Tuesday, 28 March 2017

How to Trick Someone Into Telling You Their Name (After You Forget It)

Hey friends!

So I have serious issues remembering names and sometimes I manage to wiggle my way out of it, I repeat sometimes.

I'ma share some ways to help you out! I must say that these usually work within social situations not exactly professional scenarios.

1. Ask them if they have a pet name
This may help jog your memory if it is at all similar to their real name, for example I had this friend who's name is Aina Sofreena and she told me her mom calls her "Nana." That helped the train ride a lot more comfortable!

2. Ask to see their ID tag
Well, this works for college students who usually have their ID tag with them. There was this guy who I'd have many conversations with and he would always say "Hi Haezell!" Hence, I never had the heart to tell him that I forgot his name. Instead I was like "Hey, is that your ID tag? Can I have a look, please?" Obviously, he asked why. I responded saying I'm just curious and I'd like to see what you full name is. Worked like a charm, Did this just yesterday. The next step is to strike up a conversation about their name. Just bullshit.

3. Introduce this person to another acquaintance or friend
Get your friend to introduce themselves to this person saying "Hey, I'm... and you are?" It could be that simple and this works well in professional scenarios as well!

4. Ask them what their full name is

5. Ask for their contact number/ Facebook/Instagram account
When saving or searching for their name ask them how to spell their name for the former and what their handle is for the latter. The former method will not bode well for you if their name was super simple like Sarah or Sam but then you can additionally employ method four.

And if all hell fails just go "Hey, friend!" Like I always do, but I do that to everyone it has become my signature move.

Anyway hope this helps, bye now!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Beyonce’s Formation Music Video within Edward Said’s Orientalism Theory

Storey (2009: 167) highlights that the concept of race has been articulated through the human insist of division. He further extends that this in itself is a notion of racism because although biologically there is skin tone variety, the act of distinguishing them is placed within social and political context – having the signification mean something as opposed to just being physical difference. Gilroy (1991: xxii) argues that “race” is a virtual reality given implication only due to racism. He extends that social and political environment and ideology constructs “race” which are the sustaining components within “racialization” which have characterized capitalist development (35). This paper will explore a detailed analysis of iconic pop star Beyonce Knowles’ Formation music video using the approach of Orientalism by Edward Said.

The music video is centred on African American pride particularly the black southern side. Beyonce illustrates her history of southern identity through the cultural practice, features and issues of New Orleans. The video reflects on the images of Hurricane Katrina, Mardi Gras and the Black South. Natural hair focus, Beyonce sitting on a sinking New Orleans police car and a young African American boy dancing in front of police officers, followed by a graffiti stating “stop shooting us” are all key messages of the music video. Furthermore, typically a woman’s dancing within music videos are highly sexualised however, in Formation, the choreography focused on strong movements with Beyonce and other African American women portraying flair and confidence, reflecting black southern nightlife from parades to clubs where there are drum majors march and twerking (Robinson, 2016). She reminds the audience where she is from; her parental roots: “My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana, You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama.” Cultural pride is represented largely within the lyrics and video – “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag,” images of women sitting in parlours fanning themselves and twirling umbrellas is all in reminiscent of the sartorial splendour of black New Orleans (Robinson, 2016). In addition to that, “Mardi Gras and second line imagery pepper the video, offering a celebration of the city that accounts for the black and indigenous cultures  that created and sustain it through their labour” (ibid).

Turner (1996: 6) argues that with the examination of popular culture and the attempt to understand it – the political aspect allows us “to examine the power relations that constitute this form of everyday life and thus reveal the configurations of interests its construction serves.” This particular popular text was chosen due its political nature in dealing with race which can be configured utilising the theory posed by Edward Said. Moreover, racial issues constitute much discussion within society and it is interesting to view it from a popular culture standpoint. From this point of view, investigation of "race" in mainstream culture would be the investigation of the distinctive courses in which it has and can be made to connote.

Said (1985: 89) asserts that “the Orient was a European invention” – whereby “Orientalism” is the relationship between the Orient and Europe particularly, the defying quality the Orient has brought towards the West via the contrast in image, idea, personality and experience. He claims “Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient” (ibid.). Basically, it is a “system of ideological fiction” (pg. 321) where power is at stake. Hegemony by the West over the Orients exists from the supposed difference between the two where “the West … is rational, developed, humane, superior and the Orient … is aberrant, underdeveloped, inferior” (pg. 300).

Storey (2009: 173) argues that within the context of Orientalism, Hollywood representations don’t have to succumb towards being historically accurate; ‘true’ or ‘false’ don’t carry much weight. However, in his Analysis of Culture (1961) Williams claims that a thorough cultural analysis can only happen if the historical context is taken into consideration. This is because in actual fact, what is integral is “the regime of truth” (Foucalt: 2002: pg. 131) that is practised, stating that Hollywood power is not a negative entity – in fact, it is productive (Storey, 2009: pg. 173). Caliendo and McIlwain (2011: 184) assert that “the theoretical framework of Orientalism derives primarily from Michel Foucalt’ discourse theory and Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony.” Storey relates this supposed theory to Foucalt’s understanding of power to Hollywood’s power claiming it doesn’t ‘repress’, ‘censor’, ‘abstract’,  ‘mask’, or ‘conceal,’ on the contrary, “it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth” (1979: 194). Similarly as to how it can be applied within a Hollywood framework, it can also follow the same application within Beyonce’s Formation. Hurricane Katrina was a highlighted topic in Beyonce’s video depicting ruins of the city after the occurrence of the disaster – her video even began with a narration asking “What happened at the New Orleans?” Hurricane Katrina, the most expensive natural disaster in American history, killed nearly 2,000 people and displaced one million (BBC News, 2016). It largely affected the city of New Orleans, in Louisiana and until today George Bush’s slow response in aiding the victims remains a wellspring of profound disdain in the city (ibid). According to Sommers et al. (2006: 6) the lack of support from the government stemmed from a racist standpoint; general population of the victims are African American deeming them unworthy of help. The media is a channel that has the power to influence and shape the public minds (Happer and Philo, 2013) and hence, the media portrayal had to depict their “regime of truth,” claiming the government had helped efficiently. The coverage for Katrina was extensive, and the media was criticized for heavily proclaiming the governmental support (Carr, 2005; Kutz, 2005). Also, many public figures consciously chose to use the word “refugee” in referring to the victims (Sommers et al., 2006). Jackson and Sharpton (2005) argue that this is act is racially biased because it avoided the primarily African American victims and implied they were less than full citizens. 

Althusser (1971) claims a  problematic contains “the  assumptions,  motivations, underlying  ideas,  etc.,  from  which  a  text  is  made.” Storey (2009: 72) further explains a text structure is derived from just as much by what is absent (what is not said) as by what is present (what is said). Althusser argues that to fully understand a text, it requires awareness of text content and also the suppositions which inform it (it may not be evident in the text itself in a straightforward, obvious manner but exist only in the text’s problematic). Storey (2009: 72) mentions that as an Althusserian critical practice, it is important to deconstruct the text to disclose the problematic; the act of doing so is what Althusser calls a ‘symptomatic reading’.

Beyonce through this practice created her own “regime of truth” within Orientalism where she discusses the fall of New Orleans. This would seem contradictory to the Orientalism theory where only the West had the power to create reality. Caliendo and McIlwain (2011: 185) draw attention to Said’s ignorance on hegemonic power that exists within the Western discourse itself. Clearly, Beyonce is a true testament to his lack of exploration within non-white cultures. “Earned all this money but they will never the country out of me” is a continuous verse in her video claiming that despite all her success she still stays true to her roots. The chorus which states “I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it, I dream it, I work hard, I grind until I own it” and “I go off, I go hard, Get what’s mine, I’m a star, Cause I slay” visibly portrays her power within obtaining what she wants. Through her hegemonic status, she has the power to illustrate key messages to send out messages to her fans and maybe even indirectly towards the governmental scrutiny. She was also strategic by intentionally releasing it during the Black History Month, particularly on African American racial victims’ birthday; Trayvon Martin’s and Sandra Bland’s to further instil her message (NPR, 2016).
Beyonce even touched on police brutality towards the African American community. Her video conjured images of a young boy dancing in front of police officers as well as hands being held up before seeing the words, “Stop shooting us.” Storey (2009) highlights a plot within Said’s Orientalism approach where there “whites, who because of the supposed power of their racial heredity impose themselves on the jungle and its inhabitants”. This is exemplary towards the police force’s unethical conduct of racial violence towards the African American community. She garnered the use of a pop platform as a powerful paradigm to bring about the necessary attention towards racism and marginalized groups, telling an important story about the black South (Robinson, 2016).
Kim and Chung (2005: 73) point out that despite Said’s primary focus on Europe’s relations with the Middle East and South Asia, the “political ideologies” and “cultural imageries” indirectly have hegemonic dichotomies that assist in deciphering the interplay of Orientalism dynamic in America – Orientalism has a notion of white power to justify its dominance. In Said’s view, many white men colonialists equated the colour of their skin with a “superior ontological status” and the power to rule the rest of the world (Jouhki, 2006: 32). Also, Hill (2000) highlights that attractiveness is culturally constructed, influenced by racial aesthetics. Charles White in ‘An account of the regular gradation in man and in different animals and vegetables’ (1795: 168) wrote that the white Europeans are the most distinguished from bring a “brute creation” and hence, considered the most attractive race of them all. In the American community straight, blonde hair is considered to be the ideal look, which is contradictory towards the natural African American features (Clayson and Klassen, 1989: 200). Weitz (2001) says that many women dye their blonde due to the perception that being blonde is more attractive. However, in Formation, Beyonce opposes this, proudly accentuating typical African American features such as afro hair and large nostrils; “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros, I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” Beyonce’s daughter is seen flaunting her natural hair along with a couple other young African American girls. She also conjures images of African American men with the afro hair, holding basketballs. Within this context she challenges the supposed norm of what is considered attractive. 

Despite this, there is a contradictory factor within her music video as she is blonde while all the other women are brunettes, celebrating their black hair. Why is Beyonce blonde despite having chosen African American women with only black hair to star in her Formation music video? According to a research conducted by Advertising Age (2013) Beyonce as a blonde made for a more popular advertisement. Beyonce featured in two advertisements for fashion company Hennes & Mauritz (H&M); in one of it she is blonde and in the other she is a brunette. Although both ads feature the same song and similar dance choreography, the ad where is a blonde scored significantly higher with the targeted audience (ibid). Specifically 16% of consumers mentioned the singer by name in the former ad compared to only 7% of consumers referencing the singer by name in the latter ad (ibid, 2). In her efforts to suppress racism, Beyonce still needs to adhere to her role as an entertainer, prioritising what her fans want from her as it affects her success. In this case, a blonde Beyonce may actually pave a more successful career pathway compared to a brunette Beyonce. Despite the efforts to form an independent standpoint away from Orientalism features, Beyonce failed to do so in every single aspect in her music video. References towards Orientalism are still prevalent. For example, in the lyrics “You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay, I just might be a black Bill gates in the making” refers to a white counterpart, succumbing to white supremacy as a symbol of success. Gramsci (2009: 75) exercises the ‘hegemony’ term as a reference to the way dominant groups in society win the consent of the inferior groups in society. Beyonce’s reference towards a white counterpart (Bill Gates) illustrates the indirect representation of how a dominant group has gained approval from its inferior group. While Storey (2009: 11) on the other hand mentions that hegemony theory presents an opportunity to “locate the struggle between resistance and incorporation as taking place within and across individual popular texts and practices.” A large identification of resistance can be seen within the Formation music video framework however, this particular Bill Gates reference and the blond hair can signify the incorporation side of Storey’s theory, proving white supremacy and hence, Orientalism still exists on some level within the American society.
Mohanty (1989: 31) brings to attention that projects that focus on difference whether it may be of gender, class, race or other cultural context pertain a homologous relationship between one another. Applied within Orientalism, race and gender play a role in hegemonic power; white males being the most superior. Lewis (1996) points out on the off chance that we take the classifications of race, class and gender as neither restricting persecutions nor as analogies for each other, referring to Kaplan’s point of “reciprocally constituting each other through a kind of narrative invocation, a set of associative terms in a chain of meaning” we can truly understand the interplay between these features and comprehend the signification. Furthermore, Yeğenoğlu (1998: 4) explain that within post-structuralism the entity of the word “man” being synonymous towards the human race is socially constructed by hegemonic qualities of European white male within Orientalism. Beyonce takes on a feminist value in her Formation music video with African American women power entitlement and strength which oppose all these predicament featured by Orientalism. The women are seen embracing the splendour of the community (fanning themselves, twirling umbrellas in the parlour) and having strong choreography movements such as their clenched fists in the air. In fact, largely Beyonce’s lyrics consist of the chorus; “Okay ladies, now let’s get in Formation.” Furthermore, the intersection theory suggests that the multiple elements of social stratification including race and gender can mount towards multiple disadvantages for some groups of people (Macionis, 2005: 305). African American women face a “double disadvantage” within society due to being secondary in terms of race and gender (ibid). This theory is typically placed within an economical, job scope context. Despite this disadvantage Beyonce doesn’t fall prey to its drawback; “I might get your song played on the radio station,” and “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making,” connote her power and ability to be at a position of wealth and influence. In fact, her song ends with “Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper” when analysed connotes the defeat against Orientalism. Through her hard work, she shows that it is possible for an African American woman to conquer the supposed hegemony they face and rise above it to hold their own power.

Bennett (1986: 20) asserts that 'the people' alludes neither to everybody nor to a solitary gathering inside society however towards an assortment of social gatherings which, despite the fact that varying from each other in different regards (their class position or the specific issues in which they are most quickly drawn in), are recognized from the economically, politically and culturally different groups and are henceforth possibly fit for coming together – of being sorted out into 'the people versus the power bloc' – if their different battles are associated. Based on this theory, it could be possible that many people within the layers of the African American society could relate to Beyonce’s Formation video as a medium of ‘the people versus the power bloc’ due to their past, coming together, directly making her video a popular text in relation to the Orientalism theory posed by Edward Said.

The struggle for political African American modernity is that it “did wonderfully elevate the slave and prepare him for citizenship with the one exception that it legally denied human rights to the slave (1878).” This struggle prevails within today’s community although with the many efforts on various platforms such as the popular text presented by Beyonce helps to curb this issue. Gaines (1996) theorises that “the violent denial of black political and economic enfranchisement facilitates the Formation of cultural politics.” From the discussion it can be seen that pop icon, Beyonce has the ability to oppose many of the qualities grounded within Edward Said’s Orientalism theory, as seen in her Formation video. It encapsulates the ability of the African American community to have a higher hierarchy position within society within economical ground and having a voice.
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Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Stranger with the Perfect Kiss

I'm a little hesitant on writing this (mainly because in some form it is admitting weakness) but the whole point of writing is sharing and well, I'd really like to share this.

It wasn't until December last year did I realise I cared about someone a great deal in which he didn't reciprocate, at least not on the same level or frequency. All good though, I finally made the conscious decision to move on and actually want to do it. And so I did, I definitely attempted and I was lucky enough to be able to do so.

You see I met this guy, so foreign to me in so many ways, but he was just what I needed. Not to be confused for a rebound, it wasn't a new guy to focus all my energy on but the realisation that I could be with someone else. Because there were times when I questioned that. And yes of course, time heals everything I knew that but I couldn't pave the way for myself.

Now this stranger enjoyed the same music as I do, was sweet and snorted when he laughed. All qualities I do quite enjoy.

It was this stranger that gave me the most perfect kiss I've ever had, I was shocked. Oh the boy made me feel things I never did before. It was sweet and gentle, just what I needed. But most of all, it was comforting. For the first time in a long time, did I feel at ease. It was dark and I was hesitant, he asked me what's on my mind, I said nothing (I lied, I just needed to take my time with the kiss and he let me). It was slow, so slow but in the time it was creeping up to the kiss, it was nerve-racking and heated. God damn, do I love the nostalgia of the moments leading up to the kiss. Our lips touched softly and slowly before finally going full on into it.

And I swear all it was, was a kiss, from him, that pushed me in the direction towards moving on.

My point is you may feel a little lost right now or maybe questioning if you will feel this way with someone else. The truth is I can't give you a definite yes. But I can tell you that maybe if you put yourself out there WITHOUT expectations, you may find your way into solitude.

I'm not saying go around kissing every guy that comes by (no judgement if you do though) or that you need another guy to move on. However, I truly believe if and when you decide to move on, events WILL take place that will help you take that plunge,

I don't speak to this stranger anymore, I mean it'll be interesting if we were to move further on together but highly impossible and probably troublesome. But he served his purpose I guess, I mean I'd sure like to have that kiss again but like I said he already served his purpose.

To that stranger, thank you.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

I Don't Know What I Want, So Help Me Out

Happy 2017 earthlings! We are three days in and it still feels like 2016 to me.

Oh well, last year I didn't have any resolutions because I didn't believe in them but this year I've decided to attempt, not that I have become a believer just yet. However, setting goals isn't gonna harm anyone.

For some reason I was fearful for 2017, and so was my close girlfriend. A little silly to get worked up about the future that we can't possibly comprehend or predict, but sometimes you can't help but feel what you feel.

The end of 2016 was rather difficult for me with recent events of complete foolish behavior, misunderstanding with family along with realising that certain things will just not happen no matter how much you want it. As a person who usually gets what she wants because I put my mind to it, it is puzzling when I don't get it. However, each time I don't get what I want something better suited for me comes along -- whoever is in charge up there knows what's best for you.

Moving on, I want 2017 to be a year where I attempt to fill this void in my heart. The truth is I am happy, I have everything I need, but something is missing but I am not too certain what exactly it is.

Hence, a year of discovery and achievements shall be sought after. But I need your help, especially if you are dear to me. Even if you're not, give me some suggestions, anything at all, that you think will help in the discovery process or just being more happy.

These are some things I have come up with:

1. Paint my room
2. Make healthier choices; focus on feeding my body positively
3. Wear less make up
4. Go back to black hair
5. Serve well as the Editor-in-Chief for InkSight
6. Attempt to be a freelance writer
7. Not to drop my phone too often -- a little too late, as I dropped it at work and cracked the screen

Anyway, please suggest more amazing things for me to do such as I don't know go to Paris and fall in love, okay maybe not too far fetched. But I do want to fall in love, I do.

We shall see.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Mind Fucking Consuming Love

Oh hey friends,

It has been a while.

Isn't she precious?! We were doing a sing along, as always.

To put 2016 in retrospect; my love affair for Fetty Wap, high heels and sugar continues. I've been trying and failing miserably to nip the last one in the butt.

Also, my resolution for the year was to stay celibate, pretty sure I failed over ten times but I don't care, it was worth it ;) Almost every single time that is.

After countless reruns of Sex and the City and other romance infused entertainment, I am pretty sure I am looking for mind consuming love. Understand that I do not mean boyfriend, I mean someone who I can't get enough of.

A boy, yes boy (although what I need is a man), that makes my toes curl, cardiac influxes and makes me smile like a motherfucker. I pretty much am laughing all the time, but there's a special smile that can only be cultivated by that boy, for a moment I thought I found it, I was wrong. Like I mostly am, in this area.

I was told by someone much older to marry a man that loves you more than you love him. But it is just not my style. Anyway enough with he tutti fruity shit, old habits die hard.

But before that in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, "I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't live without each other love," so Santa bring it to me in 2017.

But I've got my platonic relationships on point! My girls, and other people that surround me on a daily basis are god damn bloody fucking amazing. If I find my boy, he will be the cherry on the cake. Until then, I will just have fun with the ones that fall short of the position ;) A lot like touching it, without having to make the purchase!

Monday, 5 December 2016

Even though You're Not My Main, I'ma Call You Mine

The girl has 9,500 words due this month but she she spends the very little time she has watching Sex and the City and now she's apparently writing contexts not revolving Corporate Social Responsibility (my dissertation topic). But she's writing because she has fallen in love, yet again, as she was so afraid to do so after the "Depression of February 2016."

I think the best part about being in love is having that love reciprocated, and I have that. And so, Haezell proceeds to dig her own grave by wondering when it is all going to crash and burn as it always does.

I found someone who appreciates me for who I am, the crazy, clumsy, Fetty Wap loving me that I am. How lucky is it for someone to find someone else to love in the same year? It is all too good to be true for me, finding a place I actually belong. But, I did.

I found someone who sees the good in me and I in them. In a way, I think we needed each other to help facilitate what we lack to see in ourselves.

2016 was the year of great losses and gains. I became an adult. I learnt to appreciate Frank Sinatra.

I loved and lost and loved again.

It is also the year I remain to be daddy's girl. He can't go to sleep until I come home, (yes, I know how in hell do I maintain a social life? Sleepovers, that's how). Sometimes I am in need of an escape from father's confinement. But at the end of the day, he's cool, for the most part. Although he is particularly happy I don't have a boyfriend and teases that I will have to live with him forever.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Thing About Confidence

To the girls that think I'm confident, here's the truth.

I am confident but ironically at the same time I am highly insecure, for many reasons.

Due to a body positivity video that my friend did, many seem to think that my head is well above the waters, I swear there's so much more going underneath.

The truth is, just like you, I have many areas I despise about myself.

I have blemishes on my face which I have been trying to get rid for the longest time.

Every Monday for about three months I got Vitamin C injections. Yes, I faced weekly wraths of a needle that were very expensive by the way; they helped but I screwed it up. My skin condition improved significantly but I ruined it via my own stress handling methods.

Make-up (in particular foundation) has been an integral component in my life for a couple of months. I used to be one of those girls that could just walk out make up free, hair not done. Not anymore. Sometimes even when I am at home I need it to feel better about myself, when I walk past a mirror and I see the scars it takes a toll on me. I'm someone who has dealt with many people with psychological and emotional problems including depression. It is a road I feel our generation is easily subjected to and when I start feeling down, I indulge in it but I don't let it consume me. I think this is so important for girls AND GUYS out there, don't fight away the feeling but at the same time don't get too caught up in it. I know it is difficult to find the balance but it is so important. Depression is a painful path not only for the individual but those around him or her.

To avoid falling into that trap, I find ways to garner some happiness. Make-up is one way. If I feel completely shitty one day, the next day I make sure I look hella fine and I go out and have a good time. Get your mind off whatever's bugging you. Got boyfriend troubles? Go dancing! Financial problems? Run. Whatever works for you.

Also, I've been experimenting with my hair and honest to God I do like the blonde I have on now BUT I only feel pretty when it goes hand-in-hand with eyeliner. I was watching this episode on The Real and Jeannie was talking about how when she was younger she was so insecure that she felt she needed make-up all the time. Well, in my case I know my hair fades me out so I need that contrast of black strokes across my watermark. I am not saying you should depend on make-up, I am just saying everybody has their reasons, everybody has something they are insecure about and I don't know we are just trying to cope.

Now, let me go into the confidence that you see. I have got to a point in my life where I am okay with my body, I honestly am. That doesn't mean I don't get upset about my love handles, of course, I do but I don't hate my body anymore.

And to be completely honest with you, it was a journey that involved a growth within myself as well as positive and loving comments from others. You see you tend to notice what is wrong with you when other people mention it and it stays with you for so long and then you get very insecure about it, comparing yourself to other people, micro-analysing each negative aspect. 

Now and this is very important, the complete opposite holds true too! I only started loving myself when someone else, someone very dear to me started pointing out all my positive attributes. I was shaken up, I've never seen myself in that light before. I tapped into what she saw and the more I did, the more I found out that other people had the same opinion about me. I swear the boys who made fun of me are the boys now trying to get me to go out with them. And to be completely honest, one boy did actually succeed. 

With this new found confidence, I started enjoying a significant amount of favours, discounts, and freebies. It is an enjoyable category to be in, people feed off your energy I guess.

The truth is external parties do make a difference, so if you have a chance to compliment someone, do it because you could be changing their life. Be honest about it though. While having said all this, you will come across fucked up assholes in your life who have no social cues. It is challenging but do not take it to heart, they are dealing with their own insecurity and envious issues. And some think they are being funny. Just fuck 'em.