I want to let you in on a little secret. So you know what to expect when you are watching a film or reading a novel and suddenly the protagonist comes across an organisation or club or grouping of individuals – usually all wearing matching uniforms – that wants to employ his or her assistance. You know, they tend to walk in step with one another, like to repeat a lyrical motto, and justify their philosophy and actions in the name of preserving, establishing, or re-establishing some sort of stated Order? Well, there is a good chance these folks are actually antagonists. This trope, presently bordering on being a cliché, is being employed with an alarming frequency amongst ‘creative’ writers. Traditionally, this trope was applied to some allegory for Nazis or Commies, and because these entities were fairly universally seen as bad, there was no need to labour the point. More recently, writers have been attempting to apply this trope as a trick, a bait-and-switch. Certain writers think they can pull a fast one, introducing this group as the ‘good guys’ only to pull the rug out from under you with a mid-second-act reveal that they are, in fact, fascists and they have been using our protagonist to unwillingly see out some seriously evil stuff. I see this, over and over, and think what is going on? This is not a twist, is it not obvious? Sure, they tone it down a bit, cutting out comical salutes, blue-eyes with blonde-hairdos combos, and the wearing of arm cuffs, but Hitler in sheep’s skin is still Hitler, right? The unoriginality alone boggles my mind. I mean, it is a bit ridiculous. There has been a wholly unoriginal obsession with using this trope (I assume because it is an easy way to make your film meta) with some form of ‘time police’, fanatically bent on maintaining ‘the timeline’. This is used in three ongoing series I can think of, right off the top of my head, Rick and Morty, The Umbrella Academy, and Loki, and I am sure there are plenty more. The one remotely clever thing they will do to make this trope a twist is to make the protagonist morally dubious. But we have known for decades that the days of perfect superheroes are long gone. How could these writers break a key principle: do not insult the intelligence of your audience?
C. Scott Jordan
Let’s start with a distinction. It is not essential but it would clarify a common mistake. The distinction is between parody and satire.
Each morning in KL begins with the songs of the cranes. Not the organic ones, but those mechanistic beasts which perch upon the numerous towers which make up the city’s skyline that has the sort of elegance and style of Boris Johnson’s hair.
It is difficult to imagine the now alternate universe where our lives proceeded uninterrupted by Covid-19.
Don McLean’s American Pie was the 1971 song that everyone knows, but few know all the lyrics to. Except for my dad, who knew every word.
A truly heart-breaking display of the tragedy of the commons plays out on the centralised table displays of your local book shops and across the entirety of airport bookstores.
Repetition in music has been criticised time and again dating back to the late nineteenth century.
Climate change. Truly this is the fundamental struggle of our age, whether or not we are willing to accept it. Yet here I sit, before my laptop. My brain is racked. I am defeated. What more can I say of global warming that the healthily grown tome of postnormal times writing hasn’t already touched upon. What cleaver path remains uncharted?
Like a film, Afrofuturism itself began in sound – music. To this day, it still remains a staple of many black musicians, even if not as overt as in the case of Sun Ra.
It is such a strange word. Even by English standards. Swastika. This odd combination of consonants and vowels makes for something almost as startling as the symbol itself.