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Of Monarchy, Fools and Speech

Last night I saw The King’s Speech and I must admit, it is as good as everyone says it is. Yes it’s in many ways a conventional Hollywood period piece, but it does a number of things incredibly well. It is funny, it is entertaining, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

And it is beautifully filmed.

It’s a movie that sucks you in, makes you believe you’re there. You feel the awkwardness, the nervousness, the joy and heartache of the characters. I was worried it was overhyped, but I’m happy to say it definitely lived up to the hype. Thoroughly recommended.

It did reinforce my anti-monarchist beliefs, though. In Australia, the government can be sacked by someone appointed by someone in the UK. This makes no sense to me, and I fail to see any advantage in it. And I fail to see how ‘divine right’ and birthright are suitable qualities for a head of state.

Which is why I particularly liked UK paper The Guardian’s April Fools Joke. Probably the best paper in the UK, The Guardian has long called for debate about the monarchy, but published on April 1 an editorial pledging “full-throated support for the British monarchy”.

The editorial claims it’s now time to get behind the Royal Family now that “Prince William has shown that he can be a new kind of king”, and “Prince Andrew [has used] his personal connections to plant the seeds of democracy in repressive regimes worldwide.”

“When the time comes,” the paper suggests, “we urge Prince Charles to redouble his focus on his important work in the field of alternative medicine, and to pass the mantle of head of state to his son.”

It’s clearly a joke. The paper even announces a 24-hour live blog of the preparations for the ceremony, asking “What music would you choose for the royal wedding?” and announcing the latest scoops: “For one of the royal wedding cakes, Prince William has requested a concoction of biscuits and condensed milk.”

But the sweetest  part of all comes from here in Australia. Our largest pro-monarchy organisation, Australians For  A Constitutional Monachy, appear to have fallen for the joke hook, line and sinker. They’ve published on their website a triumphant article celebrating The Guardian’s change of tune, offering “a welcome back to the prodigal son.” This endorsement from a leading progressive newspaper, the ACM believes, “will make it acceptable for ALP politicians to admit that they support the existing constitution”.

Brilliant. The King is dead, long live The G-g-g-guardian!

I still think you should see The King’s Speech, if you haven’t already. Alternatively, this is more or less the entire story:

Creationism in Education: The Movie

This is so cool.

The Texas Board of Education is doing a damn good job of, well, destroying education in Texas. Religious right-wing extremists have taken over the board and are spearheading a strong push to get young-Earth creationism taught as fact. They have tried to get the history textbooks changed to show that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, Joseph McCarthy was right and his allegations that everyone in the whole world was a Communist were true. They have tried to get the Separation of Church and State removed from the curriculum. In 2009, they ammended the science curriculum to cast doubt on the existence of global warming, despite overwhelming scientific concensus.

An even bigger problem is that Texas is the biggest  market for textbooks, and therefore holds significant influence over publishers. What Texas insists on could dictate what is taught in other states across the US as well.

This is the cool part: a team is doing a documentary on the situation, which will help raise awareness of what’s going on. Like all film projects, it requires money – so they started up a Kickstarter project. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding site that lets people pledge money towards a project – software development, film, craft, anything really. Initially asking for US$10,000, they very quickly made more than that and they now hope to get the film scored and maybe entered into international film festivals.

This is a really cool project, and it’d be great to see it come to fruition. They are still accepting donations, and the more money they get the better the film will be!

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