Based Safety vs. Cringe Propaganda #36
This Week in Based and Cringe
COPS AND SELF-PRESERVATION
During my wasted years of hard drug abuse and drinking to excess, I was arrested three times. Not for any hard felonies, mind you, but I did once get picked up outside an Acid Mother’s Temple concert in Tucson on possession. I had four hits of ecstasy and some weed. During my prior and less serious arrests, I had already grown accustomed to the way that police use an assortment of mind fucking tactics to break your resolve: their cold and detached demeanor, their light jokes made at your expense and the winks and nods they make to each other while you are in a panic that your whole future might be fucked, and even the simple gesture of handcuffing you to shatter your sense of control and will from the outset. But this last arrest in Tucson was the only time I had ever truly felt terrified and disoriented during a police encounter.
I was hardly a criminal – just a fucked up petty bourgeois kid who was using too many drugs. And while that class privilege typically tends to prevent serious police inquisition for crimes smaller than felonies, these Tucson cops had no reservations about scaring the ever living shit out of me. Two cops sat across a desk from in the dimly lit interview room. I was already confused and scared because I assumed I would get charged, processed, and locked up over the night awaiting my court date where I’d be given a slap on the wrist. While I indeed did get the proverbial tap with some community service and probation served up later, I was put through the ringer on the night of the arrest. The cops used an assortment of threats, manipulations, and outright lies about the amount of trouble I was in to get me to give them a name about who was supplying me with the drugs. In all honesty, I had no clue what his name was; some guy outside the Hotel Congress was selling drugs and I bought some. And while they eventually accepted my story, I remember the feeling that I should just offer up a fake name to get out of trouble. I was in such a panic, you see? Whatever ethics I had internalized or learned from The Sopranos about remaining silent under questioning evaporated beneath the weight of a profound sense of self-preservation.
While we don’t always consciously think about it, our sense of self-preservation — our WILL to SURVIVE — bleeds into everything we do. Lately, I’ve been experiencing this reality rather intensely. You see: I do have an ethics, or a set of aesthetic and ideological principles, that I think about in regards to my art. I do hope that, through aesthetic terrorism and counter-propaganda, I can challenge you to think for yourself. I hope that I can provoke something in you that influences you to seize your own freedom and creativity. But I also know that there are severe limitations in regards to what is possible in these mediums and through these media channels. At the end of the day, we are in constant inner conflict, torn between our principles and our senses of self-preservation. This is why I’m highly skeptical of the idea that any media figure or group — whether journalists, novelists, philosophers, podcasters, painters, sculptors, musicians or otherwise — can affect real change outside these narrow spheres of aesthetics and discourses. Apparatchiks (and I’m not excluding myself from this criticism at all), in most cases, begin their careers and their work full of ideals and beliefs. They are, to a degree, sincere. But then we get some influence. The algorithm picks up on that influence and acts accordingly. We end up in small circles of exchange endlessly pontificating and offering each other ideas disconnected from a broader public square and, eventually, we realize that there isn’t much to do about this state of affairs. We accept it. We keep doing the work. We get our piece of the pie. Then we want more. This is the cycle, I’m afraid, and I think we should all be skeptical of any figure who is claiming that their work is going to radically change, well, fucking anything. C.S. Lewis wrote in Abolition of Man that our instincts are “at war.” Our instincts to create something meaningful are in constant battle with our instincts to survive. I think it’s best to be honest about this, and to extrapolate something aesthetic from the contradiction itself. I want to write and to make art. I want people to engage with the work. I want them to think differently, perhaps, because of it. But I also want to get what’s coming to me, so you should never trust me entirely…
Compact Magazine, a synergistic political and cultural journal, launches. As some of you already know, I am now a monthly columnist with the publication. In my first piece, I reference my hero Adam Parfrey and my problematic favorite Andrea Dworkin to make “The Case Against Aesthetic Castration”. Some friends of Safety Propaganda also join the magazine: Nina Power is senior editor and makes a fierce case in favor of protecting the patriarchy, Geoff Shullenberger worries that masks and lockdowns are likely here for good, and Oliver Bateman discredits the cliché that history repeats itself. Nothing repeats.
A fascinating piece of historical illumination by Ted Snider outlines the history of both the Ukranian government and its supporters in the US and NATO collaborating with avowed neo-nazi fighting forces like the Azov Batallion to combat Russia. It’s rather hilarious from my perspective given that the French black metal band Peste Noire (who are, yes, an incredible band), known to be aligned with the fat right and the subject of countless Antifa-led concert cancellations and protests, are known to be extremely enthusiastic about Azov. Now, it seems, Peste Noire and the Antifa leftists are rooting for the same side. What a fucking world, indeed.
While on the topic of black metal, USBM band Negative Plane is about to release the long-awaited follow-up to its excellent 2011 record Stained Glass Revelations. The new album Pact is promoted here by the group’s enigmatic leader Nameless Void in an interview with Bardo Methodology. Mikko Aspa — an artist who makes harsh noise beneath the Grunt moniker and black metal with his band Clandestine Blaze as well as publishes the Special Interests noise magazine — pens an essay about the self-defeating ouroboros in judging aesthetics according to arbitrary moral standards: “Moralism is not [a] very admirable quality,” writes Mikko. “I do not think it has strength in advancing creativity and making expressions that can enable more than expected.”
Friends of the platform Filthy Armenian and Jack Mason of The Perfume Nationalist convene and discuss the literary legacy of Houellebecq and it was a pleasure to listen despite having felt left out that I wasn’t invited to join in. I was reading Houellebecq long before Anna and Dasha retconned his work into this internet sphere, but it’s all good! I was blown away by the 2021 indie pitch black comedy Red Rocket and even more so because I’ve long despised the films by Sean Baker and his libtardy do-gooder tendency to make his women sex worker protagonists perfect little victims. Whether transgender or drug addicted, the ladies of Sean Baker films were always flat, sterile, and unbelievable. Perhaps centering Red Rocket around a profoundly damaged MALE porn star and tween groomer allowed him to unleash the darkness that always lurked in his work absent concern about making his protagonist likable? Nevertheless, lead actor Simon Rex’s performance in the film is the best acting work of 2021 — creepy, charming, and tragic in equal measure — and he goes on Bret Ellis’ podcast to discuss his career and life in Hollywood. A true story about what it means to be a D-list Hollywood bum for decades before getting the role that will change one’s life. One of the last great film critics, James Quandt, discusses the new film by twin brothers directorial duo Ramon and Silvan Zurcher: The Girl and the Spider. One more cinematic related item: Dennis Cooper pays homage to the late, great master of scares Wes Craven.
Friend Mónica Belevan writes about tension as an essential component of the baroque aesthetic and the importance of “difficult beauty.” Angelicism01 discusses the cuckold nature of Kanye West and the big dick energy of Pete Davidson and posits that the cuckold spirit is a precondition for great art in 2022. While on literature, I’ll also post this fantastic documentary on A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess, a profound literary genius. A Counter-Agent of the highest order.
In case you haven’t heard, Red Hot Chili Peppers have released Unlimited Love, the band’s first album since master guitarist (and my favorite musician period) John Frusciante has joined the band since leaving for the second time in 2009, and it rules. If you hate the Red Hot Chili Peppers you’re a lame and boring fag who hates fun. Sorry, those are the rules. Nevertheless, the album’s producer Rick Rubin hosts Frusciante and Anthony Keidis for a long-winded discussion about the new record.
And, finally, my friend and the illustrator of both the Safety Propaganda and System of Systems logos Joel Jensen joins SOS and we discuss the legacy of the late manga icon Kentaro Miura, who passed away last year, and the now uncertain future of his magnum opus dark fantasy epic manga series Berserk.
MSNBC libs have upped the ante on an already obscene level of war piggery. First, Ali Velshi, who looks like a turtle head popping out of its shell to see what’s up and argue in favor of nuclear holocaust, demands American intervention in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Sean Penn appears on Sean Hannity to make a furtive case against America’s HESITANCE to use nuclear weapons. How dumb and fried is this fucking actor? Well, I suppose it shouldn’t be too shocking, given that he indeed tied up Madonna and beat the shit out of her for a couple days in the 1980s.
Despite the fact that the Russian government asked the UN to investigate Ukraine’s claims about the Russian massacres in Bucha and the Ukraine and US denying the request, the New York Times continues publishing stories about Bucha as if they are one hundred percent verified fact. Now, I don’t have any evidence to suggest these massacres did or didn’t take place. But it does seem strange that these images were sat on for four whole days after the Russians left the area, and the images do seem awfully close to the now debunked images suggesting Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. The Times also ran with that story and never published a retraction. The entire paper is a fucking lie, let’s be real here. Despite an insane level of NGO astro-turfing and leftoid media retconning, Jean-Luc Melénchon — the Bernie-esque soc dem candidate running for the presidency in France — has lost the election. Jacobin of course pretends that he accomplished something anyways.
Serious question: is anyone in arts media allowed to say that they don’t like Arthur Jafa’s wildly over-praised and politically brow-beating film montages? Because Amy Taubin here sure seems like, for the majority of the article, that she has some serious issues with Jafa’s new work, and yet still manages to end her essay on a piece of obligatory praise. Billy Anania is extremely enthusiastic about an arts project for homeless people, who he refers to as the “unhoused” as if that’s somehow more politically correct, which is predictable given that this is Hyperallergic and they only like art if it makes them feel like good people. Most hilarious is the author’s 7th grade definition of Marxist materialism: “The show also focuses on materialism in the Marxist sense,” he writes, clearly unfamiliar with his subject matter: “Through the historical process of capital accumulation, excess production of commodities, and ejection of surplus lives from labor and land ownership.”
Some shitty electronic musician no one cares about wants to tackle the “vinyl problem”; that is, he wants us to feel guilty about contributing to climate change due to our enthusiasm for vinyl. Yeah, sure pal; if we are more mindful of our vinyl consumption I’m sure we can solve climate change (LOL!). I don’t know why, but this article on the Chicago indie rock scene makes me want to blow my own brains out. Who the fuck names a rock n’ roll band Horsegirl or Lifeguard? What is wrong with you people?
Finally, there’s something particularly depressing about Andrea Arnold’s new documentary Cow. How does this filmmaker — who has directed two of the 21st Century’s most uncomfortably erotic films in American Honey and Fish Tank — lower herself to the extent that her first film in half a decade is a documentary about a literal cow family?
1. photograph by Heji Shin
3. Still from Andrea Arnold’s Cow