26.05.14

(TW: misogyny, violence, violence against women, death

The main story on the internet at the moment is a pretty difficult one for a lot of people. Yesterday in California, Elliot Rodger shot and killed 7 people after posting a video to youtube detailing his severe and terrifying hatred of women. This act of violent misogyny has sparked a massive conversation about the violence, whether actual, threatened or potential (all of which have serious consequences for women’s lives) that women face; for some, every single day.

If you’re up to it, the #YesAllWomen hashtag on twitter is worth a read, detailing the experiences women have with violence and misogyny, from supposedly minor to major. It inevitably needs to come with major trigger warnings for violence, sexual assault, physical and psychological abuse and death.

Some other interesting (but again, very hard to read) pieces on the shooting and the issues it raises include this piece on The Belle Jar about the problematic way the media has been reporting on this tragedy, especially speculations about Rodger’s mental health. s.e. smith has also written about the issue, focusing on the systemic violence that women (and indeed most people who do not identify as men) face and the fear we are constantly subjected to. Laurie Penny’s piece looks at the ‘not all men’ reaction that women often get when discussing male violence and misogyny. Beatrix Campbell’s piece is not directly about the shooting, but examines neoliberalism as a distinct form of patriarchy (though, be warned, she doesn’t engage with some issues in a particularly critical way).

Before moving on from this horrible subject, I want to take a moment in all the #YesAllWomen discussions to acknowledge that the ability to take such precautions as making knuckle dusters out of one’s keys, or (in jurisdictions that allow it) carrying small weapons like tasers and pepper spray, is not universally available to women. Quite apart from the fact that these precautions may make little difference, the US at least has a history of denying such measures of self-defence to women of colour and trans women. We have to always keep in mind the intersecting lines of identity that silence or lessen the impact of some voices in global discussions of violence.

If you’ve still got the energy for some more devastating and challenging commentary, read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ incredible long-read at The Atlantic on the case for slavery reparations in the US. If the last 36 hours have left you unable to do that right now, please save it and read it later: it is an incredibly important argument and a stunning piece of journalism. The article is meticulously researched and a lot of that research has been posted along with the final product. This interview with Coates is also worth a watch.

Still on institutionalised prejudice, but on a slightly lighter subject, this piece on colonialism in science fiction is an interesting read. I’m especially interested in discussions of political issues in sci-fi right now ’cause I just hit a very stressful story arc in Battlestar Galactica (by the wizard gods, you haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica? Go and watch it right now. No, go and read it after you’ve read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay).

Interest in the story of the nearly 300 kidnapped Chibok girls in Nigeria, has sadly (and almost inevitably) waned of late, so it’s worth reading about the deployment of US troops in Chad to assist the search, some obstacles facing the search, the political ramifications of the crisis in Nigeria and another piece from The Atlantic on the issue (the Atlantic may be my favourite site for current affairs and social commentary at the moment).

Finally, to cheer you up, Alex Casey’s blog at Flicks.co.nz on movie makeovers and why they are the worst is hysterically funny (be warned, do not read immediately before you have to work, or you may, like me, have to explain to people why your mascara is halfway down your face). If you’re a West Wing fan, have a read of this oral history of the show (Allison Janney thought that Gail was the same goldfish for seven years) and go and play with this RIDICULOUS show of nerdery, in which an uber fan has created a giant graphic analysis of the episode ’17 People’.

It’s going to be a hard week, so look after yourselves and each other.

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Serving Whose Country? The Ethics of Naturalisation Through Military Service in the USA.

The use of the military by enlistees as a tool for gaining citizenship and civil rights raises some interesting ethical questions. In the United States, people who serve in the military while living in the US on a Green Card can be eligible for fast-tracked citizenship, originally either after serving one year in peacetime, or immediately when serving in combat. A programme was initiated in 2009 to allow enlisted soldiers to naturalise after completing basic training. In 2012, 7257 service men and women became US citizens.

Guadalupe Denogean’s episode of the ‘I am an American’ video series, on gaining his citizenship through military service.

The United States has a long history of allowing naturalisation through military service and it has been a powerful tool especially by African, Irish and Asian Americans to challenge societal prejudices and gain recognition within society:

Central to military naturalization is a powerful symbolic message: those willing to fight and die for the United States are worthy of its citizenship. For immigrants historically considered “racially distinct,” military naturalization afforded an opportunity to challenge preexisting conceptions of citizenship that equated color with country.

The practice has strong ties to the concept of the citizen-soldier, a figure who fights for their country as a part of their duty as a citizen of that country. Offering legal citizenship to those who fight is seen, in this sense, as a kind of natural justice. There is also evidence to suggest that minority groups who are able to serve in the military, in societies which value military service, gain an important tool in their struggles for greater rights and recognition.

An RT News segment discusses some of the issues with military naturalisation

In contrast to the many positive aspects of military naturalisation, the tradition of allowing US residents who serve to become legal citizens exists alongside a long history of promoting a racialised concept of citizenship, showing that only ‘certain kinds of foreigners’ have historically had guaranteed access to it. It also seems problematic that those in society who may already be seen as less grieveable because of their race, ethnicity or nationality, are prompted to join the military as a way of gaining recognition, allowing more privileged members of society to more easily avoid military service. Migrants, especially undocumented ones, already experience higher levels of ‘precarity’ than documented residents and citizens, so it may be that it is easier to send them to fight (and die) in war.

Sexism and homophobia in the military may also act as limitations on who gets to be eligible for naturalisation through military service, though hopefully the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy from Uniform Code and the recent decision to allow women to hold frontline combat positions will help to begin lessening this risk. Citizenship gained through military service can also be revoked for ‘bad behaviour’ under some circumstances, a rule which most certainly does not apply to soldiers who were born in the US.

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President Barack Obama meets newly naturalised service men and women

Various measures aimed at opening up military naturalisation to undocumented migrants have been proposed in the US, raising some prickly ethical questions about coercion. Offering people with few other options the chance to risk death for a country that may otherwise deport them seems problematic, much in the same way that allowing desperate people to sell their organs on the black market is problematic. After all, the benefits of citizenship can only be enjoyed if one lives long enough to enjoy them.

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‘Demented stick-chewing cartoon villains’: Othering and the Coverage of Boko Haram.

The story of the approximately 300 girls who were taken from their school in northern Nigeria has finally begun to gain momentum in the global media, after weeks of a relative silence on the crisis.

Al Jazeera’s Listening Post 03/05/14 – first 10 minutes are about media coverage of Boko Haram

The coverage of the crisis, however, especially of Boko Haram, uses familiar tropes and narratives to frame and characterise the situation and its actors, invoking the image of the Chibok girls as ‘bravely going to school despite the danger they face every day’ much like Pakistani teenager and activist Malala Yousafzai. Boko Haram are described as ‘militant Islamists’ or ‘Islamic extremists’ in almost every story about them and while it is hard to deny that the group are indeed militants and that they invoke Islam to justify their actions, this frame is used to other and derealise not just Boko Haram, but also their victims.

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Context: A map of the attacks by Boko Haram in the last 4 years.

Judith Butler, in Precarious Life, discusses the ‘derealisation’ of certain groups of people – specifically of Guantànamo detainees – by defining them as existing outside of the bounds of humanity and what it is to be human. The Gitmo detainees – along with other manifestations of the ‘militant Islamist’  – are “reduced to animal status,” unable to control themselves; their ‘nature’ is to kill and cause suffering to innocents. Of particular relevance to the Boko Haram coverage is Butler’s description of the impact that the use of a ‘mental illness’ frame in relation to Islamic extremists can have on perceptions of Islam as a whole:

…it is not simply selected acts undertaken by Islamic extremists that are considered outside the bounds of rationality as established by a civilizational discourse of the West, but rather any and all beliefs and practices pertaining to Islam that become, effectively, tokens of mental illness to the extent that they depart from the hegemonic norms of Western rationality. 

The belief that violent Islamic groups (and by extension, Islam itself) are ‘insane,’ ‘barbaric’ and ‘villainous’ is one that is perpetuated in global media coverage and is confirmed by the representation of Muslims and specifically Arab peoples (these groups are often conflated) in popular entertainment.

There is no better recent example of this derealisation in action than that provided by the comedian and host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, in his segment on Boko Haram:

Jon Stewart on Boko Haram

In the last 30 seconds of this clip, Stewart describes Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau as a ‘demented cartoon villain’ in a sombrely-delivered statement that manages to include almost every major trope that has been employed in the coverage of this story so far:

Compared to a teenager who knows that her desire for an education could get her dragged into a snake-infested jungle to be sold as a bride by some demented, stick-chewing cartoon villain, but still gets up and goes to class every day fully aware of that danger, compared to their courage, I’d say Boko Haram is a bunch of little girls. But you know what? You don’t deserve that compliment.

While Stewart is a comedian who makes no real claims about being a journalist, satirical news shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and the new Last Week Tonight are a significant source of information for American and global audiences and thus play an important role in shaping the way stories are told. Stewart’s characterisation of Boko Haram as ‘cartoonish’ and their victims as ‘daily struggling against insurmountable odds’ (odds which are hugely overblown in Stewart’s assessment of the situation), confirms the derealisation of both groups, ignores the context and complexities of the situation and the impact of the region’s colonial past.

If the abducted girls’ lives were already unliveable and the people responsible are no more threatening than a cartoon character, then what, in fact, is the story?

05.05.14

In reaction to Lorde’s tweets about a scumbag paparazzo, the wonderful Ally Garret wrote this blog which is worth a read. Also from The Wireless is this interesting piece by Scarlett Cayford about ‘selfish politics’ and political apathy.

In nerdy things, tumblr user quantumspork has envisioned a glorious universe in which Natalie Dormer, Eva Green and Rebecca Hall play the Black sisters from Harry Potter and Kristin Scott Thomas plays their mother. I always see gifsets like this and then cry forever that it doesn’t exist in real life. Also Autostraddle is doing a series of posts on how to build a PC, which is so cool and extremely handy, as I am going to have to replace a motherboard with my own hands at some point soon.

Some absolutely glorious musical videos y’all need to see:

2Cellos covering ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC… on cellos.

Postmodern Jukebox’s New Orleans Blues cover of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ featuring Miche Braden absolutely KILLING IT.

And Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ sung in 20 different musical styles. Let me tell you, I lost my shit at The Doors.

Fun fact: that is the first time I ever heard Dark Horse. I am super behind on music now I’ve stopped listening to the radio. I hear 100% less bullshit from ridiculously offensive radio hosts, though so it’s worth it.

Judith Butler, one of my favourite thinkers, has given an extremely interesting interview with Transadvocate about her work on gender performativity and how it relates (and hasn’t in the past) to trans people. She admits in this interview that Gender Trouble did not consider trans issues and that this is a failing, while also calling out some well-known feminist thinkers who espouse transphobic rhetoric, which is a great step forward in the quest to make feminism a trans-inclusive movement. This is my favourite bit:

Sometimes there are ways to minimize the importance of gender in life, or to confuse gender categories so that they no longer have descriptive power. But other times gender can be very important to us, and some people really love the gender that they have claimed for themselves. If gender is eradicated, so too is an important domain of pleasure for many people. And others have a strong sense of self bound up with their genders, so to get rid of gender would be to shatter their self-hood. I think we have to accept a wide variety of positions on gender. Some want to be gender-free, but others want to be free really to be a gender that is crucial to who they are.

Judith Butler has also written about the politics of grievability and which casualties get to be named in global conflict and strife, so on that note, I’ll leave you with this: a list of names of the nearly 300 Nigerian girls who are still missing.

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Hopefully by now you have heard about the 234 Nigerian girls, between the ages of 16 and 18, who were abducted from their boarding school by a group called Boko Haram. If you haven’t, I wouldn’t actually be that surprised.

It’s been two weeks since they were taken and there are reports that the girls are being ‘married’ to members of the group. Tensions in Nigeria are extremely high, with women marching on the National Assembly to protest what they see as a lack of action from the government. This mass trafficking of girls is, according to the media, part of an ongoing campaign on the part of Boko Haram against ‘western’ education, especially of young women.

This evening on One News, there was an item about Jeremy Clarkson being a racist douchebag on British TV. There was an item about a road collapsing in Maryland. There was an item about a portrait being painted of a decorated NZ WWII veteran. Most telling, there was an item about Madeleine McCann, the English girl who disappeared without trace 7 years ago. There was nothing about the 234 Nigerian girls.

All of those stories were interesting and valid news (and it’s great that the media hasn’t stopped giving Jeremy Clarkson shit for being one of the biggest fucknuggets on the planet), but their inclusion at the expense of this devastating crime speaks volumes about what the western media decides to care about. The prioritising of a story about a single missing white girl (which is, of course, a tragedy that continues to haunt her family and her community) over the lives of hundreds of young women and girls, is a despicable example of the way in which the media portrays some people as just being worth more attention than others. One of the clearest factors of this hierarchy of grieveability is race.

In response to this staggering lack of interest from western media, twitter user and blogger Kim Moore started the hashtag #234WhiteGirls to illustrate the racial element to the lack of coverage:

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This #234WhiteGirls hashtag is part of a concerted campaign in social media to raise awareness of the abduction and the rescue efforts, including another hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

I think that if 234 white girls were abducted at once, the scale of what happened next would be enormous. There would be huge vigils held across the globe. People who had no connection to any of them would be interviewed on TV, crying and begging for their return. It would be a major world event, no matter where in the world it happened. We would all remember where we were when we heard about it, even decades from now.

It’s not clear what needs to be done next to help these girls and their families. There are petitions circulating in the US to challenge media and government to pay more attention to the story. There are some who suggest that Nigeria needs help with their search, and some who say otherwise. Most of us can’t do anything practical to help. But I think we can at least make sure that people know about it. Because these people have lives and bodies, minds, personalities, hopes and dreams, and they sure as hell deserve to be recognised as more than sidebars in western media. This is just one example of the neglect of huge numbers of people on this planet by the developed world and its media. The least we can do is take notice.

Update: the number is reportedly being revised up to 276 

‘Unaccommodated Man’ – categorising and un-categorising people in warfare.

King Lear, Act 3, Scene 4 (1).

King Lear, Act 3, Scene 4.

When King Lear had his famous epiphany upon a heath in the middle of a storm, he was struck by the perceived lack of humanity in the beggar without shelter or garb, without place or purpose; a man stripped to nothing but the bare requirements of living. While the “poor naked wretches”  of his speech were those who lived outside of feudal society, Lear’s description of poor Tom the beggar as barely human is reminiscent of the kinds of normative frameworks used to describe the plight of civilians in warfare, especially during the recent War on Terror.

The original actors in violent conflict, as defined by law, are the combatant and the civilian; clearly defined, demarcated categories with rights and duties associated with them. Since the War on Terror began (and in fact long before that), the labels given to people involved in armed conflict have multiplied. Prisoners of war are now ‘battlefield detainees’, civilians taking part in hostilities are ‘unlawful combatants‘ or, even more emotively – ‘abusive civilians’ . In his discussion of Just War Theory, Alex Bellamy uses the somewhat enigmatical term ‘enemy non-combatants’  ostensibly to describe the civilians of ‘enemy’ states. This term appears to fly in the face of current understandings of the laws and norms of warfare: by virtue of being civilians, these people are not supposed to be considered enemies – they are hors de combat.

Combatants and Civilians

Combatants and Civilians

If the defining actors in conflicts are combatants and civilians, the people designated these labels are the ‘Other’. These Others have been conceptualised in many different ways by scholars preoccupied with the ethics of war. Judith Butler describes them as ‘ungrieveable’ – their lives are already unliveable, they are unreal and dehumanised and because of this their deaths are not deaths at all. Kinsella emphasises their lack of agency, their inability to act as political beings, stemming from traditional norms of civilians as ‘women and children’, in need of protection and incapable of action. Agamben refers to this state of ‘otherness’ as ‘bare life’, human life that is completely politicised and is therefore apolitical.

For Agamben, the concentration camp is a physical ‘state of exception’ – the realm of the apolitical, those things that exist by virtue of not-being.  A slightly easier concept to wrap one’s head around is Ignatieff’s ‘heath’ – the space of madness and chaos that Lear inhabits when he encounters the beggar. This is a space outside of the very ordered society in which Lear lives – here Lear is not a King and Tom is not a beggar, because these categories no longer exist. This metaphorical state of exception only exists because it is excluded from ordered, ‘civilised’ life; it is a physical and ethical space in which bare life exists. A current real world example of this physical space is Syria – often described as ‘war-torn’. Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay is another.

The denizens of these spaces of exception are ‘enemy non-combatant’, the ‘unlawful combatant’ and the ‘abusive civilian’. Civilised wars are defined by their targeting of combatants and their protection of civilians , so these bare lives necessarily have to be defined out of this structure. Even when these Others do count, they are seen merely as potential lives  – lives that will become liveable after the liberating and civilising military actions of the just warrior.

The #NotABugSplat campaign aims to humanise drone victims.

The #NotABugSplat campaign aims to humanise drone victims.

While the state of exception remains unspoken and unexamined, even those attempts to make bare lives count will fail to effectively subvert these normative frameworks. A recent example of an attempt to bring the realities of drone-attacks in Pakistan to international attention reproduces the conceptualisation of Pakistanis as agency-less victims, their lives unbearable and unliveable. We can see their faces, but they remain beyond description, beyond politics; they are ‘the thing itself’.

What should I call my link posts?

I need a snappy name. The first thing that came to mind was ‘Murder on the Links’ but that’s silly and an Agatha Christie reference, so…

Anyway, here are some things you should read.

First: read this post by my friend Di. Then read it again. And again. PLEASE. This debate has been making me want to repeatedly stick forks into my temples and Di’s post is a beautifully well-written and incredibly moving response to all the BLAH. It helped alleviate the forks thing a bit too. This is also a good post on the subject from Queen of Thorns (Edit: also her follow-up post) and if you want to facepalm in a massive way, read Bryce Edwards’ piece. Be warned: it is terrible. I may write something myself on the ‘man ban’, as twitter’s character limit is restrictive to my rage.

More feministy goodness from Coley Tangerina at the Daily Blog here and here (don’t read the comments. Seriously don’t, especially on the abortion piece, they are top-level masterpieces of trolling nonsense).

For some important media critique, head over to Native Appropriations for a review of the hideously appropriative and gross ‘The Lone Ranger’. Adrienne’s post ‘Why Tonto Matters’ is also worth a read.

My favourite recent posts from The Civilian include ‘Labour proposes ban on Trevor Mallard’ (if only),‘‘If you don’t want to be spied on, hide under a blanket,’ says Key’ and ‘Owen Glenn changes mind, decides to support violence against women’. The thing with The Civilian is that sometimes it really could be the truth.

For random fun stuff head over to Twisted Sifter for the 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos Ever and a collection of genius life hacks and check out this collection of overly honest scientific methods for some laughs.

Paris Couture Fall 2013 Part 1: Alexandre Vauthier, Christian Dior, Giambattista Valli and more

Hey, so fashion is a thing that exists, particularly at the moment in Paris. It’s autumn couture time in Paris, despite the fact that it’s actually summer there right now. I feel sorry for the models. I spotted a few pics around the place and was inspired to continue fashion blogging. This mostly entails me posting my favourites (and least favourites) with commentary.

All photos are swiped from Style.com and it’s worth going and having a look at the whole shows, so I’ll include links for each section. They also post their own reviews and let’s face it they probs have more fashion cred than me. But still. Pretty things are pretty.

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Some Pop Culture Thoughts

My exams have been over for a week and a half, so naturally I’ve been inhaling TV like a bowl of spicy wedges with sour cream. If we’re being COMPLETELY honest the TV-inhalation started during the exams, in fact the exam period is generally my peak TV-watching period. I thought I would kickstart my new attempt at regular non-tumblr-blogging with a round-up of some of the things I’ve been watching recently and my random thoughts about them.

Cybill

I’m going through a bit of a Christine Baranski obsession at the moment (OMGSHE’SSOAMAZINGILOVEHER) so I watched all four seasons of Cybill on youtube. For those of you who don’t know, Cybill is a 90s sitcom featuring the apparently famous Cybill Sheridan (I’d seriously never heard of her, except about three eps in I realised she was madam-sexy-film-lady in The L Word, so there’s that) playing herself, except in a world where she isn’t famous. Cybill Shepherd (we see what you did there) deals with her flagging career as a character-actress, her two ex-husbands (one stunt man, one neurotic lawyer-turned-acclaimed-author), her two daughters (one of which, played by Alicia Witt, is the most ridiculously beautiful person I’ve ever seen) and her boozy, criminally-obsessive best friend Maryann (CHRISTINE MY ANGEL) who spends her entire life trying to get back at her ex-husband by covering his stereo in molasses. Among other things.

It’s a typical mostly banal sitcom but for some reason (probs Christine Baranski) I watched like 80 episodes of it. It has its moments of brilliance though, like Tony Bennet showing up and hanging out in bed with Cybill and Maryann. Or any time Cybill and Maryann sing. It’s also a showcase of 90s before-they-were-famous moments (featuring such Hollywood giants as Jane Lynch, Seth Green, Dot Marie Jones and that guy who played John Hoynes in the West Wing). I think what kept me watching it though were the sincere, if often forced in terms of the tone, references to what I would call ‘women’s issues’ if I were a rural vicar in sixties Britain. The show deals with things like menopause and periods, with double standards about ageing in Hollywood and its obsession with beauty.

Also Christine Baranski wears ridiculous outfits, drinks vodka martinis like water, commits criminal damage and sneers her ex-husband’s nickname ‘Doctor Dick’ every ten seconds.

The whole thing is on youtube (BLESS YOU INTERNET) so have a go. It is in no way important television, but it’s fun. Watch out for the creepy nineties-spirituality/rampant cultural appropriation though. It’s self-aware appropriation a lot of the time, but still.

The Fosters

This show is the cutest. It’s on ABC family, so it’s obviously full of cheese and is a little lacking in the subtlety department, but I love it. Mostly because of Stef and Lena, the two mums (I nearly wrote ‘moms’ there, has it come to this?!) of the Foster family. Stef is my favourite, she’s a police officer who seems to have to wear her uniform in almost every scene (kinky) and manages to be cagey and emotionally available at the same time. Lena is awesome too, if a little too willing to let herself become too invested in things. The kids are interesting for the most part: Brandon is a little bland, Jesus is such a cutie and Mariana is your typical self-involved 14-year-old with very little understanding of how her actions have consequences. This is of course complicated by the fact that her birth mother is back in the picture. The most interesting character is of course the Fosters’ foster kid Callie (did they REALLY have to call them ‘the Fosters’?) who is dark and beautiful and mysterious. I think the greatest appeal of the show is that it features a multi-racial family with two mums and some foster kids, which allows a lot of very important things to be discussed. For example, the latest episode includes a conversation between Lena and her mother about light-skinned privilege and what it is to be black in the USA which (as has been pointed out by people smarter than me) is an amazing thing to happen on US TV. Additionally to the show being great, the Autostraddle recaps are worth reading even if you don’t watch.

Hannibal

If you follow my tumblr you’ll know that I am a rabid fannibal. Now that the He-Ate-Us has begun (yes, we know, we’re out of control obsessed, leaning towards pathetic. Just realise that there’s no more episodes until next year, so it can only get worse. Hopefully not Sherlock-level worse though) I am of course re-re-re-watching the whole thing. I just re-watched Oeuf (or as the USians appear to be weirdly calling it: Ceuf. Yeah I don’t know either) and come things fell into place in my mind about that episode. (Warning: spoilers are forthcoming). The threads of the episode’s discrete and ongoing plots are expertly wound together, but in a much more subtle way than Meredith’s voiceovers in Grey’s Anatomy, so they don’t feel as moralising as these kind of theme-eps usually do. As my friend Jon would say: you can’t see the edges in this show. The contrast between Molly Shannon’s character’s attempts to make a family by violence and Hannibal’s artful manipulation of the vulnerable Abigail serves to make Hannibal all the more terrifyingly compelling as a character. Probably because although her methods are chilling, MS does what she does out of her own twisted need for love, whereas the creation of Abigail’s new ‘family’ is done entirely to serve Hannibal’s as yet unrevealed agenda. I’m not sure that any of that made sense, but you should watch the show anyway. I think it’s the best crime drama I’ve ever seen. That’s including all the British ones by the way.

Anyway, read that post of Jon’s that I linked to, ’cause it is honestly brilliant.

Top of the Lake

I’ve got one episode to go on Top of the Lake (it’s taken a while to get through it because it is so so hard to watch) and while I can see that it is brilliant, I have my qualms. It’s a great example of the New Zealand Gothic, the lake and the landscapes acting as powerful characters in the story, and the mystery is extremely compelling, but I have problems with the way it is portraying NZ. I and every other New Zealander who watches the show will know that it features a New Zealand which doesn’t actually exist. We don’t allow minors to be interviewed alone by police officers, we don’t call mental health hospitals ‘asylums’ anymore (because we’re not 1890s Britain: newsflash) and I’m pretty sure that Queenstown is not actually a drug-fueled millionaire’s playground rife with child prostitution. Also rapists don’t get treated like prisoners at Guantanamo, they either escape investigation, get prosecuted or go on to have a successful sporting career. I’m not denying that these things happen in NZ by any means, but Top of the Lake makes the South Island look like a modern AU Game of Thrones, complete with a character who is a mixture of Balon Greyjoy and Craster (Matt Mitcham, obvs) and one who I’m pretty sure is going to turn out to be the Littlefinger of the piece, perhaps with a drop of Walder Frey (Al Parker). I’m surprised that Jane Campion, a New Zealander, was comfortable presenting NZ as an incredibly backwards place, especially as I don’t think it was necessary to the drama of the show. I just hope that people who watch it (especially Brits who it was made for) don’t think that our country is actually like Top of the Lake. In fact, we are increasingly turning into the United Kingdom. This must be how Swedish people feel.

Good Wife

I’m 3/4 through a re-watch of the Good Wife (Christine Baranski, duh) and I don’t have much more to say beyond COME BACK GOOD WIFE I NEED YOU. Except: I have come to the realisation that Kalinda Sharma basically IS the girl from Short Skirt/Long Jacket by Cake. ‘I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity / who uses a machete to cut through red tape. / With fingernails that shine like justice /  and a voice that is dark like tinted glass / she is fast and thorough and sharp as a tack…’ Seriously. That is Kalinda.

Suits

Meh. If the whole show was about Gina Torres’ character then maybe I would get more into it, but it just feels to me like yet another show about a straight white male mentor-mentee relationship, but without anything different to hook me in. The fact that Michelle Fairley is going to show up at some point may be enough to keep me going, but two-thirds through season one I’m still unconvinced. I was amused by a suggestion from a work mate that Mike Ross is a young and impressionable Jeff Winger though. Think about it: they even have the same forehead.

HELLOOOOOOOO

After months and months and months (it’s been a while, OK) of not posting on really any of my blogs that aren’t tumblr, I’ve decided that it’s time to do a re-shuffle. They all still exist, never fear (for I know that my brilliance on such topics as pretty clothes and the wonderful world of retail must be preserved for future generations) but I’ve imported all the posts from Bookshop Babylon, When the Curtain Calls and my travel blog Go Places to this blog. It’s partly because the times are a changin’ on tumblr at the moment and partly because I love signing up for things. Seriously. I sign up for everything. I have like 5 different email accounts and every single one of them has its own dropbox. 

So this will be my new place for consolidating my thoughts on everything that interests me. I will still occasionally post rants about customers (yes, I am STILL sporadically working at the Shop of Dreams) and flailing appreciation of expensive clothes. I may even finish posting the photos from my 2011 Europe trip. It might even get done before my 2013 Europe trip*. 

When I have coherent thoughts about shitty things they will go here, as will my reactions to books, movies, TV (lots of TV), music etc, etc. 

So if you care about my opinion and enjoy my wit (a dry wit, which like a fine martini is best enjoyed with a West Wing reference**), follow or whatever the kids are doing nowadays. 

*Ha! Yeah right. 

**That was a West Wing reference. I do that a lot.