On Disruptions and Defeats

Of all the memorable scenes in Boots Riley’s enchantingly bizarre Sorry to Bother You, the most politically salient is when union organizer Squeeze (Steven Yeun) tells the fuming, disillusioned Cash (Lakeith Stanfield) why simple awareness isn’t enough. To truly puncture the veneer of spectacular (mis-)information, you need to cut off its ability to reproduce itself. “If you get shown a problem, but have no idea how to control it,” he says, “then you just decide to get used to the problem.”

California Is Coming for You

It would appear that Joe Biden will have his honeymoon period after all. I’ll confess, I was ready for it to be vanishingly small, largely because Trump and his millions of minions were on the offensive, however increasingly embattled they felt. Now in the aftermath of January 6th they’ve scattered, in some cases turning on each other and Trump. They’ll be back, and sooner than we might think, but for now they are frustrated and chastened, unable to build on their success. Trump is, compared to even a month ago, isolated. His staunchest supporters in Congress are starting to get a sense of what they’re up against, relying on increasingly performative batshit to keep themselves in the headlines.

The Future Is a Cruelty

Comparisons between Protomartyr and the Fall are so commonplace they’re almost trite. Almost, but not quite. Joe Casey inhabits a great many of the musico-poetic roles that listeners loved in Mark E. Smith: sarcastic ambivalence that could unexpectedly give way to sincerity, a talent for the vivid grotesque, the aura of a madman carnival barker harnessing the existential circus.

The Necessity of History, the Tragedy of Aesthetics

When we tear down statues, it is an attempt to alter the trajectory of history. Not history as just “what has happened,” which we can never change as much as reinterpret. No, this is history as a great unfolding, as something that is taking place and will take place on one route or another depending on what is done in this moment. You can hear it in the reactions of the right. In their barely contained apoplexy, their cries of “you can’t erase history,” they are, however unwittingly, announcing that there is consequence to how that history is experienced in the here and now.

From Plague to Rebellion

Already the air is febrile, anxious, begging to move. It is easy to find the demonstration, with so many walking in the direction of the park. Everyone wears masks. Most wear black, many carry signs: “George Floyd did not deserve to die,” “ACAB,” “Fuck12,” “Defund police,” and, of course, “Black Lives Matter.” A police helicopter hums overhead, the first of at least five we will see over the next few hours.

Detroit’s Exterminating Angel

Before RoboCop was released in theaters thirty years ago this month, it was given an X rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. Director Paul Verhoeven, knowing that this was guaranteed box office death, went back and scrubbed his film no fewer than eleven times trying to achieve its eventual R rating. He toned down at … Continue reading Detroit’s Exterminating Angel