Monday, August 20, 2012
Ok, I'm going to weigh in on this Pussy Riot saga, because I know the whole world is waiting on pins and needles for me to do that. So, here I go. I hope I type something worth reading.
For the benefit of the two people who may have just recently had WiFi installed in their caves (finally) and have not heard of this entire scandal, here's a link to an article about it. Now for my 2¢ about it.
My assessment of all of this is that the band Pussy Riot is being unbelievably harshly punished for disobeying a law that shouldn't even exist. Come on! Hooliganism??? Is that the charge the Russian police are going with here? Smashing a window display or vandalizing some kind of landmark with aluminum bats, crow bars, or fire (or all 3), THAT'S hooliganism. It's especially bad when it results in physical injury or even death. If these ladies had done anything even close to that, then they'd be rightly imprisoned. Simply saying the unsolicited thoughts that enter your mind about the country's leader in a public place is NOT HOOLGANISM! It is simply free speech! In a healthy democracy, people are applauded for that, not punished.
It seems to me that Mr. Vladimer Putin is too much of a big cry-baby that can't handle criticism. If that's true, then he is not fit to hold office.
And it really feels odd to me that part of the reason for their arrest is for blasphemy. Here in Canada, we can't go 5 minutes with being blasphemous in one way or another. In the animation school from which I graduated, there was a student there who drew up a storyboard in-which, in the background, Jesus Christ could be seen selling crack cocaine to little kids. As I recall, jaws were on the floor but no police were called.
And here's sketch from a great Canadian comedy troupe, the Kids in the Hall, where they combine the Bible with Dr. Suess:
I know. Pretty sacrilegious, right? How could they desecrate Dr. Suess like that? (Oh yeah, and for any Religious Right members watching this, the guy playing Jesus in that sketch is very much a homosexual and proud of it. Is he going to Hell? If they have $5 margaritas, he hopes so). As of right now, all 5 kids in the hall still walk the streets with no fear of indictment.
And, of course, there's me. I made a comic book called Jesus Needs Help which angered this preacher enough to speak out against it not just once but twice (and about 8 other times in private emails). I'm sure if he had his way, I'd have been arrested by now. But, I still definitely walk the streets and I still have the freedom to blog about anything I choose.
The only criticism I could give to the girls at all is that the statement that got them in trouble doesn't really make sense. Urging "the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin"??? What kind of a weak sauce threat to a world power is that? She's just a 2027 year old virgin. What is she going to do to Putin, have sex with him that is so tense and awkward that he kills himself? There are other biblical figures who would be much more of a threat I'm sure. David could easily throw a rock at his head. Hey, maybe even Goliath could wear a rock-proof head band and stomp Putin's dumb ass into the ground. I'm sure if Delilah let Sampson grow his hair down to his ankles, he'd be more than strong enough to bring the entire Russian government to its knees. Daniel could unleash his lions. Jonah could lure him into a whale's belly. Any one of the four horsemen could make short work of him easily. Or, the best idea would be to take an actual Bible, one that's really thick and heavy, and just simply club Putin on the head with it. I know, ironically there's a passage or two in that Bible that preaches against that, but double ironically there are other passages in that same Bible that contradict them so it all evens out. But, out of all the possible threats they could have made, they went with the Virgin Mary. Okay!
Like I mentioned before in this blog post, there is no such thing as being arrested for blasphemy in Canada. Therefore, I hereby urge the members of Pussy Riot and all of their management staff to relocate this band to Canada. They will definitely have an audience here. Although, according to some recent findings, one of the girls DOES have citizenship in Canada.
In conclusion, I would just like to add my voice to the Free Pussy Riot brigade. I'll end this post simply with one of their songs. Ladies, this is the best publicity you could ever get. I wish you all the success in the world.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Most people don't quite understand what Jimi was trying to say with this song. They're not at all sure if this is for or against America. I have known some people who think it is just a blind jingoistic tribute to "Yankee Doodle Land" and it makes them sick. (Always sticking feathers in their hats and calling them macaroni. Sheesh!) And there's others who feel that Jimi took a cheap stab at America by simply converting the Star Spangled Banner into the raukus "noise" of his guitar. This attitude was portrayed brilliantly in Pixar's first Cars movie, by the way. (Yes, the clip below is in Spanish)
However, most people simply just don't understand the song and dismiss it as Jimi just making noise for random reasons. I remember one stand up comedian talking about it. His comment on the part where Jimi breaks into Taps was "do you get the feeling he forgot what song he was playing part way through?" Well, if I could find that comedian, I would tell him that Jimi was very much aware of every single sound he was playing during the entire song. It all added up to one, not cheap knee jerk, but rather a very brilliantly, scathing satirical assault on America. "How?" you ask. Well, I think I've got it figured out. If you want to know as well, read on. (Although, if any of you reading this had it figured out already, that is awesome for you. You're invited to read on and possibly add a few points I may have missed.)
The clue for the song's message is in the "noise" Jimi interjects at different parts of the song. Go back to that youtube clip and listen to it again. Those aren't just random sounds. They are the sounds of war, specifically the Viet Nam War. They are sounds of:
|Tanks muscling their way around!|
|And the basic anguish most of the people felt for being in that impossible situation.|
So, the playing of Taps is to commemorate all of the people who were needlessly killed in that muddled conflict.
I guess it'll take more than song and a few thousand deaths before America will finally learns its lesson. Oh well, maybe after America invades Iran or Syria and some other musician writes a song against that will America finally squint their eyes passed that "rocket's red glare" and see the light.
|Come on, Ms. Gaga. You can do it.|
I'll end this post with a similar misunderstood song about the whole Viet Nam situation. Most people stupidly assumed it was a partiotic song about the good ol' U.S.A. when it's actually putting down the way the U.S. government treated the veterans of the Viet Nam War. President Reagen even used that song for his re-inaugeration when he was re-elected president in 1985 (and some people look back with fondness at him???????) Anyway, enjoy the song:
(aaaaaaaaaaand.............. Happy birthday to me!)
Friday, July 8, 2011
ForeWord Clarion Review
Jesus Needs Help
One Star (out of Five)
The divide between free speech and hate speech is as uncomfortable to define as it is to discuss. When broached in casual conversation, passionate reactions often supplant a civil discourse about the context of the speech in question. David Germain’s graphic novel, Jesus Needs Help, falls prey to these rhetorical traps at the cost of detracting from his fable’s anti-censorship message. The story is straight forward. Jesus, attempting to deliver his Sermon on the Mount, is harassed by a band of censoring monkeys, each representing a different stereotype intent on suppressing freedom of speech. These include: the goose-stepping Nazi Monkey, the sword-wielding Not Muhammed [sic] Monkey, the Afro-sporting and gun-toting Black Panther Monkey, and the Feminist Monkey with deeply sagging breasts.
Shocked by the abuse, God declares “I do intend to put my son through a brutal crucifixion soon, but this is too much.” The Almighty cages the monkeys and forces them to watch winged beings enjoying forms of art and expression that challenge the very ideas they wish to suppress. Heaven, as experienced by the simian antagonists, is a hell of their own making.
An independent animator living in Nova Scotia, Germain produces comic strips for his own blog and, occasionally, for the Dalhousie Gazette. He has a great love for classic animation. And, as exemplified in both his blog and Jesus Needs Help, he ardently fights all forms of censorship and perceived threats to free speech through humor and illustration. His work challenges the idea of political correctness and demands the reader’s attention with a blend of shock and Juvenalian satire.
But when it comes to race, racism, free speech, and censorship, context is everything. In the context of Germain’s avocation, his Horrible Mother Monkey, for example, could be read as more than a Jim Crow-era mammy complete with hair rollers and a muumuu. Rightly or wrongly, she’s a homage to Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s, now censored due to culturally insensitive blackface gags, cannibals, and the perpetually rodent-plagued Mammy Two Shoes. Sitting on a shelf at the comic book store, however, the context of Jesus Needs Help is reduced to an Anglo Christ whose sermon to an Anglo crowd is interrupted by a parade of brown apes.
Germain’s portrayal of Heaven faces a similar challenge. Intended as a celebration of free speech, punk rockers entertain crowds in one area of Heaven, while violent movies and banned cartoons are screened in another. And it works until the reader sees a drawing of a slant-eyed Asian in a sedge hat removing a victim’s brain presented in the context of protected speech as being equal to a staging of Oh Calcutta [sic] or a gangsta rapper dropping a culturally divisive and defining N-bomb on stage with no consideration for the difference between hate speech and free speech.
Germain attempts to use shock value as a way to raise awareness about the dangers of censorship in a society claiming to value freedom of speech. But his use of outdated and painful stereotypes obscures the noble cause for which he stands.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Saturday, June 13, 2009
June 30, 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of this movie. Of course, fans of South Park (of which I am one) find it hilarious. Some enjoy the movie simply because they enjoy the show, therefore this movie was an easy sell to them. Others enjoyed the story and many of the jokes on their own merits which is great. Sadly though, many of these people were too engrossed in the jokes to really pay attention to what the movie was trying to say. Even sadder still, many non-fans didn't see it even though most of them really should have seen it for their own good. The movie's message was clearly aimed at them. This movie deserves much more attention than it's gotten over the past decade.
Sadly (or should I say "depressingly"), not enough people got that message. Roger Ebert and some of the other movie critics of the time who did like seemed to have gotten the message. One even brilliantly stated, "this movie will offend people that need to be offended once in a while". I love how he indicates that offensiveness is a societal need rather than just a guilty-pleasure type of want. And really, he's right. A good offensive show (be it a movie, tv show, song, etc.) keeps one on their toes and helps them to not be too comfortable in their one little sanitized world. That's what good artwork is for. It stirs emotions and makes you think. However, it seems that less people understand that these days. Around the time this South Park movie came out, the FCC received about 111 calls from people complaining about content. That's the "extreme" number the movie was trying to make look ridiculous. After good ol' Mr. "Dubya" is elected president, by 2004, the FCC was bombarded by over 1,000,000 calls. I'm sure most of those had to do with Janet Jackson's Superbowl performance. But even since then