Urban Society Round Up #2

Well, this has been a mental two weeks. I think the phrase ‘thrown in the deep end’ has never applied quite so literally to my life (apart from the time I was actually thrown in the deep end of the community pool, but whatever. I forgave my brother.) One week after starting this new job, I found out my Managing Editor was away on annual leave for a week. Cue panic attacks, stress, and a general feeling of ‘holy-hell-I’m-not-cut-out-for-this’. But, you know, I survived. And it gets easier. And I got to write some things along the way!

I got a little political over the last two weeks. You may have head that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has decided to no longer allow any refugees arriving by boat into Australia, but rather to deport them to Papua New Guinea. (If you’re Australian, take that with a heavy dose of irony. If you’re not, welcome to the xenophobic swing of Australian politics.) I – like many Australians – think this is an all round disgusting and simplistic measure, and so I quite enjoyed writing about a refugee who tried to pay back the government $18,000. Note: he originally sought – and was granted – political asylum in Greece, before coming to Australia legally. On the other side of the world, UK Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to ban porn on the internet. To put it less simplistically, he wants to implement an ‘opt-out’ family-friendly filter, as well as crack down on child porn, extremely violent porn and simulated rape. His heart’s in the right place, but is this really the best method? Plus, as one 21-year-old UK commenter pointed out, young people everywhere have to embarrassingly ask their parents to turn on the porn. Awkies.

bans porn

Then we get to the shock value posts (because it’s all about the clicks, people). I came in early especially to write about Rolling Stone putting the Boston Bomber on the front cover, because a) I was so fired up about it, and b) I wanted to do the thing properly. For a uni assignment I researched the general media-wide cock-up that was the Boston Bombings, so I a bit of what I was talking about (and I like to talk smart sometimes). Then there was the barrel-of-laughs wedding that ended in a family-wide brawl, that caused more than one commenter to reference ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’.  And here is a video (and accompanying words, but mostly the video) of why it is very important not to do things like stick your head in a crocodile’s mouth. Sadly, I also wrote about a baby that was stabbed 90 times by his mother (warning: graphic images). As awful as this was, I wanted to talk about mental illness and post-natal depression, because a mentally sane person simply does not stab their baby. I knew this would attract comments such as “don’t stigmatise mental illness like that” (which it did), but I also thought that for every outraged person, there would be a mother nodding along thinking of the times they’d wanted to throw their baby out the window because it didn’t stop crying.

And so we get to the uplifting part of this tale! Here, watch Zach Braff help a man propose to his girlfriend, or read about the social media that only allows images of happy things, whether great or small.

Of course, there’s a bit of celebrity gossip along the way. Every morning we do a post called ‘Hot Mess Threesome’, which is some kind of celebrity scandal, gossip, or just plain funny news. It’s good practise in ‘how to be a funny writer’, which isn’t one of my strong suits. What do you think of these little ditties?

  • Hugh Jackman ‘admits’ to wearing Wolverine suit in the bedroom [link]
  • Michelle Bridges and the Commando split up [link]
  • Kochy tries to skateboard and breaks his co-host’s ankle [link]
  • A reporter draws a massive penis on live TV [link]
  • Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spend almost a mill on gold-plated toilets [link]
  • Kelly Rowland became an actual ‘survivor’ and had to get rescued while at sea [link]
  • The View come to the defence of butt sex [link]

And, of course, we wrote about the Royal Baby. I still can’t believe they went with George.

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Urban Society Roundup #1

So here’s a bit of news: I’m the new Deputy Editor at Urban Society! Or, as my email signatures reads, a ‘Well-Worded Woman’.

No longer an intern, I actually get to manage our interns. I want to say to them “I’ve been where you are! It gets better!” but for now will keep my mouth shut (unless of course they stumble onto this blog.) I feel frantic enough in my new role without worrying that hungry vulture-like interns are circling my job, waiting for a sign of weakness.

The best part is that I get to write something every day. It may not be the most thought-provoking piece you’ve ever read, but it’s fun. I’m officially paid to write. I saw the money go into my bank account on Friday and felt giddy with all the dollars.

I also spend my days doing a lot of things that are not writing: editing everybody else’s posts (which, if they’re an inexperienced writer, can take a long long time), sourcing content, scheduling posts, uploading everything to Facebook and liaising with what seems to be half the PR people in Sydney. I’d happily be content sitting in a little bubble for eight hours writing whatever I felt like, but that doesn’t pay the bills unless you are J. K. Rowling a total genius.

The point isn’t that I’m a struggling twenty-something wannabe creative. The point is THAT I’M GETTING PAID. MY PARENTS NO LONGER DISPAIR. I CAN AFFORD TO FILL UP THE CAR WHEN I BORROW IT.

I bought two (two!) ridiculously overpriced cocktails on Saturday, just because I could. And a kebab later in the evening, but that was mostly because I shouldn’t.

I’ve decided to do a weekly roundup where I post up the bits and bobs I’ve written for Urban Society, in case you feel like a looksie. For those who don’t know (and if you don’t live in Sydney, I’ll wager that you don’t know), Urban Society is a young person’s website with pop-culture, local eateries, a what’s on of Sydney, a little bit of travel, and the occassional news piece. It’s a little bit of everything, all rolled into one. (I’M A BITCH, I’M A LOVER… yeah.)

So here we go:

1 Forever Alone

Urban Society Roundup #1

World’s First Forever Alone Restaurant – This actually looks pretty good. (Check out the image above.)

Patient opens her eyes moments before organ donation – Chilling.

Rebecca Black covers Miley Cyrus’ ‘We Can’t Stop’ – Woah, Rebecca Black can actually sing now?

Daft Punk releases ‘Get Lucky’ condoms – Too. Many. Puns.

Are we taking Instagram selfies too far? – This was actually a hard one to write. It was in response to a Sydney Morning Herald article by a 17-year-old girl, who I thought wrote brilliantly. Everything she said was true and perfectly articulated, yet quite possibly not realised by SMH’s core audience. If I had written the article for me, it would have been called “Every 17 year old girl should look up to this one because she’s got her head straight and is wise beyond her years.” But you have to present a fair and accurate viewpoint, after all.

Gay marriage ad under fire for ‘sexualisation of children’ – I would have called this one ‘Fuck yeah, Queensland’.

Daft punk

 

The top 10 Aussie celebs to follow on Instagram

Sometimes we all need a little pick me up, and sometimes that involves stalking scrolling though a celebrity Instagram feed. It’s addictive. They invite us in and offer us snippets of a Charmed Life, one well away from student loans, dirty dishes and that feeling that you really ought to go to the gym.

For your viewing pleasure, here are the top 10 Australian celebrities to follow on Instagram. Warning: gratuitous selfies abound, people, but what would an Instagram feed be without them?

You’re not even reading this, are you? You’ve jumped straight to Miranda Kerr’s face – she’s just that damn beautiful, folks.

1. Miranda Kerr

Miranda KerrFollowers: 1, 831, 524

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Family Time
Editorial
Behind-the-Scenes Photo Shoots
Insta-Arty Shots
Inspirational Quotes

2. Jennifer Hawkins

Jennifer HawkinsInstagram Followers: 241, 865

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Wedding Shots
Aren’t-You-Jealous-Of-My-Holiday
Inspirational Quotes
Doing Sydney Media-Type-Stuff

3. Kylie Minogue

Kylie MinogueInstagram Followers: 218, 715

What you will get:
Professional Shoots
Promotions For New Release ‘Skirt’
Insta-Artsy Shots
Passion For Fashion

4. Lara Bingle

Lara BingleInstagram Followers: 216, 530

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Beach Life
Magazine Editorial
Insta-Artsy Shots
Passion For Fashion
Inspirational Quotes

5. Samara Weaving

Samara WeavingInstagram Followers: 117, 481

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Beach Life
Hanging With Friends
Insta-Arty Shots

6. Isabelle Cornish

Isabelle CornishInstagram Followers: 106, 158

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Passion for Fashion
Hanging With Friends
Insta-Arty Shots
Yummy Food

7. Jessica Hart

Jessica HartInstagram Followers: 101, 834

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Hanging With Friends
Behind The Scenes Photo Shoots
Adventure

8. Ruby Rose

Ruby RoseInstagram Followers: 96, 804

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Hanging With Friends
Inspirational Quotes
Funny Shit
Cute Animals

9. Stephanie Rice

Stephanie RiceInstagram Followers: 83, 036

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Hanging With Friends
Inspirational Quotes
Editorial
Just Keep Swimming

10. Delta Goodrem

Delta GoodremInstagram Followers: 73, 899

What you will get:
Gratuitous Selfies
Hanging With Friends
Behind the Scenes (The Voice)
Editorial
Doing Sydney Media-Type Events

What’s in a name? Everything. Kate and Wills, please name your future baby Alexandra.

Kate and Will

So. Alexandra is the odds-on favourite name for the imminent royal baby. It’s beaten royal classics like Charlotte, Diana, Victoria and Elizabeth to the number one spot.

Can I just say, I really, really hope Kate and Wills decide on Alexandra? You see, it’s the Queen’s middle name – but it’s also my own.

I’ve been an Alex most of my life, but I haven’t always been happy about it. While other girls got pretty names – like Emma, Claire, Rosie or Poppy – I was stuck with Alex. By the age of ten I’d lost count of how many people had said, “But that’s a boy’s name!” Combine it with an unusually masculine surname, and you’ve got a case of mistaken gender identity every time somebody meets me after learning my name.

I’ve toyed with changing it in the past. In Year 3, I made my entire school call me Jo. Yes, it was another boy’s name, but I’d just finished reading about a gypsy-girl called Jo in The Famous Five, okay? Jo was cool.

I moved to America the following year, and left Jo behind with Australia. To the American’s I was this strange English/Australian creature, and exotic enough that I didn’t need another name. I went back to being Alex, although I was never fully satisfied.

When I moved back to Australia four years later, I experimented with the more feminine sounding Lexi. That lasted approximately 30 minutes. Now, I’d love to be an Alexa, and take on my mother’s maiden name. It’s a far better name to say. (Is it weird if I tell you my mother’s maiden name? I’m not sure.  I won’t for now.) Alex Bruce-Smith is difficult on the tongue. My new name would roll right off it. It would be feminine and powerful. The perfect journalist name. As it is, I doubt I could ever be a radio journalist because my name is just too damn difficult to say.

The trouble is, Alex is powerful. Strong. Masculine. No one wants (or needs) to protect an Alex. Combine that with being taller than average and the eldest of three, and I’ve never gotten to be the young, cute one. And I really want to be the young cute one.

Pregnant KateBut let’s get back to Royal Baby Alexandra. (Look, I know we don’t know yet if it’s a boy or a girl, but for argument’s sake let’s go with it being a girl.)

It’s no secret that we go through waves of popularity with names. (Alexandra was the 13th most popular name in 1990 Australia, which explains why I’ve come up against so many in my life. I was once in an English class with six Alex’s and one Alexis.) And it’s no secret that celebrities and pop-culture have masses of influence when it comes to naming our children. There’s Bella and Jacob from Twilight, Arya and Khaleesi (yes, really) from Game of Thrones, and no doubt we can thank Poppy Delevingne, Sienna Miller and Chloe Sevigny for the rise in popularity of their first names.

And Kate Middleton has turned out to become the biggest trendsetter the world has ever seen. Every single item of clothing she’s been snapped in has sold out in seconds (with the added advantage that’s it’s mostly high street and therefore affordable). Even her blue engagement ring inspired fakes within days.

If Kate was to name her baby Alexandra? Thousands would follow. Literally, thousands. Her influence on the rest of the world is out of this world.

And if Alex became a popular girls name it would change people’s perception of it. All these cute little babies called Alex? People would start to go goo-gah at the name. Alex would forever be associated with a baby princess. (Actually, my parents supposedly named me after a Russian princess. But it’s not quite the same, is it.) The name would be more attractive. More feminine. More liked.

So Kate, if you could just go ahead and name your baby daughter Alexandra, that would be great. I’ll be celebrating with the other Alex’s of the world (we meet up once a month). And maybe one day, I won’t despise my own name so much.

Either that or I’ll legally change it to Poppy.

Photo Credits

William and Kate – eonline

Kate (polka dotted dress) – Pop Sugar

Short & Sweet // Feminist Taylor Swift

Feminist Taylor Swift

A Twitter account popped up four days ago that appropriates Taylor Swift lyrics and gives them a feminist message.

Yes. YES! This is why the internet was invented – to spread amazing ideas. And telling a whole generation of young girls that men and women are equals, only “yes” means consent and to stand up for what you believe in? Amazing.

The Twitter account already has 50,000 followers. And judging by the ridiculous amount of trending topics about Justin Beiber and One Direction, I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter is 5% celebrity, 3% businesses and 90% teenage girls.

(The other 2% is normal people like you and me. *cough cough*)

So maybe these teenage girls will start to get a taste of feminism young. When I was a teenager I thought feminism was all about butch lesbians in the 70s who didn’t shave their armpits. Like, gross.

Here’s a selection of the best ones:

T Swift 1T Swift 6T Swift 5T Swift 4T Swift 3T Swift 2

All I can say is, for the love of god KEEP THEM COMING! And also that whoever you are, love your work.

I wonder what T Swift thinks about it?

The Friend Zone, and why it needs to die NOW.

Ted MosbyRoss Geller and Rachel Green. Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Ted Mosby and Robin Scherbatsky.

What do the characters from Friends, Harry Potter and How I Met Your Mother have in common?

They’re all classic cases of a man in the friend zone.

The friend zone is the mythical place a woman puts a man she isn’t romantically interested in. The man wants a relationship, while the woman wants a friend. If dating were a sport, the friend zone is the bench. Your role is to watch and cheer while the other person scores (ooh-er). If you are a man who likes a woman who only wants friendship from you, then you have been friend-zoned.

Phew. Still with me?

Ross and Rachel were the ones who started the whole phenomenon. Way back in 1994, when Friends was in its first season, Ross was in love with Rachel. Rachel, of course, had no idea. In a rare moment of insight, Joey explained to Ross why he was never, ever going to get with Rachel.

 

Joey: It’s never going to happen.

Ross: What?

Joey: You and Rachel.

Ross: [flusters around in typical Ross-fashion] …. Why not?

Joey: Because you waited too long to make your move, and now you’re in ‘The Friend Zone’.

Ross: No no no, I’m not in the zone.

Joey: Ross, you’re mayor of the zone.

RossThe fashions of the mid nineties may not have stuck around (thank god. Have you seen Ross’s turtlenecks?) but the concept of the friend zone has. It’s been making brief appearances in pop culture, but really kicked up a notch in the last two years. In typical internet fashion, it went viral – and stayed around in our collective consciousness. Today not a reference goes by to a man and a woman being friends without the accompanying caption, “stuck in the friend zone.”

And you know what? I’m sick of it.

The idea of the friend zone is laced with bitterness. It basically implies three things:

  1. That men and women cannot be friends, as the man is always trying to get into her lady pants.
  2. Men deserve sex simply for being nice to a woman.
  3. Women are bitches who heartlessly keep men around to exploit their feelings, turning them into a useful male friend who will come round to fix things and deal with spiders.

It’s crap. The friendzone is complete crap. And we need to stop using it, like, yesterday. Let’s look at what it’s implying a little more closely.

1. Men and women cannot be friends, as the man is always trying to get into her lady pants.

8 out of 10 cats friendzone

You know what this means, right? Every single friendship you’ve ever had with a person of the opposite gender has been a lie. Yes, even the man you were able to fart in front of and ask why your date never called you back.

Lies, all lies!

It hasn’t been about your winning personality, or the fact that you can properly challenge them in Mario Kart, or that you once helped them move on a Saturday morning. It’s always been about them trying to trick you into bed with friendship.

Whoops. I should probably write a letter to every male friend I’ve ever had, apologise profusely for my behaviour, and then explain that as I don’t fancy them we should never see each other ever again.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I ask you this: who is deceiving who?

Is the lady deceiving the gentleman with false promises of romance… or is the gentleman deceiving the lady with false promises of friendship?

Trust me boys, if a girl is into you, you will know about it. We’re a lot less subtle than we like to think. If you don’t suspect we’re into you, then there’s a decent chance we only think of you as a friend. But really, who is the bad guy here? Are you only pretending to be our friend until such a time as we decide to bone you? I think that makes you the liar.

The solution of course is to only be friends with women, and keep men reserved for sexual things, but that would be eliminating 50 per cent of the population in what otherwise could have been a beautiful friendship.

2. Men deserve sex simply for being nice to a woman.

Wonka

We’ve seen this over and over again since childhood. Hero saves the world, then gets the girl. Think every Disney movie ever made (except Brave. You go Brave.) Think every action movie, every coming of age tale, every television show with the ‘will they, won’t they’ plotline. The male lead is good, attractive, brave, intelligent, and kind… but more importantly, he is nice. He’s not the jerk the girl originally goes for. He’s the nice guy she ends up with, once she’s realised that the jerk guy is a jerk and she should have been with the nice guy all along.

What does this say to boys? It says that if they are nice enough, they will get the girl. There’s nothing to prepare them for what happens if they’re as nice as they think they are, but the girl decides she wants to date someone else. Or not date anyone. Or just thinks he’s an awesome guy that she would like to spend time with, but doesn’t want to sleep with, thank you very much.

We all know how the couples I mentioned at the beginning of this article end up. (Several years old SPOILERS ALERT!) Ross and Rachel start dating, break up, argue about whether they were on a break, get married in Vegas, get divorced, and finally, after ten seasons, get it together. Ted only takes a year to convince Robin that he’s the one, and she only takes a year to realise that he isn’t. Snape and Lily never got together, but that could be a little more to do with the powers of evil and her falling for the good guy, rather than any effort on his part.

The friend zone is a hard place to leave, but pop culture teaches us that with time and persistance (and a lack of Dark Lords), it can be done. And everybody cheers when it happens.

Well, screw that. This theory basically implies that men are owed sex for being a decent human being. John Mix Meyer, a gaming writer, said it best when he tweeted: “Girls are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out.”

Well said, John. Whatever happened to being a decent human being because, you know, it’s the right thing to do? Besides, if you’re only being nice to a girl in order to get her to sleep with you, you might want to reevaluate how ‘nice’ you think you are.

3. Women are bitches who heartlessly keep men around to exploit their feelings, turning them into a useful male friend who will come round to fix things and deal with spiders.

Guys I'm not going to bang

There’s a phrase that does the internet rounds from time to time that explains this statement perfectly:

“Slut” is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say “yes.”

“Friend zone” is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say “no.”

We really can’t win. Either we’re a slut for sleeping with the multiple men we call friends, or we’re a bitch who friend zones every man we meet. There’s not a lot of wiggle room here. The only solutions are to stay away from the male population altogether, or get married quick smart and flash your wedding ring every chance you get.

In an ideal world, there would be no hurt feelings, no broken hearts, and no lost socks in the washing machine (sorry. That one just gets to me.) But this isn’t an ideal world – for starters, it’s populated with people. And people are, in general, nice. We want to hang out with other nice people and we definitely do not want to hurt someone’s feelings.

Telling someone, point blank, that you have no interest in them whatsoever? That’s cruel. That’s the stuff nightmares are made of. That’s the story we’ll tell our therapists in ten years time when we still haven’t gotten over it.

So we drop hints. We pull away when you pull in. We express interest in another guy, or hell – we might even be dating another guy. Gentleman, here you have two options: accept that you are always going to be ‘just friends’ and actually be a friend, or pull away. We’re not deceiving you into false friendship, and you shouldn’t be either.

And yes, if we’re friends and I’m home alone with a giant spider, I’ll probably call you while locked in my bathroom fearing for my life. But afterwards I’ll say thank you, and we’ll have a beer together – because we’re friends.

To every review of The Great Gatsby.

The-Great-Gatsby3

I’ve become addicted to reading reviews of The Great Gatsby. I’ve almost unconsciously followed every piece of media, every leaked photo, every interview with Baz Luhrman and finally, every review. This film… it’s been a few years coming.

And there’s one thing I’d like to say to all of these Gatsby reviewers: Can you please, for the love of all that is holy, just SHUT UP ALREADY.

If I read one more time that “Baz didn’t even read the book,” (he listened to it on audiobook), or that “the beauty of the book is in the prose and that just doesn’t translate well into film,” (duh) I will literally tear my hair out and then the paper in half.

Well done you. You made these very clever and original insights. Of course, tell me ALL about how the other The Great Gatsby films ‘failed’ or how much you loved the book. It’s not like I haven’t read it all before.

Cover ArtI’ve read that Luhrmann doesn’t have the subtlety of Fitzgerald. I’ve read that it is over the top, with in-your-face references to symbolism. I’ve read that the film being bookended by Nick Carraway’s recounting of this time period to a therapist is clunky, doesn’t work, and – more specifically – isn’t in the book. I’ve read that people take issue with the text that appears on screen, with the references to the green light, with Jordan Baker not getting enough screen time. I’ve read people literally tear apart every aspect of this film.

To those people, I ask you one thing: have you forgotten that the director is Baz Luhrman?

Baz of Moulin Rouge. Baz of Romeo + Juliet. Baz of Australia, of which I think I was one of only a few people in the world who enjoyed the film.

Baz is big. He’s over the top. This isn’t some other director only known for Hollywood blockbusters or period dramas. This is Baz Luhrmann, known for hyper-emotive, colourful, oddly paced yet busting with raw emotion films. Films that depict in the large-scale what we human beings feel at the core of our being.

James Franco got it right, when he wrote:

“The critics who’ve ravaged the film for not being loyal to the book are hypocrites. These people make their living doing readings and critiques of texts in order to generate theories of varying levels of competency, or simply to make a living. Luhrmann’s film is his reading and adaptation of a text—his critique, if you will. Would anyone object to a production of Hamlet in outer space? Not as much as they object to the Gatsby adaptation, apparentlyMaybe that’s because Gatsby is so much about a time and a place, while Shakespeare, in my mind, is more about universal ideas, ideals, and feelings. Luhrmann needed to breathe life into the ephemera and aura of the 20s and that’s just what he succeeded at.”

I saw the film, and guess what – I loved it. Not because it was an exact replica of a book I’d read and loved, but because it was fun.

It was like going to a glamorous party, which I’m sure is exactly what Luhrmann intended. The anticipation, the arrival, the first sip of champagne, the nods to old friends and the eavesdropping of strangers, the second glass, the realisation you’ve perhaps drunk too much. The retreat. The hangover. The sobering realisation.

The novel has such popularity that no movie could ever do it justice in the eyes of its fans. But Luhrmann didn’t forget them. There were nods after nods to the text – the original cover art was used as a billboard, the original text made up dialogue, even Nick Carraway recounting his experiences to the therapist had something of the book in him. After all, if someone needs to recount, why not give him someone to recount to? Nick even takes the place of Fitzgerald, penning the novel The Great Gatsby.

Yes, the film can be erratic, has euphoric highs and heart wrenching lows, is at times painfully obvious and at others surprisingly deep.

But you know who else was? Jay Gatsby. And what fun he was.

Gastby, Daisy and Tom

What did you think of the film? Have you seen it yet?