Heresy of the Week – The Wicker Man remake is a work of genius

how'd it get burnt

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

Though widely decried as a weird, disorganised, unnecessary mess of a film, the Nicholas Cage remake of The Wicker Man in fact knows exactly what it is doing. It is not only a good film, but actually exemplifies everything which a remake needs to be in order to have any hope of success.

Read on…

The Post Man Cometh…

The Qur'an, translated to English by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem

It’s finally arrived. My copy of the Qur’an, ordered the other week, has finally arrived.

Ironically, it dropped through the door of my girlfriend’s house, after I forgot to check the address on my Waterstones order and just assumed it would be coming to my house. Fortunately, I was there this morning when it arrived, so all was well in the end.

For those of you who are curious, the version I’ve purchased is the Oxford World’s Classics version, translated by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem. I’m not educated about the different translations (bar what I’ve already read in the introduction), so if anyone better informed about me wants to give me pointers or comments on this, they will be very much welcomed.

So far, I’ve only read the introduction, and even that has been truly fascinating. It’s already but to bed several negative stereotypes of the Islamic faith, which I actually already thought were products of right-wing conservative ignorance. I feel like I’m learning, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the text itself.

This started out of my annoyance at Pastor Terry Jones’ intention to burn the Qur’an in protest against the Ground Zero Mosque (not at ground zero, not a mosque). But actually, during the wait for it to arrive, another beast of ignorance has raised its head. Some of you will be familiar with Elizabeth Moon. Some of you will be familiar with her remarkably ignorant and offensive rant about Islam in the US. For those of you who aren’t, I’d heartily recommend reading this article about it, as well as following Lavie Tidhar’s Twitter feed.

Bigoted comments like those Moon made are not alright. They feed the hatred and misunderstanding that warmongering groups on both sides exploit to their own ends and agendas. This is why I am reading the Qur’an. Because I don’t believe that half the crap said by right-wing western fearmongers, or Islamic extremists is true, is actually in there. I don’t think that Islam is any more of a hateful and violent religion than any other religion.

To anyone else who shares this suspicion, I invite you to join me. I’ll be posting occasional blog entries updating all of you on what I’m finding with my readings, and this is an open invitation for anyone to join in. I welcome any and all comments and discussions, from Muslims and non-Muslims, as long as you don’t try to transform my exercise against hate as a way of extending it.

Labour Ist Für Alle Da

Why yes, the title of this blog entry is a pseudo-clever pun on the title of a Rammstein album, and yes, it does translate loosely as “Labour is there for everyone”.

Labour is there for everyone

My political allegiance aren’t really much of a secret. I’m a leftie. Loosely, a socialist. And also, a member of the Labour Party. I figured it was high time that I explained that; something as important as political stance shouldn’t be kept in the wardrobe, and brought out only at elections.

I joined Labour after the May election, honestly heartbroken at the results, and disappointed in the people of Britain. My basic reason for joining then was the realisation that I hadn’t done my bit to keep this coalition out of government. I think a lot of people felt the same, given the massive numbers joining the party in the weeks after the David Cameron took office.

But that’s not really an explanation is it? It’s why I paid the membership fee. It’s not why I’ve been so adamantly opposed to right-wing conservatism all my life. That’s a little more complicated.

I’ll start with by looking at phraseology. Have you ever noticed the names of the three major parties? The Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats. Labour. Spot the difference? Yes, it’s the word “the”. To me, that tells you everything you need to know about Labour. The Tories and the Lib Dems are organisations, institutions. Labour is more than that, more than just an association. Labour is a social movement.

To be honest, that’s the advantage that the left has always had over the right. Left wing politics may have been demonised over the

The red flag has been historically demonised, but actually it's the stalwart of the people's rights

last sixty-odd years by rampant US propaganda, but the truth is that it isn’t the barbaric ideology that a lot of people believe. Socialism rallies people for the greater good, for the advantage and benefit of society as a whole. And that’s where conservatism falls down. It’s harder to rally people to an individualist cause, because it comes across exactly as it is: selfish.

It’s no coincidence that the right-wing uses hate, fear and negativity to gain support. Just look at the Tories’ recent election campaign. It was always how Labour had destroyed the economy (false: the banking sector did that, and the Labour government’s quick response saved us from full-blown depression); how everything had to immediately be cut in order to save the economy (false: severe cuts have already resulted in the Bank of England downgrading economic forecasts, and today the IFS has condemned the Coalition budget as regressive); that immigration is destroying, rather than enriching, Britain.

The Labour government made mistakes, I won’t dispute that. But they did a hell of a lot of good. The minimum wage. Support for the poorest sectors of society. Investment in public services. Vital expansion of the NHS. Political reform, including House of Lords reform and devolution.

Those progressive measures aren’t something you’ll get from a right-wing that values the individual over society, and thus places intrinsic values on people based upon their personal wealth and standing. And given the current identity crisis the Lib Dems seem to be undergoing as the Tories’ puppets and scapegoats, Labour is the only solid representation of the left wing in British politics.

The conclusion to this little rant, is that Labour is for the people, and is the people. That’s what socialism is about. If Labour has made mistakes, if Labour has been heading down wrong avenues, then that can be changed. For all those who hate the injustice this new government will result in, Labour is the way forward. All of the positives achieved by Labour, or any left-wing party around the world, are because people saw that it was unfair, and decided to change things.

Yes, there is the Labour leadership election coming up soon (and I will be blogging about it nearer the time), so there is now a real chance to get involved, and to shape the future. Despite what the Tory press says, the candidates have a lot of interesting ideas to discuss and the more people who get involved, the more comprehensive, inclusive and effective the opposition will be- more than ample reason to take a look and consider joining up.

If the Tories, if the Coalition are not for you, you are not alone. Labour is there for everyone.