“I Like Being Dead” | Patrons-only Patreon post

I’ve written another piece of film criticism! It’s similar to my salty and popular piece on the poisonous heterosexuality in The Phantom Thread. But this one’s on Alfonso Cuarón’s latest, and it’s called “I Like Being Dead”: making class beautiful in Roma.

I’m experimentally keeping it exclusive to patrons on my patreon.

So this is where you can read it, for as little as $1.

Here’s a teaser trailer for it:
Decades ago, a white settler, Alfonso Cuarón, promised a colonized indigenous Mixtec woman from Oaxaca, Liboria Rodríguez, that he would take her on an airplane; that he would give her the world. Now, in 2019, the media are beaming that this promise has been made good. The elderly Rodríguez has been given occasion to travel. She’s been interviewed, she’s been invited to premieres, she’s been on set with the great Alfonso Cuarón. Why? Because the tantrum-prone boy whose ass she wiped professionally every day in Mexico City has released an internationally acclaimed film depicting, of all things… her!—at least, depicting her labor in the bourgeois household he grew up it—or, more accurately, depicting a slice of that labor as an exercise in perspectival reversal, which the great auteur decided to render central to his gorgeous black-and-white cinematic childhood memoir.
.
Leaving the Dirty War raging largely off-stage, Roma (2018) chronicles a temporal sequence in 1970 and 1971 in which Rodríguez was even more instrumental than usual to her employers, in that her practically ceaseless work enabled all her charges to survive the father’s abandonment of the household in favour of a mistress and, in particular, allowed his wife, Cuarón’s mother, to reinvent herself—to have a narrative arc. In contrast, the woman Cuarón purports the film is really about does not get a narrative arc. Certainly, a man abandons her, too. A slum-dwelling martial arts fanatic called Fermín gets her pregnant, then threatens to kill her if she tries to involve him in the baby’s life. He later turns out to belong to the elite death squad responsible for the deaths of communist students: Los Halcones (whom the film represents as getting training not only from the CIA but from the “Mexican Houdini” and muscle man, “Professor Zovek”). This is presumably why the lady of the house (“Señora Sofía”) has a drunken lapse in which she imagines her maid (“Cleo”—Rodríguez—played by the first-time actor Yalitza Aparicio) will extend some kind of sisterly solidarity to her when she is ditched by her moneyed husband, a professor of a different kind. “No matter what they tell you,”  Sofia slurs to Cleo, “women, we are always alone.” 
.
Bullshit.
.
…read more here.
lead_720_405

Article at The New Socialist

“Labour does you”: Might thinking through pregnancy as work help us radicalise the politics of care?

I’ve never known anyone to disagree with the old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Yet this general approval of the distributed, collaborative character of the work of parenting does not frequently carry over—for some reason—to the question of making a baby. In my forthcoming book Full Surrogacy Now, I look at the gestational surrogacy industry politically and think speculatively about how to abolish actually-existing pregnancy (both waged and unwaged) as a form of capitalist work. I defend the utopian position that infants don’t belong to anybody but, rather, belong to everybody: they will belong only to themselves, in the phrase of the Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers. Nothing new, then: feminists and queers have mounted uncompromising assaults on the institution of the family for well over a century. However, wherever I’ve presented it, I’ve noticed that this call for family abolition, which I root in the Black-lesbian Marxist-feminist critique of kinship and the gender binary, appears rather contentious. It seems my proposition that the complicatedness of pregnancy itself might be a useful heuristic for complicating the politics of ‘care’ (and replacing kinship with comradeliness is, for some, a tough one to swallow. Why is this? Why, in other words, is a blog-post entitled ‘Gestators of all Genders, Unite!’ or the statement ‘The gender of gestating is ambiguous’ still guaranteed to scandalise not only Angela Nagle, but most cisgender feminists? These are some of the questions I want to persuade you it is important for anti-capitalists to pose.

Read the rest of this piece at The New Socialist, where it was commissioned by the most excellent Josie Moore (@ofthesparrows), who happens to be the author of this piece I found very rewarding, on journalist Andrew O’Hagan’s appalling book-length coverage for the LRB of the mass murder that was Grenfell Tower.

The editors at The New Socialist even generously included me in the Editors’ Selection for 2018. I’m in illustrious and radical company there, so check it out.