Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’



Posted: November 26, 2016 in -
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The America you know and love. We’re number one.
Shoppers in Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee shot on Black Friday

At least six people were shot across the country during Black Friday sales, including a Walmart customer who died in a fight over a parking space.

Four separate shootings — at a New Jersey Macy’s, two Tennessee malls and a Nevada Walmart — killed two people and wounded four more. All the attacks happened outside of the stores as holiday shoppers inside loaded up on door busters and deals.






Never a fan of Sofia Coppola, I find her films long, tedious and with a warped take on class and privilege.  As a child of money and privilege herself, I can’t shake the feeling of being manipulated.  A cat’s paw seems to hover above the frame of her movies.

Bling Ring is no different, of course.  In fact, this could be Coppola’s most direct hammer to brain undertaking.  It does seem to be based on a pretty good idea.  The trailer revealed that a group of Hollywood high school fame whores go on a petty crime spree to adorn themselves with gaudy, ostentatious clothing and trinkets.


As products of this fame whore society, their actions strike a natural evolutionary kind of chord.  On that front, it’s not such a bad film.  The mindless worship of money and brands leads to bad consequences, okay.  These bimbos are irredeemable and perhaps plausible.  The whole charade seems expected in that world.  People with too much glittery crap than they can keep track of robbed by the wannabes, what could be more natural?

The plot bogs down in the middle, as we’ve already seen robberies and gawking at shoes and jewelry, and so it becomes repetitive pretty rapidly.  We also know something bad will happen, and they’ll get caught; so that’s no surprise.  As usual with Coppola, it’s about the character study, not the plot.

Bling Ring’s concept used Internet surveillance pretty well.  If high school thieves can track famous people on the Internet, using metadata and logistical tips to rob their homes, can anyone imagine what NSA and CIA are capable of doing?

I did not take to the quirky religious nut mom thread.  Her oddness is inserted to distract from the obvious, that these Hollywood climbers are the norm and not a product of some aberrant philosophy or religion.  It was a bit too out of left field and irrelevant.


I also couldn’t let the trademark fake rawness just slide.  Coppola is the one who throws punk rock onto Marie Antoinette, in a sort of pathetic attempt to appear edgy.  Here the sin is almost as egregious.  For the opening credits she takes a loud pop/techno track and then deliberately distorts the entire mix.  The result is hideous noise, offensive to the ears, and not in a musical way.  It’s offensive in a manipulative post-production crank an electronic effect too far way.

Similarly, she shoots several daytime shots with completely clipped, blown out footage.  This is someone with all the money to shoot it correctly that one could possibly need.  The cutting corners Youtube quality is a shallow attempt to establish credibility.  The bouncy handheld camera during the opening robbery is similarly fake.  It’s not a terrible idea to have a visceral movement for such a scene, but the way it was executed was too in your face obvious.

A lot of images are in your face obvious, and there is certainly no subtlety to be found.  Does Bling Ring tell us something about generations raised on TMZ and TV gossip?  Does it indict this shallow, mindless view?  Eh.




Another view of Black Friday



Roger Ebert famously called Fight Club a “fascist movie,” but I don’t actually agree with this assessment.

“’Fight Club’ is the most frankly and cheerfully fascist big-star movie since ‘Death Wish,’ a celebration of violence in which the heroes write themselves a license to drink, smoke, screw and beat one another up.”
–Roger Ebert

This is a comment on the style of parts of the narrative, not the substance, what I believe is truly behind the acting out.  Fight Club does not promote fascism, and that seems like a very odd determination.  What it does do is set up the natural conflict between order and chaos, society and anarchy.  The stifling banality of consumerism strips modern man of his primal nature, but the more he is controlled and ordered, the greater the need to turn to barbarism, mindless violence, war.  This dichotomy is behind Fight Club, and is expressed in several ways, not all of them crystal clear either.

The movie does meander in parts, losing steam here and there, jumping about in its direction, which can be frustrating.  A lot of ideas are included, some which work better than others.  There is also a fantasy element to confuse one even further.

A far from perfect film but even Ebert acknowledged that the intent of the narrative may diverge significantly from what some audience members may take from it.  Can we see and absorb what we choose to from a film like this?


Propaganda, publicity, glamour, image, reality, a critique of the consumerist society where one’s worth is determined by what one buys. Multi part series, may jump ahead automatically.


Idiocracy on DVD


(Article orginally appeared on Counterpunch)

In a time when one literally has to argue that exploding nuclear power plants really do pose grave risks to human health — against people with letters after their names — the case could easily be made that we’re already living in an Idiocracy.  As Japan finds itself irradiated and helpless to stop the radioactive isotopes escaping from multiple reactors, still the President of the United States refuses to put a halt to expanding the nuclear industry here.

Take that snapshot, that microcosm of what’s wrong with the world today and expand it out to the food chain, the rainforests, the air we breathe, the drinking water we ingest, the chemicals sprayed on our lawns and between the cracks of concrete.  In every facet of our lives compromises have been made for us, often without our knowledge or consent.  In the case of genetically-modified crops the government has long abdicated its responsibility and refuses to regulate.  Genes from God-knows-where co-exist with the natural genes in all manner of foodstuffs.  These foods are deliberately thrown into the food chain in a manner that we cannot know what’s in it, where it came from, or what it does to lab rats.  We’re the lab rats!

It’s unsurprising that the invisible poisons and genetic experiments can be force fed us when people willingly choose to ingest all sorts of unhealthy junk.

Which leads me, hamfistedly, back to Mike Judge’s comedy/sci-fi Idiocracy, a film that takes these trends to their logical conclusions.

There are many factors to consider when a great film doesn’t turn a large profit.  Idiocracy does not appear to have done well financially despite being one of the funniest satires of American consumer culture ever produced.

Idiocracy is so bold and so outrageous that it could potentially have alienated its own potential audience.  The target, throughout the film, could be considered stupid people, even people of “average” intelligence who live meaningless lives of convenience and just getting along.  This may have been too close to home for a large swath of American movie ticket purchasers.  Or perhaps the studio marketing gang didn’t like the message and simply failed to promote it? *