@voyou I know this question has been asked many times before, but how did Jonathan Jones, a man who knows nothing about ar… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1464709961079037963 27 Nov 21 Reply Retweet Favorite

Woman with a vocoder

These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. (The Communist Manifesto)

Britney’s Femme Fatale is excellent, and unexpectedly so. It’s produced by Dr Luke, surely one of the most overexposed producers today, but, while it certainly uses plenty of Dr Luke’s current favorite tropes, it’s different in interesting ways from, as well as being much better than, the rest of his current product. Evidence of Dr Luke’s versatility? Or of Britney’s godlike genius, her mysterious ability to bring out the best in her collaborators, even when she doesn’t appear to have any obvious input through the rockist-approved methods of songwriting or production? Read more↴

“Boredom is the threshold to great deeds”

As the audience for a high-school comedy that presents detailed debates within Marxism is probably limited to, well, me, I guess The Trotsky is the closest we’re likely to get. And it’s a pretty good film, although of course I am disappointed by the limited engagement with the details of Bolshevik theory within the film. The biggest limitation is that no-one in the film seems to have any conception of anything left of liberalism, union representation and some kind of fuzzy humanitarian conception of “social justice.” Nonetheless, the adding of even the trappings of socialist politics to a high-school film is entertaining, and there are various minor moments in the film that are interesting. Read more↴

Googie apocalypse

As I have my finger on the pulse of pop culture, I watched Wall-E on ABC Family yesterday, and I’m glad I did; with the 50s aesthetic and the social system based on laziness, it’s pretty much the film version of this blog. There’s an interesting aesthetic choice, which it shares with another 2008 cultural product, Fallout 3. The intro of each introduces the post-apocalyptic landscape accompanied by a soundtrack that recalls the pre rock and roll music of the 50s (actually, Fallout uses an Ink Spots track from the 40s,  while Wall-E uses a song from 60s musical Hello Dolly; the post-war, pre-neoliberalism “long 1950s,” as it were). Read more↴

“I can’t dance / and I can’t walk / I can’t even try to talk”

Bella can't dance

I wasn’t very interested in Twilight when I first heard about it, as neither Mormon abstinence propaganda nor teen romance are really my thing. But then it occurred to me it was also about surliness, militant virginity, and the nonhuman: that is, Shulamith Firestone, Andrea Dworkin, and Donna Harraway; so I thought I ought to watch it. Turns out, it’s a pretty decent film. It’s genuinely witty, with a funny running gag about how Washington is a great place for vampires because it’s always overcast, and a nicely balanced awareness of how the vampire mythology feeds into a certain kind of adolescent self-dramatization (this is the same self-aware embrace of adolescent ridiculousness that makes up what I like about The Smiths). The most interesting thing about the film, though, is the way Kristen Stewart portrays Bella as out of step with the whole world, as someone whose ontological condition is discomfort. Read more↴

The pathos of commodities

I think Lenin underestimates the genuine pathos of the Toy Story films in his review, which reinforces (and is reinforced by) his pedagogical theory of ideology, which tends to emphasize the power of cultural products to impart ideology, thereby underemphasizing why audiences accept and inhabit this ideology. To describe the emotional charge of the films as merely manipulative misses the way in which they allegorize quite real aspects of contemporary life in ways which are both insightful and genuinely affecting (which doesn’t mean they aren’t ideological). Lenin damns the films for “reminding you that your alienated, commodified relationships are perfectly normal, human, desirable and moreover actually protected as human rights in the advanced capitalist states,” but under capitalism human beings really are commodities, and to explore the emotional terrain of that condition is not mystificatory or necessarily reactionary. Read more↴

Making sure sex is boring

“Surely there’s so much going on—”

“That it’s deeply boring. An excess of boringness does not make something interesting except in the driest academic sense.” (Iain M. Banks, “The State of the Art”)

It’s clear that the primary problem, both aesthetic and political, with contemporary pornography, is how boring it is. The particular boringness of porn encapsulates a specific vision of the world and of humanity, which is not at all attractive. Read more↴