Posts Tagged ‘paparazzi’

h1

creative instincts.

November 2, 2011

So I have been a busy bee and I haven’t had much time to write on this blog. But moreover, I haven’t really had anything that has come to mind as really worth posting… I have been too busy living life and not insightful enough to be reflecting along the way. But through talking and thinking about things in interesting conversations with Toby and Nick, I have decided that now that I am settled in London (I have been here nearly 2 months, which I can’t believe – it’s flown by!!!), I am going to pursue some projects. Here is a list:

  • Music. I have recorded precisely one verse since I moved to London. I love the new music I have been making, but it has trailed off. Partly because in my current flat, the only place I really feel comfortable singing is in the kitchen, as it’s the only space that isn’t close to the corridor, or to my neighbour’s room. (I don’t want to deafen them, or get a bad rep!) But I realise I need to really get myself back in motion and finish this new album!!!! In addition, Nick has been telling me about the fabulous Open Mic nights at the Cellar Door near Covent Garden. So in order to prove to myself that I can still sing, perhaps I shall slowly gather courage to perform something. I am aware that the sheet music for the Burlesque soundtrack, and for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way are both available. So what do we reckon? “Something’s Got A Hold On Me”? “Yoü and I”? “Bound To You?” “Marry The Night / Americano / Judas” medley?!?! I have to do something to keep my musical proclivities going, and to keep my performance and vocal skills alive.
  • Swimming. I have been fairly good (if not exactly excellent) with my walking to work. But obviously, winter is fast approaching and I will be less inclined to walk in bad / ridiculously cold weather, in warm clothes. So Les Senteurs (where Nick works) is opening a new branch in Marble Arch (you should go and check it out – fabulous perfumes!) and there is reportedly a swimming pool nearby. I have swimshorts from when Toby and I went on holiday to Seville, so Nick and I are planning to do some exercise at the pool there after work. It sounds like a good plan – I want to slim down a little bit.
  • Drawing. Once upon a time, I used to be fairly good at drawing. And watching Toby knit and create things, I know that I am not really a very crafty person and into handicrafts and the like. However, I am an artistic and creative person, and I am not bad at Photoshop and digital designing (my fashionista and styling instincts are ever useful in this regard). But recently I have been tempted to take it back to basics and get back into drawing. I think I will start out slowly and simply, and get myself a sketch book and a nice pencil or two, and start off by drawing what is outside my window. And as I gain my skills back and become more confident, I will hopefully be able to draw more elaborate, complex and inspired/imaginative pieces.
  • Cooking. Again, Toby is a fabulous cook. I am not a bad cook, but I have never ever had remotely enough patience to be bothered with it, unless I am cooking for someone else (which happens literally once in a blue moon). I admire the way that Toby instinctively knows what flavours go together, when a meal is ready, how to improvise with ingredients and flavours. I have never ever had an instinct like that as far as food is concerned. To be quite truthful, food has been an enemy of mine ever since I can remember – even though I am now no longer going through the weight loss issues I did as a child. I don’t enjoy food the way that a lot of people seem to – I can appreciate when something tastes nice or is artfully made, but I don’t derive pleasure from every meal the way that some do. To illustrate this, I have exactly the same thing for lunch every day at work. And it doesn’t bother me, because I don’t cherish the meal or the food. All I cherish is the fact that I have conditioned myself to be satisfied with a small lunch, and that this is good because it’s not going to add weight to me. (Sadly, by the evenings I am often ravenous and therefore often overeat – putting me back to square one!) But, back on topic after that brief digression, I feel that while the balance that Toby and I have of “he cooks, I clean” is totally satisfactory for both of us, I would still like to cook a little bit more. Because a real man knows how to cook, right?
  • London underground photo project. This is the big one that I have been contemplating for a few weeks now. Toby took me on a couple of photo walks around London, but I didn’t particularly enjoy them beyond the fact that I went to places I wouldn’t normally go. I wasn’t doing any photographing – Toby has a super-duper camera and so took lots of pictures, but I can’t be bothered to lug that around! Plus, a lot of the other people on the photo walk were basically being offensively touristy and taking pictures of everything and everyone (often in swarms like paparazzi!!), swarming upon the landscape without any respect for the world and public around them. It’s hard to explain, but that sort of behaviour basically appears to me as a little undignified. But each to their own. However, I have had the idea of documenting my life in London by taking pictures outside the tube stations I end up near, and expanding this to collect them all. A bit like Pokémon – gotta catch ’em all! But it will also be a fun project and spur me to explore the city a bit more. So perhaps that is something I will start doing very soon! What do you reckon?
So there you have it – my personal and artistic aims for the next few months. Let’s see how I do! xx
h1

lady gaga & beyoncé – telephone. (video review)

March 14, 2010

At the end of 2009, I rated The Fame Monster at #18 on my year-end album chart.  Although I do stand by that chart and I don’t think I would really change any of the albums that are on there, in hindsight Lady GaGa would actually be somewhere in the Top 10 (possibly quite high up).  I didn’t think so at the time, but the funny thing about The Fame Monster is that it has hidden depths and its songs are actually really enduring.  What’s more, unlike The Fame, the songs are actually about deep topics such as domestic violence (“Dance In The Dark”), intoxication (“So Happy I Could Die”) and poisonous relationships (“Bad Romance”). I find it ironic that I’ve lambasted Lady GaGa for pandering to radio too much with her repetitive nonsense hooks (“p-p-p-poker face / papa-paparazzi / eh eh / ooh la la ga ga ro ma ma” and so on), but now I find myself appreciating her songwriting craft and finding her songs becoming more solid (although The Fame Monster is streets ahead of The Fame, so in a way I’m just acknowledging her artistic progression).  So I apologise somewhat for kinda turning off Lady GaGa and not giving her her due (although her fans / “monsters” are quite off-putting and need to be less militant), although if she could keep off the repetition of nonsensical syllables that would be good.  Because she doesn’t need to do that.

And so we come to “Telephone”.  The song is about suffocating relationships, and Lady GaGa herself has said that it doesn’t just have to be a romantic situation, but could also symbolise the fact that when her telephone rings, it’s always because she has to get back to work in the studio and she can’t escape that.  The song itself is pretty strong, although it’s not as progressive as some of the other songs on The Fame Monster and resorts to the 4/4 beat that has completely oversaturated popular music (and did so about a year and a half ago).  Beyoncé’s feature is a rapid-fire verse over double-time beats and keeps the song interesting.

The video for “Telephone” was released on Friday, and it has become something of a Pop Event.  The hype the video received even before its premiere was immense, and now it’s being hailed by some as the successor to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  Others however are lambasting it for its apparent sexism and overt lesbianism.  I read in one place that you will remember exactly where you were when you first saw it, and that much is true (at least for me).  I had just returned home from work, it was about 3:30 and after keeping track of the video reviews on Twitter, I decided to give into my curiosity.  Upon the first viewing, I was a tiny bit underwhelmed but could still see the video’s bad and good points (of which my view hasn’t really changed).  I thought that Beyoncé’s appearance far outclassed Lady GaGa, not just because Beyoncé has had some acting lessons but also because Beyoncé is more of an effortless star (not in reality, but she doesn’t look as if she’s trying so hard).  I detested the overt product placement of Virgin Mobile, Chanel & the GaGa earbud headphones – but all the kids are doing it; I just expected Lady GaGa to have more class.  But then why should she? It’s money in the bank, and when your video is 9 and a half minutes long, you need some bank to be able to make that video look and feel effective and powerful.

I’ve rewatched the “Telephone” video a few times now, and each time my estimation of it has gone up.  While not exactly on iconic level (I think it’s far too soon to be throwing that word around; GaGa has only been around for 2 years), it’s another demonstration that Lady GaGa’s commitment to her artistry is strong, defiant and interesting.  The introductory jail scene serves to debunk the rumours of GaGa’s intersex status (duh), allows her to wear a host of outlandish outfits (striped shoulder-padded body suit / yellow police caution tape / super-studded leather jacket and underwear covered in chains) the best of which is undoubtedly the cigarette sunglasses (still smoking!).  The fashion continues with the huge black tricorne hat GaGa sports upon being bailed out of prison; the shredded USA flag (subtle!) clothes in which GaGa and Beyoncé dance in the diner scene; the folded geometric telephone hat and telephone receiver hairdo GaGa wears on her head; the leopardprint body suit à la Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much”; the closing lavender and black body sheets… not all of these ideas work (on a couple of occasions both GaGa and Beyoncé look nothing short of horrendous – for some reason, in the USA flag bikini and bright yellow hair, Lady GaGa reminds me somewhat of Ken from Street Fighter and I can’t shake this association!), but they all capture the viewer’s attention, and more importantly they all leave you with something to say after watching the video.  That’s possibly “Telephone”‘s biggest success – it provokes thought and inspires discussion.  We know this because even the broadsheet newspapers are talking about it.

I stand by my statement that GaGa does seem to be trying awfully hard at being controversial and “artistic”.  She’s made a couple of great videos now, but in view of the numerous costume changes (see above), storylines and scenes, it doesn’t seem to come easily.  For comparison, where better to look than her costar Beyoncé?  For the definition of an iconic music video, look no further than “Single Ladies”; everyone and their mama has seen that video and knows the dance.  The video is in black and white, has no storyline or costumes (other than a leotard and metallic glove), is done in one take and isn’t even an original idea (see Bob Fosse’s choreography on youtube). Most importantly, Beyoncé did it almost as an afterthought to her video for “If I Were A Boy” (which in my opinion is a truly beautiful, excellent video) without breaking a sweat; and yet this is the video that captured everyone’s attention.  Now, of course Beyoncé is not anywhere near as effortless as she appears; but she makes it look easy.  GaGa does not make it look easy, and although it’s admirable that she’s so committed to the symbolism and artistic integrity she conveys (and GaGa is clearly an intelligent and talented woman), I’m scared that because the media and the fans are so interested in her image, her look, and what she’s going to be wearing that they forget that Lady GaGa is actually a singer and a musician – the most important thing should be her music.  Which, as I said at the top, is actually quite good and shouldn’t get lost in all of the surrounding gloss, however layered and substantial that gloss may be.  What happens when Lady GaGa can’t get any crazier?  What about when she wants to strip away all the layers and be more vulnerable and natural?  Will everyone turn away from her then, because they just wanted the fancy clothes and elaborate videos?  Can people not listen to her music, her lyrics without the accompanying visual?  I hope I’m wrong, because if not then that’s pretty sad.

The storyline, just as the lyrics of the song itself, can be interpreted in various ways and I’m not going to get into that here; I think that some of the reviews I’ve read have been hilariously in-depth and I think that GaGa is intelligent enough to play along in pretending to have input heavy symbolism into outfits, storylines and lyrics where there is none; people seem to need to have a meaning to every single thing, whereas I often think that GaGa is just having fun and being crazy.  Which is great!  It’s entertainment.  And the “Telephone” video is certainly entertaining; I hated the product placement, and I don’t feel that the use of the Pussy Wagon was necessary (the Tarantino homages are apparent, with elements of Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction included) – but then that’s just because I find the Pussy Wagon unfeasibly garish.  Which, in Kill Bill, was the point, and I understand that.  I really enjoyed Beyoncé’s homages to the “Paparazzi” video in her poisoning the teacup, Minnie Mouse glasses and hand over her mouth when they censored the swearing.  I loved the Japanese cooking-programme style of “Let’s Make A Sandwich”, and the dialogue between Gaga and Beyoncé was intriguingly half-cheesy, half-hard-boiled (although Beyoncé can somewhat act, and Lady GaGa really can’t – yet).  Tyrese and Beyoncé’s subtitled conversation, spoken with only looks and facial expressions, was genius. The Thelma & Louise-esque ending neatly gave closure to the video, but also made viewers wonder what was in store (that “To Be Continued…”) for next time.

Overall, I thought that the “Telephone” video was excellent, and I’m intrigued to see how the music channels edit it down to song length.  It’s a thrilling watch, and while I’m not going to pretend that it is a perfect video, I think that to compare it to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is unfair; “Thriller” is not even Michael Jackson’s best video by a long shot, and Lady GaGa’s video deserves to stand in its own right.  “Telephone” is furiously entertaining, and shows an artist coming into her own, even if at this point the numerous costume changes and persistent homages, product placements and edgy fashion poses betray an artist not quite comfortable enough in her own skin to exude her artistry naturally.  Once it becomes a little more effortless (as it has for Beyoncé, Madonna and all the other greats), that’s when Lady GaGa will be iconic and symbolic of a new musical generation.  But she’s well on her way, and I hope that the media, fans and public will appreciate that, because I myself am learning to, little by little.

ps. If only my “Bad Romance” video treatment had ended in a jail rather than in a mental institution, it would have led perfectly into the “Telephone” video!  Ah well, can’t win ’em all 😉

h1

lady gaga – bad romance. (video treatment)

February 1, 2010

Lady GaGa’s new album The Fame Monster is an album I took a long time to come around to, but I have finally learned to appreciate its merits and its songcraft a lot more than that of The Fame.  I still think that Lady GaGa is somewhat gimmicky and repetitive, but the talent is evident in the music and I really like even “Speechless” (which I couldn’t stand to listen to for the first couple of months).  Lead single “Bad Romance” may repeat elements of “Poker Face” and “Paparazzi”, but I love the song and there’s a certain cinematic element (I’m talking beyond that of the Hitchcock references in the lyrics).  So when I am listening to / singing along to the songs, I imagine performing it and slowly but surely, a whole storyline began to unfurl in my head – so I thought it would be fun to get that down on this blog for you all so you can get a little taste of how my creative brain works 😉

Intro

Video fades in on an office scene for some sort of Soviet / Eastern-European corporation.  Two very big, very important looking men are sat at a conference table in the centre of the screen having an argument and barking into mobile phones in Russian.  In the back left corner of the screen sits a handsome man behind a desk, wearing a grey designer suit and thick, black-rimmed glasses, reading a set of papers intently.  In the back right corner of the screen sits Me, also in a black designer suit and glasses, typing furiously on a desktop computer.  After an intense conversation, the big-wig sat on the right of the table stands up, clearly frustrated, and walks over to me and barks a string of orders at me.  I stop typing, exasperated, stand up and look my boss dead in the eye.  Without another word, I pick up my Gucci shoulder bag from the floor, take off my glasses (never breaking gaze with my boss), put on a set of huge black Prada sunglasses and walk out of the office – I have apparently quit.  As I walk out, the other secretary-guy looks at me in shock / awe.

Shot of me walking out of a faceless skyscraper, half-running as I hit the street.

Back to office, the other guy frantically grabs his papers, collects his back and runs off after me.  Both of the Russian CEOs look on in shock, then after a beat begin barking into their phones once more as servants bring them tea / vodka / some unidentifiable drink in a steaming clear square glass mug.

Song starts / 1st verse

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
Caught in a bad romance

Ra Ra-ah-ah-ah
Roma Roma-ma
GaGa
Oh la-la
Want your bad romance

I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it’s free
I want your love
Love love love
I want your love

Shot of me walking purposefully down the street as music begins to play.  Cut with shots of my peer trying to catch me up, running after me, dropping papers and having to stoop to pick them up as pedestrians crowd around him.  Slow motion – a tear begins to fall from his eye.  Intercut with me running up the stairs to my flat, getting changed, putting on new clothes: shiny, black, designer, silver jewellery. As I turn around to go out the door, presumably for drinking and dancing, my colleague is there. We look at each other: close up on his face, on my face.  Another tear falls from his eye.  I close my eyes slowly.  He kisses my cheek.  I move my lips to his ear and whisper something.  Fade out…

2nd verse

I want your drama
The touch of your hand
I want your leather studded kiss in the sand
I want your love
Love love love
I want your love

You know that I want you
And you know that I need you
I want it bad
A bad romance

The camera spins around disorientingly to reveal a dark mirrored ceiling, green laser beams shooting here and there, people in various states of undress and sobriety dancing, drinking, shouting, kissing, fumbling, conversing.  Slow motion of a cocktail that contains coke falling on the floor intercut with my colleague / boyfriend standing by a booth, looking anxious.  As the glass hits the floor and the liquid spills out, cut to a scene of me in a bathroom staring hard at the mirror in an accusatory manner.  Close in on my eyes (wearing blue contacts).  I lip synch the words “I want your love”, then strut out of bathroom and grab boyfriend’s hand, who smiles.

1st chorus

I want your love and
I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
I want your love and
All your lover’s revenge
You and me could write a bad romance

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Caught in a bad romance
Ra ra-ah-ah-ah

Roma roma-ma
GaGa
Oh la-la
Want your bad romance

We make our way through the club, pushing our way through the crush of people unwilling to give way. Close up on our linked hands, my set lips, his eyes looking to me.  As we walk past, slowly each member of the crowd’s head turns to watch us pass by.  We stumble out of the club into the cool night air, the sky pitch black.  Limousines line the pavement and there is a queue of important looking businessmen, all in shades Karl Lagerfeld-style, all pouting and puffed up in their suits waiting to get into the bar next door to the club we have exited.  As we stumble drunkenly past, laughing and holding onto one another, the camera focuses behind us as one of the businessmen, in an Armani suit and black fur overcoat, leans out of the queue and raises his sunglasses so that his eyes are visible.  He looks in shock, then automatically whips out his iPhone and taps furiously on it.  We go on, laughing deliriously as we smoke our cigarettes and totally oblivious to what has just happened.  The camera cuts back to the man, who raises the phone to his ear, begins to talk, and slides the sunglasses back down to hide his eyes, puffing on a cigar.  Fade out as the screen spins and we wander back into the block of flats where I ran to after quitting my Soviet secretary job.

3rd / 4th verse

I want your horror
I want your design
‘Cuz you’re a criminal
As long as you’re mine
I want your love
Love love love
I want your love

I want your psycho
Your vertigo shtick
Want you in my rear window
Baby you’re sick
I want your love
Love love love
I want your love

Some time appears to have passed.  Back outside the club, same line of limousines, same pitch-black sky, same drunken revellers falling out of the nightclub.  An identical queue of identikit businessmen line the streets waiting for the bar.  A limousine pulls up in front of these businessmen, and the door opens as the man in the fur coat from the queue prior steps out.  From nowhere, paparazzi and a multitude of flashing lights appear as microphones are thrust towards the door of the limousine.  A beat, and then I climb out in skintight black jeans and a leather trenchcoat and dark sunglasses with leather cuffs.  I smile dazzlingly for my entourage as minders, having appeared from nowhere, clear a path through the paparazzi for me.  Freeze frames as flashing lights illuminate me shielding my eyes, signing an autograph, waving to the surrounding crowd.  Behind me, my boyfriend gets out of the car, a serious tight-lipped expression on his face, and he lunges forward and clasps my hand to pull him through the crowd, but I get knocked over and our hands come apart (close-up).  Cut to the VIP section, purple velvet ropes cordoning off us from the rest of the club: within the area is a giant plush black leather sofa in front of a table piled with bottles, cocktails, glasses of unidentifiable substances, a smear of white powder.  Sat on the sofa is me, my boyfriend (sat apart and not engaging in eye contact) and a heavy-set, stoned-looking bodyguard half-asleep.  Businessmen talking into phones mill around while the crowd dances, lights flash and I stare into the distance.  I fumble for a packet of cigarettes and a lighter, and I reach over to whisper in my boyfriend’s ear, but as he is about to respond (a smile flickering across his face), one of the businessmen reaches over and shakes my hand and begins to talk.

2nd chorus

You know that I want you (’Cuz I’m a free bitch baby)
And you know that I need you
I want it bad romance
Your bad romance

I want your love and
I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
I want your love and
All your lover’s revenge
You and me could write a bad romance

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Caught in a bad romance
Ra ra-ah-ah-ah

Roma roma-ma
GaGa
Oh la-la
Want your bad romance

Exasperated, my boyfriend gets up and stalks out the back of the VIP area; concerned, I brush aside the businessman and go after him.  Walking to the smoking area, I fumble to light my cigarette as I walk through a walkway framed on either side by barbed wire.  Camera flashes go off continuously, hands clutch excitedly at me through the gaps in the barbed wire; one of them grabs my shoulder and I fall to the ground, dropping my cigarette.  I scrabble around on the ground for it and look up.  The camera pans up from the ground (my line of sight) and a Gucci shoe trails upwards to a shin, knee, leg.  The camera scrolls up to reveal my boyfriend looking down at me.  Close-up of his disapproving gaze.  I gather myself on the ground, a tear forming in my right eye, and begins to roll down my face – the camera does not pull away.  He walks past me as I kneel on the ground, bereft and lost, puffing desperately on my cigarette, and I begin to crumple and cry.  Eventually I go to run after him, but I can barely hold myself upright.

Bridge part 1

Walk walk fashion baby work it
Move that bitch c-razy
Walk walk fashion baby work it
Move that bitch c-razy
Walk walk passion baby work it
I’m a free bitch baby

Hands clutch through the barbed wire as I start to run, and this time the walkway seems to be interminable.  Intercut with footage of me running is a shot of a police car parked stationary; a black police hat, a set smirk on an unidentifiable male face.  From nowhere, policemen rush through the walkway at me, the hands retreat and the camera flashes stop.  Beating me with truncheons, I crumple once again to the ground, my sunglasses and hair askew, my clothes slightly torn.  One of them handcuffs me, and as I lie on the ground, cuffed, hands start to creep back through the wire to grope at me.  Fade out.

Bridge part 2

I want your love
And I want your revenge
I want your love
I don’t wanna be friends

Je veux ton amour
Et je veux ta revenge
Je veux ton amour
I don’t wanna be friends
(Want your bad romance
I want your bad romance)
Want your bad romance!

A television in the corner of a mystery white room flickers on and off with footage showing “Alan has been arrested” ; “Star meltdown” ; “Dumped and detained!” among other headlines.  Close up on my face, clear and almost angelic, mouthing the song lyrics. My eyes are a liquid electric blue, my skin is pale and sunlit.  The camera pans out to reveal that I am in a straight jacket in a white, padded room with just a television in one corner, and a fold-out bed / sofa in the other, all white.

3rd Chorus

I want your love and
I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
I want your love and
All your lover’s revenge
You and me could write a bad romance

Caught in a bad romance

Grief-stricken, I throw myself around the padded room, bouncing off walls, pounding the floor, tearing stuffing out of the pillow with my fingernails.  The camera retreats further back to show the room with a giant glass window looking in; doctors pace outside tapping pens against clipboards, looking unconcerned and business-as-usual. Tears roll down my face as I sing pleadingly into camera.  At the phrase “Caught in a bad romance”, the music stops, and all that can be heard is the sound of my breathing as I look full-face out of the screen.  The camera switches to my view, and outside the cell stands my ex-boyfriend, looking in at me.  A smile of sympathy plays across his lips, and at the same moment we press our hands together, regretfully, against the glass.  A doctor then comes and escorts him away, and I follow his gaze as he is shepherded down the corridor, looking back at me.  The camera zooms out further to show that in the two cells either side of mine are the two Soviet big henchmen from the intro office scene, barking Russian into their phones just as they were in the office.  The whole scene fades out to white…

h1

power couples.

November 17, 2009

Looking at the current music industry, I find it interesting how a lot of the biggest stars have attached themselves to one another.  Beyoncé and Jay-Z are considered the golden couple of R&B / hip-hop, and although they are both megastars and extremely talented in their own right (and have lots of independent ventures, and carved out their own careers independently before getting together), it’s the fact that they are together which makes them seem almost invincible.  When you listen to some of Beyoncé’s love songs, you can imagine her singing about Jay-Z; when she has a song like “Diva” which exudes confidence in a hip-hop style, you assume that Jay-Z had something to do with that attitude.  Even if it’s not the case.  Likewise, on Robin Thicke’s new song “Meiplé”, Jay-Z raps about Beyoncé being the “black Brigitte Bardot”.

Running with the Beyoncé example, she teams up with artists such as Shakira and Lady Gaga (whoever’s hot, basically) to cement her status as one of music’s elite.  Just like Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, or Timbaland and Nelly Furtado.  Relationships-wise, remember the furore over Britney Spears and Justin back in the day?  Their relationship elevated them to supernova-level megastardom, and was a massive element in their fame and success.  Interestingly, when they broke up, things just weren’t the same.  I think as members of the public, we like a couple who are balanced musically and seem to fit each other personally – it seems like fairytales can happen.  And when they self-destruct and we’re forced to admit that the fairytale was something created by the public and the media that the celebrities could never live up to, it’s just not the same.  I’m sure that there are some people who would attribute Britney’s entire marriage to Kevin Federline and her subsequent meltdown to the fact that her and Justin broke up, regardless of the reasons behind that breakup or the other factors in Britney’s life that added to her downward spiral (and subsequent resurgence).  I think that the same is happening with Rihanna and Chris Brown at the moment – however good their music / dancing / fashion might be, the fact that they were part of a couple – however much they would deny it to the paparazzi – made them seem that little bit more gilded in superstardom.  Now that they’ve split up, regardless of who beat who, they’re both experiencing some backlash (despite the fact that in both cases, their new material is certainly up to par, if not better, than their previous work).  What’s up with that?

I was thinking about this not because I ruminate daily on Beyoncé and Rihanna’s love lives, but because the same kind of thing has happened at uni.  Consciously or not, several of us within our course have paired off – not in a romantic sense, but just attached ourselves to one best friend.  There’s Pete and Emma, Penny and Daisy, Julie and Clare, among others – and of course me and Mike.  Talking about Mike and me, we’re the unofficial ‘leaders’ of our group – everyone seems to look to us whenever we speak in class, whenever someone needs to volunteer to do something in the group, organising social events.  I dread to think what would have happened if one of us didn’t smoke – we wouldn’t have had the chance to gel so instantly (on the first morning, Mike came up to me and said “Do you smoke?” “Yes.” “I thought it was you outside.  THANK GOD.  I smoke too!” and that was it!).  But I still think that because of the people we are, we would have found each other before too long.  It’s interesting how we seem to attract others around us, be they members of the aforementioned pairs, or others.  At first, there was a pair of the two youngest girls, Jenny and Sian, but as time’s gone on, Jenny has started to explore life on the dark side (i.e. she’s hanging out with me, Mike and Vikki) and loosened up to have some fun.  There’s a sense of charisma and magnetism that pairs who get on well exude without even much effort.  I wonder if those in our group who don’t come out for social drinks, who turn up to uni alone and go home alone, are enjoying it quite as much?  I know that the point of the course is not to have fun and socialise, but I like to work hard and play hard, and I think it’s a good balance for getting the most from this experience.

The funny thing was one night recently when Mike couldn’t come out.  I was still the social ringleader, but I did have a couple of comments such as “So what is Mike doing tonight?”  “How is Mike?” “You won’t smoke as much tonight since your smoking partner isn’t here.”  Me and Mike texted during the evening (he was sad he couldn’t be there, I was updating him on the scandal and gossip as the night progressed), but I thought it was interesting how people still kinda saw me as the ringleader, but thought that he and me were inseparable to the point of knowing each other’s business inside out.  I told Mike about it on Sunday when I saw him, and we laughed at the fact people seem to have the conception that we cannot exist without one another (I’ve heard one person say “Mike loves you, he follows you everywhere!” when I don’t see it as following, I just see it as a natural gravitation towards one another) – last time I checked, I managed 23.8 years of my life without Mike, and he managed even more without me.

Once you become a part of a “power couple” in whatever sense, does that make you inferior when you act on your own?  As much as I enjoy being part of the “Mike & I” leadership party, I’m still my own person.  Me and Mike have a lot in common, but we’re different in a lot of ways too, and I don’t need him to function.  And vice versa!  I think that having a companion or partner in crime makes you feel stronger, bolder and more confident, but it doesn’t mean that without the other person, you’re nothing.  I wonder what Jay-Z thinks about his position in hip-hop’s elite, and whether this position would be compromised were he to divorce Beyoncé tomorrow.  Sometimes a friendship or relationship brings along with it a certain amount of social bank or clout, but that’s not the sole reason why we should be friends with anyone – we just gel with people and connect from there.  Because at the end of the day, people may see a certain facet of us in the public eye – whether we’re celebrities or just day-to-day people – but behind closed doors or in the privacy of our own relationship, we have that connection for reasons people don’t understand unless they’re willing to plumb the depths below the surface.

h1

imbecilic.

August 16, 2009

Another thing from the wedding yesterday that I wanted to touch upon was the fact that depending on whom you are surrounded by, your every action can be made into a big mistake or faux pas.  For example, we were lining up for wedding photos, and I somehow ended up at the front (which was not where I wanted to be, nor where I thought was appropriate for me to be).  Other people weren’t really getting the hint that we were assembling for this mass photo, so for a while I was stood at the front by myself, because I am one of the tallest and therefore stood on the front / lowest step.  After a while, Aiman (the bride) stood next to me, and I said “I shouldn’t be standing next to you!!!” Everyone was like “OMG WHY?” My response: “Because that is Phil’s place, not mine! He’s her husband!!!” It makes sense, non?  So I tried to step backwards, despite people being stood behind me, and some of my friends were like “Alan, what are you doing?” a) My bag was quite robust, filled with my necessary stuff, and it was that, more than me, which was hitting their feet.  And b) It should have been pretty obvious what I was doing: I was trying to get out of the way of being right at the front of the picture, and allowing the focus to be on whom it really should have been on, considering it was not my wedding day.  So why was I made out to feel foolish and melodramatic?  Was my train of thought really so illogical, so difficult to understand?  I don’t think so, and even typing out this paragraph, it makes sense to me.

My university friends, by and large, make fun of: my proclivity for designer things and large black sunglasses (two of my friends laughed when I put them on.  I pointed at the emerging sun, and then also at another guest across the car park who was also wearing sunglasses.  Nobody was laughing at him.); my vanity; my ability to spend money.  They genuinely think that I am funny (and they also laugh at the joke-ish things I do on purpose), but I don’t think they realise that they sometimes hurt my feelings.  This is the way that I am, and I’m not constantly trying to amuse anybody.  It doesn’t seem to strike any of my other (read: Bristol) friends as hilarious that I put Prada sunglasses on when the sun is shining, nor that I get nervous anticipating an important life event for one of my friends.  It’s just me, and I don’t know why, coming from Oxford university, some people are so insecure that they want to try and put me down to feed into their own intelligence.  I know that I’m not bookish, but I also know that I’m not stupid.  So why does making me feel bad (or trying to) make them feel good?

Today I met up with two of my friends whom I haven’t seen for a good while: Mel and Erum.  They’re both making moves: Mel is in the middle of her Scandinavian Studies degree and currently working in the Cabinet Office on a summer internship; Erum is a law graduate about to start her LPC.  We were in Starbucks pondering school, relationships, jobs, politics, the economy & swine flu, among other things.  We also discussed current fashion, including those ridiculous visor sunglasses as worn (but not invented) by Kanye West.  In case you don’t know what I am referring to, I illustrate:

Okay, they are impractical, which is a major con.  But then so are Beyoncé’s “Diva” sunglasses which employ gold tassels hanging from a minimal frame, and I like those (plus, the fact that they hang vertically and move with the body means that you do have more of a chance of seeing where you’re going).  What I don’t like about these is that a) they are really quite ugly, and b) they are being sold everywhere as the “new biggest trend”.  Not just in white, but in neon colours.  People are wearing these to clubs (I have seen pictorial evidence, as well as witnessing it myself) where normal sunglasses would be ridiculed, despite the fact that normal sunglasses generally look 100% better.  And just because Kanye West wears them?  I have of course been inspired by various celebrity fashion statements, and seeking to copy that is perfectly understandable and acceptable; that’s what inspiration is.  But this is something else; it’s taking something quite clearly idiotic and pretending that it is cool and intelligent.  It feels like a conspiracy that everyone is in on, and I take a stand against that because if I don’t like something, I am not going to wear it and that’s that.  But don’t ridicule me for wearing fashionable designer glasses that look great, when there are people wearing these venetian blind things who can’t even see where they’re going!  I mean, wtf?

Who decides what is “foolish” and what “isn’t”?  I do what I like, and I use my common sense, and I think that everybody is entitled to do that.  But what irritates me is when I make decisions that to me seem logical, and others want to pick on that for whatever reason, but they are quite happy to ignore / accept other things that are clearly beyond sensible.  Are we, as the general public, really that insecure that we’re willing to knock down one person just to make ourselves feel better, but then able to pass an imbecilic trend just because it was started / revived by a celebrity who has more money / status than the majority of us, the general public?  If Madonna jumped off the Empire State Building, would we all climb up there to follow?  (The paparazzi would certainly be crowded around at the bottom, snapping the impact point to make numerous tributes in special-edition magazines… just look at Michael Jackson).  I guess that it all depends on how caught up we are in appearances, and I am very conscious of the way that I look.  But the final decision is made by me, and if others want to try and knock me down for doing something that I choose, or for not following a herd of sheep, then let them; I have my insecurities, but one of them is not following the crowd when I would prefer to follow my instincts.