Saturday, June 16, 2012

Prometheus - a Facehugger of a film.

Eventually a film gets boiled down into one sentence (not the tag line that the studio wants, but the one that reviewers pick)
Alien was slow paced, haunted house in space.
Aliens was a rollercoaster ride of a Vietnam movie in space with Xenomorphs playing the part of the tough enemy that likes tunnels.

Prometheus will be "LOST in Space" already on thousands of review headlines, each pretending to be the one who came up with this original witty remark.

I'll add my own, probably also thought of by someone else, (I googled, found none yet, except another thread where I used it.) so here comes the cliché..

This is a FACEHUGGER of a film.

Just like being attacked and impregnated by one of those things, the 3-D prometheus jumps off the screen and its many tentacled plot lines grab on to your head in an unpleasant manner.
It is a bit of a shock to the system, it's uncomfortable.
It plants a seed of a puzzle in you, which broke out, and now, you're here, on the internet 'still searching' as one of the characters says..

Ridley Scott has written a devious detailed story, that may only be a gripping experience for people who cannot handle something that has no sense, if it gives every indication that it SHOULD.

Have you ever seen "Cow Tools" by Gary Larson?


Coming out of the cinema part of me felt that this is me after cow tools -  looking for answers that the artist didn't put in. 

He was just trying to entertain, right. He didn't expect all the letters begging for answers.  
I don't think Prometheus is that simple, but I think Ridley Scott has fun with that notion. I suspect he was in part, trolling us. 

I think another comparison might be "Lost"... everyone keeps mentioning it, but it's a TV show, and I have no TV... so unable to comment beyond saying that it's very hard to keep a show going for that many series of confusing plot lines that somehow tie together, unless you are a genius or unless, you are using the "I HAVE to know what it MEANS" factor to keep them watching, and buying the DVD.

Anyhow, we all know Damon Lindelhof is the common factor between Lost and Prometheus... so what you thought of Lost might apply here. Either it really does explain it all on screen, or lets you dream up your own (as our minds tend to do) .

Some people are reading up on all types of mythology in MASSIVE detail...
Really the surface detail will do, enough to spot why you are being teased.
The film is full of red herrings, and almost nothing is conclusive.

You can watch to the end and think
"Wow, the believer was right, there is a god somewhere and she can fly off and find it" - These people need to remember James T Kirk's wisdom on this.

It is also possible to take a completely skeptical look and arrive at the conclusion  "Wow, she got people killed for nothing, including one which would have answered all her questions, and now she's seeking out some very bad people who probably care little about her need to know, and even less about philosophical debates" and there's no need for a sequel, because of the implied ending.

In every scene there is misdirection and multiple interpretations. It's a trap for the curious.

I'll spoil one commonly referenced scene -subject to hundreds of internet debates. 

Why did the biologist pet a space cobra, resulting in his death? he was scared of everything a few scenes earlier. You will find people arguing that "You don't understand, to a biologist, discovery is crucial" and others with the "who knows, who cares, people just do stuff" angle on it.
Some say it was because of all the biblical references, (a dramatic decapitation scene earlier one seems to be tailor written to 'fulfil" Leviticus 22:3 ... and this moon is called LV 223 geddit?)  
So applying that 'logic' that means Milburn died in the temple because of Leviticus 21:20.(which forbids those with a defect in their site approaching the altar.) Milburn wore spectacles. 
This apparently dooms people, just as surely as being anonymous and wearing a red shirt in Star Trek. And he was tempted by a snake... go figure. 
The least discussed option was much simpler. We have two very freaked out scientists stuck in a cave during a storm. the following discussion then takes place. 
Milburn : "Hey, is that tobacco in your respirator?"
Fifield : "Huh?"
Milburn : "Tobacco in your respirator?"
Fifield: "yeah... sure... tobacco."

It cuts to another scene and we never see any evidence on what to base it on, but it would seem that the reason for the mellow biologist is that they shared some weed and 'hotboxed' it in their suits. 

But that's just conjecture right?

Personally, I think it's very clever in many ways, make a film that perplexes people, but put in the draw of Ridley Scott visuals, great acting and the backdrop of the popular Alien universe... and then convulse their minds.

They will spend ages on the little puzzles of so many 'plot holes and unanswered questions' before it dawns on them. Someone is messing with your mind, partly for fun, I'm sure, and partly because of wanting the story to be something you have to think about to avoid the "hell of not knowing" Ridley Scott may be responsible for millions of sleep deprived geeks looking up Sumerian myths, and obscure books about UFO-nauts seeding Earth.

It might be just my interpretation, but for me the message of the film is be careful about jumping to unfounded conclusions. Either way you interpret the end, that is ultimately the cause of death for 15 people in this film.
Scientists who ignore the scientific method (no peer review, no consideration of alternative explanations, and a bias towards the ones that fit their desired outcome.)
A trillionaire who made his money from science, throwing it away because the thought of living forever appeals to him, as it's all that's missing from his god complex - he already 'made' 80 worlds through his terraforming and colony industries.
And people who trust these judgements end up dead, except for the one who started the theory, and an android who doesn't care if it's true and who isn't going to die of old age anyway.

As a stand alone sci fi film, if you didn't bother thinking about it. It's pretty decent, with some crazy plot holes, that you might later laugh at with your friends, but it delivers Space Jockeys, violence, chases, crashes and amazing visuals.

As a puzzle, it can keep you scratching your head for hours, if not days.
And it does seem that the 'plot holes' are in fact traps for our obsessive little minds.

If you're somewhere between popcorn escapism, and "I have to know the meaning of the scene with the reanimated head" obsession, you may have felt a bit let down by this film. After all, not everyone will enjoy being 'face-hugged' although some of us are masochistic enough to want a sequel.
But as I said, make of it what you will. The important thing is to be aware of why you reached that conclusion. The worst answer, if asked why you think it's great, terrible or 'meh' is "I choose to believe'. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The thin veneer of 'democracy' and Politicians calls for 'empowerment'.

When governments make unpopular decisions, there's always a spin doctor
to remind us that "it's a democracy", and we must accept the decisions of the elected government or vote them out in 5 years time.

That's a very thin veneer of democracy for 'the little people' not the 'big players'. 
Take for example the banks. Back in 2006, when it was known that we were already building far more houses than even the frenzied property bubble was buying up, the banks were still lobbying
heavily to get the regulations changed, so they could take even bigger and riskier gambles.
Some of the civil servants at the department of finance and staff in the financial regulator raised repeated concerns about this, but were over-ruled. The government published a bill in February 2007, and
passed in April 2007, just BEFORE the election. No empty election promises for this crowd. They got their changes without even trading a vote for it. So much for the 'currency of democracy' in Ireland.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Smoking ban or smokescreen? Beware the wedge issues that distract and divide.

What is a wedge issue?

A wedge issue is a clever distraction that is used to draw public attention away from a more serious issue.
They cause the public to spend time and energy arguing over a different topic, while the government continues to push ahead with unpopular policies.

A very recent example of this is the proposal to ban smoking in cars.  How many of you heard your local radio station discussing this, or saw articles about it in the paper, or were talking about it with colleagues or friends? The vast majority of you, right?  Why did this topic suddenly pop out of nowhere, while the country is going down the tubes and we're being hit by  cuts and charges?

Think about it, before the proposal to ban smoking in cars, if someone asked you to list the top 10 things that needed to be done to fix the country, would that ban even cross your mind?
If you got to Google News, and type in "Ireland smoking in cars" it returns over 13 MILLION results, from news articles in papers and radio websites across the english speaking world. And this is just a proposal.
Now type in 'rape crisis network ireland funding cut' and it returns 7 results. This is despite the fact that
their funding is in real danger of being cut off, and has only been extended by a short period.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Fine Gael's "chicken little" act doesn't add up.

Brian Hayes, junior minister for propoganda
Does this sound familiar "If we don't do this, we'll be out of the EU,
and we'll be back to the days when we had nothing

Nice? Lisbon? Yes, they trotted it out then, and before, and they are reheating this "chicken-little" scare tactic once more.

The latest is junior minister Brian Hayes telling us that we must
"clear the debts or go back under Britain's skirts."
Apart from the foolishness of playing the 'Britain card' so soon after
the visit of Lizzy Windsor, the threat was rubbish.
The Minister managed of course to present the only options as paying off all the debts, including those of the zombie banks, or leaving the euro, losing our sovereignty (as if it was being bravely defended now).
This is utter crap, which is nothing new from politicians, but it is also dangerous.
This country should not pay for bankers debts, and also CANNOT pay for them, not unless it is forever strung out, by 'deals' that piece by piece privatise everything possible, while reducing living standards to something similar to Poland or Turkey.   

Monday, July 25, 2011

Facebook as an activist tool - know the limits

Some of the best websites for free non-mainstream media (like have lost readers to sites like Facebook. While Facebook can connect you and let you post (theoretically) to large numbers of people, note that fewer people may see it than you think. Also, in order to get change done, we have to engage with people who do not already agree with us. Facebook filters can actually lead us into more closed circles with people who agree with us. And while I do agree that blogs and Facebook can be useful for activism, never forget that we must do more than be keyboard warriors, and  get out there in the real world with real people. 
Facebook and other online tools can be useful, if used correctly.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ireland in Debt. Hostage to fortune, or just plain hostage?

We have been repeatedly told that "we" lost the run of ourselves, that "we" all partied, blew the boom, and now "we" are dependent on the "kindness of strangers".

This is a dangerous lie, designed to make us feel guilt rather than justifiable anger at the banking crisis.

The banks didn't fall apart because of people not paying their home mortgages, it was their reckless lending to speculators, and over-borrowing from the bond markets that landed them in trouble.  It's nothing to do with the average John or Mary on the street, the vast majority of whom continue to pay their mortgages even in these tough times.

Irish Examiner
Most of the deficit is caused by the fact that we borrowed money to help out the banks. These banks borrowed ridiculous amounts of money from the bond market in order to lend it out to the property developers who didn't know when to stop.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fake choices, moving targets and diversions.

Some tricks to watch out for in opposing the cuts caused by the banking scam.

Fake Choices
In an attempt to fool people that 'we're all in this together' and that it's all above board and democratic, the government is providing us the opportunity to have some input into the public sector 'review' (also known as the big cuts, aka the 'tough decisions'.)

If you visit the website of the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, you will see that Minister Howlin has a nice new section where we can all play our part in planning the cuts.

While there certainly is plenty of waste to complain about (mostly a result of corruption, appointment of incompetent cronies who couldn't run a chip shop etc.) the emphasis is on "suggestions and proposals for making further savings, and for introducing reforms and efficiencies in spending programmes and in the design of delivery of public services."
The biggest current waste of money doesn't get a mention. There s no option for 'burning bondholders'... nor of course do they propose taxing the rich, nor increasing taxes on (or nationalising) the Corrib Gas field.
You can suggest this yourself by sening an e-mail to

They haven't moved into a full on "choose your punishment" question... yet.