Music On The Go: “Rumour” By Chlöe Howl

Eighteen-year-old Chlöe Howl has got critics and myself buzzing. As 2014 approaches, everyone is looking for that next star to heat up our airwaves and get our toes a-tapping and I think Miss Howl might just be one of those lucky few to get us going.

“Rumour” is a fun British electro-pop/indie funk hybrid about… well, rumours and the stigma attached to them. It talks about trying to find something genuine in a world made up of hearsay and general bitchiness. She’s shortlisted for the BBC Sound of 2014 alongside some pretty heavy competition but whatever the outcome her album is due out next year and this lady is definitely going to have us all talking! You go, Chlöe Howl!

9 Things I Learned From Masters of Sex

Hardly conventional Christmas fare, but I love it.

Hardly conventional Christmas fare, but I love it.

Well, the first series of Masters of Sex has come to a close this week, leaving me mournful and sullen. What on earth will I do this Christmas without weekly updates from William Masters and Virginia Johnson, my favourite sex researchers? But this show wasn’t just about boobs and butts. There was a lot of important information that I learned throughout the series- and here it all is. Warning: contains mild spoilers.

1. Masters is a douche.
Seriously, I know they’ve spiced things up to make the series more interesting, but the way the character is written, it feels like the main reason Masters went into gynaecology is because he likes hanging out with other twats. This is a man who lets his wife think that she’s infertile, when the reason she isn’t up the duff is because he’s shooting blanks. What a douche.

michaelsheen

2. Douches can be beautiful.
But then Masters helps that black lady have a baby, and the prostitute who thinks she’s dying of a brain tumour, and he is one of the nicest, kindest, most awesome human beings ever. And then the douchery comes back! What is this?? Damn you three dimensional characterisation!

3. Hospital canteens in the 50’s have the best food ever.
The real porn in this series is the food these docs are tucking into! In one scene Hoss complains that all he had to look forward to was a Welsh Rarebit for lunch from the canteen? ALL? These people eat like Gods!

4. Freud, you card!
Oh Freud, keeping women down with penis envy and labelling female masturabation as immature! What are we going to do with you? Let’s play this at him obnoxiously!

5. The tits to wang ratio on this show is ridickulous.
I understand that in a show about sex, nudity is necessary for the storytelling yadda yadda yadda but almost every major female character (in fact, make that most women with more than six lines) has had a nude scene so far in this show, and not a single bloke has had his dick out. Eventually it’s going to stop feeling necessary and important to the storytelling, and going to cross into leery.

lizziechaplain

6. Barry Bostwick is still a fox.
Nearly forty years after Bostwick played Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he’s back as an elderly lothario who still has plenty of sugar to go around. Frank-n-furter would be so proud *sniff*.

Oh, Brad!!

Oh, Brad!!

7. 1950’s Housewives must have been bored out of their perfectly coiffured skulls.
Master’s wife Libby does nothing but plan parties, shop and watch the fifties equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing. It’s a miracle she hasn’t gone batshit crazy and burnt all of Master’s research, before splashing naked in a fountain and yelling ‘I’m a Kraken from the sea!!’ Masters won’t even let her wank for his amusement. THE WOMAN NEEDS A HOBBY, MAN!!!

All I want for Christmas is a sense of purpose!

All I want for Christmas is a sense of purpose!

8. The return of the good feminist versus bad feminist.
What is with today’s media? I know not every feminist can be good, but it feels like it is impossible for television and film to have a strong, feminist, beautiful woman with a sense of a family without then also adding a frigid alternative. Lillian DePaul has a lot of characterisation, and you can love her crusty soul, but yeesh! So she doesn’t wear makeup or want a man. She’s a gynaecologist with cancer in the 50’s. She has NO TIME for your shit. Not every feminist can be a sexy, friendly lass with a love of family- do you know how hard it is to do all of that?

Spot the bad feminist. Hint: the bad feminist is the one you don't want to shag.

Spot the bad feminist. Hint: the bad feminist is the one you don’t want to shag.

9. Never, ever, EVER, EVER type Masters of Sex into image search for pictures to accompany your article. DO NOT DO IT.
I think this one is fairly self-explanatory.

mastersofsexcast

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Frozen: Snow Queens with Attitude!

Tangled, Brave, and now Frozen– no, it’s not just a trend of adjective titled films, but big animated productions from Disney and Pixar which have made a conscious effort to have strong female protagonists. Disney and Pixar are arguably the most dominant forces on the animation market, and since The Princess and the Frog we’ve had a host of ‘princesses’ who are not just your average royalty, Boo-Boo.

'Don't believe everything you read in fairytales, Boo-Boo! Some women are pretty strong... and some can even read!'

‘Don’t believe everything you read in fairytales, Boo-Boo! Some women are pretty strong… and some can even read!’

In a year where I considered myself spoiled with female buddy movie The Heat, in came Frozen, the pinnacle of western animation’s feminist journey so far. Tiana was ambitious, Merida’s story revolved around her relationship with her mother instead of her relationship with boyz, and Rapunzel was so much feistier than the Auroras and Cinderellas of yesteryear. But watching Frozen, I felt more affinity with Anna and Elsa than I’d had with any Disney princess. That’s not to say their fore-runners haven’t had kick-ass qualities that I wanted and wished to have- but here were two women who felt like women, and most importantly they shared traits that were less ethereal and more realistic. Sorry Eilonwy, but Anna, with her incredible social awkwardness, is so my Disney Princess.

Sorry Eilonwy, but NO ONE cares about Black Cauldron. Apart from me, obvs.

Sorry Eilonwy, but NO ONE cares about Black Cauldron. Apart from me, obvs.

The songs are great, the jokes are cracking, the animation was sumptuous (and the ladies were obligatorily pretty, Lino DiSalvo) and I didn’t want the film to end. For the first time since my childhood, a Disney twist was actually surprising. The film transported me back to my own childhood. For you see, readers, I have a sister, and Frozen showcased a complicated, positive sisterhood tale that rang true. It was heart warming, and then it was heart melting, and by the end of the film I was a gushy puddle, as was my friend who grew up with no sisters.

 
What I really found interesting (and I promise you this is not a spoiler) was the opening of the film, where Elsa’s power is established, and, after a HEARTBREAKING ACCIDENT, we see her lock herself away in a room. The idea of Anna wandering around and growing up in a castle with an unknown and largely forgotten sister hidden away, reminded me strongly of Jane Eyre.

 
However, unlike Mrs. Rochester, Elsa is mostly a positive metaphor for female sexuality (her power is her sexuality, if you will follow me down the garden path of feminist theory). Yeah, Elsa is a party pooper, but because of the rich characterisation, you know she isn’t the bad guy (girl). In fact, she also seemed to be giving new insight into older Disney villainesses like Maleficent. Rather like Polly Teale’s stage adaptation of Jane Eyre, the separation of the innocent, virginal Anna from the mature, loose haired and slit skirted Elsa, only causes trouble and bother.

Jane Eyre and Mrs. Rochester in Teale's adaptation.

Jane Eyre and Mrs. Rochester in Teale’s adaptation.

This film isn’t just breaking new ground in animation with its more realistic female protagonists and feminist themes, but it also feels like an age since I saw two strong positive female characters in any film full stop. Yeah, The Heat and Frozen are both great sisterhood movies, but since we doin’ so well with the girls on film, let’s not be contented with two a year. Let’s get bigger and better. Let’s keep this thing going!

Sisters are doing it for themselves!

Sisters are doing it for themselves!

Or snowing, if you will.

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Beyoncé… I was not ready

The Queen of Pop Beyoncé surprised fans all over the world last night when her self-titled album (that no one was expecting) dropped on iTunes… the BeyHive is in overdrive and the internet is possibly broken. You can’t go on iTunes and not see her face (check it if you want, I’ll be here waiting) and why?  Because we weren’t ready. And she’s so nonchalant about it. “Suprise” and then she goes back to instagramming pictures of vegan cupcakes… I just… I can’t deal.

 I don’t need to tell you that I bought the album, you can probably tell I have.

Currently on The Mrs. Carter Tour, where did she have the time to write, record and create accompanying videos for each and every one of the 14 songs on the album with extras!? 14 songs. 17 videos. £12.99 on iTunes…  There was no promo. The closest thing to promotion for this album was the samples of new songs used in advertisments for Pepsi and H&M. Beyoncé was on her hustle, they were basically paying her for them to promote her album (that no one was expecting). And for someone who’s constantly in the public eye surrounded by people who would benefit from leaking information, you’ve got to respect her for her level of secrecy that even the US government is unable to achieve.

All Hail King Bey!

The album is star-studded with featuring artists of Drake, Frank Ocean, Jay-Z and Blue Ivy makes her second feature on a song in the track Blue. We get unexpected appearances from Kelly and Michelle again (Superbowl 2013 flashbacks anyone?) as well as from the lovely mother Tina Knowles in the visual accompiament. Rap artists from Houstan Texas also feature in the videos as the Queen pays homage to her home town.

 There is a song on this album for every emotion, role and action of Beyoncé as a black woman. Yes I’m going to say a black woman, lets be honest here feminism often feels like its struggling with intersectionality in almost the same way as the coven and voodoos in American Horror Story: Coven. Like Destiny Child’s Survivor was a message (to either ex-members or the media, depending on which rumour you heard), this entire visual album is a calling out of critics and a rallying cry for general female excellence that Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Katy Perry, Britney, Miley who are constantly praised for their interpreted feminist sometimes problematic actions (especially when it comes to women of colour) can only hope to achieve.

To all those who opposed Beyoncé as a non-feminist please take several seats. Not only are your arguments invalid in every way, shape and form imaginable. Beyoncé’s song Bow Down which caused a stir earlier in the year due to the use of ‘bitches’, has been transformed with a dirty hood beat with all the swagger and bravado of gangsta rap that black female rappers are famed for. Add a sample from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s speech on feminism and why everyone should be a feminist and you now have the womanist anthem ***Flawless. Please tell me how Bey isn’t a feminist? Please, tell me again?

Wife, mother, single lady on a night out, sensual lover, sexual being, emotional soul, hard working artist, the mourner, the believer; there is a song for all of these parts of womanhood that seemingly contradict each other are embraced and interweave depending on situation or emotion. It’s almost as though she’s recognising all the conflicting and unique experiences that all women because we’re multi-faceted 3D people and not the fake, air-brushed 2D caricatures we are force-fed by the media on the daily.

As for me? Well I’m getting all these vibes from the album, my only fault was Jay-Z’s reference to the abusive Ike/Tina relationship. But other than that? It’s like travelling through every scattered thought in my brain Beyoncé has successfully located and ordered. She has successfully turned me into a stan. I don’t care. This whole album is a giant motivator and a confidence booster.

And well, if you’re mad from all the virtual ink Beyoncé is generating?

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Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer Answered?

NEWPOOOSAH

This week it has been reported that Putin may grant amnesty to the two remaining Pussy Riot members still incarcerated. Maria “Masha” Vladimirovana Alyokhina and Nadezhda “Nadia” Tolokonnnikova, may be freed from a two year “religious hatred” sentence. And it’s about time, right? The Russian Government has been a bit too power-happy and, let’s face it, they have been in a fluster over the band’s actions. However, Pussy Riot has stuck to their guns and kept cool, to the extent of eye-rolling at their prosecutor’s accusations.

Pussy Riot is a Feminist Punk-Rock band, who formed in response to Vladimir Putin being re-elected in 2012. They’re known for wearing bright clothes and balaclavas, and turning up in public places to do protest performances. Most of these performances are campaigns for women’s rights—as sexism is still a massive issue in Russia. They’ve performed in clothing stores and most notably they’ve performed in Red Square.

Their most famous gig to date was in February 2012, where Pussy Riot stormed the altar in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and sang their ‘Punk Prayer’ called Holy Shit; a punk prayer that calls on the Virgin Mary to kick Putin out of power because of the corruption in the Orthodox Church.

After pressure from celebrities such as Madonna, who took her top off to a stadium audience to show the words “FREE PUSSY RIOT”, to Yoko Ono, who personally pleaded for the release of the band members. And nobody should say no to Yoko. Yet, authorities still proceeded with charging the three members of the feminist punk band. Even after the mass media gave Pussy Riot their support and multiple protests were held throughout the world, did the court budge under pressure?

Pussy-Riot-A-Punk-Prayer

The news of the possible release of the two remaining members, Masha and Nadya (Katia, the third member, was set free after she appealed in October 2012) came at the same time as the documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer was shortlisted for an Academy Award. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the documentary has everything to do with the remaining members’ possible freedom, yet it definitely has played its part. Over the past three months, pressure has mounted for the two women to be freed. In September, reports were leaked to the press about Nadia’s hunger strike, which wasn’t anything to do with her sentence, but to do with the prison conditions she lived in. It was claimed that the penal institution she was sentenced to punished the inmates if they complained about the conditions or about another inmate’s health. In a penal institution in Russia, an inmate will work a 14-16 hour day of hard labour and live off four hours of sleep. Nobody can live like this. It is inhumane.

It wasn’t just Nadia’s hunger strike that caused a stir in the media, putting pressure on the Russian government. In September, thirty members of Greenpeace—who were peacefully protesting against the Russian company, Gazprom, for drilling in the Arctic for oil—were arrested on the grounds of piracy. For Greenpeace to be arrested for piracy is insane. This meant that they could face a 10 to 15 year sentence. Not only were they faced with piracy charges, but the foreign members were held in St. Petersburg, unlike the four Russian activists who were allowed home. Luckily, (yet, this doesn’t have anything to do with luck…) the charges were reduced to a Hooliganism sentence—the same Pussy Riot faced—and slowly the members have been released, however they still have a legal battle hanging over their heads.  If Putin lets the amnesty grant go through, this would also mean that the Greenpeace members could avoid jail.

As all these travesties of justice happen before our eyes, the members of Pussy Riot keep it cool under pressure within their time in prison, and, also in Masha’s case, having her child threatened to be taken away by the social services. To go back to the documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer sheds light on the case, giving the world a detailed insight of the bravery of these women and their beliefs. In one scene, the members are surrounded by a media frenzy. One journalist tells member, Katia, that they are releasing an album with all of the Pussy Riot protests songs. ‘What are they calling it?’ she asks. The reporter replies, ‘Occupying Red Square.’ Katia smirks. ‘It should be called “Kill the Sexists.”’

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A Very Cosmo Christmas Guide: How To Give Sh*t Gifts Without Really Trying

Oh, Cosmopolitan magazine. My feelings for you can be summed up in those three exquisite words:

We have a somewhat complex relationship. It is aimed at faux-professional women with non-specific job titles who believe the most important things in life are handbags. I am a poor English literature student, I think Marx and Engels were BAMFs, and I carry my stuff around in a succession of worn-down plastic carrier bags. We were never going to get on.

As I’ve been off the interwebs and VFM for a while now (Dealing with coursework and student house slug infestations takes time, okay?) I thought I’d ease my toes back into the blogoverse via the nightmare that is Cosmo.

I was going to rip apart the December edition of everyone’s favourite monthly rag, as it’s previously been pretty fun and incredibly easy. Ripping apart any Cosmopolitan magazine edition is fun and incredibly easy. Previous instant zero-effort jokes have included a massively-oversized pastel-pink £300 statement handbag with glitter and parrots on it, a breast cancer awareness campaign featuring fluffy bras containing puppies, not to mention their LOLtastic and sexist section entitled ‘Men vs Fashion’, where twenty-something men accuse Anne Hathaway of not looking cuddly enough when she’s walking down the red carpet. The jokes write themselves, people.

cosmo dec 2013

*Insert Obvious Miley Cyrus Joke here*

I’d planned to write a quickie post consisting of obvious Miley Cyrus jokes and infuriating keyboard-mash about handbag porn, and thus potentially ruin any valid chance of me ever getting an internship at any magazine ever. So I handed over the necessary petty cash at my local newsagents, and ripped open the rag, when what should sadly flump out of my magazine and onto the carpet like so much flaccid yuletide mincemeat, but a Cosmopolitan Christmas Gift Guide. 

SWEET SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR, IT’S A FEMINIST CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

A few scientific-feminist observations: 

1) The first thing I notice is that, in true Cosmo fashion, the gift guide has a buzzword for this collection of stuff – “Lust-haves”. I could go on a rant about the sexualisation of shopping and commodity fetishism  but it’s Cosmo and Christmas so I let them have their awkward puns. By the time they’ve used it three times within two pages, though, I start quoting Mean Girls, and demanding that the poor unpaid intern who wrote this crap be sacked immediately.

2) There is a lust-have (*GROAN*) personality list.

The first question is “I’ll always invest in”: followed by the following options: a pair of heels, a handbag, some make up a dress or underwear. Because nuclear fusion research, stocks in SONY and industrial sized packs of chocolate oranges aren’t an option to invest in, I write “NONE OF THESE THINGS” in big cartoonish letters like I can stick it to the man. Or Cosmo intern.

Also, because “the cinema” or “that all you can eat Chinese buffet place across the road” aren’t options, my ideal date is either a BLOODY CRUISE ON A PRIVATE BOAT. Or a gig in Paris. Or a candle-lit dinner in a Michelin starred restaurant. Nandos is not an option. I am disappointed.

When it comes to shoes, there’s no option for “Doc Martens” or “sensible pumps I bought from Schuh when they were in a sale”, so I can either choose  from “Louboutins” or “Jimmy Choo” and other crap I don’t have the time or money to even pronounce let alone buy, so I decide that Cosmo doesn’t want me to buy any gifts this year and I skip the exercise altogether.

3) There’s a section called “Perfectly Pink”, and I love the idea of a clueless significant other purchasing presents purely based on what colour they are. This is before I turn the page and see the “Glory of gold” section, which contains so much sparkly rubbish I have to shield my eyes Raiders of the Lost Ark style.

"Don't look, Marion: there's too many sparkly things!"

“Don’t look, Marion: there’s too much sparkly crap!”

4) The only non-outfit or perfume related gifts are an expensive radio that costs TWO HUNDRED QUID, and a stocking filler section containing a digital camera that costs £100. Which, considering the earlier questions asked me about travelling on a goddamn yacht, is no surprise really.

By this point, after thorough research, I’ve deducted that Cosmo thinks the exhaustive list of gifts suitable for women are the following:

Shoes
Shoes
Handbags
Shoes
Make up
Uncomfortable and skimpy lingerie that will inevitably give any lady a massive wedgie
Shoes

Essentially, this entire gift collection should be called Things Not To Get For Your Significant Other Unless You Can Afford The Cool Vintage Radio On Page 5.

Hoo-bloody-ray. Christmas is cancelled.

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Music On The Go: “Team” By Lorde

She’s divided opinions and James Arthur from the top of the UK Single Charts but I can’t help but love Lorde. She’s been killing it this year with her song “Royals” and her new track “Team” is seriously kick ass as well!

An electrohop attack on the big bad cities and overrated artists “Team” is the third single from her Pure Heroine album and the video is truly something as well. Consisting of a world of teenagers living in ruined buildings and North Face coats, Lorde rocks some serious braids whilst people get knocked over on bikes. My description really doesn’t do it justice… Either way, it’s a killer track from a truly killer artist! Enjoy!