Thursday, 5 January 2012

On Racial Harmony, Taxi Drivers And Rooney Mara

It was 1969 when Blue Mink released their big hit Melting Pot. I was sixteen at the time and I can remember clearly how novel it was to see a multi-racial group appear on Top Of The Pops. Despite it being the era of peace and love, it was strange to hear a song about skin colour and racial harmony - this was, after all, a time when black footballers were regularly greeted by monkey chants or worse. Of course we were used to Tamla Motown's stable of soul artists but I don't recall any white faces in their line ups. So Blue Mink were big news.

With all the recent news about racism starting with Luis Suarez' insults (and Liverpool FC's disgraceful failure to accept the tribunal's decision made after a thorough investigation), followed by the verdict in the Lawrence case and the subsequent hooha caused by Diane Abbott's careless tweet plus the Italian train advert with a black family in the new fourth class compartments, it seems that we have hardly moved on a single day since the song was released yet alone forty three years. Never more could the sentiments be more appropriate although the proposed solution that if the world comprised only mixed race coffee-coloured people we would all get on a bit better is somewhat naive (can you tell a Catholic from a Protestant just by looking at them?). So, with race issues dominating the news, politicians should realise that now is an important and historic moment and attempt to do something positive today. And perhaps in another forty three years race discrimination will truly be a thing of history.  

It is said that life imitates art. I am probably not alone in noticing that the two worst cases of murder by shooting in the north of England were carried out by shotgun owning taxi drivers. Multiple murders are thankfully rare so the fact that both these perpetrators drove taxis is statistically alarming. I appreciate that it's a tiny sample and it could be put down to mere coincidence but there could be something about the isolated nature of the work that creates this Travis Bickle like mentality and firearms controllers should perhaps spend a little more time than usual in granting them a license. I hope that does not seem prejudiced but accusation of prejudice would be a small price to pay to stop another Derrick Bird or Michael Atherton.   
At over two and a half hours long, David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo provided plenty of value for our money on our first cinema trip of the year. It has been getting rave reviews and, whilst Marion and I don't think it quite lived up to the hype, it's an enjoyable detective thriller even if the whodunnit aspect of the movie is somewhat telegraphed to the audience throughout. Although Daniel Craig gets top billing, the film is completely stolen by Rooney Mara in the title role. It's hard to take your eyes of this, tough but vulnerable, androgynous but sexy, mental but brilliant, bisexual Goth. She somehow manages to be totally convincing in portraying a character who should really be absolutely unbelievable. As with most murder mysteries that find their ways to both the big and the small screen, much of the plot is highly implausible. But as long as you can accept that, it is very well filmed and edited, and has the best opening credits since the incredible  Watchmen intro. Apologies for the quality but this is the official version.