February 28, 2011

Cuture is evil

Panorama (the best investigation show on British telly NDLR), has just shown an edifying piece on the new technique David Cameron, a.k.a. The father of 'Big Society', would like to make more widespread in the country: having ex-militaries running 'tough' schools, to bring discipline into these little f*c*ers' heads.

And it's really scary: the kids have better results, discipline is now back where gangs were running the place 10 years ago. Well, don't get me wrong, it's not scary because of that – this is just the cherry on the cake, and well done to these guys for achieving that. No, what's scary is the underlying philosophy, the one that says to get kids alright, you need to train them like militaries – they've shown images of the kernel giving these sweet angels lessons on...how to shoot properly (with a real rifle and stuff). The youngsters also learn to march, for the parade; they sit quietly in the school hall and answer their names only when asked; they practise tactics and leadership in groups – just that solely the designated 'leader' is allowed to talk when they accomplish a task, such as, building a tower (with Lego). Good Lord, I couldn't survive 10 minutes in that leadership class! Story doesn't say whether the kid who has dared talking while he was not the leader has been sent to a prison cell...

Scarier, it appears that some of these kids in their early teens are more willing to enter the army than other kids...though the kernel assures us this is not the case 'they will change their mind a few years later and have no more inclination than others to join the military.' And we're told that David Cameron would be happy to have such measures extended to other schools...if that's the 'Big society' we're heading to, good luck guys to help children develop successfully in an ever changing world; good luck to help them develop their creativity (what's that?), their critical mind (uh?), their adaptability...at least, they can be obedient, and well-mannered, which are very useful qualities nowadays.

And that just connects very well with the other programmes from Mr Cameron, whose very first measures included heavy budgets cuts on cinematographic and culture creation...Will the multi-Oscar winner 'King's Speech' save the UK Film Council from being axed? We hope so, and that these awards are in line with Cameron's wish that 'the UK produces more films like Harry Potter' (omph!).

Culture is evil, my friend, 'Ordnung und Regel' must be!

And if you want to sign the petition to save the UK Film Council, that's here

June 3, 2010

Just another day on your telly

Yesterday was another fine day for the British TV: they had a tragic story to tell us all about, namely the sad story of the killing of 12 (twelve) people by one man, armed with a gun...story doesn't tell us which gun, but supposedly one that can reload quickly, by the speed at which those poor people have been shot.
This horrific story has all the ingredients of the 'good' media story: a quiet and stereotypical décor (a quiet countryside town), a huge number of deaths (plus, to add to the delight of journos and other story-tellers, a good deal of wounded), a loner gone mad after a dispute with family or friends (he was divorced, we've been told), and, most importantly, a central figure who was a simple man like you and me (a taxi driver).
So all the elements are here to keep us hypnotised behind our TV screens, watching the awful description of the attacks: how it started, where he went, the interview of a young girl who came close to her death, the images of bodies (covered) lying on the roads...The fact this does the headlines is very shocking, just because there are so many casualties, why would it be considered the main information of the night? Also, the constant repetition of the same images and facts bring the viewer to a state of disgust (I should have counted the number of times they repeated the number of death tolls, but it was probably about 8 to 10 times in 10 minutes).
And the saddest of it all is that supposedly 'serious' information programs like Jon Snow's Channel 4 News, or BBC News turn into such low range sensationalists. I couldn't stand it, and had to change channel before I'd end up puking in my own lounge, appalled at the luxury of details we were given. I couldn't even wait until Jon Snow gave us a comment onto which seemed the only interesting point 'the question of gun laws in Britain'.

So changing channels I ended up onto Alan Sugar's Junior Apprentice...At first I was interested, mainly because these teenagers seemed a lot more genuine and fresh than the usual Apprentice's crowd. For once, they didn't look like actors who had carefully learned their script (tell me I'm sceptical, but I can't believe 'normal' people can behave so comfortably in front of a camera like the Apprentices do. And I just had a look at the ones they had selected for the next season, some guys looked like top-models...very strange). Anyway, it was entertaining, and not too disappointing, up until the point when I saw one of the guys using a hair-straightener, just before going to an important business meeting...Isn't that some kind of totally media-conscious joke? I don't know any well-behaving gentleman who would dare using a hair-straightener, in public anyway...If I ever saw my man doing this, I would surely tell him, straight away 'You're fired!' and though I know some fine 'gender-crossing' men, I don't think any of them would ever dare doing this in public, and in front of a camera...guys, what do you say about this?

Well actually, this is not the fact a man used a hair-straightener that shocked me, no it was the vast shallowness of this moment, this young, 17 years old man, who is so comfortable with such an important action (when myself, at er, the double, if not more, I can hardly do a blow-dry...). So what are you learning kids in school nowadays, to use hair-straighteners, hey?

Whatever, this was just another ridiculous day on your telly, a collage of gesticulations by the media-conscious ones, those who think that 'power', 'image', 'looks' and 'status' are so important...but they're certainly not (my ingredients of happiness).

November 30, 2009

ONLY WHEN I DANCE – A documentary by Beadie Finzi

It's been some time, but I wasn't quite inspired...until earlier this month, when I made some nice discoveries, film-wise and art-wise. Probably inspired by an art fan I've met...And the latest one is this very touching documentary, 'Only when I dance'. In a nutshell, we follow the story of two teenage kids from the Rio favelas trying to dance their way out of there.
The film is inhabited by the grace and passion these kids have for their art. It also cleverly talks about Rio favelas in a positive way, avoiding cliches on a crime-ridden area. Key issues are though evoked – we for example follow the financial struggles parents face to send their children to New York for an international dance competition.

Another theme is evoked, and it's the equality of treatment a young black female dancer could receive compared to other girls. Isabela, the young girl, will finally not make it into the dancers selected for the scholarship, under grounds that she is 'too fat'. To my opinion, this is really loads of bullsh*t. Of course, in case you wonder, she is a thin & gracious girl, with lots of sweetness who incarnates ballet in a very personal way. This young and very gracious girl is just as talented as the others, but the jury of classic ballet dancing have probably a 'classic' conception of what beauty, in the world of ballet, is, so they could not conceive that a young black girl would successfully embody a female character. Because this is what these international competitions are about – selecting the most talented artists who will fit into the patterns classic ballet dancing have always developed. And their ideal of a woman ballet dancer is probably close to a thin blonde girl with straight hair...
So they gave her only the third prize. Which is very unfair, I think.

September 7, 2009

There's a thin line between truth and reality...The Fourth Wall

On Sunday Bank Holiday, I went to Barbican for the last day of that somewhat different exhibition, featuring the (mini) scandal of the Tasaday. For the record, the Tasaday, an ethnic group living in the jungle of the Philippines, were discovered by anthropologists and brought to the media scene in 1971. Reporters spent months with them, including American journalist John Nance. And then the whole region was closed by the PANAMIN, a Philippine organisation taking care of the interests of ethnic minorities, which claimed that it was harmful for this tribe to be approached by foreigners (and those from the Western world in particular).

The Tasaday were brought back to our attention in 1986 when another group of anthropologists and journalists claimed that the previous story was a hoax, and that these people who were allegedly living in isolation since the Stone-Age, who had stone weapons, wore leaves and ate fruits and yams, were in fact members of the nearest village who had been brought there by Elizalde, the Philippine politician behind PANAMIN. The guy had told them to exchange their clothes for leaves and start eating the forest products.

The exhibition used this fact to show footage of the 70's films, as well as interviews from John Nance, in particular. The aim was to work around reality and fiction, and their respective treatment by media. The Fourth Wall being that imaginary line that actors set between themselves and the spectators to immerse even more in the play.

This subject is fascinating, and raises a number of questions.

Firstly, can we set a preserve area around a tribe and therefore put it in prison, just to protect it from the contacts with more 'evolved' societies? Should we do this, as one anthropologist interviewed for the exhib stated?

What is 'evolution', is there a scale from 1 to 10, which says that Western culture in its contemporary form is the utmost degree of evolution towards which all should converge?

What are media seeking, apart from profit and coverage? Are they just interested in scoops, at any price?

And about media, what lies beneath the thin line between truth and reality? It's still unclear whether this whole thing was a hoax or not, despite some troubling facts that have fuelled the controversy over the years – and if we look at the 'suspects', what's their mobile? Did Elizalde really want to protect this tribe from external threats? Was the closure of the region not guided simply by the political embargo on The Philippines? Perhaps the alleged hoax discovery was motivated by the reject of the Philippine regime (as it happened right after President Marcos was deposed, in 1986)? Questions, questions, to which we may never have the correct answer...but for sure, it shows once again that facts and beliefs can be treacherous, so much as to fool scientists and renowned journalists, and that what you read in the press may be true...or may not.

Photograph © John Nance

July 28, 2009

La France énervée

'ça m'énerve!' – la chanson d'Helmut Fritz est de toute évidence le tube de l'été 2009. Toutes générations confondues, mes amis me la passent en boucle. Et même si le morceau ne restera pas de toute évidence dans les annales de la musique, il présente des qualités formelles – rythme & énergie, qui le rendent propre à secouer les dance-floors des Français en vacances, du Touquet à Calvi.
Mais aussi, et surtout, les paroles présentent (pour une fois) un semblant d'intérêt. En effet, mi-apologétique mi-critique des excès de la culture du luxe et du clubbing, à savoir le triangle d'or Montaigne (l'avenue) – La Boëtie (la rue) – l'Etoile (la place), Helmut Fritz surfe sur la tendance la plus pointue du moment : le ras-le-bol des Français. Ras-le-bol de ne pas pouvoir aller où on veut ('vous avez réservé?'), ras-le-bol de devoir payer un max pour tout - divertissements, fringues, bouffe-, ras-le-bol de se voir édicter des critères de beauté ou de look inaccessibles...Avec Helmut Fritz, la 'France d'en-bas' se rebelle pendant l'été...en attendant une vraie révolution cet automne?


'ça m'énerve!' – Helmut Fritz's song is obviously the hit in France this summer. All ages together, my friends play it loop. Even if the song will not make it in music anthologies, its formal qualities – rythm and energy, allow for a good dance-floor filler, from Le Touquet to Calvi.
But also, the lyrics show some appeal. Indeed, half-criticising half-revering the luxury culture landmarked by Montaigne (the avenue) – Boëtie (the street) – Etoile (the square), Helmut Fritz is echoing the penultimate trend in France at the moment : the fact that the French are fed-up - 'énervés' - with everything. Fed-up to be unable to go anywhere they want to ('Have you booked?'), fed-up to have to pay a mint for anything - entertainment, clothes, food -, fed-up to be dictated ridiculous look criteria...With Helmut Fritz, the French rebel during the Summer...before a proper revolution this Autumn?


July 19, 2009

Facebook sucks...and you too, my friend

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." once said Andy Warhol. Did the visionary producer and artist anticipate which form this fame would have? Probably not, he most likely imagined we would all be on telly...Actually, Facebook has made this true, in a much better way, as we can choose how we appear to the world, posting our best shots on the beach, at a party, at work, choosing to be witty or funny, boring or practical, enthusiast or giving lessons...and surely promoting ourselves, consistently, regularly, obstinately.
While being a star on telly requires to show my best angle to the sunlights, and to be there when it happens, with Facebook, I can create the event whenever it suits me. Today, tomorrow, or next week...But, as for television and other media, communication creates an overflow of images, words and sounds, so to be heard/seen, I have to overexpose myself – more pics, more clever notes, more amusing remarks...in fact, the more I'm a clown, the better. There's very little room, if any, for that picky thought that may not please all of my (numerous) friends.
So, in the end, instead of communicating, most of us just produce a logorrhea of words and images, saying 'look how cool/beautiful/funny/ clever...I am, guys.' A bit like in high-school, when we were so worried about the opinion our peers would have...instead of widening our perspective, Facebook makes it just as narrow as a teenager's world. This s**ks! And you too, my Facebook friend, because after all, I don't give a damn about your comment, I just want to expose myself. Is that communication?

June 17, 2009

57% abstention, but who cares?

Across Europe a mere 57% did not vote on the 7th June, but honestly, who cares? And the results of the PPE (or EPP) – Conservatives / Centre-Right parties, confirm their dominance across Europe. But who cares? To my opinion, this doesn't mean that people have voted for the right or the centre-right, but that the 40% voters who went to the polls were probably biased in favour of centre-right. Because the traditional left parties across Europe are either weakened by their internal problems, or even worse, totally crippled by leadership crises (whether it is the UK Labour, where Gordon Brown had to face resignation of 8 ministers sofar, or the French Socialistes who struggled to elect their leader last year). On top of that, or maybe for that reason, they have abandoned the debate about Europe and left it to the liberals. And that's a shame, because Europe is a reality, and thus deserves to be addressed by left parties, which should provide as strong a vision in that field as they do for national problems.

And that's how the Green / ALE / Les Verts have managed to get such high scores : they occupied the space left empty by Labour & Socialists, talking about their vision of Europe, emphasizing, rightly so, the fact that climate & environment problems could only be tackled at a regional or global level, while proposing solutions in other fields as well. And they were, in France notably, and in other countries, very successful, managing to get up to 15% votes, while traditional left parties were collapsing. They also took advantage from the fact that a number of voters traditionally inclined to the left and who take interest in European issues shifted towards the Green.

An analysis of the pre-election campaigns in both the UK & France shows how the Labour and Parti Socialiste approached the election.

The UK, first. Having opted for a UK-based vote, I watched carefully the messages broadcasted by the main parties, Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats. None of them even said a single word about Europe in what they called the 'European Elections broadcast' (as I couldn't believe my eyes, I had to double-check I'd downloaded the correct programme, and not the local elections part. But yes, it was indeed, but not rightly so, I'd say, the 'European Elections' bit). So it was only babbling about the UK politics, and how each of them would manage this country properly etc...While the Green Party talked about the role they had played, and could play, in Europe, tackling the European Commission on environmental issues (Genetically Modified Organisms, correctly labelled food packaging, toxic-free toys...), but insisting also on the role they could play for education, economy..., using the clever tagline 'You might think you know us, but...think again'. This double strategy of mentioning practical achievements, as well as relating to people's preoccupations in areas traditionally privileged by left parties (economy, helthcare, jobs, human rights) seems to have paid off, as an incremental 45% share of the voters chose them in 2009 vs. 2004.

France then. Apart from the fantastic job achieved by the leader of the newly formed Green union, Daniel Cohn Bendit, or as we call him in France 'Dany the Red', who, like the Phoenix, ressuscited from his ashes ; apart from the impact this character had on the results (15% share of the votes, #2 in France and on-par with the Parti socialiste, with 14 MEPs elected), it is interesting to see how the main parties dealt with the campaign.

Both the Centre-Right (UMP, Nouveau Centre, Progressistes – 28% share of votes, 29 MEPs) and the Green (Europe Ecologie) had simple and clear proposals, covering issues ranging from environment to socio-economics (the following are extracts of their respective campaign leaflets) : 'we will commit to creating a true industrial policy in Europe', 'we will tackle the issue of illegal immigration', 'we will re-orientate our economic model towards a new green expansion based on innovation' (UMP) ; 'create a minimum salary across Europe', 'massively invest in education, research and culture', 'prevent on a European scale diseases such as cancer, asthma, obesity, hypertension' (Europe Ecologie). Those were presented as bullet points, in a very clear presentation that highlighted them. A proper campaign leaflet from people who take the election seriously.

On the other hand, the Parti Socialiste had oriented its campaign on attacking the right, and in particular N. Sarkozy. So instead of focusing on effective proposals, it spent half of the leaflet criticising N. Sarkozy and the impact of the liberal system in Europe. While the other half indeed included a number of effective proposals, these were diluted in the overall presentation, and made the whole leaflet look like it was full of technocratic jargon, made by people who didn't really care for what they were talking about.

So what's going on here? It is well known that the representatives chosen for Euro elections are not the biggest stars of their party. As an example, Brice Hortefeux, elected MEP for UMP/PPE, will not go to Strasbourg, he has higher ambitions for himself (such as becoming Prime Minister for Nicolas Sarkozy). So is it that all these parties consider Europe is and should remain devoted to technocrats, that the European Parliament is just an excuse, that the Real-Politik is till only done in the countries? Most certainly. And this is where it matters. We, the people, need a strong federal Europe, that is not only dominated by a liberal view. And that's where the left parties should take it seriously, that's where they have a definite role to play. They obviously haven't understood it, but the people who voted for the Green 'en masse' have. Future will tell if the left gets the message at some point, instead of focusing on their short-sighted tactics only inspired by getting the votes and staying into power.

June 14, 2009

Les défourailleurs sont à l'affiche - License to kill

Are thrillers and action movies any credible today if the posters and advertising don't include an armed character openly displaying his weapon? I doubt it. Examples below clearly show that action and adventure films now have to display one or 2 weapons on the advert – with the promise attached of a massive killing spree. See Underworld, Wanted, Punisher...

Action movies posters in the 50s, the 60s or even in the 70s were not so apologetic of armed violence, and weapons were rarely displayed – 'Peter Gunn', using a visual gimmick on the logo to suggest the weapon, 'Bullit' where Steve McQueen's gun remains in its holster. Also, the advertising would focus on other action elements than the weapon itself – a chase, a fight, a car-race...

In fact the first character to advocate the use of weapons is James Bond, whose 'License to kill' provides him with a sort of calm impunity, as he elegantly assumes his killing function. He created a new trend in action movies advertising, and his current avatars are nowhere ashamed of holding death ustensils, as if they were modern-life tools.


Un polar ou un film d'aventure est-il crédible au cinéma si son affiche ne présente pas un personnage armé ? On peut en douter et s'interroger sur la place prépondérante du pistolet dans l'évocation visuelle du cinéma dit d'action, envahissant depuis quelques années d'autres genres : l'affiche du drame passionnel, du thriller, du film fantastique.
Voici Contre-Enquête un polar psychologique plutôt que d'action - ça dézingue même assez peu (dans mon souvenir) ; qu'à cela ne tienne, c'est un Dujardin armé que l'on voit sur l'affiche !

Tout à l'avenant, la promotion des films d'aventure semble devoir rivaliser avec les promesses de tueries massives des jeux vidéo. D'où cette sorte de surenchère d'armement, non pas une mais deux armes au poing (Underworld, Wanted, GI Joe, Punisher...), comme pour signifier que ça va dézinguer encore plus et de façon ininterrompue, sur le mode "rafale" du fusil mitrailleur. La mise en scène de la violence est devenue quasi systématique dans les affiches des thrillers actuels.

A vrai dire, depuis des dizaines d'années, on voit des calibres de tous poil à l'affiche des films d'espionnage ou d'aventure ; mais peut-être ces films étaient-ils ceux d'une époque où la suggestion fonctionnait aussi bien que la démonstration, où la promesse d'action spectaculaire portait sur d'autres catalyseurs visuels du suspens : courses poursuites, traques, empoignades, corps à corps, armes blanches, étouffements, constituaient les codes dominants des affiches de films de suspense et de crime.

C'est aussi que les affiches des années 50 et 70 exploitaient davantage le noir & blanc, le dessin et l'illustration plutôt que la photographie. Dans l'affiche de Peter Gunn, Detective spécial, le jeu ludique autour du graphisme (l'iconisation naïve du nom Gunn), le dessin et la composition en cases de BD, pouvaient encore atténuer l'agression visuelle de l'arme pointée vers le spectateur.

Le héros moderne qui impose le premier une posture armée inédite en affichage, c'est Jame Bond, à l'opposé de la mêlée des illustrations figurant des détectives au pistolet prudent (Peter Gunn) ou des truands à l'arme facile (Les tontons flingueurs). Son "permis de tuer" semble lui donner cette assurance de l'espion sûr de son impunité ; la jambe négligemment croisée sur l'autre indique une certaine désinvolture. Tout se passe comme si cette désinvolture et cette impunité étaient devenues mythiques, ouvrant la voie à une multitude d'avatars contemporains, tueurs élégants et à l'allure tranquille, assortis eux aussi de beautés vénéneuses.

Dans ces innombrables déclinaisons de l'image archétypale de James bond, les protagonistes des affiches actuelles présentent une nouvelle attitude : le flingue au bout du bras abaissé. Hors du feu de l'action, la signification est plus ambiguë : imminence ou issue d'un affrontement ? Est-ce que la mort a été donnée ou est-elle à venir ? Sur ce flottement de l'interprétation, l'imagination prolifère et le pari du teasing est gagné. Mais ce qui frappe le plus, dans cet instantané du récit filmique, c'est que le revolver perd sa fonction d'arme de défense ou d'arme de crime, pour devenir un accessoire banalisé, le symbole d'une violence contenue, toute en potentialités inquiétantes. Une violence préméditée aussi, celle du personnage déterminé à tirer : soit un héros préparant une vengeance ou une défense légitime, soit un méchant prêt à tout pour aller au bout de sa folie (terroriste, parrain du crime, psychopathe). Tous construisent à travers ces images le reflet d'un monde contemporain défiant l'interprétation, schizoïde : tout à la fois policé et menaçant, méthodique et prêt à vous exploser à la figure. Car s'il fut un temps du cinéma où les revolvers étaient rangés dans des holsters (Bullit), un temps où on les exhibait lorsqu'il s'agissait de faire "parler la poudre", le personnage armé des affiches actuelles ne se soucie ni de cacher ni d'exhiber son arme, lui-même ne se cache ni ne se protège. La mort repose calmement au bout de son bras, comme un ustensile de la vie courante.

April 30, 2009

De la démocratie - of democracy and other things

My last post was about the failures the democratic system has shown recently in the UK with the handling of the G20 protests. But, they can't always be wrong. Some of their achievements are amazing. I'm actually reacting to this petition that has been created on the Prime Minister website, asking the PM to...resign!


Yes dear readers, you've read it well – the PM website hosts petitions that are created by the citizens, asking him various things about various subjects. And this one, which has been created recently, has gathered already over 33,000 signatures. And is the biggest petition on the site to date. That only shows how fed up the British people are with their current government...but this is another debate, and I'm not talking here about the validity of the petition.

Just when I think about the way the man who stands in office at The Palais of Elysée, obviously controls all media and also manages to be in the news every single day, one way or the other, I can't imagine he would allow something similar to happen. Well of course, the UK and the French political systems are different, but they both belong to the same kind of government: the democratic system.
A quick look at the basics shows interesting definitions of democracy, and in particular the importance of the following guardians – freedom of political expression, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Wikipedia - Democracy
Even though there is no universally accepted definition of 'democracy', there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes. The first principle is that all members of the society (citizens) have equal access to power and the second that all members (citizens) enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.
However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated to avoid an uneven distribution of political power with balances, such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself. The "majority rule" is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without responsible government it is possible for the rights of a minority to be abused by the "tyranny of the majority". An essential process in representative democracies are competitive elections, that are fair both substantively and procedurally. Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are essential so that citizens are informed and able to vote in their personal interests.

France has a tradition of controlling TV since Charles de Gaulle , but after him the audiovisual policy has been paved with a number of comical episodes or perturbed variations – from the creation of the first private[1] terrestrial channel in the 80s, the ludicrous '5' on the pattern of La Cinque in Italy, owned y Berlusconi himself, to the recent debate about advertising on public-owned channels - loss of which, voted in 2009, will foster even more control by the government, obviously, as the French President is now able to nominate the head of the public channels.

So, with Sarkozy in power, the links between press and politics have been stronger than ever, let's look at some facts about key press groups:
Lagardère Media Active detains shares in Le Monde (15%), Le Parisien (25%); Arnaud Lagardère, General Manager of Lagardère Group, often describes Sarkozy as his 'brother'.
DI group, a subsidiary of LVMH, property of Bernard Arnault, owns Les Echos; Bernard Arnault was bestman at Sarkozy's wedding in 1996.
Socpresse - Marcel Dassault, owns Le Figaro; Serge Dassault, General Manager of Socpresse, publicly supports Nicolas Sarkozy.
Bolloré Médias, owned by Vincent Bollore, has 30% of Havas and SFP, as well as 40% of the well-known research company CSA; CSA is specialised in opinion surveys and consistently cited by French press before key elections; Vincent Bolloré lent Sarkozy his yacht to 'relax' after the presidential election in May 2007 (that was gross, if I may say so...).
In terms of TV, TF1, the biggest channel by its audience, is private since 1987, and belongs to construction tycoon Bouygues (43% capital); Martin Bouygues, was bestman at Sarkozy's wedding, and is godfather to N. Sarkozy's son Louis; Patrick Le Lay, TF1's General Manager from 1988 to 2007, and Etienne Mougeotte, TF1's editor in chief from 1987 to 2008, are both close friends of Sarkozy.

So to conclude I would just like to ask: doesn't it look like we are strongly and blatantly manipulated? Don't get me wrong: it would be extremely naïve to ignore the fact that governments are manipulating opinion, which is the way they get into power...and hold to it. All governments do that, it is part of the democratic game, and it's the role of press to prevent the manipulation of opinion, by informing citizens. But when press is controlled by closed allies of the government, isn't its freedom getting a bit twisted?

[1] Historically, the first private channel was pay-TV Canal+, created in 1983.

April 12, 2009

Fear and loathing in the City

I am still shocked at the events that happened on April 1st in London @ Bank, around the protests surrounding the G20 Summit. It can be claimed that some people have been violent, and indeed during Wednesday protests, a group of anarchists has broken into Royal Bank of Scotland and smashed windows, phones and computers. So what? That was it really, but Police have been charging on horsebacks people who were quietly doing a sit-in @ Climate Camp.

The Met has also used batons and cracked heads on unarmed people.

'Subsequently, at least 10 protesters sitting down in the street close to the Bank of England were left with bloody head wounds after being charged by officers with batons at around 4.30pm. One woman, said to be an Italian student, was carried off unconscious.' The Guardian, 01.04.2009

When the English go for a riot they do it seriously.

Moreover, London Police has used a controversial technique, called 'kettling' to pen the protest when it started getting nasty. This meant that thousands of peaceful demonstrators were left unable to leave the area from at least 5 hours. The riots were pacific but they turned nasty at some point.

What to remember from this event? Well...

  1. Met police use controversial methods and don't hesitate to charge pacific protesters. It's as if they wanted to provoke a peaceful crowd and generate disorders.

Even better, Police love charging those who just wander around. Attack them with batons, see them collapse without helping them, and then wait for them to die – unfortunately this is not a scam, but the sad and true story of Ian Tomlinson, the man who died inside a police cordon.

  1. The media were probably overrepresented at this event – when the RBS branch was stormed (below), there were more photographers than protesters, which makes me wonder if this wasn't 'staged' and organised?

  2. The G20 protests undoubtedly marked the rise of alternative media – Twitter, independent photographers, Indymedia etc...


Image Credits: John Stead 2009, guardian.co.uk