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David Thompson
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November 27, 2013

Comments

Anna

Perfect. ;D

Rafi

I wondered if we could go back to talking about zombies and socialism?

Too many levels of irony...

Jon Powers

Good news for her - in a zombie apocalypse, she'd be safe. Zombies are interested in eating brains.

David

Too many levels of irony...

But it’s what’s so funny about Laurie. She seems to have studiously internalised practically every tic and pretension of a certain kind of leftist, a certain cliché. It’s as if she were playing a role, the comedy of which escapes her. Laurie talks about radicalism continually, especially her own, and is so… conformist. She’s playing radical-by-numbers.

WTP

Yes, but the young woman sitting to her right...what sort of pathogen does she have that causes that bobble-head tic? It certainly looks contagious. Could no one there help her?

Henry

"Yes, but the young woman sitting to her right"

The one with the leggings that commanded my attention (as it started to drift away from whatever Laurie was going on about)?

The thing I noticed about her was how she reflexively tried to start applause for Laurie's great cleverness. Reminded me of the cliquey friends on her twitter feed - patting each other on the back whatever they say, more or less.

Dr Cromarty

Radical zombie chic. Mau-mauing the Wellcome Trust.

What an absolute tool that woman is.

Jimmy

There's a lot of scholarship on this!

sk60

It's a class war narrative...

...in Laurie's head.

the wolf

I would empathize with a zombie who had to listen to Laurie (get to the point already!) ramble on for any length of time.

Jimmy

There are some real characters in the crowd. Check out tartan tits @15.11 and "I like turtles" boy @15.50

Jamie

There are some horrific things I have seen that I cannot un-see.
That haggard old crone in the strapless tartan dress, for example.

Tim

I couldn't guess who it was before I watched but then the Penny dropped

David

There’s a lot of scholarship on this!

Thing is, there is some ‘scholarship’ on the subject, if such it can be called. As you might imagine, there’s an awful lot of question-begging, bald assertion and endless citation loops, as if repetition made a thing true, and not much scepticism or sense of proportion. I imagine Laurie is referring to such ‘scholars’ as Nur Özgenalp, a cultural studies graduate who insists that zombies are “a symbol of the alienated proletariat.” Or Cameron Weed’s grad school dissertation, The Zombie Manifesto: The Marxist Revolutions in George A Romero’s ‘Land of the Dead’, in which Mr Weed claims that, “one must view the films as an allegory for the class antagonism and revolution proposed by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto.”

Yes, one must. One simply must. That such ‘scholarship’ exists and is deemed worthy of anyone’s time probably says more about the arse end of academia and the prevalence of people like Laurie than it does about the supposedly profound political insights of zombie films. It’s worth noting that these elaborate, incredibly tendentious dissertations tend to cite other elaborate, incredibly tendentious dissertations rather than quoting the man who actually made the films. This may be incompetent scholarship and make for unintentionally hilarious reading, but it’s not that surprising. From what I’ve seen, George Romero is much less specific about any satirical content his films may have and he’s often been baffled by – and dismissive of - the theories that other people graft onto them.

In a Big Issue interview, Romero was asked about Night of the Living Dead: “What did you want zombies to represent?” asked the interviewer. “Vietnam, racial tension, the threat of communism…?” His reply was typical of his general attitude: “I think the zombies could be anything. They could be a hurricane or a tornado. It’s not about the zombies. The important thing to me is the way the people react to this horrible situation… I resisted making a follow-up for a long time because people were talking so admiringly about it and calling it an important statement film and things I never intended.”

But the flummery above has been a standard pattern in ‘cultural studies’ for decades – how can I inflate some inane aspect of pop culture and relate it to socialism or feminism and thus appear clever, if only to other pretentious lefties? And each generation of suckers and maths-shy mediocrities thinks it’s being daring and edgy while doing the same sad old dance. It’s eerily generic. Which is why you can still find these clowns churning out supposedly serious papers on whether Jesus was “a Marxist rapper,” or on “gendered reading strategies” of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I kid you not. See also this.

[ Edited. ]

Stuck-Record

"Yes, but the young woman sitting to her right...what sort of pathogen does she have that causes that bobble-head tic? It certainly looks contagious. Could no one there help her?"

She's got Cantagreeenoughitis.

Tom Foster

I guessed straight away. I find that rather worrying.

I believe Laurie recently jetted off to the US yet again (probably best not to ask her about her 'carbon footprint', though I'd love to be there when she gets together with George Monbiot and he accuses her of being as bad as a child molester). Anyway, here she is on Thanksgiving:

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BritishonThanksgiving&src=hash

'It's also the day when your liberal American friends are more engaged with their own post-colonial angst than yours.'

There's just no let-up when you're one of the right-thinking, is there?

AC1

Cannibalism does seem to be practised with regularity when there are dramatic food shortages....

Which does seem to have happened in a number of countries that attempted to apply marxism...

Obviously the wrong people were running these countries and intellectual titans like Laurie will do a much better job ordering the lesser-but-equals about...

svh

George Romero... [has] often been baffled by – and dismissive of - the theories that other people graft onto them.

Laurie should go and tell him he's an idiot and his film is really about class war, racism and the alienated proletariat.

bilbaoboy

I too, guessed. I wouldn't say it was worrying, just slightly saddening.

I love the faux working class vowels and glottal stops until she gets into full swing and the real poshness comes out.

She must have a tough life interpreting everything as racist, sexist, classist, capitalist, socialist. But it is nice to know we have got her to do this vital work for us. Saves me busting my brains out.

Isn't anybody on the left even a little embarrassed by her incoherent, boorish and/or bullying and intellectually-challenged self-promotion? Not a band-wagon not jumped on.

Could be that I'm just jealous of all the attention she gets herself?

No. She takes me back to the student union days when in an assembly I challenged a right-on African student for voting in London directly against the mandate of the previous assembly.

Apparently, when the revolution came I would 'the first to get it'. Same crap, same arrogance, same ignorance.

My only satisfaction is that when she finally grows up and looks back, she is going to be so embarrassed. At least when I was making a right fool of myself, there was no youtube.

David

Laurie should go and tell him he’s an idiot and his film is really about class war, racism and the alienated proletariat.

There’s a minor, rather pointless cottage industry devoted to this kind of supposition. A few minutes with Google and you’ll find dozens of people – usually leftists who wasted their time doing ‘cultural studies’ – insisting that Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are actually about the Vietnam War or the twilight of capitalism or something very similar, and even suggesting that these alleged subtexts are why teenage boys turned up to watch them, usually with their girlfriends.

It’s almost funny, watching these people trying to construe old low-budget horror films, some of which are practically nihilist, as somehow affirming their own authoritarian politics. I mean, if you’re fishing for some weighty ideological validation in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, something’s gone horribly wrong.

Rob

"What do you want zombies to represent?"

HMRC.

Steve 2

Poor George Romero. If his films aren't a cunning critique of capitalism or racism or American foreign policy, then maybe they're just shlocky monster movies.

As a teenager, I was deeply impressed by Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead. They terrified me. I was wary of wandering the lonely, dimly lit, Victorian corridors of my school in case a zombie Hari Krishna was lurking around the corner, gnawing on the femur of a Maths teacher.

Even then, I was deeply unimpressed by highbrow critiques in the press claiming Night was "really about" racism or Dawn was about consumerism. I knew enough to know that reanimated corpses eating the living in a shopping centre made for a pretty juvenile critique of commercialism, if that was indeed Romero's intent. While shopping centres may have their annoyances, I've never once felt that the ladies browsing the M&S food hall are akin to walking abominations that had arisen from the dead because there's no more room in Hell.

For the benefit of cultural studies students I have compiled a list of possible postgraduate dissertations:

* A study of capitalism in crisis and Reaganomics-era labour struggle as depicted in Weekend At Bernies

* An exploration of the struggle for animal rights and refugees as seen in Thundercats

* Disability and intolerance as expressed through Captain Hook's treatment at the hands of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan

David

If his films aren’t a cunning critique of capitalism or racism or American foreign policy, then maybe they’re just shlocky monster movies.

I’ve nothing in particular against schlocky monster movies, though I don’t often search them out myself. A little low-budget flesh-eating goes an awfully long way. And some later zombie films and TV programmes do have some crude ‘message’ beyond the usual horror staples. But the zeal with which students have overblown any satirical content is quite funny. It’s remarkable just how many earnest young people have written essentially the same thesis about Romero’s early films, especially Night of the Living Dead. There’s endless guff about “depictions of white masculinity” and “mindless middle class consumers.” Though evidence is less forthcoming, as are quotes by the filmmaker regarding his own intentions.

And insofar as Romero’s own words are acknowledged at all, it’s often to dispute his stated motives, as if the man didn’t know his own mind. As if issues of budget, convenience and practicality couldn’t possibly determine what often ends up on screen. Especially if you’re working on a shoestring and pushed for time. For instance, regarding the casting of the film’s lead, Duane Jones, one student says, “It is interesting to note that in casting for this film, Romero said that he was not looking for an African American to play the lead but that Jones was the best person for the role... I find this a hard idea to believe.”

In this interview with Mark Gatiss you can see the extent of Romero’s alleged “socialist critique” and “class war narrative.” It’s basically one line of dialogue and a visual gag about shopping, nothing more elaborate. The location – what was then an unusual (and fairly cheap) place to film - is pretty much the extent of his satire. And note that even here he repeats the point about being “cowed” by critics who grafted on their own top-heavy political interpretations.

Jack DeGaulle Bodger Gillings.

Guessed immediately but had never seen her in flagrante.

How well the voice suits the vocaliser - reedy, whiny, with a child-like petulance, desperate to say something and yet saying nothing of consequence over the space of several minutes.

More please.

Hal

For the benefit of cultural studies students I have compiled a list of possible postgraduate dissertations: . . . .

Oh, I'm certain someone just needs to do a socialist analysis of the inter class warfare of Elliot/Lloyd-Weber's Cats . . . For the encore, move on to Pinky And The Brain . . .

ErisGuy

I admire your fortitude. A day of these idiotic ravings would lead me to a lifetime of aversion.

David Gillies

The idea that the original author of something is not the best-placed to interpret its meaning is a staple of po-mo literary criticism. I mean, if you ask George Romero, "what is Night of the Living Dead about?" and he answers, "it's about zombies" or even "it's about 96 minutes" then clearly he is wrong. There has to be a meta-layer of intertextual interpretation applied to absolutely everything, just because. You can blame Derrida and Foucault and Lacan and Iragaray etc. for all this (and God knows I do) but I think even they would be taken aback at Penny Dreadful's insistence that disposable horror movie tat was anything but that. Spinning a Marxoid narrative out of such shoddy thread is just casuistry.

anangbhai

The problem is that people do buy into these critiques and analyses. Romero himself did a crude satire of George Bush and the War on Terrorism in the 2005 movie Land of the Dead. John Carpenter tried to insert critiques of Reagan and capitalism into the schlocky 1988 horror film They Live where rich conservatives who were really lizard people controlled the Media.
I am of the belief that Andrew Klavan's WSJ opinion article that conflated 2008's The Dark Knight with George Bush cost that film and it's producers recognition at the Academy Awards.

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