People are finding this blog for the search term ”what is fucking?”

I’ve had some odd search terms that people have used to find my blog here over the two years I’ve been doing this. Some are fine, some are a bit sick (seriously) some are funny but one keeps coming up over and over again and that’s this term…

whatisfucking

That’s right, people are putting ‘what is fucking’ into Google and finding my blog. Now what they’re probably finding are blogs about politics, or comics, or just general rants but a detailed blog outlining exactly what fucking is won’t be found here. So who is doing this at least half a dozen times a month? Is it kids? Is it people trying to find the town of Fucking in Austria?

So this blog is a plea really to ask just what you people are trying to find? Are you children then in that case ask your folks? Are you Christian fundamentalist virgins wondering why your trousers get tight while looking at the weathergirl on the telly? Are you just gone in the head? What?  I’d like an answer as I’m clearly being treated as an expert thanks to the power of Google, though that could be the fault of my habit of fucking swearing a fuckload in a lot of my fucking posts? I dunno.

This post then is a lightening rod for all you strange, strange people. Please tell me the reasons without making my skin crawl if that’s possible….

Simon Pegg’s comments about SF and comic fans are actually right

Simon Pegg had an interview in the Radio Times that the American site IO9 picked up that led to this quite extraordinary piece by one of IO9‘s bloggers Katherine Trendacosta in it’s knee jerk defensiveness that proves Pegg has a point about how some ‘geeks’ (a term I despise) have a lack of self-awareness about how actually childish some genre material actually is.

For example, this:

Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie And Clyde and The French Connection – gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed … I don’t know if that is a good thing.

… Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema but part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilised by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.

It is a kind of dumbing down, in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever.

Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.

Is entirely correct. For Trendacosta and the majority on IO9 it isn’t as she says:

It’s internally inconsistent to say that adults are taking “childish” things seriously, and say that this is making us dumber.

Something instantly contradicted by the next point:

  • It’s clearly not impossible to have a film with the Hulk fighting a robot and come out not thinking about real-world issues, or emotional journeys. If nothing else, the strong polarized reaction to Black Widow in Age of Ultron proves that.

The Hulk hitting Iron Man in the latest Avengers film isn’t going to make anyone think of real world issues unless their perception of that world has been so infanitlised and dumbed down to the point where a fight scene speaks about the world. The reaction to Black Widow is interesting but it’s not because of any deliberate or unintended message the film wanted to make, but instead is a reaction of the endless echo chamber politics that is genre fandom and Twitter.

That isn’t to say a piece of genre fiction can’t hide or discuss serious issues. It can and the likes of  Star Trek or Quatermass did this often on television, while something like Planet of the Apes is a fantastic allegory not to mention a fine work of satire, but the Hulk fighting Iron Man is really only the Hulk fighting Iron Man. Nothing especially wrong with that but it’s not exactly Dennis Potter or Jimmy McGovern using the medium to tell us something about us. It’s fun and that’s good, fun is good but we can’t live on that alone or we do end up seeing the world through different eyes ending up in a situation where people seriously think the world can be seen as well through genre fiction as more obviously serious material.

The next point is bizarre:

The whole history of film before Star Wars did not consist of “gritty, amoral art movies.” Let’s put aside that it’s completely bizarre to call The Godfather an “art movie”

No it isn’t. It’s considered one of the finest films not just of it’s decade, but ever. It is essentially an art film played as a blockbuster, and remember the idea of a blockbuster in the 1970’s before Star Wars is entirely different to that of today. Even today The Godfather stands as a superb work of art that does speak of evil and power, and how that power corrupts but suggesting it’s ‘bizarre’ to call it an ‘art movie’ shows a bit of ignorance of film history but a narrow point of view.

This is compounded with the next point:

  • Is Simon Pegg taking the side that Star Wars was the turning point for the dumbing down of movies? That simultaneously gives George Lucas too much and too little credit.

To an extent he is, and he’s sort of right as most critics and historians will point at Star Wars for creating the turning point, but the real culprit lies with Spielberg’s Jaws. That film redefined the idea of a ‘blockbuster’ from something like The French Connection, or All the President’s Men (films steeped in reality) to Jaws and Star Wars (films steeped in fantasy). so the focus moved from the real to the fantastic and again, there’s nothing wrong with that in doses small enough that you’re not swamped in robots smashing the fuck out of cities in every other film at your local multiplex.

Moving to the last point worth dealing with is entering a world of brain damage:

  • He’s also acting like comics and science fiction haven’t always dealt with very serious issues. X-Men is pretty famously in that category. And so was, oh, what was the name of that TV series? The one Pegg’s writing the next movie script for? Oh, right, Star Trek.

First of all, yes, the X-Men has dealt with serious issues. On rare occasions the comic has done it well, the God Loves, Man Kills graphic novel for example,

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On the whole the X-Men, and most superhero comics, are glorified soap operas with fight scenes. You’re not going to find out the realities of life in Middlesbrough or Cleveland or anywhere by seeing Wolverine fighting ninjas, or Cyclops moping around for the 400th time.

It’s the defensiveness of the entire IO9 piece that’s extraordinary as not for one sentence does it even remotely think that perhaps Pegg just has a point, partly because I assume the writer and staff are too closely connected to the material they clearly love so they see Pegg’s comments as an ‘attack’ on them themselves rather than a general discussion of genre culture and of course, Pegg’s career.

And here’s the thing, Pegg has taken crap in his career before. I remember Pegg as he started out in comedy as one of many accused of following in Steve Coogan’s shadow, but it wasn’t Spaced that showed Pegg’s real talent (as good as that series is) it was his work in the superb Big Train that sealed the deal for me in regards Pegg’s clear comedic talent.

Not to mention his often forgotten about part in the Paedogeddon episode of Brass Eye.

Pegg’s career before being known as a ‘geek’ icon is steeped in the world of comedy, and his work with Chris Morris shows he’s not scared of getting involved with something that was comedy, but dealing with serious issues as the media’s handling of paedophilia was. Obviously that’s not as serious as Iron Man fighting the Hulk, but there you go…

This article prompted Pegg to reply in a thoughtful way. It’s clear he does love things like Star Trek but like most people, he realises that isn’t, nor should it be the only thing they take in, and here’s the point in all of this. The fact is that for Pegg having to explain himself fuller shows that ultimately he’s right. People are dumbed down and they are hiding behind The Avengers or Harry Potter or anything popular that doesn’t set out to do anything but primarily entertain, but the moment when your primary view into the world is defined by Iron Man then perhaps you have made yourself infantile. Perhaps you have succumbed to the commercialisation of genre fiction which is ‘geek’ culture, an example of how consumerism eats everything and spits it back at you.

Now I’ve spent large chunks of my life working in comics be it retail or publishing. I still enjoy reading the works of Jack Kirby as much as the works of Charles Burns, but as a quick shufty through my blogs will show I don’t talk endlessly about comics unlike some fans now that do only speak about the comic, telly or films they endlessly consume, and in doing so, have allowed these things to completely define them which has sucked the sheer fun from it because it’s become them.

Conventions now look less than the often shambolic events of old as seen in this rather glorious old BBC programme about the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton.

Now conventions are less about fans making it for themselves in an almost punk/DIY ethic to one where their entire identity is defined by the things they buy and the endless state of nostalgia this form of consumerism brings. The point is that Pegg is right. People have been dumbed down because they’ve lost perspective and don’t have the mixture of backgrounds that Pegg had as he was starting his career. People now choose a tribe, and defend it to the bitter death even if that means that often smart people end up proving the point they’re fighting against.

So don’t just see the world through the latest Avengers film or an X-Men comic, but have something else to your diet apart from endless sugar. Have some serious substance and challenge your own worldview because otherwise you’ll be one of these fans that comments from people like Pegg as a personal insult when they’re not. The moment you see comments like that as insulting to you and the stuff you like then it’s time to step back, go outside and understand the world through your own eyes, not that of Iron Man or Black Widow.

Ireland has voted Yes to gay marriage

It’s not quite official yet but it looks as if the people of Ireland have made a giant leap for equality and voted for gay marriage to be legal. Asked the question  “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” the answer for most people seems to have been ‘yes’.

That’s a remarkable thing considering how much in the lock of the Catholic Church Ireland was which makes this image the most appropriate for this day.

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Well done Ireland, you’ve given all the right people a kick up the arse and you’ve made things better for people. You can’t ask for any better than that.

What I thought of Oh Killstrike #1

OhKillstrike

Remember the 1990’s? Remember how American superhero comics were to the MAX? Or so EXTREME they hurt to look at with all those ridiculously bulging muscles, biceps, bosoms, and of course everyone had a HUGE GUN, or a MASSIVE CHOPPER because all these heroes were EDGY to the MAX!!

Basically Image Comics at the start published endless crap superhero comics by the likes of Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane that sold by the container load, but as as memorable as the last glass of water you drank. Marvel and DC decided to get a piece of the action and their characters bulged and groaned under the weight of their biceps and unfeasibly large breasts, not to mention the massive guns because a real hero shoots people’s guts out as he or she is saving them.

Oh Killstrike is a four-issue series by Max Bennis and Logan Faerber giving a tongue in cheek look at those horrible days of 1990’s American superheroes, and opens with a reminder of the real horror (or if you were working as a dealer at the time and were smart, the real joy) of the 1990’s boom, the ability to make lots of money from a comic that is entirely worthless culturally.

OhKillstrike1

There’s truth to be told in these panels. Comics like X Force #1 were printed in massive numbers and are in many cases lying around in warehouses, sheds, and back offices in numbers. I know of one dealer in the UK that burnt a box to try to reduce demand, and for years and years it inhabited the 50p boxes of many a dealer. Now it’s actually becoming something people are interested in. There’s a lot of other examples, but it’s now at the point where some of the utter shite Image, Marvel and DC pumped out is nearly becoming collectible again.

This though is a satire of those and these times as the rampant consumerism that drove the speculator boom of the 90’s hasn’t gone away but has rebranded itself as ‘geek culture'; something multinational companies use to sell people that were kids that like shite superhero comics stuff that’s fun, but essentially the cultural equivalent of shoving sugar into your brain via your eyes all the time but the jist here is a sort of reverse Zelig, as Killstrike becomes real in our world.

OhKillstrike3

Oh Killstrike isn’t perfect but it’s a lovely little comic full of nice dialogue, not to mention digs at the comics of a couple of decades ago that for all their crapness, made some serious impressions upon people. In reality the 1990’s were a great time for comics, but a dismal time for superheroes which sadly means far too many people think the era was overwhelmingly rubbish, but it really wasn’t. This though isn’t about setting right history but to have a laugh and it does just that.

OhKillstrike4

As an idea it seems limited for even four issues, but the mission Killstrike finds himself on in order to get back to his dimension is to find our protagonist Jared’s father, a British comics writer that became famous in the 1980’s so the pair head off to Manhattan to find out his current location…

So yes, I’m on board for this just to see if it’s Grant Morrison…..

What I thought of Archie versus Predator #2

Thoughts about #1.

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Archie versus Predator is a strange comic.It could and really should be a parody and for an issue playing it straight was fun, but for a second issue seeing gore and violence in an Archie comic seems, well, a tad cynical.

archievpredator3

In fact this is played virtually like a Predator film/comic and any disposable set of characters could easily substitute, but there’s something transgressive about see beloved characters being ripped apart, but because it’s co-published by Archie and not say, the fevered mind of an underground comics artist the entire thing feels strange as the tone changes are a bit too jarring and abrupt.

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There’s also panels with so much exposition that it’s like reading a Chris Claremont X-Men comic from the 80’s on steroids, and you really do wonder why there’s so much dialogue in a comic. It’s as if Alex De Campi has forgotten this is a comic, not a screenplay.

For all it’s faults Archie versus Predator is enjoyable tat even if the entire thing feels like an idea people had when they were all off their faces on some astonishing drugs.

Let’s hunt and kill Katie Hopkins!

Imagine the scene. It’s live television. Davina McCall or Dermot OLeary is presenting a programme where famous media mouthpiece Katie Hopkins is being hunted through the streets of London by a variety of people. Hopkins is being chased by a pack of hungry dogs and manages to escape being torn limb-from-limb but as she staggers into the finale at some huge site, say the O2 Arena, she’s hounded by the crowd but just as she staggers up to thank McCall and say something offensive for the hell of it, a loud shot rings out and she’s killed by a Syrian refugee holding a gun plastered with the logos of soft drink companies as after all, this would be commercial television.

As the last of her live bleeds away all she can hear is the presenter saying ‘come back next week where we’ll be hunting and killing Rupert Murdoch‘ and the blackened, shriveled husk that is her soul cries out as it all goes black for her.

Now this is obviously horrendous and I suggest anyone thinking that hunting and killing Katie Hopkins is a good idea should realise that this is just me shamelessly taking an old Bill Hicks sketch and using it for my own purposes…

This is all exaggerated as after all if you’re a human being that constantly goes on about machine gunning refugees, picking fights with people like Jack Munroe because she clearly gets off on it, or generally acting like the country’s biggest arsehole then this isn’t anything. This is water of a ducks back to even suggest hunting Hopkins through the streets of London and forcing her to hide in alleys and drinking her own piss in order to live is just a giggle. It’s free speech someone like Hopkins would proclaim!

And yes it is, but the thing is that suggesting someone should be hunted and killed in all seriousness is barbaric. Suggesting in all seriousness that refugees should be shot and that anyone that falls in the glare of those cold, dead blue eyes deserves the venom spat out past her thin, lifeless lips isn’t just barbaric, but psychotic, and it’s not as if she spouts opinions that are alien to some. Far from it, she’s a Tory and she’s someone that sees life as an adversarial game where ‘winning’ is all that matters, even if that means dehumanising others, and in doing so, dehumanising herself.

I’m not saying she’s up for redemption. I don’t think she is but as we get ready to gird ourselves against the Tories it’s worth remembering that people like Hopkins are not unique. They shouldn’t be ignored and they need to be combated head on but people like Hopkins should remember this. At some point her kids are going to be old enough to Google their mother, and find out for themselves what she’s been saying so they’ll decide for themselves whether their mother is a good, decent moral person or a borderline psychopath suffering from some sort of narcissistic personality disorder. If they decide the latter then Hopkins has brought it all upon herself.

In the meantime let’s get ready to fight her ilk. It’s going to be bloody tough but if you want to wipe the rictus-like smile off that palid face without her being hunted by packs of hungry dogs the only way of doing it is to take these people on head first and never, ever let them ‘win’.

Perhaps it is time for the Labour Party to die?

Jim Murphy is leaving his disastrous leadership of ‘Scottish’ Labour but not before throwing a stink bomb into the mix by taking on Len McCluskey directly, and in return, Unite in Scotland are going to vote in July to see about cutting support for Labour in Scotland.

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Added to this, the STUC have decided to support the SNP government in Scotland in standing against Tory austerity and their government generally. In England and Wales, the party is in the middle of a bizarre conversation about replacing it’s former leader Ed Milliband as candidates talk of ‘aspirational voters’,  John Lewis shoppers and endless reams of entitled self-indulgent soul searching that spreads the shite everywhere apart from at the feet of Labour itself or the fact the party has supported austerity for the last five years and has voted with coalition policy or abstained over the last five years.

The clear favourite for leader, Andy Burnham, is coming out of support for an EU referendum and is using language that just about stops short of sounding full-fat Tory, especially on the subject of immigration. All the other candidates are actually worse, and none have any idea as to why the Labour Party failed so, so badly in the election.

Andy Burnham could do himself a favour and read this splendid article by John Harris in the Guardian from last week, and actually understand it. Labour lost not because of the SNP, or UKIP, or anyone standing on a grassy knoll but they failed primarily because Labour don’t know what they’re actually for anymore apart from gaining power and keeping it. They’ve become a party of power for the sake of power itself, and in seeking this power they’ve driven many people away into the arms of more left wing parties like the SNP, Plaid Cymru or the Greens, false hopes like the Lib Dems, or the chancers of UKIP. In Scotland it’s even worse as Labour supporters and voters voted Tory in order to ‘keep the SNP out’ and in doing so added to David Cameron’s share of the vote and denied Labour an increase in short money.

As a serious anti-Tory campaign starts to form Labour are nowhere to be seen as they fight among themselves, or indulge in wheezes like attacking the SNP for not voting in the forthcoming free vote in regards the fox hunting ban in England and Wales. They know fine well the SNP don’t vote on England only issues, and that there already is a ban on fox hunting in Scotland that was introduced in 2002 introduced during a Labour government in Holyrood, and supported by the SNP. Rather than unite with the anti Tory movement and help protect the Human Rights Act, or even try to find Tory MP’s that could vote to retain the ban, they’ve continued this tactic of attacking the SNP, but this is going to blow up in their face as it not only provokes the West Lothian question (not that it’s a concern for Labour as they only have one MP left in Scotland) but it will invoke the question about why then did Labour spend so much time supporting the previous government or abstaining?

So as Labour is being eaten alive from within what’s it actually for? It doesn’t support the unemployed. It doesn’t especially seem to care about the poor. It doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of government is to serve, not to use power to curb people’s freedoms. Yes, Labour will tell you they formed the NHS, the Welfare State and brought in massive reforms in the 1960’s but that’s the past. Telling us what better men and women than the people in the core Labour Party now did isn’t painting a vision of the future under any sort of Labour government. I understand the Tory vision of the future, it’s horrible but I get it. I understand UKIP’s, the SNP’s , Plaid’s and the Greens (the Lib Dems have an even worse problem than Labour but fuck them) but I have no idea what Labour are actually for now?

Perhaps then it’s time to kill it? Give it a quick painless death now rather than hope that maybe one day Labour will be that party it was when we were either young or not born. Sure, it might change but then again I might be Batman, so the hope for the left in England especially is to take things into their own hands. Scotland has a healthy left in the SNP, Greens and SSP. Wales have Plaid Cymru and the Greens. All England have as a realistic left wing option now is the Greens.This isn’t to say Labour need to become fire breathing socialists, but a centre left socially democratic party would be nice, but as said, that’s not even remotely going to happen.

And that’s why Labour needs to die. Stop the endless hope it’ll reform. It won’t. It’s too corrupt, too bloated and too complacent to take the fight to the Tories, and from right now that fight needs to be taken to the Tories every single day. The majority of people that didn’t vote Tory, that don’t want £12 billion worth of cuts or the Human Rights Act removed and anything the Tories want as they intend to dive into neo-fascism need a voice and that isn’t going to come from Labour.