- Rhiannon Read
Sometimes images speak louder than words.
Updated: Apr 3, 2022
At the beginning of the week, I began absorbing the onslaught of updates and breaking news articles that appeared to be coming from every direction and at every time of the day. At such a volatile time in our history, there just seems so much to pay attention to, all important and all seemingly unprecedented. Not to mention, like many of you, I have been frantically managing the course of exam week, so keeping up with everything that has happened this past week has been exhausting and draining.
For those of you who have been living in a study coma, I have broken down some of the most surprising, interesting and important stories that made the headlines each day this week. So in a different take on our classic Sunday Summary here at the Maastricht Diplomat are five photos that summarise the events of the past week.
On Monday was the 94th Academy Awards. Despite the historic wins for Ariana DeBose who became the first openly queer Afro-Latina to win best-supporting actress for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Troy Kotsur who is the second deaf actor to win an Oscar for his role in Sian Heder’s Coda, all any of us can talk about is Will Smith’s shocking assault on Chris Rock. While presenting the award for Best Original Documentary, Chris Rock made a tasteless GI-Jane joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head from having alopecia. In a violent and astonishing response, Will Smith mounted the stage and slapped the comedian before returning to his seat to shout twice “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!”.
Later in the evening, Will Smith apologised to the academy in his acceptance speech for best actor in King Richard but it took him much longer to apologies to Chris Rock in a statement. He also hasn’t apologised to the three female hosts Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.
It’s unlikely he will lose his award if the likes of Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein still boast theirs but it will likely have a continued impact on his carer and also on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
On Tuesday, the British Museum was yet again in the news for all the wrong reasons. The Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) requested a 3D scan of a piece in the Parthenon marbles collection but was denied by the British Museum. The scan was desired not only to create replicas of this historic and cultural artefact but to help resolve the longstanding dispute between Athens and London over the patrimony of the Parthenon marbles. These classical treasures have been in the British Museum’s possession since 1816 after their removal by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman empire. The British Museum maintain they were acquired legally, while the Greek government have argued that the cultural artefacts were looted from the temple at a time when Greece was under occupation. For a museum that boasts the idea that museums exist to be the encyclopedias of the world, it seems completely hypocritical that they are denying the scan of a piece in the Parthenon marbles collection for education purposes.
If you are interested in this learning more about the longstanding disputes between museums and governments over the return of looted colonial art check out our podcast series on the Maastricht Diplomat: Abducted Art and Cultural Theft - available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music & Youtube.
On Wednesday, in a video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ignored Russia’s assurance to cut back its military crusade in northern Ukraine, stating “Ukrainians are not naive people”, “[they] have already learned during these 34 days of invasion and over the past eight years of the war in Donbas that only a concrete result can be trusted.” Despite the positive signals from the latest talks between Russia and Ukraine, for President Zelenskyy “they do not drown out the explosions of Russian shells”. “The shelling of our cities continues. Mariupol is blocked. Missile and airstrikes do not stop. This is the reality. These are the facts.” As Russian troops continue to withdraw from Kyiv and Chernihiv is it a sign of hope? Or merely a tactical rotation of misleading military play that is likely not going to end anytime soon.
On Thursday, social media was overwhelmed with debates over the banning of transgender athletes from competing on women and girls teams in schools and higher education institutions. This issue has been circulating the news for a while but it found a moment after Oklahoma and Arizona signed transgender sports bans into law, joining several other states. The governor of Arizona Doug Ducey also included a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for tans youth. Many of us opposed to this violation of human rights also find that these states are overlooking the real problem of funding, resources, pay and physical care when it comes to gender equality in sports.
On Friday, 53 protestors were arrested in Sri Lanka after mass protests against the worsening fuel and food shortages took place this week. It was also reported that five video journalists were arrested and tortured by police in the capital Colombo as the military and police were sent out on the streets. Today, in a bid to stop more protests and stop them from spreading to other parts of the country the government has issued a 36-hour curfew and blocked access to social media.
The media world is a frenzy of information and this is only a small insight into the many different issues and stories that are currently happening around the world. The crisis in Yemen, the girls in Afghanistan, BLM, the climate crisis, bride-trafficking and so many more are being left out for other stories seemingly more central to our lives. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming but it is important to listen to the many voices, stories and experiences that are being silenced or ignored in the media.