Superman Stands Up to the Corporate Media

MEDIA ROOTS – Standing for “truth, justice, and the American way” just took a giant leap into the twenty-first century with Clark Kent leaving the Daily Planet newspaper. In next week’s issue, to be released by DC Comics, Clark is expected to stand up in front of staff and mourn how mainstream “journalism has given way to entertainment,” according to the comic’s writer Scott Lobdell. He continues to explain how the superhero’s alter ego will now “start speaking an unvarnished truth” possibly by creating an independent outlet similar to that of Drudge Report.

This could be a huge, albeit indirect, opportunity to support independent news outlets such as Media Roots. Or it could be just another way for the establishment to mislead the public into thinking comic books will become a new frontier for reliable information. A current example of how the corporate entertainment industry poses as a source for reliable news is The Daily Show, whose host is one of the twenty most influential media personalities now influencing this year’s presidential election.

Clark’s decision is still worthy of note in that a fictional superhero is acting on a crisis that is affecting the citizenry every day. This is not the first time in recent history that Superman has stood up for contemporary political issues. Just last year, he threatened to renounce his U.S. citizenship before the United Nations because of he was tired of his “actions being construed as instruments of U.S. policy.” While he didn’t actually renounce, the episode created heated discussion among both supporters and dissenters of America’s modern role in the global community.

The depth of Clark Kent’s future investigations will ultimately underscore this impact on modern society. Will he highlight the numerous questions that still surround 9/11 or feature Obama’s current war on investigative journalists? Possibly he will investigate the role hedge funds have played in the still-occurring financial collapse. Only time will tell, hopefully before it’s too late.

Oskar Mosco for Media Roots.

Image provided by Flickr user istolethetv.

Thievery Corp: Don’t Succumb to this Culture of Fear

MEDIA ROOTS – Thievery Corporation, a DC-based music group, released their sixth studio album last year titled Culture of Fear and continue to receive rave reviews among followers of this genre. Its electronic beats are expertly fused with several acoustic sounds which are the hallmark of this recording artist and DJ team.

The black album cover, featuring only a remote surveillance camera, reminds listeners of the current state of diminishing control of personal privacy in modern society. Tracks titled “False Flag Dub,” “Tower Seven,” and “Culture of Fear” invoke a perspective that is not only highly uncommon in the music industry but virtually unexpressed anywhere in general society.

The influence of this group, formed in 1995, cannot be understated. They performed last month at the Fairgrounds in Washington DC for a capacity audience and are appearing next Wednesday in Kansas City before heading to Austin City Limits the following weekend.

We have taken the liberty to feature below the official video of Culture of Fear featuring Mr. Lif as well as the song’s lyrics. Check them out and let us know what you think about this group of music activists.

Oskar Mosco for Media Roots

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The official video of Thievery Corporation’s Culture of Fear featuring Mr. Lif.

 

Culture of Fear 

Seems to me like they want us to be afraid, man.

Or maybe we just like being afraid.

Maybe we just so used to it at this point that it’s just a part of us,

Part of our culture.

 

Security alert on “orange.”

It’s been on orange since ’01 G.

I mean what’s up man?

Can’t a brother get “yellow” man?

Just for like two months or something?

God damn,

Sick o’ that.

Mic check –

 

The groove is dead so I’m a rhyme like a lunatic.

I do this shit with an unassuming wit.

The corporation conjured up the bass and the tempo.

My name is Liff – that’s the intro – now let’s go!

 

The flow of life, throwing strife into the mix,

The big dark condition and the world is sick.

The powers that be

A power in me

To speak a cause

Stress and strife that I see every day

And more to speak upon.

Culture of fear:

It’s up in your ear.

They’re telling us terrorists about to strike

“Maybe tonight?”

Right….

 

Let me back up slowly

With critical analysis of those who control me.

It used to be we just had a screen in the crib — on the TV,

But now we carry screens when we leave, see?

Laptops, smartphones, now we’re never alone.

A new affliction I call it “media dome.”

But on the road famine is the programming

You want to watch a favorite show because it’s so slamming

Hold hands and let’s gaze into the beautiful glare

While we’re here so immersed in this culture of fear.

 

Yo – we fear the IRS, fear the INS, fear God.

But we’re more afraid of the credit card than the terror squad.

That’s really all — sending weapons overseas

Yet Mastercard and Visa want to buy me the greed.

They deceive, the enemy is in the fine print.

They assassinate, sell-it, with no single assailant.

Forms, I’m stealing, to give a view of blue sky.

It’s beautiful, then a couple choppers flew by.

 

Represent an element ahead

A sentiment that you feel on the road, for real,

The deal stars with a spark, concludes with a handshake.

Physical to alter your subliminal landscape

Relief thinking I can really trust that guy

To be honest could have, should have really punched that guy.

Now it’s operation shank a banker

Thank you for the loan

See you when you come to repossess my home.

Alone at night sweating with visions of Armageddon

I never seen the threat yet I feel threatened.

Parts of our society designed to smear

Freedom: don’t succumb to this culture of fear….

 

Don’t succumb to this culture of fear…

Don’t succumb to this culture of fear.

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Photo provided by cesereperdomo.

Animation – Heliofant: I, Pet Goat II

MEDIA ROOTS – Since we U.S. citizens all live under a government, which has chosen to engage in perpetual war at great cost, it is important to use every tool available in order to analyze our collective condition.  Heliofant’s recent release, entitled I, Pet Goat II, is a mindblowing short film rife with explanatory symbolism and profound juxtaposition, from which we all may learn.  

The animated film tackles many intertwining, contemporary dilemmas: false flag attacks, rampant consumerism, corporate power, invasive religion, and money’s influence over politics.  On an esoteric level, Heliofant broaches the Illuminati, the Masons, the Orphic Egg, the hammer & sickle, and the Federal Reserve.  For Heliofant’s own breakdown of some of the symbolism, click here.  

Beautifully elucidating the last decade of chaos and human suffering, the moving film leaves many feeling encouraged.  After all, we still have the beauty of personal choice.  Through exercising this choice, we may eventually save ourselves. 

Christian Sorensen for Media Roots

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Heliofant: I, Pet Goat II 

 

A story about the fire at the heart of suffering. Bringing together dancers, musicians, visual artists and 3d animators, the film takes a critical look at the events of the past decade that have shaped our world.

Original soundtrack “the Stream”, written and performed by Tanuki Project.

Animation is about half keyframe animation and half motion capture. Motion capture recording by Lartech. 

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Photo by Flickr User The Halo Above

 

Jazz Composition – Occupy EP by Collin Shook Trio

MEDIA ROOTS – This is a beautiful jazz ensemble all recorded live with no cuts by the Collin Shook Trio.  Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the jazz musicians decided to make an EP dedicated to OWS activism and the spirit of revolution.  It’s an amazing and especially inspiring EP considering the intent and the meaning behind each song.  Please take a listen and consider supporting musicians who choose to use their incredible talents to reflect the spirit of the time.

Abby

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CS: This tune was born in November of 2011. I had written a 2 movement piece called #Occupy after perusing #OccupyTucson for a few days. Only then did I finally put this one down to paper. I named it Derivatives, partly because they are a major part of the economic recession which stemmed the #Occupy Movement.


CS: Prelude To Occupation is a tune we composed as a part of a 3-Piece Suite that expresses a sense of wandering, stirring energy.  With a repetitive theme, it explains the building energy of the same-old same-old things happening over and over again, just like the elite continually taking profits off the top of all commerce in the US and pocketing it, leaving the working class unable to stay ahead.


CS: #Occupy: Movement 1 is a ballad that embodies the lull and complacency that takes place before a public reaction. It’s the gathering energy and whispers in the dark that stir up the masses and spread information.  From the prelude to Movement 1, it shows the dissipation of action and is the quiet before the storm.


#Occupy: Movement 2 is the current embodiment of the uprising. The bass solo at the top of the song is in alignment with the slow start to the movement. Once the band drops in, the pushing 3 chord, break-beat feel creates momentum.

Each change to the bridge is riding the wave of little pockets of demonstrations springing up all over, then returning to the constant motion of the A section. Each B section gets more and more dissonant and finally ends with an unresolved tonality, expressing the unfinished motives of the #occupy Movement.


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This is a live recording from Skybar in Tucson AZ on April 2nd, 2012. 

From #Occupy EP, released 12 April 2012
Collin Shook – Composer and Keyboards
Dylan DeRobertis – Bass
Matt Pirc – Drums
Recorded With 2 Mics and Reaper DAW

http://www.collinshookmusic.com/

 

MR Original – The Genius Behind Breaking Bad

While you wait for Breaking Bad to come back on the air, you try to fill the ‘TV-show void’ with things like Enlightened, The Walking Dead, Californication, or even Dexter (this is one I’m embarrassed to say I did).  In modern TV show canon, Breaking Bad is unparalleled in its caliber of acting, characters, and writing.  Dare we say it, perhaps the greatest TV show ever (besides The Wire)?  The genius behind Breaking Bad is Vince Gilligan.  Vince grew up in Richmond, Virginia, bringing his southern charm to the medium.  He tells dark tales that remind one of the Coen brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) and Joe Dante (Gremlins, The ‘Burbs), effortlessly mixing together comedy, horror, and thriller while not seeming like a trite mixture of the three.  

A perfect example of these sensibilities is when in Episode 2 of Breaking Bad, Jesse and Walt have to dispose of a body.  Walt suggests using acid that eats through flesh and bone but not a particular kind of plastic barrel, he sends Jesse to the store, but Jesse gives up after a cursory search for said barrel. While in the midst of a meth bender, Jesse decides to use the upstairs aluminum bathtub instead; and you can probably guess the rest.  Before Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan was responsible for some of the more strange, gory, and borderline-funny episodes of The X-Files, which if you look closely contain some of the kernels that would later be used as the groundwork for Bad.

Vince Gilligan’s X-Files Work

Pusher
Season 3’s “Pusher” pitted Mulder and Scully against a ‘mentalist’ who could convince another person to commit suicide simply by whispering in his ear.  This killer is tracked down via a classified advertisement he places in a mercenary magazine offering his services.  Gilligan showed his affinity here for the expert criminal mastermind ‘hiding in plain sight,’ much like Gus in Breaking Bad.  One notable scene involves a SWAT team going after the Pusher, only to find one SWAT member returning covered in gasoline and holding a lighter, mumbling incomprehensibly before setting himself ablaze.

Leonard Betts
Even before ‘Bad you can see that Gilligan was interested in pushing the censorship boundaries. Season 4’s ‘Leonard Betts’ that singlehandedly pushed the limits of what you could show on network television.  The episode opens up with a pair of paramedics on an ambulance helping a man who’s dying of an unknown illness (Leonard knows simply by touching the man that he has cancer).  The ambulance crashes in a high speed collision.  At the scene of the accident you see Leonard’s severed head lying on the street.  Later you find out that he can ‘grow’ another head (which they show you with no cut away) because you see he is part Lizard, oh and eats cancer to survive.



Bad Blood
“Bad Blood” from Season 5 (where Vince Gilligan and the show itself really hit it’s stride), follows the team to a remote trailer park in the south where a vampire is drugging people unconscious and sucking their blood.  The episode starts with Mulder using a piece of a broken wooden chair to kill what appears to be a child; Mulder in fervor thinks he just killed a vampire.  He pulls out of the kids mouth a pair of fake sharpened vampire teeth and exclaims, ‘Oh, … Shiii’ interrupted by the X-files theme.  Again, the hiding in plain sight theme is present with vampires sleeping in coffins inside their RVs.  Could this scenario have been inspired by Vince’s affinity for the trailer park meth underworld?



Folie A Deux
Using the background of a cold call in center for an employee going postal, but not because he’s depressed, but because his boss is a insect hybrid who creates human zombies out of his own employees by injecting them through the neck with poison fangs.  In the episode, Mulder finds the clue ‘hiding in the light’ linking back to an old case about a shape-shifter who appears normal until seen in the dark. We don’t want to be redundant, but Vince seems to really like this theme.


Hungry
Alan Moore likes to deconstruct and flip upside-down super-hero tropes with Watchmen, where super heroes are portrayed as flawed destructive human beings.  Vince takes the X-files trope of ‘monster of the week’ and shows us the inverse effect.  What if you were a cannibal mutant working at a shitty fast food restaurant but were also a nice guy?  The entire episode revolves around the monster this time instead of Mulder and Scully.

Other Notable Gilligan Episodes
“Field Trip,” Season 6
“Dreamland,” Season 6



Vince Gilligan’s Film Work

Vince Gilligan has also taken a stab at full length movies, not just writing scripts, but also directing his own material.  His first film was Wilder Napalm that he wrote, but not directed—a very uneven first theatrical film attempt starring Dennis Quaid about two life-long best friends with supernatural powers to manifest fire.  Mixing a love triangle romantic comedy with some really dark and strange subject matter, the movie never quite coheres.  Some parts work, like the idea of portraying grown men who have god-like powers in shitty jobs like a circus clown.  The full movie is viewable on YouTube.



Home Fries, the first film Gilligan directed.  The marketing for this film was completely wrong, giving the impression it was a throw-away romantic comedy when, in fact, it was a movie about a very dysfunctional family whose matriarchal mother, through passive-aggressive behavior and coercion, gets her two grown military sons to commit murder for her.  In the opening scene Luke Wilson plays opposite Jake Busey who chases down a man leaving a fast food drive-thru with an attack helicopter.  They fire at him when he tries to surrender.  They just wanted to ‘scare him’ by using blanks, but the man has a heart attack.

It turns out this man was their stepfather who was caught cheating by their mother.

The mother won’t let it end there, however, and sends her boys out on a scouting mission to find out who the woman is.  Luke Wilson’s character quickly discovers it’s a totally innocent fast-food employee played by Drew Barrymore.  The rest of the movie involves him trying to misdirect Busey’s character into getting closer to assassinating her.  It has its flaws but the plot and acting is top tier and there aren’t very many if any movies like it.  Catherine O’Hara as the psychotic mother should have garnered an Oscar nomination.  Home Fries may be viewed in it’s entirety on YouTube.



Hancock, a more recent film starring Will Smith as a drunk, abusive, and destructive super hero was by all accounts a misfire.  Directed not by Gilligan, but by Peter Berg (who can’t direct his way out of a paper bag) and based on a script by Gilligan.  Some decent ideas thrown into the mix but has a third act, which completely ruins the entire film.

So, while you have your Gilligan withdrawals try some of those in the meantime (and go here if you need even more).  After all Breaking Bad’s 5th will be its final season.  In many interviews, Gilligan has said that his goal from the very beginning was to turn ‘Mr Chips into Scarface,’ in reference to Walt.  If you have watched Breaking Bad up until its most recent conclusion, and you are familiar with Scarface, short of trying his own product and shooting a family member dead, Walt has pretty much surpassed Scarface.  I, for one, am excited to see where this man’s mind takes us next; maybe somebody will see his value as a filmmaker, similar to how studios plucked J.J. Abrams from TV.  Let’s hope, for his next project, he’s not as prescient as he was in The Lone Gunman pilot.

Written by Robbie Martin

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