Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Two Month Hiatus

I am taking a break for two months, while I attempt to write more of my upcoming novel, and prepare several new publications.

See you again in June. I will be back, I promise.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What the Problem with Girls is - and why Mistress America was much better

The HBO series Girls surely has many fans. Mostly young women in their 20s and 30s, many of whom are searching for their dreams and not quite getting there a lot of the time, the theme of the show and the lives of the four young women featured surely strikes a chord with them.

As for yours truly, I have to be honest: I just cannot see the appeal, personally. A few years ago when I first learnt about the show, I thought it was something that I would like, but after watching a season, I just quit. The reason: it was boring (sorry Lena). I concluded that it was a great idea, but not that great in practice.

Fast forward to October 2015, when the movie Mistress America came out. It was set in New York City, and was about the lives of young women trying to find their way in life. Like Girls. Except it wasn't entirely like Girls - I liked it much more. There were a lot of great quotes and observations about life, stuff that was missing from that first season of Girls I watched. Mistress America inspired thought in a way that Girls simply failed to. It now appeared that Girls had a great idea, but just did not have great execution (sorry again Lena).

To be fair, all my observations of Girls was based on Season 1, as I hadn't bothered to watch any more of it - unlike Mistress America, of which I am looking forward to watch on DVD when I have the time to. But in this world of information excess, where Season 1 was a disappointment, there's no reason to watch Season 2, right? (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

From Hunger Games to Star Wars, and Beyond: The Rise of the Heroine

When the first Hunger Games movie was released in 2012, it was one of a kind: not many movies had a strong heroine type lead back then. The popularity of the Hunger Games series appears to have changed that forever. In the past few months, many big movies have been released featuring strong heroine type leads, including the latest Star Wars movie (a first for that previously male-dominated franchise, so congrats), The Fifth Wave, Joy, Sufferagate, not to mention the whole Divergent series.

Whilst this may be dismissed by some as just Hollywood's latest fashion, I beg to differ. I have always believed that cultural change is the path to real gender equality, and like it or not, Hollywood driven popular culture affects our wider cultural conversation to a great degree. Whilst some feminists have focused on political initiatives like affirmative action, I have always believed that they are not the way to go, that changing the culture is the only way to go. For 'cultural' feminists like myself, any signs of cultural change is an important victory, and wholesale cultural change driven by Hollywood is a big game changer indeed.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Marriage Equality: Where to in 2016?

2015 was a big year for marriage equality in the Western world. Ireland and the US were the latest countries to join the marriage equality countries list, with discussion starting and continuing in even more countries. With the vast majority of countries still not on board, the fight for marriage equality remains a long one, but 2015 has shown us we can win countries over, one by one, if we play the game right.

And the most important part of playing the game right is simply to keep the issue in the cultural conversation, globally, until it's all done, all around the world. In 2016, as always, talk about this important issue with your family and friends, and other potentially interested people, whenever you can. Future generations will thank you. After all, previous generations worked hard to get us the rights and freedoms we all take for granted, so we need to pay it forward.

We also need to know how the battleground looks, in every round of the game, in order to play it right. As English speaking people, the greatest cultural impact we can have are with English speaking countries, so I believe it's there we should focus our collective efforts, at least in the first instance. The battleground landscape here has changed considerably in 2015, so that now the only remaining English speaking Western countries without marriage equality are Australia and Northern Ireland. Our marriage equality conversation in 2016 should therefore be focussed on these places. (Forget about US Republicans rolling back equality there - it's not happening)

This year, Australia looks particularly promising, with the Prime Minister and Opposition leader there already supporting marriage equality, and action likely to be seen late this year or early next year, after the federal election due around September. In these circumstances, keeping the discussion up leading up to the election is very important. And I believe the whole English speaking world can help. We should do our best to keep marriage equality trending in Twitter, keep news of marriage equality on people's Facebook feeds, and keep the topic very much alive over the course of 2016.

Marriage equality is a global effort, it's not done until it's standard worldwide. Even if you already live in a country with marriage equality, you need to keep fighting. After all, a US or UK same-sex marriage clearly remains 'not equal' if it's not recognised when the couple is on holiday in Australia (something many US and UK couples do every year, without affecting their marital status, may I add), right?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

TaraElla's Song of the Year 2015

After much deliberation, I have decided that the greatest hit to come out of 2015, is...

LEA MICHELE - THIS TIME



Other honorable mentions:

HAILEE STEINFIELD / JESSIE J - FLASHLIGHT



MEGHAN TRAINOR - DEAR FUTURE HUSBAND


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Is This Adele's Greatest Hit Ever?

In recent months there has been a lot of buzz surrounding Adele's late 2015 hit Hello. As of this week, it has spent ten weeks on top the Billboard charts. Whilst I think it's a good song, I really don't see this level of spectacularity in it, to be honest.

Adele's next offering appears to be much better, however. It's too early to say how When We Were Young will do, but I am already liking it better than anything else she has done in the past few years. Check it out.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Making Feminism More Inclusive: Part 1

This is part one of a series of ideas by TaraElla to help make feminism, well, more inclusive.

The movement of feminism has gained many supporters in recent years. Some of my friends have even come on board, even though just five years ago they would have thought it to be outdated. Though this may be encouraging, I have also encountered other women who still have concerns about identifying as a feminist. It's not that they don't want gender equality - all of us want that. It's just that they have a perception of feminism being about certain rules, including rules they cannot obey. Whilst this is certainly not true of feminism itself, if it's a perception some people have, I think it needs to be addressed.

For example, one of my friends thought that all feminists had to support affirmative action, something that she was consciously very opposed to, due to personal experience. In fact, when I told her that I was a feminist who didn't support affirmative action, she was surprised. I mean, parts of the feminist community do give us pressure to conform with the majority view here, but we do exist. For me, feminism is about equality, rather than about specific ways to achieve it. Therefore, there will always be differences amongst feminists. Whilst some feminists believe in affirmative action, others think non-rigid targets are more helpful.

Another friend was hung up on the idea that she could not, with her religious conscience, say that 'abortion is a woman's right'. Whilst this idea is often attributed to feminists, once again I don't think it's what feminism generally is about. Otherwise there wouldn't be pro-life feminists, right? Abortion is always a difficult topic, and even the most progressive and libertarian people sometimes have to agree to disagree. If feminism is to be a broad church, then we must show that both pro-life and pro-choice feminists are equally welcome. In true feminism, not only are men and women to be equal, women of different religious views and consicences are to have equality too.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Episode 2: Should we do more for Movember? I mean, Emmy Rossum just did.

Tara: November will soon be finally over. As some of you may know, November is also Movember, where men grow moustaches to raise awareness for men's health. And some female celebrities have joined in too. Emmy Rossum did so this year, and I agree with her on the important role women can play here.

Jess: Emmy Rossum grew a moustache? Besides that being biologically impossible, it's also gross!

Tara: No, not growing facial hair ourselves. I mean, we can help raise awareness about prostate cancer and other men's health issues. We can get the men in our lives to be more aware, and do regular checkups, for example.

Jess: I don't know about that. I think men know their bodies best, and these women are just doing it for the publicity. Not that men will listen to us on their health issues anyway.

Katie: As long as it's not growing a moustache, I think we should help if we can. But if it gets to the point of growing a moustache, then you can count me out. I'm not getting ugly for the sake of any cause.

Jess: You know, I reckon if we let this women should participate in Movember thing grow, maybe one day we will all be morally obliged to wear a moustache to work. I know one office is doing it this year.

Katie: If that happens I would rather quit my job! There's no way I'm wearing a hideous, fake moustache!

Tara: Then maybe we should join forces to stop it from happening in the first place. I mean, participation is good, but not if we have to look stupid.

Jess: Relax people, it's not going to happen, I was just joking. Even though that would be a pity, because I think you two would look good with some facial hair.

Tara & Katie: What?

Jess: Just joking again.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Episode 1: Taylor Swift thinks Cool is Overrated. Do we agree?

Tara: Country singer Kelsea Ballerini recently told media that her friend Taylor Swift told her cool is overrated, and warm and human is always going to win. I think I have to agree here. I mean, everyone is always trying to be cool, but it's meaningless. On the other hand, warm sounds like a much better way to be. I mean, you can show off 'cool' friends for a few minutes, but 'warm' friends will always be there to help you when you really need it. Also, some people aren't naturally 'cool', and have to fake it. But nobody needs to fake 'warm', in fact 'warm' can't be faked. So a warm friend is always real, whilst a cool friend may not be, and may even lose her 'cool' if circumstances change. I definitely have to agree with Taylor here.

Katie: Sorry, but I cannot ever agree with Taylor Swift because I think she's fake. I think she's neither 'cool' or 'warm', she's just fake. And whilst both cool friends and warm friends can be good friends, fake friends just disappoint. Like how you have been disappointed by her 'betrayal' of country music.

Tara: Not really. I mean, I do like country Taylor better, but you can't call people fake just because they decide to do something else. And Taylor Swift is a great friend, Kelsea Ballerini said it in her interview.

Katie: It's not just that. I don't know why you like her, but, in my opinion, not only is she fake, she doesn't even do it too well. Does Fearless, Red or 1989 represent the real Taylor? Will the real Taylor Swift please stand up?

Tara: Once again, trying different things doesn't mean one is fake. I don't think I've ever worn a striped dress, but if I wore one tomorrow would I then become fake? Anyway, let's get back to the topic.

Jess: In my opinion, Taylor Swift might just have proven herself wrong. I mean, I think she used to be more 'warm', but since Red and especially in 1989 she's more 'cool'. I think she changed because 'cool' is popular and sells records.

Tara: So you think Taylor is fake too? You're agreeing with Katie?

Jess: Not really. I don't think Taylor is fake, I just think she doesn't know what she's talking about there. Honestly, I think she's like that a lot of the time.

Tara: You can't be serious.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life is Driven by Vision and Dreams, or it is Driven by Nothing

Have you recently been feeling 'down'? That your life is going nowhere, and that things are not going to improve? Or maybe you know a friend feeling this way?

An important root cause for the aforementioned feelings is a lack of vision. Without vision, there is no real drive to do anything. Trains and buses only run properly when they have a defined route and destination for the driver to follow, and our lives are the same. If the route and destination plan for your life is not yet available, you need to develop one. Even a rough draft will improve things.

Unlike trains and buses, where the route has been taken many times and is well known, you life is for you to explore, it is not somewhere that you or someone else had gone before. It is a journey into an unknown. Therefore, there will be a need to navigate obstacles, as they come up inevitably. Life visions can only be sustained in the longer term by dreams, and being both optimistic and flexible about them, but always holding tight onto them, never giving up, in the face of obstacles. A fundamental belief in your destaintion, despite temporary setbacks and difficulties, like the bus driver who sits in a traffic jam, but clearly still knowing that he will arrive at his destination, is the attitude we should have.

The Road to Where I Am Heading

Download the full song here.

TaraElla's Latest Single Not That Kind of Retro

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