On Kubrick’s alleged dual narratives and hidden messages in ‘The Shining’

September 23, 2012

Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining is a masterpiece. I think most serious film scholars, critics, and fans agree with that. But one aspect of the film that is highly debatable is the popular notion that Kubrick layered hidden messages or even whole dual narratives into the film. And many of the speculations about the meaning of these hidden messages happen to revolve around conspiracy theories.

The weird speculative theories about hidden messages in the film is the subject of a recent documentary called “Room 237” that I have not yet seen, and until recently, I was totally unaware this was even a thing. It first came to my attention earlier this year when I came across an article linking to a series of YouTube videosthat begin as if they’re objective analyses of the film, but ultimately reveal analyst Rob Ager’s true agenda late in the series when Ager eventually stops talking about The Shining altogether in favor of straight propaganda promoting his crazy gold-standard conspiracy theory. If I made a video analyzing, say, Citizen Kane that lasted the better part of an hour, and devoted at least a quarter of that analysis making a political argument about the evils of capitalism or whatever bullshit political theme I supposedly pulled from subtle symbolism in the film, and did so to the point that I stopped even mentioning the film Citizen Kane at all, you’d be right to not take me seriously.

Other than the whole gold standard thing, there are numerous other wacky interpretations of The Shining out there, as the New York Times article about Room 237 linked to above alluded to, like the theory that Kubrick worked in a hidden confession about having played a part in faking the moon landing. Some others, like the Native American slaughter motifs and Kubrick’s concerns over the Holocaust even made it onto the film’s Wikipedia page.

So is the film The Shining REALLY ABOUT Stanley Kubrick’s veiled confession of the part he played in faking the moon landing?

Is it about the slaughter of the Native Americans?

Is it about how the sinister elite plotted to rid America of the gold standard (the one true currency…somehow)?

In one word:  NO.

I know the weird iconography in the film has led many pattern-seeking people to go anomaly hunting and find all sorts of alleged “hidden meanings” in The Shining, but it’s just a product of the psychological phenomena known as pareidolia. We’re driven to see patterns, particularly when presented with ambiguous stimuli such as amorphous shapes. This is why it’s easier to see images in things like clouds than in most other things we might be looking at. It’s this pattern-seeking tendency that allows us to see coherent objects and subjects from the millions of pixels in films to begin with. If Kubrick did have hidden messages in The Shining, it almost certainly had nothing to do with the gold standard or the slaughter of Native Americans, etc. It’s just a great film by a master artist that happens to be full of weird, ambiguous imagery and dialogue that can be endlessly analyzed and used to find almost any interpretation the viewer is looking for. It’s like Yoda’s cave; what you find is ultimately what you brought in with you.

Further reading about the documentary Room 237 from Aint It Cool News’ critics Quint and Nording.

Advertisements

Bill Donohue reveals himself to be one of the Three Stooges, the dumb one

April 13, 2012

Bill Donohue‘s in the news again. And surprise, surprise. He’s OUTRAGED about something in the media. So what trite and meaningless target has he picked this time? It’s the new comedy film The Three Stooges, because it features a sexy nun character in a swimsuit and Larry David’s portrayal of a nun character. Whether David plays some sort of male nun or whether he’s supposed to be playing some hideous-looking female nun, I don’t know because I haven’t seen the movie due to its looking really stupid. Though now that I know Bill Donohue doesn’t like it, I might just buy a ticket after all.

So why do I bother to give this sickening pile of excrement more of that attention he desperately craves? Well, because it gives me another excuse to post my favorite audio clips of Donohue applying for the role of worst person in the world. In the following two clips, we hear Donohue on a radio show passionately defend nothing short of mass child rape.

Donohue tries every trick in the book and it all goes so horribly bad for him because he happens to be talking with someone who was themselves a victim of rape by a Catholic priest and who is incredibly well versed in the damning report of abuse in Ireland schools.

We hear Donohue deny the undeniable facts and make up a host of his own, followed by him being called out on his repulsive lies and truly despicable attempts to re-frame the whole scandal to paint the rapists as the true victims while painting the child victims of rape as greedy liars who made up their accusations. And when it’s pointed out to Donohue that even Catholic Church officials themselves have accepted more responsibility for these atrocities than Donohue is willing to allow, he actually insists that the Church is lying because they’ve been “beaten down” by some phantom media conspiracy to destroy the Catholic Church. If ever there were more proof that Donohue is a committed fanatic, that’s got to be it. To actually deny even the involvement that the Church itself has admitted to and suggesting the very people who would have the most to lose from admitting guilt are lying—that’s just bonkers!

The spokesman for Fox did an excellent job of responding to Donohue’s complaints about The Three Stooges film:

Fox disagreed that Three Stooges diverges from the original series. “The movie, in keeping with the spirit of the original TV show and its stars, is a broad, slapstick comedy,” a Fox spokesperson said.

“As the Stooges have proved over time, laughter is a universal medicine. The nuns that Mr. Donohue alludes to, are in fact, caring, heroic characters in the movie, albeit within the framework of a very broad comedy,” the spokesperson continued. “And as far as the nun attire, I think we did the audinece a favor by letting Kate Upton wear the nun-kini rather than Larry David — it could have gone either way. We invite you to see the movie and decide for yourselves.”

So let’s be clear here. Child rape is a-ok with Bill Donohue, but dressing a nun character in a sexy swimsuit is UNACCEPTABLE! Way to prioritize, Bill.

Enhanced by Zemanta

‘Politichicks’ – proof of a right-wing conspiracy against the right-wing

November 16, 2011

Victoria JacksonHave you seen this new talk show, Politichicks? It’s apparently right-wing America’s answer to The View, which already had several right-wingers. This new show doesn’t bother having another opinion on it; just four ultra-conservative gals, including tragic brain-damage victim Victoria Jackson, talking smack about them damned, dirty homosexuals, Muslims, and liberals who’ve persecuted them, preventing them from having their own unoriginal talk shows where they can bitch about how much they’re forbidden from bitching about stuff.

And holy shit is it both endlessly entertaining…and informative! Did you know that every terrorist that ever lived was a Muslim? Timothy McVeigh? Muslim. Guy Fawkes? Muslim. Carlos The Jackel? Muslim. Samuel Adams? Muslim. Hans Gruber? Muslim. Yup. Every terrorist ever was Muslim. It’s not even possible to be a terrorist unless you’re Muslim. You learn that and many other equally amazing facts on Politichicks:

Wow! Just wow! You’ve got to be shitting me! C’mon, this is a Poe, right? It’s GOT to be! These “chicks” hate Islam more than Salmon Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali combined and for reasons not nearly as reasonable. Far be it from me to defend Islam, but my criticisms of Islam at least pertain to actual aspects of Islam. Victoria Jackson and company don’t even seem to know the first thing about it. And the few almost halfway legitimate reasons they cite are criticisms that can just as easily be applied to Christianity, the very definition of a death-worshiping religion. The whole thing is one big celebration of human sacrifice and Christians often carry the instrument of that sacrifice around their necks as a symbol of that sacrifice.

But maybe I shouldn’t bother criticizing this show since the biggest victims here are conservatives themselves who should find it and Victoria Jackson’s child-like mind (at one point, she actually repeats an expression her dad taught her ala Adam Sandler’s character in Waterboy) to be a complete embarrassment to all that they stand for. I know for a fact that there are right-wing conservatives far smarter and more coherent than these simpletons. This is beyond pathetic and so, as a mostly liberal progressive, I hope this show lasts longer than Saturday Night Live. May everything that’s fundamentally wrong with right-wing America continue to be represented by nitwits like Victoria Jackson:

PS: Yes, I know that Hans Gruber wasn’t technically a terrorist but more of a high tech thief under the guise of a terrorist but I couldn’t think of the name of any good movie terrorists, so sue me.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pat Robertson gives mixed messages

June 28, 2011

I’m confused here. I thought God was supposed to be destroying the world anyway . And isn’t that supposed to be the great happy ending to Robertson’s fairytale belief? Why is he now suggesting it’s a bad thing?


Commitment to vocabulary sanctity is not a virtue

June 25, 2011

One of my sister’s Facebook friends had a very interesting response to her status applauding the New York Senate’s  decision to legalize gay marriage. He opposed the decision, not on any moral or religious grounds, but purely on the grounds that it changes the definition of a word.

Now normally I might remove names to protect the innocent, as they say on Filmspotting. But since bigotry is a sensitive subject for me, I’m feeling  in an LT. Aldo Raine kind of mood and so I don’t care if people know his name.

So after my brother commented that religion is the primary motivation in opposing same-sex marriage and  there really is no sane reason why anyone should be against allowing other people to marry, here’s what Mr. Leonard Wilder said:

Sure there is a sane reason, and it’s not based on religion. No where in the written recorded history of any western or European based society will you find that the definition of marriage was anything but the union of a man and woman, irr…espective of religion, class or wealth. This definition was as firm as the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Now, all of a sudden, because of political jockeying , I am now being told by the government that our way of thinking is wrong and that marriage also includes the union of same sex couples. If same sex couples wish to live together, etc that is their business. I see no reason why the government has to put the title of “marriage” to that arrangement. The definition remained unchanged for thousands of years and should remain as such. With that said, we will have to agree to disagree.

To which I responded thusly:

And nowhere in the recorded history of any western or European based society will you find that the definition of marriage was anything but a property agreement for exclusive sexual access to the woman until about 200 years ago. And no where in the written recorded history of any western or European based society will you find that the definition of marriage was anything but the union of a white man and white woman or black man and black woman until the 20th century. You don’t know what you’re talking about and the fact that you value traditional definitions of words over civil rights and human happiness says little of your character. The U.S. Constitution defines black Americans as 3/5 of a white American. You think we should maintain that definition too? And nowhere in the recorded history of any western or European based society will you find that the definition of “web” was anything other than the thing that spiders make until the birth of the World Wide Web in the 1990’s. I guess we can’t allow that either. I’m sorry you have such a problem with the fact that the English language evolves over time. I suggest you stick to Latin then because the English language will continue to change without your personal consent whether you like it or not.
Then came Leonard Wilder’s rebuttal:
I did not know that Perez Hilton was “in the house”. Good thing I’m not running for Miss USA! Oh wait, I cannot; I’m a guy. I would not be allowed to chase that dream so maybe I should mount a constitutional challenge or better yet, contribute to the campaign of those NY Senators who were forced to vote against their conscience. Whatever the rationale, the two of you have inadvertently proved my point: for whatever reason the marriage was entered into (political, financial, religious or love) , MARRIAGE has been the union of one man and …one woman (excepting polygomy). Now I agree that the role of race, especially in the US determined who can marry who. However, the fundamental definition of marriage always remained the same. Now various states are calling the union of same sex couples a marriage. That is a sham. Let me ask, if the NY Legislature passed a resolution that said the moon Landing never occurred should I believe them? Of course not. In addition I do not look at this as a civil rights issue. I’m not advocating taking away human rights. If homosexuals wish to enter into formal arrangements, legal or otherwise that is their business. I’m just not sure why such an arrangement needs to be called a marriage.
So how did I respond to this load of total bullshit?
Let’s see. There’s false analogies, red herring arguments, non-sequiturs. The whole package. Not a single analogy you made even comes close to resembling the actual thing you’re criticizing. Broadening a term to expand a civil right to a marginalized class is not even in the same ball park as denying a historical event. They’re nothing alike and your arguments are as incoherent as saying that if Chewbacca came from Endor, gay marriage must be morally wrong. To call your comparisons apples and oranges would be the understatement of the eon. It’s more like comparing apples and neutrons.If you have a serious objection to marriage equality, I’m open to hearing it. But if all you’re going to do is try to mask bigoted insecurities with preposterously childish justifications like valuing vocabulary sanctity over human prosperity, you make it impossible for me to take you seriously. This nation was founded on notion that everyone…EVERYONE has a fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not on the principle of maintaining the purity of the master race of words. As I’ve already explained (and by all means fact-check me to your heart’s content), the definition of marriage you embrace is not much older than the one that includes unions of same-sex couples…which incidentally was added to the Merriam Websters Dictionary almost a decade ago. Further, it doesn’t take someone like myself who has actually studied the history of language and media to recognize the frequency in which the modern languages grow and change over time. Hell, this month alone, the Oxford English Dictionary added almost 2,000 new or revised entries.

Honestly, did you throw this much of a hissy fit when they they added the word, “D’oh” to the dictionary, spitting in the face of centuries of bakery tradition, or is your righteous indignation merely reserved for those cases where those words lead to real world public policies that benefit classes of people you personally dislike?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Obama Birther logic

April 26, 2011

Michael Shermer attempts to school Jesse Ventura on critical thinking

April 11, 2011
Governor Jesse Ventura

How could anyone think he was presenting himself as a Navy SEAL?

Remember when Jesse Ventura represented progressive values and brought hope that sanity and rationality might one day be the norm in Washington… way back around the turn of the millennium? Yeah, it’s been awhile and a lot’s changed. Particularly Jesse Ventura.

9/11 changed a lot of people. It caused many people to better appreciate what they have, grow more compassionate, and become generally better people. Though sadly, it caused at least as many people to become all-consumed by fear and retreat into darker versions of themselves. One such example of this is Comedian (or former comedian?) Dennis Miller, who has spent the last decade as an apologist for Bush-era policies and a frequent contributor on Fox News.

But perhaps no public figure has shown a more significant transformation into the heart of darkness following the events of 9/11 more than Jesse Ventura, who now hosts a television show devoted to promoting just about every popular grand conspiracy imaginable. Ventura now regularly rails against “the government” and “the media,” blaming these powers that be for every evil under the sun…and a few over it. Though I did always find it odd that as an employee of Time Warner himself, Ventura sees no plot hole in the fact that he’s literally being paid by one of the very agencies he indicts to propagate what he considers to be their sinister hidden agenda when one would think it’d be Time Warner’s goal to silence him.

In any event though, Ventura’s got a new book pushing his kooky conspiracies and he’s got to move merchandise, so he went on NPR where he briefly debates Michael Shermer on 9/11 conspiracy stuff. Unfortunately, he never gave Shermer a real chance to respond uninterrupted, so the final result is only a so-so performance from Shermer.

But of course all of Ventura’s claims are old news and have been debunked ages ago. I’ve compiled some of the best 9/11 denialist debunking resources on the web here.

Now I’d like to say he’s only recently become an embarrassment but then again, he’s been passing himself off as a former Navy SEAL for a long, long time now even though he in fact never was a Navy SEAL, as is indicated on his Wikipedia page:

From September 11, 1969, to September 10, 1975, during the Vietnam War era, Ventura served in the United States Navy. While on active duty, Ventura was part of Underwater Demolition Team 12 (UDT).[4] The UDTs were merged with the US Navy SEALs in 1983, 8 years after Ventura had left the Navy.

Bill Salisbury, an attorney in San Diego and a former Navy SEAL officer, accused Ventura of “pretending” to be a SEAL and wrote that Ventura would be blurring an important distinction by claiming to be a SEAL when he was actually a frogman with the UDT. Compared to SEAL teams, UDTs saw less combat and took fewer casualties.[5][6][7] Following that, Governor Ventura’s office confirmed that Ventura was never a member of the SEALs. His spokesman stated that Ventura has never tried to convince people otherwise.[5] Ventura stated: “Today we refer to all of us as SEALs; that’s all it is.”[7]

I beg to differ. I can’t recall a single public appearance he’s made in the last decade where he didn’t mislead the viewers into thinking he was a former Navy SEAL. And while it’s a form of ad hominem to suggest that because he’s lied about one thing that that means we should assume he’s lying about something else, but the fact that he continues to perpetuate this myth that he was a former SEAL for the express purpose of garnering greater legitimacy itself seems to me to have the opposite effect and greatly diminish his credibility as an honest agent free of bias, especially when its paired with the host of logical fallacies he presents here. Just about every question he asked Shermer was a red herring argument, an argument from final consequences, an argument from ignorance, an argument from personal incredulity, or even an ad hominem in the case where he was quick to flat-out accuse Shermer of being a government apologist despite Shermer’s very, very well-known libertarian status (to quote the final line from Some Like It Hot, “Well, nobody’s perfect”).

Listening to Ventura today makes me cringe at the fact that I actually once respected this man. He’s an ideologue and denialist of the highest order who is impervious to reason. It’s one thing to not have time to bleed, Mr. Ventura, but at least take the time to think.

Enhanced by Zemanta