Archive for October, 2011

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Look, I don’t really care if anyone with an opinion wants to share it. I really don’t even have a problem with people who don’t bother to have informed opinions wanting to share their opinions when it comes to issues like entertainment and what they like or dislike in their horror. Hey, everybody has opinions. People see various things and, for whatever intangible reasons, they decide that they like or dislike things based on their own personal tastes. And, yeah, if you ask them to articulate the why behind their tastes, they’ll come up with a lot of reasons that they present as in depth analysis and (almost) as facts.
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Not really a problem there. Hell, I do it. That’s half the fun of discussing things with fellow genre geeks no matter what your personal favorite genre is. Debating the finer points of who has the worst tastes in your social circle is a time honored tradition among geeks. 
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But whenever something gets a big, pop-culture boom moment, that’s when the “experts” come out in droves. The “experts” are sought out and given book deals and TV interviews and paid good money to talk about something that they supposedly know something about. And right now that pop-culture boom moment’s spotlight is shining its light on the alive again zombie genre thanks to a nice slow burn that started with 28 Days Later, the Dawn of the Dead remake, and the video game turned movie franchise Resident Evil and that has now exploded thanks to the comic book turned television series The Walking Dead. So, of course, that’s where the experts are being sought out right now.
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Except, I seriously want to slap the stupid out of some of these experts; especially over the supposed zombie “rules” out there and the ever so fun debate of Fast VS Slow.
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We’ll go with the Fast VS Slow thing first…
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Look, I personally don’t care if you’re a fan of the fast or the slow zombie. I honestly don’t think that the speed of the zombie makes a film either good or bad. We have decades of bad zombie films that have both fast and slow zombies as well as some good films that include both fast and slow zombies. It’s not the speed of the ghoul that makes a good or bad film, it’s the people behind the film that makes it a good or bad film.
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And, yes, for the record I am a fan of both fast and slow zombies.
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But there are a bunch of people that hate the concept of the fast zombie. They go on (and on and on and on and on and on) about how it’s just impossible for a zombie to run. It is, they repeatedly declare, absolutely ridiculous and completely unrealistic for a dead body to get up and run like a track star. They are, after all, dead and the dead can’t run. Interestingly, this line of thought seems to overlook the basic concept that it’s absolutely ridiculous and completely unrealistic for a dead body to get up, let alone get up, walk around, act like a herd animal and hunt and eat humans. But, hey, that’s their argument and they’re welcome to it.
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But a part of that hate of the fast zombie is the need to assign blame for the introduction of the fast zombie into the zombie genre. It’s somebody’s fault and, damn it, they’re standing at the ready to point the finger of blame. And you see this not just in the average fan, but in the “experts” as well. The problem is, especially for the “experts,” they’re often wrong.
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This time of year we get a flood of horror related specials on TV and book stores put their horror related product in a place of prominence for shoppers to see and buy. And in the last few years, a lot of that stuff has either included zombies heavily or been devoted specifically to zombies. And what have I been hearing and reading? Well, not exactly something that I would call accurate information by the various experts.
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There are primarily two camps that seem to make up the bulk of the “experts.” out there. One camp blames 28 Days Later. 28 Days Later, they say, introduced the fast zombie to us. 28 Days Later was the first zombie film to make them fast and thus up the terror factor. The other camp blames the remake of Dawn of the Dead as they discount the zombie credentials of the 28 Days Later zombies. They are, so they will tell you, not really the undead in 28 Days Later. The creatures in 28 Days Later are infected, living humans suffering from something like rabies on steroids. Problem is, both camps are full of it.
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This, as a specific example, brings me to Jovanka Vuckovic. She’s in the camp of pointing to 28 Days Later as introducing us to the fast zombie. Now, what are her credentials insofar as being given book deals to write about zombies (note the book cover pictured above) and get interviewed about them while also being paid nice money to contribute to zombie and horror related documentaries? Well, she’s the former editor of Rue Morgue Magazine, she’s worked in the film business, she’s been paid to write about horror in general for years now as well as lecture on the matter in general or about specific sub-genres in the horror genre, and she has been called by some the most influential woman in horror. But, well, she’s full of it here. And what, to me, makes her comments about fast zombies and 28 Days Later look foolish is that she’s written the above book and that she’s written about the various films in the genre before she wrote that book.
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If you track down a copy of her book, she does a fairly good job of covering the history of the zombie in cinema. She covers the old Voodoo zombie, goes over how Romero changed the way we looked at zombies and covers in varying detail the huge number of films churned out in the 70s and 80s by American, Spanish and Italian film studios among others. She also does a nice bit of covering the popular zombie cult classic known as 1985’s Return of the Living Dead.
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And there’s the rub.
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Return of the Living Dead, if you’ve never seen it, has fast zombies in it. It has a scene where an entire herd of fast zombies overrun a group of police officers. It shows zombies sprinting at their victims. And it did this almost 20 full years before either 28 Days Later or the Dawn of the Dead remake did it. And it wasn’t alone in this.
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Zombi 3 not only had running zombies, but it had zombies that seemed to be able to leap small buildings in a single bound. Some of the other low budget wonders of the 80s and 90s, including the sequels to Return, shared this habit of making zombies a bit more athletic than we saw in George’s films. And even if you somehow just want to look at theatrical releases in the 2000s as your measuring stick, you would still be wrong in saying that 28 Days Later was the first fast zombie film. 28 Days Later was first released in its native country in November of 2002. Resident Evil, acknowledged by Vuckovic and others as a zombie film, unleashed its fast and insanely jacked up and mutated zombies on cinema goers in March of 2002.
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But that’s not what the “experts” are saying in print and in interviews. From page 116 of Vuckovic’s book where 28 Days Later is discussed-
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“Finally- and most importantly- they’re capable of running, a characteristic totally new to the zombie subgenre.”
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Except, dear Javanka, it wasn’t and you should know better as you covered the other zombie films with their running zombies that came before it both in your book and in your years on the horror scene. You just failed to mention the running zombies when discussing most of them. 
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So, to Vuckovic and her fellow “experts,” we get it. You don’t like the “new” fast zombies. You think that slow zombies are better than fast zombies. So why not just leave it at that? Why not say that your preference is for the shamblers and not the sprinters and just leave it at that. Because when you don’t, when you try to use your status as an “expert” to point he finger of blame at 28 Days Later or the Dawn remake, because it’s just become so popular to point the finger of blame at at least one of them, you do a disservice to not only yourselves (as your credibility on anything you say is now suspect,) but to the genre and its fans as well.
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You’re offering your opinion and your biases as facts and your doing it in things that are being sold or shown as scholarly (to greater or lesser degrees) works that people can learn about the genre from. As such, you are essentially promoting misinformation. You make it harder for people to have discussions about the genre as those who are like-minded to your biases now have “experts” to point to when they want to support their unreality POV on the matter and younger, newer fans to the genre who are seeking this stuff out end up being armed with “information” that’s garbage when seeking out things that are a part of their new favorite genre or, even better, when trying to get into discussions about the subject with fans who know better. Plus, well, you look like o bit like a dumbass when you sell yourself as an expert and you keep saying stuff that’s ten pounds of manure in a five pound bag.
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Oh, and, please, while all of you various experts out there are at it… Stop trying to validate your preference as the “right one” with ridiculous arguments constructed around what’s realistic and what isn’t with regards to dead bodies getting up and eating the living. Not only are you essentially hanging your debating point on the idea that you can’t accept the seventh impossible thing before breakfast after accepting the other six without question, but you’re doing so when sometimes discussing movies where the source of the zombie plague is either unknown or flat out explained as being related to supernatural means.
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If the origins are supernatural, then you can’t really claim the scientific/reality based high ground in the debate. What, a supernatural power strong enough to raise the dead and have them hunt humans can’t also tweak the dead to make them a bit faster than you like them to be? If the origins are unknown, then how can you say in any definitive way that whatever is raising the dead isn’t altering the undead muscle fiber and flesh? Hell, even if the origin is man made, whether a military super-soldier program gone wrong or an experiment in medical super serums, why would it not make as much sense to say that the experiment gone wrong might be partially doing what it was intended to do to begin with?
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Again, just say that you’re not a fan of the fast ones and leave it at that. If you’re just a fan of the genre and you’re arguing that fast zombies are just ridiculously impossible, lamenting the fact that “kids today” don’t get it and saying that films like 28 Days Later and the Dawn remake introduced fast zombies to the genre… Well, you just look like someone arguing an uninformed opinion. If you’re someone getting paid money to talk about the genre, making your living in part by talking about the genre and flashing your “expert” credentials in discussions, lectures and documentaries on the subject and you’re saying that… Well, you look a bit like an jackass to anyone who knows better. But you’re not alone in that, because this time of year we’re flooded with a higher than average band of happy “experts” who want to lecture us all about “The Rules” of the zombie genre.
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You see, there are apparently rules to the zombie genre that you must adhere to or your zombies aren’t “real” zombies and are “bad” zombies. And, of course, whenever we have rules, we have those who must explain those rules to we who just don’t know any better. There are two problems with this concept though.
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The first is that this concept is a path to stagnation. Two seconds of thought about the subject should make one realize that declaring that you must have a rigid and inflexible set of rules that must be followed in each and every story is a path to boredom, stagnation of the genre if not actually the downfall of the genre. Yes, there has to be a set of basic guidelines to ground your zombie creation in, but I think that pretty much ends at being undead and munching flesh.
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Every other horror creature out there has evolved to a greater or lesser degree. That doesn’t mean that every evolution has been for the better or that every evolution was permanent, but every other horror creature out there has evolved a bit here and there to keep them fresh. And, double bonus, some evolutions get so run into the ground and done to death that someone later comes along with a back to basics approach that gets the genre embraced all over again as the “new” pop culture fave. Change isn’t always bad and it is never permanent or all encompassing.
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The other issue with this particular breed of expert is that they’re often parading their personal preferences around as “The Rules” when in reality their version of “The Rules” doesn’t even match the source they claim that “The Rules” come from. They make up these rules to fit their personal preferences and then try to give them some sort of weight by declaring them to be George Romero’s rules. One of the most annoying offenders out there in the currant crop of “experts” is one Max Brooks.
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Now, I should say up front here that, as far as his fiction work goes, I love Max. I loved The Zombie Survival Guide, I loved WWZ and I loved The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. I also count it among the great tragedies in my life that I had to work shift and couldn’t get off the evening that he was in my general area giving one of his Survival lectures. Granted, I wanted to slap him one night when on the late, great Fangoria Radio he went on a tirade about how badly Return of the Living Dead “damaged” the genre and how many years it took to “recover” from that, but that was his opinion (wrong as it might be) and he has his right to it. But, I’m sorry to say, Max is a bit full of it at times. And a part of why he’s occasionally full of it is because he from time to time likes to pass of his rules as essentially Romero’s rules. And he’s not alone in this.
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But we’ll stick with Max here.
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“The Rules” as Max explains them are that zombies are mindless eating machines who never stop and never run. They’re slow moving hordes of unstoppable(ish) and inevitable death coming after you. And these rules are, as mentioned above, based in the classic works of Romero’s zombie films. And again, as also mentioned above, he’s far from alone in stating this.
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And that always makes me wonder if any of the people, let alone the “experts,” saying this have actually ever bothered to watch Romero’s Dead films. And I always end up wondering that because Romero himself didn’t follow most of the rules that people set down in stone as “Romero’s Rules.”
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You want to talk jogging zombies? Watch Night of the Living Dead and watch the graveyard zombie chase after Barbra’s car.
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You want to talk running zombies? Watch Dawn of the Dead and watch the two child zombies at the airport charge the guy when he finds them inside. Granted, Romero now says that zombies can’t run, but it doesn’t change the fact that he put a couple of runners in his classic Dawn film and a pretty swift jogger in Night. 
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You say zombies aren’t coordinated enough to climb some structures like ladders or pull themselves up through small openings like an attic opening? Check out Dawn of the Dead and explain to me how in the hell all those zombies got up on the roof there at the end when the only way that they could get up there like that was up a ladder and then pulling themselves up through a small opening in the ceiling.
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You say zombies are mindless? Romero never subscribed to that rule. In Night, you have the zombie in the graveyard struggle to get at Barbra, stop beating against the car window with its bare hand, look around and pick up a big rock to use as a tool to smash the glass with. In Night, you have zombies pick up sticks and stones and throw them at light sources. In Dawn, you see a zombie use its memory of life to go to a fake wall, rip it down and lead other zombies to the living. And, of course, in Day and Land you had flat out thinking, reasoning, plotting and planning zombies.
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So in what films did Romero actually even bother to follow “The Rules” himself? Well, two of them to be honest with you. He followed them pretty damned closely in Dairy of the Dead and Survival of the Dead, the two entries into his franchise of Dead films that most of his fans and most critics complained were the weakest films in the franchise by far. Although, to be fair to the opposing point of view, the films getting panned might not have been as much about his restricting his creativity by following “The Rules” so strictly. My friend Bill Mulligan is a major Romero fanatic. He has… issues… with the most recent installments of the Dead franchise, but his problem with them are Romero’s seemingly much more clumsy handling of his message of the moment and how he lets that message and the politics behind it get in the way of the storytelling. And I agree with that to a degree, but I also feel like his zombies, now stuck in the mold dictated by “The Rules,” have lost a little something that they had back in the day when he was doing what he wanted to with them to fit the story’s needs and demands.
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The simple fact is that there really are no rules. Even if you declare that Romero made the genre, which is only half true since even Romero has said that he never intended his creatures to be zombies and that he basically lifted them from I Am Legend before giving them a quick makeover, that only makes them Romero’s rules. It does not set them in stone for all others to follow any more than Stoker’s rules for vampires should have been forced onto Steve Niles or into films like Near Dark. Everyone has a story to tell that’s their story. They have to come up with their rules. If they get the basics right, who really cares if they tweak the rest a bit so long as they tell a solid, entertaining story?
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But if you just can’t live with that concept, if you absolutely have to piss and moan about it, just frame your bitch fest as what it is. It’s your personal opinion and your personal tastes that you’re arguing and not some set of laid in stone rules. And your view of “The Rules” are just that; they’re yours. They are not anyone else’s and they’re not truly and 100% Romero’s Rules. If you’re a self proclaimed expert, don’t try and go that route. Not only do you come off looking like someone who doesn’t have the courage to let their POV stand as and on its own, but, well, you come off looking like an idiot to anyone else who knows anything about what you’re talking about.
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So, please, express your opinions as the “experts” you are as much as you want and make all the money you want to. Hey, it’s got to be a bit of a dream gig to make a living doing it. But, please, don’t declare yourself an expert or flaunt your expert status and then turn around and look like a damned fool and an idiot by replacing facts with your own personal opinions and preferences.
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And if you can’t not do that… Then, please, just STFU about it and stick to the parts of the genre that you like and agree with so that you can stop looking like that to the rest of us.
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Thank you.
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Have a happy Halloween.

First, a short(ish) observation about the Occupy Wall Street Movement before I get into the more serious observation.

– I love the insane mental gymnastics that I’m seeing by some on the Right when it comes to the logic, and I use that word very, very sarcastically, that they’re using to declare that OWS is not a grassroots movement VS their comments some time back about the Tea Party. Once the Tea Party started going, we saw sponsorship, and there’s really no other word for it, by Fox News, we saw Fox News host and promote Tea Party events, we saw identical signs printed out at different Tea Party events, we saw large events held simultaneously in multiple cities where people were bused in on large rental buses decorated with identical giant Tea Party promo artwork, we saw identical talking points from event to event, we saw major Republican activists declaring themselves as Tea Party members and pumping money into the movement and the events and we saw anonymous “grass roots” donations made to the Tea Party and its events through organizations run by long time Republican activists where single donations were made in the high six figures. All of this was looked at by the Right and declared as nothing more than typical, Mom & Pop, regular people around the neighborhood activities and nothing but 100% pure grassroots activity.

Now we have the OWS movement. It spent months building with little or no notice by most of the press. It has consisted primarily of low income individuals who have gotten to the events on their own and are sleeping in the streets at the protest locations. You rarely see consistent (or in some cases coherent) talking points from group to group at the same location. There are no giant organizations funding the OWS events. The closest you might have to anything like that is the labor unions finally getting into the act and making an uneasy alliance with this movement based on shared anger over certain stupidities by “Wall Street.” You also have not seen a news organization promoting, sponsoring and hosting these events as did Fox News with the Tea Party. All of this is looked at by the Right and declared to be an organized Astroturf movement created by the major money players on the Left to help Obama.

You’ve just gotta love the professional Right some times.

Okay, now on with the next bit…

I know several people who have joined in with the OWS group in Richmond, VA. I know one person who has gone to the actual Wall Street protest that started this. I know a few people in other states who have joined their state’s group to protest there. I’ve talked to these people face to face or via email about this thing. I’ve come away from those chats with two fairly solid observations about the OWS movement as a whole.

– The first observation is that the form of protest that they’re using is fairly ineffective. It’s ineffective for a multitude of reasons, but I’ll focus on just a few.

The protest, despite the comments of the Professional Right, is about as well organized as a trailer park right after a major tornado. There is no unified message beyond being angry at Wall Street and what some of the big businesses out there have done and no real solutions being presented by the movement as a whole. There are no organized talking points and organized bullet points to tell the media when they’re at an event. There also really seems to be little planning for the thing beyond showing up and hanging out at the locations designated as protest areas. It’s basically a mess in more ways than one.

And some of this lack of organization hurts them in ways that they should have realized it would quite some time ago. They don’t have a focused message. They don’t have any real leadership or any real spokesman to speak of. In the absence of those two things, there is no real “official” message to stand out amongst the more idiotic remarks made by the more fringe-like protestors being interviewed by the press at these events. Not only does it make the movement come off as incoherent, but it makes it extraordinarily easy for those who dislike both the OWS movement and what they might in fact stand for to twist and shape their image into a parody of what it might otherwise be.

You can’t win a debate if you can’t focus your argument. You can’t change minds if you can’t present a persuasive point of view that at least seems like it makes sense. You can’t win the right people to your side if your side’s centerpiece stance is just anger at essentially a generic entity. And you certainly can’t win people over if your lack of focus allows your image to be shaped into the worst possible image by your detractors.

This protest looks like amateur hour at the complainer’s society. But there’s more to it than that (at least with some of the people in it) and they’re ability to make a good point is getting drowned out by the disorganized nature of the thing and the general stupidity of their fringe.

– They’re also made almost useless by the simple fact that the people that they’re protesting don’t care about the protest and the people that could bring about the change that might be needed in our system won’t do it. Wall Street doesn’t care about this. They can make money in so many ways that it’s not funny. Hell, Wall Street makes money off of sending businesses down in flames.

I’m serious about that. I’ve been around big business types and investment speculators who were discussing the fact that they love seeing a business crater and love helping it crater by their actions and the actions of their friends and partners. Why? Because it’s fast cash for them get for themselves.

If a company starts to freefall, they start a cycle of buying and selling stock. Stock for the company gets sold at the opening of the day. There’s then a late day “rally” in the stock when a number of shares are purchased right before the closing of the trading day. That’s in some cases the same set of people buying back the stock they sold that morning. Of course, they sold the stock at (as an example price) $250.00 a share that morning. When they buy the shares back that night, the shares are only worth $200.00. If they buy the same number of shares that they sold that morning, they end the day with the same number of shares that they started with, but they’ve made $50.00 per share off of the deal that day. The next day, they do this again. There’s a mass dumping of stock first thing in the morning followed by an artificial rally at the end of the day. The stocks start the day at the $200.00 per share price and end the day at $150.00 a share. And they do this day after day.

Now, you’re thinking that $50.00 isn’t much of a big deal. Except it’s actually a pretty big deal when you’re talking about hundreds of shares being sold, bought and sold over and over again by the same person. You do that with just 100 shares of stock and you can make $5,000.00 a day on this scheme for as long as the stock continues to fall. There are a lot of people out there who have made this into an art form. They know that there’s money to be made in this game and they know that the system has been, deliberately or not, set up to allow this kind of thing.

They also know that, in some cases, they can make money by crashing a company they own. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we still live with a system where businesses can profit from a controlled write-off. This is a system that allows the rich to get richer by the occasional use of crashing companies or causing massive layoffs and cutbacks amongst their employees.

And a part of this “They” that are involved in this system to greater or lesser degrees are the vast majority of politicians out there. And don’t read that as “politicians” somehow equaling “Republicans” here. There are a lot of politicians in DC on both sides of the isle that are plugged into the corporate money system. In some cases they literally are a part of the giant business that’s playing these games. In some cases they’re just beneficiaries of the money teat.

These are the people that they’re protesting against, but these are the people who control most of the power and money in this country. In a way, we’re in a runaway airplane together. The pilot is doing his own thing and none of us like it one bit. The problem is that the only other person that knows how to fly the plane will do the same thing that the guy flying the plane now is doing and they’ve locked the cockpit door anyhow.

– The second thing that I’ve found in these discussions is that, at least with the people I know and the general description they’ve given of the points of view belonging to the people they go to these things with, I agree with them to greater or lesser degrees about what they say.

They think that the system has gone crazy and been broken and that it needs to be fixed. That doesn’t mean that they want to do away with capitalism and replace it with socialism. They’ve just come to realize that Capitalism has the same basic problem as Socialism and Communism. All three systems are perfect. All three systems are the absolute best system for the people. At least, that’s what they all are on paper.

The sad reality is that once people get involved with any system, that system will ultimately find itself being corrupted and perverted if enough people want it corrupted and enough people let it happen. Capitalism is not an altruistic system. Capitalism is not a moral system. Capitalism is just a system and like every system out there it can be gamed and rigged and corrupted.

A lot of them feel that our system of capitalism has been corrupted and perverted. And I agree with them to varying degrees on a number of points and examples.

They look at our system, at our country and at the businesses that sit atop our system. They look and they see profitability turning into greed turning into a quest to not just make a profit, but to make more and more profit by any means available to them.

Hell, look at Apple. They’re making money hand over fist.  Apple is a company with a net worth of over $300 billion. That’s not a misprint. Apple is, as of late 2011, worth over $300 billion. This is a company making huge amounts of profit. This is a company where the people at the top of the food chain are making more money than most people could spend in 10 lifetimes. This is a company that still puts factories in third world countries to create the parts that go into their products despite the fact that they would have still been profitable if those plants were in America.

You see, there’s a buzzword in big business that a lot of companies start using when they get large enough. They like to “maximize” their profit. One easy way they maximize their profit is by paying the least amount of overhead that they can.

Now, at some level, that’s a sound business practice. Your average Mom & Pop business has to figure out how to do that to become profitable and grow. You do need to balance out your overhead VS your profit so that your total costs of doing business are less than your profit. And, if you’re either really good, really lucky or really lucky and good, you get that balance right to the degree that your profits begin to outstrip your costs by a large margin and you’re set and secure. That after all is the dream, right?

And a lot of people did that. A lot of people in this country’s history have made themselves millionaires doing just that. But then the game started to more and more become all about making the most amount of money possible no matter the means. And people are seeing this.

People have seen companies in the last few decades that were making a healthy profit cut and/or close production facilities and factories in America and move them overseas because they could stick a factory in a third world country, pay almost starvation wages even by the local standards, work employees 60, 70 or 80 hours a week with no overtime, give no benefits and “maximize profits” for the company. It wasn’t enough to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profits at the end of every year. Now the new goal was to make billions.

And then people see the people running some of these companies say one thing while doing something that totally flies in the face of what they’ve said to “the common people.” People see companies claim that they’re in such bad shape that they have to cut back (i.e. fire) a thousand employees to get by in a given year. These middle class income earners are just breaking the company and times are tough. They just can’t keep those people on the payroll anymore. Of course, they then turn around at the end of the year and give themselves multi-million dollar bonuses on top of their multi-million dollar salaries.

Times are tough, so the company has to fire employees making $35,000 to $50,000. Times aren’t so tough though that they can’t give themselves in bonuses the money that would have easily allowed them to retain a huge number of the employees that they fired that year. And that’s on top of the salaries that they already get that are in the millions.

People see larger companies gobble up smaller companies left and right until our free market system has, in some cases, at best the illusion of competition. You have companies out there that are now these giant things with hundreds of faces and hundreds of names all under one ultimate parent company. People see banks and other financial institutions doing the same thing. And because of that, they see the games that are played. And they see more and more the system changing so that almost all the money flows up and less and less flows down.

People see spokesmen for these giant companies, and sometimes politicians who are seeming spokesman for these companies, crying about how horrible our tax system is for them and crying that if only they were taxed less then things would be better. But then everyone can turn around and see that 1) the tax rate on upper incomes and business is at an almost historic low in this country and 2) that most of the companies complaining about these taxes not only end up paying an effective rate of zero come tax time, but that some of them actually have so many loopholes, subsidies and tax breaks to take advantage of that they actually make more money after taxes than before taxes. But we somehow have to change the system to make companies paying next to nothing or actually nothing pay even less while shifting the tax burden down the ladder towards the middle class and lower income earners a little more.

People see companies bring in new CEOs who get paid millions to “fix” a company by slashing the workforce and downsizing overall. This often ends with the company not doing as well as the new CEO said he would make it. It sometimes even ends with the company doing a lot worse. What are the results? More and more often we see the results being even more middle class income earners out of work by the end of the year and a short term CEO leaving for greener pastures along with his going out the door bonus of millions on top of the millions he’s already earned.

People see all these things and see a system where the game is rigged so that, cliché as it reads, the rich get richer and the rest of the people struggle. And people also see the difference in the attitudes of local business owners VS big business heads.

There’s a big difference in the way people view both the business that they themselves built and the community that they built it in VS the way some of the mega-corporation heads view the commodities that they’ve acquired. You still get your share of buttheads at the local level, but most local, small, mom & pop business owners have a sense of pride in what they’ve built. They care about the business that they built and they take an interest in the local community’s welfare because they know that the local community has to be healthy and strong for them to have a customer base for their business.

That’s not there with most corporate heads these days. They didn’t build the businesses they now own. They bought the businesses they now own or they were brought in to run the company after business has bought business has bought business has bought business has eaten up company after company and become a giant machine. And a lot of them don’t view what they now control the way that the people who actually built a business view them. They view them as commodities. They view them as pieces in a game to be moved and shuffled. They view them as ways to make themselves more money in the short-term while not really caring about the vast majority of the workforce they hurt in the pursuit of that short-term profit.

That’s what our system is becoming; a smaller and smaller number of people controlling more and more of the money, the businesses and the politicians. American Capitalism is a system that’s becoming by design a system that funnels money up and creates a greater and greater divide between the wealthy and the lower income earners.

And the people that the protesters are asking to fix the system don’t really care about them either. The list of politicians who have left their life of “public service” behind to go and work for a business or an industry that their years of “public service” benefitted is long and growing longer and contains names from both sides of the isle. They serve the money and the money serves them. They’re not going to fix a system that benefits them and the system can’t be fixed by anyone not in the system to pass the laws, make regulations and enforce these restrictions.

And these people see this and it makes them angry. It also makes them feel a little powerless. So they’ve hit a boiling point and they’re screaming in incoherent anger at giants who really don’t care about the screaming.

Now, while I agree with them to a large degree on some matters, I don’t agree with them that it’s gotten as bad as they say it has just yet. But it’s heading that way fast and the really shitty part of the scenario is that it will not turn away from that path. The horrible truth is that we’ve become a global economy. That’s a great thing for heads of industry. It’s not really a great thing for workers in already industrialized countries.

Businesses are going to continue to seek to maximize their profits. In order to do that, they will continue to seek out the cheapest labor and the places that allow them to cut the most corners. That means finding labor and homes for factories in developing countries where they can spend a fraction of what they would spend in developed countries. So, the system itself makes this protest noteworthy, but it ultimately makes it pointless as well.

And, while I hate to break this to my friends, the thing that more than anything else makes the OWS protest useless is most of the OWS protests and protestors. As I pointed out above, it’s a mess, it’s disorganized and it’s creating a mess almost everywhere it goes. And, as I mentioned way above, the message, the most important part of the whole damned thing, is unfocused and vague.

A movement of this size, even when it has the popular support that it has in general terms with a majority of Americans, cannot succeed when it is as messed up as OWS is. A movement that’s as disorganized, unfocused and messed up as OWS and that is also facing the kind of uphill battle that it’s facing is doubly doomed to failure. And worse than simply failing, this movement is fast giving itself and what few focused individuals in it a massive black eye that will ultimately be used against it if it ever gets its act together as well as being used against any group like it that might actually be a worthwhile movement.

So…

OWS – B+ for intent, C- for effort, but a big fat F as a successful movement.