Just Something on my Mind…

With the introduction of a new character on Sesame Street with parents suffering from addiction could it be a sign that TV is moving forwards when it comes to character development?

 

A KIDS’ TV favourite, Sesame Street, which I openly admit that I used to watch religiously, also it was a regular Saturday viewing fixture. I absolutely loved it and was already familiar with characters such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Elmo to name but a handful. Oh, the never-ending joy of my childhood weekends.
Recently though they have introduced a new female character called Karli who has become friends with the already established Elmo. Karli is a girl whose mum suffers from drug addiction. On twitter recently there was a touching parent-child moment where Elmo is talking to his dad, Louie, explain to him what addiction is, how it affects people and what happens in order for them to get the help they need.
It’s just under two minutes long and it is just amazing, and quite heart warming to watch as well and when I watched it, I was just so fantastically moved by how they did the scene. It wasn’t at all patronising in the slightest and it was all put together and written and directed in a way in which children would understand without giving them the grittier side of the reality.
Looking back over the past few years on how Sesame Street has developed in terms of character creation has genuinely surprised me. Way back in 2015 the producers took a bold decision to introduce a young female character called Julie, who was portrayed as a four-year-old child. Now what set her apart was that she was the first character on the show who had a learning disability. Basically, Julie was Autistic.
Now I myself have grown up with a learning disability and have known others with similar problems to the character or Julie. Sadly, I have also known some who have it worse then than her. My disability is called Asperger Syndrome which is a mild form of Autism.
As a person with Autism I found it to be both fantastic and ground-breaking that a decision had been taken to introduce such as character. For me, what was just amazing about it was that it would help people to, not just understand the disability community, but to hopefully help society realise that they are just human beings who are just as vulnerable themselves.
Believe me when I say I have experienced plenty of unfair judgments just for being, what others perceive, as ‘different’. To be judged on something that you simply cannot help is heart-breaking enough in itself.
However, going back to the character of Karli. As a child she is a great representation for children whose parents suffer from addiction and need help. In the scene that is currently circling around on social media Elmo asks his dad why Karli’s mum needs to go away for a while. While I was watching the scene, a thought came into my head and I found myself asking who would be taking care of Karli whilst her mother was seeking help for her addiction problems. Hopefully this is something that the programme will cover at some point.
In some ways Sesame Street has changed into something of a hybrid of children’s programme with added elements of a prime-time soap opera. For all those who moan about, complaining how it isn’t right and how you shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing on a children’s TV show just stop for a moment, remember how two of its characters, Eric and Ernie unintentionally became representations of the LGBT+ community? Now there were a lot of people, and no doubt many of the shows’ fans who wanted these two to get together.

Though they didn’t it did show people how two members of the same sex living together was neither immoral or sinful.
As a person myself who is in two minority groups, disability and LGBT+ I rather like how the show is evolving in the way it represents certain characters from minority groups. I mean who know, one day we might have a character who is blind/visually impaired or wheelchair bound. Or we could have one who is ethic minority or a member of a different religion, or from another country. Just think, if they ever did that children could have fun learning another language. Or, if you really wanted to push the boat out here, they could have the introduction of a character who is ethnic minority and wheel-chair bound.

🙂  #SunnyDaysAhead

Seriously though Sesame Street, in terms of characters like Julia and Karli I salute you.

For your viewing, please watch.

 

In The Spotlight: Friendly Fires – Love Like Waves

Taken from their third studio album, Inflorescent, Love Like Waves is the seventh single of the record and at only four and a half minutes long and it is undoubtedly a great song. It is definitely one of those type of songs for the summer playlist. As always Ed Macfarlane’s voice is both completely magnetic and smooth and just draws you right into the song, as always, a great listening pleasure. Love Like Waves is a great fusion of dance and pop with some electronic beats thrown into the mixture. Another one you can see yourself moving to on the dance-floor. Ed has one of those voices that fits into the dance music scene with hardly any effort at all and has a wide vocal range which he uses with complete confidence. The line, Love Like Waves, weaves in and out of the song in a smooth and melodic ease.

The video accompanying this song has that summer holiday feel to it as when it starts you are already in what appears to be like sunny Spain or the Mediterranean. It just has the look and feel. Throughout the video the see clips featuring various other people, including members of Friendly Fires reclining, enjoying the sunny weather mixed with the band doing a live gig with people dancing to the music. Now for a band that haven’t released any new material in over six years this is much anticipated welcome back to Friendly Fires and their music. Long may Ed and the gang continue.

🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEch9Nk1aqg

 

 

 

Just Something on my Mind…

The live action remake of Disney’s Aladdin is out (very) soon and we’ve already had The Lion King and Dumbo. Is Disney trying to cash in on old success or is this just another way of retelling an old story?

 

THE live action remake of the hit film, Aladdin, is due out very soon but with all these remakes of old classics is Disney trying to recreate its former success or is it just new ways of retelling old stories?
Let me give you an example, and don’t worry I’m not going to give anything away here. In the original version of Aladdin, we had the eight main characters; Aladdin, Jasmine, The Sultan, Jaffar, Iago, Genie and Abu though he was a non-verbal and just make noises. In the new version there are two new characters who weren’t in the original; a maid who is also Jasmine’s friend and a confidant, and a potential suitor. Also, in this version we had a back-story of Jaffar so we got to know a bit more about him and where he’s coming from.
Here’s another example, The Lion King. Apart from James Earl Jones being the only member of the original cast to return they introduced a new character who wasn’t in the original version. And two of the Hyenas had their names changed.
Now if you had asked me about this when the very first live-action remake of a Disney classic came out, like many I would have asked why they couldn’t come up with something original. Also, I would have gone to see if to see if I liked it and whether it had anything even remotely new on the earlier version. However, another way of looking at this whole thing is by merely viewing it as another way of telling a story but from a different angle and by adding new characters and seeing what they bring to the fore.
Let’s step away from Disney for a moment and focus on another remake; Carrie.
Originally released in 1976 it was the infamous story by horror writer, Stephen King, and told the story or a young teenage girl called Carrie White. A social outcast who suffers bullying and abuse from her mentally unstable mother and spiteful peers, discovers her telekinetic abilities and uses them to exact her revenge. In the original, Sissy Spacek, played Carrie, and she was 26 when it was made and did remain somewhat faithful to the book. Fast forward to 2016, Chloe Grace-Moretz took on the part. Now in this version a different perspective is shown. Chloe was the age of the character, 15, mobile phones are used, Carrie channels her powers through her hands and in the legendary prom scene she destroys much of the town.
I admit I’ve never read the book though I have read the plot online, I’ve seen both versions in their entirety and enjoyed them both. Now whilst the 1976 version follows the book to a degree the remake, though set in a more contemporary setting, actually follows the book more closely. Though neither version is truly faithful both films told their take on the story in their own individual way.
Also, I preferred the new version more but that’s because I felt it had more going for it in terms of how the plot was dealt with.
Another example of a remake I can give you is the t.v series, Charmed, and American show about witchcraft. Now I openly admit I enjoyed both though I did find some of the plot lines somewhat predictable. In the first version you had three sisters, all white and white their individual powers. After the 3rd series one of the sisters was killed off and replaced with a half-sister. Fast forward to this new version a couple of the changes are that the sisters are of ethnic minority and one is a lesbian. Now I know that many people will have complained about this but I see it as another way of telling a story but from a new, fresh perspective complete with different settings.
What I find both understanding, as much as I find predictable, is that whenever film companies or t.v producers decide to do remakes of well-known films and shows many people complain. Lack of creativity, no imagination, trying to cash in again on old success? or should we try and view this as another way of telling the same story but from a different perspective, with newer characters, different settings complete with edgier approaches.
Now I admit that I quite like remakes, but then again that is because I am going compare it to the original and see if the hype is still the same and whether it lives up to the expectations of the first one.

In The Spotlight: Friendly Fires – Heaven Let Me In

 

After nearly what feels like over a decade away indie favourites, Friendly Fires, have returned with a new album called Inflorescent and brand-new single called Heaven Let Me In. Straight from the start the song is just packed with energy, and a lot of it, and stays faithful to the bands’ musical roots. What I like about Ed Macfarlane’s vocals throughout this entire song is that every so often he sounds like he’s taking a deep breath, which in some ways adds a bit more body to the song. Also, I quite like how he sings cos it shows the range of vocal ability that he is capable of using. Heaven Let Me In shows a steady continuation of their music and how it is gradually evolving. A nice mixture of pop and dance, and plenty to go around. One of the good things that we can be grateful about is that, musically, the band haven’t taken a sudden U-turn and gone into a completely different direction. Ed’s vocals a smooth and have an almost hypnotic quality about them and just have this beautiful fluidic run about them that goes from start to finish. The song has an almost ambient feel to it which kind of compliments the band’s own musical style. For a band that have been out of the musical spotlight for what feels like just over ten years this song is a nice welcome back.

The music video that accompanies this features a young guy listening to music on his headphones, presumably the song itself. In the video he is seen walking along whilst dancing to the music whilst going past various locations and bumping in various people on the way.

🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=117&v=fAMP0MBfGhY

 

Graham Norton/Elbow

Just been listening to the new song by British Indie band, Elbow; White Noise/White Heat. Now I haven’t heard anything from these guys in so long I did begin to think if they were ever going to resurface again. Thankfully they have and this is the result. Definitely worth the wait. White Noise/White Heat is an amazing song and front-man, Guy Harvey, vocal abilities are as incredible as ever. A legend of a front-man, truly incredible in every sense of the word. The sound of the music itself had an epic feel to it giving it more body, music wise. Not long finished watching their performance and I liked how the screen went back and forth between colour and black and white, in some ways it made the performance more interesting and eye-catching to watch. Elbow’s new song is from their new album Giants of all Sizes. If the album is anything like as good as their new song them I’m getting my hands on a copy as soon as

Also on the sofa was American actress, Rene Zellweger, British comic legend Lenny Henry, the other half of Wham, Andrew Ridgely and documentary maker Louis Theroux providing gossip, laughs and banter as well as discussing upcoming projects

🙂

 

Just Something on my Mind…

We may well have a right to free speech and freedom of the press but even the media and press need to act within the moral code of ethics.

 

IF you have been paying attention to the press and various other new outlets over the past few weeks or so you will no doubt be aware that the British tabloids dug up private information on both Ben Stokes and Gareth Thomas. Yet all this asks the question in regards to free speech and freedom of press where moral behaviour of the media and press are concerned.
Just the other week British cricketer, Ben Stokes, appeared in the news when it was revealed that the tabloids had dug up private information on a personal family tragedy that had happened some thirty odd years earlier. A tabloid pap had contacting Gareth Thomas’s parents asking what they knew of his HIV status.
As a human being I find this type of behaviour absolutely disgusting cos at the end of the day this was the private lives of human beings that was being exploited. Now I admit that If you ever follow my social media feeds, read my blog I have also produced articles, have even written columns on various issues. Even with what I am writing about right now. Yes, I am also a journo and columnist but even I know that at the end of the day that there is a Code of Ethics that should always be followed. This is something I always follow. And thankfully I can say, hand on heart, that I will continue to do so.
However, going back to ethnical practice where the media and press are concerned. Yes, we should have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of press but does that mean that the tabloids should be able to sell a story when the contents were obtained unethically?
Just for a moment, cast your mind back to when the paparazzi managed to get photos of Kate Middleton topless. There was this constant debate of why the photographers should or shouldn’t be held to account over their behaviour. Yet this is where argument of ethics comes into it as she was in a privately-owned residence and the paparazzi had no right being their and how they were invading her privacy.
If this being the case them why do the photographers and tabloids always seem to think that it’s acceptable to appear where they’re not wanted? Why do journalists think that digging up things on people’s private lives is a good story? I mean why, what are they hoping to achieve? Why do tabloid journalists think that it is acceptable to run smear campaigns? Since when was it acceptable for them to start hounding your nearest and dearest hunting for gossip? I mean, do they not realise that emotional and psychological upset and trauma that it causes or do they just sit there and think ‘right, here’s a good story, let’s see how that flies in tomorrow’s edition’?
Let’s think back to the Levison enquiry shall we, the one which led to the closure of well-known tabloid paper, News of the World. When it emerged that some of its journalists had illegally hacked into voice-mails and emails of celebrities it led to a huge backlash. One such case that got dragged into this was the one involving the late Milly Dowler. Journalists had left voicemail messages on her phone, some of this and a couple of other factors gave her family the false hope that their daughter was still alive.
Going back to the story that involved Ben Stokes. The tabloid press of that publication managed to cause such an outcry and raging backlash it led to a campaign on social media calling for people to stop buying the publication. And indeed, who could actually blame them. I mean at the end of the day to run a story based on someone’s personal tragedy and not have the decency to apologise is one thing, but to carry on like no-one was upset is quite another.
Now I am all for freedom of the press and having free-speech to back it up but at the end of the day both the British press and media have a moral duty to behave in an acceptable way. And I am not saying this lightly.
Just because it’s free speech, doesn’t mean we can evade responsibility

Just Something on my Mind…

With the growth of the British music scene, both here and abroad, we should hold more days such as BBC Music Day and Independent Record Store Day to help us celebrate our musical genius

 

NOW for all music enthusiasts the BBC held its annual BBC Music Day a over a few days ago on the 26th September, something which it has been doing every year since 2015. Come next year it will have reached a five-year milestone, a further five years from being a decade long. Now that is something I would love to see happen. Another one that is worth celebrating is Independent Record Store Day.

Now one of the reasons why this is definitely worth celebrating is because not only does it help celebrate the music industry, on a nationwide level, but also small independent businesses. I mean, yeah, sure we’ve got the more well-known music stores such as HMV but what about the smaller stores which are standalone’s, not part of a huge business franchise. They need to be celebrated to cos at the rate they are disappearing it is going to have a big impact on both business and music to.

Now when it comes to independent record shops there’s a couple I know of that do their bit to help their local music scene by holding both special music nights as well as open-mic nights. But in terms specialist music I think we could do well by hosting more events like this by, for example, host specialist nights that promote music from a grass-roots level.

I myself have attended various nights like these and, with the right promotion, know just how popular they can be. A couple of the ones I have been to have in actual fact been hosted in independent music shops. One of the numerous benefits of this is that it helps the store as people become aware of its existence. The people hosting the nights rare keen music enthusiasts who are completely familiar with the music scene, the types of venues there are, inside people who you need to know.

Now the last time I went to one these specialist music nights was earlier this year in Nottingham when I was watching various musicians perform at an acoustic night. The event in particular was at Nottingham’s infamous Rough Trade Records which also has its’ own store. Now how many other labels and store’s do you know of that do that sort of thing? Since that night I’ve since seen two of the artists perform at other gigs; Myles Knight and Tori Sheard. The latter of which went on co-host a music night of her own with herself headlining it.

As an out and proud music fan, and a keen enthusiast of Nottingham’s own music scene is that because of events like the one’s created by the town’s Rough Trade Records is that it has helped it to grow, evolve, and become more diverse to no end. In my opinion, that is something to be proud of and celebrate.

As we watch the country’s music scene grow, be it via festivals or genres etc, we should try to host more events like these and be proud to celebrate what we have created in terms of music. I mean I don’t know much about what or how they do it abroad but how many other places to you know of where well-known broadcasters celebrating national music day? How many other places do you know of that celebrate the pride of independent record shops and their contribution to their local scene?

Something I would like to see happen, is for places that are most famous for what they have given us celebrate that but in a way that celebrates the pride of the town. For example, The Beatles, are the proud product of Liverpool. Imagine how amazing it would be if the town was to have a day where both the music shops and venues were to create sort of Beatles day where they celebrated the famous four. How cool would that be. Imagine how many records by The Beatles would be sold just by doing something like that, it’d be an exciting collaboration, and just think you could have your local radio station playing all their greatest hits all day long. It would be Beatle Mania

Think of any musical genius that came from your town, be it band or genre, then think of how great it would be if music stores and venues got together to celebrate that musical creativity. And if you were able to get the local radio station involved, just imagine how effective that would be. Seriously, both the excitement and possibilities would be endless.

Just Something on my Mind…

People like Swedish climate change campaigner, Greta Thunberg, who lives with Autism should be an inspiration to us all. Afterall, even one person can help make a difference

 

FOR over a years now, Greta Thunberg has managed to achieve quite a bit, from sailing from the UK to America just to take part in a summit, spoke at public events and spoken at numerous conferences. Yes, all that within the space of a year and a bit. As far as I’m concerned, she has done more for political causes than half of our politicians put together and that really is saying something.
Now Greta is only a teenager who happens to live with a learning disability, which I myself am all too familiar with, but she is an inspiration to both people with a disability to young people everywhere.
Autism is a learning disability in which the brain is wired differently, you see things differently, some of your behavioural characteristics are different and you find comfort in routine. But that is just various parts of the spectrum and an analysis based on my own experiences from what I can remember growing up. At one end of the spectrum you have those who can live life pretty much as near normal as you can. Whereas at the other end you have those who need constant supervision, medication, therapy and support, they are the ones who sadly can never ever lead an independent life, and in some ways forever remain child-like in their mentality.

Now I know I am not painting an amazing picture but sometimes when you tell stories like this, even if they are based on real-life moments you have to be prepared to mention the miserable side of things.
I suppose that in many ways, and probably like Greta’s as well, I am quite lucky because I was on the mild end of the spectrum and therefore can live a fairly normal…. ish life. But if we can go back to what someone like her has achieved, she is very passionate about what she does and how she can help others. When I heard that she was sailing all the way to New York, over three thousand miles I thought ‘good on you, go for it’, but my main concern was if she would ever have to meet up with Donald Trump. He who thinks that global warming is a conspiracy thought up by South East Asia in an attempt to savatage business. Seriously, how stupid can you actually get? On second thoughts don’t answer that as I don’t think I want to know the answer from someone who looks like they’ve survived an explosion in a tanning salon.
Going back to earlier on though in regards to her devotion to climate change and the environment, that is why people like Greta should be in inspiration to all of us. Even those who live with a disability like Autism as it can show that having a condition like that should never hold you back, and it needn’t be used against you either.
On the whole it definitely helps to have more people such as Greta, and with her problems, helping people to campaign on behalf of worthy causes. I mean after all; we might find ourselves having to turn both her and many others like her in times of crisis. Living with autism should not be an excuse for a social write-off but instead should be met with both social and positive embrace cos even someone with her stature can make big changes.
So next time we look at someone like Greta Thunberg, rather than write her off as some young, naive girl we should be learning from her. I mean after all, take a look at what she has done and achieved in just a few short months in this actual year alone. Utterly extraordinary. Both a national and international hero and inspiration to a great many of us when it comes to acting on issues that affect all of us in one way or another.

Just Something on my Mind…

After 16 series of Strictly Come Dancing it’s now time for the introduction of same-sex pairings, but that doesn’t solely mean gay/bi contestants only

 

SO, for all you die-hard Strictly obsessive’s, the dance show that we all love (and some of us secretly love) is back on our TV screens again. However, this no doubt, brings back the question of when they programme is going to introduce same-sex pairings cos after all it was only last year we had a brief dance routine between AJ and Gorka and I don’t recall a negative backlash. Looking back at it I wonder why the film crew didn’t give us a couple of minutes extra of the two guys when they were dancing together. One of the arguments that I can imagine would be from people with out-dated, old-fashioned views constantly moaning about how wrong it’d be and that’d it’d give the children ideas. Another would be from religious zealots who would quite happily (and angrily) argue how it went against their so-called ‘religious beliefs’. But in all seriousness now, who would it actually be harming, apart from a (very) small narrow-minded minority? No-one in all likeliness.
On the American version of the show, Dancing with The Stars, contestant Nyle DiMarco, did a dance routine with a male dancer, and it did actually receive a positive response from both the audience and viewers alike.
In the Israeli version, Rokdim Im Kokhavim, sports broadcaster, Gili Shem Tov, was paired up with a female dancer called Dorit Milman. This was in the show’s sixth series and did it do the show any harm? Considering that it went on for another series I’d say no.
Most recently in the Italian version, Ballando con le Stelle, openly gay fashion designer and stylist, Giovanni Ciacci, was paired up with professional dancer, Raimondo Todaro. It was a move which proved ground-breaking cos first and foremost their producers had never considered it and as you’d predict it did cause some controversy but after a while, they won both the audience and country over. They even made it to the finals. Not bad at all.
So now that you know, all this begs the big question; when is the UK version of the show going to introduce same-sex pairings to the format?
No doubt there will be numerous people out there complaining that it would just be gay/bi celebrities paired up with dancers, along with of course, potentially rumours of s******g. Seriously, when does that not happen to the couples who are rumoured by certain tabloid types to be ‘getting closer’. I mean seriously, get a bloody life for god’s sake.
But if we are going to bring celebrities from the LGBT+ community into this let’s look at who they have; Susan Calman, Julian Clarey, Scott Mills, Mark Foster, Russell Grant, Will Young, Judge Rinder and Dr Ranj Singh. Now all these were paired up with dancers of the opposite-sex, no same-sex pairings at all. And yes, I admit that Susan Calman was rumoured to have said that her dream pairing was with Kevin Clifton.
Even Craig Revel-Horwood, who’s the BBC equivalent to Simon Cowell’s Mr Nasty and Shirley Ballas have stated that even they would back the decision. The BBC, however, said in a statement that they would be open to the suggestion in the future. In more basic terms I think that probably means that we would all have to wait until they have finally grown a pair before they actually do it. Well You have had sixteen series and you are about to go into your seventeenth, what is there that is possibility stopping? apart from a small handful of angry letters from outrage parent, religious zealots and narrow-minded idiots who still probably haven’t quite got past seeing gay kisses on TV since the 80’s.
In all fairness there is probably nothing to stop them bringing in the introduction but I can imagine as with all these types of changes that they would probably have to wait for word from above. But until then there is nothing that says that we shouldn’t stop suggesting the idea to them, I mean after all, seeing two men dance together or two women dance together is hardly going to harm anyone no is it.

MusicNotts Talks With… The Dandylions

My last ever piece with MusicNotts. R.I.P MusicNotts, it was great writing for you 😦

Anyways for your reading pleasure, here’s The Dandylions

MusicNotts Talks With… The DandyLions