Five Get #Cancelled on Social Media: is it okay to enjoy classic children’s stories written by authors who had bigoted views?

Photo by Corrie Barklimore. flickr.com/photos/80144821@N00/2767723506

Last night I broke the lockdown rules, writes Nikita Sharma. I went to a place I have been visiting since I was a child. Kirrin Island. I spent my time jumping over rocks encasing natural pools of crystal-clear water and feeling the soft as powder sand beneath my feet as I explored the castle ruins.

Of course, I wasn’t there physically but who said you couldn’t feel something so vividly so wholly, you feel as if you were truly there?

I think that’s the magic of books. The ability they have to transport you to a different time and different land. That’s what I like best about the children’s books I still keep close to my heart. But whilst reading them in these past few years, I’ve had guilt and outrage swirling inside and then like smoke, hanging over me.

Finding out your favourite childhood authors held racist and sexist views and realising now that they incorporated those views into their writing? It doesn’t feel good. And rereading today, you can see a line here and there not sitting right, suddenly you see the hidden messages and understand the double meanings.

Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl. These were my heroes. Their works are legendary.

It really is upsetting thinking that if I were to meet my favourite childhood writer, they probably wouldn’t like me very much. And the reasons would simply be because of the colour of my skin.

Being a woman of colour, issues like these really mess with my conscience. But I can celebrate the books that mean so much to me without excusing the person behind them

Someone of my generation shouldn’t be enjoying these books after finding out the truth. Nowadays, typed in bold HASHTAG CANCELLED on social media platforms is the only direction you need to know what persons should be avoided. Everything is either black or white. But it was one of the things that welcomed me with a warm embrace. The words called me back.

And it wasn’t just me – millions of others felt it too! Introducing us to a world of giants and witches and made-up nonsense languages to decoding secret messages and catching smugglers; these books had humour and originality, they encouraged us to broaden our imaginations.

So, we have these clearly wonderful pieces of works unfortunately written by problematic people, what do we do? Is this just a case of separating the art from the artist?

Should we even judge people for ideals that were the norm to have ‘back in the day’ with values we hold today? Was Roald Dahl and his anti-Semitism simply a product of his time? These are outdated views, and we must accept that it was a different time.

But this frame of debate takes me back to the essay I was forced to write on Winston Churchill a few years ago. I remember my blood boiling as my teacher chattered about what a great man he was, knowing his racist views and inactions were to blame for the three million people who starved to death during the Bengal Famine.

However, apart from collecting ‘woke points’ on Twitter, holding dead writers accountable isn’t doing much. It gives no productive support to movements and organisations that aim for change. Being a woman of colour, issues like these really mess with my conscience and to ‘forgive and forget’ isn’t something I can apply. But balance is helpful. I can celebrate the books that mean so much to me without excusing the person behind them.

We can enjoy literature and art that have outdated views as long as we accept that they are just that, outdated, while we work towards creating pieces that are tolerant, kind, and fair to all.    And with that, I’ll be off on my next adventure! So long.

ALBUM REVIEW: Murky melodies and melancholic crooning on Carnage, the new release by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Samuel Hornsby reviews ‘Carnage’, the newest musical outing by Australian duo Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Warren Ellis and Nick Cave: Photo by Takahiro Kyono via. Creative Commons

The musical content of ‘Carnage’ swoops in and hovers calmly like a kestrel. It looms there in a desolate sky filled with the haunting sounds of gloomy hope and downcast romance. The album encourages you to gaze upon its twisted beauty, as do I.

It is the first non-soundtrack by the Australian duo Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who had previously worked on the scores for several films together including the epic western ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’, the dystopian survivalist story ‘The Road’ and the gritty Aussie odyssey ‘The Proposition’.

Their first venture into an album of independent vision as a duo is a powerful piece filled with stunning melodies and carefully crafted lyrics. It is peppered throughout with some of the usual markings one may be accustomed to from Nick Cave releases but at the same time remains its own beast thanks to the help of experienced sideman Warren Ellis.

Ellis first began working with Cave in 1993 as a session musician for The Bad Seeds’ album ‘Let Love In’. Soon after he would become a permanent fixture and an integral collaborative force for Cave helping write songs for the band and co-founding the side group ‘Grinderman’.

At this point in time, they feel like equals at their craft. The duo fuse their expertise creating such a well-blended, inventive sound it can often feel like a ballroom dance in which you cannot tell which partner is leading.

The compositions the twosome have conceived are masterfully crafted with layers of dark and murky melodies placed neatly on top of a solid foundation of hypnotising, meditative electronic loops.

This style feels like a natural progression of the sound developed by Cave and Ellis on the previous Bad Seeds album ‘Ghosteen’. The sonic landscape is a clean and ethereal piece of chamber pop with splashes of ambience and the odd jolt of rock poking through in the form of quick snippets of distorted guitars.

As the album progresses, it leads you in to bathe in its placid aural waters, but if you are not careful it will pull you out to lonely depths. Luckily, Cave’s vocal prescience acts as a poetic anchor in the desolate ocean of minimalistic sound.

His voice drips with melancholy as he croons harrowing lines that paint lyrical stories about the touch of the hand of God, crazed men dancing on balconies and a masculinised version of Venus De Milo shooting people with a gun made of elephant tears.

Though often cryptic and surreal, Cave weaves in profound meaning and weight into the songs. He does this by lacing references to current day social issues such as the George Floyd murders which inevitably add a more serious and touching piece of emotion to his lyrical broth.

‘Carnage’ proves to be a triumph for both Cave and Ellis showing they still have the strength of their creativity and talent even as they descend into what one could consider the Autumn of their years. It also proves they can craft excellence as a pair without the direction of a film to guide the music or a wider band to flesh out and form it.

Review: Deranged twists of ‘Behind Her Eyes’ create a hit series

Review by Bintou Secka of 2021 Netflix tv show Behind Her Eyes

Synopsis

The plot of the tv show begins with an introduction to a black British woman named Louise, who lives in London alone in a two bedroom apartment with her son Adam.

From the opening scene the writer makes the viewers aware of the unconditional love Louise has for her son, in fact we get a sense that it is the only thing she cares deeply about.

We are reminded of her unconditional love for her son in the last episode, when we get all the clarity we need, although our minds are still left puzzled.

As viewers we learn a bit about Louise’s character through the six episodes, firstly we are made aware that she has been divorced from her son’s father for three years. However we get a sense that she has not fully moved on with her life, partly from the fact that she is not romantically involved with anyone and is not being open to new people.

However it did not take long for this to change, it only took a dysfunctional married couple to come into her life and change all of that. From our first glimpse at the couple, Adele and David, we get a very strange sense from them, with no knowledge of who they are, we get a clarity that there is something awfully wrong there.

Review

Sarah Pinborough has done an amazing job at creating a tv show that has been the talk of the town, after only a few days this show has managed to land itself on top ten shows on Netflix and as the days go by it gets closer and closer to hitting number one.

From the selection of characters to acting skills, story line, plot, it was all on point. This is the one tv show that everyone can agree the ending got us all thinking WHATT!!!.

Throughout the six episodes there was so much uncertainty, as viewers we were always guessing or eager to find out more, and in that sense Pinborough did an amazing job at finding a way to keep viewers watching.

One detail that deserves to be applauded for this tv show is the fact that it has been set in the most realistic setting, a single mum living in a small apartment somewhere in London with an ordinary life.

And then on the other hand we have a filthy rich couple with a whole lot of secrets buried somewhere. Pinborough has done an amazing job at giving us a balance between reality and fiction.She began with introducing us to Louise, a woman the viewers are familiar with, we all know someone who is like Louise, but then on the other spectrum we have Adele, someone who has some kind of power to control her dreams and make herself appear in places without being seen.

In terms of engagement this tv show definitely did not lack in that department, we witnessed some romance between Louise and David, we witnessed betrayal from David to his wife, but also from Louise as she is meant to be Adele’s best friend but at the same time she is sleeping with her husband behind her back.

In terms of the characters, Louise is portrayed to be a good mum, selfless, funny, real. Adele is presented as a lonely stay-home wife, who is controlled by her husband, unhappy in most aspects and deeply in love with her husband.

And lastly David, from the first time the viewers acknowledged that he was married we got a sense that he was unhappy in his marriage, we later on find out that it’s not that he doesn’t want to leave his wife but he can’t.

Review: Northern Film School’s Shattered is the perfect short piece to be built upon for the silver screen

By Luke Pawley

Leicester-born film producer Oliver Duffy has, alongside colleague Nicholas Teslich, brought to life a spectacular yet horrifying story of the effect the Holocaust had on a young Jewish woman and her family in 1940s Netherlands. 

Northern Film School’s ‘Shattered’ is a film worthy of extrapolation to the big screen.

Ilse (portrayed by Ebony Hiley) is worried about Hitler’s regime when a Nazi officer approaches her on the street and confiscates her bike. What does this mean for her and her brother? 

There is a flow of underlying tension throughout the piece, which is not lost by the short, intricate scenes of dialogue sprinkled either side Ilse and her brother’s bloody, horrific train journey to Auschwitz. 

Duffy and his colleagues – including writer Brogan Waller-Parkinson, director Teresa Moorhead and co-producer Nicholas Teslich – have negotiated the challenges of short film masterfully. 

Once hooked by the neatly told story of the piece, it is hard to believe that the production only runs for 11 minutes. The team behind this film have paid close attention to details, including hair, makeup and costume, which ensure that viewer attention remains unbroken for its duration. 

After bravely surviving the concentration camp for several years, Ilse returns home to have her heart shattered by the revelation that her close friend’s mother betrayed her. 

The final scene is beautifully written and, coupled with a powerful message which appears on screen at the end of the film, provokes a period of thought and reflection for its viewers. 

The final message reads: “This film is dedicated to all those whose lives were shattered during the Holocaust and all genocides since. 

“For those who continue to make a stand against intolerance, bigotry and hate. 

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. 

“Evil does not die.” 

Shattered is an exemplary short film which left a burning desire to see Ilse’s story played out over two hours. This production is the perfect story to be extrapolated onto the silver screen. 

REVIEW: Major League Wrestling Fusion returns after seven-month hiatus

By Oliver Taylor

Alexander Hammerstone, holder of the MLW National Openweight Championship, opened last night’s show. (Photo via Creative Commons)

Major League Wrestling’s flagship show Fusion returned to airwaves last night(WEDNOV18) after the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic prevented the company from taping content for seven months.

It was worth the wait.

Three marquee matches were advertised for the show; MLW National Openweight Championship holder Alexander Hammerstone in action, Myron Reed defending the MLW World Middleweight Championship against Brian Pillman Jr and Jacob Fatu defending the MLW World Heavyweight Championship against Davey Boy Smith Jr in the main event.

By having two major championship matches on its return show, as well as Hammerstone in a non-title bout, MLW immediately set the tone for the restart. Big stars, big matches, big stakes.

Hammerstone began the show with a dominant 20-second victory against an enhancement talent following a devastating Nightmare Pendulum manoeuvre.

Hammerstone grabbed a microphone from ringside to discuss his long-standing status at the top of the MLW rankings and re-iterated his desire to challenge for the MLW World Heavyweight Championship.

“Fatu! It’s time to stop running,” he warned. “It’s time to give the people the fight that they want to see! I’m waiting on you.”

Reed versus Pillman Jr for the MLW World Middleweight Championship was second on the card. The duo first had an altercation last December and this match was the culmination of an 11-month rivalry.

Reed made his fourth successful defense of the championship after 11 minutes and 17 seconds. It was a past-faced, competitive match until Pillman Jr drove his knee into Reed’s loaded chest protector, giving Reed the window he needed to secure victory.

Backstage, Reed challenged new MLW signing Lio Rush to a future match. Rush was released by WWE in April and is a great addition to MLW’s middleweight division, offering legitimate name value and exciting in-ring ability.

The full bracket was then revealed for the 2020 Opera Cup. The Opera Cup, revitalised last year, is a new annual tournament competed under single-elimination rules with an eight-man bracket. The winner receives a future opportunity at the MLW World Heavyweight Championship.

On the left side of the bracket, Tom Lawlor faces Rocky Romero from New Japan Pro Wrestling and ACH faces Laredo Kid from Lucha Libre AAA World Wide.

On the right side, 2019 tournament winner Smith Jr faces Low Ki in a rematch from last year’s first round and Richard Holliday faces TJP.

MLW competitors Dominic Garrini, Gino Medina, Jordan Oliver, Hijo de L.A. Park and King Mo and AAA’s Daga were named as tournament alternates.

As mentioned before, Smith Jr won last year’s Opera Cup to earn the right to challenge Fatu. Stakes were raised in May when Fatu and the rest of CONTRA Unit – a villainous group dubbed as global merchants of violence – attacked Smith Jr backstage causing a (storyline) broken back.

MLW owner Court Bauer revealed in press interviews that Fatu versus Smith Jr was tentatively planned to headline a pay-per-view event in the famous 2300 Arena in Philadelphia in July. However, the event has been rescheduled to April 10 next year due to the pandemic.

Choosing to air the match on the return of Fusion, largely available to fans worldwide for free on YouTube, this further affirms MLW’s commitment to providing fans with pay-per-view calibre matches straight out of the gate.

After 10 minutes and 22 seconds of hard-hitting action, Fatu made his sixth successful defense of the MLW World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall following his patterned Moonsault.

With Smith Jr set to become a free agent next month (a fact Bauer has confirmed in multiple interviews) and Fatu signed with the company until late 2025, perhaps real life circumstances served as a hint of what was to come on-screen.

Fatu grabbed a microphone from ringside and responded to Hammerstone’s earlier claims: “Hammerstone! Your b***h a** don’t want none of this, you better get right! Hail CONTRA!”

Unsurprisingly, Hammerstone did not let Fatu’s remarks go unanswered and came out to confront him. However, before he could reach the ring, he was attacked by CONTRA’s newest member Logan Creed to close out the episode.

Overall, the episode succeeded in concluding existing storylines while also creating new ones. Reed defeated Pillman Jr in a good match and immediately challenged Rush. It only seems a matter of time until Hammerstone and Fatu collide in a monstrous clash, perhaps with both championships on the line.

The Opera Cup also offers interesting matchups and various interpromotional possibilities. It will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.

With Calvin Tankman’s debut set for next week as well as Lawlor versus Romero and Holliday versus TJP in first round matches, MLW’s electric restart does not seem to be running out of power anytime soon.