META-NOMAD

The Big Short – Bureaucratic Horror

“I mean for instance, one of the hallmarks of mania is the rapid rise in complexity and the rates of fraud…” – Michael Burry

What’s the initial setup for your most basic horror film? An ordinary world, the world as a given, everything fine, normal and we as a viewer still have our nerves. Everything is as it should be. There may of course be a hero, a protagonist with which we will side, usually we shall take the side of those who we feel are more morally just. Then something goes wrong, a disturbing force, something mystical, strange, violent and absurd shall overthrow the narrative, we are given a clear warning of this, some eerie tone or a sense of unease and foreboding is given. The problem is usually solved, or fixed, the villain or sense of unease is killed/ended and those who’ve survived go on with their lives.

In this case The Big Short begins entirely in the ordinary world, we are told of Lewis Ranieri the father of mortgage-backed securities in the 70’s, we don’t know who he is, but he changed our lives, which already pushes a sense of unease, someone changed all our lives and we never knew, this is nothing unique of course, except it comes apparent later on as to why it’s a malicious global economic change. The ordinary world is short lived, we are given images from the 2008 housing crisis, people being evicted from their homes, poverty, strife, anger, worry and fear all crammed into roughly 2 minutes of news real footage. There isn’t necessarily a singular hero in this case, prior to beginning the film the audience understands that it’s about the 08’s housing crisis, so, who does one support? Who are we backing here? Who’s out hero? Potentially you could argue our ‘hero’ of sorts is the likes of Michael Burry who foresees the crisis, however, much like the rest of the films ensemble he merely uses his knowledge to profit from the crisis. Not that he, or any of the other protagonists could have done anything about it of course, to step in the way of big business is to commit career suicide, so you take what you can and leave, I guess. Perhaps the future economy is our hero? What we want to survive in an underlying sense of security in those who hold our money and safety, though the film’s general premise doesn’t bode well for this idea i.e. This has happened twice now, within a 70 year time frame. So, what kind of horror is this? A bureacratical one, constantly fluctuating with a sense of kafkaesque frustration.

Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think only they can do what they do.”

Of course, this is nothing new. Look at any system in which there’s something at stake which those who know don’t want spoiled, or to have the wealth spread out amongst even more people: Bitcoin, stock markets, morgages, taxes, forex, etc. these systems are made implicitly to push people away. So already the viewer is given a new world in which the narrative is to make transparent was has for so long seemed like complete gibberish, techo-jargon explained to the layman, so we can see it for what it is, simple exploitation. We are given a world in which we’re the fish, yet the problem being, the time has passed, 2008 has passed, so we are just relieving the intricacies and underlying structure of a collective nightmare.

“You have no idea the crap people are pulling and the average person just walks around like they’re in a goddamn Enya video. They’re all getting screwed…Credit cards, pay day lenders, car financing, fees, fees, and more fees. And what do they care about? The ball game or which actress went into rehab?” – Mark Baum

 

As witty and humourous as Baum’s statement is, it’s true, it’s always been true and will forever be true, as long as we stay within the capitalist realist state we are currently within. The interesting feeling the film emanates here is that of nausea, an uncanny situation in which the horror is unfolding from both sides inwards, there’s no hero to save us, any possibility of salvation has been buried in time under stacks and stacks of paper work, maybe not, that could just be conjecture. However, the viewer now understands they are in there’s no out as this has happened, so they are just to sit and watch the horror unfold, slowly watch as the scaffolding is poked and prodded until collapse.

 

Who bets against housing?”

 

That’s the problem, complete in 4 words. Who, as in, it will never fail because everyone knows it wont. Bets, it’s a dumb gamble. Against, it’s secure. Housing, it’s housing, it’s always fine, I mean it’s housing for christ’s sake: we live in them. Everyone does it so no one questions it, The Big Short tells the story of when the mad man on the street is finally vindicated, those shouting “The End (of the economy) is Nigh!” of course no one listens, and no one will care afterwards becuase they’re too busy trying to find a new home or work out what the hell happened. Most horror movies at this point either have a clear villain win or loss: the villain either kills the victims or vice versa, that doesn’t happen here, everyone is left to deal with the remains, as if a big economic villain came in ravaged 99% of the parties involved and left without any damage to itself because it never existed in the first place. The viewer, left empty, just continues on, I don’t know how to finish this because the movie itself can only leave you with a distinct sense of dread that the walls that surround you aren’t financially secure, nothing is, it could all crumble…well, we already knew this though didn’t we.

Capitalism & the Undead P3: Invest in Death

LAND OF THE DEAD (2005)

Zombies-become-factual, a part of everything, worming their way into history. Media, life and the undead merge into a slurring chimera. Walls are utilized for a single purpose, as their half snapped bones grind against the concrete, shins slide upwards into architectural-hate.

“There’s not time for funeral arrangements…
…cites are under siege.”

A new form of consumerist-reason is born, those that buy are correct, consuming is right, material is justice, awoken from a glitter-free slumber into a mass. The false-designs of tinkering idols blueprint the direction of a gut-hungry collect. One can’t make sense of a world they themselves own, the alive meander to-and-fro, wandering for their purpose.

Meaning becomes even more fleeting in the face of the undead, whose meaning is so clear, to feed, to eat and consume, only. A world created only to be deconstructed into miniature versions of itself, a little plastic-earth, blended into a fine powder and cast into nothingness.

Fireworks flying high, their bright lights gather the hoards into an indecipherable static. The noise, the dynamism, the tunes, the colours all help when it comes to moving a crowd, rolling around the circuits, causing…pleasant non-thought.

The collective enraged, others to left and right in pain, a leader emerges with a lack of what to say. Grunting and groaning, and as such they understand, they know pain, they know groans and moans, so the they continues their pursuit towards becoming a hedonistic-material-singularity. Remnants of feudalism fall from their rags, a circular modernity protecting originality, relics of wood, tin and steel barricade the future of the past.

The catastrophe of the centre, whispers and shy-smells of Americana ring-around-a-nostril, adverts as anaesthesia. To re-watch a tinny-pop and conclude those outside are better off. The undead chained, used as props, toys and entertainment, merciless skin-beatings of those who cannot feel. Flesh-computers all programmed to the same channel. Flecks of skin fall and burn.

The alive cast into slums of their own creation. The dead inherit everything. Invest in death, it’s on the rise.

“They’re just looking for a place to go.”

The guards say as they let the undead walk away, away from their line of fire, away from their attention, and away from their critique. The final moment of a race, uttered by a mercenary. To forget the terrors, to allow assimilation of the barbaric. Sing a tune of admitting defeat, for give me your commercials and pass on by.

28 WEEKS LATER (2007)

A sequel, a real acceptance towards the love of their own-kind. Seated in a cinema are 200 watching a mirror. The joke covered in flesh. Comedic-organs begin to spew cackle-blood.

Anyone alive is a rat. The living become sub-living and dwell in dark wet homes. Board them up and let in no light, we must remain silent and create nothing from now on, eating the remains of us. And as originality is pushed closer to sin the whimpers of mankind only get quieter.

We force-feed forgotten slop into out top-holes, this is what we have to do now. The present is no longer our own, taxed-past, saturated-future, death-markets, the trading floor is filled with screams, meat-tubes wailing, skin-sacks decrepit, ash-filled memoirs; evolution erasing its mistake with organic-malware.

They will vomit into your sockets. Thick clingy blood-sputum swinging into your being. A powered wretch flinging spew at and through humanity, infection-loud. Membranes and nerves caress the virus; a new organ, a viral-contained, a sociopathic-flesh-bowl. It. Hates. You.
Rural is broken, peace is no-more, alone-forgotten. They will not stop. Over horizons and through stages, searching for more and little and only to feed. Get this through you skull, they need, need, need, need, need, need, need, until death.

“…a supermarket, and even a pub.”

Your new home allows their churches. Your first mistake was in believing you’re better than them. You cannot see but the virus has become more than blood, a transcendent-infection. Beyond purpose into its own linear creation of new modes and types. New ways in which to be the same.

2 & 3 now identical to 1.

Your walls filled with crosses, and your crosses surrounded by walls, yet neither help. The infection shall traverse. In the beginning there was only the means to get to this state, to erase the past and exist in stagnation, forever.

“Target everyone at ground level.”

To be above is the truth, is to win, is to conquer and succeed. To look down upon the dead with a scorn from hate itself, death from above, Charlie-anew, two clicks east is death stage 1. Flame-death. Charred corpses continue their stroll.


WORLD WAR Z (2013)

Hence forth it shall be a crime to forget one’s animality. Becoming animal in front of morality. Ethics burns and you win. The news plays over and over and over, nothing new, still the same, they’ve been here for years, existing in stasis, shielded by a nothing-known.

Law overthrown by desire once again, A rush towards the true needs, and the medication begins, prescription, toxicant, relaxant, ants all around, scurrying directions. This Friday seems black, the darkest weekender, a perpetual-hangover: pure survivalism reigns, bacteria-wolves float.

The new breed are crack-animals. They will kill themselves for the opportunity to consume. Hurl oneself off a building for the bite of a doughnut. Rapidly and continuously punch concrete for the chance of a snack. Snap your bones and use them in dip, plunge your eyes from their sockets and roast at 140C, invert your jaw and digest your own teeth, swallow your tongue, drink sick, suck shit through a straw; lunge head first through a never-ending stream of nonsensical hedonistic trinkets, each taking an irreplaceable part of you as it goes by, you do this not because you want to, but because you want to. Or death.
A disintegration of matter. A reversion to tribe. Become-undead. The consumer is the one who makes the noise now. I AM HERE, FEED ME. The demands of the consumer must be met in fear of suffocation from state. They ask for nothing more than a decaying simulacrum. New skins applied to replications of fun. Happiness packaged. Emotional programming for 5.95 a month.

“There is nowhere to evacuate to.”
“You can’t make a dead person sick.”

And so they simply exist. If you’re sick they do not want you, you wont be nutritional, you’re worthless and dying, dying therefore worthless. They will trample their own for 1 bite. Give up everything for a taster. Principle deconstruction = food.

A flesh-shell of humanity, gaunt in posture, presiding over a land that once had direction, claiming it their own. Aimless noises fall from their mouths towards a nothingness of hope for their cause. Fields saturated with tight-spined cadavers. To be living is to be in flux, to be mobile, to be fortified and silent, at once to be attacking and defensive, silent and loud, alive and dead. A glimpse = inside. To be alive now means to become invisible and need-not-exist. Deflect blood-spew for hope of mouldy crumbs.

Note: I wanted to continue this series for a part 4, but, zombie films after the 90’s very quickly descend into consumer-repetitions, conveying the same boring message over and over. A boring zombie-action-flick feedback loop fed into the mindless.
FYI: originality of the undead will die with Romero.

Capitalism and the Undead P1: The Romero Era

INTRODUCTION:

Consumerism and the Undead may have perhaps been a more fitting title for the following series, however I feel that the symbolism often branches into more nuanced areas of political discourse, thus Capitalism feels…right. In this 3 part series I shall be looking at the progression of capitalism/consumerism as an underlying motif/theme is zombie films, beginning with the classic George A. Romero era of zombie horror films, through to modern day high-budget action horrors. The evolution, mutation and gradual change in and of the characteristics of zombies in general is not just intentional, but a natural reflection of the society in which the film resides. Thus when one watches a zombie film, one bears witness to the masses-of-the-times, the sprawling unthinking decay, the unavoidable mutations of thought under capitalism.

How these ‘parts’ end up is entirely up to them. They will not be a critical synopsis of the films, as this has been done to death and is simply not my job, neither will be they be in line with my REDUX posts in their obscurity an abstract-nature, I wish to use popular horror films as a basis for lucid-critical engagement with consumerist though and the consumerist ‘way of life’.

THE UNDEAD:

The undead, zombies, biters, walkers, infected, etc. The idea has many names, yet they all reflect one kind of entity, a brainless consumer. Who’s entire directive is purely to consume another’s flesh and brains, to consume another’s originality, or simply to consume. Usually zombies come about via the spread of a virus or infection, I may look into the ways in which the virus comes about, however I feel it’s the manifestation of the virus that is of importance here. A walking, slurring infected husk, a shadow of a human being, a failed clone of humanity, an evolutionary body aborted at the last minute, a humanoid being with everything human taken from it.

EARLY ZOMBIE FILMS:

Between 1932 and 1968 there were many zombie films, beginning with Victor Halperin’s White Zombie (1932), considered by many to be the first in which ‘zombies’ as we popularly know them now are used, however it’s not until Romero’s work in the late 60’s that zombies come into their own as a key symbolic element of popular entertainment, it’s not until the late 60’s that the zombies of films are watched by their real-world counterparts, the risen-dead (the undead) acting out cannibalistic desires towards society.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

Night of the Living Dead, the quintessential beginners guide to reanimated cannibalistic corpses. The beginning of an entire genre taking its first slow drawn out steps in a graveyard, a hollow quote that never leaves the mind of any true horror fan “They’re coming to get you Barbara.” And with that, they begin to come…and get us. It’s quite apt that the first film of its kind is based solely around one night, a snapshot of the cadaver apocalypse, this proto-film is a glimpse of what is to come and what is ‘outside’ the house in which Barbara and the cast reside for the film’s length. Within the house is the firm glimpse at a strange motif that carries through all zombie films, get above them, whether it’s upstairs, in a helicopter or atop a skyscraper, being literally above zombies is always necessary, to look down upon the consuming masses is of course a pleasurable feat, for us who know we are not on their level.

To lock oneself away with like-minded others in a worn-out house, rural, tucked away, they shall never find us here, they are the problem. We must get above them, the mindless hoards of hollow entities, to be underground is dangerous, to stay still is dangerous. As the group are torn from their artificial womb one-by-one, as the infection spreads to friends and friends of friends, you see your closest bow down to the nothingness of unthought, and so you lock yourself away in a cellar armed only with you. With only your brains, the thing they want is the thing keeping you you, for they shall remove the origin of you. And thus you become the they.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

I didn’t concentrate too much on Night of, as I feel Dawn of the Dead is the real father of the genre, with it’s baby acting as a prototype, a blueprint.

The infection, the consumer, you will not be scared of at first, they will appear an uncanny human to you, attempting to lure you into their unalloyed hedonistic appetite. And with a bite the relation to your right or left – neither matter in an instant – becomes only food, only the desire to consume everything for your own personal gain matters, to fit in with the crowd and consume with them, for brains are desired and create desire simultaneously, an all-absorbing feedback loop. Think not for yourself simply consume the thoughts of others and drool some more.

As Flyboy in his helicopter begins his journey with the group to the consumerist nirvana – the mall – he notices the “Rednecks are having a field day…” those who never bought into consuming before wont buy into it now, and flock to their own brand of identity and rebel against the mindless in-take easily. The southern-vibe as anti-capitalist is an easy lay. Different groups of unthought for different collective purposes.

Why the brain? Why-oh-why does a zombie only die after being shot in the brain? That’s where the idea is stored, the fuel for the never-ending cog of a consumer identity, the belief that to be is to belong, that to win is to own, more. Hollow humanistic shells without organs, no structure except that which tells them what to do, they only need breath, eat, shit, piss, fuck and enjoy if they give into an externally programmed desire, a desire which always has a malicious agenda.

And as the zombie bites a human the infection that flows past the cog flows too, into their veins, acidic and tinny, sliding into the ducts and destroying the not-needed. Fuelled only by the originality of others, the destruction of a single means the assimilation of another into the larger, with each ego-death their strives a further chance of complete cultural purification, all for the single aim of hedonistic-consumer desire. Race, gender, age, physicality etc. etc. and so on are no longer divided but merged into a pliable dough, given to CEO-hands. And then it’s over.

They enter the Mall from the roof, sliding down into the consumer-nirvana, settling safely into a side room. They box themselves in with food, humans in a small room next to tins of meat, tinned meat…meat in a small space. “Why do you think they come here?” “Memory, perhaps?” Memory, or present? A human walks to the mall and buys and eats and drinks and consumes because….why? A zombie walks to the mall and eats and eats and eats and consumes because that’s just what a zombie does? OK. And so the line blurs and fringe groups become nano-anomalies.

The power is turned on, the dynamism excites the shells of flesh, which ones? The store windows are lit, the tubular bulbs glow bright, the attractions spin and entertain a mass, a mass of beings they view as no different, a mass whose purpose is to be entertained. As pathetic legs give way on escalators, ponds splash with the hit of the dead, a concentration on the stable mannequin.

Those on the semi-outside, those not-undead, those still alive still have to live within this world, survival still has its origins, only now there are two kinds of survival: One in having to literally keep breathing, two is having to stay sane in yourself amongst the murmurs of the undead surrounding.

Those alive grab a cart for the essentials and enter the new halls for the undead, buildings, rooms and floors meant for zombies, a controlled architecture helping guide the frozen culture around and around, a circular life is aimless and also pointless, but for one to throw the idea of meaning in there, that is a tyranny. And the muzak plays.

In their successful attempt to gain supplies one of the group becomes aware, aware of his own possibility to fit in, the inside in warm and easy, to be undead is to be alive and not-think, what a beautiful state of being he thinks, many think…most think. And so he goes insane, to remain with a few in a tension, or to fall lustfully into the welcome, the embrace of a mass, the split causes insanity and weakness prevails. Next you wake up and you are dead, then undead, and you cannot go back.

And the mall begins to bore the alive, for they do not fit in here, the toys and entertainment work only short term for those with form. Those of us with originality have little time for lights and gimmicks; and the zombies keep going, the same trinkets and toys tussled with over and over. The alive now at terminal boredom sit and wait, not once pondering of a re-entering into the animalistic and chaotic ‘outside’, to sit on the wall is a travesty of spirit.

And so the outside invades, patience cannot be employed and thus can be taken by anyone, the roar of the engines and machinery crashes in, metal into mall, a defence happens. But it is too late, a confusion of states occurs and a realisation of non-belonging begins, a merging of kinds into a uniform blob of violence for-the-sake-of begins; and zombies are dotted, waiting for an entry, still ready to take.

As the many fall and organs spill, preferences also tumble, and the zombies begin to eat shit, intestines empty into the mouths of morons, for they know no better and think of this as a fruit of origin.

It is either head to the outside or commit suicide, for some simply cannot become-mass.

DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

To begin with the nightmare of a consumerist force so strong it can literally penetrate your private space/residence, enter into your diary, your thoughts, your memories…your dreams. Your desires are not your own.

Once again the undead are awakened into their dynamic via noise, entertainment draws them near, nothing substantial, not even a coherence, just a vacant loud-noise interests them, they hear not a noise but something they can consume making a noise, originality THIS WAY.

The base underground this time, surrounded by a wire-mesh fence which holds away hundreds of the undead. This time the alive enter not into the hive itself, but shy away, leaving the existence of humanity underground a pathetic whimper against the mass above.

Within the underground there are pressures, tensions between the alive, towards a direction, militaristic, scientific, philosophic? Everyone is at each other’s throats, above and around are the undead and humans still bicker. The aggressive-passion turns inwards, towards each other.

The experiments are underway, conditioned so a zombie can survive simply from a stem and a brain, a vessel to be filled with organ-structure, the brain a pulsating remnant of what it should be. Primordial-instinct is replaced with a consumer instinct, to buy and consume is to breath and eat. “It can be conditioned to behave the way we want it to behave.”

“All the shopping malls are closed.”

It’s in the streets now, the infection creeps into the world unnoticed, unchained and released from its source, its haven, infecting everything it comes into contact with, a cultural poison of hedonism, consumerism and cultism.

And Bub comes into focus, a new kind of zombie, one that remembers his past, what it was like to have ideas of his own, to think and feel and act as he wants, but still, he is to be trained, moulded by science and disciplined by the military, from his mindless slumber he wakes and in an instant a gun is shoved into his hand. His is taught how to shoot, but more importantly who to shoot at.

The experiments go south, the Dr runs out of food and toys for the undead, he begins to feed them their own, the undead regurgitating what they will once again digest, a consumer cycle, flesh-in, flesh-out, shit-in, shit-out…then shit back in again.

Bub escapes his chains, entering a simulacrum of the outside, unsure of his meaning and thus aimless in his escape, to escape for the sake of escaping, into what, a nothingness you know not of. He finds his carer dead and with that his questions fall silent.

It’s suicide or a state of flux. One must keep moving amongst such a degenerative force. To stand still means death, death by fitting in. The ‘in’ is death.

And so Romero gives us the push-overs, zombies one can nudge out of the way, walk by without distracting them. They claw and slowly grind towards originality, yet not at a perverse speed, their place in the world is empty and without dynamic, hollow shells made to search yet not know what for, and thus their desire has been filled by the malicious. The evolution has begun, the mutations creep from left to right, a twisted creature, the relation we want to forget.