Millennial Woes, the trains, and Davros
Updated: Jan 21
I’m surprised nobody gets the allusion in this clip. The filmmaker whose documentary is under dissection by Millennial Woes and two American streamers selected the clip with MW in discussion by a train track to open his film because trains are associated with the holocaust—“the cattle trains to Auschwitz”. I think, at some level, MW gets the allusion too, but he is probably conscious that he doesn’t want to excavate the connection in public or, more likely, finds the connection too uncomfortable to make himself. Yet that is why he lingers on the “oddness” associated with trains—and that is why the filmmaker decided to open the film with this clip (though perhaps even he himself would not be able to explain that to you, would not allow himself to be conscious as to what he was up to—after all, it’s an unconscious “smear” in a way, anti-social).
On the surface, it’s all innocuous: Woes discussed many topics on his channel—from Doctor Who to depression—although he eventually narrowed down to nationalist politics. This clip from his channel’s early days is non-political, and yet it hints about “things to come” (things that have already been) on a great many levels. The rattle of the train nearby, its destination as fixed as the tracks it travels on.
The metanarrative in the film is as follows: Millennial Woes has an affection for Doctor Who; it was central to his childhood—as a boy on the playground, he convinced other boys that “an alien invasion” was imminent and that there would “be a war”, the conceit was based on the Doctor Who stories he watched. Yet, as Woes relates, as the “appointed hour” for the war approached he became more and more anxious because the aliens would not arrive (in the end he said the war was “postponed” and the other boys accepted that).
The filmmaker wants us to think that Woes is caught in a “compulsion to repeat”, an idea from psychoanalysis—we replay our childhood traumas in our adult life again and again (psychoanalysis makes us aware as regards these destructive patterns and lets us escape them). MW likes to say that mass immigration will lead to civil war in Europe: the filmmaker’s contention is that far from an objective political analysis Woes simply relives his childhood role as the boy in the playground who got the kids excited about the prospect “there will be a war, the aliens will invade”—and the implication is that, just as with the “playground war”, a civil war due to mass immigration will prove to be “an illusion”. The boys on the playground spellbound by the young Woes have been substituted for an equally spellbound audience on YouTube—shamanic storyteller, rather like Hitler, spins his story that people buy into and, perhaps, act on (“Are you on the Trump train, anon? Choo-choo).
The film also highlights Doctor Who’s nemesis, Davros—the mad scientist who invented the Daleks. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Davros and the Daleks are consciously modelled on Hitlerism—his acolytes wear dark SS-style uniforms and even, though they are on an alien planet, the Iron Cross. Davros inhabits a bunker (Hitleresque) and heads an “elite scientific corps”—their eugenic experiments eventually create the Dalek creatures, a new cybernetic organism so remorseless that they exterminate their own parent race and even their creator (he begs for mercy from them, yet he bred them without pity—poetic justice).
What the filmmaker wants to suggest is that, without realising it, Woes has come to inhabit the role played by Davros; he has turned from “the light”, the Doctor—who enunciates liberal humanitarian views—to “the dark side”. The filmmaker chooses clips from MW where he hems and haws about who is “the ultimate Doctor Who villain”—the answer is obvious, Davros is Moriarty to the Doctor’s Holmes. To select footage where MW hems and haws over this obvious fact suggests that unconsciously he knows he has turned into Davros and yet cannot admit it to himself because he knows Davros is evil. Essentially, the filmmaker depicts MW as he experiences cognitive dissonance—the audience is meant to go, “Ah, I see. It’s his guilty conscience at work; he cannot admit to himself what he has become.”
The idea is to suggest irony: the documentary features clips where MW discusses a youthful visit to a sci-fi convention where he met Sylvester McCoy, who played the Doctor when MW first saw the series. The suggestion is that without his own realisation he has slid into “evil” and cannot admit it to himself—perhaps there’s a Jungian or Nietzsche twist, “He who fights monsters should beware he does not turn into a monster himself,” so MW started out as the “playground warner” (the war is coming) yet in his earnest desire to be “the good Doctor” he turned into “the evil Davros”. Again, the idea is psychoanalytical—perhaps not consciously so, the psychoanalytical approach permeates our societies without our realisation; it’s the legacy from Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Freud—the “unadmitted urge”.
It’s worth a jump backwards to question the filmmaker’s own preconceptions; for example, he accepts the narrative frame in Doctor Who—the Doctor is “good”, Davros is “evil”—and then situates MW’s “ironic” degeneration (not regeneration, as the Doctor experiences, not renaissance) within that framework (actually, MW’s turn to “evil” has regenerated him—from NEET to employed and influential person; hence, where there’s muck there’s brass). The filmmaker doesn’t question that Doctor Who is itself a state product from a liberal progressive bureaucracy (the BBC) that—just as with The Archers—seeks to “educate as it entertains”. In other words, the filmmaker accepts the frame from Doctor Who as a neutral norm when actually it’s slanted, it seeks to inculcate progressive values into people.
MW, by contrast, has stepped somewhat out from that frame but because he still has emotional attachment to Doctor Who (other cultural products with a liberal progressive frame) he experiences cognitive dissonance because he enunciates “Davros-like” views—i.e. as a child he identified with “the Doctor”, the goody; and yet as an adult he finds out reality is Davros. He feels mixed emotions because he still identifies with the Doctor (“good”) and yet he knows that the truth is “evil” (Davros); and the filmmaker exploits this emotional ambiguity for his own purposes.
As noted elsewhere, the filmmaker is young. He doesn’t realise that he himself lives in a “frame”. What he’s done is to take the “frame” and construct a narrative—“Ironically, you loved the Doctor but you’ve turned into his evil nemesis without realising it.” That is one story, yet it is actually conceived from youthful arrogance—the filmmaker doesn’t realise that he himself has been indoctrinated; and what he has done is exploit the fact that MW exited his liberal worldview—as inculcated by Doctor Who—in an emotional way (not a psychologically “clean” way) and so he still has “sticky” emotions about the Doctor as “good” and Davros as “evil”. As with much in life, it’s love-hate—and “it’s complicated,” as we used to say on Facebook (the only true relationship status, btw).
I liked Doctor Who when I was a kid, but there was only one serial I really liked and only one I’ve rewatched as an adult: Genesis of the Daleks, the story in which Davros is introduced in his bunker with his black-clad acolytes. I like it because it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world that is really that very British institution, “a cozy catastrophe”—bleak, yet warm (milky warm, as we shall see); and psychoanalytically that’s because both sides in the total forever war on planet Skaro inhabit vast bunkers underground—the bunker is the mother (mater, the matrix; the milky breast). Total masculine warfare leads to total regression to the womb (the safest place, Mother Earth—she shields us from nerve gas and radiation). It’s the genesis of the Daleks—it’s their birth. Where are they born? In a warm bunker—sickly warm I imagine, the air heavy with concrete dust and ashes—that serves as a womb.
In a way, Davros is a “male mother”—and that’s why he’s unnatural. He’s a man who “gives birth to” a cybernetic race—unnatural birth! The Doctor, by contrast, is assigned to destroy the Daleks in an act of “genocide”—it’s a male role, contrary to his liberal instincts (in the end, he’s so liberal he can’t bring himself even to kill “evil”). Davros, a mutant himself, gives birth to the perfect Dalek race—indeed, to return to the documentary, this relates to another swipe at Woes.
The filmmaker wants to suggest that, like Davros, Woes is a “mutant” (NEET, in his dressing gown at midday, overweight, depressed, a smoker) who dreams about a “perfect master race”—again, psychological compensation for his own deformed state. It’s an old trope: people will say “Hitler only had one ball”, “Goebbels had a limp”, “Himmler was ugly”—and these, these, were the ugly cretins who spoke about “a master race”.
The reality is that Davros was created to demonise everything Indo-Aryan: war, masculinity, hierarchy, objectivity, and eugenics. Above all, he exists to subvert the spiritual: Davros is blind and sees through an electronic “third eye” on his forehead. Davros is a god, an awakened one—to the ugly he seems “evil”, yet to have opened the “third eye”, the vajra, reflects a spiritual position. Davros sees the situation objectively, the Doctor—actually feminised—cannot see the situation objectively at all.
So, ultimately, Genesis of the Daleks serves to demonise Indo-Aryan spirituality—Davros is the “good guy”; and, to the bad guys, the gods look ugly and terrible—their justice is inhuman and objective (“Can’t we just chat about it?” “No”). To go “to the dark side” is to follow Dante: to go into Hell and clamber down the Devil’s fur into Heaven—people who move into “the dark” move towards the light, since our world is ruled by evil and exoterically presents what is vice as virtue; we live in the false light, only people who “go to hell”, to the bunker, will find the true light.
To return to the original contention that MW is caught in a “compulsion to repeat” due to his failed role as herald for “the playground war”, here is another interpretation: Woes is not caught in a compulsion to repeat but rather has a mantic or shamanic element so that he foresees what is to come—and has foreseen it since his youth. What was expressed as playground warnings about “the alien menace” merely reflected his intimation as to what would come to pass in the real world decades later.
Though heterosexual, Woes experimented with homosexuality for a time as a teenager. He is not homosexual; he merely has very high personality trait “agreeableness”—in an ultra-liberal pre-art school milieu he was desperate to be approved of, hence he convinced himself he was homosexual when he was not; that’s why he’s a great podcast host, he’s very amiable—it’s also why people take advantage of him, he’s too agreeable; and why, ultimately, he agreeably self-indoctrinated into nationalist views at a low point in his life—even though most nationalists are hard nuts. It’s why he ended up embroiled in a sex scandal, just like all these male feminists who are falsely accused he did nothing—it was precisely because he didn’t tell the girl he was going to gag her, tie her to the bed, and whip her with his belt that she said he “abused her” (and better than to say, do it).
However, MW’s fluid sexual position grants him shamanic insight, the shaman inhabits the space between the masculine and feminine, the hermaphroditic space; so, rather like the sexless “male mother” Davros, Woes is a hermaphrodite—he inhabits an indeterminate space (which is why he is never entirely at home as a hard-nut nationalist). He trained as an artist and he made videos next to a candle for a time (in the dark, sacred initiatory space with the candle to meditatively gaze into—itself a mystic act, an act of seeing; or, as Woes’s fellow Scots might say, “kenning” “to ken, to know, gnosis—the awakened one, he knows because he sees with the third eye”).
Hence we have grounds to see MW not as someone condemned to play out their primary school dramas on a grand scale as “European race war” but rather as a man who is a seer; from the magical perspective, there is no cause and effect—when Woes told his classmates that “the aliens are coming and there will be a war” that is 1988, 2014, or 2027. The “war was postponed” because, indeed, the war he really referred to was postponed to, say, the 2030s—this is the magical way to consider such events, as intimations from eternal time and not unconscious psychological “traumas” to be excised.
Indeed, to flip the psychological model on the filmmaker himself: I understand he is hapa—half Asian, half European. He presents as a normative progressive liberal yet imbibes much material from the radical right—and that is because, subconsciously, he loves it; he is totally with them, yet he cannot become “Davros” himself—the more he insists a “neutral interest”, the more he is possessed by it (hence the film is not a total hit job on Woes, since the filmmaker has really constructed it to hold the reality Woes represents at bay—i.e. it’s a rationalisation, “Woes isn’t speaking truths he’s just reliving his trauma, so we can discount what he says—the playground war never happened, therefore there will be no ethnic strife in Europe,” though even rationally that doesn’t follow).
The filmmaker adores it because he himself is ambivalent about his identity, being mixed race—just like Elliot Rodger, another hapa, and his endless rants about his “British aristocratic heritage” he is attracted to the order, discipline, and hierarchy found on the radical right and, above all, their racial purity (he badly wants it for himself, but can never ever have it—and perhaps the sensation is augmented because the Asian blood also has an instinct for order and cohesive purity that is more pronounced than in individualistic Europeans). Hence he is driven by what he denies, his desire to submit to Davros and the Aryan over-race; and perhaps even, since sex involves hate and love, violence and tenderness, to be eaten by the black-clad race-purists as a “racial inferior”, such is man’s strange phantasy world—if you really loved me, you’d kill me.