This year’s Academy Awards ceremony was hailed as Hollywood tackling serious issues. There was first the Oscarssowhite twitter campaign decrying the lack of diversity in Hollywood. For the second year running, there were no blacks in any of the acting categories, something that generated boycotts by prominent African Americans such as film director Spike Lee and Will Smith and his wife. The show’s host, black comedian Chris Rock, made poignant jokes about the ‘whiteness’ syndrome of Hollywood. (Brazil should take note.)
The film that won, Spotlight, highlighted gross abuse by the Catholic Church. The best director winner, Mexican Alejandro Inarrito , insisted on the ridiculous notion of race itself, which he deemed should be considered as important as the length of someone’s hair. The song was won by Sam Smith, who declared his sexuality and pined for true equality, Lady Gaga sang for the victims of sexual abuse. Was Hollywood getting serious about being a responsible corporate citizen? Probably until the next mega-production bonanza where the main characters will be white males, white girls perhaps have leadership roles but always a peg down from the white males, minorities splashed around for color. Maybe people in Budapest or Calcutta wouldn’t go to see a film with too many black people. It is all about money after all, no matter how concerned you want to look!
Syria: A former US Congresswoman, Jane Harmon described the situation in Syria:
– Four wars going on at the same time. There is the fight against Bashar-al-Assad (supported by Russia), whose brutality rivals his father’s, president before him and supported by the Soviet Union during the cold war, and who is an Alawite, a branch of Shia. They are minority in Syria.
– There is basically a civil war going on within religion, and Syria is the main arena. The Sunni factions (some of whom are fighting against each other: ISIS is Sunni) are being supported by their co-religionists in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, while Assad’s main benefactors are Iran and Iraq, the two largest Shiite countries.
– There is now basically a war between the Turks and the Kurds, an ethnic group that spreads across four countries with significant minorities in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Kurds are considered mountain Turks by the Turkish government who historically have oppressed them and tried to squelch their culture. No one wants them to have independence except them.
The proxy war between the US and Russia: During the cold war this was common, proxy meaning using someone else, the indirect confrontation between the two superpowers, who gave weapons to opposing sides in global conflicts. This happened all over Africa, Asian and Latin America for forty years, since they couldn’t confront each other for fear of nuclear oblivion (MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction). Russia, sidelined for 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, wants to be a player and with its 10,000 nuclear warheads, it can be. The US is not liking this. Another cold war near?
The fight against ISIS. Everybody says they are fighting ISIS, but there are so many internal conflicts and factions that US and Russian bombing, and arming of the respective sides is just throwing petrol on the fire. Perhaps ISIS cannot be destroyed completely and we will be living with this threat that can strike so randomly. An element of fear creeps into Europeans and North American people’s daily lives. When people are afraid, they do dangerous things like vote for fascists in Europe or someone like Donald Trump in the US. The only ones fighting ISIS on the ground are the Peshmerga, the Kurdish militia group who want more autonomy for themselves. How complicated is that?