24 April, 2010

Bad Aftertaste

Should really be in bed but I forgot how much this subject drags you in. I thought I'd see what I could find on our local fascist PPC. Starts reasonably enough, of course, with standard 'reasonable' man-on-the-street stuff. Some eccentric spelling and grammar, a bit of uneven capitalisation. Lots of Union Jacks, military symbols and paraphenalia. My worldview is reassured by the fact that he is a Chelsea fan (!). His favourite historical figure? Winston, of course.

Sure enough though, under the surface lurks this illuminating passage:
"...Muslim women parading in Black Post Boxes(Burkha's) & Men in Dresses, Which can be seen on the Wilton Road in Salisbury now @ 2pm daily. The No Go area's which even the Police do not venture into in Oldham, & the Continuing Gang Raping of Young Indigenous Girls by Asian gangs. Your TV & Sun Newspaper will not tell you the truth because they are state controlled..."
In any case, what really drove me to post once more on this rubbish subject was what I found on his blogger profile. If this whole exercise wasn't about a particularly nasty kind of worldview reassurance on my part, I don't know what is. Still, I'm not sure he quite absorbed the message one of his favourite films was trying to get across:

Yuck, "patriotic" music. Ultimately, when I try to explain to my Irish housemate why I'm terrified of listening to any music that mentions British history, folk traditions of any of the home nations, is fronted with Celtic crosses or references Norse origins, why I run a mile from a band if anyone so much as breathes "Oi!", or why every time I find a cool metal or hardcore band I spend ten minutes online ensuring they're kosher and not c***s, it's because of these guys.

Nothing easy about being right

You might be surprised to hear that I consider the BNP a fairly trivial part of the larger general election hype, but here goes again with another brief-ish note.

Churches Together in Salisbury hosts a debate in the city every general election. This Sunday at 2.30pm it's occuring at St Francis' church hall, and the local fascist candidate has been invited. The Lib Dems, Conservatives, UKIP and Greens will all be represented as well as independent candidate Arthur Pendragon.

Tom Gann, the labour candidate, will be boycotting the debate. I think this is absolutely the correct decision, as well as being principled and brave. I'm pleased that a major party candidate (and a fellow BWS alum!) has had the guts to do this, although I fear that it will be misconstrued - a tweet at TomGannLabour reads.
"A lot of publicity for the no platform position. Unfortunately, almost everyone thinks it's an act of cowardice or an affront to democracy"
Here, also, what he has to say in a statement on the Salisbury labour website:
"I will not be attending Sunday’s Churches Together debate because I believe it would be morally wrong for me to debate with the BNP’s candidate. This is a position I have long held and made clear to Churches Together before invitations were sent out.

The basis of democracy is that all citizens are equal and therefore equally entitled to participate in the democratic process. In a hustings debate this means that all potential voters are addressed equally by all parties regardless of race. This is the basis of a rational debate. So, although I disagree with John, Frances, Arthur, Nick and Nick about what policies are best for all the people of Salisbury and Britain as a whole, because they believe that their policies should be addressed to everyone as citizens, it is possible to have a rational debate with them. The BNP cannot do this because they do not view every British citizen as equal. There will be people in the room on Sunday who the BNP do not believe have a right to be there.”
Clearly, I hope the people of Salisbury will actually read his rationale. Unfortunately, in such a strongly Tory seat this will probably get spun. Mr Gann will also lead an anti-BNP protest outside the event explaining in person his view. He'll be alongside activists from Hope Not Hate, and also members of Churches Together - this was not a unanimous decision! Please, if you live in/near Salisbury and support Tom's views, attend!

It is right to deny the BNP legitimacy because they would happily exclude valid citizens from such debates and public life using racial dividing lines. It is unreasonable to enter into debate with those people. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech - which is a right to expression, not publicity.

I'm upset at even one vote going to the BNP in my hometown. How awful to think that the Very Rev June Osbourne will be inviting these monstrous mouthbreathers to comment on our schools and hospitals while a key participant stands outside. How naive to think there are no repercussions at the ballot box when you give publicity to fascists, however inept they may seem.

Quoting the event's organiser, Rev Scrace, it absolutely "would be a better meeting with him in it." But then, that's not Mr Gann's fault.

22 April, 2010

Now you're evil, now you're ordinary

Just for the sheer I-told-you-so value of it all, just for a further condemnation of BBC balance, just for the sheer awfulness of it, this is what it means to put the BNP on TV and radio. It means that during election season they start appearing in round-panel discussions, like the one this morning on BBC radio 5live. Admittedly, it was pretty clear this morning that the people of Luton abhor the BNP. But it also meant that Victoria Derbyshire, chairing the debate, had to make the following proclamation.

The reason that the BNP are here is because they are a legitimate political party. 6... [angry crowd] I'm sorry... This is a democracy... They are a legitimate political party. They are a legitimate political party and 6 percent of voters who turned out at the European elections voted for them. You may not like their policies, it is your right to say so.

Followed by the BNP's spokesperson for repatriation or concentration camps or whatever getting the last word on denying his party's racism, and having a jab on the Iraq war. All for the sake of balance.

03 April, 2010

Swingin 'Til The Girls Come Home

I watched my first director's commentary. I don't know why it took me so long when I've always been curious. Something about uncertainty and the idea of 'dead time.' Something about re-watching a film, but not watching it fully, watching it only for possible added insight.

There was really only ever one candidate for this honour, if I'm honest:

This coming just after my chronological Spike marathon, so I was completely ready to get into the mind of Spike Lee. She Hate Me was a film I just totally didn't get in 2004/5, I wasn't convinced I hadn't dreamt it. It was the first film of his I saw, too. Now maybe it does make sense. Slightly. There are so many threads to this film, if only because it's so unraveled. I think I enjoy this film, I'm definitely fascinated by it.

Anyway, an interesting bit. She Hate Me is a real glorious mess, and I don't really like that this seized my attention. But equally, it's the (perceived?) confused and controversial sexual politics portrayed in the film that most of its fierce criticism is rooted in. So. Here, Lee starts off talking about the technical consultant who helped him run a 'lesbian boot-camp' for the female cast:

"...Now, by law I cannot ask anybody their sexual preference so therefore I had to assume that all the women that were auditioning for the film were heterosexual, so therefore I needed someone to inform these actresses and so, Tristan running the boot camp really immersed these actresses into the world of lesbianism, and had field trips and stuff like that so I was not even part of that. And one of the most important things that Tristan told me, early on was she says 'Spike, there's no way that you're going to be able to make a film that's going to appease all the lesbians in the world' and so that was a very, for me, a liberating thing for her to say, because right away I understood that [that] meant that lesbians, like african-americans or any other group, are not one monolithic group, so I was not going to be able to make a film that all lesbians were going to like, and I'm glad she said that.

Before the film came out we had various screenings, advance screenings for lesbians in different areas and different centres around the USA, and it was really split down the line, 50-50. There were lesbians that loved the film, there were lesbians that hated it. But it was interesting that the lesbians of colour liked the film more than the caucasian lesbians. Tristan and I were trying to figure out why this was. I just think that, for a lot of the caucasian lesbians, they couldn't get around the element of penis. I guess that was a stumbling block... There's that school of people that think that any lesbian that's caught within 1000 feet of an erect penis is not a lesbian. And there's this other school that says "Look, y'know, you can't be as hard-line as that." So really it was divided along the penis. The penis was the dividing stick. Amongst the lesbians, that's where it was divided upon. On the almighty penis!"