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!

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The Petitioner’s Guide: Know What You’re Signing!

The internet has given us easy access to be part of big changes, the recent selfie craze is just one example. But I’m not going to dwell on charity today. With a variety of websites set up for members of the public to officially share their protests worldwide, it’s more accessible than ever to voice issues and rally for support. For me,  there’s nothing like a good petition or protest; any opportunity to raise concerns or be part of a much needed change should be grasped with both hands! And so, when a petition started being shared across my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, I thought I’d have a look to see what it was all about!

Sophie Jones, a 19 year-old cervical cancer sufferer, tragically died last Saturday. Being denied a smear test by her doctor after months of stomach pain, due to the age restriction of 25, contributed to this; she was not diagnosed quickly enough and therefore treatment came too late. Sophie’s Choice is the online e-petition created as a result of Sophie’s devastating story, urging the smear test age to be lowered to 16 years old. Of course, I thought ‘why the hell not?’, and began filling out the e-petition form –

When I decided to stop.

I realised I had no true, in depth knowledge of the case – only the biased and emotive response of the family plugging the petition and articles that supported such a perspective. Much like many causes with an underlining current of emotions, the petition appears to have gone viral across social media, reaching national news headlines a day after posting. I can’t help but wonder how many people, out of the hundreds of thousands of petitioners, have gathered the facts before signing something that could implement any amount of change to our nationally run systems.

Stumbling across this article, my mind was changed completely. Knowledge has always been and will always be power, especially in protesting. It dawned on me that I didn’t know the procedure’s science; smear tests have been proven to be useless at detecting cancer development in women under the age of 25 due to cell changes still occurring in the cervix. This bears the mandatory testing in younger women as an unnecessary and painful process to put them (including myself) through. If it was more direct to the real issue with the health department – that treatment should be given based on symptoms not age restrictions – I would still jump to signing. But amidst emotion, the right question has, unfortunately, been lost.

So, please, I urge you all – before being swayed by emotional pleas or an entire friend’s list of shares – to look at the facts. Whilst you may feel that what you’re doing is for the best when you’re first seduced by a tragic story, in reality it could be pointless or harmful, or it may be that a completely different issue needs fighting.

Required Watching: “My Mad Fat Diary”

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If there was a television show that should be placed in the school curriculum, it’s Channel 4’s “My Mad Fat Diary.” I might be a twenty-one year old woman who’s trying to do adult-related things like pay bills and look for a full-time job, but I still find myself emotionally invested in this teen television series to the extent that I’m 4OD-ing the next episode. I can’t help it—I’m addicted—and not only because Nico Mirallegro plays the love interest.

We’re near the end of season two right now, but to those who haven’t watched the show, let me inform you of the basics. Meet Rae (played by the wonderful Sharon Rooney), a sixteen year old girl who has come out of a four month stay at a psychiatric hospital after an attempted suicide—a fact that she needs to keep concealed from her friend Chloe and her new group of mates. The synopsis might seem a little heavy, but it’s a show that explores everyday teen problems, and with the voice of reason, Kester (her councillor/AKA Professor Quirrel), these problems are (sometimes) solved. Oh, and did I mention that it’s set in 1996?

Yeah, it’s set in 1996, which means a great soundtrack and music metaphors (like you being the only Oasis fan in a world full of Blur worshippers–Oh, the pain!). Each show, I fall in love with a new song that I’ve either forgotten/never heard of (hey, I was pretty young in 1996). So, if the teen flick isn’t exactly your style, at least watch for all the nostalgic references, because I tell you—there are plenty!

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One thing that will make you fall in love with MMFD is the humour. It’s a show filled to the brim with one-liners that come so fast it takes me a moment to think and laugh. Plus, Rae’s inner-monologues are the filthiest thoughts that you would never have imagined coming from a sixteen year old. And I love her for it. In series one, she wants to shag one male character until, and I quote, ‘there is nothing left but a pair of glasses and a wet patch.’

The fact that Rae is an honest depiction of a teenager experiencing the ups-and-downs of adolescence is the reason why the show is must-watch television. Well, Rae’s anxieties and insecurities are more acute than your average teen, but watching her body hang-ups was something I understood. As a viewer, it brought back memories of my time at school and the shame I felt about my body image—I’m sure I’m not alone on this. The show bravely tackles the issues that young women face, such as the media and its pressure on its spectator to excel the “perfect” kind of beauty.  By exploring these topics, “My Mad Fat Diary” brings comfort to its young viewers; a message that says, ‘hey, it’s rough being a teen out there, but you’re not alone.’

Its multi-dimensional characterisation doesn’t just start and end with the protagonist, but I assure you if you haven’t already, go and find out for yourself, because we’re deep into the second series and the characters are still as strong as ever. My only wish was that “My Mad Fat Diary” was made earlier to replace the endless amount of American rich kids programmes such as “The OC” and “One Tree Hill,” because, finally, there’s a programme where I can actually relate to the main character. Well, I say “finally”, there was ITV’s “Girl’s in Love”, but even then the show skimmed over some of the more serious issues (but with phrases like ‘yuck sandwich’ it’ll always have a place in my heart).  So, Channel 4, I can only hope—no, I pray—that you commission series three, because if it doesn’t happen, as Rae would say, ‘it would make me wanna punch myself in my tit.’

Images via http://mymadfatdiarygifs.tumblr.com/

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A Birthday Blog: 5 Things for Feminists To Actually Do In Their Twenties*

*If they want to, I mean. This is the end of the Third Wave/start of the Fourth Wave and all. Who the hell am I to tell you what to do?

So, today, the 20th March in the year 2014, is my birthday. I am twenty years old. Woo.  

OHEMGEESITSMABIRFDAY

I thought I’d take some time out of my day to reflect on a little internet nugget that has been floating about on my Facebook feed for a while now. No, not that somewhat well intentioned yet misguided “No make up selfie” one, there are enough blog posts criticising that right now. I mean the now infamous “X list of things to do when/before you are Age Y” article.

In particular, now that I am an official member of the twenties club, I’m focusing on a particular article on Thought Catalog that’s done the rounds of late, “Five Things women need to do in their twenties or else the suffragists died for nothing” which is a sort of lovechild subgroup of the horrific “things to do in your twenties” brand of buzzfeed/studentbeans articles. Because if there’s two things that generation Y loves on the t’internet, it’s a) pointless lists and b) THINGS WHICH MAKE YOU FUCKING PARANOID ABOUT WASTING YOUR PRIME ADULT YEARS.

100% Accurate Venn Diagram Lovingly Crafted By Yours Truly

100% Accurate Venn Diagram Lovingly Crafted By Yours Truly

Anyhow, days after people flagged out the obscenity of this article, it turns out it was written by a guy for a joke.  If that information doesn’t point out how shitty and poorly researched the world of ThoughtCatalog is, I give up with you people.

Anywho, in light of my new age group and the busting of the article, here’s I think feminist women should actually do in their twenties. If you want.

1) Vote, and Be All Political and Stuff

Hey! Voting is fun. Women threw themselves under horses and starved themselves so you could have the right to do this, so why not actually fucking do it rather than complaining. Turns out the suffragists were not so much about travelling and getting a tan so much as using your political autonomy to have a say in how your local and national councils represent you both nationally and internationally. Whodathunkit.

She knows where it's at.

She knows where it’s at.

And if you hate politics, why not do something about it? Don’t “forget” to vote or be too apathetic to bother. Campaign for a better system. Make signs and stand in public places and shout for a bit. Petition councils and governments. Get mad. Do stuff. Don’t sit there on your arse.

2) Know Stuff About The World Around You

That means actually knowing stuff that’s happening which can have an impact on a global scale, e.g. that situation in Ukraine’s that’s a been a bit whacked up recently. Do you know what’s going on like a well-informed and person, or are you too busy to care?

Likewise, there are issues that are not traditionally associated with western Europe but still occur here and worldwide such as FGM, forced marriages, lack of access to education, lack of access to knowledge sources, lack of political representation etc etc etc. Go read a few books, watch the news, know stuff. Then think and act on’t.

3) Actually Like Your Body For Once

If you treat your body gently and with respect then you can look however the hell you want to. Fat? IDGAF. Skinny? Likewise. It’s high time for the fat tummy and chubby arms appreciation society. Knowing yourself and respecting yourself is an important step on the way to adulthood. Go do that.

When I Google "Happy Women" a Lot of Stock Images of This Kind Show Up. Don't Be  a Moron and Jump About in Cornfields Like a Pleb (Unless You Want To). Just Be Happy In Your Own Skin.

When I Google “Happy Women” a Lot of Stock Images of This Kind Show Up. Don’t Be a Moron and Jump About in Cornfields Like a Pleb (Unless You Want To). Just Be Happy In Your Own Skin.

4) Know That Intersectionality Exists, Work Towards Understanding It

Being an intersectional feminist does not mean “I am privileging race over gender”. As a white woman I occupy a certain area of inherited privilege. If I understand when I fuck up and use that privilege unknowingly, apologise, learn from it, and do my best to not do it again and help understand and help improve experience of women who occupy a more discriminated sphere than myself (trans women, black women, Asian women, disabled women), then I’ll have at least done something. Privilege is a real shitty thing in this society which we need to change. One of the first things you can do is understand that notion of “privilege”, how you are “privileged”, and how that relates in real time in society.

5) Understand that You Have Rights and Responsibilities, and That Action Must Be Taken When Necessary to Protect Them.

If you don’t pay the slightest attention to anything else in this article, then read this point.

As human beings, we all have rights and responsibilities. I have the right to be safe, healthy, well represented with an autonomous voice – and the responsibility to use them to the best of my ability, and not infringe the rights of others or be an arse to anyone else. If my rights or responsibilities are threatened, or if the rights and responsibilities of any other group I know are being threatened, it’s my obligation to give a crap. Again, whether that’s signing a petition or standing on a picket line, THE TRICK IS TO AT LEAST DO SOMETHING rather than writing a Facebook post about it.

Here’s to doing something decent with the next ten years of my life.

You could always follow VFM on Twitter or Facebook if you don’t like lists OR posts about Things To Do In Your Twenties. Because most articles on here aren’t that. Promise.

Selfies for Science? Hashtag: No Make Up…

Some of you (and by some I mean anybody that has had access to a Facebook account for the last 24 hours) would have found selfies of fresh-faced ladies scattered across (or clogging up) your news feed. ‘What’s so different about that?’ you may ask. Appart from their apparent lack of make-up, each selfie also consists of a list of ‘nominations’, a plug for cancer awareness, and an apparent claim to support the fight against the world’s most prominent illness. But something’s not quite right…

That’s right, things are about to get a whole lot controversial on here!

So, what’s so wrong with a bunch of beautiful women bearing all in the name of supporting the fight against cancer? Nothing. Share those natural faces more often, I say! It’s a sad reality that women feel the need to hide behind a cause to reveal themselves as they truly are, and – perhaps – this is one way to combat low esteem in body image. Yet, the sadder reality is that ‘nothing‘ is exactly the result of the girls’ efforts and attempts. There are very rarely links to fundraising, or hospice support, or evidence that the participants are involved in any form of literal support. There is only an image on a scrolling newsfeed that will disappear quickly into the non-viewed realms of the internet. And it’s a shame.

As for the awareness side of things, I think we’re all more than aware of cancer itself, which – it appears to me – is the only form of ‘awareness’ I’m finding on my newsfeed. It’s a somewhat shallow viewpoint. What we aren’t aware of are the different charities that aid sufferers in a variety of different ways. We aren’t aware of the different forms of cancer. Many aren’t aware of how drastically it can effect someone’s life, or those around them. And we most certainly aren’t aware of how this ‘selfie support’ is meant to transpire into literal aid.

Whilst I respect that people feel the need to show their support, why not show support by contributing to the battle so many are fighting? Go ahead and take no-make up selfies, nominate a bunch of friends to do it too, but throw in a donation to any established cancer research or hospices! Make it worth the post. Take it a step further and get people to sponsor you in a week or month of no make-up – in a modern world seduced by body image, this might be a challenge for you, but supporting the cause should always be a challenge in respect to the sufferers. The idea of ‘no make-up selfies’ could go a long way if it’s real fundraising or support potential is uncovered. Not only is it great in defying the media’s perspective on beauty but a great form of approachable fund-raising that anyone can be a part of! Or do something REALLY crazy! Long hair? Chop it off to help children going through cancer treatment feel happier in themselves (www.littleprincesses.org.uk). Like sports? Join in on your local Race for Life! Or if you’re really crazy, why not jump out a plane for charity?

The thrilling moment I decided to go in for the chop myself! All hair donated to the Little Princess Trust.

It’s not as hard as it looks girls! (The thrilling moment I decided to go in for the chop myself. All hair donated to the Little Princess Trust)

It’s great to see so many people publically displaying their support in one of the biggest (and longest) wars humans have ever begun. But, let’s be honest, it’s going to take a lot more than words and digital code; the ease of just saying the word ‘support’ and hoping for a better outcome undermines the struggle of sufferers and efforts people are going to in order to really support the fight.

Are you a ‘selfie for support’ taker? Did you donate? What are your thoughts on the ‘internet craze’? Leave your comments below!

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Veronica Mars: The Bitch is Back

'A long time ago, we used to be friends...'

‘A long time ago, we used to be friends…’

It’s a perfectly good Saturday night and I could be anywhere (in any of my local old man pubs or studying at home) but I’m in a cinema in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers watching the Veronica Mars movie. Veronica Mars, for those of you not up to date with your 2004 American teen noir, is a teenage detective living in the corrupt town of Neptune and played by Kristen Bell. She’s less Nancy Drew and more Nancy Screw-you (because you don’t mess with the Mars) and she’s back after nearly a decade of silence, thanks to the life-giving powers of Kickstarter.

I’m not sure how much there is in the film for casual viewers, but for fans of the show and noir, there is a lot to enjoy here. The film suffers from a slight lack of pacing, and probably one too many cameos and injokes (did James Franco need to be there? That is the question you ask yourself) but it delivers jumps, laughs and one liners to an engaging degree. So, to all involved in the film- well done! You didn’t waste all that Kickstarter money on a private yacht party. In fact, the lack of faux-gritty handheld camera shots attests to a significant part of the budget being spent on tripods, which I heartily commend.

But because I’m churlish and a general party pooper, I have three questions to ask of the movie.

***WARNING: Though I’ve tried to not give too much away, the following does contain some mild spoilers***

1. Is being true to the fans and being true to the story and characters the same thing?

Brooding, steamy glances are present and accounted for.

Brooding, steamy glances are present and accounted for.

While Kickstarter campaigns for films are not a new thing, Veronica Mars was certainly the most high profile, having broken several records with the campaign. Warner Brothers were not exactly bending over to finance a cancelled teen show from yesteryear, but the fandom came through. Sourpusses like me were concerned that because of this the film, in trying to please the fans who had paid for it, would become little more than Logan and Veronica fanfiction. Just some backstory here: Peeps hate Piz, Veronica’s boyfriend at the start of the movie, because he’s just so nice and loving and generally not getting accused of murder. Logan on the other hand is the series’ Heathcliff; he’s broody, he’s full of passion and wild love, and oh yeah, he’s psychotic, violent, and keeps winding up with a dead ex-girlfriend. What a catch!

However, despite my misgivings, the film actually did a decent job of treading the tightrope between wanting to deliver the best film possible to the fans who had paid for it, and pandering. It gave the fans (and let’s be honest, who else is going to be watching the film?) exactly what they wanted; with a side helping of doom, gloom and ‘things will probably go downhill from here’. It’s a pretty sweet ride, with undertones of tragedy. I concede that the fans knew what they were doing: Fans 1 : Sourpusses 0.

2. Can a film ever really capture all of the magic of a good TV series?

Veronica Mars: the only franchise where a woman lurking in a corner with a camera makes me feel nostalgic.

Veronica Mars: the only franchise where a woman lurking in a corner with a camera makes me feel nostalgic.

Making a film of a TV series is not a task for the faint hearted. In one medium you will have had seasons and years of character development and storylines, with time to build it all up convincingly, while in the other medium you are necessarily condensing it all into something easy to digest in under two hours. I was worried that Veronica’s contradictory, flawed and oh so badass character was going to get shrinkwrapped into little more than a caricature- but she survived largely intact. If there was one thing they had to jettison to streamline the story it was all of her random acts of kindness. Casual viewers will probably be left more afraid than enamoured with Veronica, but you can’t help but for feel for the girl when Madison Sinclair is a Mega Bitch at the reunion.

The film couldn’t provide all of the complexities and characterisation of the TV series (there is just not enough time to do that), however, it did top the TV series in one very important facet- with the removal of the white knight figure. Veronica’s one tough cookie, but eventually (and almost always in the series finale) she’ll end up alone with a psychopath and needing rescuing from either Logan or her dad, and it hasn’t always sat right with me. Guess who rescues Veronica from her inevitable brush with a psychopath in the movie? Veronica. Boom. Sisters be doing it for themselves!

3. How much Veronica is too much Veronica?

Will we be seeing all these lovely peeps together again soon?

Will we be seeing all these lovely peeps together again soon?

So- is this the end of the line for Veronica or is a Kickstarter campaign for a sequel hovering in the wings? The story was left deliberately open ended to allow for such an event. Do we need another film? Did we need this one? One of the reasons I wouldn’t want a sequel is because every Veronica vehicle tends to end in the calm before the shitstorm- the girl can solve crimes, but only by booking herself and her friends and family first class tickets on a trainwreck. Veronica spent so much of the series trying to get out of her hellhole of a town and getting over her feelings for Logan- if she goes back to it all it is just not going to end well. I love the character so much that I’m not sure I can sit and watch her torture herself over endless sequels.

Who am I kidding? Of course I can. Like any addict, if there’s Meth going, I want some. Whether it should be on offer is another question.

In conclusion, its not often that Veronica Mars makes me less cynical, but this film did a good job of, if not silencing my inner critic, at least stuffing my inner fan with so many marshmallows that it was a worthwhile trip back to Neptune. Now, where’s the Meth at?

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Are You The One? Dear God I Hope Not!

As The Captain and Tenille once famously sang, “Love… love will keep us together.” Powerful words that have resonated throughout the ages from 1930s housewives waiting for their menfolk to return from war to struggling first year uni students who are giving the long-distant thing a go. They are words to live by. Unless that is if you’re a contestant on MTV’s romance-yeah-right-have-sex-in-Hawaii-and-bitch-about-it-all-day-long-get-me-someone-to-love-NOW dating show, Are You The One?

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The cast of Are You The One? Peace!

It’s the classic tale of fame-hungry sexually-frustrated post-teen hunks and “fabulous” women who travel to a desert island in Hawaii in order to find their love, whilst sweaty men with cameras over their arms capture the whole thing for our enjoyment. Only this time, MTV have gone all scientific! That’s right, readers, SCIENCE has matched these contestants up in pre-production and now it is their job to find out who is their perfect match in order for the twenty contestants to split one million dollars! The twist? They only have ten weeks to match up or they go home with nothing because apparently finding your soulmate and a ten-week paid vacation in the most beautiful part of the world just isn’t prize enough!

There are many contestants, with a vast range of beauty and cuntish behaviour! My personal favourites come in the form of Shanley and Chris T. Both beautiful, both ready to be rogered in the pool and both absolutely besotted with one another. They seem ideal mates. He enjoys a nice booty and doesn’t mind being screamed at hysterically when drunk and she likes muscles and enjoys screaming at him hysterically when she’s drunk. Overall, they are drunk-tastic together. There’s just one problem, when they enter the Truth Booth, it is announced that they are not a match.

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Shanley is not a happy bunny when Chris T. and Paige are declared perfect matches for one another.

Oh yeah, did I mention there was a Truth Booth?! That’s right! If the rest of the house think that two people are a match then they go into the Truth Booth and after some fancy lights that look like scanners go up and down their body, they  are told if they are a match or not. Sadly, it was the latter for Chris T. and Shanley. Although she is desperate to become Mrs T. there is no hope for them. You see, here in lies the problem with Are You The One? Contestants have to do some SERIOUS soul-searching and really ask themselves the question of whether love is better than money. Turns out, it is! As recently, Chris T. found his soulmate in the form of sexy blonde, Paige. She’s actually very lovely, gullible in the way she falls hook, line and sinker for real New Yorrrrrrrrker Chris S. who looks like an ungenerous lover and proves it after sweet talking her into bed and bragging about it to anyone bored enough to listen, but other than that she’s a real doll. And sadly, after Shanley goes to a rampage ’round the house slagging everyone off for selecting Chris and Paige for the Truth Booth treatment (even though it was an inevitability) before sobbing uncontrollably into his shoulder about how science is wrong and what they have is real, her lover must leave the house with his scientific counterpart to the honeymoon suite set up by show’s producers. Whether they like it not!

Although Paige has hopes that she and Chris T. might get to know each other a little better and see if there is a spark, her efforts fall on deaf ears:

‘I’ll take the couch,’ he mutters to her upon arrival at their swish hotel room.

‘Won’t be needing these,’ She sneers as she dusts rose petals off the bed aggressively.

It’s classic MTV. Everything you could possibly want from a “dating” show is accounted for: a presenter too old to be there, sexy romping sessions in a bubble bath, a skinny and camp brunette who is so girl-obsessed he’s GOT to be overcompensating for something and not to mention, it is tattoo porn!

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Call me crazy but I don’t think Chris and Paige are gonna make it…

Don’t get my wrong, if there was an award for Trashiest But Best Thing On Television, this show would be going home with it! It has changed the game in regards to Bad/Good television. You know like most people justify their poor viewing habits with the line, “It’s like a train wreck, you can’t look away!” With Are You The One? It’s a train wreck you wanna stare at all day long, laughing hysterically at the wreckage and uttering the words, “She’s such a bitch!” to the bikini-clad survivors! I’m rooting for no one and everyone in equal measure and loving every second!

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