Australian filmmakers do a remarkable job of sending up their culture and the quirks of Australians. For example, think Strictly Ballroom, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and the Road to Nhill. In the same vein, is the recent release, The Dressmaker. I highly recommend this movie: a combination of farce, drama and tragedy, set in deepest Western Australia. it is at times very funny, deeply moving and very serious. Whether intentionally or not, it takes an oblique look at the practice of removing children from the family home and sending them off to faraway schools. In this particular movie, the heroine actually benefits from that experience. My only criticism of the dressmaker is that it is probably ten to fifteen minutes too long. High on the plus side, however, is that there is not a smidgen of the saccharine and gloss that is an inseparable part of anything that comes out of Hollywood.
Another little sweetheart
Amnesty International has just come across a series of mass graves in Damascus in which the bodies of at least 13,000 executed prisoners, victims of the Assad regime, have been tossed. Amnesty claims that Mr Assad and his merry men have been carrying out mass hangings of their opponents, following extremely brief trials, more or less from the start of the Syrian civil war.
Snowflakes and free speech
Spiked, the online news magazine, has recently finished a review of one hundred and fifteen United Kingdom institutions that grant degrees, a.k.a. universities. The review was aimed at discovering what if any regulations were in place that controlled or forbade free-speech. Medical schools, art colleges and agricultural institutions were excluded from the review. Spiked employed a traffic light system to render their results more easily accessible. 63.5% of the institutions examined were awarded a red light, which indicated active censorship. 30.5% were given an amber indicating that free speech was chilled by intervention and a mere 6% got a green light: total hands off. The reds and ambers, amounting to 94%, banned certain mainline newspapers, insisted that students employed the ‘correct ‘pronoun when speaking to transgender students - presumably the latter carried banners indicating their gender status - 'no platformed’ certain speakers known to espouse controversial points of view, disallowed banter and sexual innuendo of any kind, fostered the notion of safe spaces, demanded the right to decide whether will not themed fancy dress parties could take place - tarts and vicars parties were unacceptable because transgendered persons might not know whether to come as a tart or a vicar - forbade the wearing of sombreros by anyone who was not of Mexican heritage on the grounds that doing so amounted to cultural appropriation. To this miserable old cynic, a university run on such lines is not worthy of the name for it sounds much more like a crêche.
Elizabeth Warren is a distinguished, decidedly left wing member of the United States Senate. She was prevented from reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King in 1986, about Senator Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump’s nomination for attorney-general. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, invoked some all ruling designed to prevent senators impugning their fellows. Ms Warren left the Senate chamber and continued to read extracts of the letter to the assembled press. Meanwhile, other senators continued to quote from the same letter in the house with no restriction. Scott King’s missive complained about racist attitudes demonstrated by Senator Sessions 30 years ago and Ms Warren rightly considered them pertinent to the hearings which could have resulted in his appointment as attorney-general. Senator Warren, a woman, was deemed to be out of order, whereas her male colleagues, reading from the same letter were not. Go figure!
Latest reflection: Trumpery
February 15 2017