Lesions in the Landscape @ FACT Liverpool

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In the final year of my BA I took a module on domestic space and atmosphere. It centred around the idea of how the lives of those who dwell in a space affected its ‘atmosphere’. In The Poetics of Space (1958), the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard says that, “the house is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts, memories and dreams of mankind…Past, present and future give the house different dynamisms.”[1] Bachelard is offering that the atmosphere of a domestic space is moulded by the experiences, memories and imagination of its inhabitants.

The ‘past, present and future’ form an intangible ‘atmosphere’, rather than the inanimate space possessing this ability. So, what happens when these memories fade, or are erased entirely? Does the house cease to be a home? Does the past still matter or even exist? When I visited Lesions in the Landscape I couldn’t get this thought out of my head.

This week I visited my favourite local art gallery of sorts, FACT Liverpool (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) for a blogger preview of their new exhibition Lesions in the Landscape by fine artist Shona Illingworth. Lesions examines the complex individual and social impact of amnesia, a condition in which the capacity to retrieve and form memory is lost. The past, present and future becomes unsteady. Time, unstable.

The exhibit uses 12048544_10207992314745131_1864853022_nvarious mediums to reflect on the experiences
of Claire, a woman living with amnesia, placing her psychological experiences alongside that of
the depopulated island of St Kilda, a remote island 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The overwhelming feeling of the exhibition is that of isolation. When Claire’s memories were lost and the people of St Kilda deserted their homes, what was left? What was real?

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‘The past existing as a space you can’t enter or feel – the future a space you can’t imagine.’ – Claire

A thirteen minute film plays across three large screens in FACT’s darkened exhibit space. With speakers mounted around and above you, the experience is captivating as stunningly eerie moving images of rocks falling and crashing silen tly, irrevocably, immersing the viewer in the moment. On St Kilda we see the remnants of buildings, dwellings, homes-become-ruins where children once played and families once lived and loved, as Claire discusses her amnesia and her disconnection from the world. What stuck out to me most was how difficult the film is to understand; Claire’s vocal is difficult to make out at times, choral singing and loud music are discordant which also distorts the narrative. It struck me, as Claire describes herself as living in, “a world I’ve lost all the information about”, that perhaps this distortion is intentional. The exhibition pushes you away, making you want to understand more, to better show the viewer how difficult it feels to lose your memories, your past and your connection to the world.

 ‘I came home to a house that I was told was home, but that I didn’t know anything about.’ – Claire

12016562_10207992314865134_740728086_nAccording to FACT’s literature on Lesions Claire was 44 years old when a severe case of viral encephalitis left her with a large lesion on the right side of her brain. She woke from a coma to find that she could no longer remember much of her past, including her children. Claire could no longer distinguish or recognise faces, a condition called prosopagnosia and, in addition to losing her memories, she also had anterograde amnesia which is the inability to form new long-term memories. Most of what happens to her on a given day is likely to be forgotten.

What does this feel like? Alienating? Scary? Or perfectly normal to the amnesiac?

Along with the film, the exhibition also hosts an Amnesia Museum which comprises; film, photographs, drawings, objects, 12047414_10207992314985137_1863122499_n
artefacts and documents maps the landscape of amnesia. These
include super 8 images of St Kilda, 3D casts of St Kilda and of brain lesions that cause amnesia (pictured above and inset).

A powerful analogy for the isolating neurological experience of amnesia, Lesions in the Landscape draws together the amnesiac and the ‘island with inaccessible cultural memory’, which embodies this phenomenon of lost connection. Lesions in the Landscape is another in a long line of installations at FACT which discusses mental health and wellbeing in an open and educational way.

12025523_10207992315065139_1368447782_nIt’s an incredibly interesting experience, if a little disconcerting, and the Amnesia Museum will continue to expand as the exhibition tours. Lesions in the Landscape is a project supported by a Large Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement. The Wellcome Trust has enabled new scientific study taking forward research into memory retrieval.

You can see Lesions in the Landscape for FREE at FACT from 18 September 2015 – 22 November 2015. 

For more information on FACT’s own site click here.

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[1] Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space (1958). Trans. Maria Jolas. (Boston: Boston UP, 1994) p.6.

Intent over Content: Dapper Laughs and playing the bigot

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Header Image copyright to Mark Robert Milan/ GC Images - link below.

Having been real-world fuming about the Dapper Laughs debacle a lot recently, (I was aware of him, or rather his ‘character’, on the Vine app before he oi-oi’d his way into our living rooms), I thought it was about time for me to chuck my two penneth into the blogosphere.

As a vocal feminist and all-round pro-equality type person I was obviously annoyed by Dapper Laughs’ Vine account where cheeky-chappy ‘geezerism’ was used as a construct to disguise and promote flagrant sexism, misogyny and harassment. Consequently I was even more appalled when this moist-forehead-sporting div got his own TV series where he “dishes out fake dating advice to young men under the guise of his alter ego Dapper Laughs,”(1) (desperately backtracking words ‘fake’ and ‘guise’ from ITV news there making him sound like some sort of illusory lad-banter Derren Brown figure).

So, having signed an online petition to #canceldapper, I was relieved this week to find that not only had the show been axed but his tour had been cancelled and his Christmas album, panned. Dapper Laughs had gagged his way into his own sorry oblivion. But last night the greasy-haired cretin appeared on my TV screen again, this time looking a little less dapper and a little more sixth-form-drama-exam (see very serious tail-between-legs black polo neck top and puppy-dog eyes for full pathos effect). He was apparently apologising. Kind of.

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In this post I’m not going to focus on the sexist nature of Dapper Laughs’ comedy as it’s blatant for all to see so I’ve included a timeline of his latest foibles at the close of this post for any one who wants to get fully up to speed.

Daniel O’Reilly, whose name I didn’t know before his character started to go downhill, has sort of launched his own smear campaign with this Dapper Laughs shtick. But on Newsnight on 11th November 2014 he seemed massively self-pitying and unsure of why so much attention and blame was being directed towards him saying, “At the moment I am trying to hold back the emotion that is attached to what it has done to my life and what the media has done to my life in the last four days.”

It didn’t happen to you mate. You happened to you. Or rather, you happened. End of.

What stood out to me most in the Newsnight interview was Daniel O’Reilly’s reasoning behind his ‘character’ and how, according to him, the general populace basically just didn’t understand his method of comedy.

His defence in the interview is:

“I look at that [some of his sexist vines/material] and think ‘that’s not real, come on’, obviously I don’t think that.”

“I’m taking the mick out of what I thought men think.”

“I didn’t see it as me saying it, I was creating this character and I was really pushing the boundaries with this character because it was so popular.”

According to these statements, in Dapper Laughs, Daniel O’Reilly is playing the bigot, a motif most masterfully deployed in the past by the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Borat’ or ‘Ali G’, or Ricky Gervais’ bigoted version of himself in the 11 O’clock Show.

Playing the bigot, when done well, is a tool that allows comedians to ‘push the boundaries’, to invite the audience to mock the views of the bigot, to laugh at him not with him. The character must ultimately be the victim of the routine in order for it to not just be racist or sexist or whatever type of ist in question. Of course this invites difficulty as, yes, sometimes audiences laugh at the ‘wrong’ bits, (the ist bits…), laughing with the character rather than at them. But this can be excused when the intent of the comedian is clear, as it always was with Borat or Ricky.

So this is where Daniel O’Reilly gets it wrong both comically and in his excusing himself. It doesn’t matter what your content is in comedy, I personally believe that almostnothing is off limits, as long as you’re clear on your intent. When playing the bigot the intent must always be to victimise the character, rather than the character’s victims. But Dapper Laughs is not playing the bigot, he simply is the bigot. For him to be ‘taking the mick’ out of the character or ‘what men think’, the character needs to lose out and be made a fool, not get his own TV show about ‘pulling’ where he can further endorse his sexist ‘she knows’ routine to the audience that laughs with and not at Dapper Laughs.

 

For example: Can Daniel O’Reilly honestly say that this Vine is ‘taking the mick’ out of Dapper Laughs’ base-level sexist humour?

No reverential nudge-wink-“THE LADS”-pulling-banter at play here? Really?

Perhaps this reaction, at a gig in October, to his show being called a ‘rapist’s almanac’ will show him setting his audience straight on his intent…No, no, I don’t think telling a female audience member that she is ‘gagging for a rape’ quite says ‘I don’t advocate sexual harrassment or violence’ quite enough for me either. #sarcasticunderstatement…

Despite his denying the possibility that he is only apologising since his show has been cancelled, he showed none of this repentance on-stage in October in front of what he now calls the wrong audience that he showed on Newsnight, when the claims were the same but the consequences weren’t.

Rather than his show getting axed due to a misunderstanding of his routine by not only the public but also by forty four comedians (so far) who have signed an open letter condemning his sexist routines, (comedians being sort of experts in comedy, like, at least a bit), perhaps O’Reilly could admit that there’s the slightest possibility that he is in fact to blame for getting his character comedy so definitely wrong.

Daniel O’Reilly doesn’t expressly mention what boundaries he set out to push with Dapper Laughs but I suspect they were those of social acceptability and decency rather than of comedy. The ‘character’ backfired once he was seen by a wider viewership which is reassuring. It shows us that while there may be a fusey-barnetted box-of-toys army of laaaads jumping to his defense on Twitter, there is an equally strong throng of jobsworth-petition-signers (myself included) ready to silence people like Dapper Laughs who try to normalise sexism, sexual violence and harrassment.

Despite what he said on Newsnight, I don’t believe that Daniel O’Reilly ever intended to take the mick out his own walking hard-on of a persona. Not for one inch (or 8, OI-OI GEEZA…). He may be backtracking now, but after all’s said and done, he knows.

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Here’s a quick overview of events in case you’re not quite up to speed:

  • ‘Dapper Laughs: On The Pull’ first airs on ITV2 in September.
  • 5th November 2014: Nathaniel Tapley reviews Dapper’s Christmas album in a piece on online news outlet Us Vs Them entitled, “We listened to all 25 painful minutes of Dapper Laughs’ Christmas album so you don’t have to” found here.

After Abi Wilks described Dapper Laughs’ Christmas album as a “really sad… cry for help” Dapper Laughs accused the home of Wilks’ article Us Vs Them of trying to stop him from raising money for charity tweeting:

“Wow! @UsVsTh3m thanks for listening to it! As stupid as it is I made this to raise money for the homeless let’s hope u haven’t stopped that.— Dapper Laughs” (@dapperlaughs) November 5, 2014 (I had to nick this quote from Huffpost’s website as the original tweet has no surprise mysteriously disappeared from Dapper’s twitter, link below (2)).

Dapper encourages a torrent of abuse to be directed towards Wilks for her comments, a sample of the most inane can be found here.

Us Vs Them highlighted that if you play the album on Spotify, each stream earns about $0.007 per play – less than half a penny, or £0.004.

Next, homeless charity ‘Shelter’ responded with this embarrassing custard pie for the struggling philanthropist:

  • A few days later a petition to #canceldapper is created by Tom Zephyr on change.org and within four days over 68,000 people sign it.
  • 10th November 2014: Footage emerges on The Mirror Online of a Dapper Laughs gig in October earlier this year where: 

  • 10th November 2014: ‘Dapper Laughs: On The Pull’ cancelled for a second series as well as it appearing to have been removed from ITV2’s show roster on their website due to pressure from the online petition.
  • 11th November 2014: Swiftly after having his ITV2 show ‘Dapper Laughs: On The Pull’ axed Daniel O’Reilly appears on Newsnight looking stern, serious and sad as “Dapper Laughs has ruined my life”…

To be fair to him, he has had a bit of a mare of late. But it is completely all his fault too so…

Watch the full Newsnight interview from 11th November 2014 here.

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(1) – http://www.itv.com/news/2014-11-10/petition-calls-for-itv-to-axe-dapper-laughs-show/

(2) – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/06/dapper-laughs-us-vs-them_n_6114300.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Header image URL here.

Dapper Laughs Newsnight image URL here.

YouTube’s ‘Pointless’ stars: A Discussion.

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This week I’ve found my twitter feed being spammed by hateful tweets directed towards Sunday Times columnist Katie Glass. I don’t follow any of these people, she’s been retweeting them. Here are a few of the most venomous:

Intrigued by such vitriolic messages I caught up on Katie’s article in question, ‘Totally Pointless’, where Glass invites us to meet the British YouTube clique who have captured the hearts (or maybe just the attention spans) of today’s internet-overloaded youth. Without wishing to make this a trend I’ve decided to write another blog in response to an article of Glass’s… it’s not my fault that I continually agree with/am inspired by her ideas.

Glass does kind of ‘lay into’ the group comprising of Alfie Deyes, Zoe Sugg (AKA Zoella), Joe Sugg (Zoe’s brother) & Co so I can see why their fans would be upset. But they’re upset because she’s called them pointless and a little boring… so they’re upset because she’s right. As Katie points out in her opening paragraph, “If you haven’t heard of Alfie Deyes, then you are old. Simple.”(1)

At the tender age of 21 I didn’t think I could yet be deemed ‘old’, but in the age of the internet I suppose anyone who once had a MySpace account is considered a fossil. I’m actually surprised that so many teenagers apparently read The Sunday Times Magazine at this point. In spite of this enlightenment, it’s not that I’m not a YouTube fan. I keep up to date with several channels who I suppose are a little more grown-up but out of the nine profiled tweens in Glass’ article I was aware of only one YouTuber’s existence: the permanently congenial Zoella. And not for good reason.

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Here she is being delightfully agreeable and, as ever, encouraging her fans to do the same…

Zoella is an interesting dichotomy who has come under both positive and negative criticism for her affect on (and control of?) her teenage girl audience. She supposedly empowers young women, a term which I think is both lost on and loosely used by many. To empower is to catalyse someone or something with the tools of self-confidence, to make someone stronger and able to control the direction of their life and life choices. Empowerment shouldn’t rely on a winter skincare do’s and don’ts or how to attain the perfect fishtail braid… Chloe Hamilton’s article for The Independent last week drew my attention on this point in particular so without wishing to regurgitate her sentiments here’s an extract:

“At the 2014 Teen Choice awards, where she was named the Choice Web Star: Fashion/Beauty, she told a reporter that if she could give her teenage followers one piece of advice, it would be to fret less about their appearance. “When you’re younger you worry about so many things that you don’t need to worry about like image, appearance,” she coos to the camera, without an ounce of irony in her singsong voice, as though unaware that she’s forged an entire career by prattling on to young girls about how to look good.”(2)

Basically, Zoella is fresh-faced deception at your fingertips. If your fingertips are 15 years old and impressionable.

As for the rest of the article I find it hard for fans to be so angry at Glass for outing these online personalities as pointless when Alfie Deyes’ main YouTube channel is entitled ‘PointlessBlog’, where his most watched video is ‘Ariana Grande does my makeup’ and is presumably as pointless as the channel’s name suggests. With little or no intellectual matter at play it is entirely worrying that so many susceptible teenagers (because the subscribers are well into the millions) are depending on these channels for….for what?

The close of Glass’ article sees her searching for a reason behind the popularity of these characters. It’s comfort, she says. I agree with this point. “I was lying in bed when I finally got it. Watching a video of Alfie, wandering around the shops, buying T-shirts and trainers, then going home to show Zoe. Mundane, yes, but also strangely comforting.”(3) Tweets like this one definitely substantiate her claim:

So is the sole purpose of the 2014 YouTube star to provide saccharine, no-pressure, one-way company for the lonely and confused youth of today? To combat boredom just as new Lego or Furbies did 5 years ago, before all-the-children-ever had iPads?

She continues: “But perhaps it’s because they are so beige, or vanilla, that so many young people can relate to them.”(4) She’s right. This lot are straight-up sanitised vanilla milkshake: you’d rather chocolate or strawberry but it’ll hit the spot, kind of, if that’s the only choice.

That’s where I’m chiming in. They’re not the only choice. For more thought-provoking YouTube surfing I advise checking out these other popular channels:

The Vlogbrothers are John and Hank Green, (John being most well-known as the author of The Fault in Our Stars and his brother Hank being, well, Hank). They originally set up their channel as a way of communicating with eachother in a personal way so as not to lose touch as they lived so far apart. ‘Nerdfighters’ as their fandom have become known were hooked by their personal, informed and funny videos and the channel has gone on to become not only entertaining and inclusive but also successful in fundraising and charity work internationally. DFTBA (google it).

Charlieissocoollike is Charlie McDonnell, a cute British Doctor Who fan whose somewhat patriotic love of Tea saw him rise to viral internet fame. He is a filmmaker and funny guy who uses his popularity to deservedly promote his hard work on short films as well as discuss anything from making his own Tea to his expert handling of Sex and Consent, an issue which has blighted the YouTube community of late (RE: Sam Pepper, Alex Day and others, an issue which will need to be tackled in its own blog post).

Nathan Z, or TheThirdPew, is another YouTuber whose maturity and sensitivity are comforting to watch/listen to, whilst also being animated and amusing at the same time. His most popular video saw him chastising Vine star Nash Grier for his inane and overtly sexist video regarding what he ‘looks for’ in a girl, watch Pew’s video here.

It’s refreshing to see channels like the ones above tackling real issues and doing their best, unasked, to package these topics into an easily accessible and understandable medium for young and vulnerable viewers, when so many other YouTube stars use their online presence to smear Nutella over their faces or eat cat food (see Alfie Deyes’ channel if that’s what you’re into…). I’m not saying these kinds of videos don’t have a place on the internet, I suppose I’m saying they’re about as valuable as Nyan Cat circa 2011.

Alternatively you could always go outside for a walk or perhaps talk to a friend or family member…but who needs real human connections anymore when you have the light of your laptop/tablet/iPhone screen to keep you warm at night as you slowly petrify in its vacant, iridescent glow.

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(1) – Glass, K. 2014. ‘Totally Pointless’, The Sunday Times Magazine, 26 October, p. 23.

(2) – Hamilton, C. 2014. ‘Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella’, The Independent Online, 21 October. Link here. [Accessed: 28/10/14].

(3) – Glass, K. 2014. ‘Totally Pointless’, The Sunday Times Magazine, 26 October, p. 29

(4) – Ibid.

Zoella picture link here.

E card meme link here.

The Equalizer FILM review: Denzel Washington’s squeaky-clean vigilante

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Denzel Washington stars as the (not-so)-reluctant ‘anti-hero’ of The Equalizer. Robert McCall, a retired black ops agent who has faked his own death in order to pursue a ‘normal life’ following the passing of his wife, wouldn’t you guess it, struggles to adhere to this George Bailey savings-and-loan existence – Washington’s Frank Capra-esque interactions with adoring co-workers are cringeworthy at the very least. As he obsessively stop-watches the mundanity of his new life it’s no time before McCall dives headfirst into swathes of Russian mobsters, bar fights and explosions in this ultra-violent remake of a 1985 TV series of the same name.

Much in the ilk of De Niro’s Taxi Driver (1976) McCall seeks out the company of a (pre)adolescent and troubled prostitute, Teri (played by Chloë Grace Moretz of Kick Ass (2010) and Carrie (2013)) to rescue her from the abuse of a violent gang of Russian pimps as well as relieving himself of his self-imposed retirement.

McCall steps into the pimps’ restaurant and executes them in a partially slo-mo fight sequence, which for some will elicit a Déjà vu of Book of Eli, and where the weapons are almost exclusively pieces of bar equipment. The effects are actually pretty good and the violence isn’t overly gratuitous…at this point in the movie. The brutal execution is investigated by scary, tattooed Teddy, played by the not-Kevin-Spacey lookalike Marton Csokas (pictured below), who has been sent over from Russia to exact vengeance. Of course.

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After a bit of a ‘whodunit’ for good measure, the film ultimately ends in a tumult of splinters and nails as the stand-off between Robert and Teddy takes place in the hardware store where Robert works. In this bloated fight sequence it wouldn’t be surprising to find that the  filmmakers had a bet on how many pieces of DIY equipment could be used to brutally mutilate and torture the ‘bad guys’. After all, a movie where a shot glass, a corkscrew and a nail gun are all used to end Russians is bound to be a sure fire box office hit in the US (and it already is after its first week).

Ultimately, contrary to its level of violence, the film is disappointingly sanitized as Washington represents the perfect vigilante hero: no mania, only morality.

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Where Travis Bickle’s mentally unstable Vietnam war-vet-come-taxi-driver misguidedly wanted to clean the streets of decadence, Washington’s McCall is the outright good-guy-with-a-gun (or without one) equalizing the amorality of the caricatured bad guys.

Although Csokas’ performance is chilling and will leave you excited to see him in his next role, Washington’s squeaky-clean hero in The Equalizer further cements him as the favourite uncle of action movies: more fun than your own parents but ultimately going to get you to eat your greens.

There is no internal struggle for the audience. We aren’t left agreeing with his actions but questioning his motive. McCall is not the troubled anti-hero at all, he’s just a regular good guy police officer without the badge. For this reason the film lacks the depth of the likes of Training Day (2001) The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua’s and Denzel’s last successful collaboration. When your heroes are spoon-fed to you all you’re left with is the husk of an action movie, where a challenging thriller could have resided.

 

Images are not my own.

Header image URL here.

Marton Csokas image URL here.

De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver image URL here.

Oh Paolo don’t be hasty: Nutini’s dystopian vision in Iron Sky.

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Paolo Nutini’s been off the mainstream radar for a few years now. Whatever he’s been doing, he’s been doing it right. I’ve taken recently to listening (and sobbing) to his latest single Iron Sky from his new album ‘Caustic Love’. Beginning with simpering guitar and building up into brilliant blasts of brass accompanied by lamenting lyrics, (which of course, the dashingly disheveled Nutini belts out in that shouty way that only a handful of mainstream artists can get away with), Iron Sky grabs you by the ears and doesn’t let go. For 6 and a half minutes.

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The orchestral music behind Nutini’s raw and unkempt vocal stylings makes for a high-impact, goose-bumpy, listener experience. Add to this some climactic excerpts of Charlie Chaplin’s powerful anti-war speech from The Great Dictator (1940) and I think you’ve smashed it Paolo. Listening to Iron Sky for the umpteenth time it’s still hard to accept that this is the same guy who was once buzzing off his new shoes… (although New Shoes is definitely still an absolute tune).

Not only is Iron Sky a cracking track, it is also accompanied by an (almost) 9 minute long, and equally as intense, short film. The film is directed by Daniel Wolfe whose other directing credits include Plan B’s video to Prayin’ (2010) and French electro-pop group The Shoes’ 2012 music video Time to Dance (a horrendously overlooked short starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a hipster-slaying psychopath).

“They say it’s a power, a ‘thing’. How do we know this? How do we know this is not the will of God?”

Depicting a world which is frighteningly similar to our own, Iron Sky appears to express a dystopian eventuality where people are tortured by splitting head pains sent by some higher power.

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People look to drugs and religion for salvation and comfort. Numbed by these opiates society manages to survive but not thrive.

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Distressing images of people in apparent agony, despair, numbness and solitude as well as beautiful inky shots of colour which look like mini A-bomb explosions, (yes these are the totally technical terms in case you were wondering), accompany Nutini’s foreboding lyrics.

Untitled1Nutini 7With some slightly gratuitous, but redeemingly arty, nudity thrown in, Wolfe’s and Nutini’s collaboration is pretentious at worst and darkly cool at best.

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But, although the lyrics and the visuals match wonderfully, according to Wolfe, “I was sent the track with no explanation from Paolo.” Nutini and Wolfe are merely exacting their work on the same wavelength.

Wolfe continues, “as a child I stared at the planet Jupiter and had a vivid hallucinatory experience. A feeling of abject terror. In bondage to an omnipotent machine. When I heard the Chaplin quote I remembered this clearly. So the video became a dystopian vision of the future as imagined by a child in the 80s.

Nutini 6Nutini 3I’d love to ask Paolo to confirm his vision of the film but he has yet to release any explanation. Another one of those ‘find your own reading’ artists. Damn you loosey-goosey creatives you. (Although as the message behind the song is to rise through the iron sky of your mind, maybe spoon-feeding us his own meaning would be a tad regressive…)

The underlying message of Iron Sky seems to be to resist ‘them’. “They want us functioning in fear. Functioning at a basic level. Like a horse or a pig,” explains a man at the start of the film.

Who are ‘they’?

Who are the machine men with machine minds and machine hearts that Chaplin chimes in with 6 minutes in? The music industry could easily embody this machine so you could argue that Nutini is full of hot air if he is trying to send us a message about non-conformity whilst raking in loads of cash.

But at 6+ minutes for the track alone and 8 minutes 48s for the video, (or two and a half hours in high-speed-internet-Starbucks-Youtube-world terms), I think it’s safe to say that Nutini has prioritised artistic flow over music-industry function here.

It just so happens to be a belter of a track bound for success.

Watch Iron Sky for yourself right now and try to decide what it all means for yourself. Pretentious or not, the film is beautiful and the song is even better.

Watch Wolfe’s Prayin’ and Time to Dance here and here if I’ve sparked your interest.

Sources:

Header image URL here.

Album cover URLs 1 and 2.

All other images are screenshotted from here.

Daniel Wolfe interview here.

Are the Princesses doing it for themselves? Disney joins the quest for gender equality.

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I’m not a fanatic, but I’ve not yet reached a mental age (if there is one) where I don’t still enjoy the occasional Disney film. But despite enjoying them on a surface level, as a little girl with male siblings, I struggled to stomach some Disney films and the wretched way in which they portrayed their female characters.

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This is a blog-tired subject by now but Disney and Feminism are usually mutually exclusive concepts. At least they are in Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty etc…

Why do the Princes always save the Princesses? Where are all the book-learnin’ damsels?

And don’t get me started on why they’re always pining for a man, because teaching little girls to need a partner to define themselves (male or female) is why so many of us twenty-somethings are subjecting ourselves to the trials of Tinder right now…

So when Disney released Frozen (2013) I was surprised and elated.

As well as upping their game in the comedy stakes, (as Olaf the snowman’s comic asides make the film almost palatable for tired parents subjected to ‘Let it Go’ on repeat), Frozen is the first Disney movie where *SPOILER ALERT* the guy doesn’t come to the rescue. In fact, Prince Hans is a totally abhorrent character even in his sickly-sweet nice guy persona which precedes a shocking double-crossing at the close of the story.

The two sisters, Elsa and Anna, save each other in a life-affirming, second-wave feminist, ‘girl power’ moment which is heart-warming and totally kick-ass if, like me, you’ve been waiting for the day that the sisters started doing it for themselves. Not only this but Frozen’s climactic ballad ‘Let it Go’s pro-homosexual subtext catapults the film into new realms of social progression and equality.

Elsa and Anna reject the quest for marriage, babies and the shackled-ever-after ending, and in doing so, show impressionable young children that it’s okay to be yourself, by yourself.

The film gets a bra-burning 5 stars from me in terms of sending out the right message to kids.

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And if you thought Frozen might be a one-off nod to gender equality to temporarily satiate a feminist audience then read on. Disney animators are in production of a hardcore hand-drawn feminist-friendly short called Hullabaloo where the female protagonists are brilliant engineers.

According to the Independent online, Hullabaloo, “delves into oft-overlooked science fiction sub-genre steampunk and paints women as anything but damsels in distress.” A Disney movie where the female characters are scientists?! I can’t wait.

But although Disney have come a long way from the faint-hearted fair maidens of fairytales past, by the looks of these initial illustrations:

 Hullbaloo

we’ve still got to wait for the Disney flick where the female characters waists aren’t narrower than their heads…

Here’s the Hullabaloo creators’ steampunk campaign video for a sneak peek at what the short will look like:

 

Sources:

(1) – Frozen image

(2) – Sexist Disney diagram

(3) – Frozen image 

(3) – Read the full Independent online Hullabaloo article here

(4) – Hullabaloo image

I give Emojli a big thumbs down (emoji).

Standard

emojli (1)

I love social media. I love the doors that social media can open up for people. Users can create and share their own and other’s content in a public or private forum where nobody is better than anybody else (unless you have no followers).
It’s a classless system which is something I admire. I love that I can write something, type it up and post it on my site and somebody in a different place (geographically or otherwise) can read it and even interact with me.

But despite my love for the social mobility of social media, I have a few issues which have recently resurfaced since the new social network app, ‘emojli’, went public. Emojli is an emoji-only website where there are no words, only, you guessed it, emojis. Even usernames will comprise of emojis.

hand emoji

Don’t get me wrong, as an iPhone user and ‘scousebird’ (sorry) I take great pleasure in using emojis as a way of expressing myself in addition to language. When my iPhone met it’s untimely demise and I couldn’t use the hand emoji for a few days (the ‘hang on, bear with, stop talking please’ emoji), I lost all of my online ‘sass’. I forgot how to snub online idiocy with my words. This was the scary realisation that I had a slight reliance on emojis for meaning. As an English major, this was terrifying.

tumblr_ly5e8oK3Go1qf0rpdo1_250

The foreboding clouds of the emojli logo are a dark omen hailing the eventual degeneration of language in a world where users (not people) are encouraged to revert back to cave-painting style of communication. Don’t get me wrong, cave-painting was a great idea in its prime but it’s definitely had its day.

That might sound a tad dramatic, but the introduction of this emoji…

poop emoji

…makes cave-paintings seem far more cerebral and 21st century.

I’m not attacking emojli. Some users will argue that it stretches them to create conversation with limited materials and thus stimulates creativity. I see this logic but I sit firmly in the opposition.

What can be more challenging and stimulate more creativity than creating something out of limitless words or materials? When did we put a cap on how much self-expression is too much? When did there become a deficit on words? When did Twitter’s 140 character limit become too long?

As I write my blog posts I am aware of the benefits of being concise for fear of losing the interest of my readers. But I just wonder when did using actual words become insufficient in holding the attention span of so many people?

Poor books. Poor writers. Poor language. Poor people.

In writing, I have discovered something that means more to me than myself. Telling the stories I have inside of my head to anybody who will listen seems massively important to my continued existence, even if nobody is listening. But the idea that my words will definitely fall on deaf ears, lazy fingertips and emoji-numbed minds is unnerving for an aspiring writer. That mere words are too much or that I should have stop at 130 characters with room to shoehorn in a couple of hashtags is worrying.

I’m too verbose for this shit and you all should be too.

Send a smiley face to your friends to lessen the blow of a let-down text, don’t rely on them entirely for conversation or we really will lose the ability to speak.

 

 

Media Sources:

(1) – http://st1.bgr.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/emojli-social-network.jpg

(2) – http://pix.iemoji.com/sbemojix2/0130.png

(3) – http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tek9qgNnzwQ/UtLxu8_Vf4I/AAAAAAAAHYI/HuQtluYiUT4/s1600/tumblr_ly5e8oK3Go1qf0rpdo1_250.gif

(4) – http://a1.s6img.com/cdn/0022/p/8546148_14607576_lz.jpg