Mark Fisher (1968-2017)
We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our contributor Mark Fisher this weekend. Mark was a unique writer; a critic, teacher and editor whose work touched and inspired a wide group of people. Through his blog, k-punk, his journalism and books such as Capitalist Realism, Mark spanned the fields of music, mental health, visual culture and literature to identify the failings of the world we live in and the opportunities to make a better one. Tributes to Mark are being reposted on Facebook by his publisher, Repeater, including this obituary by David Stubbs at the Quietus. Mark wrote for publications including the Wire, Sight and Sound and Frieze - and since 2013 he was the television critic here at New Humanist.
This paragraph, from his review of 2015's Celebrity Big Brother, is typically bold, unafraid to take popular culture seriously and examine its political context:
In the atmosphere of cut-throat uncertainty that prevails in late capitalist television, trusting others is a luxury that noone, not even the super-rich, can afford. The grimace of scorn on Abraham’s face – surgically enhanced, permanently lip-glossed – is both a protective mask and her unique selling point. Allied with the similarly harsh Jenna Jameson in the Celebrity Big Brother house, Abraham came off as a comic figure, but one that noone could actually laugh at. Her one-note hostility and bizarre insults – “You’re full of Satan” – were absurd, but too full of actual malice to leave anything but a bitter taste in the mouth. There was also something darkly comic about the relentlessly aggressive and insulting Jameson and Abraham attacking others for their “negativity”. Both seemed to be the endpoint of a therapeutic culture which lays all the emphasis on shoring up one’s own ego – even to the point of becoming delusional.
The rise of social media, and the fear it has produced in television executives, means that shows like Celebrity Big Brother are saturated with anxiety – not only the anxiety of the housemates, who are often selected for their hair-trigger tempers or psychic weaknesses, but the anxiety of the producers, always looking for the next hashtag outrage, for provocations that will go viral.
Mark's other articles for NH, on Breaking Bad, Girls, Westworld, Peter Kay and more, are free to read here.