Cultural Critique


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<<< SPOILERS WITHIN >>>

I’m a Star Wars fan.  Though, if I’m completely honest, there are only really two excellent Star Wars films, with the rest ranging from horrible to slightly-better-than-meh.  The latest installment unfortunately falls into that latter category.  It’s a more enjoyable movie than any of the prequels yes, I alternated from annoyed to entertained while watching The Force Awakens.  Seen as an action-fantasy-in-space—and seen from an ‘I-really-want-to-like-it’ POV—it’s ok.  Seen as a Star Wars film—or more accurately, seen as the Star Wars film I wanted it to be (ie. a continuation of the first two)—it was a disappointment.  (more…)

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[*this is a follow up article to “Anti-Racism/Sexism & Individualism” where I liken postmodern politics to a modern form of divide and conquer.]

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A bomb in Boston:
   – Outcry! Terrorism! Bad!
   – What terrorism? The US is the real terrorist!
   – Why are they blaming brown people! That’s racist! Racism is bad!

A school shooting in America:
     – Tragedy!  Ban guns!  Guns are bad!
     – Arm the teachers; bad guys are bad!
     – I hope it’s not a shooter of colour.  [see: “Racism is bad.”]

Here’s the thing.  I’m equal parts sympathetic, and confused and saddened, by this standard Western outcry.

I’m confused because of the gap between the reaction and the root causes.  And I’m sympathetic because it’s a fully understandable reaction—if not for accidents of personal history I would most likely be of similar mind.

Looking at media (mainstream and social) after moments like these, it seems to me that we in the West live with a cough syrup political mentality.

Millions of people swear by cold medicines, good people, friends and family even.  They feel a cold coming on and they pop the pills, or gulp down the syrups.

And yet–
–they don’t work. (more…)

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Oh. I wish someone had told me earlier they were just waiting on me… sorry all!

I was in the car and in slow traffic, the DVP (the major highway leading to downtown Toronto) was closed for the weekend and the local streets were jammed.

Along the way I was listening to talk radio on a college station.  It was playing a lecture by a black feminist from the States (I came in late so I don’t know her name).  She was your standard post-modern, identity politics, POC scholar.

The lecture was about the problems of racism and sexism.  The issue basically boiled down to individuals not having done the personal political work to liberate their minds from patriarchy and white power (with passing mention to intersections with class).

I didn’t agree with much of the lecture.  In fact it mostly saddened me.  I saw it as divisive and supportive of the current power structures that use racism and sexism as tools of oppression.

But of course I did listen.  It was like an aural car wreck, and as one is wont while driving, I was transfixed. (more…)

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by alex felipe (alexfelipe.photographer@gmail.com)

The Connecticut mass shooting was a tragedy, it was the seventh this year alone. The media, mainstream and social, have been ablaze with justified outrage. Many fingers are being pointed in so many directions that for those seeking to understand why, they would equally be justified in being left in a daze.

The Western Left, in its decades long insecurity, has allowed the field to be dominated by voices placing blame on symptoms rather at the root cause.

The aftermath of Newtown has shown the need for a coherent and inclusive narrative from the Left. Instead, what we see are calls for small reforms to the system that has already failed us.

It’s time for the Left to step up. To again allow itself to think big. To again dare to put forward a grand narrative. (more…)

22 October 2012

Gangnam Style.  You’ve seen it I’m sure (I mean it’s in the Guinness Book for highest number of likes on Youtube).  At first I just dismissed it as just some fad, completely harmless and at most just the latest weirdly ironic thing people picked up on to pass the time.  And yet… in retrospect it’s a lot more than that, it’s a great excuse to write about ideology today.

Ideology.  The word is most commonly used these days to refer to ideas (usually “evil” or at least misguided) that we disagree with.  Western society likes to think of itself as ideologically neutral—you know, in the same way that White people are the default type in the West—but a serious look at pop culture and the evening news is all you need to see that ideology is alive and kicking. (more…)

We wear yellow bracelets. We pin pink ribbons to our clothing. We run a marathon with the motivation that we’re helping a fellow human being in need. But how much do we help the cause when we do these things?

 *from http://ww3.tvo.org/video/183005/being-charitable-today

Thanks to a friend I was pointed toward an interesting episode on last week’s “The Agenda” on TVO where they explore charitable giving. The above is the show description.  As Han asked me to give my thoughts on it, and since it’s Thanksgiving, I thought it would make a good holiday themed write up.  Please feel free to leave your honest opinions below.  I intend to be honest with my opinions here.

It is a time to give thanks and to reflect on how best to help the less fortunate.  In doing this often we think about charity–but I don’t.

I don’t believe in charity.  In fact I am almost completely against it.  (more…)

*this is the copy of a talk I gave on 26 January 2012 at “The Politics of Protest” conference at the University of Toronto.

ImageAs one of the organizers of this event, wrote on her FB wall the other day (in all caps no less):  “OK SERIOUSLY, LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND HOW THEY NEGOTIATE POWER AND PRIVILEGE!!”

Ok.  Lets.

So let me start by saying something very bluntly: White people ARE superior to people of colour.  Men ARE more important and more valuable than women.  And greed IS far superior to “love.”

Let’s not beat around the bush about should be’s or the use of non-oppressive language.

THIS is the society we live in.  THIS is reality.  You don’t like it?  Good.  Change it. (more…)

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