Monday, 30 December 2013

News from Elsewhere

Phil Sandifer very kindly asked me to contribute a guest post for his site.  Here it is.  I'm quite proud of it.

It's about Merlin, strangely enough... but me being me, I ramble off topic.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Snow Job

To me, the most striking thing about the racist Christmas card circulated by the British National Party (or the Keystone Stormtroopers, as I like to call them), is how utterly mainstream it looks.

There is clearly a racist message here because

a) it's being circulated by a racist party of fascist Nazi racist racists,


b) because of the oh-so-clever hidden subtext of the phrase 'white Christmas' that Cyclops/Fuhrer Dickibegyourpardonnick Griffin's reichschancellory full of political geniuses have cryptically woven into it.

But, as Metro have pointed out, it's an altered stock image, also used by thoroughly mainstream publications.

The Aryan child - pale and blonde and blue-eyed - is still the vanilla standard of beauty and innocence in the aesthetic system that capitalism calls Christmas.  Mainstream adverts and cards will engage in tokenism so as to simperingly hook in with sentimenal one-world platitudes, and sell to more than just white people, but non-white faces are still the variety sprinkled around the white standard.

It's not the young model's fault, of course.  She's just peddled her own image in a system of bodily commodification (as we all must peddle ourselves, one way or another, in order to get by) only to find her image purchased and used by a bunch of evil, twisted, shambolic fascist pisswizards.

(BTW, my derision may reflect the current state of the BNP, but I don't mean to dismiss them as an archaic or dormant threat.  They're still Nazi filth and they still hurt people.)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The No Man

Well, I watched 'The Snowmen'.

It started badly, with the loner as unhealthy future villain. Watch out for the loners everybody - they're scary.

It briefly picked up with a rather good new title sequence.

Then we got into the mystery section, which was okay. I have serious issues with the idea that the Doctor is now mates with a Silurian and a Sontaran. Both races should hate his guts, the Silurians with good reason.  He's repeatedly failed to do anything but posture some platitudes for these Palestinians of the Who-world.  And then either sit by while his mates kill them, or kill them himself.  And the Sontarans don't work as comedy pratts.  I remember when they were satirical deconstructions of literal-mindedness and militarism, compared archly to medieval chivalric hypocrisy.  Now they're straight men.

But some of the jokes were funnyish, even if they did rely on the idea that it's okay to mock people for being short, looking odd, etc.

The spiral staircase was nice.

But then... Look, it's now clear that this show has no ambition to be anything more than put-down comedy and sentimentality, interspersed with stuff about how awesomely wonderful the Doctor is... despite the fact that he's now a prattling, petulant, sulky, self-pitying idiot.

Fatuous tear-jerkery. Manipulative, hollow gunk which instructs the viewer to feel certain things on command. No sense of history or politics at all, beyond some nonsequiturs about "Victorian values" which connected to nothing. And we have to get preached at about how wonderful it is to love your kids and cry. The most banal and bland moralising posing as inspirational and uplifting profundity. The most cynical arm-twisting of the feelings, posing as moving drama.

And then... "the only force in the world capable of conquering evil... the tears of a whole family on Christmas Eve". I just don't know where to start. I literally felt sick. It's like inhaling Steven Moffat's farts after he's spent 48 hours doing nothing but reading the insides of greetings cards and masturbating in front of a mirror.

And am I to understand that the Great Intelligence began as a lonely child's imaginary friend? You know, I have no problem with continuity being rewritten... but rewritten as explanations, couched in terms of cloying sentimentality, when there was no need for explanations in the first place?

Also, on the subject of the Clara mystery... who cares? I mean, how can one get interested in the solution to a riddle when you know that the solution will be 'some bit of sci-fi handwaving'. The interest in the best Doctor Who always used to be 'what does this mean?'. 'The Snowmen' tells you what it means (ie 'be nice to your kids, being a loner is bad for you, Victorian Values are BAD... whatever they are, and the Doctor is amazing'. Profound stuff like that.) The interest supposedly now lies in what everyone is feeling (which usually turns out to be something like 'Sad' or 'Happy' about completely inhuman and unrelateable experiences) and 'how will Moffat cleverly resolve this bit of apparently inescapable plot trickery?'.

Well frankly, fuck right off.

I like DW when it's 'just' well-made and unpretentious escapism (ie 'Terror of the Zygons') but this cack isn't escapism. Escapism would be something that took my mind off the fact that the world is turning to shit. 'The Snowmen' - being about the most perfect expression of Moffat's neoliberal Who - just rubs the shit in my face while screaming "cry, you proletarian meat-puppet!  CRY!!!!"

This is now not just a show I don't like. This is now something I actively hate.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

Monday, 16 December 2013


Rich, white, male kid.  Drunk driving.  Killed and maimed people.  Got off with probation because he suffers from "affluenza".  Essentially, he couldn't help doing it because he was too privileged to know better.

It's so obvious, really, isn't it?  Shouldn't even need saying.  But.  Imagine a black person, a poor person, in the same position.  Would they be gently treated because society deprived them?  I'm not saying I want a 16 year old kid to be sent to one of those privatised totalitarian hellhole gulags that America calls 'prisons' for 20 years (though it would be a sharp lesson for him in what it feels like to be an ethnic minority, since those prisons are mostly stuffed with poor people, who are mostly people of colour).  I'm just pointing out the disparity.

Compare with the treatment of Glenn Broadnax.   Compare what happened to Zimmerman with what happened to Marissa Alexander (she is at least getting a new trial).

Things like that happen in their thousands every day.  I could fill up all the free memory Blogger has given me just describing, in the barest terms, things like that which happened in the last week.  And these are just anecdotes which illustrate the structural violence that underlies capitalism.

I've been told, on occasion, that my politics are "childish".  I decide to take that as a compliment.  Look at what passes for serious, mature, adult opinion and then tell me that childish ideas don't have anything to recommend them.  Besides, it's true.  At the root of all my political engagement is a boiling fury at injustice.  That's not a boast; it's something I can't help.  I read the news every day and 'that's not fair' tolls in my brain again and again.  That's the ultimate childish feeling: that rage at injustice, at unfairness, at double standards.  And it's righteous.  When you're a kid, you're too young to have learned all the lessons of life that sophisticated adults take for granted: that the world isn't fair and that's just the way it is and there's nothing you can do about it.  You're still naive enough to think life could and should be fair, and to be overcome by anger when it flagrantly isn't.  Like so many childish things, that gets beaten out of most of us, much to our detriment.  We could do worse than try to reconnect with that feeling that makes you want to stamp your feet and throw your toys around.

The great advantage of adulthood is that it brings the opportunity to focus that kind of anger at injustice in the right directions, away from oneself and one's own thwarted whims, towards the people most ill-treated, towards the most egregious double standards.

Of course, I don't always manage it.  I spend a lot of time on my own thwarted whims. 

Friday, 6 December 2013


Mandela was unquestionably a great man. But he was great because he was once a fierce fighter against oppression, not because he was a saint with a nice line in inspirational aphorisms. He was also a flawed human being whose party, under his leadership, capitulated to capitalism, embraced neoliberalism and perpetuated drastic economic inequality. Let's mourn the passing of a fighter against racial discrimination, who endured decades of suffering (on a level that I can't even conceptualise, let alone imagine myself tolerating) for his principles. But let's not lose ourselves in lachrymose sentimentality and forget the real history of post-Apartheid South Africa.



Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Moons of Madness

Panic Moon is back, and it's about time.  I'm in it again. 

Och aye the noo Doctor.

Just like old times.

Get it here.  It is good.