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“13 Reasons Why” Turtleboy Sports is dangerous

There’s not much that I can add to the conversation around 13 Reasons Why, which, if you haven’t seen it yet, is probably the best new show on Netflix in quite a while. Even though it only debuted a few days ago, countless virtual gallons of digital ink – and some real ink as well – have been spilled gushing over it, examining the teen drama from every angle possible. What I can add, though, is some reflection on how it relates to the local semi-Worcester blog, Turtleboy Sports. More on that in a moment. I hadn’t even expected to watch the show, but decided to give it a try when I found out that Gregg Araki – director of the iconic 90s gems Totally…

Promises to the Disappeared: Art in the Wake of Chile’s 9-11

This past month the United States solemnly commemorated the eighth anniversary of 9/11/01. While life in the U.S. has largely returned to normal in the interceding years (though, life is gone for the nearly 3,000 who perished, and will never again be truly “normal” for their families), the horror and legacy of 9/11 has lingered and festered deep in the collective memory. Much of the way any nation deals with tragedy is through its culture: music, literature, film, and other forms of art. But it has only been eight years since 9/11/01, a relatively short time; artists in the U.S. have really only just started dealing with this national catastrophe. Perhaps the body of work from artists in another country in the Americas, Chile, can…

Harry Potter and the tide of history

The final installment of the Harry Potter  movie series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, has been accompanied by chatter about what it all means. Some Christians have complained that the books on which the films are based, with all their magic and wizards, were causing children to accept demonic ideas (though the Catholic Church seems to have given up that fight with the good review it gave to the first Deathly Hallows film). Some atheists jumped into the discussion, arguing that the adventures were actually no good because they were very Christian. While this debate drew some attention, it’s irrelevant and boring. Perhaps demons and sorcery in a novel might have been taboo in Oliver Cromwell’s England, but not for modern audiences….

Trapped in history: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”

In December 1994, explorers walking through southern France’s rocky environment found a slight disturbance in the air, coming from the rocks. They began to dig at the rocks, and uncovered what came to be known as the Chauvet Cave, a cavern sealed off by a rockslide some 20,000 years earlier. What the explorers found was a treasure trove of cave paintings and skeletal remains of extinct animals. The art is twice as old as anything else found to date, the earliest example of culture produced by modern humans. Consequently, the French government sensibly sealed the Chauvet Cave. A door to the cave was constructed, making it impossible for anyone to enter without permission. Access is restricted only to scientists studying the discoveries. But besides enriching…

Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows, darkest and best of series yet

The 20th century wasn’t a particularly good one in historical terms: more people were killed in war than in previous centuries combined; we saw fascist states for the first time; and the century ended with multiple wars raging around a world cowed by the threat of terrorism. Still, it was that same century that, among other historical breakthroughs, brought us Nelson Mandela and the overthrow of apartheid, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the U.S. Civil Rights Revolution, women began to assert their rights and the United Nations was established. Clichés are only clichés in that they are truths repeated too many times, and it therefore would not be a total loss to use one here: it was an age of extremes. The…

Hitch-22: When the left moves right

Book Review “Hitch-22” By Christopher Hitchens 2010, Twelve press, 448 pages, $26.99 (hardcover) The name Christopher Hitchens is, to many on the left and right, a dirty word. In lining up with the Bush administration on the war in Iraq, the former Nation columnist shocked much of the left, and his militant atheism has inspired animosity among many conservatives. Still, in his new memoir Hitchens comes off as a man of principle. Reading Hitch-22, it becomes apparent that the principles that motivated Hitchens’ perceived move to the right are, paradoxically, the same principles that for many years kept him on the left. He makes a case for all of the things for which the left should stand: dedication to the rights of the individual; hate…

Totalitarian household: a review of “Dogtooth”

Giorgos Lanthimos’s “Dogtooth” captures the physical and moral damage that occurs when what is perhaps the ultimate insult is visited upon otherwise healthy human beings: that of being held in physical and mental slavery under the pretense that it’s for their own good. While this form of bondage seems absurd at the individual level, it is all too common at the national, under different names: the totalitarian state, the security state and so on. It is notable that this film comes out of Greece, once ruled by a military dictatorship. The director, however, in several interviews stated that the film is not about Greece or any other specific country, but about a form of control overall. All one has to do is to replace the…

Sex, Violence, and Videotape

Princess Directed by Anders Morgenthaler Starring Thure Lindhardt, Mira Hilli Møller Hallund, Stine Fischer Christensen Run time: 90 minutes Released to DVD from Palisades Tartan   If the old adage “fight fire with fire” is true, then it would likely follow that one must fight sexual violence with sex and violence. Danish director Anders Mergenthaler seems to have taken this to heart with his award-winning 2006 feature Princess, finally available to American audiences on DVD.   This film, innovatively composed of both animated and purposely low-quality live-action video, bombards the viewer with graphic sex and even more graphic violence; paradoxically, though, its core purpose is quite obviously to take on the sex industry, notorious for its exploitation of young women. The narrative involves August (voiced by…