Thursday, 27 July 2017

Episode Five: Mississippi Burning

Wrong With Authority, the podcast where four white guys talk about movies based on real historical events, returns... and this time we're talking about Mississippi Burning (1988), a travesty of the story of three civil rights workers - Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman - who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964 by the Klan/cops/state government (all essentially the same thing at that point).

Download our episode >>HERE<<

Beware triggers.  We're talking about vicious racism, hate-motivated violence and murder.  At one point in the episode, one of us reads out part of a historical document which contains the n-word.  We believe the context justifies its inclusion, but please be aware that it's there.  Jack made the decision to not bleep it out, and takes responsibility.  Also, we mention rape a couple of times - because it was an integral part of both Jim Crow and slavery.

The film focuses not on the Civil Rights workers, or the struggle, or the African Americans oppressed by Jim Crow (American Apartheid), but rather on the subsequent FBI investigation.  It portrays the FBI as a heroic organisation bursting with concerned liberals, but also as solving the case via maverick vigilante violence.  Systemic racism is effaced.  In other words, according to Mississippi Burning, black people are invisible, or are passive and cowardly; Civil Rights workers are foolhardy victims; and the problem is neatly solved by a benevolent establishment going righteously outside the law to punish the bad guys - bad apples who are bad because they're just inbred hicks.

With this episode, we're all acutely and especially aware of the structural flaws inherent in our show... i.e. we're all white guys.  This episode is, nonetheless, an attempt to grapple with the fact that WWA has, up til now, been heavily white-centric.  But we're inevitably going to underperform here.  We in no way wish to talk over PoC who are talking about issues like this.  We'll be happy to hear input and criticism.

[Jack here to add a personal note: I deliberately chose Mississippi Burning to address the overpowering whiteness of our subjects to date... which shows a fair bit of privilege and privilege-blindness on my part because a) Mississippi Burning isn't about African Americans, as mentioned... in fact, it is a film that thieves an African American story from African Americans, and b) I unthinkingly chose a story about African Americans suffering, and which portrays them as passive victims.  I'll try to do better in future.  I can only hope our critique of this film on these terms stands for something.]

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Some Links To Things Menioned in the Episode:

The Invention of the White Race by Theodore W. Allen.

We Are Not Afraid by Seth Cagin and Philip Dray.

I Am Not Your Negro - new documentary about James Baldwin.

The 13th - documentary based on The New Jim Crow.

Do The Right Thing - Spike Lee's classic.

The Butler

The Garrett video Jack mentions.

Here's the article written by Chris Gerolmo, Mississippi Burning screewriter.

A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle.

Shabcast 20, in which Jack and James talked religion, etc.


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Some Links to Other Interesting and Connected Things:

Here's information about the real case upon which the film is loosely based.

Here's Neshoba, a documentary about the case.

While searching for the bodies of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, the FBI found the bodies of two other black Mississippians murdered by the Klan, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee.

Here's a history and overview of the Klan, from the Southern Policy Law Centre.

Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan by David M. Chalmers.

At The Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America by Philip Dray

Here's some info about COINTELPRO, the FBI's covert criminal conspiracy to infiltrate, attack and destroy the American Left, and particularly African American leaders and the Civil Rights movement.

The Black Panthers and the FBI's war against them.

Here's Marx talking about the role of slavery in the rise of capitalism.



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The music in this episode is 'Strange Fruit' sung by Billie Holiday, 'Mississippi Goddamn' sung by Nina Simone, and 'A Change is Gonna Come' sung by Sam Cooke.

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Mississippi Burning (1988), d. Alan Parker; screenplay by Chris Gerolmo.  Starring Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, Stephen Tobolowsky, R. Lee Ermey, Michael Rooker, Gailard Sartain, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Kevin Dunn, and Badja Djola.



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"How long will we have to wait before Hollywood finds the courage and the integrity to tell the stories of some of the many thousands of black men, women and children who put their lives on the line for equality?" - Coretta Scott King, partner and widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.

"It was unfortunate that it was so narrow in scope that it did not show one black role model that today's youth who look at the movie could remember." - Myrlie Evers-Williams, partner and widow of Medgar Evers.

"a film that used the deaths of the boys as a means of solving the murders and the FBI being heroes." - Carolyn Goodman, mother of Andrew Goodman.

"... the image that younger people got (from the film) about the times, about Mississippi itself and about the people who participated in the movement being passive, was pretty negative and it didn't reflect the truth." - Ben Chaney Jnr., brother of James Chaney.

"[a] terribly dishonest and very racist [film that] distorts the realities of 1964" - Stephen Schwerner, brother of Michael Schwerner.

 - via Wikipedia

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¡No PasarĂ¡n!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Footnote #1: Zodiac

A little extra treat for our devoted listeners.  A bonus 'mini' episode (by which I mean it's only 2hrs 40), featuring just Daniel and Jack talking about the 2007 David Fincher movie Zodiac.

Download >>HERE<<

As usual, watch out for SPOILERS and TRIGGERS.

We may occasionally produce irregular 'footnote' episodes such as these. 

The so-called 'Zodiac' was a serial killer who haunted San Francisco and its environs in the late 60s and early 70s, and who was never caught or identified.  The movie is based on Robert Graysmith's best-selling book about the case, and purports to tell both Graysmith's own story and to (maybe) unmask the killer.  Listen to find out what Daniel thinks about these claims.

This episode is a compliment to a forthcoming episode of the They Must Be Destroyed On Sight! podcast (on which Daniel is also a co-host), which will also look at Zodiac, probably from a different standpoint.  Be sure to check that out, along with TMBDOS generally.

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Zodiac, 2007, directed by David Fincher, written by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith.  Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jnr., Mark Ruffalo, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox, and John Carroll Lynch.


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Episode Notes:

Main Topic: Zodiac (2007). But first, a thirteen minute riff on superhero movies. Token. Is Jack the Zodiac? Aren't we all the Zodiac? Unsolved mysteries. "Curtain rods everybody." Not to interrupt. Jack projects. General thoughts of the film. Fincher as director. Quality pastiche. Empty. JFK versus Zodiac. "The look." The radian theory. Pattern-seeking behavior. Marrying Chloe Sevigny. No social turmoil. Daniel pours a beer. Misogynist Zodiac Killer. Daniel projects. DNA. The guilt of Arthur Leigh Allen. Lingering fascination with history. Ferrin and the painting party. Two previous victims. Avery's discovery of a possible Zodiac victim. Missing evidence. Evidence presented by the film. 1978 letter not real. ALA lived near the IHOP? Ferrin trying to get weed. Ferrin's humanity. Inaccuracies in the opening sequence. Verisimilitude. Fake docudrama. "Graysmithed." A Current Affair. Toschi the camera hog. Searching the trailer. Not a good guy. The Dick Cheney joke doesn't land. Graysmith is always wrong. An aside about Steven Knight. Paranoid Graysmith. Fleischer as Vaughn. Papering over mistakes. Gay porn. Alt-right and the serial killer. The trailer search. Why the fascination? Displaced interest in history. Prickle and salaciousness. Puzzles and connections. Storytelling as justice. The ciphers. Serious droopy. Escalation. Earlier victims? Paul Avery. Handwriting. Ambidextrous. Seven versus Zodiac. Figures of intense anxiety. Looking for a black guy. Johnnie Cochran reference. Daniel pours another beer. In the past. Pitiful. Pepe the Zodiac. Infodump education. Murderous retail. Police files. Siding with Graysmith. Wallace Penny/Penny Wallace. Reading Graysmith? Faces in the dark. Gay Ellroy. The ending. Graysmith the hero. The poster. Wrapping Up.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Episode Four: The Wolf of Wall Street & The Big Short

Wrong With Authority returns with the last episode in our first cycle, this time hosted by Kit.  It's a two-part episode this time, because... well... it's a long one.  But please stick with it, because it's a great show and we're all proud of it.  And we sweated blood over it.  Seriously, it's been a bastard, this one.  It's our Apocalypse Now.  A huge, bloated monster that has left a trail of nervous breakdowns in its path.

Downloads: PART 1 & PART 2

As ever, beware spoilers, and also beware triggers.  (Seriously, this one contains discussion of scenes of sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug use, racism, etc.)

Our movies this time are...

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Martin Scorsese's biopic of human garbage con-man Jordan Belfort, based on his two autobiographical book-type objects.  Written by Terence Winter.  Starring Leonardo "Sprout-Face" DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Rob Reiner, Joanna Lumley, and Kyle Chandler.




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The Big Short (2015), the fictionalised movie version of Michael Lewis' book about how and why the financial crash of 2007-08 happened, and the gaggle of Wall Street guys who saw it coming, and heroically set about profiting from it.  Directed by Adam McKay, and written by McKay and Charles Randolph.  Starring Christian Bale, Steven Carell, Ryan Gosling, Marissa Tomei, Melissa Leo, and Brad Pitt.  And featuring celebrity cameos from Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, Selena Gomez and, er, Richard Thaler.





Thursday, 2 March 2017

Episode Three: Shadow of the Vampire & Gods and Monsters

Wrong With Authority is back from the dead, hosted by James this time, with an episode looking at two movies about the creators of classic horror cinema.

Download >>here<<

As ever, beware spoilers, and also one or two possible triggers.

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Shadow of the Vampire (2000) is the fictionalised story of genius director F.W. Murnau, actor Max Schreck, and the making of classic silent horror Nosferatu, but with a twist...  


Directed by E. Elias Merhige, written by Stephen Katz, and starring John Malkovich, Willem Defoe, Caroline McCormack, Udo Kier, Eddie Izzard, and Cary Elwes.  

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Gods and Monsters (1998) is the fictionalised story of the last days in the life of James Whale, the director of classic Universal horror films, including Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.  


Directed and written by Bill Condon, based on the novel Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram, and starring Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave and Lolita Davidovitch.  

Monday, 30 January 2017

Episode Two: A Beautiful Mind & The Imitation Game

This time, Wrong With Authority covers two movies about mathematicians!  'A Beautiful Mind' (Russell Crowe as John Nash) and 'The Imitation Game' (Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing).  High-octane excitement!  Sex!  War!  Espionage!  Madness!  Equations!  Inexplicable impromptu pen-giving ceremonies!


Download or listen >>>HERE<<<.

This being Daniel's episode, effort has been put in, which means there are show notes:

Main Topic: A Beautiful Mind and The Imitation Game. Mathematics, male homosexuality, and mental illness. Three. Four Oscars. A Woody Allen digression. Synopsis. Content Warning. Spy movie. Boringly. Serious Oscar Bait. Drained of challenge. Not about John Nash. The Sixth Sense Thing. Twenty. Positive. "Shit's about to get real." A Dick recommendation. Cure with love. Fucks it up both ways. Not about math. Willpower and medication. A personal failing. A proper ubermensch. Medication and mathematics. Unaging little girl. Amorous. Visceral. Bird in a cage. Low tactics. Nicer. Transformed details. Illegitimate. Studio interference? Sincerity. Exactly two black people. Crowe's performance. Trousers and briefcases. Crowe versus Bale. Save the cat. Lesser mortals and charm. Mainstream audiences. Hogwarts. Attempting to explain the Nash equilibrium. Adam Smith was wrong. "Well, actually..." Nash's reaction to the film. Alicia Larde. The Phantom. If John Nash were black.... Anti-semitic? Preordained. An extended riff about pens. A Philip Glass Interlude. Moving on to The Imitation Game. Alright. Biopics kinda suck. The "Fuck Your Machine" bullshit. Epic fail. Ideologically opposed to fun. Writing ourselves into history. Midwesteners feel icky. Progressive and tolerant. Tumblr fodder. The inverse Nash equilibrium. Cumberbatch skeptic. Sheldon. Moments. Not neurodivergent. Gas masks and tissues. Barely closeted. 20% effort. Factual errors. William Goldman. Sidetracking onto Boogie Nights. Foundational WWII. A Ghost in the Machine. Secrecy. Not a traditional marriage. Implication of treachery. William Tutte. Swords into plowshares. "The lovely girls." Glorification. Burning of books. Cryptonomicon. German infallibility. Believing the hype. Jack has no thoughts. Big picture Cold War. Reaganesque machismo. "Nothing to eat but guns." Keystone Kops and intelligence operations. "It is now." Mornington Crescent. Double consciousness. Autism as alibi. Different people. Non-dualist, non-vitalist. Christopher. Capturing human intelligence in a machine. Indictment. Next week on the Alan Turing show. Nice but then. Commodities. Clever. Fake tits. Different people. Joan Clarke, physicist. Always more interesting. Forever World War II. Platonic and nontraditional friendships. The Easy Rider ending. Suicide? A damp squib. Reaching for a reference. As crazy as Stone. Snowglobes and superbrains. Why sanitized? Keeping Calm and Carrying On. Finally, Trump. Also, the USSR doesn't exist anymore. Old intelligence. The cold shoulder. Manpain. Churchill and moral ambiguity. Because fuck Isaac Newton. Wrapping Up