Sunday

By Sabrina Hinojosa

If only you could see what I see.
Rub it left handed as you write down the page.
Dear Stranger,
Do not waste your lead on me.
Short stories hidden in milk crates
I’m too afraid to throw away.
Dear Lover,
Let ginger candy line my pockets and burn my tongue
Leave my head spinning loud with fairy-tail stories
Rest your tired lips on me.
Heavy.

Do you think of me?
Stereo speakers fastened on
Lazy church trees near your mother’s house.
White picket fences.
Laugh lines.
You were waiting in the bathtub
I should’ve known better than to try and fit myself between you and the water.
Lizards
are hiding under the concrete
Mouth gaping.
Backward sigh.

I woke up on a tear-smeared box spring.
I cried out all the good parts of me.
Dear uncertainty.
I see you’ve made it into the New Year and I guess
I am glad to see familiar face butOnly If you could see how I see.
Fireworks on rooftops when you were still foreign on my tongue
Hands always too large to fit in your pockets
Dear stranger,
Forget me.
Sunday.

Sabrina Hinojosa is an artist/poet in Corpus Christi. Her poetry has appeared in Issue 3 of VOLUME and in Red Wedge Magazine. She designed and printed the first 70 covers of Strike #1 and #3. She is a regular contributor to Ballabajoomba Poetry Slam. She is one of the founders of Strike Magazine and served as an editor for the first three issues.

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Toward a Holistic Revolutionary Critique of Art

By Bill Crane

China Mieville
China Mieville

China Miéville’s talk on “Guilty Pleasures: Art and Politics,” delivered at Socialism 2012, points socialists in some interesting directions regarding our critique of art. As there have been some interesting arguments on Facebook recently that I’ve participated in – particularly around Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, but also things like Homeland which I’ve written lengthy critiques of before – I thought now would be a good time to remind everyone, including myself, of the outlines of China’s critique.

China says that one axis of our appreciation of art (for which term, let’s include every cultural product regardless of medium or quality, just for the sake of utility) is the political worldview a certain piece of art has underlying it. As socialists, we are particularly sensitive to this category for obvious reasons. We know, for instance, that art is never politically value-neutral in class society as it can reinforce patterns of class, gender or racial/national domination. In capitalist society, most of the assumptions of artists as a special breed of intellectuals have this effect on their work.

At the same time, however, a piece of art can also propose a politics of liberation in either a broad or narrow sense. Most art doesn’t lie entirely on one side or another of this axis as it can lie somewhere in between based on countervailing pressures of the official ideologies Gramscian “common sense”, and the equally common notions the oppressed or exploited have pointing toward their liberation.

It is common for socialists to recognize that a particular piece of art embeds the politics of oppression in one way or another. There are two typical responses to this.

The first is we can swear off any art that does this, condemn it and refuse to appreciate whatever relative merits it may have. Logically, this position tends to reduce itself to absurdity. I have seen some leftists write that they refuse to watch The Wire because the worldview it promotes is based on a strange breed of Fabianism. This particular breed  believes structures of domination, such as the police department, can be reformed with the right people put in charge.

As a result, I think that more often than not this reductive and agitational position is only in very rare cases completely consistent. Because all art in class society, or nearly all art, reflects the influence of systems of domination, to embrace it completely means we wouldn’t ever be able to enjoy anything that doesn’t spring fully-formed from the mind of a revolutionary socialist.

This means concretely, I think, that people who embrace this position are highly selective about where they apply it. The consequences of this can look somewhat bizarre. In the past couple of months I heard a person condemn the film Lincoln because it doesn’t include any black characters. In the next breath, the same person also claims Django Unchained as an anti-racist masterpiece despite the fact that it reduces the talented tenth to the talented ten millionth in the case of the title character; the only other options for slaves laid out were to be completely passive or to actively collaborate with the slaveowners, as in the case of Samuel Jackson’s character.

I say this without accusing anyone in particular because my appreciation of art has been equally deterministic at times. Well after I had transitioned from sci-fi and fantasy geek to revolutionary socialist, I looked back on my youthful infatuation with the work of Tolkien as a particularly regrettable part of my past. The homage to feudal, courtly values paid in every page of his work kept me from seeing the reasons why I’d once appreciated the professor; his keen sense of adventure, his wonderful devotion to world-building being rightly so influential, and romance and myth have made him a hero to generations. It was only after reading pieces by China and John Molyneux that I was able to arrive at a nuanced appreciation for The Lord of the Rings, long-cherished books and movies that I had rejected in the past.

Django Unchained
Django Unchained

So what I’m saying in other words is that a perspective that uses the axis of “progressive/reactionary” as its main determinant is more often than not applied incredibly selectively. This works both ways, jumping from politics to quality and from quality to politics. We might assume a work is bad because we find its political worldview distasteful, as in the example I gave of my changing appraisal of Tolkien.

I have had less success thinking of an example of the reverse, since fiction with an agitational purpose is usually only interesting in how it fails. I have never been particularly fond of Upton Sinclair, the socialist author most famous for The Jungle. As someone smarter than me once said, allegorical fiction (which includes agitational fiction) is hard to take seriously because even its own characters realize that what they’re doing isn’t real. Of course, this only really applies in fiction. I don’t think that poetry, theater, music, etc., are forced to abide by the same limits.

Upton Sinclair
Upton Sinclair

So if we don’t like a film or a book, this may have a conditioning effect on how we see it politically – it will probably be negative. Similarly, the reverse is true: art we do like can be discovered to have good politics on a somewhat shaky basis.

An example: I really enjoy Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. I think the books are very entertaining and I am glad, in a general sense, that a series that speaks so unabashedly for women’s liberation – even using force – has had such an effect on mass consciousness. At the same time, as a revolutionary socialist, I find the absence of any notion of collective struggle rather disturbing for a work of its nature as I do with storylines that put the main characters in the position of collaborating with “progressive” people in the Swedish state apparatus against its own security forces and the far right. Larsson was a revolutionary socialist as well at one point in his life, being a member of the Swedish section of the Fourth International.

I also don’t happen to think that as art, Millenium ever really rises much above the level of pulp – a fact due in no small part to the central character, Mikael Blomqvist. Blomqvist seems to me a male fantasy rendered in a very un-feminist way. Somewhat oddly, I seem to agree more with the hyper-sectarian World Socialist Website on this than my own organization. Even if they are a scab operation run by half-psychotic scum, broken clocks and so forth.

In a conversation I had with some comrades and other general left-leaning folks a while ago, I mentioned these things when the subject of Millennium came up. One comrade, whose company I’ve always cherished, had the most curious response; the gist of which was that Lisbeth Salander’s lovingly described vigilantism had a progressive purpose because in the context of the books she stood in for the working class. I found it hard to formulate a response to this.

But I digress. The other axis of our chart is quality in the most general sense. Obviously the judgment of quality is a very subjective affair, the reasons for which I’m not very interested in. We can get around this by dealing in terms of works whose quality or appeal is generally recognized, which I’ll get to in a second.

Laying emphasis on the axis of quality over the axis of politics also leads in some strange directions. The most popular one we are very familiar with. Something like this: I like x even though x is reactionary, rightwing, reinforces power relationships of class/gender/race-nation-ethnicity. Obviously this can be a legitimate response to the distorting impact of relying overly much on the political axis. But I would argue its effect is just as distorting.

To return to the example of Tolkien, I have heard generally left-wing people absolutely refuse to consider the reactionary attitudes to women and non-Europeans in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was on the record about this: “they [orcs] are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes; in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.” (It’s less often recognized that the dwarves are in part an equally racist caricature: they represent the Jews, who in Tolkien’s mind had an irrational love for gold, spoke their own languages and never really tried to fit in with the larger society around them.)

There may be hardly any women and it’s said that orcs may represent a more than vaguely Sino-phobic caricature but, why should that detract from our appreciation of it as a text? I think to argue this is to place a barrier in between ourselves and a true appreciation of Tolkein’s universe – which surely requires us to appreciate the mind of the creator and how it was affected by the surrounding class society with all its prejudices. To say this doesn’t involve the intentional fallacy, the application of which  postmodernism has [u3] utilized to turn a useful piece of advice into its opposite.

What I’m arguing for in short is a holistic revolutionary socialist approach to art and culture. This is very much in the tradition of literary revolutionaries – Marx, Engels, Trotsky, Lukács, Brecht and Benjamin – who argued that the understanding of the conditions of production for any work of art was key to the understanding of the work of art itself. The political critique can be allowed to trump the critique of quality, or vice versa in this form of inquiry.

I’ve been overusing it lately, but I think the phrase “concrete analysis of concrete conditions” put forward by Lukács is really the secret of the Marxist method. The method includes all criticism but specifically for us, cultural criticism. So we have – the concrete analysis of concrete art.

One example I find incredibly useful, raised by China in his talk, is that of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This is a wonderful book in my opinion, among any reasonable “top ten” of English-language literature in the modern era. However, Conrad explicitly intended his book as a plea for the “enlightened colonialism” of Britain, his adopted homeland (a point of view given voice repeatedly by Marlowe, the narrator), as against the supposedly more savage rule of King Leopold in the Belgian Congo.

Heart of Darkness is a work of such importance that using just one axis of critique I have outlined will not suffice. This has not stopped the literary and political left, however, from praising it as a work of literature while pointing to the supposedly limiting conditions of its imperialist politics (a critique advanced much by Chinua Achebe and other postcolonial African writers).

What China says about Heart of Darkness is that we should consider another avenue of critique. As the novella is a product of a colonial culture, what were the things that made it compelling in a society whose common sense regarded colonialism as a positive? In other words, Heart of Darkness may be compelling precisely because of its reactionary stand on colonialism. Form and function are, after all, united in a dialectical whole – which should get us to consider that Conrad’s book is compelling for the same reasons it is politically reactionary.

The water gets even more muddied if we take a closer look. At the same time that Conrad’s implied author is a proponent of colonialism, the characters and events in his own novel revolt against this view. Much has been speculated about the character of Mr. Kurtz, whose brilliance is told of from the beginning of the book, but when he appears, he barely says anything. I refer most of all to a line that is as famous as it is misunderstood: “The horror… the horror!” Part of the misunderstanding is of course based on Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which seems to adapt the novel only in how Coppola misinterprets every part of it in the most systematic way one could imagine.

Now, as someone who loves Heart of Darkness, what I understood Kurtz means by “the horror” is not the horror of the darkness and barbarity he has been reduced to in the “savage” Congo – it is his realization that the comfortable, sedentary bourgeois way of life he enjoyed back in Europe is based on the systematic acts of exploitation and barbarism he engaged in as a colonial official in Africa. Surely one could not ask for a better literary condemnation of the system of imperialism, even if it is only implied.

Lukács was noted for his view that literature was only progressive if it exposed the dynamics of the whole society – the capitalist system as an internally mediated totality. Based on this notion, he tended to reject all forms of literary expression outside realism as reactionary. His view has often been reduced to the point of caricature. It is never noted, for example, that in the context of the struggle against fascism, Lukács’ view was linked to an attempt to salvage Enlightenment rationalism – something that he thought for better or worse was part of the Marxist heritage. Nevertheless, his views did incline to a certain purism which was not helped by his embrace of Stalinism – see for example his incredibly unsubtle denunciations of writers of such stature as Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf and Rabindranath Tagore.

I don’t mean to comment on the long-running debate between Lukács and Brecht – I’m not sure I fully understand it although Brecht’s notions seem closer to my own impressions of the truth. But Lukács’ notion that we can judge art in terms of how it exposes the totality of social relations strikes me as a useful guideline, or at least a reminder of what good art can accomplish. It is also a useful corollary of Marx’s, and especially Engels’ own views on art – that good political art does not accomplish its point through propagandizing, but through subtle subversion of the existing social relations. This incredibly hard goal has only been reached by a very few political authors, among whom I might mention China himself.

Bill CelineAnother way of putting the case is the following: We would never have to think about art in a nuanced political way if there were no good fascist artists, This is, of course, not the case. To restrict ourselves to literature alone, there have been some wonderful authors of the far right. Some of these, off the top of my head, are Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Knut Hamsun, Gabriel D’Annunzio and Yukio Mishima.

To describe their art as a fundamentally political intervention in society – that is, political in a fundamental sense – should not stop us from appreciating what they do, and especially how they do it. Trotsky’s essay on Céline pointed to the contradictions inherent in the author’s worldview as shown in his first novel, Journey to the End of the Night. Trotsky concluded that the disgust with the hypocrisy and barbarism of bourgeois society that drips from every page of Journey could go one of two ways: Céline would either see the light of revolution, or he would adapt himself to the night. We know in retrospect which way this played out.

The question of fascist art might be a bit of a heavy example to use. So I will end with considering a different one: that of cultural kitsch, especially in its reaction to the war on terror. I mean primarily Homeland, which I seem to keep coming back to in my writing.

From my perspective, Homeland is an enjoyable show. It is not great art, but so little TV is. TV is functional as it is meant to entertain and explain at a very basic level. This, Homeland does admirably. I see it as very compelling and interesting even as I recognize that what it does is to reinforce and justify the intervention of the US government into foreign countries and its repression of native Arab and Muslim communities; it’s fundamentally racist and imperialist.

Unfortunately if you praise the merits of a show in this genre among socialists, in my experience, you tend to get accused of sharing some of its values or at least ignoring them. This is very different from what I’m trying to do. At a fundamental level, most cultural products of the Homeland variety share the same values but surely we should have a bit more to say about them than “that’s racist” or “that’s imperialist”? Shouldn’t these declarations (perfectly true, mind) be followed by some sort of exploration of how racism, imperialism, etc are perpetuated?

This brings up something else, very important I think, in China’s guidelines: The idea of art as a “guilty pleasure”. He says that whether the guilt comes from bad politics or poor quality, it is fundamentally dishonest. There is no real guilt in pleasure, except the kind that is staged and performative in the declaration of a “guilty pleasure.”

It’s related to the tendency among people – not just socialists – to take something amiss when someone else disagrees on cultural and artistic preferences. All too quickly, a civil discussion on x cultural product can turn into something along the lines of “You don’t like x? You bastard!” (or, of course, the reverse, which I have experienced). Something which, as China says all too rightly, is an expression of commodity fetishism – to prove his point, many of us hissed during his talk when he mentioned he dislikes The Wire.

One caution I have here is against a sort of relativism that China’s critique implies. As an example, I think there are some really great left-wing movies out there: Reds, Matewan, Norma Rae all come to mind. Would it be a complete distraction to believe that some of their appeal comes from the very clear way in which they propose a politics of liberation? I think this would be to miss the point in a pretty major way. The reverse of this is, as China mentions, that if all your favorite books are written by fascist authors, it likely says something about your worldview.

I don’t mean all this to be systematic, much less advisory in any way. I would only offer my hope for a deeper and more systematic critique of all art on an intelligent political basis. Conclusions can be drawn as the result of further conversation.

“Toward a Holistic Revolutionary Critique of Art” originally appeared in Red Wedge Magazine and Strike #3 . More essays by Bill Crane are available on his blog http://thatfaintlight.wordpress.com/

Bill Crane is a socialist writer and activist living in London, UK. He has been active in the movements for housing rights, women’s rights and reproductive justice, and a variety of other issues. A member of the International Socialist Organization, he has maintained the blog That Faint Light (thatfaintlight.wordpress.com) for several years, where his commentary on literature, politics, history and Marxist theory has appeared. His other writings have been published at Socialist Worker (socialistworker.org), Red Wedge Magazine, ZNet, and elsewhere. A recent graduate of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, he feels most at home either reading, messing up articles on Wikipedia, or discussing arcane Marxist theory over a beer.

The Fix 10/03/2013

Another (late) edition of The Fix is bringing you another round of nuggets from the world wide web.

culturestrikeElyveth:  Some of us forget how big a role technology and social media play in organizing and getting information to the people. This article looks specifically at CultureStrike and how designers use technology strategically to get their messages out quickly and virally all over the world. They conduct silkscreening workshops to teach young people how to cheaply produce a run of posters for a rally or demonstration. Using social media, they allow downloading of their posters for quick distribution, and that’s just scrapping the surface.

turtle giantRaul:  This ain’t exactly cutting edge, but I came across this radio station, KEXP, out of Seattle that regularly holds these short in-studio performances with a wide array of alternative and indie artists. The setting is nice and intimate, the interviews are informative and some of the artists seem to really get into it. Favorites include performances from Grimes, Neon Indian and Beach Fossils. I picked this mostly because we’re getting our own radio show (woo!) and I would love to see us get to this point one day.

TarekMike:  Street art has played a continuous role in the development of the revolutions of the Arab Spring that began a couple of years ago. As people took to the streets in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other places to demonstrate against repressive regimes, street artists amplified the voices of those struggles. In Syria, revolutionaries have been engaged in one of the most protracted, bloodiest fights in the region. And, artists in Syria have participated in that battle from the beginning.

In this piece Vice talks with Syrian street artist, Tarek Algorhani, about the role his work plays, facing down the Assad regime with art, and the costs of the Syrian revolution for the people and for artists.

Beatriz:  Blam! “Knowing Where Youre Gadgets Come From” –Hyperallergic

“So much of the electronics we use are built on the backs of child soldiers and millions of dead, a war the world ignores but has killed more people so far than World War II.”

Hypoallergic

Strike Magazine Launches Radio Strike with Corpus Christi Community Radio

Welcome to the radio arm of Strike Magazine. Radio Strike will produce Strike radio_strikeMagazine content in a radio format through interviews, music, readings and other related topics. Our first episode will give some background about the origins of Strike and dig deeper into the meaning of art with issue 4’s featured artist Adam Turl. In this first episode we present the talk Turl gave at Socialism 2013 Conference it Chicago. Turl’s talk will focus on Ernst Fischer and is titled “The Necessity of Art”. Following the talk our very own editor, Raul Alonzo, conducts a brief interview with Turl.

Radio Strike: The Necessity of Art with Adam Turl

For more information about Adam Turl and his work please visit http://www.adamturl.org

To see Turl’s work featured in Strike Magazine Issue 4 visit the issues link on this website.

Corpus Christi Community Radio:  www.cccomradio.com

Thanks for listening!

An Interview with Independent Filmmaker, Ann Kulichik

Ann Kulichik is an independent filmmaker that hails from Lowell, MA. Her independent, charming and humorous short film “Amy Kidd, Zombie Speech Pathologist” will debut at the fast approaching South Texas Underground Film Fest that begins October 3 here in Corpus Christi. 

In this interview Ann talks about what it takes to be an independent filmmaker, plans to develop “Amy Kidd” as a complete episodic series and the role her experience as a real life speech pathologist plays in the interaction between zombie and therapist.

Speech pathologist, Amy Kidd and her client, Arnie
Speech pathologist, Amy Kidd and her client, Arnie

Strike Magazine: How long have you been making films?

Ann Kulichik:  “Amy Kidd, Zombie Speech Pathologist” is my first film, which I completed in June of this year.  Since I produced “Amy”, I have written a bunch of other scripts which some other people have filmed.  I also filmed one this week that I appear in — a short romantic comedy about a guy who is making a film about a serial killer.  He is making dinner for his date, and as she snoops around his apartment, she discovers his arsenal of stage weaponry, and thinks that HE is a serial killer.  Hilarity ensues.  I am also directing a script I wrote in October, which will mark the first time that I make a film in which I will not appear.

Strike Magazine:  Any feature length films?

Ann Kulichik:  No, not yet.

Strike Magazine:  What do you find interesting about the short film medium?

Ann Kulichik:  I think comedy lends itself very easily to the short film.  It’s really fun to set up a premise and throw a gag in.  My writing style is fairly pithy, so I feel like I can get a lot of information across in a short period.  Making a short film is also a great way to try out crew members and actors and see which ones really deliver for you.  Then the ones that rise to the top can be used in a feature length film.

Strike Magazine:  In recent years there has been a proliferation of zombie films, particularly zombie comedies. What drew you to the zombie genre?

AKS_0006_illustration_ltg_3.26x3.85_aAnn Kulichik:  I didn’t set out to make a zombie flick — it was a joke I made on Facebook at the time that the Mayan calendar ended.  Since I am a speech pathologist, I mused, how would my business model change in the face of an apocalypse?  What if it were a zombie apocalypse?  That Facebook posting got one of the biggest responses I have ever had.  So, I thought that maybe I was onto something.

Strike Magazine:  How has this film been received in other screenings?

Ann Kulichik:  STUFF will be the first screening, and it will be screened the following week at the Indiana Short Film Festival.

Strike Magazine:  Listening to a zombie trying to say “mom” is really hilarious. Im not sure I can put my finger on why…

Ann Kulichik:  In the full season of episodes, Arnie actually says “mom” a lot, and Amy thinks it is because it is the only word he can say.  We find out, though, that there is a funnier reason.  This is revealed during a zombie group therapy session.  But — to answer your thought about why something is funny — I think that when you combine two dissimilar elements, hilarity ensues.  Zombies are traditionally thought of as soul-less carnivores, who do not have a loving parental relationship.  In a future episode, Amy goes on a date with a germaphobic biker.  When the actor who will be playing that part read the script, he commented on how ridiculous it is for a guy to carry Purell around with him after there has been an apocalypse.

Strike Magazine:  What are some of the struggles faced by independent filmmakers?

Ann Kulichik: I can make a number of films with no budget, however, I need a budget with Amy, because zombie make up is surprisingly expensive.  So, money is often an issue.  I tend to be very resourceful in terms of finding locations and people to work with, which is how I am able to shoot a lot of my other scripts.  Producing the full season of Amy is on hold right now, because I need to get $2,000.  Another challenge is finding crew who will work for free — or that is, for IMDB credit and food.  I’ve had a couple of misfires, but overall, I am finding some really excellent people to work with.

Another thing is that I am learning so much about the craft every day, so when I look back at Amy — I see all of the flaws and things I would do differently.  I think that by the time I am able to make the full season of Amy, I will be in a better place, technically, which will make the finished product more polished.

Strike Magazine:  Where do you find inspiration?

Ann Kulichik:  Every day, in every situation, I see comedy.  For example, I was giving my dog her medication this morning, and I noticed that on the side of the vial, it cautions her not to operate heavy machinery.  The visual that conjures is priceless.

Strike Magazine:  What currents or trends happening in film today do you find exciting?

Ann Kulichik:  This is SUCH an AMAZING time to be making film!!!!  With the advent of DSLRs and online platforms, there is tremendous power at the grassroots level.  There is SO much free information on filmmaking on YouTube and elsewhere online.  And film festivals like STUFF!  I absolutely love what Mariella and Robert Perez are doing for independent film.  They are in it for the right reasons and they display tremendous spirit.  I feel tremendously thankful to be a part of this scene.

Strike Magazine:  How much of the context of this short is based on frustrations you might experience or do experience as a pathologist? What is the root of those frustrations? Is there a social criticism in terms of the subject matter?

Amy Kidd Biz CardAnn Kulichik: When I was writing the full season, I did look to my experience as a Speech Pathologist for inspiration, however, it was very important to me that I not present a type of client so specifically that it could come across like I am mocking them.  I take my speech work seriously, and I have had the opportunity to work with many fabulous people who have had some crippling physical issues.  So, I kept the communication disorders pretty general, but I did draw on what I know about neurology.  For example, Arnie has a right brain injury, and if the motor center in the right brain is impaired, it can result in motor deficits to the left side of the body.  This is why Arnie has a left foot drag.

But I did take some inspiration from some behavior issues I have dealt with.  There is a zombie named Ethel who is quite disobedient to group rules (we will see her in a group therapy scene).  When it’s her turn to speak or participate in the group, she yells “No!” Or hides under the table, or tries to gouge someone’s eyes out.  Think preschool tantrum.  Amy organizes a zombie social skills group, cause zombies — let’s face it — they aren’t the best with social pleasantries.  This can be funny in the context of zombies, but, in real life, it is a serious issue.  When people do not have the ability to pick up on social cues and work and play well with others, it has serious implications for their careers and personal lives.  They are often perceived as jerks or as strange, and may be ostracized.  The truth is, in many cases, they are just lacking in some skills that can be taught.  So, if there is a social message here (which is not my primary intent), I hope that awareness can be raised that social deficits are often an identifiable communication issue that can be remediated.  If Amy works into a season 2, I could potentially show some other communication issues (a zombie with a vocal nodule?  All that moaning cannot be healthy for the vocal folds), but I will always be mindful of presenting it in a way that is not disparaging to those who have those issues.  The nice thing about having zombi-ism as the primary diagnosis, is that there are no zombie advocacy groups (as far as I know), who’s feathers will get ruffled if I present them in a politically incorrect manner.

As it turns out, Ethel is a bit of a hypochondriac, and Amy accompanies her to one of her dermatology appointments, in an effort to help Ethel learn how to behave in the community.  Ethel gets into all kinds of trouble in the waiting room, because the other patients look so delicious, and Amy really has her hands full as she is trying to teach Ethel social skills, but, at times, has to be more of a disciplinarian.  That is a fine line I have had to walk in some therapy sessions (with preschoolers, mostly).  But, thank goodness for zombie repellent!  Amy also has a few other zombie management tricks up her sleeve.  And the other aspect is that the medical community has not quite figured out how to deal with all of the health issues of zombies, as we see when the nurse tries to get Ethel’s vital signs.

Strike Magazine:  Do you think the system hasn’t figured out how to deal with the issues of zombies in Amy’s world or is the system unwilling to use the resources required to deal with the issues of zombies? In current society we often see systemic reluctance to expend resources for the adequate treatment of social ills.

Ann Kulichik:  I hadn’t thought about it that far.  I think that if there is money to be made in this society, then someone will do it.  For example, the manufacturers of zombie repellent.  There is also a company that manufactures fake body parts, that zombies find delicious, and meets all of their nutritional needs.

Strike Magazine: In Amy’s world are zombies perceived as a serious social problem? Should the problem be treated socially? How do zombies pay for treatment?

Ann Kulichik:  Yes.  Zombies are not a complete anathema in this new civilization, but they are definitely not well integrated into society.  Amy is a pioneer.  On one of her blind dates, she faces some attitude from a dude who doesn’t appreciate her zombie reintegration efforts, and her family is not  happy about her new business plan.  She ends up concealing a lot of her issues from the people she is closest to.  This social tension between zombie haters and zombie supporters could be a possible theme to explore more fully in season 2 or 3.

The nice thing about working with the undead is that they usually have very poor fine motor skills, and so they cannot dial phone numbers and let their insurance companies know that they are no longer alive.  So, Amy has been able to get away with billing their insurance companies until she can get them enough skills for them to go out and earn a living, and convert to private pay.  Arnie, for example, went into business for himself.  He runs a lemonade stand.

Strike Magazine:  Legendary zombie film director George Romero once said that zombies are us. They are us and we are them…

Well, Mr. Romero’s statement is interesting.  It makes me think of early scenes in Shawn of the Dead, where the similarities between people who are bleary eyed in the morning, going to jobs they hate, and zombies walking down the street are presented.  I definitely feel like a zombie when I am over tired or a little hung over.  Or working for the man!

Strike Magazine:  What are your plans for a complete season?

Ann Kulichik:  I would like to make about 10 episodes, reveal some secrets,  develop a complete story, as opposed to stand alone episodes and development the relationship between Amy and Arnie.

“Amy Kidd, Zombie Speech Pathologist” can be seen at the South Texas Underground Film Festival (STUFF) beginning October 3rd. For more information about the film fest visit: www.southtexasundergroundfilm.com