Category: Opinion

So, what’s the value of music to you?

Blog Posts, Music, Opinion September 20, 2016

I’ve recently started blogging on Medium! Follow my profile for my latest uploads and discover tonnes of brilliant content on the website itself. My first entry took a detour into my teen years to discuss the value of music in the present day…

Every so often, I take a trip down memory lane. Musical Memory Lane, that is — I mean, you can’t beat it, if you’re doing it properly.

Lately, I’ve regressed to the nostalgia of my teenage years (that’s right folks, despite how deceiving this baby face may be, I’ve actually been out of that arena for a while). It may have been Suicide Squad that set the wheels in motion; all of that Jared Leto can spark memories of questionable hair and eyeliner and screeching ‘The Kill’ down the street with your emo-homies circa 2005 (yeah, we had a habit of doing that). We were obsessed, with that song, with Jared Leto, and we all had an artful interpretation of how eyeliner should be worn. Mine only came out on special occasions. Probably for the best.

At that age, music was my life, and just like every kid at that age, that statement was not an exaggeration.

It all began when I was eleven. It was definitely before I started secondary school (or middle school for the American amongst thee); at times when I would find myself in my home on my own, I would immidiately punch in the number of the rock channels like it was some illicit activity and flick back and forth between Scuzz, Kerrang! and MTV 2 (yes, pre-MTV Rocks. Rip, 2. How we miss you). Like many, Linkin Park was the gateway, though my thirst was solidified thanks to Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’. I wished I could sing like Amy Lee, I tried to sing like Amy Lee, I failed to sing like Amy Lee, but I still went and bought Fallen and listened to it religiously twice in the morning before school (I did this for at least half a year). I’m not joking when I say that this was a serious endeavour, but as an eleven year old rock and metal fan, I felt like an island.

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Did Gender Alter the Tone of the ‘Alien’ Series: Narrative Implications of Femininity.

Film & TV, Opinion July 24, 2016

Originally published for Bitch Flicks’ June 2016 theme of “Ladies of the 1980s” and still available in full (28/06/16).

When Ridley Scott cast Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien, he created The First: The First Action Heroine; The First Female in a Science Fiction Film That Did Not Have To Be Rescued or Was Not Brunch for a Swamp Monster. Such titles may as well be monikers attached to her name. Ripley was important, and still is, her legacy living on in many an action heroine that followed: Buffy (the Vampire Slayer), The Bride (Kill Bill), G.I Jane, Trinity (The Matrix), Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Sarah Connor’s transformation in Terminator 2.

It is science fiction fact however, that Ellen Ripley should not have been “Ellen Ripley” at all. Dan O’Bannon’s original script for Alien stated: “The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men and women.”  In the climate of the time, it is wholly plausible that Ripley was intended to be a male, as despite the script’s stated gender ambiguity, the original name for the character was still “Martin Roby.” So far so standard for horror and sci-fi, for the genres had always been male-dominated whether it be characters on-screen or in literature or those who create them. After all, it was not until the New Wave of sci-fi that women began to truly stake their claim on the genre, birthing feminist science fiction and writers such as Margaret Atwood, Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, Ursula K. LeGuin and the singular entity that is Octavia Butler — C.L. Moore and Leigh Brackett being exceptions in the “Golden Age,” and Brackett went on to contribute to the screenplay of The Empire Strikes Back.

O’Bannon once stated that:

“I don’t see it as that revolutionary to cast a female as the lead in an action picture,” said O’Bannon. “It didn’t boggle me then, and it doesn’t boggle me now. My conception from scratch was that this would be a co-ed crew. I thought there was no reason you had to adhere to the convention of the all-male crew anymore. 

After all, Star Trek had already had a mixed gender crew for years, and Ridley Scott had a similar reaction when the prospect of making the character female was pitched to him (“I just said, ‘That’s a good idea.”’).

Read the rest of the article on Bitch Flicks!

or

Read my previous Bitch Flicks post: “Why Black Widow is the “Realest” Superheroine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Yes, Even After All Those Tropes)”!

Why Black Widow Is the “Realest” Superheroine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Yes, Even After All Those Tropes)

Film & TV, Opinion May 27, 2016

Originally published for Bitch Flicks’ May 2016 theme of “Superheroines” and still available in full (26/05/16).

Black Widow: the original female Avenger. Actually, up until recently, she was the only female Avenger. Scarlett Johansson had her work cut out in carrying the unspoken burden of representing women everywhere in one of the highest profile, highest-grossing franchises to ever exist onscreen.

To date, her character has only ever been written by and directed by men. It is apparent that the linchpins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are very male skewed, with the only woman currently having contributed to screenplays being Guardians of the Galaxy’s Nicole Perlman, who is returning for Captain Marvel alongside recent recruit Meg LeFauve. Perlman herself stated that writing Captain Marvel has been a far more stressful project than Guardians of the Galaxy ever was, and that she and LeFauve will catch themselves saying:

“‘Wait a minute, what are we saying [here] about women in power?’ Then we have to say, ‘Why are we getting so hung up on that? We should just tell the best story and build the best character.’”

As nice – and preferable – as that would be, it simply is not possible currently. Every woman onscreen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a minority compared to the sheer amount of male characters and therefore automatically complicit in representing every woman, everywhere, all at once.

Read the piece in full over at Bitch Flicks!

Angela Carter and her Bloody Chamber

Articles, Features, Opinion March 29, 2016

Originally published and still available on ZUSTERSCHAP for their “Revolutionary Women” theme (20/03/16).

Unfortunately, I am unable to recall the exact moment that Angela Carter entered my life; one moment she was not there, the next she was. Perhaps it is a testament to both her work and my need for it that her words slipped in and permeated my psyche so seamlessly; there was a thirst and a void that needed filling, and the clout of her fiction sated me.

Whilst the pivotal moment may have passed me by, I can recount a day when –aged 18 and trapped in an awkward induction to first-year university – a lecturer passed back copies of the work would be analysing that day. Flicking through the sheets, I recognised Carter’s three variants of ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ namely ‘The Werewolf,’ ‘Wolf Alice,’ and ‘The Company Of Wolves’. Those unfamiliar with Carter can be forgiven of her solely as a re-interpreter of fairy tales; over her approximate thirty years of publication she wrote nine novels, seven works of short fiction, three poetry collections and three plays as well as children’s books, radio, TV and theoretical writing, whilst also adapting her own work for film. To call her prolific would be an understatement, yet decades on, it is these fairy tales that most strongly persevere.

The Bloody Chamber was – and still is – a shock to the system for the uninitiated, after all in what other capacity does one expect to encounter fantastical interspecies paedophilia or sadist murder in the medium of short story? To describe it as a bonding experience is apt; the discomfort was palpable throughout the lecture hall that day. First came the awkward silence and shifty glances, followed by second-guessing and audible disgust. Accordingly, at the time of publication, a great number of readers would dismiss The Bloody Chamber as scandalous smut for the deviant and block Carter from their minds. I am confident that many in the lecture hall that day did just that, but dig past the surface and you will find such a complex web of sex, social constructs and femininity that you must pause to give Carter’s work the respect it deserves.

As previously stated, The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter’s most famous and widely read work – is a fantastical re-working of familiar fairy tales. Often wrongly they are branded solely as feminist fiction with an ‘adult’ twist (as the American edition once wrongly described), and whilst there are many markings that dictate it to be so, to presume it as Carter’s primary aim is uncouth. She has never (to my own knowledge) declared her intention as intrinsically feminist, but rather to subvert the societal conformities of gender that are reinforced time and again in fairy tale narrative – we all remember the character functions of the princess as a reward, the damsel in distress, the object. Yet female sexual empowerment and ownership permeates its pages.

Read the rest of the article over on ZUSTERSCHAP!

Why girls need Hayley Williams’ Kiss Off ♥

Blog Posts, Opinion February 13, 2016

Originally published in April 2015 on my former blog (now Kayleigh Watson Illustration) and still available to read in full.

So finally, it’s happened.

At the end of last month, Hayley Williams – of Paramore fame – debuted a new beauty show called KISS OFF (cue the eye rolls of many). The first episode of the vlog aired on POPULAR TV, the latest outing of former NYLON founding editor, Marvin Scott Jarrett. You’d be forgiven for not having heard of the site as it only launched at the beginning of March, but if you were – at some point – a NYLON disciple, then there is much for you to enjoy there.

You can watch the first episode of Kiss Off here.

Taking stock from cult classics, Williams and long-time collaborator Brian O’Connor create a look influenced by Diane Lane’s character Corinne Burns in the 1982 film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous StainsThis is, perhaps, one of the most encouraging aspects of this series; these days, youth are so obsessed with the fickle nature of social media and voyeurism in the present moment that any incentive that sparks the desire to delve deeper into the culture of yesteryear can only be considered a good thing. What starts with The Fabulous Stains may lead to other cult films like The Breakfast ClubHeathersCluelessThis Is Spinal TapGhost World or even Rocky Horror – all nostalgic, all a bit satirical, and all raising questions about identity.

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On bullies, doppelgängers and intellectual property: The Natalia Kills & Willy Moon Debacle.

Blog Posts, Opinion February 11, 2016

Originally published in March 2015 on my former blog (now Kayleigh Watson Illustration) and still available to read in full.

Odds are, prior to last weekend, that you had ever heard of Natalia Kills or Willy Moon. Perhaps you are even breaking that abstinence with this very article. Unfortunately, now you will, and I say ‘unfortunately’ because – quite frankly – shit sticks, and it would be exceedingly surprising if either of the pair managed to salvage what is left of their music careers after their performance last weekend on New Zealand’s edition of The X Factor.

If you can, firstly, escape the horror of the thought of The X Factor affliction having rooted itself into the southern hemisphere, then take a second to watch the video below, whereby following a performance by contestant Joe Irvine, Kills and Moon offer their “constructive criticism”.

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Vlogger expansion (and why it’s wrong to tear down Zoella)..

Blog Posts, Opinion February 11, 2016

The full post was originally published in December 2014 on my former blog (now Kayleigh Watson Illustration) and is still available to read in full.

It is December 2014, and if you hadn’t encountered vlogger phenomenon at the beginning of the year, then you have most likely stumbled upon it by now, whether you realise it or not. 2014 has seen the YouTuber troupe move from niche conventions and PR events to infiltrating radio, TV and even red carpets. Ever heard Dan and Phil on Radio 1? They used to be known as Danisnotonfire and Amazing Phil, and hail more than 6.3million YouTube channel subscribers between them. The likes of Tanya Burr have released capsule collections of cosmetics, Lauren Luke of Pixiwoo has launched brushes, whilst others such as Alfie Deyes have released books.

At the forefront of everything though, is YouTube queen Zoella. Real name Zoe Sugg, Zoella has been active on YouTube since 2009 and has spent the past 5 years building up an audience of approximately 6.8 million between her channel and her blog, which – in anyone’s opinion – is pretty crazy. Children and teenagers all know her face thanks to laptops and iPads, and events which she attends holler with cries of her name. It is everything a budding X-Factor contestant could ever wish for, but how has Zoella ever managed to garner such? The answer is deceivingly simple. All she ever did, was be herself.

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What You Should Probably Know About Your App Data, But Probably Don’t

Articles, Content Writing, Features, Opinion October 26, 2014

Originally published and still available on Dataconomy (14/10/14).

Can you imagine a world without smartphones? In this day and age, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. One of the reasons for this is how profoundly we rely on apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name but a few. These apps connect us with friends, family or even strangers, be they across the globe or around the corner via a variety of novelty mediums.

To tap into such services, users must first sign up. The pesky asterisk deems your full name, email, date of birth as compulsory information, but also often gender, a ZIP/postal code, address, phone number and – if you are using a subscription service – bank card details. This is easily enough information to create a sketchy profile on any individual –  and that is before you start using their service. When that begins, you will be, whether you realise it or not, voluntarily offering the company snippets into your day to day life, primarily intended for people you actually know.

Facebook is a prime example; as a website and app that boasts approximately 1.28bn users (as of June 2014), it has developed from an idea into a corporate giant. Of that total, 802 million people log into Facebook daily with 556m accessing Facebook via their smartphone or tablet and 189m of those being “mobile only” users. Every 60 seconds, 510 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated and 136,000 photos are uploaded.

Interestingly, however, each time you log into Facebook, share content, or publish a Tweet, the information you offer is being processed, logged and recorded. How do you think “Trending Topics” are created, or recommendations on who to follow next are so accurate?  Such information reveals what users find popular (or unpopular), and – as most free apps are fuelled by advertising – offers you similar content in an attempt to urge you to part from the cash in your wallet.

Read the rest of this article over on Dataconomy.

Read more of my Dataconomy articles here.