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Sunday 18 February 2018

Wading Through Sludge

Sometimes settling on one topic for the blog each week is difficult.

Like, a lot will have happened - a lot that I have opinions on or want to think about or discuss - but actually picking one of those things can be difficult. Or, sometimes, very little has happened that I am aware of, and I can't stir anything out of my mind to put onto the page.

As of right now I am vaguely torn between subjects.

The horrible events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland Florida, are both awful and sickeningly familiar. You noticed the Onion article that they just put out every time? Because every point is still valid? Because nothing changes? Even after the eighteen mass shootings this year alone, and we are still in February?

The ways to prevent it are complicated - if only because the obvious right thing to do is counterbalanced by what people want, and by the information being put out by a variety of sources, some of which genuinely don't give a damn about how many children have to die - as long as the rifles and ammo keep being sold.

The change is a thing that is hard to enact, because it will be fought against at every turn, by everyone from people who sympathise in principle but think your methodology is flawed, all the way up to the kind of people that want a handgun in every teacher's hip holster.

But then I have said a lot of this before, because this happens constantly, so I move on.

Black Panther was amazing. One hell of a movie. A classical tale of power and statesmanship, with a beautiful cast, cinematography and soundtracking to die for, characters that are absolutely popping with life.

I knew that people would complain about it. It was absolutely guaranteed to draw detractors - the kind of people that throw around the terms SJW and Snowflake. I heard claims of a lack of diversity, which made me laugh, because what the individual is actually saying is "there's not enough white people to make me happy".

I mean, I haven't been there, but I am fairly convinced that the border region of Uganda and Kenya doesn't actually have a lot of white folks hanging out there. Even before we take into account Wakanda's secrecy and closed borders, thus its lack of a colonial past.

So representation in movies is getting better, and that is a slow thing to happen, but each success makes it happen faster - even if movies with good POC representation always have to jump through more hoops and adhere to better standards than your average white-guy action flick.

Altered Carbon - neocyberpunk crime/action drama. I love the books, and the author has done some great work, so I was worried about the Netflix adaptation. It's pretty good. I mean it has its problems but it also shines in a lot of ways that are, maybe, not the ways you might think.

For one thing it has a nicely diverse cast. I don't often see a character who is a Muslim, whose faith is not only a character trait but a relevant one, who doesn't get played as an "other" or insinuated to be a bad guy. Most of the characters are multilingual.

The women of the series are treated pretty horribly. In general. This isn't ideal, but at the same time, I can see how it would be the way things pan out. It's not a GOOD thing, far from it. It just indicates to you who is in charge, how they treat other people, and who those people tend to be. That even in a future wherein technology exists that means nobody has to really die, society's class structure never really changes. The gap just gets bigger.

Everywhere, we are held back and down by the shit that sticks to us.

All the worst of humanity, colouring even the best art we can create, because while the sublime is hard to grasp - our sins and our vices are omnipresent and inescapable.

And they are what will kill us all, in the end - or make us so crippled as a society, so weighed down by the chains of greed and ignorance.

All we can do is wade through the sludge, day after day, to get to the dry land of our own greatness.

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