Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Utopia, and All the Other Predictable Programs

Amazon has a new series out called Utopia. Of course, since this is 2020, there is nothing actually new anymore. And so it is that Utopia is a remake of a 2013 Channel Four series. The premise is that a bunch of geeks find a hidden prophecy to a devastating epidemic inside an old comic book and set out to foil the evil corporate conspirators working to make this prophecy come true.

LOL; you know it's a fantasy story when current-year geeks are doing anything but rolling up in total submission to globocrat power. Well, that, plus crying and shrieking hysterically. Plus, doxxing and harassing anyone who even looks sideways at absolute corporate hegemony.

Critics, themselves geeky and obsequiously-submissive to the technocrats, are slamming the series on account of muhCovid. The 100% compromised shill-site Rotten Tomatoes gives Utopia an aggregate score of 57%, bleating, "Utopia's cast and mystery at times transcend its overtly cynical and overly violent tendencies, but even those willing to look past the torture may find the whole thing too timely—in a bad way."

But one review in particular caught my eye. From the dependably cowardly and duplicitous Slate.com, we see this censorious headline: "Amazon’s Utopia Should Never Have Been Released in 2020: Gillian Flynn’s remake of the Channel 4 series isn’t just unnecessary. It’s spectacularly ill-timed."
(Utopia) plays very differently in 2020 than it did in 2013, and the results are catastrophic. As the characters discover, the reason the comic book contains clues to things that haven’t yet happened is that it was drawn by one of the architects of a plan designed to stave off planetary collapse as the population rises and fossil fuels run out.   
1. Convince the general public that there is an outbreak of a deadly new virus. To sell the story, poison or otherwise kill people, then attribute their deaths to the phony virus.
2. Once the fake pandemic is up and running and the public is terrified, announce that there is a vaccine that can defeat the virus.
3. With the help of global elites, NGOs, and world governments, inject everyone on the planet with this “vaccine” as quickly as possible.
4. Surprise! The vaccine is designed to permanently sterilize all or all but a certain percentage of the people who take it. Sit back and relax as the global population drops from 7.8 billion to about 500 million in a single generation, ushering in a new era of plenty.
500 million? That's an interesting number. Where did that come from?

Anyway, you can see why all this might be a problem for Slate. Especially Slate.
You can probably see the problem here, and it’s an insurmountable one. We are in the middle of an actual pandemic, a staggering number of Americans sincerely believe that that pandemic is a politically motivated hoax, and an equally staggering number believed vaccines were harmful years before COVID-19 emerged. 
It’s not the filmmakers’ fault we’re in this mess, it’s not their fault so much of the public is superstitious and gullible, and it won’t be their fault if Utopia gives some dumbass the confidence they need to quit wearing a mask and infect and kill you or the people you care about. 
FFS. This is the exact same party line we saw in 2016 with The X-Files revival. The MSM party line was, "Sure, this conspiracy stuff was fun in 1993, but now that our paymasters and class allies have seized absolute control over every institution and power-sector in this country, we mustn't say such things out loud anymore."

But seeing this was on Slate was especially interesting. Why? Read this:
Slate is an online magazine that covers current affairs, politics, and culture in the United States. It is known, and sometimes criticized, for adopting contrarian views, giving rise to the term "Slate Pitches". It has a generally liberal editorial stance. 
It was created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. 
That's why.

Of course, it didn't escape my attention back in 2013 that the premise of Utopia matched up suspiciously closely with blog posts I'd be writing since 2007 about Jack Kirby's eerie track record of prophecy, but that's no surprise. The TV racket is full of whores and pirates who sucked and/or bullshitted their way into plum gigs, even though they didn't have two ideas in their heads to rub together. That's just the way of the world.

Ironically, this new Utopia stars limousine Leninist John Cusack, who got a lot of attention here back in the early days, for being born the same day as Adrian Woodhouse, among other things..

Since I can't be bothered to watch this new remake, I'm reposting my 2013 review for posterity's sake. I cut out some of the preamble, which was all inside baseball on Kirby posts readers at the time would have been familiar with:

In 2010, Cracked, the unfunny listicle site which takes its name from an unfunny MAD knockoff, did their own version of these pieces, drawing on the equally impressive predictions/synchronicities of diehard Kirby apostle John Byrne (though Kirby's Challenger disaster prediction was a lot more specific than Byrne's) and padding them with a couple somewhat unimpressive 'predictions'.

I know for a fact that people at Cracked were reading The Secret Sun, because I was approached by a Cracked writer to do a piece on the Kirby stuff with him. But realizing you can't easily soundbite the Kirby stuff, it didn't happen.

But obviously some people at the UK's Channel Four were also reading, since the idea of a comic book "Nostradamus" predicting disasters and wars and whatnot became the basis for a series called Utopia, which also lifts all kinds of ideas from The X-Files as well.

The artist in question in Utopia is named 'Carvel', not Kirby, a name which still hits many of the same consonant sounds (b and v are both related labiodental consonant sounds), a trick writers like to utilize when disguising names in their fiction.

However it's presented, Utopia only pretends to be a "conspiracy" show. 

The series' writer/producer Dennis Kelly tells anyone who'll listen that he "doesn't believe in conspiracies", which is rather rich given the fact that his erstwhile employer the BBC is currently embroiled in a lurid and far-reaching conspiracy itself, namely the investigation into systemic sexual abuse of children by BBC personnel and personalities, currently being investigated under the rubric of Operation Yewtree.

Recent investigations have begun into suspicions that BBC reporter Jill Dando was murdered because she was investigating this conspiracy, and the sickening revelations about the loathsome Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter never seem to end.

Still don't believe in conspiracies, Denny? Or is that an impolitic question?

Of course, what Denny really means is that he's not a lower class weirdo who doesn't get wonderful writing gigs and get invited to all the chi-chi parties in London.

Not like Utopia's conspiracy theorist Wilson Wilson (who was obviously written as white -- and of course, racist -- until C4 "diversity" dictums kicked in), who utters absurdities like "caffeine was invented by the CIA" and keeps Mulder's "I Want to Believe" poster in his bedroom.

The plot, such as it is, throws together a group of accidental rebels trying to survive while being pursued by a pair of made-for-TV hitmen (one sports a quiff, the other gobbles on chocolate covered raisins), who are searching for the unpublished sequel to a cult graphic novel called Utopia as well as a mysterious woman named Jessica Hyde.

The protagonists are 2013 stock stereotypes: Becky, a Scottish student who claims to be researching Utopia for a paper, Ian, a black IT who still lives with his mum (he reads comics, get it?), Wilson Wilson, the unlikely-named Pakistani comics fan/'conpiracy buff' who still lives with his dad (this Kelly guy really pushes the stereotype here), Grant, a troubled young tough framed for a school shooting (Utopia originally came out a month after Sandy Hook), and Michael, another Scot, this one a civil servant who is being used by the conspirators because he is led to believe he knocked up the Russian prostitute he's been knocking boots with.

In accordance with latte leftists' fantasies, the nonwhite characters are wimpy and non-threatening and the villains are all middle-aged white Englishmen.

The main villains are played by James Fox and Stephen Rea, who do everything but twirl their mustaches. And that's only because they aren't wearing any (though Fox sports a devilish soul patch). They do chew as much scenery as they can get their teeth around, however.

There are lesser villains of the same stripe, all on loan from the same Saturday morning cartoon stock cabinet. In a rather daring move for C4, one of the villains is not a English man, but a English woman. I bet someone got fired over that move.

There's an awful lot of running around and far too much explicit violence, but when the nature of the conspiracy- a plan to sterilize most of the world using flu vaccines- is finally revealed any critical thinker wonders why it would be kept secret at all.

You'd think C4 viewers and Guardian readers would rise up into the streets demanding it. 

In fact I'm surprised they haven't already. Most of them have already essentially sterilized themselves, after all.

Kelly makes it a point to have two of the characters you'd expect to oppose such a thing agree with the conspiracy (one- and I won't say who- actually helps the conspirators), which of course reflects Kelly's own opinions. As well as all of the chi-chi people at those wonderful parties he wants to keep being invited to.

What Kelly is doing here is rather despicable, yet totally predictable in this day and age. He's taking the surface elements of conspiracy drama to lure his audience, and then using them to instill a sense of futility and surrender in his audience.

And as with all conspiracy dramas, once the conspiracy is known and the players are exposed a lot of the fizz goes out of the pop.


"It's over, give up, they're right, you know" is the ultimate message of Utopia. That message is like the buzzing of a gnat throughout the first series, until it stings you like a hornet at the series' end.

Worse still, the minute I saw the young boy I knew there'd be some kind of Yewtree business in the offing. And apropos of absolutely nothing (and against his will) we see him all dolled up in mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, rouge and lipstick for the last half of the series. It would be offensive, if it weren't so predictable.

It got me to wondering if there's another reason so many of these people don't want us believing in real conspiracies.

Utopia seems particularly trenchant- and not in a good way- as we face the worst Ebola outbreak in history, and as borders seem to be mere inconveniences to the mustache-twirlers in the real world. 

We're told not to panic, but it's highly doubtful we would be told to panic.