Sunday, 28 December 2014

2014; a year to remember, treasure and learn from

2014 has been a year to remember, to treasure and most importantly, to learn from.

You know when people cheesily exclaim, 'this is going to be my year' and everyone inwardly groans and gives a look of utter disgust, yeah well, I feel like that's been me (I know, sorry). This year has been pretty great, in fact, it's been my best yet.

I've grown - and unfortunately, at 5'3, I don't mean in a physical sense, but I have in that way where you begin to 'find' you. Who you want to be, what you want to do, where you want to find yourself in 3, 5, 10 years time.

Its cheesy and it's slightly 'scoffable'(I'm 97.9% sure this isn't a word but I believe it should be and thats the end of it). I get it, I know it is. 'Finding you' - GOD, give it a rest and pop a few of those pills designed to chill, but I don't care. I LIKE IT. Something I've learnt this year - to not be ashamed of enjoying or embracing or liking something, simply because others may laugh. Whether it be getting too excited about books and politics, to enjoying wine with good friends, to preferring a cup of tea and my bed instead of going out and having cheap vodka spilt down you and attempting to hobble into a taxi at 3am, I've decided. I've decided life is too short to do things you don't want to do if you don't have too. So I don't. Simple.

I also got a job. Not something down the local pub(not that there's anything wrong with that) but I feel, a good job. A great job for a 19 year old student. It's influenced what I want to do with my future, with my career and it's helped me. In writing hugely, in PR significantly, and in realising students really do lead a life of pure laziness, despite what we may deny.

I became more interested and engaged. In politics, current affairs, feminism. In the world, in writing, in media. I developed wider and more informed opinions on important things, not what that girl said to that other girl last week which was so totes ridic.

However, it was by no means perfect. I still worried and ran my mind ragged overthinking every little thing, questioning why I said that then, or what they thought of me when I did this then. I still found myself getting sucked into a world of bitchiness and gossiping. But there was progress and that's all you can hope for. In a world where young women are living in an increasingly pressurised bubble, a little bit of progress in the right direction, with a splash of positivity (and prosecco) and a dose of happiness (and chocolate), is a year lived well.

I mean I'm not and never will be Beyonce, which kind of kills me a little inside but I am slowly (beginning) to accept that...

But I'm becoming increasingly happy and content with myself, who I'm becoming as a person and what I'm achieving.

I'm definitely ok with that.

Cheers 2014, you've been a little diamond.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Passion, excitement and interest - everything BBC Question Time is not

If you were on any form of social media last night, you will know that Russell Brand and Nigel Farage appeared on BBC Question Time, with thousands tuning in to the topical debate show to witness the fireworks that were bound to occur. I was actually in the audience for a Question Time show in October in Middlesbrough, so when Russell Brand wrote on his Facebook page about his thoughts on his time on the show, I couldn't help but think back to how I felt, as the lights dimmed and the politicians scuttled off the studio set.

Question Time appears to many as passionate and fiery, with panellists put to the sword about concerning national problems, however I couldn't have felt any less passionate as I walked out of the doors onto the streets of Middlesbrough, in fact, it was actually quite depressing.

I'm an opinionated person and I'm genuinely interested - and surprisingly to most politicians - actively engaged in politics and current affairs so when I had the phone call confirming I had a place in the audience of an upcoming Question Time, I was so excited. Sniggers and quips were made about how excited I actually was because I thought this was an opportunity to have my questions heard, for politicians to hear genuine concerns the general public have - but clearly, I was being very naive.

The TV show is just that, a show - and a staged one at that. Have no doubt about it, the questions that the audience are told to send in, are picked extremely carefully and are generally, safe. We were told to clap lots, to voice our opinions, to enjoy ourselves, but there is no fun in seeing MPs spout safe political soundbites, to safe, boring questions. My question was something I believe is extremely relevant, and something that I think many young people would like to hear an answer too but, like most of our voices, it was ignored.

'There is huge distrust in the UK's entire political system, especially among students like myself. How do politicians intend to reverse this, and prove that there is intact, something worth voting for?'

Wouldn't it have been interesting to hear politicians talk about this? To tell us what they are going to do to prove that they respect and appreciate a young person's vote? Or was that question not picked because they don't have an answer? Was it not chosen because politicians continue to not care about young people and their voices, and keep on shouting the same mantra of 'young people don't care'?

We do care. I care. But it becomes increasingly hard when there remains nothing to care about.

As a nineteen year old female, no one was interested in my views. Both my friend and I felt like token women, strategically placed in a middle aged, white male dominated room, subtly ignored but hey, we were there right? BBC's job done.

I walked into the room where Question Time was to be filmed with excitement and anticipation, animatedly foreseeing what would be discussed. I walked out of that room disappointed and completely disenchanted from it all. From politics. From caring.

But that's what they want right?

Russell Brand scares politicians. He scares them because he's engaging people, especially the young, in politics. He's talking about real problems and real issues and people are listening to him. Whatever you think of him, that isn't a bad thing.

He sparks passion and that infiltrates into those who are listening to him.

Question Time? That does the opposite.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Why Zoella's ghostwriter debacle is so wrong

I was really hesitant to write this post, just because I didn't want to offend anyone or spread negativity however I tend to write on my blog when I feel really strongly about something - whether it be good or bad so, here goes nothing...

This morning, journalist Katie Glass wrote a really fantastic piece on the fact that Zoella's book is actually ghostwritten and twitter kiiiind of blew up! I don't dislike Zoella, I actually really admire her and believe she's a great role model for young girls, which is why I was so disappointed - although not surprised, unfortunately - that she hasn't written the book she claims to.

Zoella (Zoe Sugg) is the Queen of Youtube, with over 6 million subscribers and an ever increasing 'fandom'. Whether you 'get' it or not, Youtube stars have turned into the people that young girls are screaming and crying over, scrambling to get a view of and even buying tickets to meet. Which is why, it is so SO wrong that Zoella has not stated that she did not write her best selling book, Girl Online.

Penguin told Katie Glass, writing for the Sunday Times, 'To be factually accurate, you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own'. Whether that is surprising to you or not,  Zoe should've stated this already - she has set aspirations for girls to write their own novels(and so they should) but with expectations of her success. The mentality of 'if she can, I can'. Only she hasn't...

Some say, 'it's not like it's the first book to ever have been ghost written' and 'most celebrities have ghost writers too, what's the big deal?' The big deal is, Zoe and her management have never even hinted at the fact that it may not have been written by her, in fact, the absolute opposite! In many of her vlogs she talks about working on her book, on her blog she states, 'I'm sure a lot of you have heard by now that I'm writing a book!' and even in her acknowledgements of the book, there is no mention of a writer. It'a completely misleading and really is just wrong.

It's wrong because there are young girls out there who preordered and bought a book that they thought was written by their idol, their absolute inspiration. Girls out there who hang on to her every word, and believe everything she says, tweets and films. Zoe has a responsibility to her fans, and hell, she owes it to them to just be honest. The ironic thing is that they probably wouldn't care if she'd just mentioned it and no way would it ever have had the back lash it appears to have gotten now.

The sad world that we live in is that money, fame and branding comes before real, genuine talent. Think about all those writers - fantastic talented writers - who's work may never even be considered by a publisher, never mind actually be published. Amazing, young female writers who work so hard and yet may never get noticed. Writing a novel is bloody hard and by lying about who it was written by, it kind of...trivialises the tears and late nights and the work that goes into stories that may perhaps never reach the dizzy heights of success that Girl Online has.

Zoella is a great role model for young people and no one can deny it. She's sweet and sensible, hard working and thoughtful, however this nonsensical idolisation that she can do no wrong has to stop. Because as she frequently points out, she's just a normal girl and you know what? They make mistakes.

This time, Zoella really has.
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