by Margaret Killjoy
Disclaimer: Margaret Killjoy is a dear friend of mine, and someone I care about very much. This may bias me in favor of her absolutely great fiction. She is also the founder of the AGR, the website that is hosting this review. She did not, however, write any part of this review, ask me to write any part of this review, or otherwise influence it in any way, besides having written a fucking great book that got me excited enough to write this.
Margaret Killjoy is an astounding writer, and her latest, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, is an astounding book. Her work is intriguing, thought provoking, and enjoyable as hell to read. Killjoy is absolutely amazing in her ability to combine realism, imagination, idealism, and storytelling. In that way, her stories are perfectly anarchist. She seamlessly combines an understanding of, frustration with, and love of the forms of anarchism expressed by academic theory essays, crust punks, black blocs, punk shows, endless meetings, and squatted homes to show a thoroughly realistic, thoroughly idealistic enactment of her politics, perfect primarily in that she refuses to portray perfection. What makes her stories work so well, narratively and politically, is that her anarchist societies are messy, and the people are fully human. This forms the basis for some beautifully creative, dark, and ultimately hopeful speculative fiction.
Continue reading The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion
Publisher: Infinite Fall
Writers: Bethany Hockenberry, Scott Benson
Review of Night in the Woods by Io
Capitalism: just one more greasy tendril of the eldritch horror at the center of reality
“It’s the most peaceful societies which are also the most haunted, in their imaginative constructions of the cosmos, by the constant specters of perennial war.” – David Graeber
I kept an eye on Night in the Woods over the last 3 years because I liked the artists involved and it was sold to me as a platformer where a cat parkours around a haunted town and sometimes says ACAB, which sounded pretty fresh. And once I got it I became a bottomless well of feelings. I’m what professionals call a “casual” or “fake gamer girl”. I don’t often get to play video games. The ones in my house’s living room are all simple power fantasy simulators, overthrowing this or that authority, going on crime sprees, crashing helicopters into the racist players on the online chat. Not often does a game speak to my reality as a neurodivergent, lower-class radical who despite occasional delusions of grandeur does little more than take petty pot shots at the causes of my misery. Night in the Woods, though populated by anthropomorphic animals, puts you in a somewhat familiar world defined mainly by the crisis that propels it. It does a remarkably good job of gamifying an eerie atmosphere of dissatisfaction that should not be totally unrecognizable to anyone living in poverty, dealing with depression or who sometimes feels as if life’s only moments of rapturous joy in the face of this cartoonish amount of alienation come in the form of breaking things for no reason with your friends. You may think this sounds like a bummer of a game, and I wouldn’t argue against that, but I cannot recommend it enough. Night in the Woods is so fun, funny, immersive, and accessible. I have talked it up to so many of my friends who don’t play video games but who love comic books and good fiction because it plays like an interactive novel with absolutely gorgeous art & sound direction, and you don’t need a very fancy laptop to run it. It just makes it rain emotional investments and it is hypnotically cool to run around jumping up/on/off buildings/telephone wires/cars in this deeply fleshed out world of a formally prosperous mining town in Pennsylvania named Possum Springs.
Continue reading Night In the Woods
Publishers: Amplitude Studios, Iceberg Interactive
This morning I conquered an entire galaxy as a race of spacefaring, pacifist-ish, ecologically-focused anarchist robots. I won an economic victory. There’s probably some irony there.
Endless Space is a damn good game. I’ve played its non-space-based sequel Endless Legends a couple of times, and I think I actually like this spacey one better. I play strategy games to lose myself for a day or three after too much bullshit like work and the world being a garbage fire, and this is now one of my favorites. I’m sure I’ll sacrifice more of the finite hours in which I’m alive to play this game.
It’s a “4X” game, which is like some weird acronym for things that don’t start with the letter X [editor’s note: “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate”]. Basically, it’s the genre of turn-based games in which you construct buildings, research technologies, extract resources, colonize territory, negotiate trade deals, and go to war.
Which doesn’t sound very anarchist now that I’m typing it out.
Why am I addicted to these fucking things?
Continue reading Endless Space and Why Can’t We Have Anarchist Strategy Games
Writer and Director: James Merendino
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “wait, they made a sequel to SLC Punk? Why would you watch that?” and believe me, that’s an understandable sentiment. I don’t entirely know how I stumbled upon the sequel, to be honest. But stumble upon it I did, and I even watched it, and more surprising of all: I even liked it.
Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2 not a better movie than SLC Punk. By most criteria, it’s objectively worse. It’s not as funny, it’s not as engaging. The plot is dangerously linear and the intentional stereotyping of the characters is more awkward (to put it lightly). The emotions are more subdued and some of the acting is worse. The copy I illegally downloaded had weird file errors that made it skip a couple seconds here and there and clearly that’s something I can blame the filmmakers for. But we all know “more punk” does not directly translate to “better.” So somehow, even though the main character isn’t a punk, the movie itself is leaps and bounds more punk.
Continue reading SLC Punk 2 is more punk than SLC Punk 1
Director: Byrd McDonald
Vintage Tomorrows, currently streaming on Netflix, is a feature-length documentary about the steampunk movement. It is based on the book of the same name. It is a very personal film for me. I was a steampunk event organizer, DJ, blogger, and maker from 2007 until about 2013. I was such a fanatic that the large bureaucracy I worked for wrote a memorandum about hats in the workplace just to get the bowlers off my head. I know many of the people interviewed in this film personally. Full disclosure, one of the interviewees is Margaret Killjoy of this website. The film has clearly been in post-production a long time: none of these interviews or events took place any later than 2012, so this film is unintentionally a retrospective of steampunk at its peak.
Continue reading Vintage Tomorrows (2015)
Director: Paul Feig
Screenplay: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig
We don’t really do hot takes here at AGR, apparently. Now that you’re all done talking about Ghostbusters and probably never want to hear about it again, here are some thoughts.
MRA pissbabies should be even madder about Ghostbusters than they are. Though that would probably kill them. Which, I mean, ok, if they have to go, literally burning up in a column of incandescent rage over a movie that has girls in it is probably how they’d want to go.
Continue reading MRA Pissbabies Should Be Even Madder About Ghostbusters Than They Are
Directors: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Screenplay: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Is it weird to call Captain America an anarchist? Yes, yes it is. Of course, there’s a ton of different versions of the character throughout the canon, from the hyperpatriotic and jingoistic to the I-hereby-renounce-my-US-citizenship-because-I-am-so-disgusted-with-this-government. “Captain America” is not so much an embodiment of America as he is an embodiment of whatever version of America the creators who are working on him at whatever moment think would be the ideal. So even though yeah, we’re talking about a guy called Captain America who wears a red white and blue costume, we’re not talking about AMERICA.
Continue reading Captain America is a Big Screen Anarchist Superhero, How Fucking Weird is That?
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Screenplay by: Danny Strong and Peter Craig
Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I’ve only read the first Hunger Games book. That either makes me the perfect reviewer for the movies, or maybe a woefully incompetent one. It does mean, however, that I’m taking the movies one at a time, because I don’t know what happens.
I know it makes me a bad anarchist to say this, but the worst thing about the third part of the Hunger Games is that there aren’t any hunger games. It’s just a movie about revolution instead. Considering that the hunger games are an awful thing and revolutions are something us anarchists are known for encouraging, this is a strange statement. But frankly, the battle royale under the omniscient gaze of an evil dictator made for good fiction.
Revolution can too, it turns out. I liked the movie, but it was decidedly less fun, and in so many ways less spectacular, than the first two. It was just, well, a completely different thing. Which is better than just making the same movie three times, I suppose, from a storytelling point of view. So I’ll forgive it.
Continue reading The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
Land and Freedom
Director: Ken Loach
Writer: Jim Allen
Fucking Stalinists are the worst.
Land and Freedom is an emotional tale of the Spanish Civil War, one that’s based loosely on George Orwell’s experiences as recounted in his book Homage to Catalonia. It follows a young unemployed communist from England who heads off to volunteer his life for the Spanish revolution, fighting at the Aragon front alongside the men and women of the POUM, a Marxist militia. There, despite poor training and poorer equipment, they liberate a village from fascists and hold the line.
The most important scene in the movie, twelve minutes long, is the argument in the liberated village whether to collectivize all of the land around the village immediately or to only collectivize the land of the Franco supporters at first. Everyone speaks passionately, everyone’s opinions are given weight and consideration by the filmmaker.
Continue reading Land and Freedom (1995)
Directed and written by: Richard Linklater
Kevin Smith says that Slacker was the inspiration for his film Clerks. It shows. And more than that, it shows what happens time and time again in art and media: first, political radicals and engaged philosophers create new styles and genres; then, derivative work picks up the aesthetics and surface-level ephemera and leaves the core behind.
Continue reading Slacker (1991)