Page 1

The

ZAHIR

8.2

Spring 2013

Magazine

Politics

Interviews

Is FEAR an aid or hindrance to radical political CHANGE?

Graham Hutchinson’s I Think We Should See Other People Olivia Arthur’s photographic essay Jeddah Diary

Film

The Evil Dead

Collaboraive artists from New York City I Wish I Said Hello

Django Unchanined 1


Have I told you the meaning of ‘Zahir?’...ok ok, I promise it will be the last time. Zahir is an Islamic term meaning that which is apparent, that which is manifest, that which is visible. Its opposite is ‘Batin;’ the hidden and the invisible. Muslim scholars of the Zahiri school-of-thought believe that everything has a Zahir and a Batin, thus there are visible realities and invisible realities. “But in our modern world there are external realities that remain hidden and out-of-sight, there are minorities and ideas that should not be hidden.” Hopefully it is in this issue that we shall give a voice to those others, and as you continue to read this magazine the Zahir will happen. We shall enact Zahir on the words below, you cannot miss them. Our cause is to think of the forgotten, to reveal the hidden, the marginalised and to voice the inner world of your wonderful minds. Because we have ink and paper.

Our Zahirite Editorial Team Editor Beau Rahim Deputy Editor Ellie Swire Politics editor Hussein Kesvani Deputy Politics Editor Rosie Hvid Arts Editors Sally Hoolin & Yveta Stiskálková Film Editor Harry Robertson Deputy Film Editor Alex Cochrane-Dyet

F e a r change To contribute for the next issue in the Summer Term, contact zahir@yusu.org, join the Facebook page, see our Twitter page. We will be eternally grateful for your contribution :) 2

Literature editor Sania Sajid Deputy Literature editor Stephanie Milsom Music Editor Suzanne Moya Connelly Illustrations Alice Kewellhampton


ART 4-5. Sally Hoolin interviews artist Graham Hutchinson on his recent exhibition in the Norman Rea Gallery: I Think We Should See Other People. 6-9. In an exclusive interview with photographer Olivia Arthur, Helen Shaw sees that we cannot quite see young Saudi women. 10-11. Sian Welch interviews collaborative artists from the streets of New York City. 12-13. Ellie Gascoyne pictures Cardiff Castle as the architectural method of ideological reconciliation. 14. And finally, Megan Knight beautifully exposes our FEAR of the image, have we CHANGED since Iconoclasm?

FILM 23. George Lucas or Jean-Luc Godard? George Lucas’ self-proclamation as ‘auteur’ of Star Wars. 24. ‘The Evil Dead’ remake will be released this April, and we have nothing to FEAR, the result can only be groovy blood and gore. 25. But there are horror films that we love and there are films that we feel horrified by, only the most talented director can achieve the latter effect, but who? 26. 9/11 CHANGED it all, it is the pivotal moment of our century, as well as the history of film. 27. Django Unchained soaked our eyes in blood and brutality, but are we satisfied?

POLITICS

FEATURE

15. Will Lawrence on the FEAR of Ofsted and FEAR of the Polls, this is the condition of the children the Noughties. 16-17. FEAR as aid or hindrance for Revolutionary CHANGE? Josh Allen proposes a solution. 18. Gerard Depardieu the Russian citizen, Christian Drury looks at the global elite and our social norms.

19. The enduring legacy of our childhood fears and the enduring strength of bladders, Stephanie Milsom recognises FEAR as a necessity. 20-21. Even in the natural, great plains of Africa you will find vendors selling Coca-Cola cans; the moral implications of being a modern tourist. 22. We once FEARED the idea of women bishops, will this Medieval ideology CHANGE?

MUSIC

LITERATURE

28. Reading between the lines of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, Suzanne Connelly sees a song’s lyrics reflecting the band’s history itself.

29. Ellie Swire looks at whether the archetypal literary hero is always as FEARLESS as expected, in the process finding a more real ‘hero.’ 30-31. This edition now features creative writing, and Jake Roper contributes his short story ‘Dread,’ rather than give a breif, punchy sentence to summarise the main idea of the piece (like I usually do), I will not do this, (it’s never good to do this with creative works injustice to the work and all that).

3


ART

‘I think we should see other people...’ Sally Hoolin speaks to eclectic artist, Graham Hutchinson, about his recent exhibition.

A

collection of manipulated images, Graham Hutchinson’s work is an interesting compilation of images from many different cities and flea markets around Europe. The images are altered in an attempt to create new narratives, contexts and realities and he is specifically drawn to challenging the ‘rituals, tensions and absurdity that occurs between the two sexes.’

the gallery, rather than uniformly spaced, the exhibition encapsulated Hutchinson’s intention that the viewer be surrounded and overwhelmed by the images, particularly the depiction of faces that are covered or absent, creating a void of space. Hutchinson explains that the purpose behind this was to remove the loaded focus that is usually on the face in order that the viewer is able to concentrate on the manipulations he had made, playing with the expectations of his audience.

It was this idea that Hutchinson was in turn eager to reflect in his exhibition ‘I think we should see other people’, recently on display at the Norman Rea Gallery. Arranging the images in clusters around the corners of

Where is your studio currently based?

You disrupt the faces which causes tension, what is the purpose of this? The main idea of hiding the faces is to cast the viewer’s eye on to the figure’s pose or the manipulations I have made. I think by taking the face out of the equation the work becomes more open.

I’m based at Bloc Studios, Sheffield. How long have you been working with collage?

I’ve been working with collage and found imagery for the past five years. Where do you get your inspiration?

What is your favourite aspect of your work?

Using scissors and glue.....I enjoy many aspects. I’m not a tortured artist. I enjoy making quick work. Each piece seems to have a short time to get finished or I become bored of it.

I find cutting things up quite therapeutic. I find it destructive and it seems to take a lot of negativity out of me. Specifically, I am drawn to collecting old shabby magazines and journals which house old fashioned imagery. I find the colour and even the smell intriguing.

How do you intend for you art to be exhibited?

I will be exhibiting two clusters of works which will comprise of over a 100 works.

Is the purpose of your art purely aesthetic or is it a social/political commentary?

I consider some pieces aesthetically pleasing but most of the work comments on human behaviour, especially the relationships between the two sexes. 4


I’m Stuck In This Body And Cannot Get Out

Construction of Buildings

5


ART

Jeddah Diary (2012) Helen Shaw speaks to Olivia Arthur on her photographic essay, documenting young women in Saudi Arabia. I recently wrote a paper on the newly published and enchanting photographic essay, ‘Jeddah Diary’. Assuming pride of place in my room, this photographic diary currently haunts my desk, although not in an exhaustive thank-godmy-deadline-has-passed-and-it-was-an-alright-piece-of-work kind of abject presence. On the contrary - against the dismal and bleak, grey window panes and walls, its sheer physicality and materiality (it’s laden with a beautifully orangey and fiery fabric), shines like a jewel in a cave. Once opened its content echoes back at its reader the very stimulating refractions and reflections it wishes to cast its magic of ambiguity onto: ‘I feel like a precious stone or diamond’, they echo each other, ‘you should keep it away from eyes to keep it in a safe place.’ It has a Golem-esque “my precious” element to it, sure, but this particular quote, printed adjacent to a photograph of a young woman wearing a full-length hijab, camouflaged by her living room curtains and sofa as she peeps out from behind to ‘see’ the outside world, poses a fundamental problem concerning the integral positioning of women’s rights within contemporary Saudi Arabian community.

I spoke to Olivia on her recent publication and what she thought these photos meant for the future in terms of the changing role of women and their rights in Saudi Arabia:

Arthur’s photography offers a new vision for both Western and Eastern ideals on women’s rights and agency to engage in a level-pegging visionary dialogue, where neither assumes agency or authority over the other culture. Its approach, to create a collaborative space in order to address, inform and ultimately conduct a possible renegotiation of identity for young women in Saudi is startlingly subtle, yet powerful in its diarist format. Revealing a series of unsettling portraits, Arthur’s photography is a multitude of dualistic and dialectic vocabulary: most fundamentally a blurring between subjectivity and objectivity, where women’s faces are censored and concealed, identities fractured and fragmented into a leg, an arm, an eye!? We start to contemplate what it means to censor or conceal identities in both the East and the West; and more so, a woman’s identity. In true elliptical and paradoxical art historical fashion, my interpretation was that of my first thought for this article: the ghostly, shadowed identities of Arthur’s diarist entries will forever be left open to interpretation, forever left to haunt and taunt the viewer’s thoughts and opinions on women who emerge from the shadows of a patriarchal society. 6


HS: How did the laws governing photography in Saudi Arabia affect your photographic practice, especially in photographing the women? OA: I often got shouted at when I took pictures outside which is why I didn’t really in the end. Some people tell you it’s illegal, but mostly people tell you that this is a conservative country and you can’t do that, even women with full niqab. The quote on the back of the book was from one such occasion from a woman who thought I was taking her picture. In the end I only really took pictures in situations where people were aware and had accepted my taking photographs. Sometimes I would ask and they would say ‘is it just for you or for other people?’ This concept is quite prominent there, public and private photographs. I wanted to always be very clear about what I was doing, so in a way it became almost collaborative, letting them know what I was doing, making sure I knew what their limits were in terms of how much of them I could show, and then trying to make photographs that suggest a reality beyond any facade or cover. Of course with the snapshot images, it became much more a depiction of reality and the facades were often lifted. Then of course I had to put them back on (with the flash) once I realised that I couldn’t show these pictures.

HS: Do you think your photographs suggest that you are not the only ‘active’ person within the staging of these shots? OA: The section at the front of the book I have kept as a section in order to emphasise the fact that these pictures are posed (which I think is a better word than ‘staged’ as the scenes are their own homes). These are obviously more collaborative than the others.

HS: You speak of bubbles in the introduction of Jeddah Diary; did you feel that you could easily go between these secret bubbles or that as you photographed them you made a ‘new’ bubble? OA: I think it was both, and I think that the two roles are reflected in the two cameras that I use, medium format for the photographer and snapshot camera for the friend, but of course the borderlines are blurry. I think I was allowed to slip in and out of their different bubbles. In the end what you get is my experience of these fragments which build up to make something more like a half-made jigsaw than a bubble. I wanted the viewer to see the contradictions and non-sense that I was trying to puzzle together, to share a part of my experience and confusion with it all.

Continued on next page........................ Jeddah Diary photographs 7


ART

8


9


ART

Missed

Connection

ing the topic of serendipity and the missed connection, how did the project come about and why choose this topic in particular?

Sian Welch on the ‘what-might-have been’ in the exhibition ‘I Wish I Said Hello’ Whether it’s a fleeting conversation with a stranger, that lingering look on the bus or the person you repeatedly catch sight of in the distance, the ephemeral nature of the ‘missed connection’ has been both captivating and frustrating people for centuries. Usually associated with a romantic enterprise, a missed connection happens when two people meet unexpectedly, make an impression but somehow don’t manage to exchange contact details. It seems a natural inclination of ours to ponder upon what might have been, to fret about what our destiny holds and form romanticized alternatives.

A: Both Adria and I are students at NYU and we were set the task of exploring art and the influence of technology in our ‘Recurring Concepts in Art’ class. It’s a great class, taught by Georgia Krantz who is a big name at the Guggenheim. We had both worked in very different media before this project, so it was a challenge for both of us but through mind mapping our ideas, we kept coming up with the medium of the internet and the irony of having greater access but less intimacy in relationships. It turns out that in the era of social media, when we’re supposedly connected to anyone; the network of missed connections is one of the most inefficient ones. When we heard about the infiltration of ‘I saw you’ style posts on Craigslist (a US-based website that offers free classified advertisements) we both thought it was perfect for our project.

In their recent street art installation ‘I Wish I Said Hello’, Lisa Park and Adria Navarro have scrutinized our fascination with the fleeting romantic connection. Their idea was to bring missed connection stories sent into newspapers, and their purpose built website, to the real world by plastering them on the very streets of New York City, in the exact location where the encounter took place. Modelled on the Google Maps marker, each brightly coloured sticker placed at the location encapsulates the encounter through image and quoted text. They vary in locations from subway stations to bars and street corners, not as a platform for reconnection but rather a celebration of the multiplicity of everyday poetics, mapping stories that all connect in this shared spotlight upon serendipity. Whilst I was in New York last summer I met up with Lisa to find out more about Street Art and the missed connection.

Q: Could you tell me a little more about what struck you in particular about these ‘Missed Connection’ posts? --

Q: So Lisa, this sounds like a really interesting way of explor10

A: Surprisingly, it was actually the element of loneliness that kept coming through in these ads. I think people are more willing to make something of a missed connection here in New York. People come to the city in the hopes of finding their soulmate after seeing films like Serendipity and are more often than not disappointed. Saying that though, I think that some people really

do reconnect after missed connections so perhaps they should have faith in it. Two of my classmates recently got married after meeting again through a Craigslist ‘Missed Connection’ post. Q: You just mentioned the significance of using somewhere like New York City as the starting location for your project, but how do you manage to get around the bureaucratic issues and laws that seek to circumvent Street Art? A: There is so much Street Art in New York that funnily enough that is the reason it isn’t an issue. A few people stopped us whilst we were putting up our stickers, but only to ask about the project out of interest. I think we get away with it because we are students! Some of our pieces were taken down recently, there are six official stickers in Manhattan now but it is just part of working with an active medium. We make sure there are always a few stickers on display by putting them up a few at a time; this keeps the Missed Connection stories up to date too. Q: How did you come up with the final design of the stickers? A: We started out by looking at signs; we wanted something eyecatching and recognisable. We knew we had to create the stickers in a shape that would resonate with the idea of a location marker, and what is more iconic than the Google symbol? The element of technology was something that had to remain an important part of our project, and the final design of the stickers managed to encompass the concept


of a location-specific, personal event with the universality of the forum in which these stories where emerging from. The text on our stickers are direct quotes from the ads, we didn’t contact the people to tell them what we were doing so it’s funny to think that the person who wrote the advertisement might one day come across their sticker unexpectedly. Q: What was it like working collaboratively with another artist? How did you divide the tasks on this particular project? A: I think we worked really well together. We both have very different backgrounds, I am Korean and Adria is from Barcelona and he has a background in Engineering whereas mine is in Fine Art. Through collaboration you learn a lot, I was trained to work alone but it is nice to have a partner. In terms of dividing the jobs, Adria mainly worked on the website but we both looked through the advertisements together as it was important we agreed on the most iconic encounters. You can find Lisa and Adria’s website at: http://iwishisaidhello.org/

11


Cardiff Castle: & New Ideas through ART

Ellie Gascoyne examines how the clash between religion and evolution theory is reflected in Cardiff castle’s architectural decor.

I

t is easy to think of the Victorians as being dull, prudish and averse to CHANGE, especially when faced with threats to the established religion and culture. Darwin’s theory of evolution is, for example, conventionally misconceived as having been a huge bombshell that struck terror among Victorian Christians. In reality, however, the threat of Darwin’s theory to the church was convincingly rebutted, so much so that the themes of Creation and natural history were even celebrated simultaneously in art and architecture, notably by the Third Marquis of Bute, in the construction of his Gothic, fantastical Cardiff Castle. Initially, evolutionary theory troubled the church; it contradicted the literalist, orthodox reading of the Creation story. Evolutionary theory challenged the idea that humans were created specially, separately from other animals, and that the supposedly 6000 year-old world was created in seven days. Evolution estimated the world was in fact millions of years old, that species’ ‘creation’ or evolution took millions of years, and that, shock-horror, humans were descended from apes (so much for our being created ‘in

the image of God’). Additionally, the concept of ‘natural selection’ seemed so brutal and cruel that the Christian God surely would not condone it. The church did manage to overcome these seemingly insurmountable challenges by suggesting that evolution was part of God’s plan, and given that the ‘survival of the fittest’ was based on intellectual or moral excellence, this was not cruel or unfair. Even fossils (as William Buckland claimed) were placed deliberately by God for human discovery. Ultimately, it was concluded that science and religion’s differing notions of creation were entirely compatible, if a non-literalist reading of the Creation story were adopted.

the opposite.

Therefore, far from being terrified of these new discoveries and theories, many Victorians did not see them as a threat at all and positively embraced such CHANGE. One such man was the third Marquis of Bute, an eccentric and quirky character who was obsessed with natural history, ancient mythology and the occult, but mainly medieval or ‘Gothic’ architecture and art. His other passion was his faith; he controversially converted to Roman Catholicism aged 21. Being such an ardent Christian, would he not have been frightened or troubled by the new doubts posed by science?

Before even entering the castle, life-size stone-carved animals, including a lioness, wolf (and, of course, apes) peer down at you from the ramparts, with amber glass eyes. The inclusion of these creatures is to celebrate God’s creation, but the apes play an especially comic role in relation to Darwin’s claims regarding human ancestry. Inside the castle, the Winter Smoking Room’s stained glass windows depict Norse Gods, while two corbels represent the Sun God and Moon Goddess. Grotesque marquetry monkeys look down on visitors. In the Summer Smoking Room, the floor shows the earth at the very centre of the universe (a strong medieval belief). The walls detail legends associated

From looking at Bute’s Castle in Cardiff, it would appear much 12

Although allegedly the richest man in mid-19th century Britain, Bute inherited a ruinous wreck of a castle – dating back almost 2000 years, it was a jumble of different architectural repair-jobs from over the centuries. Undeterred by the crumbling reality of his so-called ‘picturesque seat’, Bute was determined to CHANGE it into the ultimate ‘desres’ for the medieval, and natural, history enthusiast. Bute employed the equally eccentric architect William Burges, and together the pair created a truly individual, extravagant explosion of Gothic romanticism, with every room preoccupied with natural history: more specifically, with Creation.


Embracing Change Architecture with the Zodiac, whilst emblematic depictions of animals clash with naturalistic ones: on the wall tiles, a brave medieval knight battles a giant crab, whilst tiny life-size carved mice scurry across the wooden panelling. In the Small Dining Room, scenes from Genesis cover the stained glass windows, whilst painted butterflies and birds flutter around the door frames. Bute’s bedroom is dedicated to St John the Evangelist (of whom there is a statue above the fireplace) and his prophetic Book of Revelation, though colourful heraldry and a carved animal frieze also attract visitors’ attention. In the library, there are more mischievous carved monkeys, depicted eating apples, or sneakily peeking inside books – obviously reflecting the themes of temptation to gain knowledge, as in the Genesis Creation story, where Adam and Eve are tempted to eat the fruit which will give them great knowledge. Finally, the magnificent Great Hall, with its vaulted wooden ceiling and miniature castle above the fireplace, is incredibly theatrical. So rather from being afraid of Darwin and evolutionary theory, and shying away from the most controversial topic of their era, Bute and Burges actually confronted evolutionary theory and Creation head-on, and created a humorous, ironic parody of the contemporary debate and clashing of ideologies. They were not afraid of CHANGE or ‘the new’, but used art and architecture to deride the arguments, and to realise their

own unique architectural dream. All throughout the castle rooms, images derived from medieval history, the natural world and the bible all co-exist together as part of an aesthetically beautiful whole – almost as if Bute was thus giving the message that, far from being threatened by science, Christian doctrine could be accepted alongside it – there was no inherent contradiction, so no reason to FEAR the scientific ‘CHANGE’. Perhaps he was also trying to illustrate Sir Thomas Browne’s idea that “nature is the art of God”, and is therefore sacred anyway. Unfortunately, the castle today has roads encircling it where Bute would probably prefer a moat to be, whilst 19th and 20th century commercial buildings peer over the battlements, which Bute would probably see as unwelcome modern encroachments, trespassing on the magical and romantic Gothic world that he created within the castle walls.

13

Alice Kewellhampton


ART

FEARfIMAGE

I

Megan Knight looks at the visual image and questions what role it has in multi-medial dimensions of contemporary art

it represents? Surely then do we not alienate whole artistic movements? Here it is prudent to reign in the discussion of Iconoclasm and maintain its specificity to a religious context, although the pervading questions are something to contemplate beyond the religious references and perhaps become more relevant to a contemporary audience. In extracting the image against the ideology hypothesis, and expanding it beyond its given time frame, we may as a contemporary audience seek to question the development of the image through the historical lineage of art and thus pose questions of medium and practice.

n an attempt to evade an arbitrary discussion on the beginnings of art, one must acknowledge that at its very foundation, at a given time (suggested to be over forty thousand years ago), the concept of creating an image was consciously pursued. Comprehensively discussed in Whitney Davis’ ‘The Beginnings of Art’, one must maintain the belief that in moving from the spoken or written word into the realms of visual language, pictorial intention dictated a new way in which to communicate. Diffusing beyond the restrictions of context or meaning, FEAR of the image - and in turn, of what it has mutated into - punctuates the history of the art, fully acknowledging the threat that visual culture posed to established channels of communication.

Within the artistic spectrum, one should not ignore the diversity of media that is now housed within the creative sphere. Artistic practice has developed beyond the visual; performance art and sound have moved from the peripheries of artistic consequence and feature prominently in discussion. Developing from the earliest images that seemingly form the foundations of artistic practice, the expansion of media across communication methods seeks to retain a concern for pushing a given concept into the foreground for a particular audience.

As previously noted, I fully intend to evade a fruitless discussion on the beginnings of art; I merely seek to formally identify that in the inception of art, the image has been rejected as an object to provoke FEAR.

To simplify, art has gone beyond the image. Its visual constriction has expired, it has spread to movement, to touch and to sound. Does the FEAR of the image have a cross-media, time transcendent translation? Do we FEAR modern practice? Does the work of artists like Santiago Sierra and Damien Hirst threaten what we recognise as art and inspire us to FEAR the unknown, non-conformist ways of the modern artist?

Critically paramount to the refusal of visual language, the Medieval reaction to the image in the Iconoclastic period, beginning in 726, is one of earliest, and most significant examples of the image as a threat. Recognised as a period of barbaric control of production and dissemination of images, the imposed restrictions sought to effectively remove the place of the image within an ecclesiastical environment. The FEAR of the image, or more extensively, the FEAR of God in venerating an image, propelled a period of expulsion for visual language within the liturgy.

Returning to my original statements on the birth of a visual language, one must keep discussions relative. The production of pictorial thought and the physicality of its practice in a time where images were non-existent introduced an artistic method that radicalised means of communication. One may question if in a contemporary framework, as the sensitivity of culture yields to modern practice, will we ever FEAR the image? Will the level of artistic innovation ever be able surpass our expectations of contemporary work that we are scared by our own advances?

Extrapolating the core argument of Iconoclasm, one must meditate upon the FEAR of the image in betraying its own ideological basis; meaning to say, the FEAR that the visual and aesthetic quality of a given object will undermine or wrongly convey the ideological connotations of a delineated subject. To what extent does the visual have to maintain a faithful connection with that which 14


Column A or Column B?

POLITICS

Column A or Column B?

“The present school system is built on fear...”

Aware Committed Creative Honest Improvising Incisive Independent Initiating Innovating Insightful Leading Strategic Supportive ———————————- > or

Obedient If you were planning a trillion-pound, sixteen-year indoctrination program to turn out the next generation of our society, which column would you build it around? The present school system is built on FEAR. FEAR of exams. FEAR of Ofsted. FEAR of failure. All this FEAR can only output blank generations capable of being obedient. Yet the world has CHANGED since the modern school was conceived in an industrial Britain. Then the economy needed homogenised, obedient workers and pliant, eager consumers. Today the mass-customisable planet demands innovation. Education policy must, then, topple Column B. Only then can students be free from the FEAR of failure.

Will Lawrence

15


POLITICS

Revolution

tsar under the benevolent gaze of the holy trinity: Marx, Lenin, Stalin. The father, the son and the omnipresent holy ghost. Order had returned to the Russian Empire.

Revolution

Switching our focus from the tundra to Tuscany in the late 1370s, and FEAR is sweeping through the oligarchic mercantile elites of Europe. In Florence, the Manchester or Shenzhen of the 14th Century, members of the minor craft guilds not recognised by the municipality seized control of the guildhall and raised their banners over the means of production, distribution and exchange. They proceeded to nationalise the grain industry, raise welfare benefits by 300% and to abolish all personal titles other than “citizen”. By the middle of 1382 however, all of their CHANGES had been rolled back.

Is FEAR an aid or hindrance to radical political CHANGE? Josh Allen surveys the evidence. Few subjects are supposed to provoke more FEAR in the hearts of the ruling class than the spectre of radical CHANGE wrought through revolution. However need this be so?

Following the seizure of power, the leaders of the minor guilds - like Stalin and his supine cadres 550 years later - found it both expedient to maintain and indeed reinforce some of the traditions of the old magnate class. Coming to power during an economic slump is never easy, however the government of the minor guilds compounded this problem by trying to meet the debt obligations of the previous regime and instituting draconian punishments for those who did not work. The lesser artisans of Florence were left wondering what had CHANGED, so did not ride to their nominal representatives rescue when in 1382 the Butcher’s Guild, loyal to the old regime, seized the guildhall and massacred most members of the revolutionary government, securing the rapid restoration of the old regime and in time, the emergence of the Medici family as a bulwark against future disorder and challenges to the status quo.

The premier revolution of the modern era occurred in the Russian Empire in late 1917 – an event which in turn shaped much of the 20th century. And yet, after the initial spasms, did much really CHANGE internally within Russia? Need the bourgeois have trembled? The first decade of the USSR’s existence was a game of 2 halves. First came FEAR engendered by the Civil War. Then in more settled circumstances, came the creativity that characterised mid-’20s Russia, giving us constructivism, method acting and cut-up film-making. All within an atmosphere that was punk 50 years before The Pistols. After this creative interregnum however, returned an intensification of FEAR, as the advent of Stalin’s leadership instigated a climate of terror: the NKVD, GULAG and show trial, all came to sustain and legitimate the regime-lubricating the wheels of industrialisation with blood. Was this FEAR and tightening of the state’s grip really a logical stage in the evolution of the revolution or a counter-revolution?

The FEAR amongst radicals that revolutionary CHANGE might prove short-lived is frequently addressed as a topic of concern in radical left-wing circles. However, it also concerns those on the right. Marx famously wrote of Napoleon the III’s destruction of the Second Republic in 1852, ‘history repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce’. He was referring to the grotesque parody of the First Empire’s (brief) achievements reflected in the ineffective and ill-thought out vanity projects and serious dubious plebiscites, focus groups and assemblies, that compromised Louis Napoleon’s ever more tenuous grip upon both France and reality.

On the social front, the draconian Stalinist legal code re-criminalised homosexuality, abortion and divorce. In the class room, the regime returned Russian educational praxis to a version of the traditional tsarist model. The virtual ban on changing job, place of employment or residence meant that serfdom was back in style, only this time with no hope of “redemption” after paying an additional tax for 25 or 30 years.

However, the same applies to the incredibly mediocre performance that was Thatcherite Britain. The Conservative Party’s mid-1970s conversion to to neo-liberal economics gave it a revolutionary agenda just as radical as that of Militant Tendency. Despite the best efforts of Keith Joseph to brand Thatcherism ‘neo-victorianism’,

By the close of the 1930s the official ideology of state with its iconographic portraits of striving workers, buxom women and fetishisation of electricity and tractors as symbols of modernity appeared to have restored orthodoxy. The entire Soviet people toiled for their red 16


since that time there has been nothing conservative about the Conservative Party.

pace of CHANGE that they have unleashed, because it is, by its very nature, destabilising. It is in this whirlwind that those of us who seek to challenge the status quo might be able to seek lasting CHANGE without falling into the mires that have ensnared radicals in the past. The essence of driving effective CHANGE must be to seek out organic variant of the CHANGE we want and encourage them to blossom.

The appalling social effects of social, political and economic Thatcherism and the corrosive effect of life in a neo-liberal world upon individuals and their relationships with each other, are well-known, well-documented and well-lamented amongst left-wingers. What is considered less often is whether the Thatcherite revolution fundamentally CHANGED anything. Or, in fact, whether British Thatcherism and the neo-liberal movement worldwide is merely an intensification and perfection of existing trends. Much as tsarist orthodoxy found its highest expression under the supposedly atheistic and socialistic Stalinist USSR.

At grassroots level we should seek to build through our students’ unions or our local authorities the sort of better world we want to see - be this through start our own letting agency to challenge ineffective privately run ones or getting the parish council to collectively buy energy for our town or village, so as to reduce bills for all. Such small acts are not a plea for introspective quietism, rather an assessment that if a revolutionary situation materialises then we shall be better placed to capitalise upon it if society already has the buds of a free and equal society.

Thatcher and her political FEAR she inculcated led to the waste, inefficiency and eventual collapse of state industries. However, let us consider three of Britain’s most successful companies: Serco, First Group and before their collapse in 2002 - Jarvis Construction. All 3 have grown through extensive state support, which has enabled them to thrive. Serco and other outsourcing companies have come into existence solely because of government policies which favour private delivery of services, create a market, which has now gone global that did not exist before. It’s hard to see how successive governments, both Labour and Conservative, have acted differently from their predecessors of the immediate Post-War era, who tried to encourage growth in the car or chemical industries. Likewise First Group’s business model, as we have seen in York, relies almost entirely upon exploiting state subsidies and extracting the maximum profit for the least return to service users. A model, so successful, that recent acquisitions have exported it as far as Australia and the USA. Jarvis Construction, prior to overreaching itself, made a killing from rail privatisation and public sector building contracts worldwide. How does the policy of recent governments differ then from those prior to the late ‘70s? Whereas once the government championed British Aerospace, the General Electric Corporation and the British Motor Company, firms which provided skilled, reasonably secure well paid jobs in good conditions for hundreds of thousands, now they encourage and subsidise service providers which seem to profit from the general atomisation of our population and society, under the white heat of capital. Conservatives and indeed liberals should FEAR the 17


POLITICS

Jean de… Mordovia?

therefore can be overlooked. The irony of citing such rights to perform as an excuse for appeasing governments such as Putin’s is evident in the aftermath of the Christian Drury on the transmigration of Gerard Depardieu Pussy Riot case. However, the

artists represent a new global citizenry, an elite whose fame has transcended national boundaries,

Gerard Depardieu lumbered around the stage of a provincial Russian town, brandishing his new Russian passport, before being bundled into a traditional regional smock. Hours earlier, he had dined with President Putin. Russia was embracing an exile, driven to their country by punitive state legislation. Or so they would like to have us believe. The arrival of Depardieu was undoubtedly a coup for the government, a sign of the new appeal of Russia to those disillusioned with the West, a sign of their legitimacy as a world power. Eighty years earlier, a series of Western intellectuals had come to fete the Soviet Union and engender it with a similar validity. Yet the gulf between the visits is more than simply chronological. The “fellow-travellers” saw the USSR as an attempt to create a new civilisation; Depardieu and the modern celebrities who fawn on dictators around the world see low taxes and the loosening of an oligarch’s purse-strings.

and are therefore free to do the same. The supranational nature of football is an example: the Dagestani club Anzhi Makhachkala has persuaded world-class players to join them, despite their location in a volatile region of the country that requires the players to make a thousand mile commute from Moscow to play, through the wealth of a local oligarch. It is now far simpler for wealthy individuals to choose their nationality and residence. However, the contrast between this and the intellectuals who pledged their support to Stalin’s Soviet Union is noticeable. Authors may have been flattered – their books were placed in libraries and scholars discussed them in public – but this was merely securing the bargain. Those who lent their support to the USSR saw it as the future, a new civilization in the process of attaining enlightenment and perfection. They invested a secular faith into the project; modern fellow travellers are more likely to pay lip service to an individual for their personal gain. Apologies are forthcoming when their actions are noticed – Hilary Swank donated her fee to charity after appearing in Chechnya for Kadyrov’s birthday – but the motivation is plainly financial. Russia has a flat income tax rate of just 13%, and Depardieu moved there shortly after President Hollande announced a new 75% top rate for France. Many also seek the privacy of a new nationality, away from prying media attention.

The collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s was heralded as a triumph of democracy, free markets and free elections liberating the longsuffering people. In reality, the chaotic nature of the decade led to many countries returning to more authoritarian leadership, or merely retaining Soviet-era apparatchiks in power. They invariably became incredibly wealthy and ran corrupt and abusive states. The Turkmen leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, renamed himself Turkmenbashi, Father of the Turkmen, and became known for his personality cult – he had a gold-plated statue of himself erected in the capital, Ashgabat. It revolved to always face the sun.

Moreover, the status of those who are able to transform their national identity, and move freely, is notable. If one has sufficient wealth, it is possible. If not, one is stranded, no matter their need. When the Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky claimed political asylum in Britain, there was no detention centre and debate over status. He was accommodated, his wealth and position overriding any concerns. For your average asylum seeker, the flight for their lives could hardly be different. A two-speed system has been created, whereby national borders are erased to ease the lives of the wealthy, whilst limiting the opportunities of the global poor. Russia’s tax rate benefits only a tiny minority of the population; Depardieu’s citizenship lends needed credibility to Vladimir Putin’s regime. Either way, as in the 1930s, we all suffer from the transcendence of social norms by a global elite.

If Turkmenbashi was the apotheosis of venal Central Asian dictatorship, he set an example for others. Islam Kamirov has ruled Uzbekistan since 1989, becoming notorious for a series of alleged human rights abuses, as has Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen warlord who ascended to the presidency from the ruin of the wars there. Kamirov and Kadyrov, as well as the Putin-Medvedev duumvirate, have played host to a number of American and European celebrities, often singers performing at exclusive concerts. Their defence when questioned about the allegations against their patrons is often ignorance, a sense that politics interferes with artistic freedom, and 18


(Still) afraid of the Do we ever grow out of our childhood FEARS? And can FEAR ever be a good thing? Stephanie Milsom takes a long, hard look at the trouble of being scared. When I was a child, I pulled up a fallen branch in the garden and was swarmed by Killer Bugs (woodlice); I had a dream that a skeleton popped up at my window in the middle of the night; and I convinced myself that Transformers were horrific creatures that controlled your nightmares. I’m still wary of them today. I’m not sure what’s so formidable about hairdryers and hand-dryers, but the sound still makes me uneasy. Even compiling some of the short stories for this term’s edition was tough going. Essentially, I’m plagued by an active imagination and an annoying knack of being scared - a dangerous combination, if ever there was one. I’ve also probably seen too many horror films. I’m often slightly worried that my childhood FEARS haven’t - for want of a better word - stopped; I don’t think my dad’s scared of anything, and he’s a perfectly normal adult. But then, I don’t think dads are supposed to be scared of anything.

FEATURE

b i g , b a d wolf

in the dark, all white eyes and giant fangs, but I came terribly close to destroying my credit rating last week and it was truly harrowing. After fifteen minutes of frantic googling and trying all manner of ways to work out HSBC’s online banking repayment I’m sure if I spoke to a ‘professional’ they’d tie it system, I finally managed it, and sighed a not too all back to some deep-seated emotional trauma/ need to be loved/mental instability (delete as appro- dramatic sigh of relief. Late payments = extra surcharges = poor credit rating = no mortgage/loans/ priate), but I wonder whether it’s just ... well, me. It anything for me. might sound far-fetched, but my FEARS, just like the old ‘likes and dislikes’ subsection of the questionOkay, perhaps ‘anything’ is a little extreme, but naire, make me who I am. I’m not too keen on the the fact remains that the responsibility of paying dark, so I’m light and bright and bubbly in the day, your way and keeping on top of things can be just and annoyingly clingy at night. My FEAR of seeing something behind me in the mirror’s reflection means as scary as the giant arachnid/zombie hyrbid under I don’t go the bathroom at night, so my bladder has the bed. I’m not even certain that they stop being scary as we get older, unlike said monster. Our almost super-human strength. Maybe I shouldn’t look for a ‘cure’ for my ridiculous FEARS and just ac- parents and surrounding adults are only good at life (some of them, at least) because they’ve made cept that that’s me. And I’m ridiculous. a habit, where possible, of avoiding scary, grownup stuff. So maybe being scared is a good thing; it I’m also scared of normal things too, like spiders stops us making stupid mistakes (ahem) and helps us and having to clean behind the fridge. Granted, to stay on track. It also gives us incredible wondermost of my ‘adult’ FEARS are less fantastical, but bladders. they’re just as valid. A credit card bill won’t scuttle up my arm and eat my face, or jump up behind me

19


FEATURE

Moral Dilemmas of the Foreign Tourist

On that Kenya trip, even whilst we were still allowing our lungs to acclimatise to the new, humid air, a friend of mine confessed to a swelling mixture of uncomfortable feelings inside her stomach: she was ashamed of being a tourist. As she watched the unfamiliar landscape lurching past, she was uncomfortably aware of her ‘Western’ status and of her alien presence in this foreign country. At that point in time I couldn’t understand her feelings. I wondered how a visitor could be ashamed to enjoy why people are proud of their country. If you speak to someone about their homeland, more often than not they persuade you to promise to visit and share their culture, food, and hospitality. Yet, somehow, Rosie had hit on a prominent tension so often ignored, or at least shamefully swallowed.

Active contribution or passive consumption? Anisha Wilmink reviews the uncomfortable issue of the modern tourist, following her recent trip to Kenya.

T

o be a traveller was, in times past, to possess a lauded title. Historians, philosophers, and explorers, sustained by wealthy patrons, returned from their travels with exotic tales and theories about foreign civilisations. Only rich men could afford the luxury of desiring such knowledge, and it was the bravest and cleverest men they chose to seek it out. To be a traveller was to be a guest at banquets, to be honoured by the Queen, and to be the hero of children’s dreams. Yet the title ‘traveller’, as ascribed to Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and David Livingstone, has morphed into a word laden with negative connotations: tourist. I had never felt ashamed of my desire to travel until I travelled with eleven of my school mates to Kenya. I think I have always felt so comfortable with my desire to explore other countries because I identify most strongly with a culture and country that none of my family call home. They, like me, have always had “itchy feet”, never desiring to be in one place for too long. I’ve always been a ‘foreigner’ in both the country in which I reside, and in the native homes of my parents; it simply depends on who is asking. People are prone to pity this fact, but I love that it allows me to derive pleasure from secretly calling myself a “citizen of the world”. My proverbial itchy feet mean that the moment the doors of an airplane hiss open my heart skips. It’s the lively local air forcing its way into a stale cabin that is first real clue that the whole world has CHANGED around you. Everything about the air is different; its weight, its smell, and its texture, and within this intoxicating mixture lies coiled that first twinge of excitement: the awareness that the adventure has begun. While I savour that moment, for some people it harbours an unnatural sense of FEAR, the FEAR of stepping out of that airplane door and becoming a tourist. 20

When travelling to Europe or North America, a tourist is at worst an annoyance; they have come to marvel at the history, culture, and sights of a developed country and they’ll leave their money in exchange. There, tourism industries are well-developed, profitable, and geared towards funnelling money into the economy. In developing countries, however, the methods are often exploitative of the locals, lucrative mainly for foreign investors, and present a dishonest – or, at best, pre-packaged – view of the country. This dichotomy between the romanticised view of safaris and ‘ethnic culture’ and the harsh realities of life is starkly evident in so many countries in Africa. English-speaking countries with a coastline and national parks such as Kenya are well versed in this narrative of double standards. Much later on that trip, zoning out the sounds of my card playing friends and the South African MTV watched ceaselessly by the Kenyan girls who occupied the hostel, I felt similar discomfort to that my friend had confessed to earlier. I was not ashamed of being a tourist – we were not oblivious foreigners in five star hotels or isolated resorts, nor the expats in their Land Rovers and gated communities; we walked the streets and took public transport, ate in local establishments, and shopped in local markets in Nairobi. In fact, it was my brush with the volunteer sector that made me ashamed of my possessions, foreign passport, and money. I was becoming aware that to combat the potential discomfort of educated foreigners visiting Kenya, a new and uglier brand of tourism was taking root: a merger between the volunteer sector and the tourism sector. Thousands of students, families, and couples are engaging in ‘altruistic tourism’. In my mind this is far worse than enjoying a Kenyan coastline without ever venturing out of the resort. It is far more exploitative to pay


thousands of dollars to spend a week painting a school, or playing with children at a nursery for AIDS orphans, or teaching a disjointed English course. That money could be far better spent employing a local contractor to paint the school, or funding the salary of a social worker or teacher for a year. Instead, the money goes to a middleman: somebody getting rich off the warped conscience of the Western tourist. The tourists seem to desire staged photos cradling the ‘famous’ African babies to show their friends at home what an amazing and life-changing experience they had in ‘Africah’. Taking into account the inordinate cost of the trips, these digital images equate to hundreds of dollars. The name of the country does not matter; neither does its whereabouts in the vast continent, and what happens to the child after those pictures are taken is irrelevant. For one week or ten days, the fortunate Westerner gets to realise how ‘privileged’ they are and the feeling of satisfaction will last a lifetime. All this happens at the cost of the human dignity and respect for the condition of the lives the local people are leading.

still laugh and treasure the memory of how a one and a half hour journey back to Nairobi turned into a four hour exercise in determination and spirit, where eleven students soaked to bone and singing camp songs pushed their minibus through quickly-forming rivers of viscous mud. Admittedly, we could have fundraised from the safety of our college, but what good would it have done us? I learned so much, I experienced adventures that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I came into contact with people whose day I was lucky enough to share. There was a complete exchange: we were able to help support a basic need of a community, and they were able to share with us culture, reality, and adventure. I didn’t walk away from the trip feeling noble; I felt excited, lucky, and eager to share my stories. I still take issue with altruistic tourism and sometimes I prefer not to share those ‘Africa’ photos I have. They are a great memory for me and I don’t want them misunderstood. When people ask me if I have visited Africa, I will never tell them that I went on a volunteer trip to Africa; I will tell them that I travelled in Kenya. My time with the Maasai was part of my Kenyan travels, and I have Kenya to thank for some of my best anecdotes and memories.

My initial joy had turned suddenly murky. My multinational group and I had come to Kenya, just after graduating from an esteemed international school, to build pit latrines for a Maasai tribe in the Ngong hills outside Nairobi. My camera was already full of pictures of cheerful, paint-splattered students and laughing children. I did not want to return home and proudly profess that I had been in Kenya on a ‘humanitarian mission’, or that we, the privileged students, had briefly brought ‘peace and love’ to the world by building four pit latrines. The trip was led by a Kenyan student whose mother’s hostel we had stayed at, and perhaps it would have been better simply to fundraise and give her the money to spend locally. She could have hired a contractor and sent us pictures of the Maasai tribe with the finished product of the sanitation project. A few days after my uncomfortable realisation, I sat with the other members of my group excitedly rehashing the events of the day. I smiled at a night guard who waved back at me and I realised my feelings of discomfort and guilt had entirely disappeared. I understood that I wasn’t there to assuage my feelings of Western guilt, or to provide help to ‘the poor of Africa;’ my being there to travel was what mattered. For most people it is never possible to have the experiences we had spending each day with a Maasai tribe. I don’t know how many people can say they drank goat’s blood from a chipped tin cup or pushed a minibus from the Ngong hills to Nairobi in a rainstorm. I 21


FEATURE

Woman and Scripture Jen Ward draws some surprising medieval parallels to the question of women bishops in the Church of England. We live in an age in which the fast pace of progress is celebrated; technology is updated almost incessantly and social networking sites allow us minute by minute updates on the lives of others. International developments reach us almost instantaneously via 24-hour news channels. CHANGE is, in many respects, now presented as a healthy and positive thing. However, on 20 November 2012, the General Synod of the Church of England voted against allowing women to become ordained as bishops. To me, this seems entirely incompatible with an age which professes to promote equal opportunities employment and is desperate to ensure it is as up-to-date as it possibly can be.

14: 34-35, which objects to a woman speaking in a church; ever-resourceful Margery evades this by spreading the word outside the realm of church and pulpit. Perhaps this is what the women of today should do. To me, it seems that the more the voice of a woman is denied in a church, or anywhere, the more power is attributed to it, ironically. Given that in many other walks of life women now do ‘teach or have authority over men’, it comes across as backwards, even archaic, that women’s career prospects are still limited in this way by such a large institution as the Church. However, because it is a religious institution, it is not required to follow ‘equalities and employment’ legislation. To give the Church of England its due, the measure only failed by a narrow margin, needing a mere six more votes to get it passed. Let us hope that at the next General Synod they find those all-important votes. Did I mention this will be in 2015? What’s three years after eight-hundred?

On that day, 20 November, I was frantically reading The Boke of Margery Kempe, in preparation for my ‘Late Medieval Literature’ seminar the following day. For those who haven’t come into contact with this obscure and utterly eccentric text, it follows the life of a fourteenth century female visionary who roamed the country trying to tell the word of God (which she heard from Jesus in her head) to priests and laity alike. Margery Kempe was, for many English Literature students, the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to trying to access the Medieval period. However, when reading it, I couldn’t help but be forcibly reminded of the discussions going on in the Church of England at the moment, a mere eight centuries later. As a practising member of the Church of England myself, I am in no hurry to condemn it. Both churches which I attend have several female members of the clergy. However, I find it alarming that Margery’s struggle to be heard amongst the patriarchy of the fourteenthcentury church has such a resonance with our situation today. One of the arguments cited against the installation of female bishops is a passage of scripture in which St Paul says “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man - she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:12). St Paul is also cited in Margery Kempe, where (in York in fact) a “great cleric quickly produced a book and quoted St Paul for his part against her, that no woman should preach”. Here they are referring to 1 Corinthians 22

Alice Kewellhampton


FILM

Star Wars and the

auteur Harry Robertson on whether the film can ever be the rightful property of its creator. In 1997, George Lucas released the Star Wars “Special Edition.” Since then, he has refused to make the original cut of Star Wars available commercially, stating on several occasions that he simply wants the earlier versions to “disappear.” The matter of how the CHANGES in the special edition alter the films is one that I will not go into. I would instead suggest that anyone interested simply google the phrase “Han shot first” and work their way through the thirty four million results. The subject I wish to address is whether it is acceptable for Lucas to deny people access to his earlier creation. Fortunately, this is a subject that Lucas himself is pretty clear on: upon recently being asked why he hadn’t released the original cut,

“Grow up. These are my movies, not yours.” he responded with

The phrase “my movies” is crucial. To assume that these films are the sole property of George Lucas suggests that one adheres to “auteur” theory – that a film is created via a realisation of the director’s vision alone. This concept originated with mid twentieth century French film making, and was largely tied up with persuading people that film was a form of art – critics of film as an art form often refer to the fact that film has no sole “artist” during its creation. Auteur theory presented a counter-argument: that the director was the artist, and the film was his work of art. If one accepts this argument, then George Lucas is thoroughly within his rights to withhold the original cut. It may not be particularly kind to his fans, but there is no obligation for an artist to display his work publicly. Unfortunately for George, Star Wars is not exactly a shining example of auteurship. There is considerable evidence to suggest that Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope for those who acknowledge the existence

23

of the prequels) was saved from utter mediocrity by a team of editors, brought in after Lucas fired the original editor. Lucas himself re-wrote the entire story multiple times during attempts to fund the film. It does not seem too far-fetched to assume that within this stage of re-writing, outside parties may have had an influence on his decisions with regard to the plot. With any film it seems dubious to credit the director with sole artistic input. Camera operators, editors, even the actors themselves can add to a film in ways the director may never have thought of. Lucas was a relatively unknown director at the time of Star Wars’ release, and as a result, people had considerable influence over him. As his fame grew, people lost their ability to challenge the “great” George Lucas. By the time of the prequel trilogy, Lucas actually did have full artistic control over his films – the result was the absolute train-wreck that we know as Star wars: Episodes I, II and III. For George Lucas to deny the public access to his earlier films is frankly insulting to everyone else involved in the star wars films. The films are not “his” movies, they are the work of a talented team who created something brilliant together. George Lucas is not an auteur, he is a lucky movie-maker who struck gold. Applying the theory here is downright destructive for anyone who cares about the preservation of film as an art form.


FILM

Evil Dead................................................. Barney Trimble considers the logistics of a good remake.

O

n the 19th of April, the original Cabin-in-theWoods film will be remade. The first Evil Dead is often rated among the cream of B-movies, as well as instigating one of the dominant sub-genres of horror. It is, therefore, of little surprise that a remake has finally come about. However, recreating such a successful film comes with high expectations and risk, as well as going in the face of those who believed the franchise to have reached its natural conclusion. Sequels have been scorned for many years. In Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly sees a cinema advertising Jaws 19. Nowadays we are being faced with a glut of upcoming superhero films, with ten films in development based on Marvel comics (of which only two feature protagonists who are yet to have made their big screen debut). However, as saturated with sequels as other genres may be, no other genre has been dominated by sequels, prequels and remakes as much as horror. While the most notable culprits are the Friday the 13th (twelve films) and Nightmare on Elm Street (nine films) sagas, they are far from being the only guilty parties. In fact, almost every reasonably successful horror film has been given a slew of sequels. Even Warwick Davies’ Leprechaun series managed six, going on seven, although by the time they reached Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood it may be fair to question their status as horror films. While sequels may be looked over with a suspicious eye, the remake is a completely different beast. Offering a fresh start as well as a fresh perspective, it provides fans of the franchise with a new look at the original, and in most cases best, film, as well as appealing to film goers who would otherwise

be put off by having not seen the rest of the series. The downside is that in creating a remake, you effectively disown all that preceded it. As a result, an unsuccessful remake can spell the end of a franchise. So what are the chances of Evil Dead having a successful reincarnation? Much of the original’s success fell down to the two main brains behind the franchise, Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. Both appeared to have moved on since The Army of Darkness in 1992; Raimi was given the Spiderman franchise to toy with, while Campbell secured a succession of TV roles from Autolycus in the Xena universe through to Sam Axe on Burn Notice. However, the two have been good friends since the beginning of their careers and so a professional reunion was never off the cards. In fact, Campbell made it public knowledge that there had been discussion of a fourth Evil Dead film all the way back in 2007, long before it was officially announced in the summer of 2011. Therefore, it was clearly a decision that was not reached lightly. This in itself is grounds for optimism as any potential pitfalls should in theory have been well discussed.

So what are the chances of Evil Dead having a successful reincarnation? Capturing the cult appeal of the original presents considerable difficulty. I recently attended a screening of the original trilogy at a cinema in London, known for attracting cult audiences, and the enthusiasm that greeted every quote was incredible. The recipe for developing such a following remains largely a mystery. Snakes on a Plane attempted to create a cult classic, but came off as trying too hard. While in theory Raimi and Campbell of all people should know the magic cult formula, replicating it seems to be as evasive as 24

discovering it. Consequently, there is no guarantee that the remake will appeal to the original fans. There is also the complication that neither have returned to their original roles and are instead working predominantly as producers. In their places, Fede Alvarez is making his feature film debut as director and Jane Levy (Suburgatory) taking the lead as Mia, a female Ash-like character. However, this could very well work in its favour. It is clear from both comments made by Campbell and Raimi, as well as the trailers, that this will not be a shot-for-shot remake. There are certain elements that are being kept in, most notably the infamous tree rape scene as well as the Necronomicon itself, but according to Campbell the similarities amount to “five new kids who are going to have a really bad night”. While that may be the case with the story, the spirit of the film seems, at least on the cover, to still be intact. The use of relatively unknown actors and director as well as the steadfast refusal to use CGI, relying on purely physical effects instead, should lessen FEARS from fans that it would be contaminated by being the focus of such media and public attention. The trailer also suggested that Alvarez is taking a different approach than the original, giving it a much more professional view than the B-movie feel of the original, while maintaining its bloody-thirsty style. So, will Evil Dead resurrect the franchise and bring the thrills of the past to the next generation or will it suffer the same fate as many of its characters? Personally I believe that there is more cause for excitement than worry. The presences of Campbell and Raimi in the background should be enough to keep it loyal to its roots, whilst allowing it to take on its own identity under Alvarez. Treading the line between appealing and appealing to newcomers can be very tough. Whatever the outcome, though, it will be a bloody, messy and high-tempo affair, which will should make for a pretty groovy remake.


FILM

Terror

Ally Gibson sets the standard straight when it comes to defining the ‘horror’ film.

True FEAR in a film is a very rare occurrence. Scare tactics come and go, and therefore get easier to watch with each “scary” film witnessed. As a result, when somebody recommends watching a ‘horror’, I tend to refuse. The genre of ‘horror’ now describes a number of films, including ‘thrillers’, ‘slashers’ and even some ‘crime’ films – many of which do not deserve the title.

I have a simple test for the classification of a true horror film: having seen it once, I must never want to see it again. This isn’t fright: it’s pure terror at what I have seen, and usually that has nothing to do with Zombies or mass murdering chain-saw wielding psychopaths. Unfortunately, this requires exceptional talent from the director and actors. The ability to induce actual horror in an audience is a rare talent limited to a handful of people in the history of cinema. Darren Aronofsky is one of those exceptional cases. If you have seen his most recent film, Black Swan, you might assume that his brand of “horror” comes from unpleasant images mixed in with some loose suggestions of psychological trauma. You would be very wrong. Black Swan is not his attempt to induce horror – it pales in comparison to his earlier work, such as Requiem for a Dream, in which he mercilessly subjects the audience to

a film of such horrific imagery that watching it becomes almost painful. I can recall many scenes that have affected me so deeply that I cannot even entertain the thought of watching them again. Aronofsky selects four characters: two young lovers, their friend, and an elderly lady. We then watch as over the course of a hundred minutes he takes their lives apart. The film is masterfully made – little tricks, such as constantly reducing the average scene length as the film goes on, accompanied by a musical score that slowly accelerates over the course of the film, show that Aronofsky knows exactly how to make people uncomfortable. If you are looking for FEAR, my best advice is to find a film that is not described as “horror.” The characters of Requiem for a Dream are just so depressingly ordinary that we could see ourselves switched into one of their places with nothing more than a small twist of fate. If we cannot truly believe in the horror then we can only be taken in by scare-tactics - and that isn’t horror - it is surprise, which subsides by the next evening at the latest. In Requiem for a Dream, we can not only believe in the horror: we can almost see it happening to ourselves. However many times a monster jumps out at me in a film, I’ll have forgotten about it within a few hours, something unlikely to happen with Requiem for a Dream.

25


FILM

9/11

war, they are too limited to capture any change in the consciousness of American society.

Alex Cochrane-Dyet examines the impact that the attack on the Twin Towers has had on the American film industry.

T

en years ago the prominent American historian Taylor Branch spoke of a possible ‘turning point against a generation of cynicism for all of us’. The image that circulated around the world of the North Tower’s glass window being penetrated by the tip of American Airlines Flight 11 had such a profound effect on the American psyche that within weeks it was being spoken of as a defining historical event. In the light of the succeeding Global War on Terrorism, Global Recession, and Arab Spring, which have all been linked back to this initial terrorist attack, this early forecast of 9/11’s impact may well have been correct. Yet, twelve years on from that unforgettable day, no major cultural works have appeared that capture our new, post-9/11 world. One might expect that given Hollywood status as America’s major cultural industry, an iconic film would have emerged to define the era; however, 9/11 has not provoked a seismic change in the film industry. There is a short-lived ‘Amazing Grace’ quality to the initial reactions to 9/11: once Americans loved irony and took refuge in that distancing strategy but now they are earnest and authentic; once they were fragmented into various political and social identities but now they stand united; once they loved movies where tall building exploded or burned to the ground but now they don’t like those so much. But then again, yes they do. Video rental stores might have placed warnings on some films – ‘in light of the events of Sept. 11, please note that this product contains scenes that may be disturbing to some viewers’ - but violent movies continued to top the most-rented lists. One group of films that emerged after 9/11 was a new type of asymmetrical war film featuring American troops deep in enemy territory, surrounded by IEDs and hostile locals. Films such as The Hurt Locker (2008) or The Kingdom (2007) are amongst the most acclaimed of these. But whilst ‘The War on Terror’ has provided material for several extremely powerful films, they ultimately blend into the seemingly endless action movie genre, as though the stock war film has simply been updated to suit a contemporary audience: a new setting, a new enemy, some new weapons, a few new filming techniques, but nothing seminal. Whilst such films can perfectly capture the atmosphere of a particular

There have been the historical dramas that have tried to capture the event itself. Oliver Stone’s United 93 (2006) is perhaps the best known of these, a real time account of the events on United Flight 93, one of the planes hijacked on 9/11 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when passengers foiled the terrorist plot. United 93 did poorly in the box office, criticised by some for commercializing a fresh wound, by others for failing to capture the scope of the 9/11 attacks. Ironically, Cloverfield (2008), a film in which New York is blown up for a big screen thrill, was far more successful - perhaps suggesting that the US audience is not so sensitive to the ideology that lies behind its movies, so long as it gets to see huge explosions. Certainly, the most sophisticated post-9/11 film produced, Cosmopolis (2012), an adaption of the prominent US author Don DeLillo’s novel, was a complete failure. We have now reached the stage, such as in Ted (2012), where it’s the jingoistic reactions provoked by 9/11 that are being cynically mocked, with a teddy bear telling the American celebrity Norah Jones, who is of vaguely Indian ancestry, ‘thanks for 9/11’. It may be that the initial estimates on the impact 9/11 had on society were too enthusiastic. There have even been comparisons between Voldemort and his Death Eaters to Osama bin Laden and Al’Qaeda in the Harry Potter films There have been implicit links to 9/11 in a variety of ways throughout the last decade of American cinema. The constant use of plane crashes in films is one of these, present in War of the Worlds (2005), Snakes on a Plane (2006) and Flight (2012). In Avatar (2009) the destruction of the towering and symbolic Tree of Eywa by American aircraft can easily be interpreted as a metaphor for the destruction of the Twin Towers and successful counterstrike by the tree’s inhabitants would appear to support America’s aggressive response. There have even been comparisons between Voldemort and his Death Eaters to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the Harry Potter films. To a certain extent though, it may be that we are reading 9/11 into films. Voldemort sprang from J. K. Rowling’s imagination well before 9/11 and the bestknown terrorist-themed movies remain ones made before 9/11, including Air Force One (1997), True Lies (1994), Patriot Games (1992) and Die Hard (1988) and Fight Club (1999). Overall, it seems that post-9/11 cinema is a cut-and-paste version of pre-9/11 cinema; we are simply look at the same material through a different prism.

26


FILM

Violence violence Violence Connor Sherwin asks whether Tarentino’s Django satisfies our demand for bloodshed and brutality.

flicker across a screen, we change into apelike creatures with a fascination for violence. We carry on indulging in a feast of immorality, destruction and death on the The recent release of Quentin Tarentino’s Django big screen. Maybe we have become desensitised, and Unchained has sparked controversy, uproar, and admira- neutralised from the acidic nature of violence. Years of tion since its debut onto our cinema screens. Enjoyable? opposition to violence in film have passed from Kubrick’s Yes. Profitable? Definitely. The question we should be ask- A Clockwork Orange to Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw ing, though, is “Why?” Massacre, both of which look positively reserved when it comes to Django. The slowly increasing portrayal of Why do we expose ourselves to such savage brutality and anarchic destructiveness has paved the violence, embracing its immorality and bloodthirstiway for Tarentino to indulge his conscious thoughts onto ness? Blaming “popular culture” seems overdone and our screens, thanks to his own messed-up reality and the frankly unconvincing. A far more entertaining argument influence he has gained from the Cinema of a past era. is to consider the witchcraft of Tarentino himself, most prominently in the comedic, dripping glaze of satire that The morals of society have surely changed over smoothes over the extreme gruesomeness. One key the past 50 years, with cinema soaking up the juices left catalyst that has sparked this satirical exuberance within behind, adopting new theories and devising new forms Tarentino’s work lies in his choice of actors. In Pulp Fiction of film to entertain and shock. The capacity to shock will it was Jackson and Travolta, we now see the emergence always make a work of art sell – what is disturbing is of Christophe Waltz. Waltz plays a perfectly delightsimply the lengths to which Tarentino must go to shock ful bounty hunter who would happily take you out for us. Shock, excitement and utter horror have shaped the dinner, treat you to a delicious cheese soufflé, buy you cinema experience for generations, and Django is the champagne and then blow your head off for desert. inevitable conclusion. Tarentino’s marvellous script-writing abilities coupled with some incredibly adept actors mask the violence in a thin veil of acceptability.

Surely you cannot gain pleasure from the sight of

While the horror in Django resembles more of an accident in a Heinz factory than reality, this does not allow for detachment from the explicit nature in which it is applied. The emergence of Django coincides directly with the shootings in America, putting forward the age-old question of whether entertainment based on violence has a direct impact on “real life” behaviour.

nomadic brutality?

Tarentino claims that his work is directly is intended as entertainment, and entertainment alone. The unfortunate implication of this statement is the rather unfavourable light in which it shows the human race. Surely you cannot gain pleasure from the sight of nomadic brutality? Yet we do – Tarentino’s consistent box-office success proves that excitement and gore are what really get us going. Are we twisted? Messed up? Perhaps not all the time, but for some reason when the lights go out and images 27


MUSIC

Never

Break

The Chain

Suzanne Connolly analyses the intent behind the lyrics to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’.

threatened to end their collaboration before it had the chance to really begin.

2013 marks the 35th anniversary of the recording of Fleetwood Mac’s generation-defining album “Rumours”, heralding the chance for them to return once again to the world stage on their upcoming 2013 tour. It is interesting, then, to consider just how “Rumours” revealed in the raw fragility of a band which would go on to have such unlikely longevity. Aspects of fear and change are apparent in almost every song featured on the album, revealing tensions and relationship breakdowns that were occurring within the band at the time the tracks were written and recorded.

As the lyrics show, the song deals with a fear of breaking commitment both to a relationship, as was the case with the inter-band breakups of Nicks and Buckingham alongside the divorce of John and Christine McView, as well as the fear of the breakup of the musical collaboration, shown in the accusatory lines:

Search “Fleetwood Mac The Chain 1982” on YouTube and you’ll come across what is, I find, one of the most emotionally charged live performances ever recorded. What you are watching is not simply a band performing a greatest hit, but a band performing a greatest hit in the midst of several personal crises and unapologetically showing it.

The final chant-like repetition of the line “Chain… Keep us together” provides a sort of mantra for the band at a time of great uncertainty as to their staying together.

“And if you don’t love me now You will never love me again I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain”

Although the history of Fleetwood Mac is much longer and more complex than just “Rumours”, the band itself having several line-up changes before and after, it is undoubtedly this album which established them as one of the greatest bands of the 20th Century and is finding a revived fan-base in the 21st. Lindsey Buckingham ends the intense 1982 live performance of “The Chain” with a few words to the crowd: “a lot of people were wondering what happened to us… Well we’re here to show you that we just refuse to go away”. True to his word, 35 years on Fleetwood Mac are living up to this statement, and “The Chain”, even if they have had more than a few bumps in the road along the way.

The resonance of the song’s lyrics with the band, especially in former romantic partners Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, is evident as they showcase not only their musical talent but manifest within it their lingering tensions through brooding glares, animalistic howls and direct address from one to the other. “The Chain” happens to be the only song credited to all five members, Nicks, Buckingham, Fleetwood, McVie and McVie. Recognisable to many, partly due to the use of the bass solo on Formula 1 coverage, “The Chain” reveals the fears of a band which would profit hugely from the same internal breakdowns which

cccccccccccc 28


LITERATURE

F E A R L E S S Ellie Swire wonders if the archetypal literary hero is as courageous as he seems…

the product of reckless self-confidence – that is, that the hero has through his own volition, opted to go out and slay the dragon / monster / supreme force of darkness – or whether he was always destined to do so, that being his duty he has no choice in the matter.

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid [...] He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honour, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.” Raymond Chandler

But if the latter is the case, then can we suppose our literary heroes (and heroines) to be truly courageous? For if you were always destined to do the deeds required of you, rather than actively seeking to do so, is your heroic bravery somehow compromised? Have you simply fallen into your role as hero, for better or worse, according to the dictates of higher powers?

He may come in a range of shapes and sizes… but take any hero of literature and it is more than likely that he will at least exhibit some, if not all of the above features. Regardless of the vast variations in time, place and the form he takes, the concept of the archetypal hero reflects universal qualities pertinent to all.

And what might be said of the heroes that do admit to FEAR? What of those heroes who are not assured of their own indestructible nature – who experience and articulate terror, trepidation and self-doubt when faced with a dangerous and seemingly impossible situation? Are Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins or any number of our favourite heroes any less heroic for feeling a little jittery about confronting the dark forces of evil?

Yet among the numerous exigencies required of the hero, it is the compulsion to confront difficulty - to venture down those “mean streets”, whether they be in the form of the cave, underwater lair, enchanted castle or far reaches of the universe – that emerges as the most important of heroic virtues. For whatever else the hero may or may not lack, he will almost inevitably be obliged to prove himself through actions or deeds, to undergo tasks that are, by necessity, physically and emotionally demanding.

The answer can perhaps be found in Chandler’s qualification of the hero as a “common man, and yet an unusual man”; that however FEARLESS he is, the hero is ultimately an ordinary being, just like any one of us. And if he is human, then he is capable of possessing human emotion. It is therefore not so much what the hero feels that distinguishes him as a hero, but what he does.

The hero of literature then, is FEARLESS. He needs to be - the challenges he undertakes are enough to strike FEAR into the hearts of many. This is, in some sense, the whole point: by his courage (and with a little help from his gift of superhuman strength; the advice of an elderly, wise mentor; the power of chance magical object or else sheer luck) the hero is marked out as different from everybody else through his ability to successfully complete the task placed before him –the task in which all other have failed.

And if FEARLESSNESS is manifested in action, it therefore likewise does not matter if the hero has chosen to do the tasks asked of him or not; the point is that he does them anyway, which is in itself more than what any one of us could hope to do. As Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “A hero is no braver than the ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer”. That is the ultimate difference.

But in the impulse to achieve lies the question of whether the FEARLESSNESS of the archetypal hero is 29


LITERATURE

Dread

really – must’ve had a couple of drinks himself. I think he might have been muttering something. I need to get these windows double glazed; I’m getting sort of sick of hearing the footsteps of everyone who sidles past my place.

I

A short story by Jake Roper ’ve lived in this house for three years now. It’s a quaint little place – and by ‘little’ I mean ‘cheap’; but the quaint part, I actually mean that. There’s a fireplace in the front room, big plushy chairs to sit in, and a bay window that looks out onto the street. The neighbourhood? Well, it isn’t the classiest place, but I haven’t been burgled – yet. Tonight is a Sunday, just about the most boring day you can imagine.

Inside, I’ve got the fire blazing and something droning away on TV. Some reality show, I think. It’s mainly just for the noise more than anything. We all do that, right? It jumps up the electricity bills and in the end you could just as easily put a CD on or something, but for some reason it always seems, I don’t know, better to have something else there with you … even if it is a bunch of egotistical has-been celebrities.

Usually, my best friend comes over and we share a couple of glasses of something and watch a film together. (S)he called earlier and cancelled though, making this evening about as stimulating as watching paint dry. At least it’s getting dark now; I always feel a little perkier when the sun goes down. Something about the night has always interested me. It’s the way the night air smells, y’know, fresh and crisp. Plus you always get into the best hijinks at night.

Despite all of that, I can still hear something. I can’t quite make out what it is; something close. A creak upstairs, I think; probably just the floorboards shifting about again. My bedroom is directly above this one, so it makes sense that the heat from the fire would do something to the wood. I think I might just open up that bottle of red and have a glass to myself anyway. Anything is better than actually watching this garbage on the box. Two seconds later and I’m back in my comfy armchair, glass in hand, TV controller on the other side of the room – in other words, too far away for me to bother switching the channel over. I take to looking outside instead. There’s that tall man again; he’s still murmuring

I mean, who staggers around bars with their friends in the middle of the day (apart from alcoholics, that is)? While I’m on the subject of staggering, a tall looking man just walked past the window. Well, kind of shuffled past

30


to himself. I wonder if he’s lost, or maybe just completely hammered. Ah, to hell with it. I’ve resigned myself to the fact I’m going to have to get up and grab the controller. I’m going to turn up the volume on the TV.

ing but murk. From here it looks like he’s easily taller than the door of that place – maybe twice as tall. That can’t be right, surely? He’s wearing a coat that comes down to his ankles.

Maybe I ought to shut the curtains? It’s getting more than a little dark out now. I don’t even think the moon or the stars are out tonight. I’ll get up in a min– something else? Upstairs again. More creaks, but in sequence now. Like … no. Well, it’s ridiculous, but like somebody is walking around up there.

I wouldn’t want to be footing his clothes bill, that’s for– Jesus, what was that? I could have sworn I heard an intake of breath. No, that’s stupid; it’s just the house settling. I’ve lived here for three years – you’d think I’d be used to those sorts of sounds by now. It’s stupid I know, but I almost don’t want to look back outside. I mean, what am I, five all over again? To hell with it, I’m looking. The man is gone; guess he was lost after all, or managed to remember where he lives. I think I might actually close my curtains now, rather than just stand around like an idiot. Maybe I’ll go to bed, too.

Obviously, there’s nobody up there. There are always creaks and gurgles in houses, especially ones as old as mine. They happen all the time right? It’s weird, though, when they do; sometimes – I’m not saying all the time – you kind of go back to being a kid, don’t you? You start wondering about this and that, all the same things you used to think about when you wanted to have every limb secured away underneath the covers, just in case something out in the dark grabbed onto whatever you didn’t keep hidden. The same reason why you never used to let your arm hang over the bed.

Right, curtains closed, TV off. The fire has died; a smattering of feeble embers litter the bottom of the grate. Just got to switch the lights off and then I can go upstairs. Just the lights, then. I forgot how silent it gets with that racket switched off. How dark it is in this room without the lights. I can barely see my own hand in front of my face. I’ll just give myself a minute to let my eyes adjust so I don’t fall up the stairs. Right: bedtime. Hold on … I think … yeah: footsteps outside. Are they going past? No. They’ve stopped. Right outside the window. I can see a silhouette on the curtains, except… I can’t see a head. It just bleeds all the way up. And up. There’s that rattling breathing again; it’s too loud to just be the plumbing. And it’s coming from the next room.

Damn, I’m thinking way too much about this. I’ll close the curtains. The streetlights have come on – well, the ones that the local yobs haven’t smashed to pieces, anyway. Wait a sec, is that him again? That tall guy is back, except this time he’s standing across the street. He’s got his back turned to me; I think he’s looking into one of the other houses. My perspective is all messed up though; half the bloody street is noth-

31


ZAHIR

zahir@yusu.org

32

The Zahir Magazine  

The Zahir Magazine. It is in this issue that we explore FEAR and CHANGE, because in every culture there are elements of fear and change, and...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you