Friday, 22 July 2011

Norway (L)

 Quite frankly I am still in shock from seeing the images and news footage from the bombings in Norway earlier on today. It brought back all the horror from the 7/7 bombings in London for me to be honest, and that really hit me hard. Unlike everyone in the western world, I feel no emotional connection to the 9/11 attacks. I understand their political and cultural significance on not just America, but also the entire western world, I think what happened was completely unjustifiable and inexcusable, it makes me feel sad for the people yes, what happened was a tragedy but at the same time... Well, first of all, I was just a little kid when it happened, my Dad made my sister and I watch it with him, I have vague recollections of him not letting us leave until I started crying because of the 'film', he had to explain this wasn't a film. So yes, it made me sad, but I've never felt scared on a plane or anything.
 On the other hand, I was eleven when the 7/7 bombings took place, it was my final primary school sports day, as a chubby, unfit child this was something I didn't enjoy anyway. Unbeknownst to me, my Dad was running late that morning once he arrived at Paddington station as part of his daily commute, this seems irrelevant, but it's important. Slowly, trickles of news started to filter through from the ladies in reception that something awful had happened in London, everyone else out on the field of course had no clue, but some of the women whose husbands also worked in London started crying. Of course, due to the mobile network's overload and subsequent crashing, no one had any direct news from their loved ones, all we knew was, as the  facts started to appear, was that my father's tube train had been bombed. Thankfully he had missed his train, arriving on his platform literally as it drove away.
 I do think though, my connection to 7/7 is, whilst heightened in intensity by my father, also largely unaffected by it. It took place in both my capital and favorite city, it came the day after I watched processions on television celebrating the world cup. But mostly, there were less people involved. The fewer the people, well, it keeps them as people, not just some horribly sad number (yet a number all the same).
 That's why Norway really affected me, I could consider them as people, not just a statistic, and my heart goes out to each and every person affected by the absolute worst humanity has to offer <3

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

 Last week I was lucky enough to go to London and watch (my personal favorite) the Shakespeare play 'much Ado About Nothing' starring the critically acclaimed David Tennant and Catherine Tate as Benedick and Beatrice.
 I had been looking forward to this as soon as I got the letter home from school about the trip. I had seen various  adaptions of the play through several films but never a comedy and never a live performance.  'Much Ado...' has always been my absolute favorite (although admitting only after Romeo and Juliet...) so understandably I was incredibly excited.
 As far away from the Elizabethan era as you could get, Shakespeare's famous play was set in 1980s Gibraltar, leading to a wonderfully extravagant, tacky, party atmosphere evident throughout the entire play. Seeing the play 'live' brought the many comic aspects of the play brilliantly to life, making it side-splittingly funny and incredibly real. Seeing such talented actors making the emotions felt by such a wide range of characters come to life was riveting and I could honestly barely look away. In all honesty, the whole play had me glued to the very edge of my seat the whole time and, despite having studies the play for quite some time now, I found myself seeing it in a completely different light.
 However, I couldn't help but think there was too much of a focus on the role's of Tate and Tennant. Their captivating wit and charisma, combined with the prominence of characters Benedick and Beatrice gave the whole thing an added lease of life. It made me reconsider how I viewed the characters and certainly made me view Beatrice as less academic; yet at the same time I often felt I was just watching their partnership as Donna and The Doctor from 'Doctor Who' with added cigarettes and an eighties pop backing track. Undeniably, the audience was captivating, but where they really watching Shakespeare? Or were they just watching two iconic television stars?
 Any well covered work will be full of different takes and interpretations, Shakespeare is perhaps the best known example of this. Yet when I watched a film adaption of 'Much Ado...' starring Kenneth Branagh as Benedick I never once mistook him for Professor Lockhart, despite being a fan of his role with the second Harry Potter film. This was of course, inevitable. The cult following of 'Doctor Who' combined with the mind-blowing popularity of both Tennant's and Tate's roles within the series meant it would be difficult to disassociate and the huge amounts of people now taking an interest in Shakespeare following their involvement is a huge blessing for the literary world, I just wish sometimes that people could just separate actor from playwright and just enjoy Shakespeare.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

'Don't get raped'

Three simple words that, at first glance seem an obvious statement. The tone of the command indicates copious negative consequences if disobeyed, and the life-ruining, catastrophic effects of rape, or any other form of sexual assault, are of course undeniable. Yet, in the context of which it is used the most, it is a warning; warning someone to not allow their body to be violated in one of the most degrading of ways.  But if you can prevent it from happening (as is implied in this context) it also indicates some degree of personal blame, that somehow, to some extent, rape is the fault of the victim.
 This is not me talking about the ridiculousness of blaming women for atrocities done to them by others. I hope it goes without saying that I wholly disagree with those who blame women who wore a short skirt, got drunk or smiled at the perpetrator then being blaned for the vile things that were forced upon them. I think to blame someone for something evil done to them by someone else is just horrendous and totally inexcusable. No, what really bothers me is that it is girls told this by their mothers before they go out.
 I highly doubt any boy has ever been told on his way out 'don't rape'. It upsets me that I live in a society where I am told to not let bad things happen to me, but the bad people will never have been told to not do it. I find it distressing that I will potentially be bringing up children one day, surrounded by people who think that a person is capable of stopping themselves being so horrendously assaulted.
 It has no potentially positive outcome either, we're trying so hard to abolish this so-called 'glass ceiling' between the genders, but at the end of the day, society as a whole is preaching for the women to sort themselves out? By placing the blame on the victim we are just going back in time, by dealing with a situation like this we're allowing a criminal to potentially get off without punishment, or at the very least without as severe a punishment. It also appears to me as potentially detrimental for effectively supporting the victims of rape, women who have experienced such a hellish experience are surely not going to get the support absolutely necessary for recovery if society as a whole puts them even partially to blame.
 When did it come to this?  To be perfectly honest I want out of this despicable, immature way of thinking that, when it comes down to it, no one agrees with. It horrifies me. When did society get so wrong?

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Cambodia

Arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it (along with most of the world to be perfectly honest) has always been somewhere that I wished to visit. With friendly people, vast, exotic jungle landscapes and copious amounts of ancient Buddhist statues and temples it seems to be a tranquil haven and so different from anything dreary Wiltshire has to offer. Yet despite the beauty, Cambodia is haunted by a dark past, by some of the most extreme, yet also bizarre violence the world has ever seen.
 The infamous Khmer Rouge was something I've known about for my many years now, I remember the impressed look on my lower school history teacher's face when I showed not only an awareness of the atrocities but could also almost flawlessly describe what happened. Bits of books and clips of documentaries, as well as numerous radio programmes on the matter had all helped to give me knowledge about such grim happenings which few people really seem to know the extent of. One film I had always meant to watch was the groundbreaking 1984 film 'Killing 's Fields' based on a Cambodian journalist's experiences of the genocide.
 Honestly, I think it was probably the best film I've ever seen. It showed some really vile, nasty things, for example there's a seen when some children suffocate a man with a plastic bag which was one of the most horrible things I've ever seen. I've seen a lot of footage from different events which were very nasty, but never with children as the perpatrators before so that was something horrible. It hit me hard, it showed some horrendous things, yet weirdly it's inspired me even more to pursue a career in journalism. I just feel like it is something that is made for me, I really can not imagine myself doing anything else.