The Last Techno-Utopianist

A night in tonight, big day tomorrow, so I checked out whats on the boob-tube this evening. Return of the Jedi (awesome) and The Last Starfighter. Everyone may not be familiar with the second film. It is a pretty bad b-grade flick made to capitalise on the then-recent rise in popularity of video games and the smash hit success of the Star Wars movies. (Although it bugs the shit out of me that it is no longer called Return of the Jedi, but Episode VI. Get your hand off it, George Lucas…)

Anyway, The Last Starfighter is interesting for two main reasons.

1) It was the first film to do all special effects (bar the make-up) with a computer. All the spaceships, space fights, everything. It was done on a Cray supercomputer. That in itself is pretty awesome.

2) Plot: “A videogaming boy, seemingly doomed to stay at his trailer park home all his life, finds himself recruited as a gunner for an alien defense force.” It seems as if most reviewers at the time focused on the film quality, rather than the particular cultural context for which the film is an expression. Virilio would’ve gone nuts over such a plotline. The frontier of the sky and of electromagnetic domain are conquered through a literal upwards mobility by a trailer trash loser (whose girlfriend doesn’t even realise he has been replaced by a robot after he goes off to save the galaxy… very telling).

Playing a video game gets you out of your shitty life? Only in the movies. Along with Tron and War Games, this film captures something about the buzz around video games and computers in the early to mid-1980s.

R.I.P. John DeLorean, 1925-2005

1980s carmaker DeLorean dies at 80. (via)

The Delorean was a piece of fanciful shit and the car of my when-I-was-8-years-old dreams (or maybe I was older? hmmm). I built one out of Lego. I could never get it to go 88 miles per hour. I was also bitterly disappointed that my primary school library had nothing on building your own flux capacitor. Plus the bastard librarian reckoned I had a book out called “Eating string” or some shit. Could the real thing get up to 88 miles per hour? Maybe.

Are they filming ‘Getaway in 1985′?

 

The car would’ve died a slow and even more expensive death had it not been for its starring role in Back to the Future (check out some of the awesome trivia). Anyone who says that car was not totally cool is either a bellicose ‘tard or not from our generation. That was some cool shit. Then the second one had the hover-board. OMG! If you go ANYWHERE in a DeLorean and your car doesn’t turn heads then go somewhere else because the people there obviously have no conception of how to appreciate one of the greatest artefacts of late-modern, US-global, popular culture.

Here is an awesome page on how many trips the DMC took in the BTTF film series.

 

I remember getting the first out from the video store (one of the very first videos we had got out, it was a family thing to do back then), because the car looked cool. Then when it said “To Be Continued” at the end of the film I almost couldn’t sleep. I had to see the next movie. When we went back to return the video the next day, I cried. I hated that video man. Why didn’t he have the next movie? This is scarred into my subconscious, I am sure of it. I think that was the first time I became aware of the dynamics of popular culture, as something that was happening ‘over there’. I also didn’t give a rats about what was happening over there, I just want to see the nest one. Then when it didn’t come out, I remember flicking through magazines at the newsagent’s trying to figure out when it would. Two years or 2 1/2 or whatever it was seemed like such a long time, we are talking about at least 1/4 to 1/5 of my time on this planet. I didn’t know it was called ‘popular culture’, but that is what I was waiting on. The affective temporalities of anticipation.

 

Bye bye to Mr DeLorean. Thanks for your part in my childhood memories.

I need to see those movies again…

sub me in – play

So I am listening to The Postal Service. I thought I had gone to see them in Perth. But Myke tells me that was Idlewild. I am not sure where I got the CD from. Probably a copy from Sam or something. The album is called ‘Give Up’. And it is brilliant.

I know this may sound weird coming from someone who exclaimed to fact of Motley Crue’s immanent late-2005/early-2006 world tour visit to Sydney, but these Postal Service dudes are cool.

It may be too overtly ‘cool’ in a stressed-denim-witty-t-shirt-converse-runners-just-woke-up-haircut-retro-80’s sort of way for some people — for people like me. Almost. By deploying the loaded ‘cool’ I am gesturing towards associated discourses in a knowing, but enthusiastic non-ironic way. Sure it is an utter disgrace that is gets soiled-by-association through being part soundtrack on the OC, but I don’t give a fuck — makes me want to hit somebody for associating it with such a smug piece of shit TV! — but, really, I don’t care. Whatever. It is ok, because it is cool.

(Subpop? What the fuck is subpop? I want a job inventing popular culture neologisms. That would be subcool. And then get a pay raise to invent neological combinations. That would just be insidiously ithurts subcool, like, totally, man.) Via amazon.com:

“With Jimmy in L.A. and Ben in Seattle, the two simply mailed tracks back and forth, collaborating via (you guessed it) the United States Post Office.”

How awesome is that shit? I thought for a second they were total freaks and, like, were into Kevin Costner movies, but then, taking an Actor Network Theory angle, you know, I realise that it is infact the network enabled by the mail service which allowed them to colloborate and produce the CD. The band is an actor network. Boom boom. Yes, but I am in love, love like in terms of repeat-repeat-repeat! Love. Subcool.

Anyway. On Keith Windschuttle (re: Negri visit). Windschuttle may be a historian, but is he a philosopher? What does he know about Negri’s value to philosophy? Sweet fuck all, I gather. Going by his logic, we should never help anyone who has been implicated in ‘terrorist groups’, such as supporting the old regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, let alone let them come to Australia. Oh no! Subshocktastic! That unfortunately scratches Donald Rumsfield off the list. Oh well. Subpolitical. What a terrible fuckin shame that is…

I hope I never meet Windschuttle. He seems a bit stupid, even sublogical. It is funny that he mentions Dirk Moses in his column as he was the unit coordinator for the history unit that Sam tutored in.

On another note! It looks as though my material science PhD friend, Matt, may be going to the academic bright lights of Cambridge for a post-doc. Very exciting!

Also, Helene has gone home today. We had good fun while she was here! Still trying to find the energy to write up a report on the karaoke. I will miss her. Subhappy.

Do you like American music?

I like American music.

Yeah, so went to the Enmore Theatre last night. Got a bit drunk on a fine cleanskin Roche Shiraz and then had to stomach horrendous VB at the theatre. Even the service industry, uni student girl behind the bar laughed and agreed with me when I was like, “Fuckin VB? What the fuck?” I was at the Enmore to see the Violent Femmes (great photo on the home page, that is exactly what they look like). Did they rock my world? Ahuh, like they were all de-Kissed Gene Simmons singing like nerd-gods playing an extraordinary array of stringed bass instruments to produc a block of sensation like a massive tongue cleaning out my ear and tickling some erogeneous part of my brain. You know what I’m saying? Fuck yeah, that’s what.

The only other concert I have been to where I had known more songs was Offspring, and maybe Kiss, and possibly Van Halen, but none of those concerts had been events where I was encouraged, simply be my own enthusiasm, to push up my glasses, place my nerd hand on my nerd heart and sing along with the nerdest voice ever and on the whole planet (except for maybe the dude from They Might Be Giants, who I have also seen and had a nerd-off competition with one of my mates. The other nerds at the concert were pogo-ing with nerd-rage filled gusto and thought we were two of the most rocking nerds this side of the space station Babylon 5). What is it with nerd rock? Nerd rock with measures of teen-angst, middle-aged-angst, jazz, blues, blues-folk, rock-folk, folky-folk-folk, what the fuck is folk anyway? Nerd rock is for a generation, I know this because I am between the nerd rock of They Might Be Violent Femmes (or maybe just from USyd Gender Studies) and Blink one hundred and eighty two other bubblegum punk bands. Blink is so teenage angst nerd rock, but with consumptive 1970s Brit-punk overtones instead of jazz/folksy/rock/i’m-a-believer. Except to be cool you’d have to write it ‘nerrock’ and spell it with a z. A to the z. E to the 3.

Anyway, so, yeah. I had fun. Totally. Except for the VB. Fuck I hate VB. Don’t ever anyone ever buy me VB unless it is the last resort. Ever. Or you wanna piss me off and/or pay me back for some other indescression, well, so, ok, that would be cool, but I know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em and when to walk away. I was rocking away last night. Like a drug addict withering away, I was rocked away, slowly, like a seduction, so I was totally into it. Yeah. So they played all the crowd pleasers, n3rrock angst t3as3rz, melody-rhythm squeezers, but nothing of Weezer’s, which didn’t disappoint any geezers. At least I don’t think it did.

Ok, so they look like rocking computer nerds, which is funny when rocking computer nerds look like punks or something. And this is exactly what they look like. The big dude in the middle was pretty funny hamming it up with rockstar-esque poses and shit even though he looks like a crack smoking rancher in this photo. And the little dude on the right is the singer, which explains the nerdiest nerd-nerd nature of his voice.

Yeah, so I heard The Violent Femmes when I was 14 and on some camp run by Rotary on personal leadership and leadership or some such ship. We had leaders and they were all sexy, nerded-up, wannabe-librarian mofo’s. One such snuwlm got us singing blister in the sun, ironically after I had been burnt by the sun the day before or something, so I smashed the piggy bank once back in black in the Balcatta ‘burbs to bust out Blister in the Sun on CD. SO I cranked the greatest hits or some shit like that. I remember the CD got thrashed, like totally milked, on O-Camp, at my first university experience.

Anyway, so I woke up at like 4am. What drugs am I on? Or not on? This is fucked. I have been reading some more of the After Subcultures book. Even though the articles have a terminal fascination for music and/or style subcultures it is getting better or maybe I am getting more patient with it. Fuckin VB.

Consumption and Politics

Ad or political comment? Can you spot the difference?
Caption reads: “10,000 Volts volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent.”
How many dudes would be driving past in a car or riding the bus and glimpse at the billboard and sew the seeds for an iPod?
I have little tolerance for people who argue that ‘consumption’ is in any way resistant. Unless an alternate economy is set up that is totally separate from the current global order, then there can only ever be less complicit consumption.
Steve from the “Discussion of J-F-Lyotard, Alain Badiou,the Event” list (and blog) posted this interview wih Zygmut Bauman. Bauman is provocative, addressing such topics as the dismantling of the welfare state and the shift from a production-based politics to one premised on consumption. He says: 

In the world of consumers, the poor who are currently un-performing consumer duties are, purely and simply, ‘flawed consumers’ and flawed beyond redemption (and vice versa: those who cannot behave as the right and proper consumer should consider themselves, and are viewed by others, as poor). Affairs may hum up in the future, but by no stretch of imagination will the poor be called then to active consumer service. Investing in their survival means money wasted; it may be called for by charitable impulses or for the sake of peace and quiet – but ‘economic sense’ it most certainly makes not. Such investing will only prolong, with little prospect of ever stopping, the frownedupon procedure of withdrawing money from the commodity market – the only site where spending money does make economic sense … And so, in stark opposition to the society of producers, cutting down on collectively-funded lifelines for the (permanently) indolent is a question ‘beyond left and right’. The presence of the poor is therefore widely felt as an unredeemed and unredeemable liability. A sore in the eyes of consumers, they are chased out of the streets. A sore in the eyes of the politicians, they are chased out of the alltoo-visible statistics of social welfare expenditures into the much-less-visible statistics of business subsidies. All in all, it is not poverty that the wars are waged against, but the ‘problem of the poor’.

Very interesting stuff, the ‘poor’ become a haystack of strawmen (and women) discursively produced as a ‘problem’ for the consumer-based civility, rather than the neoliberal order being a problem for the disadvantaged who are locked in cycles of social reproduction…. It is very interesting especially when you get people who used to be socialists — like Hitchens — turning into apologists for the neo-liberal and sprouting things like: 

Marx’s original insight about capitalism was that it was the most revolutionary and creative force ever to appear in human history.