Nazis vs ISIS Feature Image

Why ISIS are NOT our new Nazis

ISIS has been considered the 21st century Nazis (including me). However, if the Nazis had Facebook it would pictures of perfect blond children and Hitler doing something cute; not posts bragging about beheading a bunch of people. That’s just crazy, and there haven been recent publications explaining what ISIS wants: Make everyone their enemy, call them the army of “Rome”, lure them to a town called Dabiq (consequently the name of their propaganda magazine), have them fight the army of Islam (read them) which will bring about the Islamic apocalypse, where ISIS will naturally win. Even Hitler’s generals managed to stop Hitler from thinking that stupid, and below is why ISIS are totally different villains from the Nazis.

Flaunting their Crime

Villains often come in two flavours: the ones who hide their crime and those who don’t care. For example, General Mandible from the movie “Antz” manipulated everyone with his bulldog general demeanour to hide his genocidal plan to create a stronger colony. On the other hand, if the whole of Gotham (especially Batman) doesn’t know of his deeds, the Joker would rather just turn on the tube and yell at Harley for another beer.

Hitler Triumphant + ISIS Boy

Replace, Patton-like ant with frothing Charlie Chaplin, and you’ve got the same intentions. Then replace a plucky Woody Allen with a flood of Allied soldiers, and Nazis who acted like everything they did was for the good of the world, frantically burning bodies, blowing up gas chambers, burning papers to hide their crime.

The Islamic State, on the other hand (thankfully), cannot hope to match the scale of atrocity as regimes before them. What makes them so terrifying is that they’re like internet trolls. Everything that they do will provoke outrage, so it most definitely will be shared with the world to get a reaction.

Well-intentioned Extremist

For most villains, it’s all about sex, money and power. Take Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, who manipulated the entire Galaxy just to gain power. On the other side of the coin, Darth Revan from the video game Knights of the Old Republic, invaded the galaxy because he wanted to prepare the galaxy for the real threat approaching from the outer reaches of the galaxy. 

ISIS on Horse + Hitler on Car

While Hitler was  anti-Semitic, and of course wanted his perfect world to be non-Aryan free, Nazi military conquests were quite similar to many empire builders through European history. Hitler could be considered a 20th century Napoleon (except with a dumb moustache and stupider).

On the other hand, ISIS are taking a very stupid way to gain riches and power, provoking factions that didn’t even want to fight them, and even making potential allies their enemies. And if it isn’t the power and prestige of a state but to fulfill their beliefs, they are well-intentioned in their extremism. Of course, said intentions are great for everyone under their view on Islam (just horrible for the rest of us).

Still Crazy

Most villain plans they are credible enough that their failure was because of the Big Damned Heroes ruining it. On the other hand, there are villain plots that are still undone minus the hero. In “Return of Superman” how was Lex Luthor going to defend his island with just three guys against the buttload of refugees coming from the land he just destroyed?

Sad Hitler + Lonely ISIS Flag

For the Nazis, they had clear strategic goals and the tactical plans to create a German Empire, and only the stupidity of Hitler and violating one of the lessons of history (don’t invade Russia) were they defeated.

For ISIS, victory is relying on luring all their enemies to fight them at Dabiq. Even forging their military limitations (no airforce) how are they going to manoeuvre their enemies to fight at Dabiq? And if they did somehow succeed in this, how are they going to defeat the rest of the world, including the most advanced military force the world has ever seen? Everything is relying on their enemies showing up and hoping that their prophecy is true. And maybe it will happen and that ISIS will win, and then maybe Hitler can come by to congratulate them while riding a unicorn. 

50 shades of grey steve buscemi

Why “50 Shades of Grey” is the bread and butter of parody

So “50 Shades of Grey” came out on Valentines Day (so what a relief for lonely women out there) and with it’s trailer came a whole cornucopia of reactionary videos from the elders reaction to youtube star inserts. But none of them comes close to the awesomeness when you add Steve Buscemi. Steve Buscemi is great in any trailer (check out his role in the SuperBowl Snickers Ad trailer), and with added to a trailer as dense of “Fifty Shades of Grey” it encompasses all the elements of a good piece of parody.

50 Shades of Grey

I’m not a believer in judging works I’ve never read or watched. However, it can be taken as given that the appeal of “50 Shades of Grey” is the sex (insert porn for bored housewives jokes here haha), shocking for a movie that seems lacking in the sex. What’s more the relationship between the two, Anastasia Steele, a young college senior, and, Christian Grey, the 27-year old successful entrepreneur and all around hunk. And all this sounds like something that isn’t erotic but a erotic-fantasy, with some cliche characters. All this is make the tone of the trailer of serious romantic drama very unaware of the reasons why it’s watched and the reasoning behind it’s source material, making it fertile ground for parody.

Steve Buscemi

Steve has occupied that odd area of Hollywood actors, prolific enough to be considered successful but never capturing the oscar-winning roles and appeal like Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio. Instead he has been the sidekick, the creepy guy, the psychotic gangster, the subversive character that we can all recognize. Because of his subversive character he is the iconic guy for jabbing fun and parodic. Jamie Dornan is a nondescript beefcake who got the role because every other actor with talent decided it was beneath them. Replacing Jamie Dornan with Steve Buscemi is inserting a character who is creepy, funny, flawed and in it’s most subversive act acting more human than Jamie Dornan could ever be.

The Trailer

By inserting Steve Buscemi into the trailer, it’s a subversion of the weakness of the characters and the nature of the protagonist relationships. While it can be argued that the relationship between the two main characters is an abusive one, it’s really just the sexual erotic fantasy of E.L. James written out for poorly developed characters. Steve brings out how the relationship would honestly play out as from hilarious to disturbing and utterly subverting the trailer which takes itself too seriously.

We could all use a little parody now and then, and at times it can be poorly implemented or mean-spirited. This is parody done right, to subvert and to poke at another piece of work, and so we can view something in sometimes a more honest light.

Jordan King & Clint Eastwood

Why Middle Eastern Kings quote Hollywood

So King Abdullah has started thinking he can carry a Winchester and go all squint-eyed on ISIS. With him quoting Clint Eastwood from “Unforgiven” and with fighter pilot experience (Not like Mr. Mission Accomplished who shirked Vietnam) we have a crazy chance that a head of state might actually lead his troops into battle like it was the Medieval Ages. But let’s get back to King Abdullah, a Middle-Eastern King, quoting America’s favourite gritty cowboy.

It may be odd for a head of state to quote Hollywood, but it’s a testament to Abdullah’s savviness of how pop culture narratives influences our perception of reality. 

Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven

While I’m sure Jordanians watch Hollywood movies, Abdullah was talking to U.S. lawmakers who have at least watched a Clint Eastwood film (I would expect that Dirty Harry is required watching for every Republican) and undoubtedly enjoyed the escapism of them. Now “Unforgiven” is a great film, four Academy Award wins including Best Picture and Best Director is the definition of a great film. A hallmark movie for a genre that is unequivocally American and part of it’s psyche.  And announcing ones intentions for  “Any man I see out there, I’m gonna kill him. Any son of a bitch takes a shot at me, I’m not only going to kill him, I’m going to kill his wife and all his friends and burn his damn house down.” can be taken that Abdullah is as serious as Clint Eastwood’s face.

Of course Jordanian Kings isn’t the only head of state to try and evoke the power of popular culture in political rhetoric. Kim Jong Un, was his usual adorable self again and refused to hold talks with the US (unless it’s US giving food aid) calling them gangsters.

Scarface & Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un was probably trying to channel the best of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, his movie knowledge likely from powering through his dear departed dad’s movie library. He was likely using the definition of our gangster narratives. The stories from Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese. The rags to riches rise to the top of the criminal underworld, losing friends and family along the way until the inevitable downfall as a metaphor for U.S. capitalist culture. Or maybe gangsters is a naughty word in North Korea. Who knows with the country that threatened to bomb J-Pop?

But King Abdullah on the other hand is a smarter sort of chap who runs a country a little more competently than the land of people who think grass is nutritious. Because Abdullah isn’t just making sure the U.S. fully understand his intentions but also setting up his and his country’s narrative of vengeance against ISIS. “Unforgiven” is about inexperienced boys getting caught in violence and old veterans embracing it. Quite appropriate for the situation. Something that King Abdullah means full well and ensure he is going to bring narrative compliance of destroying ISIS.

Article Jordan - Airstrikes

Kia Pierce Brosnan Feature Image

Why Superbowl ads are about Meta-Casting – by an ex-James Bond

So the chili recipes have been tasted, beers have been jugged and another Superbowl has come and gone. Incidentally good job Patriots! And we have finally caught the full ad for the the Danny Trejo Snickers ad, I was talking about last week. And regardless if you have or haven’t seen it, it deserves a watch so check it out below!

However Snickers wasn’t the only ad that had a celebrity-driven Ad. You may have caught Pierce Brosnan’s KIA ad, by David & Goliath, starring Pierce Brosnan trying to audition for James Bondsy sort of role.

And it’s beautifully tongue in cheek because of course Pierce Brosnan thinks he’s being asked to go James Bonding around. He’s the Michael Keaton of James Bond actors (I mean seriously can you name any of the movies he’s been in after James Bond?). And that’s what makes it so awesome. It’s not just an example of Meta Casting, a common enough trope for ads. But also being Meta to another level of literal; poking fun at the Meta Casting of Pierce Brosnan.

The ad’s message is of the  buy-this-because-I-use-it-and-I’m-popular that is one of the oldest techniques in ads. And with Superbowl ads expected to be such high budget amazingness that people (like me) watch the Superbowl just to see them, casting prolific actors is one of the easiest ways to make it happen, e.g. William Shatner’s newest Superbowl Ad or Seth Rogens from a couple years ago.

What’s so special about Pierce Brosnan’s ad is that it is a fulfillment of our modern narrative aplomb with self-awareness of our own pop culture consumption and we go along with it with a snigger and a wink. We see Pierce Brosman expect the ad to conform to what he expects everyone expects of him, just spy-thriller action car chases until it’s no just a regular car driving through beautiful scenery ad. We aren’t given the stereotypical ad of most car commercials or the meta-casted ad of the celebrity doing what he’s famous for, but how we imagine the planning session plays out. The ad is aware we want high-quality ad with a tight-story that makes maximum use of Pierce Brosnan and how we see him and how he knows we see him: his one-hit role as James Bond and nothing else.

KIA Slogan The Perfect Getaway Vehicle

In marketing it can be taken to acknowledge our understanding of what consumers think of a brand and what they want from it. This is encapsulated in the slogan: “The perfect getaway vehicle” a perfect play in this clean sentiment of Kia’s expectations but also Pierce Brosman’s expectations, and our expectations? We came here to watch the ads of course we’re going to admire how clever the slogan is in it’s own right.