Nov 24, 2007

One Vice I Can Do Without

If you haven't had a chance to flip through Vice Magazine, consider yourself lucky. This beautiful looking, glossy booklet of crap is available at hipster stores across the city, for free. The magazine presents itself as a hip testiment to risque journalism, an image driven, in-your-face (tits and ass) documentation of pop culture. And it even attempts to display a "concious" side, as seen in recent articles on the struggles of poor, Filipino families living in cemetery shanty towns (see Living Dead: Manila North Cemetery Houses More Warm Bodies Than Cold) and young, sex-workers in Syria (see I Went Undercover in the World of Syrian Whorehouses).

The magazine is anything but conscious. In fact, it's drenched in racist misogyny. Most of the written pieces and images are purely there for the sake of sensationalism (as seen in the piece on the sexual exploitation of young Arab girls, where the "journalist" is going on a joyride through Syrian brothels). A lack of any sort of analysis (not to mention, journalistic and artistic integrity) moves the sensationalism of these written and visual pieces from the realm of ignorant, irresponsible and oppressive to that of pure violence.

"Is is wrong to want to rape Kimberly Kane?" (quote from Triple Ecstasy, a review of a porn film, where writer mistakes misogyny for humour, or perhaps sees them as one and the same).

Pseudo Journalism. Bad politics. Shitty writing.

And a highly supported magazine with big money.

That's just messed up.

Nov 8, 2007

Breathe Life

last wednesday, on halloween night, a cop shot and killed a student of ours. Alwy Al Nadhir. eighteen years old. seven credits short of graduating this year. i didn't know Alwy but students told me he was a good soul, full of love. no one understands how he could have been killed.

the cops told media there was an armed robbery near the park. they went, saw the boys, there was an altercation. and Alwy was shot. by a cop. in the neck. eight officers witnessed this. there were eight of them. it's their words against a dead young man's and another who was shot in the shoulder and locked up.

we went to the vigil last night, at Riverdale Park, the location of the murder. i watched students breaking down, angry, and just sad. i did not grow up in Regent Park. though the community has been a big part of my life for the last 3 years. but no matter what, i speak as an outsider. my reality is different from my students'.

that's why i write this piece with caution. i don't want to sensationalize. i don't want to utilize this tragedy for another agenda. i don't want to talk about how police brutality is so rampant amongst poor, communities of color in toronto. i don't want to talk about the criminalization of young men of color. i don't want to talk about how fucked up it is to watch young people feel helpless against a racist institution that only "serves and protects" a certain segment of our population and poses a threat to the rest.

i want to remember this young man. i want to remember the way his loved ones talked about him last night. i want to remember the large number of young people who showed up last night, some Alwy's friends and others who came to show love and remember. i want to remember that in the face of injustice, in the face of death and violence, there is always the struggle for life.

i want this piece to breathe life.

Nov 6, 2007

Naive Optimist

despite everything, is it wrong to still have hope?
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