My Individual Project – 50 Shades of Twilight?

To begin my Individual Project, I created a Storify which can be found at this link:

<iframe src=”//storify.com/gemmasmith/50-shades-of-twilight-1/embed?border=false” width=”100%” height=”750″ frameborder=”no” allowtransparency=”true”>[View the story “Fifty Shades of Twilight?” on Storify]

Here are the screen shots from my Storify in order:

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I then made an Infographic to highlight my project idea in a more simpler and visual way:

Untitled Infographic

 

Continuing on from my Storify and Infographic, I decided to ask a sample of people what they thought of the two and the ideologies in which the two sagas portray:

  • Looking at the similarities between Fifty Shades of Grey and Twlight, what is your opinion on why 21st Century writers keep portraying clingy, abusive men leads as a romantic ideal for women?

For my research I really wanted to try to investigate how people feel about the two sagas, taking religious accounts into consideration too. I also wanted to ask a range of people what they thought of the novels and films, and if they didn’t like it then why not? If they loved it, then what was so good about them and what did they learn? So I also thought it’d be interesting to find out if there was a similarity in the responses too, across an international scale. So I decided to ask some friends abroad that I know from my previous travelling adventures. Cara Nicole, who is an English teacher for her profession, is a practicing Christian too from Australia, believes that the level of writing written by E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer was ‘absolutely appalling’ despite any comments that can be made, making the whole literature experience even more disappointing. Cara Nicole continues: “I think they’re both awful. Not even because of what the stories are about for example, about women being submissive and in need of “saving” or “controlling” but the quality of writing. I also believe that there are a lot of references to Mormonism in the story, Twilight.”

Religious perspectives on my research 

It is also interesting to refer to the religious ideals behind Twilight and how this affects the characterisation. The idea of Mormons is a prominent idea in the narrative. The Mormon belief can be identified as the following: “We are all spiritual children of a loving Heavenly Father who sent us to this earth to learn and grow in a mortal state. As Mormons, we are followers of Jesus Christ. We live our lives to serve Him and teach of His eternal plan for each of us.” As a practicing Christian, Cara Nicole believes that the demonstration of Mormons in the film Twilight is evident and clear. Robert Pattinson, a leading character in the Twilight series, believes that if the film were to be dismissed as being infused with Mormonism, the movie would attract less revenue. When analysing the way in which the Twilight film was conceived, Stephenie Meyer claims to have dreamed of the idea about a vampire named Edward, who woos an ordinary girl meaning that the storyline was completely unintentional and made up. There are a few points to highlight that can be said to be superficial:

  • The fact that Bella doesn’t drink alcohol and remains a virgin until marriage – both of these are elements in the narrative that stand out as Mormon edges, although to say that Mormons don’t drink at all would be wrong. Not drinking alcohol is not strictly a Mormon practice or a Christian one either. However, they generally don’t drink that much outside of church so the ideas can be understood to a certain extent.

The Religion News Service made some interesting points about the Mormonism in Twilight:

  • “A crucial Mormon belief is that humans can become divine. In the “Twilight” series, the Cullen family of vampires once was human but now lives without death in a resurrected condition. Meyer describes the Cullens, particularly Edward, as “godlike” and “inhumanly beautiful.”
  • A unique LDS teaching is that marriages are “sealed” for eternity; spouses are referred to as eternal companions. Bella describes her relationship with Edward as “forever.”

Undoubtedly, there is a lot of speculation about the religious references, but what sort of effect is this having on society? The references that have been highlighted to Mormonism have an impact on the way the viewer’s perceived and believe the characters, for sure. For example, it can be questioned as to why authors are constructing novels that have such an ‘out of the ordinary’ portrayal of how a relationship ought to operate – both sexually and on a respect sort of level. In both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey the women are ‘plain Jane’s’ who find the man of their dream – of which both men soon become besotted and completely abusive or forceful with their woman. Millions of people all over the world are viewing and reading these so this says a lot about our times and why the world is reacting in this way, and what is making the authors so plausible.

The fact that books like these are becoming so familiar and popular are certainly encouraging females to read them; especially with them existing practically everywhere in the media, which is making the journey a strong move away the naturalness of a sincere, romantic love-story. A relationship built on trust and danger is subconsciously brainwashing couples to perform similar sexual acts and/or relationship attitudes to one another, and what is even more starkly confusing is how these female authors are becoming so credible for doing so.

I guess it’s true that controversy definitely sells.

Going back to the Mormon references, Stephenie Meyer has been said to admit that one of her favourite books is the Book of Mormon, so the argument sways toward the whole religious aspect being intentional. The Book of Mormon states that the natural man or women is an enemy to God and has to be put off in favour of struggling holiness – thus this point emphasising the deliberate characterisation and storyline that was created in both Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight where both male and female encounter a multitude of challenges before love can be truly pursued.

To further my understanding from a religious perspective I decided to conduct an interview with an Islamic woman who lives on the same road as me in order for me to gather some detailed answers showing the perspective of a Muslim.

I explained to her my project idea and the two films I am discussing throughout, and then I asked her the same question as mentioned earlier – What is your opinion on why 21st Century writers keep portraying clingy, abusive men leads as a romantic ideal for women?

She replied by saying, “I’m a Muslim woman and the only one I’m submissive to is Allah. In Islam, husbands and wives are garments to each other, not one more than the other. In Islamic law, a wife is not even required to do housework or take care of her children, if she so chooses. The only duty required of her is to be lovingly intimate with him and treat him and his property with respect. That is a mutual requirement”.

I then asked: “if there were any societies that she knew of that would go against this particular belief or religious law?” To which she replied saying:

“Yes there are actually some societies where this is very common and this is particularly evident with those who can afford servants, most notably from Saudi Arabia”.

I then said “what about the stories that are so popular among modern society written by some of some of the so-called great writers of the 21st Century?

“As far as why the writers are trying to use this to their advantage, well I don’t know why somebody would do such a thing. It must be purely based on sales and with no actual religious understanding behind it. It shows a clear lack of respect for us women and what sickens me most is that the majority of the modern day women will be the first to go and buy it. ”

It has been suggested that Feminism is an Evil Communist Agenda and has corrupted the wife’s of our modern day. This is why women file for a divorce twice as much as men. In filing for divorce, you are quitting and breaking your marriage vows before God, and saying that your are not as big a sinner as your spouse; but in fact you are, and in filing for divorce you are committing a sin that perpetuates for a lifetime. You just may be the bigger sinner in God’s eyes.

More research into this phenomenon

What did random members of the public have to say about it?

Andrew Mylett, a political philosopher from the UK, believes that the two sagas are a modern interpretation of 20th Century literature – “a clear gender binary” to be exact. To look at Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight more closely, the ideas behind the storyline are based on dominance and a submissive/subordinate. In an indirect way this is shadowing women to be less of an importance to men, giving men more of the control, which is quite similar to a sexist point of view where the man should be the breadwinner and the woman should stay at home, bring up the kids and carry out the womanly duties. The leading character in Fifty Shades, Anastasia, is reluctant at the start of the novel to accept the male’s dominating personality as it went against her ideology of self-determination, but was soon crushed once his charming ways and mannerisms took control, and swept her off her feet.

Andrew Mylett says: “Anastasia is given the right to say no and leave but enters into the relationship willingly and into a contract, a kind of marriage if we care to say, as two parties entering into a contract to be together which may end through the cessation of the contract.”

This perception of any relationship is destructive, which mirrors the original from the fan fiction in Twilight. Similarly, in Fifty Shades, it’s the outside world that is modern and lots of things are accepted – echoing the state of the current 21st Century’s norms and morals – and the relationship shows how they too elect into a kind of power relationship where possessiveness and vulnerability is inevitable. So how does this continue the premise of this sort of storyline actually selling in the bookstores? People continue to buy into it and rush anxiously to the cinemas on the day of the launch to see such a destructive perspective of how a relationship should be. Maybe it’s because power is attractive and it can be assumed that women are drawn toward alpha males because they are strong, making the image more substantial too by providing a dominance that is pursued in the media so openly and normal in today’s world. This is all despite the availability of freedom to women in the modern day, as women are increasingly independent but as they say: the human always craves what it shouldn’t have and what is not right for them.

Andrew Mylett rounds up his message by saying: “Clear binaries are still popular, as a kind of fantasy and escapism. Everybody loves a fantasy.” I think to say the least the two novels are a real question of power as the women character in both can be believed to have the ability to leave the man but they decide not to. So it can be said that both of the books are encapsulated on a clear duel of supremacy and authority, building the thesis of women having little or zero self-control and authority over their own lives on what may be the best for them – but they tend to go with what is more dangerous for them.

Pat Allison, who is from the older generation and has read the books, said that she didn’t really find the books romantic at all, and remained cynical throughout the entire development of love in the stories, to what she saw them built on “a fake perception of what true love should be based upon”. She also says that the two storylines convey discriminating ways on the conduct of a woman – saying that “women should stand up for what is right, and having a controlling man who destruct one’s self worth isn’t the right way to go about things.” So even though so many people are reading and watching these two sagas, many recognise the consequences that the messages conveyed are having on society.

Briony Nicholson, a student from the North of England, noticed that during the entire film of Fifty Shades of Grey, Anastasia had the choice all along to leave Mr Grey but got pulled back from his edgy, sexual desirability. “She was fully aware quite early on, but she continued to play the game herself, never fully dismissing the idea but she accepted it to a certain degree.”

Another practicing Christian, Jamieson Wall, from Canada, was not interested in Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey at all. She noticed the similarities between the two narratives: in that they both highlight the “morally wrong principles that bounce between two individuals who have an attraction for one another”.

It can seem unusual and peculiar to some – how the imagination of an author can run so wild as to make up a story based on sexual fantasies that pushes the human, erotic desires to a whole new level. Trea Boyce, from the University of Westminster, said that she found the whole film Fifty Shades of Grey so bad that she thought it was funny. “I don’t see how the writer thought of it by watching Twilight, I don’t know what inspired her.” I guess some people will never understand, and probably not even the speculators will ever be able to truly conclude what lead to the creation by the two female writers. It is important to say, however, that many women may feel even more intrigued and attracted toward the dominant sex due to the way that society has progressed in comparison to traditional times. Now that women have equal opportunities to men, the saying “one will always want what one cannot have” may apply to this circumstance, encouraging women to be ruthless sexually, act promiscuously and allow a man to take the control in different angles of life. It’s quite an ironic situation that has got a lot of people talking.

Continuing my research on an international perspective, Charlotte-Rose Allbright who lives in Spain watched the films in Spanish and read all of the books. She made a really interesting point: “Although a lot of women are independent and like to think of themselves as being like that in life and work, when it comes down to relationships most women want to be taken care of.”

The circumstances in both of the film can be seen as very unrealistic as looking at when looking at it realistically, most women in the existent world would probably run from a situation that involves falling in love with a vampire, and/or being forced into sexual practices in a ‘Red Room of Pain’.

Lois Caccaval, from the University of Greenwich, described Fifty Shades of Grey as a “domestic abuse wrapped in a romance whirlwind”, and this underlines my initial idea on these narratives being so subconsciously brainwashing. The films and books have proven to be such huge hits and continue to soar with popularity, and the writers have received such credibility for their written works. How creative a writer as acceptable is absolutely individual and dependent on the publisher’s perception of the book, looking at where to take it, where will it sell and is it what the audience wants. And then the media has a clear influence on the amount of attention and press it receives which all comes down and is influenced by the needs of the public.

So what does this mean for us now? Lois closed her opinion by saying: “the film as a fan fiction of Twilight has been hugely romanticised. If Mr Grey was a poor man living in a caravan it would have been an episode of a crime programme (Criminal Minds as an example) rather than a film.” So perhaps the characterisation really did make a difference, and the fact that Mr Grey was shown as a rich, successful man he made the situation more acceptable and romantic, thus more sellable/desirable to the viewers and readers.

To sum it all up

What can I learn from all of this? Well me personally, I have enjoyed every moment watching both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey as I am – as a general consumer – pulled in by the heart-wrenching loves stories, that although may be completely unrealistic and dangerous for my mind, they are very addictive and fantastical. Despite the criticism and the international/religious views on the two sagas, they have definitely worked wonders on a global scale, and the two female writers – E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer – are certainly reaping the awards for it all. So providing the viewers, readers and listeners keep an open-heart but live by what is right for the individual, there is no reason why the messages conveyed by the characters and in the two storylines can’t be dismissed, and similarly those messages which are useful and educational, they should be accepted and enjoyed. Definitely it can be concluded that everyone has their own opinion, but I think the two, Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight, speak for themselves.

 

 

 

 

Advanced Online – Big data and algorithms

Idealistic side of big data – lots of fantastic things can be done when information is aggregated and compiled, lots of new things can be identified. We found out that when students sign up to UCAS to go to university, they sell on student information to food/drink businesses for marketing. This doesn’t really bother me to be honest, but I do think we should know this rather than being told in the lecture room! Companies all over the world track their customers, which brings me to the idea of loyalty cards. Are the supermarket point card schemes just another way for these companies to track what we’re buying so that they can target their marketing even more precisely?

“Absolutely everything can be measured.” In the NYT, David Brooks said the philosophy of the age was data-ism, which links to my ideologies I touch on throughout my blog. Today’s world is certainly focused on the data-age, and many processes rely on data collection, which can generally be done through the tech industry.

So many people put their trust in algorithms to explore an area of their life thus improve it. For example, dating websites – algorithms help the site to find patterns and connections for people with like-minded individuals. Its a very clever process, but it does require the person’s personal information to be available in order to drive the data and produce results.

The company Narrative Science use algorithms and patterns in data to write their stories, which generates a large number of stories that no other journalist could do. Having access to big data definitely fills a gap, but it is a worrying factor for journalists.

The New Aesthetic is an interesting website for people to look at to track data patterns, helping to generate stories.

Living and working with big data and algorithms

Idealistic side of big data – lots of fantastic things can be done when information is aggregated and compiled, lots of new things can be identified. We found out that when students sign up to UCAS to go to university, they sell on student information to food/drink businesses for marketing. This doesn’t really bother me to be honest, but I do think we should know this rather than being told in the lecture room! Companies all over the world track their customers, which brings me to the idea of loyalty cards. Are the supermarket point card schemes just another way for these companies to track what we’re buying so that they can target their marketing even more precisely?

“Absolutely everything can be measured.” In the NYT, David Brooks said the philosophy of the age was data-ism, which links to my ideologies I touch on throughout my blog. Today’s world is certainly focused on the data-age, and many processes rely on data collection, which can generally be done through the tech industry.

Advanced online journalism – Multimedia packages, live blogging and blogging 20.03.15

Today in Advanced Journalism we discussed the different opportunities that we have available: from curating a piece and compiling a multimedia package on Storify to Live Blogging an interesting event, the world is ours and it is individual. 

Some of my idea included: 

– Reaching out to the ex-pat community and finding out what they think about living abroad, is it really all that it is made out to be?

– Live blogging a political event and curating content in from all over the internet. There are lots of different events, especially in London, but I think I feel more passionately about focusing my energy on a particular project where i can really investigate a story, a niche, and portray it in an individual style.

So…My individual project will focus on the transition between the Twilight movies and the new release of 50 Shades of Grey. The question will be based on the following:

Why do women writers keep portraying clingy and obsessive male leads as a romantic ideal for women? 

I want to see how people feel about the film, the general response and curate content from the internet about the different responses too. I will create a survey and include all of my findings/research into my blog after creating it on Storify. It will be a unique package with more than one post demonstrating different angles as well as an overall individual response to: 50 Shades of Twilight.

Musical break in Leeds 

So this weekend I ventured up to Leeds to relax and spend sometime with musicians. I haven’t been to Leeds since I was younger, so the breakaway done me good!

However during my stay I realised just how quick time flies by. Just as I left it felt like I had only just arrived, yet I had achieved so much. Those times when you can be on your own in your own space many of life’s beautiful treasures shine through, and the creativity is immense. Not only did I plan some more of my book but I had time to digest my life to this day, and be thankful for all the people around me that give me the strength to pull through the hard times. 

Along the way we certainly endure many challenges but in a weird way, I wouldn’t change it. Without the hard times I would never of grown to be a better person, learn from the mistakes and understand how to do things differently the next time. 

Being around musical individuals really pushed my creativity to new levels. Not only that but I found my knowledge rocket, as I asked questions about space and reverb for example. The talent of some people actually blows my mind, and it’s quite funny how people tend to not realise their own talent, thus limiting their confidence to reach their full potential. 

I love music. It’s that simple. It has a key to my heart and soul and takes me on a spiritual journey of some sort, depending on the genre of song and memories that come with it. It’s a magical experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Music+words=happiest girl in the world.

Advanced Online Journalism 13.03.15 How to Pitch, Live Blogging workshops

In this weeks workshop we looked at what makes a really good pitch and how do we efficiently prepare. Being quite worried about this sector of the assessment I found this workshop really useful.

I always try to relate what I’m doing in my lectures to real life, as I think that’s what the university experience should be about, and today I realised that presenting and pitching an idea is actually very important to reach out and put your message across. The tech industry is pretty complex, but just by analysing Steve Jobs and how he humorously sparks interest and engagement in his crowd it really did inspire me.

These things need to be considered in my pitch:

  • What problem will my idea solve?
  • Who is it for? The target audience
  • Is it realistic and affordable?
  • Why should my investors help me to solve the problem?

It is exciting to be creative and come up with a unique idea. Who knows, it may actually become a real app one day?

Here are some videos I looked at and found interesting

How to present confidently

Top tips for the nervous presenter

Youtube video on presenting

Video on tips of presenting like Steve Jobs – the PRO

So all in al we need to reassure ourselves and the listeners of our ideas and really open up our minds to possible questions. So what will they ask me and answer it before they have the chance to ask me? That will be one of the biggest challenges I feel I will have to face…

Appreciating the smaller things – our body, mind and soul

When you walk into a hospital and you look around and you see all those in need of help, they feel sick, hurt in more ways that can possibly be imagined, does that make you feel grateful for your health? ‘Our health is our wealth’ – a common phrase that is often looked over and not really digested as knowledge. Without our health how are we ever expected to enjoy our wealth? We’re not. So many of us don’t wake up and be thankful for our health and for another day, when it is something that we should constantly be grateful for. It’s a treasure, a gift that so many people would love to have, so surely we shouldn’t take it for granted?

This leads on to commodities that we dress ourselves up in to make us fit in, but also make us feel good. We can get so stressed and upset if an outfit doesn’t go the way we planned, or if we haven’t got the right jewellery accessories to match, but in-fact none of that is important. All that matters is that we are happy on the inside and with ourselves, which will miraculously shine on the outside and whole world will feel it, see it and you will see those around you bounce off your positivity.

We should value our happiness and our well-being, give it an equal importance to say a business meeting. I cannot list the amount of people I know who complain about their health yet they do nothing about it, they sit back and wait for it to get worse and worse. What makes a business meeting more important than going to see the doctor or seeking help? The answer to that is beyond my knowledge.

So let’s start to get our priorities straight and appreciate the smaller things in life, the things that we may not necessarily think about – our body, our mind and our beautiful souls that we have all been blessed with.