What 50 Shades of Grey and One Direction have in common.

That might be a little bit of a misleading title… but I think you’ll see my point eventually.

Let’s quickly run through my evolution with ’50 Shades of Grey’. As far as I can remember, it started with lots of hate, basically. I heard about it, and the way it deals with issues concerning rape, consent, domestic violence and laaaaarge amounts of stalking. I didn’t like it one bit.

Then I started getting into arguments and discussions with friends and realised that basically, I had no leg to stand on as I hadn’t actually read it. Cue me reading the 1st book about 3 or 4 years ago. I then, after witnessing first hand the terrible writing and all the above issues, became even more enamored with shouting ‘this book is awful, stop reading it! Educate yourselves!’ etc etc. And then I basically was over it, and bored and not bothered for the next 4 years.

Now however, the film is released, and everyone’s hype is back up into overdrive and I again, have things that I wanna say. However, they’re a little different to my previous views. I like to think I’ve taken my previous issues and instead moved on from them and sort of asked ‘why did I hate this book so much? Why does almost everyone hate this book so much?!’

This blog post won’t really be discussing the story or the issues involved within the book, I am more interested in the hype, the ideology and the culture surrounding it. So specifically I’m interested in how this piece of media is generally made by women, for women- and so society hates it. It really is as simple as that. That is what I am interested in.

One Direction's fans.

One Direction’s fans.

This ‘girl culture’ and society hating it, is not new. Take Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Twilight and the Kardashians; their main audience is young girls and women and so they’re generally ridiculed by society. It is no coincidence. Generally people see ’50 Shades’ as stupid and silly, and so in reflection of that girl culture is seen as stupid and silly. Most people think that they hate ’50 Shades’ because the writing is bad, or the representation of BDSM is bad etc, but really, the majority of people don’t really know why they hate it. They hate it because their friends do, or because the cool guy on their Facebook shared a LAD Bible post ridiculing it- people hate ’50 Shades’ because society hates it, because society hates things women like.

My opinion on these matters has reached such a level that I almost want ’50 Shades of Grey’ to do well. We need to encourage women and their interests to become unapologetically mainstream. Because literally everything else in mainstream media is catered to men, it is made by men for men and it always keeps in mind the male gaze. For example, the film ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’ was released in 2013 and explores the relationship between two women. It should have celebrated LGBT and its success should have pioneered more media created for that group. However is still had the male gaze front and center, probably because of its straight male director; and most LGBT viewers were disappointed.

The backlash to ’50 Shades’ is unbelievable. Domestic Violence campaigners have called for a boycott of the film, in which they want people to donate the cost of a ticket to the film to a Women’s Shelter. Although this seems noble in light of the questionable treatment of Ana by Christian in the books, how can this be happening when people like Mark Wahlberg, Sean Penn, Bill Cosby and Chris Brown are all still relatively successful and there is nowhere near the same backlash and push towards boycotting their careers?!

I think it’s funny to consider The Bible’s treatment of women. There’s one particular passage from 1 Timothy which states:

I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man: she is to keep silent – 1 Timothy 2:12

And yet people literally worship this book and it is the reason that women have had to fight for so many rights in this world; and people are boycotting ’50 Shades’? Get your shit together, people.

Society is too obsessed with looking towards all the bad things that could come of ’50 Shades’ instead of looking at what good can come of it. It has started a discussion surrounding domestic violence and consent. I’m hoping that these discussions can encourage readers/viewers to be aware of these issues and still enjoy the film. Issues surrounding ‘what is ok for women to do’ in society is also a discussion which I think ’50 Shades’ has started. Men watching porn, masturbating, being sexual are things that still hold stigma for women; hopefully ’50 Shades’ will begin to change that.

I think ’50 Shades’, although extremely problematic, can hopefully be more of an interestingly positive influence on society than a bad one. I’m hoping that it begins conversations and movements towards people becoming more educated about the aspects this book gets wrong. Mostly, I want women to accept other women regardless of whether they went to the cinema to see this film last weekend or not. Seeing ’50 Shades’ has become a lot like slut-shaming; shaming people for seeing this film is not cool. This is something which was made by women for women, and that should be celebrated.

If you’re going to see 50 Shades of Grey; educate yourself and have fun.

2014 Most Expensive Films

During the New Year I had a look back at the most successful films of 2014, and obviously noticed everything seemed a little… manly. Then I looked at the most expensive films made in 2014 and there were films such as ‘Maleficent’ which, as everyone knows, stars Angelina Jolie in the lead role, but everything still looked heavily sausage based.

So, using the source that I found, detailing the most expensive films made in 2014 (which you can find here), I did a little researching. Using IMDB I decided to list how many females were involved in the Top 15 most expensive films of 2014 using these criteria; amount of women listed in the top 5 casting list, how many of the writers were female and how many of these films were directed by women. This was merely an experiment to see just how much studios and production companies did actually back women and their abilities in this industry, and their willingness to give them the big bucks in order to make big blockbuster films created by and starring women.

And so, here are my results:

Film Name: Top 5 Cast: Writers Credit: Directors Credit:
Amazing Spiderman 2 1 0 0
Transformers: Age of Extinction 1 0 0
X-Men: Days of Future Past 2 1 0
Exodus: Gods and Kings 0 0 0
Maleficent 4 1 0
Edge of Tomorrow 1 0 0
Guardians of the Galaxy 1 1 0
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 1 0 0
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 1 1 0
Godzilla 1 0 0
Mr. Peabody & Sherman 1 0 0
How To Train Your Dragon 2 2 1 0
Noah 2 0 0
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 0 0
300: Rise of the Empire 2 0 0
Totals: 21/75 (28%) 5/35 (14.2%) 0/15 (0%)

Simplifying this data we can see that of 75 actors just 21 of them were women, that’s just 28%. Let us remember that women take up about 50% of the actual population, that’s almost double the amount of women that are actually represented on screen in 2014 in the 15 most expensive films made. It is also fairly obvious that in most of these films, if women are represented, it’s through a more ‘token woman’ approach.

As for these films being influenced by women creatively, just 5 out of 35 writers were women. That’s 14.2%. And (though I wasn’t expecting miracles) the amount of female directors in these films was obviously 0.

Overall, there were only 26 women included in the 125 roles needed to create these films. Approximately 20.8%. Now, I know that these are specific criteria which I have hand selected, and so the data is debatable, however, I believe, does give a general indication of women actually included in films with big money. I could have chosen to examine just the lead-actor credit, in which case the resulting figure of represented females would have been considerably lower. If I had have chosen to use the top 10 billed cast, the figure would have been higher.

Regardless, I feel that this gives us a very stark insight into just how much the film industry, especially in Hollywood, is still controlled and taken up by men.

How can we expect female representations in film to change, and create films which pass the Bechdel test, or films where women are allowed to be complicated and complex when there are next-to-no women being allowed to create these characters through writing or direction. I think that we must put our faith where film studios with lots of money do not- into independent films. Films which are allowed more freedom of altering stereotypes and prejudices. And then eventually this will hopefully filter through to big Hollywood productions, who will then learn to change their ways. (One can only hope, right?!).

I understand that independent films are important and can help this change, but ultimately everyone’s eye is on Hollywood. It always is, and that is not changing. Hollywood productions reach the most people, and create the most impact, and so when women aren’t directing these films, audiences start to believe that women simply do not direct films, at all. Period. They believe that all women are supporting characters, and all women are just mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of a leading man.

I am not holding out much hope for significant change in 2015, however with films such as ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ and the all female-led ‘Ghostbusters’ in production I am at least seeing some more exposure to women overall. And what I am hoping is that these films will be successful and will show big studios with the big bucks that women can hold their own and can be interesting without being in reflection or reaction of male characters.

The Bechdel Test

It’s hard to believe that during the 18 months of blogging, I have barely mentioned the Bechdel test. It is what I like to think of as being something which is ‘traditional’ in the world of feminist critiquing, and which is seen as a standard by which feminist films are discussed. However, 30 years later, I believe it needs some serious looking at to give it a bit of an update in relation to how we understand feminism, films and representations in 2015.

For those of you who may not know, the inception of the Bechdel test was in a 1985 comicstrip ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ created by Alison Bechdel. The test itself originated in the form of two female characters in a comic strip joking about the lack of female representation in films and discussing one of the women’s rules concerning attending the cinema. Her rules are;

  • films must include 2 women
  •  who have at least 1 conversation
  •  about something other than a man
Bechdel Test comic strip, found via Google Images.

Bechdel Test comic strip, found via Google Images.

Sounds simple, right? Think again. Although the test is taken out of the context of the comic, the test works well and simply in order to highlight the under-representation of female characters. The massive success of the Bechdel test comes from how simple the test actually is, and how many films spectacularly fail the test. Take the whole of the ‘Star Wars’ original trilogy for example- there are only 3 named female characters in the entire series and none of them speak to each other, at all. I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion that most media think that women aren’t worth portraying unless it’s in relation to men.

However, media texts can pass the Bechdel test and yet be an extremely misogynistic text on the whole. As well as films failing the test which can be considered feminist; with strong female characters, with their own narrative arc, separate from men etc. And so the test itself becomes problematic.

Recently there was a proposed reformed response to the Bechdel test, in the form of the Mako Mori test. Named after the female, asian, character from ‘Pacific Rim’, who fans practically worship, the test is a response to female characters who are for all intents and purposes ‘feminist’, but who don’t pass the Bechdel test, just like Mako herself. The Mako Mori test is;

  • at least 1 female character
  • who gets her own character arc
  • that is not about supporting a mans story

For example, this test supports Black Widow’s character in ‘The Avengers’. Although the film fails the Bechdel test, Black Widow has her own character arc which contributes to the plot and not to the aid of a male character. However, films passing the Mako Mori test are even rarer than those passing Bechdel. Female characters being treated like human characters with lives external to men is practically unheard of. The Bechdel test mostly fails because there is only ever the ‘token woman’; the mother figure, the love interest or the side-kick, and so there are simply no other women to talk to. So even with the Mako Mori test lowering the accepted amount of women to one, mostly, the female characters just aren’t treated as human beings with their own narrative arc.

It is worth noting here just one more principle which is widely used to critique films; the Smurfette Principle. I first heard of this here– an amazing video by Feminist Frequency who highlights a lot of other problems within pop-culture regarding female representation, well worth a watch of her channel. The Smurfette Principle is essentially the ‘token women’, the ensemble cast or group of characters where there is only one woman. This can also be applied to race- a group of white people with one token minority. ‘Inception’, ‘Transformers’, and even female panelists on well known panel shows such as ‘Mock The Week’ come to mind, are just some examples of this. As well as the ‘Smurfs’, who gives their token woman long luscious blonde hair and heels, obviously.

There are a few different takes on these sorts of principles and tests, and the underlying theme is that women are just not getting represented enough. Not in the way that men are. We need to see a film where the characters are women talking about the plot together and driving and contributing to the narrative. Rather than the traditional ‘does this film pass the Bechdel test?’ critique, I think we as a society need to move onto a more general test which encompasses different principles in order to read the text sufficiently. However, the endgame is to ideally have Hollywood employ these simple rules and tests upon their films to make sure that they are representing women as widely across the spectrum as they represent men. And if they are not, then back to the drawing board, boys!

The Oscars: growth of the struggling white man.

The more I watch the Oscars and give into the hype each year, the more bored I become. The more predictable everything is and one day, I really hope, I’m just not going to participate in the farce at all. But we’ll see how that goes; I usually always give in to the circus of it all.

Let’s begin firstly with the obvious. Sooooo many white people. Like woah, they just kept churning them out didn’t they?! I obviously got my ‘google-on’ immediately and found this extremely interesting article that you can read here, all about how there hasn’t been such a white washed Oscars since 1998.

Now, lets get more specific and talk about the amount of white men that were taking up all the room. There’s a growing trend at the Oscars surrounding female-directed films being nominated for Best Picture, but their director being snubbed. This year that trope was given to ‘Selma’; Ava DuVernay directed this biopic detailing Martin Luther King’s visit to Selma, Alabama and it was widely praised by critics and audiences alike. So why the director snub? I found this little list here which shows how often this formula comes into play.

are you fucking kidding me

Right. Now that I have those annoyances out of my system, I can move onto my biggest gripe. All of the Best Picture nominees follow a particular narrative form- ‘man struggles, grows and finds himself.’ I think that pretty much sums it up in the most basic manner. Like seriously, every, single, one. Now what I mean by this narrative form is that all the films feature a male main character (almost always a white man, the only exception coming from Selma), who struggles to find himself and to deal with this personal growth that he’s battling, only to eventually overcome said obstacles and become a form of hero.

I touched on this subject slightly within my last post discussing the ‘Ant-Man’ trailer, and how it’s overdone and if I have to watch another one of those stories I might pull all of my hair out. Seriously, HOW many different men can I watch go through personal struggles? Surely we’ve exhausted every possible alternative outcome and way that this can be done.

In it’s most SIMPLE forms we have:

‘American Sniper’- man doesn’t like killing people, it fucks with his head and he has a bad time of it. ‘Birdman’- tired actor who used to be a superhero, has existential crisis, has a bad time of it. ‘The Theory of Everything’- man becomes disabled, overcomes his issues, has a bad time of it. ‘Whiplash’- man gets a tutor, tutor is mean, pupil has a bad time of it.

Okaaaay, I could go on but do you see my point? I am not at all demeaning or lessening the struggles of these men, and the things that they have been through, but just why so many men? Y’know Academy, women go through struggles too, we don’t just help the men go through all of their shit and then fade into the background once they’re all happy with themselves again. Now, a lot of people will probably argue ‘ahh but most of these films are based on real events and real people who were male, so maybe if women did more amazing stuff then they’d get cool films made about them too’. Well… no, it doesn’t work like that. Cos even when they do, they just get snub snub snubbed I’m afraid.

‘Cake’, ‘Wild’, ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Still Alice’ are all films which feature female leads. They’re all white I’m afraid but I chose them as being the most likely to have been considered by the Oscars, so I had to think like an old white man. Ew. Any/all of these films could have been nominated. Hell, there were only 8 out of 10 films nominated for Best Picture this year, they could have just added two in for the hell of it. But no, as well as non-whites, non-males also got snubbed this Oscars season and frankly it’s becoming extremely repetitive and boring.

Ant-Man trailer

IMG_0570Now, disclaimer time! I find Marvel films super fun and enjoyable let’s not get off on the wrong foot here.

However! The recent Ant-Man trailer was released and it was just so… blah. You can see it here if you haven’t already. The poster, is brilliant. It’s funny and witty if a little predictable. But as I watched the trailer I found myself almost knowing what was coming next. It seemed nothing more than a rehash of what had come before and what viewers had seen before.

All films take some form of narrative path that in most cases is predictable. Beginning, middle, end, for a start. Specifically with Marvel films the path is something a lot like this; hero is unsuspecting of impending abilities; the wise owl helpful character lets him in on the secret; hero suffers identity crisis; inevitably hero embraces powers and saves the world when it is threatened.

This path isn’t 100% what irks me. You’ll find all superhero films pretty much follow that. What annoys me is how there doesn’t seem like anything else in that trailer that pulls it apart from this generic superhero narrative path. It was bland and it was predictable. Even the suspenseful music, the wise old man’s narration and the attempted funny quips from Rudd that seemed to fall flat were all boring. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I’m just extremely irked that instead of giving us a Black Widow film (because a female superhero just isn’t believable, of course), we get a guy who rides an ant. Right yeah, cool. I though Ant-Man and Aquaman were like the ‘scraping the barrel’ superheroes and yet they’re still getting their own movies? Wow.

It’s a shame that I was disappointed in the trailer cos Paul Rudd is all kinds of awesome. And let’s not get me started on Corey Stoll, who I’ve never seen as anyone except Russo on House of Cards but I’m super excited for his inevitable success.

I’m still interested, I like most Marvel films, and I’m sure that when this one is released I’ll enjoy it. I’m hoping that the trailer is just keeping some big fun elements saved for the big release.

Agent Carter’s Importance

agent carterWith the new Agent Carter series premiering tonight over in the States, it got me thinking about how important giving a female character from a largely male-driven universe her own show really is. For those of you who may not know, Peggy Carter (played by Hayley Atwell) is the female lead in the first Captain America film, and then provides a cameo in its sequel: The Winter Soldier. During the run up to the premiere of the show, Hayley Atwell has become more and more active on twitter, with one particular post catching my eye when I scrolled past someone’s screencap of it on tumblr a few days ago. Hayley was sharing with her followers, the makeup, specifically lipstick, that Peggy uses.

If you asked any fan to describe Peggy Carter, her makeup would inevitably be high on their list as it is an integral part of her aesthetic. However, this particular tumblr user’s post which I scrolled past, seemed extremely disgruntled with this development; saying how ‘pathetic’ this was and that Atwell and fans ‘should be more interested in what guns she uses’. Now, I really hope an eyebrow was raised here, because I sure as hell did when I first read that as I was unwittingly browsing tumblr with my cup of tea the other afternoon. Carter has, more than once, shown us how capable she is in handling guns and taking care of herself, so why having an interest in makeup is pathetic is beyond me.

Hayley Atwell's Twitter

Hayley Atwell’s Twitter

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that some fanboys are panicking a little at something being specifically for us. For the mostly female fanbase. (Or boys who wear makeup, y’know, whatever makes you feel badass). Where fans of Thor can collect various forms of Mjolnir and fans of Iron Man can collect mugs of his head (no, seriously you can); Agent Carter fans can collect the makeup that she uses. Interestingly, there’s a large history around male fans shunning female fans from things they deem ‘theirs’, especially on the internet, and accusing them of ‘faking’ their love of all things ‘geeky’ for various reasons including ‘just trying to get boys to fancy them’ and other trivial nonsense when women express being fans of something.

Fans can wear Peggy Carter’s lipstick, feel kickass, and no one else even needs to know that they’re wearing it if they don’t want to inform them. Liking the makeup that Carter wears, and not the guns that she uses, doesn’t make anyone any less of a fan or any less of a feminist. It also doesn’t trivialise Carter’s accomplishments; being taken seriously shouldn’t encroach on your femininity. If that lipstick makes a fan, or even Carter herself, feel amazing, boost their morale and feel like it is their own personal firearm- then what is the problem?

 makeup       makeup2

Makeup, more specifically red lipstick, was extremely important during the war effort in the 1940s. So important in fact, that Winston Churchill and Elizabeth Arden teamed up to create the perfect red lipstick in ‘Montezuma Red’, to raise morale in both genders during World War ll. And so, with it’s importance in real life, should it not play a part now..?

Since her character’s success within the fandom, and the unrelenting pressure within internet communities upon Marvel and film studios for more female presences in superhero films, as well as for female characters to be given their own solo films as Thor, Iron Man, Captain American and others have been. It becomes clear that ‘Agent Carter’ is a form of experiment; to gauge audience reaction and success of a female led story line. Peggy Carter battles multiple forms of sexism in ‘Agent Carter’ in the 1940’s, and it seems as though Hayley Atwell faces the 2015 parallels in the entertainment industry. If this experiment of Marvel’s fails, I think we can pretty much kiss goodbye to a Black Widow solo film.

The pilot episode has received rave reviews (here and here for example) and I’m particularly excited. She is an interesting character, has amazing lipstick too lbr, and I hugely want this to be a success even if it just kickstarts a wider interest in the demand for female superheroes to be brought to the forefront.

‘Agent Carter’ premieres tonight in America on ABC. Will you be watching? If you’re not from America, are you gonna watch it once if eventually makes it’s way over this side of the pond? And perhaps more importantly, who’s gonna order that amazing lipstick?!

Feminism and Witchcraft.

Witches pop up in most peoples lives and cultures; from religion to media. The paradigm of the witch is incredibly interesting. Witches, primarily, seem to attempt to own their narrative and maintain agency over it and their sexuality; something which the patriarchy highly dislikes. Hence the ‘witch’ falling into categories such as; ugly, spinster and lesbians.

One classical component of the witch within the media is appearance. From way back in Shakespeare’s three witches in ‘Macbeth’, they are described as ‘wild in their attire’ and ‘should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so’. This conveys the idea that if women do not conform to regular patriarchal standards of beauty then they become an ‘other’ in society; in this case the ‘other’ becomes the witch. Similarly, in ‘Sleeping Beauty’, the main protagonist is the witch ‘Maleficent’. Interestingly, the three women with powers who help Aurora- Flora, Fauna and Merriweather, are called fairies. However, because of Maleficent’s appearance, (green and with horns) she is referred to as a witch. Interestingly, horns are seen as icons of the ‘devil’ and demons; a very male trait. This could be seen as confrontational to males and the patriarchy.

Also commonly found in the repertoire of witches in the media, is a constant state of ‘spinsterhood’; if the woman is single and seen as uncontrolled by a man, the patriarchy punish her and therefore label her as a witch. Take ‘Hansel and Gretel’ for instance, a story which outlines the fear of the single, childless woman. The witch that they meet in the woods is a single woman without children. It is speculated that the witch represents Hansel and Gretel’s new step mother; a former single woman who cannot live up to the idolised real mother. The ‘‘evil’ stepmother’ archetype is treated similar to the witch in the media, but that discussion is for another time. Upon Hansel & Gretel’s return, the step mother has died- seemingly the witch has the choice between spinsterhood or death. More recent, we can see examples of this in ‘Hocus Pocus’ and an extremely recent example is seen in Disney’s ‘Frozen’. Elsa (although approved patriarchally attractive) is shunned by society and at the end of the film is still single, whilst her ‘non-witch’ sister has found her one-true-love.

The Crucible is a major contributing factor to the modern day representation and understanding of witches. Written in 1953, the play is based on true events meaning that the analysis of fictional works surrounding witches to do with resulting representations and discussions are all the more potent. The play shows that the term witch is mostly just assigned to ‘the vulnerable’- women in general including women of colour, older women and the poor. I see witch hunting as synonymous with modern day ‘women hunting’; misogyny and resulting attacks surrounding a woman’s right to equal pay, abortion rights, and a continuing and never ending list of battles for something as simple as equal rights. A recurring theme in ‘The Crucible’ is that of hysteria- how an idea or a comment can be taken out of context and misunderstood. Much like today’s current misunderstanding of feminism, with a frightening amount of people believing that it is a women only man-hating club.

the craft

Sexual liberation is a major theme in modern day witches in particular. When considering Willow in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and the women in ‘The Craft’, they all are placed in modern day (well, the 90s) clothes and situations; including third-wave feminism and sex-positivity. The outfits often include short skirts and low cut tops as well as gothic makeup and jewellery in contrast to the outfits of ‘Maleficent’ or ‘Hocus Pocus’. In these recent cases, the women can be considered as being conventionally attractive, however, because of this, the patriarchy needs to place them in different categories- in the cases of Willow and the girls of The Craft, that category is lesbianism. Because the male viewer cannot understand why the women is attractive and yet a witch- these are two opposing ideals and the ‘witch’ part is not for him or his male gaze. Famously, Willow is a lesbian, and the girls in the Craft all experiment with lesbianism and so this is the patriarchy’s ‘reason’ that these women are single and witches; not because they are unattractive but because they don’t like men period. The average male needs to categorise an attractive woman into either ‘available for me’ or ‘not available for any man’.  

When you consider the witch’s male counterpart, the wizard, most people would think of Merlin, Harry Potter and Gandalf- all are considered the helpful, intelligent hero. The witch gets a much worse rep. Over time, I believe that the idea of the witch has evolved into the modern day idea of the feminist. The words witch and feminist are almost interchangeable; both words are not deemed attractive by most men, and nor is the woman who believes she is one. The modern day feminist can be considered as someone who disrupts the patriarchy, is sexually liberated, is quite happy being single and doesn’t care if ‘most men’ don’t find her attractive because she identifies as a feminist. The modern day ‘witch hunting’ has turned into online ‘trolling’ hate on YouTube comments and on 4chan boards and attacking women just for being women.

Interstellar: The Cinema Experince

If you enter any cinema, the adverts beforehand will probably include some form of sponsor who is convincing you that nothing beats that ‘cinema experience’. Y’know the ones. But, what exactly is this ‘cinema experience’ that I’m paying through the nose for? I think I’ve found an example.

Interstellar was one of those films, like Avatar, where the hype was so so huge that I was convinced I wouldn’t like the film. Everyone elses opinions and obsessiveness was so blaring and ‘in your face’, I thought I’d go into the film with my expectations too high and leave disappointed.

Woah, was I wrong. Now, I’m not going to sit here and act like the film was perfect- will Christopher Nolan ever be able to write a believable female character for a start. However, what it absolutely nailed though, was that intense, epic, cinema experience that I think almost deserved my overly priced £12 cinema ticket.

I have a golden cinema rule. Cinemas are so expensive nowadays, even without popcorn and all the added ‘imax’, ‘3D’, ‘premium seat’ extras. So I reserve the cinema only for films I deem ‘worthy’. These include horror films (only when I’m in a fun group of 4 or more for that funny ‘I just screamed so loud I embarrassed myself’ experience) and absolutely epic blockbuster films which deserve to be seen on a screen bigger than my laptop when I stream Netflix. Interstellar well and truly comes into the latter category.

I went to see Interstellar with two friends; one is a pretty big film lover and the other isn’t particularly into sci-fi but likes a good storyline twist and a good ending, (9/10 times I’ve exited the cinema with her and her first words have been ‘the end ruined everything’). So I like to think I was in good company. We all commented on an odd feeling upon exiting the cinema, I described it as that euphoric buzz you get after coming off a rollercoaster you were terrified of riding. It was odd. Both friends were super impressed; which is saying something.

inerstellarWhen I got home I did the awful, masochistic thing I do every time I leave a cinema feeling elated- I google it. And read everything that’s wrong with it. Why. Why. Why do I do this to myself?!

However, the only thing the internet seemed to be in uproar about was the science. Some of the science wasn’t quite right. Well, I’m pretty sure some of the science in Star Wars wasn’t accurate, but the reason that these films are classed as Sci-Fi is because its fiction. The clue is in the name, people. If this was a documentary then fair enough. But it’s not. It’s entertainment, and as far as I’m concerned I was thoroughly entertained.

This is super cliche, but the film was literally an emotional rollercoaster. One minute I was crying and the second I was holding my breath and my stomach was in knots. In the opening scene, I’m pretty sure my cinema seat took off from our dear old planet for a few moments. (I watched it in IMAX, fyi). The science didn’t cross my mind. The sheer scope and scale of this film was something cinema goers haven’t seen in a long long time.

This comic-book mad phase we seem to be enjoying at the cinema is all good fun, but none of the Marvel offerings have come anywhere near the immense feeling of Interstellar. Some may argue that Marvel films offer up better storylines and character development; fair enough, but I don’t pay £12 for character development that I could have watched on Netflix. I pay £12 for that elusive cinema experience.

Taylor Swift’s Evolution

As an English girl, Taylor Swift started out as just an obscure country singer. Country. Like, England doesn’t do country music. We can just about stretch to Dolly Parton but other than that, most people couldn’t name another country singer. Then with ‘Love Story’ and ‘You Belong With Me’, Taylor became more of a global name. Now, with her album ‘1989’ she has somehow managed to become an even bigger success and begin journeys into feminism and self discovery.

Let’s begin with ‘Shake It Off’ shall we? Taylor addresses the comments made about her by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the 2014 Oscars, insinuating that she can’t keep a boyfriend yada yada- (I was pretty disappointed in my gal Amy for that cheap hit tbh, but still love her forever). In the song, Taylor sings,

“I go on too many dates,
but I can’t make them stay,
at least that’s what people say”.

Taylor addresses the comments without being vengeful or bitter, but merely stating that ‘yes this was said about me, but I don’t care’ and proceeds to shake it off. Highly contrasted to Taylor’s last album, where the theme of revenge was dedicated a whole song. In ‘Better Than Revenge’, there are some questionable ideas surrounding blaming other women for her ‘boyfriend’s’ infidelity.

Moving onto ‘Blank Space’, or more specifically, the video. It continues ideas of Taylor knowing exactly how the media try to manipulate perceptions of her and playing up to the stereotype of herself; which is mature, intelligent and frankly hilarious. And not just perceptions of her, but the sexist viewpoints and caricatures of all women. I don’t see the media attacking Harry Styles for his long line of women, and crazily trying to work out which ex the latest One Direction song is about. Oh right, yeah, that’s cos he’s a guy and deserves more respect for his ‘work’, silly me. Taylor tackles this issue head on in an Australian radio show where she states that “no one says that about Ed Sheeran, no one says that about Bruno Mars” and she brands it as “sexist” as she should.

blank space crying

In her work and in interviews, Taylor has grown as a person and as a feminist. As I’ve already mentioned, on her previous albums Taylor was borderline hateful towards other women. In ‘You Belong With Me’ Taylor describes a girl as wearing ‘short skirts’ in a derogative way that insinuates Taylor is above that. It is also interestingly worth noting here that in ‘YBWM’, Taylor is technically the ‘other woman’ in the scenario described in the song. However, in ‘Style’ (a track on 1989), she described herself as wearing a ‘tight little skirt’; realisation that what women wear means absolutely nothing, and that sometimes she is that girl. Which is fine, as there’s nothing wrong with any girl.

Ultimately, I’m super excited to see Taylor’s evolution; she’s the idol to many young girls and if she continues down this path, she’ll become an intensely good role model.

The Revolution of Kim Kardashian

If there is one celebrity, apart from Justin Bieber, who can divide opinion it’s Kim Kardashian. To some people she is the embodiment of a ‘nobody’ in society, famous for nothing and in the media for nothing and people are bewildered at why she continues to be relevant. However, to other people (myself included) she has become somewhat of a 21st century feminist without perhaps consciously meaning to.

Famously, KimK rose to stardom because of a sex tape which began circulating in early 2007, and by October of that same year, she and her family were offered their now world famous reality show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ which is currently in its ninth season. The tape was released by her ex-boyfriend, Ray J, without Kim’s consent and in turn betraying her trust; essentially attempting to tarnish her name and reputation. It’s also worth mentioning at this point that of course all of the backlash and judgement from the media was aimed at KimK and not at the boyfriend, go figure. Kim was slutshamed whilst Ray J received nothing of the sort. (Anyone else thinking of a certain Christina Aguilera song at the moment? No, just me? I’m just gonna leave this here).

Kim however, then uses this to her advantage. Instead of becoming a victim, which society expects and wants, she builds a career out of this new found fame and instead of feeling ashamed she fights back. And rightly so. Nakedness should not be an excuse to slutshame, degrade or refuse success to a woman. Modern society lives and thrives upon female nudity (advertisements, tv shows, films), yet as soon as this is used to benefit a woman, such as the success Kim has had and made for herself, and not for the benefit of a man, society is unsure how to react.

This brings us onto the enigma of Kim Kardashian. Given the recent celebrity photo scandal in which 4chan released hundreds of personal images owned by female celebrities, it became apparent how men truly believe the photos that these women have taken belong to them. That they are entitled to look at them. It is this entitlement that is linked to KimK’s sex tape. Society viewed the video, shared it, slutshamed and ridiculed Kim, and were then angry that she managed to carve a career out of this betrayal, this is evident in the way that she is treated in the media.

However, now Kim is in a committed marriage and she has a child, she now makes society feel uncomfortable. Whereas before she was ‘the girl with the sex tape’, ‘paris hilton’s friend’, ‘her with the reality show’, she no longer fits into a box. She continues to succeed in her business, her fame, her fashion, her marriage and embrace her sexuality AND seemingly be a good mother. She continues to challenge societies idea of how she should behave. She doesn’t dress like a ‘soccer mom’ or is photographed out buying groceries in sweatpants. She continues to be herself.

kimk and child I found this photo (left) on tumblr, where commenters likened KimK to this painting of ‘Madonna and Child’ which is universally acknowledged to be an embodiment of purity, virginity and innocence. KimK is wearing all black, vampy makeup, lace and a rather low cut dress and yet people have still made this comparison. The media continue to attempt to put Kim into a box, and so its refreshing to see individuals on the internet looking past what Kim is wearing because they know that it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it fascinates me how Kim has managed to alter peoples views of her and become one of the most famous women in the world.