The last hours of the UK in the EU

In England there’s parties. Drunken xenophobes cheer how ‘they’re getting their country back’ and hopefully one day will die because of a disease caught from chlorinated chicken. In Scotland it’s like a wake.

It feels like an arm is being cut off. We’re being ripped out the EU against our will and our TV is full of triumphant British nationalists telling us how much they love Britain by telling us how much they hate Europe, and of course, immigrants.

I have no idea where it goes from now but it won’t be good. Once 11pm comes I fear all the last bits of rage and hate which some have been holding onto will be unleashed and people will suffer.

So goodbye to the EU and it’s people. I’ll miss what you did for me over most of my life.

 

How Ghostbusters promoted Thatcherism

Everyone likes Ghostbusters right? I don’t mind it, it has problems but it wasn’t til fairly recently that I was able to work out just what my issues were.

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On the surface, this is a fun comedy/horror/action film with a good script and a few nice performances especially from Bill Murray but its also a highly political film. This never dawned on me til watching the film on TV again recently where that nagging doubt over the film found an answer.

Some context. Back in the early 80’s the post-war social consensus was that the public sector was best to manage things, and that private industry was helpful but sometimes risky, dangerous and expensive. It wasn’t that simple in real life but overall in the UK, and even the US, this worked. Then came the era of Thatcher and Reagan who both stripped the public sector apart as much as both of them could get away with at the time.

Ghostbusters stripped down is about a private company that is dangerous and reckless. Their health and safety is non-existant and this is played for laughs as it contrasts with the plight of William Atherton’s beleaguered city servant trying to dial back the Ghostbusters. It’s funny but it is also sending a serious message that the private sector might be risky and dangerous, so it makes it so Atherton’s civil servant is the real baddie. Now a wee bit of research shows many people picked this up over the years, but the question is how much of a part did Ghostbusters play in almost subliminally pushing a neo-liberal worldview not just in 1984, but in the decades since?

The answer to that is of course ‘I don’t know’ but I’m almost certain it’d have played a part in some people’s shaping of opinion, and of course the best type of propaganda is the type you don’t notice. Ghostbusters then becomes an entirely political film as opposed to the scattershot sequel, the confused 2016 reboot and the forthcoming 2020 version just looks like an exercise in nostalgia.  The 1984 version helped sell a political ideology that changed the world, and that makes Ghostbusters an interesting, and from whatever political point of view you hold, a great work or something troubling.

Come to Rutherglen Comic Con and buy comics from me

The comic convention season for 2020 starts this Saturday in sunny Rutherglen, with their annual comic con.

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It’s a good show in a nice location with a good selection of guests like Gary Erskine, John Lees and Fraser Campbell, and in the past I’ve done well at it. This year I’m bringing some slightly different stuff, plus this is the last of the one-day shows where I’ll be bringing a full selection of back issues. Future one-day events will still have my back issues, but I’ll be offering a wider selection of packs, trades, and stuff I normally don’t bring to the smaller events.

So next time the full flash is displayed will be Edinburgh so this is your last chance before then to possibly pick up some dreamy back issues.

I’ll be near the entrance. Just look for Neptune Comics.

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So come say hello and buy some comics!

The Brexit 50p coin sums up Brexit

Sajid Javid has unveiled the second Brexit 50p to ‘celebrate’ the UK leaving the EU which will enter circulation this Friday when the UK leaves the EU effectively being the first nation in history to impose sanctions upon itself.

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All of this is bullshit, and all of this is designed to shove faces of Remainers in it because we now live in a time so polarised that ‘winners’ (and it remains to be seen what Brexiters have won barring racism and blue passports which are made in France) will have friendship with nations we’ve just told to fuck the fucking hell off?

And to make it worse, we’ve spent millions in melting down the ones which was supposed to celebrate leaving in October thus making it a perfect metaphor for Brexit itself.

Still, the funniest thing is that the 50p piece will be a constant reminder to those Brexiters trying to pretend in the coming years that they were never Brexiters, or this insane nonsense never happened.

A totally unexpected reappraisal of Justice League

Yesterday I activated my free month of Amazon Prime to take in Picard, the new Star Trek series. That was excellent and I especially loved the subtle Brexit reference, but that’s for another day. After that I had a look at what Amazon offered, and had Zack Snyder’s Justice League film recommended to me, but I’d found the film a mess not to mention a chore to get through when I’d seen it the only time a few years back. I thought I’d give it a few minutes to see if things had changed expecting to stop and have an early night.

And I liked it lots more than I did previously.

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Maybe some distance has passed, and although the issues still stand it really is more enjoyable than a number of other superhero films, plus it has an actual sense of a directorial vision which the Marvel films, on the whole, have lost.  Sure, the scenes shot by Joss Whedon stand out a mile, the villain is badly done, the script has gaping holes, and that CGI lip is an awful bit of work to appear in a big-budget Hollywood film.

However, the League themselves are actually interesting. Affleck’s Batman is an interesting portrayal of an older man who’d lost his way finding redemption. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is the standout star character of the DCEU and should be its bedrock as Iron Man was for Marvel. While Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman and Ezra Miller’s Flash have a genuine spark on screen. Hell, even Cyborg seemed less tokenistic this time round.  The big loser here is Henry Cavill and his Clark Kent/Kal El/Superman as once he’s allowed to play Superman not as a brooding Emo type, but actually as Superman, he’s a revelation.

It’s a flawed experiment and yes, I’d be interested in seeing what a full ‘Snyder cut’ would look like because again, there’s a bland generic quality creeping in to the point you couldn’t tell who directed one Marvel film to another. With this it is pretty clear it’s Snyder’s vision. You may not like it, but there’s a clear vision which makes the Whedon footage clash so badly, and also, there’s a bit of irony as the Marvel template is based on what Whedon did with the first two Avengers films.

It is unlikely DC/Warners will do a Justice League film again in some time, which  is a shame as it’d be good to see this group together again but in a film free of studio meddling.

But there you go, I never thought I’d write any of that but it shows opinions do change…

RIP Terry Jones

Back in the 1970’s I was but a wee boy, and like many folk back then, a Monty Python fan. When hearing that Michael Palin and Terry Jones had made their own series, Ripping Yarns, like many youthful fanboys I was aside myself and to this day I adore every single one of them but Golden Gordon is by far my favourite.

Palin and Jones were their own team within Python, and out of all the groupings that came out of Python these two were the best and the funniest because Palin was just a brilliant performer, while Jones timed the comedy in those episodes to perfection. They were very British, very English bits of humour that now, sadly, will be lost to people because the reference for these stories (pulp magazines and British boys comics) are not part of your average Millenial’s cultural wardrobe.

Jones was never the standout in Python for me when I was younger. It was John Cleese but as I got older and older I’d notice what Jones was doing as well as his sheer comic bravery in getting a laugh with this being one of my favourite Python sketches ever.

Something then dawned on me watching this for the 1000th time, in that if I imagine Python to have a voice, then it sounds like Terry Jones. Not Eric Idle, Cleese or anyone else. Even now if you’re riffing off Python then it’s his voice you’ll be using.

And then I started growing up, latching onto the alternatic comedy boom of the 80s which washed all before it, except for Terry Jones who stamped his approval upon things wonderfully.

And that was it. Jones was my favoutite Python which made his descent into dementia so horrible to see his mind go but his friends stood by him all the way. There’s a point if the DVD of the O2 shows from 2014 where Jones is clearly distressed and confused backstage, but all of them form a shield to protect and to encourage him. It’s a small, tiny moment but it shows you what he meant to his friends, and now, it’s a sad moment because we know this is him slipping away but still able to cling on thanks to his mates.

I’ll miss Jones. He was always fun, always entertaining and always it seems, right. Like everyone it seems I’ll miss knowing he’s not around to make the world that wee bit of a better place a lot.

Watch this Blade Runner convention reel from 1982

Blade Runner is one of my favourite films. Even if the UK poster is one of the worst posters you’ll ever see.

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In the early 80’s fandom was nothing like the organised beast it is today. Film companies knew enough back then though that keeping fans informed and happy would, hopefully, result in box office gold. Early efforts consisted of a few clips and some posters, maybe even an actor from the film would turn up and sell the film hard.

In 1982 I was a wee boy at one of Glasgow’s then annual science fiction conventions, Faircon, and one of the unsuspected highlights was a promotion by the film company for Blade Runner.  They gave away posters and badges, which are all now sadly lost throughout the years and yes, they’d be worth silly money now but the real highlight was a promo reel for the film which looked amazing.

I haven’t seen or even thought about it for nearly 40 years when looking at YouTube after the death of Syd Mead. It really is a great bit of archive not to mention it brings back al the nostalgia of being stupidly young and watching this all those decades ago.