Black Lives Matter

To say that 2020 has been a turbulent year so far would be a grievous understatement. Alongside the WW3 scares, Australia’s wildfires and a devastating worldwide pandemic there has been a mass outcry for change and justice, sparked by the wrongful murder of George Floyd.

Following this murder of George Floyd, a massive surge of support for the Black Lives Matter movement has spurred on demonstrations against police brutality all around the globe.

Protesters attending Glasgow Green on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

Black Lives Matter is a movement that was born from the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2013, utilising the #BlackLivesMatter on social media to spread awareness. It takes inspiration from the civil rights movement and the centuries-old suffering of black people under systematic racism. This movement isn’t confined to America either, on Sunday, thousands attended a protest in Glasgow Green to show solidarity. 

Social media has been instrumental in circulating important petitions and information regarding protests, the Facebook page for Sunday’s event included upwards of 13,000 likes. However, many people have used social media to post comments they would never utter offline.  

Various comments such as “Rampant Criminality”, “Just bored thugs looking to destroy something” and “Selfish, they won’t care as much then they catch the virus” were all comments circulating on social media concerning the BLM movement. These all disregard how important it is to reject the current systematic racism that occurs in everyday life.

For those that have suddenly become concerned with those breaking lockdown rules, where was your anger when people hosted street parties in celebration of VE day? Where was your rage when on the hottest day of this year, thousands flocked to beaches to sunbathe? 

It is not a matter of the Coronavirus pandemic being more significant than the BLM movement or vice versa. Both are extremely important to be educated about and relevant. Still, it stands that injustice against black people has been a problem for centuries and is consistently and conveniently swept under the carpet.

To those that are filled with outrage with the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol, why? He was a slave trader, responsible for the deaths of thousands while in transit and was the catalyst for the sufferings of many thousands more. How is having a statue of him honourable and respectful in sort of way? 

It is our duty to be involved and educated about these matters. We must know the lives that have suffered due to a system that we acknowledge and actively try to change it. 

As a white person myself, it is crucial that I am mindful of infringing on POC and Black voices and experiences and instead listen and uplift black communities, businesses and organisations. It is so important to say something and to take action, as to sit in silence and ignorance would only aid this racist system.

Here is a helpful resource for non-black people to get involved with https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co and if you are unable to provide monetary support, stream these video which donates all ad revenue to black organisations and bail funds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slbNdBuQzKw&t=4s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NokTSpMH44A


LadyBird: A Review

This was a coming-of-age film recommended to me by my sixteen-year-old sister, it is something that she is extremely passionate about; it moved her.

Christine “Ladybird” McPherson is a confused, naive know-it-all that is convinced she is entirely unique, something that many teenagers know far too well. She is self-centred, obnoxious and continuously trying to become a romanticised version of herself. Ladybird makes numerous mistakes, and it is through these mistakes which you really see the charm of this film. Throughout the film, she navigates the awkward age of eighteen, the trials and errors of living on the cusp of adulthood but never really understanding what it is like until she experiences it.

“It’s Not Important To Be Right. It’s Only Important To Be True.” – Father Leviatch

Technically speaking, it is a good film. It’s shot well, almost lovingly by Greta Gerwig and its clear to the audience that it was her own coming of age story. Certain moments hit the benchmark of gravitas in a beautifully satisfying way, a handful of incomplete letters says a lot more than any witty dialogue. 

However, I couldn’t help but shake that feeling that I’ve missed something. The passion that my sister described this with, the idolisation she has for this film, is not there for me. 

This is not to say this film doesn’t have its highlights. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf’s portrayal of a messy mother-daughter relationship is glorious. Various moments throughout the film show the complexity, the airport scene and last scene, in particular, are incredibly realistic and meaningful. However, what really drives the relationship is that familiar push-and-pull of Ladybird and her mother, the snippy almost mean comments moments before sincere love is a beautiful foil for the overarching theme of contradiction. It is these contradictions that allow “Ladybird” to grow throughout the film, she’s changing, and under all the pretentious blustering she has no idea who she’s going to be and what will happen. 

It is a poignant gesture that my sister recommended this to me. I may not be able to experience it to such a passionate degree as her; however, I can clearly understand the sentiment of the recommendation. 


Lost In Translation: A Review

Seventeen years on from the cinematic release of Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation” and this film has only gained more relevance in our modern age. As much as it can be considered a caricature of Japanese culture, the bright lights and overstimulating culture shock of Tokyo only adds to the theme of loneliness running through the very veins of this film. The cinematography wonderfully illustrates this, the beautiful way the scenes are lit and the various shots of the neon and bustling Tokyo depicts why the bond between these two foreigners in a confusing land is so poignant.

The performances from Bill Muray and Scarlett Johnasson are what drives the narrative. Muray stars as the ageing Bob Harris, a washed-up actor with a crumbling marriage and who is in Japan to film a commercial. Johansson’s Charlotte is also in Japan, young and having just graduated she is supporting her husband John, a celebrity photographer. She finds herself struggling with his lifestyle and the stale nature of their marriage.

“Let’s never come here again because it would never be as much fun” – Charlotte

A series of chance encounters occur, leading Bob and Charlotte to meet and then grow closer with each shared experience. The dialogue between them is special in its simplicity, the subtleties of what they don’t say speaks volumes of their confusion and raw exhaustion with the tedious world that they live in.

This is not to say the film is faultless, the pacing in the first half is often a bit slow and the obvious complaints of xenophobia regarding the portrayal of Japanese culture are a major blight on this film. However, what this film does to a brilliant degree is connect deeply with the viewers’ own sense of melancholy. It is clear that Coppola’s directing and script deserve clear merit for being able to demonstrate the connection between these two neglected souls and why this matters to the audience. We are able to recognise the monotony of our own lives through these characters, able to empathise with the magic of being truly understood. That is what makes this film special and well worth watching.

Virtual hand-holding for the Modern Parent.

In a world of constant notifications and social media streams, the age of those obtaining smartphones is getting younger and younger. With popular TV shows such as “Black Mirror” and “Mr Robot” foretelling our downfall with regards to our screen addictions, it is becoming the norm that the line between fiction and our reality is blurred. Nowadays, even toddlers have their own Instagrams and twitter accounts. This raises multiple issues on how to monitor and keep children safe in terms of online and offline. One surge of applications that has taken the app store by storm is child tracking apps. These apps turn your child’s phone into a portable GPS device and allow you to track and monitor your child’s whereabouts. For example, it could be useful for keeping your child out of possible trouble if you know they are not staying at their friends’ house but are out drinking at the local park. However, the ease of mind these apps can often provide comes at a price and it’s not just a monthly bill to your iTunes account. Privacy is a commodity that is becoming rarer and rarer these days due to the addictive lure of social media, these tracking apps can further infringe on children’s privacy without their consent. Additionally, if your child finds out you have been covertly observing them then their trust in you may become broken. 

Most of these child tracking apps are free however some have additional features that are locked behind certain pay-walls that are billed per month or once a year. One of the most popular free apps in this category is “Find My Kids”. The app has over 1,800 ratings and reviews and most are completely favourable. Features of this app include notifications when children go to a frequent location (home, school, etc), history of where they have walked, direct audio from your child’s phone and an SOS-signal where your child can send you one if they feel they are in danger.

Safe parenting or Orwellian form of control?

However, there’s a bigger problem with privacy concerning these apps. Many parents overlook the lengthy terms and conditions of these when they should be extra vigilant. When the data concerning an individual child is recorded, it is stored within the company for an indeterminate amount of time to analyse current trends. This means at their discretion, LLC “Refresh”, the owners of “Find my Kids” can use the GPS data and numerous other personal information from certain cases for their testing purposes. Thankfully with these particular app developers, it is stated that disclosure of personal information to any third parties will not occur unless it is required by law or court order.

 Nevertheless, many of these free child tracking apps sell data personal data to third parties to generate revenue. Should this data become de-anonymized, it could seriously put a child at risk. This means that details of payment, home addresses and even your child’s current location may be bought and sold.  Furthermore, a 2014 study by the security firm Symantec concerning tracking apps found that phones that don’t appear to be traceable can still be wirelessly tracked, as a result of insufficient precautions and lack of privacy features. This means that many apps are in breach of the “Data Protection Act 2018” due to variances on either not specifying the explicit purposes of data collection or not being used fairly, lawfully and transparently. 

It certainly seems that with the development of more social media websites and more parents turning to alternative measures like these apps, the trade-off between parenting and privacy has become more strained. However, concerns over fine print may make parents think twice before hitting download.

Ticket Touts: A last minute bargain or blunder?

Instead of enjoying their favourite artists, many fans are often worried about the hidden charges.

There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of seeing a band or artist you love, live. The adrenaline of jumping about and swaying to their hit tunes and the total gratification of knowing all the words to their hidden gems surely is in a league of its own. However, this can be often undercut by the sting of paying vastly over inflated prices to see them.

The ease of buying tickets from a second-hand website compares to no other, a quick type of your details and the tickets are swiftly in the post and on their way. In spite of this ease, there are often hidden charges ready to take you unaware. Ticket touts and the redistribution of tickets at vastly increased prices are a blight on the music industry. This does not only affect the artists when performing but also their bank accounts as well. According to figures published by fanfairalliance.org, an organisation primarily founded to fight ticket touts and unethical distribution, 47% of consumers think they will spend less on recorded music because of the amount they’ve spent on tickets. This isn’t a minor problem that affects only a handful of people. The second-hand ticket market has an estimated value of £1billion each year meaning plenty of potential music fans could be fleeced out of their hard-earned cash.

In March 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority banned resale sites like viagogo from using misleading pricing information however this hasn’t stopped many of them.

The problem has grown to such an astronomical extent that the Government has been pushed to take a stand. Last November, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) began enforcement action against notorious giants of resale scams such as GetMeIn, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo. Many of these sites had broken consumer law, meaning that customers have been offered non-existent tickets or tickets that the supplier doesn’t have. This is no surprise to lots of music fans, searching any of these companies’ names brings up a mass of negative reviews and angry customers demanding their money back; while 80% think that GetMeIn, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo are “ripping off” fans with high prices.

However, there seems to be an emerging solution lying with the artists and fans collaborating. Adele and Ed Sheeran only resold tickets through a fan-to-fan website they oversaw and were able to set a reasonable margin. Adele even officially partnered Twickets (a fan-to-fan resale website) in 2016 and has carried this partnership for every tour since. Various other big names such as One Direction, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Mumford and Sons and The 1975 have all used and promoted this website for their tours against the excessive alternatives. When polled 87% of UK consumers liked this idea and thought it would far more effective the multitude of resale websites overcharging.

So what does this all mean for the music industry and the many thousands left out of pocket? For those already scammed, it may be too late to get a refund. Despite this, the new wave of fan-owned resale websites may mean the popularity of unethical platforms for ticket resale will fall. Hopefully, giving way to interactivity between artists and fans that no other industry has.