David Thompson


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October 22, 2019



Not being a Murcan, I have no affinity for halloween but on the topic of 'blackface' I urge patrons to check out this site and its charming presents for younger friends and relatives.



Re: the BBC and thing things it does to drama.

I recently watched the first series of the much-adored Killing Eve*. It is highly entertaining - great acting and it's funny too - but is also an interesting example of a woman writing in what is normally a man's genre. Viewed as a spy series, it is absolute tosh. The plot makes almost no sense, there is zero attempt to make any of the secret service professionals act in even a rational way, never mind how actual professionals would behave. It's just a big emotional drama with added violence. The creative assassinations are - I think - lifted from the books the series is based on.

Not necessarily saying this as a criticism, but it is interesting how differently the genre is approached.

*Written by Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I'm a fan; sucker for a posh girl.

Captain Nemo

[W]e must no longer be allowed to experience the past unedited

Yes, that. I have thought for some time the only history that we are allowed to experience is the one a narrow clique of writers, directors, and casting editors wishes we had, as opposed to the one we actually had. Modern words and ideas in the mouths of people who would have found such views anathema. Modish forced diversity in casting, too. Not all the time, I have to say, and certain networks and writers are better at it than others. For instance my mother enjoys watching a rather soap-ish ITV drama series about the life of Queen Victoria. One of the things I've noticed they've got reasonably correct, after watching a couple of episodes, is that all the characters played by ethnic minority actors were real people, and around at the time - the actor Ira Aldridge, a couple of abolitionist former slaves, for instance - and as a consequence their presence isn't as jarring as it sometimes is in other historical dramas.


sucker for a posh girl.

I believe the preferred term is posh bird.

Or quality totty.




GandalFish said "The comments at SteveGW’s podcast link are horrifying. Nothing witty can help."

GandalFish Johnson is right about SteveGW Johnson's link comments. From the top comment (emphasis mine):

And why would supposedly 'sapient' creatures act with such suicidal fervour? Because 'the Right' is simply a euphemism. Here we deal with creatures who, for pathopsychological reasons, hate other people

I fear we've crossed the Rubicon and this clownery will only end with blood spilled by the barrel. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.


"The comments at SteveGW’s podcast link are horrifying. Nothing witty can help."

Yet some admirable soul named Joel gives it the old college try. God bless him.

Quite wrong Joel-numerous scientists, particularly those expert in Arctic studies and who know that a massive eruption of c.50 gigatons of methane from frozen submarine clathrates (equivalent to ALL the CO2 released in the last 200 years in heat-absorbing terms)is becoming ever more likely, have stated that our situation is terminal. One need not refer to the likes of Guy McPherson, whose science has not been refuted, but whose pessimistic realism has raised hackles, with their bleak vision.

The truth is that the forcing of atmospheric greenhouse gases in the last 200 years is the largest and most rapid that we know of, even greater than that which caused the End Permian 'Great Dying'. Four of the five mass extinction events in planetary history have pretty confidently been ascribed to initial forcings of greenhouse gases causing a warming that destabilises methane clathrates, leading to a hot-house Earth, warming oceans, collapsing oceanic circulation, de-oxygenation and overgrowth of anaerobes belching hydrogen sulphide. No amount of ideologically driven denialism will avert that extinction scenario, although I am with those who characterise this cataclysm as a 'mass extermination' event, to give due regard to its deliberate nature, driven by human greed and contempt for Life on Earth.

What can you say about that? YOLO? If you took all the Paul Ehrlichs that the environmental wackos have given us and placed them end-to-end, they would stretch from here to the end of the universe and fill up the black hole in space.*

*Bar tab on me if you know from whom/where I cribbed that.


Not being a Murcan ...

I bought a golly a few years ago from a rather bizarre department store in a coastal Essex town that time seems to have forgotten. I confess to feeling a certain frisson while making the purchase.


all the characters played by ethnic minority actors were real people, and around at the time - the actor Ira Aldridge, a couple of abolitionist former slaves, for instance - and as a consequence their presence isn't as jarring as it sometimes is in other historical dramas.

The game being played is that it's hard to avoid thinking that what you're seeing on the screen is representative of its historical period.

This game has become especially frequent with the shift in the immigration argument from "monoethnic England needs diversity" to "only racists believe England was ever monoethnic". Under the former argument, it's accepted as representative and normal that your grandparents could have gone for a night out at the theatre without seeing a single non-white face, and what a pity it was that they didn't have more vibrancy. Under the latter argument, it needs to become unthinkable that there was ever a time in England when a white person could sit in a theatre or a school or a bus that only had other white people in it.

So when characters in BBC costume dramas go to the theatre, the featured actor will just happen to be Ira Aldridge. And you can expect that all the i's will be dotted on the historical details so that any racist objections can be "destroyed" on Twitter.

And anyone who objects to the representativeness will be told that Ira Aldridge had been scandalously written out of theatrical history and is now being given only the prominence he deserves. To get a measure of this prominence, now that we've heard of Ira Aldridge, how many other 19th century actors (leaving aside John Wilkes Booth) can an average person name? I think I'm doing well to be able to come up with Tyrone Power the minus 3rd and some guy called Irving. If it was really the intention of the BBC that we educate ourselves about 19th century theatre, we'd need to learn about hundreds of white men and white women before we got to Ira Aldridge.


Et tu, Oxford?


The Oxford story is mildly disingenuous.

We have two Unions - one that is basically a debating and social club and one that is political. You can guess now in which ways they lean. The latter, the actual SU, are the group that have put this motion through but they never used to run (popular) events, so it will barely affect anyone outside of a small clique.

The photos of celebrations such as matriculation etc in various articles will not be affected as, soundly, the academics pay about that much attention to either. That's the heavy lifting that the last paragraph is doing.


You can guess now in which ways they lean.

Makes me feel a bit better. But I worry about it metastasizing to the other parts of the institution, since that seems to be the usual pattern.


If you can read this, you might be a racist.

Daniel Ream

Modish forced diversity in casting, too.

As a big fan of Les Inseparables I was nonplussed to discover that, according to the BBC, D'Artagnan was Desi and Porthos half-black.

Also apparently Achilles and Zeus were black.

I'm sympathetic to the notion that the average Briton doesn't look much like the average Bronze Age Achaean to start with, but there's a line.

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