Unnecessary Poise.

Over the past few days, actress Leslie Jones has been on the receiving end of a shedload of abuse from anonymous keyboard warriors because of her starring role in the new Ghostbusters movie. The movie has attracted a lot of attention as the main characters are all female (the original characters were all men). As she is both black and female, she has been subjected to what’s known as ‘misogynoir’ because of this.

Many have come out in support and to defend her against the unwarranted abuse she has endured, but naturally, she was very upset- she even had someone create an account that looked like hers and sending homophobic tweets. 

But among all the vicious content sent to her, one tweet caught my eye. It was from someone (a woman no less) who decided that Jones’ natural reaction was unbecoming of a woman and tweeted that to her instead of, y’know, support: 

‘More poise’? I beg your pardon? 

So she’s getting dogs abuse hurled at her from various people/trolls and you expect to be demure and ladylike in her responses? Because she cannot possibly react like a normal human being and be allowed to give back what these people deserve. 

As the line in the legendary Pharcyde song ‘Runnin” goes: ‘There comes a time in every man’s life when they’ve gotta handle shit…’ There is a time and place for rapier wit and pithy one-liners and some situations call for exactly that. But when you are called a nigger, an ape and countless other disgusting slurs just for doing your job, sometimes the only way to respond is to fight back. If she has to swear and cuss, so be it- it is an absolutely understandable reaction. 

As for this woman telling her- a black woman -to act with more poise when confronted with such offensive comments: how unbelievably patronising. How dare you tell her how she should behave and react to such unrelenting abuse? I am not one of those people who thinks that people should turn the other cheek every time something horrible happens or is said to them. Even then, we- and others -can be so taken aback that we don’t respond in the necessary way. She was subjected to all this purely because of her race and gender and you want her to reply like she’s meek and mild. Various other women with an online presence have to deal with disgusting, inflammatory, rude and hateful comments on a daily basis, simply because of their race and gender or because they do not act in the ‘way a woman should’. So for this silly girl to tweet this nonsense is insulting and buys into the BS regarding how women should behave.

Leslie Jones tweeted a reply to her and (though it took a while), eventually this girl realised the extent of the situation and how traumatic it was for Jones and how she managed to feed into it by making it sound like Jones was making a mountain out of a molehill. 

I’m not even going to get into the whole situation regarding certain persons on Twitter and how they appeared to fuel the fire for others to aim their vitriol at Leslie Jones- I’m looking at this from a different angle. Despite Twitter banning some of those who sent abusive tweets to Jones, she has unsurprisingly taken a break from social media as a result. Will she be back? Who knows.  

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Popping My Intergalactic Cherry.

Tonight, the force awakened and I did something I never thought I would do. I lost my cherry…with Star Wars.

I am one of about seven people on this planet who has never watched a Star Wars film. I didn’t care for it- a bunch of people in space fighting each other. A battle of Good vs Evil within one family that affects the entire Galaxy (I’ve known the spoilers for years so it makes no difference to me). I once confused Star Wars with Star Trek and my friends were so stunned they actually gasped and shook their heads at me. I’m still not sure they are over it.
But tonight- to coincide with ‘May the 4th and With You’ Day (still can’t believe that is an actual thing) -I am no longer a Star Wars, ahem, virgin. I watched The Force Awakens…and do you know what? It was rather good!
Despite some slightly cringeworthy bits, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film. It was exciting, scary at times and delivered some shocks (although my friend told me the big twist before I went to see it). Yes, there was no Jar Jar Binks in this movie so that was a bonus (I’ve been warned about that character many times) and found myself thinking that I wouldn’t mind seeing the next one. Considering that I often wondered what the fuss was about with Star Wars, I’ve come a long way(from a galaxy far, far away…ok I’ll stop there).
There is still no chance of me turning into a Star Wars geek, but I’ll admit I can see why people lose their minds whenever a new film is announced. It’s literally another world where everyone can escape- a bit like a futuristic soap opera. Looks like I’ll be hitching onto its next ride into the Galaxy in 2017.

A Princely Phenomenon.

Like most people, I was shocked when I heard the news that Prince had died. Although I haven’t listened to his music much in the past few years, his music remained fresh in my mind. If I heard a song of his, the lyrics would instantly come back as quickly as a click of the finger. 

I grew up with his music, listening to U Got the Look or Sign o’ the Times, or dancing as a teenager to the Cream video, wondering how I could become a dancer and wear one of those gorgeous black and white leotards that the women wore. 

I remember when he released Sexy MF and the outrage and clutching of pearls it sparked when it premiered on Top of the Pops. Oh, how I laughed when they faded out ‘MF’ with his trademark scream. 

Gett Off was absolute filth and I played it at full-blast while listening to lyrics such as ‘There’s a rumour going all around that you ain’t been getting served.’ Being the naive young girl that I was, I wondered exactly what it was that the dancer was not being, ahem, “served”. (Don’t worry, I learned soon enough).

Prince was much mocked and ridiculed by the press and the public while he was alive (particularly during the ‘Slave/Symbol/The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’ era), but you realise that he had the last laugh on them because he lived life exactly the way he wanted: being creative to the fullest, making music he loved and to hell with what anyone else thought. 

The way he genuinely did not care what people thought of him was a sight to behold and something to aspire to. He just turned up, made and played music, showed love, threw shade and walked out, leaving everyone wanting more. When he played at the O2 in London a few years ago, the tickets were priced at £21 (as he was playing 21 nights at the arena) and I have never seen so many people get to work early with the sole intention of getting those gold dust tickets. 

He gave us food for thought and a lot of downright sexiness, then would metaphorically drop the mic. He was a whirlwind of creativity, none more so than on his debut which he wrote, produced, sang all vocals and played all instruments. He was the epitomé of a one-man band.

He influenced people without them even realising. Flamboyant, sexy, almost other-worldly. It is only now in his untimely passing that I realise how much reminded me of the legendary James Brown. He was one of Prince’s idols but they were very similar: the genius, the brilliance, the perfectionism, the flair and flamboyance and risk-taking, the way in which they both were absolute game-changers in the music industry. Simply phenomenal.

Prince also had a wicked sense of humour. Who can forget Dave Chapelle’s epic impersonation of him in a hilarious sketch for Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories? Prince loved it so much, he used Chapelle’s image of him as a front cover for one of his singles (if you have not seen the sketch, stop what you’re doing and watch it right now. It is a classic). 

Prince was a legend in every sense of the word and his reach spread far and wide. It is a shame how, from my perspective, it is only once an artist like him is gone forever that we truly comprehend their legacy. Songs such as Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and Diamonds and Pearls will always be a part of the musical and cultural landscapes. 

Boycott at the Oscars?

I know I’m a bit late to the after party but I have to throw in my two pennies in about this whole #OscarsSoWhite saga that has been everywhere the past few weeks. I noticed that last week, the bigwigs at the Oscars released a list of presenters for the upcoming extravaganza, many of whom are from black and ethnic minorities. I am sure they gave themselves a hearty pat on the back for that gesture. Funny how they paid attention to this list and not the main actors and actresses lists, eh?

Anyway, I have a bone to pick with a couple of things regarding all this:

1. The Oscars President is one Cheryl Boone-Isaacs. She is a black woman in a highly prestigious role who was at the helm when the same issue cropped up last year. Did she not think to check the list before the nominees were announced to the world? And if she did, surely it must have crossed her mind how some people might react? Or is she so cocooned in the world of Oscars that she didn’t notice? She appeared to be caught on the hop and I don’t understand how she allowed that to happen, because the shortlist ultimately represents the Oscars brand and her.

2. Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee should have boycotted years ago. If this is such a big thing, why is this only happening now? There have been many instances where black actors and actresses should have won an Oscar and they did not. Samuel L Jackson for Pulp Fiction and Angela Bassett for What’s Love Got to Do With It, to name but two. So, as I say: why now? Because Will Smith did not get nominated for an Oscar this time round? Hmm…as much as Janet Hubert is still a tad bitter about Will Smith, she made some good points in her blog post.

3. Stacey Dash needs to be quiet. She is merely an attack dog for Fox News they wheel out when it is convenient.

Personally, I think this issue has got a bit out of hand. For all their prorestations, Will and Jada are Hollywood royalty, so it is a bit jarring when they call out their counterparts.

As for those saying that Chris Rock should withdraw as presenter: hell no! He is absolutely the right presenter for this shindig, especially after all this furore- but only if he is given free rein. He will tear everyone involved in this shambles to shreds. I’m practically rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect of all that truth and shade, live on stage.

There is a race issue at the heart of this, but it does not just involve black people being prejudiced against: it’s against all minorities. However, I do not think there should be a boycott. I understand why they think this is a good idea, but I still believe that Spike Lee and co should go to the Oscars and make their point. A sit-down protest in the ampitheatre, or say something on the red carpet, perhaps? Or get one of the presenters to comment in a way that has people tugging at their collars and smoothing down their skirts awkwardly. Staying away only serves to highlight the imbalance and to be honest, I think the bigwigs would be delighted if they did not attend. If black actors, actresses and performers stay away, it will make things easier for them.

Also, what about any black or ethnic minority persons who want to attend because they have been nominated or invited, yet do not have the clout to turn their back on such an event? They are bound to feel uncomfortable when they should not be the ones feeling that way. Spike Lee and the Smiths should go and make their presence felt because that way they can make a difference. Because, believe me, the Oscar bigwigs cannot be that stupid and do this next year. By attending and drawing focus on the numerous snubs live on air, they would take note and realise that they cannot carry on like this anymore.

Key (Stage 3) Change.

So Michael Gove is apparently planning to change the permitted texts for English GCSE. Novels such as ‘Of Mice and Men’ (which he allegedly hates), ‘The Crucible’ (which I thought was an interesting read) and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ will make way for books by British authors- an idea that was lambasted by many people on Twitter today as “archaic”, “xenophobic” and “wretched”.

I don’t really agree with his stance as it’s all a bit restricting and not encouraging pupils to open their eyes and read texts from further afield. The world is a global community now, so we cannot just ignore things because they are not British. Also, I had no idea that the Education Secretary could pick and choose which texts could be studied on the English syllabus- who knew they had that much power? I certainly didn’t.

That said, if Gove banned ‘The Great Gatsby’, I’d be happy- I HATED that book. A dull book about dull, spoilt, irritating people who were as endearing as a bout of piles. The film was just as bad- not the recent remake with Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m talking the one starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. I shudder at how bloody awful it was.

Endless Puke

Ladies and gentlemen, I may be suffering a bad cold but I think I have already seen the worst trailer for quite possibly the worst film of the year. Ok, I haven’t actually watched the film in question as it hasn’t been released yet (even the release date is straight out of the gimmick tree) but if you saw the trailer, you would understand why I felt the need to write about it.

The movie is called Endless Love and is due to be released on Valentine’s Day to appeal to those who enjoy love stories where you could write the entire plot on the back of a stamp. It also, ahem, “appeals” to those like me, who took one look at the trailer and wanted to vomit in my seat. There I was watching YouTube, about to skip this cringe-fest that appeared on my screen but I was so spellbound by its awfulness that I watched until the end. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Before you all throw popcorn at me and brand me a cynical moose and how could I be so heartless about a film that portrays true love in such a beautiful way- just stop. I’m all about the love and peace and I like a love story that warms the cockles of your heart. But if you watched that trailer and thought it was good or even average, all I have to say is: really?! The minute the preppy, all-American couple (one of whom is from the wrong side of the tracks- how original) met by reaching for the same book that dropped on the floor, my eye-rolling reached record levels.

Unless there’s a major plot twist that they’ve deliberately left out of the trailer to surprise cinema-goers with their brilliance and creative vision (which I seriously doubt), I think I’ve seen more than enough at this point already. It looks so bum-clenchingly predictable- click the link if you don’t believe me.

Aside

Back To Black…Back to the Drawing Board.

So today I managed to listen to a snippet of Beyonce & Andre 3000’s version of Back To Black by Amy Winehouse. I am a big fan of La Winehouse and have been ever since I stumbled across her video for ‘Stronger Than Me’ on MTV Base late one night years ago. The minute I heard that song and saw her sass I thought, ‘I’ve got to keep a lookout for her music’. I bought her debut ‘Frank’ after hearing that song alone and was not disappointed. The huge follow-up ‘Back To Black’ was even better. There is not one bad song on that album.

I loved her lyricism. Who else could write lyrics like ‘I shouldn’t play myself again, should just be my own best friend, not fuck myself in the head with stupid men’ and have you nodding your head in agreement. (Don’t forget, ‘He left no time to regret, kept his dick wet.’) Anyway, she was brilliant so I didn’t hold out too much hope when I heard her title track was to be covered, even if it was to be done by artists as talented as Beyonce and Andre 3000.

My verdict? I am not a fan at all. In fact, it’s awful. It’s not the worst cover I’ve heard and I know covers are supposed to differ somewhat to the original, but it just sounds all shades of wrong.

Amy’s version sounded organic- it was very natural and honest, whereas this one sounds hollow. The original came from the heart while the cover is what happens when you throw a bunch of money at it and allow artists to show off.

Andre 3000’s part upset me. Even though the cover is for an updated, glossy film remake of The Great Gatsby, all that vocal enhancements in his verse just sucked the life out of the song. Beyonce’s bit was bearable compared to what preceded it, but didn’t redeem the song much. I’ve also heard there is a rap included in this version. I haven’t had the misfortune to hear that part yet but that has annoyed me. Did they really need to add that as well?

To conclude, I’m a major fan of the original so it was always going to be hard for the remake to surpass my expectations (which were pretty low before hearing it anyway). But no, I don’t like it. In my opinion, Back To Black is one of those songs which should be exempt from being covered unless it remains faithful to the original.

© 2013