What’s your favorite anti-capitalist book or film?
Robocop is my all-time favorite anti-capitalist film. It’s a film about a city being horribly transformed by capitalism. Money has removed everyone’s ability to create a community in Detroit, and turned it into a landscape of pure selfishness and fear. It’s about corporate solutions being applied to the problems corporations create. It’s also about capitalism turning people into objects and all the complications and hideous fallout that creates. But the movie is also weirdly hopeful? Because the film believes that humanity itself is the X factor that can actually save the day.
And yes, all cops are bad, even Robocop!
What radicalized you? How did you first become critical of capitalism?
My childhood radicalized me. I grew up with extreme fiscal disparity in my household. My father was rich. My mother was frequently homeless. Due to toxic masculinity (among many other issues) my father was prone to use his money like the proverbial carrot/stick combo – a reward for those who performed gender/assigned family roles to his liking, a punishment of denial for those who did not. Let me tell you, I resented the hell out of that from very early on. Kids have an innate sense of justice, and “performing for money” is not it. Plus I was exposed to a lot of rich people when I was a kid. Interesting fact: money does not make you a fun, kind, or interesting person to be around.
I just didn’t forget those facts as I grew up. I wanted to forget them, believe me, but they are inescapable.
Everyone has a ridiculous work story. What’s yours?
Unpaid internships are expected if you want to work in the film industry in Hollywood. That means that for about six months to a year (it’s not supposed to go this long, but almost every intern will get pulled aside and get the speech about “dedicated” interns working beyond the contracted limit and eventually getting hired by the studio) you work for free for a company and, you know, maybe they will hire you. I remember getting an internship as a script reader, and someone pulled me aside and asked me to answer her phones. I was happy to be noticed in the pack of readers, but my hearing is thrashed and I told my supervisor that, uh, I can’t hear most words over the phone. She told me to “do my best”. I did, but I discovered that rich people don’t like it when you ask them to spell their names out and will often refuse to do so, so I spent my days “playing telephone” while answering the phone. After the fifth tense conversation with my supervisor it dawned on her: I was not “trying to get out of work”, I could not hear people on the damn phone. It dawned on me, too: I was done dealing with this ableist nonsense. No more unpaid internships for me, no matter what.
What inspired your story for ProleSCARYet? (Spoiler free).
CORPOS! has been festering in the back of my brain for years. “Corporation” is a fascinating word because it has “corps” or “the body” in it, and a corporation is often like a body detached from a conscience or soul, strongly preoccupied with physical goals and the physical world. The strongest influence on this story is definitely the original Godzilla films – Godzilla is this amazing kaiju that symbolizes America’s destructive and violent relationship with Japan – specifically America’s bombing of Hiroshima. Godzilla is art that engages directly with tragedy, which is probably why I haven’t responded to any of the American film versions of this classic kaiju character. The American versions seem uncomfortable with this symbolic heritage, and take this very punk, beautiful monster and turn it into a giant dinosaur toy because they’re afraid to do anything else with it.