Thursday, April 8, 2010

Betting on Hollywood

If there is any teeny-tiny semblance of art and healthy human expression in today's outcrop of Hollywood movies, then that teeny-tiny semblance will more than likely wither completely away in the not-too-distant future. According to a recent NY Times article, a company named Cantor Exchange is trying to open "an online futures market" that will allow studios, institutions and moviegoers to place bets on how well a Hollywood movie does at the box office.

In simple terms, this means anybody who has some money to play around with can place a bet on how well a Hollywood movie will do during its few first weeks in theaters. You can either bet on it doing well, or against it. Contracts will trade at $1 for every one million that the movie brings in.

"So if 'Robin Hood' is expected to bring in $100 million in its opening weeks, a single contract could be bought for $100 by a trader who thinks Russell Crowe’s role in the movie will drive sales far above expectations. If that trader guesses right, and the movie sells $150 million in tickets, the trader makes $50."
In the case of the studios, company profits can be further maximized by betting on one of their movies that they think will perform well at the box office while losses can be minimized by betting against one of their movies that they think will flop. And, according to Cantor, there will be no "conflicts of interest" within the studios because the market will supposedly be designed in a way so that a studio would never be able to make more money by purposely making a bad movie and then betting against it. Cantor insists that there will always be an incentive for the studios to make a good movie; good, of course, meaning financially successful.

Now, if this all sounds confusing to you, you're not alone. Most of this is Wall Street talk, which is all about 'derivatives' and 'contracts' and other jargon that is meant to be complicated to understand for anybody who has a soul. The fact of the matter is that the "future" of a Hollywood movie is being turned into a kind of game that inevitably makes people more concerned about the financial success of a movie than what the movie is actually about (i.e. the artistic success), the ramifications of which are detrimental to both Hollywood and society as a whole.

With this new futures market, a movie is essentially only as good as how much money it makes on its opening weekend, which has always been the way things were in Hollywood, though Cantor's new market only exacerbates the situation. This is basically the last slap in the face of any filmmaker out there who is trying to make a meaningful movie and get it out to a large audience. All attention to meaning and substance and emotion and truth and personal expression in a film is replaced by razzles and dazzles, things like sex and violence and action and corny gags that will thrill an audience upon an initial viewing and therefore boost initial box-office profits. The hare-film (one that is instantaneously successful) essentially replaces the tortoise-film (one that proves to be successful over a longer period of time). In fact, the tortoise is never even given a chance to win; it never even gets a number in the race.

Of course, this is all fine and swell as long as Hollywood can come to admit that all it does is squeeze out commodities that exist for the sole purpose of making money. But they never come out and actually say this. They still have their prestigious Academy Awards ceremonies where they all pat each other on the back for their "artistic excellence" and try to convince middle America that their films have significant artistic value. For some reason, Hollywood-types have always attempted to convince themselves and others that they are artists (when they're technically businessmen). In other words, they have always tried to claim the word "art" as their own. This is probably because - deep down - they feel guilty about making crap for the purpose of getting rich and achieving fame. They know that financial achievement and artistic achievement - by nature - rarely come in the same package. But they don't like this harsh reality. So they go and basically try to change reality.

And, perhaps, some day they will succeed. After all, if everybody starts believing that what Hollywood makes is art and true art becomes extinct, then the commodity that is a Hollywood film will, indeed, become the only kind of art we know. Commerce will BE art, and even if this isn't a truth in actual reality, what's important is that it will be a truth in our reality; or, our unreality - whichever way you want to look at it.

For your reference, here are the NY TIMES articles alluded to in this blog:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The New World Order

According to an article in today's Boston Globe (click HERE to read), the "Global Community" has committed to pay $5.3 billion over a two-year period to help rebuild Haiti after its disastrous earthquake. The US alone has pledged $1.5 billion. Although a relief effort such as this one always looks philanthropic and generally benevolent on paper, it is important for us to think about where this money is actually coming from and what the use of this money will mean in a place like Haiti, especially in terms of the nation's sovereignty.

According to the Haiti Recovery Commission (led by the Clintons and spawned by the UN), the intent of the relief effort is to not only rebuild Haiti, but to also "transform" it. At first glance, this seems to make sense; after all, simply reconstructing what Haiti had before the earthquake would be stupid because another earthquake could come along and destroy everything all over again. Surely Haiti has to be built in a more intelligent, earthquake-proof manner than it was before. However, I fear that when the UN says it wants to "transform" Haiti what it really means is that it wants to "modernize" Haiti, which basically means "westernize". In other words, the UN's intention - whether it be on a conscious or subconscious level - is to turn Haiti into a like-country, a western entity. They essentially want to conquer Haiti as one of their own.

Of course, the word "conquer" may sound a tad extreme here, and perhaps it is. And let me just say that I don't think the United Nations and the Clintons have evil, imperialistic intentions when it comes to their Haitian relief effort. These people obviously mean well, but I don't think they understand what they will inevitably be doing if they allow Western money to be used for rebuilding Haiti, unless the money comes with no strings attached, which I highly doubt that it will.

According to the Globe's article, much of the money for the reconstruction effort is going to be coming from "countries, development banks and nongovernmental groups for years to come." Vague in its description of these sources, it's probable that some of the so-called "nongovernmental groups" the article is referring to are wealthy corporations that will unavoidably view the rebuilding of Haiti as a way to make a profit, much like Halliburton, Lockheed Martin and Blackwater did when it came to rebuilding Iraq. Hopefully these companies will be closely watch-dogged and won't display the kind of blatant profiteering that they did in Iraq, but when you're dealing with a corporate entity that thinks solely in terms of its bottom line, it's almost assumed that they will exploit the Haitian situation, at least to some degree.

But even if this kind of profiteering doesn't take place in Haiti, one thing is for certain: the money being funneled into the relief effort will be corporate money, and as long as corporate money is used to rebuild Haiti, the corporate West will ultimately end up having an invested interest in the country, which means - to some extent - that Haiti will ultimately be under the influence of Western corporate power. This, of course, is a serious threat to the nation's sovereignty, not to mention its culture and overall way of life.

Additionally, there are the so-called "development banks" that the Globe article refers to as another source of the reconstruction funds. The article is, again, vague when it comes to describing these banks, but it does say in a later paragraph that the relief commission "will work with a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank". Whenever the World Bank is involved with a relief effort, one should immediately grow leery of the entire situation.

The World Bank, if you're not familiar, is an organization headquartered in Washington whose purpose is, according to its website, to "provide low-interest loans, interest-free credits and grants to developing countries for a wide array of purposes." On the surface, the World Bank seems to have philanthropic intentions, but over the years the Bank has developed a very shady reputation. Several conspiracy theorists have accused the Bank of having an imperialistic agenda, that their purpose is not to help developing countries but to ultimately take control of them. Or, to put it another way, the Bank's intention is world domination.

Now, associating the World Bank with world domination may seem a tad extreme as well, but it really isn't far off the mark if you think about it. Like many of the banks of today (especially the ones that triggered the U.S. financial crisis), the World Bank essentially acts as a mafia-like entity that goes into a poor, vulnerable country like Haiti, hands out a loan that they basically know the country probably won't be able to pay back and gradually seizes control of property, assets and - ultimately - the entire country. Haiti ultimately loses its sovereignty and unavoidably becomes part of the Western World. It's a subtle form of Western imperialism.

And it's not just in Haiti or other natural-disaster areas where this imperialism is likely to occur; it's actually happening in the entire third world...mainly under the guise of a little something called the Global Warming initiative. Over the years, the World Bank has been the most vocal organization when it comes to warning the world about Global Warming, insisting that third world countries will be hit the hardest by the impending disaster:

"[Global Warming's] effects—higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, and more frequent weather-related disasters—pose risks for agriculture, food, and water supplies. At stake are recent gains in the fight against poverty, hunger and disease, and the lives and livelihoods of billions of people in developing countries."
-- World Bank Website
The Bank's overall plan is to "assist" these countries in preparing for the potentially catastrophic ramifications of the rising global temperatures. But when they say they want to "assist" these countries what they really want to do is hand loans out to them, loans that will (supposedly) help the countries protect themselves from Global Warming's effects, but that will also make the third world be forever indebted to the first world...basically to the extent that the entire third world will ultimately be empowered by the World Bank. The ultimate consequence is that the Western World becomes the only world.

Incidentally, several conspiracy theorists suggest that Global Warming isn't even a real issue, but a myth manufactured by the World Bank to use as an excuse to take over third world countries. In an episode of his show "Conspiracy Theory", former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura interviewed several reputable scientists that not only refute the Global Warming issue but actually claim annual temperatures are decreasing instead of increasing. Solidifying these claims is a scandal that was revealed a couple years back where scientists working in close association with the World Bank were caught "cooking" annual temperature reports, showing that temperatures were rising when all scientific data proved they were dropping. Obviously a report that disproved Global Warming's existence would undermine the World Bank's agenda, so the scientists were coerced into fibbing the reports. (To read about this scandal, click HERE.)

The World Bank, however, is not - in and of itself - as evil an entity as I'm probably making it out to be; it's basically a front for a much shadier organization that not a whole lot of people know about, as it tries to keep a very low profile. The president of the World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick, happens to be a member of an elitist group called The Bilderberg Group, which is a free-mason-like secret society that has been convening behind closed doors for years now. Comprised of the world's super-rich elite, the Bilderberg group has made it known for quite some time now that its overall intention is to create one world government run by its elite members. According to David Rockefeller (one of the most notable Bilderberg members), the purpose of creating this kind of government is so that the world will never again "know war, but only peace and prosperity for the whole of humanity. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in the past centuries" (Cook). In other words, Rockefeller prefers a common government where bankers and so-called "intellectuals" (i.e. those who are smart about getting rich) run the world instead of a diverse mix of sovereign nations with different cultures and values influencing their lives. Rockefeller's World is a corporatist world, one with an unregulated free-market system designed to make the rich (bankers, 'intellectuals' et al.) richer and the poor poorer. Just like what's already happening in America, the "middle class" will ultimately be eliminated and there will be nothing but a super-rich class of elitists who possess all power over billions of powerless peasants. This will be the "New World Order", to use a term coined by George Bush Sr., whom - incidentally - is also a member of the Bilderberg Group.

So, yes, the Bilderberg Group and its front the World Bank don't make a secret of their intention to dominate the world, though they tend to disguise their agenda with a philanthropic facade. As Rockefeller explained, they're doing it all in the name of "peace", although they're apparently ignoring the fact that their actions are yielding everything BUT peaceful ramifications.

In his revealing article "Is an International financial conspiracy driving World Events?", Richard C. Cook (former U.S. federal government analyst) delineates the many negative side-effects that have been spawned by the Bilderberg agenda over the years, most of which came as a result of the Clinton and W. Bush administrations (Clinton and Bush are both Bilderberg members). Using Cook's own words, I will list just some of these effects:

  • NAFTA has led to the elimination of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs as well as the destruction of U.S. family farming in favor of global agribusiness.
  • Similar free trade agreements, including those under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, have led to export of millions of additional manufacturing jobs to China and elsewhere.
  • Average family income in the U.S. has steadily eroded while the share of the nation’s wealth held by the richest income brackets has soared. Some Wall Street hedge fund managers are making $1 billion a year while the number of homeless, including war veterans, pushes a million.
  • The fact that bankers now control national monetary systems in their entirety, under laws where money is introduced only through lending at interest, has resulted in a massive debt pyramid that is teetering on collapse. This "monetarist" system was pioneered by Rockefeller-family funded economists at the University of Chicago. The rub is that when the pyramid comes down and everyone goes bankrupt the banks which have been creating money "out of thin air" will then be able to seize valuable assets for pennies on the dollar, as J.P. Morgan Chase is preparing to do with the businesses owned by Carlyle Capital. Meaningful regulation of the financial industry has been abandoned by government, and any politician that stands in the way, such as Eliot Spitzer, is destroyed.
  • The destruction of family farming in the U.S. by NAFTA (along with family farming in Mexico and Canada) has been mirrored by policies toward other nations on the part of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Around the world, due to pressure from the "Washington consensus," local food self-sufficiency has been replaced by raising of crops primarily for export. Migration off the land has fed the population of huge slums around the cities of underdeveloped countries.
  • The expansion of the U.S. military empire abroad is mirrored by the creation of a totalitarian system of surveillance at home, whereby the activities of private citizens are spied upon and tracked by technology and systems which have been put into place under the heading of the "War on Terror." Human microchip implants for tracking purposes are starting to be used. The military-industrial complex has become the nation’s largest and most successful industry with tens of thousands of planners engaged in devising new and better ways, both overt and covert, to destroy both foreign and domestic "enemies."
  • Finally, the deteriorating conditions of everyday life have given rise to an extraordinary level of stress-related disease, as well as epidemic alcohol and drug addiction. Governments themselves around the world engage in drug trafficking. Instead of working to lower stress levels, public policy is skewed in favor of an enormous prescription drug industry that grows rich off the declining level of health through treatment of symptoms rather than causes. Many of these heavily-advertised medications themselves have devastating side-effects.
  • This list should at least give us enough to go on in order to ask a hard question. Assuming again that all these things are parts of the elitist plan which Mr. Rockefeller boasts to have been developing, isn’t it a little strange that the means which have been selected to achieve "peace and prosperity for the whole of humanity" involve so much violence, deception, oppression, exploitation, graft, and theft?
(To read the complete Cook article go to this link:

I feel that Cook's last point listed above is the most important: I mean, isn't it true that all the violence and wars and starvation and corruption and exploitation we see in the world today defeat the purpose of the elitists' self-proclaimed "peaceful" intentions? Maybe guys like Rockefeller and Zoellick and Clinton and Bush are ignorant of the fact that their actions are causing so much destruction. Or maybe they feel that the world needs to get worse before it gets better, which is basically how George W. Bush justified the chaos in Iraq that erupted after the United States invaded the country to create a democratic nation of peace.

The fact of the matter is that world peace will not be the end result of the Bilderberg's agenda, no matter which way you look at it. Not only will sovereignty and diversity and culture die, but the world will become an extremely poor, depressing and unhappy place where a small minority of privileged rich people rule over billions of powerless peasants. Democracy and liberty and overall freedom will end. Opportunity won't exist. We will be slaves without options.

Taking all of the above into consideration, it's important to realize that I'm not suggesting we adopt a non-interventionist stance when it comes to helping Haiti or other countries in the third world; a place like Haiti obviously needs our help and our money after such a devastating earthquake. However, I feel that when we help Haiti it's our human responsibility to respect the country's sovereignty, culture and overall way of life. If we truly want to be philanthropic, then we will give them the money they need with no strings attached. This means no subcontracting out the reconstruction efforts to private, profiteering corporations (like what was done in Iraq); no handing out loans with interests that make these nations indebted to the West; no seizing of property/assets after loans aren't repaid; no imposing of our Western way (i.e. the corporate way) on the Haitian way of life.

In short, we truly need to donate the money to Haiti and not see the devastated land as something we can exploit or invest in or ultimately take control of. This is what true charity would be. It would be the most human thing to do. It would be in the best interest of all parties involved. Ultimately, the world would be a better place.