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Laibach’s nightmarish new short film, ‘So Long, Farewell’: a Dangerous Minds premiere


Photo by Ciril Jazbec
 
The Sound of Music ends with the von Trapp family’s escape from the Nazis through the Alps, crossing from annexed Austria into neutral Switzerland. Or that’s how the stage version ends; the closing shot of the 1965 film is ambiguous. In it, the von Trapps appear to be going in the wrong direction, fleeing into the Bavarian, rather than the Swiss, Alps.

In fact, the mountain at which Robert Wise chose to film the last shot of The Sound of Music was the Obersalzberg, the site of Hitler’s mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden. Once you recognize the location, the end of the movie takes on a horrible significance: as they hike up the Obersalzberg, singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain (Reprise),” Georg and Maria von Trapp are leading their brood on a death march to the Nazis’ second headquarters. We can easily imagine these Hollywood von Trapps wandering too close to the Berghof after the last notes of the song have died in the chill air, and the camera, like the guilty eyes of Buñuel’s Christ in L’Age d’Or, has averted its gaze from earthly things.

Laibach’s new film “So Long, Farewell” begins with this cinematic wrong turn into horror. The group has been interpreting The Sound of Music since 2015, when, as the first Western (?) band ever to perform in North Korea, Laibach included a number of songs from the musical in their set. In this, the latest video from Laibach’s Sound of Music album, the singing family has not escaped the Nazis—note the swastika-shaped Christmas tree from John Heartfield’s “O Tannenbaum in deutschen Raum, wie krumm sind deine Äste!“ ripped from its parodic context, as a fir is cut from the earth—but, because it is a special time of year, the children are permitted to leave the basement for a few minutes to sing for the adults.

Speaking with a single voice, Laibach answered my questions about “So Long, Farewell” by email. The film follows our conversation below.
 

 
Please remind us why Laibach chose The Sound of Music for the performances in North Korea.

Laibach: Throughout our career we’ve been looking for an opportunity to sink our teeth into The Sound of Music. When we received an invitation to perform in Pyongyang, we knew the moment had finally arrived. The Sound of Music is probably the only piece of American pop culture that is not only allowed, but also actively promoted by North Korean authorities. For years now the musical has been part of their school curricula. It seemed only natural that we address the people of North Korea with something as universal as The Sound of Music, therefore we decided to create the concert program around our interpretations of the songs from this musical. The Sound of Music story really fits well into the North Korean situation and can be understood affirmatively, but also subversively – very much depending on the point of view.

It looks to me as if, in Laibach’s telling of The Sound of Music, the von Trapp family does not escape capture by the Nazis, and a sinister patriarch played by Ivan Novak takes the place of Baron von Trapp. The appearance of Milan Fras as the Reverend Mother further complicates the picture: does the abbess sanction this ghastly ménage by her presence? What is the scenario of the “So Long” video?

“So Long” is in fact more a short film than the music video. The original film is, of course, the first of all the apotheosis of Hollywood entertaining industry standards and clichés, but there are many – not even very well hidden – perverse twists in it, full of sexual and psychoanalytical connotations. Slavoj Žižek has a very thorough (and very Laibachian) observation, claiming that officially the film is in principle showing Austrian resistance to Hitler and the Nazis, but if you look at it closely, you see that the “Nazis are presented as an abstract cosmopolitan occupying power, and the Austrians are the good small fascists, so the implicit message is almost the opposite of the explicit message.” No wonder that Austrians officially don’t like this film much, or maybe they are only denying it on the surface and watching it secretly in their cellars. This “hidden reverse” may also be the reason why the movie was so extremely popular, Žižek argues, because it “addresses our secret fascist dreams.” (Which is an interesting assertion, considering most of the people who created the original musical were Jewish.) Catholicism, of course, plays a key role in The Sound of Music film, therefore it represents an important stance in the “So Long, Farewell” miniature as well. On the surface, Catholicism portrays itself as being all about harsh moral discipline and strict rules. But, under the surface, it provides opportunities for great license, including sexual license. You can have your cake (feeling righteous morally, identifying with this “morally strict” organization) and eat it too (providing opportunities to have fun and play around). According to Žižek the power of the film resides in its obscenely-direct staging of embarrassing intimate fantasies. The film’s narrative turns around resolving the problem stated by the nuns’ chorus in the introductory scene: “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” The proposed solution is the one mentioned by Freud in an anecdote: Penis normalis, zwei mal taeglich… Recall what is arguably the most powerful scene of The Sound of Music: after Maria escapes from the von Trapp family back to the monastery, unable to deal with her sexual attraction towards Baron von Trapp, she cannot find peace there, since she is still longing for the Baron; in a memorable scene, the Mother Superior summons her and advises her to return to the von Trapp family and try to sort out her relationship with the Baron. She delivers this message in a weird song “Climb Ev’ry Mountain!” whose surprising motif is: Do it! Take the risk and try everything your heart wants! Do not allow petty considerations to stand in your way! The uncanny power of this scene resides in its unexpected display of the spectacle of desire, an eros energumens which renders the scene literally embarrassing: the very person whom one would expect to preach abstinence and renunciation turns out to be the agent of the fidelity to one’s desire. In other words, Mother Superior effectively is a superego figure, but in Lacan’s sense, for whom the true superego injunction is “Enjoy!” But the real Maria and the real Baron didn’t marry because they loved each other; according to her autobiography they married only for the love of children.
 

 
Red is everywhere in this video: the mistletoe berries, the Reverend Mother’s rosary, the children’s Trumpian neckties, and the hot red light throughout. Instead of climbing to freedom in the snowy Alps at the end, it looks like the family descends into the fires of Hell. Does Laibach’s Sound of Music end in captivity and death?

Yes, in “So Long, Farewell,” the von Trapp family never escaped from the Hollywood Austria, annexed by Nazis. They were “trapped” and they just went a bit “underground.” Same in North Korea, people are trapped within the Pleasure Dome of North Korean controlled society (not that Western society is not controlled…). The Sound of Music certainly ends in captivity and death, like we all do.

When you first saw The Sound of Music, was the film censored or altered in any way? If Laibach were to censor the movie, what would you change?

We could in fact change the ending, that would give a different perspective to the whole film, but the scenario did loosely follow the real story of the von Trump family. We don’t recall that the film was censored anyhow when we saw it first time, but Žižek claims that the three minutes of the “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” song, with Mother Superior singing was in fact censored back then in Yugoslavia, as this is the most obscene moment in the movie.

“The von Trump family” is a wonderful parapraxis. When making this film, did Laibach draw inspiration from Mrs. Trump’s Christmas decorations at the White House?

Quite possible, especially if decorations in White House would be created as a classic Trumpian slip.

As far as I know, the few swastikas that appear in Laibach’s work come from the photomontages of the anti-fascist artist John Heartfield. In this case, it’s the swastika-shaped tree from Heartfield’s parodic poster announcing the Third Reich’s new “standard fir” for the holidays, a festive addition to the hearth of the von Trapp/Trump home. I wonder if, in the film, the proclamation of Heartfield’s poster has become a historical reality. In other words, is it mandatory for the family to display the “crooked” tree?

Using a straightforward reference to the classic Heartfield Christmas tree today would merely present the aesthetization of the subject, while the direct swastika-shaped tree becomes a mandatory festive background of historical reality, the aesthetization of a society that does not find it (very) problematic anymore.
 

 
Writing for Die Welt on the eve of Laibach’s first trip to North Korea, Slavoj Žižek discerned the image of the Josef Fritzl household in The Sound of Music. He argues that warmth, good cheer and sentimentality are not only compatible with brutal crimes, but hospitable to them; when Fritzl imprisoned his children in the basement and raped them, Žižek suggests, he did so with a merry song in his heart. Is there a place for bad conscience in kitsch?

Only if it is a bad kitsch. A good reference to this problem is also possible to detect in the Sharp Objects TV series, especially in its final episode.

Žižek also imagines the children attending an “upstairs reception in the Fritzl villa” where they sing “So Long, Farewell” before departing for bed, one by one. Is that where the idea for the film originated?

There are several different inspirations for the “So Long, Farewell” film miniature; there’s definitely The Sound of Music itself – a film full of latent sexuality within the patriarchal (and matriarchal) musical family with structural elements of fascism, then there’s an ultimate model of utopian, communist/religious (very musical) state, nominally led by the supreme Kim Dynasty, and finally there is a reference to the extreme case of Josef and Rosemarie Fritzl’s family from Austria – a raw model to the similar families around the world, potentially including some famous ones within political and entertainment/musical spheres as well.

Laibach’s The Sound of Music is out on Mute Records, and Morten Traavik’s documentary Liberation Day follows the band’s travels in North Korea. (Also of note, Laibach fans: MIT Press’ excellent book NSK from Kapital to Capital includes a contribution from Alexei Yurchak, the scholar who coined the term “hypernormalisation.”)
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.14.2019
09:19 am
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A short film on the making of Mark Stewart’s ‘Learning to Cope with Cowardice’ (a DM premiere!)
02.28.2019
01:14 pm
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Mark Stewart and the Maffia live in Kentish Town, 1986 (Photo by Beezer)

Last month, when Mute brought out a double-LP reissue of Mark Stewart’s solo debut from 1983, Learning to Cope with Cowardice, we interviewed the man about the record and its historical, political, and musical context. Now we have a new short film by Charlie Marbles about the making of the album to show you.

If you’ve never heard Learning to Cope with Cowardice, it is a collection of sounds that wraps your nervous system around the spools of a cassette deck, then uses your brain to degauss the tape head and your cerebrospinal fluid to lubricate the capstan: a variegated cut-up of genres, styles, media, times, places, and identities. In the film below, Stewart and producer Adrian Sherwood describe the mixing and editing techniques they used to make this mental work of art, some imported from New York hip-hop and other audio collage forms—Stewart, in particular, credits Teo Macero’s work on On the Corner and William S. Burroughs’ tape experiments as inspiration—and some invented on the spot and probably never yet repeated, such as “scratching” multitrack tapes.

The singer and producer describe Stewart’s desires for unconventional sounds (Sherwood remembers a snare so trebly “it was actually cutting your eyeball off”) and his struggles to get them through the technocracy of the mastering process onto the finished record. Stewart:

I was constantly fighting with engineers about buzzes and hisses and noises, and trying to make helicopter sounds, and then they’d try and change it, they’d try and normalize you. I’m not gonna be fuckin’ normalized!

Learning to Cope with Cowardice plus The Lost Tapes is available on double vinyl (benefiting Mercy Ships) and double CD. Check out Mark Stewart’s new political resistance playlist, too.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.28.2019
01:14 pm
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Test Dept returns with the new video ‘Landlord’ (a DM premiere)
02.21.2019
08:58 am
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Test Dept’s new album, ‘Disturbance’

Next week, the London-based activist industrial group Test Dept, forgers of the “Stakhanovite sound,” will release their first new album in over 20 years: a merciless piece of work called Disturbance.

Though Test Dept’s first records included collaborations with Cabaret Voltaire, FM Einheit and Genesis P-Orridge, in that milieu, their left politics stuck out like red flannel underwear. Their second album, Shoulder to Shoulder, was a split release with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir on which the two groups combined to perform a track called “Comrades.” I have a hard time picturing this moving gesture of solidarity coming from, say, Blixa Bargeld or Adi Newton.

We’ve got the premiere of the brand new Test Dept video “Landlord” below, and founding members Paul Jamrozy and Graham Cunnington were kind enough to answer a few questions by email.
 

Courtesy One Little Indian

There’s a very funny contribution from Laibach in [the excellent Test Dept book] Total State Machine enumerating the industrial groups active in 1984 and dismissing all but one: “only Test Dept were somehow made of (industrial) flesh and blood, only they were actively involved within concrete political and social space.” What is Test Dept’s political orientation? Is it true that Test Dept was the only industrial group of the left?

Paul Jamrozy: I am not entirely sure of that but certainly many groups that were linked to industrial music flirted with right wing iconography or were overtly apolitical, some with a snooty attitude as if politics were something beneath them. There came a point where that kind of trendy indifference became untenable, or you could say part of the unacceptable face of freedom.

Graham Cunnington: Orientation? Left. Socialist with somewhat anarchist tendencies.

Are there any plans to reissue the Test Dept catalog? Are there any plans to tour?

Graham: We are looking to release the back catalogue with One Little Indian in the near future. We have the album launch live show in London on 26th April with Manchester on 18th and Portsmouth on 25th. There are plans to tour UK and mainland Europe later in the year.

From my perspective, Test Dept’s return helps me make out the continuity of historical developments in the UK and US over the last four decades. For instance, Brexit and Grenfell appear on the news as illustrations of our strange, uncertain times, in which shocking events come out of nowhere and nothing is connected to anything else; but if I put on The Unacceptable Face of Freedom or Disturbance, a very clear story about the neoliberal period emerges. How does it look from your point of view?

Graham: The material on Disturbance has as its DNA our earlier work. The Unacceptable Face of Freedom was about the days of the Thatcher-Reagan axis driving forward the inception of the neoliberal period and the effects that had on society at the time; and Disturbance is about the effect that the development of that is having now. We are in the end-game of that whole arc and the system, quite obviously unsustainable, is collapsing, shored up by those with vested interests in its ongoing implementation who continue to tighten their grip; leading to austerity, the fragmentation of the welfare state, a return to Victorian levels of inequality and the rise of darker forces, as profit is extracted in ever more inventive ways and surveillance capitalism attempts to hook every aspect of our lives into the raw material for further gain and control.
 

Courtesy One Little Indian
 
I wish I could have attended the Assembly of Disturbance festival marking the centenary of the October Revolution. Please tell me about it. Was it the debut of the new material on Disturbance?

Graham: Assembly of Disturbance incorporated a platform for discussion and artistic expression, with live music, film, sound-art, installation, performance, DJs and talks on various forms of artistic, political and philosophical thinking. In its early days, the October Revolution gave rise to a huge explosion of creativity and radical new forms of art that expressed the visionary possibility of a new age and a different path for society, even though the society that spawned it was soon crushed by the dictates of Stalin’s despotic regime. That kind of visionary thinking, not for a communist state but for a radical systematic change with a global perspective, is something that the world is crying out for now – a disturbance in the present order. That’s what we were marking with the event.

The new material on Disturbance had been developing in a live format over a few years, from electronic remix work to a full live presentation, but it was certainly a coming together of many of the ideas we had been working on.

Collaboration with dancers, visual artists, and performance artists has long been part of your practice. How did you hook up with Kris Canavan for the “Landlord” video?

Graham: We met Kris while working with Rebecca Shatwell and the AV Festival in Newcastle (the DS30 installation/film and An Unprecedented Campaign live film soundtrack). We were looking towards doing a large-scale show for the AV Festival in 2018 and Kris was a possible collaborator on that. Unfortunately, in that year, the AV’s funding was cut and their final iteration had to be scaled back.

The video is a recording of Canavan performing his piece “Yes, it’s Fucking Political”, against a wall to wall video installation by our visual director David Altweger, which displays a stream of chopped up and manipulated broadcasts including the events around Grenfell – a tapestry of media fragments and surveillance footage that encompasses Kanavan’s body from all sides.

“Yes, it’s Fucking Political” was conceived in 2010 & originally designed to be a rallying cry or call for direct action against the betrayal of the electorate by the Liberal Democrats and a forthcoming Conservative agenda of austerity, which would predictably see the poorest suffer and shoulder the burden of responsibility.

One Little Indian will release Test Dept’s new album, Disturbance, on March 1. Below, Kris Canavan performs in the video for the new song “Landlord.” 
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.21.2019
08:58 am
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Oliver Reed as a prototype Alex from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in ‘These are the Damned’

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At one point, Ken Russell was the favored director for a movie version of A Clockwork Orange supposedly starring the Rolling Stones. What Russell would have made of Anthony Burgess’s novel is a moot point. However, it is more than conceivable that Russell would have cast Oliver Reed as Alex, the sociopathic gang leader who together with his “droogs” unleash acts of opportunistic “ultra-violence,” rather than Mick Jagger. Reed would have been an interesting fit though a bit too old for the role of teenager Alex.

Reed had played such a brooding, nasty, thuggish type before. Two years prior to the publication of Burgess’s novel, Reed played King, a psychopathic prototype-Alex in Joseph Losey’s These are the Damned (aka The Damned). Dressed in a tweed jacket, collar, tie, silk scarf, black leather gloves, and carrying an umbrella with an eight-inch blade hidden in its handle, Reed could easily have been auditioning for the role of Alex. His gang leader King terrorises tourists at a small seaside town, using his sister Joan (Shirley Anne Field) to ensnare unwitting victims for a bit of the “old ultra-violence” or as the film’s trailer puts it:

Black leather, black leather,
Smash, smash, smash.
Black leather, black leather,
Crash, crash, crash.

 
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Reed ready for a bit of the ‘old ultraviolence.’
 
Director Joe Dante has described These are the Damned as “an undeservedly obscure British science-fiction picture…unjustly neglected…[which] is really…one of the key films of the 1960s.” High praise for a low budget feature shot quickly over a few weeks in May 1961. Produced by Hammer Films, the company best known for their hugely successful series of horror films starring Peter Cushing and Christopher starting in 1956 with The Curse of Frankenstein and then Dracula (1958) and the big screen adaptations of TV’s sci-fi classic Quatermass. These are the Damned was an odd fit for the company’s roster with its strange mix of gang violence and disturbing (yet topical) science-fiction plot.

Loosely adapted from the novel The Children of Light by H. L. Lawrence, These are the Damned was directed by blacklisted director Joseph Losey, who’d been kicked out of Hollywood due to his allegiance to the Communist Party, which he’d joined in 1946. Losey considered working in Hollywood as “useless” and his association with the Communist Party made him feel “freer” and “more valuable to society.” Through politics, Losey believed he could make films of substance. What was America’s loss proved to be England’s gain, as Losey directed a string of classic films including a trio in collaboration with Harold Pinter The Servant (1963), Accident (1967), The Go-Between (1971), alongside The Assassination of Trotsky (1972), Brecht’s Galileo (1975), and the opera Don Giovanni (1979).

Losey was never quite happy with These are the Damned. Constrained by studio demands to make a commercial sci-fi flick, Losey “possessed little if any interest in science fiction as a literary mode and consequently threw out pretty much all of the novel, except for the image of the gang of teddy boys, led by King (Oliver Reed).”

He felt the rough framework of the book might act as the vehicle for a commentary upon the proliferation of atomic power and the potential debacle that could lead from its irresponsible use by high-minded technocrats. What more immediately attracted him was the setting he chose for the piece: Weymouth, an out-of-the-way part of England that is bleak, wild and ancient, and associated by the literary with the novels of Thomas Hardy and John Cowper Powys. Losey envisioned the kinds of contrasts that could be drawn between the isolated seascapes that housed the cordoned-off research laboratory overseen by Bernard (Alexander Knox) and the urban hubbub of the town crisscrossed by the motorcycles of King’s cohorts. In his mind, alien as these individuals and their surroundings seemed to be, they shared a common propensity for violence: “one was paralleling different levels of the same society which in effect were, in their own way, doing the same thing: the politicians and the hoodlums.”

What starts out as a film about gang violence and the sexual relationship between Joan and “an innocent American abroad: Simon (MacDonald Carey)” quickly develops into a dark and disturbing tale of the consequences of nuclear war. Joan and Simon discover hidden among the seaside caves groups of children who are being held captive and have been experimented upon and irradiated as a form of inoculation by a sinister secret military organisation in readiness to repopulate the planet after an imminent nuclear war.

The film was highly prescient, tapping into fears made real by the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. However, Hammer and its distributors didn’t know what to do with the film. It was passed uncut by the British Board of Censors in December 1961, but was only released in an edited form first in the UK in 1963 and then in the US as a support feature with further cuts in 1965.

However, it’s Reed who attracts the most interest and almost steals the film from Carey and Field with his turn as the psychopathic King. For a then relatively unknown and inexperienced actor, Reed showed his prowess in front of the camera and his ability to add depth and considerable menace to his role. It was the start of a series of films which have often, until more recently, been overlooked—films like Paranoiac (1963), The System (1964), and The Party’s Over (1965)—which revealed Reed’s talent as an actor which at its best placed him as the equal of Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, and Richard Burton.

Happy Birthday Oliver Reed.
 
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Shirley Anne Field.
 
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More production stills, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.13.2019
09:43 am
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‘Qaeda, Quality, Question, Quickly, Quickly, Quiet’: Learning the alphabet with George W. Bush
01.03.2019
08:33 am
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I remember watching George W. Bush deliver the State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, on the TV of a tiny barroom in the East Bay. No cocktail was strong enough. This was the speech that denounced the “axis of evil,” a coinage of Bush speechwriter David Frum, who has lately been rehabilitated as a true friend of democracy and stalwart defender of the realm. Perhaps when the professional eulogists are finished carving the likenesses of Poppy and W. into Mount Rushmore, they can squeeze in this august son of Canada, who believes the problem with the Iraq War was the people of Iraq.

With every patriot face now awash in tears for these old-fashioned Republicans, the kind who could, when the occasion demanded it, speak in complete sentences, let us remember “Qaeda, Quality, Question, Quickly, Quickly, Quiet,” the artist Lenka Clayton‘s alphabetized cut of the address, which blasted those sentences to rubble and sifted the bits. Marc Campbell posted this vid on DM many moons ago, but it’s worth revisiting now. On one hand, it is a cognition-destroying mindhammer that smashes illusions about the stimulus-response theory of government. On the other, even alphabetically reordered and condensed to 18 minutes, W.‘s oratory sounds like Pericles next to the barnyard squawks and grunts that will comprise the phonemic index of the 2019 State of the Union address, which I understand will be subtitled “A Case Study in Lycanthropy.”
 

Detail from the soundtrack LP cover

If you like the movie, you’ll love the soundtrack LP (side one: “A - My,” side two: “Nation - Zero”) and accompanying flip-book.
 

via Reddit

Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.03.2019
08:33 am
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Thomas Jefferson on buggery, sodomy and bestiality
12.13.2018
08:43 am
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‘Thomas Jefferson’ by N. C. Wyeth

“Ideas of justice are as timeless as fashions in hats,” the philosopher John Gray writes. Consider a bill submitted to the Virginia Assembly in 1779, proposing some liberal reforms to colonial laws: Bill 64, “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments in Cases Heretofore Capital,” penned in Thomas Jefferson’s own hand. Seeking to make murder and treason the only capital crimes, it was progressive legislation for its day. Bill 64, a product of two years’ deliberation by the Committee of Revisors, grouped rape, polygamy and sodomy together, and prescribed the same punishment for each:

Whosoever shall be guilty of Rape, Polygamy, or Sodomy with man or woman shall be punished, if a man, by castration, if a woman, by cutting thro’ the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch diameter at the least.

The bill’s extensive footnotes review legal authorities from antiquity through the 18th century on criminal law’s greatest hits, such as arson, robbery, counterfeiting, manslaughter, murder and treason, along with some old standards known to very few of today’s felons, like asportation of vessels and horse stealing. When it comes to the rationale for drilling holes in women’s noses, the footnotes are silent, but there is a lengthy disquisition on buggery. Properly considered, Jefferson writes, buggery subsumes two distinct crimes: buggery of people and buggery of animals, the first of which is a serious transgression, the second a hilarious indiscretion.

Buggery is twofold. 1. with mankind, 2. with beasts. Buggery is the Genus, of which Sodomy and Bestiality are the species. 12.Co.37. says ‘note that Sodomy is with mankind.’ But Finch’s L.B.3.c.24. ‘Sodomitry is a carnal copulation against nature, to wit, of man or woman in the same sex, or of either of them with beasts.’ 12.Co.36. says ‘it appears by the antient authorities of the law that this was felony.’ Yet the 25.H.8. declares it felony, as if supposed not to be so. Britton c.9. says that Sodomites are to be burnt. […] The Mirror makes it treason. Bestiality can never make any progress; it cannot therefore be injurious to society in any great degree, which is the true measure of criminality in foro civili, and will ever be properly and severely punished by universal derision. It may therefore be omitted. It was antiently punished with death as it has been latterly. Ll.Aelfrid.31. and 25H.8.c.6. See Beccaria §.31. Montesq.

Jefferson wrote Madison that the bill’s punishment for rape was a hard sell in the Virginia Assembly, where his colleagues found it “indecent and unjustifiable.” He also would support changing the punishment for rape, but only because, as written, “women would be under [the temptation] to make it the instrument of vengeance against an inconstant lover, and of disappointment to a rival.” I think both reasons amount to anxiety about what women might do with the power to hand out gonadectomies like jaywalking tickets, a development that certainly would have made high school U.S. history textbooks more interesting.

None of these considerations seems to have affected the fate of Bill 64. When it was defeated in 1787, Madison attributed its failure not to the brutal penalties for sex crimes, but to the current “rage against Horse stealers,” who would have faced hard labor rather than the gallows under its permissive code.

Laws come and go; below, Charles Manson dispenses timeless wisdom in his song “Don’t Do Anything Illegal.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.13.2018
08:43 am
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Cholera sucks: The beautiful, brutal honesty of vintage Chinese public health propaganda
10.03.2018
09:41 am
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Out of all the “things” that have developed over the last few centuries, public health and hygiene propaganda is probably one of the most fascinating. To me, at least. From Victorian advertisements that looked more like S&M show-and-tell than healing tools to the wild VD films shown in US sex ed classrooms throughout the late 20th century, America has certainly had a strong history with weird and wacky ways to promote well being. I’m sure as shit not going to knock our flavor of crazy “stay healthy” publicity works since I own a good amount of 16mm films on how to prevent STDs and what fruits and vegetables you need to eat to stay balanced and pooping good. Wall to wall actors in fruit and veg costumes prancing about on a screen are great Friday night fun! Who needs bars when you have talking tomatoes and dancing grapes??

On the international side, however, I’ve become quite interested in Chinese public health posters and their history. First of all, many of them are incredibly beautiful. Their design and composition is quite a thing to behold. Considering that they are discussing how not to die of fatal diseases or some such topic, many of these communally shared images are awfully detailed and aesthetically pleasing. Others…well, their honesty and bluntness is admirable! And if nothing else, this is something I probably respect THE MOST about public health propaganda materials: they are there to tell you that you should really not fuck with the bad shit. The problem is so bad that they had to commission a poster for it. You might die.  It’s all about extremes in public hygiene education. There really is no middle ground.

While these posters may make you laugh or giggle, there is a fairly serious element in much of the content—they meant what they said. It seems strange to us now in today’s technologically advanced world, but when these posters were the social media platform, this was how messages about health were communicated. So just as a warning to those with a weak stomach, there may be an image or two here that are not completely, uh, ready for prime time…

It didn’t surprise me to discover that the US had a hand in China’s medical structure, nor was I shocked to find out that it was the Rockefeller family that introduced Western medicine to China. Good ol’ John D. helped to establish the China Medical Board and the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) in the early 1920s (a medical school that still exists and is still highly respected). THAT SAID, the PUMC was certainly not an accurate reflection of the Chinese people. Based on the US John Hopkins model, the medical facilities did not truly attempt to include traditional Chinese medicine and thus many saw the PUMC and its work as Western colonization and were not super stoked on Rockefeller’s “contributions.” The tech may have been more advanced but it managed to completely steamroll over Chinese health and medical culture in its attempts to “modernize” what they interpreted as an underdeveloped society.

But y’know that was Western colonial thought. Fun times.

Anyways, above and beyond the obvious issues that arose from Old White Dudes fucking up (as usual) and deciding to make medicine and life-saving procedures a political issue (sound familiar?), some really fascinating health propaganda material came out of it.  Let’s look at it, shall we? (I could have captioned these, but that would have distracted from the art of these things. Plus it’s more fun to just imagine what’s going on if you don’t read Chinese.)
 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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10.03.2018
09:41 am
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Boy George presents Captain Sensible and Lene Lovich in grossout animal rights film ‘Meathead’


 
The bad news first: the episode of Boy George’s nineties talk show Blue Radio on which Poly Styrene appeared, though she said she almost didn’t make it because of a close encounter with a spaceship, has not yet entered the worldwide digital video stream. Pair that with Lora Logic singing “Bow Down Mister” and you’ve got yourself the beginnings of a quality Dangerous Minds post!

But while scouring the intertubes in search of material for the Boy George/X-Ray Spex/Hare Krishna ultramegapost already inked in the book of my dreams, I came across this curiosity. Half of Meathead is like every other animal rights movie you’ve ever seen—emetic camcorder tape of fowl, ruminants, canines and hogs trudging through their relatives’ offal in cramped pens, proceeding inevitably toward the animal-snuff-film equivalent of the money shot—but half of it is a black-and-white narrative about a rich guy with an insatiable hunger for gore, fed by his maid (Lene Lovich) and a hamburger-juggling clown (Captain Sensible). If you make it to the end without hurling all over your keyboard, you’ll see Boy George’s interview with director Gem de Silva. Beware: you may blow chunks.

Never having listened to Captain Sensible’s 1995 double album Meathead, I can’t say if the connection between the CD and the film extends beyond a shared disgust with flesh food. But I guarantee the film is much shorter.
 
Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.16.2018
08:56 am
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Neil Hamburger reads Nixon’s resignation speech (and other greatest hits)
08.09.2018
08:36 am
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Richard Nixon resigned from office 44 years ago today. Many of your pundits, eggheads, critics, and other nosebreathers have never tired of kicking Nixon around. But on Independence Day 2002, one citizen had the guts to meet Dick on his own terms, in the arena: America’s $1 Funnyman, Neil Hamburger.

In the Neil Hamburger catalog, perhaps only his tribute to Princess Diana so touches the heart, and I’m not just talking about the stirring, patriotic strings in the background of “Hamburger Remembers Nixon.” No, as few others could, Neil captures the warmth of Nixon’s straight-talking 1952 speech about the joys of dog ownership; the magnanimity of his gracious concession of the ‘62 California gubernatorial race to Jerry Brown’s father; the bold vision of his remarks at the ‘68 victory party on the relative friendliness of handheld signs. Hamburger also pays tribute to the April ‘70 “pitiful helpless giant” TV address, the November ‘73 “I’m not a crook” press conference, and the August ‘74 “we don’t have a good word for it in English” farewell speech.
 

 
Listen after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.09.2018
08:36 am
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Hilarious photoshopped images of Trump & his ‘best people’


A portrait of our current president by Chest Strongwell.
 
I present to you a few of the best photoshop jobs I have seen in quite a while which also just so happen to poke fun at members of our current administration and other fascistic enablers and foul miscreants. Not all photoshopped images are created equal—and these images set the bar a bit higher if you ask me.

I don’t know much about Chest Strongwell outside of the fact that Strongwell is probably not really his real name (duh), he is a professional, left-leaning Internet troll, and a stay-at-home Dad claiming to have one thousand balls. I also know Chest has some sharp photoshop skills, and Republicans hate him, which I’m sure is just fine by Chest. At any rate, ole’ Chest has recently upped his online taunting directed at right-wing politicians with a few beautifully executed photoshopped images of 45’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” posse in the style of old-school KMart and JC Penny Portrait Studio photos from the 70s and 80s. Repulsive individuals such as Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Vice President Mike Pence have never looked BETTER if you ask me.

So since I know we could all use a good laugh, please enjoy some of the best shopped-up images of some of the worst people in the world. God bless America, and god bless Chest Strongwell. Whoever you are.
 

Former mayor of New York City now acting as an attorney for Trump, Rudy Giuliani.
 

Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.
 

White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.10.2018
01:13 pm
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