Archive for July, 2004

Mr. Moore’s Propaganda. Fahrenheit 9/11 0

Politics is a skill to deceive people into believing and following politician’s ideology and policy. In this sense, idiotic Bush was caught and failed, and finally he was the derision of clever Michael Moore. On the other hand, Moore is a successful, shrewd, Democratic businessman who knows what to sell, whom to sell, how to sell, when to sell, and where to sell. And he is also a seditious demagogue in postmodern society, I strongly believe, because he can reassemble scrappy, nonchronological, sometimes inappropriate, and already known images into the terrific show for personal attack, which wins top honor at 2004 Cannes Film Festival. As you know, he has taught himself how to incite the labor class and stimulate their feelings from “The Big One,” “Roger and Me,” to “Bowling For Columbine.” He is also very good at laying bare power holders’ secrets, which he knows very well that the have-nots would enjoy a lot. As a result Fahrenheit 9/11 comes out in the world.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is the controversial compilation of Bush’s deceptions. Its plot is as simple and outspoken as 1970’s anticommunist education in South Korea. To make a long story, Michael Moore completely intended to beat Bush up this time, stitching fragmental and unrelated video clips together. He successfully taunted his great President and his administration, using explicit derision and condemnation. However his controversy unfortunately would divide the world into black-and-white dichotomy. More unfortunately, it actually causes people to divide two extreme groups such as left-wing or right-wing, anti-Bush or pro-Bush, anti-American or pro-American, the have-nots or the haves, and Democrats or Republicans. Any negotiation cannot be expected under the condition in which one should choose friend or foe in his game and a neutral cannot be accepted. It will never end before defeating an enemy, Bush administration. Moore’s idea is so stupid, childish, and dangerous (because North Korea can be an axis of evil all the time in his standpoint), even though what he has done is admirable in a sense.

However what really bothers me in Fahrenheit 9/11 is that the truth or the fact manufactured by him cannot incite people or politicians to change their ideologies, policies, or actions. As usual, his documentary does not suggest any alternatives or solutions even after dividing people into two angry extremists. If he asserts that it is audience’s turn to do something for a change, it will be so irresponsible. Unless a series of his works are extended to the real actions to stop the war, it can be exactly the same as foolish American reality shows (I believe that it actually is, because he does not care about the war but Bush. How many American do change their belief after watching it? Or do they at least reflect on their conduct in Iraq?), which people just watch to kill the time. What I truly want him to do is not to show us his ideologically prejudiced conspiracy theory but to show us the facts more close to the reality. It is sad to say, however, Fahrenheit 9/11 is not an anti-war documentary but an anti-Bush propaganda film. Therefore he didn’t give up investigating Starbucks and the connection of Jew. Who knows that they are producers of his film? That is why I hate narrow-minded Moore. And his own Fahrenheit 9/11 is not persuasive at all.

Moreover, Moore’s story still possessed the viewpoint of the American, which he has never overcome. His camera just follows eyes of American from the beginning to the end of the pro-Democratic propaganda. Absolutely ridiculous is his insistence that he is a spokesman of labor classes, the have-nots, or leftists of the United States because he is an unchangeably privileged upper-middle class white straight male Democratic American. He can never be Springsteen, I believe. He is totally different from us. That is what he continuously said in the movie, using his mike and camera, isn’t it? It is pathetic that he neglected others’ view such as Iraqis in the middle of real unwanted war. It is not that important for him to record screaming Iraqi poor women or tortured Iraqi innocent men. But what he really worried about is poor young American’s recruitment, young U.S. soldiers listening to “Bodies” by Drowning Pool or “Fire Water Burn” by Bloodhound Gang, and the number of casualties which the government tried to hide (Actually he may not care about those things but worries about the reelection of Bush). And he continuously forced me to participate in his partly manufactured melodrama or tearjerkers, exploiting and dramatizing an American mother who wailed for her son. Damn it, Michael Moore! I’ll tell you something. “There’s an old saying in Tennessee… well, it’s an old saying in Texas, I believe also in Tennessee. Fool me once… shame on you. Fool me… I won’t get fooled again.”

Moore’s greatest end in this flick is for Bush only to be fucked up. He does not care about the fear and the agony of others, non-American people oppressed by the United States. Please remember how many innocent Korean had been murdered by U.S. soldiers in their killing spree during Korean War. We don’t have to jump on another American propagandistic bandwagon, even though we cannot be free from the United States. Kerry may change the United States. But I don’t think anything can be expected from his winning here in Korea. Mr. Moore, please don’t exploit innocent, ignorant people for your political interests!

Trauma From Channel Two 0

I have to confess what I have right now before telling the story: jeans of Guess, Calvin Klein, and Levis, shirts of Fila, a cap of Nike, a bag of Eastpak, shoes of Timberland, and a pen of Bic. Whatelse? Hmmm… Pentium 4 Processor and some MSN products should be included in my collection. More? O.K. Troy, Panic Room, Queer As Folk, Things Falling Apart, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and, which are recently watched, bought, and enjoyed or not enjoyed. To The 5 Boroughs is on my wish list. OH, MY GOD! I am one of the biggest consumers of American Popular Culture. I should find some excuses to get out of this embarrassment. Where [CENSORED] do these super consumptions come from? Am I just stupid Beavis or Butthead?

Fortunately McDonald’s and Disney failed to have influence on my life at all. I hated Mac’s buns which taste like rubber, and mice dancing and singing, which was the dumbest thing I believed all the time. Nevertheless, unfortunately I was traumatized and haunted by one thing so terrible. CHANNEL TWO. The brutal culture attack from the U.S. Armed forces stationed in Korea. In my teens AFKN, Channel Two, was like home-schooling and 24 hours non-stop cable TV without censorship and TV Parental Guidelines such as V-chip. It did teach me a lot about English (Many Korean still watch it in order to learn English. I don’t know if it works but they believe.), ethics, music, history, sex, culture, and so on, which my teachers had never told me at school. It was always hip, fun, cool, and sometimes sensual. (But I now know that it was dangerous too.) Name whatever! Any fancy adjective can be added to AFKN. It was originally established for U.S. soldiers. But it seduced me into longing for or imitating American, using fake fantasy and absolute obeisance which Disney can never follow.

I remember when I first listened to “The great Star-Spangled Banner,” watching the huge Stars and Stripes fluttering in the TV screen. Shown was a lot of America’s imperialistic and ideological propaganda about its history or activities of U.S. Army every 20 or 30 minutes. Even though I didn’t understand much at that time, the United States was just shown as Disney Land. What I saw in AFKN was not stupid cartoon characters dancing, singing, and running around but real happy white Americans who enjoyed Thanksgiving parades or parties and real delightful children playing with fancy toys. I wanted to be a blond boy who had a big train set with railroad in the shopping brochure which I had kept for a long time. It was a dream which had to come true someday even though the dream was not that good all the time. Channel two sometimes showed me half-naked man and woman kissing and then making love even before I was teen. A man over a woman having sex is still vivid in my mind. Who should be to blame? Myself? Is it possible if I say that AFKN ruined my innocent childhood? Is it O.K. to blame it even though it never forced me to watch Sesame Street, Wheel of Fortune (Pat and especially Vanna. Who cannot rememeber the smile of the hostess?), Saturday Night Live or whatever? How could innocent Korean boys forget the theme song of Guiding Light and General Hospital?

Damn It! It is needless to say the influence of The 8th (US) Army on Korean lifestyle. It was much more related with my life and culture. A lot of stuffs made in U.S.A. were given to my family by my aunt who lived near the Osan base camp. I can’t forget the taste of candies, milks and especially Ketchup which I first had eaten at around seven years old. I still have more that 20-year-old SONY cassette player. How couldn’t it be a Dream Land to me? The virtual image of the United States was as sweet as marshmallow. Any teenagers could not resist the Material Girl’s temptations. I felt even the emptiness and the despondency when it was decided to stop broadcasting in my town.

The culture shock from AFKN has been directly connected to American culture’s superiority to that of Korea. Many Korean unfortunately bored to listen and see Korean traditional music and dancing. (Frankly speaking, many Korean hate that.) The Korean Folk Village is considered as a place only for foreign visitors, not because we already know and are very familiar with Korean tradition but because Korean tradition is regarded as irrational and old-fashioned way of life. For more than 50 years, American culture has permeated all of Korean home without antipathy or opposition, using various mass media such as AFKN to persuade us into believing that consumption of their culture is the only way to avoid our silly tradition and therefore to ascend our class. I don’t know whether you disagree with my idea. However, we must recognize that the persuasion and the consent are not visible nor clearly mentioned in this case. It should be recognized that New York in “Friends” is fake, before, during, and after watching this show. We should be able to recognize the stupidity of a thoughtless Korean girl who wore “I Love N.Y.” shirts to promote her book. This is the only way to survive in the invisible Imperialistic Age.

Steinberg + Kincheloe 0

Dr. Steinberg and Dr. Kincheloe visited in Korea last Saturday. They will stay here for 4 weeks, giving 12 lectures (each three and half hours) on “Media Literacy.” Their lectures? Hmmm… The first day of her lecture. It was great except for the man’s lies that he used to tell all the time. (He really really really likes to say that “… STRONGLY RECOMMENDED …” He even strongly recommended a professor, who said to students “Fuck You.”) For whom does he do that? Definetely not for students but for himself. Last summer he almost threatened me to take the summer course, telling that it’s going to be required next year and strongly recommended. But “The Quantitative Research” was the terrible course and it caused me to miss much more important course, The Qualitative Research. The instructor, his friend, took money from me without teaching enough both in quality and in quantity. The man doesn’t deserve to teach “CRITICAL PEDAGOGY.” Damn it! He is the man who knows all about the rules of game, business, such as how to sell, whom to sell, and what to sell. O.K. I’ll stop condemning the man any more.

The Second day of her lecture. It went downhill. I spent all the time at the shopping mall with my classmates. I don’t think it was good enough because we could do it after class or on weekends to save her time and our precious time. Students already paid a lot of money for Mr. and Mrs. Kincheloe. They didn’t pay their dollars, which they painfully earned from capitalitic labor, for the Kincheloe’s trip to Disneyland in Tokyo. They must take only two and half hours’ worth of paycheck and the rest of them must be given back to students. It is unfair to have all of them without working full-time. They must not take a trip to Japan for their wedding anniversary (and their research which was their excuse), without teaching for three days. They can go there after finishing lectures in Korea. Why now in the middle of the course? I am also pretty sure that they will not make up for missing lectures. They just reminds me of imperialistically privileged upper middle class white people, whom finally succeeded to ascend from hillbilly and whom Korean must be servile to. Whatever and however they make an argument on races, classes, ideoogy or whatever, it just sounds bullshit. Dr. Kincheloe is just a normal southerner who drinks Coke, while attacking McDonald’s.

However I really respect their theories on hegemony and Bricolage, multilogicality. I am really impressed by their assertions about the America’s Imperialism which Koreans including me easily don’t realize. I certainly believe that they will provide and encourage me with the critical consciousness in their upcoming lectures. But I want to say to two doctors, “Please please please please please, just act on what you say, even though there are many bootlickers, especially including the man and some of his dumber groupies, around you in here Korea.”

Whose Home Alabama? 0

I would hum “Sweet Home Alabama,” having a great longing for hometown where I have never been. This bittersweet southern anthem always reminds me of Foster’s Alabama in “Oh Susanna,” which I learned at school and sometimes hummed in my childhood. The American nostalgia had never left me alone for a long time. Fortunately the sticky leech falls apart at last after I read through the song written by Ed King, Gary Rossington, and Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I felt guilty when I recognized that “Sweet Home Alabama” had a viewpoint of racist. In an interview with Ronnin Van Zant, he said that they wrote it as a joke. A joke? He should have told it to Robert Zemeckis, before he used it in “Forrest Gump.” Anyway it is a revengeful song of Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” which attacked the southerners literally. In “Sweet Home Alabama” they even sing, “they love the gov’nor … And the guv’nor’s true…” A Governer, George C. Wallace. It was the Governor who said, “… and I say … segregation today … segregation tomorrow … segregation forever” in the 1963 Inaugural Address of Montgomery, Alabama. It is the Alabama I had missed whenever I hummed! I was an dumb McDonald maniac who hated America’s Imperialism.

It can be somewhat easier to find symbolic violence, signifier, or hegemony in images than in sounds. Even though it is not actually that easy to detect, they are clearly shown on the screen. In case of sounds, however, it can cause a big trouble to people in EFL contexts, unless they listen carefully. How many people in Korea do care about the lyrics? The meaning can be easily distorted by the rhythm of the song. The virtual images can be stereotyped by listeners’ inappropriate schema as in my case. People should find its original intention. Try it! It’s your responsibility to know it in the Imperialistic, Capitalistic society.

The Emperor’s New Clothes 0

On the day President No was released from his unlocked domicile, he was so puffed up with the overruling of impeachment. He even compared his unworthy comeback to the resurrection of the Christ. It was the most absurd analogy he has ever forced. But it is not surprising, looking back his ridiculous speeches.

I remember his speech that he hoped to be a president like Lincoln, who was a poor, uneducated lawyer but the most loved American President. (I certainly believe that his greatness is a fake. I don’t trust it in two reasons - (1) he was a politician and (2) he was an American. Aren’t they enough?) I don’t know what aspects of Lincoln he respects. Anyway I have failed to find anything of Lincoln’s fabricated virtues from No’s behaviors. His words and deeds are exactly same as those of Bush, an obvious punk. He should have remained poor and uneducated.

I expected him to make unfair Korean-American relations straight when I supported him. However he is getting much worse than I expected. He is a trained, expert liar. He may want us to believe his moronic bullshits. But at this time he knows that my compatriots would not believe his sophistry. That is why he had not shown up on mass media for a week after last week’s address on the nation, and just acting like the emperor in new clothes in Andersen’s fairy tales. He might decide to be a dumb leader rather than to be a first President impeached twice. Please be a man. Don’t act like Bush, Mr. President!

In his last week’s address, President said, “We cannot allow anything to be won through terrorism.” How? He already sent two non-armored units for peace, which are construction and engineering units and medical aid units. But they have not contributed to peace in Iraq at all. Then what he really wants to say is to send the armored units to fight and revenge. McGannon says that leadership is action, not position. But President No’s dogmatic actions are rambling, not knowing where to go. He just takes much pains to stick to hold the foremost position. His new Prime Minister may teach him how to survive people’s distrust because he already learned all about the secrets after his failed education policy.