The Corporate-Military Grip on Culture, Art

Nick Turse via the Indypendent:

The military has enmeshed itself in American pop culture, infiltrating not only Hollywood, but everything else: from the video-game industry to bigtime sports to the world of online social networking.

Continue reading The Corporate-Military Grip on Culture, Art

Karl Rove and Dick Cheney in Hollywood and TV – at taxpayer expense

Michael Weldon, interviewed by Ryan Lambie:

DoG: On your website you say that movies are more politicized now than at any time since WWII or the Cold War. Could you give any examples?

MW: This is a huge topic. Many movies, producers, and production companies, and some studios, stars and directors have close ties to the American DOD (Department Of Defence), arms dealers (American and Israeli), oil companies, and/or the ruling Republican Party and neocon Bush backers. The Hollywood/D.C. connection has existed for a long time to some extent but it’s stronger now than ever. After 9/11 Karl Rove met with studio heads and top producers and directors and convinced most of them to be part of the war on terror and to be more patriotic and pro FBI, CIA, Armed Forces…

If an American movie features spies, the military, and military hardware and does not explicitly criticized the government and the Iraq war – it has the full cooperation of the DOD. Some of our tax dollars actually go to providing military planes, boats, weapons, soldiers, advisors… to pro military movies that we pay too much to see – then go buy DVDs of! Many major movies have government agents and agencies right in the credits if you know where to look. Even most people who look back at WWII era movies or early Cold War era movies and realize that they were propaganda, don’t realize what’s happening now. Continue reading Karl Rove and Dick Cheney in Hollywood and TV – at taxpayer expense

The Never-Never Land of Corporate TV

Not that M*A*S*H* was all that libratory in many ways, but compared to today…? 

Tom Dorsey

“M*A*S*H” started out as a sitcom, and the early chapters were the funniest by far. The show initially stayed away from the controversial dramatic plots that developed in later years when it almost bordered on being preachy sometimes.

The series was based on the best-selling novel and movie about the Korean War, but that war soon became a stand-in for the war in Vietnam.

The strongest anti-war scripts arrived long after the United States had left Korea. But the protest against the Vietnam War was still at a fever pitch when “M*A*S*H” first appeared, and not just with college kids and war protesters but with a majority of people who wanted the fighting to end and the soldiers to come home.

If the polls are right, that’s the same way most people feel today about the war in Iraq. But there’s nothing even remotely like “M*A*S*H” on television today.

Continue reading The Never-Never Land of Corporate TV

Redacted, Valley of Elah, Rendition, and other Iraq war films

No one wants to know by Simon Hattenstone

“Brian De Palma, Nick Broomfield and Paul Haggis have been called traitors and villains, their films branded ‘Bin Laden cinema’. They are desperate to tell the truth about what is going on in Iraq. But there seems little appetite for war films right now.”

Benjamin Percy, “Refresh, Refresh,” and Iraq war fiction

— expanded —

What can be said of Iraq war fiction thus far? What of the art of partisan fiction? In an interview with Courtney E. Martin, Benjamin Percy notes:

I wrote about the [Iraq war] battleground at home [in 2005], something that had been neglected entirely. A few months ago I did a reading with Brian Turner, who served as an infantry leader in Iraq and who wrote a beautifully haunting book of poetry called Here, Bullet. When we were hanging out afterward, he clapped me on the back and said he thought what I was doing was important and he couldn’t understand why more people weren’t writing about the war. That was a great affirmation for me.

In fact the “Iraq war battleground at home” had not been “neglected entirely.” Noah Cicero wrote about it in an accomplished short novel The Human War published in 2003; Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint was published in 2004; and my own novel Homefront was first [self] published with other fiction in January 2005 after not being picked up by a publisher through the end of 2003 and 2004.

Continue reading Benjamin Percy, “Refresh, Refresh,” and Iraq war fiction

Ishmael Reed – The Terrible Twos

Ishmael Reed, interview with Wajahat Ali:

I predicted there would be a theocracy in the 80’s in my book The Terrible Twos, where I had a preacher running the White House in 1982.

You see, I think when you’re an independent intellectual you’re going to get it from all sides. I get it from the Left, the Right, the Middle. When I proposed that people said it was silly, but now we have Huckabee and Bush, and others. I mean they’re all still players. But, when I said it, they thought it was silly.

As the World Burns – progressive graphic novel

“Two of America’s most talented activists team up to deliver a bold and hilarious satire of modern environmental policy in this fully illustrated graphic novel. The US government gives robot machines from space permission to eat the earth in exchange for bricks of gold. A one-eyed bunny rescues his friends from a corporate animal testing laboratory. And two little girls figure out the secret to saving the world from both of its enemies (and it isn’t by using energy-efficient light bulbs or biodiesel fuel). As the World Burns will inspire you to do whatever it takes to stop ecocide before it’s too late.”

World War 3 Illustrated Anthology

Drawing Contusions: A Review of the Latest World War 3 Graphic Novel

Hueso Taveras in The Indypendent reviews the most recent World War 3 Illustrated anthology:

While most comics anthologies like Mome and Drawn and Quarterly aim for diverse and multicultural content, World War 3 Illustrated has consistently provided a breadth unmatched even by contemporary publishers. For their latest anthology, Facts on the Ground, the collective culled stories from around the world, including Baghdad, Johannesburg and El Salvador. As the title suggests, most are first-hand accounts, featuring everyday folks up against institutionalized corruption.

The first comic, by writer and Voices in the Wilderness activist Cathy Breen with artist Edowyn Vazkez, illustrates a letter by an Iraqi woman and the daily perils she faces in occupied Baghdad. Peter Kuper captures the complicated and sordid story of last year’s Oaxaca teachers’ strike and their battle with the state’s murderous, corrupt governor — which ended with the death of numerous people, including journalist Brad Will — in his firsthand mixed-media account “Oaxaca.”

Continue reading World War 3 Illustrated Anthology

The First Great Work of American Culture Inspired by the Iraq War?

Title, above, of a long skimming post at Daily Kos.

Video of Steve Earle’s referenced City of Immigrants.

Some corrective remarks, in my view, regarding the assessment of Three Kings: John Pilger’s view in Hollywood Hurrah.

Lists of Iraq and Afghanistan war fiction – novels, graphic novels, plays, film and video – also, nonfiction.

Upton Sinclair, Oil!, There Will Be Blood

Detailed overview of Upton Sinclair and his novel Oil! in relation to the recent film There Will Be Blood:

The usual rule among movie people is that better films are made from mediocre books than from great ones: so Francis Ford Coppola came up with a better version of The Godfather than Mario Puzo. The theory, though, is challenged by this year’s Oscar nominations for best picture. The Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, an exceptional film, derives from a novel by Cormac McCarthy that is at least very good. And Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, a masterpiece, is adapted from Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, which, though not one of the greatest works of American literature or even one of Sinclair’s best books, is exceptionally impressive.

The Powerful Art of Polemics and Other Political Films

Caryn James

Not so long ago, the documentary feature category was among the snooziest at the Oscars, the target of jokes that said you couldn’t lose by making a film about the Holocaust. That backward-looking pattern began to morph when Michael Moore won the 2002 award with “Bowling for Columbine,” and exploded with last year’s win for Al Gore’s one-man show, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Odd though it sounds, Michael Moore and Al Gore have made the image of documentaries – O.K., maybe not sexy, but hot.

This year all five nominees are politically charged, four are about war, and amazingly, only one feels like homework. Spurred by global conflict and by technology that allows filmmakers to turn out movies in months rather than years, these works carry urgent messages. With their pointed arguments, though, this year’s nominees also raise an inescapable question: Can they have any real political impact?

They try in extremely varied ways. Mr. Moore’s “Sicko” is wildly comic while tearing apart the country’s health care system. Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side,” about American abuses of prisoners in the war on terror, is eloquent.

And even the less artistic films vividly present the faces and voices of people who have witnessed some of today’s most anguishing conflicts. Continue reading The Powerful Art of Polemics and Other Political Films

Kwani? – “Kenya’s first literary journal”

From the site:

Kwani Trust was established in 2003. It is dedicated to nurturing and developing Kenya’s and Africa’s intellectual, creative and imagination resources through strategic literary interventions.

Nairobi – New York – Chicago


Featuring four writers; four unique voices in a tranquil outdoor setting:

Simiyu Barasa
Parselelo Kantai
Charles A. Matathia
Prof Wambui Mwangi

Blending both fiction and non-fiction, these writers will bring a literary eye to bear on the Kenyan psyche in the wake of violent and troubled times.

Karl Wenclas, The CIA, The Paris Review, Ray Carver

Wenclas comments at his weblog

1.) Did the CIA give a “flying fuck” about the Paris Review? I’d say yes. After all, it was their money which created the publication!

2.) Their agenda was served by presenting an internationally credible journal (“Paris” Review) which presented a liberal– not radical– example of American literature.

Recall what the trend in American letters and American criticism had been before 1950. Socially active writing was strongly on the march.

(A better journal to look into is Partisan Review, once an organ for the likes of Philip Rahv, which in its later days became the home of neocons! How did this happen? We know that Partisan Review was another which received CIA funds.)

Raymond Carver is the perfect example of how the trend in literature, firmly in place by the 70’s, put there by the likes of Paris Review, had working class writers like Ray Carver– supposed icon of the working class– writing “minimalist” work which a Susan Minot and other trust-funders could model their own work after! Amazing, really. Working class art– but find in Carver’s published work much on the job, or unions, or strikes, or the boss, or anger. Not there. Why was this?

Missing are POLEMICS– the polemics of American writing of the Thirties and Forties.

Continue reading Karl Wenclas, The CIA, The Paris Review, Ray Carver

Novels of Social Protest and Cry, the Beloved Country

Critical Essays:

Public opinion seldom is changed by great bulky books of statistics and figures, charts and graphs because the message does not reach most people, as Steinbeck pointed out concerning The Grapes of Wrath. The story of one man or of a small group of people has far more effect on people than any number of essays. The reader comes to understand and identify with this man and his problems, hopes, and dreams.

Orhan Pamuk with Carol Becker

Orhan Pamuk:

I would say the literary globalization of the world had been completed years ago, when nobody was talking about globalization. With this, I imply that the art of the novel is well and kicking and that everyone from all over the world has access to and is using it. It is now a common heritage of humanity. It has what I would call an intense elasticity in that it can absorb national problems and represent national dramas, so that you can use and impose your particular understanding of this form into your corner of the world, or discuss your national debate, whatever it is, such that it will hold the nation together, because it is a text that everyone can argue with. Let me give you an example: I wrote Snow, a political novel, thinking everybody would be angry, and, yes, everyone was angry; but everyone was also reading, discussing and talking about it. I think the art of the novel, as a form, is one of the great arts humanity has developed that has continuity, that changes and survives. Over the last twenty years, we have witnessed a return to the 18th century Diderot kind of novel, which is a form that combines essays and novels together. Actually, I consider myself a sort of a representative of that “encyclopedic” novel. In other words, you can put anything into novels; novels are encyclopedias. Mallarmé’s words to that effect say that in the end, everything in the world, for the imaginative novelist or imaginative literary person, is in fact made to end up in a book. That’s how I see the world as well, because I am a novelist, and I care about the informative, encyclopedic quality of the novel.

New Works at Liberation Lit

Interrogation – by Mahmud Rahman

The boys are processed through my station here on the banks of the Jamuna.

They think they are so smart. They try to rob a bank. To raise money for the struggle, they say. Or they attempt to snatch a policeman’s rifle. To collect weapons for their people’s army, they say. The adaptable ones – those with the rural equivalent of what might be called ‘street smarts’ elsewhere – don’t get caught easily. But I would estimate that as many as eight out of ten of the others do. With few exceptions, they are from what we call ‘good families.’ Children who grew up in privilege in the city. Why they think they can survive in the villages – swimming like fish in the sea, they quote Mao – I will never know. To me, they look like fish out of water.

When I say boys, I do mean boys. I am only responsible for those who are under sixteen. That is my charge from the ministry: to interview the youngest prisoners and choose who qualifies for rehabilitation.

By the time the boys face me, the constables have already knocked some sense into their skulls. But I have made it clear to my superiors that I shall not have my hands dirtied with that job. I have even managed to get them to agree that the prisoners will be given a bath before I see them. I do not want to see any signs of blood.



  • Cartoons – by Carol Simpson
  • A Message From The American Corporate Plutocracy – by Paul Street
  • Ode to Man and War’s End – by Kim Jensen
  • Nigerian Freedom Fighters and Zapatista – by Kim Alphandary