Our thoughts on LOVE (Netflix)

Okay this isn’t another post about love as in the emotion, I’m not about to have another existential crisis. At least I hope not. LOVE is a new Netflix Original show and I binged watched it and I have some thoughts (naturally). I also asked my followers on Twitter what their thoughts on the show were and so I’m going to include them in this post.

LOVE is set in Los Angeles which I liked because pretty much all the shows I watch are set in New York City so ya know, LA is different. It’s written and directed by Judd Apatow – you know Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, Girls, Trainwreck – he knows this world. It was also was written by and stars Paul Rust, who I had never heard of before and also stars Gillian Jacobs who I adore from Community!

This will probably contain spoilers.

The story follows Mickey and Gus who at the beginning of the series both have break ups and find themselves single. Then they meet and the rest of the series is the two of them figuring out what the eff is going on between them and in their heads.

So here’s what you thought (yes I’m using your tweets to organise my own thoughts).

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And here we are analysing it! This is going to go well…

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Okay great start. Thanks Holly, but I kind of agree (it is getting a second series though).

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Alright let’s talk about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing. I think the show is definitely set up this way – Gus is the “nice” boring guy and Mickey is the wild and exciting girl. But actually they’re not that at all. Gus turns out to be a complete dick and Mickey is also super selfish and has a lot of issues.

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I kind of agree, the ‘nice guy’ trope definitely doesn’t work here because Gus is an actual arse. Sometimes I like TV with unlikeable characters and it seems you guys do too but this one just didn’t click with me. To be honest my favourite character was Bertie, Mickey’s Australian housemate – I think she stole the show and I want to see more of her!

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The bit that irks me the most about Gus’ behaviour is the ending and a few people on Twitter had problems with it too!

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YES WTF!? A girl who you’ve slept with, hurt emotionally and just had a massive argument with comes to you basically crying and desperate saying she needs to sort out her own life because she has problems with addiction and is planning on spending the next year single… and you kiss her?!!?! That’s not okay. Were you not listening?!?! I hope they just cut that clip too early and we actually missed seeing Mickey slapping Gus away.

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I agree the show wasn’t very diverse but I’m assuming because you said you didn’t finish watching it you missed the scene where they kind of address this. Kevin, Gus’ mate at work who listens to all his problems and is black, starts talking about the trope of the wise black guy in a film who is a minor character and gives all the advice. Basically, exactly what Kevin is doing. Gus says ‘oh yeah I hate it when they do that’ and Kevin surprisingly says he always loves that character and that’s what he came to LA for – he wants to act one of those guys. Unless there’s another layer here I’m missing I thought this bit was quite funny. BUT I still think it would be better to just have a more diverse cast rather than not and have to find a self-aware way to address it.

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Agree.

Going to end it here because otherwise I could go on for days (and so can you guys – the tweets are still coming in!)

Have you watched LOVE? What did you think? Do you want to watch LOVE? (although this may have put you off). Let me know in the comments!

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Birthday Books! #WorldBookDay

It’s World Book Day today! If you haven’t met me or you’re new to my blog then fyi I LOVE books! I’m trying (for a second time) to read 50 books this year but unfortunately I have a tendency to buy books faster than I read them. It was my birthday recently and my aunt, uncle & cousins gave me an Amazon voucher (thanks!) and naturally a spent it, and some, on books!

Some of these are books that I’ve had my eye on for a while and others were recommended by my friend Leena. She has a YouTube channel and talks about feminism and books amongst other things. You should definitely check it out!

Here are the books I bought! Happy Birthday, me!

Just now looking at them all together I realise there may be some kind of them… Spinster? Breaking up? Sleeping alone? Not giving a fuck? WHAT KIND OF HEAD SPACE AM I IN RIGHT NOW?!

Spinster: Making A Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

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With the way my life is going at the moment I think I need to learn to embrace spinsterhood. Also the subtitle of this book reminds me of what I was trying to say in the paragraph “I’m set in my ways” in my blog post on being single. I’m genuinely so interested to see what Kate Bolick has to say about relationships, being single and remaining single.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

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The moment Leena mentioned this book I thought I have to have it! It’s sort of a parody of self-help books but it’s all about how to not give a fuck. To be honest, I’m expecting it to be actually helpful as well as really funny. I often give too many fucks and it’s exhausting caring about so many things and this book will help me budget my fuck-giving.

All This Has Nothing to do with Me by Monica Sabolo

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From what I understand this book is about a woman who fancies a guy at work and becomes quite obsessed with him. There’s art and drawings in the book like their office plan and where they sit in relation to each other. It’s meant to be pretty creepy and funny and I’m looking forward to reading something from the perspective of someone with an unhealthy fascination with another person. Maybe I can relate.

Why We Broke Up by Mark Kalman

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If you hadn’t noticed I’ve been a bit obsessed with break ups recently. With my whole blog about my favourite break up songs and then I did a show on BBC Radio 1 where I spoke about break ups and played break up songs for an hour. Fun times. This is YA book about why a couple have broken up. It’s in letter form and goes through various objects in a box that have some connection to the relationship and explain why they broke up. I’ve avoided YA fiction that focuses on romance for so long that I’m excited to read a really good one… well, an anti-romance one.

The Art of Sleeping Alone by Sophie Fontanel 

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This is the memoir of a French woman who gave up sex for a year. Needless to say I am very intrigued about the results of her pledge and curious to see if this book changes how I think about my personal relationship with sex.

Damn, there really is a theme here. I’ll let you know how I get along with them! Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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How To Be Single – Film Review

Last week I went to the European Premier of the new female led comedy How To Be Single. There was a pink carpet and instead of popcorn they gave us weird tasting pink chocolate (the chocolate wasn’t pink, just the wrapper). I don’t normally do in depth film reviews but I have a lot of things on my mind about this film.

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Before we really get into it I want to say that I really liked How To Be Single (HTBS). I was laughing so hard during it and I love all the actresses it in – Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann – I think they’re all wonderful and so funny. I’m all for a female led comedy – Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect are some of my favourite films and although this isn’t a blog about representation I will say that we need more comedies led by black women coming out of Hollywood please.

HTBS is about 4 single ladies in New York all finding their own ways to be single. I really like how it doesn’t treat being single as a stage in between relationships but as a state of being in its own right. And I think it’s great how they show different ways of  being single, that there’s no right way to do it. Although I will say it’s not really a film about “how to be single” it’s more a film of self-discovery.

Okay, so we’ve established that I liked the film. I definitely want to see it again so I can remember some of the quotes and use them in my actual real single life. But here’s the catch – it’s not a good film. And there are several reasons for this. Let’s talk about them.

Alison Brie’s character is completely redundant 

The character Lucy could have been cut entirely and it wouldn’t have changed the film at all. She is not part of the girl gang. She doesn’t become friends with any of them, she’s just chilling out in the sidelines with her own storyline. She doesn’t interact with any of the other characters except the character Tom and she’s basically used as a device for Tom’s character development. I did like the Lucy-Tom friendship though because I thought it was setting itself up to be a massive cliché and it wasn’t but her character was still pointless.

Does it even pass the Bechdel Test?

I am aware that passing the Bechdel Test doesn’t necessarily make a film “good” but you’d expect a comedy about being single with 4 female characters in it to pass with flying colours. It does pass (I think) but barely. When the girls aren’t talking about boys they’re talking about babies, sex, body hair, getting drunk etc… Wooo! Women! There’s obviously nothing wrong with talking about these things but we talk about other stuff too.

One dimensional characters

I know I said that all the characters have different ways of living that single life. At first I thought it was great that all the characters were so different but then I thought about it more and actually we’ve gone backwards 20 years because turns out they’ve just replicated the Sex and the City characters. For real.

Robin (Rebel Wilson) = Samantha, the one that sleeps around and doesn’t settle down.

Alice (Dakota Johnson) = Carrie, completely loses herself in relationships and can’t stay single.

Meg (Leslie Mann) = Miranda, career-obsessed independent woman who actually has a heart.

Lucy (Alison Brie) = Charlotte, desperate for a relationship, marriage and children.

WHERE IS THE LIE?!

Do they even go to work?

The characters Robin and Alice meet because they work at the same place but once they’ve met we never really see them go back to work again. When Alice has her becoming-herself-montage we never see her at work, did she quit? And when Robin and Alice fall out and don’t speak for a few weeks are we supposed to believe that either one of them or both of them stopped going to work!? The location where Alice’s apartment is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (I felt so cool that I recognised the street) would be so expensive! She needs to work!

Being single is just a piss up

First of all, if you’re not British a “piss up” is basically a booze fest. HTBS portrays single life as just going clubbing and getting drunk ALL THE TIME. I don’t know about you but my single social life consists of brunch/lunch/dinner dates with friends, hanging out at someone’s house or the occasional outing to music/comedy gigs, cultural excursions or shopping. Most of the time I spend with my friends is sober and I didn’t really get that vibe from the film. But if you want to pre-drink before going out but you don’t actually want to drink alcohol you should watch this film. It will get you pumped. I felt so drunk and ready to go clubbing after watching it and I was completely sober.

Despite all my issues with HTBS I would recommend you watching it because it’s just a really funny film that you can switch off and enjoy. Once you switch back on you end up with blog posts like this but genuinely at the time I really enjoyed this film.

Have you seen it? Are you planning to go see it? What expectations do you have for female led comedies in 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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My Favourite Break Up Songs

So it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend and as discussed in my last blog post I have been single for 5 years. So like many others out there I have no plans for Valentine’s Day…

EXCEPT my TV show, Love Fix, airs on Valentine’s Day at 10pm on ITV2 so please watch it!

Anyway… because I will not be all loved up this year I thought I would shake things up a bit and tell you about my favourite break up songs. Now even though I have been single for 5 years I have been dating and occasionally had my heart broken and I’ve gone through a few break ups in my teens as well. This isn’t a list of THE BEST BREAK UP SONGS EVER. These are my personal favourites. I hope this introduces you to some new artists and songs and that this blog introduces you to your next break up song that you listen to whilst crying.

Also, I will warn you now. My favourite genre of music is folk so most of these will be folky songs. That’s just my jam. Deal with it.

Ghost Town by First Aid Kit

This song is not only one of my favourite break up songs it is my favourite song. Ever. By my favourite band. Ever. This song basically epitomised my love life in 2011. It’s about loving someone but not being able to give your all to them and needing to follow a different path for the time being. It’s about promising to come back to that person eventually but knowing that by the time you’re ready to be with them they’ll probably have settled down with someone else. And it’s about asking that person to remember you fondly. It gets me right in the feels! And it’s just a beautiful, heartbreaking, simple song with stunning harmonies.

Canopies and Drapes by Emmy the Great

Emmy the Great is one of my favourite lyricists. She tells vulnerable stories through her lyrics that just tell it as it is and are very funny. Canopies and Drapes is an example of a perfect break song/story. The “character” is insanely heartbroken and doing all sorts of crazy things, drinking all the time, calling him at stupid hour in the morning. Then she’s singing about all the music she’s been listening to and wants to tell her ex about. It just brilliantly brings to life that feeling of being so alone and helpless, trying to cling on to any memory of the other person, noticing their absence, trying new things and eventually moving on.

New Romantic by Laura Marling

I love this song because it’s from the perspective of the dumper not the dumpee. If you’re the person on the receiving end of this song then it’s going to be pretty harsh to hear because it’s so blunt and honest but that’s why I love it. It doesn’t hold back. New Romantic is a song version of a book that’s written with an unreliable narrator. She’s selfish and messed up but she’s honest about it. Great break up song if you’re feeling generally fed up with love and confused by the whole thing.

Pretty Girl from Michigan by The Avett Brothers

Okay this song just makes me angry listening to it again now. It reminds me of a very specific person in my life. For me personally, it feels like this specific person is singing it to me and tearing my heart out at the same time. Just listen to the lyrics. It’s this guy basically saying “whoops I shouldn’t have said/done all those things because whoops you fell in love with me and whoops I don’t love you back and actually I didn’t really mean any of it and whoops now you’re crying soz lol”. But despite the personal connection I feel to this song it is a brilliant song. Especially because it’s not often an artist will write a song from the perspective of a nasty person, usually they want you to be on their side, but with this song you can tell the person singing it isn’t great and they blame the girl’s weakness for her heartbreak and not his own behaviour. Maybe I’m too close to this song and you get something else from it?

Well there you go. Four of my favourite break up songs for very different reasons. Sorry it got a bit personal at the end there but seriously listening to that song just brings it all back and I get very angry. What do you think of these songs? Had you heard them before? I’d love to hear what you think of them! Also, if you have any personal favourite break up songs please let me know in the comments!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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To Be Read 2016

There are SO MANY books that I haven’t read. This includes classics, books that have been out for years and new releases that everyone is talking about except me. Every time someone recommends me a book or I like the look of one in a BookTube video I watch, it gets added to my TBR List. There is the actual list on my Goodreads and then there’s also one in my head and a physical one on my bookshelf.

I am attempting the 50 Book Challenge again in 2016 (spoiler: it’s the third week of January and I’m already behind) and I thought I would prioritise some books that I want to read. I took a look at my bookshelf and picked out 8 books that I WILL read in 2016! Here we go…

Room by Emma Donoghue 

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I went to a press screening of the film adaptation in December, absolutely loved it and it made me want to read the book! It’s about a young woman who was kidnapped and her son who was born in Room and she has brought him up to believe that Room is the entire world. It’s heartbreaking and incredible. I am so excited to read this.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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I am so late to the party on this one. I have watched Adichie’s TED Talks many times: We Should All Be Feminists and The Danger of a Single Story. Both are absolutely brilliant and I think she’s brilliant so I can’t wait to finally read this book! I genuinely have no idea what it’s about. Good start.

How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

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First of all, this isn’t the actual cover it’s a proof copy. Holly is a friend of mine and you may remember her as I’ve spoken about her books The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting and Am I Normal Yet? on my channel before. She is a wonderful YA author and isn’t afraid to tackle important topics like feminism, sex and mental health. How Hard Can Love Be? is part of the  ‘Normal’ series and it carries on from Evie’s story in the first book with Amber’s story in this one. I know lots of you enjoyed Am I Normal Yet? so get your hands on this one when it comes out in February!

A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam

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This is part of my “read more non-fiction books about sex” resolution. This book is an exploratory look at people’s desires, sexual attitudes and behaviours based on their Google searches. Sounds fascinating to me!

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

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This is the first book by O’Neill (her second being Asking for It which is our Banging Book Club read for January). I’ve already finished it and spoiler alert she’s an amazing author so I’m very keen to read this book too. From what I understand it’s a dystopian novel about beauty. Can’t wait.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

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Speaking of the Banging Book Club, All the Rage is our book for April and I’m really interested to see how it differs from Asking for It because it is about similar themes.  I have heard so many good things about this book. Also, the actual cover is different, this is another proof cover.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

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Amanda Palmer is another one whose TED Talk The Art of Asking I absolutely love. My friend Leena recommended me this book and I very much trust Leena’s judgement. Palmer is a musician and the book is about vulnerability and crowdfunding and I don’t know how many more times I can say I am excited to read a book but I am excited to read this book and I’m expecting/hoping it to change the way I think about my relationship with my audience.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

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Okay this book was sent to me by Pan Macmillan (thank you!) and I genuinely know nothing about it. I’m basically sold on the cover and the tag line: ‘a funny book about horrible things’. Sounds right up my street.

There you go! Those are 8 books that I already own that I am planning on reading in 2016. Let me know what books you’re prioritising to read this year in the comments! Happy reading!

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My Favourite Books in 2015

At the beginning of this year I set myself 10 resolutions – one of them was to read 50 books in a year. I have failed. Or I will fail. I’m on 31 with just a couple weeks left of 2015 BUT this is the most I’ve ever read in a  year EVER. Also, I read A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons in 2015 which have A LOT of pages. Like a lot a lot. After spending three years at university only ever reading books for my course and not having any time to read for pleasure I have been in my element this year. Moving to London was a brilliant decision just because of the amount of time I spend on public transport and therefore the amount of time I spend reading.

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I am going to set myself the 50 book reading challenge again next year and hopefully I will improve on my number from this year! In the mean time I wanted to share with you my top 5 favourite books that I read this year. This is definitely not books published this year but ones I read so sorry if this isn’t relevant!

NUMBER 5: A DANCE WITH DRAGONS BY GEORGE. R. R. MARTIN

I am finally caught up with A Song of Ice and Fire! I love fantasy worlds and I got so addicted to Game of Thrones that I knew I had to read the books to fill the void between series. But now I’ve finished the (published) books too and so there is a big big void. Everyone always asks which is better: books or series, but I hate comparing. I love them both so much, they’re just different. The things I love about the books are all the extra detail and backstories. I have learnt a lot about the history of Westeros and Essos but what I really want to know is about The Doom of Valyria. Some natural disaster happened and destroyed Valyria and all their knowledge, recorded history and spells including how to make Valyrian steel. And as a history student it makes me so sad that a whole people’s history has just vanished!

NUMBER 4: IN ORDER TO LIVE BY YEONMI PARK

This book was unlike anything I’d ever read before. I knew very little about North Korea other than scary stuff you hear in the news, one TED talk and studying the Cold War when I was 17 years old. This book was a real eye-opener into the reality of the situation in North Korea. Yeonmi describes her life there and her escape – sometimes I thought what I was reading was a really traumatic novel but then I’d snap back and remember that this was real. It really happened to her and to so many other North Koreans. It’s a heavy read but so important and Yeonmi is such an inspiration – I was lucky enough to meet her at a Penguin vlogger event and she was so funny and sweet. I hope everyone reads her book and hears her story.

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NUMBER 3: ESSAYS IN LOVE BY ALAIN DE BOTTON

If you read my last blog post you’ll know that I’ve been obsessing over the meaning of love recently and this book is definitely one of the causes of my obsession. It’s a novel combined with the philosophy of love and it’s absolutely gripping and fascinating. You follow the story of a man who falls in love with a woman but as the reader you’re not invested in either person or the relationship so you can objectively see the crazy things that being in love can make a person do/think. It’s brutally honest and many times I felt like I was being punched in the stomach with words – which sounds horrible but it was in a good way.

NUMBER 2: THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS BY E. LOCKHART

Definitely my favourite YA novel I read this year. I met E. Lockhart and she signed my copy but that’s not the only reason why it’s one of my favourites. It’s basically a feminist book but without screaming FEMINISM. It’s accessible and funny and there were so many moments whilst reading it when I’d be clutching the book and yelling “YES YES YES!” and then doing a mini-fist bump in the air. People on the tube must have thought I was nuts. The dialogue between Frankie and other characters but especially her boyfriend is just so beautifully accurate and relatable but when you’re reading it as an outsider you pick up on the subtle things that are so messed up in relationships. This book just made me very excited and I want every teenager to read it. Also, everyone else. Why not.

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NUMBER 1: THE MARTIAN BY ANDY WEIR

This wasn’t even a hard decision. The Martian was absolutely my favourite book I read this year. I am obsessed. I speed read it because I wanted to see the film and it was the most gripping and tense but also lovable thing I’ve ever read. Mark Watney is such a great main character and thank god because you spend a lot of time with just him and his thoughts seeing as he’s stuck on Mars alone. It’s so funny, I actually laughed out loud whilst reading many times – “Gay probe coming to save me. Got it.” is a personal favourite of mine. Also, the science stuff in it was really cool! It was so well written that it was pretty easy to follow along even if you’re like me and know nothing about chemistry and physics. I love this book so much, when I was reading the final chapter I was so nervous and my heart was racing that I had to put it down for a few seconds to catch my breath and then carry on. READ IT. And then see the film.

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And that is my top 5 books of 2015! Have you read any of them? What did you think of them? What were your favourites? Let me know in the comments! If you want to keep up to date on what I’m reading I have a Goodreads page and you can add me there. Happy reading for 2016!

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*I am a Book Depository affiliate and get a small cut of any purchases made through my links

A Little Gay History

There are a few reasons why I’m writing this post.
1) I studied a lot of sexual history at university and I think it is fascinating and so so important.
2) I recently quit my part-time job and one of the main reasons I did that was so I could spend more time reading and researching about sexuality and gender so I could become more informed.
3) I want to write blog posts more regularly than once a month. So this is an attempt at that I guess.

Today I read A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity Across the World by R. B. Parkinson.

I picked this up in the gift shop of The British Museum a few months ago and it got immediately added to my pile of books that I’ve bought but not read. Seriously, I have a problem. But now I’ve read it! This isn’t going to be a full review or anything, I just wanted to share with you some of the interesting things I learned from it (and some things that I re-learned because you forget a lot of things after university) in the hope that you’ll fall in love with gay history too.

Firstly, we need to talk about the word ‘gay’ being used in a historical context. Gay is a modern identifier and imposing current labels on people of the past does an injustice to their unique and diverse behaviours and identities. As Parkinson explains, different terms are more culturally and historically accurate to use; such a ‘same-sex desire’ for ancient societies and ‘homosexual’ in the 19th and 20th centuries. I could talk about classification and labels when talking about sexual history for ages but that’s all you need to know for now!

Interesting facts about the history of same-sex desire

  • The first known chat up line was between two men. In an ancient Egyptian poem (c. 1800 BC), a male god tries to seduce another by saying ‘What a lovely backside you have!’
  • Phallic images on buildings in Mediterranean cities are not indicating brothels (as I thought in my video about my trip to Rome). An erection was often a symbol against the evil eye and these images were protective devices to ward off evil.
  • ‘The passion of the cut sleeve’ was a way of describing male-male love in Chinese culture. In the Han dynasty the emperor Ai (ruled 21-1 BC) loved a married man, Dong Xian. In an official history from the period it is said that when they were sleeping in the day time Dong Xian was stretched out across Ai’s sleeve and when Ai wanted to get up he did not want to wake him so he cut off his sleeve and got up. That was an expression of his love.
  • A lot of same-sex relationships in the ancient period across cultures were structured by age. Power played a huge role in them and young boys were often desirable and having an older male lover was seen for some as a rite of passage.
  • There were many sub-cultures of homosexual communities in Europe but because they were sub-cultures they are difficult to trace and often the only documentation we have of them is when the authorities and institutions that were suppressing them intervened.
  • In ancient Greece love between men was considered by some as beneficial to the state and army: it would have “better organisation… a handful of such men, fighting side by side, would defeat practically the whole world” (Phaedrus). Now that’s what I call the gay agenda!
  • A Japanese print exists from 1801 which shows two women preparing to use a sex toy together and one of them is saying, “Hurry up and put it in”. Brilliant.
  • During the Nazi regime, homosexuals were one of the ‘undesirable’ groups arrested and sent to concentration camps. After the camps were liberated some were re-imprisoned because homosexuality remained illegal in Germany. It wasn’t until the 1980s when these forgotten victims began to be acknowledged.
  • Great point made: full equal rights have not been achieved yet in many countries of the world, and being LGBTQ+ remains a crime in some, often as a legacy of earlier British legislation.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, I hope to do more like this so please let me know if you liked it! One of the reasons I think gay history is so important is because as Parkinson says, “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have often felt excluded and silenced, and without a history”. But they do have a history and it’s equally as important as the history of other groups. It gives a sense of community, identity, a shared history can help normalise things considered taboo in society. History can give marginalised communities a voice, you just have to look for it.

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Tina Fey, Bossypants – Review

Yes, I know that this book was published in 2011 and that I’m late to the party but excuse me whilst I make 2015 my year of the inspirational and powerful women. I’m serious, did you see what I got for Christmas?

There's definitely a theme to my Christmas presents this year… 🎄💃🍷💁

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Before I read Bossypants a friend of mine warned me. She said that unlike Amy Poehler or Mindy Kaling, the feminism in Tina Fey’s book is not funny or subtle. She’s just angry and she shoves it down your throat. This filled my head with all sorts of assumptions and prejudices before I even embarked on Bossypants, and it meant that I was hyper aware of anything she said about the way women are treated. And I hated it. I let my friend’s judgement influence mine and I really was not enjoying Bossypants. But thank goodness that Tina Fey is funny, inspiring and down to earth because she won me over even though I went in with a closed mind. Yay Tina!

Tina Fey does not shove feminism down your throat, she honestly explains the reality of being a woman in life and a woman in comedy. She’s not afraid to throw a few punches, she’s strongly opinionated and knows what she wants. I like that.

My favourite part that I think nicely sums up her attitude to being a woman in a very male dominated profession is in her love letter to Amy Poehler (I would also like to write a love letter to Amy Poehler but I doubt she’ll ever read it). She recounts a time at Saturday Night Live when Amy was doing something gross as a joke, “it was dirty, loud and ‘unladylike'”. Fellow SNL star, Jimmy Fallon told her to stop and said “I don’t like it.” Poehler’s rebuttal: “I don’t fucking care if you like it”. Poehler 1, Fallon 0. Fey says, “I think of this whenever someone says to me, ‘Jerry Lewis says women aren’t funny’. Or ‘Christopher Hitchens says women aren’t funny?’… Do you have anything to say to that? Yes. We don’t fucking care if you like it.”

This was a penny drop moment for me. Women are funny. I am funny. And I will not be judged by a group a backward men who think that their opinion makes “women aren’t funny” a universal fact. No thank you, sir. I don’t fucking care if you like it.

Tina Fey talks childhood, gay friends, being a virgin, photoshoots and photoshop, being the boss of the 200 people that 30 Rock employs, cruise ship honeymoons, family Christmas cross country driving escapades and comedy. A whole chapter is dedicated to replying to internet trolls and I wish I could respond to hate comments with the same grace, humour and wit as Tina Fey.

The bit that really hit me though was the last chapter where Fey is basically word vomiting on the pages all the thoughts going through her head about whether or not she should have a second child and what that would mean for her career and 30 Rock. I loved this chapter, it just showed that despite all the literature out there telling women that we don’t have to pick between a career and a family – we can have both, one of the most successful women out there is still having this crisis. (Although, the book is old and we now know that Tina Fey did in fact do both. Well done, Tina). But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was something looming over her mind and causing much stress in the first place.

I don’t want to leave this review on a bit of a downer so I’ll just say that reading Bossypants led to me watching hours of SNL footage on YouTube so I would get references to things she was talking about and then just clicking on recommended videos forever and ever until the end of days. Seriously, SNL is brilliant. Why don’t we have shit like that in the UK?

Have you read Bossypants? What do you think of Tina Fey? Let me know in the comments.

Signature hannah journal

 

 

 

 

Amy Poehler, Yes Please – Review

I haven’t written a book review since school. How do these things work?

 

New blog post on my website! It's a review of Amy Poehler's Yes Please. hannahwitton.com 🙋

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Okay, I love Amy Poehler. I am a huge fan of Parks and Recreation (I watched all 6 seasons in one go and I’m so excited to watch the final season in real time!) Leslie Knope is my hero, I seriously couldn’t ask for female character in a sitcom that makes me more happy and excited about life than Leslie Knope. To be honest, I haven’t seen her do improv because I’m British and we don’t get Saturday Night Live but I’ve repeatedly watched Amy and Tina Fey’s two Golden Globe opening monologues. Hilarious!

I read Yes Please as a fan of Amy Poehler so I can’t say what it would be like reading it if you didn’t know who she was or what she’s done. It’s a memoir of her life so if you don’t care about her I don’t really know how much you can care about her book. I gobbled up her book. I started reading on Christmas Day and finished on New Years Day whilst still seeing family and friends and getting drunk pretty much every night. Shush, it was the holiday season.

Whilst I was knee deep in Poehler I was loving every minute of reading her book. It was funny, smart, thought-provoking and inspiring. But once I finished and I stepped away from it I realised that I only laughed out loud twice (and only a snigger or a giggle), she said lots of obvious things which in context made her seem like your beautiful, wise best friend but when you actually think about it, it’s not that special. For example, “you have to be where you are to get where you need to go” and “the only thing we can depend on in life is that everything changes”. I understand why people love this shit but for me personally, it makes me want to puke. But, to quote Amy, “good for her! Not for me.” She’s still inspiring though, I would be lying if I told you that my resolution to do improvisation had nothing to do with reading Yes Please. But her amazing talent can either make you feel inspired or incredibly insecure. Or both. I hope it makes you feel inspired.

The structure of Yes Please confused me. It’s split into three parts and all of the chapters are about something different – a time in her life, a person or a thought. It’s not in chronological order which I actually find quite refreshing but I felt there was nothing holding the book together except the first chapter of each part being an edition of how she fell in love with improv (Boston, Chicago and New York). That was cool. But with none of chapters connecting I kept on thinking, what’s your point Amy? What are you trying to say?

I feel mean now. There were loads of things about Yes Please that I loved! The chapter about treating your career like a bad boyfriend was excellent. Whether or not you like Amy Poehler or you’re going to read this book, read this chapter. Seriously, it’s brilliant. I’ll probably reread it every time I have a career crisis. It was so different to any career advice I’ve ever received. I loved all the additions of photos, haikus, scripts, essays and notes from her parents, friends and co-workers. It has a scrapbook vibe without the feeling that you’ve been ripped off because it turns out it was a picture book. It’s not a picture book. There are words. (Great book review, Hannah, ‘there are words’). I was reading on the tube when I reached the end of a chapter and it was also my stop (perfect timing!) and I just glanced at the title of the next chapter and I read this:

 

“Let’s Build A Park”

I couldn’t stop smiling and then I got angry that I had to spend a whole evening with my friends getting drunk and not reading. (Sorry Liam, Happy Birthday – I had a great time!) This chapter warmed my heart. It had margin footnotes added in by writer of Parks and Recreation, Mike Schur which was a brilliant touch. I just wish there had been more than one chapter about the show but I have discovered since reading Amy Poehler’s memoir that in fact more stuff has happened in her life than Parks – who knew!?

I still love Amy Poehler and ultimately what my favourite thing about Yes Please is that I felt connected to her and I could relate to her despite the fact that she’s a 40-something divorcee with two children. I am a 20-something single pringle with zero offspring. But facts like that shouldn’t separate people.

Have you read Yes Please or are you planning on reading it? Are you an Amy Poehler fan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Signature hannah journal