Right, Internet. You have driven me to it. I am going to write a post about Miley Cyrus and I have no idea how I got here.
First off: I have literally zero fucking interest in Miley Cyrus. For a long time I did not realise that Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus were the same person, then I watched most of a Hannah Montana movie once when I was drunk. I think the screaming goat version of Party in the USA is comedy gold and there is a Miley Cyrus reference in an Amanda Palmer song I like and that was literally the extent of my knowledge of her until twenty four hours ago, when I became aware that I had missed the memo on her transformation from teeny-bopping American sweetheart into the gyrating mess of latex and lolling tongue that was jamming up my newsfeed yesterday morning.
As a piece of theatre, stripped of all social and cultural context, Miley Cyrus’s appearance at the 2013 VMA’s was abysmal. Her movements looked uncomfortable and uncoordinated, her costumes did not fit her properly, her voice sounded strained, the choreography was sloppy (I am generously assuming there was choreography involved.) Then Robin Thicke made his listless entrance and the whole thing was catapulted into the realm of the truly surreal as Miley’s cavorting became even more frantic and the presence of a much older man made her look even more like a toddler doing wobbly burlesque in Mummy’s heels and lipstick. It was awful. Nobody had a good time.
Hello! Here’s some stuff I’ve been enjoying on the Internet this week. Firstly, watch Friend Zoneby Dylan Garity. Slam poetry at its finest and a cutting summation of why the concept of the “Friend Zone” is bullshit and also vaguely misogynistic.
New videogame “The Novelist” doesn’t involve guns – Despite the somewhat redundant title of this article (a videogame without guns? Unheard of!), this game looks like exactly the kind of slow-paced story-driven offering I love. The concept is intriguing and the plot looks like the sort of thing that might make me cry.
Man creates very first Website for Women ever – AT LAST. A man who understands me and the fact my online media consumption needs are directly dictated by my vagina. Hair tips and worldwide news coverage on the SAME website? Inspired!
Hookup culture is officially not a thing – Good news! A proper study has officially proved that the young folk of today are not fornicating at a particularly alarming rate compared to previous generations! Well, good news if you’re not the sort of person who enjoys wringing their hands over the sex choices of strangers and something something moral degradation blah blah something.
I hate Strong Female Characters– “The Strong Female Character has something to prove. She’s on the defensive before she even starts. She’s George from The Famous Five all grown up and still bleating with the same desperate lack of conviction that she’s “Every Bit As Good as a Boy”.”
The Problem with Male Feminists– “The “retirement” of Hugo Schwyzer from his self-appointed position as “Professor Feminism” highlights some of the issues men have with feminism.” And consequently, according to Jem Bloomfield, some of the issues women have with men who have issues with feminism. Come on, get involved.
America’s Forgotten Pin-Up Girl– “Meet Hilda, the creation of illustrator Duane Bryers and pin-up art’s best kept secret. Voluptuous in all the right places, a little clumsy but not at all shy about her figure, Hilda was one of the only atypical plus-sized pin-up queens to grace the pages of American calendars from the 1950s up until the early 1980s…“
When I was an undergraduate, I took a module on postcolonial theatre under the tutelage of a Nigerian director called Bisi. In one of our practical classes, I was handed a monologue to read. The character was a Somali woman who had lost two sons and her husband to war and conflict. After I finished, Bisi asked me how I felt about reading it. I said I had found it really difficult, because this woman’s experiences were so distant from my own and I had never experienced anything remotely approaching that level of trauma or oppression. I said I did not know how to read it with authenticity.
Bisi told me, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, that I must use my experiences of being oppressed as a woman and bring them to bear on the piece.
I was shocked. I think I spluttered a bit. I was barely twenty years old and I knew everything (obviously.) I wasn’t oppressed, I told him. Women in Ireland have equal rights to men. Being a woman has never prevented me from doing anything I wanted to do. He smiled and asked me if I honestly though that – “as a woman, in this country” – I was free from any sort of oppression? Yes, of course, I said stubbornly. He laughed at me and moved on with the class.
I felt patronised. I felt embarrassed. I felt that Bisi was endlessly wrong and I was right. I was furious.
I also promise I’m going somewhere with this.
If you haven’t been on the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag on Twitter yet, you should really go and do that. Especially if you’re a white woman. There is a lot of anger on there and it is not going to be easy to read.
I’ve been following the story of the murder of Trayvon Martin since it exploded onto my newsfeed last year. Now it has reached its awful, unjust, but sadly not surprising conclusion. Last week, a court in Florida ruled that George Zimmerman was within his rights as a citizen to shoot an unarmed black teenager, and to shoot to kill. They ruled that no one was to blame Trayvon Martin’s death, except possibly himself.
I am a white woman who grew up in a country that had a vanishingly small black population until recent years. I grew up in a country that is only now discovering its own capacity for racism. I lived in Chicago for a year, in a pre-dominantly white neighbourhood. Black people are a third of the city’s population, but I can count the times I visited or passed through black neighbourhoods on one hand. I am not Trayvon Martin. I am worlds away from Trayvon Martin. But like hundreds of other people who are not Trayvon Martin, I feel sick to my stomach over this verdict, and sicker still over the fact that there are people who continue to insist that race was not a factor in his murder.
I don’t feel qualified, eloquent or calm enough to speak to my own rage. Fortunately, the internet is full of people who are.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is one of my favourite books ever. I have read it three times and it scared the crap out of me. Good job, World War Z. Unfortunately, Hollywood got its hands on it and stripped it of everything that made it unique and terrifying and profoundly human, because why have any of those things, when you can give Brad Pitt a gun and a vague UN job and throw him up against a big writhing pile of CGI zombies? Don’t worry though, we’re supposed to give a shit about his character because he has a Generic Family with two adorable little girls and he says things like “It’s going to be okay, honey!” and “Tell them I’m coming back!” a lot.
I am not exaggerating:
so the topic of why fast zombies are stupid – both in terms of plausibility and symbolic efficacy – has been well covered. No one puts it better than Simon Pegg:
I know it is absurd to debate the rules of a reality that does not exist, but this genuinely irks me. You cannot kill a vampire with an MDF stake; werewolves can’t fly; zombies do not run. […]The speedy zombie seems implausible to me, even within the fantastic realm it inhabits. A biological agent, I’ll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It’s hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all.
More significantly, the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety.[…] [T]he zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.
However (and herein lies the sublime artfulness of the slow zombie), their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you’re careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them – much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares – the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea of crazy rabid people who want to tear you apart and eat you is pretty horrifying, especially when the infection seems to disproportionately effect world-class sprinters. BUT, as Red Lemonade points out, they are not zombies. This is not what zombie means. I’m not saying fast zombies don’t work and should never exist. I believe they have their place in the monster canon. But the slow zombie – the inevitable shuffling mass of death – that zombie is KEY to World War Z.
According to visual effects supervisor John Nelson, the reasoning behind having zombies who look like super-speedy heroin addicts is to make them more predatory because “everyone has seen everything in this genre.” Yes. Yes they have. Including fast zombies. If originality was really a concern here, a good place to start would be NOT making YET ANOTHER MOVIE about Kickass Government Operative Guy Saving The World. The book is not compelling because it has super-special original zombies. It is compelling because it is structured as an oral history that takes on the concept of zombies on an unprecedented scale.