Thursday, October 27, 2011

Utter idiocy in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

The blasphemer of Islam!

According to a recent story in the Emirates 24|7 news blog, a 'social activist' in the United Arab Emirates, Mariam Al Ahmadi, was outraged to discover a Chinese made toy at some local shops which, she claims, makes a noise that somehow mocks Islam. Specifically, it somehow gives offense to Mohammed's child bride wife Aisha. One would think she'd be outraged that Mohammed married Aisha at age 6 and consummated the marriage at age 9, but that doesn't seem to rattle her fragile sensibilities. Ms. Al Ahmadi he is now leading an effort to get all of the offending toys removed. Seriously UAE this is your source of moral indignation? This story reminds of primitive animistic beliefs, where ignorant tribes believe that lightning is an angry god shouting at them or something.

Not surprisingly Saudi Arabia got wind of this and confiscated a bunch of them. Well done! Note that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are Islamist countries where there is no freedom of religion, no freedoms of speech or press, and women do not have the full rights they enjoy in the West. This activist didn't raise so much as an eyebrow over the Christians in UAE who are raped, falsely imprisoned, beaten, tortured and even murdered (all in the name of Islam) for their beliefs. Yet a toy gun making a sound akin to RATATAT stirs up feelings of outrage. This is ridiculous, but sadly not very surprising. In case the offending story is deleted, which seems to happen quite often in such cases, here is an archived copy.

It's natural instinct for those of us not brainwashed to laugh at such an absurd assertion, but there is a very serious, and disturbing, cultural dynamic at work here. We see the archetypal Righteous Defender of Islam at work. Even the most innocuous and innocent things may set them off into a rampage. It's happened numerous times and we must fight it at every turn. Hopefully Islam will finally go through a much needed reformation and purge itself of the Jihadist and Islamist factions, but the calls for moderation and sober introspection from within Islam seem far too few and weak. I would love to hear from Muslims and hear what they think about this story.

And on an economic digression: the Chinese have mastered Western capitalism (including its amoral defects and excesses) and know their customers. Can you imagine some poor factory engineer in Shenzhen, plodding through his 6 day, 100 hour work week, recording an anti-Islam message in Arabic onto the memory chip of the control board of a plastic toy gun! It would be harder to come up with a more implausible scenario.

Islam actually enjoys greater protection in China than Christianity. The Quran is sold in a wide variety of bookstores and mosques are not regulated. Whereas Bibles are only sold in a limited number of state run religious bookstores and the only recognized Christian churches are ones which belong to the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). Of course the pastors of the TSPM churches are all trained by the Chinese Communist Party! Oppression of Christians in the Muslim world and China is a very serious issue, but the Church is growing mightily. Praise the Lord!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Melancholia (2011) - film review

A very earnest gaze! LOL


"Melancholia" proves that a big budget means nothing in terms of the final artistic creation. It was the worst sort of disaster film I've ever seen. Even hammy B movie type films are at least enjoyable for their contrived drama, overwrought affectations and downright silly action sequences, but this film tries so hard to be taken seriously and fails.

Some reviewers have been critical of the slow pace of the film, and defenders retort that this is somehow evidence of its sophistication. I disagree with both camps. Having a slower pace is not a problem if the character's are engaging, the plot is interesting and we're made to care on some level. Also, as evidenced in "Melancholia" a slow pace is an exercise in futility if all the components don't work.

Kirsten Dunst's performance was overdone and tiresome. She is a good actress, but not a great one. Kiefer Sutherland was great in 24, but I don't think his acting style is suited to slower paced dramatic films. Or rather I should say melodramatic films which this one was. I'm not a parent, but one other aspect of this film really irked me. Charlotte Gainsbourg's character's resignation to her fate was semi-believable, but the way she behaved in light of her young son's impending doom was ridiculous! Dunst spends about half of her screen time making various depressive, vacant or angst ridden facial expressions. The master of this sort of facial acting was Toshiro Mifune. With a subtle expression he could brilliantly convey an emotional state, or even several, but it was never overdone. I wish Dunst would study his films and take some lessons!

The tone of the film as a whole was pretentious. Melancholia was a Victorian term for people with depression and that's how I felt after watching this film. I'm not a parent, but one other aspect of this film really irked me. Sadly this sort of film is not an anomaly for director Lars von Trier. I've never been a fan of his work, but I went into this film with an open mind and was once again disappointed. His ethics are also highly questionable, and yes I maintain this is relevant since as a director one's moral makeup has a definite impact and imprint on what you put into a film. At the last Cannes Film Festival Trier made pro-Nazi comments, saying he sympathized with Hitler. Also, he left his pregnant wife to shack up with the family babysitter who was young enough to be his daughter!

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