Sunday, 28 May 2017

Roger Moore, Bond of Bonds

Sir Roger Moore died this past week and it's very nice that commentators are now saying he was in their opinion the best Bond. This is my opinion too. He's my favourite partly because his twelve years of playing James Bond coincided with my formative pre-teen to adult years; more importantly, because he played Bond with easy humour and panache and by so doing made the rather daft character of Bond thoroughly likeable. And Moore's striking good looks and smooth and calming voice were only enhanced by the mischievous twinkle in his eye and the famous raised eyebrow(s) of his alleged limited acting skills. George Lazenby I don't remember much about, Sean Connery as Macho Bond was of course good in his way, Timothy Dalton was okay but hampered by having none of the magnetism of a movie star, Pierce Brosnan was lovely but his authority was never quite believable, and about the utterly humourless and dare I say ugly Bond of Daniel Craig the less said the better. Craig made Bond thoroughly un-likeable, to the point where it's hard to justify the continuation of the franchise except for those to whom it generates a lot of money.  Moore was apparently always pleased to be told by individuals that he had been their favourite Bond, good-naturedly settling for 'favourite' where others would have wanted 'best'. Let's not forget, however, that during his life he had to make do with being constantly panned for his Bond, usually at the same time as Connery was lauded as the definitive one. This point of view was so strongly promoted and endorsed by influential writers and in the media generally that to suggest one's preference for Moore was to risk being, figuratively, tarred and feathered and driven out of town. So hurray for the 'best Bond' opinions emerging now, but what a shame they were considered an affront to the critical consensus during Moore's lifetime.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Manchester victims, Egyptian victims

In the wake of the atrocity in Manchester on Monday many commentators have spoken or written movingly of the 'children' or 'little girls' who were targeted. And this is right and proper: of the twenty-two fatalities, eight were aged 18 and under: one victim under 10, seven in the 14-18 range. All were female. However the next most affected age-range was 40-60. Seven victims were in this group, six of them female. So please let us also remember the parents and step-parents and aunties who were killed in addition to the minors, and not forgetting the four men and three women in the 19-30 age range. And while we're at it, let's be equally horrified at the twenty-eight or so men, women and children who were gunned down in Egypt this week. Coptic Christians on an innocent day trip, their bus was stopped by jihadis who ordered them to recite the Islamic shahada - the profession of faith that would have turned them into muslims according to islamic law. Those who refused to do so because of their loyalty to Christ were summarily executed. These victims deserve our outrage too.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Melania rocks the dress code

Melania Trump rocks. No, I don't mean for flicking her husband's hand away or fobbing off his other hand-holding attempt. I mean for declining to wear an islamic headscarf in Saudi Arabia but totally going for the traditional black dress and lace mantilla dress code when meeting the Pope. So refreshing to see this most unlikely of First Ladies prioritising the Church.

Terror threat 'critical', blah blah blah

So what if Mrs May orders armed police and military personnel into British cities? It's no more effective than locking the stadium door after the jihadi has gone in and detonated the nail bomb. What next: ban every citizen from carrying a bag, backpack or briefcase? Banning all concerts, or any other free assembly of pleasure-seekers? Mrs May could have made a point, instead, of securing entry points to the country when she was Home Secretary, not weakening them by cutting border staff and introducing flimsy electronic entry. As Prime Minister, she could stop contributing to the usual blather about a religion of peace and about carrying on as before. She could risk the wrath visited on Donald Trump - or worse wrath - by enforcing without delay a severe clampdown on any Muslim British citizen seeking to return to the country after a stay in a jihadi hotspot. That's what this latest citizen did and he sailed through customs without a hitch, even though he 'was known to the authorities' before he left. So, how about protecting the borders? That would be more useful than sending out a vast number of armed respondents to sweat in the current heatwave, with nothing more to do than act as a temporary visual deterrent.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

"Three Girls" and a 'sexual health worker'

The first of three episodes of the BBC series "Three Girls" was shown last night and it was very disturbing viewing indeed, in fact some scenes were literally unwatchable. So while this blog entry is not made on the basis of my having seen every minute of the episode I think the general principle remains. And the general principle, in my view, is that it's not only the police and other law enforcement officials who failed the many, many girls of Rochdale (and Oxford etc): it's also feminism. Specifically, these countless young teens have been failed by feminism's war against 'the patriarchy'. It is simply not the case that you can shame and remove the guardianship of men over their daughters, and young girls in general, and usher in an age of benevolence and freedom. What you get instead is a different kind of 'patriarchy', one that moves in swiftly to exploit the free-ranging, unprotected girls who have been to made to think by feminism that they are empowered. You remove one constraint which you make believe is a horror and you get a real horror in its place. A horror so new, moreover, that you have no weapon or recourse against it for far too long. By warring against western 'patriarchy' feminism also begat family break-down on a disastrous scale. This in turn allowed for the shocking excuse - expressed by one social worker in yesterday's episode - that it's impossible to find a way of dealing with the abused girls because their domestic lives are so "chaotic". The father at house number 141, slunk in apathy on the sofa while his sons held an endless party around him, suggested the negative impact the abolition of proper fatherhood has had on boys too.  The destruction of fatherly guardianship has also allowed a society where underage sex is a commonplace, and nobody can do anything about it except dole out condoms. So we have Sara Rowbotham, who is obviously going to emerge as the heroine of the story. And who is Sara? She is a 'sexual health worker'. She is first seen providing free condoms to nerdy youths, no questions asked except for what size. She admonishes them however not to use the condoms simply for water-filled pranks. She wants them to be genuinely used for sex. That's it. Think of those words: sexual health worker. They're really not far enough away from 'sex worker' for comfort, are they? And 'health'? Making sure young people have access to condoms is not the same thing as sexual health. Sexual health is an invented term which is meaningless in the case of underage sex which by definition should not be happening at all. And yet here are the nice sexual health workers to manage the chaos of sexual free-for-all with a few boxes of rubbers. It's wonderful that the real Sara Rowbotham stood up for the Rochdale girls. It's just that the fact that it was a 'sexual health worker' who made a difference is in itself part of the ongoing problem.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Yoga storm in a church teacup

Also from yesterday's Daily Telegraph (I love day-old news, so much easier to deal with): a hamlet on the West coast of Wales is "shocked" by the fact that its local church does not want yoga classes in its community centre, on the grounds that yoga is "non-Christian" (Thursday 11 May 2017, page 9). Well, duh, of course it's non-Christian. As is tai-chi and tae-kwon-do, which are also implied to be a problem. As for what the article suggests are the other activities under contention, "cash prize bingo and the like" I could not possibly comment. The key point in the debate seems to me that this new community centre is part of the church itself, "converted" to the more secular interests of the "parishioners" as they are called in the article. But if the complainants were actual parishioners, people attending the church, supporting it and being involved in it, would part of St David's have had to be converted into a community centre? Isn't a church a community centre by definition? Not if no one's going, though. If the locals were attending and supporting the church they would know in what ways yoga and other eastern practices are legitimately non-Christian - or at least they wouldn't be so "shocked" that the Church holds this view. While some individual Christians can withstand activities or habits that are non-Christian - from practising yoga to watching "Game of Thrones" - that doesn't mean such things ought to be endorsed by any church in a general way.  There is no such thing as a "fair and non-biased community centre", as the denizens of Blaenporth apparently desire. There is always a set of values setting a limit to what can or cannot be indulged in: bomb-building classes would not be allowed anywhere, one suspects, even if demand were high. To complain that a church holds to Christian values is an intolerant view all its own.

UK police headgear, two perspectives

There was an interesting contrast on the subject of police headgear in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. On page 12 of the newspaper was a piece on how Northamptonshire Police were adopting a baseball cap design, like the forces of Cheshire and Lancashire before them. The new hats are called "Bump Caps" and unlike regular baseball caps they have a "reinforced internal frame". However they were not adopted primarily for their protective qualities. At least not for their protective qualities in the physical sense. Rather, they were adopted to protect the emotional sensitivities of any non-binary potential applicant to the police who is now protected from the terrible dilemma of having to choose between the traditional helmet (for men) or the bowler hat (for women). On page 19 of the paper, in the "Letters to the Editor", was a reader's account of having attended a seminar "with a group of refugees, Syrians, Chechens and Iraqis who had recently arrived in Britain." The three groups were asked what impressed them most about the country: all said the police. These new arrivals fully appreciated the fact that police here "do not steal from you, beat you up or intimidate you. Most are not even armed." Incidentally, anyone inclined to diss the police as a matter of course, either here or anywhere else in the West, would do well to reflect on this sobering perspective for a while. But the seminar attendees were also disappointed: they felt the police looked scruffy and overly casual, nothing like "the illustrations of helmeted officers in smart uniforms" they had expected from the photographs and illustrations they had seen over the years in their native countries.  As an immigrant myself, I'm with the refugees on this one. Britain, stop throwing away the iconic designs that still do contribute to your greatness.

Child endangerment poster

Is it just me or does this actress look like a child? And a gender-ambiguous child at that. Maybe there's a wider trend to de-gendering acting than the silliness of MTV awards: narrow the gap between men and women by featuring actresses  who look like children.  In the original "Alien" the whole point about Sigourney Weaver was that she was a woman. That's what made both her and her character memorable. The same could be said more recently about characters played by Jennifer Lawrence: though chubby-cheeked (like the person in this poster), Lawrence is unambiguously a woman. Who or what this character is I have no idea, but please let's get the poor child away from the monster.

'Best Actor'?

And speaking of plural language, there was the news a few days ago that Emma Watson had won MTV's new-fangled genderless acting award. 'Best Actor' and 'Best Actress' categories were dispensed with and replaced with one single category called, wait for it... 'Best Actor'. Hilariously, this progressive destruction of  'Best Actress' enshrines the allegedly sexist masculine plural, you know the one that oppressively encompasses the feminine as well.  There is no reason to give Emma Watson a 'Best' award for acting under any category, and especially not for "Beauty and the Beast", but the political idea MTV was presumably serving is just wrong. We don't call female doctors doctoresses or female lawyers lawyeresses because whether the doctor or lawyer is male or female makes no difference to the work they do. Acting, on the other hand, is an activity that is based entirely on the use of the person: body, appearance, voice, past experience, inner resources, everything. Whether that person is male or female is precisely the starting point of the activity, however much one would wish this reality away politically. Abolishing the category of 'actress' is in fact detrimental to all women who try to earn their living by acting because it fails to recognise the most basic quality they are bringing to their work.