Friday, 29 May 2015

Furiosa and Furiosa

Well, it's basically a two-hour chase sequence with a few pauses... but yes, it's amazingly well done.  Old hand George Miller takes advantage of all the modern techniques - hyper-fast editing, CGI, etc - but he uses these things for storytelling purposes, not to show us how fast he can edit or how good his CGI is.  He never sacrifices the clarity of the visual storytelling.  The production and costume design has a gnarly, knotty detail and complexity.  The brazenly ironic and stylised salvagepunk visual world of the movie makes it like an 80s auteur film made on a vast budget and with modern techniques.  The result is jaw-droppingly good.  It instantly makes just about every other blockbuster movie of recent years look quaint and windy.  Mad Max: Fury Road makes Avengers: Age of Ultron look like a Cameron Crowe movie in which the assembled twee, privileged assholes play with action figures and make "boom" noises.

I'm not going to go into much political detail.  I've junked most of what I've been trying to write about this movie, largely because of this article at Jacobin, which says everything I was groping for, and lots more of interest.  It's really good... though there are bits where I think the writer, Stephen Maher, goes too far.  (There are also a few snafus which suggest he didn't quite pay enough attention to the plot.)

Read it?  Okay, then here are some caveats:

I don't think Maher gets it exactly right.  The film certainly does buy into an orientalist narrative about the supposed sins of pre-modern and/or anti-modern civilisation, and yes this is inevitably tinged with Huntingdonism and Islamophobia.  In the film, patriarchy comes complete with a built-in death-cult, tribal masks, and a harem of the type sheiks always have in racist, orientalist Western fantasies.  But I think the film is less a defence of 'our' modernity in the face of such things and more an attempt to implicate modernity in the same supposed sins.  The death cult of the suicide bombers uses Northern European religious ideas (Valhalla), urges itself on with thrash metal music, and Joe decorates himself with Western-style military medals, etc.  Plus the Mad Max movies' usual anxious appropriation of the camp and performative hyper-masculinity of biker culture.  It's like the film is saying "see how awful we'd become if we degenerated in the face of a civilisational crisis... it's buried inside our civilisation, waiting to creep back out... the seeds are already there, around us".  This is all problematic in itself, but maybe not quite as bad as the review above makes it sound.

It's still an awesomely entertaining movie (reason enough to see it and enjoy it) with reasonably good gender politics.

Much of a meal has been made of the gender politics of the film, usually through the medium of stories about assorted reactionary bumwipes crying about how it's a feminist lecture instead of a manly movie filled with manly masculine manliness.  Firstly, this is crap.  Max gets to be incredibly masculine in all those stereotypical ways.  He drives really fast.  He punches people.  He shoots guns.  He's very effective, very tough, very heroic.  Tom Hardy practically sweats testosterone.  Etc.  Secondly, there are no feminist lectures in the film... unless you count the odd statement from a character that women and their babies shouldn't be considered the property of men.  To me, that's not a feminist lecture.  That's a baseline statement of what should be obvious fact.  Admittedly, feminists are often the only people remembering such truths, and bothering to say them publically... but, truth be told, if such a basic statement is enough to raise your male hackles, you're probably some kind of malignant dickwit whose opinions are worthless and who should never have any attention paid to you.  It's only in a twisted world like ours that a movie would be considered controversial or radical by anyone for having a woman lead character who is depicted as tough, brave and competent.  It's only in a twisted world like ours that a movie would be considered controversial or radical by anyone for having 'don't keep women as sex-slaves and/or unwilling baby-making machines' as an ethical underpinning. This stuff isn't radical.  At least, it shouldn't be.  And, as annoying as it is to see reactionaries raging against this movie like it's a dramatisation of the SCUM Manifesto, it's also quite annoying to see the liberal end of the mainstream media fawning over it for being the second coming of Mary Wollstonecraft.

This isn't, by the way, to say that Mad Max: Fury Road doesn't have some good gender politics.  It does.  But it seems obvious to me that the correct assessment of this film's gender politics is an appreciative "well, it's not perfect but it's really quite impressive by the standards of the kind of film it is".

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Sans Everything

Spoilers & Triggers

So, Sansa and Ramsey.

Well, it was totally necessary because it shows rape is bad, which we didn’t already know…

Oh, hang on, we did.

Well, some people don’t understand how bad rape is, and this’ll make them see that they were wrong…

Oh no, hang on, it proably won’t.

Well, it was necessary for the plot.

Er… no.  And even if it had been, plots are things people make, not things that grow by themselves.

But it was in the book, wasn’t it?

Um… no, it wasn’t.  In fact they had to rewrite the storyline from the books quite extensively to make it possible.  And even if it had been in the book, that wouldn't bind them to include it.

But at least it was germaine to the text, like the rape scene in, say, The Accused…

Umm… except that this is a show about dragons and magic in a fairytale kingdom.

But at least it shows the horrors of the treatment of women in the middle ages…

Except that this show isn’t set in the middle ages in the real world…

But, being set in a fictionalised version of the middle ages, the show has a mandate to cover medieval misogyny…

Um, no.  Not necessarily.

Well, at least it's broaching a topic it's been silent about up until now?

Except that it hasn’t been.  In fact, it's looked at violence against women, sexual or otherwise, in what some might say is pitilessly and cynically unnecessary depth and detail.

But it handled it tastefully and unsensationally and in a way that nobody could possibly get off on watching in any kind of creepy, woman-hating way…


But it at least advanced the characters’ progress towards… er…

Well, at least it told us stuff we didn’t know about the characters, like Ramsey’s a sadist and a misogynist, and Sansa can put up with cruel treatment.


Well, it’s good for headlines and ratings, so that justifies it.  I guess.


Well, it was edgy.  ZOMG, they are so hardcore and dark, man.  Yay for them.


In response to watching the silly TV show Salem, I’ve been cursorily boning-up on the actual history of the Salem witch trials. 

The first three accused people were:

1. a black slave,

2. a beggar woman, and

3. a woman who married her former indentured servant, possibly for financial reasons.

It’s almost too perfect. 

A proto-capitalist, patriarchal, colonial society.  What do they fear?  Women who make independent sexual choices, or why try to control money.  The breaching of class boundaries.  The poor and dispossessed.  Black slaves.

The initial accusations were made by young women or girls who were thoroughly indoctrinated and submerged within the ideological thoughtworld of their high-status parents, and their society. 

They went for suspects they knew would be believable to others.  They went for the stigmatised and mistrusted.

What you have there is the refracted terror of the ruling class towards their own oppressed groups.

Secret Reality


The last episode of The Blacklist was hilarious.  Red describes an international cabal - comprised of people in government and the private sector - who run the world behind the scenes, start wars, control the media, kill to protect their power, etc.  It’s supposed to be so edgy.  Dark, terrifying conspiracy.  He has to get loads of investigate journos to attend his briefing in secret.  They’re all stunned by what he says.  But… he’s just describing the ruling class!  Seriously, the ‘Cabal’ is just the capitalist military-industrial-media-government complex.  But we’re supposed to be shocked by the existence of this group.  Once informed about it, the Washington Post runs a front page story telling everyone of the breaking news.  SHOCK NEW REVELATION: SMALL NUMBER OF POWERFUL PEOPLE ARE POWERFUL AND GET UP TO STUFF FURTHERING THEIR OWN POWER WITHOUT TELLING US!  The evil director of the CIA looks at the paper in horror, like he’s thinking “oh no, now everyone knows!”  It’s like structuring the big, dramatic denouement of a drama series around the astonishing revelation that water is wet, and having all your characters suddenly back away in terror from any rivers or taps they happen to be standing next to.

On the other hand, I can't help thinking this is still more charged than a story in which such facts of life are ignored.  Even presented as an outlandish, shocking revelation, it's still presented.  Even framed as a surprise, it's still there.  

Reminds me of the best Bond film ever, Quantum of Solace, in which a bunch of corporations, eco-businesses, military hardmen and Western politicians are presented as members of a secret criminal cartel who are trying to take over Bolivia's water reserves.  Now this basically happened in the real world.  The film depicts it as an evil secret conspiracy that MI6 wants to stop.  It also depicts Quantum as sneakily damming up loads of water to create an artificial shortage.  But it basically connects with the real world, albeit distantly.  It's far more connected to the real world than anything in the follow-up movie Skyfall (which is total shit, by the way, both politically and as entertainment).  Quantum of Solace also connects with the idea that powerful Western interests are behind politically-motivated Right-wing coups in South America... which is just one of those things that any sensible person takes for granted as an established historical truth, but which the mainstream media treats as a bizarre revelation.  But Quantum of Solace at least acknowledges it.  The movie puts the evil secret conspiratorial organisation behind such things rather than, y'know, the CIA and the US government... though it does have the CIA complicit in Quantum's machinations, even if it is because one CIA guy is a rotten apple.

Is this subversive?  Of course not.  It's gatekeeping.  It acknowledges things about the real world that people either know about or strongly suspect.  It then packages them in the classic methods of containment of such incendiary truths.  Bad Apple Theory.  Conspiracy Theory (which works either way - either as instant dismissal or as an obfuscation of the structural and legal nature of most real conspiratorial shenanigans).  Etc, etc.

On the other hand, I think the capitalist culture industries may underestimate the potential ultimate result of such things.  When such things become common knowledge, something that people all take for granted, even in a watered-down and ideologically-neutered form, that tells us something.  Loss of any confidence in the current state of the world may not start any fires, but it does erode. This isn't what the capitalist culture industries want to do.  It's something they have to do in order to appear even superficially plausible.

As I say, it's gatekeeping.  But the thing about gatekeeping is that it constitutes an acknowledgement that the gate is somewhat insecure, and that there are people who want to break through it.

Also, James Spader kicks it.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Yay for voting! Ain't democracy just peaches!

Off out to vote today on who runs the civil service... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who runs the police... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who runs the army... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who runs the corporations... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who owns and runs the media... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who runs the BBC... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today for a non neoliberal party with a chance of winning... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today for a big party staunchly opposed to imperialist warmongering... oh, no, hang about, there aren't any are there?

Off out to vote today for a big party committed to saving us from environmental disaster... oh, no, hang about, there aren't any are there?

Off out to vote today for someone who represents my relation to production... oh, no, hang about, we vote in geographical blocs, don't we?

Off out to vote today on who runs the judiciary... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who owns most of the land and property in the UK... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who owns and runs the banks... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Off out to vote today on who gets to use economic clout to lobby politicians... oh, no, hang about, we're not allowed to do that are we?

Yay, every four or five years I get to participate - very indirectly, if I'm lucky - in an electoral system rigged against the expression of unified working class interests! 

I get a tiny, very occasional say in choosing which team of essentially identical managers cares for neoliberalism under a vastly unaccountable government system hugely influenced by private interests!  

I get to slightly influence one lever of power, while almost every other lever of power in the system is nearly entirely undemocratic and unaccountable!  

This is what the Chartists fought and died for!  [It isn't.]

Yay for democracy!

Remember, if you don't vote, you've got no right to complain.

Commenting on Three Doctors

Phil Sandifer and I have created another set of episode commentaries, this time for 'The Three Doctors'.  It's a fun set of tracks, largely because about half way through I abandon any attempt to be serious and just start giggling and pissing about.

Download the whole thing in a zip file here, or have a look at Phil's post.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

This Irregularity Has Been Recorded

Doctor Who frequently did stories which critiqued capitalism to one degree or another.  But there's an interesting dialectical twist to this, which is that it usually cloaked such critiques in the aesthetics of (for want of a better term) 'totalitarianism'.

It begins, arguably, with 'The Macra Terror'... though so much of what that story does 'first' is actually just being done openly and consciously for the first time.  Other examples include (most graphically) 'The Sun Makers', 'Vengeance on Varos', and 'The Happiness Patrol'.  I'd argue for a few others to go on the list, but these are the most obvious examples.  'The Beast Below' carried on the tradition, as did 'Gridlock' before it (albeit mutedly).  Yet many of these stories have been subject to readings which interpret them as right-wing and/or libertarian attacks on aspects of socialism and/or statism (often assumed to be synonymous).  I might even (overall) support such a reading in some cases.  'The Beast Below', for example, is a story which critiques aspects of the capitalist world, but which (to my mind) ends up supplying more alibis than indictments - partially through its use of totalitarian/statist tropes.  I think the thing that leaves them open to such readings is their 'totalitarian' aesthetic.  The (myopic, ideologically-distorted) view of socialism which sees it as inherently coercive and statist can grab hold of the aesthetically magnified symbols of statism which litter these stories.

I think this tendency to wrap critiques of capitalism in totalitarian aesthetics comes from the influence of the Nigel Kneale / Rudolph Cartier TV version of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which starred Peter Cushing.

 Stylistically, this production appears to have been deeply influential to the rising generation of programme-makers who would write and design Doctor Who in the 60s.  The totalitarian affect pioneered visually in that production gets embedded in Doctor Who's internal semiotic repertoire as a stock way of expressing worries about social freedom.

This isn't surprising at all, since the aesthetics of totalitarianism have proven a popular and enduring way of expressing such worries in the wider culture, as the proliferation of SF dystopias has shown.  They're now almost a basic, fallback position for YA books and films.

But we need to do more than just gesture to a particularly influential production.  That's not enough.  It's not an explanation.  You can't just say 'this production here was influential'.  That's just begging the question.  The real question is: why was it influential?  What was it about it that made its aesthetics stick so hard?

I think the answer actually lies back in the book.  Much of the horror of the book is the everyday horror of squalor - whether it be the squalor of coldness and dirt and forced 'healthiness', or the moral squalor of everyday ideological management.  Orwell gets the former from his experiences of public school (which he wrote about elsewhere with loathing) and the latter from his experiences of working within the BBC.  Even Newspeak is derived from work he did for the BBC World Service in India.  The book is also obsessed with the horror of poverty, whether it be the relative poverty of the lower middle classes scraping by in an austere world of rations and shortages, or the more absolute poverty of the proletariat.

Oceania is a howl of disgust at the world Orwell came from as much as it's a parodic howl of fear at the rise of totalitarianism.  In his gorge, he felt the nauseating similarity of the collectivist oligarchies of public school, British imperial police, BBC, and Stalinist Party.  Indeed, part of how he was able to speculate so accurately about what it was like to live in Stalinist societies is owing to his experiences of living within hierarchical structures of coercion within his own society.  He sees the sanctimonious regulation of life within totalitarian structures like the Stalinist Party clearly because they chime with his experiences of public school and bourgeois middle-class life.  Exactly the resonance which attracted so many British middle-class intellectuals to Stalinist organisation repelled Orwell.  He runs like fuck while they happily reintegrate... and yet he is irresistibly drawn to write about it.  (A powerful psychological substrata in Orwell's work is a feeling of irrisistible attraction to things that horrify.)

It's not hard to see how the kinds of neurotic feelings of attraction/repulsion which animated Orwell might also animate a later generation of educated, British BBC men, usually from some level of the middle class, and often themselves public school educated.

Robert Holmes in particular (writer of, most pertinently for this essay, 'The Krotons', 'The Sun Makers','The Deadly Assassin' and 'The Caves of Androzani') has peculiar echoes of Orwell.  He was in Burma during the war and was then a policeman before he worked for the BBC.  Orwell was a colonial policeman in Burma before he worked for the BBC.  I don't know if Holmes went to public school (nobody - not even his biographer - seems to know where he went to school), but he certainly endured army life and Hendon Police College.

Ian Stuart Black, author of 'The Macra Terror', attended Daniel Stewart's College in Edinburgh.

He then joined the RAF at the outbreak of World War II and worked in intelligence in the Middle East.

I'm not saying Black loathed public school and the RAF.  I don't know how he felt about them.  What I'm saying is that he's an example of a BBC man of that generation, and he lived in hierarchical structures similar to the ones Orwell lived in, owing to their similar class positions and careers.

But we need to go a little deeper still.

Why does Nineteen Eighty-Four, when rendered as a TV show by the BBC, come to wield such influence?  It must be more than the fact that the book's depiction of cold showers, hectoring compulsary P.E., pious sanctimony, and ideologically-drenched clerical work, resonated with a bunch of the corporation's talented hacks.

On a superficial level, it's because the Kneale script subtly tweaks the story to make it more like SF than Orwell's more Swiftian approach. On a less superficial level - and this is what I really wanted to get to - it's because totalitarian societies are also capitalist.

It could hardly be otherwise.  Totalitarianism (not a word I'm fond of, but it'll do for now as a placeholder to denote something we all recognise) depends upon the industrial, economic and political developments of capitalism to exist.  It depends upon modern industry, classes divided by their relation to production, the bourgeois family, the standing army, imperialism, a standing police force, bureaucracy, a strong state, central government, etc.

The workers' state would also depend upon such things, but as a springboard rather than a prop.  The workers' state would pull itself up on top of such things the better to bury them.  The Stalinist state was a failed workers' state.  It was unable to transcend the bourgeois mode owing to the undeveloped nature of the Russian forces of production, relative scarcity, outside attack, a devastating civil war (started as a war of aggression by the Western powers), and isolation after the failure of the German Revolution.  By contrast, the fascist states in both Germany and Italy (and in a more mediated way in Spain) arose as direct reactions against more-or-less revolutionary threats to unstable national capitalisms.  (This is why I don't really like the term 'totalitarian' as it pays too much attention to superficial aesthetic similarities at the expense of embracing an ahistorical narrative.  The 'fascists' in Russia were the West-sponsored White counter-revolutionaries.)  The Nazis arose in Germany as a form of class collaboration between those bourgeois forces which felt threatened by Communism and the insurgent German working class.  The failure of German workers and socialists to pre-empt or defeat this reaction is a huge part of what led to the isolation of the workers' state in Russia and its subsequent degeneration into Stalinism.  The people who made the Russian Revolution knew full well they would be doomed to fail if world revolution didn't spread to more-developed allies.

Stalinist Russia was state capitalist.  It never became socialist or communist in the Marxist sense.  It was a workers' state which degenerated into an extreme form of state capitalism through historical contingency - isolation, attack, civil war, the rise of a bureaucratic layer following the near-elimination of the working class, etc.  (I was never a member of the now deservedly self-ruined SWP, but I broadly accept their theoretical standpoint on state capitalism.)

Thing is... all capitalist states are state capitalist to some degree.  This sounds like an obvious tautology, but you'd be amazed how many people buy the idea that capitalism is something fundamentally seperate from the state, capable (at least theoretically) of subsisting without it.  Much as the ideologues of capitalism like to pretend that individual freedom is the essence of capitalism, the truth is that capitalism is actually impossible without massive state intervention and support.

This has never been more true than now, in the age of neoliberalism when the state has supposedly been rolled back.  The state works tirelessly to keep the peace and order of capitalist social systems, to manufacture ideological and material complicity, and to redistribute wealth upwards from the working class and into the hands of private capital.  That's what Austerity is, for instance: another form of neoliberal praxis for creating the trickle-up-effect.

The state and society are not seperate things, the latter superimposed upon the former, or squatting on top of it like some kind of malevolent succubus - a mistake made commonly by libertarians, liberals and some varieties of anarchist.  The state is part of society.  It is a superstructural emanation.  It is that part of class society which coercively regulates the order, reproduction and stability of the system.  It positions itself and discourses about itself as something above and seperate from society, yet morally responsive and responsible to it.  The truth is the exact opposite.

You can see the crucial role of the state very clearly by looking at the state now, but you can perhaps get even more clarity via historical distance, which thins out at least some of the ideolgical fug.  When you look at the capitalist states in and around the era of the Great Depression, you see an intense process of increasingly conscious and sophisticated state fusion with capital (this, of course, is the essence of capitalist imperialism... and so is hardly unrelated to the outbreak of World War).

The Nazi state utilised heavy state control and investment, even as it allied with and supported national bourgeois class allies, in order to stimulate the economy and build up imperial capability.  The Stalinist state was a state involved in breakneck industrialisation.  That's why its horrors are so intense and drastic - they concertina the horrors of primitive accumulation, industrial revolution and early imperialist acquisition (all of which happened in Europe during the rise of capitalism) down into a compressed few decades of frenzied misery.  You see it in America, perhaps most clearly when the US state stepped in to keep the tottering economic and financial sytem going, and to divert popular anger and resistance into state-funded stimulus packages (ie the 'New Deal'... which, incidentally, did much less to solve the Depression than arms spending and monopolisation). 

Orwell was not a theoretically sophisticated thinker, and he certainly wasn't a neo-Trot avant la lettre.  But he did understand (as Homage to Catalonia makes clear) that Stalinism and fascism were actually both forms of state capitalism... or, at least, of exploitative hierarchy with oppressed working classes.  Nineteen Eighty-Four makes it clear that the working classes still exist and their labour is still exploited, very much as it always was.  Part of the point of the book is that nowhere near as much has changed as the Party says has changed.  One of the neglected subplots involves Winston trying to question 'Proles' about whether life is really different now.  The indications are that they don't think so.

I think this is why the SF-inflected version of Nineteen Eighty-Four turned out to be so useful to Doctor Who.   It's SF, so the show can co-opt it.  And it's based on a fundamental recognition of the similarity of oppression in capitalist and 'totalitarian' systems, the difference being one of degree.

This is the deep cultural reason why the aesthetics of Nineteen Eighty-Four (via Kneale and Cartier when it comes to Doctor Who) get utilised in so many subsequent texts which employ the dystopian mode to express anxieties about social freedom.  The story provides a logic that can express the essential syngergy of two supposedly inimical systems.  This surfaces in 60s Doctor Who - perhaps most explicitly in 'The Macra Terror' - because of the cultural context of the times.  Because of protestors beaten and tear-gassed by Western police forces who look worryingly like the Thought Police.  Because of the seeping in of ideas originated by people like Eric Fromm and Herbert Marcuse... and yes, even by Trotsky and the New Left.  It's important to remember that Fromm - a Marxist (on the whole) and a critic of both Western capitalism and Soviet Communism - was a bestselling writer a decade before 'Macra' was written.  Fromm stresses alienation whereas Marcuse - also a trendy big-selling theorist - stresses control, but the cornerstone of Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man is his articulation of paralells between Western capitalist culture and the culture of the Soviet Union, and his critique of bureaucratic management in both systems.  It was published in 1964.

There is much to be said about both these thinkers, and I would not endorse either of them without heavy caveats (to say the least), but the point here is that from a position of popular as well as academic fame, thinkers and ideas such as these were seeping into the wider mainstream culture of an increasingly uneasy post-war capitalism.  This capitalism dwelt under the shadow of malaise, Vietnam, nuclear bombs, the revolt of colonised peoples against Western oppression, civil rights protests against institutionalised racism, popular rebellion amongst the young against war, and authoritarian police repression.

As 'The Macra Terror' understands, cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing.  People in 'free' societies increasingly saw, at least on some level, the tesselation between what happened under so-called Communism and what happened at home.

People always talk about The Prisoner in relation to 'The Macra Terror', and that's probably because both feature systems of repression cloaked in... or rather structurally identical with... some kind of holiday resort aesthetic.  The Village is a more middle class resort whereas the Colony is - as is well understood - a sort of working class holiday camp.  But the deep connection between the two - beyond the material connection of Ian Stuart Black and Patrick McGoohan - is that the kitsch quasi-authoritarianism of structured leisure chimes with the kitsch actual-authoritarianism of repressive regimes, which include state-designed and state-monitored forms of entertainment.  This happens because private capitalist forms of leisure which cater to the working classes in 'democratic' societies are as integrated into hierarchy as entertainment in 'totalitarian' societies, if less officially.  Both feature forms of regimentation and containment appropriate to the organisation of the social lives of workers, with the appropriateness determined in an essentially inhuman method derived from the need to keep psychological discipline.  At the risk of sounding paranoid and conspiratorial (because I think this happens largely as a self-organising, emergent property of hegemony), holiday camps were the way they were because they catered for people who needed to be happy to go back to work and follow orders again once the holiday was over.

As with Marcuse and Fromm, I wouldn't want to endorse Patrick McGoohan as a thinker without heavy caveats (one of the pleasures of writing this particular blog is that I can write sentences like that) but I will mention one scene from The Prisoner.  It's the scene where Leo McKern's Number 2 tells Number 6 that he sees the whole world becoming (in the phrase 6 supplies for him) "as the Village".  2 says it will happen when the "two sides" (of the Cold War) "look across at each other and realise they are both looking into a mirror".

Be seeing you.

Friday, 1 May 2015

May is Macra Madness Month (Shabcast 5)

Fraternal May Day greetings to all workers by hand or by brain, all socialists, and all anarchists.  Have a good one, comrades.  And implacable hatred, opposition and ill-will to all capitalists and their class allies.  Boo, hiss, etc. 

This month, both the Pex Lives Podcast and the Shabogan Graffiti Podcast are covering the classic 60s Doctor Who adventure 'The Macra Terror' by Ian Stuart Black, sadly junked long ago, and represented nowadays only by a soundtrack and a reconstruction

Shabcast 5 (download or listen here) sees me joined by my longstanding online buddy, actor Elliot Chapman, who also happens to have recently been cast as the new Ben Jackson by Big Finish.  The Early Adventures will be available soon, and will feature Elliot alongside Anneke Wills and Frazer Hines.

Elliot is so smart and erudite that he seems to be on some kind of mission to singlehandedly disprove the old stereotype about actors being thick.  And he likes my blog, which proves he's clever.  Our chat was fantastic fun, and I've had to edit it down savagely to make the episode anything approaching a reasonable length... but this means I've got loads of good offcuts, which may appear in later Shabcasts as something in the manner of 'deleted scenes'.

This Shabcast is possibly the most shabgraffy Shabcast yet, i.e. lots of Doctor Who and lots of politics... as well as unrestrained ramblings from both of us about stuff as diverse as complicity, conspiracy, CRPGs, The Prisoner (of course), Herbert Marcuse, Universal horror films, Abbott and Costello, Marshall Berman, the Nazi's Degenerate Art Exhibition and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Should keep you nice and distracted as you toil in the pits.

Shabcast 6 (which will be along later this month) will be Phil Sandifer and myself continuing our discussion about the fascists and the Hugo awards.

Also look out for our forthcoming commentary tracks for 'The Three Doctors'.

Shabcast 7 is already recorded and waiting for its June release.  That's going to be a special one.


Here's my previous writing about 'The Macra Terror', a story I appear to be slightly obsessed with:
Skulltopus 3: Yes We Have No Macra

Skulltopus 6: Macra Revisited

Happy Workers



Also, here are links to all my previous audio stuff:

Shabcast 4 (Second part of my interview with Josh Marsfelder)
Shabcast 3 (the emergency anti-fascist Hugo-awards edition with Andrew Hickey and Phil Sandifer)
Shabcast 2 (First part of interview with Josh Marsfelder)
Shabcast 1 (Interview with Phil Sandifer)

'Mind Robber' commentaries (I join Phil)
'The Rescue' commentaries (I join Phil)
These are best listened to while watching the stories, as long as you've seen them once before.  If you're very familiar with the stories, you can listen to them on their own.

Pex Lives Frankenstein podcast (I join Kevin and James, and Gene Mayes)
Pex Lives TV Movie podcast (Myself and Josh join Kevin and James)