Radical media, politics and culture.

Mainstream Media

Juan Santos writes:

"Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto':

The Cinematic Logic of Genocide"

Juan Santos

Mel Gibson’s "Apocalypto" is not a mere adventure tale, it’s not just another excruciatingly brutal portrayal of apocalyptic violence for its own sake, and the Village Voice is dead wrong when it says that unlike "Braveheart" and "The Passion of the Christ", "Apocalypto" is “unburdened by nationalist or religious piety,”— that it's “pure, amoral sensationalism.”

Despite its extreme brutality "Apocalypto" isn’t just Gibson’s latest snuff film with a religious theme. The film is a morality play, and there are only two things one needs to remember to get a hint of the ugly moral intent behind Mel Gibson’s depiction of the Maya.

The first is that, despite Gibson’s vile portrayal of the Maya as a macabre cult of deranged killers straight out of "Apocalypse Now!", there is no evidence that the Mayan people ever practiced widespread human sacrifice, and they certainly didn’t target the innocent hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists Gibson chooses to portray as the victims of a Mayan death cult.

Gibson knows better. He studied the terrain in depth and had no practical limit to the funds he could expend on research. His portrayal is a conscious lie, one he uses to justify the premise that the Mayan city states collapsed because they deserved to collapse, and that they deserved to be replaced by a “superior” culture in the genocide known as the Conquest.

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within," is how Gibson puts it. In other words the Conquest was not genocide but a moral comeuppance; the civilization didn’t fall, in the final analysis, from climate change or inadvertent soil depletion or even war – it was conquered in god’s wrath against the forces of evil. And Gibson’s made sure you see the ancient Maya as a force of profound evil.

"Filmmaker Documents Case Against Professor:

Sundance To Screen Story About Artist"

Dan Herbeck, Buffalo News

The unusual case of Steven Kurtz is still a long way
from its conclusion at Buffalo's federal court, but a
California filmmaker already has made a movie about

And the film about Kurtz — a University at Buffalo art
professor who faces federal charges for obtaining
bacteria cultures and growing them in his home — will
be shown next month at the prestigious Sundance Film

"Strange Culture," a documentary featuring some
dramatized scenes of what happened to Kurtz, was made
by Lynn Hershman Leeson, an experimental filmmaker who
has won a number of awards for her work.

Leeson said she hopes the documentary will find a
buyer at Sundance and be released commercially. Even
if that doesn't happen, the 65-year-old filmmaker said
she considers the work an important one.

Intimations of Recession

Paul Krugman

These are the dog days of summer, but there's a chill in the air. Suddenly —
really just in the last few weeks — people have starting talking seriously
about a possible recession. And it's not just economists who seem worried.
Goldman Sachs recently reported that the confidence of chief executives at
major corporations has plunged; a clear majority of C.E.O.'s now say that
conditions in the world economy, and the U.S. economy in particular, are
worsening rather than improving.

On the face of it, this loss of faith seems strange. Recent growth and jobs
numbers have been disappointing, but not disastrous.
But economic numbers don't speak for themselves. They always have to be
interpreted as part of a story. And the latest numbers, while not that bad
taken out of context, seem inconsistent with the stories optimists were
telling about the U.S. economy.

The key point is that the forces that caused a recession five years ago
never went away. Business spending hasn't really recovered from the slump it
went into after the technology bubble burst: nonresidential investment as a
share of G.D.P., though up a bit from its low point, is still far below its
levels in the late 1990's. Also, the trade deficit has doubled since 2000,
diverting a lot of demand away from goods produced in the United States.

Castro Expected To Return Within Weeks

Anita Snow, Associated Press

HAVANA — Cuba's vice president and Venezuela's leader gave optimistic
assessments of Fidel Castro's health, saying the Cuban president was
recovering quickly from intestinal surgery and could be expected back at
work within a few weeks.

Mr. Castro has been out of sight since July 31, when his secretary
announced he had undergone surgery and was temporarily ceding power to his
younger brother, Defence Minister Raul Castro.

“In a few weeks he'll be recovered and he'll return to his duties,” Vice
President Carlos Lage said Sunday when asked by reporters when Mr. Castro
would be back at work. Mr. Lage spoke in Bolivia, where he attended the
Andean country's constitutional convention.

Stop Media Consolidation in New York

Robert McChesney

The Federal Communications Commission and industry lobbyists are trying to let huge media companies get even bigger by resurrecting the same rule changes that millions of Americans rejected in 2003.

Recently, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin began the process of relaxing ownership rules. If he prevails, we will see the further demise of local news, independent voices and critical journalism.

In 2003, your letters and calls stopped this nonsense. Now we need to do it again.

Tell the FCC that Big Media is Big Enough

Iran Target of Apparent Disinformation Ploy

Jim Lobe. IPS News

WASHINGTON, May 22 (IPS) — A story authored by a prominent U.S.
neo-conservative regarding new legislation in Iran allegedly
requiring Jews and other religious minorities to wear distinctive
colour badges circulated around the world this weekend before it was
exposed as false.

The article by a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal,
Iranian-American Amir Taheri, was initially published in Friday's
edition of Canada's National Post, which ran alongside the story a
1935 photograph of a Jewish businessman in Berlin with a yellow,
six-pointed star sewn on his overcoat, as required by Nazi
legislation at the time. The Post subsequently issued a retraction.

knabb@bopsecrets.org writes:

Colbert Skewers Bush

Ken Knabb

Comedian Stephen Colbert's keynote speech at the White House Correspondents'
Association dinner last Saturday may represent a new stage in the crumbling
of the Bush regime's image from within the dominant spectacle itself. The
following link gives a Windows Media clip of the last 15 minutes —
here . The entire talk
(about 25 minutes) can be viewed in three parts here —
here .

It's a bizarre experience because most of the audience was decidedly not
sympathetic. Not only was Bush himself sitting a few feet away at the same
table along with various other political bigwigs, but the major portion of
the audience was the very journalists who with rare exceptions have treated
the Bush regime with kid gloves over the last five years, and who were
satirized almost as scathingly as Bush himself. So some of Colbert's
funniest remarks are received with a deafening silence, and the rare moments
of laughter are brief and uneasy, the audience obviously not having expected
such a scandal and wondering how they were supposed to take it.

US Launches Major Iraq Air Attack

BBC News

The US military says it has launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, targeting insurgents near the central city of Samarra.

More than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and US troops have been deployed in the operation, a military statement says.

A bomb attack on the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, last month sparked widespread sectarian violence.
There are no independent reports of Thursday's offensive so far.
The US military said the assault, dubbed Operation Swarmer, was intended to "clear a suspected insurgent operating area" north-east of Samarra.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"V For Vendetta Is about Anarchy"


Anarchists: This Friday marks the beginning of our most important opportunity in decades to communicate with millions about the possibility of a world without capitalism or coercion.

On Friday, March 17, 2006, the long awaited film version of Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel, V for Vendetta, will premier throughout the US. V for Vendetta is the story of an anarchist who dismantles a fascist state through propaganda of the deed, inspiring the masses to revolt with a vision of building an anarchist future.

The book’s protagonist does not simply promote vague anti-authoritarianism or nondescript appeals to “question authority” but explicitly and compellingly calls for the masses to eliminate the state and replace it with anarchy.

Unsurprisingly, this radical message has been lost in the translation to Hollywood’s watered-down film version. Warner Bros. presents a hero rebelling against fascism and advocating “freedom”, yet never suggests that until the state is destroyed, no one will truly be free.


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