Monday, 23 January 2017

On Debbie Reynolds and Carrie

We’re all aware of the number of celebrity deaths that occurred in 2016 – they seemed to be every other day – but the ones that struck me most came at the end of the year: that of Carrie Fisher and, a day later, her mother Debbie Reynolds.


Both of these women have been present throughout my childhood and have come to mean a great deal to me over the years; Debbie, as Kathy Selden, my sassy triple threat in a yellow raincoat, and Carrie, as my badass general/princess with her hair wrapped in buns on either side of her head. In that time, they have become to mean different things to me, but equally as important.


Singin’ in the Rain is my all-time favourite musical. I love everything about it; from the songs, the dance numbers, the plot and the actors. Those involved in it are genuinely incredible and so so talented. And Star Wars, on the other hand, was always playing in my house as it’s a favourite of my dad’s – a love he passed on to my brother and I. Carrie had also been in some other films I adore – Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, etc., which have become iconic and are truly unforgettable, with her portrayal of characters that I love and make me laugh (less so in Blues Brothers, but never mind…).

The main characters Debbie and Carrie portrayed have inspired me and entertained me for my whole life, and I’m sure will continue to do so as long as I live. And I hope will live on to make future generations laugh and cry.

Kathy Selden. Though Singin’ in the Rain does pit the two main women against each other over Gene Kelly’s character, Don Lockwood, those two women are some of my favourites in any story (and also Jean Hagen is an underappreciated genius, but this post isn’t about here so, maybe another time I’ll talk exclusively about the film). I love Kathy; she seems to be a lovely person, with a great sense of humour and conviction in her own self-worth and ambition (just look at her threat to leave Don at the end of the film, when he would have her sacrificing her career to aid his). As a young girl, it was amazing seeing Reynolds singing and dancing her heart out, and especially keeping up with the boys (who were a lot more experienced than her as she was 19 during filming), proving that women have as much talent and capabilities as men.


Princess Leia. My general and true royalty. During my childhood, I never saw many women in action or sci-fi films, well, not many anyway. Whilst there are some exceptions, the genres are dominated by men who end up being given more character development than the few women, who in turn end up being categorised as being either ‘macho’ or overly sexualized. This is not the case with Leia. She is able to handle her own in a fight, with weapons if necessary, think on her feet and dash around the Death Star all while maintaining her femininity and not losing sight of herself. This is so important to young (and not-so-young) girls. It’s so important to see complex women, who can be kicking ass yet still be advisory, friendly and deeply flawed. As Leia is a character who never loses her femininity but can still be a highly esteemed and respected character, she sets out a message that in order to be powerful you do not need to be masculine, something I hope I will never forget.


To me, Leia and Carrie have blurred into one, especially having seen and loved her in interviews and videos I found online (without forgetting her Twitter feed), and that has made me respect and appreciate her even more.

The same would be said for Debbie as, as I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered more about her life, career and fabulous wit, and have made it my mission to see as many of her films as possible.


The best way to remember these incredible women is to continue the causes they fought for: increasing awareness for mental health, reducing the stigma around it and increasing facilities and resources to help with mental issues, not rest until we have equality for all and to make sure we have a laugh while doing so.


Friday, 20 January 2017

5 New Books on my Shelf

After Christmas and a good book buying spree, I have a fair few new books on my TBR pile. Here are five of them:

1. Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth

I’ve seen various posts about this on Pinterest, using some of the techniques described by Forsyth and I just wanted to learn more. I also saw it in a few of Leena Norms’ videos and, I think, somewhere else on YouTube but I forget. I honestly have been looking forward to reading for this for so long, it was actually one of the two things I actually asked to have for Christmas. Hopefully, this will help improve my writing and understanding of various techniques, which will be useful as I’m starting to edit my novel now.

2. A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer

I was given this book for Christmas and it’s a mystery set at a Christmas party (bet you couldn’t guess that!). The blurb reminded me a lot of Cluedo (maybe because we had played that the day before), but I can’t wait to read this – I do love a good murder mystery!

3. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I have been a fan of Carrie Fisher for a while. I love her in Star Wars, having grown up watching it a lot because my dad happens to be a massive fan, I love her in When Harry Met Sally and I have more recently grown to love her through her interviews and TV appearances I found on YouTube. I was planning to buy this book as soon as it came out but was waiting until I had some more money. Needless to say, I was really saddened on hearing of her death and I’m so glad to now have this on my shelves.

4. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

I’ve heard a lot about this book, and I know it’s a classic. I don’t actually know what it’s about but it’s just always intrigued me whenever I’ve seen it mentioned anywhere.

5. Everyman’s Poetry by Emily Dickenson

I want to read as much poetry as I can (I’m kind of craving it) and I know that one of my friends likes Emily Dickenson and that she is regarded as one of the ‘key’ poets. I’ve read a few already and I love them – hopefully the rest are equally as good!

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Books That Changed My Life

Monday, 16 January 2017

Criticising Something You Love

There is at least one thing that all of us completely love, whether it’s a book, a film, a TV show etc. There’s always some sort of creativity to consume, and one that we end up feeling passionate about. When you’re not very attached to something and can view it objectively, you may criticize it and spot its weaknesses, but when you have a strong attachment to or love for something, I feel that that is heightened.

For me, this is most prevalent with the Harry Potter franchise.

I grew up with Harry Potter; my parents would read me the books before I went to bed from when I was very small, they bought me the audiobooks for birthdays and Christmases as they were being released, I still have loads of merchandise that has been collected over the years. I know it sounds ridiculous to some, but I genuinely believe that Harry Potter has made me who I am today, well, for the most part. I am an avid reader, anyone who knows me knows that. I also have a huge love for writing – it’s craft and the shape of words and stories. Those are some of the parts of my character that I believe are one of the most important and that have been aided and allowed to grow by the involvement of Harry Potter in my life.

So, it’s safe to say that I was overly excited about the release of the Cursed Child. I say overly, because I really do not think it was worth the hype. At least, not based on the script anyway. I’m sure it would be much better on stage as some of the effects described in the script seem to be mind-blowing and I have no idea how they do that without special effects! Don't get me wrong, I still desperately want to see it on stage. However, I thought the plot was very weak and some of the characters I love were portrayed in a bad way and characterized badly. To me, it felt like a badly written fanfiction, although I know some people disagree.

I was talking to a friend in one of my classes the other week, and she was saying how you should be looking for good things in something you love, rather than its faults – but I can’t help but disagree. If you love something and something else is released,

To me, finding flaws in things you love is so important, but as a creative person, it is crucial. Many of my friends are creative; we’re writers, actors, poets, film makers, artists, photographers and work with textiles. As long as we want to better ourselves in our craft, we have to continue to see flaws in every piece of art we see, and to learn from those other creators’ mistakes and use them for our own creative growth.

But it’s also good to recognise that no piece of art is perfect – never will be, in my opinion. Finding faults in favourites is something that, I think, demonstrates affection. When it’s in a critiquing sort of way, at least. We’ve all come out of the cinema, having seen a disaster of a film and discussed its many faults with little enthusiasm or ever wanting to see it again. And I think we’ve all walked out of the cinema enthusiastically discussing a film we loved – its many qualities, but also of the things you didn’t like, or thought could have been improved. Interest in the recognition of a favourite piece of art’s faults is healthy. So don’t put anyone down for, while loving something, pointing out its imperfections but allow them to love it in spite of them.

If you liked this post you might like: Why We Need to Talk About Our Periods!