2 videos happened across my desktop today, in close proximity to one another, and gave me a moment’s pause for thought.
They shared some elements of their visual language, but what was most striking was the stylistic similarity to “What Barry Says”, a pretty bleak critique of US militarism from 2003:
Now, I was always a bit suspicious of old Barry – while some of his points hit home, the entire thing was cloaked in the sort of overblown language (“War Corporatism”?) which you usually hear peddled by the Trots who sell the Socialist Worker around London. Without the stunning visuals accompanying it, his narrative just comes across as a directionless paranoid rant.
Nevertheless, the overall effect is reasonably stirring. For my money, though, today’s 2 videos were far more effective
First up, we have “Iran: A Nation of Bloggers”, a succinct and moving summary of young Iranians’ embrace of blogging as a way to protest the wrong direction many of them see their own country taking:
And then we have a speech by Harvey Milk (who’s obviously in the news again right now), set to modern visuals and a bit of mildly stirring music:
It’s almost become trite, in the wake of Obama’s presidential campaign, to talk about “hope” and “change” – but to me the contrast between 2003′s paranoid rant and 2008′s uplifting hopefulness really hit home. All the more because, despite the phenomenal victory of our President-Elect a month ago, the economic outlook is crushingly bleak; even as Obama won, bigotry claimed a victory in California; people are scared, confused and uncertain.
And yet hopeful. If everything else is washed away, it seems we still have that.
It’s easy to get screwed up watching the news these days. We’re seeing the first effects of the coming scarcity of oil, and yet we refuse to properly explore the alternatives. Tsunamis and hurricanes and earthquakes and famines and unjust wars are killing millions and sometimes, just sometimes it feels like the end of the world really is nigh.
Yes, that same end of the world so desperately craved by the Christian fundamentalists, waving their “No Fags” banners and eagerly scurrying to renounce womens’ reproductive rights. Because the end of the world will bring Jeebus sailing back down from heaven to cast away the sinners and take the righteous to heaven.
So, life’s been trundling along for the last few months, and whilst there have been a few things noteworthy enough to write about, there just hasn’t been the time to knock together some paragraphs on any of them. Hopefully soon.
It’s been a strange summer, anyhow – not much conducive to the peace of mind which tends to render me most eloquent. Let’s face it – with London bombs, the continuing ridiculous farce of the UK Government’s ID card fixation, various American political events, and the devastation of hurricanes, it’s all been a bit “End Timesey” for the world at large.
And the saddest, most numbing thing about the whole parade of rather depressing news stories is that, on this side of the pond, almost any issue quickly polarises into a debilitating “conservative vs. liberal” ping-pong match where no-one actually discusses anything, hair is pulled, names are called and there are no watchful teachers to storm onto the playground, separate the brawling infants and give everyone a good telling-off.
Living in California distances you from the worst excesses of these battles, but frankly that’s only because it’s one of America’s few “liberal” bastions, and folk generally leave one another be.
But here’s the thing that still trips me up – for at least 50% of America’s population, “liberal” is a swearword. Quite literally, you’ll see it used to immediately dismiss or win an argument, or lay blame for a problem. “It’s because of liberals”. “Well, of course you’d say that, you’re a liberal.”