Avant-garde filmmaker John Smith premieres a new short, ‘Citadel’, on MUBI this week. Shots from the first lockdown of the glass spires and busy cranes of London’s financial district are paired with those of people encased in the urban glass-and-brick sprawl below, alongside excerpts of Boris Johnson’s speeches recorded before and after the pandemic crashed into reality. As it develops, the piece puts forward a clear message about the centrality of the Tories’ business ideology, as positioned before public health.
Described as one of the most famous experimental filmmakers in the world, Smith originally gained notoriety for his illusory, ironic piece ‘The Girl Chewing…
This week I have been mostly…eating bourbon biscuits.
Not really, that’s a line from The Fast Show.
This week I have been mostly researching 9/11 for an article, and I have to admit I’ve really enjoyed it. Anybody else now so desensitized to the news and graphic content that nothing shocks? It can’t just be me.
It feels like we’re in a post-post-9/11 world. I miss the post-9/11 world.
I’m looking forward to re-sensitizing myself to horror at some point but in the meantime, I have been scouring through the latest news and interesting content for you all. …
Good morning everyone. [Said in unison, like a primary school assembly.]
This week I wrote about the attacks on journalists during the Capitol insurrection and what it says (or rather, confirms) about modern America. In the week that followed, let’s just say that…a lot has happened.
Remember Bean Dad? That was, like, a handful of days ago. Feels a bit like everything is merging into one, no?… Well, anyway, Baked Bean Dad was impeached again.
The mob of Trump’s followers who stormed the US Capitol on Jan 6 has been labeled variously by journalists and politicians — insurrectionists, fascists, terrorists. Videos have shown them strolling leisurely through the building, and after a few hours of rioting the crowd was mostly dispersed; it may appear that calling them ‘terrorists’ is a step too far into sensationalism. After all, we’ve been hearing about the unreliability of ‘The Media’ in our ‘post-truth’ world for the last few years.
But emerging details of the event show how serious it was. Initial reports stated that four of the ‘protesters’ had died — one woman shot by the police, and three others from ‘medical emergencies’. It has been revealed today that a police officer also died; after reportedly being bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher. …
It’s been a low-key week for me — I was expecting we would go back into lockdown, just not so soon. I’ve dedicated my evenings to reading; this week I’m learning about postmodernism. Or, more accurately, trying to work out what the hell it is.
Chompsky published two articles this week: our first guest post (!) from excellent writer Chelsey Flood about the Bean Dad discourse and what it can teach us about empathy and neurodiversity.
Many times in my adult life — as a film student, a filmmaker, an activist, and as a nerd about all things media — I have asked the question: can documentaries change the world? The urgency of this question has increased, for me, with the ubiquity of on-demand entertainment and the 24-hour news cycle. Today film, TV, and streaming services give us on-demand access to all kinds of fictional and factual entertainment — not least the documentary format, which has been gloriously rebooted this century.
But does this increased exposure — whether chosen by or foisted upon us — to the news we’re accessing via Twitter or more traditional, theatrical documentary films, actually lead to concrete change regarding the issues they illuminate? …
After self-isolating for a couple of weeks so I could see in Christmas and the New Year with my folks, I’ve found myself in a decent headspace, and very much looking forward to the new year.
It’s been a rough one for us all in one way or another, and despite spending 10 months mostly alone, I managed to find successes and ways of remaining connected, happy, and very alive! I hope all of you have managed to do the same somewhere in 2020.
If you haven’t, why not bring in 2021 by reading Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism (email/DM me for a copy if you’re broke), and enjoy understanding the malaise, from a text written before malaise was popular. …
On Tuesday this week, #ScumMedia was trending on Twitter. It was particularly notable, I thought, that both left- and right-wingers were using the hashtag to discuss the ongoing Brexit and COVID coverage, citing the ‘partisan lies’ by, primarily, the BBC, SkyNews, and the UK's various tabloids.
While I’m an advocate of cultural critique and media reform (hence why I started a newsletter about it) I don’t buy that the entire news media is ‘scum’. Other than a handful of bargain-basement tabloids, journalists aren’t ‘always lying’. They are deeply pressured, and hobbled by hierarchies.
This reactionary ‘critique’ reflects my thinking around conspiracy theories; there’s enough of a real problem to prove anyone with an axe to grind (…ahem) right. But the loudest extremists tend to come full circle and promote the very warped discourse they purport to criticise. …
2020 has been an unbelievable year. So, for many, Walker Bragman’s claims about the COVID relief bill, aka the ‘stimulus package’, on Dec 21 came as little surprise:
He continued the thread with more spotlights on the bill’s defense spending: a few million here, a few billion there. $2bn for Space Force! Smh.
Other blue-check-marked tweeters posted similar things about “this bill”. The Gravel Institute noted:
Tens of thousands shared and liked these posts, outraged that so much of the stimulus package was being spent on things other than COVID relief.
What wasn’t immediately clear from the day’s discourse was that there were two different bills being discussed here. …
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It’s been a promising first week for me as a one-woman band starting a new media venture, though a mixed week overall for women in the media.
A controversial opinion piece — almost exactly six months after the NYT op-ed fallout — published in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday riled Twitter and liberal media outlets. English professor Joseph Epstein dedicated an entire article to deriding America’s ‘first lady in waiting’ Dr. …