The Age of Robots

t2_judgementday.0In the ‘Terminator’ film saga, Skynet enacts a systematic massacre upon the human race through the various weapons at its disposal. This was the stuff of sci-fi genius. It startled, thrilled and even terrified the movie-going public.

The movies may have been predicting the future more accurately than we realised.

Stephen Hawking has voiced concerns about Artificial Intelligence on several occasions – fearing that advanced AI could kill humans. The difference between Hawking’s own anxieties and the movie universe of ‘Terminator’ is that the AI would only kill humans through sheer incompetence, according to the world-famous physicist.

“The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence. A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.” (1)

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, echoed these worries. Musk argued that the colonisation of Mars (Something SpaceX aspires towards) would serve as an escape plan for humans, should AI turn on us (2). Deeming AI the greatest threat to humanity, Musk asserted that intervention is required to prevent humans doing ‘something very foolish’ – even likening it to ‘summoning the demon’ (3).

Of course, the concerns of these two indisputably intelligent men remains speculation. Neither of them are in possession of psychic abilities (Something that does beg for an article at some point, I might add…) and so are left to contemplate the future of technology.

However, it is often said that truth is stranger than fiction.

Sophia the Robot, designed by Hong Kong based company Hanson Robotics, has become something of an internet sensation in recent months. Sophia represents a technological breakthrough with her abilities to display more than 62 facial expressions and respond to questions with a wide script of answers.

She’s something of a celebrity, thanks to high-profile interviews on CNN, ‘Good Morning Britain’ and countless other media platforms.robot #2

Saudi Arabia even granted her citizenship in October 2017.

And that in of itself, raises interesting questions. If a robot can be granted citizenship, does that mean they’re entitled to the same rights as the human citizen of said country? Can Sophia vote in elections? And one step on from that, could Sophia run for office?

It’s not just  in the physical sense that technology is taking on a new life.

Look at the Amazon Alexa, the personal assistant that interacts with it’s owner and responds to questions, demands and queries. You can ask Alexa to set reminders, add robot #5things to your shopping list or just to answer your inane questions. It was once thought that searching things up on Google had taken the joy out of looking it up in an encyclopaedia – now even Google is on the fast track to being irrelevant.

It makes one wonder how long it’ll be before personal assistants do practically everything for us. No longer just the go-to for menial tasks, could personal assistants such as Alexa be upgraded to the point where they’re a walking, talking assistant? Of course, Amazon will need to enable Alexa to inhabit a functional body of sorts for that to happen.

Regardless, Alexa is a strangely humanised device. In my house, it’s referred to as ‘she’ or ‘her’, just a step away from being an unofficial fifth member of the family.

Alexa is advertised as something that creates convenience. But could this just be code for ‘enables laziness’?

In his book ‘How To Be Free’, Tom Hodgkinson laments that “Faith in the machine as a redeemer and as a kind of automated slave has been the greatest disappointment of the industrial project. The long-promised technological utopia in which robots do all the work, while we give ourselves up to reading philosophy, drinking fine wine and having sex has never materialised” (p. 183)

Hodgkinson’s point makes me think back to the ultra-positive depictions of the future, as seen in ‘The Jetsons’. Rosie the Robot essentially does all of the busy work, whilst the human characters are free to lounge around their apartment in the clouds. It was an extremely quintessential view of the mechanical servant – something that would be far robot #3too upbeat for the media of today. There’d have to be some sort of twist – perhaps that Rosie was plotting to kill the Jetsons or was trying to seduce a human character for nefarious motives.

Fact is, we aren’t as far along with the whole ‘Robot project’ as we’d once imagined. Robots like Sophia are only just making it into the forefront of our attention. They are not yet an accepted norm.

Emphasis on the word ‘yet’.

The new frontier of technology (At least among  the confused individuals on the underbelly of society) is creating sex dolls. No longer satisfied with making love to a rubber woman, basement dwellers have decided to invest in rubber women that can talk in response (4). And even worse, there’s been suggestions that child sex robots could be a treatment option for paedophiles.

robot #4

Science never stops pushing new boundaries. And with each new landmark discovery or invention, I can accept they’re not always necessarily. The washing machine for example, is a creation of convenience. Human beings washed dishes, and continue to do so, by hand and make no use of the machine at all.

But the push for robots is something that is lost entirely on me. Perhaps it’s because there are no limitations to human curiousity, and the desire to break new ground – to change the world. We’re drunk on playing God, with a casual disregard to the potentially damaging consequences.  And on that note, I will say of the robot craze – just because science can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean it should.

 

 

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/stephen-hawking-artificial-intelligence-fears-ai-will-replace-humans-virus-life-a8034341.
  2. htmlhttps://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/03/elon-musk-billion-dollar-crusade-to-stop-ai-space-x
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/07/28/elon-musk-and-stephen-hawking-think-we-should-ban-killer-robots
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqokkXoa7uE (Holly and Phillip Meet Samantha the Sex Robot | This Morning)
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Black Dresses…White Lies?

The 75th Golden Globes Awards took place yesterday, celebrating the best of film and television from 2017. Award shows aren’t something I’m particularly interested in – usually I wouldn’t even have bothered writing an article about them. But something about this year’s event struck me as peculiar.

It’s no secret that Hollywood has a problem with sexual harassment and abuse. It’s only in the last few months, however, that the extent of the epidemic has really come to light.

To give you an idea of the vast numbers of people accused, I complied a short list of people accused of sexual harassment or rape in the past months:

  1. Harvey Weinstein – Film Director and Mogul, with 49 accusers
  2. Kevin Spacey – Actor, with 15 accusers
  3. George Takei – Actor, with 1 accuser
  4. Al Franken – Comedian, writer and senator, with 2 accusers
  5. Roy Moore- Politician and former Alabama state judge, with 9 accusers
  6. Oliver Stone- Film Director, with 1 accuser
  7. John Lasseter- Head of Pixar Animation Studio, with an unspecified number of accusers
  8. Jeremy Tambor- Actor, with 2 accusers
  9. George H. W. Bush – Former US President, with 7 accusers
  10. Brett Ratner – Film Director, with 6 accusers

And bear in mind, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even included Michael Jackson, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton or any other public figures with histories of allegations beyond the past month.

With this in mind, the stars turned out on the red carpet all dressed in black. It was supposed to be a statement against sexual misconduct within the film industry.

black dresses #2

If you’ve regularly read my articles (All two of your loyal readers out there…), you’ll know that I’ve written about this problem in Hollywood before – https://curiousskepticblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/the-price-of-fame-hollywoods-lost-boys/

That article specifically touched upon the issue of child sexual abuse in ‘Tinsel Town’, something that is still not being addressed. Despite the efforts of Corey Feldman to raise awareness, he still remains a Hollywood pariah.

Now, whilst I commend the men and women who turned out in black to make a statement, I find the gesture loses its significance upon further examination.

As I said in the article linked above, celebrities seemingly can’t stop defending Roman Polanski. Particularly Meryl Streep, who was front and centre in her black gown, being black dresses #3hailed as a feminist hero by her admirers on social media. Seems a little absurd when you remember she infamously said of Roman Polanski, “I’m very sorry he’s in jail” and even called long-time friend, Harvey Weinstein “God” in an acceptance speech. I don’t know about you, but to me, it seems downright opportunistic for her to jump on the #MeToo’ bandwagon.

Streep seemingly isn’t alone in her gross hypocrisy. Rose McGowan, the woman who started the whole #MeToo movement by naming Harvey Weinstein as a predator, worked with a child sex abuser back in 2011. Victor Salva, director of Jeepers Creepers,  had been convicted of molesting a 12 year old boy in 1988. When questioned on why she chose to work with Salva in an interview with The Advocate, McGowan commented –

“Yeah, I still don’t really understand the whole story or history there, and I’d rather not, because it’s not really my business. But he’s an incredibly sweet and gentle man, lovely to his crew, and a very hard worker”.

black dresses #4

Victor Salva

That’s not even going into Natalie Portman, also decked out in black last night, who had signed a petition calling for Roman Polanski’s release from prison in 2009. And the whole ensemble of stars who have proudly worked alongside Polanski and Woody Allen (Another alleged predator, whose archived work shows a disturbing obsession with teenage girls as the romantic interests in his writings).

Emma Stone, Justin Timberlake, Greta Gerwig and a whole line-up have all been vocal of their support for sexual abuse victims…whilst working with infamously alleged abusers.

All the while, not a mention to the child abuse going on in Hollywood. Nobody has the guts to talk about it.

If the obnoxiously arrogant stars of Hollywood really want to inspire change, they can start there. Until then, I’ll take their ‘activism’ with a pinch of salt, so long as they cosy up to artistically talented perverts and have the nerve to launch criticisms at Donald Trump’s past allegations.

Outrage Culture: The New Norm?

It’s often said that 2017 was the year ‘People found everything offensive’. This has also been said of 2016 and 2015, so whether each year just topped the last is anybody’s guess.

Regardless, there’s been plenty for people to take issue with and to voice outrage over. President Trump entering office, whether you like him or not, has been controversial. The travel ban enacted certainly pushed many people to vocalise their disgust, and his outrage #2tweets have never failed to make the headlines, often for how blunt they are. On the other side of the Atlantic, Brexit was an ongoing saga of turmoil, the Catalan independence referendum caused uproar in Spain and terrorist attacks throughout the European continent have sparked debate over how to best keep citizens safe.

All of the above are certainly worth being ‘offended’ over. If we take the definition of offence to mean a feeling of annoyance, resentment or insult brought on by a perceived insult, then all of the above can certainly qualify. These were massive issues, and certainly shaped people’s lives. President Trump’s policies or the outcome of the Brexit negotiations have potentially huge ramifications, and can potentially cause upset to people.

However, when smaller and less significant topics cause ‘outrage’, people tend to take issue, in turn creating another wave of outrage.

A prominent example would be Taylor Swift, who has been frequently lambasted on social media for political reasons. Despite her success as a singer-songwriter (Regardless of whether or not you like her music, she has had massive success), Swift has faced criticism for not being political enough.

outrage #3

Her tweet about the Women’s March of January 2017 was deemed unsatisfactory and her declaration that she’d had ‘a great 2017’ led to people claiming she was a Trump supporter and/or a white supremacist. Because seemingly only racists could have enjoyed themselves in 2017?

outrage #4This was accompanied by think pieces examining Swift’s music and whether it promoted racism.

In my opinion, this is completely hysterical. Swift is probably the least offensive musical artist out there – rarely makes any divisive statements, isn’t overtly sexual or provocative and generally behaves in a manner which wouldn’t have her deemed a bad influence on children.

Why the articles about her being racist were written is beyond me. I suppose the expectation for celebrities to vocalise their opinions on each and every issue is harming the entertainment industry in this sense.

However, one thing to remember is the scope of projection in the social media era. An article saying ‘People are MAD at Taylor Swift for not being feminist enough’ may only be sampling three tweets and casting out a net over the whole of Twitter. I’d imagine a vast majority of people are more concerned about their day-to-day lives of paying bills, jobs and families than they would be about Taylor Swift’s political leanings.

In 2017, it’s also easier to access different opinions across the board. Bloggers can now have their posts shared throughout the internet, to the point where it seems like their one opinion represents a broader line of thought.

So the blogger who felt children dressing up as Moana was a form of cultural appropriation may be seen as a indictment of modern liberalism – being too over-sensitive, not being any fun or just simply making a mountain out of a molehill. And when television shows give these people platforms (Which they have every right to do, and should do, in my opinion), it brings forth the comments of “This country is losing its sense of humour!!” and “We’ve gone PC mad!!!”outrage #5

All based on the opinions of one person, judged to be representative of a wider trend, thanks to the internet.

For better or for worse.

In 2018, we should probably take time to re-focus our energy (Or indeed our ‘outrage’) onto more pressing matters. And certainly, some perspective is required. News outlets may share stories of perpetually offended people to get a reaction out of their consumers. The woman who felt the story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ should be banned because it promoted rape certainly doesn’t speak for the vast majority, but it made for a interesting story.

Dear LGBT Community

I’m gay, and have no qualms about admitting that.

But when you’re included within a community (For better or worse), you have an obligation to call it out for wrongdoings and damaging mindsets. Obviously what I’m going to be writing about in this article doesn’t apply to every individual gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans person. It’s more directed to the publications and organisations running through the community.

 

The Undesirables

There seems to be an idea that people in the community can be shunned. This is most evident with Caitlyn Jenner, who came out as transgender in 2015. After a initial flurry of delight and acclaim, the LGBT community turned on Caitlyn after she admitted to being a Republican. From there, it all went downhill. Jenner’s hesitance to confirm her support for gay marriage (1) and comments about ‘looking like a man in a dress’ earned her further ridicule and derision.

lgbt #2

Ghosts in Jenner’s past were suddenly fair game. The car crash in February 2015 was suddenly relevant again, even though Jenner was cleared of any wrongdoing (2). Certainly, very few people mentioned this before Jenner’s conservatism became known. And surely, being indirectly involved in a 68 year old woman’s death is more worthy of hatred than being a Republican? But when it was seen that she wasn’t in-line with what the LGBT community believed, anything and everything was open to condemnation.

I will admit that voting Republican as a trans-woman is a difficult position to defend. However, I don’t see being a conservative person within the LGBT community as some sort of  impossible concept. Other elements of conservatism may be of appeal, beyond the notion that every family needs to be a nuclear one.

In light of Jenner being something of a LGBT ‘heretic’, it’s funny that other people haven’t received such shunning.

Boy George has remained a gay icon for over thirty years. In 2008, he was arrested after lgbt #3handcuffing a sex worker to a wall and threatening him with sexual assault (3). His victim was left horrified when Boy George was later hired to be a mentor on BBC’s ‘The Voice’ in 2017 (4). Boy George was even featured on the cover of ‘Gay Times’. There seems to be have been little to no condemnation from the community, despite his proven criminal history.

We need to re-evaluate this. Can we really claim a moral high ground over Caitlyn Jenner if we keep entertaining the notion that Boy George is a ‘gay icon’ in any shape or form?

Misplaced Priorities

If you’re living in a western country as a gay man or woman, chances are you’re damn lucky and don’t even know it. Obviously, I can’t speak for every individual experience. But the fact you live in a society that has legislation in place to protect your right to livelgbt #4 freely, marry and to live free from discrimination and violence is remarkable. That’s an amazing privilege.

People in other areas of the world aren’t so fortunate. In seventy-two countries, homosexuality remains criminalised, with death penalties being implemented in eight (5). That is an astonishingly dark reality for millions of people.

Yet, whenever I look to LGBT magazines, there seems to be a massive disparity between stories around LGBT people living in these nations and superficial stories centred around celebrities and other pop culture trends.

Why is a celebrity’s shirtless pictures given more attention than forty-men being arrested for ‘performing homosexual acts’ in Nigeria? (6)

I’m not saying there should be no room for lighter news in LGBT publications. But it’s bizarre to me that we spend so much time lamenting LGBT rights in the west, only to ignore the plight of others.

Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, no matter what your opinion of it is, can not be reasonably claimed to be as outrageous as Saudi Arabia’s government hoping to murder people for merely coming out (7).

 Yet, the former got infinitely more media attention than the latter.

lgbt #5I believe this is one simple reason – the LGBT community is scared to call out homophobia when it’s rooted in Islamic extremism. I definitely think there’s good intentions at place – people may not want to be seen as stigmatising a fellow minority, or inciting racial tensions. However, I firmly believe that calling out homophobia is justified in every circumstance, no matter which religion is perpetrating  it.

 

Ghosts of the Past

One stigma has consistently followed the LGBT community for the past thirty years or so. And recently, it seems to me as if we’re going backwards on removing this unfair prejudice from our reputation.

lgbt #6I’m talking of the  issue of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. When the AIDS epidemic struck in the 1980s, it predominately killed gay men. This led to a further backlash in the public opinion of the LGBT community, as they were perceived to be immoral, sexually promiscuous and deviant. The impact of the terrible disease upon gay men can be attributed to the lack of education at the time – there was little knowledge about condom use in gay sex and the risks that would come without proper precautions being taken.

However, in 2017, we simply have no excuses. We know the risks associated with unprotected sex, we have condoms readily available and yet HIV infections are still rife among gay men. 55% of the people living with HIV in the USA are gay or bisexual men (8). There was a 19% decrease in HIV diagnosis rates among the general population between 2005 and 2014, but a 6% increase among gay men in the same time period. This is simply unacceptable.

It really angers me, and should anger others, that people will be so consistently careless and thoughtless, just for temporary experiences of pleasure. It’s almost like the fear of AIDS has been taken out of this generation. With PREP and all the cocktails of medication available, it doesn’t seem like such a scary prospect to be diagnosed with HIV anymore.

 

Conclusion

I admit that this article was difficult to write. It was hard to write, without coming across as self-loathing or overtly critical. None of what I said in this article was intended to offend or be spiteful. I’d only want to see gay people thriving in positive communities, ones that aren’t dominated by promiscuity or tribalism.

Above all, it’s important to remember that no matter how much attachment you may feel towards any community, you’ll ultimately stand alone as an individual.

 

  1. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/04/13/caitlyn-jenner-says-she-was-alienated-by-ellen-over-same-sex-marriage/
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/34408467/caitlyn-jenner-avoids-charges-over-fatal-crash
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/jan/16/boy-george-sentenced-handcuffing-male-escort
  4. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/937243/boy-george-ruined-my-life-and-never-said-sorry-the-bbc-should-be-ashamed-says-man-singer-held-hostage-and-beat/
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/27/gay-relationships-still-criminalised-countries-report
  6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-40774930
  7. http://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/03/28/report-saudi-authorities-seek-death-penalty-for-coming-out/
  8. http://www.thebodypro.com/content/58618/hiv-among-gay-and-bisexual-men.html

The Price Of Fame: Hollywood’s Lost Boys

 

‘Everybody comes to Hollywood

They wanna make it in the neighbourhood

They like the smell of it in Hollywood

How could it hurt you when it looks so good’

 –‘Hollywood’, Madonna, ‘American Life’ (2003)

 

The ‘Child Star Gone Bad’ is almost expected at this point from children working in the film and music industries. Countless of examples have led the general public to believe fame corrupts young people – Lindsay Lohan, Macaulay Culkin, River Phoenix, Amanda Bynes, Corey Haim, all of whom have struggled in their lives post-fame.

price of fame #2

Most frequently, the dysfunctional nature of child stars was blamed on their notoriously bad parents. The parents of child stars are regularly characterised as pushy, overbearing and manipulative – which is certainly true in many cases. Macaulay Culkin’s father was allegedly pushing him into stardom, resulting in a strained relationship that led to him being placed with a court-appointed guardian at age 16 (1). Corey Feldman even went as far as to seek emancipation from his parents at age 15, to protect his earnings from his greedy parents.

There’s another element to the psyche of the child star that hasn’t been given much consideration until recently. Are these damaged former stars the victims of sexual abuse?

It was Corey Feldman who first shed light on the issue of paedophilia in Hollywood, in a Corey Haim2011 interview with ABC’s Nightline.

During the height of his career in the 1980s (When he appeared in films such as ‘Stand By Me’ (1986), ‘The Goonies’ (1985) and ‘Gremlins’ (1984) , among others), Feldman claimed that he was abused by Hollywood moguls and elites.

“I can tell you that the number one problem in Hollywood was, is and always will be paedophilia” Feldman said in the interview, before going on to comment, “It’s the big secret…I was surrounded by them when I was fourteen years old…surrounded…” (2)

Feldman blames the death of his long-time friend Corey Haim in 2010, on the long running abuse he suffered in his younger years. From a rape at eleven years old, Feldman saw his friend spiral into drug addiction and eventually die at age thirty-eight.

Other stars have also spoken out about the systematic child abuse going on behind the scenes, including Elijah Wood of ‘Lord Of The Rings’ fame and Allison Arngrim from ‘Little House On The Prairie’.  Arngrim was even wrote in her autobiography, “In Hollywood, there are parents who will practically prostitute their kids in the hope they can make money and get ahead. It is a horrible trap that the kids are in” (3).

With Harvey Weinstein’s years of abuse coming to light, the same exposure needs to be cast upon the epidemic of abuse against children in Hollywood. The two issues aren’t mutually exclusive, both types of abuse are enabled as their abusers benefit from protection.

Roman Polanski, despite pleading guilty to the rape of Samantha Gailey in 1977 when she was thirteen years old, is still celebrated among actors in Hollywood. His win of a Oscar for ‘Best Director’ in 2003 inspired a standing ovation from most of the audience – including Meryl Streep who was later quoted as saying, “Roman Polanski? Yes…I’m very sorry that he’s in jail” (4).

price of fame #4.png

Streep wasn’t alone in downplaying Polanski’s actions, as Ewan McGregor also joined in, saying, “When I heard he was arrested, I was very upset, because I’m very fond of him” (5) and Whoopi Goldberg launched an infamous tirade on ‘The View’, telling her co-hosts, “It wasn’t rape-rape” (6). Lisa Kudrow was quoted as saying, “I have mixed feelings about it”, when asked about Polanski’s arrest in 2009 (7).

A petition even circulated at the time of his 2009 arrest by Swiss authorities, demanding his release, signed by 138 Hollywood figures including Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen (8).

Imagine for a moment if Polanski wasn’t an internationally acclaimed director. If he were a Catholic priest, or a man living down the street from his victim, there’s no way sane people would be trying to downplay his actions or pass it off as a ‘lapse of judgement’. How does such language make future victims of child abuse feel? If their abuser is famous or noted for their talent, they won’t be heard in coming forward?

It’s my hope that a conversation is opened on this dark and uncomfortable topic. If more people can come forward as they did with Harvey Weinstein, hopefully the dangerous predators in the movie industry can be named and shamed. Unfortunately, if Polanski is anything to go by, there’ll be plenty of awards for the accused.

At least in Hollywood.

 

 

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4705759/The-father-from-hell.html
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOZQHxJlD6g (Former Child Star Corey Feldman: Paedophilia Rampant in Hollywood)
  3. http://news.sky.com/story/hollywood-sex-abuse-are-the-kids-alright-11086776
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNrsV_o0KYo (Video: Meryl Streep Defends Child Rapist Roman Polanski “I am Really Sorry That He Is In Jail)
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofN_GUl3oSM (Ewan McGregor Defends Roman Polanski)
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHflBPU-DtA (Whoopi Goldberg: Polanski Child Rape Wasn’t Real Rape)
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=180kY4rpKcU (Stars discuss Polanski arrest)
  8. https://www.thedailybeast.com/its-time-for-hollywood-to-cast-out-roman-polanski

 

A Right-Wing Revival? : The Next Generation Of Conservatives

Among the current generation of newly legal voters, it’s commonplace to vote for left-leaning parties and candidates. A lot factors into this – most notably the increasingly relaxed stance most teenagers have taken on social issues such as immigration, LGBT rights or climate change.

However, it’s been suggested that this won’t be the case for much longer. In fact, it’s possible that upcoming generations will see a return to more conservative politics (1) (2). Deemed the most ‘conservative generation since WW2’, it was found that 59% of Generation X reported having ‘conservative’ or ‘moderate’ views on various issues.

Of course, the most vocal among the current generation are the liberal-minded. Universities are very left-wing and as such, it is often deemed wise for conservative students to keep their opinions to themselves.

conservative #1

I spoke with two conservative teenagers, from both sides of the Atlantic. I wanted to understand how they came to develop their views, and perhaps get a glimpse of what the future of the conservative mindset looks like.

 

Dominique

Dominique had only recently decided upon being a Conservative Party voter, when we spoke over Facebook Messenger. I can’t say I was particularly surprised, for she’s been open about her views for as long as I’ve known her. Her open admiration for Jacob Rees Moggs and championing of the death penalty through Facebook has left little doubt to her political leanings.

When asked about whether her opinions had been influenced by family members, Dominique said “My mum does hold some relatively conservative beliefs, she’s quite socially conservative which has influenced my outlook on things quite a bit but fiscally she’s always been of the opinion that the government does not do enough to ensure that people are supported – particularly because she is disabled and relies on governmental welfare because of that”.

However, she was quick to note, “But I would definitely say conservatism is something that I’ve grown into more than the latter – living in Manchester I am surrounded by left-wing ideas and ideals, it’s difficult to really find an alternative view without being seen as a two headed monster if I’m honest”.

It’s through studying A-Level Politics that she came to embrace Conservatism, something that she openly admits isn’t easy as a black woman.

I asked why she felt people of colour predominately voted to the left, to which she replied, “Socially I feel as though the left is more aware, however fiscally I’m simply more conservative, I believe free markets, encouragement of enterprise and entrepreneurship would be more helpful to ethnic minorities instead of state dependency. The problem with conservatism is its racist past, but I seek to change that and make the idea of conservatism open to everyone”.

Looking to the future of Conservative politics, I wanted to understand where the Conservative Party was heading with regards to ethnic voters. Dominique pointed to Theresa May’s recent enquiry into the treatment of ethnic minorities as proof that change was coming, that the Conservatives were reaching out to minority voters.

“Do you intend to enter politics at some point?” I asked.

Dominique replied, “Definitely in the future, being a MP would be my dream job, someday Prime Minister if God blesses me”.

 

Sam

Sam certainly isn’t shy about his Republican beliefs. President Trump appeared in the profile picture of each social media account, and a American flag was proudly displayed beside his Twitter username. Living in Michigan, Sam is a vocal defender of the president and isn’t shy about it.

Though he lives in a politically split family – ‘my mom’s side was classic union Democrats, while my dad’s side was entirely Republican’, Sam asserts that becoming a Republican was something that he decided on his own.

Sam is a supporter of President Trump, who I described to him as ‘a Marmite figure’ (Either loathed or loved), but he can understand where the disdain for Trump comes from.

“At times yes I do understand why the left might not like him, he can be brash and very blunt. But personally I feel those are good qualities to have in a leader, especially during a time where things are so divided and the United States and it’s facing extreme threats from its enemies” Sam said, before reassuring me that there’s never been a time that Trump crossed the line for him personally.

A lot of the vehement dislike for President, Sam believes, is due to the media’s manipulation of events – “I’ve seen it first hand, I’ve seen him speak in person many times, and each time I would watch the news after and they were completely misconstruing everything he had said”.

I wanted to know which issue really won Sam over to Trump’s side, to which Sam responded, “Number one I would say is the border and immigration issues in the U.S., we’ve been having horrible crime problems that have been slipping over our southern border for decades, and so far he’s the only president to focus so much attention on fixing it. I’ve also liked how he has handled the situation with North Korea”.

Sam  respects Trump’s assertive personality and his outspokenness, considering his stance on political correctness to be one of his winning characteristics.

Like Dominique, Sam is a minority within his own minority group. He is openly gay, and part of a growing number of gay men who votes Republican. I was curious at how this had altered his experience within the party, considering it’s long-held reputation as the party of traditional values.

“Yes I would say I’ve been accepted by the conservative community. I interned for the Michigan GOP under Ronna Romney, I attended the GOP Convention and got to see the entire convention rise to their feet in applause when Trump said he was going to protect the LGBT. I’ve taken guys that I have dated to GOP dinners, conservatives are very accepting and I have never once been treated differently by any Republican for being gay” Sam says proudly, before noting, “The only real hate I’ve ever experienced has been from liberals for being conservative”.

Though Sam and Dominique may seem like anomalies currently, voices like theirs are only going to become more amplified and vocal. Social media and recent political developments have paved the way for young conservatives to be more vocal about their beliefs. Only time will tell if there is to be a seismic change in the voting behaviour of the up-and-coming generation.

 

 

  1. http://nypost.com/2017/07/01/why-the-next-generation-after-millennials-will-vote-republican/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2017/08/11/why-democrats-should-be-losing-sleep-over-generation-z/

The Big Kid Generation

It’s not uncommon for unflattering comparisons to be made of different generations. A frequently cited comparison pits the teenagers who stormed Normandy in World War 2 with modern day teenagers, who require ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’. Though nobody wants to see young people placed into peril, the message of the circulating meme may be that there’s no sense of maturity nowadays. Have the modern generation given up all sense of responsibility, exchanging it for being coddled and pampered?

Teenagers are often slated for ‘attention seeking’, as supposedly evident by the rise in self-harm and claims of mental illness. The figures make for tough reading – roughly 3 million American teenagers experienced a depressive episode in 2015 and roughly 30% of girls and 20% of boys were said to have an anxiety disorder (1).  It’s often deemed by the older generation that they have no right to feel distress, anxiety or upset – they have it a lot easier these days, so they say.

big kids 2

Just waits till this decade is done…

They fail to take the ‘Post-9/11’ generation’s surroundings into consideration. School shootings and terrorist attacks have become normal to them, they’ve seen their parents weather a rough recession and have transitioned into adulthood alongside the rise of social media. There’s a lot of unique aspects at play that aren’t being acknowledged.

It’s a strange contradiction – almost as if teenagers have simultaneously grown up too fast and remained stuck in a child-like mentality.

Consider the attachment many online have to children’s entertainment. Online communities of adult males follow ‘My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’ with enthusiastic big kids 3loyalty – with 10,000 of the Bronies (As they’ve come to be known) attending BronyCon in 2014 (2).  Grown men enjoying a children’s cartoon would have been ‘Basement Dweller’ stereotypes twenty years ago, but now they are perceived as a legitimate online community. I think this is another sign of a flexible understanding of age boundaries – no longer are people being expected to ‘grow out’ of childhood pleasures. Having worked in retail and seen many adult women purchasing Harry Potter t-shirts, I definitely feel this spreads further than just ‘My Little Pony’.

But what does this mean exactly? Are we scared to grow up and leave our formative years behind us?

A study found that millennials don’t consider themselves adults until they leave home – which could be an increasingly higher age as house prices continue to climb. On average, millennials don’t consider themselves adults until age 30 (3).

The best places to find evidence of this are in the workplace – where 8% of millennials are bringing their parents to job interviews (4) and lying about attending a funeral in order to build a treehouse (5).  These types of antics are laughable to me – like something you’d expect from a sitcom character.

Perhaps I’ve been too negative. There’s no doubt that it’s counterproductive to bring your parent along to work, if you wish to make it in the world as an adult. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with retaining sentiment for your childhood favourites – as long as it doesn’t cross over into the surreal and troubled. Transitioning into adulthood should be about embracing newfound responsibilities and opportunities, whilst being able to put aside childish things with a sense of bittersweet acknowledgement.

  1. http://time.com/4547322/american-teens-anxious-depressed-overwhelmed/
  2. https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-bizarre-world-of-bronies-adult-male-fans-of-my-little-pony
  3. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4341436/Millennials-don-t-consider-adults-30.html
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/11/parent-job-interview_n_3907447.html