Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fury Road

Spoilers aplenty here, so be warned.

I expected to hate it. I thought it was going to be just another male-dominated post-apocalyptic statement of raw and uncomplicated indictment of our present course towards ecological collapse. I couldn't have been more wrong.

When the dying (of cancer: he names his tumors "Larry" and "Barry", or something like that, and calls them his "mates", drawing little faces on them) warrior kid tells his buddy he intends to die in the glory of battle and enter Valhalla, his buddy punches the air in exultation and roars "Organic!!!" It was then I realized that this would be a script worth reading no matter how few words it contained. I was right. It's brilliant all the way through.

The empire of "Pa" or "Dad" as he's variously called is indeed based on a sort of organicism-without-Nature.

Of even more subtle ironic value is the role of Max himself. He isn't even a main character, despite being initially the narrator. His VO at the incredibly non-aperture-like beginning says he has absolutely no intentions other than survival, and after that he becomes more of a sidekick to the driven and capable (but deep and nevertheless flawed) Fury, whose strength and moral fortitude proves insufficient to lead her followers to a home that has already been destroyed...not by bandits or war, but by the slow creeping erosion of ecological collapse. What she decides to do then, on the powerfully tentative, philosophical advice of the trauma-ridden Max, is return to the evil citadel, defeat the regime, and share out the hoarded resources among the sufferers...implicitly until there's none left. After which Max nods in approval and walks away, as usual, with neither Fury nor us having learned a single thing about him.

It's one of my favorite movies ever.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pope Francis on Global Warming

This is a very significant development, without a doubt. Preliminary analyses of the encyclical can be found here, on Democracy Now!.

But I have to disagree with Nathan Schneider when he says "Catholics don't divide our faith between the private and the public", which anyone can see, by the Catholic Republicans in the US bending over backwards to marginalize Francis, is complete bull honkey. The whole point of humbling yourself to an imaginary God is that you can partition it off from the rest of your life. Humbling yourself before a huge, dangerous thing for which some evidence exists is a tad more complicated and scary, and I have to give props to Francis for at least the lip service.

I'm in the midst of writing a paper, so I don't have time to go into this at any length, but I also have to point out that a criticism of capitalism from the Vatican is about as convincing as a criticism of meat farming from a Monsanto soybean grower. Still, if he can put his hands to the work of his words, then all is good.