[Not] Just Lazy [but Dangerous] Reporting #2 – Matt Frei’s Attack on Donald Trump

The rape allegation. Well, we’ve had the Hitler comparison (see Matt Frei post #1), so why not throw in this despicable crime? And thrown in it very much seemed to be, close to the end of Matt Frei’s documentary, with an extra special Ivana Trump “sound-a-like” reading from the correction to the deposition she originally gave in her divorce proceedings.

Ivana Trump’s experience of the rape allegation, according to Harry Hurt III, appears below (along with Ivana’s own explanation, in the footnotes, of what she actually meant to say):

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A slightly more balanced version of the rape/not rape debate can be read here at The Independent, where Ivana’s own words are given more worth than they are in Frei’s documentary, where she is skipped over in order to leave the viewer lingering over the rape imagery. As with the Hitler allegation, Frei chooses to present one version of Trump, with little effort put in to actually corroborating his “facts” and/or sources.

Donald Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana, remains good friends with him to this day, and refutes the “twisting” of her words. It seems disingenuous at best to dismiss her thoughts on the matter, and perhaps dangerous, because if Trump can be accused of silencing Ivana, so can Frei in the way he ignores her return to the subject.


Just Lazy Reporting #1 – Matt Frei’s Attack on Donald Trump

What should have been an interesting piece of reporting on the current success of Donald Trump in the build up to the Republican nominations ended up being a sloppy bit of gossip TV. Matt Frei’s “The Mad World of Donald Trump” lowered the bar on journalistic reporting by failing to engage with the question of why Donald Trump is so popular as a political figure. Instead, the hour-long show opted for cheap gags about Trump’s “political” rallies, his business failings, his extreme right-wing views, and his lack of policy – which we are all very aware of. What none of us are aware of, because no one is asking the question, is why Trump speaks to a significant number of Americans.

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There are too many problems with Frei’s reporting style to fit into a bite-sized blog post, and so these problems will be aired over the coming days. One of the most disturbing comments to come from the programme was from the young man with the derelict house plastered in anti-Trump slogans – he likened Trump to Adolf Hitler. Such a biased view does not take into account that the circumstances of Trump’s potential reign as supreme leader is very different to that of Adolf – Trump clearly hates people of colour, but it seems that his goal is to remove them from the country, or to stop them from entering in the first place. He certainly doesn’t advocate genocide, or the invasion of other countries. Trump’s potential candidacy as the Republican nomination is worrying. He is not the future. His views are a disgrace. But…

He offers something to a significant section of American society that it clearly feels is missing presently. He fans the flames of hatred – and for that to happen, hatred must already be present. Instead of dismissing Trump’s supporters as stupid white Americans (the view of the political commentator sitting on the porch with Frei), their views should be analysed to make sense of what is happening in the country. A potential swing from Obama to Trump, still a long way from happening, would be seismic in that we’d have gone from “hope” to “hate” in two terms.


Esta es Voluntad?

Just a very quick post as I’m finding it hard to tear myself away from the figure of St. Theresa of Avila, whom I’m reading about because of the reference to Bernini’s sculpture, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. And so this post manifests itself in the aftermath of Reggie Yates’ documentary, more on which here, the second in his series titled Extreme UK (#ExtremeUK), which deals with a certain kind of anti-feminist rhetoric (wryly titled “meninism” by some Twitter users, a term I happen to like, funnily enough).

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Should we be surprised at the “disenfranchised,” “disempowered” men speaking such anti-woman (as much as anti-feminist, if we’re being honest) sentiments? After all, it seems to hail from a tradition dating a long way back into our shared human history; in fact, we may pause to consider Paul’s words here: “The women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

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Some doubt Paul’s misogyny, and in some respects that’s really beside the point, for it is in the countless ways in which such words have been used to keep women “in their place” over the centuries that the key issue is to be found – we need only look to St. Theresa herself for a concrete example of this. Anyway, back to the book (Alison Weber’s Theresa of Avila and the Rhetoric of Femininity (which is very good)).

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Shaun Ryder, Bobby Gillespie, Alan McGee, and E – The Story of Indie

It is worth pausing over a significant element of The Story of Indie, Part Three – Into the Mainstream. The programme begins by looking at the influence of “Acid House” on the indie music scene, and a most interesting aspect of this is the connection that exists between The Happy Mondays and Primal Scream. Alan McGee (Creation Records) and Shaun Ryder (The Happy Mondays) each discuss the effect that the scene had on how music evolved around the early 90s, and both, interviewed separately, seem to recall certain events in a manner most consistent with what we would call the “truth.”

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Anyone with knowledge of Primal Scream’s music prior to the release of Screamadelica will recognise that the band’s third album was a radical departure from what went before, and Ryder and McGee claim that Ecstasy is at the root of the band’s shift in style. The story goes that McGee and Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) went to The Hacienda to watch The Happy Mondays play, and whilst there, under the advice of Ryder, took Ecstasy for the first time. The result of Gillespie’s exposure to E was to be life-changing, for, according to McGee, Gillespie’s musical focus shifted so significantly that within a month of taking the drug the band were heading in a completely new direction, artistically, fusing acid house principles with their rock heritage – and Screamadelica was born.

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This very small aspect of The Story of Indie‘s third and final episode is notable in that it offers the story of Primal Scream’s creative evolution without the usual negative propaganda that accompanies stories involving the use of drugs. There are complications that arise from the use of illegal drugs, and there are documented cases of death, violence, and exploitation arising from the use of illegal drugs that no one would wish to deny, but the positive aspects of illegal drugs are rarely discussed and/or promoted in the way that they are here by Ryder and McGee. Screamadelica would not have been made possible were it not for Ecstasy, and isn’t the world a better place for it?

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Suffragette

Like a host of other ‘historical’ films detailing periods of injustice (Selma, 12 Years a Slave, etc.) Suffragette hits the mark when it comes to pricking one’s consciousness and making one think twice about what it must have been like to live at a certain point in history. But is that really enough – what happens after the film finishes? Do we talk about the issues for a bit before moving on? Just how effective are big movie productions at stirring the public to action – or is it all just about how great Mulligan/Streep/Bonham-Carter/Duff’s performances are (and they’re all pretty good)?

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The reason for such questions stems from the whole experience of being at the cinema, waiting for the film to start, watching the adverts/trailers that precede the film. Never one to turn up dead on time because of the tardiness of film showings, the screen is in darkness with an advert running that speaks of strangers coming up to you, stroking you (uninvited) and stuff, and then the hashtag #gropefreenights appears. Then an advert about broadband speed and inspirational women, with an Alicia Keys song (an inspirational one) playing in the background. Then, a trailer for a Tom Hanks film. Then, a trailer for a Maggie Smith film. Then, the trailer for He Named Me Malala (#henamedmemalala). Then, an advert with Jack Whitehall struggling to come to terms with tackling a ‘lady’ rugby player – both humorous and subversive, potentially.

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So, in an age where it seems men have to be actively persuaded to stop groping women whilst drunk (the men being drunk), and where we have a case in the not too distant past of a young girl being shot in the head in order to make the point that girls should not receive an education, will Suffragette prick the consciousness of those whose consciousness needs pricking, or do we find ourselves in a hundred years’ time looking back at Malala’s story, ooh-ing and aah-ing, whilst ignoring real and present concerns – whatever they may be in a century’s time? Perhaps it is not the place of big movie productions to stir such emotion, but if that were the case you’d have to ask yourself if there is indeed any point making such a film in the first instance. The time is now – but when is that?

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Stronger than Death

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The BBC documentary, Ted Hughes: Stronger Than Death, was mind-blowingly good save for one small flaw made possible by ever-burgeoning improvements in technology. The flaw in question lies with the programme’s relentless use of drone cameras. At every opportunity it seems that the director/producer (or whoever else is responsible for such things) requested that every location used in the documentary be filmed by drone. Once or twice might have been okay, but not every time there’s outside footage: Ted Hughes’ childhood home in Mytholmroyd, Cambridge University, Heptonstall churchyard, and various other “Yorkshire shots” involving industrial chimneys (and if you’re thinking of flying a drone over such a chimney the very least you should do is fly over it in a precise manner so that you get a shot right down inside the chimney, not just a slightly skewed view of it).

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Anyway, that being said, the rest of the documentary was flawless. The many contributors added insight to Hughes’ life, and Frieda Hughes‘ decision to speak about her parents’ relationship for the first time in public was somewhat moving, and needs no further comment as enough has been said over the years – Ms. Hughes should be able to have her say at last without critics picking her, or her words, apart. So, for those with an interest in Ted Hughes and/or Sylvia Plath’s works, and/or poetry in general, this documentary is a must – but be warned: drone cameras in use.


Some CHAPPiE Inspired Thoughts

Recollected conversation with a significant other following the watching, for the first time, of CHAPPiE (on DVD):

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“What if that [the thing that happens in the film] were the ultimate goal in human evolution – that we eventually manage to leave our bodies and exist only in consciousness, free of human form?”

“But would you be happy in such a form? How would humans continue to exist? There would be no children.”

“But what if the point of humans breeding is only to enable them to arrive at a place whereby breeding is no longer needed – where human evolution takes us away from certain death?”

“What about the children?”

“There would no longer be a need for children.”

“So you’d be happy being immortal? It wouldn’t bother you that there would be no more children being born?”

“What I’m saying is that the very idea of leaving the human body gives rise to the possibility that consciousness can continue to expand beyond its traditional limit, where it is always confined within a decaying body that will die within a set period of time, and thus (thus was probably not actually used but it fits well here) is free to explore farther and longer and in greater detail. Can you imagine that?”

“But what about the children?”

“Think about the possibilities instead. Journeying outside of our universe would actually become a possibility. That can never happen in our current form.”

“Humans need to breed. That’s what we’re made for. Humans crave children.”

“But…”


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