Halloween Confession – I Can’t Watch Horror Films (304/365)

Yes, this is the one where I expose myself for not being able to watch most horror films, some of you reading this might understand the points I’m about to make, whilst others are just going to be left in a state of confusion and honestly this is something that isn’t going to change. So yes, I can’t watch most horror films, mainly because anything involving ghosts and possession freak me out.

If there’s anything that enters the realm of the unknown that we can’t see and isn’t explained/defeated then I won’t watch it.

It might have something to do with my constant battle with sleep paralysis, weird trippy dreams and lucid nightmares, but I don’t fuck with the unknown and genuinely don’t feel the social pressure to put my weak ass through it ever again. I guess believing in jinns is also something that puts me off watching the films, since jinn stories are fucking terrifying and honestly those kind of films are basically an immersive jinn story.

For many years I actively pretended to love and watch horror films, there’s something about being in school and pretending to be hardcore out of fear of being left out or being a target of bullying. The more ‘badass’ I seemed, the less likely I was to become a target and honestly if it meant lying my tits off and watching a few horror films, then I was prepared to do it. My school wasn’t the best and I have a long disgusting history with bullying.

Thanks to this lie I ended up watching Paranormal Activity 2 in the cinema, and you might be reading this wondering what kind of pansy was scared of that film – THIS PANSY, ME, I was scared shitless. It had everything I was scared of:

  • An unknown figure haunting a family
  • Actual attacks where we can’t see the thing
  • Possession
  • No way of defeating the unknown figure

Plus I watched it around a time where I was dealing with sleep paralysis attacks every other night, so I already had a lot on my plate. Due to this stupid decision I wasn’t able to sleep soundly for a month and then I realised that life is too short to do this to yourself and now I refuse to watch these kind of films. I no longer care how people will take the news because sleep is important!

I do appreciate how my best friends will make plans to watch these films and invite me as a courtesy knowing damn well I have no intention of going, and they completely understand it.

We Need More Coming Of Age Muslim Media (229/365)

For someone who spends a lot of time talking about representation, I didn’t really realise how little representation Muslims of today have. The glass shattered when I saw a trailer for the Ramy Hassan’s new show ‘Ramy’ and now I WANT MORE OF THESE SHOWS. Especially considering the fact that it’s personally relatable to me, there are so many different coming of age shows, and we’ve even started getting the point of view of first generation immigrants, but no one seems to be touching the muslim experience.

I apologise for my ignorance on all of this, and now I will sing loud and proud about the need for this. Not only is growing up in a western world hard due to every Tom, Dick and Harry being racist, but also we navigate a haraam world and our own spirituality. A lot of us are raised to pray five times a day and go to Mosque as children, and we get exposed to a lot of different versions of the religion. We are then also bombarded with other messages and lifestlyes and navigating this is bloody difficult.

You have people who manage to fight temptation and live their true life, and then the rest of us who do give in to temptation and also battle with the guilt and shame of doing things, but then also fighting our own issues with our identity. There are so many layers to the identity of the muslim diaspora that it’s a shame that the common media ignore it, or maybe they’re afraid of doing it, either way there’s a lot of things to explore and not enough representation in doing so.

Even with everything I’ve just said I haven’t even scratched the surface of our identity. Honestly, there’s a lot, we have societal and cultural pressures alongside having to deal with the stereotypes that the western world have thrown at us. The idea that women who wear hijab are meek and mild is not only the biggest piece of false news I have ever seen, but also works against them when it comes to socialising or participating in the western workforce. They assume that they’re victims without ever getting to know them.

Men are asusmed to be terrorists if they look like a muslim, or have a beard and a bit of melanin. They’re also exposed to a lot of toxic ideals as children (from our culture, not the religion) and this sort of gets carried on into their adult lives in many different ways. Some unlearn a lot of the shit, and some don’t, but again THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO THIS.

I could write a whole book on this topic and I still would have a lot to say because there’s also the case of the diaspora being effected differently in different countries. Look at Somalis in the UK and the ones in America, we live completely different lives. In the UK, religion is a lot more present and therefore anyone who acts any different has to do so in secret, and the American diaspora are just the complete opposite.

I’m going to end this now before I start writing an actual essay about this, but give us what we want. Give us complete representation, as much as I love the fact that POC are getting there, I also want muslim identity properly explored in media. I’m sick of just seeing us as background characters, give us the main character role and give us the chance to be properly explored.

I Went to My First Film Festival and the Racists Had me Shook (124/365)

I’ve always been someone who loves film, I studied film studies (which led to years of pretentious fuckery), I go to the cinema whenever I can and generally love talking to people about films. One thing I’d never done was go to an actual film festival and be around people who also love film – let me tell you this was a strange experience.

I went to the viewing of a brilliant film called Woman at War, which follows a woman in Icelands journey as an environmental activist who makes many direct attacks on the government. The use of music in the film is what makes it stand out – but this isn’t a film review sadly. One thing that concerned me was the blatant racism shown by the audience.

I initially learnt that film festivals tend to have a certain demographic, and it’s old white people. Part of it is because it isn’t advertised to younger generations and it’s just not accessible to working class people at all. Now, I honestly didn’t think the audience would make such an impact on me – but they did, and it was fucked up.

Woman at War is a film that is a social commentary on everything from feminism to issues of race in Iceland. The way it explores racism is through a South American tourist, who is obviously brown and has the worst luck known to man. Whenever Hella (the main protagonist) commits a crime, he is there, and he gets stopped by the police multiple times.

Every-time it happened in the film, the audience laughed. Some of them couldn’t stop laughing, it was so disgusting I was about to start a fight. The reason the laughter offended me is because this is a real issue, police tend to target ethnic minorities without proof, or evidence, they just assume more melanin means more crime. So to listen to a white audience just laugh at it pissed me off. They will never experience these issues, so how dare they have the nerve to laugh at it. It’s not a joke, this shit actually happens.

Small example, Birmingham is currently under section 16 which allows the police to randomly stop and search people without any real reason to. It’s in response to the high rates of knife crime, so I understand the need for it, but the police are racist. Within a few days of it being introduced my 18 year old brother was stop and searched very roughly, whilst also being handcuffed. Not only is he the least likely to ever commit a crime (he snitches on his siblings daily) but he’s also autistic, so honestly the fact that they rough handled him is disgusting. Do you know why they did it – because he’s black. We as a family made the mistake of forgetting to have the conversation about how to navigate the police as a black boy when he was younger – but the fact that this is a conversation we have to have is disgusting and it’s the world we live in today.

Back to the racists at the film festival.

So initially I thought that the film itself was making a mockery of racism because of the audiences response, my friend told me afterwards that it wasn’t the film, it was the people. And that this always happens. Less than a day after I made a rant on Instagram, and got a response from a friend who also experienced the same thing.

Sometimes we forget racism is a thing, and this hit me like a brick.

How to Avoid Spoilers like a Pro (120/365)

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve reached that point in 2019 where every show/movie that we’ve been waiting for has (or is) coming out. The lead up to a lot of these releases has been painful for a lot of us, but the fact that movies like Avengers: End Game have finally hit the cinema’s means that a lot of spoilers are circulating the internet and it isn’t fun. Hell, even day to day conversation is dangerous since people discuss spoilers as easily as they complain about the weather. So naturally I have to write a guide on how to avoid spoilers so you can watch your shit in peace.

Stay off social media

This might be difficult, but it’s a necessary evil because spoilers are everywhere on social media. People’s stories, their comments, their memes – even meme pages aren’t safe. Just have a detox and save yourself the stress.

Let people know that you haven’t seen what you’re trying to avoid

Sometimes people spoil things and it’s an accident, they’re not actually being dickheads. They just assume you have watched it, so let people know that you’re avoiding spoilers and they will respect your boundaries (unless they’re an arsehole).

Listen to music in shared spaces

Now you can let people you know aware of your journey to avoid spoilers, but complete strangers don’t give a fuck – so avoid them by listening to a lovely playlist of your favourite loud music.

Hopefully these tips guide you on this journey, and if they fail, don’t come after me.

I Watched ‘Us’ and It Wasn’t Groundbreaking (86/365)

Before you send me streams of hate for not liking this film, please read the post.

I watched ‘Us’ this weekend and honestly felt a bit cheated. It’s not like it wasn’t a decent film, it just wasn’t amazing. I guess on some level I was expecting the same feeling as ‘Get Out’ where it took a concept and ran with it to the point where I was on the edge of my seat. ‘Us’, however, had a few shocking moments, but the grand reveal was predictable.

‘Us’ centres around the Wilson family vacation featuring Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son Jason (Evan Alex). Naturally, like with any horror film, their beach vacation went horribly wrong, as they fight tooth and nail to survive against their doppelgangers.

One thing this film did brilliantly was feature a black middle class family without making the film about race. It really goes to show how little representation there is in horror. As this families race was a massive surprise to the audience, we usually view spiritual and horror films through the lens of a white family. So showing racial representation as the norm was a nice touch.

As much as I wanted to like this film, I just feel like it failed to keep the suspense going. Initially when the doppelgangers attacked I was on edge and terrified, but then it got funny. When the humour kicked in, I lost that feeling of fear, and stopped empathising with the main cast. I personally feel like the concept was brilliant, but the execution fell flat. Part of this is because I went in with high expectations as Jordan Peele has a good track record.

I’ll try not to give away too much with my thoughts on this, but there’s a final reveal, and it was predictable as fuck.

That’s all for now, my final thoughts on this is, take it for what it is – which is a slasher/thriller that isn’t scary. The performances by each actor are Oscar worthy so if you enjoy a good 2 hours of amazing acting but not an amazing plot – feel free to watch it. The soundtrack is also fantabulous!

Captain Marvel Was a Pleasant Surprise (71/365)

So this Sunday I went out to watch Captain Marvel with low to no expectations. I knew nothing about the character from the comics and after what Marvel did to Black Widow and Scarletwitch I thought they’d somehow ruin this one. I just lost my faith in their ability to adapt female characters and keep them well rounded, strong and believable, but to my surprise Captain Marvel was an amazing film.

I’ll keep this short and spoiler free but the plot worked great as an origin story, it’s set before Nick Fury has his famous eyepatch so you don’t need to worry about where it fits in the greater Marvel timeline. The main premise is that Captain Marvel has lost all her memories and is a cree soldier hunting down the shapeshifting Skrull race, during her encounter she ends up on earth and that’s where the fun happens.

Everyones dynamics worked, not only was this a great story but it was funny, serious and at some moments it got emotional. The elements of female empowerment seeped through but didn’t overwhelm and honestly I would 10/10 recommend it to everyone. I can’t wait to see how she fits into the next Avengers film as we now know her full strength and what she’s capable of.

Also it has two post credits scenes, so like every Marvel film, stay to the very end 🙂