HEROES AND VILLAINS
I N T RO D U C T I O N
HEROES AND VILLAINS
Heroes: A Classical Perspective Benedict Lister Is The Hero An Outdated Concept? Kendall Field-Pellow The Prince’s Quest Ananthi Parekh From Hero to Villain: A Spectrum Henry Percival Bob Dylan Genius or Judas? Mark Richardson Shostakovich: Courage or Conformism? Francesca Clayton Flawed Protagonists and Redeemable Villains Isabella Ingram Where are the Good Guys? The Moral Ambiguity of Game of Thrones Douglas James Who are the Real Disney Villains? Eleanor Barber and Alexandra Lemieux
Judging By Appearance Francesca Dellafera Can We Separate the Art from the Artist? Eleanor Williams-Brown Hero or Zero? It’s A Matter of Luck Mark Docherty
I Don't Need a Billionaire to Tell Me That Corbyn is a Loser Georgia McKirgan
Intervention In Iraq: The Heroic Option? Katie O’Flaherty
Why The Honours System is a Disgrace Oliver Clark
Battling the Odds: The Genius of Virat Kohli Monideep Ghosh
The Pitfalls of Nationalism Katie Sharp
Interview With A Hero Sienna Bentley
The Curse of Consumerism Michaela Clancy
Lawyers: Heroes or Villains? Layla Link
Demonising Mental Illness Gabriella Watson
Heroes Who Shaped Our World Naeve Molho
Artificial Intelligence: An Existential Threat? Oliver Gent
Superconductors: The New Superheroes Florence Willcocks
“Blood of the Martyrs”: Heroines of the Early Church Lucy Smith
Guns N’ Rosaries Two Bracers, One Villain Tom McCarthy
Trump and Clinton: The Lesser of Two Evils? Jamie Bradshaw America’s Flawed Founders: Why Trump is Nothing New Rhiannon Jenkins Heroes of the Republic: The Real French Revolution Ellen Latham
Editorial Team (Magazine and Blog) Eleanor Barber * Hermione Barrick * Caleb Barron * Sienna Bentley * Ilana Berney * Joe Brennan * Lily Cannon * Michaela Clancy * Francesca Clayton * Oliver Clark * Edith Critchley * David Cruickshank * Loren Dean * Francesca Dellafera * Mark Docherty * Zita Edwards * Luke Farmer * Kendall Field-Pellow * Poppy Goad - Oliver Gent * Monideep Ghosh * Alex Gibson * Lily Godkin * Lizzy Greenfield * Will Hall * Hattie Hammans * Daniel Hill * Elizabeth Howe * Isabella Ingram * April Ironside * Helen Jackson * Douglas James * Rhiannon Jenkins * Fenella Johnson * Ellen Latham * Holly Lawrence * Alex Lemieux * Layla Link * Elliot Martin * Georgia McKirgan * Robert Merriam * Naeve Molho * Tasmin Nandu-Swatton * Philippa Noble * Katie O’Flaherty * Ananthi Parekh * Rebecca Pascoe * Henry Percival * Alfred Perry-Ward * Charlotte Phillips * Cicely Podmore * Frederike Rademacher * Isabelle Sambles * Katie Sharp * Tanya Thekkekkara * Olivia Watkins * Gabriella Watson * Nina Watson * Lana Watt * Gemma Webb * Holly White * Florence Willcocks * Eleanor Williams-Brown * Oliver Wright * Libby Young Magazine Designer: Clara Feltham (The Graphic Design House) Editor: James Burkinshaw
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
he year 2016 has given us many reasons to reflect upon heroes and villains. It is a year in which many inspirational figures have passed away, including Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. Responses to the death of Fidel Castro have been more bifurcated; he has been lionised by many, condemned by many others. Events over the past few months have also given us cause to consider the subjectivity of the terms “hero” and “villain”. In the current political climate, it seems increasingly impossible for people to agree on a shared set of empirically verifiable facts; indeed the OED declared its word of the year to be “post-truth”. This year’s votes in the UK’s EU referendum and the USA’s presidential election were both extraordinarily close, revealing nations split down the middle, each side ready to demonise the other. In this issue, contributors discuss why public figures such as Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn inspire such conflicting responses. We look at the Greek and Roman concept of the hero that has so influenced Western culture, but also question whether heroes are an outdated concept in an era that embraces Game of Thrones. To what extent is it clear cut whether an individual is a hero or a villain? Our writers consider the controversial careers of two very different musicians, Bob Dylan and Dmitri Shostakovich, each venerated and vilified in their time, while suggesting that the most interesting literary heroes are flawed and the most compelling villains redeemable. Is our yearning for heroes fraught with peril, encouraging us to mythicize the past (for example, America’s Founding Fathers or the French Revolution)? In cases such as sport, do we sometimes mistake luck for genius? And, when we look to the future – a source of particular fascination in troubled times – are we prone to see utopias or dystopias, characterising technology (from artificial intelligence to superconductors) as something that will either save us or destroy us? All of these issues and more are explored within; heartfelt thanks to all thirty of our contributors and to our brilliant designer, Clara Feltham. We hope that, over the holiday, our readers (mug of eggnog or mulled wine to hand) enjoy unwrapping the varied and thought-provoking ideas on offer in this ‘Heroes and Villains’ issue. And do please browse the Portsmouth Point blog where, throughout 2016, PGS pupils have heroically chronicled a year packed with incident; indeed, we wish all of our readers a happy (and relatively uneventful) 2017.
Cover by Will Hall
The Editors December 2016
H E RO E S : A C L A S S I C A L P E R S P E C T I V E
HEROES A C L A S S I CA L P E R S P E C T I V E
Mr Benedict Lister HE AD OF CL ASSICS
ere are four criminals; but what do they have in reverence in which they were held, just as Zeus was worshipped common? Individual A cheated in a race, causing as King of the Gods and dispenser of justice despite the legends the death of his rival, and then murdered the of his multiple extra- marital affairs. Heroes were often seen as being in part descended from the man who he had bribed to help him. Individual B claimed temporary insanity after murdering gods, or given special favour by a god, but the main reason his wife and children. Individual C lost his temper and threw why they were worshipped was that they were believed to have protected their communities in some way. a man off a cliff to his death. Individual D Apart from killing the Minotaur and saving the abandoned his girlfriend on an island, although boys and girls sent to Crete to be consumed by she had saved his life, and caused his father’s THE WORD the monster, Theseus also fought wars against death by an act of unforgivable carelessness. 'HERO' IS A GREEK the Centaurs and the Amazons (both mythical Well, that’s Greek heroes for you! And if we WORD DENOTING uncivilised races). The so-called Labours of must name and shame, they are respectively: SOMEONE OF Herakles, are similarly, a process of ridding Pelops, Ajax, Herakles and Theseus. The word SEMI -DIVINE the community of dangerous and threatening ‘Hero’ is a Greek word denoting someone of STATUS. aliens. This ‘civilising’ process can even be seen semi-divine status, often worshipped in one or in legends such as Jason and the Argonauts. more regions of Greece. Theseus, as mythical In summary, Heroes are worshipped as having protected a king of Athens, was worshipped in the area around Athens, called Attica. Pelops was associated with the Peloponnese community in the past and are prayed to in the hope that they (southern Greece) and in particular with Olympia where the may continue to offer that protection in years to come. Sometimes Heroes are described as undergoing an chariot race was the premier event of the Olympic Games. The less than flattering legends about them had no effect on the ‘apotheosis’, in the literal sense of the word, becoming fully
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
divine. Romulus, the founder of Rome, and civilizer of brigands and bandits, ascends into the sky in front of the entire Roman army. Herakles, suffering terrible agonies from a poisoned robe, can only return to his father in heaven (Zeus) if he is burnt alive. The parallels with the Christ’s story of death, resurrection and ascension are obvious. As the son of (a) God, a benefactor who does miraculous deeds, who endures painful trials and finally regains fully divine status, Christ is very much in the pattern of a Greek hero. Most Greeks seem to have believed in their mythic past, that people had been physically bigger, stronger and overall the world had been a better place, populated by these ‘heroes’. This may reflect a subconscious memory of the sophisticated Mycenaean Civilisation that had been swept away with the arrival of new Greek-speaking peoples. The monumental walls of Mycenae could only have been built by ‘giants’, so later Greeks thought. Whatever the origins of these ideas, the first surviving literature giving us stories about ‘heroes’, the Iliad and the Odyssey, provide archetypes for many of our modern heroes. There are heroes admired for their sheer physical strength (Ajax) or for some other particular expertise (such as horsemanship) and there are
Top: Herakles fights the Hydra. Left: All that is left of a Shrine dedicated to Theseus in Athens
heroes admired for their foresight or strategy (Odysseus). But the two most important figures in the Iliad, Hector and Achilles, are the most influential, or perhaps reflect some fundamental about what we think of as heroic. There is Hector, prince of Troy, the ‘protector of the people’, a family man, who serves his country and is prepared to risk
H E RO E S : A C L A S S I C A L P E R S P E C T I V E
Above: Romulus joins the gods (with elephants!!!) Right: The Lion Gate of Mycenae constructed by giants
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
his life in his encounter with Achilles although in his heart, he knows he will lose. (It is often forgotten that Hector is described as running away around the city walls, when faced with Achilles, and only trickery on the part of the gods, finally persuades him to face his adversary.) His opponent, Achilles, is the maverick, the outsider, the lone-wolf who fights by his own rules. The virtues of Hector are immediately apparent. We are tribal animals who instinctively look to our leaders for protection. Hector is a good man. He is also a mighty warrior and all the more admirable because he chooses to fight against the odds for his city. His death therefore, is tragic, all the more so as his body suffers a series of humiliations starting with other Greeks poking and stabbing at his corpse and later, more famously, when Achilles ties him to his chariot to drag him round the city. The whole of Troy watches and mourns. But what of this other hero, Achilles? His heroism is less easy to explain. He refuses to fight because of a quarrel with the other Greek leaders. Even when the Greeks are suffering heavy losses, he will not put on armour to save his fellows. Only when Hector kills his best friend, Patroclos, does he seek personal vengeance, and only incidentally turns the course of the war. His heroism comes out of two things: firstly, he is acknowledged universally as the greatest warrior on either side of the conflict (Even his shout causes panic among the Trojans.); secondly, he has self-knowledge, in particular that he has chosen to take part in this war and that he is fated to die in it. His heroic status is
Image of Alexander â€“ loose locks, soulful eyes, strong jaw
H E RO E S : A C L A S S I C A L P E R S P E C T I V E
Left: Medea leaves in the chariot of the sun god leaving her dead sons below. Bottom left: Compare Brad Pitt from ‘Troy’! Below: The Kerameikos – the official cemetery of Ancient Athens, still a beautiful place.
bound up in this tragedy, a very personal one to which we can all relate, our sense of both being an outsider in a community and our awareness of our mortality. Earlier I used the term ‘lone-wolf’ to describe Achilles and that is, I think, at the root of our fascination with these wayward characters. As a tribal species, we are reliant on the strength and wisdom of our leaders, our ‘Hectors’, but there have always been loners on the outside of the pack, self-reliant and self-contained, a little frightening and unpredictable, but also glamorous and enviable in a strange sort of way. The evolution of the image of the ‘modern’ hero can probably be traced directly back to Alexander the Great.
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Alexander was obsessed with the Iliad and saw himself as a second Achilles. His quest was to avenge the Persian invasion of Greece in the same way as the Greeks had avenged the abduction of Helen by Trojan Paris. He was a maverick too and, to those who fought against him, a bloodthirsty monster, but the success (from the Greek point of view) of his short life and his untimely death turned him into an instant legend, much helped by the propagandist portraits he commissioned, showing all the qualities of a modern pin-up hero. Societies seem to need heroes even when the facts do not actually add up and this was equally true in ancient times. Two men called Harmodias and Aristogeiton were known by the Athenians as the ‘tyrant-slayers’, because they brought about the end of dictatorship in Athens and allowed for the birth of democracy. Actually they had murdered the brother of the tyrant in a lovers’ quarrel and were only indirectly responsible for the departure of the tyrant (who died abroad of old-age)1, but the inconvenient truth is quickly forgotten and heroes are born.
Statues of the Tyrant-Slayers. Their nudity is an indication that the event has taken on mythic status.
Like us, the Greeks had their fictional anti-heroes too, figures who are essentially immoral or commit crimes, but whom we identify with nevertheless. Perhaps, most famous is Medea who kills her own children as an act of revenge. On a lighter note, Aristophanes in his comedies loved anti-heroes. His comedies are full of cowardly, mendacious, thieving heroes with whom we are meant to identify.2 Although the word has become much devalued in recent years, even today most people would agree that real, as opposed to fictional, ‘heroes’ should aim to work for the public good or at least excel in something that makes their community proud of them. Of these ‘war heroes’ continue to stand out. About eighteen hundred people were killed on the roads in the UK last year3, and there were about one hundred and forty deaths in the work-place4. The deaths in the armed services were approximately sixty5. Yet the focus given to deaths and injuries to the armed forces is out of all proportion to deaths in other areas of life. This was also true in the Classical Greek world. Thucydides, writing in the 5th Century BC., shows how little has changed in public perceptions: ‘These funerals are held in the following way: two days before the ceremony the bones of the fallen are brought and put in a tent which has been erected, and people make whatever offerings they wish to their own dead. Then there is a funeral procession in which coffins of cypress wood are carried on wagons. There is one coffin for each tribe, which contains the bones of members of that tribe. One empty bier is decorated and carried in the procession: this is for the missing, whose bodies could not be recovered...The bones are laid in the public burial place which is in the most beautiful quarter outside the city walls. Here the Athenians always bury those who have fallen in war....When the bones have been laid in the earth, a man chosen by the city for his intellectual gifts and for his general reputation makes an appropriate speech in praise of the dead, and after the speech all depart.’ Book 2.34 If there were space, I could go on to look at Ancient sporting heroes, to musicians and even philosophers who were heroworshipped in their day, but I hope you have read enough to realize that many of our heroic values are, if not inherited from, certainly shared with the Ancient Greeks.
I S T H E H E RO A N O U T DAT E D C O N C E P T ?
is the an outdated concept? Kendall Field-Pellow YE AR 13
LIFE IS NOT A COMIC BOOK WITH PROTAGONISTS, ANTAGONISTS AND WELLCHOREOGRAPHED FIGHT SCENES.
ccording to Google, the definition of the word ‘hero’ is “a person, typically a man, admired f o r their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities”. Heroes are people that we look up to, people that step up and do the right thing when no one else will, people who help others who are in need of saving, whether that is helping a person carry their shopping or saving someone from a burning building. Heroes can be anyone. Is it not a good thing to have members of the community watching our backs? It would seem counterintuitive to believe otherwise; however, I think that perhaps the concept of having heroes among us is quite oldfashioned and possibly even obsolete. The idea that we need other people to take care of us would suggest that we are incapable of taking care of ourselves. Also, a person does not need to be a ‘hero’ in order to do the right thing and help others; one might even describe that as showing good moral values, rather than saving the day. If we continue to label people as heroes, then perhaps in the future we will be so used to having other people doing good deeds and protecting those of us who are perhaps in an uncomfortable situation that we will forget we are capable of doing those things ourselves. This would lead us to become a society too dependent on others to stand up for our own rights and support. We need to be able to make tough decisions without the authority from so-called heroes. In this respect, we need to be our own heroes. If we describe a person as a hero, we say they possess heroic qualities such as confidence, virtue
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
and courage. Many people who are not considered heroes possess such qualities. This leads one to ask: what makes a person a hero? I believe the answer to that is: the opinion of others. A person may be called a hero for many reasons by many different people; therefore, as we all have different views, we all define a hero differently. Therefore, a person is a hero if people believe he/she is a hero, as heroism is a relative concept dependent upon the perspectives of different people. If this is the case, does that make everyone a hero, as surely there is someone out there that thinks you are a hero? Or does that make nobody a hero as there will always be people who disagree with what somebody believes classes you as a hero? If this is the case, perhaps we should abolish the title of ‘hero’ as it is not a definitive abstract. Or perhaps we should abolish the title of ‘hero’ in order to prevent false entitlement of heroism of those who are not worthy of the title. For example, President-Elect Donald Trump may be considered a hero by his followers but he is not universally accepted as heroic, so it would be false for him to be known as ‘the people’s hero’. After all, as the boundaries of heroism change according to different people’s perspectives, is it achievable to be a ‘true hero’? And since there is no clear definition of a hero, should we abandon the concept of heroism since it is decided by the perspective of different people, which is very inconsistent? If we continue to label members of society as ‘heroes’, we have to consider that our moral values might change from ‘doing good in order to help the progress of day-to-day life’, to ‘doing good in order to earn the title of hero’. If this were to happen, people would only be acting heroically for
praise, which is considered by many to be selfish and arrogant. This might even lead to segregation between those who are known as heroes and those who are not. Another point is that people who are not seen to possess heroic qualities may be looked upon as villains; consequently, the disapproval from society may lead these unfortunate people down the path of hatred and self-loathing towards actually becoming a villain; In which case, our society would be split into cherished heroes and despised villains! Since we only experience the outside of other people, we do not know what lies within. Although we may believe someone is kind and loving, they may be iniquitous inside. Or vice-versa. Perhaps our heroes are more villainous that we would like to believe or perhaps our villains are more heroic than they let on. If a person is considered evil by others but believes that they are doing good or changing the world for the better, are they a hero or a villain? In my opinion, such a person could be considered a hero as they are fighting for the cause which they believe is right, despite the fact that others have more negative views of his/her actions. However, other people may believe that the person is not a hero as they remain ignorant of the beliefs of what society values as ‘good’. If a very dastardly person decides to donate their organs, their last act was heroic; does this make that person a hero regardless of their previous actions? Throughout their life, a person might make wicked decisions and commit unlawful acts;, however, if they donate their organs and save a person’s life, they are a hero. This is very confusing, because in life they consciously chose a path of villainy, the opposite of a hero; however after death they are remembered as a hero despite the fact that the person made heinous life choices, purely for the reason that they made one courageous and very compassionate decision to give another person a second chance at life. In this scenario, the person is both a hero and a villain – in which case, do either of these terms have any meaning? What counts as a hero: a person who does one very major good thing or a person who does lots of minor things - or both (i.e. a person who constantly does good things, both major and minor)? I would say that the deeds one does for others is not what makes one a hero, but rather the moral values one possesses in their heart and their willingness to act on such values. To call someone a hero is inherently false as no one is purely heroic; even heroes can make mistakes and misjudge situations.
The Good Samaritan by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890
After all, we are only human. Every person has made wrong decisions which they are not proud of, perhaps even unjust decisions, but this does not make that person a villain – just as doing a good deed does not make one a hero. And so I believe that if a person is considered heroic, they are partly good and partly bad; however, the good must outweigh the bad. To summarise: life is not a comic book with a grand plot, protagonists, antagonists and well-choreographed fight scenes; life is a messy adventure with no clear lines between good and evil. Hopefully, for most people there are very few fight scenes, which means that perhaps we should move away from terms like hero and villain and look towards terms like: helpful, kind, integrity, honourable and valiant.
T H E P R I N C E ' S Q U E ST
PRINCE'S QUEST A S H O RT S TO RY
Ananthi Parekh YE AR 13
nce upon a time, there was a brave prince. From a very young age, his prophecies spoke of variance, love and determination. As he grew older, the prince grew into the image of a perfect heir and an adoring son, living by the word of his father, the council and even going into the kingdom and learning and carrying out the wishes of the people. After years of protecting the kingdom throughout his father’s reign, the news arrived at the castle gates that there was a princess in need of a knight; the neighbouring kingdom was well known to be the home of the most beautiful maiden of the time. Thousands spoke of her kindness and radiance; however, she was also known to turn away any and every proposal that fell at her feet, disobeying her father and angering the council. When her father had finally lost his patience, and the time had come for her to be sold to the highest bidder, a great misfortune had fallen upon the princess. As her father swung open the door that fateful morning, the wall was gouged open, revealing his precious daughter being carried off in the jaws of a dragon! On hearing of the princess’ misfortune, the prince bounded into action. Gathering his rations and armour in haste to save the trapped princess, in the hope that she would see him as her saviour and accept his proposal in gratitude, he set off to find the maiden. After weeks of exploration and tracking, the prince finally came across the gaping mouth of a cave that echoed with dragon breath. The prince donned his armour, drew his sword and ventured into the jaws of rock. It didn’t take long until he found himself face to face with the slumbering dragon, blocking his path to the princess. The prince yelled out to the dragon, challenging him to a battle to the death, with the princess being the prize. The dragon
awakened, taking his time to growl and stretch, before rising to his full height, rearing up against the prince in a fierce show of power and might. The princess, still trapped behind the dragon, screamed, her words echoing around the cave walls: “Be Careful! Please save yourself. Run! Fly!” The prince, ignoring her words, grew even bolder, striking out at the dragon. And so the battle began. They both fought with agility and wit, fire burning and sword cutting until, finally, the dragon fell. The prince was victorious. He left his sword in the dragon’s side before lifting his head towards the princess in pride. But what he saw was not what he had expected. The princess, instead of thanking him for his bravery, sat on her little tower of pillows and wept. She depicted the tragically beautiful image of sorrow. Before the prince could speak, she rose, and made her way over to the now-fading dragon and rested her hand on his scaly jaw, her head on his, and wept. As the light faded from the dragon’s eyes, and her sobs lulled, the prince finally spoke. He knelt down by the princess, respecting the sadness in her eyes, and questioned “My lady, I’m sorry I’ve done you wrong, but may I ask you what I have done to upset you in such a way?” “My good sir, my good brave prince, I know you fought hard and valiantly. But this dragon never stole me. This dragon was my friend.” The prince, in realising his wrongdoing, took the princess back to her father and appealed to him once the princess had settled. After a few weeks had passed, and the princess was ready to tell her tale, a grand ceremony was held in honour of the dragon, who was only protecting his friend. And as the prince saw the care and the loss the princess spoke off, he realised the truth of what his mistake had caused. It was never the dragon that was the villain; it was the prince. For by assuming himself to be the hero of the story, he had slain the princess’ only true friend. Image by Will Hall
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
F RO M H E RO TO V I L L A I N : A S P E C T R U M
HERO TO VILLAIN:
DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES ON WHAT MAKES A HERO - OR VILLAIN.
A SPECTRUM Henry Percival YE AR 12
ne way of looking how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ someone is, is by placing them on a spectrum. At the left end of the spectrum is ‘villain’ and in the right end of the spectrum is ‘hero’. Because you are on a spectrum, you are able to change your position. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of a ‘hero’ is a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. The example that it gives is a war hero. But then different people have different perspectives on what makes someone a hero. For one person it could be achieving an incredible accomplishment that requires a lot of dedication and preparation, but for someone else it could be someone who does ‘good’ with their life, someone who does simple little things like helping those who are in need or even just letting someone use a phone charger if they need it. As with most things in life, there is an opposite to being a hero: being a villain. A villain is typically someone who seeks to commit bad acts, such as murder, theft or rape. People do not really have different perspectives on the term ‘villain’ like they do the term ‘hero’. Most of us are brought up knowing that villains are bad people who we seek to avoid; when we grow up we do not want to be like them. However, there are certain people who have travelled from one end of the spectrum to the other: from hero to villain and (of course) from villain to hero. There are even individuals who one person might think of as a hero but another might consider a villain. One person who has gone from hero to villain is Sepp Blatter. Most of you will know Sepp Blatter as the corrupt former president of FIFA. Blatter can be described as someone who moved from hero to villain, because, well, that’s what he did. Blatter publicly stated that he wanted to be remembered as the man who took the World Cup around the world. Due to Blatter’s efforts, Japan, South Korea and South Africa have all seen the World Cup competed for in their country. Would these countries have played host without Blatter? Probably not. Blatter has even got the 2022 World Cup to be hosted in Qatar, a country that is smaller than Wales. Blatter also did a lot of good, in terms of football, for
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Africa. In 2002, Zambia opened their first ‘home of football’; this came from FIFA’s Goal Development programme - something that Blatter proposed. FIFA claims that the Goal Development programme has built more than 700 facilities all around the world, from headquarters to pitches. This makes Blatter a hero in many people’s eyes, particularly in Africa and Asia. But, then again, among of all of this were the illegal payments, the bribery and the corruption which ultimately saw Blatter lose followers and led to his resignation. In most people’s eyes, Blatter has gone from hero to villain. Now we look at the opposite, someone who has gone from villain to hero. And for this we go back to the 1400s. The example that we will look at here is Richard III. Richard III is seen as a villain throughout history for removing his nephew, Edward V, from power to claim the throne for himself. Richard escorted the
12-year-old king, and the king’s brother, to the Tower of London, where they were detained. Days after this, he had his brother’s marriage made illegitimate, thus making him the rightful heir to the throne, although he told people that he was only stepping in as king until Edward was of age. A key influence on the longstanding perception of Richard as a villain was the propaganda that the Tudor regime (that overthrew him) published against him after his death, most famously (or infamously) in Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. However, more recently, attitudes towards Richard have changed, thanks in part to the Ricardian society, which has presented him as a hero due to his legacy, which included: setting up the Court of Requests and more importantly founding the principle of “innocent till proven guilty”. This has had a great effect upon the modern Britain as we know it. Richard also prohibited the fraudulent sale of land and made it punishable
through law. These acts, amongst others, have changed the way that modern Britain looks as Richard III. They now see him as a misrepresented character – much more of a hero than a villain. Over time, he has gradually moved towards the hero end of the spectrum. Now we look at somebody who is simultaneously in one person’s eyes a hero and in another’s a villain. The example we will look at here is revolutionist or terrorist (depending on your viewpoint) Che Guevara. He is best known for co-leading the socialist revolution in Cuba and removing the repressive Batista from power. He remains a beloved hero to the people of Cuba, his adopted home (Guevara was born in Argentina), so much so that public displays of hate against him can lead you to getting arrested. High schools in Argentina bear his name. Some Bolivians have sanctified him as ‘Saint Ernesto’, and pray to him when they need assistance. However, many other people view him as a spokesman for a failed ideology and as a ruthless executioner. Che freed the Cuban people from the repressive leader Batista, only to enslave them in a totalitarian police state worse than the Batista’s. Guevara was Castro’s chief executioner, thus making him responsible for the deaths of many, many people. Some have concluded that many Latin American revolutions, inspired by Che, had the result of brutal militarism and conflict for many years. Che drove over a million people into exile, which led to a mass hatred towards him. I guess you could say that Che is someone who could wield a pen and a machine gun with the same skill. He was a man who had an idea of liberty for people, but who acted the wrong way to achieve it. For this reason, people see him as a hero and as a villain. It is more difficult to place Che Guevara on a particular place along the spectrum. Here we have three very different examples, from very different eras of history, of people who have gone from hero to villain, villain to hero or are both a hero and villain in people’s eyes. People’s perspective on what makes someone a hero or a villain is often changing which makes such classification endlessly open to debate and modification.
B O B DY L A N G E N I U S O R J U DAS ?
BOB DYLAN GENIUS OR JUDAS?
TE ACHER OF ENGLISH t is an act that was “contemptuous of writers” and also “an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies”. Such were some of the comments made following the announcement from the Nobel Prize committee that the Nobel Prize for Literature would be awarded this year to Bob Dylan. The negative reactions (of which there were far more than there were positive ones) either focused on the unworthiness of the work of the awardee or, as featured in the comments above, on what the decision said about the committee itself. Although Dylan’s work was not exactly vilified in public comment, it certainly raised for many the question of whether a lyricist could ever be described as creator of Literature, while his failure to respond to the committee was labelled by a Nobel Academy member as ‘arrogant’. On the other hand, it was seen by Will Self as a decent response as “it cheapens Dylan to be associated at all with a prize founded on an explosives and armaments fortune.” Dylan the hero, acknowledged as culturally significant as other recipients of the Prize such as Beckett, Yeats, TS Eliot, Sartre and Hemingway? Or the villain, unworthy of a literature prize or impolite for not responding immediately or complicit in being awarded a prize from a self-appointed group that derives money from the weapons of war?
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
The short answer is that it all depends on who is telling the story. If you want to tell the ‘story’ of what Literature is, then you will perhaps be keen to see the award as evidence of the villainy of a Committee desperate for ‘street cred’ and popular appeal, or you might want to see it as evidence of a welcome redefinition as to what Literature actually means as a term. If you want to tell the story of politics, then seeing this event as a refusal to bow to institutional and elitist power might constitute for you an act of heroism. Heroes and villains don’t exist. Not in reality. Not in life as we live it. They exist because we ‘read’ people’s actions in terms of the stories we tell ourselves or are told to us about the world, and we fit characters into those stories. Now, I am not saying that there are not people who do amazing things, or that there are not people who are despicably evil. History is littered with examples of each, with more of the latter than of the former, I suspect (although that’s just an untested guess, not a fact). However, it is other people who decide who are the heroes, who are the villains, and they do it because of how those actions fit into a story. And those stories identify heroes and villains as characters who behave in opposition to one another. If there is a story with a hero in it, there will be a villain, even if only implied. If the focus is on the villain, there has to be a hero somewhere too. It’s
B O B DY L A N G E N I U S O R J U DA S ?
Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger
not about the individual, it’s about the story and the structure of that story. The elements are not meaningful, it’s the structure that those elements are in that gives those elements meaning: a narrative produces meaning. The elements of a story are just objects: a beautiful girl; a cruel stepmother; jealous stepsisters; ashes of a fire at night; a glass slipper; a clock. Put them together in a particular way, in a story, and those elements suddenly have meaning: the unfairness of life, the power of beauty, the importance of love, the unimportance of status, and the inexorable passage of time. Cinderella can be ‘read’ in many ways, but every reading depends on the story in which those elements are found. By itself a glass slipper has no meaning: it is just a piece of glass. In the story it becomes an example of fragile and rare beauty, fit for a princess. We might find that there are people we like in real life, and we might have people we hate too. We might label the former, Heroes, while naming the latter, Villains. But we don’t have to use both, and probably people are more familiar with the idea of having heroes. Ask the same people (without mentioning the word Hero) about who their Villains are, and I would expect a greater level of uncertainly as they try to work out what is meant. They might reasonably ask, ‘What do you mean?’ in response to such a question. Put the words together, though, and we enter another world, a world not of random objects shoved together by chance (ie “Life”), but a world of narrative, where a Hero has to have a Villain. The Hero can prove heroism by confronting the opposite of that hero, a worthy opponent whose defeat in turn celebrates and defines the very nature of the hero. And we all cheer. Let’s go back to Dylan, and also go back in time: 51 years, in fact, and to Newport, Rhode Island, and I can show you what I
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
mean about Hero and Villain and how those labels were equally applicable to Bob Dylan at the exact same time as one another! In 1965, Bob Dylan was scheduled to appear for his third time at the Newport Folk Festival, an event begun in 1959 and which had already become a focal point for the world of folk music in America. The Festival organisers saw themselves as part of a cultural but also a political world, one which found great truths in the music of the people in direct contrast to the world of commercialism, of Tin Pan Alley, of (spit) pop music. Dylan was by now the poster boy of their movement. His appearance at the previous two festivals had been acclaimed by the folk world, coming as it did with a series of hard-hitting songs in the folk tradition such as ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’; the just-released album Bringing It All Back Home had already entered the Top Ten album charts, proof for many that folk had a true voice and one that was shared by the many, not the few. However, it was also troubling for some: there were session musicians playing on that record, not just the lone voice of Dylan. And there was electric guitar, right from the first bars of the first track, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. And what did the lyrics mean? Who was Johnny and why was he mixing up medicine in the basement? Finally, for the true cognoscenti, ‘Maggie’s Farm’ seemed to be a deliberate slap in the face of the folk world: punning on a 1963 folk venue, he seemed to be saying that he was bored of being a ‘slave’ to that music. Electricity: in the music and in the air. Not holding anything back, Dylan assembled a band and opened with that very song, and although the amplification was nothing like today’s, for the time (and for that audience) it was ear-splitting: sonic waves and shock waves howled through the audience. The stage manager was Joe Boyd, later to be an important record producer, and he remembers the reaction to
MacColl, Dylan sang ‘tenth-rate drivel.’ For Boyd, ‘this was the that song as being ‘shouts of delight and triumph and also of Birth of Rock.’ derision and outrage.’ Members of the Board of the Festival That concert set the scene for the next year or so. His habit, were also split: some were angry, wanting the sound turned in his Australian and European tour in 1966, of splitting the set down. Other members were on the sound board, though. They between electric (first) and acoustic (second) could easily be read were fine with it. When the set finished, there was just a roar. in a variety of ways: starting with confrontation and ending with Lots of accounts characterise that roar, but no-one can be sure. reconciliation; easing the pain of electric with the comfort of Cheering? Yes. Booing? Yes. Noises that could have been either? acoustic; selling out his electric principles by ending with acoustic Definitely. He then stepped up for an encore, with just his guitar. traditions. The legendary cry of “Judas” at the Manchester That was clearly a relief, demonstrated by the willingness of concert (about which I have written in more detail in an earlier many to help out when he asked for a mouth organ and was edition of this esteemed organ) that prompted rage from Bob showered with them: he was going back to his folk roots. But he Dylan and a cry to his band (The Band, by the didn’t sing ‘We Shall Overcome’, a folk anthem way) to play the next song ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ that was the highlight of 1963, for instance, but “loud” (only he was more intemperate than that) instead ‘Hey Mr Tambourine’, now a hit single showed how the battle-lines were still keenly with the all-electric ‘pop’ band The Byrds, and HEROES observed and keenly felt on both sides. concluded with ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ AND VILLAINS Time has passed. For a long time there was where for Boyd he was ‘spitting the lyrics out DON'T EXIST. no story, other than surprise that he might still contemptuously in the direction of the old guard.’ NOT IN be alive. Albums came and went, he continued, Meanings abound here, and the myths built REALITY. became a hard-working and untouchable relic of up. Dylan was the hero, fighting against the a previous age. And now, with the Nobel award, narrow and prescriptive movement of folk. he has become something of a hero and a villain Dylan was the villain, desecrating the holy spirit again. Or not. You choose your own story. He of the true music in favour of faddish modernity. will just carry on regardless. As he says in ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m It was claimed that one of the Board members, Pete Seeger, tried Only Bleeding)’ “So don’t fear if you hear / A foreign sound to to take an axe to the power cables, only prevented by others your ear / It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing.” from so doing at the last moment: Seeger, an acclaimed folk musician, became a hero for some in that story, wielding an axe heroically against the corruptive trends of the modern world, while for others he was the comic villain, desperately unable to prevent inevitable change. The myth had no reality, but such is the power of narrative, that for so many it just had to be true because it was so meaningful. For the Scottish folk singer Ewan
S H O STA KO V I C H : C O U R AG E O R C O N F O R M I S M
D SHOSTAKOVICH: courage or conformism? Francesca Clayton YE AR 13
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art that was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in various other socialist countries. Socialist realism is characterized by the glorified depiction of communist values, such as the emancipation of the proletariat, by means of realistic imagery. – Wikipedia
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
ways. Even today people are unsure of whether the symphony was uring the years 1929 to 1953 Joseph Stalin was the showing support of Stalin’s regime or whether it is sarcastic and dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has many hidden messages protesting the Socialist Realism policy. (USSR). Following the ‘Lady Macbeth Affair’ of Luckily for Shostakovich the party apparatchiks heard it as a return 1936, Stalin placed restrictions on what composers to the classical fold after the ‘disaster’ that was ‘Lady Macbeth.’ could publish, which became known as the doctrine Contrastingly though, the audience at its premier treated it as a of Socialist Realism. The consensus was that the art would requiem for Stalin’s purges, which were in full swing by the time demonstrate three different components: an ‘ideological content’ the fifth symphony was released. An example in the symphony (ideinost) expressing a principal idea of communism, a ‘party which could support both interpretations is the Second movement, element’ (partiinost) expressing a militant aspect, and that all art the Scherzo. At the start of the movement when the horns come in should display a spirit of ‘national popularism’ (narodnost) by they play the dead end motif but transformed into a jolly fanfare. making the music comprehensible to all. Artists were now not Following that, the Clarinet then plays jaunty melodic lines filed only judged on their work but also were judged on whether their with trills and grace notes then followed by the bassoons playing work matched the party’s agenda. Many composers struggled a perky countermelody. Conversely, at 0.28 seconds the Bassoons to walk the tightrope between pleasing the party authorities and play a D flat followed by a B flat and then an F, deliberately souring adhering to their own creativity. There are some composers the harmony. All the same, the previous three main ideas are who fled the USSR in order to nourish their creativity, using then developed throughout the movement Stravinsky as an example, however there are changing between the major and minor and also others who did not adhere to the party’s are then played in the full orchestra. The requirements and were murdered as ‘enemies soviet writer, Alexei Tolstoy interpreted the of the state’ as a result. In this essay, I am MANY movement as a ‘light-hearted respite from what going to focus on Shostakovich and the ways COMPOSERS had come before.’ However, Shostakovich’s in which his music does or does not reflect the STRUGGLED TO son, Maxim Shostakovich presented a much Socialist Realism policy. WALK THE more sinister interpretation: ‘The critics call The ‘ideological content’ (ideinost) TIGHTROPE BETWEEN the second movement a Mahlerian waltz. I conveying the principalities of communism PLEASING THE PARTY strongly disagree. Mahler was in his tradition, demanded optimism. There was to be no AND ADHERING TO but this is not a waltz. It is the aggression tragedy or negativity portrayed in music and THEIR CREATIVITY. of a soulless negative force. A machine of the music was to reflect and glorify the ideal destruction.’ The waltz is a bitter and an soviet society. This concept was one of the ironic protest against the government, almost implying ‘how can articles that Shostakovich went against in his opera ‘Lady Macbeth one be expected to dance when we are living in such an oppressive of Mtsensk.’ The Opera was released in 1934 and was performed regime’, reflected in the waltz, from its mocking tone and rhythms on many world stages from New York to London to Argentina. It which make it impossible to dance to. Nevertheless, however was performed nearly 200 times in Leningrad and Moscow alone. one interprets Shostakovich’s fifth symphony, it does reflect the The work is filled with lust, sex, defiance, crime and the politics of policies of Socialist Realism. The Soviet officials called the work freedom and the music has been described as salty, multi-layered, an ‘optimistic tragedy,’ and the movement has moments of clear dense and with ironic references to folk tunes. However, after the optimism when it is in a major key. Furthermore, ‘Optimism’ is night of the 26th of January 1936, there were thousands of news especially shown in the magnitude of the percussion of the final articles condemning the work with phrases like ‘muddle instead of movement of the symphony therefore reflecting the Stalinist music’ and a ‘pandemonium of creaking, shrieking and crashes.’ policies of socialist realism. The composer’s union denounced the opera and many friends of Another component of the socialist realism policy is the Shostakovich betrayed him by writing articles and speeches against national popularism (narodnost) which means making music him to try and save themselves for being associated with him. that is comprehensible to everyone therefore implying simplicity, After months of living in terror of the secret police (NKVD) and tunefulness and traditionalism. Traditionally this is encompassed withdrawing his Fourth Symphony when it was still in rehearsal, in folk music. A piece by Shostakovich that comes to mind is the as a plea for redemption Shostakovich crafted his Fifth Symphony. Golden Mountains Suite. The suite is a film score and the plot of The fifth symphony has been famously interpreted in two different
S H O STA KO V I C H : C O U R AG E O R C O N F O R M I S M
the film is about a young worker who has a political awakening during a factory strike in 1914. Obviously the film is a Soviet film and the suite completely complies with the ‘narodnost’ element of socialist realism. It is in a typical style and it proves as easy listening. There is a short and simple introduction using a guitar which is unusual and it plays a simple yet effective Russian folklike melody. It is a clear, cheerful waltz in triple time which is easy on the ears, therefore obeys the ‘music that is comprehensible to all.’ Then follows a fugue in a neoclassical style played by a pipe organ. This fragment of the suite strongly resembles the funeral passacaglia from Act Two of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. The suite ends with a dramatic and patriotic finale with the frequent use of percussion instruments. This film score is completely over the top, varied and colourful and it is supposed to represent the people of Soviet Russia, specifically the workers. The film and Shostakovich’s score was massively popular and there were several piano reductions. This film was released in 1931, thus making it before the Muddle instead of Music incident of 1936, which was a time when Shostakovich was very popular worldwide. This score is a clear example of socialist realism. It complies to every aspect but more precisely, it is written for people who are not musicians and who don’t understand the complexity of music. It is simple, tuneful, traditional and it has a obvious folk element to it therefore this suite totally reflects Stalin’s policy of Socialist Realism. One of the other aspects of Socialist Realism was the Party element (partiinost.) This was all about the military component of Communism and the Soviet Party and music was meant to glorify the military. This was especially necessary on June 22nd 1941 which was when the Germans invaded the USSR much to everyone’s surprise. Hitler’s invasion and his aggression gave Shostakovich an opportunity to express his suffering (not necessarily to do with the war,) in music. As soon as the war began Shostakovich enlisted in the Red Army and he was submitted to be an auxiliary fireman due to his poor eyesight but fortunately this job allowed him the time to compose his Seventh Symphony in C minor which became known as the Leningrad. He finished the huge first movement in a mere six weeks and on the same day that he began composing the second movement, the siege of Leningrad began. In that siege nearly one million people died mainly of starvation and stories emerged of people eating their pet and even cannibalism. It became common knowledge that Russia’s greatest living composer was writing a symphony in support of their heroic resistance and this sudden morale boost was made known to the Soviet authorities. Shostakovich finished the entire work in less than six months and its first performances were huge symbols of patriotism, the Soviet party theoretically using the symphony as a propaganda tool. The first movement presents the conflict that will remain throughout the symphony. The strings were seen as representing the Soviet people against the machine-like trumpets and timpani, representing the Germans. This ‘battle’ between the strings and the trumpets and timpani is relentless and shows Shostakovich wanting to be repetitive, enhancing the feel of pain upon pain. There is a bassoon
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
solo which has been described as a mother searching for her dead son on the battlefield and when the body is relievingly found, the horns and tuba play what might be a short Requiem and the single bar occurs three times, again showing the technique of repetition. The second movement is titled ‘Memories’ which are, of course, sad memories. This movement is bitter and almost empty with a melancholy, single oboe line above the orchestra. The alto flute at the very end gives cause for hope; however all hope is shattered when the Adagio starts. This movement is one of anger and passion. This is reflected in the chromatic chord which is played after the melody in the strings at 1 minute 28. The movement starts as cold and unrelenting which is apparent in the poignant flue solo. However, this solo is then later repeated in the violas, giving a sense of survival and the movement ends joyful and hopeful. When the symphony ends, the opening theme is played by the whole orchestra in a triumphant C major but while this is happening the side drum of the Germans returns, subtly reminding us that evil will still be there once the war is over. This could be Shostakovich telling the Russian people that even when we have defeated the Germans we will still have evil i.e. Stalin. Most of the Soviet people interpreted the Seventh Symphony as a work supporting the troops in Leningrad against the Germans. This interpretation supports the Party element to Socialist Realism fully and displays the supposed glory of the Russian Army however as always one is still unsure of the music’s true message. Socialist Realism also focused around the idea of Romanticism. It was meant to elevate the common worker and show how much life had improved after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and after Stalin’s various industrial ‘improvements’ in spite of the massive loss of life, such as the infamous 5 year plans and collectivization causing widespread famine. A piece which suggests this, is the final movement of the Fifth Symphony. In the music one can hear the motif from the previous movement played for the first time in a major key which implies the idea of a new and better beginning. The newly major-key motif is played again to enforce the happy ending. However, this could also be soon as Shostakovich mimicking Stalin in that he is desperately trying to make a happy ending but there is still the memory of the motif in the minor key, hence meaning that there is still the memory for the Russian people of the friends and family who were taken away and executed or sent to Gulags (forced labor camps.) This idea of enigma is heard seven bars later when Shostakovich writes a B flat in the trumpet part at the top of the chord instead of the expected and victorious B natural which creates dissonance against the As being played in the strings and the woodwind parts, creating tension and an underlying feeling of unrest. There is an overpowering sound of percussion in the coda replacing the melancholy A-D accompaniment that accompanies the folk-like melody at the beginning of the symphony developed into a constant overbearing timpani line. At this point in the piece, there has been a modulation to D major, however at the climax of the concluding phrase, the top line of the brass doesn’t reach to the tonic or even the leading note; it plays a sinister C natural
again reinforcing this idea of underlying hostility. We then hear a with the strings on a tentative theme which turns out to be simple sinister repetition of the ‘dead end motif’. The motif is the same an inversion of the first, then followed by a counterpoint. Next as it was at the start of the symphony and it has been spread the wind attempts a second theme with triplets; however they fail across throughout the entire brass section and it is even still on the also. Then we finally hear the second theme in the bassoons with same note, an A. There is a huge contradiction surrounding this harsh interjections from the cellos and basses. The theme than piece among musicologists and one of the parts which is argued ambles and eventually the strings and wind joins in, resulting in over is the final bass drum. Some people find the last page of an expressive outburst to end the first movement. The finale is the symphony overblown and oppressive which is shown in the similar to the first movement in that it is excessive, grand and bass drum being ‘fortississimo.’ Others however, find the ending has difficulty in following formality. There are not one but two glorious and triumphant. There is another theory that the end of codas, the second coda starts in C minor but as the funeral march this symphony is Shostakovich predicting a future beyond Stalin continues one can hear a muted trumpet in G over an unmoving and beyond the oppressive regime in which he enforced. This can C minor triad in the strings. In the symphony’s final moments, be demonstrated at the end of the work in the 252 repeated notes. you can feel the suffering and the desperation of Shostakovich The theory is that the notes represent that there will be millions desperately trying to tell us the something. Musically this piece more deaths before the regime can be overthrown and freedom does not reflect the policies of Socialist Realism at all however will be a reality. This contradicts the idea of Romanticism and a the circumstances in that it was contained and practically banned better future after communism however this is not how Stalin saw from release is as much evidence of the Stalinist presence in music it. The final march was his favorite part of the piece as according and composition as one would ever need. There was a complete to him it represented all the elements of Socialist realism. It is intolerance for anything different or something that even slightly a real possibility that Stalin was simply too suggested that Soviet Russia could be consumed in his own beliefs and heard only anything less than perfect. This symphony what he wanted to hear, therefore failing to does reflect the Stalinist policies of Socialist read between the lines. realism because it resembles the complete EACH ONE OF HIS Socialism Realism is theoretically the rejection of creativity and innovation of new WORKS REPRESENTS rejection of creativity. For Shostakovich, he musical styles. THE EMOTIONAL experienced this first with ‘Lady Macbeth of Throughout his career, it is clear that AND Mtsensk’ and then with his fourth symphony. Shostakovich had a difficult relationship COMPOSITIONAL Whilst writing his fourth symphony, the with the state and each one of his works STRUGGLES HE Pravda article publically denouncing him represents the emotional and compositional FACED. came out and he was shamed. No one can struggles he faced during his life in the tell whether this influenced any part of USSR. Shostakovich neither supported the symphony but still knowing the risks, nor disagreed with the Soviet Party as he Shostakovich was determined to go ahead with the premier identified himself as a Bolshevik, however fundamentally he saw scheduled for the 30th of December 1936. The symphony was himself as an artist and it is clear in his works that he disagreed due to be played by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra and with the regime and the restrictions on personal freedom. Each when Shostakovich was asked what he thought the reaction of the of his works reflect the Stalinist policy of Socialist Realism, either symphony would be from the Soviet officials he claimed ‘I don’t complying with it or in complete contrast of it. Shostakovich write for Pravda; I write for myself.’ No one is sure of the true saw himself as a composer for the people of Russia and he was reason Shostakovich withdrew the symphony from performance a patriotic man. His Fifth Symphony gave hope to a nation however many are sure that the authorities placed immense where there was none in a time of severe oppression and war pressure on the members of the orchestra and it was withdrawn and his Seventh Symphony commended them for their valiant for their safety. The original manuscript was destroyed in the war and victorious efforts in the Second World War. Shostakovich’s and it was not until many years after Stalin’s death, in the period music was adaptive to the various experiences he had throughout of de-Stalinization by Khrushchev, that a librarian found all the his life which was very politically orientated. There were times orchestral parts in the archives of the Leningrad Philharmonic; when he was extremely close to prosecution after the ‘Lady it was finally performed on the 30th of December 1961 by the Macbeth affair’ however there was also a time when he was the Moscow Philharmonic, 25 years later than planned. The piece is most popular composer in Russia. On the whole Shostakovich’s huge and excessive, requiring 125 musicians and the music has music does reflect Stalin’s policy of Socialist Realism; it is only grandeur and an incoherent structure however even though it is in when one begins to read between the lines that one realizes that Sonata Form, the piece feels random and unsystematic. One can there are frequent subtle messages of rebellion and refusal to hear the first subject after the blaring opening and then different succumb to the Stalinist regime. sections attempt a second theme but systematically fail, starting
F L AW E D P ROTAG O N I ST S A N D REDEEMABLE VILLAINS
FLAWED PROTAGONISTS and redeemable villains Isabella Ingram YE AR 12
n a letter to her niece Fanny Knight, novelist Jane Austen condemned literary “pictures of perfection”, adding with disdain and a hint of trademark irony that they caused her to feel “sick and wicked”. This was a piece of condemnation intended to counter an opinion expressed by one of Fanny’s suitors, who had criticised the behaviour of Austen’s heroines, reproaching the vanity of Emma Woodhouse or perhaps the famous prejudice of Elizabeth Bennet. These are figures now applauded for the complexity provided by their faults; commended in a society that believes itself to have finally evolved from the cliché of the saintly protagonist. However, despite her jest, many of Austen’s favourite novels incorporated these “pictures of perfection” that she claimed to censure, such as Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, or Cecilia by Fanny Burney, which both detail the lives of devoutly virtuous women thwarted by the callous and possessive vices of sadistic men. This reveals some ambivalence on Austen’s part as to the nature of a satisfying protagonist – a fluctuation that is still very much present among readers today. Although it may be easy to dismiss the concept of flawless heroes and inherently evil villains as idealistic and clichéd, on paper we are strangely drawn to them. It is not difficult to discern why. No one can deny the temptation of this world view; such simplistic moral categorisation not only allows for a more orderly societal framework, but also preserves our own personal sense of moral identity. Unblemished protagonists allow us to deceive ourselves with the belief that such moral perfection is achievable. However appealing, rationality implores us to recognise the one-dimensional nature of this theory, even if literature often does not.
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Tackling this problem of the intrinsically ‘good’ heroes and ‘evil’ villains throws up its own problems, however. To circumvent this truism, some writers choose to employ the Freudian excuse, in which the antagonist’s malicious actions are given an explanation, such as childhood trauma. The issue with this is that it has a propensity for being hyperbolised. Does it necessarily follow that one who is beaten by a parent as a child will naturally develop into a homicidal maniac? If the reader is in anyway unconvinced, the entirety of the plot runs the risk of appearing ridiculous. Furthermore, the excuse can often also be used as a substitute for character development, which is just as simplistic a view of humanity as the cackling, bloodthirsty supervillain. But if not the Freudian excuse, then how? Although certainly swayed by personal preference, I believe that the answer lies within Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. The character of Inspector Javert is extraordinarily ethically complex, so much so that film adaptations and the (still brilliant) West End musical
Above: Victor Hugo Left: Jane Austen
have failed time and again to represent this as well as Hugo in his deeply emotive and didactic novel. Javert, son of a fortune teller and a galley slave, endures an impoverished and migratory childhood, akin to that of the many convicts he later comes to deplore. However, he manages to climb the social ladder through police work – an impossible task in a country and era as socially inflexible as early nineteenth century France. Hugo’s description of Javert’s origins is brief (perhaps to avoid the classic pitfalls of the Freudian Excuse), but he is also careful to reveal very little of his brutality towards prisoners, thus lessening the surge of contempt our instincts will us to feel. After stealing a loaf of bread, the novel’s protagonist, Jean Valjean, serves nineteen years of forced manual labour. After release, however, he fails to attend his parole and vanishes
from society altogether. Javert’s obsession with the pursuit and capture of Valjean borders on the insane, whilst paradoxically making total psychological sense. The inspector had suffered in his childhood and found salvation in his career – such kindness must indicate moral virtue. He therefore upholds the law absolutely, and as there is very little consideration within the law for the nature and degree of crimes committed, Javert treats Valjean with the same severity as he would a fled murderer or terrorist, say. Once this is recognised, it becomes difficult to definitively condemn Javert, as he is no more deluded than the average French citizen of the time, obeying an undeveloped justice system that – like a large portion of fiction writers – is blind to the inhabitants of the moral grey area. However, Javert’s ethical potential is only truly revealed at the end of the book, once he has killed himself. The years he had employed in pursuing Valjean open a wider recognition of morality within him, as he begins to perceive a decent human being present beneath the bloody fugitive mask society has laid over him. Javert cannot contemplate a life within this new world he has discovered, where we are all morally flawed, and there is no rigid code to denote those considered ‘immoral’ or ‘villainous’. The inspector is forced into recognising his actions for what they are: obsessive, brutal, and blind – and the reality of this leads him to suicide. The fact that Javert does not feel worthy of life after recognising this indicates the presence of some true morality within him, among all his flaws; because of this we can never conclusively censure him as a reader, irrespective of his actions. Ultimately, therefore, the key to a realistic and complex antagonist is blindness. There are very few people in the real world who commit abhorrent actions with the intention of doing something they consider ‘wrong’; they are merely following their own principles and warped sense of ‘right’. Ultimately, we are all positioned along the hazy streak etched between hero and villain. Real people are simply too complex to be distinguished by such lazy branding – and thus, for the sake of a plot’s interest and authenticity, neither should the fictitious be. Flawed protagonists and redeemable villains allow for more relatable reading, whilst also serving the purpose of preserving tension, as the predictable resolution of triumphing ‘good’ is eliminated. Finally, complex characters allow for more diversity amongst the preferences of readers, as all the characters are differently blemished and redeemed, which ultimately allows for rich, enhanced fiction.
W H E R E A R E T H E G O O D G U YS ?
WHERE ARE THE
GOOD GUYS? the moral ambiguity of Game of Thrones Douglas James
ame of Thrones is the most pirated TV show on the planet - and still one of the most legitimately watched TV shows out there. It has broken numerous Emmy records, and, apart from that, it’s just plain good. It is well written, superbly acted, brilliantly directed, and the music is always perfectly done. So if you haven’t seen it, watch it NOW, because this is going to contain spoilers, all the way from Season 1 Episode 1 to Season 6 Episode 10. Therefore, all of it - so far. But, seriously, spoilers ahead. If you have even missed one episode, then watch that episode and come back later, because I don’t want to be responsible for ruining a great part of the show for you. With the Season 7 in production trailer out, hundreds, if not thousands, of YouTube videos have surfaced - with theories of this and that: who is going to die, who is not going to die, who meets who - and so on and so on. But one thing that a lot of people cannot seem to agree on is: who is good and who is bad. Of course there are those characters who are just bad and those who are just good, but it seems, especially in the last two seasons, that whether characters are a hero/heroine or a villain has been put into question. For example, Jon Snow is good - I think we can all agree on that. Maybe sometimes he can make rash decisions, but I think he has had a lot of experience and hopefully enough he won’t end up like the last King in the North. And on the other side of the spectrum we have two now-dead characters: Ramsay and Jeoffrey. They are clearly sadistic and evil. Jeoffrey was… well, Jeoffrey, and Ramsay was just a manipulative heartless bastard… literally. Although, interestingly, we did see a moment of humanity in him, during the Battle of the Bastards when Jon’s army was suffocating - just a faint look of pity and sadness in his face. Anyway, enough with the clear heroes and villains - what about the debatable ones? Cersei Lannister now sits on the rather uncomfortable-looking Iron Throne as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, only one or two of which support her: the Westerlands (her own family-run kingdom) and arguably what’s left of the Riverlands, run by what’s left of the Frey family. So I doubt her reign is going to be a long and prosperous one. At certain points in the show, we feel ourselves rooting for her,
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
YE AR 11
especially at the end of Season 5, when she is forced to take her walk of atonement through the crowded, dirty and apparently sharp streets of King’s Landing. This of course helps us to hate the High Sparrow and all the other Sparrows more, and gets our emotions confused when the Sept of Baelor explodes at the end of Season 6. And, of course, other times when we feel like we like Cersei are those moments when she is with her children, the few beings that keep her human; unfortunately, they are all dead, and if anything was going to change our feelings back to hating Cersei, it is blowing up a hell of a lot of important people, and a character that a lot of people like a lot: Margaery Tyrell. And now Cersei is queen, another popular character doesn’t seem to be too pleased about the way she got there – bear in mind that he stabbed another monarch in the back for even attempting such a thing. He is, of course, Cersei’s brother, Jaime Lannister. In Seasons One and Two, Jaime is certainly a villain. He pushes poor old Bran out of the tower, is egotistical, treacherous and self-serving, disliked by the heroic main character, good old Ned Stark. However, throughout Season 3 we began to see a bit of change in Jaime, as is captured with Brienne and gets his hand chopped; he learns a bit of humility, and it turns out that the horrible atrocity of killing the Mad King that we learned about in the first season was actually a heroic gesture as he saved half a million lives. But then, in the last three seasons, while we still see these changes continue with much kind and knightly behaviour, we also see that he still has a few Season 1 elements remaining within him; in particular, his continuing devotion to Cersei means that he will cast anyone and anything else aside to serve her. In the Season Six siege of Riverrun, he threatens to throw Edmure’s child over the walls if he doesn’t command his castle to yield. However, I don’t think this ever would have happened. When he is told the Blackfish has been killed, he is quite shocked and a little disappointed that he has ‘failed’ Brienne. For this reason (and of course a host of others), I think Jaime is fundamentally a good (if flawed) character and I am therefore going to place him as a hero. I think we are going to see increased tensions between his character and Cersei’s in Season Seven. Up North, we find a rejected and rather moody Petyr (Littlefinger)
Baelish. He has been fundamentally rejected for the first time by Sansa and suddenly all his Knights of the Vale (including their leader) are drawing their swords and proclaiming Jon Snow the King in the North. But I don’t think that will stand in his way of getting the Iron Throne. Is he a hero or a villain? Well, he has certainly committed acts that place him in both categories. He has betrayed Ned Stark and got him killed (even if he didn’t mean it to go that far), he was acting in a pretty evil manner during his awesome “Chaos is a Ladder” mini-monologue. However, he has also done a couple of good things, most notably where Sansa is concerned – saving her after Jeoffrey was murdered (as he knew she would be a prime suspect), rescuing her just before crazy Lysa shoved her head through the Moon Door and gathering all the Knights of the Vale to not only to save her when she escaped from Winterfell but also Jon and his Army during the Battle of the Bastards. But what were his motivations? In the last episode of Season Six, he tells Sansa that his only ambition is to sit the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side. However, I am going to throw Petyr right into the Villain cage straight away, because of something he and Lysa did before the show even started: they were the ones who murdered Jon Arryn (or rather, Littlefinger was the one who told Lysa to do it), hence triggering the events of the whole series: Robert choose Ned as Hand, Ned tries to find out why Arryn was murdered, gets executed for it, Ned’s son Rob marches to war, is murdered – and so many other things. So, if you want someone to thank for Game of Thrones, thank Littlefinger (does that make him a hero, after all?). And last, but not least, across the Narrow Sea (well, on it by the end of Season Six), we have Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of . . . blah blah blah (you get the gist). She has achieved many things since the first episode. And at the end of Season Six she is sailing over to Westeros with a massive fleet, and arguably three of the Seven Kingdoms behind her, not to mention around 8000 Unsullied (some have probably died because they have been proved worthless), 100,000 Dothraki, (if that was all of the khalasars), 100 ships of Yara and Theon Greyjoy’s loyal men and the combined fleets of Dorne and the Reach. And, considering that Dorne hasn’t really got involved in wars yet, that’s quite an achievement. Oh yeah, and three Dragons. Daenerys probably has tens of thousands of ships and Cersei has almost nothing; so we can be almost be certain she is going to win. However, is that a good thing or a bad thing: is Daenerys a heroine or a villain? She clearly has good intentions and wants to do the right thing. However, we have also seen that she can be inflexible and vengeful. Had Tyrion not been there to restrain her, she would have burned Slaver’s Bay to the ground. On the other hand, she freed Slaver’s Bay in the first place because she wanted the slaves to be free. She hates cruelty to slaves; she freed her slave army and they still fought for her; she inspires love and loyalty in her followers, including one of the greatest Knights in the realm who travelled all the way from King’s Landing to look for her. But however much we are open to her idealism, we cannot help noticing that, as the seasons have progressed, she has become more and more vengeful and brutal: threatening to burn Qarth if they don’t let her in, attempting to jump on her dragons and burn Slaver’s Bay. She actually does
burn the Khals alive and slaughters many other opponents. Even so, I don’t think she is a villain yet. At the moment. You see, the Mad King (her father) wasn’t mad in his youth; he was a much loved king with a prosperous kingdom. The madness came later. I think that is what could happen to Dany (or has it started already?). Perhaps that is how she will die - stabbed in the back by another Kingsguard… Maybe. So that is it: four characters (two heroes, two villains). What happens next? Will Jon and Dany team up to take the Iron Throne and save Westeros from the White Walkers? Or will it be Petyr and Sansa on the Throne? What will happen between Jaime and Cersei? Where does Bran fit into all of this? And Tyrion? Will we see The Wall fall in the final episode? How many of these characters will survive by the end of the show? We will see.
WHO ARE THE REAL DISNEY VILLAINS?
Eleanor Barber and Alexandra Lemieux YE AR 11
THE REAL DISNEY VILLAINS?
o children, Disney movies are magical things. However, revisiting them we find that all is not as it once seemed. In fact, the supposed heroes had villainous traits which would make them far from the typical hero we thought we knew; in fact, we would suggest that they are, in many cases, the villain of the story and not the hero. In Toy Story, Woody is cold to Buzz and tries to alienate him due to no longer being Andy’s favourite, clearly demonstrating a trait of jealousy. He tries to trap Buzz behind a desk, but knocks him out of the window, with the other toys believing that Woody had meant to murder Buzz. He does not help Buzz in the slightest, until the moment when they are both in danger of being torn apart by Sid [Andy’s next door, with butchered toys]. When they finally connect, due to their devotion to Andy, it takes all of Andy’s other toys to convince Woody to apologise to Buzz for the way he has treated him. This is an example of Woody being stubborn, another characteristic that you should not find in a hero but could expect in a villain. In Aladdin, we see the title character portrayed as a thief very early on despite the fact that we know that the city in which he lives is a poor one. So many people would be in the same situation and stealing is definitely something a hero shouldn’t do, as it is only for his own benefit. He also covers Jasmine’s accidental thieving by implying that she is mentally ill, which is insulting to a lot of people. Also, Aladdin uses two of his three wishes on himself and his pursuit of the throne (by marrying Jasmine, the heir to the throne), which suggests that he is selfcentred with little care for others; after all, he could have wished to save the people of his city from poverty. His final wish is
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
The Cheshire Cat: “one may smile and smile and be a villain” (Hamlet) more out of duty than having a true desire to free the genie. We also see Aladdin kidnapping Jasmine while he is pretending to be a prince; therefore, he is under a false persona while taking a young girl (Jasmine is only 15) from her home without her father’s knowledge. In the popular movie Frozen, many would argue that Hans is the villain; however, we believe that the trolls (particularly Grand Pappy) are truly the villains. Up until the interrupted kiss scene, Hans is the perfect picture of a Disney prince, with his beautifully performed love songs and the concept of love at first sight. It is only after Anna and Kristoff go to the trolls that Hans’s intentions turn evil and we see a complete change in him. We
know from the beginning of the movie that the trolls can change memories and replace them with others which the person then believes are real. Hans’s actions after the interrupted kiss are in keeping with the belief that Anna had died - the story he told the other men. We might only be seeing the scene from Anna’s point of view, meaning we could be seeing what happened through her altered memories. After all, Hans went to great lengths to ensure Elsa survives, believing her innocent as Anna did. The trolls also said during their song, Fixer Upper, “Get the fiancé out of the way”, which is typical of Disney villains, who often explain their evil plans, or at least give a hint to their evil plans, through song (as we have seen in many other Disney films). In Alice in Wonderland, Alice is only a child at the time of the movie. It is set in a strange land where there should have been adults to help her as she is only a minor. However, no adults/adult-like figures give her any help, and instead she gets tossed around being told contrasting things and having to overcome riddles simply to go home and return to her life in the real world. The Cheshire cat is one of the few characters, other than Alice herself, who is present throughout most of the movie; he should, therefore, have been an important character in guiding her through her journey, like a guardian angel. However he does not fulfil this role and forces her through unnecessary hardship, just for her to come out in the same place as she would have if she had not listened to him. This shows a deceptive trait in the Cheshire Cat’s character common in villains - and the fact that he deceives a young, vulnerable girl makes it all the worse. He also convinces her that what he says is right and that she has to do whatever he wants, which gives us the impression that if Alice had stayed in Wonderland, he would have continued to be emotionally and psychologically abusive towards her, which is undoubtedly immoral. In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, more commonly known as Sleeping Beauty, is given to the three fairies by her father supposedly to protect her, which they do very well. Under our current laws he would be accused of child negligence, because no decent father gives his daughter to three strangers who used to live in the opposing kingdom, which you have only just
come out of a war with. The fairies could also be accused of negligence, as they have no experience of looking after young child so they could have easily made one small mistake which would have had big consequences and caused Aurora’s life to be ruined. This causes Aurora to grow up on her own with no real role models apart from Maleficent, who is clearly a villain and definitely not a person to be looked up to. In the film Maleficent, the fairies are certainly not heroic as they are incompetent and simply unable to raise Aurora as they were meant to so do not fulfil the task they were set. Again, this suggests culpable negligence. In Peter Pan, the eponymous hero is portrayed as boy who takes children to a magical land, where they never need to deal with growing up. However Peter Pan is essentially kidnapping these children and putting them in dangerous situations where they have to fight for their lives. He causes grief to Mr and Mrs Darling and although you do not see it in the movie, he would have brought the same grief to all the other parents of the lost boys. We know that the parents experience a lot of grief as Mrs Darling watches the window permanently in hope that they will return, as any parent would. You can tell that many of the children in Neverland want parents as they see Wendy as a mother figure; she is the first girl they have on the island who isn’t a mermaid or a fairy. You can also see this when the Darling family take in all the lost boys as the boys are overjoyed that they have a family who wants them. The true villain of Beauty and the Beast is not the Beast or even Gaston; It is the Enchantress at the beginning of the movie, who casts the spell on the Beast (who is 11 at the time) because he is selfish. The Enchantress wants him to let her into his castle so she can shelter from the bitter cold, in exchange for a single rose. The beast refuses, as any 11 year old boy would, due to her haggard appearance and lack of a payment. He is also alone as there is no mention of parents at all during the film, so would most likely be wary of strangers at his door. When he dismissed her, her haggard appearance disappears, revealing her true form. The Beast tries to apologise but the Enchantress does not accept, claiming she sees no love in his heart and casts a curse on him that forces him to stay inside, effectively stopping his childhood. This curse, which turns him into a Beast, does not allow him to meet anyone, which means that the curse is almost unbreakable; it is just luck that Maurice (Belle’s father) stumbles upon the palace and his daughter wants to take his place as prisoner. The Enchantress even curses all of the innocent inhabitants in the caste, which includes a young child and a dog. Altogether, we feel that everybody should look at Disney a bit more sceptically as you can discover heroes that do not live up to their status and even villains that aren’t so villainous after all.
J U D G I N G BY A P P E A R A N C E
PERHAPS IT IS HEALTHIER FOR CHILDREN NOT TO AIM FOR UNREALISTIC PERFECTION.
S T E R E OT Y P E D I M AG E S O F V I RT U E A N D V I L L A I N Y
Francesca Dellafera YE AR 11
tereotyping comes in many different forms, but one we most often notice is the stereotyping of heroes and villains. Are we consciously portraying the heroes with good looks and villains as ugly or do we subconsciously classify them? Studies have shown that beauty is considered good, as most commonly seen in many Disney films, such as Cinderella and Prince Charming. Usually, in animated movies the more beautiful the characters are, the more sophisticated they are, the more the more accomplished and more likely to be romantically involved. This is best shown in Cinderella; the girl blessed with beauty who falls in love with a Prince and ends up living in a palace, whereas beforehand she was doing all of the laundry for her stepsisters and was being treated poorly by her step mother. From this, it is evident that Cinderella was represented as beautiful and graceful whereas her ‘ugly’ stepsisters were portrayed as hideous and superior to others. But were the ugly stepsisters really that bad? Disney then goes on the create two more films following the release of ‘Cinderella’. Those films show that Cinderella is able to forgive her ugly stepsisters for the sake of love, which suggests that even the ‘villains’ can be loved. In the same way villains who look strange are automatically considered evil and sinister. For example, the Queen of Hearts in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ is straight away seen as malicious. But this is mainly shown because of the size of her head emphasising how arrogant and self-important she is. Her most favoured line, ‘off with his head’ also represents how aggressive the Queen has become. Many villains are shown with bold makeup, consisting of darker shades like blues and purples, and appear to be bigger than the rest, emphasising their importance. Disney is a classic example of an animated company which accomplishes such a strong set of villains, which every child grows up watching. However, there is also stereotyping within this presentation
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
of villains. They are usually older men or women, which in the minds of a child growing up damages the reputation of the older generation. This is shown in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, where the Wicked Queen transforms into a ‘sweet’ old lady, who tries to poison Snow White with an apple. Portraying the old as villains affects not only the connection between the two ages but also how they will come to view them. However the stereotype of a villain has become so bad that some animation companies think it is needed to show that even bad guys can be good. This is most commonly known in ‘Wreck it Ralph’ when he says, “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no-one I’d rather be than me.” Movies like ‘Wreck it Ralph’ are trying to show people that the bad guys are being misinterpreted to be the villains, but by the end of the movie end up being the hero. It goes to show that being ‘normal’ is a balance between good and bad. There are some films in which villainous characters do use their own beauty to manipulate the heroes. This can be seen in ‘My Little Mermaid’ when Ursula takes Ariel’s place on land and uses her beauty to destroy the love of Ariel and the Prince. Frozen was also celebrated for introducing the good-looking, charming Prince Hans, then later revealing him to be a villain. It can be argued that stereotyping the heroes and villains in such a dramatic way in traditional films allows younger children to see a clear boundary between what is right and what is wrong. By introducing the ‘bad guys’ to children at a younger age, it shows them what behaviour is expected. However, perhaps it is healthier for children not to aim for unrealistic perfection as exemplified by so many of these heroes, but, rather like in ‘Wreck it Ralph’, find a balance. Why should the heroes be defined as ‘good’ in part because of their good looks? Surely all that matters is their moral integrity. After all, in a real life situation you wouldn’t get employed because you looked beautiful, but because you had worked hard and specialised in a particular area. Why should films be different?
The Three Graces by Sandro Botticelli (detail from La Primavera, c.1482)
C A N W E S E PA R AT E T H E A RT F RO M T H E A RT I ST ?
can we separate the
ART from the artist?
Eleanor Williams-Brown YE AR 11
ilms, literature, music and art are all deeply entrenched in our society, and are held in high esteem, with their creators achieving legendary, sometimes godlike status. However, it is important to think how much of a creator is in their creation, and consider whether their personal beliefs and morals should stop us from consuming their work. It is a difficult question to answer when our affection for novels and films can be so personal and make up a part of our character. Sometimes it is not a question of whether an artist is problematic, but instead in how many ways. Wagner once wrote that Jews were by definition incapable of art. Ezra Pound was both anti-Semitic and proto-fascist. Caravaggio, the Italian painter, and the poet and playwright Ben Jonson both killed men. Rimbaud was a smuggler, Genet was a thief, Byron committed incest with his half-sister, and Flaubert paid for sex
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
with under-age boys. Ernest Hemingway was a philandering, alcoholic misogynist and, as his son Gregory said: “When it’s all added up, papa, it will be: he wrote a few good stories, had a novel and fresh approach to reality and he destroyed five persons — Hadley, Pauline, Marty [Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife], Patrick and possibly myself. Which do you think is the most important, your self-centered s**t, the stories or the people?” Gregory’s words explain many people’s response to the question of what they deem more important: the artist’s work or their actions and personal life. Obviously, whether the creator is still alive is a crucial part of deciding whether it is acceptable to view their work. And in some cases those views may not have been evident during their life. George Orwell, whose writing is entirely political, was accused of being homophobic by Christopher Hitchens. In his book Why Orwell Matters, written many years after Orwell’s death, Hitchens said, “Orwell disapproved of homosexuality because it revolted him physically, and he made an unsuccessful effort to subdue this gut response,”. But this alleged homophobia did not surface in Orwell’s work. So, next time I re-read Down and Out in Paris and London should I still be allowed to enjoy his work, especially when I consider it one of my favourite texts? Of course, but at the very least, I should be aware of Orwell’s reported views, especially when consuming his writing, much of which has a political focus. However, the situation is different when we consider the work of someone who is still alive. Roman Polanski, a French-Polish film director, sexually assaulted a thirteen year old girl. There is no doubt about this; he pleaded guilty to the charge of ‘unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor’. Surely this should mean that no-one would ever want to see any of his films, no matter how many Golden Globes or Academy Awards they win. Yet, his 2002 film The Pianist made $120.1 million at the box office alone. Were these people aware that the man who made this film was a convicted sex offender? Probably, and yet they went anyway, because bad people can make good art. But anyone who pays money to see any of Polanski’s films should be aware that their action in viewing it is a political act in itself, no matter how much they shy away from it. Consuming art created by someone who lived hundreds of years ago is very different to consuming art by someone contemporary. Society’s views were different – and, while unacceptable by current standards, were viewed as the norm. Also, when someone is dead they are not gaining any profit from their work, and you are also safe in the knowledge that the
people they affected are unlikely to still be alive as well. However, regardless of how many awful people there are out there, there is art which was not created by misogynists or antisemites or paedophiles. So it is not as if the only option is to view work by seriously flawed people or never consume any art. But it does seem ignorant to cut yourself off from all forms of art just because of the creator’s actions or views. This prompts the thought that art should be consumed with the audience fully aware of the creator’s problems and flaws, and how that affects their work. Charles McGrath wrote in the New York Times, “in the case of the artist, badness or goodness is a moral quality or judgment; in the case of his art goodness and badness are terms of aesthetic merit, to which morality does not apply.” The moral quality or judgement will be subjective and for a person to figure out on their own. But we cannot view consuming work as a passive action which does not influence society. We must be aware of how entrenched art is in society. As the American singer Harry Belafonte said: “Art in its highest form is art that serves and instructs society and human development.” J.R.R. Tolkien’s work contains passages where racism is often blatant, making it painful for many people to read. After all, what good is escapism when you are escaping to a world which still does not accept you and your skin colour? Arguably, this is very different to when someone is listening to Wagner’s music. His music has even been played and championed by Daniel Barenboim, a Jew, who stated that while Wagner���s beliefs may have been reprehensible, his music is not. As Barenboim likes to say, Wagner did not compose a single note that is anti-Semitic. This question leads on to whether art focusing on controversial themes should be consumed as well. Not only can a ‘bad’ person write a good novel or paint well, a good novel or painting can depict something awful, such as Picasso’s Guernica or Nabokov’s Lolita. But not consuming these pieces of art is another form of ignorance as if we are never made of aware of such things, can we call ourselves well-educated or sensitive to the human condition? Overall, I do not believe one should not be allowed to enjoy an artist’s work just because of their political views. It is hard to draw a line between a creator and their work, especially after the time and effort they put into their creations, but the work can be considered to stand alone from the author. I believe that it is necessary to be aware of a creator’s political views or criminal past, not only as a potential indication of whether you are likely to enjoy a piece of work or not, but also to be aware of how
Top: George Orwell Above: Roman Polenski, receiving the Palme d’Or
these could be reflected in their work. Time period, the author’s views, and a multitude of things should be taken into account when consuming any form of art, but it should not necessarily stop enjoyment of it. Perhaps there is no right or wrong art to consume, but one must be aware of what lies behind the work and realise that all their choices make a political statement. After all, acknowledging an artist’s views is another way to realise their humanity and to not place them on a pedestal.
H E RO O R V I L L A I N ? I T ’S A M AT T E R O F L U C K
Mark Docherty YE AR 12
OVER THE COURSE OF ONE DAY NICOLA ADAMS WENT FROM BEING A NOBODY TO A NATIONAL HERO.
HEROor ZERO? it’s a matter of luck
Robert Green and Nicola Adams
he career of a sportsperson often hinges on one moment. No matter what they achieve, or don’t achieve, their legacy and reputation will be defined by a single second of their life. Whether somebody is remembered as a hero or a villain is very reliant on luck. One howler or one moment of magic can be the difference between gaining legendary status and being regarded as a failure. For example, would Jonny Wilkinson have been remembered as one of England’s greatest-ever rugby players if he had scuffed the last minute drop-goal that won the 2003 World Cup? Imagine if he had dropped the ball and Australia had gone on to win the match. Wilkinson would have been the national scapegoat as England licked their wounds and contemplated what might have been. He went on to win 91 England caps, went on two British &
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Irish Lions tours, and was appointed CBE in 2015 for services to rugby union. He missed plenty of kicks during his international career but, vitally, he scored the one that will be remembered eternally. Wilkinson will go down in history as a hero of English rugby, but it could easily have been so different. On the other side of the spectrum, Robert Green is infamous throughout the country for his goalkeeping blunder in the 2010 World Cup against the USA. England’s first game of the tournament was going brilliantly after Steven Gerrard put them ahead, before Green inexplicably let a Clint Dempsey shot trickle under his body and into the goal. The tournament went downhill from there from England’s perspective, as they won just one match before being humiliated by Germany in a 4-1 defeat. If Green had saved Dempsey’s shot and England had won the match, they would have found themselves playing Ghana in the
first knockout round rather than the Germans, and who knows what would have happened then? Instead, England drew with the USA, were embarrassed by Germany, and never picked Green again. He made plenty of great saves during his career, but will always be thought of as a villain by England fans. Nicola Adams became a national hero when she became the first ever female boxer to win an Olympic gold medal in 2012. Her name may have been familiar to the die-hard fans of women’s boxing, but she made herself a household name and wrote herself into the history books forever when she knocked out her opponent, Ren Cancan, in London. Over the course of one day of her career she went from being a nobody to a national hero. Not only did she instantly increase her popularity, but she massively raised awareness for her sport, securing more funding for the next Olympics which ultimately led to her retaining her
title in Rio. She is now the best known female boxer in the history of the sport and is even considering turning professional, none of which would have happened if things had turned out even slightly differently on the day of her gold medal match in 2012. In cricket, Kevin Pietersen became a villain to the majority of England fans when it was discovered he had exchanged messages with South Africa’s players about his captain, Andrew Strauss. Pietersen already divided the opinion of England supporters due to his confident, slightly arrogant demeanour which brought into question his determination to succeed. Having said that, he quickly won most supporters over with a century in the 2005 Ashes which all but secured the series win for England. He had accumulated 21 test centuries for England by the time he was accused of sending the messages to England’s South African opponents in 2011, and was enjoying being a national hero. That popularity soon dissipated, however, and it was not long before Pietersen made his last-ever appearance for the test side. Pietersen became not only one of the biggest villains in English cricket, but in English sport due to the way he undermined both his captain and his team. If Pietersen had refrained from sending those messages he would not only be a national hero, but would be a legend of English cricket. It is likely that he would be one of the highest run scorers in history, and may even have had another shot at captaining the team once Strauss retired. Pietersen is a classic example of how one moment of madness can lead to the decline of a sportsperson’s career and to them being vilified by a whole country. These are just four examples of how much of a sporting career is down to chance. The margins between heroes and villains are so fine that a single second can prove to be the difference between someone having a legacy that is remembered fondly for generations and being ousted by their own fans. Sport is a ruthless business, and it takes luck as well as skill to be a hero.
B AT T L I N G T H E O D D S T H E G E N I U S O F V I R AT KO H L I
BATTLING the ODDS THE GENIUS OF VIRAT KOHLI Monideep Ghosh YE AR 12
orn in Delhi, Virat Kohli shot into prominence as the Under-19 captain, who led India to victory at the 2008 World Cup held in Malaysia. That accolade gained him instant recognition and made him an overnight teenage sensation. Soon after, he made his ODI debut for India in Sri Lanka in August 2008, when he was thrust into the opener’s role as both Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were ruled out due to injuries. He played two important knocks - 37 in the second ODI and 54 in the fourth - both of which resulted in India winning, thereby enabling them to take the series as well. After such an impressive showing, he was slightly unlucky to remain on the bench when England visited India in December 2008, as Tendulkar and Sehwag had returned and the middle-order was strong and packed. A typical modern-day cricketer, Virat Kohli plays his game aggressively, bares his emotions loudly in public, yet retains the element of maturity that forms an integral part of every great player. The season after 2009 turned out to be a proving point for both Kohli and India. He received regular chances at the No.3 slot in the ODI team and thus made the position his own with a flurry of consistent showings. He became the first Indian to score a century on World Cup debut when he smashed a ton against Bangladesh in India’s first game of the 2011 World Cup. He went on to make a few more vital contributions - including an 83-run stand with Gautam Gambhir in the final - in India’s successful World Cup campaign. Team India didn’t enjoy a great year after the World Cup, but Kohli’s career graph went upwards rapidly in the 2011-12 season. He made his Test debut in West Indies in July 2011, but was dropped for the England Tests that followed after he had a poor debut series. However, Kohli continued his great form in ODIs and made 194 runs from five innings, including a century. His ODI success led to a Test recall for the home series against West Indies, and Kohli hasn’t looked back since. A couple of half centuries in the final Test pushed him into the Test squad for the Australia tour which followed. Kohli failed in the first two Tests in
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Australia, but justified the team management’s continuous support for him with a 75 in the third Test in Perth and a century - his first in Test cricket - in Adelaide. Kohli went on to make centuries against New Zealand, England and Australia when the teams visited the subcontinent in the 2012-13 season and established himself as a batting mainstay for India. While his Test career might have had its ups and downs, his ODI graph only has one direction and that is skywards. He is the fastest Indian to score 1,000, 3,000 and 4,000 runs in ODIs and is also the fastest cricketer to score 10 ODI centuries. He was also the highest run-scorer for India in ODIs for three consecutive years - 2010, 2011 and 2012 and won the ICC ODI cricketer of the year award in 2012. Kohli was also one of the most consistent batsmen in the ICC Champions Trophy in June 2013 and finished fifth in the table of top run-scorers with 176 runs. When Australia toured India in October 2013, Kohli became the fastest Indian to score a century. He achieved this feat in just 52 balls as India was successful in the second highest run chase in the history of ODI cricket. He amassed 344 runs in the series at an average of 114.66 and topped the ICC Batsmen rankings. In November 2013, Kohli became the joint-fastest batsman to score 5,000 runs in ODIs when he scored 86 against West Indies in the first game in Kochi. He achieved this feat in 114 innings equalling Sir Viv Richards’ record. However, the record was soon broken by South African batsman Hashim Amla, who reached the milestone in 101 innings. Known to be quite an aggressive batsman, he has a sound technique, which makes him judge the length of the ball earlier than most others. He is equally adept against pace and spin, and never looks ungainly at the crease. With a penchant for using his feet against the spinners, he is known to be quite destructive when in the mood. Kohli has become one of the most dependable batsmen in the Indian middle order. His defensive technique is organised, he is an accomplished stroke player all round the wicket, - his timing on the legside is especially silken - and he relishes performing when the pressure is on. He proved his credentials right as a Test batsman on the tour of South Africa when he scored
a sensational first innings hundred in Johannesburg in the first Test to bail India out of trouble and followed it up with a 96 in the second innings. When it came to the limited overs formats, no one doubted the abilities of the right-handed batsman. Although he did not manage to score big in South Africa, Kohli was back to his usual best in New Zealand and also did well in the 2014 Asia Cup. Come the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh, Kohli not only stunned everyone with his array of shots, but also ended the tournament as the leading run-getter, including four fifties. His gung-ho attitude, his youthful charm and his aggression have also made him the mascot of his IPL team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kohli has repaid the franchise by helping Bangalore reach the finals of the 2009 and 2011 IPL seasons and then almost single-handedly taking them to the title clash in the 2011 Champions League Twenty20. He was handed the Royal Challengers Bangalore’ captaincy for the 2013 IPL season, with the intention of grooming him as the future captain of India. Kohli’s thirst for runs didn’t show signs of slowing down as he looted a record high 973 runs during the 2016 edition of the Indian Premier League, the most by any batsman in the history of the tournament - as he led his Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) franchise to a runners-up finish. Unfortunately, Kohli lost his touch when India traveled to England in 2014 and he could score just 134 runs in 10 Test match innings. Surprisingly, his struggle with the bat continued in the ODI series that followed the Tests. However, he bounced back strongly with a fifty and a hundred in India’s home ODI series against West Indies and then thrashed the Sri Lankan bowlers to all corners, with two fifties and a hundred in the five-match ODI series. In the process, he
also became the fastest to record 6,000 runs in ODIs. He carried his great form into the 2014-15 Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under, in which he smashed four hundreds in four Test matches. More success was to beckon the young Indian captain as he led a 3-0 humbling of South Africa at home. The result took India to the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings, albeit for a short period of time. He took his form to the shortest format as well, scoring three consecutive fifties, during the historic 3-0 whitewash of Australia in the T20I series. In the 2016 World Twenty20, he batted like a man possessed, playing crucial knocks right through the tournament. Unfortunately for him, Indian bowling failed at a crucial time during the semi-final against West Indies, leaving Kohli with only the consolation of being named as the ‘Player of the tournament’, for the second successive Twenty20 World Cup. At 28, having achieved what he already has, Kohli is at a stage in his career where he doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. And yet he doesn’t allow himself the luxury to relax. Every time he strides out to the middle, Kohli leaves an impression that he is battling the odds. What sets him apart from the best of his contemporaries is his hunger to perform and excel, irrespective of the format, irrespective of the stage. The legend that is Virat Kohli continues to fight for world domination.
I N T E RV I E W W I T H A H E RO
INTERVIEW WITH A
he definition of a hero: a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. It has crossed my mind that perhaps these heroes do not also class themselves as such. It also occurred to me that heroes are not always the typical kind you read about, but are present in everyday life. I was given the chance to interview a former firefighter, and to see his perspective of heroism, as saving lives is something he and his colleagues do daily. Do you class yourself as a hero? No. It’s our job, our profession. It’s what we do, but we can understand why the public might see us in that way, because we come to their rescue in times of need.
Are you ever afraid? (He hesitated briefly before answering) Sometimes. Fear… Apprehension… Nervousness. I remember on July 7th of the London bombing, we were called to a bomb-making factory in Woking, and I had all these emotions that day. The fear of not seeing my own family again, and what we might find when we got there.
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Does the public appreciate you, do you think?” Yes, and no. When we saved someone’s life from a car accident, we were, in their eyes, heroes. But when there was loss and grief from a death, or a property being burnt to the ground and we were unable to save them or it, then the public didn’t see it as our fault, but through their loss and grief, we were not heroes. But I’m sure they appreciated every effort that was put into saving their loved ones’ lives and their properties.
Sienna Bentley YE AR 12
I felt quite nervous, in the way that I didn’t want to upset him with my next question. But I suppose it is the one that everyone wants to ask someone with a profession like this. So I just asked: What was the worst incident you attended? (He smiled sadly at me). I’ll try not to get emotional. I’ve actually been thinking about this recently. Mass loss of life on the M25, involving a man and the loss of his 18-month old baby from a lorry. On the A31 a man lost his life, but he was alive when we got there. Everyone in the car died, and when we were trying to get him out of the car, his wife turned up. It was awful. We showed dignity. I brought all my men to attention, about-turned them and helped her all we could while she saw her husband die. That one was hard. Really, really hard. That affected us all, more than ever. As a firefighter, you don’t get emotionally involved. You don’t know their name, whether they’re married, if they have children. And that allows you to stay disconnected. So when the wife turned up and we saw the extent of her grief, we automatically became emotionally involved. We didn’t feel like heroes. We tried our hardest that day, but we didn’t feel like heroes.
I sat there, a bit shocked to know what to say next. I said, pathetically: That’s really sad. I felt like those three words did not cover the extent of what they must have gone through. You could just hear her break down behind us. It was awful. Awful. But then some days you feel like a hero, when you save them, and their pets, and their furniture, and you allow them to carry on with their lives, even if slightly disrupted, they can carry on. You feel like a hero when you save a horse in a ditch or a river, and it takes a whole day because they’re so tired and so heavy. But when you get them out and you see the jubilation on their faces, and their owners give you big hugs and kisses, and you think ‘Wow. I made a difference.’ We’d go to school with little kids and to them we were heroes. We’d let them squirt the hoses and sit in the fire engines. You might not remember doing this, but at 5 or 6 to them we were these big, important heroes of society. But we don’t think of ourselves that way. I definitely do.
L AW Y E R S : H E RO E S O R V I L L A I N S ?
LAWYERS : HEROES OR VILLAINS? Layla Link YE AR 13
rom Shakespeare to Dickens to Grisham, there is no shortage of fictional lawyers for us to admire, disdain or, above all, simply remember. From Dick the Butcher’s famous pronouncement to Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2 -“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” - through Dickens and Galsworthy, literature has treated lawyers poorly. And we mustn’t forget Sir Thomas More's exclusion of lawyers from his utopia because they are “a sort of people, whose profession it is to disguise matters”. These figures have only added to the list of authors who despise the profession. These depictions are informed by popular perceptions of legal ethics which are widely considered to be minimal, unenforced and widely circumvented. Yet, popular culture has also allowed us a glimpse of legal heroes and ethical champions to which
ambitious lawyers can aspire. Nuanced images of lawyers have permeated popular culture, from Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, to Bob Odenkirk’s recent portrayal of Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad. What do these sources tell us about popular perceptions of professional ethics? The mystique that the “better” lawyer always wins the case is extremely powerful and it is also antithetical to the ideals of truth and justice. A guilty man should not be acquitted because he is ineptly prosecuted and ably defended; conversely, an innocent man should not be convicted because he was brilliantly prosecuted and poorly defended. A jury’s verdict ought to reflect the objective truth of the matter in dispute, not the relative skills of the competing attorneys. So, do trial lawyers make a difference in the outcome of a jury trial? The answer is yes, but not nearly
cinema as an all-time favourite hero. For the high-schoolers to the extent that most lawyers would like to think. In the vast reading To Kill a Mockingbird today, America is a very different majority of cases, even the most able or inept attorney would place than it was when Lee wrote her novel 50 years ago. not make a difference. However, most lawyers keep careful Students of many different races and ethnicities are studying the track of their “wins” and “losses”, and are themselves the worst book together. However, the novel still has a lot of relevance. victims of the mystique that exists about their skills. Released at the height of the Civil Rights movement, it put a William Moses Kunstler was an American radical “worldpersonal spin on tense, racial issues in the South by placing a famous lawyer” and civil rights activist, known for his politically relatable story into the hands of every American student. When unpopular clients and well-deserved reputation for eloquence. To Kill a Mockingbird was topping best-seller lists, protesters Admirers saw him as a brilliant lawyer, and a skilful and were organising sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters across the courageous litigator, while his critics saw him as a showoff and South. Mockingbird was published 12 years after the Universal publicity seeker. Nor did Mr. Kunstler entirely disagree with Declaration of Human Rights, six years after Brown v Board of his detractors. “To some extent, that has the ring of truth,” he Education, and five after the Montgomery bus boycott which once said. “I enjoy the spotlight, as most humans do, but it’s not began with the arrest of Rosa Parks. The depiction of the South my whole raison d’etre. My purpose is to keep the state from helped make the story an instant hit. It explains to readers who becoming all-domineering, all powerful.” Kunstler’s defence of don’t understand it why black people are afraid of the criminal the Chicago Seven, charged by the Government with conspiracy, justice system; because they have not had, historically, justice inciting to riot, and other charges related to anti-Vietnam War in that system. It is an elemental book because it dares speaks and countercultural protests that took place in Chicago during the truth that the problem in the South is not the problem with the 1968 Democratic National Convention led The New York black people, it is the problem with white people – what adds to Times to label him “the country’s most controversial and, the power of the novel is that it is coming from a white author’s perhaps, its best-known lawyer”. Kunstler was defending Omar perspective. To Kill a Mockingbird didn’t change everyone’s Abdel-Rahman for the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing at mind, but it did open some. And it has inspired many people to the time of his death. With his controversial nature, many have become lawyers. criticised him for being “inhuman” and fail to see that defending It is not surprising that many aspiring lawyers have been people regardless of the crime they have been accused of is part inspired by Finch. His name is synonymous of a lawyer’s job. Everyone has a moral and with moral perfection, his quiet dignity the legal right to defence. standard of ethical conduct. Acting against Justice is at the heart of a democratic society. 'THE MORAL ARC self-interest and bounded by moral conviction It means laws should apply equally to all, and OF THE UNIVERSE IS that everyone should have the right to a fair LONG, BUT IT BENDS is the very essence of Atticus Finch. However, apparently, upon graduation, most law students trial. Not only do we need to ensure a fair TOWARD JUSTICE.' lose their inner Atticus Finch. Contrary to creation of laws, we also need to ensure their fair MARTIN popular belief, this may be a good thing: is it enforcement. Miranda v Arizona is the landmark LUTHER KING, JR. really beneficial to aspire to Atticus Finch? He Supreme Court case which established the is a fictional character, not a real lawyer. By principle that a confession to a police officer aspiring to him, do we fall into the same trap we do when we could not be used in court unless the suspect being questioned watch legal television and make assumptions about real lawyers? was first advised of his rights. The Supreme Court of the United Many lawyers have an Atticus Finch complex, and it is killing States consolidated four separate cases with issues regarding the the profession. “I want to be like Atticus Finch” is a common admissibility of evidence obtained during police interrogations. statement for a young, fresh law student to make, yet perhaps this The defendants offered incriminating evidence during police has led too many students to take up the law due to a wannabe interrogations without prior notification of their rights under the saviour complex inspired by hero worship. We need clear-eyed Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. In a 5–4 majority, the lawyers who recognise that all members of society have a right Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements to a fair trial and a right to an attorney who is not overworked, made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police underpaid, and abused by the system, as many public defenders custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can can be. Yet, it cannot be overlooked that the character of Atticus show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird has had a lasting impact on the with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right legal world and society, and still remains a relevant figure for against self-incrimination before police questioning, and that today’s justice system. the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily The law teaches us that not everything is clear-cut; the world waived them. This case shows us that police officers, although is not simply black or white. We all need to open our eyes wide often seen as being heroic, do not always follow the law. to the prejudices around us, although they may be hard to see Fifty years ago, Harper Lee had the kind of success that sometimes. Lawyers today are held in low esteem by many most writers only dream about: published in 1960, To Kill a members of the public and are the subject of cynicism. Society Mockingbird was an immediate success. It is just ahead of the needs to reevaluate how they think about lawyers. True, not Bible in the nation’s affections. In the novel, Atticus Finch is an all heroes are lawyers and not all lawyers are heroes, but by upstanding lawyer and father. Thanks to the successful adaption defending the innocent or even the guilty, lawyers are essential to of the book into a film in 1962, the character of Atticus became the democratic justice system which we need. forever entwined with the actor who portrayed him, Gregory Peck who won an Oscar as Finch and earned a place in American
Atticus Finch defending Tom Robinson in court 40
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
H E RO E S W H O S H A P E D O U R W O R L D
WHO SHAPED OUR WORLD Naeve Molho YE AR 12
Hero: a person, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
equal human rights for black citizens but ultimately he never stopped fighting for his dream and it is this attribute which makes him such a hero. His journey began through the meetings of the National African Congress, after running away from his tribe, aiming to create an equal democratic government and abolishing the apartheid in South Africa. Mandela showed the utmost support for his followers, even after the outlawing of the African National Congress in 1960, resulting in four years in prison. However, this would not be his biggest sacrifice. So far, Mandela had maintained peaceful, non-violent protests; however, he knew if his voice were to be heard this would have to change. Shortly after taking the movement underground globally, Mandela was sentenced to a lifetime sentence in prison for his charge of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. However the hope and strength that Mandela had showed to his followers meant that his imprisonment was only the beginning of his voice among the people. He had become a symbol for thousands of black South Africans and more importantly millions of people globally because of his heroic and determined attitude. Due to his courage and bravery after being released in 1990, he then went on, in 1994, to become the first black president of South Africa.
Throughout history, the world has produced many heroes who have battled not only for themselves but for the people, to gain freedom, peace and equality. ‘If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.’ ~ Mahatma Gandhi Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948) (“the great-souled one”) was a powerful advocate for peaceful coexistence between everyone in the world. He particularly wanted the Indian people to gain independence from Great Britain. Through his philosophical methods such as ‘satyagraha’ (truth force) he developed nonviolent resistance. His teachings were fuelled by his own personal experiences as an Indian immigrant in South Africa. His earliest encounters with discrimination included being asked to take his turban off; when he declined to do so, he was severely beaten for not complying with the rules. Gandhi was a strong Hindu believer, influenced by Jainism, and his teachings were imperative in representing him. Gandhi always maintained and encouraged the mindset that nothing is worth killing for; alongside this, he was eager to show that the ‘right’ power is obtained through trust and kindness, not fear and violence. He empowered his followers by encouraging their independent beliefs and preaching ‘we must become the change we want to see in the world’. The result of this intolerable, constant racism led to the passive resistance campaign in 1907. Throughout this movement, the concentration was maintained on Indian independence from the British Empire, as in their own country Indian civilians were being discriminated against by foreign soldiers and laws. In 1919 the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, otherwise known as the Amritsar Massacre, occurred between non-violent protestors and British Indian troops commanded by British Colonel
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Mahatma Gandhi at a spinning wheel, 1946
Reginald Dyre. The troops were told to indiscriminately shoot at the peaceful crowd, resulting in 380 deaths and 1,100 injuries. This loss did not lead to Gandhi quitting non-violent tactics. Instead, he carried on being leader and in 1947 India finally gained independence. Gandhi’s teachings are now followed by millions of people around the world, inspired by his message: ‘an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’. ‘ I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying’ - Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013) is a clear representation of strength, courage and determination. His heroic battles led him to become the first black president of South Africa. He fought strongly for
Martin Luther King, arrested for peaceful protest, 1958
‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love’ ~ Mother Teresa Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997) is regarded as one of the greatest humanitarians of our time, acknowledged for her sacrifice and imperative role in helping those in severe poverty, particularly in Kolkata, India. She represents the gift to offer love and kindness to everyone within society in terms of their spiritual and physical care.
She abandoned her original plans of working in a school in India to help those in the worst poverty imaginable in the slums of Kolkata. Her charitable work led to the global creation of numerous orphanages, homes and leper houses during the1960s. She is portrayed as one of the greatest heroes because of the sacrifice she made in her life to assist others; however, more importantly, she helped the people who had no hope, no love, no help. Her charitable actions resulted in receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, when she was able to once again display her selfless attitude, donating the $192,000 prize fund to the poor in India. Her belief that love and kindness can solve any problem has shaped much of our society today as she said ‘Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.’. She was a truly heroic and loving lady who managed to carry out more than 517 missions in over 100 countries; a true symbol of strength and peace - hence her newly gained saintly title in 2016. ‘Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend’ ~ Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) was a man gifted with bravery, kindness and the sense to seek equality for everyone. His main concern regarded institutionalized racism and he aimed to abolish segregation within the United States. He could not make sense of the communal segregation all black Americans were enduring – in schools, transport, housing, health care and employment, as well as the right to vote. Throughout King’s movement he noticed little was changing in the South where abusive groups such as the Ku Klux Klan were rife. He began to concentrate his attention in one of the most repressive states, Alabama, leading hundreds of people from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery in a peaceful protest. At first, he and his followers had to turn back due to the brutal tactics of the state troopers trying to prevent them marching. However, through King’s perseverance and that of his followers, the Government eventually backed the march. On March 21, over 2,000 black people and white people marched, protected by U.S. Army troops. As a result, the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, which allowed all black Americans to vote and removed the restrictions that many southern states had placed in their way. Martin Luther King Jr. Is an example to everyone that in the face of evil we must rise up together and let nothing stop us. He also carried an important message in which he said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” These heroes offer inspiration to us all within society to always stand up for what you believe in against the odds. Their hardships and methods have inspired and will carry on inspiring different generations to aim for a peaceful coexistence without violence, hate or poverty. Every one of them faced hate but they are heroic because they did not let that define who they were or their actions. As a result, they have shaped our society today. ‘A hero is Someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself ’ - Joseph Campbell
T R U M P A N D C L I N TO N : T H E L E S S E R O F T W O E V I L S ?
TRUMP & CLINTON THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS? Jamie Bradshaw YE AR 11
MOST AMERICANS VOTED NOT FOR THEIR CANDIDATE BUT AGAINST THE OTHER CANDIDATE.
n the USA 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were recorded as two most disliked candidates in 30 years - Clinton had a 56% disapproval rating to Trumps 63% according to an article from USA Today. This means that the votes that most people made in America were not for their candidate. They were simply voting against the other candidate. In this article, I will attempt to break down why each candidate was disliked so much, and my verdict on which was ultimately the lesser of the two evils in this presidential election. Hillary Clinton is not a woman without her faults. Between being accused as a liar and a cheater, she has been under investigation from the FBI due to allegations about the unauthorised disclosure of confidential emails, and she is the wife of Bill Clinton, meaning that many people believe that she has an unfair advantage, and has gained the necessary fame by simply being his wife. One specific reason that I would like to highlight is that she has been in politics long enough for people to realise that she isn’t foolproof and perfect. The American public has created the unrealistic ideal that a President should be a God-like person with the ability to know all, see all and make no mistakes. In practice no such leaders exist, but it is much easier to take a completely unknown person in the world of politics, such as
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
Trump, and give them this caricature, than it is to do the same to a well-known politician who people have realised doesn’t fit the description above. However, another point I would like to touch on is that of sexism. Clinton is criticized for not having a “warm enough personality” on stage, and for having a “much too aggressive personal style”. Of course, Trump isn’t criticized for these things for the simple reason that he is MALE. Clinton is, however, rightly accused of being a liar, someone who misleads, and a person who hides the truth. In addition, she was the only candidate that actively helped get America into Iraq. With her decision to cast a vote in favour of the use of military force, and her forceful support for it, she actively helped make that happen. With her vote, she was even more involved in getting the Americans into Iraq than Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. Many think her support of the use of military force in Iraq was a key reason she ultimately lost the Democratic nomination in 2008. She is also seen by many on the left as tainted by big-money and Wall St ties. She is also someone who has gone back on herself about a great many things, from the war in Iraq to gay marriage to free trade to money in politics. Donald Trump- a self-claimed billionaire entrepreneur (we
don’t know for sure, as he did not release his tax returns) who took up politics as a hobby last year, and is now the PresidentElect of the United States of America. He is possible the most obnoxious, sexist, insulting and offensive person ever to win a presidential election. His remarks on the campaign trail have alienated women, Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, and fellow Republican politicians. He is a straight up liar who will say anything to gain more popularity. He has been branded as a racist. He has labelled all illegal Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, and his comment that “Hispanics love me” was quickly debunked. A poll in July by Fusion found that 83% of Hispanics do not love the republican President-Elect. Furthermore, his sexism is not even remotely hidden. An example of this is that he made this comment: “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them,” Trump said. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.” He also insulted Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly on live TV after being questioned on his sexism. He acts like a toddler in an adult’s body, self-absorbed and petulant. He’s either the most famous egotistical person or the most egotistical famous person, it’s hard to know which. His
arrogance destructive and he’s the personification of vainglory. His relentless self-promotion knows no bounds. He’s rich yet insecure and wants everyone to bow to his greatness - the type of guy who feels disrespected if everyone around him doesn’t applaud his greatness. He is the kind of person who would be irritated if someone implied he had even slightly less money, power, or success than he tries to project. I want to expand upon that last point. His being insecure about his status in business could be a recipe for disaster. Politicians seem to insult and belittle each other on a daily basis, and some people think that Mr Trump’s finger on the red button could spell the end of the world as we know it. Realistically, however, it is unlikely that nuclear war would occur, but far more likely that he orders the invasion of a country, causing the next Vietnam War. He has an unstable personality and even President Obama says that “This guy is temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief, and he is not equipped to be president.” Overall, I would disagree that America made the right choice for their election. They have chosen a temperamentally unstable racist to be their President, and have made their country a laughing stock in the process.
A M E R I C A’ S F L AW E D F O U N D E R S W H Y T R U M P I S N OT H I N G N E W
The Declaration of Independence, 1776
FLAWED FOUNDERS why Trump is nothing new Rhiannon Jenkins YE AR 13
n the second week of November, America elected the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, as their president. For many this came as a shock. The majority of the polls prior to election day had shown Hillary Clinton as the clear winner, Trump has been labelled as ‘unpresidential’: he was facing a trial for child rape in December, a trial regarding his fraudulent “Trump University”, he has filed for bankruptcy six times, Republican congresspersons have declared that they will not support him, he has made openly derogatory comments towards women, people of colour and disabled people, he has even implied a sexual attraction towards his daughter, he has never held political office - and yet earned 279 electoral college votes and in January will be inaugurated as the
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Considering the supposedly ‘progressive’ culture of the West, his opinions and manner seem archaic; they belong in a time one would hope we passed decades ago. Whether or not Trump will truly make as horrendous a President as some people expect remains to be seen, but is he really as “unpresidential” as the claims imply? America’s Founding Fathers were slaveowners, adulterers and elitist but, they gave America freedom, sit proudly on the nation’s banknotes, are carved sixtyfeet high in stone; America idolises these imperfect men to the point that they seem more like gods than mortals, demonstrating the fact that it really is not so inexplicable that America also voted for Trump to be their President.
Furthermore, the President-Elect is publicly endorsed by Obviously, the state of society in 1776 differed greatly from members of the Ku Klux Klan and there have also been society in 2016, although there are similarities. America in 1776 reports that his family (in particular, his father) had personal had just finished fighting the War of Independence, fighting the involvement in it. Since George Washington and Thomas British for their freedom, and now many Americans believe Jefferson (to name only two) were slaveowners and did not later they are fighting for their freedom from extremists. African become abolitionists - as Benjamin Franklin did, although this Americans were enslaved and the slave trade was rife and now is not an excuse - again, it is easier to see the ease with which people of colour still face strong discrimination and oppression, people have accepted and supported Trump’s racist comments actualised in US police killing over 100 unarmed black people and threats against those who do not share his skin colour in 2015 alone. It was felt in 1776 that women belonged at home, (white, not orange) when the revered Founding Fathers who educating the next generation and supporting their husband, but sought for freedom, also only sought freedom and happiness for not by breadwinning; over 200 years later, America has still not people who looked the same as them. voted a female into the White House. It is these Overall, it would be difficult to class the similarities in society’s attitude which markedly Founding Fathers as completely evil men reduce the surprise of Trump’s election. AMERICAN when they did so much for their country, but Especially when you take into account the SOCIETY HAS it is also impossible to ignore the massive flaws ‘heroes’ who America herald. The seven men ALLOWED and imperfections which are often forgotten. most commonly cited as Founding Fathers BEHAVIOUR However, it is their redeeming qualities and are: George Washington, the first President; ACCEPTABLE TWO what they did for their country which make, Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the CENTURIES AGO TO and allow, people to forget. Donald Trump Treasury; John Adams, first Chief Justice; PERPETUATE ITSELF. does not have that advantage. Arguably his Thomas Jefferson, third President and principal only achievement thus far is tricking himself author of the Declaration of Independence; into believing he has any chance of actually ‘making America James Madison, fourth President; John Adams, first Vice great again’ when his entire being presents the fact that America President and second President; and, Benjamin Franklin, has not progressed in 200 hundred years, from having middlecampaigner for colonial unity (and a distinguished inventor). aged, white men who come from the wealthiest 1%, cheat on These men fathered eight illegitimate children and four had their wives and abuse those who are different, in charge. at least one mistress. James Madison married a woman half his The lack of progression therefore shows how Donald Trump age, George Washington’s first mistress was a slave aged 15 and has become President-Elect; his roots lie with the Founding Alexander Hamilton’s mistress was almost a decade younger Fathers and their imperfections. He mirrors what America than him. As the old adage goes, history often repeats itself represented in 1776, and he is not entirely to blame. It is the Trump has faced accusations of raping a thirteen year old girl society around him which has allowed behaviour acceptable two (although two weeks ago, his accuser withdrew her lawsuit - for centuries ago to perpetuate itself now and still win an election. reasons unexplained); not only did his second marriage start as It is the idolisation of men who were more than imperfect and an affair but the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year has made whose actions should be discredited today, but aren’t. Donald claims that she and Trump had a long-term relationship during Trump is what remains of the Founding Father’s hatred and his current marriage to his third wife. Not only has Trump inhumane actions, and therefore his election should not be disrespected his wives, as the Founding Fathers who were greeted with shock, but with shame. adulterers did, he has also disrespected women (giving only one example) through his recorded comments about sexual advances in 2005, which he dismissed as ‘locker room talk’.
H E RO E S O F T H E R E P U B L I C THE REAL FRENCH REVOLUTION
HEROES of THE REPUBLIC the real French Revolution Ellen Latham YE AR 13
veryone knows the story, everyone know the songs - but do they know the history? It is a common misconception that Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is based on the French Revolution. The truth is that the main events of the book, most iconically the scene with the barricade, occur nearly fifty years after the French Revolution. Not knowing much about French history I was intrigued as to what events the musical and movie were in fact based on. I wanted to explore the work of Victor Hugo, as this musical is one of my favourites and also learn more about such an iconic period of French history. Before we can explore the events and journey of protagonist Jean Valjean, it is, however, important to travel back in time further to the French Revolution to investigate what caused it and how important was its outcome. The French Revolution is argued by many historians to be one of the most important events in human history. Some argue that its events altered the course of modern history, triggering the decline of church power and autocratic government, leading to democracies and republics appearing.in their place. The idea of a republic in France was apparent in literature decades before the events of the French Revolution. De l’Esprit des Lois (The Spirit of Laws) was published in 1748, written by Charles de Secondat, better known as Baron de Montesquieu. After twenty years of research and writing, his work covered many aspects of French life, such as law, society and anthropology. Some of the ideas that Montesquieu, among other writers and philosophers, argued for were the creation of a constitutional system of government and separation of powers. Some of the more progressive ideas that he argued for were the abolition of slavery, the preservation of civil liberties, and the belief that political institutions should reflect the social and geographical aspects of a community. Montesquieu, and later Machiavelli among other philosophers, used classic examples of republics to support their views, such as Athens, Sparta and the Roman Republic. This publication tells us that even before the French Revolution there was social discontent
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
and the whispering of change. It also shows us that the idea of having a version of France without a monarchy was not a new idea, but instead something that many had been contemplating and debating for many years. We avid Les Mis watchers also know that this was not the end of these radical types of ideas, as throughout the musical or film, we can see the social discontent with the state in which many lived and the hostility that many held towards the nobility and the monarchy. The French Revolution took place over the course of ten years, from 1789 until 1799. Throughout this period there was extreme political and social upheaval, including the Reign Of Terror, the Revolutionary Wars, The rise of Napoleon, and the Napoleonic Wars. Essentially, the outcome of the French Revolution was the creation of a secular and democratic republic. However, with
internal popular agitation, the Revolution was radicalised, leading to the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins. France also suffered from political change during the Reign of Terror 17931794, wherein the Committee of Public Safety during revolutionary tribunals executed by guillotine between 16,000 and 40,000 people. The Directory then assumed control in 1795, making way for the rise of Napoleon. As well as creating a republic, though debatably an authoritarian government until 1814 and the fall of Napoleon, the revolution did succeed in abolishing the French monarchy (at least until 1814 when a Bourbon monarchy was reinstated.) Incredibly controversial then and still today, was the execution of the French king, Louis XVI and the queen Marie Antoinette in 1793. The king was executed at the heart of the Revolution, literally, as he was executed in la Place de la Révolution by the French National Convention. Marie Antoinette was especially hated by the French population,
as being Austrian it was suspected that she was a spy. Rumours and murmurs of adultery and promiscuity were also spread about the queen and one event in particular, The Affair of the Diamond Necklace in 1781, destroyed the already tarnished reputation of the queen. Although historians debate whether or not Marie Antoinette was involved the actions of defrauding the crown jewellers of the cost of a diamond necklace, whether she was or wasn’t involved, the event was historically significant and viewed as one of the events that led to the population’s disillusion with the monarchy. Two other events that helped shape the French Revolution were the Seven Years War and the American Revolutionary War, each of which left the French government in debt, forcing unpopular taxes on the people. These taxes as well as years of bad harvests inflamed resentment towards the aristocracy and the clergy,
who lived lives of luxury in comparison to the majority of the population. We see similar sentiments to these in Les Mis, as the gap between the poor and the rich widened, shown through characters such as Fontine, who falls into prostitution after losing her job in a factory, and Jean Valjean, who rises from poverty, over a decade of imprisonment and hard labour to become the mayor of a town. The differences in the characters’ appearances and attitude towards life completely change as their social standing does. Having these changes occur within the same character allows us to see more clearly the contrast between different social classes and the hardships that those at the bottom had to face in order to survive. From these conditions you can tell easily why the people of Paris would want Revolution and change. We now jump forward nearly to the iconic scene of the barricades featured towards the end of Les Misérables , based on the events of the June Rebellion of 1832. The June Rebellion or The Paris Uprising of 1832 was an anti-monarchist insurrection of Parisian republicans in protest at the July Revolution, or July monarchy of 1830. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, a monarch was reinstated from the Bourbon royal family, King Charles X. This held until the July Revolution in 1830, where the Bourbon line was replaced with the July Monarchy, seeing the overthrowing of Charles X and the ascent of Louis-Phillipe of the House of Orléans. This resulted in a constitutional monarchy rather than an absolutist ‘ancien régime’, but it remained unpopular and in 1848 the monarchy was overthrown for the third and final time. Of course, there were other reasons for the June Rebellion of 1832. From 1827 until 1832, France suffered from harvest failures, food shortages and increased costs of living, resulting in discontent especially within the lower or poorer classes. As well as extreme poverty, the death of reformer and popular hero of the Napoleonic Wars, Jean Maximilien Lamarque, meant that the people of Paris felt they had a great opportunity at his funeral to show opposition and their discontent. Victor Hugo himself described Lamarque as ‘loved by the people because he accepted the chances the future offered, loved by the mob because he served the emperor well.’ Lamarque’s death and funeral both feature in Les Misérables, with his funeral creating the iconic stage for ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ Gathered, in reality there is a much lower chance of a mob of people singing in unison and waving giant red flags, but I think we can allow some artistic license. Although compared to reality the events in Les Mis have been dramatised for entertainment purposes, the story sticks close to the truth, even down to the barricade and short lived fight, which Hugo experienced first-hand when he managed to get himself caught in the cross fire. Indeed we all know how the June Rebellion ended. When the rest of Paris did not rise up to support the cause, the small rebellion was crushed very quickly by the authorities. But what does come across clearly and what sticks with you after, is how much these people, these ‘rebels’ were willing to sacrifice for what they believed. They fought and died to end suffering, to end poverty. They died for freedom, for equality, for fraternity. And what truly is incredible, is that they didn’t just do it once, or even twice, or even just in Paris. It may have taken three attempts to completely rid France of a monarchy and create a republic, it may have taken nearly seventy years, but the people, the repressed voice of the masses, did it. They were their own heroes.
I DON'T NEED A BILLIONAIRE TO T E L L M E T H AT C O R BY N I S A LO S E R
I DON’T NEED A BILLIONAIRE TO TELL ME THAT
CORBYN IS A
LOSER Georgia McKirgan YE AR 12
n a recent article, commentator Robert Owens challenged readers that if they thought Jeremy Corbyn was a loser, they had probably been brainwashed. Basically, the point of the article was that Jeremy is a dedicated MP who works very hard for social justice but since he threatens the privileges of billionaire newspaper owners, those newspaper barons have drenched the public in negative propaganda. Without this propaganda, Robert claims, we would have a much more favourable view of Jeremy and more of us would be joining his happy band of cheering, rally-attending acolytes, many of whom, sadly, are my idealistic peers. This is wrong on several levels. Jeremy is a ‘loser’ (to use Robert’s phrase) because of his personal qualities and the politics he represents. If Robert wants to shelter behind the fiction that if only the press were nicer to him, everything would be OK, he is sadly deluded. Let’s get the personal qualities out of the way first. Jeremy has never led anything in his adult life and has been a oneman protest group for all of his time in Parliament. Speaking at a Cuba Solidarity rally or railing against the Great Satan (America) on Press TV is easy, but running something like a national party, let alone a country, requires a completely different skill set...one that he clearly lacks. Many of the MPs who voted against him in the no confidence vote were well-disposed towards him but were shocked by his sheer incompetence when it came to the job of being a leader. Even avowed anti-Blairite Lisa Nandy voted against him.... Lisa Nandy! Just because you want him to be competent, doesn’t make him so. Apart from the fact that he’s a rubbish leader, the politics he
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
represents is the bigger problem. He recently won the Labour leadership election with an overwhelming majority so when I talk about the politics he represents, this kind of politics clearly now represents the heart and soul of the Labour Party. How the majority of MPs react to this reality is for another day but let’s look at this new political consensus in the Labour Party. The leadership election (like the last one) was pitched as a choice between ‘principle’ and ‘competence’ and as most members didn’t think the ‘competent’ choice was going to lead them to victory, they took comfort in going for ‘principle’. Many members talked about how making this ‘principle’ choice made them feel good. This is a clue to the root of the problem. There is a role for protest in a democracy. People who rally around an issue and try to influence change can play a valuable role but protesters can never bring about fundamental change in a society. You need to be in government to do this. The other problem is that protesting is much easier than running something. It’s a bit like in business. Everyone in the business can have a view about how things are run. Pointing out problems and being a critic is very easy but the critics are never taking responsibility or putting themselves in the firing line. The critic can feel virtuous and righteous but ultimately, this is a self-indulgent existence. It makes you feel good but achieves little. How shallow...how self-indulgent. Now, before my Corbyn-supporting friends jump on the offensive, I’m not saying the solution is a dull, lowest-common denominator, Tory-lite ‘moderate’ platform. I’m in favour of Universal Basic Income, a Wealth Tax and can see a case for
read Jeremy’s 10 point plan and it amounts to ‘austerity is bad taking public monopolies back into public ownership so for and society is too unequal’. Well bravo! How wonderful, how me, this is not a right versus left issue. It’s a difference between blatantly obvious, but what are you going to do about it? doing the hard, difficult work of building a platform to run an Getting back to Robert Owen’s point about the press being advanced economy for the benefit of the many and building unfair to a Labour leader because they feel threatened. In public support for that platform, rather than retreating into the the run up to the last election, I saw a Twitter spat between comfort zone of protest politics. the journalist John Rentoul and someone basically making Let me give you an example. In the Channel 4 Dispatches Robert’s point about Ed Milliband. The ‘Millifan’ thought that documentary on Momentum, one speaker trilled that this Ed Milliband was the best Labour leader of his lifetime and (Corbynism) was the most exciting time in her political life the reason the press were criticising him was because they felt since the Miners’ Strike of 84-85. This is a perfect example of threatened by him. Rentoul responded “best Labour leader of the politics I deplore. My Dad comes from a mining family so your lifetime? Get back to me when he’s won three elections I’m very familiar with the events of 1984-85. The Momentum and we can discuss”. Current members of the party are so bent speaker was talking about how exhilarating it was to be involved out of shape by the Iraq War and the fact that the Financial in protesting against a perceived injustice. I recognise the good Crisis happened on Labour’s watch that Blairism and New versus evil nature of the struggle and I’m sure it was an emotional Labour are bigger bogey figures than the Tories. Even time but, make no mistake, it wasn’t wonderful. It was a disaster accepting those criticisms, I’d happily take all the achievements for the Labour movement generally and mining communities of a 13-year Labour government (NMW, in particular. The town where my grandparents Civil Partnerships, Devolution, Good Friday were born took decades to recover. The attack Agreement, massive increase in spending on on the miners was only possible because the THE SNP ARE the school’s and the NHS) over the empty Tories won the 1983 election. After the strike SHOWING HOW A posturing of a bunch of activists pining for an ended in 1985, we still had 12 more years of PROPER, SERIOUS imagined nirvana. Tory government. Much of the work the Labour PROGRESSIVE PARTY It is clear that a Corbyn-led Labour Party Party had to do after 1997 was rebuilding the CAN GAIN POWER IN is going to crash horribly at the next election physical and social fabric of the country after 18 THE FACE OF A and it won’t all be the newspapers’ fault. years of Tory neglect. The Miners’ Strike was HOSTILE PRESS. While the SNP are showing how a proper, a perfect example of what I’m talking about. A serious progressive party can gain power in protest that made the participants FEEL good the face of a hostile press, Labour could be reduced to around but actually represented a massive defeat for the people they 100 seats. Sadly, Owen’s line will be trotted out to explain were supposed to be helping. the situation. This will be a convenient excuse but it won’t Many people like to portray the election of Corbyn as victory come close to explaining the situation. While the name-calling for principle over the pursuit of principle-less power. and accusations go on, the people paying the price will be the Nonsense. working people of this country. Power should never be an end Apart from what they may have achieved in their constituency in itself but without it, you can do nothing apart from make surgeries, what have Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and a yourself feel good about your ‘purity’ and ‘principle’. Dianne Abbott done that has actually improved people’s lives While a lot of young people see Corbyn as a hero, I see (and I exclude boosting Momentum members’ self-esteem)? I him as a villain. If he was still a one-man backbench protester can’t think of anything. All the things that current members this would be less of a problem but the fact that he has been are marching and demonstrating to preserve (the NHS, put in charge of the political party that is the greatest engine Tax Credits, Disability Allowance) were all put in place by for political and social progress in this country makes it a ELECTED Labour governments. Between 2000 and 2010, disaster. He is steering the ship towards the rocks but maybe spending on the NHS increased by 70% in real terms. Since it is his self-indulgent, comfort zone-seeking enablers that are 2010, it has increased by around 0.9% each year, which is far the bigger villains. below the increase in demand for health services...a cut in real terms. Don’t tell me that New Labour was no better than the Tories. I don’t believe you. I despair at the fact that too many members of the Labour Party are happy to wallow in this selfindulgent state. Feeling good about themselves is preferable to the hard work of building the case for an effective, reforming, progressive government and then putting it in to practice. I’ve
INTERVENTION IN IRAQ: THE HEROIC OPTION?
THE HEROIC OPTION? Katie O’Flaherty
YE AR 11
ith the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq released only four months ago, current fighting over Mosul in Syria, and the numerous questionable movements and intentions of large international powers, such as China in the South China Sea and Russia marching on peaceful sovereign states, questions regarding the legacy of our intervention in Iraq in 2003 remain pervasive and may affect the way similar decisions in the future are conducted. The question of why we entered a sovereign state with military power to oppose their government has been at the forefront of this discussion. Maybe some context will help. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, enabling us to get inside our ivory towers without putting into perspective the stresses the people at the time were under. At the time, the world’s perception of Saddam Hussein was of an obfuscating warmonger who had not only invaded Kuwait and repeatedly obstructed UN inspectors, but had also gassed both his own people and his neighbour Iran’s civilians with chemical weapons. It was under these circumstances that George Bush and Tony Blair had to make their decision. At the time, the troops genuinely believed that they were liberating Iraq from an oppressive dictator and not invading or waging war. Their primary purpose was to defend both the citizens of the region and the rest of the world from Saddam Hussein’s potential use of weapons of mass destruction. Secondly, they planned to indirectly cause the downfall of Hussein, thus liberating his people, and protecting them from the prospect of their families being dragged off and killed by the secret police, from being gassed by their own government. Furthermore, stable regional government would allow them to re-enter the global market, freely trading with the rest of the world and thus mobilising their economy, allowing them to generate wealth and improve their living standards. However, even at this time, many said that the proposed military action would go against the UN Charter (Articles 2(4) and 2(7)), which state that force shall not be used against a state except as authorised by the UN, unless in self-defence, under Article 51. Not only this, but some questioned the accuracy of
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
means to liberate an oppressed people and remove the threat of weapons of mass destruction, with the positive by-product of securing UK energy. The way that Saddam conducted his fighting helped to reaffirm the primary motives for intervention. He used civilians as human shields. He stationed key military command centres directly underneath a civilian hospital. This blatant disregard for not only the lives and welfare of his own citizens, but also the laws of war, which outlaw non-combatant human shields, shows how this was a dictator who did not look out for the best interests of his people, someone from whom the people should be liberated.
A crowd cheers the toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein, Baghdad, 2003
A crowd protests the US occupation, Baghdad 2005
the intelligence behind the claims that Iraq held, and was using, weapons of mass destruction. They further doubted the threat Iraq held to the international community due to the depleted state of its armed forces following the Kuwait war in 1991 and the subsequent sanctions regime. It can be very easy, now, to look back and decide which was right and which was wrong. However, back then both of these were simply different opinions, supported by different facts. Nobody makes a conscious effort to make a bad decision. The main argument by the opposition was that the UN Security Council had not authorised military action, however, with relations with Russia at a general low point, and France’s extensive commercial interests in Iraq, getting authorisation would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible. Many nay-sayers also pointed out that the UK and US had ulterior motives to secure vital energy supplies, and, while it is true that our national interests included energy supply from that region, and is probably true that this, at least in part, influenced decision makers, nations do not usually go to war for wholly altruistic reasons. Thus many viewed the military intervention as a
Captain C. O’Flaherty clearly remembers driving around the Iraqi town of Umm Qsar around six days into the liberation and ‘seeing happy children playing in the roads, British marines without combat helmets walking the streets and shaking hands with locals as they passed, and feeling no tension at all... It really felt like a country that had just had a huge burden lifted off its shoulders’ So far, in the conflict, the benefits to the general population of Iraq had far outweighed any costs. However, in the post-fighting phase, the US did not have a proper plan as to how to run the country after liberation, due to an over-optimistic assumption that the Iraqis would be so overjoyed by the liberation that they would co-operatively assume a normal, law abiding life. Mindful of the role the Iraqi army played in enforcing Saddam Hussein’s regime, the US-appointed administrator made the decision to disband the Iraqi army. This decision went against the advice of his senior military advisors, and undermined the ability of the occupying foreign forces to maintain civil security and the ordinary functioning of Iraq’s daily security and safety apparatus. Hereby, this not only left a power vacuum, but an
environment in which previously oppressed individuals sought personal enrichment. People who had previously been wealthy through corruption now saw their income plummet. With no local forces to rein them in, gangs, cartels and militias formed then grew, quickly beginning to overwhelm the coalition forces. Additionally, the searches for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction failed to find the bulk stores expected, eventually only finding numerous small caches, while, with hindsight, we can see that the intelligence reports from an oppressed, secretive nation were incorrect and exaggerated. Here, we see that the immediate aftermath of the liberation was a happy, free atmosphere of a nation who had been released from the grip of an oppressive dictator. It was the lack of planning for after the liberation which caused the explosion of fighting and lawlessness. The divide between Kurds, Sunnis and Shias has caused many disputes over land, with each wanting their own State. This is a prime example of foreign intervention encountering unforeseen problems due to their lack of understanding of the local divides and tensions. Now, many would say that we have learned from our mistakes. The UN Security Council has become visibly more cautious of intervention in another country’s affairs. However, this has led to a complete lack of response to Russia marching into Georgia (a sovereign state), and Crimea (part of a sovereign state). The international community has become so terrified of another conflict that will result in our troops being killed on foreign soil that now all we can muster are words and diplomacy, which, in the face of a determined opposition, are not able to stop an army. Iraq now represents as much of a threat to the international community as it did before the intervention, with the rise of ISIS in Northern Iraq a large and imminent threat to both governments and civilians. For the future, the question remains: what are morally acceptable reasons for invading another country? Different nations have different answers. Can we intervene if we disagree with their form of government? To what extent does intelligence have to show a potential threat to other nations? What constitutes a threat, and what is simply self-defence? Many would hope that the deterrent of Mutually Assured Destruction would make the world a far safer, more peaceful place. With China making internationally illegal claims and advances into the South China Sea, and Russia both using hackers on an international scale and marching against peaceable nations such as the Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia, the question of where and when to intervene is not a clear-cut choice, with the lives of many hanging in the balance.
W H Y T H E H O N O U R S SYS T E M I S A D I S G R AC E
HONOURS SYSTEM is a disgrace
Oliver Clark YE AR 13
hile deciding on what to write on for a theme of Heroes and Villains, the last few months have given me plenty of topics to choose from. Do I do an in-depth analysis of the heroic (or villainous) actions of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson on their way to leading the UK to a future outside of the EU? Do I look into the lesser-of-two evils conundrum that is the US Presidential election? Do I review the moral dilemmas of a zombie apocalypse, after The Walking Dead’s Season 7 opener that pushed the borderlines of TV violence to new limits (R.I.P Abraham and Glenn)? Eventually, after a few days of trying to recover from the aforementioned ‘mind blowing’ episode, my Dad and I began talking about the recent headline of Sir Philip Green being stripped of his knighthood. One could argue that people who are bestowed with honours should be looked upon as an anterior form of heroes, despite lacking superhuman strength or the ability to fly. However, on the 20th October MPs voted to remove the honour from the shamed retail tycoon, after his poor conduct while owning BHS. Despite the £571 million pensions deficit and £1.3 billion of debt that the firm had by April 2016, Green and his family had obtained £586 million in dividends in the 15 years since he bought the firm in 2000. Green would famously sell the
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
firm for a comedic £1 in 2015, before the levels of monetary extraction that he had made over his ownership period were made public. Green would later ask the chair of the Business and Work and Pensions Select Committee, Frank Field, to resign due to his ‘biased agenda’. This was not the first time that the man, whose net worth stands at £6.2 billion, had caused controversy. He was targeted by the activist group UK Uncut for corporate tax avoidance. He has been accused of enforcing poor worker protections, and even verbally berated former Financial Editor of The Guardian, Paul Murphy, as early as 2003. My question to you is this: how was this man given a knighthood in the first place? It is clear through these scandals, that, in spite of his charitable work, he is a man of poor character. Therefore, how could Tony Blair justify recommending this man for an honour of this prestige? According to the official government website, an honours system is in place to recognise people who have: (1) made achievements in public life and (2) committed themselves to serving and helping Britain. Pretty heroic actions, yes? It is even said that they will ‘usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do’. Well, unless fiddling taxes into various offshore accounts is a skill deemed
‘outstanding’ or a series of verbal tirades when accused of such heard of him before the beginning of this year and I certainly doubt a crime in 2003 is deemed to make people’s lives better, I am that many readers will even have heard of him before reading this still struggling to answer this question. So I thought that in order article. Looking back to the New Year Honours list of 2014, much to find some enlightenment, I may as well have a look at the controversy was caused when honours were awarded to Fiona honours recommendations made by David Cameron after his Woolf, who stepped down as chair of the independent child abuse resignation following Britain’s choice to leave the EU. inquiry because of her links to Leon Brittan, and two foreign policy Will Straw. advisors who had helped guide Tony Blair into the Iraq War. I blink and look again. This cannot go on. As stated previously, the honours system Will Straw. should be used to recognise people who have made a genuinely Surely not... positive influence on the lives of people. Although Will Straw. The very same Will Straw who was the I am certain a number of people with honours executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe, do not have the track record of Mr Green (as we THE HONOURS must now call him), I feel as though the system the cross party organisation that unsuccessfully SYSTEM HAS BEEN has been completely devalued throughout its campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU. COMPLETELY ‘Made achievements in public life... made life history and must be reformed. It could be argued DEVALUED. better for people... Will Straw’. that a figure such as Nigel Farage has made a very Now I am sure Mr Straw is in fact a charming positive impact on the lives of many throughout fellow who, despite his close-minded, belittling and his political career. I would certainly argue that he fear-based campaigning, is not a bad person at heart. Certainly has had a larger beneficial effect on the lives of people than Will not on the same level as a man who runs a company into the ‘and that’s the final’ Straw. ground while profiting to the sound of £500 million. However, I once again must ask the question: how on earth can this person be deemed worthy of something that should be reserved for someone who has had genuine influence on public life? I certainly had not
THE PITFALLS OF NATIONALISM
THE PITFALLS of
NATIONALISM Katie Sharp
YE AR 12
sking whether nationalists are the heroes or villains of the people is a loaded question, one that is impossible to answer without generalising, but it is possible to question the morality of nationalism as a concept. Nationalism can mean completely different things to different people, which hinders the ability to make a clear judgement of whether it means harmlessly admiring your homeland, or something far stronger, such as believing that your nationality is superior to any other. At one end of the spectrum, nationality may be a synonym for patriotism- the feelings of loyalty and support for your country, and above all, having pride in your heritage and the work that your ancestors did for the country. This take on nationalism is likely to be viewed as the more heroic version, particularly considering that this type of nationalism inspires people to help and donate to war veterans, who gave the greatest sacrifice that a person could offer for their country. It can also be associated with countries and territories fighting for independence; for example the Scottish Nationalist Party is representing Scotland in its bid to leave the United Kingdom. This view of nationalism tends to be seen as a heroic action by its citizens, particularly if the country or territory is under the control of an oppressive leader, or if they have no control over how they are governed. For example, the Taiwan Independence Movement and the Hong Kong Independence Movement both feel like they should be given the right to selfdetermination from China. However, some independence movements
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
could also be seen as more villainous, such as the Irish Republican Army (particularly the Provisional IRA), who participated in the Troubles against the British to make Northern Ireland leave the United Kingdom, and perpetrated a multitude of terrorist attacks across Britain and Northern Ireland, causing them to be seen as evil by the British and the Unionists in Northern Ireland. As the Troubles were almost entirely about nationalism and the constitutional status of NI, it could be said that nationalism is a villainous trait as it causes wars and death in a climate of intolerance. It also raises the question (to paraphrase John Lennon): if there was no nationalism in the world (even the mildest form of patriotism), would there be any need to start wars, if people couldn’t fight over their national identities? As UKIP is also an independence and nationalist party, it is seen as both a good and a bad concept by different people. While some British people argue that the European Union is an oppressive regime that Britain needed to declare independence, and therefore dub the 23rd June as Britain’s “Independence Day”, others call UKIP a fascist and racist party, who use the EU (and immigration) as a scapegoat for problems that have their root in the UK. While it certainly could be said that some of the UKIP members harbour racist views, the party ideology proclaims that UKIP (while disputed by many) is promoting a British unionist and civic nationalist (non-racial nationalism) agenda, so it sits roughly in the middle of the heroic-villainous spectrum. Next, there are the notoriously nationalist and far-right parties in Britain: The British National Party and Britain First, with the slogans “Make Britain Great Again” and
“Taking Our Country Back”, respectively. This nationalism could be described as an extreme form of patriotism- taking the feeling of pride for your national identity and turning it into feelings of outright superiority over others. This version of nationalism falls a lot closer to the villainous end of the scale, as they are being ethnic nationalists (nationalism based on race) and believe that non-white migration to the UK should be prohibited, aligning themselves with neo-Nazis. Currently, the party’s main focus is on Islam, and they stir up strong Islamophobia, a manifesto
similar to Britain First, which carries out “Christian Patrols” and “invasions” of British mosques. Most people tend to view these two parties as too extreme, and, while some members of UKIP are perceived to err on the side of racism, it is widely agreed by a range of observes (including every denomination of Christianity in the UK) that the BNP and Britain First are racist and fascist parties. So, I’d like to propose a question to Britain First: who exactly are you taking the country back from? This party gives no firm answer apart from repeating the same, vague answer of ‘anyone who isn’t white, British and Christian’, so let’s pretend for a minute that this doesn’t sound familiar to the ideologies of a certain political party in the 20th century, who used members of the Jewish faith as a scapegoat for all of
their problems. Now, the BNP has a slogan that, while it gains credit for the play on words, glorifies false ideals. Was Britain ever truly as great as they say it was? It could be said that Britain is currently at the greatest it has ever been, and will continue to improve as the nation comes closer and closer to equality for everyone. The members and supporters of the BNP tend to refer to the British Empire as Britain’s greatest moment; however, this was built in large part on slavery and exploitation of other races. Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world, with an extensive history of inserting itself as an imperial power in already-inhabited territory; this has caused much resentment globally, shown by the fact that there are 66 countries that every year celebrate their independence from the British. A note to UKIP, who declared Brexit the day of independence from the EU: it’s hypocritical to say that the British people got independence from a union that Britain helped to create, and voluntarily joined, when so many countries were invaded by Britain against their will. The BNP also tend to refer to Churchill as a war hero and their idea of the greatest leader that Britain could have; however, they may have been influenced by the fact that Churchill was a white supremacist, as shown by this direct quote from an address to Palestine’s Royal commission: “ I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the red Indians of America or the black people of Australia by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, has come in and taken its place.” If more people knew this about him, he might not be perceived as such a hero by so many. Thus, for the most part, nationalism inspires racism. There’s no better example for this than the most famous fascists, the Nazi party, who believed that the Aryan race was better than any other, and consequently dubbed them the master race. The Nazis used the pretence of nationalism to murder 11 million people who were thought to be inferior. It could be said that feelings of superiority over others is a human instinct, causing nationalism to be seen as a typically villainous trait. Rather topically recently, Donald Trump’s entire presidential campaign relies on playing on the national pride that is rife in the USA. Trump frequently used Mexicans and Muslims as scapegoats for the problems that the US is facing currently; much like the Nazi party did with regard to Jews and other minorities, combined with the fact that his slogan is “Make America Great Again” (mirroring the BNP’s “Make Britain Great Again”). Now, to finish, I’ll ask one final question:- was America ever great?
THE CURSE OF CONSUMERISM
THE CURSE OF
CONSUMERISM Michaela Clancy
Black Friday: American shoppers come to blows
YE AR 13
he title of this article may seem to be extreme and a bit over dramatic - and I’m in total agreement. However, the aim was to catch your attention and I hope it has, because this is going to unveil a usually invisible but fundamental part of our society that has begun to spiral beyond all belief. Consumerism is what the British and world economy thrives upon; without it many companies would lose business and our high streets would certainly be less exciting. But how do we know when our demand for produce has gone too far? For me, I do not think this question is relevant, because we have already crossed the consumerism boundary. With Christmas fast approaching, the season of joy and giving will soon be upon us but has the emphasis on giving become exaggerated? In December 2015, The Telegraph noted that ‘the average family is expected to spend more than £800 celebrating Christmas’. This figure involves food, presents and all other decorations but I still find this figure difficult to digest (pardon the pun). I believe the modern family has begun to presume that money can buy happiness or perhaps that money can at least improve our life experiences.
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
For millennia, signs of wealth have been what determine social hierarchy and this belief is still featuring in today’s society. To own the latest item of technology or clothing has become an obsession or addiction. People conjure elaborate excuses as to why the previous item was no longer suitable for their needs. As for phones this may be that the camera had a bad resolution or that the back was too scratched and these are enough for a person to spend another £600 on a new iPhone. I understand that this is what some people like to spend their money on and this article is no criticism of that; what is being said is that people are beginning to cast away perfectly functioning items without a second thought when there are people in other countries who are living in the past decade. During the summer holiday I had the absolute privilege of going on the school trip to Madagascar for three weeks where I learnt so much from my experiences and from the people who I met. However, one change that I did not expect was in the alteration in my approach to the western world when I returned home. The word ‘disgusted’ is too strong but I was certainly shocked at the amount that we own in our culture when a bricklike Nokia phone was the pinnacle of technology in Madagascar. There was many a time when we were wandering through the
villages with our clean clothes, new rucksacks and sturdy boots and eating, strips my life back to basic enjoyment which can be when some of the people didn’t even own a pair of shoes (some too easily forgotten. In my research I decided to look up how chose not to wear them for comfort and practicality) and at times much the average birthday costs, thinking it may be in line with I felt almost embarrassed to be observing their lives. However, around £200 but to my utter horror the figure was reported to I shouldn’t have been, because these people are perhaps some be around $450 and that’s before the $250 worth of presents is added to the costs. I could not believe this of the happiest and proudest that I have ever figure, especially when I consider that some of met. The children were in awe of their own the best toys that I have played with were the pictures and marvelled at my braces (which I THE AVERAGE cardboard box that the actual gift came in (I’m never saw as odd until I considered that to them BRITISH FAMILY IS sure that many can relate). I was wearing a stripe of metal on my teeth). All EXPECTED TO SPEND This Christmas I am going to make an effort of a sudden, everything seemed rather trivial. MORE THAN £800 to reduce my consumerist qualities and ask for These people were constantly smiling and how CELEBRATING presents that I really need, such as stationery. I many people do you see smiling in the high CHRISTMAS. have been doing this for a number of years but streets? These people are living on minimal my trip to Madagascar really emphasised how supplies with no fancy meal plans or wardrobes lucky we are in the Western world. I do not full of clothes; even a phone which we consider wish to preach about how people live their lives but I do think practically ancient looked impressive to them. With my 18th birthday rapidly approaching, when I returned that it would be beneficial to all if we considered whether we I realised that I did not need an elaborate set up or hundreds really need to buy something or whether it is just another thing of pounds spent on presents. I chose to have a modest movie that will be stored away and forgotten about. Happiness can and pizza evening with a handful of friends which is my idea of never be forgotten - and for me this is priceless. heaven. To spend an evening with friends I hold dear, laughing
DEMONISING MENTAL ILLNESS
DEMONISING Mental Illness Gabriella Watson YE AR 12
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
studies conducted by the Mental Health Commission three uring the past 25 years, rates of depression and out of four people with a mental illness report that they have anxiety have soared amongst young people by a experienced stigma. Considering this, the Department of Health shocking 70%. Nowadays, teenagers are far more funded a programme called Shift, which aimed to reduce the susceptible to acquiring a mental illness, with the discrimination that those with mental ill health face. The number of children and young people turning institution discovered that “many people with mental health up in A&E with a psychiatric condition doubling since 2009. problems say that the biggest barrier to getting back on their feet Mental health disorders are not only dominating the lives of is not the symptoms of illness, but the attitudes of other people”. many teenagers. Studies show that 1 in 4 people, in the UK, will Since the beginning of the programme it has become recognised be diagnosed with a mental illness. Sadly for sufferers of this as a valuable tool for line managers across private, statutory cruel disorder, discrimination at work, suicidal thoughts and and community sectors. The resource offers a framework stigma are commonplace. The unjust nature of this issue means that people feel ashamed to speak out about their condition. for creating a healthier environment in the workplace for an employee experiencing mental ill health. How has our society managed to produce a generation in which However, for those who are struggling to receive help and mental-health disorders are so prevalent? are seriously affected by a mental illness, many feel suicide is In the workplace, mental health disorders are now the leading the only way out. Every year, more than 6,000 suicides are cause of sickness absence in the UK, with more than 15 million registered in the UK. This figure means every two hours there absence days attributed to stress, anxiety and depression. For is one death by suicide. People with a diagnosed mental health many mental illness sufferers, prejudice and discrimination at condition are shown to be at a higher risk of work are commonplace. Research by the Mental attempting suicide with more than 90% of Health Foundation found that nine out of ten suicides and suicide attempts having been found people with mental health problems say they EVEN TODAY, to be associated with a psychiatric disorder. have experienced discrimination. In a recent MENTAL DISORDERS, The highest rates of suicide were associated case study, chronic sufferer of bipolar disorder, UNLIKE PHYSICAL with depressive disorders. What is surprising is Denise Martin, believes that the problem is ILLNESSES, ARE the extent to which mental illness pervades the so severe that many people are hiding their LARGELY life of the rich and famous. In 2015 model and illnesses because they fear it means they will STIGMATISED. actress ,Cara Delevingne, spoke out about her not work at all. She fears her openness could isolation at the Women in the World Summit be working against her with regard to getting after dealing with depression for years, which at times made a job. Lately, her application for a job offer was withdrawn on her feel suicidal. Feeling like she was the only one suffering the grounds of ill health. Shockingly, a recent survey by the from a mental illness, Cara said, made it worse. Recently, in an Mental Health Foundation showed that 56% of adults in the interview with fashion magazine, Esquire UK, she publicised UK would not employ somebody with depression even if they her thoughts in a brave new profile saying that “I couldn’t deal thought they were the right person for the job. with it any more. I realised how lucky and privileged I was, However, some companies are working hard to reduce the but all I wanted to do was die. I felt so guilty because of that stigma of mental health sufferers. For example, Ernst and Young, and hated myself, and then it’s a cycle. I didn’t want to exist an accountancy firm, runs a campaign encouraging employees anymore. I wanted to die.” to speak about mental health, as well as training their staff to In recent years attempts to raise awareness over mental health become mental health first aiders. While Denise welcomes this, issues have increased - not least with the appointment of Kate she believes that there is much more work to be done to raise Middleton as Royal Patron of Place2Be, a charity for mental awareness for mental health disorders as she states; “It needs to health and the emotional wellbeing of children in the UK. Yet change. People need to talk. The more people that talk, the more much more needs to be done. Compared with the fund raising people that have awareness; it’s going to reduce the stigma.” exercises and poster campaigns of Cancer Research UK, mental Even to this day mental disorders, unlike physical illnesses, health projects are still way down the pecking order. While are largely stigmatised. This trait of irrational and unpredictable the problem can be with the unwillingness of the sufferers behaviour can often be exaggerated by the media. The notion themselves to speak out about their respective problems, it is that mental illness is not a ‘true’ illness like an obvious, physical up to society to be more attuned to those problems. The onus disease such as cancer further discourages sufferers from remains on friends and family to be aware of problems and to opening up about their condition, instead keeping it a secret. get the sufferer to talk about the struggles which they face. This The stigmatisation of mental illness prevents people from could take months. This could take years. Treatment can be seeking treatment, which can in turn expose them to an even expensive but as a society whereby it looks as though mental greater risk: suicide. It also has a huge impact on self-esteem health issues are here to stay, we have a duty to start tackling and confidence which can lead to the sufferer experiencing these problems head on. an increased feeling of isolation from society and reinforce feelings of exclusion and social withdrawal. According to
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT ?
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: an existential threat?
IF I HAD TO GUESS AT WHAT OUR BIGGEST EXISTENTIAL THREAT IS, IT'S PROBABLY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
Oliver Gent YE AR 13
rtificial intelligence (A.I.) will be an essential part of the upcoming decade and beyond, determining the way in which we interact with each other and the world around us. Before long our generation could be interacting with intelligent machines on a day to day basis. Would this be a good idea? An ideal A.I machine can adapt to its environment and take in information in order to complete any task independently in the best way that it can using the resources available. It is highly likely that machines will equal and then surpass the intelligence of human being and therefore paramount that we ensure we are in control of the direction of development of this technology, considering the various possible impacts on society. If machines do reach a certain amount of independent learning in our lifetimes, then there is endless potential for what could happen. It should ease our lives by scrapping mundane tasks that restrict what we want to do. At the same time I think it will upset the jobs market and social structure of our society. This is unavoidable. However we can ensure that social change will benefit everyone and not let the technology slip from our control. The field of A.I research and development was founded in 1956; however not much progress was made until the 1980s. By 1985 there was a one billion pound market for A.I. In 1997 the “deep blue” A.I program became the first chess-playing system
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
to beat a reigning chess world champion, Garry Kasparov. In March this year the system “AlphaGo” won a set of Go (an ancient Chinese game, more complicated than chess with more possibilities than the total number of atoms in the visible universe) with a Go champion Lee Sedol. These achievements demonstrate the increasing ability for machines to beat human opponents, even if it is in specific tasks. Artificial Intelligence will affect millions of jobs worldwide as it will be more effective and cheaper than having humans in certain jobs. Non-creative jobs will be able to be completed just as well or even better than those completed by humans. Jobs which require predictions based on numbers such as aspects of banking could be taken by A.I due to its ability to analyse previous trends and therefore predict future ones. Jobs done by cleaners and factory workers are also at high risk.
In some cases A.I replacing jobs or chores does have potential benefits; it will make our lives easier and tasks like house cleaning and washing could be helped or completed by robots. This allows us to focus on what we want to do rather than what we need to do. However the upset to the job market will be negative and put many people out of work. It will also be more advantageous to wealthier families and further disadvantageous to less wealthy families so we need to ensure that we push the balance the other way. The book series ‘The Atlantis Gene’ by A.G.Riddle at one point tells us about a civilisation which had become genetically separate, 20% workers and 80% academics, created effectively by A.I and the improvement of machines. This is a pretty bleak future for us, however it demonstrates the potential pitfalls if the technology isn’t evolved in the right manner.
Already the technology is accessible to the general public and is being used daily by everyone. Google and other such major corporations use A.I to analyse the enormous amounts of data we send to them every day, knowingly or unknowingly. Also the app Google Allo which was released recently has A.I at its centre, where you can ask a digital assistant for help and information more unique to you. Tesla also has autopilot capabilities through A.I. This has had a lot of criticism in the press, an example of where A.I is making our lives more complex and possibly dangerous. However the driver should realise their full responsibility for the car. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has spoken out against AI. He has recently said to students from MIT “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful”. He thinks that there should be a regulatory oversight on a national or even international scale. This technology already affects our lives and has the potential to provide a lot of positive input into our day to day existence. We need to set rules and regulations within the next few years to ensure that we direct it in the right direction, towards the people and not towards the vast companies who are already trying to exploit it. The technology will have the potential to be “humanlike” at some point, whether this is in the next few decades or in the next century. Would it be right to make a machine “human-like”? And to what extent will A.I pose a safety threat to humanity? In summary we need to make sure we lay the rules now to ensure the world’s problems don’t get more complex.
SUPERCONDUCTORS: THE NEW SUPERHEROES
SUPERCONDUCTORS: T HE N E W S U PER H ERO ES Florence Willcocks
YE AR 13
hen it comes to the sustainable future of our planet, doubtless to say that (to quote Bonnie Tyler) we really do “need a hero”. The energy crisis looms over every single one of us like a scheming supervillain, and although this “villain” isn’t planning a sudden, unforeseeable attack in the traditional comic-book style, this long process of self-destruction, disability and panic as our fossil fuel reserves deplete and our environment disintegrates is perhaps a far worse kind of attack on mankind. We need a solution quickly. With 80% of the world’s energy currently being produced by burning non-renewable supplies of fossil fuels, it is predicted that by 2088 all of our coal, oil and gas will have run out entirely. Now that our society is so dependent on electricity, heating and engine fuel, we must find a sustainable alternative energy source before there is no other choice. And of course that’s not the only issue; the increasing concentration of CO2 levels in the atmosphere (caused primarily by burning fossil fuels) contributes to the greenhouse effect and climate change. The devastating effects of these are becoming increasingly evident across the globe, such as extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels and disruption of crop growing seasons. If we do not reduce our CO2 emissions by finding an alternative energy source, there will be unpredictable (but undoubtedly disastrous) consequences for our earth. So who will this hero be? Bonnie Tyler’s claim is more relevant than you might think. He has indeed “gotta be strong”; not physically, but intellectually. This problem is a tough one and whoever comes up with a reliable and successful solution will have to contrive something new and revolutionary. Every current solution (solar, wind, tidal etc) is viable to a limit, but, as far as current technology can go, none of these options have permanently solved the problem. Tyler claims, too, that “he’s gotta be fast” which is an absolute must. The exponential growth of the problem is terrifying, and predictions for the foreseeable future are at present foreshadowing disastrous consequences. If this hero isn’t pretty speedy, these will be evident within most of our own lifetimes.
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
THERE IS NO END TO THE POSSIBILITIES ONCE SUPERCONDUCTORS HIT THE WORLD OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY.
With oil consumption at current rate, it is predicted to run out in as little as 30/40 years’ time. When most of the present PGS pupils will be at retirement age, the sea levels will have risen by almost 20 cm, and all fossil fuels will be gone before the turn of the century. So, unfortunately for Bonnie Tyler, in this case we simply can’t “hold out until the end of the night”. We would be “holding out” in a hot, dark, polluted planet, incapable of sustaining life and lacking all the modern civilisation which we have spent the last 6,000 years building. On top of these features, this hero must be undoubtedly capable. He’s got to actually fight this villain, defeat him, and win the girl at the end, otherwise our comic book story becomes a tragedy. In the context of the renewable energy issue, “saving the girl” in this case means saving our planet, and our metaphor of the classic comic book tale could run perfectly for the success story of our sustainable future, should this hero come along. However, this hero’s methods will have to be a little more realistic than those often used in comics. Superman has always had the ability to fly to his advantage when fighting crime, Spiderman’s webs have always been handy at stopping the baddies, and even supposedly “powerless” Batman would have struggled to stop the Joker without an unrealistically advanced assortment of technology, a team of dedicated alliances, and an unlimited supply of private disposable income! Unfortunately, in real life there are no super powers. But perhaps there could be… There may not yet be superpowers, but there might one day be superconductors. It is the possession of this single “power” which will end our comic strip with the hero saving the day- and this is why. Superconductivity is the phenomenon of zero resistance. Once we can reliably and financially-efficiently produce a material with this property, I believe our super-villain can be finally defeated. The future of our energy supply once we have superconductors is undoubtedly nuclear fusion (a method of generating power with zero pollution from an almost unlimited source: hydrogen). In a fusion reactor, superconductors can be used to generate the magnetic fields that confine the 100 million degree C plasma. While increasing magnetic field strength offers potential ways to improve reactor performance, conventional low-temperature superconductors suffer dramatic drops in current-carrying ability at high magnetic fields. Now,
the emergence of high-temperature superconductors that can also operate at high magnetic fields opens a new, lower-cost path to fusion energy. That’s not where superconductors will stop, though. With superconductive power cables, we can transfer power wherever we want. The issue we have currently is that electrical power cannot just be sent across the world, because the more cable it runs through, the more of the electrical power is lost as heat energy because of the resistance of the material. We theoretically wouldn’t even need the invention of a nuclear fusion reactor to solve our energy crisis once superconductors have been developed. We could solve the issue today if we used solar cells to cover the Sahara Desert (a disused open area of land with a climate unfit for comfortable human residence but ideal for concentrating solar energy); we would have more than 18 times the amount of energy we need to power the world at its current energy consumption rate. So what’s the issue? We just can’t transport it or store it! Superconductive power transmission would revolutionise how we generate and use our energy by opening up countless possible solutions to the once seemingly unsolvable problem! And as far as other aspects of our lives go, superconductors would change it all. Magnetically levitated trains and superefficient motors would mean ultrahigh speed and comfort for every means of transport. A journey across countries which would today take hours could be reduced to minutes. Applications to biomedical development could result in almost-indestructible human bodies, and there is no end to the possibilities once superconductors hit the world of computer technology. So now we know what our hero will be like; his arrival might be closer than ever before. Still, there’s a great deal that will remain unknown about this mystery saviour and the story of this comic until it’s finally revealed to the world of comic-book fans. Will this hero get it right first time, or will he suffer initial defeat but come back stronger? Will there be casualties, or sacrifices to make? Perhaps “he” might even be a “she”. But with every other detail of our hero illustrated, we can’t forget the gruesome, terrifying details of our super-villain. What will he look like…? I think it’s obvious that we only have to look in the mirror to see that we all are the villains in this comic.
“BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS”: HEROINES OF THE EARLY CHURCH
BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS: heroines of the early church Ms Lucy Smith
TE ACHER OF PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES
n the Wellcome Collection in London, there is a triptych featuring three young women. Little is known regarding its precise origins- 16th Century Spanish School- but what we do know is who it depicts: St Apollonia, St Agatha, and St Lucy. The painting helpfully includes the names of each of them, though even without this information we can tell who is illustrated by a number of clues: firstly, the halo surrounding each indicates sainthood; secondly, each of the women carries in her hand a rather gruesome secret- an object relating to her torture and eventual death as a virgin martyr. Looking from left to right, we can see that each respectively holds a pair of tongs with a tooth, a severed breast on a book, and a pair of eyes on a salver- a quiet hint at the horrors each of these women was to endure. The concept of martyrdom is important to the early Church. The first Christian martyr, St Stephen, is recorded in the book of Acts- his death by stoning witnessed and approved of by one Saul of Tarsus, then-Christian persecutor, but later to become St Paul. The term martyr itself comes from the Greek word “martus”, meaning “one who witnesses”- a witness to the calling of Christ, who pays the price with their life. As a persecuted criminal group for the first three centuries or so, it’s easy to see how such an ideal became so highly valued, with the 2nd Century Church Father Tertullian stating “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Lucy, Agatha, and Apollonia are three such extraordinary women who made this ultimate sacrifice in their devotion to Christ. St Apollonia was the earliest of the three women to die in 249 CE. She lived in Alexandria during the reign of Emperor Philip. When local festivities got out of hand, a mob rioted and began attacking Christians, unchallenged by those in power. St Apollonia was a well-respected deaconess at the time, and was caught up in the violence. She was seized by local men, who, according to various sources, either smashed or removed every tooth in her mouth, before building a bonfire and threatening to burn her to death if she did not renounce Christ and praise the pagan gods. St Apollonia, in what is assumed to be an act designed to preserve her virginity, didn’t wait around to see what the mob planned to do next: whilst briefly unrestrained,
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
she simply jumped voluntarily into the flames and conferred upon herself a martyr’s death. Next to St Apollonia stands St Agatha, born 231 CE. Both women are the two patron saints of the Sicilian city Catania, with Agatha, a native of the island, buried there. Agatha was born into a rich family, and at the age of 15 dedicated her lifeand virginity- to God. Agatha attracted the amorous attention of Quintian, a local Roman prefect, who had his advances knocked back by the young girl who remained steadfast in her promise to God. He brought her before the judiciary, and when Agatha refused to renounce her faith, he then had her put in a brothel. According to legend, the stubborn Agatha exasperated the madam to the point that Quintian had her removed from the brothel, rehoused in prison, and tortured. Agatha suffered, amongst other tortures, the removal of her breasts with shears. Throughout all this, she prayed and received a vision of St Peter, who healed her wounds. St Agatha eventually died in prison from her repeated torment aged around 20 years old. The final figure depicted, St Lucy, is the latest of the three martyrs, born 283 CE, also hailing from Sicily- the city of Syracuse. Lucy too was born to a rich family, but her father passed away when she was a small girl. Lucy promised her life to Christ, but her mother, who was plagued by illness and concerned for her daughter’s future, arranged her to be married to a local pagan man. Lucy decided to make a pilgrimage to St Agatha’s tomb 50 miles away in Catania. Whilst there, St Agatha appeared to her in a dream, and cured her mother’s illness, persuading her to allow her daughter to give her dowry to the poor. Once home, Lucy’s spurned suitor was none too happy about all of this, and promptly shopped her to the local governor as a Christian. Like St Agatha before her, defilement in a local brothel was decided on as a suitable punishment, but when the guards came to take her away, they found that they were unable to move her- even when tethered to oxen she could not be dragged away. A fire was built around her, but Lucy would not burn, and she eventually met her death by the guards’ swords in 304 CE. Her name meaning “light”, legend was later to spring up surrounding Lucy’s eyes: some accounts suggest that Lucy was tortured through having her eyes gouged out,
miraculously to be restored at death. Other accounts suggest that Lucy herself removed her own eyes to defile herself, and physically repulse her suitor- a tactic employed by other virgin martyrs, such as St Ebba, from whom we get the phrase “to cut off your nose to spite your face.” In each of these cases, the carrying of instruments of martyrdom is no gratuitous inclusion: it serves both a pragmatic, as well as symbolic, function. Practically speaking, how else would one tell these women apart did they not hold an associated object- the dentist’s tongs, the severed breast, the gouged eyes- with which to be identified? Placed into the broader theological context of the martyrdom ideal, these instruments of gruesome torture
become their mechanism of triumph, held proudly as a symbol of unshakeable, noble faith. All three of these women showed immense courage under what must have been unthinkable terror, and all three deserve their status as heroines of the early Christian Church. Feast Days and Patronage: St Apollonia (9th February): sufferers of toothache, dentists. St Agatha (5th February): sufferers of breast cancer, plastic surgeons, bellfounders, bakers, sexual assault survivors, nurses, wet nurses. St Lucy (13th December): the blind, sufferers of throat infections, salespeople, writers.
GUNS N’ ROSARIES T WO BRACERS ONE VILLAIN
GUNS N’ ROSARIES
Fidei Defensor The Protestant Reformation began in Germany in October 1517 when Martin Luther, a Catholic friar and priest, nailed 95 theses to the door of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg. His theses rightly attacked the corruption of the Roman court and the selling of indulgences; he went on to question traditional Catholic doctrines and practices.
TWO BRACERS ONE VILLAIN Tom McCarthy
THE MARY ROSE... “ the flower of all ships that ever sailed...” (Sir Edward Howard to Henry V111, April 1513.) Two years after he came to power in 1509 the young Henry ordered two ships to be built in Portsmouth: one was the Peter Pomegranate, in honour of his wife, Catherine of Aragon; the other was the Mary Rose. Henry would become: “...the most absolute monarch England ever experienced and would preside over fundamental and far-reaching changes in the political, cultural and economic life of the nation”. (Henry V111 by Derek Wilson).
(Henry V111 by the grace of God King of England and France Defender of the Faith Lord of Ireland And on earth Supreme Head Of the English Church)
Yet two of these Latin titles reflect Catholic England’s ties with Rome before the Act of Supremacy and before Henry’s assumption of this title in 1535. What is fascinating about Dominus Hibernie and Fidei Defensor is that that these two titles had at different times been given to English Kings by Roman Popes Dominus Hibernie
“Most Holy Father: As Catholic sovereigns should uphold religion, when we saw Luther’s heresy run wild, for the love of Germany and still more for the love of the Holy Apostolic See (Rome), we tried to weed out the heresy. ... We shall defend and guard the Holy Roman Church not only by force of arms but by our wit”. In his theses Luther reduced the seven sacrament to a mere two, Baptism and Eucharist, though his interpretation of the Eucharist was his own. Henry defends the dubious practices of indulgences and upholds papal authority. He gives a detailed explanation of each of the seven sacraments , citing the Hebrew and Christian Testaments as well as the great theologians of earlier times like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.
The Mary Rose sank in July 1545; Henry died eighteen months later. The artefacts in the Museum dedicated to the men of the Mary Rose tell us so much about the lives of individual people who lived and died on the ship. A number of the artefacts tell us about the beliefs and religious practices of an England swept away by the “fundamental and far-reaching changes” in the religious life of the nation as well.
In 1155 in the reign of the first Plantagenet king, Henry 11, John of Salisbury, secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to Pope Adrian 1V, the first and only English Pope. He complained of the irregular consecration of Irish bishops and of the corruption in the Irish Church. The Pope responded a year later in a letter known from its first word in Latin, Laudabiliter. He praised Henry 11 for his desire to:
“...teach the truths of the Christian Faith to a rude and unlettered people”.
“How rashly he calumniates the Church...how impertinent, how impious, how absurd he is”.
The Pope granted the Plantagenet king and his successors the Lordship of Ireland, allowing him to:
Pope Leo in his reply to Henry wrote:
Ironically the most impressive reminder of these changes and of Catholic England is a stunning bronze gun made by the Owen brothers in 1537. We are told by John Stow in his Survey of London (1598) that John Owen was “the first Englishman that ever made that kind of artillery in England”. He describes the Owen family as the “most ready and exquisite gun-makers”. Their pride in their craft can be seen in the inscription on this gun: ROBERT AND JOHN OWEN BRETHEREN BORNE IN THE CYTE OF LONDON THE SONNES OF AN INGLISH MADE THYS BASTARD ANNO DOMINI 1537. Three years previously, in November 1534 by the Act of Supremacy England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and thus began the long process of the Protestant Reformation in England. This short Act asserted that the King “justly and rightfully is or ought to be Supreme Head of the Church of England”. In January 1535 Henry added that title to his style and it appears, almost freshly minted, in curious Latin on the Owen gun:
HENRICUS OCTAVUS DEI GRACIA ANGLIE ET FRANCIE REX FIDEI DEFENSOR D(OMIN(US) HIBERNIE ET IN TERRA SUPREM(U)M CAPUT ECCCLESIE ANGLICANE
In the summer of 1521, King Henry V111, devoutly Catholic, published a reply to Luther. His book is called A Defence of the Seven Sacraments and even in those days it became a best seller. Over the next sixty years it went through twenty editions and translations in London. Antwerp, Cologne, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome and Wurzburg. An illuminated copy of the book was presented to Pope Leo X in the autumn of that year. In a dedicatory letter to the Pope, the Tudor king wrote:
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M
“...enter and take possession of that island and execute therein whatsoever shall be for God’s honour and the welfare of the same”. Henry 11’s pious desire to enlighten the “rude an unlettered” Irish can be guessed from the fact that it took him 15 years before he invaded Ireland in 1171. In the meantime he gave his youngest son, John, by way of compensation, the title of Dominus Hibernie. When John treacherously became King in 1199 he added Dominus Hibernie to his title as King of England. All succeeding English monarchs took on this papal title until 1541 when Henry V111, not content with Dominus, styled himself by right of inheritance and conquest Rex Hibernie, King of Ireland. And, of course, this title lingered on for a few more centuries.
Even today Henry’s A Defence is an impressive book, logical and orderly in its arguments. He rarely resorts to personal attacks on Luther and often writes more in sorrow than in contempt, as for example:
ROSARIES In medieval England the term paternoster (“Our Father”) referred to any collection of threaded prayer beads. As each bead was counted a prayer was repeated, usually the Ave Maria (“Hail Mary”) and every so often, varying from 5 to 7 to 10 beads at a larger marker bead, the Pater Noster was recited and so gave its name to the collection. “A(t) least eight paternosters seem to be represented by collections of beads from the Mary Rose”. (Mark Redknap in Archaeology of the Mary Rose, vol 3). This prayer form became more distinctly Marian in the 15th century. On each small bead in ten (known as a decade) while the Ave was recited the person praying meditated on fifteen episodes in the life of the Virgin Mary and after ten Aves the Pater Noster was said. These fifteen episodes were later divided into a set of three: the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries. These beads were known as rosaries and two of these in boxwood are displayed in the Museum. The paternoster and the rosary were traditional forms of prayer in Catholic England and their presence on the Mary Rose attests to traditional piety among the men on board. The beads are not made of precious metals but of wood, stone, brass, bone and, occasionally, coral and this suggests they belonged to the ordinary soldiers, sailors and craftsmen on the ship. One such paternoster is particularly striking. It has thirty larger conical beads made of wood for the Pater prayer with three incised dots that “may represent the Trinity”, (Mark Redknap ). It has sixty smaller round beads made of red and yellow stone for the Ave Maria prayer. These traditional forms of Catholic prayer and piety were not banned with the break from Rome in 1534 when Henry was declared Supreme Head of the English Church. But gradually the movement against them was made official in Thomas Cromwell’s Injunctions of 1538. This called for the prayers to be said in English, not Latin, and urged the people
“Having found in this book most admirable doctrine, we thank God and beg you to enlist like workers. We, the true successor of Peter, presiding in the Holy See (Rome)...have with our brethren maturely deliberated on these matters and with one consent decreed to bestow on Your Majesty this title, Defender of the Faith”. “Thus did Henry secure his first unequivocal success and give to English monarchy one of the few additions to its style which has stood the test of time, even if, since 1534, and yet more since 1559, it has been an incongruous one.” (Henry V111 by J.J. Scarisbrick) These two papal titles, Dominus Hibernie and Fidei Defensor, are clear reminders of pre-Reformation England when Roman Popes and English Kings were in harmony.
Rosary (courtesy of the Mary Rose Trust)
GUNS N’ ROSARIES T WO BRACERS ONE VILLAIN BRACERS Roger Ascham in Toxophilus, his book on archery, says: “Little is to be said of the bracer”.
“...not to repose their trust and affiance in any other works devised by men’s phantasies besides Scripture, as in wandering to pilgrimages, offerings of money or tapers to images or relics, saying over a number of beads not understood or minded on...”
While this may be true for a Tudor archer, much can be said about two of the bracers or wristguards found on the Mary Rose. Hugh Soar in Archaeology of the Mary Rose suggests that “ these may indicate the presence on board the ship of members of the Yeomen of the Guard” and they are, as you would expect, stamped with Henry’s heraldic devices of the fleur-de-lys and the Tudor Rose.
(See The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy) Cromwell’s prohibition is dangerously ambiguous, however, Who can tell, other than the person praying, whether the prayer said is “understood” or “minded on”? Nevertheless it seems certain that the prayer beads found on the Mary Rose suggest that there were men on board the ship who looked back to the old prayers of Catholic England. (Long after the execution of Cromwell , the praying with beads was banned by Archbishop Cranmer in his Injunctions in the summer of 1547, six months after the death of Henry in January of the same year.) By way of contrast, in the same display case in the Museum that shows the paternosters and rosaries , there is the cover of a small book which has a phrase in Latin:
They are also stamped with the heraldic devices of Catherine of Aragon: the three castles of Castile and the pomegranate . Indeed, the pomegranate was Catherine’s personal badge and it can be seen in a woodcut of her coronation in 1509. So, in July 1545 when the ship sank two archers were still wearing the badges of Queen Catherine. Yet it was eighteen years previously in 1527 that Henry announced to her that he doubted the validity of their marriage and thus began the long miserable years of her isolation at Court until Archbishop Cranmer announced in 1533 the nullity of that marriage. Four years of increasing impoverishment followed until her death in January 1537 in Kimbolton. Other queens had come and gone: Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard, yet two archers on the Mary Rose still remembered the Catholic queen of pre-Reformation England.
VERBUM DOMINI MANET IN AETERNUM (The word of the Lord endures for ever) This is a quotation from the First Epistle of Peter in the Christian Testament. It became the slogan of the Smalkaldic League, a Protestant defence league formed by eight Lutheran princes and eleven cities in Smalkalden in Germany in 1530. This was the League’s triumphant battle-cry against the forces of the Catholic Emperor Charles V and was engraved on their great guns, armour and swords. It was also written on their banners. In London this phrase was also the motto of the Stationers’ Company, but it is likely that under the steely gaze of Archbishop Cranmer that books published by the Company were more likely to be Reformist than Catholic. Incidentally in January 1539 Henry V111 offered his support to the Smalkaldic League in their wars with Charles V; he withdrew his offer in June when the Lutheran princes made their peace with Charles. The book’s cover looks to the completion of the Reformation under Henry’s son, Edward V1; the beads surely look back to older, Catholic days in pre-Reformation England.
Braces (courtesy of the Mary Rose Trust)
Even more reminiscent of Catholic England, and more astonishing, is the inscription within the borders of one bracer. This in Latin quotes the opening words of the Ave, the rosary prayer: AVE (MARIA) (G)RACIA PLENA (DOMINUS TEC)UM Now though the mindless recitation of these prayers was forbidden by the Injunctions of 1538, prayers in Latin were frowned on. Eamon Duffy tells us that in the 1530s Latin was “relegated to the margins”. The King’s Primer of 1545 instructs the clergy to make sure the people understood the words of their prayers; it gives English versions of the Ave Maria and the Pater Noster Yet on this one bracer there is the Ave Maria...almost as a private mantra for its owner’s eyes only.
ONE VILLAIN The Cowdray engraving in the Museum on the sinking of the Mary Rose was commissioned by Sir Anthony Brown, Keeper of the King’s Horse in 1545. Brown was a traditional Catholic and perhaps this can be seen in a tiny but significant detail in the engraving: two young women in Spanish dress are seen walking towards Francois van der Delft, the ambassador of the Emperor Charles V. One of the women is clearly holding rosary beads in her left hand as she walks. Four years later in 1549 a similar scene led to, but did not cause, the slaughter of 900 unarmed prisoners in the tiny Devon village of Clyst St Mary. Henry V111 died in January 1547 and the first stage of the Reformation was over. The truly Protestant stage now began with the boy King Edward V1, guided by two zealous Reformers, his uncle, Protector Somerset, and Archbishop Cranmer. The Archbishop’s Injunctions of the same year banned many old Catholic practices, including the recitation of the rosary. In 1549 with his Book of Common Prayer the Reformation went deeper. Popular saints’ days were thrown out as were prayers for the dead. The Latin Mass was outlawed. In June 1549 in Cornwall a revolt against this was launched and this became known as the Prayer Book Rebellion. It soon spread to Devon. Exeter was besieged by the rebels. John Hooker, a Tudor historian (1521-1601) wrote a nuanced account of the Rebellion and among the many incidents he tells the story of one woman in this small Devon village. On Whit Monday 1549 an elderly woman was walking to church in Clyst St Mary, some miles from Exeter. Like the woman in the Cowdray engraving, she was holding rosary beads. She was accosted by Walter Raleigh, a local landowner, MP for Exeter, and father of the Elizabethan poet. He rebuked the woman and reminded her of the Injunctions of 1547 that banned the rosary. She went on to church and “...in an agony at the speeches that passed between her and the gentleman (she) began to make a great stir in the church...saying she was threatened by the gentleman that unless she would leave her beads all their houses would be burnt and themselves despoiled of everything...” (See Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars)
Woodcut showing coronation of Catherine of Aragon, 1509
The villagers were enraged at this and then built barricades at the bridge over the river Clyst. Some of them went to join the rebels besieging Exeter. The government in London soon assembled an army of mercenaries against the Cornish and Devon rebels. Exeter was relieved. A battle at Clyst St Mary left a thousand rebels dead and nine hundred prisoners taken. When the Prayer Book rebels were finally defeated at Sampford Courteney, the prisoners at Clyst St Mary were executed. The village was destroyed. The threats of Walter Raleigh to this pious woman that the village would be “despoiled” were finally realised, though he was not the cause of the disaster nor was he present. Yet among all the brave men and women on both sides of the widening religious divide, Catholic and Protestant alike, heroes, heroines and villains, this arrogant and bullying landowner is for me the true villain of the time.
Recommended Reading Apart from the books already cited: The Warship Mary Rose : David Childs England under the Tudors: G.R. Elton http//www.libraryireland.com/HullHistory http//www.simply-a-christian.com/texts-Henry-V111 http//www.devonperspectives.co.uk/prayerbook._rebellion And special thanks to Mary Kinoulty, Head of Learning, at the Mary Rose Museum
Hugh Soar suggests that these religious markings have no “deeper significance that to be a constant reminder of the faith of the shooter”. That faith, though, was the old faith and if the words are a “constant reminder of the religious faith of the shooter”, that is of the deepest significance in the England of the Reformation in 1545. 70
P O RT S M O U T H P O I N T. B LO G S P OT.CO M