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I don’t know if it’s a joking-is-easier-than-acknowledging-something-uncomfortable thing or what, but I’m a little scared of people lately.

intervention

Several times in the past week, I’ve shared a story of street stalkers, bar creeps, and cat callers to a different person or group of people, and received very different reactions from each. One thing that scared me, however, was the general response from my male friends.

“What are we supposed to do?”
“What do you expect?”
“Well, that’s what you get for being a hot girl”

are you fucking kidding me

Now, I’m friends with good people. I associate myself with people I respect and enjoy, and these sentences without context seem pretty severe and unkind (to me at least, but apparently I’m in the minority here), whether purposefully or accidentally.

But seriously?

“What are we supposed to do?” WALK THE FUCK BY. You can check someone out and think all the nasty things you want, but are you so uncontrollably motivated by aggression that you can’t keep it to yourself? You don’t know what else has happened that day, that week, or over their life, and there’s no reason to push a stranger’s buttons.

“What do you expect?” This one is almost my favorite. What do I expect? This seems like women should expect men to be inconsolably unpleasant and degrading, captives to their testosterone and nothing more, and that you’ve accepted this as well, and that’s about the saddest thing for the future that I’ve ever heard.

“Well, that’s what you get for being hot…” Yeah? We’re going down this road? This feels like dangerous territory, entering into slut shaming and “asking for it.” One thing I will say is that nobody deserves to feel any shame for calling people out. Control and free will are nothing to be ashamed of. This is not any sort of request to watch what you say around women; changing relationships and walking on eggshells isn’t a solution. The point that needs to be acknowledged is that it shouldn’t be a reflex to slut-shame in the first place.

STOP

Nobody understands being a woman and you don’t have to, you just have to understand how to be a decent human person to the rest of your species. A good start would be to replace the offhand twistedly backhand compliment remarks with ANYTHING ELSE. There are less insulting ways of trying to compliment a girl than telling her she’s worth a stalk or a rape.

By calling people out on offhand reactions that aren’t okay, even just once, a thought is instilled in the mind of the uninformed, and a step is taken in the right direction.

Rather than teaching your kids not to go out late at night for fear of rapists and muggers and crazies (oh my), teach them that people shouldn’t attack people at any time of day. Teach them respect, for both men and women and personal humanity. Raising a new generation of genuinely good people, even if it’s just in your own family line, could change the world.

 im just sayin

Be happy, be free,

Sydney

With all these “100 Things” and basic How-To live your life articles floating around the internet, I figured I’d put one of my own out there.

1. Go tanning.

Tan on the roof, on the beach, on the patio at lunch, everywhere, at all costs. Say NO to sunscreen and hats, and YES to bronzing beachside. Get some wrinkles on that skin. Oil up.

tanning gif

2. Eat a shit ton of food. And don’t stop.

Pizza, cheesecake, and coffee galore (not a food, shut up I don’t care) is the way to go. You know you love food, and food loves you too. While there may be some slight disagreements along the way, you and food go way back. Why would you turn away a friend that has helped you survive life thusfar? Maybe you shouldn’t have pizza every single day of your life. Maybe. But didn’t “they” decide pizza was a vegetable earlier this year? Pizza earned your trust and deserves it. Ain’t nobody got time for some list to come in and soil the beautiful relationship between me and my pizza.

eating chandler full

3. Have lots and lots of sex.

Good sex, bad sex, drunk sex, sober sex. You can have it all. While responsibility and stupidity should always be taken into consideration, the moral of the story is that sex is good for you. It teaches you self awareness and confidence. Ignore what people tell you about “your number” and enjoy your prime. Indulge while you can.

friends with benefits

4. Spend money.

spend money

Get used to it. And good at it. This is basically unavoidable whether you want to look 60 at 30, 90 at 60, 20 at 30, etc etc etc.

5. Watch television.

Different kinds of television. Strain your eyes. Self-heat the couch. Subscribe to Netflix. Seriously, why television gets a bad rep is beyond me. There is so much intelligent and crazy television available to the world right now, from HBO to SHO, AMC and back again, and to lump all reality TV or “trash TV” into one unintelligible category is ignorant and assuming. Television has become more immersive than ever before and deserves some props.

tv gif

6. Make friends. And enemies. And try not to judge them.

Hopefully they’ll try not to judge you too.

omg not judging

7. Make excuses.

And get good at that, too.

girls do you realize

8. Never assume ANYTHING is an end-all-be-all.

Nothing is as one-dimensional as a list. An extreme advocate of lists myself, I hate to admit it, but it’s often a use of sweeping generalization, and shouldn’t be taken completely at face value. However, when the list is a horror story of subjective and offensive “rules for life” slathered in sexism and assumption, it deserves to be called out.

welcome to real world.

9. Stop reading articles on the Internet for life advice.

Nobody should be living according to a set of ridiculous guidelines that were written to gain web traffic. Hypocritical, sure, but I’m not writing to put you down. I like my snooze button, and I’m not going to stop using it because it’s on a list of things “every twenty-something” should realize.

Sure, not everything on these lists is total bullshit. “Drink lots of water” is great advice.  But when it’s preceded by a statement like “It is morally wrong to be obese,” it’s hard not to call bullshit and get offended. You don’t need to live in New York, time is not an illusion, you don’t need to want what you can’t have, and you don’t need to listen to infuriating bullshit like “If you sleep around with a lot of people, then you are a whore.” Statements like “They stopped making good music in the 90s” come from a closed mind, a mind that will never know true comfort or satisfaction. Living by a set of preconceived notions like “being smarter does make you the better person” and “you don’t have ADD” isn’t living at all.

Every twenty-something should realize they have their own way of living life, and if you can wake up, get ready, and get to where you’ve got to be with a snooze button, there’s not a pretentious list on the planet that can tell you to do otherwise. Facebook, oily pizza, casual sex, blasting headphones, maxed out credit cards, giant tattoos, hashtags, love bites, drugs, bullshit, cell phones, depression, euphoria, family, friends, fake I love you’s, oral sex, free cake, mistakes, dirty sex, yoga, violence, high expectations, crap food, and cheap liquor are where experience is born and life is lived. Fuck the rest.

After a day of first-world torture and #problems, it can be hard to stay a sane, normal person. Here are 20 different ways to handle a bad day. They are most definitely not all recommended. Side effects are likely. We’ll begin with a classic.

1. Drinking! See also: Girls Night Out.

raven margarita

2. Willingly accept rebellion into your life. Take a walk on the wild side.

do not touch

3. Read a book. Or a magazine. Or an article online. For gods sake, read SOMETHING!

jlaw ummmm

4. Angry-break things. Tear shit up. Throw down. Hitting things feels good, and admitting that is the first step of the road to recovery.

angry bang angry table flip

5. Florence.

6. Dance it out.

dance underwear

big booty

BREAK IT DOWN

7. Bitch about it. And not in a classy way. In a way that not even yourself respects. Without justification, without reason, without having to answer to anyone. Sometimes you need a few moments where your words have no one to answer to except the universe.

annoyed like

girls shosh 4

8. Music therapy. Life’s a song, and sometimes it sucks dick.

listen to sad songs

9. Rise above. You are better than this bad day. Flip your hair, strut your stuff, and make tomorrow a real, real good day.

bitch im flawless

hairflip fierce bey

10. Just lose it. (Also: shaking your face like this feels way better than you’d expect it to.)

computer spaz

11. Watch cat videos. Or cat GIFs. Or Anna Kendrick GIFs. Or ideally, Anna Kendrick cat GIFs.

anna kendrick kitty

12. Eat your feelings. ALL of the feelings.

hungry

chocolatemakeseverythingbetter

13. Smile and nod. Smile. And. Nod.

smile and nod

14. JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES, BREATHE, AND THINK OF FIGHT CLUB.

fight club quote

15. Exercise. It’s gooood for you.

fwb on bed

16. Full-screen the GIF below. Maybe make it your background. Laptop, phone, everything. I suggest adding a sound loop, but that’s just me.

complimentchan

17. JGL.

18. Do something about it. If every day is a bad day, something’s off.

greeys

19. Admit the truth and accept it as a part of you.

i am not a successful adult

who cares im awesome

Definitely go with Kat Dennings on this one. On most ones, actually.

Follow me on Twitter @sydney_neilson.

Gatsby, what Gatsby?

As the movie began, there was no telling where it was going. Unless, you know, you read the book in tenth grade like half of the English-speaking world did (or read a Sparknotes summary online like the other half)…but nonetheless, it was the film’s stylistic intelligence that was unpredictable. It had the cinematic masterpiece quality that Luhrmann has perfected through his theatrical musical films like Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet, translated beautifully into an amalgamation of culture, sex, and hope that is The Great Gatsby.

gatsby nyc

The cinematography is pretty damn flawless, from the white-curtained introduction of Daisy Buchanan to the practiced presentation of Gatsby himself. The book was followed to a tee, for the most part, and translated shockingly well onscreen. The National Post called it “less a movie than an event,” and – without taking away from my respect and enjoyment of the film – that’s exactly right. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby over three years, from 1922-1925. Luhrmann has been working on his production for roughly five years now, and the world has been waiting.

gatsby houseCall it “computer-generated whoosh” if you must, but its looks are pretty fucking epic. And underneath all of that, the novel stands tall. Much of the dialogue comes straight from Fitzgerald in 1925, and while I could have done without the fluffy skywriting sequences from Carraway’s alcoholic future, it wasn’t a bad way to lay out the movie. While much of the opening half of the movie is rushed brilliance and forced flow, its crazy atmosphere sucks you in.

gatsby dancing

Carey Mulligan’s dewy, soft complexion and gentle stature set up Daisy perfectly. Last played by Mia Farrow in 1974, Daisy is one of those controversial characters that stirs up a lot of conflict. Luhrmann cites Daisy Buchanan as “a kind of social supernova; she’s so attractive and dazzling, and she makes you feel as if you’re the only person in the world… In everybody’s mind they have a Daisy Buchanan. It’s like Scarlett O’Hara, how touchy a subject that is. I think of Scarlett as being this precious child star who’s been a star all her life, and that’s true about Daisy.” Luhrmann calls the Gatsby-Daisy relationship “one of those chemically dangerous relationships,” and there’s no better way to put it.

gatsby daisy1 gatsby daisy2
During the (long) audition process for the role, Leo, the fountain of all modern wisdom, said “Daisy has got to be a kind of hothouse flower, something that Gatsby has never encountered before, such that he feels and obsession to protect her.” Carey Mulligan does just that. She enamours you with her innocence and docile geniality, and wraps you up in her creamy speech.

gastby daisy smoking

Her voice is a major part of her character, described in Fitzgerald’s novel as “low, thrilling,” “exhilarating,” full of “fluctuating, feverish warmth,” and “full of money.” Speaking of full of money, she’s also married to the talented and delicious Marcus Mumford.

gatsby mumford
LOOK HOW PRECIOUS. Their children will be phenomenally ahead of our time.

gatsby mumford mini2 gatsby mumford mini1

Leo DiCaprio’s Gatsby was even better than I expected. He had perfect timing, an incredible measure of Gatsby’s delicate control and internal servitude, and was seriously fucking awesome. Granted, he’s pretty much got the world’s respect behind him before he even walks onscreen, but his Jay Gatz speaks for itself as well. You can feel the delusion, reminiscent of his tortured characters in Inception and Shutter Island, a balance of crazed obsession and classy-as-fuck confidence. Gatsby is a measured, detailed man of expectation, and DiCaprio is the same. He “burrows deep into the role, loosing the obsession at the heart of Fitzgerald’s tale; beneath Gatsby’s smooth exterior roil the same tightly wound furies that hounded DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about [Gatsby], some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability, which is dignified under the name of “creative temperament”- it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”

gatsby

It had the grandeur that you expect from Luhrmann’s musical past, the expansive, wide-angle, 3-D takeover that brings the film to life. If you liked Moulin Rouge, you’ll likely enjoy TGG. Bright, vivacious, and never lacking in depth, the setting and lush atmosphere worked  perfectly to set the scene. The introductions to Tom and Jordan felt observed and far-away, like you were watching a piece of theatre, rather than cinema. Luhrmann explains his decision to make the film in 3D in the May 2013 issue of Vogue. After seeing a screening of Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder, what struck him:

“…wasn’t that things come out of the screen, it was watching Grace Kelly move in space where the camera wasn’t moving. It was much more like the theater. It brought power to the performance. The actor was more in-control of the drama. The camera didn’t have to generate energy. It blew my mind… the real special effect in Gastby could be watching some of the finest actors in the world doing a ten-page scene in a room in the Plaza Hotel. That could be a visual effect.”

This was the first (and most epic) adaptation of Gatsby in several decades, and the book has often been dubbed “unfilmable.” Literature learned lessons from Gatsby, and continue to ’til this day. Film might be able to learn something too.

gatsby cinema

While the Jay-Z produced soundtrack may have taken some people out of the roaring Twenties zone they were in, I thought it was balanced perfectly. With big, power voices from Lana Del Rey, Florence, and Queen Bey, the power-pop side of the soundtrack shone. While “Young and Beautiful” might have finished the film as a slightly overused motif theme for Gaisy (looool), the jazzy mash-ups from Will.I.Am, Fergie, and Kid Koala kept it fresh and entertaining.

Leo was sublime, and Mulligan balanced beauty and carelessness as only Daisy Buchanan can. Jay and Daisy were casted to perfection, but I still can’t help but feel awkward about Tobey Maguire. Maybe it’s because even in 3-D, he has no visible lips. Maybe it’s because he’s Peter Parker. Either way, it took me out of the scene and I felt genuinely uncomfortable with his Carraway at parts. He just didn’t fit.

haters gonna hate poppins

“Baz felt very strongly that the book’s nature was quintessentially modern, that the twenties was the time when everybody came to grips with the twentieth century,” said his wife, Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin. Luhrmann takes that modernity to a new level with this visually-laden piece of work, and it deserves some respect. Five years, people. That’s time for like five babies. Or six. Or something.

A sick soundtrack, incredibly strong performances, and a decent rendition of a great American novel on the big screen… just go see it. It’s fancy and fun and exciting; you know you’re curious. 3-D or not, I seriously recommend catching this green light before it goes out.

Sure, it sounds dramatic. Anything that “changes your life” is going to sound dramatic, honestly, because it is dramatic. You’re changing your life. Everything is different now.

epiphany omg

From the second you picked it up, you knew it was different. It flowed differently, it read to you. You couldn’t read fast enough, and as the pages flew by, you didn’t have a choice. You read it with feverish excitement, fierce engagement, and ferocity. You couldn’t wait to get to the end, but you can’t imagine it ending. And what happens after? The story just worked, and whether you were reading from a downtown subway car or under your bedsheets ’til dawn, it didn’t matter. You read breathlessly, with fervour, hanging off of each syllable, using the chapter breaks to catch your breath. You are a slave to this novel, mind, body, and soul, and there’s no use fighting it. It will steal your time, money, and brainpower, and you will accept it wholeheartedly.

book gif

The story envelops you as no story has since you were a child. The author knows exactly what you need; but how can they know you so well? This book will become a filter on your life, affecting everything you think and feel for all of time. You will feverishly seek out everything the author has ever written. The book came at the time that you needed it most. It’s not like it was the first book you’ve ever read, but this one had something different. Something memorable. Like your first pet, you feel a sense of commitment and maternal fondness that only grew with time. Like your first love, you feel an overwhelming sense of adoration and intimacy that takes you by surprise. Like your first time having GOOD sex, you can’t believe what you’ve been missing. Like your first time living on your own, the freedom is astonishing. You’ll wonder how you lived with so many rules for so long, and how you never noticed.

bookoutwindowgood

Books don’t talk back. They won’t use up all of your internet bandwidth, and they want nothing more than to be enjoyed. They seek no electricity, no nourishment, and they will never, ever ask you for your Wi-Fi password. They’ll never run out of batteries, and never ask of anything in return.

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
-Mark Twain

I’ve always felt that everything written is co-related. A major part of writing as a youth and young adult comes from what you write in school. We’re taught essay structure and planning. We’re taught to balance arguments and lead strong, life lessons that passed most of us by because we were too busy hating high school English (compulsory English means 80% of the kids don’t want to be there, and the other 20% weren’t ballsy enough to fuel a decent academic environment). State your point, elaborate with your three arguments, and restate your point by the end. If the essay is good, you’ll understand their points. If the essay is great, those points will affect your course of thought. A great novel does the same. It changes your perception. It takes you out of your world and into another, one with ideas and frivolities and dangers that open your mind.

im ready

You will remember this book more than 99% of your high school, 80% of your first year of post-sec, and much of your childhood. It will find times to make you laugh, cry, and ironically show up when you need it most. It will torture you, punch you in the face, and throw you down an elevator shaft, only to meet you at the bottom with another swift kick in the teeth. And when you’re finished, it’s like the first day of summer. Where do you start next?

dita read

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
-George R.R. Martin

If you’re lucky, this book will start an inevitable change in your life, and you will unleash upon yourself the mind-blowing abilities of what it’s like to really be a lover of books. You will read so many stories of different places and people and times that your memories and your books will become entwined. You will become overcome with historical wanderlust, and you will begin to judge people on their taste in books (or lack thereof). As the digital revolution progresses, there will always be a small, nagging fear in the back of your mind that they will stop printing books altogether, but you quell that thought with another stockpile purchase from Chapters whenever it arises. You will learn that there is a right timing for everything in life, especially books. You will catch yourself buying a second copy of your favourite book so you can freely wear out the first one without guilt. You will fall in love with books in a way that changes everything else in your life and makes falling in real love even more extraordinary. Welcome to Crazy, we love it here.

1jim carrey

“Do not pity the dead, pity the living, and above all those who respond “I don’t read,” to the question “What’s your favorite book?”

I’ve been trying to write something about Girls for a while, but I got stuck. Being new to the show, it took a few episodes to grow on me, but being so invested in television production and attentive to writing, I grew to respect it. It did have the raw, intimate look at “real” life, and not coincidentally – creator Lena Dunham writes most of the episodes based on real-life experiences (from the dick pic in Hannah’s Diary and the tattoo on her ass, to the gay-ex-boyfriend storyline). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

girls new lena face

Girls is a dramadey TV series on HBO. If you haven’t watched it yet, whether by pure laziness or lack of interest, you’ve probably heard of its growing infamy. The awkward sex, the blunt honesty, and the total ridiculous reality of the [sex] lives of four twenty-something girls living in New York. A hipster-ized, technology-revolution-driven sex comedy from a female perspective. 90% of the credits are Lena Dunham’s name (director, star, exec. producer, etc), and it’s basically her baby.

It has the quirky honesty of Lena Dunham, the production and comedic style of Judd Apatow, and a team of hilarious cast and crew that have a million other little connections in movies and such (Dunham’s critically-acclaimed indie flick Tiny Furniture is basically a movie precursor to Girls, and available on Netflix, FYI), so what could go wrong? It’s basically an updated Sex and the City meets Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show does a lot of improv and on-the-fly bits, it’s been famed for its awkward, make-your-skin-crawl sex scenes, accused of being just another rant in the self-affirming writer generation, and been called too racy, too white, too fat, too sexist, too hipster, too privileged, too WASP, too unscripted, and some of those things may be true.

The protagonist, Hannah is flawed. Dunham calls her a mix of “natural intelligence and improbable stupidity,” which is pretty damn accurate. “She has the youthful mix of self confidence, but like, no self worth.” The real-life, improv-y soul of the show is where its unique appeal manifests. She uses her real father’s handwriting in the show, eats real food without a spit bucket, and builds bathrooms on sound stages. But Hannah is different than Dunham herself, a distinction people forget to make.

Hannah is entitled, presumptuous, and selfish.

girls do you realize

She’s sarcastic and inappropriate.

girls new mini abortion

She makes horrendous decisions, and overreaches her expectations.

girls voice of my generation

girls ideal sex w only me

Some of her flaws are endearing and relatable,

girls new lena bike lena new party

“My shoes match my dress! Kind of!”

girls new growing

And some of her flaws are cringe-worthy.

girls period stains

But she’s honest,

girls im scared

And everyone can find someone to relate to:

girls honesty running

girls new women telling other women

girls shoshgirls hannah good feel

girls shosh 3 girls shosh 1

girls marney

girls shosh 4

girls hannah good what you want girls grown up cook food

Following suit, Dunham has rarely kept her mouth shut regarding any matters at all.

On Rihanna and Chris Brown: “She’s had this amazing career, she’s won a Grammy, she’s talented, and then she gets back together with Chris Brown and posts a million pictures of them smoking marijuana together on a bed. And it cracks my heart in half in a way that makes me feel like I’m 95 years old. I just think about how many little girls are obsessed with Rihanna. [Being a role model] is a platform that you have to take seriously.”

On the Internet’s Anne Hathaway hatred: [via Twitter] “Ladies: Anne Hathaway is a feminist and she has amazing teeth. Let’s save our bad attitudes for the ones who aren’t advancing the cause.”

On Lisa Lampinelli’s “nigga” picture: [via Twitter] “That’s not a word I would EVER use. Its implications are beyond my comprehension. I was made supremely uncomfortable by it. Perhaps I should have addressed it, but the fact is I’ve learned that twitter debates breed more twitter debates. Don’t like the idea that my silence read to you as tacit approval. It wasn’t. But 140 characters will never be enough for the kind of dialogue that will actually help us address issues of race and class. My personal criteria for engaging twitter debate: I wait until something just sits so wrong in my belly & bones that I must finally speak.”

On Girls: “When you’re in your 20s, sex is sort of this battleground on which a lot of different stuff plays out.” It’s a show about life in your 20s, and sex is a big part of that. Granted, most of the time guys first kiss Hannah to get her to shut up, but their sexcapades are pretty hilarious.

Whatever you think of Dunham, she’s got a lot going for her. She recently signed a $3.5 million dollar book deal, Girls is one of the most talked-about shows on TV, and next season got bumped up to 12 episodes. Plus she’s gotten some decent action on the show post-Adam.

girls donald glover

 

She did win two Golden Globes and all…

If you watch the commentaries and behind the scenes features, they’re hilarious, and give the show a lot more context. The commentaries with all four girls are like listening to any girl friends ever. They forget what they’re talking about, go on commentaries about bread, “shorty-half-up-half-down” hairstyles and shaving, buttholes, dreams, rhymes, food, and fight about looking good.

“I love her luggage, I want her luggage.” “You look good without mascara!” “I really think that’s the best my hair has ever looked.” “You just get the feeling that he would kill giants for you.” “Hey, fun fact, that belt was actually taped to my body.” “I want to have his comedy babies.” “This couch gave me a rash.” “That wasn’t a compliment, it was a statement.” “This scene makes my skin crawl, in the best way.” “Checking your own dick for the time is the worst thing a person can do.” They take you behind the scenes of sex scenes, toilet scenes, falling asleep during scenes, their favourite foods, and it’s seriously worth checking out.

“Today I had two gluten free cookies for breakfast then got back in bed, it was disgusting.”
“That sounds glorious.” (Girls Pilot commentary)

girls new yo girl

Emily Nussbaum wrote in The New Yorker:

“Still, the most significant thing about “Girls” may be that it’s not a book, a play, a song, or a poem. And not a movie, either; since women rarely control production, there are few movies of this type, and even fewer that have mass impact. “Girls” is television… but it’s also TV in a more modern mode: spiky, raw, and auteurist. During the past fifteen years, the medium has been transformed by bad boys like Walter White and sad sacks like Louis C.K. “Girls” is the crest of… shows that are not for everyone, that make viewers uncomfortable. […] “Girls,” like Hannah, isn’t done: because it’s television, it’s being built in front of us, absorbing and defying critiques along the way. It lingers and rankles and upsets. Like any groundbreaking TV, it shows the audience something new, then dares it to look away. Small wonder some viewers itch to give the show a sound spanking.”

Lena Dunham is not perfect. Hannah Horvath is not perfect. Girls is not perfect. But why does it have to be perfect? We watch our favourite characters make stupid decisions, and it may drive you crazy, but we keep watching. So what if every character isn’t a good role model? Honestly, there’s really only one or two characters on Girls  that I actually like and relate to. 90% of what Hannah does warrants a collective facepalm and hrrphms of frustration, but that’s what girls do. And that’s what Girls does. Characters, just like people, don’t have to be likeable to be enjoyable. The entire seventh season of Desperate Housewives is fuelled by 3/4 of the women making horrible, unbearably ridiculous decisions, and Grey’s Anatomy sees Meredith Grey steal a baby, and ruin her husband’s medical trial, in addition to dozens of other “WHATTHEF%@&AREYOUDOINGYOUSTUPIDBITCH” situations. But we watch the shows, and we hope they move past it.

girls sociopath

We can see ourselves, the best and worst parts of us, and the people we know, in the people we reject or relate to on television. You can learn something about yourself through the characters you prefer over others. People are flawed, and while this may not be the most flattering interpretation of girls, guys, or people in general, it’s a damn good representation of their flaws. The guys are just as weird as the girls are (Ray has been known to be an outlet for Apatow), and just as ridiculous.

girls guys

Dunham knows what she’s doing as a storyteller, and her real-life inspiration and fetish for intimate bathroom scenes (the improv scene that opens the show in the first season, Dunham singing Wonderwall mid second-season) prove that whether or not she writes men and women properly, her voice is a fresh, different perspective that propels conversation.

girls marney dance

I’ve decided I don’t think you really have to like Girls to like Lena Dunham, and you don’t have to like Lena Dunham to like Girls. You don’t even have to like Girls to respect it as a movement. Television is a tool for storytelling, and the stories don’t have to be your stories to be relatable.

Hear it from LD herself:

Follow me on Twitter here.
Follow Lena Dunham on Twitter here.
Read James Franco’s endearingly honest Girls review here.

When I heard about the whole Steubenville trial, I was blown away. It’s already a touchy subject, teenagers and drinking and rape. But when you throw in that people tweeted threats at the victim, texted details and pictures, and the rapists actually took photo and video of the victim and posted them online? I don’t know what I was most upset about: these teenagers for giving young people a bad name, the fact that all of this happened while nobody helped, or the rapists themselves.

Just watch the first minute or so if you’re not familiar with the story.

I would have thought it was difficult to make a situation like this worse, but apparently not. It’s one thing to rape, but to genuinely throw away someone’s pain like this, to brag on the internet and show off your malevolence and complete disregard for the simple humanity of another soul… I just can’t understand. I can’t understand why these people had no regard for moral etiquette or tact (partygoers engaged in the online discussion and social media spread, rather than reporting or stopping the situation). I can’t understand why the photos were on Instagram. I can’t understand why the coach (who was fully aware of the situation) did nothing to punish the boys, and actually blamed the girl, saying “The rape was just an excuse, I think. What else are you going to tell your parents drunk like that and after a night like that?”

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While the world has people like that, it also has people like me. And people like you. And people like your friends, and your family, and their families, and the random people you walk by on the street. These people should be believed, trusted, respected, and treated with humanity. You don’t even have to be a good person to treat people like people.

Immanuel Kant’s greatest philosophical legacy comes from his idea that people cannot treat others as solely a means to their own end. In other words, if you’re using people like they’re tools, and tossing them aside… no good. If your sex life is basically masturbation with another person… no good. If you recently assaulted a sixteen year old with your friend and posted it online because you’re seriously that ignorant of a person… no good. It’s mind-blowingly inhumane, and just not okay.

Why can’t a woman walk into a bar with the sole goal of going home with a man? Well, we can, but it’s much less socially acceptable. Men do it every day. They can freely bar crawl to their heart’s content, getting shot down and trying again until they reel in a winner, but we can’t?

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Have sex, ladies. If you want to. Sexual freedom isn’t limited to the Barney Stinsons of the world; take the world by the bedsheets and live. Hiding from sex and muting discussion don’t help anything. Rape becomes a problem when we don’t talk about it, and when we keep it taboo. Talking things out makes life easier, puts everyone on the same page. Why wouldn’t you want life to be easier?

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So have some sex. Have as much sex as you want. If you’re using protection and not being stupid, there’s no reason to limit yourself because of:

a) how many people your friends have slept with
b) how many people you’ve slept with
c) how many people you think you should sleep with because you saw that Anna Faris movie and it made you judge yourself and everyone else and Chris Evans is just so delicious, if you met fifty different versions of him, you’d probably want to have sex with most of them, and there shouldn’t be shame in admitting that, right? Mmmm, Chris Evans.

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(What’s Your Number, 2011. Good for a bad movie, FYI. Half-decent chick flick.)

Have sex when you want to, and don’t have sex when you don’t. You’ve got hormones, use ’em! Being a slut may not be for everyone, just like kiwi aren’t for everyone, and tequila isn’t for everyone. But keeping track of numbers isn’t important, and nobody should be judged on “their number.” Calling other girls sluts won’t change your number or theirs, and doesn’t accomplish much.

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And why does being a slut have to be a bad thing? Cringing at the word won’t make it go away. Sluts take charge. Knowing what you want and how to get it may qualify you as a “bitch” or a “slut,” but as the oracle of Fey once said:

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If a man doesn’t have to worry about being assaulted if he passed out, why should women? It’s not even a feminist issue, it’s an issue of humanity. There are things you just don’t do, and there are too many people with morality complexes that don’t understand that.

So ladies, life may not change in a day, but take charge. Hold onto your sexuality and wear it with pride. Take a page from the book of JLaw:

And maybe a page or two from my own story:

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What Steubenville brings to light is this: they weren’t techincally breaking the law, so they thought their actions were okay. These boys legitimately cannot recognize right from wrong (minds that consider morality would have recognized their actions as inhumane and horrible, but these boys did not see it that way). They were raised this way, and it’s not just the small town of Steubenville that supplies this culture.

Rape culture has become a hub of blame-throwing and name-calling, and it’s time to stop. We can learn from Steubenville. Teach morality. Practice right and wrong. Bringing up the future on a solid ground will make the difference. #realmendontrape (Photo above from Toronto Slutwalk 2012, read my post about the walk here.)

As a little summary, here’s a video that puts everything into PERFECT perspective. Watch from 4:00. I just can’t put it any better.

So I leave you now, with a list: 20 things that are NOT an invitation to rape.
Brush up, humanity.

1. Drinking. (A cup in hand is NOT the same as yes.)

2. Drinking too much. (A bottle in hand is NOT the same as yes.)

3. Being so wasted you can’t walk. (Laying down is NOT the same as yes.)

4. Being so wasted you can’t talk. (No answer is NOT the same as yes.)

5. Being so wasted you lose your shoes. (Drunk is NOT the same as yes.)

6. Being so wasted you can’t get home. (Lost is NOT the same as yes.)

7. Being so wasted you pass out. (Unconscious is NOT the same as yes.)

8. Being passed out. (Seriously, why the fuck do people think it’s okay to fuck unconscious things?)

9. Being asleep. (Zzzzzzzz is NOT the same as yes.)

10. Being single. (Available does not mean yes.)

11. Being out with the girls. (A night out does not mean yes.)

12. Dancing. (Sometimes, girls really do just want to dance. Which is not a yes.)

13. Being a girl.

14. Being a child.

15. Being a virgin.

16. Being a slut. (STILL not a yes.)

17. Having tattoos.

18. Being young.

19. Being old.

20. Being there.

Need I go on?

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