Category Archives: Entertainment

Tissues and tampax: #TheStruggleIsReal – but never hurt anyone

North West in a power struggle with mum Kim Kardashian. I throw these tantrums all the time too but I'm too big to be picked up so they exist in my head. Source: Instagram

North West in a power struggle with mum Kim Kardashian. I throw these tantrums all the time but I’m too big to be picked up so they exist in my head. Source: Instagram

When people say, “The struggle is real,” I do wonder how real their struggle is and find it funny that along with myself, nobody really shares their struggle.

Superficial ones, yes, but unlike the champagne lifestyle, lemonade money fraudsters, I don’t feel that admitting to being ‘financially challenged’ – this is my replacement phrase for ‘broke’ – is embarrassing, because I know when I reach that place of success, my backstory will be invaluable.

But let me give you a snapshot: today with the £1.94 in my purse, I had to forfeit a pack of digestive biscuits for sanitary towels – thank God you can find them for less than a pound. For that moment stood glancing left to right at the packs of Bodyform, Wilko own brand and the unaffordable Tampax, I resented my monthly cycle. And the fact that I didn’t put the coppers in my purse because I could have made that up to a round £2.

What made me contemplate sharing this is a friend who just vindicated me by admitting she was once chose tissue over sanitary towels because she couldn’t afford the latter. This confession completely changed my face, for one, I found that hilarious, but compelled me to retell the story and show people that they’re not alone. Let our struggle, be your freedom, especially since I haven’t finished yet…

I then, after just buying the sanitary towels, had to make a choice later on between milk from Tesco and UHT milk from Poundland (but skimmed, not semi, there’s around a 5p difference, if I remember rightly). As I’d already picked up a flapjack for 29p, I had to sneakily use my calculator just to make sure I had enough to buy the milk too before I got to the till. (Air high-five if you do this too). 

Some people might be wondering why on earth I’m airing this on my blog but I have no intention of editing it like I do everything else in my life to avoid embarrassment, it stays how it is because this is how it is. At least this week. So when you say your struggle is real, think of me who ate slices of cucumber and garlic tea for breakfast this morning and lasted the whole day, I don’t know how, and who’s restricted to one piece of protein per day until her bank says otherwise.

Of course, I could call home and I’d be sent money but where’s the lesson in that? Or even the entertainment.

After a while the hunger pangs go away, tea does great at tricking your stomach, and when you’ve been glued to your laptop for as long as I have, they go anyway. Plus I have carbs here so life isn’t that bad.

Hopefully you’ve had a giggle, feel better about your own life or can smile in solidarity at my        ‘stru-ggle,’ but more importantly, the universe loves a hustler so keep on it, whatever your journey. Peace.

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People Change – Get off Miley’s Ball and Chain

Source: The Hollywood Gossip.com

Source: The Hollywood Gossip.com

Most have had just over a week to collate their thoughts, leaving judgements on comment threads all over Vevo, YouTube and countless websites as Miley Cyrus released the second single off of her upcoming Bangerz album. The highly-controversial video is still receiving up-to-the-minute views and the moralists haven’t stopped offloading their opinions on the integrity of this latest visual instalment. Currently on more than 100m views, and in less than a week broke records with the most number of views on Vevo in 24 hours, it’s hard for me to ignore this, as irrelevant as she is to me musically.

Purposely, my approach for this commentary is one of autonomy, so I’ve refrained from doing any research on the video/song/director’s inspiration because it’s like spoiling the ending of a film. Instead I comment as if I’d never really been introduced to Miley because up until she was thrust into my consciousness; HD perfect in white panties, she was a non-muthaf**king factor. (Some may know where that phrase originated, expletives and all).

My initial reaction when I clicked onto this video, with my mum sat next to me, should I add, I believe it was on its debut day and needless to say, I was slightly thrown by the extent of nudity. It was unexpected; certainly questionable and as much as I sympathise with the plight of artists whose dream is to simply perform music but never asked to become role models to a whole generation – it comes with the job – and as examples to young women, I definitely feel that contemporary female artists are blurring the lines of what it is to express your sexuality.


Speaking of Blurred Lines, when I was first alerted to its unedited video, I had similar thoughts but lyrically, the message was so clear that there was no room to contest. However, what I extracted immediately from Wrecking Ball was the hard, concrete, unmerciful nature of loss against the soft, vulnerability attached to love and supposedly, femininity. Art is never easy to define and is entirely subjective which eliminates boundaries, unless they’re self initiated.

Nudity is also a state of being that I’m at ease with, for the most part. As a former life model, I see an immense amount of beauty in the female form and have seen far more intimate representations of myself than that video. Like Miley, in her white vest, no bra and boyish pants, that’s the outfit I’m most comfortable in too, and probably a good percentage of those who tuned in. Licking the hammer like it’s the end of a you-know-what; riding the ball knowing what’s perpendicular with the chain, yes, it’s suggestive, but I never want to ignore sensuality because it’s a core part of our nature. I see no reason to suppress, the action should be to educate. In a roundabout way, there’s a piece of every woman in those visuals, so I respect her statement and see the power in it.

Bigger than her nakedness, fondness of twerking, or as a friend of mine termed it, “long-back dancing,” because while twerking is coined a ‘black thing’ (an African-American blogger whose blog I now can’t find, also said this, and I was instantly offended by the deception) her assets in no way fit the bill. (Watch Kevin Hart’s interview with BBC 1Xtra for his comedic slant on it). What provokes me about the deep interest towards Miley’s drastic transformation from Disney do-gooder to white-Rihanna, is essentially people’s general inability to accept change in others.

Source: Bashik on WeHeartIt.com

Source: Bashik on WeHeartIt.com

Year-on-year since 16, I haven’t failed to notice physical and emotional change in myself. Whether it’s been centered on my style, behaviour, maturity, confidence, it’s something that – better late than never – my dad has observed and even my mum, who’s a grown woman in her 50’s is experiencing. The need to reinvent oneself and the desire to evolve is natural and quite frankly, I’d be concerned if this didn’t take place because life cannot exist without growth. Evolution is everything.

So while my opinion of Miley indefinitely changed, I left the “Beg” protest because I refuse to denigrate my race and myself by saying that she was “begging black” because there’s no such way to define blackness. How suddenly it appeared that she’d adopted this uber-sexual, ‘don’t give a F’ persona did leave me thinking that it was all a gimmick, but as individuals, we attack what we’re unable to understand or fearful of doing ourselves.

How many of us want to loosen the grip of fear and break out from the box we’ve been shaped into, but hold back because actually, inside the box you know yourself very well?
There are boundaries in the box that protect us from judgement and give us enough freedom to not go wild and tarnish the image of ourselves that we’ve constructed for so long. Why explore the other vertices when you risk complicating your identity? But boxes are cardboard for a reason and the abstract one that isn’t really there has mouldable qualities. Conformity is dead, and I commend Miley, irrespective of the puppet masters behind her, on having the balls to redesign her mould.

Without looking at the subtext of Wrecking Ball and the Miley Cyrus saga – sexualisation of women in the media, (when haven’t we heard that before?) how sex is corrupting our society, (why is it of so much significance now?) and everyone screaming to be noticed, (each generation had their rebels). Another friend of mine said to me last week, “You’ve got to be shameless in this game.” We were discussing the media industry and becoming a brand but it applies to all areas of life. Do you. Love you. But most of all, embrace reinvention.

I’m going to leave this with a video from YouTuber, Shameless Maya. I love this girl and got glued to her videos a few months back when I typed in ‘fear’ on YouTube which brought her up. Maya did it and is now reaping the benefits so I think everyone else is on to something, even if you aren’t.

Film Review: One Mile Away

Director: Penny Woolcock
Certificate: 15
Running time: 90 mins
Release date: 29th March 2013

Welcome to Birmingham – a city tarnished by the 20-year postcode war between rival gangs, the Burger Bar Boys (B21) and Johnson Crew (B6). If pavements could talk, they’d tell the harrowing stories of all those lives cut short by their so-called ‘enemies’, separated by just a stretch of main road; stories reiterated on camera as award-winning filmmaker, Penny Woolcock (One Day; The Principles of Lust; Mischief Night) documents the mission of two men from the opposing sides as they meet in secret to draw a metaphorical line across the blood stains with a truce.

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The reason for the war? Matthias Thompson aka ‘Shabba’ openly admits he has no idea but when his disclosure precedes a man, affiliated to the Johnsons, showing the camera two bullet holes in the walls where he narrowly escaped with his life, the realisation is sudden and unrelenting but has you questioning: how did the tensions reach this level? And has it gone too far for peace? Side-by-side with ally, Dylan Duffus, lead actor in drama, One Day, the film tracks the pair’s two-year journey to recruit others for the cause and the hostility they face along the way.

Digesting the news and their nonchalant headlines of gang warfare, we disconnect; forgetting that in reality, those names mentioned belong to families. An intimate interview with the mother of Marcus Ellis, one-of-four convicted for the New Years Eve murders of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare in Aston, alongside his solicitor and barrister, explores a further narrative to the story – the criminal justice system – which is strengthened by gritty footage of the 2011 UK riots and obstruction from the police authorities, who in Dylan’s words, sought to have the project shut down.

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Within the first few minutes of the film’s opening, the message of One Mile Away could easily have been lost through the inner-city slang, (which required subtitles) baseball caps and the pattern of black male faces. However, listening to the plight of men aged as young as 15, who have lost close friends and rarely feel safe outside, it’s clear the enormity of the task at hand and how monumental talks of peace from those who have lived it, really is.

Over 90 minutes, you’re taken on a very eye-opening journey that stirs all kinds of mixed feelings towards society, as we now know it – the family unit, government authorities and the media. Bringing about peace is just one edge of the coin but the other is so embroiled in anger and resentment, at so many moments in the film you’re compelled to just reach out and give all of those young men a hug. Without glamorising gang culture, One Mile Away manages to describe the predatory nature of the streets, along with the dangers and complexities of ‘road life’. Its heart beats in Brum town but its significance echoes across the entire UK for all to empathise with and relate to.

8/10

Support the One Mile Away #RoadToFreedomTour through their Kickstarter campaign: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/313414227/one-mile-away

For details of screenings near you: http://onemileaway.co.uk/screenings

Listen to an exclusive interview with co-founder of the One Mile Away Organisation and cast member, Simeon ‘Zimbo’ Moore at the Birmingham premiere of the film here.

The Beyonce Backlash: New Single ‘Bow Down’

Not the first time ‘Queen Bey’ Mrs Carter has come under scrutiny for her conflicting self-righteousness and scandalous behaviour but it appears over the past week or so the multi-platinum recording artist has been the centre of another fiasco following the release of new single, Bow Down.

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The first to be taken from Beyonce’s forthcoming album, Bow Down, has been subject to a Wendy Williams panel discussion – “If you have to say ‘bow down’, then there’s no need to bow down” fired the US talk show host – a very public talking down from singer-songwriter, Keysha Cole, not to mention love and hate from all other online directions.

I know when you were little girls/ You dreamt of being in my world/ Don’t forget it/ Don’t forget it/Respect that/ Bow down bitches/ I took some time to live my life/But don’t think I’m just his little wife/ Don’t get it twisted/ Get it twisted/This my shit/ Bow down bitches/

Bey tells it how it is with the controversial and semi-empowering lyrics but get real people, if someone tells you to jump off of a bridge, I hope that you’d question the request before you throw your easily-influenced behind from the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, Tower Bridge or your bedroom roof. If Beyonce commands these ‘bi****s’ to bow down, why is it being taken so literally? Boo-boo she isn’t talking to you! And I’m not a b**** so she isn’t talking to me either.

Having an opinion on subjects like this is effortless because I generally have a very straightforward one and that is to take the song for what it is. Most of the messages within hip-hop music are misogynous, egotistical and trivial, to say but a few things, and these terms aren’t gender-specific. Women have been calling themselves ‘b*****s’ for decades and addressing the ‘haters’, so let them get it out of their system and appreciate that given Beyonce’s stature, she’s faced a barrage of negativity and sceptism regarding her career, relationship with Jay Z, public image and even her family life. Could you imagine what that constant pressure to retain success must feel like?

Without sounding like I’m skimming over the cracks, I get that the song’s content appears deeply hypocritical and offensive when Beyonce is such an open advocate for girl-power. Perhaps her and Sasha need a double slice of humble pie – who knows. Do I think the song was necessary, amazing or in good taste? Definitely not. All I’ve heard her sing is one dry verse so after reading the hype, I was pretty disappointed but you can’t go wrong with the beat. Beyonce loves a comeback – it’s memorable and her world tour kicks off next month so put it all into context. Did I mention she’s now also the new face of H & M? You just can’t knock the hustle.

Film review: Smile Gambia

Director: Selina Brown
Certificate: U
Running time: 10 mins

It doesn’t take a person to have travelled all corners of the Earth to figure that the disused-railway-arch-turned-night-spot is a far cry from Gambia – the country I’ve read described as the ‘smiling coast of Africa.’ Sat on a stiff wooden church bench, red mood lighting covers the dark wood and brick with a sangria overcoat, while the gentleman’s lounge-style light fittings give the impression of middle-class grandeur and evening solace. All that’s lacking is a brandy snifter and pipe to match my crimson lips but I came to indulge in film, and in my excitement, forgot my purse, so no such luck for a beverage.

Smile Gambia poster

Smile Gambia, Selina Brown’s journey to spread her eternal happiness across continents attracted many more than just those in their one’s and two’s. A lively room, where African prints stood upright without the hanger of an out-of-touch and underweight runway model. Locs hang loose from scarves adorned by patterns that merge with the loose kinks of hair coiled above the ear. It’s a beautiful dimmed sight hidden away in Spotlight Bar, Digbeth – a cavern where the lights remain low to allow the culture beats to take centre stage and satisfy the ears of all those who have come to share in the premiere.

Capturing the essence of what can be created with a big heart and big ambitions to match, it was testament that ‘whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’ Through her own self admission, armed with nothing but the laws of attraction and Facebook, Director of grassroots organisations, Dream BIG and Creative High, Selina asked herself: “How can I spread some love around the world?” The answer, encapsulated in this short 10 minute documentary, was to follow her roots back to Africa, but this time with generous donations from England to share amongst some of the poorest villages in Gambia.

This was no Oxfam campaign or Save the Children sob-story on screen; no doubt helped by collaborating with the talented Richi Fingerz, film-maker and founder of SoUk. The opening credits flashed on top of stunning aerial shots caught flying over Gambia, while the shaky camera and point-of-view framing gave it added realism and sincerity. If you’ve never experienced the hilarity of travelling through an African airport, you’ll find yourself amused very early on; followed by tears and swollen eyes, but ending in the utmost joy, gratitude and choral singing. The entire film sang a beautiful melody to everyone in the audience so here it is below for your viewing pleasure.

4/5