Marvel boss says diversity to blame for falling sales

Despite the continuing, terrifying rise of diversity, those mutants are now healthier than ever. This will be the third launch for Spidey since 2002. He is arguing that they don’t like gay or bisexual characters. That’s what people are saying. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.” There was more. Speaking to ICv2, David Gabriel (for it is he) offered a veritable master-class in the art of retooling hearsay as evidence. Won’t somebody save us from the marginal encroachment of diversity to a hitherto vanilla mainstream? Let me tell you.   At the risk of poking a digital hornet’s nest, one could reasonably argue that this was a driving force behind the ludicrous GamerGate campaign a few years back. Good people. This week’s prize for the best accidental evocation of Trumpian rhetoric goes to Marvel Comics’ vice-president of sales. I don’t need to back up Claim X because I’m not necessarily suggesting Claim X is true. When’s International Men’s Day?” I can’t say for certain that any of this is happening. He’s now arguing that, whereas he approves of that lesbian superhero who works on a council anti-bullying programme, he feels that Marvel should focus its energy on endangered classics such as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Thor. “We have also been hearing from stores that welcome and champion our new characters and titles and want more,” he said. Feminists are coming to scalp our frail wee egos,” they type. Record number of female protagonists in hit films in 2016 ‘Gender equality in shows like Doctor Who? To be fair, Gabriel did appear to realise that he’d taken the conversation in an unhelpful direction. Never mind that. In a few months, we will see yet another cinematic version of Spider-Man being introduced to yet another planet of compliant fans. He has “heard” that such people like their heroes to be straight white men. “So we’re getting both sides of the story and the only upcoming change we’re making is to ensure we don’t lose focus [on] our core heroes.” This man hears a lot. But there are corners of the Crab Nebula where it barely sold a ticket. “Crouch behind the Reddit stockade, Social Justice Warriors are building another bonfire. It’s also worth considering the phrase “any character that was diverse”. Yet a cabal of young white men remains deeply threatened by even the slightest efforts to make films, …

Marvel boss ‘hears’ that minorities are bad for sales

He’s now arguing that, whereas he approves of that lesbian superhero who works on a council anti-bullying programme, he feels that Marvel should focus its energy on endangered classics such as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Thor. Both are X-Men spinoffs. Riri Williams, a black engineering student, has nudged Iron Man aside to become Ironheart. Logan is a hit on film. All lives matter. But if Marvel manages to produce an Avenger who is black, white, Asian, gay, straight, male, female and just a little Swedish then good luck to them. Record number of female protagonists in hit films in 2016 ‘Gender equality in shows like Doctor Who? When’s International Men’s Day?” I can’t say for certain that any of this is happening. But it’s what I’m hearing. But the “what we heard” and the “I don’t know that that’s true” could have been lifted unaltered from a Trump campaign speech. Good people. None of this wobbles the super-pillars of the Marvel Mansion. “Crouch behind the Reddit stockade, Social Justice Warriors are building another bonfire. He is suggesting that comic-book readers don’t like black or female characters. We know what Gabriel means. Lack of interest briefly killed the X-Men comic in the late 1960s. Won’t somebody save us from the marginal encroachment of diversity to a hitherto vanilla mainstream? Gabriel argues that the comic book giant’s efforts to increase representation of women and minorities have damaged sales. To be fair, Gabriel did appear to realise that he’d taken the conversation in an unhelpful direction. Legion is a critical smash on TV. This week’s prize for the best accidental evocation of Trumpian rhetoric goes to Marvel Comics’ vice-president of sales. If you want to read comics that reflect social diversity then you are still better off seeking out independent titles. That’s what people are saying. “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” he said. “Circle the wagons. I’m merely arguing that some people – a lot of people, the greatest people, let me tell you – believe Claim X to be the case. I don’t need to back up Claim X because I’m not necessarily suggesting Claim X is true. The company’s flexible way with parallel universes has allowed a teenager of black and Hispanic descent to become Spider-Man. Asking any one character to be diverse really is unreasonable. But Marvel has certainly widened its horizons in recent …

Chairman Mao’s most timid lover

I have heard it said that the children of the Immortals, the sons and daughters of our great leaders, have betrayed us, laughing at our struggle, at our amnesia. In the sunshine behind the works canteen we held hands. He loved language, he told me. I loved his stories and let myself be seduced by them, and him. I met Bo on a train. Those princelings are powerful beyond measure, reopening the canneries, building factories, speaking out in voices so loud it pains the ears. Once I tried to get out of this homely prison, to walk down to the old theatre and unearth my father’s album buried beneath the green banks. Neither Akio, Bo nor the Great Helmsman himself walks along the cobblestone lanes towards me. I was the person he most trusted in the world, he said. Reform through labour has a different meaning now. We spoke with a single tongue. I touch the glass as if to reach for the clouds that come and go. When he disappeared, I took over his position. They blocked the door and at night strapped me to the bed. Comrades were to identify themselves with the masses, never to stand above them, to immerse themselves among them. That is what we were told to say. Next morning I had to speak out, to tell the Commissar that Bo’s father had fought with the Kuomintang. His courting was cautious, as was both customary and judicious. I amplified Chairman Mao’s instructions on the omnipotence of revolutionary war, repeating his dictate that every comrade was “to love the people and listen attentively to the voice of the masses”. Bo imagined me not as Butterfly Wu, but the rouge-faced hero of more suitable narratives like The White-haired Girl and Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy. I hear the world is richer and happier these days. In Bo’s version I struck down the parasites and took command of a female detachment of the Red Army. We lifted up the Chairman’s words as universal, absolute truth. But soon it will be again the year of the dragon, with body of snake, horns of stag, claws of tiger and scales of fish, and I will be reborn. Maybe my memories would be happy now – on this New Year’s Day – if people hadn’t strayed from the revolutionary fold, from the teachings of the Red Red Sun in Our …

Portrait of the artist as an older woman

However, I was determined to enjoy the experience. I applied and was fortunate to get it. Never one to turn down a challenge, I applied. Reviews, essays, presentations and deadlines followed inexorably. I was 40 years older than many of them and out of my comfort zone. I wanted to turn this material into a memoir, but creative writing did not seem to teach me how to turn facts into interesting writing; it had different rules. Occasionally I sensed that some, intent on making a career out of writing, were puzzled that a blow-in, who had already had a successful career, was exposing herself to such stress. I tripped over and concussed myself; I broke a wrist and had to type with one finger. I enjoyed it and did the second one. I don’t know. However, it was fascinating. Late hours in the office, deadlines, overseas trips to war zones, I could take it. Coming to terms with my disfigured post-surgery body was hard. I suspected some students knew just what they could ignore, and took short cuts. The upside was that I might be accepted; the downside was that it would be hard work, very hard work, no quarter given. For further information, check www.bealtaine.com I still had more work to do, ideas to realise, projects to be brought to fruition and staff to develop. Books became my new addiction Eventually the therapies finished, but my energy levels were abysmal. The bonus is that I now have a memoir in progress. The majority were kind and incredibly helpful. I enrolled in an online course in creative writing at a London college. No way. Observing colleagues nearing a certain age mark off their remaining workdays on the office calendar as if the end could not come soon enough intrigued me. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even manage to make it to the office in Denmark to say my personal goodbye to colleagues who had almost become family. This was eminently worthwhile, but I could never have imagined the stress and emotion involved. I was reading material and thinking of concepts that were all new to me. What were the characteristics of a second person point of view? Books became my new addiction. Work has never frightened me. Just when I thought I had it all I was diagnosed with aggressive cancer. Listening to Joseph O’Connor sharing his Diaries …

Big Week on the Farm review: RTÉ’s agents of F.I.E.L.D.

Spring is in the air on the Shalvey family’s dairy farm in Cavan, our hosts for the week, and to prove it they provide a home video of a recent calving – a natural birth, with no interception. Let’s do it. Garrihy’s response is a relief; an assuring – and, yes, down to earth – confirmation of error, while everyone else seems more frantic by pretending that nothing is going wrong. And that’s an immense shame. Tonight, it’s Aobhín Garrihy, recent runner up in Dancing with the Stars, and a presence so ethereal that she is required by law to prove how down to earth she is at every given opportunity. This seems to be because the makers, anxious that the material doesn’t warrant it, still expect a level of enthusiasm from their presenters that borders on delirium. This makes it quite different from almost every dramamtic depiction of calving on TV, where frowning humans usually intercept way past their elbows. The vagaries of the broadcast present a steeper test, though. While Lawlor, resplendent in a pink houndstooth jacket, can gush winningly over a video about “the secret life of the egg” and McSweeney will affect paroxysms of suspense over a world-record attempt at making sausages at speed (which I took to be a metaphor for the show itself), this level of forced jollity finally seems unhinged. Poor Lawlor, who must laugh manically through one magnificently awkward introduction to Pull the Udder One, exclaims at another light-hearted but revealing moment: “Oh my God, I didn’t write this script.”  With a week still to go, these early glitches, mistakes, hesitations, runaway interviews and tight grimaces of joy are likely to settle down, of course. Let’s investigate animal husbandry. Why don’t the consulting technical boffins, the agents of F.I.E.L.D., call their cattle measuring devices, “Moo-nitors?” The first of a daily broadcast features live, fretful link-ups with farm-flung correspondents – Darragh McCullough reports from a sheep dairy in Mayo and Helen Carroll shells out information from a snail ranch in Carlow – along with a celebrity guest presenter. Shot in a transparent marquee, which partly protects participants from the beautiful inconvenience of the great outdoors, the broadcast rattles by at such a brisk clip there is barely time to absorb or question anything. Despite its relentlessly upbeat depictions of our rich agrarian culture, that is the selling point of Big Week on the …

Harrison Ford will not be punished for runway near-miss

Guardian service In 1999, the actor crash-landed his helicopter during a training flight, though neither he nor his instructor were hurt in the incident. The actor would retain his pilot’s certificate “without restriction”, but had agreed to undergo “airman counselling” before federal authorities closed the matter. In 2000, Ford was forced to make an emergency landing at Lincoln Municipal airport in Nebraska while flying a Beechcraft Bonanza due to high winds. Recordings later released by the FAA had Ford saying: “I’m the schmuck that landed on the taxiway.” Mr Hofer said Ford had co-operated with investigators, was a licensed pilot for more than 20 years with more 5,000 hours of flight experience, and had never been the subject of an FAA enforcement action. The actor was praised by onlookers for ingenuity in avoiding more populated areas. Ford has been involved in aviation incidents before. However, Ford’s lawyer, Stephen Hofer, wrote in a statement that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would not fine Ford and the actor would retain his pilot’s licence without restriction. In March 2015, he was injured when his second World War-era trainer crashed on a Los Angeles golf course. Ford (74) has been under investigation for the incident at John Wayne airport in Orange County, California, in February, which saw the actor mistakenly land his single-engine Aviat Husky plane on a taxiway rather than a runway, passing over an American Airlines jet that was waiting to take off. Footage released by the airport showed Ford narrowly missing the American Airlines plane. “The FAA conducted a full investigation into the matter, including an interview with Mr Ford, and determined that no administrative or enforcement action was warranted,” Mr Hofer wrote. US actor Harrison Ford will not be fined or lose his pilot’s licence over his latest aviation mishap, US federal authorities have said.

Ireland’s Property Crisis review: an aerial view of a sprawling crisis

We catch a brief glimpse of Minister for Housing Simon Coveney at a press conference to explain the Housing Assistance Payment scheme (HAP), designed to help homeless families access the private rental sector, yet we have no access to him, nor anybody else in authority. The first of two parts, the documentary is a busy piece of composition, created with 11 directors who have fanned widely through the ground level of these phenomena. You would hardly be alone. She has until Easter Monday to find somewhere to live, amenable to HAP, with three rooms, and by the time we leave her she is still searching. Occasionally the edit director, Liam McGrath, uses statistics, both sobering and worrying, as a structural device. Instead, it prefers a flitter of brisk images, sometimes edited with an insistent click, as though presenting dizzying scenes from a catastrophe. “You can’t help but think some of this has been brought upon our selves.” That, however, is as much an analysis of the causes behind these unravelling problems as the programme will provide. In the end, they are not successful, and it’s a quietly devastating moment to see them try to make some accommodation with their diminishing prospects. “We just have to find a way to not worry about it,” Maurice says, with straining positivity, while wondering if their landlord will sell. I don’t know where we’re going to go.” The makers of this new documentary on the crisis do not lack for material. In February, for instance, there were 4,875 adults and 2,546 children in need of emergency accommodation, and in Selena, a single mother in Ballyfermot, whose landlord is selling, we meet someone on the cusp of its trauma. And where do you begin? In Ireland’s Property Crisis (RTE One, Monday, 9.35pm) the answer is to provide a snapshot of the problem, or, given its vast and ambitious scope, something like an aerial view. This outlook, a kind of whistling over the abyss, is not unusual, even in the extreme circumstances of Colin McSweeney, an affable former IT employee who waits nightly for emergency accommodation in a hostel. Where will it all end? Some nights, he confesses, he sits all night in Ireland’s only 24-hour Starbucks, now housed in the old home of the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank. That seems appropriate. (On the waiting list for social housing for two years already, at her current …

S-Town: the mystery podcast that asks ‘What makes a person’s life?’

Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos filmed Making a Murderer over 10 years.  The novelistic approach The contemporary successes in long-form media, almost novelistic in approach, means viewers, listeners and readers now expect a standard across digital-first media that is not just well-produced but also laden with twists and cliffhangers. Few non-Irish people will tune into RTÉ Radio 1’s daily schedule, but plenty of Irish people listen to Song Exploder and 99% Invisible. But the reality is, the tastes of voracious consumers of media are not just tied to place, but to quality.  Few non-Irish people will tune into RTÉ Radio 1’s daily schedule, but plenty of Irish people listen to Song Exploder and 99% Invisible  The continued success of Second Captains, which successfully utilised the 1,000 true fans philosophy with their migration to the fan-funding platform Patreon, and indeed The Irish Times Women’s Podcast, which I helped establish, show that things that are local can be global if they are more than just local. By extension, we ruminate on our own time spent on this planet. Truth lies in nuance. But the pressure of deadlines, space to fill, and tight budgets is unforgiving. The podcast was scheduled to be completed in 2026. The question that S-Town attempts to answer is what makes a person’s life. The adage that it gets in the way of a good story is rarely a good reporter’s motto. What gets put in and left out shapes a narrative that can also include bias for narrative over fact. The question for journalists is how can stories that don’t necessarily have rollercoaster elements to their narrative be told in equally compelling ways. The potential of the form expanded and continues to.  New things have a tendency to replicate the old things until they find their own thing. True crime stories will always make some feel squeamish. Who is this central character, John B McLemore, and why did he live how he did? While the source material – recordings of interviews with Sgt Bowe Bergdahl by the Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal conducted as research for a film – were compelling on paper, the podcast struggled to figure out what questions it was trying to ask along the way, not to mention find satisfying answers.  An intriguing mystery S-Town began as many current popular podcasts do: an intriguing mystery of sorts with a compelling central character and hints of true …

Amber Heard sues film-makers over body-double sex scenes

Those who have seen the film, which stars Billy Bob Thornton alongside Heard, have been critical of it. “After reading the script, she insisted on specific restrictions about nudity and sex scenes in the film as a condition to agreeing to appear in the movie. The secret filming of this body double footage was not on the schedule that had been provided to Heard and was shot with a skeleton crew only after Heard had completed filming and had left the set. Amber Heard has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the troubled film adaptation of Martin Amis’s London Fields, over the recording of an “explicit pornographic sex scene” involving the actor’s body double. Heard’s lawyer says that the footage, featured in a producer’s cut of the film, was edited so as to leave audiences “with the distinct impression that it was Heard” in the scene. (- Guardian service) “The body double footage included an explicit pornographic sex scene that Heard would never have agreed to do herself… The pictures are used to make sure actors’ make-up remains consistent from scene to scene, but Heard alleges that they were retained by Hanley after filming had been completed. That was followed by a suit by the producers against Heard, who they alleged had “breached performance and promotional obligations” and had mounted a “misguided and unlawful conspiratorial campaign” against the film. Cullen alleged that his name had been used in the film’s promotional campaign despite him having not agreed to the final cut, which he said included “incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography, as well as juxtaposing the holiest city in Islam against mind-control.” In response, the film’s producers filed a cross-complaint against Cullenfor violating his contract by failing to deliver the film on time and refusing to engage in promotional activities. It was slated to appear at the Toronto film festival in 2015, but was removed from the festival lineup when the film’s director Matthew Cullen filed a suit against the producers for fraud. “The cross-complaint is a work of fiction, worthy of Ms Heard’s London Fields character Nicola Six, and it marks the latest in a series of fantastical allegations she has made,” says the plaintiff’s lawyer Mathew Rosengart in response to the allegations. the body double footage was designed and intended to leave anyone who saw the images with the distinct impression that it was Heard.” …

Michèle Forbes: why I set up a book(writing) club

Myself and Hilary Fannin first met at drama school in Dublin in the eighties, and embarked on our professional acting careers together. There was a long pause. It came about in the simplest of ways. We caught up with each others’ lives, talked about marriage, children and work. Read work out. The conversation naturally, but somewhat tentatively, led to the confession that we’d each been writing something of our own. We nodded. And as the weeks and months passed there was something we began to notice: it seemed that no matter how much we had doubted ourselves before each meeting, we always left the group ready to continue the work. Maureen looked at me then at Hilary. There are also those groups of diverse people who are not blood related but who come together through a shared system of values and beliefs and who discover a natural affinity with and for one another. We decided to meet at regular intervals. There’s Harry Gardner Eccentric Comedian, Arabella and her Dancing Chickens, Gordon McGregor The Famous Foot Controller, Whistleologist Dickie Mitchell, Mlle Sabine and her flock of Performing Cockatoos and of course Nellie The Cripple With the Angel Voice. This was important for it meant having work to bring in the first place. Gradually we began to get a clearer critical understanding of our own processes. We had a loose template. Edith & Oliver review: Illusions of grandeur It takes a village: the help I got to become an author Dissecting Danielle McLaughlin: the inside story of her writers’ group We continued to work together on and off over the years in varying capacities with different companies on both established plays and new ones, sometimes as performers, sometimes as directors, sometimes as writers. This disparate group connect in the novel through their difficulties, their catastrophic failures, their joys and successes, at a time when cinemas begin to crowd the high streets and the world of the music hall entertainer fades, changing forever. No matter how much we had doubted ourselves before each meeting, we always left ready to continue the work. That said, by the time we had come to form our writing group – sorry family – we had already developed a deep relationship with language. We understood. Because you don’t really know until you do it. But there were also the years when we were out of contact too, periods …

Slane 2017: Guns N’ Roses reveal full line-up for concert

“The local connection with Otherkin is special.” Brighton-based drum and bass duo Royal Blood released their self-titled debut album in 2014, which went to Number One in Ireland. Their debut album is due out later this year. Slane Castle owner Lord Henry Mountcharles said on Tuesday he was delighted with the line-up for May 27th. Royal Blood, Mark Lanegan and Otherkin have been added to line-up for the American rock group’s concert in May. Some 80,000 tickets sold out within one day last December for Guns N’ Roses’ return to Slane Castle, a quarter of a century after their first performance in the Co Meath estate in May 1992. “Royal Blood is a really exciting act and I am thrilled they are on the bill,” he said following the line-up announcement. The Slane gig will kick off the tour’s European leg which will take in London, Paris, Madrid and 15 other cities before returning to North America for another series of concerts in late 2017. Guns N’ Roses have announced the full line-up for their sold-out return to Slane Castle on May 27th as part of the Not In This Lifetime Tour. While general admission tickets for the May gig have sold out, a limited number of VIP castle compound tickets are still available. Following an extended hiatus due to personal differences between singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash, the band’s original line-up returned to play a series of stadium concerts throughout 2016 for the first time since 1993. Otherkin are a grunge-pop band from Dublin, fronted by Slane local Luke Reilly. Guns N’ Roses sold more than two million tickets for the first part of its Not In This Lifetime tour which took in North and South America over the course of 2016, grossing an estimated $200 million (€190 million) in the process.

Amber Heard sues troubled London Fields team over body-double sex scenes

the body double footage was designed and intended to leave anyone who saw the images with the distinct impression that it was Heard.” Heard’s lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal actions to have plagued the film, which remains unreleased. The secret filming of this body double footage was not on the schedule that had been provided to Heard and was shot with a skeleton crew only after Heard had completed filming and had left the set. Amber Heard has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the troubled film adaptation of Martin Amis’s London Fields, over the recording of an “explicit pornographic sex scene” involving the actor’s body double. “Amber Heard is the latest victim of this lascivious and sexploitive couple,” the suit alleges. That was followed by a suit by the producers against Heard, who they alleged had “breached performance and promotional obligations” and had mounted a “misguided and unlawful conspiratorial campaign” against the film. Heard’s lawyer says that the footage, featured in a producer’s cut of the film, was edited so as to leave audiences “with the distinct impression that it was Heard” in the scene. “The body double footage included an explicit pornographic sex scene that Heard would never have agreed to do herself… “The Hanleys also caused to be filmed secretly several additional nude and sex scenes with a body double for Heard and included them in the producer’s cut – also in violation of the nudity rider. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Heard is suing London Fields producer Christopher Hanley and his wife Roberta, the film’s screenwriter, for violating a “nudity rider” included in her contract by shooting footage that she had no knowledge of after she had left the set. Directors Michael Winterbottom and David Mackenzie were also attached, before Cullen signed on to make the film in 2013. Those who have seen the film, which stars Billy Bob Thornton alongside Heard, have been critical of it. Cullen alleged that his name had been used in the film’s promotional campaign despite him having not agreed to the final cut, which he said included “incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography, as well as juxtaposing the holiest city in Islam against mind-control.” In response, the film’s producers filed a cross-complaint against Cullenfor violating his contract by failing to deliver the film on time and refusing to engage in promotional activities. “After …

Immigrants make their influence felt, and old masters get worked over

It’s something he has done before, though in a more conscious, conceptualised way, trying out various approaches to dealing with a pre-existing, underlying image. She became the lover of statesman Pericles who, following his divorce, lived with her. Until April 11th, molesworthgallery.com Remnants: Stephen Lawlor Oliver Sears Gallery , Dublin **** Copying from the old master was, for hundreds of years, and still is for many people, part of a painter’s apprenticeship. Is there a subtext here about the risk of losing touch with a wealth of cultural heritage? In the larger version of The Courtship, the myriad lines and drips of multicoloured pigment resemble an elaborate tapestry that is unravelling, with threads trailing all over the place. They had a son. Pictorial drama In Remnants, while the paintings are non-representational, they pursue a lively dialogue with their sources in terms of composition and chiaroscuro. The process is meticulous, repetitive and entirely manual – no masking tape or other aids – so that patterns can drift away from strict geometries, and there is never that machined look to the edges. Looking at two ambitious works, Canopy and Orpheus & Eurydice, certainly, there could be, particularly given our current age of anxiety. These small notes have a disproportionately strong optical effect. Her palette varies significantly from work to work and relatively speaking she uses a lot of colour, but always judiciously, stepping back from garish tones, developing harmonies that are sometimes obvious, often complex. Until May 4th, oliversearsgallery.com These black-and-white illustrations became the basis for her show Aspasia – An Influential Immigrant. So do Eileen Gray, who like Aspasia established herself as a major figure in another milieu, and the writer DH Lawrence. As it happens, immigration became a significant secondary theme. Her titles, incidentally, are added after the fact. That, at any rate, is what comes across in the work. Which isn’t to say that she is trying to make any point here: presumably she works on a scale that is comfortable to her. While her basic language is that of geometric abstraction, she mostly departs from straightforward symmetries, letting each painting follow its own path. Until April 22nd, kevinkavanagh.ie Recent works: Helen Blake Molesworth Gallery, Dublin **** A fruitful tree for Margaret Corcoran 14 years on Dublin’s streets, the bird man of Westland Row Iconic Office’s ‘competition’ is everything that’s wrong with how business treats art Helen Blake’s dense, …

How finding oil can be a country’s downfall

So he sets that conflict aside, until he realises that economic ruin is around the corner.” Video Still (2017) by David Jacques For anyone who’s still unconvinced that oil brings misery, the Economist takes a similar view. We talk about how today those times almost seem innocent, bad as they were, and Jacques, with his characteristic hand gestures and his animated, hyper-intelligent train of thought, agrees. Endorphins Jacques says his ideas can generate through the hiatus period that follows each project. “Probably a bit of both. We still use that word. So what caused him to recant his former beliefs? The idea of a central character being visited by a sentient entity isn’t new to Jacques’ work. “It was one of those Lent-type festivals where things end up messy – they’re really surreal.” In Jacques’ case, the figures are dressed “in the garb you’d see from petrochemical workers, but obviously demonic”. It also ties in strongly with a generation of artists coming out of the UK, whether as writers, visual artists, theatre makers or musicians, driven by a desire to make people see what is happening right under their noses, to realise that what we take for granted about our political and economic systems may be fundamentally flawed, and may also, if enough people get involved, be changed. I think of it as a struggle, a configuration of people still getting out of bed, still engaging in it.” So is he optimistic or pessimistic about the future? “Did you know they can patent those things? Put together, the overriding sense is of ancient yet timeless tensions between those in power, and the power of the populace. In The Dionysians of West Lancs (2014), footage from a local illegal rave is cut through with stories from the Acts of Enclosure that privatised lands once held by the people, along with stories of conflict between legislators and the general public. Back in 1975 Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso made his clear when he declared that petrol was “the devil’s excrement”. What is surprising is that he was the Venezuelan minister for energy at the time, and just 15 years previously had been the chief architect of Opec, the mighty cartel of petrol exporting countries. Evil pollutant or vital source of energy? It wasn’t a get-rich-quick, with yachts for him and his mates; but he realised at the end he was wrong. That was …