Welcome to Night Vale – Norwich Radical

I have been writing as a regular culture correspondent for The Norwich Radical since January, and it’s been… an experience. I’ve written about the ideological implications of Wrestlemania, the politics of Pulp’s Common People, and the romance of Romero’s zombie films, but I am making a shift into their community section covering local events on our political scene (don’t worry, HH will continue as always). It seems fitting then, that my last -regular- culture piece is about a totally irregular community radio show. You can check it out by clicking the linked sample-text below. Enjoy… -JB

The fact that so much of our ‘escapism’ is into worlds that are literally a living hell says a lot about the disconnect between capitalist ideology and the reality it actually delivers. It’s what game designers describe as an uncanny valley effect, where something is almost human but not quite, and so becomes more unnaturally terrifying than something blatantly false.

Companies that have sponsored the murder of trade unionists, who would sooner put nets up to prevent sweat-shop workers jumping from their rooves than improve pay and conditions, try constantly to convince us they care about our enjoyment —  and it is like being courted by a serial-killer. We are so desperate to escape from the unhinged pseudo-niceties surrounding us that we actively fantasise about the apocalypse — because at least the zombie horde never tried to charge us rent, and triffids never tried to be our friends. Within that realm though, the potential for something quite different, even radical exists. The opportunity to satirise the ills of the real world.

Welcome to Night Vale.

The Walking Dead

In an article originally published on his own blog, Alex Hort-Francis examines the politics of The Walking Dead, and considers why, even in a post-apocalyptic society, we find it so hard to imagine a world without capitalism…

franco

The author is a PDS suffer himself, and a keen advocate for undead rights…

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Check Out “The World Turned Upside Down” on Norwich Film Festival

UPDATE: After a long hiatus, I have written a new article for the Norwich Film Festival – which you can check out by clicking the link below at the end of the sample text. Just in case you were wondering – there will be new articles written for this very page in the next few weeks, as well as updates regarding the next Hollywood Hegemony documentary we’re producing, Witches and Bitches – for which filming begins next week – so watch this space… -JB

Malcolm was distracted at a pivotal moment by an irresistible Hollywood Hegemony update.

Rupert Wyatt (Rise of The Planet of The Apes) and Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) are similar in a number of ways. The British film-makers both directed fine films in 2011. Both used clever threads of social commentary to grant two of Hollywood’s biggest sagas a new lease of life – after poor cinematic outings seemed to have driven the franchises to the brink of oblivion. Both were unceremoniously binned by 20th Century Fox for their efforts… [Read more here…]

‘Of Gove and Gramsci’ now on The Norwich Radical

The Norwich Radical is a new web-based media project established for “the purpose of providing progressive analysis of politics and the arts.”  It’s a “broad coalition of activists, writers, students and workers coming from an array of political backgrounds,” something that has been lacking on the left in Norwich for some time – and promises to finally provide a platform for the wide range of interests and talents of activists and ‘ordinary’ people – which more often than not goes to waste. I’m very excited to have contributed my article “Of Gove and Gramsci”, which you can now check out along with a host of other great content on their page via the linked teaser-text below. 

This is a battle of ideas and ideology, and the Education Secretary knows it. Culture connects on a human level and draws out debates on supposed common sense; it carries the potential to lay bare the hegemonic drip of dominant capitalist ideas into perceived ‘nature’. That brings with it the potential to challenge the ideology of the status-quo.

BAFTA Tour Night at the Norwich Film Festival!

So I was lucky enough to attend the BAFTA tour night of the Norwich Film Festival on Thursday – check out my thoughts through the linked text below. 

Cinema goers welcomed the BAFTA tour to the Norwich Film Festival on a wet and windy Thursday night. But even amidst the gloom of some textbook British summer weather, those in attendance at the Odeon on Riverside were still cheered by a plethora of UK-based talent on show, followed by a Q&A withKeeping Up with the Joneses director Michael Pearce. The British Film and Television Arts compiled eight shorts nominated for a prestigious BAFTA award into a feature length package, which also featured two films (Island Queen and I am Tom Moody) which wowed at last year’s NFF.

Intriguingly, the films synchronised brilliantly as a coherent package, despite being produced entirely separately by up-and-coming film-makers from all over the country. Each short featured in this cinematic scrapbook commented on some aspect of claustrophobia, isolation or social alienation – and the (often unsuccessful) struggle to overcome or escape them – giving a pointillistic portrait of the hopes and fears of modern British society in the process.

Check out “The True Little Tramp” on the Norwich Film Fest

Greetings HH followers – I know I’ve slightly neglected you all recently, but I have been busy working on my new film on 100 years of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. Get excited. I have also written a not-insubstantial article on the subject for the Norwich Film Festival, which you can view by clicking the taster-text below, if it takes your fancy. It not only features an actual illustration by me (Jack of all trades etc), but also outlines what you’ll see in the film – so check it out.

From culturally illiterate education minister Michael Gove’s humourless panning of comedy classic Blackadder Goes Forth, to the banal, Buzzfeed-esque ten point summary of the war by BBC historian Dan Snow (great-great-grandson of war-time Prime Minister Lloyd George) – there has been a concerted effort to reinvent the horrors of WW1’s mechanised conflict as not only necessary, but actually a bit of a lark.

Caught recently in the crossfire of this ideological conflict, having characteristically stumbled into a tricky situation not of his making, is Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp – who reached his own historical landmark last month. The beloved character, who first appeared on screens in February 1914, is no stranger to this historical process himself of course. The Tramp, once revered by the poor and reviled by the rich as a figure of rebellion, has become so shrouded in historical mystification that he can be warmly remembered by the very people he was once a statement against. Even the Daily Mail, who backed the Nazis around the time of Chaplin’s anti-fascist classic The Great Dictator (1940) now fondly remember the Tramp’s antics, in an ideological shift akin to Royalists 100 years from now warmly recalling that rascal Frankie Boyle’s jokes about the Queen’s haunted vagina!

Yet even now there is something troublesome about the man in the bowler hat, big shoes and baggy trousers – something that remains unreconciled with dominant accounts of history, which disturbs the rich and powerful. This is where Chaplin’s legacy enters the war debate...

Check out the Women’s Film and Television History blog

My review of The Song of the Shirt (1970) and many other interesting reads await on the Women’s Film and Television History blog, which you can visit here (or by clicking the sample text to my review below). It’s a site well worth a look for a more academic exploration of cinema and gender.

The Song of the Shirt poster

At first glance, The Song of the Shirt (Clayton and Curling, 1979) is hard to enjoy. The opening consists of migraine-inducing overlapping texts; squawking free-form clarinets, and jumbled quick-fire quotes. It seems initially that this attempt to deconstruct the grand narratives of liberal history, and reform the component parts into a radical critique, lacks any kind of structural coherence. However, it soon emerges that this is actually a brilliant foreshadowing of the structure of the film. Eventually, out of the chaos comes a brilliantly orchestrated profundity...”