We spent the last day of my stay in Cambridge recovering from the days before. Top-notch procrastination, so to speak. In the process of that I got to play some Playstation games Dan and Alex bought. One was a fighting game, the other a racing game where you had to crash other people (actually there were racing modes as well, but they just required too much actual control of the car for my taste and skill). The fighting game was slow-loading fun, though. And good in the sense that each round was over after a minute or two. While I didn’t really understand how to fight just trying to press the buttons quickly occasionally gave amazing results.
We also watched The Life Aquatic, a film with Bill Murray by the director who did The Royal Tenenbaums. Just that this film is a whole lot weirder than The Royal Tenenbaums. It didn’t make much sense but still was great fun to watch. (And if DVD players didn’t suck ass and covered half of the screen with black bars rather than with what you want to see, we might have even been able to read the occasional subtitle.) Anyway, I recommend that you get yourself a red hat, watch the film and let me know what it’s all about.
On my way back home I picked up some magazines to take back to Germany and in the wonderful way capitalism works these days, the guy at the checkout pointed out that I’ll actually have to pay 50p or so less if I ‘buy’ The Independent with those magazines. Actually he just slammed the Independent on top of the magazines and then told me that it’s cheaper that way. Good customer service – but I keep thinking that this is weird and just doesn’t make sense. Particularly as I had bought a Guardian an hour before that.
Speaking about UK newspapers, that little size – even smaller than the taz, I am tempted to think – seems to have become quite popular. And while it makes the papers look a bit less ‘serious’, it also makes them much easier to read. Particularly on a plane. They had a really interesting report in G2 on similarities between apartheid South Africa and Israel written by their Middle East and former African correspondent Chris McGreal. He points out striking similarities as well as differences between the two situations (and presents photos of rather similar scenes in both places and ages – the power of photos is not to be underestimated). And the report shall be continued tomorrow by shedding some light on the relations between both countries which seem to have been surprisingly good in the apartheid days. In fact this comparison has crossed my mind several times already – ever since some (christian) South African tried to explain to us that the South Africans are the ‘chosen people’…
And while at the topic of religious nutters, suppression and violence, I also have to mention the articles about the Danish caricatures (hmmm, wouldn’t you have expected Google to give those caricatures as the top hits for related searches by now…) and the civilised muslim reaction we saw to them. Heck, any politician, deity or other object of public interest can be mocked in our world (except when mocking it means that you’re violating copyrights, perhaps – but I digress). And if people consider the cartoons or the publishing practices of Danish (or other) newspapers tasteless, they can feel free to cancel their subscription. Heck, if we were to forbid anything tasteless or insulting, we should shut down (or even bomb or 7/11 or whatever) the yellow press first. Their existence might be as insulting to an intelligent person as taking the piss of a god, prophet or whatever might be to a strong believer. But, believe it or not, people don’t bomb The Sun or Bild, they’ll just walk past, shake their heads and be a bit depressed that there’s such a big market for their junk.
This gives an interesting situations for newspapers now… they’ll have to evaluate whether they’ll lose readers by showing these cartoons (that is, neither publishing them as opinion-pieces nor in a report about the story around them) and whether they care about that. Money versus journalism in an interesting new constellation. And if the newspapers censor themselves, what to people have to do to qualify some subject or image as ‘inacceptable’? Why should religious people have the benefit of being able to censor everybody else while non-religious people will have to accept anything? And I’m also tempted to ask whether The Sun might have had less problems with printing these caricatures if the prophet had tits…
The reactions we see in the media now are completely unjustified, no matter how bad those drawings were. People reacting in those ways are morons. And I hope that this is just the radical tip of a more reasonable iceberg – but I couldn’t find any reports in the media on how a reasonable muslim behaves in this situation.