A Quick Meditation on Aloneness

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Whoever first said that loneliness is crippling was right on the money. It stops you in your tracks, takes everything out your hands and leaves you to burn, curling in at the edges with a hot sadness.

Contrary to popular belief, loneliness can strike anyone. A person who seems confident, a person in a loving relationship, a ‘popular’ person… it can chip away at their confidence, their self esteem, until they are unsure, sad, insecure, shrunken shrines to the people they remember once being. Those who are the best at hiding their loneliness often are the most scared of it. There’s not always a particular cause – though for some there is. For example: It can be exhausting to love somebody who you feel doesn’t love you nearly half as much as you love them. Whether this feeling has any truth to it or not, the mere nagging thought can rot you.

The loneliness within may crave more attention, more love but it also pushes it away -One word can tip you over the edge. But so can one silence; one missing response, one astray reassurance. It can be difficult to articulate. If only you could be more chill, less uptight- stop taking things to heart, so personally. But this is what the solitude has inspired. Someone looks at you the wrong way and you feel tears well, your throat ache with the anticipation of the out-pour from your eyes.  Crying seems like a plausible solution, but sometimes you feel like crying and you can’t – which in ways is worse. You could be surrounded by people and still feel totally alone; In fact, sometimes being surrounded by people can reassert how deep, how close to the core your loneliness is. If anything it seems to prove your isolation, your alienation – you’re no longer part of the club – there’s no space for you, you don’t belong. Burrowing, gnawing, festering aloneness –– which I think is a much more accurate term for the feeling than loneliness, it seems to better summarise this lost singularity.

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Guilt, isolation, jealousy, transparency, questioning your very existence, uncertainty, panic, alienation, incapability – a cocktail of undesirable emotions, a perfect recipe for all consuming self-loathing; A growing disillusionment with the world in general is alarming alone, but becoming disconnected to your self seems cause for a breakdown. A distinct feeling of otherness like a guest in your own body, your own mind. As if you’d been reassembled and nothing is quite where it should be, nothing quite fits. Plummeting self worth accompanies this punishing solitude – as if the tide is coming in when you’re stuck in a hole, making it harder and harder for you to pull yourself out, the sand walls changing under your grasp. I guess aloneness is like drifting out to sea. The current too strong, so you’re left floating aimlessly, being pulled to nothing and no one, helplessly drifting into immeasurable emptiness.

You read Murakami, Sputnik Sweethearts, and you relate so much it hurts your soul, but you don’t know what the answer is. Neither do I. I hope I find out soon. But maybe, just for now, its enough to know someone else feels this way too. In fact – you’re not alone.

HBO Girls Review: ‘Together’ (2×10)

The second season of Lena Dunham’s Girls came to a disappoint climax last night, in the finale ‘Together’, which made a lame, trite effort to tie together a tempestuous season of  sex, drugs and serious soul searching for all characters involved. Girls-Season-2-Episode-10-Together-4

The episode opens with OCD riddled Hannah with an intense appointment with Doctor Google following a serious spurt of ear-related hypochondria expands into just general distrust that her body won’t do what it’s meant/will do what it’s not meant to do (e.g. stop breathing). Hannah’s sassy book editor calls her to bust her ass about her lack of work – she resolves to write the entire thing in a day. Of course, the next shot of Hannah we get is her eating Cool Whip and reading a magazine.

Marnie and Charlie are back together – well, Charlie wasn’t so sure it seemed going by his reaction to her saying that they had reached their ‘end point’ and were now ‘old fogeys.’ Marnie makes a scene after misinterpreting his hesitation after her ‘we’ll be together forever’ spiel. Literally huffing as she storms off, arms folded like a child told she can’t eat dessert before lunch Charlie chases after her, and it’s sadly reminiscent of the puppy-esque boring Charlie of Season One that Marnie fell so spectacularly out of love with. Initially, Marnie’s want to make him snacks and have his ‘brown babies’ seems sweet. I agree that motherhood is a worthy life ambition – but it doesn’t seem authentically what Marnie wants. Perhaps she’s come to a realisation, a true epiphany that her vocation is motherhood- or maybe she just said what she thought Charlie wanted to hear? Or maybe she really does think this is what she wants to do with her life. Just as she thought she wanted to be an art curator, or a singer. Charlie admitting that he only ever wanted to hear Marnie say that seems genuine enough, although in last week’s episode his pity and contempt for Marnie which has been blatant through this series makes his love questionable? Marnie is unquestionably vain – “Really? You don’t want to date me? This is your last chance.”  She shouts across the restaurant (which is playing a nice bit of Jake Bugg) as if to say, please, I’m way too hot for rejection. This series Marnie should’ve learnt that her looks are unimportant – they got her a hostess job, the sexual advances of Booth Jonathon (creepy doll sex artist guy) – neither of which brought her any real happiness. However, all she’s done is claw back Charlie – Charlie who brags about his money that Marnie talks about a bit too much to genuinely not care about it. Maybe Marnie will become a gold digger in Season Three, of which a 13 episode long series has been commissioned, although surely we’ve already had that with poor old Jessa and her Creepy Capitalist husband Thomas-John.

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                Previous to this scene, Charlie is, erm, in clinical terms, performing oral sex on Marnie who becomes paranoid about the scale of his improvement in the sack, and manically and pointedly asked how many people he’s slept with since their break up.  Ray and Shoshanna are also having sex, Shoshanna asks him to finish up, but Ray won’t ‘finish’ unless she ‘finishes’ – and Shosh ain’t finishing any time soon. Shoshanna is wracked with guilt, and she’s taking it out on Ray as aggression, pushing him away as far as possible. Adam is also getting his end away, with straight forward, beautiful and badly treated Natalia. After his treatment – he eventually seems to choose Hannah over Natalia, when really- he never deserved the choice in the first place. He calls her a whore when she replies that yes, she is enjoying his dick, thank you very much – and she tells him she can enjoy his dick without being a whore – and she wants to make it crystal fucking clear. Natalia doesn’t play games, and it seems that Adam has no remorse for last week’s sexual transgression, seeing as he’s happy to verbally degrade her during sex.

Marnie calls in on Hannah, but Hannah hides next to her bed. Hannah and Marnie’s friendship has always been an odd one, but their lack of communication this season seems to question their label of ‘best friends’ – best friends should stick with each other through anything, putting each other in front of themselves, but Marnie and Hannah have hidden their struggles from each other. Marnie only visits Hannah when she has something to boast about, not because she has a problem – not because she needs Hannah – or even because she thinks Hannah needs her – Marnie also obviously thinks Hannah’s under the bed – why doesn’t she look if she’s so worried about her? And on her way out, she takes a candle stick holder – as if she had the ulterior motive of getting the rest of her belongs from her old house.

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                Ray. Ray, how I love you. Worried about Shoshanna’s growing distance from him, he attempts to make changes to his life, addressing the problems she addresses – namely, his lack of ambition. Initially, he wants to finish his ‘Latin Studies PHD’ (which is not a course I would had put him down to study), but instead he accepts the offer of manager (or district chief logistics and operations supervisor/developmental operations coordinator) of a nice up-market Brooklyn Grumpy’s and the hint of inheriting the company, or at least a top ranking job, due to his bosses ‘internal issues’ (which could be a euphemism for his own personal health problems, if not internal  issues in the business itself) – his boss who I wish we’d seen more of, with his quips about Shosh’s bread product bags. Things seem to be looking up for Ray, he’s excited to tell Shosh – thinking she’ll be excited that he’s taking some initiative, making his life change for the better. And how does she react with the news? By breaking up with him. I’ve always had a soft spot for Shoshanna, but ever since he cheated on her, I’ve just been harvesting continuous disappointment.

I wouldn’t be surprised if next season she tries to get Ray back – after she grows bored of meaningless flings with boys who she means nothing to. Gone is the scared virgin of Season One, and in her place is a very confused young woman. She screams “do you even know me?” when Ray asks if there’s another guy – a tall blond Scandinavian type. However, later we see her drunkenly kissing this exact description in a bar. Is she doing this to spite Ray? Or is she losing herself, going against the ideals she’s always held herself to.  How can Ray know her, if she doesn’t know herself? I hope Ray is in the next season, and I hope he doesn’t change.

Hannah attempts to replicate Carey Mulligan’s cute crew cut, and butchers her hair (Lena Dunham’s own hair is being cut I believe) and she turns to the junkie she used for sex tries to fix her – her hair at least, but just exacerbates the problem. Earlier Hannah rang home to ask her Dad to give her money, so she can pay back her advance, relieving the editor’s pressure- he refuses.

It seems like Hannah needs a man to save her. Her Dad can’t (or, at least, won’t) save her. Laird the junkie can’t save her (especially not her hair). She talks about how when she was younger she’d break glass, and someone would clean it up for her, worrying that she’d get cut – but now no one cares. No one’s there to pick up the pieces. Thank God Laird calls her out on her bullshit, when she interprets his human decency for a sexual advance -he calls her “the most self-involved, presumptuous person I have ever met.” She then admits “I didn’t think of you as a person and I understand now that was wrong.”

What I would’ve liked to see now would be for Hannah to crack on and write her book, at least a chapter or two – thus far she’s written one line, which Marnie reads when she’s in the flat: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance…” (which seems ironic in comparison to how this episode actually ends). She speaks to Marnie. She takes her meds. No men involved. She feels optimistic.

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But Hannah wants to be protected. She finally calls Adam, who (despite his the fact his lovely girlfriend Natalia has forgotten his ‘maybe yes probably rape’) is destroying a ship he’s been building in his apartment since the shows conception. Adam runs topless through New York, literally dropping everything, to get to Hannah who needs him help, like a freaking Ryan Gosling Rom-Com Hero. I don’t buy Adam as the romantic hero; did he not just rape someone last week? This ending is purely a self-indulgent act of giving in to conventions of the less than respectable genre of romcom. If Lena Dunham is the feminist icon, the voice of a generation –how can she forget Adam’s transgression? The whole episode is rushed, but this end really left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

In the second episode of this season, Hannah calls the police when Adam enters her apartment without invitation; however, this time Adam literally kicks her apartment door down when she won’t let him in, and we’re meant to view this happy for the couple? The couple who just didn’t work? I don’t feel like Marnie and Charlie really deserve happiness. Neither do Hannah and Adam. Do you know who does? FUCKING RAY. Hannah’s writing block and ‘OCDC’ situation remain unresolved – her promise to write pages for her editor has been broken. She relinquishes responsibilities and hides in Adam’s arms from the big scary world. Shosh seems to have thrown her toys out the pram, Jessa ran away from her problems, Marnie huffed and got what she wanted, Hannah hide from her problems only to be pulled out and cradled by dominant Adam, who repeatedly calls her kid. Why are all these Girls represented as children?

Thought Catalog

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By now, most of us have heard of what happened in Steubenville last August. We have heard about the party, about the culture of football-players-as-gods, we’ve heard about the attempts at covering it up. And while it has always been hard to read about what was happening without an enormous feeling of frustration over how the issue was being spun by those in control, there was some comfort in knowing that a few of Jane Doe’s attackers were seeing court and possible sentencing. While it is clear that her safety and peace of mind will be in serious jeopardy for some time, we could still hold onto the idea that some kind of justice was being served.

But it has become clear — from the fact that only two of her many attackers ever saw a courtroom, and from how light their sentences have proven to be (it is likely…

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Fierce Fabulous Female Fictional Fashion Icons: #1: Velma Kelly

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Sassy, stylish and a murderer, an all-singing, all-dancing murderess (played fabulously by Catherine Zeta Jones) Chicago’s Velma Kelly rocks a killer wardrobe. Warning: this expensive lady has expensive tastes.

ImageDress: French Connection, £425 (020 7036 7200)

Embroidered Black Silk Coat with Fur Collar: Price on Request

Shoes: Etro, £835 {020 7493 9004)

Necklace: Ashiana at accessoriesdirect.com, £35

1920s Onyx Signet Ring, 10K Gold Filigree: Erie Basin Antiques: $200-500

Bag: Lanvin at Selfridges, £820

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(500) Days of Summer and Debunking the Friendzone Myth

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Released in 2009, (500) Days of Summer was an offbeat indie ‘anti-romcom’ box office hit, catapulting Zooey Deschannel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to international stardom. The film is peppered with great dialogue and scenes, such as the choreographed musical routine to ultimate feel good tune-  Hall and Oates’ ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’, which marching band and animated birds and a winking Han Solo ‘ This is followed which is followed in a stunning juxtaposition with scenes of moping, self pitying Tom. The nonlinear structure of the film gives it the spice of difference while remaining in the popular market. However, the way in which it is interpreted as showing the ‘friendzone.’

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Tom meets Summer working in an office, writing cards – ironic, as the industry perpetuates ideologies to the masses. Tom says, after his Summer fling (ha ha) “These cards, and the movies and the pop songs, they’re to blame for all the lies and the heartache, everything. We’re responsible. I’M responsible. I think we do a bad thing here. People should be able to say how they feel, how they really feel, not ya know, some words that some stranger put in their mouth. Words like love, that don’t mean anything.” But its Tom’s buying into the idea of the ‘nice guy’ and the idea that somehow he deserves a relationship with Summer, though despite her outright telling him she wasn’t interested in a long term monogamous relationship with him.

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They argue:

Summer: We’re just fr… 

Tom: [Interrupting]
No! Don’t pull that with me! This is not how you treat your friend! Kissing in the copy room? Holding hands in IKEA? Shower sex? Come on! Friends my balls!

Despite Tom’s feelings, its hard to subjectively blame Summer. She was clear with Tom on the point- she even tells him she doesn’t believe in love– and he agrees to her terms. Let me repeat: HE AGREES TO HER TERMS. Any substance to his argument that Summer is in the wrong has fallen flat. Summer is constructed of contradictions – as most people are. People change, people do things that aren’t ‘them’ (i.e “That’s so not me, I can’t believe I did that”) – as Iain S. Thomas said “I keep wondering, how many people do you need to be, before you can become yourself.

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Often the audience demonises Summer, calling her a ‘bitch’, ‘slut’, a ‘cocktease’ or whatever, but the fact is, he agreed to not being in the kind of relationship he wanted – so why should he have the right to insult her? Why should the audience? Perhaps it’s because we see the story from Tom’s vantage point, its easier to side with the person who’s shoes you’re walking in. If we saw from Summer’s angle, perhaps we’d had thought differently. She meets a boy – Tom – he’s great, but somethings missing. She’s straight with him, and rather than continue to lead him on, she finishes it and unintentionally breaks his heart, and he can’t let go. Then she meets someone else someone, as she says who made her certain of what she was never certain with, with Tom. A whole new love story, that ends with a wedding and the attempted rekindling of a friendship with Tom, despite his nasty words born from selfpity. Also, the Author’s Note at the start of the film sets us up to dislike the girl, without even knowing who she is or what she has done. The ‘fuck you’ also suggests that the Tom’s real life counterpart is still hurt, or at least still bitter. Summer is set up as a bitch, so its unsurprising the audience think her a bitch.

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A guy and a girl can be just be friends, but at one point or another, they’ll fall for each other…maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever.” This statement is ridiculous – the idea that no one can have friends of the other gender. There isn’t even a way to articulate how wrong this statement is, because it’s just ridiculous.

Hollywood perpetuates this idea that casual sex doesn’t work, especially between friends, as films like Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached prove. Films which have essentially the same story line – boy and girl meet, are attracted to each other, don’t want serious relationships but want to get laid, they develop feelings for each other, and they can’t continue unless they commit to a traditional monogamous relationship.

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However, Joseph Gordan-Levitt, who plays Tom, gave an interview to Playboy magazine in which he questioned this romanticised view of Tom as the celebrated ‘nice guy’ and Summer as the ‘bitch’, even if others who worked on the film felt that was the right reading – as the aforementioned Author’s Note would suggest.

“The (500) Days of Summer attitude of “He wants you so bad” seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones, but I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is. He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.

No, I really liked that movie. The coming-of-age story is subtly done, and that’s great, because nothing’s worse than an over-the-top, cheesy, hitting-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer, moral-of-the-story sort of thing. But a part of the movie that’s less talked about is that once Zooey’s character dumps the guy, he builds himself up without the crutch of a fantasy relationship, and he meets a new girl.

Making checklists of things you’re looking for in a person is the numero uno thing you can do to guarantee you’ll be alone forever. You can’t meet someone and think, Do they have everything I want in a person? You just have to pay attention, keep your eyes open, listen to people and be present. I guess what I look for in a girl is someone who’s doing that too. Beyond that there’s not much more I would specify, because you never fucking know, man.”

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Levitt raises multiple intelligent points on this idea of ‘friendzoning’ and the ‘nice guy’, although he extends it outside of gender – which I think it good. Boys can be put into these situations too. However, the nice guy is undeniably a feminist issue. The idea of the ‘nice guy finishing last’ is ridiculous. Doing nice things for a female friend when you’re sober is embarrassing because it apparently shows that you’re friendzoned – and those who are nice to their girlfriends are ‘whipped’ – however, girls who help their male friends and/or are nice to their boyfriends are just doing the expected. There is no female equivalent to this, though girls may adopt the ‘friendzone’/’whipped’ to apply to their own situation. Often girls will complain that a guy’s ‘too nice’, or that she loves a ‘bad boy’ – the ideology has manifested itself in women too, however, the majority of women in happy relationships would most likely agree that men being ‘nice guys’ are paramount to successful relationships. The idea of the ‘friendzone’ demonizes the woman’s right to say no, and the idea that a woman is doing something wrong, rather than a man being fairly rejected massages the male ego, and to a certain extent perpetuates rape culture. Often these guys suffering from ‘Nice Guy Syndrome’ aren’t nice guys at all – women are not machines that you put nice actions into and sex comes out, as one  internet meme proclaims.Yes, we may empathise with Tom’s position, seeing past or present versions of ourselves in his self pity and his rejection. But does that mean this film proves the friendzone/’nice guys finish last’ myths true? Does it fuck.

Changing Tides: What Frank Ocean Means for the Industry

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Around a year ago, Frank Ocean published a letter via his tumblr, revealing the truth of his sexuality. Here’s the post, but to narrow it down, the section

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I’d highlight is: “4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realised I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping,

no negotiating to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with.”

Heartwarmingly enough, Ocean’s opening up about his sexuality was widely supported by fans and fellow celebrities alike, to mention but a few Ed Sheeran, Mac Miller, Example, Scissor Sister Jake Shears, Pete Wentz and Beyonce posted the following picture to her tumblr:

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As a member of a group previously accused of homophobia, Ocean’s fellow OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, also known as Odd Future) members came out in full support, including manager Kelly Clancy, Hodgy Beats and Tyler the Creator voiced how proud he was in his own way, perhaps a nod to the head to Ocean’s previous hint in Odd Future Song Oldie.

A couple of celebrities published blog entries in support of Ocean, including Jay Z , who wrote “We admire the great courage and beauty and fearlessness in your coming out, not only as a bisexual Black man, but as a broken hearted one. The tender irony that your letter is to a boy who was unable to return your love until years later because he was living a lie is the only truly tragic detail about your letter” and Russell Simmons wrote: “Today is a big day for hip-hop. I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear… His gifts are undeniable. His talent, enormous. His bravery, incredible. His actions this morning will uplift our consciousness and allow us to become better people.”

There’s been overwhelming support for Ocean, marred only by the alleged slur from sexist, homophobic, convicted spouse abuser and general waste-of-space Chris Brown, whose accepted return to the spotlight confounds me.

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Alongside his record sales, Frank Ocean’s Grammy – he won Best Urban Contemporary Album (Channel Orange) and Best Sung/Rapped Collaboration (No Church in the Wild) – and Brit win (for Best International Male) do speak to growing acceptance of untraditional sexuality orientation in the music industry and wider industry. Other ‘out’ bisexual celebrities include P!nk, Azealia Banks, Drew Barrymore, Megan Fox, Jessie J, Lindsay Lohan, Nicki Minaj, Billie Joe Armstrong, Evan Rachel Wood, Anna Paquin, Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie (a list, noticeably almost exclusively white, female, already hyper-sexualised in the press and/or with long term partners of the opposite sex). ‘Coming out the closet’ is a risky business, as actor Rupert Everett found after he came out as gay. He said:
“It’s not very easy. And, honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out [..] The fact is you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business. It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point […] I think, all in all, I’m probably much happier than they are. I may not be as rich or successful, but at least I’m vaguely free to be myself.”

Those who may disagree with Everett, may refer to his roles: previous his coming out in 1989, he played
Woman hungry Tim, Knight Lancelot, compared to more recent post-coming out roles, such as the stereotypical gay best friend of Julia Roberts George and female headmistress of St. Trinians, Camilla.
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In comparison, Ocean seems to be a success story, however he is no longstanding icon like, say, Elton John. Frank Ocean’s music is truly outstanding. Vulnerable and yet strong, Thinkin’ Bout You, Bad Religion and Forrest Gump are highlights, saturated with emotion  Ocean’s beats retain their toughness and softness with audio clips from the beginning of Not Just Money, that are reminiscent of the mother of anyone growing up with a mother who was short on cash, and the importance of the connotations of money. Bad Religion feels naked, its artful and serves as a poignant but undeniably painful reminder of heartbreak and everything that comes along with it. One to add with Someone Like You to the heartbreak playlist. Ocean is a story teller, which is clear through songs like Crack Rock and Pyramids.  Each song is beautiful in its own right, and as a collective body of work Ocean’s mixtape-feel album Channel Orange is astonishing, highlighted by his carefully selected collaborations.

Should Ocean’s sexuality fuel how we read his music? Maybe. Maybe not. But due to the nature of the culture of celebrity, this is inevitable. Ocean seems a promising up and comer, a bright beacon of hope especially in the Black LGBTU Community However, Ocean’s long term effect is yet to be shown.

HBO Girls Review: ‘On All Fours’ (2×9)

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The most uncomfortable episode of Girls to date, this week’s installation isn’t for the fainthearted. In last week’s episode, I was surprised at how happy I was for Adam that his life was getting back on track – this week I was reminded why it was surprising. Adam isn’t an affable chap. The juxtaposition of sweet and straightforward Natalia’s hooking up after a Sandra Bullock movie with the arguably Hannah-inspired boozed up, perverse borderline rape (or just rape? I think it was just rape) highlights this. Natalia is too good for Adam, and I hope she realises this after that assault, especially made nasty by his unwanted ejaculation onto her chest, beating off to the sound of her asking him not to, and then cleaning his semen off her chest with his shirt. Left with a bad taste in your mouth, Adam’s degradation of Natalia highlights his own flaws, and though I’m not a fan of Hannah, I can’t say I blame their two minute long interaction for his relapse or behaviour with Natalia, though it’s clearly reminiscent of their relationship. I would also argue with those who romanticise this with the idea that Hannah and Adam are fated to be together. I’m quite concerned this is where the plot’s going to end up, and I think the benefits that Adam’s life saw by the absence of Hannah highlighted the brutal fact they’re better off without each other. As little as I like Hannah, she’s no Adam. She hasn’t done anything too awful; she’s just a bit of a dick. Hannah’s the kind of person I wouldn’t want to be friends with, but I sometimes I relate to – and that scares me. Hannah and Adam drive each other mad, but not in a Noah and Allie the Notebook way – in a shove Q Tips in my ear kind of way.

Not that I blame Adam for the resurge of Hannah (who we may as well call Lena due to ridiculous the biographical context of the show, the girl truly took the ‘write what you know’ method to the nth degree)’s OCD. Which I have a slight issue with; although, apparently Dunham has hit the OCD nail on the head (eight times, I would imagine), I found the sudden resurfacing of her childhood illness oddly absent and without indication in episodes previous to episode eight: ‘It’s Back.’ But hey, I’m no expert. Hannah’s hit a brick wall. Virtually friendless (Jessa’s continued absence, while unmentioned, is felt), sexless, and as much as she likes the idea that she’s writing a book, and how often she lies that its going great, the only change the book deal has brought on Hannah is acute anxiety. Add to that her ex’s new serious grown-up girlfriend, and it’s enough for a lot of us to stick a Q-tip in our ears.  I was balking my through the whole Q-Tip debacle, however does show the serious extent of the mental illness, which is often mitigated in the media.

Of course, Dunham doesn’t get everything right. The not entirely inconspicuous lack of ethnic minorities in Girls has been shabbily addressed over this second series threw the token half arsed small parts of Sandy-the-Black-Republican (the lovely Donald Glover), Shoshanna’s rich Hindi Radhika and this week’s Indian Doctor. Dunham argues that the lack of ethnic minorities in her show is due to her ‘write what you know’ – which seems a hard pill to swallow. I doubt many living in Brooklyn have never come into contact with ethnic minorities – which is probably not what she’s saying, but it seems a pretty tired excuse nonetheless. “If I wanted to watch a show about privileged white girls, I’d just live my own life” I remember reading on tumblr.

One of the most beautiful blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments on this week’s was pre-Marnie karaoke disaster (which I’ll get to), when a female extra is crying on her phone, with no exceptions. It highlights that these are just glimpses of the stories of a handful of people, and each person in that room – though periphery in this case – are the protagonists of their own stories.

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Why Marnie, just WHY? Charlie, same question applies. Marnie’s without-a-hint-of-irony white girl Kanye cover wasn’t exactly an aphrodisiac – so why Charlie? Is it because she has a manic ‘I’M FINE SERIOUSLY EVERYONE LOOK HOW FINE I AM’ glint in her big doe eyes, reminiscent of a 60’s housewife’s failing marriage? Does that do it for you? A pity fuck? To be fair, I don’t know if many straight men could turn down an opportunity to have office desk sex with Allison Williams (even if she has too many l’s in her name). I’m not sure I could, to be honest. I don’t see this ending well, as I’m sure Marnie probably would, through her Disney princess rose-tinted lenses. Shoshanna totally has a point, I should add. Charlie does look the hottest he’s been – gone is the puppy and the shaved headed youth of serious one. On trains on opposite directions of life, Marnie’s going backwards while Charlie’s rocketing forward, which was made painfully obvious in the previous episode, when she rocked up to Charlie’s office in her trackies.

Marnie’s love of singing seems passionless and contrived – which may just be the point. Sure, she’s not exactly got the stage presence of Ray’s beloved Katy Perry, but her voice is nice enough. Her heart, however, doesn’t seem to be in it. “Lay down a track” sounds awkward and embarrassing in her mouth, she’s reminiscent of the staple rich white girl of My Sweet Sixteen that wants to be a popstar. Just, you know, because. And Charlie, as hot as he is,  seems now with the whole app-success like the Justin Timberlake douche character in The Social Network.

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Ray’s right to mock him for being a sell out. Hey, some of those  girls may well have been hookers. I didn’t like Series One Ray, but he’s grown on me – dug his roots deep. I still love Ray the most, this episode. He’s a dick, but Charlie’s right – that’s just the way he is. He’s Ray. Shosh shouldn’t have approached their relationship, well him in it, anyway, as a fixer upper. It’s a mistake many girls like her, sweet, naive and optimistic, have made and will make. I kind of love that he’s a dick- especially when he’s ripping that guy who’s speaking to Shosh about restaurants, it was a needed laugh in this week’s episode. I still hold a place in my heart for Shoshanna, but DAMN IT SHOSH. You held the doorman’s hand? Seriously?! I found cheating on Ray unneedly harsh, I liked their relationship, if he could accept her insanely quirky unable to shut up or style an acceptable hairstyle ways, why shouldn’t she accept that he’s a dick. He cares for her, he lets her know he cares for her – he’s still finding his way, but it’s not like that’s unusual. He’s a nice guy at heart, I mean, he wooed for Marnie, didn’t he? I couldn’t seem him ever hurt Shosh. But I guess anything could happen next week.

I will track down Lena Dunham if she ruins Ray.

The Decay of Skins

When Skins first graced our screens in 2007, it was groundbreaking.

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I watched it. I probably shouldn’t have, seeing as at the time I was 14. The first episode was layered and layered with shock value – wanking, drugs, sex, booze, prostitutes, an overdose – you name it. Of course the press cried out in disgust, condemning the show, but that seems to be the signifier of greatness, these days. As series one progressed the main protagonist, Tony – who’s set up as the ring leader of the young hedonist troupe – slowly loses his friends, due mainly to the fact he is a total prick. He embodies the reality of ‘lad’ culture, in part. Yes, he gets the girls, maintains top physique through rigorous exercise, uses his geeky sidekick Sid and his long suffering, highly strung Dad as punching bags and regularly intoxicated. But the smartarse finds, shock horror, if you act like that much of a dick to a person, you can’t just pass it off as a charming intrinsic part of your personality. You best friend will have enough of you, your girlfriend will leave you when you’ve treated her like shit for so long, especially if you go down on your gay mate in front of her. In the end, Tony is left with nothing. Oh, and then he’s hit by a bus. More than just a teen drama, Skins served to display how popular media representations are ridiculous – which ridiculed the journalists who peddled them, but also the teens that admired and aspired to them. Both genuinely funny and genuinely poignant at times, skins hit a fine balance, which was difficult to recreate. Series Two, while not a patch on the original series, displayed a valiant effort. In binary opposition to the Tony of Series One, series two juxtaposes him with a helpless, pityingly pathetic and sweet childlike Tony. The death of Chris was maybe unneeded, but heartbreaking nonetheless, emphasising the emotion of Jal’s storyline. The performances of the largely inexperienced cast are outstanding, and the largely inexperienced writers made some great, memorable TV.

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Series 3 largely left me with a bad taste in my mouth. With the exception of the first-love lesbian Naomi and Emily storyline, which I totally fell in love with, I didn’t much care for many of the characters, especially not the chief character, Effy. The writers seemed to romanticise depression in her, the tortured, effortlessly cool and beautiful girl that you can’t help but love, no matter how many times you push her away… honestly, it just pissed me off. She was a two dimensional rose tinted idea, but unlike Tony, there is no real display that her harsh treatments of her ‘friends’ and the boys who chase after her, endlessly, resulted in any consequences on her. Poor Panda. Effy treated her like shit, she was lonely with a mad mum and a extradited boyfriend, and the moment she gives into Cook’s seduction, Effy crucifies her – Cook, who Effy repeatedly threw aside like a shitty nappy. Series 4 seem to devolve into poorly planned chaos, with the ridiculous murderous psychologist, which arguably demonises help available for the depressed; which is ridiculous. If anything, glorify psychologists, because they help the mentally ill a lot more than letting the issue fester. Why they thought asserting a distrust in psychologists to a impressionable demographic was a worthy idea is frankly mystifying to me. In its defense, I did find the “Katie Fucking Fitch” episode a surprise masterstroke,  tackling a subject that while not an obvious choice, was highly emotive and highly relatable. Katie’s reaction to her barren womb was expertly written, and tear rendering- hitting home a fear of the future, and that a huge life decision she had taken for granted, one she probably would thought, in the periphery of her mind, she’d always choose, was snatched away. The problems of Emily, who had consistently been the more likable twin, seem ridiculous in this comparative context, and the audience really grows a unexpected soft spot for sassy, tough but undeniably vulnerable Katie Fitch.

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The mess of Season 5 and 6 aren’t truly even worth mentioning. Less than tactful approach to eating disorder, from Cassie to Mini, which hardly seemed a footnote in her personality and with her pregnancy its swept under the carpet, unlike Cassie, who’s loneliness and deep rooted desire of some form of control in her life had consumed her and corroded her mental well being. Also a Mini is a car, Minnie is a name. Franky is consistently unlikable, her storyline seems to a total inversion of Tony’s – from social outcast, her arrogance grows and the boys throw themselves at herself destructive nature. The cast are bland, with a few likable traits in Rich, Liv, Alo and Grace, though both the wedding and death of Grace seem ridiculous. The cast as a whole are (and I know this seems a ridiculous point) just way too attractive. Series One dealt with ordinary looking people. Yes, you might think them beautiful, but they wouldn’t look out of place walking into your six form. However, if 6 foot blond Mini or the embodiment of macho Matty graced your 9am Philosophy class, you’d know about it.

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Viewers of the show can hardly be blamed for missing the point: skins isn’t meant to glorify this drugs and – the writers seem to have forgot that themselves, opting for popularity over quality and maintaining the idea of ‘cool’ that the first series exposed as ridiculous in the first place.The future of skins is allegedly a blend of past characters initially seems appealing. I liked the idea of finding out what the cast of series one has got up to, as Sketch and Anwar, in their final episode, play the five year game – guessing where their friends will be and what they’ll be doing five years on from that date. That episode showed in 2008, and airing in March 2013, this will show if he was right. I guess they win in the end, though. I have seen every episode because as bad as it’s got, watching skins just seems to be a habit I keep at. And though I don’t have high hopes for season 7, I reserve judgement- naively hoping for my expectations to be wrongly low.

Why International Women’s Day pisses me off

Uh these people making sexist jokes about international women’s day aren’t even trying. Yes, it’s the eighth of March today – also known by many (thanks to Google) as International Women’s Day, and of course twitter is rife with sexist jokes. I’m going to be a little controversial here but…. I don’t mind sexist jokes. Well, not if they’re funny. Uh, this is where some of the diehard feminists may get mad at me, but honestly, I don’t. I don’t think drawing lines in comedy about who you can and can’t make jokes about is beneficial. I don’t take personally a joke if it is a) funny and b) not intended as mean. Obviously, it’s easier to be funny and maintain no traces of cruelty in some areas than others, but that’s the nature of the beast. Some people who slate modern day comedians’ vulgarity will praise Monty Python and Dudley Moore and Peter Cook as comedy Gods.

            What offends me, now what really riles me, disgusts me in every which way possible is a bad joke. A bad, needlessly offensive joke. A joke that leaves that nasty tang in the back of your throat. A joke that makes you both be repulsed by and simultaneously pity the joke teller. And that’s bulk of these online jabs at International Women’s Day, which can be summarized pretty universally in:

“huh huh sniffle sniffle kitchen ha ha wank wank womens day haha”

A bad joke is just sad, really. Myself, I went with “Shout out my fine ass bitches this international women’s day” Vulga? Yes. Offensive? Not intentionally, but I guess it could be received as. But Ironic? Oh yes, I like to think the irony of the sentiment overshadows it all. And the reaction I got from it (as of yet) has been entirely positive, and almost entirely female.

“Why isn’t there an international men’s day????” Some cry. Oh the injustice of it all! Well, there is. November 19th. Well that and every other day.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day (in the UK at least) and this has led to a few twitter’s wondering what’s the need for both day? Uh the fact that an International Women’s day is equated with Mother’s Day is dishearteningly depressing in itself, suggesting what it is to be a woman is to be a Mother. I think Motherhood should be celebrated, and Mother’s day is great for that; but I equally respect a women’s right to chose whether she has or doesn’t have children. I don’t think not having children makes a woman less of a woman. I mean, just look at Condalezza Rice, Angela Merkel, Hilary Clinton… Oprah – just as I don’t think having children should make you any less professionally successful, as mothers of two, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, executive editor of The New York Times Ellen Abramson and prominent Indian politician Sonia Gandhi.

I imagine these men (or should I say boys, because I do think the title of ‘man’ has too many positive connotations for some of these pricks)  to be the type of men who say they always get ‘friend zoned’ and that ‘nice guys always finish last’ and I must say that personally, the self declaring ‘nice guy is a) b) you’re probably not a nice guy if you have to declare it. Also I get mildly irritated by some of the ‘male white feminists’, because as much as I know their hearts must be in the right place, and I do appreciate the support for women’s rights – sometimes, the minority, can seem… a little, well, patronising. And you know what? I even feel bad for writing this, but sometimes it can seem like they’re on the other end of the nice guy spectrum – oooh, look at me, helping with your rights, I hope you appreciate this lil ladies! Look! I’m a nice guy! – OH GOD MALE FEMINISTS I LOVE YOU REALLY PLEASE DON’T TELL YOUR LEADER (Ryan Gosling) I SAID THIS I’M SORRY.

A lot of the argument I get against women is that they can’t be equal, because they’re physically not – which I guess is true. Men are stronger and faster, as many boys argue at me. Oh yes, because we’re all running around to catch our food these days. I think there’s an issue with the way in which Feminism is perceived. Oh yes, I said it, that buzzword that repulses men and women alike – conjuring up images of middle aged women wearing open-toed sandals, with hair prominent on every surface. Well, this is what comes into the minds of those who don’t understand what feminism is. Beyonce said once in an interview that Feminism needs a new name – she opted for Bootilicious. Where I don’t particularly agree with reducing the movement down to a song about her ass, I see her point to an extent. Women often happily declare they support equal rights for women but sternly assert I AM NOT A FEMINIST – well, my dear, I’m afraid you are. The opposition of Feminism by women, and its ridiculing representation in the media really does mute what feminism is trying to say. We’re all the mother (Mrs. Banks) from Mary Poppins, middle class white girls forgetting the responsibilities of the domestic to go have jolly good fun at the rallies, while good women, like the ‘practically perfect in every way’ idealized Mary Poppins – although, in herself Mary is an independent self sustaining woman, who does not end up married dutifully to the poorly accented rapscallion, Burt. See, nothing is simple. Mary’s both a feminist icon and an enemy.

In itself, International Women’s Day is great. I’m all for a day celebrating the vast, contrasting cultures and the consistent importance of women throughout the world. But I knew some pricks would ruin it. And that just pisses me off.

This Comes to Pass, When A Blog is Born

This Comes to Pass, When A Blog is Born

Hello there friends!
Well this is it. Day one. A new dawn of a new day. The first post of a new blog. Who knows what the future holds for us! A life changing experience? A manifesto to touch and change the life of millions? A few pathetic attempts at humorous but deep articles read by a couple of people? Most probably the last one. However, lets keep our fingers crossed for better, eh? Tally ho. Gods speed, blog.