Monday, December 7, 2015

Being Friends With Someone Who is Anxious/Depressed

I'm procrastinating on homework at school at the moment and there's a girl sitting next to me talking to her boyfriend, and she's getting really heated. The girl is extremely angry that her "best friend" is quote: "lazy, flaky, doesn't work, and doesn't go to school". She says the friend claims she's "too depressed" and has "too many anxiety attacks", and she's upset that this friend does not follow through with plans. She doesn't understand why the friend says she's going to put effort into "fixing herself" but never does. She also doesn't understand why her texts and calls go unanswered.

Please note that I'm not a specialist nor a professional in this field, but I feel the need to comment because I have a few friends who are struggling through similar issues, so these are my personal thoughts on the matter.

The thing this girl cannot understand is that her friend struggles with mental health issues. She can't switch her anxiety/depression on and off. She can't get better in the same way neurotypical people can. For some, behavior displayed by people with depression and anxiety is incredibly hard to understand. It's natural to think, why can't this person just buckle up and get over it? Apply for jobs? Take some classes? If everyone else can do it, why can't they? But to those with depression/anxiety these regular tasks may seem like the absolute most challenging things in the world. It's not a sign of laziness, what they're experiencing is more like a mix of fear and helplessness.

Instead of responding to a depressed and anxious person with anger and confusion, the appropriate thing is to be supportive. Especially if this person is your best friend, it's important to acknowledge that, at this moment in time, they need you more than you need them. If it means sending a quick text to make sure they're doing okay or offering to pick them up when you have plans to hang out, then as a friend I think it's important for YOU to buckle up and do these things. The friendship may not seem reciprocal at the moment, but getting your friend out of their downtrodden routine will be super helpful to them, even though it may seem hopeless to you. I feel like it's important to be persistent and to ensure that your friend knows that you're there for them. In some cases, if you give up on the friendship, not only are you losing a friend, but THEY are losing a potential lifeline and perhaps one of the few sources of happiness in their life.

We're taught that relationships require balance and equal effort on behalf of both parties, but I really believe this is one case that this theory doesn't apply to. Unless your own mental health is at-risk by supporting your friend, then I think putting that extra effort into your friendship is worth it. Continue to encourage them to improve themselves, and even though it may seem fruitless at first, the moment you stop insisting is the moment they give up, too. I know you may be dealing with your own set of struggles and issues, but you're mentally strong enough to overcome them. Your friend isn't. Also, and here's the harsh truth in this case: it's not about you and your needs at the moment. It's about them.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Latest Netflix Love: Jane The Virgin

I've been interested in watching Jane The Virgin ever since Gina Rodriguez won an Emmy award in 2014 for Best Actress in a TV comedy. This was the first time a CW network television show had ever won Emmy, so I figured it must be a good one.

The premise of the show is hilarious. Jane (Gina Rodriguez) goes to the gynecologist for a pap smear and is instead artificially inseminated when the doctor gets two patients mixed up. Jane finds out she's pregnant, which is of course impossible given that she's a virgin. Poor Jane has to decide if she wants to give birth to the baby whose father turns out to be someone she had a short fling with five years prior.

The accidental pregnancy sets off a ton of weird plot twists and absurdities that give the show its quirky character. At first, I thought I would be quickly annoyed with how unrealistic the storyline was, but I learned to suspend by disbelief and get to know the characters better instead. Eventually I warmed up to the soap opera/telenovela structure of the show. The characters, as is the case with any great TV show, are incredibly interesting and multi-dimensional.

I actually have three favorite characters: Jane, Rogelio, and Rafael. Jane is a type A workoholic with a huge heart, and she genuinely wants the best for others. The other characters often underestimate her ability to handle difficult situations because she's so sweet and sometimes comes off as naive, but Jane always rises to the occasion and is stern when she has to be. As far as role models go, I imagine Jane is perfect for a younger teen audience.

Rogelio is a telenovela star with a huge ego. His hubris is exaggerated on the show to the highest degree which makes him such a fun character. When things get too serious we can always count on a funny Rogelio scene to lighten the mood. He grapples with balancing his fame and family life, and of course, always puts his family first, making him lovable despite his arrogance.

Finally, what would Jane the Virgin be without Rafael *insert heart eyes emoji here*? Spoiler alert (but not really, because we learn this in the pilot episode), he is the father of Jane's accidentally inseminated child. Rafael has a morally-questionable past, but a recent bout of cancer softened him and made him more compassionate. (Admittedly, the gratuitous cancer story element annoyed me at first but I managed to let it go). Even though he's imperfect, he's infinitely more interesting than Jane's alternative love interest, Michael. So I'm definitely #TeamRafael.

Rafael and Jane

All in all, if you're looking for something lighthearted but interesting to watch, I highly recommend Jane The Virgin. You can find season 1 on Netflix, and season 2 is currently airing :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What I Learned in University

It's the last week of my undergrad! Woooooohoooo! I know I haven't blogged in a while but I figured my future self would be pretty upset if I didn't blog about the completion of my university degree. I thought I would document some of the lessons I picked up along the way.

First, I want to thank my parents who were able to finance my degree. Thanks to my dad who paid for most of my tuition, and thanks to my mom for supporting me in ways she was by no means obliged to. She paid for the majority of my cell phone bill, my train pass, big portions of my vacations, in addition to, of course, providing my housing and food. All I had to pay for is Netflix, new clothes, and socializing. I know I'm privileged to be subsidized by my parents when many my age are struggling and in debt. The lesson here is to acknowledge and be grateful for the help I've received. Thanks, parentals.

Second, I learned to stop denying my intellectual ability. In CEGEP, my strategy for getting good grades was to anticipate what the prof might want and replicate it to the best of my ability. This rarely led to any grade better than a B. In university, I decided I was smart enough to take chances with my assignments. I decided to have faith in my intellect and it paid off. I've been pulling straight As since the second year of my undergrad when I decided change my approach to school. Writing about what you like and what you think is much more rewarding and fun than having to write about boring topics that you don't feel connected to. Profs (good ones at least) recognize when a student takes risks with their writing and they grade accordingly. It's nice.

Speaking of good profs, I learned that not all profs are good. Some are arrogant and condescending. Some are so worried about academic bureaucracy that they forget what their job is. I had one prof that was so hell-bent on not giving As that no matter how hard you worked, how often you consulted the TA and got professional feedback on your work, you were doomed to a B+ at best. It's demoralizing. Bless McGill students who have to go through this on a regular basis.

I learned to reeelaaaxx about the future. Ever since high school it's been clear that I should be focused on one thing only: $$$. At this point, many of my friends are discouraged, anxiety-ridden, and stressed beyond belief about what they're going to do when they graduate. This is no bueno. I decided that I need to chill out a bit so as to not have a head full of greys before I hit 25. We live in a time that glorifies hard work, which is not to say hard work is a bad thing, but it serves to make those who are not constantly working feel incredibly guilty. We're trying so hard to transcend the notion that millennials are lazy and useless, that we're overworked and tired beyond belief. I refuse.

Finally, I learned that I need to celebrate my accomplishments more. Over the course of three years I completed an internship, secured a position that paid more than minimum wage, QUIT said position because I realized it wasn't making me happy, took my time to complete my major without stressing the hell out, and completed a minor along with it. I made Dean's List. My GPA is nearly a 4.0. I'm more socially and politically aware than I've ever been. My friendships are stronger than they've ever been. My bank account isn't in the negatives. I'm a small business owner. Am I on the road to riches? Who knows, but right now I'm good. It's all good and I'm proud of myself.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Lil Business: Etsy Shop

Hi everyone! Lately I've put blogging on the backburner to focus on something new: my Etsy shop! About three months ago I discovered the niche community of planners online. Essentially, there's a whole industry built around planning and planner decorations and stamps and stickers. There's a company called Erin Condren that sells custom planners, and an entire market has opened up for those who want to buy art supplies to beautify the inside of their planners.

I've always enjoyed stuff like scrapbooking so I was immediately interested, and now, months later, I have my own shop where I sell my own stickers!

It's been doing really well, so much so that I decided to quit my part-time job (I'm also a university student) to pursue it more regularly. I was told by someone earlier this year that I should take my passion for design work and put it towards a business. They suggested I do freelance design work. Thing is, I'm not confident I can design anything and everything. I'm self-taught in Adobe software. I'm artistic. But I'm not a professional. With my stickers, I can create things on my terms that meet my standards, so from that perspective it's kind of empowering!

I hope you don't mind that I'll be blogging more frequently about planner-related stuff. I want to pursue this for all its worth and blog along the way so when I'm older I can remember my first real entrepreneurial endeavor!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sigma E25 Blending Brush Review

Recently, Obsessed Canada asked me if I would like to review a Sigma brush, and if so, which I would like to review, and I immediately gravitated to the E25 Sigma Beauty Blending Brush because it reminded me of my favorite eyeshadow brush of all time - the Mac 217. (Do excuse the state of my 217 in the pic below.. It's a well-loved brush as you can see!)

Left: Sigma E25, Right: Mac 217

As I used the E25 I discovered that it's slightly different from the Mac 217 - not worse, not better, just different. The E25 is a lot flatter in shape than the 217, which is more oval all-around. This has its pros and cons. Pro: you can use it to pick up more shadow and place it all over the lid more efficiently. Con: it loses the ability to be as precise as the 217. Also, the E25 is denser than the 217, so you have to work a little harder to soften those edges.

The main reason I would advise picking up a Sigma E25 is the price point - $18, versus $25 at Mac. Sigma is a really reliable makeup brush brand, and they're my second-favorite right next to Mac. Whenever I feel like I need a certain brush but don't want to dent the wallet too much, I turn to Sigma! The brushes are sturdy and well-made. As a piece of advice, I would recommend the white bristled brushes over the black bristles, as the black bristled ones do tend to shed a little bit, but generally Sigma is a great mid-end brand for makeup brushes. Though more expensive than Elf they're higher in quality, but lower in price and comparable in quality to Mac.

Overall the E25 is a really nice addition to my brush collection. After all, you can never have too many eyeshadow brushes!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Latest Netflix Love: Sense8

Let me just start off by saying, Netflix is KILLING IT. They totally took the ineffective, outdated model of traditional television (i.e. making one episode at a time due to unsure network funding, etc etc) and flipped it on its head by shooting full seasons and making all the episodes available at once. They're essentially capitalizing off how much we love to binge watch, and they produce better quality content because of it.

The latest Netflix original series that caught my attention is Sense8. I'm a fan of sci-fi stuff like Orphan Black so I figured this would be right up my alley. It's basically about 8 individuals located around the world who can connect telepathically. They can communicate with one another and experience eachother's realities.

I watched the first episode and thought, meh. It felt like the show had a lot of convincing to do. It was a little overly dramatic and took long to get to the point. But as the episodes progressed, I got more involved. It hit me how crazy the production must be on this show. How can they possibly organize themselves to be able to shoot in worldwide locations every episode: London, Chicago, Mumbai, Reykjavik, Berlin, San Francisco, Seoul, Nairobi, and Mexico City? It's insane. Thinking about the level of production required to accomplish this is mindblowing to me. Like, even if it's not filmed on location (I'm not sure if it is), it's still incredibly complex to achieve the kind of authenticity Sense8 captures from each place.

There was one moment in particular that really convinced me that, yes, this is a fantastic show. (No spoilers here, don't worry.) It was a very simple moment, but so so powerful. All eight of the sensates become connected in their different parts of the world and sing along to "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes. 

It seriously felt like a spiritual experience when I watched it for the first time. I've embedded it below, but trust me, the impact is so much stronger in the actual episode. The scene comes after a really intense and emotionally-charged episode and it feels like a breath of fresh air. Each character experiences the song differently but the essential message is felt by all of them: "I wake in the morning and I step outside, I take a deep breath and I get real high and I scream from the top of my lungs, what's going on!" They're in this crazy experience together and they're not sure what to make of it but they're trying their best. It's amazing.

Another thing I love about the show is the incredible diversity and representation. You have a transgender woman in a mixed-race relationship, a gay man, a totally nonsexualized and strong Korean woman, an African man.. It's incredible. It goes to show how much more compelling storytelling is when you have diverse perspectives. 

Overall, I highly HIGHLY recommend this show for anyone that has a general appreciation for TV, and anyone who loves a good bit of sci-fi. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Gay Representation on CBS’s Big Brother: The Case of Frankie Grande

Since Big Brother 17 is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to post this essay I wrote last year. It's important to keep in mind how minority groups are represented on reality TV, that way we can mitigate our sometimes harsh, visceral reactions to contestants we dislike.

Gay Representation on CBS’s Big Brother:
The Case of Frankie Grande

CBS walks a precarious line with Big Brother. On one hand, the show is the epitome of cheap reality television, chock-full of tacky challenges, where one contestant gets evicted each week and the last houseguest standing wins $500,000. On the other hand, the show can be considered a microcosm of American society. This gives the producers a certain degree of social responsibility. What CBS chooses to air (and not to air) is important because it shapes the worldview of those who watch the show. As Sears and Goddaris argue in “Roar like a Tiger on TV?” reality TV programs reproduce contemporary society, and they “provide the viewing audience members with cues about ways of acting in the real world” (Sears & Goddaris 184).
As I watched the season 16 contestants’ pre-season interviews, I found out that Frankie Grande was cast as the season’s gay male contestant. I was pleased about this casting choice because I was familiar with Frankie’s YouTube videos, in which he comes across as friendly, outgoing, and sociable—a great combination of attributes for a contestant to have. Additionally, Frankie went into the Big Brother house with a relatively large fan base already built-in because he is Ariana Grande’s brother. Right off the bat, Big Brother puritans were annoyed because Frankie’s fame was bound to give him an unfair advantage in the game. As such, he was entering the house with a certain degree of stigma attached to his name. 
At the season’s one-week mark, fans began to turn on Frankie for various reasons. In the following essay, I will attempt to determine why this fan hatred came to be, and at whose fault: Frankie’s or CBS’s? I believe CBS’s penchant for heteronormativity made it difficult for him to operate authentically, and Frankie, by no fault of his own, played right into the negative tropes the show often employs. I will address heteronormativity on reality TV, the damaging effects of gay tropes, and the unrealistically high standard to which gay reality show contestants are held, using Frankie Grande’s experience as the vehicle for exemplifying my arguments.
I should begin this analysis by, first and foremost, situating myself as a white, heterosexual, feminist woman, and I acknowledge my subjectivity as such. I reconcile my difference from Frankie Grande by approaching this topic from an academic queer & gender studies standpoint, and I by no means wish to speak on behalf of the gay community. My goal is to rationalize Grande’s experience on Big Brother by using the experience of others in the LGBTQ+ community as a framework to guide my investigation. I am also invested in the representation of oppressed minorities in media, particularly given the profound potential for audience mimesis and validation (Silberman 449).
Heteronormativity on Big Brother
Season after season, only one gay man is cast on Big Brother. The imbalance of gay-to-straight characters on season 16 was a whopping 1:16, which places a gay man in a house full of heterosexuals. This heteronormative context is drastically different from the setting in which gay males perhaps find themselves outside the Big Brother house. Frankie Grande performs on Broadway, which is a notoriously safe space for individuals who identify as queer (Clum 247). Grande himself expressed how fond he is of the inclusive nature of theatre, given the camaraderie between straight and gay colleagues. He says, “There’s no faux pas with us being lovey-dovey and touching each other in theater” (Schultz). His public image is also very closely tied to his sister Ariana, who recently denounced Catholicism in favor of supporting her gay brother, which paves the way for an inclusive and tolerant milieu for Frankie and his Grandtourage (Ehrlich).
Grande on the set of Rock of Ages

The Big Brother house is very different. I imagine, for a gay contestant, the compulsory heterosexuality of the show can be staggering. Compulsory heterosexuality is defined as “the accumulative effect of the repetition of the narrative of heterosexuality as an ideal coupling” (Ahmed 145). Much of Big Brother’s appeal is the hope that two of the houseguests will couple up, or to borrow one of the show’s many colloquialisms, become a “showmance”. The gay male contestant, of course, has no potential to engage in a showmance since he is the only homosexual man there. In “‘You are not Allowed to Talk About Production”: Narratization on (and off) the Set of CBS’s Big Brother” Ragan Fox reflects on his time in Big Brother 12 as the season’s gay male. He notes the particular moments in which he felt isolated from the other contestants due to his sexuality, particularly at times when houseguests were discussing the possibility for showmances: “Early in the game, I felt left out when my roommates discussed potential romantic pairings among the houseguests” (Fox 193). These casual conversations constituted his “othering” by putting him on the periphery of the pre-established Big Brother rhetoric (Butler 133).
Frankie Grande tried to conform to the heteronormativity of his male peers on Big Brother. He mentioned that his strategy going into the house was to “infiltrate the jock alliance” because he has a “fraternal way of relating to [straight guys]” (Schultz). I believe Grande’s way of interacting with the other men on the show was problematic. He found himself in hot water when mentioning to the guys that they should “double team [Victoria]” and “take all of her virginities in one night”, in reference to raping another houseguest (Goddard). In another instance, Frankie and Cody Calafiore were discussing a rape scene in the movie Showgirls, and Frankie thought the scene is hilarious, while Cody maintained that rape scenes do not belong in movies (Grodner). As such, Grande appealed to the other contestants’ heterosexual masculinity in a way that was degrading and unacceptable, by repeatedly perpetuating the belief that rape is amusing. 

The Gay Villain & the Problem of “Zankie”
Fox also explains that “gay characters are marked by their failure to achieve intimacy” and so the show’s producers, fans, and LGBTQ+ contestants must find “other ways to performatively render gay sexuality” (Fox 193). One of the ways in which gay characters are typified is by enacting various tropes, which are “stereotypical, repetitious representations” of the gay persona (193). The trouble with these tropes is that they preserve “negative and limited portrayals of homosexuals”, which thwarts the efforts of the LGBTQ+ community, since, as I previously argued, what is portrayed on reality TV shapes the worldview of its audiences (193). In the case of Frankie Grande, I would like to particularly focus on the tropes of the villain motif and the gay-by-association heterosexual character.
It is quite often that, in competition-based reality TV shows like Big Brother, the homosexual contestant is characterized as the gay villain. This is unsurprising, given that the gay villain motif has been documented in media many times before, be it in “Disney movies, witches and psychos in canonical films, and perverts and child molesters in the news” (198). Fox suggests that the gay villain trope is born out of the stereotype of the gay contagion (202), which I believe is associated to Judith Butler’s understanding of Simon Watney’s concept of “gay disease”, explicated in his “Policing Desire: AIDS, Pornography, and the Media” (Butler 132). The stereotype of the gay contagion is rooted in the longstanding, homophobic response to AIDS; which is directly related to the notion that gayness can be spread, and even worse, that it is life-threatening (132). So, when a gay male participant on Big Brother aligns with a heterosexual male, the public reaction is both complex and outrageous.
             “Zankie” refers to the homo-hetero relationship between Frankie Grande and Zach Rance, another male houseguest on Big Brother season 16 (O’Keeffe). Zach and Frankie got very close in the competition. Their relationship was quite physical; they hugged and touched and cuddled constantly. This could have been the brink of Big Brother’s first homosexual showmance, however producers were quick to dismantle that possibility. On July 6th, CBS exposed Zankie’s relationship and answered the question fans were wondering: We know Frankie is gay, but is Zach? His answer: “I am not gay, but the bond that Frankie and I have is so genuine and sincere, that I truly feel like he is my boyfriend” (Grodner). This mixed response is exactly what CBS was hoping for: Zach Rance is straight and there is no possibility of Zankie becoming a veritable showmance. On the other hand, CBS must have realized how many Zankie supporters there were, because the second half of Zach’s statement was enough for fans to go wild with excitement. Many “Zankie” fan accounts sprouted on Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube around this time, which further solidified and arguably fetishized Zach & Frankie’s relationship. Essentially, the producers gave fans just enough information for them to be excited about the possibility of Zankie, but sanitized the response by having Zach confirm that he is not homosexual. Later on in the episode Zach says once more, “I’m straight and I only date women, but Frankie is just one of the best people I’ve ever met” (Grodner).

            The problem with Zankie is the following. Zach confirms he is straight, but continues to show affection towards Frankie… So how does this paint Frankie? It brings us back to the gay villain motif, which is perhaps best iterated with Zach’s own words to Frankie, as heard on the live feeds on August 3rd: “You try to turn me gay every single day. I feel like you get closer and closer every time but it ain’t going to happen […] Frankie’s the horniest guy in the world.” (Grodner). The “straight-mistaken-for-gay” trope that Zach enacts is “commonplace” in television, and it “derives much of its humor from the audience’s knowledge that the character is not, in fact, gay” (Fox 202). The problem is that this kind of behavior cites and reproduces the myth that gay men are predators, especially in their relationships with heterosexual men (202). While Fox, on his season of Big Brother, was particularly careful not to come off as a sex-starved gay predator, Frankie embraced this trope by taking Zach’s comment as a compliment to his virility (Grodner). In his autoethnographic essay, Fox reveals that CBS prodded him to talk about hetero-male cast members in a sexual way, which confirms the producers’ desire to perpetuate the trope of the gay villain as sexual predator (Fox 204).

            In an article from The Wire entitled “Breaking Down How Frankie Grande Became the Most Hated ‘Big Brother’ Contestant”, author Kevin O’Keeffe cites the “destruction of Zankie” as one of Frankie’s pitfalls. Later on in the season, Frankie contributed to a plan to have his showmantic partner Zach evicted. This move further entrenched Frankie into the villain motif because it proved to fans that Frankie did not care about Zach for anything beyond companionship, and was willing to cut him whenever he needed to. Breaking ties with allies at strategic points in the competition is generally seen as a strong move (Hayden Moss cutting ties with his showmance Kristen to benefit his alliance in season 12 is the example that comes to mind), but the backlash Frankie received proved that he was being held to a different standard than that of a heterosexual man playing Big Brother.
The fact of the matter is that Frankie Grande was not placed in this competition to win. He was simply there to contribute his gay storyline. This is perhaps why Andy Herren, gay male and winner of season 15 of Big Brother, is one of the most-hated houseguests in the show’s history. He was not there to win, but he did anyway. Alas, the role of the gay male is a typecast on Big Brother. “Type” is defined as “any simple, vivid, memorable, easily-grasped and widely recognized characterization” that has “no complexity of character or multiplicity of traits” (Wojcik 226). Frankie was not expected to excel in this competition; he was not meant to be the lead role, but rather, a supporting role (243). The gay male is therefore subordinate to his heterosexual competitors. Any time he transgressed this boundary by succeeding in the game, Grande was vilified even further. For example, Frankie was chosen to be part of Team America, and every week he had to carry out pranks in order to sabotage his houseguests (Grodner). Every time Frankie completed a prank successfully, he received $5K, and every prank he carried out solidified him as a villain.
Catch-22 for Gay Contestants
            It is my assertion that the gay man is set up for failure when he is cast on Big Brother. Frankie fell victim to the villain motif (among other tropes), but even if he actively resisted this kind of stereotyping, he would not have been able to escape these representations. Fox went into the Big Brother house fully cognizant of the negative ways in which he might be portrayed, and he worked very hard to combat them. Even so, CBS portrayed him as an oversensitive villain, and he found himself “ensnared in a web of gay representation” (Fox 204).
Fox addresses the fact that he was held to an impossibly high standard on the show. When Hayden Moss, his fellow housemate told him: “You are an awesome representative of the gay community”, Ragan appreciated his compliment but also acknowledged the unfairness (204). No one tells heterosexuals that they are “awesome representations of the hetero community”. As such, gay competitors have to “serve as an exemplar of a historically marginalized group and play a game known for cheating and backstabbing” (205). Anyone can see that it is extremely difficult, and perhaps impossible, to operate under such rigid expectations.
Still, Zankie’s hetero-homo relationship is being hyped as progressive in the LGBTQ+ community. In his article entitled “Frankie Grande on Big Brother and the Hetero-Homo ‘Zankie’ Showmance That Had Everyone Talking”, Brandon Schultz claims that “this is one of the first times we’re seeing a serious, strong love between a straight man and a gay man that goes far beyond tolerance—and it's on network television” (Schultz). While I can definitely see how Zankie’s relationship might be considered progressive, I feel like this speaks volumes to the need for a homosexual relationship between two men to be seen carried out on a normative reality TV show like Big Brother. Zankie, as loving as it may have been on the surface, was extremely tumultuous and problematic, particularly because it vilified Frankie as a gay man and conserved the myth of the “gay contagion”. Perhaps after acknowledging how much the public was rooting for Zankie, CBS might see that fans are eager to see relationships alternative to heterosexual ones. In breaking the show’s heteronormativity, a door of possibility would open for Big Brother’s homosexual contestants by allowing them a fighting chance to excel in the game, and it would also ameliorate the way homosexuality is perceived on a macro level. 

Works Cited

Ahmed, Sara. “Queer Feeling.” The Cultural Politics of Emotion. New York: Routledge,
2004: 144-167.

Butler, Judith. “Part iv: Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions” in “Subversive
Bodily Acts.” Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990: 128-141.

Clum, John M. Something for the Boys: Musical Theater and Gay Culture. New York: St.
Martin's, 1999. Print.

Ehrlich, Brenna. "Ariana Grande Reveals Love For Gay Brother Frankie Made Her
Question Catholic Faith." MTV News. Viacom International, 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 02 Dec. 2014. <>.

Fox, Ragan. "“You Are Not Allowed to Talk about Production”: Narratization on (and
Off) the Set of CBS's." Critical Studies in Media Communication 30.3 (2013): 189-208. Web.

Goddard, Emma. "Frankie Grande's Rape Joke on 'Big Brother' Is Insensitive &
Completely Inappropriate." Bustle. Bustle, 31 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <>.

Frankie Grande Discusses "Showgirls" Rape Scene. Prod. Allison Grodner. Perf. Frankie
Grande and Cody Calafiore. YouTube. YouTube, 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <>.

Grande, Frankie. "FrankieJGrande." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Grodner, Allison. "Big Brother Season 16." Big Brother. CBS. Los Angeles, California,
25 June-24 Sept 2014. Television.

Grodner, Allison. "Zach and Frankie Conversation." ItsZankie'sLife. Tumblr, 3 Aug.

O'Keeffe, Kevin. "Breaking Down How Frankie Grande Became the Most Hated 'Big
Brother' Contestant." The Wire. The Atlantic Monthly Group, 2 Sept. 2014. Web. 02 Dec. 2014. <>.

Schultz, Brandon. "Frankie Grande on Big Brother & Hetero-Homo 'Zankie' Showmance
That Had Everyone Talking." Out Magazine. Here Media, 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. <>.

Sears, Camilla A., and Rebecca Godderis. "Roar Like a Tiger on TV?" Feminist Media
Studies 11.2 (2011): 181-95.

Silberman, Marc. "The Politics of Representation: Brecht and the Media." Theatre
Journal 39.4, Distancing Brecht (1987): 448-60. JSTOR. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Wojcik, Pamela Robertson. "Typecasting." Criticism 45.2, Special Film Issue Part Two:
New And/or Neglected Approaches To Understanding Moving Images (2003): 223-49. JSTOR. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Becoming a Survivor Fan (Again)

It's been a long time since I've written a blog post and writing this now even feels a little foreign to me. I've been tied up with work and summer school, but hopefully I'll get back in the swing of things soon!

I wanted to do a post about Survivor because season 31 is currently in production, and the theme is Second Chance. Essentially, Survivor is bringing back past contestants to compete for their "second chance" at the 1 mil. The castaways that were chosen were voted in by Survivor fans.

I remember watching Survivor as early as the fourth grade, when my dad was rooting for Rupert on Pearl Islands and I laughed in his face when he got voted off :). Eventually I stopped watching the show, but a couple years ago I started getting into Big Brother, which, by association, brought me back to Survivor. I started on season 28 because I heard it was great (and it really, really was!) and I've been watching since. Given the new twist for next season (second chances), I wanted to familiarize myself with the players I missed out on so I could hopefully know some of the back stories of next season's players.

I decided to watch season 26 Blood VS. Water first because I was interested in that twist, and both Ciera and Vytas from that season are returning on Second Chance. Apparently, the public consensus on 26 is that it was kind of lame, but personally I really enjoyed it. I loved watching Hayden, whom I was familiar with from Big Brother, because his spat with Tyson over "rustle feathers" and the ensuing tribal council where they had to pick rocks was simply one of the greatest moments in reality TV, in my opinion. Ciera voting out her mom was great. Tyson picking up the win was great. Overall, I thought it was a pretty satisfying season.

Then I decided to watch season 25 Philippines, because working my way backwards, 25 was the next season with a returning contestant on Second Chance: Abi-Maria. While Abi-Maria was kind of frustrating to watch, it's always cool to see a villain in their element. Granted, Abi-Maria's form of "villain" was not strategic, she was just mean. Still, she caused drama which always makes for great TV. I thought 25 was pretty "meh" overall, but it did introduce us to Malcolm Freberg who is now one of my all-time favorites. It's always nice to have a cute, unproblematic white boy on reality TV.

As for the season 25 winner, do I think Denise deserved it? Sure, but I think Lisa deserved it more. The only thing that cost Lisa was her constant squabbles of "good vs. evil" and "finding herself" on Survivor that distracted the jury from her gameplay, which was actually so on-point. Lisa was a constant swing vote which put her in a great position, she discovered Malcolm's idol and made a play out of it by saving her closest ally Michael Skupin, she eventually blindsided Malcolm, and basically, she wasn't at all the sheep that everyone made her out to be. The second best choice was Denise, sure, but I'm sour on Denise because of the insensitive way she berated Abi-Maria at that one tribal council. You'd think a therapist would know better.

My third season to catch up on was 18, Tocantins. I really enjoyed seeing JT, Stephen and Taj as a power trio, and I think JT definitely deserved the win in the end. Yes, he did get a lot of strategic help from Stephen, but he absolutely crushed the final tribal council whereas Stephen pretty much choked. Stephen is going to be on Second Chance and I think he has a fairly good shot at going far if he can get his ducks in a row early on. Tocantins was also the first season we met Coach and Tyson. Coach was absolutely awful, and yeah, so was Tyson, but at least Tyson was strategic.

I then decided to watch what is widely considered the best season of Survivor ever: Heroes VS. Villains. What an awesome season. It was my first time seeing Boston Rob since I used to be a fan back in elementary school. It was my first time ever seeing Russell and Parvati play. Overall, it was super satisfying. Parvati was my favourite player of the season by a long shot. I love how she used Russell to her advantage, and her double immunity idol move was epic. I feel like women often get the short end of the stick in this game, but Parvati is just such a force. I have to say, I even enjoyed watching Russell play. For him not to get one jury vote was kind of sad to me. As for the winner, I thought Sandra was a poor choice. Yes, Survivor is about social game, but in my opinion the jury should reward big, risky moves, and Parvati should've won. Don't get me wrong, I like Sandra, but her game was much safer. I guess that's what happens when we're left with a jury full of big egos.

It's kind of embarrassing how many seasons I've burned through already, but I recently finished Cook Islands too, and I totally loved it. At first I was weary of having the tribes split up by ethnicity (Asian, White, Black, Latino) and I thought it was just going to dredge up racist remarks and cultural insensitivity, but it was actually so nice to see more diverse representation on this show that usually comprises of mostly white people. The final four consisted of two Asians, a black woman, and a Mexican man, which is a great win for cultural representation in media. Saying goodbye to all the butthurt white men along the way (namely Jonathan and Adam) was super satisfying. I thought Yul was a great winner, and Ozzy a great runner-up. And of course, I loved watching my fav gal Parvati on another season.

Right now I'm watching Survivor China to see how Peih-Gee fares, since she's going to be on Second Chance. So far, so good!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Big Brother Canada 3: Thoughts so Far

(OMGGG I wrote this a week ago but forgot to hit post... Please excuse my stupidityyyy!)

We're more than halfway through the season and I haven't written a blog post about BBCAN3. I think it's because the season has been so up-and-down in terms of which side of the house gets power, and there are so many game-changing twists that make it really hard to keep track and form a solid opinion about what's going on. It's way different than season 2 where about mid-way, the "evil" side of the house lost power and basically fizzled out from there. This time it's a bit more of a ping pong match.

Last night was a TRIPLE EVICTION, which is absolutely nuts. In the end, I really enjoyed the concept because it proved where everyone's head is at, and it forced them to start playing more strategically. (Spoiler alerts ahead)

Brittnee won HoH (yay!) and nominated Zach, Kevin and Pili. I really think she should've nominated Bruno. I know her goal was to split up the couples, but Bruno, individually, is a much bigger threat than a couple at this point. He's so sneaky, he manages to get in everyone's ear, and he has a way better understanding of the game's mechanics than, say, Zach or Pili or Ashleigh. Bruno is playing a game almost identical to Derrick's, just slightly worse, and it's really frustrating to watch because everyone falls for him. To see Bruno win would be a huge bummer.

So then, as it goes, Bruno wins POV. It was a Big Brother gift for Brittnee to win HoH, so naturally Bruno had to win POV to balance out the good. I guess with this season you can't have too much of a good thing. But it wasn't all bad - Bruno's goal is also to eliminate the couples (as he made clear for the past couple weeks), so it didn't make sense for him to use the POV. The vote would be simple. Everyone would save Pili and the biggest physical and social threats, Zach and Kevin, would be evicted. Except Bruno DID decide to use the POV.... On Zach?! On his number one target? WHY!!!

These are the things that annoy me about this game now. Everything is so fast-paced that you don't have a chance to see if/when allegiances shift. Everyone's a flip-flopper. I miss the Big Brother seasons where it was simpler and clearcut as to who was working with who, and who everyone's enemies were. Remember when Janelle literally could not care less about the majority, stuck to her guns, and worked closely with Kaysar knowing full well he was public enemy #1? Those were the BB days!

Alright so Bruno uses the POV on Zach, and Brittnee decides to nominate Willow in his place. Another head-scratcher. Why Willow? We discovered prior to the nominations that Brittnee didn't trust Willow. Fine, but Sarah trusted Willow and Willow trusted Sarah, so presumably Brittnee could use Willow to her advantage and they could work together to eliminate the rest of the house, right? Wrong, I guess. Nominating Willow wasn't a BAD idea, it just wasn't the BEST idea. She should've nominated Ashleigh to further diminish the numbers on the other side of the house.

Then, as if the episode needed one last confusing move, Sarah chose to save Pili instead of Willow, one of her closest allies. I think this was a case of over-analyzing the game to be honest. She figured Zach and Bruno would save Kevin (since they presumably had a bro thing going on) and that God and Ash would save Pili, so she saved Pili to ensure a girl would stay over Kevin. Little did she know that Zach and Bruno saved Willow instead of Kevin, and had she just voted the way she wanted to, Willow would still be there. Even if it came out to a tie, at least Brittnee would have to break it and she would be somewhat in the clear for Willow leaving.

In the end I would consider this triple eviction a half-win. Kevin leaving is just... incredible. So good. But Willow leaving is a little underwhelming. Overall, the season isn't shaping up to be so bad. It's no BBCAN2 but it's certainly better than the past couple seasons of BBUS. Some things are going well, like the fact that Brittnee, a plus-sized WOC, is doing really well in a game that typically favours white men. At this point, I would be pleased to see some combination of Brittnee, Sarah, or God in F2. That would be ideal.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ultimate FRIENDS Questionnaire

I just finished watching all ten seasons of Friends on Netflix and, let me tell you, I am emosh. It took me a few months to get through but it was worth it. I don't think there is any show on TV currently where the characters warrant that kind of emotional viewer attachment. Seriously, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my 6 bffs! It's ten seasons long but I guess that's what makes it special: you don't feel like the plotline is rushed and you get to know each and every character. I found this "challenge" on Pinterest and thought I would roll them all into one post. OH and, spoiler alert. I ruin the whole show.

Favourite season. I'm really not sure what my favorite season is considering I watched them straight through on Netflix. 

Overall favourite character. My overall favourite character is Rachel Green. She, by far, showed the most character development. She went from being annoying and jobless to having baby Emma and getting a high-profile job at Louis Vuitton. I literally felt proud of her by the end! I felt proud for a fictional character!

Chandler, Joey, or Ross? It has to be Joey. 

Rachel, Phoebe, or Monica? Rachel, for the aforementioned reasons.

Overall favourite couple. Honestly, Richard and Monica. Even though I feel like it's blasphemous to say anything other than Chandler and Monica or Rachel and Ross, Richard and Monica were just top notch.

Favourite Monica boyfriend. Richard!!!! Bless Chandler but I was seriously hoping she would end up with Richard.

Least favourite Monica boyfriend. Pete. He was a freakin' weirdo and they were not cute together.

Favourite Rachel boyfriend. My mind says Rachel and Ross but my heart says Rachel and Joey... (Tag is a close third because he was definitely the cutest).

Least favourite Rachel boyfriend. Sadly Rachel dated a lot of duds but my least favs have to be Joshua (JoshWAHHH) - I also didn't like him on The OC, there's just something off about him. Also, duh, Barry.

Favourite Phoebe boyfriend. Look, I know it's controversial not to say Mike, but come on: David! He was so cute and I was waiting forever for him to come back from Minsk so they could be together. Dumb Mike got in the way :(

Least favourite Phoebe boyfriend. The one that shot a bird... What was his name? Gary? He was so gross.

Favourite Ross girlfriend. I mean, I have to say Rachel because she's my favourite overall character, but aside from Rachel I would say Julie. She was really decent and they were super compatible. Also Mona, but Ross completely ruined that.

Least favourite Ross girlfriend. Charlie. Gosh, I hated how she ping-ponged between Joey and Ross, and then ended up ditching Ross for that Nobel prize loser. Elizabeth and Emily are up there too.

Favourite female secondary character. Three words: "Oh. My. GODDDD." Janice, of course. Every time she appeared was my new favourite moment of the show to be honest.

Favourite male secondary character. Gunther! He provided the lifeblood of the show: Central Perk!

Least favourite female secondary character. Definitely Rachel's sister Amy. Bleh, she was horrible. In fact, anyone from Rachel's family was pretty bad.

Least favourite male secondary character. I think I'm gonna go with Phoebe's half brother. I mean, he was soo ill-equipped to be having a child, let alone three! Ah he was just so cringey.

Favourite Rachel hair. When she first started to wear it long and straight. 

Least favourite guest star. I wasn't crazy about Brad Pitt's guest star role if I'm being 100% honest. It was kinda lame haha.

Favourite Phoebe song. Aside from Smelly Cat which is just iconic, I would say the one where she wished them all happy holidays. "Monica, Monica, have a happy Hannukah.."

Favourite wedding. Mike and Phoebe! It was so nice that they had it right outside Central Perk :)

Who are you most like? I guess I would say I'm most like Monica in terms of competitiveness and appreciation for food... But I don't have her anal retentiveness, that's for sure.

When did you start watching? I had seen episodes here and there on TV, but I started watching all the seasons in full last Christmas break.

Most touching episode. The one where Monica found out she couldn't have babies. I may have sobbed.

Funniest episode. What's coming to mind is the episode that Chandler goes to Yemen to escape Janice. "15 Yemen Road, Yemen" Hilarious!!

Favourite moment. I don't know if I could pick one moment only, but I loveddd when Phoebe challenged Ross about evolution and nearly crushed his soul. So good.

On a break or not? Yes, I think they were on a break. But it's both of their faults that the parameters of the break were not clearly defined! Obviously they had different expectations!

Favourite actress/actor. Jennifer Aniston!

Did you like the way it ended? Yes, I do like the way it ended. I don't think they could have ended it any better. The only thing is I think Rachel should've gone to Paris and if Ross was really into her, he should've gone too.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

MAC Modern Twist Lash Chlorafill Lime Mascara

Recently I thought I would treat myself to some new makeup so I hit up the MAC counter. My intention was to try out the Studio Fix liquid foundation, but the MAC lady decided it would be good for me to try on an entire makeup look...

You know, MAC is sometimes too overwhelming for me. All I wanted was to be color-matched for foundation and the lady insisted on doing my whole makeup. It's fine, I like having my makeup done and I wasn't going to object, but sometimes too much is too much. I felt quite pressured to spend lots of money on products I didn't need, and her disappointment in me saying I only wanted the foundation confirmed it. I get it, the goal is to sell products, but overwhelming the customer in the process is probably not a good idea.

Anyway, she insisted on trying out this god-awful lime green mascara on me, so I'm here today to implore you not to buy it.

Just look at this crusty Shrek mascara. Why MAC decided this would be a fun color for a mascara is beyond me. It looks like mold grew on my eyelashes.

The idea is that you put on black mascara as a base for the lashes and then coat them with the green, but it turns out it just becomes a clumpy mess. The only plus side is that the brush is quite interesting and it was nice before she added the snot, so I would actually consider buying this mascara in black. Or heck even in purple or navy! But the lime? Definitely not. And DEFINITELY not for $24... Are these people crazy?

And in case you're wondering what came about from the foundation, well she sold me a shade that was way too orange for my skintone. Either that or it oxidized weird after wearing it for a while. You can probably tell I'm a little less than thrilled with my experience at the MAC counter.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Clips From February 2015

Since I'm too shy to vlog properly, I thought it would be fun to make short videos every month, containing a one second-long clip from every single day. I thought this would be a fun exercise because it's super easy to keep up with, and editing took me no longer than about 20 minutes.

February, overall, was pretty dull. It snowed like crazy and midterms got the best of me towards the end of the month. On a positive note, however, I celebrated my 22nd birthday with my family on February 25th, and I bought myself a few gifts!

I'm super excited to be starting March, because that means it's one month closer to spring :)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Target Canada Liquidation: Thoughts and Haul

The sad time has come. Target Canada is closing its doors. Unfortunately the American chain didn't do so well here, likely because the public's expectations were quite high. I don't think Target execs realized the fact that Canadians shop in the States so frequently, and are aware of how great Target is there, because when it arrived here we were welcomed with barren shelves and pitiful lack of variety. They failed to recognize how much we know and love American Target. They didn't prepare themselves well enough to have new and exciting products shipped over. They opened too many stores too quickly. They jumped right in when they should've had a test run first.

That said, I reasonably enjoyed Target Canada. Yes, it was poorly stocked half the time, but I did find certain items that I thought were worth buying. They had a great little home decor section, and stocked Elf and Sonia Kashuk in their makeup aisle. I found my use for Target, but apparently the same can't be said for the rest of the Canadian population. It's a real shame that they couldn't get it together, but after they announced their closing I knew that meant they would begin putting everything on sale, which I was definitely excited for.

A couple days ago Target advertised a massive liquidation: everything in the store was marked down to 10-30% off... Wait, 30% off? That's considered massive liquidation? I suppose they're going to gradually mark the prices lower as the store reaches its end, but it's still sad that they couldn't even get people excited for their final hurrah in Canada.

That said, I ended up buying some goodies because I figured I better take advantage while Target is still around. Here's what I bought.

Of course I hit up the makeup section and was pleased to find out that the cosmetics were 30% off (the better end of the sale spectrum), so I took the opportunity to buy three old favourites: the L'Oreal Magic Perfecting Base, Essie Good To Go top coat (from $8.99 to $6.29), and Maybelline Stiletto Liner. I also got the Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara and the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer which are new products for me.

Then in the home decor section (20% off) I found these interesting "sea urchin" wall decorations (from $19.99 to $15.99) that I thought would look cool in my room. Also from the home decor section (not pictured) I picked up a plain wooden 5x7 picture frame (from $5.99 to $4.79).

Finally I got this set of three shelves (from $24.99 to $19.99).

I think the sale was worth it for home decor and makeup because home decor is already quite inexpensive at Target normally, so at 20% it's even more worth it, and 30% off makeup can make a sizeable different so I took advantage. I'll probably end up going back in maybe a week to see if the sales got any better. But for now... RIP Target!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Latest Netflix Love: Friends

This is probably the latest I’ve ever hopped onto a bandwagon. To be fair, the show first started airing when I was exactly 1 year old and stopped airing when I was 10, so I definitely wasn’t Friends’ target demographic. Luckily, Netflix recently picked up all 10 seasons of Friends, so I can finally know what all the fuss is about. (SPOILERS to come)

At first I thought the show was kinda boring (eep!), but after three or four episodes I quickly became invested in all the characters. Exciting things started to happen, like Ross finding out his ex-wife was having his baby, or Phoebe searching for her last remaining family members. All these quirky but touching storylines make the show really endearing. And on top of all that, it’s funny. I’m four seasons in and I’m still not bored of the humor. I’ve read that it starts going downhill after season 5 but I’m still optimistic.

Since I’ve become so invested in this show and it’s basically all I’ve been watching lately, I thought it would be fun to give my opinion on each character.


Ross is soooo lame. Like, if you think of an annoying, know-it-all, lame individual, Ross is it. I think he’s self-absorbed and his views of women are practically feudal (breaking up with Rachel because she invested time in her dream job? Please), but what I like is that he’s punished for being such a crap person. He has the worst luck, bad things are constantly happening to him, and his “I take thee Rachel” blunder is perhaps the best manifestation of television karma of all-time. So even though he annoys the hell out of me, the schadenfreude is high when I’m watching a Ross scene on Friends.


Oh, I love Monica! She constantly teeters between being the most level-headed Friend, and also the most insane. I loved her relationship with Richard (they were so perfect!) but I’m excited to see what’s to come with Chandler because I think she’s one of the only Friends who can match Chandler’s dry sense of humor. Sometimes I feel like she doesn’t get enough screen time and that her storylines are a little half-baked, which is sad.


Four seasons into the show and I still can’t decide if I like Chandler. I mean, there’s no doubt that he’s pathetic and has some issues, so I get why he acts the way he does, but sometimes I wanna shake him and be like, “snap out of it!” That said, I think the best thing to come out of Chandler’s storyline is Janice. I love their interaction. The episode where he had to fly to Yemen to get rid of her killed me. And, yes, I'll admit. Chandler is the main source of humor.


I would say Phoebe has one of the most interesting personalities and storylines on the show, but she doesn’t get nearly enough attention. I hope we get to see her being Auntie Phoebe to her brother’s kids because I think that would be really nice. I also love when we get glimpses of Phoebe’s worldview (like how she doesn’t believe in evolution or gravity) because she expresses herself hilariously and she’s somehow always able to justify herself. Great character.


Joey is a pretty one-dimensional character, but no matter how crazy things get with the Friends, you can always count on Joey being quintessentially Joey. He’s always getting up to something stupid and hilarious. I can’t say I’m a fan of the way he treats women either (dumb feminism always getting in the way of me enjoying 90s sitcoms, lol), but I can’t really deny my soft spot for Joey.


And finally, the best of the best, Rachel. Seriously, the show would be nothing without Rachel. She seems to be the only one who has shown significant growth as a character so far. Her giving Ross a chance, going from broke to getting her dream job at Bloomingdales, and being the most open-minded about relationships and friendships makes her the undeniable best. And just the simple fact that she was strong-willed enough to know she didn’t want to marry Barry and go against all expectations of her?! Queeeen.

I guess the last thing I wanna say is that even though I'm not keen on every character personally, when they're all together it's just the best. I don't think I've ever watched a show where all the actors click so well. You can really tell they were all friends in real life. You should definitely give Friends a watch if you have some time to spare. It's worth it!