Thursday, 16 February 2012

Britains Gay Footballers.

The advert for this TV program at first made me think it to be no more than the usual excuse for slightly controversial material to be shown. Like their Channel 4 brothers, though to a lesser extent, we all know how the BBC are a sucker for a good taboo reference on race or sexuality. I assumed this program would be much like it's predecessors; mindless, uninformative, and uninteresting. However, I was both pleasantly and negatively suprised after watching it. Pleasantly, as against my preconcessions, I was in fact interested in it. Negatively, as it made me feel wholly sick towards a prominant and respected aspect of British culture- Football.

I have never really liked football. Even when I was 8 years old and asked my dad to buy me a season ticket, it was far more about spending time with my daddy than it was enjoyment in the game. I am too much of a fan of life's comforts to willingly sit myself in the cold for 90 minutes, on hard seats,  surrounded by swearing buffoons. I have always considered this word, 'buffoon', to epitomize my feelings towards the sport in general; though nothing has ever given me more confirmation of this truth than the BBC.

'Britains' gay footallers' is a docmentary in which Amal Fashanu attempts to discover why there is a severe lack of apparent gay players in football; the new definition of 'severe lack' being one in the history of the game, Justin Fashnu. They say 1 in 7 people are gay or bisexual, so out of all the hundreds and hundreds of footballers, how is it possible that only one of them is openly gay?

Justin Fashnu was the uncle of the journalist who created the documentary. He came out as gay in 1990, and then following various seedy reprts and ultimately a sexual assult allegation, Justin comitted suicide. It seems as though the vast amounts of abuse towards him and lack of support from all areas did nothing to prevent the situation from happning. By this, I am not trying to delve myself into a personal situation and point the blame at family members who may or may not have done enough to help him; though I am trying to hilight, as the program already has done so well, the disgustingly archaic attitude of football as a sport in this country.

Many clubs and individual footballers were approached to discuss the matter, whether it be straight players around the topic of homosexuality, or as it appears the vague and distant hope that one player may gain the confidence and claim his sexuality as it stands. The program shows no such thing. Players dismiss interviews out of either lack of consideration, the fact that they have better things to do, or what I suspect to be fear that they will struggle to hold back their discriminatory attitudes. It seems to me that the culture of football needs to 'come out of the closet', and get with the times. The game of football is just as mindless as it's bizzare attitudes.

Compare this dismissal to the open interview with Gareth Thomas, a gay, Welsh rugby player, who recalls the ease at which he was able to come out; thanks to support from teammates, and the institutions of the game itself. The mere nature in which the players conducted themselves was far more fitting of country representatives than any footballer I can recall. Amal Fashnu does eventually get an interview with the FA, who state they are undergoing a 4 year plan in order to help to tackle the issue within football. 4 year plan! This is 2012, such a thing shouldn't be necessary.

My suggestion would be that they issue a response to the program, stating that any footballer who choses to come out as gay will have the full backing of the Football Association, and issues will be tackled in collaboration with them. But of course, I suppose they don't want to lie... Or upset those who are still living in the dark ages.

All in all, this program made me angry. I think any other area would have just been slightly unnecessary. 'Britains gay waitors', or 'Britains gay managers' would be rather absurd. Though I think to hilight such a disproportionate outlook on sexuality in a ridiculously overvalued part of our society was more than necessary. Perhaps then the key is for us all to reconsider the value of football, and whether hours of watching overly-preened monkeys run around kicking a ball and then crying over their stubbed toe, could be put to better use. Like watching rugby.

Friday, 30 December 2011


The title of my Alevel art project. Though I think much better in written terms, so I could really do with getting my thoughts down here before I attempt to move onto some actual art type things.

So, I began by looking at 'growth' and then distortion; as in, the opposing force of natural growth being people unnaturally distorting themselves. I'm looking the why and the how, particularly with regards to culture. Why is it that in some cultures, people distort themselves so as to go along with their culture whereas in western cultures people distort to rebel and stand out. Take for example, tribal neck stretching in Africa. This began once as a cultural display of wealth, people adding rings tightened around their necks gradually throughout their lives solely to go along with the cultural tradition. Although, in recent years this has instead become a source of income for the tribes, as they are almost demanded by local governments to persue the distortion to attract tourism. Whatever the reason, it is an extreme distortion and pressure to place the human body under.

Compare this with western culture- obsessed with plastic surgery, piercings tatoos; and i'm sure many more ways in which we change ourselves. However, this form of distortion seems to be more about a need to stand out, and let our 'individuality' stand out. It seems that in a society so guided by media and materialism that we seem to view people mainly on appearances. We see someone with piercings and tatoos and build up an image of rebellion, and perhaps consider them to be someone who conciously declines social norms. Why is it therefore, that we feel the need to do this; and change or distort ourselves to do so? And what is the better cause- Change to conform, or change to stand out.

Ultimately I feel it comes down to how we value one another, and how much we value personality over appearance. Or better yet, how SOCIETY encourages us to value these things. Do we change ourselves on the outside to change and even hide who we are on the inside? Perhaps we buy clothes, apply makeup, dye our hair, or get piercings and tatoos to create a facade of who we want to be. An opposing idea could instead be that we do infact like who we are, and so desperately want this to shine through in out appearance. I prefer this one. It's much more optimistic, and one that I consider that I do myself. We fashion ourselves on the outside to make damn sure that people know who we are on the inside. We accept that people make initial judgements, so we need to grab their attention and introduce ourselves aesthetically before we can do so personally. Whether this is the 'right way' is regardless- it is the necessary way, if we want to adhere the workings of this society.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Joy of Teen Sex.

Sorry guys, but this won't be a post about teen sex, inevitably a joyful (awkward, troubling) activity. This is more my thoughts on the Channel 4 program. 'The Joy of Teen Sex' is yet another graphic, intimate and indepth look into teenage life, in a way that can only be described as an examination. I use this word to denote the scientific nature in which these programs approach the social or sexual aspects of adolescence.

Partly this comes from my disliking of science. I am an arty person. Always will be. Though even I am willing to admit that we do need to learn about biology and the way things work. This became even more evident when watching the program the other day, where one teenager asked "If you spin a girl round after cumming in her, can she still get pregnant?". Now, I don't claim to be overly experienced in this whole area, but it is morons like these that make me feel like a guru.

In this respect, I do appreciate what these programs do achieve; education. It seems that some people aren't capeable of common sense, or in some instances, that the information we need simply isn't available. Therefore these programs offer a way for us to find things out that we daredn't ask parents, teachers, doctors; or perhaps even friends. 'The Sex Education Show' seems to be a great example of this. Granted, it's aimed at a slightly lower age bracket to myself, though it does what it says on the tin.

So, to the program in hand- The Joy of Teen Sex. Yes, in some ways it provides similar educational functions, though to be quite frank it takes it a bit too far. Ironically it is me apologising for being frank, when the program has no sense of the concept. I only hope that I am not alone in my feelings of inadequacy and lack of sexual variety when watching the program. Which basically translates to "No, I am not having rampant sex with well adept men, or using vibrators on a daily basis". Because, according to the program, this is what anyone over the age of concent should be doing. So long as it is protected, it is fine!

This is not in any way to put down those who are far more adventurous than myself. I can appreciate an active and exciting sex life, and the benefits of how it can make you feel in general. Though do we really need another program to take away every ounce of romance and intimacy that comes with it? Call me an idealist, but I consider sex, love, intimacy, passion, respect and emotions to be all interlinked (and by this I don't mean I use sex to obtain love or respect). Therefore, the bullet-point, tick-list criteria of a 'good sex life' presented by the program puts on a definite pressure to match up; though this seems to go against it's aim of inclusion. With this pressure it seems that the spontinaety and intensity of emotions that are part of a sexual experience are shoved aside with thoughts of "am I doing this right? Is this how long it should last?"

To conlcude, it seems the world is going a little overboard on sex. And I say this as a big fan of 'Sex and the City', where the indepth erotic experiences of four women are completely unavoidable- moreover quite educational or relateable. However, it seems this constant stream of education, education, education is becomig too academic. So long as we know how to do it safely regarding pregnancy, emotions and physicality (no acrobatics for me please), can we not apply the old "learn on the job" tactic?; if you'll excuse the pun. Or if not, anecdotes from friends have never ceased to provide the top level of education. Remember: Reliable sources. No Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Notebook.

The Notebook, My Sisters' Keeper, and PS I Love You- Three films built up to be extrodinarilly tear-jerking by my peers, therefore placing them all on my 'to watch' list. With P.S I love you I found it difficult to relate, having never really suffered the death of a loved one. Therefore perhaps it should be the job of someone who has to comment on the film more accurately. However, teenage heartbreak is something that I have felt, and therefore found The Notebook to fit and exceed this 'tear jerking' criteria.

The film encompassed elements of my own experiences, and I'm sure the experiences of many other teenagers, as well as elements of what I dream that I could experience. The feeling of struggle to be with someone you love, whilst fighting with the reality that your age makes it difficult to put a mark on what exactly this love means. Therefore, I don't want to naively overestimate my own experiences and claim that I ever 'found my soulmate' or a 'reason to live'; though equally as much I don't want to undermine the true power of young love and the strength of the emotions you can feel. This is exactly what the film does, and left me jerking-those-tears through the majority of the film.

Aside from the idea of teen-romance, the film looks into other emotional issues and struggles. It takes an interesting form, of which the story of the lovers at a young age is paralleled with those same lovers at the age of retirement. However, whereas early on their struggles come from social expectations, parental influence, or need for stability, subsequently the tragedy comes from Allies suffering of dementure; and therefore Noah's emotional suffering to keep them together.

The emotional potential of the storyline gives credit to the origional novelist Nicholas Sparks, though I feel the emotional investment comes from the portrayal of the characters through the acting.Young Allie (Rachel Mcadams) comes across as the passionate, attractive and playful girl that i'm assuming any teenage girl aspires to be. Young Noah (Ryan Gosling) similarly plays a passionate, attractive and incredibly considerate boy that i'm sure any young girl aspires to have. In the ending of the play, an equally as heart-warming relationship is presented in the old-age couple (James Garner and Jena Rowlands), encompassing a love that anyone with a sane mind would strive for.

The film left me feeling a multitude of emotions, including resentment for allowing myself, usually so synical, to become so emotional. It left me feeling the pain of the couples struggles, heart-warmed for their inseperability, and hopeful that this is not an experience left only to the world of cinema.

Ultimately, the film left me with an undeniable aspiration- in that all I want to do with the rest of my life is to fall in love. A good career, social life, and self confidence will just be those menial things that I do on my quest to find it.

And now all I have left to do is watch My Sister's Keeper.

Woyzeck Puppet Performance.

'Woyzeck'- An ambiguous play from an ambiguous context, giving a potential director creative freedom to interpret it how they wish. The director(s) of tonights performance chose the setting of apartheid South Africa, and used puppets to tell the sorrowful and tragic tale of a man's demise towards killing his partner.

Woyzeck, the main character, has the potential to appear as the antagonist of the play. However in this setting of injustice and inequality it is difficult to percieve him to be anything other than a victim of society (and perhaps a victim of mental illness also). The actors behind the puppets manage to bring to life the characters and bring out the raw emotion behind the conflicts; of which the text alone can not achieve, in my opinion, as effectively. Here we see Woyzeck as a man struggling to keep his life in order and his family together, rather than what I had previously percieved as a dismissive partner too wrapped up in his own mindset that he is lead to murder; this ultimate act being a contrast with the empathy obtained throughout for this socially and mentally oppressed character.

Aside from the general storyline, this production effectively demonstrated the technical and physical capeabilities of the actors in captivating movements, these skills somewhat undermined by the realism of the puppets. It was difficult to consider that they weren't characters in their own right, but rather controlled by the strong vocals and movements of the actors. I feel the use of puppetry was an interesting interpretation on the play as it allowed a large element of charactature to be added. The scientist for example appropriately engulfed the stereotype of a mad scientist, particularly through the use of voice giving the character a disturbance and villanous edge.

Another aspect I felt to be highly effective and unique was the staging, main aspect of which being the use of projection. It was as though the screen acted as a portal into Woyzecks mentality, using both intricate and expressive chalk drawings to give a visually captivating and somewhat hypnotic interpretation of a man's psychological struggle. The imagery behind the whole production was incredible, allowing the audience to be completely engulfed into the world of the characters and invest in their lives; which is an incredible achievement considering the characters were clearly inhuman.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Inbetweeners Movie

Cringeworthy- But in a good way.

So good that I felt the need to torture myself with it twice; which with orange wednesdays, is a luxury I can thankfully afford. I use the words 'good' and 'torture' in the same sentence to demonstrate my complete mixed response to the film. In one moment alone I felt myself wanting to cry, engulf the characters in a bear hug, laugh until my sides hurt; and vomit.

The essence of the film comes from three hormonal teens and their struggle to find social acceptance. It is a story of breaking conventions, redemption, the growth into adulthood, and most importantly; how not to act around human beings. I feel that this film takes a didactive form in teaching its' viewers moral lessons in life.

Number 1) Don't consider the possibility of wearing matching t.shirts to your friends that read 'Pussay- Patrol'. You will look, despite the purpose, the biggest fool imaginable.

Number 2) Don't trust a random stranger when he promises to buy all your shitty old clothing, including what you're wearing at the time. You will be left naked, alone, holding a newspaper to your crotch to maintain any ounce of modesty you didn't quite have to begin with.

Number 3) Don't leave your friends to book a holiday for you. It is likely that you will wake up in an ants nest as a result of excessive drinking, or wake up to the pleasant sound of your friend recieving oral from an elderly woman. I'll leave you to decide which is the more desireable option.

The film encompasses overdramatic situations with complete emotional and character realism. It is the relateability of the characters, despite their ridiculousness, that I feel makes this film what it is. The feeling of being the only virgin left in the entire world. The feeling of heartbreak from your first love. Or that feeling of complete awkwardness as you emerge into an empty club with a promised atmosphere. We've all been there; and so have the imbetweeners; Simon, Jay, Neil and Will.

It is Wills sarcastic yet genuine narrative that particularly draws me in. He and I suffer from similar syndromes; Social Awkwardness, despite knowing deep down that you are the coolest specimine that ever walked the earth. Even when your friends 'help you with your suncream' to ensure a falac shaped burn on your back, or when being mocked by your own family for being 'uncool', we still maintain this to be true.

Not since American Pie has there been such a hilarious demonstration of teenage boys and their mission to find 'clunge', or many other varations of the word that appear in the film; this film made all the better because, lets face it, it's a british comedy. And we british know how it's done! It includes all the humour from real life situations, along with tragic truths and saddening realities. We know that life is coming to get us, and take us off to university or work, or just somewhere away from one another; but we may as well have a great send off!

I think though, personally, I'll give Malia a miss.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Needing to 'Find Myself'.

Yesterday I was told by my sister, age 14, that her friend had split up with her 'long term' boyfriend. The excuse the boy gave for the breakup was that he needed to 'find himself'. The boy has not yet developed chin hair, yet he needs to 'find himself'. Sounds to me like someone's been eves-dropping on their parents conversations a little too much.

This short introduction was my way of instigating the revelence of the phrase in focus to my own life, though I felt mocking it would make it more okay for me to use it. Warning: This blog may contain cliche'd phrases, over-dramatic points and over the top ranting. Well hey, I'm a teenager, so get over it.

So. They say your teenage years are the best years of your life. In which case, why do I bother? Or, to quote Will from 'The Inbetweeners' (a personal idol of mine, as those who know me may notice): "They say your teenage years are the best days of your life. In my case, that would only be true if I went straight from school to prison, and then died".  (I did pre-warn you about the dramatisation). So what are these 'best' moments reffering to exactly? Heartache? Continuous exams? Combined judgement from peers, teachers, parents and ultimately yourself? And that's without mentioning the 'wanting freedom without responsibility, but getting responsibility without freedom' paradox. To apply another cliche'd line: IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!

How exactly do you get through all this? The one surefire way to solve teen angst (and mildly contribute to it) seems to be the following: Alcohol. Which raises a dilema when you have no money, no ID and the face of a 12 year old; so therefore no access to it. I remember my first taste of 'the good stuff'. Sitting on a local field, year 10, feeling too rebellious as my previous primary school teacher runs past with a wave. And I suppose it was down-hill from there really. Particularly when the teachers' running shorts left far too little to the imagination.

Anyway, this does all tie in with my opening paragraph. After a brief heartfelt conversation with the parents earlier; which, with my teenage hormones making me the emotional equivalent of a tsunami, is becoming quite commonplace. Overall it really hit home the importance of going to university, or just getting away from home. It will provide the chance for me to (here it comes): find myself. To study/do something that I love, and be someone that I love. Rather than occasionally be someone who resembles something quite cool and then drift back into my boring-self. Because it's difficult to be the 'you' that you want to be when the teenage 'you' you don't want to be hangs over you.

So there you are. An overly sentimental heartfelt blog. But again, i'm an emotional teenager, so get over it.