Sunday, 16 July 2017

Doctor Who?!?!?

Four hours ago, the announcement was made - the 13th Doctor, Peter Capaldi's successor, the next in a long line of incredible Doctors would be........................

Jodie Whittaker?

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I like Jodie Whittaker. I liked her in "Broadchurch". I liked her in "St Trinian's". I liked "Tess of the D'Urbervilles".

I am not sure I like her for this part.

I know, I know, if I DO like her for the part, I am a feminazi who deserves to be flogged, and if I DON'T my feminist instincts tell me I am being a regressive arsehole. Unfortunately, I can't help it.

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I need to get something straight first. I LOVE DOCTOR WHO.

No, see, I don't think you get it - I LOVE Doctor Who. If I hadn't had Doctor Who when I was growing up, I don't think I'd be alive right now to write this - it stopped me from killing myself more than once. It got me through some of my lowest points, and made some of my highest points even better. When in doubt, I use a Tennant quote or recite Eleven's speeches. Whenever I see Jelly Babys my brain fizzles at me, and whenever I see a recorder I want to burn it because it reminds me of primary school playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb", but I am stopped from setting them on fire by the image of Patrick Troughton's cheeky smile. Eccleston reminds me of my Dad, and Peter Davidson was a GREAT follow up to Tom Baker, fight me! Alas, Peter Capaldi was not my favourite Doctor, and I do not blame that on him in any way. I believe the show didn't know how to walk the line between the hayday of the old Doctors, which Capaldi harkened back to, and the new Who, which they usually placated terribly with things like Sonic Sunglasses and having machines speak in... EMOJI? Did I really sit through that? Yes. Yes I did. Because I love this show, and I'll probably watch even if it gets to "Lost" levels of clusterfuck.

So, I'm apprehensive; I'm worried, because I have a hunch that Jodie Whittaker wasn't hired at the right time, or for the right reasons. Because NOW, even if she's the best Doctor we've ever had, it won't matter - because she's a woman.

Let me explain: the very first thing that happened when it was announced:

Jodie Whittaker

If you have to immediately tell people not to worry just because you're a woman, there is a problem. There is a problem with our society as a whole, a systemic problem, a far-reaching problem. It is slowly getting better, but is still not there yet. Watch the comment sections of the announcements and you'll find it divided evenly between people decrying her because she is a woman, and praising her because she's a woman.

THAT IS NOT THE BLOODY POINT. It shouldn't MATTER that's she's a woman, just like it didn't matter that Matt Smith was "too young" or that Peter Capaldi was "too old" - the ONLY thing that matters is whether she is good enough or not. And we cannot know that yet, because we haven't seen her.

People thought Heath Ledger was terrible casting for the Joker and he turned out one of the best performances by any actor in recent memory, not just of a Batman villain, but any villain.

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This is the face of a serial killer. 

People thought Johnny Depp would be a good Willy Wonka until we watched it and realised he was a perpetually high, semi-adolescent, terrifying psychopath.

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This is the face of a serial killer.

So she could be amazing, and she could be terrible, but either way it doesn't matter, because all anyone will be talking about is her gender:
"She was fine, for a woman." 
"She was terrible, it's because she's a woman." 
"She was great, but she has a vagina, so it's automatically filed under a different category."

That's not how it should be - the casting of the Doctor shouldn't be reduced to tokenism. Of course, even if that's not what they intended, even if they auditioned everyone possible for the part and Jodie was the best possible option, that is all it is going to be seen as, and that is a shame. Because it detracts from what could potentially be great (or terrible) on its own merit, by turning it into a discussion on progressiveness - the same would have happened if they'd hired a black person - the discussion wouldn't be about the performance, it would be about the colour of their skin. 

But here's the thing. I'm running under the assumption that she was hired because she was the best person for the job, and she's going to blow us all away with her awesomeness and lack of a sonic handbag *cough* sunglasses *cough*. But even if I run under the assumption that she was a token hire (again, I don't believe she was, just roll with it) maybe we needed a token  hire to get there in the first place? It's still a step forward in the 21st century mentality as a whole; we shouldn't have to celebrate gay people being able to get married because it should have happened a long time ago, but that's where we are and that's a step we have to go through. And if Doctor Who keeps going forever and ever then it will become the new normal to includes all types of people in the casting, and no-one will care whether or not someone has a penis, or is slightly darker than the previous incarnation, because it's just part of the natural makeup of the show.

I mean look at politicians- some places have a compulsory female quota, and some people argue that you're not always getting the "best person for the job" because sometimes there will be more males than females that will be good at that job. However, if you don't have compulsory quotas and ensure there are women in those jobs then men will always by default end up in those roles because "society". Then women don't get represented properly, so even if the female is a "less good" option in some way (less experience, etc) she still needs to be given that role for political correctness for the good of society as a whole. So female doctor = societal improvement, regardless of how good she is.

But I personally think she was hired because she's going to be great.

She's immediately at a distinct disadvantage, because if she's not as good as or better than Peter Capaldi, people will rip her to shreds, just for having a vagina.

It's not fair. 

It's not right.

I am apprehensive.

As an aside, I am also mildly irritated by the fact that Jodie was invited to audition by Chris Chibnall, who worked with her on Broadchurch, and is now writing Doctor Who. Because AGAIN, even if she was the best possible hire, it now at least LOOKS like he hired her because he'd worked with her before.

Please bear in mind, NONE of this is written to slight Jodie, or Chris or Doctor Who, but just to get some of my concerns out in the air. 

Who knows - the next season of Doctor Who could blow the previous out of the water. Of course, if it doesn't, I'm still going to watch it, until there's a Flash Sideways Timeline where the plane never crashed on the island and there's a weird church scene at the end where they are now dead and all of them deem their time on the island in the OG timeline to be the most important time of theirs lives so that they may move on and... no... hang on... that's "Lost". 

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I love Doctor Who. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I could breathe, but I've wanted to write specifically for TV ever since I started watching Doctor Who. It is my raison d'ĂȘtre. It is ingrained in my soul. Please, please, please don't ruin it guys. Don't ruin it with your "sexism" or your "progressive PC attitudes" or with bad writing. Please? 

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No, I'll... write a strongly worded letter of complaint.

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Urgh, fine, all I'll really do is cry, alone in my room, and drink a lot of alcohol. 

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Saturday, 3 June 2017

Never Forget

Okay, so let me tell you about today. This morning, I can't really remember why, or what triggered it, I decided I wanted to know more about 9/11. Sadly, because it happened just at the point where I don't really remember it, I've always been aware of its existence but never really known the full scope of it.

 So today, I spent the morning googling the whole thing - I read up on the planes, the rescue operations and President Bush. I watched news coverage of the whole day. I watched the movie United 93, about the fourth plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania when the passengers tried to take it back from the hijackers. I watched a documentary called Voices From Inside the Towers all about the victims who called 911, called their loved ones, called their friends and families in the moments before they died.

 In total, the four attacks killed 2,996 people and injured 6,000 more, and caused billions of dollars of damage, as well as causing immense terror across not only America but the world. It was so upsetting to read about something that had always been in my subconscious, something I had always been aware of but never fully understood.

 Up until today, the most prevalent idea of 9/11, to me, had always come in the form of conspiracy theories, "Bush did 9/11" being the line that immediately comes to mind. The other major theory is that he did not order the attack, but that he let it happen. The other notable phrase that I recall is, "Jet fuel can't melt steel beams" which later became a meme. While I do not believe any of these conspiracy theories to hold any credibility, they are the main recollection of the attacks that I have. Of being in school, quite young, and hearing those phrases. There was never any doubt in my mind that the stories weren't true, but I also had no real knowledge of what was.

So today I researched it, and tried to grapple with the idea of seeing something so horrific unfold in front of you.

I came away with something that horrified me more that I thought possible, considering the subject matter.

Everyone old enough to remember the September 11 attacks remembers exactly where they were. They can tell you exactly what they were doing when they found out. When I spoke to my mum, she told me she was pregnant with my sister, and I was two and a half, and we had been out to the shop and walked home. When I asked my Grandma, she said she had been in Australia with my Aunt, and that she'd flown home to England barely a day later. She also mentioned that something of a similar reaction was had in her lifetime to the assassination of JFK. She vividly remembers being in class and everyone was talking about it.

 Anyway, all of this got me thinking, and something nasty struck me - what if, heaven forbid, something equally terrible happens in the future, in my lifetime. Something of that magnitude, that immense horror. Will it be burned into our collective consciousness forever, constantly reminding us all of our own mortality, OR, due to the uprise of media coverage worldwide in recent years, and the constant reminders of our own mortality in the form of other terrorist attacks and mass shootings, will it simply be another attack that will rise up fleetingly, then fade away.

9/11 was so terrifying because it was so unprecedented, so unexpected. Nowadays, even if a particular attack seemingly comes out of nowhere, within minutes, news outlets have weeks of back information about the perpetrators and the incident itself. And even then, it seems as though no attack comes completely unexpected anymore - we are always on high alert for the latest threat - be it North Korea, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Right Wing Nut-Jobs, Left-Wing-Nut-Jobs, or anything in between, there is always something the news reminds us could be right around the corner.

 Was it 9/11 that paved the way for this constant barrage of fear, or was it just an intensified version of a news system that was already giving out so much information we latched on to one particularly horrible event as the focal point, the attack that shook us all to our cores.

 Because the Paris Attacks were awful. The Manchester Arena Attack was terrible. Aleppo was heart-wrenchingly devastating. The attack on London Parliament was horrid. The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood attack was immensely upsetting. The multiple ancient villages across the Middle East razed to the ground in an attempt by ISIS to stamp out history and culture is a travesty.

 But none of these things is covered as much, or for as long, or as reverently, as 9/11 - and that is perfectly understandable from a western perspective; it was such a shock for something to go so wrong, so fast, on such a huge scale, in somewhere like New York - somewhere that was supposed to be a stronghold of American life, and therefore modern Western civilization. What I want to know is, are we becoming dessensetised to such terrible things? Or are they just so frequently broadcasted now that if we did spend enough time on each one, it would consume our lives completely?

What if we had spent an entire day watching coverage of Aleppo on every channel, unable to turn on a screen or pick up a paper without it staring us directly in the face? Would we feel as strongly? Would we make more of an effort to help? We know that people of these cultures are humans, just as we are, but we also notice the fact that their languages, religions, culture and even skin colour is different, and I wonder how much impact that has on our ability to empathise with them. How much of their differences we pay attention to when the news arrive on our screens...What percentage of the Western population would write off the destruction, simply because of the colour of the victims skin, or the fact that they are Muslims? What percentage of us would rush in to help if only they were aware of exactly what was going on? What percentage of us are biased by the media?

This led me to a slightly alarming conclusion, one that holds no answer and only opens up avenues for more questions:


“The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.”


 That's a quote by Mark Twain on the curse of our human intellect: a tiger, despite killing and eating its prey, is not committing an evil act, because it does not know the difference between right and wrong. What makes an action evil at its core, is that it is known to be bad, and is done anyway, just like these attacks. So is it more human to rush to the aid of those that are hurt, as any pack of animals would do? Or is it more human, more distinct in nature, to act in a course of evil? 

I don't know. All I know is, today I learned about something incredibly important, and terrible, and I highly recommend that everyone do the same; really read up on it, truly try to understand the scope and scale of the events, and learn about the victims. It will remind you not only of what we are capable of bouncing back from, but also of your own humanity. 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

We Will Not Be Broken

It has not been a great few weeks.

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  • Actor Powers Boothe, musician Chris Cornell, and Jame Bond even to the last, Roger Moore have died.


  • Zack Snyder has taken a step back from directing to grieve the suicide of his daughter which occurred in March.


  • Bodyguards for the Turkish president attacked protesters in Washington DC.


  • A man mocked and punched a guy with cerebral palsy in the face for no reason, completely unprompted, just because he could. 


  • Karl Oliver used the term "lynched" when describing the removal of racist monuments, apparently having never heard of the concept of irony:

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  • A man was only given 240 days in prison for drugging and raping his sister. Yes, that actually happened this week, because we apparently live in caveman times.


  • Dani Mathers, who you may remember a year ago took a picture of a naked 71-year-old woman in a locker room with the caption "If I can't unsee this, you can't either", went to court to plead her case. Because what she did is actually a crime. Because the woman was naked, and unaware. However, she only received 30 days of community service and 3 years probation, as well as $60 paid to the victim. 


  • Men got excessively outraged at a cinema which screened a one-night-only ALL WOMEN showing of the new Wonder Woman movie... I bet those are the same men who call lefty liberals like me "snowflakes" and "cucks" because I don't like racism and homophobia.


  • Donald Trump is still the president of the United States.


  • And of course, the horrific bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people and injuring many more. 


The outlying extremists of the world want to divide us - they want us to fear them, and each other. They want us to turn on each other, and spread fear wherever they go. They want us to fall down and lose any will to fight back.

Here's the thing - Manchester stands for EVERYTHING that ISIS is against: Music, art, culture, history, community and variety are all integral to the Mancunian identity. Manchester is famed for its spirit, for its poetry and talent.

Manchester, in the days, hell, in the hours following the attack, fought back. And they didn't fight back with guns and pitchforks and violence - they fought back by doing the one thing that ISIS did not want them to do. They picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and started to help.

A homeless man sleeping near the venue ran over to check on people and take care of them.

First responders and police did an incredible job organising the chaos and attending to injured people.

A doctor who had by happenstance been at the concert helped on scene and then continued to work a full shift through the night, without telling anyone that he was also part of the crowd.

The mayor, Andy Burnham, gave a rousing speech the next morning thanking everyone who lent a hand, everyone who came together, condemning the actions of those who sought to kill people with that bomb, and called for everyone to remain vigilant in their compassion.

Tattoo parlours in Manchester and across the UK started offering cheaper Worker Bee tattoos with the proceeds going to the Manchester Arena Victim Fund. Worker bees are the symbol of Mancunian work ethic, particularly in the industrial revolution, but they have since come to represent the strength of community as hundreds of people flock to tattoo parlours all over the country to get the little symbol permanently etched to their skin.
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We will not be broken. Manchester will not be broken. We will continue forward, striving for a better tomorrow. During WWII, during the Blitz, Londoners continued to eat family meals and behave mostly as normal. A few months ago when someone attacked politicians outside parliament, Londoners didn't blink - they even became more likely to approach people. I was on the tube a day after the incident, and a muslim man hopped on the train, piled up to his chin with bags and plant trays. It was clearly too much for him to handle, and rather than throwing hatred or vomiting racist bile, four people on the train went and offered to help. On a day when The Daily Mail told us to be terrified, when it decided that less tolerance was the answer, I watched real people defy that ideal, and it lifted my spirits.

We will not be broken. There is an election coming up and I do not want to vote conservative. But Jeremy Corbyn isn't really who I want in power either, although Labour seems the safest vote, and the most likely (although not terribly likely) party to beat the Tories. However my heart wants me to vote Greens, and even the Lib-Dems are looking better than a showdown between Tories and Labour. So despite the political divide in my country, despite my fear of extremist patriotism in the wake of all these attacks, and despite my resignation at Brexit's inevitability, I will not be broken. I will not let my hope dissapate, even if Theresa May gets in for the next five years, although it will be a little disheartening.
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Good news can be found among the bad. The UK's reaction to the Manchester attack, everyone's outpouring of love, as well as the bringing together of people all over the world in unison against Trump. TIMELESS WAS RENEWED, BECAUSE PEOPLE BROUGHT IT BACK WITH THEIR SUPPORT.

It's hard. But we can continue. we will not be broken.




Movie of the Week: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
This movie is the BUSINESS.

Book of the Week: As You Wish - Cary Elwes
A book about the making of The Princess Bride written by Wesley. How are you not already on board?

Photo of the Week:
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Positivity Goal of the Week: Try not to engage in political debate with people who are fundamentally opposed and immovable.
It will only seek to stress you out, and you will neither change their opinion nor will they affect yours. Just hope against hope that the future is bright.




Friday, 12 May 2017

TIMELESS WAS CANCELLED AND I AM FURIOUS

WHY DO GOOD TV SHOWS ALWAYS GET CANCELLED?

Okay, I've mentioned this before, but I'm super mad about this today because I got two doses of bad TV news.
Number 1:
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Timeless is an awesome show. It's one of the best shows I've watched this side of the 00s, and I love it a lot. And two days ago, it was cancelled. Now this show wasn't losing money, and the fanbase is rabid, it was just that it wasn't gaining enough money, and the fanbase, while loyal, wasn't huge. Like Limitless. Or Go On. Or Mixology. Or so many other shows that I have loved and lost. This is something which keeps happening, and has been happening for years. Hell, the ONLY reason Firefly got a chance at a movie was because the fans basically rioted in the streets. I am so sick of liking a show because it's unique or funny or clever or just plain great, only to have it ripped out from under me.

Number 2:
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Once Upon A Time was renewed for a seventh season. Now, this might sound like good news - I love the show, I love the characters and I enjoy the writing even if it is a little less polished than I'd like it to be. However, I am downright FURIOUS that this show got renewed. Season 6 is on its way to wrapping itself up in a perfect bow of closure, and they're going to continue anyway. What makes it worse, is that most of the cast won't be returning, so the entire storyline, most of the main characters, INCLUDING FUCKING EMMA SWAN, and basically everything I like about the show, are being ignored or replaced just because the show will continue to bring in money. I cannot even express in words how much I truly hate that.

I am so annoyed that I cannot even put it into words. I am so damn sick of studios and companies putting shows like Big Bang Theory and Chicago Fire spinoffs over actual, good, quality content. I mean, shit, the only reason that half the shows I love are still going are because they are funded by Netflix or Amazon.

There is an exception to this rule, and that is any show produced by the BBC - because they know gold when they hit it. However, even they are starting to lose my confidence, as Doctor Who, once my favourite show and one of the only things keeping me afloat at times when I was drowning, is slowly getting worse, and there are many shows on the network that aren't that great, but that appeal to the lowest common denominator, so they keep them. I understand the need to keep shows like that, but the best thing the BBC does is not cancel good shit just to fit in the basic shows. Except for when they cancelled The Fades. Still not quite over that one.

 I am so unbelievably annoyed about this. It's decisions like this that make me wonder for the future of television. Because The Walking Dead is still going, but Emerald City is cancelled. Once Upon A Time is still going, but Timeless is cancelled.

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The shows that should get the air time, the ideas that should be put in front of audiences, are being pulled because of faceless, corporate decisions, and the shows that have already been going on too long, even shows I like are being renewed.

Happy endings used to be the cliche. "And then everyone lived happily ever after..."

Happy endings are not the cliche anymore. Because nothing ever ends anymore, unless it's cancelled, and then they don't get the chance to wrap it up in a neat little bow for us. No, the cliche is a series which has been steadily declining in quality for four seasons, or six season, or twelve, getting renewed, while good shows get cancelled.
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I hate everything.


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Female Archetypes Make No Fucking Sense

I know.

I know.

I know, I'm sorry, it's been over four months and I am really sorry, but honestly, it's just been one thing after another. It was New Years, then there was a lot of family drama going on back in Australia that I was really struggling to deal with, and there's nothing like anxiety to just CRUSH your creativity into the dirt. Then of course, my laptop keyboard broke, and obviously as a writer, the one thing I absolutely don't need is a functioning keyboard! *she said, sarcastically, angrily bashing her newly fixed keys* After I sent off and then received my fixed laptop I then had my 18th and then some more drama and various other things happened, and basically, I've been unable to write for a while, but that stops now. I will be updating this blog much more often now. I swear.

Maybe.

Y'know what, just read this post for now, and possibly don't get your hopes up for more regular posts. Because if you haven't noticed by now, I'm a bit shit.

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So, just for something different this week, I want to talk about something that many people might find boring, but which I myself find absolutely fascinating: ARCHETYPES. 

Archetypes are collectively-inherited, constantly recurring symbols and characters in literature, film and art; the original idea that others stem from. They are closely related to stereotypes and cliches.   We observe how these are influenced by, and reinforce, the current stereotypes enforced in contemporary society. There are hundreds of archetypal characters out there, from the hero to the villain to the anti-hero, but I want to talk about three in particular. 

The three major female archetypes that occur in both literature and film; the witch, the whore and the virgin, which have been around since medieval literature and, surprisingly, have been barely altered in the ensuing years. There are so many texts supporting these archetypes through exploitation of textual features that it would be impossible to name them all, but the ones that strike me as being the most obvious are Twilight, Hunger Games and Big Bang Theory, and there are many reasons why the texts are not as progressive as society believes. So I'm going to look at those and then compare them with examples of those texts which do challenge this discourse, such as X Files, Harry Potter, and Skulduggery Pleasant.
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It was in medieval literature that these first became the typical archetypes for any narrative. Women in those times were considered to all fall into these categories – the virginal, angelic, innocent girls; promiscuous, villainous, adulterous women; and haggard, wiser, older women, witches or crones. These women were tokens – literary devices used to get the male hero from Point A to Point B, sometimes under-utilised as mere side-arms, or even portrayed as hindrances to the male protagonist. Nowadays, the only thing that has changed is the name we give to such women – what used to be “The Virgin” is now “The Damsel In Distress”, the “Whore” has become the “Femme Fatale” and the crone is… well, still the crone – although now usually an elderly woman bestowing wisdom upon the male protagonist; think The Oracle in the Matrix.
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The word hero is clarified as a “person, typically a man, defined for their courage”, and the synonyms were all equally as empowering; lionheart, conqueror, warrior, paladin. The synonyms for “heroine” were less qualifying – winner, woman of courage, brave woman. Author Tara Moss, in her book The Fictional Woman, commented that “We pigeon-hole people into these roles, often without much logic or without much care as to what we are doing.” Moss herself suffered from the backlash of the power of these tropes. A former model, when she began writing novels, she was accused of hiring a ghost writer. As a woman, in the public perception exacerbated by these archetypes, she cannot be more than one thing. She cannot possibly be intelligent if her job is to be pretty for a living.

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The Big Bang Theory, an incredibly popular show, is hailed as being a twist on the male representation, because it portrays nerdy protagonists rather than basic male stock characters. This is ignoring many other shows that also shun the traditional handsome hero, like Game of Thrones or Modern Family, as it has now become the norm to have well-rounded, multi-dimensional male characters. The women, however, are not so lucky, particularly in The Big Bang Theory. There are three main female characters on the show; Penny; a romantic interest for Leonard:
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Bernadette; a romantic interest for Howard:
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...and Amy; a romantic interest for Sheldon:
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Aside from being obvious side pieces to the male characters, each embodies a particular archetype. Penny; an attractive woman, is the “Whore”, Bernadette; a cutesy, innocent girl, is the “Virgin” and Amy; a nerdy, awkward women is the epitome of the modern “Crone”. The filmmakers exploit textual features such as imagery to make the women’s characters more obvious via their clothing, the colours they wear, the amount of make-up they choose, and the kinds of jobs they have. These characters are so one-dimensional that Bernadette began to show traits of Howard’s mother once they were dating – thereby morphing from the virgin to the crone. An entire episode was dedicated to Howard coming to terms with feeling emasculated due to Bernadette’s success, reinforcing the societal ideation that women shouldn’t aspire to be as good as, or better than, their male counterparts. This is proven time and time again in films such as the James Bond franchise, where women are either femme fatales or damsels in distress, or Fifty Shades of Grey, literally the most popular book this century, surpassing the last Harry Potter book and breaking sales records, which is modelled after another story that exacerbates these outdated archetypes: Twilight.

Bella, Twilight’s tentative protagonist, is completely helpless without her male protector on standby. The literary device of Bella’s delicious “scent” as a reason for Edward’s vicious nature associates Bella with the blame for Edward’s abusive actions, and makes her a permanent victim. While the series is written from her point of view there is an entire chapter of blank pages symbolising the months that go by once Edward breaks up with her and she no longer considers herself a functional person, even putting herself into danger, just because she imagines Edward will save her – reinforcing the “damsel in distress” clichĂ© to potentially fatal ends. Stephenie Meyer used intertextuality to compare her work to that of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, through both reference, such as when Edward compares himself to Romeo, or the direct quote from the play at the very start of the book. Drawing parallels between your work and one of the most convoluted, tragic love stories of all time, should not be a selling point. This is a huge problem throughout all four books, as she is saved over, and over, and over, and over again, providing an expectation that women will be submissive, obedient and always in need of saving, which is particularly baffling, as it is still, one of the most popular books for young girls across the world.
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Unfortunately, these ideas are also presenting themselves in literature that we believe to be positive for women, such as The Hunger Games. While the first book, and film, set Katniss up as a clear heroine, the second instalment created a story where despite her presentation as a role model, she has virtually no impact on the events taking place. All the male characters scheme without her knowledge, essentially making her a pawn, and the viewer is supposed to believe she is having some influence on the world around her, which, upon further inspection, she is not. It is a sad state of affairs when texts we hold up as feminist are in actuality a rehashed selection of archetypes where women must be rescued by male characters.
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ALSO FUCKING SLEEPY HOLLOW, but don't even get me started on how aggravating female deaths to enhance male character arcs, and LGBTQI deaths in TV are, because that's another post for another time.
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Fortunately, there are some more recent additions to popular culture that buck the trend of these archetypes and have been slowly challenging the discourse of society. The Harry Potter books, the previous record holder for fastest selling novel in the UK (broken by Fifty Shades) are excellent examples of women breaking from archetypical roles. Hermione Granger is neither damsel nor crone, and she definitely isn’t a femme fatale. She is a strong, complex female character who has more motivations besides impressing the male protagonist. Across all seven books, Harry appears in awe of Hermione’s superior abilities, as do nearly all of the adults around her, and it has been said among the fans that if Hermione was the protagonist, she wouldn’t have needed seven books. Hermione isn’t the only standalone female character in the series; I could write entire pages on Ginny Weasley’s remarkable courage in the face of adversity, and despite the fact that she did end up with Harry, that wasn’t her entire character arc. Luna Lovegood is so individualistic she has inspired an entire generation of girls to accept the weird quirks we all possess. I could go on. Notwithstanding the obvious point that Harry, the main protagonist, is male, he is surrounded by so many amazing women, that you can almost guarantee he won’t be the most memorable character.
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The same goes for The X Files. Dana Scully is by far the best character on the show, and I’m sure I’m not the first person to draw parallels between her and Ginny Weasley; both red-headed, ardently compassionate, perspicacious, headstrong, standalone women. Their significant others – Harry and Mulder, are the supposed “main” characters, but people didn’t watch X Files to see Mulder find aliens. They watched it to see Scully argue with Mulder about their existence, to watch her grow and move forward, and battle harrowing obstacles that Mulder simply could not have beaten. They watched it to see her stumble and fall and just keep getting up despite everything that was thrown at her. If it had been a series about Mulder waltzing through towns declaring aliens uncontested, it would not have run for nine seasons. Also, Gillian Anderson has become something of a lesbian icon in recent years, and I am definitely not complaining.

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The Skulduggery Pleasant series has similarly broken the barrier of stock characters, not only by not making Valkyrie a typical side-arm to Skulduggery, but by making her fail.Image result for valkyrie cainDamsels in distress only fail because there will always be a saviour; that is their base function. Femme fatales only failure is against the handsome male counterpart, and crones don’t tend to be in a position to noticeably fail, unless it furthers the hero’s arc. When Valkyrie fails, she does it on her own, and she deals with it alone, unless one of the other female characters steps up; like Tanith, a sword wielding troll killer, who only becomes more powerful as the story progresses. Or China Sorrows, who, aside from having a splendid name, is the hub of information through the series, has untold power, and has her own character arc, which is possibly more compelling than the main storyline.


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These women define a new form of archetype; not a “strong woman”; no that would just be creating a list of four one dimensional characters defined by a singular trait. No, not strong – complex. Complex women acknowledged in contemporary society, changing the discourse that has existed in one form for so long. Because if this way continues, we will remain a society that has fifty synonyms for hero and only ten for heroine.

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Movie of the Week: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
GO AND WATCH IT. GOD, IT"S JUST SO GOOOOOOOD!!!

Book of the Week: American Gods - Neil Gaiman
I have loved this book for ages, but it recently got made into a TV series starring a LOT of people I love, and I decided to reread it. It TOTALLY holds up. It's really good guys, I swear.

Photo of the Week:

Taken at the beach when I tried to brush my hair out of my face and Grandma took this incredible action shot where I look like I'm really feeling my oats. I look ridiculous, but I love it.

Positivity Goal of the Week: Don't let other people's ridiculous drama get you down.
I have been struggling for weeks... wow, nearly months with family drama, and it's really messed with my head and my mental health and so I am resolved to try and just move past it and focus on my own stuff. I'm not sure how successful I will be, because it's sort of still going on, but I will try.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

We Are Better Than 2016

The time of half-hearted resolutions is on its way! The first few weeks of 2017 will be ushered in by people with grandiose ideas of self-improvement, and then will fade into a sense of resignation at our inability to make serious change for the rest of the year. Then, of course, the cycle will start again in the first week of 2018. A vicious cycle that only serves to solidify our own ideas of our capabilities, or lack thereof.

As you have probably guessed, I don't like New Years Resolutions. They rarely ever stick, and they're usually about trivial things, like joining gyms and losing weight, or reading more and watching TV less, or putting more money aside. Of course, those are all nice enough ideas, they're just not anything I really care about with enough conviction to make a resolution. Back when I used to make them, my resolutions would be more about pushing through my anxiety, or rising above bullies, or wishing that my family was happier or wanting to feel better about the fact that I'm not skinny. And they were never useful either. So I'd like to make it official that I am not going to make New Years Resolutions anymore. Which is why I am posting this today - we're still in 2016, with just a few days to go, and I am making a resolution.

Actually, it's more of a commitment to myself, and not just for the year - for the rest of my life.
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So I've had an epiphany, of sorts, in the past few weeks. I can't keep sitting on my arse waiting for life to kick me into gear. Looking at me, you wouldn't think I was that sort of person; I mean, I moved countries at 17 years old, on my own... but I am. It's like I've been a spectator in my own life (which is a clichĂ©, I know, but they do exist for a reason). I used to dream of being on Ellen and Graham Norton and Jimmy Fallon, and it’s like I got the hope beaten out of me. I never wanted to be rich and famous – I just wanted to be good at whatever I chose to do with my life. When I had dreams of being an actor, those talk shows were like a glowing neon sign that you’d made it. But somewhere in the last five years I lost that feeling.

I lost that impulse to do anything remotely out of my comfort zone.

I lost my drive.

I lost hope.

I lost belief in myself.

For three years I’ve been saying that I’m only good at three things – coffee, writing and singing – but the truth is, I didn’t (and still don’t) believe that I’m good enough at those to warrant basing my life choices around them. In fact, since moving to England and seeing how different the coffee scene is over here, I can safely cross being a great barista off the list. So that takes me down to two. But unfortunately, these are things I cannot be objective about; I only know I’m good at these things because people tell me so, and even then, if you’ve seen the auditions episodes of X Factor or Idol, there are loads of people whose close friends and family tell them how wonderful they are, and then…. Well, they aren’t exactly… basically they cause your ears to bleed.

But when I pulled over in my car to write the first draft of this post, I had this feeling in my gut, and it’s a feeling I haven’t had in such a long time. I’ve spent every day with one goal. I just wanted to be OK. In the words of Ingrid Michaelson:

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That is how I’ve survived – if I focus all my energy on just being OK, on getting to tomorrow, I can manage. But if I continue to do this, I’m never going to do anything more than just be OK. And I so desperately want to be more than OK!

I don’t want to reach the end of my life and look back and say, “Well, it was good enough.”

I don’t want it to be average.

I don’t want it to be FINE, or agreeable or JUST OKAY.

I WANT IT TO BE FUCKING BETTER.

To be clear, my goal isn’t to be the best. Trying to be the best is an unattainable objective that will only stress me out until I give up or kill myself. Trying to be the best will only mean misery and heartache. Trying to be the best is what made me so ready to settle in the first place. I looked back at my early school years and, realising how stressed I had been, decided to just stop caring, but it didn’t quite work because on some level I still cared. Unfortunately, that only made it worse, because then I became a procrastinator with a violent fear of failure: someone who spent weeks pretending I didn’t need to worry, and then panicked about it. So my goal is never to be like that again. MY GOAL IS TO BE BETTER.

Better than I used to be.

Better than my expectations on my worst day and better than my expectations on my best.

Better than who I am today.

Better than my worst panic attack.

Better than my first attempts at a novel.

Better than the first performance I ever gave.

Better than that note I missed singing Over the Rainbow this morning.

Better than that stumble on the pavement.

Better than those bullies ever made me feel I could be.

Better than feeling lost and homesick with no clue where my home is.

Because I do have a home. MY HOME IS ME. I don’t need to keep hiding behind excuses anymore. Because my main obstacle was, is and always will be, myself. The Princess Diaries taught me that “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and that’s the worst part.

Everything those bullies ever said, everything they made me feel… none of that compares, comes close, holds a flickering candle in the depths of hell, to what I did to myself. I ripped myself apart from the inside over and over and over, sometimes without even realising I was doing it; I was training myself to give up. I even thought I was doing myself a favour, because if you don’t try it doesn’t hurt as much when you fail. I was wrong. I tore myself down until I didn’t feel determination or drive or hope anymore – I felt nothing. Because if I let myself feel, it brings the bad with the good, and nothingness is easier than pain. But the nothingness takes so much energy and I take so long to recharge.

Do you have any idea what it feels like to know that YOU are the reason for your own unhappiness, but having no idea how to change it, like someone in a crowd screaming for anyone’s attention despite knowing you’ll never be heard above the raging stream of consciousness?

I CAN’T DO THAT ANYMORE. I HAVE TO BE BETTER.


So that is what I will do. I will strive to be better. 


Always.


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So usually here I have sections talking about recommendations for movies and books and music but as this is my last entry for this year, I'm going to do something a little different. I'm going to post a tribute to the celebrities we've lost this year, because they mean so much to so many, and most of them meant a lot to me. 
Goodbye to the actors and the musicians. Goodbye to the athletes and the artists. Goodbye to the freaks and the oddballs. Goodbye to the magic and the music. Goodbye to the force and the pure imagination. Goodbye to the famous and to the unsung heroes of every tragedy that has struck this year, from Orlando to Aleppo and everything in between. Goodbye to the innocence of children in warzones and the childhoods of adults as their idols faded away. Because Ghostbusters remade with women is not what kills our childhoods. What murders our youth is our childhood heroes being taken from us one by one, as we stand by in shock, unable to stop it. 

Goodbye David Bowie. Thank you for teaching us all to break the mould, and that your uniqueness is important to cultivate, no matter what others may think. Thank you for the music and the movies and the wisdom. You are missed.
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Goodbye Alan Rickman. Thank you for bringing life to one of the best characters of this century, and for knowing him better than anyone else. Thank you for your films and your wit and your genuine love for everything you did. You are missed so much.
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Goodbye Prince. You were misunderstood for such a long time, but hopefully your legacy can continue on forever.
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Goodbye Anton Yelchin. You were far, far too young. You were a wonderful actor and beautiful human being, and you deserved so much more.
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Goodbye Kenny Baker. I hope R2-D2 and C3P0 take you on adventures, wherever you are.
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Goodbye Gene Wilder. You were such an important part of my childhood, such a defining factor in how I grew up, in films like Willy Wonka, Young Frankenstein, my favourite version of Alice in Wonderland, and Blazing Saddles, and I am forever grateful. You made me believe in magic for so long. You are so missed.
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Goodbye Leonard Cohen. You were a musical visionary and wrote one of my favourite songs of all time. You have touched the hearts of millions of people and you have brought light into so many lives.
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Goodbye Ron Glass. I am not religious, but Sheperd Book is, and I bet he is praying for you.
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Goodbye George Michael. You were an incredible man, an inspiration and an outspoken supporter of civil rights and LGBT pride in the face of adversity. Your version of Somebody to Love at the Freddy Mercury tribute concert is one of the best performances of any artist ever, and the best version of that song. Your music, your style and your life were extravagant, excessive and entertaining.
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Goodbye Carrie Fisher. Thank you for being incredible on and off screen, for your writing talents as well as your humanity. Thank you for Princess Leia and The Blues Brothers and Marie in When Harry Met Sally, and Janie in Drop Dead Fred. Thank you for teaching young girls that they can do anything, and that there is also magic and strength within you, even when you can't see it. 
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Goodbye to Ronnie Corbett and Terry Wogan; two shining lights of British entertainment that should never be forgotten for their hilarity and perseverance.
Goodbye Muhammad Ali. Despite my non-existent interest in sport, even I was shocked and saddened to hear of your passing, and I know how much it has affected so many people. You are definitely missed, and your iconic fights and verses will be remembered.
Goodbye to the countless others we have lost in between - to Zsa Zsa Gabor, Paul Daniels, Denise Robertson, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Alexis Arquette, Pete Burns, Florence Henderson, Andrew Sachs, Peter Vaughan, Rick Parfitt and Liz Smith, as well as anyone else I have not mentioned.

And most of all, goodbye to 2016. The only thing on this list that is unlikely to be missed by many. Thanks for nothing, and I can only hope and pray that 2017 will be just ever so slightly improved.