{ Under The Bluegums }

A personal blog with craft tutorials, reviews of books, films, and music, parenting advice, and opinions on society and politics.

February 26, 2015

The Underage Modelling Industry: Not So Glamorous

model-advertisement
Many young women dream of becoming models - they aspire to the glamour and the beauty and the supposed chic lifestyle that comes with being a model. But what they don't know is that American labour law contains a loophole that sees print and runway models classified differently to other protected underage workers. So, where some workers under the age of 18, such as film stars, are protected by laws that require chaperones, basic schooling, and even medical monitoring, fashion models do not have the same benefits.

In fact, many of them are left entirely unaccompanied by any responsible adults in an industry that is not only new to them but filled with adult nuances, and with people who are only too willing to exploit the youth for their campaigns under the guise of what is 'best' for these children and their futures. Sometimes these adults persuade the underage models to forego their educations entirely, take control of their pay and steal from them, and even make sexual advances on them. Sexual abuse is also rampant.

It is ironic that these models are used to permeate the sexual objectification of women, but as the photographers and fashion houses create their brand, the girls themselves are objectified, their labour used as nothing more than a means to an end, a means to promulgate a certain style, look, or collection.

The plight of the young model was recently highlighted by Jennifer Sky. Though I haven't read her book 'Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom', yet, it is on my reading list, she has launched a worthy campaign recently attempting to put the treatment of young models in the spotlight.

She says as the introduction to her petition:
As someone who was abused as a child model, I am calling for the Department of Labor to define and enforce labor protections in the fashion industry. 54% of models begin working on or before the age of sixteen. Agencies start recruiting at age thirteen. Many of the pictures in your favorite fashion magazines are little girls dressed up to look like women. Indentured to their agencies, young models often return home from far away locales traumatized and with little to no compensation. The global clothing and textiles industry now generates upward of 2.5 trillion dollars a year. Fashion can afford to offer positive work environments for ALL employees. 
This past fall, New York State passed the Child Model Law, granting protections for minors working as models in the fashion industry. Protections such as school-night curfews and on-set hour limits, chaperones, tutors and mandatory financial trusts are now law. But models need nationwide protections.


As another example, AlterNet talks about Ziff, who is now 31 but started modelling when she was 14. She tells stories about high fashion work being lonely, with long hours accompanied by few rests or meal breaks, and sometimes only being paid with an outfit from one of the designers' collections from the day. Sound like something you would like to do? Something you would like your child to be involved in? I didn't think so.

Please leave a comment!

{Image source: Wikimedia Commons\Aurelien Conty}

February 24, 2015

Oscars2015: Why were Meryl and J.Lo the only ones who cared?

oscars-2015
This year's Academy Awards ceremony was more controversial than usual. While the event stood out because of several moments that were a win for feminism, it also stood out as another place for Hollywood to 'jokingly' assert its whiteness and maleness.

For the former, the most notable wins for feminism consisted of:
  1. Outright support for Reese Witherspoon's #AskHerMore campaign, which urged interviewers on the red carpet to stop asking women bland and stereotypical questions about outfit and makeup, and really engage with them. Although there were some incredible misses - a lot of them from Ryan Seacrest's list of bizarre questions - there were many hits, including BuzzFeed asking actresses what their best advice for young women today would be, while actresses like Julianne Moore were given the opportunity to add depth to their craft.

  2. Steve Carrell and Jake McDorman's support of the United Nations' #HeForShe programme, spearheaded by Emma Watson.

  3. Patricia Arquette's impassioned plea for the continuation in the fight for women's rights. Although her speech has not met with pleasure from all sectors, it was an unusual acceptance speech after winning her Best Supporting Actress award - usually filled with the gushings of gratitude rather than poignant calls to action.
Some people have listed the abolishing of the mani-cam as a victory as well, but I really cannot see the use of this if we don't also ban the parading of actual women along the red carpet, too.

But wins for feminism are not wins for equality. The 'whiteness' of the awards was emphasised by the Twitter trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, and also by host Neil Patrick Harris, who frankly said of the event it celebrated Hollywood's 'best and whitest'. And even though the Hispanic-made film 'Birdman' walked away with several awards, the perniciousness of white supremacy in Hollywood snuck in with Sean Penn's 'joke' that only managed to emphasise how he - with the implication being America - believed people like Alejandro González Iñárritu did not actually belong in America.

But the most annoying thing for me today in the Oscars afterglow is how everyone is lauding Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez' reaction to Patricia Arquette's speech. 



What was that about!? I don't doubt that every woman working in Hollywood has felt discrimination because of her sex, and I bet these two have just about as much right to join Arquette as other women in the industry, but my question is why there weren't more people showing their support. More women, in particular? The fact is that pay inequality is something that probably every woman has experienced. Surely - taking these two Hollywood bigwigs as an example - there should have been a standing ovation?

As a result, it feels to me like their reaction, and sadly, perhaps even the speech was just for show. Doesn't this make you wonder if Hollywood is simply trying to stay relevant by introducing subjects into its most prestigious events - such as the Oscars and the Golden Globes - that are an echo of popular culture and concerns, but not really being concerned about them itself? Come on - it's the most powerful industry in the world; you can't tell me it wouldn't make changes if it weren't really concerned?

{Image credit: Twitter\947Highveld}

February 23, 2015

Take part in my survey!

queen-of-hearts
I get beyond frustrated when I watch a television series with 'mismatched' couples.

Invariably the guys can be 'normal', but the women almost unfailingly have to be perfectly attractive. As The Hathor Legacy says:

None of these guys would have the careers they have if we applied the same standards to male and female actors.
Everyone talks about the sexism involved in needing women actors to meet the requirements of Hollywood attractiveness - which include being slightly underweight, relatively large-breaste, svelte, and tall - but what if these men are actually attractive?

I've designed a quick survey. I would love it if you could help me out and take it. It should take only a few moments, and consists of gauging the attractiveness of the male and female counterparts of some popular television couples.

Please take it below!


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

{Image credit: Angela George [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons}

February 22, 2015

Just Read || Moerbeibos by Dalene Matthee

dalene-matthee-moerbeibos
Reading 'Moerbeiboswas my attempt at reconnecting with my second language of Afrikaans, but someone should have told me that this was a poor choice of book, as I was hopelessly bored.

The novel has its merits, of course, having been written by an author largely considered one of the best in the Afrikaans language. On occasion the writing was beautiful and evocative, but I think the subject matter did not do the prose any justice. You cannot really make the situation the main characters found themselves in beautiful.

Silas Miggel and his daughter Miriam are staying inside the Gouna forest in relative peace and solitude, until the powers that be - the colonial British government - decides to put a group of Italian silk farmers right where they're staying, who are under the impression that there is a mulberry forest in the vicinity for their silkworms. Miggel is staying on the plot of land illegally as it is, and finds his future uncertain despite the fact that there is no mulberry forest to speak of. Despite Miggel's ongoing complaints - which make up plenty of the novel - he finds himself looking after the band of Italians, fetching their firewood, catching their food, and teaching them how to live in the bush while he waits for the government wheel to turn and send the Italians back home.

But the Italians never return home: the government officials in the area are too disconnected from the powers that be, who are in turn too disconnected from the reality of the situation in the bush, and the 'government wheel' turns, mulching everyone in its path into the ground.

Miggel constantly falls for false promises, bureaucratic bluster, and misguided hopes as he tries to get a ship to return the Italians home. The novel is a very frustrating read, because Miggel simply allows everyone to walk all over him every time, and no matter how much hard work he does, it all comes to nought in the end. Even his obsessive efforts to keep his daughter safe from men's prying eyes are dashed.

Matthee's writing in this bush romance of hers is not bad, but I would hazard to say that the focus of this book - condemnation of colonial bureaucracy - is not interesting enough. One could argue for the novel's merits on the basis of how colonialism took advantage of the little people and displaced the local population, but there is altogether not a sense that this was the main purpose of the story.

I haven't read any of Matthee's other works, which are supposedly better than this one, but there is a taste of the passion she has for her subject of the forest: her description of the heart of the forest is lovely. First, the mystery of its existence; second, Silas' description of coming upon it one day; and, third, his desperate attempt to keep the colony from moving further into the forest.

However, I would warn you to approach this book with patience and the notion that it's not really supposed to end well: after all, colonialism didn't end well for very many people.

February 19, 2015

Bathroom Fix-Up: Day 21

bathroom-paint-colour
Yes, I am still busy with the bathroom! After a week of non-stop sanding and painting and grouting, I decided to take a bit of a break. But it's all coming together - slowly but surely.

I'm a little disappointed about the paint colour, but it does look grey in natural light.

The image below is of the grouting of the tiles before I fixed it. After taking the photo, I used up a lot of time removing the dust from between the tiles, as well as spacers that were stuck. And then it took about a day to grout everything up.

grouting-horrible

Of course, along the way I had to clean up our tap and overflow hole, since they were covered in plaster.

tap-covered-plaster



Once I did that, I noticed how much they damaged our mixer. I'll have to think about whether I want to get a new one now.

plumbing-damage

Damage-plumbing

I spent a long time working on a piece of art for the bathroom, so that took up most of my time, but last week I started to mosaic around the bath. It's my first venture into the craft, and although I can see why many people enjoy it, it is quite time-consuming when working on such a large area.

I had been trying to source the mirror mosaic pieces I need for the mosaic. I had acquired two broken mirrors from a glass recycling drum, so I had some, but snipping it took time since I didn't have a snipper yet - only a glass cutter. What I had didn't allow me to finish though. I found a place just down the road that sells mosaic supplies, which saved me more time because I would have had to order what I need online or travel a way to find it. I still have some work to do, but I should be done today, and I have another broken mirror that I can use to finish up. Then it's just to do the grouting.

mirror-mosaic-progress

I have to purchase a new set of wall plugs now, because they had literally glued the basin onto the wall with silicon sealer - the wall plugs were simply pulling out of the wall when I put the basin back. So more work!

But when the basin is up and the mosaic is done, I can start putting up the decor and then you can see the finished product! :)

February 16, 2015

Cindy Crawford's Untouched Photo: Why It Doesn't Matter

cindy-crawford-waving
Much has been made about the leak of Cindy Crawford's latest cover photo for Marie Claire because she no longer has a 'model' body. She has even been praised for the leak, and the internet is going crazy, thanking her for attacking body and beauty standards that are harming our young women.

Not only is the praise misguided, because had it not been leaked no one would have seen it in the first place, even if it was a purposeful release the image doesn't matter, in the great scheme of things.

Why do I say so? Well, because it's not as though it's the image actually appearing on the magazine's cover. No, that one will indeed be photoshopped. And Cindy Crawford will look like she has the body of a 20-year-old even though she really has the body of a woman her age.
The problem is that this image is not the one that will be seen by the majority of young girls the world over. The edition in which it appears is also distributed through a third world country and, correct me if I am wrong, but the girls in this country will not have access to the truth.

They'll only have access to the lie. And to the lie seen on every model's body in the magazine.

The only time I will ever praise a model for 'revealing' her 'real' body is when she actually reveals her real body all the time. Otherwise it's just pandering to a small group of people who actually have access to it. It's just like Keira Knightley's recent photo of her breasts without Photoshop to, you know, protest against unfair body standards in the media. My point is that this image is the only one she supposedly agreed to publish without Photoshop. The others?

All Photoshopped. How is that changing the status quo at all?

{Image credit: Georges Biard [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons}

February 13, 2015

Movie Review || Fifty Shades of Grey

promo-fifty-shades-movie
Yes, hundreds, if not thousands, of people are going to rush to the theatres on Friday the 13th to catch the film rendition of the bestselling erotic, BDSM novel 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. I was lucky enough to catch the preview screening on Thursday, and by the amount of people who laughed during the film, it's clear many people are watching it because of the hype surrounding the story rather than because they have read the novel.

I said in an earlier post that the film was going to be popular because of the hype, but that it would be 'safe'. And that it is. In my official review of the film for a publication, I found that the film maintains a balance between the taboo world of BDSM and the straight-and-narrow, and it is definitely the love story I thought it would be (SPOILER: Though it's ending is not stereotypical - it left many an audience member either giggling or gasping, and shocked).

I've been doing some thinking in between that post and this, and I've come to the conclusion that the reason Fifty Shades is so popular is because it's a good story. Yes, perhaps it's not a good book, but it is a good story: how is two people falling in love and finding security in each other bad? It is a novel that makes people feel that love and sexual chemistry is possible, that change is possible, that sacrifice is rewarded, that love is real in a world of broken hearts.



Nowhere is this good story more clear than in the film. In fact, the story could be considered the film's saving grace, since many people will be disappointed upon leaving the cinema at the dearth of racy and raunchy sexual ravishings. The first sex scene only takes place 40 minutes into the film, and other reports indicate that there are actually only 11 minutes of sex in total. What the filmmakers have done with 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is enriched it with great cinematography and good actors.

I know other critics have expressed disappointment in Jamie Dornan's representation of Christian Grey, calling him cold and bemoaning the apparent lack of pull he has towards Anastasia. I did not feel this way about him: Christian Grey is a tormented and damaged man; he cannot feel the way normal people feel; his emotions are not normal; he needs to be in control at all times, and to me this would translate into a stiff demeanour for most of his relations with people, Ana included. When his character does lose control, however, you can feel the charge between them. I think this is exactly how Christian Grey is - his emotions are frustratingly invisible to Ana and to us, and that is one of the reasons he is so intriguing. And the fact that he loses control around Ana is what creates the sexual tension required.


Dakota Johnson's portrayal of Ana was spot-on, and she actually made the character more likeable. In fact, the film has improved the character of Ana immensely: she no longer has that annoying 'Inner Goddess' that all readers want to slap interrupting the flow of the story, and her best characteristics have been highlighted. She also seems more decisive and pushy, and her power over Christian Grey is laid bare - there are no distractions made by poor writing.

I also did not see the supposed hatred the two stars have of one another in the film. Besides, I believe this was all based on the fact that the pair were perhaps not properly trained to deal with the press in such an intimate way. Johnson's claim to fame? Erm, a role in a film with her mom and sister and several other non-entities. Dornan's? Relatively low-PR television series.



I was disappointed, though, that the range of music in the book was not included in the soundtrack, bar one song. Grey is a music lover, so I was sad to see that the songs have been watered down to popular culture stars.



The nudity aspect annoyed me though. Yes, I understand that the sexual organs must stay prudishly offscreen so the film doesn't get a rating that limits viewership, but the number of times we are treated to simply a glimpse of Grey's chiselled body is heavily outnumbered by the number of times we see a fully nude, objectified Ana. Why the imbalance? Well, woman as object of course. So despite the film being targeted mainly at women (and many older women will watch the film, too, if the five ladies at the preview were anything to gauge by), we are reminded that we are still objects, girls! Even if we are the main character. Even if it is ostensibly our pleasure, it is, after all, all about his pleasure.

Oh, and I don't believe the film passes the Bechdel Test either. Although there are several other female characters, they really have nothing to talk to about each other except Christian Grey.

I'm not really party to the BDSM culture, so cannot comment from an experienced point of view, but I do believe the film does not represent it properly. If it were presented properly, it would not be a mainstream, blockbuster hit, right?

And as far as advocating domestic abuse... I'm not so sure about this. There was no moment - aside from the end of the film - when Ana said 'No' or asked Christian to stop. In fact, Ana even asks him why he needs to hurt her to get off. Her defiance is not something existent in an abusive relationship. I can see where the notion comes from, since Ana is punished for her mistakes physically, but I believe consent is a very important part of the relationship on screen. Christian did not touch her to punish her until she agreed to the relationship in the first place. Please do enlighten me if you disagree, as I'm certainly no expert.

I did enjoy the film though, more than the book. The audience did become bored eventually, because all the hype around the sex scenes and the sex and the BDSM and the sex built up everyone's expectations. I knew this is what would happen though. It is the entertainment industry after all.

If you do go watch it, don't expect sex scene after sex scene - expect the love story that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' really is behind all the hype.

{Image credit: Facebook\FiftyShadesSouthAfrica}

Want to read more about 'Fifty Shades of Grey'?

MsMagazine.com: I watched Fifty Shades of Grey so You Don't Have to
Upworthy: 6 real quotes from 'Fifty Shades' that could make you rethink how you feel about it
Real life on The Mary Sue: I Dated Christian Grey: How Women Are Groomed For Abuse
The Mary Sue: We Need to Talk About Female Submission in Film
Relevant Magazine: Fifty Shades of Grey and Abuse
The New York Times: In 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie, Sex is a Knotty Business
The Independent: Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Shows First Sex Scene 'After 40 Minutes'
Vulture: Fifty Shades Review: Dakota Johnson Is Superb; Jamie Dornan, Not So Much

February 12, 2015

The Orchid Moves My Heart

Orchids
I visited an Orchid Show a while back, but hadn't had the chance to publish this post yet. The flowers are amongst my favourites, and there was a stunning array of species on display. All kinds of phaelonopsis, dendrobiums, and cymbidiums were spread amidst ferns and prize badges.

It was a little funny - there were no real tills, and every sales person wrote out the sales on receipts. Without card payments, we had to depend on cash, and my mom is the only one who had any at all. It's probably a good thing too...

Here are some of my favourites.

Orchids

Orchids

Orchids

Orchids

Orchids

Orchids

Orchids

Sadly, I'm not versed in the actual species, because there really are so many!

South Africa has several indigenous wild orchids, but they are sadly rare because of rampant development.

Are skinny jeans the new skirt?

woman-skinny-jeans
Twitter\SaleventFashion
I was recently at a family function, where at least two women I was with complained about how limited their movements were in their skinny jeans.

The first time, my cousin tried to climb onto a horse, and the second time, my sister tried to climb onto the back of a bakkie.

This made me consider whether the skinny jean - that enemy of every curvaceous woman in the world, that bastion of skinny - might just be the new movement-limiting skirt.

Remember when you were a little girl and hated wearing dresses or skirts, because it meant you would have to act like a "lady" and keep your legs closed and not romp around the garden?

Maybe the skinny jean is the new version of this - sure, you have more "movement", but the skinny jean has done nothing but make us poor women believe that we can be fashionable and non-feminine, while we still cannot comfortably take part in activities that would require flexibility.

It is interesting that searching for the term 'curse of the skinny jean' on Twitter comes up with plenty of results about how the skinny jean represents goal weights and dieting success. This is simply proof of women's oppression and repression through the skinny jean - not only can we hardly move while wearing them (alas, some of us will never be able to squeeze into some of them), we constantly deem ourselves unworthy to wear them because of our body shapes.

Do you own a pair of skinny jeans?

February 10, 2015

Little girls say 'f***' for feminism

Five foul-mouthed little girls between the ages of six and 13 are the tag line for a promotional piece for FCKH8.com, which aims to show that people who are offended by little girls liberally using the f-word should really be concerned about how each of these little girls are likely to be paid 20% less than their male counterparts when they hit the job market, and how one of them is likely to be raped.

I like the premise behind the advert, because it juxtaposes a supposed social faux pas with the fact that women are still not treated equally to men. But it doesn't really sit well with me - it's the type of sensationalism that organisations stoop to to attract attention to their campaigns - like PETA's naked vegan celebrity adverts.



The problem I have is that organisations like this have no choice but to do something shocking and outrageous to attempt to bring something serious into the spotlight, when people like those in the entertainment industry need only to perform raunchily on stage, or rudely and childishly interrupt a Grammy Award winner's acceptance speech, or perform on stage in a swirl of demons.


Doesn't it all seem a little backwards to you? We should really focus our attention on making the world better, not on people who earn more than everyone reading this post combined, and then some.

February 7, 2015

Movie Review || The Other Woman

the-other-woman
'The Other Woman' was much funnier than I expected, but it still managed to disappoint me.

Carly (Cameron Diaz) meets Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones fame) and their love affair is just what she's dreaming of. But she goes to surprise him after he cancels following a 'plumbing mishap', and strip-o-gram-surprises his wife (Leslie Mann). Kate feels as though she has no support system, and decides to befriend Carly to discover what's gone wrong in her marriage. The pair then discover that Mark is seeing a third woman, whom they also befriend. They also decide to take revenge on Mark in the only ways they know how: putting laxatives in his drinks, replacing his shampoo with hair remover, and feeding him estrogen with his daily smoothie.

There's nothing like a good revenge film, but by the end I had this niggling feeling that I was disappointed.

At first, I thought the film could have been a great feminist film. The fact that the women could be so open with each other about the cheating husband and direct their anger at the right person was a refreshing change to the usual competitive stereotypical reaction in such films, much like one of my other favourite films 'John Tucker Must Die'. But this is where the subversion of women fighting over a man ends.

I felt for Kate Upton in particular in this, her film debut, as she was really there to provide an object for the male gaze, aside from her equally attractive co-stars, and she hardly ever said anything worth remembering.

Throughout the entire film, the women are only concerned with the man who's disappointed them. Any conversations they do have that are not about Mark are almost non-existent, and when they are chatting - such as the scene where Carly and Kate are bonding over braided hair and dress-up (blech) - we actually hear no dialogue at all. Women's conversations are boring, anyway, right?

Moreover, they spend the entire film undermining Mark's masculinity in the worst way possible - yes, it's funny, but there is a limit and all it does is reinforce the stereotype of the honey trap and the bitchy woman. The ending in particular was just plain ridiculous. There was really no need to [spoiler alert] break his nose, have him walk through a glass wall, and then have Carly's father punch him in the nose for not calling a plumber? When there was actually never a reason for Mark to have had to call a plumber, because he lied about having a plumbing problem?

I really felt disappointed by the end of the film. The only woman empowered by the plot was Kate, who went on to be a CEO of several companies, while Carly and Amber both end up with their respective love interests.

Another strike for the film is the dearth of women of colour. Nicki Minaj also makes her film debut in this, but she only offers the sarcastic foil to Carly's successful lawyer trope. And don't even get me started on the 'No Hands' restaurant. SMH.

This is one of those stories that had so much potential, just like other female-led Hollywood films, like 'Walk of Shame'. When 'The Other Woman' first came out in America, it smashed 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' from top spot, proving that funny women leads are attractive to the viewing public. But the problem is that, in the end, they simply disappoint.

{Image credit: Facebook/TheOtherWoman}

February 6, 2015

Just Read || The Boy With the Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu

boy-with-cuckoo-clock-heart-cover
I purchased 'The Boy With the Cuckoo Clock Heart' on sale several years ago, and was sparked into action to read it after watching the beginning of the film based on it. My curiosity was piqued by little details, like a woman whom I was certain was a prostitute and other innuendos inappropriate for the age group I thought the book was directed at, being children. I was wrong, though - the subject matter is at times quite adult, and it's a little disturbing to find out the hamster's name is Cunnilingus.

Also, the film was utterly confusing, and I really don't think you would understand it unless you've read the book first. Certain scenes in the film were simply trippy, such as Jack's first dance with Miss Acacia and him being attacked by Jack the Ripper.

Regardless, the book really is wonderful. Malzieu is a French singer and his talent as a songwriter comes through clearly in the imaginative, evocative, and seductive poetry of his prose. His descriptions of scenery, landscapes, events, and even people is beautifully done, and his characters are effortlessly interesting and have depth.

I have been left very interested in the work of his band Dionysos, although I am sadly French-less :) What is really impressive, though, is that Malzieu thinks of his books as films as he writing them: he even composes a soundtrack around the story, and I guess this is where the basis for the film came from. The film is quite arty and has won a few awards.

Have you read the book or seen the film? What did you think?

February 4, 2015

Bathroom Fix-Up: Day 7


paint-bathroomAfter a week of toil, I'm about a day away from finishing up. The ceiling has been painted, as have the walls, door frame, and window frame.

The colour I chose for the wall looks grey in natural light, and though it's not the grey I was wanting, it does look really good on the walls. It has a blue tint that goes well with the colour scheme I have in mind.

It's odd and yet fulfilling to work on and fix up a mess. Things that weren't done correctly the first time, I have the opportunity to do right.

The workers had not bothered painting the hinges that fit under the basin...
vintage-basin-brackets

... so I've painted them and the bottom of the basin white. It looks much neater, though our basin is not mounted yet. I also figured out why the joint between the wall and the bath looked so terrible. They had simply plastered over the old silicon sealer we had put onto the bath. I've redone nearly the entire strip.

bath-wall-joint-crack

bath-wall-crack

crack-knocked-out

I've also neatened up the joints between the wall and the pipes, and painted them.

Untidy-pipe-wall-joint
 Untidy-pipe-wall-joint Pipe-wall-joints-neatened

Now all I have left is to clean the stains off the floor and wall tiles, regrout, and try to properly seal the tap joints to the wall. And maybe another coat of paint on the ceiling and door.

February 3, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey: What's the big deal?

fifty-shades-grey-promo
I just don't get it. Such a big deal is being made over everything to do with 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.

The subject - BDSM relationships - is considered 'taboo' in the mainstream media, but it's not the first, last, and only time that a BDSM erotic novel has made it to the world of publishing and self-publishing. Angelika Devlyn is just one such author who I have read (and the writing and characterisation is not nearly as poor as Fifty Shades). Add to this the fact that the story has been outed as a very incorrect and damaging view of such relationships, and it makes even less sense.

Perhaps it is because the supposed conservative women of the West are finally interested in their own sexuality? Um, no, I think they were pretty clued up already - why else the success of Mills & Boon, which has been around since 1908, feeding the sexual imaginations of women for over a century?

Perhaps it is because the characters are interesting. Well, not the protagonist at least. And not any of Ana's family or friends, really... The only really endearing character is Christian Grey himself. He is exciting for women because he is not real. He offers women character traits that they long for in men.

Maybe it is their relationship? After all, it is based on complete honesty and openness. Except for the fact that it's not (see IDetonateAroundHim.Tumblr.Com for evidence).

And the writing? Surely that has to be a factor in the popularity? Um. No.

I truly think E.L. James was simply lucky - lucky to have arrived in the era of ebooks, lucky to have had the support of a major publisher who was willing to do the marketing, lucky to have the book made into an expected-Blockbuster film.

And she is also lucky because I suspect the film will see major attendance. However, it won't stand out as the century's most amazing erotic film, even though it's just been given a rating of 18 by the BBFC. Why do I say this?

Well, it will be a blockbuster because of the hype around it. Take the 'Twilight' series for example. The writing was also mediocre, but Stephenie Meyer was lucky enough to have Time Warner publish her book for her - this should be evidence that a film was in the works from the very beginning - and thus the best marketing team. All you need is to create a media hype to make everything think the story is the best thing since pink slime.

fifty-shades-film-promo
It won't be memorable because: 1) Many people have expressed disappointment in the actor choices; 2) There appeared to be no chemistry on set between the two actors, which is most important for an erotic film, while they also share no chemistry off-set either; 3) People will realise the story is not that riveting after all; and 4) the idea behind the erotic film - of erotic sex scenes - has been smashed completely by the revelation that only 20 minutes of the film are dedicated to intimate moments.

That latter point means, yes, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is a love story. Now, this is not to say I don't love love stories: give me 'Sydney White', 'The Lucky One', 'Sliding Doors', 'Pride & Prejudice' absolutely any day of the year! But the point of the novel is that it is something different, something taboo, something non-conservative; something meant to open our eyes to a different world, even if it is badly written, the relationship it represents is inaccurate, and the characters are boring and questionable.

The story is now targeted at the mainstream money-making box office, whereas the producers could have honoured the fans of the book and the idea behind the story by making it an art film. People would have gone to see it anyway. Oh, but the profits wouldn't have been so great. Damn.



{Image credits: Facebook/FiftyShadesOfGreyTrilogy}