Wednesday, 7 May 2014

POST 13: OUTSOURCING/OFFSHORING: Two Cartoons


            Both these cartoons are very satirical and denounce offshoring and outsourcing, mostly in the U.S.A. The first cartoon shows Mitt Romney, who ran for president in 2012 elections in the Unites States of America,standing as the Republican candidate, but lost against Barack Obama. In this cartoon we see Romney standing on theCayman Islands, burying his treasure. This is a easily understandable metaphor of the all the offshoring he was doing to avoid tax laws. Loopholes were revealed that would allow the very rich to avoid tax laws, Romney has got 30 million dollars in Bain Capital fund in the Cayman Islands alone, which may seem a bit suspicious for a presidential candidate. I did a bit of research, and it turns out that in 2010 and 2011, Mitt Romney paid 6.2 million dollars in federal tax on 42.5 million dollars in income, which makes an average tax rate a little less than 15%, which a lot less that what most middle-income Americans pay...
      In the cartoon, we see in the backround miniature versions of Bermuda and Switzerland, two other known places for offshoring and outsourcing. Romney manages to avoid these taxes by taking his payments from Bain Capital as investment income, which is taxed at a maximum of 15%, instead of the 35% that he would and should pay normally. 
      We can also see in the cartoon, two very naive American citizens sitting on a big boat called "Believin' in America". They're congratulating him for how smart he is, and that he would make a great president. The sarcasm is more than obvious. I believe this behaviour outrageous, how can someone presenting himself for president is avoiding paying taxes for his own country! Our entire society is so corrupt that we can believe anyone anymore...


         The second cartoon also deals with offshoring, basically what most big companies are doing, is delocating their factories in under-developed countries. Even China is now delocating its factories to other South Asian countries. They do so because its way cheaper because the labour costs bearly anything. The cartoon presents two characters, one saying that they must move to another country because the one they're in actually wants to get paid, meaning that the actual workers are getting so little money, it's as if they aren't getting anything. Would I go as far as calling this our modern version of slavery? This is a total abuse of power, yet everyone does it. The character in the cartoon can't believe that they would want to get paid, that it's completely normal to force people to work for unimaginable hours, for barely anything, whilst the people at the head of the company are overflowing with money. We can relate this cartoon, and the first cartoon to the notion of "Spaces and Exchanges" with this idea of delocating factories into emerging, poor, developing countries, to pay less taxes, and pay less for the labour. The world in general is full of social inequalities, that no one is really trying to fix, but more like take advantage of.



Tuesday, 4 February 2014

POST 11: FOUR NOTIONS IN A SINGLE SONG AND VIDEO CLIP: R.E.M.- Every Day Is Yours To Win (2011)



ABOUT THE BAND (rateyourmusic.com):

Formed:

January 1980, Athens, GA, United States


Disbanded:

September 21, 2011


Members:

Michael Stipe (vocals), 

Peter Buck (guitar), 
Mike Mills (bass, keyboards, vocals),
Bill Berry (drums, 1980-97)


"The name R.E.M. would imply music that is dreamy (or sleepy), but during the Bill Berry era this band's music was always vibrant and alive, even at its most self-consciously mysterious. During the early years it was the jangle of Peter Buck's guitar and the alleged non-enunciation of Michael Stipe that got most of the attention. As the years passed, critics started noticing Berry's propulsive drumming and Mike Mills' instrumental versatility (not to mention distinctively nasal backing vocals). More than anything else, though, it was their willingness to explore new sounds that turned them from cult darlings to superstars. They've gone from Murmur's murkiness to Document's crystal clarity, from the orchestral pop of Out of Time and Automatic for the People to the hard rocking glam of Monster and the grunginess of New Adventure in Hi-Fi. Through all of these changes, the thing that stayed constant was their unerring ear for good old fashioned pop hooks, developed during adolescences spent listening to the Velvet Underground, the Beach Boys, the Monkees and various 60s garage bands (and, at least in Stipe's case, 70s bubblegum). They've definitely lost a certain spirit since Berry retired, but any new R.E.M. offering is at least worth a listen or two. They are, after all, one of the very best bands that America has ever produced."


Review of the whole album "Collapse Into Now"


by 

Righting themselves via their long-awaited return to rock AccelerateR.E.M. regrouped and rediscovered their corestrengths as a band, strengths they build upon on its 2011 sequel, Collapse into Now. Cautiously moving forward fromAccelerate’s Life's Rich Pageant blueprint, R.E.M. steer themselves toward the pastoral, acoustic moments of Out of Time and Automatic for the People without quite leaving behind the tight, punchy rockers that fueled Accelerate’s race to the end zone. This broadening of the palette is as deliberate as Accelerate’s reduction of R.E.M. to ringing Rickenbackers, and while it occasionally feels as if the bandmembers sifted through their past to find appropriate blueprints for new songs, there is merit to their madness. R.E.M. embrace their past to the extent that they disdain the modern, reveling in their comfortable middle age even if they sometimes slip into geezerhood, with Michael Stipespending more than one song wondering about kids these days. He’s not griping; he’s merely accepting his age, which is kind of what R.E.M. do as a band here, too. Over a tight 41 minutes, they touch upon all the hallmarks from when Bill Berry still anchored the band, perhaps easing up on the jangle but devoting plenty of space to rough-hewn acoustics and mandolin, rushing rock & roll, and wide-open, eerie mood pieces that sound like rewrites of “E-Bow the Letter.” Any slight element of recycling is offset by craft so skilled it almost seems casual. This may impart a lack of urgency to Collapse into Now but it also means that it delivers R.E.M. sounding like R.E.M., something that has been in short supply since the departure of Berry.

MY OWN REVIEW OF THE SONG:
    Although I have never really reviewed a song before, I shall do my best. This song is very easy to listen to, and has a great meaning behind it. I am a fan of the band R.E.M., and particularly enjoy their songs Everybody Hurts and Losing My Religion. They are two of their most famous songs, and my favourite. The song Every Day Is Yours To Win is very positive and inspiring. It gives you the feeling of being part of the world, it makes you realise we-re all human, we make mistakes, and that life is hard sometimes. But, no matter how hard life gets, you have to keep pushing, reach for your goals, do the best you can, be a hero. The video clip is a series of webcam videos of random people, which shows us how we-re surrounded by people, who feel the same as we do, who have faced things that we have, that we-re all in the same boat. This song is for me a very relaxing, pleasing song, that also makes you want to do great things, to be part of the world, to leave your mark in the sand of time, be remembered, and loved...All in all, it's a song that may not make you get up and dance, but it makes you think and look at the world with a positive point of vue.

MY OWN INTERPRETATION:

In my opinion, although the lyrics are quite abstract, I think this song is about the world being a hard place, and that ne must be strong, true to oneself, and do what makes you happy. That although the river may look hard to cross, there will always be a bridge to help you.
The video clip is a series of short webcam videos of all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. This is a very humble video, showing something of people's everyday lives, and showing a collection of people doing what seems to be what like love doing. It fits perfectly with the song because it enhances the feeling of being part of the world and being a person who can do anything they like and that no one can stop them.
In general, this song is very "human" and encouraging, it feels like the band R.E.M. are warning us that life isn't "all cherry pie", and that we can all be heroes by being true to ourselves.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

POST 10: TWO NOTIONS ILLUSTRATED IN SEAN PENN'S MOVIE, INTO THE WILD (2007)




             Having already seen this movie, I already know what it's about. So I promise not to spoil anything about the movie. This film directed by Sean Penn and based on a real story, is all about the desire to escape and return to the most basic ans natural lifestyle. Basically, the main character is escapng from society, deconnecting from everything and everyone, and leaving everything of his previous life behind. He is on a journey, a search for a place where he can just live a plain, non materialistic life. We can thus relate this movie to two of the four notions: spaces and exchanges, and the idea of progress. Firstly, the notion of spaces and exchanges, because this movie is all about travel, escape and a journey to find the ideal place to be in direct contact with nature and not be disturbed by civilisation. The main character also meets several very interesting and diverses individuals, which leads back to exchanges. The idea of progress is also present in this movie, because as said previously, this character wants to run away from the modern world, from the society that he lives in. He wants to go back to simpler times, to live in complete isolation, and he believes, like the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that man is best when in his natural surroundings. Meaning that he is sick of people, and their materialistic ways, and believes that to be happy, he must reconnect with nature.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Friday, 15 November 2013

FREE POST: Blue Jasmine



    Blue Jasmine is the last Woody Allen movie, starring Cate Blanchett in the lead role. She acts spectacularly in this film and is a considerably talented actress. The story takes place in San Francisco and New York, and tell the story of this woman, Jasmine French who was married to a successful business man who then turned out to be a corrupt thief, who stole a lot of money. He is sent to prison, all their money is gone and all their possessions are taken from them. Jasmine is left with nothing, and is a very unstable and troubled character, who has spent her whole life living the dreaming, letting everyone do everything for her. She goes to live with her sister in San Francisco, and finds herself in a working class society, which is very different to her usual upper class lifestyle. There are many events that occur, and Jasmine becomes more and more unstable and even psychotic. As not to ruin the rest of the movie, I shall not say anything more, but I sincerely think that it is worth seeing. Cate Blanchett gives a remarkable performance, the movie itself is witty, funny, but also rather dramatic, sad and moving. A real success in my opinion and this film is a masterpiece we've been waiting for, seeing as the last few Woody Allen movies were all a bit deceiving. 
 We can compare the scenario to an old classic called A Streetcar Named Desir starring Marlon Brando, but it is different and the director puts in his own style and sense of humour. All in all this movie is a must-see and what really defines this movie is Cate Blanchett's  incredible performance.

Monday, 11 November 2013

POST 8: GAME OF THRONES (Your Choice of a Film or Series dealing with the notion of 'Power')



     I have chosen this series because it deals with several forms of power. This series is all about power, where it comes from and what different people do with it. The notion of power is seen mainly through political power and royal power, but can also be seen with supernatural power (dragons,etc...). What I really love about this series is that no one is safe, everyone's power is changeable in the blink of an eye, and characters are continually being killed off, no matter how important they are. This means that you never know what to expect, you are always surprised and can never predict what's going to happen next. 
       Game of Thrones was first and foremost a series of books written by George R. R. Martin. These books were then transformed into an extremely popular TV series by HBO. There are three seasons already made, and a fourth shall be coming out in May 2014. 
   The story is based in an imaginary world, in which there are seven kingdoms. It can easily be compared to the atmosphere in Lord of The Rings, being full of mystical creatures and big battle scenes. It relates to the form of power through several ficticious realms and monarchs. Practically each character is fighting for their right to be king or queen. Even when you think that a character has absolute power, there's always someone planning to take it from him. There are mainly four separate families: House of Stark, House of Lannister, House of Baratheon and House of Targaryen. Through the stories of all these families and many many many characters, we can ask ourselves several questions about power. For example, what connection does it have to morality? How does it affect people's behaviour? What is the real definition of power? Is it political, military even supernatural? Where does this power come from?

                                      game-of-thrones-chart.jpg


   Each character represents a certain form of power, it can be bravery, loyalty, love, intelligence, honesty, physical strength, moral strength, supernatural gifts and many more. The theme of revenge is often brought up in this series, and the determination of getting back what is rightfully their's.

    Some find that this series contains too much nudity and can be rather boring at times, because the episodes are quite long (1 hour) and there are very long scenes in which there are only two characters talking. But there are also very intense and epic moments, there is a lot of drama. 
   This series is very entertaining, and that's the main goal of any kind of entertainement: to entertain. There are also a lot of questions asked in this series about power and what is truely important in life. 


Friday, 1 November 2013

POST 7: THE NOTION OF POWER as exemplified in Brian De Palma's Redacted movie





The film Redacted, directed by Brian De Palma in 2007, deals with the very controversial issue of the war in Irak. It shows very graphic and horrifying images of American soldiers in the Middle East. This film is based on real events, making it even more alarming. It wants to criticize not only the bad behavior of American soldiers, but also how the truth his hidden from us by the media. In one of the trailers it says:
 "Truth is the first casualty of war." 
This movie is filmed as if it were an American soldier who was filming everything with his own camera, creating a very realistic feeling, making it even harder to watch.
This film is extremely shocking and polemical because it shows the gritty truth, it shows unimaginable things, things that have been kept from us. It can be related to the notion of power because it denounces America's role in this war, how they abused their power to behave extremely badly. It also denounces the horror that was happening and that the media wasn't showing us, this is a kind of power, the power of knowledge and awareness. Technically the media isn't the one to blame, it is the government that controls the media who is really to blame. So we can talk about censorship, and legal restrictions. 

SYNOPSIS: (IMDb)
This film is about the real-life rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers with shocking images that will leave some viewers in tears.

Inspired by one of the most serious crimes committed by American soldiers in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, it spares the audience no brutality to get its message across.

Made in a deliberately episodic form, Redacted tells various stories about the war in Iraq, ostensibly from different viewpoints. One film portion by a French filmmaker tells the story of U.S. soldiers watching over checkpoints. In another episode, a superior soldier makes a casual mistake dealing with garbage that was set out in a road and is blown to bits. It's all leading to the pivotal rape and murder of the pretty girl who is discovered by the soldiers on a raid of an Iraqi house in order to find evidence. One night, the drunken and mostly morally lost U.S. soldiers discuss going back for the "skank" whom they saw in the house they raided. One soldier straps a camera to his helmet, and the footage of the girl's rape is secured.

The rest of the film mostly deals with measures taken by the army against the criminals. A final scene has a soldier from the criminals' unit confessing to his friends a war story that he will never forget: the plundering and murder of the Iraqi girl.

REVIEW: (All Movie Guide)
In the years following the start of the second Iraq war, numerous filmmakers tried to grapple with the thorny issues at play there. But few made quite so clinical an approach as Brian De Palma in Redacted. Since many of those films were considered misfires, a different approach might not be such abad thingDe Palma presents an array of media -- a French documentary, an al-Qaeda website, a blog by a soldier's wife -- as if stockpiling evidence for a trial designed to determine some kind of universal truth. The story's backbone is the amateur footage shot by a soldier named Angel (Izzy Diaz), who hopes to parlay his observations into acceptance at film school after returning home. Through this we meet the five central characters. All of this is fictitious, of course, leaving Redacted in the category of "fictional documentary." The results can feel simplistic and on the nose, but that's partly intentional. De Palma's scenario is constructed specifically to have an every-soldier feel to it, dealing primarily with the brutal rape of an Iraqi teenager and the killing of her family. In this way, De Palmaindicts all American soldiers in all wars (accusations of such behavior ran rampant in Vietnam), and even the very mentality engendered by invasions and occupations, regardless of who's doing the invading/occupying. Nor does he let the locals off the hook, intimating that they look the other way when roadside bombs kill American soldiers. De Palma's serious purpose doesn't mean he's overcome by sobriety, however. Some of the camaraderie among soldiers is disturbing, but some is downright funny. In all, the cast of unknowns convinces us they're real grunts just caught up in a cycle far bigger than they are, one that has repeated down through the decades, where no one is really innocent.