Of speech and space and shouting and platforms

I was truly disturbed this weekend: not so much by the letter about “free speech” as by the response to it and then, in turn, the inevitable response to the response. It set off a train of thoughts and fears, not all entirely connected, not all likely to be entirely popular. Continue reading

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Meet the Greys

I have been writing about 50 Shades – along with almost every other journalist in the UK.

It wasn’t altogether easy. No: not because the film was awful (i wouldn’t quite go that far); but because press passes were in short supply and i ended up watching it, courtesy of Cineworld’s Press Office, at my local cinema.

Mmmm! Eroticism, allegedly, on a damp and overcast Friday at Cineworld Stevenage. I think not.

The results of my viewing can be found over at EyeForFilm, both short version, and my longer more considered take on the film.

Long version short: i did not much like it, but equally, i am unimpressed by the oodles of learned scribbling that this film has given rise to.

It is a slight and inconsequential film which, without the hype afforded it, in many instances by those who hate it, would probably have sunk without trace. Instead, it seems destined to surf to box office success on a tide of infamy.

I don’t like the way the romantic elements are played – but wonder if others who dislike those have actually watched many films lately. Because control, imposition and disrespected boundaries are the very essence of what passes for romance in mainstream film.

I am puzzled by the dislike of portraying a shitty character like Christian Grey on screen: it is very clear from the way in which the narrative plays that his life philosophy is not endorsed – and his amour, Anastasia Steele does not go along with it. In other words, he’s a baddy, who is due either to change or to get his comeuppance.

Yet to read some of the reviews one might imagine the portrayal of baddies is, in itself verboten. So never again are we to see a biopic featuring Hitler or Stalin?

Equally, some reviewers seem to consider that once established, characters are fixed forever more. Are they? Do we really believe that? In which case, perhaps we should all just give up on the politics and go home, because nothing will ever change?

And i am puzzled at the insistence of some reviewers that Grey gets Anastasia to sign a diabolical contract. No, he doesn’t. That is, one way or another, the entire point of the film: sill she, won’t she?

Maybe that saves you having to read the reviews. So i leave you with a small piece of trivia that struck me as odd:

What is it with all these Greys (a squirrel asks):

Mr Grey (Jamie Dornan) is villain of the piece in Fifty Shades. Before him was Edward Grey (James Spader) who took on the dominant role in the last major bdsm film to hit the box office, Secretary. And hands up who remembers psychotic dominant, John Gray (Mickey Rourke) with whom Kim Basinger found herself briefly entangled in the 1986 film of sex and inappropriate eating habits, Nine 1/2 Weeks?

Moral: if you are invited out to lunch by a Mr Grey – however he spells it – tell him you’re already tied up!

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The depths of financial depravity

Were you cross at today’s news that HSBC, the UK’s largest banking group had, for years, assisted UK taxpayers in moving large sums of money offshore into secret Swiss bank accounts?

Or spittingly angry that our tax inspectorate, the HMRC, unlike inspectors in most other western countries, had merely washed its hands of the entire affair, prosecuting just one out of 7,000 individuals in respect of an estimated £135m in avoided tax?

I’ll confess to both. Fleetingly. Continue reading

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ITV wake to a smutty Hangover: but did they mean to?

Did ITV air the wrong version of a film over the New Year weekend leading to almost unprecedented images of an extreme sex act being carried on its terrestrial channels?

At 9.30pm on 3 January, ITV broadcast what it described as a premiere airing for black comedy, The Hangover. According to the Radio Times, this “surprisingly inventive” comedy that “doesn’t rely on cheap, gross-out laughs”, starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, is rated 15.

Viewers who watched all the way through to the end credits may therefore have been surprised to spot a series of images in which a woman performs a very explicit act of oral sex on actor Zach Galifianakis.
Continue reading

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Evans: the bullying continues

A week. That is about as long as it took for convicted rapist, Ched Evans – or one of his crew of assorted hangers on and supporters – to forget his fine words about leaving the victim of his crime alone and not abusing her further.

However, with the attorney general now asking the Crown Prosecution Service to consider criminal charges against the individuals behind the Ched Evans website for allegedly identifying the woman he raped, the conduit for their latest micro-aggression is not the website, but the pages of a Sunday tabloid. Continue reading

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The price of hatred?

Here are two stories that popped up on the internet tonight. There is no way of telling whether they are linked at all.

The two events could, after all, be no more than coincidence. Still, in these fractious post-Paris days, making incendiary posts about non-existent bans probably do little to help. Continue reading

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Whose life?

So it was, indeed, Leelah’s parents who asked Tumblr to take down her blog. Not just the suicide note which, in accordance with their own T’s & C’s, Tumblr might have been expected to.

But EVERYTHING. Leelah’s random jottings. Her drawings. Her name.

Because, of course, in the view of some, those things were never hers. They were, and are, the property of the parents – for them to dispose of as they will.

Or are they? Stand by for an interesting and possibly very interesting legal battle. Continue reading

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