The Voice Thief, A Surreal Short Film By Adan Jodorowsky

Merry Tuesday my little apple carts! I’ve got a lot of editing to do so I shall leave you with this wonderfully bizarre short film The Voice Thief by the criminally gorgeous Adan Jodorowsky, son of Alejandro, and featuring Asia Argento (also gorgeous), daughter of Dario. Toodle pip!

Can A Youtuber Be A Cult Leader?

I’ve been researching YouTube communities for a few weeks now for an upcoming book and found myself pondering a surprising question. Before we dive in I’d like to remind everyone that I don’t have the answers, just an overwhelming curiosity. Also some of the videos contain naughty language, so be aware.

Communities exist because, as we know, YouTube is a vast website where thousands of videos are uploaded every second and, without individuals of common interest pulling together and promoting each other, they’d all be lost in a vacuum. The thing is, people are people and, no matter how much we’d love to, we don’t really get along – at least certain people can’t with each other. I’ve noticed each community (Booktube, Storytime, Ranters, Vegans… oh God, the Vegans… we’ll come to that) will have its antagonists or people who just don’t agree with the way others are doing things, the others often take sides, and sometimes it leads to the disintegration of the group and sometimes not. It’s the same with any large mass of people, online or otherwise, it’s just a new platform for all this to happen.

There’s another element to online disagreements though, one which is both fascinating and disturbing: can a YouTuber become a cult leader? It sounds completely daft but more and more I’ve wondered at the possibility. There is a general fear that impressionable people can be lured into cults via the internet, though whether there is any basis in fact is another matter.

One YouTuber years ago jokingly (?) attempted to start his own cult and, interestingly, he’s a person many have since had genuine concerns about. They worry that his young fan base is easily taken in by what he tells them and so on. But does that make it possible for him to be a real cult leader? In order to decide that I suppose we ought to define what a cult leader is.

The following video demonstrates the common ways a rational person is manipulated and transformed into a follower:

It seems pretty crazy and far-fetched to think someone could manage all this by uploading videos onto a website, right? But some are convinced it’s possible. I suppose we can look at it two ways. When we don’t like someone, we tend to view everything they say and do through the worst possible lens. For example, the lady in the video below felt a YouTuber was disrespecting disabled people and, once she approached him via social media, he didn’t respond well and neither did his followers.

It’s never nice to be spoken to in an unpleasant manner, in real life or online, and it can be mentally upsetting particularly for the very young or those with chronic illness. The seeping in of negativity from online to everyday life once seemed ridiculous to people, but the potential real world damage is becoming clearer.

The lady below points out several entirely plausible things that qualify him as a potential cult leader, and she’s not the only one, but is it also possible she’s seeing them because…well…she doesn’t like him? Or is she right?

And yet… a YouTuber forming a cult doesn’t seem completely impossible. Back to the vegans.

About a year ago troubling aspects of a group known as Raw Till 4 became evident. Led by a very angry pair known as Durian Rider and his girlfriend Freelee (or Diddly Rider and Free Pee as one dissenter refers to them), the Raw Till 4 diet promotes eating large quantities of raw carbohydrates until 4 when you can… eat cooked carbohydrates? I’m not sure. They set up a vegan festival in Thailand where anyone could go and discuss all things vegetably and raw, before in-fighting and accusations of sexual predation (apparently projection on Durian Rider’s part) caused the entry rules to become stricter and stricter, and those on the fringe were denounced as ‘fake vegans,’ until only a hardcore few meeting all the requirements were allowed to attend. Some began noticing the health advice, among other things, was perhaps not up to par:

However the thing that most worried people was the video of a young girl, 16 at the time, defending the pair. She has a history of eating disorders and apparently blindly followed the pair’s teachings. Notice in the video below the moment she brings up concerns from her doctor and Durian Rider tells her to “ignore your doctor, just listen to the king and queen.”

So yes, I don’t think it’s beyond the scope of possibility. I think we ought to be aware, though, of hysteria and making things fit to our way of thinking. Adam Curtis says, after all, that the internet is “an echo chamber, reflecting our beliefs back at us.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen…

Merry Halloween! John Waters This Filthy World

It’s here! Later tonight I shall be watching Derren Brown and stuffing my face but until then here is something to amuse all you weirdos out there. It’s like that programme An Evening With, where the star shares charming anecdotes with the audience, except in this context it involves burlesque, horror, trash and cult cinema and fetishes. It’s very funny.

BE WARNED: Much of this is NOT for children. Do not watch if you’re under 18 (or whatever age you think it’s OK). Happy Halloween!!

John Waters This Filthy World (2006)

Codex Seraphinianus: A New Edition of the Strangest Book in the World

The strangest book in the world and I’ve never heard of it? Well, yes, there’s probably quite a lot I haven’t heard of. Never mind, here’s a link to an article on a very odd book in an unknown language with intriguingly bizarre pictures. codex-HORSEY

New book – The Filing Cabinet of Doom and other stories

What’s that? An entire book filled with stuff from my brain? Wow, where can I purchase such a thing?!

Well, worry no more. With just a few clicks of the button you too can be a proud owner of my words (and technically the words of Burning Bulb Publishing). If you’re from the UK you can purchase on the kindle from here, or on paperback via here, or if you’re American you could buy them here or here. If you are from elsewhere, I apologise for not including your Amazon links. I hope we can still be friends. filing-cabinet-of-doom-madeleine-swann

Bizarre Book Club 5: A Drug and Madness Special

Drugs and madness, everyone’s favourite things! It’s in the lyrics of the extra bit in that number Julie Andrews sang to the Von Trapp children that ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s true. Bee keeping was probably in there too.

I'm dead intellectual I am
I’m dead intellectual I am

Anyway…we all love Burroughs, but what of those before him?

1. Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincey. Essentially Junky for the Georgian period, this long and rather waffling essay (still entertaining though, don’t get me wrong) details the author’s fall into the grip of opium addiction. Made more interesting by the fact that his buddies and fellow hop heads were Byron and Coleridge, I recommend this to anyone with a high concentration level, which I admit wasn’t always me (ooh, squirrels).

2. The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories by Horacio Quiroga. Here’s a blog post on the Uruguayan author’s frankly depressing life and possibly the reason his stories frequently include death, madness and murder. Perhaps I’m wrong but I get the feeling his writing is more poetic than the English translation, however I still enjoyed his Mediterranean infused gothic tales.

3. Hunger by Knut Hamsun. The main character in Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun’s turn of the century novel is really hungry. Seriously, that’s the basis of the book, and it’s amazing.

Hamsun wanted to show the fragility of human perception by detailing the ups and downs in a struggling writer’s life. Everything seems hopeful when he’s had a bit of bread, but without it he does and says some very peculiar things, including harassing a young lady as she wanders down the street and almost eating a pencil. It’s much better than I’ve explained here so I suggest getting a copy forthwith.

4. The Young Doctor’s Notebook (or Country Doctor’s Notebook)/Morphine by Mikhail Bulgakov. Frequently paired together, especially since the brilliant adaptation featuring Jon Hamm, this collection of short stories details in naturalistic prose the usually surreal author’s (his other works include The Master and Margarita) time as a country doctor in Russia. Oh, and his raging morphine addiction.

The stories of treating his confused peasant patients are worth it alone (a woman in labour is brought in and the midwives check her vagina only to find lumps of sugar inserted. The baby was overdue and they’d apparently tried to ‘lure it out’). However some of the nightmarish scenarios in Morphine (a fictionalised account, as are all the stories) stay with you. I had no idea morphine withdrawal would really cause terrifying hallucinations, I thought that scene in Trainspotting was just to jazz it up a bit.

He’s a funny and thought provoking writer and I’m now going to search out his other, apparently weirder, works and you probably should too.

Well that’s all I have time for, but be sure to tune in for more exciting updates. In the meantime, here’s a cat saying “Oh Long Johnson.”

The oddest Asian films I’ve seen so far, plus baby shaped pears

Fancy seeing you here. No, I’m not following you, we just know the same people. Well maybe you’re following me, did you think of that?

OK so I’m going to assume you’ve seen the films of Takashi Miike, Chan-Wook Park, Tetsuo, Battle Royale and all those ‘girl with hair on face’ films.

Warning: Some of these trailers might have disturbing things in them. Others are just silly. Now let’s have a look.

1. Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People.This is a colourful and slightly campy 60s offering from Japan (and looks very much like the inside of my brain), though its not without its moments of tension. A group of holiday makers crash a ship on an island and find themselves without much food, but never fear: those mushrooms look tasty! Unfortunately they have some side effects.

2. Horrors of Malformed Men. There’s a mad scientist on an island! He’s made genetic freaks! He’s…doing Butoh on a rock?…He’s… telling a convoluted back story to someone about things I don’t quite understand…

3. The Forbidden Door. Indonesian outing which, even with a disappointing ending, was entertaining enough for me. An artist who makes sculptures of slightly too realistic pregnant women stumbles on a secret door in the house he shares with his girlfriend. Not only that but a friend introduces him to a very exclusive and very disturbing club. It’s not Fight Club.

4. Hansel and Gretel. Included because it’s so pretty (never fear, it’s more than a little odd), this is a Korean film about a man who gets lost in the woods. He stumbles on a beautiful house filled with a loving family, but the parents look worried…

5. House. 70s Japanese film about a group of friends who go on holiday (people just need to stop going on holiday) to a house in the country. A house of some seriously weird sh*t!

6. Dumplings. What’s in the dumplings that keeps everyone looking so young and beautiful? Let’s not ask…

OK that’s all I have time for but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more weirdness. In the meantime have a look at this news story about pears in China that have been “shaped during its initial stages of growth using special molds” to resemble babies. Yum.