S17 Ep4 – Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers

Pretty neat episode this week.

South Park continues to teach me the privileged lingo of first-world brats, delivering it in a cute parody of religious divisions, the farcical nature of entertainment these days and the power of the mind to cripple itself.

The little discussion over the library table about the role of Poe in founding goths, vamps or emos was quite a cute imitation of the Jews’, Christians and Muslims tussle over Jesus – I wonder if the fanatics think that Trey and Matt make a good point, if they’re violently insulted or if they’re not able to notice it at all?

I disagree with the rather dull non-goth/vamp/emos who think that they’re all the same though: there is a huge difference between someone who hates life and someone who hates themselves. The way they reach their decisions is totally and utterly different, but the decisions that they reach will both be based in hopelessness and hate, so that, overall, in the end, the result is the same. So all we Christians, Jews and Muslims, we goths, vamps and emos should live together peacefully because we share an ends!

But seriously, though, emos suck. If you hate yourself, go fix yourself up, douchebag! Read a few self-help novels, go find yourself a shrink, just do something about it, you fucking vegetable!

I loved how despite all of the goths, vamps, E.A.P and that one gardener taking the whole emo-takeover conspiracy so seriously, Trey and Matt turned the whole thing into a stupid reality stunt. It would probably be too far to consider this as a nod to the massive amount of power that the media has over the way we see the world, but media entertainment is definitely sinking into deeper dependency on the shock-and-awe tactic.

Henrietta’s turnaround from emo to goth again was hilarious.

Henrietta: Nnnoooo, there’s an organic spore in my head that made me switch cliques so easily.
Michael: No, you just kind of did it on your own.
Henrietta: Oh my Gawd. [closes her eyes, drops her pen on the table, and pinches her nose at the bridge] This is so… em-barrassing.
Pete: Ahh, hang on. What I meant to say was [flips his hair] we just infiltrated the Emo lair and… we torched the plant leader.

She picked the healthiest way to deal with that kind of revelation – it’s an intelligent and practise artist of doublethink, who can keep their world from self-destructing for so long.

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This still. You can see the summoning is happening right in the middle between the literature and science sections – the meeting of the two human arts is magic, religion and the occult. And, of course, our random chime at every major debate, who has no real investment in the issue and argues to hear his own voice. He’s objective enough to do pretty spot-on analyses though.

And, coming up next: Ike’s balls drop!

Notes on “Millennium People” by J. G. Ballard (2)

Chapter 9 “The Upholstered Apocalypse”

Already, Ballard has poked fun at the idea of a middle-class need for revolution, but he is half-serious, intending his narrative to be the beginnings of a 21st Century revamping the outfit of “revolution”. I wonder what Ballard thinks now of the traditional, bloody revolutions happening in the Middle East. The book was first published in 2003; was all of the developed world so self-absorbed at the turn of the century? Could there possibly be a revolution against comfort and mild prestige while there are still developing worlds in abject poverty and terrorists lurking in the Middle East? 9/11 had occurred two years ago, London had had its share of burning wreckage in the streets – it couldn’t have been detached from the fear of ‘envious’ violence from foreigners less fortunate. I suppose though, that that is the crux of the matter – the middle-class are detached: “These people want to change the world, use violence if they need to, but they’ve never had the central heating turned off in their lives.” (p 67, Chapter 9 “The Upholstered Apocalypse”); “with their naive talk of overturning an entire century… they had torn down a travel poster in a shopping mall”. The implication is that they have a general urge to change the world, which they believe looks like a moment in the sun, chanting along with a large group of their fellow victims (p 51-):

Kay Churchill – “She was telling off a luckless hospital receptionist, raising her voice to a fishwife shriek as she described my chest injuries and likely brain damage. All the while, she was watching herself admiringly in the coat-stand mirror.”; “I noticed the deeply bitten nails, and the strong nose she had picked since childhood.” she openly wore her insecurities like a collection of favourite costume jewellery”;

Dexter, the imposter? – “the very picture of  fashionable Chelsea vicar”; but the scar was a little too fresh, and I suspected that he kept it deliberately inflamed…one of his canines was missing, a gap he made no attempt to hide, as if advertising…”; “he fingered the scar on his forehead, trying to rub it away and at the same time make it more prominent, an oblique caution to himself”; “his affection [for Joan Chang, girlfriend] was clear, but somehow lacked confidence, part of a larger failure of nerve.”; “I should have remembered who I was trying to be.”;

Joan Chang – “smiling slyly. ‘He doesn’t like the Adler Institute. In fact, he said everyone there should be hanged.”; “‘I always tell the truth.’ She beamed winsomely. ‘It’s a new way of lying.'”

Sally – “immersed in her own perpetual recovery, an had no wish to share her monopoly of doubt and discomfort… my bruises [from the cat show demo] were self-inflicted, far removed from the meaningless injuries that presided over her life like an insoluble mystery.”; “huddled happily over a pillow. ‘He was fined. A hundred pounds. Yes, I’m married to a criminal.”

And David’s own sob story of a motherless childhood.

“As always, a perverse calculus refreshed and redefined the world.”

  • Mathematical calculus is finding the instantaneous rate of change at a certain point i.e. the study of change – a perverse calculus is calculus configured oppositely; so, the change in Sally from chair-bound to mobile was somehow contrary – I’ve really no idea.
  • perverse: willfully determined/disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary; wayward or cantakerous; persistently or obstinately wrong; turned away from/rejecting what is right/good/proper i.e. wicked/corrupt.

Chapter 10 “Appointment with a Revolution”

Vera Blackburn – “Her apartment was sparsely furnished… A chromium-framed photograph hung above the mantlepiece, a blow-up of herself in full Helmut Newton mode, all emotion eliminated from her face… a shrine to a desperate narcissism.”

I’m starting to recognise a writing style emerge from the way the dust sits and the exhaust hangs in the wake of Ballard’s tour of the middle-class. Borrowing the dialogue of the characters, the novel is showcasing the symptoms of middle-class’ grievances against the current societal order: immortal mortgages, children needing education from the most competitively priced schools, and the threat of the dispersal of the middle-class under the stress of the first two. Written with words thick in meaning for those initiated to the problems of the middle-class, the narrative is relatively hard-going for me but I’m enjoying the insight. A particularly intense boredom, a need to place faith in a time when it’s intellectually disreputable – perhaps I am behind the times, but I identify with these conundrums, and although I may not be drinking pink gin and have Axminster wall-to-wall in central heating, my problems are easily first-world.

It’s an interesting book – you should read it!

Notes on “Millennium People” by J. G. Ballard (1)

– “We have to set people free from all this culture and education. Richard says they’re just ways of trapping the middle class and making them docile.” – “So it’s a war of liberation?” – p 61, Chapter 8 “The Sleepwalkers”.

– “I remembered Kay hinting that he had lost his faith, but this was almost an obligation in the contemporary priesthood.” – p 62, Chapter 8 “The Sleepwalkers”.

  • Naturally, as to communicate/to be in touch wth i.e. to empathise with his congregation, a priest must lose his faith in God to the scientific revolution, demonstrating that he is first a reasonable, logical human. He must have lost his faith to be able to show his congregation the way thence to reconciling with God and reconciling themselves to the ostensibly antagonistic relationship between religion and science.

– “Look at the world around you, David. What do you see? An endless theme park, with everything turned into entertainment. Science, politics, education – they’re so many fairground rides.” – p 62, Chapter 8 “The Sleepwalkers”.

  • I’m a little confused at this statement. Science, politics, education – fairground rides? Entertainment? Surely not – I mean, these are three major branches of society that hold it together, maintain it and create its future. How could you possibly think that these are mere entertainment? Sure there are magazines for each one, and they could be classified as spectator sports, as not many have the skill to play a role in these branches of society. Elements of education can be compared to a fairground ride, e.g. a languages degree etc. but fundamentally, all three branches are vital to the running of a successful society.

The target of this middle-class revolution is the 20th Century which persevered on to shape this century’s theme park.

– “It lingers on. It shapes everything we do, the way we think. There’s scarcely a good thing you can say for it. Genocidal wars, half the world destitute, the other half sleepwalking through its own brain-death. We bought its trashy dreams and now we can’t wake up. ALl these hypermarkets and gated communities. Once the doors close you can never get out. You know all this, David. It keeps you in corporate clients.” – p 63-64, Chapter 8 “The Sleepwalkers”.

  • The main character suspects that the speaker, Dexter, is an “imposter”; although what kind of imposter he might be is unclear to me, possibly due to ignorance on my part. Help?
  • All the characters presented to us in Millennium People so far have been the middle-class, those living comfortably with their specious luxuries that only do so much to delineate them from the next class down, so that they must supplement the difference by investing in the middle-class culture of theatre and literature and information. Something along those lines.
  • The main character, David, starts out as a spy for the world order as it is. He is the other half of the middle-class, the half protecting the status quo, the half still happy to be a part of the trash-fed society because it functions. The other half he describes as being “detached from reality”, being in touch with reality meaning to be in possession of worldliness, the fashionable – being literate in the current trend – and an unshakeable rationality, and he categorises them as a lost, lonely people over-abundant in faith that they cannot invest, searching for a tangible leader who will stand on their belief in rationalism for his foundation.
  • So, perhaps, what Ballard means by “imposter” is someone detached from reality, who presents themselves as the one to make an observable difference to the world.
  • So basically, this book is about the hopelessly deluded middle-class running around believing that they’re the swing vote between the proletariat and the elite class, and how a secret dissident is slowly brought to their cause?

– “Strong-willed and confident, they shouted down the young manager who tried to address them. Their voices, honed at a hundred school open days and business conferences, drowned the manager’s efforts to make himself heard.
‘What is it?’ I asked Kay, as she edged the car through the throng. ‘It looks serious.’
‘It is serious.’
‘Some paedophile on the prowl?’
‘Parking charges.’ Kay stared sternly at the luckless manager, who had taken refuge behind his glass door. ‘Believe me, the next revolution is going to be about parking.'”

  • Or rather, because the middle-class are faithless, unlike the proletariat, and in need of faith, unlike the elite, they are latching onto any convenient cause, flea-like, to satisfy their need to gather with like and believe in one absolute right. The next revolution will be about parking because it is the most popular and, therefore, has the most power.

Huh. Still largely confused.

South Park S5 Ep2: Cripple Fight!

I love South Park. As this is my first post about South Park proper, I just want y’all to know that.

For the past two weeks, I have been marathoning South Park, watching episode after episode in order and season after season except backwards. South Park is consistently great, and their dud episodes are few and far between. They hit several issues at once – as if there isn’t only one thing going on in the world at one time – and they never betray their cast, despite the range that their subjects need to cover. Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny feel real – each have their strengths and foibles: Cartman, the successful douchebag; Kyle, the moral realist – or, the everyday man; Stan, the spotlight-loving missionary; and Kenny, the pure devotee to modern hedonism. I could go on about Randy Marsh, Butters and I’m sure most of the other minor characters have the same kind of substance in them – they are the reactions to Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny, and consequently take their form in the logic behind the boys’ characters – but I’m a little exhausted from writing so much over the past 24 hours. Hopefully, one day in the future, I will trust myself to save this paragraph as a draft and have the motivation to come back to write a full-fledged general praises of South Park but, for now, I’ll just post in stream-of-consciousness style.

I cringed a little at the episode’s namesake event – it was a pitiful sight to watch, but like the spectating mob, I just couldn’t turn away. The boys’ macabre desire to further injure each other despite suffering under the disabilities they already had and their ruthless and unashamed exploitation of each others’ handicaps transfixed the whole audience – both within and without the screen. Were they shocked that people could be so consumed by blood-lust that they’d rather fight than cooperate for mutual benefit in an environment unforgiving of their physical capabilities? Is our need to feel individual and meaningful so desperate that we would rather die than live with people too like ourselves? Or maybe I’m being judgemental. For people with disabilities to not allow their disability to hold them back, they should be able to fight, love and carouse as much as any able-bodied person; but is it really possible, or right, for them to ignore their disability to follow a lifestyle that doesn’t suit their natural capabilities?

When the news mistook the huge crowds turning out to see the cripple fight for supporters of anti-discrimination of gays in Scouts, television watchers all over the US, including original dissidents Randy Marsh and Kenny’s dad, began to follow the movement to allow gays in Scouts and persecute the Scout elders or whatever they’re called.

It was a neat little trick, putting Randy Marsh and Kenny’s dad next to each other on the same team – showing that the middle class are just hicks in better clothing with both subject to television rule.

Everything wraps up when the fabulous Big Gay Al refuses to forcibly take his place in the Scouts, preserving the rights of clubs to decide their selection criteria for membership. And so, the hero of the episode is Big Gay Al, the ultra-accepting, all-loving model citizen who rejects ideological subjugation by the majority for genuine understanding brought about by communication. I think I’m a little bit in love. I wish I were a man. And 2D.

But questions still remain unanswered: whatever happened to the Scouts in later episodes? How did the guys spend five seasons in 3rd Grade and 12 seasons in 4th Grade, with at least 14 Christmases in between? South Park, I have faith that you’ll reveal the answers to all of these in future episodes.

And the much talked about Cripple Fight: