Sunday, March 19, 2006

After yesterday's rant, I decided to hit up IMDB to see what M. Night Shyamalan has coming down the shit chute, and oh my goodness, looks like he'll be writing the screenplay adaptation to "Life of Pi". I guess he got tired of thinking up his own hackneyed plot twists, and had to resort to modern fiction.

I loathe this man more than Uwe Bol, and, yes, I can confidently say that even after seeing the Dungeon Siege trailer.

Let me save you a lot of trouble by employing my "Snakes on a Plane" School of Film Titling technique. "Life of Pi", I re-dub thee

"It's Not Really a Goddamned Tiger"

If you haven't read the book, I haven't really ruined anything, if you plan on reading it for the right reasons. It's not like you needed to be told that a story about a small Indian boy who survives on a lifeboat with a starving Bengal tiger for more than 200 days at sea is going to employ the elements of an allegory. Yes, it's fiction, but we are not mentally retarded. It's a starving Bengal tiger. Children are made of meat. It is very safe for us to assume that there are some elements of fiction at work here defying a rational world, in an effort to convey the authors notions of a deeper truth. That is the basis for enjoyment. The point of reading a book, just like the point of going to the movies, shouldn't be to suffer a story in anticipation of a plot twist as the payoff.

Of course my criticism of the movie precedes its actual release. It could be great, but knowing Mr. Correspondence-School-of-Film-Dropout, I imagine the bulk of the effort put into the screenplay will be architecting the composition of events in such a fashion that they heighten the effect of a "surprise" ending. Bleh.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

(Repost from The Salon I, January 31, 2006)

There are times when I go through the various news sites, and I am simply floored by the unbelievably ludicrous events that occur daily on this blue ball of ours, and actually affect our lives. Between the over the top outrage at Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction", that has made television stations and networks in the USA, excessively weary of the religious right (case and point: The Book of Daniel has just been cancelled), and Hamas declaring it wants an Islamic state in Palestine, to keep homosexuals out (I guess an Islamist party is probably not big on freedoms)... Wow! Why is it that we love to feed our extremism, rather than our abilities to negotiate? And more importantly here, why is it that this human race of ours seems to always be looking for ways to worsen already tense situations?

Case and point:
BBC NEWS Middle East Danes face growing Muslim storm:

"Denmark has advised citizens against travel to Saudi Arabia, amid growing anger across the Muslim world at Danish depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
A newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet, one of which pictured a bomb hidden in his turban, apologised on Monday for offending Muslims.

A newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet, one of which pictured a bomb hidden in his turban, apologised on Monday for offending Muslims. Islam bans any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad or Allah."

Now, in as volatile a world as we have today, and considering that there is already a daily almost planet-wide clash of religions/ideologies (I am assuming the Danes have TVs, and International news), why would any journalist/newspaper, in their right mind, publish such a potentially incendiary carricature? Aren't there enough points or contention between Islam and the West, for there to be such a monumentous blunder?

Don't get me wrong, I would actually give my life for freedom of expression and opinion, and freedom of the press. But I also believe that professional press organizations should be mindful of the various ramifications of the topics/stories/images they publish. If there is something we have learnt, it is that the West NEEDS to inform itself better about Islam, and its Ummah. Even basic knowledge about Islam could avoid these kind of unnecessary offenses. Unless of course the backlash is exactly what the Jyllands-Posten newspaper was after... but I doubt it.

This brings me to my third point. These potentially inflamatory articles/images are not just a problem for the Muslim world, but may have unintended consequences in Europe itself, and the Western world in general. With the rise of such parties as the "Front National" in France, the National Democratic Party in Germany (NDP... if you replace Democratic by another word that starts with "S", And then you compare their campaign messages and tacticts, I start shivering), or the conservative Christian right-wing here in the USA, there is much cause for concern that isms and phobias in general, and racism and xenophobia in particular, might become an even bigger concern, than backlash from militant Islam. In Russia, numbers of racially motivated killings have doubled in the past 2 years, and all over Europe, xenophobic, racist, and anti-semitic crimes and attacks have become quite frequent. And there seems to be no real will from governments (especially the right-wing ones) to deal with this at all. And within this context, the French parliament had the @#$% to pass a law praising the positive effects of colonialism in the former French Empire. The law will now be repealed, but a staggering 60% of the French people thought it was an appropriate law. And now, to balance it out, Chirac has declared a "Remembrance of Slavery Day", every May 10th, to commemorate a 2001 law that made slavery a crime against humanity, and had angered the Right... it's appropriate, but a bit late.

So in the name of all my fellow formerly colonized African, Caraibean, and Asian people, and the blood of their ancestors, I must say the following. European (and Western) governments have to realize three things: One, they are old and they NEED us "Keffers, niggers, ragheads, sandpeople, beurs, camel-people, savages" to survive. Two, that we are poor and knocking at their door largely as a result of their colonial, post-colonial, Cold-war and neo-colonial policies, and they muss fess up to their responsibilities. And three, if it were not for us, our labour, our lands and our natural resources, they would not even be close to being the powers that they are today (And especially Africans, because if it were not for them, some say, there would be no humans at all).

And to all the Neo-Nazis, Front National, NDP, et al out there, I love you dearly as fellow humans, and I have nothing against you because of your race, and I never have. I have always been a champion for mingling of all humans, tolerance and racial hamony between all people, and that remains my core belief. But get this: you don't want to try us. White people are a minority in this world, and the rest of us has already seen how dangerous a fascist Europe could be... we will not let it happen again. Just so you know.

I am done venting. And I still wonder...

Tags: News Colonialism Islam Africa Europe Racism Xenophobia Middle East Opinion Denmark France Germany