Volume 121 • Issue 2 • December 2013
MISC: Trinity College Miscellany Magazine is a full participating member of the Press Council of Ireland and supports the Office of the Press Ombudsman. This scheme, in addition to defending the freedom of the press, offers readers a quick, fair and free method of dealing with complaints that they may have in relation to articles that appear
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C O N T E N T S
EDITOR Denise Wilkinson
Poltically Minded 4 Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
DEPUTY EDITOR & POLITICS EDITOR Cillian Ó Fathaigh
7 Youth Unemployment: Fragments
GEEK OUT EDITOR Matthew Corbally
Cillian Ó Fathaigh
8 Education is Not a Brand
ONLINE EDITOR Bernard Mackey
10 Quo Vadis, Europa?
DESIGN & LAYOUT EDITOR Thady Senior
12 Highly Confidential: Euro Bond Tommy Gavin
Voices 14 Tattoo Through the Ages: A Social Identity Constructed Poulomi Choudhry
ILLUSTRATIONS AND ARTWORK Michelle Buckley Denise Wilkinson Charli Mathews ADVERTISING, PR AND EVENTS Emily Flaherty Lydia Fischer-Dooley Máiréad Ní Chonghaile
16 Porn Culture Meadhbh McGrath
18 Made in Heaven Niall Brehon
19 One Night in Dublin
...and don’t forget
on the page 30...
BUSINESS Ciara Forristal Rory O’Dongohue COPY EDITORS Ciara Forristal Alison Jane Bryan
Geek Out 20 Attack on Titan: Anime Review Matthew Corbally
22 From Chair to
Couch: Video Games as Art Conor Cleary
24 Thoughts on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Nilgiri Pearson
26 Archer: It’s Not a Cartoon,
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SPECIAL THANKS All at the MIS© Committee, Trinity Publications, Mark and all staff at Grehan Printers, Thady Senior, James O’Connor, Tommy Gavin, Max Riegel, Charli Matthews, Stephen Brennan and the TCD Jazz Society, Ed Teggin, Emily Flaherty, Nicholas Wilkinson
It’s Animation Done Right Ben Collopy
29 “I Warned You
About Homestruck” Ian Lynam
CONTENTS PAGE ILLUSTRATION Michelle Buckley COVER ARTWORK Denise Wilkinson
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS by JACK LEAHY illustrated by DENISE WILKINSON
he discourse about girls’ access to education was brought to global attention earlier this summer, when 12 July was declared Malala Day at the United Nations. The declaration came less than a year after Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban on her journey home from school; her punishment for speaking out about the right for her, and her female peers in Pakistan and across the world, to access education. Even at the tender age of 16, Malala Yousafzai is celebrated as a powerful education and women’s rights activist. Malala was 15 when she and two classmates were targeted by a masked gunman who picked them out on a school bus as they went home from school in Pakistan’s northwest Swat valley in October 2012. She was seriously injured in the failed assassination, and was flown to Great Britain to receive specialist treatment from doctors in Birmingham.
Malala was 15 when she and two classmates were targeted by a masked gunman who picked them out on a school bus
In a subsequent open letter, a senior member of the Pakistan Taliban claimed that Malala was not targeted for her efforts to promote education, but because the Taliban believed she was running a ‘smear campaign’ against it. Tenderness has never been a cause for shirking on Malala’s behalf: When she was 11 years old, Malala wrote a diary under the pseudonym Gul Makai in which she discussed life (specifically education) under the Taliban. This diary was published by BBC Urdu. If her identity was ever revealed it was obvious that she would suffer grave consequences. Yet she continued to write and educate other
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individuals about the conditions in Pakistan. The effect of Malala’s sustained advocacy has been to refocus the global spotlight on gender disparity in schooling and educational disadvantage across the world. The global struggle for girls to safely access education must overcome some terrifying barriers: whether compromised safety owing to the risk of sexual assault on the journey to school, cultural or religious barriers, or the practice of ‘breast ironing’, whose object is to desexualise young females from the lecherous eyes of school staff and locals. Throughout history, women have only had a limited role in education with restricted opportunities. Education - that nowadays has been recognised by a number of international conventions as a human right and a development imperative - remains beyond reach for millions of young women across the world. As pointed out by UNESCO in 2012, the preference for males over females in education has been a marked feature since ancient times; a practice that has shaped today’s gender disparities in virtually all countries to varying degrees. In Pakistan itself, there are 7.6 million children out of school at the primary level, and 58 per cent are female. The Taliban are not the only ones keeping kids out of school. Some fairly secularly minded people think of Pakistan’s children as someone else’s children – not deserving the education that their money buys for their own kids. As such, Pakistan is a booming marketplace for private education. Ask anyone on the street, and they’ll tell you it’s the biggest business in Pakistan. You can see people on donkey carts driving their children to private schools that offer English-medium education in air-conditioned rooms for 400 rupees a month. Every morning, in every small town and city, you can see kids – three on a bicycle, five on a motorbike, 10 squeezed into a rickshaw – all heading for a school somewhere. Girls top almost all university exam tables in Pakistan. Whatever sad destiny the country may be hurtling towards, there is one thing standing between Pakistan and the Taliban’s dream of heaven on earth: the number of women who have been to school, and the number of women who
couldn’t go to school but are determined to send their daughters to school, no matter the economic imperative. An educated female population is more threatening to the Taliban than armies equipped with the most advanced arsenal in military history. Malala’s strength has given these deeply-entrenched disparities a new urgency. Pakistan has gone through moments of shock in the past - floods, assassinations, violent attacks - yet the attempted killing of a 14-year old girl whose crime was to seek fair access to education has, many believe, marked a turning point. The intensification of the spotlight has not reflected well on Pakistan, even if the sitting government is making a sincere effort to open and improve national education. The salient facts are nonetheless an indictment: Pakistan, a country ranked as the 27th largest economy in terms of purchasing power by the International Monetary Fund, spends a mere 2.1 percent of the country’s GDP on education, seven times less than its investment in military forces. Comparatively, this puts the country in the bottom eight worldwide for its commitment to educating a population whose majority are under the age of 22 and never complete basic, primary school education. Furthermore, 75 percent of young girls never attend primary school, contributing to a global scale of 32 million young girls without this opportunity, according to Equal Times’ Aoun Sahi.
The Taliban are not the only “ ones keeping kids out of school.
Some fairly secularly minded people think of Pakistan’s children as someone else’s children
The public reaction to the attack on Malala is well founded. Protests against the attack have been held in several major Pakistani cities. Four thousand students were involved and participated in organised walks and prayers, seeking both to support Malala in her emphasis on girls’ education and also to secure a better future for the young girls of Pakistan. Malala is asking for the right to an education, but education is not only about knowledge, it is also about models of society, methodologies of action, and the search for the true meaning of human
existence. The Constitution of Pakistan promises free and compulsory education to all children in Pakistan. Malala Yousafzai asked for no more than this, for all of Pakistan’s children, girls and boys. Education must now be acknowledged as the first priority of the state and those political parties engaged in election campaigning must fulfill their resonating promises to prioritise access to education in the next term of office.
can see people on donkey “ You carts driving their children
to private schools that offer English-medium education in airconditioned rooms for 400 rupees a month
But while politicians and pundits in Pakistan and around the world debate the meaning and consequences of Malala’s stand for education, the girl at the centre of a story that has opened up a new debate on political Islam and social progress looks almost casually self-assured. Her wave to the camera is relaxed, her keen eyes coolly assess the situation. She has the look of a leader in the making. There’s steel in her, it appears. Far from picking on a teenager who blundered into their sights, the Taliban were rattled by a brave and strong young woman who looks like she has plenty of fight in her yet. New legislation is needed now in all provinces and federal areas in Pakistan for the right to education, which comprehensively addresses issues of access, quality, and equity for all children of Pakistan. The legislation must explicitly define norms for quality education services, roles, responsibilities, and how the implementation process will work. The process must be transparent and inclusive and involve a nationwide debate and consultation. Attitudes in Pakistan towards education for girls are changing. Now the law must catch up with them and nudge them even further.
Jack Leahy is a Senior Sophister Student of English Literature and History and the current Education Officer for the Trinity College Student Union
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YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: FRAGMENTS CILLIAN FAHY by Cillian Ó Fathaigh
JobBridge is the National Internship Scheme . . . The aim of the National Internship Scheme is to assist in
a real opportunity
. . . unable to get a job without experience . . . . . . bridge the gap between study and the beginning of their working lives. . . . Interns receive an allowance of €50 per week. . . . 6162 currently on an Internship . . . 22,138 placements have commenced since launch of the Scheme on 1st July 2011. . . . In other words, the period of internship would be a job interview for a longer period of employment . . . A total of 228 JobBridge interns have been taken on by 14 Government Departments, but none of them has been kept on after completing their placements .
. . While not in a position to offer further employment
JobBridge programme . . .
, the Office is committed to partaking in the
We have the best young generation on the planet. . . . Jobs are about more than work; jobs are about
. . . JobBridge has proven very successful.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
has accepted that there is an unacceptably high level of youth unemployment in Ireland. . . . The unemployment rate among young persons was higher than the rate among those aged between 25 and 74 in all of the Member States. . . . Taking into account
involuntary part-time work the labour market, the youth unemployment rate is close to 45%.
That the Irish Government should design, fund and implement a
and workers marginally attached to
Youth Guarantee scheme as a matter of
urgency . . . My Department is currently developing an action plan to implement the Guarantee in Ireland . . . Other: Additional funding for Youth Guarantee - labour market initiatives for young people: 14 million. . . . Youth unemployment and unemployment among people aged under 25 years causes permanent
Many young men and women
scars, its effects last a lifetime and economic recovery does not guarantee that the scars will be healed.
will say goodbye after Christmas
because they must take the decision to leave, as people all over rural Ireland and every town and city know . . . Young people have been threatened that if they do not take part in education and training, social welfare payments will be cut . . . Some of those young people
have spent three, four or five years in education; some have master’s degrees, are engineers or are otherwise well educated but there are no jobs for them.
It is the Government’s view, that the place for young people is at work.
of a flat screen television . . .
. . . The place for any young person is not permanently in front
The Government does not blame young . . Extend the application of the €100 rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance and SWA to
for being unemployed. . persons . . . who reach the age of 22, 23 and 24 . . . Total emigration from Ireland in the year to April 2013 is estimated to have reached 89,000 . . . 34.8% of all Emigrations are between the ages of 15 – 24. Young people have been affected particularly hard . . . they have been subject to falling participation, rising outward migration, and high unemployment . . . unless it is tackled promptly, this issue will become one of the most enduring legacies of the recession. . . . Cillian Ó Fathaigh is a Senior Sophister student of English Literature
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A by MATTHEW TAYLOR
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n Irish Independent story last week revealed that the powers that be are giving serious thought to re-naming Trinity in some sort of ill-conceived re-branding exercise. To this end, I would like to offer my own re-branding suggestion, to be carved above the gates of Front Arch; â€œAbandon hope all ye who enter hereâ€?. It seems emblematic that, in a time when education and the young are being under-prioritised to the point of persecution, we should be considering re-naming a four hundred and twenty one year old college rather than examining the endemic problems which have led to the education crisis. The current thought, not among the majority of people in society but among those elites who dictate public policy and economic agenda, is that education is just another commodity which can be invested in or cut and which has a value placed by the consumer, in this case not the student, but
the prospective employer. Young people as a demographic have little political importance, so it is not terribly important to the government if they sacrifice the potential of young people to the maintenance of the middle-aged and middle-class. At least, it is not important to them now, and by the time we have become middle-aged and middle-class (assuming we make it that far) the current government will be long gone and have no repercussions to face. The problem with this hypothesis, as we know, is that Ireland is suffering one of the greatest brain-drains in its history.
We have all heard the horror “ stories about job-searches.
Sending out fifty CVs and getting fifty rejection letters
Irish emigration is at its highest level since the famine. Between April of this year and April of last year, 89,000 people left the country. 70% of these are in their twenties, and 62% of those have a third level qualification. Many academics are all too happy to jump and say that Irish emigration in the 21st century has a sort of yo-yo affect, where you flee to pastures new for a few years, and then come back when you feel up to it. That seems to me, however, to be a rather blasé attitude, based on previous patterns that may not apply. How do we know people are going to come back? Beyond a sort of Guinness-sodden nostalgia for ‘Home’, there is, and looks to be for the considerable future, little to draw emigrants back. Why would you want to raise your children in a country which so drastically disrespects education? We have all heard the horror stories about job-searches. Sending out fifty CVs and getting fifty rejection letters, people, in desperate search for work, taking their third level qualifications off their CV to get a low-paying, stop-gap job (something which I myself have done). While we have systematic cuts in education, we also have the systematic undervaluing of education by employers. Whereas even ten or twenty years ago a degree from a third level institution would guarantee you a decent job, it is no longer enough to have just a degree and we must jump through multiple hoops in the perpetual game of
corporate Crufts. It is necessary to have a first, masters and probably two internships which were equally difficult to get to land a job which probably doesn’t pay. Internship culture is truly the most insidious aspect of our current model of society, for it is not for lack of resources that companies do not pay their interns, it is out of pure self-interest and a vapid fascination with cutting overheads and expenses at every turn. And why should they pay us, when we are all so willing to participate in their charade? When we refuse to demand a fair wage for fair work? Labour which receives no reward has no worth, and we are rendered worthless by our engagement in it. Either that or we could get €150 a week to stock shelves. We are indentured slaves to a system poised to exploit us at every turn. Indeed, at the Irish economic forum this year, we were forced to listen to the disturbing recommendations of various captains of industry who told us that Ireland has too many universities and that not enough emphasis was being placed on tooling the skills of young people towards the needs of employers, as though we are little more than ill-fitting cogs which must be filed down so as to fit in. What we are told, therefore, is that it is not us that matter. We have too much access, too much choice, and by doing what we want to do in college, we are upsetting the Chairman of Glen Dimplex, who emphasises the need to pick education’s “winners and losers”. It all returns to education and the value thereof. If we tell ourselves that we put a higher value on education before the recession (possibly the most overused and hideous expression in the English language) we are wrong.
It is not for lack of resources “ that companies do not pay their interns, it is out of pure selfinterest and a vapid fascination with cutting overheads and expenses at every turn
Before 2008, Ireland spent the fourthleast per capita on education of any country in the OECD, 4.7% compared to an average of 5.7%, and this is before a period of 5 years of consecutive cuts to education at all levels as well as cuts in maintenance grants and student support. Policy wonks at the
department of education are often heard stating that Ireland must be a little more Scandinavian, and our education should be more like Finland’s. The shoe has yet to drop that if we wish for an education system like Finland’s (a good model which would probably suit Ireland quite well) we have to spend money like Finland, a country which spends 7% of its GDP on education, producing the highest literacy and numeracy rates in the world. So, if we’re not going to spend our way out of the education doldrums, we seem to be trying to think our way out of it. While some might find it pleasant that we have a government department running on the maxim Cogito Ergo Sum, thinking like a Finn does not make you one. And we return to the idea of changing the name of something. If we cannot pay for Trinity to be a better university, we will pretend that it is a different university so that we can trick foreigners from outside the EU into coming here where we can hose them down for all their money. More than anything else, the cutting back of and the lack of worth placed upon qualification, fundamentally undervalues the process of education itself. It is a process, not a system of targets to be met. It has the power to make small nations great, to raise poor nations to rich ones and to pull individuals and families from the poverty in which they may find themselves. It is, as the great fictional president Josiah Bartlett states “the silver bullet” which has the power to eradicate the ills of an entire society. It makes us more thoughtful, more empathetic, more enlightened and more capable of confronting and dealing with the problems we face. It gives power to the powerless, hope to the hopeless. Equally, without it, and without broad access to it, we are doomed to a perpetual languor and stagnation. When students cannot afford supposedly free education, when graduates must desert their homes because they are refused opportunity, and when the young must turn away from education out of financial necessity, we are faced with a dire future where little hope resides. The only thing we can do is create our own opportunities by challenging and changing a system which does not care about us.
Matt Taylor is a Trinity College Graduate and former UT Opinion Editor
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QUO VADIS, EUROPA? by MAX RIEGEL
ith the 2014 elections to the European Parliament approaching, one question is paramount: which direction will the EU take in the next few years? Will it gradually turn into the United States of Europe or will powers be taken away from Brussels and returned to the member states, eventually leaving just the single market? Ever since six countries established the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, an organisation which would ultimately lead to the foundation of the European Union in 1993, there has been a struggle between national and European interests. Each member state has tried to maximise profit from Union membership whilst giving away as little sovereignty and money as possible. This problem has become much more obvious in recent years during the euro crisis. In this crisis Germany, as the Union’s largest member state, is playing a pivotal role in the efforts to resolve it.
There is a failure on the part of politicians to explain that most of the money has not been paid out, but is just kept in the background as a safety net
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Historically, Germans have always had an overwhelmingly positive view of the EU but things have slowly changed over the last couple of years. There is a growing number of people suggesting that Germany should stop giving money to ailing member states or even leave the euro zone, suggesting it would be better off by itself. Although traditionally one of the largest benefactors of the single market due to an economic model heavily focused on export, people are increasingly feeling that picking up the tab for other countries just is not worth it for Germany. This is because they are being confronted with staggeringly high numbers of what they allegedly have to pay to other member states. There is a failure on the part of politicians, to explain that most of the money has not been paid out but is just kept in the background as a safety net. Out of the 700 billion euro of authorised capital which the newly-established European Stability Mechanism (ESM) can lend to euro zone countries if needed, only 80 billion are paid-in capital, of which Germany is providing 27 billion euro. As high as this number may seem at first glance, it is much less impressive when put into context and compared to 2,5 trillion euro German GDP in 2011 and it is a pittance compared to what the German economy gains by virtue of unrestricted access to the European
market. There is therefore a failure on behalf of politicians to properly explain what the financial liabilities really are.
European Union is much like a life insurance in the era of globalisation. “ The No European nation can compete with giants such as the US or the BRIC countries by itself ” Another important, and historic, factor which is consistently being overlooked in Germany in the debate on the bailout is the fact that Germany itself received large sums of money through the European Recovery Program, more commonly known as the Marshall Plan, after World War II. Undoubtedly, those countries which are in financial troubles at the moment did make mistakes. They are largely the result of a combination of years of living beyond their means and the mass accumulation of debt by governments and consumers as well as reckless activities in the financial sector. But pointing fingers and victimisation are not going to help and are not what helped trigger the so-called German economic miracle in the 1950s and 60s. The European Union is much like a life insurance in the era of globalisation. No European nation can compete with giants such as the US or the BRIC countries by itself. In 1900 Europe’s share of the world population was 25%. In 2012 that figure stood at 10,5%, including non-EU countries. In times like these, it is sensible to move away from nation state concepts and towards a stronger European Union. While countries such as Germany should accept the fact that they might be picking up the tab for other countries and realise that this is indeed a small price to pay for European peace and prosperity, smaller countries, and especially those that are part of the bailout programme, need to stop being afraid of losing sovereignty and instead understand that they too, are better off with their businesses being able to sell their products to over 500 million customers, and that their people have access to a job market of gigantic proportions. The level of unity, peace and prosperity which has which has been achieved since the unspeakable atrocities of World War II is remarkable and unrivalled in world history. Present problems and future challenges are best solved together and not individually. According to the EU motto, we should be united in diversity, working together whilst preserving our various national idiosyncrasies and cultural identities As we approach the EU elections, we are coming to a crossroads. Let’s take the right turn.
Max Riegel is a Senior Sophister student in Law and German
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EURO BOND by TOMMY GAVIN and illustrated by DENISE WILKINSON Intrigue, Intelligence and Espionage in the European Union
t the beginning of November, EU Justice Minister Viviane Redding said that Europe should have its own spy agency. Speaking with a Greek daily newspaper Naftemporiki on the NSA scandal, in which it emerged that the US National Surveillance Agency intercepts millions of emails from European citizens and spies on over 35 European leaders, she said “What we need is to strengthen Europe
in this field. […] The NSA needs a counterweight. My long term proposal would be to set up a European intelligence service by 2020.
The European “ Union already has an
intelligence community, though they just don’t necessarily call it that because it’s a mishmash of six cobbled together agencies and they don’t conduct covert operations
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She was speaking off the cuff and her comments don’t necessarily reflect policy intentions just yet, such a proposal would require a treaty change but it’s not the first time something like this has been proposed. A similar idea was put forward by Austria and Belgium in 2004 without much interest from France, Germany or the UK. In 2011 Austria raised the idea again when its Counter-Terrorism chief asked the European Parliament “Is it realistic to start thinking about an EU intelligence service?” Apparently he was speaking rhetorically, because he then answered his own question saying “I think it is realistic.” The European Union already has an intelligence community though, they just don’t necessarily call it that because it’s a mishmash of six cobbled together agencies and they don’t conduct covert operations. They employ 1,300 people (say nothing of interns!), and collectively spend an annual budget of 230 million euro. Europol was founded in 1993 and is the only EU intelligence body established by treaty, having been agreed to in Maastricht in 1992. They are responsible for collection, analysis and exchange of criminal intelligence, and if ever a European FBI arises, it will be out of Europol. Frontex is the European external border agency and was founded in 2004 by the EU Council. It has been criticised for failing to adequately consider international and European asylum and human rights law, but Frontex and Europol are both subject to some parliamentary oversight by the EU Parliament. The other four are much smaller, and are not subject to Parliamentary oversight. They are the Intelligence Analysis Centre (Int Cen), the Satellite Center (Sat Cen), the Intelligence Directorate (Int Dir) and the Situation Room (crisis monitoring). They are now part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) which itself was created by the Lisbon Treaty to be a European Union diplomacy corp. Austrian MP Martin Ehrenhauser writes in his blog that they’re already getting meshed up in “ever more complex decision-making structures with diffuse responsibilities.” If this is all starting to look like some vast EU conspiracy, that’s misleading, because the opposite is true. The mishmash is the result of the lack of a plan. Organisations
emerged on an ad hoc basis in response to individual needs with no overall strategy. Not that there aren’t conspiracies though, Brussels is a bear pit of intrigue and espionage. In an interview with EUobserver last year, Alain Winants, head of Belgium’s state security service (VSSE) said that it is the “spy capital of the world.” It shouldn’t be surprising given the concentration of business interests, diplomats and international institutions, in addition to the EU; NATO is headquartered in Brussels. “We are not speaking in the dozens,” Winants said, “we are speaking in the hundreds, several hundreds” of foreign intelligence agents operating in Brussels. The city may seem the image of intensely dull Euro-politics on the surface, but scratch that surface and you’ll find a bizarre looking-glass world of intrigue and competing interests, and every once in a while, evidence of the absurd goings on break through, even if you’ll never know the whole story. For example, in October last year Nicholas Mockford, a British executive for the oil company ExxonMobil was brutally gunned down execution style in a Brussels suburbs. He was shot three times leaving a restaurant, once while on the ground, and his assailants escaped by motorcycle.
was founded in 1993 “andEuropol is the only EU intelligence
body established by treaty, having been agreed to in Maastricht in 1992
That same month, the offices of antitobacco NGOs were burgled in the middle of the city. Intruders disabled alarms and dodged internal motion detectors to steal seven laptops and documents relating to confidential information on work towards a new EU tobacco law. A statement from the European Public Health Alliance (Epha) said “this was not opportunistic, but a professional and well-equipped team.” Then of course there are the routine cyber espionage raids, such as when the EU Council chief ’s emails were compromised ahead of an EU-China summit in 2011, or that same year when the EU Commission and EEAS were hit by a major cyber-attack ahead of a key EU Spring summit.
It may seem then that it makes sense to at least have a formal and accountable intelligence apparatus on a European level. Perhaps it does. Any enthusiasm for such an idea needs to be tempered with a cold dose of history though; the repercussions from the most infamous Europe-wide covert intelligence initiative are still ringing.
Berlusconi is known to “haveSilvio been a member of P2; one of the organisations involved in facilitating operation Gladio
Operation Gladio, set up by NATO following World War II as part of its socalled “secret anti-communist NATO protocols” to disrupt and curtail any growth of support for leftist parties or causes, out of fear that it may lead to Soviet influence. This meant organising and arming right wing paramilitary cadres, including fascists and ex-Nazi’s, directly leading to the “Years of Lead” in Italy, a period characterised by bombings and bloodshed. Silvio Berlusconi is known to have been a member of P2; one of the organisations involved in facilitating operation Gladio. In 1990 the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Gladio and “the existence for 40 years of a clandestine parallel intelligence” and “armed operations organisations in several Member States of the Community,” which “escaped all democratic controls and has been run by the secret services of the states concerned in collaboration with NATO.” It also demanded a full investigation into the nature and structure of Gladio, which has yet to occur. The question then of what kind of EU intelligence service there should be, should always be prefaced with the question: what kind of EU should there be?
Tommy Gavin is not, nor has he ever been, a spy. He does, however, tweet coded messages at @abandonbrain
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TATTOO THROUGH THE AGES: A Social identity constructed by POULOMI CHOUDHRY
attoos as a cultural phenomena are incredibly interesting. If you come across a stranger covered in visible tattoos, a part of you would always want to know the ‘story’ – the reason behind the tattoos. And that’s exactly what tattoos are all about – they tell a story – a story that can combine within itself the personal history of the wearer and the complex and often turbulent past of what it means to be an ‘inked’ person. Even if today a portion of tattoo enthusiasts have tattoos simply for cosmetic purposes, it serves to portray their individual choices. At other times, tattoos can provide a glimpse into a new civilization. The first physical evidence of tattoo was found on ‘Ötzi the Iceman’ (or “Frozen Fritz,” as the British tabloids like to call him) who lived around 5,300 years ago. His body
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was covered with over 50 tattoos consisting of simple lines and crosses, which are believed to be marks of pain relieving treatments similar to acupuncture. Thereafter, we find evidence of tattoos on the female Egyptian mummies, which are generally believed to have cosmetic as well as religious significance.
Apart from being a marker for the criminals, “ tattoos also became a marker for rape victims ” Now let us fast forward to the present day scenario when LED enabled tattoo implants are already close to becoming a reality. You can soon have a fluid (almost cybernetic) piece of skin art that can also double up as your medical assistant, reassembling itself under your skin to provide you with real-time information about your blood-sugar levels! Yet, even though tattoos have been a part of human history for more than five thousand years, they still have an element of taboo attached to them. So why do people get ‘inked’? Why did some of our ancestors get ‘inked’? To figure out this social phenomenon, it would be interesting to have a look at the genesis of tattoos through various cultures. Most tattoo aficionados today (especially in the West) have a fascination for Chinese art or kanji characters, and yet the fact remains that for a very long time, irezumi, their Japanese equivalent, was a huge taboo. They were used in both the cultures as means of marking criminals and their crimes. Apart from being a marker for the criminals, tattoos also became a marker for rape victims. Stories of kidnapping and rape were etched forever on the tattooed bodies of Armenian survivors of the Genocide. Little boys and girls were stolen and made to work as servants or as pleasure-providers in Turkish brothels. To ensure that they could not run away, they were marked with tattoos, and the ones that were rescued later lived with the constant reminder of their nightmare on their skin. Using tattoos to declare one’s ownership of another human being is not new. Roman soldiers were branded with identifying tattoos that ensured that they did not desert. Even though major parts of the history of tattoos involve crimes and criminals, there are many civilizations where having a tattoo was a matter of social pride. The old Māori tribes of Polynesia have tattoos based on their status in the community. This form of tattoo has now been imbibed into and molded by popular culture and is identified with what is commonly known as the ‘tribal tattoo.’ A similar form of tattoo culture is found among few of the smaller tribes of Arunachal Pradesh in India where girls were tattooed on reaching sexual m a t u r i t y, after marriage and after conceiving. While tattooing was being practiced in various cultures through the world, the advent of maritime trading shook things up and changed the social dynamics involving tattoos to a very large degree. American sailors travelling to far-away lands like China began to get tattoos as souvenirs and this soon became a part of their official identification. A detailed description and sometimes even a sketch of the
tattoos were included in the sailor’s protection papers and this ensured that others could not forge their documents. For the first time perhaps, a new element of personal choice became a part of the tattooing process and though tattoos continued to be a symbol for the outlaws, circus freaks and criminals, the wheels of change were already set in motion. Today, tattoos are in an interesting place in the cultural spectrum. Some corporate houses may refuse job to a person with tattoos, while the same person would be accepted completely if he is the lead singer of a rock band. So is this bias a throwback from all the years of taboo against tattoos? Perhaps, yes. A man who walks out of a shop with his arms completely covered in ink will automatically suggest rebellion and non-conformity. Another man with a small tattoo on a less visible part of his body will probably be less rebellious but equally interested in creating an indelible mark that announces his identity.
tattoo implants are already close to “ LED enabledbecoming a reality ” Tattoos today are mostly a personal short-hand of our selfbeliefs and identity that we can proclaim through a medium that’s been socially marginalized for ages. Tattoos have thus become simultaneously an act of conformity and defiance.
Poulomi Choudhry is currently taking a Masters in Popular Literature.
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t any given moment, around 29,000 Internet users, 66% of them male, are watching porn. With over 26 million dedicated sites, porn has become practically synonymous with the internet. Yet pornography generally has a pretty bad reputation, considered by many to be a dirty habit reserved for people with extreme fetishes, sex addicts and pubescent boys.
As we are constantly exposed to porn, society becomes increasingly desensitised, and elements of porn leak into mainstream media
Public disapproval of porn is also rooted in the general stigma surrounding masturbation. There are undeniably problematic aspects of porn — with over a billion images available on the Internet and more being added every day, porn is virtually limitless in quantity, and one ill-judged click can lead you to one of the most disturbing scenes of your life. There’s an overwhelming amount of violent, misogynistic content out there, as well as content that has been falsified to fit a certain normative framework. This framework functions not only in the films themselves, but in the tags and categories on porn sites, which impose sexual characteristics on specific races, genders and sexualities. As we are constantly exposed to porn, society becomes increasingly desensitised, and elements of porn leak into mainstream media. Advertising, film and music videos have become saturated with softcore pornographic imagery, leading to a hypersexualised porn culture, ultimately influencing our perceptions of the world and our own individual psychology. As our culture has become “porned,” men and women don’t even need to watch porn to be profoundly affected by it, because pornographic ideologies and representations are now delivered to us by way of popular culture. Men and women have come (consciously and subconsciously) to internalise a harmful porn ideology, an ideology that defines what is “sexy,” which often manifests itself on advice on how to appear desirable to a partner and enviable to your peers. The most obvious example of this is female genital waxing, which can be seen as the norm for women in porn, and has gradually filtered down into mainstream media, most notably in advertising and women’s magazines such as Cosmopolitan. Although the concept of empowered choice is an extremely positive thing, the main reason women give when surveyed on why they choose to wax is that they feel it is expected of them. The ideology of porn similarly affects men, as the image of the extremely muscular, idealised male body is held up for men — particularly young men — to emulate. Men and women are held captive by these images, as they are led to believe that conforming to these hypersexualised images is the key to success and happiness.
Amidst the choking blowjobs, rape fantasies “ and lady-friendly “romance porn,” there are plenty of great videos that simply feature sexy people doing sexy things to each other
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PORN C by MEADHBH MCGRATH
and illustrated by MICHELLE BUCKLEY
Much of today’s porn appeals to a conventionally heterosexual male kind of erotic fantasy, which effectually eroticises male dominance. Women have long been socially conditioned to believe that porn is misogynistic, objectifying and degrading. The 1970s anti-porn movement, championed by radical feminists Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem, argued that pornography was a “celebration of rape and injury to women.” Today there is still a sexist taboo surrounding female consumption of porn, which limits the expression of female sexuality and implies that “good girls” don’t watch porn. This is further emphasised by the term “lady porn,” which was coined to describe the rising popularity of boyish porn star James Deen and his dedicated female following. The media have taken to calling Deen’s films “porn for ladies,” implying that all other mainstream porn is somehow not for women. Such gender-specific branding and marketing of different types of porn relies on stereotype and social conditioning, resting on the notion that women require mild, vanilla content and can’t handle more hardcore stuff.
So long as porn is ethical, which is made “possible by sites like Kink, it can function
as a powerful means of communication and exploration
However, all of this is not to say that porn is all bad. It is unlikely that all 42.7% of Internet porn viewers endorse sexual violence and misogyny, and a lot of porn can be incredibly sexy and liberating. Amidst the choking blowjobs, rape fantasies and lady-friendly “romance porn,” there are plenty of great videos that simply feature sexy people doing sexy things to each other. There is also a wealth of ethical porn worth discussing, such as radical feminist queer porn, anti-patriarchal sado-masochistic porn and porn that interacts with viewers directly, through webcams, chatrooms and wrestling tournaments. Over the summer, I toured Kink.com’s studios in San Francisco. Kink is a BDSM-oriented video business that aims to make BDSM and bondage more accessible to viewers. The team at Kink are passionate about making “real” porn in which actors not only consent but enjoy their work. So long as porn is ethical, which is made possible by sites like Kink, it can function as a powerful means of communication and exploration. Porn is undoubtedly the safest way to experiment with sexual boundaries and can be an excellent resource for discovering new things that turn you on. It can act as an accessible means of exploring your sexuality without actually engaging in sex, providing a medium for education about others’ sexual fantasies in order to realise your own. Porn can be enjoyed in valuable, constructive ways to enhance your sexuality and general well-being, and all types of porn should be explored and enjoyed. After all, you’ll never be pleased by anyone until you learn how to please yourself.
Meadhbh Mcgrath is a Senior Sophister student of English Literature Michelle Buckley is also a Senior Sophister student of English Literature
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HEAVEN by NIALL BREHON
ade in Chelsea (MIC) must rank amongst the greatest things of our time. You’ll note that I didn’t say “greatest television shows” or “greatest entertainment programmes”, or even “greatest mind-bendingly postmodern, excruciatingly excellent televisual wonders” of this generation. It is all of those. What Made in Chelsea does, is transcend television in a manner the likes of which have never been seen before, and will never be seen again. It behoves me to say that it cannot be precisely constrained by such a burdensome definition as “television show”. It’s possible that one, or even two, of you might not know what Made in Chelsea is. Not everyone has a television. To tell you the truth though, even I can’t quite grasp at its essence with any kind of surety. On the surface, it is a blandly entertaining Channel 4 product, filled with characters who are initially so forgettable and uniform that we must constantly be reminded of their names. To distinguish between Kimberley and Louise and Binky and Cheska and Rosie and Millie and Miffy and Lucy and Belle and Tiffany, ever rotating in postmodern prisms is a clear statement on the futility of concrete expression and social entropy. Those of you with a mere passing familiarity of the show will be familiar with the recurring theme of champagne swilling, lunch dates and extravagantly themed parties which melt into one another, Daaahling. Those of you who have studied the show intensely, however, will note that the Gatsby-esque grandeur and haute couture are simply dressings to sprinkle over the of genuine emotive expression. Andy’s Season 5 declaration of love for Louise, for example, spoken with the wide-eyed intensity of a man wishing to escape beyond the confines of words, in search of truth itself, declares with Beckettian restraint: ‘’I love you babe’’. So beautiful in its simplicity – so elegantly executed to bring tears to the eyes of both Louise and the viewer. Yet they are confused and unwilling tears. Andy, like so many on the show, is a prime example of the hero-villain
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dichotomy so ubiquitous in MIC. Indeed, along with Spencer and Jamie (whose relationship is akin to that of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, except done far better), Andy is a fascinating character study who remains impossible to pin down precisely. The standard of acting in MIC elevates it beyond anything ever attempted before in the television medium. MIC is a scripted reality show, and as such makes an incredibly complex statement on the boundaries of real and not-real, probably in line with Althusser’s theories of the totally incredible, or Freud’s theory of the uncanny, das unheimsomething – here we have real life people who are characters in a television show which is their life, giving academics everywhere a postmodern boner. ZOMG like. What remains to be said on the subject of this fascinating show resides in its plot. MIC hasn’t won seventeen Emmys, four Oscars and two FA Cups over the last three years for nothing. Its love triangles are more pointy and prickly than Aunt Firecrotch’s bush. Convoluted doesn’t come close to covering it; the true power of MIC, in essence, is that its plot is LIFE itself. Although it charts the predictable and unpredictable foibles of reality ,this is no real reality. Instead it is a heightened reality capable of staggering statements of intent and a fearless exposition of truth, and wonder, and beauty, and the glory that is Marc-Francis Vandelli Orlov-Romanovsky. I’m not kidding about that one. With Season 6 just beginning, I cannot state strongly enough how imperative it is to watch MIC, if you haven’t done so before. Breathtakingly postmodern, Episode 1 opens with a blurry Spencer gradually coming into focus as he breaks the fourth wall and addresses the camera in a scene reminiscent of Kevin Spacey a la House of Cards: self-aware and self-destructing, and we are prime witness to its inherent, absolute televisual majesty.
Nial Brehon is a Senior Sophister Student of English Literature
Overheard on a city bus, 22 November 1963: “Our little bit of grandeur is gone.” A cold and wintry snap, a light frosting of snow dusts the dozing town under a prescient yellow moon. On such evenings – even on Fridays – the warmth of the Reading Room is almost an attraction and I get stuck in to my Pilgrim’s Progress.
was born in Edinburgh and now lives in Fife. He studied English at Magee on a Martha Magee scholarship, and then at TCD (BA Hons1964). He has an MPhil (1970) from Sussex, and worked at Purdue University on the journal Modern Fiction Studies (1967–8). His later career was in the publishing trade, including stints at OUP, Longman and Collins. He worked latterly for Learning and Teaching Scotland, the Scottish school curriculum body. He has written poetry for many years, much of it published in Scottish anthologies and magazines. For Blackstaff Press he edited Irish Folk and Fairy Tales (2nd edn, 2008), as well as The Scottish Reciter (1993). He also edited The Genius and Other Irish Stories (Puffin, 1988), for young readers.
Tonight a muffled restlessness disturbs the studious calm. Is it me, hankering for a wild week-end or is there something else? Ten o’clock. A bell rings, so soon. A tide of students ebbs from a round room, returns borrowed books, and seeps into the white crispness of Front Square. I pause to light a cigarette. A friend asks, through the gloom, Did you hear? Hear what? I ask, recalling the uneasy ripples across the Reading Room and the knelling bell. A doom? We talk, and then go separate ways. I, in a blank daze, enter a pub to watch it all on a merciless blue screen high on a bar-room wall. Old Bartkus buys me a beer. I sip at it and try to take this story in. From Vanity Fair, beyond Doubting Castle and across the River of Death, with all his flaws and scars Mr President has today passed over. Today the trumpets sound for him upon the other side. Looking around this room I read one thought on every silent face and taut now he is gone from Camelot. Who will fight Giant Despair for us now and help us through this dark shadow? Poems © Gordon Jarvie 2013 24 Castle Street Crail, Fife KY10 3SH t : 01333 451744 e : email@example.com
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ATTACK ON TITAN: ANIME REVIEW by MATTHEW CORBALLY
ttack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin in Japanese) is perhaps one of the best anime series to come out this year. Adapted from the manga by Hajime Isayama, the setting is as follows; at some point in the future humanity has been driven to the edge of extinction by the Titans, a race of man-eating, nigh-invulnerable giants seemingly devoid of intelligence.
Attack on Titan is one of the grimmest, most depressing and horrifying series I’ve ever seen
The remnants of the human race have taken refuge within a fortified city, leading to a stalemate where the Titans have been unable to enter the city, but every excursion against the Titans has ended in utter failure (this is a recurring trope!). Humanity thus enjoys a century of peace, until one day a Colossal Titan appears and breaks down a section of the outer wall, allowing its smaller kin to wander in and wreak havoc. Among the survivors
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from this disaster are three children: Eren, (the hot-blooded protagonist), Mikasa (his quiet yet deadly adoptive sister) and Armin (his scholarly best friend). Eren swears a bloody vow to exterminate the Titans from the planet, and so the trio decide to join the military and fight back against the Titans. While the above premise may make this seem like a standard action series, Attack on Titan is one of the grimmest, most depressing and horrifying series I’ve ever seen. The Titans themselves are frightening monsters, successfully combining the primal fears of giants and of being eaten alive. The Titans, with a lack of clothing and a constant vacuous smile, may at first look like gigantic stoned nudists; up until the moment where they snatch someone from the ground and, ignoring their terrified pleas for mercy, swallow them whole, with expressions of bliss on their face. The unnerving terror of the Titans is felt by the characters as well as the audience, and so we are treated to repeated
depictions of young soldiers succumbing to abject despair and PTSD as more and more of their comrades lose their lives seemingly in vain. The hopelessness and brutality of humanity’s situation is driven home in the first episode, in which Eren and Mikasa witness a Titan eat their mother and the military abandon their hometown as a lost cause.
hopelessness and brutality “ofThe humanity’s situation is driven home in the first episode ” Failure is a depressingly constant outcome throughout the series, but occasionally, through persistence and pure luck, humanity manages to win (albeit at great cost) and to learn a little bit more about their enemy. The sheer improbable nature of the Titans is one of the show’s main mysteries, and trying to understand how the Titans can eat humans and exist in huge numbers despite lack of digestive and reproductive organs is what drives the characters forward. Particularly
Pokemon X and Y: What to Expect David Flanagan
shocking developments and revelations in later episodes raise more questions than they answer, and so the audience is left pondering the mystery of the Titans, humanity’s relationship to them and the world they fight over.
Games of Thrones) “doesAOTnot(like hold back from killing
off characters, no matter how cool and skilled they are
Humanity is not entirely defenceless, however, and despite possessing only a mediaeval level of technology, the military uses 3D Manuever Gear (a steampunk jetpack with Spiderman-esque wires and grappling hooks) to reach the weak spot on the back of a Titan’s neck. This leads to some stunningly well-animated scenes where we see soldiers gliding between buildings and dodging the Titans’ attacks to deliver vicious killing blows. The fights are underlined by a continual anxiety for the lives of our favourite soldiers, as AOT (like Games of Thrones) does not hold back
from killing off characters, no matter how cool and skilled they are. Apart from the fight scenes, the anime features some beautifully animated vistas of medieval cities and natural landscapes, which contrast nicely with the blood and gore present throughout the series. The music is also worth mentioning, as the soundtrack features a compelling combination of choir music, upbeat rock goodness and threatening synths, and the opening song ‘Guren no Yumina’ is utterly addictive in its brilliance. Despite all the strengths of AOT, there are a few nagging flaws and weaknesses that keep it back from true greatness. Character development and interaction doesn’t get that much screentime compared to other animes, and thus some characters feel flat, leaving us unaffected by their gruesome, terrifying deaths. The prevalence of animation errors and reuse of assets throughout later episodes leads one to suspect that the high-quality fight scenes were more expensive than expected, and so the studio decided to cut
some corners when it came to animation. This compounds another problem that comes with manga adaptations; where action scenes are juxtaposed with lengthy dialogues and flashbacks that take longer to watch than to read.
Despite all the strengths of “ AOT, there are a few nagging flaws and weaknesses that keep it back from true greatness
In some cases this seriously affects the pacing of the episode, leading me to believe that the ‘TO BE CONTINUED’ screen is actually a form of sadistic torture. Despite these flaws, I would still recommend putting aside a weekend to marathon through AOT with a friend. Cringing in fear, crying in despair, cheering in (rare) exultation and flat out screaming in shock is all the more fun when you’ve someone to do it with.
Matthew Corbally is currently taking a Masters in Popular Literature.
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FROM CHAIR TO COUCH: VIDEO GAMES AS ART by CONOR CLEARY
riginally, for me, books had the advantage over videogames because they had fewer cables. Gandalf and Frodo were able to follow me around the house in a way that Crash Bandicoot couldn’t. Books were mobile, and while they didn’t have a back-light, it’s not like lamps were scarce. Videogames, however, meant a controller and a cord that measured less than two metres. I was tethered to the console, the console to the TV and both had wires anchoring them to the wall.
I was always more excited “ about buying videogames than books ” It would be another few years before Pokémon and the Game Boy, with Pokécar-journeys and Poké-motion-sickness all still ahead of me. If I wanted to play a game, I’d have to go into the toy room, clear enough space for a chair, and huddle in front of a very small screen. The chair had a wonky leg, and so constantly shook as I mashed buttons. There were no curtains in the room, which kind of
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freaked me out at night. I also didn’t like the way my sister’s dolls would stare at me; and Barbie has that specificlly weird and paralyzed smile which is creepy as fuck. The room was often cold. And yet, I was always more excited about buying videogames than books. Maybe that’s just because I’m middle-class and videogames are more expensive. But still, there was something about them. The boxes they used to come in were almost, but not quite, square. They were made of this hard sheet-plastic that made a beautiful crack and snap if broken. The undersides of the discs were inexplicably black and I use to scowl and worry and cringe at all the scratches which showed so easily. A Freudian might have something to say about the pleasure derived from pushing and pulling the CD in and out of the PlayStation. I feel I should warn you that, at this point, no cogent argument is about to be laid before you. It would be boring for me, and a little condescending to you. If you’re about my age then, like me, you’re already familiar with the script. All votes have been cast or tampered with and the
þing has elected its chieftain: Videogames are art. Certainly, great authorities have disagreed over the years; Robert Ebert and Hideo Kojima to name a few. But their arguments have been overpowered by games like Portal, Minecraft and Skyrim. We enthusiasts have stopped listening to their robustly reasoned rationales, as we’ve been too busy enjoying art. But what does it mean when puzzles, Lego, and virtual dress-up start to be considered art? What happens when listener, reader and viewer are all subsumed into player? Should we be allowed to win at a piece of art? Can thumbs be the great gateway between us and the aesthetic ideal? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. What something means, how we relate to it, what’s allowed in the rule book: these are the questions all art demands of us.
What does it mean when puzzles, Lego, and virtual dressup start to be considered art?
What did it mean when people began scratching down loose baggy novels
without verse? Is a movie goer hearing a story, admiring a photograph or listening to music? Why does it feel like I’ve won something when I finally crawl to the end of Middlemarch? The Moonlight Sonata begins with a thumb.
any good little artist, I probably “ Like spend more time thinking about videogames than playing them ” I have a Kindle now, so these days my books and videogames have about the same amount of cables. (Kindles are way better than hard copies, as it happens, but that’s an article for another day.) As an adult, I mostly game in the sitting room, on a large flat screen. I am no longer forced to sit on a wonky-legged chair, but recline into a deepseated couch. The sitting room has curtains, and while my sister’s dolls still scare the shit out of me, there are fewer of them now. God bless insulation. Like any good little artist, I probably spend more time thinking about videogames than playing them. I wonder if the satisfaction I get from completing a level of Portal is similar to the satisfaction of reciting a particularly good line of poetry. I wonder if the implied story in the landscape of Minecraft is perhaps some of the best exposition I’ve ever seen. I don’t spend much time thinking about Skyrim, but I really love throwing fireballs at peasants. I do, however, think a little bit about being tethered to that console, and the days and nights I’ve spent in front of that screen. Good art, I think, confines you, ties you up in itself. It narrows your focus and broadens your perspective. I love books, and music, and poetry, and the thousand different ways they’ve complicated the way I see the world. But videogames do that too. And now they’re allowed in the sitting room.
Conor Cleary is a Senior Sophister student of English Literature
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THOUGHTS ON THE HOBBIT:
AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY by NILGIRI PEARSON
illustrated by DENISE WILKINSON
recently watched Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (THUJ). I loved The Hobbit, the book, and was rereading it when I thought I might as well watch the film to cap the first third of the book; the portion that the film covers. Full disclosure: I love Tolkien’s books with a passion. I can quote tracts of The Silmarillion and The Hobbit by heart, and I know too many obscure characters from The Lord of the Rings to sit silently while Tom Bombadil is redacted from The Fellowship of the Ring. Cuts to a film, particularly one based on a book as long as The Lord of the Rings are, invariably, inevitable; any adaptation will also entail creative license. But so much of the story arc of THUJ was completely fabricated that I had to wonder why they bothered making the movie at all. At least from the point of view of artistry, the remuneration from adding another three films to the franchise is obvious. That is the world we live in. What of The Hobbit, the film? It is a beautiful movie. The streets of Esgaroth teeming with medieval–styled inhabitants going about their business under the long shadow cast by the Lonely Mountain and its great front gate is surely something every reader of the book has paused to imagine. Likewise the images of dwarves mining the seams of gold descending from the mountain’s peak to its roots is a fair extrapolation of the tales of its wealth and splendor told to a young Bilbo by the Dwarves who descended on his home at the beginning of the book. To draw us in with such whimsy is commendable on Jackson’s part.
deserves credit to the extent that, like the LoTR films, it “ THUJ has, so far, maintained the architecture of the book ” But the story of the Arkenstone is pure fabrication and does no justice to Tolkien’s mythology. It is obvious that Jackson is setting the stage for the role that the Arkenstone – the heart of the mountain – will play in the sequels to THUJ. It was indeed an heirloom of the house of Thorin Oakenshield, a main character in both the book and the film, the wandering, dispossessed dwarf, seeking to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. However, the idea that elves would ever pay homage to the dwarves because of it is laughable. To present the relationship between the two is simply to anticipate the antagonism that arises later in The Lord of the Rings. The “sickness” of the Thrain as some kind of precursor to Smaug’s attack is also ludicrous. The avariciousness of Dwarves is well known to those acquainted with the backstory to The Lord of the Rings but there is no connection between the two. Or rather, there is, but it has everything to do with the ancient animosity between dwarves and elves; nothing to do with dragons. Yet, in the introduction to THUJ: “Where sickness thrives, bad things follow.” It is also unfair to represent Daîn, Thorin’s cousin from the Iron Hills as unwilling to help. No army could
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defeat a dragon, as dragons exist in Tolkien’s world. But these are only affronts to the purists. What troubles me most is the story-arc involving “The Pale Orc.” This is an extrapolated story-arc drawn from a single line in the book about “Azog” an orc from Moria, the father of “Bolg” who ought to appear later in the movie series. Even less in keeping with Tolkien’s original is the relationship between this orc and the “Necromancer” in Dol Guldur – the haunted ruins in Mirkwood. It’s not that the connection isn’t plausible – it’s just that it is a total divergence from the book and requires contortions and fabrication to work it in within the general framework of The Hobbit itself. I expect, from the presence of the White Council of Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond, and Galadriel that, for want of battle scenes, the assault on Dol Guldur will be featured in the sequels to THUJ, although this is drawn from Unfinished Tales, a book of backstories to various characters and events in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit compiled from Tolkien’s notes. Having said all this, THUJ deserves credit to the extent that, like the LoTR films, it has, so far, maintained the architecture of the book. To someone familiar enough with the book to remember long passages, it comes as welcome respite from the cheesy, hackneyed chicanery, to hear some of Tolkien’s original text worked in; and, generally speaking, this is done wherever possible. I’m not sure how to conclude what must seem like a bit of a rant about how a film couldn’t match up to the book it was based on. What I want to convey is something deeper than that. There is a richness that existed in between the pages of the book that Peter Jackson has filled with specious malarkey. The fact is that The Hobbit is part of a richer tapestry that ought not to be tampered with.
Nilgiri Pearson is a Senior Sophister student of Law
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IT’S NOT A CARTOON, IT’S ANIMATION DONE RIGHT by BEN COLLOPY
f you were anything like me as a wee wide-eyed child then you lived for Saturday mornings, because that was when you had cartoons, few ads, and more Looney Tunes than a schizophrenic radio. I actually wasn’t allowed watch TV Monday to Friday (before you ring Child Line I’m fine, honestly), so weekends were a big deal for me. Sadly, once you go past twelve years old cartoons become a ‘’child’s pastime’’. I don’t know who gets to decide these things but seriously, fuck them. Anyway, the older you get the less acceptable it gets. So I started to look for new cartoons, ones that wouldn’t make people look at me funny. You look for that wonderful nostalgic feeling that brings you back to Saturday mornings, whilst simultaneously having to be smart enough for you as a now ‘’enlightened’’ adult. Archer doesn’t give a flying fuck about this. It won’t bring you back to your childhood; it will not remind you of the cartoons that brought you so much joy as a child. But it will make you laugh like a madman. Archer is possibly the first ever properly animated show; that is to say it’s a perfectly adult comedy that happens to be
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animated. It doesn’t really want to be part of the cartoon genre. The premise follows a Spy agency and it’s top agent, Sterling Archer. The spy agency is set in a perpetually 60’s ‘’Yesh Mish Moneypenny’’ style world featuring touch screens. Archer uses logic to show what a world class spy would be like; a complete dickhead. He’s perpetually dressed in a Don Draper style grey suit, and has a personal butler, whom he abuses with glee. The show often pokes fun at the perfectly timed quips which so define James Bond by leaving Archer at a loss for words; ‘’Damnit! I had something for this.’’
Archer has been accused of being hopelessly “crude and heartless, with complete and utter disregard for political correctness ” So how is this any different from Family Guy or South Park? Simple, it’s not banking on the wacky format of a cartoon show to make it funny. There are no goofy character designs and a severe lack of visual gags. That is to say, no space hopper
style testicles (South Park) or oddly shaped physiques (Family Guy). Archer simply uses animation as a way of capturing spy scenes and their exotic locations, without selling their kidneys to do so. This doesn’t mean the creators don’t love the medium, quite the opposite. They do a fantastic job of nailing the key components. The voice cast has a genuine chemistry, as well as voices that simply suit the characters. There’s nothing silly about them and you’d genuinely believe they despised each other. For further proof of this ‘lack of cashing in’ you only have to look at the animation style. It’s vectored and anatomically correct. It sets the show apart as something that depends on it’s writing and editing. Moreover it also features Monty Pythonesque scene transitions, achieved by having one character finish another’s sentence, only in a completely different and out of context scenario. Rather than just jokes, the show uses its animations to make references. Archer constantly wears Burt Reynolds’s outfit from ‘Deliverance,’ for example. All of this furthers the admiration that I have for Archer. They’ve taken a genre that is normally looked down upon as ‘silly’ and shown how versatile it can be.
understand that these are not “ Make sure yougood people ” Archer has been accused of being hopelessly crude and heartless, with complete and utter disregard for political correctness. Firstly, and I’m not sure it’s okay to say this; I find it’s utter disregard for PC-ness brilliant. This disregard for PC isn’t your usual ‘clever’ pushing of the envelope; where a character in a show makes a sly allusion to something only whispered generally, like cancer, then the audience goes “oooo I see what they did there, that’s sooooo daring!”. Archer more or less takes the envelope, fills it with race cards, religious sanctity and gender equality, lights it on fire then drives it off a cliff. If that clunky metaphor isn’t clear here are some scenarios that could be handled with delicacy. When Archer’s mother is about to be shot: Crenshaw: Yes, picture her, dead in the gutter, and what your pathetic life will be like without old mommy dearest– Lana: Jesus Christ! He’s got an erection!
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geek out Crenshaw: What the hell is wrong with you people?! Malory: An erection? The thought of me dead gives you an erection? Archer: No, just half of one. The other half would have really missed you. I mean not ... ew. Or when Archer may have blown Lana’s cover: Archer: ’Cyril, come on. Worst-case scenario, her cover got blown and Skorpio’s raping her senseless before he chops her battered corpse into fish food. What? I said worst case.’’ So yeah, a little crude, however the accusation that it is heartless makes less sense. Archer spends a great deal of time and effort in giving every single character, both significance and a real back-story. Yet it’s not to increase your sympathy with the characters but rather to make sure you understand that these are not good people. The least awful of the lot is Woodhouse, the Butler, who is revealed to be a heroin junkie (emphasised in one scene where he asks a lemur to ‘’be a lad, put on some Mingus’’ right before he shoots up) and a one time mass murderer. Despite this reinforcement of the characters as dreadful examples of humanity, it also shows their growth throughout the series, not in their personalities but in their relationships. Archer never changes, refusing to become a better person. He slowly shows, however, his growing affection for Lana, though never allowing it to become a major plot point.
The show is often described “ as Arrested Development meets James Bond ” Another thing that separates Archer from other ‘adult’ cartoons, is continuity. The events of past Archer episodes have a constant effect on newer ones. Sometimes it’s a joke, such as Woodhouse’s constant solution for the disposal of dead bodies being “I shall fetch a rug’’ in season one. Archer then mimics this in season three when confronted with a dead Italian Prime minister. Other times it’s an event, like Archer being falsely named the father of the baby of a Call Girl named Trinette’. The baby then becomes a recurring plot point. These are all great reasons why Archer is possibly the best-written animation on T.V.
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If they aren’t, here’s one final Hail Mary play. It’s funny. Very funny. I already mentioned its likeness to Monty Python, not only for its editing but also for its absurd humour. It’s littered with pet lemurs and ocelots, pointless Canadian freedom fighters and closeted RAF WW1 pilots. All reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition and The Ministry of Silly Walks. It’s not only British style humour; it uses the best traits of American humour as well. The show is often described as Arrested Development meets James Bond and the more you watch it, the more this makes sense. The show proves Aesop’s moral : ‘’familiarity breeds contempt’’. Just like the Bluth family, the character’s relationships and rivalries are entirely petty and ridiculous, but are still treated as life and death situations by those involved. Aside from that, Archer completely innovates one of the most important tropes of all animated shows, pop culture references. Most cartoons depend heavily on current events to make witty yet sometimes easy jokes. Archer doesn’t even bother. It uses out of date Pop culture references; like it’s strange of obsession with Kenny Loggins’ 80’s masterpiece Dangerzone, featured famously in Top Gun. This particular recurring reference is so popular among fans that the creators remade the original music video replacing Goose and co. with their characters as the season five promo. There are other odd references like when Archer and Lana are lost in the jungle. Lana begins to ask Archer a question then realises: Lana: You’re looking for predator aren’t you? Archer: Yes Lana: Well A. He’s invisibleArcher: Not totally he has a tell tale shimmer. These references are amazing, yet brief. There are also a great deal of obscure literary references, and others that take a great deal of explaining. One such obscure reference occurs when Archer is surrounded, and asked to take off his top, he says: Archer: I would prefer not to... *guns cocked* Archer: Bartleby the Scrivener? Anybody? Not a big Melville crowd huh? Uh yeah, he’s not an easy read.’ This reference is never going to reach
a lot of its audience and yet the show continues, never missing a beat because it doesn’t depend on it. There’ll be another joke that cheated viewers can laugh at seconds later, in this case a threesome that’s two parts chocolate fountain, one part shame.
The show shows proves Aesop’s “moral that familiarity breeds contempt ” So no, Archer won’t spark your childhood wonder and it doesn’t want you to love it because it’s a cartoon. What it will do is make sure you laugh, thanks to a detailed and minute style of writing, that won’t pull punches and doesn’t give a shit if you’re offended or not. Yeah Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are class, but they never made you feel smart, ashamed, and guilty for laughing all at the same time. What I’ve written here is the tip of the iceberg. Go and watch. I can’t even begin to do it justice. Ben Collopy is a Senior Sophister student of English Literature
“I WARNED YOU ABOUT HOMESTUCK”
hen Homestuck began on April 13 2009 with a simple image of a boy in his room in an apparent parody of choose-your-own adventure games, no one could have predicted what it would become. Written by Andrew Hussie, Homestuck is a web comic accompanied by Flash animations, GIFs, and 8-Bit games that has exceeded the length of 6,000 pages. As the next update of Homestuck will be the finale, it seems worthwhile to examine its appeal, its representation and its fandom.
The trolls provide a good model for critiquing “various human social norms, including how we interpret sexual orientation ” It’s hard to explain Homestuck’s plot to a newcomer and I must emphasize the plot involves copious amounts of time travel, so certain elements of this synopsis may not appear to add up in a narrative sense. However, here’s a broad overview. Our heroes, John, Dave, Rose and Jade install a video game known as ‘Sburb’ and discover the software can influence reality itself. The kids discover the intention of ‘Sburb’ is to create a new universe. However, the format of the game itself is shattered when Jack Noir kills the Black Queen and King, takes their throne and attemptd to destroy the means for creating a universe, before the game has even had a chance to start properly (in essence, a minor enemy in the game bumped off the final boss). This prompts the shocking revelation that the “Internet trolls” are in fact an alien species from the future that played and won ‘Sburb’, creating our universe in the process! I must emphasize how limited this synopsis is and recommend that you check Homestuck Wiki to make sense of the timeline. In any case, I feel the broad representation and social themes present in Homestuck compensate for the difficult plot. The trolls provide a good model for critiquing various human social norms, including how we interpret sexual orientation. Trolls are a pansexual species, which is revealed when the leader of the trolls, Karkat (the archetypal, angry swearing troll), is completely nonplussed by the word homosexual, considering the relevance of gender relations to sexuality quite literally alien. Queer relationships are treated with the same emphasis as heterosexual ones; an obvious appeal to LGBTQA readers. Class difference and bigotry can clearly be seen within troll society in the fascinating concept of the socalled “Hemospectrum.” A troll’s place in the social hierarchy is defined by its blood colour, ranging from low, red-blooded “Rustbloods” to the royal, purple-blooded “Highbloods.” Equius, the Blueblood, is an excellent case study on the effects of this social construct. Despite possessing bigoted views about blood that border on sexual perversion, his close friend Nepeta is lower-blooded than he is. Equius claims that he “looks out” for Nepeta, believing her to be vulnerable to harm from other trolls, yet she is shown to be more than capable of defending
herself. It is implied that she looks out for him by keeping him emotionally stable, as well as being his only true friend. Equius’ loyalties to the hemospectrum are constantly challenged and put him into a very tough spot later in the series. Hussie displays great skill in writing engaging female characters without utilising the “Strong Female Character” trap; i.e. they both subvert, and fulfil various gender roles. For example, Rose is shown to be the most effective fighter amongst the human kids and is the “brain” of the group, but enjoys knitting (using her needles as deadly weapons). She also harbours a deep, albeit hidden, affection for cats. Rose has perhaps one of the most interesting character arcs in the series, refusing to progress to new levels in the game in order to break its pre-programmed format. Jade, who is introduced as a scatterbrain and is openly referred to as “a liability” by Dave, nevertheless proves herself, with her ability to see into the future helping her deal with the “time shenanigans” her friends have experienced. The perception of Jade as a meek, overly-whimsical character was shattered when she unleashed a stream of profanities which shocked even Karkat during one of his foul mouthed tirades. Indeed, when she evolves fully into her hero-role as the Witch of Space, Jade has been shown to be one of the most powerful characters in the series, demonstrating Hussie’s ability to defy expectations.
Hussie displays great skill in writing engaging “female characters without utilising the “Strong Female Character” trap ” Homestuck has been referred to as “The Ulysses of Internet,” and while that statement may be an exaggeration, I believe Homestuck to be an epic worthy of the Internet age. The series has even received the kudos of Bryan Lee O’Malley, writer and artist of Scott Pilgrim, as a series with “things to say.” I recently discovered a Tumblr group called Ask-The-PositiveHomestucks in which fans may even confide personal problems, such as abuse, to users role-playing as their favourite characters. While such an exercise may strike some as absurd, I feel this shows the very close and involved nature of the fandom and the massive appeal of the characters. In any case, despite what many people (even in the convention-community) have said about the series, I cannot recommend this series enough. It will make you laugh, cry, flip a table in frustration and question your own sanity, all in one page.
Ian Lynam is a Senior Freshman TSM Student of English Literature and Classical Civilisation
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UNRUSTLE YOUR TROUBLES with Aunt Firecrotch “There is no more harm in a kiss than there is in a loaded revolver” “When afflicted by hot flashes, it is proper to do rolling excercises on the floor” “There a times when it is best not to wear one’s arseless chaps” AF
Firecrotch is back.
Yes ladies and gents, the loveable aunt has read all of your agonies, and gosh, do your tears taste delicious. So invested is she in your troubles that she postponed her bi-monthly sponge bath so she could give the best answers possible, answers that she hopes will really help with the crises that you face and give you that same sense of serenity that she feels whilst collapsed, on the living room floor, at two hours after Gin o’clock.
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Q: Dear Aunt Firecrotch,
Something dreadful happened yesterday. I discovered my boyfriend sitting in the kitchen. Wearing CROCS. Yes, CROCS. Do they even still exist? Apparently so. CROCS. Gray Crocs. Not even green, blue or florescent yellow or something. I mean, I’d even forgive red cowboy boots, but not Crocs, never Crocs. Because nobody wears crocs. Nobody. Except this creature in my kitchen. I just don’t know what to do. The situation could escalate. What if he tries to go out in public with them? ….what if he’s seen? I can’t be in a relationship with someone who wears Crocs. Do I break up with him immediately? Do I even try to BEGIN to explain everything that is WRONG in the world with Crocs? Somethings are deal-breakers. And wearing Crocs, is one of them. SO GROSS. Help.
FIRECROTCH: Dear Whateveryournameis,
Aunt Firecrotch has sympathy for you, she really does. My dear, you’ve got to take the bull by the horns and go all Steve Irwin on these crocs: you can have your man or they can; it’s all-out war. Burn them on his
feet if you have to.
Be warned, one day it won’t just be crocs, it will be socks with those crocs and then wearing red with green until one day you’ll find him in your closet wearing your corset saying that he thought that he could make it work because you looked a bit like a man and you’ll be left on your own drinking gin from the bottle and crying into your collection of priceless furs. . . Good-luck, deary!
Q: This is actually a serious issue.
People have often talked about the possibility of having sex in the library. Now I have thought about this very hard. And please, keep your puny puns to yourself. I just don’t see it happening.
The Lecky is a no-no, simply because that little room with the owls in it would put off even the horniest of Russell Brands. Also its full of infuriating first year BESS students whispering excitedly to one another about ‘last night’s shift’. And as Alan Rickman put it, it is hard to concentrate “with all that racket”. The Ussher is constantly supervised by Vladimir, and I’m not saying you couldn’t try, perhaps in the Basement, but could you really focus knowing that a tall Russian might pop in any minute? And finally, the Berkeley. Its cold. ‘Nuff said. As one “experienced in lyf ” as you put it, surely you have a serious answer to such a technical conundrum. yours truly,
FIRECROTCH: Dear FranzList,
Well, let’s get a Handel on the situation, but first, if you ever tell me not to pun again, and this goes for all of you, I will track you down and use the skills I honed in Vietnam to make you cry literal tears of Naplam. Now that that’s been sorted, let’s get down to business.You want to bring sexy Bach to the library, who doesn’t? Let’s no Strauss out over this question and think about it logically. You say first year BESS students dampen the mood? Lure them away with some coke. They love the white-stuff. I can smuggle some in for you with my connections. It will cost you fifty a pop though, my dear. As for Vlad, why don’t you invite him to join you? He isn’t called the Imapler for nothing. And finally, you say the Berkley is too cold? What is wrong with you young people? When I was on my arctic expedition, I did it in minus eighty and by God did we melt the ice that night: a large section even broke loose, heard that it crashed into some ship afterwards. To be Verdi Franck, I don’t think you’re mature enough to make sweet love amongst the tomes nor are you ready to deal with the Holst of problems associated with it.
That said, I’d love to see you proove me wrong. Looking forward to the next issue of UT.
Q: Dear Aunt Firecrotch,
This is not about love. Because there is none in my life. I find most people either physically off-putting or mentally repelling. No, what I wish to become requires the utmost dedication. I want to be a millionaire. Buy all of the things I never had. Problem is, I am studying History. So the whole ‘get a good job’ thing is out of the question and frankly a little dull. I am also opposed to dealing drugs, as I might some day want to become a politicianA penny for your thoughts, Aunty Fy. #EveryTimeICloseMyEyes FIRECROTCH: Dear Money-hoe, I too know the pain of wanting all that you never had. All throughout my childhood I wanted my father to buy me a Sherpa* to carry me around the countryside on his wide shoulders, but he only ever gave me a damn pony. What sort of pleb rides a pony? Back to your agony, dear. The solution to this problem really does seem quite simple: marry some filthy rich, old, horny idiot and ride that gravy train right into the station, or, more appropriately, the funeral parlour. When I lost my fortune in a spirited game of strip poker in the mid-fifties, I worked my way through those rich, horny old bastards like a black widow on speed. And my God, did it work! Now, at number fifteen, I am back to where I started, having enough money to have my toilet paper made out of five hundreds. I hope this solves your problems!
* a person who acts as a guide in the Himalayas
Submit your latest agony to Aunt Firecrotch @ firstname.lastname@example.org. And please, pick a pseudonym, nobody wants to know it was you.
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Published on Dec 21, 2013