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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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.

OH MY WORD

They’ve made a movie of For colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange. LIKE ACTUALLY. This choreopoem was the first thing I ever read for uni and I seriously think it changed my life. The movie is called simply ‘For Colored Girls‘ and features, well a whole lot of fabulous African American ladies. 

While I feel a little anxious about what they’re going to do to the poem, I’m glad that maybe more people will read it as a result.
Buy it from here now and read it. 
DO IT.

The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

Just got back from seeing The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, possibly the weirdest film in the history of film. It was directed by Terry Gilliam, of Monty Python fame and it does have a slight Python-esque feel to it, but it’s much weirder than Python. It follows a travelling ‘magic’ show around London, lead by Dr Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) with his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole) and some others. I don’t actually remember their names, which sets the tone for the rest of this review. They come across Heath Ledger’s character hanging by the neck under a bridge across the Thames and then some weird shit happens. 


That’s basically it. They hadn’t finished the movie when Heath Ledger died, so they do some cool stuff with a couple of other actors (Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell etc) to finish off the role. The acting is really good, especially, of course, from Christopher Plummer and surprisingly from Lily Cole, who it transpires is not just a pretty face. The effects are amazing, different from anything I’ve ever seen before, and this movie is worth seeing on the big screen just for that. The first half was good, not amazing, but good. The second half was just too weird. So weird to the point of being absolutely pointless. It was so weird that you just lost touch with what was happening. It all had to do with wagers with the devil, the whole faust thing, and the downfalls of immortality. Also the need to choose one’s path and the ramifications of those choices. 


It would have been better as a mini series I think, with a little more time to play around with and breaks between episodes, maybe six parts. It would have been an award winning, life-changing mini-series as well, like The Singing Detective, or Angels In America, a mind-blowing, fascinating journey of evil vs who knows, the epic sort of showdown of ancient foes, which I’ve only really come across in Darkwater Hall by Catherine Fisher when I was a young teenager. 


This movie could have been so good, but unfortunately it is just average. Cool effects, good acting, but very little substance.