Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Conspiracy Theorist Idiots and David Cronenberg’s New Gem

I’ve decided to stop talking about the speeches I keep going to (well, actually the pace has slowed down since the slight novelty wore off) because I’m either boring my readers or making them jealous, neither of which is my intent. However, I’ll just close by mentioning that I saw Richard Dearlove, who was the Head of MI6 from 1999-2004 speak at LSE last Wednesday.

Now, I’m no fan of everything that secret service agencies do and I highly doubt that everything they do is above ground. For example, Sir Dearlove refused to answer a question about whether MI6 planted fake news stories at times, which is exactly how I expected him to answer that person’s question, but that attitude leads you to conclude that the agency is, at least occasionally, not above bending rules and norms for the pursuit of certain goals. At times perhaps the ends justify the means, but I’m not a fan of giving sweeping powers to these agencies.

Regardless, the question and answer session for the speech was an embarrassment. The audience was filled with a number of people who were, in essence, 9/11 conspiracy theorists. They kept quiet during his speech on the relationship between the media and MI6, but as soon as the Q&A session opened up, they began to monopolize the questions. You knew things were bad when two of the first three questions were about the “Scholars for 9/11 Truth” campaign and about rogue Mossad agents in Pennsylvania. Things went downhill from there as the protesters soon resorted to heckling Sir Dearlove and there were at least another 5 or so similar questions, which don’t count more “legitimate” questions, such as the planting of fake news stories or his refusal to comment on active operations.

I have a bit of conspiracy blood in me. I don’t know if I believe there was a “conspiracy” to cover up events in the case of the Robert F. Kennedy shooting, but I also don’t believe the accepted version of events, either. I believe there was a second gun present and that the investigation has never properly been solved, although I don’t go so far as to believe there was Cuban involvement or anything. Nevertheless, I don’t have the fucking time of day for 9/11 conspiracy theorists. I don’t have anything else to say other than the idea that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush White House is ludicrous. Others implied the 7/7 Bombers were MI6 agents, another theory that is nothing but an insult to common sense. To have this speech interrupted by this fringe element and the subsequent refusal to remove the conspiracy theorists, especially once they began verbally heckling Sir Dearlove’s replies to other questions, was embarrassing. I later read in the student paper that he stormed out of the reception afterwards after being continuously harassed by extremists there. I don’t blame him at all.

On the weekend I saw Eastern Promises, which is a film I highly recommend. I’m not quite sure how I’d compare it to A History of Violence, but it has several good performances, including fantastic ones by Vincent Cassel and especially Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen should get an Oscar nomination in my books. The film is about a midwife, played by Naomi Watts, who tries to find the family of a dead prostitute who died during childbirth in her ward and who finds herself mixed up in the Russian mob. Watts is good in her role, but her performance gets lost next to those of the Russian mobsters. Cronenberg’s a great director and he makes the film get under your skin as you watch not the mob as an entity, but rather the individuals who operate within it, with both their cruelty and kindness and several other internal contradictions. The much-talked about knife fight scene lives up to its hype and the film stays with you after you watch it.

After the film I went to read a couple of reviews and Ebert’s and AO Scott of the New York Times were two that I really agreed with. Perhaps foolishly I decided to browse the comments section of the New York Times review, where I had to wade through 1-star reviews that said it was disgusting to watch “Viggo have sex with a minor” and that complained about the gratuitous violence and the clichéd nature of the film. Those comments if nothing else, reminded me of how hard it is to find an intelligent discussion forum on the internet as, sooner or later, almost everything gets overrun with idiots. Luckily, there’s a few baseball sites which are still very good forums and where you can not only debate the Edgar Renteria trade and the free agency prospects of Alex Rodriguez, but also rank the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchors (if your list doesn’t begin with Norm MacDonald and Dennis Miller it’s wrong).