During the last two months the crackdown on anti-militarism in Russia has been systematic and forceful. In this leaden atmosphere practically nothing creeps in and becomes visible beyond very narrow circles. And yet, little things, some songs for instance, work as nods showing that under the apparent calm of police control and suppression, more embers are smoldering than it may seem at first glance.
Arts and enterteinment
undant Futures” of the “TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art” collection, however, clearly shows that neither the Art of the bourgeoisie nor its most “sensitive” members can even imagine a decent future for the human species whose social work they organize. For them abundance means scarcity just as peace means war.
“The Batman” extends “Joker’s” gallery of grotesque horrors by taking its morally abhorrent simplism even further. It’s only recommended in case you’ve ever wondered how far the most over-the-top reactionary individualism could go.
In TV series, Silicon Valley “entrepreneurs” and their startups are no longer heroes but villains. The same media that created the ideology of “changing the world” and the myth of “good” technology monopolies, now rebukes and satirizes it. Underneath the ideological turn is, unsurprisingly, the reorientation of capital towards militarism and the Green Deal.
When imperialist tensions grow high enough, the cultural press suddenly “realizes” that the great performers and conductors are – oh surprise – more or less discreet propagandists for the governments that support them. The demand for boycott becomes immediate and the usual nonsense about “culture as a bridge between peoples”, “culture for peace”, etc. comes to an end.
The European bourgeoisie has been testing a new discourse on the working class for some years now. The simple denial of its existence, overwhelming since the 1990s, was already becoming insufficient before the pandemic. A new message was needed. The broadcasting of “Le temps des ouvriers”, a documentary originally commissioned by the Franco-German channel Arte, throughout last year in practically the whole EU, provides us with a clue as to the shape of the new discourse we will be bombarded with in the coming years.
“Boiling Point”, released last December 29th by Filmin and Apple TV, is undoubtedly and by far the best film of 2021. A rare gem which combines a rounded script with a perfect casting direction, a prodigious photography and a fast-paced rhythm, but above all, it is a testimony of an era, ours, and the daily reality of working in it.
In Argentina but also in Spain and half the world, the germs of fascism are widespread, but not where the media usually focus on. The xenophobic and homophobic gangs are dangerous, indeed, but just by themselves they are not going to control, subdue and mobilize the neighborhoods. It is quite a different matter when the state itself generates autonomous, “grassroots” structures to mediate access to basic necessities and “social justice” plans to “build the people.”
“The Bite” is the first series to deal, under the guise of a zombie comedy, with the gritty realities of the management of the Covid pandemic.
The entertainment content on TV is scarce and not very comforting this season. We discuss a close-up look at the USA of precarity (Tiny House Nation, Netflix); Alejandro Amenábar’s first series (La Fortuna, Movistar); and the most incompetent reading imaginable of Asimov’s “The Foundation” (Foundation, Apple TV).
The European Commission misses no chance to stress that the New European Bauhaus is “the soul” and “the dream” of the European Green Deal. It has just approved an additional 85 million euros to “create a new, inclusive and affordable lifestyle with less CO2”. But what is the New European Bauhaus? Where do they want us to live? Wooden skyscrapers? Prefabricated houses that can be assembled in 24 hours? Cardboard cabins?
We have all encountered dozens of magazines, stories, websites and commercial applications with an aesthetic similar to that of the illustration adorning this article. That style is known as “Alegria” or “Corporate Memphis.” It is a product of the precarization and devaluation of labor and has dozens of variants and versions, all equally lifeless and repetitive. But there is more to the homogenization of graphic representation than bad news dressed up in false corporate optimism.
HBO aired the day before yesterday the penultimate episode of “The White Lotus,” a light-hearted but unsettling series that, against the least promising backdrop, depicts the intimacy of class relations and ironizes the dominant ideologies of today’s US bourgeoisie.
“Modern Love” is The New York Times’ most widely read cultural column in both English and Spanish. It is also one of the paper’s most-listened-to podcasts and since 2019 a series on Prime with luxury casts that will premiere its second season this August. In the form of “life stories” and with exquisite editing of the texts, the 17 years of “Modern Love” are not just television material, but a true prospective of the evolution of American morality and bourgeois culture, its lacunae and its aftermath.
With minutes to go until the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, preparations are being finalized in an atmosphere of disorganization, half-baked planning, protests, contagions, dismissals, corruption and grotesque propaganda. But even if these games were to be a paragon of organizational perfection, the “Olympic curse” of which the Japanese press speaks would still be at work because the real curse is the “Olympic Movement” itself and its ideology: the famous “Olympic Spirit.”
83% of Japanese people reject holding the Tokyo Olympics. And yet the Suga government and the IOC are determined to stick with an event that is dangerous for public health and most likely financially ruinous.
Bosch’s season 7 was released by Amazon Prime this week. The final one. As current as the Covid, it provides meaning to the previous six installments and teases us on where the cultural shift in the U.S. is headed.
Netflix closes the season with its first Icelandic series, Katla, a matrioshka of references to earlier works that nonetheless manages not to be a pastiche…. even if unsuccessful in its critical examination of European opinion and culture.
There exist advertisements which condense an era with far greater economy than any novel or film. The ad for Ford’s F-150 Lightning, Ford’s iconic vehicle for the Biden’s Green Deal is, by the same token, a promotional ad for precarious living rather than a celebration of green comfort, a Nomadland to insert into big-league matches and Superbowls rather than a sales pitch. But Biden has gone a step further: the Green Deal’s pick-up is also the symbol of a looming new war economy.
Nomadland, directed by Chloe Zhao, won the this years’ Oscar for Best Picture. The novelty: it acknowledges the existence of workers and the precariousness they experience. The question: why did it win?
HBO kicked off the broadcast yesterday of Mare of Easttown, a crime series starring Kate Winslet which promises to be the best of the season but is splitting US critics into two camps.
Yesterday, 12 major soccer clubs released a statement announcing the Super League, a new European club competition backed by JP Morgan. The Super League would likely kill UEFA’s European competitions, depriving FIFA’s European structure of a good chunk of revenue. Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and even the European Commission immediately took a stand against it. Meanwhile, the clubs involved – and some candidates to participate, such as Borussia Dortmund – soared on the stock market. Underneath the battle for the Super League lie deep-rooted contradictions between states and financial capital.
The main entertainment platforms have anticipated it well and with their spring 2021 releases they offer us a good dose of escapism. Of course, well seasoned with the most rancid and reactionary elements of their ideological arsenal.
The premise was as appealing as it could be: retelling Bogdanov’s Red Star amid the 1917 revolution. The main character, Leonid, actually a surrogate for Bogdanov himself, would have had a daughter in the communist Mars. The young woman comes back to look for him in the midst of the world revolution. But no. We discover that the plot begins in 1927, in the midst of the Stalinist counterrevolution, shortly before the killing and purging of the generation that had carried out the revolution. And that the authors replace historical context with a jumble, a tangle even, of prejudices and distortions… A tngle that is anything but innocent.
Apple TV begins broadcasting the second season of Servant. In the first one, Tony Basgallop and Night Shyamalan tried to take that storytelling format we call a series in a new direction. The result brought them to the limits of tolerable representation within the current ideology. Servant was not only the best production of 2019, but it also showed the best possible way of telling stories… to date.
The bad guys in Tenet, unsurprisingly, are our class. And no surprise either, our existence is denied throughout the entire timeline, we only keep a probabilistic existence in that possible future they fear so much, possible if we keep struggling today.
Our review of the most relevant TV series of November.
Roadkill is the political series of the season on the BBC. The narrative is built on the wake of the «House of Cards» of the nineties, but without the Shakespearean histrionics and the overdose of cynicism of the original model. In fact, Roadkill is one of the few political series that encourages real political reflection.
It has taken 30 years for us to see the strategy of the German bourgeoisie for what it was, a “true crime”.
The TV series during these months of pandemics were not able of process the situation of global crisis. In the books, however, some glimmer can be found.
Both the “new normal” summer in Europe and the winter of confinement in South America may be a good time to take back the places we live in a very different way.
His absolute emptiness, his use of monstrous scales as a way of attracting capital, his pecuniary greed – only comparable in impudence to Dalí – his total, absolute and voluntary renunciation of signifying the slightest contribution to those who contemplate his works, is in itself a faithful, hyper-realistic even, portrait of the spirit of the ruling classes of his time. Classes of which he was a part from his birth. That is why Christo is a paradox. It’s not art, no. But its essence is so sterile and dead that it represents like few others the anti-human, anti-historical character of the system in our times. Bunting or tarp cover included.
Four series two from Delhi and two from Mumbai, which reflect some of the contradictions of Indian capitalism and enrich our perspective.
What did a social democrat of Lenin’s generation mean by a proletarian who became a “professional revolutionary”. For answering we have to revisit the original “What Is to Be Done”… by Chernishevsky