Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby. Let's get ourselves a treat.
Hello and welcome to movies versus capitalism and anti capitalist movie podcast. I am Frank Capello.
And I'm Rifka Rivera.
Rifka. What's going on? How's your weekend been going?
It was a good weekend. I went and saw Magic Mike, the last dance in theaters. And actually, maybe it's just because we're doing this pod now and everything I see. I'm like, this should be on the pod. But we'll definitely have to do that movie. At some point.
I would do the entire Magic Mike trilogy on this.
Yeah, it might have to including the reality TV show on HBO, which is actually gold. Basically, they gather all these men from all different walks of life to come together and become the best strippers they could possibly be. But it's like, it's it's about your inner stripper.
It's so it's so good. I loved it. Yeah. And it's about like body positivity. And like, you know, fighting against like toxic masculinity and stuff like that, right? Oh, it's okay. Tell me about the movie. It's
a whole Well, I thought it was gonna be a little better than it was to be honest. But there is a dance scene, the first scene of the film, if you see anything, just watch that scene and you can leave but it's it's gorgeous. And it's a you know, they try to tie it into this whole thing about it. Steven Soderbergh. And I don't know, I got the sense of it's like, Are you fucking with me? Actually, it's interesting. The topic we're probably gonna be talking about today. Capitalist realism. But I thought there were some moments where I'm like, Are you intentionally trying to take me out of this film to like, have me think about this too much, which is not what I wanted. In that moment. I wanted to be full on in that lap dance. That's all I wanted. And I appreciate being taken out of the moment.
Got it. So we've arrived at like the meta version of Magic Mike in this third one. Okay.
Yeah. But I'm a fan. I mean, I'm a fan. I did a whole Channing Tatum fit hole. So let's move on. Next topic.
I got you, I got you. I wanted to talk about this concept. It's something that we've talked about before and something we wanted to address in this podcast, specifically, the concept of performative anti capitalism, specifically as it relates to film. So I'm gonna be pulling from the book, as you mentioned, capitalist realism by Mark Fisher. The concept of capitalist realism is basically the assumption that capitalism is the only possible form of economic organization and the projected reality that is constructed from that assumption. This is best summed up by the famous quote by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, there is no alternative. And another quote attributed to Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Zizek, it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.
Okay, Frank, those were a lot of words. And I feel like I'll come up with this concept, I feel like I'll, my brain will come around to understanding it and grasping it, and then being like, what is capitalist what is being discussed here. But so in my understanding of it, when I hear that, I think that the last phrase you used about, it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, I think there's a reason my brain kind of bumps up against this misunderstanding, or this inability to even conceptualize capitalist realism, because of what it's talking about, right? It's almost like these limits on imagination, in a lot of ways
purposely imposed limits on imagination. That's basically it. It's just like, over the last 40 years, after the, you know, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of history, as Francis Fukuyama put it put it like that was like, we've been conditioned to believe that it will just be capitalism from now, until the end of human history, like for the next what 1000s and 1000s of years, like, like economic organizations don't evolve or whatever. So that's, that's broadly what this this concept is describing.
Yeah. And it comes up in the simplest sense of when I really when you try and think of these structures Take for example, abolition. And when you really try and imagine a world outside of policing, at least when I'm honest with myself, I'm like I can when you really sit with your brain through that you're like these, all of these limiting literal blocks start to come up, that for me, I experienced it. It's like a lot of fear or, but that can't be but that can't be and we're artists, right. I like to think that I'm in the practice of imagination. So it's really profound, how limiting that can be but I do think that's why the role of the art Is and imagination as a practice and a muscle is so important because I don't think that we were born with those limits, I really do think those are constructs that come along with this capitalist society in many different ways. I think it's really interesting, talking about the realm of imagination as well as creators and writers and thinking about these films that we're looking at these filmmakers. Because, you know, people always say, Well, I pulled from my imagination, or why can't I tell this story, I'm going to just write it out of my imagination. And I think we have our inherent authentic imagination. But we can also imagine from a collective place, which can be really beautiful, but you can also imagine from a collective capitalist place from a collective racist place from a collective sexist place. And without a critical analysis of that you could so easily mistake some of those ideas as authentically being your own, you know, we carry this sort of baggage of our society, we are not just going through this life solo, so we carry this baggage and throw it into our work all the time. And I think a good critical analysis of that is important. I think
that's a really beautiful way of putting it and I don't want to drill down on capitalist realism too much right now. But I wanted to pull this specific concept from the book that applies to what we're doing, which is performative anti capitalism specifically in film. So in the book, Fischer lays this out, quote, in fact, capitalist realism is far from precluding a certain anti capitalism. After all, anti capitalism is widely disseminated in capitalism, time after time, the villain in Hollywood films will turn out to be the evil corporation. Far from undermining capitalist realism, this gestural anti capitalism actually reinforces it. And then he goes on to use the movie Wally, as an example, you know, a movie that I'm sure we'll get to on this show, about a future where the world has been consumed by garbage, you know, it's like a hyper consumerist society that humans are now living in. So he lays this out and is basically saying like, he says, quote, a film like Wally exemplifies inter passivity, the film performs our anti-capitalism for us, allowing us to continue to consume without impunity. So I just wanted to bring this up, because I think it's a really interesting concept. And I, I largely agree with it. I do think, you know, for a lot of people, you know, seeing anti-capitalism in art and media can give you the feeling of, oh, wow, I'm really I'm doing something by like, ideologically agreeing with this, but you're not actually taking your politics to the street and taking your politics out into the world in a material way. So I think that I think this is largely true. But the one place where I would slightly disagree is I think it's better to have these messages in these films, rather than not have them at all. What how do you feel about this?
Yeah, I feel mixed. I mean, I think there's room for both. I think the critical analysis is important. I mean, of course, theatrically, think about Bertolt Brecht. For anyone who doesn't know Bertolt Brecht was a German theatre maker, and did a lot of anti capitalist work, and very much within this being believing that the classic idea of sitting back and being the spectator and observing the characters on stage bringing you to this emotional climax, but you're just observing the whole time, he felt that similarly, that that was a passive observation, and you weren't active as a participant in therefore couldn't be active in the politics needed for this change that his theater was advocating for. So there was a lot of breaking the fourth wall, a lot of ways in which you were not allowing your audience to be a spectator and have to be engaged, which I think is super important and valid. And I'm excited to think about all the ways that we can break those forms in film and theatre. And yet, I also happen to really like an emotional climax and have been moved to make important changes in my life as a result, and have been moved to take political steps as a result. So I don't know I'm sort of firmly in the middle. But I appreciate and understand these ideas. You know,
I think you're right, I think as long as you are recognizing, you know, your role as a spectator, but then also pushing yourself to be an actual actor, not like a film actor, but like an actor out in the world who actually is putting these ideas into practice or into practice. I think both can exist, but it requires that extra step of actually going out and doing stuff and organizing and getting involved in different you know, advocacy groups, whatever it is, however, it is that you actually, you know, make a material difference in the world. I mean, I think about this in terms of just us doing this podcast like is this podcast to us just, you know, talking about this stuff? Or are we making a material difference by talking about this stuff? You know, it's something that I grapple with internally all the time,
I do think there are creative ways that filmmakers and artists are thinking about that if you're gonna go in that route, there's a call to action. Like, if there's an intention or a political intention behind your film, how do you architect the way that film comes out and where you can send your viewer after they have maybe a cathartic experience to further their education or their action? I think the thing that's really disappointing is when you see a film that you thought had some sort of intention or motivation, and then you recognize that the architecture is the exact opposite and harmful to the people involved, harmful to the people that it's supposedly trying to help. And I'm sure we'll get into versions of that. But that I think, pisses me off more than anything.
I yeah, I think that's a tendency that we should definitely try to avoid at all costs if we can. All right, well, that's a good place to move on and let our audience know that this podcast is produced by the lever, a reader supported investigative news outlet, which reports on the people and corporations manipulating the levers of power in our society, you can go to lever news.com to find all of their original reporting. And as
we are trying to practice our values as anti capitalist media, we will not be selling ads on this show, we rely completely on community support to keep the show going. If you'd like to support this show, you can head over to lever news.com/mvc To become a paid supporter.
This is how it works. When you become a paid supporter, part of that money goes to our creative team, and part of that money goes to the lever.
So not only are you supporting this show, but you'll be supporting the levers independent journalism. As an added bonus, every supporter will also get access to all of delivers premium content.
And if you'd like to make a one time contribution, you can leave us a tip in our tip jar. Again, you can find all of that info at lever news.com/nvc. And that link is in the episode description in your podcast player.
Another way you can help us out for free is by leaving a rating and review for this show on your podcast app. It takes two seconds and it's super helpful in boosting the algorithm and also getting the show in front of more people. And we really appreciate it.
Yeah, seriously, pause this show right now and leave us a rating and review. It really, really helps us out.
We're gonna take a break but we'll be right back with our discussion about children of men with chris myers.
The ultimate mystery? Why are women in fertile some say ah genetic experiments pollution? Why do you think we can't make babies anymore? Those a mother, it's all over in 50 years is too late.
So we are joined by Chris myers today and Chris is a New York City based artists an actor, attended LaGuardia High School with me were classmates, and then went on to train at Juilliard. He won an Obie Award for his performance in Branden Jacobs, Jenkins, and Octoroon. And most recently performed in the show where the mountain meets the sea at MTC, which was fantastic. In addition to acting, Chris is also teach a teaching artist and an educator and founded anti-capitalism for artists, a community dedicated to raising class consciousness among artists, which both Frank and I got a chance to take one of your workshops with you. So welcome to movies versus capitalism, Chris,
I am happy to represent the side of capitalism today.
Oh, you're you're taking the pro position in this. Oh, okay. Go ahead. We We didn't plan on that. But let's roll with it.
No, I'm happy to be here. Thank you so much. Yeah, that was a lovely introduction.
Chris, were we your favorite students?
Yes. The answer is always yes to that question.
Wonderful. Okay, podcast done.
Yeah, we don't need to record the rest of this. That's all we needed. So Chris, the movie you chose for us to watch today is Children of Men, released in 2006, directed by Alfonso choron. Starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore to Mattel edgier for Claire hope Asha Tay and Michael Caine is based on the novel The Children of Men by PD James published in 1992. The budget was 75 million and worldwide box office was around 70 million so not a giant smash hit. The synopsis of this movie is it takes place in a dystopian near future where humanity has become infertile. And as the world descends into ecological chaos, a former activist named Theo played by Clive Owen is recruited by his ex wife to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary
some historical context for this film. This came out in 2006. George Bush Jr. is president and Tony Blair is Prime Minister and we're smack dab in the middle of the Iraq War. Congress just approved a 700 mile fence along 1/3 of the US Mexico border. Saddam Hussein has been executed. The Enron trials are wrapping up and the execs were found guilty. The E. coli spinach outbreak just raged and Steve Irwin is killed by a stingray BB, which was revelatory to me, I always thought it was a crocodile. So this is this is the context of where we're at when this film comes out. A very sad time, intense time. So Chris, why did you pick this film for us to watch? Let's start there.
Ah, okay. So like, it's funny, I picked this film very quickly. And I had to be like, Wait, is this appropriate for, you know, representing my, my values and beliefs in art? And, you know, I actually think that the number one reason if I want to start here is that this film is extremely good. It's a great film, every single aspect of it is operating on a very high level. Yeah, the writing the design, that performances every single thing. mythography the sound? Yeah, incredible. And I think I want to start there, because I think, to the extent that I do believe in agitation, propaganda, I do believe in applying critical thought to the content of our film, I do not think that any of that can outweigh the quality of the art making itself. Um, otherwise, we might as well just do other things like we might as well teach, write speeches, you know, but if we're going to do that, the art version of it, I think that should be really good. I think there's also some really practical reasons like, if your art is really good, more people will watch it. So like, if you want to, like get messages across, it actually behooves you to not cheeping out on the art just because you feel like you have a message. So like, that's really important to me. I do think that that's not necessarily common sense for like, artists on the left or whatever. But I think that, like I wanted to really highlight that and, but but on the content level, I think, I don't know that there's actually a discernible kind of politics in this film. I think what makes it really stark in a kind of anti capitalist way is, how accurate of a mirror it is, to the way our world and society here in the West works. And that's actually really hard to do. And I think hopefully, we'll keep talking, we'll get into like, the nuances of how the film accomplishes that, but, but it's so dark and yet, I don't think that it like a lot. I'm a big sci fi nerd, a lot of like, post apocalyptic sci fi, you kind of get the feeling is a little too much enjoyment. And Apocalyptica like, it's kind of like cool, you know, and like, this film is not happy, it has to be showing you this. And it's not precious about anything, like even the editing, you know, I think this is around the time when the like MTV, you know, hype cut everything into smaller and smaller edits, and just string them together. And like, there's these long shots that like, demand you think in terms of continuity, um, I'm getting a little film theory here. But I think that there's something postmodern about cutting things to a million pieces and stringing them together and like disorienting you, whereas this one was like really big. No, there's like, there are continuities, there's cause and effect, stick with it, watch it unfold in real time excruciatingly painful, real time. And a combination of that, that realism that isn't precious or Revit. Like, like, doesn't revel in it, doesn't enjoy it. And then also, against all kinds of odds, finds its way to the most like unpretentious sense of hope and beautiful home at the end is wild. That is so hard to do. Yeah. And it makes me think and I hope to not talk always as long but like, what I would say is like, I don't think the anticapitalist art is necessarily always about, like thinking like, what would art be like, if we didn't have capitalism and kind of like, being in this like, kind of dream space? I think that's important. We actually do a lot of that in our community today for a but I think that anti capitalist art should also necessarily be concerned with pre revolutionary art, like how do we get to that moment and like, it's actually really common to just throw like critique and heaviness at people and be like, not do something about it and not offer them any stirring, arousing sense of motivation or hope. And I think this film is like such a rare to this day. I mean, it came out one thing that wasn't in your intro list. It came out when we were graduating high school. While
Yeah, totally blank. It was the Hear that I graduated high school. Yeah,
it's been and yet nothing has changed, right? And like, so few films like this have come out since then. So that's why,
Chris that was, first of all, that was beautiful. That was a fantastic overture to get us into this. I completely agree. Well, there's a lot to unpack there. First, I completely agree with you about the filmmaking on its face. This is like a masterfully crafted, crafted film from like you said, from the production design, to the camerawork to the performances, everything. And it does, it really does make you sit in the discomfort of this world, that, as you said, is a pretty like a pretty logical mirror to our own. And I think that's, that's one of the most brilliant parts of this film and, and sort of like an addressing what you were saying about like pre revolutionary art, as opposed to like art that exists post a capitalist framework. This film does such a great job of just filling out all of the tension and the, the terrible nature of these conditions through just like the details of the film itself, like it doesn't, it doesn't beat you over the head with the information, it doesn't really no one's addressing, like the state, like what, like what state power is, in this future, like, there are no open conversations about like, and I was actually reading in the book that this is based on, like, it's very clear, like, this is an authoritarian state. It's been, it's run by, you know, the quote Warden who is like, you know, whatever, like the Prime Minister is like consolidated, they don't mention that at all. All they do in this film is, you know, they, they throw in these details of just like walking past open air prisons, and not even not even mentioning them, or just seeing like, just the casual refuse that is all over the streets. And I really agree with you. And I wanted to bring this up that like, as far as dystopian stories go, I really gravitate towards something like this, as opposed to you know, more of like a 1984 Brave New World Fahrenheit 451, which are like so conceptually different from our world. I think that this film fits much more in like a parable of the sower realm, which is, you know, where societal collapse is slow and accepted, accepted by the people who still live in this world, like, like the frog in the pot of water, who's boiling. Yeah, and again, with like, the way that it just depicts the deep like the, you know, there's constant scapegoating of illegal immigrants, just like in in signage, and just like casual conversation, you know, like, they just pass over, there's like a one shot just like, here's some religious zealots, and they're having a giant, you know, like a giant congressional congregational meeting, they don't even address it. They're just like, this is just part of this world. And then obviously, there's also like, the massive poverty that's going on, like completely ignored. And then we get to see like people who are still living a life of wealth. So it's like, perfect world building. And it it gets its politics across without having to, like you said, like, really, like, explicitly say what its politics are. It's I mean, I loved getting to revisit this. This was such a cool rewatch at this point in my life.
Yeah, I'm with both of you. And I love this point that you're making about artists, St. Chris, and and how, because it would be one thing to have these ideas, but this is I mean, Korans master. I mean, it's incredible to see how much intentionality I mean, he talks about how much his influencers are Naomi Klein, and he's so many influences that he's pulling from, I found a quote where he talks about this isn't a prophetic piece that this is just a compound of studies and essays of other people around the time. So it's intentionally not in this realm of fantasy or sci fi, but that it is a reflection like you were you were talking about. And I know, I read that he had sat down with his designers, and they initially brought him some of that, like, sci fi, where I was like, No, this needs to reflect I want it to and it really does. I mean, this is taking place in 2027. But it looks just like our world now. In a haunting way. You know, he decided he talks about also just making the choice of not having close up so everything is in a wide because the environment is so it's the most it's the most important character. That choice alone. I mean, I had to I watched this in the mall. I couldn't even watch this at night. It was so sick. This is so scary. But to your point about hope, I think for me, I was blown away. I didn't remember it as being so optimistic. I didn't expect to be so excited about humanity. And it happens right at the very end. And I think one of the themes of this film is faith versus chance, which is so beautifully articulated. Jasper, the character that Michael Caine plays, speaks about this midway through the film, and starts talking about how everything is mythical. It is a mythical and cosmic battle between faith and chance. And they were referencing in Yang, Lennon and McCartney. And then they get into this quote, which I think frankly, you have
Julian and Theo met among a million protesters in a rally by Charles. But they were there because of what they believed in, in the first place, their faith, they wanted to change the world. And their faith kept them together. But by chance,
Dylan was born. This is him. Yes, if it had been about
your age, magical child, beautiful. They're fine faith, put in practice charts with their sweet little dream, little hands, the legs, the feet, little lungs 2008 Lankan flu pandemic. And then by chance he was gone. Jesus. You see, Theo's faith, lost out to chance. So why bother? If life's going to make its own choices?
I find it I find it really interesting. You chose that because I actually have a note about that exact speech specifically the last line I actually dislike this speech. I think it's actually kind of dangerous, right? Because Jasper expertly played by Michael Caine very charming, you know, smokes pot. Yeah, the idea that farts very funny guy. What is he ultimately, you know, advocating for, you know, he finds his way to apathy, at the very end, why bother if life is going to make its own choices? And we must, we must remember that at the end of the day, even though he calls said, a fascist pig, he is in fact, collaborating with a fascist pig. Right, surely. And I think generationally, you know, he reminds me of kind of somebody who maybe was involved in leftist movements, and just stopped caring at a certain point, you know, as a Marxist, I am a, you know, I take up this kind of philosophical grounding of dialectical materialism. And actually, this idea that there's a dichotomy between faith and chance is kind of like, not useful for how I conceive of like, changing the world, that actually, you know, whatever we think of as chance is malleable. And there is all kinds of good reasons, you know, he says, why bother if life is going to make its own choices, it's like, this idea that life makes his own choices is why you can sleep well at night and be collaborating with the fascists, right? Because life is gonna make his own choices. It's like, actually, you can make a choice, a different choice, we can all make a different choice. Sure. And I think that, that, that, that that moment is in the film, because, and this goes back to what you were saying, I think earlier, so much of this film shows us how, you know, things won't go out with a bang, like, we will all just most of us will just go along as the world is clearly ending, we will just go along with it and we'll make up our own will rationalize reasons why it's okay. You know, and some of us will have really beautiful poetic rationalizations, and some of some of us will have more simple ones, you know, I think it's important to note that it film starts with Theo going to work day drinking, like some of us will numb ourselves with alcohol. Some of us his I think it's his brother in law or whatever bid the guy the guy cause cousin Yes, cousin. You know, he's, they're all popping pills, you know, probably like the best designer shit, but like, you know, anything to me, that guy literally says, you know, clever one is like, how do you how do you do? And he's like, I just don't think about it. It says, you know, that is like a constant refrain. And I think that's just I don't think I think Jasper is more poetic. But he's basically saying the same thing. I just, you know, I wouldn't What do you do? I throw my hands up.
Well, I think what do you think, Chris? Because I think it's, I agree with you that it's dangerous. But I feel like this is the this is the I love that it's in there because I do think it's asking us the question. And I found that was so much of my journey. Watching this movie, as an audience was was trying to find what are my moments of faith? What do I feel powerless to? And I actually felt my experience was, I had a lot more I felt like a lot more agency and recognition of my own power, which I think is interesting, because I do think the effect of so much sci fi is to lean towards you're just powerless to these things. So lean back and let it happen. But the fact that the fate they have the faith in the human project, but they do have to make these choices to get there, and that the choice Our choices are connected to faith that it isn't this false dichotomy, that they're very much connected, and that there is a spiritual force in this movie as well. Which is this magical Humanity and this magic of you know, I think the women in this film are incredible how they they're the women in the in the animals and the nature Shepherd this sort of like spiritual truth. But it is a, I guess that was I love it because I kind of leaned on recognition of you have to make choices that are guided by faith, but you can't sit back and make choices.
I'll just say real quick his response to that. I think that it's a tricky speech, but I think he actually contradicts it by making the choice to sacrifice his life so that anybody else can get going. And
I read I agree with you that like the the oversimplification, like the movie, if occation of that speech, like it has to be like, there has to be just like a clear like dichotomy, choice of faith versus chance. It can be dangerous, but I read it in that moment, as you know, Jasper character basically using Theo as like a cautionary tale. And like that was that was my read on it and that like, but it's someone who can at least call people on their bullshit. And that seems to be that least was my take away from his role in this moment was to be like, Yes, I'm bad shit happened to Theo and then he gave up he gave up on humanity. He gave up on what he believed in, just because like life is really Delta machete hand at what point but you know that that was ultimately I feel like he's disapproving of Theo's choice. And I think like the rest of the movie goes to show like, you know, what, what can happen when your faith is reignited, which is, which is what I think what his clients are ultimately,
well in the hole. And I'm curious how what your experience was because the whole time I was like, there's, I really was like, there's no humanity. Like, I didn't remember I'd seen this film so long ago, I didn't remember what happens. I'm like, is there a humanity project? This like, don't they test you the whole time. And to me, that was just like, I kept thinking about this idea of like, that, you know, the Toni Cade Bambara quote about the role of the artist is to make the revolutionary resistible I just felt like it really, it really did something remarkable around that which was just, I was like, pulling up my own faith in, in spite of how brutal this movie is, and just brutal in the sense of like, it's not giving you any fantasy, like you're not, you're just like, This is so real. And we are all living in the, in the fantasy.
The one thing I did think, by the end of this movie, which I had never really clocked before, was like, I don't know if I fully if I fully went along with FiOS, like political development throughout the like, from the middle to the end of the film, I guess, I guess just in this rewatch, I was like, is he just doing this? Because his ex wife was killed? Like, does it like does he actually believe like, didn't like, because I didn't see any sort of like demonstrated moments of him, you know, like re articulating his faith or re articulating his politics. I mean, I know that like, ultimately, he like sacrifices his life. So clearly, he believed in something and maybe that's just like me wanting wanting some of these themes to be laid out more clearly. I usually err on that side, which is like, you know, sometimes it's good to just like, say what you mean out loud and not leave it so much up to the audience to decipher because audiences can take the wrong message away from that. Did you feel like, you feel like you like really went along with Theo's Ark? Was there anything missing in there for you? Or your?
Yeah, I mean, I feel like what I like about Theo is he's a, it's a really well constructed antihero in the sense that like, various ways, he doesn't want to do anything, at least feeling. And so even after his ex wife is killed, you know, the story, he still wants to get out and back to London as soon as possible, you know, he's at the safe house or whatever. It's only because he overhears that they're going to kill him that he makes a dash from there. So they just accurate self preservation. And I think like, it truly just becomes about the preservation. Until it doesn't I mean, I don't know, it's like, I feel like there's an emotional beat that I don't know if I exactly know where it is, where it feels like you know, with that baby with that promise of a new world that after having lost like so much like he literally is like shoeless, you know,
and he continues he continues to lose throughout this entire like, you just keep losing more he loses Jasper, he loses he loses us, he loses everyone that's there to help him and key like it's just a movie of just like losses after losses.
And I think everybody in Bexhill I mean, I think Bexhill is like a location where even those people who are who have lost everything like you know, they take your watch on the way and you have like, the people still go on right they still index hill or like building a society in the ghetto and like you know, there's like different gangs and put like, it's like people still don't give like they that At bottom, just for some reason never. And it's like, I think what's important about his journey is, I think at some point, he comes to realize, you know, I never really had anything, you know, like, this world is ending, and he's just kind of brought so low to the point where I think he accepts that which I think is, is a kind of less than or revolutionaries that like, you know, everything we have is kind of given to us by this oppressive system. And so yeah, on the one hand, we had, there's like a contradiction and like, we have it, but it's all kind of built on blood. And so I think that, like, his journey is kind of being so stripped down and just refusing to, at a certain point, accept it. Rather, you know, it's just yeah, there's, there's something about this metaphor of this child, which is like the promise of a better world to come. But he just, it's at a certain point. And I think, you know, maybe you could even say that, on some level, he thought he was going to make it to the human project on the boat. Like he didn't think he was going to just take a bullet and now like, he's still probably on some level was like, I get a shot to live.
Like, this is my only way out. Yeah, I do feel like you get
you get peace from him at the end, like a piece that yes, never had.
And what I love about what you're pointing out, Frank is because I felt that way. And I was like, I, I think it might be intentional, like we're so I know, Quran likes to play with what we typically think of he talks about sort of narrative, film being hostage to narrative and does a lot of choices not to give us a lot of narrative straight out, it's in the, it's hidden in beautiful, different ways. But like, I think that he's intentionally playing with what our idea of a hero is, or an antihero is but like, I do think along the lines of chance versus faith, I wouldn't say that he's, he's the vessel that honestly, the women in this film have chosen. And I think that says a lot about movement, how movement movements work, that everything is moving forward because of the choices of a whole group of people. And typically, you would find a film like that being like, this is the hero moving this forward. And he's doing all of these things. And really, he's along for the ride. And they've decided as well as, again, the animals I love how in every frame, there's like a kitten crawling up his leg, or like all the animals have chosen him that it's sort of, but it feels like a collective choice that no matter what, this, this girl, this child is going to make it to the Human Project. And he can't really get in the way of it. And he kind of tries everything. You know, he's sort of just like, they're like, No, we've chosen you. We trust you. But I like that he's not the savior of this film.
Sure. Like the reluctant hero, the reluctant leader. Yeah, that makes sense. What did you both think this is a random question. But you know, like the the storyline of the fishers, which is like this, we're to believe like this leftist militant group. But they haven't they have a turn, they have a really dark turn where they're like, we're just going to use this baby for political purposes, we're going to kill this guy. Like, we're, if anything, we're probably just as bad like the movies saying to you, like, these people are just as bad as most of the other, you know, most of the other actors in this film, what did you take from that? Because for me, I was like, I'm always bummed in a movie where like, the the people you think that are like the more leftist activist and being like, fucking evil as well. Like, how do you reconcile that? Because I'm always like, damn, I wish that, you know, maybe like that could have been handled with a little bit more, a little bit more care.
Yeah. I mean, I think that's an important, you know, I didn't I didn't catch that. When I first watched this, you know, or my first probably 10 watchings. But now that I'm more in meshed in and left politics, and frankly, the history of, of different political tendencies on the left, I think that it actually is really valuable moment. Because, you know, I think that they represent a very, very common pitfall of leftist organizing, which is like a kind of accelerationist thing where, you know, you just want to get the shit going. But you can contrast that to the Human Project, and which presumably are, you know, also leftist. And I think you also, by the way, if you recall, you see some kind of in Bexhill, you see some kind of old Soviet you know, that's the guy who takes them in kind of toward the end of the film business and you should use is like, Soviet pictures. Do you see how can you see a couple of different kinds of tendencies of of like, left organizing, but I think of and I know, this isn't for this podcast, but I just recently watched Endor, which I do hope to come back and talk about and like, dude, similar laws. Yeah, yeah. It's similar vibes to like, how they show the like, the resistance as a really methodical, organized disciplined organization is very similar, like Andorra and the Human Project, whereas, you know, the group that you would tell the fishes, fishers or fishes, fishers, I think are like really undisciplined and perhaps, lack in theory, you know, and I think again, as a Marxist like You know, not everybody listening, who's an anti capitalist might agree with me on this. But I think that those things are really important. I think that we handle the contradictions, and we raise them only when appropriate, and it's really tempting to want to jump the gun. But, um, you know, I do think that it would have, I don't think I don't think it would have helped their cause to use the child as they as they wanted. And I and I also, last thing I'll just say is, this is part of a larger thing that I think the film also hints at, which is, there are many forms of organizing in this film, right? There is religious organizing areas like this kind of making anarchist organizing their state organizing, like their, you know, even in Bexhill there are, you know, gang organizing, like there's so many for and I think that's a really important lesson because like, we think of organizing as something maybe like a historical thing with like a grand illustrious theory behind it. But like, I think it's also important, and it goes back to the fishers is like, organizing is all around us. And it actually isn't that hard to get going, like the Black Panther Party, the Communist Party of China, they started with book clubs, people just got around and started like sharing ideas, and they built parties and organizations. But like, I think there's a lesson in there, like somebody's always organizing. And we have to choose really carefully. What theory guides that organization in where and we have to pick a side, right, because we don't pick aside, you know, not doing something is doing something or not doing something as allowing the people who are doing something to gain ground, right. And so I think that, like all of that is contained in the fissures. And I think, yeah, I think that I think, as a Marxist, they were incorrect to, to use the child in that way. But I also
I appreciate you he tells performance because I think I also missed that I think it a first viewing or the complexity of that. But I think that's also because to tell plays it and it's written, not as upfront, that guy like, the Hollywood is ation of it, you know, you're like, these characters are all so complex. And again, it's all in a wide frame, because you're constantly seeing everyone in the context of something. And it's never a close up, where you're only seeing this person just for what they're doing. You're always recognizing how the dialectics of their relationships of their relationships, the world
and everyone is operating under the like, in conditions of pure desperation. So like there's, you know, as ethically or morally opposed as you might be to, you know, the Fisher's using the child there is like, I guess, like, in on the darkest of days, like a, like a nihilistic justification for that in sort of, like, like, like you were saying, Chris, that more accelerationist tendency. And thank you, thank you for I love I love getting to talk to you, Chris. Because I have like a, like a half thought out question. And then you're like, here is a fully formed rhetorical essay on this subject. So
if I can, if I can just give one more addendum i to that point, which I think I kind of missed is that one of my favorite books is is this book called nightfall by Isaac Asimov. He actually co wrote it with another guy, I'm sorry to this man, I forget his name. But it's basically like there's this world ending event coming. We're still in the post apocalyptic thing, but it's coming and everybody knows it's coming. And there's two people trying to organize its prevention. There's like this big science group that's trying to deal with it scientifically and rationally. And then this is big religious group that's already existed. But now that the N times are coming, they're like, you know, people are really looking at them. Now, Asimov, staunch atheist, you know, messaging is love science. But he I think he doesn't have a credit here, which basically, what happens is when the event comes, the science people can't get their shit together for a number of reasons. You know, they don't have all the answers. Sometimes rationality is like, not enough in the in the face of just like things you can't understand. Maybe they're not to talk to people as well as the religious folks do. So when she finally stuff, I don't know if we can curse her. Finally, when she finally hits the fan, the religious people actually kind of like see things through and they really like Shepherd people, and he doesn't like, glorify them. Like he still, they're still like, kind of cultish and stuff. But basically, like they have the tools to see people through the End Times. And you can love it or hate it. You can be a believer or not a believer, but he's clearly not endorsing what I love about that book, especially for Isaac Asimov. It's like he's not even endorsing religion. He's just saying like, these moments of like people say, Let's burn it all down. I assure you that if we burned it all down today, the right wing reactionary forces without number now gun, you know, I'm always shocked when like queer people of color are like translate burning oil down like no, that's not good for you. Like, you know, like, they are already on you. I don't like them. I don't agree with him, but like, they have such a deeper level of organization already built up to like, get through that moment. And so I think accelerationism in these kinds of tendencies are actually really dangerous. And I think it's okay that that they caught heat for that in the film.
You know, that's a really good point like the the neoliberal project of the last 40 years has done such intense such thorough organizing and we are at a point of like, where the pendulum is just all the way to the right and it is going to take a long time for us to build anything that is even comparable on the left I like similarly someone asked me recently they were like oh, if you could just like make the United States like a socialist state like in one fell swoop would you do it and I was like, No, absolutely not. Because like that, like you said the right wing reactionary forces to that just imagine it is like the US is now socialists there would be a fucking armed just like insurgency across every part of the country from these people who have just been indoctrinated into these far right reactionary politics were like, This is all evil, I need to kill all of the socialists and let and they and like you said they do and this moment in time, they do outnumber us. So like, that's a big part of like, why I know we're doing this podcast and you know why I started making my own political content in the pandemic was just like, this is like we're right now we're in like the numbers game portion of like, of of like our of like the the US left's political development, like we're not like, yes, we should be organizing for right now. And for, like, the challenges that are cropping up now, but like, we should also be building towards the next 1020 30 years. And, you know, like, that's why I think agitprop is such an important part of, I like at least what we're doing and what I try to focus on, because I'm like, Yeah, start start that to political development early, because we're going to need those numbers down the line when when shit really, really hits the fan.
And additionally makes me think about what you started with Chris, this idea of doing it and doing it well, especially in terms of art. Because the difference between nuance and being able to hold multiple truths at once, which a transition requires which this sort of slow ease is the realm of the artist. How can you hold that? And how can we, as artists teach something about that, because I think it is an art, we're going to need massive creativity. And people are going to have to learn to use their imaginations and be inspired to be creative as we transition into new ways of being. But that there's a big difference between nuance and holding multiple things and cognitive dissonance, but I think they can often get confused to be similar things. So I think this is a film that deals with it extraordinarily well, and what we can aspire to as we think about the art that we make and the difference, but I always think about the difference between those two things. Because you mentioned neoliberal project I just wanted to talk about go back to cousin Nigel, and just that scene for a moment because I think that's a cool, so much stuff in their scene. And
that was a scene that I like had because I hadn't seen this movie and maybe like, I don't know, half a decade or more. That was the scene I had forgotten about. And then on this rewatch, I was like, Oh, this is maybe the most important scene or like one of the most important scenes in this movie Yeah, really popped for me this this, this go round Koran
says about that about David, David belongs in to a context, a context that is a cultural context that deals with ethnic, spiritual, religious aesthetic use, you cannot just strip that part and put it in your living room as the core, you're going to put Guernica as a backdrop for your fancy dining table served by Butler's at what point at that point? What does it mean anymore? So for context, for those listening, Nigel is collecting art. But in this and the question is really why, like, for what purpose if the world is going extinct?
Yeah, it's like, and it's his whole, it's his whole job. He's like, one of the he's like, the he runs the ministry of artistry. This is part of the Ark of the Arts Project, which is just like, you know, finding, collecting and protecting these old pieces, right. And
like every other character in the film, I just think he is not something of the future. It's like we have Nigel's everywhere. I mean, in some ways, it's asking us to look at museums as Nigel's like, doing these things away from their original context of the who they belong to, and then putting them for what purpose?
Well, I reread a little bit of the first chapter of capitalist realism because Mark Fisher used to he opens the book talking about this film and specifically the scene and the the idea of when you are preserving culture, as opposed to allowing culture to evolve as it like you know, dialectically interacts with the new then culture ceases to be culture, you know, like, like the sheer act of preservation And isn't actually preserving anything when you know that there's nothing new to come. I also
feel like it's one of one of many moments in the film, which serve to kind of unify this dialectic of like civilization and barbarism. So, you know, I love that scene, I it is so like white, not in terms of the family, but like, all of the walls and the floors and the lighting, it's very bright and white and clean. And you have to kind of also think of Clive Owens character is kind of like alcoholic he just got like, roughed up dropped out of a van picked up his bus fare from the floor, you know, decided he needed this thing. So he takes the car through the street, you know, it's all dingy and dirty. And, and it's like this, like, quote unquote, sanctuary that he arrives in. But but it's but it's barbaric. Just like, the opening of the film, where you see, you know, England will rise, you know, every bit everywhere, everybody has fallen, you know, only England will stand strong. And as you noted earlier, it's I think you can too, and it's like humans in cages with like, like dogs, like, you know, barking at them. And so, the point being, there is no civilization without barbarism. And, and, and all of that cleanness and all of that high minded art, like it requires the people in the cages. And so then we have to question like, well, not only what is it for, but like, do we even believe the things that we say about art and culture and virtue and nation? And, you know, or is it really just all lies? And I think in the case of you know, of England, like, just a goaded empire, you know, like, I think it's quite clear that the answer is, you know, it is all lies, right. It's all just ideology. And I think, you know, funny enough, I read, I didn't know this until recently that like, quite own, like, read Dziedzic in preparation for oh, wow, spelled. And so I think that's where you're getting a lot of this kind of ideology around us. I think it's why the backgrounds are so rich, it's why every shot is like, filled with information, because that's exactly what real life is. So dry, whether you're in LA or New York, you know, you look at all these advertisements, and there's just so much just pure ideology coming at you a mile a minute. And it's all contradicted by the actual fact of how our society reproduces this horrible, barbaric
people. That's, for me, that was like the biggest, like, if I had to, like, sum up one of the main not themes, but like, the big takeaway, just from watching this is just the idea of cognitive dissonance, which I think this movie nails in just such a gut punching way. And it's like, like we've been saying it is it is a cognitive dissonance that we are already practicing today, in 2023, in the real world, but just like taken to its most logical conclusion, which is like, you know, people are still going to Starbucks, there's still, there's still buying there. There's still there's everyone, the people who can afford it are still doing consumerism, there is the constant propaganda of Britain soldiering on. Yeah, the open air cages. And then the greatest moment of cognitive dissonance is, and it's kind of like, plays back into what we were talking about earlier about, you know, just like humans are at least not being ready for that transformational change that we're all hoping and fighting for, which is the slow walk out of the warzone with the baby, which is one of them, which is like probably the most beautiful moment of the film. For listeners, it's like, you know, they're in this giant, they're in like, this projects apartment complex. There's literal war happening. People shooting from outside inside, they walk through with the baby and all of the fighting stops here. She gives birth, which she gives birth.
Oh my god. Yeah.
And they walk through and it is a moment of pure humanity. Everyone stops everyone Marvels people just want to like barely, you know, kind of touch the bit like, and this is, you know, we're in this world. This is the first baby born in over 18 years. This is a literal miracle. And it does stop everybody in their tracks for a moment, but only for a month talk about organizing,
only for a moment. Inherent organization.
Yeah. And then but then they then they just go right back to fighting. Like even. It would be like the equivalent of I don't know what like, like, literally seeing Jesus report. Like, you know, Jesus walks down the streets. You know, he's like, handing out water turns it into, like, is performing miracles and you're like, Holy shit, that was actually Jesus. I gotta go back to work. I gotta, I gotta shift and a few hours like and that's it. Yeah. A beautiful but also depressing moment, because I was like, yep, that's I think that is what the reaction would be, you will, I
think, is one of those moments that underscore how deeply committed to not being precious this film is. Because that could have easily been a moment of just pure beauty. And it could have stopped the war, right? Like, I think, nine out of 10, filmmakers would have had a climax moment that hinges upon that. And, you know, it truly was just a matter of, you know, maybe it was a minute from the walk down to outside, but yeah, just a minute, and then boom, right back to killing. And I, I want to, I feel like, what's really beautiful about that child, is that, and this maybe goes back to also this idea of like organizing a bit is like, the child represents the future. And what's important is that, like, every group wants the child because every group has its own claim on the future. And this is, again, where the role of like, being clear with your ideology, and specific in your organizing is very important. But I think it also kind of underscores the point that the future itself is a site of struggle, I think this is like, really important. You know, for anybody who wants to change the world that like, the future is not decided, to the extent that it will, we will have to struggle for it against each other, and sometimes with each other, you know, in internally, but it is a site of struggle, and everybody wants it to go their way. So we can't be passive. You know, we can't just go along with the flow, we have to get in the struggle, and I think that's exactly what this film shows us. No, and thankfully, it turns out, okay, but it didn't have to. Everybody wanted that baby, if the state had the baby, you know, it'd be like baby Diego, 2.0, whatever, you know what I mean? Like, it just be some spectacle. You know, if the Fisher's got it, it'd be it would accelerate there, honestly, probably futile military campaign against the game,
which is amazing, because the uprising is happening. And he's like, Well, now we have to and you're like, the thing you want to do accelerate is happening. So it's absurd. Yeah. You know, what else has made me think of this moment? I'm curious. Your thought it was a brief moment. But the activists who were throwing what was not paint but like cans, cans on paint, but it didn't destroy the art. I just thought that was like, and people were really enraged. I don't remember which group there were but environmental activist and they were people were so enraged. And I just this moment made me I mean, I think what they're getting at is exactly sort of also what this scene with Nigel is getting at is the absurdity. People were like, Why do you have to tell your point? Destroying art people are so upset? And that was the point. And I don't know, I really, I just I really appreciated those young activists for that moment for this, I think, because that's the fucking point is like, how much? How relevant is a painting that we just think is so profound about sunflowers when the world is burning? Like, throw the paint at it?
You're so correct. I mean, if you'd set it at the top rockets at this is about choice. This is all about the choices you make. And it is it's starkly clear by the end that's like, all you have are your choices. And not making a choice is a choice. And it's not even like who you who you get to tell at the end, like, oh, I made these choices. It's just like, it's for yourself, like, Who do you want to be in, in these moments of struggle in these moments where conditions are degrading. And I think this is a really beautiful movie that really Yeah, just highlights how important these small individual choices are, and how they ultimately add up to something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
You know, art is always going to be political. I don't think it you know, especially film film is a super capitalist enterprise, you know, just the mere fact that a film gets made, puts it through, you know, the political economy, and exploits the world. So art is always going to be political. All we can do I think, is be intentional with, you know, what kind of political resonance we want to have. And I think is a really great example of how to do that. While making something that is commercially, I was gonna say successful, but apparently lost $5 million. Yeah. Critical, critically well received, though, ironically, beloved, look, I'm sure it made the last 5 million back on Blu ray sales. So it's probably you know, probably earned a few bucks in the end. But, you know, that is nonetheless successful. I surely was successful for all the careers of all the people who worked on it, even if the film itself didn't, but it's possible, right? I think that gets really important to like, because I think we're afraid that we have to do one or the other. You make political art or non public art. There's no such thing as non political art. You know, you turn on Real Housewives of Atlanta and it's it's it's it's steeped in ideology that either reifies critiques or in some way passes judgment on the kind of values that keep us in line when we and I'm using that show is an arbitrary example, I think any show does that you turn on a sitcom. And here's the like heteronormative nucular family, like whatever it is, there's always political content in art. And I think this is a great example of like, making a claim that isn't necessarily like didactic, although I'm not so mad at myself, but like, it's not, you know, I think we also have to be, like, aware and why this film was and is relevant is like, to the extent that we want to rouse people's consciousness, going again, back to the 20 Capybara idea that the artists role is to make the revolution irresistible, I think that should always be handled in terms of like, where are people at? Like, what, what do the masses What do common folk want to engage with? So Frank, I think that's why it's really important that you're on tick tock, because, you know, I personally detest how social media apps make us think, but if we're going to be there, let's be there. Like you, you know, and I think that it we can't be above Tik Tok, we can't be above popular entertainment. And we can always find creative ways to rouse political consciousness, if we're just really clever about it. Like, I don't.
And I mean, I mean, that's what that's why we wanted to do this podcast and make it like the intersection of you know, popular entertainment, film, entertainment, and politics. And, you know, force I was gonna say, force people to think about their art in a political way, no one's forcing you to listen to this, if you've listened to this, you're you've you've chosen to listen to it. But yeah, just to bring up how politics is, exists in all art.
So we like to do awards at the end of these for each film. And it is time to head handle those out. Our first award is a point with a view and this goes to the character with the best politics in the movie.
I mean, it's probably has to be Julianne Moore's character, right? Because she was she was, she was leading the fissures. She wanted to she, like sincerely wanted to get key to the Human Project. She was double crossed by Luke and the others, and she had not left like she had not lost her. Activist faith, unlike the Oh, so um, yeah, I'm going with I forget her. What's your character's name? Julian. Julian. Now, he's easy to remember.
Chris, what do you think
that's tough? I think I think you're right. I mean, it just makes me think that like not many people have, even or even contending in this category. I think you're I think I'm with you frame.
I'm good. As I'm with you, I, Julian, my gut was like key, I just think he holds a very important role, not just I think it could be easily dismissed as just, she's the heir giving birth, but like she is, crucially making me talk about who's making choices. And I do think it's important that she's often deferred to at pivotal moments to make a choice of I want to stay. No, I want to go with Theo and seems to be really connected, even though she's experiencing this not even knowing what giving birth is at first and having any model for that. But extraordinarily brave, but I think politically like she represents this spiritual politic that is very grounded in the female party. That's a really good
one. Or the next award is despicable. You goes to the character with the worst politics in the movie. Now, Joe, you got an idol? I
think so. There's so I know, there's many, but I just I want to give Nigel an award. I think he'd appreciate it.
I mean, I would go with this ID. Yeah. Because not just as easy a cabinet and, you know, ACA be but but also, you know, he kind of goes one step further where, you know, he breaks back in to sell them out, presumably not for even his duty as a government official, but for individual games, which is unsurprising but you know, he just wants to double down and that actor so good, so good. Thanks that it wants to know if they're coming in here. Yeah. All right for offending people with that impersonation.
That's fine. You can I don't think we can offend English people with their ex their silly accents. Alright, and the last award is a star is scorned. This goes to the supporting character in the movie that this movie should actually be about, or maybe not actually, but like could be about. So like, for me, I'm going with like Mariska, who is the the woman that they meet in the refugee camp who essentially helps them like get through the last the third act of this entire movie, she finds them a safe haven. She finds them a boat like I want to see a movie about Mariska doing Oregon noising under the conditions of like living under, you know, like a like a state controlled refugee camp 1000
person, I wanna Marika trilogy. Like all of it. She was like, love her, the dog the whole Yeah. When she takes the thing like, hit some, I mean, she's just there every moment ready to go?
If I'm answering this question seriously, I definitely want to see the Fisher's in action. I think Frank, we can kind of palate cleanse on them and see them at their best. However, if I'm being silly, which is my way I want like a telenovela, Telenovela of baby Diego. Just sweeping women off their feet, you know, getting everything he asked for.
That's a really good one. I Chris, last thing we do here before we part ways, we like to discuss how we as artists, and people are striving to practice our anti capitalist beliefs in our own lives with all of its complexities and contradictions. So is there one thing that you do in your life or a practice that you engage in, that you would like to share? Yeah, I mean,
I think the the kind of, you know, obvious answer is I run this organization called anti capitalism for artists, where our mission is to raise the class consciousness of artists. And we do that by putting out a lot of free offerings and events. And I would say, I think that that's important, because of what we were talking about earlier in the country, in the conversation about, you know, needing to tip the scales, and how many people have facility with these ideas. I think, as much as I want a lot of advance organizing in this country, I think we're kind of behind on the political consciousness level. And so I'm firmly committed to doing that methodical work for the next few years. At least, I mean, I don't know, I just I know, it'll take at least a number of years before I feel like I can perceive a qualitative change in the state of like, artist consciousness. And, you know, we tried to get more refined in terms of how we define success. And I think that's going to be continued Congress's, like, how do we know if it's working? You know, I think that's something we're always going to kind of be asking, but it feels to me like the most important use of my time and specific ability.
That's a very good one. And we can speak from experience that it's a great, great program. And I highly recommend anyone to check it what's what's the, what's the website if
anti capitalism for artists.com, but we're also on Instagram and Twitter, either at anti capitalism, artists all spelled out, or they're on Twitter. It's at at CAP number four artists.
Well, Chris, this was such a great conversation. I really, really appreciate you and all of the work you're doing and for, you know, sharing your time with us today to talk about this incredible movie. So thank you.
This was great. Thanks for having me. I was a lot of fun.
This was fun. Thank you all so much for listening. You can follow us on Instagram and Tiktok by searching for movies versus capitalism.
And again, if you would like to support this show, head over to lever news.com/mvc to pitch in
for next week's movie. We'll be watching the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan rom com classic you've got now so that'll give you a good chance to rewatch it with us.