The Lighthouse: A Beacon, a Warning
Most movies fail to achieve the status of art.
Film evokes a passive experience in its viewers. For a set period of time stimulating imagery washes over us, engaging on a superficial level, holding our attention by prodding our lizard brains with safely contained visuals of action, conflict, or eroticism.
Real art isn’t a transitory activity, relaxing while absorbing an overload of tricks and mock thrills. Experiencing real art is a slow, internal realization that grows and expands. It changes us. It takes us outside of time.
One of the main themes of this blog is that the ruling class establishment is working mightily to purge the experience of real art from our culture. They’ve managed to make the enduring human activity of art into something isolated and irrelevant. Removing art from the people facilitates the elitist intent to lord over a befuddled, ignorant, and dispirited populace.
That being said, I don’t look to the film industry to deliver art. I like to be entertained too. But even that enjoyment has been harder to find over time. Mainstream movies have degenerated into virtue signalling wankfests, pandering to the sensibilities of woke critics and decadent yet sanctimonious industry insiders. The ruination of the movies is just another aspect of the Postmodern totalitarian gambit.
Hollywood is horrible these days. More and more productions are reduced to shrill leftist political proselytizing. It’s not like this is what audiences want either; this is a top down driven campaign. The New Aristocracy of the Well Connected are determined to shove their propaganda down our throats through every aspect of communications in their control. Thanks to the success of the Long March Through the Institutions, they pretty much control them all. Not only movies and art, but the media, government, academia, big tech, corporate boardrooms, and non-profit agencies are all in lockstep, driving the cultural Marxist agenda.
The market is glutted with homogeneous films, endless rehashes seasoned with heaps of obligatory politically correct posturing and diversity scoring keeping. It doesn’t even matter when the audiences reject the offerings. The globalist corporate studios are so huge they can afford to take a financial hit when their crappy agitprop movies fail. I’m very suspicious of book cooking and money laundering in the reported bottom lines anyway. How much of a contemporary movie’s box office comes from the manipulated Chinese marketplace? There a Hollywood movie may do well-if the ruling Communist Party wants it too. What should that tell you?
After seeing Star Wars in 1977, I spent most of my formative years dreaming of making movies. I still follow the film industry, keeping current with upcoming productions and results. It was only after I discovered painting in college that I found a better way to show my visions to the world without having to chase down expensive equipment and funding. Being a painter is an individual journey to a much more profound destination. It does not demand the compromises of working collaboratively. I recently stumbled across a small piece of evidence on how the movie producing scheme is now unfolding.
I follow film reviewer Chris Stuckmann on Youtube. I don’t always agree with him, but he presents his analysis with integrity, good humor, and a strong knowledge of film history and technique. Stuckmann wants to do more than just talk about movies. His channel covers his ongoing efforts to make his own films. I would love to see what would happen if he got a chance to apply his cinematic insights onto his own creations.
Towards the end of a recent review of a poorly made horror movie, Stuckmann gave a telling quote about what is happening behind the scenes. Pointing out an irrelevant #MeToo story line that was shoehorned into this cheap thriller, Stuckmann explains the feedback he’s been receiving from studios:
“This subplot has nothing to do with the movie, and I know exactly why it’s in there. For the past year I’ve had multiple scripts that I’ve talked to many studios about, and some have showed real interest…one of the biggest notes I’ve always gotten back is that if you included some sort of social commentary, or something that was in the news today, something that people are talking about a lot, that might make your script easier to sell.”
Forget about quality. The message is SJW posturing is mandatory if a creative is to get any major opportunities. Parroting the progressive line guarantees favorable reviews and support from fellow travelling film wonks. however there are signs the apparatchik monopoly may be slipping.
The non-stop ideological haranguing really soured me on film. For years I hardly ever went to a theater to see a new release, waiting for dvds or streaming. Now something is changing. In 2019 I actually went to the movies three times, which I probably haven’t done in at least a decade. I saw, and enjoyed, Midsommar, Joker, and The Lighthouse. These smaller releases, lumped into the niche genres of horror and super hero movies, show a pattern of defiance against the stifling status quo. I see how they indicate an evolving direction for the zeitgeist which is not following the political/media combine plan.
Once the spirit of an age turns against the powers that be, nothing can save their prestige and power. It’s only a question of how damaging their downfall will be.
So what was in these movies that made them different? Note: there will be some spoilers in the discussion below.
Stop, Children, What’s That Sound: Midsommar
Midsommar was the most flawed. I attended this one based on the director Ari Aster’s powerful first film, Hereditary. Midsommar couldn’t match the infernally machined plot of Hereditary, or actress Toni Collette’s fiery performance as a grieving artist and mother. Midsommar had the conventional horror trope of college student types lined up to be massacred, but in an unexpected setting: under the bright sunshine, in flower strewn fields. The villains are equally sunny collectivists, smiling as they dispense hallucinogens, torture and death. Midsommar worked best in evoking an uncanny atmosphere and showing off trippy visuals. Still, the movie exposes the nasty murderous pagan impulses underpinning Green New Deal style objectives. The fanatics seem so well-intentioned, right up to point when they commit acts of cruelty and slaughter; not the typical Hollywood attitude towards back-to-the-land commune dwellers.
The Success of Joker is No Laughing Matter
I dropped out of the seemingly endless and increasingly monotonous super hero movie grind ages ago. Joker was different. It intrigued me with its gritty but luminous trailers. Joaquin Phoenix has turned in many intense performances before. But what got me to buy a ticket was the cancel culture frenzy which took aim at this movie.
A lot of hysterical commentary got vented about how sinister right wing incel violence was bound to erupt due to this movie about a downtrodden clown gone wrong. Well, the projections about bloodshed were baseless, but the SJWs were right to recognize the threat the movie posed to their dogmas.
Set in the 1980s, the film repeats beats from Martin Scorsese’s dystopian 1970s films. ‘ While contemporary critics are desperate to tie the Joker’s decline and fall as a symptom of Orange Man Bad’s America, a different comparison is more apt. Joker gives a depiction of Gotham as a typical Democrat run urban shithole, and the suffering of those trapped in the blue state model. The out of control crime, filth, decay, and discord is happening today in cities from San Francisco to New York, from Los Angles to Chicago. All these blighted places have been under corrupt progressive dominance for decades.
Joker skewers media malfeasance as well, another sore spot for the activists. They hated this movie, but their efforts at fear-mongering and boycotting failed. Joker is going to make a billion dollars. It’s the top grossing R rated movie ever.
In the case of Joker, massive audiences ignored demands to obey the latest politically correct diktats. A gap exists between the cultural commissars and the people, and that gap is growing. It helped that the movie made corrosion look colorful through comely cinematography. There were enough hints of the Batman mythos to provide fan service. Phoenix delivers an engrossing take on gross humanity, a delusional villain who still elicits some compassion as he dances down as an engine of destruction.
But the strongest film I watched this year was The Lighthouse. It’s also the film that most effectively demonstrates an aspect of the new spirit which is stirring-which is actually very old spirit indeed.
Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man, Man vs. Himself
On the surface, the story is about two men either going mad or being bewitched, fueled by isolation and drink. It works on that primary level very well, but there’s more to it. The Lighthouse is influenced by Western cultural information that has long been ignored or attacked by what are supposed to be our cultural institutions. This creepy little period piece draws power by partaking in the rich traditional stories society used to treasure. It echoes the great works of religion, mythology, and literature which formed the West, and informed the generations who built up an amazing civilization.
This isn’t an academic exercise, where you play spot the references to prove how clever you are. This is visceral, a gut level reverberation; archetypal frenzy channeled. The same spirit which drove the geniuses of the past is effectively evoked in The Lighthouse, telling its own unique variation on timeless themes.
Once the hinted heritages on display would have been kind of shared language, common knowledge for all. That has been stifled by our governing class, on purpose.
I was thrilled to see and hear moments that recalled classical myths, the Old Testament, Coleridge, Melville, and Shakespeare. There’s some David Mamet, Samuel Beckett, and H.P. Lovecraft in there too. Imagery took form like the artistry of Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and William Blake.
A viewer doesn’t need to recognize the ghosts of the canon crowding into the frames to be enthralled by the film. It stands on its own merits. It’s a visionary, tense work. But seeing those salutes to the accomplishments and knowledge of our forefathers adds potent nuance.
The movie also handles the past as its own distinct character. It doesn’t feel like today’s sensibilities just dressed up in costumes, which is the typical default Hollywood shtick. Another era seems present in every detail.
The Postmodern philosophy has been used as a bulldozer against our culture. The agenda has been for a great leveling to take place, to knock over the soaring achievements of Western civilization. Our elites are grinding our legacy into rubble under the treads of their reckless pursuit for power. But a new philosophy has emerged, to counter the planned destruction. Like always, this new direction first appeared in the arts.
In 2000, Billy Childish and Charles Thomson, two British artists, wrote a statement years ahead of its time. The Remodernism Manifesto delivered a compelling alternative to the lies and presumptions of the Postmodern contemporary arts-and by extension, the practices of the whole rotten establishment. They were the first ones I saw who declared what could come after the fall of the corrupt Postmodern ethos; a self-determining Remodern era, where the great advances of the past can be built upon, instead of trashed.
These founding artists inspired creatives around the world. They created an open source art movement for the 21st century. As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:
Remodernism reboots the culture. Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation. We express the universal language of inspired humanity. We do not imitate what came before. We find in ourselves the same divine essence of love and excitement which has inspired masterpieces throughout history. We are strengthened by drawing on traditions thousands of years old. We integrate the bold, visionary efforts of the Modern era into a holistic, meaningful expression of contemporary life. Remodernism seeks a humble maturity which heals the fragmentation and contradictions of Modernism, and obliterates the narcissistic lies of Postmodernism. Remoderism is disruptive innovation applied to the moribund art world.
What you have in the arts, ultimately you will have everywhere. The arts show us how to be. When Andrew Breitbart stated “Politics is downstream from culture,” he was reiterating what mystic artist William Blake knew: “Empire follows art and not vice versa…”
This model is upheld by the changes I’ve seen unfolding over the 20 years since Childish and Thomson wrote down their ideas about art. They called for a DIY, spiritually driven revolt against the status quo in the incompetent and arrogant well-connected art world. Extrapolate that, and the message is clear.
Our betters, are not. Our servants aren’t serving. They have squandered their credibility, and have no authority. It’s time for the rest of us to outgrow the limitations the elites try to force upon us. That message isn’t just about art anymore.
Postmodernism is a form of dysfunctional global tyranny that must be opposed. The Remodern hunger for renewal is driving the populist insurgencies remaking the world.
I also see some of the same stubborn insistence on expressing a unique voice in these three 2019 movies. If the covert independence these films represent continue make it through the establishment filters, I’ll be going to the movies a lot more.
The Lighthouse: Yo Ho Ho
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