Opinion

Theatre Enters Stage Left

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Theatre can be a forum for debate and encourage collective action.

Recently I was rereading some of John McGrath's essays on political theatre in his book 'Naked Thoughts That Roam About'. McGrath, who died last year, set up the 7:84 theatre group (7 percent owning 84 percent of the wealth) to create an agitprop theatre for the generation of anti Vietnam War protesters.

The Dark Side of the Net

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If you have watched the television or read some of the tabloids over the last few weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking that the web has become the realm of the child pornographer and the paedophile.

But this isn't anything new. The reality is that the web has made the distribution and accessibility of pornography very easy, and it was the pornographers who grasped the potential for the internet to make them very rich indeed.

Big on-line retailers, like the booksellers Amazon, waited years for their first profits (if they didn't go bust long before then), but sex sites frequently earn their owners millions of hits and consequently huge profits. See the article at abcnews.go.com for some of the surprising multinationals behind the sex industry.

The Real Slim Shady

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What have the rail, power and pensions industries got in common? This would be funny if it wasn't such a disaster.

The more Blair fumbles around for anything resembling factual information which might justify laying waste to Iraq, the more he ends up looking like the real Slim Shady. Much the same can be said for our glorious leader's stance on privatisation--sly and deceitful. The yarn that's spun is that everything is going according to plan--the reality is more like it's all going down the pan.

Jams Today, Jams Tomorrow

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London's congestion charge will do little to solve its transport problems.

On 17 February London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, introduces his £5 a day congestion charge for anyone who drives into central London between 7am and 6.30pm. The charge is already generating enormous controversy--and massive speculation as to whether it will work.

New York, New York

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The city that has become an icon offers different views on life.

I remember arriving in New York and having the odd feeling that I'd been there before. Everything was familiar, even the faces on the street. But I'm not a believer in past lives, so I knew it was no echo from a previous existence. I had the same feeling recently watching 'Sex and the City', which now seems to be repeated eight times a week in various slots, and the return of 'NYPD Blue'--not to mention yet another 11 September documentary and 'Gangs of New York' reviewed on several pages of every Sunday paper.

Talking Rap

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Blaming hip-hop won't tackle gun crime.

I remember just after the Columbine massacre hearing some right wing American shock-jock being interviewed as to why the massacre had happened. The music of Marilyn Manson, video nasties, and lack of parental control were all cited. When the interviewer asked whether gun control might not help, the shock-jock dismissed this as so much liberal hooey.

Far Right: Left Pole of Attraction

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The growth of the anti-war movement means greater forces to deal with the dangers from the far right.

Two contradictory moods are sweeping Britain. There is the enormous movement against the war on Iraq. Not only has there been the biggest anti-war demonstration the country has ever seen, but the global anti-capitalist mood that emerged after Seattle has been getting a wide echo within the movement, feeding into the first real political student movement for years and creating a wide sense of solidarity with the firefighters' strikes at the end of last year.

Picturing the Horrors of War

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Picasso's 'Guernica' depicts the cost of conflict. Mike Gonzalez explains why it's time it was discovered again.

We are surrounded by images of war. Real, imagined or remembered conflict is a constant in the kind of films that are shelved under 'Action' at Blockbuster's. Very few computer games have gone beyond the simple binary of good and evil, friend or enemy. Newspapers regularly carry stark and terrifying photographs of the victims of war in some unnamed place--as if only fear and terror can really be dramatic. And then there is the machinery of warfare, drawn out in loving scientific detail on the nightly news. Thus war is made part of our natural experience.

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