Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Warm Bodies and Step Up Revolution: An Anticapitalist and Capitalist Film Head to Head

   What's the main distinction between an anticapitalist work and one affirming neoliberal values and assumptions?  The notion of how true change comes about.  In the former, it happens through community/communal effort.  In the latter, it's the work of a leader or special individual, and usually his love story is given priority over his community interactions and duties.
     Warm Bodies, like most zombie movies, posits the zombie as a metaphor for the alienated worker in late capitalism:  barely alive, barely able to connect to his body, his heart, and to others (indeed, the default relation to others is one of devouring each other--i.e. market-based competition).  Despite its being a love story "Warm Bodies" overcomes neoliberal cinematic values by making the love serve as a stepping-stone or revelatory body-training towards higher group consciousness and group revolutionary potential.  Thus love serves to reconnect the zombie to what the capitalist world has killed in him, and with this higher consciousness he then proceeds to assist his community in finding their humanity again, who then in turn cease their neoliberal competitive tearing each other to shreds, and ally together to defeat the true enemy--the utterly dehumanized 'bonies' that threaten human being as we know it (i.e. the 1%!).  Love, then, is not some private-sphere activity compensating for our public dehumanization, some palliative or relief from the unchangeable structure of society--it is the lifeforce that makes society changeable.  The human beings who consider zombies unredeemable and only fit for destruction corresond to neoliberal policymakers and voters who consider the lower classes--particulary immigrants and people of color--irredeemable in their criminal and 'lazy' tendencies, whose solution can only be social death (disappearance and bodily death in the prison industrial complex, or at best the alienating wage-slave workplace).

    On the other side of the spectrum i saw "Step Up: Revolution", which seemed promising because it's about a community of dancers who use flash mobs to disrupt the normal flow of everyday life with body-recliaming activity, and who grow increasingly political, at one point announcing their decision to move from mere art to protest.  Except that the writers have no idea what 'revolution' or 'protest' involve.  Such that the tactical and ethical 'mistake' that comes 2/3 of the way through the movie, when they 'cross the line' and disrupt a public panel run by a corporate real estate giant planning to dismantle a community for profit.  They destroy some of the premises, out his daughter as a collaborator, and expose the lies in a computer hacking stroke of genius. We are supposed to rue their move to property destruction and embarrassing this poor girl in front of her father, hurting their relationship.  Apparently the revolution can come about without straining the relationship between family members on opposite sides of the class barrier.  Worse, the finale involves another disruption, this time of course with no property violence, which culminates with the corporate father so moved by the dance that he decides not to go through with the corporate takeover.  Wow.  Did you hear the good news, folks?  No need for antagonism or class war, we can get the 1% on our side merely by inspiring them with art.  What absolute idiocy.  This kind of film does nothing but affirm neoliberal lies that the oppressed can earn some justice and equality merely by asking nicely and working within the system. That is of course what Power wants us to believe, making this film's title a lie.  It should be: "Step Up: Counterevolution".  You can't revolutionize society and bring about freedom for all its members without the 1% getting upset, breaking some family ties, and losing some profits.  They are not going to give up their stranglehold on the market when we ask nicely.  The dancers had it right in their supposedly 'crossing the line' moment.  What a joke.  If only V (for Vendetta) organized the flash mobs...

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The Sacred Dice - A Revolutionary Salon

The Sacred Dice is a salon of musicians, scholars, poets, sound sculptors, activists and artists of all kinds committed to art that is committed.  That could get us committed (to an asylum).  That disdain's art for art's sake and artists who have no idea why they do what they do.  We know why we do what we do--to create and celebrate community in a country still stuck in capitalist fantasies of individualism.  If you want in, you're in.  If you want out, don't worry--you already are.