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Once Upon a Time in the Future-West…

Ghosts with Shit Jobs by Jim Munroe


Imagining a Future-West / Just Another Country
Screening at Impakt Festival 2012: No More Westerns

Have you ever wondered about what would happen if the entire Western World together with its capitalist economy and consumerism collapsed? What if, in the not too distant future, the rapidly developing economies of the East overpower the Western hegemony – which is already not as certain as it wants to seem – in both economical and cultural sense?– So far this idea of the West’s decay mainly appeared as a dystopian vision of xenophobic right-wing leaders being a common panel in their demagogic rhetorics, but I can promise that the presented videos will give a whole different, unexpected shape to this fantasy.

Jim Munroe’s mockumentary, Ghosts with Shit Jobs is set in 2040’s Toronto; and apparently, with a turn of the tables, the West has became for Asia what Asia used to be for the West: nothing but cheap labor. We follow the lives of six individuals practicing menial jobs of the future, presented in the exact same style as nowadays lurid, sensationalistic TV shows discussing the horrors of Chinese factory workers: we see two well-dressed TV anchors sitting in a garishly furnished studio commenting on the actual report as shown on the big LCD screen in the background, constantly switching between a commiserative and a dramatic tone. The show investigates “What is life like for these people?” – A young couple holding degrees in robotics assembling frighteningly realistic baby robots for the wealthy kids of Asia while dreaming of moving to the East for a better life; two homeless brothers collecting the spiderwebs that remained from a giant arachnoid invasion, selling them for drinking-water; a human spammer who gets paid for mentioning brand-names in casual conversations – which eventually leads her into prostitution; and a digital janitor who erases brand-names and logos from the virtual past manually which causes him a serious brain damage.
Munroe’s sci-fi mockumentary cleverly evading the pitfalls of the low-budget with great humor and splendid acting serves as a brilliant satire on our stereotyping, patronizing and one-sided TV documentaries showing how ridiculous and fragile our western superiority really is.

Rainer Ganahl’s 6 minute video, I hate Karl Marx plays with the same thought of China overpowering the West by the 2040’s in an almost painfully ironic way, however, it approaches the subject from a totally different, rather political aspect. The video shows a young German woman castigating and cursing a bronze bust of Karl Marx expressing her discontent entirely in Chinese. From her monologue it is clear that Marx’s egalitarian vision came true in a strange way by the communist China conquering the western world where now everything is Chinese. The language is Chinese, the eating habits are Chinese, the western brands were replaced by Chinese ones , even Karl Marx has reincarnated as Chinese. The video caricatures both the Western world’s anxiety about China’s rapid and aggressive economic expansion and, at the same time, the fashionable anti-capitalist movements of the west.

These anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist neo-hippie movements are also lampooned in Matthew Lessner’s The Woods, that presents a group of urban youth’s attempt to go and live in the nature without having to give up their convenient lifestyle provided by all kinds of technical gadgets. This contradiction between the whole back-to-the-nature philosophy and technocracy offers endless variations of the same gag – for example, an image of a young hipster loading a washing machine in the middle of a forest or an electric plug nailed on to a tree – but not matter how many times we see it, the joke happens to work.

Come and see for yourself  at Impakt Festival 2012: No More Westerns – if you are a fan of bitter humor and sarcasm you won’t regret this journey to the (possible) future West.