You Need To Watch Obvious Child, I Mean It

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OMG YOU GUYS.

I saw Obvious Child last night at the BFI and it was so very amazing. I will try my very hardest to do it justice in this blog post – but it might be tricky – it was just so good. Here’s the embarrassing bit: I actually sobbed a bit in the middle of it, not out of prompted sadness, but because I was so relieved to be watching something that spoke so honestly to me (and other 20 somethings in the audience I’m sure). It’s like when a mate gives you really good advice and you well up and hug them. I want to hug Jenny Slate and be mates and stuff.

Since GIRLS exploded onto the scene nothing else really moved or inspired me in terms of women talking about ACTUAL IRL THINGS on the big screen – plus having a cool, down-to-earth, fun-loving females taking back control of the script. PHEW, basically. It was interesting in the Q&A most of the comments included a “thank you” to the cast and the director. Thank you for making the film. THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF ALL 20-SOMETHING WOMEN TRYING TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN COMEDY. (Ooooooh, an oxy-moron.)

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With all of the press surrounding women, female comedians, the tokenistic decision of just sticking “one woman” quota on every TV comedy panel, films like Obvious Child are so so important. They are like diamonds in the rough, needing to shine through all of the stereotypical bullshit and Hollywood “blockbusters” that cater to old-fashion rituals and ideals. The girls in this film chat to each other on the loo, having embarrassing sex moments, snuggle their best mates in bed, drink a bottle of vin rouge to themselves. Just like all the girls I know, basically.

Obvious Child isn’t just a film that was made for the fun of it (maybe that too)– but it was a film that actually needed to be made. A comedy about abortion, you say? How many films can you say that about?? I feel like if my grand-children watched it in how-ever-many-years-time I’d be able to explain to them all of the struggles of being a woman in this millenium that often seem too mundane to talk about seriously. But all of those struggles are proper things that need to be discussed and not trivialized, or glamourized. It’s hard out here for a bitch.

So here are some of the reasons I cried with happiness during the film:

  • It focuses on the experiences surrounding abortion (but not just the abortion): Abortion is a thread woven throughout the film’s narrative. It’s not like you sit down and it’s like “BOOM. ABORTION” right in your face. It’s about a twenty somethings life, career, love-life, family, friends – with the fact that she gets accidently pregnant. It’s so touching and real and I think everyone in the cinema – male or female – could relate to the variation of emotions on display.
  • It all started as a short film in 2009, filmed on weekends: THIS INSPIRED ME LOADS! Five years ago, Gillian Robespierre wrote the script and made it as a 23 minute short – they all had other full-time jobs (you know the drill) and worked on it in weekends. They then used Kickstarter to help fund the full feature. WE CAN DO ANYTHING.
  • The girls are hilarious IRL: The Q&A after the film was amazing. Gillian and Jenny were so so funny off camera. Sometimes this is a scary expectation when comedians have to be SUPER LOLS in real life. They weren’t try-hard though, they were just naturally very very funny women. Confident. Snarky. Rude. I want to go to the pub with them every night, forever.
  • The stand-up comedy in the film IS REALLY GOOD: Jenny Slate, the comedian/actor that plays Donna, is really good at being on stage doing jokes. Now don’t grill me on this but sometimes I don’t find female comedians funny. Just like I don’t find all men so I’m not being a dick. I just haven’t identified with many female stand-ups yet. And to be fair many thats because I haven’t discovered enough. I found her really hilarious, confident, not too try hard. Just straight up funny.
  • It has elements of classic rom-com: Like Notting Hill and Love Actually it caters to the gushy heart-warming bits that make you want to hug a teddy bear. Yes it’s technically an indie film but I loved the fact that they included some classic “romantic comedy” techniques. Like the “bumping into each other on the street” that we’ve seen in so many other rom-coms. It was the perfect mixture. 
  • It’s raw and well-produced: This is a proper feature film with budgets and famous actors and what have you. But when you’re watching it you feel like you’re just watching some mates just live their lives rolling around NYC. I like this quote from Jenny that sums up how relatable this film is:  “I liked Knocked Up a lot, and I liked Juno and Waitress. But they are the reason why we made this movie as a reaction. I enjoyed watching them, but it didn’t ring true to me.”
  • There was the cutest bits of improvisation: Although Gillian said the script was rather tight, they said there were bits of improv that gave that extra something to it. With Max’s character, his comedy shone through on bits of the dialogue that I don’t think would have worked it is was completely scripted. “You’re really hittin’ that bread”.
  • She has a job in the film! Omg you guys, someone in a film with a job! I have this thing where I always look to see in a movie if the characters have a) an actual job b) you actually seem like doing the job. I know it’s not overly “cinematic” to watch someone doing shitty paperwork but to me it makes me more realistic that they’re people and we’re watching their lives. She has a job at a bookshop that helps her pay her rent. It makes me like her character more – and believe in her more.
  • Gabby FRICKING. HOFFMAN: Gabby! GABBY! GABBBBBY. She was so good in this. There’s a bit where she rants and raves about feminism in a very VERY humorous yet scary way.
  • The men weren’t stereotyped: The main character could have been extreme in one way or another, or douche who didn’t give a shit about her – or shallow – or just floated in and out. But he wasn’t. He was just a really cool and nice guy.

OH I LOVED THIS FILM SO MUCH. Alright, alright I know. I need to get a room.

PAY GAP. WTF.

I only write on this blog when I’m a) ecstatically impassioned  b) quite ANGRY.

Today, I’m angry. I didn’t intend to be. I was actually in a lovely mood when I woke up this morning, apart from being a little bit under the weather. I know I’m not supposed to feed the troll, or give any idiots any air-time or limelight, but today on Twitter I could not ignore certain tweets from Katie Hopkins account – in particular her points of view on the gender pay gap is baffling, and to be honest quite soul-destorying. Especially coming from a female voice. She has made a case for why women “should be” paid less then men. It’s utterly mind-blowing considering all of the steps we are all trying to make to get rid of the old stereotypes and out-of-date points of view. People should be paid more or less depending on the job at hand, not the gender. Never the gender. It’s like someone getting paid more for having blonde hair. It’s totally disgusting and only good for the person who is benefiting. Shit and unfair for everyone else.

To be honest the pay gap issue is still a weird piece of information to me. I never knew it was such an issue. I feel silly for being an optimist – but maybe it’s just naivety. I’m twenty five and love my career. I’m up for me and my female colleagues to succeed in every way possible, for every possible reason. We do really cool shit. Our jobs are quite unique but I know for a fact that when I worked at a big agency I was definitely getting paid less than my male counterparts. Maybe I didn’t “ask” or be “pushy” but why is that always the answer? That women need to be more pushy? Why can’t we all just get paid the same for the job we do? And be paid on capability and attitude and results, not whether we have a penis or not?

I went to a feminist school, we were told we could do anything. We could successful. Of COURSE we could be as successful as men. Everyone was equal in our teenage eyes and so we could definitely gets men’s jobs, men could have our jobs – in simple terms it was just “may the best human being win” type thing.

Recently, the pay-gap chat is back up and running. Everyone is talking about it. And thank goodness for that. Except – all talk and no action is often worse than no talk at all. Don’t get us pumped up without any sort of action plan. In this day and age, it simply DOES NOT MAKE SENSE for women to earn less. Women and men alike work extremely hard, with households splitting the housework more and more. We are not of our grandparent’s generation. We do not quit our jobs to have our husband’s dinner on the table at 6pm. Sometimes we might, and they may do the same for us. It’s a two- way street and yet we appear to still be getting punished for hundreds of years of tradition. It’s like all grey-suited men have been classical conditioned to just get more cash. OH A GREY SUIT! Please, open your pockets! 

The whole “having a baby” thing is pretty much what fired me up today. Katie Hopkins, the professional troll, basically said that as a employer she doesn’t want anything to do with paying for maternity leave. She spitefully tweeted today: “You want a baby. Super! Good for you. However, as your employer I have no wish to pay for that decision.” Talk about being stabbed in the back by a fellow woman! It’s almost worse hearing this come out of a working woman – someone that I’m sure doesn’t have any career admirers, but at least she’s a woman out there fighting for her work, even if she is a hypocrite with two children.

We need to stop with the women (baby-makers) vs men (not baby-makers) chat. Men wouldn’t even exist if women didn’t give birth to them, we probably should work together to make sure the human race doesn’t die out, right? So we shouldn’t punish working women just for having a few months out for having a baby. Employees and recruiters should NOT judge a woman based on her fertility or whether she’s ‘engaged’ or ‘thinking about kids’. We should help and support women who choose to have babies while at the same time totally respecting her career. If all women chose to not have babies because employers want to cripple them, then what will happen to the world? People like Katie Hopkins can go back to the stone-age. Equal pay and opportunity is VERY possible – we just need to get rid of all the boring boring laziness of people who are making these decisions. 

Please sign the Grazia Equal Pay Gap petition.

Is social media killing some of life’s magic?

We’ve been saying it for years, but really: things are changing around here. 

As individuals and as businesses, the digital world is growing exponentially and we’re continually chasing after it, like a carrot on a stick, hardly taking time to reflect on what’s happening around us. It’s a game in which we turn on our computers each morning to robotically participate in whatever the Internet throws at us, no questions asked. Every day is a new social playground, and let’s be honest here, it’s getting slightly exhausting. In the important words of Miley Cyrus: “we can’t stop. And we won’t stop.”

So I am going to have a reflective moment for once. I’ve been working in the “social media” arena for for 4 years now, and even 4 years ago it was all pretty baffling. It was novelty to launch a Facebook page for a brand, or to tweet a celebrity, or to post some photos to Facebook. We were excited, engaged, still living life to the full but totally loving the opportunity to connect with our pals and share our personal stories with the world. I always knew I wanted to work in the magazine world. Except, the magazines weren’t ready four years ago to hire a social media person – it didn’t really exist – I remember emailing a favourite magazine of mine and said “I want to sort out your social media. I want to create engaging things for your readers and echo your magazines values on the Internet”. I got a reply from the editor, saying it was a nice idea and all, but they weren’t ready for it. So I continued to work for brands (P&G, then Unilever for the likes of Dove, TONI&GUY, Diageo). I enjoyed it but I was still holding out for the magazine world to get with it. Four years after I sent that email, I got the job at a magazine (not the same one, but still), managing the social media. I was waiting for the eruption and it seemed to happen all at once, with a hundred things needing doing, launching, creating, developing. it’s an exciting (and scary) time to be in the industry. 

Now, in 2014, with “social media jobs” increasing “8 fold” (that’s 854% apparently), it is all around us. We are swimming it in. We are literally being hit over the head with a digital frying pan, every day and every night. Somethings got to give. Everyone wants a piece. 

The funny thing is, that as a generation, we are not passive in all of this. We are totally aware of what’s happening around us. If anything, we can see the flaws, because we are addicted to it but in a way that we don’t think is cool; we want digital downtime, we just don’t really know how. Only this morning, I was reading an interview in I-D magazine with Tyler who said “you know what sucks about everybody my age? Fucking social media. All these people only do shit so they can get likes or retweets or reblogs on Tumblr, all these kids are simple minded followers”. 

And he’s right, I thought. I wondered also if that is why we felt a deep deep sadness for Robin William’s death this week. He reminds us of a cooler, more old-school era of film, the iconic moments, the era of true talent, without Internet memes, viral blogs, or wanting retweets in return for money. That is why it was also totally heartbreaking to hear today that his daughter Zelda had to leave her social media channels because she was getting trolled by people on Twitter. Is raises the question: what the fuck is going on? When did the Internet get so messy, and when did people think that they could act like such lunatics online? This made me feel negative towards this new digital era too. That would never have happened ten years ago. People had more privacy. We would have simply mourned in the pub and gone home and watched Good Will Hunting, read the papers, written things down, and cried over a glass of wine instead of tweeting it.

I watched Annie Hall at the the Summer Screen event at Somerset House last night. A rom-com made in 1977 with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Even then I found myself thinking how beautiful it all was. No phones. There’s a scene in which Annie’s character calls Alvy on his landline, because there’s a spider in the bathroom and she wants him to come and get rid of it. This, of course, is code for “I’m worried you have another woman over so I’m going to make up an excuse to see you”. Either way, it’s romantic and silly and lovely. There’s no Tinder, no texting, no tweeting. It’s just some really raw communication between the two of them, that probably made the whole millennial audience rather nostalgic for the old days. 

Is it time we genuinely took a step back, and trying to regain some magic?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Some words on the comic genius Robin Williams

How is it possible that the funny genie from Aladdin could ever feel depressed? How can cuddly a Mrs Doubtfire, who always saves the day with a cup of tea, along with her dulcet tones, ever be suicidal? How can Peter Pan in Hook, the fictional forever-teen who saves the day not be so young and spritely still? And how: as one of my favourite movies-that-hardly-anyone knows The Bicentennial Man, not live until two hundred, just like in the movies?

And yet here we are, mourning the loss of a true comic legend. The real man behind all of these iconic characters: Robin Williams. We are scratching our heads as we realise we did not know him, or anything really about his life at all – or his illness. It has transpired that Williams suffered with depression. Something that we so sadly learn has no boundaries – as someone tweeted this morning “Money, fame, artistic freedom- none of it is a barrier.” In sad times like these we are faced with depression as a real, tangible menace, which is not the same as “feeling a bit sad” here and there. Depression kills people. Amazing people.

His death marks the end of an era. Especially for us 90’s kids growing up. We all watched his films. There is no one else like him. He was totally bonkers, and I’m sat here re-watching clips of him on Who Line Is It Anyway, and his Oscar acceptance speech in 1998, but as a lowly viewer of his comedy all I am doing is selfishly reminiscing his career to cheer myself up. He brought joy to everyone who watched his films. He had the most amazing talent for making people cry with his touching acting, like in Dead Poet’s Society, or the emotional finale in Mrs Doubtfire. But he also made people cry with laughter. Do you remember how funny he was in Flubber? That film was oh so weird, and he made it wonderful. I think I must have about watched it 50 times as a kid on rainy Sundays.

It is ironic to think the majority of people soothed the news of his death this morning by watching his own funny material. His stand-up shows will live forever online and thanks to that, his spirit will never fade. You only have to see the camera as in it zooms in on the audience who can’t breathe at his humour – his amazing array of different voices, which appear so effortless to him. It would literally come out of him like he’d been possessed with a funny bug. For us, the members of the general public, we can buy box sets and re-watch films and pretend he didn’t die and that nothing outside the film is real. We can kid ourselves with believing nothing was wrong. But something was deeply wrong – and his family on the other hand, will feel this loss completely – in real life, in 3D, in this world where nothing is ever perfect.

No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, or the true feelings behind big personalities, or the real life behind the camera, or what the jokes are covering up. Death is always sad of course but this news has even darker undercurrents in that Williams may or maybe not have committed suicide. He was battling with depression and it has been said that he was going through a series of 12 stages to try and break through to the other side. It’s this information that jars with us. It jars because on the shiny screen we see no flaws, only humour, only characters, only laughs, funny costumes and love.

This conversation is not a new one. We’ve seen actors, singers, friends, anyone – suffer. It’s an illness, just like any other horrible illness; mental or physical. Unfortunately it’s still coated in shame. It’s often invisible to see. And it often gets to the best people. The people that ironically bring the most joy to the world.

Today is a sadder day that yesterday.  It won’t stop us from endlessly enjoying Robin William’s movies, or laughing at the memories of his stand-up comedy, soundbites, cameos or his amazing overall contribution to the industry. But it does make us think twice about the fact that even the funniest, most outgoing people have personal demons. We all do, but it’s just that some overtake more than others and there’s nothing anyone can do to predict it. To echo what everyone has been saying on Twitter: we must urge anyone who feels this deep sadness to seek advice. You are not alone. There are people to help you. We have to keep talking about this.

 

Token conversations about marriage and babies

What I didn’t realise, upon hitting 25, was that almost immediately the conversations over coffee or dinner tables would change quite significantly. And I’m not talking about intruding family members (in fact they are the opposite) it’s friends and acquaintances who can’t help but casually encourage you to forward-plan over a cup of green tea. It’s like Tourette’s. We just can’t seem to help ourselves. We innocently meet up to talk about the weather, the last book we read, or the colour of our nail varnish and suddenly, quickly, we’re on the topic of nappies and imaginary weddings. It’s the 25-year-old equivalent of when we used to talk about getting a job while at school. We were here, and that stuff was over there. It was something both exciting and rather repugnant at the same time.

I already knew to be prepared for the “slowing down of the metabolism”, or “the hangovers that were only going to get worse, especially on red wine”, or the fact that you can’t really get away with being a silly inept youngster because, “no offence, 25 isn’t that young anymore”. (And yet I still hold my breath every year hoping that it is not the final year getting a stocking from “Santa”).

What they didn’t prepare me enough for, was that almost suddenly starts talking about previously banned words: such as babies and marriage. These two words, once filled with dread, fear and shudders now become actual springboards for light conversation. It’s almost text-book. I can’t tell if anyone wants to talk about that stuff, or we just feel we should, but between the obligatory “how’s work” question in which your friends ask politely but their eyes equally glaze over with minimal interest, it’s the inevitable commentary on how “we’re not far off thirty, you know”.

At 25, we are all speaking hypothetically. At least me and my group of good friends. We’re not really that worried about it all, it just seems like “the thing to do” – to discuss things in minute detail even though what we decide that will probably change a hundred times before they are the real deal.

Here are some of the sound-bites of these ridiculous, hypothetical discussions:

“I’ll definitely buy my wedding dress of Stone Cold Fox. £8,000 on a piece of flimsy fabric is doable, by the time it comes around.”

(Let’s hope it’s still in stock then)

“Of course I’m going to have a wedding. Big party innit. F*ck getting married, though. That is so lame.”

(Because there is a genuine difference between the two, btw).

“Don’t wear white babe, it’s basically you saying “I’m a slave to the system.'”

(We are Generation Rebellion.)

“Spending £20,000 on ONE NIGHT? In which you get so drunk that you don’t remember you’re own name? Would rather going on the gap yah I never had.”

(That’s also a deposit on a house that we are constantly told as a generation we will never ever get).

“Yeah I want a baby. I just don’t want it to follow me around, though.”

(Lol).

“You get paid loads of money for maternity leave right? Is it so you can buy new maternity clothes?”

(HA HA HA HA. Oh we are so screwed.)

“Do you think I should get pregnant just so I can write a brilliant book like Bryony Gordon?”

(I like this idea a lot).

“Would you still come to my wedding if we got married in our comfies?”

(#WedFest)

“What if there’s no WIFI at the wedding?”

(Horror)

“Guys what if I put my engagement pic image on Facebook and it only got like two likes?”

(No really – genuine fear)

“I wonder if Instagram will bring out a ‘wedding filter’ before we get married. To make us all look like goddesses when we’re drunk.”

(Instagram HQ – looking at you)

So in conclusion, as you can see from all of these above quotes – it’s all a big joke still. We don’t have a clue. But with pretty much all things, it’s more fun to talk about things when you’re half making it all up.