Friday, January 6, 2017

"SENSE 8" OR SENSELESS ACHE?

Lana Wachowski 

Sense 8 is a Tom Tykwer and Lana Wachowski collaboration for Netflix. It is a flashy fantasy of social-justice-warrior culture wherein eight characters are psychically linked through their simultaneous spiritual birth from a spiritual mother, or something like that. Frankly, trying to put it together coherently would give me a headache. The characters materialize in the minds of each other and have conversations with or even inhabit each others' bodies in times of danger. 

Sound schizophrenic? Well, it may well be. Or it may have something to do with the persistent references to heroin and alcohol consumption. Or it may have to do with the overuse of social media. 

Of course, all these multinational psychic siblings are buff and beautiful. They have an orgy in the last installment, a teaser Christmas special, which is meant to peak interest in the coming second season in May 2017. Yes, a psychic orgy with heroin addicts, a lesbian couple which is half transgender, a stunningly sexy Latino male couple, and various straight-ish people. Black, white, yellow, brown...it's all good. I like soft porn as much as anyone, but this isn't deep and great art. It would make a great music video. 

I suppose Sense 8 portrays the aching need of some to merge identity with everyone. A Facebook paradigm of sorts. An Angela Merkel world, where we're all just the same and need no boundaries or budgets or rules. These characters are never really alone, even the Korean martial artist in solitary confinement. 

The visual Tykwer brand (Run Lola Run, Winter Sleepers, Cloud Atlas) is unmistakable. It is sexy, stunning, flashy...perfectly geared to the ADD mindset of a browser-based culture. He is Swiss, after all. Clockwork precision comes with the background. I assume the 'sense8ibility' comes from Lana Wachowski, the broad-shouldered Hollywood darling with clown hair, whose own transgender advocacy is legendary. She and her brother are becoming the Weinstein brother-sisters of their generation. 

On a purely artistic level, Sense 8 is a decent production. On a cultural level, it is pure saccharin for those who subscribe to the new feminism, in which every individual is a worthy victim of something or someone and The Group is invincible.  Focusing on individual choice and the responsibility for the repercussions of those choices is "mean" in that "sense8ibility". It is an invitation to remain childishly entitled and co-dependent forever. If a government were to promote this, it would be called fascist or oppressively controlling.

What is the senseless ache of deprivation which drives the movement of real-life social warriors? After all, most are from middle class backgrounds. Most of them are initiated in universities, not the harshest of environments. Many of the women of the movement vehemently identify with male-to-female transgender people. This seems strange in a feminist movement, since male-to-female transgender people are highly gender-conscious (obsessed?) and sexist in their concept of gender roles. 

I could theorize that this subcultural wave of fear of alone-ness is fallout from jihadist terrorism. But these neo-feminsts would scream shrilly that I am being Islamophobic, despite the fact that many of them would be beheaded, stoned or simply locked up in an orthodox Islamic world. I could theorize that they have caught onto the deference paid to gay/lesbian people after the AIDS epidemic and Matthew Shepherd's politically exploited execution by homophobic yahoos. Victimhood was commercialized by AIDS service organizations into a major industry which reaped profits and celebrity for some. The tsunami of public sympathy which resulted from mass media penetration by AIDS organizations and their celebrity advocates was a wave upon which gay lobbyists (HRC, for example) climbed to surf to gay marriage legislation and court decisions. They are having a harder time transposing their influence on transgender issues, which are clouded by the opposing need of a vast majority of people to accept their birth gender as organically natural. 

This senseless ache (neurosis?) of bourgeois victims in the prosperous and lethally militant U.S.A. is narrow-minded, to put is nicely. Sense 8 tries to make it sexy by psychically superimposing it on the whole planet through its hunks and hotties. The scary and sadistic bearded old White guy is the perfect villain who is trying to break up this perpetual pity-party, strewn with fireworks and lubricant. Perhaps, like Dorothy in the Oz books, these fused beauties will eventually waken to individual adulthood. How frightening. But it seems more likely they will remain children forever in a Peter Pan world of group denial and group self-excuse. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity will have to move on without them. 



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