Incognito Press

truth. knowledge. freedom. passion. courage. Promoting free-thinking, activism & rogue writing.

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Archive for the ‘rant’ Category

Phone Hacking deja vu

Posted by E on July 19, 2011

So this week hearings begin into the phone hacking operations by recently-defunct News of the World. Everyone is so tremendously outraged that stuffy mogul Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper employees could hack not only a poor missing teen girl’s mobile but God forbid, the Priminister and Royal Family’s own phone lines. Everyone’s scratching their heads and asking themselves, “But how could that be? Our privacy compromised like this, how can it be possible?” And now the probe goes further, wondering if the newspaper might have – gasp! – cracked into the US government’s phone database.

I can’t help but experience a strong hit of déjà vu here, like a rotten smell that just won’t go away. We’ve had much worse here, people, I want to scream. How have you all forgotten? How can you ever forget?

In the early nineties here in Canada we had a government agent operative – an undercover CSIS agent (Canada’s version of the CIA, to my American friends) – create a white supremacist group from scratch and teach them the tricks of the trade. Under CSIS’ tutelage, the white supremacist Heritage Front cracked into countless innocent people’s phone lines and terrorized them with death threats. It was called the It Campaign, and it was condoned by our own government.

Violent skinheads and gun-totting neo-Nazis telephoned people 24 hours a day to harass and force information about others out of them. They stalked their prey, followed people to and from work, targeting anti-racist activists for criminal harassment and physical assault.
All of them were taught by CSIS.
And nothing was ever done about it.

Heck, nobody wants to buy my novel – which is making editorial rounds RIGHT NOW (and being rejected, though with praise) – because apparently the thriller novel market is swamped and nobody’s buying. The fact that the novel is based on real-life and rooted in fact does not appear to sway editors. Nor that a country’s own government, through its “intelligence” body has hacked and terrorized its own people, seems to make an impression.

And in the end, aside from a few internal demotions, nobody ever prosecuted CSIS for their phone hacking. And for condoning their agents to train white supremacists to do the same. Despite the dozens of witnesses who spoke up about what had happened, despite my own much-publicized testimony on Parliament Hill, the final report excused their behaviour as having gotten “carried away” and been a tad “over-zealous” in their undercover work.

I guess watching tawdry CNN recaps is easier to swallow than knowing that things can be a lot worse than unscrupulous journalists hacking into voice mail for scoops.

Posted in books, canada, commentary, crime, england, freedom, news, politics, press, rant | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Beauty and the Psycho

Posted by E on June 11, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl. Who met a charming, smooth-talking prince by the edge of a beautiful blue ocean. And then the prince turned out to be a psycho and murdered the girl. And then he murdered another girl. And he kept getting away with it, because his daddy was a judge, and the police preferred to investigate poor, black locals, and the FBI refused to follow the extortion leads until it was too late.

Not many people know that I’ve been following this story since Natalee went missing while on vacation in Aruba, back in 2005. There was something so engaging about her story, that beautiful smile, her desperate parents, and the breathtaking locale where all this happened….I followed the newscasts and the documentaries that asked what happened to Natalee, and I too, like so many other bloggers and readers, speculated on whether the rich Dutch boy did it.

And then this past week, EXACTLY five years to the day Natalee went missing, with the murder of Peruvian citizen Stephany Flores, the answer came. An answer that, as horrible as it may be, will bring peace to Holloway’s family and incense the hearts of a new family whose daughter did not have to be taken from them, if the authorities had done their job.

One wonders (hypothetically of course, since the answer is pretty clear) if Stephany Flores would still be alive if Joran van der Sloot’s daddy wasn’t a prominent judge with money to burn, and an uncorruptable desire to cover up for his psycho son at any cost.

One also wonders how many signs there must have been in Joran’s teenage years, signs of a troubled psyche including, but by all means not being limited to – binge drinking, drug abuse, harming small animals, adding Rohypnol in college girls drinks…. I imagine the whole sordid saga will come out during the inevitable trial (and appeals, and retrials ad nauseam, until the money for high-profile lawyers runs out) to come.

I know, I know. No use asking the What Ifs now. Two girls are dead, and for all we know, there are others. But still. The only comfort there can be in this whole ugly mess is that Joran will spend the rest of his days inside a brutal Peruvian prison. And given that his now-deceased daddy wasn’t a local celebrity in these parts, I doubt his son will get the royal treatment. That is, unless a new judge caves in under the persuasion of smooth-talking defence counsels, and signs an extradition order for Joran to spend his sentence(s) concurrently in the relative comfort of a Dutch prison.

Let’s just watch and make sure that doesn’t happen. But if I were a betting girl, this is what I’d predict: rich boy will finally tell where Natalee’s body is, so that he makes sure he’s tried in Aruba first (and presumably convicted there) so he doesn’t have to do time in Lima (one of the most violent places in Latin America) and get his ass kicked, raped or murdered by the other inmates.

Your thoughts?

Posted in crime, murder, news, rant, thoughts, violence, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Another reason why fencing sucks big time in Canada

Posted by E on August 22, 2008

 

One of the comments left on CBC following the expletitive outburst of  Sherraine Schalm led me to thinking, and sure enough another reason came to me as to why fencing sucks in this country. (By the way, read the original why fencing sucks-big-time article here). And below is the original comment, from someone named Elberich:

I have fenced for over ten years. Unfortunately competition is about winning and losing, it is not about fencing. This has degraded the culture of fencing. You can see this clearly when each few seconds of fencing (notably in foil and saber) is followed by ten seconds of posing and gesticulating directed at the judges to convince them that you did initiate the attack, have right of way, etc…

It has become more important to convince the judge and score the point than engage in the sport. Fencing is a wonderful sport and when it is practiced with good conduct and within the spirit of fencing it is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately competition has destroyed this.

I hear you. Competition, and the histrionic tantrums and theatrics that accompany it, have destroyed the soul of fencing. Then again, did it ever have a soul, or was it always dominated by a few, “high-bred” snooty white guys? Things haven’t changed much, have they? hmm….

Fencing is one of those unique sports where screaming and “being nasty is what is required” (to quote my former schoolmate Sherraine, who I agree with on this one). I remember being in competition years ago at some Ontario university or another (they all blend it after a while), and there was this one big, tall, ugly girl who kept screaming bloody murder after every touch. Actually, she didn’t just scream. She went: “OOPAH!” like a drunken greek tavern-keeper. Of course, she did well. Everybody thought she was out of her mind. I thought – here’s a psycho who’s obviously found a place to fit in and actually thrive.
And the higher you go through the fencing ranks, the more screaming and nastiness goes on.

There is no such thing in this country as “recreational” fencing. Everyone is pushed to attend competitions – hell, you can’t even fence without being forced to buy a “CFF” licence. What the f*ck is that??

“As of July 2006 the CFF is requiring all participants in fencing in Canada to hold a license.
$10 Register on line from CFF website http://www.fencing.ca
All OFA members are responsible to register for this license independently of the OFA.”

SO here’s another reason why Sports Canada should cut funding for this tightly-controlled “sport”.
You don’t see people shooting hoops or playing soccer in the park being forced to buy licenses, do you? I think the true measure of a sport is whether an average kid can play it in the park. Instead, it is an inbred little fraternity where everyone knows everyone by the first name.
(*waving hand* Oh, hi, Don – thanks for forcing me to buy a CFF licence this year – as if!)

Even if you don’t want to compete, there is no choice. This is how fencing is forced to remain in the hands of an archaic, elitist little bunch of snooty, inbred morons. Who force you to cough up some dough just for the privilege of participating in the sport.

Otherwise, why do they force fencers to register? Are we in a communist country where a head-count is necessary to prevent insurrections? What other sport mandates such exclusion? What other sport demands a fee to a hierarchical institution in order to be played?

This is a case of not being able to see the forest through the trees. If they really want this sport to last, they need to make it accesible to everyone. Why do you think so many people quit fencing after a couple of years? You cannot do this recreationally, and anyone who says so is lying or hasn’t been in the sport long enough to observe that competition is its only embodiment.

This is why fencing is going extinct. Not because we don’t have the need to defend ourselves through swords anymore, but because overseeing bodies like the CFF (Can Fencing Federation) have such tight controls, and nobody is playing it in the schoolyards, on the playgrounds, in the outside world.

And lastly, THIS is the reason why martial arts are so much more popular – because they can be done recreationally, for fun and relaxation, and they encourage a holistic, spiritual merging of body, mind, and soul.

Unfortunately, fencing lacks sorely in the latter.

Posted in canada, fencing, rant, wtf | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

WTF is the problem with Young People F*cking?

Posted by E on June 13, 2008

As so many of you are aware, a little independent film, which may or may not have any artistic value (I haven’t seen it yet, and even if I did, my subjective opinion has no bearing on this post) has splashed into the news, solely because of its cheeky title: Young People F*cking.

Now I don’t really know anything much about it except having heard some convoluted news reports involving Canada Arts Grants and public outrage, of the sort that goes something like: “Is this what our tax dollars are going to,” yadda, yadda, yadda.

Not that I find Arts Grants judges to be much more than an inbred, pat-each-other’s-backs sort, but ask yourself this: If this title should have been called any of the titles below, would anybody in the media have batted an eye, never mind sensationalise it to such a degree that now it is receiving top billing at film fests (as the filmmakers undoubtedly intended)?
Young People Killing
Young People being raped and murdered by psycho cannibals
Young People dismembering each other
Young People blowing each other’s heads off
Young People being torn to shreds and eaten by wild dogs
Young People being murdered by eccentric millionaires in Slovakian torture chambers
Young People being disemboweled by crazy hillbillies
Young People being hunted down by serial killers at roadside stops
Young People cannibalizing each other

Well, what do you think? Would Bill C-10 approve of any of the above? Most likely, if it’s anything like the garbage being produced by Hollywood and the television industry over the last few years? So — how many of those titles I just listed sum up any of the films you might have seen over the past year or so?

Of course, all of that gory, gross stuff is nothing compared to the rather insipid, vacuous act of Young People Fucking.

Well, at least it wasn’t called Young GAY People Fucking. It wouldn’t even make it past the screening room.

Posted in canada, censorship, commentary, culture, gay, media, movie, movie review, news, political correctness, politics, rant, thoughts, violence, wtf | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Orwellian student suspension over creative writing exercise

Posted by E on February 5, 2008

I awoke to today’s news at noon, and the insane story of a grade 12 student being suspended over a creative writing piece. The school’s justification for involving police and suspending the student: the ending culminates with a teacher being killed by a student.

 Check it out here: Story

They could have interpreted the story more than a dozen ways: as an expression of what is going on in schools today, as a literal commentary on student-teacher relations…but no. Cops have to be called in.

This makes me wonder: why are the writers of CSI Miami, Law&Order, and Numbers (to name a few), the producers and script-writers of gory flicks like Saw and Hostel arrested immediately? Why are they not interred in special custody in a barbed-wire encampment a la Guantanamo Bay and occasionally poked with pitchforks? Why aren’t all the creators of blood & gore video games arrested right on the spot? Like, today?

If you are going to stand there and justify punishing a student for a creative writing exercise that would make Stephen King giddy with excitement, then why not punish the world of which he is a mere by-product? Why ruin his chances of getting into university? Would this not actually feed any deep-seated fantasies he may harbour over doing away with his teacher – that is, since we are expected to accept this school’s decision on the premise that there was something in that story that made them want to run off and get a restraining order.

Oh wait…I know. They’re thinking of that crazy Korean guy who massacred dozens at Virginia Tech…and nobody did anything about the violent fantasies in his creative writing. But wait, other than writing some shitty fiction pieces, that guy actually harassed two students, threatened others, and scared his entire class to the point that they had him thrown out of it.

Did this Brendan Jones kid do any of these things? No. He merely handed in a homework assignment that had not been prefaced by: You can write only about pretty, lovely things, but you can’t write anything about violence in the society you are surrounded by.

Good going, you academically-stunted Heart Lake Secondary staff/jerks. How about you pass a mandate to preface every assignment your creatively-challenged staff hand out with: You shall write only that which your teacher would like to read.

Otherwise, why don’t you stick to marking the creative writing papers (gee, isn’t the very definition of “Creative” Writing that it is creative? Read: fiction) based solely on their scholastic, grammatical and topical merits, and leave your perversely-flawed subjectivity out of it.

.

Posted in canada, censorship, commentary, culture, freedom, ignorance, media, news, ontario, politics, propaganda, rant, stupidity, teaching, toronto, writer, writing, wtf | 6 Comments »

Temporarily Offline

Posted by E on January 12, 2008

Hey everyone, regular readers and new friends alike,

just letting you know that I’m in the middle of a move, and due to a crappy transition from my regular phone provider to a voip phone that is manned by the most inept company on earth with the crappiest customer service, Primus, I am now without a phone line and left to rely on stealing bandwidth from the neighbours’ infrequent and rather questionable connections.

Yes, I am feeling all shaky and going through cold sweats and being forced to go cold turkey from my internet addiction. But that is an altogether different story.

So, for the next couple of weeks I am entirely offline, and may therefore be unable to approve your witty comments and delightful banter. Please check in with me soon though, since I plan to have another post by end of January. Hopefully I can check in here once in a while, depending on how clear that infrequent and unsecured signal comes in, but can’t make any promises of new posts until end of January.

You can bet on the fact that one of my first posts will be trashing Primus and the entire concept of voip phones, which sounds pretty on paper but is virtually unmanageable in a home office. Just putting the lines together involved so many different coloured wires and instructions over the cell phone that it dawned on me it would be easier to diffuse a bomb Mission-Impossible-style than to make this shitty thing work.

Hope to see all of you soon! Wish me happy bandwidth-stealing!

Posted in personal, rant | 1 Comment »

Where are all the gay romanians?

Posted by E on January 7, 2008

gayfest-bucharest2006.jpggayrom.jpg

Where in the world are all the gay Romanians hiding? Come on, deal with the times, people – being gay has been decriminalized since 1989! It’s time for all those closet doors to bang wide open. Why are they not?

Following up on my last post about growing up under communism, I reflected on the legacy that has been passed down: one of hatred and fear of people who are different. Romanians are among the most intolerant people in Europe when it comes to gays, gypsies, and basically anyone who stands out from the self-imposed norm.

Until the 1989 Revolution, homosexuality was illegal and punishable with a 5-year mandatory prison sentence at hard labour. Since communism was toppled, however, the laws against gays were lifted, but in name only. I know there have been queer marches in Bucharest, and that there is a club or two out there. But there is virtually no internet presence to speak of.

There are plenty of sites that talk about Romanian gays, but they are written and hosted by foreigners. So where are all the Romanian gays and lesbians? What is attributable to their silence? Perhaps a combination of lack of computer skills and fear of retribution from friends and neighbours (since homosexuals have very likely taken over the number 1 most villified group in Romania, toppling the long-standing champions of that title, the Roma people, closely followed by jews and hungarians).

But whether I look online, on Facebook, on any of the other social-networking sites, there is a distinct absence of Romanian gays and lesbians.

The “New Right”, smugly claiming philosophical lineage from Eminescu and various other historical intellectuals, have marched and attacked gay parades, trying to cover up their hatred with an appeal to religion and questionable science of the sort that goes something like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” But just like all through Eastern Europe, skinheads, neo-fascists and even staunch supporters of the old communist regime have banded together calling for “normalcy”, displaying Christian symbols (what else is new?) and ranting about “we don’t want to be a nation of faggots.” I guess they have to cling to such delusions, since they’ve lost the battle over the fact that the rest of Europe sees Romania as “a nation of gypsies.” Just ask any Italian. But I digress.

The point is – where is the gay presence in Romania? Where are the websites, the online journals, the activist logs? Romania is a deeply anti-gay country, and it will stay that way until people realize that gays are not some weird creatures who stand in the shadow of street corners, trying to corrupt their children. They ARE their children, their relatives, their spouses, their co-workers, their friends. It is only fear that keeps people from living authentic lives.

This week I decided to finally write my cousin in Romania, a woman who has been pestering me to keep in touch and write more often. There was a time when she wrote only to complain and ask for money, and I usually sent it to them whenever I could. But as of late, she has been asking me more questions that I have hesitated to answer. The point is, the woman is a bigot. I remember going back to visit several years ago, and being increasingly tired of her spewing rants against the gypsies and the “poponari.” I didn’t want to stay in touch more than the occasional holiday card or two.

But finally, I wrote back and told her exactly why I didn’t feel compelled to write back often, and how this had more to do than just the simple fact that my Romanian is somewhat shitty, especially when I try to express myself – after all, I left when I was 10.

So there we have it. I’ve done my contribution to come out. I only wish I could help out in the Romanian gay community, but I can’t do much at all if there is no community beyond guys cruising in the parks.

There has to be more, there has to be more done or nothing is going to change.

http://www.owlspotting.com/2006/06/06/romania-is-so-not-gay/ – This is a cool article that I just stumbled onto while I was looking for a romanian gay presence on the web. I encourage you to read it. But one of the best parts of it is this quote:

Romanians will deny they have an aversion to gays. They will go even further and deny any form of intolerance. They might even tell you the idea that Romanians can be intolerant is part of a Western smear campaign against our country. Romanians don’t hate gays. Nor do they hate gypsies, Hungarians or blacks. They just don’t believe any of these groups are really necessary for the country to function. After all, if God intended for the Romanian people to be Hungarian black gypsies attracted to people of the same sex, he would have passed on that memo to the Orthodox Church leadership.

Romania may hide under the EU blanket, or claim that globalization has broadened the horizons of its people, but reality remains as ugly and unobstructed as always. And the only way to change things is for all its gays and lesbians to come out of the woodwork and live their lives without shame or regret.

The only site I could find on the subject is Accept’s site: http://www.accept-romania.ro/ It is well-meaning, but half of the sites in the Links section are to porn sites. Great.

Are there any Romanian gays or lesbians out there in the blogosphere? on the net? helloooooooooooooooooooooooo………………

Are there also any Roma gays or lesbians? hellooooooooooo to you as well. Please feel free to write! The only mention of roma gays is on this site: http://www.globalgayz.com/g-romania.html

If you know of any cool Romanian lesbian or gay blogs or sites (and no, not porn), please add them here and I’ll link to them. Thanks 🙂

Posted in activism, blog, communism, culture, freedom, gay, homosexuality, ignorance, lesbian, politics, rant, revolution, romania | 10 Comments »

Boycott “Awesome!” Can’t you think of any other way to express yourself?

Posted by E on October 22, 2007

If I hear the word “Awesome” one more time, I’m seriously going to hurl.

I really hate the word “Awesome”. No, I really, REALLY hate, despise, and go crazy when I hear it. The preponderance of morons who use it as a substitute for a milliard of other expressions is mind-boggling.

For all you “Awesome” lovers out there, there ARE other ways you can express yourself, you know.

If you’re having a good time or have just received a nice gift, you can use adjectives like “great, cool, neat, wonderful, brilliant, excellent.”

If you’re happy and in a good mood, you can say “I’m having a great time,” or “Fantastic!” or “Amazing”, “I’m having a blast”, “Radical” or “Super” or whatever your heart desires! If creativity is scarce, consider consulting a thesaurus – that’s what they’re there for.

Whether you’re a jock athlete after a game, a teen after a party or an office worker describing how your weekend was, can’t you find any other words beyond “Awesome” to describe your experience??

With the arrival of “Awesome!”, the sad, pathetic trend toward singular expressions in the English language has finally hit the titanic of all icebergs: every emotion, every positive experience, each nuance of happiness has come to meet under this overused and cliched umbrella word.

A friend of mine worked at a summer camp for teenagers last year, and at the end of the summer she received a gigantic Thank-You card from everybody, and I kidd you not, every single one of the youth wrote a note which included “Awesome!” i.e. “You’re an Awesome teacher, ____!” “I had an awesome time”, “Awesome camp”, Everything was so awesome”, and so on and so forth. I mean, how pathetic is that?. It’s bad enough kids these days don’t even learn to write in cursive anymore, now they can’t find any other ways or words to express themselves.

I for one have boycotted this word for the last two years. I have never used it, not once. And I have a hard time keeping myself from cringing when I hear it spewing ad nauseam from the mouths of adults who try to act hip by adopting the latest jargon.

So here’s a message to all Awesome -addicts: PLEASE, just try it for one day. ONE single day. Boycott this freaking word and see if your atrophied brain can muster up any other adjectives.
.

Posted in commentary, culture, humor, humour, life, media, personal, rant, stupidity, thoughts, weird, wtf | 6 Comments »

Another Pedophile Teacher in Korea – why am I not surprised? More details on his Myspace&ESLcafe posts

Posted by E on October 15, 2007

interpol-pic.jpg
Remember last week’s swirly pedophile photo posted by Interpol in a last-ditch attempt to catch a pervert who has been abusing kids as young as 6 years old in south-east Asia? Well, it is now believed that the guy in question is a Canadian ESL teacher working in Korea – and now on the run in Thailand. His name is Christopher Paul Neil and he is…you guessed it….a former seminary student (you know how it goes with priests and kids).
Read-this-article on the latest news in the investigation – and scroll down to the end of this blog where I give you some info on his Myspace page and other web presences.

Of course, reading this news just made me nod my head and shrug, since I’ve been convinced since my 1999-2000 teaching stint in Korea that it is a cesspool for all sorts of expat rejects and societal oddballs. If you read my previous post Expats, Writers, Degenerates and other Rarities, you may recall me talking about my loser teacher compatriots.

“During the time I was employed at my school in Seoul, out of seven foreign teachers, four were regular drug abusers who liked to chase their pot down with hard liquor. When Steve and Andy, two New York-based teachers, took their week-long holiday together in Vietnam and Thailand, they returned with a sizeable amount of marijuana and hashish. As they got high in their apartment, they laughed and shared how they managed to pull off such a feat – part of the stash had been smuggled in Steve’s rectum.”

I also remember another creep I’d met while working temporarily at another school in Inchon, an hour outside Seoul. During that month I observed that one of our fellow teachers, a middle-aged Canadian man with a predisposition toward shakiness, had a really hard time making eye contact or conversation with the other foreign teachers. In fact, the only thing he was content with was interacting with the children. He barely wanted to have anything to do with any adults around him.

Where else in the world, other than South Korea, can you go without a penny in your pocket or a resume that has been verified? The schools are so desperate for Caucasian (preferably Aryan-looking blond & blue-eyed types) instructors that they will currier down a flight ticket, pick you up at the airport, set you up in your own apartment and even give you an advance out of your first month’s paycheck.
And sojourned in Korea, cushy in your 20-hour a week job, you now find yourself in a central Asian hub – where flights to Beijing, Bangkok and Phnom Penh are only a couple of hundred dollars. The perfect long weekend awaits anyone whose intention is to slip quickly in and out of a country that boasts of cheap sex and easily-found narcotics.

In case you’re sitting there scratching your head, wondering “Where else did I hear about pedophiles working as ESL teachers in Korea?”, let me refresh your memory: remember that weirdo John Carr individual who boasted of having killed Jon Benet – if only in fantasy? Yep. He lived in Seoul too.

So…yeah. There’s no shortage of losers who find it easiest of all to be around kids, having their cake and eating it too – in South Korea.

On the guy’s Myspace page, click here to see it, along with all sorts of crappy, sappy poetry, he openly admits to being a bum who’s been “kicking around Asia, teaching mainly and finding other forms of mischief.”

Being a former avid reader of Dave’s ESLcafe forums in former years, I tracked down all of his posts over the last couple of years under the handle “Peter Jackson”. Check them out here. In one of them, he writes of having even taught kindergarden kids (the same age as the little boys he raped in Thailand and Cambodia):

Oh, I loved my kindergarten kids, but that was mostly because I saw them 5 days a week, 4 hours a day for nearly 12 months. I saw them grow in so many ways and could not help feeling lots of pride when they graduated.

I bet. In a post dated May 18, 2007, he writes under the title Encrypt:

I’ve never heard of porn been a problem in Korea. On my first trip there in 2000 I remember reading the customs declaration form while on the plane. I was SO nervous for the remaining hours on the plane because I happened to have a couple Penthouse magazines in my bag. I ended up tossing them in the bin at the airport washroom, only to find out that no one would have found them anyway.

In terms of computers, if you’re worried about any “content” there are several ways to encrypt your drive. A friend has highly recommended Truecrypt, which you can download.

If you want to get rid of old files so no one will see, then simply deleting them will not work. You’ll have to get a program like Jetico’s BC Wipe and “delete with wiping”.

He was presently teaching at Kwangju Foreign School . This is what I managed to get from the school’s website before they erased the info:

Grade 7/8-English, Social Studies : Mr. Neil
B.A. History; Seminary of Christ the King; British Columbia , Canada
Canada Teaching Certificate
E-mail Address : cpasianeil@hotmail.com

Happy sleuthing, everyone! As for me, I think I want to write about something else now, or have a shower or something. Ugh.

Posted in children, ESL, expat, interpol, korea, life, news, rant, teacher | 23 Comments »

Death in children’s movies: the loss of innocence as a subversive agenda in Hollywood

Posted by E on August 20, 2007

pets dog and cat

Although I don’t have children of my own, I used to be a children’s English teacher while working in Asia. I learned to enjoy watching movies with my class and discuss them as part of our conversation exercises. So while I don’t teach anymore these days, whenever I want to relax, I surf the channels for a family movie. I enjoy the simple entertainment and the lack of violence, dead bodies and forensic obsession that has infested regular television channels on a nightly basis.

So tonight, as I was going through the sparse choices for a movie on television tonight, I spotted a movie about two kids hiding a dog in their apartment. But these days, as a precaution before I watch any films involving animals, I did a cursory look-up of the title on the net; there is hardly anything I hate more than to watch something that has me emotionally-invested, only to find out the dog is run over by a car at the end.

Sure enough, a movie reviewer described being in the theatre seeing this particular movie, when a sad turn near the end had all the children in the audience sobbing. I’d heard enough, and I decided to watch something else.

But not before I wondered why Hollywood has decided to kill off all the animals in its movies. In mainstream films aimed at more mature audiences, dogs/rabbits/cats are murdered by crazy neighbours or obsessive stalkers a la Fatal Attraction. And in children’s films, even those churned out by Disney, the pets die as a lesson to children about how sad things happen in life.

I once again reflected on the sad state of “family” films these days. A happy ending has now become an oxymoron for any film involving pets. In the last year, there were only a couple of films involving animals where the poor beast was not killed: albeit they involved horses that were at some point injured or close to death (i.e. Dreamer, Seabiscuit).

Horses who have died in movies and children’s books: Phar Lap, Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka, My Pal Trigger, The Red Pony, etc.

These days, nearly every film involving a dog, fish, deer or lion results in the inevitable demise of a main character.

Isn’t childhood these days so fleeting that studios must still carry an agenda of “teaching important moral lessons” wrapped under the guise of death and sadness?

Ever since Bambi‘s mother was killed by a hunter, innocence has been a target on the chopping block of studio executives. In one film whose title escapes me, a young boy has to go shoot his ailing pet dog as a way to show that he is finally “becoming a man.” Update: the movie is Old Yeller, a childhood trauma favourite.

I am so sick and tired of the suggestion that kids will somehow learn certain important lessons from the heartache of losing a pet, whether their own or the brief attachment they make when they watch a beloved creature in a movie. There is enough trauma and sadness in this world without adults making it a point to provoke grief in the fragile psyches of young children.

If it isn’t Simba’s father, the great Mufasa in The Lion King, then it has to be Nemo’s mother and 498 brothers and sisters, eaten in the first 10 minutes. Littlefoot’s mother is killed in The Land Before Time; the Lion in Narnia sacrifices his life; 3 of the huskies in Snow Dogs are killed; in All Dogs Go to Heaven, Charlie is run over by a car; and so on, and so forth.

Other such favourite book-movie remakes include The Yearling, where Bambi and Bambi’s mother get killed off. Adding to this is the old Hollywood twist of having the young protagonist actually pick up a rifle and shoot their beloved and domesticated pet deer in the head.

In Where the Red Fern Grows, not one but two dogs bite the dust – a pair of loyal, beloved hounds who save their master’s life end up being killed off as some sort of symbolic demonstration of love and sacrifice. WTF??

Then there is Never Cry Wolf, Julie of the Wolves, and White Fang, in which all the wolf-dogs kick the bucket by the end. (Remember Snow Dogs which I mentioned earlier – which outdoes all its predecesors by killing 3 dogs at the end). So here is a general rule of thumb for you: don’t watch movies (or read books) involving huskies and the arctic. Not a good idea.

They all die at the end.

More random animal murders take place in film renditions of crappy books such as J.T. and Sounder, where the stories are just as miserable and full of torment and suffering as the ending of the poor dog himself.

Don’t even get me started with the whole let’s-kill-the-villains theme in kids’ movies: in Little Mermaid, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the villain is always killed at the end. I think we can beat the villain or set up a situation without always killing someone.

Whatever happened to portraying happiness? Or is that too boring for film studios? I’ll take Benji any day over Lassie, where a brave little dog is shown beaten to death, and Lassie is whipped by a bad owner.

To all readers, I ask you to help me out here. Please add your comments and name any other films you know of where the animals are killed by the end: I want to compile a list of movies I would never show a child.

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