R.I.P Hannah Montana

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CS46651666NEW-YORK-NY-AUG-2223063Image – themirror.co.uk

Miley Cyrus. Ahhhh Miley. Miley Miley Miley.

What can I say? By now most of you will have seen and/or heard about her somewhat… different MTV VMA performance. We saw a lot of flesh, a lot of grinding and a hell of a lot of “twerking”.

I get it. We’ve seen it a hundred times over. A young star grows up in the limelight. Gets older. Finds themself. Becomes edgy and dangerous. Shows some skin. Sings raunchy lyrics. Screams at the world “Hey, look at me everyone! I’m not a Disney child star anymore!”

But this was too much.  Perhaps if a deeper meaning emanating from the visual was apparent it would have been watchable. But simply put; Miley Cyrus’s performance was controversial for controversy’s sake. It bordered on pornographic at times. There was no hidden, deeper meaning and there was no artsy, cultural message. If there was, what could it be but “Oh god, what the hell has happened to our generation?”

I suppose in reality Miley is entitled to behave how she pleases, as is any other 20-year-old girl. But when she is in her position – knowingly a role model for young people who got her where she is today, I cannot imagine how she thinks that performance was a good idea. Seemingly she doesn’t care what with such an obvious and desperate attempt to flaunt her assets, shed the mickey mouse affiliation and show the world just how grown-up she is (ironically a very childish way to go about it, really).

If she doesn’t care about any young fans that may (god forbid) still look up to her, doesn’t she have any care as to how she is portrayed in terms of maybe trying to maintain a least a teeny tiny slither of dignity? Apparently not, I think that ship has sailed, hit an iceberg and sunk already. It is difficult to judge her for the lack of clothes since that is just something that has just evolved as the norm in modern pop culture (although the nudeunderwear was pushing it, surely?) but the gestures that occurred (mainly with the foam hand) were frankly crude and embarrassing and totally unnecessary. I personally find it somewhat wrong that she is making a living out of repeatedly portraying herself as someone with no self-respect.

Ok Miley, we get the point now dear. You are soooo old and you’re so over Disney and you’re so edgy and weird and wow you have a good body and oh my you can “twerk” and oh look good old Miley likes sticking her tongue out and OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU STROKING YOUR OWN VAGINA.

The worst part is she is masking and drawing attention away from her talent. She has a great vocal ability but unfortunately that pretty much took a back-seat to dancing teddy bears and a tendency to grab her crotch. A lot.

A lingering thought I have, though, is that it’s not really Miley’s fault. Of course, we are all in control of our own actions and she knows exactly what she is doing. But would she behave in such a way had she not been shoved into the limelight by her parents at a young age? It is about time parents thought long and hard before letting their child become famous as a youngster, and if they do, protect them and educate them well so that later down the line they don’t have to face the things that we continuously see child stars going through.

First article on The Daily Touch

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I recently applied to write for the website The Daily Touch. This is a light-hearted and comedic online publication full of articles written by students and graduates for other students and graduates and features of lot of content such as student and graduate life, fashion and beauty, music, TV and science amongst many others.

The Daily Touch is produced by GradTouch, a website that offers job application advice, job opportunities for graduates and CV support.

I was delighted to have been successful in my application and will be writing for the ‘Student Life’ and ‘Sex and Relationships’ sections of the website. This is a very exciting opportunity for me as I have been wanting to gain more journalism work experience for a long time so as to nurture and develop my skills. This comes at a perfect time as I am about to start my third year at University and will graduate next June.

I will be submitting one article weekly and with help from the websites friendly and helpful editor and my lovely and supportive boyfriend, I have thought of a few topics already. My first article comes at a time when A-Level results have recently been received therefore many students will be off to start their first year at University in September which opens a window of opportunity in regards to content I can write.

My first article is entitled ‘Horrible Halls Habits: 5 of the worst ways to be an unpopular flatmate‘.  If you have a read I hope you enjoy it and thank you for the interest!

I am really looking forward to continuing to submit articles for the Daily Touch and will post each week when my article goes live.

Wrong Direction

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One Direction in US charts
Image – unrealitytv.co.uk

The youth of today and their emphatic and obsessive love for celebrities seems to gain momentum at a steady pace. The internet, and in particular micro blogging site Twitter, has made it extremely easy for young people to feel connected to their favourite popstars at all times and share their extreme passion with many other fans.

Following a celebrity or a band equates to being impassioned thus having something that happiness can be derived from and should be a great thing for our young people. But it seems to have reached levels of which could never have been imagined and it could actually be turning into something more dangerous than anyone may have thought possible.

Last night Twitter blew up due to a documentary about One Direction. #THISISNOTUS and other such things were trending on the site due to ‘directioners’ being unhappy with Channel 4’s documentary “Crazy About One Direction” and the way in which it portrayed them. Whilst fandoms normally see themselves as a united entity this idea was contradicted when some fans were viewed highly infavourably on the show and scores of one direction followers took to  Twitter to express their anger at the programme.

Those that starred in the documentary were certainly the cream of the crop when it comes to hardcore fans with some concerning and even scary tales of dedication to the band, including one 17 year old girl getting braces just to be like band member Niall Horan and a 14 year old girl openly admitting she sent singer Taylor Swift death threats on Twitter after allegedly dating Harry Styles and claiming if she met her she would “rip her eyes out and stamp on them”.

The trends continued through the night and were still present this morning along with #RIPLarryShippers. “Shipping” was explored in the Channel 4 documentary last night and is a phenomenon whereby fans enjoy seeing a particular pairing together. Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson appear to be a fan favourite for many, with some just appreciating them as friends or as a bromance and others going so far as fantasising that they are in a sexual relationship. The pair are nicknamed “Larry Stylinson”. After clicking on this trend, reading through the tweets was horrifying.

It is being stated that “Larry” fans have committed suicide due to a combination of being hurt by the documentary and non “Larry” shippers lashing out at those fans seemingly because of the negative representation they’ve invited of the fandom. Tweets included: “Today, we shall remember the 28+ Larry Shippers that committed suicide”, “14 Larry Shippers Died. This is sad.” and “42 larry shippers have died what this has to stop.” Other fans told “Larry” shippers: “I will throw you off your “ship” and you will drown and die” and “To all Larry shippers…DIE.”

There has been no evidence to confirm such allegations and some tweets suggest that the whole thing has been falsified to get back at channel 4 for airing the documentary. However, what is most saddening is that after having read these young peoples tweets and coming across a ‘Larry’ shippers Twitter page with goodbye messages, it is actually a possibility that one or more fans may have genuinely turned to suicide. Whilst I can only speak from a plateau of uncertainty I am horrified that extreme love for a band combined with bullying online because of it may have caused this. It is absolutely unthinkable and yet it could be happening in front of our very eyes.

We can only hope that no young fans have felt the need to take their own life. But even if they haven’t, we must question why it is that a plethora of young people are even entertaining the thought of suicide. Half of the fanbase appears to be mourning losses whilst the other half are telling people to die… it is completely unacceptable, what the hell happened to the younger generation?! Whilst I will not patronise them by suggesting they should be wrapped in cotton wool throughout their lives and I do not naïvely believe some young people aren’t stricken by terrible things everyday, the issue here is that hundreds if not thousands of young people have been party to such a sensitive topic.

Many fans have wrote on Twitter that they are in tears, some genuinely believing more than 40 people have committed suicide and it is heart-breaking to think that young people are dealing with these kind of emotions. This is again without even knowing whether anyone actually has committed suicide, which of course would make it all the more tragic. I do not mean to look upon young people as inferiors, because we were all young once and I certainly remember having my boy-band obsession phase. But that phase reaped positive benefits with many happy memories. I myself have waited hours just to catch of glimpse, but that’s been going on for years. Not once did I find myself enveloped in such a serious and scary situation such as this.

It seems to me that this situation must be addressed. Parents need to do more to monitor their childrens activity online – where on earth are they whilst their daughter has free reign to tell another person to go die or is crying because she thinks 40 or more people who she considers part of a family have died? Or when they are using Twitter all day attempting to hear a response from 5 boys that amass over 60 million followers between them?

Our education system needs to seriously consider introducing awareness of social media, its dangers and the importance of not bullying online into their syllabus. Online bullying needs to be looked upon just as seriously as any other form of bullying as recent examples provide all the evidence we need that this is the case. It seems that modern media has intensified what can already be a frenzied obsession. Twitter provides the fans with an instantaneous albeit false connection with their beloved boy-band. Girls simply beg for acknowledgement in the form of a reply, retweet or a follow, some threatening to kill themselves if they don’t get noticed by their idols. 

Some responsibility falls onto One Direction and their management to make sure they act as the role models these teenagers so desperately seem to need. If they were not aware before of their twisted hold on thousands of young girls, then they sure are now. Many comments in the twitter trend stated how the band were not there for them during and after the documentary was aired, as none of them tweeted support for the fans leading them to feel worse.

I also believe Channel 4 hold some responsibility. Their documentary was a poignant insight into a modern obsession with a boy-band and the very nature of what that showed should have been enough to make them aware of the fact it would likely upset thousands of fans. Whilst it may not be the done thing this was a sensitive case and a warning before the programme or when it was advertised that it could upset fans of the band may have been a course of action to consider.

Looking forwards, I can only hope that no fans did actually take their lives in the course of these events. There is no telling the pain that would be felt among their families and friends and what the confirmation would do to the thousands of fans and the rippling effect it could have on their mentality.

Covering up the lads’ mags

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295306_411118635590939_183412433_nImage – Sharepirate.com

In recent times mens’ magazines have drawn a vast amount of debate and attention from the media. The scantily clad females that adorn the covers of magazine such as FHM, Nuts and Front are causing a different kind of stir (ahem) after being targeted by the ‘Lose the Lads’ mags’ campaign. This movement calls for supermarkets and newsagents to remove the magazines from their shelves because they ‘promote sexist attitudes and behaviors’ and ‘normalise the idea that it’s acceptable to treat women like sex objects’ according to the campaign’s website. It has support from charities including UK Feminista and Object whom have obtained legal advice which put the mags in a very tricky position. According to top UK lawyers, retailers could face legal action for displaying the magazines in workplaces and requiring staff to handle them as this could amount to sexual harassment or discrimination in breach of the Equality Act 2010. In all honestly I find this to be feminism gone mad (It’s fine, I’m a woman, I’m allowed to say that). How on earth can one say with any conviction that a member of staff stocking the shelves with a lads’ mag is sexual harassment or discrimination? Unless the women are jumping from the pages and forcing their breasts in your face or forcing you to take pictures with your jugs out, then the odd member of staff stocking shelves who don’t really like lads’ mags much is not enough of a reason to take them off the shelves nationwide. That would set a ridiculous precedent whereby anything remotely sexual could be seen as discriminatory just because an employee can catch sight of it or has to touch it and put it on a shelf. Perhaps female workers everywhere will revolt when stocking sexy lingerie because they can see a poster of a woman endorsing the product, or maybe extremist left wing employees will refuse to stock the Daily Mail and anything else that goes against their own ideals … where does it end? The campaign is surely offensive to the slew of women who choose to be glamour models. The rather unflattering phrase ‘dehumanised sex objects’ has been thrown around a lot. These women are not held at gunpoint to be photographed. It is their career choice, much as other women choose to be doctors and lawyers. Does the very essence of the campaign not somewhat go against the values of women’s equality? Women should be free to pursue the career of their choosing without facing their livelihoods being threatened because the magazines they are in are forced to withdraw sales. If it is a career that empowers women, makes them feel sexy and confident, fully aware that many hundreds of men will look at it, who is anyone to say that they are not allowed to do so? Of course, there is the long-standing issue of the impression that the younger female generation garner from such publications in terms of self-esteem and over-reaching for airbrushed models of perfectionism. But the fact is, young children should not be left alone in a supermarket to browse through these magazines anyway. Yes, they may notice the cover images but an independent review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood showed  there 
is no clear evidence of a causal link between sexualised images on the covers of lads’ mags and harm to young people. There is a huge amount of material on an array of media outlets that could potentially lead to young girls having self-esteem issues or being objectified. It seems as though lads’ mags are being used as a scape-goat because they are an easy target. Amidst pressure from the campaign, supermarket chain the Co-Op will be placing lads’ mags in ‘modesty bags’ so that they are hidden from view. But what about the women’s glossies that feature celebrities in states of undress on their covers – will they be covered too? No, didn’t think so. Tesco have also struck a deal with the lads’ mags whereby Nuts, Zoo and Front have agreed to tone down their cover images and the magazines will be on the top shelf with just the titles on show. But that’s not enough for the campaigners who say they should be taken out full stop. This is where I disagree – if kids cannot see the magazines then surely there is no problem, as informed adults we can make their choice as to whether they want to buy the magazine or not, rather than turning it into some seedy under the counter business. If lads’ mags are to be held accountable for their content and what it does to children, should we not also reprimand record labels and film companies who expose children to explicit content on a much wider and more accessible level than lads’ mags ever could? At least lads’ mags appreciate the female form and the women consent to show it off. Women’s magazines are full of pictures of women in bikinis being papped whilst just trying to enjoy their holidays. Successful glamour model Lucy Collett advocated the lads’ mags in a debate on the BBC on Sunday Morning Live. Lucy is a size 12-14 and shows it off because she’s proud of her figure and wants young women to know that it’s okay not to be stick thin. But gossip magazines point out every flaw in female celebrities – they’re too fat, they’re too thin, they have cellulite, they dared to go out without make up on. Or what about the women’s magazines that advertise the latest fad diet or how to get a man? Does this kind of coverage not objectify and pick apart women and force us to wonder what we should look or be like to be socially acceptable? Not only that, this campaign appears to force all men into a box. As though every male that purchases a lads’ mag is some kind of sex beast with the potential to commit acts of violence or rape, which is as offensive as it is ridiculous. There has been no differentiation whatsoever between the average Joe that buys the magazines for a little innocent titillation and men who genuinely view women as playthings to be objectified. As such, do the hundreds of women who ogle at topless men in magazines or online deserve to be tarred with the same brush? An appreciation for the human form is not the same as degradation.

Of course there’s a minority of men who purchase these magazines who do view women in a derogatory way. But we are a complex species and it is highly reductive to say that a woman pictured in her underwear is the sole reason a man has negative attitudes towards them. Women can also treat men badly, but the plethora of images of the male body on show have not been put about as the reason for such behaviour. If any blame is to be placed on the poor treatment of women by men then surely we should first look at our education system and parenting skills and understand why they are not preventing such things.

This whole thing is patronising. We are not weak, fragile creatures that need to be protected and saved from the big bad world. We are strong, independent women and we will get our boobs out in magazine if we so please, just as men can get topless in magazines without question! If there are still issues surrounding the treatment of females by men perhaps we should begin to target the issue at its core rather than strangle-holding something we believe is fuelling it therefore punishing men who buy the magazine for a bit of fun and the glamour models who choose to be photographed for it.

The focus should surely be on educating our younger generation to respect each other irrelevant of gender or job and teach them the difference between imagery and reality so as to make informed and intelligible decisions about the content they wish to consume. It should not be on making men and women feel like they are doing something wrong by exploring the carnal and instinctual desires instilled in them at birth that ultimately relate to the worlds most natural and important physical process of reproduction.

Will Sun+ sink or swim?

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Today Britain’s top-selling newspaper the Sun have launched their brand new online service Sun+. Sounds a little familiar, does it not? Perhaps they could hire Beckham for endorsement to really set themselves apart.

Initial cynicism aside regarding a ridiculously unoriginal name, it actually sounds quite good. Sun+ is a digital subscription package that will turn their online website into a paywall (boring journalistic term alert – it’s basically a system whereby webpage content cannot be accessed without paying money).

The paper has rather boldly described the service as ‘a whole new world of digital entertainment’.  But can it actually live up to that kind of hype? Well, good old Sun boss Rupert Murdoch has certainly pulled out all the stops for it. Well, not all hopefully. There’s a limit. I’m not sure anyone told him that for some time.

For £2 a week Sun+ subscribers can visit the website and will have access to all sorts of digital content, some of which is fairly innovative compared to most paywall systems out there. There will be access to a variety of mobile apps, including the Sun Bulletins, the Sun Classic App and the Sun Mobile App with Sun Scan which is ‘an augmented reality platform that turns content from the newspaper into videos and animations’ according to the Sun+ website.

There is also Sun+ Perks, which is offering users discounts from retailers and for holidays as well as free downloads of… well, it isn’t quite clear what, yet. Maybe I should sign up! The Sun+ Perks seems like a particularly clever part of the package as it offers a real incentive to spend your money on the product if you are getting something back.

It all sounds quite good, really. Perhaps I might forgive them for naming it Sun+ because it sounds like a lot of hard work went into this initiative and seemingly there were roughly 480 other things to name.

You can almost see it now. Everything is in place, apps are developed, subscription is set up but the service is still nameless. Weary employees are bouncing ideas back and forth in the boardroom to no avail until “Oh my god. Guys. Guys. I’ve got it… we just ADD A PLUS.”

Genius.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the new service is its Sun+ Goals feature. A guardian article states the paper paid an astounding £30 million for the Premier League highlights to offer clips to their subscribers. The same article speculates that the Sun+ will need to gain 250 000 subscribers for this. They will also need to gain a substantial amount of subscribers for the loss of online advertisers because said advertisers won’t pay for their products to be endorsed when web traffic drops.

It remains to be seen whether the Sun will recoup its losses but with the generous amount of content offered, the paper has definitely given itself a fighting chance. There is certainly some commendation to be extended for taking such a giant step into the digital age and creating so much mobile content, especially considering it is a big gamble as traffic dropped considerably when another Murdoch owned paper the Times was put behind a paywall in 2010.

It seems, though, that this was just a natural step as Sun editor David Dinsmore told Sky News that “asking readers to pay for content is the only way to protect the future of the newspaper industry”. A broad and somewhat confusing statement as this could imply that charging for web content means more papers will be purchased, but I assume he means charging for Sun+ will mean the company has more money to put into and improve their newspapers.

At any rate it will be interesting in the coming weeks and months to see just how well Sun+ does and how many subscribers it attracts and thus how much money it makes. After all, they have a £30 million loss to make up for. Best not hire David Beckham to advertise after all, he’s far too expensive. Plus they surely wouldn’t want to be seen as copying anything Sky has done…