previously a Community and Arts section writer
Jack Brindelli (@JackBrindelli) is a radical writer and film-maker bred and born in Norfolk, and is a University of East Anglia graduate.
(19.07.17) – George of the Dead: The Radical Cinema of George A. Romero
George A. Romero passed away in his sleep on 16th of June 2017, after a short battle with cancer, at the age of 77. Over a long, incredible career spanning five decades, Romero rightly earned his reputation as a, perhaps the, Master of Horror.
Through films like bio-weapon conspiracy The Crazies (1973) and Martin (1978) – a film where a young man whom today’s media would undoubtedly call a ‘disturbed loner’ indulged his patriarchal privilege, through vampiric acts of sexual violence – Romero drew out the political unconscious that underpins so much of our societal mythology. While he did branch out however, he devoted the majority of his best years to the sub-genre which made his career, and which will undoubtedly see him immortalised.
(29.03.17) – Beyond Thunderdome: Forecasting the Apocalypse Through Wrestlemania 33
Spring 2017 – America and the world suddenly seem to teeter on the brink of self-destruction. Suddenly that isn’t hyperbole, or premonition, that is our day-to-day reality. After handing a Conservative majority government the keys to Brexit, US voters rose to the challenge of out-doing British stupidity in spectacular fashion, electing a Cyril Sneer impersonator as their Commander in Chief. Who saw that coming? Well, everyone knows I love telling people I told them so – and last year I did tell you so. One year on, I’m back in the Norwich Radical to continue my own personal streak. The signs were all there to be read, if you knew where to look – and well, if you don’t know where that is, let me spell it out for you! As WrestleMania goes, so goes the nation.
(16.07.16) – A Culture of Resistance: Fighting for Radical Art in Increasingly Gentrified Norwich
As the dust continues to settle on soon to be post-EU Britain, I’ve been thinking a lot about the place I call home. Norwich has been my city for quarter of a century now, and as my Granny says of such milestones, “You get less time for murder.” Norwich is infamously disconnected from the world, with visiting football fans often singing “there’s only one road in Norfolk” to Guantanamera at Carrow Road – and as much as it pains me to admit it, the isolation is a real problem.
The fact we’re so cut off from outsiders rubs off on our city’s attitudes towards culture in particular – with a quintessentially Little England village-mentality that boasts of being an UNESCO City of Literature in a town perpetually threatening its libraries with cuts, and renders us fiercely defensive of our ‘doing different’ status-quo, who year on year wheel out the same tired Lord Mayor’s procession, Castle firework display, and cover-band music festival, while remaining collectively suspicious, and sometimes even hostile to new ideas.
(16.12.15) – How Do You Stop a War That Has Already Started?
“More than 1,000 people have taken part in a rally in central London to protest against the Government’s decision to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.” That was how Sky News began their coverage of the latest Stop the War march on the 13th of December. Now I appreciate Sky have form when it comes to underestimating demonstrations, but a demo that can’t have been larger than 3000 gave them ample to chance to do so this time. Even so, the grandiose phrasing seems almost to pity what is a comatose giant of an organisation. Let’s just go over that again; “More than 1,000 people” from an organisation that once boasted a mobilisation of more than a million.
(02.12.15) – Uniting the Fights
The world is in turmoil at home and abroad, and with rows over the savage autumn budget, and the ominously impending vote to bomb Syria, still taking up the majority of campaigners energies, it is easy for good news to fall through the cracks. Still, when a victory, or even a temporary stay of execution, is won, it is important not only to enjoy the moment, but also to ask why. This week the Junior Doctors stopped the government in their tracks, and goodness knows we could all use a formula for that.
(18.11.15) – The Spectre of Ideology
In the years following the Second World War, Britain had shifted in ways many thought impossible. In the 1950s, amidst the fading colonial legacy of a crumbling empire, with increasing levels of immigration and the decreased faith in the power of the free market led, the country’s middle class felt stranded. These revolutionary changes in the country’s fabric radically challenged the ideas they had been raised to adhere to in the name of success. Middle England was holding out for a hero – and boy did Ian Fleming’s gin-swilling womaniser give them one.
James Bond is a cultural artefact – an ideological snap-shot, emerging initially as the embodiment of the established order, in order to defend it. Such was the archetypal appeal of the character, and so in tune was he to the fears of the middle class, that he soon moved seamlessly between mediums. In a world where Britain’s influence seemed to be waning, and where marginalised races and genders were pushing for equality, Bond showed Middle England could still have it all – no wonder he’s cited as being David Cameron’s inspiration for foreign policy, 007 is a conservative’s wet-dream.
(27.10.15) – Film: The Wretched of the Earth
Should we fear the walking dead?
(28.08.15) – The NME Within
With the formerly radical New Musical Express projected to become a free hand-out for corporate partners like Top Shop, former writer Paul Wellings talks Rock Against Racism, Jeremy Corbyn and Monty Python with Jack Brindelli and the Norwich Radical.
(14.08.15) – Dream Machines
‘Popular culture moves in mysterious ways. For years it can seem like a particular trope or sub-genre has died off before bursting from its suspended animation and illuminating our screens once more. For years it appeared vampires and zombies had been permanently banished to the cinematic shadows before rising triumphant from their cultural tomb, terrifying new generations of cinema-goers at the turn of the century. Similarly, in 2015, the robot seems to be undergoing something of a resurrection. For the past decade considered clunky and kitsch, Artificial Intelligence has suddenly monopolised the top-billed releases of the year – droids are back in the big-time. The question is why?’
(29.07.15) – A Cinema Worth Fighting For
‘The Norfolk People’s Assembly have voted in co-operation with the Norwich Radical to establish a local Radical Film Festival, with the inaugural festival expected to be hosted in February 2015. As we begin to make provisions for that though, we need ideas, practical and fantastic and everything in between. The first organising meeting for the festival will take place on Saturday the 1st of August, at 3pm in the Playhouse Bar’s Playroom, and is completely open to the public. But why does a cultural project like this even matter in the depths of Austerity? Can we really be wasting our time on building imaginary worlds when our real one is under such threat?’
(15.07.15) – Re-imagining Norfolk: An Ideologically Motivated Mugging
‘On Monday the 20th of July the Norfolk County Council will meet for their Policy and Resources committee to begin working towards the forecast cuts of £169million to local services. It is a shameful capitulation to the national austerity policies that are destroying People’s lives across the United Kingdom.’
(01.07.15) – The Strength of the Vulnerable
‘“I was taken aback at how brutal the police were,” begins Marion Fallon, a local anti-cuts activist from Norwich, and eye-witness to the events of Wednesday June 24th. “To attack such physically less able people, to protect the elite, really showed how democracy isn’t working. I don’t suppose it occurred to [the police], that disabled people are feeling they have to take more and more drastic measures, as we’re not being listened to and not being treated fairly and equally. I feel very, very worried and scared going forward as the Tories have taken us back decades in what was fought very hard for.”’
(18.06.15) – Welcome to Night Vale
‘Let’s get something perfectly straight. The proponents of 21st century capitalism do not want to be your friend. As much as the likes of Starbucks and Apple might wax lyrical about fair-trade, rainforest friendly, organic, aspirational community funds,, they are not interested in improving your living standards, and they don’t care if you dream big, or live with dignity. They have only one true desire; —they want to bleed you like a stuck pig until your veins run dry, and their cups overflow with crimson cascades of our life-force. Metaphorically… more or less.’
(03.06.15) – The Fightback Started Here
‘To say May was a difficult month to be a radical would be something of an understatement. In the fallout of a general election result that cannot be described as anything other than catastrophic, it was difficult to salvage much in the way of hope for the coming 5 years of Conservative majority rule. If you thought the Coalition years were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This time out, David Cameron’s stinking band of free-market extremists aren’t so much promising to cut down to the bone, as breaking out their probably-not-even-metaphorical bone saws in preparation for an amputation.’
(24.05.15) – Rally Against Austerity Norwich
‘At 12 noon on the 30th of May, hundreds of ordinary people will gather in Norwich’s Haymarket, as the Norfolk People’s Assembly hosts the local wing of a national day of action against the new Conservative majority government, after the general election earlier this month.’
(22.04.15) – The Masque of Apathy
‘Last week, legendary British director Mike Leigh announced his next film project was to be a dramatisation of the events surrounding the Peterloo Massacre. Leigh reportedly plans to begin in 2017, two years before the massacre’s second centenary, and cited its “universal political significance” as to why it was such an important story to re-tell now. That universal significance, the political mainstream would have you believe, was as a fable to remind us of the importance of using our right to vote. People died fighting for your vote after all.’
(08.04.15) – Common People
‘May 2015 is a landmark in modern British culture, and it just so happens to coincide with a general election where, more and more, being seen as ‘one of us’ is adjudged more important than actually helping us. Next month, it will have two whole decades since the original release of Pulp’s tragically timeless ‘Common People’. The song — which is broadly recognised as one of the defining anthems of Britpop, reached number 2 in the charts 20 years ago — was kept from the supposedly prestigious top spot by the caterwauling Robson-and-bloody-Jerome.’
(25.03.15) – I am become the eater of worlds: Bray Wyatt, Undertaker, and the American Nightmare
‘Wrestlemania is here – and I have a challenge for you. I dare you to watch. I literally dare you. Yes, that’s right, WWE, ‘make-believe fighting’ if you really must label it that, where grown men and women play-fight on television for the entertainment of billions worldwide. “But Jack,” I hear you cry, “You’re a culture writer for the Norwich Radical! Surely you know better than to revel in such uncultured pastimes?!”’
(12.03.15) – Unite and Fight: Why We Must Back Hewett
‘4 years ago, the late, great socialist icon that is Tony Benn addressed the Burston Rally in rural Norfolk. The rally is an annual event to commemorate “the longest strike in history”, where Tom and Annie Higdon defied the local authorities to open a ‘strike school’, after being sacked for agitating for better study and work conditions. They stood alongside 66 of their 72 students and their parents, and hand in hand with the community against their unfair dismissal – and they won. And at that year’s rally, Tony drew one vital lesson from that past struggle for those facing the inhuman austerity cuts of this decade — “Tie your ropes together.”’
(26.02.15) – Fever Pitch: Football Can Be A Force For Radical Change, Rather Than A Hindrance
‘This, my latest contribution to the Norwich Radical, was all but written an hour before I finally submitted it. My sermon on the overlooked politics of football fandom was signed sealed and on the brink of being delivered. I already had plenty to talk about. It’s been a long month of big themes in the footballing world. Over the course of February, the Beautiful Game has been at the centre of almost every kind of debate there is to be had — and it has popularised these debates in a way that most of us laptop radicals could only dream of.’
(11.02.15) – Valentine’s and Zombies: A Political Reflection
‘It is Valentine’s week – apparently that’s a thing now – a time of saccharine sweetness, hollow gestures, and empty consumerism in place of romance. In-keeping with the seasonal spirit, then, I want to talk to you today about hearts that long ceased to beat; about a festering horde of blank-faced ghouls, hungering to sink their teeth into human flesh. No, not the populace of shag-app Tinder. Today I am talking about actual zombies.’
(28.01.15) – Mass Debate: Debunking the Importance of the TV Debates
‘The television debates are actually a trilogy of the most tedious, trivial events in the course of the UK general election. And I don’t say that lightly. They are a nuisance water-cooler moment at best, where bearded wastrels can gather on Twitter to discuss what a large forehead David Cameron has, or whether Nick Clegg’s shirt is saffron, or more of a dog-vomit yellow. And yet, nobody believes me — and as we begin the ominous countdown to polling day in May, they have become one of the biggest talking points in British political culture. But surely the events of the past few months regarding the Greens prove my point?’
(14.01.15) – Must Not Mock: Paris and the Failure of ‘Satire’
‘In the fallout of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, there are so many avenues of investigation that require a spectrum of analysis – and in due course the tragedy will no doubt be discussed from every angle, and in excruciating detail. Over the past week, there has been comparatively little debate on the idea supposedly central to the Parisian publication itself though – satire. In an age of seemingly perpetual outrage, offensive material is routinely accepted because it dresses in the clothes of ‘satire’. But in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, somebody needs to ask the question “what exactly is satire, and who should it serve?”’
(06.12.14) – Is Russell Brand Right? Do We Need a Revolution?
‘Naïve. Egotistic. Hypocritical. Russell Brand has been labelled many things since his infamous interview with Jeremy Paxman one year ago – by detractors on the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the established political spectrum. Predominantly the key focus of the ‘discussion’ on Brand has been guided, not so subtly, toward scrutinising a single assertion in that initial interview (despite Brand offering a plethora of other views in that interview and since – to the extent he wrote a book); the assertion that voting has become irrelevant to the bulk of society, as the mainstream political parties lurch uniformly rightward.’
(21.11.14) – They’re Back: Free Education March takes London by Storm.
‘Thousands of enraged students marched through the streets of the capital on Wednesday November 19th to call for Free Education – despite warnings of ‘health and safety’ issues causing the NUS to withdraw its support for the demonstration. Regardless, over 4000 students still converged on London, in an energetic march that toured past flashpoints such as Parliament Square – the site of a mass police kettle in December 2010 – and a number of sites belonging to corporate tax-dodgers like Starbucks. It was, as a result, a predictably vibrant and radical affair, which promises to revitalise both the student and anti-cuts movement – with a focus not just on student issues, but a distinct call for an alternative to austerity present in every section of the march.’
(17.06.14) – Norfolk Says No to Tax-Dodging.
‘The Norfolk People’s Assembly staged a mobile protest throughout the city of Norwich on Saturday afternoon (June 14th). The demonstration, which came as part of a national day of action called by UK Uncut, targeted Vodafone stores in particular, after the communications giant admitted it paid “little to no income tax” in the UK.’
(08.06.14) – Of Gove and Gramsci: A Battle for Hearts and Minds.
‘When Michael Gove came out as a fan of Antonio Gramsci – the thinker known in certain sections of academia as “the last acceptable Marxist” – there was of course outrage from the left. “Michael,” they cried, “you have, if you ever read him, missed the point.” But clearly, so did they. Gove, it has become clear over the course of his dismembering of the education system, very much understands Gramsci. Because we, who stand against this government’s wanton destruction of the welfare state, are not fighting a war of facts. As Chavs… author Owen Jones rightly points out on a regular basis; were that the case, after four years of calamitous cuts and pig-headed privatisation, we would surely have won by now.’