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JOHN LENNON, SUNSET BOULEVARD AND THE PRICE OF FAME

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2020 marks two anniversaries. The first is the 40th anniversary of the murder of ex-Beatle John Lennon (1940 – 1980) by the social misfit, Mark David Chapman (1955 – ). The second is the 70th anniversary of the release of Sunset Boulevard. Although they are separated by some thirty years, each event acts as a reminder of what can happen when the desire for fame gets out of hand.

At 10.50pm on December 8th, 1980, Chapman watched as Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono (1933 – ) made their way through the entrance of the Dakota building, dropped into a combat stance, and fired five shots from his Charter Arms .38 Special revolver. Four bullets struck Lennon in the back and shoulder. The fifth missed and shattered a window.

Lennon was rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital where three doctors, two to three medical attendants, and nurse spent ten to twenty minutes trying to revive him. The doctors even tried opening his chest to perform a manual heart massage, but the damage to the vessels around his heart were too great. John Lennon was announced dead on arrival at 11.15pm.

Lennon had been shot at close range by four hollow-point bullets. Two had passed through his body, one had lodged itself in his upper left-arm, and a fourth had lodged itself in his aorta. The autopsy concluded that Lennon died of “hypovolemic shock, caused by the loss of more than eighty-percent of blood volume due to multiple through-and-through gunshot wounds to the left shoulder and left chest resulting in damage to the left lung, the left subclavian artery, and both the aorta and aortic arch.”

John Lennon’s murder and the plot of Sunset Boulevard mirror one another in many ways. Lennon was murdered by a deranged lunatic who believed he could achieve notoriety for himself by murdering a popstar. Similarly, Sunset Boulevard tells the story of a long forgotten, and equally demented, film star who achieves a return to fame by murdering her gigolo.

Sunset Boulevard was the product of a collaboration between Billy Wilder (1906 – 2002), Charles Brackett (1892 – 1969), and Donald McGill Marshman, Jr. (1922 – 2015). The story was based, in part, on the Evelyn Waugh (1903 – 1966) novel, The Loved Ones which recounted the author’s experiences in Hollywood and the funeral business. Wilder, who had become fascinated by American culture whilst living in Berlin, dreamt up a story about a long forgotten silent film star who resides in one of Sunset Boulevard’s grand houses. Brackett suggested making the story about the star’s comeback, whilst Marshman, Jr. suggested using it to explore the relationship between the forgotten film star and a young man.

Sunset Boulevard’s success was aided by three factors: the writing of Wilder, Brackett, and Marshman, Jr., the direction of Wilder, and the cinematography of John Francis Seitz (1892 – 1979). Seitz gave Sunset Boulevard a dreamlike quality in which fantasy and reality blend together almost seamlessly. The fantasy world Norma Desmond inhabits is shot in deep focus and made to look dark and ominous. By contrast, the real world that Joe Gillis inhabits is depicted as well-lit and filmed in a documentary-style fashion.

Numerous actors were considered to play Joe Gillis, including Fred MacMurray (1908 – 1991) and Montgomery Clift (1920 – 1966). Clift was originally signed to play the part, but withdrew from the project at the last minute. The role eventually went to William Holden (1918 – 1981).

Joe Gillis is a down and outer. Prior to meeting Norma Desmond, Gillis’ situation is so dire that he actually considers returning to his newspaper job in Dayton, Ohio. He is hounded by debt collectors, forced to use the telephone at Schwab’s drugstore because he cannot afford one of his own, and is even fired by his own manager. Gillis believes that he can live the life of an expensive playboy by reading Desmond’s script and entertaining her deluded fantasies. The problem is that he has to make a Faustian pact in order to do so.

The reason Gillis finds Desmond’s offer so tempting is that he has become jaded about the Hollywood system. He represents the writer as just a mere cog in the movie-making machine. He notes the general lack of recognition for the writer and his craft, the writer’s uncertain prospects, the likelihood of executive meddling, and the ever-present risk of plagiarism. He complains that Hollywood will reject your script if it is too original or if it is not original enough.

Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard’s antagonist, was based on a myriad of silent film actresses. The name is believed to be derived from the silent film star, Mabel Normand (1892 – 1930) and the film director, William Desmond Taylor (1872 – 1922), who’s sensational 1922 murder has never been solved. Suggested models for Desmond include Norma Talmadge (1894 – 1957), Mary Pickford (1892 – 1979), Pola Negri (1897 – 1987), Mae Murray (1885 – 1965), Clara Bow (1905 – 1965), and Valeska Surratt (1882 – 1962).

Norma Desmond was played by former silent film star, Gloria Swanson (1899 – 1983). Like Desmond, Swanson had been a major silent film star and was known for her beauty, talent, and extravagant lifestyle. And like Desmond, her film career faded with the coming of sound. Unlike Desmond, however, Swanson was able to accept the end of her film career, moved to New York in the early-thirties, and pursued a successful career in theatre, radio, and television.

Norma Desmond has come to symbolise an entire generation of silent film stars whose were thrust aside by the advent of sound. When her star fell, Desmond retreated into her gothic mansion and built up a fantasy world where she was still a big star. At one stage she tells Gillis that she had the floor of her ballroom tiled at the behest of Rudolph Valentino (1895 – 1926), as though Valentino was still a big star. She speaks in melodramatic tones, acts like an infatuated schoolgirl in Gillis’ company, and engages in acts of emotional blackmail through mock suicide attempts.

Desmond refuses to admit that the “parade has long since passed her by.” Incapable of functioning in the real world, she has constructed a fantasy life for herself. Any attempt to bring her out of her stupor is met with either denial or indignation. Towards the end of the movie, Gillis informs her: “Norma, you’re a woman of fifty, now grow up. There’s nothing tragic about being fifty, not unless you try to be twenty-five.” And just like John the Baptist in Salome (the 1891 Oscar Wilde tragedy Desmond has chosen to adapt), Gillis pays for the faux pas with his life.

When Sunset Boulevard premiered, Louis B. Mayer (1884 – 1957) reportedly shouted at Billy Wilder: “You bastard! You have disgraced the industry that made you and fed you. You should be tarred and feathered and run out of Hollywood.” Mayer had reason to be angry, too. Sunset Boulevard is perhaps one of the most scathing criticisms of Hollywood ever made. The film indicted Hollywood for its treatment of the writer, its obsession with youth, its toxic star system, and cult of celebrity worship.

In a world of social media and reality television, the murder of John Lennon and the story of Sunset Boulevard is more potent today than ever before. Thanks to reality TV and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it is far too easy for mentally unstable people to achieve easy fame. How long will it be before society produces another Mark David Chapman or Norma Desmond?

Hypocrisy and Double Standards: Reflections on the Massacre in New Zealand

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Just over a month ago, a crazed gunman entered the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch. Armed with an arsenal of weapons which included semi-automatic firearms, he began to shoot worshippers engaged in Friday prayers.

Fifteen minutes later, the gunman repeated his dastardly deed at the Linwood Islamic Centre. In the end, fifty people lay dead and thirty-six lay injured. The entire incident was broadcast live on Facebook.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, denounced the massacre as a ‘terrorist attack.’ She echoed the sentiments of the general public. In response to the attacks, three thousand people participated in a “march for life” in Christchurch carrying signs that read “Muslims welcome, racists not”, “he wanted to divide us, he only made us stronger”, and “Kia Kaha”, which means “stay strong” in Maori.

The Muslim call to prayer was broadcast on television and radio with twenty-thousand-people attending prayer services in the park across from the Al Noor Mosque. And two New Zealand rugby teams – the Chiefs and the Hurricanes – paused for a moment’s silence before the Super Rugby game in Hamilton.

New Zealanders have been praised for their unity and compassion in response to the attacks. But what would happen if the roles were reversed? When it is not a Westerner killing Muslims, but rather a Muslim killing Westerners? Then the response, or lack of response, is rather telling.

At this stage, I should point out that what happened in New Zealand was an act of evil. The massacre of any group of people for any reason whatsoever is an act of evil. I am not trying to condone attacks against Muslims, I am merely trying to expose to the hypocrisy of our so-called betters.

The point I am trying to make is not that the Christchurch massacre was somehow a form of justified retribution. It clearly was not. The point I am trying to make is that our leaders say one thing when an attack is perpetrated by Muslims and another when the attack is perpetrated against Muslims.

To put it bluntly, whenever a terrorist attack occurs involving a Muslim or a group of Muslims, politicians and the media are quick to downplay the Islamic elements. But if it is a Westerner targeting Muslims, or any other minority group, accusations of racism and xenophobia are repeated ad nauseum.

Whenever a Muslim, whether affiliated with a terrorist organisation or not, commits an act of terror, his actions are typically met by that all-too-common disclaimer: “it had nothing to do with Islam.” Even when the perpetrator expressly states that he is committing his heinous deed in the name of Islam it still has “nothing to do with Islam.”

The British journalist, Douglas Murray made similar observations when he appeared on Fox and Friends. “We’ve had a different response when it comes to Islamic terror”, he stated. “Consistently we find out there are people [after a terrorist attack] who knew about the extremism [and] didn’t report it, members of the community who say they don’t want to go the British police, and we find out Mosques people attended are being run by radicals.”

Murray has accused the West of resorting to the “John Lennon” response to terrorism. “They blow us up, we sing Imagine”, he says. “Our politicians still refuse to accurately identify the sources of the problem and polite society remains silent.”

I think it is self-evident that there would have been an entirely different response had it been a Muslim perpetrator attacking Westerners. There would not have been the protests, the moment’s silence, the religious and cultural messages broadcast on television and radio. Politicians and media identities would not have condemned the attacks as viscerally or as quickly as they did. There simply would not have been the same level of outrage. Instead, the Islamic elements would have been dismissed and the incident largely would have been ignored.

It is hard to believe that this kind of willful ignorance boils down to mere incompetence. To acknowledge that Islam has been responsible for a great deal of misery in the world is to go against the narrative that anyone who is not a straight, white, male, Christian is a member of a victim group. To acknowledge Islam’s role in a great deal of the misery in the world is to acknowledge that Muslims can be, and frequently are, the villains.

The left and the media, but I repeat myself, reacted to the Christchurch massacre in the way that they did because they want to elevate Muslims to the category of victim. It is a blatant attempt to sell black and white and white as black. And if you dare suggest the advertisement is misleading, you’re a bigot.

It really boils down to virtue signalling. That self-centred and cowardly habit of making vacuous comments in an attempt to make yourself look good. Public figures will now say anything that makes themselves appear more virtuous than everybody else. They resort to making statements that appear say something intelligent without really saying anything at all.

THE INVASION OF EUROPE

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In January of 2017, Emillem Khodagholli, a refugee on probation for a raft of offences that included death threats and assault, Maisam Afshar, another refugee well-known to Swedish authorities, and a third unidentified man made their way to Upsala where they broke into a young woman’s apartment. Streaming their despicable crime on Facebook, the three men tore off the young woman’s clothing and raped her for three hours at gunpoint. Afterwards, Khodagholli taunted his barely conscious victim as she tried to call for help. “You got raped”, he gloated. “There, we have the answers. You’ve been raped.”

Modern Europe’s migration crisis represents the most significant existential problem the continent has ever faced. The migration of millions of non-Europeans represents the largest mass movement of people into Europe since the Second World War. According to the International Organization for Migration, around a million migrants migrated to Europe in 2015. These migrants primarily came from Syria (268,795), Afghanistan (127,830), Iraq (97,125), Eritrea (19,100), Pakistan (15,525), and Nigeria (12,910).

For the most part, journalists, politicians, advocacy groups, and private organisations have attempted to paint Europe’s migration crises as a human right’s problem mired in social justice and global inequality. They would have Europeans believe that the people migrating into their countries are doctors, engineers, and other learned professionals fleeing from persecution.

In reality, these migrants come from a host of Sub-Saharan African countries and are travelling to Europe for a myriad of different reasons, of which fleeing persecuting is only one. As the Netherland’s European Union commissioner, Frans Timmermans (1961 – ) pointed out: over half (sixty percent) of the people moving into Europe are not refugees, but economic migrants.

While the European Union remains committed to a pro-migration and open-borders policy, there remains the odd voice of dissent among their ranks. The President of Latvia, Valdis Zatlers (1955 – ) commented that while Europe was powerless (in his opinion) to stop migration, they could hope to manage the flow of people into their continent:

“We can’t stop this process, but we have not learnt how to manage it, and Europe was about ten years’ late to make decisions on illegal immigration and to help the countries where the migrants come from. In each country and in Europe as a whole, we have to think about how to manage the process and how to really decrease the expectations of people.”

Similarly, the Slovakian Prime Minister, Robert Fico (1962 – ) implored the European Union to put an end to the inflow of migrants. Fico described the Union’s distribution policy as an utter “fiasco” and warned they were committing ‘ritual suicide’ through their immigration policy.

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The most notorious effect of ethnic crime in Europe has been the increase in sex crimes committed since millions of North African and Middle Eastern migrants poured into Europe. This begins with the sexual slavery of their own women. According to the PBS, as of September 2016 around eighty-percent of Nigerian women who made it to Italy have been forced into prostitution.

On January 9th, 2016, a forty-eight-year-old woman was raped by three Muslim men. On January 10th, 2016, a twenty-one-year-old West African man was arrested for raping a fifteen-year-old girl at a train station in Wuppertal. On January 15th, 2016, a public swimming pool in Borheim was forced to ban all male migrants following reports that they had been sexually assaulting the female patrons. On January 25th, 2016, a thirty-year-old Afghan man exposed himself to a nineteen-year-old woman on a public bus.

In Kiel, Germany, in 2016, three teenage girls, aged fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen, were stalked by two Afghani asylum seekers, aged nineteen and twenty-six, who filmed them on their mobile phones. A restaurant owner at the mall commented: “The moment they [male migrants] see a young woman wearing a skirt or any type of loose clothing, they believe they have a free pass.”

During New Year’s 2015/2016, thousands of women in Stuttgart, Cologne, and Hamburg were sexually assaulted. Remarkably, these crimes were ignored by the German authorities until eyewitness reports surfacing on social media forced them to take the problem seriously.

In Vienna, an Iraqi refugee who raped a ten-year-old boy at a public swimming pool had his conviction overturned by Austria’s Supreme Court despite watershed evidence proving his guilt. The court deemed that the refugee, who had excused his despicable crime by claiming it was a “sexual emergency”, could not have known that the act was non-consensual. Thankfully, the refugee was sentenced to seven years imprisonment at his retrial.

In England, the Pakistani comprised Rotherham child sex ring abducted, tortured, raped, and forced into prostitution at least fourteen-hundred young girls over a period of sixteen years. According to Jihad Watch, those posed to do something about the ring expressed “nervousness about identifying the ethnic origin of perpetrators for fearing of being thought of as racism.” Others were instructed by their managers not to disclose the ethnic origin of the perpetrators.

The Swedes boast one of the largest incidences of rape in the world. According to a 2015 article published by the Gatestone Institute, in the forty years since Sweden decided to become a multi-cultural society violent crime has increased by three-hundred percent and rape has increased by fourteen-hundred-and-seventy-two percent. In 1975, only four-hundred-and-twenty-one rapes were reported to Swedish police. In 2014, it was six-thousand-six-hundred-and-twenty. This increase in the number of reported rapes can partially be explained by the increase in the number of sexual activities that can be classified as rape, and partially by an increase in the number of women who may otherwise have been uncomfortable in reporting their rapes.

According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, twenty-thousand-three-hundred sexual assaults were reported. This included six-thousand-seven-hundred-and-twenty rapes. Statistics provided by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reveals that rape victims are most likely to be young women aged between sixteen and twenty-four. In fifty-percent of cases, rape is likely to occur in a public place, as opposed to a residence (19%), the workplace or school (18%), or elsewhere (12%).

The migrant sex crime is essentially caused by three problems. First, cultural differences in attitudes towards women between migrants and native Europeans, the educational and economic gap experienced by migrants, and a refusal to acknowledge the root causes of the problem.

The majority of migrants pouring into Europe come from a culture and civilisation that treat women as second-class citizens. There appears to be a belief among young Muslim men that an uncovered woman is an adulterer or a prostitute, and that she is, therefore, ‘fair game.’ It is an attitude that professes that all uncovered and non-Muslim women can be used for a Muslim man’s sexual gratification. Doctor Abd Al-Aziz Fawzan, a teacher of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, opined: “if a woman gets raped walking in public alone, then she, herself, is at fault. She is only seducing men by her presence. She should have stayed home like a Muslim woman.”

The problem is further exacerbated by the educational and economic gap experienced by migrants. As a result of their low skills and education, coupled with their inability to speak to speak the local language, many migrants are rendered virtually unemployable. Many of the migrants arriving in Europe will move further northward and find employment within illegal gangs that are often comprised of members of their own ethnic group.

Finally, the migrant sex crime is also borne out of an insipid refusal to acknowledge the root cause of the problem. “Every police officer knows he has to meet a particular political standard”, Rainer Wendt (1956 – ), the head of the German Police Union, stated. “It is better to keep quiet [about migrant crime] because you cannot go wrong.”

Europe is acting as the metaphorical canary in the coal mine. Europe’s decision to pursue relaxed immigration laws and open border policies has led to the mass influx of non-European migrants into their country. An unfortunate by-product of these decisions has been an increase in the number of sex crimes committed by migrants against native Europeans and a total refusal from the authorities to acknowledge the root cause of the problem. Europe acts as a stark reminder of what happens to a continent and country that refuses to police its borders correctly.