Monday, February 6, 2012

Great Moments in On-Screen Sadism

I recently watched the almost-unbeatably miserable 1965 post-nuke exploration The War Game. In its way it's more sadistic than Salo; the dry and authoritative BBC documentary style avoids having to tell a story involving characters, so you can pile horror upon horror without having to worry whether or not someone enters a room and says hello. It's obvious that the writers sat around compiling (or choosing from the sources referenced at the end) just as many awful things as they possibly could to put into a short film, and good for them I guess, but eventually it seems like they really want their hideous and battered countrymen to suffer as much as possible.

The presence of a variety of stiff amateur Britons posing for man-in-the-irradiated-street interviews enlivens the proceedings, with this the topper on the plutonium birthday cake:
Narrator: These children are orphans of the attack. They were each asked what they now wanted to grow up to be.

Scabby-from-radiation Orphan #1: I don't want to be nuffink.

Scabby-from-radiation Orphan #2: Neither do I.

Scabby-from-radiation Orphan #3: I don't want to be nothing.

Scabby-from-radiation Orphan #4: Neither do I want to be nothing.
Comedy-rule-breaking orphans are in the still below.

The Google Video version below is a smidge shorter than the version bad people can find by doing bad things on the internet. I'm not sure what's gone, but the orphans around the 43:00 mark are a little glitchy so maybe it's just a transference problem.



On heavy rotation for some reason:

This city, your culture
Your modern-day suffering
Is over so what if I love it
I can't help it, that's all

After I started playing it endlessly I looked it up and discovered it was one guy from this band and another guy from this band THUS PROVING DEFINITIVELY that, uh, I like the things I like?


bbkf said...

wth?!?!?! AND wtf?!?!? imagine my surprise, chagrin and let's face it, thrill (!) when i clicked the orphan link only to be taken back to mr. beaumont's place where i am being mocked...MOCKED and used as a 'what not to do' example! actually, that part's not new...been happening since 1965...yeah, baby!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Breakin' the law, breakin' the law!

Substance McGravitas said...

Don't think I didn't see the subsequent dissing of pie.

bbkf said...

that was the brownies talking...i swear! i LOVE pie!

vacuumslayer said...

I haven't worked up the guts to see Salo and I'm wondering if I ever will. I went around looking at lists at of "most shocking" movies and it tends to be on every one, along with "Sweet Movie"(?) and...there's a new film I'm sure will join them on this list. I wonder if I'll ever get the nerve...probably not.

I had a couple of Broken Bells songs in my liberry, but they didn't last long. I don't know if I didn't give them enough of a chance or they just weren't my thing or what. I will definitely have to give DangerDoom a listen.

Substance McGravitas said...

I haven't worked up the guts to see Salo and I'm wondering if I ever will.

It really depends on how much heavy-handed allegory you're interested in. I recall laughing once or twice and I was grossed out/horrified a few times but mostly I was fairly bored.

Apparently Mark Kermode did a documentary about it, and I usually trust him. The sole IMDB review says the documentary is better than the film, which is entirely possible.

Substance McGravitas said...

Note also that still more bad people have put copies of that documentary on the darned internets.

wiley said...

Those films were informed by the work of Robert J. Lifton, the first psychologist to interview the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and study the psychological effects. 162 people survived BOTH, incredibly enough. He started to study as many survivors as he could in 1962.

"It's a Hard Rain (Gonna Fall)" is my favorite no-nuke song.

Substance McGravitas said...

I've read this by Lifton, a very discouraging account of what we're capable of.

wiley said...

Yeah. I've read "Superpower Syndrome", but have kind of avoided reading that one.

Am looking forward to "The Psychology of Omnicide" with mixed feelings. Am currently being interviewed on Fridays by a man doing research on a book about people in nuclear forces. He's an NGO and has published a couple of books on non-proliferation negotiations with North Korea.

I asked him if I could give Major Kong and Fenwick his e-mail address and he said we'd talk about that this Friday.

So maybe. He definitely wants to get a big picture. I wager that most of the book will be chock full of the word "boring".

vacuumslayer said...

I will have to watch the documentary. That way I can see Salo without really *seeing* it, you know?

Substance McGravitas said...

Yes. A good tactic.

Substance McGravitas said...

The omnicide book sounds like I might appreciate it more than the superpower one; I'm pretty skeptical of psychiatric evaluation of anything at all, let alone very complicated shenanigans like relations between political powers. I mean, I buy that there were a bunch of people who were apocalyptic thinkers in the Bush administration, but I thought the War on Terror was a much more cynical thing...that did get power from that sort of myth, but there are the rubes and there are the carnies.

wiley said...

I get what you're saying about psychoanalyzing large social phenomenon. From my experience, the Bush administration that was packed with Team B and the issue of threatening preventive nuclear strikes on a country that did not have nuclear weapons exceeded my worst nightmare as far as apocalyptic scenarios go.

I just bought a book (used but looks suspiciously unread) called "Post-traumatic Culture: Injury and Interpretation in the Nineties". I rarely read anything but non-fiction anymore, and I really like stuff like this.

Smut Clyde said...

We watched Watkins' "Privilege" a few nights ago. It managed to be a time-capsule of late-1960s styles AND a timeless, frighteningly-prescient description of the spectacle-driven society / economy.

Watkins did not buy into the mythology of the time, i.e. that the UK was experiencing a great efflorescence of freedom & spontaneity.

There's one laugh-out-loud moment as the narrator explains that the UK's coalition government came about when the Conservative and Labour parties realised that there was no discernible difference between their policies.

Substance McGravitas said...

I just bought a book

Let me once again recommend David Graeber's Debt. Still not done, but it's as close to a Theory of Everything People Do as anything else I've read, so it's fun for that reason, but also so ambitious that the bullshit detectors are blinking.

Crooked Timber's gonna have a variety of posts on it in a week or two, where I expect a lot of haggling over chains of argument and facts, and okay-smartypants-what-NOW?

El Manquécito said...

I guess I better read it before that happens.

mikey said...

Lacking the depth, education and gravitas of you smart folks, I'll just add the observation that the people in the Bush administration were steeped in decades of unquestioned belief in the vast, impossible-to-challenge conventional military superiority of the US, as reflected in the patented 100 hours ground war against Saddam in '91.

It simply never occurred to them that post-conflict management and occupation might be any more difficult than combined arms warfare, and to be fair, the rest of the world was fairly well convinced of the same.

So ultimately, what Bush and Cheney managed to do in Iraq is demonstrate the limits of modern military power, and by extension the limits of any threat the US might make.

Substance McGravitas said...

Well said.

wiley said...

A less examined aspect of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is the neoliberal-economic-experiment aspect of it and the laws that were passed as soon as the CPA (is that the right acronym?) was established that would allow a lot of businessmen to buy the country, the factories, the resources, and the labor right out from under the Iraqis.

One law made it illegal for farmers to use anything but genetically modified seed. Anyone familiar with the history and tactics of that branch of Monsanto knows that the corporation spends a lot of money suing farmers for having genetically modified plants on their land that they DID NOT PLANT THERE; hence the rat bastard corporation ends up owning a lot of farmland by way of infecting fields with their products.

The "looting" of the museum in Baghdad was a professional hit, btw. All the things that were smashed were replicas of objects in other museums around the world. I would love to see an investigation of the vaults of every big player in the whole evil operation. I'd bet Bush has more than Saddam Hussein's handgun.

El Manquécito said...

were steeped in decades of unquestioned belief in the vast, impossible-to-challenge conventional military superiority of the US,

Well said indeed, mikey. The thing is we were all steeped in that and yet some of us knew how bad it was all going to be. Billmon and CT and all y'all were the only thing that kept me from snapping back then and I haven't seen anything since to dissuade me from what a colossal mistake it was. As Thers said recently; "stupid wars are stupid, full stop."

fish said...

So ultimately, what Bush and Cheney managed to do in Iraq is demonstrate the limits of modern military power, and by extension the limits of any threat the US might make.

A lesson that was plain to see in Korea or Vietnam or Afghanistan by anyone who had memories that lasted longer than a goldfish's.

Substance McGravitas said...

Not necessarily in the wingnut mind though. Vietnam and Korea: robberies! Afghanistan: revenge and who gives a shit!

Iraq was the attempt at a real Roman triumph.

M. Bouffant said...

Comedy War Games relief.

I will have to watch the documentary. That way I can see Salo without really *seeing* it, you know?

Works w/ litcrit too. Why read the book, f'r gawd's sake?

mikey, these academic jag-offs ain't smart, just edjimicated. Don't mean shit.

WV: motionse = animated something