Glow: Take a Trip Back To The Eighties with The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

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           One month ago, Netflix released its new series Glow, created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensc. The story is a fictional story about the 1980s women’s professional wrestling circuit called “The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” (or GLOW) orginally created by David McLane. Ruth Wilder, an actress looking for a job, is invited for a secret audition with dozens of women. She later discovers that she could be a potential character in a wrestling show directed by tortured artist Sam Sylvia and has to adapt to this new situation. The series also explores her conflicted relationship with her best friend Debbie Eagan, a former soap opera actress, as Ruth had an affair with her husband.

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         Glow has been already praised by critics – and it is clear why. The series is an amazing trip back to the Flashdance era with numerous references that will take you back to the decade of Rocky, but with a touch of feminism this time around. The eighties have recently become a trend in TV shows. The success of Stranger Things, another Netflix series that sparkled last year, shows that there is a sort of fascination even nostalgia for this period. The eighties revival in fashion has idealised this decade which feels both recent and far from us nowadays. More and more, the eighties seem like a new Golden Hollywood era in which our parents grew up during these years. In Glow, you will rediscover those neon clothes, those fitness courses that won’t appear during your Facebook daily scrolling, and that lacquered hair, exaggerated make-up and funny jeans. Less serious than Stranger Things, Glow is a genuine wink to the dynamic eighties while celebrating feminism.

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         While Sam appears as a sexist and mysognistic artist, he truly changes his mind with his new actresses. The girls all have different shapes, sizes and backgrounds. They are not “perfect” and are eager to know more about wrestling. They don’t consider the activity masculine one and do not hesitate to fight in order to improve what they do. The tension between sexism and feminism explores how the women are perceived and how the Gorgeous Ladies want to dismantle these ideas by performing wrestling. Each of them has a story, a unique personality that you won’t even find in your average eighties movie.

         If you haven’t watch Glow yet, just open your Netflix account and enjoy. Compared to Orange is The New Black by many reviews (Jenji Kohan, creator the series is the executive producer), Glow is a less dark version of the show with similarly incredible women.

3…2…1…Let’s GLOW !

 

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[Raise Your Voice] Miles released a new Surviveika song and I feel like it’s Eden

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   Click here to discover Surviveika’s new song!

           Yesterday, Miles Peckover released a new song “Eden” from his musical graphic novel piece named Surviveika. The waiting was worth it as this new song is simply spectacular – both musically and visually. While listening to Miles’s iconic voice, vintage footage appears as if you dived into some Allen Ginsberg’s fantasies. Miles has proven that Surviveika is definitely a hybrid piece that mixes many subjects and types of art. I was truly surprised to imagine the characters in every situation he describes even if I could not see them in the clip – that’s why linking both a graphic novel and a song is an interesting idea.

         While the music is diverse, the lyrics are powerful and tell you a story about two young people who try to survive and to find their own Eden.

 

Well it must have been the dopamine,

The thrill to be alive

But I didn’t feel

The need to say

I knew that we’d survive

 

         The thrill to be alive, the lust for life – these subjects are particularly striking throughout the clip. You can easily imagine two young adults who discover a whole new world, deciding to take the car and to drive far away from what they fear. Miles describes all the steps that we have to cross to become adults – but above all, the characters still seem childlike, enjoying every moment on the rooftop, counting the stars in the sky.

Then night arrived in an evening dress,

With stars around her neck

         However, these two young adults have to face the world and its wars. A genuine high-speed chase is taking place – and the characters have to drive in order to survive. They have to run : “All I know is run, we should.” And escaping is never easy – except if you decide to build everything up again.

We’ve gotta put this war behind us.

And fix another Eden in our sights.

         This clip shows that Miles’s world is full of poetry – and his sense of rhythm and imagery make Surviveika stronger. All I can tell you is that this song is pure Eden – and appears still as a mysterious quest for freedom that you should follow as well.

If you want to know more and to follow Miles’ project :

Twitter

Instagram: @surviveika

 

Why X + Y is one of the best movies about Asperger’s Syndrome that I have ever seen

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             X +Y, also known in the U.S as A Brillant Young Mind, is a 2014 British drama directed by Morgan Matthews, Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins. Inspired by the documentary Beautiful Young Minds and by the life of the mathematical genius Daniel Lightwing, the movie focuses on Nathan Ellis, a young man suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome who enters a mathematics competition at Cambridge University. While his mental illness causes him to struggle emotionally, he strives to understand the world around him.

            Nowadays, it is true that Asperger’s Syndrome is considered an inspiring subject for many writers and directors. Indeed, pop culture is building some stereotypes about this mental illness which affects many people in the world, even if there are still many mysteries surrounding the spectrum. From Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) to Sherlock (BBC’s Sherlock), the typical Aspergers man is perceived as a self-centered genius that cannot communicate with the others. However, is this representation true? Let’s face it. Not only is this portrayal completely romanticized, but it also makes it impossible to dissociate the myth from the reality. I absolutely think it contributes to feeding the audience with preconceived ideas about a mental illness that is unfortunately rather difficult to understand. Even if there are some advantages to cast Aspie (a word which means “someone with Aspergers”) characters, they should not be the heirs of the mad genius’s myth that came accross the nineteenth century. Do you like Sheldon and Sherlock? Fine. Ultimately, if you want to support Aspies, don’t get mad at the young man or woman who wants to find a job and struggles during an interview. Don’t laugh at these people’s reactions, conversations and whatever. You should open your eyes and see that people with Aspergers are not only fictional characters on TV. Asperger’s Syndrome is different for each person – and that is why it is extremely difficult to diagnose.

            However, I have been pleasantly surprised by watching X + Y. This movie tends to challenge the stereotypes concerning people with Aspergers. At the beginning of the movie, Nathan Ellis seems to be a genius: he enjoys mathematics, he has a private professor with advanced courses and he is selected to take a difficult test at Cambridge University. However, Nathan is not the best student in his class. As the professor in Taiwan states, Nathan’s results were rather disappointing. While he is not interested in his peers, particularly not his mother, he falls in love with Zhang Mei, a girl he met during his two-week math camp in Taiwan. If you have seen movies such as Adam, by Max Mayer, you will realize that someone with Aspergers cannot fully integrate into society and, above all, cannot fully immerse themselves in a relationship. That is why I did not like Adam despite Hugh Dancy’s impressive performance. It did not give the autistic character a chance to have a “ happy ending”, while X + Y’s director, Morgan Matthews, gives Nathan Ellis an opportunity to face his illness in order to live a “normal” life.

            In addition to this, I am certain that the other interesting characters that take part in Nathan’s adventures also help to spread another perception of Asperger’s Syndrome. All charactes are somewhat “broken” too. There are no “villains” in X + Y, instead there are human beings trying to fight their personal issues. Martin Humphreys, his private professor and Julie Ellis, his mother, are both particularly touching. Martin appears as a fatherly and comforting figure who supports Nathan in order to make him reach his goals while Julie embodies the unconditional mother’s love. What’s more, Zhang Mei plays a key role in Nathan’s life as she is both his friend and his lover. She awakens him to physical and emotional feelings as demonstrated in the “kiss scene” shows. This large palette of characters has an impact on the way Morgan Matthews draws on some compelling features of Asperger’s Syndrome. However, if you look further, the director extends his thought by pointing out a social question: how can being different affect us? Aren’t we all different? Nathan is not the only character to be deemed as “different”. Martin Humphrey lost control of his own body because of sclerosis. Julie is a lonely widow. Zhang Mei, who has been taught all her life to dedicate herself to work, falls in love for the first time and chooses to give up the competition when her uncle discovers she has feelings for Nathan. Although they certainly do not fit in our society’s ridiculous models, they all find what they have been looking for since the beginning.

            Even the minor characters in the film are “different” from the norms and aim to question their place within society. For example, Luke Shelton, another autistic teenager taking part in the competition, is the hero of a powerful scene when he learns that he is not selected to take the exam in Cambridge. Later, Nathan finds him alone in the bathroom cutting his wrist. Luke explains that being a genius was his only way to exist as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome person and that now, he could only be considered a “weird”person: “It’s alright being weird as long as you’re gifted. But if you’re not gifted, then…That just leaves weird.” Once again, this moving moment constitutes an incredible revelation to all of the Aspies you can find in pop culture: if you aren’t a mysterious, intelligent young man with memorable punchlines, you’re just an “odd” person.

            X + Y celebrates the minds of autistic peoples Nathan himself says : “I find any communication of a non-mathematical nature very difficult. Because I don’t talk much, people think I don’t have anything to say or that I’m stupid. Or, that’s not true. I have lots of things to say.” It is not about creating a fake universe and pretending to put forward people with Aspergers as a charitable gesture. It is about revealing every side of the spectrum – regardless of whether it is “good” or “bad”. That is why Nathan can be as fascinating as well as irritating – particularly when he treats his mother badly. Yet you cannot help but sympathise with him because it is part of how his brain works.

            In reality, the whole movie is about facing our fate and fighting against our fears. Even if Nathan is different from his peers, he does not want to be defined as a man with Aspergers but rather as a human being. That is why I really love the final scene of X + Y. Nathan realizes he neveranted to win the competition in order to fit in the “autistic genius” stereotype. Nathan runs away and expresses his feelings about love to his mother for the first time. He starts to cry when he talks about his dead father and hugs Julie. At the end of the movie, Nathan communicates with his mother by showing different expressions: laughing, crying, smiling and by showing a strong physical connection to her by holding her in his arms. The last scene of the movie exposes Nathan and Zhang Mei together in a train hugging. Where will the train lead them? Where will they go? The “ train ” is often associated with Asperger’s Syndrome as something that most of Aspies are interested in. However, in this case, Nathan is not alone in the train. The shot emphasizes both Nathan and Zhang Mei laughing and being happy.

            I see this movie as a positive interpretation of Asperger’s Syndrome and a tribute to those who feel they are “ odd ”. I would even go further by asserting that X + Y is a progressive movie about Aspergers as it portrays the condition as a social problem rather than a mental illness. That’s why it gives an idea of love and hope that could help considerably people on the spectrum to feel more integrated in society. It could even help them realize that they can love and be loved in return. No matter who you are, you’ll always find your own path. We should all remember this beautiful lesson.

[Raise Your Voice] « Surviveika » : When a pen meets a guitar, when a man meets an artist.

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             I’ve always been passionate about art. When I was little, writing already appealed to me and when I grew older, photography was the natural continuation of my words and stories. I like the fact you can play with different types of art, creating links between them which give birth to a « mutant » piece of art – something quite unique, making you remember how much each human being is different and how much their unique experiences of life can communicate a powerful message about this world.

          I met Miles Peckover in the most ordinary way. I was researching some artists for my university project when I found his blog « Surviveika ». The title attracted me and it is the first thing you will see and remember. On the blog, I found something quite unique. Some photographs of drawings, some notebooks,some pens on a old wood table and a poster with two young characters in a On The Road style. The caption told me that it was set in a post-nuclear America. In this picture, the characters have deep human features. They both seem alive, even though the young woman is asleep. She seems to move while the young man is driving – his eyes are tired, concerned and hypnotized by the road. He doesn’t want to have an accident. Miles’s drawings fed my imagination. What’s going to happen? What are they doing?  Who are they? And why do I seem to know them already ? It feels like I was on the road with him and I was talking to him : « Please, be careful on the road. You’re too tired. Where are we going? Do you think we will survive? »At the same time, Miles plays with each element which surrounds you :« Surviveika » is not only a graphic novel. It is something I would qualify as a« musical novel » as music underpins every adventure of these characters. I was more and more intrigued by the fact that everything still seemed mysterious.

Miles didn’t give a lot of details on the blog. On the contrary, the sense of mystery gives such an incredible consistency to this new concept that it made me even more curious to talk about it with the author. I contacted Miles through Facebook. I introduced myself hoping to know more about his project and his artistic method. Miles answered with enthusiasm and we decided to meet each other on Skype for an interview. It is always quite interesting to meet an author. I’m always curious about how they would look, how they would interact. I remember that Patrick Modiano, for instance, is quite shy for someone who can express so much through his writing. I discovered through the webcam that Miles was a young man around my age. I could read on his face that the years had built in him a deep personality. It was easy to talk with him as he is as passionate about art as I am. His words made sense to me, and above all, I’m pretty sure his ideas cristallized slowly after years of thinking about art. I would say Miles is a « real » artist – you can’t imagine him being someone else than a person who feels the strong and captivating essence of art deep inside of him. It’s a quite different quality from fake intellectuals who enjoy talking for hours about theories they learnt through critics. It’s way more than that. He is an artist who is concerned with how culture can challenge in justice and unite each human being, to show that we should love.

              Because« Love » is the word that he pronounced the most. An artist loves deeply – not only her/his muse, but people in general. And this is what you can already feel about « Surviveika ». In a political context where humanity is split up, where differences are underlined while they should be considered as a gift, Miles is still hopeful to show that art is the key to meet each other. Miles explained in detail how he works and that he wants to dismantle the common stereotype about artists : that they are lazy. For him, artists work in anascetic way. It looks a bit like what James Joyce describes in his Ulysses – artists are inspired by this figure as his quest always leads him to something new which challenges his perspectives. And this is exactly what Miles wants to reach: he questions the way the artist interacts with the world around her/him in both a political and symbolic way. The artist is an observer who uses her/his magical glasses to see a world in 4D. Her/his perception is uniquely over-stimulated by all what she/he feels and sees. Also, there is an auto-reflexive sense of thinking in Miles’s work. What are the limits of art? What is my limit as an artist? The more I was talking to Miles, more I understood that he doesn’t want to confine himself in this way – he just wants to do what « he likes ». He enjoys illustration so why not draw characters and a whole universe ? He enjoys making music so why not create songs to express the experiences of his characters? Miles defies the « rules » and the « norms » our society has produced. His thoughts make me think of Jean Cocteau’s famous line where he explains that artists have no rules. Above all, I was touched by the fact I could interact with Miles not only as an artist, but also as as a young man full of dreams who made me travel through his incredible imagination. After all, imagination is a way to create, but as well a way to share. And this idea of sharing and giving is what I want to remember from this interview. When you create a piece of art, you have a nice conversation with a reader, a public. A « mirror-conversation ». A deep echo that you find in yourself and that show you that you have a lot of things to learn and to enjoy in life. And even if « Surviveika » is inspired by events which cross our generation – and those are not always sweet, it still remains an adventure you would like to take part in. Take a seat, open your eyes and yoursoul. Let the music begin.

To listen to Miles’s music, click here!

If you want to know more and to follow Miles’ project, you can follow him :

Twitter

Instagram: @surviveika