Thursday, September 24, 2015

Taylor Swift's latest video racist? What nonsense!

Taylor Swift's latest music video for Wildest Dreams has been predictably popular, like most of her other stuff. But unexpectedly, there has also been a weird suggestion floating around: that it is 'racist'.

What? How is it racist? That was my first reaction, and it is likely to be yours too, I think.

Apparently, they accused Taylor of not having enough Africans in the video, even though it is set in Africa.

From that accusation, you would imagine Taylor walking through a major African city, but surrounded by only white people, like in a white-only part of apartheid South Africa, for example. But no, the reality is nowhere like that. Instead, there simply are not many people at all in the video. It may take place in Africa, but the animals seem to be the other main attraction, besides Taylor herself.

So the charge of racism is nonsense after all. Not that you would expect Taylor Swift to be racist. People should stop saying nonsense like this. It distracts from the fight against real racism.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Tale of Two New Political Leaders: Malcolm Turnbull and Jeremy Corbyn

In case you haven't noticed, (and it's not unlikely for many Americans, for example), just this past week the political landscape of the English speaking world underwent a major shift, with the election of two party leaders, Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister of Australia, and Jeremy Corbyn as opposition leader of the UK.

The election of Turnbull is a triumph for moderatism and liberalism. His predecessor Tony Abbott was widely seen as too conservative for Australia, out of touch on major social issues like marriage equality and climate change. This was seen as major reason for his continued poor polling, ultimately leading to his party replacing him with Turnbull. It's a lesson that you cannot force your beliefs onto the electorate, and that democracy works, after all. People want leaders who can unite, not leaders who are divisive.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, is anything but a triumph for moderatism and liberalism. Corbyn is a committed socialist, and is seen as far too left wing for the UK. He received great support from members of the Labour Party, but it does not look like the rest of the UK would feel the same way. Already, people are predicting Corbyn to lose the next election badly. But even if he wins, if the story of Tony Abbott is any guide, he is likely to struggle to unite his country.

In the end, no country benefits from having a divisive government, and therefore the majority of people would not want one. We all have our passionate beliefs, but we need to respect the wide range of cultural feelings out there too. The Abbotts and Corbyns of this world may have passionate support from their base, but this is unlikely to ever result in a happy ending for all. This should be something we need to keep in mind, when championing any cause.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Life Journey Ideas :: Stumble Your Way Towards Your Dreams

Life can be a hassle to get through sometimes. What makes it all worthwhile in the end are the dreams we hold, and the possibility of achieving them. Yet the road towards any dream is usually not straightforward.

This means we often stumble our way towards our dreams. And by stumbling, I mean that we often have to move along, not knowing where the current road we are travelling on will lead us to, and even often walking paths that will lead to nowhere, only to realise and turn back, but with important lessons learnt. With this kind of stumbling, and with our dreams still firmly planted in our minds, we eventually get closer to our target.

In the journey of life, it is rare to be able to see the destination early on. But if you let your dreams guide you through your stumbling journey, you will get there one day.

Download the full song here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Castle Ideas :: Cultural Improvement :: Equality Movements Should Be Tolerant

It's a great thing to be involved in social movements to bring about inclusion and equality, I believe. Every generation on Earth should make this a better place for all. However, we should not forget our ultimate aim to be a society of freedom and tolerance, when faced with those who are opposed to change.

For example, it pains me that the marriage equality movement, something I have been passionately involved with for more than a decade now, has in recent years been accused of intolerance. Of course, we would like the world to be more accepting and inclusive for all. However, to say that businesses who do not wish to be involved in same sex weddings deserve to be out of business for their 'bigotry' is really not on. I am ashamed of my fellow equality supporters who say things like this. Not to mention more serious 'action', like the boycott of Mozilla Firefox last year.

I am sure that equality and inclusion, including in marriage equality, will come with time. Perhaps in a generation almost everyone will accept same sex marriages. It's not unlikely, the way trends are going. But to force people to come on board really defeats our goals of tolerance and freedom, right?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Castle Ideas :: Towards Equality :: Smashing Sexism Should Not Be About The Politics

It's great to see that, in recent years, the world has been taking sexism seriously again, after a hiatus of several decades. Discussion of the topic is totally mainstream nowadays, unlike just 10 years ago, where you'll find such discussion often restricted to particular circles, with the question 'is feminism irrelevant now' more likely to be found in mainstream discourse.

Smashing sexism, once and for all, should be a team effort. We should all be in it together. And we need everyone to participate passionately too. Things like smashing the glass ceiling and ending domestic violence are difficult long term campaigns that require a whole of society effort. In light of this, Emma Watson's invitation of the boys to come on board was really inspirational. We should all do something similar whenever we can.

On the other hand, political division would be unhelpful for the team effort. I know we are all passionate about some things, but you really don't have to agree with a certain brand of politics to be part of team smashing sexism. Some feminists strongly believe in affirmative action, but the more libertarian among us find that idea suspect and prefer we get there on merit. It's okay to have differences like these - affirmative action or not, it should not distract from our common goals. Another good example is differing views on abortion. There's the debate between pro-life feminists and pro-choice feminists, and even amongst the pro-choice there's the question of whether it should just be 'safe and legal' or 'safe legal and rare'. Again, this just mirrors the general political debate on the topic, and should not be a cause to disunite us.

Smashing sexism is a team effort. Don't let our personal politics get between us.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

View On Culture :: Is it the Kardashian and Jenner World? It's not!

A few days ago, my friend remarked that it must be the Kardahsian and Jenner world out there now. I mean, she probably has a point, as a recent list of the most hotly discussed celebrities had a few of them in the top 10. And even without trying to 'keep up' with them, I've somehow managed to know that Caitlyn Jenner is being criticised for her views on social programs, and that there are reports of Kim Kardashian's next child being named Easton West.

But all that's because too many people have developed an obsession with this particular family, who, besides from being very rich, offer nothing too special for our culture, I believe. That's why I refuse to tune into their world. And I'm not missing out, either. Kim Kardshian and her sister Khloe are no more interesting than the many young women doing VLogs on Youtube, for example. And for all the media interest in Caitlyn, there are many others in a similar situation doing VLogs too. (Except for the fact that they don't usually criticise social programs.) In fact, YouTube is the best source of reality TV out there, and in the age of YouTube, I really don't understand the appeal of the Kardashians' shows.

For those who want to live in the Kardahsian and Jenner world, they can feel free to tune in. But for me, I'm going to continue to opt out, as the world out there is so much more interesting.

Download the full song here.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Castle Ideas :: Cultural Improvement :: Don't Like What's Out There? Add Your Own!

People often complain about what's on offer in popular culture land out there. It's too cliche. It's not inclusive enough. It's too vulgar. It's unimaginative. I know the feeling, as personally I have been morally outraged by many offerings out there in the past, even calling for boycotts sometimes (remember Miley Cyrus and Wrecking Ball)?

But outrage is rarely effective (as my Wrecking Ball example shows). A more constructive response is to create your own alternative vision of culture instead. If you don't like what's being offered, create an alternative. Making your own music, TV show or even movie has never been easier. It will help make culture richer, and help to achieve your cultural vision in a way that negativity simply never will.

As for me, I still believe the vulgarity of Wrecking Ball is not called for, and in my world, music videos should be much more 'family friendly'. Trust me, there is something refreshing about wholesome culture, it just feels so good. But I have learned that outrage and boycott don't really work. Therefore, I am determined to make my own culture, and I hope that we can show the world that there's a better way, by being constructive rather than negative.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Life Journey Ideas :: How Awkward Taylor Swift Can Inspire Your Life

Taylor Swift is one of the most popular cultural icons of these times, so we can probably learn something from her. Unlike many more 'perfect' stars, one of her major appeals is her awkwardness. In fact, there are whole blogs out there celebrating her awkward dancing, for example.

So why do people love seeing awkward Taylor? I think the answer lies in her willingness to try, even though she is not perfect. Too many people only do things when they can only do it perfectly. But that isn't what life should be about! Taylor has earned our respect by her willingness to try different things, even if they may look awkward by others' standards. What's even more important is that she doesn't seem to care how others see her. That earns her a double layer of respect.

Is there a lesson for our lives here? I bet there is.

Download the full song here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Castle Ideas :: Family Values :: Commitment in the New Age

Relationships between people have become less permanent over the past few decades, and this has let to a lot of pain and misery for many people. Is life meant to be this way? I don't think so. I think we have lost the culture of commitment, and we need to restore it.

The traditional marriage relationship serves as a good inspiration. Two people make their vows to each other, and commit for life (for the record I don't agree with the government usurption of marriage in the 1700s, turning it into a legal contract)*. When people took this more seriously, relationships often did last for life. On the other hand, many of my friends don't believe in marriage nowadays. That's okay too, each person should be able to find the path of commitment most suitable for them. What's important is that traditional and non-traditional couples alike can take commitment seriously, and try their best to make it life-long.

Restoring commitment culture is essential for the future survival of our communities. It should be a high priority in today's world, and it's also something we can work together towards.

*Whilst I totally believe in marriage, my strong view is that the vows to keep each other for life is what makes a marriage. Therefore, I see 'private marriages' as equally dignified and meaningful, and I believe anyone who isn't a fascist should also do so. Google 'marriage privatization' to learn more.

Download the full song here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The New TaraElla Show

The new TaraElla show is coming soon.

New features will include:
*Tara's Fighting Ideas - life is a fight to get through sometimes. I will share my ideas on how to get through this fight called life, and we will fight our way to a great future together. With the right attitude, we can conquer any crisis.
*Tara's Castle Ideas - I do not have a physical castle somewhere in Europe, but I have a castle of culture and values. Like every other princess, she will defend and maintain well her castle.
*Tara's Audition Series - I am preparing to audition for musical shows. But it will take some practice. You, my audience, are invited to be part of this journey of preparation.

Plus, of course, all your favorite entertainment news and opinion, which will still be a large part of the new format.

TaraElla's Latest Single Not That Kind of Retro

This song is now available at the TaraElla Google Play shop.