Monday, January 30, 2012

New When Falls the Coliseum post: Does the city of Los Angeles only care about pornographic film performers, and not the rest of us?

New post over at When Falls the Coliseum, about the city of Los Angeles's requirement that pornographic film performers wear condoms when they make films. A bit:

Kudos to the city council and mayor of Los Angeles, California for exhibiting rare leadership by mandating that pornographic film actors wear condoms when they make their films within the LA city limits.

With just a few strokes of his pen, the mayor has saved literally dozens of lives, probably. Actually, it's probably millions of lives, because now not only will the performers in pornographic films be completely protected from uncovered penises, but the people who watch pornographic films will be reminded of how great condoms are, and they will emulate their pornographic film performer heroes and put them on when they engage in their own coitus.

That is what you call a "win-win."

I'm not going to pretend to know anything about pornographic films, myself. If I tried to talk to you about pornography, I'd come off like Mitt Romney talking about shooting "small varmints, if you will." But I would like to think that seeing James Deen wrap up his p*cker before sticking it into the buttocks of, oh let's say Naomi Russell, would be a welcome development for the pornographic film connoisseur, of which I am not one. Seriously, if you presented me with a lineup of Tori Black, Stoya, Carmen Kinsley, Eve Lawrence, and Jennifer White and told me to tell you which of them was whom, I would probably not be able to tell you, especially if they weren't wearing any makeup. I understand they all look different without makeup.

I don't know who this is.

It's just not my world, you see. As far as I know, the letters "ATM" stand for "Automated Teller Machine," and nothing else. The only "Bang Brothers" I know are Archie and Chester Bang, of the Hampton Bangs. I met them while summering in the Hamptons in my long-ago youth. Oh, the times we had! That special summer I learned the true value of the word "teamwork," when I and Chester and Archie and Bobo and Fritzy and the Jimster all worked together to win the big regatta against an upstart team led by the son of the groundskeeper. I digress.

You can read the rest here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poodle Bitch is saddened by the story of Nick Santino and Rocco

Ever since she first read about the story of Nick Santino and Rocco, Poodle Bitch has felt a mixture of sadness mingled with anger. Mr Santino was a sometime soap opera actor who took his own life shortly after euthanizing his companion Rocco, apparently after intolerable harassment from imperious neighbors.
[I]n 2010, his building at 1 Lincoln Plaza announced strict new dog regulations, including a ban on pit bulls. The ban didn’t apply to pit bulls already in the building, but friends and neighbors said Santino began to be harassed.

“People were complaining about his dog,” said neighbor Kevan Cleary, 63, an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School. “It was open season on him.”

Rocco couldn’t ride in the main elevators and wasn’t allowed to be left in the apartment alone for more than nine hours.

Santino was then threatened with a $250 fine for having a barking dog, neighbors said.

“The dog was not a barker, but somebody complained that the dog would bark,” Cleary said.

There is a breed of human -- the Western petty tyrant -- that Poodle Bitch notes is sadly all too common. The Western petty tyrant believes that s/he has found the one true way in which to live one's life. S/he believes that anyone who is not living his or her life in the manner the Western petty tyrant deems appropriate is abusing him or herself, and must be protected from his or her own bad judgment. The Western petty tyrant believes that s/he is the only person who can protect others from their own bad judgments, and therefore seeks positions of authority -- on condo boards, home owner associations, PTAs, city councils, state legislatures, federal legislatures, governorships and presidencies. Poodle Bitch notes that the mayor of the town in which Mr. Santino and Rocco lived, New York City, is famously dedicated to imposing his own will on others.

The Western petty tyrant often does so in the name of "safety." No doubt that was the stated motivation behind banning one specific type of dog -- the pit bull. Armed with a few exceptional and admittedly appalling stories of attacks by these types of dogs, they claim that their actions are merely for the safety of everyone else around them. These stories appear in newspapers and on television reports that are interested only in reporting what happened during the attack. Very little consideration is paid to how the animal in question was raised, or what kinds of behaviors were reinforced in them.

Most humans don't even realize that "pit bull" is not even a breed of dog. As Radley Balko has pointed out:
These types of breed-specific prohibitions are a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but the most glaring is that the most common target of these laws — the "pit bull" — isn't really a breed at all but rather a generic name given to dogs with with features we've come to associate with a certain type of dog with certain aggressive characteristics. The "pit bull" very generally refers to the American Staffordshire Terrier breed, but can include a number of breeds with similar features, including bull terriers like Rufus, and just about any mutt with traces of bulldog, mastiff, or bloodhound crossed with any breed of terrier.

Mr. Balko pointed Poodle Bitch in the direction of an article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, highlighting research into the temperaments of various dog breeds. What was discovered might surprise the petty tyrants on the condo board at Mr. Santino's and Rocco's former residence:
A Georgia-based group called the American Temperament Test Society has put twenty-five thousand dogs through a ten-part standardized drill designed to assess a dog’s stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness in the company of people. A handler takes a dog on a six-foot lead and judges its reaction to stimuli such as gunshots, an umbrella opening, and a weirdly dressed stranger approaching in a threatening way. Eighty-four per cent of the pit bulls that have been given the test have passed, which ranks pit bulls ahead of beagles, Airedales, bearded collies, and all but one variety of dachshund. “We have tested somewhere around a thousand pit-bull-type dogs,” Carl Herkstroeter, the president of the A.T.T.S., says. “I’ve tested half of them. And of the number I’ve tested I have disqualified one pit bull because of aggressive tendencies. They have done extremely well. They have a good temperament. They are very good with children.” It can even be argued that the same traits that make the pit bull so aggressive toward other dogs are what make it so nice to humans. “There are a lot of pit bulls these days who are licensed therapy dogs,” the writer Vicki Hearne points out. “Their stability and resoluteness make them excellent for work with people who might not like a more bouncy, flibbertigibbet sort of dog. When pit bulls set out to provide comfort, they are as resolute as they are when they fight, but what they are resolute about is being gentle. And, because they are fearless, they can be gentle with anybody.”

Then again, Poodle Bitch notes with some weariness, the Western petty tyrant usually does not care when his assumptions are contradicted by evidence. He will point to the sensational and sad story in the media, pass his restriction, and then move on to the next great alarm, leaving others to deal with the consequences of his actions.

Suicide is an extreme reaction to the harassment and frustration with which Mr. Santino had to deal. Poodle Bitch has no way of knowing how many other issues he was facing. But she does note that Mr. Santino should not have had to deal with the petty tyrants who lived in his building, and targeted him with their bullying tactics.

They are far more dangerous than the pit bulls they banned.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kim Kardashian decided to get a divorce after a session with "psychic" John Edward

Kim Kardashian, who should know better, sunk to brand new depths when she invited psychic pscumbag John Edward to appear on one of her ten (?) television programs. Apparently, he helped her realize that the phoneybaloney marriage she concocted for publicity purposes was breaking her heart. Apparently, I was irritated enough to draw a cartoon about it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The great Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close whitewash conspiracy

I have written extensively about the plague of the ampersand. In general, its presence in a title is a big squiggly warning that the work in question is not worth your time.

In the case of the new film Extremely Loud Ampersand Incredibly Close, this is doubly true. This might very well be the worst film ever made. It is a precious, cloying slog through treacle, designed by cynics to appeal to dullards who fancy themselves "intellectual," who filter their emotions through the prism of artifice as opposed to art. It's the type of corporate art that most people pretend to like because they think they should, and then they congratulate themselves for claiming to like it -- because that somehow proves how sensitive they are.

They feel like they've accomplished something, and they get to spend the rest of the day wrapped in a warm coccoon of moral superiority. All they've done is gone along with the lie.

There is more genuine emotion in the "Two Girls, One Cup" video. The original version of "I Spit on Your Grave" has more sensitivity. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is less insulting toward the audience.

How such a film can be made in our post-Todd Solondz film world, is beyond me. He's already parodied this film at least three times, and satirized the pseudo-emotions behind it.

What makes it so uniquely awful is that there are actually some talented people involved. The director, Stephen Daldry, crafted Billy Elliot, a manipulative in the best possible way film that is genuinely moving. I've seen that film twice and I cried both times I saw it. Of course, he also made The Reader, a morally retarded film about a sensitive Nazi pedophile who learns to read. So there you go.

Tom Hanks is a talented actor. Sandra Bullock is a talented actress. Yes, both have found themselves in bad films, but how could both their judgments been so spectacularly bad?

Extremely Loud Ampersand Incredibly Close is that special work that fails as only the most talented people can fail, when they mistake sentimentality for sentiment. Of course, the ampersand in the title is a fair warning. This movie will be quite awful, it says. Aggressively awful, even. And yet, there has been a concerted effort to keep people in the dark about the ampersand warning that appears in the title of the film. Here are some screenshots taken around the web, in which the ugly, irritating sqiggle is replaced by the much more palatable (and, therefore, dishonest) "a-n-d":

The IMDb page misrepresents the title.

So does the metacritic page.

Even wikipedia doesn't get it right.

What's Box Office magazine, an industry trade publication, trying to hide?

San Francisco Chronicle is also apparently trying protect the film.

That last screenshot, taken from yahoo movies, is perhaps the most interesting. It deliberately misstates the title of the film below a poster on which the title is clearly visible. As if that wasn't bad enough, it features a prominent advertisement for the film, which also features the actual ampersanded title. Clearly, they have a vested financial interest in misleading people about the actual title of this film. How much did the studio behind this film, Warner Bros, pay yahoo to look the other way on that ampersand?

This is clearly a conspiracy to whitewash the ampersand right out of that title, to mislead people about just how goshawful this film really is. When will the people wake up?

Credit where it's due: Stunningly, Rotten Tomatoes is calling it by its true, rotten name.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's not "Liberalism" that's hurting comic book sales -- it's lack of imagination

Over at Bleeding Cool, someone called Darin Wagner thinks he has hit upon the primary reason that comic book sales have been steadily declining. And as it turns out, he has actually hit upon the primary reason that comic book sales have been steadily declining, and he stumbles into it in the second paragraph of his essay:
You pick up a superhero comic book featuring a childhood favorite of yours, hoping to reignite some of that magic you felt way back when and you see that the opening sequence in the comic deals with an oil rig disaster. You immediately and disappointingly know what’s going to be said, either by your childhood favorite or by some other character given credibility within the story. You turn the page, and sure enough, your childhood favorite grumbles about his/her country’s dependency on oil or how inherently dangerous oil drilling is to the environment and how it’s not worth it or simply mutters to him-or-herself briefly about the evils of corporate America. That’s when you put the comic back on the shelf and your local retailer loses a sale. (Sound familiar? Brightest Day #5 contained a similar scenario featuring Aquaman.)
Mr. Wagner claims that it's "Liberalism" that is -- or, per the title of his piece, "may be" -- hurting comic book sales. He claims that it's Aquaman's grumbling about oil drilling and the dangers of said practice that represents the "liberalism" that's turning off readers.

But that isn't it. Re-read Mr. Wagner's description of the opening scene of that particular comic book. This story takes place in a world in which there is a S.T.A.R. Labs. There exist dozens of geniuses in any number of fields. There are dozens of alien devices and elements and magical items to which they have access. Why, in a universe such as this, are they still using oil?

You're telling me that Ray Allen Palmer*, who used "white dwarf star matter" to create a means of shrinking himself to microscopic size couldn't come up with a better, cleaner, more efficient way to power the cars that they drive in the DCU? Doctor Fate can't just magically create a fleet of cars that run on magic stardust, and then create an unlimited supply of magic stardust?

Comic book creators have been resistant to introducing real-world implications into their stories for as long as comics have existed. They could not care less about what would happen to the average person-on-the-street in a world filled with supergeniuses and magical figures. They have ignored the rich storytelling opportunities opened up by exploring what a world of superheroes would really be like. (What would housing look like in a world where you can create structures that are bigger on the inside than outside? What would security be like in a world where people can level entire cities with a thought? Would we all have jet packs? Would we have had them 50 years ago?) What they care about is re-telling the same stories over and over and over and over again, over and over.

But let's say, for the sake of argument, in this DCU in which there are supergeniuses and magicians, they are still drilling for oil in exactly the same manner we do here in the real world (which features a distinct lack of supergeniuses and magicians). The DCU features Atlantis, a continent that fell into the sea following a skull-shaped meteor strike on the earth. Rather than just pick up and move to a continent that hadn't sunk into the sea, the Atlantis scientists instead figured out a way to turn themselves into aquatic mammals that could breathe ocean water, and withstand the intense pressure of the ocean. In this world, the surface dwellers would have to deal with the Atlantisians ("Atlanteans"?) in order to get permission to drill in the oceans in which they live. That opens up an entire new set of potential stories. How do the two groups of people get along? What do the Atlantisians get in return for using their seas in this manner? Could the Atlantisians mine the surface for some power source? Would "radical Atlantisians" throw water bombs at surfacers?

And what would the oil rigs themselves look like? How would Ray Allen Palmer* design one? Would it be made of Nth metal, and therefore indestructible, making oil rig disasters all but impossible?

The creators of mainstream corporate comics today do not care about any of this (and by "creators," I don't just mean the writers and illustrators -- I mean the people who work in licensing, merchandizing, and promotion. they're just as important to the process, if not moreso, as the people doing the actual "creating"). I've said it before, and it's so depressing it bears repeating: Comic books as they exist today are nothing more than advertising pamphlets for movie and television properties. That's all. The people creating them don't care about what's actually going on in them (or if they do, they do a fantastic job of hiding it). They don't care about exploring the implications of the worlds they create. They care about licensing and merchandising.

How little imagination to they exhibit? Here's a page from that same issue referenced by Mr. Wagner in his essay:

Aquaman was dead -- and then came back to life! That's so... typical. But then, on the very next page we get this *cliffhanger* ending:

(Both Brightest Day scans were swiped from the lovely Aquaman Shrine.)

Aquaman has already established -- on the previous page! -- that he's been dead and come back to life, and somehow the fact that someone has been sent to "kill" him is supposed to create breathless tension that will compel us to pick up the next issue.

But it was his wife that was "sent" to "kill" him! Who sent her? Will she actually do it? And if she does do it, how long before he comes back to life yet again? I gotta pick up the next issue!

DC's treatment of Aquaman is so fantastically pathetic, and an object lesson in everything that is wrong with modern comics, that I wrote a long essay about it here. They've made him into a PoMo joke, a commentary on the reaction to the character by people who don't read comics at all, rather than owning him as character with the potential to be the most important and powerful player in the DCU. Over 80% of the world is ocean, and Aquaman rules the ocean, for crying out loud. But what are the creators doing with him?
Heroes will be tweaked and aged down to showcase them not as established titans but as strivers who "have to sweat to fight the bad guys," [Jim] Lee says. For example, Johns' new take on Aquaman -- here THR offers an exclusive sneak peek at pages 5 to 8 of issue No. 1, with art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado -- retools the underwater-breathing hero so he is no longer the king of Atlantis and now plays off his second-banana status.

"Geoff has dived into the grandeur of the character while addressing that he's been a running joke," Lee says. "It's going to have humor and majesty."
If Aquaman were a real, actual, living being, he would be regarded as one of the most amazing people on the planet. I bet you that he would be one of the most -- if not the most -- popular superheroes, if for no other reason than our ever-present worries about climate change. Aquaman would be a fetish figure all over the world.

DC -- or, rather, the "creators" at DC -- don't care about any of that. They're trying to "optimize brand appeal."

In his introduction to his story collection Strange Wine, Harlan Ellison (a sometime comics writer himself) wrote, regarding the dinosaurs,
"They lived 130,000,000 years and vanished. Why? Because they had no imagination. Unlike human beings who have it and use it and build their future rather than merely passing through their lives as if they were spectators. Spectators watching television, one might say."
That is just about the best explanation of what is happening to the mainstream comic book industry today. A bunch of dinosaurs with no imagination, not trying to build a future at all, but continually re-writing the past, and keeping their eyes on television, movies, and video games, where they hope to license the properties they caretake.

And that is what's hurting comic book sales.

*Corrected Jan 13, 2012 @ 8:332 PM PST. Special thanks to "Bruce" for pointing out my error.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

PCMR Hero of the Month for January 2012: Sydney Spies

Sydney Spies is a high school senior from Colorado who is fighting a campaign to express herself through the use of her senior picture. She is being thwarted in this by a group of mewling, timid, bluenosing quislings who "edit" said yearbook.
Durango High School senior who had her yearbook photo yanked has her peers and not the administration to blame, the yearbook’s student editors said Thursday.

“The administration really had nothing to do with it,” said Tevan Trujillo, a student yearbook editor. “It was us.”
The editors – Trujillo, Erin Edblom, Paige Shacklett, Alyssa Spencer and Brian Jaramillo – said they unanimously came to the decision not to run her submitted photo as a senior portrait.
Oh, aren't they just so thoughtful and grown up. Making such an important decision all on their own.

Those editors -- Tevan Trujillo, Erin Edblom, Paige Shacklett, Alyssa Spencer and Brian Jaramillo -- deserve to have scorn and shame heaped upon them. They are ridiculous parodies of our modern, reactionary environment that punishes uniqueness and any self-expression that doesn't fit comfortably into accepted norms. Ms. Spies's photo makes them uncomfortable, and that's enough for them. The Durango High School yearbook apparently doesn't belong to the students -- it belongs to the five delicate little jackasses who currently edit it. Their sensibilities must not be offended.

Or, maybe they're just trying to extort money from someone they don't like. See, it turns out that those brave, important-decision making editors aren't opposed to the photo appearing in their yearbook. They just want Ms. Spies to pay for it:
They said the picture could still run in a section reserved for paid senior advertisements. Those ads usually feature “shout-outs” from friends and family and are located at the back of the yearbook.
So, far from being rock-ribbed fighters for decency and rightness, these little cretins -- Tevan Trujillo, Erin Edblom, Paige Shacklett, Alyssa Spencer and Brian Jaramillo -- are nothing more than cheap thugs blackmailing a fellow student by holding her yearbook picture hostage.

By the way -- here is the photo that has these little darlings of moral rectitude so scandalized:

Really. That is the picture that is at the heart of the first great First Amendment fight of 2012.

How much of a prude do you have to be to find that picture too scandalous for a yearbook? Actually, as I've already said, they don't -- they're just trying to get money out of her. But the little sleazes are trying to take the moral high ground by saying things like,
“We are an award-winning yearbook. We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional.”
That charming bit of self-aggrandizing nonsense was spouted by Brian Jaramillo, who puts his own "wants" above his fellow students'. He's not worried about protecting the other students, or even the school. He wants to protect his yearbook, and is attempting to block something that might take away from his reputation. After all, they might not get a mention at the Durango Colorado Knights of Columbus paper plate award ceremony.

What's really irritating is that this stupid story is just how stupid it is. These editors -- Tevan Trujillo, Erin Edblom, Paige Shacklett, Alyssa Spencer and Brian Jaramillo -- look like moral cretins for attempting this extortion. They are bullies attempting to impose their ideals on fellow students, who aren't people to them, but merely the contents of their "award winning yearbook."

And because they're in charge, they have the power.

The silver lining is that their asinine stunt is backfiring beautifully. Ms. Spies is now famous, at least for awhile. She'll have some doors opened for her because of this (she's already made it to the Today Show!). While Tevan Trujillo, Erin Edblom, Paige Shacklett, Alyssa Spencer and Brian Jaramillo will always be nothing more than the petty little sleazes who feigned moral outrage while trying to extort $300(!) from another student who submitted for publication a photo that could be of any given Disney channel star.

And the editors will have to live with the knowledge that no one who picks up a copy of this thing will be the least bit interested in all the amazing! award winning! work they put into it. Everyone's going to be turning back to Ms. Spies's "senior ad," to see what all the fuss was about. And laughing at them over it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The best movie of 2011: "Attack the Block"

Over at the Thrill Fiction blog, A.Jaye already wrote a very good article about why this movie works so well. Here is a small sample:

In August a police death squad shot and killed Mark Douglas12. Two days later rioting began and spread throughout England. The media response was more savage than the prior student protests13.

12 Since 1969 British police have killed an average one black person every 15 days. No police officer has been charged in over 1000 deaths.

The media have hijacked the riots as a ‘looter’s day out’. They have ignored the evidence of police terrorism and pointed the finger at young as opportunistic criminals. The British public who can’t think for themselves agree.
You should read all of A.Jaye's essay. He's over in England, which is where the film is set, and so has more expertise than I on what is happening in that country. But one of the things that makes "Attack the Block" not just a fun, entertaining science fiction action film is the fact that it uses the tropes of the SF and action film genres to make an important, almost painful statement about the world in which the viewers now live. It's universal. The issues raised in the film are just as relevant and terrifying here in America as they are in England.

The premise is simple: A group of teenagers defend their neighborhood from an alien invasion. But the writer and director Joe Cornish uses this premise to make a powerful statement about the relationship between the police, and the public they're supposed to "serve and protect." About an hour into the film, after the protagonists have been chased by the aliens, who have committed acts of gruesome violence and destruction, the nurse character Sam implores the others to call the police. Moses, the leader of the teens, explains that going to the police for help is not an option for them. He says,
"Know what I reckon? I reckon the feds sent them anyway. Government probably bred those creatures to kill black boys. First they sent drugs to the Ends, then they sent guns. Now they sent monsters to get us. We ain't killing each other fast enough. So they decided to speed up the process."
A little later in the film, some figures are seen emerging from clouds of smoke. The stoner, Brewis, asks, "Is that more of the monsters?" To which Pest replies, "Sort of."

We then see the figures emerging from the smoke are police.

In America, we have been subjected to a War on Drugs which has escalated to the point that there are now more than 150 paramilitary style SWAT team attacks on peoples' homes every day. Millions of Americans have been subjected to illegal "stop and frisk" searches on city streets. A man can be arrested for "evading arrest" after being mistaken for a burglar in his own home. Even if the police have unlawfully detained you, according to the courts you are still required to submit to them. Knowing your rights is regarded as "suspicious behavior" to the police. Instances of police brutality often go unpunished.

These aren't soldiers -- they're police in Texas, posing with assault weapons and a drone.

And now some police forces are using drones -- those same unmanned devices our military is using to kill and maim people in the Middle East -- to keep tabs on the citizens they're allegedly protecting. Of course, the president just signed a bill which declares the entirety of the United States to be a war zone.

Meanwhile, several prosecutors have been caught withholding evidence in criminal cases.

Occasionally there is some pushback to all of this. Like, for instance, the "Stop Snitchin'" campaign. Basically, the idea is to not cooperate with a police force that has come to regard its employers -- the citizens -- as hostile enemies. As we've seen through the years, the police have become less a "peacekeeping" force, and more a "military" force. Yet, here is how CBS news characterized the movement to "stop snitchin'":
In most communities, a person who sees a murder and helps the police put the killer behind bars is called a witness. But in many inner-city neighborhoods in this country that person is called a "snitch."

"Stop snitchin'" is a catchy hip-hop slogan that embodies and encourages this attitude. You can find it on everything from rap music videos to clothing. "Stop snitchin'" once meant "don't tell on others if you're caught committing a crime."

But as CNN's Anderson Cooper reports for 60 Minutes, it has come to mean something much more dangerous: "don't cooperate with the police – no matter who you are."

As a result, police say, witnesses are not coming forward. Murders are going unsolved.
Anderson Cooper, the affluent, famous CNN anchor and daytime talk show host, is consistently shocked that people would have such an attitude. That is because his interactions with the police have been few and pleasant. Has he ever been stopped and frisked? Has his home ever been broken into by a SWAT team carrying assault rifles to serve a warrant to search for marijuana?

There is no attempt made to understand why it is that the "stop snitchin'" campaign might resonate with some people. But if every day of your life you are regarded as an enemy by the police, if you're constantly being stopped and frisked, if you're expected to submit to them regardless of the legality of their request, and you have no power at all to stop any of their potential abuses of power, then why would you trust them to help you under any circumstances?

Even, in the case of "Attack the Block," an alien invasion.

This hostility has led to suspicion all around. It's why the ideas that the CIA engineered AIDS, or that it introduced crack into low income neighborhoods to keep the residents there addicted and helpless have been able to gain so much traction. Again: If your everyday interactions with the government -- which is supposed to work for you (of the people, by the people, for the people) -- are marked by open hostility, why, then, would you trust that government to do anything in your best interest?

"Attack the Block" is a serious film about the consequences of more than 30 years of escalating tension between the police and the citizens they are supposed to be protecting. It uses the old science fiction alien invasion trope as a metaphor for the deterioration of relations between citizens and the government. In a life-threatening crisis, the people would rather try to fend for themselves than add to their troubles by going to the police for help. "Attack the Block" is entertaining, funny, exciting, and a bleak reflection of the world in which we now live. It asks us to examine the impact of the actions that the government is taking in the name of "protecting" us. Some of us, anyway. And to understand why it is that some of us feel so alienated from the government that we feel we can't go to them for help under any circumstances.

UPDATE @ 7:25 PST: Here is a graphic representation of the cavalier attitude that too many people in law enforcement have toward the use of deadly violence against the people they're sworn to protect:

Via Radley Balko's Agitator website, where he notes,
The glib sloganeering about how they apply violence is bad enough. But note that they chose the word use, instead of sell or deal.

Soldier police with drone picture source.