Friday, July 29, 2011

Bachmann Rising

Despite the media's best efforts to anoint Romney as the GOP frontrunner, anyone with a TV has long since recognized Michelle Bachmann as the de facto champion of the Republicans' doomed 2012 bid. And not just because she combines the GOP's cherished traditions of Protestant mania and psychotic red-baiting.

She just won't quit. As a political creature, Bachmann is the apotheosis of the modern trend towards a candidate without shame or an off switch. She will spout absolute lunacies, deny it, deny that she denied it, then produce another whammer while the respectable pundits are all still trying to make sense of what happened.

And this isn't campaign suicide, not by a long shot. As the brilliant Matt Taibbi describes it, "When you laugh at Michele Bachmann for going on MSNBC and blurting out that the moon is made of red communist cheese, these people [conservatives, the Tea Party, etc.] don't learn that she is wrong. What they learn is that you're a dick, that they hate you more than ever, and that they're even more determined now to support anyone who promises not to laugh at their own visions and fantasies." Bachmann has tapped that white-hot strain of white resentment, previously the province of Sarah Palin. Her popularity isn't dependent on boring ideological talking points but on how she channels the venom that pumps through the veins of Middle America.

A sad fact that few on either the Left or Right will ever admit is that America is not full of good people. The average American -- the type you'll meet day to day -- is at best a jerk in one way or another. More often than not, they're a jerk in a number of ways. Remember, this is an electorate that polls in high favor of "trimming the fat" from the Federal budget but does not care to give up Medicare or Social Security for themselves. Other, browner people sure -- they talk too funny to count as Real Americans but the stereotype of the enraged Tea Party retiree with a "Don't Tread On Me" sign in one hand and a government check in the other is absolutely true.

And Bachmann speaks to them. Her narcissism and willful ignorance reflects theirs, which their reptilian brains recognize as "One of us!" -- the only important quality to conservative voters. Even if her crusading twit persona is all an act, Bachmann walks the walk enough for these credulous fools. It's worked so well she's been propelled to the top of national politics without having accomplished anything in her life.

And it's why her campaign is doomed. If there is one thing that will rally the disillusioned progressives who campaigned so hard for Obama in 2008, it's the possibility of this shrieking psychopath taking his place. The spiteful Middle Americans, as representative as they are of the culture, as horribly ordinary as they are, cannot muster the electoral strength to seriously contend with every other person in the country. That Tea Party surge last November? A fluke:

An election where the majority of voters don't even show up is hardly reflective of the popular will. Give Bachmann a year to really work the crazy and everyone to the Left of Glenn Beck is going to vote Obama 2012 just out of self-preservation.

But is that really a happy ending? Even running a lost campaign, Bachmann's act is contributing to the polarization of American politics. Already things have devolved into paranoid tribes who only accept the realities espoused by their own echo chambers. The end point to this won't be widespread secession -- despite the rhetoric, none of these suckers are that motivated and the people who make the real decisions don't give a shit about abortions or weed. But all this spite and reflexive outrage, it's going to boil over into something bloody...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Buy My Book!

If you don't buy my book Fiend, then I don't get money.

If I don't get money, I can't feed my cat.

If I can't feed my cat...

Please, think of the kitty and buy my book.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Support the Troops?

You can't throw a molotov without hitting that little yellow ribbon. You know the one I mean, the one planted on the ass of any SUV to decalre the owner unequivocally Supports the Troops!

This is a big deal in the US of A. You aren't a good citizen unless you are ready to drop to your knees at any time of the day to declare your absolute Support of the blessed Troops. If you didn't then Lord only knows what would happen -- why, anything from weapon jams to bin Laden rising from his watery grave to devour all the pretty blonde white girls.

I for one, have done more to Support the Troops than any subjectively free citizen since the Spartan state went under. I've sacrificed my future for starters -- any hope of comfortable retirement, any hope of adequete medical care in old age, all gone for the sake of the Troops. I've even indebted myself to acquire the necessary education certificates to get a job slightly better than retail, so at least I won't have to eat Alpo until they downsize me or just replace me with a younger model. And really, I've given up all hope of First World medical care in my current years because of course you can't have a Single Payer healthcare plan when there are Troops to Support.

That's not even getting into all the other benefits of a modern democracy I've sacrificed just to Support the Troops -- roads, bridges, primary and secondary education, meat inspection (because hamburger tainted with fecal matter tastes like freedom!) and any possibility of justice against that most flagrant of criminal syndicates, Wall Street.

I've done all this and more to Support the Troops! Though I'm not sure why 'cause they've done fuck-all for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Productivity Myth

Odds are you're reading this at work. Don't feel bad -- I'm writing this at work. And after, I intend to read some webcomics before leaving early. I'll still get paid for all eight hours of course, even if I didn't actually work eight hours. Even if I didn't actually work. Ever.

That's one of many elephants in the room every time people try discussing jobs, the economy and whatever -- if you have one of those average, white-collar jobs, you're work day consists of dicking around on Facebook. If you don't, if you're service industry, retail, more manual labor, then your work day consists of peak days -- dependent on customers, an increasing rarity in a depression -- and off hours. Lots of off hours.

See, I've done all of the above and one thing I've determined is all the talk about productivity -- in any work place -- is just talk. It's really six or seven hours of trying to look busy and occasionally an hour of actually doing something. I know it, you know it, we all know it, but we never talk about it.

If we talked about it, we might start to ask questions -- "Well, if I'm doing nothing here, why shouldn't I get to do nothing at home where pants are optional?" Why indeed. I've telecommuted too and I know it's just as unproductive as sitting in an office, only the boss can't see you playing video games. Taken to it's logical extreme, we might just end up in some sedentary socialist utopia, never having to leave our couches unless it's to buy food, interact with others, or just to get out and walk around -- something we'd never be allowed to do at the office as it would interfere with "work."

So why don't we? Tradition. Conditioning. Great cultural myths about "productivity" when nothing is actually produced anymore, except in China. And we have to beat them Chinese don't you know, have to work longer hours for less wages so we can top them in... something.

And then of course there's the issue that if we admit we do nothing at our jobs, we really admit we do nothing with our lives. At least for Americans, our jobs are our lives now with sixty hour weeks the norm and social interactions more and more relegated to the internet. To admit we do nothing with our lives, just let the minutes tick by while looking at lolcats, is one of those things that's just too horrifying to contemplate. Best to just look busy. You might even fool yourself...

FOC the RATs!

Sign up if you're a real American!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Tibetan Book of Boobies

I spent Independence Day like a true American -- enjoying French culture. Cause if it weren't for the French, your freedom fries would still be "chips" and the Tea Party would have a legitimate beef about their taxes going to the overblown wedding of two dandies who by accident of birth are very important and stuff.

Anyway, rather than blowing my eardrums with fireworks, I was blowing my mind with Gasper Noe's 2009 film Enter the Void -- a deeply nuanced and spiritual look at life, the universe, and everything by way of getting high as balls in Tokyo and screwing your sister. This is par for the course for Noe, whose previous big hit Irreversible is mostly known for being the movie where Monica Belucci gets raped in the ass. That's not hyperbole or my normal rhetorical flourish, Monica Belucci spends about ten minutes or so crying while some guy jams his euro-pol up her rectum. It's all part of this brave new trend in indie films of unsimulated sex acts for "realism" and "more dollaz."

Enter the Void has gotten alot of press about it's revolutionary cinematography, at least enough to coat the DVD box with gushing blurbs. The film begins entirely in firs person from Oscar -- a noodley white kid selling X to strippers -- and technically continues from said perspective after he gets shot by the cops and bleeds out in one of those ridiculous Japanese floor urinals. It's a swirling, hallucinatory trip through the neon-blasted Tokyo night and then into Oscar's memories, working back and forth in time but in such a way that the disparate scenes actually compose a coherent and rather linear plot. And really, it is all damn fun to look at.

Prior to his death, Oscar and a friend had been discussing the Tibetan Book of the Dead and how souls don't get to leave this world for something higher but are, as Oscar puts it, "stuck here for all eternity." He's a bit put out by the prospect and soon you see why. All the guy really has going in life is getting high and the... ambiguous relationship with his sister Linda. This stems from losing their parents in a car accident -- replicated in graphic detail -- at a young age which has made the siblings, uh, close. It doesn't look like anything happens, or happened when Oscar was alive but the few scenes of his disembodied spirit hovering above and then in two separate men while they're plowing Linda... well, draw your own conclusions.

Because, as I imply in the title, the only thing that crops up more in Oscar's memories than getting high is topless women. His mother when he was a baby, his sister, his fidgety friend's mom -- whom he hooks up with, inspiring said fidget to set up the sting where Oscar gets capped by Tokyo's finest -- all the way to the very end, or beginning, when a newborn Oscar arrives fresh into the world and his blurry baby eyes can focus on one thing...

The movie falters in a few places. First, either it was miced poorly or Noe intended the discrepancy in sound and therefore should whack himself in the ear with a ballpeen hammer. I had to constantly lower then raise the volume due to some sudden crash of action followed by strung out white people in Tokyo muttering important plot points under their breath. And for all the fun of the weird framing, you really lose a connection to the characters when the camera isn't getting up into their faces. The physical distance of the shot translates into an emotional distance for the audience. Why should we care about these people if we can't even get a clear look into their eyes?

And I admit this is a personal gripe, but I get annoyed by movies that seem to be trading in urban seediness purely for the shock value among their safe, clean audience. This movie boils down to a drug dealer and his stripper sister, all glamorous sin for the stiff yuppies who make up the bulk of the indie film market. It even felt like Noe wasn't trying at times -- I swear it took at least an hour until someone mentioned any specific drug. Until then, it was just drugs, drugs, eeevul drugs! How sexy!

But that's just excessive, cheap icing on a pretty decent cake. Life as a cycle is the more serious theme at work here, along with a sort of eternal recurrence. It doesn't specify if that's infinite reincarnation or infinite reliving of one's own life without variation -- toke, ogle sister, toke, bleed out in toilet, repeat. But that's not what movies like this are really concerned about. This is an exercise in mood and dream imagery and it does a bang up job.

Let's Just Execute Casey Anthony -- Live on Every Channel

Because maybe then all you sick screwheads will be done with this bullshit. What's the matter? You still sore OJ got away with it? You need your stagnanted sense of medieval justice validated by some fish-faced chick's scalp? Never mind the blatant crimes of the bailout age, biosphere collapse, or that 846 people died for their freedom in Egypt this year -- clearly the most pressing issue facing the world is the trial of some inconsequential goober!

Y'know, maybe you assholes never deserved democracy in the first place...