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Thread: I, Daniel Blake

  1. #16
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    Reality is a constant scanning pattern. an art which upends that scanning pattern, as i would argue the eruption of African-American music into the mainstream did in the '60s, has an enormous, though unpredictable and unmeasurable political impact

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  3. #17
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    the work of art is a programmed teaching machine. It's a mechanism for shaping sensibility. Well, (Wyndham) Lewis simply extended this private art activity into the corporate activity of the whole society in making environments that basically were artifacts or works of art and that acted as teaching machines upon the whole population.
    the whole quote is interesting. i used to bang on about this when i had a blog.

    source- http://answick.blogspot.co.uk/2010/0...ham-lewis.html

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  5. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannyL View Post
    Was thinking a bit more about this and to be honest, I don't think I can think about I, Daniel Blake without thinking about Corbyn. I'm aware that my antipathy to the film (without having seen it) is a product of my antipathy towards him. My politics seem to have slipped reflexively to the Centre (or Right - which amounts to the same thing) as part of this opposition. I feel a deep dissatisfaction with the narrowness of vision that the film apparently shows - the good old working classes with hearts of gold vs the evil Tories. I might be projecting but I thought I read the same dissatisfaction in the review discussed. I feel that I want to given a new set of tools for thinking, some new insights into the current moment and instead we're stuck in binaries with defined in the 80s...
    I think about 10,600 people on disability/illness benefit died within 6 weeks of being denied benefits - that was before they stopped recording deaths. The individual stories are horrifically tragic. Seems to me that the NHS and education systems are heading the same way.

    Im sure Craner and others may have more insight, but the demonisation and treatment of the good old working classes is unprecedented in scale. Far, far worse than the 80's by all accounts and whilst the narrative (fuck the weak, the poor, the disabled, the sick) is more or less the same - by that measure, the binaries are out of date.

  6. #19

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    Droid - Agree. I think this is why McDuffy's gripe about Blake being too innocent and perfect is almost moot. The spike in suicides by those who had the support they need reduced, and the Murdoch-ed blanket demonisation of the most unfortunate in society are two reasons why any film that addresses austerity sensitively and earnestly is a good thing. So boo-hoo it didn't explore the good, bad and ugly aspects of society under austerity - at least it looked at it. Perhaps tellingly, McDuffy didn't compare Loach's film to any other recent film. It'd be nice to ask him which recent film that tackles a similar issue has a broader scope or more flawed protagonist. I can't think of any. As I keep saying, cinema just doesn't explore this enough anymore. We have a tyranny toffpopstars and poshactors.

    Going back to Thatcherite individualism. I think nothing sums this up more than the obnoxious parking of a luxury car in a disabled bay. I see this all the time.

  7. #20
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    The Selfish Giant maybe? Though the protagonist is a kid, not someone dealing with working life. I really like Clio Barnard's earlier film The Arbour, but that doesn't refer to contemporary events. Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank? Few and far between though. I think it's got to do with the disappearance of class as a subject of discourse -"We are all middle class now" etc.

    Largely in agreement with what you've both posted above though.

  8. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by you View Post

    But, to ask, 'what on Earth would a film that did all this this look like?' goes straight to a major issue. Out of work industry workers, with a visible presence in the dying days of social spaces are/were so much more 'film-able' than the current problems affecting those under 30. How to depict a search for jobs? People no longer knock on doors, they google and email. How do you show that people have many acquaintances but are desperately socially lonely? How do you show the demise of common social spaces? How do you show the trend of people staying at home rather than interacting outside?
    .
    To be fair to it, Daniel Blake does show these things. There's an extended scene where he struggles to register for JSA online. The only socialising going on is in people's houses. Actually, in spite of its flaws, I think Daniel Blake is a very powerful film. The scene at the food bank provoked a mass outburst of tears in the cinema I saw it in, and it didn't feel cheap. (Some moments did, including the ending.)

    I think art can be politically influential. Uncle Tom's Cabin, and of course the work of Dickens. In order to be influential, it seems, the artist has to sacrifice some of their artfulness, and sentimentalise, and be didactic.

  9. #22

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    Haven't seen the film.

    Food banks are problematic, though. Too easy to use as an emotional battering ram, the reality is more complex.

  10. #23

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    I'd better explain that.

    There is one sense in which food banks created a need that wasn't necessarily there: there is a large minority of food bank users for whom it is a way to subsidise chaotic lifestyles and addictions, the people who repeatedly turn up and say, for example, I took out all my ESA money from my bank account and then my wallet got stolen. The food banks are explicitly there for genuine emergencies, not to subsidise lifestyle choices which is why the Trussell Trust try to set limits to how many vouchers and individual can claim in a given time period. This is a difficult thing to do, and food voucher issuers have to put up with a lot of abuse on this score.

    The other important point about food banks not generally understood is that the vast majority of people who genuinely need them are victims of welfare reform measures: those who have had their JSA sanctioned, or Tax Credits stopped due to a fraud investigation for example. One of the major causes was the change to appeal process for ESA claimants who have been found fit for work. Before October 2014 they would continue to receive ESA during the entire appeal process. Now they don't and the only benefit they can receive is JSA which, understandably, they are reluctant to do. They are therefore left with no income for months.

    The point here is that the food banks effectively shield DWP policy from the real consequences of their decisions. Despite the bad press food banks generate, but people generally don't understand (that is, not understanding the specific reasons that benefit claimants can be left with no income at all), it makes the government's reforms easier to manage.

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  12. #24

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    Sorry, most boring post in Dissensus history.

  13. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    Sorry, most boring post in Dissensus history.
    Nope. Your third point. I've said for sometime that in terms of political responsibilities and and actions national charities cushion the very changes they are against and offering help for. This is the irony, as you said, of food banks. They have been a socially driven, altruistic, enabler for the cruel and ideologically driven changes in DWP. I used to go as far as saying that there shouldn't be national charities, because they just shield people from the shortcomings of government. I used to feel that, essentially, I'd rather have some eggs broken before change rather than have people's altruism papering over the cracks -that if people are willing enough to give then surely that impetus could be re-directed to political change. But I'm less sure of this ultra-hard position now. Firstly, I think charity is now more about the giver than any sense of social justice. It is about viewing the suffering of celebrities or enjoying a marathon or overseas jaunt rather than the objects of charity. Also, I think charity is a janus faced form of social conservatism. A way to maintain inequality by small gifts to the less well off rather than risk the messy confrontations of social and political change.

  14. #26
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    Not boring at all. Really useful to know how they operate in tandem with benefits policy.

  15. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    Sorry, most boring post in Dissensus history.
    1 of your best posts imo

  16. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by you View Post
    Nope. Your third point. I've said for sometime that in terms of political responsibilities and and actions national charities cushion the very changes they are against and offering help for. This is the irony, as you said, of food banks. They have been a socially driven, altruistic, enabler for the cruel and ideologically driven changes in DWP. I used to go as far as saying that there shouldn't be national charities, because they just shield people from the shortcomings of government. I used to feel that, essentially, I'd rather have some eggs broken before change rather than have people's altruism papering over the cracks -that if people are willing enough to give then surely that impetus could be re-directed to political change. But I'm less sure of this ultra-hard position now. Firstly, I think charity is now more about the giver than any sense of social justice. It is about viewing the suffering of celebrities or enjoying a marathon or overseas jaunt rather than the objects of charity. Also, I think charity is a janus faced form of social conservatism. A way to maintain inequality by small gifts to the less well off rather than risk the messy confrontations of social and political change.
    There's a lot of truth in this, but I'd add a few things from personal experience of working at charities:
    - It's necessary to distinguish between charities that largely replace services that it is generally accepted that government should provide one way or another, and those charities that provide services that would likely not be provided even by a left-oriented government (obviously what such a government would look actually like is a bit of a matter of conjecture at this stage in history, but...)
    - It's a moot point as to whether, if the full consequences of the government's policies were on full show (for example if food banks didn't exist) this would spur people to action. I think things have to get very bad indeed before any serious political/social change takes place, much worse than they are now, and I don't think people respond rationally to the suffering of others.
    - Following on from that, if charities are performing the work of cushioning people against the effects of government policy, then they should combine this with campaigning for social change. It doesn't have to be a choice between the two. The problem is that many charities are very weak on campaigning (sometimes due to the sources of their funding, but sometimes due to managerial social conservatism as you suggest).
    - I think you're right that charity is often about the giver as well, but hasn't that always been true to an extent? Plus, there's a whole discussion to be had as to how to separate 'genuine' altruism from self-fulfilment through giving.
    Last edited by baboon2004; 08-11-2016 at 07:50 PM.

  17. #29
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    I'd be interested to know your take on how food banks are portrayed in I,DB, craner. The staff of the food bank are portrayed very positively. It's the fact that there NEEDS to be food banks (due to the sanctions you talk about) that is the emotionally harrowing aspect of it. It's the simple acts of kindness in IDB that get the tears flowing. The benefits system is something, in IDB, that is dehumanising for both those claiming benefits and those distributing them.

    The job centre in IDB is portrayed much less sympathetically. There is a baddie woman who insists on following the letter of the law and a goody woman who wants to help people out but is constantly being told off by her boss for going against the rules. My limited experience of the job centre was that most staff I spoke to fell into the 'goody' category. After all, why would you get into that sort of work if you WEREN'T a goody? (Dennis Nielsen excepted.)

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