ROOM directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Canada/Ireland/UK, 2015)
Joy and Jack look for light in the darkness.
Room is the story of survival. The main victim is Joy Newcombe ( which evokes the idea that he is the devil in human form. While in captivity he has fathered Joy’s 5-year-old son Jack and you imagine that sexual abuse is the prime motive for his actions.
There is always a morbid curiosity to uncover the dark secrets that drive this kind of depraved behavior. A weakness of the movie is that we learn so little about this man’s background or what happens to him after being apprehended. We hear of, but never really see any physical abuse and only the sound of a creaking bed tells us that he is repeatedly raping her. Continue reading
RABBIT, RUN by John Updike (Penguin Books, First published, 1971)
Powerful works of fiction are not dependent on the nobility or likability of the characters.
Two of my favorite fictional creationd are Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov from Crime And Punishment and Mervyn Peake’s Steerpike from the Gormenghast trilogy. Each are prime examples of men behaving badly motivated by a bitter and twisted ambition. Their ruthless and murderous actions are deplorable but they are both fascinatingly complex characters.
Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom is in a wholly different kettle of fish. There is nothing endearing about him and the very banality of his failings mean that he barely qualifies as an anti-hero. He is not a killer, nor does he crave power but his selfishness, random lustfulness and frustration are ugly traits that infect the lives around him.
A one time basketball star, he is unable to come to terms with a humdrum life with a dead-end job and a dismal marriage. He wants out but has nowhere to run.
Updike’s cynical depiction of the human condition is so absolute that we are pitched into the mire of Rabbit’s squallid affairs without a moral compass. We are not required to condone or condemn his actions nor to sympathize when he hits rock bottom to the point that : “He feels underwater, caught in chains of transparent slime, ghosts of the urgent ejaculations he has spat into the mild bodies of women”. Continue reading
To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I’m sharing this song and video.
It was written for the documentary The Hunting Ground which highlights the shocking number of rapes that take place on US college campuses and the subsequent cover up by the institutions involved.
The song written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga is entitled “Til It Happens to You” and the video graphically addresses this important issue:
The image that excited the ‘perverts’.
When you are in your teens anyone over 30 seems ancient. Only when you start getting on in years do you come to redefine what it means to be middle or old-aged.
I am 57 so can wholly relate to Oscar Wilde’s statement that “The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young”
I was struck by this thought again when reading a blog post by children’s author, Stephanie Faris entitled ‘There’s no excuse for being a perverted old man’.
This relates to a series of sexually explicit comments made after an ‘innocent’ photo was uploaded to Instagram by 17-year-old actress, Ariel Winter. As you can see, this is not by any means an overtly sexy pose but the amount of bare flesh on display was enough to get some men excited all the same.
Faris writes: “Blaming the young girl isn’t the answer. Saying the men are wrong for looking isn’t the answer, either. However, there is a difference between looking at someone and saying extremely disgusting things to that person”.
I agree with this and would add that dumping all this venom on ‘old men’ isn’t all that helpful either; particularly when ‘old’ seems to extend to anyone over 40 – presumably on the basis that this is the age when they are technically ‘old enough to be her father’.
These salacious comments would have been equally inappropriate coming from a male who was the same age as the girl. The routine objectification of women is the issue here and this can, and does, start at any age.
Perversion and creepiness may become more embedded in the individual as the years pass but I take issue with the implication that these negative traits are confined to men of a ‘certain age’.
I’m just saying.
Today is International Men’s Day (IMD), a fact likely to be met with a combination of puzzlement and resentment – a mix of ‘why” and ‘how dare they?’
What’s the point of it?
It has long been established that, in the name of equal rights and justice, women should have their day. Given the male-dominanted world we live in, there’s a strong argument to say that if men have problems, they have only themselves to blame. Continue reading