Be the Killjoy

Be the Kill-Joy


Snowpiercer: A Hollywood Film about the Revolution

An allegory for capitalism?

“The problem with calling the movie an allegory is that allegory doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know, and it hides the thing you didn’t realize it was persuading you of. Allegories are closed ecologies. If Snowpiercer is a movie about capitalism, then we already know what it is, and says, because we already know what we know about capitalism. If you think a death-train of the damned in a post-apocalyptic hellscape is an allegory about capitalism, then it’s because you think capitalism is a death-train of the damned in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. But if everyone knows that the train is an allegory for industrial capitalism—and everybody certainly seems to—then it’s not a secret, and not the kind of allegory Jameson was talking about when he described anti-capitalism as our political unconscious. It’s anything but the kind of unspeakable, repressed truth that we all pretend not to know, even to ourselves; the fact that the train is capitalism is the thing we allow ourselves to talk about because we’re afraid to talk about the real thing it is, which is death, our fear of death, and our desire for the thing we fear. We’re all going to the same place, and we’re all going nowhere at the same time; there is nothing outside of life, nor is it enough. There isn’t a happy ending, just an ending. And so forth.”

“Capitalism’s genius is its ability to co-opt every attempt at resistance; every revolution is engineered within the system, with the permission of the system, according to terms defined by the system. Which is why the exploitative conditions of capitalism–its visceral and mundane horrors–have persisted for so very long: they seem to be driven by a “sacred engine” which will run perfectly forever. ”

‘This last scene suggests that white Westerners are too compromised and complicit with the capitalist system to bring about its downfall–inevitably, they will shore it up as “the lesser evil”. True revolution against capitalism must come from elsewhere. [Yona’s words to Curtis could be the film’s words to America and the West at large: “you’re fucked.”] ”

“We want to be in alliance with, if not a part of, a cultural elite that imagines a world that could be. In some ways, this is a vital gesture. The most powerful social movements have always been accompanied by rich turns in our cultural conversations. Great art makes radical statements about society and makes space for new types of productive labor.

At the same time, these efforts cannot be in the form of reactive criticism. Simply looking down on portions of the black community by using culture to create social distance will only reify the class distinctions that imprison us all.”

“Write it down, girl. Tell everyone how much it hurts. Sharing will make it easier to bear.”
-Terri L. Jewell

How do we become whole — again, or perhaps for the first time — after experiencing traumas that threaten to splinter our souls? How do we collect the shards of our broken selves that have been flung far and wide by the impact of life’s blows? How do we process individual and collective pains that have ripped apart our cores? Where do we find wellness, and to whom, or to what, do we turn when relief seems illusory?

I realized, as I absorbed the words and images shared, just how narrow the bottomless pit between sanity and madness is, how dependent on each other we are — and need to be — in order to shed the avoirdupois that threatens to submerge us in that finite space, and how reading and writing are floatation devices, imbued with the power to prevent us from drowning in that abyss.