Celebrity Culture: Death, Addiction and Mental Illness

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As the news poured in about the death of Terry Prachett this year, I sat in silence as I mourned the loss of someone I’ve never seen beyond a picture on a screen. I’ve never read Terry Prachett’s books but he was always a man I admired from afar after seeing his documentary on Euthanasia and yet I still feel shaken up from his death. Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson in popular Fox TV show Glee, died in 2013 and I remember that day vividly. I remember feeling like I’d lost a sense of youth and innocence as I’d eternalised their characters. It can be hard at times to remember that celebrities are simply human and therefore things like addiction, mental illness and death still happen to them. The fact that we sometimes have to be reminded of this  is definitely unhealthy though and increasingly the attitude of putting a celebrity on a pedestal has shattering effects for both the celebrity and their fans.

I want to focus in on mental illness in particular as it is a major thing the mainstream media and a large proportion of the general public seem to forget exists in celebrities. Often, even after someone has spoken out about their experience with mental illnesses, they still get copious amounts of abuse and insults thrown at them. There is a certain idea that they should uphold the image of being ‘perfect’ and ‘pure’ and to admit that, like every human being, they have bad days is not allowed. The mania surrounding some celebrities at times can seem overwhelming even if you’re simply watching it from a youtube screen and the thought of your every move being watched and analysed makes my skin crawl. When you pair that with not being allowed to speak out about it in fear of being seen as ‘ungrateful’, you create a society packed full of celebrities who are at breaking point. If you look closely, the life they live is not all that glamorous and luxurious. For example, countless singers and bands say that when they come back from touring, they find it incredibly hard to adjust to everyday life and it is not easy to fall back into a routine. It also must be exhausting and yes, while the idea of traveling around the world sounds glorious, a lot of them will not see much but the back of a tour bus. From being sexually harassed to stalked, numerous celebrities have faced some really arduous situations and then had to relive them through the lime-light as wide-eyed spectators gawked at them.

I’m treading carefully with the topic of celebrity culture as I do believe we all play a key part in the dehumanising of these people from the top companies that manage them to the fans that buy into the mania. Also, Social media completely breaks the barriers down when it comes to interaction between the celebrities and the fans. For some, it can make them feel like they can say or do anything to their idol because they’re only a tweet away and reinforces a level of “friendship” rather than simply idolising.

It’s a vicious cycle. We believe an image that is sold to us, an untainted palatable image, and when the humanity shines through and the person we thought was perfect turns out to be flawed, we shame them mercilessly in the media. Furthermore, we don’t often think of the effect of the image projected on the celebrity instead reckon that we know them because we follow their Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat religiously.

It’s easy to be surprised when something like this happens, Amy Winehouse in 2011, Cory Monteith in 2013 and Terry Prachett in 2015, because we believe we see these people purely as they are. However, we have one image and more often that not, it is exactly the image the media or professionals want us to have. I mourned Cory Monteith because it was a shame he died young, it was a shame his girlfriend was hounded by paparazzi where a smile was written about poisonously and a frown was met with aggressiveness, it was a shame he had a problem with drugs. It always is. However, I do not believe I mourned Cory: the man his family, his friends and his other half knew. It’s confusing and hard to grasp especially because society is positioned in a way where automatically these people are idolised and placed upon a pedestal.

I suppose this plays a part in the bigger discussion of Celebrity Culture in the modern day which could go on for pages and pages but quite simply my overall view is neatly summed up by a John Green quote: “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person” and it is. It truly is.

Celebrity Culture: Death, Addiction and Mental Illness

Film Review: The Martian

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I recently went to see the new Ridley Scott film, ‘The Martian’, and it was surprisingly fantastic. Not to rain on Matt Damon’s parade but I wasn’t expecting him to be anything special in this film however he completely proved me wrong. His performance was outstanding, and given that a lot of the film is character driven, he managed to captivate and entertain. One of my favourite things about the Martian, aside from the eye-candy that is Sebastian Stan, was the humour. I mean, of course, it was heart-breaking at points and gave a real insight into humanity but it was also really funny. I feel like that was what was lacking in films such as Gravity and Interstellar which did explore space very well visually but I found the characters harder to connect to. The science was interesting as well and the views of space were spectacular, it had the perfect amount of both tension and resolve. A great list of actors as well who executed their parts amazingly.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Martian and it’s without a doubt my favourite film of this year so far, so if you get the chance and enjoy seeing space themed movies, definitely give it a go! I’m giving it: ✮✮✮✮.

Film Review: The Martian

The Teenage Girl Survival Guide: 10 Tips and Truths

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  1. It’s okay to feel as though the world is against you, especially if you fall into the category of a POC woman or an LGBTQA+ member of society, but please remember that you have so much to offer and give.
  2. Your gender does not define you. Not having a vagina does not mean you’re not a girl. I want to give you all a bear hug and tell you we’ve been waiting for you for some time.
  3.  At some point, you’ll be ridiculed for liking something which fits into the “teenage girl” stereotype and made to feel ashamed. Don’t feel ashamed. Feel sorry for the grown man that will never know the pleasure of seeing Harry Styles with braids.
  4. If you need help, ask for it. Tell your GP, your School or your Parents. Please don’t suffer in silence.
  5. Friends will come and go. It’s natural that as you’re changing, you will change what you need from a friend and sometimes you’ll discover that moving on will be the best decision you make.
  6. Don’t feel pressured into doing things you don’t want to do. I promise you that if you stick to your guns, it will pay off. I know speaking up can sometimes be the hardest thing to do but you’re made of iron and you are so much stronger than you think.
  7. Sometimes it can be hard to remain empathic and kind, especially if your going through your own issues but always keep it on the back burner: it’s nice to be nice.
  8. HOT WATER BOTTLES FOR PERIODS (OR ANY SAD SITUATION)
  9. Look up ‘Anne Frank’, ‘Joan of Arc’, ‘Malala Yousafzai’, ‘Mary Shelley’. Listen to their stories and the importance of their voices.
  10. You are loved. Completely and utterly loved. Remember that you have total control over your own story and you deserve the highest level of greatness.
The Teenage Girl Survival Guide: 10 Tips and Truths

Monolingualism in 21st Century Britain

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When ordering food in Spain, I speak first in broken spanish before the waitress tells me it’s okay, “I speak a little english” and we continue the conversation. This time I hold all the answers. I have the power of being fluent. Upon arriving home, I overhear a woman trying to order in english, as her native tongue refuses to coil around the words, the man beside me laughs. In his eyes, she is defined by her second language and therefore deemed ‘unintelligent’. This happens to so many foreign people in the UK – I watch as they apologise profusely for mixing up words while we never even gave a second thought to learning their language in the first place. She could be a prized author. A philosopher. Her words could reduce people to tears. She could be a genius when using her native tongue. And yet we live in a society, where people are so wrapped up in their own superiority that they have the audacity to critique someone who is trying to adhere to our laziness . 

In truth, I am ashamed. In Spain, the waitress gives me the power of being fluent. She gives me the upper hand willingly. We need to break out of this stubbornness. As other countries are taught how to make us comfortable by losing their own identity, it stems into a much bigger problem. The number of students taking language degrees is at a record low, with 44 universities scrapping courses since 2000. While I do accept that languages may not be for everyone (I have had my moments of frustration while trying to wrap my head around French verbs) I think there needs to be a shift in order to make learning a language more important in the UK. Britain is more multi-cultural than ever with people from all over the world calling it home. They deserve better. I know it is not practical to ask people to learn every language but in industry, we should know how to cater to the needs of our neighbours. So that when I watch the woman in the cafe stumble over her words, I can reply, “yo hablo un poco de español”.

Monolingualism in 21st Century Britain

THE NEED FOR LGBTA REPRESENTATION IN YA BOOKS

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Young Adult books are home to some of the most complex and fascinating characters ranging from super heroes to protagonists with everyday problems. However there seems to still be one area that is taboo to many: LGBTA protagonists. Many have battled this by claiming, “I wouldn’t know how to write such a character” while releasing their newest book about a world full of vampires and werewolves or have begun casting a lgbta sidekick as merely a prop used for nothing more than their sexuality. There is a world out there for you to explore and make. I would love to read a book about a boy that falls in love with another boy on board the Titanic or above the stars. A boy who is happy and healthy. His sexuality not being the main plot line but not pushed to the side as irrelevant. How many more Hollywood love triangles do we need? That age-old ‘Romeo and Juliet” love that seems to litter the majority of Young Adult pages? Representation is a must for a growing society, as media plays such a large part in our everyday lives; we have to be able to see more than stereotypes. We need to make sure young lgbta people can read about a badass hero just like them who’s sexuality is not the most interesting thing about them. This can be tackled by writing and publishing more books with lgbta protagonists in all genres but also by supporting the ones already published. So if you are curious about some books centred around lgbta people in the young adult genre, this is a good list to look at – https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/ya-lgbt I hope one day the shelfs in Waterstones will be lined with all different types of young protagonists.

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THE NEED FOR LGBTA REPRESENTATION IN YA BOOKS