"Everything is as it should be."

                                                                                  - Benjamin Purcell Morris

 

 

© all material on this website is written by Michael McCaffrey, is copyrighted, and may not be republished without consent

2018 Mid-Term Elections

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Ever since Trump was elected president in 2016, the media have declared that he would face a comeuppance in the form of vast Democrat victories, or as they call it, a “blue wave”, come the 2018 mid-term elections. While I would like to think that would happen…I don’t think that will happen.

As long time readers know, I was one of “those people” who, in the face of a cavalcade of opposite opinion in the media and in my social circles, accurately predicted Trump’s victory in 2016. As I said in my writing from that time, I didn’t want Trump to win (nor was I a Hillary supporter), I just thought he would. I ended up being right and we have all had to suffer through the never ending reality show that is Trump TV ever since.

The formula I used to predict Trump’s 2016 victory is my McCaffrey Wave Theory, which again, I am sure long-time readers are sick of hearing about…but what can you do? My wave theory uses, among other things, popular culture, most specifically, at least currently, film and television, as indicators of the mood in the collective unconscious. The formula of the McCaffrey Wave Theory is actually very complex and complicated, and takes into account numerous cultural and historical “waves” or “cycles” that are all simultaneously in motion.

Interpreting the data from these waves/cycles and measuring their relationship to one another is how the McCaffrey Wave Theory is able to “predict” certain turn of events. And to be clear, this is not about being Nostradamus and saying planes will fly into buildings on 9-11, but rather about understanding the ebbs and flows of the collective unconscious and knowing when both big and small shifts will occur when portions of the collective unconscious become conscious.

The key elements of the McCaffrey Wave Theory are the archetypes, narratives and sub-texts prominent in films/tv along with their color scheme and visual/cinematic tendencies. These data points are how my wave/cycle theory is able to discern which films and/or television shows are leading indicators and which are lagging indicators of the collective unconscious. Leading indicator films are the ones that express the unconscious desires/fears of the collective, while lagging indicator films are the ones that express conscious fears or desires of the collective.

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Some examples of leading indicator film and tv were pretty obvious in 2017 when HULU’s A Handmaid’s Tale (its narrative and vibrant red and green color scheme) and the DC film Wonder Woman (its narrative and red and blue color scheme) jumped to the fore of our culture in the early summer. These two successful projects accurately foretold of the coming feminist outcry and the rise of the #MeToo movement in the wake of the Weinstein revelations that came out in October of 2017.

A good example of a lagging indicator film was in 2017 as well, when Steven Spielberg rushed into production his thinly veiled anti-Trump/pro-Hillary film, The Post, that underwhelmed both at the box office and come awards time. The Post failed both artistically and financially because it was little more than wish fulfillment that attempted to give the audience what it wanted, not what the collective sub-conscious needed.

In the years leading up to the rise of Trump in 2016, there were numerous films and television shows that were ominous signs of a very dark impulse coming to the fore in American life and across the globe.

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Two glaring examples were HBO’s Game of Thrones with its marketing campaign which for years was warning us all with their ice-blue billboards proclaiming that “Winter is Coming”. The other was Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, a show about what America would be like if the Nazi’s and Japanese won World War II, which hit the airwaves in 2015 accompanied by a prodigious marketing campaign which had the Nazi Eagle on the American flag and the Imperial Japanese flag plastered all over the New York subway and elsewhere. Both of those shows resonated within the culture because they accurately gave voice to what was lurking in our collective unconscious. On some level we knew what was coming…a horrible “winter” and the Nazi’s/Not Sees…and these shows knew it before we were even conscious of it. (and don’t kid yourself, the Nazi/Not See impulse is not solely of the right, the left has a strong Not See impulse too).

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In 2015 there were many films that were also giving us warning signs of big trouble ahead. The Martian, The Hateful Eight, The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens were all through their narratives, color schemes (Martian - Red, Hateful 8 - Blue, Revenant - Blue, Star Wars - Red and Blue) and cinematic visuals (shots of foreboding vast expanses) the equivalent of a flashing red sign that a gigantic storm was coming.

In 2016 things got even clearer, as the blockbusters Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and even La La Land all revealed through their narratives (internecine warfare), sub-text and color schemes (all of them with vibrant clashes of red and blue) that our cultural train was headed off the track if not the cliff.

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As I have previously written, last year cinema gave us some signs of what to expect going forward. The big archetype of the year in 2017 was Winston Churchill…with the films Dunkirk, Darkest Hour and the Netflix show The Crown. The Churchill archetype can be interpreted in numerous ways, but when seen in conjunction with other wave/cycles, it strikes me that the Churchill archetype is manifesting in the Trump’s of the world…in other words…it is actually the Churchill shadow archetype that is taking center stage.

Which brings us to this year and the mid-terms. As I said, there has been incessant talk of a blue wave and in its jubilant wake the possibility of a Democratic House and maybe even Senate where, like a scene out of The Godfather where Michael settles all family business, liberals exact revenge by impeaching not only of Trump but Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh. As entertaining as that liberal porn may be…I don’t think it is going to happen.

According to my wave theory, there will be no blue wave. Not only will the Democrats not win the Senate, I don’t think they will win the House either, and if they do it will be by the skin of their teeth. Now…before you stick your head in the oven…to be very, very clear…I could certainly be wrong about this, God knows it wouldn’t be the first time. For starters, I have never used my wave theory to predict a mid-term before, and it could be I am interpreting the data entirely incorrectly, this is a distinct possibility. But with that said, ever since last June, when I wrote a piece for CounterPunch on the topic, along with a follow up posting on this blog in July, I have thought that this blue wave was a mirage.

As I stated in my CounterPunch piece, the big warning signs for me were the prominence and success of both Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, both of which had narratives, sub-text and color scheme that spoke clearly of the failure of the opposition to Trump to succeed in toppling him.

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Other films, such as A Quiet Place, Hereditary and even A Star is Born, that have all resonated deeply within the culture this year, are also leading indicators of a Democratic failure come the mid-terms because of their narratives and sub-text. Believe it or not, A Star is Born is remarkably insightful sub-textually and that sub-text very clearly (once you crack the code of it) states that if not Trump, then at least Trumpism, is here to stay as a replacement for the old paradigm, as indicated by the song in the film “Maybe it’s time we let the old ways die”. (I hope to have a full analysis of A Star is Born done soon).

Just as importantly, there are lagging indicator films that are, just like Spielberg’s The Post in 2017, falling flat, which highlight what isn’t resonating in the collective unconscious. Films with similar narratives, like the “aggrieved and under-appreciated genius wife/power behind the throne” stories of The Wife and Colette, or the “police shooting/racism” films The Hate U Give, Monsters and Men and Blindspotting, have all fallen flat in the broader culture. Even the colossal failure of the cinematic celebration of multi-culturalism and female empowerment, A Wrinkle in Time, is telling us what is going on in our collective unconscious, and it isn’t good news.

Now…maybe I am dead wrong about all this…maybe I am misreading and misinterpreting the data, that is a distinct possibility. Maybe the Democrats win a huge majority in the House and even get one in the Senate…but neither of those things will lead to a return to “normal”…only an escalation of the clash for civilization that is currently taking place.

Even if Democrats win, the intensity of the political turmoil here in America will not recede but proceed at an even quicker pace. Two more years of impeachment talk and congressional hearings will only heighten the tensions that are already near a boil. If you thought Trump was awful these last two years, wait until he faces an existential threat to his presidency from a Democratically controlled House and possibly Senate.

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On the other hand, if, as I have been predicting since June, there is not blue wave, don’t expect tensions to lessen. If Democrats fail to gain the House, Trump will turn his obnoxiousness up to 11 and liberals and the media will ratchet up the crazy to unseen heights. And on top of that, if Mueller ends his investigation with no bombshells or smoking gun of “Russian collusion”, the liberal and Democratic meltdown will make Chernobyl look like a cookout.

In other words…no matter the outcome on November 6th, the conflagration that is American politics will only grow bigger, hotter and much more dangerous.

The reality is that there is no stopping the collapse of the institutions of western civilizations. Trust me, we have a very, very bumpy road ahead. That means more authoritarianism across the globe (Bolsonaro will win in Brazil) and more shocks to the system, like economic earthquakes, natural disasters and war.

The good news is that this current wave/cycle of collapse and destruction will not last forever. Eventually, after maybe a decade or so (or God help us a decade or two), this collapse and destruction wave/cycle will transform into a more optimistic wave/cycle of growth, stability, relative peace and prosperity. Remember, destruction is the first act of creation, and we will create, hopefully, a more just, localized, thoughtful and sustainable civilization in the crater where this one once stood.

As for the bad news…we are still in the destruction phase…and come November 7th there are going to be a lot of really pissed off Democrats, liberals and anti-Trumpers, who will still have no power in Washington with which to vent their rage. And if you thought things have been bad the last two years, what ‘til you get a load of what comes next because you ain’t seen nothing yet.


©2018

Disturbing Dispatches From "Real America"

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes 11 seconds

I just returned from two weeks spent outside of my Hollywood enclave in what some would describe as "real America" where I went on a road trip from Central Pennsylvania (aka Pennsyl-tucky) to Cape Cod with various stops in between. On my journey I spoke with some regular people about their thoughts on Trump and American politics and came away struck by the disconnect between those ordinary folks and the liberal bubble in which I exist.

Since all of the information that I gathered is entirely anecdotal it should be subject to skepticism as it may very well be a result of my own confirmation bias, but with that said, the conclusion I came to after this jaunt through "real America" is that I am positive that in the battle for hearts and minds here in America, Trump is winning and winning bigly.

As I spoke with these "regular people", none of whom are particularly political, it became clear that Trump is going to win in November of 2018 (Republicans will hold onto the House and Senate) and will win re-election in 2020.

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One of the most glaring things that stood out to me in my travels were the remarkable number of American flags on display. It reminded me of my childhood in Reagan's America as I have not seen that sort of unadulterated display of patriotism since the 80's. But what was fascinating to me was that the definition of patriotism and even of America has changed dramatically. "America" is not what the media thinks it is..."America" is not its institutions - the FBI, CIA or the rest of the establishment and government. "America" is now regarded as only the "regular people" throughout the country and not the leadership class. This new "America" is stridently nationalist and populist and marginally traditionalist.

This new form of nationalist populism is striking because it doesn't bring with it a muscular and belligerent militarism like Reaganism, quite the opposite. The folks I spoke with had no interest in spreading American exceptionalism overseas at the end of a gun but what they were interested in was a nativist isolationism at home where immigration is either slowed or stopped, illegal immigration is dealt with swiftly and effectively and free trade is drastically reduced.

The people with whom I spoke are not members of any political party, are not active in politics and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats at one time or another.  Nearly all of these people, even the ones who usually vote Democrat, commented on how much they loathe the waves of immigration from Central America that they believe negatively effects the "American" culture.

On the bright side, no one I spoke with said they liked Trump, in fact, even among his most ardent supporters, he was routinely called a "jackass" or a "clown", but they still supported him because he "gets things done". To a person, the Trump "voters/supporters" were not enthralled with him personally but they were most definitely much more disgusted with business as usual in Washington than with Trump's antics. Each and every one of them expressed contempt for Washington and most especially the media.

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The venom spewed towards the media by these folks was pretty intense. I was thinking about these "regular Americans" when I sat in an airport waiting for my flight home and saw the news of Trump's summit with Putin and his allegedly disastrous press conference afterwards. CNN had a headline on the screen that read "Trump throws intelligence agencies under the bus". I laughed when I read it because I knew how "real Americans" were going to see that headline and the media coverage of the Russia summit, and it was the exact opposite of what CNN and their establishment media cohorts intended.

According to "regular Americans", the intelligence agencies are symbolic of the corruption of Washington and they, along with the mendacious media, are not to be believed in the slightest. The disconnect between how "regular Americans" view the Trump-Putin summit and how the media and establishment view it, would absolutely shock those making a fuss over Trump's performance at the summit. In addition, the Russian election hacking story and Mueller probe did not even register on the radar of these "regular Americans", as the story held zero interest to them.  

The subjects that did resonate with them were immigration and the economy. They liked Trump's approach on immigration, including the Muslim ban, and were very pleased with the economy, even though many of them felt no tangible results from any of Trump's policies, and in a remarkable bit of disconnect, some even had felt negative consequences from his policies (tariffs).

These "regular Americans" consistently gave Trump the benefit of the doubt whenever he had made an error and blamed the media for being too tough on him. Trump, even though he is President and controls both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court, is seen as an underdog and an outsider fighting against a thoroughly corrupt system. 

My discussions with these "regular Americans" put my Isaiah/McCaffrey Wave Theory research into very clear focus. In an almost horrifying realization...I discovered that the Churchillian archetype that was so prominent last year in the films Dunkirk, Darkest Hour and the television show The Crown, has manifested itself in the form of Trump (and to an extent in other authoritarians like Putin, Erdogan, Xi and Duterte) and not in resistance to him.

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This Churchillian archetype has coalesced around Trump not in a war against an external enemy but rather in the internal civil war against the establishment (globalists). The Trump brand of nationalism, a concoction made up of a pinch of Reaganism, a dash of traditionalism and a glob of reality television populism, that my fellow Hollywoodites see as unadulterated fascism, is what the Churchillian archetype is fighting for, and that is a chilling realization when you understand how compelling that archetype currently is in our collective unconscious. This is why Trump is perceived by "real Americans" as the underdog and outsider and given the benefit of the doubt in his battle against the globalist establishment.

As Jung teaches, archetypes are neither good nor bad, they are amoral and can manifest and express themselves through a multitudes of ways. America being in the throes of the Churchillian archetype and Trump being the one through which it manifests, is a stunning turn of events, but it rather makes sense when you look at it through the prism of the other, overarching archetype also revealing itself in our world (and through Trump) at the moment...Mercury...the trickster god.

Psychologically and emotionally, Trump is terribly ill-equipped to carry the weight of the Churchillian archetype, nevermind the extremely powerful Mercury archetype, which is why we get such erratic and incoherent performances from him, but to be fair, Churchill was ill-equipped to carry the Churchillian archetype as well (which would explain his numerous battles with the Black Dog of depression)...and upon closer inspection the mythos surrounding Churchill is riddled with canyon sized cracks.

Trump supporters are not blind to his faults, they just don't care about them. Trump the man, just like Churchill the man, is almost irrelevant, it is the myth of Trumpism that matters just as it was the myth of Churchill that carried Great Britain through its Darkest Hour.

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In the 80's, America fell for the flag waving, free market nonsense of Reaganism, and we still haven't even come close to recovering nearly 40 years later. Trumpism will have an even longer lasting effect on America, and it may very well be the end of the "American experiment" either because Trumpism wins, or because of the means the #resistance, including the intelligence community, use to rid themselves of this troublesome priest (Trump) will, like Brutus and friends when they conspired to eliminate the threat of Caesar to the Republic of Rome, lead to a path of self-destruction.

Regardless, those who think things will go back to normal when Trump is gone are in for a rude awakening...there is no going back. There is a new normal, and it is Trumpism. The fever of Trumpism is spreading and before it's done America and Americans across the political spectrum will be transformed into something they would not have been able to recognize a mere two years ago.

In conclusion, from my admittedly limited investigation into "real America", I came away stunned by the instinctual support not so much for Trump but for Trumpism out there. This is very bad news for anyone who opposes Trump (I know a lot of people who do), and I know the polls say otherwise, but my impressions are that his support is very strong and growing. Make no mistake about it...Trump is winning and the resistance is losing.

Deserving or not, Trump is the vessel in which the Churchillian archetype has manifested and is a vassal to the powerful Mercury archetype. One result of which is that the old knee-jerk patriotism of Reaganism has morphed into the new "nationalism" of Trumpism, and there is no breaking that spell in the short-term.

We can think that the buffoonish Trump is a joke...but the reality is that the joke is on us, and Mercury, as always, will get the last laugh...on all of us...including Donald Trump.

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©2018

 

Profiles in PC Courage: Brave Millennials Attack 'Friends'

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes 33 seconds

Hyper-sensitive Millennials watching the 1990’s sitcom Friends on Netflix have been emotionally triggered by what they perceive to be the show’s homophobia and misogyny.

America is under attack. Just read the headlines, we are surrounded by vicious enemies intent on destroying our way of life. There are imaginary missiles being shot at Hawaii. Vladimir Putin is hiding under every American’s bed. And now Friends, that cornerstone of the 1990’s Must See TV craze, has been revealed to be the enemy within working to destroy our politically correct American values.

Friends, which ran from 1994 to 2004, followed the travails of the Friends, Ross and Rachel, Chandler and Monica, Phoebe and Smelly Cat and Joey and every woman in New York, and Americans, me among them, watched it with a religious fervor. Friends was so ubiquitous in the 90’s, you simply couldn’t escape it or it’s relentless ear worm of a theme song “I’ll Be There For You”, even star Jennifer Aniston’s hair cut “The Rachel” became a cultural craze.

So, how can a benign, mass market, corporate network television show like the 90’s beloved NBC sitcom Friends be anything but mild entertainment? Well, little did we know at the time, but Friends had a dirty little secret that, due to some very delicate and sensitive Millennials, has been exposed twenty years later.

The truth of Friends is this, as I and the rest of America were mindlessly enjoying the shenanigans of the Friends as they hung out in their ridiculously oversized New York City apartments and drank coffee at Central Perk, their absurdly welcoming coffee shop, we were actually being conditioned to hate women, homosexuals and fat people. I know it is hard to believe, and I am just as shocked as you are about this whole turn of events, but it is true. I know this because a bunch of Millennials took to Twitter to alert me to the error of my Friends watching ways and the malevolent evil infecting the show.

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This whole situation started because all ten seasons of Friends are now available on Netflix and Millennials have been checking out the show. As they watched, some of the more fragile Millennials got “emotionally triggered” when they noticed something sinister, namely that Friends is homophobic, misogynistic and fat-shames people…well…not all people, mostly just Monica, who, let’s be honest, was shamefully obese as a teenager.

These emotionally-triggered Millennials then took to the internet in a tizzy of Friends-fueled outrage to share their disgust at discovering all of the insensitive jokes about Chandler’s sexuality, Monica’s girth and empty-headed lothario Joey’s lust-fueled womanizing.

When I think of these brave young Millennials forcing themselves to sit through the politically incorrect nightmare of Friends just so they could inform me of its evils, I’m reminded of another generation of self-less young people who, at a similar age as the Millennials are now, 18, 19 and 20 years old, stormed the beaches at Normandy under a torrent of Nazi machine gun fire and were sacrificed by the thousands in order to assist the Allies in getting a foothold in Europe against Hitler’s war machine.

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Those young men who fought World War II have been branded the “Greatest Generation”, but after being “woke” by these anti-Friends Millennials, I have now come to realize that the true “Greatest Generation” of American heroes are actually the Millennial multi-cultural couch warriors braving the savage horror of watching Friends on Netflix. These courageous heroes and heroines have survived a fate much crueler than anything seen on D-Day, they’ve had to survive being exposed to the most brutal weapon of all, indelicate humor!

Friends’ homophobia, in particular, is an atrocity that is utterly shocking to behold in hindsight. I wish there had been some intrepid Millennials around back in the 90’s so they could have notified GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, about the horrific gay bashing comedy of Friends. In case you were unaware, GLAAD is a watchdog against homophobia in the media and they surely would have held a vile show like Friends to account for their anti-gay and hate filled humor. Oh wait…I just looked it up and it seems a non-Millennial did inform GLAAD back in the 90’s about Friends and GLAAD swiftly responded by nominating the show three times (1995,’96,’97) and awarding them once (1995) for their prestigious GLAAD Media Award which is to “recognize and honor various branches of the media for their outstanding representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives.”

I am flabbergasted that GLAAD was so easily duped by Friends!! I hope some Millennials valiantly take to twitter to do battle with GLAAD for their Chamberlain-esque appeasement of Friends back in ’95!

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Having had the scales torn from my eyes regarding Friends, I now look with a jaundiced eye to the other sitcoms of my past. With the true nature of Friends revealed, the whole house of Must See TV cards now crumbles and we are left with some very ugly truths. For example, Seinfeld wasn’t just a witty show about nothing, it was a piece of propaganda meant to uphold the patriarchy and white supremacy. Cheers was not an amusing little romp about a rag-tag group of fun-loving friends in a Boston bar but rather a vehicle to demean the working class as drunk and stupid while fat-shaming Norm in the process. The Cosby Show wasn’t a good-humored program about a kindly upper middle class African-American doctor and his family, but rather was a vehicle meant to uphold a veneer of normalcy that obfuscated the truth about a man and his serial sexually predatory behavior. (OK…that last one actually IS true.)

I was initially skeptical but have now been thoroughly convinced by the emotional Millennial outcry against Friends. I believe with all of my soul that my once best Friends, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross, and even Ross’s funny little monkey Marcel, have most egregiously over-stepped the bounds of decent humane behavior and political correctness with their homophobia, misogyny and fat-shaming.

I, for one, admire our newest “Greatest Generation”, the Millennials, and applaud them as they mount their revisionist history offensive against the scourge of past comedy that in hindsight may be considered slightly questionable and that makes them feel ever-so-mildly uneasy.

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When I think of these brave young men and women and the long fight that lay ahead for them, I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous rallying cry for the British as they faced down the Nazis. If Churchhill were alive today I’m sure he would tell Millennials…”We shall go on to the end. We shall fight Everybody Loves Raymond, we shall fight on against Frazier and The Golden Girls, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength against The Simpsons, we shall defend Political Correctness, whatever the cost may be (as long as it is minimal and requires no effort greater than tweeting). We shall fight Who’s the Boss from the 80’s, we shall fight Mary Tyler Moore and M*A*S*H* from the 70’s, and we shall fight The Dick Van Dyke Show from the 60’s and I Love Lucy from the 50’s; we shall never surrender!”

In closing and as thanks for enlightening me to the pernicious villainy of Friends, I want to share with my new Millennial “friends” these sage words of wisdom which struck a chord with me when I was a young man and might do the same for them as they make their way in the world. So Millennials, rouse yourself from your parent’s couch, put down your energy drink, your vape and your iPhone 8 and lose yourself in the insipid, banal brilliance of The Rembrandts “I’ll Be There For You”…and try not to get too offended.

“So no one told you life was going to be this way.

Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.

It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,

when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but…I’ll be there for you (when the rain starts to pour)

I’ll be there for you (like I’ve been there before)

I’ll be there for you (cause you’re there for me too)!”

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2018 AT RT.

©2017

Darkest Hour: A Review

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****THIS IS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!!! THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!!****

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

My Recommendation: SEE IT - in the theatre if you like very conventional movies or SKIP IT - if you are a creature of the art house, and see it on cable or Netflix for free.

Darkest Hour, written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Joe Wright, is the story of Winston Churchill in the very early days of his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II. The film stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, with supporting turns from Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James and Stephen Dillane.

"I MAY BE DRUNK, MISS, BUT IN THE MORNING I WILL BE SOBER AND YOU WILL STILL BE UGLY." - WINSTON CHURCHILL

My late father was quite the well-read history buff and was a great admirer of Winston Churchill. My father also had, frankly, a rather pedestrian taste when it came to films, or as he would call them "flicks". For instance he loved the movie Hanky Panky starring Gene Wilder but loathed Apocalypse Now. Like my father, I too enjoy history (although certainly not the kind of history he would approve of) but unlike my father I am a creature of the art house whose cinematic tastes run to the more high minded or as he would say, I am a "movie snob". I plead guilty as charged. 

In regards to Darkest Hour, the film is a much more serious undertaking than Hanky Panky, but I think my father would have thoroughly enjoyed this movie a tremendous amount because it is a straight forward, standard Hollywood historical drama. I, on the other hand, was, for the most part, terribly underwhelmed by the film for the exact reason conventional film fans will like it. I didn't hate Darkest Hour, but I didn't love it either, which disappointed me no end as I had high expectations. 

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Gary Oldman has long been one of my favorite actors. Oldman is a unique actor because, although he is British, he is a very "American" actor. What I mean by that is that he embodies much of what the "American school" of acting, particularly in the 1970's, cherished, namely a wild, incandescent and powerfully volcanic artistic energy. Unlike Oldman's fellow British actors of his generation like Daniel Day-Lewis, Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh, Oldman is not the picture of artistic refinement and reserve, but more a study in the artistically voracious libido and barely contained fury. 

Oldman's earlier iconic work as Sid Vicious, Lee Harvey Oswald, Dracula and Beethoven made him an cult idol among other actors. Actors of my generation were enamored with Oldman's embrace of chaos and robust unpredictability that pulsated with a mesmerizing fearlessness. 

In recent years Oldman has shifted to a more finely crafted and technically precise approach to his work, most notably in Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy. In Darkest Hour, Oldman has the best of both worlds as he is able to combine both his acute attention to detail, his supreme mastery of craft and his combustible artistic energy to create his very own sublime version of Winston Churchill. 

Oldman's Churchill is not the legend we have been force fed ad infinitum, but rather he is an almost Trumpian figure in his insecurity and lack of respectability. Oldman plays Churchill as a mentally frenetic and emotionally frightened mouse running on a wheel chasing something he wouldn't know what to do with if he caught it. Oldman's inquisitive eyes dart around seeking solace amidst the ocean of Churchill's self doubt while they simultaneously convey a deep sensitivity that reveals more about the man than any of his bombastically eloquent words ever could. 

Playing an iconic historical figure is always fraught with artistic danger for the actor. Historical icons are not people they are archetypal gods, and when actors try to portray them they usually play the legend and not the actual humanity behind it. Oldman does not make that error, as his Churchill is only too human with his signature explosive rage occasionally bubbling to a surface that borders on the doddering and frail. 

Oldman's work as Churchill would be guaranteed to win an Oscar in years past, but with a whole new membership in the Academy, predicting Oldman's win is a much dicier proposition now. He is certainly worthy of an Oscar for his work in Darkest Hour, that is for sure, but he has been worthy of the award before and has only received one nomination in his entire career (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). 

"IF YOU'RE GOING THROUGH HELL, KEEP GOING." - WINSTON CHURCHILL

Unfortunately, Darkest Hour never lives up to the superior work Gary Oldman does in it. The film is a painfully conventional filmmaking exercise. The movie suffers from serious perspective problems that undermine it as a character study of Churchill and instead turn the movie into a rather poor, paint-by-numbers historical bio-pic. If director Joe Wright had simply given the audience only Churchill's perspective rather than his secretary, his wife and his political opponents perspective, than Oldman's transcendent performance would have been even more phenomenal and created a more intimate and ultimately interesting film about Churchill.

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In a film when you show a historical icon like Churchill through the eyes of the people around him, you are just regurgitating legend, which is never artistically satisfying, whereas when you show the personal, inner life of a historical icon, then you are giving audiences a truly intriguing and unique perspective on the humanity behind the legend. Churchill was a brilliant performer, well aware of his image and controlling and massaging it in order to manipulate people. Director Joe Wright makes the mistake of showing us Churchill as performer and does not give us enough glimpses behind the curtain to see the true man. Perspective issues like this are a deadly trap when making a historical bio-pic, and sadly, director Joe Wright fell face first into it.

The perspective issue isn't the only problem with the movie, as the dialogue at times borders on the embarrassing. Besides Oldman, there are some serious acting issues as well. Kristin Scott Thomas is a fine actress but she gives a dreadfully broad performance as Churchill's wife Clementine. There are also a coterie of actors in a sequence in a subway that are all so bad they are simply atrocious. 

"NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP." - WINSTON CHURCHILL

On the bright side, one actress who does do solid work in a supporting role is Lily James who plays Churchill's secretary Elizabeth Layton. James is an alumnus of Downton Abbey and proves herself a capable and compelling actress in Darkest Hour

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There are a few sequences in the film involving Ms. James' character that I am interested to see if they garner any attention due to the current climate of sex panic sweeping the globe (RIP: Careers of Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer…just kidding…couldn't have happened to two bigger charlatans). For instance, Churchill often worked from his bed and would have secretaries come into his room and take dictation while he lounged in his sleeping clothes. In the film, Churchill twice has "Charlie Rose" moments of inappropriateness with his secretary who simply giggles the embarrassment away. As I watched these scenes I could not help but wonder if our current Sex Panic Outrage Machine will be aimed at Darkest Hour for "trivializing" such behavior that has recently become abhorred. Ironically enough, if Harvey Weinstein had a film in competition with Darkest Hour for an Oscar, you can bet your ass he would surreptitiously weaponize that issue in a campaign against the movie in order to beat it at the Oscar ballot.

As for Darkest Hour's artistic crew, they do create a nice-to-look-at version of 1940's England, as the set and costume design are supremely well done. Oldman's makeup is seamless and really remarkable as well, so much so that except for his expressive eyes, it is tough to tell it is Gary Oldman and not really Winston Churchill.

"YOU HAVE ENEMIES? GOOD. THAT MEANS YOU'VE STOOD UP FOR SOMETHING, SOMETIME IN YOUR LIFE." - WINSTON CHURCHILL

Beyond that, Joe Wright shows he is really not much of a heavyweight director and it is his failings that ultimately doom Darkest Hour to the purgatory of the average. As much as I enjoyed Gary Oldman's performance, as a cinephile I ended up being unimpressed by Darkest Hour. The film also suffers from the fact that the far superior Dunkirk covered some of the same history and material as did Darkest Hour. Which brings me to the McCaffrey/Isaiah Wave Theory. The McCaffrey-Isaiah Wave Theory is a predictive model that in conjunction with other elements, uses commercially and/or critically successful films as sign posts of the collective unconscious and leading indicators of future trends.

The McCaffrey-Isaiah Wave Theory is much too complicated to get into here (at the pace I am currently on, I hope to have my book on the subject finished by my ancestors no later than the spring of 2269) but there are some things to note in regard to Darkest Hour. The most obvious one is this…the Winston Churchill archetype is currently ascendant in our culture. Besides Darkest Hour and Dunkirk, in which Churchill never appears but his spirit and words are ever present, there was Jon Lithgow's Emmy Award winning performance as Churchill on Netflix's very popular show The Crown. Anytime an archetype shows up three times in a calendar year you know it is an energy that refuses to be ignored. 

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The Churchill archetype is a brand that is often misappropriated because it is so Manichean in its clarity. Churchill stood strong against the Nazi's, therefore modern politicians and their supporters think of their enemies as Nazis and themselves as Churchill. For instance, Dubya was held up as a Churchillian figure by sycophants in his party and the media in regards to the invasion of Iraq and his quixotic "War on Terror". No doubt Trump supporters see him as a Churchillian figure standing up to entrenched political interests and the deep state that have suffocated America. 

The danger of the Churchill archetype is that it too easily feeds the impulse to be obstinate, aggressive and intellectually incestuous. There are a lot of Churchills running around right now convinced their enemies are Nazis and that they themselves are on the side of the righteous. Obviously, the obstinacy of Churchill-ism does not thrive in domestic politics, as even Churchill himself struggled mightily when the focus was entirely on domestic affairs.  

That said, Churchill was certainly a unifying figure for the British when, at their "Darkest Hour", they desperately needed one. The ascendance of the Churchill archetype at our current moment is leading to more division and less unification domestically because of a lack of an existential external threat. If an event occurs, a catastrophic terror attack or North Korea military action for instance, then maybe the Churchill archetypal energy will cease to be one that fuels civil strife but rather unites peoples in a battle against forces that threaten them from afar. Regardless of how the Churchill archetypal energy manifests, it is important to be conscious of it because it is a powerful force and one that can be very destructive and sometimes self-destructive.

"WITHOUT TRADITION, ART IS A FLOCK OF SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD. WITHOUT INNOVATION, IT IS A CORPSE." - WINSTON CHURCHILL

As far as the film Darkest Hour goes, Gary Oldman does give a truly magnificent performance that is definitely worth seeing at the very least on Netflix or cable. If your taste in films runs more to the standard and conventional, then I think you will really like this film and recommend you go pay to see it in the theatre. If you are an art house connoisseur and cinephile such as myself, then the conventionalism of this film will frustrate you and you'll be better off waiting to see it for free when and where you can. As to which of those groups you belong, like Churchill, only you can be the final arbiter of that decision.

©2017