Tuesday. 7/12/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: HBO Max

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Friends reunited

It has become commonplace to describe Sex and the City as outdated and lacking diversity. But I am looking forward to the series revival, And Just Like That… (pictured), which is out this week. This is partly due to nostalgia for the precocious teenager that I was when the original series was released. There was something compelling about the first season in particular; it was witty and unlike anything I had seen on TV.

I related to the story of the friendship between Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda; it felt liberating, especially in the way that they discussed sex. For a young gay man like me there was something fascinating about the series and, while there are valid criticisms of the show, for me it connected on a deeper level. It made me feel that to be gay was acceptable.

Sometimes I find myself defending their first film (though I keep quiet about the sequel). It was a major blockbuster and, while it received a mixed critical reception, it’s worth noting that there were very few female-led or female-centric stories among the major Hollywood films of the time. The original series might show its age today but that’s an inevitable occurrence with old films, shows and books. It doesn’t undermine the fact that the series helped to break taboos and, most of all, that it was fun. Now the story continues with the characters in their fifties instead of their thirties. While there will be no Samantha this time – and we will miss her dearly – I say bring on And Just Like That…

Image: Getty Images

Justice / Myanmar

Trial and tribulation

Yesterday’s sentencing of Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi is the latest sign that the country’s military junta has no plans to compromise with those seeking a return to democracy. The 76-year-old was found guilty on charges of breaking coronavirus restrictions and inciting dissent. While her four-year sentence was commuted to two by the country's military leader, Aung San Suu Kyi (pictured) faces nearly a dozen charges, which have been condemned by much of the international community as politically motivated. The Nobel peace prize recipient was detained during a military coup in February, which sparked mass protests and led to a crackdown by the junta. “The military’s approach to changing people’s minds [about their desire for democracy] has been to shoot them,” Ronan Lee, a visiting scholar at Queen Mary University of London’s International State Crime Initiative, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “They’ve murdered more than 1,000 people since February. This will either be won by the military or those who want democracy. There will not be a compromise between the two.”

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Canada

Age-old debate

Deliberation about the minimum age at which a person should be allowed to vote in Canadian elections has been rekindled. But unlike most such discussions, which are typically led by governments or political parties, this time it’s being spearheaded by the young themselves – and they’re using the legal system to do it. A group of 13 teenagers from across the country have launched legal action against Canada’s federal government, seeking to lower the minimum voting age from 18 to 16. They argue that current law contravenes the country’s constitution, which enshrines the right of “all Canadians” to cast a ballot in national elections and does not explicitly state a minimum age.

Canada’s legal voting age was last amended in 1970 when it was lowered from 21 to 18. Opponents argue that 16 is too young for fully informed decisions to be made; advocates point out that the sooner a person participates in the democratic process, the better. Could this be a generational change?

Image: Kentaro Ito

F&B / Tokyo

Star for the course

Food lovers won’t be surprised to know that Tokyo has come out tops again for star ratings in this year’s Michelin Guide. Some 203 restaurants are given stars in the 15th edition of the guide to the Japanese capital, more than any other city. Hiroyuki Kanda won the new “mentor chef” award for dedication to training younger professionals. His restaurant, Kanda, has been a three-star fixture since the first guide was published in 2008; it’s an award that he says, “changed my life and the world around me”. Another new award, for good service, went to Mayuki Arai from Hommage, a French restaurant in Asakusa at which the staff wear kimonos. And 35 new restaurants were added to the more than 200 restaurants in the “Bib Gourmand” list, where good-value soba, oden, ramen and tonkatsu restaurants are to be found. These have been tough times for the hospitality industry but Japanese chefs are still giving it their all.

Image: Alamy

Art / Washington

Changing the landscape

A restoration of the Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden in Washington has been approved following a two-year clash between the institution and preservationists. The Hirshhorn (pictured) tapped Japanese architect and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto to reimagine the space in 2018 but some architecture historians oppose the renovation – which includes new open-air galleries, improved accessibility and the expansion of a central reflecting pool – because they fear it will alter the brutalist building’s original design. Although the museum agreed to some alterations to Sugimoto’s plans, such as reconstructing the partition wall with concrete to match the original design, critics believe that they don’t go far enough. The result “demonstrates that nationally significant works of landscape architecture, especially important modernist designs in the nation’s capital, continue to be held to a different standard,” says Charles A Birnbaum, head of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, a US non-profit. Sugimoto, meanwhile, sees his renovation as the opening of a new chapter. “This is a new job for me to negotiate with history,” he says.

Image: Clare MacKenzie

M24 / Meet the Writers

Timothy Ogene

Writer and poet Timothy Ogene has a catalogue of academic achievements from some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. He currently lectures at Harvard University. He tells Georgina Godwin about his second novel, Seesaw, which tells the story of a writer plucked from obscurity in Nigeria to attend an American writing programme.

Monocle Films / Friedrichshafen

Inside the airship industry

Airships, once tipped to be the future of flight, are now largely used as costly billboards that drift across cities or over major sporting events. We travelled to Friedrichshafen in Germany to take a peek inside one of the world’s few commercial operations and explore this niche area of aviation. Read more on the story in the November issue of Monocle magazine.

/

sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now

Loading...

/

15

15

Live

00:00 01:00