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” 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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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 cliché, 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. 
carrie fisher

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.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Psychology of Fandoms

So I already wrote a speech on this, but since I did that long before I created this blog, and because I'm not really done with this topic, I thought I would rewrite it and elaborate. 

Teenagers get a lot of flak for being obsessed with pop culture, addicted to their phones, emotionally stunted… but the big one is antisocial. I've heard a slew of these phrases thrown at my generation and the generation above me, and some of them are true, but honestly, I don't think they're all as negative as we assume they are. Antisocial behaviour covers all of these things and more, but do these things give rise to antisocial behaviour, or is it the other way around? Honestly though, for most of us, I think we are mistakenly labelled anti-social when we are actually introverted, socially anxious, or just having a bad day.

According to evidence collated by Beyond Blue, One in four Australians between the ages of 16 and 24 feel unhappy with their lives. One in six young Australians is currently experiencing an anxiety condition, including panic disorders – equivalent to 440,000 people in this country alone; and that’s just one branch of mental health issue that affects teens such as myself. According to Beyond Blue “evidence suggests half of all lifetime cases of mental health conditions emerge by age 14”.

14 years old. 14 years old and diagnosed with a condition that could affect them for the rest of their lives; hanging over their heads like a permanent raincloud filled with self-loathing. Of course, even if the people around them don’t notice, they’ll always feel different; always believe that no-one could ever understand. So what does a young person do in a situation like this? They latch onto something. In the most extreme cases this becomes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and in the mildest it becomes an anchor they cling to when it appears as though they’ll be swept away in the tide of their anxiety, depression and panic.

Obsessed. That’s one of the key words I hear most when adults talk about my generation; addicted, consumed, fixated, dependent. And for a lot of them, it’s just the kind of sedentary lifestyle they’ve chosen – but I’m not here to discuss average, run of the mill technology addiction. 


I’m talking about FANDOMS.


The Dictionary defines fandoms as “the fans of a particular person, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture.” Although as almost every fangirl will tell you – it’s so much more than that. You can admire any fandom and become a part of it, but belonging to a fandom, living and breathing it, is a completely different experience. It’s being part of an entirely new world separate to your own; meeting the characters, getting to know them as you would a friend, or arriving at a deep hatred for them as you would a common enemy. It’s about predictability vs uncontrollable chaos, sanity vs lunacy, the introvert vs the irrepressible. It gives people a sense of belonging; of purpose and value. 
A fandom is an escape.

I mentioned that forms of anxiety are the most common mental health issues in young people; people who spend all of their time worrying about their self-image, what others think of them, how they can meet high expectations, and just generally stressing about their lives. Fandoms are the perfect way to escape because once immersed within that creation, the worry about your own life just fades. Everything you have is being thrown into that world, at least temporarily. This is what persuades people to write fanfictions, visit Comic-Con and dress up as their favourite characters.

An inability to express their feelings to those they love and a distinct lack of sympathetic traits in the people around them makes them feel like they can’t express themselves normally, so they express their feelings through their fandom. They use it as a language to communicate. While a mother may be bored to death with yet another character analysis *cough* sorry Mum *cough*, it might be her daughter trying to explain her own feelings through a TV show. As a father rolls his eyes at his son’s “obsession” with Assassins Creed, some days, playing that video game is the only thing that reminds him he’s okay. Because we can’t always talk about what upsets us. Sometimes it is impossible to even begin to form the words to explain. Every day comes with a new challenge; do we give in to the surge of panic, or bury ourselves in a book? Do we let ourselves be consumed by the niggling little inkling that we’re crazy, that everything’s not okay, or do we marathon watch Doctor Who until our brains won’t function anymore? Do we tell our friends how we feel and risk judgement and pity, or do we instead release those emotions through the fanfictions we write, expressing our innermost thoughts under the guise of a character?

I don't know about you, but I know which method I choose.

People use fandoms as coping mechanisms to help them get through their day and overcome real-world issues. Fandoms are the instant solution for an immediate problem but they could be so much more. While many other fixations have increasingly negative consequences such as alcoholism and drug-taking, and only block out the problem for so long, fandoms can be used as more than just a temporary fix. If you take the positive affirmations from whatever your fandom may be, you can then learn to control and hang on to these optimistic feelings and bring them back in a situation that would usually cause anxiety.

Avoiding worries by channelling them into fanfictions, becomes an exercise in anxiety reduction. By expressing yourself in your writing, you’ve created an outlet for your worries. When people read your stories and then express their encouraging feedback to you about your work, this a) enhances your confidence and self-perception and b) allows you to communicate your feelings without having to talk about them, whereas in other situations that idea would be nerve-wracking, and in my case, enough to spark a panic attack all on its own.

Another example of fandoms as long-term coping mechanisms is the particular connections people feel towards their favourite characters. For example, the character Dean Winchester in Supernatural is excruciatingly bad at expressing his feelings, just like many of us with social anxiety. Watching the show and seeing him express himself even when it makes him uncomfortable, fills us with the confidence to do the same. Even if you’re a part of a fandom that’s complete fantasy, such as Supernatural, you can still take the human element out of it, and feed that into every-day life.

Or, if you're romantically stunted, like myself, you can live vicariously through the characters you ship together and your (in my case many) OTPs. Seriously, there are so many characters I ship that I can't pick just one. And I ship all of them for different reason and love each relationship for their varying dynamics and sub-plots - almost like... real relationships!

This helps you communicate with your loved ones in a way that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. It helps you adapt to society and helps you come to a conclusion about who you are. Unfortunately your loved ones don’t always understand this way of connecting, and thus the person already suffering from their own mentally debilitating condition, is given the label antisocial.

Song of the Week: The Judge - Twenty One Pilots
I know, I can already feel the judgement, but seriously, this band is actually kind of great. This song is my favourite at the moment, but their whole body of work is worth a listen. Judge away. Shout-out to my perfect emo sis for recommending them. #hashtagstoirritatelogan

Movie of the Week: Batman: Under the Red Hood
Okay, this one comes from a discussion I had with my friend Hayley from work. She doesn't know much about DC, and only recently became interested in the universe through Gotham. (I know, but she doesn't know any better, so chill) Anyway,  I was explaining why so much of the DC universe is better in cartoon form - the old Cartoon Network Justice League series, and the original Teen Titans for example, and this film sprang to mind. It's a genuinely well-made film with some seriously good Batman moments. In the words of Cezary Jan Strusiewicz from cracked.com:

"Burton's Batman was definitely creepy and all, but he was ultimately an unhinged psycho. Under the Red Hood, though, makes Batman look human, and then twists that humanity into something truly dark. There's even an earlier scene when the Joker talks about how Batman found him after Jason's murder, and put him in a body cast for six months. I've envisioned this scene many times and still can't decide which version is scarier: Batman going all berserk on the Joker, or calmly and methodically breaking every bone in his body."


Book of the Week: Skulduggery Pleasant
My favourite book series in the world, I am currently pouring over the first one again, for probably the millionth time. It's just SO. DAMN. GOOD. Please give it a try - it's not for everyone but its Whedon-esque and in later books is reminiscent of Tarantino and old school Tim Burton feels, as well as having all the charm, gravity and magic of the Harry Potter books, with a tad more violence and death. Perfect.

Photo of the Week:

Abby and Hayley at work have been friends with each other for ages, and both are so much fun to be around. Thanks for making me feel welcome and being mates - it would have been a lot harder to get used to being here without you guys, I really appreciate it.

Positivity Goal of the Week: Remember that you are loved.
You might be far away from the people you love, or right next to them, but never forget that someone out there loves you, even if it doesn't feel like it. Even Hitler had supporters... and he was pure evil. 



Tuesday, 6 December 2016

I Love Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

So, if you hadn't already noticed - I love movies and TV and books and music. More specifically - I LOVE A WELL EXECUTED STORY WITH BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND DEVELOPMENT.

Ah, so glad I got that off my chest. It's so hard just nodding when someone tells you how much they loved Batman V Superman and you practically bite your tongue off trying not to tell them all the reasons that movie made you so damn angry. Badly written stories infuriate me, particularly in instances such as that, where there are so many options, and so much money thrown at them, and I could shit out a better film script in half a day, with more relevance to the comics.

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Movies and books with well written scripts and characters CANNOT get high enough praise from me. Stranger Things is the breakout hit from this year, and for good damn reason. NOT, as people keep assuming, because of nostalgia - if that were true, Ghosterbusters, Fuller House, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Independence Day, Jason Bourne and Ben Hur would have been higher praised. No, this show was great because of the writing, acting and camera work - not just because it reminds people of The Goonies. Every character is a whole person, and the story is compact, but has enough depth to keep you interested: Perfect. It's not without its small flaws (nothing is) but comparing it to similar endeavours, such as The Walking Dead, with its never ending shifts in tone, character inconsistencies and seemingly random commitment/lack thereof to the comics and pacing, Stranger Things is a glowing beacon of what television should be. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy The Walking Dead, but it stresses me out a lot.

*cough* get to the point Talis *cough*

Alright! So I've discovered a show that I put right up there with Stranger Things, despite the subject matter being almost the polar opposite.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is wonderfully written, acted and sung, and it's damn funny to boot. Co-created by Rachel Bloom, who also plays the main character, Rebecca Bunch (I see what you did there) it tells the story of Rebecca, who moves from a high paying job in New York to West Covina, California because she ran into her summer camp sweetheart, Josh Chan. In her words:

"What happened was, I was in New York and I saw him and he made me feel all warm, like glitter was exploding inside me, and now I’m here. But I didn’t move here FOR him because that would be crazy. And I’m not crazy."

And if she is crazy, I should definitely be worried, because here are all the ways in which Rebecca Bunch is eerily similar to me:
  • She impulse moved somewhere else in order to be happy.
  • She has pretty severe anxiety and depression.
  • She's really unlucky in her relationships, but a lot of that has to do with her own issues.
  • She mentally copes with music (of all kinds).
  • She really hates talking about her feelings, unless its with her best friend.
  • She's a massive dork.
  • She's clever, but never feels clever enough, and constantly puts pressure on herself to be better.
  • She's curvy and knows the *heavy boobs* struggle. 
  • She fairly accurately represents a lot of my fears and hopes in life.
She also does some properly certifiably crazy things, so we're not that similar in that respect, but you can pretty clearly see the resemblance.

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But here's the kicker; she's written well. All the characters are. The show appears to revolve around her insane quest to get to Josh, but once you peel away the initial layer, it's so much more than that. It's about a woman struggling to come to terms with the fact that the last time she can remember truly being happy was when she was sixteen at a summer camp with Josh. It's about a woman struggling with mental illness. It's about the complex relationships between all of the characters, and the subsequent development. It's about how unlikeable someone can be, even when you agree with them, and how likeable someone can be, even when you don't. It's about a clear love of music, in all of its forms. 

It covers bisexuality, feminism, sexism, fat-shaming, modern relationships, abortion, dreams and ambitions, the crushing of dreams and ambitions, alcoholism, familial relationships, romantic relationships, friendships, existential dilemmas, mental illness, and DAMMIT this show is just so good!
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It's filmed beautifully, acted well and has a plot and believable development (for the most part). Season two is at about the halfway point, and some of the stuff that's been happening is getting a bit too real and raw, which is awesome, but also stressful. 

I can also take comfort, at least I hope I can, in the fact that the show has already plotted out seasons one through four. WHICH IS AMAZING. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THIS MEANS? 

THIS TV SHOW HAS A DIRECTION. AN OBJECTIVE. IT'S NOT JUST GOING TO DWINDLE AIMLESSLY UNTIL I HATE IT (HOPEFULLY).

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At the moment, this show is amazing, and I hope it remains that way, because there are so many programs on that I simply cannot watch anymore, or never started to begin with, because of writing that I personally believe not to be good enough for the kinds of praise it gets/got: Big Bang Theory, Gotham, Heroes (after season 1), Lost (after season 2), Fear the Walking Dead, 2 Broke Girls, Castle (after season 4/5 depending on your level of commitment to being a Nathan Fillion fan), New Girl (after season 2), Dexter (after season 1), the ending of season 3 of Sleepy Hollow, because holy shit did it make us furious, the finale of The Good Wife,the finale of True Blood... Actually, everything after season 3 and some of season 4, but especially the ending, various Law & Order, CSI etc. the finales of Quantum Leap, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Weeds, Chuck, Psych, and oh my god this is starting to get stressful!

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I could go on, but its depressing. The most depressing thing is that there are wonderful shows that get cancelled: Pushing Daisies, Freaks and Geeks, Limitless, Go On, Deadwood, Selfie, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Alphas, Firefly, Mind Games, Mixology, Surviving Jack, Franklin and Bash, Perception, I mean, guys seriously, these shows are all awesome. All of them were cancelled long before their time, or at least cancelled without resolution. I thank the rabid fans every day that we at least have Serenity for some closure for Firefly. 

This doesn't just happen in TV shows, but in book series' too, with series like Inkheart, Eragon, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, etc. being disappointing messes. Granted, those first few will NEVER reach the mind-numbingly badly written depths of Twilight and Fifty Shades, but they were at the very least disappointing in some way or another, be it ending, needless character deaths or just bad writing. Inkheart, here, being the most notable exception, due to it being actually very well written, with a  let down of an ending that made me so angry it actually ruined my day. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING, but this was a long time ago, so it might not be as bad as I recall.

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Look, I'm not saying all TV nowadays is bad - I still love so many shows, even ones that I probably shouldn't, because even some badly written shows at least have entertainment value. But shows like Lucifer, Suits, Jessica Jones, How to Get Away With Murder, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Scorpion, Bates Motel, American Horror Story, Game Of Thrones, House, Sleepy Hollow (but seriously, do not watch the season 3 finale it will fucking infuriate you), BBC's Being Human, Sense 8, Sherlock, Bob's Burgers and Scrubs JUST TO NAME A FEW, are all incredibly worthwhile and largely well-written. Especially Doctor Who which you should definitely watch, up until Peter Capaldi takes over, but honestly, that is a whole other can of worms that I will rant about later, and it all has to do with bad writing, not so much Capaldi's performance (because he's actually a brilliant actor).


Bad writing is infuriating, and good writing isn't praised enough, and I think I've figured out what I want to do with my life.......... Wow. No seriously, this might have been an epiphany rant.

Um. Yeah, I think I either want to write for TV/Movies or review them. 

Anyone got any tips on how to start a solid career in that?

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Panophobia: Chapter 2

Look, I like this word, panophobia. It rolls nicely off the tongue, it's all-encompassing, and perhaps most importantly, it's not a real thing.

PANOPHOBIA, as a concept, does not exist. So labelling my personal battles as something almost entirely unreal somehow makes it easier for me; it distances me from my issues. You may have already picked up on the fact that I'm good at distancing myself from problems, having moved across the world by myself to work things out.

But the simplest truth I can offer is that, despite my attempts to dress it up in a pretty negligee and make it do a sexy dance for aesthetic effect, I have severe anxiety and at least some form of milder depression. And that is not a fun truth to grapple with. It's hard to admit to yourself that your brain is slightly broken.

Because when someone asks, "Are you okay?"
                                                "How are you?"
                                                "Alright?"

I am forced by societal contractual obligation to lie - we all are. No-one ever wants the actual answer to that question. Here is how we all usually answer:

"How are you?"

"Fine, you?"

OR

"Yeah good, you?"

OR

"Meh, can't complain, how are you?"

Or some other variation upon those. Here is how I would answer in a dystopian future where lying is forbidden on pain of death:

"How are you?"

"Well, there isn't much I can point to as being specifically not good, but I can't shake this overwhelming feeling of dread that sits constantly in my stomach to remind me that I am not 100 percent happy. I may snatch brief, glorious moments of joy and elation, but I am always hyper-aware that at any moment, the panic and somehow simultaneous numbness will return. At the moment, however, it is quite low, so I can assuredly say that I cannot realistically complain. How are you?"

And then they would tell me all of their real world problems, like their money troubles and their family worries and their premature ejaculation, because a world with nothing but honesty would be terrible. 

This is a really difficult topic to address, because I usually don't talk about my feelings, mainly because I can't shake the guilt that accompanies those conversations. Even as the words escape my lips, I know that they probably have real world problems. 

They can't pay their mortgage, or their children are sick or they are a recovering cancer patient, and the world around has taught me that my mental battles aren't as important as their physical ones. Everyone fights their own battles, and we would be foolish to ignore that. That is how people like Trump win elections; he deliberately caters his campaign to the politically disenfraschised because he knows thay their problems are important for his success and that they feel their voices aren't heard until he comes along. It's vile and manipulative but it CLEARLY WORKS.

So that guilt at burdening someone with my invisible to the naked eye problems generally stops me from talking before I've ever opened my mouth. That's why keeping a blog helps; shouting into the void is easier than having a conversation. But that's something we all know.

The other thing that is real and tangible, but that I hate to acknowledge, is my self-rewards system.

Everyone knows what I'm talking about here - when we're children we're taught we can't have that toy unless we're good or we can't have dessert unless we eat all our vegetables, and if we pay attention, we retain that rewards system when we grow up. People channel this most obviously into dieting: you exercise every day and eat healthy so that every Friday you allow yourself a treat - a Mars Bar or a bowl of ice-cream of a night out or McDonalds etc. etc.

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I have a similar system, except mine is fundamentally flawed. I am supposed to reward myself if I make it through a particularly rough patch or overcome some mental hurdle. Unfortunately this happens pretty regularly, and in fact some days I can congratulate myself on just getting out of bed. Nevermind the days when I barely avoid a panic attack or even those days when I just continue to breathe despite every impulse in my body telling me it wouldn't matter if I stopped.

So I buy that McDonalds, because I've earned it.

I splash out on concert tickets because it's been a hellish month. 

I watch one more movie because any time not spent in my own head is a blessing. 

I buy those clothes from Primark because I should at least look good while I break down. 

So by the time my next paycheck arrives, I can justify spending all of that too. But of course I cannot continue to exist like this, I have to save money so I can actually afford to reward myself in the long term, for bigger victories. Victories like getting a job I actually want, or birthdays, and actual real-world achievements. Because we all know those are more important than the problems that only I can see.

Song of the Week: Samson - Regina Spektor
Come on, did you really think it would be anything else?

Movie of the Week: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
I stil haven't see Fantastic Beasts, so in the meantime I've been rewatching the series. It's still just as good as the first 500 times. And it's only after the third one that any major plot points get cut out of the films, so I'm gonna ride this wave of novel inclusiveness all the way until Cho and Harry's romance, Harry and Ginny's weird kiss, not enough Dobby, and Dumbledore shouting:
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Book of the Week: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Movie version)
I have owned the tiny fake text book with the same title since it was released, with all of Hermione, Ron and Hagrid's scribblings in the margins, but I recently bought the book with the story from the film and am thoroughly enjoying it: highly recommend.
Photo of the Week:

Me with Megan and Edmund, the two gorgeous kids I babysit. I wrote a long post on instagram about Trump under this photo, so if you'd like to check it out: https://www.instagram.com/p/BMoo7h5jhpU/?taken-by=talis_bluebox_99&hl=en

Positivity Goal of the Week: Make sure you're taking cqre of yourself properly.
But don't use words like "self-care" because it makes you sound like a twat. Just keep an eye on your habits and make sure you're okay. Love you all. xxx