It’s Hard To Find A Universal Bad Guy

And this is a real problem for the entertainment industry – particularly the television and movie ones that hope to make money.

The audiences for the visual stories are all over the world today; the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia. And Manangatang. A bid to get them to watch some action thriller needs to have a good guy who triumphs and a bad guy who dies – but it is awkward trying to place praise and blame these days – everyone wants their country/culture/religion to be on the good side. Few accept being cast as villains…or worse – as savages. Even if they have been eating raw human livers until last Tuesday they still want to be seen as modern, cool, and sophisticated.

As a practical illustration, who would you portray as baddies; the Chinese or the Japanese? Depends entirely on which century you’re filming, which decade, which war, or which government. And where you expect to sell the most screenings.

That idea gets even murkier for other countries in the Asian market: Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, or any one of the numerous Koreas. They are all sensitive people who try to be polite and never cause trouble to each other unless they’re sure they can get away with it.

So no Asian villains. Russians? Well, Slavs in general are angered by any suggestion that they are not peace-loving, and they have the tanks and anti-aircraft batteries to back that up with. Plus they may have invested heavily in the film production company. It’s safer to have babushka dolls and balalaika music and let it go at that.

Jews and Muslims? Israelis and Arabs? Well, there you go. Choose your side and whoever is on the other one is wrong…but if you want to sell your film in their cinema you can’t say that.

Of course you can always go the classics: Kaiser Wilhelm II if your audience is into period films and smart enough to tell the difference between Wilhelm and Edward VII. Even there the German audience will boo you out as they know the truth about Willi and Eddy.

Hitler? Good choice. Nothing there to like…but you can’t add him to every film or people will start to realise that you have run out of ideas.

The Americans? Well, you can sell them as enemies to the UK, Canada, Australian and New Zealand, and any other former allies – they’ll accept the idea. Bit awkward if you need them again, but if push comes to shove you can always destroy the video tapes. And blame the CIA. Or General Lee.

Or you can get Mike Myers to be evil. He’s Canadian so it’s easy.

The Celebrity Strip Stripped Naked

I read a number of comic strips every day – they are a wonderful antidote to the miseries of the news broadcasts. They do reflect these – comedy can be made out of tragedy. Some try harder than others…and some get it wrong.

”  Least I Could Do ” is a satirical strip detailing life from the point of view of a narcissistic young man in the USA. He has a splendid job, forgiving friends, and long-suffering relatives and partners. He is selfish, funny, and stupid from day to day.

The strip is written by one man, drawn by another, and marketed by a small team who tour comic conventions and sell all the merchandise that this sort of success produces. Normally I enjoy it and would pass most of its foibles by as legitimate humour.

Not today -The writer and the artist have conflated the service personnel of the US, Great Britain, and Canada who participated in the D-Day Normandy landings and the defeat of the Wehrmacht with the current band of political terrorists, Antifa.

Poor form, poor thinking, and poor taste. An unnecessary venture into politics by people who really should know better – the writer and the artist. They’ll sneer and jeer and start off on another smarmy theme shortly, using the comic strip character to mouth their opinions – but they have done the real WWII veterans no service  – nor have they rendered it to their poor torn country

Shame on them.

Victorian Vulgarity

I hasten to add that I am not referring to the Australian state of Victoria. It is not a vulgar place – far from it. I am thinking of the instances of vulgar behaviour that pop up in Victorian novels and that are so disparaged by the heros and heroines of these books.

It seems that it was very easy to be vulgar in Victorian England. All one needed to do was be from the continent or North America, be in trade, or be poorer than the main focus of the story. Ethnic birth ensured it – Jew, Hindu, or Muslim – all were irretrievably vulgar in the British eye and the British novelists made sure that their readers knew it.

I may have made a slight error when I said that vulgarity came with poverty. Not if the pauper was an Anglican clergyman or a female member of his family. That was impoverished gentility, and to be pitied…from a distance. The Catholics – Irish, French, or Italian as they might be, were vulgar to a soul.

Vulgarity could also be assigned to the rich, if there was no prospect of getting any of their money. August Melmotte in Trollope’s novel ” The Way We Live Now ” comes to mind.

I am so glad that we have advanced past these days and that now there is a universal brotherhood and sisterhood of tolerance and kindness. If only we could get these damn foreigners to kneel in the street when they pass our cap, eh?

If It’s Going To Fight Us…

MAKE IT FIGHT ALL OF US.

A paraphrase of a  wartime poster that pomoted unity in the Allied countries. And a damn good slogan for right now.

Get together with someone else who is alive right now and do what you can to keep them alive. If you are required to be in isolation – stay in isolation. If they are, figure out some way to make sure that they have what they need to be safe.

Don’t be a hoarder. Don’t be a chazer. Don’t take where you don’t need.

Don’t waste. Don’t squander. Don’t consume when you don’t need to. Don’t travel when it’s not essential.

It’s war – germ war. Death is coming. Austerity is coming. Fight the germ – not each other.

The enemy is not human, but you can be.

What Is Your Regimental March?

It seems that every regiment in the Russian or Austrio-Hungarian Army had a regimental march – also every one in the British Army. That may have changed , but it has left us with a legacy of show tunes that can move aheavily-armed chorus line past a reviewing stand in three minutes.

Other armies have a repertoire of march tunes but don’t assign them regimentally – they can be used for different occasions by different bands. Of the two approaches, I favour the first, as it leads to a greater variety of music.

In civilian life there must also be occasions when a good march would be a real help to the day. Uplifting moments or times when you just want to get down and invade Belgium. We need civilian marches made to order. And not just pop tunes and ear-worms. Proper pieces of music about 3 minutes long that can get us through the crowds of other punters at the football or the local shopping centre. An insistent internal rhythm and regular pace can actually clear a way faster than a bulldozer.

For myself, I use three: The Königratzer or Preußen Gloria for faster movement or Le Boudin for slower crowds. The other people cannot hear the music but I can, and as long as I am marching in time with it I can dodge and move with precision. I will occasionally whistle but this may mean nothing to them.

What music do you march to?

 

The National Day

On the national civic* day – 26th of January – we had become accustomed in the past few years to being bombarded by ambitious politicians, academics, and advertisers for their various purposes. In many cases this was driven by lust for power and money. At least when the CWA and local kindergarten were involved.

Then there was a spate of excoriating those with European background for not being Australian enough. Or for being British. Every sin and misery for the past two hundred -odd years was seeded home to the Dreadful British and compensation demanded. Compensation, guilt, and obeisance. If you couldn’t manage the guilt and obeisance, at least cough up the money…the lawyers had sent in their bill.

Arrived late? Not British? Never had a hand in oppressing anyone? No matter. As long as you had money they’d let you on the tumbril.

However.

This year it seemed to be different. Very few ambitious local councillors fronted the television cameras weeping. Few calls for the scrapping of the day emerged, and those that were repeated came from the established disestablishment. Most people seemed set to do their citizenship ceremonies, watch the fireworks, get drunk and sunburned, and let it go at that.

My local hobby club even garnered an award from the city of Bayswater for not being as dangerous as they might have been. I shall share in the honours as long as there is cake and coffee involved.

*  The national military day is later in the year and it will have it’s own set of special detractors – though oddly enough there will be many of the same names bitching about the past then as do now.

We Need A New National Flag

One that reflects the fact that we have stopped being a country that takes its instructions and orders from Great Britain and now takes them from someone else. The main problem will be to decide who this currently is.

The United States has less influence here than heretofore. The careful work of the Soviet Union in propaganda from 1945 to 1989 and China in industrial seduction from 1973 to now has weaned us away from much of the companionship we once had.

Europe has emigrated since the 40’s, of course, but done so wisely – leaving the poorer relations back home in the mud and stepping out to cleaner ground here. The descendents of those early migrants go visit the various Old Countries whenever the dollar peaks and the Euro descends, but they keep a tight clutch on their Australian passports as they do so. They ain’t dumb.

South Asia would like to come to visit, and then stay, and largely do… It is rare to see them pulling up Australian stakes to go back to any part of the subcontinent, islands, or archipelagos unless they have been naughty or unwise whilst here. For the most part they are content to live peaceably, knowing what life there was compared to life here.

Ditto South and Central America, though I am not sure about this. I see the occasional migrants who work hard and do very well. Did we have a common border with them we might see very different characters present themselves for emigration…but the Pacific Ocean is wider than the Rio Grande and no-one has yet swum the entire thing. Perhaps it will come if Greta Thunberg cannot hitch a boat ride to Sydney…

To deal with the flag again, I think we will just have to go with the design featured in the heading image. I researched the composition of the Australian population and the flags of the constituent migrants as well as the local indigenous people and combined the symbols of their various faiths, political parties, families, and diseases and got a shade of grey. The shape of the new flag is still under debate, but the design bureau suggested a light portion for night and a dark one for day would look well. See what you fancy.

1. Sex 2. Drugs 3. Rock And Roll

4. Driver’s license.

5. Diploma.

6. University  fees.

7. Textbooks.

8.  Accommodation.

9. Food.

10. Laundry.

11. New clothing.

12. Medical expenses.

13. Degree.

14. Job applications.

15. Relocation expenses.

16. Taxes.

17. Housing.

Welcome to the world of adulting, teenage justice warrior. You may not have time to march in front of the state legislature/parliament house/television cameras/iphones of your friends for some time as you are now required to show up and do something worth getting paid for. Hint: keep your receipts and pay slips as you’ll need them to pay your taxes. If you do not wish to pay taxes remember that there is always the Al Capone Option. They have closed Alcatraz but Leavenworth is still going…

You may note that I have left out marriage and babies from the list. You’ll learn about them when you grow up.

 

Experience Is No Substitute For Righteousness!

And don’t you forget it, Grandad. Don’t try that old business about having seen it all before just because you did actually see it all before. If I didn’t think of it after watching YouTube, it doesn’t count.

And don’t try rolling your eyes at me, old man. None of that senior sarcasm or you’ll be sent to your room with no supper. Wait? What do you mean it’s your food? Just because you’ve paid for it and cooked it and served it at your own table doesn’t mean you have a right to enjoy it if I disapprove. There are principles involved and the main one is I am young and right and you are old and wrong. And I am the judge of it all…I’ve got the internet.

And in a few years I’ll be able to vote and drink beer and smoke cigarettes and get the dole and post angry memes on social media whenever I want to. I got rights.

Hyphenate For Fun And Profit

Are you bored? Is the pace of daily life getting you down? Has all the Zip gone out of your Zipcode? Well do what trend-setting modern royalty do – hyphenate your name!

You don’t even have to actually be connected to a royal family – or a noble one – or any family whatsoever. In fact, if you have barred your door to all your relatives, hyphenating your name can be a fun way of sniping at them from cover.

Heretofore the hyphenated name was used by European nobility to notify their peasants that two groups of overlords were combining by marriage and that revolution was a bad idea because now there were two lots of armed guards on call. It worked well, and social media influencers ( aka priests and scribes ) were paid to insist that this gave greater dignity and legitimacy to the ruling classes.

It became such a sign of status that lower-born types also decided to adopt it. In Great Britain it became somewhat of a rage in the Victorian era as newly-rich landowners and ironmasters lumped together whatever surnames they had been given to make new imperial ones. The advent of Wilhelmine Germany and the realisation by the British ruling monarchy that that was, indeed, their circus and those were, indeed, their monkeys, led to the Anglicisation of Battenburg to Mountbatten and the brigading of the thing to the location of one of the castles – Windsor. Largely a public relations move, it was probably unnecessary as the British could have been counted on to die for the Manchester Board of trade or the London Stock Exchange just as well.

But what of today? If you have a reasonably presentable name like Smith and have contracted marriage or a social disease with a person named Jones you may apply to a magistrate to have it changed to a joint Smith-Jones….though the beak will probably smile at your folly. Don’t smile back. If you have a perfectly reasonable Indian name like Bhattacharyya and fall in love with a Finkleberg you can also brigade up the two but expect a louder guffaw from the magistrate. And from everyone else. Humans can be like that.

So ask yourself….

Will your new surname be a help to you in life? If you expect it will gain you admission to the Old Boy network if you are not one…no. The Old Boys and Old Girls know their own and guard the compound gates zealously.

Will it look well on a book cover? ” Tales Of Death And Bloodletting For The Shut-in ” will sell well in Japan but you need a local author’s name as part of it – consider marrying a Japanese person.

Will you be forever leaning over a clerk’s counter correcting their spelling of it? Wladislxvch Wczyzchchev-Prmzelyic led a life of hell when he moved to the Dutch East Indies…

Finally, think through your amours carefully before the first button is undone. If your surname is Getts and hers is Tuft, you would do well to shake hands now and part before morning.