Monday, December 20, 2010

"I'm no sugar plum fatty"

As you can see, I love ballet, and so when something relating to this art form gets into the news, it grabs my attention. I was taken aback though to read the headline:  "I'm no sugar plum fatty" . The article by Miranda Bryant of the Evening Standard prompted me to wonder: "What qualifies a person to be a ballet/theatre/art critic? More specifically in regard to this article: what are Mr. Macauley's qualifications? 

Do editors require the critics to have formal qualification before they consider their critiques for publication? Is so, what are those qualifications? Are they limited to journalistic qualifications, or do they need specific training in the field they pretend to know so much about? Take Mr. Macaulay, for instance. Has he ever attended dance class? Was he an accomplished dancer himself, or like so many of us, an armchair expert? Try as I might, I could not establish whether or not Mr. Macaulay has had dance training or not. Perhaps someone could enlighten me.

Coming to the nub of the issue though, we need to ask was the critic justified in criticising the dancer's figure - leaving aside for the moment whether or not his evaluation of her figure was realistic, should he as a professional journalist be commenting on her weight at all, or should he restrict his comments to her skill (or lack of it) as a dancer?

If you look at the attached photo of Jenifer, I'm sure most of us would be hard pressed to say that she is carrying any excess weight, and so his jibe, though it might have seemed quite ironic, and a little bit funny when he wrote it, was, in the opinion of this writer and ballet fan, downright unfair.  

We all like to boo Craig Revell-Horwood with his "Awful" and a "Disaster" and his quibbling over small technical aspects of the dances by the celebrities on Strictly Come Dancing. But, at the end of the day, we know that Craig is himself a dancer and he knows what he is talking about, but what gives Mr. McCaulay the platform to rubbish another's performance? I might sit at home and criticise a rugby player or soccer player and express my opinion loudly. However I would not have the gall to write an article for the local newspaper, and expect to be paid for something I could not do half as well. 

Perhaps I have wronged the man and he has been ballet trained. If that is the case, he should restrict his comments to actually critiquing the ballet and not feel it gives him the right to make personal comments about a persons physical appearance.
I personally consider myself a balletomane, that is a person with an interest in ballet and one of the things at the top of my list of favourite things to do is to watch a ballet. How nice it would be to go down to the West End and watch all the performances and then actually make money, rather than spend it, by writing about it for a newspaper. Unfortunately I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to be a critic. 

Mr Macaulay has refused to apologise for his words saying that a dancer's body is an integral part of his/her art. I did not see the performance, but if Jenifer could fly through the air as she is depicted in the photograph, I would say her dancing ability was not hampered at all. As she said, had she been thinner she would not be able to do the things she does. She must know, having experienced the agony of an eating disorder. 

I find myself agreeing with the writer on an article for the Calgary Herald who said: 

Macaulay should be ashamed of himself. He cannot possibly be unaware of the prevalence of eating disorders, and not just among dancers. Studies have found that girls as young as eight are focused on dieting.
Let's not allow Macaulay to do such a disservice to the cause. His comments should be pegged for what they represent -- an anachronistic attitude toward women's bodies that has no place in the cultivation of healthy self-image among women.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Visiting Stats

  MonTues WedThur FriSat SunTotal Avg
Pageloads 10 10 00 2729 4
Unique Visitors 10 10 00 1113 2
First Time Visitors 10 10 00 911 2
Returning Visitors 00 00 00 22 0

Since I posted my last blog on Saturday I can see lots of people visited. Thank you, one and all who stopped by - would love to have some comments on what you thought.
Did you agree, disagree? I'm curious. 

Please feel free to comment on anything that I have written. All thoughts are welcome

Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

I am not a US citizen, but here is my opinion on the DADT Act that has been repealed (but still needs to be signed into law. This was actually, except for a few embellishments at the end a response to something a friend on Facebook wrote.

I'm happy for the repeal of this silly law in the USA. As far as I know there is no conscription in the USA. People join the army for a variety of reasons, and when they join up, they found themselves serving alongside men and woman from very many different backgrounds. Different races, different religions, different political persuasions. all things that can without tolerance e reason for internal conflict and division.  The recruits are expected to leave their prejudices behind them and get on with the task in hand (which is defending your country). Now, with the repeal of DADT, recruits will be tThe notion that 
  1. a homosexual man is totally preoccupied with sexual activity, and that they continually seeking out the "talent" amongst their supposed heterosexual colleagues when they are in the shower, in other words that they are LUSTING after every man they see.
  2. Heterosexual soldiers never lust after their female counterparts, and that no sexual contact takes place between members of the opposite sex.
  3. Homosexual people have not, along with their heterosexual colleaugues, left lovers and partners at home, for whom they have deep affection.
Are simply not realistic. 

I think it is common cause among the many young men and women who choose to join the military, and especially among those serving abroad and away from their partners. is that they are, for the sake of the nation, SACRIFICING, their sexual relations for a time, to get on with an important task of defending the nation. Sexual relations in certain contexts are totally inappropriate, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.

Actually, if as a straight man, you were showering in a public gym locker room where you know some of the other men are gay. Would it not be your instinct to be discrete? If a woman officer working on the front-line was flaunting her assets amongst male colleagues, would she not be reprimanded - as her behaviour would be inappropriate and unfair.  Similarly, it should be noted that men could be more discrete when they are amongst other men.

With regard to public displays of affection: Since when is that appropriate in the context of war. It is not appropriate whether the two people involved are men, women, or a man and a woman. I cannot see how the repeal of this act will make it possible for "public displays of affection (holding hands, kissing) to be the order of the day. In civilian life, people often have these public displays, and nobody bats an eyelid when such public displays take place between men and women. However, if a man kisses another man or wants to hold his hand, it is frowned upon. Sorry but that is a double standard.

No doubt, there will be some "fall-out" as a result of this repeal as certain people feel they cannot serve with openly gay colleagues. This will however open the door to other young men and women who would like to serve in the military, but have till now not felt able to, as it would entail them "living a lie". When the USA opened the door for people of colour to serve alongside their white compatriots in the military, there were naysayers and opponents. No doubt some intolerant bigots decided that their "principles" were more important to them than the nations security and they left.  

Whether you regard homosexuality as a sin or not, in this instance,, is completely irrelevant as the Military is an arm of the state, and as such has nothing to do with the Church and doctrine. This is the principle of the constitution. 

Sadly, given that men and women die in wars, when a married or engaged man/woman, their spouse or betrothed is invited to play a role in thee ceremony or may be invited to receive a medal military honour on their behalf, but gay men who were in long term relations with a partner in the military who has been killed in the line of duty are ignored. Likewise, married partners get the financial support in the form of pensions etc. but gay partner has no financial support, even though they made the same sacrifice.