Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: Analyze This

For someone who fancies himself a storyteller, I’m REALLY terrible at telling stories. I have, like, no comprehension level. Whether it means not being able to remember phone numbers or summarize the plot of a book I’ve read, my mind does not have the ability to regurgitate the facts it absorbs. Like on the SATs where you have that little paragraph and then multiple answer questions asking what the paragraph is about? I could never figure those things out even though I read for pleasure a great deal.

I can kind of fake it, though, in my writing. I’ll probably be working on this review for a day or two, so after a ton of work I can make these words vaguely coherent. But I have real trouble thinking in a linear fashion. I lose track of where my thoughts are going and that’s the real reason my pieces are disjointed and jumpy. But I’ve sort of accepted that about myself, so I go with it and capitalize on it rather than write like somebody I’m not. I’ve become fond of my disjointed, jumpy writing.

That’s why I envy people like Noam Chomsky. Or they don’t even have to be famous people like that. I have a friend John who’s good at understanding and then explaining complex subjects. For example, I read an awesome interview with Chomsky this afternoon. If you were to ask me, verbally, what it was about I wouldn’t have any ability to tell you. John could. And for this little review, I’ll probably have to refer back to it fifty gazillion times to make sure I’m clear about what Chomsky was trying to say.

Oh, and by the way, if yer wondering what any of this has to do with ANALYZE THIS, it has nothing to do with the film. It was a funny movie, but I don’t have anything to say about it. It was there. I laughed, so it fulfilled its purpose. I wasn’t even going to post a review of it on the Underground Film Journal, but I bought the new issue of LUMPEN, the greatest zine in the universe, at See Hear on 7th Street in Manhattan and this is what I want to talk about.

If you want to be a trendy anti-authoritarian, you have to know who Noam Chomsky is. He’s generally ignored by the mainstream media, so he’s not really a name most people are familiar with. He’s an intellectual (and a professor of linguistics at MIT) who is our culture’s biggest critic. Most dissidents like him because he can take complicated issues and spell out their bottom line so that they can be understood. He’s also really good at looking at the “Big Picture”. Sometimes when I read interviews with him it goes right over my head, but this was a particularly good one in LUMPEN conducted by Adrian Zupp. I’m not sure who Adrian is, but LUMPEN is produced by some fun-loving anarchist types in Chicago.

The title of the interview is “Who Runs America?” and it’s a discussion of a topic I’ve become increasingly interested in for the past year or two – the corporatization of American life. One subject that I keep coming across that I’ve had trouble fully comprehending is when Chomsky states that we in America do not live in a democracy. That we live in a corporate controlled society and that corporations are totalitarian in structure, in that people have no say in which a corporation is run.

Which is kind of odd to think about. Of course we don’t have any say in how corporations are run because if we did, that essentially would be socialism which is an extremely dirty word to Americans. But since we don’t have socialism we have this pseudo-democracy that’s actually a tyranny. A good example, and I have to give myself some credit here since I discussed this in an editorial way back for the website diRt, is the attempt to turn over the Internet over to private power. It was developed by and for the people for the free exchange of ideas and now the big corporations are trying to figure out a way to turn it simply into a “home shopping channel” (as Chomsky puts it).

I sort of wish the interview went a little more in-depth, particularly on this topic because it seems to be one that pops up every now and again but there’s no real discussion about it. Is it going to be another situation like the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996? Suddenly this law came into effect that gave communications companies monopolistic control of the airwaves and of which “hundreds of billions of dollars of publicly owned property – namely the digital spectrum” was given away to a few megacorporations.

I remember reading about that in VARIETY. If my memory’s correct, the networks and cable companies agreed to use a TV ratings system, but only if they could get the digital spectrum for free instead of the government auctioning it off and collecting revenue. That’s almost comparable to me making a deal with the IRS that if I promise to be a good guy this year then I won’t have to pay any taxes. I wish I could do that. And I only read about that in VARIETY, the trade paper for the entertainment industry. In popular mainstream news, the only time I heard about the Reform Act was that it was going to lower cable rates for everybody. However, after it became law cable rates went up to as high as 20 percent in most cities. Hmm, Imagine that.

We do live in a tyranny. I can see that now because, as Chomsky notes, the government is shrinking, and thusly the public role in popular debate is shrinking, paving the way for business, defined by Chomsky as “unaccountable private power”, to get away with whatever it wants. Thanks to the Reform Act, and if the Internet falls into private hands, there’s going to be no public discussion about any important issues and that’s pretty damn close to being a totalitarian state.

It’s just something to think about.