Thursday, April 27, 2017

The onscreen objectification of men and women

When we think about objectification we normally think of women; however when it comes to the onscreen world, movies in particular, men are also objectified.

At the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 press conference a reporter talked to Actor Chris Pratt and director James Gunn about objectification; more specifically the requirement, of Marvel hero’s, to bare their chest (men) or wear revealing clothes (women) in the movie.

“It hasn’t hurt my career!” said Chris “We are objects. It’s true, we are. We’re props. They shine a light on us, they paint us up with makeup, and they take a camera and point it at us. Half the time, what ruins it is us talking.
“I would say that objectification is good for me because when I turned my body into an object that people liked, I got paid a lot of money. My kids can go to college because I’m an object. As a man, I can say that.”

When Chris was asked whether he thought there was a double standard in how women compared to men were objectified he accepted that the sexes were treated differently: “I have to be careful because for generations — for millennia — women have been objectified in a way where there’s a pretty horrifying past. So that’s a little bit different, and there probably is what you’d call a double standard, but I think you have to deal with them separately because there’s a history of objectification [with women] that is a sensitive issue.”

James Gunn then added his own thoughts on the objectification of women and men in movies: “It’s not about being sexually attractive or thought of as a beautiful object,” said James. “It’s about the fact that many women in films today are reduced to being only that. When Chris Pratt looks beautiful onscreen, or Chris Evans looks beautiful onscreen … in all honesty, people take that in [stride] and then they still go, ‘But what’s that guy like? What’s his personality?’”

“Chris Pratt is great because he’s funny and he’s sexy and he’s got this vulnerable side — there’s all these different attributes about him,” the director continued. “Whereas men take these women and all that they’re [reduced to] is this one aspect of themselves, that they’re sexual beings. Everything else about their personalities is negated. That’s the really difficult thing, and why it isn’t exactly a one-to-one thing between men and women being objectified.”

James hopes that Guardians 2, which adds Nebula (Karen Gillan) to the titular team alongside her sister Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and introduces kooky telepath Mantis (Pom Klementieff) as well as imperious ruler Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), can prove that female characters are more than mere window dressing in comic-book movies.

 

                                            

Monday, March 13, 2017

How nice are you?

If I asked you this question, would you point to a list of actions e.g. giving up your seat on a train, giving directions to a stranger or opening a door for someone, as proof that you are a nice person? According to a recent study, you might not be as nice as you think you are.

Psychologists from Goldsmiths University of London (in partnership with Monarch Airlines) conducted the study in order to determine if there is a link between nice people and their levels of health, wealth and happiness.

Facereader, which monitors facial features such as furrowing of brows, how eyes appear and shape of mouth, was used in conjunction with questionnaires to validate participates responses.

The researchers found that:

- 98 % of British people believe that that they are in the top half of the population when it comes to niceness.

- most people happily did the actions detailed above such as giving up their seat on public transport but:-
       i) two thirds rarely if ever helped someone to carry heavy shopping bags,
      ii) five-sixths infrequently give money to strangers, and
     iii) only a quarter of people give blood or help elderly or regularly helped the elderly/infirm to cross the road.

- Those who rated themselves as “nice” were likely to be richer (nicer people earn £3,500 more than those who are ‘nasty’) and happier, but not necessarily more pleasant.

- 81 per cent of the “nice” participants reported being content in their lives – almost three times the number of “not very nice” participants (30 per cent).

Conclusion:
“Our study shows that participants who report that they are ‘nice’ scored higher on emotional intelligence – which can help them deal better with stress and chaos in their lives,” said Professor Jonathan Freeman, who led the study.

“The results reveal that our opinions of our own niceness do not always stack up with the psychometric data.

“We observed a really interesting result in relation to people’s ratings of how nice they are, and how they scored on validated measures of individual differences.

“For example, more than half of participants who rated themselves as the second-highest level of nice scored below the sample average on agreeableness - so people think they’re nicer than they really may be.”

 

                                            

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Overweight, inactive and consumes to much alcohol

It’s 2017 and many people have plans to lose weight or improve their overall health. A study from Public Health England suggests that middle age British people should be putting similar plans into action.

Researchers found that 80% of British adults between the ages of 40 - 60 are overweight, inactive and/or consume too much alcohol; all of which has a negative impact on their current and future health.

The study, which compared data from 20 years ago (1991-1993) with information collected in 2011 – 2013, concluded that the later group was less healthy than earlier study participants. This fact was largely blamed on modern sedentary lifestyles.

Continue reading

 

                                            

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Peaceful or angry

It’s New Year; resolutions, life change and priorities are once again centre stage of our thoughts. Resolutions and the desire for change are often self-centre e.g. I'm going to lose weight, drink less and exercise or save more. This year, I have decided to concentrate my energy on changing my behavior or actions in order to benefit others. For example, what can I change to improve certain relationships or what can I do to help someone else.

Self introspection will be the starting point of this change. Am I peaceful or angry? Do I support and encourage or do I embarrass, hurt and criticize others? Am I a calming, self-controlled influence or is my presence akin to pouring petrol on a smoldering fire?

We are often advised to tell others about resolutions or aspirational life changes in order to help us maintain our resolve. In this instance I intend to do the opposite; I am not going to mention it to anyone. Improving relationships or the circumstances of others will be all the motivation I need.

I am not saying that am not going to make any self focused changes; what I am saying that my main emphasis will be on others. Please join me if you agree with the sentiments expressed above.

Happy New Year!

                                            

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Technology and social interaction

 

Technology has and is changing our society; revolutionizing how we live, work and relate to each other.

At this year’s World Economic Forum Anand Mahindra (Chairman and MD of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd) voiced his concern about technologies effects on social interaction:

“You know I used to always be puzzled when people would talk about fear of technology and change, because the evidence is quite on the contrary. Technology has only helped humanity, quality of life.

“But a couple of images come to my mind which truly does scare me … scare me for human kind if you will. One was very recently, I was in New York and I was at dinner with my family. Next to us were four young girls having some kind of teen get together and the moment they sat down they pulled out their iPhones and we timed them. For 15 minutes they didn't say a word to each other they were just looking at their phones. And my daughter said, “do you know what the doing dad, their Instagramming their friends saying ‘girls night out, having a great time’ “.

“And I thought about that and I thought, ‘you know this will be recorded, so it will go out to multiple phones and everywhere around the world, maybe someone will pick it up in India, there would be people saying there was a girls night out. I know there never was a girls night out; it eluded them, the essence of the human interaction is being recorded, but it never existed. It's some kind of ghost world that people are talking about”.

Click here to listen.

I think we can all appreciate what Mr Mahindra is saying. Many of us have seen and even been part of a group where everyone’s attention is on their phone rather than on their companions. Lets hope technology is never allowed to take over personal face-to-face relationships; it would be a tragedy if we lost the most important and meaningful aspect of being human.

 

                                            

Monday, December 12, 2016

Changing our perception of people with disabilities

Recently Megan Nash submitted photos of her 15-month-old son Asher who has downs syndrome, in response to an online casting call by the retailer Oshkosh, who were looking to cast a child model.

When she did not receive a reply, Megan contacted the advertising company and learnt that they had not forwarded her photos to Carters, Oshkosh’s parent company, because Carters had not specified that they were looking for “a baby with special needs”.

“I felt angry and I felt hurt”, Megan explained, “and I thought you know this is a form of discrimination. I wondered how many other babies and children and adults are getting turned down or not being submitted because they have a disability”.

Frustrated Megan posted her story and some pictures of her son online. The post with viral, eventually catching the attention of Carters, who decided to cast Asher in one of their upcoming campaigns.

“I see the way the world looks at my daughter”, said Megan, “and I see the way the world looks at my son [Asher]. I feel like it would change the world’s perception of people with disabilities.

“Our children are the future, just like anybody else's child. We all have to come together and we have to except people with disabilities, so that they can live amongst their peers and have a normal and happy life”.

We think Asher has lovely face; he will make a great model.

 

 

                                            

Friday, December 09, 2016

Obituary- a chance to say thank you

You have probably heard words to the effect that when people are on their death bed, they don’t wish that they were more beautiful or successful, but that they were more loving, generous and forgiving.

Before Sonia Todd (38) of Moscow, Idaho died from terminal cancer; she wrote her own obituary. It was published in the Idaho Statesman Newspaper on October 19, 2012. Today, years later, it is still discussed and shared world wide:

Excerpt:

“My name is Sonia Todd, and I died of cancer at the age of 38. I decided to write my own obituary because they are usually written in a couple of different ways that I just don’t care for….

“Other than giving birth to my two wonderful, lovable, witty and amazing sons (James and Jason), marrying my gracious, understanding and precious husband (Brian), and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior – I have done very little….

“The truth, or my version of it, is this: I just tried to do the best I could. Sometimes I succeeded, most of the time I failed, but I tried. For all of my crazy comments, jokes and complaints, I really did love people. The only thing that separates me from anyone else is the type of sin each of us participated in. I didn’t always do the right thing or say the right thing and when you come to the end of your life those are the things you really regret, the small simple things that hurt other people.

“My life was not perfect and I encountered many, many bumps in the road. I would totally scrap the years of my life from age 16 to 20 … OK, maybe 14 to 22. I think that would eradicate most of my fashion disasters and hair missteps from the ’80s. But mostly, I enjoyed life. Some parts of it were harder than others, but I learned something from every bad situation and I couldn’t do any more than that…

“Some folks told me that writing my own obituary was morbid, but I think it is great because I get a chance to say thank you to all the people who helped me along the way. Those who loved me, assisted me, cared for me, laughed with me and taught me things so that I could have a wonderful, happy life. I was blessed beyond measure by knowing all of you. That is what made my life worthwhile”.

As you live your life and interact with others, family, friends, work colleagues and even casual acquaintances, remember that you have the ability to affect and perhaps leave a lasting mark (good or bad) on their life.

 

                                            

Monday, November 28, 2016

Taxis discriminating against guide dogs

Click here or on image to view enlargement.

 

                                            

Monday, November 21, 2016

Facing death

In the last few days the truth that everyone dies has been laid bare by two stories illustrating the very different ways that individuals suffering from terminal cancer approached their own death. Heidi wants to live for many reasons, the main one being to see her two young sons grow up. ‘JS’, a 14 year old girl, wanted time in order to experience much more of what life has to offer.

Heidi Loughlin was diagnosed (while she was pregnant) with a rare form of breast cancer last year. She delayed her treatment to save her baby, but sadly the little girl who was born early at 28 weeks, died a week later. Heidi has been told that she has two-and-a-half years to live. Speaking to the BBC she outlined her thoughts about dying, her children and how she intends to live the remainder of her life:

“It's all about the kids, I'm not scared this is so morbid but I'm not scared to die; I'm not scared of the process. I am massively worried about saying goodbye, maybe they'll think I've abandoned them or something; I'm terrified about that. I just want them to know how much I love them.

“I have horrifying moments where I am wailing and devastated and then I lay there and think ‘well this is really my life.,… that's scary. Then I think you need to get a grip of yourself because actually you're not dead yet are you? You feel fine don't you, therefore crack on”.

Before she died, JS won a court ruling granting her wish for her body to be cryogenically preserved (frozen) so that she can be brought back to life at some point in the future. In a letter to the court she’s stated:

“I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done. I’m only 14 years old and I don’t want to die, but I know I am going to. I think being cryo‐preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years’ time.

“I don’t want to be buried underground. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they might find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. I want to have this chance. This is my wish.” JS’s body has now been preserved in the US.

Both Heidi’s and JS’s poignant accounts clearly show that health and being healthy should be the number one priority for everyone. Beauty/attractiveness, celebrity and power, which are all highly valued in our society, means very little if a person is suffering from health issues.

 

                                            

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Feminism and cosmetic surgery

If you are a supporter of cosmetic surgery can you still call yourself a feminist? One side of the debate argues that Feminisms is defined as the ‘advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. It is not about what women can, cannot, should or should not do. Therefore, if a woman makes the choice to have cosmetic surgery, it’s her self-determining right to do what she wants with her own body and nothing to do with feminism par se.

Those on the opposite side of the argument dismiss this rationale as watered down feminism. They contend that by improving the way that you look via cosmetic surgery; you are by all intent and circumstances giving in to male dominated pressures to look good.

The vast majority of cosmetic surgery patients are female (over 90%). The main reason cited for having surgery is to look and feel better. In the book The Beauty Myth, author Naomi Wolf states that the beauty industry has its foundations in a belief system that maintains and reinforces male dominance e.g. attractive women earn 12% more than their less attractive coworkers. This fact encourages many females to take steps to enhance their physical appearance. Many feminists therefore feel duty bound to push against male dominance. The makeup free movement in the 70’s, 80’s and more recently the mass posting of makeup free selfies epitomizes this point of view.

Recently (much to her surprise) journalist, author and feminist Angela Neustatter found herself at the centre of heated criticism after revealing that she’d had eye-lift surgery. Discussing the story with Channel 5’s Matthew Wright comedian Arabella Weir, who also had eye surgery, argued that modern feminism should be about women showing understanding and supporting one another in the choices they make. In response Mr Wright disagreed, reasoning that the more women have surgery to improve their appearance or to reduce the evidence of ageing, the more people will believe that they have to look good in order to compete on an equal playing field with female peers in the workforce. Similarly, psychologist Ross Taylor maintains that the normalisation of cosmetic surgery and proliferation of ads plays into body insecurities; leading to more and women deciding to undergo cosmetic surgery.

Explaining why she decided to have eye surgery, Mrs Weir stated that she’d had the procedure because she was on television and “wants to stay on television as long as I can”. She also emphatically denied that she was “letting down the sisterhood” adding that she is “very confident, educated privileged and didn't feel [male related] pressure and had always believed that she had to take control of her own destiny professionally and in every other way. In consequence she concluded that her surgery was therefore not anti-feminist in nature.

 

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