Stand with George Ciccariello-Maher

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In case you haven’t heard, academic George Ciccariello-Maher is embroiled in a Twitter controversy manufactured by right-wing trolls. The academic jokingly tweeted: “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.” Note the term ‘white genocide’ was invented and promoted by white supremacists. It was clearly designed to mock hysterical racist fears, not to advocate violence. But the tweet was seized upon by trolls. And now Drexel University (his employer) has cowed to the eruption of phony outrage. It’s worth remembering that this could happen to any of us. A throwaway remark, or a crass joke can easily be misconstrued online. And … Continue reading

All Watched Over By Adam Curtis

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Sitting in front of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, it is easy to let the brilliance of the style wash over you. Illustrated with dazzling imagery, one big idea morphs seamlessly into another, while Curtis’s hypnotic narration smoothes away any cognitive bumps. Like attending a lecture by firebrand philosopher Slavoj Zizek, one comes away feeling overwhelmed and inspired by the relentless pace and mesmerising variety of idea. But there remains a niggling feeling you may have been bamboozled, a feeling that if you stopped and thought about the big themes, they would collapse into a pile of … Continue reading

The trouble with cultural appropriation

In recent years, I’ve heard a lot of talk about cultural appropriation in the music industry. Not least about Miley Cyrus and the spectacle of ‘twerking’, but also Macklemore and Iggy Azalea (bog-standard targets). The charge of cultural appropriation alleges that these artists have stolen their style from black performers, and it seems clear that there is more than a hint of truth to this claim. But it shouldn’t be implied that this is just a cultural question. The more serious cases being the fact that there is a Blues root to almost all music today. Black talent has been … Continue reading