The Representation of Brits in American Culture

As you know, all of us Brits are incredibly posh, very wealthy, extremely intelligent, we’re all white and we all speak in the same posh southern accent (or RP = received pronunciation as it’s known). Yes, we are all a walking/talking everyday version of Four Weddings and a Funeral. All my male friends are just like Hugh Grant and I’m *exactly* like Kristin Scott-Thomas. Now, excuse me whilst I visit my pal at his beautiful large country house and chortle away the hours whilst quaffing* champagne.

Except, as you may have discerned from my tone or if indeed you in fact, like me, hail from the British Isles then you will realise this is not the case at all. It is in fact a grossly stereotyped idea of what Britain and the British are like. Don’t get me wrong, some people do live their lives like they’ve stepped straight out of a Richard Curtis movie, but this proportion of the British people is very, very small. For a small island, we are a varied breed. However, the representation of us Brits is never more strongly stereotyped than it is within American culture.

Now, please realise, I LOVE American culture. I’ve already praised it’s comedy HERE and have mentioned my love of American films, books and music throughout many of my posts. However, I can’t help but roll my eyes when a British character is introduced on American TV and film. Here we go, I think to myself, they’ll be posh, well spoken, a snob, white and no doubt probably quite dull. Or they’ll be plotting to destroy the world. One or the other. Either way, it’s never that pleasing and rarely accurate.

So here’s a few pointers about how American culture get their representation of British people wrong. Before I start though, none of the below is a dig at Americans, it is a dig at the people who make their TV shows and films. Americans can’t be blamed for thinking the British are only a certain way if that’s all they see of us:

  • We are all posh snobs. Trust me on this one, we are NOT like this. Most of us are not posh (I’m speaking from a personal perspective here) and most of us are very down-to-earth, genuine and self-deprecating. We are nice people who just like a good laugh. The worst example of this representation is bloody Emily (great, classic British name there. Really used your imagination coming up with that name, didn’t you?) from Friends. She was indeed very posh, spoke with the so-called classic British accent (more on this is in a moment), was a complete snob, uptight, showed no sense of humour and most of all was very unlikable. The most annoying thing about Emily is that the writers of Friends created her and the episodes that took place in London as a way to thank the British fans of Friends, but in actual fact all it did was insult us. It’s ok, we got over it once they got rid of the character of Emily as that’s the kind of easy going people we are (we are rarely represented as being easy going either). Interestingly, well respected British actor Helen Baxendale who played Emily was asked to return for the final season of Friends, but she declined. She says that playing Emily was the biggest regret of her career.

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  • We all speak with the same RP accent. We are a small country, a lot smaller than America anyway, BUT we have so many different accents  for such a small country. Geordie (Newcastle), Scouse (Liverpool), Brummie (Birmingham), Manchester, a variety of Yorkshire accents, Bristolian (Bristol), the west country accent, Essex, Suffolk, Home Counties, and at least 4 different London based accents…to name, but a few. Also, that is just England. There is also a wide range of Scottish and Welsh accents too. So, it is safe to say, we do NOT all speak the same. This has been made very apparent to me when I have spent time in the US. Too many times Americans have mistaken me as Australian when they meet me and hear me talk (I am rolling my eyes so hard right now, I’ve almost given myself an eye hernia). In Vegas once, there was this guy on the street that said he could guess what state you were from and if you weren’t American, he’d be able to guess what country. He seemed pretty sure of himself. We had to pay, but if he guessed wrong we’d get our money back plus a prize. I confidently handed him my dollars. I spoke and his answer was….Australian? Nah mate. Not quite. You’re just a whole hemisphere away. For the record, I come from the same part of the UK as both Kate Winslet and Ricky Gervais are from. My accent is half way between the two. Interestingly, the vast difference between Ricky & Kate’s accents is an example in itself of how varied British accents are as they are both from the same town. Occasionally, a “cockney” accent will be portrayed within American culture, but a) it’s usually done badly b) it’s not that often and c) it’s the same area of the UK as the RP accent. Therefore, yet again that British character with the token “cockney” accent is still only representing the same area of the UK.
  • We are all white. Whilst I’m probably not the best person to speak on this subject, being a white Brit myself, it is such a painfully important point, it needs raising. Plus it’s something that properly gets on my tits. Once, I was at a music festival in Coney Island, NYC. The British band the Noisettes came on stage and immediately performed their first song. The lead singer happens to be black. When they finished the song, the lead singer said in her broad London accent “ALRIGHT NEW YORK?”. I was then astounded when surrounding me, everyone turned to each other and questioned “oh my God is she British?” or….”is that singer…you know…British?! I’m so surprised”. They were clearly shocked, but not as shocked as I was that they couldn’t quite believe this black person had a British accent. That some British people could in fact be black. However, we can’t blame these shocked American gig goers. How often when a British character is introduced on American TV or in film are they black? Or Asian or anything other than white? The issue is whenever a black British actor gets work in America they play an American or an African. Never or very rarely do they get to play their own nationality. As I’ve already talked about in a previous post of mine, many Brits play Americans on American TV and if you look at my list HERE you will see that many of them are not white. It is seemingly the only way non-white Brits can get work over there. Idris Elba had to use his well-practiced Baltimore accent when speaking to The Wire fans at it would freak them out if he spoke in his own London accent. This might partly be that they couldn’t handle that this Baltimore character was played by a Brit, but am I too bold to suggest it might also have freaked them out hearing a British accent coming from a black person? After witnessing the reaction of those particular Americans at the Noisettes gig, it could also be a possibility.
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Gratuitous Idris Elba photo because…oh my God just look at the man.

  • The British are just English. I also feel American culture forget about the Scottish and the Welsh. If an Irish person does appear in American culture they are usually from the Republic of Ireland and very rarely from Northern Ireland. Out of these three nationalities the Scottish are probably represented the most. Yet, as you can guess they are largely stereotyped too. I’m thinking about the school caretaker in the Simpsons right now (maybe not the best example because as much as I love the Simpsons, they do like to stereotype- hello Apu). Welsh characters never appear within American culture. I’m struggling to think of one. Can you?
  • If we’re not uptight posh snobs then we are evil villains. We just don’t come across well to Americans, do we? If we did, then maybe just maybe we’d be represented more favourably. However, playing evil Brits has done/did wonders for the careers of Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons et al. Whilst it’s not altogether pleasant, this stereotype doesn’t bother me as much (perhaps it should) as at least these villainous characters are quite fun unlike the boring, haughty British characters. I love this car advert starring Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong that sends up the stereotype of the British being evil villains.
  • We can’t rap. Admittedly, if I did a rap for you right now, you would be well within your rights to point and laugh at me until I walked off in shame. Nonetheless, there is a strong animosity towards British rappers in general. Last year, Drake released his new album and a few tracks featured British rappers Giggs and Skepta (as well as British singers Jorja Smith and Sampha). The reaction on the internet was not positive. Many Americans claimed that the album was ruined by the British rappers. People even created memes to show how angry they were about it (granted, the memes were actually quite funny. You can find some examples HERE). It seems that Americans don’t seem to appreciate our rap/grime music. Again, is this because British rappers don’t fit the only British representation that Americans are exposed to? Possibly, they hear the accent and think that a British person cannot relate to what rap music is about because all we do is drink tea and discuss the merits of Shakespeare over here? I get it to a certain extent. Americans are bound to prefer American music as it represents their culture more. However, to have no tolerance of other countries producing the same genre of music is hardly inclusive and thoroughly audacious. There is one thing that I cannot stand and that is music snobbery. A particular genre of music should never be limited to just one continent.
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British rapper Giggs

  • It rains all the time. So this is more of a stereotype about our country rather than its people. Every time an American TV show or film relocates to the UK, this is typically signified by rain pouring down on the streets of the UK somewhere. Yes, it does like to rain over here. That’s why are countryside is so luscious and green. I appreciate the rain for this reason, but here’s the thing, we also get other weather. We even get hot, sunny days. Only recently, America has been experiencing spring time snow and we on the other hand, have been sunbathing in our back gardens. We get weather that allows us to enjoys days at the beach, allows us to have BBQs in our gardens, picnics in parks and even swim in outdoor swimming pools. The problem being, that it will be like this one week and then a lot cooler and rainy the following week. Our weather is “interestingly” unpredictable over here.
  • We have bad teeth. Yes, some of us have bad teeth, but also lots of us have good teeth. We just like to keep things a bit more “natural” across the Atlantic.
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An excellent example of a natural British smile.

  • The one stereotype about the British that is 100% correct. We drink a lot of tea. First thing in the morning? Yup tea please. Just finished breakfast? Better have another cup of tea. Mid morning break? Tea. Just had lunch? More tea. Mid-afternoon, just got home from work, after dinner, after doing the washing up, after having a bath, someone’s just popped round, someone’s having a crisis, just broken your leg, just had your car stolen, someone’s died, TEA TEA TEA AND MORE TEA. According to us Brits, there is literally nothing that can’t be cured by popping on  the kettle and having a nice cup of tea. The Americans have this stereotype on the nose.

I am sure there are the odd occasions when the British haven’t been stereotyped within American culture, but it’s safe to say these occasions are few and far between.  Why should it bother me that we so often get misrepresented? American culture is huge and dominates across the world. Therefore, this stereotype of the British (and indeed other countries. Did you know that all Russians are also evil villains? Only when the British are too busy drinking tea to take over the world that is) is constantly being seen and compounded across the world. With the worldwide influence American culture has, comes great responsibility. Just to reiterate, I don’t blame Americans at all for thinking the British are all of the above. Also, I realise there will be many Americans that won’t think any of this about the British at all, as they’ll know that a whole nation of people won’t have the same personality and background. It’s just a touch annoying that American culture can’t sometimes broaden its horizons when it comes to representing us Brits. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to put the kettle on and make myself a nice cup of tea. Cheers.

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*WHAT THE FUCK IS QUAFFING?!

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Celebrities That Should Just Get Back Together

I’m a nostalgic person, ladies and gentlemen. This can be witnessed in my weekly music, film and news posts, which start from 1976 and will go through to 2017. However, it’s not just music and film that I’m nostalgic for. I sometimes look at celebrities who have yet again split up with someone and think “oh why didn’t you just stay with him that you once went out with in the 90s. I know your relationship was deeply flawed and you probably hate each other now, but just get back together. Just for me?”. So, here’s a little list of all those now dispersed celebrity couples that should never have split up.

Winona Ryder & Johnny Depp

 

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Please note the tattoo.

Yes I know Johnny is clearly bit of a dick and she can do so much better than him, but 90s Winona & Johnny were so cool and so beautiful (my God Johnny was beautiful back then), but I still want them to get back together. Incidentally, this is what they both look like now. Hmmmm, now who’s aged better?

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Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake

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Yes, I know he’s very happily married to Jessica Biel with a kid and everything these days, but ignoring all of that- look how cute Britney & Justin were! Britin? Justney? They quite rightly didn’t have an ambigram*, did they?

*I looked this word up. I’m not clever enough to know words like this.

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Julia Roberts & Kiefer Sutherland

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Okay, so she did practically leave him standing at the alter (she dumped him 3 days before the wedding. Julia mate, that wasn’t cool), but they were so cute and seemed so in love. I’m still mourning the break-up of this relationship today (oh I’m fully aware that I should possibly get out more. Leave me here, I’m happy).

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Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon

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I absolutely loved these two. Nothing brings me more pleasure than seeing Mariah happy (seriously, this is the woman who demands puppies to play with before a show so that she can relax. I 100% relate to her) and she always seemed so happy with Nick. Also, here’s the categorically best reasons for them to still be a couple, they have two children together.

Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan

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These two should NEVER have split up. It’s the biggest mistake they made in their lives. I’m still very cross about it and I won’t rest until they are back together.

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Look! They still love each other, don’t they? DON’T THEY?!

 

Anna Faris & Chris Pratt

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Why did they do this to me? WHY? Whether celebrities stay together or not is definitely based on how it will make me feel, but arrogantly Anna & Chris never consulted me before they went their separate ways. They just went ahead without any consideration for my feelings and the word that best describes how this break-up made me feel is: gutted.

Jennifer Aniston & Brad Pitt

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Ooh, so this one might be the only one with some potential of reuniting. As you no doubt know already, Jennifer has recently split up with husband Justin Theroux and Brad ain’t with Angelina no more and apparently Jennifer and Brad have “reached out” to each other. Whatever that means. Anyway, fingers crossed, they were perfect for each other.

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The Couple That Were Never a Couple, But Really Should Have Got Together as They Would Have Been So Beautiful Together and Clearly Love Each Other in My Opinion*

*yes I can come up with longer subtitles if I tried, thank you.

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Yep, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio would have made a fantastic couple. I love their loyal friendship which has remained strong over the past 21 years since they made Titanic together. Kate’s currently married to someone called Ned Rocknroll, so that’s reason enough for her to split up with him and get together with Leo.

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Maturing has worked well for both of them

 

The Couple That Must Never Ever Split Up 

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If Chrissy Teigen and John Legend ever DARED to split up, I would give up on love and the idea of soulmates and leave my husband immediately*. They’re hot, they have a very cute kid together and another on the way and I love how much fun they clearly have together. In fact, my favourite thing about them as a couple is how much Chrissy trolls her own husband online. I mean that’s inspirational relationship goals right there.

*ok I may have gone a bit too far there. Possibly.

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So which famous couples do you wish were still together, but aren’t anymore?

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Best Oscar Outfits 2018

Here’s my annual collection of favourite outfits from this year’s Oscars.

Best Dressed Women

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Jennifer Lawrence

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Lupita Nyong’o

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Oscar nominated Meryl Streep

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Oscar nominated Greta Gerwig

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Oscar nominee Mary J Blige

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Oscar award winner (for best supporting female actor) Allison Janney. I think Allison looks absolutely stunning and it’s her outfit that is probably my favourite this year.

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This dress might divide opinion, but I absolutely love this colour on Viola Davis. I think she looks glorious.

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Oscar award nominee Sally Hawkins

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Dame Helen Mirren

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Whilst I’m not convinced by the shoes, I love the rest of Oscar nominee Dee Rees’s outfit. She was one of several women to go against convention and wear a suit rather than a dress.

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Special mention for Rita Moreno who wore the same dress she wore when she won an Oscar back in 1962.

Best Dressed Males

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British Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya

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Armie Hammer

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Oscar winner James Ivory

Best dressed couple

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Mahershala Ali and Amathus Sami-Karim

Cutest Kid

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Maisie Sly from the Oscar winning Best Short film The Silent Child

The What-the-Fuck-is-Going-On-Here Award

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Haley Bennett. Great name, terrible dress.

That’s it folks! See you again same time, same place next year.

And don’t forget to tell me, which one outfit is your favourite outfit…

2017 Culture Review: the best of TV, Films and Music

Here’s my succinct cultural review of 2017. It’s been a great year for TV yet again, not so strong musically, but a few corkers nonetheless. I’ve only bothered with a top 3 for each category, but there were of course, lots of other great TV programmes, films and music from this year. There’s a longer playlist at the end with 25 of the best singles and album tracks from the year for y’all.

Best Album

3. Colours by Beck

2. MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent

1. Melodrama by Lorde (gloriously unapologetic pop, whilst remaining beautiful, dramatic and intimate)

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Best Song

3. Everything Now by Arcade Fire

2. Tomorrow by Anni

1. New York by St. Vincent (my only criticism of this song is that it’s far too short.)
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Best Film

3. Dunkirk/The Last Jedi (couldn’t decide between those two)

2. Trainspotting 2

1. Lion (released at the beginning of 2017 in the UK and I’m still reeling from the fact it didn’t walk away with the Oscar for Best Picture quite frankly. Read more about how this film made me feel here)

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Best TV Programme

3. Stranger Things

2. The Crown

1. Master of None (actual perfectionism)

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That’s mine. You know the score, now tell me yours.

 

15 Favourite Films That Made Me Sob Like a Baby

Hands up who likes a good cry? Come on, I know you do. I certainly do. For me, it’s a cleansing release and wholly therapeutic. Ever since I used to sob at the Emmerdale theme tune as a toddler (my parents used to fetch me and sit me in front of the TV when it came on as some kind of party trick for their friends. And yes, my therapist has said that I’m making good progress with this of late), TV, film, music, books and art have always moved me with ease. So, for me to try and list my favourite films that have left me dangerously dehydrated is not an easy task at all as there is a plethora to choose from. So here goes, a list of 15 of them in descending order of the amount of tears shed. Please feel free to tell me which films have left you snivelling and sobbing in the cinema aisle too.

15. Once Were Warriors

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New Zealand may not be immediately known for its film industry, but considering The Piano, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Heavenly Creatures, The Whale Rider, and the grotesquely brilliant Bad Taste, New Zealand really has made it’s mark in the movie world. But it is was when I went to see Once Were Warriors in the cinema in Australia that I was first introduced to New Zealand films and what an introduction it was. Once Were Warriors tells the story of an urban Maori family set in Aukland. It portrays the reality of domestic violence, alcoholism and sexual abuse, so as you can imagine, it’s not an easy film to watch.

The bit that really sets you off: the death of daughter Grace, is one of the hardest scenes I’ve ever watched in the cinema and I would defy anyone to watch it without shedding a tear.

14. Blue Valentine

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Eurgh. I can’t even…. Never has there been a sadder film that depicts the breakdown of a relationship and ultimately a family. This film is so perfect in so many ways. The way it shows them falling in love, the way it shows the cracks starting to appear, how they try to fix their relationship and finally the inevitable break-up. The film is brilliant for two other reasons though: 1) Ryan -yes please thank you very much- Gosling, who also happens to be very, very good in this 2) Michelle Williams, who I think is one of the best female actors in America at the moment. I mean just look at her heartbreaking scene in Manchester by the Sea for gawd’s sake. She does emotional very well. The two of them were outstanding in this film.

The bit that really sets you off: as Bobby (Gosling) walks away, his young daughter runs after him and begs him to come back. Honestly, this film will literally break your heart.

13. 12 Years a Slave

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As I settled down for my favourite night of the year, the Eurovision Song Contest, I noticed that on another channel showing at the same time was 12 Years a Slave. Well, what a juxtaposition of choice TV channels had thrown up for us all that night. As one cannot get further way from the wonderfully camp and colourful world of Eurovision as you can with this film. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a New York born African American who was kidnapped and and sold into slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance as the film’s protagonist was exceptional and quite rightly earned him an Oscar nod (personally I would have given it to him, but the Academy never bloody asks me what I think. Idiots). It did win him the BAFTA though and Lupita Nyong’o also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Female Actor.

The bit that really sets you off: When Solomon is forced to whip his friend and fellow slave Patsey (Nyong’o) by the bastard plantation owner. It’s nothing short of horrific.

12. Schindler’s List

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I remember leaving the cinema in Reading with my friend Stephen after seeing this film in stunned silence. We struggled to talk to each other about it. It seemed pointless to try and put into words how this film made us feel. It’s inconceivable to think that the events that took place in this film, actually did happen. This wasn’t some kind of fabricated, elaborate story and this makes the narrative of the film very hard to grapple with. Schindler’s List won 7 Oscars and & 7 BAFTAS. Filmed in black and white (apart from the famous red coat), it is one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest achievements in film (there’s a good chance that his greatest ever film also features further down this list).

The bit that really sets you off: generally the whole film will have you in bits, but it’s between when Schindler realises the girl in the red coat that he saw earlier has been killed and when he breaks down claiming that he could have saved so many more lives. Devastating.

11. Inside Out

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Nothing makes me cry more than a Pixar film. So here we are, with the genius that is Inside Out. What a beautiful way to try and explain emotions and what they do to us, for children and young people to understand. Believe it or not, along with Joy- Anger, Disgust, Worry, Fear and Sadness are all in fact, our buddies. Yes, that’s right. We should make friends with them and be at peace with them. I think I learnt more watching this film than I did doing my Psychology A-level.

The bit that really sets you off: Do I really need to explain? It’s the bit when Riley’s imaginary friend Bing-Bong is lost forever as he sacrifices himself to allow her to grow as a human. “Take her to the moon for me” WHAAAAAAA.

10. The Impossible

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For some reason, I stupidly didn’t think that watching a film that was a true story about a family who were separated during the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Thailand and then (SPOILER ALERT) eventually get reunited, would be a tear jerker. What a colossal twat I was. It floored me. I mean, Ewan Mcgregor was swirled around in the devastating tsunami along with two of his sons whilst his wife was whisked off in another direction with his other son. They each thought, each other were dead. There was desolation EVERYWHERE. It would have been THE most stressful and heartbreaking day of their life. AND it was based on true events. Why would that have had me balling my eyes out and wailing?

The bit that really sets you off: There’s no contest. When Ewan McGregor is reunited with his other son and realises his wife has also survived. His little face. Mate, I barely recovered.

9. Up

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Well of course Up is in this list. I’m not a monster.

How Pixar likes to start a charming children’s film for all the family to enjoy:

  • Portray the beautiful, flourishing love between two people
  • Watch them marry. Aah that’s lovely.
  • Watch them start a new family. Just perfect.
  • WATCH HER LOSE THE BABY.
  • WATCH THEM GET OLD
  • WATCH HER GET ILL
  • AND DIE.

And that’s the first ten minutes of the film done. And now you are broken. Forever.

The bit that really sets you off: Obviously the beginning bit, but I also cried like a fool at the end when we see that their home is settled in the place that they always wanted to visit together. Beautiful.

8. Girls’ Night

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It feels like me and me bestie are the only ones to have watched this film. In case you missed this gem of a film, what happens is that national treasures Julie Walters and Brenda Blethyn, are the best of friends and work together in a factory. Then Blethyn gets a brain tumour, so they pop to Vegas with Blethyn’s bingo win and when they return she dies. It affected my friend in the same way as it affected me. In that, we both literally cried for days just thinking of it.

The bit that really sets you off: predictably the end when Brenda Blethyn’s character dies. It’s like Pringles, once you pop you can’t stop. I mean cry. Once you start crying.

7. Toy Story 3

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Damn you Pixar *shakes fist*. Why are your films so hard wired to make me a complete and utter snivelling mess? Toy Story 3 is no exception. It won the Oscar for best animation feature and unusually for an animation film, was also nominated for best film (it lost to The King’s Speech). I would have been quite happy if it did win best film though. It’s a beautiful film that illustrates friendship and that horrific moment that a person almost instantaneously grows from a child into an adult.

The bit that really sets you off: even though I started crying when all the toys held hands as they thought they were about to meet their demise in an incinerator, we all know the most emotional moment is when the toys watch Andy’s departure before they start their new life with Bonnie. Only adults will ever get why this is so gut-wrenchingly moving and incredibly poignant.

6. Selma

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The hardest thing to swallow about this film, is that everything that happened in it, didn’t happen that long ago. My parents were alive during these times and it was only 11 years before I was born. For me, that is staggering. From the look on Oprah Winfrey’s character’s face at the beginning of the film when she isn’t allowed to vote, you know that you’re in for an emotional and disturbing ride. The peaceful defiance of Martin Luther King will have you both in awe yet reeling at the injustice of it’s necessity in the first place. Whilst I’m slagging off the Academy, how Ava DuVernay wasn’t at least nominated for a best director Oscar will be one of the poorest judgement errors the Academy has ever made (especially when the abhorrent Birdman picked up all the awards that Selma should have won).

The bit that really sets you off: the ending when King makes his speech about the equality of black and white citizens. We see clips of the real life marches along with text telling us what happened to each of the film’s main characters. It is then followed by the song Glory by John Legend & Common. The effect is profound. I cried all the way home from the cinema.

5. I, Daniel Blake.

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Good ole Ken Loach, he’s not one to put a silver lining on things, is he? But hey, there really aren’t many silver linings to be found within poverty and within this film (apart from the loveliness of the film’s hero Daniel). This is a film designed to make you angry. Angry at the government and it’s unjust systems. A widower willing to work, but is deemed unfit to work by his doctor after suffering a heart attack, is in turn denied any financial support from the government. His friendship (and his moving generosity) with a single Mother who is equally suffering, demonstrates human nature at it’s best in adverse contrast with the harrowing depiction of the benefits system.

The bit that really sets you off: Whilst the horrific and almost inevitable ending will completely ruin you for the rest of the day. It was the scene where single Mum Katie, almost collapses in the food bank (in order to allow her children to eat, she had had to starve herself for days), whilst desperately trying to eat cold bake beans out of a can and apologising profusely to everyone whilst sobbing, will stay in my mind forever. Heartbreaking.

4. E.T.

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I told you Spielberg’s greatest ever film was in this list. As an 80’s child, it would be near impossible for me not to be a fan of this film, but here’s what is especially wonderful about it. It has managed to transcend over 30 years of cinema. Now my 6 year old daughter is also a big fan and every time I watch it with her, I still blub like it’s the first time I’ve watched it. I love this film in its entirety. I love how wonderfully 80s it is, I love it’s sentimentality, the cuteness of Drew Barrymore, the film’s score, Henry Thomas’s emotional performance and of course, I love E.T. himself. Even though the special effects are now outdated, if there was even just a sniff of a threat to remake this film, I would plan my boycott of its release immediately. E.T. makes me feel cosily nostalgic and it will fill me with joy forever.

The bit that really sets you off: Difficult to choose, so it’s between when Elliot screams after a dying E.T. and when they finally have to say goodbye before he boards his spaceship (even the pet dog didn’t want E.T. to leave ffs) “I’ll be right here”. *cue heart rending music* *cue me losing my shit*

3. Watership Down

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During the last week of school before Christmas, my Primary school headmaster would fetch a film from the local video store for us to watch on the VHS player in the school hall. I remember watching fun films like the Karate Kid or family films like The Muppets. However, one year my headmaster, for reasons that will always be lost on me, came back with Watership Down. What followed next was several children crying during the film, but I cried so much and so hard, I was the only child that had to be removed from the school hall. It traumatised me so much, I haven’t been able to watch it since, I certainly can’t listen to “Bright Eyes” and I have no intention of letting my daughter see it until she is at LEAST 18. In fact, why doesn’t this film have an 18 certificate? Richard Adams who wrote Watership Down, did reflect in later years that perhaps he had made it a tad too dark. No shit Sherlock.

The bit that really sets you off: It’s either the distressing fighting or when Hazel dies and her spirit floats off into the afterlife. Anyway, shut up, I can’t really talk about it.

2. Lion

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Whilst everyone else was banging on about either Moonlight or La La Land winning the Oscar for best film, I was in a completely different corner chanting “please, please, please let it be Lion“. However, yet again the Academy failed to take any notice of me and gave the Oscar to Moonlight (or was it La La Land? Boom!). I cried from beginning to end watching this film about an Indian child who becomes separated from his family, who then gets adopted by an Australian couple and then later in life tries to find his Indian family. At the end, when the lights went up in the cinema, there was a gentleman in his 70s crying loudly one side of me and a gentleman in his 40s in a similar state the other side. So it has to be said that if a film can make men of variable ages cry out load in public, it’s a hardcore tear jerker for sure. Also, and completely unnecessarily, can we talk about how hot Dev Patel is? Thanking you.

The bit that really sets you off: there isn’t just one bit. You will cry from the beginning of the film, throughout the middle of the film and just as the film ends and you don’t think you can cry anymore, they will show you some real life footage that will tip you over the edge. Good luck with that.

 

So here we go…..

 

Here’s the film that made me cry like no other….

 

The film that left me like a pathetic puddle on the floor…..

 

It is…..

 

1. Marley & Me

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Yep whilst most of the films in this list cover important topics such as slavery, the Holocaust, domestic violence, poverty, terminal illness and racism, the film that has made me cry like nothing else, is a a film about….a dog. A fairly stupid dog at that. It was released in 2008 and was based on the memoir journalist John Grogan wrote about his dog, Marley. We see Marley grow up alongside his owners as they get married, move, get promoted and become parents. I cried a lot at this film. And when I say “a lot”, I mean a gargantuan amount, a dangerous amount, a “is she ok, shall we call her family/a doctor/a priest” amount. I cried the next day when I thought about it and when I started describing it to a friend a week later, I cried some more. In fact, just thinking of the ending has made tears spring into my eyes right now as I type. Anyone that has or has ever owned a pet will be moved by this film that beautifully depicts the special relationship humans have with their pets.

The bit that really sets you off: I start wailing as Jennifer Anniston says goodbye to Marley as he’s placed in the boot of the car before he is taken to the vets, BUT that is nothing compared to what is to come. It’s the moment when Owen Wilson says goodbye to Marley at the vets, letting him know much he was loved and telling him he was the greatest dog. We see Marley look into his owner’s eyes as if he understands everything that’s being said to him. It destroyed me.

 

The one that almost, but not quite made the list: Mask 

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The bit that really sets you off: Rocky passes away and after discovering him in his bedroom, his Mum puts pins in the map of the world that’s on his bedroom wall, telling him that he can go anywhere in the world now.

Best Oscar Outfits 2017

Glossing over the almighty cock-up with the best film announcement and making this a yearly tradition, here’s my collection of favourite outfits from this year’s Oscars.

  • Chrissy Teigen the queen of Twitter, took command of the red carpet in this gorgeous number.

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  • Viola Davis always gets it right at award ceremonies and picked up her best supporting female actor Oscar in this stunning red dress.

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  • Isabelle Huppert was up for best female actor in a leading role and defined ageless elegance in this sparkling outfit.

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  • Taraji P. Henson starred in Hidden Figures, but there was no hiding her amazing figure in this va-va-voom velvet dress.

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  • Karlie Kloss is a supermodel and looks amazing in this all in white Stella McCartney number.

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  • Ruth Negga the Irish actress and Loving star was up for best female leading role and carried this red outfit off perfectly. She along with other red carpet stars teamed their outfits with a blue ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) ribbon. More information on the ACLU can be found here.

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  • Auli’i Carvalho played the lead role in the excellent Disney film Moana and she looks beautiful in this white, gold lined dress

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  • Dev Patel and his Mum Could DP get any cuter and dashing? Well yes, when he takes his Mum to the Oscars with him, he certainly can. Both of them looked joyfully fabulous.

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  • Sunny Pawar the super cute 8 year old Indian actor and star of Lion gets my award for best dressed male.

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Best Oscar Outfits 2016

As everybody else will be banging on about the Oscars this morning, I thought I’d add my twopence worth. Here’s a run down of my favourite outfits from last night’s glamour event of the year (in no particular order).

  • Brie Larson I loved this dress from the Oscar winner for best actress in a leading role (for the excellent Room). I’m also very pleased she won the Oscar too.Brie Larson
  • Alicia Vikander I adore the choice of yellow for the Oscar winner for best actress in a supporting role (for The Danish Girl). She gave a phenomenal performance in the role.Alicia Vikander
  • Cate Blanchett Cate didn’t win the Oscar for her part in Carol, but never mind she looked divine in this pretty dress by Armani. She always gets it right on the red carpet.

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  • Saoirse Ronan This is a gorgeous mermaidesque green dress for the Irish Oscar nominee (for the brilliant Brooklyn).

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  • Naomi Watts Maybe mermaid was the theme at this year’s Oscars? I love how the different colours merge into each other for Naomi’s outfit.Naomi Watts
  • Margot Robbie Wasn’t it clever of Margot to come dressed as an actual Oscar statue? It’s a stunning dress nonetheless.Margot Robbie
  • Chloe Pirrie This lovely art deco type dress is certainly one of my favourites.Chloe Pirrie
  • Olivia Munn Orange is a colour considered to clash with the red carpet, but I love someone that dares to wear an unusual and bright colour to Oscars.Olivia Munn
  • Emily Blunt Best Oscar maternity dress goes to Emily, who’s pretty pink dress is perfection.

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  • Mark Ruffalo And the best dressed male award goes to Mark as he broke the mould and didn’t wear a completely black tuxedo. Also I just wanted to mention him as I absolutely loved him in Spotlight.Mark Ruffalo

The Case of the Missing Princesses

My daughter (the big klutz) broke her favourite Disney princess pink cup the other day, so being the hopeless softie that I am I went straight onto the Disney store website to order her another. Now this is where I ran into a problem that perhaps only parents of young children who love Disney princesses can relate to, Disney have released a new version of the pink cup and this new version no longer features one of my daughter’s favourite princesses. That princess being Princess Tiana from the film Princess and the Frog. Now, please bear with me. This article is not just about the highly stressful problems that 5 year old Disney obsessed little girls face.

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Princess Tiana

For some time, my daughter has been demanding an explanation as to why Mulan (another of her favourites), Pocahontas and Merida didn’t feature on her pink cup. She has also wondered why they don’t ever feature in the Disney Princess magazine. You see, my daughter like many other children her age, is incredibly observant (it is at times quite frankly annoying). She notices things like “why are there only 5 chocolate coins left when yesterday there were six”, “where is that amazing cereal box that I stuck a bit of foil to that I brought home from school 8 months ago” and she also notices missing Princesses from Disney merchandise. She has also started to notice that it always seems to be the same Princesses missing every time. So now, along with poor Mulan, Pocahontas and Merida, Tiana has now become another victim of the missing Disney Princess and to be honest when she did feature on any merchandise, she was always shoved to the back, allowing princesses such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty to take precedence.

So, why have these particular princesses gone missing or have been conveniently forgotten about?

Now the more observant of you will notice that 3 of the 4 “missing” princesses are not white. Tiana is black, Mulan is Chinese and Pocahontas is of course a native American. Some might argue that Merida being ginger and Scottish could also be considered to be part of her own ethnic group. I say you’re probably just being hilarious and undermining genuine ethnic groups. However, it probably is worth noting that she is not American and is the only Disney princess to speak with a non-American accent (yes, even Mulan has an American accent). Those of you that know your Disney princesses and their copious amounts of merchandise, will know that Princess Jasmine from the film Aladdin is still regularly featured and definitely not “missing”. Jasmine is of Arabic decent (which country Aladdin was set in has never been clarified), so it could be said that the reason these particular princesses are missing cannot be racist or xenophobic. However, I do not feel the race connection can be ignored. Yes Jasmine is non-white and non-American, but compared to the other 4 princesses she is by far considerably more overtly sexual. For example she is forced to seduce the evil Jafar in order to save her life.

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Princess Jasmine

So, does this make her a more acceptable Princess to feature in the Disney merchandise? Looking at the missing 4 princesses, I would say so. Merida, Tiana, Mulan and Pocahontas are not as sexual in their charactisation. They are also the less “girly” princesses. Pocahontas jumps of cliff edges into rivers, climbs trees, refuses to marry the man her Father wants her to and saves the life of the man who she loves. Not quite your usual damsel in distress character. Mulan challenges the idea that a woman cannot fight and joins the army (albeit disguised as a man) and proves her worth and rescues pretty much everyone along the way. Tiana has ambition and demonstrates that with hard work  and tenacity you can achieve your dreams. She is also the only princess with an actual career. Lastly, Merida, well Merida is quite frankly awesome. She was the only princess before the days of Queen Elsa (who technically isn’t a princess anyway) that does not have a love interest. Her fate does not lie in the hands of a man. She is feisty, gutsy, athletic, brilliantly stubborn and outspoken. She is basically everything your average princess should not be.

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Princess Merida

If Merida purposefully ripping her restricting princess dress so that she can “win her own hand” during the archery competition isn’t a symbol of the suppression of women by the patriarchy then I don’t know what is. These princesses do not rely on their looks or sexuality to achieve. It is also worth noting that their princess dresses are the least “girly” with the exception of Tiana who actually spends most of the film as a frog anyway.

All the other princesses compound the idea that the most important thing about a woman is her looks and need a man to define them and more often than not- rescue them. The exception possibly being Rapunzel who of course saves herself from the tower. However, Rapunzel with her long, LONG golden locks and huge baby-like blue eyes does conform to stereotypical princess looks.

Thank goodness that we now have Elsa and Anna of Frozen fame. I’m quite confident in saying that Disney are not going to forget these princesses any time soon. I’ve always argued that Anna is the real hero of the two as Elsa is simply born with her power. Whereas Anna saves her sister’s life purely with determination, guts, perseverance, boldness and aah love (gee love is the most powerful tool of them all etc etc). Most importantly, the girls do not sacrifice anything for men that they love (don’t even get me started on the symbolism of Ariel from the Little Mermaid sacrificing her voice for a man she has barely known for 2 seconds).

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with girls who happen to be girly and feminine. We are all different. Women are not simple, 2 dimensional people. We come in all different shapes, colours and sizes and we all have different personalities, ambitions and skills. This is the point that I am trying to make. When Disney have gone to the effort of creating a princess that does not fit the normal princess mould, she seems to be quickly forgotten about. Disney has a huge responsibility in creating role models for little girls. If little girls only see princesses that aren’t like them they are going to feel as if they are abnormal and that they are different from other girls. Disney princesses should be a diverse representation of all girls. In an age where diversity or rather the lack of is still incredibly a significant issue, Disney cannot afford to allow these princesses to remain forgotten. Only this month, yet again all 20 actors nominated for Academy awards were white. It is inexcusable that when Disney finally got around to creating a black princess, she is now being quickly shunted to the background and forgotten about. Disney have the power to make a difference and it is astounding that their effort so far to do so is a tad lazy. Elsa and Anna are a great step in the right direction, but I still feel we have a long way to go yet.

So, have Tiana, Pocahontas, Merida and Mulan gone missing because of their race or their lack of conformity to feminine norms? Sadly, I fear it is a combination of both of these reasons. All four of these princesses are excellent role models for young girls and Disney needs to push these to the front equally along with all the other princesses. The moral of the story being, all girls are different, all girls are equal.