DMX and “Never Die Alone”

When I learned that Earl “DMX” Simmons had fallen into a coma from which he would never emerge, the film Never Die Alone was the first thing to come to mind—as it has always been the first thing to come to mind any time I’ve heard anything about that man. This time, however, the connotation was almost chillingly fitting, because Never Die Alone begins with an image of King David, a fictional drug dealer and serial murderer portrayed by DMX, lying lifeless in a coffin. The film is centered on this character’s death, with every scene and every happenstance either catalyzing or resulting from his death. Such a relentless fascination with such a gloomy subject is probably the single biggest reason why I enjoyed the film so thoroughly when I first watched it at the age of twelve.

The unfortunately predictable question follows: “Why was a twelve-year-old white boy watching this movie in the first place?” I remember wandering the cul-de-sacs near my rural home in New Hampshire, probably fantasizing about my own suicidal demise, when I noticed that my neighbors were hosting a yard sale. Among the collection of DVDs that they were offering for two dollars apiece was a battered, weathered copy of Never Die Alone—which I had heard about, but never really thought about, when it was released to theaters a few months before. I returned to my house, found eight quarters in my piggy bank, and hurried back to the yard sale, sincerely concerned that someone else might have already taken advantage of this bargain.

Had the events of that day unfolded differently, I would have joined humanity’s effective entirety in forgetting, or involuntarily disregarding, that film altogether. Never Die Alone grossed less than six million dollars at the American-Canadian box office and almost nothing in foreign markets, where there is no discernible interest in films about the African-American criminal subculture. The so-called professional film critics in the United States watched it, but they didn’t find much value in it; I remember one writer, in a review that has long since been lost, making the rather unoriginal remark that describing its premise was “like eating tomato soup with a fork. It can be done, but God knows how.” Even Matt Cale, the single greatest influence on my adolescence, wrote a vicious review upon the film’s home media release, to which we will link here:

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A Message to My Fellow Critics of Pandemic Authoritarianism

I must declare my disappointment in the hostile factiousness and unproductive denominationalism of my compatriots in coronavirus skepticism. It is a malicious mythology that all of us must agree on every individual point, interpretation, and accusation. None of us can claim to possess all of the answers and to understand the entirety of this autocratic scheme in its absolute complexity. In this respect, I readily admit that I am just as ignorant as anybody else: I do not possess and never will possess a master’s knowledge of medical science, nor will I grasp the abstrusity of economics, nor will I bear personal witness to the executive operations of the federal government. Ergo, there are myriad problems that I cannot solve: I don’t pretend to know with certainty if the state engineered the coronavirus, or if the virus even exists at all. And in recognition of the limits of my wisdom, I have no right to reprimand, condemn, or exclude anyone whose subjective interpretations on these subjects differ from mine: the only commonality of necessity is our mutual apprehension of an active autocratic force.

Accordingly, I am calling on all of my brothers and sisters in this fight for physical and intellectual independence to cease their infighting forthwith. You must not pester and ridicule each other over a mere secondary difference of opinion. Are we in agreement that we are the unwitting combatants against an ascendant autocracy? If the answer is yes, then we are allies and we must acknowledge and respect each other as such. What does it matter if we disagree as to the autocratic architects’ identities, or the specific function of the vaccines, or the probability that a certain politician will do this or that? As long as we maintain our skepticism and suspicion on the most basic, general, and fundamental issues, then we needn’t entertain any additional opportunities for sectarianism.

My critics will indict me against my own embarrassing history of ideological intolerance on social media, and I plead guilty without qualifications or rationalizations. However, it may be that my own experience in the maladaptive nature and the destructive outcome of such behavior has gifted (or saddled) me with an uncommon understanding of why we must never indulge our inclinations to perform in this manner. If my warning is heeded and my advice followed, then I will be happy to accept any incidental damage to my reputation.

Sincerely,

Dack Rouleau

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A Critique of Lisa Wehrstedt’s Review of “Jennifer’s Body”

Original article: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20210406-jennifers-body-the-real-meaning-of-a-sexy-teen-flick

It is not at all surprising to see the bourgeois feminists attempt to revitalize Jennifer’s Body in this political climate. I’ve seen the film several times since it was released in the autumn of 2009, and while I’m still not convinced that it’s a good film, I’ve long suspected that it was only a matter of time before the ideologues and dilletantes discovered it and weaponized it to further their cursory agendas. For the past six years, the BBC has published a glut of post-feminist and pseudo-feminist reevaluations of popular art, of which Nicholas Barber’s lamentation of the public reception of The Silence of the Lambs was perhaps the most memorably boorish example. On Wednesday, the seventh of April, the same media outlet printed an assessment of Jennifer’s Body, written by Lisa Wehrstedt—an author hitherto unknown to me personally, but regretfully familiar philosophically.

As Wehrstedt did, we will assume that our readers are unfamiliar with the film in question, though for very different reasons. Jennifer’s Body tells the story of two teenage girls—the titular character portrayed by Megan Fox, and her best friend, Needy, portrayed by Amanda Seyfried—undergoing their uneventful adolescence in a midwestern American town. One night, a group of incompetent Satanists kidnap Jennifer and attempt to slaughter her for ritualistic purposes, but she lives on as a vampire, or a zombie, and embarks on a cannibalistic crusade. Naturally, the episodic bloodshed coincides with the deterioration of Jennifer’s friendship with Needy, culminating in a resolution that is not as poignant as it probably should have been, but that is certainly more affecting than it could have been.

The critical elite may have agreed with us, at least on this point, as even those who recognized the movie’s flaws praised it for its “unexpected emotional resonance”, in the words of Dana Stevens, who reviewed the film for Slate. Wehrstedt has a remarkably different understanding of the critical appraisal, alleging that the film was “mauled by critics around the globe”. We cannot deny that the film inspired mixed reviews, the negativity of which might have been more conspicuous than the praise; but we cannot accept Wehrstedt’s attribution of this disapproval to sexist disappointment, either. She instructs us to believe that the critical consensus was unfairly influenced by resistance to the notion of a female director and a female writer working together to make a film about young women.

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Biden the Empathic

Are the intelligentsia attempting to make “empathy” a detestable word? Our collectively superficial obsession with the emotional intelligence of politicians did not begin when Joe Biden commenced his third presidential campaign, but it is in his persona that the propagandists find the manifestation of the empathic virtue. They write interminably of his “empathy”, which is usually synonymized with his “compassion”, a term itself used interchangeably with “decency”, to which they occasionally refer as “presidential behavior”. Professionalism, diplomacy, decorum—all of these words mean the same thing and all of them are equally meaningless, but certainly they are not purposeless. The purpose of this muddled, monochromatic language is to conceal the absence of substance, both in the ethereal requirement and in the man who supposedly meets it. There isn’t a question of what the man is, but only of the manner in which he appears.

If there is anything more commonplace than this phenomenon in the current culture, then it must be the observation thereof. Persons more learned than I have already written on this subject, and I suppose I must have dabbled in it more than once myself. Might we continue to tell ourselves these things because we know of no other means of preserving our sanity? If one reads the press without any discriminating filters at all, then it is only a matter of time before one adopts the publications’ vacuous values as one’s own. Such is precisely the objective of propaganda, and we can expect its fusillade to continue as the Biden Administration inevitably fails to satisfy the creatures who feed on this fodder.

Yesterday’s batch furnished a provocative example. Hunter Biden, that profligate Earnest, appears to be publishing a memoir, a significant portion of which is believed to be dedicated to his ongoing struggle with substance abuse. While I have never taken an interest in the man’s salacious personal life, as many of the more desperate neoconservative populists did in advance of the election, I have been intrigued by the intermittent effort that the establishment media has put forth to depict Hunter (as we shall refer to him hereafter) as a sympathetic figure, possibly even as a tragic hero. When President Trump denounced Hunter as a lowly drug addict, Joe Biden defended his son for “having a problem”. It was difficult, if not effectively impossible, to condone Trump’s demeaning gesture.

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Assange Contra Navalny

It is difficult, even painful, to watch as the establishment press holds a candlelight vigil for Alexei Navalny at the same time that it refuses to acknowledge the protracted execution of Julian Assange. The indignant tributes to journalistic freedom, of which Navalny has been depicted as the glorious embodiment, are incompatible with the writers’ deliberate ignorance of Assange’s legal status, and patently discordant to the jubilance with which they announced Assange’s arrest almost two years ago. Although we have learned all too much in those intervening years, and have thereby separated ourselves from the gullibility of the masses, still it astonishes us to reflect that there are adults of functional intelligence who really believe that the mass media campaigns against Assange and on behalf of Navalny are being carried out in good faith—if they can even acknowledge the existence of these campaigns in the first place.

On Wednesday, the thirty-first of March, the mass media reported that Navalny had commenced a hunger strike to protest his inadequate treatment in the Russian prison wherein he is detained. It is uncertain why he believes such severity of action is necessary to draw attention to his plight, as the mass media has happily broadcast to the widest possible audience every one of his statements hitherto. NBC News was especially eager to report on his refusal to eat, as this outlet has previously praised Secretary of State Antony Blinken for his principled defense of Navalny—and as we have written and spoken about before, Blinken has helped to demonize Assange and WikiLeaks in the mainstream press.

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