Instagram and Tumblr – I’m glad The Who didn’t t-t-t-talk about our generation.

Taking a break from the usual discussion of film for once, although I do have some work coming down the line that should be up very soon.

If I remember correctly it can only have been a couple of months since I wrote an entry that was a little bit different from my usual jumble of film talk. I wrote an entry that was outlining the reasons why I dislike the social networking site Instagram, and I wish I could say that post had all of the reasons but I was holding back quite a bit. It’s only recently after reading through that particular post again that I realised just how much I dislike social networking sites that rely on photos.

Instagram was just the beginning for me, I’ve already talked of how annoying it is. You get constant updates of small details of someone’s life that honestly you could live without. If you like receiving updates on what someone is drinking, what colour underwear they’re wearing, what page of a book they’re up to, and what their legs look like when they’re in a bath tub then by all means sign up. But if you can take a step back and realise that it’s all just nonsense then I would stay well away. Trust me, having been a part of it for nearly a year you come close to drowning in the sea of hashtags. People will pile hashtags on to a picture if they think it will get them more likes, even if some of the things they tag aren’t even in the picture. You’ll see a picture of someone’s coffee from Costa and it will be swiftly followed by an army of meaningless hashtags; #coffee #costa #drink #liquid #hot #girl #browneyes #blonde #young #breathing #oxygen #blinking #human #skin #drinkingonacoldday #england #earth. It’s just rubbish. We depend so much on how many likes we get on a picture it takes our attention away from things that matter, you know, things that genuinely exist, not just a picture of a love heart with a number next to it. And I know just how ridiculous it is because I used to be part of it. Luckily those days are behind me now.

But the stupidity doesn’t stop there I’m afraid.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “are you on Tumblr?” which I can safely say I am not. Why would I be? I’ve had a glance at tumblr when friends have shown me the site and there was nothing appealing from my point of view. From what I saw it’s a site that has fallen victim to an increasing problem, which is essentially a computer virus consisting of teenage hormones. It’s a technicolour splattering of meaningless statements, pictures and videos that should really be quarantined in a corner of the internet that is difficult to reach. Scrolling down the news feed or whatever it’s called, all you see is pictures of kittens, porn and idiotic quotes that were clearly written by the same overly emotional fifteen year old. And that last one is the main problem for me; the quotations.

I’m all for quotations as most people will know, I think they’re a brilliant source of motivation and inspiration, but they have to mean something. The sort of quotes I like are ones said by truly inspirational figures like Abraham Lincoln or Muhammad Ali. I don’t take inspiration from a fourteen year old from West Berkshire who got dumped after two weeks of awkward hand holding in the playground. The sort of quote I’m talking about are things like “you can separate two lovers by distance but you can never break the bridge that connects their hearts no matter where they are in the world” Now I’m not sure about anyone else but after reading a quote like that I can’t help but feel on edge. Ever stroked a dog’s fur the wrong way? That’s how every inch of my skin feels. Firstly I would just like to point out that their choice of words is very annoying. Lovers?! It’s a social networking site, not a Jane Austin novel! I also think the whole basis of the quote is stupid because it’s suggesting that someone that young has found someone they are genuinely in love with. I hate to be pessimistic but you haven’t, you’ve just managed to find someone you can stand seeing for longer periods of time before moving to University. I know what some people are already thinking by this point; if I don’t want to see this sort of quote then don’t go on the website. The sad thing is I don’t go on the site, the quotes are somehow being leaked on to Facebook. Honestly they are the sort of posts that make me re assess the situation and consider the possibility that updates about Farmville weren’t actually that annoying.

It’s worse when a quote from someone famous circulates the site and leaks out on to Facebook. The amount of times I’ve seen the same Paul McCartney quote “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian” which annoys me to a certain extent. Firstly I don’t think it’s true, mainly because we’re well aware of the horrible affairs that go on in the world but we still consume such products because we choose to. We’re not being force fed meat after being horrified by how it’s prepared, we’re choosing to eat it because it’s become part of our balanced diet. Secondly it relies entirely on the assumption that everyone lives within a certain radius of a slaughterhouse, which is a contextual factor needed for the exercise to work efficiently. Most of all for me however is that I don’t think the quote means as much as people think it does. This is mainly because the situation that the quote suggests sounds rather pointless. If you genuinely need somewhere that is called a “SLAUGHTERhouse” to have glass walls, then you’re not doing the best of jobs at reading. The word “slaughter” is suggestive enough and implies the nature of activities that occur within the building so why bother suggesting that we need visual evidence in order to allay our doubts. Let’s not go wasting money on an exercise that could be eliminated by simply showing people a dictionary definition of certain words. I understand that people interpret the quote differently, but there’s a difference between quotes that mean something and those that are over used until we think they mean more than they do.

The dependence that our generation has on social networking scares me. Likes on a picture of our new socks mean so much to us, and we seek advice from quotations that are about as poetic as instruction for cup o soup. I’m sure that Tumblr has more than that to it, but after going on it  couple of times and being bombarded by so called philosophical quotes and animations of porn it opens a lot of questions as to what has happened to our generation. They call it a blog which is fair enough, but if you’re interests don’t span much further than cats, porn and sentences that have as much use a swimming lessons for fish, then I don’t think a blog is really for you because it requires a certain level of creativity and imagination.

Safe to say I’m sticking to this site, Facebook and Twitter firmly for the foreseeable future. That way I can stay how I am for as long as possible without having to re create myself so that my identity suits the trashy new format of social websites. I shall end this post on a positive note, with a quote from Abraham Lincoln that sums up my views about online identities quite nicely:

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”

Instagram – One Of The Reasons Why People Annoy Me

I thought I would make a change from posting about film and attempt to talk about something different. As a teenager I can see the benefits to social networking, I think in some cases it’s brilliant. It allows me to communicate with people without having to walk to their house just to inquire as to how they’re feeling today. But sometimes I have to admit I get annoyed by it very easily.

It seems that in today’s world there is a very small amount of things people keep away from the public eye. In a way I miss the days when people were only just starting a Facebook profile, because it was the days when people barely posted anything, in fear of being mocked or judged by others. Those days were brilliant, the days where you got the basic facts about how someone was and what they were doing without being bombarded by pointless information. You could scroll through your news feed and see statuses like “I am in Spain at the moment. I am very Happy”. But now we have this strange situation where every thing is splattered across social networks. You’ve got where someone is, how they’re feeling, who they’re with, what colour socks they’re wearing, what drink they’ve got, it’s just getting out of hand. I know people have the freedom to post what they want, and quite rightly so, but sometimes it does seem a little excessive to be posting constantly. 

I’ve got less anger towards Facebook and Twitter because they bring me a lot of fun, through reading arguments or indeed being involved in arguments. However there is one form of social networking that annoys me to the extent of wanting to throw my phone at a wall, and that’s Instagram. I’ll say it now because I don’t want to seem like I’m being a hypocrite; I have an Instagram account and I used it for quite a long time. Nowadays my account is still open and I have the odd flick every now and then, but other than that I do not use it. Anyway, the concept is quite basic and could work nicely, if people didn’t use it for absolutely everything, and I mean everything. If you want to share a picture that your friends can see, then at least make it a picture that is worth sharing. The idea of having a photograph for me, is to capture a memory that you want to keep hold of, like on holiday or at a gig or whatever event you hold close to you, because it captures what you consider to be special and important moment that you will possibly never live again. It seems as though the concept of a picture has changed, now it seems to be something for you to get ‘likes’ on. 

Drawing on the point I made earlier about the first days of Facebook when people barely posted, and how now they post everything, Instagram is the epicenter of this nightmare. You’ve got people posting pictures of everything so that you know every tiny detail about them. ‘This is the page of the Jodi Picoult book I’m reading’ ‘I’m on the 43rd minute of an Adam Sandler film’ ‘my underwear is blue today’.  It’s even gotten to the extent now of people posting pictures of them selves in the bath! When did this start happening? When did somebody decide ‘you know what I actually feel like invading my own privacy’. Do people need to know you’re in the bath? And furthermore do we need pictorial evidence to allay our doubts? There wasn’t masses of people questioning the situation, thinking ‘maybe they’re just sat in a puddle’. It’s gotten out of control really,  I’m dreading the day I see my first snap of someone on the toilet. You may laugh at that but you’ll stop laughing eventually when you realise it will happen.

The worst thing about Instagram for me is that it’s ruining Holidays for people. Instead of going to another country and experiencing another culture, we’ve got people sat on their phones trying to decide which filter to use on the picture they have just taken of their flip flops. It just amazes me how someone can have a different country, a different culture right in front of them, and yet they would rather take a picture of themselves with their tongue out and caption it “got my sunglasses on!”. I would understand it if they were taking pictures of the country they were in and taking in the amazing views, but if you’re just taking the same stupid pictures that you take at home it seems a bit pointless. I can understand using a social network from abroad because it lets your contacts know that you’re still alive or that you’re having a good time, but if you are constantly using one whilst away then it somewhat negates the benefits of going on holiday. It makes sense wanting some pictures of yourself on holiday because they hold quite good memories for you, but there’s a line people cross that becomes excessive. There are some people I just wish I could shout at “you are in a beautiful country that is so much different from the one you live in, put your silly little phone down and appreciate where you are”. 

If you ever get Instagram you will soon find that the bane of your life becomes the hash tag. That thing is everywhere! Literally, for quite a dull picture that doesn’t have a lot of elements you’d be surprised how many ‘hashtags’ people can squeeze in. And that’s where two problems lie for me, the first is that the idea of a hashtag is that people search under that category to find pictures of that nature. So why would you need to hashtag quite a ordinary thing such as ‘#coffee’? As if there are coffee enthusiasts worldwide searching for their update on people’s caffeine intake. It just seems silly to take pictures of something that in all likelihood people have no interest in and it’s something that you come across on a daily basis. Problem number two is that people don’t know when to stop with hashtags, they overload a caption with to the extent of labeling things that are not even in the picture. You’ll see a big paragraph of ‘#girl #young #teen #blond #blueeyes #newnails #curlyhair’ which just leaves you baffled because it’s a picture of their mug of tea on a table. Are we that desperate to get ‘likes’?

Perhaps I’m just old fashioned in my views? Maybe the point of a photograph is not to capture a moment that is rare, maybe it’s now all about capturing things you experience on a daily basis, like putting socks on or brushing your teeth. I hope that’s not the case. I still can’t understand why someone would want to see a picture of something so dull like your feet, or new gloves, or the sandwich you’re having for lunch. If you took a picture and the caption was “got my new socks on” I would consider the possibility that you have quite an empty life. If however you posted a picture and the caption was “got my new socks on… and I’m on the moon” then I would take an interest and feel jealous that I’m not part of this memory. 

As I have said before I have an account, and I will admit I have fallen victim to some of the things I have mentioned (not to such an extreme extent luckily) so I can’t act completely innocent in this grand scheme of shit. I used to post pictures of the most tedious rubbish that sprang to mind “look here’s my cat” “here’s the new film I’m bought” “here’s the Neil Diamond song I’m currently listening to”.  I will say it, it’s only after you’ve looked at it from an outsider’s perspective that you realise just how stupid it all is, and it makes me feel like an idiot because I was part of it for a good seven months. There are people that post pictures of themselves three or four times a day, which to me kind of shows that they must have quite a boring life. 

The situation only gets worse from here though, camera phones are the main way we view things in today’s world. They give people the freedom to post pictures of whatever they want and post them however many times they want, but then on the other side of the coin I have the freedom to express my opinion however many times I like. In the future if any large events happen they’re not going to be viewed normally, they’re going to be viewed through the screen of a smart phone, with a filter on them to make them look slightly darker with a hint of black and white, and a pretty frame. I can’t wait. 

First Guesses For Oscar Nominations – Actor in a Leading Role

After a late night of researching, and after watching an all manner of trailers I can’t help but feel excited for the next half of the year. The concept of certain films sound very interesting so it’ll be good to see how they turn out. But for the ones with trailers it makes things even more exciting, with the last months of the year proving to have some strong films being released. 

Interestingly it’s the films that are released towards the end of the year that are tipped for Oscar nominations, what with the ceremony being held in February of the following year. After watching certain trailers and doing some background research for certain films, I’ve managed to narrow down a list of people I think are going to be nominated for the category of Best Actor In a Leading Role. On the list I have seven actors who I believe could, or indeed should receive a nomination this year, and it’s based on the timing of which their film is released, how their performance looks initially from trailers, and the complexity of their characters. I’m not saying these will be the eventual nominees, they’re just hunches I’ve got. So without further ado I present you with the seven potential Oscar Nominees for Actor In a Leading Role. 

I. Forest Whitaker in ‘The Butler’ – I heard about this film earlier in the year and I have to admit it did sound very interesting but I had doubts as to how they would pull it off. After seeing the trailer for it I am filled with more optimism, it looks as though it is going to be quite an engaging film. The film is the true story about a butler called Cecil Gaines who served under eight presidents in the White House, with Whitaker playing the lead role. In the past I have been impressed by Whitaker’s performances, and I think he is going to handle the complexity of this character very well and could be one of his best roles yet.

II. Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Fifth Estate’ – After seeing the trailer, I am already blown back by how good Cumberbatch’s performance looks for this film. Playing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Cumberbatch not only looks the part but he talks and stands in the exact right way. His accent is damn near perfect so he sounds just like Assange, and the way he stands while talking to people is the spitting image of him too. From footage I have seen of Julian Asange it is almost scary how spot on Cumberbatch’s portrayal of him is. He hasn’t received a nomination from the Academy yet, but I feel as though this could easily be his year. 

III. Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ – In recent years we’ve seen DiCaprio working with Martin Scorcese more and more, but this film looks particularly interesting. Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio) a young stockbroker who went from being rich and successful to eventually falling to greed and moving to a life based on crime and corruption. The film is said to be a black comedy, and from the trailer Leo does appear to be showing quite a complex character. He’s arrogant, loud, eccentric, but also charismatic and professional, creating quite a deep layered character. I thought it would be a bit like Jay Gatsby but it looks as though he’s taken the idea of a wealthy businessman to new heights. He’s been nominated before for various awards so hopefully the Academy will see his talents again this year. 

IV. Tom Hanks in ‘Saving Mr Banks’ – Already a favourite of the Academy and twice a winner under this category, this could very well be another good year for Hanks who is playing Walt Disney. The film is based around the writer of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, going to Hollywood to over see her book being adapted to film by the man himself. It may be a character that is a little less complex than that of roles he has fulfilled before, but I think Hanks will do a very good job of it and it could very well see his name mentioned at the Awards. From the trailer he definitely sounds like Walt Disney and seems to act in the same way most of imagined he would, so it’ll be interesting to see how he develops throughout the film. 

V. Christian Bale in ‘Out Of The Furnace’ – It might be a bit of a long shot, but I think it’s still a possibility. The nature of the film looks as though it could go either one of two ways, one being a really hard hitting emotional film with depth, or the action side could take over too much and it could go the wrong way. But then there is always the possibility of the trailer overstating the action and film not living up to it, much like ‘Rampart’. However I still think that in either scenario Bale could be tipped for an Oscar, he’s already won an award for his supporting role in ‘The Fighter’ which he was very good in, so it could happen again. 

VI. Oscar Isaac in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ – This was always going to be a contender for me because of my love for the Coens. The film tells the story of a country singer trying to make his way around the music scene in the 1960s, Isaac plays the title character and already he looks very promising; delicate yet complex. The film is said to be based on Bob Dylan, however true this may be, I still have faith in the Coen Brothers writing. The characters they have written in the past have been both memorable and charming so it wouldn’t be a surprise for me if they have done the same here. I have a feeling that Issac’s acting may be over looked by the Academy because of other aspects of the film (as has happened to some actors in the past) but hopefully this won’t be the case. There have been some actors who have won awards for Coen Brothers films, such as Frances McDormand for ‘Fargo’ and Javier Bardem for ‘No Country For Old Men’, so fingers crossed there is a nomination heading towards the young actor.

VII. Chiwetel Ejiofor in ’12 Years A Slave’ – A second historical film that could easily sweep up quite a few awards this year but I think if there isn’t at least a nomination for the lead role then I would have to question the Academy’s decision making skills. It’s the true story of a free born black person during pre-civil war America who is abducted and sold into slavery. It looks set to be an emotionally intense film, there are some strong actors involved but none more so than the leading role. Having not seen much of the actor I was impressed from what I saw in the trailer, I am excited to see the overall performance and to see if it is as successful as I hope it will be. 

As I have said these are purely based on the research I’ve done and the timing of the films, these are the choices I think would be the most likely to be nominated. There is no doubting that I have left some out so I may have to revisit the topic later in the year and make some more accurate guesses. I think this year is going to be a very close year for actors, the competition is going to be tight so I’m looking forward to see what has been produced. At this time obviously I have no idea who could actually win it, it’s too soon to call it and it would be stupid of me to make a big judgement based on a trailer and research alone. In the coming weeks I may do some follow up posts based on other awards I feel there could be easy contenders for, so as always watch this space. 

Please feel free to leave any comments you have on the topic, I’d be interested to know how you feel about my choices, and please, I welcome any choices you feel could be on the list too. It would be very odd of me to turn down an opportunity to discuss film, so please leave any thoughts you have on the topic. 

Put the ignorance and the money to one side, with the revolving furniture, and stop being idiots.

Apologies, I know my next post was going to be a continuation of my discussion of films but this is a spur the moment post that has been set off like a fire work.

Now in terms of opinions I’m pretty open. I know I may not seem it at the best of times, but honestly I am open minded about most topics. So why then, did television have to take a moment of optimism from me and exploit it? I have tried to give reality television a chance, believe me I have, it just doesn’t work. It’s like me being in a relationship with a cactus; works well until you find out the other member is a prickly idiot you can’t stand to be around (interpret that how you will, it works both ways). With this optimism at the fore front of my mind I kept The Voice UK on when it appeared during a routine flick through the channels. I was not pleased, entertained or amused in the slightest.

See people have accused me in the past of being grumpy, and have labelled me “the grumpy old man” on the basis that I’m old fashioned in my views and don’t give things a chance. Reality television is one of the things they say I need to give a chance. In this case I did, and it ended with me shouting at the television, being needlessly aggressive and inappropriate before rushing to a computer to start typing. It was one of the most infuriating experiences of my life. Which isn’t easy to say considering I’ve been paragliding with my mother. Trust me, being suspended in the air with my mother talking constantly with death being the only escape was less painful than watching this abomination.

I’ll take you through it.

The judges are all sat there with their backs to the singer, listening eagerly to their voice and wondering whether to press the button and be in with a shot of being their mentor. If they press the button their silly little chair revolves and that’s it they’re in with a shot of helping a potential star, and if none of them do it then it’s a disappointing journey home for the contestant. So if the singer is the most important aspect of the show, and helping them is the priority, why are the judges looking at each others hands constantly? Why does the opinion of the others matter so much when they could be the one to help someone? I know, because they’re in it for themselves.

I watched contestant after contestant turn up on the stage, sounding exactly like so many other people and the judges are all eager to spin their chairs around, but only if the others do too of course. So it angered me massively to see a matured singer with an acoustic guitar doing quite a good cover of Pink Floyd faced with the backs of the judges. Not one of them turned their chair around on the basis that no one else did. Now I’m sorry but if you really wanted to help someone that you think has got immense talent then you would jump on them and hope and pray that none of the others do. Not in this show, oh no. It’s all about getting one up on each other and having the bragging rights in the dressing room back stage.

The result of this incident was that the man went home disappointed all because William Adams, yes I refuse to give a full grown man such a ridiculous stage name, decided that someone else who is like so many other artists in today’s industry is worth a better shot. I’m sorry but people as silly as that shouldn’t be given such responsibility. If they want to mess around with buttons then they should be taken off of the television and given one of those children’s toys that has different buttons that make different animals pop out and make a noise. It was disappointing to see the judges act in such a selfish manner, acting based on what the others are doing instead of keeping morality in check and going with their instinct. It was simply a case of Jessie wouldn’t turn because Tom didn’t, Tom wouldn’t because the Irish man didn’t, and he wouldn’t because William Adams didn’t, who wouldn’t go in the first place because Jessie didn’t. Can these people not think for themselves? They’ve shown that they can think ABOUT themselves well enough.

I think the concept of the show is flawed on a moral because it is basically just any other talent show with the added touch of moving furniture. The impact of this is that the judges are even more competitive to beat the other and benefit themselves. The contestants feelings and ambitions aren’t considered by the judges. If the person does eventually end up happy then that’s just an added bonus to the judges topped up bank balance. Loyal fans of the show would respond to my opinion as they have before with comments such as “the judges don’t care what the others think” which they clearly do because otherwise their eye line would not be directed towards each others hands, and “it adds a real sense of tension that other reality shows don’t provide”. Which is silly really because if you’re looking for tension in a reality television show then you’re really looking in the wrong place. It’s just the same as all other reality talent contests; the judges are looking to make money and this is achieved through exploiting the public who are manipulated in to thinking they have a chance. Did we really need The Voice to come to the UK? We’ve got enough reality television as it is without needing to create more shows.

So the show is still continuing, more contestants come and go with the average talented, cliched ones getting their big break and the niche market, unique acts being sent away. Jessie J is still as annoying as ever, can’t really look at her in the same way after ruining “we will rock you” at the Olympics, Tom Jones is disappointing listeners of old music nationwide, William Adams (again) still looks like a Tim Burton creation who’s been kicked through Top Man, and I’m not entirely sure who the Irish fellow is. Either way the four of them with some Ikea furniture and big buttons is enough to keep me away of television and loose faith in our society a little bit more.

The grumpy old man strikes back I know, but as long as there is awful television being created then I will have something to complain about. Mind you it could have been worse, I could have stopped on ITV to watch Britains Got Talent.