Connect with us

New Social Compact

Joker &the Pathology of Violence

Published

on

image: Warner Bros

JOKER, director Todd Phillips and renowned actor Joaquin Phoenix’s new take on an infamous comic book villain, will hit the big screen this weekend.  It has garnered prestigious awards (such as the Golden Lion), laudatory critic reviews & is expected to attract hordes of eager moviegoers.  However, JOKER has also inspired ominous think-pieces from publications such as The Atlantic and Vox.  Additionally, the US military and the NYPD have expressed concern that the film could inspire violence.

These detractors of JOKER are arguing that the film glorifies “incel violence” and is thus likely to inspire acts as incel violence.  This logic has been used ad nauseam to condemn everything from comic books, to video games, to martial arts, to Marilyn Manson to hip-hop.  No credible study has proven that art that portrays violence causes real-world violence.  Some people may point out that extreme outliers, like white-supremacist music, could cause violence.  However, it would be more logical to argue the opposite: people who compose and listen to white-supremacist music were already enmeshed in a violent ideology.  Likewise, genocidal propaganda tends not to focus on explicitly glorifying violence for violence’s sake, but in portraying groups of people as sub-human (Tutsis being compared to roaches, Jews being portrayed as greedy and treasonous, etc.).  It’s thus a process of long, gradated inculcation.  As Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels realized, there’s no reverse-Ludovico Technique that can magically turn people into killing machines by quickly showing them a two-hour film.

Now, it is true that a few violent criminals have cited works of art as inspiration for their actions.  This is statistically inevitable, but insignificant.  There are bound to be a few outliers who have bizarre interpretations on art, just as there are a few people who have been inspired to commit acts of terrorism based on personal interpretations of religion or politics.  It’s no more logical to suggest that we ban violent video games or art because of mass shootings than to suggest we ban Buddhism because of Aum Shinrikyo’s gas attack on the Tokyo subway, or that we should ban Irish patriotism because of the IRA.  Furthermore, some violent lunatics have been inspired by works of art, such as John Lennon’s killer citing Catcher in the Rye, that aren’t even violent in nature.  Clearly, the people who commit mass killings are incredibly unhinged individuals who are in a violent frame of mind, regardless of what media they consume.  Likewise, 99.99% of people who play FPS games or who watch slasher flicks aren’t going to go on a shooting rampage or create a torture dungeon in their basement.

To return things to JOKER itself, the film in no way “glorifies” violence.  For starters, half of the violence is inflicted on the main character (the “incel hero”); there are two scenes where The Joker gets jumped mercilessly and a third scene where he gets sucker-punched in the face.  The violent acts that The Joker himself commits are portrayed in a very gruesome manner (in one scene with The Joker and a neighbor of his, the violence isn’t even shown, but is merely implied).  When The Joker bashes someone’s head in or shoots someone point-blank, there are no crass jokes, inspirational music or voiceovers quoting The Art of War. The plotline doesn’t imply any justification for the killings.  When someone gets killed in the film, audience-goers don’t hoot and holler like they would in a screening of a zombie film or a Nazi-revenge flick like Inglorious Basterds.  Rather, there is an awkward pall of silence in the theater at the nihilistic spectacle.

JOKER makes it very clear that the title character’s violence is motivated by nothing but his utter insanity.  The Joker descends into a killing machine after being released from an asylum and after he stops taking seven different psych meds (which weren’t helping him much, anyway).  When being interviewed, he admits that he isn’t compelled by any ideology whatsoever.  Rather, The Joker literally views the act of killing as a joke. 

Nor does The Joker gain any tangible reward for his violence; he gets fired from his job, arrested, hit by an ambulance and committed to an asylum as a direct result of his actions. Joaquin Phoenix’s character gets a thrill from the media coverage that his killings elicit (and a standing ovation from fellow thugs in the film’s penultimate scene), but that not’s a real reward, but rather a feeling that many real-life killers in fact get when they are portrayed in the news.  For instance, the as-yet unidentified Zodiac Killer literally played games with Bay Area news outlets, sending them letters that boasted about his kills, contained cryptic puzzles and threatened to blow up a school bus if he didn’t receive even more media attention.  Many other serial killers who were apprehended were found to have hoarded newspaper clippings that documented their crimes.  Similarly, coverage of a mass shooting often inspires “copycat mass shootings”.  The takeaway from this is that the media should be careful about inadvertently turning stories about mass shootings and terror attacks into personal biographies of the killer.  When covering these kinds of attacks, some news outlets, like The Young Turks and The David Pakman Show, deliberately choose to blur the killers’ faces and avoid naming them, so as not to give the killers the attention that they wanted to garner and to avoid inspiring other violently-deranged individuals who crave attention.

The fact that JOKER doesn’t merely portray the villain as an Evil-Incarnate caricature doesn’t mean that it is therefore glorifying violence.  The audience is meant to sympathize with The Joker when he get jumped without warning or when he talks about the crippling depression that he has felt for literally his entire life.  There are scenes showing The Joker comforting his mother and entertaining sick children.  The mere fact that The Joker is portrayed as a full human being, good traits and bad traits, doesn’t mean the film is justifying how he releases his violent rage.  No human is evil 100% of the time: there is no villain who tortures hamsters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It is only by studying the causes of violent criminals’ various motivations that we can ever hope to ebb the tide of violence.  Most violent criminals have suffered from childhood abuse, childhood poverty, a missing parental figure, bullying and/or mental illness (The Joker had to deal with all five of these traumas).  By empathizing with these plights, we can create programs (drug treatment programs, stamping out bullying in school, removing children from abusive households, etc.) that can reduce violent crime.

It’s not comfortable to acknowledge that history’s most evil people had humanity or that societal norms (like persecuting people, tolerating child abuse or underfunding mental illness and addiction treatment programs) can fuel violence.  It’s evident that Todd Phillips, through his direction and screenplay, and Joaquin Phoenix, through his tortured portrayal of The Joker, meant to give us a glimpse into the mind of a demented killer, not so we can sympathize with the protagonist’s brutal violence, but so we can sympathize with the myriad factors that drove the protagonist to criminal insanity.  The nearly uniform media portrayals of mentally-ill individuals as Pure Evil only serves to misinform the public and to scare those suffering from mental disorders from seeking help.  Hopefully, the discussions being generated by JOKER will encourage people to learn more about complex diseases like schizophrenia and to be more proactive in reaching out to loved ones who are displaying signs of mental anguish.

Russell Whitehouse is Executive Editor at IntPolicyDigest. He’s also a freelance social media manager/producer, 2016 Iowa Caucus volunteer and a policy essayist.

Continue Reading
Comments

New Social Compact

From Wall-Less Design to Robotics Training: Meet the 16 Schools Defining the Future of Education

MD Staff

Published

on

The World Economic Forum identified 16 Schools of the Future – defined as schools, school systems and programmes – that are playing a critical role in preparing the global citizens and workforces of the future. Located in five continents as well as in developing and developed economies, and collectively reaching nearly 2.5 million children, these schools represent public-private collaborations to improve education systems with strategies including aligning curricula with future skills needs, training teachers in the latest industry practices and providing hands-on education experiences for students.

A new white paper, Schools of the Future: Defining New Models of Education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, published today, outlines a framework to define quality education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Education 4.0 – and shares key features from innovative education models. In parallel, the Forum is launching the Education 4.0 initiative to mobilize multistakeholder collaborations to accelerate the scaling up of best practices and enable system-level transformation in education.

Defining Education 4.0

Through a consultative process with educators, policy-makers, business leaders, EdTech developers and experts, the World Economic Forum has proposed eight shifts within education content and experiences to define quality education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The framework serves as an important first step in setting the direction of innovation in education and reviving it as a means to improved social mobility and inclusion.

According to the report, innovation-driven economies and increasingly interconnected and interdependent societies demand that children develop four key skill sets: global citizenship, innovation and creativity, technology and interpersonal skills. Fostering these skills will require a shift towards radical new approaches to learning that are personalized and self-paced, accessible and inclusive, problem-based and collaborative as well as lifelong and student-driven.

Schools of the Future

The Green School (Indonesia): This school has a wall-less, open-air design that enables students to be directly connected to the surrounding nature. The school’s physical layout supports its curricular focus on sustainability and real-world application. For example, students at the Green School have designed and built a usable bamboo bridge over a river and a new sustainable hydropower system for the school. Today the school uses just 10% of the energy consumed by other schools.

The Kakuma Project, Innovation Lab Schools (Kenya): Although currently in the process of building a physical school for this programme, the Kakuma project has already created a movement of 375 educators throughout 75 countries who provide lessons to children at the Kakuma Refugee camp via Skype. A foldable solar panel is used to ensure that the camp has a sustainable source of energy to support distance learning. The programme also trains local teachers in the implementation of a new curriculum based on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Knowledge Society (Canada): This after school programme was designed to mirror the learning and working environments of major technology companies, exposing students to the most cutting-edge innovations. The programme partners with businesses to enable their students to consult private-sector leaders about real challenges within the company. By the end of the programme, every student has developed their own disruptive company.

Kabakoo Academies (Mali): Kabakoo works closely with local businesses to help their students identify issues within the community that require innovative and urgent action, helping them to rapidly develop market-ready prototypes through a sustainability lens. For example, since the programme’s launch in 2018 students have designed and implemented a system for monitoring the air quality in Bamako, which includes installing air monitors throughout the city and using an online platform to track trends.

TEKY STEAM (Viet Nam): This network of labs in Viet Nam offers children ages 6-18 courses in technology, including programming, 3D printing, robotics and virtual reality. It is the first of its kind in Viet Nam and students have already won a number of national and international competitions in coding, robotics and other STEM fields.

Accelerated Work Achievement and Readiness Programme (Indonesia): This programme collaborates with more than 65 businesses in the country to provide workplace readiness opportunities for students, starting at high school age. The programme’s pilot trained more than 4,000 students, 98% of which were placed in on-the-job training and one-half of whom are already employed.

iEARN (Spain): With headquarters based in Spain, iEARN is a global platform for exchange between more than 2 million children worldwide. Children collaborate in global teams on projects promoting global citizenship through iEARN’s project-based learning framework and digital platform, which connects children in classrooms in various parts of the world.

South Tapiola High School (Finland): This school focuses on fostering independent thinking, while also helping students develop the interpersonal skills needed for the future. Each student goes through the School’s Young Entrepreneurship Programme, in which students collaborate in groups over the course of a year to design and create their own businesses.

Pratham’s Hybrid Learning Programme (India): There are no teachers in this programme, which involves more than 90,000 children in India. Instead, local volunteers act as facilitators for entirely student-led learning. Pratham provides a bank of project ideas related to health, the arts, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, and student groups choose which projects to pursue.

Anji Play (China): This curriculum – used throughout one school district in China – focuses on tapping into children’s natural curiosity and allowing them to learn entirely through play. Teachers create an environment for children to self-direct play at their own pace, conduct observations of the children’s interactions and guide reflection discussions after play experiences.

Prospect Schools (USA): This network of schools was designed with a focus on inclusion. Each class is designed to be diverse and inclusive, ensuring a balance of student race and ethnicity, fluency in English, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. The school hires teachers to mirror the diversity of their student body and teachers attend regular equality and inclusion trainings throughout the year.

Tallahassee Community College, Digital Rail Project (USA): Learning in this programme takes place in 8-metre long trailers. These are fully equipped with the latest technologies, including robotics, 3D printing and virtual reality, and deliver STEM learning to Tallahassee’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Children receive digital skills passports, which allow them to connect the skills learned in any given lesson with future careers.

Innova Schools (Peru): This network of schools in Peru and Mexico uses a blended learning model to tailor education for each student. Approximately 70% of student learning takes place through collaborative projects, while the rest is dedicated to independent education via online platforms. The school’s physical spaces were designed to support new approaches to learning and include features such as movable walls.

British School Muscat (Oman): This school’s curriculum focuses on discovery learning, an approach where multiple subjects are integrated into collaborative projects focused on the experience rather than the final product or answer. This interdisciplinary approach enables students to draw interlinkages between various content areas and focus on the specific skills to apply that content to the real world. The school is collaborating with the Government of Oman to train teachers throughout the country in this methodology.

Skills Builder Partnership (United Kingdom): This partnership of more than 700 organizations and schools is built around a co-designed framework for fostering the skills of the future to ensure alignment in the approaches used to foster those skills at school and in the workplace. Teachers in 12 countries are currently using the Skills Builder framework and similar approaches to foster those future skills. Each student in the partnership participates in work-based education experiences in which private-sector partners also employ the same skills framework.

Skilling for Sustainable Tourism (Ecuador): This programme engages Ecuador’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Tourism, tourism industry leaders and local schools to design education that directly contributes to shaping the future of the sustainable tourism industry, a sector that employs a high number of youth. A steering committee of private-sector leaders supports alignment between the programme’s curricula and future employment trends.

Activating Education 4.0

Systems-level change is needed to realize Education 4.0 for all children. There are more than 260 million children out of school today, and an additional 617 million children in school, but not learning adequately. Even those enrolled in relatively well-performing education systems are often missing the core tenets of future-ready education. Without urgent action to address these gaps, more than 1.5 billion children could be left unprepared to fulfill their potential by 2030, posing risks for future productivity and equality. The Schools of the Future can serve as inspiration for leapfrogging to the education of the future for those children who lack access to schooling, and as a vision for changing content and experiences for children currently enrolled in schools, system-level change is needed to realize Education 4.0 for all students.

To facilitate the transition to the education of the future, the World Economic Forum is launching the Education 4.0 initiative as one of five Forum-led flagship initiatives of the Reskilling Revolution platform, which aims to provide better jobs, education and skills to 1 billion people by 2030. The initiative invites education ministers, finance ministers and chief executive officers from business who are champions of education as well as other stakeholders to join the Forum platform to define and implement a holistic action agenda to realize Education 4.0.

“There is clear consensus that education systems must be updated to ensure children become productive, innovative and civic-minded members of society. Educators, education and finance ministries, and private-sector leaders have a moral and economic responsibility to co-create and implement new models to ensure that all children are prepared for the future. This is why the World Economic Forum is launching the Education 4.0 initiative and developing a community of leading champions for mobilizing change on this agenda,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society and Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

The initiative aims to mobilize key stakeholders in transitioning to Education 4.0 and reaching 100 million children and teachers by designing and implementing the schools of the future; empowering teachers to lead the education transformation; codifying and scaling up best practices through policy and increasing connectivity between schools and school systems for global best practice exchange.

“Education 4.0 and the Schools of the Future provide great guiding principles for creating learning environments that support children’s future needs. Teachers are the key to unlocking this new type of learning and require targeted support from public- and private-sector leaders to make this vision a reality”, said Andria Zafirakou, Teacher, Arts and Textile, Alperton Community School, 2018 Global Teacher Prize Winner.

Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society

The Schools of the Future Report and the Education 4.0 initiative are part of the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society. The platform provides the opportunity to advance prosperous, inclusive and equitable economies and societies. It focuses on co-creating a new vision in three interconnected areas: growth and competitiveness; education, skills and work; and equality and inclusion. Working together, stakeholders deepen their understanding of complex issues, shape new models and standards and drive scalable, collaborative action for systemic change.

More than 100 of the world’s leading companies and 100 international, civil society and academic organizations use the platform to promote new approaches to competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution economy. They also deploy education and skills for tomorrow’s workforce, are creating a pro-worker and pro-business agenda for jobs, and are looking to integrate equality and inclusion into the new economy.

Continue Reading

New Social Compact

Understanding the gender pay gap: Definition and causes

MD Staff

Published

on

Although the equal pay for equal work principle was already introduced in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the so-called gender pay gap stubbornly persists with only marginal improvements being achieved over the last ten years.

The European Parliament has consistently called for more action to narrow the gap and is bringing up the issue again in a plenary debate on Monday 13 January.

What is the gender pay gap? And how is it calculated?

The gender pay gap is the difference in average gross hourly earnings between women and men. It is based on salaries paid directly to employees before income tax and social security contributions are deducted. Only companies of ten or more employees are taken into account in the calculations.

Calculated this way, the gender pay gap does not take into account all the different factors that may play a role, for example education, hours worked, type of job, career breaks or part-time work. But it does show that across the EU women generally earn less than men.

The gender wage gap in the EU

Across the EU, the pay gap differs widely, being the highest in Estonia (25.6%), the Czech Republic (21.1%), Germany (21%), UK (20.8%), Austria (19.9%) and Slovakia (19.8%) in 2017. The lowest numbers can be found in Slovenia (8%), Poland (7.2%), Belgium (6%), Italy and Luxembourg (5% each) and Romania (3.5%).

Equal pay is regulated by an EU directive but the European Parliament has repeatedly asked for its revision and for further measures. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission has announced that they will be working on a new European gender strategy and binding pay transparency measures.

Why is there a gender pay gap?

Interpreting the numbers is not as simple as it seems, as a smaller gender pay gap in a specific country does not necessarily mean more gender equality. In some EU countries lower pay gaps tend to be women having fewer paid jobs. High gaps tend to be related to a high proportion of women working part time or being concentrated in a restricted number of professions.

On average, women do more hours of unpaid work (caring for children or doing housework) and men more hours of paid work: only 8.7% of men in the EU work part-time, while almost a third of women across the EU (31.3%) do so. In total, women have more work hours per week than men do.

So, women do not only earn less per hour, but they also do fewer hours of paid work and fewer women are employed in the workforce than men. All these factors combined bring the difference in overall earnings between men and women to almost 40% (for 2014).

Women are also much more likely to be the ones who have career breaks and some of their career choices are influenced by care and family responsibilities.

About 30% of the total gender pay gap can be explained by an overrepresentation of women in relatively low-paying sectors such as care, sales or education. There are still jobs such as in the science, technology and engineering sectors where the proportion of male employees is very high (with more than 80%).

Women also hold fewer executive positions: less than 6.9% of top companies’ CEOs are women. Eurostat data show that if we look at the gap in different occupations, female managers are at the greatest disadvantage: they earn 23% less per hour than male managers.

But women also still face pure discrimination in the workplace, such as being paid less than male colleagues working within the same occupational categories or being demoted aſter returning from maternity leave.

Benefits of closing the gap

What can be seen also is that the gender pay gap is widening with age – along the career and alongside increasing family demands – whilst it is rather low when women enter the labour market. With less money to save and invest, these gaps accumulate and women are consequently at a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion at an older age (the gender pension gap was about 36% in 2017).

Equal pay is not just a matter of justice, but would also boost the economy as women would get more to spend more. This would increase the tax base and would relieve some of the burden on welfare systems. Assessments show that a 1% reduction in reduction in the gender pay gap would result in an increase in the gross domestic product of 0.1%.

Continue Reading

New Social Compact

Presidents, Pharaohs and Prophets

Naseem Javed

Published

on

Over millennia national leadership managed its population on basic divides: Soldiers to just follow orders, workers to just get soldiers ready to march and artists just to make memorabilia of their glory. The rest of the citizenry was irrelevant as crash-test-dummies of the periods. Very slowly, slide your hands, on engraved marble slabs scattered in ancient ruins in faraway lands of forgotten history but when you let your fingers feel the crevasses of each letter of glory you may still hear the faint howling and last minute cries of mob-populace just before the disappearance of that civilization. At that very moment, if ever, please do ask ‘what was just not enough’ ‘what were they craving, so terminally’

Just like today, has our civilization finally figured out how to advance or it’s already peaked? Obviously, for the last 100 years it seems we have trapped ourselves in a downward spiral on figuring out our real purpose?  Let the historians ask such questions and let’s deal with the most cherish-able ‘now moment’ or possibly the last moments. Last week on the conflict between USA and Iran and possible eve of WWIII…ElyodRj tweeted; sponsored by Nintendo and be known as WWiii

Easily proven today, lack of national grassroots prosperity within any nation are mainly due to economic-crisis and open manifestation of lingering mental-crisis inside that country.

Massive depression and mental health issues creating fog of chaos and uncertainty on economic performance. Once mighty Western economies are now becoming regular case-studies for pending fiscal collapse. When top leaderships entangle in crisis of sorts, the middle leadership starts drowning in confusion, depression and stalemates expanding the sufferings to limitless chaos creating nasty vicious circles. The way down bottom herds of real tax payers always ready to face the periodical collapses. Will such layers of landscape ever create grassroots prosperity? Why we never created armies of critical thinkers to challenge our surrounding thoughts and fix our OWN problems, why we repressed emotional intelligence and only used diversity and tolerance issues on negative spectrums?

Critical Thinking via Creative Problem-Solving

How different are we from the times of the Pharaoh? Our soldiers only trained to follow orders no matter how repeated or for how long they hit the same walls, educational faculties to train executives to follow corporate orders no matter what the results, performance or outcries on the streets, why silence is rewarded as competency, why out box thinking is considered dangerous to corporate hierarchy, while the rest are only the libertarians …treated as the irrelevant stuff or crash-test-dummies of our tik-tok times.

How different are we from the times of the Prophets? As humans we are still struggling with the discoveries of critical thinking, limitless creativity, emotional intelligence, tolerance, diversity and peace. We entrapped as subservient to mighty layers of Presidents of sorts, Pharaohs of empires and fake Prophets of doom-days scenarios. Suddenly, tumbling in our own accidental paths at least these millennia, somehow, we are now discovering lifelong-learning and critical-thinking as a wake-up call for survival. Mankind knows what the ancient ruins look like. We may be finally discovering that our freedom is not just the overwhelming blind notion of freedom of speech rather the freedom of our mind, systematically suppressed to follow the century old divides now facing new digital-divides, mental-divides and skills-divides and most importantly enlighten-divides… somehow, we are headed to open skies. 

Did anyone see a new star in the sky?

National mobilization of entrepreneurialism on platform economy will dramatically uplift flat-liner-economy nations because technology now provides free wings and only a matter time to create a new level understanding on grassroots prosperity issues where most leadership have been unsuccessful.

The challenge is to activate the bold dialogue and break the deep lingering silence. Let the soldiers deal with the truth, let the workers deal with realities and self-optimization and let the glorification reserved for uplifting cause of humanity as now is the time when national leadership either transform rapidly by contributing to humanity or start engraving their dictum on marbles of choice.

Will Libertarians still be irrelevant for not getting their own house in order?

What do you think? 

Continue Reading

Latest

Newsdesk33 mins ago

Implementing peace deal only path for stabilization in Mali

Implementation of the 2015 peace agreement in Mali provides the only pathway for stabilization there, the head of UN peacekeeping told the Security Council on Wednesday.  Jean-Pierre Lacroix updated ambassadors...

Tech News3 hours ago

AIIB Investing to Address the Digital Divide in Asia

With four billion people globally still unconnected, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is seeking to address the growing digital...

Europe5 hours ago

UK-US relations: Challenges ahead

The past few days have been witness, to some important statements made in the context of the Joint Comprehensive Program...

Reports7 hours ago

4IR Tech Can Fast Track 70% of Sustainable Development Goals

2030 is the “Decade of Delivery” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – yet the gap between where we are,...

Environment9 hours ago

Biodiversity loss: what is causing it and why is it a concern?

Biodiversity, or the variety of all living things on our planet, has been declining at an alarming rate in recent...

Europe11 hours ago

Why Warsaw denies historical facts about World War II

The painful and conflicting reaction on the part of Warsaw following President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Poland bears partial responsibility...

Tourism14 hours ago

UNWTO successfully completes tourism marketing project for Yunnan Province, China

A delegation from UNWTO visited Kunming to deliver a training seminar on implementing the International Tourism Marketing Strategy designed for...

Trending