In Australia there is a strong and vitriolic reaction by the media, politicians and public to asylum seekers arriving by boat. These asylum seekers are often described as ‘economic migrants’ and not believed to be ‘genuine refugees’ because they have not come through the official channels. This is despite the fact that official channels for seeking asylum are often inaccessible to people caught in conflict or in fear of persecution, or even non-existent in many of these places.
Human made structures such as the Great Wall, Machu Picchu, the Colosseum, the Great Pyramid, and many others around the world that have lasted through the ages, inspire awe because of their scale, purpose, design, and history. These feats of human imagination and ambition also elicit another kind of awe – of the human cost in building them.
A recent blog post about the killing of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, Trayvon Martin Was A Floozie provides an insightful analysis of the parallels between the way racism and sexism are perpetuated and cease to be understood as prejudices within society and institutions. The post focuses on some of the arguments surrounding the controversial case in the US and specifically looks at how violence is justified, comparing common defences used in the murder of African-Americans and the rape of women. There are other articles and commentaries such as What should Trayvon Martin have done? that also point out similarities in the treatment of African-American and women victims of violence.
This week I watched the film Cloud Atlas, which is based on the David Mitchell novel of the same name. I recently read the novel and really liked it, so, I wasn’t keen to watch the movie. After all, film versions of much-loved novels rarely live up to expectations.
I was somewhat reluctant to watch it for another reason: I had read that in scenes set in a futuristic dystopian Korea, characters who are supposed to be Korean are played by Caucasian actors made up to look Korean. Why in this day and age would you use Caucasian actors for non-Caucasian characters? In a time when communication and travel between countries and continents is the easiest it has ever been, why couldn’t the film-makers hire actors with the right heritage or ‘look’ for the role?