Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pretend Growth



"The labor economists Lawrence F. Katz of Harvard and Alan B. Krueger of Princeton found that the percentage of workers in “alternative work arrangements” — including working for temporary help agencies, as independent contractors, for contract firms or on-call — was 15.8 percent in the fall of 2015, up from 10.1 percent a decade earlier. (Only 0.5 percent of all workers did so through “online intermediaries,” and most of those appear to have been Uber drivers.)...
"...This change in behavior has profound implications on social insurance. More so than in many advanced countries, employers in the United States carry a lot of the burden of protecting their workers from the things that can go wrong in life. They frequently provide health insurance, and paid medical leave for employees who become ill.
They pay for workers’ compensation insurance for people who are injured on the job, and unemployment insurance benefits for those who are laid off. They help fund their workers’ existence after retirement, at one time through pensions, now more commonly through 401(k) plans. 
"...When people working as a team need extensive experience working together, it can be tricky to contract out the work. But when there are clear, simple measurements of how successful each person is, and a company can monitor it, the employer now has flexibility. 
“New technologies may allow some things to be shipped out and standardized and easily monitored,” Mr. Katz said. “Call center workers can be at home. Independent truck drivers can be monitored for the efficiency of their routes. Monitoring makes contracting more feasible.” 

-Neil Irwin, Job Growth in the Last Decade Was Temp and Contract, NY Times 




Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How Droll

Investigate Robert Palmer


Legacy

True Detective Season 4: A Mix



1. Bremen - Sick City
2. Manfred Mann - I Put A Spell On You

3. Fever Ray - If I Had A Heart
4. Turzi - Jesus Has No Place On The Dance Floor
5. Tim Buckley - The Healing Festival
6. Loretta Lynn - Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven
8. Ensemble Economique - To Feel the Night As It Really Is
9. Faust - Knochentanz
10. Lee Hazlewood - Friday's child
11. Marvin Gaye - You're The One For Me
12. Algiers - And When You Fall
13. PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love
14. the little boy blues - seed of love
15. Tangerine Dream - Highway Patrol
16. Russian Circles - Deficit
17. Scratch Acid - Cannibal
18. These Hidden Hands - These Moments Dismantled (feat. Lucrecia Dalt)
19. A.C. Marias - The Whispered Year
20. Grouper - Fishing Bird (Empty Gutted in the Evening Breeze)
21.Frank Proffitt - Satan, Your Kingdom must come down
22. Them - I'm Gonna Dress In Black
23. The Birthday Party - Wildworld
24. Soft Cell - Persuasion (12" Mix)
25. Freddie & Hitchikers - Sinners
26. Cliff Richard - I'm Afraid To Go Home
27. Dickens - Genocide
28. Beak> - Welcome to the Machine
29, Virginia Astley - Waiting To Fall

Monday, March 28, 2016

Oliver Ho and Danny Passerella- "Male"

Friday, March 25, 2016

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior



"You want to know what this was really all about," [John] Ehrlichman, who died in 1999, said in the interview after Baum asked him about Nixon's harsh anti-drug policies. 
"The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying," Ehrlichman continued. 
"We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did." 
This didn't come from a mailroom intern, Ehrlichman was the primary architect of domestic policy for Nixon. He and Nixon were extremely close. He worked for Nixon's 1960 presidential campaign, his 1962 campaign for governor in California, and eventually for Nixon's 1968 White House bid. Once elected, Nixon made Ehrlichman White House counsel and then chief policy advisor, where he became an indispensable part of Nixon's inner circle. 
To have him say, in his own words, that because they couldn't make it illegal to be black, that the White House set out to find a new way to "disrupt" and "discredit" black communities and organizations, is a punch in the gut. This war that they created, and that was subsequently grown and advanced by the government for the 50 years that followed, has done an amazing job achieving its true goal — the widespread criminalization of blackness in America."

- Shaun King, Why the War on Drugs is Essentially Just a War on Black People in America, NY Daily News 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Diamondstein- "The Carving"



from the Ridges, great new non-vaporwave out now on Dream Catalogue

Fear and Loathing in Bat Country



"DAILY PLANET editor Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) declares that the American conscience died with "Martin, Bobby, and John." He's admonishing one of his idealistic reporters, but he may as well be addressing anyone left in the audience hoping to see the hero who protects us. The biggest lie, Luthor says, is the idea that power is ever innocent. How terrible that he's right. How terrible that this truth is the truth in a Superman film. How fascinating that Snyder's better Watchmen adaptation isBVS. Snyder paints himself into a curious corner with his interpretation of Superman as this moping, solipsistic god. There's a montage of him doing wondrous things, like blowing up missiles and rescuing farm families from rooftops. But if Supes isn't governed by an innate morality, the cornerstone of this character, then the only reason he hasn't thrown every bad guy on the planet into orbit is because he doesn't really care to solve that problem. He whispers at the end that Lois Lane is his world. She is. The sum total of it. Oh, and his mom, sort of. He has a penchant for running away when things get hard. He's a whiny, truculent, occasionally homicidal child, and if that's now a better representation of the United States and what it believes in, then I stand chastened with knuckles rapped. Who knew that the Superman symbol would go the way of the Confederate flag? When White wonders aloud if Clark clicks his heels together to be transported back to Kansas, in my head I'm thinking that The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939, the year after Superman was introduced in Action Comics, and that Thomas Frank has wondered aloud--and famously--what happened to the progressive idealism of Kansas to make it the wingnut capital of the Midwest. It's a loaded jab that speaks to what a pussy I am to cry at a new Star Wars film that reminded me of the old one in every meaningful way. That time is over. More, it never existed in the first place. Glory to the Superman movie that removes hope, and every memory of hope. Every shred.

I should mention that this Batman kills people as well. Not even Frank Miller's Bats killed people with this kind of purpose--at least not the one from Miller's seminal The Dark Knight Returns. In that way, he's like Tim Burton's Batman, and like Tim Burton's Batman, Snyder's Batman is a psychopath. He is, indeed, a thought too big for little minds. BVS is best read as expressionism. It isn't bound by character development or sense. Rather, it's strung-together dream sequences, perverse emotions, and nightmare imagery. There are bleeding crypts and holy levitations; unabashed Christian imagery and infernal suggestions abound (one of the caged human traffickees refers to Batman as "a devil"). Desecration of corpses and resurrections? Yes, both. There is the murder of parents--the ghosts of them, too, haunting literally and figuratively at the periphery. BVS is itself deranged. Its consciousness is delusional and subject to hallucination. There's a scene where Lois almost drowns in radioactive green water, not because it moves the script (the circumstances of her immersion are silly, the exposition setting it up clumsy and obviously a post-production crutch. "Did you find the spear?" When was the decision to look for it ever discussed?), but because the image of her trapped in glowing green is straight out of a Dario Argento movie. Inferno, to be precise. Batman/Bruce Wayne is angry with Superman for killing thousands of people, even though Superman did it to save thousands more: the Devil's rationale. So Wayne builds some Kryptonite weapons and challenges Clark Kent to a duel. Then Wonder Woman appears to a soundtrack sting that's suspiciously like Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," and she's as awesome as the suggestion that it's immigrants who will save Gotham and Metropolis. When Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman stand in hero poses, I had a moment of nostalgia true and painful to the kid version of me, eating frozen french fries and contemplating the value of teamwork and halls of justice. It doesn't last. Dreams never do.

"BVS isn't about that. It's about branding the bad guys like cattle, deep in their flesh, so they get "justice" in the prison yard. The word "justice" is so cynical a euphemism that you can only say it now with a sneer. BVS is about wholesale murder for the greater good, and the word "fear" is used so much that it should actually be the picture's subtitle instead. Take careful note of the moment where a hostage is freed and how our hero neglects to ask the one important question. Or another where a 9/11-esque memorial is used as a weapon. Take note, too, of Superman fucking Lois Lane in a bathtub. BVS is brutal to nostalgia. Batman's entire battle cry is how Superman is a naïf, a child, and how he's going to make him into a man by beating him to death. He crystallizes the struggle as offense that Superman's code is borrowed from a dead Kansas farmer, while Batman's is forged in the understanding that people die for no reason and that the only sense in the Universe is the sense one tries to impose on it."

-Walter Chaw, Batman Vs Superman Review, Film Freak Central 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Future is Fixed



Warning: spoilers abound


"During the Paris Commune, in all corners of the city of Paris, there were people shooting at the clocks on the towers of the churches, palaces, and soon, thereby consciously or not consciously expressing the need that somehow time has to be arrested, that at least the prevailing, the established time continuum has to be arrested and that a new time has to begin."- Herbert Marcuse

Hail, Caesar, the latest from the Coen Brothers, is fashioned as a screwball farce.  There are a number of elaborate stagepieces that seem to have the icky drippings of an Allen/Brooks-esque paen to early 20th century cinema.  However, it’s hardly intent on reliving/reanimating/reinvigorating a good old days or “Make Hollywood Great Again” schema.  And suffice to say, its form belies an impressive philosophical weight masked under its comedic veneer.

That much of the plotline is driven by its protagonist’s secretive battle against a shadowy group with the revealing name of “The Future” is telling.  Eddie Mannix, a character with a real life surrogate, is a kind of time agent, an ontology cop.  In a film that toys with retro-fetishization, set in a post-war past, Mannix is poised at the cusp of the oncoming second half of the 20th century.  Though it’s hardly alluded to, off-screen is brutality of World War II, which would linger in the air throughout the century like an albatross.  The 1950s were a period of grave uncertainty concerning whether humanity might ever make it beyond the atrocities of Auschwitz and Hiroshima.   One could hardly position during this time without a brief whiff of this floating around, and there is one, at least as much as supposed screwball farce will allow.

Employed as a Hollywood “Fixer”, Mannix’s role was to prevent the future, to sustain the collective unconscious and fix fantasy to the prescribed levels of the status quo.  This means suppressing homosexuality and unwanted pregnancies from public view, creating arranged marriages, and, at one point, even bartering an unborn baby to an accountant in order to avoid a scandal (which knowing the Coens must be some kind of biblical allusion).  As a Catholic, Mannix is constantly conflicted, but hardly for the reasons listed above.  He seems mostly okay with the work, but little things- such as lying to his wife about quitting smoking- rattle him*. 


He also helps supply a steady stream of gossip to the press, personified in the form twins played by Tilda Swinton.  One models herself as a “serious” journalist while the other embraces her indulgence in the tawdry, but of course this is a false duality.  Both women and their respective publications are fixated on the same junk, feeding the masses pap while the future looms large.  By keeping the hungry tabloids satiated, Mannix is able to effectively depoliticize Hollywood’s larger role in shaping hearts and minds and even pulls the wool over what would likely be the studio’s biggest scandal- that one of their biggest stars is a defector and spy for the Soviet Union. 


Mannix is tempted with two possible futures.  On one side of the table is “The Future”, a group that turns out to be a bunch of mostly benevolent, chin-scratching, tweed-wearing Communists more obsessed with the dialectic than engaging in full-on class warfare (more on them in a bit).  At the other side of the table is a “cushy” job offer waiting in the wings at Lockheed Martin, whose version of “fixing” is marketed to Mannix by a recruiter in the form of a Polaroid of the Atomic Bomb detonation over Bikini Atoll.  The Bikini Atoll detonations, of course, caused unseen damage in terms of poisoning the native population and then effectively starving them out while the island was being condemned, but the larger moral implications of working on weapons of mass destruction never seems to be much of a factor to the hard-boiled Mannix. It’s simply a better-paying gig with better hours and an easier workload. 

A new utopian order, albeit one crafted by a bumbling left intelligentsia, or a continuation of the destruction and devastation WWII left in its wake?  Of course, Mannix opts to choose neither and quickly houses himself back within the fantasy realm.  Faced with uncertainty of nuclear annihilation or Communist overthrow, it’s simple for Mannix to retreat.  And it’s this, more than any of the other dilemmas of the film that seems to unsettle him the most.

At one point, Mannix confronts his priest in the confessional and winces while asking him “Is it wrong to do something if it’s easy?”  At this point, he has been pontificating over the career switch, so the audience is meant to assume that this crisis of faith has to do with the offer from Lockheed Martin, but I’d take it that this is one of the film’s many clever bits of misdirection.  Mannix’s work in the culture industry is to essentially dehumanize the fantasy realm and purge it of its burgeoning nightmares, to produce escapist puff like a film where naval sailors sing and dance while they ship out to war, off to participate in one of history’s greatest collective traumas. He even defangs Jesus by making him a peripheral figure in their big budget epic (also called Hail, Caesar).  The film seems to want to ask of all these nostalgic impulses and happy-go-lucky romps scrubbed of any indecency; is it wrong to do something if it’s easy? 

It’s a harder question than it seems.  The Communists, who openly admit to sneaking propaganda and Marxist messaging into screenplays, seem to think that perhaps films should be something more, that they should advocate on behalf of a new value system.  To Mannix, movies are not art and not politics.  They’re a gig, with all the embedded institutional authority of any other job.  Swap a cowboy into a melodrama if the studio head tells you it needs to be done like swapping out papers in a filing cabinet.  But when Mannix inserts actor Hobie Doyle, known for his Western roles, into a period piece, he stumbles on a single line and spends what seems like an eternity trying to straighten it out.  That line? “would that it were so simple?”


The Communist storyline piqued the interest of Jacobin’s Eileen Jones, who determined that despite the Coens depicting the Commies as a bunch of kindly academic buffoons who pontificate on exploitation while vacationing with movie stars amidst an ever-frustrated housemaid, the film’s core is essentially Marxist.  I wouldn’t go that far.  The Coens are too hung up on presenting any ideologies or belief systems as dead weight floating betwixt the sea of existential nihilism that is consciousness to lean too far in one direction, but the film is perhaps more sympathetic than its skewering portrayals would signify.

Hail Caesar’s star Baird Whitlock is kidnapped off the set of his film, but treated well.  His ideas and thoughts are entertained with no less consideration than that of the communists.  He spends a few days with them in which he seems to be able to leave of his own accord, but does not.  In the course of events, he is either indoctrinated or converted, depending on your angle.  However, when he returns hoping to share his newfound knowledge with others, Mannix assaults him and confirms what the communists have told him about him being a particularly-pampered, nullified extension of Hollywood’s system of exploited labor.  Mannix reminds him that he has a job to do and states that he’s no different than “the director…and the writer and the script girl and the guy who claps the slate”. 



The title of the film seems to allude to the famous biblical story of a Roman soldier who comes to collect taxes from Jesus, who has been in open revolt against the tax collectors.  When confronted, Jesus says “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”, a phrase which has been interpreted in many different and often contradictory ways in both deference to and defiance of state authority throughout the years.  “Hail, Caesar” holds no illusions about the interpretation of its title.  When Baird Whitlock confronts Mannix about the fact that the studio system is essentially the modern equivalent of “bread and circuses”, Mannix cuts him down to size. “The picture has worth and you have worth if you serve the picture”, Mannix says, “and you’re never gonna forget that again!” 

Mannix the Catholic has created a false idolatry in the studio system, an authority unto which to bow, to hail. And though he has spent the entire film wondering if he’s just doing a kind of frivolous job, it’s here that Mannix seems to have his moment of clarity.  The studio system’s major merit is its reign over the imagination of men. Contrary to its escapist exterior, cinema (in the 1950s) was the reigning god-king of ideology.

A crucial figure for the second half of the 20th century is Herbert Marcuse, who makes an unlikely appearance at the Communist hideaway where The Future stows Whitlock. A German ex-pat who actually worked in intelligence services for the U.S. Government during World War II, Marcuse eventually became a massive influence on what was known broadly as The New Left, a constituency that included the free speech movement, various civil rights groups (feminists, gay rights groups, black liberation organizations, et al.), hippies, the anti-war movement, and various other factions of the counterculture.   He was also crucial in developing, via the Frankfurt School and his own research, a blueprint for the field of cultural studies, which took seriously things like film as a force which can shape and have unforeseen impacts on the sociopolitical atmosphere of a culture. 

Though the film shows the Communists being secretly aligned with the Soviet Union, Marcuse’s work actually represented a split with the Marxist/Leninist axis, distancing itself from the politics of labor, which argued for dignity within work.  Seeking to expand on the prior notions of exploitation and degradation of labor, Marcuse saw how in post-war society, the proletariat had actually won dignity to some degree*, but capitalism had evolved past a model of totalitarianism or authoritarianism to one of control and manipulation.  Society had become one where critical thinking was discouraged in favor of “one-dimensional” thought.  Humans, rather than individuated beings of spiritual significance, had become mere consumers, an extension of their commodities.  Labor was subsumed into the bureaucratic ends of capitalism, fighting for its right to serve rather than its right to be free.  Marcuse, having lost faith in the revolutionary potential of the proletariat, saw that “the future” lay with outcasts, envisioning a mass counterculture that unionized the socially marginalized with those who, for one reason or another, rejected society.


All of this seems pretty at odds with the Marcuse that the Coens depict in Hail, Caesar.  Perhaps they just chose a figure active during the time period at random, but given the film’s central crux, about choosing between potential futures, it’s interesting that they happened to select someone who had such a massive, albeit indirect, impact on the way culture as a whole reshaped in the midst of the changes of the 1960s and 1970s.  As a figurehead from the Frankfurt school in the U.S. too, he was probably the most convenient public intellectual to use for jabs at the “bread and circuses” of what would later be called the spectacle society, but as a founder of the New Left his worldview would have massive ramifications on how the radical left would come to see culture and demand change, with varying degrees of political success, before neoliberalism began to roll them back.




Mannix, guardian of spectacles, wins in the end of Hail, Caesar.  Whitlock returns, is disavowed of any revolutionary leanings, scandals are avoided, and the studios get to make their pictures.  But in a sly wink back to the hideaway Communists who snuck propaganda into their screenplays, patting themselves on the back for their potentially wasted subversion, the Coens end their film-within-a-film with Whitlock returning to finish his role and delivering a speech that also doubles as a kind of communist tract.  As the score swell, Whitlock’s Roman Centurion bows at the feet of Christ hanging on the cross*** and discusses how he initially doubted that Christ could be the messiah, for Christ was a common man and not a noble.  As he begins to expound on why being a commoner makes more sense if God is truly in everything, the cameras for the first time pan away from the movie stars onto the faces of the laborers, grips, stagehands, and the like making the movie, lighting them in an almost maudlin fashion that reminded me of a scene out of the infamous 1954 film Salt of the Earth, made independently by blacklisted Hollywood communists.  It’s a move that, in pure Coens fashion, is both completely cynical (the real children of God are those who create the fantasy complex) and vaguely optimistic (perhaps there will be a future after all). 

The scene make present the common assertion that Christ’s message was ultimately socialistic.  While Mannix for the time being has thwarted the future, this film about the future set in the past seems to contain a warning about the fact that the past too is a minefield, that no present can remain fixed for long.****  Or, as Marcuse once said, “Remembrance of the past may give rise to dangerous insights, and the established society seems to be apprehensive of the subversive contents of memory.” 





*This may be reading too far, but I took this  at least in part as an affront against Hollywood’s soft war against tobacco, banning tobacco product placement in films in 1997 and strongly discouraging its use in films since.  While efforts to cut down on making teen smoking seem cool, there’s the wholly more troubling acts of wanton violence, unequal representation, damaging stereotypes, and use of women as sexual rewards for men that pepper most of the filmic landscape and are likely far more damaging.
**It should be noted that at the time in the U.S., labor unions were strong, unemployment and cost of living were relatively low, and the rich were taxed at 90%, amongst other advantages
***This no doubt also doubles as Whitlock bowing down to the studio and Mannix, re-avowing his faith in cinema.

**** Within a decade and a half of the film's plot, the country would explode in violence and the New Left would infiltrate Hollywood.  Thanks in no small part to the free speech movement, the studios opened themselves up to more adult-oriented content and the X-rated Midnight Cowboy would win the Oscar for Best Picture in 1970


RIP Phife Dawg

Friday, March 18, 2016

Nah, Queen


#NotUSYou


So, Broad City's latest season is utterly brilliant and everyone should be watching it if they love comedy.  However, this past week's Hillary cameo was like a campaign ad preempting a funny show and rubbed me all sorts of wrong.  As a Bernie backer, this is probably not surprising but even Sanders did a walk on along the same script it would have felt just as icky (chances are when they were shooting this nobody thought Bernie would still be in the race).  At heart, Broad City is a stoner comedy and it should be crucial that Hillary Clinton is against full legalization of marijuana, meaning the Draconian marijuana laws on the books in New York (though revised from their worst aspects over the course of the past ten years) would still apply to Abbi, Ilana, and the rest of the Broad City universe.  Essentially, Hillary is in favor of criminalizing the cast of the show she's looking to boost her millennial fuel. As well as, you know, your friends and loved ones who may also occasionally smoke weed.

There's also the issue of how an anti-authoritarian misfit like Ilana would come to grovel in awe of someone so transparently centrist, safe, and...well, normcore, as HRC. HRC may occasionally come around to progressive stances, but I'd take Ilana's oft-misguided but passionate outbursts to Clinton's careful focus-grouped motions any day of the week.  It may also be noted that one of the main characters of the show, Jaime, is both gay and a drug dealer and up until a few years ago HRC would have criminalized Jaime's ability to marry too.

These may be an ideological rather than a narrative issue, but the narrative also seemed to immediately lose focus as soon as it needed to be made clear how ABSOLUTELY SERIOUS everyone in her campaign office was, marking a clear delineation between this WORLD WHERE SERIOUS PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE THAT BENEFIT THE REST OF US vs. that sleazy, lazy world that the rest of those plebes and slobs live in.  And isn't it sad how hard it is to imagine another feminist figure of import that they could have substituted for HRC had the cameo fallen through? Maybe Beyonce turned them down? But after that who else would be recognizable enough for such a showstopping role?

Those jokes about the campaigning phone-banking and getting asked if Hillary is a witch "every day" were pretty funny though. Also, nearly missed the part where Abbi introduces herself by saying "I pegged".


Here's the scene to beat on TV in 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Celebrated Death of Low Key Advocacy




“And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan–in particular Mrs. Reagan–we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it. And you know that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective, low-key advocacy but it penetrated the public conscience. And people began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too"- Hillary Clinton

This may be one of the most offensive things she's said so far.  To rebrand the Reagans, who would've been content to let AIDS wipe out the queer population and acted with scorn that some would even think it merited their time (see the conversations above), as cautious but somehow brave champions of care is beyond contemptuous.  There is no way to read the Reagan legacy on HIV/AIDs as anything but abysmal.  It's impossible to know just how long their failure to act quickly set back research for those research vaccines/treatments.

It was so bad that Rock Hudson, once one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and a friend of the Reagans, had to look to France to find a hospital that could actually treat the disease with any of the attention it needed.  He pleaded with Nancy to help get him clearance to be admitted, which he could not do initially on account of not being French.  Fearing being associated with a gay disease, Nancy refused to help but instead directed him to the French Ambassador's office.  He would eventually make it into that hospital after being transferred from another one, but died shortly afterward.

And there's the thing- the ones who actually did advocate, who marched and did the hard work of fighting for AIDS awareness- many of them did not live to see it come to fruition.  They were not using a "low-key advocacy" approach, because they literally did not have time to wait for change to come.  They were fighting from their deathbeds  This is the crux of the issue with Hillary Clinton's "Low-key advocacy" approach; it expects all of us to wait for low-key advocates to come out of the woodwork- until these shitty human beings who hide behind poll numbers and focus groups feel safe enough with what's arguably an intensely low-level risk compared to the sacrifices of the activists living and dying for these causes.  There's no limit to how many groups are expendable to the wishy-washy trends and fundamentalist devotion to "political reality" when someone's stance on a controversial issue may or may not poll well in their key districts.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

These Are the Dying Years

More high school musical memories coming (20 years since Freshman year).  Bear with me:



I heard this song for the first time in what seemed like eons the other day.  As a goof, my initial thought was that it should be the Donald Trump campaign theme song.  As the song progressed though, it resonated stronger and stronger with everything that has been happening. When it finally built to the climax, a moment before the final refrain of the chorus where Manson declares, almost under his breath, that  "History is written by winners", I got chills.

Antichrist superstar is an album about demagoguery.  In this instance, it takes the form of the making of a rock star from awkward and disturbed childhood to larger-than-life fame, but the crux of the album is about the cult of celebrity and how much power can come from the validation/narcissism complex.  It often gets deeply personal in the ways it tackles surviving abuse, but it's also about the ugly ways in which abuse can have deep ramifications if it cannot be dealt with appropriately.  This may be why it became such an intense emotional statement for the kids who flocked to it.  Its core audience were rejects, throwaway teens who'd either transgressed in some way or who'd been culturally deformed by their elders.  In the absence of proper support, they turned to Manson and any criticism aimed at him would backfire because he had understood them when those who'd pledged to do so failed miserably.

In a way, music has shied away from these kinds of transmissions from deep in the blackened heart of the American nightmare in recent years.  One thing the 80s and 90s underground was really good at was connecting the threads of all these currents of "Apocalypse Culture" and finding that dark root, the Jungian shadow of neglect and misuse, which operates surrogate from conventional political reality. Underground Music has shifted to such an abstract place that lyrics are either impenetrable or esoteric and mostly tertiary.  So those who may have formerly found refuge in or sublimated anguish into art are left with a scattered landscape offering various disconnected methods of escape- Trump, 4chan troll culture, mass shootings, MRA, Silk Road, gun rallies, Dawkins style anti-theism, et al.


Manson had talked for years before his fame about making this huge statement album, which he had already dubbed "Antichrist Superstar" in a kind of cheeky allusion to Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar.  Whereas that musical forecasted the revolutionary spirit of flower power as an extension of the message of Christ (and specifically tapped into the "Jesus Freak" movement to do so), Manson's Antichrist Superstar would be an inverse of that, the album fixating on the physical flip that had converted '69 into '96.  His goal, which was quite successful, was to become the biggest rock star in the country and to prove how idolatry could be used for any means.  And he did it.  He became the biggest figure in the country. Mass hysteria ensued, particularly in the (understandably) jolted Evangelical community who saw him evoking Satan to hordes of adoring youth. He came to dominate the news cycle post-OJ and soon became a "problem to be fixed" by many conservatives powers that were (and some that still are).

However, despite rallying up for the release of an event album and its subsequent impact as his life's work, Manson never provided an out for himself.  He hadn't planned for a sequel.  I legitimately think he thought that he'd be assassinated and become some kind of martyr for his beliefs.  I remember prevalent rumors about him planning a suicide act on stage.  His shows carried the hint of danger and were occasionally the site of bomb threats by the Christian right.   The lyric sheet for "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" lists that it was recorded live on February 14, 1997 (4 months after the album was released), suggesting some kind of future event to look out for, in additional to making it a kind of anti-Valentines day anthem.  When none of this happened though, things sort of petered out for Manson.  He made one okay LP afterwards and then began a slow descent into a punchline.  When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.

So much of Trump's rhetoric and nihilist thought streams can absorbed though through this album's prism.  The very anthemic "Fuck it" and "I wasn't born with enough middle fingers" of the opening cut seems to be his and his follower's mantra.  Trump is not so much pro-anything as he can "never [have] enough for anti-more".  And "capitalism has made it this way" but Trump ensures us that, even though he is one of the "horrible people", "Old fashioned fascism will take it away" so "hate every motherfucker that's in your way".  I could legitimately see Trump saying "you live with apes, man, it's hard to be clean."

Trump is not any kind of constructive force in the world. He's a negative ion. He doesn't add any substantial value, he just inverts, which is a what the death knell of society in "the dying years" would aspire to.  He will "hate the haters" (note that this was written well before "hater" become popular parlance in pop culture) and even "rape the raper" and negate every single thing that flies towards him that isn't a pat on the back because "I can't believe in the things that don't believe in me"


If we're on our way down now, Trump would like to take us with him.  When we are suffering, we'll know that he has betrayed us.


If it's not loud and clear enough, here it is: Trump is the fucking antichrist.  But he's our antichrist, our superstar.  "Whose mistake am I anyway?"