AFJ Reviews Secret Cinema Presents…. Back to the Future

Wednesday 12 August, 2015

Sometimes, there are good places to be in a wheelchair, and then there are bad places to be in a wheelchair.

Last year, for my birthday, me and my friend decided we’d do something Big. And so, we went to London for Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future event. When I first looked into access, I wasn’t actually all that convinced or thrilled. I had no official response from the official organisers for at least four days after my initial contact, and in the meantime my friend contacted them and was told that staff would double check, but by law they had to provide equal access to the event so they were 99.9% positive that they were fully accessible and would even have wheelchair accessible toilets available alongside normal ones (or a phrase to that affect).

I looked into reviews of Secret Cinema and got the feeling they were quite hit and miss on the access front, and disability awareness front, and catering for those affected with food allergies and intolerances front. One review said that the event itself was accessible, but interaction with staff led to disappointment overall and the event goers leaving early. I then got a reply by someone not-so official over facebook and was told that, whilst by law they were required to provide wheelchair access, due to the nature of the event they couldn’t ensure full wheelchair access, and some aspects of participation might not be as accessible, but the whole event took place on level (outside) ground and there would be disabled facilities on site.

Sceptical, but optimistic, I battled through two days of their ticket selling site DDOSing itself to buy the tickets. Then I booked the hotel, then the trains, and eventually bought the costume. It’s not that easy to buy 1950s costumewear when you’re my height, with my unequal proportions, and when you’re in a wheelchair with those things combined, so in the end I got a 1950s-style blouse and a vintage 1950s skirt, and red lipstick and nail varnish to complete the ensemble. Looking back, I think I’d have looked more the part in a zoot suite, but that’s looking back with 20/20 hindsight, and without my glasses everything is quite blurry. Anyway.

Two days After I bought the tickets, I received a message over facebook giving us more information than any other ticket purchasers had been told, so that I could plan accordingly regarding access. It was also repeated that, the grounds being used were open and flat, and that the majority of the event would be accessible, there just might be some issues with the participations. And there would be disabled toilets.

Over the course of the months, dribs and drabs of thematic information was given to people. The nature of Secret Cinema is that everything is secret up until you arrive at the location, unless it’s a Secret Cinema Presents event which is somehow slightly different and provides more information gearing up to the day. So we knew that it was Back to the Future based, we secretly knew where it was abouts, and both me and my friend were given themed identities (IDs!) and suggestions for costumes. One thing that was a hot topic for the event goers, though, was that we would not be allowed our phones on us during the event, nor would we be allowed to have cameras with us. They said that this was because they wanted the night to have as much authenticity to it as possible, but also they didn’t want spoilers reaching the outside world and anyone breaching copyright, or people spoiling other people’s night of fun, if they were taking pictures whilst other people were trying to watch the film or join in on the events.

I often find that when there’s more than one reason for something, there’s actually no real reason for it but don’t want to give anyone any room to argue with logic.

There was also some tensions on facebook that the only information given out to us actually was all “In-game”, so to speak, and it didn’t make much sense. At some point, though, it was suggested on Facebook by their spokespeople that there would be a minibus put on to run people with mobility problems from the meeting point to the doors of the event. I wasn’t too bothered, me and my electric wheelchair were good to go, but if it had the legally required wheelchair space with the legally required safety straps, and a lift was offered, I’d have taken it to save battery.

As time went on, organisers seemed more happier to share jokes and references to how secret this event was meant to be, than give any helpful information that the modern day journey planners actually needed. (Best hotel to stay at? How late does the tube run? Do we need to go in costume or can we change there? What if we need our phones on us incase of a family emergency?) And then, after some people still not being sure what to expect, the first day came… and the event was cancelled.

Due to some planning mishaps (Word around the net was that the organisers failed to get health and safety inspections done in time, which meant they didn’t have permission for all of us ticket holders to attend the event and there was no crowd control plans put into place; And then photographs emerged of organisers and volunteers spending that first night painting in zebra crossings, test driving the cars, and still putting the finishing touches on the scenery.) they announced at the 11th hour and 59th minute, by email to a bunch of people who were told to leave their phone at home, that the event had been cancelled. People arrived at the meeting point with no knowledge of any of this, to be told by organisers and volunteers waiting for them at the meeting point, that the event had been cancelled. People had spent a lot of money to attend this event, the tickets weren’t cheap and people had flown in by plane from far and wide to get there. They had booked hotel rooms. For two whole days, the organisers hadn’t even announced there would be refunds for the price of the ticket, they just suggested that people could re-book at no extra costs for days at the end of the month. As many people pointed out, time taken off from work and plane tickets didn’t work like that. I still don’t know if refunds were given or any compensation offered.

Following that, the first weeks of screenings were cancelled and it wasn’t given the go ahead until a week later on the 1st of August, 2014. That was the day me and my friend had tickets for. I was due to be part of one of my childhood favourite films: Back to the Future. I could hear the theme tune from the second I woke up that day!

Was I worried it would end in disaster for us like it had many other people? Yes! But I tried not to let it bother me as I travelled down to London.
I’ll skip through the boring parts and carry on from when we arrived at the meeting place.Once off the overhead railway, we were greeted by actors dressed in 1950s clothing, ushering and pointing us in the right direction. We were late, butwe hadn’t missed a damn thing. Because, despite scare mongering announcements that any latecomers might not be allowed in until an appropriate time, if at all, we were amongst many people who turned up “Late” and we were led into a long-arsed queue that tailed very far back that didn’t move for half an hour. Early goers were already in, but most people weren’t.

(OH! I’d like to take this moment to do a Special thank you to fellow event goers, one even from Liverpool, who lifted me and my wheelchair up onto the train when assistance failed to show up with a ramp, and another special thank you to the scottish men who assisted in lifting me back out again! You all made the night possible in my eyes.)

One part we were directed through involved a set of stairs by the Olympic Park (in the Olympic park? My sense of direction has never been the best, and a whole year has gone by since then). We’d bumped into some people waiting for the lift, one half of the couple was on crutchers, and whilst everyone else was just jollywell going up the steps and across to where we needed to go, we were just looking at them with confusion. Stairs? No alternate route set out? Between the four of us, we came to the conclusion that that might have been the point that the minibus was meant to meet those with mobility problems, but the half of the couple without crutches went up the steps and asked one of the direction agents (It’s a lot easier to say than ‘One of the people dressed up giving directions’) about it and he said he didn’t know about any mini bus. He also said that we needed to go around the long way.

Wonderful. The whole event takes place in a flat area, but there was no mention of either needing to take the stairs or having to walk the long way around. Whenever walking was mentioned, it was always with the vague “short walk” or “Five minute walk”, with no regard to the concept that disabled people or mobility impaired people might just walk a bit slower and might have walking limits. I’m just glad I was in an electric wheelchair and wasn’t still depending on crutchers, like the be-crutched friend we’d just met, her hands were sore by the time we got to the queue. I wouldn’t have been able to do all the walking we’d had to do so far, and then the standing in the queue on top, with all the walking around we would have had to do have done in the place. Once again, it’s proof that people really don’t think things through when they talk about disabled access and provisions.

Moving on to the event itself, once we were inside. A miracle of miracles!

    BttF5 (2)

The setting for the Hill Valley Square was amazing. It was like a dream come true. You know that music video by The Offspring, “Why Don’t You Get A Job”, where they parade across the Hill Valley Square? I, ridiculously, had the greatest urge to rally up some people to do that. I know, it doesn’t make sense when I could have acted out any scene in BttF instead!

I digress. Everyone there looked amazing. My friend looked absolutely gorgeous in her vintage style dress. She pulled out ALL of the stops. I don’t think I pulled off the 1950s well at all.

As for the event itself, I’d say “Mixed reviews”. Whilst I think they did rather well in nailing the design of the square, I really found many faults with the idea that this was an accessible event. There were huts dressed up to look like houses, and I couldn’t get in to see them, and I couldn’t see much from the doorway. There was an open house design that was meant to be The Doc’s garage, and whilst everyone was going in and having a look around, picking up and playing with props, I could barely lean over to get close to the things right at the front.

The IDs we were given were so we could have a go at role playing whilst we were there. I didn’t bother, mostly because it was a hassle to get the ID cards out and interact with a bunch of people who seemed to always group in a way that blocked paths and views, but also because the places were these ID games were based, were based in these pop up shops that also had no access. I mean, sure, I might have been able to flag down the actors inside the shops to have a go at playing the part of my ID, but… everyone else blocked the doorways and inside was crowded. I couldn’t compete with that.
Whilst walking around, we kept being offered, by the actors, to take part in the parade. Each ID card made you part of a group, and people of those groups could meet up with one of the leading actors and learn a part for the parade. There was a “High School Drama Teacher” who was going to put on an acting bit for the parade, the shop keeper my ID worked for was doing a part of the parade. There was the farmer and the mayor, etc. We could have gone along to any of these groups and become a part of the parade! But we didn’t bother for two reasons:- We didn’t want to risk missing anything going on around the school area and on the square, but also, I wasn’t in the mood to play Compromising Cripple. That is, pretending to be perfectly fine with only half joining in due to limitations being put on me (steps to get into these places, would there even be dance moves I could do, could I have even held one of the heavy props,would I have been given a line just out of pity?), and having half of the experience. I just wasn’t in the mood to be the odd one out.
I really want to assure everyone that I did have a very good night. I had a go at a goober brownie and I loved that! Although I did start feeling the cold by the end of the it and feeling a bit ill as a result, but the event in and of itself was fun! It was an experience. It could have been a better experience, but it was amazing to see. The way they spliced the actors acting in front of the film AS the film played on in the background was brilliant! The cars were brilliant. Seeing the Biff Vs Marty McFly chase across the square before the film even started was great! Dancing in the school hall was great!
There was just a few moments that weren’t great. And the next bit is one of them, and it’ll stay with me forever. I apologise in advance for the subject this surrounds.

Shortly after the film started, I needed to pee. Not to brag or anything, but I do have good “capacity”, but I also have a bit of nerve damage in my back. Sometimes certain factors will mean that first signs of needing to pee will be when I’m at “maximum capacity”, so to speak. I could have waited another twenty minutes to see which one it was, but I was worried that I’d miss better things later on, if nearer the end of the film was the point when I hit maximum capacity and could not wait any longer. So I headed off to find the toilets. It was an executive decision. I got lost at first, but got pointed in the right direction of the toilets.
There were rows and rows of normal portaloos. There was a men’s section, then there was a woman’s section. I couldn’t see a disabled section. I asked one guy, he pointed me back in the direction of the women’s toilets, and when I repeated that I was looking for the disabled toilets, he said “Oh, I don’t know then.” Thank you, oh helpful member of staff! Luckily one of the actors (A Libyan!) overheard me asking and he pointed me in the right direction. There were two disabled toilets. Two. And looking from the outside, I wasn’t convinced that anyone in a wheelchair was actually going to be able to use them. So I went to open the door, and it wouldn’t budge. The door said vacant, unlike the one next to it, nobody said “Oh someone’s in here, please wait a second” so I gave it another pull, and nothing. I went back to the actor, and I think I asked if they were the only accessible toilets around, and he said yes. So I went back and tried a third time. Still nothing. On the fourth time, I used my right hand to open the door, and used my left hand to wiggle a bit that was sticking out, and that’s what made it finally work.
And I opened the door… and the smell that hit me was awful. It smelt… oh, bad. If I could have put a name to it, it would have to be that stale smell of a pub mixed with sewer milk. And, for a disabled toilet, it was anything but accessible. The toilet was directly in front of the door, on the left. There was no turning room, there was no lever arm to pull down, although even if there had have been, it wouldn’t have been any use because my wheelchair was in the way. I twisted myself to see what the situation was in this very smelly room, and I couldn’t close and lock the door once I was in. I’d have taken a photo or a video, but hey, no phone! And then I looked down at the toilet. Big mistake. Very big mistake. There was just something in there and it was brown and liquidly, and all I could think of at the time was “I hope that’s beer spew”. The toilet roll was also just down by the side of the toilet, I couldn’t see where the hand towells were because they also weren’t in the designated dispenser, and it was also missing a hygiene bin for medical accessories. Not that I need it, but some people might have!

I gave up and I backed straight out of there. And nearly ran a young girl over for her troubles. She, although walking, required the disabled toilets. And I said to her, and her mum standing next to her “If there’s any way you can use the women’s, I’d recommend it. It is BAD in there. I didn’t even bother”. And the Mum said she thought I’d gone in and came back out again very quickly. They must have followed the actor’s directions at the same time I was following them.

Me and the mum got talking. She asked me how I was finding it, and I explained everything I’ve explained here. Over all, it’s pretty good and I’m impressed, but I am disappointed that the little things, all the extra touches, were made inaccessible to me. And she explained that she had a daughter with a severe disability and she would have liked to have taken her to an event like this, but the unpredictability of the concept made it unfeasible, and with the lack of actual facilities and provisions for disabled people, she was glad she didn’t even risk it. She also explained that the daughter who was braving the toilets had a bag that needed sorting out, and that’s what they use the disabled toilets for. The space, the facilities to assist with balancing, and the extra hygiene bins they put in there. I said there was just nothing like that in there, and I was actually quite angry at the organisers for selling the event as accessible when two thirds of the event hadn’t been. It’s alright saying they will provide “accessible toilets”, but when they’re not fit for purpose, they might not as well be there. I can say with an educated guess, that they just got the cheapest things on offer and didn’t care enough to put thought into it.
The young girl came out and agreed with me that it Was pretty disgusting. And it’s only just occurred to me now that during that whole conversation, and we must have been talking for 15 minutes, nobody came out of the other toilet. It’s also just occurred to me that maybe someone jimmied the door on the toilets so that nobody could use them, because they were in such dire conditions. It’s my belief, that due the poor and offensive inadequate space of the toilet and little numbers of disabled people there that night, the disabled toilets had been designated as the spewing receptacles. Because why throw up in one of the many other toilets when you can throw up in the disabled one?

After almost being ran over by The Libyans on my way back (My new claim to fame!) I carried on my night enjoying the film, but with the worry that my situation might hit 11 and I’d have to risk public indecency by sneaking a piddle behind the fake shrubberies. I didn’t! But cold did set in and I got pains down my right leg (left leg is too dead to know when it’s too cold).

Like I said, I did enjoy the night. It was amazing! And we did manage to get some pictures, because they were selling over-priced cheaply made disposable cameras on site! It’s a shame that many people’s broke, including my friend’s, meaning they wasted £8 on them for nothing, and maybe more if they still got it developed. And those that were developed were of very poor quality. But mine did work, and quite a few turned out as best as they could! I didn’t want to use it for the toilets, for understandable reasons, but I got the photo I’ve posted above and some other ones.

I would probably go again if they did Back to the Future 2. Because that is my favourite film of the trilogy. But I would contact them before hand and lay down exactly what it means to be accessible, and sue their backsides off if it was the same situation all over again.

I think, besides watching the film and watching the actor’s in front of the film act parts of it out, the highlight of the night was dancing. The first time I met my friend, 10 years before almost down to the month, we went on an “Induction To 6th Form” trip together, which was at a university and it had a disco at the end of the night, and we danced together in our little group from the second the dancing started, until the night ended. And it reminded me of that.

I think the worst bit of the night, besides all of the access issues, was when the Doc was meant to zipline down from the clock tower, the zipline failed. So we had one Doc visibly left stranded on the clock tower with the spot light still on him, whilst a second Doc emerged from the darkness and spoke the lines along with the film.

For anyone wondering what happened with the pee situation (and who knew 10 years ago that ten years into the future I’d be talking about peeing online for all the world to read?! My sixteen year old self is dying of embarrassment, which sounds to me like a plot for BttF4), It hit 11 when Biff was pulling George McFly out of the car, but I made it to the hotel (IBIS) with my dignity and bladder intact. Which is where, to my dismay and to add awkwardness to mild hypothermia, we discovered the supposed wheelchair accessible bathroom had a sliding door that didn’t shut properly. You’d shut it, it would slowly slide open again and reveal about 4 inches of the bathroom. So much for dignity…

It was also a poor attempt at being wheelchair accessible. Like the Portaloo, once I was in the bathroom, I struggled to close the door after myself. It took a lot of bodily twisting. With the lack of space in there, there would have been no way of being assisted if I’d have needed assisting, and no way of showering independently if I’d have wanted to take a shower. The shelf for the shower was far too high, I can’t remember where the controls for the shower were but I remember thinking there was a problem with them, the towel rack was outside of the shower, out of reach of where the stool would go, the shower stool was a collapsible one resting up against the wall, the toilet was about 5 steps away from the shower, the shower had a lip, and oh yeah, the shower was on the side of the bathroom that the open sliding door revealed.

Me and my friend are close, but we’re not married.

For the Secret Cinema Event, I’ll give it a 6.5. I really want to give it a seven, but that disabled portaloo has scarred me for life.


Tokyo Revelation – This isn’t a review.

Thursday 24 January, 2013

Exactly what it says on the tin. This is something about Tokyo Revelation, but i’m not sure it really qualifies as a review. It’s certainly not intended to be a review, not like Shackleton was or the LoveFilm challenge reviews will be.

Anyway, without further ado…

I first watched Tokyo Revelation when I was fourteen, and I watched it with my fellow anime-nut friend. She was the one who got me into anime, actually, and she’d heard good things about this film. This was when the Sci-Fi Channel was spelt properly, and had anime on anytime between 11:30pm and 4am, depending on their schedule. It was very unusual for any anime to be on as early as 11:30, actually, but it happened on two occasions that I know of.

Anyway, so, this wasn’t on at 11:30 at night, it was on during the more usual hour of 2am. Like I said, she’d heard good things about it, where as I I hadn’t heard anything about it at all, so it was going to be an experience to watch it, especially because I usually taped the shows and films on that late instead of watching them as they aired.

So we watched it… And, well, we were left quite baffled, actually. I thought I’d missed something really obvious, but my friend was confused too.

If I was to give you a summary of it, it would have been “A creepy guy is part computer virus. He used to be in love with his best friend, the time line wonked for a bit and then they both died. And then there was four solid minutes of floating characters amongst cherry blossom as a woman’s voice repeats the words ‘It dies and blossoms, dies and blossoms, dies and blossoms again, blossoms and dies, dies and blossoms, blossoms and dies again.’ over and over.”

And as the years went by, the only things about it that I could remember was, first being very confused, something about a Computer Virus, and the whole “Dies and Blossoms Again” thing. That’s all. Not even the name of the it. So when I thought to myself, “Oh what was that anime that ended with Dies and Blossoms again? Maybe I should watch it again, because rewatching things has worked out well so far!” I had to google the phrase “Dies and Blossoms again” to get the name so that I could order it on LoveFilm.

After a re-watch, I wondered why I’d bothered.

I thought that the ten years that had passed by between the viewings would help me to understand the story, that maybe there was some deeper meaning I’d missed by being a shallow teenager. It didn’t, there wasn’t.

However, it would have helped the first viewing if the movie hadn’t have been edited down to 45 minutes. I remember being a bit surprised at the length back on the first watch. That extra 15 minutes isn’t a saviour filled with the essential plot device or anything, but it did help the transition of character and plot development.

I was actually able to understand it all a bit better (notice the emphasis on the bit), unfortunately that just made the Computer Virus character, called Akito Kobayashi, a hell of a lot more creepy and demonic (and gay, but that’s not technically a character flaw. He just happens to be gay as well as creepy), and the rest of the characters all that much bizarre, probably because most of them are just background characters. One thing that wasn’t included in the first viewing was the character of a young girl who carries a doll with her, and gives the main character, Kojiro Soma, a protective knife because he’ll be needing it. Another thing missed out was the motivation behind Akito’s deal with the pack of demons and subsequent killing spree, which I now understand to be a revenge spree on bullies.

Add some Phlebotinum into the mix and that’s basically the whole movie.

It didn’t make the story any better, and the four minutes of “Dies and Blossoms, Dies and Blossoms again, Blossoms and Dies, Blossoms and Dies again, Dies and Blossoms” etc etc etc is still annoying. This time even more so, because this time I was watching with the false belief that there’d be a proper conclusion before the credits came up, but no. I was still left feeling like there was something missing.

Would I watch it again? No.
Would I recommend it to anyone? Well, I would, if they asked me “What’s a really strange anime featuring demons intertwined with computer viruses? Lack of Character development preferable.” or “Do you know of any anime that has a creepy gay character in it that could put BBC’s Moriarty to shame?”. Otherwise, no. I definitely wouldn’t

Do I want my hour and 45 minutes back that I spent watching this anime, twice?

Oh god, Yes.


Sorkin Speculation: Revisited

Tuesday 24 January, 2012

On this date last year, I blogged about Aaron Sorkin’s news that he had written the pilot of a new show and was in the casting process. I then went on to speculate who might be casted into the show.

Well, since then, an explosion of new information came to light in the middle of December! There was nothing much beforehand, and nothing else since, but the information we now have, is enough to be going on with. Unfortunately, none of my speculated actors are on the cast list (yet) so I got that one (Or three, rather) wrong.

It’s exactly the premise Sorkin talked about on the news last year. Behind The Scenes Of A Show-within-a-show, like Sports Night and. to an extent, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip.

Surprisingly, or at least it is to me anyway, Jeff Daniels, of all people, is the star of the show! He’ll be playing the Main Character, Will – Who is The Anchor of the News Show. So basically he’s the Casey, for fellow Sports Night Fan’s Comparisons. He does like to recycle those names, doesn’t he? Was there a Will in Studio 60? I don’t think there was, was there?

Well, you know what they say, where there’s a Will, there’s a way. Studio 60 didn’t have a Will, I don’t think, so that’s probably why it got cancelled. No Way for it to be successful. Such a shame, I loved that show!

Anyway. Alongside Jeff Daniels will be Emily Mortimer, who I first recognise as being from Disney’s The Kid, and then also from The 51st State. Jane Fonda is a bizarre casting choice but I’ll save my comments until after I see the show. She’ll be playing the CEO of the Parent Company. There’s also a few actors name’s that I don’t recognise and then one that I am more surprised to read about than I was with Jeff Daniels. Sam Waterston!

He’ll be playing President of the News Network, Charlie Skinner. I think that will make him the Isaac Jaffe of the show, under the power of Jane Fonda’s Luther Sachs, for a Sports Night Comparison.

I am very shocked but quite looking forward to seeing Sam Waterston in this latest Sorkin show. Sam Waterston seems like a very serious television actor, and Sorkin has this talent for making drama and subtle comedy blend together that I can’t actually imagine what this show is going to be like anymore. It not only speaks volumes of the quality Sorkin wishes to uphold with this show, but also what the Network Executives expect from him. You don’t just put Sam Waterston in a show that you expect to flop. And lets face it, Sorkin doesn’t have the best track records with these kind of shows.

I blame the Networks. Sorkin doesn’t have the best personality in the world but he knows how to make a show and how to get the best out of his cast. The Network’s never seem to know how to deal with the kind of outcomes they have to deal with when it comes to him.

But back to the show and Sam Waterston. Here’s why it’s especially delightful for me to see Sam Waterston in a Sorkin Show, other than it’s Sam Waterston and he’s a bloody good actor. He is James Waterston’s Father. James Waterston played Gerard Pitts in Dead Poets Society. Josh Charles, who played Dan Rydell in Sports Night, played Knox Overstreet in Dead Poets Society. And last but not least, an episode of The West Wing, called Two Cathedrals, had parts that were filmed at the same school Dead Poets Society was filmed.

My mind is just one Undirected Labelled Graph when it comes to Sorkin, Dead Poets Society and, though I haven’t mentioned it, House.

In Short, Sorkin is going to be working with the father of an actor, who worked on a film with another actor, whose biggest role since that film was probably Sport’s Night. Complicated and Simple at the same time.

Anyway, back to the show! It’s scheduled to start showing in the US in the summer of this here 2012. Only god knows when us Brits will get it. Right now, it has a preliminary 10 episode run and anymore will be down to test screenings and viewer ratings.

I really hope this hits the television like The West Wing. They were fools to cancel Sports Night and Studio 60, they had so much potential for a five year run each. I don’t think Sorkin could take another “failure” in that style.

Hopefully Sorkin has found a working line and is aiming for it, because as good as his shows are, they’re no good if they get cancelled due to communication problems with the networks.

A very small snippet of the show can be found in the HBO trailer for 2012 here and more information about the show in general can be found on it’s Wiki page here.

I really can not wait to see this show! Here’s hoping us Brits aren’t left waiting for too long after the US airdate!


Excuse me, I have some words to eat

Monday 12 December, 2011

If you were to read my entries from around this time last year, you would be met with some words and sentences directed at Christmas and December fit for old Ebenezer Scrooge himself.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve changed my ways. I still hate Christmas, and the commercialisation of Christmas, and December and how the whole of December is a painful countdown to Christmas and then new year. And it’s always cold, and dark, and miserable. I think all of it is miserable and pointless and the less I had to do with it the better.

However. However… During the summer, I got quite attached to something that had a small reference to Christmas in it. And I am delightfully happy to finally get the chance to use and abuse this very small reference to my heart’s content. So it’s really all about that than it is about Christmas.

It’s exactly the same as hating Chemistry, but finding absolute joy in the song Catalyst by New Found Glory, and using and abusing the chance to sing it obnoxiously everytime work is done with a catalyst. Or the word Catalyst is mentioned.

I’m not happy to celebrate Christmas, this is just a very small way I can make the lead up to it tolerable. Something better to focus on, at least.

It’s amazing what benefits there are to having a geeky, fangirl mindframe.

I would thank the person responsible for this little reference right here, right now, on this very blog, but I don’t want to give any more away that would connect my blog with my LiveJournal.

So anybody intrigued will have to stay intrigued… (I say that as if I have regular readers)

Normal scheduling consisting of grumbling, moaning, complaining and many other things that describe my ill-feelings towards Christmas in general and December will resume as of now.

Thank You!


A Whole Year Old Today!

Tuesday 22 November, 2011
Happy Birthday To Me
Happy Birthday To Me
Happy Birthday to I Once Was A Twenty-Something Journalism Student!
Happy Birthday To Me!
For the record, it’s not actually *my* Birthday, but it has been one year to the day since I created this blog, so it’s the Blog’s birthday. And may it have a happy one!
If Blog’s were sentient creatures, I’d tell it to go out and party hard. But seeing as it’s a year old, if it were a sentient creature, it’d probably be just a baby. If I told it to go out and party hard, it’d probably just goo at me and laugh at it’s own feet. And then probably cry a lot.
Remind me again why people have babies? I don’t see the appeal at all.
Aaaanyway! Now that I have acknowledged that I Was Once A Twenty-Something Journalism Student has been in existence for a year, I guess I should say something about the year.

Well, I don’t think I’ve given too much away about myself on here. Which was the whole point, really. I have a LiveJournal for angsting, ranting, celebrating and fangirling and being the me that people know and possibly love, and this is for pseudo-professional appeals to the public and other things that the people who know about my LiveJournal have virtually no interest in, really.

Basically all the things that I would have to call on if I did actually make it as a Journalist, which I didn’t. Which I’m glad about, because I have too many strong opinions that I don’t mind making clear here, but they would no doubt get me in to trouble or get me fired if I was supposed to be professional and unbiased.

I have talked about the importance of wheelchair access, many many times, and about how the whole world seems to not understand how disabilities work. Nothing has changed in that whole year in that respect. I’ve shared my opinion on the commercialisation and consumerism of Christmas. The page that gets me most visits is a review I wrote of Jon Richardson’s book “It’s Not Me, It’s You”, which I’m very proud of even if I do say so myself; And most recently, I’ve possibly raised awareness on the subject of Asexuality.

For me, I class all that as a promisingly productive year. Here’s to another one!

-A Failed Journalist-

Asexuality Awareness – Part 3

Friday 28 October, 2011

Today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week. If Asexuality Awareness Week is like the Working Week, then today is also the Final Day of Asexuality Awereness Week. I believe that a week ends on a Sunday, and a new week starts on a Monday, so therefore, as far as I’m concerned, today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week, but it isn’t the Final Day. That’d be Sunday.

And now we’ve got that trivial matter out of the way, I am free to share more pearls of wisdom with you concerning Asexuality.

So what’s on the cards today? The Portrayal of Asexuality Within Popular Culture.

I’m going to be honest here, we don’t get much representation on TV. I can think of three well known people who are said to be Asexual, and two of them are fictional.

The first is Sheldon Cooper, the super genius from The Big Bang Theory who is riddled with autistic-like behaviours and obsessive compulsive disorders. In the first two series, he was shown as not having any interest in anyone on a romantic-based relationship level. Considering the way he treats his friends, it’s sometimes hard to believe he’s maintained friendships. From what i’ve noticed, he sees things as “Scientifically Relevant”, “Relevant to his interests or well being” and “Irrelevant”. He has changed over time and now he even has a “girlfriend”, who from where I saw upto, he referred to as “a friend who was a girl”.

Now, I know that asexuals can have relationships. Some asexuals even have sex. I have said this. Sheldon being in a relationship isn’t the problem. It’s the attitude towards him being in a relationship and the rest of his character. At first, I really liked Sheldon and then, I don’t know, as the series went on, I just felt more and more like he was giving Asexuals a bit of a bad name. Or at least helping bad stereotypes.

It’s his idiosyncracies that might not be related to Autism, it’s his problems understanding people and relationships and it’s this idea that if he is and since he has been in a relationship, he’ll “get more normal”. It’s the idea that, because Sheldon is alone in his quirky little world, he’s missing out on something and this relationship with Amy, that’s the character’s name, is going to make him realise that and “fix” everything. I really like the actor who plays the character, but even he has said some things in interviews that have got to me. I just feel like all these things, together, make Asexuality seem like some sort of disorder.

Isn’t it bad enough that people think that a lack of interest in sex and relationships is an indicator of depression?

The second is Sherlock Holmes. ACD never used the word “Asexual”, to my knowledge, but he very much said that Holmes showed no interest in people in a romantic sense. He had no time for them. People were tools to get to the important thing, the crimes and the understanding of how and why crimes were done. He was pretty much an early day Criminalist with a love of Chemistry. The only people who “caught his attention” one way or another, even outside of the cases and the drug use, were John Watson, the only person who Sherlock Holmes considered close enough intellectually to him for him to be considered a friend and a colleague, and Irene Adler. The One Woman who bested him. People can see this as a romantic thing,  and it is up for interpretation. I see it this way:

In the era Sherlock Holmes is set, Women were still second class citizens. Adler was your average woman, who just happened to be a common criminal. She wasn’t a mastermind. There is cleverness in the incredibly simple, and someone so smart like Holmes was bound to overlook the simple things. He is so used to people trying to best him by raising the bar higher than he has set himself, he never anticipated someone reaching lower. So someone of average intelligence getting the upper hand was a big punch to his ego, the fact that it was a woman doubly so. So she became The Woman. The only one worth his attention.

Yes, it’s such a cliche that arch-enemies of opposite gender are just so full of hatred for each other, it’s actually pure attraction. But Sherlock Holmes? I don’t see that trope, myself.

Now there’s a modern remake of Sherlock Holmes and I have to say, I absolutely love it. And moreso, Sherlock implies right in the first episode that he holds no interest in romantic relationships. His actual words are “Girlfriends? Not really my area”, he doesn’t have a boyfriend, and he considers himself “Married to his work”. Later on he says he’s a High Functioning Sociopath, but I honestly reckon that’s a misdiagnosis, self-diagnosis, and/or a complete great wall of China to keep people away. You’d be surprised at how often people of high intellect see a pattern and develop one of their own in reaction to protect themselves. When you’re a genius who probably got mocked and ostracised by everyone, have enough understanding of people to manipulate them but have no personal experience to uphold relationships, you’re probably going to find it difficult to work with people. People who seem to direct their intelligences in different ways. (Apart from John Watson, who can just about keep-up)

And honestly, some of the facial expressions and pauses pretty much shoot the idea that he’s a “high-functioning sociopath” right out the window for me.

Now, I have been asked what the difference is between Sheldon and Sherlock for me to like one portrayal of Asexuality and not the other. The simple answer is this:

Even Sheldon’s friends try to change Sheldon, and Sheldon doesn’t seem to do himself any favours in that respect. There is a lot more focus on how weird, quirky and riddled with disorders he is, it makes me feel like they’re saying “Sheldon is asexual BECAUSE of the rest of the way he is.” Where as with Sherlock, I don’t get anything like that from those portrayals. Sherlock doesn’t abhore company, touch or even other people, he just hates idiots and stupid mistakes and people who can’t see what is obvious to him. Watson might try and help ground Sherlock, he is certainly a liason between The Rest of The World and Sherlock Holmes, but rolls with the punches. Holmes says something callous, and Watson understands WHY he’s said it. He probably won’t agree, he might try to tell Holmes it’s not acceptable behaviour, but he still treats Sherlock with respect and kindness. And most of all, when relationships become a focus within the stories, the films and the shows, I get the feeling that they’re saying “Sherlock is a genius who can’t stand idiots. He is ALSO Asexual.” They are not connected. It somehow, very subtly, seems to have a very good positive look on Asexuality, without explicitly saying so.

The third person I know of that’s said to be is Lady Gaga. I have no opinions what so ever on her portrayal of an Asexual to the public eye. If she is asexual, then she seems at least to be a sex-positive one. The problem I have, to be honest, is… she’s a very big attention seeker and she says a lot of stuff in interviews that seem to be said just for shock value. Here is this provocatively dressed singer, sings about relationships with people… saying she’s asexual. It doesn’t add up, but maybe that’s a good thing. Stops some stereotypes or pre-conceived ideas in their tracks. But she reminds me of this friend I once had who was a compulsive liar. He always wanted attention and he would come out with the thing that would give him the most attention at that time. For a while, he was openly gay. Asexuality is something that is gaining in visibility. I wouldn’t say it’s an “In-thing”, but more and more people are becoming aware of it and though they might not know anyone, they recognise that it is something that a lot of people are and know that it’s sometimes considered a “controversial issue”, due to people being disbelieving about it.

So being a famous singer who thrives on getting attention for being “out of the oridnary”, what could make you seem more out of the ordinary? Why, being part of a minority that is just gaining awareness. It’s passed the “Whaaaaat is that?” phase, it’s moved onto the “We’ve heard about it, but we don’t believe it” stage and it’s just the perfect time for someone to voice their asexuality without too much of a backlash. If you’re a famous person anyway. There’s always good lawyers on their side…

And if she isn’t really asexual, I think we as a minority sexuality could face a very big backlash. We are, comparitively, in the stages homosexuality was in the 70s and 80s.

And that’s all I have to say for today. I welcome discussion on this entry and anything I’ve said, but I can’t actually reply to comments individually, so please keep checking back for responses on future updates.


Mis-Communication

Saturday 30 July, 2011

I shall tell you all a story… with no twist in it’s tale whatsoever.

No. This tale practically goes nowhere, and barely highlights any points, morally or otherwise, i’d even attempt to make.

I once had a friend who liked Paul Bettany. For those who don’t know who that is, he’s an actor. IMDB him. She liked him a fair amount, but not obsessively so. She had your average fangirl-esque crush on him, without the wall sized posters on the walls. Whenever she mentioned him, I’d repeatedly ask “And who’s that again?”.

She’d reply “He’s the guy in Wimbledon!” and I’d just kind of look at her, sometimes doing the plane-over-the-head motion with accompanied sound affect. I’m not one for RomComs. Then sometimes she’d say “He was in A Knight’s Tale! He was the naked one!”

Which, if I didn’t already have it down in my “No” pile, pretty much secured it’s place there. Naked people? Big No for me.

At various points during our friendship, I’d mention a film I kind of liked called Gangster Number 1. “I don’t know who the main guy is, but he’s really blonde!” I’d say. She had no interest in seeing it because, well, British Gangster Films weren’t really her area. Fine by me, I don’t like RomComs.

Shortly before our friendship was well and truly drying up, she put Wimbledon on her computer one night when I slept over, as something we could fall asleep to. I must have seen some of it, because I’m an insomniac and wouldn’t have fallen asleep so early in the film not to remember any of it, but there we have it. I don’t remember any of it. Was he naked in that too? I might have been too traumatised to remember it, if that’s the case.

Either way, I didn’t register the character in my mind and still at that point, the name Paul Bettany meant little or even nothing to me.

Fast forward three years later. For a few years at that point, my parents had raved about a film called Master and Commander. The first time I watched it, I saw a very bad bit in it and took an instant disliking to it. After a while and much insistence from my parents, I read up on it and found that it had quite a lot in common with a favourite series of mine called Hornblower.

In fact it wasn’t just a coincidence, the books were inspired by the book series of Hornblower, and the movie was influenced in the way of set design, costumes and naval interactions that the books didn’t cover, by the television series.

So I watched it a second time. I like Age of Sail, I like Hornblower and i’d already learnt from another film that one bad bit of a movie does not a full opinion make. And, well, I loved it. It is now a firm favourite of mine.

But the second time I watched it, I spent a good twenty minutes wondering where the hell I’d seen the doctor from. I recognised his face a teeny tiny bit but he just looked too different from anything in my memory to put a name to his face. So I IMDB’d him.

Paul Bettany. Did the name ring a bell? Not really, no. I mean there was something there, in the back of my mind, tinkling a little bit, but it was no Fire Alarm. And somehow my mind failed to register the words “Wimbledon” and “A Knight’s Tale” on the list, so my mind was still floundering until I caught “Gangster No. 1”.

Even to this day I still have no Idea how he went from The Super Blonde, Couch Obsessed, Shifty Looking Gangster to The Auburn Haired, Soft Spoken, Gentle Yet Dangerous, Fighting Naturalist, Doctor Stephen Maturin. My mind? It was boggled.

Then I watched the movie again and I was sat there thinking “Paul Bettany…” and suddenly, that name had too many familiar leaves to it in my tree-like brain to only be from Gangster No. 1. Yes, I did like that film, Yes I did mention that film a few times. But there was something more to his name. This is how my mind works.

So I IMDB’d him again and spotted A Knight’s Tale. And then it hit me! I recognised his face from Gangster No. 1, but I knew his name from my old friend! That’s why the name was more of a bigger deal than his face. I never put The Super Blonde Gangster together with the name Paul Bettany, cos I never found out his name. Or if I did, it never registered with me.

Sometimes I am oblivious, it happens.

Fast Forward 8 months later. I happen to be working my way through films that Alan Tudyk is in. Alan Tudyk, of Firefly and Death at a Funeral fame, is in A Knight’s Tale. Well, with a nice mixture of actors such as Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany and Heath Ledger, and a few years between the first watching and that moment in time, I decided to go for it. I already found a new favourite film in Master and Commander, right? So maybe I was wrong with A Knight’s Tale upon first watch.

More accurately, I was 14 years old and looking forward to either the Summer or Christmas Holidays so much that when the opportunity arose to leave the classroom after the register was taken, I took it and left the room after the first five minutes.

Even by my standards, that’s not giving it much of a chance.

Well, one thing to be noted, Paul Bettany is very much naked a couple of times in that film. Oh, you don’t see much by Offensive Standards, no. Just a little bit too much by my own. If Paul Bettany was a little less naked in that film, i’d give it a 10 out of 10.

Which kind of proves some sort of point. Sometimes, I should listen to my friends when they rave about films (or particular actors from films) I might like. More often than not, they’ll be wrong, but sometimes it’s worth humoring them. And I only say that because in my experience, More Often Than Not, they are wrong. I know what I like and I have no intention of broadening my horizons.

I’ve spent 22 years disliking most RomComs and films where characters are terminally ill. That’s not going to change, because the messages and ideologies of these films equally aren’t going to change. But that’s a rant for another entry.

So yeah. Three cheers for Paul Bettany, IMDB and Friendships of the past.