Category Archives: Features

Who’s Your Daddy?

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WORDS M.K Smith & Regina Featherstone

There is a growth of sugar babies among university students. They provide companionship to sugar daddies or mamas in exchange of tuition fees and/or living expenses. M.K and Regina expose the secret life of these students. As much as the Grapeshot editors are excited at the prospect of a new income stream, we have not forgotten our morality and integrity. 

While we all praise the gloriousness of mi-goreng (which we gave out a lot of during O-Week) and the wondrous day that is ‘Tight-Ass Tuesday’, apparently some students feel more desperate for cash than others. Let’s face it – paying for rent, food, drinks, textbooks, phone bills, transports, gym memberships and costumes for theme-nights at Ubar all adds up. Concerning, isn’t it? Recently mamamia.com.au featured the growing trend of online sugar daddy and sugar baby relationships with an alarmingly growing number of university students participating. It seems immoral for a dating site to provide superficial ‘relationships’ where young adults are paid for sex. However, for some it may actually be a legitimate way to pay their bills – all whilst being wined, dined and sixty-nined (We hope our editors skim over that last bit). You may opt out the sex if you wish, as long as you both agree on each other’s expectations.

The average sugar daddy’s profile tells of his love to travel, exercise, read and converse, all whilst making $5 million a year. He is looking for someone to spend ‘quality’ time with. We’d like to say that the typical sugar daddy is an unlucky-in-love, wealthy silver fox akin to Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, but after our intensive investigation, we found this is simply not true. Sadly, he does not have the hair of Mr Gere, and we’re not too certain on how much he exercises. Often he lists himself as married. He expects his baby to be funny, beautiful, smart and above all else, sexy. When we searched for sugar daddies in Epping and surrounding areas, we received an astounding 1,000 profiles. That’s a lot of rich businessmen searching for a sugar baby, seemingly not too concerned about exposing their private lives. There are also sugar mamas on the site but in far less numbers. Both sugar parents are willing to spend up to $5,000 a month on their babies, which they state clearly at the top of their profiles.

A sugar baby is a young person (predominantly female) financially supported by a sugar daddy or mama in exchange for companionship and ‘intimacy’. You can create a profile by inserting a quick and flirtatious ‘about me’, your nicest selfie and your cash-flow expectation. It must be said that there is no legitimate qualification needed to be a sugar baby. If you are equipped with symmetrical facial features, an amiable personality and prefer to be ‘strapped’ than strapped-for-cash, then perhaps you are sugar baby material. Statistics show that there are over 1,400 Australian university students registered as sugar babies, 42 of whom attend Macquarie University. Look around you Macquarie students, sugar babies walk among us.

Before we all get too bogged down with words like ‘prostitute’, the site assures us that it is a “mutually beneficial agreement” between two consenting adults. The site’s spokesperson argued that the ‘relationship’ distinguishes a sugar baby, who seeks a certain type of relationship, from a prostitute, who conducts a transaction with a customer. We’re not sure if we agree with that. After all prostitution is still a limited relationship where payment for sex is involved. The sugar babies do not get paid until they fulfill their part of the deal regardless of their stimulating conversation.

Comments on Mamamia.com.au show that a lot of people feel uncomfortable with this scenario, they’ve deem it immoral and therefore not ‘hard work’. Many argue that, with the array of honest work, perhaps young men and women become sugar babies for narcissistic and self-indulgent reasons. With prostitution already prevalent in society it is difficult to determine if this arrangement is further decaying societal values due to its premeditated, selected and almost contracted characteristics.

These relationships are mutually agreed upon from the beginning. These young men and women are not Anna-Nicole Smith-league gold diggers; they’re students who want to live a lifestyle that is seemingly unattainable with their current situation. They’re living through the impoverished student phase of their life, and it’s understandable that they would want to take advantage of their youthful vivaciousness while it’s still profitable. For them, keeping up appearances with their sugar daddies may be much easier than doing a thankless shift for minimum wage. Nonetheless, a thankless job doesn’t present potential violence and manipulative control. One sugar daddy profile states that, “I expect our relationship to be exclusive. I am very possessive of my girls.” No doubt his inbox has been flooded.

Individuals enact certain levels of control upon each other, but when you consider the wealth and power of the sugar daddy over their baby, things become lop-sided. It’s difficult to exploit the person who has control over the flux of your finances, and more so to have autonomy when your income is based on how good you look in a rich man’s arm. It’s important to remember that these sugar parents are alone and desperate enough to plaster their name and face all over a website looking for younger partners.

This mutual arrangement website also states that anthropologists would tell us that humans are naturally attracted to wealth, beauty and power. So we asked Dr. Greg Downey, senior anthropology lecturer at Macquarie University, about his thoughts on the matter. He replied, “The desire for something new in sex is also balanced with an appreciation of loyalty and the familiar. For many people (not all), over time, the desire for novelty is less strong than the desire for other sorts of things: consistency, trust, support, etc.” The traits listed by the website are not the only characteristics one looks for in a companion. Sugar daddies are often middle-aged and listed as married or divorced, suggestive of unhappiness in their relationships. Downey explains that places the desire for novelty at the top of the heap.

Pointing out the irony, Downey says that the site itself should be an indicator of negative traits such as incompatibility, untrustworthiness and emotional manipulation. The site seems to slide past any discussion of immorality as the creators have made a closed group for like-minded people where normal checks on behaviour are non-existent. This is shown with one sugar daddy who has recently started experimenting with leather and another who expects his companions to be ready for ‘work’ with a half hour’s notice.

Now before everyone gets too dizzy up there on their high-horse have you stopped and considered whether you, yourself are a sugar baby and perhaps had not realised it? If you have a Centrelink number and receive a lovely addition to your bank account once a fortnight, well dear friend, you are a sugar baby to the biggest sugar daddy, Centrelink. Yes, we play by those government rules, provide our details and report our earning. We bitch and hate the process, yet has any one of us walked in and said, “Hello, I don’t want your money anymore?” No… because most likely the line was too long. Although most have a tale of mistreatment and utter incomprehensible stupidity from Centrelink, we keep coming back and reporting those piddly earnings (unless of course you are a legitimate sugar baby then you probably have more of a cash-in-hand type situation).

Being a sugar baby may be morally questionable but ultimately both parties are exploiting each other’s personal circumstance of loneliness or financial uncertainty. Next time you see everyone dressed up in their graduation outfits, maybe look again to see whether that very affectionate guy is her dad, or sugar daddy.

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Don’t be a Halloweiner: The Costume Edition

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WORDS M.K Smith

That special, most spiritual time of year is back again. Halloween is here, so don a rudimentary costume, buy some plastic skulls from The Reject Shop and get ready to have some drunken fun. But, and there is always a but, make sure you’re doing Halloween the right way. Heed my advice, and have the best end of October ever.

Watch out for cultural appropriation.

“Mexican person” is not a costume. “Native American” is not a costume. “Muslim” is not a costume. These are all outfits I saw at the same party last year, and each one has consequences.

Throwing some stereotypes together and slapping on a traditional headpiece of some kind is not clever or subversive, it’s cultural appropriation and it’s not all right. Cast your memory all the way back to last week when an Australian woman (of COURSE she was Australian) got in trouble for having an African themed party. Everybody in attendance sloppily applied what appeared to be shoe polish to their skin and played up the tribal history of Africa. Sounds harmless, right? Except for the fact that Africa is an entire continent with a myriad of different countries and cultures, both cosmopolitan and customary. Cultures are multifaceted entities, so when socially privileged white kids decide that they’ll dress up as something, like, totally wild and hilarious, why do they choose “costumes” from societies that are usually downtrodden or discriminated against?

Halloween is one of the only glorious days of the year that you get to dress up as something completely out of character. So when white dudes think “how WEIRD and FUNNY would it be if I dressed up like a Muslim and tied a tea towel around my head?!” they’re basically saying, “being a Muslim is WEIRD and FUNNY! It’s hilarious to dress like one, because I’m totally not one!” You’re lampooning people that don’t have as much social esteem as you do. While the xenophobia and discrimination in this country doesn’t rest on your shoulders alone, there’s no need to propagate inequity through an ill-conceived, jokey outfit.

If you’re shaking your head at my argument right now, then I strongly encourage you to read this article. There is so much more to cultural appropriation than the PC police breaking down your door and stealing your cool costume ideas away from you.

“Sluts”*

In segue news; let’s talk about “slutty” costumes. There is a quote from Mean Girls which is so obvious, so eternally relevant, that I don’t even know why I’m typing it out.

“Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it”.

Apt. Well, except for the fact that girls (and some boys) do judge the sexed up party patrons. I know this, because I used to do it.
“For real?” I’d say, “You two are going to a party as a Sexy Mario and a Sexy Luigi? In what universe do two people decide that they want to go as digitized, mustachioed plumbers? As digitized, mustachioed plumbers with their boobs out?”

I know now that people should feel free to dress however sexually they want on Halloween. If that’s the only day that you can express yourself and feel confident in showing off your body, then go for it. Just make sure you’re doing it for yourself. Dress like a sexy old piece of floss if you feel the need, but do it because you think it looks banging, not because everybody else is  going for the boobs angle.

I don’t like to dress in “sexy” Halloween costumes because it feels so expected, like a tradition so weirdly internalized we’re not even sure why we’re doing it, except for the fact that we get to look unapologetically sexualized. I dressed as a scantily clad black cat for Halloween when I was 16 because I wanted to feel like a grown up. Instead of feeling mature, I just felt uncomfortable in my tight clothes. Also I don’t think a “sexy cat” would just wear a black singlet, three pairs of stockings, ears, face paint and have no fur. Then again, I don’t actually know what a “sexy cat” would look like, it’s probably best if we don’t find out. I haven’t worn such an exposing costume since. But if I wanted to dress sexy, I’m glad that Halloween would afford me that luxury. Don’t judge.

Why do we wait for the end of October to go as “Sexy (insert any costume)?” And why is any banal, everyday thing ripe for sexualisation?  Imagine if we dressed like a “Sexy Chess Piece” for Christmas or “Sexy Grapeshot Reader” (that’s everyone who clicked on this article, thanks guys) for New Year’s Eve. Picture a world in which any occasion could call for Halloween-like clothing:

“Hey girl, you feel like dressing up like a Sensual Enema with me?”
“Of course, what’s the occasion?”
“Friday!”
*Girls high five & car peels out*

*I don’t really like that word, just because your boobs are out on one specific night, it doesn’t mean you’re a slut*.
** Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

 

Pop culture costumes

Halloween costumes are the best part of the whole darn holiday. If you’re going down the TV/Movie/Film route, you can’t really go wrong. Here are the dos and don’ts.

  • Don’t go as Miley Cyrus/ Robin Thicke. Please. It doesn’t matter if the dude is Miley and the girl is Robin, or if it’s the two dudes/ two girls gender swap schtick. It’s not clever, and nobody needs to see that much beige latex. Speaking of the Cyrus, no more Wrecking Ball inspired outfits. It’s done. It’s over. Kaput. The only wrecking ball related imagery I need to see is this. If you have to do Miley, at least do Hannah Montana. Think of the bejeweled jeans you’ll get to wear!
  • Do go as Walter White/ Jesse/ meth if you must, but know that half the dudes at your chosen party are going to be rocking the fedora and moustache combo. A Breaking Bad costume is the new Clockwork Orange.
  • Don’t go as a ghost and just cut some holes in a sheet. Everybody knows that you’re just lazy. Commitment is EVERYTHING. If you do want to be a ghost, you should go as Patrick Swayze. This works best if you look exactly like Patrick Swayze, if not then everybody is just going to wonder why your hands are covered in clay.
  • Don’t go as Zombie Celebrity That’s Just Died. It’s tacky.
  • Most importantly, DO have fun. It’s not fun unless there are a bunch of arbitrary rules handed down to you in blog form, kay?

Enjoy your yearly dose of Americanization everyone! Don’t be a Halloweiner this time around.

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How to Not be an Arsehole in the Library

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M.K Smith

I have a friend who has a panic attack every time they enter the Macquarie University library. If this sounds extreme to you, you’ve probably never set foot in there.

To put it diplomatically, the library sucks. I should clarify by saying that the BUILDING itself doesn’t suck (though I still find the design exceptionally confusing), but when there are masses of people involved, there are masses of problems.

According to 2012’s statistics, there are 38,747 students enrolled at Macquarie University. Even after the subtraction of external students (and other people who just don’t bother to come to class) this still leaves a significant amount of people who are probably going to utilise the library at some point during their degree.

Despite the upgrade in services since the new library has opened (replacing the old bomb-shelter library), something about this communal space turns students into desperate garbage monsters. Want a computer during lunchtime? Don’t make me laugh. Need a table for a group assignment? Forget about it, that girl with a Macbook Air has already spread the contents of her handbag around the ergonomic round table, effectively marking her territory. Feel like printing your assignment off from the print station ten minutes it’s due? You can’t, a first year is printing off an entire slide show and they WILL forget how to use their card. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of exam time. I’m not mentally prepared to go there right now.

“But M.K”, I hear you sigh, “what can we do about this mess?!” I’ve got you covered, fellow student. Let’s all hold hands and heed my life’s motto, ‘Don’t be an arsehole’. Here is a quick guide to being a decent human in the library, taken from my 100,000 word manifesto. With any luck, this will be compulsory reading for next semester.

1. Keep your bodily functions in check. I understand that it’s not always easy to keep your body on lock down, the body’s gotta do what it’s gotta do. But for God’s sake MQ students, can we at least try to have some social decorum? DO place footwear on your feet; nobody wants to see your cracked and calloused heels. DO keep your burping and farting to yourself, or at least on the lowdown. DO wash your hands after you’ve finished in the bathroom (I know that the recycled water is always confrontational, but don’t be so shocked by the brown water that you forget to use soap and water). DO have tissues if you have to blow your nose, toilet paper will do the job nicely if you’re unprepared. If you sniffle constantly, I’m pretty sure that murder and passive aggression become legal. DO wear deodorant because it’s bad enough that we’re stuck in a musty sarcophagus trying to study, please don’t let your armpits activate our gag reflexes at the same time.

2. Don’t be a hog. Need a chair? Well then take one chair! You don’t need three. You also don’t need to sit at a computer with a screen visible to people waiting in line, especially if you’re just going to scroll through catchoftheday.com. Dear Girl Browsing Through Deals On Oven Mitts When I Really Needed Your Computer, I still hope you fall in a well.

I think we all know what the most important computer-hogging rule of all is though – do NOT abandon the computer and leave your shit lying out to guard it while you go have lunch or nap with your head on the desk. Cut. It. Out. This problem became so widespread there are actual signs forbidding it. After fifteen minutes of absence, you lose all computer privileges. Now if we weren’t all so afraid of confronting these library losers, then the rule might actually be effective.

3. Shut up. Shut up. I mean it. Shut your damn mouth. If you’re in a quiet space, you are not allowed to open it and talk about your pathetic group project, or about your female lecturer’s tiny moustache. I don’t want to hear about your awkward Brazilian wax. I mean, of course I really do, but not when I’m trying to pretend to learn. If you’re going to text, put your phone on silent. If you’re going to take a call, then LEAVE. We all know it’s your mum wondering where you are anyway.

4. Get your gross food out of here. Eating in the library is fine, but the foods that so many people are eating in the library are not. If your food has a strong odour, please eat it outside. If your food is noisy as hell, please eat it outside. That goes to you, first year M.K digging your hand in a chip packet to shove more sweet chilli and sour cream chips in your gob. You’re a bad person.

5. If you’re wearing a school uniform… Everybody hates you. Sorry kids, but it’s true. Nobody in the outside world gives a hoot about the HSC, all they care about is your underage butts taking up a seat that they’re coveting. There are a lot of other desks in this city that you can plonk your Maths Extension homework on. Just don’t be surprised when you’re greeted with a sea of grimaces as you saunter into the library.

Do we all feel like better people yet (and by better I mean I feel like a classic case of first world problems mixed with a heavy dose of pent up frustration)? I know I do. Together, we can make the library a slightly less terrible experience. Together, we can make a difference.

Until next time Grapeshot readers: Don’t be an arsehole.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Move Out)

Moving On

In the three years I have lived out of home I’ve resided in six apartments, had 13 different roommates, lived in four suburbs and had roughly five million nervous breakdowns. House-sharing isn’t always the easiest of tasks, so if you’re expecting to pack up your worldly possessions in your bindle stiff and bid sayonara to Mum and Dad any time soon, there are things you need to be wary of.

Most (read: all) of my living situations have been some arrangement of testing, painful and legitimately dangerous environments, so you can trust this cynic’s experience. I’ve seen things, man, so feel free to think of me as your cohabiting yogi. I only want the best for you, your mental health and keeping the homicide rate of freewheeling young adults at an all-time low. Here we go:

1. On living with strangers:  Don’t fret too much about what other people say about choosing roomies. I’ve lived with both friends and strangers, to varying degrees of success. It’s best to ignore everything you’ve ever heard about Stranger Danger, because most of the time, living with a stranger isn’t terrible. Granted, I’ve lived with a homophobe, a sexist, and a racist (alright, this was the same person), but when we weren’t arguing about his messed up world views, we actually got along fine. The anecdote about my easy relationship with a bigot is not to say I haven’t also shared close quarters with some freaks, though. Right now I have a roommate whose name I literally don’t know. Once I lived with someone who I’m pretty sure was just a ghost that only ate Subway.

2. On living with friends: On the friend side, there will always be people emphatically telling you “DON’T MOVE IN WITH FRIENDS, IT RUINS EVERYTHING”. I disagree, if your relationship disintegrates and you hate your roommate shortly after you move in, it’s likely that your friendship would’ve fallen apart eventually anyway. If it’s an issue of incompatibility, then communicate your troubles clearly and quickly, you’re meant to be friends after all. Hash your crap out as soon as possible, and everything will probably be alright. However…

3. On attempted murder: It doesn’t matter if you’re best friends or total strangers, you and your roommate/s are going to wants to stab each other’s face off sometimes. This is usually due to issues of personal space, the discovery of everyone’s weird, previously unnoticed idiosyncrasies and messes. Okay, it’s usually ALWAYS about mess. Make sure when you move in that you enforce rules. Do up a roster, have house meetings, fake a dust allergy, it doesn’t matter. If cleanliness is important to you then be sure that everyone is on the same page about keeping common areas clean. If none of you could give a crap, then go on with your bad selves.

4. On the gross stuff: You WILL experience some seriously messed up bathroom stuff at some stage, the kinds of stuff that’ll make you look askance at your roommate for a few days. You will see your roommates’ errant pubic hairs decorate the toilet seat or the edge of the bathtub, and see or smell unpleasant bathroom forays. I had a roommate who used to drop deuces and then absolutely bomb the bathroom with some organic lemon spray. It’d creep under my closed bedroom door and infiltrate my nostrils, some citrus warning to herald that my roommate’s bowel movements were right on track. This smell somehow became much more repugnant to me than the original stink would have been.

5. On cash money: Real talk: you’ll probably run out of money at some stage. Goon towers, hangover food, and that one roommate who ran up the electricity bill because they couldn’t manage to turn the goddamn heater off, that all adds up. If you have lovely parents like mine, parents who don’t like when their children starve, they may just offer you some money. Take it, kiss them with gratitude and don’t ever, ever think about turning it down. Earlier, I reviled the thought of taking money from my parents, “I’m independent!” I would say. I was also very hungry and very foolish. Just get over it, you’re a university student; humility is not your friend. Your parents probably love you and worry about your welfare, so just let them make it rain on you while you still have the chance.

6. On the couple conundrum: So, you want to live with a couple? Prepare yourselves kids – these situations are tumultuous as hell. If you like to hear fights, slamming doors, and the sensation of literally FEELING awkward tension, then this ideal for you. The sexy stuff is worse though, coupling up in tight spaces is pretty tricky. It quite often results in you hearing various moans and groans that no pillows can muffle. If you’re sharing a bedroom then get a sock, or maybe a neon freaking sign, to indicate that you’ve taken a lover into a communal space. I once burst into my shared bedroom to discover my roomie being mounted by a strapping young Brazilian fellow. I retaliated by dropping to the floor in a fit of hysterical laughter and crawling out into the hallway (I may or may not have been quite inebriated), effectively ruining their loving session. I don’t feel guilty though, if you’re doing the shared bedroom thing, please have a nookie warning ready to send off. Get textual before you get sexual.

7. On food thievery: Someone will steal your food at least once, and boy, will they will be merciless about it. A collective fridge is a veritable warzone. Your food stealer is a Blood, you are a Crip and your leftover Indian food is South Central Los Angeles. This is never going to be pretty. If someone steals your food, you need to track that person down and make them pay. Like, literally pay you back or replace your food and then promise to ask you before they poach your stuff again. Food stealing is definitely Not Cool, so don’t pull this crap on anyone you want to live peacefully with. Can you tell I’m still bitter about those leftovers?

8. On having a room of one’s own:  I can’t stress how important it is for everybody to get their own space and enough time to themselves. If you’re anything like me, you need to be alone for a good period of the day or you start to get in that oh-my-god-I-am-going-to-put-anthrax-in-their-tea mood. After the honeymoon phase, living with pals becomes less like a daily sleepover and more like shift-work friendship. This isn’t bad of course, in fact it’s healthy. Living with people can be suffocating, and you don’t want to cohabit with someone who keeps coming into your room to talk about what’s happening on The Voice when you just want to hang out in your room alone. If your roommate is being overbearing and knocking on more doors than a Seventh Day Adventist, just yell out “I HAVE CRAMPS, BE GONE.” Permitting you don’t have a menstrual friendly roommate, this should buy you some time. This will still work if you’re a guy, but it’s probably going to be a lot harder to explain.

9. On surviving: This is the most important rule of all. If you feel uncomfortable or in danger about where you live, do not hesitate to move out. This sounds like common sense, sure. But there were so many times that I stayed in a place longer than I should have before I was forced, or finally got the courage, to move on. The first place I resided in Sydney was incredibly dangerous, but I didn’t really think I needed to leave until I was threatened with violence, regularly listened to the man in the room next to mine smash up his belongings and continually invite over a lady to have loud relations with. This woman turned out to be both mentally disabled and his cousin, by the way… If you buy me a drink, I promise to tell you this story in full. Don’t be like me and let it get to that stage, if you feel unsafe, you can always make arrangements to get the hell out of there.

10. On being legal: The most important thing to know about moving out has been nicely encapsulated by a tattoo on the back of Angelina Jolie’s neck: Know Your Rights. Read contracts carefully and confer with a real grown up if need be, make sure you understand what you’re entitled to and what you’re protected from by law. If you think you’re getting ripped off or treated unfairly, you probably are. There are so many websites and hotlines you can click on or call to check on any nasty issues that arise. Self preservation is the key; don’t let the scumbags and the scammers take advantage of your inexperience.

Despite all of my horrible, no-good experiences since moving out of home (this article doesn’t even scratch the surface), it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. As much as I miss eating real food and having my dirty laundry magically reappear as clean and folded squares on my bed the next day, I don’t regret my decision. If you’re spreading your wings and leaving home either because you want to be independent or because your parents can’t bear having you around any longer, trust me when I say that it’s one of the most liberating, grown up things you’ll ever do. Heed my list, take care of yourself, and most importantly, have fun. You’re free!

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Robin Thicke is a Big D

Blurred Lines

M.K Smith

‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke features T.I, Pharrell and, if you believe the media, a lot of problematic imagery. Feminist deconstructions of the song, its NSFW (not safe for work) hypersexual video and Robin Thicke’s contentious comments on the drama have already been done effectively elsewhere on the internet, including a recent article on Mamamia. Comments on Mamamia’s article ranged from feminist outrage, to outrage at feminists. A myriad of comments whined to the effect of, ‘why are they making such a big deal about a sexy, catchy song on the radio?’

I’m not particularly interested in Robin Thicke, nor is ‘Blurred Lines’ on high rotation for me. So I decided to put on my Totally Serious Objective Critic hat and go through this funky mess, reacting to it as if it was said out loud, line by line. Let’s see if it’s as offensive as it’s made out to be.

(The SFW video, for reference purposes)

Pharrell
Everybody get up
Everybody get up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hello Pharrell, I’ll get up, because I always nursed a little bit of a crush on you. I can’t believe you’re 40! Anyway, I digress. You look very dashing and shiny. The sock-less, naked ankle look is pretty bold. All these internet people keep saying that this video clip is sexist because it has half naked models writhing around painfully in it, but you’ve dared to bare too! If you were a Victorian woman, you’d be practically unmarriageable.

Robin Thicke
If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
I am both of sound hearing AND literate. Jesus, Robin, I’m just an average woman, not Helen Keller.

Maybe I’m going deaf,
Maybe I’m going blind
Is this health related? Are you okay? Or is this like that trick that serial killers use, where they pretend they’re injured and ask you to help them take groceries to their van?

Maybe I’m out of my mind
That’s a bold thing to say to someone you’ve just met. I’m glad you’re unafraid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature

I don’t know who you’re talking about. Did you see someone following me with the intention to kidnap me? Shit man, that should’ve been the first thing you said to me, instead of assuming that my lady brain can’t read and my lady ears aren’t capable of hearing. That wasn’t very nice. Did you call the police?
Also, you’re correct! Homo Sapiens are indeed animals, even though we have a superiority complex over the rest of the animal kingdom. What a jerk-around species we are.

Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
This is a strange thing to say to someone whose gender automatically aligns them with the plight of feminism. Go home feminists! We don’t need equal pay or our reproductive rights to stop being constantly threatened worldwide, because Robin Thicke is going to truly liberate us through sex! Thanks Robin Thicke!

You don’t need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
Phew, I was worried I’d need to sign some kind of release promising not to publicise this interaction.

That man is not your maker
Like, Jesus, or? That’s so very secular of you.

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
You’re going to “take” a little girl? I’m pretty sure abduction is illegal, bro.

I know you want it
What do I want?!

I know you want it
If you’re talking about nachos, yes. If you’re talking about consensual sexual relations with you, then no thank you.

I know you want it
Oh, you’re talking about sex again. I admire your tenacity but it’s still a no.

You’re a good girl
You don’t even know me!

Can’t let it get past me
Well… don’t physically prevent me from leaving. That’s not cool.

You’re far from plastic
Yes, real women are different from the fleshlights that you’ve clearly practiced these lines on.

Talk about getting blasted
I’ve literally never said this in my life. I don’t even know what this means.

I hate these blurred lines
Is your vision still playing up? Because if you’re talking about the ambiguity in our exchange, there is none. I’m finding you a little creepy and I’d like you to stop speaking to me.

I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
Okay, I’m beginning to understand what’s happening here. You’re assuming that I’m a chained-up sex monster who just needs a man to inform her that it’s fine to have sex without worrying about the confines of social judgement. It’s so nice of you to take sexual imbalance into consideration, Robz. Because YOU know that I just want to be plowed, and this is a service you will provide without even ASKING first. “Girls” who are “good” can’t just have sex, can they? Because broken hymens and autonomy really fuck up that Madonna/whore dichotomy that’s serving our gender so well.

You know, It’s very arrogant to assume that I will want to have sex with you because you’re a physically attractive recipient of nepotism, one with no social qualms at that. You do not get consent through osmosis.

P.S It’s not generally acceptable to use the phrase “I know you want it” to tell women you’re going to sex them real good, especially when it’s so ubiquitous in cases of sexual assault.

The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me
If by “grab” you mean put in a preventative headlock out of self defence, I do think it would be pretty unpleasant. I’m glad I have permission to physically restrain you.

What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
The verdict is still out on the purposes of dreaming, with little empirical data to back up current assumptions on their function for the human brain. But thanks for noticing my jeans. I got them from Glassons. I feel both comfortable and confident enough to fight patriarchal values when I wear them.

What do we need steam for
Nothing? Is this a statement or a question?

You the hottest bitch in this place
I bet this line KILLS at the Westminster Dog Show.

I feel so lucky
Hey, hey, hey
You wanna hug me
Hey, hey, hey
What rhymes with hug me?
Drug me??? You’re not very good at reading social cues and body language because I really would prefer if I never had to embrace you, ever.

Hey, hey, hey
Yeah, hi again. Don’t pretend that we haven’t been speaking all this time.

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker
Hey, hey, hey
Bit repetitive there, mate. You’re the deaf one, not me.

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
I hate them lines
I know you want it
You sound like a men’s rights activist with a poor grasp on grammar. Please stop.

But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me
I just… yeah. Okay.

T.I.
One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to

I don’t even know what this means. You’re not making a good first impression T.I.

Yo, from Malibu, to Paribu
Yeah, had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
Yo. Wait, am I a good girl or a bad bitch? Are there only two options? All this policing of my virtuousness is getting tired, you guys.

So hit me up when you passing through
I wouldn’t mind hitting you upside the face with my fist.

I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
WHOA, WHOA SLOW DOWN THERE PAL. That is a reeeally creepy thing to offer someone you’ve just met (outside of an S&M club). This sounds incredibly painful, like an injury that could possibly require butt reconstructive surgery and a court case. I don’t understand why anyone could not take this line as lighthearted banter! It’s totally not a genuine representation of rape culture in mainstream music! This is a totally ok thing to say!

Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable

It really is these jeans that are giving me a serious case of the swags. I was just telling Robin that I got them from Glassons. I like to think they give me a cool, undone look for when I’m macing sexual predators like you in empty car parks.

Then, honey you’re not there when I’m
With my foresight bitch you pay me by
This is the most confusing line of slam poetry I’ve ever heard. Andrea Gibson weeps. And please stop calling me a bitch.

Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that
You just don’t know that. Unless… have you been watching me T.I? Are you the one Robin was talking about before? What you’re doing is called stalking. Don’t do that.

So I just watch and wait for you to salute
This kind of behaviour is not helping the stalking case that’s quickly mounting against you.

But you didn’t pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I don’t understand what any of this means. What didn’t I “pick”? You? Well I certainly wouldn’t pick you, you rapey weirdo.  Please don’t brag about controlling prostitutes through violent and menacing ways. It’s making me uncomfortable.

I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me
A “nice guy”? Are you a men’s right activist too? You’re going to complain about bitches putting you in the friendzone when I finish rejecting you, aren’t you? It kind of sounds like you’re going to stop being nice to me if I have consensual sexual relations with you. Have you ever spoken to a woman before?

Robin Thicke
Shake the vibe, get down, get up
Do it like it hurt, like it hurt

Is shaking the vibe a euphemism that I don’t understand? I don’t want to get hurt Robin, please don’t hurt me.

What you don’t like work?
Duh. Nobody likes to work, dummy.

Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me Dakota to Decatur, uh huh

I feel like you’re talking about a marijuana cigarette here, because the only time Jamaica comes up in pop-culture is to reference drugs and 1993 feel-good movie Cool Runnings. I was right before, you ARE trying to drug me. I see that you’re bragging about drugging and asphyxiating women in countless locations before. That doesn’t sound legal.

No more pretending
Hey, hey, hey

Yep, you got me. This vaguely horrified attitude has all been a ruse. Take me now, Robin Thicke!

Cause now you winning
I really don’t feel like there are any winners in this scenario.

Hey, hey, hey
Here’s our beginning

Yes, this could be the beginning of a lengthy and arduous lawsuit if you do not stop harassing me.

I always wanted a good girl
You do know that obedient children are not pets, right?

I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
There are no “blurred lines” here. You keep saying “I know you want it”, your desires are clear. You’re just confused because I keep saying no. 

I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me
Sigh.

Pharrell
Everybody get up
Everybody get up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Yes, hello Pharell. I heard you the first time. Don’t tell me what to do; I’m too exhausted being disappointed by pop music’s blasé attitude towards women’s sexuality. This is good ol’ sexism wrapped up in a catchy beat and handsome men in suits. ‘Blurred Lines’ is not the most problematic song ever released about the sexuality of women, and it’s probably not even the most objectifying music video that’s ever been released. But this song, and its acceptance by society, is pathetic. If liberation comes from men telling you that you should just sex with them, then gee fellow women, I guess we’ve been liberated since right around the beginning of time.

‘Blurred Lines’ sucks. The outrage is acceptable.

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Film Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel

Man of Steel is finally in cinemas, and we let you into the world of Superman’s first hand – from two perspectives.

M.K Smith is critical:

Because it’s only been seven years since Hollywood has graced us with a Superman movie, it’s obvious that cinema-goers must have been gagging for another. A fair departure from the standard superhero blockbuster, the emotions run deep in the newest interpretation of Superman. Decrying the camp trap that many superhero films lapse into, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel means serious business.

Director Zack Snyder is a polarising figure in cinema, and this time around the shaky, handheld camcorder quality of his directing is almost nauseating. His dodgy camera work dominates the near-endless scenes of destruction and conflict that are littered throughout the film. The amount of exploit included is to be expected from the genre, but Man of Steel takes a lot of liberties. The action sequences are meandering, and while they’re often exciting, they take much too long to pay off. The special effects, soaring soundtrack and moody cinematography are stunning though, making the brutality almost seem worth it. Almost.

It seems quite obvious that the impossibly handsome Henry Cavill was chosen purely because his aesthetic is Superman personified. Buff and brooding, Cavill exudes physical presence; it’s just a pity that this seems to have drained his acting potential. When he isn’t grimacing and clenching his fists, he is flat and plagued by a monotone voice. His monotony is shared with a very sad-eyed Russell Crowe, who is onboard as Jor-El, Clark Kent’s real father. The star-studded supporting cast makes up for Cavill and Crowe’s stale dispositions however. Michael Shannon’s villain, the wonderfully malevolent General Zod, is tense and electrifying. And a pleasant casting surprise comes in the form of Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, who is a surprisingly well-rounded character for a female love interest in an action movie.

It’s difficult to discuss the movie without mentioning the presence of producer and co-writer Christopher Nolan. His critically and commercially esteemed Batman trilogy has cast a towering shadow over the superhero genre of blockbusters, and Snyder has clearly taken notes. But Zack Snyder is not Christopher Nolan, and Man of Steel is not the Batman trilogy. Much like Nolan with Batman, Snyder tries to balance gratuitous action with poignancy, to kick you in the teeth and tug on your heartstrings in one fell swoop. His result is just clumsy, and ends up being somewhat disorienting instead.

Man of Steel is not terrible, but the film still has its problems. It’s rambling and unnecessarily overwrought, exhilarating to the point of exhausting. The film wants so desperately to have grit and meaning, to be the intellectual alternative to the run-of-the-mill summer blockbusters. Much like Clark Kent himself, it just wants to be liked.

*****

Nathan Li is pleased:

Henry Cavill is going to be the Sexiest Man Alive of 2013 – you hear it from me at Grapeshot. The much anticipated Man of Steel is finally propelling the British actor sky-high with his global attention that he deserves.

I was eager to preview the movie in 3D at IMAX Darling Harbour, and it did not disappoint. In the 2013 remake of the sci-fi classic, the visuals are stunning, and I am talking about both the CGIs and, of course, the actors. Having gone through contractual rigorous body training, both Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman) and Russell Crowe (Jor-EI) look, quite literally, out of this world. Amy Adams (Lois Lane) is a delight to watch. And the sexual chemistry between Cavill and Adams is subtle yet pleasant.

Life and death is a unifying theme of the story. Through Clark’s eyes, we are struck with the opposing ideologies of life. While the dad on Earth wishes to conceal Clark’s true identity, the Krypton farther has a much more ambitious plan for Superman regarding the future of Earth and Krypton. On the other hand, meaning of life on Krypton, as asserted by General Zod (the antagonist played by Michael Shannon), is one for evolution and competitive survival, while Jor-EI believes there’s more that is humanly to life and that Superman is the key to it. Deep huh?

The constant flashback in the storytelling is a tactic to evoke audience’s sympathy with Clark Kent’s struggling upbringing on Earth. It’s a nice touch to the action movie but it’s not a groundbreaking approach for exploring identities and differences in a film. There are quite a few ‘awww’-worthy moments but unfortunately not powerful enough to make you tear up or anything.

If you’re going to watch Man of Steel, which I highly recommend, you should watch it in 3D at IMAX. The world’s biggest screen adds another dimension to Superman’s story with the mouth-opening, back-straightening actions, explosions and… Henry Cavill. It might take you a while to adjust your vision but it’s definitely a great experience.

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Film Review: Fast and Furious 6

Fast and furious 6

We sent two Grapeshot staff members to review Fast and Furious 6 at the IMAX theatre in Darling Harbour. Everyone is talking about the blockbuster that’s dominating cinemas right now, but is it actually any good? Toby and M.K did not agree with each other.  

M.K Smith didn’t quite enjoy it:

Is Fast and Furious 6 a film, or did I just have a two hour seizure? Either way, the franchise’s gang of ragtag criminals is back again to wreak havoc, possibly faster and more furious than ever before.

It’s unfortunate that they spent the whole budget on crashing cars into glass buildings, because Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson really could’ve benefited from t-shirts that didn’t cut off the circulation to what normal humans call ‘arms’. Scene chewing must be effective for carb-loading, because both Vin Diesel and Johnson are as muscle-laden as they are robotic. The rest of the cast doesn’t fare too well, either.

There’s some emotional stuff going on in the film, though I’m not really sure what the stuff is because I didn’t bother watching the first five films (also I spent duration of this one either counting the alarming veins on Johnson’s arms or trying to nap).

I of all people cannot claim to be a cinephile, but Fast and Furious 6 is a dumb, forgettable, money-grubbing film. To its credit, though, it doesn’t pretend to be anything but. Snobbery aside, the film isn’t completely terrible. There’s decent cinematography, good pacing and plenty of attractive people to gawk at.

If you appreciate ham-fisted acting, teeth-gratingly cheesy dialogue and casual vehicular manslaughter, go see this film. And if you’re especially concerned that this will be the last masterpiece in the series, fret not, because a seventh movie is set up quite nicely in the dying moments of this instalment.

I’m not going to watch it.

*****

Toby Hemmings loved it:

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make us happy: a smile, a funny line, a massive fuck-off explosion. There came a point when I just switched off my critical self and allowed a huge grin to cover my face, simply because this film is so much fun.

Its predecessor Fast Five pointed this long-questioned franchise on the right path with two decisions: 1) Let’s make this less about cars and more about elaborate oceans-style heists (and just when you wonder how the story can be any more fast and furious after five installments, the answers are ‘vehicles’ that are much bigger than cars); and 2) Let’s bring in the walking growth of muscle and charisma that is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Fast and Furious 6 does not stray from these wise guidelines and also incorporates the usual rag-tag crew including Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris as the usual source of unexpected banters, Vin Diesel, the attractive women and other hangers-on. Most interestingly, it turns this motley bunch into a family, a concept that plays surprisingly well throughout the film.

It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and snobs will look down on it with utter disdain. There are multiple references to the previous storyline but it doesn’t stop you from enjoying all the action that is balls-to-the-wall awesome. The dialogue is funny and intertwined with utter car-porn. Now this is how you do a summer action blockbuster (Yeah, I’m talking to you Michael Bay).

Check your brain at the door for the added entertainment.

Fast and Furious 6 is now playing at the IMAX Theatre. Watch the trailer here.

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