April 23, 2015

"Problematic faves"

I remember when having a problematic fave meant you were into Culture Club despite the singer being a cross-dressing faggot.

April 22, 2015

"I Really Like You" by Carly Rae Jepsen

Contrary to what everyone is saying, this song doesn't sound like the '80s, but it has a refreshing emotional tone nonetheless. It isn't bratty, emo, or self-absorbed. It's basically sincere, uncomplicated, and other-pleasing.

For 20 years, female pop singers have been broadcasting how little they depend emotionally on men. Either they're scum and don't deserve attention ("No Scrubs," "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"), or they're fleeting conquests of empowerrrd womynnn ("Shoop," "Blank Space"). Two sides of the same slutball coin (both types ironically sung by a virgin who only "dates" fags, Taylor Swift).

The songs that are supposedly about being in a loving stable relationship don't ring true and sound forced ("I Wanna Love You Forever," "Umbrella"). Perhaps that's because there aren't any songs about the initial infatuation that establishes the couple's chemistry as a prelude to love. (Again, not talking about the shallow "I'm hot, you're hot, let's do it" songs about lust at first sight.) If we're not convinced of the organic nature of their first encounters, then hearing about pop singers' steady relationships will sound staged and going-through-the-motions.

Wholesome, bouncy songs about the initial stages of courtship used to be a dime a dozen back in the '80s and early '90s -- "I Think We're Alone Now," "Shake Your Love," "I Love Your Smile" -- but there are notable differences from today's "I Really Like You".

The singers from the good old days were teenagers, who sound more believable than the nearly 30 year-old Jepsen when it comes to feeling butterflies in the stomach. They also sounded more mature back then, as though they'd been infatuated and in a relationship several times already, whereas Jepsen sounds more like a sixth-grader getting her first crush. Another case of Millennial stunting caused by helicopter parents socially sheltering them.

And of course they don't sound anything alike. The older songs are melodic, the verses are sung rather than mumbled-and-shouted, the drumbeat is more elaborate than a metronomic thud, and the instrumentation is rich rather than sparse.

It goes to show how superficial music critics are, that they lump songs together that use the same family of instruments, rather than, y'know, how it actually sounds. "Synths + drum machine = SO '80S!!!" It's more like a contempo pop song wearing an '80s costume. The video is also a dressing up as an '80s video, with Tom Hanks replacing Chevy Chase as the comedic actor who lip-syncs the lyrics while acting goofy.

Even the tone, while unlike the typical self-absorbed or self-conscious tone of today's music, isn't at an '80s level of letting your guard down. It's more like the atmosphere of the mid-to-late '50s, although I can't think of a good comparison song off the top of my head. Something in between the forced sound of the Chordettes, but not as sincere as the girl groups of the early '60s.

In general, the people looking to make the Next Big Thing should stop trying to copy the '80s and look more to the late '50s and early '60s. That was the beginning of the outgoing and rising-crime climate that would reach its culmination in the '80s. It's hard to imitate an apex, but less daunting to recreate the simple inchoate beginnings.

Once we finally do shift from a cocooning to outgoing social mood, it'll only be at the level of the last shift circa 1960. We're not going to skip straight to the end. Our mindsets, both the musicians' and the audience's, will be more aligned with those of 1960 than 1980 or 1990.

April 19, 2015

Millennial moms and dads reversing helicopter parent trend?

We've covered this topic last year (here and here), but I'm starting to see hints of it in real life now.

Yesterday afternoon I stopped at a park to eat, and the picnic tables were near a playground, where about ten children were playing. If it had been just three years ago, every kid would have had a parent shadowing their tiniest moves, serving as their playmate rather than one of the other kids, and any time a child came near a stranger (whether a child or grown-up), the parent would swoop in to block the potential contamination / abduction / whatever they thought was going to happen.

I glanced over a few times out of curiosity about how ridiculous helicopter parenting has become this year. But I was surprised to only see one obvious helicopter parent among the ten kids -- one of those overly involved goofball dads who thinks his kid would rather play with a grown-up goofball than one of the other kids. Just let them play by themselves -- except this time they were!

There was a group of much older adults, probably the grandparents, and being early-mid Boomers they were hands-off just as they were when they were new parents. But where were the other hoverers and smothering mothers? One group of children looked to be semi-supervised by a teenager, but not by an adult. These were all white kids, by the way, not the Mexican kids who are allowed to go out and play by themselves. That really stood out as unusual.

Then as one mother was leading her son back to the car, he jumped up on a picnic table, walked to the other end, and leapt off. A helicopter parent wouldn't have allowed any of those actions to take place (jumping off a table = skinned knee alert), and would've flown into containment / safety landing mode right away. Not out of respect for public picnic tables in a public park, but because she'd be paranoid about her son's safety, and embarrassed from her son making her look like a negligent parent in front of the other parents, simply by letting kids be kids.

She didn't encourage his behavior; she just went along with it, apparently thinking "boys will be boys." No parent would've thought that in this situation just a few years ago.

Aside from the teenager, these children were all about 3 to 7 years old. Their parents must be in their late 20s and early 30s, i.e. Millennials. The nonchalant mom with the up-up-and-away son didn't look old enough to be a late Gen X-er.

The small sample size here is not a problem, since there has been almost no variation in the basic parenting style for years now. Any break from uniformly 100% helicopter parenting is highly out of the ordinary.

I've heard Millennials on the internet and on TV say they're going to be less hovering when they're parents, but had yet to observe it in real life. Now that their kids are old enough to be seen on the playground, you might start to notice a change back toward the good old days of hands-off parenting from now on.

Don't expect it to jump right to the '80s kind of environment, when children went to the playground with no adults at all. It'll be more like the late '50s and early '60s, when the Dr. Spock and drive-in cocooning trends were just beginning to loosen up.

I have no delusions about how hilarious it's going to be watching the Millennials attempt to raise children. But I am still glad that the community-fragmenting trend of helicopter parenting is finally going to come to an end, and that kids around the neighborhood will once more be part of an organic connected peer group, without having to route all interaction through their parental delegates.

April 16, 2015

The no-show of Jews in dance music: A survey of disco, new wave, synthpop, and dance-pop

While Jews may dominate the business side of the music industry, their accomplishment on the creative side has been more uneven.

They have always had an outsized influence among rock groups, although typically in the angsty misfit genres, such as heavy metal, punk, and alternative (Lou Reed, Kiss, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, the Ramones, NOFX, Bad Religion, etc.). Despite their participation in adversarial African-derived genres like rap (the Beastie Boys) and ska (the Selecter, the Specials), as well as aloof / too-cool black genres like Midcentury jazz (Stan Getz), they scarcely took part in the more agreeable genres within black music like R&B and disco. And where mainstream pop ranges in tone from cheerful to longing, the range of Jewish crooners is less sympathetic to the listener, ranging instead from schmaltzy to complaining (Barry Manilow, Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Carly Simon, etc.).

They are well represented in genres where the relationship between the performer and the audience takes the form of spectator and spectacle, but are no-shows in genres where the performer is more of a background instigator trying to work the audience members up into a participatory activity among themselves, such as dancing.

Aside from reflecting the Tribe's well known tendencies toward neurosis, these differences also show their inclination toward the verbal and psychological (whether cerebral or emotional) and away from the corporeal and kinesthetic. Dancing takes as much basic body coordination as other salt-of-the-earth pastimes like playing sports, hunting, fishing, and camping -- all activities that the mentally oriented Jews find awkward and off-putting.

You really notice the absence of Jews in cheerful, danceable pop music when you listen to an '80s compilation. I usually listen to albums by a single group, where broad patterns in the genre are not so evident. But with the much larger sample size on the compilation I was listening to the other day, I was struck by how few of the groups I'd seen on lists of Jewish cultural figures.

Pursuing that hunch, I perused several lists (such as this one and this one), and did my own search of musicians whose Wikipedia articles mention them being Jewish and being a singer or musician in the new wave, synthpop, disco, or dance-pop genres. This restricts the focus from roughly the '70s through part of the '90s, when dancing was a popular activity.

The hunch panned out, with hardly any Jews in the more dance-oriented genres, unlike their heavy influence in rock and crooner pop.

In all of disco, there was only a single Jew -- Steven Greenberg, who founded the multiracial act Lipps Inc., the one-hit wonder known for "Funkytown".

Likewise in new wave, I could only find one confirmed Jew -- Nick Feldman, the bass player and half of the core duo of Wang Chung, who had a string of hits but are best known for "Everybody Have Fun Tonight". Jon Moss, the drummer for Culture Club, was adopted by a Jewish family from a Jewish-run orphanage, but I couldn't find a source that said his birth parents were themselves Jewish. Indeed, when asked in a recent interview if the orphanage accepted goys, he replied only with, "Probably, yeah," as though he himself is unsure of his genetic background.

Nor did the gods of synthpop treat the Jews as their chosen people. There's only one, and a halfie at that -- Pete Burns from Dead or Alive, who had a few hits but are best known for the dance classic "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)". One of the members of Army of Lovers, whose biggest hit was "Crucified" in 1991, comes from an Algerian Jewish family, but I'm talking about the Ashkenazim here.

Paula Abdul was a dance-pop star throughout the late '80s and early '90s, though she too is Sephardic on her Syrian father's side (and Ashkenazi on her mother's side). I suspect her success owes more to the part of her blood that comes from the belly-dancing world rather than the tax-farming world. Taylor Dayne, however, is fully European Jewish; her song "Tell It to My Heart" from 1987 is the beginning and end of the story of Askhenazi dance-pop.

My search also turned up a handful of Jewish musicians listed under "new wave," but they're from the bands that were mostly playing rock, punk, and ska, with only a hint of disco, dance, and synth-rock -- the Knack, Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian from the Hooters, Susanna Hoffs from the Bangles, and Danny Elfman from Oingo Boingo.

A tougher case to call is Blondie, whose guitarist (Chris Stein) was Jewish. They started off as a stripped-down punk and power pop band, and gradually evolved into a more eclectic style that mixed in synth-rock, reggae, disco, and rap. They were more of a bridge between the punk and new wave scenes, maybe proto-new-wave. Whatever you want to classify them as, they deserve an honorable mention in this survey.

Throughout human history, dance and music were two sides of the same coin, and only relatively recently has music become primarily passive on the audience's part, whether it's elite classical music or generic radio-friendly crap. Dancing is a group activity that bonds members together, giving music a key role in creating and maintaining a sense of community. Contemporary pop music that sets the stage for carefree dancing is an attempt to preserve those traditional roles of music.

Thus, the relative absence of Jews in dance music is part of their broader hesitation as culture-makers to create a more cohesive group-iness among their host population. (Please no retarded comments about the debt that Gentiles owe to all those schmaltzy Jewish winter-time tunes that don't have anything to do with Christmas.) They don't mind making a buck off of it as managers and record label executives, but actually creating it themselves -- too awkward, yucky, and shameful. Moving your body around in dance is fit only for the half-animal goyim, beneath what appeals to the mind of the mensch.

April 10, 2015

Are cops more likely to harm innocent whites in places of high diversity?

Like the Rodney King video of the early 1990s, the recent over-reaction of a white cop who shot an unarmed fleeing black suspect in the back in South Carolina will provoke much discussion about white cops and black victims.

Too many whites settle into the view of "Well, whatever the police have to do to keep the violent blacks at bay." But it is not realistic that a cop who is that callous toward blacks will somehow transform into a respectful servant when he's dealing with whites. The cop sees himself as pest control, and whether he has to unload his bug spray on hornets, termites, or your pet dog who didn't get out of the way like he was ordered to, makes no difference to him. All those different species of pests had it coming.

One of the key findings on ethnic diversity, from Robert Putnam's research, is that it erodes trust. The "no duh" outcome is that diversity makes people of one race lower their trust in people of a different race. But the surprising and disturbing outcome is that diversity even makes people of one race lower their trust in fellow members of their own race.

In Los Angeles, not only do whites not trust the Mexicans, they don't even trust the other whites, and remain fragmented and impotent to organize for their own collective good. It's the polar opposite from white civic participation in a homogeneous part of the country like North Dakota or Iowa.

In short, when an individual is confronted with a Tower of Babel environment, which offers no possibility of coordinating a group's interests at the collective level, he withdraws from communal life and focuses only on his nuclear family, or perhaps just himself.

I suspect there's a strong influence of this dynamic at work in the growing and unregulated police state around the country. You tend to only hear about it in places with high levels of diversity.

The apologetic white response is that white cops in such areas would prefer to stick to their preference of targeting only blacks and Mexicans, and leave the nice whites alone, but are compelled by The Powers That Be to appear less racist, and therefore go after innocent whites to "narrow the gap" and avoid harassment, firing, and shakedowns.

When you look into what white cops are up to, though, you don't see people who love their own group and hate different groups. You see people who are in a hunkering-down, under-siege mentality just like Putnam's research would predict for folks living in areas of high ethnic diversity. Only these paranoids are armed to the teeth and don't even have to let you know you're about to be raided.

Thus, the more likely reason behind white cops over-targeting white folks in highly diverse areas is not to appear to be closing the gap, avoid harassment by the federal Department of Diversity, etc. Those white cops simply don't trust their fellow white citizens.

Contrary to liberal propaganda, these types do not put "white pride" bumper stickers on their car, but ones that say, "I'm not racist -- I hate everyone equally". Again, they are not trying to avoid harassment by the anti-racism squads: they honestly perceive members of their own group as potential bugs that may need to get squashed if they act too uppity, like sleeping below the window that you lobbed a flashbang grenade through.

This is impressionistic, but I think on the right track. Unfortunately the data that could resolve these questions are not collected, let alone published -- over-reactions by police, broken down by race of cop and race of victim, and broken down by geography.

Here are a few suggestive maps, though. The first comes from the Cato Institute's effort to map out botched SWAT-style raids (see full details by using their interactive map here). The second is USA Today's index of diversity, showing the chance that two randomly chosen people will belong to different ethnic groups.

The raid map would need to be made into one showing per capita rates, but I don't think that'll make such a big difference. Also bear in mind that the pin marks look crowded and exaggerate how far north the signal goes, since it's only the point at the bottom that they are measuring.

Highly homogeneous states like Ohio and Michigan are in the top 10 US states by population size, yet there are few pin marks on the raid map, and most of them are near the few hotspots of diversity in the region, like Detroit and Cleveland. Smaller but more diverse states like Colorado have more pin marks. So do similar-sized but highly diverse states like Georgia.

Leaving aside the marks that represent the killing of a cop, and focusing only on harm from cops to citizens, Ohio has 7 pin marks and Michigan just 4. Their population size is 11.6 million and 9.9 million, respectively. Colorado has 10 pin marks, about as much as both states combined, yet it has only about half as many people as either state alone (5.4 million). Georgia also has 10 pin marks, while being comparable in population (10.1 million). What Colorado and Georgia share, and what distinguish them from Michigan and Ohio, is a much higher level of ethnic diversity.

Zooming into the city level, the Columbus metro area has 0 marks involving harm to citizens, whereas similarly sized metro areas that are highly diverse like Las Vegas and Orlando have 2 and 7 marks. The 90% white Pittsburgh metro area only has 1 mark involving citizens, despite being similar in size to highly diverse metro areas like Baltimore and Charlotte, both of which have 4 marks against them.

A more exhaustive list of incidents would have to be made, and a more fine-grained analysis performed, to settle the matter. But at first glance, it does appear that a higher level of ethnic diversity is linked to a greater tendency of callous over-reaction by cops.

Still, are the victims of these over-reactions white or black? Again we need better data. Sticking with the topical location of Charleston, SC, there is a pin mark on the raid map showing a lockdown style raid of Stratford High School in 2003, with the aim of busting up drug deals. Today that school is 60% white, and so back then would probably have been more like 65-70% white. Yet video from the school's surveillance cameras show whites as well as blacks being treated like bugs by the pest control.

Diversity not only corrodes civic participation from citizens, it also leads to callous aggressive harassment of those citizens by the police. This problem is compounded by the difficulty of citizens organizing in highly diverse areas -- they can't coordinate an effort to de-escalate the increasingly paramilitary tactics of their own police forces.

Whites and blacks both got harassed by The Man in Stratford High School, but blacks and whites can't team up on anything, so The Man is free to continue his SWAT-style raids into the future. See also the poor labor history of the South, where whites and blacks couldn't coordinate to collectively bargain with owners and managers. Worse: whites can't even coordinate with their fellow whites and fight a one-team battle against the elites.

This ought to be the focus of the anti-diversity movement for the 21st century -- not the obvious conflicts that will erupt between different ethnic groups, but the corrosive and authoritarian effects it will have within the white group itself. Putnam's research and these various real-world phenomena show that there is no silver lining at all to diversity, not even an emboldened "Us vs. Them" mentality. Instead it results in "every man for himself," the worst possible scenario.

April 7, 2015

Big glasses babe du jour

Jan Smithers as Bailey Quarters, from WKRP in Cincinnati (circa 1980).

In more outgoing times, even the shy types wanted to connect with others, leading them to wear glasses with large inviting frames. Something like the awkward but well-meaning girl in the freshman dorm leaving her door open in the hopes that someone will drop by and interact with her.

Contrast with the narrow, beady-eyed glasses that are preferred by the mousier introverts of today (and during the last cocooning era as well, epitomized by the cat eye glasses of the '50s).

Some pictures from back when "geek chic" aimed to look welcoming rather than repellent:

April 3, 2015

Why do butch dykes copy the hair-do's of twink fags rather than men?

A popular but misguided view of homosexuality is the "opposite sex role" theory -- that gays are feminized and lesbians are masculinized.

I've shown in earlier posts that this theory fails to explain the full behavioral syndrome of gays, who are infantilized rather than feminized, and who only appear feminine in some ways because females are more neotenous (childlike).

The defining female traits of nurturing babies, keeping house, settling down, being a wet blanket, being a worry-wart, giving time to small local charities, etc., are alien to the male homosexual, who in fact behaves like a bratty girl-hating 5 year-old with a turbo-charged sex drive.

Normal men respond to gays not as though they were feminine, but as though they were an annoying and creepily over-eager toddler trying to join the big kids, one who can only be bullied away because he's too socially retarded to take a hint.

What about lesbians being masculinized? I find them harder to study because they don't stand out quite as much. But the butch dyke types sure do. Over Christmas I was standing behind a pair of lesbian parents and their utterly undisciplined children at the airport. The more feminine one had normal-looking medium length hair, and I expected the masculine one to have a man's haircut. I could tell from behind that it was short and parted, so that much checked out.

When she turned around, though, she had one of those severe sideways-pointing hair-do's with the sides and back shaved. The technical name is "undercut," although I find "gay whoosh" more descriptive.

Here are a few examples of this distinctly gay haircut on real-life gays:

And here are only a handful of many, many examples of twink haircuts worn by butch dykes:

If butch lesbians were simply masculinized, why wouldn't they look more like normal men? Why do they copy so specifically the grooming and even clothing habits of gay men, who look and act kiddie? Nothing kiddie can be masculine or macho, including that "I'm such a little stinker" smirk on the dyke at the end.

Maybe they want to look recognizably male, but only a degenerate and abnormal kind of male, to give the middle finger to straight society. And what more familiar model of abnormal male do they have ready to imitate than the faggot?

How ironic that in emphasizing the rejection of hetero patriarchy, the butch dyke winds up looking like a goofy little kid rather than the strong warrior she imagines herself to be.

April 2, 2015

Blame Jewish residents for awful foodie scene in Manhattan's Upper West Side?

A top-featured article from the NY Post reviews how bland, generic, and flavorless the restaurant scene is in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and places blame on the demand side with the residents themselves. Restaurants that ought to do great business flounder in the UWS, while run-of-the-mill Chinese take-out will never die. Any place that tries to do something bold is immediately watered down to appeal to dull taste buds.

You don't have to read between the lines very carefully to see who the problem is among the residents -- it's primarily the Jewish palate that the Italian-American critic is blasting.

Savvy readers may have suspected this already, given that about 1/3 of the neighborhood's residents are Jewish. But the critic can't come right out and say that in the mainstream media (for similar reasons that he would not be able to discuss openly). He did manage to drop a rather big hint toward the end, though, while quoting some other source (my emphasis):

And a new place that sticks to its guns must put up with what [Jewish restaurant manager Ed] Schoenfeld calls the “kvetch factor.”

On Christmas at RedFarm [Chinese food on Christmas], “A lady at the bar was counting people and seats to see who should get a table next.” She made a loud stink and “made my manager cry,” Schoenfeld recalls ruefully.

He asked her to leave — “I basically fired my customer,” he laughs. “You’d never see that downtown.”

Perhaps locals share lingering nostalgia for the days of Mexican beaneries and dairy cafeterias. Call it Karl Marx’s revenge on a neighborhood that prefers Gray’s Papaya to the eats that make this city the most famous dining destination in the world.

And this related hint:

Restaurants that bravely open with creative menus quickly dumb them down for proletarian tastes left over from the age when bearded “intellectuals” debated Sino-Soviet relations over refried beans, and “fine dining” struck West End Avenue sages as capitalist decadence.

Propagating and magnifying capitalist decadence is a Jewish specialty. Hence their sneering at "fine dining" is a sour-grapes defense mechanism to keep the world from noticing how sub-functional the taste centers in their brains are.

You saw something similar in their sneering at representational art, which had to be dumbed down into color field painting and the like. Or decorative motifs in buildings, which must be eliminated and exploded in the deconstructionist approach to, or rather retreat from architecture.

This suggests that the lack of Jewish accomplishment in a domain of taste stems from a more fundamental weakness in basic perception, akin to a blind man who cannot paint. (Their low scores on tests of visual-spatial cognition have been documented and accepted for awhile now.)

Why, though, do they insist on ugly art, brain-hurting buildings, and food meant for the barfbag (Mexican)? Why not just go with the flow and not make a big display out of your rejection of fine taste? It all traces back to their characteristically antagonistic stance in interpersonal relations, reflecting their genetic and cultural adaptation over the centuries to an economic niche as tax farmers, financiers, and other middleman roles.

Being upstaged by a bunch of dumb goyim is too threatening to the Jewish ego, so they turn it around and call it an abomination what is delightful, and seek delight in what is abominable.

April 1, 2015

Homelessness and rootlessness out West

From a post at Movoto, here's a map of how the states rank on the size of their homeless population per capita:

The West Coast, Nevada, Hawaii, and Alaska are all in the top 10. All the Mountain states are in the top half of the nation, except for Mormon Utah. The northern Plains states are doing poorly too.

There are pockets of heavily homeless states back East, but not entire regions. Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine are up there, but not so much New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Connecticut. New York is plagued by homeless, but the other Mid-Atlantic states aren't even in the top 20. Aside from New York, the only other centers of homelessness back East are in Florida and Georgia, and perhaps Tennessee.

Overall, though, the Deep South, Appalachia, the Midwest, and the southern Plains regions have comparatively small homeless populations.

These patterns reflect how deeply rooted the people are, with most places west of the Mississippi River having shallower roots than folks who still live where the original American settlers lived.

My hunch is that it's not just due to the shiftless, transient, and footloose tendencies of Frontier people, which would only apply to the professionally homeless. There's also those who are only temporarily homeless, and they ought to at least have family and friends to rely on for temporary relief, if the alternative is to live out of a car or on the street.

But where roots are shallow, people are less likely to have those connections. With less slack in the social system, a small accident is more likely to bring the whole thing down. Where roots are deeper, the norm is that "We take care of our own".

The data these maps were drawn from come from HUD, and reflect total homeless numbers. About 15% of the total homeless population falls into the "chronically homeless" group that we associate with drifters, bums, and the like. The rest are down on their luck, poor, lazy, addicted, or something else that makes them prone to occasional homeless living, without it being a full way of life.

I've downloaded the HUD data for myself, so if there's time, I'll re-do the rankings looking only at the chronically homeless, to see where the bum problem is the worst. Glancing over the numbers, it looks like that will tilt the rankings even more toward the West.

The data are also broken down into smaller geographic units below the state level, so we can see which cities and metro areas are more over-run.

March 29, 2015

Flashdance: Darkest lit mainstream movie ever?

I caught most of Flashdance on TV the other night, and was struck by how dark the lighting is. Not just a scene here or there, but the whole movie. See the gallery at the end of this post, and many more pictures in a post about Pittsburgh in film from What Price Glory.

The plot, dialog, and character development are nothing to write home about, but it is worth checking out for its look and sound.

Some scenes are evenly dim to convey the cloudy and dingy atmosphere that the characters are struggling to emerge from. On the other hand, many scenes have high-contrast lighting to make their lives look more stylized. This chiaroscuro can heighten the tone of romance or intimacy, as well as suggest the almost other-worldly nature of the nightlife environment.

Filmed in 1983, it represents a bridge between the gritty naturalism of the '70s and the stylized music-video look of the '80s. Just six years earlier, the similar movie Saturday Night Fever doesn't feature many scenes with high-contrast lighting, strongly back-lit shots that make people look like shadows, smoke giving the light a hazy quality, and so on.

I don't recall any shots from Flashdance that are destined for the cinematography hall of fame, but I appreciated the effort to sustain a dark look from one scene to the next for the entire duration. It does give the movie a distinct sense of place and time, aside from being shot on location in Steel City during the recession of the early '80s.

The iconic shot of an exotic dancer in a prop chair being doused with water shows how much the movie's look and feel depends on dark and high-contrast lighting. You can find many re-creations of this shot on Google Images, but they all tend to have brighter and more even lighting, so that the girl doesn't look like a shadow in profile. It just looks like a cheesecake photo from any random lad mag. The shadowy look of the original shot obscures the details of her body, so it doesn't come across quite as pornographic as it would have with standard lighting.

It's rare to find such an unusual visual approach in such a popular movie (it ranked 3rd at the box office for 1983). Can anyone think of another hit movie that is so distinctly dark, for both interior and exterior shots, and for daytime as well as nighttime shots?

Here are 20 images that show how broadly the dim and chiaroscuro look is throughout Flashdance.

March 25, 2015

Higher suicide rates out West due to rootlessness?

From Wikipedia's article on the epidemiology of suicide by region, here's a map of suicide rates among white men during the peak of the violent crime rate circa 1990:

This map left out Alaska, but it has a very high rate as well.

The main effect is being out West, which I interpret as a symptom of rootlessness and transplant living. Not only does being rooted in your place give you more support to cope with life's troubles before you even began thinking about suicide, it also reminds you how disrespectful it would be to others to just off yourself. When roots are shallow, removing yourself from the local social web doesn't feel like you'd be inflicting such a great loss on them.

There are pockets of relatively lower rates along the Pacific coast, particularly away from its major cities. Sure enough, the West Coast is relatively more rooted than the Intermountain West -- once you reach California, you tend not to want to leave (especially before the '90s), whereas nobody feels like staying in Nevada for very long.

That still wouldn't explain why Utah's rates are so high. They are more deeply rooted than others in the region, and they are more religious.

Back East, there's a noticeable line between higher rates in the South and the southern Midwest, and lower rates farther north (aside from a pocket of higher rates in northern New England). Perhaps this reflects ethnic diversity, with whites more likely to kill themselves when they leave near large black populations -- Missouri, western Tennessee, and most of the Deep South.

If so, that would be another influence of rootedness, because even if your own group's roots go back as far as they do among Southern whites, they aren't rooted in the entire local region because that territory is occupied by the roots of the region's historically large black population.

Black roots are shallow in the industrial Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and southern New England, so perhaps that's why they don't crowd out the feeling of rootedness among whites in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston (at least back in 1990). Whites don't like living next to black populations that just showed up within some residents' own memories -- the Great Migration that began in the 1920s -- but the sense that blacks are recent transplants from slave-land allows whites to still claim the whole region as the land of their own roots.

March 24, 2015

Were the original domestic cats not so defiant?

I came across a series of these "cat shaming" pictures that show a cat with a note explaining what trouble it got into, and why it's not sorry.

One thing stood out about these cat mugshots -- hardly any natural looking cats (tabbies). The few that were shown, had not crossed much of a boundary with their owner -- licking some butter, for instance, rather than tearing up a roll of toilet paper. At one site that had a sample of 30, 10 of them were either black or black-and-white. Orange ones were there, too, including calicos. The ones with tabby coloring almost always have large swaths of white as well, not fully natural looking tabbies.

Today's tabby cats look like the wildcats that were domesticated thousands of years ago, so I'm guessing that those first however-many generations did not steal and hide sharp objects around the yard, did not sneak their way into the granary and treat it like a great big litter box, and did not climb up on the roof and start shredding the thatching.

If they were wary of human beings, they must have still had a more helpful and submissive attitude, at least compared to the terrorists in the cat-shaming pictures. It's hard to imagine hardscrabble farmers continuing to domesticate an animal that only wanted to flop down on their work space so they couldn't get anything done.

The mischievous ones look more like what you'd see, not in nature, but in an artificial urban environment where feral colonies form. There are plenty of black, black-and-white, orange, and heavily white-spotted cats there, much more so than tabbies. These are the cats that have evolved to thrive in a setting where human feeders and caretakers can be taken for granted, hence where good manners aren't very necessary.

In fact, it must have paid off in Darwinian terms to be a little more pushy toward their adopters, who had begun to take care of them out of a sense of duty or stewardship (and so, more likely to thrive among a pastoralist group). They would therefore care for the creatures on a more unconditional basis, compared to the early domesticaters who tolerated cats on a quid pro quo basis, such as keeping the mice away from the grains. If your relationship with the semi-wild animal is conditional, you won't find it difficult to shoo it away if it starts acting too big for its britches and assuming an air of authority and entitlement.

Appearance and temperament are linked in all animals, so that selecting for certain personality traits will alter their looks as well (see Belyaev's foxes for the classic case study). As cat adopters shifted from farmers who allowed barn cats to hunt the mice on their land, to the urban crazy cat lady who takes care of the feral colony no matter how bad they misbehave, the tabby coloring has been slowly weeded out.

Black coloring is generally associated with aggressiveness in animals (including homo sapiens), so it may not come as a surprise to see the change move in a darker rather than lighter direction. I'm not sure why it's also selected for heavy patches of white as well -- perhaps to increase visual contrast and be more attention-getting in a dense, competitive urban setting.

Whatever the reasons, it's worth bearing in mind if you decide to adopt in the future. Tabby color looks like a good predictor of not acting like a dictator around the home.

March 22, 2015

'70s snapshot: Booze and drugs at a middle school hangout site

You ever wonder what the characters from Fast Times at Ridgemont High were like in middle school? Was little Jeff Spicoli already stoned out of his mind in seventh grade? It looks like he was.

The middle school age group isn't as exciting to study as high school, so there tends to be very little record left in the public imagination, only personal memories. But suburban archaeologists can still re-visit the original scene of the crime and see if there are any traces left of what the kids were up to way back when.

I always keep my eyes peeled when strolling around trails for signs of the good ol' days, especially when they're near schools, where young people would have been hanging out. The good weather this afternoon brought me to a wooded area behind a middle school and adjacent to residential housing.

I've seen plenty of relics from the wild times when wondering around near high schools, but they could have been near the age of majority. Middle schoolers should have had a lot more difficulty getting their hands on beer, pot, and the like. Then again, times were different back then.

As it turned out, there were at least half a dozen beer cans lying around the middle-school hangout. Every time there's a brewery so old I've never even heard of it -- this time it was Ballantine ("premium lager beer"). It was a can with the old pull tab, so it must have been from the '70s, and this label from 1977 looks like the one it had:

There was a Budweiser can still in colorful condition nearby, also with the old pull tab. There were a few push-in type cans by Coors, Milwaukee's Best, and Red Bull, though they all had the narrow mouth opening and anti-litter warnings on the top like you would have seen in the later '70s and '80s. If you find ones with the narrow mouth but no anti-litter warnings, those are from the '80s and '90s. You may never have paid any mind to these details of beer can design, but when you're trying to date a hangout site, they can give you a very close estimate.

Atypically, there were no collections of cans of the same type, as though they had all come from the same six-pack. It's not uncommon to find the remnants of an entire six-pack behind a high school or off of a trail where older teenagers and young adults would have gone. Near the middle school, I didn't find two cans by the same maker. My hunch is that each of the kids lifted a single beer from their home's fridge, or shoplifted a single can, or found a sympathetic older person to get them "just one" can of beer. That would keep the pre-high-school drinkers under the radar and account for the mismatched assortment of cans.

As usual, there were tree carvings with initials, dates, etc. "PARTYED HERE," read one of them, with the misspelling being an honest sign of the barely maturing, and barely literate make-up of the site's habitual occupants. A large graphic carving showed a bong with a stylized plume of smoke wafting up.

Unusually for what I've seen around high schools, most of the dates were from a narrow range -- the mid-to-late '70s, whereas those near a high school would have gone into the '80s and early-mid '90s. One kid left his full name and the three academic years he was at the school. (I'm not sure just how academic those years were for him, given the big-ass pot leaf engraving that he also left.) He was there from, I think, '74 to '77.

Few or no dates from the '80s -- that really struck me. The middle school opened in 1965 and is still packed with students. There were signs that students still walk through and around the area -- a recent wide-mouth lemonade can, bags from Lays chips (chip bags degrade quickly and must be recent), a notice from the principal to parents dated December 2014, and so on.

This recent stuff looked like trash that somebody chucked to the side while walking straight through, though, not collections of cans or bottles that would have been left over from students hanging out for a little while before moving on.

The period when the middle schoolers actually made the site their own hangout area, drank beer, and occasionally got high, was a small blip in the 50-year history of the school. Who were those students? They would have been born mostly in the first half of the '60s -- the late Boomers who would go on to a Fast Times kind of high school.

Their wild upbringing shows up just about anywhere you look, and it has had lifelong effects: they have always been over-represented among the homeless, for example, whether it's at the beginning of the homelessness phenomenon in the '80s or today. Anecdotal reports from early Gen X-ers suggest that the late Boomers were way more heavily into drugs during college, when the two may have shared a fraternity.

And it's reflected in the pop cultural record, where teen movies of the mid-'80s portray high schoolers who are noticeably more introspective and wary of just doing whatever feels good, man, in contrast to the uninhibited teenagers of Fast Times earlier in the decade.*

Now it looks like that lack of inhibition began earlier than their high school years, at least by the start of adolescence. I wonder how their wild attitude showed up in elementary school, when they were still too young to score beer.

* This may be one pathway from the outgoing to the cocooning mindset. The first generation that's born and raised entirely within outgoing / rising-crime times is going to turn out a little too wild, so that the next cohort after them, when looking up to what the older kids are like, are going to decide that maybe that's too far, and we should dial it down just a bit ourselves. And to not take being cool as the be-all end-all of youth, if that pursuit could lead to disaster. Make fun of trying to act cool.

This more self-aware and ironic mindset and behavioral style is already evident by the late '80s in the quintessential mock-ethnography of Generation X, Heathers, whose characters would have felt out of place at Ridgemont High.

March 20, 2015

Homo population size across metro areas (Gallup survey)

Gallup surveyed 50 major metro areas to uncover what percentage of residents identify as not heterosexual. Here are their results (scroll to bottom for the full list of 50).

No surprise that the West is the gayest region. The rootless inheritance of the Frontier makes it attractive for people who want to erase their personal history and associate only with folks who don't know who you are. Gays won't have bad memories of bullies if they uproot themselves from the community that shunned them. The laissez-faire norm of the Wild West also weakens any attempt to contain deviance.

For those following along with the bizarre nature of Mormon culture, you won't be surprised to see Salt Lake City landing in the top 10, at #7, edging out their regional rimjob rival of Denver, CO, as well as Los Angeles. I wonder if that'll be the next big thing for the Utah tourism commission -- "Salt Lake: More gay than LA! (It's official)"

Also not shocking to see how many queers there are in New England, although there aren't quite so many farther down the Bos-Wash corridor.

What might upset your expectations is how gay the plantation South is. New Orleans is all the way up at #4; Virginia Beach and Jacksonville land in the 11-20 spot. Atlanta is a bit more upland than the plantation plains, but still part of the Deep South. Miami, Orlando, and Tampa are also above the median in this list. The only low-ranking metros are Richmond, Raleigh, and Charlotte (although it's fairly upland).

The least gay region is in fact Appalachia, not the Deep South. The most fag-free metros in the nation are Birmingham and Pittsburgh, the southern and northern poles of hillbilly country. Other nearby but lower-elevation areas that rank pretty low include Memphis, Cincinnati, Nashville, and Charlotte. The only nearby areas that rank somewhat high are Louisville, Indianapolis, and Columbus (we've got to do something about that).

Much to the disappointment of Midwestern strivers, the region is about as devoid of homosexuals as Appalachia. The only somewhat high spots are those three sites on the border between the Heartland and Appalachia (Louisville, Indianapolis, and Columbus). In order to appear relevant to the homocentric media, SJWs from wholesome flyover country would have to result to hoaxes a la "my dead gay son" from Sherwood, Ohio.

It's worth comparing the ranking of how gay the population is with the ranking in this earlier post about how prevalent gay culture is. In other words, two cities may have the same concentration of homos in the population, but one may have a much more in-your-face gay culture.

Those differences would reflect the relative strength of enabling vs. containing forces from the surrounding normal population. They would not reflect differences in the dispositions of the gays themselves, since they are everywhere attention whores by inclination. Like how two cities may have similar fractions of the population being black, yet different crime rates, reflecting differences in the strength of the surrounding whites to contain black violence.

For the degree of gay culture, some metro areas rank about where you would expect based on how gay the population is. Salt Lake City is full of fags and has a "vibrant" gay culture, while Cincinnati has few of them and not much of one.

But other places have a much less palpable gay culture than you'd expect from their somewhat high ranking on percent of the population being queer. Boston, Providence, Columbus, and Las Vegas, for example. Las Vegas is too steeped in the commercialization of hetero vice to allow much room for gay culture. Boston's surrounding culture is sober and Puritanical, ditto for Providence. In their classical liberal view, as long as you don't let it show in public, what you do behind closed doors is no one else's business. And Columbus is too happily Middle-American to encourage its weirdos to fly their freak flags. (It didn't make the ranking of gay culture at all.)

On the other hand, several places in the Midwest are host to gay cultures that are far outsized for the tiny gay populations that live there, such as Minneapolis and St. Louis. Madison, Wisconsin was not surveyed by Gallup, but would probably not prove to be very much gayer than nearby Milwaukee. Yet it ranks sixth among cities for signs of gay culture, above San Francisco and Long Beach.

I doubt this is due to the reported gay populations being smaller than the actual size because of self-censorship. These are all liberal bastions that support gay marriage, so respondents would have little reason to lie about who they are.

Rather it seems like another case of Nordic permissiveness run amok, along with Scandinavian insecurity about how others view them, and exaggerating their credentials so that the elites will accept them. "We have pride parades, too!" "Des Moines in the new Brooklyn!" Pathetic.

So, in trying to figure out what factors make for a wholesome regional culture, we need to consider not just how common in the population deviants like homosexuals are, but also how enabling or containing it is of abnormality. This clearly tips the balance in favor of Appalachia over the Midwest as the beacon of cohesion to the rest of the nation that still cares.

March 18, 2015

No more clingy girlfriend songs in our cocooning age?

Still poking around the Billboard Year-End charts to see how things have changed since the '90s. Society had already entered the cocooning phase, but it was only several years into it, rather than 20-odd years into it.

Also, change doesn't always affect every individual -- it's not as though every pop star of the '90s was a watered-down version of their counterpart from the '80s. Some individuals still showed signs of the '80s climate, they were just fewer and fewer in number each year.

Looking over the charts from '93-'95, you can still see a remnant of the outgoing and socially connected world of the '80s -- the clingy girlfriend song. Torch songs wouldn't be popular if young people didn't really care that much about connecting, whether due to mousiness and celibacy or glibness and promiscuity.

Some examples, whether traditionally sentimental or with a then-contempo indie / alternative dressing. I wasn't very into rap or R&B, so won't remember any examples from that growing domain of pop music.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston

"I'll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me)" by Expose

"Again" by Janet Jackson

"Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb

"Linger" by the Cranberries

"Take a Bow" by Madonna

"You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette

Musically these aren't as catchy as the clingy girlfriend songs from the New Wave heyday like "Goodbye To You," "Only the Lonely," and "Johnny Are You Queer". I'm just talking about the tone of the lyrics revealing that there was still a residual sign of people wanting to connect with each other, and feeling loss if that bond were broken.

Twenty years further into the cocooning phase, female singers don't even talk about the aftermath of a relationship, since everyone in the audience is too socially awkward and frightened to "reach out" in the first place.

The most popular songs all convey a profound fear and dread about the very beginning when you're only asking someone out on a date, getting to know them, and so on. Merely dating somebody has become this looming apocalyptic scenario, where if the other person rejects you outright or it fizzles before anything happens, you'd be so mortified that the world might as well explode.

It sounds like the singer is a 6th-grader blasting "Carmina Burana" in her room to pump herself up to ask her girl friend if she'll ask her crush if he likes her back. "Dark Horse," "Boom Clap," "Blank Space," etc etc etc. It's all middle school apocalypse music.

Where the torch song showed a level of maturity that allowed a relationship to fully run its course, and a desire to trust others and keep them close even afterward, the emo anthems of today show how stunted the audience is in the stage of development when you're still too awkward to open up to the opposite sex, as well as a distrust of others (MUST NOT EVER BE REJECTED), including your peers, who you feel like keeping a safe distance from, except to scratch the occasional lust itch (or maybe not even then).

Keep your ears open for signs that the cocooning phase is winding down. By the latter half of the '50s, when folks were leaving their Midcentury drive-in cocoons, they were in the mood for a sincere torch song like "Making Believe" by Kitty Wells (#2 on the Country charts). I prefer the version from further into the outgoing phase, performed more tenderly by Emmylou Harris:

March 16, 2015

With emphasis on good looks, pop music in cocooning periods has few black women

An earlier post showed that audiences in cocooning times prefer singers to be attractive, while in outgoing times it's whoever can sing well. Quite a few stars of the '80s, like Phil Collins and Bonnie Tyler, could never have made it today, when pop stars are chosen more for looks, as they were during the '50s (see the post for pictures of Midcentury pop singers).

With the unabated attempt by the cultural Powers That Be to get a '90s nostalgia movement going, I decided to look into where 1995 stood on this shift, judging from the Billboard Year-End singles chart. There were some attractive singers (Madonna, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow), but still a fair showing of homely women as well.

Something struck me about the homely ones, though: a good number were black. Rap and R&B were big at the time, were dominated by blacks, and featured about as many women as men. So, homely black female singers were a core part of pop music back in the mid-'90s.

Fast-forward to 2014, when there were only three black women on the Year-End charts -- Rihanna, Beyonce, and Nicki Minaj. Compared to most blacks, they are lighter-skinned, mulatto / exotic-looking, with the kind of mixture you'd find in the Caribbean. They're not bombshells, but they're clearly more attractive than their homely predecessors in the '90s -- TLC, Da Brat, Monica, Brandy, Des'ree, etc.

In this way, pop music has returned to the cocooning Midcentury, when there weren't many black female singers before the '60s. It wasn't until 1963 that the black girl-groups really took over R&B. And although they could sing, they were homely -- the Chiffons, Martha and the Vandellas, the Ronettes.

How about during the so-called image-obsessed decade of the '80s? Black female singers were well represented, and as usual were on the homely side. Several were also middle-aged. From '83-'84, there was Patti Austin, Donna Summer, Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, Tina Turner, Deniece Williams, the Pointer Sisters, and Shannon. Irene Cara was the only exotic Caribbean-looking mulatto. Back then, it was still "can she carry a tune?" rather than "how much sex appeal does she have?"

You might think it's odd that these changes haven't been noticed before, especially given the potential angle of "dat's raciss!" and "dat's sexiss!" But it would require black women admitting in public that they aren't very good-looking, so that trends toward good-looking pop culture stars will have a "disparate impact" on them.

Or white liberals risking ostracism in trying to explain the lack of black women in sex-appeal sectors, by pointing out that they aren't very attractive. White conservatives don't pay much attention to any of these matters to notice.

March 15, 2015

Picture of grandparenting Appalachian style from the early '80s

How many signs of the good ol' days can we count here? This is me and my Pap at his home in Jefferson County, Ohio around 1981.

- Absence of helicopter parenting (not just from the grandfather in the picture, but also from the mother standing by who's taking the picture).

- Grandparents being a part of their grandkids' growth, teaching them about important things, eventually imparting valuable skills (although I had to wait until I was about 9 before he would teach me how to fire that gun).

- People in their late '60s being retired and freed up to play these grandparental roles, rather than still trapped in the workforce in order to strive-and-spend until death.

- Children dressed in distinctly children's clothing, not as mini-teenagers.

- Encouraging kids to walk on their own as soon as possible, not carting them around in strollers well into elementary school.

- Unpretentious, home-y kitchen.

March 14, 2015

WaPo reporter shocked that gay rights bill passed by new-age cult out West

Still can't keep herself from insulting flyover hicks' aping of bi-coastal political fashions:

"Utah — yes, Utah — passes landmark LGBT rights bill" (link)

None of this will be news to readers here (search earlier posts for gay Utah).

People not familiar with the region assume that having your state colored red means more or less the same thing no matter where you are. But the entire West used to be colored red, despite its Frontier inheritance of footloose novelty-seeking. It has never been a place that valued tradition and rootedness. But hey, they voted for Nixon and Reagan, so that's all we need to know.

The inter-mountain West is rapidly being absorbed by the West Coast, largely through attitude changes from within, although being exacerbated by all the West Coast refugees colonizing the cheaper land away from the beach.

(I think the shift from the surf culture to the outdoors / ski / snowboard culture over the past several decades stems from West Coast culture-makers rationalizing their exodus out of their suntanned paradise and into the snowcapped Rockies. Framing it as a life mission to discover the most epic peak to ski down must alleviate cognitive dissonance better than admitting that your old panoramic shorelines got too over-crowded, over-priced, and over-spicked.)

So, which regions does that leave as relative sanctuaries for common sense and deafness to the call toward status-striving? Check out two maps showing gay anti-discrimination laws by state: one for employment and one for housing.

The Plains states are still in the clear, although you worry about the Dakotas being pulled within the orbit of their Scandinavian weenie center-of-mass next door in Minnesota. Nebraska is also home to too many indie record labels to be confident that it won't drift within the orbit of their "please love us" farmer-striver neighbors in Iowa. Kansas and Oklahoma seem safer, although Texas is a bit too materialistic and libertarian to view it as a bastion of conservatism.

The good ol' Deep South is holding out very well for now, but the pro-homo marriage ruling in Alabama points to the difficulty in maintaining solidarity among like-minded folks in the midst of toxic diversity levels in the environment.

That leaves Appalachia, which has ignored the legal trend in housing, and in employment has allowed no special treatment, or special treatment only for state employees rather than all employees, and in Ohio only for fags and not trannies. If you review the history, several states in this region have actually repealed earlier successes of pro-homo legislation, resulting in more of a tug-of-war rather than the final defeat in the flanking regions of the East Coast and Midwest.

States to watch are those torn between the core of the Midwest that runs from the Twin Cities to Milwaukee to Chicago to St. Louis, and those with much of their land in the Appalachian chain that runs from Pittsburgh to Knoxville to Birmingham.

Indiana and Michigan are not as airheadedly desperate for acceptance as the area farther west, whose main football teams are thinly veiled promotions of homosexuality -- the Packers and the Bears. But then they're not as ornery and ready-to-fight as the hillbillies to their south and east. Ohio so far has been leaning more toward its hillbilly and Amish side than to its defeatist Midwestern side.

The good thing to result from this national assault on common sense, normality, and tradition is that it is putting each locality to a test and revealing their inner nature as they choose one reaction or another. This will facilitate the de-nationalization of our over-bloated economy and polity into more sensible regions. Showing their true colors makes it simple to identify who your people are, and who are not.

March 13, 2015

Campus protests as sibling rivalry among infantilized Millennials, whining for intervention by surrogate helicopter parents

Here's a comment I left at Uncouth Reflections about the campus protests at Oklahoma over some frat bros singing a song with "nigger" in it.

The radically different climate on campuses these days compared to the Vietnam War era is a sorely overlooked change. People see a campus protest and write it off as the legacy of the Vietnam era, but they're too different these days to lump into the same phenomenon.

* * * * *

Youth activism sure has come a long way since the ’60s. Back then, it was students protesting actions by the government. And they tried to enlist as many of their peers in the movement as they could.

Now it’s one subculture of students protesting against another group of their peers. And it’s over speech rather than actions. And they’re eager to receive the help of the government, the school administration, and other authority figures, in their so-called struggle.

It goes to show how infantilized the Millennials are. These gay college slapfights are sibling rivalries, with the whinier sibling squealing as loud as possible to the parents to intervene and make the mean sibling stop saying mean things because their very self-esteem is at stake.

If we run into Marty McFly this year, we must go back to 1985 and abort the Millennial generation.

March 12, 2015

"It Follows": The anti-'80s horror film about not trusting anybody and only looking out for Number One

There's a lot of buzz about the retro vibe of a new horror film, It Follows, but its variations are inversions on the classic themes of the slasher movies of the '70s and '80s.

I don't think I'll be seeing it, and so can't say whether it succeeds on its own terms. I'm more interested in how people, especially so-called film buffs, perceive the past and how it compares with the present. With all the talk about it being a radically fresh incarnation of the '80s slasher flick, it looks like they've totally missed the message.

Here is the movie's trailer, and a full plot synopsis from Wikipedia. Let's look at just how opposite its treatment is of the major themes of the slasher / horror genre during its heyday in the '80s.

Who or what is the danger? Ultimately, it's some supernatural stalker that kills you once it slowly reaches you. But the stalker has no direction of its own, unlike Freddie Krueger who wanted to get revenge on the children of the adults who fire-bombed his house after the justice system failed to lock up the serial child rapist-murderer. Or unlike a psycho who picks victims on a whim, where it's still his choice, however lacking in motivation the choice may strike us.

Instead, the stalker is passed along from one victim to the next like a curse. After the current victim has sex with someone, the stalker drops the current target like a hot potato and turns single-mindedly toward the person they had sex with. In order to escape the stalker, your only hope is to pass it along to someone else after the most intimate kind of encounter. Since even hinting at your ulterior motives would make it impossible to make it with the next victim, your goal is to dupe them.

Thus, the true danger is not a supernatural entity, but anybody who might possibly be interested in you sexually, including all of your opposite-sex peers. You can never know which ones are just trying to dupe you into becoming the next victim in order to save their own skin.

With time being of the essence, you'll choose the quickest and easiest victim to dupe. Since that means somebody who already trusts you, you will naturally go after one of your own friends and acquaintances to pass it along to, rather than a stranger. A stranger would be wary of a random horndog guy trying to get into her pants, or a too-good-to-be-true case of a cute girl you don't even know throwing herself at you.

The real enemy, with a real motive, is therefore a close insider rather than an outsider. In the '80s slasher movies, it was someone within the neighborhood or community, but not within your most narrow and intimate social circle. That made it possible to band together with your peers against a common enemy. That left a fairly large social circle that could be trusted as a sanctuary from evil.

In the world of It Follows, there is no minimal social circle that you can trust. You are utterly on your own, and if you find yourself stalked by the entity, you are only going to look out for Number One by cynically and deceitfully passing it on to someone else.

According to the movie's rules, you cannot even sacrifice yourself to spare others, as the stalker will continue backward along the chain of transmission once it claims its first victim. Trying to take one for the team by allowing it to kill you would spare potential future targets, but would not protect those who came before you in the chain.

In the movie's logic, cooperation and altruism are pointless.

These are not minor, nitpick-y differences. They get at the fundamental themes of the horror genre -- what is the source of danger, how can we prepare for it before it finds us, how can we deal with it when it does show up, and how can we cope with its aftermath? In the classic slasher movies, these themes all led to pro-social solutions. In the Millennial version, they are anti-social.

Taking a broader objective view of the history of horror, is this really such a new inversion anyway? Not really: the classic '90s anti-slasher movie Scream had already placed the source of danger from within one's most intimate social circle.

However, It Follows has turned up the dial. In Scream, the idea that evil was so close that you couldn't trust your closest friends and partners was only revealed in a shock ending. Throughout most of the movie, you felt as though it were another case of a psycho killer coming from outside the circle of friends. It Follows lays out the anti-social paranoia from the get-go. Also, in Scream the killer's motive was revenge for his mother, which is at least somewhat pro-social. Mindless, cynical self-preservation is the only motive in It Follows.

During the bridge of the early '90s, Twin Peaks left it an open mystery who the killer was, for the captivating episodes anyway. The teenagers may have suspected one another, but they may also have suspected an adult from the community, an outsider, or a supernatural force. Unlike straight horror movies where the evil entity is known from early on, the unresolved mystery in Twin Peaks led to a tension between trusting and suspecting your closest friends and community members.

Lurid plots involving the closest of friends coldly and psychopathically killing each other have also long been a staple on Law & Order: SVU.

The main innovation of It Follows is the logic of how the evil entity "selects" its targets, but that's just a gimmicky plot device. It's still largely of a piece with the Scream-and-after era of horror movies.

The change in approaches to these themes follows straightforwardly from the phases of the social cycle, which alternates between a outgoing / trusting phase (roughly the '60s through the '80s) and a cocooning / suspicious phase ('90s through today).

I find it mind-boggling that film nerds compare stuff like this to classic slasher movies, all because it has an eerie synth soundtrack. In narrative substance, It Follows could not be any more of a bizarro '80s movie.