A little insubstantial, and rather left wing, but a lot of interesting links to various government programs appropriating the word freedom.
- 12/10 M Summation/discussion of the major issues of the class
- 12/12 W Final reflective essay (begun in class; due on Mon 17 Dec. 9 AM PDT)
Remember that final drafts of 2d paper are due on 12/11 11:59:59 PM. We will not meet on the final exam date; those final reflective essays are due at the scheduled time for the final exam via email attachment.
- Group 1: Hammad, Sam, Susan, Katie
- Group2: Jamie, Dan, John H., Lindsay
- Group 3: Jaron, Max, Dayne, Aron
- Group 4: Manayo, Devin, John K., Andy
- Group 5: Alison, Rebecca, Savina, Jake
So I’m writing my paper on the dystopian future presented in the Mike Judge (Office Space, Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill) film Idiocracy. A lot of people probably haven’t heard of this film, since it was buried by Fox, its distributor, because Judge and Fox executives disagreed about a lot of the content in the movie and disagreed about how to market and package it. In the plot, a perfectly average soldier and a street prostitute are chosen by the army to be frozen in a time capsule to test new human hibernation technology. The project is scrapped, and the two find themselves 500 years in the future. The plot of the movie is rather inconsequential, but the dystopian future that the two find themselves in is very interesting, as is the movie’s explanations of how the future got to be so dysfunctional. The premise of the movie is that the mean intelligence of humanity slopes rapidly downward because smart people don’t breed nearly as much or as early as unintelligent people do. Because everything is so automated, dumb people thrive in the world. In the future, everything is sexualized, corporations run the government, the English language has deteriorated into a mix of “hillbilly, inner-city slang, and grunts”, the average intelligence of people is extremely low, and people no longer have the ability to perform basic functions such as waste management and food production. People who talk “smartly” are derided as “faggy,” the number one show on television is “Ow! My balls!,” and all that people eat and drink are Brawndo (a Gatorade-like drink) and Carl’s Jr. The House of Representatives is the “House of Representin” and the President of the United States is a professional wrestler/porn star. You get the picture.
The aspect of the movie I’m discussing in my paper is that unlike in other imagined dystopias we have read about, this dystopia is built by the intelligent classes for the superficial comfort of the dumber and dumber masses. In works like Brave New World, V for Vendetta, and Children of Men, the people in power manipulate the masses in order to gain power. In Idiocracy, the world is hand-crafted to require no intelligence, and instead provides comfort and pleasure to the masses. I wonder what you guys make of this vision of dystopia, where there isn’t so much a threat of terror or a quest for perfection, but rather a shockingly “plausible” deterioration of society due to neglect, superficiality, and a glorification of violence, sex, and most importantly, INSTANT gratification. I can think of some factors that would prevent this extreme manifestation of dystopia from happening, mainly that those in power would prevent it. Anyways, what does everyone else think about the premise of this movie’s dystopia?
So this isn’t too academic a post, but I couldn’t resist with V for Vendetta still under discussion.
This link leads to an article about an auction for a book bound in the skin in one the Guy Fawkes conspirators. Seems like it would inflict quite the psychical wound to anyone who commiserated with that fine binding.
I figured that rather than respond to Sean I’d open up a longer post on this reading.
I thought it was cool that â€œHappiness After September 11â€ included a lot of familiar concepts that you wouldnâ€™t typically expect to see in a formal essay. Â I read it over Thanksgiving Break and stopped several times to say, â€œyeah, desire IS a pagan conceptâ€ (a friend of mine who is wiccan recently showed me her harvest ritual), or â€œMom, remember when Hannah had
Huntingtonâ€™s on Everwood?â€ (that was one of our favorite shows), or â€œEliot, remember The Land Before Timeâ€? (those movies were quality), or to smirk at a reference to Shrek and also 3:10 to
Yuma, which I recently saw in theaters.Â My family wondered how all of these references might combine into an essay on happiness after September 11th, and to be honest, I still donâ€™t quite see how many of them tie in, but I did appreciate four points that were made in the article.
First, though it is a little dubious to claim you know whether citizens of
Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 80s were happy, the three fundamental conditions make a lot of sense.Â It is true that not only a lack of material needs but an excess of them can cause unhappiness. Â Brief shortages of material things do make you appreciate them more.Â I think the idea of having an â€œotherâ€ to blame and having another place to dream of and visit that is the perfect distance away is really cool.
Second, IÂ suppose thatÂ someÂ follow the Lacanian claim that people dream of what they donâ€™t want, counting on fact that those things wonâ€™t happen. It is definitely true, to a certain extent, that knowledge makes us unhappy. Â Many people truly do prefer ignorance. But I am not one of those people.Â If I believe in anything it is knowing the truth, even if it will make me cry.Â It is impossible for me to say what I would do if I ran the risk of
Huntingtons, but my guess is that I would want to know.Â I wouldnâ€™t be able to really live or commit if I had that question mark looming over me.
Third, the assertion that todayâ€™s postmodern liberal democrat would respond to the phone joke saying that the source of evil today is precisely those people who feel a direct line to God and denounce others as Hellish is definitely applicable when you consider terror and also our own country in its criticism of those with socially conservative religious ideals. Â I am not religious myself, and I agree that the danger there is the absolutism of it. I donâ€™t have a problem with religious peopleâ€”only if they have a problem with me not being religious.
For those who do agree with the aforementioned democratâ€™s response to the joke in terms of how it relates to terror (i.e. think the 9/11 hijackers were dangerous because they believed so strongly in their religion and hated our mentality), consider a point made earlier in the piece: donâ€™t assume you know someone elseâ€™s motivations or beliefs. Those men may have been suicidal to prove to themselves and others that they did truly, in fact, believe.
When I started reading Indecision I expected it to be another novel with dystopian themes and ideas about terrorism. However, I found this book to be less about terror and more about our ignorance to its existence. It seems like the main character Dwight is immune to the terrorism around him. 9/11 is an event that occurred, but it doesnâ€™t seem to scare him or bother him. It seemed surprising that he could watch the 9/11 events as they occurred, and yet be so un-phased by what was going on. He goes on with his lifeâ€”frivolously taking drugs and living without a sense of care to the outside world. In Ecuador, too, Dwight is oblivious to the hardships and poverty that define the lives of the Ecuadorian people. It isnâ€™t until the end of the book that he finally seems to gain some realization about the terror in which poor people in Latin America must live. I felt like this book was somewhat of a critique on the selfish American culture. Terrorism doesnâ€™t even bother the average American to the degree that it should. People go on living their lives without really thinking about the implications of terrorism in the modern day. Dwight continually mentions 9/11, but it seems like just an event that occurred and nothing more. Since it didnâ€™t specifically affect him, he seems immune to the terror of the event. What happens if people ignore terrorism? I feel like in part what makes terrorism so scary is its psychological effects on people. So, if people can just blindly put the knowledge that we are living in an era of terrorism, then does it can it continue to be as terrifying? Is It bad that people go on living their lives, instead of living in fear of terrorism or trying to find a way to combat it?
We have all been brought up in unique ways that shape our interests, and it is those subtle environmental distinctions that form how we interpret literature. “Deconstruction aims to remind us of the arbitrary and unstable nature of language by taking text apart.” This type of theoretical stance helps in weeding out the works that fail the test of entertaining the reader. The problem that was apparent in the article I read titled ‘Books Vs. Movies’ was the fact that people that are fans of the book tend to be harsh critics when it comes to the movie’s interpretation of the novel, comic book, video game, biographical works etc. For example, when a scene is left out or a character doesn’t die like they do in the book, the fan is outraged. They sit down at their chairs all night writing hateful comments about how unfaithful the movie was to one of their all-time favorite epic novels. Even though screenwriters and directors do change events in the plot of these epic stories, it is not to confuse or enrage the audience in any way.
This brings up an interesting problem that movies have to deal with when trying to create a visual spectacle out of an already widely read piece of fiction or nonfiction: creating a storyline within the movie that a person who has not read the book can follow with the ultimate goal of trying to reach out not only to the audience that has already read the book, but also to an audience that is clueless to the plot in its entirety. In fiction novels the story can take up vast amounts of one’s personal time. The person who reads them falls victim to becoming another statistic in the never-ending additions and subtractions from the literary canon. It makes sense that the people that have gone as far as to interpret the book should be the more scrupulous critics.
There has been some discussion about Baudrillard’s “Spirit . . .” as perhaps excusing terror; the idea has been floated that Baudrillard would have that America “asked for” 9/11. As I mentioned in class, I don’t think that reading is “wrong,” but that’s not how I’ve read him. He does say that it is was an understandable response to globalization (read: “American hegemony”) and its asymmetrical economic and military realities. When he says American “imagined” 9/11 in its constant recycling of images of its own destruction in countless blockbuster films, we might see that in light of psychoanalytic theory that can equate films with dreams as a kind of wish-fulfillment. What psychic purposes are such films serving? (take your pick of any from Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956) to the recent remake of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds). Baudrillard and others have seen this as a repressed wish for the destruction of hegemonic power, even if its our own.