"Raze" / The Liberty Error / The Politics of Apathy

edgar roy green, 04.12.13

Someone needs to check this retard's basement

Josh C Waller. He's just made a film called "Raze" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzyuFMr4MO0], in which fifty or so women are trapped and forced to fight each other to the death for the audience's amusement. From the trailer (all I've seen so far, and more than enough to understand the films intentions) I gleamed that if the women lose, their family members get killed. In a recent interview he said he didn't want to make a political statement, he just wanted to make a fun film. This lazy shit has been spouted now too often by too many people it's hardly a shock but in this particular context I have to ask – what's fun about watching a load of women get the shit kicked out of them? Maybe that statement is sexist in itself but it doesn't lose anything in its extension – what's fun about watching a load of anything get the shit kicked out of them? What the fuck does this rancid cunt do in his spare time? Something's wrong here. It might be psychologically challenging, or philosophically interesting. It might be designed along those lines where the notion is to present a more subjective experiential or moral challenge, as opposed to more objective political consideration – a la Battle Royale. The game Manhunt also springs to mind, a fucking belter of a good game with a similar premise and a beast of psychological experience. But would I call it fun? Not if I'm using the term properly. But even if this is just a linguistic argument I still think we need to keep an eye on this weirdo.

There's more to this though than fetishizing violence against women. It's much discussed. Tarantino, for example, uses women as much as men in his films often and – physical and gender realism aside – it is symbolically empowering. As a starting point, having a realistic violent act in a film, against a women by a women, in an equal manner to the men in the film, might at a stretch be able to make a statement about gender equality. But this director isn't here to make a point, and it's time to address this objection directors, and other artists and craftsmen, have to making political statements. And I'll start from here – everything is political.

Politics is the act (and/or theory) of influencing other people through ideology. Communicating ideas. Any communicated idea is political. A film contains characters, who have opinions, attitudes and ideas and the interactions between those characters – who is vilified, who is put on a pedestal, and so on – creates a specific ideology, as well as giving us as an insight into the opinions, attitudes and ideas of the person(s) who made that film. So every film either suggests, influences, or at least reinforces particular ideas and values. If a studio system is willing to fund that film they must also a) share these same ideas and values and/or b) believe the general public will too. Both these aspects tell us something about society.

Let's move on. In "Raze" the director – or the studio, who knows – someone at some point has decided it should be specifically about women. By making that active choice (philosophical notions of free will aside – which I'll come back to) and deciding to focus only on women this individual has made a political decision. Every choice we make has social and political considerations and connotations. Unless he's an idiot. Which is likely. And which in turn also tells us something about society.

So what ideologies can we see in "Raze"? Well, I haven't seen the film, only the trailer, which a fool might use to instantly devalue my argument. But a trailer is a thing in itself, used to get people to go and see a film. And this particular trailer is full of ideological notions an statements. So let's re-phrase the question before I carry on, so even the pedants can come along. What ideologies can we see in the trailer for "Raze"? Firstly, and most gleamingly is the scenario – women told to fight to the death or their families will be killed. As a psychological scenario, much like Battle Royale and Manhunt, it's strong, challenging. But the world of the trailer is one which rewards ruthless individualism, domination and heartlessness, as well as managing to suggest that women need to be devious to survive. Only a world built on Ayn Rand's shoulders could've come up with a scenario which celebrates this. But instead of implying this is a hell to be changed, or even escaped from, the only solution is to become king of hell. We've a massive trend towards designing these inescapable hells, especially in horror films. Any ideas where this stems from? Answers on a postcard to, well, Ayn fucking Rand again I guess.

The other massive statement in the trailer, which manages to bracket the above both politically and philosophically is when they put a spin on the killing – "you made me kill her" our protagonist says, to which the response is as follows – "no, you chose to let your child live another day, I say good choice". Firstly this full-stops the individualist notions above with blood and tribe. Secondly, and more importantly, it introduces to the trailer – and the film – and the world that spawned it – the illusion of free will. Something is present here akin to the confused philosophical abortion that was "The Adjustment Bureau" in which we witnessed our own subconscious becoming our enemy! Here, in "Raze", we don't make you do anything. You make a choice. Thus you are empowered. But the choice she makes is made within an extremely restrictive set of choices. This is not free will. This is not empowerment. It is at best relative free will, within a forced, confined scenario. You have an infinite number of options, of attitudes, actions, and so on – here are the ones you can pick from! That's as close to freedom as they get. The film here makes the same philosophical error as we make in our daily lives.*

So here's some advice. If you're dealing with attitudes, ideologies and so on be aware that the statements you make, actively or passively, influence society. If you're not interested in understanding this element of your craft you are at best a fool. At worst you're a dangerous tool for maintaining a damaging and abusive status quo and promoting ideologies which aren't beneficial to the larger portion of society. So fuck off. Step down. Grow vegetables instead. Build walls. Direct traffic. Or just fucking kill yourself. The fact that you've stood up and said you don't want to make a political statement is in itself a political statement. It's a statement that you aren't prepared to take the time to try and understand the society you live in. Your apathy is the most political statement of all – that democracy has failed.

Edgar


*I'm aware that the philosophies of free will extend far further from here, but this is not an existentialist piece and to make it such would drown out the political points.
 

raze, josh c waller, politics of apathy, liberty error, edgar roy green, ayn rand,

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