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Glenn Beck’s buddy Malcolm Gladwell was on the “New Yorker” podcast recently, talking about his review of a book about notorious Cold War double agent Kim Philby. Listen to the first half, and it all seems reasonable enough - Gladwell explains how the work done by Philby and his ilk never resulted in that much of an advantage for the Soviet Union, while the climate of distrust in the West lead to McCarthy in the US and a similiar witch hunt conducted by MI5 officla Peter Wright in the UK during Harold Wilson’s government. “McCarthy was bad” is hardly a controversial stance to take, but it is also true.
Move on to the second part of the podcast, though, and something very strange starts happening. Gladwell uses the McCarthy and Wright examples to construct a typically reductive and business-speak-style vacuous spectrum, where relations are either “high trust” or “low trust” - British society, Gladwell argues, should for example have trusted Harold Wilson enough not to suspect him of communism. “Can this logic be applied in other areas?” the interviewer asks; Gladwell is happy to oblige. The General Motors faulty ignition scandal, and indeed the lawsuit against Toyota for producing cars with vehicle acceleration problems, are examples of Low Trust being deposited in entities that, Gladwell argues, are absolutley deserving of our High Trust. “General Motors in 2014 is not in the business of killing its costumers” the author blurts, raging against a ridicolous strawman to muddle the conversation - as if anyone thought of this scandal as GM going on some sort of Dexter style rampage and not just caring more about its profits than it does about human lives (and if you think you can’t have the former if you’re ruining the latter then you’re really underrating the corporate PR machine - one of whose apologists you are hearing on the very podcast under discussion). In a High Trust society, what would we do? Pat GM and Toyota on the back and say “you’ve produced unsafe products and knowing this put them on the marketplace, we get it, so much stuff to do, you just didn’t get around to it, we still trust you, TGIF eh?”.
Welcome to Malcolm Gladwell’s world - a place where cutesy systematizing and eyebrow-raising contrarianism combine to create a spirited defense of our corporate overlords, all under the guise of soothing, middlebrow liberal thought, safe for the “New Yorker” and for a Stephen Fry “Guardian” interview. Listen to Gladwell’s kindly professor voice, let yourself be lulled by his friendly tone, and half an hour later, wake up to find that you’ve just listened to someone tell you that if you think McCarthy was bad then you should think lawsuits against corporations are bad, too.
Talk about your con artists.
Le mani sulla città.
Calgacus, Caledonian cheiftan (from modern day Scotland), on the Romans. Quoted in Agricola by Tacitus. (via concepthuman)
Plus ça change.
Indie music has its Brian Wilson fixation, Indie cinema has its Intimate Dramas and Social Realism; Indie gaming has 8-bit aesthetics and sidescrollers. While the return to a less aggro and less self-serious era of gaming wasn’t the worst starting premise, the aesthetic quickly calcified to a degree that it became as opressive and predictable as that of state-of-the-art mainstream gaming. There is something deeply reactionary in this longing for the platformers of yore, something manchildish about holding up the games of one’s youth as the definitive Gold Standard of what the medium should aspire to. And while mainstreaming gaming’s focus on photorealistic graphics, sub-Hollywood blockbuster storytelling and general douchebaggery is certainly disheartening, it is at least trying to move the medium forward instead of tolerating nothing but slight tweaks of an ancient formula.
(This insight brought to you by 2008)
(Also I’m currently in the middle of playing Sonic Adventure - again - so who the hell am I to judge?)
Is there no situation terrible enough that we cannot appropriate it for sappy Hollywood One Man Dares Speak Up narratives and cynical clickbait capitalism?
White Feminist Science Fiction as Cinéma Verité, or what else is fuckin’ new: vulnerable white girl aesthetically brutalized at the hands of stock character Asian crime mobsters (apparently in Taipei, but the boss seems to be played by Choi Min-sik,…
I mean sure this is Luc Besson who has always been known to be dumber than a bag of hammers and only just smart enough to be able to pass this off as self-conscious tongue-in-cheekyness, but this analysis still goes hard.
‘Township Funk’ by DJ Mujava
This classic’s been showing up on random mixes and sets for me lately. Total belter.
hey dragon. you’re not supposed to be here.
Conception of Alexander the Great, Les faize d’Alexandre (translation of Historiae Alexandri Magni of Quintus Curtius Rufus), Bruges ca. 1468-1475.
British Library, Burney 169, fol. 14r