Monday, 21 March 2011

Why so extreme?

The ideas of radicals is a hard one to comprehend. There are extremists of all faith, nationalities and ideals but they are hardly noticed. The world is selective. Selective with prejudices, stereotypes, religions and, also, extremists. What constitutes an extreme view or an extreme reaction? There are the obvious cases but what about the forgotten, well, ignored ones.

The most obvious one is the view on Muslims and the Islam faith. Let’s clear up some things. Most commonly the interpretation of Jihad. The word Jihad means struggle, whether they are faith struggles, Muslim society or the misinterpreted struggle to defend Islam. The fact that extremists claim that the word of Allah says to attack all who impose Islam as an act of Jihad is a misinterpretation but more than likely a lie imposed to brain wash. People like Al Qaeda make money from brainwashing and doing these things. Act of religion? It’s more an act of greed, hypocritically. Jihad forbids war unless ALL rules are broken, humanitarian rules mostly and they are not the reason for terrorist attacks.

The fact that all extremists are now linked with Muslims is horrendously ignorant. Another irritation is that everyone from the middle-east wears a turban when Sikhs wear the turbans. They have suffered just as much as Muslims thanks to the extremists and terrorists and suffered hate crimes for nothing. So have Muslims. How can you correct that with such terrible media around? For example, The Sun, The News of the World, Daily Express and other terrible papers. They’d rather raise panic and racism to sell papers than give facts. There are extremists of every single viewpoint, they are the extreme thought of the idea but they’re never brought up.

I was told to - when deciding on what to write - to bring up the lesser acknowledged and more ignored extreme groups. Catalonians are extreme too. I know they’re not ignored entirely but they aren’t exactly slandered or hated. There is a civil war in Spain which has just calmed down recently. When I went to Salou in Spain, there were loads of posters up about anti-Spanish government and freeing Catalonia. There was even a demonstration in Barcelona which wasn’t violent, fortunately. There have been plenty of violent demonstrations though yet they are ignored. There are extremists there who deem violence a necessity. They hinder their cause with these demonstrations, becoming the villain. Are they ever defined as extremists? Are the Catalonians stereotyped as terrorists because of this?

Let’s move on to the most horrendous of extremists. The highly ignored Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is the most disgusting excuse of “religion” ever. I’m not claiming to be all knowledgeable on this matter since I was educated by Louis Theroux on the matter but they are an atrocity. They picket funerals claiming the - now deceased - are “burning in hell” for their “FAG sins”, how lovely. No one ever associates this church with Christianity though so why is it acceptable to do it to other faiths? Is it because they’re not as ignorant on Christianity? No slander or libel behind it? Their media attention - in the UK - is few and far between and they’re simply dismissed as lunatics or as a hate group. Muslims don’t get the courtesy of not being wrongly labelled.

These people actually thank their God for the atrocity of 9/11, the war in Iraq which kills “non-believers” and kills their own troops and believe in anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and are against anything and everything. They celebrate the deaths of celebrities as they’re all fags. They claim that “the only true Nazis in this world are fags.” Yet they are simply ignored and dismissed from Christianity and Christians are never stereotyped as these people.

What about the people who parade the streets picketing and claiming we’re all going to go to Hell? We ignore those too. I don’t understand the selective prejudice of the world. Most faiths are stereotyped but Christians have the most calm and “neutral” stereotype next to Buddhists. I don’t understand this when they have such an aggressive faith which finds the need to shove their religion down your throat until you’re spewing up Bible verses. Christians even ignore the Old Testament even though it’s the basis of their faith and mock Judaism for their views when they’re actually based on that entire religion. Ignorance is so irritating and it really disappoints me.

What about unnecessary nationalism? Many demonstrations have turned violent and I point you towards the KKK which is based upon Christian views. White supremacists who attack all of those against their views in their neo-Nazi views of racism, xenophobia and anti-immigration. They’re unnecessarily patriotic and are, quite simply, terrorists. They are Christian terrorists, a hate group who attack innocent people who aren’t Christians or who aren’t white. Famous for their attacks on Hispanic and African-American people. They terrorised people by applying fear and violence to these poor people but Christians aren’t all stereotyped as KKK members, are they?

I know I’m sounding like a broken record now, reiterating the same point and mostly about Christianity but it’s true. The world ignores such things but when forty-three Muslims burned a poppy on remembrance day, they condemned an entire religion as disrespectful and voiced their hatred by implying that we deport all Muslims and, in some extreme cases, murder them. Hitler style ethnic cleansing was their suggestion because of forty-three extremists, seems fair. Now I’ll start a hate group about everyone religious because of the “holy” wars which have plagued our lives. The Gaza strip, Irish civil war, WW2 and many other religious-bred wars. Apparently, a world without ignorance is a pipe-dream which will never happen. No matter how hard I try, I’m not going to change the world and I’m not going to stop this. As long as I change an opinion of one person or open the eyes to the intolerance of others, I’ll be happy. Then again, will anyone who has these view points ever read anything which isn’t propaganda?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

I Am Number Four.

I Am Number Four cover.

When I saw the description of "Twilight with aliens" it was safe to say all semi-interest from the trailer was quickly crushed with the ideal of more annoying teen fandom, making even more philistines. After much debate and rejection of my Battle: Los Angeles suggestion, we decided to go see this. Walking into one of the smaller screens with the ring of pre-pubescent giggling and the odd terrible joke which quipped from their witty mouths safely affirmed my previous teen - probably more tween - judgement.

Plot: John is an extraordinary teen, masking his true identity and passing as a typical high school student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him. Three like him have already been killed ... he is Number Four.

I still forced myself to keep an open mind on this film though. I know that certifications mean nothing but I'm a fan of nothing being censored. I'm not saying there needs to be swearing and a lot of bloody and gory violence but it helps with a realism attribute if you block out blood which is inevitable in an action film. I know you shouldn't accept realism from sci-fi but it still helps.

It's based on a book by Pittacus Lore - which is a pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes who collaborated to create this book and made a special name for it, clever. The story is about an alien who looks like a human who's just trying to fit in. He's going through that awkward adolescence stage too so he has a profusion of problems with the added strain of being an extra-terrestrial. He is one of nine survivors from his planet and John, played by Alex Pettyfer who played Alex Ryder, is number four. They have to be killed in order, presumably, and are being pursued by the Mogadorians. These are the special children of their planet who have a responsibility to rebuild their society - which raises questions of potential inbreeding. I'm guessing they are the protectors and have to defeat what destroyed their civilisation (the Mogadorians) and there are others but not many. It's not fully explained but it will be, possibly. If not in the films it will be in the planned six-book series.

Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Callan McAuliffe, Kevin Durand and Dianna Agron

It's labelled as a romantic thriller as puppy love envelopes the first half. Then with the added volumes of angst and misunderstanding of the characters, it is heading the way of being very cliché. John is forced to move again with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant who brought us such "classics" as The Crazies and Die Hard 4.0) and ends up in an ironically named town called Paradise in Ohio. The first half is about the love story of John and Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron of Glee fame) and how they develop. She's a shy, keen photographer who is pretty much alone until John makes an impression on her. The first half is about them and their ever-growing bond.

Trying to remain invisible in a small town school is a challenge, especially if you're now getting alien powers which illuminate a dark room. John's powers consist of super strength, telekinesis (which can be controlled via his mind or his hands) and the ability to illuminate his hands and use that as a heat source of a weapon; maybe it's concentrated energy, I'm not sure, it's not explained.

John also befriends the local alien enthusiast, sci-fi loving, comic book reading geek named Sam (Callan McAuliffe). He is bullied by the typical social hierarchy of the jocks who are led by Mark (Jake Abel from Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief). So we've got the clichés all in force for this film then. The jock antagonist, the bullied nerd, misunderstood hot girl and the new kid who's the spanner in the works, intertwining all of their lives. I suppose if you look passed the unoriginal character base it is more interesting than the norm. The only problem is you're surrounded by the far too familiar surrounding with an annoying "love" story of the first half. I'm all for romances but the whole "love after a week" ideal drives me insane and this annoyed me to a great end.

Quote from Sam: "[Explaining his good aim] I play a lot of Xbox..."

Getting passed that idea, all the clichés and the terrible and cheesy script it's hard to see where the film actually gets good. It does though. It kicks in with the tattooed, blood-thirsty Mugadorians, who are led by the underrated Kevin Durand. There's finally tension in a film when they're introduced and it turns into something it should have been from the beginning. A more action and thriller orientated film, rather than cashing in on the Twilight glory by adding a romance story with very little depth.

The film (and book I suppose) is clever because they do actually twig an interest in the film and the potential series. Not only do you care about the characters but you have genuine intrigue in his alien life, why he has flash-light hands, what happened to his ancestors and so on. The character I cared more about was Sam as his father was missing which is hinted to be an abduction of some sort; alien orientated no doubt. There are many other things that interest you like the other children. This has the potential to be incredibly successful if done properly but will it be?

This is more of a B-film with a pretty hefty budget for CGI. The CGI isn't the best I've ever seen but it's not terrible. With the second half spectacle and the introduction of sexy number six the film does pick up and actually make it enjoyable to watch. If only the first half monotony hadn't made you bitter and bored it would have been a much better film. I must admit that I mocked this film a lot with Haz. We mocked the script mostly which was poorly written and combined with ultimate cheesiness. No one wants to hear Sam quip why his aim his good on an Xbox. That doesn't even make sense anyway. A joystick is nothing like the real thing. There are plenty of lines like "I know how to blend in" then a cut to John tactically putting his hood up. He's a master of disguise!

If you can get passed the first half's bore fest which is supposed to be enlighten you on the character backgrounds then it becomes interesting. It becomes the first of what could be a great series, eclipsing Percy Jackson's brief flirt with cinema. That's if it gets the go ahead to make more, which I'm doubting. It's barely been advertised, only four screenings per day in my local cinema, in one of the smaller screens too. People don't know about the film or really want to go see it, I know of no one really. If it doesn't get the money then it won't make more films and the loss of a potentially interesting series, which'll be a shame.

I'm being generous because of the potential series.