Friday, August 7, 2015

The Anti-Capitalist TV Show We’ve Been Waiting For?

USA’s 'Mr. Robot' Is the Anti-Capitalist TV Show We’ve Been Waiting For | Alternet

Mr. Robot via USA
Mr. Robot has become a critical darling, and it’s easy to see why. For starters, it’s built around the performance of Malek, which is phenomenal, an unusual combination of intelligence, deadpan affect and charisma. It’s also one of the better-looking shows on television, with a visual aesthetic that alternates shots of perfect symmetry with ones framed from slightly off or tilted angles, creating an unnerving beauty. (This was especially the case for the first and fourth episodes, directed by Niels Arden Oplev and Nisha Gantara, respectively.) And the writing is generally excellent: witty dialogue that’s rarely cloying, genuinely surprising plot twists, and realistic characterization. There’s also a pretty great musical score by Mac Quayle, borrowing heavily from the playbook of rattling snare taps and spooky synths that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have employed in David Fincher’s most recent films. 
But what truly makes the show different—which most critics have either ignored or glossed over—is what provides both its animating spirit and its primary narrative engine: a deep, visceral hatred of modern-day capitalism.
"A deep, visceral hatred of capitalism," you say? OK, I was planning to check out Sense8 next, but Mr. Robot just cut the line.

The nagging doubt, of course, is it's hard to imagine a genuinely anti-capitalist show being made for the USA network, a brand of NBCUniversal, itself a property of Comcast (and GE). Comcast CEO, Brian L. Roberts is worth something north of $1B and has total annual compensation in the vicinity of $25M, so it's probably safe to say he's comfortable this particular cultural production doesn't threaten his economic power. (Roberts, by the way, enjoys a 370:1 ratio of CEO pay to median employee pay, according to Not the highest in the Fortune 100, but near the top.)

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