Free Speech and the Perceived Right to a Platform

Not to state the obvious, but a country in which your free speech is under attack or has been outright denied will not let you say things like:

Our guests and speakers come from countries where the importance of free speech ranges from non-existent to a fundamental right, yet their speech and expression are consistently and constantly denied or attacked by their own governments, educational institutions, and even social pressures so strong that a minor infraction of social norms no (sic) codified in law are still punished by the use of force.

The obvious reason why none of this actually happens is that you’re free, here on the Internet, to say these things. You’re so free, in fact, that you’re allowed to organize a two-day event in which you can talk about how not-free you are. So what’s really under attack if it’s not your right to free speech? Turns out it’s your perceived right to a platform. It’s your perceived right to be heard. These things happen to be very different.Read More »


Eventually Your Eyes Go Square: On Binge-Watching and Shame

It would be of no surprise to anybody if I said that binge-watching has become a byword for the way current generations watch (more importantly interact) with TV. The word itself is so ubiquitous it appeared in no less an eminence than the OED’s 2013 word of the year list (last year Collins went one further and crowned it word of the year, but I’m an OED man).Read More »

Horror Monsters: Jeepers Creepers (2001)

It’s a well-established fact that Jeepers Creepers is a film of two halves, one which is totally effective and creepy (pun not intended; the perfect word for Jeepers Creepers’ opening act really is: creepy) and one which is totally derivative and hokey. There’s a simple reason: Jeepers Creepers is not just a film of two halves but of two competing and diametric impulses: one is concerned with human psychology (because its purpose is to creep insidiously into audience imaginations); the other is concerned with horror monster mythology and with physical and literal horror monster details. It turns out that these impulses are not compatible.

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Horror Monsters: It Follows (2015)

Warning: contains extensive spoilers.

Last year director David Robert Mitchell offered It Follows as a counterpoint to horror films in which the horror monster’s identity or motive or relationship to the protagonist is the film’s point and soul. To put it another way, the appeal of many horror films is calibrated towards that one moment in which the killer pulls off his mask or the protagonist discovers the truth of what she’s fighting.

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The Stormtrooper in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

There is a scene in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in which the titular character steamrolls a slow-witted henchman to death. We’re supposed to think that the joke is the henchman’s screams, which become more protracted as the steamroller moves very slowly towards him; but then the image of the steamroller crushing the henchman cuts to that of a rolling pin rolling dough in a suburban family home. We discover the real joke: this is the henchman’s home. His wife is about to get a call telling her that her husband is dead and then she’s going to have to explain her husband’s death to her son. What we’re really laughing at, of course, is the fact that we never think of the henchman as anything other than depersonalised cannon fodder (the joke is cemented by the portrait on the wall of the proud henchman in uniform and the reveal that his name is Steve). The scene’s closing line, uttered by the henchman’s wife, is “People never think how things affect the family of a henchman”.Read More »

Age Old Questions #2: Why Does The Walking Dead Really Have a Problem Saying ‘Zombie’?

It’s strange to think that there was once a time when The Walking Dead’s aversion to the ‘z’ word was a Hot Topic. For people who don’t know what this means:

The Walking Dead was conceived as ‘apocalyptic zombie horror drama’. It was – and continues to be – marketed as such. For many people the programme’s initial and major – for some people its only – appeal was the promise of hordes of shuffling, iconic, undead monsters.

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Age Old Questions #1: Pulp Fiction — What is Really in the Briefcase?

If you’re talking about the significance of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, or about the glowing light in the briefcase, or even just about what’s physically in the briefcase, you’re really talking about what function the Pulp Fiction briefcase serves. Before you think about what’s in the briefcase, you need to know why Pulp Fiction even has a briefcase.

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