Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Brave New Dystopia"

The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake,” Orwell wrote in “1984.” “We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Poster Child for the Gutless

Chris Hedges on Obama and the collapse of the Liberal Class:

Monday, December 27, 2010


Part eight of Haibane-Renmei.

The earlier episodes (follow the links).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas: SCTV

My favorite. A miracle, also from December 1982.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas: Bob

Tinsel, snow, eggnog, stockings, ham and Newhart! "No Room at the Inn" from December '82.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas: AGS

Andy, Barney, Elinor Donahue, Aunt Bee, and the future world's worst movie director celebrate that magical moment, Christmas 1960.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas: Hitch

The Master, and very nasty: "Back for Christmas," 1956.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas: Odd

The best of the two-million sitcom Scrooge rip-offs, December 17, 1970.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas: HGWT

The best western show of all time at its most Christian, directed by the man himself: "Be Not Forgetful of Strangers"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas: Staccato

Over the next ten days I'm going to put up some of my favorite Christmas pieces, mostly TV episodes, and hopefully more rare than not. (How many times can you stomach Rudolph, Home Alone, or Frosty the Snowman?)

Leading off is everyone's favorite beatnik, Johnny Staccato. And a strange series it is. Not sure how much of Staccato is a put-on by Cassavetes, since he was quitting the show every other week. Or does it just seem like a put-on, because it's so plugged into such a specific atmosphere and moment? (Much like Kiss Me Deadly.)

This one, from Christmas Eve 1959 (Boog, Shrevie, and Fenwick must've watched it before the Colts / Giants championship game), is called "The Unwise Men" and stars the great Jack Weston. (Best part: JC's cheery closing.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A little late, but Happy 90th Birthday!

Monday, December 13, 2010

High Times

Blake Edwards has died, at the age of 88.

While any movie with Julie Andrews in it is unwatchable, and while the Pink Panther movies all stink -- there are the wonderful TV creations of the late-50s: Richard Diamond, Mr. Lucky and Peter Gunn. And any man (with the help of Henry Mancini) (and Jack Kennedy) who could create endings such as these, was -- at times -- great.

Monday, December 6, 2010


It is now crystal clear that Barack Hussein Obama is the most powerful embodiment (yet) of what the late Hunter Thompson called the Generation of Swine: a brood dedicated to no ideology beyond kicking those beneath them and kissing the asses of those above; psychopathic self-regard; easy and cheap cynicism; a cesspool of greasy-pole climbers covered in pseudo-hipsterism showing condescension and contempt toward all things earnest and passionate. Obama's campaign and election truly were Events to Nowhere -- so the honor, the caring for others, the humility, compassion, patience, modesty, courage, self-mocking wit: yes the bleeding heart, what Simone Weil called "the tender germ of embrace" -- not here.

I know it's Olbermann, but still. . .

And Alex Cockburn on the Great Traitor.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Part Bubbles / part Blossom / part Buttercup, Saya lives for this show -- and she's right, 'cause it's great! A real Hanna-Barbera throwback. (And sadly the last production from HB.)

Yogi and Booboo -- meet the Girls!