There’s Something Creepy

That Jo Cox was murdered is a tragedy for her family and friends, and perhaps some of her constituents, but it’s not a tragedy for those who didn’t know her, nor is it a tragedy ‘for politics’ or in any way for the country. There is a tendency, in grief – especially when that grief is largely fake – to evict reason from the mind very quickly.

There is also a tendency for one person to want to ‘out do’ the other in their public demonstration of that grief, and we (sometimes) end up with a grotesque, public-blubbing freak-show: the sort that sniffed about in the gutter after Diana exited the society.

The situation shouldn’t be made more complicated than it is. A dedicated mother and wife was hideously murdered by a man who very likely will be found to have been motivated by madness not politics. He shot and stabbed this young woman to death in the street: sane people don’t do that.

(If people are to be killed, the sane and acceptable way is to kill them is using miltary hardware. This way, hundreds – if not thousands – can be killed in one go.)

There is a very creepy aspect to the public and political reaction to Jo Cox’s death: a death which even Hilary Clinton decided to comment on.

(I’m amazed Mrs Clinton didn’t claim to have known Jo Cox personally, and therefore felt her loss more sharply than most, and just as sharply as her husband must have felt it. The woman is an organic lie-machine.)

The creepy aspect is this. The coverage and reaction seem to be tied into a feedback-loop – where one informs the other, and suggests that politicians are a more important breed than the ordinary human.

Jo Cox has been described as ‘gifted’. I’m sorry, but I can take only so much. I’ve read that Gareth Bale is ‘gifted’ – and a if a word can mean different things when used across different examples, yet in the same context, then I doubt ‘gifted’  means anything at all.

‘Gifted’ presupposes the person was was given special abilities for a specific reason; it implies someone or something smiled on the gifted and bestowed these special abilities. To call Jo Cox ‘gifted’ is to deeply – very deeply – presuppose there was somewhat angelic and therefore ‘special’ about her which justifies the vigils, hastily arranged shrines, the candles and so on. This is not fancy on my part. The words we use reveal the thoughts we have. We do have unconscious minds with thoughts we are unaware of. (We know this is true because we all know we don’t hold everything we know consciously in our head at once.)

Politicians are never ‘gifted’ or ‘talented’. Most of them are disgusting opportunists who choose politics as a career path rather than a vocation. It seems as if Mrs Cox was motivated more by the issues than by career advancement, but this doesn’t make her more worthy of praise. That’s how politicians should be.

We’re so used to having gutter-sucking politicians in our public life, that when one isn’t, it’s news. We have things the wrong way about.

Shall we take bets on whether or not there will be flower-throwers rubber-necking the funeral?

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Goodbye Rick: The Kneeling Dead

It’s got to be Rick who gets his head smashed in. Well, okay – it doesn’t have to be him.

The first thing which is weird after the The Walking Dead season finale is that Glenn is actually the safest member of the group. The producers already messed about with him with  the fake-death thing from earlier in the season, and they removed his name from the credits to play with us some more.So to mess with Glenn again might seem a little lame.

Also, Glenn is the character who gets killed by Negan in the comics, so it would be too obvious to make it him who gets battered.

How to think about the likely victim?

First, if it’s not a major character, then what’s the point, right? A supporting character’s death doesn’t justify the off-season wait to find out who it was, and it would irritate the fans to wait that long for a minor character be revealed as dead. So logic requires it’s a major name.

So who are classed as major names? I’d say – and in order of majorness:

Rick, Daryl, Carol, Glenn, Michonne, Abraham, Maggie, Carl, Eugene, Morgan, Sasha, Rosita, Gabriel, Tara, Aaron.

It’s an order which can be argued about, but no matter.

Okay, so does long-term character or series regular mean the same as major character? I think not, so the list becomes:

Rick, Daryl, Carol, Glenn, Michonne, Abraham, Maggie, Carl.

I’ve alread discounted Glenn, so the list becomes:

Rick, Daryl, Carol, Michonne, Abraham, Maggie, Carl.

But Carol isn’t there because she’s off with Morgan, getting shot, so the list becomes:

Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Abraham, Maggie, Carl.

Now, who of those could die without the viewers caring too much? Abraham. So that leaves:

Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Maggie, Carl.

At a push, Carl could die without too much uproar: he’s already tainted goods in anycase because of his eye, so I don’t see the audience caring too much if it were him. So that leaves:

Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Maggie.

If Negan wanted to show he was a real evil shit, he’d kill a kid or a woman; if Carl’s discounted, that leaves Maggie. But why would Negan kill the most vulnerable of them? Surely he’d want to weaken their group by taking out a strong member? He wants to make sure they know he’s now in charge. That leaves:

Rick and Daryl.

The best way to assert your authority is by killing the enemy leader. That leaves…..

Rick is the character to die.

He’s the least likely because everyone would consider him the safest.

Spolia Opima Baby.

 

Oh, poor you!

That’s an expression which makes me shiver when I hear it. On the surface it sounds like mild sarcasm, a bit of fake sympathy offered to somebody who might be thought of as complaining too much. It’s actually more than that.

A person needs to have a little interest in language and psychology and literature to see (or hear) what else could be going on with that expression, but if ‘art imitates life’ as the cliché goes, then it seems there is more to that expression than mild sarcasm aimed at a moaner.

One possible interpretation is the usage from HBO’s The Sopranos. It’s not an expression used often, but it’s the characters which use it and the context which makes it interesting and gives it the power.

The Sopranos, if it is the best show made – and many argue it is – must be the best show for the writing because so many other shows are superbly filmed and acted and so on. It’s the writing, specifically the way a character’s character is exposed using language, that gives the show its standing, and some of the exposes are subtle.

Here’s a for instance. Consider Tony Soprano telling his mother and anyone else who brought it up, that Green Grove – the expensive facility he sends her to in the first series – is not a nursing home, ‘It’s a retirement community!’. There are several instances like this throughout the six seasons.

The character had to correct his mother and everyone else about the kind of facility he sent her to because he was trying to convince himself his decision to move her was a kinder decision than his conscience felt it was. That might sound simple, but it’s more complicated.

Tony Soprano’s entire character – everything he does and the way he does it, his success in the ‘business’ – is predicated on the denial of the fact his mother didn’t love him. He knows she didn’t, but won’t accept it, and the conflicts, the panic attacks, the ‘displaced rage’ all stem from this refusal accept what he knows is true.

It takes the character almost the entire six series to accept this: his constant correction of people who talk about about what kind of place he sends his mother to is a linguistic clue to a deeper psychological problem which hasn’t been solved or resolved. He can’t make his mother love him, but he can accept she didn’t, and this acceptance does eventually happen. The linguistic clues then change to show that, under the psychological surface, there’s a been a huge change.

What happens is simple. When a colleague mentions the wonderful retirement community Tony had his mother in, he shouts back ‘It’s a nursing home!’

So what of the expression, ‘oh, poor you’?

The writers use the expression in a similar way as mentioned in that it’s used as the linguistic clue to a deeper problem. ‘Oh, poor you’ isn’t mild sarcasm thrown at a person who’s moaning too much, it’s the mask dropping and the monster revealing its real face and real nature, but only for a moment.

And that real nature could be described as unpleasant.

It’s an expression which means ‘I don’t care how you feel!’ And this isn’t because the person cares only for themselves, but because the person can’t care about others and their feelings. It’s the three words which reveal the speaker is really bereft of positivity and all their smiling and laughing is faked.

It reveals something to us, the audience, while the speaker and the person to whom it is addressed do not recognise it for what it is, thus making it a narrow, yet extraordinarily deep example of dramatic irony.

Fear The Walking Dead…..season finale

It was about time we saw some zombies eating some people: the infected infiltrating the army base was one of the best set-pieces since the farm, the prison and sanctuary all fell in the other show. This was more like it, but it was over too soon.

And that’s it – the season is over and it ended with the death of who (I’m sure) everyone thought was going to be a series regular. I think it was a mistake to kill her because there was a lot of drama to be had between the two women. Madison telling Travis that it was Liza’s fault the soldiers took her son in custody – all that ‘she did this’ business – was what I’d hoped to be the start of a female grudge match that could have lasted a full-length season, but now they killed her! I quite liked her.

Travis finally cracked; he told Blades he didn’t like guns but when the soldier popped the psycho’s daughter, old Travis laid down a real beating – and we didn’t get to see what happened to that soldier. Did he get infected? And why shoot the daughter? It made some sense in that he would want to really hurt the guy who sliced him up – and shooting the daughter is a good way to do it – but that entails the soldier is a total ice-man psycho and he was trying to get into the daughter’s underwear a few episodes ago. Maybe the excuse for this this character re-write-for-convenience is that Blades sliced more than his arm – maybe the torture messed with his head?

Now we’re waiting, what, a year for season two? Six months?

Here’s what I don’t get. Why create this show in the first place? I’m still suspicious that The Walking Dead might become the junior partner in time because with Fear – they can do what they want, they are not locked-in to adapting stories and using comic characters.

Maybe Fear will become the premier show? Watch out for the announcement that The Walking Dead is taking a two-year break or something, while all the work and budget goes into the new show.

Down With the Sickness

I’ve wondered why zombie movies and shows are so popular. They certainly are popular so there has to be a reason.

I wondered before what is the subtext to these movies and shows – or to zombies themselves? Why do we like them?

I thought that, perhaps, the popularity was in the childhood game of cops and robbers: basically (but with zombies) we get to ride about killing bad guys: we get to act like heroes, saviours and soldiers all in one go. It’s an ego trip, in other words.

I now think the truth might be much darker than that.

I watched the final scene of episode five of Fear the Walking Dead, where Ruben Blades is looking at the chained double-doors, and immediately the image of John Hurt, lying on the table in Alien (1979) came to mind.

It was the way the doors were bulging and looked like they were stretching which made me think of that famous scene.

Then my thoughts were of how a woman’s belly can look when a baby is stretching.

It was pretty obvious that behind those doors, something was trying to get out, and I’m sure that during the season finale, all those walkers will escape (be born) into the action of the episode – and that’s what we’re all now waiting for.

Back in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted his famous experiments into obedience to authority and discovered something depressing about the nature of the human: we will easily harm, torture or even kill another person if instructed to do so by ‘authority’ figures. These findings were unwelcome by many; for instance because Milgram showed the ‘Nuremberg Defence’ might actually be a defence – or a solid reason, at any rate – for the facilitating of mass murder by who in many cases were civil servants, not ideological Nazis.

It’s easier (and more agreeable) to conclude the ‘I was only following orders’ defence is a weak excuse used by evil people than it is to accept that humans might have something savage in their natures, or, more bluntly, that a tendency to cruelty and sadism is the default position. It doesn’t suit our geocentric idea of ourselves as the ultra-evolved master-species to be told how fucking base we actually are.

What we desire, on unconscious levels of awareness, can manifest itself in our dreams and sometimes our waking fantasies; so it makes sense that we might be attracted to some external stimulant – be it a song, movie or television show – which reminds us of those instinctive desires in some way. As Huxley states in Heaven and Hell:

Most dreams are concerned with the dreamer’s private wishes and instinctive urges, and with the conflicts which arise when these wishes and urges are thwarted by a disapproving conscience or a fear of public opinion.

Could it be that zombies are not so different from what the human is once you take away the controlling elements of language and society? And shows such as The Walking Dead are popular because they allow a psychic vibration to flow back to our savage selves?

More bluntly:

Zombies are popular because an unconscious recognition happens between what we see and our animalistic true natures.

More bluntly still:

Zombies remind us of ourselves: of the part of our evolved natures that’s waiting to break out from behind our civilised masks just as soon as society falls.

Got a problem with that?

Read your Stanley Milgram.

Fear the Walking Dead….4

It’s about time there was some tension between the two women – and there’s some murderous tension now.

Multiple tension-seeds were planted. First there’s the question of who is in the ‘house on the hill’ flashing light down onto the safe area – and which character is going to find out. I thought Madison’s little excursion beyond the fence was her attempt to do that, but that wasn’t the reason because we saw no effort by her to get there. Are we supposed to think her attempt was side-tracked by the military patrol passing by? If so, it wasn’t clear.

Notice how – now the characters are in a safe zone – as the commanding officer pointed out to begin with – there needs to be some tension from somewhere so immediately the military is now suspect. The commanding officer is a kick-ass asshole who should be wearing shades, and the arrival of the doctor is interesting because immediately the ‘hospital’ the military are taking people to is suspect. Is it a real hospital? Will the patients be treated or tested?

I’d bet the military – or the hospital, at least – is probably going to be okay in the end, but they butted the junkie in the face when he tried to escape and that’s odd – but there’s now major split ups going on: the mexican chick with the foot; the Ex wife and the son AND Madison and the junkie son.

Here was an episode in which not one zombie was shown and the Uncle Sam was allowed to start the conspiracy theories.

I’m wondering if AMC actually want this show to become it’s main show – and actually demote – or cancel The Walking Dead so the writers are not constrained by the comic-book plots which they seem obliged to follow.

With Fear the Walking Dead they can do whatever they want.

The Ten O’clock People

That Jeremy Corbyn has been elected to lead the Labour party is certainly news in itself, but is made more interesting by the mass front-bench resignations.

This synchronised move is shocking because it’s the elite showing open contempt for the party members who voted for Corbyn, and also for the party they are supposed to be loyal members of. Why can’t these persons respect the decision of the party and serve under the democratically elected leader?

In trying to smear Corbyn as being so extreme they can’t work with the man, they are publicly displaying their real selves – something they usually keep hidden.

It’s a situation the ‘mainstream’ media are complicit in. If there’s any ‘outrage’ at the behaviour of the front-bench quitters then I’ve missed it, but it was, apparently, a ‘disgrace’ that Corbyn didn’t button-up his shirt’s top button.

What I’m interested in is how long it will take the Establishment to get rid of him?

Corbyn is going to be smeared by members of his own party and much of the press – but he might have the BBC on his side because they love a lefty at the BBC. Radio Four’s Today programme could do away with it’s absurd ‘Thought for the Day’ and replace it with ‘Corbyn Corner’ where some lefty wisdom is spewed to the proles and the rubes each morning. This would make the Today programme at least honest.

(That programme is saturated in political correctness and won’t even call Islamic State by its name; it qualifies by referring to IS as ‘the so-called Islamic State.’)

And now Corbyn has done his first PMQs and though he didn’t make himself look like an idiot, he hardly bestowed ‘live-wire’ status on himself.

Is it worth a prediction?

We’ll have a few months of a dull man playing on the ‘keeping it simple’ in the ‘no spin zone’ line, and eventually the media will have smeared and slagged him enough that one of his bakcbenchers can justify challenging for the leadership without the public being outraged because the public will have swallowed the media’s propaganda. It’ll take a little time, but it’ll happen.

Fear the Walking Dead…3

I’m glad Travis mentioned ‘two wives’ in the house because it would have been too much for them to be holed-up together and nobody mention it. They’re good friends enough that Madison wants her bloke’s ex to take her out if she ends up zombiefied because if the boyf had to do it, it would ‘break him’ Madison says.

That was an interesting line. Break him why? Is Madison telling the ex ‘Okay, he came to get you, sure, but it was for your son more than you. This is how much I know he loves me: if he had to finish me off, it’d break him.’

Or is she making a point about the (well known) fact that women are fucking ruthless and make men look like little boys when certain matters are considered? Was her comment a nod to the sisterhood?

So two of the neighbours turned: the bloke from over the road and the little lady next door but, so far, everyone is together ready for some Straw Dogs type attacks on the house. We were lead to think this wasn’t going to be the way the story was spun because Travis and Madison and their extended family packed their vehicles to go somewhere they called ‘the desert.’

What is meant to be in the desert? What they were meant to be going to doesn’t matter because the writers decided to have the army burst onto the scene at the last moment and take over the immediate area and tell everyone to stay inside. Okay, so the road-trip’s off.

So I’m wondering if the army will turn the residential area into a sort of enclave from which operations will be conducted; perhaps the army unit will become detached from it’s command and turn mercenary? The drama has to come from somewhere.

The two ladies could start making things difficult for Travis, but this is unlikey. The drugs will run out and maybe the junkie-son will try to escape the enclave to find more, thus triggering a search, junkie-hunt etc.

I know this is fiction, and I know one shouldn’t take it too seriously, but the neighbour’s husband strolls up to the house without a care in the world because that makes his shock or horror at seeing the state of the wife more drmatic: he moves from ‘normal’ to ‘WTF?’ in a very short space of time. All okay in theory. But to do that he had to come back from his travels, take a cab home, and stroll up to the house in a mood which suggested he didn’t know there were riots and shootings going on in the city? Why didn’t he get out the cab and run into the house, calling out for the wife? The cab driver didn’t say anything?

That was absurd given the context.

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Fear The Walking Dead…2

Episode 2.

Ok, so I got something wrong: Travis went to get his family almost straight away and now finds himself locked in a barber shop while a riot happens outside. This means the ‘drama’ will have to be based around him being reunited with his new family rather than him trying to get to his old family. Actually, his new missus seemed quite happy with him being around his ex which makes sense in context but takes away the cause of some drama between the two. It would make Travis’s life harder if his new missus was jealous that he wanted to ‘save’ his ex. She wouldn’t need to give him a hard time about it; just a look here, or a bit of cold shoulder there, would be enough for the audience, even if Travis didn’t spot it.

(Nobody so far has used the ‘Z’ word.)

The daughter’s boyfriend is shown to be sick, and she’s looking after him – which is okay. But why, if he loves her so, did he not tell her what happened? He’s got a bite-wound on his shoulder, and at no point does he say ‘Be careful of the Zombies! Be careful of those people who look like people but who actually want to eat you!’

If he loved her he might want to give her a little advice to help her out.

What works nicely is the idea of public unrest in response to the LAPD shooting walkers. The PD don’t know the walkers they are shooting are actually zombies, and the public don’t know they don’t know, so there’s a little social commentary about the LAPD being ‘out of control’ which leads to riots.

This works nicely. It’s credible, to start off with, but also allows the zombie epidemic cover under which to spread.

What I want to know is this: the progression of the zombie outbreak and public confusion is quite extensive between the pilot episode and episode two – and there’s only seven episodes to the first season. If the public are going to go from normal to riot in the space of one episode, then either the show needs to slow down the progression between episodes, or by the end of the season there’ll be no society left. We know that’s what’s coming – obviously the show is a prequel – but is that going to be the point of the prequel? We are just going to be delivered to the same place that Rick and his crew are in – the end of the world as we know it?

That would be daft because that’s what we have with The Walking Dead, so to make the show different, once the outbreak has occurred ‘officially’ – the show needs to slow down the progression and extract the drama from people trying to save the society, rather than dealing with the end of society.

The zombies are elsewhere – not obviously wandering about. Where do they go? Are they hiding? The school Principle, finally, has turned – and it’s not clear if he turned because of the virus or was bit – and our hero gets to smash his face in with a fire extinguisher – so the nest episode must contain the ‘Z’ word because enough is now enough, frankly.

By episode three….they better Zombie-up and get with the program.

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Fear The Walking Dead

Fear the Walking Dead:  Pilot Episode

Actually, I had no expectations. We all knew the show is set prior to the outbreak, so mass zombie herds and all that business was always going to be unlikely, but now I’m wondering how many episodes will be used to get the outbreak properly underway.

Things started well enough with the lovely Gloria eating the face of a poor guy and her boyfriend (whose about to get very clean and sober very quickly)running for his life. It was interesting because He thinks the drugs were messing with his head and that he was tied to the bed had echoes of The Exorcist. His drug problem is convenient way to have the first infected away from public sight by having them turn in drug dens where the majority of the public don’t visit, but – and this might change as the season progresses – we have the faintest suggestion that junkies might be the scum who started the outbreak; that it started with the scum first.

The son’s a junkie, so the daughter’s a ‘brain.’ Opposite ends of the achievement spectrum, similar to the Soprano kids. We’re told – for no reason whatsoever in respect to the pilot – that the sister could teach her own class and is off to Berkley. There was no reason to tell us this so her intelligence must be something the shows uses later on, or maybe actually relies on.

There’s two broken families, broken thanks to Travis who we see at the beginning of the episode, fiddling with his new woman’s plumbing. It makes sense

For him to have recently left one family, this way he will have to worry about his estranged son and also his ex-wife. This will provide ‘I’ve gotta make sure they’re safe’ type drama, but also can be a source of conflict with his teacher girlfriend – Madison, the woman whose son’s the junkie. How is she going to react, not when Travis leaves her to save his son, but when he brings the son and ex back with him? I want this to happen.

There wasn’t much wrong with the pilot episode – I found only two things objectionable. The first was the ‘I signed up for this when I fell in love with you’ line given to Travis – which was pure corn-from-the-gob.

The other thing which didn’t work was Madison’s breathy ‘take me to where it started’ line. And there wasn’t really any need for them to go to the junkie church. She knew her son ran from the place so it might be unlikely he’d go back there; that was a little odd – why have two scenes back at the church, one with just Travis, the other with them both?

The church was where Gloria turned and ripped the guy’s face at the beginning, so we were meant to be wary of this, but if she wasn’t there when Travis went by himself, we weren’t really thinking she’d be there even later on, knowing these walkers….walk. Well, I wasn’t.

With the filming by the helicopter of the road accident, the guy turning an attacking the paramedic, there’s just the beginnings of mass panic starting.

So long as Episode 2 isn’t some sort of arty flashback nonsense, and the panic begins to grow, we should be in for some serious gore because the whole point of a zombie outbreak is more and more people turn quicker and quicker…

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