Monday, 27 March 2017

This started off as a sleep-deprived rant...

Oh my god this weekend has been tough. It's now one minute past midnight on Monday morning. I have had eight hours sleep in two days, and still can't sleep.

What have I done over the weekend? I've spent hours absorbed in Hardy's Jude the Obscure (and still didn't finish it). My thoughts? I like Hardy's style but bloody hell is he miserable. This is why I'm very much an Austen girl. I can accept that both of them have a subtlety about them, but I like Austen's humour. I'll admit it, I like a happy ending. I don't mind misery, but ultimately I like all the ends tying up.

I read a blog on the perils of YA romances this week, additionally. She talked about the same-ness of the male protagonists. I've been thinking this for a while but felt I would be doing a disservice to my favourite genre. I have a fondness for YA literature due to its diverse range of topics, and the relatability. I feel issues are viewed from multiple points of view and sympathies for minor characters are available. But Melissa observes the unrealistic nature of their plots; 'The main character has never in her life been to a party and the first guy she meets is this extremely attractive bad boy who loves reading and listens to indie music?  I’m more likely to meet Jesus at that party than such a guy'.

And it is true of most YA novels these days. I expressed, to a close friend last week, a need to branch out with regard to literature. I need a new genre to obsess over for a little while. I spend the large part of my years waiting for new releases in the YA genre. This sameness is not true of the whole genre, however. I remain truly loyal to Jennifer Niven, Sarah J Maas, Samantha Shannon and many others. But I am slowly realising that I prefer YA fantasy novels for the moment, and my Fairy Loot subscription is aiding me in this appreciation.

On a side note, I thought I'd let you know that Fairy Loot will be dispatched today and arrive in the next few days. So you can expect an unboxing coming soon!

I also read this article which views Beauty and the Beast as a tale of caution against 'smart homes'. Characters are compared to the Amazon Echo's functions; deciding that Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs Potts are much superior to Alexa. Apparently the surveillance of the magic mirror is a little creepy, too. This was, very much, an interesting read. It was more than just a gushy post about the film (I am guilty of conforming to the gushing!) and I appreciated that.

This weekend I also finished The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon. It is the third book in her series 'The Bone Season' and I've been waiting a while for it. Now that I have finished I will commence my wait for the fourth book. The Bone Season is beautifully complex and frightening. Paige Mahoney is one of my all time favourite protagonists ever. She is nineteen years old (as am I, at the moment) and is now Underqueen! I finished book two, The Mine Order', fist pumping the air in the name of her victory. Then I sat worrying about the next book after that cliff hanger. I wasn't ready, emotionally, for everything that happened in this book. All the ends that I hoped would begin to tie themselves up, that didn't. This is a book of Paige Mahoney getting screwed over consistently and I just want to hug her all the way through. I loved the new characters that we got to meet, and I wept for the existing characters that we lost. But I was so happy to see the return of characters like Warden, Nick and Eliza alongside Paige. I almost cannot bear to wait for book four, which I have learnt is book four of seven.

Well despite no sleep, I have clearly spent my weekend reading a variety of different things. I hope you all had a lovely couple of days!

See you all soon.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast; a review

I am sorry to the few readers that I do have, for my week long absence. It has been a week of sleep deprivation, of tears, panic attacks and downright stress. It has been a lonely week and I have been trying to make time to write here all week, but unfortunately deadlines have gotten in the way. I handed the last one for a few weeks in yesterday morning at half past eight. I am not particularly happy with said essays but I've come to the conclusion that, due to my crippling insecurities, I will never be one hundred percent happy with any assignment that I hand in. If I ever see a copy of The Great Gatsby again, it will be too soon, my friends.


Anyway, last night I treated myself to leaving the house. I went to the cinema for the first time in what feels like forever with a couple of friends. We went to watch Beauty and the Beast. I have so so much to say and most of it will be gushing. I apologise in advance. If you don't want any spoilers then look away now. If you'd rather read a summary by Dan Stevens, then here you are;

 'Novel-loving Belle (Emma Watson) lives a peaceful life with her father (Kevin Kline), but it seems as if she’s destined for spinsterhood. Until, that is, a chain of events leads her to a mysterious and decrepit castle, occupied by a furry brute with anger issues (Dan Stevens)'.


Okay, so I want to start by addressing a request that was made of the film a few weeks ago; it was asked that the homosexual moments be removed for Malaysian release I have never thought this to be a reasonable request, but after seeing it I realised that this would be virtually impossible. There were homosexual moments between Gaston and Le Fou littered throughout the film and they were far from cringe worthy. They were hardly worth banning. Though I read this morning that these requests had been dropped and I'm so glad. Having grown up watching Beauty and the Beast more than any other film, ever, I felt that Le Fou's character was always lacking something. He has always had a devoted sense of loyalty to Gaston, and yet no motive. However, the possibility that he may be in love with the Captain and that is why he participates in the condemnation of 'crazy old Maurice'. There was a real sense of character development in this version. My favourite moment with Le Fou appears towards the end of the film. The villagers are attacking the castle, and he seems to switch sides after a conversation with Mrs Potts. She informs him that he deserves much better than the way he is treated by Gaston.

These new and exciting back stories and motives are absolutely amazing. For example, we discover the reason why Gaston is so quick to go after the beast; he craves another war like experience in order to add meaning to his now empty life. Le Fou is able to calm him down with the mention of the tragedies of war and thoughts of lonely widows help particularly well in this case, apparently.

Even Belle and Maurice had a back story, and the story of Belle's mother is finally revealed to us. I loved finding out more about their little family. It made the characters seem so much more human and realistic. The same occurs with the Beast. And not only did the Beast have a past, but he has much more of a character in this remake. He is a book worm and rather than relying upon Belle to civilise him, and teach him to read he states that he had an 'expensive education'. The story became much more about two book worms falling in love and I loved this so much more than her educating him. I loved Dan Stevens in Downton Abbey so seeing him in a remake of my favourite childhood film was magical. Additionally, Empire points out that the Beast resembles Pan's Labyrinth's faun. I absolutely love this film! Belle questions whether or not every object in the castle was once a person; picking up a hairbrush. This was refreshing! She seemed more clever, and even more emotionally invested in her literature.




The songs from my childhood were still included and if it was appropriate to break into song in the middle of the cinema, I would have done. The beautiful thing about the songs was the additions to them. There were the occasional words that had been altered, and in some cases there were brand new songs. I think that I went into the cinema with a mind ready to make comparisons between my child hood favourite, and this highly anticipated remake. It is entirely possible to draw comparisons. But eventually, you have to appreciate the, for having merits of their own and begin to disassociate one from the other. These new songs and alterations enabled me to do this; to keep one separate from the other. My favourite song will always be Belle. But the CGI involved in Be Our Guest made it even more of a close second than ever. It was enchanting. However, I will express extreme disappointment at the removal of my favourite line from the song 'Gaston'; 'Nobody persecutes harmless crack pots like Gaston'.

Belle's refusal of Gaston reminded me of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Belle informs him that they cannot make each other happy. To me, I heard Elizabeth's refusal of Mr Collins as she informs him that she is quite sure she is the last women that could make him happy. However, one thing I did not enjoy was the fact that Gaston attempted to compliment Belle's carrying of a book in order to gain her favour. Gaston doesn't appreciate her intelligence at all.

I am still puzzled by the role of the enchantress. She appears again at the end of the film. Yet she is silence. Hmm.

Anyway, I absolutely loved this film if that wasn't already clear. It was what I had been waiting for and more. I'm so excited for it to be out on DVD. The characterisation, the mise en scene, and the music was all perfect. They cast the perfect Belle. I one hundred percent recommend this! Especially in 3D!

I am however bitter that I lost at a game of bowling before the film.

I hope you've all had wonderful days. I now have Milton's Paradise Lost to contend with, whilst listening to a wonderful blend of both Beauty and the Beast soundtracks. Milton was made much more entertaining this morning; my lecturer's showed up with fig leaves, apples, and a scythe. I was thoroughly amused and confused this morning. It made getting up early on a Wednesday morning so much more worth it!

One last thing; Soph and Dan asked me for a shout out in todays post. Thank you for the entertainment guys, but for gods sake talk quieter.

Enjoy the rest of your week guys!



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Dear younger me,

Okay, so I've been away for a few days again. I haven't had more than twelve hours sleep over three days so I've been trying to stay awake and do some uni work. But tonight I want to introduce to you my friend, Lauren. Lauren and I decided to do a collaborative blog post and after much deliberation of topics, we decided to write a joint letter to our younger selves. This is going to be interesting. It was insightful and we had a lot of fun writing and discussing the important things that have led us to this point in our lives.

Dear younger Lauren and Steph,

Lauren;
Hello!
I've decided that there are some things that I would like to tell you, things that you really need to know. The bad news? The rough patch is going to last for a quite a while. The good news? You come out a stronger person (cliché, I know). I am going to work under the pretence that there is a parallel universe in which you exist on the timeline of my life. I know you are not there, because you're here and a part of me. But if I think about it too much I'll never be able to write this post.

1. First of all you are goddamn beautiful. You really need to hear this from yourself. I know that this is technically cheating, because I'm the one with hindsight between the two of us, so you need to pull your weight too and start practising some self-love. By the way, beautiful doesn't always mean physical appearance. You look great just as you are, but are also so much more than that.

2. Secondly, have confidence in your opinions. Don't get me wrong here, you will receive the usual commentrary; 'bloody socialist commie leftist snowflake femininazi'. I don't expect you to grow a thick skin because, after all, you really are a wonderfully sensitive snowflake, however, don't let it silence you. You won't feel very confident in politics but you know how you feel on individual topics and that's okay. Keep learning.

3. You need to know that it is okay to say no. Okay listen, I know that your life generally revolves around being a people-pleaser (and to tell you the truth, it still does) but that doesn't mean you have to say 'yes' to things you don't want to do. This goes for social events, do-you-want-to-go-out-with-mes, hugging, personal favours, sexual favours, loaning money, completing work for others and giving free art work.

4. Stick up for yourself. You know that phrase; 'treat others how you want to be treated?'. Don't forget how you want to be treated. I'm sorry to say that there will come a time when you are treated badly, and I want you to remember that you can walk away.

5. You are not 'too sensitive'. You are sensitive. You cry at almost everything happy or sad.


Steph;

I think of my younger self as this fragile little thing. I remember that she had a dodgy hair cut, ridiculously bad make up but so so much love and potential. I remember that she just ached to be better. I wish she had known what I know now. But if you think about it too much, you realise that if she had not gone through all of these experiences, we wouldn't be the people that we are today. There are so so many things that I wish I could tell a younger me now. Especially in times of distress. I worry about this younger me that l imagine to live in a strange parallel universe. This is a strange thought and so easy to over think.

1. Normal is a cycle on a washing machine. I know that it feels like you are beyond loving. But you are not broken and you will never be broken. You are not normal and you never will be. But embrace and celebrate this. You are weird and wonderful. So embrace your unpopular opinions; be a feminist, and a socialist, be left wing. None of these things are bad. Don't you dare lose your 'muchness'.

2. You need to know that you are stronger and braver than you think (Yes, I think that's a quote from Winnie the Pooh). But this is so important. I promise you that there will be a day when you will not need to carve marks into your skin just so that you can breathe. Doing this does not make you broken, or damaged. You do not need to be ashamed. You will come out on the other side and you will be stronger.

3. Be careful who you give your heart to. There is a reason that the boy has a bad reputation. Heed the warnings. You will not be different to him and you cannot fix him. He may break your precious kittle heart. But giving your heart away applies to friends too. You give love far too easily. Don't forget that self-love is a valuable lesson.

4. Write more, please. And read, and learn. Don't stop doing any of things. Your character and growth depends on them. You have so many beautiful things to say and books are good friends.

5. Finally, I know that you feel lonely sometimes. But the friends that you need are years away, and I am not going to tell you when. But I promise that they will be special and worth the wait. You can do this on your own for the time being. I need you to try not to hurt yourself any more than you need to. I promise that there are plenty of people out there that will do that for you.

I wonder how younger me would react to actually reading this list. I wonder if anything would change. I cannot tell you guys enough how much I enjoyed writing this post, even though parts of it were difficult to write! It has changed my outlook on so many things and there is nobody else I would have rather have written this post with than Lauren. I've found myself appreciating even some of the negative experiences. Huge amounts of credit to my one of my closest friends Lauren. You can find her blog here and she is wonderful.

I hope you have a wonderful week guys.


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day...

Good afternoon guys.

I'm going to start by saying how much of  good morning I had today! I was actually on time for my bus for once! And my lecture on The Duchess of Malfi was so engaging. I have a fondness for the revenge tragedy. I love it.

Okay, so today is International Women's Day and I've heard a variety of different things today.In the lift I heard a group of girls express disappointment with the day. She felt that our inferiority was being singled out because we were women. I've also read articles today that question the lack of an international day for men. If you're going to make sweeping statements like that and claim that today is a prime example of sexism, then you should really do your research first. International Men's day falls on the 19th of November, every year.  The Telegraph, quoting the World Economic Forum, pointed out that the pay gap that sees 'men earn more than women won't close until 2186' and to top it off, women are worse off than men with regard to both education and health quality. Why are some of us still okay, and accepting, of this?

So when I hear days like this responded to, by women, with mocking and jokes and the word 'femi-nazi', I do take offence. I totally respect that everybody is entitled to their own opinion and hey, feminism isn't for everybody. But believe it or not there are women out there who do want equal rights for both genders. It is not about superiority. I am tired of being made to feel like being a feminist, and wanting to be on an equal footing, is wrong and something outrageous. Feminist is not a dirty word. You are not going to catch anything if you say it. I want that ridiculous pay gap closed, and the glass ceiling shattered. I'm not wrong for that.

On a more positive note, I wanted to pay tribute to the many inspirational women within my life. There are so many women that have shaped and altered my life, both real and fictional. All of my friends and family have had a huge impact upon me. My favourite author, Jennifer Niven, who always makes time to listen to me.  Emma Watson, who is the UN Women Goodwill ambassador. She is truly admirable. Virginia Woolf with her essay collections. Elizabeth Bennet, Lottie from Holly Bourne's What's a Girl Gotta Do. I could sit here all day. These women are brave and unafraid and are inspirations to me.

There's a huge amount to be said for the men that also supported International Women's Day today too, instead of questioning when their day was.

The ranting and gushing is over. Have a lovely Thursday guys!

All the love x



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

From Breasts to Homophobes...

I have been so inactive over the past week and I don't know how people can go weeks at a time without writing, cause I the itch after a couple of days. But I remarked the other day that I could probably carry all the stuff I bring to university in the bags under my eyes this week. (I am sorry if I've said this to you at one point this week!) Seriously, I've had so little sleep over the past seven days. I cannot wait to go home after this class (36 minutes and counting) and nap.

Anyway, first some more social injustice;

So I'll confess that Beauty and the Beast is my childhood favourite and I am super excited to see the live action version that is being released this month. I plan to go to the cinema more than once to see it. Amongst headlines and articles debating the sins of Emma Watson's breasts, I see that this adaptation is going to feature a gay 'moment'. Josh Gad's character Le Fou is homosexual. This is not why I am excited about the film. I'm pleased by it, but this will not affect my opinion of the film. What I don't understand is why this is so outrageous that it may not be screened in locations around the world. Okay, we see films featuring heterosexual relationships all the time! This, my friends, is just a moment! I fail to see what's so awful about it. There really is a blurry line with regard to what is socially acceptable these days. A feminist showing her breasts is wrong, and god forbid that anybody include homosexuality in the film industry.

I found this on The Guardian;

'History’s first overtly gay Disney character, it turns out, is LeFou, unctuous manservant to preening, hyper-macho villain Gaston – an underling who, in Condon’s words, “on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston”'.

If you've seen the animated Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, you'll remember the song that Le Fou sings in order to motivate Gaston, after Belle has rejected him. Le Fou sings about Gaston's superiority in all areas (no one is as slick as Gaston, or as quick as Gaston, and no one's neck is as incredibly thick as Gaston's). I'd say that this admiration and obsession has only been amplified by Condon. The basis for it already existed within the nineties. But just in case what you were wondering what the live action version of this song sounds like... here's a link.

Also, I don't know about you guys but this just reminded me of Nick Carraway's obsession with Mr Gatsby. I wonder if we have a problem with this because it is being featured in the Disney franchise? It is now a part of something that we refer to as family cinema. But is a gay moment in a family film all we have to worry about? It's laughable. I'd say there is a lot more to fear than what the media are dubbing gay propaganda. Is this a mark of change? I very much doubt it, and the character is minor and humorous. Perhaps it's a start.

Anyway, as others have pointed out, the film is being rejected and criticised on the basis of homosexuality. But what about the fact that a young woman is falling in love with a animal-like beast?!

Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday. See you soon!


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Breasts; the downfall of feminism?

Okay, I have had a lot to say this week and have a super long and super scribbled list of blog posts that need doing. But this, got to me.

This week Emma Watson did this shoot with Vanity Fair, and the reaction was absolutely appalling. These pictures have been declared 'un-feminist' by some, and hypocritical. Julia Hartley-Brewer implied that Emma Watson was wasting her time preaching about wage gaps, and inequality if she was just going to show the world her 'tits'. That she was a hypocrite. So what is the alternative? Why are we suggesting that a woman must remain covered up in order to be taken seriously?! That they should relinquish their femininity to be considered a feminist? As Elle magazine pointed out that being unable to take a woman seriously due to having seen a flash of skin, then it says more about you than it does the woman in question.

Why should this shoot not be considered empowering? I think she's got balls, I would not be able to pose like this. I lack the confidence. So she's shown a little under boob. Are we all so prudish in this brash twenty first century that this makes us uncomfortable?! I prefer to think that it is wonderful that a young woman in a society that is oppressive and shoots her down, is confident enough to bear any part of herself.

James Holt hit back against Harley Brewer, and stated that he didn't realise 'that feminism had a strict dress code' and Watson herself responded that feminism was about liberation and freedom. It is not a stick with which to 'beat women'. I dread to think what critics will say about Watson's anger regarding this. I'm betting that the term 'feminazi' will crop up.

I draw your attention to the sexualised covers of Vanity Fair featuring men:


So it's obvious that these covers are just as revealing, if not more in some cases. Particularly the Spanish edition in the bottom left hand corner. I wonder how much criticism that cover underwent. I wonder if a stark naked woman is more appropriate if she is draped over a men.Why are these sexualised images of men more appropriate than the underside of Emma Watson's breast?

Laura Bates states that whether we like it or not, we 'live in a society where [...] the media is written by men, for men'. On the basis of this, I realise that to have a feminist (a recognised man hater, as far as social media is concerned) featuring in a revealing picture that is not specifically for the purpose of entertaining men would be unsettling and seem rebellious to society. I just cannot work out why. It is, without a doubt, refreshing. Emma Watson makes me very proud of be a woman. Bates points out that 'something big is going to have to shift' for the media to offer women 'more than a place as a commodity or a seat in the audience'. This will something that I will never understand. I hope that women like Watson continue to 'rebel' against this oppression, against these ridiculous attitudes and expectations.
A friend of mine stated that 'you're far too socially conditioned if you think that a woman showing her body is anti-feminist'. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Breasts are not the downfall of feminism. Neither is Emma Watson. Instead of seeing a pair of 'tits' I see a strong, intelligent and talented woman. Women like Julia Harley-Brewer, are the downfalls of feminism. If, as a woman, you are going to respond like this to another woman's body you are giving men license to treat you the same way. I am sure as hell that you're going to have to say something about that.

I'm interested in the reaction to the revelation that Le Fou, from Watson's upcoming film, Beauty and The Beast, is the first openly gay character. It cannot get much worse.






Thursday, 2 March 2017

The candle question

Good evening folks. I just finished my quota of words on my essay for today. I've managed a total of 900 words for today. (I will confess that I wrote most of this essay while I was sat in my last class of monday, I'll admit! I'm sorry to my lecturer if he ever reads this).

Anyway, a friend asked me an interesting question today: If you could make five smells into candles that are unique and mean something to you, what would you choose? I was suffering with writers block and she thought it would be a good way to help me out of it. This is the same friend that sat on the floor with me yesterday morning when I showed up to uni after having four hours sleep, and was exhausted. She sat on the floor with me so that neither of us looked odd. A random act of kindness goes a long way folks.

Anyway, I found that this was quite a hard question and I only got as far as four.

But here goes nothing;

1. New books! There is nothing better than getting a new book. The first thing I do when they arrive in their amazon packaging, is open them a tiny bit and breathe it in. I've probably made myself sound super weird and am going to lose the few readers I have.
2. Old books! Old books have like a dusty smell to them, but I kind of like it. Anyone else?
3. The smell of rain; why? Rain is calming, I think. I like running in the rain too.
4. Toast. I know this one is weird. But I'm going to leave it here and not explain it. It's a smell I'll always associate with good memories.

Yesterday I had been up twenty hours.

Now I'm starting an assignment. Lets see if I can't beat that record.

I plan to reward myself with another post before bed. See you soon guys!