Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Catherine Tate's Take On Gingerphobia

This clip from Catherine Tate's outstanding sketch show starts out seriously enough, but once it's obvious the bigotry being faced is gingerphobia, why, the hilarity just ensues all over the place!

All of which is intended - in the tradition of the best satire - to demonstrate how stupid bigotry is... I've said it before and I'll say it again: there are ample reasons to despise individuals without having to take things out on entire groups, if that's the way you choose to 'live'. Fortunately, the way things are going, the number of minority groups worth despising - while increasing in number - are doing so with smaller and smaller numbers of members, until such time as all of those people who make use of identity politics to determine the value of others will just disappear, and those of us who remain can all get back to being humans together again.
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The Ginger Files: Seth Green

Owing to the rise in gingerphobia over the past couple of years - due in large part to a South Park episode entitled Ginger Kids which inspired at least one schoolyard beating* - the enduring popularity of an old post of ours**, and given the success*** of our Gratuitous Brunette feature, we here at the Pop Culture Institute figured, why not let all that energy swirl together and help us create a brand new feature? It's also an excellent way to honour Cholmondeley St. John-Mainwaring of our staff, since he is ginger himself...

PhotobucketAh, but what to call it? Debate raged most of the afternoon, with one faction (me) keen on calling it 'Ginger Peachy', and yet another (him) favouring 'Seeing Red'; in the end, 'The Ginger Files' was chosen by our science correspondent Lo'Retta Labratt as the best compromise because of the pun on the word 'ginger-phile' - in other words the opposite of a ginger-phobe - and because while the former was deemed too obscure the latter implied angering, which not only pandered to the stereotype but which is also inaccurate, since redheads definitely don't inspire that emotion around here.

Who better, then, to feature as the first entrant into the Ginger Files than Seth Green? Green today turns 35 at the midpoint of an interesting career which began with roles in such 1980s films as Hotel New Hampshire, Woody Allen's Radio Days, and Big Business. While co-starring on TV as Daniel 'Oz' Osbourne in Buffy the Vampire Slayer he also appeared as Scott Evil in the Austin Powers trilogy. Green was also the star of the cult hit (and one of our favourites around here) Greg the Bunny, in addition to his work on Robot Chicken and as the voice of Chris Griffin on Family Guy.

*Plus a Facebook group, still operating, entitled National Kick A Ginger Day, created by Matt Rosenberg.
**Entiled simply
Gingerphobia? and first published in July 2007, it's still a reliable hit-getter for us, probably because if you type the word 'gingerphobia' into Google that post comes up within the first ten results!

**Meaning 'not complete failure'.

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Pop History Moment: The Killing Of A Queen

Following the death of her husband, Francis II, in December 1560 Mary, Queen of France, was all of 18; unsure of what to do (and uncertain if she would even be welcome there) she returned to Scotland via Calais in August 1561, to resume her role as Queen of Scots - a position she had held since she was six days old in a realm she had not seen for a dozen years...

PhotobucketAfter life at the glamourous French court, the considerably earthier tone of the land of her birth was something of a disappointment to her. She became instantly unpopular upon her arrival; bad choices (and terrible instincts regarding men) led to Mary's downfall by May 1568, when she was captured by the English at Carlisle. She would remain in captivity for the remaining eighteen years of her life, at first under the stewardship of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his formidable Countess Bess of Hardwick, and later Sir Amias Paulet.

Elizabeth I was famously merciful when it came to her erstwhile cousin and would-be usurper; to her mind an anointed Queen was put on Earth by God, and could thus only be removed from it by Him. Presented with ample evidence time and again of Mary's plotting, Elizabeth quailed at the idea of executing her, to the considerable consternation of her spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, although she did see her rival interned at the damp, ill-situated Sheffield Castle and its nearby Manor, weakening her health considerably in what could be considered a passive-aggressive assassination attempt.

It was not until the discovery of the Babington Plot, however, that Elizabeth would consent to even putting Mary on trial. Not that the outcome of the trial was ever in question; Mary Stuart was to be found guilty of treason even though she refused to accept the legitimacy of the court or the Queen in whose name it passed the ultimate judgement.

Shortly after 8 AM on this day in 1587 Mary, Queen of Scots, wrapped herself in her black cloak and calmly approached the block at Fotheringhay Castle; dramatically throwing off that cloak she revealed beneath it a dress of vivid red, the colour of Catholic martyrs. Kneeling, she forgave her executioner who, in front of some three hundred witnesses, sank his ax into her neck inadequately, and she was heard to gasp. A second blow (some eyewitnesses said it took a third) did the job, and as he held her head up it slid out of the wig she had worn and bounced off the dais.

It seems apt, that; a hapless end to a woman whose hauteur had caused her people to turn against her, whose blundering had brought about her arrest, and whose intrigues had caused not only her July 1567 abdication but ultimately also her death. Yet the indignities continued; the fear of relic seekers caused her body to remain embalmed but unburied in its lead coffin for more than six months, before it was finally interred (in the middle of the night) at Peterborough Cathedral on the penultimate day of July 1587. She was finally removed to Westminster Abbey by her son, James VI and I, in 1612, where she lies today, across the aisle from the cousin she longed to meet but never did, who saved the life of one Queen by taking the life of another.

The best account of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, was written by Lady Antonia Fraser - who is herself no stranger to the scandalous life - in 1969.

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Pop History Moment: Sir Sandford Fleming Proposes Universal Standard Time

On this day in 1879 Sandford Fleming first proposed adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute, which he'd helped to establish in Toronto in 1849. As the video clip shows, Fleming first conceived of time zones while surveying Canada's Intercolonial Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway, itself a mammoth undertaking; while Fleming's earlier efforts would change the face of the world's second-largest country, though, the proposal he rolled out now would literally remake the entire world...

Thanks to these Heritage Minutes, Canadian history not only takes its place as world history by gaining the kind of gloss that those who teach it have worked so hard to eliminate for so many years, an innovation the Pop Culture Institute wholeheartedly supports.
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Pop History Moment: Elizabeth II Proclaimed Queen

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
[Elizabeth by Yousuf Karsh]

On this day in 1952 Elizabeth II proclaimed herself Queen during a 20-minute ceremony held in London's St James's Palace, two days after the death of her father George VI and shortly after her return to Britain from Kenya, where she'd been stopping en route to an official visit of Australia and New Zealand. An important date, to be sure, but then I don't even need that much of an excuse to publish a photo of my Queen...

While she read her statement in front of 150 witnesses known collectively as the Lords in Council - including the Duke of Edinburgh as well as representatives of the Commonwealth and the City of London including the Lord Mayor - the young queen had already been proclaimed Queen of Canada by acting Governor-General Thibaudeau Rinfret at Rideau Hall, the country's official vice-regal residence.

Following the ceremony the Queen held her first meeting with the Privy Council, during which time the proclamation was signed by the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor, and many of the dignitaries who'd been present for its reading.
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POPnews - February 8th

[The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, has long fascinated storytellers - likely because Her Majesty's own flair for the dramatic was very much on display that morning; emerging from her chamber shrouded in black and clutching a Bible, once on the dais she threw off her cloak to reveal a crimson dress and a vast expanse of white neck and shoulder, to audible gasps... And that was just for starters! The most vivid portrayal of this moment in history I've ever seen was enacted by Samantha Morton in the 2007 film Elizabeth: The Golden Age; only time will tell if Scarlett Johansson can go her one better when she becomes the latest in a string of beautiful ladies to assay the role.]

421 CE - Constantius III became co-Emperor of the Western Roman Empire alongside his brother-in-law Honorius, having married Galla Placidia in 417 CE.

1587 - Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle for suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, England's Queen Elizabeth I.

1601 - Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, marched out of London's York House at the head of an army determined to force an audience with Elizabeth I - as vividly depicted in the 2005 miniseries Elizabeth I, in which Essex was played by Hugh Dancy and the Queen by Helen Mirren. The abortive Essex Rebellion was quickly crushed and Essex was tried, convicted, and executed for treason within three weeks.

1807 - Following the Battle of Eylau Napoleon defeated a Russian army under General Count von Benigssen.

1817 - Juan Gregorio de las Heras crossed the Andes from Argentina with an army to join José de San Martín in liberating Chile from Spanish rule.

1855 - The Devil's Footprints mysteriously appeared in southern Devon.

1879 - Sandford Fleming first proposed the adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto.

1887 - The Dawes Act authorized the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land in Oklahoma and divide it into individual allotments. Named for Massachusetts Senator Henry L. Dawes, the act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906 by the Burke Act; it remained on the books until 1934.

1904 - The Battle of Port Arthur - a surprise torpedo attack by Japanese Admiral Heihachiro Togo and Vice Admiral Shigeto Dewa against a Russian fleet commanded by Oskar Victorovich Stark and anchored at China's Port Arthur - incited the Russo-Japanese War.

1915 - D.W. Griffith's controversial film The Birth of a Nation (based on Thomas Dixon's novel-cum-play The Clansman) had its world premiere in Los Angeles; the film glorifies that fine Christian organization the Ku Klux Klan and their efforts to protect the flower of white womanhood from the black man, yet offers no solutions as to how to protect those same women from their far more dangerous white male relatives.

1949 -Hungary's Jószef Cardinal Mindszenty was sentenced to life in prison for having committed treason against that country's Communist government, which exacted 'proof' of his treason under torture. He remained imprisoned until the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

1952 - Elizabeth II proclaimed herself Queen of the United Kingdom in a ceremony at St. James's Palace in London.

1962 - At the so-called Charonne Massacre 9 trade unionists were killed by police at the instigation of Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of Paris' Prefecture of Police.

1969 - The Allende Meteorite fell near Pueblito de Allende, in Mexico's Chihuahua state.

1974 - After 84 days in space, the crew of the first American space station Skylab returned to Earth; Skylab itself joined them in July 1979, when it famously burned up following re-entry of the Earth's atmosphere and scattered debris on the town of Esperance in Western Australia.

1983 - A dust storm hit Australia's second largest city, Melbourne - a result of the worst drought on record and following a day of severe weather conditions; within an hour the 320m deep dust cloud had enveloped the city, turning day to night, and serving as an ominous precursor to the Ash Wednesday fires which occurred one week later.

1986 - Arleigh McCree and his partner Officer Ronald Ball of the LAPD's Firearms and Explosives unit were killed while trying to dismantle two pipe bombs when they responded to a call in North Hollywood; at the time of his death McCree was recognized as one of the top explosives experts in the world.

1994 - London's Metropolitan Police Service announced an investigation into the death of Stephen Milligan, the Conservative MP for Eastleigh, who'd been found dead the previous day.

1996 - The Communications Decency Act, passed by the US Congress a week earlier, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
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