laugh messaging not rest on cultural channels of violence? Is “family” not tongue-twisted to mean “mafia”, i.e. glamourised gang culture? Is it only coincidence that WRCS’s other clients include the Army, Navy, Airforce, Artemis (The Profit Hunters) and–on balance–that benign old giant, HMRC?

Respect the Bread Warburtons ad by BBH

Perhaps it’s unfair to piss on WRCS’s award dinner chips. They’re not alone in this war business. How about BBH’s ad on the right?

Of course, it’s all tongue-in-cheek, game for a laugh, simply a reflection of modern, urban society. But whose tongue is in whose cheek? WRCS’s in Stallone’s? The clever folks at WRCS might say I’m patronising the working class, who understand the joke just fine.

Maybe we can go further then, with rape, racism, ISIS beheadings and Israeli F16s worked up in a tongue-in-cheek commercial for underarm spray, say.

Met Police Serious Crime Figures for Tower Hamlets

Met Police Serious Crime Figures for Tower Hamlets

According to the Metropolitan Police, Violence Against the Person in Tower Hamlets has risen 21% in the last 12 months, keeping up with the London-wide trend of nearly 30%.

Grab a free rag off the floor of the tube if you want examples. To be fair, the same rags print articles (juxtapose ads for Warburtons and other edible product) about 10-year old boys frazzled on hardcore porn, teenage girls bullied into anal sex, bartered between local mafias like objects in Grand Theft Auto. (What is this reporting really? Assimilation? Social lip service?)

In this light is there really any defence for depictions of violence, no matter how clever or tongue-in-cheek, in the billboard overhanging your local station, high street, park or playground? Are inner city children really that urbane and ironic? Do we want them to be?

What’s your response? Maybe like the protagonist of Charlie Booker’s Black Mirror: 15 Million Credits, the bit where he stands in front of the Cowell-esque panel and sums up his blistering polemic with the words: FUCK YOU!

It’s tempting to leave it there, to openly encourage that these billboards be defaced, torn down, burnt. I’m supposed to play the game, push my tongue into some clever, Great Portland Street cheek, let it all wash over me. Take the cash and shut the fuck up. For many years I tried to do just that. But I couldn’t, not really.

Increasingly, I don’t think you can either. Not really.