Hello! As we not-so-patiently await the publication of KSR's latest forthcoming masterpiece, The Ministry for the Future, Hilary and Matt embark on a bit of film chat, movie talk, cinema discussion, if you will.
This week we discuss the early 80s punk-verité masterpiece Born in Flames, which asks, what if there was a revolution and nothing changed?
Ten years after a successful socialist-democratic revolution (think Bernie Sanders winning the presidency), things are not looking so hot for certain members of society, namely women, LGTBQ+, and minorities--so, basically, everybody. And even the men ain't too thrilled, being forced into the new benevolent government's meaningless "workfare" jobs. In steps Adelaide Norris, a black queer female construction worker, rec league basketball player, and community organizer who's becoming increasingly militant. Adelaide is part of the so-called "Women's Army," a grassroots coalition of various women agitating for fundamental change in the organization of society and, importantly, work. She interfaces with a number of different factions and tendencies, including pirate radio hosts Isabel (Radio Ragazza) and Honey (Phoenix Radio), the editorial board of the Socialist Youth Review (featuring Kathryn Bigelow whe Point Break wasn't even a glimmer in her eye), and Zella Wiley, played by civil rights icon Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (defender, famously, of H. Rap Brown, Assata Shakur, the Black Panthers, and Valerie Solanas, among others).
This is a film that takes seriously the notion of "science fiction as the realism of our time," decades before Kim Stanley Robinson coined the phrase. There are no ray guns, spaceships, aliens, or even advanced technology. Instead, the film takes the social, political, and economic conditions of the day and asks "what if?" The way the film answers those questions, in terms of both form and content, result in a truly independent film with shades of neorealism, cinema verité, and punk, which resonates with films ranging from Battle of Algiers to They Live!. This is a film enacts the notion that "the personal is the political," asks what that would mean in all its complexity, and that understands that liberal feminism is just a bunch of bullshit.
A couple references:
We'll be back soon with more of whatever!
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