Da Black Whole

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Manchurian Candidate

As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

Isaiah 3:12


Four modern films which capture the scope and character of spiritual warfare in America are Fight Club, Gangs of New York, The Manchurian Candidate, and the eclectic, overlooked and much misunderstood masked and anonymous.

These films are maps capable of helping Western men navigate the predatory waters of matriarchy. Like it or not, men are immersed in an ancient, fierce, and very real battle with various forces malevolent towards not only a free America, but towards the conception, expression, and spirit of masculinity itself.

Gangs of New York is set in Civil-War-era New York, but – like The Manchurian Candidate and Bob Dylan’s masked and anonymousGangs is a film about spirituo-tribal warfare in present-day America. Beneath the apparent novelty of the plot a primal conflict is running in real-time, refracted in historical events.

Each film, in a slightly different way, reveals the cultural sickness and spiritual rot plaguing America, and in complex and diverse ways, each film traces the disease to a void of masculine leaders and values.

I’ll look at spiritual tactics in Gangs of New York and masked and anonymous later, and concentrate for now on Jonathan Demme’s superb The Manchurian Candidate (because the DVD rental is due back on Saturday!)

In 2003 Demme remade John Frankenheimer’s classic 1962 story of political intrigue and brainwashed assassins, The Manchurian Candidate. Both versions are sometimes-closely, sometimes-loosely based on Richard Condon’s prophetic 1959 novel of the same name. The plot concerns a group of soldiers who have been drugged, tortured, hypnotised, propagandized, and brainwashed into becoming slave-murderers for Hidden Interests – which, in Demme's remake, updated following the Identity Revolution, turns out to be Mom Incorporated.

And indeed, in the span between the film’s original 1962 release and Demme’s 2003 version, we can measure the “progress” of matriarchy -- the unholy alliance between the Toxic King (corrupt military/industrial/political State) and the Empowered Witch.

It’s educational to recall that after J.F.K.'s ritualistic assassination in 1963, the 1962 Manchurian Candidate was withdrawn from movie theatres and suppressed in general.

A bit too close-to-the-bone for our Mistresses and Masters, no doubt!

Here’s a synopsis of both films from the Internet Movie Database:

[1962 version] In Korea in 1952, a US Army patrol is ambushed by Communist soldiers. A year later the squad, having escaped, returns to the US, where Staff Sergeant Raymond Shaw is to receive the Medal of Honor for single-handedly saving the lives of the squad. Shaw is the son of Elanor Iselin, wife of US Senator John Yerkes Iselin, and Mrs. Iselin turns the return of Raymond into a political rally that brings out building hostility between son and mother over the ambitions of Johnny Iselin. But there is more involved, for the actions of Raymond Shaw are not what everyone believes they are, and the nightmares of a US Army officer, Bennett Marco, leads to investigation of Raymond that unlocks a stunning political conspiracy that sweeps up Johnny and Elanor Iselin, and which only Bennett Marco can possibly stop.

[2003 version] When his army unit was ambushed during the first Gulf War, Sergeant Raymond Shaw saved his fellow soldiers just as his commanding officer, Major Ben Marco, was knocked unconscious. Brokering the incident for political capital, Shaw eventually becomes a vice-presidential nominee, while Marco is haunted by dreams of what happened -- or didn't happen -- in Iraq. As Marco investigates, the story begins to unravel, to the point where he questions if it happened at all. Is it possible the entire unit was kidnapped and brainwashed to believe Shaw is a war hero as part of a plot to seize the White House? Some very powerful people at Manchurian Global corporation appear desperate to stop him from finding out.

The primary link between the two films is the vile – but ever so “moral” and charming – presence of Shaw’s conniving mother, insatiable for power, wrapping herself in the flag, flexing her social and political muscles, and finally, finally -- at long last -- coming clean about who really rules in these Disunited States.

In the early Nineties, Camille Paglia concluded that America, and the West in general, was suffering from the extended and apparently incurable disease of maternal psychosis. Just as in so much “patriarchal” religious and spiritual literature, the hidden Enemy Within turns out to be Woman Unrestrained, abetted by servile male tyrants. Mom is obsessed with power, and hell-bent on Getting Her Way, no matter the wreckage left in the wake of her long black gown.

In Frankenheimer’s 1962 version, she is a dragonette, the Beast not yet grown full, yet still weilding great influence behind-the-scenes, manipulating not only her son, but almost everyone else around her. She is the power-mad Queen of Diamonds, using that playing card to trigger mind-control in her victims.

By 2003, however, the Witch no longer needs her veil, for she is now Empowered by force of law, and a Senator in her own right. Forty years of unremitting feminism and regression to matriarchy have armed her from her pretty pink toenails to her icicle teeth. All the major secular and religious male players – well, almost all -- are now securely stashed and muted in her purse.

Tellingly, the trigger for the trauma-based mental/emotional manipulation is no longer visual (playing card) in Demme’s remake – now it’s sonic. In Demme’s version, Senator Mom now merely need intone her son’s full name in order to bring him to leash:

Raymond Prentiss Shaw! Listen!

And just like the Bad Old Days, before we had the godly-shield of individuated consciousness, the poor boy cannot help listening to Her Voice as it reverberates around and around his bedeviled noggin.

She picks up the phone . . . and he always answers!

(Sonic cues are so flexible, and travel ever so efficiently!)

Mommy calls his name, and her Little Boy obeys, haunted not only by his recent programming by the Manchurian Corporation, but by the persistent and powerful echo of the ancient condition, of endless security, of idealized matriarchy -- the promise of regression to a place where one need never become a man, think for oneself, make decisions, suffer the pains of self-consciousness – a place before the ego constructed its boundaries between itself and Mother Nature, long before the voices of any nasty patriarchal god knocked at his noggin.

In the DVD extra options, screenwriter Daniel Pyne remarks: I don’t see Manchurian Global [the multinational corporation whose scientists execute the brainwashings] as the enemy in the film. I think Eleanor Shaw is the enemy.

Meryl Streep is as convincing as iceberg is to ship playing Senator Eleanor Shaw. In a lengthy monologue, while browbeating a war-room of Party strategists to dump their boy and adopt hers for the V.P. nomination, she plays upon their fears like bagpipes atop the Terrorist Bandwagon.

Indeed, Senator Shaw is the Queen of The Patriot Act, and we get a glimpse into the very heart of American, er, “patriarchy”:“. . . I will do whatever is necessary to protect America,” warns the Red Queen, “from anyone who opposes her.”

Streep emphasizes the final word, and as we witness her striking her own chest, everyone is reminded instantaneously of who runs The Farm. The regression of America to the matriarchal mother-son stage has no masculine values, no spiritual guidance. It has no ethos, only rationalized ends, illustrated by the “Secure Future” posters littering the film’s background.

It is not Raymond Shaw’s brainwashing that dooms him, because that element is out of his control – it's properly his mother’s sickness. Rather, Raymond is betrayed ultimately by himself, for the ancient sin – the original sin – of not having the courage to break away from his mother, and from the ways of women in general.

He never becomes a man -- only a Little Mother.

:O)

This is ground-zero for a male on this planet, and for this reason was every adolescent male initiation ritual in history and prehistory designed and executed, whether in aboriginal or modern cultures. Because Raymond could not "kill" Mom psycho-socially, she took over, and eventually he had to kill her physically, literally. By then their mutualism was beyond separation, so they died by the same missle.



Awake, awake, put on strength

O arm of the LORD!

Awake as in the ancient days

In the generations of old.

Are You not the arm that cut Rahab apart,

And wounded the serpent?

Are You not the One who dried up the sea,

The waters of the great deep;

That made the depths of the sea a road For the redeemed to cross over?

So the ransomed of the LORD shall return,

And come to Zion with singing,

With everlasting joy on their heads.

They shall obtain joy and gladness.

Isaiah 51: 9-11



Despite his emasculation, at film’s end Raymond Shaw struggles to regain some self-respect and self-determination. In his “face-off” scene with Captain/Major Marco (Captain M. Arc-o), Raymond breaks down and fleetingly regains himself, only to fall back into the familiar old alliance. Captain Marco makes a final offer to join together to fight the powers. But Raymond fesses up:

Marco: We don’t have much time. Please.

Raymond: I thought you were smarter than that.

Marco: Raymond, please!

Raymond: You don’t think they saw this coming, Ben? You don’t think they factored you in?

[The ringing phone interrupts them.]

Raymond: I am the enemy, Major Marco.

Marco: What are you talking about?


Then Everybody-Loves-Raymond looks down at his ringing cell phone.

It’s Mother Calling!

The dialogue continues, but that’s actually all that the characters – or we – need to hear.

Also fascinating is commentary by Meryl Streep concerning her “character.” (see the DVD special feature, “Cast of the Manchurain Candidate.”) Streep’s real-life ambivalence and "selective unconsciousness" about Senator Shaw’s motivations and behavior are instructive.

Screenwriter Daniel Pyne, discussing Streep’s performance, comments: She basically became the character and pretty soon she was telling me what the character would do.

Streep then adds: I don’t really see her as a villain. I don’t really see it that way. People are driven by what they feel is right . . . sometimes they, you know, you’ve got to bend the rules to get to that place where the better world is. There are things that happen on the way, there are . . . you know . . . it’s a . . . Donald Rumsfeld says ‘There’s mess’ . . . there’s mess.

So there you have it, pilgrims. As this intelligent, accomplished, much-decorated and admired American actress assures us all – albeit in a shaky voice, and with eyes that shift about, as if looking for a hidey-hole – that Senator Eleanor Shaw simply cannot be a “villain” because, because . . .

. . . well, for Godesses’ sake, because she’s a woman!

Meryl doesn’t actually say it, of course. We – the zombified masses – are expected to fill in the blanks.

And most of us, unfortunately, do.

Streep cannot get her gender-supremacist morals and mind around the concept that women can be – and frequently are – extremely malevolent and downright evil. Like most modern females, Streep simply must believe that women are not villains. Ever. They are Victims. Of men. It is genetically impossible for females to be villains, much less The Villain, as we’ve been assured by pretty much everyone, pretty much since Manchurian Candidate Uno appeared forty years ago.

And dear Meryl’s “bending the rules” for what one “feels is right”? Well, it’s just amazing how what American women “feel is right” so often matches increased power and special privileges for . . . well, for American women!

A Free Pass!

What a lovely, convenient world, eh?

Ain’t She a Peach!?

Of course, when males attempt to “bend the rules,” they get a nonstop ticket to the Men’s Warehouse . . . oops I mean the American “correctional system” – a growing and thriving Industry, thanks mainly to the “moral imperatives” of America’s Supercop – Mom! -- who is Vigilant and Severe against all perpetrations except her own.

Ooopsie Daisy!

Despite being confronted with the real-time object lesson of her role in The Manchurian Candidate, and with the guidance of the film's script as precautionary tale, Ms. Streep – like so, so many of her sisters – still does not Get It.

But Meryl's fem-blinders sure help explain the nekkid male dogpile at Abu Ghraib! Her candor greatly explicates America’s flaming hypocrisy and spiritual emptiness, it’s willingness to engage in torture, murder, arms trading, graft, drug running etc etc in order to “protect the Homeland.”

For Meryl and Senator Eleanor, it’s all about getting “to that place where the better world is,” and the ends ever justify the means – as long as someone else’s “ends” are on the line.

And blessed be! It turns out that’s what males are for! By the millions, by the billions, their blood and guts are the oh-so-unfortunate “mess” that results because “Senator Eleanor,” Ms. Streep, and the like cannot – must not – admit any responsibility for “the mess.”

Even when faced with the evidence that they are the villains!

Two-thousand years? LOL! Just the wink of an Eye! Nothing has changed. Same old game of Primate Imperative. Different day.

Yawn.

Somebody hand that boy up a sponge of gall, will ya?

And oh btw, have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?

:O)

Raymond Prentiss Shaw was the Mess, Captain Marco was the Mess. In this Neverending Matriarchy that we call a “democracy,” a “republic,” or, most ironically, a “patriarchy,” Miss America’s leavings are the broken Mess that Western men have become.

Appropriately, Meryl’s admission of compact with the devil leaves no escape, except reference to another justified-ends emasculate, Donald Rumsfeld -- himself surely a Member Emeritus of the "Manchurian Corporation."

My favorite “reality bite” of Demme’s Manchurian Candidate, however, is not Ms. Streep’s tacit admission that females cannot be villains -- even when she re-enacts the Evidence herself -- but instead a DVD-bonus menu that includes something called “Political Pundits.”

In this Special Feature, Demme arranges for three duos to dialogue on general and current political issues. The second dialogue set is absolutely hilarious – in a horrific, head-shaking kinda way.

Demme introduces the two participants as: 1) “Fab 5 Freddie, New York film-maker, Visionary”; and 2) “Anna Deavere Smith, the noted actor, writer, performance artist.”

Their conversation brings the lessons and warnings of the movie into Real Life, to wit:

Both these participants are black. Mr. Visionary is coolio’d-out, with oversized tortoise-shell glasses, a flashy ear-ring, and a black ballcap. Feeling righteously racial and Down With It, he launches into Gangsta-speak, railing about the oppression of Native Americans, black people, and other “people of color,” and about how America is the “land of gangsterism.” [Which indeed it is, but as Dylan's movie masked and anonymous cleverly reveals, America’s “protected classes” ARE the New Gangsters.]

Anyway, Fab Freddie Visionary goes on humbly to proclaim: I see that which lies underneath everything in this country still in effect . . .

Ms. Smith: So the spirit of America is still a gangster spirit?

Mr. Visionary: Definitely.

The two then embark on an Agree-fest, concurring that the “gangster spirit of America” needs to be “balanced out” – whatever in god’s name they imagine that means.

Then we finally get down To It, and Ms. Smith drops the gloves, and the cultural nuclear bomb.

She steeples her hands in front of her chest, and pontificates: And, you know . . . even if we wanna talk in another kind of oohee-oohee way, I guess we even say that the country is out of touch with its feminine side.

Now she has him cornered. The Predator and her Dead Meat.

Having trumpeted his Automatic Righteousness and Superior Social Consciousness, having flashed his victim-credentials on camera before God ‘n Country, Mr. Visionary now must capitulate to the Chief Victim in America’s Oppression Hierarchy: the black woman.

Her clumsy nonsequiter, a blatant power-grab, forces Mr. Visionary either to agree – or to take a stand against Woman.

Not against Ms. Smith, mind you. Against Woman, or against “she” as Senator Eleanor succintly put it.

But, of course, Mr. Visionary – he who “sees what lies underneath everything in the country”— is instantly capable of seeing through Ms. Smith’s manipulative conversational power-ploy!

NOT!

LOL!!

Instead, Mr. Visionary welcomes Ms. Smith’s remark with the stunned visage of a boy who, moments after being stroked and petted by Mommy, has just been nailed to her backyard oak, then called to dinner.

Mr. Visionary’s face tells us that he does not want to fall into Ms. Smith’s trap, but it’s already Too Late. All he can do is nod his agreement, docile like a dog, afraid to confront his mistress with the truth. (Apparently seeing the Visions and acting on them are two very different things!)

Ms. Smith continues, but knows that she has already won. His failure to call her lie – and to speak up for manhood, as a man – thus publically absolves the American Woman from any responsibility in the internal corruption of the country. (Sigh . . . if only we got in touch with our feminine side, none of this Terrible Mess would be happening . . . .)

Mr. Visionary’s face is squirming now.

Ms. Smith: . . . it’s out of touch with the caring side. I mean there’s no doubt about it . . . I don’t even know HOW in this spirit in this time one even makes an argument for caring about other people without sounding flat-out silly . . .

Mr. Visionary: (nodding sagely) Hmmm.

Ms. Smith, babbling as she charges atop the High Ground: I mean, is it time for care and love to be radical again? I don’t know. But it’s almost silly, because we’re just not there, and we know that if you’re right about that “gangster force” I think we all feel it. We feel it, and we don’t know what to apply to it to balance it out . . . so maybe we need an invigorated idea . . .

Mr. Visionary: I think so, but I also think it’s not a feminist [catches himself, and cuts off the end of the word, almost choking] . . . uh think it’s not a feminine thing, that gangster thing, so I would like to see some of that testosterone that fuels gangsterism toned down.

[End of dialogue]

Checkmate by the Queen of Diamonds! And that poor boy didn’t even try to jump!

LOL!!

So the appropriately named goddess – Ms. DEAvere – informs us, as we’ve been propagandized for decades, that the “gangster problem” and the “American problem” are caused by a national malnourishment of our “feminine side.”

Translation: we need more Woman Power – and specifically Woman-of-Color Power (gee, just like her, whatta surprise!).

And Mr. Visionary, like all good male lapdogs, concurs! The Problem is testosterone. (translation: the Problem is males)

How novel!

How convenient!

Why, this is exactly the snakesoup that the American Matriarchy has been selling for years! Let’s all chunk down some Ritalin and Viagra cocktails and celebrate!

Ironically, nowhere in the culture is matriarchy more embedded, powerful, and virulent than in the black communities, where fatherhood is virtually absent.

Leadership by strong men, instead of Mama and her punks, is the solution to the “gangster problem” in the hoods, and all across America.

And what is Anna Deveare Smith’s solution to our extended maternal psychosis? More maternal psychosis. More female privilege and power, perfumed over by insincere blatherings about the female’s unique capacities for “care” and “love.”

A Kinder, Gentler Matriarchy. Add some Inclusion, a dash of Diversity, perhaps a toughened Violence Against Women Act. Stir and serve. Feeds 200 million.

We can only hope that Jonathan Demme bought each of these “pundits” a copy of his film, and perhaps a box of toothpicks with which to prop open their eyes, because Lady Anna Dea is too blinded by self-service, and Mr. Visionary too castrated by cowardice before Mammy, to figure out the movie on the first take.
Indeed, even a hundred screenings might not suffice to unlock their minds.

When Senator Eleanor Shaw vows that she “will do whatever is necessary to protect America from anyone who opposes her,” the operative word isn’t America, but her. The dear lady isn’t really talking about America.

Ms. Senator is referring to building a perfect, impenetrable World Security State, an extension of American matriarchy around the globe, and her threat is directed not at opponents of America, but at opponents of her: at the "Evildoers," at any person or group interfering with the plans or operations of that most enduring and bloody of alliances, the mother-son (or mother/tyrant) duad.

This is the gynocratic fundament, the most ancient enemy of free and righteous men. It is the regressive blood-urge responsible for the primal men’s shamanic/spiritual groups, and for the religions that followed them millennia later. All fraternities and religions originally were attempts to restrain collective female power.

In one deleted scene Ms. Senator confides to Sonnyboy: I devour everything in my path, top or bottom. You know that.

Words more true could not have been uttered by the consuming dragon, the Beast, Whore Babylon herself.

Whilst our “leaders” scour the world for “enemies”!

As for beginnings and endtimes: in a great scene unfortunately deleted, but available in the DVD, we see a confrontation between the principled Senator Thomas Jordan and Dragon Mama Senator. The conversation takes place, in the film’s chronology, just before Senator Jordan and his daughter are drowned by Raymond, under “mental orders” from Mom and the Manchurian Corporation:

Senator Jordan: You know, I have such contempt for you, Eleanor.

Senator Shaw: (suggestively) You didn’t always . . .

Senator Jordan: And I fear for you. But mostly when I think of you, I fear for this country. Raymond is . . . Raymond is Raymond. And now he’s in way over his head [presaging Senator Jordan’s drowning at Raymond’s hand]. But you . . . you are the Smiler that wraps her dagger in the cloak of the flag and waits her chance. Which I pray will never come.

At film’s close, Raymond partially reclaims his manhood and redeems himself by ensuring that the matriarchy (himself as tyrant, Eleanor as Big Mama) is exposed to Captain Marcos’ rifle, instead of the pre-arranged target, the Presidential candidate.

The pair are executed simultaneously – an instantaneous obliteration of the negative masculine and feminine poles of Western matriarchy -- the King and Queen of Swords (for on the gameboard, diamonds are weapons.)

Their executioner, Captain Marcos, struggles with his own internal manipulators, but at last is able to divert his aim away from the "chosen target" – that is, Marcos manages to redirect his violent urges into a proper channel or act.

Marcos carrys out “divine orders” in an act of extremely public assassination, but the scene need not be literalized. The film is not an incitement to literal assassination, but to spiritual elimination of a certain psycho-social assumptive mindset, and its fruit in sinister alliance.

On the positive side, the film reveals an unusual depth of understanding of modern female obsessions and behavior, not fully attributable to the creative team (writers and director, all men).

Streep obviously drew from -- and thus exposed -- part of her own feminine shadow in order to morph into Senator Eleanor. Her perfomance smacks of a criminal who wants -- needs -- to be "caught."

Also, half the production team is female, including one of the principal producers, Tina Sinatra.

So the Princess is stirring in her Dreamtower, though she isn't quite awake yet.

Both versions of The Manchurian Candidate are truthbombs that score Direct Hits on the spiritual Wasteland of American matriarchy. Jonathan Demme’s remake is tremendous and should be studied closely by all students of reality.


*****

and now . . . here's little dynamo's Special BonUS Feature!

For followers of the Inside Joke:

In another deleted scene of Demme’s remake, Raymond is chatting at a posh fundraiser/garden-party with three corporate spooks (board members/mind manipulators) from the Manchurian Corporation.

The punks are crowing about their wealth and power, all the while chuckling over the electro-mental “leash” that Mom and Co. have attached to the unwitting Raymond’s noggin.

Senator Mom leaves Sonny with the Three Spectres, and this conversation ensues:

Raymond: So, gentlemen. How’s business?

Spectre #1: Not bad, Raymond. Business is not bad.

Spectre #2: It could always be better.

Raymond: Oh, come on, any better and you guys are gonna have more assets than the European Union.

Spectre #3: (Smugly sipping drink) Don’t we already?

Spectre #2: Well, we have a better Business Plan.

Spectre #3: Of course we do, because democracy’s inefficient.

Raymond: On purpose, I think. You know, to prevent hostile takeovers. (Smirks)

Spectre #3: As long as the boat doesn’t sink, does anyone really care who the captain is?

Raymond: Oh, yes. Mother does. Very much.


*****

Well, that high tide's risin', Mama don't you let me down

Pack up your suitcase, Mama don't you make a sound.

Now it's king for king, queen for queen

it's gonna be the meanest flood that anybody's seen.

Oh mama, don't you miss your best friend now?

You're gonna have to find yourself

another best friend somehow


"Down in the Flood" (Bobby D.)

3 Comments:

  • "Aquamarine is green plus blue,
    yellow, yellow!
    Blue, blue is the color I sing!
    Now, we've found our third clue;
    red, orange, yellow, and blue;
    You make a new color, when you mix two."
    "We have all 3 clues! Let's sit in our thinking chair."
    Blue's Clues - Learn Through Music
    comment from Ben - Age 7

    By Blogger Annie, At 5:39 AM  

  • two down and one to go, ben-o!

    By Blogger ray, At 9:43 AM  

  • two down and one to go, ben-o!

    By Blogger ray, At 9:44 AM  

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