Documentary

“Can eight people from different worlds in the same city really define what it means to be British in 2012?” That bit of hokum sets the scene for Make Bradford British, a two-episode reality TV series recently aired on Channel 4 that shows that when it comes to mediating racial and cultural conflict, there’s still room for sweet but superficial fluff. (More…)

Neither Kebab nor burgers.” As soon as you see the wording, and look at the illustrations, you know what’s coming. A Frenchman is most happy with his indigenous cuisine, a ham and butter sandwich. Note the inevitable baguette, and the trademark beret on top of the white guy’s head. Everything screams ‘France’. If you vote National Front, that is. (More…)

Given its viral success, it might be redundant to explain that Kony 2012 refers to both the Invisible Children campaign, and a documentary centrepiece designed to promote celebrity warlord Joseph Kony. Already indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, the Ugandan’s capture is now sought, ostensibly through military intervention. (More…)

Paris is plastered with montages. This Bastille wall, featuring a mashup of leftist posters, is especially notable. Not just for its  politics, but the message it communicates. The top layer, featuring a flyer dispelling myths about HIV infection, sits on top of a poster that states “I vote socialist.” Linked together, and you have an argument in favor of public health care. Well, not exactly. But the insinuation is clear. (More…)

Hummus and and falafel have long been staples in US supermarkets. The more expensive and alternative the vendor, the bigger the Middle Eastern food offerings. Aimed at vegetarians and international clientele (Arabs and Israelis, especially in larger cities) offerings have improved in recent years, despite the persistence of problems that tend to plague Levantine-American cuisine, such as an absence of tahina. (More…)

“Sans papiers.”  For European advocates of multiculturalism and social justice, few terms have as much political significance as this piece of graffiti testifies, in Brussels’ Matongé neighborhood. French for “without papers,” the designation  was originally coined in reference to illegal immigrants to France, who number up to 400,000, according to The Guardian. (More…)

Europe didn’t need Anders Breivik to know that xenophobia has grown to epidemic proportions. Sample graffiti in any metro area, and you’ll find more hate speech than anything else. Despite its leftist politics, Turin, for example plays host to amongst the most racist tagging in Italy. Note the use of a Swastika, in the place of an S, in the word “Islam.” (More…)

Occupy Wall Street has demonstrated that the late Gil-Scot Heron’s 1970 assertion, “the revolution will not be televised,” has been rendered a cliché. Indeed, this revolution is highly televised, and not just live 24/7 on Global Revolution. (More…)

If this were a music mag, it would have made for a great advert. “Rage against the machine,” read the headline gracing the cover of the October 22nd edition of The Economist. The subheadline, however, was a bit more in keeping: “Capitalism and its critics.” Reinforcing the message was a photo of a concerned young man next to a US flag, a dollar bill taped across his mouth. (More…)

Berlin head hunters display their kills. Cafe window installation, Neukölln. August, 2011.

One of the world’s greatest media museums sits just across the river from my apartment. Its name is the Museo Nazionale del Cinema (National Museum of Cinema.) Located inside Torino’s Mole Antonelliana, a 19th century building originally designed to be a synagogue, the place still has something of a holy purpose. Especially for an LA native, like me. (More…)

During the four and a half years that I lived in London, I always found that I did my best reading on the tube. Not necessarily of my own books or periodicals (though I always had one or the other on me) but the newspapers I found other passengers reading. As an immigrant youngster, at first I imagined that the headlines I encountered represented the opinions of the British. As I grew older, and began returning to the country as a journalist, I of course learned otherwise. (More…)