Happy Back to the Future Day feat. 2015 is boring

I was born in 1995, not 1989, so I’ve only had 20 years to get ready for Back to the Future day… or 10 years or so if you consider that until my parents showed my brother and I the films, we hadn’t a clue what a DeLorean was. It still flipping crept up though! Like I swear ten minutes ago it was 2006 and I was planning to make a functional hover board in time for this very day… the only things I’ve made since then have been acceptable grades and a Twitter account.

Still, you lot in your 30s upwards have no excuse. Where are the hover boards in the mass market? Why don’t my shoelaces ties themselves up? Why can’t my microwave rehydrate pizza?  And, most importantly, why the fuck is there no holographic Jaws 19? On reflection I shouldn’t complain too much, having seen the Jaws sequels they did do, and we’re getting Star Wars soon, which makes up for it all… In fact, with The Force Awakens, Bush versus Clinton, Jurassic Park, and Terminator, there’s probably not a lot of point bemoaning the lack of self-tying laces, because aside from letting the gays get married and Universal growing a sense of humour, shit doesn’t seem to have changed for 30 years.

And on that note, I have to go write an article about Halloween. Enjoy today, snowflakes, because when you show your grandchildren the trilogy they’re going to freak out that you were alive in 2015…

Enduring Idiocies Legacies

I get more and more like a middle-aged lady every year, but I’m just going to go ahead and ask how it is that it’s May already. I think it was January last week? And Firework Night?

There was a spectacular show of indifferent ignorance on the radio this morning, with presenters from the Today programme asking people if they were voting… some didn’t know who the Prime Minister is. I can’t really complain about that because they do in fact all look the same. But still, Mr Apathetic Citizen, has it not occurred to you that by not voting you have no right to complain about any sort of governmental process? You say that politics doesn’t affect you but that’s just ’cause you don’t know anything about it. Have a sniff around and I’m pretty sure you’ll discover the odd law that dictates your life.

Speaking of laws, I finally watched this film:

(Well I watched it twice because I rented it from the library and I like to get my money’s worth support local services.) It was funnier than I thought it would be… most civil rights-esque stories make me want to cry and throw things. Well I did get a bit sniffly but what was really funny – and I mean this in every interpretation of the word – was that the people who spewed homophobic bullshit in the 1970s are completely identical to the people who spew it now.

It was like when I listened to MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech and kept thinking of Ferguson. A lot of good things have happened in the last three or four decades, but it seems unlikely that the world will ever be completely rid of fuckin’ idiots.

On the plus side, this Thursday we might be able to remove a few of them from public office. I don’t hold out much hope for electing anyone better though… that shit’s stayed in the ’70s.

Moving Image Appreciation Post #9

It’s been a while, and while I was going through my YouTube likes I noticed a pattern.

So, it’s been lovely composing this post (and there’s more), but I have to go back to tapping out words now.

Video of the Week: Take Me to Church

I am superduper busy with work at the moment (a big piece to finish, a smaller-yet-enormous piece and even more research to do for both of them) but I wanted to share this with you real quick.

I flicked on the music channel(s) at lunch just now, because the alternative was dissecting the BBC’s interview with President Assad, and I came in just after this video started. Usually mainstream music videos are either a) okay or b) MCR, but I stopped in my metaphorical tracks to watch this. I’ve rewatched it on YouTube, because I figured I hadn’t seen enough to understand the story, but I still don’t understand the story even though I’ve been jamming along to this on the radio for weeks and thought I had a pretty good grasp of the lyrics.

I have to get back to business now, but if anyone knows if there’s a sequel and/or prequel and/or in-depth interview with the screenwriter, let me know. Did I miss what was in the box? I’m going to watch it again to check.

Saving Face: Beauty is in the Eye of the Purse Holder

The second part of this series was a bit longer than I’d planned (I also didn’t originally plan a series!) so I’m going to keep the next two posts short and sweet… or bitter, depending on your viewpoint. My second question in that first post was about why skincare products are so expensive, and it turns out they don’t have to be, but first of all let’s address the elephant in the pharmacy.

Women have an expense that is considered to be optional and isn’t: we have to use feminine hygiene products (which for some reason are considered a luxury and taxed) so we will pay for them. I had a daydream about what would happen if all woman said ‘I can’t afford them, I’ll go without my tampons/painkillers/chocolate this month’ and the carnage resembled Godzilla. Let’s face it, if menstruating women refused to turn up for work, the economy would break. If we all rioted, every country’s infrastructure would come to a complete standstill. Part of me wants to see it happen.

So we’re already being overcharged for products we can’t not buy. Moving on to the international beauty industry! It’s raking in the cash and expanding all the time: Unilever, which owns Treseme, Lynx, Simple and Dove to name but a few, is a FTSE 100 company. L’Oreal and Estee Lauder are ‘increasing focus’ on the Indian market. In China, the cosmetics industry is estimated by the Economist to be worth $26 billion per year, and growing, although Revlon is halting business there… possibly because despite China’s enormous market, Chinese law requires all products to be tested on animals, which can put Western customers off (I don’t think Revlon is catering to the needs of the baby rabbits who shouldn’t wear mascara… more like their bank balances). Getting back to the unnecessary expense of products, there is another proverbial sexist elephant:

Apparently women in the States pay $1300 per year more for cosmetics than men, even though they are paid a lot less. It’s daylight robbery, innit, especially if you use products a lot.

Thankfully there are ways to beat the fuckers at their own game and save cash without forgoing your own beauty standards. For starters, since the Internet, people have been able to share their expertise and money-saving tips a lot more easily. The Beauty Truth is a blog that tests products and reviews them in a way that normal people can actually understand. (They also pointed out – and blew my mind in the process – that pump-action bottles last longer than the standard ones because you can’t empty the bottle’s entire contents in one go.) A More BeYOUTtiful You is another site which shares beauty tips but doesn’t make me feel like I’m being talked down to by a snob. Plus there are also little ways to save when you’re actually out shopping, and they’re stupidly obvious once you learn them – like buying men’s razors instead of pink ones, or substituting shop-bought products for homemade ones. I’ll talk more about that in the next post…

In the mean time, if any of you discover a way to cut down the price of tampons, let me know. We can save (and probably take over) the world together.

** Update, 06/02/15 ** There’s a UK petition to ask the government to exempt tampons from tax, so if you’re UK-based and you’d like to make George Osborne uncomfortable while attempting to instigate governmental change, go here.

Saving Face: Girls Girls Girls (and everyone else)

The first question I asked last week when I started the Saving Face project was about gender inequality in the skin care industry. Things might be a bit different for children and preteens now, but here is a brief summary of how I understood things in primary school:

Girls wore products and makeup as a rite of passage in our teens even if it pissed off our conservative parents and even if we were much more interested in spending time and money on things we actually gave a shit about. If we didn’t, we were tomboys and/or lesbians. If we wore a lot of visible products when we were young, we were slappers. Boys shouldn’t wear make up because it’s effeminate, so if they did they were gay. They should, however, take pride in their masculinity and buy products to look like a proper dude.

Aside: did anyone else have the playground rumour that boys having a pierced ear on a certain side made them gay?

Thank God for rock ‘n’ roll… and exposure to the Internet. Men can use products. Women don’t have to. The gender binary is actually a spectrum, and cosmetics shouldn’t be gender-specific because a man will not morph into his wife if he borrows her face cream, and a straight woman will not turn gay if she starts using men’s razors (she will, however, save a lot of money. More on that in the next post).

I’m less inclined to buy into early-2000s school gate ignorance now, but my biggest issue with cosmetics has lasted for years, and I’m not sure if it’s a gender equality issue or just me. Remember when Ellen and Isobel gave me a makeover? It was a lot of fun, but I resented hints that I should always straighten my hair, or wear make up more regularly. The way compliments about how I look get phrased always seems to be “you look great with that make up/hairstyle/clothes on, you should wear it all the time!” Wait, so I don’t already look great? I’m way too stubborn to cave into those implications (especially when it’s from friends and family who are paying me compliments that I might just be incapable of receiving) but pressure from friends and family can have a detrimental effect. Maybe it’s not just me, because someone’s even made a video about it:

This post was nearly done, but then I went on the ‘natural hair’ Tumblr tag and found this (along with some brilliant examples of afro hair):

BLACK shesgotsomuchsoul.tumblr.com

It made me sad, because it’s true. We are all taught to be dissatisfied with what we have so we’ll pay to change it. Women seem to be targeted more, and at risk of sounding like a disenchanted radical, I reckon it harks back to that pesky opinion that men are naturally perfect and women naturally inferior. But it’s evolved into a race inequality issue, because the companies selling products need to make us all feel as though there is something wrong with our natural aesthetic, so we’ll be willing to pay for something new. We’re made to want what everyone else has while despising what we have.

The funniest part is, we can dye our hair or wear a product to express ourselves, to tell a story, to make us feel more confident. If you’ve got acne that you dislike or hair somewhere that makes you shy or insecure, you can buy concealer or get hair removal. But what they don’t tell us is that you should do it because you want to look good for you. Not for a boyfriend who wants you to shave your bikini line, not because an advert has implied you’ve got the wrong hair type or skin colour, not because friends of family have hinted they prefer one ‘look’ over another. The writers over at Rookie are doing an amazing job of explaining and demonstrating that cosmetics are a brilliant way to help you be yourself, but that attitude seems pretty limited to the Internet.

I feel like I’ve asked more questions than I’ve answered. Why aren’t all women of all races, or backgrounds, or hair types or whatever, telling the media and social opinion to go fuck itself and concentrating on complimenting each other’s natural look?  Am I overreacting to people’s compliments when I do my hair differently? Are men targeted by the cosmetic industries as much as women? I can only speak from experience as a cisgender girl (told you I read up on the spectrum!). I kind of feel like companies use consumers’ ignorance (and maybe indifference, actually) to sell products we don’t need, and it’s fueling social inequality.

Peddling Wares

There’s been a weird influx of Etsy sales this week, which I’m very pleased about – but I’m also scratching my head as to whether my marketing tweaks are paying off or if people suddenly want to buy fan art as Christmas presents. Either way, it’s very gratifying!

I remembered when I was going through my shop that The Little Book of Indifferent Ignorance Volume I is on there! I have no immediate plans to compile Volume II, so if you fancy a good read over the Christmas holidays, I encourage you to head over there and use the SNOWFLAKE14 Christmas discount before it expires on 31st January. Alternatively, send it to friends and family for a good laugh – spot Uncle Victor’s annual racist Christmas rant in the pages, or reminisce about your homophobic grandmother as you click through the pages with your cousins…

Or email it to UKIP.

This afternoon I finished my Christmas shopping, and I don’t even think I’ve bankrupted myself. I mean, I don’t usually – I’m not that generous – but I’d forgotten that it is actually possible to get a bargain if you plan what you want instead of striding around the high street tearing your hair out.

Still, at least I didn’t do my shopping in Brighton. (Maybe if you’re under the age of 13 you shouldn’t watch this. Also it may be faked. I don’t care.)

Reality TV and Smaug Being a Diva

I don’t know about you lot, but I am both nervous and excited for the Strictly Come Dancing results show tonight. Possibly because sparkly dancing and bright lights are the best things ever, and partly because if the final is next week then Christmas is the week after.

Less than two weeks. 

I need to do some more shopping… and maybe get a haircut, and definitely write the Indifferent Ignorance Awards and partially move house and also do some rigorous physical exercise because I went out and ate my weight in food yesterday.

I was so full when I got home that I couldn’t manage my advent chocolate, which is always a sign that I need to bust out some dance moves and the hula hoop. Still, the reason for the food was justified:

I didn’t go out to watch a YouTube video. But I did go see The Battle of Five Armies (“oh my goodness Francesca I can’t believe you made that connection!”) and it was brilliant so I might eschew everything else I have to do before Christmas and just go and read The Lord of the Rings, taking brief breaks to wonder if it’s possible for anyone else to create a fictional world that’s half as beautiful.

Let’s assume not.