Monthly Archives: December 2014
Acclaimed actress Billie Whitelaw, famous for her roles on stage and screen, has died at the age of 82.
The Coventry-born star, who was made a CBE in 1991, worked in close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, who described her as a perfect actress.
She died in the early hours of Sunday at a nursing home in London, her son Matthew Muller told the BBC.
“I could not have asked for a more loving mum,” he said.
“She had an incredible career – but first and foremost she was my mum – and that’s who I will miss,” he added.
Plus Joe Cocker.
By Fareed Zakaria Opinion writer December 18
Now that U.S. intelligence officials believe that North Korea was behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the discussion has finally moved away from e-mails about Angelina Jolie to the real story, which is far more troubling. One of the nastiest regimes in the world effectively threatened to launch terrorist attacks in the United States if an artistic work was shown publicly. And, stunningly, almost everyone involved has caved.
Imagine that the Iranian government had threatened a terrorist attack on U.S. soil if, say, a book were about to be released that parodied its supreme leader. Would we not regard this as an intolerable surrender to threats of terrorism and a violation of core principles such as freedom of speech? In fact, a somewhat similar situation did arise in the fatwa pronounced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Salman Rushdie because of the author’s 1988 book “The Satanic Verses.” And much of the free world — although certainly not all — defended Rushdie’s right to write a satirical, even inflammatory, book about Islam and its prophet.
Yet when faced with the Sony movie “The Interview,” the reaction has been much different. After the largest U.S. theater chains said they would delay the film’s opening, Sony announced that it would officially cancel the Dec. 25 release. Other movie studios did not rally behind Sony. (In fact, Deadline magazine reported Wednesday that another movie set in North Korea, a thriller starring Steve Carell, had been canceled.) The stars of “The Interview” canceled their media appearances.
It could be said that this movie is just a comedy. But Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” was also a comedy satirizing an evil maniac, Adolf Hitler. And it is worth remembering that, when Chaplin’s movie was being made in the late 1930s, Neville Chamberlain’s government wanted to ban its distribution in Britain in service of its policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany. By the time the movie was released in 1940, Britain was at war with Germany, and everything had changed.
Why does a terrorist threat from North Korea produce appeasement, whereas threats from Islamic terrorists produce courage, defiance and resilience? I suspect it’s because we are fully aware of the barbarism of jihadi terrorists. But we tend to think of North Korea in somewhat comical terms — the odd dictators with their strange haircuts; the weird, synchronized mass adulation in stadiums; the retro-propaganda and rhetoric.
In fact, North Korea is one of the world’s most repressive and brutal dictatorships. Estimates are that it abducted thousands of people from neighboring countries following the Korean War, allowed 1 million to 2 million of its own people to starve in a famine in the 1990s and currently imprisons about 100,000 people in labor camps. The United Nations appointed a panel to investigate the human rights situation in North Korea; its report, released in February, paints a picture of a regime that has no parallel in the scale of its systematic cruelty and oppression.
The challenge that movie studios and theaters face is real because they have to balance freedom of expression with safety and commerce. But they have made a mistake. I understand it well. In 2009, Yale University Press published a book on the Danish cartoon controversy but refrained from publishing the actual — offending — cartoons (of the prophet Muhammad) because of fears of retaliation and violence. As a trustee of the university, I was asked to defend the decision (one I would not have made). Swayed by my concerns for an institution I love deeply and a group of administrators I respect greatly, I made a statement supporting the university’s actions that I have always deeply regretted. The right response then and now must be to affirm freedom of expression.
The U.S. government has to find a way to respond to this act of aggression on American territory. If not, North Korea will have gotten away with its worst cyberattack to date, as well as the most brazen threat of terrorism in recent times. In its triumph, it will be emboldened. And surely groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State will note that the way to scare countries into submission is to threaten these very kinds of attacks. At that point, the story will be about much more than a Hollywood comedy.
Grateful for a life well lived – thank you !
Obrigado por uma vida bem vivida, obrigado !
Photo: “All Strange Away” (Samuel Beckett) world premiere La MaMa Jan 4, 1984
(not in a good mood to write something down)
I was feeling great about the ‘organic’ outburst and public revolt against the system. This began 3 days ago when the “Grand Jury” in Staten Island, decided not to indict the police officers responsible for Eric Garner’s BRUTAL death.
But what system is being questioned during the marches? Where exactly is the strategy?
Yet, I’m almost sure that we’re on the verge of a major, MAJOR turn (for the better) of the Civil Rights Movement. Almost sure. Occupy Wall Street fizzled away and became a fart in the forest.
This is the 3rd night of protesting in the streets of all major American cities, but I’m marching and responding to the media on my speed dial, here in New York. So, I’ll stick to NY.
The question is: what system (exactly which one?) are we marching PRO or against? Or is the burning and looting in Ferguson (as it was in Los Angeles after Rodney King) a more, say, organic form of public furor?
Is it about the abuse of force and power used against Garner (“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”), or is it about the entire Department of Justice handling of these cases, i.e. unarmed black men being killed for no apparent reason. Or is it about this entire dysfunctional Judicial System which seems to work only when it gets to the Supreme Court in D.C. ?
No, we can’t simply sit by and watch this stuff, silently and in the isolation of our comfortable homes. Of course not!
Yet, how many canonizations and sanctifications of heroic children and parents of “angelical victims” will we see on camera? I mean, how many daughters of Eric Garner will rise to instant fame and WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY EXPECTED TO SAY? Like….. what? Will they write editorials for the New York Times? Will Michael Brown’s stepdad or dad or mother…. will they all be a commentators for some major channel because he shouted – BURN THIS BITCH DOWN !!! ???
People are FURIOUS! Yes. And, as a very dear and close friend of mine said today: “Lobbyists in Washington – how can we allow this to go on?”. She is totally right! I replied, cynically: “Do you have a better alternative for capitalism? I don’t”. I guess I regret that remark. But what else?
JUMP out of our windows with the daily THREATS that our countries are under some imminent “obscure foreign’ terror attack?… Or… lone wolves motivated by radicals? What exactly does “Be Careful Out There mean? A pile of crap. That is what it means.
CHEAP FUCKING SENSATIONALISM!!!
Garner’s death made it big. Bigger even than Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. But there was AMPLE VIDEO taped evidence to support the absurdity!
And now? HUNDREDS of talking heads on cable TV (yes, my beloved CNN) are EXPLOTING this subject, squeezing every drop out of this dry ice machine, inciting it, inflaming it, putting on hundreds of pastors, former NYPD officers, Mayors, former Mayors, FBI analysts, former this, former that, talking their heads off as if a preset agenda was put on the calendar.
YES, it is highly charged and politicized.
And I wonder. No pun intended but news is no news to me: and, while I do love Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Brook Baldwin and….Christiane Amampour (what isn’t there to like? They’re great editorialists and reporters. BUT !!!
Wait a second…. When I see the cameras SEARCHING for pockets of demonstrators (in the rain) and ZOOMING in, commanding their ‘field reporters’ to interview A, B or C whilst mingling amidst the crowd is simply: FISHING for non existent news!!!!
Zoom into 20 and you’ll get 200. Zoom into 200 and you’ll get the ‘feel’ of 2 thousand and so on.
…And to MAKE IT LOOK AS IF THEY’RE HUUUGEEE???? PLEASE! I marched with ONE MILLION in London in early 2003, against the UK joining Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Did we succeed? No, Blair joined Bush and LOOK AT the fucking mess!!!
I was 14 years old (and in Tennessee) when MLK was assassinated – or Bob Kennedy or Malcolm X and so many Civil Rights Leaders of all causes being trampled upon, being a source of news, just as Lee Harvey Oswald was to Sir Walter Cronkite!
What springs to mind, immediately, is Jon Stewart and his Daily Show’s cynicism. “Sir” Charles Barkley on one channel calling himself “black”, others are merely African Americans and some are called : People of Color!!!
My daughter is black. And I’m an absent but proud father, given that my theatrical work takes me to different parts of the world, all the time.
John Stewart has a Google Alert on Wolf Blitzer. This Augsburg / Buffalo born or raised human drone with his horrible voice is one of these unfriendly predators who FEAST on other people’s disgrace (oops! But he has great ‘contacts’ in Congress and the Senate sitting there, almost shouting loudly from his (laugh, please!) his…. “Situation Room” (what a joke), yes, he can get Rand Paul and Hillary to weigh in and he can….(oh, forget it).
This is NOT great reporting (in the sense that Fareed Zackaria IS). This is NOT great stuff, in the sense that Richard Quest or Amampour is. This is predatory shit will, eventually, create the usual exhaustion about each subjects covered: be it the ISIS question, the whatever question and now, the tape of a dying soul in the streets of Staten Island.
Yes, I have the option of turning off my TV, were it not for the bombardment on Twitter, Facebook and personal emails and phone calls, texting, all screaming out (or coming out of the closet….): JUSTICE!!!!!
I could switch channels and go in for a night of SVU back to back on the USA Channel or….whatever system depicts cops as heroes or cops as crooks or the entire intelligence community being put at risk by twits like Ed Snowden who chose to release documents ONLY about US surveillance – and NOT China, NOT Russia or any other European country other than the United Kingdom. Cowards. Cowards and predators!
This is a fart in the dark.
This will not create a dent in the media circus which, 20 years ago, as shown by the abusive coverage of the O J Simpson trial, makes heroes out of idiots and….vice versa.
PS: I could bet a million that 40% of those people out there don’t give a flying shrimp about Garner, Brown or Martin. What they want is a chance to fight their hormonal bursts. Action. The same action that these Western jihadists get when fighting on behalf of a terrorist organization. Only…without the gang hunger for … beheadings!!!!
A few thousands is good. Not enough. Millions would be better. 300 million; fantastic. But to march-while-search for answers? SHOUT question marks, dudes! Question marks leaves everyone on a constant vigil and not ONLY when a poor soul is dead.