"Revolution is not for the faint of heart. It is for monsters. You have to lose who you are to discover what you can become." -Hardt and Negri

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chainsaw Exorcism With Henry Thompson The Creative Director Behind The Zombie Flick Too Young Too Die

Could you tell me about yourself and Too Young Too Die?

My name is Henry Thompson, one third of the Thompson brothers (Three like-minded, un-related filmmakers who have become a real family through making movies), I’m an American displaced in the UK and I’m the creative director of Eze as Pi Productions. We’re a low budget film group in the North East of England. We’ve made several short films in the past and have one self-funded feature film in post-production.

In the midst of turning my dream of being a filmmaker into a reality, I’ve also had a variety of jobs including Photographer, web-designer, graphic artist, grill master, envelope packer, Apple Technical support and HP printer specialist.

Too young to die is a film about what happens to a group of children left alone in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak. All alone, how do they survive? With that question comes a hundred possibilities. No adults around for supervision, how do they move forward? They have no one to correct them, lead them, teach them, and protect them. They are fending for themselves through an impossible situation. And they inevitably for lack of a better term have to grow up or die trying.

Could you tell me a little about your role and contribution to the film?

Being the creative director just means that the guys come to me with anything they want to do, I polish it and give final say before pen goes to paper or it goes out the door. I also do a final writing pass on anything we make. When it comes to filming; I executive produce and do director of photography on all of our projects, as I did with the teasers for Too Young to Die. The three of us Co-Wrote and Co-Directed both trailers and I edited them.

With the Too Young to Die script, Wayne Thompson brought me the idea and at first I was like “no way man! No! I can’t stand zombies anymore!” Because there are so many zombie stories kicking around these days, I didn’t want to hop on any bandwagons. But then he pitched that it would be just a group of kids. That clicked with me and I could see all kinds of unique scenarios to throw them into.

James Thompson and I plotted out the core events from there and decided the order of things. We co-wrote the second draft, got notes from Wayne and then I did a final pass, adding a few scenes. Overall my main goal was to make sure the kids all felt real, fleshed out and honest and they didn’t fall into all the typical zombie story tropes. I wanted this to feel as fresh as possible.

I especially wanted this movie to have a resonance beyond the visceral “kids in supernatural danger” elements and there is some stuff in here I hope will bring people back to watch the movie again and again – not just for the pure horror and blood and guts.

What it is like to make Too Young Too Die?

It’s tough, but exciting!

Writing the script was very difficult in the sense that knowing these are kids its hard to strike a good balance between-
a: being real and showing the kids are mortal and can die,
b: trying to appease horror fans by showing blood and guts and
c: trying to justify what isn’t shown.
In the end there is quite a bit of violence and heart break, but it should never feel exploitive. Just real. It was also hard to figure the kids’ mind frames. They won’t act like adults so their decisions are not always the most logical. (Then again, how many adults and teens run up the stairs instead of go out the front door in horror flicks?)

With the teasers we’ve shot, we did it like any other production, we set the scene and light it and its planned and we turn the cameras on – but when we filmed the last teaser and we have this 12 year old kid sitting in a pool of blood holding his dead father’s hand, and we’re asking him to cry and wipe his tears and blood is going over his face and he is scared out of his wits that his dead is moving and reaching for him… It really hit home that this movie will be full of images that on paper are interesting or shocking – but brought to life are truly haunting. This got us pretty excited and maybe I’m too old to understand now but the kids loved it! They really enjoyed going so dark and getting to mess with blood and prop knives and all this stuff.

And of course asking for crowd sourcing, which wasn’t our first choice, is difficult because you don’t want to ask people for money but when we’ve approached studios and producers and investors, they all loved the idea but they all wanted to buy it, not make it. We’ve put our feelings, love, blood, sweat and tears into this film and our company and to sell it and risk it never getting made – or even worse, seeing the movie come out and the kids are helped along by a talking dog or even a middle aged guy, it would kill what we’ve tried to do. So it’s a tough road to travel, but we feel it’s the only way.

When I saw the Too Young Too Die funding pitch, I thought, “That’s an awesome idea! Sandlot with zombies!” Where did the idea come to make a zombie flick using kids?

Haha, I love the reference. Sandlot – what a classic! We’ve been describing it as Lord of the flies meets Night of the living dead, but I might have to start saying that!

Wayne came to me with the idea, and he tells me… He was doing a short film freelance for another team, providing a makeup job and was designing a zombie model which was to be destroyed on camera. His daughter Darienne (Who is featured in our first teaser trailer) was watching him. She was only seven at the time and just offhandedly asked him: “So dad. You know when the zombie’s come and take over things? You’re going to be there to protect me and Kyle right?” And he of course said he will – but then it hit him. What if he couldn’t even though he wanted to. For all the best intentions in the world, how can you know you’ll be there. And if you weren’t, how would his kids fare? Would Darienne be able to keep herself safe? At seven there is a lot she doesn’t know about the world…

What did you learn about yourself as you were working on Too Young Too Die? What might viewers learn about themselves?

Well, for us, as a team we’ve had a lot of hardships over the last few years and anyone keen eyed will noticed a couple of years gap on our resumes because of it, but through doing this script, our recent short films and our trailers – our dreams, aspirations and feelings toward our work has been strengthened. The proudness and satisfaction with the finished script and the reviews we’ve had so far, it all just keeps us fighting as hard as we can to get this movie funded and made. We’ve had a ton of responses to people really enjoying the idea, trailers and script. We are entertainers and without the ability to entertain, we’re nothing. This helped us realize that more than ever.

With this movie, Too Young to Die, what we hope viewers will take away from it is a memorable experience. I hope they question if they could have done what these kids do when they were their ages. And even ask if they could do it now?

Beyond that I hope parents grab their kids tight and hold them close and love them and hope and pray that nothing like this happens to their children. I hope kids look at and realize you’re never too young to rely on yourself. And I hope those without kids just enjoy the ride!

Additionally, there are some elements of the film I think question how guarded children have become in today’s society. A lot of people really treat kids more childishly than they are. We were filming the second trailer and the boy in it, Nathan turned, to me between filming and started asking me questions about making movies and we got into a very in-depth discussion about writers and filmmakers and I stopped myself a moment because I remember thinking… How can you know anything about anything? You’re only twelve! Kids know and feel and understand a lot more than they get credit for.

Where can readers go to find out more?

Too Young to Die
Website: http://www.WeareTooYoungtoDie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeareTooYoungtoDie
Twitter: @Nodyingyoung
Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/too-young-to-die-feature-horror-film

Website: http://www.ezeaspi.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EzeAsPiProductions
Youtube: http://www.Youtube.com/ezeaspi

Check out our first feature Walk Away: http://www.mistakeshauntyou.com

Henry Thompson: @ezeaspi

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Interrogating: Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s: Why Don't They Do It Like They Used To?

The internet has been whining for several decades that remakes are not as good or as scary as the originals. In Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970's and 2000's: Why They Don't Do It Like they Used To by David Roche the original vs. remake argument is thoroughly fleshed out. Roche targets his argument on four pairs of films: Halloween (1978/2007), Dawn of the Dead (1978/2004), The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2007), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974/2003). Unlike the internet, David Roche is a competent philosopher with a ruthless argued set of points that digs into themes at topics such as race, ethnicity, class, the american family, gender, sex, remaking films, monsters, and mask. All the fun topics that horror movies are good at playing with.
This book is ultimately a study of adaptation. Roche, 2014, Loc. 335
Roche demonstrates a deep knowledge of the horror genre and the philosophical apparatuses that he deploys in revealing the depths of all above mentioned film. This text assumes that the reader has at least viewed the four films he uses as examples and a general overview of film studies and philosophy. Unlike the pseudo philosophically texts like the philosophy of the Simpsons, Roche does not seek to insult your intelligence but to expand it. Roche has two main goals in this book; the first is to dig into and argue his thesis that the remakes are less disturbing then the original version and to unearth the cultural contradictions and criticisms that the films present. Making and Remaking Horror's formula is to introduce a topic in each chapter and methodologically dig thought each film one by one. Some many find this process repetitive. Although scenes and characters are returned to several times between chapters they are looked at from interesting new angles.

I thought this book was a great read and left me more then a little jealous. There were several times during the chapters where I thought to myself, "Hey I totally thought that thought when I was watching this film!" What stood out to me was Roche's analysis of the political commentary and conformity of the films. For instance the discussion about political context's of the american wars taking place during the creation of the two version of the Hills Have Eyes. What I took out of it was that the originals were more willing to be commentary and the remakes were more willing to conform to social commentary (excluding Halloween. Roche argued that Halloween was an interesting critique of the slasher, and was more politically intelligent then the other remakes discussed). I recommend this book for horror fans that are philosophers!
To what extent can the politics of these films be described as "disturbing' insomuch as they promote subversive subtexts that undermine essentialist perspectives? Do the politics of the film lie on the surface or are they wedded into the film's aesthetics? Roche, 2014 Loc. 334

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E4 Cherokee Rose and Zombie Dating

Welcome to our journey into the guts of The Walking Dead. What kind of journey? A philosophical, psychoanalytical and political kinda. What I would like to do over the next couple months is dig thought the Walking Dead episode by episode to see what it cant teach us. Thank you for following me on this journey. I look forward to reading your comments. Be forewarned:There are spoilers everywhere.
One rose is an expression of sentiment. A dozen roses is symbolic oppression. - Simone De Beauvior
For how common the concept and practice of dating is in the world, you would think that it had been around for ever. But the practice of dating has only been around for about a hundred years in the United States. In Cherokee Rose Glenn and Maggie skip dating go right to hanky-panky. What kind of trend do you think this is signaling? It's the end of the world and the symbolic network that kept past romantic discourses alive is disintegrating. Is Maggies Sexual forwardness a comment on neo-feminist, or is Maggie just trying to piss off her father like a good southern farm girl should?

The earliest origins of main stream dated are rooted in community festivals. Two hundred years ago people lived in cities and rural areas. In these communities, church and secular festivals were periodically arranged where courting age youth could mingle with each other in a supervised manner. The kind of dancing communities took part in required a set of people to dance the same dance at the same time in sequence. What this created is a situation where men and woman pair up and dance in a unified manner in which constituted and regulated a specific patter of physical and social interaction. For example, line dancing and the marching drills that a unit in boot camp conduct require the same kind of physical discipline. If someone isn't keeping in step their mistake can be observed and redirect by community elders.

Later in bourgeoisie homes a practice called "calling" began to take shape. In this romantic ritual, men would arrive at a ladies home and call on her. The couple would court each other in one of rooms in the home while the parents were home. The couple got to know each other under the snooping ears of the woman's parents. In some Jewish communities, a couple would go out on a date with a friend of one of the couples parents who would chaperone the date. How this would work is the chaperone would follow behind the car the couple is in, and sit a couple tables away while they ate at a restaurant.

The kind of dating we know to day is rooted in the collision of two forces; the forms of dancing that accompanied jazz and women entering the workforce. Before jazz women weren't normally found in bars, nor were bars the mingling place they are today. Bars were a place where men socialized, and the only women that found themselves in bars were strippers or prostitutes. After women entered the workforce they had funding to spend on leisure activities, and at this time the first sit down restaurants. Between then and know cultural norms have changed but the practice of dating has not fundamentally changed. People meet, they talk and they partway or continue connecting.

Today music plays a different role. Music doesn't play the regulatory role in the same way as it had. Music isn't something you preform a ritual to under the social gazes of others in order to conform to a larger romantic discourse. Music is still a regulating force but it takes the form of conforming to consumer life styles. Music then becomes something which we give though mix tapes or cds, or ingest while driving. Talking about music becomes evaluating a potential significant others ability to integrate into ones consumer life style. Music translates to a topography of hair styles, piercing styles, tattoo patterns and leisure activities.

Then comes the internet, and internet dating. Internet dating can be broken into two romantic discourses; the first is before cellphones and the second is after. Before cellphones, individuals would plaster their smiling face into a dating profile, create a brief bio and list their favorite consumer products. After cellphones people would do the same, but the activity was transformed from one in which we would sit in a chair in front of a computer, to one where we were constantly had access to a website via an App. The patters of discourse transformed from the style of writing an email to writing a text.

So at the end of the world, when the romantic discourses have been corroded, and the pizza delivery boy and the farm girl meet dating comes back to where it started, before dating existed. Primal evolutionary drive, and the seeking mates with genetic benefits. The first moment where Maggie shows her affection for Glenn is not when she jumps his bones in the grocery store, it is when Glenn wrangles the obese and soggie zombie in the well. When Glenn's behavior connected to is Maggies evolutionary predisposition to reproduce healthy mates. Glenn showed Maggie's genetics that he is capacity to survive in fight-or-flight situations that he has the capacity not only to survive but conduct complected tasks under pressure. Or, Maggie could just be trying to piss off her father by picking a mate that is furthermost from the ethnicity and socioeconomic class of her family of origin. What do you think?

Resource: Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism by Eva Illouz

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the Reluctant/Hysterical/Oblivious Revolutionary

The deepest irony, and tragedy of the Hunger Games franchise is that it's critique of the state of modern pop culture and oppressive state power is lost on viewer. Yes, the world that Katniss inhabits is cruel and unfair but it is only a movie. One is reminded of the advertising slogan used for Last House on the Left "To keep from fainting keep telling yourself it is only a movie." There is a sense in which the ideology of "it's only a movie," is the key to the cognitive dissidence that compartmentalizes the critique of power in The Hunger Games from be generalized into our lives in the real world. It is as if, because the Hunger Game is fictional narrative the truth located in the subtext becomes fictionalized as well. Below, I will argue that the shift between the first and second film is between Farce and Tragedy, and that Katniss is an ineffective revolutionary because of her relationship with reluctance, hysteria, and obliviousness.

First as Farce, then as Tragedy 
The first Hunger Games film has a whimsical nature that the second film is seeking to undermined through repetition. The narrative in the first film centers around Katniss and her ability to conform to the oppressive and dominate narrative. Each key scene a character is defining her reality for her and telling her who she needs to be in order to comply with the dominate narrative. Haymitch the first character she meets, suggest that Katniss accept her fate and succumb to drunken nihilism. Always the contrarian, Katniss immediately rejects Haymitches perspective and challenges him to fulfill his role as mentor in the regime of power. The most authentic and clear headed of the cast of characters she meets is Cinna, who while expressing sympathy with Katniss's plight only emotionally prepares her for her death sentence. At this point in the film the the beginning of the subtext of Katiness's struggle is reviled. Not only is there a fight to the death awaiting her at the end of her journey, she must fight to develop a political persona which conforms to the masses desire to have their cognitive dissidence reinforced. The pageantry and ritual of game show aspect of the Hunger Games is a constitutive force where viewers distance themselves from the Real by over identification with the players in the game. Katniss in her performance fulfilling her role as a tribute supports the viewers connection to the fiction that supports their imagined community. The dangerous in the community of viewers is that each distinct is socially separated from each other and the only interaction district members have with each other is when they art pitted against each other once a year in the Hunger Games. One is reminded of the disconnect between the Olympic Games and the racist, classist, imperialistic global foreign policy that transpires the rest of the year. Lets make no mistake, the system is invested and profits from our distance from reality.

The second Hunger Games makes explicit the bureaucracy and injustice that keeps the networks of oppression operational. Leading up to a commemorative 75th Hunger Games Katniss and Peeta travel the carnival circuit through the twelve districts of apartheid giving speeches in order to reinforce the importance of the districts distracting them selves from the oppressive reality of their lives struggling to re-produce the social and economic comfort of the 1st district.  One is reminded of the runners carrying the Olympic torch in preparation for the games. One never sees photos of the the runners passing through the slums, shanty towns, ghettos that make up more of the space that humanity lives though then the gated communities and the advertising centers of cultural production like Times Square. It is important to note how the capital frame the scene of the lecture tour. Katniss and Peeta, stand on a platform while the crowd stands in ranks wearing clean uniform. The scene portrays the likable yet fictitious post-class vision to each community about every other community. The likability comes from human desire for adherence to the rules. Say for instance, when district 3 views the Hunger Games news coverage of District 5 four they see their own conformity reflected back at them. The imagined community reinforced itself by becoming full circle.

The tragedy in the second film is made more explicit when Katniss is pulled from her achieved middle class status and and re-inscribed as common proletariat. Yet, there is a certain patronizing element that include in the second film which was not in the first. In the first Hungry Game, Katniss by volunteering to take her sisters place in the Hunger Games was ejected from poverty and inserted into the part-of-no-part. A class of people who are given a temporary place among society and the living, who are not property included or exclude from any specific district.
The Reluctant/Hysterical/Oblivious Revolutionary
In order to show Katniss's decolonization the second film repeats the trials and tribulations of the first film from a more cynicalized perspective. In other words,  Katniss know better, yet, none the less repeats her role the ritual. This is where Katniss oscillates between reluctance, hysteria and obliviousness, all the while her friends and acquaintances are plotting a revolution. The key scene that demonstrates Katiness's reluctance to perceive reality is when in an argument with Gale:
Gale Hawthorne: What if they did? Just one year. What if everyone just stopped watching?
Katniss Everdeen: They won't, Gale.
Gale Hawthorne: What if they did? What if we did.
Katniss Everdeen: Won't happen.
Gale Hawthorne: Root for your favorite, cry when they get killed. It's sick.
Katniss Everdeen: Gale.
Gale Hawthorne: No one watches and they don't have a game. It's as simple as that... what?
Katniss Everdeen: Nothing.
Gale Hawthorne: Fine. Laugh at me.
Katniss Everdeen: I'm not laughing at you!
[starts smiling]
The scene is an argument takes place immediately after Katniss seeks to convince Gale that they should run away together in order to avoid President Snows threat to kill her family and district 13. Katniss's case is build on a selfish conservative position that seeks to avoid conflict, and values me and mines over and beyond the selfish good. Gale on the other hand is a proper revolutionary who values views the material reality of the Hunger Games in the context of the collective suffering impost on the whole. Countering Katniss's political escapism, Gale proposes a general strike on single most powerful medium of control. Katniss is of course radically oblivious to Gales perspective and unable to empathize with him. The tragedy here form me is that Gale seems like a pretty good dude, how could he fall for such a political naive woman? Why can't he see through her and see her beauty to conservative and reactionary heart?

Katniss's obliviousness is most detrimental in two areas; her own emotional intelligence, and her inability to understand the motivations of those closest to her. Katniss demonstrate a crippling level of emotional intelligence in her romantic flip flopping between Peeta and Gayle. In both films, there are moments in which Katniss's emotional state and desire align in order to demonstrate to everyone but herself that she is emotional hysteric. Katniss clings intensely to both Peeta or Gale when ever they trigger her lost relationship with her father. Peeta and Gale have both developed strategies that play off this trauma and trigger Katniss's hysteria. Gale plays the emotionally stable advice giving father figure who taps into Katniss's unconscious desire for someone to gently tell her how to define her reality, and Peeta plays the over protective father who considers her too fragile to protect herself. Between Gale and Peeta there is a complete father for Katniss. No wonder she flip flops between the two.

Katniss's flip flopping between emotional states signals towards her reliance on others (mostly men) to interpret her situation for her, and her inability to cognitively and emotionally commit to her actions until she is presented with a false choice; someone is in a life threatening situation, or another character metaphorically puts a gun to her head to influence her actions. It is only at the end of the second film, when situations beyond her control remove her ability to cognitively and emotionally flip flop between revolutionary/tribute and Peeta/Gale that Katniss develops the clarity she needs to choose between the two. Only when a others make her choices for her that she find it in her self to commit to a path of action.

My deepest concern and what I see as the fundamental flaw in the Hunger Games franchise is that because Katniss is unable to articulate a political persona beyond her own individualized selfish concerns, the film itself reinforces the republican bootstrap ideology that is the dominate narrative in the United States. For instance, if Katniss was political aware and less dependent upon others to develop her emotional state she would likely side with Gale and have joined him and others in revolutionary struggle. Secondly, the viewer would be saved from the superficial drama of the hysterical romance codified by the Twilight series. Maybe, then the viewer could be gifted with a character that present in her own headspace and able to accurately assess the world she lives in. But on the other hand, the average American may not be able to relate to a girl that is emotionally in-tune with her self, able to articulate the chains of her oppression and cast them off.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E3 Save Last One and Does It Matter If God Exists?

Welcome to our journey into the guts of The Walking Dead. What kind of journey? A philosophical, psychoanalytical and political kinda. What I would like to do over the next couple months is dig thought the Walking Dead episode by episode to see what it cant teach us. Thank you for following me on this journey. I look forward to reading your comments. Be forewarned: There are spoilers everywhere.

For the amount of tragedy and death involved in The Walking Dead there are surprisingly few religious references. Most of the God references that come from characters who have have explicitly stated an ambiguous relationship towards God. In Blood Letting Rick belts out a prayer in an empty church while Shane and Carl wait outside. In the prayer he seeks a sign in order to silence the dialog in his own head around his self-esteem. He can't make up his mind if he has the kind of  fidelity a leader needs towards his own actions. In Save Last One, Maggie comes upon Glenn while he is bent over a rocking chair. Here is their conversation:   
Maggie: Are you prayin'?
Glenn: Why do you sneak up on people so much?
Maggie: You are easy to sneak up on.
Glenn: I was Praying. I was trying to.
Maggie: You religious? You Pray a lot?
Glenn: Actually... ah... this is my first try
Maggie: Ever?
Glenn: [Nods Head]
Maggie: Wow. Sorry. I didn't mean to ruin your first time.
Glenn: God probably got the gist.
Maggie: Praying for what?
Glenn: Friends. Looks like they could all use a little help right now... Do you think God Exists?
Maggie: I always took it on faith. Lately I've wondered. Everything that's happened there must have been a lot of prayin' going on. Seems quiet a few went unanswered.
Glenn: Thanks. This is really helping.
Maggie: Sorry. Go ahead really.
Glenn: are you going to watch?
Maggie: I'll get you a refill instead [walks over and picks up Glenn's drink]... I know it's not my business and feel free to believe in God but the thing is you have to make it ok some how. No matter what happens
What does it mean to take the existence of God on faith? This is a complicated question. Existence is a property a thing has in the world such that a relationship is formed with it through language which gives it meaning as a being. Something has being when it can be thrown into language, and is something which is in the world. If a thing is in the world, and can have words attached to it such that it can be communicated then we are talking about a being which exists. God, in so far as we are talking about the general purpose christian God which the Walking Dead implies can be put into language but does not have existence proper. God is not in space and time with other beings. In order for God to exist in a state that is more then the words used to communicate an idea, God would need to have presence in space and time where it could be in direct, measurable and perceptual relationship with a set of individuals who could throw the entity in to language, and be in a spacial and temporal relationship with it. In order for God to exist it would need a minimal level of presence in space and time. In other words, it would need to exist simultaneously and in the same spacial realm along other entities who have verified their existence to each other.

So, what does it mean that Maggie takes the existence of a God on faith? Faith is a relationship towards a statement rooted in conviction, trust, confidence or a enmeshed interplay of these concepts. So for example, trust is an individuals relationship towards a statement rooted in a fidelity in the integrity of the claim. Maggie takes God's existence on faith by trusting in the integrity of a claim that God exists. I'd also argue that Maggie, who woman in a white male patriarchal family is also responding to the roll allocated to her years of being her father's God fearing child. Trust, in this case would be the interplay of Maggie's sociopolitical positioning in her in her family, the religious culture of her family, the southern religious community which she she grew up in, her education, and the level of subjectivization these environments play in foreclosing and promoting a routine of belief. In other words, Maggie's immediate family, and social environment has role in training her capacity to develop faith, and distinguish between claims that require faith and those that do not.

One may argue that set of social relationships that Maggie was born into and grew up enduring do not totalize all that goes into what faith is for her. Maggie has autonomy to make clear decisions about what she is feels deserves faith and what does not. How is this freedom structured for her? Did she choose the choices that she is choosing among? What was encouraged by her family first; The drive towards the freedom to be autonomous and developing the power to critically engage with choice of faith, or was she obligated into a relationship with a church attendance every Sunday? And even if she made a free choice as a toddler, and again as a teenage, and again as a adult, was she given the cognitive tools in order to interrogate statements for integrity, and worthiness of faith? Can faith even describe existence? If I am sharing space and time with a chair I can interrogate its properties. A chair usually has four legs and is sturdy enough to sit on. It can hold a person's weight, and it is designed in such a way where sitting is a reasonable expectation. I can also inspect the chair to see if it is wobbly, and what properties each of its parts are constructed from. Based upon my understanding of each of a chairs properties I can say that I have faith that if I sit on this chair it will not collapse. Now there are also variables here, I could be a man weighing over 300 pounds, and the chair is kids chair made from plastic. If I had level of faith in this plastic to hold my existence on top of it with out collapsing, I would be wrong. And if you interrogated my reasoning for the assumed properties of a chair then you would find a slew of fallacious core beliefs about reality that support faith with out integrity; AKA bad-faith.

What if the chair was not located in the same space and time that I was? Could I look out into the room and say, there is a chair it has X, Y, and Z properties and I could probably sit on it. Sure I could say that, but if I had faith in the chairs existence I would be in bad faith in relation to my to temporal and spacial reality. The same applies for God. Maggie, who has been ruthlessly acculturated, to be in bad faith in relationship to the existence of God is making the claim that she trust the integrity of the statement that 'God Exists' even though the entities internal to the statement do not specially and temporary coincide with her being. So there are one of two potentialities that I see here, either Maggie is using a separate definition of being for her personal experience of being, or she is experiencing psychosis and her perception of the world is not in accord with her existence in it.

Does it Matter if God exists? As far as Maggie is concerned whether God exists is irrelevant. Her argument is rooted in the idea that events intervene into our social and personal narratives that are difficult, and it's not God's role to support our understanding of them, but for us to create our own narrative. So, while Maggie claims she is a theist, she behaves as if she is an Nietzsche-ian. There is no truth in the world, God does not directly intervene in the world, terrible experiences happen and they are senseless, and we suffer them. We can either encode a traumatic experience with a meaning that fits in to our current narrative, or we can create a new narrative to recreate who we are in respect to the trauma that impacts us. God doesn't dirty it's hands in our existential struggles, or how we create meaning out of the meaning resistant experiences we have in our lives. So, if God exists or if God does not exist it doesn't matter, because at the end of the world were all is suffering or survival it is only though our personal and social struggle towards meanings that our lives become relevant. Q.E.D. I'll leave you with a quote.
we are never in a position to choose directly between theism and atheism, since the choice as such is located within the field of belief. “Atheism” (in the sense of deciding not to believe in God) is a miserable pathetic stance of those who long for God but cannot find him (or who “rebel against God”…). A true atheist does not choose atheism: for him, the question itself is irrelevant. (Slavoj Zizek)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E2 Bloodletting or is Rick Menstruating?

Welcome to our journey into the guts of The Walking Dead. What kind of journey? A philosophical, psychoanalytical and political kinda. What I would like to do over the next couple months is dig thought the Walking Dead episode by episode to see what it cant teach us. Thank you for following me on this journey. I look forward to reading your comments. Be forewarned: There are spoilers everywhere.
Bloodletting is a old school method of medical treatment. Letting out some blood is based on the idea that too much blood built up in a humans body which created a kind of tension or pressure. Blood letting was located in a Aristotelian medical model of mediums. In order to keep a proper sense of order a body needed to maintain a balance between extremes. Wikipedia argues "that "Bleeding" a patient to health was modeled on the process of menstruation. Hippocrates believed that menstruation functioned to "purge women of bad humors (Wiki)."

How does bloodletting relate to this episode of the walking dead? The easy answer would be to make quick association between the transfusion that Rick is giving to Carl. But what are Ricks symptoms? Lets take a step back. At the very end of What Lies Ahead, Shane, Carl, and Rick are transfixed by a dear that they come upon in search of Sophia. All the characters are stunned. Is there some sublime radiance being emitted by seeing a deer in the woods? I'd almost argue that their transfixedness could be related to a compulsive desire at being awestruck at the idea of eating some deer burgers, after weeks of canned goods. But the trio do not allow for a conformation of this theory. Carl being a kid, slowly steps towards the deer as his father and foster father egg him towards deer. Suddenly a beautiful moment is shattered by a bullet that pierces the dear and Carl. Both fathers emotions invert; sublime joy to dread.  The other key, to this scene is the prayer that Rick delivers to himself calling the God he only haphazardly believes into give him a sign that he is making proper leadership decisions.

Rick finds himself in shock standing over Carl's potential death bed. Hershel, and Shane try to calm him down. Later Lori joins in. The argument the three give is that a father and a man need to be in the room when his child dies, Carl's situation is beyond his power to influence and that because of the blood he has given he is too week to go thromping through the woods in search of the medical supplies in order kept Carl breathing while Hershel pulls out the fragments of the bullets.

Several struggles are in play at Hershel's farm. Rick is caught between to universes; a leader of a group of survivors and being a father. The trouble here is Rick's juggling of social roles, and the interlocking relationship those roles are in the context of the end of the world. Every day is take your son to work day. Rick is not able to relegate the two social spheres because the line separating the two time frames has ceased to exist. There is a sense in which being a fatherhood is already included at prediscursive level, where the role of a community of leaders always-already includes training the next round of leadership along kinship lines. What the zombies brought to the world is not only death and destruction but a destabilization of the meanings which regulate and constitute social formation.

So, the strange question comes to mind, is Rick menstruating? Of course, I am referring to the misogynistic stereotype where menstruation is a sign of a women wicked and agitated side making it's appearance like a werewolf is called to become hairy and bite things under under a full moon. It's almost as if the trauma Rick's experience confronting the potential death of Carl is not nearly as great and his self-referential sense of impotence due to the fact that he is in a state where he can do anything fix Carl.

The scene calls to mind a insidious twist on the Abrahamic legend. Having be called by God to kill his son, Abraham drags Issac to an alter in order to drive a knife into his son in order to prove his loyalty. But, what if instead of stopping Abraham at the last second from killing his son, God threw a rock from heaven that shot though Issac abdomen. What would Abraham's reaction to that be? I'd argue that it would established his sense of self and force him to severally question his role, not just as a father but as a leader in a community. In this chaotic place that Rick, and Abraham are in would not a non-nonsensical procedure such as bloodletting actually help calm down both characters? Maybe, menstruation would do men in tough situations some good.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

On Black Christmas (2006), Capitalism and Family

Black Christmas plays with the idea of family. Family for most of is the safest place we know. We grow up with parents or guardians that support our normative developed while seeking to help us become adults who can integrate into the adult realm of capitalism. We are taught to treasure moral values that help support the idea that the pursuit of money is riveted into our sense of self worth. 

Capitalist holidays cloaked in the mire of Christianity solidify this myth by teaching us to equate our personal self worth and relationships economically. We buy stuff to demonstrate our affection for others. Our emotional relationships demonstrated through economic relationships. The Santa Claus mythos is our first training in commodity fetishism. Santa has a list of good and bad children. Our moral labor is quantified to gifts or coal. Our very behavior becomes labor before a business cuts us a check. In our families we learn to sell our behavior. We work very hard at becoming good children because it comes with a Christmas bonus. In Black Christmas Billy's introduction to the values are of capitalism is disrupted by his mother who is erratic about her valuation of his behavior. She purchases him presents every year, yet locks him in the attic for the rest of the year. Billy grows up dispossessed and dislocated from the norming and countering influences of his peers. Locked in the attic he begins to develop new values inscribed outside the economic sphere of Christmas.  
Lauren Hanon: Christmas is more about warding off evil spirits than Halloween. What Christmas [poop] in this room resembles anything Christian, huh? It's all neo-pagan magic. Christmas tree, a magical rite ensuring the return of the crops. The mistletoe is nothing but a conception charm. Fifth century Christians jacked a Roman Winter Festival - twelve days in December when the nights were long and the Earth was ruled by the demons of chaos. And [flipping] Santa Claus? This fat voyeur that watches you all year long to make sure you live up to his standards of decency before breaking into your house. And that is different from what Billy did, how?
Peeking through holes in the walls, he watches a mother who has rejected him distribute the affectation that he feels should have been allocated to him. Jealous, and dislocated, he begins reformulating what is and is not family. Family gets redefined. He breaks free from his imprisonment and attacks his sister-daughter telling his mother that "She is now my family." Decades go by and billy is still living in the attic and crawl spaces. Over the years, Billy views a strange scene of women, describing themselves as family via the bonds of sorority. Sisterhood becomes generalized. 

Sororities exist to act as a transitional family for women entering college. Dislocated from from her family for the first time in her life women enter into supportive relationships with each other. Ideally, sororities act as a kind of feminine sociopolitical learning community where women learn to be independent, learn how to distinguish between suitable dating partner, strengthen collective social capital, and become independent women with bourgeois values that are ready to navigate the social terrain of upper class adulthood or become wives and mothers. Sororities, at least in the case of this film, are provided with a house mother. She acts as second mother who becomes the corrective influence against the values the women learn in college. She reminded them to make good choices and avoid fowl language.

After Kelli catches Kyle in cheating on her with another sorority sister. Kyle rants an all too accurate gentrification analysis. He grew up in the neighborhood, he played on the streets in front of this house, and had a very real lower-middle class fear of the home and the people who lived in it. Kyle roots his polemic in the guts and pile of sexist working class pride. On the one hand, he has the audacity to date out of his class with one of the sorority women, and on the other he shows the misogynistic kernel of his being. Remember of course it is Kyle who in the very beginning of the film who seeks to counter Kelli's understanding of family. She explains to Kyle that she is a sorority sister and is obligated to spend time with her family. Kyle takes this statement as a cut to his social status in relation to her, and feebly murmurs to her that, "I'm your family." 

One last point about unicorns. There is a flipping weird scene where one of the more awkward sorority sisters, who also doubles as a red herring, hands Kelli a gift. Nervously, Kelli unwraps the gift and finds a glass unicorn head that of course gets used as a stabbing device later in the film. The rational that the weird girl provides for the choice of gift is, "I know you like the bible and stuff." This line is a trip. Simultaneously, the bible justification echos in two directions at once. First it asserts Kelli as the purified and ripe to be the virginal and morally pure final girl, and it pokes a hole in the relevance of the bible role in the capitalist tradition of Christmas. Zizek argues: 
According to a well-known anthropological anecdote, the "primitives" to whom one attributed certain "superstitious beliefs," (that they descend from a fish or from a bird, for example), when directly asked about these beliefs, answered "Of course not - we're not that stupid! But I was told that some of our ancestors effectively did believe that..." - in short, they transferred their belief onto another. Are we not doing the same with our children: we go through the ritual of Santa Claus, since our children (are supposed to) believe in it and we do not want to disappoint them; they pretend to believe not to disappoint us, our belief in their naivety (and to get the presents, of course), etc. And, furthermore, is this need to find another subject who "really believes," also not that which propels us in our need to stigmatize the Other as a (religious or ethnic) fundamentalist"? In an uncanny way, some beliefs always seem to function "at a distance": it is always ANOTHER who believes, and this other who directly believes need not exist for the belief to be operative - it is enough precisely to presuppose its existence, i.e., to believe in that there is someone who really believes. (Source: Slavoj Zizek)