Peter Gabriel points out something that very few of the stories about Nelson Mandela’s passing are focusing on: reconciliation. In a world where there’s so much recrimination, so much anger, so much partisan fighting, bickering and warfare, we have just lost a man who reconciled with those who not only put him in prison but who ran a system of government that systematically brutalized and murdered thousands and thousands of black South Africans.
Think about what that took. What strength of character he must have had to endure decades of brutal imprisonment only to emerge, lead his people to freedom, become the president of a new South Africa and lead a process of reconciliation. Truly an amazing man.
Well, we all knew this was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less gut-wrenching. He had been in and out of the hospital for months with numerous infections, but after the life he led and all of the adversities he overcame, I bet I’m not the only one who had a little secret part of his brain where the idea of an immortal Nelson Mandela took root.
The 1986 Anti-Apartheid march in New York City was the first real political event that my father and I attended together and it was a galvanizing moment not just for myself, but for tens of thousands of others. I had just graduated high school, bound for a liberal arts school in Massachusetts and in the mid-late 1980’s, you were hard-pressed to find a campus without a home-made shanty, without divestment protests and without Nelson Mandela’s face adoring dorm rooms across campus.
Also in the 80s, Ska was making one of its regular comebacks dubbed (pun intended) the 2 Tone sound, it was rife with political and integrationist feelings, hence the black and white imagery. One of the songs that helped raise the profile of Mandela and the Anti-Apartheid movement was “Free Nelson Mandela,” by The Special AKA:
Mandela was one for the ages. An inspiration for countless millions, even billions and someone who achieved the rarest of heights: Worldwide recognition for all the right reasons. We will never see the likes of him again.
Director: Steve McQueen
Screenwriters: Enda Walsh and Steve McQueen
Producer: Laura Hastings-Smith and Robin Gutch
Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt BSC
Editor: Joe Walker
Music: David Holmes with Leo Abrahams
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon UK-Ireland, 2008, 96 minutes
The double meaning in this astonishing film’s title refers to both the hunger for food as well as for freedom. The prisoners in this factually-based and brutally realistic film are starved for both.
In 1981, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the UK government was imprisoning IRA members but refusing to give them political prisoner status. As a result a group detained at the HM Prison Maze (aka Long Kesh), led by Bobby Sands, went on “blanket protest” which basically meant refusing prison uniforms. This led to them being exposed to almost unimaginably horrendous conditions and as well as to a series of violent repercussions.
The film, the first directed by British multi-media artist Steve McQueen, opens with a middle aged man beginning his day. Much of his initial behavior seems mundane; getting dressed and being served toast & tea by his wife. But then we see him soaking his bloodied and swollen knuckles in the bathroom sink; and, just before he drives off to work, he kneels down to look under his car for a bomb. This man turns out to be prison guard, Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham). The film’s narrative is confusing at first; we assume that the story will be about this wounded individual. We also assume that he is carrying around fear, guilt and grief since he works in such a brutal environment. Surely he must feel ambivalent about his job.
To hell with machine guns, these bikini girls got trombones!
This is one of the craziest things I’ve seen in quite some time, but what are you gonna do? You gotta stand out somehow, right? I give you: Futomomo Satisfaction and, believe it or not, a cover of the Ramones!! Catch them this March at South by Southwest!
In the “Are You Fucking Kidding Me?” department, we have the following item culled from Variety.com:
The mayor of an oil-producing city in southeastern Turkey, which has the same name as the Caped Crusader, is suing helmer Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. for royalties from mega-grosser The Dark Knight.
No, I did not make that up.See for yourself.
What’s next? New York City sues Martin Scorsese? Perhaps everyone named “Simpson” sues Fox and Matt Groening? Maybe the state of Indiana should sue Spielberg, Lucas, Ford and Paramount.