August 7, 2009

Little Red Guards Attend A Repudiation Meeting

This is an actual translated song title from of an old record of Chinese Children's Songs. I'm not making that up. Children's song. Little Red Guards Attend A Repudiation Meeting.

That's just awesome.

Meanwhile, here are a few random links and quick film review:

Thatbestkept helpfully provides a "sensitive leftist guide to enjoying the Rambo movies."

Michael "Mikey Boy" Mannino has some interesting thoughts in the current issue of Adbusters about the history of analogies between physics and economics. Without necessarily endorsing everything he has to say (particularly in what is, after all, a quick and dirty popularization of some themes that Mannino has developed in a much more rigorous form elsewhere), I will note that he seems to be hitting much the same point made by Marxist economist David Laibman in an interview that went up on the Diet Soap podcast this week: that mainstream economists have re-defined their discipline away from having much of anything to do with actually studying the economy, instead turning it into a weird a priori calculus of rational choice under ideal circumstances.

As they might say on XKCD, fuck that.

Speaking of Diet Soap, the zine's editor, Doug Lain, is the author of some of my favorite short stories. One of them is called The 84 Regress, and it ties together paranoia, nostalgia, some ideas developed by Philip K. Dick in the period of his 'Valis' experience, and commentary on the fact that everyone in the 90s seemed to be constantly popping psychiatric medications. All of this leads to a startling conclusion:

1984 never ended.

Everything that's happened since then is an illusion.

Now that we have a G.I. Joe movie and not one but two Transformers movies, I'm starting to wonder if Lain didn't accidentally stumble on the truth with that premise. Are we, in fact, living in the 80s?

If so, you might as well resign yourself to your fate, adjust your hair style and fashion sense accordingly, then make some popcorn and settle in to watch the sparkling gem of 1980s cinema that is Return Of The Living Dead.

That would, of course, be the relatively little-known sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, made not by Night director George Romero (who went on to make the vastly superior Dawn Of The Dead) but by Dan O'Bannon. It's relatively little known compared to Romero's movies, anyway, but it did have its own impact on American pop culture. It convinced everyone that zombies eat brains!

Remember, Romero's zombies don't show any evidence of thinking, much less talking. They shamble, and they try to eat people, and that's that. They certainly don't show any particular preference for brains over any other part of the human body. O'Bannon's zombies, on the other hand, walk, talk, trick people, and, crucially, constantly scream for brains. "Brains!" The movie features a particularly awesome scene in which a disembodied head and torso calmly explains that she likes to eat brains because eating them helps alleviate "the pain of being dead."

So, just to be clear: This is a dumb movie. It is to Night Of The Living Dead or Dawn Of The Dead as one of those vampire romances they sell in the supermarket checkout line is to Dracula. The action is schlocky, the plot excuse for the mandatory tit shot is among the flimsiest on record, and the teenage characters in particular are so far from acting or talking like real human people that it's tempting to interpret them as members of some other species.


That said.

Somehow, despite myself, I ended up liking it. The tone was just right. It knew exactly what it was and didn't take itself seriously, there was a lot of fun clockwork plotting in that 'everything we set up in the first reel will come back in the last one' kind of way and the ending had a beautifully pulpy joy de'vivre to it. So, hey, if you've already watched all of the Romero movies and 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead, and you need your zombie movie fix, you could do worse.

Well, that's all the time we have for today, but if you watch the movie and follow the links, all that should keep you entertained until we talk again next week. Have fun!

Oh, and do like the children's song says, and "repudiate Lin Piao and discredit him completely."

1 comment:

David said...

You know Dan O'Bannon first came to some form of fame through writing "Alien"?