onsdag 3. august 2011

Why should Muhammad Ali win the Nobels Peace Price?

"As is the rest of the world, I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred in Norway this past Friday, and my heart goes out to each of you as you deal with the unimaginable grief of your loss. I am heartbroken, not only due to the senseless deaths of so many innocent victims, including many young people, but also because of the alleged reasoning behind these heinous acts. " Muhammad Ali to the Norwegian people in letter.

The day after the massacre Oslo downtown. (Photo Maria Konow Lund)

At the hairdresser - Grensen Oslo downtown
Not a common view in Oslo 2011.

Why should Muhammad Ali win the Nobels Peace Price?

After creating the group Muhammad Ali for Nobel's Peace Price, somebody asked me: Why? Why do I think a former boxer should get the Nobel's Peace Prize?

I am probably not the first to think this idea. Actually it is my Indian husband who suggested it. Why?

When Norway was completely different. As was of course the rest of the world. Being a foreigner during the 80s meant to be stared at in the streets. To be different. There has been, and partly still is, a tendency for native Norwegians to think about immigrants in this manner: here you come and take our money.

I remember the first time my husband read about Ali. The way Ali spoke up, without excusing himself at any occasion. What others might have perceived as arrogance we simply perceived as an attempt to rise suppressed peoples faith in themselves. Nothing is as dangerous as a lack of confidence. Look at one of the worst mass murderers the world has seen, the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik. If he was full of confidence why did he need to colour his brown hair blond, and have plastic operations all over his face? Confidence means feeling safe and loved. It means being confident that society is not your enemy but a place of great potential. However many immigrants would complain they never got a chance.

Ali was of course not an immigrant, but for immigrants he became an idol as he chose to fight for his confidence. While every one, the media included, told him he would never win anything, he alone would say: You think? We'll see about that. And every time the mostly white American Press had to eat their hats or whatever. Maybe not at once, but after several victorious boxing matches, America started to see the man as more than the Muslim. As did the rest of the world. What kind of will power do you need to rise up as a lion, over and over and over again, at a time when confidence was not a political correct emotion for a black Muslim in the United States?

All his life Muhammad Ali has been talking for humanity in one way or another. Not going to Vietnam for example, cost his world champions title and three years of not being allowed to box. Yet, he followed his own convictions. Later on he went on to help the American administration to save 16 Americans from Iraq. But mostly as Muhammad Ali Center at Louisville Kentucky quote Ali has donated his life to humanity more than to any special race or class or religion.

This attitude is now demonstrated during the twin-attack in Norway. OK, Hilary and Obama might have written some comforting words at the Norwegian Embassy in USA. But it's Muhammad Ali's letter that has touched, not only Norwegians, but people all over the world.

tirsdag 26. juli 2011

When mass murderers become spin doctors

One year after 9.11 Anders Behring Breivik, has told the police that he started on the process he fulfilled this weekend. During the last nine years he has meticulously been planning mass murder. In his now far spread manifest he explains how Norwegian investigative journalists and their yearly conference could be a natural soft target with its annual 600 participants.

On Friday the building I was working in shook from the explosion, and ever since I have been following the media coverage as closely as I can. Like my fellow citizens I have spent my time talking with family members, and sought and been given comfort by friends, while we have switched between channels as BBC, CNN and the Norwegian news channels. I guess the global media are quite satisfied with their own coverage.

To keep some sense of reality it has been necessary to take walks with friends in down town Oslo, and to look at the killer’s destruction. What I saw there was of course heart breaking, but it was not at all comparable with the pictures I got in my own living room. All right, it is of course huge destructions, but NOT total destruction. Take for example a nearby shopping mall, one of the more prominent we have in Oslo, Glasmagasinet - some windows were broken, but absolutely not all, as I imagined in my head after watching moving images which only showed destructions. At Youngstorget, where the old opera house used to be, very much is destroyed, but not at all total destruction, as I had thought. This fact gave me comfort as walking around. When watching the surveillance video from the minutes when the bomb took place outside VG (Link) one sees people running just as the bomb goes of at the other side of the house, but no one there is killed.

The Utøya massacre has such dimensions it's not even possible to begin to comprehend. There is no way I could even try to explain or understand. My heart goes out to all the affected.

What am I aiming for is to get a grasp on the media plan of this psychopathic person.

Obviously, he seeks to manipulate the global media, to maximize his sick ideology and what he sees as some kind of “faith”, some kind of belief. There in no faith that justifies such cowardly violence against innocent children and people. He simply is not worthy of having a so called ideology. In such mass murderers heads more important than death seem to be the manipulation of media. Success has nothing to do with survival. Success is how far their ´ideology´ can reach on a global scale. Either they choose to drop a bomb, or shoot running people in the backs, it should not be connected with ideology and faith. Rip them for the so called ´ideology´ and their actions stand clean.

Instead their actions remind me of the school bullies who always picked on the smallest girl in the schoolyard, as they knew she could not defend herself. Media however is more and more a world wide ever present commercial institution, where editorial principals are impossible to coordinate on a global span. The consequences are devastating. This weekend I have received phone messages from all over the world, from distant friends being concerned.

I am the first to agree that information in all its cruelty needs to reach viewers, and users (of online production) However, when the mass murderer is operating as a spin doctor, and we all are dancing to his tunes, the question to the worlds editors what to communicate, and not at least how much. Even though editors will almost always argue, that we, the audience have not seen what has been omitted, but they seem to forget that audience no longer stay tuned to only one channel. They look at all the media as one channel.

Considering the way young and totally innocent people have died, there should be more collaboration between the media in the way the propaganda is handled.

fredag 22. juli 2011

The danger of the VISUAL EVIDENCE!

The ´Murdoch-whale´ slid above waterfront, and just as sudden it showed it self, just as abrupt does it slips into the dark waters. At the same time there are thousands of small cases of media coverage that could be illuminated to generate daily discussions of media coverage’s. Cases that might seem insignificant to the metropolitans of the world, but which are just as good examples on the ongoing revolution of media coverage as the mysterious though overwhelming ´Murdoch-whale´.

One interesting question is the one of moving images. Moving images were once heavily produced, and continuously gave media organizations a headache concerning its endless need for resources. Now, moving images gush forth to meets its starry future as probably the most attractive medium of its all. The sociologist Thompson once mentioned how over world probably is going to be more influenced by ´visuality´. And as several scholars repeatedly have mentioned, media workers seem to confuse moving images with reality. As, for example as soon as something is ´live´ it is real. Although, several studies comparing the complexity of what is taking place in front of the cameras with the fragment of what the cameras actually were able to capture.

Recently an ongoing news story in Norway is illustrates the point.

The scene is a recent late night in front of the Parliament of Norway, situated in the middle of capital. At the Parliament two guards are placed to protect it. On their surveillance cameras they suddenly discover something unusual. Outside the Parliament, at the gateway a woman and a man have intercourse. At first it does not look ´that chocking´, as the woman does not provide much resistances. Even though there is something with the incident that make them call the police. Next the headline of our daily newspapers tells the chocking story of the guards at the Parliament that did not prevent the rape. In one way or another there is visual evidence that the woman was raped. Consequently the Editor in Chief for the online magazine ´The journalist´ is asking the tabloid news paper Dagbladet to explain the discrepancy between the big and screaming titles, as it seems as if the guards did not actually understand the seriousness of the situation. When the police arrived at the scene the woman was gone, and the rapist, a 15-year-old asylum seeker was caught.

As moving images, more easily accessed from wherever, with it core trait (at least among news workers) being capable of catching the ´truth´. And never ´truth´ was to be found in a simpler, and less expensive way. The problem is that moving images, not necessarily IS the truth. In the ongoing discussion of what we actually need journalists for, as raw material continuously seem to seek for a publisher, this is it.

Actually moving images as a medium is just like any other medium. It requires someone who is capable of interpreting it. Who meets the raw material with a sceptical distance, and is able to analyze it. It is a matter of credibility, not in what the viewer finally sees on television or Internet, but simply the credibility of news organization and its invisible production process.

onsdag 20. juli 2011

Murdoch-gate – the plot thickens!

A journalist is found dead at his home in London. Not long ago he used to work at the News of the World. One instantly assumes this might be suicide. If he just hadn't worked at the News of The World. Something is no longer rotten in Denmark. Something is rotten in UK. What is actually going on here?

There is an ongoing shift from hard news to soft news. When the previous Editor in Chief Brooks explains the production process in the news paper she once used to run as Editor in Chief, one absolutely does not believe her. I do not believe that she and other editors were not involved in the sewage drain system. Of course they were. Anyone with the slightest idea of how a news organization works, knows this very well: that journalists are cells of an organizational body, and if there's a risk of getting dragged into the non-paid blame belonging to an editor, they will inform their bosses thoroughly of any complications. Although most journalists of any news room is, in my opinion, far too loyal to the system, they will find ways to protect themselves from having to share the organizational responsibility the editors are paid to take.

So what is actually the problem? The problem is this: the journalist is the hand, the editor is the head. It is more likely the hand gets dirty than the head. Something the editor knows. If the editor doesn't want to work in a sewage system, he (in most cases) will call a plumber. If the system is the sewage, the editor needs to take on his (or in this single case: hers) shoulders. Politicians and their rules and laws opened the door for the Murdochian-media business a long time ago, business many honourable journalists have found jobs. But when someone,just like the small child in H.C. Andersens story about the naked king screams: The king is naked, the king is naked, neither the politicians will accept that they actually laid down the ground for tabloidizm of the sewage. Instead they turn towards what they call “the monster with no face”, and blame the monster called “Journalism”. Strangely the same ”monster” they so often have had to face when doing the slightest error with their elected power.

My point is that in the collaboration of power, the journalists might carry some blame, but of course not all of it, since the system itself needs to stand trial at Old Bailey. The journalists participate in the system. But if Murdochs and Brooks are allowed to run wild in at the same old exclusive power clubs of the British elite establishment, it will happen again. The monster without a face, Journalism, might be a monster, but more often than in this case, it is a more honourable than being credited for.

tirsdag 19. oktober 2010


Der kommer Lynch. Han luter litt fremover. Går mer stivt og mer bøyd enn det jeg hadde forventet. Ansiktet smiler og ikke smiler. Det er blekt i flombelysningen. Et øyeblikk står han foran det klappende publikumet på Cinemateket før han setter seg rolig. Det velkjente håret står rett opp og minner om en aldrende gutt fra 50-tallets west side story. En av Cinematekets "cinematikere" står lent inn mot veggen i mørket, og en tretti år yngre Lynch-lugg skinner. Slik sikkert Lynch lugg skinte under Memphis gatelykter på 50-tallet.

Menigheten som jeg traff foran cinemateket den kjølige natten for flere uker siden sitter stille og venter. Lynch venter han og. Intervjueren stotrer en introduksjon på dårlig engelsk og får ikke bedre språk i løpet av samtalen. Lynch har en tendens til å la stillheten svare for seg. Slik at det noen ganger blir det komisk og andre ganger bare stille. Han møter de nesegruse spørsmålene slik han trolig møtte spørsmål om Twin Peaks på høyden av sin karriere. Intervjueren får ingen hjelp. Alle fakta guttungen har samlet og funnet, blir tidvis møtte med - No, that is not right! Eller - No, no, no, no, uttrykt i en mild men tydelig korreksjon.

Jeg lytter. Ser hvordan de andre tilstedeværende lytter. Titter over på de to 15 åringene på raden foran, som jeg sto i køen med en tidlig morgen. For kunstens skyld. De stirrer ufravendt mot scenen. En jente på sete ved siden av, tegner foldete hender og skriver over med store bokstaver: Beautiful. Igjen og igjen kommer Lynch tilbake til dette ordet. Denne underlige kontrasten til stemningen i mange av filmene hans. Hele tiden mens han skildrer prosessen med å skape. Om hvordan film for ham begynte i et maleri. Hvordan fargene fikk liv og grep etter ham. Hvordan film er som musikk, ´moving images in time´. Og hvordan menneske har makt over denne prosessen, men ikke fruktene av den. Vi kan kontrollere våre handlinger, men ikke resultatene av den. En ung jente skal som en av dem siste i salen spørre Lynch om hva han synes om at akkurat han fikk verdens suksess. Det er så mange dyktige filmskapere, men han får suksess og mange andre fikk det ikke. Han smiler i fanget, og plukker opp en ektefølt ydmykhet fra gulvet. Ja, slik er det. Han vet ikke hvorfor. For det sannelig mange dyktige filmkunstnere i verden.

- Jeg har sett unge jenter ankomme Hollywood den ene dagen og være verdensstjerne den neste. Andre holder på et helt liv, og dør som åttiåringer uten å ha opplevd noen suksess. Menneske kontrollerer sine handlinger, men ikke resultatene av dem. Derfor må skapeelsesprosessen nytes. Kanskje er det bare den en sitter igjen med.

Et krøllehodet på annen rad sier han stadig får høre på filmskolen han går på at han må ´kill your darlings´. Hva synes du om det spør han Lynch. Lynch ser forvirret ut.

- Det begrepet har jeg aldri hørt! Hva betyr det?

En damelatter runger i salen. Hun ler så lenge at latteren smelter inn i Lynches forundring og blir værende.

- Ikke kill your darlings! Hvis du virkelig tror på noe, må du stå på ditt. Du må ikke finne på å kutte noe som du tror på, svarer Lynch gutten.

Armer rekkes opp i været som en bevegelig teknisk innretning i Lynches tidlige filmer. De veiver ivrige frem og tilbake. Han svarer med ord som munner ut i beautiful stillhet. En stillhet som salen synes å suge til seg. Klemme mot brystet. Noen ord og noen pauser blir hengende igjen i rommet. Som hans oppfordring til unge skapende mennesker om alltid å verne om sin egen stemme. Ikke la noen ta den i fra dem.

Når han reiser seg blir han stående en stund og se på salen. De første tre radene lå ute en hel natt for hans skyld. Som intervjueren sa i sin åpnet ”mange her var ikke en gang født da du laget dine første filmer.” ”Nå er de født” svarte Lynch da.

Oppglødd ble jeg, men ikke nyfrelst.

Du vil aldri se meg med Lynch-sleik frisyre, for eksempel.

Det er ikke ´beautiful´.

onsdag 13. oktober 2010


Åssen ere men Ola a? Tommy? Harru hørt noe fra´n?

Jeg sitter på toget fra Lillehammer og lytter til en snart to timers lang samtale. Privat samtale. Ennå ved Lillehammer var vi fremdeles ved ekteskapet. Men da ved Tangen var de skilt. På Hamar var innom et ekteskap nummer to og den skrekkelige ektemannen. (Kjerringa vakke noe bedre hu heller, etter hva jeg forto).

Teknologien som skulle frigjøre og gi oss tid til hverandre bringer riktignok med seg tid, men spørsmålet er hva vi mennesker ønsker å bruke den til. ´Friheten´ er ikke så mye en frihet, men like mye en binding til nye selvpålagte bindinger, forpliktelser og ansvar. Friheten til å velge gjør vi ikke sjelden om til selvpålagte forbindelser som overgår tid og rom. Nettverket vokser og med det kommer også løfter og ansvar ovenfor de en knytter seg til. Tilgjengeligheten slår knock out på valgfriheten. Derfor kan karen i komfortvognen sitte ufortrødent og spy ut tre ekteskap, med påfølgende drama over på sine med passasjerer. Det er han som velger. Og det er han som bestemmer. Enda han er i mindretall. Slikt endrer klart verdier. Det er ingen som nøler med å følge i karens spor. Uten å skamme seg, løfter den ene etter den andre på sin sosiale frakk og blotter seg for hverandre. Som om det er deres åpenbare rett til å ytre seg. Til alle steder, på alle måter. Og det er ingen som snur seg og spør: Er det ok med en nudist blant dere? Her inne i NSBs komforvogn?

Og er det ikke mobilen, er det SKYPEN (forresten nå er´ n i gang igjen) og er det ikke SKYPEN så er det IPoden eller I Paden.

I slike tider der det synes å være en menneskerett å dele sine tvangstanker med enhver forbipasserende, er det jeg ønsker meg et Lysthus. Et hvitmalt lysthus, med utsikt over havet. Et som solen kjærtegner gjennom grenenes skygger. Et som kan stenge alt annet ute, enn det som er i lyshuset. Det er en kan velge hvem en sitter med, med omhu. Jeg kan til og med tenke meg et Lysthus på toget til Lillehammer. For en en person. Og det er ikke meg.

tirsdag 12. oktober 2010

Til Valhall!

Gutta på skaugen, eller sagt med andre ord, mellom fjellene i Afghanistan, har fått pepper. Kåte krigsrop i en kåt krig, ga norske journalister lite empati for ´saken´. Selv om det er de færreste jeg snakker med som vet hva ´saken´ er lenger. Hva gjør gutta på skauen EGENTLIG i Afghanistan. 9/11? Og for å holde oss til retorikken, Bush´ kåte krigshyl er det få som husker. Det var noe med at Osama Bin Laden ble gjemt i en fjellhule, og holdt skjult av Taliban. For hvert eneste år som Taliban makter å skyte av unge gutter armer, bein, og andre lemmer, dess mindre vinner Taliban, en ytterligere seier. I diskusjonen om Irak og Afghanistan hører jeg folk si vidt forskjellige ting. Det er som om media har servert folk et koldtbord av forklaringer på hvorfor denne krigen er så nødvendig. Noen sier at FN har utkommandert Norge, og norske gutter ikke har valg. Andre, peker på av slemme terrorister angriper hele den vestlige verden. Andre igjen sier i løpet av diskusjoner at ´du må da skjønne at vesten er ute etter olje. Ikke vær så naiv´. Og enda andre er mer opptatt av ´stakkars gutter, de er så unge. Ingen kan forvente at de forstår´. Som bakteppe i slike diskusjoner ser jeg bruddstykker av en parade BBC viste på TV da jeg var i London. Unge skotske gutter i begynnelsen av tyve årene, trillende inn med beinstumper og uten armer. Andre lå i en seng og så vidt kunne røre armstumper, og bein, mens kjærester eller koner satt ved sengekanten og stirret mistroiske på dem. Reporterstemmen sa: Våre gutter som har vært i krig, har kommet hjem. Nå til en mye mye verre krig. En krig om å få det de har krav på. Det er en krig som kan vare hele livet.

Jeg husker det gikk kaldt nedover ryggen på meg. Og spørsmålene er mange: Hvor gjennomtenkt er egentlig denne strategien verden har arvet fra Bush? Hvor skal den ende? Hvordan håndterer vi arvegodset?

I en slik sammenheng blir det trist å se hvordan journalistikken håndterer spørsmålene. Der sitter Major Rune på Skavlan og forteller til den programlederen om hvor vondt det er å miste en ung norsk gutt. Det er derfor det er så viktig med intetsigende Viking-symboler. Men får han spørsmålet om ”Jammen, hva gjør dere der”? Hvorfor drar dere? Har dere gjort nok for å bevisstgjøre unge norske kvinner og menn om de naturlige følger av krig?

Og når skal en ung afghansk mor som har mistet sine barn fordi de sto i skuddlinjen til vestlige soldater inviteres til Skavlan?

Aldri tipper jeg. Ikke uten at hun kler seg ut som Gyda.