What We Love This Week: Lisa Wilkinson

You may or may not have heard (unfortunately for you, we’re expecting the former), but the long awaited movie of Twilight fan-fic, ’50 Shades of Grey’ hit the silver screen this Valentine’s weekend. The film is already raising eyebrows, and for all the wrong reasons.

One reporter, Lisa Wilkinson, of Today Show Australia thought honesty was definitely the best policy when it came to her review of the latest cinema hype. She sums up our thoughts at VFM perfectly. Lisa, this week, YOU are our journalism Valentine! Step aside, Charlie Brooker! You’ve got some competition.

Take a look for yourself:

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In the words of Ross, “We Were On A BREAK!”

Hello internet folks and VFM followers!

Now, you may have realised it’s been a little quiet on the blog for a while now. I’m here with the explanation! Before you get worried, the site is going nowhere – VFM is to remain active for the foreseeable future and we have some fresh new articles on the way! However, now all out of university and trying to find our way in the big, scary world as adults, a lot of us have had to put our time and attention on other projects and into the workplace. Some of us have been travelling, others on internships and, in general, it’s all been a bit hectic!

LUCKILY a lot of us here at VFM have our individual blogs and pages that you can follow our ventures through! So, if you want some more reading material, or are just plain nosey and want to find out what we’re all up to, we’ll be sharing links soon! 😀

Alicia

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Hindsight Is 20/20

After 16 years of constant education, you will think that you’re supposed to know exactly what you want to do with your life. After all, you’ve completed your GCSEs, your A-levels (or equivalent) and now, the third year of university is coming to a close. After that last exam or that last coursework deadline or presentation has passed you realise, you have suddenly entered the ‘real world’ and the uncertainty of it all starts to get to you. You’re not quite a ‘student’ and at the same time, technically you are; this odd waiting period between being an undergraduate and your graduation ceremony causes you to look back at all the things you think you would have done differently.

We at Venus from Mars have come together with this advice piece for our past selves and future freshers, because Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

 Save that money– Dothrakimermaid

Money-Fly

With university comes a student identification card. And when you have a student card, a whole bunch of doors open for frugal shopping. Take as much advantage as possible of the student discount, it doesn’t seem like much but the 10-15% you can save off of clothes, electronics and entertainment purposes really adds up over the years. Be aware of local shops and services that do student deals. Save that money. Buy fruit and veg cheap and in season. Buy your meat frozen (if you eat it), or if your parents are willing, buy a large amount of meat back home and put it in the freezer when you arrive on campus. Don’t always buy brand, store own can be just as good and for a much lower price. If you’re doing a ‘big shop’, are you going to need a taxi home or will it be cheaper to do it online and get it delivered (if applicable)? Alternatively, shop around for cheaper groceries in general, understand that Aldi and Lidl are going to be cheaper than Tesco or Morrisons and that M&S foods, as delicious as the adverts cause them to look, will be out of budget for a while.

Know your campus’ and local area’s provided services – Dothrakimermaid

Check your library out. There are so many books on the reading list that are expensive. Again, this is about saving money. Sometimes the lecturers will say an entire book is relevant and will only talk about one paragraph for 10 minutes. (This sounds lazy, but believe me, sometimes the recommended reading isn’t all that necessary). University is an uncertain place. It can be lonely, there might be a counselling service that will be helpful over the course of your stay. There are always job opportunities on campus. Cafés, bartenders for the student nights, till workers and stackers in the campus shop, some universities even hire students to take tally of students in the room for room management. Look for societies to take part in. Or start one. University is all about ‘broadening your horizons’ and interacting with people of different walks of life, but sometimes you really need some like-minded individuals to help settle you some. At least go to the taster sessions and one social, if they’re not for you, say goodbye, no fouls done.

Socialising – Dothrakimermaid

Students-socialising

Please, realise that being friends and living with your friends are two different things. Prepare for possible fall out. Be prepared to drift a little from friends back home. Especially if they’re going to different universities. Timetables and term times don’t always sync up, you’re not going to see everyone over the holidays, and unless you have a lot of money, travelling across the country regularly to see people is out of the question. (Get a train 16-25 railcard, and a coach pass, depending on your location and theirs you can decide on which route is best). While students are known for excessive wild nights out, don’t expect to go out clubbing every night (depending where your campus is). Some clubs near universities usually have a student night with cheaper entry and drinks, there is always the night out organised by your student union, not to mention local pubs, bars, and the ever familiar house party.  Some people prefer pub-grub and actually being able to carry a conversation over bass you can feel and sloppy dancing, others prefer a more comfortable (and cheaper) option of chilling with some friends with a bottle or three of wine (or tea, or coffee). All you need to know is that whatever option you prefer, you will find someone sharing the same sentiments, either way: make your nights out your definition of fun!

“The University Experience” – Dothrakimermaid

American media and older siblings and friends can make university look like this magical place where you’ll find your group of friends for life, the person you think you’ll spend the rest of your life with, where you’ll change and discover new parts of yourself and where you get your future together. The truth is that doesn’t always happen, there’s no real “Uni Experience”, go in with lower expectations, a lot of first years enter Uni and after the festivities of Fresher’s week find themselves underwhelmed by their course or campus life. Just try and make your time at Uni something that you enjoy and benefit from, that’s all you can really do.

Student Housing –  Catsmith92

studentaccom

From student tuition being increased to job prospects being as depressing as watching the ten o’clock news; it’s the horrors of student housing that really is the cherry on the top.

I would like to put it down to the fact that I’ve had a bad experience, but I know it’s not just me. A lot of students get ripped off to live nine months in squalor, where you’re having to battle with the house’s long-time residents, damp and mildew, and your downstairs toilet is the set of “Bugs life” and, in some instances, masking tape is the only thing holding your window together. And let’s not get started on landlord/ladies, ‘cause that’s a whole different article.

Since students usually pay by room, at one point you’ll realise that you’re paying an extortionate amount per month to live in some filthy, shit-shack where the electric always cuts off half way through your Freaks and Geeks marathon.

So, here is my advice: Don’t just go for properties that are advertised as “student living.” Most of the time, you can get better deals from renting a normal property.

It’s true! Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you’re segregated from other properties. Universities recommend you to go through student housing because the leases will match your student year. One downside hunting for a regular-Joe place is that landlords/estate agents may be disinclined to offer you a showing because you’re a student. So, maybe keep that one to yourself until you have to tell them.

Yet, it’s semi-understandable why we get fobbed off. Let’s face it, students don’t have the shiniest reputations. From pre-drinks where half of the campus turns up on your doorstep to finding that old bag of onions your Mum bought you at the start of the year, we’re not exactly the most responsible bunch. Even so, there are a few of us who go to university to learn. Yes, learn! And even though we want a good time (like everyone else in the world), we’re not hell-bent on ripping off the staircase’s bannister.

When it comes to bad student housing, it’s down to where your campus is situated. I’m sure not all student houses are as bad as I’m describing, however I don’t know any different because my campus is located in a piss-poor town. Your rubbish student living is more-than-likely down to the economic situation of the place you’re living in, because I know (from countless of ads on the internet) there are some pretty swanky student digs out there in the big cities. So, it’s either your town’s money situation or, y’know, your landlord (again, whole different article…).

The best advice I can give to a fresh-faced student is: Look hard and look long for that dream abode. It might not be home, but I guarantee, student housing ain’t the only way to go. 

Mixers in a Can is a False Economy – lassomagicarescarte

JD

I wish I could have told my cheap ass self this back in first year. I didn’t like beer because I still hadn’t acclimatised myself to its urine-esque flavour, and wine was for old people. Somehow whiskey and rum by themselves were horrible, but add coke and something magical happened! But this was where the problem lay – I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of Jack Daniels because it was expensive and I felt that it would be the first step towards becoming a full blown alcoholic and spending my final days drinking in a workhouse, selling my hair for money and singing. But the mixers in a can, on the other hand, were so impossibly cute and harmless looking (and generally on a three for two offer) that I gladly paid the extortionate prices and kept coming back for more. Within the space of maybe two weeks, I had already paid the cost of one of the larger bottles, and over the course of the year I probably blew a small fortune on those devil juice cans. I should have just bought the bottle, which would have lasted me a lot longer, and I could have mixed it the way I liked. Better yet, I could have bought some of the supermarket brand bottles and had a real party, like Gatsby mixed with Macklemore.

Dust Your Room!– lassomagicarescarte

dustI know, I know, it’s not exciting, it’s the kind of inane shit your parents do in their house, but I’ll tell you what dusting and hovering once a week or so means. It means that for a start, your room is tidy and you won’t have Kim and Aggie coming over and screeching about dust mites. Secondly, and far more importantly, it means you aren’t spending HOURS cleaning on that inevitable final week where you have to get rid of the debris of the past year only this time your room is full of boxes of your stuff (and a sad mound of mixer cans) and you’re stressed out of your brains and everyone else is having a barbeque in the two minutes we have left of the British summer because they dusted. You can save yourself a lot of tears, sneezes and frustration by just not living like an animal. And bleach your toilet, because that shit can get cray cray nasty.

Be Yourself – Alicia Ballard

Whilst the other advice you read may be more practical, my university experience has been more about growing into myself as a person instead of growing up. And, as a Student Ambassador who often gets a thousand questions about personal experience thrown at her, I offer this: Be Yourself. It’s the number one cliché, it’s ‘simple’, but it’s true. University – for me – is the place where you can be comfortable to show your true colours! It’s where I finally found my confidence and my voice, where I was finally ‘allowed’ to wear what I wanted, and finally found out what I wanted from life.  It’s not like school or college, where history eludes you and you fall into ‘convenient friendships’. University offers you likeminded people (and not so likeminded) and not one of them knows your name. Scary? Definitely. But, remember, everyone’s in the same boat! So don’t be nervous to join a society; sign up to EVERYTHING at Fresher’s and give it all a go! Don’t be afraid of not getting on with your flatmates; there are more people out there! And don’t be held back by stereotypes or other people; if you want to do something, do it. Your university experience is yours, no one else’s. So be the person you want to be, and shape it just for you.

grad

 

Looking back, is there any advice you wish you were given as a fresher or any experiences you would promote for new students? Comment below, let us know!

‘I Never Learn’ Reviewed: It’s Lykke Li’s Party, and She’ll Cry If She Wants To

lykke-li-reveals-i-never-learn-album-artwork

Welcome back, Lykke Li. A personal favourite of this writer, there was much squee-ing when Li began releasing tracks in preparation for her third studio album. ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone’ and ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ became instant favourites, due to their catchy doom and gloom melodies. It was nice to see that Li had resisted the current trend of everyone releasing club hits (though I’m not sure how she would even go about that) and kept to her trademark simplistic musical backdrops. There’s still the bombastic-ness of her sophomore effort Wounded Rhymes, but its quieter, more subdued. Li has had a hell of a time since we last saw her, and we’re going to hear all about it.

 

There’s a bittersweet and tragic air that hangs over the album like the black veils Li found for her atmospheric album cover; imagine a whole album in the same vein as Wounded Rhymes’ ‘Sadness is a Blessing’, and you have I Never Learn. It’s maudlin, its miserable, but the most part of its pretty damn good. The title track starts quite quietly, but brings in strings to great effect and builds to a very hummable climax. There’s a temptation for singer-songwriters to let their voices get all the best riffs, but on ‘I Never Learn’ its the strings that really shine. There’s something delightfully retro about the best songs – from the 70’s feel of ‘I Never Learn’ to the so-90’s-power-ballad-that-it-comes-out-the-other-side-and-is-quite-alright of ‘Never Gonna Love Again’.

 

I Never Learn serves quite well as a less scenery chewing sister to Wounded Rhymes, or as an alternative soundtrack to Let the Right One In. With as much misery as there is on offer, it does wilt in places, and the relentless sorrow becomes a little dull at times, no matter how often choirs are thrown at the proceedings to give it a little extra wham. It’s to the album’s credit that it holds it together as much as it does – even though it feels like the album trails off rather than ends, most of it works. This much wallowing should not be this much fun, but it is.

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Navigating the Manic Pixie Dream Minefield

Hello fellas.

Look at your woman. Now look at this article, now back to your woman, now back to this article. Sadly, this article isn’t a woman, but it was written by one, and I’d to talk to you men, and ladies, about that most crafty of stock women, the infamous Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

I am speaking as one of the cynical converted. I had my phase in my mid-teens. Oh, most women do these days. It starts small, with an unrealistic obsession with The Smiths and anime, and ends with being so hyper and peppy and quirky and kitsch that, apparently, everyone in the universe can’t help but fall in love with your girlish charm.

NOPE NOPE NOPE

NOPE NOPE NOPE

For those not in the know, TV Tropes does a wonderful job of mythbusting this type of woman wide open, and but in a nutshell, I posit that you can define your average MPDG as thus:

“A cutesy, hyperactive and shallow woman, that doesn’t have any defining personality types apart from being “bubbly” or “quirky”, often infantile to the point of ridiculousness, who displays a general inability to handle adult situations or behave in non-childish manner.” – B. Smith, 2014.

It’s a sickening trope so overused in modern cinema, literature and TV that, chances are, she’s up there with the 19th century Fallen Woman or the film noir Femme Fatale – the Manic Pixie is the archetypal 2D woman of the 21st century. No longer are women simply muses, they’ve got to be “quirky” muses.  Think the myth of Pygmalion, except the statue has an unhealthy obsession with New Wave English bands, Spongebob Squarepants and dip dying her hair a crraaaaazzzyyy colour!

The MPDG – not only is she attractive, but she’s so quirky and cute and desirable! She loves whacky adventures! She probably can’t define irony! She LOVES exclamation marks! What’s more, her existence will stop you from your faux-depressive funk and encourage you to love life again! The only catch is that she’s a detrimental fantasy that will unequivocally ruin the wellbeing of the woman in question, the relationship you’re having with her, and generally your understanding as to how real, functional adult people work.

 

ALSO NOPE NOPE NOPE

ALSO NOPE NOPE NOPE

I’d argue that there are two branches to the stock MPDG character:

1)    Women who genuinely aspire to be manic pixie dream girls, or, in a twist of fate,

2)   Men who project the manic pixie dream girl image onto desirable women;

There’s a reason why most MPDGs are cooked up by male scriptwriters looking for a new ideal of woman: the fantasy that a single person holds the key to all personal and romantic salvation.  Your MPDG isn’t merely your love interest, she is the reason for your creative flair, your rediscovered happiness, your sense of purpose etc etc. Women might have their men in shining armour; but men have their manic pixie dream fairies, always giggling, always twirling, twirling.

But it’s that second type of MPDG – the projected MPDG – which might be the worst kind. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I present you with the archetypal case of the “projected” MPDG – Summer Finn from 500 Days of Summer.

Oh hai, Zooey DeschaDreambait

Oh hai, Zooey DeschaDreambait

 

For those who haven’t seen the classic romcom, go do so. Because I think it might be the most effective debunking of projected MPDGs that has so far been displayed on screen. Throughout Tom’s narrative, we’re led to believe that Summer isn’t really a person. She is a perfect MPDG fantasy, quirky and cute and nothing else.

Only the twist is – and it took me multiple views of the film to realise this – that Summer is a real person. She makes stupid choices like the rest of us. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a solid education, strong views on ethics and morality and a subscription to TIME magazine. The problem is that both Tom, and the scriptwriters, never let us see that. We only see Summer as Tom wants to see her – all sepia tinted shots, super close ups, and lots and lots of innocent blue ribbon *cough* *SYMBOLISM* *cough*.

It's EVERYWHERE... Oh god, not the blue dress, NOT THE BLUE DRESS! BLLAAAAAAHHHHH! IT'S IN MY EYES, MY EYES, MY EEEEYYYEESSS!

It’s EVERYWHERE… Oh god, not the blue dress, NOT THE BLUE DRESS! BLLAAAAAAHHHHH! IT’S IN MY EYES, MY EYES, MY EEEEYYYEESSS!

Perhaps she has a really cool hobby or interesting anecdotes about her childhood. Perhaps she studied in a really prestigious college, perhaps she has radical political opinions, and perhaps her favourite style of cooking is something other than “baking”. We’ll never know. All Tom knows is he loves her “smile”. We only ever see the film through Tom’s perspective.  “Summer”, Tom’s ideal of true love, is a fantasy without any real voice in the movie. But Summer, the reality, is only ever depicted off screen. Her real desires and dreams don’t correlate with Tom’s fantasy childlike woman, so we are never allows see them.

Ultimately, the MPDG is defined by arbitrary choices, like a hello kitty backpack, a necklace, a hipster ironic kindle cover. Her view of the world isn’t a genuine wonder or excitement but a kind of hyperactive squeal, pointing out Smiths Vinyls and American chocolate and with equal measure ditz and quirk. What does she think about, besides her comic books and hair dye? Not much, apparently. You’ve got to ask yourselves – are these kind of relationships, these inevitably artificial relationships based on a legacy of male wish fulfillment, what you want for yourselves?

Now ladies and fellas, look at yourselves. Now look at this article, now back to yourselves, now back to this article. Are you, or are you dating, a MPDG? Are you and your relationships made of about as much empty sugar, hollow air and artificial pink flavourings as so much candy floss? If so, it might be time to give 500 Days of Summer a rewatch. I’m on a horse.

For more more detailed analysis of Zooey Deschanel, damaging stock characters or more successful parodies of the Old Spice Guy, you should follow VFM on Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively, you could try jumping on a trampoline and screaming very loudly while trying to inspire a man having an artistic crisis, but it’s not the recommended method of getting in touch. 

#TwitterFeminism – The Feminist Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following

I love twitter.  I love it and cherish it like the son or daughter I will probably never have. I am glued to my phone, frequently commenting on essays, books, David Cameron’s shiny shiny forehead.

However, if there’s one great use for twitter, it’s spreading the feminist joy. Twitter, if used with great responsibility, is a handy political tool – and that doesn’t mean taking selfies of yourself with fancy burgers or tweeting “Ed Balls”. With hashtags like #RapeCultureIsWhen, #FeminismIsForWhiteWomen, #MyFeminismLooksLike,  twitter is basically awesome for feminists who want to hear from all sides of the world and all sides of the argument.

Sometimes the internet can be a minefield of "What-the-actual-hell", but feminism on twitter is alive and well!

Sometimes the internet can be a minefield of “What-the-actual-hell”, but feminism on twitter is alive and well!

For those uninitiated into the world of Twitter feminism, here’s my top list of feminists who you should follow on twitter. Feel free to comment below with your own suggestions!

A HANDY GUIDE TO THE TWITTERY ACCOUNTS THAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW:

@VagendaMagazine, @theFwordUK – the general go-to accounts for light feminist articles in the UK (besides VFM, of course). The Vagenda in particular has a great (and responsive!) twitter account.

@EverydaySexism and @NoMorePage3 – leading campaign sites for contemporary feminist issues. Don’t forget to check out their prospective websites too!

@feminsthulk – because smashing the patriarchy is always better in capital letters.

@WhiteFeminist, @feministkanye, @feministswift – parody accounts which will make you laugh as well as think. All are both sadly truthful and hilarious.

@CaitlinMoran@lenadunham, @wmarybeard – awesome ladies who are famed for light, funny feminism. And Mary Beard says such intelligent stuff that blows your mind, that I’d follow her regardless of political orientation.

@femfreq – if you’re into gaming and feminism, this is an awesome place to start.

@VictorianPrude, @monaeltahawy – awesome activists in America. Sarah Slamen is currently fighting against the changes to abortion rights in Texas. Mona is particularly into Muslim and Arab feminism as well as Isralei/Palestine conflict.

@VFMArticles – just in case you forgot to add us 🙂

Don’t forget to also follow VFM on Facebook if Twitter isn’t your cup of social networking tea. Incidentally if you want to follow me and suggest I add to the list, my twitter handle is @BethSaysThings

Music On The Go: “Chandelier” By Sia

Pick a song, any song, in the charts and you can bet your bottom dollar that Sia Furler had something to do with the production of that track! Her songwriting credentials range from Britney to Rihanna. She’s been revamping their genre and giving them hit after hit. Now it’s her turn!

“Chandelier” is an epic pop ballad about releasing yourself to the night when you have a broken heart and swinging from the ceiling because that’s just how Sia rolls! It’s been a good four years since she last got her solo on and I couldn’t be more excited. The time has come for her to step out of Beyonce’s shadow and become a hit maker herself! Good for you, Sia! You go, Sia!