Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmm…’

I can’t decide whether I’m doing this because a few other bloggers I enjoy do it, or in spite of the fact that other bloggers do it, or just because I see stuff around that I want to share but have neither the time nor the wit to write anything original about (OK, you’ve guessed it, it’s the latter), but today is the first in a new occasional series of…errr…stuff I’ve seen around that I want to share.

It will be, for the most part, stuff that points a spotlight on issues or attitudes in our culture to help us reflect on what Western society actually believes, and how those beliefs are worked out in practice.

Today we have two articles that probably represent the extremes of what I’ll post – one pretty deep and intellectual, the other a movie review. I learned something from both of them, and hope you’ll find them as helpful as I did.

1) The paradox of autonomy and accountability
by Jonathan Chaplin on the Theos blog.

Whatever individual reasons were at work [in the turning of blind eyes to Jimmy Savile’s alleged paedophilia], perhaps a deeper factor is that [people] found themselves caught up, unwittingly, in a deep moral paradox bequeathed to us by the cultural revolution of the 1960s, and still unresolved. The paradox arises from the simultaneous pursuit of two powerful aspirations which at the time seemed all of a piece but which in fact stand in profound tension: the demand for effective institutional accountability and the desire for radical personal autonomy.

If that doesn’t grab you, don’t bother reading the piece. If it does, and you want to learn more about how we got here, and start thinking about how we can get out of it again, read on…

2) Bond, villain
by Giles Coren on his wife’s blog (because The Times declined it).

I haven’t seen any of the last few Bond films, but had been hearing good stuff about Skyfall, so was planning on going, at some point. Having read this review, I’ve changed my mind.

There is a moment in the new James Bond film so vile, sexist and sad that it made me feel physically sick. If you have not seen the film and fear a spoiler, then look away now. Or cancel your tickets and do something less horrible instead. Like pull all your fingernails out.

Reading it, I thought ‘Yeah, but that’s pretty much par for the course with Bond, isn’t it? You know the women are just there as sex objects, and someone’s going to die horribly.’ And then I caught myself. Sorry, why would I want to pay money to see that? Why would I want to support an industry that perpetuates that (and, as Coren points out, treats it as ‘humour’)?

The scene he describes is pretty shocking – “disgusting, exploitative, 1970s-style death-porn” is the phrase he uses, so you may not want to read about it. He also uses a couple of words I wouldn’t post on this blog (which is why I haven’t posted more), but if you’re intrigued as to what he’s seen that no-one else has, read on…

Thanks @jasonramasami for the link.

So there we go, two things to make you go ‘Hmmm…’

What do you think, should I make this a semi-regular feature? Was it useful/interesting/informative?

2 Comments On This Topic
  1. Judith Barnett
    on Nov 2nd at 1:08 pm

    Oh dear! I was looking forward to seeing “Skyfall”, lots of my friends have seen it and enjoyed it. But having read such a disturbing review here I now feel terrible that I want to go and see it, and worse that my two daughters have already seen it and enjoyed it. I got bored of Bond a few years ago and wouldn’t go to see the films because of the relentless violence and lack of story-line, but I thought I’d see this one; they are films after all and so crazy that there’s no way they could be mistaken for reality, a bit like my daughters playing with Barbie dolls didn’t turn them into body conscious super-model wannabes. And anyway, “M” was a man before Judy Dench got the part!

    • Jennie Pollock
      on Nov 2nd at 9:39 pm

      I was looking forward to seeing it, too, and have seen more reviews today that have sparked the interest again, but I do feel quite uncomfortable about it.

      You’re right, it is ‘just’ a film – it’s fiction, it’s not meant to be a manual for how to live life, but as that Schaeffer’s Staircase article I linked to the other day ( pointed out, the way ideas get disseminated and perpetuated in our culture is through the arts. Of course we know that sexual slavery is wrong and we shouldn’t treat women like that, but there’s a massive campaign to end Page 3 girls because we know that what you see, especially when it is repeated frequently, begins to burn patterns and expectations in your mind.

      So all that to say, see it if you want – you’re an adult, you can watch whatever you like – but don’t become numb to scenes and attitudes like that.

      Another lovely friend (actually, Joanne Harman!) posted about this on my Facebook page:

      “I am constantly grieved over the accepted level of yuk that we allow into our eyes, ears, minds, hearts, souls and spirits without ever stopping to ask questions.

      “So from my point of view, keep asking us to ask the hard questions, by asking the questions!”

      I haven’t got the answers, and you have to follow your conscience, but if I’m helping to raise the questions, that’s my part done, I think.

      Beginning to think I should have written a proper post after all! Sorry that’s massively long!


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