Friday, 28 February 2014

#Unwatchable: Should Social Media Websites Censor Extremist Images?

Syrian extremist severe a thieves hand as punishment for stealing.

This image is copyrighted by Twitter. 

To all who are familiar with social media websites, including Twitter and Facebook, it is more than likely you have been exposed to explicit and graphic content. This may have been voluntary or, you simply could have been scrolling through your updates when you witness the shocking mutilation which was documented by a series of live tweets.

A swarm of extremist Syrian Islamist militants decided to share with the world the revolting lengths to which they use to punish a man for stealing. According to dailymail.co.uk, the amputation took place within the "northern town of maskanah, near alpeppo" and was requested by the victim himself as punishment for his sins.

The images from the gruesome events where live-tweeted by the group, which was then retweeted by several social media networks and channels. Even more shocking, the Twitter accounts were identifiable which would have allowed an online audience to follow the events of this macabre act.

Thankfully, the images have now been removed from Twitter and the accounts associated suspended.

I have no doubt these images would have become viral and many people would have to be exposed to an act of forced removal of ones hand. Unfortunately for those who may be squeamish, there does not appear to be any rules against the uploading and sharing of graphic extremist pictures on the internet.

When social media sites have an audience of millions of dedicated users from across the globe, should we really be exposed to images in which show a man who has been blindfolded, his hands are held down on a wooden table by rebels who lay a large wooden slab to keep the target still. A militant approaches wielding an elongated sword. The following "one handed selfie" showing the blood splattered table of which his now severed hand is.  I think not! (...unless you're the type of person who likes #bloodandgore)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

What Countries Count Homosexuality as a Crime?

When you hear the word 'crime' various images of rather immoral acts of theft, arson, murder flash before your eyes. Well, there are 78 counties listed by The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association which count express your love for another human, who happens to be the same gender than you or simply expressing your sexuality along side unethical crimes, which include terrorism and rape...

Here is a condensed list of some of the countries features:

Africa

1 Egypt
2 Ghana
3 Kenya
4 Nigeria
5 Zimbabe

Asia

1 Afghanistan
2 Bangladesh
3 India
4 Pakistan
5 Sri Lanka

Americas

1 Barbados
2 Dominica
3 Jamaica
4 St Lucia
5 Trinidad and Tobago





Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Uganda's President Signs Anti-Gay Bill

New law could lead to life imprisonment for homosexuals in Uganda.


Yoweri Museveni, the current president of Uganda has officially signed a bill which punishes the citizens of the African country for leading a 'homosexual lifestyle'. This includes gay sex and relationships which can lead to life imprisonment. Not only is this new bill a breach of human rights but will also lead to extreme cases of violent homophobia and segregations amongst those in Uganda.

Despite increasing pressure from Western countries within the EU and the US, President Museveni has decided the new anti-homosexuality act, which allows citizens to ostracise their fellow men and women on suspicion of being gay, homosexuality is not natural and therefore, he is pleased to take action on the gay community.

This is not the first time an anti-gay law has been passed within the African continent, just a month ago, Goodluck Johnson, Nigeria's president passed a similar bill which lead to mob attacks and violence against gays. It is only a matter of time before the innocent members of the gay community also become victims of legal injustice.

The new law states first-time homosexual offenders should be sentenced for '14 years' in jail. If an individual continues to express their sexuality, have homosexual relations and activity, a life imprisonment is served for 'aggravated homosexuality". This includes consenting adults, acts involving an underage minor and during the occurrence of one individual is infected with HIV.

Unsurprisingly, Uganda's new law has lead to worldwide condemnation from countries throughout the EU. The US has also responded to the ridiculous new law, White House press secretary Jay Carney stated  the law is "abhorrent". The US has began investigating Uganda's new anti-gay law which "may affect Washington's relationship" with the east African country, according to Obama himself.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague also commented in a statement yesterday

 
"I am deeply saddened and disappointed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda has been signed into law. The UK strongly opposes all discrimination on any grounds. We question the Bill’s compatibility with Uganda’s constitution and international treaty obligations. There can be no doubt that this Bill will increase persecution and discrimination of Ugandans, as well as damage Uganda’s reputation internationally.

We ask the Government of Uganda to protect all its citizens and encourage tolerance, equality and respect. We will continue to press the Government of Uganda to defend human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds."


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Cuban Fury - Review

Nick Frost stars as a former child salsa prodigy in an average rom-com

By Gregory Robinson

To many audiences around the world, although this film will most likely be seen by UK audiences only, there are some films which can have outlandish and creative plots; with various dips, twists and turns to engage the view to stay in their cinema seat and watch the beginning, middle and end of the film they paid £7.50 for. (or maybe because they actually enjoy the film...).

Cuban Fury is by no means an unwatchable, disappointing film to which I should try and retrieve the cost of my ticket. The plot is extremely simple and is basically follows Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz) as an overweight and unassuming engineer Bruce Garrett who falls in love with his American boss played by Rashida Jones (Parks & Recreation) who also happens to have a soft-spot for the 'dance named after a dip' . Miraculously, Bruce and Sister happen to be former champions of Salsa and in order to impress his new love interest, decides to refute the ideas of his former childhood bullies and reclaim his love for Salsa, all while his main nemesis (all underdog movies require one...) Played by Chris O'Dowd plays a rather formulaic, overtly sexual frustrated and, quite frankly, annoying obstruction in Bruce's pursuit of his cotton candy crush.

The screenplay is pretty flimsy and one-note, almost to the point where you can predict each character's next line. On the other hand, Kayvan Novak, who plays Bruce's very own source of optimism steals a couple of scenes and ultimately provides the first genuine laughs (and most...) in Cuban Fury.

The main message of Cuban Fury is to not let close-minded, big and brash bullies; whether they are school students or fellow employees to prevent you from achieving your dreams. We must all be proud of our sequined shirts and Salsa with pride.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Kids Review

Controversial, Explicit and Shockingly touching.

Released: July 28 1995

Directed by: Larry Clark
Written by: Harmony Korine
Staring:  Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson.
Running time: 91 minutes

By Gregory Robinson
 
 
In all my years of watching films; the good, the bad and the outright weird, I fail to remember a motion picture with such a disturbing opening and closing scene ever. On one hand, I must commend Larry Clark for kicking off this teen drama in such a blunt and unrestrained way, as well as leaving viewers with a horrifying image of the aftermath of a drug-and-drink fuelled party, leaves little to the imagination of what life may have been like for bored teenagers in the 90s.
 
"Kids"  opens with 16 year old Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) seducing a pre-pubescent 12 year old girl. They kiss profusely, with the teen crooning her, whispering sweet nothings into her ears. I guess this would make any girl (or guy) feel like they are the only girl (or guy) in the world, a notion I certainly have no experience in... anyway - we soon realise that this is not a heart warming representation of teen romance, but a mentally tainted and perverse young adult (who has a striking resemblance to Christopher Mintz-Plasse) taking advantage of a young girl for kicks.  
 
 
To make the whole scenario worse is the AIDS pandemic, which was a major concern for the sexually active at this time. The medical society had just begun to try and take control of the immune-system attacking virus. Furthermore, Telly meets his best friend, Casper (Justin Pierce) waiting impatiently to congratulate his pal for 'de-flowering a virgin'. Obviously, the close buddies have a lack of understanding on sex and the outcomes which may arise from the... duty.
 
 
This is only made more evident by one of the more clever moments the screenplay offers. A contrasting view of sex told from the perspective of horny, drug-filled guys and even hornier (and much more experienced) girls, as they recollect their sexual experiences such as 'losing their virginity at 15 at the back of a car' and 'the nasty taste swallowing a man's... penile fluid'.  After which the film changes direction slightly...
 
Initially, I though this Larry Clark's "Kids" was going to be an all drinking, all smoking, sex fest (which it is, really) but at the heart of the film, there is a touching and possibly relatable revelation of a teenager, Jennie (Chloe Sevigny) discovering she has the HIV virus. Despite only having sex once, with, you guessed it! self-proclaimed virgin-deflowerer Telly. This rare down to earth scene is cut with Jennie's friend who has had unprotected sex in every body part penetrable who receives the all clear.
 
Underneath the opaque layer of teen-angst, there are hints at other social issues relevant during this time. Telly, Casper and their crew taunt and heckle a homosexual couple which brings forth the issue of homophobia. Many believed during this time, and during this decade, that HIV and AIDS are a "gay man's disease".  Even though it is not explicitly mentioned, it wouldn't be a surprise to discover this group of stoned youths believed the same, all whilst one of their ranks was a sufferer.
 
The audience is also treated to a visit to Telly's mom's house who is struggling with raising his new baby brother and is strapped for cash. Whilst her exposed breast is gawped at by Casper, she refuses to lend money to Telly whom she believes is searching for a job. (this is occurs before the tampon scene which I will skip for your benefit...)
 
You're probably wondering how "Kids"  ends... the gang are at a house party, empty bottles splayed over the floor and the wrecked furniture and cigarette butts are only a semblance of the disorderly gathering. Telly has persuade an innocent, young girl to sleep with him (unknowingly passing on the virus) whilst Jennie collapses onto the couch after being fed a pill. Casper wakes up to find her there and, well, "takes advantage of her". Unbeknown to him, she has been diagnosed with HIV, which is transmitted sexually.
 
"Kids"  is the type of film which will be etched into your brain for a long, long time. It is not the type of film you would watch again, or casually show other 'kids' the dangers of safe sex. I guess the message of the film is to practice safe sex (and to not be so damn gullible when a guy is obviously only after one thing).  When thinking about a lost cause like Telly, his life is sex, he is sex and sex is all he can do. His life is commanded by obtaining a young woman's innocence to satisfy himself in a world which appears to offer him nothing. Drugs and skateboards only add more to the toxic mix of a bored teenager.
 
Before you get any ideas, not all teenagers are like the teenagers in "Kids" and never will be. The "Kids" of our generation may be caught up in being "followed", "liked" and "double-tapped" on social media but not everyone is the same. And I'm sure Mr Telly would agree.
 
Check out the official trailer:
 


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Dependent Alien

Thoughtful Thursday


We all like to think of ourselves as independent - a one-some, a diamond in the rough, or our very own haven. But do we really depend on ourselves as much as we should or could? confusing, right? Don't worry, this post will not be a philosophy lesson or a trip into the psych of human behaviour and what not, just a tale to tell.

The clouds were crying tears of pain as I rushed down the narrow stairs for break. The joy I feel on Wednesdays because I finish early in immeasurable. Who knew it was still light outside this time of year?! when you're stuck inside a classroom for an hour and a half, time seems to tick...tick...tick... Anyway, I rushed down stairs because something special was about to happen. An exciting prospect, a messiah had come to town and I was going to meet him, I was going to greet him, shake his hand and tell him my dreams and ambitions. Well, actually this 'messiah' was actually a journalist, author and documentary film maker. "holy shizzle" I thought to myself as I was trampled and squashed by the hoards of hungry and hormonal teenagers in the corridors. The man (no, I don't know his name - we'll call him JAD)  "JAD" was everything I aspired to be. He was my dream man
.
Okay, before you get any ideas, I don't know what JAD looks like, whether he's tall or stout, grey haired or cheery. I raced down to the lower ground floor to attend a meeting with my future idol. you see, JAD was going to give a presentation about his job(s) and what its like to work in such a cutthroat industry. When I finally reached the room, my heart sank. In front of the transparent, sliding doors I could see a large group of students, ready to occupy the food-stained seats in front of a large projector. I searched the crowd relentlessly, looking for a friendly face to converse with, trade ideas and thoughts about what the presentation, how hungry we were and maybe - just maybe - the possibility of refreshments.

Scared of being lonely, I ran back upstairs (four flights!) to the tip top of the tower (it's not actually a tower, but it seemed like it at the time) attempting to persuade anyone I could to come to the presentation with me so I wouldn't look like a loner at the back of the class, struggling to read the text on the board because of the fear I have of my glasses (I strongly believe they make your eyes worse than they actually are, its true!). Worst of all - I dreaded the thought of my stomach grumbling and growling as Mr JAD reported on his journey through life. All of the trials and tribulations of his childhood (you know, braces, puberty and stuff). I don't know why, but my stomach always seems to argue with my mouth for not filling it with food in the most awkward situations.

I sprinted up-and-down the building for about 20 minutes. I chickened out of going to the presentation because I couldn't find anyone to go with me - I scared of being independent in that situation and relying on myself. I felt like an alien. An alien who failed to inhabit the vessel of ambition to take over and rule the world with a scrawny fist (Hollywood, here I come with my movie pitch! CAUTION: Not based on a book)

The moral of this story is NOT to be a Dependent Alien - take every opportunity which comes your way like a wild dog on a leash. Guide your own destiny (this is getting way too deep).

Until next time...

G.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

My Beautiful Launderette Review

A truthful depiction of forbidden love.

Trivia:

Released: September 7 1985

Directed by: Stephen Frears
Written by: Hanif Kureishi
Staing: Gordon Warnecke, Daniel Day-Lewis, Saeed Jaffrey and Roshan Seth.
Running Tim: 97 minutes.

 
 
By Gregory Robinson
To begin my review, I have to make one thing clear - I have never been a fan of romantic movies. The predictability and soppiness of a generic love story, which usually involves unrequited love, fails to thrill me. On the other hand, cinema goers flock to see the latest 'will-they-won't-they' extravaganza. As a result, I watched "My Beautiful Launderette" with one eye covered... at first.
"Launderette" takes place in South London, and follows Omar Ali (Gordon Warnecke), an ambitious young man whose daily tasks involve caring for his poorly father (Roshan Seth). They live in a cramped, one-floor apartment adjacent to an overground train line which was the site where his mother committed suicide previously. Realising his son currently has no other options than signing up for 'the dole' Under Thatcher's Britain and completing menial tasks in the flat, persuades him to contact his uncle Nesser (Saeed Jaffrey) for a job at his failing  launderette. Eventually, he asks his childhood, punk friend Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) to help out. Their feelings of love and attraction are thwarted by the lingering attitudes of racism, homophobia and their conflicting cultures.
The interesting thing about "Launderette" is its ability to seamlessly merge the trails faced by young people during Thatcher's Britain – unemployment and non-existent futures and other problems which affected the wider population – racism and caring for a sick parent. The script manages to also include the often overlooked trials of young people, such as prohibited love, discovering oneself and freedom.
British-born actor Daniel Day-Lewis, a three times Best-Actor Academy Award winner, gives an outstanding portrayal of a non-stereotypical gay man oppressed by the punk culture he is drawn too. Much like Omar, he has limited opportunities and a lagging future which only makes him more eager to work with his childhood friend. Omar’s father is opposed to the idea due to his rebel attitude. “Why are you working for Pakis? They’re over here to work for us!” declares one of the racist punks after Johnny share their first – of many – taboo kisses.
Culture is a major factor in Johnny and Omar’s love. Johnny is drawn to the punk culture. Rebellious and defiant, and acting in accordance to one’s own rules. On the other hand, Omar’s religion prevents any outward display of love between the pair. What’s saddening about this portrayal of a homosexual relationship is that – in 2014, a couple like Johnny and Omar would never be able to express their love for each other, in either of their communities.
Some would say to abandon the culture which restricts them from being who they are, which is fairly similar to the actions of Omar’s Uncle Nesser. He rejects the rules of his culture, claiming “I’m not a professional Pakistani” as he forcefully evicts a Rastafarian man from his flat. He decides to give the home to the ‘white man’. Additionally, his white wife and obligation to drink and drugs show his dedication to a more ‘western’ way of thinking.
A love story is nothing without a relationship at the focus, but the reason why ‘Launderette’ triumphs in its genre is because it rejects the regular stereotypes and tackles a wider range of issues within a community which happen to be relevant 29 years later.
Check out the official trailer:

Friday, 7 February 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics begin as anti-gay laws increase violence

The law banning the promotion of 'homosexual propaganda' leads to innocent gay people being attacked with urine in the streets of Russia.

                                                                  LGBT protestors in Russia. (I don't own the rights to this image)
By Gregory Robinson 

As the world's eyes focus on Russia as they host the winter Olympics, an alarming breach of human rights and equality is committed each day. There has been a sharp surge in violent homophobic attacks in the country following a new law condemning 'homosexual propaganda' - which in simple terms is "the refusal to advocate a positive outlook on homosexuality".
 
Last year, the country placed a 100 year ban on gay pride parades, further rebuking all celebration and acknowledgment on the gay community. This in turn has lead to further oppression, as well as violence towards a minority group who just want to be accepted by their country.
 
The ban prohibits all teachings of a "non-traditional" lifestyle to minors as many in the country believe this may "harm" the next generation. in fact, 73% of the Russian population supported the new law obstructing gay people to be free in their own communities and forced to hide away from the rest of the population due to who they are attracted too.
 
Despite the new laws enforced by Putin, the media around the world have covered the extreme violence and abuse LGBT youth face just for expressing their sexuality.
 
An anti LGBT group, who go by the name of Occupy Paedophilia relish in the punishment and abuse they inflict on anyone who is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered.  According to these hate groups, they hope to "reform" the youth.
 
According to a report by The Guardian, LGBT activists have reported right-wing groups have decided to use social networking websites to "hunt" and "ambush" gay people, many of them just teenagers. They are then lured into meetings, promised "fun" and "friendship" with whom they believe to be another LGBT youth before the humiliating act of pouring urine over them on camera - followed by punches and slaps and derogatory terms. In some cases, the bigots who commit these acts threaten to inform the parents of closeted teens of their sexuality.
 
Gay people in Russia have been forced into a life of secrecy and due to the negative attitudes of a large proportion of the country, have taken the lives of recluses; scared to leave their homes all due to fear of being heckled and humiliated in the streets.
 
Unfortunately, this has also led to an increase in youth suicide, especially in those who identify as LGBT.
 
I highly doubt there will be a positive change in Russia any time soon; despite the increased media coverage around the world on the injustice which is a daily occurrence there leading up to the Olympics, Putin seems to be turning a blind eye.