Horror movies are the best place to find high concepts played out, science fiction comes a close second.
Punk, writer, drawer, Rock n Roll DJ and political provocateur, Frankenstein Jones was made in Portsmouth.
If you are looking for a point of view that's outside the safety of your usual neoliberal-friendly bubble - confronting - but always tongue in cheek, I'm the Monster you're looking for.
We've all been down in the dumps lately, and we all faced our own personal challenges. At the start of the first UK lockdown I was working from home a few weeks before being diagnosed with depression. At the time I could only manage being awake and functioning for a few hours at a stretch.
It was through watching movies that I found comfort. Sometimes, there would be a chance to watch them while remotely chatting with a friend. I joined a few watching clubs, with the purpose of introducing my friend to horror movies. I highly recommend this exercise. It's fun to watch with someone who will not only be more likely to be scared, but will also witness the wide range of subjects and dilemmas covered by the genre.
Horror movies are the best place to find high concepts played out, science fiction comes a close second. There have been a lot of movies with a peripheral pandemic to comfort watch with the lights off, a mask on and a steaming cup of hand sanitizer. The film we watched was Mayhem.
The premise of Mayhem is there is a fast spreading virus that causes people to act on all their unconscious desires for sex and violence. Starring The Walking Dead's Steven Yuen, the film takes place in an office building that is in quarantine, while the virus takes its course. Essentially, the people inside get the virus and go nuts. Being an American film, the film focuses more on the violent side than it does on the sex.
Damned prudish cowards!
MAYHEM Official Trailer (2017) Steven Yeun, Zombie Like Action Movie HDwww.youtube.com
They don't all keep it in their pants. There are a lot more office equipment stabbings than lockdown hook-ups. There is a healthy amount of swearing, a beautiful blood splattered set design and cathartic violence. The plot and high concept also deliver, this being one of the many recent horror movies that showcase the legacy of John Carpenter.
I was an undervalued employee of a company that wanted me to use my time and energy, not just taking money from those most vulnerable and giving it to the very wealthy, but to also convince the customer it was the right. It definitely made me feel that difficult conversations should be about more important things in life than other people's money.
The company felt like a microcosm of the UK.
The people in the highest paid positions were also those with the most expensive and exclusive educations and upbringings. The majority of people there were working hardest in the customer services team, spurred on by the hope they can get a pay rise and more respect by getting promoted out of their current roles. The modern working classes. They felt they didn't have the power to make things better or fairer, while also seeing the best way to get themselves out of their current situation as hard work with the hope of a promotion.
They could see a path to make themselves comfortable. The final layer of this vivarium are the customers.
The customers would have gotten a loan on a vehicle for an essential purpose in almost every case. They may have gone for a vehicle with more prestige and features than their requirements. That would have had as much to do with the loan parameters as their personal vanity. The choices made by the customers would be under our scrutiny.
They may have had to have a vehicle to work, but that vehicle would not need to be a luxury. The majority of customers I spoke to did not have the economic literacy to understand what they had agreed to. They would equate the cost of the loan with the cost of the vehicle plus a certain percentage. APR is a hydra that grows much bigger than that, as many of us have found out the hard way.
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Customer services would be in the position of explaining to a customer what they had already signed. Something that car dealers who are often present when the customer signs, should be explaining to the customer up front. If we can't trust car salesmen to do the honest thing, then what is the world coming to!?
The teams in direct contact with customers would end up taking a lot of abuse. Of course, many of the customers would be lovely to speak to, and you might share a joke or learn something from them. The ones that made an impression were the ones that would leave you exhausted by the end of the day. This made it easier to see the customers as the problem rather than just part of the economic hierarchy you yourself are perpetuating.
Telling yourself you take money from the stupid and give it to the clever is a lot easier on the brain than knowing you're taking money from the desperate and giving it to the wealthy. The dehumanization of the customers was not only a useful skill to get you through the day with your mind intact, but also helped you get up in the morning thinking what you are putting your effort into is reasonable.
I convinced myself the unreasonable are the only ones treated in an unreasonable way. I started to see the dirty business of loans and debt as being the gaping maws of a beast called capitalism. I felt I was justified in my work on the front line of this because I would speak to people, rather than use the capable teeth of the debt system. This fantasy I built could not last.
There was nothing truly good about what I was doing. No wonder Mayhem resonated. There was less blood, but that doesn't mean no one got hurt. Myself included. While it would have been exciting to team up with an angry customer and make a noisy, public mess dismantling the company, I simply gave notice.
Thankfully, it takes a lot more than a movie to put me over the edge. I knew the depression I had to take sick leave for was also feeding my despondency and cognitive dissonance of the work I did. This is why Mayhem has been the most important and deeply satisfying film I watched in the last four years.
I relished watching all the carnage, claret and catharsis of my anger being played out before my eyes in humorous fantasy. I am forever thankful for violent films, so much better for all of us than an actual office bloodbath.
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