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Author Topic: Maoist Movie Reviews
Mycroft_
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posted 23 February 2003 10:06 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here's the Maoist International Movement's view on Lord of the Rings (BTW, MIM's favourite film is the Matrix):
quote:

The problem with fantasy genres

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Directed by Peter Jackson
2 hours 58 minutes
released December 18 2002

The second film in the Tolkien trilogy has received very positive reviews and it is on its way to surpass the previous chapter in sales. For MIM, "Lord of the Rings" is just a contribution to the stability of capitalism.

The first part of the adventure trilogy titled "Lord of the Rings" based on J.R. Tolkien's books of the same name brought in $860 million globally with $547 million of that coming from outside the U$A.(1) It cost $93 million to make and another estimated $50 million in ads.(2) "The Two Towers" surpassed its production costs before Christmas and is on course to surpass both Harry Potter films also in the above $300 million revenue category.(3)

"Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is full of action, adventure, magic and fighting. The film integrates computer-generated animation and live action in a way that wasn't possible until very recently. We do not question its artistic or technical merits. Rather, we argue that artistic skill cannot redeem a work with a fundamentally ugly political premise.

This is not to say that "Lord of the Rings" is the ugliest in fantasy-fiction. There are several themes in Tolkien's books which MIM likes. Various species including elves, hobbits and humyns have to come together to fight for their existence in an epic battle between good and evil. Even trees become involved in the fight by attacking the evil forces that chop down trees to make weapons. In arguments solidifying their alliance, the forces of good have to defeat both idealism similar to post-modernism which denies that evil is real and defeatism which sees the triumph of evil as inevitable.

Tolkien praises self-sacrifice, discipline and commitment to the common good.

Still, the principal aspect of the "Lord of the Rings" books is reactionary in the sense that Tolkien pines for a return to a feudal "Golden Age" where peasants and servants knew their place. There is also a distrust of science and technology in "Lord of the Rings" and its predecessor "The Silmarillion."

It's one thing to decry the destruction of the environment and its consequences for humyn health wrought by the capitalist-led industrial revolution in 19th century England--but the Christian Tolkien goes beyond this and suggests that science is a form of hubris, upsetting the "natural" order where humyns are subordinate to god. ("The Silmarillion" is an extended version of the Biblical story of the tower of Babel.)

And despite the fact that a womyn slays the chief evil Ringwraith in "The Return of the King," Tolkien clearly thinks that wimmin belong in the kitchen, not on the battlefield or in government. The only other substantial female character in "Lord of the Ringes," the Elf-Queen Galadriel, is praised more for her beauty than her wisdom.

Many critics believe that the "Lord of the Rings" is an allegory for World War II or the Cold War, with the ring of power representing the atom bomb, etc. Tolkien denied this vehemently and instead argued that the parallels sprang from the fact that good fantasy literature is based in and comments on reality. Indeed, although we disagree with Tolkien's reactionary point of view, there is enough real-world experience condensed in some of the books' themes to provoke some interesting and useful thoughts.

Director Peter Jackson plays down the books' relevant themes in his films, however, and plays up the sword-and-sorcery adventure. Aside from valuable subthemes of environmentalism and inter-species cooperation against evil, which are offset by the questionable gore in both chapters of the trilogy so far, there is not much of redeeming value to the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

On the negative side, a large portion of the real-world humyn population believes in magic and spells, to such an extent that it escapes real-world solutions for real-world problems. For this reason alone, any fantasy- adventure fiction faces a high hurdle to surmount in the minds of us Maoists trying to promote scientific thinking about social life.

The spreading of social superstition and excuses for why the people do not control their own lives leaves the ruling class in control, the same way religion in general does.

Tolkien's books reinforce this kind of superstition,(4) and Peter Jackson takes the magic in the story even more at face value than Tolkien. For example, Peter Jackson makes it seem that King Theoden of Rohan has been possessed by the evil wizard Saruman. In the books, Theoden's "enchantment" has a more material basis: Saruman is engaged in psychological warfare against Rohan, sending spies into Theoden's court, making open peace overtures while covertly preparing for war, playing on Theoden's provincialism and conciliatory nature, etc.

Any fantasy-adventure films and novels, especially those set in the past, are liable to become props of the status quo without serious efforts to compensate for the whole genre's flaws by raising progressive themes in oblique and fictional manners appropriate for fantasy worlds.(5) In contrast, by usually showing humyns what they are capable of in the future, science-fiction tends to have progressive value in the pure sense of the word "progress." In a fantasy-future movie like the "Matrix," it is not one or two supreme magicians casting spells that control the world. In the "Matrix," the people simply download knowledge through a cartridge in the neck. Thus, the "Matrix" puts forward an enlightened view of knowledge, history and humyn capability. In contrast, "Lord of the Rings" raises up a musty past in a manner that will perpetuate backwardness today.

Notes:
1. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/data/lordoftherings/versus.htm
2. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=fellowshipofthering.htm
3. http://www.the-numbers.com/features/2002-Holiday.html

4. The central conceit of the "Lord of the Rings" is that even though the forces of good possess the "ring of power" forged by evil, they cannot use it against evil lest they themselves become evil. This is just the old idealist pabulum that "power corrupts." Elves, men, etc. take up arms against evil, but Tolkien portrays this as a doomed rear-guard action--only the "pure-hearted" sacrifice of the hobbits can magically redeem the world. In contrast, MIM upholds Mao's dictum, "To eradicate war it is necessary to make war" and believes a study of history shows that it is possible and necessary to use "the master's tools" to overthrow the master. Hence we are sympathetic to characters such as Boromir or Saruman who argue that the ring should be used against evil.

5. Some Tolkien fans have openly embraced "Lord of the Rings" as "escapism:" "if the real world is evil and ugly, at least we can forget for a while in a fantasy world." Tolkien himself contrasted this "escapism of the deserter" to the "escapism of the prisoner," who sees the evil in the real world and is looking for way to break out into another possible world.

In principle, fantasy literature could build radical understanding of the world and the possibilities for change. In practice, Tolkien is far too backwards-looking to provide any real-world solutions.


For other Maoist movie reviews seehttp://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/movies/index.html

[ 23 February 2003: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
verbatim
rabble-rouser
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posted 23 February 2003 10:24 PM      Profile for verbatim   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wow. Interesting. MIM doesn't believe that power corrupts. They probably don't believe that they're blind idealogues, either.
From: The People's Republic of Cook Street | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
TommyPaineatWork
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posted 23 February 2003 11:19 PM      Profile for TommyPaineatWork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I dunno. I've always approached LOTR as a fantasy story. Yes, like any other author, Tolkein had his experiences.

Anti woman? He was born in the 1800's for cripes sakes.

I think it more relevant to take Nietzche to task for his anti-feminist aphorisms, as Neitzche accolytes still attempt to influence the real world.

quote:
In principle, fantasy literature could build radical understanding of the world and the possibilities for change. In practice, Tolkien is far too backwards-looking to provide any real-world solutions.

In practice?

It's a fantasy story, not a social blueprint.


From: London | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
BLAKE 3:16
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2978

posted 24 February 2003 05:51 PM      Profile for BLAKE 3:16     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In 1999 on the way to a pro-choice demonstration on Toronto's outskirts, I was chatting with a rather pleasant fellow, and I said I thought ideology of The Matrix was a rather elitist Maoism. He replied "What's Maoism?"

What about the influence of Louis Althusser on a lot of the left sometimes feminist film criticism of the 70s and 80s?

And which is more boring Lord of the Rings or reading Althusser's students? At least Mao's own writings have some, no a lot of panache.

At the Mayday 2000 demonstration in Chicago, young members of the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party were all wearing peasant curcheffs(I don't know how to spell it - you know like a scarf or bandana) and carrying Little Red Books, for what I don't know. They'd have made fine extras for LOTR.


From: Babylon, Ontario | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2230

posted 24 February 2003 06:35 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
In 1999 on the way to a pro-choice demonstration on Toronto's outskirts, I was chatting with a rather pleasant fellow, and I said I thought ideology of The Matrix was a rather elitist Maoism.

You are right. MIM likes!

quote:
The Matrix
1999

A Hollywood film of tremendous value -- a great gift to the revolutionary movement on par with that of Reds politically and done artistically as well as can be with special effects. Humyn-beings both dead and alive are tended by machines in gigantic mechanical farms where they are used as batteries for the various kinds of heat and electricity that they produce. Not only does the script-writer uphold materialism as the existence of an external world independent of the subject (humyn mind), but also the script-writer shows us how science will conquer and make everything knowable including dreams. There are a few
drawbacks to this film, but on the whole, MIM could not have asked for more in a two and a half hour Hollywood movie. We can use the movie to educate people about dialectics, modes of production, Lenin's book "Materialism
and Empirio-Criticism" and the drawbacks of anarchism and individualism.


Full review here

[ 24 February 2003: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
kingblake
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posted 24 February 2003 06:50 PM      Profile for kingblake     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The World Socialist Web Site dismisses the Matrix with very little passing reference.
http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/may1999/film-m21.shtml

I'd love to see these two debate the pros and cons this issue.


From: In Regina, the land of Exotica | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2230

posted 24 February 2003 06:57 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hm, while I think MIM is one of the more bizarre groups around their review is somewhat more political than the WSWS review. Even before reading MIM's review I thought the Matrix said a lot about "false consciousness" under capitalism.

Wonder why they haven't reviewed Fight Club?

Write your own MIM movie review:

quote:
Guidelines for MIM reviews

1. When MIM disapproves of a movie or song today, even in today's politically backward conditions, it means that that work is especially backward and will only look more so if the political situation advances enough to put MIM in power. Hence, when we disapprove of something we mean to ban it upon seizure of state power. Reviewers should keep that in mind and avoid a strictly academic or review- for-its-own-sake approach. It means keeping in mind what the masses will turn to instead if we ban a particular cultural work.

2. Reviewers should criticize all reactionary aspects of a cultural work, but they should indicate whether or not the work is progressive overall, again so the party can promote the progressive and reject the backwards.

3. If the reviewer can suggest alterations that would redeem the cultural work in question, that is best. There is as of now a terrible shortage of revolutionary culture.

4. The party has yet to approve a specific percentage of films and music that it believes should be banned. This will be a task of a future party congress. Judging from reviews done so far, I would guesstimate it appears that MIM would ban 95% of existing performing arts culture. To prepare for such a party congress decision, all people can undertake the same exercise. The next time in the video store, make a judgement what portion of movies can be banned with no one missing them or with society being improved. We invite public input. Send a message to [email protected] on your opinion of what percentage of movies or songs should be banned in their current form.

5. Don't forget to include concrete details like year produced, title, length in time, movie G-PG-R-X rating etc. in your individual reviews.

*A number of Western writers recently misunderstood the situation of one opera production unit in China as representing all of China's arts. There was a heated debate in China over the number of works Jiang Qing of the "Gang of Four" turned out, with the revisionists saying it was too few. This debate drew historical attention from the outside world, but it was misunderstood, and in some cases, consciously distorted. The Western onlookers correctly understood that the critics of Jiang Qing were closer to their Liberal views and sided with the revisionists such as Deng Xiaoping. Unfortunately, many onlookers on this debate within China mistook what was being said to mean that there were only a handful of operas or plays in all of China and MIM receives letters to this effect thanks to anti- communist propaganda. Nonetheless, the stereotype of a country with only a handful of approved works is useful as one extreme possibility and point of reference in discussion. Among other things, the critics do not understand that the masses continued to produce their own works of art during the Cultural Revolution, and having only so many works authorized by the party's top opera production unit did not mean there were only that handful of works in the whole country. Instead, there was an argument over what the central state organs should put their resources into airing.


[ 24 February 2003: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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Babbler # 1064

posted 24 February 2003 07:09 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
There is as of now a terrible shortage of revolutionary culture.

That would be astonishing, were it all as much fun as this stuff.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
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posted 24 February 2003 08:56 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
emma goldman said, "if I can't dance, it's not my revolution!", i don't like the idea of training people to choose which forms of cultural production should be banned? heck, why stop at 95%, go for 97% or maybe 99%, you can't be too pure.

quote:
Hence, when we disapprove of something we mean to ban it upon seizure of state power ... The party has yet to approve a specific percentage of films and music that it believes should be banned. This will be a task of a future party congress. Judging from reviews done so far, I would guesstimate it appears that MIM would ban 95% of existing performing arts culture. The next time in the video store, make a judgement what portion of movies can be banned with no one missing them or with society being improved.

From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
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posted 24 February 2003 09:15 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
All proletarian Chinese operas, all the time.

From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
swallow
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2659

posted 25 February 2003 12:20 PM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's not the single most proletarian outfit in China, though, is it?

Maoists prefer a cleaner look.


From: fast-tracked for excommunication | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
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posted 25 February 2003 12:23 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 25 February 2003 01:12 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As an antidote to this stuff:

Löwy, Michael and Robert Sayre.  Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity.
            Translated by Catherine Porter.  Durham: Duke University Press, 2001.
            317 pp.  Cloth: $59.95; ISBN 0-8223-2784-8.  Paper: $19.95; ISBN 0-8223-
2794-5.    Post-Contemporary Interventions.  [Révolte et mélancolie].
 
            In Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity, Löwy and Sayre formulate a theory that defines romanticism as a cultural protest against modern bourgeois industrial civilization and work to reveal the unity that underlies the extraordinary diversity of romanticism from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century.  Among other topics, they discuss the complex relationship between Marxism and romanticism before closing with a reflection on more contemporary manifestations of romanticism, as well as its future.

I read it in French, as "Révolte et mélancolie. Le romantisme ŕ contre-courant de la modernité". (Payot, Paris 1992).

Like our friend Blake's handle, (great Blake illustration on the bright red cover of the French edition), this study explores REVOLUTIONARY romanticism, in which a longing for a past before class society becomes a virulent critique of capitalist society and a hope for the future.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
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posted 25 February 2003 02:46 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
defines romanticism as a cultural protest against modern bourgeois industrial civilization and work to reveal the unity that underlies the extraordinary diversity of romanticism from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century.

I will read that book. The diversity of romanticism(s) has long been of interest to me.
There is definitely a revolutionary romanticism which needs to be understood, also. To me, early Soviet "Proletkult", Mayakovsky, and onwards to
Stakhanovism all reek of the romantic. So I am not sure that it needs to be a protest against industrial civilization; it can also be the creation of a poetics of industrial civilization.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Black Dog
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posted 25 February 2003 05:25 PM      Profile for Black Dog   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Hence, when we disapprove of something we mean to ban it upon seizure of state power ... The party has yet to approve a specific percentage of films and music that it believes should be banned. This will be a task of a future party congress. Judging from reviews done so far, I would guesstimate it appears that MIM would ban 95% of existing performing arts culture. The next time in the video store, make a judgement what portion of movies can be banned with no one missing them or with society being improved.

I think I can sum up this ideaology with a quote from another great revolutionary, Iggy Pop: No fun.

From: Vancouver | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2230

posted 25 February 2003 05:34 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here's the MIM website
http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/

quote:
What actions are necessary to join MIM?

See also, MIM's cardinal principles listed as "Three Points"

See also, "What is a cardinal principle?" What's the whole idea behind that concept?

As of the second session of MIM's 1999 Party Congress, anyone who upholds MIM's cardinal principles may come up with their own idea of what is necessary action and become an honorary member (HC) of MIM. If a leader in full-standing in the party witnesses or verifies that action on behalf of MIM, the HC is admitted.


A party leader in full-standing--a Central Committee member for instance--follows the guidelines of a book called the "primer." The primer contains regulations on how much money must be spent on revolution, branch organization, geographic location, sexual practices, practices on drugs (upholding the law) and many other items which make it very difficult to join the party as an MC. We generally suggest that people become RAIL members or HCs before they attempt following all the regulations of MIM members. The primer regulations can be exhausting if attempted immediately without step-by-step experience and thought.

Honorary members can vote at MIM Congresses, but the Central Committee controls the floor.


MIM also believes "all sex is rape."
"...rape is defined as coerced sex. MIM contends that in a patriarchal society in which men as a group have power over women as a group, there can be no sex free from coercion. Women do not consent to lack of political power, or to lack of control over their sexuality and reproductive labor. Given that, how can we speak of their meaningful consent to sex?" (MIM Notes #117, 7-1,96, p.2)

"While MIM acknowledges that under patriarchy, all sex is rape, we know that First World women do not need sexual relationships for survival. MIM upholds asexuality as the most advanced sexual practice if done correctly. We also do have policies regarding divorce for spousal abuse. As the next best thing to asexuality, we require forever monogamy of our members and advocate it for the masses, because a commitment to working through problems in a relationship is a closest thing to a guarantee of increasing equality in a relationship. We work to abolish patriarchy which is the only way to end rape. Feminists need to focus on building independent institutions of the oppressed to overthrow patriarchy, not on how to distinguish between good sex and bad sex within the confines of patriarchy.... "

[ 25 February 2003: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1064

posted 25 February 2003 05:57 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think I can sum up this ideaology with a quote from another great revolutionary, Iggy Pop: No fun.

Ah, but Comrade black_dog, in that song Comrade Stooge -- as he then was -- was merely describing the alienation which is an inevitable feature of capitalist society, particularly among its youth.

The following year, on the long-playing album ironically titled Fun House, he provided evidence of his emerging revolutionary consciousness, viz.:

quote:
I've been dirt
But I don't care
I've been hurt
But I don't care
'Cause I'm learnin'...

Though he had an unfortunate tendency to individualism, and "self-expression" for its own sake, he indicates here that he understands the transformative power of an experience like the Long March. Plainly, if you will forgive the use of metaphor, he was envisioning a kind of Long March through the decidedly unrevolutionary milieu of the popular music world -- as we can see in his later adoption of the new nom de guerre Iggy Pop.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
scrabble
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2883

posted 25 February 2003 07:03 PM      Profile for scrabble     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
'lance honey - you freak.

*ahem* Carrying on,

quote:
Peace in Middle Earth in our time

MINAS TIRITH (Gondor News Network) - Thousands of peace activists took to the streets of Minas Tirith and other cities of Middle Earth today to protest what they termed a rush to war with Mordor.

“We need more time for diplomacy,” said a key member of the Middle-Earth Security Council, Saruman the White. “I am not convinced by the evidence presented by my esteemed colleague, Gandalf the Grey, or that the Dark Lord Sauron presents an imminent danger to the peoples of the West.”

Many of the people protesting war in Mordor agreed with Saruman’s remarks. “Sauron says he’s destroyed his Rings of Mass Destruction (RMD) and that’s good enough for me,” said one fellow carrying a sign that said “Elrond is a Balrog.” Another demonstrator urged, “Give the RMD inspectors more time. There’s no reason to rush to any judgment just because Mount Doom is belching lava, the Dark Tower is rebuilt, and Osgiliath has been decimated.” A third protester piped up, “I haven’t heard a single bit of convincing evidence connecting the Nazgul with Sauron. I think they destroyed Osgiliath on their own initiative without any support from Sauron. Besides, it’s understandable they’re angry with Gondor. We haven’t done nearly as much for the Orcs and Goblins and Easterlings as the Nazgul and Sauron have. It’s understandable they throw their support to them. It’s our own fault really.”

As the protesters continued their march through the city, they chanted, “No blood for Mount Doom,” voicing a common sentiment that the leaders of the Western peoples are really seeking to get their hands on the powerful Mount Doom, where the One Ring of Power was allegedly forged.

Gandalf the Grey was unavailable for comment. A spokesman said he was in an undisclosed underground location, which sources have revealed is codenamed: Moria.



From: dappled shade in the forest | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged

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