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David Lynch’s first movie Eraserhead (1977) combines surrealism, low-budget horror, and black comedy. It rapidly became a staple of the midnight movie circuit and provided endless fodder for coffee-house intellectuals and academic film theorists.

Eraserhead is quite simply a gnostic anti-sex film. The film is premised on a gnostic dualism, which holds that the material world—including sex and childbearing—is fundamentally evil, a prison in which the spirit suffers. The solution to suffering is to free ourselves from the trammels of matter, including sexual desire.

Eraserhead was filmed intermittently, on a shoestring budget, over a period of five years (1972–1977). Although the meaning of the film is self-contained, it is illuminated by some details in Lynch’s biography.

For instance, beginning in 1973, Lynch began his lifetime engagement with Hinduism and Transcendental Meditation. He has reportedly described Eraserhead as his most “spiritual” work.

From 1966 to 1970, while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, Lynch lived in a hellish urban environment like the one seen in Eraserhead.

In 1968, Lynch’s first child, Jennifer, was born while he was still in art school. The pregnancy was unplanned, and Jennifer was born with severely clubbed feat, which required extensive corrective surgeries.

In 1974, Lynch’s marriage broke up, due in part to his infidelity.

Eraserhead opens with a planet in space. Then the sideways face of the main character, Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), floats up from the bottom of the screen in front of the planet (which can be seen through him) and drifts out of the frame. A throbbing sound grows louder and louder as we zoom in on the rough surface of the planet. Then we follow a trench until the screen is utterly dark. Next we see a metal-roofed shack on the surface with a huge hole in its roof. We enter the hole. Inside, we see a man with horribly disfigured skin seated in front of levers. In the background is a cracked and broken window.

We then cut to Henry’s face. His mouth opens, and what looks like a hypertrophied sperm cell comes out. Then the Man in the Planet pulls a lever, and the sperm whooshes out of the frame. Another lever seems to start a huge machine. The camera moves to a pool of water. Then a third lever sends the sperm splashing into the pool. Then we see bubbles and darkness. After that, we move toward a white circle of light, which seems to be glimpsed through a hole in gauze, fringed with hairs or threads. At which point the prologue ends.

The meaning of the prologue becomes clear when we learn a bit later that Henry has fathered a baby with his estranged girlfriend Mary—or at least a hideously deformed something that they think is a baby. Henry’s head and mouth of course are stand-ins for his penis, from which sperm cells actually emerge. The pool of water into which the sperm falls is Mary’s womb. And the movement from darkness to light is the birth of the baby.

The fact that this process is under the control of the so-called Man in the Planet gives it all a sinister cast. Sex and reproduction are material (the planet is a great hunk of matter, pulled into a spherical shape by the force of gravity), mechanical (produced by a huge machine), and directed by the malevolent will of the Man in the Planet, whose deformities emphasize his materiality and who is a kind of Gnostic Demiurge figure, imprisoning the spirit in matter.

After the prologue, we see Henry’s face, looking back over his shoulder anxiously, as if he is being stalked. He is dressed in a suit with a pocket protector. His hair is teased up in a huge bouffant. He carries a brown paper bag through an industrial hellhole back to his tiny apartment. Before he enters, a beautiful brunette emerges from the apartment across the hall. The brunette is a temptress figure, who in this scene calls to mind Franz von Stuck’s Sin. The brunette tells Henry that someone named Mary called to invite him to dinner at her parents’ house. After an awkward silence, he thanks the woman and goes inside.

The next scene, dinner at Mary’s house, is the dark comic high point of the film. The scene begins with Mary’s worried face peering out of the window of her house, which is set in an industrial hellscape with a front yard filled with dead flowers. Like Henry’s apartment, the interior is drab and depressing. There are grass clippings here, too.

Henry’s meeting with Mary’s parents is filled with excruciatingly awkward silences, during which we hear constant mechanical rumbling and hissing, as well as the loud sucking sounds of a litter of nursing puppies. Both Mary and her mother have spastic episodes. Mary’s father Bill has a loud voice, a benumbed arm, and a demented grin frozen on his face. The less said about the chicken, the better.

Then an electrical socket begins sparking and a lamp glows brightly, then burns out, which in Lynch’s cinematic language signifies the presence of the supernatural. The mother then confronts Henry with a very awkward question: “Did you and Mary have sexual intercourse?” The question is followed by some intensely awkward nuzzling from the mother.

The reason she asks is that Mary has had some sort of . . . baby. Mary questions whether it is a baby at all, but the mother insists that it is a baby, a bit premature perhaps, but a baby. She also insists that Henry and Mary get married and raise the child. Henry takes the news by getting a nosebleed. All told, dinner could have gone better.

The next scene takes place a short time later. Henry and Mary are apparently married and living together with the “baby” in Henry’s little room. The “baby” is a grotesque creature. It looks more like a fetal puppy than a human being. Basically, it is a hypertrophied sperm cell with eyes and a mouth. Its body is hidden in bandages. Apparently it has no arms or legs. Mary is becoming increasingly frustrated feeding the “baby,” which writhes, fusses, and spits out its food.

Henry goes to the lobby to check the mail. He finds a tiny package in his mailbox. Furtively, he ducks out to the street to open it, finding a tiny worm inside. He returns, a hopeful smile forming on his face, and lies down on his bed to soak up this scene of domestic bliss, staring into the hissing radiator. When Henry looks into the radiator, a light shines from inside it and an empty stage appears. Henry is pulled back from his reverie by the baby crying. When Mary asks if there is any mail, Henry lies and says no.

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies 
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Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men(2006) is loosely based on P. D. James’ 1992 novel of the same name. Cuarón is solidly Leftist, but Children of Men seems more and more like a Right-wing vision of dystopia with each passing year. (Cuarón’s 2001 film Y Tu Mamá También, is basically Marxist propaganda and soft-core porn, but his 2013 hit Gravity could be seen as an argument against putting women in the military or space, although I don’t think this was the director’s intention.)

Children of Men is set in 2027. For unknown reasons (surely none of them related to feminism), the human race has become infertile. The youngest humans on the planet are 18 years old.

In the Introduction to The White Nationalist Manifesto, I have a thought experiment about what would happen if a particular people, or the whole human race, were to discover that they have no genetic future, i.e., that they are going extinct. (I had not seen the movie at the time I wrote it, but I remember reading about James’ novel in 1992, and the premise stuck with me.)

James and I both speculated that impending human extinction would lead to rises in anti-social, short-term, self-destructive behaviors and well as intense religiosity. James also predicts the rise of Left-wing terrorist violence, which makes sense, since Leftism is a form of religion for unbelievers.

In James’ scenario, the nihilism and fanaticism unleashed by impending extinction have left the planet devastated by wars, insurrections, plagues, and migrations. But sea-girt Britain has managed to maintain order with an authoritarian government. Because Britain is relatively stable, however, it is a target for massive waves of illegal immigrants and refugees from the rest of the world.

In Cuarón’s film, entire cities have been walled off as refugee camps ruled by violent gangs. The Fishes are a Left-wing pro-refugee terrorist sect, who, in the name of love and kindness, want to unleash the refugee tide so it can drown Britain like the rest of Europe.

I am not sure if 2006 audiences and critics saw Cuarón’s dystopian vision of Britian’s future as outlandish and unlikely. But today his depictions of ruined English cities swarming with non-whites, parades of Muslims chanting “Allahu Akbar” and firing guns in the air, and brutal urban firefights between terrorist gangsters and the British army seem more like current events than prophecy — especially after the migrant crisis began in 2014, applauded by Europe’s elites as a humanitarian duty but also urged as an economic necessity — because of low European fertility. After all, Mammon is our god, and if Europeans fail to keep the economy afloat, they must he replaced by non-Europeans. The economic system is absolute. The people are fungible.

The story that James and Cuarón set in this world is, frankly, less interesting than the world itself. I won’t spoil the plot except to say that it centers around the first glimmer of hope for humanity in 18 years, namely a woman has become pregnant. But she is a refugee, and unfortunately, her life and that of her child are imperiled because they have become pawns of the Fishes terrorist gang, who want to use them as symbols to spark an uprising. The hero, Theo Farin (Sin City‘s Clive Owen), another pawn drawn in by the Fishes, tries to spirit the pregnant woman away to safety.

Cuarón portrays British police and soldiers as Nazi-like sadists and martinets who seem to delight in senseless acts of violence. But the Fishes are also portrayed as a pack of treacherous, hysterical, homicidal freaks and degenerates.

From a White Nationalist point of view, the most repugnant aspect of the film is that the pregnant woman is a very black African. This is Cuarón’s invention, not James’. Thus we are treated to the spectacle of a white hero risking life and limb to save a black woman and her child who are the hope of the human race. At the end of the film, we are left wondering: Does this child perhaps mean that the curse of infertility can be lifted for the entire human race? Or will Africans alone inherit the planet? Frankly, the latter is hardly a happy ending, and the whole film would end up being just a disgusting exercise in glorifying white racial altruism. Normies are supposed to feel hope at the end, but racially-conscious whites will still feel despair.

Nevertheless, happy ending or not, Children of Men is still worth seeing. It is an intense and gripping action film set in an increasingly realistic dystopian future. It is brilliantly directed with an excellent script, striking images, solid performances (including a Michael Caine as a lovable old stoner), and some well-chosen music. Its images of a race facing long-term extinction and fighting off non-white hordes are especially relevant to whites today, thus Children of Men might be a useful teaching tool to get white “normies” to start talking about the most pressing issues of our time. After all, 2027 is right around the corner.

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies, Science Fiction & Fantasy 
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Jodorowsky’s Dune, Frank Pavich’s 2013 documentary, tells the story of the “greatest movie never made,” Alejandro Jodorowsky’s abortive adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Jodorowsky is a Chilean-born Jewish filmmaker and author of graphic novels and books on spirituality, psychology, magic, and divination. I have reviewed his The Dance of Reality at Counter-Currents.

In 1974, after the successes of his psychedelic cult films El Topo and The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky and his friend Michel Seydoux decided upon an adaptation of Dune and began assembling an amazing cast and creative team.

To help create the world of Dune, including designs for sets and costumes, Jodorowsky brought in French cartoonist/graphic novelist Jean Giraud (Moebius), English science fiction illustrator Chris Foss, and Swiss surrealist painter H. R. Giger. To realize their designs, he hired Dan O’Bannon to do special effects. For music, Jodorowski settled on Pink Floyd, with Magma to provide the music of the Harkonnens.

Chris Foss painting of pirate ship for Jodorowsky’s Dune
Chris Foss painting of pirate ship for Jodorowsky’s Dune

Jodorowski’s casting decisions were equally inspired. Salvador Dalí was to play Emperor Shaddam IV. Dalí wanted to be the best paid actor in the world. It was agreed he would be paid $100,000 per minute — but not for minutes worked, for minutes on the screen. Dalí also suggested plot elements and set designs, right down to the emperor’s toilet. At one point, he asked for a flaming giraffe, which was duly inked into the storyboards by Moebius. Clearly, Dalí was perfect for the role of a megalomaniac. Dalí ‘s muse Amanda Lear was to play Shaddam’s daughter Princess Irulan.

Fan poster art for Jodorowsky’s Dune
Fan poster art for Jodorowsky’s Dune

For the Harkonnens, Orson Welles was to play Baron Harkonnen; Mick Jagger was cast as Feyd-Rautha; and Udo Kier was to play Piter De Vries.

David Carradine was cast as Duke Leto Atreides, and Jodorowski’s son Brontis was to play Paul.

Although not mentioned in the film, Gloria Swanson was also cast, perhaps as Reverend Mother Mohiam.

Chris Foss design for Shaddam’s traveling palace
Chris Foss design for Shaddam’s traveling palace

Apparently Jodorowsky had not even read Dune before suggesting the project. He simply had second-hand reports about a science fiction epic involving a mind-expanding drug and the coming of a messiah. But he wanted to suggest a highly ambitious project, and Dune popped into his head. Later, when he read the book, he came to regard it highly, “like great literature,” comparing Herbert to Proust.

Alejandro Jodorowsky (left) and Michel Seydoux (right)
Alejandro Jodorowsky (left) and Michel Seydoux (right)

Jodorowsky decided to make Dune into a vehicle for his own LSD-fueled version of Vedanta, much like his classic The Holy Mountain. Thus, his vision departed from the novel in crucial ways. Like David Lynch after him, he wanted to emphasize the genuinely magical and messianic elements of Herbert’s more ambiguous story. He wanted to make a movie that would give people a unitative mystical experience analogous to a psychedelic trip. His goal was to create something sacred, and he treated his creative team like a band of spiritual warriors.

In Jodorowsky’s telling, Duke Leto has been castrated in a bullfight, and Paul is conceived by Bene Gesserit magic from a drop of his blood. This plot device later appeared in Jodorowsky’s graphic novel The Metabarons. Leto is also tortured and dismembered by Piter De Vries in a scene resembling the Passion of the Christ.

But the most shocking departure is that Paul Atreides dies at the end, his throat slashed by a minor character, Margot Fenring. But Paul cannot really die, for he has transcended his ego and become one with the cosmos. Death simply cuts his final tie with individuality and ego. Jordorowksy’s dramatization of this apotheosis is brilliant: everyone begins to speak with Paul’s voice. “I am Paul. “I am Paul.”

Then, in a miracle far outshining Lynch’s rainstorm on Arrakis, the planet too is awakened. It transforms itself into a verdant paradise and begins moving through the galaxy, seeding it with cosmic consciousness. Naturally, none of Herbert’s sequels would have been possible. It is not known what Frank Herbert thought of this ending, but he did have a good working relationship with Jodorowsky. In the documentary, Jodorowsky likens his adaptation to rape — but with love.

The first draft of Jodorowsky’s Dune — the script, the storyboards by Moebius, plus paintings by Foss and Giger — were pulled together into the legendary Dune Book, as thick as a major city’s telephone directory. If there were ever a project for Taschen to publish, this is it.

Copies of the Dune Book were sent to all the major Hollywood studios, including Disney. But nobody wanted to finance a 14-hour movie. So after two years of intensive creative work, the project was canceled.

But the Dune Book, like the traveling planet, was still out there, passing from hand to hand, fertilizing the imaginations of many moviemakers to come. As Brontis Jodorowsky points out, when you watch many movies you hear the voice, “I am Dune.” “I am Dune.”

For instance, Dan O’Bannon wrote a script and brought together Giger, Moebius, and Foss to make Alien. The original Star Wars trilogy owes much to Dune, specifically to Jodorowsky’s Dune. The documentary points out borrowings in The Terminator, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Masters of the Universe, Contact, and Prometheus. I think a case could be made for borrowings in Akira. Clearly there were also subtle borrowings — let us call them homages — in Lynch’s Dune, including a glimpse of a fat face and open mouth on the Harkonnen planet that quotes Giger’s original design for the Baron’s Castle. If only Lynch had used more.

Pavich’s documentary is highly entertaining, and I recommend it without reservations. Pavich interviews Jodorowsky — whose charisma is undimmed even in old age — and as many of the surviving participants as possible. But my favorite sequences were simple slide-show animations of the storyboards. Jodorowsky, of course, went on to produce multiple films and graphic novels. But it is a pity he never revisited Dune, for he already had the makings of a brilliant animated series. Quick, somebody translate this review into Japanese.

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies, Science Fiction & Fantasy 
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David Lynch’s Dune (1984) is a flawed masterpiece. When I first saw it, I was deeply disappointed. Frank Herbert’s original novel made a powerful impression on me. I could see Herbert’s world, and Lynch’s vision was not my vision. But when my initial impression faded and I returned to Lynch’s film with an open mind, I found it immensely imaginative and compelling. Even the score by Toto managed to grow on me.

Yes, Lynch changed some things about Dune, but the changes were for the better. For instance, the audience with the Guild navigator is not in Dune, but a similar scene takes place in the sequel Dune Messiah. It was too visually interesting a scene for Lynch not to steal, and he used it to advance the plot in crucial ways. Dunealso combines a cynical materialism with genuinely mystical ideas like prescience. Lynch downplays the materialism and focuses in on the magic.

Dune deals with the explosive results of combining religion and politics. Young Paul Atreides is the product of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood’s centuries-old project to breed a superman. When he just happens to fulfill the prophecies of a messiah implanted in a superstitious desert people by the same sisterhood, he uses religion as a tool to raise an army and restore his birthright, but as we learn in the sequel Dune Messiah, the holy war takes on a life of its own and scorches the galaxy.

In Lynch’s telling, Paul really is a messiah. Oddly though, Lynch goes in the exact opposite direction in his treatment of the “weirding way,” turning it from a yogic siddhi into a kind of technology.

Lynch did not have control of the final cut of Dune, and many scenes were removed. There will never be a director’s cut, but some of the missing footage has surfaced in an abomination that appeared on television. In truth, though, nothing essential was lost, and each time I view this film, I marvel anew at how masterfully and concisely Lynch relates the essentials of the story.

Lynch’s Dune has many critics and skeptics. I will quell their qualms in a much longer analysis to Lynch’s Dune for a book about Lynch I plan to write someday. In the meantime, if you want to develop a better appreciation of David Lynch’s Dune, I suggest you try the alternative, the Sci-Fi Channel’s 2000 miniseries Frank Herbert’s Dune, directed by John Harrison. Every Herbert fan will want to see it, but few will enjoy it. In truth, it is pretty bad. Let me count the ways.

First, the special effects are abysmal, far inferior to Lynch’s which predate the age of computer animation.

Second, although some of the interior and exterior sets are imaginative, the costumes are mostly bad, especially the silly headgear.

Third, something is wrong with the sound. There are patches of the film where the dialogue is unintelligible, and not just because of the exotic accents of some of the Czech actors. The worst offender, actually, is William Hurt as Duke Leto Atreides, who sounds like he is mumbling through wooden teeth. To make matters worse, the DVD set I have does not have subtitles.

Fourth, the script is wordy, a flaw the stands out in the scenes that have direct equivalents in the Lynch film.

Fifth, the Fremen’s various gestures and rituals are muddled and clumsy, lacking in the stark simplicity one would expect of such people.

Sixth, the only decent music sounds like Brian Eno’s “Prophecy” theme from the Lynch film.

Seventh, I don’t like a lot of the cast. Some of them are ugly and others are terrible actors. Most of the casting and acting is far inferior to the Lynch film, particularly the characters of Duke Leto, Lady Jessica, Reverend Mother Mohiam, Stilgar, Dr. Yueh, Dr. Kynes, Thufir Hawat, Piter de Vries, Mapes, and Chani.

Alec Newman is actually good as Paul Atreides, but there are precious few scenes where he plays off anyone equal to him. I also liked Julie Cox as Princess Irulan, whose role is expanded from narrator to agent. This bit of tampering did not bother me, since it sets the stage for her more prominent role in the subsequent novels, and some of her lines are taken from characters in the original novel. I also liked Ian McNeice as Baron Harkonnen, whose portrayal is faithful to Herbert, whereas Lynch’s unforgettable Grand-Guignol Baron owes much to his own sick imagination. P. H. Moriarty’s Gurney Halleck is not bad, but he is no improvement on Lynch’s Patrick Stewart. The same is true of Giancarlo Giannini’s Emperor Shaddam IV and Matt Keeslar’s Feyd: not bad, but not better.

After 295 underwhemling minutes of the Sci-Fi Dune, I was not exactly eager to pop in the sequel, 2003’s Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune, directed by Greg Yaitanes. In fact, it took me more than a decade to get around to it, a decision that I regret bitterly, because it is an absolutely brilliant series.

The Sci-Fi Children of Dune is actually an adaptation of Herbert’s two followup novels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. Watching it, I felt completely vindicated in my objections to the original series, because virtually every flaw that had rankled me had been removed: the bad actors, the ugly actors, the muffled sound, the pedestrian music and directing, the terrible special effects, even the silly hats. Both series had the same budgets, but the second one looks infinitely richer. Truly the worst sort of poverty is lack of taste.

The best actors in the first series are back: Alec Newman as Paul, Julie Cox as Irulan, P. H. Moriarty as Gurney Halleck, and Ian McNeice as Baron Harkonnen. Even a couple actresses who I did not like in the first series — Barbora Kodetová as Chani and Zuzana Geislerová as Reverend Mother Mohiam — were much better under Yaitanes’ direction.

Edward Atterton’s Duncan Idaho, Steven Berkoff’s Stilgar, and Alice Krige’s Lady Jessica are all huge improvements over the first cast. (Krige is an astonishingly regal and charismatic woman. You have seen her as the Borg Queen.)

The new characters are exceptionally well-cast and acted: James McAvoy as Leto II, Jessica Brooks as his twin sister Ghanima, and Daniela Amavia as their aunt Alia. All three are exceptionally attractive and charismatic. They are all a bit older than in the books. Alia is about fifteen in Dune Messiah, whereas in the series she is an adult. The twins are nine on Children of Dune, but in the series, they are seventeen, on the cusp of legal adulthood. Frankly, these were good choices, because in Herbert’s novels, all three characters are sexually precocious, which is something that even today’s entertainment industry balks at putting on the screen. More mature actors are also more believable.

Leto II and Ghanima
Leto II and Ghanima

The big surprise is Susan Sarandon, who camps it up a bit as Princess Wensicia, the scheming younger sister of Princess Irulan. Sarandon, of course, is probably old enough to be Julie Cox’s mother. To add unity to the adaptation of the two novels, and probably also to get more out of Sarandon, Wensicia is made one of the conspirators in Dune Messiah. She is the only character who gets to wear silly hats.

 
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I loved 2015’s Jurassic World, the reboot of the Jurassic Park “franchise” starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, directed by Colin Trevorrow, and co-authored by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly. Jurassic World blew away the Jurassic Park films. It is highly entertaining and also surprisingly wholesome. Along with the main attractions, the dinosaurs, Jurassic Worldis pro-masculine, anti-feminist, and pro-family, with an overwhelmingly white cast and virtually no political correctness. White audiences loved it since it was not calculated to offend them — and everyone else loved it too. It as close to a perfect movie as one can expect from Hollywood, and a very tough act to follow. But a movie that popular was bound to have a sequel.

That sequel is the runaway global blockbuster Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which I am delighted to announce is a superb, flawlessly entertaining film. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return as the leads, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. The script is again by Trevorrow and Connolly. But this time Spanish director J. A. Bayona is at the helm. Fallen Kingdom is thrilling and scary (but not terrifying and gross). The special effects are on such a high plane that one no longer sees CGI dinosaurs. One simply sees dinosaurs. The movie is well-paced, with lyrical and touching interludes that allow you to catch your breath between the action sequences. The diversity consists of two likable and white-presenting minorities. There are a number of extremely funny scenes. The cinematography is stunning, delivering the sublimity of nature with enormous impact. And there are sequences of pure visual magic, such as when a dinosaur transforms into a storybook dragon menacing a damsel in a tower.

As in the first movie, Claire Dearing is a stressed-out career woman. In the first film, she was running the Jurassic World park. In the new film, she is lobbying the US government to DO SOMETHING to save the dinosaurs now roaming free on Isla Nublar, who are threatened by extinction yet again by the imminent eruption of the Island’s long dormant volcano. As in the first film, she turns for help to her ex-, Owen Grady, a paleo-masculine frontiersman type. The reason they are no longer together is that Owen’s unpretentious, nature-centered lifestyle does not accord well with Claire’s feminist-urbanite idea of the good life. But Owen’s courage, mastery of machines, and literal alpha-maleness — he’s the alpha of a pack of velociraptors — prove indispensable. As in the first movie, human greed and hubris are no match for dinosaurs. All hell breaks loose, and Claire and Owen team up for survival, forming a surrogate family by protecting two boys in the first film, a girl in the new one.

When the film began, I was sad that Owen and Claire’s on-again, off-again romance was off again, as it was at the beginning of the first movie. There’s a huge amount of wholesome sexual chemistry between Owen and Claire, and we really thought it was going somewhere. Fortunately, there will be a third film. So no more on-again, off-again. No more surrogate families. We want the real thing. People this good-looking need to breed. And if Trevorrow knows what’s good for him, he needs to deliver in the third installment, which he will direct and which is due in 2021.

In truth, Fallen Kingdom is a very close and calculated remake of Jurassic World, with the same larger themes, dramatic conflicts, and dinosaur antics. But Fallen Kingdom is not a cynical, clumsy, mechanical remake, like The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. In fact, I found the movie so captivating that the similarities didn’t even occur to me until the next day. And that really is a testament to what a virtuoso team Bayona, Trevorrow, and Connolly are.

Then again, every sequel is a highly calculated affair. Very few sequels surpass the originals, because directors and studios are afraid to take risks and cover new ground. (The Empire Strikes Back is a significant exception to this.) If you want to assure success, you repeat what came before. But there are two kinds of repetition. The Disney Star Wars formula is to behave like 70-IQ cargo cultists, who have no idea of what is essential, so they just copy everything. The other approach, exemplified in Fallen Kingdom, is to understand what was essential to the success of the previous film, to preserve that, and to make the rest as new as possible.

Just as a virtuoso pianist can take the same dots on paper that he has played and you have heard a thousand times before, and enthrall you with something that seems entirely new, spontaneous, and effortless, Fallen Kingdom recaptures everything we loved about Jurassic World and brings the story forward, ending on a very serious and sublime note, and setting us up for another sequel that I can’t wait to see.

 
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The Expanse is a SyFy network original series that is now nearing the end of its third season. The Expanse is the most imaginative and absorbing science fiction series since the reboot of Battlestar Galactica (2003–2009).

The Expanse is based on a series of novels by S. A. Corey. I have not read them, so I cannot judge the accuracy of the adaptation, but I am delighted that there are eight, soon to be nine novels, which will provide material for future seasons. SyFy canceled the series after the ongoing third season, but Amazon Video has picked it up. So I hope that we will all be binge-watching The Expanse for years to come.

The Expanse is set more than 200 years in the future. Mankind has colonized Mars, the Asteroid Belt, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The Earth is ruled by the United Nations. Former nations are referred to merely as “economic zones.” Once gifted with abundance, the Earthlings thought only of present, personal indulgences, not the future of mankind, leaving the world massively overpopulated and polluted. A lot of the population is unemployed and exists on the dole.

Mars, by contrast, has a forbidding environment which has bred a Spartan ethos. The entire planet is dedicated to terraforming Mars to create a livable environment for distant future generations. The Earthlings, of course, regard the Martians as fascistic.

In the Asteroid Belt and beyond are the “Belters,” the frontiersmen of the system. They do not, however, resemble American pioneers so much as the proletarian rabble one would find in seaports. Their culture seems like a fusion of Irishmen, Juggalos, and the global South, forever haggling, carousing, toasting, and complaining about injustice in a sing-songy, Irish-Jamaican inflected pidgin English.

Like all cultural products today, the casting of The Expanse is maximally politically correct and diverse, with whites, blacks, Asians, Middle Easterners, South Asians, and all manner of mystery meat. There is also maximum cultural eclecticism and confusion. An Iranian actress plays an Indian woman named Crisjen Avasarala. A white man is named Sadavir Errinwright. A Chinaman is named Jules-Pierre Mao. A mulatto bears the name Naomi Nagata. And, most ridiculously, an Iranian actor plays an Arab from Mars who talks like a good old boy from Texas. You get the picture.

The Expanse, like other such science fiction, projects a future that is a bit more diverse and exotic than the present, ignoring the fact that if present trends continue, in 200 years, there will be no diversity. There will just be a despoiled earth swarming with a homogeneous population of brown hominids who are too dumb and violent on average to sustain and advance technological civilization.

Politically correct science fiction defers the ultimate consequences of diversity to a still more distant future because viewers would be revolted by a vision of panmixia. They would not watch shows populated exclusively by people with whom they feel no identification. Beyond that, whites today cannot be taught to miscegenate our race out of existence if we cannot identify with people on the screen doing the same thing 200 years from now.

Thus The Expanse features two very white Alpha Males James Holden (played by Steven Strait) and Amos Burton (played by Wes Chatham), both of whom regard the mulatto Naomi Nagata as a sexual prize. Holden, the main hero, actually ends up sleeping with her (of course).

In short, the purpose of politically correct science fiction is not to portray the homogeneous dystopia of “diversity,” but to promote it by treating miscegenation merely as a way of expanding individual sexual options while veiling the ultimate collective consequences from us.

But if you can set aside the odious racial politics of The Expanse (which is no worse than anything else on TV) and just focus on the story, the series is highly rewarding.

The plot of the first three novels/seasons deals with mankind’s first contact with an intelligent and deadly alien life form, and the almost complete inability of our ruling elites to deal with it in a rational, prudent, and ethical manner. Instead, The Expanseoffers a portrait of a civilization whose political, economic, and scientific elites are almost entirely sociopathic.

When the alien life form is first encountered by industrialist Jules-Pierre Mao, it is simply a blue goo which is dubbed the “proto-molecule.” Mao’s first reaction is to weaponize it and sell it to the main rival powers, Earth and Mars. To do that, however, human guinea pigs are required, and to remove any moral qualms about such experiments, a group of scientists voluntarily undergo a procedure that turns them into sociopaths. And once they become sociopaths, well, there’s no limit to the scope of their experiments.

The proto-molecule, however, apparently having assimilated a sufficient number of human test subjects, attains a kind of emergent intelligence. It develops a mind and agenda of its own, which sets the system reeling.

Mankind is standing on the brink of the greatest discovery—and the greatest danger—in its history, so naturally the imbeciles who run Earth and Mars go to war. It is all extremely bleak and chilling, but highly imaginative and involving.

Of course there would be no story without some good characters who do their best to save mankind from the proto-molecule and an even more formidable enemy—our own leaders. The good guys are the crew of the spaceship Rocinante: James Holden, who is a morally earnest knightly hero; Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), the engineer; Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar), the pilot; and Amos Burton, a mechanic and thug.

Other good characters are UN Deputy Undersecretary Crisjen Avasarala, played by the Persian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo; Avasarala’s faithful paladin and spy, Cotyar Ghazi, played by Lebanese actor Nick Tarabay; Martian soldier Roberta Draper, played by a Polynesian actress Frankie Adams; Methodist minister Annushka “Anna” Volovodov, played by Elizabeth Mitchell; and Joe Miller, a detective on Ceres Station in the Belt played by Thomas Jane.

All of them stand out by having a moral center and working to prevent humanity’s (self-)destruction.

My favorite characters are Avasarala and Amos. The husky-voiced Avasarala dresses and comports herself like a Bollywood diva. She is a powerful woman who has not masculinized herself in the least. She is shrewd and ruthless, capable of using Machiavellian means to moral ends. She ends up saving, and ruling, the world—and deserves it.

Amos is a thug with a sketchy past from Baltimore, which has not mellowed in 200 years. A lot of viewers probably regard him as a “psycho,” and perhaps they are meant to. But Amos clearly has a moral compass. He is capable of loyalty, justice, and righteous anger. What makes him scary to most people is that he is quintessentially Aryan: taciturn, cold, hard, unsentimental, and utterly ruthless in meting out death to evildoers. Played by the hulking, charismatic Wes Chatham, Amos steals every scene he is in.

Like many series, The Expanse had a bit of a wobbly start before getting its stride. I confess, for instance, I find the noir gumshoe shtick of Miller, who is prominent in the first season, to be annoying and often ridiculous. But after the second episode, I found myself binge-watching to the end of season two.

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies 
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I had a bad feeling about this.

It wasn’t just Solo‘s cursed production history: the original directors were sacked near the end of shooting, and Ron Howard was brought in to finish the movie, reshooting 70 percent of it. It wasn’t just the rumors that Alden Ehrenreich was not up to the role of Han Solo. It wasn’t just the tepid reviews.

The real problem is making a movie about the young Han Solo in the first place. Because what makes Star Wars compelling is not space battles and cantinas full of exotic aliens. It is the presence of Grand Politics — the Empire and the Rebellion — and the Numinous: the Force and its initiates, both good and evil. Han Solo before his involvement in either is just the cynical smuggler we met on Tattooine.

Now, there was nothing to stop Disney from making a great movie about a cynical smuggler with a good heart trying to make his way in a savage universe. But such a movie would be unlike any other Star Wars movie, and that would present a problem for the writer and director. They could not dine out on Grand Politics and the Numinous. At best, these could only appear on the margins and in a manner in which Han could not grasp their full significance. Instead, they would have to do a straightforward adventure movie set in the Star Wars universe, but without depending upon the factors that make the franchise unique and compelling. (To say nothing of sure-fire hits, even when they are bad.)

But there are two kinds of adventure movies: pulp films in which cardboard characters dodge random explosions — and good films, which need to have three things: character development, dramatic conflict connected to deep moral and metaphysical themes, and a story that is not just one accident after another. A good plot needs an element of necessity. The story has to be in some way generated by the characters and the moral and metaphysical themes. Great, involving stories are encounters between what is deep in us and what is deep in the universe.

Solo could have been a good movie, even a great one. But the writers and directors needed to ask themselves at every step: Would this still be a good movie if we dropped all the Star Wars crap and set it in any other universe or time period? The answer, unfortunately, is no. I found Solo to be a lifeless, uninvolving movie from beginning to end.

Solo is not a calculated, cynical, derivative farce like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Those films are evil and inept. Solo is neither. It has an original plot. It is well directed. It is competently acted. It is often great to look at. But it is basically just a pulp-level caper film, where the heroes rush from one contrived crisis to another, always saving the day in the nick of time.

At one point, it crossed my mind that maybe Disney had confused Han Solo with Indiana Jones. But the first three of those movies were pretty good, and even they had mystery and magic. (Of course everybody knows that Star Wars is based on old pulp space opera serials. But Lucas took them to a higher level.)

Basically, Solo makes a list of all the things that we know about the young Han Solo from the original trilogy. He presumably had a childhood. He has a name. He met Chewie. He won the Millennium Falcon in a card game with Lando Calrissian. He made something called the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. The movie then resolves to stitch all these together while including other obligatory Star Wars tropes: a cantina scene, a wisecracking droid, some space battles and chases. There’s nothing about the Jedi and the Force, and the Empire is only present on the edges, and in the most sordid and grimy way possible. (We do, however, discover why Storm Troopers can’t shoot, for the application procedure is hardly rigorous.)

But this is not how you create a great story. At best, these are just side dishes and trimmings. The main course should have been an original plot. The back story stuff should have been worked in as asides or surprises. One of the best things about Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One is how neatly and pleasurably they slotted into what we already knew happened from the first trilogy. But they weren’t just back stories. They had self-contained plots.

Furthermore, the underlying plot of Solo is stupid. Han and Qi’ra are in love. Han and Qi’ra are on the run from gangsters. Han escapes, but Qi’ra is captured. Han then spends the next three years in the Imperial Army, hoping for an opportunity to get a ship, return home, and find Qi’ra. But why does he need his own ship to return home? Couldn’t he book passage on another vessel? And why does he even need to return home to learn about her fate? Are we to believe that in a universe with faster-than-light travel, people don’t have email?

I can’t recommend Solo. It simply left me cold. It is not a bad movie, but it is not good either. It did not make me angry like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. It just made me bored. It is a waste of time and money. I never thought much of Han Solo to begin with. And I still don’t. The character has no magic or grandeur. He was never quite up to the Star Wars universe, and he is nothing without it. Ron Howard is a talented director, but there may have been nothing he could do. Solo‘s fate may have been sealed before he stepped in.

Solo has plenty to irritate racially conscious whites. Alden Ehrenreich is twice as Jewish as Harrison Ford. Woody Harrelson’s character has a black squeeze. Space pimp Lando is supposed to be pansexual, but that is simply to say he is an actor. His droid has a sassy black Communist woman trapped inside it. Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra is supposed to be something completely new: a strong, badass woman. But she’s actually no MaRey Sue. She’s simply treacherous and backstabbing. The leader of the marauders has a face from the National Geographic miscegenation issue. And so forth.

Like I said, I had a bad feeling about Solo going in. And as the movie unfolded, I definitely felt the absence of grandeur and mystery. But at the end, the source of my dissatisfaction was confirmed when the hologram of Darth Maul appeared to summon his servant to Dathomir. This only makes sense if one has watched the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

After The Last Jedi, I gave up hope for theatrical Star Wars movies and decided to explore the two animated series, Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. After all, Star Wars movies are mostly cartoons anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised. These animated series, under the guidance of director and producer Dave Filoni, are simultaneously true to the spirit of the original Lucas films while being highly imaginative and original — and often quite deep and emotionally powerful. They are infinitely superior to all of Disney’s movies and the true heirs and guardians of George Lucas’ legacy.

Note

Here’s my current ranking of the Star Wars movies and animated series (Rogue Onesank considerably after I viewed it on BluRay):

The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars (A New Hope)
Star Wars: Rebels
Revenge of the Sith

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies, Science Fiction & Fantasy 
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Unbreakable (2000) is many people’s least favorite M. Night Shyamalan film, but I think it is his best: brilliantly conceived and scripted, beautifully acted and filmed, and quite moving. Since the film is almost two decades old, I trust nobody will complain about spoilers.

Unbreakable is a superhero film, but it does not contain any computer animation, strobe-fast editing, or deafening crashes and booms. Instead, Unbreakable has the pacing and style of an art film. It is highly realistic, but in a glossy rather than gritty fashion. Shyamalan’s camera imbues mundane objects and scenes with a luster that blunts any desire to look beyond their surfaces. His goal — which is communicated even in his use of low camera angles — is to conjure up a world in which the fantastic and heroic exist only in the imagination.

As Elijah Price — Samuel L. Jackson in one of his most emotionally powerful roles — says, this is “a mediocre time.” “People are starting to lose hope. It’s hard for many to believe that extraordinary things live inside themselves as well as others.” The “surprise ending” of the film is the discovery that extraordinary possibilities really do exist in the comfortably superficial world Shyamalan’s camera has created.

Unbreakable may be a superhero film, but the key to its emotional power is that it is an allegory about the fate of everyman—literally every man, and manliness itself—in an overly feminized and bourgeois society that prizes the long and inglorious life over the riskier, more glorious path.

The hero of Unbreakable is David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis. Dunn is a bald, middle-aged, unassuming everyman. He works as a security guard, while his wife Audrey (Robin Gayle Wright) is a physical therapist. The Dunns have one child, their eleven-year-old son Joseph. Of course, “Dunn” has the connotation of dull, and Audrey’s maiden name “Inverso” is an omen of their relationship, since she is the dominant partner in the marriage. She has a profession, whereas David is blue-collar. David also defers to Audrey in all matters connected with their son, including discipline. Joseph wants to look up to his father and spend time with him doing man things, like playing football and working out, but Audrey thinks they are unsafe. Unsurprisingly, the Dunns are both unhappy in their marriage. They sleep in separate beds while they plan their separation and divorce.

Every morning, David Dunn awakens to a feeling of sadness. Later we learn why. In college, David Dunn was not a soft-spoken schlub. He was the star quarterback on his football team, winning games and adulation, perhaps in the very stadium where he is now merely a security guard. David and Audrey were dating in college, and they were in a terrible car accident. David quit playing football after the accident, claiming injury. But it turns out that was just an excuse. Although David had been thrown clear of the car, he was not injured at all, and he had the strength to save Audrey from the burning wreckage.

The real reason David quit playing was Audrey’s moral opposition to football. As an aspiring physical therapist, her purpose was to fix broken bodies, whereas football broke bodies in the pursuit of glory. Thus Audrey domesticated David, getting him to quit football. They both thought it would make them happy, but it didn’t. Domesticity is emasculating. Men can’t be happy without taking risks, and women aren’t really attracted to emasculated men. Modern bourgeois society programs couples to make marriages equal and risk free, even though that is not really what people want, and getting it doesn’t satisfy them.

At the beginning of the movie, David is returning home to Philadelphia from a job interview in New York. His train derails and is struck by a freight train. Everyone is killed except for David, who is not even scratched. After a memorial service for the victims, David finds a note on his windshield asking him if he has ever been ill. The card reads Limited Edition, the name of a comic book art gallery owned by Elijah Price.

Elijah is the only child of an unwed black mother in a Philadelphia slum. He was born with a rare genetic disease, osteogenesis imperfecta, which makes his bones highly brittle. Because of this he spent most of his life indoors, avoiding injury, when not actually in hospital beds. Elijah is highly “breakable.” The children in his neighborhood mocked him as “Mr. Glass.”

Elijah spent a great deal of his life reading comic books, and when he grew up, he turned his expertise into a business. Elijah is convinced that comics communicate truth in symbolic form. Specifically, he thinks that superheroes and supervillains may actually be real. Thus when he heard that David had survived the train crash “miraculously unharmed,” he reached out to him, thinking that he might be an extraordinary person, chosen for a special destiny.

Elijah’s quest is sustained by a metaphysical conviction: “If there is someone like me in the world, and I’m at one end of the spectrum . . . Couldn’t there be someone the opposite of me, at the other end?” Elijah is quite certain this is the case. This conviction is known as the “principle of plenitude,” which holds that all possibilities are actual, or will be actualized in the fullness of time. If Elijah is Mr. Glass, Mr. Breakable, doesn’t that mean there is a Mr. Unbreakable somewhere in the universe? If such a person exists, then Elijah wants to find him. If he does not know his own powers, Elijah wants to help him discover them.

Elijah has at least two motives for his search. First, he thinks the world is in need of heroes to free it from flatness and mediocrity and give it meaning. Second, Elijah believes that discovering his counterpart would give his own life meaning. It would allow him to make something good of his suffering and alienation.

This brings us to a second classical philosophical principle: the actualization of potentiality. For humans, becoming who we really are is the path to well-being or happiness. Each human being has an ideal self, which needs to be actualized. If we actualize ourselves, we feel happy. If we fail to actualize ourselves, we suffer. But whether we flourish or fail, we are the same persons in either case.

David Dunn is unhappy, because he has failed to actualize himself. He fails because he does not know himself, and he does not know himself because his wife convinced him not to test his limits. Unbreakable is a moving film, because self-discovery and self-actualization are necessary for the well-being of every one of us. David, urged on by Elijah and his son Joseph, discovers that he has extraordinary powers: he can intuit crimes by touching people. He is enormously strong. And he is almost invulnerable. Water is his only weakness. It is his kryptonite.

As David begins to understand and actualize his powers, he shakes off the sadness that has haunted his life and ruined his family. He bonds with his son but also feels comfortable disciplining him authoritatively. After his first major rescue, when he saves two children from a home invader who has killed their parents, he carries his wife upstairs to his bed. It is a primal, paleo-masculine gesture, and Audrey loves it. The next morning, the family is united around the breakfast table, and Audrey is cooking for them.

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies, Science Fiction & Fantasy 
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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is an animated movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. Released in two 76-minute parts in 2012 and 2013, then combined into a 148-minute edition DVD and Blu-ray, this is lame, sclerotic, constipated, Z-grade animation drawn out to paralyzing lengths, completely lacking the visual style and dynamism of the original graphic novel, which is more animated on the printed page than in this adaptation.

Why review it, then? The original graphic novel seems quite paradoxical. The characters of Batman and Commissioner Gordon are highly Right-wing, truly off-the-charts on the F-scale. But this is counter-balanced by a number of features that can only be described as politically correct: anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic. What ties these two dimensions together is Miller’s Right-wing individualism. His Rightist values are universal principles that can be followed by anyone, regardless of race, sex, etc., and it is only permissible to go outside the law in service of these values. The film, although it mostly detracts from the graphic novel, also adds a few touches that heighten its Right-wing dimensions.

After the death of Jason Todd (the second Robin), Bruce Wayne retired from the role of Batman at the age of 45. Ten years later, Gotham is at the mercy of the Mutant gang (which is, ludicrously, all-white and practically all-blond, as are practically all the other criminals in Gotham). Commissioner Gordon is 70 and on the brink of retirement. The Joker is catatonic in Arkham Asylum. Harvey Dent/Two-Face receives reconstructive surgery courtesy of Bruce Wayne. Dent is declared sane, released from Arkham, and promptly drops out of sight and returns to crime.

Bored with retirement and appalled by the crime wave, the 55-year-old Bruce Wayne dons cape and cowl and returns to fighting crime. On one of his patrols, Batman rescues teenage girl Carrie Kelley from the Mutants. Kelley then buys a Robin costume and goes into crime fighting, eventually winning the trust of Batman. Kelley’s character is an obvious concession to feminism, and with her short hair and tomboyish demeanor, to lesbianism as well.

Batman eventually defeats Two-Face and the leader of the Mutants. Some former Mutant gang members rename themselves the Sons of Batman and become vigilantes. This disturbs President Ronald Reagan—portrayed as a sinister, greenish Frankenstein monster—who asks Superman to step in and stop Batman. Superman threatens Bruce Wayne, telling him to go back into retirement, then zooms off to Corto Maltese to fight the Soviets. Commissioner Gordon retires, and his replacement Ellen Yindel (feminist, lesbian, and very probably Jewish) issues a warrant for Batman’s arrest.

Meanwhile, Batman’s return has awakened the Joker from his catatonic state. Psychiatrist Bartholomew Wolper, who previously certified Harvey Dent sane and has publicly argued that Batman is actually guiltier than the criminals he fights, now champions the Joker, declaring that he had been cured and should be reintegrated into society. Wolper reintroduces the Joker to the world on a late-night talk show, but it does not go as planned. The Joker slashes Wolper’s throat on live TV, then gasses the entire audience to death and escapes.

Batman tracks the Joker to an amusement park and beats him within an inch of his life. Batman knows that he could have prevented every murder committed by the Joker since his release if he only had the strength to kill him years before. But even now, Batman cannot bring himself to simply execute the Joker. Instead, he plans to turn him over to the system that had just let him out to kill again. But the Joker does the right thing for the wrong reason. Out of sheer spite, he snaps his own neck, knowing that Batman will be accused of his murder. Batman, however, makes a narrow escape.

The Corto Maltese war escalates into a Soviet nuclear strike. Superman deflects a nuclear missile to a deserted place, but the detonation causes an electro-magnetic pulse that shuts down all electronic equipment, plunging America into chaos. Batman rallies the Sons of Batman to restore order to Gotham, making it the safest place in the nation. Reagan is embarrassed by this and orders Superman to stop Batman.

Batman and Superman then square off. Batman is strengthened by a mechanical exo-suit, and Superman is weakened by the nuclear blast and a kryptonite-tipped arrow, leading to Batman’s victory. (All this is reworked in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman.) Batman then dies of a heart attack, Alfred Pennyworth dies of a stroke, Wayne Manor is destroyed, and Batman is revealed to be Bruce Wayne. In the epilogue, however, we discover that Batman/Wayne faked his death and plans to carry on his crusade against crime in secret.

The portrayals of Wolper and the Joker are the most politically incorrect aspects of the movie, pushing it almost into Alt-Right territory. Wolper is a Jewish name, and he is drawn with a big nose and a black Jew-fro. In the movie, this impression is driven home by voicing him as a smarmy, liberal New York Jew. As for the Joker, he is voiced as a snarky, sibilant, effeminate homosexual.

The most substantive Right-wing elements in the film were already present in the graphic novel, of course, but seeing them on the screen had much more impact.

First, when Jason Todd’s death is mentioned, the expectation is that Batman/Bruce Wayne will affirm the bourgeois assumption that nothing is worse than the violent death of a young man. But Wayne rejects this assumption at root, saying that Jason was “a soldier.” Wayne’s unspoken assumption is that it is appropriate for soldiers to give their lives for a cause, because there are some values higher than the preservation of individual life.

Second, when the retired Commissioner Gordon meets with his successor Ellen Yindel, he makes an extraordinary case for going outside the law for reasons of state, to pursue a higher good. He recounts how the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor shocked Americans into entering World War II and recounts how it was later revealed that Roosevelt knew the attack was coming and did nothing to stop it, precisely to get the United States into the war. Many innocent men died, but Gordon clearly believes that Roosevelt did the right thing, even though he is not willing to come out and say it. Instead, he says that he could not judge it, because “It was too big. He was too big.” Yindel only sees the relevance to Batman later, when she gives up her pursuit of him because “He’s too big.”

Of course, Roosevelt’s ploy to get the United States to bleed for Jewry in another World War became the template for the conspiracy to get the United States to go to war with Israel’s enemies in the Middle East. This, coupled with Miller’s politically correct views of race and sex, gives The Dark Knight Returns a distinctly neoconservative ideological flavor: a marriage of liberal-democratic and globalist values with Schmittian political realism. But this is consistent with the larger superhero genre, in which Nietzschean Supermen, or just plain Supermen, always work to promote egalitarian humanism.

It’s time for Batman to shrug.

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies, Science Fiction & Fantasy 
“Only White Nationalism Will Make Wakanda Real”
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I saw Black Panther with a friend in Seattle last week. Judging from the reverent silence in the theater — broken only occasionally by our laughter at unintentional bits of humor — it was an all-white audience. The serious tone of Black Panther is a departure from recent Marvel movies, which constantly undercut heroism with ironic humor. But Black Panther is a movie about numinous, magical Negroes, and some things are sacred. God is not mocked. (Unless he is Thor.)

Given the massive media hype and grotesque, fawning patronage of white liberals, I was prepared to hate Black Panther. But it really isn’t a terrible movie, although I would not see it again.

The premise of Black Panther is ludicrous, but no sillier than most superhero movies. The superhero known as Black Panther is the hereditary monarch of a remote African kingdom called Wakanda. Wakanda, like Ethiopia, Lesotho, and Swaziland, was not colonized by whites. Wakanda also possesses a unique natural resource, a magical metal of extraterrestrial origin called “vibranium.” (One has to ask: when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Black Panther character in 1966, was “vibrant” already a euphemism for non-white?) Because of their isolation and vibranium, Wakanda developed the most advanced technology on the planet. To protect themselves from white colonizers, the Wakandans used this technology to hide their futuristic capital city — complete with flying cars — behind some sort of ray shield, like an African Galt’s Gulch.

Black Panther is a deeply feminist film, even though feminism is as common in the real Africa as flying cars. Sometimes the costumes and set design look like they could have come from the pen of A. Wyatt Mann, especially the guy with the green zoot suit and matching lip plate. There is a hilarious scene in which some Wakandans shut up a white man by oogaing. (I pray that this catches on.) When a Wakandan flying car shows up in Oakland, the local urban youths immediately start talking about stripping it and selling the parts. Naturally, the white liberals around me were terrified to laugh at any of this.

But at a certain point, I simply decided to view Black Panther as a science fiction movie set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, and this suspension of disbelief allowed me to relax and enjoy the spectacle.

The plot of Black Panther deals with the rise of a new king/Black Panther, T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman), who faces two challenges to Wakandan isolationism.

The first challenge is the liberal welfare statism of T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), a spy who roves around Africa doing good deeds for impoverished and oppressed Africans. She thinks that Wakanda needs to become a humanitarian superpower like Sweden, sending foreign aid and taking in refugees. (Let’s call this option “Dem Programs,” for short.)

The second challenge is represented by T’Challa’s American-raised cousin N’Jadaka/”Killmonger” (Michael B. Jordan), who wishes to spark a global black revolution by exporting Wakandan weapons and technology to black revolutionaries and gangsters around the globe. (We’ll call this option “Kill Whitey,” for short.)

There has been a lot of debate about the politics of Black Panther, most of it wrong-headed.

Wakanda is a black, isolationist ethnostate which cultivates a fierce patriotism. When T’Challa shares Nakia’s suggestion to open Wakanda to refugees with W’Kabi, a tribal leader played by Daniel Kaluuya, the response is simple: Refugees would inevitably bring their problems to Wakanda and destroy their way of life. I was shocked that such sentiments made it to the screen, but the reason soon became clear: W’Kabi is a villain, and Black Panther only voices such Trumpian sentiments to dismiss them.

To repeat: Black Panther is not an ethnonationalist, isolationist movie. To be sure, it shows how such policies created a great society. But the message is that it is selfish for Wakanda to keep its treasures to itself. It must share them with the world, even at the risk of losing its identity and independence.

Furthermore, although Killmonger is an eloquent advocate for the global extermination of white people, Black Panther is not Walt Disney’s Kill Whitey. (There’s a good meme in there, through.) Indeed, Killmonger is the main villain of the movie, and he is defeated and killed by T’Challa, who does not take his cousin’s ideas the least bit seriously. Instead, he regards them as merely a symptom of the malaise of black people under colonial oppression. He even blames his cousin’s downfall on his father’s decision to abandon him in America rather than raise him in Wakanda. This mistake, of course, was rooted in Wakandan isolationism.

Black Panther isn’t even anti-white per se. Yes, the only colonial oppressors mentioned are whites. Nary a word is spoken about the vast Arab slave trade. Yes, one of the principal villains is a white South African with the subtle name Klaue (“claw”) played by Andy Serkis. But one of the heroes of the movie is a white man, Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), who is an agent of the CIA no less. Yes, the good white guy works for the American deep state. Let that message to black America sink in for a minute.

So what is the political message of Black Panther, once both isolationist ethnonationalism and global white genocide are rejected? Dem Programs, of course. T’Challa comes to think that Wakanda has been wrong to selfishly guard its independence and hoard its wealth. Thus, at the end of the movie, T’Challa and his sister go to Oakland, California, one of America’s vibrant murder capitals, to outline his plans to uplift blacks around the world with Dem Programs. No doubt with the aid of their good friend in the CIA and other liberal white (((or whitish))) allies. Roll credits.

Black Panther is an entertaining spectacle, but in political terms it is a sinister fraud. It draws its energy by exciting black audiences with two Black Nationalist visions that, like it or not, resonate deeply with them: the advanced, isolationist, nationalist African Shangri-La of Wakanda and Killmonger’s project of global white genocide. But in the end, Black Panther rejects both forms of Black Nationalism and channels these energies into support for the present system of racial integration and liberal-managerial welfare statism under the tutelage of the Democratic Party and the globalist deep state.

Colonialism runs deeper than you think.

But this should come as no surprise, given that the creators of the original Black Panther comic are Jews. Writer Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber, and artist Jack Kirby was born Jacob Kurtzberg. Moreover, both Marvel Studios and Walt Disney are completely loyal to Lee and Kirby’s Jewish vision of black-white race relations. As Kevin MacDonald outlines in his classic essay “Jews, Blacks, and Race,” Jewish organizations and individuals took a leading role in promoting black civil rights in America:

 
• Category: Arts/Culture • Tags: Movies, Science Fiction & Fantasy 
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