Thursday, February 29, 2024

I'm assuming this isn't satire:
But if you’re watching with empathy, you’ll mourn the children about to die under Rico’s command. You’ll notice the flat intonations and empty stare of Neil Patrick Harris’ Jenkins, signifying the loss of his humanity. You’ll feel for the fearful bug, despite its ugly features. Watching with empathy, with a mind toward the evils of suffering, is the only thing that offsets the potential fascist tendencies of cinematic spectacle.
As satire, of course, the film of Starship Troopers is a delicious failure. It has no "truth" that it can "speak to power", and its attitude to its source material is flippant and dismissive. 

As it happens, Heinlein wasn't a fascist, and he didn't write fascist books. But even if he had, some sort of analysis and take down of (for example) nationalism and/or syndicalism and/or Hegelian idealism might have been in order, rather that merely a smugly derisory depiction of "militarism". 

And so the assumption of the film's director that anyone who isn't a libertarian socialist must be irrelevant and contemptible speaks very poorly for him as a human being.

And it's genuinely amusing that despite his best (or worst) intentions he turned out a genuinely entertaining and enjoyable movie.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Oh dear!

If they didn't put this up as a joke, one can only assume the comments weren't quite what they were hoping for.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Starting again (again, again!)

My problems with "Big Tech" are of course inconsequentially marginal compared with those of current American politics. (See Niall Ferguson in The Spectator for a reasonably balanced albeit somewhat narcissistic overview of the issues.) They're also on quite a different level.

Suffice it to say though that Tumblr did decide that despite my ongoing efforts to avoid posting anything pornographic my "instant blogging" version of The Man on the Grassy Knoll was getting a bit too cheeky. (For anyone who's curious, the sorts of things that got flagged when I tried to post them are here, here, here, and here - though arguably this one was fair enough.*) So I've taken the decision (as of a couple of days after Easter) to start over with a "clean" clean slate.

(Bear in mind of course that even at their worst Google are still nowhere near so jumpy as Tumblr, so maybe watch this space...)

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Daddy Issues

The good news is that the two big streaming services' flagship shows both seem to have weathered their recent brushes with the Great Awokening. Stranger Things remains the gold standard for online drama, and the Drinker for one sums up its bounce-back from a tonally uneven Season 4 reasonably well. It still has too many characters and it's become less and less imaginative as it's gone along. But what there is is now pretty good, and it's as watchable as ever. And The Boys too has turned a corner, has ditched the anti-"Far-Right" nonsense of Season 2, and is once again at its most enjoyably fucked-up. And for what it's worth even The Umbrella Academy, albeit very much in third place, finally feels as if its sailing on an even keel.

Interestingly enough all three series have taken as their theme for the year the relationships between their protagonists and their father figures. Brenner in Stranger Things and Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy have both been resurrected and, to a certain extent, rehabilitated as "interesting", morally complex characters in their own right, and in The Boys the relationship between Homelander, his own son, and (spoiler alert!) his newly discovered biological father, has become the dramatic crux of the series. (One can predict that the struggle for the soul of the kid will be foundation for the plot of Season 4.)*

Let's face it, MBB was the standout find of ST. So having Papa take a moral stand against Eleven is surely a career-defining performance for Matthew Modine. Alas though that Eleven's abandoning her "Papa" after he tried to save her life feels like a simple, straightforward dramatic and moral failure! One can only presume there'll be an eventual reckoning between them in the show's fifth and final season.

More regrettably, what has bogged down all three series though has indeed been each's extraordinarily tedious "messy bitches" subplot. Winona Ryder is largely wasted in ST, as is Starlight in The Boys. But the standout collapse of a character into a racist sexist stereotype is Allison in UA. Whatever one may say of their treatment of straight white old guys, Hollywood's treatment of women of colour (or is it Silicon Valley?) still has a long way to go.

*Obviously though, this shift in interest hasn't pleased everyone... 

Notes on The Umbrella Academy 'Season 3'


  • The Sparrows are like the Umbrella Academy only more diverse, more boring, and more obnoxious? So much for likeability and shades of grey! (And imagine if the black boy had also been called Luther. Ah well!)
  • We don't get the title until 20 minutes into the first episode. Starting to feel Pythonesque! (Deliberately?) How stupid exactly is the Rumour supposed to be? (Black chicks never watched Back to the Future? Are girls generally too up themselves to notice when things have changed? I'm not saying this is grossly racist and sexist*, but...)
  • Doesn't the gay one like men's underpants? Why does he freak out just because they belong to a man that he has lived with all his life?
  • Crimefighters who have their faces on billboards can get away with shoplifting? Are we going to find out how that works?
  • Hmmm! Violent Amish? Didn't you guys see Witness? (C'mon! It got a shoutout in the first Stranger Things.)
  • And Luther gets off with a girl. I mean, I'm pretty puritanical about such things. But for the first time in the entire series one sort of feels good for the guy. He's big, he's dumb, and now that that's finally "priced in" he's starting to feel like a proper character in his own right - rather than just the token white jock dude. (In Episode 5 Luther even gets to be sassy, which is a nice change-up for the character.)
  • It's actually a recurrent problem that the female characters stand about worrying about their feelings when there are mysteries and universe-threatening problems to be solved. (And oddly enough it's Ben who comes up trumps when he's the first person actually to put the appalling "messy bitches" officially in their place.)
  • Black females, on the other hand, are of course allowed to murder people now. That's a thing. Apparently! (And tranny "boys" are allowed to hit them? Whatever!)
  • On the plus side, the relationship between Klaus and Hargreeves is absolutely boss. And we've moved on from Doctor Who to Torchwood - except that Captain Jack's reanimation powers were never played for laughs.† (When obviously, if you think about it, they should have been.)
  • When the actress who plays the mom-bot with one eye blinks she blinks completely naturally but with just one eye. That's good acting. And it's good sci-fi. Every now and again one comes across artists who are masters of their craft, and in genre this is what it takes.
*And Ellen Page is still playing a female - for some reason. (But then of course she gets a haircut and changes her name to 'Victor'. Because apparently that's all it takes.)
†Or maybe they were. After all, most of Torchwood was unwatchable, brainless filth - which I didn't watch.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Craig Hunter

Photographed (apparently) by Simon Barnes

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

'What next for Ukraine's captured soldiers' says the BBC. (Was that supposed to be a question?)

Well, I for one cannot believe the "neo-Nazis" of the Azov Battalion are going to be treated very much better than the Russian soldiers who've been captured by the Ukrainians.

But at least the Ukrainians are upholding the Geneva Convention. Right?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Why is grooming OK if you're gay?

Why are gays allowed to get away with grooming?

If this pervert had been straight the police would have woken up to what he was trying to do, gone round to his place, kicked his front door in, ransacked his home, and confiscated all of his hard drives "as evidence"*. (They then wouldn't have looked at them for at least six months, but that's not the point. Let's face it, just the opportunity, every now and again, to rough up a suspected nonce is the reason most coppers sign on. After all, it's easier than trying to catch burglars and murderers.)

One possibility of course is that under the sacred rainbow umbrella it's still the case that pretty much anything goes. It's a politically and culturally sensitive area, and so unless you're a Tory/Muslim/MP/all of the above, they're likely to give you a wide berth. No cop with brains and ambition wants to be accused of "homophobia" in 2022, and any super with brains knows it.

I suspect the "deeper" answer though is that "it's different for men" - which of course means it's different for boys. Men, so the implication goes, cannot be victims of sexual assault in the same way that women can. Touch a woman's knee on the Underground and you're done for. Touch a man's and no one will bat an eyelid: commuters in 2022 don't like being called "homophobes" any more than the rozzers do and, more to the point, men are supposed to be able to look after themselves. (Even more to the point, we're talking Marxist power dynamics here: white people can't be victims of racism†, men can't be victims of sex crimes††.)

Quite simply, it's the old Victorian double standard alive and well. Pace L P Hartley, the past is not a foreign country. As far as sex crimes are concerned it's still very much with us.

And it's coming to your little boy's Catholic school any moment now.

UPDATE: He's also an anti-Catholic bigot. Quelle suprise!
(And a sicko! Meh!)

*And in all probability they'd have found it too. There's rarely any smoke without fire.
†Tell that to the Poles during WWII - but bearing in mind that as far as Whoopi is concerned even "the Holocaust" wasn't "racist". (It wasn't about "her people", so it wasn't really a thing.)
††Most rapes take place in men's prisons: most rape charities are run by women. Don't ask me how that makes sense.

All Right on the Knight

Seen it all before? Maybe! Light then dark then light - like the Bonds? I suppose so. But you didn't realise that angry Batfleck (of the Snyderverse, no less) was the light version until what came afterwards. (Ditto Brosnan! Everyone thought he was a "serious" Bond until Craig came along.)

Batman as Zorro? Bit odd! Thomas Wayne as villain? Ditto! But at least there's a sense here that Hollywood is now coming down from its (anti-Trump) woke high of a couple of years ago. (How exactly you make feminist fantasies like Aliens and T2 even more woke-feminist was never clear - and it wasn't a good idea.)

Gordon's been race-swapped, which makes him feel at worst like the black Felix Leiter from the Craig Bond films and in practice no worse than Danny Glover in the Lethals. And so the handsome rich English public school boy World's Greatest Detective gets to whitesplain batsplain things to the poor black gumshoe. If this is woke, I suspect they didn't think it through. 

And Catwoman is now black too, again! But then no one minded Eartha Kitt back in the '60s, and this one more than exorcises the memory of Halle Berry. (And obviously one minded Harvey Dent being black in the Tim Burton Batman, but then that was probably because he was played by Billy Dee Williams - proof that back in those days race-swapping could actually make you cooler.)

All-in-all, it's good to see the Caped Crusader back on form. Most of the boxes get ticked, the grunge-emo look works well (and the sound!), and the moral complexity of Joker has survived into a "mainstream" series. Yes, there are disappointments. (No Justice League! No Wayne Manor! No Robin - duh! And de facto no Alfred either!) And the chances are that after all the Schubert and the Fauré (not to mention Vengeance's own "Fasolt and Fafner"-type leitmotif), as well as the beautiful night-time visuals, you'll be nodding during the last half-hour (when - spoilers! - Bats singularly fails to stop the villain's dastardly plan to flood Gotham City and turn it into a literal crime-infested swamp).

But it could have been sooooo much worse.