Monthly Archives: January, 2013

I got a period, yo! My big fat menstrual confessional.

You know, I’ve been at this for a few months, and consensus seems to be that I’m pretty…. ‘Honest.’ Yeah, I get told I’m ‘honest’ a lot.  A few people have seemed a bit uncomfortable with the amount that I share, and I’m kind of surprised about that.  Really?  I didn’t realise I shared *that* much.  I certainly find it really difficult to talk about things that I actually am a bit insecure about- I’ve chickened out on pieces about my body image, self loathing and depression, not to mention today’s topic, periods.  I think I’ve tried to write this about five times, with varying slants and approaches.  Here is my big confessional; everything you ever wanted to know about periods.

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I will never get those purple pants back

It was actually 10 years ago that I got my first period.  I was 10, which is pretty young.  In fairness to younger me, who I often chastise for being a melodramatic, uneasy girl, I took it like a total pro.  After the initial shock of my mother explaining it to me, calmly and carefully in our kitchen, eyes darting to the door to make sure my younger brother wasn’t ear wigging, that for the next 40 years, I’d start bleeding for a week, and not to be scared or upset when it started.  A few months later, I started getting tummy aches- the very first cramps that have since become the routine of my month.

I do have a distinct memory from the night before it started, getting into bed thinking ‘I reckon it’ll start tonight.’ and sure enough, when I woke up, I felt an unpleasant wetness in my pyjamas, and wriggled my pants down to investigate.  The first time you see the stain, it’s quite visceral.  It was dark, rich, and had soaked a circular patch into my purple underpants.  I stared at it for a minute, feeling a bit dizzy.  It was a Friday morning, around 6AM.  I was too shy to say ‘I got my period’ to my mother, so I went downstairs in my pyjamas clutching the stained pants in my hand, and showed her.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad.  Mam showed me where the pads lived (she’d already explained how they worked so I was a total pro with the wings) and then, after some hesitation gave me the day off school.  I sat in my pyjamas watching cartoons eating cereal.  I didn’t have any of the later cramps, emotions or unpleasantness that my period would bring along with it.  The next I thought about it was the next week, when my granny took my hand as we walked home from school. ‘Your mammy tells me you’ve joined the ranks of womanhood’ she says pointedly.

‘Eh, yeah, I guess I did.’ I reply primly.

My period is not dirty

Girls, can we all stand on our chairs (or in my case, my bed, where I’m typing from) and say out loud ‘Periods are not dirty’?  Because they aren’t- not really, they’re a bit messy and can smell, but they’re not infectious or liable to make you ill upon contact with another period-haver.  It’s a fallacy I often see- People comparing Menstruation to pooing or weeing.  In reality apart from taking place nearby where pooing and weeing occur, periods are nothing like it.  Mostly I hear men make this comparison- ‘You’d be grossed out if I talked about having a shit, wouldn’t you?’ This ignores two things-

1-I live with brothers, and therefore hear men talk about poo all the time [So much that I got into the habit of announcing ‘I have to pee’ when in company, which is very embarrassing.] It is so much more common to see jokes about it in media too- There are poop jokes all over TV; when’s the last time you saw a period joke on a kid’s show?

2- There is nothing like a period.  Okay, men, let’s get this out of the way.  I will never ever know what it’s like to be kicked in the nuts, but I accept it bloody hurts.  In the same vein, you won’t ever really know what it’s like to bleed for a week and not die.  Menstruation is a common experience, but not a universal one- Some women have them, some don’t, and men never will.

On the whole, I’ve always maintained that the things we use to hide the fact that we’re menstruating are the real dirty things here.  On it’s own, period blood is at it’s most offensive, slightly smelly and scary looking (The first time there were clots in mine, I actually had to have a little cry at how horrifying my body was being).  But I will attest that the smell of an over flowing bin of disposed soiled sanitary products smells SO MUCH worse.  The smell of old sanitary pad is overpoweringly bad.  Tampons have the even more horrifying side effect of potentially poisoning you.

The worst thing I ever heard when I was at school

Because I was a bit young donning my menstruation sombrero, I was already having them for a year before we got ‘the talk’ about hygiene when we were in school.  Mam had mentioned tampons to me, but didn’t really explain much about them beyond ‘they go in you, and they’re a bit harder to use until you’re older.’ So I didn’t really know anything about them.  It was during this talk which included mild mannered things like ‘remember to wipe and freshen up when you’ve had a wee’ I learned about tampons and toxic shock syndrome.

Basically it’s the worst fucking buzz ever.  Tampons are coated in bleach and then put into hard plastic applicators that you jam into yourself for up to four hours.  They dry your vagina out by absorbing the fuck out of everything in there- blood, mucus, general vagina-fluids doing their vagina-fluid job, stopping you being dry.  They are COATED in BLEACH.  The lady explained how they can’t get ‘lost’ up there (A sincere worry of 12 year old pre-menstrual girls.  Actually hell, I was worried about that until I was 16) and in the same breath, cautioned that if left in for too long, You could go into septic shock and be poisoned by your own rancid sanitary product.

I could not deal with this information.  I could die?  If I forgot about a cotton bud?  I have let PLANTS sitting on my desk right next to me wither from lack of water.  My Chia pet died because I forgot to replace the water!  How can I be expected to remember to remove things!  Oh dear god!  Basically everything about it scared me so badly that I can’t look at tampons without getting very upset indeed.

I got cramps in my back and I ain’t afraid to show it, show it, show it.

I really, really hate it when people blame my hormones for making me emotional and cranky.  Like, again, this is something I don’t think guys generally understand.  Maybe I’m totally wrong in saying this but in general guys don’t have to deal with massive shifts in their hormone levels on a monthly (sometimes weekly) basis.  It affects all women differently.  Everyone has their own crazy unhappy side effects to periods.  Mine began to emerge around the age of 14- for the first three years, I was too busy dealing with the irregular pattern and getting used to the sight of blood to really notice anything else, but it started to get bad.

Mam had knowingly never told me that periods can make you moody and irrational, thinking that I’d use it as an excuse to be bitchy.  But it came anyway, a horrible wave of anxiety and depression.  I’m prone to excess anxiety anyway, and I go on highs and lows all the time, but nothing like the dark places I go to when I’m on the rag.  For a while when I was very overweight, the dark days got so bad that I was genuinely worried about some of my thoughts.  Adding to this problem was the pain.

Oh my god.  I don’t like to think of myself as a mimsy- I soldier on when I feel sick, or at least I try to.  It’s hard to describe the pain because I’m so accustomed to the sensation now.  Firstly, imagine feeling constipated.  Then add a gnawing, constant, hot pain in your lower back.  then tense every muscle in your lower body and stomach.  That’s sort of what it feels like.  To be frank for a moment, period cramps are basically the uterus contracting and pushing out the old lining, and it fucking hurts.  Other women I know vomit, and others just get weepy or angry, but those are my things.  I get anxious, sore and deeply depressed.

I live tweet my Codeine high

The pains got so severe that basic paracetamol wasn’t helping at all, so we went to the chemist for something a bit more specialist.  We were pointed in the direction of feminex, a pink-boxed painkiller designed to get at cramps.  Does anyone else find the packaging of ‘woman pain killers’ in pink boxes a bit brilliant?  I love the campy neon pink of panadol woman, gender norms be dammed.  That’s what box I want my meds to come in.  Anyway, Feminex is a fucking trip- Codeine, caffeine and the stern advice not to become addicted.

I was like a fairy.  It took the pain away, but also left me with a nervous, drunken high.  My heart was racing from the caffeine and my head was light from codeine. I wrote some amusingly out there facebook posts, tweeted my hysteria and then crashed, sleeping for 15 hours.  I did the same basic routine every time I had a bad period.  I still have the box of Feminex somewhere, but I stick to Panadol woman now.  I get a bit too happy on Feminex.  It’s a trip.

The absolute worst thing I ever learned was that the best natural painkiller for cramps is in fact orgasm.  It completely un-clenches tensed muscles and gives you a rush of happy hormones.  I will never, ever forgive the universe for designing me with the ability to remove this pain by doing the one thing I really don’t feel like doing at that time.

I am sorry I am so obsessed with my period you guys

And so considering this- that it’s a monthly source of pain both emotional and physical- I hope it’s easier to understand why I go on about it so much.  I mean, all the effort that goes into concealing it is ludicrous.  Jokes about menstruation are still considered really far out unless they’re jokes about women being all irrational and weepy on their periods, which I point out kind of dis empowers them.  You never see jokes about menstrual blood, or cramps, really.  People still bristle unhappily when periods are mentioned, even in passing.

I try to be really super delicate when I talk about them- well, not here, but in company.  In company, I call it ‘lady pains’, trying to avoid even the mention of the C word.  It can’t be a thing of horror for me anymore.  It never has been, really.  Since the age of 11, I haven’t the luxury of being grossed out.  I, like a good deal of women, just have to get on with it.  I have to get on with the maintenance and the smells and the countless pairs of nice pants ruined by bloodstains that never really wash out, no matter how much cold water you rinse with.

So that’s the deal.  If I have to live the next 30 years bleeding once a week, I’m allowed crack jokes about it.  It’s my little way of taking control and agency over myself.  It’s uncomfortable and at times difficult to keep in line, but it’s my body.  I’m genuinely sorry if that makes people uncomfortable, or if it’s being too honest.  So yes, ladies.  Everyone up on their chair/bed/ottoman

‘We all got periods, yo!’ Say loud n’ proud.

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Niamh ‘I bleed out my vagina and y’all gotta deal with that’ Keoghan

‘Don’t let me stamp and shout and be a knob on twitter’

A rather upsetting trend I’ve noticed recently is that of popular mainstream feminist broadsheet columnists in the UK being total wankers on twitter when they are met with criticism.  I mean, I rather like Caitlin Moran.  I think her books are funny.  I do honestly think that despite every silly, often ill- judged thing she’s said or crack she’s made, she is essentially well meaning. I’m not as familiar with Suzanne Moore, but I’d have given her the benefit of the doubt too.  Problem is, these writers, when discussing gender, sexism or modern feminism, are often in for stiff criticism from the feminist blogging community.  Most of the criticisms concern their treatment of race (i.e. Moran doesn’t discuss it at all) or pointing out unhelpful language in otherwise well meaning pieces (i.e. Moore’s now-infamous ‘Brazilian Transsexual  quip), and it can admittedly get very intense- I can only imagine because most of the blogs written in response to Moore’s article are articulate, indignant and blisteringly intelligent.

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If it had been me, I’d be sitting there going ‘Ooooo fuuuuuck, she’s right.’ because the criticisms are valid- don’t ostracize Trans women.  Either we’re in it together or we’re not- there’s nothing nice in excluding anyone from the woman party.  It’s really important to recognize that in the world, different women are treated badly for different reasons- because of race, class, age,  nationality, sexuality or even their physical body (btw Moore, the status of a woman’s genitals is never ANYBODY’S business except her own).  And all the current transphobic bullshit getting thrown around seems to boil down to ‘Stop giving out about this, we have BIGGER THINGS to worry about!  Like the Daily Mail, and page 3!’ and this is exactly the thing women have been told all down the years when they complain about things that bother and oppress them. ‘Focus on the real problems, gawd.’

The backlash to Moore’s comment in her article was swift and sharp and at first, I went ‘really?’ I read the piece and the critique, and was like ‘all this for one throwaway comment that was a bit off colour?  That seems extre- Ooooooh, the tweets..’ Yeah, Moore responded to sustained criticism by taking to twitter with some incredibly ill-advised comments about mutilated genitals and similar transphobic comments.  It was hideous, unpleasant and unprofessional as a writer.  And in the face of even more vitriolic criticism, she then left twitter altogether, while the British journo gang on twitter all mourned her departure and berated those who ‘bullied her off twitter’.  That’s where I get a bit bothered.

People had every reason to call Moore out on such horrible language.  It doesn’t matter if she’s nice in real life, and that she’s your mate- writers, recognize when you have inadvertently offended someone or been wrong.  This has happened a few times- Caitlin Moran, who as I’ve said I enjoy a lot as a writer, said on twitter she ‘could not give less of a shit’ about non-white women when she was called out on her lack of comment of the issues of race surrounding feminism.  It was so, so disappointing   Moran was cool to me, she complimented my jumper and signed my book.  I like how she describes things and her writing style is somewhat similar to mine.  It was really disheartening to see a writer that has a lot of charisma and talent be so… childish about criticism.

And that’s what I’ve observed.  A whole group of well meaning, right on, cool feminist columnists who will not ever take heed of criticism.  Maybe they’re used to lots of ‘LOL, ur shit’ comments online, or maybe they’re jaded from years working in media, but it’s a killer blow to any writer- to think you’re above being called out on shit you get wrong, even if you’re doing it with a well meaning point, or for the LOLz like I usually am.  Just because your friends all gather around to defend you, it rings hollow because you actually were really offensive and nasty to an already marginalized group.  One of the most intelligent things I ever heard anyone say was when Caitlin Moran said ‘Always make sure you’re kicking up [When you write].  Get at David Cameron, don’t attack some schmoo in the back with a bad hat’.  That’s the kind of philosophy I like in my comedy and in my writing.  Kick up, at the elites and the movers and shakers and let them know when they’ve gone wrong.

When you attack trans people, you are pretty decidedly not kicking up.  Some of the most liberal, right on, feminist, LGBT-allied people I know are still a bit… weird about the idea of trans people, and in the idea of reassignment surgery.  Trans men and women have it unspeakably hard in a world where even the right on liberals are iffy about them.  Trans people are still a cruel punchline in comedy in a way that is considered waaay more acceptable than gay people, or women.  ‘Whoops!  That bird you nearly scored is ACTUALLY a MAN! LOL!’ that’s bullshit and it’s not fair.  But for the ‘Moore getting bullied off twitter’ narrative to hold, Julie Burchill had to cast Trans people as the elite, so that she could kick up.  She criticized the ‘trans lobby’ for their perceived abuses and language, Comparing the word ‘Cis’- used to describe anyone who’s gender matches their physical sex- to ‘cyst’.  Worth noting that ‘Cis’ actually derives from latin and also refers to men as well as women and has NEVER BEEN USED as a derogatory term.  Unless you count ‘Cissie’, which you don’t, obvs.

Now, obviously I don’t know what it’s like to be under sustained criticism like that.  I am a teeny tiny drop in the sea of internet blogs.  I just faff on about whatever I feel like, I have no overreaching agenda or theme other than having ROFLs and the odd angry post about sexism, but at the end of the day, I am just being funny for an audience of friends and friends of my friends.  In fact I do shy away from really getting into deep questions about gender and feminism simply because there are so many razor sharp, clever feminist bloggers who I fear will tear my shit up- it’s a very intense field of debate and I don’t think I have the moxie for it, tbh.  I acknowledge my own privileges- I’m white, I’m cis, I’m heterosexual, I’m from a reasonably comfortable background.

Does this mean I’m ‘not allowed’ write about race, or the working class, or LGBT issues?  I say heck no, I can write about what I want, but it does mean I have to make extra sure I have my facts straight- and accepting criticism when it’s needed.  The only time this has happened really was when I made a quip about the ‘suicide clause’ that’s causing so much debate over the new abortion legislation.  I posed the question of why a woman would fake suicidal thoughts when she could just GET THE BOAT TO LIVERPOOL (Embarrassing emphatic caps lock is my own) My friend Emma commented on that piece, explaining that not all women have the money or resources to travel for an abortion, and their desperation can’t be ignored.  And I was very, very embarrassed that I could have made such an error in reasoning, admitted my flippancy and moved on.  That’s what you do.  You take it on board.  If you’ve caused offence, you apologize.  Don’t fight back, or be a wanker on twitter.  Just say ‘my bad, I’ll try to be mindful of this in future’ and move on.  Amend the piece if you can.  But don’t start kicking down at those who you should be listening to.

Let this be my pledge.  If I should ever, in the course of my writing, be a wanker about criticism, someone take me to the side and say ‘dude, not on.  Stop being a wanker.’ Don’t let me stamp and shout and be a knob on twitter (I am always a knob on twitter, but I mean like, a proper offensive, mean spirited knob).

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Niamh ‘Still likes How to be a woman even if it’s problematic’ Keoghan

Advice for misfit teenage girls

Do you ever feel like you’re not really as smart  as everyone thinks you are, and that you’re just fooling everyone?

If you ever have, I want to talk to you.

Life gave me a lot of things to hate about myself when I was fifteen- I was some wanker, all things considered.  I was a teenage girl, which means inevitably that I was emotional and irrational.  My voice was too loud.  I was really fat.  I had horrible hair.  I thought I was gay because the sight of boys my age made me heave with revulsion (I later realised this was actually due to lynx body spray).  I had no friends that weren’t caught up in a quagmire of mean girls level political intrigue.

The world is not a kind place for a fat, awkward, loud, precocious teenage girl.

I’ve since met the type of kid I was; bursting with ideas and excitement and OPINIONS about THINGS and FEELINGS and speaking in a LOUD VOICE about everything.  They’ll talk your ear off for hours about their favourite obscure media, they’ll tell you ALL ABOUT the novel they’re working on, how much they CAN’T WAIT to be in college and out of school.  Christ, they can be nightmares.  it isn’t their fault.  They have yet to grow into the massive amount of personality they have developed in just over a decade of existence.

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On the other hand, girls at that age are wonderful.  They can do ANYTHING.  They’re writing novels (albeit mine all had unfortunately problematic gender relations and some slut shaming that I’m not proud of) and poems and getting jobs and buying CDs.  Usually if they’ve navigated through the junior cycle of school without much injury (or too much) at fifteen they’ll be finishing up worrying what other people think of them and asking ‘well what do I think of myself, actually?’  If they’re anything like me, they’ll look at themselves and not like what they see at all.

It’s a rough age for boys and girls (I focus mostly on girls on account of having BARRELS of embarrassing experience.), But I have constructed here a few pointers that I wish I had lived by when I was fifteen.

You are not going to look like that for the rest of your life-  I know your parents and friends will reassure you that ‘you’re lovely!’ every time you express concerns over how you look.  So let me give it to you straight- You probably are a bit weird looking. Everyone is a bit weird looking when they’re fifteen.

We had a femmy lumberjack phase back in ’07

You’re in that uncomfortable stage of looking a bit adult but also still childlike, while acting a bit adult and childish at the same time.  You’ll know what I mean when you look back on photos from this time when you’re 20.  It’s disconcerting, particularly if you’re prematurely articulate and clever. You are also likely to be overweight, suffering from acne, or have braces.  I am telling you that is both

a) totally okay

b) totally temporary

you will not look weird for the rest of your life because as you grow you’ll realize that good looking people are often not the ones with perfectly proportioned features, but simply the ones with a bit of personality.  The ones who are all laughing, smiling, having fun, asking you how you’re getting on.  You cannot imagine the beauty to be found in a pair of bright, alert eyes that are full of fun.  It’s also not the be all and end all to be good looking.  There are worse things to be.  If you’re not happy with your body, tell yourself it’s sleeping.  Be kind to it.  It’s as confused as your head is.

Trust me, the braces will come off, the fat will roll off, you’ll get a nice haircut and discover what clothes actually suit you, and you’ll be looking FAB.

….Most of the time

Listen to the music you like, not what makes you cool. This piece of advice actually comes from a girl who was a few years ahead of me at school who gave me a cascade of useful advice around 2006, and this is probably the best and most long reaching wisdom she gave me. Who you are when you go to school is not going to define you and your relationships for the rest of your life.  Seriously.  It’s fucking brilliant.  But the reason the music advice is so good is part of the reason I love music as a conversation topic- You can bullshit about your favourite bands for HOURS.  You can dissect and analyse and share interpretations for hours, and there’s always more to discover.

Listen to the stuff you like because when you talk about stuff you honestly enjoy, you’ll be more interesting.  People will open up and share what they like.  Don’t subject yourself to bad music- it is in fact damaging to your health (I am not making that up).  Music is something people get passionate about and love discussing, it’s a great conversation topic.  When you find people with similar taste in music, you’ll never feel as alone again.  Best advice I ever got- listen to music you like, not the stuff that makes you cool.  I am an EXPERT in sleeper indie hits on the Top 40 charts, for instance.  If you like it, you don’t have to apologise for it.  Rock bands are at least as over produced as pop music these days, there’s nothing more inherently honest about it.  So yes, go and listen to Born this Way, we’ll be waiting with coffee to discuss.

Cover your bedroom in posters.  You will regret it if you don’t; curate a fucking exhibition of yourself in that room, mark it out as yours.  You will never have such a license to throw whatever you want up on a wall ever again, unless you become an eccentric billionaire.

Nobody gives a shit what you did in secondary school. No, read that again.  None of that shit matters.  Read it again.  NOBODY CARES.  You cannot begin to imagine the pettiness you’ll identify when you look back on your teenage years.  Keep in mind always that school ends- you leave when you’re 18 and you don’t have to meet these people EVER AGAIN.  You can go to college and start over. You only have to keep in touch with the people you want.  This doesn’t give you license to be an arse, but keep in mind that no matter how bad it seems, usually that stuff won’t carry over into college and the real world.

Do things for your personal happiness.  Do things that make you feel good, and understand that it is not your job to only satisfy other people’s needs and whims.  Friendships are about two people enjoying one another’s company.  You’re not anybody’s lap dog, nor are you anyone’s boss.  Don’t do things that make you unhappy.  When you’re fifteen you’re allowed be a bit selfish and live for yourself, so do that!  Try not to be too much of a dick.

Relax.  The way you feel right now?  That’s not how you feel forever.  It’ll return now and then, in dark moments of self doubt and come creeping back, but that’s a temporary feeling.  You’re going to be okay.  You are going to do a lot of things you regret, but that’s okay because you’re allowed.  We have all been there.  We are scarlet for the things we did, said and believed when we were fifteen. That’s not  to say what you believe in and want and feel isn’t important- a lot of things you decide now will stick with you, but not all of it.  You will discard those things you don’t enjoy like a snake sheds skin.  You’re only starting out.  You’re going to be fine.

Oh, and under no circumstances should you wear jeggings.  You’ll be scarlet you ever wore jeggings for SURE.

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Niamh ‘I was quite the looker’ Keoghan

The Titanic drinking game

So today is an ACTUAL bank holiday Tuesday!  Wow, these don’t roll around often.  So as is often my wont, I spent the morning lying in bed, watching the 1997 disaster-histori-romantic-epic that is Titanic.  I have a little maxim which is- If you enjoy something, have the moxie to enjoy it sincerely.  I’m not into this ‘I love it ironically’ business. if you’re enjoying something for it’s badness, then that means you don’t like it- you can enjoy things you don’t like, and you can recognize that the things you do like are flawed and problematic in places.  So I enjoy Titanic.  I enjoy it sincerely, as a decent film, and yet I can also LOLz along at the sillier aspects of the production.  So here I present both my drinking game rules and my sincere fondness for Titanic.

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Type ‘Jack and Rose’ into Google images and you get a solid 5 pages of just these two.

I’ve been obsessed with Titanic since I was little; I am a bona fide hobbyist, growing up in a house filled with books all about the wreck and the social history surrounding it.  I spent many’s a long day playing in the park next to the old White Star line office in Cobh, co. Cork, and seen the rotted old pier from which the passengers of Titanic fetched their boat.  When I was five (which is the point around which I start remembering news events and film releases) the James Cameron film came out.  Back in the day, my parents went to cinema maybe once in five years and we had a collection of about 10 movies on video tape, so my nostalgia is pretty narrow from that era.  I clearly remember the night my parents went with my grandparents to see it in the pictures, and I remember countless evenings sitting down to watch the cassette tape because it was basically the only non-Disney film we had.

So I have seen Titanic countless times, from the age of 5 to 20, and I have to admit I have always wondered why it gets as much hate as it does.  I mean, I’ve heard people call it a shit movie.  I’ve heard people call it the worst thing they’ve ever seen.  I really don’t get this.  I will hold up my hands and admit that it isn’t my favourite film or the best film I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think it gets it’s dues.  So here are three broad things I like about Titanic

1. The Special effects

The special effects in Titanic blew my mind when I was a kid and while they have aged, they’re still stunning.  I would call Titanic the first film of the 21st century style- I know it was pre-2000 and pre- 9/11 but it has the sort of scale and ambition you see in a lot of later films like Lord of the Rings and particularly Chris Nolan fare.  Here the special effects are for spectacle but I think they stand out because they’re based in a familiar world and reality- one of the reasons Avatar didn’t strike me as a special effects MASTERPIECE is because that’s *all* it was.  Once you marvel at the blue people running through a CG forest for a few minutes, it gets boring.  Contrast with say, the motion capture performance Andy Serkis gave for Gollum in Lord of the Rings- the fact that Gollum is inhabiting a world that we can somewhat recognize makes it so much more effective.

2. The performances

Titanic does have something in common with Avatar in that they both have stock stories- Avatar is Pochahontas, and Titanic is a basic inter-class romance that happens to be set on the worlds most ironically marketed ship.  Where they differ is in how these stories are executed and on the basis of screenplay, Titanic blows Avatar out of the water.  It’s just a better told story, performed with better actors.  The cast here all fill their purpose- baby Leo di Caprio idealism-ing it up as the romantic lead, Kate Winslet being all repressed and suicidal, Billy Zane being fantastically evil.

Billy Zane is my undisputed king of ROFLz.

3. The Screenplay

I will defend this mother fucking script.  Fuck everyone I will.

A lot of people get hung up on the love story element of Titanic and I’ll admit, I’ve never seen why.  Sure, it’s a love story.  Is that the only reason it’s bad?  Because if it’s decently performed by an excellent cast, I don’t see the problem.  The tension of a love story usually lies on ‘will they or won’t they get together’ but here the tension is the fact that the audience knows there’s a cosmic deadline of sorts- and so the story becomes not just ‘will the forces of class and society tear them apart’ and rather ‘who’s gonna die, are they gonna live, FUCK an iceberg! etc.’

Kate Winslet gets her own category in the drinking game btw

I have heard the complaint that the film only focuses on two (fictional) people and not on a selection of passengers, like ‘A night to Remember’ does.  Well, firstly if you wanna see a Night to remember, watch freaking a Night to Remember. (no really do it’s a classic film).  I don’t mind anchoring the story on a few people out of 2200 passengers; having an inter class romance also serves to show us the contrast in conditions and lifestyle on the ship.    I’ve seen other movies based on real life disasters and histories that followed just one person- The Pianist, Life is Beautiful, Schindler’s List, the English Patient, Gladiator- and they’re all fine.  I don’t see the problem with focusing on just one set of people.  Besides, the film does have a massive recognizable cast of extras and it’s a bit of a punch when you notice each of them dying as the film goes on.

 

Now, saying I like the movie, I don’t deny it is FULL of bad lines, cliches, tropes and memetic moments.  Keeping this in mind, in the spirit of good fun, I created a drinking game to go along with the film.  Here it is in it’s entirety

THE TITANIC DRINKING GAME

OPTIONAL RULES

Every time the title of the film is mentioned in Dialogue, everyone must cheer and down their drink

Drink every time Jack or Rose get wet

Men- take a drink every time Rose says ‘Jack’

Women- take a drink every time Jack says ‘Rose’

(They say each other’s name a lot; please only play this rule if you want to get really wankered)

TAKE A SIP EVERY TIME-

The movie passes the Bedchel test (2 named women have 1 conversation about something that is not a man)

The Heart of the Ocean theme plays

The modern framing characters say something cynical

There is an ironic ‘this ship will never sink’ line

Frabizio ‘Italian-izes’ a swear word (e.g. ‘Bastardo’, Mother Funkolo’)

a real life character is portrayed on-screen (Bonus points for shouting ‘OH HI <Character’s name>!’ and waving)

You laugh out loud at a cheesy line/Old Rose says something sentimental

KATE WINSLET SHOTS (take a shot of your choice whenever the following happens:)

Kate Winslet’s American accent slips

Kate Winslet has a topless scene (Applicable to any Kate Winslet Movie)

Rose’s mother/Billy Zane say something sexist to Kate Winslet

FINISH YOUR DRINK WHEN

the script has social commentary

you hear trad music on the soundtrack

There is an epic panning shot of the ship as the music swells

 

I won’t go a long way to defend Titanic as the best movie of ALL TIME- I do think it’s got a lot of silly 90s sentimentality on it (Mostly personified by Billy Zane) but it holds up.  I can only ever see the backlash for this movie coming from the fact that it’s a love story, and I just don’t get that.  It’s a decent, if cheesy, movie, and it looms quite large in my personal nostalgia.  Maybe that’s why I’ll defend it and be fond of it, due to childhood nostalgia goggles, but in recent years I’ve still enjoyed it.

If nothing else, the drinking game is fun.

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Niamh ‘You’re not the king of the world, you’re just on the front of a boat’ Keoghan

2012 in review part 2

Happy actual Bank Holiday Tuesday!  The year starting with a Bank Holiday Tuesday strikes me as foretelling a good time ahead.

Okay, so the list of things that I can remember begins to dwindle thin.  I know I left a million things out and was incredibly specific in my memory, but how and ever…  Here’s the tail end of the list.

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Downton Abbey returned to telly and proceeded to fuck shit up in the heads of it’s many fans.  Everyone thought after the graphic and often upsetting to watch upheaval of series 2, set during WW1, Julian Fellowes might have gone easy on us.  It seemed that way during the cosy Christmas special of 2011, and even the opening episodes of series 3 were mostly about financial worries, wedding plans, things being a bit awkward when the Sybs, youngest daughter of the family, arrives back from Dublin with her Irish nationalist baby daddy, and Shirlie McLaine being all catty with Maggie Smith.  Then Julian goes balls to the wall and let’s us know he ain’t fucking around when he KILLS OFF SYBIL.  He kills her off in the most horrifically sudden and upsetting death scene this year.

She’s being a strident feminist in heaven now….

In a world where the plots to the soaps are printed in telly mags every day and spoilers abound, this was honestly shocking.  A death nobody had anticipated at all- there had been the teaser that a major character would die, but all the money seemed banked on Maggie keeling over; Julian even wrote in a cunning red herring with another older female character’s health scare, only to strike at the most beloved and lovely of the cast.  Jesus Christ.

I will never get tired of Sybs absolutely rocking the fuck out of harem pants. RIP

Then the Christmas special made it worth with a gut punching out of NOWHERE car crash killing off beautiful cousin Matthew.  Right after the birth of his son!  Honestly if Downton has taught me anything it is the following

a) two out of three ladies maids should not be trusted, and

b) if you have a child, either you or your partner will die in the 24 hours preceding the birth.

Julian Fellowes is a rotten bastard.  Oh and also

c) Beautiful cousin Matthew gets progressively more beautiful in each successive series he appears in.  </3

*smoulders*

In other telly spoilers, the Ponds said goodbye to Doctor Who in suitable bittersweet fashion, the new companion Oswin made an early bird cameo, and Sherlock STILL isn’t back because of the fucking Hobbit movies.

It was the Summer of the super hero flick, as The Dark Knight rises and the Avengers dominated pop culture and the box office.  It was an interesting contrast of adaption and film making, but both with a clear goal to be the biggest movie of the summer- ask people and they’ll give you different answers depending on which they preferred, but I think the Avengers will be the one which wins out.  The Dark Knight rises simply suffered from following an absolute critical darling of a movie.  I preferred it to the Dark knight because of Anne Hathaway’s subtle and kind of hilarious performance at Cat woman, the best since Eartha Kitt basically codified the role.  I suppose I could draw some parallel between the success of super hero movies the success of Slenderman which I discussed in part 1, as being part of an ongoing obsession we have with end times, chaos and a loss of meaning.  I think the escapism of something like the Avengers and something a bit more cathartic like Dark Knight rises and how they contrast is interesting.  I can’t really articulate anything better than that, hmm..

Here, have a Gif of the Pug avengers

A terrible year for the gun lobby in the US with multiple mass shootings making world headlines.  The recent awful story of Sandy Hook being the latest in a horrific parade; Aurora Colarado saw a mass shooting in a theatre screening ‘the dark knight rises’, cue the moral guardians blaming violent films and TV for the shooting instead of, yknow, the easy fucking access to assault weapons and perhaps even worse the incredibly fucked up gun culture in the US.  Curiously under reported was the shocking shooting at a Sikh temple that killed 7 people, in what a lot of media outlets that did cover the story for about a day called a mistaken attack as the fucker who did it thought the Sikh worshipers were Muslims.

It was an awful year for the Labour Party, but also the year I joined their youth organization, so really they’ve made a net gain.  But seriously with a tonne of defections, resignations and people losing the whip, it’s been tough.  Fine Gael get shit too but in a much more eye rolling sort of way, as if they are acting exactly the way the people expected they would.  Labour suffer from the perception that they have completely abandoned their principles and what my Mam would call ‘the labour way’.  Not helping are some incredibly arrogant radio and TV interviews from Pat Rabbite and that photo of Ruarí Quinn signing a pledge not to increase university fees while in office.  Their quietness around the abortion legislation question and their voting against Clare Daly’s bill twice have been PR disasters.  Like any worth her salt moderate wishy washy lefty, I’m hoping they pick it up for next year.

Internet crazes

Gangam style inexplicably became popular.  Gangam style, socialist anthem of Korea, became a massive hit on youtube where it’s music video has recieved over a billion hits.  People do the dance everywhere.  Glee makes indie tracks like ‘Somebody that I used to know’ into massive worldwide hits.  Parodies of somebody that I used to know’s video reach critical mass.  Cinnamon challenge becomes a you tube phenomenon.  People record the audio taken from a room of those playing that fucking game Slender.  It was the year of ‘The <blank> are coming’, ‘shut up and take my money’ and scumbag steve.  Everybody watched a man jump from the edge of space, possibly wondering if he’d splat, or see the house from Up on his way to the edge of Earth.

2012 was weird

Too much happened this year, but this is literally all I remember.

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Niamh ‘are three downton abbey pictures exessive?  Nah’ Keoghan