Sunday, 26 June 2016

On Accepting That Popular Culture Is Flawed

Pop Culture Is Flawed

Recently I've been working my way through "Witch Please", the most amazing podcast all about the Harry Potter franchise. It features two awesome female professors, Marcelle and Hannah, discussing each book and film in turn, all the interesting choices, parallels and subtexts within the series. It is such a joy to listen to, mainly because the perspectives and ideas given are so smart and just extremely interesting. Amazing feminist discussion, hosts who you immediately click with and Harry Potter, what more could you possibly want from a podcast? I could gush on about how much I love this podcast and how much I want to be friends with Marcelle and Hannah but this is not the post to do that (well any more than I already have). 

The reason I brought Witch Please up is because Marcelle and Hannah aren't afraid to be critical of the series and despite the fact that they both clearly love the whole series, they've really opened my eyes to some of the pretty big flaws in the series as well as other little questionable details. For example they've brought up the problem the books seem to have with fatness. In short, fatness is seen to be a mark of those who we shouldn't respect or treat as real human beings. Dudley's habit of enjoying his food is seen as disgusting and the book even seems to suggest that we should be repulsed by these characters for their size. A particularly sad example is the line " Dudley had spent most of his summer in the kitchen, his piggy little eyes fixed on the screen and his five chins wobbling as he ate continually". Marcelle and Hannah pointed out the irony that a series so focused on removing prejudice can take such an intolerant view of fatness. This makes me so angry and there is plenty more to question, such as possible Semitic links with the Goblins of Gringotts and weird anti-government sentiment when it comes to Hogwarts. 

So I am a huge Harry Potter fan and always have been, they've given me so much joy over the years and I'm sure they will continue to. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to brush the flaws under the carpet or block out any criticism of the franchise because just because I love something, it doesn't mean that thing has to be completely perfect. There's a culture now of becoming fans of a certain person or thing and placing them on a pedestal so that nobody can criticise or point out flaws in things. I feel as if this is because people get so worried that if their favourite thing is flawed, then it will reflect badly on them or they start almost worshipping it with the attitude that any negativity will have to be fought off or everything will collapse. That's simply not the case and we have to learn to be open to conversation about pop culture that isn't just love and hate because there's so much grey area that makes for interesting discussion.

I feel as if fans should feel more comfortable to be critical of the things they love, not being cruel or hateful but just acknowledging flaws in a healthy way. I've started to realise that I have problems with the Harry Potter franchise but I'm not contradicting myself by enjoying the books because if I only read things that were perfect, I'd have absolutely nothing to read. 

I don't know whether its because I'm moving away from the fan culture of the internet or just because I'm getting more mature but I'm done with all or nothing views on pop culture and am certainly trying to think more about the things I consume. This may help me to see the cracks in brilliant creations but it's also going to help me to see the hidden gold in them too.

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

Post GCSE Thoughts

Harriet is a free elf
shout out to Rescue Remedy for helping me through these past few weeks
Hello! It's been ridiculously long since I've blogged, have to blame exams on that, so apologies if I'm a little rusty. Hopefully I'll be putting up a lot of posts this summer because I have 11 weeks of summer without any school work or exams getting in the way. I've got two amazing holidays lined up and I'm excited to come up with all sorts content for this blog. Let's just hope I don't waste my whole summer binge-watching The West Wing ...

Ever since I found out what they were back in Year 7, GCSE's have held a sense of dread and honour for me. We all learned very early on that we shouldn't disturb any of the Year 11's as they were doing exams that were really important and could have the potential to determine the whole of their lives. Now I've actually got through them I realise what utter rubbish that was, except the part about keeping the noise down - I didn't appreciate people yelling outside while I was trying to remember what year the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed (1939). Everyone older than me that I've spoken to has said that at the end of the day these exams aren't as big of a deal as we make them. My year has been so stressed since about January and looking back I don't really think we needed to be.

For me, these exams have been surprisingly okay, there's been questions that I'm not 100% sure on now and there's been stuff that I'm pretty sure that I nailed. I'm very proud of myself that I only had two "emotional days", one before English because I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, and one after Additional Maths. I quite like Maths if I'm honest, I used to be awful but now it's one of my best subjects, I worked pretty hard on past papers for Add Maths and was getting pretty good marks. Then in the actual paper OCR decided that they hated me and wanted to give us the worst paper in the history of the world. Maybe I'm exaggerating a tiny bit but honestly it was so much more complicated than any of the past papers and I could not figure out what method to use let alone what the answer was. I'm pretty much over it now but it felt so awful that I spent so much time revising it and the actual exam was really bad.

Other than that I feel pretty good about how they went and it's just fingers-crossed for Results Day in August! There are a few subjects that I really want A*'s in but other than that I know I've done the best I can in these exams and will be pretty happy with whatever I get (to a point, you know me...) 

Some other cool stuff I've been doing: I went to Hay Festival again to see Letters Live, its an awesome event where famous actors and various other well-known faces read out fantastic letters from history. I was so excited to see Olivia Colman, Toby Jones and Mark Strong there, all amazing British talents but the best part was the surprise that Benedict Cumberbatch and his gorgeous wife, Sophie! I'm not going to lie I got a little bit starstruck about Olivia, Mark and Benedict because I love them so much for the stuff that I've seen them in (The Night Manager, A View from the Bridge and Sherlock of course). Highlights include Jacqueline Wilson reading the first ever Peter Rabbit story by Beatrix Potter (aka my entire childhood in a few minutes), Benedict reading a letter from Gene Wilder regarding his Willy Wonka costume and Sophie reading a beautiful letter from the mother of a young cancer patient thanking JK Rowling for giving her daughter a bit of magic in her life. It was a really lovely day out and I'd highly recommend going to see any of the Letters Live events, they are all so special. 


Benedict Cumberbatch, Louise Brealey and Sophie Hunter

Thanks for sticking around after my blogging break! You'll be seeing a lot more of me over the next few months, starting with a blog post all about my prom.

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

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2015 Thoughts and Ramblings
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Prom '16


How are you? I'm just getting started into my post-exams extended summer holiday and I'm determined to get as many blog posts up as physically possible. Last Friday was my last day of exams and in the evening we had our Year 11 prom, which I was so excited about as talked about in my Prom Wishlist post. Looking back on that post I did change my mind about what I wanted to wear etc but I stand by what I said about prom being all about dressing up fancy and having an amazing time with your friends. So let's get into the post all about my prom experience...

I chose this dress from Coast and although I never would have thought to wear a teal dress, I really fell in love with it and I feel like the green worked really nicely with my hair and skin tone. For hair I basically winged it by curling my hair with straighteners and pinning back one side so that when the curls inevitably went flat (in about 30 minutes if I'm honest) it would still look reasonably cute. 

Products used: Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation, Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer, Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder, Makeup Revolution I Heart Chocolate Palette in the shades Stolen Chocolate (brows), More! (eyelid crease) and Endorphins Ready! (highlighter on cheekbones and brow bone), Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara and NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in the shade Cannes. 



Okay enough of my face, let's talk about the actual evening. We went round to my friend Becca's to take pictures and just generally get excited about the night ahead. It felt really nice to just laugh with friends with no worries at all because exams were well and truly over. Then we headed over to Hatherly Manor where our actual prom was being held. We hung around taking even more pictures and then went inside to find our seats. The prom committee did an incredible job at making sure the venue was amazing so thank you to Memoona, Grace, Rosanna, Nikki, Sydney and everyone else involved if you're reading this! Dinner was lovely and we had some brilliant awards that mainly came from inside jokes among our year. We said goodbye to some of the people who we know aren't coming back to our school for 6th Form and thanked our fantastic Head of Year who has had to deal with us and all our trouble for the past 3 years. 

After that we had performances from Pat, one of the most musically talented people in our year, and Memoona, who might actually be made out of pure sunshine, you might know her from her awesome blog, Singing Sonnet and YouTube channel. Pat sang Flaws by Bastille, which he sang back in Year 8 for the talent show, and the graduation classic, Time of Your Life by Green Day, killing it on both. Memoona sang All I Want by Kodaline, bringing everyone to tears, and also Pokerface (Glee - Lea Michele and Idina Menzel version) with Heather which was also amazing. I'm pretty sure Memoona is actually one of the most talented people I know, her voice is absolutely breathtaking, plus she's also one of the nicest people that I've ever met and I know she's going to do really amazing things in her life so please have a watch of her YouTube covers and see for yourself (especially this one). I'm also going to leave the link to her post about prom here

Then it was time to dance and sing our hearts out on the dancefloor; personal faves include: One Dance (which had just hit number 1 for 10 consecutive weeks), Ignition and the Will Grigg song. It was so much fun to just have a really good time with my close friends at the end of a stressful year. 



I had an amazing time at prom and I'm so grateful to the committee that organised it! Did you have a prom? What was it like for you? Let me know down in the comments!

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

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Prom Wishlist
Post GCSE Thoughts