Under the Dome
Created by: Brian K. Vaughan and Stephen King
Based on: Under the Dome by Stephen King
Recommended? Not even remotely.
It was such an intriguing premise. A small town, and its surrounding farmland, is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable dome. My mind reeled with possibilities and questions. Can they learn to live sustainably? Will they do away with conventional government and currency systems? Will they form collectives? Will they organize by consensus? I have a crapload of laundry to do — will I at least have an entertaining binge watch while sorting and folding? The answer to all these questions was a painful no.
Should you wish to share my pain, or judge for yourself, Under the Dome is a CBS series readily available on CBS.com, Amazon Prime, and DVD. Be warned though, this show is just good enough in its early episodes to make you keep watching for a long, life-sucking ride.
Continue reading Under the Dome, Seasons 1-3
The Anarchist Cookbook
Directed and written by: Jordan Susman
Recommended? hahaha no
It’s a good thing most of the movies about us are absolute crap and no one watches them.
What if someone took everything awful about Fight Club (the machismo and misogyny, the too-easy political nihilism, the cliche masochistic bromance) and mixed it with everything awful about SLC Punk (the oversimplification of anarchism, the obvious fact that youth doesn’t last, the yay-for-selling-out ending), amplified it, and turned it into a movie?
You’d have The Anarchist Cookbook.
The Anarchist Cookbook is the worst movie about anarchists that has ever been made. Some movies misunderstand us (SLC Punk). Some movies vilify us (El Bosc). Some movies condescend to us (The East, No God, No Master). This movie intentionally warps our words and practices, alternately mocking us and reviling us.
Continue reading The Anarchist Cookbook (2002)
Director: Óscar Aibar
Writer: Albert Sánchez Piñol
Recommended? Well, we’re the bad guys in it, so… no.
Another fantasy movie set during the Spanish Civil War! I loved Pan’s Labyrinth! What can go wrong?
A lot, apparently.
El Bosc (translation from Catalan: The Forest) follows a small landowning family outside a tiny town in Spain during the war. The lead male is petit-bourgeois and a sexist ass and runs away from the fight into a portal into another world. His wife is, presumably, our protagonist, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lead character with so little agency: she just waits around while men are shitty to her. That’s basically all she does the whole movie.
Continue reading El Bosc (2012)
No God, No Master
Directed and Written by: Terry Green
Well, I didn’t have high hopes.
No God, No Master is a slightly-jumbled but intensely-earnest retelling of the Palmer Raids, Galleanist terror, and, tacked on, an abridged version of the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti.
Our protagonist detective is none other than William J. Flynn, who in real life was considered the US’s foremost expert on anarchists — from a repressing-us point of view — and headed the Bureau of Investigation after the events of the film.
Continue reading No God, No Master (2013)
Tarzan of the Apes
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
1914, A. C. McClurg
Recommended? Not as such
Every time I sit down to write for the Anarcho-Geek Review, I think about how limiting it is to say “Recommended?” and then answer in the binary. But, I suppose, a reader comes to AGR wanting a recommendation from the point of view of “can an anarchist recommend this politically.” And with Tarzan, no, I cannot in good conscience recommend it. It’s a story of its time, with all the evil black men and damsels-in-distress that entails.
It’s a well-written, well-paced adventure and romance the likes of which we don’t see too often anymore. So what’s good (a little bit) and bad (a hell of a lot) about old Tarzan?
Continue reading Tarzan of the Apes
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Jim Uhls
Based on a novel by: Chuck Palahniuk
Recommended? You’ve already seen it.
Since the first rule of fight club is you’re not supposed to talk about fight club, maybe most of this essay isn’t actually going to be about the movie Fight Club. It’s going to be about Raymond K. Hessel.
I’m going to assume you’ve seen the movie.
Maybe you remember the scene where our protagonist (both halves of him) drags one of the only people of color in the whole film out behind the building at his shitty job, puts a gun to his head, and tells him to go back to school to be a veterinarian like he always wanted to be. And half our protagonist (we’ll call this half “Edward Norton”) tells the other half (we’ll call this half “Mr. Cool”) that maybe he shouldn’t go around pointing guns at people. Because, you know, maybe that’s taking it too far.
Continue reading Fight Club (1999)
by James W. Hall
2013, Minotaur Books
I came upon Going Dark by James Hall randomly on a trip to the library. Perhaps it was blocking another book I went to reach for, but for some reason, I picked it up and opened it. The blurb on the inside of the jacket began by explaining what the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is and immediately after that, I knew I was going to have to read the book. After all, what anarchist could turn it down the opportunity to read a thriller about the ELF taking out a nuclear power plant?
Almost three-hundred pages later, I can safely say that while Going Dark was interesting in terms of how it portrayed the Earth Liberation Front (more on that later in the review), it really is not worth reading. It’s a mystery/thriller, part of a series written by author James W. Hall featuring the South Florida-based private investigator Thorn. Thorn is your typical male detective type, he doesn’t say a lot and generally keeps to himself as a cynical loner on the outside of society with few personal relationships. He has a strong independent streak and a kind of knee-jerk skepticism of government and society, although much of his personality follows the more negative trends of masculine stoicism. I had never read any of the other Thorn novels and Going Dark didn’t really build on the previous books, aside from the fact that Thorn seemed to be in a bit more of a funk than usual because in the last book he found out that he had a son named Flynn whose existence he didn’t learn about until last year (his son is now in his twenties).
Continue reading Going Dark by James W. Hall
Irrational Games, 2013
Recommended? Not for what it’s got to say about the world, no.
I’m not too much one for first-person shooters but I’m an anarchist and I’m into steampunk and videogames so it was pretty much inevitable that I was going to give BioShock: Infinite a try.
This game is completely full of class war and anti-racist tropes. I mean, like, completely full. So full it’s overflowing and honestly the tropes are starting to smell and shouldn’t someone clean this thing out before they start to rot?
In BioShock: Infinite you play a disinterested white savior with the higher moral ground who runs around killing first racists and then the anti-racist revolutionaries. The moral of the story is that anyone who wants to solve problems like institutionalized racism and classism with revolutionary violence is a bad person who is going to take things too far. Unless you’re the protagonist, an ex-Pinkerton agent who kills hundreds of people over the course of the game in the name of a paycheck. In which case, you’re in a good place to judge.
Continue reading BioShock: Infinite
Knights of Badassdom
Director: Joe Lynch
Writers: Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall
Recommended? Not really, no.
Bechdel Test: See below.
It’s never any fun when your culture is represented by outsiders. Geeks know this as much as anyone—we’re much maligned, us people who favor strange costumes and make-believe. So like plenty of geeks, I’ve been waiting around for Knights of Badassdom for awhile now—finally, a film for us, by us. In fact, I’ve been waiting several years now. (There was a whole kerfluffle between the director and the studio that set it back a number of years and left us with a cut that is not what the director intended.)
But, well, if this is what geeks have to say about geek culture… then this is not our proudest day.
At the beginning of the film, a group of LARPers (Live Action Roleplayers) have their games ruined by a bunch of camo-wearing rednecks with paintball guns. Oh, the jocks… the geek’s natural enemy. I’m sympathetic to the LARPer’s plight.
Continue reading Knights of Badassdom (2013)
by Bill Willingham
2103, Dynamite Entertainment
Should I read? Nope
Steampunk is situated in an interesting place for radicals: it can, as the Catastrophone Orchestra put it, offer a “non-Luddite critique of technology,” and sites like Beyond Victoriana use steampunk as a platform to combat racism and orientalism. This, plus its ability to explore colonialism, class, and gender while looking oh-so-very-cool in the process has attracted more than a few radical authors to the genre, from those that are explicitly anarchist like Alan Moore to socialists of various stripes like China Miéville.
The genre has also seen a large recent growth in popularity, its aesthetic making appearances in mainstream television shows like Castle and that terribly embarrassing Bieber Christmas music video. One of the most well known steampunk novels, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, is currently being adapted for a major motion picture.
Continue reading Legenderry #1, by Bill Willingham