“Terminator: Genisys” will be a blistering satire of the modern blockbuster

The new trailer for Terminator: Genisys (the fourth sequel of the series) has dropped, and it promises several things. It promises that Arnold is back in the role that made him an institution. It promises fan-service in the form of familiar catchphrases, now in their fifth iterations. It promises big, loud action.

Most importantly, it promises to be a blistering satire of the modern blockbuster, a subversive meta-commentary on the endless cycles of sequels plaguing multiplexes.

An IMDB list of sequels, prequels, remakes, and spinoffs currently in development numbers over 330 entries. An infographic on Short of the Week breaks down how much non-original works have come to dominate the box office. The Terminator franchise is a perfect example of the culture industry’s relentless mining of the same vein to diminishing creative returns.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.37.19 PMJames Cameron’s 1984 tech-noir sci-fi thriller The Terminator was an independent film. A film that was, according to Cameron’s self-mythologizing, born from a fever-dream of a metal skeleton rising from a fire gave birth to a whole constellation of action figures, comics, video games, and ancillary products. It spawned one widely beloved sequel in 1992, at which point anyone who didn’t own the rights to the franchise considered the story told. There followed, to diminishing results and box office, two sequels and a TV show that were widely considered to be retreads of the first two films.

The trailer for Terminator: Genisys (alternately 5 from here on out, for brevity and sanity’s sake) reboots the series chronology. Future-soldier Kyle Reese goes back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but this time everything is different. This could be read as merely another cynical attempt to wring more money out of a franchise that’s running dry, albeit with a J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek-esque “continuity no longer matters!” twist. However, the idea of revisiting the first film from the perspective of a cynical blockbuster cash-grab makes ample space for Terminator 5’s blistering commentary on Hollywood. Continue reading

Shitty Editorial Cartoons, Part 2

© Larry Stevenson, Deez Nutz Press Syndicate

All eyes are on #Russia because of a #controversial decision made by Voldemort #Putin. The #Olympics? Nope! It’s #Snowden, thumbing his nose at sweet #LadyLiberty by bombing the slopes while #America tries to pull his knife out of her back. Too bad they don’t have feet of fresh powder in #Gitmo, Ed!

Siri_a

When #SteveJobs’ last words were “Oh wow,” he must’ve been talking about the crisis in #Syria! A murderous President one one side, #AlQuadeas everywhere, and still the international community remains silent. Good thing the iPhone 4’s amazing #Siri doesn’t stay silent when you ask her for the latest movie times and directions to the hottest restaurants in town!

It’s time for regime change in Canada

This was inspired by a satirical piece in the Washington Post titled “Canadian regime roiled by provincial scandal, sparks fears of instability.” The series talks about Canada as if it was “China or Afghanistan,” highlighting the different way that the media covers countries that fall outside the Washington consensus. If only the idea of invading Iraq or overthrowing governments in Latin America was as absurd as the idea of regime change in Canada.

The increasingly erratic behavior of regional chieftain Rob Ford has forced the international community to ask if Canada is descending into anarchy. Ford’s prolific drug use and propensity for violent threats is reminiscent of the warlords of Liberia’s Civil War, but he’s merely the latest example of Canada flouting international norms. The regime of Stephen Harper has overseen a decade of unprecedented Canadian military buildup. Harper has demonstrated increasingly authoritarian tendencies upon assuming power, repeatedly shutting down Parliament on a whim. A prominent Canadian commentator has warned the world of Harper’s “billy-club governance, ironclad controls, scorning of accountability, censorship, smearing of opponents, [and] power unto one.” As Harper and his cadre have dispensed with the façade of Canadian democracy, his government has strengthened ties with Beijing and declared its commitment to the exploitation of Africa. Canada has also militarized its presence in the Arctic, threatening free trade, energy resources and global stability. The international community must set a clear red line that Canada cannot violate with impunity. The world has stood idly by in the past when authoritarian leaders set their sights on territorial gains abroad–never again. Continue reading

Japan’s Haunted Pop-Culture Courts

I’ve noticed a strange pop culture trope unique to Japan (“just one?”) and it’s made me think. Why isn’t more ghost-delivered evidence admissable in court? I’ve realized that in Japan’s fictional courtrooms, testimony delivered by channeling is acceptable. At what point in Japanese pop-cultural history did ghost-testimony become a decisive part of their judicial system?  Continue reading

A Spooky State Department Halloween

The US has a law that requires that aid funds be cut off to any organization that recognizes a Palestinian state, which takes effect following UNESCO’s doing so this past week. This is heavy-handed and purely punitive, obviously, but did the State Department have to announce this via a spokesperson who literally looks like a Sith Lord? Couldn’t they have selected someone less cartoonishly malevolent to deprive Palestinian children of Sesame Street out of spite?