5 Films For the Upcoming Apocalypse: A Guide

I’ve tried to put a funny spin on this because at this point if we don’t laugh, we are going to continually cry.

This could have been a list of informative and useless films to help us combat life under white supremacy. It isn’t. Instead, this is a list of films that I think accurately predict the dystopia we are now on the verge of living in. It’s not heart warming, and it won’t make you feel better about what is happening and for that, I am truly sorry. Try watching Mamma Mia if you want to feel happy for an hour and a half (though we all know Meryl Streep is totally overrated, right Donald?). If you want to wallow in the misery of the next four years and beyond – then come with me on a journey of apocalyptic doom and watch the following.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road makes the list for a number of reasons, not least because Donald Trump and Immortan Joe share the same hairdresser. Both of their ruling ideologies are rooted quite firmly in toxic masculinity and are clearly destructive to all who live under them. Immorten Joe thrives off his power over the water supply, and the crowds who gather beneath him when he finally lets them have a drink. Bet those crowds aren’t as big as Trump’s inauguration though…

It’s Immortan Joe’s treatment of women that is suspiciously similar to Trump’s opinions too. They are commodities, there to be objectified, sexualised or pumped for breast milk. Trump also treats women like commodities – I am sure we are all very familiar with the grabbing quote by now. It just shows how much he dehumanises women and feels we only exist to be fodder for powerful men like him. WE ARE NOT THINGS.

Also, as we have seen with the Trump’s persistence regarding going ahead with the Dakota Access Pipeline, Trump really fucking loves oil. Like Joe, he’ll do pretty much anything (including sacrificing human life) to get at it. In Fury Road, Australia has been turned into a dystopian wasteland because of the pollution and carnage to the planet. America will surely follow suit under Immorten Trump’s leadership.

 

Children of Men

I don’t think that Brexit or Trump have set off a chain reaction of infertility across the world – though there’s definitely a joke in there somewhere. Children of Men though, paints a fantastic portrait of what happens when the government decides to close of its borders and treat refugees and immigrants as if they are subhuman.

We have seen the beginnings of this. During the Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage once stood in front of a billboard depicting displaced young men coming from war torn countries having experienced horrifying events, the likes of which most of us could never imagine. The caption? ‘Breaking Point’. No, he didn’t mean breaking point for the thousands of people dying in Syria – he meant it was breaking point for the UK. This is a small snippet, a tiny glimpse into how the leave campaign used immigration as their main talking point, encouraging xenophobia and Islamophobia in the process.

This is what happens in Children of Men. A whole country turns a blind eye to the mistreatment, executions and torture of refugees at the hands of the government. The last scene, as Kee and Theo arrive at Bexhill-on-Sea, we see how those in the camp are treated. It’s stomach churning. The scariest part is that we aren’t worlds away from this now – detention centres like Yarls Wood are notorious for their lack of abuse and dehumanisation of its residents. With Brexit pushing racial hate crimes up by over 41%, attitudes in the UK are shifting very dangerously towards Children of Men’s depiction of humanity.

Most recently, with Trump’s ‘not-a-Muslim-ban’, we are closer to a Children of Men attitude towards refugees than ever before. Fortunately, the executive order has been halted for now, but it hasn’t done anything to relieve stigmas towards immigration and refugees.

 

Look Who’s Back

This indie film has made a few waves, and not only because it features Hitler time travelling to 2014 and instigating the reprisal of fascism in Germany. The strength of Look Who’s Back lies in it’s ability to make you laugh along with Hitler (yes, a phrase I never thought I would say) and then pull the rug very firmly out from underneath you when the realisation hits. You, like the characters in the film, have been normalising Hitler the whole time by laughing along.  

This is something that can seen across the UK and America. Instead of treating Neo-Nazi’s as the scum they are,  during Brexit the BBC actually interviewed one of them on the 6 o’clock news – essentially giving the swastika-tattooed young man a platform to air his bigotry. Likewise, Jimmy Fallon invited Donald Trump onto his show and, instead of showing Trump for the bigot he is, Jimmy Fallon ruffled his hair and sent him on his way. Nigel Farage has spent the last year posing for photo ops in local pubs. Nazi’s, in the Western world, are now called the ‘Alt Right’ – as if they are just a different version of the right wing, not bigoted maniacs. There was even an outcry when self-confessed Nazi Richard Spencer was punched live on air. I’d recommend watching the remixes here – very satisfying stuff. 

In Look Who’s Back, we watch in shock and horror as Germans around the country salute to Hitler, take selfies with him and agree with him on foreign policy. The hard-right is alive and well in Europe, and one of the reasons why Brexit ended up quite how it did. The thing is, the first half of Look Who’s Back posits itself as a comedy. We laugh at Hitler (what’s he like!), until he decides that actually, someone needs to really take back control of the country. We all laughed at the idea of Trump becoming President, but this is where we are now. Too late.

 

Dr Strangelove

There’s two very important reasons for including Dr Strangelove. Firstly, the image of twenty or so white men sitting round a table, very incompetently discussing nuclear warfare is something I think we will be very familiar with in the Trump administration. Sure, they’ve already had a room of white men discussing abortion, and (I quote twitter) there are more black people in Beyonce right now than there are in his whole administration.  I can just see Mr Trump on the phone to Putin, apologising for the small misunderstanding regarding the nuclear warhead that is now heading directly towards them. Then, boom. We’re all dead.

Secondly, Dr Strangelove depicts the American military as people who will go along with orders without questions, regardless of the possible consequences. I don’t imagine this will change much with Trump in charge. Though we have seen certain members of the judiciary system speaking out against his executive orders, we have yet to hear anything from the military. We all know that the US Army and patriotism go hand in hand, and judging by Trump’s inauguration speech – that isn’t going to change much.

 

Snowpiercer

Last but not least, we come to the environment. There’s no doubt in any of our minds that global warming is going to get a whole lot worse (hotter) because Trump believes it’s a conspiracy from China, and without EU regulation, the UK doesn’t have to adhere to climate change reform. So we should all be buying factor 50 as soon as possible.

Snowpiercer actually depicts a world which has tried to combat global warming, but has failed with disastrous consequences. Having left it too late to reverse the effects naturally, scientists attempt to cool the earth down but the effect is to plunge the plant into an Ice Age, the only surviving inhabitants circumventing the globe on a never-stopping train. Of course, Snowpiercer also depicts a world where the poor are shunned, exploited and made to live in horrendous circumstances for the benefit of the rich – which doesn’t sound too dissimilar from our current situation where 62 people have the equivalent wealth of the rest of the world put together.

It is the harsh realities of making the planet uninhabitable though which makes Snowpiercer a film to add to this list. The frozen tundra rolls by the windows of train, reminding all the passengers that they are stuck in their locomotive world due to their own incompetence. The inability to save the planet. I don’t believe that we will end up on a train, circling the Earth. It might be a lot worse. Especially considering that London went over it’s yearly air pollution “allowance’ for the year, within the first five days of 2017. This is in addition the fact that Trump thinks that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy… 


 

The one silver lining we can possibly take from this list is that there is always a glimmer of hope for the protagonists. Also, the protagonists are (quite firmly) not racists, misogynists or Nazis. In fact, it’s the antagonists that encompass these charming values. And what do we know about films? They are always right, right?

Resistance is NOT futile

This is a change the scheduled programming from what this blog is usually about, but is far too important not to speak up about*. 

This blog was created to talk about women, LGBTQ and minority representation within the film and television industry. I started writing over two years ago, and what I have learnt is that progress is a slow and painful game. Some things get better, and some things get worse.

However, in the space of less than a week, Trump has managed to tear down years of progress in just a handful of executive orders. We all feel desperate, and what I have felt this past week is that I don’t know what I can do about it. In the UK we watched our country tear itself apart over Brexit in June, we watched as horrifying statements about immigrants and refugees were tossed around the mainstream media by the likes of pint-bearing ‘people’s man’ Nigel Farage. These attitudes, and the Brexit vote, has helped enormously with electing Trump and platforming racist rhetoric. Last week, Theresa May (our unelected PM) was the first leader to meet with Trump – securing the UK’s support for racism and bigotry. She then refused to condemn Trump’s ban on Muslims from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia entering the USA. I mean, what did we expect from the woman who rolled out the ‘go home’ vans just a few years ago.

Things are bad, and they aren’t going to get much better unless we all speak up. Honestly, I spent a lot of the last weekend in a hole just re-reading my twitter feed and watching the news. It didn’t help. If, like me, you are feeling lost or disillusioned (especially in the UK as it’s harder to know what exactly we can do), I’ve compiled a list of protests, events, ways to write to your MP and places to donate money to. Please let me know if there are things that can be added to this list, as I am sure there are. 

There were over 100,000 people at the Womens March on London on the 21st Jan. Let’s not make that a one off.

Resist, and stay safe x


Demo organised by Stop the War Coalition, Stand Up to Racism, Muslim Association of Britain, Muslim Engagement and Development, the Muslim Council of Britain, CND and Friends of Al-Aqsa.
Saturday 4th Feb
Starts at 11am outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London. Sister protests are being set up across the country.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1761835547477556/

 

TONIGHT (Monday 30th Jan)
Protest outside Downing Street, 6pm – 8pm. Speakers include; Owen Jones, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Wail Qasim (BLM) Caroline Lucas (Green Party).
Sister protests happening across the country.
https://www.facebook.com/events/359732827741189/

 

Write to your MP and tell them how you feel about the ban and Trump’s state visit to the UK.
https://www.writetothem.com/

 

Write to Theresa May… (try not to swear too much)
https://email.number10.gov.uk/

 

There’s also several places that you can donate to to help combat the ban and help refugees:

 

UK based Hope not Hate, foundation organised by Brendan Cox (husband of MP Jo Cox who was killed in the lead up to the Brexit campaign by a right-wing Britain First supporter)
http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/

Help Refugees aim to fill the gaps where governments are not or will direct aid:
http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/

The American Civil Liberties Union have been the driving force behind getting lawyers to airports to help those who have been detained, and are working hard to reverse the ban legally.
https://www.aclu.org/

(if you really like film criticism, then consider buying a year’s subscription to Bright Wall/Dark Room, as they are currently donating all subscription income to the ACLU)

International Rescue Committee are on the ground helping refugees fleeing war torn countries.
https://www.rescue.org/

Consider getting rid of Uber, their CEO has made it clear he wants to work with Trump and they refused to join the NY taxi drivers strike for solidarity with immigrants. 

 

In fact, here is a whole list of companies to avoid – https://www.facebook.com/notes/ryan-mack/boycott-trump-list-of-of-companies-to-refuse-to-support/10150222197459365/

Boycotting can send a strong message, and is something that all of us can do that requires no monetary contribution.

 

If you can give two hours of your time to stand outside the US Embassy and protest, or just £2 to Help Refugees, it all helps.
*this post is going to be UK-centric mostly because that is where I am based and I want to encourage those in the UK to resist and protest wherever and however they can. For info on US protests, marches and donations see here, here and here

‘Year of Hell’ – How to Deal With 2017 Using ‘Star Trek: Voyager’

During season 4 of Star Trek: Voyager there is an episode called ‘Year of Hell’. It’s pretty self-explanatory; everything that can go wrong for the crew aboard the SS Voyager, does go wrong. Unimaginably so. To give a little backstory to those who have never seen Star Trek: Voyager  before: a Starfleet crew and a Maquis crew (traditional enemies) are stranded in the uncharted Delta quadrant, many lightyears from home. The two crews band together in an attempt to cross the galaxy, a journey that will take over 70 years. It’s desperate, it’s tough and (unsurprisingly) it’s pretty eventful. The crew is headed up by Captain Janeway (queen of my life) who won the hearts and minds of so many Trek fans as the first female Captain. She’s badass, she’s strong but she’s also weighed down with the massive task of bringing her people home.

‘Year of Hell’ and ‘Year of Hell Part 2’ are possibly the most desperate episodes of the series. The crew, including Janeway, lose hope of ever returning home. Things just keep going from bad to worse, to ‘let’s just give up now’. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s been a bit like this through 2016, and it’s probably going to carry on next year. Okay, we aren’t lost in a galaxy far from home and we aren’t being continually attacked by unknown alien species. However, we have had to suffer through the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the West, and the conflicts in Syria and the Middle East are just getting worse. It’s been a really tough year. What makes it worse is that all of the repercussions of Trump, Brexit etc are going to come to fruition in 2017 – meaning that we aren’t even nearly out the other side. The proverbial shit has only just hit the fan, as they say.

 For some reason, for me anyway, watching the Voyager crew struggle through their own shit, feeling helpless but overcoming the odds every single time has been…well…pretty comforting at times.

I began my re-watch of Voyager before the major shitstorms of 2016 began. Like the other Star Trek series, Voyager portrays a world where Earth is a peaceful planet. People of all races, ethnicities, countries and genders work harmoniously together. Starfleet is a organisation of space exploration, and the prime directive is not to interfere with alien species that they encounter. A far cry from Britain’s colonialist past, or the Western involvement in any country that has oil. Star Trek, as a franchise, depicts a hopeful future for humanity, and Voyager is no different. Janeway and the crew could blast their way through the galaxy, destroying anyone who stands between them and home, but they don’t. They explore, they learn and they face moral dilemmas at every turn.

Considering that Star Trek represents a unified world, free from racism, sexism, misogyny and hatred, it couldn’t be more relevant that I began re-watching it this year. The UK’s departure from the EU (which I have to keep telling myself has not happened yet), represents the complete opposite of what Star Trek hoped to achieve. Though the Federation itself has some questionable initiatives, it succeeds in uniting the entire of Earth and various alien species along with it. Brexit Britain is basically the complete opposite, and America’s President-elect has made it clear that he has no intention of uniting with other nations – unless it’s in the mutually assured process of destruction. Yippee.

Shortly before ‘Year of Hell’ and ‘Year of Hell Part 2’, Seven of Nine joins the Voyager crew. She is a former Borg, assimilated into the Borg Collective at a very young age, and whilst some of the crew have their doubts – Janeway decides that Seven should be allowed to stay with the crew and be treated as part of it. The Borg are a universally hated species, owing mostly to their tradition of assimilating or destroying every species they come into contact with.

The hatred of the Borg species is actually really interesting, because pretty much all Borg were formerly another species that has been assimilated into the Borg Collective. There are humans, Vulcans, Klingons… you name it, the Borg have probably assimilated some of them. Throughout the Delta Quadrant, whomever Voyager came into contact with – the response regarding the Borg was always the same. We hate them.

Though in many, many ways very different, there is a similar and awful feeling all over the UK since June 23rd. Of course, I am not for one second suggesting that immigrants and refugees are comparable to the Borg (UKIP are much more comparable due to their lack of empathy and general bloodlust), but the intense and widespread xenophobia that the vote revealed in society has been shocking. Instead of seeing people as individuals, the Leave campaign wanted us to see immigrants as ‘groups’ (or a collective, perhaps). They aren’t individual people who have been forced into a tragic situation, Farage and co want us to see refugees as part of a hive-mind – brainwashed and radicalised yet wholly responsible for their own situation. Seeing refugees as an ‘evil’ and dangerous collective completely dehumanises them, hence why Match of the Day received complaints when Gary Lineker dared to suggest that perhaps those fleeing war were human, and you know, might require our help?

Much the same way as Donald Trump, refusing to acknowledge refugees as individual people who need our help makes it so much easier to ignore them.

In ‘Year of Hell’, Seven of Nine proved to be one of the most valuable crew members. She continues to be an integral part of the crew right up until the series finishes. Of course we shouldn’t rank people solely based on their economic or social helpfulness, but it still proves that we should never, ever discount people based solely on their race. Or gender, or sexuality, or religion for that matter. Instead of opening our borders and enriching our society with different cultures, traditions, languages, creativity, thought and ideas, we have chosen to close them off. Instead of a future of togetherness, collaboration and unity, we are faced with a sense of impending doom. Janeway would be furious.

All we can hope is that our year of hell is not followed by ‘Year of Hell Part 2’, as it is in Voyager. If it is, I guess we will all have to try to be more like our beloved Captain Janeway…We’ll hold our heads high, be counted and stand up for what is right.