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Freshly written bars performed as spoken word. #spokenword #poet #writersofinstagram #writersofig #authorlife #independentauthor #ilovewriting #writerscorner #writersofinsta #writerscommunity #bibliophile #girlboss #blogger #hull #hatecrime #qpoc #poc #solidarity #lovewins #silencehate
Photography by the baddest of badmans, Luke Hallett.
Photography by the lovely Geoff McFarlane.
Photography by the wonderful Stuart Bogg.
I’m sure this will end up in the memoir one day…
21/06/19 – 20:48
I only just stopped wearing your ring a few weeks ago. Not because I’m over it. Because I was starting to see how pathetic it was. You’re moving to the otherside of the world. I couldn’t be happier for you. I know you’ll thrive out there. I’ve been sobbing for almost 20 minutes now. I’m truly pathetic. I can’t help but feel that I’m never going to see you again. But you’ve kindly agreed to meet with me when you’re home in August. I’m overjoyed. I hope its not out of pity. I was very silent that last day in London, when it all bubbled to the surface. I wish I’d have attempted some basic English words to at least try and verbally process, and to understand everything that you were feeling.
I was so desperate for everything to be so perfect so soon. I couldn’t believe that my crush of 5 years was actually dating me. Dates I’d wished to take you on for years were finally a possibility. I rushed things, as usual. I didn’t want you to think for one second that you’d made a mistake. My self-preservation, I have now learnt can easily become emotional manipulation. I’m working on it, I promise. I was forced to do a lot of self-discovery out in Spain, oh god, I think I “””found myself””” – how disgusting and cliché. I came face to face with a multitude of flaws. I don’t think that they reared their ugly head too much at the time, but they certainly had the potential to further down the line. I’m glad that they’re now easily identifiable if I’m ever serious with someone again.
The less I felt reassurance from you, the more I tried to reassure you, the more I felt I had to convince you: 1) that the witch that we met in Nellie’s was onto something, and 2) not to hurt me. Human nature is innately selfish and self-preserving. I despise humanity.
Unknowingly, I was pushing you away as you later told me that you felt it wasn’t fair that you were unable to put in as much effort. My immediate response at the time was that I didn’t mind. But I guess, looking back, effort is reassuring and I crave constant reassurance. I also think you were too harsh with yourself considering the very different lives we were living. I had wonderful times with you, just in your company.
I respect you so much and admire you so much for saying “I need to work on myself. I need to focus on my degree. I need to get this bread. Everything else can wait.”
I still can’t listen to Don’t Dream It’s Over. I’m really pathetic. So Good at Being In Trouble is played at times when I’m okay with feeling sad. I’ve just realised this is the first time I’m processing these emotions since December and I’m starting to feel a little bit sick. I’m feeling a pain I’ve only felt once before.
So many times over the last few months I’ve seen something that you’d love and I so wanted to share with you but I didn’t want to come across as pathetic and intolerable. Of course, I still messaged you a few times, when I couldn’t hold it in. It appears I am pathetic and intolerable.
I have so much to tell you. If only you knew. But I don’t think I’ll ever share this love letter with you.
AS Drama & Theatre Studies Monologue piece: All My Sons by Arthur Miller. Ann Deever in Act 3.
Film project for my ‘Literature and Film’ module at Lancaster University. The short film explores the relationship between mass media and social media. Minority voices are gaining autonomy as authors through social media. I feel like this could have been semi-enjoyable to watch if I actually had filmmaking expertise. Shoutout to badman Luke for the pristine bits of camera work in it. (But if you read the essay, you’ll see that my shoddy, shaky camera work is actually deliberate). Looking back this short film really doesn’t make any sense without the accompanying critical essay so if you can be arsed then pls read it. I apologise for incorrect terminology and minsinformed/harmful critique, I was a baby gay at the time of writing. Also it was probably written the night before it was due so its, acadmeically-speaking, a shambles. Howling at the bibliography – that’s some top quality, in-depth research. How did I pass second year?
How have the roles of the consumer and the producer fragmented over time?
In this critical essay I will explore the relationship between mass media and social media. In my short film, Invisibility, I have juxtaposed postmodern ideas of representation with traditional, hegemonic ideas. Cultural transgression shows that silenced voices are starting to be heard through proliferating technology, such as social media. Bisexual invisibility, or erasure, exists not only within the boundaries of the LGBT community, but corrupts mass media too. The film explores how minority voices are gaining autonomy as authors through social media. Is this merely a fragmenting of traditional roles or a role reversal of the consumer and the producer?
“Film theory during the 1970s and 1980s became increasingly concerned with the relationship between moving images and socially structured forms of inequity…” film was thought of as a “complex system of representation… [that] reinforced the dominant ideology.” Aligning with Marxist theory, it is believed that hegemonic beliefs in a society are perpetuated through media and film consumption. Much like a ruling class is believed to control institutions, economy, culture and politics, this is also paralleled via the form of the moving image. For example, for Hollywood to continue to produce films that are grossly heteronormative, is to reinforce the dominant ideology in society, control culture and conform to this idea of a singularity of truth and identity.
The shots exploring mass media marginalisation in Invisibility, are heightened through the mise-en-scène. I have used a black and white filter, at first, as a means to darken the image and strip away elements of identity, but furthermore, to embody an outdated binary. Sexuality has long been thought of as black and white, heterosexual or homosexual, but this excludes bisexuals, transexuals and a multitude of orientations. The introduction of the Kinsey Scale by Alfred Kinsey in 1948, encourages this idea of a spectrum and multiplicity, and rejects hegemonic black and white.
The use of costume and props such as all black clothing, black tape, sunglasses, bandana and black rope all symbolise repression and silencing. As there is a deliberate absence of diegetic sound in the film, often the audience relies on non verbal communication. However, this is further repressed by the use of restricting visibility and access to the characters’ eyes and mouth. We then desperately look to body language to decipher meaning, but again, the characters are motionless, expressionless and their hands are physically bound by rope. Not only are the characters shackled, they are shackled to one another showing that mass media has the power to marginalise entire groups of people of different demographics.
The silhouette shots censor the characters, mirroring film’s censoring and erasure of bisexual characters, almost as though it were taboo. An example of this is in popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black, in which the protagonist, Piper Chapman, is bisexual, “yet the show treats the word “bisexual” as taboo. In 26 episodes, the word “bi” is uttered one time.” For a progressive show that criticises social inequity constantly, it is disappointing to see this censorship still manifest itself to wide audiences. In the short film, even the shots of the protagonist which explicitly show her love interests as both male and female, there is still an element of erasure. The pairs are holding hands facing each other which is unclear due to the silhouette-esque construction of the shot. Moreover, the only shots portraying any sign of intimacy between the pairs are either facing sideways or with their backs to the camera, and motionless. This is an example of how even when sexuality is explicitly determinable in mass media, there is still a clear rejection of including bisexuality as a queer identity.
The camera remains fixed throughout a large amount of the film, with the exception of tilts and a pan. The camera first tilts down on all of the characters and then individually. This camera movement symbolises the camera (as an embodiment of the moving image form) as superior to it’s subjects. The audience gets a glimpse of the character’s faces before the camera moves downwards in a dominating manner, erasing the identity and value of the characters. The panning movement from left to right showing the characters tied up hands conforms to traditional film language as opposed to an unusual, arguably post-modern right to left pan. This parallels outdated and traditional ideas that are intrinsic to film, similar to outdated ideas of representation and identity.
The only non-diegetic sound in the film is the accompanying pre-recorded mainstream music. Grizzly Bear’s song Knife is melancholic which heightens the colder, more sorrowful first three minutes of the film compared to the jovial latter part. The lyrics act as a substitute for speech and dialogue between characters who have been silenced, both physically and representationally. However, the lyrics themselves are dark and embody the perpetual oppressive tone symbolising mass media. The song only features one verse and a chorus, of which is a repeated “can you feel the knife?”. This lack of the verbal further embodies repressed voices. The slow beat of the song coupled with the melodies evoke a sense of longing and yearning for the character’s identities to escape the confinements of the text and of the form.
Traditional film syntax opens with an establishing shot, however in this short film, the audience are immediately fed short sharp images juxtaposed with close ups of the protagonist, much like the speed at which hegemonic beliefs are fed through mass media. Furthermore, the absence of an establishing shot shows that these characters have not got a place in society or on the screen, they are an abandoned marginalised group.
In contrast to the shots I have aforementioned, I constructed a series of shots to represent social media, in particular Twitter, and it’s power to be progressive. Majority of the shots are filmed using a GoPro as this POV perspective parallels the autonomy given to a producer of social media content. The latter half of the film features multiple locations showing the world as a global village, thus highlighting social media’s ability to reach wide spread audiences instantaneously. Is this the beginning of the dismantling of the moving image form?
The shot of the protagonist on the swing is filmed using an iPhone camera as opposed to the professional camera used for the mass media shots. This shows how the moving image is proliferating in this postmodern era. Recording studios, hiring/buying professional, expensive equipment and software are elements of a bygone era. Tom Gunning states that “film is in the process of being ‘dispersed into a number of new image technologies. The last modern art seems to be dissolving into a postmodern haze’ Technology in the 21st Century has allowed us to transcend traditional barriers enforced by glamorous Hollywood film repertoire and we are now able to be our own producers. We are now able to provide a voice to those that were previously silenced.
The short film is split into two ambiguous narratives, however this split is not precisely even. The first section of the film is the longer narrative to show that despite the emergence of postmodern texts, mass media is still a dominant form. Although, websites like YouTube and FanFiction are beginning to complicate the role of the producer.
The shots are left in colour as this comparatively warmer tone celebrates inclusivity and liberation of minority voices. The protagonist wears two different costumes in the film of a notably stark contrast; in the latter narrative, she is seen wearing white and lighter colours to enhance the notion of visibility. The black tape used to silence the protagonist’s voice in the earlier shots is then used in the latter narrative as a form of empowerment. This is similar to Homi Bhabha’s postcolonial theory on hybridity. Bhabha has been criticised and labelled as controversial but I think that it is important to recognise that empowerment is something arguably personal. He theorises that if the oppressed mimic the language of the oppressor, it can be viewed as an act of resistance and the mimicry can be unsettling. The oppressor then loses their fixed status and traditional hierarchal structure becomes dismantled. The protagonist uses the black tape in the same ‘cross’ formation to place the tweets (symbolised by the Twitter logo) around four different locations, spreading this new found visibility.
The song chosen for the second narrative is the upbeat song, The Less I Know The Better by Tame Impala. Although there is again an absence of diegetic sound, the text from the tweets are the significant elements of language that the audience should engage with. The song title and narrative embodies an ‘ignorance is bliss’ notion. Film industries when dealing with representation are aware of society’s heteronormativity and instead of rejecting it, they conform to it, they would rather reside in bliss ignorance. Using this song is an act of mimicry and mocks mass media for it’s ignorance.
The transitions in between the latter shots, such as, mosaic, cube and puzzle are playful and sporadic. They reject the traditional binary of simply homosexual or heterosexual and introduce multiplicity.
There is a stereotype in film that bisexuals are either hyper sexual or depraved and the film works to reject that stereotype and align with the idea that “they aren’t depraved or polymorphously perverse incarnations of uninhibited sexual mores; they’re just folks who are attracted to both sexes.” The extent of intimacy in the film is innocent and quite the antithesis of hyper sexual and depraved. The protagonist merely enjoys the view with the two acting love interests and intimacy goes as far as holding each other.
“Individuality was replaced long ago… [we] move in and out of different contexts, cultures, and sets of ideas… The postmodern person is thus a hybrid.” Postmodernism explores this idea of a plurality of truths and the hybrid self. This directly aligns to more recent queer theorists who explore the fluidity of sexuality. The protagonist is presented in a combination of shot types; the POV shots and from the spectator’s perspective. The eclectic mix of perspectives parallels this idea of the postmodern person as a hybrid. There is no one self, but multiple selves, just as there is no singular orientation but a spectrum.
The short film hints at postmodernity in the sense of it being self-reflexive, for example, the shot in which a screenplay is being written. It at first appears autonomous, as if the protagonist is writing herself as a minority voice into a moving image. Upon reflection, as the writer reachers the word ‘erasure’, that identity conforms to dominant ideology and is at once erased again.
Another element of postmodernism is hyperreality, which is an “image or simulation… that either distorts the reality it purports to depict or does not in fact depict anything with a real existence at all.” An example of this distorted state of reality is pornography. The representation of bisexuality on the screen is often reduced to films that are strictly of the LGBT genre or in pornography. This is problematic as it becomes less an act of liberation of a repressed voice and more of glorification or fetishisation of the hyper sexual, or the other. In film, especially pornography, threesomes are often portrayed by two females and a male as opposed to the other way round which stems from the innate patriarchal element of film. It is argued that “male bisexuality is a much less comfortable subject for male viewers than female bisexuality. Add to this the belief that female homosexual sex doesn’t threaten a woman’s femininity, but the masculinity of a man who sleeping with another man may be called into question.” Although my film is not depicting a threesome, the protagonist is a female bisexual which conforms to the sexist idea that female bisexuality is a more comfortable identity to portray. The male character’s sexuality is not explicit like the protagonist, so there is a sense of heteronormativity as he is only depicted as having interest in a female. The film explores fragile masculinity which is a contributing factor to bisexual invisibility, especially for males.
Film criticism and various press avoid using the word bisexual, and celebrities are often labelled as either gay or straight. In 2015, actress, Kristen Stewart, who is openly bisexual, was photographed by various news outlets with her new girlfriend, of whom they labelled as her “gal pal” and “best friend”. In mass media there is still a sense of censorship of the bisexual community. Stewart publicly spoke on this erasure stating that she is “just trying to acknowledge that fluidity, that greyness, which has always existed,” The use of black and white in the short film ironically adheres to the mass media’s black and white perspective, but the overall exposure of the issue of erasure is an attempt to highlight the ‘greyness’.
Traditionally audiences were passive but with the emergence of web 2.0, they are starting to be more active. An active audience embodies Roland Barthes’ theory on The Death of the Author. Barthes writes that “you do not know to whom you are speaking, you invent and create silhouettes, but in the end it no longer belongs to you.” Film producers can ‘create silhouettes’ like the silhouettes in the short film, but film as it traditionally began is no longer a finality, audiences now hold significant power and make themselves visible. Social media is not dependent on one single author perpetuating a dominant ideology, it is an amalgamation of multiple authors, cultures, identities and beliefs.
Twitter hashtags such as “#bitwitter” and “#BiBlazer” quickly became trends that reached thousands of users instantaneously. Whilst some used ‘bitwitter’ as a liberating space for coming out, others used it to educate users on bisexual invisibility within the LGBT community, but ultimately, as the film shows it was “encouraging bisexuals to claim online space.” Despite being written out of popular culture and mainstream media, this online space is a limitless sanctuary for the bisexual community to be made visible. The traditional ‘auteur’ is dead, and a multiplicity of authors have emerged.
The TV adaptation of comic book ‘Hellblazer’ faced criticism “when producers hinted at straight-washing the canon bisexual character. The hashtag #BiBlazer blazed with criticisms from lifelong fans and a petition garnered more than 3,000 signatures before the show even aired.” This is the epitome of a postmodern active audience. Before social media, the consumer had limited access to rejecting film hegemony as reviews were left to film critics and academics. Today, Twitter trends such as ‘BiBlazer’ give the consumer a sense of autonomy they have not previously had before. Although the topic of adaptation will always be controversial, scholars conflicting with fans about loyalty to the original text, social media takes this conversation further, as it reaches audiences who are not just concerned with film criticism or have adoration for the text. Social media allows this conversation to be discussed by groups it may indirectly affect. The bisexual community having access to such a Twitter trend, allows them as a marginalised group to be heard and to stand together to reject dominant ideologies.
The protagonist in the short film posts the tweet on a TV screen symbolising resistance to the corruption of mass media. Social media has the power to shape culture in similar ways to the traditional moving image form and dismantle the taboo surrounding the bisexual community.
To conclude, I think that the short film explores how the roles of the consumer and producer have fragmented over time. Whilst there is a presence of role reversal, depicted by the the latter narrative using POV shots and social media to give autonomy to a repressed voice, there is still a fear that mass media controls dominant ideology within society. The juxtaposition of light and dark, melancholic and jovial is an attempt to embody the ‘death of the author’ and the birth of a multiplicity of authors. “Filmmaking in the era of queer theory… evokes a riot of sexual and gender identities that exceeds the definitions proposed by straight society and hints at a more polymorphously perverse future.” Although mass media is a long way from equal representation, the introduction of queer theory into film studies and the emergence of social media as a creative outlet, is a step towards bisexual visibility and inclusivity.
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When I tell you I am scrEAMIn @ baby revolutionary Melissa. The cinematography ., ,,, I ?? Kubrick could nEVER. Background info: back in 2013, I had to write about something I’m passionate about for an audition. I’m so sorry, the delivery is so weaK. THE CHICKEN PHOTO MAKES ME GAG (go vegan, I was young and foolish). THE WHOLE THING NEEDS TO BE YEETED INTO THE BIN but I don’t mind laughing @ myself so enjoy. The poem itself is aight.