New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success

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In Minnesota, ‘new information is fueling critics who say the charter school experiment has failed to deliver.’

By Deirdre Fulton

Source: CommonDreams.org

Public schools are outperforming charter schools in Minnesota, in some cases “dramatically,” according to a new analysis by the state’s Star-Tribune newspaper.

In addition, many charter schools fail to adequately support minority students, close examination of the data revealed.

Journalist Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education looked at 128 of the state’s 157 charter schools and found “that the gulf between the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72 percent were proficient.”

Between 2011 and 2014, McGuire reported, 20 charter schools failed to meet the state’s expectations for academic growth each year, “signaling that some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable students had stagnated academically.”

Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education’s chief of staff, told the newspaper that she was troubled by the information, “which runs counter to ‘the public narrative’ that charter schools are generally superior to public schools.”

“Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement and a handful of schools have received national acclaim for their accomplishments, particularly when it comes to making strong academic gains with low-income students of color,” the Star-Tribune claims. “But the new information is fueling critics who say the charter school experiment has failed to deliver on teaching innovation.”

Education analyst Diane Ravitch notes: “Minnesota was the home of the charter movement, which began with high expectations as a progressive experiment but has turned into a favorite mechanism in many states to promote privatization of public education and to generate profits for charter corporations like Imagine, Charter Schools USA, and K12. Today, charter advocates claim that their privately managed charters will ‘save low-income students from failing public schools,’ but the Minnesota experience suggests that charters face the same challenges as public schools, which is magnified by high teacher turnover in charter schools.”

The findings back up a report (pdf) put out last fall by the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School, which examined the success and failures of the charter school system in Chicago, Illinois.

That study concluded:

Sadly the charters schools, which on average score lower that the Chicago public schools, have not improved the Chicago school system, but perhaps made it even weaker. Further charters, which are even more likely to be single race schools than the already hyper segregated Chicago school system, have not increased interracial contact, an often-stated goal of charter systems. Finally, the fact that Chicago charters use expulsion far more often that public schools deserves further study. In the end it is unlikely that the Chicago charter school experience provides a model for improving urban education in other big city school districts.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission plans to vote on no fewer than 39 charter school applications at a special meeting starting Wednesday afternoon. There will be opportunity for final statement by applicants and public commenting by just 39 speakers who registered in advance.

Earlier this month, a pro-charter, non-profit organization offered the cash-strapped city school district up to $35 million to help defray the costs of enrolling an additional 15,000 students in new charter schools.

Posted in consciousness, Corruption, culture, Economics, education, Privatization, Social Control, society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Domestic Fear Is the Price of Empire

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By Sheldon Richmond

Source: The Future of Freedom Foundation

If you find no other argument against American intervention abroad persuasive, how about this one? When the U.S. government invades and occupies other countries, or when it underwrites other governments’ invasions or oppression, the people in the victimized societies become angry enough to want and even to exact revenge — against Americans.

Is the American empire worth that price?

We should ask ourselves this question in the wake of the weekend news that al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist organization that rules parts of Somalia ISIS-style, appeared to encourage attacks at American (and Canadian) shopping malls.

Maybe the Shabaab video was just a prank to scare us. Maybe it was an attempt to plant violent thoughts in the minds of Somalis living in the United States. No one believes that the organization itself is capable of attacking Americans where they live, but that doesn’t mean Shabaab-inspired violence is impossible.

At any rate, it’s unsettling to be advised to watch out for terrorism when we shop at the mall.

Here’s the thing: We don’t have to live this way. The empire is just not worth it. We must understand that people in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia who subscribe to fringe militant interpretations of Islam would not be wishing us harm except for the violence the U.S. government has inflicted or helped to inflict on Muslim societies for many decades. In fact, those militant interpretations wouldn’t be nearly so attractive without the American empire and its ally Israel.

Why won’t the media describe this context? It’s because their job, despite what they say, is to be the government’s megaphone, not its adversary.

Let’s look at Somalia, where the latest threat originated.

U.S. intervention goes back to 1992, when President George H.W. Bush sent the military into a civil war there. Among the military’s activities was the suppression of the Somalis’ use of the intoxicant khat, which has been part of their culture for millennia.

That’s right. The U.S. government imposed a war on the Somali drug of choice.

President Bill Clinton withdrew the forces after two Blackhawk helicopters were shot down, but that was not the end of U.S. intervention. After the September 11 attacks, Somali warlords seeking American largess played on the George W. Bush administration’s concerns about al-Qaeda. The CIA obliged the warlords with suitcases of cash. As a result, everyday life became intolerably violent. So when the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) — a relatively moderate coalition of Sharia courts in the capital, Mogadishu —drove out the warlords and produced a measure of peace and stability, the Somali people were relieved.

That should have been deemed satisfactory, except that the warlords and their American backers were unhappy with the new situation, as Jeremy Scahill reported in 2011. “Most of the entities that made up the Islamic Courts Union did not have anything resembling a global jihadist agenda,” Scahill wrote. “Nor did they take their orders from Al Qaeda.”

Nevertheless, the U.S. government was determined to oust the ICU. To achieve that goal the Bush administration in 2006 backed a military invasion by Ethiopia, Somalia’s long-time Christian adversary, which overthrew the ICU.

“The Ethiopian invasion was marked by indiscriminate brutality against Somali civilians,” Scahill wrote.

Ethiopian and Somali government soldiers secured Mogadishu’s neighborhoods by force, raiding houses in search of ICU combatants, looting civilian property and beating or shooting anyone suspected of collaboration with antigovernment forces.… If Somalia was already a playground for Islamic militants, the Ethiopian invasion blew open the gates of Mogadishu for Al Qaeda. Within some US counterterrorism circles, the rise of the Shabab in Somalia was predictable and preventable.

To make things worse, the U.S. government has waged a drone war, with civilian casualties, and special operations against the Somalis. According to Scahill, the CIA also operates a secret prison and other facilities there.

So the U.S.-sponsored intervention sowed the ground for the most militant group in Somalia, al-Shabaab. Had the ICU been left to govern, we might never have heard of these young Islamists, whom the Obama administration now uses to scare American shoppers.

We can live without the fear of terrorism — but only if the U.S. government stops antagonizing foreign populations that have never threatened us.

Sheldon Richman is vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of FFF’s monthly journal, Future of Freedom. For 15 years he was editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York. He is the author of FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families; Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; and Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State. Calling for the abolition, not the reform, of public schooling. Separating School & State has become a landmark book in both libertarian and educational circles. In his column in the Financial Times, Michael Prowse wrote: “I recommend a subversive tract, Separating School & State by Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank… . I also think that Mr. Richman is right to fear that state education undermines personal responsibility…” Sheldon’s articles on economic policy, education, civil liberties, American history, foreign policy, and the Middle East have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Times, The American Conservative, Insight, Cato Policy Report, Journal of Economic Development, The Freeman, The World & I, Reason, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, Liberty magazine, and other publications. He is a contributor to the The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. A former newspaper reporter and senior editor at the Cato Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies, Sheldon is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia. He blogs at Free Association. Send him e-mail.

Posted in culture, Empire, Geopolitics, History, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, society, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Junkyard Empire

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Chicago’s Abu Ghraib

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By Andre Damon

Source: WSWS.org

In April 2004, the world was shocked and horrified by the release of photographs of sadistic torture carried out by US military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Detainees at the prison, most of them locked up for opposing the US military occupation, were beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and killed.

At the time, the World Socialist Web Site explained that the crimes revealed in the photos and the psychology underlying them could be understood only in relation to the brutality of social relations in the United States, together with the dirty colonial aims of the war itself.

The WSWS further warned that “such a military, accompanied by a growing army of professional ‘civilian’ mercenaries, represents a danger not only to oppressed peoples in the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere, but to the democratic rights of the population in the US.”

A decade later, this assessment has been fully borne out. On Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper revealed the existence of what it describes as a “black site” on the West Side of Chicago, where police detain, beat and torture prisoners, while keeping their whereabouts secret from their families and attorneys.

The newspaper writes: “The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.”

Among those detained at the facility was Brian Jacob Church, one of the “NATO 3” who were entrapped by Chicago police in 2012 in connection with protests against the US-led military alliance, which was meeting in Chicago.

Church was taken to the secret facility and handcuffed to a bench for 17 hours. Along with two other protestors, he was set up by police on terrorism charges and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison.

Vic Suter, another participant in the protests, said that she was taken to the facility and interrogated while shackled to a bench for eighteen hours before she was allowed to see a lawyer.

The Guardian writes that detainees taken to the facility report having been beaten and otherwise tortured by police. In 2013, one detainee was found unconscious in an interview room at the facility. He later died.

On Thursday, the Intercept corroborated the Guardian’s account, interviewing another torture victim at the facility who was handcuffed across a bench and hit in the face and groin until he agreed to provide false testimony to police.

The revelations follow the report last week by the Guardian that Richard Zuley, one of the lead torturers at the Guantanamo detention center, used similar techniques to secure false confessions from murder suspects when he was a detective with the Chicago Police Department.

Chicago has a long history of police violence. It is also the political home of Barack Obama and has been run since 2011 by Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff.

The Obama administration, far from repudiating the horrific and criminal actions of its predecessor, has deployed the apparatus of police violence ever more directly against the American people. A series of events has marked the increasingly open application within the borders of the United States of the murderous methods of the “war on terror” tested out and perfected in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

· In September 2010, the Obama administration ordered raids on the homes of leaders of the Anti-War Committee and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization in Minneapolis and Chicago on charges of “providing material support to terrorism.”

· In May 2012, Chicago police arrested the “NATO 3,” charging them with conspiracy to commit terrorism.

· In March 2013, US Attorney General Eric Holder declared that the president had the right to kill American citizens without a trial or any legal due process, including within the borders of the United States.

· Just one month later, in April 2013, the city of Boston was placed under de facto martial law following the Boston Marathon bombings, with residents told to “shelter in place” while armored vehicles and helicopters patrolled the streets and police carried out warrantless house-to-house searches.

· In June 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report entitled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.” The ACLU reported that the Defense Department had transferred $4.3 billion in military hardware, including armored vehicles, helicopters, and belt-fed machine guns, to local police departments.

· In August 2014, the authorities responded to protests against the police murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown with a military/police crackdown. Hundreds of peaceful protesters were arrested, shot with rubber bullets or exposed to tear gas, and over a dozen members of the press were detained.

The Obama administration is presently seeking a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, nominally to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but with no geographical boundaries defined. On Wednesday, three Brooklyn residents were arrested in connection with this new war on ISIS, clearly raising the potential for this second “war on terror” to become an occasion for police-military operations within the US “homeland.”

These developments express the growing convergence of militarism abroad with the attack on democratic rights within the US. What ties these two processes together are the class interests of the financial aristocracy and the criminal methods it employs in the defense of its wealth and power.

In pursuit of these aims, the ruling class seeks to mobilize the most backward and reactionary sections of the population, including sadistic prison guards and fascist-minded police detectives. But the ultimate responsibility for these crimes rests with forces at the highest levels of the state.

It is worth recalling that late last year the Senate released a report implicating the Bush administration in a brutal torture regime carried out at Guantanamo and CIA “black site” torture centers throughout the world. Far from anyone being held accountable for these crimes, those who ordered and carried them out have defended their actions, while the Obama administration has sought to block any prosecution of those responsible.

The actions of the ruling class express the character of American capitalism, which is based on parasitism, fraud, criminality and an economic order in deep decline. The American ruling class has no response to the crisis of its system and the inevitable growth of social opposition other than violence and repression.

Related Article:

Total Mainstream Media Blackout of Chicago Secret ‘Black Site’ at Homan Square (By Nick Bernabe, Antimedia.org)

Posted in Activism, black ops, civil liberties, Conspiracy, culture, Empire, History, Law, police state, Social Control, society, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Incites Bloodshed in Venezuela

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By Nil Nikandrov

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

The US special services together with their “assistants” from Canada and Great Britain tried again to stage a coup in Venezuela. In the middle of February, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the national security services frustrated the plans of US embassy and put an end to its hostile actions. As a result, a number of people were arrested, including Venezuelan air force officers and activists of radical opposition. The subversive activities were guided by Western diplomatic missions. The names of those behind the plot are known but they cannot be brought to justice being protected by diplomatic immunity. The President said the plotters wanted to assassinate him. The United States embassy guaranteed that the perpetrators would be granted asylum in America.

The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (El Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – SEBIN) had been warned about the conspiracy preparations. A Super Tucano aircraft (a light, highly agile Brazilian aircraft designed principally for pilot training and counterinsurgency operations) used before for special operations by Academi (former Blackwater), an American private military company, was handed over to plotters in the United States. The plane had the insignia of Venezuelan air force. It was armed and prepared to make a flight from Columbia to the island of Curacao where a US forward operating location is stationed. The CIA-recruited pilots, who betrayed the Bolivarian regime and their home country, learned well which targets they had to strike: the presidential palace, the buildings of ministries of Defense and General Staff and TV company TeleSUR. Security agencies found caches of arms, the equipment to provide guidance to the target and a video footage showing air force officers and opposition leaders involved in the plot addressing people. The video footage was given in Miami to journalist Patricia Poleo, a fierce opponent of the current Venezuelan government. She was to make it go on air but the plan was thwarted. The video material got into the hands of SEBIN operatives.

The video showed the plotters with balaclavas on their heads announcing the beginning of insurgency in the armed forces and the establishment of interim government. It was prepared to be made public by El Nacional newspaper at the time of coup. Three key figures of the Venezuelan opposition – Leopoldo López, the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, the leader of Voluntad Popular (People’s Will) and former member of parliament Maria Corina Machado signed and distributed a joint communique on February 11, just one day before the planned coup plot that President Nicolas Maduro denounced was to take place. All these people were known to be close to the United States. Entitled “The Call for a National Transition Agreement,” the statement calls for unification of Venezuelans behind a national plan aimed at supplanting the current socialist administration of President Nicolas Maduro. It says the country was going through hardships unparalleled in its history. It is the fault of regime that has been trying for sixteen years to impose a failed system. In the text the current government is described as a “failed” “corrupt” and “inefficient” regime, made up of an “elite of no more 100 people” who have pilfered public funds “which could have been used for the benefit of all”. It also states that Venezuela is on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis” whilst the Maduro government is “delegitimised” and in its “terminal phase”. It says nothing about the hard struggle against the United States trying to overthrow the regime fallen out of its favor. In the effort to achieve the goal, the US uses all any methods without hesitation, including economic sabotage, subversive activities against oil and energy sectors, never ending information war, organizing street protests in big cities and the use of local criminals and Columbian paramilitaries to destabilize the situation in the country. The list also includes artificially created shortages of food and basic consumer goods. The operations against Salvador Allende in Chile come to mind. The US uses the same dirty methods in Venezuela. Waiting in line has become a common occurrence in Venezuelan cities since 2013. Different prices in Columbian and Venezuelan shops are one of the reasons. Almost everything is smuggled to Columbia – from super cheap gas to corn meal and sugar. To some extent the military called by President Maduro to fight the cross border smuggling helped to control the situation.

According to the plotters’ plans, Maria Corina Machado was to head the new government. She has been patronized by former US President George Bush Jr. The Machado’s three minute meeting in the White House with the President of the United States in March 2005 attracted unusually high attention of pro-US media. Maria was painted as the most promising politician able to defeat President Hugo Chavez and become a Venezuelan President absolutely loyal to the United States. The revelations about the Machado’s ties with US intelligence services spoiled the plans. She was the founder, former vice president, and former president of the Venezuelan volunteer civil organization Sumate that used US-provided funds. When it was revealed that Machado got large sums of money from special services, she had to keep away from spotlight. Today the United States needs her again. She is ready to go to any length in an effort to overthrow Nicolas Maduro. Washington wants her to lead the country.

The planning has been done. A group of pro-US Latin American presidents is carrying out the mission. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera and former Colombia President Andres Pastrana came to the country under the pretext of expressing their support for Leopoldo López. The real purpose was to see the real situation in the country. Nicolas Maduro never stood in their way. He only said that these people came to support ultra-right wing radicals who do not recognize the government and call for a bloody coup. Maduro warned that the visitors would have their hands soaked in blood if they hobnob with this kind of people.

Of those who signed the statement Machado is the only one who is still at large. A year ago Leopoldo López was put behind bars for inciting street protests resulting in dozens of victims. Antonio Ledezma was detained a few days ago charged with involvement in coup attempt. The conditions of detainment are not so tough; he can continue the struggle against the Bolivarian regime. Recently he sent a letter to media outlets calling for continuing protests and peaceful struggle against Nicolas Maduro to make the current President resign. In the letter he stuck rigidly to the constitution. It says “We must keep up the struggle in the street, in a civil manner with the constitution in our hands and with the truth in front of us” Ledezma wrote. “They [the government] have the weapons but we have the ideas to unite the Venezuelan people. Violence is a pointless vacuum that leads nowhere.” He wants no mercy and calls for solidarity to protect democratic values in Venezuela. He stands out among Venezuelan politicians for his aggressive style and vindictiveness. It is suggested that if the plotters won, he would have headed the Interior Ministry to cleanse the national politics from Bolivarians, Chavistas and other elements hostile to the United States.

After the leading plotters were arrested and their ties with special services and embassies of the United States, Canada and Great Britain were revealed, Nicolas Maduro could say with certainty that another coup attempt orchestrated by Washington was effectively foiled. The tension in the relationship with the United States remains. In December 2014, President Obama endorsed sanctions against top officials of Venezuela accused by Washington of human rights violations. Maduro warned Americans that arbitrary sanctions and other attempts to exert pressure would deteriorate the bilateral relationship even further. He said the United States tried to stage coups in Venezuela a number of times. The US interference into the internal affairs of other countries has become a constant factor to negatively affect the situation in the world.

Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State, as usually rejected all the accusations of US involvement into the conspiracy to organize a coup in Venezuela. “Well, I think we’ve seen continued accusations, no question, that are false and baseless. And our view continues to be that political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal. We do not support a political transition in Venezuela by non-constitutional means. We’re not promoting unrest in Venezuela, nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government. And this is a continued effort – ongoing, because I do feel like we talk about these incidents once a week at least – about – of the Venezuelan Government to try to distract attention from the country’s economic and political problems and focus and try to distract and make these false accusations.”

Meanwhile, the investigation continues. Nicolas Maduro says Antonio Ledezma tried to abuse his position to organize a violent coup and destabilize the country. New arrests are to follow. The government of Venezuela is adamant in its desire to prevent the events unfolding according to a scenario worked out by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

Related Articles:

Obama Failed his Coup in Venezuela (By Thierry Meyssan, Voltairenet.org)

US Aggression Against Venezuela (By Eva Golinger, Counterpunch.org)

Venezuela in the Crosshairs (By Coromoto Jaraba, IntrepidReport.com)

Posted in black ops, CIA, Conspiracy, Corruption, divide and conquer, Empire, Geopolitics, History, Psy-ops, Social Control, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celluloid and Simulation

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By Cary Hill

Source: Moviepilot

The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. — Marshall McLuhan

A friend recently remarked to me that it felt increasingly more like his childhood was being repackaged and sold back to him. We were discussing the recent rash of movies, toys, and TV shows based on things from our childhood: GI Joe, Transformers, etc. New Hollywood franchises (including merchandise) are being launched from shows we watched 30 years ago, targeting our generation and our children. Nostalgia is now big business.

So I wondered: If the majority of Hollywood’s efforts are being put to resurrecting original content from decades ago in an attempt to exploit nostalgia, what happens when all new films and toys are based on prior existing material? We’ve seen Hollywood not even balk at rebooting an existing franchise (Spiderman, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Hulk), but with the lack of original content (OC) it could reach a theoretical point — or singularity — where there is no original content to recycle.

A reboot or remake is, at the bottom level, a copy. It may have different characters or actors, but the story remains the same. Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man was essentially the same story as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (yes, the villain was different but it was still his origin story). And Raimi’s film was based on Stan Lee’s comic. So Webb’s film is a copy of a copy. The upcoming sequel to Webb’s film creates an extension of the copy’s copy. Even if you claim Webb’s film adapts Lee’s comic directly, it still becomes a copy of Raimi’s film which adapted the same source.

Teenage Mutant Turtles is perhaps a better example. Originally a 1980s comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, it was adapted into a cartoon series (and toys) and then a feature film. It spawned two sequels then an animated remake in 2007, and finally a live (with heavy CGI) remake last year. This order of simulacra, is chronologically correct in my generation’s minds because we lived through it. Our memory can align which came first and trace the comic book origin back to 1984. But for our children’s generation, there is merely a group of copies to choose from with no memory attached.

So if our nostalgia is packaged and sold as a reimagining, reboot, reset, or remake, there has to be something from our childhood to appeal to us. There is that OC that remember being so new, so awesome, and so…unique. If there is a lack of original content and new franchises, studios are further pushed to recycle existing properties. Recycling begets recycling as all resources are consumed to merely recreate a film or property that already exists. And as there are less and less original films, the risks becomes even greater to take a chance on something novel.

This is, of course, theoretical. I’m sure readers are quick to point out “new” franchises like The Hunger Games that are doing well at the box office. After all, these Young Adult books have become a hot-ticket item, perfect fodder for Hollywood’s most cherished demographic: the teenager. These books (and films) aren’t that revolutionary in plot or story, and seem to share a lot of common themes among them. Regardless, they can play out as something “different” for the purposes of this article. However, given their box office take, one wouldn’t be too shocked to see them remade anyway.

In our theoretical, Simulacra and Simulation-esque (The Matrix, anyone?), Baudrillard vision of Hollywood, at some point the entire palate of films would consist of pre-existing material. The 80s and 90s childhoods repackaged and consumed by the same people (now adults) and their children of the 2000s and 2010s. So in the 2020s and 2030s, can nostalgia be repackaged if there’s no OC from the 2000s/2010s to resurrect? Or do you repackage the repackage?

Baudrillard’s 3rd stage of Simulacra:

The third stage masks the absence of a profound reality, where the simulacrum pretends to be a faithful copy, but it is a copy with no original. Signs and images claim to represent something real, but no representation is taking place and arbitrary images are merely suggested as things which they have no relationship to.

What makes this even more head-spinning is the fact that film is, by definition, simulacrum. Cinema is a representation of something else (a story, or screenplay), played out by actors pretending to be characters. In a decade or two or repackaging, you would have a copy of a copy of a copy of a simulacra. The result, according to Baudrillard’s book, is a decay of meaning through each additional simulacrum.

And maybe that’s just it. Baudrillard’s decay of meaning makes the reboot less effective — people don’t bother to see a fourth or fifth reboot of Teenage Mutant Turtles. At some point it just couldn’t be that different, right? So if the reboot carries no value, it makes it unmarketable by Hollywood to sell. Perhaps at this point all reboots are done away with and there is only original content. A child born in 2030 could have three or four versions of the same franchise to watch, and with so much selection why go to the theater to see that fifth version?

Then again, the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” the birth and death of Jesus Christ, remains a popular adaptation to make over and over since Griffith’s Intolerance (1916) . If Spider-Man and other superheroes are a post-modern, cinematic parallel to Christ, then perhaps their stories too will always be remade over and over.

 

Posted in Art, culture, media, Philosophy, society | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saturday Matinee: Electric Dragon 80000 V

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“Electrict Dragon 80,000 V” (2001) Is a hyperkinetic experimental film directed by Sogo Ishii, whose noise-punk band Mach 1.67 provided the soundtrack. Tadanobu Asano stars as Dragon Morrison, a reptile whisperer with the ability to channel electricity who confronts Thunderbolt Buddha, a TV repairman/vigilante with similar electric powers. Deciding there’s only room in the city for one electric powered superhero, they have an epic showdown on the rooftops of Tokyo. As Augustine Joyce, the YouTuber who uploaded the film accurately noted: “One of the most rocknroll movies of all times. Surreal, Bizarre and Unique… Seems this is a Cult Film.”

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Jodorowsky’s new film ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin)

jodorowsky_endless_poetry_poster

By Satori Films

Source: Kickstarter

Alejandro Jodorowsky, father of the midnight movie, wants to exchange your money into Poetic Money to make his latest film.

About this project

I was trying not to prepare anything. I didn’t want to prepare what I was going to say to you. Why? Because I am searching for my inner truth, I want to know what will I say. In two more days I will be 86 years old… it’s a lot. Why, at 86 years of age, am I fighting to make a picture? Why? Nothing is that important for me. Is it so important for a person who can die one day to the other, to make a picture? Because when you are 86 years old, every morning you awake and you say “I am still alive”. You are happy to be alive but you are maybe at the end of something. Why make a picture? What is a picture? Some pictures are only fun and show. It’s necessary, because in the world we are all nervous about everything that’s happening, no? They even say we are destroying the planet. So we need to go, to see a picture, to forget ourselves. Perhaps this is necessary, but for me a picture is not that. For me a picture is for remembering your self, not for forgetting yourself. But what does it mean to remember your self? What can we remember? For me, movies are really an art. And what is art? It is the search for your inner beauty. That is art. I don’t want to make a picture in order to make money. But if money comes, I open the pocket in order to make more pictures. But that’s not the finality. It’s not the finality to being admired by others. It’s not the finality to lie and invent things you’ve never lived.

In order to say something you need to know the thing you’re speaking of. It needs to be an experience, what you show on the screen. What will I show in this picture? What are human beings, art, museums and movie theatres showing to us? Are we those anti-heroes? Those people who have no dignity? We are slaves? We are liars? Thieves? What are we now? I don’t want to show that kind of person. I don’t know how to make pictures of everyone fighting one another, to have money, to steal money Why ?! I don’t want to speak about “love” either; about this “love” that isn’t real, that’s a fairytale. Love is something great, incredible, “sublime”… I don’t know how you say “sublime” in English… The most beautiful thing. Marpa was a saint in Tibet and he said “ Life, everything, is an illusion”. One day his son died, his young son died and he was crying and crying and crying and the disciples asked Marpa “Why are you crying? Your son is an illusion.” “Yes, my son is an illusion. But he is the most beautiful illusion.” Movies are an illusion but need to be the most beautiful illusion. I know what it’s like to scream because one of your sons died. It’s terrible. It’s terrible And in that moment you ask yourself, “ Why am I doing art, movies? Why?!” and then you say I am making movies and art in order to heal my soul. I need to open! Open ! open ! myself, in order to fin myself. To remember what the human being is. The beautifulness of the human being. The beautifulness of you. I need to show how beautiful the human being is. Now.

In Chile, in the forties, I was 24 years old… it was a fantastic moment. The war was all over the planet, and in Chile : no war. Because we are far and separate of the world: no television, mountains, ocean, peace! It was so peaceful. It was beautiful. And then a miracle happened : Poetry came to the country. Great poets started to write marvelous, marvelous poems; two of them have the Nobel Prize, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral – our father and our mother.

And then, everything was poetry. We were living our adolescence in this situation: poetry everywhere. And we started to search for the “poetical act”. For how it was to live with beautifulness. How it was to live in the mind: free! In heart : in union with world. In the sex: in full creativity.

How to make poetical action in order to discover the beautifulness of Life. There it was. In that time, the poetry was there. The human being was there. We had love, we had artists, we discovered all kinds of art.

And that suddenly disappeared. When I was 24 I left this paradise, and went to Europe where the world is illusion or disillusion, you don’t know.

But now I want to show what a spiritual paradise is: a young person, searching for the beautifulness of poetry. That is all that I want. I want to express… how to say it in English?… How I am obliged to this past… because I knew how it was to live in poetry. I knew that. And I want to show the world that it’s possible. It’s possible to remember your self. It’s possible to open your mind. It’s possible to open your heart. It’s possible to open your creativity. To live with less, but to live well. Well. That is what I want. Poetry without end. Endless Poetry. That is what I will do.

 

ENDLESS POETRY(Poesía Sin Fin) Official site: http://www.poesiasinfin.com/

After a 23 yearlong absence, the director of cult classics El Topo (1969) and Holy Mountain (1973) made his comeback in film direction in 2013 with The Dance of Reality. The film was based on the first part of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s homonymous autobiographical book, depicting his childhood years in Tocopilla, Chile. His new film ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin) will be based on the latter half of the same book, depicting the author’s youth in lively Santiago de Chile.

Our world is suffering from a devastating absence of poetry. Naïvely we sometimes hope to reconnect with it through film. But the greed-riddled industry, having colonized this magnificent art form, has done everything to strip it of its poetic power. With this film, Jodorowsky directs his energy more than ever into creating a film that can serve as a vehicle for awaking consciousness. It is our duty to enable all efforts to fight the powers that insist on lowering cinema to just a product in a commercial market. This film will bring forth an example of film’s poetic power.

ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin) flashes back to those decisive years in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s youth; years that defined the principle that would reign over his entire life: Poetry. The director’s life has been a constant effort to expand his imagination and push back against his own limits in order to apprehend and harness the potential for liberation that lies within each and every one of us. His career has been an open invitation to follow him in his efforts.

ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin) will be carried out as an offering both to film and to the general audience, who are infinitely more profound, intelligent and sensitive than the Hollywood industry would like to admit.

ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin) explores the magic reality underlying our surrounding world. The film seeks to inspire and encourage us all to dare to find our true selves. It is an invitation to Life.

Synopsis

Leaving his childhood and his native Tocopilla behind, the adolescent Alejandro Jodorowsky follows his parents to Santiago de Chile. Between his lack of self-confidence and the family pressure he is under, Alejandro struggles to express his desires and find his own path. But the flourishing capital, filled with artists and poets offers the perfect setting for him to grow out of his cage. Thinking he’d fit in well, Alejandro’s cousin Ricardo takes the young boy to the home of Veronica and Carmen Cereceda, where puppeteers, dancers, sculptors and painters all live and create together. There, defying all of his old limitations, Alejandro takes the first step on his path to becoming a poet in the Chilean artistic epicenter of the 1940s. Alongside rising poets like Enrique Linh, Nicanor Parra and in the arms of his first love, Stella Diaz, Alejandro’s poetic destiny takes form and a new world unravels … changing his life forever.

Production Schedule and Budget

The film will be shot in Santiago de Chile from July to August 2015 for eight weeks. Its post-production such as editing, music tracks, visual effects and so forth will take place in Paris and Tokyo with completion slated for the end of February 2016. The total buget will be about three million dollars.

Why Kickstarter?

Alejandro Jodorowsky says; « The necessity for expression is more important than the type of film you want to make. I make a film when I have something I need to express. I don’t think about investors, industries or commercialisation. I just need to express myself.

In order to realize Jodorowsky’s new film production, we need the support of micro producers across the world who understand his vision of cinema.

Jodorowsky’s Poetic Money

Jodorowsky thinks that all money should be transformed into poetry. And so that is what he will do with this Kickstarter project. No matter what level you pledge at, Jodorowsky will exchange your pledge into his brand new Poetic Money (DINERO POÉTICO) and send it back to you. This money can’t be spent on any material goods — only on the poetry of the universe.

The exchange rate is 1US$=1DP.

(In the case of $10,000 or more pledge, it is 0.5US$=1DP)

There are 3 bill denominations: 1DP, 10DP and 100DP. Each bill has an original money-related poem written by Jodorowsky printed on it in Spanish. There are two versions of each DP bill, each version of the bill presenting a different poem. There are 6 kinds of bills in total.

Jodorowsky wants to fill the world with poetry. So when you pledge, please mumble a poem in your heart. If you have a twitter account, please tweet a poem with #EndlessPoetryMyPoem. Your poem will be on the official site of ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin).

Jodorowsky’s Poems About Money and Wealth

 <1 Dinero Poético>

1 dinero poético – A
Money is like the Buddha; you can’t obtain it unless you work for it. If you keep it from flowing, it disappears.

1 dinero poético – B
To those who use it to make the flower of the world blossom, money gives its light. Those who glorify themselves, mistaking wealth for the soul, money destroys.

<10 Dinero Poético>

10 dinero poético – A
In pursuance of wealth I throw a spear through the Goddess and bathe in her blood.

10 dinero poético – B
Just as gold does not cease to shine when clouds cover the sun, the soul, beneath flesh and bone, continues to glow with its own light.

<100 Dinero Poético>

100 dinero poético – A
There is no difference between money and consciousness.
There is no difference between consciousness and death.
There is no difference between death and wealth.

100 dinero poético – B
Money is like blood: it gives life if it flows.
Money is like the Christ: it blesses you if you share it.
Money is like a woman: it offers itself to you if you cherish it.

Read more and/or back the project at Jodorowsky’s Kickstarter Page.

 

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