The monstrous politics of horror

Since, as happens every two years at least, Halloween coincides with a crucial U.S. national election, a selection of scenes from a few politically themed horror/monster films feels right. We’ll start with the obvious.

In some ways I think a little overrated, John Carpenter’s science-fiction/action/creepy alien monster flick from 1988 ,”They Live,” seems to me a thorough-going and obvious from-the-left savaging of the Reagan years and the consumerist, bland cultural mentality that went with it. Yet, oddly enough, it’s imagery has been picked up online by some Reagan-worshipping teapartiers. Well, history probably isn’t their favorite subject.

More clips and  commentary after the flip

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Jimmy Carter, is that you?

Jimmy Carter
There’s no ignoring the Polanski poo-storm right now, but really all that’s happening is an increasingly heated stream of opinion on which on one side people focus on what went wrong with the legal case, and the fact that a defenseless Swiss film festival was used as a means to the end of capturing the filmmaker. This side, which is circulating a petition worldwide may well be guilty of giving short shrift to Mr. Polanski’s crime(s) which, however you describe it, was extremely serious, possibly heinous. And it’s true, there’s no “great artist” excuse for criminal behavior. His life and work are separate matters.

At the exact same time, as Christopher Campbell ably summarized yesterday, the overheated rhetoric is really flying on the “jail Polanski forever” side. He is an “admitted child rapist.” (Polanski confessed to unlawful sex with a minor. The victim’s testimony does allege forcible sex, but it has not been corroborated.) People who support his release are soft-on-child-rape elitists who believe that famous people are allowed — nay, should be encouraged — to run around providing young teens with drugs and forcing them to have sex. People are talking about multiple boycotts against all the famous petition signers. (They probably should have just skipped asking Woody Allen to sign the thing.) Nope, no hysteria here.

Anyhow, amidst all this insanity, comes a comment on an Indiewire post about the petition from a J. Carter, which precedes more of the ongoing emotionalism. It’s without a doubt the most clearheaded and fair comment I’ve seen on the matter by anyone, anywhere, and I’m damn tempted to run it all here, but it’s too long. To read all of it — and I hope you do — just see the second comment at Indiewire. However, I will give you the capper.

If people wish to see justice done in the name of the children, note that there is an important Declaration of the Rights Of Children at the UN… The US has refused to sign this declaration, and if some of the people on this board , who are understandably upset, would take a moment to urge their appropriate representative to support this Declaration, then some good could be done from this.

Amen. As it turns out, the only other country who has not signed on is Somalia. You can read more about the declaration at Wikipedia. And, J. Carter, whoever you are, I think you’d make a fine ex-president.

  

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