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New Media

a brief rant and some debate

Thankfully this is filed in the Telegraph under ‘opinion’, or it might suggest that the rampant right-wing press is back to stay. Gerald Kaufman’s piece is, as Mark Kermode suggested on Friday, entirely fatuous. To suggest that ‘The most chilling aspect of the Virginia Tech massacre is that its perpetrator, Cho Heung-sui, a South Korean, was directly inspired by a recent South Korean splatter movie‘ is not only insensitive to the families of the victims, but also speaks to a gross and wilful misunderstanding of the landscape of popular culture. Filmmakers are not responsible for what happened in Virginia last week, and if it’s going to be suggested that they are, it’s surely about time that we held the Vatican, the Church of England, the Prophet and any number of religious institutions to account for the bloodshed across the world today. We don’t, for any number of reasons, but chiefly because as a society we’re cowards who don’t like the thought of our families and friends being assaulted and worse on account of our experiencing a moment of clear-headedness. Kaufman’s piece is as symptomatic of that cowardice as it is indicative of a politician filling empty air with ill-thought out phrases and soundbites. Furthermore, what is he actually proposing? 

Films such as 300, about the battle of Thermopylae and based not on Greek history or legend, but on a comic-book, can show images that transcend reality and, without seeking to do so, trivialise death.’

Thanks Gerald. That’ll be the same trivialising of death that results in an ill-managed invasion of a foreign state with no thought to the consequences, and then the building of a wall to separate cultural groups. Because that seemed to work so well a few years ago. He does suggest that gun control might be one of the factors at work here (and then makes the usual mistake of ducking the issue in favour of an easier target (excuse my pun) while not examining the reasons the second amendment exists in the first place), although his insistence that this is ‘god-given’ suggests that he has barely any grasp of the nature of the US constitution. God has nothing to do with it. People have to do with it. 

Elsewhere. The Guardian follows up the furore about new and old media and responsibility with a short debate between Jeff Jarvis and Patrick Barkham. At least someone is thinking. As usual, its not the Daily Telegraph or any elected member of Parliament. A week or two ago I caught a piece on the news in which a member of the public declared that academics were ‘the most dangerous people on the planet’ because, apparently, we committed the ultimate offence of daring to think. I’m happy to be dangerous and a menace if that’s the criteria these days. 


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