Wednesday 21 December 2016

BAFTA Diversity Changes Could Also Help Us Suspend Disbelief In Storylines

Idris Elba as DCI John Luther
BAFTA (The British Film Academy of Film and Television Arts ) has just changed its rules to increase diversity in its awards and membership. The changes are designed to ensure that both outstanding debut and film nominees demonstrate that they’ve increased opportunities for minority ethnic and disadvantaged film makers by reference to gender, and disability in front of and behind the camera. Well l applaud them for efforts in the right direction. But I’m writing about storylines and depictions reflecting the life we live and not the laudable dream we wish to achieve.
I remember the day I first watched BBC TV’s Luther starring Idris Elba as DCI John Luther (years after every one had been raving it) and was so impressed by it!!
No I didn’t delay watching the hit show because I was  jealous all my women friends became weak kneed at the mention of screen heart throb  Idris Elba's   name. Now I better understand what made me feel weird about the drama, why I could not suspend disbelief to really get into it.
The real dynamics of of race 
The truth is it didn’t portray the actual workings of racial dynamics like “white privilege” on screen when the black character is cast as the senior officer with people calling him "boss" or "guv'nor". It’s not that black bosses don’t exist, rather that when they do they don’t behave with the freedom and ease portrayed by Idris and his white colleagues around him on screen. In our popular culture the black guy who behaves as if in charge is acted as a screen fantasy. It's as rare in actual daily life as hen's teeth for many reasons. Firstly, the stereotype does not exist, and secondly people just have not been taught to react with ease to black men or women as characters in charge. Most black men that have executive titles in real life appear more there on sufferance than with the authority a real leader should have. That's why all these portrayals are such a huge fantasy, a picture of the world we might like to see but have not yet actually realised. This must be shocking to some because I’ve never read anyone else say this on any medium in the UK. But it’s the truth black folk won’t tell you because they judge society doesn’t want to hear it.
BAFTA: British Film Academy of  Film and Television Arts

Shifting goal posts
I'm no shrinking violet and while for years I focussed on getting better at everything I do, the day I realised our social environment would keep shifting the goal posts to frustrate my goal strikes, I heaved an enormous sigh of relief. I knew at last I was not perfect, but not bad at all either. There was nothing wrong with ME. It was just that society was not yet ready to accept the best of me without reacting with defensiveness and the sense that it felt hugely threatened. My way of being, apparently, challenges white supremacy because I've never believed white folk innately better than me. White privilege is about subtly enforcing that falsehood. Of course, it is always denied.

Nikki Amuka-Bird as DCI Erin Gray
Real dramas not fantasy
So, I'm gagging for the drama that tells the story as it is NOW! The script that puts the black guy in charge and acknowledges that our philosophy or social working of white privilege means the character would be a snowball in a very hot room. That would be a real slice of life, and an uncomfortable but enlightening one for us all to watch. Till then I guess we must learn our lessons on this paradigm from the reality show running in America with Mr Trump and his followers who are happy to live in denial of how they are. If BAFTA has made the changes in personnel possible, I’m looking forward to the changes in output also!!

Saturday 17 December 2016

Blame Yourself If You Keep Buying The Snake Oil

When you’re buying the fifth bottle of Snake Oil it’s time to look at yourself, not blame the salesman for his product being a fraud.

Who to trust, Putin or the CIA?
When America is told by security services experts who have served both Republican and Democratic governments, some for decades, that a foreign power attempted to and possibly did influence elections to choose her leader, you’d have thought the President Elect would listen. When the same agencies questioned the inappropriate use of private emails for state business by Hillary Clinton, the then campaigning Donald Trump threatened to investigate and even put her in jail. But no. the same agencies are saying President Putin authorised or knew of the cyber-attack on the Democratic National Committee's emails, the same, now president Elect Trump, says their advice can’t be trusted. Weren’t they, he now says, the same people who claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq leading to that country’s invasion? But America, the nation that bought the snake oil from the salesman is caught in the headlights not knowing what to think, who to believe, their security services or their greatest adversary in President Putin.

She can’t blame the salesman who conned her into the first bottle of snake oil now she has bought and consumed so many bottles. This is the sales man that buys 800 jobs for a $7million kickback to Carrier Corporation for keeping those jobs in the USA, and sells it as evidence of his economic wizardry. Set this against the 168,000 jobs that were legitimately created in the USA that month without crony capitalism, and that went almost unremarked in the media or by the voters.  Only a change in America and its people’s attitudes will stop her buying more and more of a product of highly dubious worth.

If America continues to lie to herself, she remains vulnerable to further gaslighting by her new elected leaders. All the snake oil salesmen are having to do is repeat the lies America tells herself and which she so desperately fears to confront.

The biggest lie of all 

The biggest of these lies is that America is egalitarian, that she values all people equally. America says she is not racist, that her institutions are not predicated on maintaining the social economic and political superiority of any white Americans over any other Americans. But that's exactly the opposite of the truth. Any policies or activities that will deliver the prime yet  vociferously denied need to maintain white privilege there will pass muster among the masses. The nation will continue to buy the oil from the salesman as she gets sicker and sicker. The promises to “drain the swamp of establishment insiders”, to control immigration, to control abortion, to maintain law and order - all are cyphers for maintaining the established heirarchy in the USA, especially if the ostracised parties can in any way be associated with the liberalism that diminished white power in America. Many women voters went for this pitch, sacrificing their dignity on the alter of their soon to be restored ethnic superiority.  Buyer beware. Wake up. The medicine you’re being sold certainly diminishes your perceived enemies but will undermine the sovereignty, ethics, morality, cohesion and international dignity of your nation. Everyone can see America is being conned. Her enemies will enable it all they can, but only Americans can start owning their truths and lies to change this situation. 

Monday 12 December 2016

4 things I learned From Engaging With A Trump Supporter

It is in the face of ugliness that one recognises and yearns for beauty. It is when confronted by anti-value that one discerns the importance of creating value. I have learned 4 lessons from engaging with a Trump supporter, and all incline me more than ever to seek the beauty and goodness that is the potential in all us humans, for to be a Trump supporter one must abandon many of the higher aspirations that spring from our humanity. 

 They answer with questions
Trump supporters answer questions with questions leading one on a trail of disjointed issues all disconnected one from the other. At the end of the conversation you’re left empty, wondering what they really said, because there is no overarching logic or narrative that connects their thoughts. Thus, they themselves are unable to say what they stand for except on a few, mostly self-aggrandising issues. An example is when asked how they justify a dog whistle campaign that unleashed the legitimation of racism and misogyny, they won’t answer that question they’ll answer with the question, “what about making America great again?” or “why are all American jobs going abroad to Mexico?”

They see no big picture
Trump supporters being very disjointed in the issues they espouse are unable to draw a big picture of the world they will create. They are unable to connect the dots of their individual ideas to form a panorama anyone can examine as ugly or beautiful. Connected to this is their short termism in thought. They don’t consider the flow of history beyond a few years ago, and so are completely unable to draw from the lessons of history. While they know the facts of what happened before, they cannot string them together into a narrative that yield moral or other lessons. So, they’re confused when you ask them about how Hitler came to power, and any parallels they might see in the present. It’s irrelevant to them. They just don’t do “bigger” pictures.

The ends justify the means 
Trump supporters think the end justifies the means, implying that immoral acts are justified to achieve their personal goals. So, in an election it’s ok to demonise Mexicans as rapists, the disabled as freaks, blacks as criminally violent, women as fair game for predation, so long as these ideas play to existing stereotypes and get the vote out. They are a morality free zone when it comes to social and ethical values.

Extreme information sources

The final thing I learned was how ignorant they are, or appear to be. This is not because they are unintelligent, but because their human intelligence is applied to sources of information, oft repeated, that make them hold what seem to be bizarre views. Thus, climate change becomes a figment of the imagination, the mainstream media is an instrument of a conspiracy to bring them down, and Clinton is the demon that deserves to go to jail for email malfeasance she’s been cleared of by the FBI. Elsewhere, the advice of duly appointed security agents (The CIA) is shunned even when they warn of dire threats to the constitutional integrity of the united states as in Putin interfering with US Presidential elections.

The net effect of engaging with Trump supporters for the neurotypical person is emotionally bruising and intellectually draining. The former because it hurts to recognise a fellow human you want to respect is demonstrating a callous disregard for the humanity of others. And the latter because they are simply impervious to reason owing to the extreme sources from which they take their information and the shallowness of their analysis avoiding the big picture. So be prepared when you encounter a die-hard Trump supporter, it will be debilitating, though the up side is you will come away yearning for the light and fresh air of reason and humanity.