Christian Grey: as Attractive as an Outbreak of Cholera

Guest Writer: V. Cole

After my last piece, I decided to do some investigating to find out reasons why women love Christian Grey, the love interest in the – sadly – widely successful series Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I trawled through the forums praising this dishrag of a series hoping to find some insight from fans. It was rather odd considering Edward Cullen has countless threads on Twilight forums yet Christian Grey only had one and only a few replies. These pretty much consisted of ZOMG GREY IZ TEH HOTTEST!!11!!!1 Not overly helpful to be honest. I’ve read countless fans excuse Edward Cullen’s psychosis and stalking with what they believe i.e. that he is just protective. None of that about Grey. So that has left me to conclude that he is only seen as the greatest catch ever due to the fact that he is devastatingly handsome (every woman gapes like a dead fish when he walks by), and that he is stupidly rich (cannon never made much sense with that).All I can say to that is to picture the actor who plays him and imagine all the qualities and personality of Christian. Now instead of the actor, picture him as a grossly overweight, balding, short, fifty-something-year-old man with a sweating problem. Remember, he still has his money and personality! Is he still the greatest man ever? Hmm . . . Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, the allure of Mr Grey appears to be utterly shallow.

So where does that leave the blog post? Well I’m not giving up without a fight so I read a few articles that praise him and decided to rip their reasons to shreds. I have cannon in one hand and a glass of lovely Shiraz wine in the other. LETS DO THIS!!

1. Sometimes women like men to take control.

I saw this reason time and time again on many different articles. Don’t get me wrong, it can be nice for your partner to say “Hey, I’ve booked us a table at . . . Let’s go.” Life is stressful and sometimes it’s nice for someone to take control once in awhile. That’s what people applaud Christian Grey for. Um . . .  no. I must ask this to the people who say this. DID YOU EVEN READ THE F***ING BOOK!?!?! He takes control to the extreme. His issues with food really p*** me off, especially as a recovering bulimic. I loathe that he orders for her in restaurants yet continually tells her what to eat and drink with the guise of health. It is none of his bloody business what she eats, considering she is a waif in the books and constantly doesn’t eat. Would you really be impressed with going to a nice restaurant, looking at all the amazing choices but nope your man decided for you. No steak for you! Have a salad instead. Yes, I know she thinks all the food he gives her is amazing but that is not the point. She is a brainwashed bint who thinks his farts smell of roses. I brought up the bulimia as personally I worry over food all the bloody time and if I had someone that controlling doing that to me, then I would panic and maybe end up relapsing. People are very funny with food. I don’t care that he was hungry for a grand total of four years before being adopted by lavishly loving and rich Greys; getting pi**y because someone doesn’t want to finish their dinner can trigger things. Ergh, he is such a kn*bguzzler.

It’s not just the food. He controls everything in her life! Who she can and can’t see, where she can go and he must know at all times-  also don’t forget he controls what she wears in later books. Its stalkerish and abusive. Girls, would you really like it if you were told you can’t see your friends anymore because your partner disapproves for some vague reason, or that if you do go out with them then it has to be his way or he will beat you. Oh sorry, I mean punishment *rolls eye*. He will beat Ana for just rolling her eyes at him which is something he disapproves of. Does that sound healthy? Romantic? Nope, didn’t think so. He treats her like a bad dog owner. “Oh, you have done something I don’t like. Well hang on a mo while I get my belt.” Taking control by booking a dinner is one thing. Not this. This is blatant abuse, don’t swoon! Call the police!

2. Possessive traits show that he loves you!

I know this is similar to the last point but it’s important. This is one of the most stupid and disturbing reasons to love this man. In Fifty Shades Freed Christian punches a guy in the face for dancing with Ana. He had already apologised to Ana after she slapped and screamed that she was somebody else’s property, oh sorry, I mean married. “He apologised, end of!” Nope, not good enough for Grey, he has to punch him to demonstrate that that is his property. Who doesn’t love being treated like an object *groans and drinks wine*. I have seen articles saying how nice it would be to have a man that loves you so much that he can’t bear to have another touch or look at you that he resorts to violence. What planet do you people live on? You could never enjoy yourself in a nice bar because God forbid a man looks at you and your boyfriend acts like Neanderthal. How about a friend you’ve known for years who happens to be a guy and straight, that surely means that’s out of the window as your love is a jealous thug. This behaviour does not show love, it shows an insecure jerk who does not trust you to not fling yourself and getting down and dirty on the dance floor because a stranger looked at you in a flatteringly way. It’s a very fine line until he starts checking your phone constantly and demanding you don’t go anywhere without him. This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. One of the worst quotes I have ever seen and still creeps me out to know end. If I have to suffer then so, do you so here it is: “I want you sore, baby . . . Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.”

Blergh! I need more wine, wire wool and bleach. She had just lost her virginity and he wants her to be reminded of his ownership of her lady bits by making her sore. Romance for the ages people! While he is slamming into her (no seriously, nothing is ever gentle) he says so many times that she is his. I hate this man so much. This is not a Georgian romance where love interests would dual for the lady’s hand, this is the 21 st century and frankly women deserve better than a jealous, possessive and sexist thug. He may be pretty and rich but he is a thug.

3. I can fix him Mama!

This is about the same old crappy trope of the ordinary girl fixing the broken bad boy and they live happily ever after until he murders her and buries her in the cellar. This is frankly a dangerous message to send out to people. Also if anyone says it’s just fiction then I will start flinging a cactus. Christian Grey is a psychotic ar**hole who blames everyone (especially his mother: see my review of Grey for further details) for why he is such a pr**k. He is a total abusive narcissist who constantly brings up his past for why he is the why he is. For those who don’t know, Grey was born in Detroit to a young crack addicted woman who resorted to prostitution. He talks about being hungry and beaten by her pimp until at the age of four- his mother died from an overdose. He lays with her for four days, all nicely sanitised as he just describes her as cold and trust me, having worked in a funeral directors you are not just cold after four days of post mortem. He is then adopted by the stupidly rich, indulgent and loving Greys fairly quickly. He blames his mother for why he purposely picks young, thin, brown haired girls to beat and screw as they resemble her appearance. Creepy! I’m not saying that he doesn’t deserve sympathy for his past but I will damn him for using his past traumas to abuse young women. He constantly uses it as an excuse for his appalling behaviour, which is a total slap in the face to those who have suffered horrendous abusive pasts and are good human beings who don’t abuse others. Yes, I know many serial killers come from abusive families, but we don’t slap a love interest sticker on them and call them the greatest man ever. Grey may see a therapist, however he seems pretty useless and breaks confidentiality. People may say that Ana changed him but not really. He may not smack her with a belt because she rolled her eyes; he is still just as controlling. She changed nothing about him except that she “cured” him of BDSM, which is frankly disgusting considering the BDSM scene is not an excuse for abuse but an alternative and happy lifestyle for many. Someone as vile as Christian cannot be changed as he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with his personality. He may refer to himself as “Fifty Shades of F***ed Up” but that is just wanting to sh*g girls who look like his birth mother. He is still a monster and will stay a monster. Ana did not change him and never will. This rarely works out in real life and sadly they usually end in tragic ways.

4. It’s just fiction! We all need escapism.

No. I am sick to death of hearing that excuse. Films, TV and books all have meanings and messages. Jane Eyre taught us to be strong women who stick to what we believe in no matter the temptation, Harry Potter taught us that love is the most powerful magic and Jurassic Park taught us that life finds a way. Books provide messages that influence people and their lives. There is no denying that! Also before anyone thinks “Well I don’t see you writing anything that’s a bestseller.” Well I’m not a creative writer unlike our wonderful blog leader Thirdeyeavaaz who deserves to be published [TEA notes: I didn’t put her up to say that, I promise!], I am an analytical writer so that argument fails. These books are nothing but poison. The messages are disgusting: how dare I ignore the fact that it’s Ana that changes for Christian *cough* anal sex *cough* (!) He stalks her, mentally, physically and sexually abuses her- is so possessive that I think he is one step away from dragging her back to the flat by her hair, and controls every aspect of her life. He is so insecure that he buys the publishing house she works in so he can keep an eye, and she mysteriously becomes one of the bosses despite being as useful as a condom to the Pope. This book tells women they are property and stalking means love. It is a total slap in the face to the BDSM community who suffer so much prejudice because of what they consensually enjoy and now have that prick as a mainstream poster boy. It’s disgusting and I loathe it. So no, it is not just fiction. Words have influence, and please future authors use them to empower women, men who are not glorified for being thugs and show true and equal love. Love that shows both partners having mutual respect and trust for one and another.

I could have said so much more but my ranting over each point has taken up my word count so I will have to end here. Sadly there is so much more, like how women love men with power and money *vomits*. I hope you all enjoy reading while I enjoy my wine. Happy blogging, people!

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The Karate Kid’s Heroine Ali Mills

There is much nostalgia surrounding The Karate Kid (1984). People talk fondly of their memories when this film came out, quote Mr Miyagi with pride and comment on the effectiveness of the fight scenes. One thing that constantly crops up is Ali, often followed by ‘with an “I”’  (mockingly, in most cases). Being the object of the hero’s eye means that the female is relegated to the role of the “It girl”, the girl to be “got”. Ali certainly has the California Girl charm, which viewers unanimously agree makes her the film’s eye candy. Despite this, Ali is not beyond criticism from the fanboys.

Her introduction is one of types. Daniel’s first enquiry as to her identity is ‘the Hills’. Ali is a girl from the Hills, so she’s automatically a young woman of status. At the bonfire, Daniel’s informed that ‘the blonde is looking at you’. Obviously, we’re human, we like to categorise, especially when we’re referring to strangers whose names we’re not yet aware of. At this point, it feels like this method of exposition robs her of being a layered supporting character. She’s clearly not the karate kid of the film’s title, nevertheless, that doesn’t permit placing her in boxes. Yes, they’re trying to present her as someone who Daniel is punching well above his weight for (pardon the pun), but the writers have a chance to move past that as the film progresses. They do to some extent: she’s the only mature character with her head on her shoulders. Her dismissal (she apparently ditched Daniel for a university guy) at the beginning of The Karate Kid Part II completely reverses any character development she might have achieved as the film progressed.

Now let’s discuss the issue of the Ex. Quite a few people sympathise with Johnny because ‘she broke up, he didn’t’. Typical teenage behaviour fuelled by hormones. Those who espouse these views use this as one of the many points to paint Ali as the cow who won’t give him a chance. He just wants her back. Problem is, we’re left to speculate why they broke up. I can perhaps see that his willingness to change despite his faults make him less of a despicable villain. I do not see, however, how this makes Ali the bad guy for not wanting to know him at this point. The “teenage” argument works both ways. If he’s allowed to be sore about their breakup, she’s allowed to be annoyed at his behaviour. Who would’ve thought that a mere radio would be the source of discussion on internet boards as to who’s to blame for the dispute: Ali was being immature by switching it back on/turning the music up, Johnny was being immature for taking it off of her and eventually breaking it when he doesn’t get his way. So who’s to blame?

If Johnny did or said something abhorrent when they dated, then continuing to be obnoxious doesn’t help in his favour. Ali being chided by the internet makes little sense since we don’t know what he was like beforehand. He must’ve been pretty bad for her to refuse a conversation with him. The way he tosses/hands Ali over to be restrained while he fights Daniel also doesn’t work in his favour. Some may argue that he’s doing that so that she doesn’t get caught up in the fight and hurt. Possibly. It still appears a mark against Johnny.

Next: ‘It’s your fault’. The type who always blames his actions on the woman. Daniel may have been a bit of a twerp, but I missed the part where Ali controlled his arms and legs in the fight. “It’s all your fault” and “You made me do this” are the slogans of abusers so Johnny’s behaviour needs to be checked before it develops into actions with worse consequences. This is not a statement that Johnny was abusive, but certainly that behaviour such as this, left uncorrected, is hazardous in the future. 

In defence of Ali, she recognises the importance of Daniel’s safety and tells him to leave the radio. It may be her property; it’s not worth being at the other end of Johnny’s fists. She checks up on him after he’s beaten up, and is even subjected to his wounded male pride. As much as you feel sympathetic towards his embarrassment at being publically beaten up, it’s not her fault. Now she’s about to become a pawn in a competition between two high schoolers who really should just get out their masculine aggressions through a simple arm-wrestling match. It wouldn’t be a karate film, but at least it would reduce Ali as the source of competition for these young men. Her letting Daniel pay for her lunch without so much as a polite “thank you” or any sign of humility undoes the building portrait of a perfect Ali, you’d be happy to know. Miniscule, I know. It’s still an issue of manners; an indication of some privilege. I also side-eye her taste in men to begin with. Johnny and Daniel. Girl, why? Actually, I can see why she moved from him onto the UCLA guy.

Another issue of contention for internet commentators is that Ali invites Daniel to the country club purposely to rile Johnny up. Again, maybe a part of her wants Johnny to suffer. Teenagers (and immature adults) always resort to stirring jealousy in order to punish current or ex-partners. It hardly makes her a vixen or witch (or whatever epithet you can find on the internet). She could’ve invited him as a way of presenting him to her friends and family formally. What better place than a regular haunt? It has been suggested that she did this on purpose also to put Daniel in his place socially. I find that hard to believe: she still defends him when she could’ve easily submitted to Johnny’s charms and not defended him to her father.

With her knowledge of the rules of karate, I would’ve loved to see some sort of spoof (or maybe even integrated into the actual storyline) where she kicks ass in the tournament. Mr Miyagi decides she more emotionally mature than Daniel so he trains her instead. Wishful thinking, of course. I wouldn’t dare request a film based on this in current climate lest there be a backlash (see Ghostbusters for reference).

So why have I labelled her a heroine when she is merely the love interest? I call her heroine because she puts up with masculine competition and parents who have no issue when a boy forces a kiss on their daughter and ask him if he’s ok when she’s visibly upset. I’m still holding out for: The Karate Kid: Revenge of a Hills Girl.

The Secret Life of Pets (Turkish) – Film Review

Translated from original post (by this blog: TEA), by guest writer Mehmet Çatal: mehmetcatal.blogspot.com.

The Secret Life of Pets – Film İncelemesi

Eğer bir hayvan sever iseniz ve siz işe gittiğiniz zaman evcil hayvanınızın ne yaptığını merak ediyorsanız, The Secret Life of Pets (2016, yönetmen Chris Renaud ve Yarrow Cheney) sizin sorularına cevap veriyor. Neredeyse. Filmin anlatımı daha çok evcil hayvanlar üzerine yapılmış şakalar ve stereotipler üzerinde duruyor. Köpekler sahiplerine sadık iken kediler daha kendi halinde, bazen ise kendini beğenmiş ve umursamaz ve egzotik hayvanlar ise… tuhaf. Aslında kediler hakkındaki stereotipler, Chloe’nin (Lake Bell) durumu dışında, film boyunca daha çok öne çıkıyor ve bu kedi severlerin canını sıkabiliyor. Evcil hayvan filmlerinde kediler, söz konusu onları betimlemek olunca, genelde kısa çöpü çekenler oluyor. Onlar kötü adamlar köpeklerse iyi adamlar olarak göstertiliyor. Kedi olan Chloe iyilerin tarafında olsa da, yine de kendini beğenme tavrını sürdürüyor. Evet, bu bizim kedilerin sevdiğimiz (ayrıca eğlendiğimiz) yönleri olsa da yine de bu, onların bağlılık göstermediği düşüncesini pekiştiriyor. Her kedi özeldir; bazıları kendi halinde takılmayı severken bazıları sizi hiçbir zaman yalnız bırakmaz. Max (Louis C.K) ve Duke’un (Eric Stonestreet) içine atıldığı ilk tehlike, yüzlerce kötü görünümlü sokak kedisi tarafından korkunç bir şekilde köşeye sıkıştırılmasını içeriyor. Neyse ki, asıl kötü karakter pofuduk, tüylü, tatlı ve küçük beyaz bir tavşan oluyor ve bu sayede kediler oltadan kurtuluyor. Bir nevi.

Snowball (Kevin Hart) tavşan asıl kötü karakter. Snowball’un bu şekilde düşmanca hareketler sergilemesinin nedeni terkedilmesi ve bu yüzden insanları yok etme isteği. Filmdeki hareketleri anarşist. Sadık yol arkadaşlarına küçük bir paçavra gibi davranan kişileri yok etmeyi isteyen birisi gibi Snawball. Bu alt sınıf hayvanlar, kurulan hiyerarşiyi yıkmak istiyorlar. 2016 Temmuz itibariyle, bu olaylarla bağ kurabiliriz (tabi hayvan kontrol araçlarını kaçırıp kanalizasyonda saklanmayacağız). Bununla ilgili bir makale okumayı isterim.

Animasyon inanılmaz derecede güzel; küçük vücutlarda bulunan büyük kafalar ve gözler kesinlikle “yaaa” dedirtiyor sizlere. Herhangi bir hayvan türünü ya da cinsini sevmiyorsanız bile, The Secret Life of Pets sizi, onları istemenize ikna edecek. Hatta New York şehrine hayat veren animasyonlar, şehri aşırı derecede çekici yapmış. Temiz, yeşil ve stil sahibi. Tabi hayvanlar yer altını keşfedene kadar.

Filmde Max’in girişi oldukça eğlenceli. Hayatını kısaca özetliyor ve bunu sanki sahibi Katie (Ellie Kemper) ile bir ilişki içindeymiş gibi anlatıyor. Bir oda arkadaşı arıyor, görünüşe göre sahibi de öyle. Kötü ün salmış “friendzone” kavramı, Max, ekranı kaplayan devasa bir ternöv köpeği olan yeni “kardeşi” Duke ile apartmanı paylaşmaya zorlandığı zaman başlıyor. Her şeyi Max’in bakış açısından gördüğümüz için, Duke’tan, soğukkanlılığına ve bir bağ kurma çabasına rağmen, nefret etmeye teşvik ediliyoruz. Yine de, bir köpek olsaydım yatağımı paylaşır mıydım şüpheliyim. İnsanken bile bunu yapayı sevmiyorum. Bir diğer friendzone Max ve Gidget (Jenny Slate) arasında. Gidget’in filme ilk girdiği andan itibaren, zihni başka şeyle meşgul olan Max’e karşı hevesli konuşmaları, Max’a delicesine âşık olduğunu gösteriyor. Max ve Duke amatör köpek gezdiricileri tarafından tekrar eve getirilmediğinde, sevdiğini kurtarmak için bir kampanya başlatan yine o oluyor. Ve onun dost gibi görünen düşmanı için.

Konu biraz zayıf; birçok olay ana hikâyenin devam etmesini sağlasa da, Duke’un geçmişi dışında başka bir alt plan yok gibi görünüyor. Hayvanların sadece etrafta koşuşturduğu izlenimi veren yere kadar tempo gayet iyi bir şekilde ilerliyor. Bu izlenimin yok olmasını ve ilgiyi, merak uyandıran son birkaç dakika kurtarıyor. Yine de, film gerçekten eğlenceli ve itiraf etmek istemeseniz bile her satırında sizleri gülümsetiyor. En komik sahne kesinlikle sosis fabrikası. Bir diğer komik kısım ise ağır metal müzik seven kaniş köpeği. Sahibi onun -çevresi gibi- saf ve kibar olduğunu düşünse de bu kaniş metal müziğe bayılan biri. Gülmekten içeceğiniz genzinize kaçacak.

Disparue/The Disappearance Episode 3 and 4 – Analysis

Episode 3

Léa’s supposed recent voicemail opens the episode, providing hope for the emotionally-tested Morel family. While they are literally practically clinging to this voicemail as a sign, Molina isn’t convinced. What he does promise is an increased surveillance of the family’s communications, but he’s not jumping on any theories. It appears harsh, however the family are obviously too involved to think objectively so he must provide that objectivity. An amazing feat since he has a daughter the same age and yet Disparue 15isn’t allowing that to cloud his judgment. It technically is a requirement of officers to remain professional, but allowances should be made for their humanness. So far, Molina is coping well. Cracks do appear when they’re trying to analyse the voicemail; both faces are softened. Only now is Molina considering a kidnapping. Still, Molina’s not convinced it could be Léa’s voice. He surmises that they could be hearing what they want to hear, and when Camille questions if he would react the same if it were his daughter, he reckons after days of separation that he would mishear.

Meanwhile, Chris has taken over the care and occupying of little Zoé. It seems like cousin/niece doing a good thing in times of familial turbulence. It also seems opportunistic. As will later be shown, Zoé starts to play up so Chris’ help is needed. Camera shots also set up Thomas as someone who’s plagued by hidden secrets. Medium close ups of him present an intense face. The poor guy is bearing the brunt of his parents’ stress. What doesn’t help the atmosphere at home is Florence replaying the voicemail message repeatedly (not exactly fun for the viewer either). Julien deals with this a different way by stalking police activity, enabled by the restaurant waiter Nick, who gives him a police scanner. This catapults Julien into a cape-less crusading vigilante pursuing justice for his daughter. Or is he covering his own back? Hmm. He’s lucky he’s self-employed with his brother, otherwise he would be ordered to take leave. It doesn’t help situation that Julien kicks off at the police. Molina and team trace the phone call to the train station where prostitute Jenny smokes outside her van. She’s taken in for questioning. I side-eyed her appearance: do prostitutes even look like that anymore?

Following the interrogation is another delicious scene from an analytical point of view. Molina and Camille pay forensics a visit on the van. The Disparue 17forensic scientist, a woman, just about maintains her professional state – her eye contact reveals that she is interested in Molina *ahem*. Camille’s face looks unimpressed, her eyes rolling from the scientist to the evidence. I love how she’s just about in the frame, pushed out of an exchange she would rather be involved in rather than just observing. Their (Camille and the scientist) parting exchange is priceless: Camille is literally looking at her in a way that screams “Back off, he’s mine”. Lo and behold, the following day (I presume) Camille strolls in with a pink top and curly hair free to fly. She Disparue 19looks quite nervous as well *wink*. I like this, she’s upping the game. You go girl, get yo man! The moment moves aside for a serious discovery: at 3 A.M. Thomas is spotted on CCTV leaving the train station – something he never revealed in his statement. Thomas is in trouble now; the fact that he’s been secretive certainly works against him. Unfortunately, a discovery of Jean Morel bringing his car for a part at a garage (weakening his alibi) sets Molina’s temper off, taking out his frustration on Camille that the whole family keeps lying to him.

Following on from that is another meet up with the lady forensic scientist again, this time just Camille. After she questions the team, Camille is pulled back by the forensic scientist who asks ‘Molina’s not bad, is he?’. Camille’s reaction is an amusingly lofty ‘I’ll hook you up if you want. That is, if you like the autistic type.’ Despite being put off by his “autistic” type personality, she’s still not happy with the forensic lady’s encroachment.

Rose Morel actually assists the investigation by relating the mind of a teenager; offering suggestions and the like. The tattoo is a lotus flower, symbolising purity etc. You can tell that she’s going to be of use later on.


Episode 4

A man named Mr Dupuis moves things around on the table in the interrogation room at the same pace that the plot is running. While Dupuis acts as a red herring, he is actually slowing down the pace and not for the better. Molina’s aware that this man is messing them about, however he still has to pursue this line of inquiry for the tiny percentage of him telling the truth. To the viewer it’s quite clear that the man is lying and obvious to all that he’s not mentally sound. It’s just a red herring we have to ride until the real suspects return into the picture. Following this, Nico/Nick, the Morel restaurant worker, is flicking through his secret pictures of Léa rather enamoured. Attention shifts to him as a possible suspect and the Disparue 22plot is driven forwards. He has a long-suffering girlfriend who’s told not to be so paranoid. Well, if you’re obsessed with another girl then she has plenty of reason to be suspicious. When Julien questions Chris about him, she once more becomes the Oracle/punch bag. Chris is the keeper of everything Léa related; one wonders how she truly feels about that. Nicholas has tried it on with Léa in the past.

Now the pace is being propelled by the discovery of Jenny the prostitute’s body. Julien continues his vigilante antics of stalking police activity, but is certainly relieved that it’s not Léa’s body. How has this man not been cautioned for going around and punching people and stalking police? Disparue 23Questions now arise as to her links with Léa, and if she was killed because she knows something about her whereabouts while Nico listens on. These bits of dialogue combined with camera shots of telling looks toy with us. Meanwhile, Molina and Camille are trying to piece these links together. They examine Jenny’s belongings only to find Léa’s phone. How does Molina know? His daughter informed him about the symbolism behind the lotus that Léa had tattooed behind her ear. Rose may cost him credit card bills but she proved her worth by relaying insightful information. A nice Disparue 20moment of Molina asking Camille if this is the first dead body she’s faced. Their eyes lock in silent communication, with his lingering on her when she breaks it. He cares! Not so autistic-like anymore, hey Camille? They question Dupuis further and conclude that he’s an opportunist git nit behind Jenny’s murder or Léa’s disappearance.

The pimp makes the mistake of sizing Camille up for his business. As if a policewoman’s going to give up her career to have to deal with a potato like you. Yes, it’s obviously an attempt to one-up her. There’s still some element of him acting like a businessman. Regardless, it proves his worse mistake. Camille has her revenge by emptying coffee onto his lap. I’m sure Molina would back her up, as would her other superiors. It’s worth appreciating that Disparue doesn’t make a meal out of gender and sexual difference. It acknowledges that it happens but deals with it in a way that suits the genre of the programme and is true to the character. Camille will deal with it in a swift and smart way. And she does. That’s not to demand that women (and sometimes men) deal with this situation exactly how she did, but merely to highlight that it avoids cliché.

Meanwhile, Florence is holding out for a miracle; that includes not allowing anyone to sit in Lea’s chair. Because it would insult Léa. I jest, it’s because she believes that by leaving things “open” so to speak, Lea’s more likely to come back. Everyone looks as if they want to say something but know they Disparue 21shouldn’t. It’s an understandably delicate situation. Do they stand back and spectate in fear of tipping the boat, or do they confront her behaviour and save Florence from herself? She is having to pull everything together and hold it there for Zoé’s sake. The girl is asking more questions about her sister, and is absorbing whatever the other kids say at school.

Another suspect enters the fold: Léa’s French teacher. He too is very concerned by her disappearance. Nothing suspect there. But he appears fond of her. Well join the queue! Léa seemed to have men, whether familial, platonic, peers or teachers enamoured with her. On paper it would sound like a dream come true, however in reality it can only be dangerous as one of them is bound to feel wronged by her breezy nature.

 

 

The Secret Life of Pets- Review

If you’re an animal lover, and wonder what your pets get up to when you’re at work (without the foresight to set up cameras), then The Secret Life of Pets (2016, dir. Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney) answers your questions. Slightly. The film’s exposition relies heavily on every single joke and stereotype about pets. Dogs are supremely attached to their owners, cats are aloof, sometimes snooty, and exotic animals are . . .typically zany? In fact, the stereotype about cats was, apart from the case of Chloe (Lake Bell), is prominent throughout the film and is rather dismaying for cat fans. In pet films cats always draw the short straw regarding representation. They are the bad guys, dogs are the good guys. While Chloe the cat is on the side of good, she still retains a superiority. Yes, that’s what we love about cats (and find humour in), however it reinforces the notion that they don’t show affection. Each cat is unique; some are indifferent and others won’t leave you alone at all. The initial peril Max (Louis C.K.) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are thrown into involves a terrifying cornering by hundreds of ratty-looking street cats. Thankfully, the real villain becomes a fluffy, adorable and tiny white bunny rabbit, so cats are now off the hook. Sort of.

The bunny, Snowball (Kevin Hart), as a villain, is literally current. Let me explain: Snowball becomes the antagonist because he was abandoned and thus desires to destroy humans. His actions in the film are anarchic. He is like someone who wants to take the man down for treating loyal companions like consumer items. These inferior animals want to take down the established hierarchy. As of July 2016, this plot is relatable (not that we would hijack animal control vans and establish a hideout in the sewers). I would be interested in reading an essay about this.

The animation was wonderfully whimsical; large eyes and heads on smaller bodies undoubtedly elicits the “aww” reflex. The way that the animals bob along in the shots adds to their cuteness. Even if you’re not a fan of a certain species or breed, in The Secret Life of Pets convinces you that you want them. In fact, the animators really made New York City, the setting, extremely attractive. Clean, green and stylish. Until the pets explore the underbelly.

Max’s introduction in the film is rather amusing. He narrates a brief outline of his life, only he does so as if he’s in a relationship with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). He was looking for a roommate and so was his owner, apparently. The notorious friendzone is invoked within the film when Max is forced to share the apartment (and his owner’s love) with his new “brother” Duke, a humongous Newfoundland who eats up the screen. Because we see things though Max’s perspective, we’re encouraged to dislike Duke, despite Duke’s even temper and attempt to bond. Although, I doubt I’d be happy to share my bed if I were a dog. I don’t even like doing it as a human. Another friendzone is that between Max and Gidget (Jenny Slate). The moment she’s first introduced in the film, her eager questions towards a preoccupied Max scream infatuation. When Max and Duke aren’t returned to their apartment by their unprofessional dog walker, she is the one who leads a campaign to rescue her love. And his frenemy.

The plot is a bit thin; while many occurrences keep the main storyline running without a breath, apart from Duke’s backstory, there doesn’t seem to be a subplot. The pacing does well until the climax, where steam begins to run out and the animals seem to be just running around. What saves this is the nail-biting last couple of minutes of the climax. Nevertheless, this film is highly entertaining and, much to your unwillingness to admit, will have you chuckling at nearly every line. The funniest scene is hands down the sausage factory. I don’t need to tell you to be on the lookout for it because it’s in-your-face. The scene-stealer is the heavy-metal loving poodle. Its owner believes it’s a refined character – much like its environment – but this poodle is a closeted head banger. You will choke on your food and drink.

Why Grey is a Nothing but Toilet Paper

Guest Writer: V. Cole

I’m sure many of us heard about the release of Grey by E. L. James in 2015, the companion novel to the Fifty Shades series, which tells us the story of the first book but in the point of view of the apparently the most desirable guy ever: Christian Grey. After reading the trilogy I can honestly say I am terrified. I do warn you all that this review is not short as there is just too much to discuss.

Let’s start with the background of this series that seemed to be what everyone was talking about in 2012. Having started its life as Twilight fanfiction, when the character’s names were changed (not their personalities), Master of the Universe became Fifty Shades of Grey. Or simpler terms: Twilight porn minus the sparkling. (Don’t worry readers, there is still plenty of dazzling!) Some people loved the series and lauded it as a great love story, one that has sparked sales in whips and other BDSM gear. Others, like myself, thought it as a horrifying story of abuse and appallingly written.

So why did I read this rag? I felt that I couldn’t comment about the messages of the series without reading it. So I borrowed it from my Nan’s neighbour and managed to get through the trilogy, even though I needed a dousing of brain bleach afterwards. I won’t comment too much on the series that is written from Ana’s point of view as it has been done to death. No point flogging a dead horse after all. So I thought I would read and review Grey instead as I appear to be a literary masochist.

Why has it taken me so long to review this book? I refuse point blank to buy this new and therefore fund E.L. James’ bank account. So, I waited, hoping to find it in a charity shop so at least the money could go to a good cause. In the end I got it at a boot sale for 50p; I was OK with that.

Now for the controversial statement: I actually thought this was the best book in the Fifty Shades series. Before you get the pitchforks out; it really says a lot that it is easier to read in the point of view of the psychotic Christian Grey than the utter stupidity that is Anastasia Steele. What a relief it was to not have to read with the vapid sex obsessed “Inner Goddess” and the irritating subconscious constantly showing up just to p*** me off. As much as James tries to make Ana intellectual and deep, she is actually dumber than a rock and could easily win the Darwin Awards. I get she was meant to be naive and Grey opens the world of sex to her but her extreme naivety just makes me want to bash my head against the wall! Who seriously thinks when you are round a guy’s place for sex, especially after seeing a BDSM contract, and he offers to show you his playroom, that he actually means you are going to play Xbox, seriously how stupid can you get?!?!

So in a nutshell yes, this book was easier to read but make no mistake, this book is horrible. Christian Grey is a monster in the trilogy: I would gladly see him meeting Ramsay Snow/Bolton as a prisoner but most likely they would just swap stories and tips. It is always beyond me how so many women think he is the ultimate man to be with, and sometimes I feel forced to think it’s because he is pretty and rich as his personality is just ugly. We saw all this behind the vapid eyes of Ana but now we get pure and non-stop Grey. He is even more ugly and vile in this novel. He is a whiny brat within the first few pages because his personal trainer dared to beat him. His treatment of Ana when he first meets her is deplorable; he is purposely making her uncomfortable and frightened because he is once again nothing but a petulant brat. He enjoys it and keeps thinking of other ways to make her uncomfortable. Then we have the lovely line where she asked him if he is gay and his inner monologue is frankly disturbing as he wants to beat her for punishment. Really?!? James, you do realise it’s 2016 and not 1916 right? Why is it so offensive to you to be asked if you are gay? That just screams to me that he is an insecure homophobe who feels he must be a manly man at all times. I wouldn’t say this if this happened once but throughout this book, he keeps ranting on and on about how dare Ana asks if he is gay and again how much he wants to beat her for it. What a charmer! Doesn’t help that the only two gay characters that appear in this excuse for literature is a stereotypical, flamboyant gay hairdresser and the other is Grey’s assistant. Her being a lesbian is the explanation as to why she doesn’t gape like a moron every time Grey looks at her like every single woman to appear. Fear not, Grey is horrible to all of them for daring to stare at his looks. Throughout the book he is just as patronising and condescending to Ana, but it’s made worse as we are privy to his horrid thoughts.

So we have had our lovely protagonist and now it’s time to discuss our heroine. I made no secret that I think Ana is so mind numbingly stupid, however I also find her very self- involved and hypocritical due to her treatment of her friend Kate. Kate is a genuine friend who just wants to look out for Ana as she is honestly concerned alas, no Ana has to go on and on about Kate in unflattering terms. She is hypocrite in the fact she thinks Kate needs to get a room before she is kissing Elliot considering she lets Grey pleasure her in the lift filled with people (how charming). She is also incredibly possessive of Grey and gets insanely jealous of his ex and friend. So to sum up, Ana is a stupid and unpleasant person. Sadly, as we are in the head of Grey, all we hear about is how amazing, beautiful, intelligent and perceptive Ana is. He will break from his condescending tone to switch to bloated flowery prose of how awesome Ana is. Frankly, it makes me uncomfortable as we all know Ana is James’ self- insert, so it sounds like James is using Grey to w*nk about how great Ana and therefore how great James is *shudder*. I may pause to scrub myself with wire wool and bleach.

Ah, that’s better! I feel clean again even though I may need it again as it’s time to discuss the sex. I got so bored of the sex in the trilogy since it just seemed the same thing over and over, adding a whip and clamp here and there. The sex is still just as boring but to spice things up we now have the psychotic thoughts of Grey to see us through this tedium. One improvement is that Grey doesn’t have the mind of an immature 10-year- old looking and giggling at the reproduction chapter in a science book like Ana does. It seriously p***ed me off that she would constantly say things like ‘down there!’: it’s your vagina you immature bint, for God’s sake!! So yes, at least we get the anatomical names and slang for genitals. On the other hand, sex through Grey’s eyes just creeped me out. He sounded really pervy and every time he said “good girl” I died a little inside. Maybe that’s people’s “thing”, but considering how much he treats Ana like a child in the books it just makes me feel icky.

Then we have the darker side to the sex scenes in this book. The scene that comes to mind is when Ana sends him an email saying no to the relationship after her “research”, which consisted of one whole Wikipedia page. She sends it as a joke because she is stupid, so instead of Grey doing the sensible thing like, you know, calling her to discuss it he just breaks into her house and has sex with her. Who said romance is dead? She dares to roll her eyes at him and that’s when it gets disturbing. He uses sex as a way to humiliate and use her and his thoughts are just vile. He uses the fact that she is wet to prove in his sick head that she loves it even though they practically stopped rutting ten minutes before, so no s**t! He does this constantly; the times that he forces punishment sex on her, he constantly blames her for this and thinks that he is right. We know from her POV that she is terrified and upset. Nice way to victim blame, Grey. Even when she dumps him after he whips her brutally, it is naturally all her fault in his psychotic brain. Why do women lust after this man!?! I honestly want reasons.

The rest of the characters are unsurprisingly just as flat as they were in the trilogy. Can’t waste time with character development when we can spend pages and pages of w*n***g over Ana after all. Mia is still a carbon copy of Alice Cullen which irritates me since I loathe Alice. The only development Mia gets is that she is even more of a petulant child as the more we saw more of her, whereas Elliot just carries on being one of the most likeable characters which to be fair is not hard. The rest are honestly just cardboard cut outs to make our couple look good.

The background character I want to discuss is Ella, or as Grey so charmingly calls his birth mother: the crack whore. In the trilogy, I honestly found her a sympathetic character. She was clearly very young with a four-year- old child who most likely had a very tragic background that caused her to become a drug addicted prostitute. Her pimp constantly beats her and abuses her mentally, she reminds me of Merope Gaunt in the way that she is so downtrodden that she fell to rock bottom and couldn’t live to save her son. However, there are hints in the text that she did love her son, he had toy cars and it is said she made him a birthday cake. Considering it is described that they are extremely poor then that is a kind thing for Ella to do for her son. He says how he loves stroking her hair and there seems to genuine love for her in the irritating child chapters. Yet, in Grey he has a few flashbacks and she calls him ‘maggot’ a few times. This to me screams retcon. I think James realised that she was actually sympathetic and this takes away from the limelight from the amazing Cullens, oh sorry I mean Greys (seriously James, try and make your characters not carbon copies of the Cullens, it’s just lazy). It also made Grey sound like the raging arsehole that he is because the way he talks about her is spiteful – evidence shows that she did love him. Can’t have the Christian Grey seem horrible, so I believe she added that nickname to justify Grey’s horrible attitude towards her.

Overall, this book is just horrible. The prose is sloppy and bloated, it is clear that James abused a thesaurus to make us think she has learnings. I hate Christian Grey with a passion as he is just a vile human being. He is so much worse in this book, he is a petulant, abusive a***hole who uses the guise of BDSM to humiliate and abuse women. This is deeply offensive to the BDSM community where trust, consent and respect are paramount. When it comes to Ana, as much as Grey tries to tell me that she is just oh so intelligent and wonderful it just doesn’t work. She is still just as stupid and no amount of bloated and flowery prose will convince me. If you fancy being enraged, then go ahead and read this book. Just don’t buy it new as we don’t need to fund James who honestly thinks this is a great love story and that Christian Grey is the greatest man ever. Now I’m going to read Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined as like I said I am a literary masochist and then I will most likely rip it to shreds. I think I may need wine.

Disparue/The Disappearance Episodes 1 and 2 – Analysis

Episode 1

We open with the subject, Léa Morel, getting ready for her birthday in the presence of her younger sister Zoé and cousin Chris. Léa is confident in her skin as she dresses and applies her makeup. The confidence only spills over into self-absorption when Léa complains that she’s worn all of her clothes

Disparue 3

and tries on her mother’s. In typical fashion Léa asserts her teenage independence from her mother Florence, who has just noticed that Léa had a little tattoo done behind her ear. So far Léa is presented as a teenager who does typically teenage things such as lying about tattoos and informing parents that their lives are their own and no one else’s. We’ve all been there. While it is to be expected, where Léa is concerned, it feels like a deeper personality flaw. Judging by what we later find out about her, this attitude is the tip of the iceberg. Naturally, the father Julien is less of an

Disparue 4
Wrapped around Julien’s finger.

enemy and grants her extra time to stay out. It all makes no difference because, as this opening scene points out, Léa’s destiny is set in stone based on hints of her personality. Léa has her father Julien and her uncle Jean wrapped around her finger. At this point, Chris is merely Léa’s shadow. Something to keep an eye on.

Léa fails to turn up in the allotted time. The moral of this story is always listen to the worrier; don’t dismiss them because they could be right. Then again, how are we to know that our kids will severely p*** someone off(!) Florence and Léa’s older brother Thomas go to Le City nightclub as the starting point of their investigation, and funnily enough Thomas is too embarrassed to be seen with his mother in a club for youths. It’s not like she’s going to be whooping, flirting with young men and dancing on the tables, Thomas. When that amounts to nothing, attention falls on Chris. She lets the cat out of the bag that Léa was seeing someone on the quiet. Scrutiny then shifts onto the boyfriend. It’s a bit of a slap in the face that she hid this from her parents, another slap when they meet Romain’s mother, whom is already acquainted with Léa. The final blow is delivered when Romain confesses that they’ve been together for six months. Dun. Dun. DUNNNN. Léa did the “Meet the Parents” only with her boyfriend’s side and not her own. Another bit of information they didn’t know about their daughter.

A clever little exposition technique I appreciate is Léa’s parents leaving the police station at the same time as the new investigator Bertrand Molina swaggers in. They pass each other not knowing that they are about to see a lot of each other. Molina’s superior arrives to welcome him, and a wonderful contrast is shown using costume. Superintendent Louvin enters in a polo shirt with visible sweat patches, while Molina is suited up and cool as a cucumber. One can take the heat and one can’t – we know who our leading man is going to be.

Despite it being obvious that Léa’s not going to show up, her family prepare her birthday party. Well it wouldn’t be The Disappearance if she magically appeared when desired. Julien later gives some information to Molina about Léa’s situation before her disappearance: ‘She is a good student. She gets on with everyone. She’s very sociable.’ Hm. A way of countering the not-so-glowing picture we were just beginning to get of her. Like stashing little packets of cocaine in her drawer. A terrible idea since she has a little sister who wants to be like her and would probably explore her room when it’s vacant. As for ‘sociable’, sociable people just have more people to upset or offend, so that hardly discounts her not having any enemies. I must say, when Julien starts getting a bit confrontational with Molina he handles it quite well. He just has to give Julien “the look” and Julien takes it down a notch. I think that clip should go on a workplace training video on How to Diffuse a Situation. Alas, Molina will empathise with Julien to some degree because he too has a daughter. They both have soft spots for their little girls, and Molina knows what it’s like to have his distance herself from him. He lights up when Rose exits her school, waiting for her to pick up her phone so that he can surprise her. She snubs him. His attempts at masking his disappointment are fruitless. Even being daddy’s girls doesn’t prevent them from straying.

Léa’s boyfriend Romain becomes our chief suspect for the latter part of the episode, with him reluctantly revealing that they had a fight before she disappeared. In the midst of amorous activity, it’s revealed that he’d also engaged in amorous activity with her cousin Chris. Ahhh young love. You almost feel sorry for Molina having to delve into the world of youth. His

Disparue 6
Molina’s so done.

expression is a picture: he’s trying to remain serious but this isn’t his favourite part of questioning. It gets a bit too intimate when you know the ins and outs of the lives of both the victim and the relatives. Camille Guerin comes in to save her superior Molina from having to shoulder this responsibility of knowing everything. Molina also requires someone to challenge his hunches; there’s an instant stare-down after their introduction regarding Romain’s innocence. Most of the time my guesses as to who’ll end up an “interest” of some sorts is right. My radar buzzed the moment Camille made her first appearance. I do like, however, that it’s not immediately obvious as a setup. Molina doesn’t take his eye (figuratively) off the case to initiate anything between them. There

Disparue 7
Conversation shut down.

might be a connection between them, but it takes a backseat to the case for both of them. A delicious interaction between Camille and Molina is in the car when she asks him how he’s finding Lyon. His flat ‘It’s alright’ prompts her to stare at him for derailing her attempt at small talk.

Molina’s meetup with his daughter on the bridge gave away more information than first absorbed. Rose reveals that Molina’s ‘only in Lyon because of some trouble in Paris.’ Oooh no reply from Molina. The writers can’t just throw us a juicy titbit like that and expect us to be fine with it. They can’t just leave it at that. Aha! I think you’ll find they can. My hunch: in episode 2 it’s revealed that his experience working in the minors department has exposed him to incest being behind crimes such as these. Given how quickly he jumps to Lea’s father having possible inappropriate relations with her, it’s a topic which, because he has faced it many times, can sometimes cloud his ability to consider all angles. Perhaps Molina’s “trouble” stems from him being personally affected by these cases to the point it challenged his professionalism? His “trouble” couldn’t have been serious because he’s still retained a high-up job in the police force, just in another location. Perhaps it was less a professional problem and more a personal one. It’s not something that’s examined further within the series.


Episode 2

The writers attempt to tantalise our senses with a suspenseful opening; Léa fleeing helplessly in a dark wood. Sound and light indicates that she is

Disparue 8
Lea on the run.

being hunted by a vehicle. Will this give us a clue as to how she – nope. Fooled ya! It’s just Florence dreaming about her missing daughter’s possible demise. The fact that it happens in her personal office is significant because it demonstrates how much the disappearance is haunting her: it won’t even leave her alone at work.

Julien becomes the suspect target in the opening section of the episode. As alluded to in the previous episode’s analysis: Molina suspects that Julien’s relationship with Léa was an incestuous one. If anything, knowing what we know about the narrative’s outcome, this hypothesis only proves two things (OK, maybe three). One: that the writers are really trying to throw off our investigative skills, two: that Molina has been exposed to some gruesome happenings in his line of work, three: even a professional gets it wrong initially. Julien’s reaction to Molina’s suggestions in questioning, is to moronically go for him. Going for a policeman is worse than going for a civilian for obvious reasons.

While Molina turns up at the race track for some answers, we’re provided a nice interlude with Camille’s character being unwrapped. I sound like a Camille fangirl, but it’s difficult not to find her endearing. Her burger consumption is interrupted by her mother’s phone call, and she is forced to answer questions on her general state, love life and diet in the space of a minute. I’m sure we can all relate. Camille reveals that she recently broke up with her boyfriend because he’s an ‘arsehole’. Which opens her up. Do you see where I’m going with this? Afterwards, having questioned Lea’s brother Thomas, Camille recounts the meeting with Molina. I love their interactions. She brings him coffee, wondering when he’s going to drink it instead of letting it sit there. Only then does he admit aloofly that he doesn’t like coffee. Smooth. The best fictional couplings begin with scenes such as this. To add further humour to the situation, Molina’s ex-wife makes a short stop. Molina catches Camille observing, some brief eye

Disparue 12
Molina curious about Camille’s bin bags. (Not a euphemism).

contact, followed by Camille’s attempt to pretend she wasn’t watching. Later, Camille is found ordering bin bags not to be thrown out with a note. Molina clearly is intrigued by what she’s doing and why they’re there. In the end, he’s snapped out of his interest when she informs him about the case’s details. Her sarcastic reply to the emptied space before her shows her frustration at the lack of conversation. Or normal human interaction, for that matter.

Viewer’s alarm bells are set off simultaneously as Chris has a private conversation with Romain under the watch of Thomas. Chris proclaims her love for Romain days after her cousin’s disappearance. Classy. This does sound like the synopsis for an episode of 902010, however it also gives the audience insight into Chris’ motivations. Overlapping relationships seems to be the theme of this episode, with Julien and Florence’s marriage suffering the strain of their daughter’s disappearance and Julien’s previous infidelity. What is both worrying and entertaining to view: Florence goes mafia on the mistress by demanding that she tell the truth to the police, and then messes up her apartment. This family. This is a lesson to learn: if

Disparue 14
Molina’s so done. Again.

you plan on having an extra-marital affair. Don’t. Your mistress will cause problems for you when your daughter goes missing. You’ll end up a suspect. Since we’re on the topic of the mistress, Molina visits her as she wants to change her testimony. I like this scene as well because Molina looks so fed up with this merry goose-chase of a case. He desperately just wants to get to the bottom of the case and not be an agony aunt of sorts.

Romain is forced to drop the ball on keeping Léa’s secrets. The racing gloves don’t fit him because they’re not even his. Léa was a secret race car driver. Another secret revealed. Léa kept it a secret because she knew her parents wouldn’t react well – especially Julien whose brother had an “accident”. It seems vehicular recklessness is a hereditary thing. Well, once more Chris becomes the Oracle of Lyon; Julien corners her into revealing more about Léa’s secret life. Did she know about the coke? How much did she take? Did Chris know she was racing? Chris also suffers his outburst. She does well to remain composed, despite this. By composed I mean retain her doe impression. At the end of the episode, Julien in his vigilante antics, is rescued by Molina from a pimp. More to come of scenes with Julien on a rampage.

Infuriated about being kept in the dark by the police as well, Julien marches to confront Molina. The stand-off is tense, but it’s Camille’s handling of the situation that stands out the most. ‘He’s worried sick about his daughter. Don’t be so hard on him.’ Molina counters this by saying ‘Better a grumpy good cop than a polite bad one.’ I really do love their interactions. Once more, they balance each other out: Camille’s response to that is ‘Neither has found his daughter.’ As I mentioned in the review, both act as voice of reasons to each other.