Gothic dance, gothic dance, every-body gothic dance...
|Oct 3||Public post|| 1|
We here in the HOT, NEW world of the written word aren’t always as serious as those yahoos in the Alberta Advantage podcasting department. Now that the Patreon mad lads/lasses/lax have loosed me, the Wolf of Word Street, upon the unsuspecting sheep farm of the newsletter consuming public, you get all sorts of content deemed too "stupid" or "useless" or "legally actionable". No more of the antiquated thinking so thickly dolloped onto the world of streaming internet radio. Step into the future and listen with your eyes
What if I told you that one of the most watched actors working today was involved in the creation a trilogy movies in a row almost entirely focused on the evil of the moneyed classes, the untapped power of the the lumpenproletariat, and the uneasy alliance between man and equine? What if that formal trilogy only sort of exists in the mind of one man, the same man typing these very words? If you said “wow, that guy sounds like fun at parties,” you’re incorrect!
AMC's The Walking Dead, even as it shuffles along in late-series malaise, remains the second most watched series on television, a feat given that it's on cable and the crown is currently worn by This Is Us, a primetime network soap. That means that while Stephen Yeun was on the series, during its ratings prime, he was one of the most visible actors in the Western world, and easily one of the most influential POC actors of our time. Then he had to go and get SPOILER upside his SPOILER by SPOILER and then SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER in his SPOILER. His time on the show ended and he had to choose what to do next.
Commerical bonafides like that have significant real-world consequences. When Yeun signs on to a project, it gains significant momentum to go from idea to upcoming release. Given that kind of power, when a known quantity like him picks a project, it's worthwhile to find patterns in those picks. In 2017 and 2018, Yeun decided to make movies about class warfare.
Yeun, like a guy making black pudding or someone doing a Crowley-ist ritual, started with blood. Genre streaming service Shudder bought the rights to the Joe Lynch film Mayhem, with Yeun and co-star Samara Weaving. The premise is simple - a disease puts a building into quarantine when it causes people to start losing their inhibitions to violence. Impoliteness begets stabbings, minor slights inspire manslaughter, and while the military keeps the carnage contained, the corporate inhabitants spend the day dying their Oxford-cloth burgundy with all-natural arterial pigments. It's a gore-fest, but the thrust is pure critical theory - alliances only emerge out of survival commerce and factions are formed to chase compensation by faceless employers ready to use human bodies as bullet sponges.
Soon after, Yeun starred in one of the most (rightfully) lauded films of that year, Chang-dong Lee's Burning. He took a supporting role in this film out of South Korea, a terse and beautiful look at a romance between leads Jong-su and Hae-mi as it's interrupted by a moneyed, literal Gangnam-style sociopath played by Yeun. It starts as a Archie-Reggie-Veronica story of a dowry-free every-man watching his beloved slip into the arms of a princeling, but decides it's not finished there. It moves effortlessly through the unfulfilled expectations of the South Korean middle class who, despite getting all the credentials and cosmetic surgery demanded of them, still find themselves wandering and useless, and up through the gilded aristocracy with their sick pleasures, aimless self-medication, and separate justice system.
Third, and most notable in terms of non-Yeun star power, is the Boots Riley debut (and Independent Spirit Award winner) Sorry To Bother You. At the core a story about whether to toil with the workers and organize for recognition or to join the ranks of the petit bourgeois for personal gain, Yeun gets the enviable role of moral compass and badass, steal-your-means-of-production-and-your-girl union organizer. Even as the movie plunges into tanks of bathos, the message is clear - it's better to be in the gutter with comrades than stepping over them in polished shoes.
Additional interest in Yeun’s choice of projects is the simultaneous rise of English-Malaysian actor Henry Golding, another Asian man taking lead roles (rare) in major Hollywood films (rarer) where they play a main romantic interest (rarest). His roles are a perfect foil for Yeun’s, as both Crazy Rich Asians and A Simple Favor, his 2018 releases, have him play people who would be comfortable villains in a Yeun film of the same period. The former starts with Golding’s film family encountering racism at a hotel front desk and remedying the issue by purchasing the building.
Three great films, three Marxist narratives, and one popular actor. It's not to say that the involvement of Steven Yeun was the pivot on which the future of these projects turned, but when you're trying to secure funding for an anti-capitalist narratives having a few people familiar with the pages of GQ goes a long way. At the top end we might get mostly buried allegories about climate genocide (Pacific Rim) or anti-fascism (Mad Max: Fury Road), but recent flirtations with film Marxism have been low-budget side-projects and indies. To move the Overton Window with mass media the left should try and draft an A-lister on the edge, someone who can move real dollars into leftist blockbusters.
I think our best bet is George Clooney. He's already making movies about MK Ultra, the military industrial complex, and the American tradition of fraud and graft. It wont be a huge leap.
🔫Jason Kenney decided to donate a bunch of money to a guy who is being sued by a man that he shot. With a gun. The premier says it’s “just a sign of personal compassion.” To donate money to a man that is being sued because he shot someone with a gun. Cannot emphasize the extent to which this is extremely fucked.
🎤Waiting with baited breath for all the free speech warriors to defend the rights of striking hotel workers in Vancouver.
⚔️The premier is trying to create division between ‘special interests’ and ‘normal Albertans’ so he can pit us against each other when he tries to jam austerity down the throats of this province. Buckle up, folks.
👩👩👧👧 Thinking of joining a union? Call Team Advantage member Kate Jacobson, not the government’s new snitch line. (This is a serious offer. Kate can be reached at 587-703-7390 and loves talking union).
⚖️Calgary Legal Guidance, an organization that provides legal advice to low-income individuals, is underfunded and overextended. Keeping at-risk populations away from good legal advice is as good as violating their rights, so you know their budget troubles will continue.
💩A Calgary judge who let some child-killers off the hook tainted some expert testimony because he mocked of the expert’s accent.
🏚️SCAN, the Calgary Police unit dedicated to making poor people homeless, made a whole bunch more poor people homeless this month. In articles about the closures, you often see citations of law enforcement exhaustion and frequency of visits, but (WEIRD) never see how many times social workers and public health nurses staked out the houses handing out pamphlets, condoms, and clean needles. Could you imagine having that population in an identifiable location and doing nothing but shooing them away and then boarding up the doors? I don’t want to say they’re not trying but, but it seems like they’re not trying.
🚸Calgary schools are either dying on the vine or are wildly overcrowded. Good thing there’s a government in place known for creativity and the expansion of capacity.
🌳North99 has a great interview with policy researcher Seth Klein about declaring war on climate change.
🌇Former host of the dearly departed News You Can Use Tannara Yelland wrote a wonderful review of Sam Stein’s excellent Capital City. It’s a great overview of the socialist position on housing.
🏴People keep lighting the homeless on fire in California.
☕I mean sure, you can just put tea leaves directly in water to make tea, but why do that when you can make little tea tents with dubious advantages and add tonnes of microplastic waste to the environment. Capitalism always innovates.
💞Bernie Sanders had a bum ticker but he’s fine now because I gave him mine.
🤑The libs broke the BC forests and now everybody is broke. When you’re desperate, every protected tree looks like a withheld mortgage payment. A friend of the newsletter breaks down the history of forest mismanagement and graft in BC.
✊CUPE is about to make Doug Ford weep. We support them in the Weepining.
🐙Yes, another article about Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s worth reading.
🤘On October 10, public sector workers in Alberta are holding an information picket at Peter Lougheed Centre, 3500 26 Ave NE, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., in defense of our collective bargaining rights and public services. This picket will be two days after the legislature reconvenes on October 8, so it’s super important to show public sector workers in Alberta that we have their back.
A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article or a petition or a link to an event or just a really funny joke, drop us a quick line at albertaadvantagenewsletter [at] gmail [dot] com. We make no promises, but many hands make light work, and we’d love to hear from you! See you in two weeks.
This edition contains writing by Kate Jacobson. Our editor is Clinton Hallahan.