Why the Oscars Don’t Mean a Thang

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Academy Awards nominations have been announced and everybody cares, for some reason. It’s all “It’s a disgrace that…” and “Why the hell did she/he get nominated?” Everybody’s up in arms about Jennifer Lawrence getting nominated again as the backlash begins – another year, another actress being thrown out of The Best Likeable Actress category for existing all the time (remember the Dissolution of Anne Hathaway last year? She was a good actress, but she was too grateful for her Oscar apparently, the silly over-excited pair of earlobes). Meanwhile in the Best Actor category, Matthew McConaughey has risen from the cheesy rose petal-strewn ashes of How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days and The Wedding Planner with The Dallas Buyers Club, a movie which, from what I can glean from the trailer, is inspired by a true story about AIDS. Only it’s totally funny. And Jared Leto dresses up as a woman. A funny AIDS movie with Jared Leto doing what he always does on Saturday nights anyway. Academy Awards gold.

Then there’s Leonardo DiCaprio. Poor Leo. He’s like the kid in your class who gets really good marks and sits behind in the library after school to revise and answers all the questions in class – but the teacher always forgets his name. Yet 2013 was a pretty banner year for him, as he teamed up once again with the maestro of entertaining (read: bloody and mafia and sex) films, Martin Scorsese. It’s no great wonder that Wolf of Wall Street is up for an Oscar, because it’s got a lot of swearing in it so that means it’s serious and stuff (I haven’t seen the movie, to be fair, I’m just wisecrackin’). Personally, I thought he should have been nominated way back in 2006 for Catch Me If You Can, a fantastic con-man flick that remains one of my favourite films to date, or even way back in 1993 for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? – a groundbreaking performance at the tender age of eighteen. Though he’s considered one of the best actors of his generation by many, year after year the Oscar gods fail to smile upon him. Could this be his year? Maybe. Who cares? He’s a great actor and the fact he doesn’t have an Academy Award says more about the awards themselves than his acting skills.

So why is such importance placed on what a bunch of white men, most of whom are over the age of 60, think a good film is? Surely judging a film is such a subjective thing that an award for it would seem a rather unspectacular accolade? Good for you, some people liked your movie. I hated Gladiator. i thought it was so, so dumb – but it won an Oscar. Does that mean I simply cannot appreciate fine cinematic art? No. Does it mean that the Oscars are wrong? Well, to me it does. But that’s the sheer beauty of opinion! It’s what divides us and it’s also what brings us together like a weirdly close-knit family.

After recently seeing Inside Llewyn Davis, it only solidified for me what I knew to be true: the Oscars aren’t called the Underdog Awards for a good reason. They don’t gun for the underdog. They gun for the blockbusters, the showstoppers and the overly trite. Sure, there were a couple of times where they went against the grain (Slumdog Millionaire was one of those magical moments of true triumph against the odds). But a low-budget underdog movie about an underdog? With folk music and depression? Even the casting of a furry friend doesn’t seal the Oscar deal anymore (looking at you and your overrated Weinstein production, The Artist). But when a movie strokes deep inside your soul in the first five minutes, you don’t need a golden statue to tell you it’s a great movie. You just know (*cue schmatlzy music score with shots of longing looks outside bus windows*)

So try not to get too pissed off if Jennifer Lawrence wins again, or if you lose a bet you made to someone that she’d trip again, because this is Hollywood, baby, and everything’s a game. Those who don’t play get locked out in the cold. Nothing’s real except the bank notes and the diamonds, and god bless you if you’re Hilary Swank and everyone’s forgotten about you and that Million Dollar Baby. That’s the Chicago way. Badda-bing, badda-bye.

P.S. If you still think the Oscars are hot shit, chew on this. A classmate reminded me today that Mark Wahlberg has an Oscar. Mark Wahlberg has an Oscar. Marky Mark can call himself an Academy Award winner. This guy.

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The nation of Scotland could see dramatic adaptions this year, with the referendum  on Scottish independence taking place in the month of September, shortly after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

For years now, Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party have campaigned for the right to know the country’s viewpoints on the matter – and in the next eight months, the outcome will become a huge lot clearer.

There have been countless debates as to how low the minimum voting age should be, with the majority of people suggesting that it should be the same as current Holyrood and Westminster elections. However, on Thursday the 18th, Scottish residents as young as 16 will go to the poles to vote on whether our country should remain part of the United Kingdom or become independent.

Many advocates of the ‘yes’ campaign are quick to argue that currently, many of the powers to make decisions in Scotland are controlled at Westminster. By selecting independence, as a nation we would be able to make all decisions at Holyrood. It could therefore be argued that Scotland would become154151341-598x400 a more stable and secure nation and even a force to be reckoned with.

On the other hand, numerous people are of the opinion that by becoming independent, Scotland could lose global presence and influence it presently obtains as a United Kingdom. Furthermore, Scotland does not have military strength – so the decision to depart with the rest of Britain could lead to many attacks which the country would not be prepared to deal with.

With all the facts and statistics I have been embedded with, I find myself asking the question that a high number of people share – “Why fix something which is not broken?”.

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All of us first

Asked to write a blog piece on Independence leaves me with the same feeling of erroneous responsibility that fills you up as you take the driver seat for the very first time after the L plates come off, tentatively turning the key and glancing for your absent co-driver. I have formed my own hazy opinions based primarily, I completely put my hands up and say, on my parents vibrant discussions on the debate. Despite having come to an almost definite conclusion regarding what i’ll vote, yes by the way, I definitely don’t feel armed or able to create solid arguments to involve myself in the discussions which are going on around me. And it seems that, yet again, for women across the country this is widely the case.

The current yes polls stand at around 30% of men and an estimated 22% of women. While of course polls aren’t the be all and end all, from my experience social media debates – and those had around a few pints at the pub – are too, male dominated. To me this demonstrates an issue almost as important as the very question of independence itself. Why are women not immersing themselves in the world we all share in the way that men are? For lack of a better word i’d describe myself as a feminist (although i’d prefer just a people-ist), but I definitely feel that if women are shying away and not getting involved in the current affairs which are going on around them how can we ever establish a world where gender equality isn’t a fight, but a given? Discussions with various female friends and relatives have lead me to a couple of conclusions, is it the adversarial set up of the debate (and debates in general) that puts women off? Or perhaps that we are relatively new to the whole voting system in the first place? Or, on a more intrinsic level, it could be that in general women fear contentious situations more than men, with anxieties surrounding separation – a yearning for togetherness.

For me, some of the most important issues rooted in the entire debate are in how the results will leave different groups within society feeling placed, for example English people residing in Scotland and how we guarantee they are as welcome as those born and bred in Auld Reekie.

So, while I feel completely unequipped to write a coherent and balanced piece on why my gut, heart and head are all telling me yes, I would happily get stuck into some of the remarkably pertinent issues being starkly highlighted by the Independence debate.

Ambient City Police Conversations

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The police procedural is a staple of modern television with some of the most successful tv series Baltimore, MD. Photo Credit, ursusdave @ photocamel.comof all time, including Hill Street Blues, Law & Order and the CSI franchise. They show the public how it is working as a cop in a big city, fighting the bad guys and delivering justice. These shows however, deliver a very Hollywood version of what it is to work as police in a city with high crime rates. Most of these shows will indeed have consultants and producers with some sort of background in criminology or the justice system, but when it comes down to telling a story to an audience it’s maybe not the wisest choice for a show to be as gritty as real life for fears of losing viewers.

When The Wire debuted back in 2002 it was critically acclaimed by both the media and police personnel for it’s…

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Frigid or Slut: The University Clichés

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“Oh yeah, [random girl’s name] is up for it. She’s already f***ed five guys here already. Easier than Sunday morning.”

“I fancy [random girl’s name].”

“Nah mate. Hasn’t banged anyone as far as I know. Total prude.”

Ah, university. A time of great change – evolving from the person you were when you were leaving high school to the person you aspire to be, from the caterpillar to the chrysalis to the butterfly you always knew yourself to become. From fledgling to falcon, from puppy to hound.

But enough trite transformation metaphors. There’s a problem in university culture, and its name is Misogyny.

Since I arrived at university in September I’ve noticed something disturbing- misogyny’s new form of expression. While I was under the impression that humans were complicated, layered beings with personalities and loves and hates and intricate psychological irregularities and basically homosepians in all their confused, complicated glory, it would seem that I was gravely mistaken. After eavesdropping on the conversations of students in my proximity I have gleaned the consensus that people can be summed up in a sentence or an offensive nickname.

It is entirely obvious that there is a double standard between men and women when it comes to their sex lives. Men are expected to behave like a rampant sex monkey when they arrive at university, and their behaviour is accepted as them just “being a lad” (CUE MEGALOLZ). Yet when women dare to enjoy sex and have it often-with more than one partner- they are labeled a “slut”. This trend has spread like wildfire, and I see it every day. I know plenty of people who like having casual relationships with men and don’t want to be weighed down with a serious situation. There’s no problem with it. But there is a problem with the double standard for men and women in regards to their sex life. Take this sample conversation I listened to while at a flat party:

“She’s at it again. She’ll get an STD if she’s not careful.”

“Doesn’t she have any shame whatsoever? Doesn’t she have any self-respect?”

“He’s clearly using her for sex.”

“I heard she’s had sex with ten people since she got here.”

“F**k sake. What a slut.”

So if a girl is promiscuous she’s a slut. Got it. What if she doesn’t have sex at all – not because of any religous reasons, but because of personal reasons? Turns out the grass is not always greener.

“She hasn’t had sex with literally anybody. Frigid.”

“Is she a lesbian?”

“Probably. She won’t even meet anyone in a club.”

“What’s she doing with a skirt that short then?”

“Fucking tease, probably.”

*Cue laughter*

The charms of the UniLad. It really is enlightening.

But it’s not just men who do it. Women are just as likely to do it. But it isn’t totally the fault of these people – it’s society that has conditioned to be judgmental and perpetuate the prude/slut stereotypes.

So to sum it up, if you happen to have a vagina, you’re damned if you do and you’re screwed if you don’t. Never mind the obvious fact that women are people with thoughts and feelings and desires and motives. If they’re having sex they’re getting shamed for it. If they’re not having sex they’re a lesbian, or they’re just too uptight to let someone use them as a human wank flannel. It disregards women as human beings and perpetuates the unhealthy  virgin/whore stereotypes that society (and of course, The Daily Mail) dictates. Both men and women have been brainwashed to think that people can be put into the “virgin” or “slut” category, when the truth is far more complicated – that women and men are humans, and cannot be whittled down to simple labels and groups. It disrespects the individuals and disrespects humanity.

Of course not everybody adheres to this culture. Many men and women are open-minded, thoughtful individuals who are respectful of a woman’s right to her own body. But that needs to be the norm, not the exception.

I propose a radical revolutionised way of treating each other – acceptance, tolerance and lack of judgement on anybody’s way of living their life. Accept the truth that nothing is as simple as it seems, or as society would have us believe, and refrain from subscription to the disgusting culture that has permeated the otherwise exciting world of university.

In other words, do whatever (and whomever) you like, and let others do the same.

Scottish Independence: Yay, Nae or Nae Bothered?

Does anybody care about wee Scotland’s independence? It’s a good question – but recent polls have shown that the answer is probably no. A survey showed that 46% of Scots “don’t really mind”. Not fantastic ground for Alex Salmond’s passionate campaign for an independent Scotland, which he’s been harping on about for the better part of six months. Of course a lot of us try to have an opinion, try to pick a side – but in reality, will a Scotland free from British rule really have a positive impact? Currently, Scotland do have their own legislature, affecting education, health and the economy, but it’s difficult to say whether they have any effective impact. Perhaps having more power over running their own country would improve the state of the education system (which it’s fair to say, is currently in shambles). Or perhaps it would have the opposite effect, if it is revealed that the government is inept to manage an entire country by itself and everyone will find out that the Emperor has no clothes (Alex Salmond being the emperor, for symbolism’s sake). Economically speaking, will Scotland survive? We all know the state of the Republic of Ireland’s economy. Does Scotland want that simply for the sake of freedom from Britain? Salmond seems hellbent on making an Independent Scotland his legacy. But is it for the good of Scotland – or for the good of his ego?

As a girl from Belfast City, transplanted in Edinburgh (slap bang, it’s fair to say, in the hub of the reaction) I have had to carve out some sort of opinion on it. I know a little bit about a country campaigning for independence- Northern Ireland’s history with its campaign for freedom from British rule is the steaming magma to Scotland’s flickering flame. There are a myriad of differences between them, obviously; Britain was tyrannical with the Irish. Because Scotland has always shared an island with England, there’s never been much unrest.

I can’t say I’m informed enough to write authoritatively about it. If Scotland becomes independent, it would be a shame. Northern Ireland would have to make awkward conversation with Wales while England counted its money in the driver’s seat. But it’s understandable why people would want to be separate from Britain – I wanted to as well, once upon a time. It’s all up to the people now: will they go for change, gambling on an unsure thing in the hope it goes right? Or will they (understandably) stay safe ensconced in the United Kingdom? Only time will tell.

Scotland? Independence? Meh?

So its referendum year in Scotland! And it has been some time since I can remember the Scottish people trying to come together to actually care about something, in fact last time I can remember such an event was France ’98. I was seven years old and we got let out of school early to watch the first game of the World Cup versus Brazil.  Simpler times. Not to mention the result from that occasion was somewhat more predictable than the up coming referendum.

If I am honest I find the whole thing a bit over whelming, my apathetic side is burning brightly at this stage and it is most likely I shall end up changing my vote at least three times on the way to the polling station.

I’m sure many people will be annoyed by this confession but I am sure a large majority would agree.  It is quite a lot of pressure especially considering its people of our age and younger who’s children and grandchildren could end up in an independent country, and all that would come along with that.

People are just firing stats and information around and as of yet it’s hard to know what is true and what is just wishful thinking. And I am not alone in this feeling. I do not like the Tories personally, however their government will not be permanent. So independence would get rid of them, but at what long term cost?

There is also a part of me that looks at Scotland and our national psyche and wonders, are we just too cynical to vote for Independence? Would we look at it all and be naturally drawn towards the negatives that are presented and bottle it…? And its not like we are an oppressed state, this is no struggle for independence. But a lot of people do just blindly hate English. Probably because their daddy, and their daddies daddy hated them too.

If we vote for independence then the truth is no one knows what would happened, and right now I have no idea what I’d vote. So we shall see what I settle on when the pen finally hits the paper and my vote is cast.