June 09, 2004

"Without Mao's guidance, this insight would not have been possible..."

Gary Farber examines some of the sci-fi movie reviews by the Maoist folks I mentioned earlier. (The title of this post is my favorite of his deadpan comments.)

The chuckle to effort ratio you get from reading random chunks from this site is extraordinarily high. Mostly, I suppose, the humor stems from the self-caricatured, sententious, leaden Communist-style rhetoric as it is applied to ordinary, familiar pop culture items. That alone is a novelty, and it's funny. But the context is also important. These people are trying to list and review every single piece of art, music, each film, and every book in order to prepare the way for the systematic banning, censoring and bowdlerizing of them when they "seize state power." Is it possible that they actually think they ever will be able to list, review, and heartily disapprove individually of every cultural item ever produced? Is it possible that they think they will ever actually seize power? It can't be. But it kind of seems to be. Without the over-arching delusion in the background, it would be ordinary lunacy. With it, it's priceless, sublime lunacy. Or so it seems to me.

It's kind of fun to try to imagine your own place in meticulously-planned schemes like this:

The actual production of such art should grant the freedom to err to the "frontline" cultural workers, which means those who do the first drafts of movies and songs to be recycled. In the "dictatorship of the proletariat," artistic workers even of the most political sort can freeze up when overly hounded. Poor "frontline" workers should be removed from their jobs and the resources given to others who would do a better job. They should not be imprisoned, because the history of art production indicates that the state can crush artistic work. It can be both a problem of talent and politics. The solution is to grant the "frontline" workers the freedom to err while giving others oversight authority and responsibility for not issuing egregious errors such as would damage inter-ethnic relations. Oversight workers should be altruistic party members willing to go to prison/re-education camp for failure. These oversight workers should also have oversight assistants who are also free from any threat of imprisonment. Hopefully with the combined efforts of good "frontline" workers and oversight assistants, no horribly misogynist, racist or chauvinist work will see the light of day under socialist auspices and no oversight party members will end up in prison or re-education camp. "Frontline" cultural workers should be judged for their speed and artistry while oversight authorities should be judged by preventing embarrassing errors.

It seems like Frontline Cultural Workers like me have the best of the deal; the Oversight Workers (editors, producers, mixers and other comrades like that) run the biggest risk. My producer has been known to try to quash, hide, or de-emphasize objectionable material in my stuff occasionally; but imagine how much more effective he'd be with a prison sentence hanging over his head. (I know I'm being naive here, but I imagine it as a continual, jovial game of hide the tape: "that's funny, I can't find the 'God Bless America' tape. I've looked everywhere...") However, since one criterion for judging your value as a Cultural Worker is speed; and since I suspect I embody pretty much all (and I mean 97% - 100%) of the error they wish to stamp out anyway; I imagine that slow, error-prone Art Workers like me wouldn't have much of a hope of survival in the worker's paradise. Hey, wait a minute, that's kind of like how it is on this side of the looking glass...

Of course none of this would be quite so funny if there were really any chance that any of it was going to happen. But it's not. Sorry comrades: I don't know why it is this way, but rock and roll is here to stay...

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 9, 2004 05:00 PM | TrackBack

In the future I'm ending all of my movie reviews with:

I recommend sending me your $20 to help produce revolutionary feminist action films instead of spending your money seeing these films.

Posted by: dave bug at June 9, 2004 05:54 PM

I added a second link to this post.

There are so many things I didn't comment upon on those pages; I might followup with a second post, perhaps, later. One was another ending on several reviews, Dave Bug, which was to the effect of "Send us your communist insights to this movie, comrades!"

I also didn't note how sveral movie reviews took meticulous note of the gross income, money spent on advertising, income from DVD/VHS versus theater, and domestic and foreign releases. These figures seemed to be very important to the reviewer. (See the LOTR reviews, for instance.)

Yet unobserved is the Party stance on real buttur.

Posted by: Gary Farber at June 9, 2004 06:50 PM

I've also just added some additional commentary, by the way; I do hope it's not over-kill.

Posted by: Gary Farber at June 9, 2004 07:15 PM

Some questions, like, how many hits would this "Maoist International Movement" have received if Dr. Frank hadn't provided a direct link to their site? And does anyone (other than Dr. Frank) really care about radical organizations made up of a handful of people way out on the lunatic fringe of the far left? What is up with the obsession with the radical left? Peace Out, David (P.S. I saw a photo of Rush Limbaugh with a "Heinz 57" t-shirt on and it doesn't look punk on him either...sorry Frank.)

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 04:11 AM

Okay. Hypocrite that I am, I clicked on the link and I will admit that it is a laugh riot...Check out their review of the new Harry Potter movie (smile). Yes, indeedy.

Posted by: David at June 10, 2004 04:33 AM

This is one of the best chunks of satire I've ever seen. It's clever.

Posted by: Stryker at June 12, 2004 06:43 AM

"Oversight workers should be altruistic party members willing to go to prison/re-education camp for failure. "

Oh, that's ok then. Don'tcha get it?! It's VOLUNTARY totalitarianism. And I bet health care and higher education will be free for all.

What's not to like?

Posted by: JB at June 12, 2004 05:25 PM

These MIM clowns were pretty active on the St. Louis left for a few years, until they so irritated everybody that their very name became toxic. I used to pick up every issue of their paper - it was free and always good for a laugh. One issue had an account of a trip to a Warped Tour show, which had some pretty priceless crazy talk a la the stuff linked to here.

Perhaps their most ludicrous episode was when they decided to use their web server to host porn sites. Yes, they argued, while porn and indeed all sexual activity under capitalism is inherently sexist, anything that earned cash to "build the revolution" was "objectively" copacetic.

Posted by: Jason Toon at June 14, 2004 07:08 PM

Wow, Jason, so you've actually met some of these pyple? I wonder how many of them there are.

I took a look at one of their papers on line, and it was saying that while Lyndie England was biologically-speaking a female, she was "socially male" (i.e., a kind of female man); while the Abu Ghraib abused prisoners ("the Iraqi people with penises") were (objectively?) "social females" or "socially wimmen," i.e., a new species of male woman. Or myle wymym, or symthyng lyke thyt. Yt's kynd yf cryzy.

The MIMs may be politically Maoist, but they also seem to be orthographically Welsh. Or symthyng.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at June 14, 2004 10:20 PM

I closely observed some folks of similar ilk to this (though the factions would have beaten the crap out of each other for ideological errors) during the few months I attended college in 1975; they were infiltrators from the Revolutionary Youth Brigades, an offshoot of Bob Avedikian's Revolutionary Communist Party (which Bob ran as an ideologically unsound cult of personality).

We worked togther in a group with the not-so-revolutionary purpose of reforming the college food service (imaginatively entitled "Students For A Better Food Service"; really); they, naturally, sought to turn this into Grounds For Revolution.

If we ever get together, ask me for some Wacky Details.

Posted by: Gary Farber at June 15, 2004 03:14 AM

I have indeed met three of them, although it's impossible to know whether any of them wrote this stuff - all MIM articles are bylined under the writer's "comrade number," when they're credited at all.

If you ask a MIMite in person what hys/hyr number is, they'll decline to answer on the grounds that it's a "pig question." Yes, that is actually their term, and they use it proudly.

That Lynndie England thing is a perfect example of their tortured reality-twisting. One stance of theirs that always really galled me ran as follows: although casinos are generally reactionary, Native American casinos are progressive because they take money from the evil white proletariat and redistribute it to the oppressed "First Nations." Seems to me that Marx would still have some problems with that, but maybe I haven't advanced to a sufficient stage of revolutionary consciousness.

As a democratic socialist, I see nothing even remotely socialist in any of MIM's lunacy.

Posted by: Jason Toon at June 15, 2004 04:36 PM

Their organizational acronym is just promoting and enforcing society's male hierarchical structure. MYM would be much more appropryate.

Posted by: dave bug at June 15, 2004 09:05 PM