Category Archives: Culture

Turn Off The Blue Light – a liberal campaign in a conservative country

Since the 2011 elections in Ireland, law reform on the issue of prostitution became an issue with some support from opposition parties who were likely to become (and later did become) the new Government. Since then, the issue has received as much attention as any social issue would at a time when a country’s economic woes are far more of a concern to the majority of the population.

Last year, a campaign called Turn Off the Red Light was run with a view to ending sex trafficking in Ireland by making it illegal. The campaign is run by over thirty civic organisations and has been supported by a group of well-known Irish men including the singer Christy Moore. It focuses heavily on the need to protect women working in the sex industry from potential abuse.

In rebuttal to this, a counter-attack called Turn Off The Blue Light has been launched by sex workers and supporters in favour of liberalising the laws on prostitution (and general sex work) in Ireland. They accuse the TORL campaign of wanting to impose a moral agenda on the subject.

The advertisement images put forward by both sides are thought-provoking.

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Filed under Ad Campaigns, Culture, Current Affairs, Ireland, Women

Myths About Crime In Black America – Debunked

Just as the after-effects from the arrest of George Zimmerman for the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida began to die down, America has once again been hit with an uncomfortable reminder of the delicate state of its relationship with its dark-skinned communities.

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On Sunday morning, a policeman in Oakland chased 18 year-old high school senior Alan Blueford and shot him three times (also managing to shoot himself in the foot once) as Blueford ran away from him. Blueford died as a result of his injuries. Blueford and two friends were standing outside waiting for some young lady friends to come and pick them up. According to Oakland police, two of their officers “believed one of them were carrying a hidden gun.” How they managed to deduce this from looks alone was not clarified, nor was it explained why this might be an issue in a country which thinks that carrying killing machines is a fundamental civil right.

Police say the young men ran. In light of what happened next, nobody could blame them. An officer followed Blueford for two block before recklessly firing at him. This is, by the way, against the law on a federal level in the US: in Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985), the Supreme Court specifically outlawed police shooting at fleeing suspects without probable cause. Nonetheless, the officer has been given a free holiday (“paid administrative leave”) for his troubles.

It is clear that Blueford was in possession of a gun at the time. Police claim he pointed it at them. However, it’s not clear when he might have had time to do this if he ran away from them immediately. The weapon found by his body was never fired.

Police detained his innocent friends for 6 hours and ignored protocol by neglecting to contact Blueford’s parents informing them of the death of their son, even though they had identified him. Instead, one of Blueford’s friends had to call them after he was released.

A summary execution such as this one shows just why a black American might have trouble trusting any police force. All of the officers involved were white. Their identities are being kept secret.

This case, along with Trayvon Martin’s killing, indicates the extent to which racial profiling has a detrimental effect on American citizens’ abilities to live harmoniously with one another. It also shows that the problem is not about to go away and illustrates just how disenfranchised black and coloured communities are within the States and how unfairly they are treated by the media, by law enforcement agencies and (as a result) by society in general.

This would not be as important an issue if so many white Americans weren’t convinced that racial discrimination is a thing of the past now that they have appointed a black president.

As Shani Hilton writes:

In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, we’ve seen a lot of discussion of the larger societal issues that play into how and when people are perceived as criminals. There were hoodies, there were marches, and there were frank talks from parent to child about how to minimize the danger of being a young person of color. On the other side, there were justifications of George Zimmerman’s actions: a smear campaign against Martin’s character, and plenty of writers explaining that statistically, blacks are simply more dangerous to be around.

That framing ignores the realities behind the numbers.

Below is an infographic explaining how five popular presumptions regarding the relationship between race and crime are, in fact, not only false but very false.

It is relevant because, much though Europeans like to think of themselves as better, more equal and more liberal than America, our racial situation is only slightly less horrendous.

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Filed under Africa, America, Culture, Current Affairs

Unicorns & Town

British film director Sir Ridley Scott launched a global film making contest for aspiring directors. It’s titled “Tell It Your Way”. There were over 600 entries.

The film could be no longer than three minutes, contain only 6 lines of narrative & be a compelling story. The winner was “Porcelain Unicorn” from American director Keegan Wilcox.

It’s a story of the lifetimes of two people who are totally opposite, yet, very much the same – all told in less than 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, presumably in an effort to boost the local economy, a website called DublinTown has been launched. An initiative between Dublin City Business Improvement District and local small business owners, the site highlights all that ‘Town’ has to offer both to locals and to tourists. It’s beautifully laid out and the video for the launch has been doing the rounds on social networking sites. It does make me miss the Dublin between the canals.

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April 30, 2012 · 11:57 am

The latest beauty secret!

 

Last October, I blogged these photos of famous women whose photographs had been altered using the Adobe graphics editing software Photoshop.

Here, a bunch of laugh merchants go to town on the way the program is often used and abused:

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Filed under Art, Culture, Current Affairs, Laughs, Photography, The internet

As advertising campaigns go…

This one, for Dutch underwear brand Hema, does not at first appear to be all that controversial.

It simply promises the wearer that the new Hema push-up bra will augment breast size by two categories, no matter how small the wearer’s breasts are.

And then there are a couple of very conservative pictures of the model…

…whose name is Andrej Pejic, was voted in FHM’s list of World’s 100 Sexiest Women – and is a man.

Didn’t see that one coming did you?

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Filed under Ad Campaigns, Clothes, Culture, Europe

Cultural moments that remind me of my father

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the end of Woodstock, the great 3-day rock extravaganza, regarded by many to be a pivotal ‘moment’ in the history of modern music. Co-incidentally, today I was walking home listening to one of my favourite songs, which was performed for the first time at Woodstock.

A cover of the original Beatles tune, Joe Cocker’s rendition of I’ll Get By (With A Little Help From My Friends) was always the first and last song to be played in the car with my father when we used to drive up and down, to and from, my boarding school when I was young.

It’s probably one of the best live performances of any song ever done.

I was actually speaking to my father earlier on today, mostly about ‘real life’ in London. I was moaning about the godawful cruelty of a 9-6 working day and he began explaining to me the fact that, while it takes some getting used to, eventually it becomes incredibly easy. So easy, in fact, that you forget it was ever difficult in the first place. He sounded a little bit like Michael Gambon in one of my favourite scenes from any movie.

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Filed under Culture, Film, Music

Happy Bloomsday

Every year on this day, celebrations are held in Dublin and across the world to commemorate the life of James Joyce, and re-enact the events in his book Ulysses, which covers one day (the 16th of June) in the life of Leopold Bloom, as he travels through Dublin in 1904. Joyce chose this day for his book because it was the day he and his future wife Nora Barnacle went on their first ‘date’, walking to Ringsend together.

And just in time for the big day, a man in Dublin claims to have solved a riddle in the book: “Good riddle would be crossing Dublin without passing a pub”. More here.

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Filed under Books, Culture, Ireland