Bert and Ernie

Type
Article
Category
Culture
Queer politics

Bert and Ernie occupy such a mighty place in the popular imagination that it’s hard for us to remember that they began as a reference to something else. But in the Jim Henson universe, sly, humourous, or worthy commentaries on public figures and social issues were always part of the process. The recent public debate about them seems to have handily sidestepped the fact that the characters are, among other things, an obvious allusion to The Odd Couple, originally a 1965 Broadway play by the late Neil Simon.

oi!
Marielle Franco mural
Type
Article
Category
Activism
Violence

Her name was Marielle Franco

I first heard about Marielle Franco in April this year. While visiting Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as a tourist with my family, I found myself in a bar late one night with an expat who had lived in the country for more than thirty years.

failure
Type
Article
Category
Immigration
Nationalism

Failure to host

I was stopped by immigration officials and asked questions like: why had I travelled to India in the past? Why had I stayed so long on my previous trip? What were the full names and professions of the friends I’d be staying with? What was my job? How many books had I written? After about an hour of this, and despite having a valid visa and an onward ticket to Bangladesh, I was refused entry to India and ordered to book the first flight back to my port of origin.

Brilliance
Type
Polemic
Category
sexual harassment
The academy

Against brilliance

In a competitive, capitalist culture, the descriptor ‘brilliant’ tends to refer to somebody who makes connections others have not, or perhaps to have made them faster, or first. It is to burn the brightest, to out-do, to dazzle to the point of disbelief. Brilliance, in this sense, is the fake currency of the elite humanities academy – the fissile defence that protects against wrongdoing; the light that shines so brightly it cannot touch, nor recognise, shadow.