Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Top 5 Most Romantic Moments in Movies

I am not a romantic person. I never have been, and I almost certainly never will be, and that honestly doesn't bother me in the slightest. I am perfectly content with being blasé about love. Of course, I don't like anything to do with over-the-top romance, which means that I don't like Rom-Coms. I don't like unrealistic stories, and chick flicks are almost always too contrived for me to enjoy them.

However, there are a few that I have seen and actually loved, because they are believable and honest and well-written and actually romantic, as opposed to what Hollywood deems to be so. Usually, these relationships are in TV shows, because they spend time fleshing them out, which ends up with me adoring them. But every now and then a movie comes along that I genuinely enjoy for the cheesy romantic nonsense that it is.

Personally, I can't stand grand romantic gestures. I think they're sappy and cloying, and they put pressure on the person receiving them, especially if they happen in public. I don't like flash mob proposals, or big fancy gifts; for me, the most romantic thing someone could do would be something small and intimate. Something personal. And if there's one thing that the grand romantic gesture ISN'T, it's personal. It's a display - the opposite gender posturing over their mate - something to prove to the whole world that they love the other person, which completely misses the point. The only person you should ever need to prove your love to is the person you love.

I do have some sense of romance, however. It's just more low-key. I notice the small moments: the sweet, kind, loving instants. I love those moments that when you watch them, you can't decide if it was written into the script, or if it was an acting choice.

Firstly, some movies that aren't quite in my top 5, but that I find myself loving all the same - RUNNERS UP:

Say Anything  -  The scene where Lloyd stands outside her window playing"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel. I know it's a grand romantic gesture, but c'mon! There's a reason why this moment is so famous, and it's because it's amazing.
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Penelope -  "You lied to me, I guessed piano!" When Max/Johnny figures out that it's Penelope and decides to admit his feelings, despite knowing that he can't help her, and then she reveals that she saved herself. It's so cute and perfect, and happens to be the movie where I first fell in love with James McAvoy, so it has to be on the list.
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Easy A -  "If I promise not to tell anyone, can I kiss you?" This is such a genuinely sweet moment, where both the audience and Olive realise that Todd has liked her all along. Also, this movie is hilarious.
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Finally, in no particular order, here are

5. The Princess Bride - "As You Wish":
Let's start off with a cliche!
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But seriously, this is one of the best movies ever made. It's endlessly quotable, heartwarming, romantic and funny. I love this movie. And I love the love story - because I believe in it. I believe that he became a pirate to get back to her, and that she died inside when she thought he died. I believe in it, and I love it, and that is down to three little words that are oft repeated in the film, and frequently nodded to in everything from Once Upon A Time to my actual life, all the time, constantly. I'm not sure if I can pick a particular uttering of the phrase that I like more than any other. Romantic cliche tells me it should be when he's falling down the hill, but I prefer the ones before that, when they're slowly falling in love at the farm. So I choose one of those. Any one.
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4. Stranger Than Fiction - "I brought you flowers."
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This isn't really something I would class as a chick flick, or a rom-com: it's a drama on the importance of life and how you live it, with an incredible cast and a wonderfully intricate story.
However, this movie has exactly the kind of personal gesture I was talking about earlier. It's not grand, or even very romantic, and it's very, very awkward, but it's lovely. It's sweet and earnest and heartfelt and really grounds the relationship between these two people as the heart of the narrative; where otherwise this movie would be horribly depressing, the growing romantic connection between Harold and Ana really elevates it to something beyond that. Harold wants to do something to show this abrasive woman how he feels about her, so he buys her flowers. Except he buys them his way, personalised to her. She works in a bakery, so he buys her FLOURS. It's dorky and amazing and I fucking love it!
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3. Dirty Dancing Havana Nights - "Okay. I can be the girl..."
I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about this movie. As a part of the Dirty Dancing universe, it fucking sucks, but as a romantic movie on it's own merit, it's actually pretty great. In order to enjoy this movie, all you have to do is skip over all the scenes with Patrick Swayze, and it becomes a story about a privileged American girl, Katey, in 1958 Cuba meeting a sweet, poor local, Javier, working as a waiter, and then shenanigans happen and something, something dancing. It tells the very believable story of a woman falling in love with Diego Luna. Hey, I'm not here to tell you the entire plots of movie.
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BUT, during this movie, Katey begins by going out with a guy from similar social circles - you know the type: gross, frat-boy guy who believes he's entitled to everything. Including Katey. One night while they're out on a date, they bump into Javier and she dances with him, so this dipshit gets jealous, and when they leave the bar he tries to sexually assault her in his car. She runs back into the bar, scared and alone, and Javier makes sure she's okay. I could have picked that scene, but there's a scene later, when they're training for the dance competition, that's even more amazing. Latin dancing, by it's very definition, is quite... saucy. So while they're rehearsing their dance, Javier adds something slightly sexual, and she immediately freaks out. Instead of getting annoyed, Javier realises that her anger has come from a place of fear, due to what that other douchebag did, so he diffuses the situation. He shrugs, says, "Okay, I'll be the girl!" and starts dancing like an idiot. It's so silly and adorable and gosh do I love it.
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2. The Breakfast Club - Claire gives Bender her earring.
This is one of my favourite movies OF ALL TIME, so of course it was going to make an appearance. It's not flawless: the scene where Allison changes her clothes and hair is particularly frustrating, considering the same effect could have been made by just fixing her makeup. It does have a really interesting relationship, however, between Bender and Claire. He clearly dislikes her privilege, and she noticeably dislikes his attitude, but they're both attracted to each other all the same.
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He pisses her off on purpose, because he's frustrated by the fact that she's so far removed from his life, and she snaps back because she actually feels like she can, unlike with her friends or her parents. It's an interesting dynamic, and their interactions make for a very cool collection of quotes, like the one above, which I use on the daily. So they fall in... love? The highschool equivalent of love, and then when they leave, they know how unlikely it is that they will ever get to spend time together like that again, so Claire gives Bender her earring as a reminder of that day, and when they kiss, it's not super aggressive, like you'd expect him to be. He even tried to press his forehead to hers for a moment before she left. This moment is, of course, followed by his famous fist pump and one of the greatest songs of all time. Fight me.

1. Pride and Prejudice -  Everything.
I could write entire books on my love of this book. It is, hands down, my favourite book in the world. My favourite book series are Harry Potter, and Skulduggery Pleasant, and I love The Book Thief and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Murder on the Orient Express, but none of them hold a place in my heart as special as Pride and Prejudice. I love this book. I love the language, I love the characters, I love the romance. It was the first time I ever read anything that spoke to me so personally, and the first time I ever read a romance I enjoyed. I think that is largely because it isn't overstated: the bond between them takes its time to grow, and evolve, and they don't even like each other for a big chunk of it. I also LOVE the 1995 BBC mini-series, and utterly DESPISE the 2005 movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, through not too much fault of theirs, but largely fault in writing. I said at the beginning of this post that I cannot stand bad writing, and when you butcher almost perfect lines like this:
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Into this:
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Urgh. I am extremely vexed. It makes me so CROSS. That movie took one of the most romantic lines in all of history and butchered it to death. I am genuinely upset by the film, and I'm sure I will write a blog post on it in the future, so if you'd like that, do let me know!

Let's get back on topic! I'm not saying that the 1995 version is perfect, especially when it includes glorious scenes like this, that are not in the book, and would never have happened:
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It's still glorious though.

Anyway, it's not perfect, but it's pretty damn close, so this mini-series is standing in as a movie for the 2005 version, which should be burned. Including the line I mentioned above, which if anyone ever said to me, I think I would actually die, pretty much everything in this mini-series is romantic as fuck. The looks between them, the proposal where she rejects him, the proposal where she accepts, the verbal sparring, the tortured Darcy faces. It's all INCREDIBLE. There is more sexual tension in this thing than in anything else I've ever seen, and for most of the movie they don't even touch hands.
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Pride and Prejudice is the most romantic thing ever, and I will fight anyone and everyone who challenges me. It has nothing to do with Colin Firth's dreaminess, or Jennifer Ehle's bone structure, and everything to do with the characters and the writing and the acting and all the tiny, inconsequential moments that led to them falling in love. In the words of Mr Darcy, when Elizabeth asked him when he knew he was in love with her,

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

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Thursday, 11 January 2018

Panophobia Chapter 3: What Anxiety Feels Like

Hey guys! I know I haven't posted in an unforgivably long time, so for those of you who actually follow this blog, I am very sorry. There's been a lot of personal stuff going on in the last year and I really haven't had the mental or even physical resolve to sit down and write about my innermost feelings: largely because I have no idea what I am feeling. With the exception of fear. I have been more anxious this year than almost any other year in my life, and maybe one day I'll be comfortable with talking about it on the internet with a bunch of faceless strangers, but today is not that day. So instead, I want to talk about how my anxiety has made me feel this past year.

I was trying to think of a way to explain my anxiety the other day and I have come to the staunch conclusion that there is no ONE way to describe it. I have to jumble my analogies, or "get all my ducks on the same page".

See, it's funny because I mixed metaphors, and- *ahem* You know what, let's just forget it.

Here's what my regular, everyday anxiety feels like:

That moment when you miss a step going down the stairs, but for eternity.

That moment when you're watching a horror movie, and you know a jump scare is coming, but it still hasn't happened.

That moment when you've been watching serial killer documentaries and that walk to your car in the dark feels a lot longer than it should.

That moment when you've being ringing a family member for a long time and they haven't answered, and no-one else has heard from them in a while.

That moment when, as a parent, you turn around to find your child has vanished from view and your heart drops to your shoes. *but they were just on the other side*

And this is what a panic attack feels like:

That moment when you miss a step going down the stairs, but those stairs are in a creepy house in the moors, and no-one but you was supposed to be in the house, but you can hear footsteps behind you and your phone is still in the car, which has a flat, and you know there is no escape from the crushing loneliness of death in this terrible situation that you could have avoided if only you hadn't taken that left turn.

That moment when someone close to you has been in hospital and you've been worried for a while but then when you finally become hopeful that they might recover, you step through the doors only to find a nurse looking at you with pity in her eyes and she doesn't even need to say the words because you already know, and that half second before she says anything makes your heart leap into your throat, because there's still a dying ember of hope fighting to survive.

That moment when you're all alone in the dark, and the dark is so black that it starts to feel like a wall, surrounding you, bearing down on you, with no hope for escape. 

It feels like being all alone, completely lost and afraid in the world, with no way to turn and no-one to talk to, and it feels like it's never going to end. It's like a form of tunnel vision, blurring everything more than a foot from your person, making the world spin further and further away the harder you reach for it. It's like a swirling vortex of loneliness and worry. 

It's like a rollercoaster ride with an important piece of track missing, but the coaster isn't slowing down. 

It's like a heart attack, or a migraine.

It's a weird, painful, upsetting experience, and if you've ever had even one, I want you to know that you're not alone - there's someone else out there, even if you've never met, who knows how you feel. 


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'être. 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



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.


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” cliché 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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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.