Entertainment, Music, Television

Is The X Factor really THAT bad?

“I can say I haven’t watched a single episode of that crap this year!”

“If we all buy Star Wars music we can stop their awful single making Christmas number one again!”

“The X Factor is ruining music!”

Alright, I’ve never been a die-hard fan of The X Factor, but I’m getting quite tired of hearing about how ‘crap’ it is in and around social media.

I’ve been watching it on and off this year, more than I have any other year and I became quite invested in some of the singers from start to finish. Louisa Johnson, 17 years of age and the current nation’s sweetheart won over Wembley last night with her rendition of Forever Young (Winner’s Song) and became the latest star born from The X Factor.

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A winner’s tears

How far she goes within the music industry is irrelevant and a lot of people seem to have taken the show as a personal insult to their music taste. With attacks on The X Factor flying left, right and centre, it’s enough for a fan of the show to sink to their knees in despair.

In defence of the show (which I have quite enjoyed over these last few months) there are some things that seem to go straight over people’s heads when they impose their rants upon the world.

It’s just crap, trashy TV

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The Tapper Family, from Channel 4’s Gogglebox

It might not be as classy as your Strictly Come Dancings or your Great British Bake Offs and it might not hold as much weight as the likes of University Challenge or Newsnight, but it’s good, easy entertainment. Watching it allows you to relax, sit around with friends or family and discuss what’s happening. After a week of working solidly, some people want to switch off and watch something fun, rather than continue to actively engage with media.

It ruins the true Christmas Number One Chart

We live in a day and age where Christmas songs are already deeply engrained into our minds; they’ve got a deep-rooted sense of nostalgia that resonates with us and for some reason, we can’t let go. We find it difficult to welcome new Christmas songs into our etched-in-stone digital playlists because they just don’t feel…well, Christmassy. The X Factor winners have had 7 Christmas number ones in the last 10 years, the other three including one defiant selection in 2009 called Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine, which I’m sure we all remember. It’s interesting to think that maybe The X Factor have successfully pushed their winners to the top because they are popular with a lot of the British public, unless it is all fixed as some rebels claim.

It’s just about Simon Cowell making money

The music industry itself is worth £4.1 billion in the UK as of 2014 and
Simon Cowell holds a net worth total of £325 million, which is a 7.2% contribution to the industry (if that’s where all his money went or came from). These big numbers account for the fact that Simon Cowell is a big, big name in music and has simon_cowell-426617been responsible for the greats that have come out of The X Factor. So, if he is making a lot of money but at the same time creating popular and legendary artists, then let him do his job.

It’s destroying the integrity of music

There is a reason that Beethoven isn’t in the charts today. Popular music changes with time, society and technology. It reflects who we are as people and goes with the flow of what has been popular before, transforming and changing in a way that nobody could explain. I accept that as the show reaches its 11th year running, it feels as though they are just looking for the best cover artist or karaoke singer. However, as they use and revamp current music, it’s unlikely that The X Factor will ever die.

Ultimately, The X Factor is harmless and does more positive than negative. Think of all the budding filmmakers / media workers who want to get a foot in the door and work on the show. Then there are the people that the show is made for: the singers. It gives them the opportunity to become the star they always wanted to be; whether they are successful or not is up to them in the end. It makes people happy who watch it and are involved in it and it brings music artists together. Last night we saw One Direction, Adele and Leona Lewis singing to the Wembley masses and it was stunning.

Just think of the artists that have been squeezed out of the millions who applied for the auditions – Olly Murs, One Direction, Little Mix, JLS, Ben Haenow etc etc… Some of them vanish into the depths of nowhere, but enough have made their way in the industry for it to be credible.

We are not ‘dumbing down’ as a nation, and we are not losing our integrity in regards to the music industry. The X Factor as I see it is a viable solution to escaping some of the hardships of life and allows us to enjoy music together, while at the same time creating new artists. Whether they are any good or not and whether they succeed is again down to the public – we are encouraged to believe.

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Entertainment, Photography

Dior, J-Law & Photoshop

I’ve recently read a blog article detailing the scandal of using Photoshop to make models in magazine adverts look more flawless than they already are. Jennifer Lawrence, an Oscar-winning and well-loved actress has recently come under scrutiny by popular blogging site Hellogiggles, referring to how much airbrushing a human face can actually take before it doesn’t look real.

There is a lot of debate around the subject of using Photoshop in ads, with an outcry for advertisers to use ‘real’ women in their posters for luxury perfume and make up. In this Dior commercial for lipstick, J-Law looks amazing, more amazing than anyone could ever look in real life and there’s been a lot of criticism, asking if this is right, that women in ads don’t look real. Is it misleading to women to suggest that this lipstick will make you look as beautiful as J-Law, as it magically makes your blemishes and chubbier-than-you’d-like-cheeks disappear? The answer is, no. In this day and age, it’s incredibly common knowledge that Photoshop is used; we know that actors and models probably don’t look as great as in the photos, and we know that that particular lipstick isn’t going to make your eyes sparkle like Barbie’s. We’ve seen the wonders that Photoshop can perform and it really revolutionised the magazine and advertising industry.

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Let’s consider this; if you’ve got this wonderful, unique product that you’re about to unleash on the world, surely you’re going to want the marketing campaigns to be the most beautiful, to stand out among all of the other millions of products out there. As a modern woman, I’m not going to be duped into thinking that one single make up product is going to change my life and make my skin look as smooth as a Disney princess’s. I do know, however, from the pretty advert that it’s a desirable and luxury make up product that I’d probably quite like to add to my make up bag, if I could afford it(!).

Don’t get me wrong, adverts have been pulled before for legitimately being misleading; Natalie Portman starred in a Dior o-NATALIE-PORTMAN-DIOR-AD-BANNED-570
advert for mascara and they specifically used Photoshop to lengthen the lashes, which is understandably not cool. But if Photoshop is being used to make someone look beautiful, rather than lie about the effects of the product, there isn’t necessarily a problem. We all know that Photoshop is used, and a lot of us have used it ourselves. We know that the unrealistic images in magazines aren’t always real and that not all women look like that in real life. We’re not supposed to feel duped by the magazines, they’re not intending for us to look at some famous actress with a tiny waist and big boobs and think that is always the norm.

The beautiful thing about these modern times is that we are learning to accept who we are, gracefully and gradually. We are now being told that there are all different shapes and sizes in the world and it’s okay to be who you want to be. Rather than paying much attention to photos in magazines, on TV, on the internet, we are clear about our identities and what we look like. We’re far more accepting of our shapes and that’s how it should be.

Photoshop doesn’t matter; why shouldn’t women look beautiful in magazines? Why can’t we have idealistic images to admire and look up to? As long as we’re happy in our own skin and don’t expect that these images are 100% normal and how you should look, that’s all that matters.

Entertainment, Television

Got a secret, can you keep it?

pretty-little-liars-season-1-pilot-episodeOkay, so I’m on episode 15 of the first season of Pretty Little Liars and I can’t help but actually love it. I struggled through the first couple of episodes, feeling that the acting was too stodgy and the story too weak to be legitimate but after persevering, I’m literally struggling to write this post without being distracted.

A lot of people have watched it and raved about it after its last season, and I figured that it should be something excellent and addictive to watch. It is. I’m hooked and it’s convenient that it’s on Netflix so I can scroll through the episodes at my leisure.

The character development is getting stronger as each episode goes along and each character becomes more and more believable with every line. Sure, it’s still cheesy and the suspense isn’t that suspenseful but it’s incredibly intriguing. I’ll intend to write a review on my verdict of the first season (but I’ll probably forget).

Entertainment, Music

Wildest Dreams

Taylor Swift’s latest music video launched at the recent MTV Video Music Awards and without looking too much into the event, it was full of drama, big egos and lots of celebration. Taylor’s newest release from the 1989 album is ‘Wildest Dreams’, a song that I fell in love with as soon as I heard it. It’s sexy, sultry and full of wonderful sounds that you would associate with being in love, or in a happy place and it just screams ‘Taylor Swift’.

Set in the African plains among lots of safari animals and surrounded by a vintage camera crew, Taylor tells us the story of how she is in love with her co-star in the movie that she’s playing in. In true Swift fashion, the relationship doesn’t end well, but the message of the song is not bitter. Her idea of having wildest dreams shows us that the memory of a happy relationship / happy time is the most important thing and knowing that something is going to end soon does not mean it shouldn’t be a good time. She stresses that the memory of the relationship is what we need to keep, because not everything lasts forever.

I’ve already read some negative press about Taylor’s new video, regarding it as a step back towards her Fearless (2008) or Speak Now (2010) days when she was known for writing often bitter songs about relationships and how they turned sour. Progression is important and Taylor was indeed a much younger version of herself when these albums were released; however, I’ve always seen her as an important and mature role model. I agree that ‘Wildest Dreams’ does ring similar to her previous stuff, but why should that be a step back? Taylor’s music is Taylor’s music, she makes that very clear and even though she’s taken a massive turn and change of trend in the 1989 album, she still has her own style. I’ve read that it’s regressive for her to be in love with another man who doesn’t want her back, or even for her to wear a ‘princess style dress’ to the premier in the music video and I wholeheartedly don’t understand why we can’t have love stories anymore or wear princess dresses. It’s not a step backwards to see a woman wear a huge dress or cry over a man, over love. We see men plenty of times cry of women and over love wearing tuxes, or just shirts and jeans. It doesn’t matter.

The song itself, being soft and gentle on our ears, is relaxing and sexy. It’s message about love is modern, and encourages people to just enjoy life, even when they know something is coming to an end. It tells us not to be bitter, while also showing us beautiful images of lions and zebras. It’s an unusual location for a music video and I can’t say I ever expected it, but it works and it’s so pretty to look at. Watching it for the first time did confuse me a little when the location switched instantly from the African backdrop to a simple scenery board behind the two actors, and then all of a sudden there’s a premier, but after watching it a second time it made more sense to me. The concoction for a music video never requires a simple and obvious storyline now, does it?

After she realises in the premier that their relationship is definitely over and done with when she sees him linked arms with another lady, she runs away and gets straight into her chauffeur driven car to (I assume) go home and start over. What we see is her man (played by Clint Eastwood’s son) running out of the premier after her, but stops in the middle of the road when he sees that she is gone. It tells us that he apparently didn’t want her to leave and that he too enjoyed their relationship. To me, it says that he will remember her in his wildest dreams because you don’t run out of a premier when you don’t care about said person.

I disagree with what people have said about this video being a step back. I think it’s a big step forward in that Taylor clearly accepts who she is (she hasn’t been afraid to show that lately) and she knows her own style and she knows it well. She’s one of the most talented women in this day and age and I can only hope she never stops. As she has so famously said, haters gonna hate.

Entertainment, Review, Television

Pretty Little Liars

I’ve only just started watching this and I’ve just finished episode 3, so this is like a vague review depicting what I think so far.

And so far, so good. I knew full well what to expect when I started watching and yes it’s about a group of beautiful American girls and all the gossip and secrets that surround their lives. They’re all very self-entitled and omg my life is so much worse than yours! hashtag love ya. The writing is… eryhh… but I think the character development so far is decent even within only 3 episodes. I’m sticking with it, let’s put it that way.

My only worry is that there are now 6 seasons and I know what happens at the end (friends have been watching it for a while and I didn’t mind knowing the spoilers) which makes me wonder how on earth they have managed to fit 5 whole seasons between now and the cheeky reveal. I’m just hoping that other dramatic things are going to happen!

I have high hopes for it because a lot of my friends have watched it and there’s been a lot of hype about it around social media lately, so that must mean it’s good…right? An update will follow once I’m more into it.

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Entertainment, Film

Film and the Female

I’ve started a new blog about films and their female characters. It’s something that means a lot to me and after studying it for my dissertation at university, I have stuff to say about the matter.

It’s stylish and it’s swish with lots of pretty pictures on it and so far I’ve thrown in my honest opinion on the films/TV I’ve picked. With it still being under construction to an extent, give it a chance (and bear in mind some of the posts so far are templates to add bumf to the site) and I promise there’ll be more on there as time goes on.

Swing by and any film suggestions are warmly appreciated 🙂

https://filmandthefemale.wordpress.com/

blog

Entertainment, Film

Dinosaurs and the Ladies

It’s all over the cinema world at the moment and all that the dinosaurs are talking about. Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the Jurassic series with a hunky Indiana Jones archetypal protagonist and a smouldering shoulder padded lady friend. The special effects (literally the whole of the film except the people), the score and the A-list actors all scream out Hollywood jurassic-world-pratt-howardmainstream blockbuster and where that’s true, it’s also a slight understatement. Jurassic World isn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever laid eyes upon, but it certainly kept them open for a couple of hours. I normally write off big action films with a sniff and a turn of the head (Avengers, Furious 7, Transformers) but something about Jurassic World peaked my interest enough to spend £10 on a cinema ticket at 9pm on a school night(!). Maybe it’s that it kicked off in 1993 and it’s always a treat to see what they’ve done to the story and the theme (except Indiana Jones and the one we don’t talk about) or maybe it’s that dinosaurs are pretty darn cool and the trailers made me want more. It could also be the stacked Chris Pratt that made up my mind to watch the film or was it just because I didn’t want to be left out of a housemate cinema night out? All of these things contributed to me going to see it at the flicks, but nothing prepared me for what I experienced in regards to the ladies in the film.

Lady number 1) Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the one behind the new dinosaur and effectively the running of the theme park. She’s sexy and intimidating, professional and comes across as a little nerdy but what gets me the most is that she is the exactdalllas_white_ opposite of a mother figure at the start. She’s awful with her nephews – barely even knows them and finds it awkward to hug them. She doesn’t understand when her sister gets upset at the idea that they’re not with her at all times and perhaps worst of all, she doesn’t know how old they both are. She’s everything that a mother shouldn’t be in Hollywood but we can see, I guess, that she identifies herself as far too young and in the middle of concentrating on her growing career. It’s refreshing (in a weirdly bad and uncomfortable way) to see a woman with different priorities however it becomes clear to us as an audience that this is not okay. It’s not alright for her to not know how to care for her nephews. She’s shamed by the mother, by Chris Pratt and by the nephews meaning that we also shame her. Her nephews choose Owen (Pratt) over her because they know that he is more likely to protect them after she abandoned them at the start of the film and come on, look at his muscles.  The film sees her turn it around, though. She becomes protective, caring, motherly and compassionate, falling at the feet of Owen and slipping into a more familiar category of female character that Hollywood portrays, the one that we know most of all.

She’s pretty badass though, running about in heels, kicking dinosaur butt and being actually helpful on their mission to save the humans on the island (including her nephews). Credit to her really. She’s typically sexy, resulting in the end of the film seeing her in a sweaty pale vest that doesn’t leave much to the imagination and a skirt with a slit up her thigh. Her hair’s all dishevelled and her eye make up is dark and smudgy, but heck, that’s what we like to see in a hardworking arse kicking lady, isn’t it? There’s not much romance, unlike most mainstream films. There isn’t really a significant moment where they realise their love for each other and have a bit of a bonk in the truck. There’s flirting though; it’s insinuated, it’s sexy. It leads us (and Owen) on, wondering if they’ll get it on. No points for guessing if they do or not.

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The other females in Jurassic World aren’t all that romantic and sexy, however, but they are badass. Take the main antagonist of the whole film, the Indominus Rex. She’s a lady and a fine one at that. She might be a hybrid and trying to kill people at every corner, but she’s smart and she knows what she wants. Like Claire, we don’t see any maternal side to her – she ate her sibling before she was even that old. She’s out to win for herself and no one else – ain’t no man gonna get in her way. Contrary to usual Hollywood typecasts, the Indominus Rex doesn’t wear heels, doesn’t flash her cleavage and doesn’t appear as a damsel in distress. Quite refreshing, I think…

Our main dino-pal is Blue, the raptor who Owen has a little soft spot for. Of course, she’s a girl, his baby, the one who ultimately he can trust. She’s sleek, fast smart and is a team player with the other raptor friends and more often than not knows which side to be on. Her blue colouring makes her stand out from the rest of them, but seeing as raptors are kinda difficult to distinguish, it makes more sense, otherwise, it could be any random reptile that decides to help out and then we wouldn’t get the sentimental value, would we? Aww.

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The last lady I want to mention because I find her quite interesting is Zara, Claire’s assistant who is given the task of looking after the nephews and following them around the park, keen to crush their fun activities by playing on her phone and being unamused at everything. Like Claire, she doesn’t get it. She doesn’t really show care for the boys or their safety; all she seems to care about is her career progression and her BlackBerry. She’s pretty and she’s randomly British, just so that you remember which one she is. She’s snooty (what are you saying about Brits, huh??) and she’s completely incapable of keeping an eye on two teenage boys. Now, something that this lady is particularly special for is that she is the star of the first female death-by-dinosaur in the Jurassic Park series. I wouldn’t say she dies with dignity and in fact, I felt sick throughout the whole thing because it is quite an ordeal, but it is significant in that she is effectively punished for not looking after the boys properly. Her incompetence is the reason they escape into out of bounds areas and then get stalked and attacked by the Indominus Rex. So what do we do to ladies that neglect their maternal duties? Kill them off, of course (except the main one because she’s obviously shown real signs of progression in her character…).

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I thought this film was great and actually had a lot of really nice gestures to the previous films in the series. It’s packed full f action and the CG is just fabulous. I really believed that those dinosaurs were there in the scenes. I suppose that’s helped by the sheer fantastic acting by the likes of Pratt and Howard; they got swag. I think they handled the female characters incredibly well (and the male ones too who deserve a blog post of their own but it’s basically my bed time now) and I think the dinosaurs would be reasonably happy with their portrayals – except the Indominus Rex, but she ain’t real, so. The film is a credit to the series, but on a side note I really hope they don’t do another. Leave it there, it’s fine as is. Having said that, I would go see this one again and again because now I know where the jump scares are and I can watch it without hiding behind my fingers.

Books, Entertainment, Review

Book Review: One Day

As I’ve said before, I have recently become an avid reader all over again and this time I discovered a book my David book-one-dayNicholls that I 100% fell in love with. One Day, you may have read it or seen the film (which I still need to watch) and you may, like me, have fallen in love with the story.

It’s about two people across twenty years and documents what happens to their relationship when they are on good terms, bad terms or no terms at all. They both go through death, new romances, shit jobs, good jobs, health problems, anything and everything that normal people experience. And it’s a rollercoaster. But for starters, when I first started reading it, I immediately felt like I could relate to the characters. The female lead, Emma, is a hard working-just graduated-student from Leeds. Check. She finally gets close to a boy she’s liked for a long time. Check. She likes art and wants something creative in life, maybe to be an author. Check. And I was thinking, okay, this is cool. They kept coming at me, more and more things that I could relate to as I read on and to be honest, it felt kind of weird. Emma is throwing a production of Oliver! when not three weeks ago my sister was in one. They go on a holiday to Greece and I’ve very recently been looking at a lot of Greek holidays. Okay, they’re getting a little weak but you get my drift. A story about two people embarking on the adventure of life after just popping out of university. That’s where I’m at now and it really interested me, to see how these characters’ lives played out and would mine turn into anything so great?

The writing is awesome. It really drew me in; I found myself wanting to know more and more about these two people who don’t even exist and also that I was laughing and crying along with them. Crazy. Considering how less than a year ago, I’d hardly even picked up a book for a decade. What I really loved though was how long the time span of the book was – twenty years is a fair amount of time to follow two people. Sharing in their experiences was wonderful and it was really nice to see some actual character development for once.

My reviews are never that deep; I don’t want to pick a book apart page by page as if I was back at school – what’s important is how I read it and whether I would read it again and the answer is a resounding yes. Now I just have to watch the film…