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The regression of discourse

As the realities of Brexit become clearer and clearer, the debates around it, especially online, seem to be becoming more and more heated. It is now obvious that Brexit is an absurd impossibility, and that even holding the referendum last year was a tragic mistake; yet that hasn't stopped those who voted for it and support it sticking to their guns. Rather than admitting they were wrong, the worrying thing is they are becoming less and less rational. Online I'm seeing outists lashing out and becoming angrier and angrier, their arguments losing any sort of coherence. For example, last week I came across one trying to tell us that the Irish border issue was actually very simple to resolve, but the 'powers that be' were exaggerating it to stop Brexit.

As it becomes clear that they were fooled into voting for something they didn't understand, and wouldn't have voted for had they understood, what worries me is that such people will become desperate not to be portrayed as idiots. Fury will rise. The level of discourse will regress to the level of an infant school playground, with insults being hurled and people refusing to admit obvious, inarguable facts. We are already seeing this happening, not only with Brexit but across the Atlantic with Trump supporters. In both cases it's becoming absurd: people have started to deny things they must surely know to be correct, simply in order not to be proved wrong. It's becoming more and more extreme, and going all the way to the top, with figures such as David Davies starting to flagrantly deny reality. While in a way it's quite funny, and the good old Parrot Sketch springs to mind, culturally speaking I think this is very, very worrying. After all, isn't this how fascism started in the thirties?


[Edited Today at 19:00:30 - added a bit]

The end of Blue Planet II - and an era

Blue Planet II came to it's conclusion last night in an awe-inspiring episode where Sir David Attenborough looked at the possible damage we humans are doing to the seas. It was a nice, if a little scary, way to round off yet another truly great series from Attenborough and the bbc Natural History Unit. As I wrote when the series started, it was awesome to see the greatest of all tv presenters once again doing what he does best.

I love how Attenborough, a bit like our current queen, has been in the background of all our lives: when I was little I remember him being on the tv at home, the floor in front of it strewn with toys; when I was at university, I used to go round to my friend Steve and Chris's rented house on wednesday evenings to watch Life of Mammals, missing the disco; and now I live with Lyn in London, he is still on TV. I'm sure it's a similar story for most people. Attenborough has been a part of our cultural lives for over sixty years. He has taught us things and shown us places we never knew about. The entire country surely owes him a huge debt.

I can't help suspecting, though, that last night we saw his final show. At 95, with a career like Attenborough's, who would blame the great man for wanting to slip into a well-earned retirement? If that is the case, though, it would be the end of a long and quite magnificent era in this country, for who could replace a gem such as Sir David Attenborough?

The hybrid of fandom and cinephilia is flourishing

As I noted a couple of entries ago, I spend a lot of time online these days, especially when the weather is as rotten as it is today. I spend a lot of that time on Youtube, watching whatever takes my fancy, perpetually looking for that new fascination to get into. I just came across something interesting on there though. It seems to me that the quality of discourse I'm encountering on Youtube is getting better and better, especially when it comes to film criticism and reactions to film. Where most online video reactions to film were once decidedly fannish, what I'm finding nowadays is becoming ever more articulate and cine-literate.

I just came across a great example of this. I clicked on Lindsay Ellis's video about Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations thinking it would be just another kid talking about and reacting to a film in the most basic way, but what I found was something perceptive, articulate and well informed. Ellis clearly had a knowledge of film of at least bachelor level, yet had chosen to express her thoughts via short online videos rather than prose. She gives her viewers a lot of information about the history of film and the creative process behind specific films. At the same time, her videos incorporated much of the humour and textual play one finds in fandom; there is even a certain cheekiness to them. I found my admiration growing by the moment.

This is a great example of what I call in my master's the hybrid of cinephilia and fandom. That third discourse has emerged even more strongly than I imagined since I graduated in 2014. I still keep en eye on it, and it seems to be flourishing. Online people are having fun with film, yet that fun is becoming more and more cerebral as it takes on elements of analysis. It would thus seem that people like Ellis are proving me right.

Brexit is too stupid to go on much longer

Brexit is reaching the point where it is just too silly to believe it is actually happening. The tories signed up to a deal yesterday where, while the UK will officially be no longer a member of the EU, we'll still have to abide by it's trade rules. What the smeg is the point? We're effectively just paying umpteen billion - money badly needed elsewhere - to give up our seat in the European Parliament. Things are just getting too stupid to go on much longer. I've started to look at it this way: the more farcical this gets, the more likely it is to collapse. Brexit is reaching a point where it's so absurd and self contradictory that, sooner or later, the country will just pack it in and try to forget it ever happened. People will rise up and say they have had enough. To me, that is now inevitable, and can't come soon enough.

A perfectly adequate substitute for when I feel the urge to roam

From time to time I mention how much I like going out for walks in my chair on here. I love the feeling of freedom it brings me, even when it's just a quick stroll through some of the local parks. I think Lyn gets the same kick out of it too, now she has her powerchair. We often drive down to the river together, or over to Greenwich. Now the nights are drawing in and it's getting cold though, there isn't as much of an incentive to go out: strolling for the sake of it - following your nose just to see where you end up - holds less of an appeal, especially when given a choice between that and staying in the warm in front of a computer screen.

However, I have found something of a replacement. I don't know whether anyone else does this, but I can spend hours on google streetview. It has become one of my favourite websites; I just follow my nose on it, as I would in my powerchair. I keep it open in a tab, ready to return to whenever the mood takes me. I find, like physical walks, it gives me a space to think; my mind can wander as I follow road after road. Of course there are differences: there's less danger of getting lost or your battery running low, but on the other hand you can take your walk anywhere on earth you like. While you might not get so much fresh air, and you can only go where the Google car has gone, I find it's a perfectly adequate substitute for when I feel the urge to roam. How wonderful it is to be able to explore here, here or here. Also, as I once wrote here, I log onto it whenever I fancy a walk around my old home town. Does anyone else do this, or is it just me?


[Edited 08/12/2017 at 20:52:44 - added a bit]