There are a few seminal American movies that I've made a (non-)tradition of never seeing: E.T., Forest Gump, Platoon, High Noon and It's a Wonderful Life. It's sort of fun to not have seen something that everyone else has. However, I possibly brought a curse upon me and my kin by finally watching Frank Capra's Christmas classic last Saturday at the Egyptian Theater in sunny, anti-winter wonderland Hollywood. The commentary on It's a Wonderful Life is vast, I'm sure, but along with being baffled at anyone who would choose Donna Reed over Gloria Grahame, here's what came to me:
Ultimately, what capitalist realism amounts to is the elimination of left wing politics and the naturalisation of neoliberalism. [...] Capitalist realism is about a corrosion of social imagination, and in some ways, that remains the problem: after thirty years of neoliberal domination, we are only just beginning to be able to imagine alternatives to capitalism. -- Mark Fisher
I don't know which of the most prominent intellectual leftists first said it, but Fredric Jameson, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek have all repeatedly commented that it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the world continuing without capitalism. We treat capitalism as a biological state of things (survival of the fittest, etc.) or a nomological principle on which our understanding of humanity rests. Even the angels in It's a Wonderful Life can't imagine a counterfactual reality where capitalism ceases. George, contemplating suicide, is given an onto-ethical choice between two worlds: one in which he lives trying to help those in need as best he can, but where his whole community ebbs and flows from one crisis to the next according to the caprice of capital, with capital mostly flowing to those most capable of and willing to exploit the working class, i.e., old man Potter; or, two, a world where George was never born, but Potter's power is even greater and he's more successful at exploiting the working class. If divine power is so great that it can fabricate a new reality without you in it, and follow the diverging trajectories of everyone in the alternate world, then why not do the same regarding capitalism, or Potter? George could've even made a deal with Clarence, his guardian angel, such as: "You want me to live, so that you can get your wings, right? Well, how 'bout you make Bedford Falls into a self-sufficient, anarcho-paradise, where there's no hierarchy and everyone respects each other's individuality, yet we work together for the good of the collective, too? I'd love to live, even with Donna Reed and all these goddamned kids, in such a place." But, no, capitalism is greater than God's will.
Every year at this time artists roll out new recordings of classic holiday tunes or newly written ones in the hope of becoming a new Christmas/holiday time classic - a la Mariah Carey's 1994 runaway smash hit single "All I Want for Christmas Is You" off her Merry Christmas album of that year (in 2010 she released the sequel Merry Christmas II You). So for this holiday season here are four brand new Christmas themed music songs and accompanying videos. They include the above latest Christmas time charity raising song/video from the ever generous Las Vegas rockers The Killers who, for every Christmas since 2006, have teamed up with the RED organization and recorded a song specifically to raise funds (100%) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. "Christmas in L.A." is the latest song/video from Brandon Flowers and crew with a feature from Dawes on the track plus the voices of Harry Dean Stanton and Owen Wilson - the latter of whom also appears in the video. Partly animated the clip captures what its like for Wilson to wake up alone in an L.A. apartment on Christmas morning. In addition to this new Killers Christmas track below are three other brand new holiday season song/video recordings including from RnB singers K. Michelle and Tyra B, and pop singer Asher Monroe. Whether any of these songs will follow Mariah Carey's good fortune and stick around for future Christmas seasons remains to be seen.
Thus the first song ever played in space was a surprise rendition of "Jingle Bells" on an 8-note Honer harmonica and hand full of jingle bells to celebrate the arrival of the holiday season. If your ever at the Smithsonian Institution keep an eye out for these instruments! Here's a bonus vid for anyone out there who hasn't seen Col. Chris Hadfield's Bowie jam -- it really was one of the best things to happen in 2013.
Why let it snow when you can make it snow, amirite? Taking a cue from yesterday's "Klingon Kristmas" post, I urge everyone to make merry with Captain Jean-Luc Picard as he continually commands Christmas, with that classic "final frontier" flair that only he can own, in this genius Star Trek: TNG edit set to the tune of "Make it Snow". I dare you to humbug this hot, hot cup of holiday cheer!