Archive for the ‘(All Things) CULTURE’ Category

With the fiftieth anniversary of the My Lai massacre, it freshly occured to me that the harrowing subject of My Lai actually also sheds some light on the reality of the decline in real journalism in the modern age.

I would assert that you can track the decline in the integrity and purpose of mainstream journalism by tracking the standing of a specific journalist named Seymour Hersh.

So, firstly, why is Hersh regarded as such an important journalist?

Well, it was a piece of investigative journalism by Hersh decades ago that exposed the war crime committed by US forces in My Lai in Vietnam. The My Lai massacre was the mass murder of unarmed Vietnamese civilians (somewhere between 347 and 504 people) by American troops in South Vietnam in 1968. (more…)

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Human beings aren’t just getting greedier, but stupider.

That’s according to Professor Stephen Hawking: and, really, it doesn’t seem like a particularly shocking statement or commentary.

Just simple observation seems to indicate a rapid stupidification process going on all over the place, for a whole host of reasons and manifesting in a whole bunch of different ways.

You see it in society. You see it in people. You see in politicians and political discourse. You see it all across social media. You see in the entertainment industries. You see it in the White House. I’m not even entirely sure when it started to happen – but we appear to be fast-heading towards the comedy-Dystopian future envisioned in the cult movie Idiocracy. (more…)

I haven’t seen the Black Panther movie yet; but I’m looking forward to it.

T’Challa, the Black Panther, has for a long time been one of my absolute favorite comic book characters – and I’ve been glad that his mythology has been given the cinema treatment: and that it appears to be doing so well and generating so much conversation.

But, amid all of that conversation (much of which, rightly, is focused on the subject of the first entirely black superhero movie), one thing that probably won’t be discussed is the subject I’m going to cover here now: which gives me a rare opportunity to talk about both my love of comic-book mythologies and my interest in real-world geo-political conspiracies at the same time.

This isn’t an article about the film or even about the character’s history. Rather, it’s about a specific perception I have of the Black Panther mythology and how it relates to particular real-life North-African nation that I’ve written a lot about in the past – specifically Libya, and more specifically the Gaddafi-era Libya.

Now, obviously, I’ll need to justify this – and I will. (more…)

The sudden and untimely death of the Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan made for another sad start to another year, with the loss of another great, iconic rock star of the last two decades.

Dolores, who was found deceased on January 15th in a London hotel room, was only 46.

As I noted at the deaths of both Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland, it has felt like many or even most of the best or most important musical voices from my personal favorite era of music have had short lives. (more…)

Is The Last Jedi the ‘worst Star Wars movie ever’? Possibly. Even probably. But what does that even mean?

Needless to say, this is my provisional review of The Last Jedi.

Writing this review – and thinking all of this through – has actually been a form of post-The-Last-Jedi therapy for me. And I needed that. A much longer version of this review can be found here. (more…)

Every few Christmases, I tend to re-read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as the book has always had a hold on me ever since I first read it as a child.

When I read it as a child, I had no real social conscience or understanding, of course – I simply enjoyed it as a Christmas story. As time has gone on, however – and particularly in the last several years – it has become more obvious how socially and morally relevant Dickens’ story still is.

It was reinforced again a few days ago when I was walking down my nearest high street.

The shops were really busy, the streets were crowded and there were Christmas lights and stuff everywhere. But there was a particular point at which I had a vivid moment of perceptual clarity, where it freshly occurred to me just how unmeaningful and fake so much of this milieu was. (more…)

As Episode 8 of the Star Wars saga hits cinemas and adds a new chapter in the mythology of the galaxy far, far away, here’s a timely revisit to all the existing films in the epic, magical universe Uncle George made.

Even die-hard fans have mixed feelings about the various films, particularly in regard to the prequel trilogy, which has been excessively and mostly unfairly maligned. But here is a loving and critical look back across cinema’s greatest saga, with the added power of hindsight and greater perspective.

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There is something that occurred to me ever since seeing The Force Awakens for the first time. It’s a theory based firmly in the mysticism and esoteric nature of the Star Wars mythology that has always been there.

And I want to lay it out here – before people go to see the new film.

As the next chapter in the Star Wars film saga sees general release, I’m taking a last chance to bore everyone with my juvenile fan-boy theorising and wide-eyed analysis: and, in this instance, to explain why I think there’s a hidden story in The Force Awakens and that it wasn’t entirely the film we thought it was.

For anyone who’s not particularly a Star Wars fan, I apologise – for what is going to read like a lot of rambling, geeky nonsense.

I’ve posted this theory elsewhere too; but I wanted to make sure I shared it here as well. I can’t say, of course, whether The Last Jedi will validate any of this or not. But you will need to rewatch The Force Awakens after reading through this – in order to test the argument out.

An alternate title for this could be ‘ANAKIN SKYWALKER WAS IN THE FORCE AWAKENS AND WE DIDN’T NOTICE’. (more…)

I noted a few days ago the similarities between the late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

We noted that the unsettling footage circulating on the Internet and some news channels of his death were eerily reminiscent of the brutal murder of Gaddafi in October 2011.

And we also noted that Saleh (pictured above with two other casualties of the Arab Spring, Gaddafi and Mubarak) had other similarities to Gaddafi in terms of his decades-long rule, his carefully nurtured relationships with the Yemeni tribes and factions that allowed him to keep order and stability in the country for so long, and how he – like Gaddafi – fell victim to the ‘Arab Spring’.

Something else Saleh had in common with Gaddafi had been a belief in the ideas of pan-Arabism and a particular admiration of President Nasser in Egypt, who, as it happens, was also a major inspiration for Gaddafi. (more…)