Serenity

Resting on a blood red, metal seat in the middle of London Victoria Coach Station, I await the bus that will deliver me to my final destination. I’ve been up and down the country a lot in the past week, visiting my family in Swansea and some of my friends in Brighton. A large man sits down on the same row of seats as me, leaving the obligatory few between us as one does. His mass bulges into the seats on either side of him and each of his movements result in a tidal wave of shaking and creaking throughout the entire row. I reach into my pocket and flip open a half-used packet of cigarettes. I light one between my lips. Hopefully it will mask the rancid cocktail of sweat and halitosis wafting from the man sitting nearby.

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Aside

Oliver! 1968

Once or twice a year I re-enter my Oliver! admiration/misery rut. It is my favourite musical of all time and one of my favourite films. There are so many reasons why so I thought I’d talk about today to try and get some of my emo Oliver! feelings out of my system.

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Stranger Things

I think it’s time I wrote a blog post about Stranger Things. I know you’ve probably seen a million but I think it’s taken the place of my favourite TV show (a space that was left empty by Doctor Who many years ago when Steven Moffat took the wheel and the writing took a nosedive).

Firstly, the concept for the show is interesting and multifaceted. We have the ongoing story of Will, the story of Eleven and her origins, Nancy and Steve, Hopper’s history and much more to keep us interested whilst also figuring out all the mysteries of the upside down. The only episode that I’ve ever felt let down by was episode season 2 episode 7 (I think a lot of people felt the same way) in which eleven went looking for her ‘sisters’ from the lab. Every single other episode has blown me away. I absolutely love the show.

The acting, particularly from the young actors/actresses in the show are outstanding. I have to give Noah Schnapp a particular mention here because his performance being possessed by the shadow monster was just incredibly for a thirteen year old. There’s not been a moment during the entire series where I’ve been left not quite believing any of the performances, they have all been authentic and compelling (at least in my opinion). Of course, Winona Ryder and David Harbour’s performances are also excellent. Not to mention Millie Bobby Brown, who we’ve just come to expect amazing performances from but shouldn’t be forgotten.

The 80’s setting of this show gives it a distinctly nostalgic vibe (even for somebody who wasn’t alive then) and somewhat leaves me longing for a time before the internet. When kids had to travel to an arcade to play games and the telephones were attached to the wall. Obviously, things aren’t simple for the characters of this show, having another dimension to cope with, but it leaves you thinking about what it must have been (or was) like before all the mad technological advances of recent years.

The music! The music is one of the defining elements of the show. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash is potentially the anthem of the show but there are so many amazing tunes to listen out for along the way.

The characters are compelling. Nancy is independent, Steve is a brilliantly complex character (probably the best character arc of the series so far), Dustin interjects some light relief whenever necessary, Hopper is probably the best policeman ever and Joyce (god love her) has some impressive, resilient vocal chords.

I think the main reason this show stands above other brilliant shows that are out at the moment is the compelling characters. Even if the upside down situation was completely resolved I would still watch the show because I just want to see what’s going on with Dustin, Eleven, Hopper, Mike and Nancy etc. If you haven’t seen the show already I highly recommend devoting your Christmas break to it, you won’t regret it!

Until next time,

J x

Blogmas?

It’s the first of December and the main word that I’ve been hearing for the past few days has been vlogmas/blogmas. It’s my first Christmas blogging and I have 2 big essays due in a few days so it doesn’t quite seem like the ideal time to be taking on something like this, however, once those essays are out of the way I actually have quite a few exciting things planned this month 🙂 So I’m going to make an effort to put at least a little Christmassy post up every day until Christmas eve!

So it’s the first of December and kind of aptly (I think) I had a dream about polar bears last night! So when I woke up today I decided to put on a documentary about polar bears which included a LOT of cute baby polar bears (if you haven’t seen one google them now they’re adorable).

I didn’t have much planned for today because of my deadlines but I did have an appointment at SK:N where I’m getting laser hair removal done. I’m currently having my underarms lasered. My main reason is because my skin doesn’t take to shaving very well, I get ingrown hairs and eczema in the area and also it pretty much just grows back by 2 days later. I’m so excited to not have underarm hair anymore! If anyone’s interested I can write a separate post on the whole process of laser hair removal.

Afterwards I headed to Tesco because I’ve had a real craving for cereal the past few days. I was pretty disappointed by the selection (no honey wheetabix minis and no clusters) so came away with tesco brand crunchy nut cornflakes. Anyway enough cereal talk.

In terms of Christmas shopping I’m actually quite prepared for this early on. I’ve already bought some of my mum’s presents, my grandma’s and my friends’ (luckily we do secret santa which makes it affordable). The only present I really have left to buy is one for my step-dad, a few bits and pieces to top off my secret santa and my mum’s presents. I’m not going to list the things I’ve bought here because someone might read it and figure out their present (hi ellie).

Another treat of today has been Taylor Swift finally releasing reputation on streaming services. I held out and didn’t buy the album because, well money, but I almost bought it yesterday morning before a train journey! Imagine if I’d done that only hours later for her to release it everywhere! I probably would’ve cried, but anyway all is well now and I’ve been listening to Delicate and Don’t Blame Me on repeat!

I don’t think I’ll have much time for festive reading this year because I have a few books I need to catch up on for my course (one of which is The Underground Railroad, definitely not festive). Also the books on my TBR shelf don’t really include any Christmassy ones 😦 but I am excited to see what everyone else in the blogging world will be reading over the holidays for future suggestions.

Well that’s been a bit of a mish mash of a post. I just thought it would be a nice way to kick off blogmas and later in the month my posts will probably get a bit better (when my essays are out of the way!)

Until next time,

J x

 

I deleted my Instagram App

I feel like I should clarify that I haven’t deleted my actual account. I didn’t want to take that step in case I decide to return to Instagram, but I have deleted the app and haven’t seen an Instagram feed in about a fortnight.

I should probably explain why I made the decision to do this. I began to find that Instagram was just another stop on the rounds of scrolling through apps for whatever psychological reason it is that we do that (it’s certainly not fulfilling). I probably posted once every 3 months on average, and every time I did I would be glued to my phone waiting for ‘enough’ likes to come in so that I wasn’t as concerned about people judging me anymore. I remember when I was about 12 years old being allowed to create a Bebo account. Firstly I want to point out how much more creative and wacky Bebo was than any of the social media sites we have now, in many ways it allowed for a higher level of individualised self expression, but anyway… I think that was the first time I ever felt the panic of not having enough social media likes. On Bebo they were called hearts/ ‘luvs’ and you saw when you clicked on somebody’s profile how many hearts somebody had. I don’t remember how many I had at any given point but I remember clicking on some of the pages of the popular girls at school and seeing that they had hundreds. Actually, I remember at times this would put me into a panic and I think it was the same for almost everybody. People would practically beg each other for hearts and comment things like ‘luv 4 luv’ etc (late 2000’s text language was an abomination) on each other’s profiles to try and up their count.

Now, Bebo is long gone but it has been replaced with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The reason I decided to delete Instagram and not either of the other two is because, to me, Twitter and Facebook still have some inherent value that overrides the pressure and anxiety that comes with all social media. Facebook allows me to stay connected with the more obscure people in my life, to have a cheeky look at what people I went to school with are up to and Facebook Messenger is the main way I communicate with my friends on a daily basis. With twitter it’s slightly different, I don’t actually feel too much pressure to get a whole load of likes on my tweets. I also tend to find that there’s a genuine correlation between the content of tweets and how many likes they get. If the tweet’s shit it’ll probably get less than 5 likes regardless of how popular you were in school. The value of twitter to me is information. It’s a useful source of world news, pop culture trends and hashtags have become sort of a staple in the development of a lot of ideological movements.

Instagram, however, does not have any of these redeeming features for me. Personally, Instagram epitomises all of my anxieties with social media. One of my absolute least favourite things about it is that people are congratulated on physical attractiveness (whether it be false under a guise of makeup/filters/edits or genuine) as if it’s some kind of achievement. If somebody looks especially nice they “deserve” more likes. This is a mentality that many of us have without even realising, because when you actually think about it it’s completely MENTAL! Nobody EARNED the way they look. Angelina Jolie didn’t excel in some obstacle course before she was born that granted her the gift of good looks just in the same way that a baby with a deformity didn’t do anything bad to deserve it either. I’ve heard some of my friends say things like “if they look especially nice I’ll give it a like” and to be honest I’ve grown tired of the shallowness… I’ve also found Instagram to be a bit of a breeding ground for fakeness. We like other people’s content just to receive likes or portray ourselves in a positive light (kind of like the hearts on Bebo). The chances are people have only liked your picture in the hope that you will in turn like their next one. It’s not genuine and they probably didn’t spend more than three seconds looking at it, and what’s worse? You don’t care. You don’t care that it’s disingenuous as long as the numbers are there for everyone to see when they scroll past you looking for their own posts to fixate on. Really, what’s the point?

Lastly, but DEFINITELY not least, is the body image aspect of Instagram. The majority of pictures people post are edited at least in some way. You’re not looking at the face of your best friend sitting across the sofa from you each day, you’re looking at a construct. It’s easy to spot this with people you spend a lot of time with, but where it gets dangerous is when you begin to compare yourself to celebrities and acquaintances that you don’t see in person. You don’t have the reality to balance out the edited version and that’s when insecurities start to fester. I know girls that spend hours and hours a day just scrolling through images of toned girls in bikinis, this isn’t healthy.

I ended up finding that scrolling on Instagram was causing me more upset than any kind of rewarding sensation it was supposed to give me. I probably only spent about fifteen minutes a day (on average) on Instagram, but in those fifteen minutes I could go from feeling totally fine to feeling worse about myself, even if it was just a tiny amount. I’ve decided that, for now, it’s just not worth it for me. I’ve already had messages from anxious friends asking me to like their latest post and it’s only a reminder that social media can be a truly insidious way to make an enemy out of yourself and to commodify your friendships. Even though I’ve only deleted Instagram, it’s one less thing to worry about. One less thing to squander my time scrolling through.

 

Until next time,

J x

“There’s no-one like Krum”: Celebrity Culture in Harry Potter

I was lying in bed the other night, trying to lull myself to sleep by re-watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when I noticed something about Ron in that book/film. It’s only a sort of sub-plot of the story, and one I’ve always kind of glossed over in my mind, but it stood out to me more in my sleepy, hazy head-space for some reason. Ron is obsessed with Viktor Krum!

At the Quidditch World Cup Ron is ecstatic to see Krum play as seeker for the Bulgarian team and when Krum arrived at Hogwarts for the Tri-Wizard tournament Ron was dumbstruck. There are, naturally, celebrities in J.K Rowling’s immersive and fully formed wizarding world and Krum is probably the one we learn the most about.

Personally, I find Viktor Krum a particularly interesting character because he is an incredibly successful and famous athlete whilst still being a student at the Durmstrang Institute. If Harry holds the record for youngest Gryffindor seeker in a century, surely Krum must have a few of these unofficial titles to his name as well! Despite his celebrity status, Krum travelled to Hogwarts along with his peers in order to take part in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. This resulted in him spending a lot of time in the presence of normal wizards, including one of his biggest fans Ron Weasley.

Krum’s role in The Goblet of Fire is, largely, to be a plot device. He fuels Ron and Hermione’s ongoing romantic tension and ends up hexed in the maze in order to clear the path to the Tri-Wizard cup for Harry and Cedric. Putting his role in the actual tournament aside, Krum’s impact on both Ron and Hermione is an interesting one.

Perhaps unrealistically, Krum sets his sights on the quiet, pensive Hermione Granger (who has her head in a book 80% of the time) instead of on one the hoards of girls following him around everywhere. His quiet and understated demeanour means that Harry and Ron do not find out about his relationship with Hermione until the Yule Ball. Instantly Ron, who had previously adored Krum (and famously stated: “There’s no one like Krum! He’s like a bird the way he rides the wind! He’s more than an athlete! He’s an artist.”), now immediately despises him for bringing Hermione as his date to the ball and, in doing so, shattering both his assertion that Hermione is completely undesirable and desperate for a date and his own ego (because we all know he would’ve been more than happy to go with Hermione).

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This characterisation of Krum is clever in that it humanises a celebrity and reveals his desire to live a quieter and less glamorous life through his choice to pursue Hermione. He frequently displays his sincerity through acts such as rescuing Hermione from the Black Lake in the second challenge and asking her to write to him one he has left Hogwarts. Despite Ron’s newfound hatred of him, Krum endears himself to the reader/watcher.

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Ron’s reaction to Krum, however, adds depth to Rowling’s depiction of celebrity culture. It demonstrates that fans put their idols on pedestals. They expect them to be perfect at all times. Ron expects that because Krum is a brilliant seeker that he will be equally as brilliant in every aspect of his life. Quickly, however, when Krum does something that damages Ron’s pride he reverses his opinion and decides that Krum is now “the enemy” rather than an “artist”. In doing this Rowling suggests that when you hold somebody to such an unattainable standard you will always be let down when meeting them in reality. Ron’s experience, despite being entirely self inflicted, left him jaded and disappointed.

On a positive note this experience worked out pretty well for Hermione. She bagged a date with a celebrity and also pissed off Ron doing it, which I imagine is one of her favourite past times 🙂

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Hope you enjoyed this silly post!

Until next time,

J x