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Feist

The circle of pop culture life vaguely resembles that of the stereotypical hipster argument. Something become popular, people brag about liking it before it was cool to do so, the backlash occurs with similar bragging, then the backlash to the backlash. Often this can go on and on until the original argument has lost all meaning and descended into ranting, swearing and humorous pictures of cats, such is the state of the internet. Online culture has meant that this process has been speeded up to dizzying levels, with the entire cycle beginning and ending in the space of a few weeks. While it doesn’t pertain to pop culture, the Kony 2012 phenomenon is a perfect example of this. Now we have a surprising addition to the pop culture fold in the shape of Twilight BDSM fanfiction turned saviour of the publishing world, E.L. James’s “50 Shades of Grey” series. I have ranted about this series more than is probably healthy, and my review and discussion of the series can be found here and here. The series is absolutely awful in every way possible and yet it’s being heralded as the hot new thing, receiving more media coverage than one ever imagined it could. Why? I think it’s a combination of extreme hype, savvy marketing and coming into the market when there really isn’t much else to talk about. Of course, there has been backlash, mainly from people who have no understanding of how fandom, fan-fiction or basic sexuality works. The New Statesman’s columnist Laurie Penny, who describes herself as writing about “pop culture and radical politics with a feminist twist”, now joins the fold of the defenders, but doesn’t do a very good job, and since I’m so sick of people entirely missing the point of my criticisms of this god-awful series passing itself off as women friendly, I just had to reply.

Penny admits to enjoying the first book. That’s fine, that’s her prerogative. We all have different tastes. I question her comment that the book is “terrifically trashy” with “a few quite good, quite detailed descriptions of fucking written from the point of view of a woman who seemed to be really enjoying herself.” The protagonist of the series, Anastacia, may orgasm EVERY SINGLE TIME she has sex (one way you can tell the book is more fiction than fact), but she’s also someone who has no real understanding of what she has entered into. Christian, a man so charming he should be used to advertise mace, fails to fully explain what he wants from her, tries to mask abusive actions as kinky, and continually puts her into situations she is uncomfortable with. People defending the actions within this book as being those typical of a dominant-submissive/BDSM relationship are clearly ignorant of the facts regarding these issues. It’s not romantic to have the heroine admit how she worries about upsetting the man who she’s supposed to be able to trust for fear of his twitchy palm.

I have no issue with women reading porn. I encourage anything that encourages people to get their freak on, be it films, TV, books or even fan-fiction, something Penny does bring up. She is right that fan-fiction communities are predominantly female (at least the ones I’ve occupied were) and that it’s an interesting way to “re-occupy” a text. However, she doesn’t bring up a key issue with this particular piece of fan-fiction, mainly the filing off of serial numbers and repackaging as “original” fiction. I’ve discussed this at length before, which you can find in the above link, so I won’t rehash my argument here.

The crux of Penny’s argument seems to be that badly written porn is okay because it’s badly written porn for women. But it isn’t just badly written porn, although the prosaic quality is heinous. This is badly written porn that entirely misunderstands what a D/S relationship is and instead normalises a controlling jerk as someone who’s just sexually adventurous. It takes the oft imitated “stand by your man and you can change him” narrative and tries to use that to justify why an abusive and controlling jerk would want to have kinky sex. Apparently it’s not good enough just to say he likes to dominate a woman. It has to be tied up in his neglected childhood. When the biggest mainstream exposure a BDSM centred piece of media receives is one that entirely twists and misunderstands what BDSM actually is, that’s something that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, the media seems more interested in pretending a vanilla fan-fiction is the 21st century Story of O (also, I have to stridently disagree with Penny’s assertion that Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy is well written. It really isn’t). The idea that porn for men isn’t mocked is also pretty laughable. There are entire websites dedicated to mocking bad porn. I am pro-porn in the sense that I think we should be making and promoting more women friendly stuff. 50 Shades isn’t women friendly. It’s not particularly friendly to literature lovers either.

Penny’s argument rests on the idea that anything created by a woman for a woman must be encouraged. To that I have one word – Twilight. If it wasn’t for Twilight, 50 Shades wouldn’t exist, and don’t we all yearn for those days. Twilight is massively sexist abstinence porn and the only reason Penny seems to be defending 50 Shades over Twilight is that the former contains some badly written sex scenes. Penny herself refers to Twilight as “actively disturbing chastity propaganda”. Which it is. That doesn’t make 50 Shades the preferable alternative.

Porn doesn’t have to be art, although it has the potential to be. In our culture of contrasts – over-sexualised yet fetishizing virginity – it’s tough to get the balance right and to find something truly feminist friendly and pro-equality in terms of sex. There are countless great romance and erotica novels that I hope will get more exposure in the wake of this series reaching pop culture saturation. However, I remain steadfast in my refuting of Penny’s remarkably weak article. 50 Shades cannot be looked at separately from the culture that created it. Born from the purity worshipping sex free porn that is Twilight, part of the generation of literature for young women that normalises passivity in women and rape culture in relationships as the romantic ideal, in a culture that continues to put women second. There’s nothing empowering about James’s series because she doesn’t have a clue what she’s writing about. She’s giving porn a bad name, and it never had a good one to begin with. Just because something was written by a woman and for other women that does not make it women positive. If Laurie Penny wishes to defend “50 Shades of Grey”, I suggest that she formulate a stronger argument.

So this is what having a social life is like?

QI
I'm not used to it at all!

Last week I had 4 straight days of socialising, a new experience in my life. Last Friday I went out clubbing (try and get the mental image of me dancing in a nightclub out your head!) with friends, Saturday I went to watch the rugby match in Teviot (wherein Scotland was well and truly humped by Wales), Sunday was BAFTA night at Nat's flat with lots of tweeting and nerd complaining then Monday was regular quiz night and we won! There are some truly atrocious photos of me from the clubbing night which I will not be posting here for everyone's good. Dancing is something that cannot be captured with dignity in still form, although the jury's still out on whether or not it can be captured with any dignitydull stop! My friends do have some wonderfully entertaining dance moves too, I wish I could share them with you all! 

On the health front, things are really looking up. I've got the doctor's letter sorted out, the appointments booked and everything should hopefully be sorted out soon! I'm feeling so much better about this already, although I am still embarrassed that it took me this long to get it sorted out. I also got a huge confidence boost on the education front when I got back the Old Irish exam I didn't panic in. I got 75%! I'm so chuffed with myself for that one.

So I celebrated by donating blood. It's something I've always wanted to do and Daryl did it a couple of weeks ago so I went ahead and donated myself. It didn't hurt at all which surprised me since I'm a total wimp with pain, although my arms were a bit sore afterwards. The nurse also said I was very pale but that was okay since I was pale (and interesting!) when I came in. I do have rather large bruises on both arms though (first try in left arm went wrong - nurse hit the vein or something - so I had to switch arms. I also bruise like a peach anyway.) Once the blood was pumping, it was over pretty quickly and I got a ton of free biscuits out of it! If you are able to give blood I seriously urge you to go ahead and donate. It's a great cause that needs all the help it can get.

Next week's going to be a lot of fun. I'm going to see an all male production of The Comedy of Errors with my gender & theatre class and since it's gender awareness week at the uni next week one of the girls in my class wants us all to cross dress for the occasion. I am completely up for that although I'm not sure I have anything in my wardrobe to do a drag day justice. I think I left my Franz Ferdinand tie at home. I also really want to buy a bowler hat for the occasion but they're surprisingly expensive. Style has a hefty price tag apparently, which is probably why I've remained so inept in that area.

I posted at the blog a couple times, including a review to the sequel of the book that made me the angriest I've ever been at a book, HERE. I've been reading a lot more lately, especially since my course demands it, so I haven't been writing as much of my book lately. To be honest, I've been at a mental road block on it for a couple of weeks now. Everytime I sit down to write more of it, I just go blank in the head and instead of seeing what I want to write all I can see are the mistakes I've made and the stuff that I desperately need to fix. My original intention was to do a first draft then sort out the problems with the completed story since otherwise I'd just be repeating myself over and over again, but I may need to rethink that situation. Hopefully I'll get a burst of creativity soon, preferrably once my essays are done. If not, I'll just have more time to read and that's never a bad thing! 

Summer's over...that was quick...

Mock the Week
I go back to Edinburgh tomorrow afternoon. I'm leaving a little later than planned because of the whole Pope thing, but that does mean I'll miss the protest a friend is holding which is a shame. I've always wanted to be a part of a protest, it's actually on my bucket list! I'm looking forward to being back in the city and getting back to studying. Yes, seriously. I got my list of topics I'll be studying in English lit this year and it's brilliant! One whole semester of Shakespeare then next semester there's classical Greek tragedies, more Shakespeare, Caryl Churchill, Liz Lochhead and Tony Kushner! I love my course! Not sure what's happening with Celtic yet, I've got a meeting on Friday though so I'll sort it out then.

In other news, I have officially signed up for NaNoWriMo. I will come to regret this at some point, won't I? Is anyone else out there doing it too? I'm going to write the contemporary YA idea I have since I'm a bit burned out on vampires right now, even cool art thief ones. Don't forget to check out my blog too! *coughshamelessplugcough*
Milk
Eek, I go back to university in less than a week.

It's been a seriously long Summer, what with having no job and nothing much to do, so I can't believe it's only been 3 months since I came back home. It feels like an age. But I know that when I go back to Edinburgh it'll feel like I've never been away. I'm still looking for a part time job in the city and I've got so much I want to do this year I think I'd better start planning some sort of schedule or something so I know I'll get stuff done instead of lounging around and procrastinating as is my want. I really want to do NaNo this year but I can't decide if I want to do a paranormal story (I do have an idea for a vampire story involving grand art theft, obsession, the city of Edinburgh and vampires that turn into corpses in the sunlight) or a contemporary one (book censorship, church versus state, sexual awakening, all that good stuff). I've still got over a month to decide so I'll wait and see.

I have a few things to do before I go back to Edinburgh too, like visit Petsa and Reuben again, get my eyelashes done (I'm seriously the opposite of vain but there's something strangely relaxing about getting dye put onto your eyes, honestly) and visit my grandad again. I made a batch of scones with strawberries and cream and took them down to his new place at the beginning of the week, I hope he didn't eat them all in one go, he has a habit of doing that. It'll be nice to get back to the city where I'll be less bored and within closer proximity to the cinema and more bookshops!

Side note: thanks to cleolinda  for the sparkly promotion of my Hush, Hush review. I understand I got a few more followers out of her generous pimping so hi there! I'm still hoping she'll review the book, if only because I want to see her recap style on the horrors of angels with dog's names. I wrote my first real piece for my blog too, replying to a YA author's piece on boys in YA. Hope you all enjoy! I'd also really appreciate some suggestions for books to read that you'd like to see reviewed. I've got a couple but there's always room for more. I've got a few books ready to be reviewed soon, one good and one sparkly bad! 

Clusterfox! The musical!

Feist
So uh yeah, this happened.

This is what happens when you're bored and browsing twitter and certain friends (*cough* squally_bunbun  and anneloes4  *cough*) make silly suggestions and get your brain working into stupidity overdrive. You end up writing a mini musical about FoxNews. Yeah, really. I am shit at rhyming and have no real music to go to this so imagine what you will. It starts during the 2008 RNC then moves to modern day 2010. Blame those two names up there for this, I'm not taking credit! Unless you enjoy it, then I am.


 

Clusterfox! The Musical. A Tragi-Comic Tale of Love, Lust and Smears.Collapse )

Summer employment - I has it!

Mock the Week
Yay!

I had an interview at Tesco on Thursday for a night shift job and I was pretty down that they hadn't called back because I was convinced I'd been successful. I was right. I'm so happy now, the depleting funds in my bank account were beginning to terrify me, now I'll be able to push the funds up a bit and maybe have some extra for a bit of a wilder time at the festival! It's just shelf stacking but it's a well paying job (£7.50 an hour after midnight) and snce I barely sleep these days it works to my advantage. The best bit is they leave the job available for you if you want to go back to it next year! So if my sketchy dreams to work in America next Summer fail, I have a back up plan. I just need to call them tonight and sort out some details. Hurray for employment! 

In more exciting fangirl news, I'm finally contributing to fandom for the first time in ages. Yay to fakenews_fanfic and the demented OT's for inspiration. I'm surprised I got as many comments for one story as I did - bringing love to the obscure pairings has it's perks. I also contributed to the pundit kink meme but not telling you which one is mine. That would defeat the purpose of anonymous porn! 

I'll leave you with some US Whose Line, one of my favourite games! Enjoy!

 

Slash for sale!

QI Stephen
Will sketch for the first five people who comment with their request.
The catch is that you must put this up in your journal as well.
If you absolutely do not draw, write something, etc.

Stolen from fantasy_bubbles 

Okay, I have all the artistic skills of a plate of chips so I will write anything you request, within reason! So feel free to ask for anything. It would be really handy for me to get some ideas for writing since my own well of inspiration is currently empty and filled with junk food and repeats of South Park. I won't finish writing them until after my Gaelic exams so there will be at least a week's delay. But please give me ideas! 

In the meantime to amuse/inspire you, have some Russell Howard.

Carnivale
Sadly Benjamin Button was sold out tonight so I went to see Frost/Nixon again (I was too embarassed to go and see Bolt on my own) and loved it as much as I did the first time. Michael Sheen = Phwoar! Since I'm now in need of a few favourite actor, I have a feeling this guy's going to fill the role. Bring on The Damned United (which I saw a trailer for tonight and it had the song from the strip scene in the Drew Carey Show - proof that I'm getting a bit too into tying things to WLiiA).

My sister is part of this newly formed comedy group at school and I promised her she could use a bunch of old stuff I'd written a few months ago (I posted one of the sketches here if I remember correctly). I was trying to get back into a writing groove tonight and bashed out this little sketch for her. Guess what it's a parody of. *grin*

 

Night of the Living TwilightCollapse )

Saturday night...

John Sessions
I had a good night last night, the first night out I've had in ages. It wasn't much to write about though, so I won't bore you all with the details. t involved folk music, ID required that I didn't have, chips and the Undertones. Summaries make things sound so much more exciting! The test went...erm...well, I'm not sure yet. Everybody looked around the room at each other when we saw it and froze. The silence was so uncomfortable, the lecturer left the room. During our speaking class we just bitched about it while some of the class drank whiskey! Yay for expectations of Scots! Don't blame me though, it was the American that brought in the bottle! I had a lovely lie in this morning, bought some chocolate lollies for my family for valentines day then went to see Revolutionary Road. I've just spent tonight in with a cheese and jalapeno pizza writing reviews which was really relaxing. Click below if you're interested, it's a very long post reviewing all the Oscar nominated films I've seen over the past few days.

 

Brad Sherwood
Damn erratic sleeping habits! I didn't bring my Nytol with me and we were out of milk so I just ended up plopping around the living room with my dad on the couch sleeping (he could sleep through an earthquake) and played my mum's DS. I don't think watching TV shows about famous murders is a good viewing material when you can't sleep, especially when they show pictures from the murder. Geez, the Black Dahlia murder was horrific! Thank god the picture was in black and white! It didn't help that when I did fall asleep I had a dream that Piers Morgan was trying to drown me! I knew I hated that man for a good reason, other than him being a pure twat! I'm staying at home for an extra few days, just to enjoy lounging around with my family and watching Black Books and Gavin and Stacey a lot. I'm almost done with my first episode of the kids TV show I'm writing. Do you think The Disney Channel would like a show that doesn't have tacked on morals, pop songs or merchandise opportunities? It could be too bloody for them if I do decide to add the gore like my original plan. Kids need a bit of gore, it didn't do me and my sis any harm. Actually it freaked the hell out of me but my sis loves it! If you're interested I shall post a few scenes. My plan is to become bigger than Stephenie Meyer without doing her usual habit of raping a thesaurus! It can be done!

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Feist
ceilidh_ann
The great work begins...

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