Category Archives: Politics

Introducing William Morris: the grandfather of fantasy

By Andreas Gerster
Socialism, writing poetry and prose, painting, printing, publishing, stained glass and textile design, and translating Old Norse, Latin, and Greek would be a rather broad job description for most people, but it was all in a day’s work for William Morris. Not exactly one of your canonical authors, Morris was one of those rare multi-talented geniuses, who seem to be able to do just about anything, not just with moderate success, but with brilliance. You might be asking yourself at this point why you’ve never heard of the man. To students of literature he is perhaps best known for his utopian novel News From Nowhere, in which he describes the blissful state of the world after socialism’s triumph.

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Playing the Race Card on “Intouchables”, or: The American Misunderstanding

By Alan Mattli

Ten months ago, in September 2011, a movie was released in France that took the country by storm. It was called Intouchables and it became not only one of the country’s but also one of Europe’s biggest cinematic hits of all time. Writer-directors Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache adapted Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s autobiographical book Le Second Souffle and presented the world with a heartwarming story of an African immigrant from a Paris banlieue who is hired by a rich tetraplegic (Pozzo di Borgo) to be his caregiver. The Weinstein Co. saw the movie’s potential, bought the rights, and distributed it in the United States – a U.S. remake may follow. It was met with mostly benevolent reviews – it holds a 76% “Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes – and it seems to have struck a chord with audiences as well. However, from the beginning, there have been comments on how Intouchables is in actuality an offensive, stereotypical, manipulative resurrection of abhorrent racial stereotypes. Not only is this view aggravatingly ignorant on a whole number of levels, it shows how insecure Americans still are about the portrayal of racial relations.

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What “makes a Swiss”?

Rossella Blattmann

A few weeks ago, nineteen year old Sandra Marjanovic from Volketswil (ZH) was elected Miss Zürich 2012. Straight after the election, an article about the beauty queen appeared on the online version of Tages-Anzeiger. I expected to see reader comments about whether beauty pageants are something positive or negative, or debating whether the new Miss Zurich should be blonde, taller or have a more pronounced cleavage! I was obviously wrong. Sadly, it was comments about Sandra Marjanovic’s origin that prevailed. I was shocked and alarmed to see that a great proportion of the newspaper’s readership seems to believe that people with a different cultural background other are second-class citizens, not “true” Swiss – whatever that may be anyway. (This is especially true for the Balkan countries; in Switzerland the ending –ic sets many people into a state of alert.)  Continue reading