Tag Archives: literature

What’s the deal with Fifty Shades of Grey?

I vaguely remember the storm around E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey when it came out. I remember gathering around a copy with my friends, trying to find the rude sections, and giggling as we read it out. I remember seeing pictures of women brazenly reading it on trains for the world to see, and being fairly impressed at this unapologetic display of an erotic book on their way home from Charing Cross on a Tuesday night. I am in Great Britain, after all, and even though we are known for our prudishness, we are not one to ban stuff.
With the arrival of trailers of the second film, Fifty Shades Darker, I decided to get off my high horse, and watch it. Now, I know it was originally written as a fanfiction from Stephanie Meyers Twilight series, hence the reason why I avoided the film like the plague. Like many others, I assumed it was directed at middle aged suburban women, thrill-seeking and trembling in their cinema seats. But alas, I watched it. And like, what’s the deal with it?

The plot was very simple, very dull, and I kept waiting for something dramatic and exciting to happen. But no. It’s was just a series of meetings between Ana and Christian as they bonded (and later, bondaged… ignore that. I’ll work on the puns later). I did wonder how they were going to direct a film all about explicit sex (from what I gather, I haven’t actually read the book so lack the means to compare) but it was done very tastefully, and the sex scenes weren’t half bad.

Now, I don’t know if I’m being a feminazi here, or whether the film genuinely displayed an almost abusive relationship. Christian draws up a contract for Anastasia, in which she, as a submissive sexual partner, can’t drink alcohol, can only eating food from a specific list, and specifically says she must do anything sexual he asks for ‘without argument’, because nothing says sexy like the underlying threat of rape.

Now, if a guy tried to tell me I couldn’t drink, or I wasn’t allowed that second slice of pizza, he’d be out the door before you could say dildo.
Ana, like any self-respecting woman, doesn’t sign the contract, and eventually gets on with her life, until Christian, displaying EXTREMELY possessive, obsessive tendencies, hounds her via text, getting genuinely pissed off that she’s taking her time considering signing her soul and dignity away. Eventually, instead of giving her the breathing time that she needs, he decides to stalk her, enter her apartment without asking, and has sex with her. Talk about seduction. Already at this point warning bells are going off in my mind. lets face it, girls love a bad boy. Sometimes, it’s cute when he gets jealous. But this goes so far beyond that.
Christian goes so far beyond cute to stalker-psycho, more like Patrick Bateman than Patrick Swayze. He tears her away from her graduation with her father, tells her she cannot go to see her mother and then when she does, turns up and -oh you guessed it- drags her away from special time with her mother. The guy doesn’t have boundaries. He takes over her life completely, and its not sexy, its not cute, its borderline abusive.

But the real cruncher here, is that Christian, whilst displaying a psychotic sort of cold affection towards Ana, states there would be no romantic relationship, only a sexual one. Ana can not touch him, or sometimes look him in the eye. And whilst all the women watching this film look with goggle eyes at Jamie Dornan (Christian), they fail to acknowledge this insult. This guy is the epitome of what we now say ‘fuckboy’. He is not interested in dating her, being nice to her, getting to know her, only using her for his own pleasure. And women find this… sexy? If a boy texted one of my friends saying he wasn’t interested in her for her sunny personality, only her vagina, we’d both laugh and cast him off with all the other fuckboys. But I guess it’s different if it’s a sadistic famous millionaire (A GREAT message for young girls, by the way).

Christian gives Ana a new laptop, expensive books, and even a car (though it’s crucial to point out that without asking her, he got one of his henchmen to sell her old one. See why I have a problem with this?)So basically, it’s a sugar-daddy/ escort situation, but it’s okay because he’s hot.
The main redeeming factor is Anastasia finally leaves Christian, and it seems apparent that she is standing up for herself, not allowing him to hurt her, buy her or own her- a point that now seems redundant considering there’s a second film- but we’ll get to that later.

Now maybe I am reading to much into it. And whilst I don’t want to come off too feminist-lefty-liberal, I honestly do see some worrying displays of abuse in the film. I get the whole dominant-submissive sexual thing, but when it surpasses the bedroom, and takes over the couples life, surely that becomes a problem? If Christian wants to dominant Ana in the bedroom, and she consents, then its all fun and games. But it goes past this, to him controlling what she eats, what she drinks, her friends, when she sees her family, what car she drives, where she lives. So what do you guys think? Is it a disgusting portrayal of an abusive relationship, condoning dominance in young couples? (It’s key to remember this that some young audiences, will watch this and think this is how functional relationships work because majority of teenage audiences are young, dumb, and full of cum.)
Or is it a harmless film that plays around with sexual stereotypes? What do you guys think? Even if you haven’t watched it and have stuck this far, what reading do you get from it? I’d be fascinated to know what others think of this film, as it seems weird for me to bring it up to my friends after years of it being released (and I’m almost ashamed to admit watching it). Let me know what you guys think. Peace Out.

Late Night Memories

Sitting on my windowsill, smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of Earl Gray, I feel a sense of peace. Ever since I was a child, there was something mystical, something indescribably magical about night time. The glow of the moon, the black pavement glittering and shining, the deathless quietness of it all. Later, night time became even more special as I associated it with sneaking out and going to parties, drinking the forbidden fruits of alcohol and bitter drugs, feeling out of control. I’d go outside, loosing sense with reality as I stared into the night sky and thought about the universe. Tonight, however, was quiet. As I stared out into the streets, I thought about the fragility of mortality. I once read a quote that apparently the gods envy us. “They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” I think about how the boys brag about their drunken conquests, armed with their liquid courage and their lynx scented ralph lauren shirts. I see the girls, light in their naïve eyes describing their hopelessly romantic summers and how they felt love on their lips in the form of a blonde-haired boy with a crooked nose and a tattooed name across his chest. And now I know. Now I understand- we are obsessed with the past. Even as I’m writing this, the moment I put down that first word, it’s all a memory. There is no reality, as each second passes and fades into our recollection, it’s gone. We can never feel it again, never grasp it again. Maybe that’s why humans are so self-absorbed, using a magical tongue to tell exaggerated stories, because we want to explain how we felt, how we loved, how we cried and lost and laughed. We want to go back there, but we can’t. It’s gone. Forever. There’s something impeccably beautiful in that, though. Even trying to recreate a memory creates something else differently entirely. I will never be as young as I am now. I will never sit in Louie’s flat, have the same conversations I had with Chris, and Jodie. I will never be on the top of that Ferris wheel with Jack, looking down at the world. I will never sit between my mother and father and feel so blessed to have these two wonderful people always look out for me. And if I do, then it will be different. A new memory, a new experience. People are sometimes terrified of the future. Of the unknown. But I am not afraid. The future will arrive, and soon, it will be gone.

A Witches Remedy For Love

Moon bright, star light.
strong wrist, small twist,
ignore the darkness, ignore the mist


Stir, tap. Stir, tap.
Silver engraved spoon.
In the black, pale face loom.
Snip, snap, Belladonna root.
No Wolfsbane, wolves are cute.
I see a silver arrow shoot.

Stir, tap. Stir, tap.
He loves me, he loves me not
if he doesn’t, let him rot
if he does, if it’s true,
I shall not, just run him through.

Whisper whisper, she’s a witch
throw them all in a ditch
put a curse on the snitch
enough of that, back to black
I commence my tap, tap, tap

silver spoon, I hold tight.                           
 in the black of the night

Will he love me, can it be?
or will his heart remain so free?
I do not know, I do not ask
I just go back, commence my tap

Call me Duffy, call me Plath
All I know, I have no wrath
I am not scorned,
I am not mad
all I know is I am glad

Mine he is, mine he’ll be
After a sip, then we’ll see
if my special brew has worked
in the darkness,
I will lurk. –
then his eyes will fall on I
my hunger will be satisfy- ed
Oh, my witches remedy
Soon you all, you all will see.

POST-STRUCTURALISM + LIT THEORY

Currently studying English Literature at University, this weeks lecture was based on Post-structuralism. I couldn’t find much stuff online, so I thought I’d post this in case someone stumbles across it needing help on the subject or if anyone actually finds this interesting.

Theory is not the same as knowledge or expertise in a certain field, because theory is a speculation. Structuralism doesn’t have to be based on anything concrete, just based on something feasibly explainable. Many other types of Literary Theory spawned on from Post-Structuralism. New theory and criticism is developed as human society and culture continues to grow (e.g. – Lesbian criticism is now accepted. Academia wouldn’t have accepted it in the 60’s).

To decode post-structuralism we have to understand what structuralism is- Peter Barry compares structuralism to the ‘chicken and the egg’ in which Structuralists focus on the chicken rather than the close analysis of the egg that liberal humanists do. It is a belief that things cannot be understood in isolation but seen in the context of the larger structures- The bigger picture, as it were. Structuralism came about when revolution was in the air, socially, politically and intellectually. It’s linked very closely with Linguistics. Saussure’s a ‘History of Linguistics’ – claims how any word in any language, doesn’t actually have any relevance to the thing it describes.

Frederick Nietzsche states truths are illusions; we create language like we would fiction. Edith Kurtzwell in ‘The Age of Structuralism: From Lévi-Strauss to Foucault’- states that the structuralism that Levi-Strauss invented is dead, but has prepared the ground for the various ‘post-structuralisms’

Barry argues post-structuralism is a form of rebellion against it, and more of a cultural than intellectual movement, derived from philosophy rather than linguistics. Post-structuralism is conceptual, questioning the very notions of Truth.

Language systems are illogical, and Saussure’s ‘Course in General Linguistics’ states that word meanings are arbiturary. It regarded truth as an effect rather than present ‘in something’ and everything was defined in terms of everything else- Saussure’s theory of relation. That process itself was relative and constructed, maintaining while words have no central meaning, language is an essential tool of social power.

Texts are open to an unlimited variety of meaning, making us question the world itself as radically uncertain, for language does not reflect the world but shapes it. It raises questions such as if language is deceptive, then who is in control of this system?

Post-Structuralist thinking attaches a more rational and acceptance towards the words and story in a text, looking for a meaning that might seem on a different level than the author may have intended. They do this by referencing the text with the ideology of the time and culture that they are reading in that day- much like to the close reading we as English literature students do.

I personally believe that to truly understand a text we don’t need to know all the social and political context- you can gather your own meaning in relation to how our society and viewpoint stands today, despite the author’s  original intent.

Post-structuralism essentially creates the ‘death of the author’ by creating the ‘birth of the reader’– a concept devised by Barthes in which he argues that readers construct polysemas texts, having many authors and meanings. Barthes argues that we cannot rely on the author’s identity to serve as an explanation for the text, we cannot understand what the writers intentions were and that the author was not the prime source of the work’s semantic content.

In Peter Barry’s talk ‘The ends of theory’ he said to always start with the text rather than the theory itself. He stated structuralism actually takes the reader further away from the original text, into more abstract questions rather than giving us more illumination on the meaning of the text. Barry discusses how Roland Barthes essay ‘The death of the author’ (1968) “makes a declaration of radical textual independence” and is “free of all such restraints”.

Herein lies the debate and the clearest distinction between the two- does the context behind a text help discover, or hinder it? Do we need to see the bigger picture or to focus on the text in hand? It is not something to ever be decided- everything we’ve learnt so far is that there is no ‘truth’ or ‘fixed meaning’, since, as Barry sates, “there is no truth about these matters which exists outside language

Autumn Favourites

So summer has flown by and autumn is finally here. At first, I was a tad worried about writing this post just in case I’d be stereotyped as a typical ‘white girl with a fondness for Pumpkin spiced lattes in Starbucks and crunching her way through the leaves’ but a) I actually prefer tucked away cafes that aren’t unethical and eco-ignorant. B) Yes, I do love the sound of crunching my way through dead leaves (slightly morbid, if you think about it) but there is a childish pleasure in doing that. Anyway, I thought I’d list some favourite of my things about autumn, or THIS autumn in particular.

With the weather getting colder, and people getting lazy in the cold weather, I get to spend more time indoors reading. I can set up the typical ‘winter’ scene by setting a fire, curling up in an armchair in a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa and just read. Unfortunately as I am still at uni at the moment it’s more like being cramped in my tiny, messy room on my bed that is basically just a bunch of springs and a cover, I have to hurry to finish a book a week in time for my lectures. Still, I get to read new books. Currently I’m tackling Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ along with ‘The turn of the Screw’.

Again, as I have more time, I can watch more TV shows. There is some part of shame as an English Lit student loving TV shows just as much as books but after watching Orphan Black, Misfits and re-watching all 3 seasons of Sherlock I can’t complain. If anyone has any interesting shows to recommend I would be extremely happy.

The third point is a recent change in my life in which I have moved from home to Brighton. Brighton is everything I thought it was going to be. It has the hustle and bustle of London without the stress, it’s an extremely diverse culture and even the buildings are full of life and colour. The graffiti isn’t just ‘tags’ of peoples names, it’s art. I will probably be doing a more in detail blog about my adventures in Brighton but it has definitely made my autumn much more enjoyable as I go down the lanes and into little bookstores and cafes and walk along the streets wrapped up in my winter outfits and looking at everything that’s for sale and everyone that’s selling it. Brighton rocks. And yeah, pretty much everyone comes down here for the summer, but there’s something calmingly beautiful yet strangely odd about the beach in winter.

Fashion. I both love and hate fashion in autumn. Because of how many damn layers you have to put on it’s pretty much impossible to match anything. However, I get to wear my huge range of chunky jumpers and woolly socks which I adore. I get to wear brown lipstick and bundle on scarves and hats which make me feel wrapped up in cotton wool. So in fashion, my favourite outfit would have to be my extremely furry multi-coloured jumper with at least two pairs of leggings when its cold, a nice hat and scarf set and red lipstick and nails. There’s something superficial yet exciting about planning your outfit to the weather, or season, But I enjoy it so I take no shame.

Journals. I recently book a new journal this autumn and I’m really exciting to begin sketching, writing and drawing in it. The first blank page is always a bit startling and every year I worry about ruining that first page with awful, childish doodles and terrible drawing but this year I am determined to create a journal full of colour, excitement that I look forward to documenting pieces of my day in.

Fudge. After my partner and I searching high and low for a amazing, mysterious fudge shop, we finally found it a couple of minute before closing. Upon entering, there were lines and lines of fuge stacked up, of every flavour you could possible imagine. To the sides, jars of sweets bursting full of colour lined upon on the wall, and the floor was stacked of glass counters filled with chocolate treats. Now I have never been a big lover of Fudge. As a chocoholic, I would eat it, however I did not have a particular fondness for it. However, after getting 300kg worth of chocolate fudge, I fell in love. It was creamy, rich, smooth, gooey yet firm, the chocolate flavour completely encasing your tongue with its delightful wickedness. And yes, I ate it all that day. And I think it’s safe to say I will be returning to that shop. Maybe next time I’ll try to chocolate orange fudge.

Croissants. Firstly, it is important to establish I am not a morning person. My perfect day would be a very long lie in till about 12 in the afternoon. So when I’m forced to wake as 7 in the morning it is extremely painful for me and having gone a sleep only a few hours before I often feel like death. This results in a permanent sort of queasiness or inability to eat till about 11 o clock. However, after discovering Tesco’s cheap version of croissants, as a poor uni student I leapt onto them.  And I have to say they’ve paid off extremely well. After being heated in the microwave for a few second they are delightfully fluffy and comforting yet quite filling., and it is this reason why I chose to add them to my autumn favourite list.

S there are a few things that I have enjoyed this autumn so far, please let me know what you think of your own autumn favourites, as I’d be delighted to hear.

Peace out.

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The Obession with Fairytales

Fairy tales have been told for thousands of years, we tell them to our children as we tuck them in at night. We recite them as teenage play and discuss the psychoanalytical side as adults.

Throughout our lives, Fairy tales are prominent. In my opinion, there’s something inexplicable mysteries and magical about them, unlike other stories. As a child, I wanted to wear the infamous cape of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and see the house made out of sweets and chocolate from Hansel and Gretel. The vivid imagery detailing the tower from which long flowing hair poured down, the countless evil witches and stepmothers and good fairy godmothers and heroines.

As an English Lit student, the first part of my course allows me to look into Fairy tales from a socio-political and analytical side. I’ve learnt that Red Riding Hood is believed to have medieval Italian roots in which the girl commits cannibalism, and the story is more of a celebration of female wit and cunning before changing- as society becomes more patriarchal, suddenly it is the girls fault for being gullible and naïve. Perrault’s version turns the narrative into a moral in which ladies should learn from. The brothers Grimm put their graphic twist on it. And so forth the story becomes different, changing and adapting to fit our purposes needs, like all fairy tales.

I watch the TV show ‘once upon a time’ which is based on Fairy tale characters, and is a interesting yet admittedly cliché take on them. The film industry recycles fairy tales constantly – one example is the fairly new ‘Snow white and the Huntsman and the upcoming ‘Into the Woods’ released on Christmas day (which I am extremely excited about).

Fairy tales have always interested me. I have based many art designs and drawings and stories on them, and I will never tire of their magical comfort. And I will definitely be reading many of them to my children in the future.

Why I love Cersei

The most common reaction I get when I mention the fact that I love the character Cersei Lannister from popular novel and tv show ‘Game of thrones’ is probably shock and a little bit of confusion. I will try and to explain why I love such an unlikeable character. Ever since I was little, I loved shows such as Xena, Buffy, legend of the seeker and Merlin. My main reason for this is because of the strong female characters presented. And Cersei is no different. A little context if you don’t know about this character- Cersei is the eldest child of Tywin Lannister. Her mother died when she was 8 due to the birth of Tyrion, leading to a hatred of her younger brother. Her twin (and lover) is Jamie Lannister. As children they were extremely close and Cersei has strong beliefs that they belong together, something like two sides of the same coin.  Infatuated with Prince Rhaegar as a child, he refused her fathers offer for Cerseis hand, and she later married King Robert, becoming Queen (every girls little dream). However, on their wedding night, he called her Lyanna (a woman that he is in love with and still mourning for). Cersei bore three children to Jaime- Joffrey (the evil little shit that everyone hates) Myrcella and Tommen. She takes action into helping the King to his death, and then denounces Eddard Stark, leading to his death too. he is need Queen Regent and take charge of Joffreys small council. She uses her power wisely but can get blinded by emotion. For me, Cersei is a beacon of strength and courage. Sure, she’s an incestuous bitch that has caused a lot of trouble. But I think she’s got more balls than a lot of the male figures in the show and book. She’s wise, loves her children and does everything to protect her family and herself, even murder or crippling a ten year old child- though technically, she didn’t agree with as it was Jaime, which she ‘had a go’ at him for. But there are so many layers to her character. She’s a queen. She’s a mother. She’s desperately in love with someone who she can’t be with. She was trapped in a marriage with a man who was in love with a dead woman, to the point of saying her name while they slept together on her wedding night. Being brought up by Tywin Lannister must’ve been hard, but she gained a lot of cunning and wisdom. She uses her weakness and makes herself stronger, realising that strength and power is everything that she needs. She Demonstrates to Littlefinger that ‘Power is power’ unleashing the sassy ‘I-can-do-what-I-want’ attitude that everyone’s so fond of. ‘The more people you love, the weaker you are’ She tells Sansa stark to love fewer people, speaking from experience. She’s not a complete ice queen. We’ve seen her break down, cry and scream. And it’s this emotion which makes me love her so much. She’s not a complete coldblooded killer or twisted maniac. She accepts the fact she has a woman’s body and hates that it makes her weak. She despises the fact that she is not taken as seriously as her brothers, but she does have weapons (her tears and ‘what’s between her thighs’ as she claims) and she uses them successfully. I suppose the modern day equivalent of Cersei would be a strong business woman, completely career driven not afraid to take what she wants. Not to mention she loves wine as much as I do. And Lena Headey is pretty much a goddess. That’s pretty much it for my ramblings on fictional characters for today.   “When you play the Game of Throne, you win or you die. There is no middle ground”