The biggest party turned out to be the election event itself

Election nights are becoming events almost as big as the World Cup. I sat in to watch the results come in with a few beers, snacks and cigarettes. I was having myself a real personal political party. With the election resulting in a hung parliament and all the elections that have taken place recently, the election event is turning into an annual one more like the Superbowl or Eurovision Song Contest.

The run up to polling day had a few main narratives. Will the Tories march onwards towards the destruction of welfare and the NHS or can Corbyn swoop in to save a new look Labour? Will the Tories keep the ship steady and steer us through the tough Brexit situation like they did austerity or will Corbyn with his weak leadership and sympathy for terrorists but lofty dreams sneak the young vote and tear the country apart?

The UK was not hogging all the political limelight. Former FBI director James Comey was testifying to the senate about the Trump administration. Bars all over the USA were getting into the spirit by offering free drinks every time that Trump tweeted during the testimony. I’m not sure if Trump did tweet in the end. I have been too busy trying to keep up with the rest of my own life to follow all of the worlds dramas. Maybe I am shirking my duty to stay informed but I can only keep up with so many depressing events every day. If I started to follow that too, I wouldn’t have time to stand in front of my mirror telling myself that everything is OK and that I am a good person. But then, I am probably just a weak millenial, beta-cuck, liberal who does not really want to be a liberal because it is not cool anymore; “Conservatism is the new punk rock.”

With all of these events, politics is becoming the new thing to do. Advertisers are now using activism to sell their products rather than sex. Maybe this is representative of the new psyche of modern man; rational discussion is now more important than primal urges. However, the election result coverage did not feel like this. It felt more like the results of a public vote on who the new leading characters would be on your new favourite TV show: real life.

The night began with exit polls showing that the Conservatives had lost their majority and Labour had made large gains. The information was presented with graphs and opinion from former politicians-turned- journalists. The coverage was so fast that there was barely any time for thought. We were treated to constantly changing and moving segments. They jumped from constituency to constituency, reporter to reporter keeping us up to date with the changes. It felt like the news coverage was moving faster than the news itself. With the minute b minute history unfolding before us it was hard to believe that this election was supposed to decide the political landscape for the next few years. The relentless speed by which the coverage kept us up to date about not that much happening protected a hidden vagueness. I was not that sure what all the coverage and opinion was supposed to tell me but I did come out feeling like I knew more about markets, investors, the EU, the pound and the NHS.

The analysis, punditry, talk of “strategic mistakes” reminded me a little bit of Match of the Day. As a relatively uninformed citizen I was grateful that the coverage echoed a medium that I could relate to. As a citizen who is trying to become more informed about the political discourse that I live within and am affected by, I was very grateful for this. The coverage had me hooked. I stayed up all night to learn, to become better informed even though I knew that the lack of sleep might greatly affect my ability to function the next day in a way that would not affect my employability in the future. But I continued in defiance. History was more important than me, I concluded in the most self-righteous way possible. At one point I had the strange realisation that my vote could decide whether someone could work in a job that I was in no way even close to being qualified to doing.

Highlights from the night included the tantalising – as David Dingleby put it – prospect that Nigel Farage may have to get back into politics if his Brexit was threatened by these events. It seemed UKIP were being relegated from the political landscape and that their Brexit run was a one-off. A bit like Leicester or Liverpool. Although the latter have never actually won the Premier League. I can now hear the Liverpool fan retorting with the undignified, “we have had more than one Premier League title challenge.” When Nick Clegg lost the seat he had held for twelve years it felt like a one-club footballer playing his last game ever in front of an away crowd; the reception was respectable.

The final result seemed to be that young people, with their underdeveloped amygdala’s, had greatly affected the course of this election. Whether it is historic or not can only be seen over time.

Maybe the biggest outcome of this vote might be that suffrage should be withdrawn from those under the age of 28. Theresa May may turn out to be the biggest loser of this election as it was her decision to call for this election which has cost her the majority that she and her Conservatives had enjoyed.

The biggest winners on the night are the TV exec’s who – if the trend that people are becoming more interested in politics keeps up – will be rubbing their hands together with glee. They seem to have stumbled upon a hit show that requires very little investment in the way of production costs. And if events keep rolling the way they are, there will be plenty to stay tuned in for.

Posted in Uncategorized

Batman v Superman vs Daredevil

Seeing the runaway success of Marvels cinematic Universe, DC have decided to launch a franchise of their own. Whereas Marvel have taken a slow(ish) approach to the creation of their universe by testing the water with solo films for each of their main characters which formed the foundations for team-up adventures and a wider cross-film narrative, DC have plunged into their universe head-first, putting many of their most famous characters into only the second film of the whole franchise which has been mapped out for the next six years. At the same time that DC unveiled its centrepiece for its bigger plans, Marvel have released season two of Daredevil on Netflix, the follow-up to their highly successful season one which just shows Marvel’s ability to innovate in their quest to dominate the market.

After a mixed response to its predecessor, Man of Steel; Batman v Superman was announced as a sequel to much excitement. A further announcement added the ‘Dawn of Justice’ part to the title of the film and at this point it was said that this film would launch DC’s Justice League as a rival to Marvel’s Avengers. Many felt that this seemed a bit rushed and stunk of a desire to cash in on the current popularity of superhero films and the initial excitement about seeing two of cinemas biggest characters square off subdued. After a teaser trailer, excitement grew again as it created a belief that DC and Warner Brothers might just pull this off. Unfortunately, it would seem that the thirty second teaser trailer was the pique of excitement as subsequent trailers and, indeed, the film itself seem to have killed the Justice League before it has even begun.

I tried to watch the film before I read any reviews but after watching the trailers felt that this would only be disappointing. In the end I did sort of like it. But not for reasons that you might expect someone to like a comic book film for. In a way, I feel like I have to offer two reviews for this film. I will begin with a ‘classic comic book film’ review and present the second review later on.

Under the ‘classic’ criteria for a comic book film, it is a shambles that just reflects Warner brothers’ and DC’s desire to cash in quickly, making the whole plot look a bit rushed. There are good bits of course. I like Ben Affleck’s Batman. He is older and much more hardened than other versions of the character. This version is poignant in that after twenty years of fighting crime Affleck portrays a character whose different personae seem to be growing more indistinguishable from one another. This is understandable an early scene shows that his parents were shot dead in front of his face and there is a hint that his close friend and son-like ally, Robin met a horrific demise that he might feel responsible for. The idea to continue after the events of Man of Steel where Metropolis had been destroyed was interesting and served as good motivation for Batman to take down Superman. By the end of the film, however, they sort of misused these interesting ideas to prove my suspicion that this whole film franchise is being made up as it goes along.

One of the main criticisms comes from the fact that the film-makers fail to create a belief that the two title characters really do want to fight. The fight itself was pretty good to look at. It definitely looked like some men were punching each other up the face and all but it was the lack of tension building that made it anti-climactic. In sharp contrast to this came Marvel’s Daredevil. Marvel have received much praise for their universe building. They build characters over time and their motivations seem much more believable because of this. So, daredevil received much praise as his reasons for wanting to punch people up the face were something we could believe. This season, the show-runners went one further and gave its title character a moral dilemma: is punching bad men in the face enough to stop them doing bad things or should they be shot?

This moral dilemma was introduced when Daredevil is confronted by a new character. Frank Castle, aka, The Punisher, was not your average plot device, it is said. He was a well crafted, snarly but sympathetic one. After watching his family get torn apart in the crossfire between several different gangs, Castle decides the only course of action left is to shoot those responsible for pulling the triggers. And with this setup begins a long narrative about how one attains justice; do we beat the crap out of bad guys or just shoot them? By the end of the season, the threat to the city becomes so great that debate about the ins and outs of justice takes a backseat so that our main hero can ensure the survival of an unwitting public. It seems that the question of whether it is morally OK to kill does not matter when one feels that his extinction might be imminent. Perhaps that was the point.

The depiction of Frank Castle garnered much praise. It was referred to as the best screen adaptation of the character yet. Unlike Daredevil, the main supporting character from Batman v Superman did not attain much praise. I would agree that Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor does not deserve much praise. Not in the traditional sense, at least. Eisenberg reportedly stated that he was not a fan of comic books before getting the role and it looks like he carried that disdain into filming. The whole time it looks as if Eisenberg is on a one man mission to point out how ludicrous it is for an actor to play a comic book character by going on to be so hammy that I thought this film was a spoof. This is where I would like to offer the second review of the film.

The key to the second review relates to the presence of Jesse Eisenberg. His performance was so bad that you have to believe that his best performance happened behind the camera where he somehow managed to convince director, Zak Snyder, that he was giving a good one. This performance, if ever seen, might deserve an Oscar. I struggle to believe that Snyder or the production team could have allowed this to happen. Surely there are auditions where they could have snuffed out the caricature-like portrayal pretty early on? It was so bad that it seemed like someone who could not act was playing charades and they had the task of playing a cookie, weird, evil genius, but that person felt patronised by the task and was not afraid to let it show. I like Eisenberg’s acting. I am lost for ideas as to how he got it so wrong. Which leads me to my reasoning for doing a second review: maybe DC and Warner Brothers have set up their universe as a piss take of the whole superhero genre. Maybe their lack of humour reveals an incredibly dark and incendiary one. DC want to do their movie universe in their own style. They do not want to copy Marvel’s quirky, well-planned and humorous one that has made shit tonnes of money. Perhaps Eisenberg’s overly dramatic, silly, yet destructive performance portray exactly the direction that DC and Warner Brothers want to head in: down the shitter.

Batman v Superman portrays either a naivete or a disdain for its audience. If the filmmakers intended this disdain, I feel that it portrays a sort of Brechtian quality. It’s main characters portray a detachment from their actions. Batman easily breaks his old golden rule of not killing without batting an eyelid. Superman seems more concerned about the problem of being misunderstood than helping to make the world a better place like the historical Superman. I have read reviews where people have talked of being furious that such great characters have been used in such a way. They have taken the film-makers apparent inability to make exactly what they wanted to see in their heads as evidence of the film-makers intent to harm. There is a sort of moral outrage about the film which itself is tragic but hilarious. It is for this reason that I think the film-makers deserve a lot of credit as they have done something which art is, perhaps, supposed to. They have provoked a reaction which reveals something about our current Zeitgeist.

The fact that Batman v Superman has received a lot of virile abuse because it did not give compelling reasons for the main characters’ violence becomes more interesting when contrasted with the praise and admiration given to Daredevil for its depiction of violence. The calls for fake violence to be more real is very shocking when one considers the very real violence that has taken place around the world recently. It is strange that we analyse and probe for reasons as to how our fake violence can so miss the unspecified mark when all we seem to do when faced with very real violence is give a rather bewildering “isn’t it awful,” wait for something else to happen, then move on.

What does our reaction to these different franchises say then? That we do not mind violence as long as the reasons for it happening are presented in a narrative? Is that why the violence in Daredevil seemed more real and praiseworthy? It is because of the bombastic, over the top, detached violence of Batman v Superman that I think it is superior. Of course, it could be said that the film-makers never meant to present their product in this way, and I doubt that they did, but this actually makes it an even more pertinent essay on our relations to violence today.

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Posted in cinema, film, Uncategorized

Absurdity and Apocalypse

This year has been a strange one. It is one that is very difficult to make sense of. There have been terrible tragedies and worse reactions to these tragedies. Political figures seem to have taken on satirical personae and with the increasing amount of social media the world seems like one big reality show rather than actual physical reality. Add to that the impending environmental doom and we definitely have not had a great year. It is definitely a recipe that makes it difficult to make resolutions for the year ahead.

How does one begin to reconcile their desire to exist against this apocalyptic backdrop?

Our individualistic, consumerist society would suggest that you spend, spend, spend. Get what you can get for as little as you can give. Get it now while stocks still last. Get it today because their probably will not be a tomorrow. Pack as much into the moment as you can because as the doomsday clock ticks down, there might not be that much time left.

Others might turn to religion and hope that when this earth is a spent force they can catch the first rapture out of here. Until then keep your head down and do not get into trouble, or preach the gospel you believe in.

Then there are extremists who believe so heartily that what they want is so right that they do not care who they harm to bring about those circumstances, making apocalypse a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Needless to say, not everybody falls into these rather crude and broad categories. But one thing the generalisations above and most of us share is that we have some reason, other than just living, to live. We have created a cause for ourselves.

It is as if we cannot accept that our lives are just as important as that of the trees or dust. Ultimately our lives do not really matter. As time goes by we will end up forgotten. The universe does not perceive us and is utterly indifferent towards us. The only thing that can truly perceive us, is ourselves. The absurdity here is that we are the only ones who can perceive ourselves yet we desire to be perceived.

A lot of us cannot accept this absurdity and dismiss it as nihilistic. And perhaps it is nihilistic to say that there is no meaning outside of ourselves. But then, we are the purveyors of meaning and so we can decide for ourselves if nihilism is negative or not. And I choose to believe that the fact that I will die and be forgotten is not a negative thing. I might even go as far to contend that thinking that it is a negative is born out of narcissism.

I feel that a full acceptance of the absurdity of life can bring one to a more full appreciation of living. The fact that my life will end does not make it meaningless, rather it makes every moment of it vital to me. Rather than trying to secure for myself some future that may or may not exist I am living now. Rather than considering what has been or what could be, I am more interested in the seemingly infinite, indifferent universe. There is enough wonder out there to keep one occupied for a lifetime.

Posted in absurdity, apocalypse, behaviour, life

Problems with Authority

There is a sign at my workplace which says, “please report to reception when leaving.” I work in the reception of a 55 acre tourist park. This sign is actually aimed at drivers who are allowed in to the park to carry out various activities but the amount of visitors who see this and report to me that they are now leaving is quite astonishing. What is astonishing about it to me is the fact that they are so ready to submit to the authority of an arbitrary sign. What is more astonishing is my own feelings when people report to me that they are leaving. I feel a great sense of control and I guess I enjoy this because I have not yet requested that the sign be adjusted to convey the correct information.

It is amusing to me to think that some writing on a bit of paper is authority enough to convince people to go out of their way to be obedient. It has a certain charm, I suppose. Most people who obey the sign probably have a belief that rules are in place to make sure that things run smoothly and the authority it explicates is necessary for the smooth running of the park. But, I would like to point out that sometimes (perhaps, even, a lot of the time) authority is not necessary and might even be harmful.

A good example of how authority can be dangerous is the Milgram experiment. The experiment was designed by Stanley Milgram in an attempt to understand more about obedience. The experiment was carried out by a teacher and a learner. The teacher asked the learner various questions. If the learner got the questions wrong, the teacher was supposed to teach the learner by shocking him. The teacher was instructed to do the shocking by a person in a lab coat (the authority figure). Every time the learner got a question wrong, the authority figure told the teacher to raise the wattage of the shock until it eventually reached very dangerous levels. Shockingly (pun intended) every teacher followed the instructions given by the authority figure until at least 300 watts of power were being pumped into the learners body. Of course, the learner was not actually being shocked and was in on the experiment the whole time.

The experiment showed that people seem to be willing to follow instructions without question when an authority figure tells them to do so because they believe that the are being relinquished of any responsibility for their actions. “I am only doing my job,” one might say. This type of behaviour was referred to as the agentic state of behaviour.

This state of behaviour might be all well and good if the authority figure is obviously good and just, or harmless, as is the case with the sign. But what happens if the authority figure is not good or just? The Stanford prison experiment shows the effects that having authority might have on the people given it.

The experiment was designed by Philip Zambardo and it aimed to understand how conflict can arise between prison guards and inmates. Zambardo picked 24 men who were judged to be mentally stable and healthy. He split them into guards and prisoners. The experiment that was supposed to last two weeks was ended just six days in, when Christina Maslach (who Zambardo later married) was astonished by the moral depravity inflicted upon the prisoners.

The experiment showed that the prisoners seemed to go along with the experiment, despite the degradation experienced, because they felt like that was just their place in the world. It also showed how the power of authority can cause, seemingly stable men, to lose their grasp of morality.

Does this support the old adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely?” Would it be fair to suggest that, even with the greatest intentions, when one is given too much power, they are unlikely to be able to make the best decisions for those they are in charge of? If power does corrupt, and we are doomed to follow that authority agently, where are we going to be lead to?

Thankfully, we are not doomed to blindly follow. There is another state of behaviour which I think we would be very wise to start exercising. The autonomous state of behaviour is one where people take responsibility for their decisions and actions. We have the power to challenge the authority and rules that are not beneficial to us. Challenging authority should not be seen as an act of rebellion. It should be viewed as necessary. It is not only necessary for those who obey the rules but it is necessary for those tasked with making the rules so that they can make the most informed decisions. Surrendering ones autonomy to another is not a wise choice as we may well be giving another too much power to handle.

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Posted in anarchism, authority, behaviour

Let’s just enjoy it while it still exists

It has been a while since I last watched the news for various reasons, but the last time I did, I watched the ITV evening news on 16/09/2015. On this episode of the news, the main story was that of the events taking place at the Serbia/Hungary border.

The Hungarian government were not allowing thousands of refugees to gain access into their country. Rioting then ensued. The reporter for ITV news then went on to explain that these refugees had created a problem between the Serbian and Hungarian governments because the Hungarian Government was blaming the Serbian Government for not controlling their border, whilst the Serbian Government said that it was unacceptable that the Hungarian police forces sprayed water onto their territory via water canons. An act, it was implied, that could be viewed as hostile.

I found it slightly humorous that international politics had been reduced to squabbling reminiscent of that between two children fighting over whose turn it was to do the dishes. But then, I was quite squarely, and inconveniently, slapped by the realisation that this was real life and that thousands of people (who are referred to as refugees) are suffering on a daily basis.

I think that is one thing that has been sorely missing from any coverage of the refugee crisis: the acknowledgement that these are actual, real people who really do need help from their fellow man. Even the naming of it as the “refugee crisis” implies that this is a crisis for the refugees solely. I would contend that the issue is bigger than that. This is a crisis of the human soul. How have we gotten to the point where instead of acting to help those in need, we question the motives of these people. Can their motives be any more than just wanting to escape the horrors that had previously fallen upon them? What does it say about us that we could even view such actions with suspicion?

The coverage of this particular incident was quite shocking from my own perspective. There was a suggestion that these people were pouring out across Europe creating problems wherever they went, like everything was fine before this all happened. The report ended with the reporter reminding us of how great Britain was by agreeing to let some of this lot in, despite the obvious downside of it. It all felt a little bit patronising. If Britain really is going to help, should they not just go and help them? If I were to call the hospital because I have broken my leg, they are not likely to turn around and say, “that’s great. We will have a bed ready for you when you get here.”

Since 16/09/2015 my own viewership of the news has decreased because of my own lack of free time. Last night (29/09/2015) I had to watch Channel 4’s news programme because I did not make it back in time to watch the humorous ITV version. Channel 4 got me going right from the off. There was talk of explosions and war. It was a really exciting episode ahead. By the end of the hour I was actually saddened that it had ended. It pulled me through a roller-coaster of emoticons. It was nice to feel alive again.

I had previously noted how ITV were dealing with the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn on 16/09/2015 by discussing his “new approach” to British politics rather than presenting what was actually being said. Channel 4 on 29/09/2015, this the occasion of Corbyn’s first speech to the party as leader, had an actual discussion with a live audience as to whether they could support a leader with a beard, to which the audience replied, “if the beard has the Labour values, then we cannot see why not.”

The most interesting part of the news was when they showed images of Barack Obama meeting Vladimir Putin which resembled a rather horrifying episode of “Come dine with me,” where in the end, instead of rating their evening out of ten, they had to decide whether to plunge the world into nuclear war or not, which plunged me into an episode of existential dread where I realised that no matter what I do, I do not really have all that much control over my fate, because at any moment the heavens could conspire to drop the bomb.

I laugh to keep from crying and I think the news coverage reflects this bemusement. Rather than trying to get to the bottom of what is actually going on in our world, there seems to be a consensus that, “we will just have to try and make the best with what we’ve got and try to enjoy it before it all just blows up in our faces. Let’s just enjoy it while it still exists.”

# Another topic that did not quite fit the narrative of the above article:

On 16/09/2015 ITV news did a report on the proposed “dislike” icon for Facebook which should have been titled (because of the way they presented it) “What happens when you give misinformed idiots who do not know the basic norms of decency on how to communicate politely too much power.

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Posted in coverage, news, politics, refugee

Living in bad faith

When I speak of “bad faith,” in this instance, I am referring to the existential use made famous by Jean-Paul Sartre. Here, acting in bad faith is to act inauthentically by rejecting your own innate freedom and adopting values and ideals because of societal pressure. Think of a waiter who always goes that extra mile to make a customer feel welcome and like they are being well looked after. One might say that he is the ideal employee. A hero of the nation, doing his duty and paying his way. A hard-working, law-abiding citizen. For Sartre this waiter was incredibly guilty of living in bad faith because he seemed to be acting as the “ideal waiter” rather than just being himself, and therefore, was consciously avoiding the reality of his own freedom.

Today, many of us are encouraged to act in bad faith. It’s bad enough that one has to rent their body out in return for the tokens that they use to feed and shelter themselves, but they are now expected to do it with a smile too. This can be tricky for any of us who fall into that horrible category of being aware that you are alive, with thoughts and desires of your own but also not being in a strong enough financial position to be able to live the examined life.

For example, lately I have been feeling like I am only living to pay the next bill. I am guilty of living in bad faith because to stay alive I have to complete my function in as satisfactory a fashion as possible (this level of satisfaction is decided on by my employer) so that in return I can attain credits which allow me to gain access to resources, such as food and clothes and shelter. I do not like my job. I do not like the façade, or act that I am expected to portray every day and I am aware that I am not living authentically because of this. But then, what am I to do? Quit my job? If I do, then my biggest problem will not be trying to live authentically, rather it will be to just stay alive.

This disconnect between living how I would like to and how I actually do brings with it a desire for rebellion. A desire to lash out at those who dominate my life so much. These acts of rebellion are of course very small and usually unrecognised by anyone but me. This week, to feel a little bit like I was in control, I googled “landlords bastards.” That will show them, I thought. To my surprise, there were no pages found. Surely this is a cover-up. I also recently fantasised about putting a few bricks through the windows of estate agents, past and present. Of course, I am not sure how much this act would actually express my own agency, as, if I had not been in a position of being dominated, I would probably not freely choose to act in such a way. Although, I’m not likely to do that anyway because I am a good, law-abiding, hard-working taxpaying citizen and I buy into that as it seems to be the only sense of pride I can afford. The other problem with carrying this action out is finding a brick that is not already owned by somebody else.

The reason I looked up “Landlords bastards,” is that recently I had to move house again because my former Landlord decided he wanted to make more money. Instead of working for his money like the rest of us are expected to, he just decided to make me pay more. I left. I have since found a new Landlord. This one has not been much better than the last. Not only did I have to spend two days cleaning the house before it seemed hygienic enough to sleep in, I was then patronisingly told that I had to give them a guarantor because the application (which I paid £30 to do) deemed my employment not steady enough to guarantee that I could give them money every month, even though I had already paid my deposit and first months rent up front.

Surely I cannot be the only one to despise the Totalitarian reign of a Landlord and his very own police force: estate agents. Perhaps I am overly sensitive to the idea that I pay more than the cost of monthly installments on a mortgage to someone who has taken out a loan of taxpayers money just to buy a house and then rent it back out to the taxpayer at more than the price of a mortgage so that he can then use it as collateral on another house, pushing up prices and making housing more unattainable for working class people, continuing the cycle.

I can hear a few retorts; “people who rent would not be in a financially strong enough position to pay a mortgage, so the wealthy are doing them a favour by renting.” To this I say: I am not sure that this is necessarily the case. If the wealthy did not create a premium on housing then the cost of homes and mortgage payments would be lower, allowing the financial restrictions to be lower so that hard working people can afford mortgage payments and have security and a much easier life.

“Restricting the amount people can buy is restricting freedom. That’s fascism!” Perhaps, but the amount that the wealthy can buy ends up dominating the lives of the less well off to such an extent that it exerts a Fascism of sorts over the less wealthy. The people who have to pay rent end up working not only to pay for their own way in the world, but also that of Landlords and Estate agents whose only job is debt collection really. (They do not actually produce anything of real worth to society.)

It is this dominance, when exerted fully on a person that makes him happy to live in bad faith. It is an attitude of gratitude which seems strange to me. It is strange to me because I do not view a job as an opportunity to be grateful for. I see it more as something you have to do because someone decided that they owned everything and for you to carry out your natural function of living, you have to do something for them first. If I choose freely to live by my own ethical code; by my own agency and inclination I would probably end up starving and eventually dead. We are living in a time where resources are so dominated by a very few that to live according to their will is almost impossible unless one accepts that choosing freely is more important to them than staying alive. So, if one cannot conquer this fear, he is condemned to live in bad faith, which is another free choice.

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Posted in housing, life, philosophy

The News.

I have a self-set quota of one article a month. This was set as a motivational tool because I tend to be lackadaisical. This month, however, I have struggled to write an article because of some deep seated writers block. I prefer to call it that rather than a lack of talent at least. Abstract ideas remained that, as I could not find the words to express myself, which of course begs the question: if you cannot find the words to express your ideas, how much of your ideas do you really understand? But, that is a topic for another day. Instead, I would like to thank one sitting of ITV news, London for giving me enough material to help me keep my goal of writing one entry a month intact.

It has been a long time since I watched a news programme of any sort. I stopped watching the news as it tended to fill with anger and agitation (again; that is an article for another time), but tonight, being as bad as my need was for something, I caved and observed the ITV news of London. Now, I should point out, I am not from London. I just happen to get their regional news by some glitch (that might be another article).

The show led with a story that, since 2012, over a thousand Londoners have been referred to the government’s “Channel” counter-extremism programme, including a three year old. Yes; even a three year old. I was waiting on some criticism, “how can a three year old be a terrorist?” “what is the criteria to get on this list?” “this list cannot be accurate” but no criticism came. Instead the fact was just repeated, “a three year old is a potential extremist.” Of course, seeing as they are a news programme they are only giving us the details, rather than showing us a viewpoint.

It was repeated until the next story came along: should Boris Johnson pay his fine for giving his wife a backie on his bicycle? A fine which can reach up to two hundred pounds. They did not answer that either. They are impartial observers afterall.

The next story was about some little tent looking sheds that had been built onto the sides of some buildings to give the homeless somewhere to stay. It was dealt with in the following (abbreviated) way:

News Lady: “we know that homelessness is a very difficult topic to tackle because there are so many ways that someone can end up homeless, but is this a good start?”

Homeless shed builder man: “Yes. These are not five star hotels, but it is a start.”

I was trying to give an unbiased report on the news but I thought I should point out the following:

1. There are not that many ways that one can end up homeless. You end up homeless by not having a home.

2. I don’t think anybody has been calling for five star hotels to take on homeless people.

3. Homelessness could probably be tackled quite easily if the right measures and funding were put in place.

4. I know that point 3 might sound very vague and could be construed as quite a sinister statement with the right context.

Following the ITV London regional news came the ITV national news showing the news that ITV deemed important enough for the nation and not just the region that their previous programme had been made for. I did expect the news about the three year old extremist to enter the national consciousness but it did not make the cut. I suppose it was just a study done in London, though, so perhaps it has little importance to the rest of the nation. They cannot put a three minute segment about something that happened only in London into a half hour programme that is supposed to inform the nation about national issues.

You can imagine my surprise when a story about some noisy cars that were causing residents of London to complain made the national news. I was left completely baffled and really did not know what to think. Again, though, maybe I am doing ITV news a disservice. Afterall, they are a news outlet. There aim is not to give me a viewpoint or thoughts. They are only supposed to inform the public about what is going on in an unbiased manner. And they did that. They did that almost to the point where they sounded like they were not really sure what was actually happening in the world.

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Posted in deadly serious, humour, news