Saturday, May 30, 2015

Resources for May 30, 2015




Murray, Noel, et al. The Royal Tenenbaums forum: Failure, depression, and other varieties of family fun." The Dissolve (March 5, 2014)

Phipps, Keith. "The restless dreams and lonely highways of Two-Lane Blacktop." The Dissolve (May 26, 2015)

Chan, Scrystal. "How to write a film on a piano: Norman McLaren’s visual music." Sight and Sound (September 16, 2014)

Graeber, David. "What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?" The Baffler #24 (2014)

Sage, Tyler. "Wolfen: They Might Be Gods." Jump Cut #56 (2014)

Graeber, David. "Dickheads: The Paradox of Neckties." The Baffler #27 (2015)

Scott, Suzanne. "Starship Troopers: The Massacre Is the Message." Reverse Shot (June 22, 2003)

Romney, Jonathan. "The stars of Girlhood: ‘Our poster is all over Paris, with four black faces on it…’" The Guardian (March 4, 2014)





"John Waters." Close Up #5 (November 2014) ["On the occasion of our comprehensive John Waters retrospective in September, Eugene Hernandez sat down with the director at his New York apartment to talk about his career and influences. For this episode, we're happy to present that conversation as well as one between film critic J. Hoberman and the director after a screening of his 1974 film, 'Female Trouble.'"]

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

David Graeber: Anthropologist

David Graeber: Anthropologist

@davidgraeber


Calhoun, Craig and David Graeber. "The Democracy Project." The London School of Economics and Political Science." (April 30, 2013)

Glaser, Eliane. "Bureaucracy: Why won’t scholars break their paper chains?" Times Higher Education (May 21, 2015)

Graeber, David. "Concerning the Violent Peace-Police: An Open Letter to Chris Hedges." N + 1 (February 9, 2012) [More Resources: an archive of Chris Hedges statements, other statements and an introduction from Michael Benton]

---. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2011 [PDF file of the Book: also available Here]

---. "Debt: The First Five Thousand Years." Mute (February 10, 2009)

---. "Dickheads: The Paradox of Neckties." The Baffler #27 (2015)

---. Direct Action. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2009. [Entire book in PDF format]

---. "Ferguson and the Criminalization of American Life." Gawker (March 19, 2015)

---. "Occupy and anarchism's gift of democracy. The US imagines itself a great democracy, yet most Americans despise its politics. Which is why direct democracy inspires them." The Guardian (November 15, 2011)

---. "Occupy Wall Street's anarchist roots: The 'Occupy' movement is one of several in American history to be based on anarchist principles." Al Jazeera (November 30, 2011)

---. "On Bureaucratic Technologies & the Future as Dream-Time." School of Visual Arts (January 19, 2012)

---. "The Bully’s Pulpit: On the elementary structure of domination." The Baffler #28 (2015)

---. "On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs." libcom (August 20, 2013)

---. "A Practical Utopian's Guide to the Coming Collapse." The Baffler #22 (2013)

---. "Roy Bhaskar obituary: One of the most influential voices in the philosophy of science and a political revolutionary." The Guardian (December 4, 2014)

---. "The Shock of Victory." UK Indymedia (October 15, 2007)

---. "What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?" The Baffler #24 (2014)

Graeber, David and Richard Wolff. "The Vast Machine to Perpetuate Hopelessness (Marxian Class Analysis 1)." Unwelcome Guests #624 (October 6, 2012)

Graeber, David and Thomas Pikkety. "Soak the Rich An exchange on capital, debt, and the future." The Baffler #25 (2014)

Graeber, David, et al. "Let Your Life Be A Friction (To Stop The Machine)." Unwelcome Guests (March 3, 2012)

---. "Occupy 2.0 (Peer Produced Politics)." Unwelcome Guests (March 10, 2012)

---. "The Psychology of Transition: Undoing Millennia of Social Control." Unwelcome Guests #597 (March 31, 2012)

---. "Resisting The Military Financial Complex (Just Say No To Debt Repayment)." Unwelcome Guests (September 22, 2012)

---. "Waking Up And Smelling The Kool-Aid (The Rhetoric and Practice of Finance Capital)." Unwelcome Guests (September 28, 2012)

Evans, Ellen and Jon Moses. "Interview with David Graeber." The White Review (December 2011)

Isquith, Elias. "'I found myself turning into an idiot!': David Graeber explains the life-sapping reality of bureaucratic life." Salon (March 5, 2015)

Kunkel, Benjamin. "Forgive Us Our Debts." The London Review of Books 34.9 (May 10, 2012)

Sanneh, Kalefa. "Paint Bombs: David Graeber’s “The Democracy Project” and the anarchist revival." The New Yorker (May 5, 2013)





Resources for May 26, 2015

Hersh, Seymour M. "The Killing of Osama bin Laden." London Review of Books 37.10 (May 2015)

A.V. Club on the 100 Best Films of the Decade (so far): 51-100; 21-50; and 1-20

Kimmel, Michael S. "Masculnity as Homophobia." (2000: PDF posted on Nicole Stokes-Dupass's Union County College faculty website)

"Bennet Miller." Close Up #4 (November 2014) ["Bennett Miller talks FOXCATCHER, his influences, and the art of filmmaking at an HBO Directors Dialogue during the 52nd New York Film Festival."]

"My Reaction to Mad Max: Fury Road and the Utter Perfection that is Imperator Furiosa." NOSPOCKDASGAY@TUMBLR.COM (May 19, 2015)

Nichols, Mike and Elaine May. "Mike Nichols, Part 1." Close Up #6a (December 2014) ["In this special two-part episode of The Close-Up, we pay tribute to the late Mike Nichols. For Part 1, we present a conversation between Mike Nichols and Elaine May after a screening of May's "Ishtar" here at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 2006."]

Mayer, Sophie. "'She's getting back in the frame': Interview with Céline Sciamma." The F Word (May 5, 2015)

Taylor, Ella. "Blow-Up: Bechdel Testing …. 1, 2." Keyframe (May 26, 2015) ["The larger question is, should we be trying to influence or legislate how many or what kind of women characters go into a movie?"]

Bourke, Liz. "Sleeps With Monsters: Mad Max: Fury Road." Tor (May 26, 2015)

Sandhu, Sukhdev. "American refugees: Bill Morrison’s The Great Flood." Sight and Sound (March 19, 2014) ["Bill Morrison, expert aesthetician of decay and disappearance, turns his attention to the forgotten flood that devastated interwar America."]

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Resources for May 21, 2015

Iannone, Pasquale. "Age of Innocence: Childhood on Film." Sight and Sound 24.4 (April 2014) ["Cinema’s fascination with childhood is as old as the medium itself, enabling filmmakers to depart from conventional modes of storytelling as they exploit an adult awareness to reflect the undoubted otherness of youthful experience."]

Friedersdorf, Conor. "How the DEA Harasses Amtrak Passengers: A mathematician describes how his rights were apparently violated during a trip to Washington, D.C." The Atlantic (May 2015)

Barnes, Henry. "Cannes faces backlash after women reportedly barred from film screening for not wearing high heels." The Guardian (May 19, 2015)

Richter, Nicole. "Filming the Impossible: An Interview with Catherine Breillat." Reverse Shot (May 19, 2015)

Sobczynski, Peter. "'I'm Just Here for the Gasoline': An Overview of the Mad Max Saga." Balder and Dash (May 11, 2015)

Scott, A.O. "The Player." The Cinephiliacs #22 (July 14, 2013)





Williams, Linda. "Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess." Film Quarterly 44.4 (Summer, 1991): 2-13.

Child, Ben. "Maggie Gyllenhaal: At 37 I was 'too old' for role opposite 55-year-old man." The Guardian (May 21, 2015)

Brody, Richard, Héloise Godet and Lawrence Kardish. "Discussing Godard." The Close Up #3 (November 2014)

Telaroli, Gina. "Brigadoon." The Cinephiliacs #23 (July 28, 2013)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Resources for May 16, 2015







"Repo Man." The Cinematologists #1 (March 23, 2015)





Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia/USA: George Miller, 2015) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Keeney, Gavin. "Seance C.M." Senses of Cinema #64 (September 2012)

"Bande À Part." Cinematologists #2 (March 23, 2015)

Women and Cinema Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

hooks, bell. "The Oppositional Gaze." Black Looks: Race and Representation South End Press, 1992: 115-131.

Smith, Valerie. "Reconstituting the Image: The Emergent Black Woman Director." Callaloo 37 (Autumn 1988): 709-719.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia/USA: George Miller, 2015)




Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia/USA: George Miller, 2015: 120 mins)

Benedict, Steven. "Mad Max: Fury Road." (Audio: May 16, 2015)

Bourke, Liz. "Sleeps With Monsters: Mad Max: Fury Road." Tor (May 26, 2015)

Cahput, Edgar. "Mad Max: Fury Road modernizes the franchise without losing its identity in the slightest." Sound on Sight (May 17, 2015)

Chang, Justin. "Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road." Variety (May 11. 2015)

Coyle, Jake. "Amid Male Landscape of 'Mad Max,' Charlize Theron Dominates." ABC (May 14, 2015)

Digging Deeper. "Vehicles of Masculinity." (Posted on Youtube: October 26, 2015)

Dockterman, Eliana. "Vagina Monologues Writer Eve Ensler: How Mad Max: Fury Road Became a ‘Feminist Action Film.’" Time (May 7, 2015)

Futrelle, David. "Furious about Furiosa: Misogynists are losing it over Charlize Theron’s starring role in Mad Max: Fury Road." We Hunted the Mammoth (May 12, 2015)

Galibert-Laîné, Chloe. "Why Framing Matters in Movies." Fandor (Posted on Youtube: December 30, 2015)

Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra. "Furious and Furiosa." Overland (May 15, 2015)

Hudson, David. "George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD: “Grand Theft Auto revamped by Hieronymus Bosch.” Keyframe (May 11, 2015)

Lee, Kevin B. "Video Evidence: Oscar 2016, Best Cinematography." Keyframe (February 3, 2016)

---. "Video Evidence: Oscar 2016, Best Director." Keyframe (February 4, 2016)

Lerer, Diego and Adrian Martin. "Mad Max: Fury Road Wins FIPRESCI Grand Prix." FIPRESCI (September 1, 2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road Critics Round Up (Ongoing Archive)

"Mad Max: Fury Road / Top 5 Car Scenes." Filmspotting #539 (May 22, 2015)

"Mad Max Special Part 1." Sordid Cinema #98 (May 19, 2015)

"Mad Max Special Part 2." Sordid Cinema #99 (May 24, 2015)

Mancini, Vince. "Mad Max: Fury Road Might Be The Best Action Movie Of The Last 10 Years." Uproxx (May 13, 2015)

McKenna, Juliet, et al. "Fight Scenes and Women Warriors." Breaking the Glass Slipper 2.8 (April 13, 2017) ["As Kameron Hurley discusses in her Hugo Award-winning article, ‘We Have Always Fought‘, women have always fought. So why don’t we see more women warriors in science fiction and fantasy novels? History is full of women on battlefields and in brawls, even if the history books might gloss over it. Remember: much of the history we hold as the gold standard was written by men who were reinforcing the social structures they created. When it comes to fight scenes, there’s already enough to think about without worrying about gender representation (and no, that’s not an excuse…). A well-written fight scene is a rare gem. We talk to writer and martial artist Juliet McKenna about the common mistakes writers make when writing fight scenes, from grand military battles to a pub fight, we talk weapons, fight styles, point of view, and more. What makes a fight scene interesting? How much detail is too much? And it wouldn’t be an episode of Breaking the Glass Slipper without us championing some of our favourite examples of great women warriors in SFFH."]

Miller, George. "Mad Max: Fury Road." The Treatment (February 24, 2016)

Rwehera, Bill. "Seven Samurai: Fury Road." Keyframe (April 30, 2017)

Selby, Jenn. "Mad Max heroine Charlize Theron on female roles in Hollywood: 'You're either a really good mother, or a really good hooker.'" The Independent (May 15, 2015)

Sobczynski, Peter. "'I'm Just Here for the Gasoline': An Overview of the Mad Max Saga." Balder and Dash (May 11, 2015)

Swinney, Jacob T. "The Chameleonic Charlize Theron." Keyframe (Match 13, 2017)

Vaughn, L.J. "My Reaction to Mad Max: Fury Road and the Utter Perfection That Is Imperator Furiosa." The Mary Sue (May 29, 2015)












Resources for May 15, 2015

Coyle, Jake. "Amid Male Landscape of 'Mad Max,' Charlize Theron Dominates." ABC (May 14, 2015)

Kimmelman, Michael. "Van Gogh: The Courage & the Cunning." The New York Review of Books (February 5, 2015)

Panda, Robo. "Men’s Rights Activist Site Calls For A Boycott Of Mad Max: Fury Road." Uproxx (May 13, 2015)

Mancini, Vince. "Mad Max: Fury Road Might Be The Best Action Movie Of The Last 10 Years." Film Drunk (May 13, 2015)

Mattie, Joanna Di. "Hiroshima mon amour." Senses of Cinema (September 2013)

Greenberg, Michael. "The NY Police vs. the Mayor." The New York Review of Books (February 5, 2015)

Janis, Stephen. "Baltimore: Problems And Conditions Precipitating Police Brutality In The Community!" Building Bridges Radio (May 4, 2015)

Hudson, David. "George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD: “Grand Theft Auto revamped by Hieronymus Bosch.” Keyframe (May 11, 2015)

Mulvey, Laura. ""Afterthoughts on 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." Feminist Film Theory ed. Sue Thronham. New York University Press, 1999: 122–30.

Barber, William. "Calls for a New Reconstruction in America through Grassroots Activism For Racial and Economic Justice." Building Bridges Radio (May 12, 2015)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Resources for May 7, 2015










Sakharov, Alik. "The Sopranos - Pt. 1." and "The Sopranos - Pt. 2." American Cinematographer (No Date)

Kurant, Willy. "The Immortal Story." American Cinematographer (2010)





Silverstein, Melissa. "Infographic: Cannes Women Filmmakers By the Numbers 2005-2015 #SeeHerNow." Women and Hollywood (May 6, 2015)

Hallward-Driemeier, Douglas. "Making the Case: A conversation with one of the lawyers who argued last month’s big gay-rights case at the Supreme Court." Amicus #17 (May 2, 2015) ["Dahlia Lithwick takes you inside the courtroom for the arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, last month’s much-anticipated gay marriage case at the U.S. Supreme Court. Dahlia is joined by Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, one of three lawyers who argued against same-sex marriage bans. Together, they listen to some of the highlights from oral argument, consider the main legal questions at play, and reflect on the stories of the couples who brought the challenge in the first place."]

Hafetz, Jonathan and Stephen Vladek. "Throwing Away the Key: Has the Supreme Court turned its back on Guantánamo?" Amicus #13 (March 14, 2015)

Donahue, and Peter Glaser. "Mercury Rising: The coal industry and 22 states ask the Supreme Court to throw out new restrictions on toxic emissions." Amicus #14 (March 28, 2015)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Resources for May 5, 2015







Holloway, Jonathan. "AFAM 162 - African American History: From Emancipation to the Present." Open Yale Courses (Spring 2010) ["The purpose of this course is to examine the African American experience in the United States from 1863 to the present. Prominent themes include the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction; African Americans’ urbanization experiences; the development of the modern civil rights movement and its aftermath; and the thought and leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X."]

Adams, Melissa. "Bloody Diamonds." Dialogic Cinephilia (May 4, 2015)

Belfiglio, Natalie. "Blood in the Water." Dialogic Cinephilia (May 5, 2015)

Houkal, Chris. "Serbian Five-String Serenade." Facets Features (December 15, 2014)





Podcasts/Videocasts/Courses Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Kennedy, A.L. "Sartre and the Individual." A History of Ideas (April 15, 2015) ["Writer AL Kennedy on Existentialist ideas about the individual. Jean Paul Sartre argued that, for humans, 'existence preceded essence'. This means that there is no blueprint or template from which to work - humans are free to make themselves up as they go along. Being an individual comes from the way you negotiate this freedom and the choices you make in the face of it."]




Monday, May 4, 2015

Natalie Belfiglio: Blood in the Water

(English 102 -- Professor Benton)


Blood in the Water


What comes to mind when you hear the word “shark”? Do you think of Steven Spielberg’s movie, Jaws (1975)? Shark Week? Man-eaters? Monsters? Sharks have been given a bad reputation over the years, which is why some people only see them as mindless killers, and that they, the people, are the shark’s prey, when in reality the tables are turned. The objective of this essay is to argue that people are more of a threat to sharks than they are to us. Why we need sharks and why they need us, and reasons why they should be protected instead of hunted are also topics I will be discussing.

Sharks have fascinated people for hundreds of years, and it’s not hard to see why. There are over 400 different species of shark, each with unique characteristics. The tiger shark, which is known for its tiger-like stripes on it’s back, is known as the “garbage can of the ocean”. They’ve been known to eat just about anything, ranging from sea turtles to suits of armor. Another shark, known for its aggressiveness in particular, is the bull shark. The unique thing about bull sharks is their ability in live in both salt water and fresh water. One of the most curious and misunderstood species of shark however, is carcharodon carcharias, better known as the great white shark. Being the largest known predatory fish, some grow up to twenty feet in length and weigh in at over 4,000 pounds, and can be found cruising in temperate warn and tropical waters. Their diet consists of sea lions, elephant seals, occasionally other sharks and on rare occasions they have been known to mistake humans as prey. (Bradford) It is difficult to wrap one’s head around the fact that there are great whites living in our oceans.

Now imagine this; what if a huge great white shark came to an island and had a taste for human flesh and it didn’t go away? That is exactly what Peter Benchley thought when he read an article in the newspaper about a fisherman who caught a 4,500-pound great white shark off the East coast of Montauk, New York, and the idea for Jaws was made. Benchley would go on to write Jaws, and it became a bestseller. Even before the novel, Benchley studied sharks and was fascinated with them, however at the time the behaviors of sharks, especially the great white, were unknown. Many people thought that the book might make a great movie. What Peter Benchley, and eventually Steven Spielberg, would come to realize is that their rise to fame from Jaws would turn into a war waged by humans against sharks. Without even knowing what they had done, they had put a target on the back of any shark that swam too close to the surface. (Broughton)

“What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim, and eat and make little sharks and that’s all.” (Spielberg) This is a quote from Steven Spielberg’s movie Jaws, spoken by Matt Hooper, a young, enthusiastic marine biologist who is called in to go to Amity Island, a fictional town in Martha’s Vineyard, to help track down a rogue great white shark that has been feeding on the island’s residents. Hooper is called in by the Amity chief of police, Martin Brody, who has tried to close down the beaches for the public’s safety but is persuaded not to by the mayor, who wants the beaches open since Amity relies on it’s summer tourism for income. As the attacks continue, the town hires local shark fishermen, Quint, and together he, Brody and Hooper set off on the open ocean to face the monstrous shark. (Spielberg)

Jaws portrayed the shark as the antagonist of the film, a twenty-five-foot rogue great white with a taste for human blood. In 1975, when the movie was released, not much was known about sharks. Fishermen thought of them as nuisances, because sharks would snag the fishermen’s bait and sever the line with their teeth. Other people didn’t think about them at all, not even when they went to the beach, as most people thought that sharks did not attack people, and that they didn’t swim in shallow waters. However when Jaws came into theaters in the summer of 1975, panic arose, like it does in the movie. (Choi)

The film hit a nerve in the public, people were realizing that yes, sharks do swim in shallow waters, right where bathers were also swimming. It opened up this primal fear in people that when you are swimming in the ocean, you really don’t know what is beneath the surface of the water. It also played into the fear and nightmare of being eaten alive by a large predator. Sharks were seen as monsters and man-eaters, causing people to think twice before going into the water, whether it be the ocean, lakes, swimming pools, or even bathtubs. (Choi)

People believed what they had seen in the movie and thought that all sharks were hungry for human flesh. Fishermen who had seen Jaws and watched the fishermen in the movie hunting for the shark, started going after any kind of shark they could find, killing them and stringing them up by their tail, like in the movie. Big game fishing tournaments became a very popular sport, and many sharks were caught and killed, even if they were not great whites. It was considered a good thing that the sharks were being slaughtered and the people that killed them were considered heroes. In the eyes of the public, the only good shark was a dead shark. (Choi)

While many people got the wrong idea about sharks after Jaws, some people became fascinated with sharks. They wanted to be like Matt Hooper and study marine biology, and more specifically great white sharks. When Jaws first came to the big screen, not much was known about sharks. Sharks weren’t really even thought of by people, and if they were, they were thought of as a nuisance, especially by fishermen, as sharks would take their bait and snag their lines while out fishing for other big game fish. Thanks to Jaws, an increase in funding was given to marine biologists to learn more about sharks. Money was put into research for ways that could prevent shark attacks, as well as programs that educated the public on ways to possibly avoid being the victim of a shark attack. (Choi)

What people didn’t understand at the time of the book and the movie’s release is that the behaviors and actions of “Bruce” the mechanical shark that was used in Jaws, was not actually how great white sharks behaved. If Jaws were viewed from a scientific perspective today, it would be laughable. Although little was known about white sharks, what marine biologists do know is that “Bruce” apart from his large size is totally unrealistic. First off, there is no evidence that sharks are vengeful creatures, or that they target specific people or families. There is also no evidence that sharks can develop a taste for human blood. (Carey) However, the theory of a rogue shark is up for interpretation.

In the film, Matt Hooper mentions the rogue shark theory giving the example of events that happened in 1916 in New Jersey. Jaws may have been fictional, but the New Jersey shark attacks of 1916 are in fact, true. In the course of a twelve-day period, four people were killed and one seriously injured. What makes the attacks even more interesting is that the last three attacks did not take place in the ocean; they happened in Matawan Creek, which is thirty miles inland of Raritan Bay. Two days after the final attack, a juvenile great white shark was caught in Raritan Bay. The contents of its stomach contained almost 15 pounds of human flesh and bone. After the shark was caught the attacks stopped and the newspapers reported that the “New Jersey man-eater” had been caught. (Krystek)

The problem with the situation is that white sharks cannot swim in fresh water. Bull sharks are the only known sharks to be able to swim up rivers or in creeks. It is still up for debate, almost 100 years later whether the attacks were the work of one shark or multiple sharks. This was when the theory of the rogue shark was thought of. To this day, there is no scientific evidence that rogue sharks actually exist and the fact that the last record of something like this happened in 1916, when very little was known about sharks, suggests that it was something else that caused these shark attacks and not a shark’s taste for human blood. (Krystek) It is rumored that these attacks inspired some of the attacks in Jaws as well.

Most people would think that the man who created the book that ruined the great white’s reputation would hate sharks, thinking that they were “man-eaters”, therefore portraying the shark in Jaws as such. However Peter Benchley would turn out to be, not only the white shark’s greatest defender, but also a conservation activist for all sharks. He even stated later in life that if he could rewrite the book, the shark would not be the villain but the victim, saying that sharks are more the oppressed than the oppressors in the world that we live in. (Dowling)

While diving off of Costa Rica in a nature preserve known as the Cocos Island with his wife, Peter saw a tropical paradise, an aquatic wonderland. That tropical paradise turned into a desolate graveyard. After hours of diving Peter came across the bodies of dead sharks, with their fins cut off, and mutilated. His wife, Wendy, would later say that Peter’s image of the great white as a monster tapped into the public’s deepest fears, the fear of being stalked and eaten alive by a large predator. When he saw the dead bodies of those sharks with their fins sawed off, it tapped into his deepest fear that his book was the reason that these sharks had been tortured and killed. (Dowling)

In reality, Benchley is not responsible for the killings of millions of sharks a year. Yes, his book did give untrue, monster-like characteristics to sharks that struck fear into its readers. However many positive things came from Jaws, like an increased interest in marine biology and shark conservation. The thing that is responsible for killing millions of sharks a year is no work of fiction like Jaws, it is very real, and it will destroy our oceans if it is not stopped.

There is a delicacy in China, that dates back all the way to the Sung Dynasty. Traditionally only served at weddings and banquets, it is a dish that is purchased to show one’s extreme wealth. Just one cup of it can cost upwards to $2,000 dollars or more. Wondering why or how it could cost this much for one cup of soup? The answer is simple. The main ingredient that gives the dish its name is extremely valuable, not only that, but highly illegal. (Shark Truth)

Shark fin soup is one of the main reasons why so many different species of shark are in danger of going extinct. No one species of shark is targeted; it can be any shark ranging from oceanic white-tips to whale sharks. The name itself gives the answer as to why the sharks are in danger. In order to make shark fin soup, it requires the fin of a shark, and what’s worse is that the fins are tasteless; they are merely added for texture. Shark finning is illegal in most parts of the world, however that doesn’t stop people from doing it. Shark fins are almost considered a black market item because of all of the shark finning laws. (Shark Truth)

Shark finning is the horrible process in which a shark is caught, brought aboard a boat, it is either stabbed or clubbed and then it’s fins, the dorsal and both of the pectoral fins are cut off and the shark is then thrown back into the ocean. The way that sharks breathe is through their gills, and the way that water passes through their gills is by swimming. Without their fins to help them swim, the shark will slowly spiral to the bottom of the ocean floor where it will drown and will eventually be eaten by fish or other sharks. Shark finning has wiped out over 60% of shark populations in the past fifteen years. However, because the shark fin trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, more people are concerned about making money than helping to keep shark populations thriving, which will be the downfall of many businesses in the end. (Pepelko)

Believe it or not, sharks do need protection. Yes, they are at the top of the aquatic food chain, but in the grand scheme of things, humans are above them. Not only do sharks need us, but we also need sharks. Marine tourism is important to many coastal places around the world, and that includes shark watching and even cage diving with these predators. Cage diving and scuba diving with sharks is great for tourism, and some places rely on that for their income. If the sharks are gone, so is the money. What it comes down to is that sharks are worth more alive than they are dead, because if you organize a shark hunting tour, you will only get a few thousand dollars for that one excursion and from that one shark. However if you keep that shark alive, and organize cage diving, or shark watching tours, tourists will still want to pay thousands of dollars to see the sharks. Instead of killing one shark and getting money for it’s fins, it benefits both parties to keep the shark alive so that the people that run the tours can continue to make money off of it and the shark gets to keep it’s fins as well as it’s life. (Eilperin:235)

Shark finning is one of the main reasons that so many population numbers have decreased, but what if they wiped out sharks completely? Sharks have outlived the dinosaurs and have lived in the oceans for over 400 million years. Some would say the world is better off without them, but in reality the world would fall apart without them. Sharks are at the top of the aquatic food chain and if they were gone, the oceans would be thrown totally out of balance. All of the animals, including sea lions, and sea turtles that sharks rely on for food would overpopulate, which would cause a ripple effect and cause other marine life to overpopulate and so on. Coral reefs would also die because sharks are responsible for illuminating harmful parasites that could infect the corals. According to scientists, if the sharks were gone, the oceans would resemble swamps, inhabited by jellyfish, algae and microbes. They would look nothing like the oceans that we know and enjoy today, so when you look at the pristine coral reefs and the nice clear water, remember that its because sharks are there that makes it is possible. (Murray)

Sharks fascinate us and they probably always will. But why do they fascinate us? Is it because of our fear of them or the fact that they are the largest predator in the ocean? We are fascinated with sharks because they do scare us and we don’t know a lot about them. That mystery and fear is what will hold our interest in them for years to come. Yes, they are predators, but in essence so are humans. Sharks do not target humans, but humans because of our lack of knowledge and fear target sharks, whether for their fins or the mindset that the world would be better off without them. The fact remains however, is that we do need sharks; they keep the marine ecosystem in check and provide great tourism income. Sharks need us because they need us to respect that the ocean is their home, that when we go swimming, the sharks can’t just leave. It is our job, as decent human beings that we continue to salvage and preserve the aquatic communities and that includes protecting sharks.


Work Cited

Bradford, Alina, Facts About Great White Sharks, Live Science (October 31, 2014): http://www.livescience.com/27338-great-white-sharks.html

Broughton, Philip Delves, Jaws Author Now Regrets His ‘Attack’ on Sharks, The Salt Lake Tribune (April 4, 2000): http://www.igorilla.com/gorilla/animal/2000/sharks_peter_benchley.html

Carey, Bjorn, The Truth About Great White Sharks, 30 Years After ‘Jaws’, Live Science (July 7, 2005): http://www.livescience.com/3899-truth-great-white-sharks-30-years-jaws.html

Choi, Charles Q., How ‘Jaws’ Forever Changed Our Views of Great White Sharks, Live Science (June 20, 2010): http://www.livescience.com/8309-jaws-changed-view-great-white-sharks.html

Dowling, David, How the Creator of ‘Jaws’ Became the Shark’s Greatest Defender, Narratively : http://narrative.ly/stories/how-creator-jaws-became-sharks-greatest-defender/

Eilperin, Juliet. Demon Fish. Random House, 2011: 234-235

History of Shark Fin Soup, Shark Truth (2009-2015): http://www.sharktruth.com/learn/history-of-shark-fin-soup/

Jaws (USA: Steven Spielberg, 1975)

Krystek, Lee, Rogue Shark! The Jersey Shore Attacks of 1916- Part 2, The UnMuseum (2009): http://www.unmuseum.org/rogue_shark_2.htm

Murray, Bill, “A World Without Sharks”, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, (September 7, 2010): http://sandinlab.ucsd.edu/2010/09/07/a-world-without-sharks/

Pepelko, Kristina, 7 Alarming Facts About the Shark Fin Trade, One Green Planet (October 28, 2013): http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/7-alarming-facts-about-the-shark-fin-trade/

Melissa Adams: Bloody Diamonds

(ENG 102 essay -- Professor Benton)

Bloody Diamonds


What girl doesn’t love to see the beautiful sparkle of a diamond on her finger? I don’t personally know a female who doesn’t love jewelry, period. There is something about the sparkle and flash that only a diamond can produce that starts the adrenaline pumping in women everywhere. I believe diamonds must have a special power, because I’ve seen so many grown women turned into little girls by a diamond on their finger. They can spend hours out of their day holding their hand just right so they get their own personal light show. This power I believe the diamond to possess isn’t just over females, it definitely has a power over men as well. The power isn’t magic as one might believe if you just hung out in a jewelry store for a day. This love of diamonds by women has brought out unbelievable greed and inhumanity in men and women around the world. The mesmerizing sparkle of a diamond has blinded people to the fact that there is very real human suffering going on to get to that diamond. Some choose to believe the companies who say their diamonds are “conflict free” because it makes them sleep better that night when they go to bed with that “blood diamond” on their finger, thanks to one of the most brilliant advertising campaigns ever making diamonds the “symbol of love”.

Diamonds have been used to help fund devastating civil wars in west and central Africa killing some 4 million people. Millions more have been maimed or displaced from their homes in countries including Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. (Conflict: 1-3) Africa produces 65% of the world’s diamonds. (Hughes:2) Alluvial diamonds are found over vast areas of the territory just a few inches or feet below the surface of the earth unlike the diamonds mined in the deep kimberlite pipes in Botswana, Canada and Russia. Because of the high weight to value ratio, and the ease with which they are mined and smuggled, and the endemic corruption in the global diamond market, alluvial diamonds became a ready target for rebel armies. (Diamonds: 2) Diamonds provided the majority of UNITA’s (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) funding. Between 1992 and 1998 UNITA obtained an esti- mated minimum revenue of US $3.72 billion from diamond sales alone to finance its war with the government. (Rough: 5)

It was not long before diamonds were used by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) to fund the civil war in Sierra Leone, with assistance from Liberia’s warlord President Charles Taylor. It was then taken up by rebel and invading armies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has affected the diamond industries of Guinea and Cote d`lvoire as well. As much as 15% of the world’s $10 billion annual rough diamond production fell into the category of conflict diamonds in the late 1990’s. The health and educational infrastructure of these countries was destroyed and development was reversed. Millions of people were displaced from their homes and hundreds of thousands lost their lives as a direct result of these wars plus hundreds of thousands more died from indirect causes. (Diamonds: 3)

Greg Campbell wrote the book Blood Diamond during his travels to Sierra Leone, while there he happened across a 17 year old boy who had escaped from the RUF. He had been kidnapped by the RUF at the age of 9 and his parents killed in Makemi, north-central Sierra Leone. He was forced to fight with the rebellion or face execution. He was given an AK-58, a more powerful version of the AK-47, which can hold up to 75 rounds of ammunition per magazine. After six weeks of training in guerilla warfare he was ordered into battle. Four kids in his unit were killed when they refused to fight or kill anyone. The boy said that while he had not chopped off any hands himself, he had seen it done and when asked why they cut off hands his reply was “to scare people, to get the diamonds and make them leave the mines.” (Campbell: 551)

Of course none of these atrocities could take place without a buyer for these diamonds being mined in Africa. The biggest buyer of all is De Beers Co. and its Central Selling Organization (CSO). The De Beers Co. and its CSO have dominated the international diamond industry for the last 100 years; sorting, valuing, buying and selling around 80% of the worlds diamond production. De Beers annual reports in the 1990’s clearly states the companies involvement in buying Angolan rough diamonds, at the height of the civil war in Angola and when UNITA was in control of the majority of the diamond production in Angola. Given that De Beers were, according to their own reports, buying a substantial proportion of Angolan rough diamonds, at a time when a large section of the countries diamond mines were under UNITA’s control, one could conclude that the drive to keep the lucrative outside market buoyant was a primary concern – despite the consequences this might have for the people of Angola during this period. De Beers also added as side notes in their annual reports that they have played a key role in supporting the Angolan economy and its people. (Rough: 4) De Beers has been responsible for advertising for the diamond industry for many years.(Rough: 7) The propaganda of trying to convince people twenty years ago that they were supporting African communities and helping to build the education and health systems is still included in diamond advertising today, to convince buyers that their diamonds are conflict free.

Another big customer for rebels has been terrorist organizations needing to launder large amounts of cash. The most well-known terrorist group known to buy diamonds is Al Qaeda. They purchased millions of dollars’ worth of Sierra Leone diamonds for three years leading up to September 11, 2001. (Campbell: 1603) The rebels not only sold diamonds for money but also traded for weapons, fuel, food and medicine. In 1999 an estimated $75 million worth of gemstones had flowed from the RUF to the world market, a vast amount of capital for a bush army, moving completely undetected, untaxed and unrecorded. (Campbell: 2763)

Concerned about how the diamond fueled wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and the DRC might affect the legitimate trade in other diamond producing countries. The government of South Africa called for a meeting between diamond producing and trading governments, industry and non-governmental organizations in an effort to solve the problem of conflict diamonds. NGO’s had brought the problem of conflict diamonds to the public’s attention about eighteen months prior. The Kimberley Process was initiated in May 2000, in the town of Kimberley, where South African diamonds were first discovered in the 1860’s. It then took three years of meetings on a regular basis to develop an international certification system for rough diamonds- The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. (PAC: 1-3) The scheme makes it illegal globally to trade any diamond without a government issued certificate proving the diamond has not been mined in an area in conflict. Voluntary and self-regulating the scheme is underpinned by national legislation passed by each member state and is endorsed by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1459 of January 2003. (Hughes: 4)

Only two NGO’s were members of the Kimberley Process, PAC and Global Witness. At the time of the print of Tim Hughes article “Conflict Diamonds and the Kimberley Process: Mission Accomplished or Mission Impossible” in 2006 he brought up the danger in there only being 2 civic groups. The two groups PAC (Partnership Africa Canada) and Global Witness, have conducted groundbreaking research and investigation, they became central to Kimberley Process policy making and monitoring functions. The danger exists that their funding may dry up or they may embark on a different focus or concern. (Hughes: 5) On December 2, 2011 Global Witness announced their withdrawal from the Kimberley Process calling for the diamond trade to be held accountable and citing the KPCS’s refusal to evolve and address the clear links between diamonds, violence and tyranny has rendered it increasingly outdated. “Nine years after the KPCS was started, most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes” Charmian Gooch a founding director of Global Witness “The scheme has failed three tests, it failed to deal with the trade in conflict diamonds from Cote d `lvoire, was unwilling to take serious action in the face of blatant breaches of the rules over a number of years by Venezuela and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fuelling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe. It has become an accomplice to diamond laundering- whereby dirty diamonds are mixed with clean gems.” (Global: 1-3) “Consumers have a right to know what they are buying and what was done to obtain it” added Gooch. “The diamond industry must finally take responsibility for its supply chains and prove that the stones it sells are clean.” (Global: 7)

PAC (Partnership Africa Canada) remains with the Kimberley Process because in their words “it is too important to fail and the prospect of a return to a world in which such a potentially dangerous commodity is unregulated is not an option. This is particularly true in a post 9/11 context in which diamonds lend themselves so easily to funding terrorist activities. The KP alone is an insufficient tool to respond to the myriad of ways in which criminal elements seek to illicitly control, smuggle from, and terrorize in, diamond producing zones.” (PAC: 8)

The diamond industry and the KPCS claim that the percentage of conflict diamonds in the market never reached more than four percent and that the number of conflict diamonds in the market now is lower than one percent. The truth is there is no way to know for sure. The illicit diamonds are entering the diamond pipeline long before they become jewelry, at jungle meeting places, village backrooms and Freetown bars when no one is looking. They’ll make their way into the legitimate exports of sellers who want to pad their parcels cheaply, safely sheltered by certificates issued by lax or bribed officials. The documents required by the Kimberley Process and the Clean Diamond Act will not stop the traffic. They’ll just make it harder to detect. (Campbell: 3032)

While the diamond fueled wars in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone have ended there are still human rights abuses going on in diamond producing zones at the hands of government soldiers instead of rebels and abhorrent working conditions for artisanal miners. If consumers would send the diamond industry a strong message by boycotting diamonds they would be forced to enforce the rules set forth by the Kimberley Process. But after so many years of conflict diamonds flooding the market, they will always be there. Who knows how many millions of dollars in diamonds are still hidden away by terrorist organizations that haven’t even entered the market yet and won’t until they need to cash in to fund their next attack?


Works Cited


Campbell Greg, Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones, Boulder, Westview Press, 2002 “Conflict Diamonds: Did Someone Die for that Diamond?” Amnesty International, 2015

“Diamonds, Death and Destruction: A History”, PAC Partnership Africa Canada, 2015

“Global Witness Leaves Kimberley Process; Call for Diamond Trade to be Held Accountable”, Global Witness, 2011,

Hughes Tim, “Conflict Diamonds and the Kimberley Process: Mission Accomplished or Mission Impossible”, South African Journal of International Affairs, 2006

“PAC and the Kimberley Process: A History”, PAC Partnership Africa Canada, 2015

“Rough Trade: The Role of Companies and Governments in the Angolan Conflict”, Global Witness, 1998,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Resources for May 2, 2015

Houkal, Chris. "Cosmic Ray by Bruce Connor." Facets Features (December 9, 2014)





Benton, Michael Dean. "Astroturf and Front Group Research: The Center for Union Facts." Dialogic Cinephilia (January 20, 2014)

Ebert, Roger. "Do the Right Thing." The Current (February 19, 2001)

O'Donoghue, Darragh. "L’année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad)." Senses of Cinema (October 2004)

Burchett, William, Brian Risselada and Josh Ryan. "Claire Denis." Syndrome and a Cinema #3 (October 17, 2011) ["On this episode we talk about Claire Denis, a highly-regarded contemporary French filmmaker who has made waves with films such as Beau travail and White Material. In particular we look at her films Chocolat (1988), Beau travail (1999) and Trouble Every Day (2001)."]

Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." Feminist Film Theory ed. Sue Thornham. NYU Press, 1999: 58-69.








Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People (USA: Thomas Allen Harris, 2014: 90 mins) ["A film that explores how African American communities have used the camera as a tool for social change from the invention of photography to the present. This epic tale poetically moves between the present and the past, through contemporary photographers and artists whose images and stories seek to reconcile."]