2:37

An Australian film released in 2006, it is no spoiler when I tell you that a character commits suicide  at 2:37pm, during the school day.  The film opens with the discovery of the victim’s body, then we flash back to the start of the day, where we follow six seniors through their days, their trials and tribulations, until we discover, in the final moments of the film, who it was who died.

As a high school drama, it is easy to imagine a jungle where the taunts of bullies can be just as lethal as the attack of a tiger. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all seen the films, who exaggerate cliques  and stereotypes to an almost comical level.
Even if we haven’t experienced it, we know what it is to be the outcast; bullied for being different, having physical problems, or for being gay, the high achiever with overbearing parents, the one who goes through school invisible, the popular girl; controlling the only thing she can with an eating disorder or the kid escaping from his problems through the use of drugs.

As you watch 2:37, you will find yourself guessing who among them will be the teenager to meet theie tragic end. A horrible concept, I know, but you will not be able to avoid rating the teenagers’ problems, maybe even deciding which of them deserves to die, or which will be the weakest and finally give in. I’m guilty of this; from the onset, I’d decided who the victim would be. I even confess myself disappointed when I found out I was wrong…
It also shows how we can make the same mistakes in watching a movie as in real life. In the final moments the film flips back on itself quite brilliantly by demonstrating that you can never guess which teenager is prone to suicide as it is often the most ordinary among us who feel the most unnoticed and unloved. Believe me when I tell you that they only way someone can be sure of guessing the right victim, is to watch the film in a group, and each of you pick a character. The only thing you know for sure is that the victim isn’t the teacher who finds the body.

We’ve seen all of these things time and time again, but only in this film can I say that high school is portrayed with such… beauty. Probably the reason the film received a 17 minute standing ovation at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. One critic suggested that this film should be shown to every student in their final two years at Senior School, though this is impossible due to the rating it was given. Here is probably a good time to mention that there are two very, very graphic scenes. I’ve watched a lot, and not much on screen really makes me squirm. These two scenes, on the other hand, had me wincing, revolted at what I was seeing.

Some, on the other hand, believe the film is nothing more than a crass, half-hearted attempt at looking at teen suicide. Apparently it is a pathetic imitation of a film called Elephant. I haven’t seen that film, so cannot comment. They say it is a film that only brushes the surface of problems, embellishing them to the point where they seem unreal. And, you know what? That might be the case. I’m no film critic. All I did was watch a film, and it moved me enough to write a blog post about it.

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Student Living

A third of the way through my second year at Lancaster University, I have just completed my first fourteen weeks or so of living in a real house, following the previous year of living in halls. I cannot say, however, that it has been a success. Now, I’m a student. In such economic times, at £82 each a week, I’m not expecting miracles. But I like the idea of a warm house, one I won’t freeze to death in, one I won’t starve in. Reasonable, right? Wrong.

 

I go in with three other housemates, and come out with just two. Why? Well the fourth member of our house is still paying rent for her room, but is forced to live at her boyfriend’s house because of the mold covering a reasonably large portion of one of her walls.

The company we rent though, the University’s very own Students’ Union housing company, is aware of this problem, and has been since before the start of term.

The oven that came with the house is gas powered. We sometimes enter the kitchen to an interesting odor, as the flames below the grates upon which we cook our food, have gone out, with no apparent reason behind it. Constant observation is a given requirement, and, because the oven is incapable of heating itself up, given the amount of time it actually stays alight, We can be waiting a good few hours to even watch garlic bread heat up.

The company we rent though, the University’s very own Students’ Union housing company, is aware of this problem, and has been since before the start of term.

As the last member of the house to leave on Wednesday, I went around checking that all switches were off, all appliances, lights, etc. Note that the boiler counts. Now, the reason I do this task so meticulously is because, when originally turning off the lights, I notice an eerie blue glow coming from the kitchen. Entering said room, I realise that the back left hand hob (which is also gas powered) is still on, and has been since someone last used it, which I hazard a guess was at least seven days previous. Problem is that I cannot change this because the dial on the hob is, in fact, off. I turn the entire power off from the back. No fire. Strange smell. Noise of leaking gas. Yep, the thing is still spewing out poisonous substances because the dial is not one of the original dials made for the oven.

The company we rent though, the University’s very own Students’ Union housing company, is aware of this problem, and has been since before the start of term.

Finally, today, I find out that the oven has been replaced, after at least twelve solid weeks of complaints to our wonderful landlord company. I know this because one of my housemates went to the house to check to see if any parcels had arrived. Lo and behold. Our boiler is now broken. Within two days of my departure, and has been leaking water. I wonder how long it will take LUSU to get their fingers out this time and actually help us. In the mean time, anyone who has not yet got a house for 13/14 – my strong advice would be to avoid signing a contract without being fully aware of how little support you will receive from your landlords, bearing in mind that you cannot withhold any payment of rent on the grounds of their own insufficient care.

The World in Grey

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months you will undoubtedly have heard or seen or even read the phenomenon that is the Fifty Shades trilogy. I bought the first book in a WHSmith’s back before I knew what I was about to delve into and within the first paragraph, I joke you not, I had a strange sense of deja vu creep over me. This is because I had in fact already read this book. When it wasn’t a book. The Twilight fanfiction “Master of the Universe” was circled around many online communities following a search to find something which might be able to match the infamy of “My Immortal”, a beautifully written Harry Potter fanfiction. I seriously recommend this particular one to all. It is something to behold.

Anyway. I read “Master of the Universe” back when it was first written. The only thing I regret is that I paid £8 to buy the paperback of something where the only edits had been to change the names of the characters. I’m pretty sure anyone can work out who is who. The book itself, though poorly written to match its inspiration, isn’t all that awful. I didn’t read it wide-eyed and horrified at the graphic sex scenes portrayed. Because, bluntly, movies with a 12 rating can be worse. The lack of vulgar language makes the book not-so-pornographic, as the world seems to think it is.

 

What I find amusing about this, though, is that if you walk into any book shop in the country, you will find at least one shelf dedicated to the Fifty Shades series and all following books of the same theme. They’re easy to pick out with the symbolic keys or chains on the front covers. And each book is probably as dull as the next, with two dimensional characters who fit seamlessly into the prototypical Mary-Sues and Gary-Stus of the writing world. Because that’s all we want to read about.

The problem is that, and this is for any budding authors out there, the concept of a BDSM-esque novel is now just as mainstream as writing about a boy wizard who has to defeat the ultimate Dark Lord or die trying.

Another prime example is incest. “Flowers in the Attic”, when first released, was a scandal. Now, with the growing popularity of the “Game of Thrones” TV series, based upon “A Song of Ice and Fire”, it is still obscene, but people don’t seem to mind it as much. On the contrary, many writers are actually exploring the concept themselves. All we need now is a book to make “Lolita” obsolete.

 

The point I am trying to make is… soon enough, nothing will surprise us. And with that, nothing will excite us or pique our interest. When my parents watched Doctor Who, they were terrified by the sea monsters and would hide behind a couch. Now… children the same age watch it with bored expressions.

I wonder if there will come a day when parents take their children on safari, or to Niagra Falls… and they just shrug and turn away.

I now know what Hell is.

We’ve all watched the Matrix. All speculated on the possibility that it was real. We’ve all had the eccentric teachers who taught us little of what we were supposed to be learning, instead spending a few hours each week enlightening us about political and philosophical stances.

The teacher who did this for me was my Latin and Classics teacher, who taught me for five of the six years I was in that school. And, through her, I learnt more than on the curriculum. Mostly, I learnt how to think for myself and disagree with people. Even if I was trying to disagree with her and knew from the beginning that I would fail. It was worth a shot.

One of the most poignant memories I have from her classes are the plethora of times she told us that we didn’t exist. Or she didn’t exist. Or school didn’t exist. Or.. something didn’t exist. More often than not I left that class with my a headache and a complete desperation not to head over to Art, where, with nothing else to do, my brain would continue to mull over her words for an hour until I was little more than a mush of confusion. Sometimes, in a few rare moments, I could even agree with her. But then my mind would be changed almost instantly by logic.

It wasn’t until one night this week when I realised she could be right. I suppose it’s also relevant to mention that, as my Classics/Latin teacher, she was the one to tell me about the Underworld. About Tantalus, who tried to trick the gods into eating his children and was punished with an eternity of having food and water always out of his reach. And Sisyphus, who tried to out-do the gods, and was punished forever with rolling a boulder up the top of a hill, but when he almost reached it, it would fall back down and he’d have to start again.

And at the time I thought it was the fact that they experienced pain for eternity through exhaustion and starvation etc. But it’s not. Not in the slightest. That, if anything, is an incredibly easy thing to deal with compared to what Hell really is.

Hell? Hell is the momentary hope and relief that it’s almost over, followed by the crushing despair that that it never will be. It’s terror that the cycle continues forever. And the despair only has full impact when met with the hope.

My theory… is that this is everyone’s fate. and perhaps fate is the wrong word, because I believe that we are already locked in this cycle, and the years that we spend here on earth are but a momentary release from pain before we tumble back down into the abyss. No matter what we do, we will never be deserving of anything else. Never so grateful for what we have because we can never remember the pain of the cycle. So you know what? It really is a gift that we have. Life may be short, and it may be shit. But it’s the best you’re gonna get. Forgive, forget and love. Don’t waste it on hate and anger. You have a whole eternity to deal with that later.

Determinism

There is this whole massive debate about whether the world is deterministic or whether it is based on free will. See, if the world was based on determinism, that is to say that no one has any free will, that our lives are planned out exactly, that the date of our death is set in stone just as our birth date is, then no one can be held accountable for anything. So if a murderer, well… murders someone, then technically we cannot blame them, as what he did was already  and he had no choice but to do it, therefore the justice system is kind of screwed.

This argument brings me back to religion (I brought it up in an earlier post), people say that the one gift God gave us was that of free will, but Christians would have no choice but to say that wouldn’t they? Because if they decide that the world is deterministic, then they are basically contradicting their belief in God. Because that means that God purposely told Adam and Eve not to eat for the apple tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden, but he would have known that they were going to do it anyway because it was part of their linier lives. So he threw them out of the Garden because they had done something he had destined them to do. That seems wrong doesn’t it?

But determinism makes people blameless for all the things they do, I think that’s a really nice idea, that I should not hate certain people in mt life… and they should not hate me. But I guess determinism cannot affect people’s emotions or feelings towards each other. Or… maybe it can. If you fall in love with someone, they fall in love with you, they screw you over, you begin to hate them.. that’s ALL determined. The relationship was doomed from the off because of some sadistic higher power.

In that vein, I really do hate the idea of determinism. I like knowing that not everything that goes wrong in my life isn’t my fault, but that it isn’t anyone else’s fault either. What I hate is that, if determinism was real, I would be blamed for things that I have no control over. Because someone up in the clouds decided what I was going to do, what I was going to say, and how people around me were going to react to it.

And I wish it weren’t true, but nigh on everyone who reads this (there aren’t many of you) will have some personal experience you can relate this post to. This is why I cannot believe in a higher power. How can something(s) be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient… so that he/she/it/they knows when we are about to do something wrong, will be around to stop it and have the power to, but gives us the free will to make so many colossal fuck ups?

**SPOILER ALERT***

Maybe the Engineers have it right. And we do get powerful enough we all need to die. ’cause otherwise our mistakes would be irreversible.

Things I Should Say

Coming to the end of my first year at university… and what a year it’s been! Ups and downs, overs and unders… sidewayses… and other words that I can make up. People have asked me for posts about themselves… and to be honest I haz nothing to say about anyone in particular. So here’s a list of people I love/like/am apathetic to/dislike (srsly):

Adam Fun days in town…

Alex – Fish are not children.

Alice You are everything. Or part of it.

Cath Fox hunting vegetarian?

Charlie Steph loves me more.

Charlotte I’m in love with a fictional character…

Charlotte Rainbow Dash. ‘Nuff said.

Chris You’re part of the Royal Family.

Dan Hop on.

George Two words: monthly cycle. 🙂

Hayden No words. You’re the rest.

Heather You have to call me Ma’am.

Heather Thanks for stealing my innocence o.O

Jacob Shadow is black. Sonic is blue.

Jacob Come back nao.

Jenn

Jennifer *wind blowing*

Katherine Paint you a picture?

Kerry It all looks like Star Wars.

Kit Guess what? I know who you are.

Laura Red Hawks at Midnight. Crash on the White writer favourite… 8.

Maddy Have an apple.

Michael Housewarming gift of a cat one day ^.^

Mike  Stop being an idiot.

Pam – Game.

Rob You’ll always be full of fail.

Sam I can haz hat?

Sam  Waar be guitar lessons? o.O

Shiny Sister, sister, sister. ❤

Steph Leave Charlie for moi o.O

Tom My Guardian Fairy/Circling Shark thing. 

Tom Keep scavenging for wood at 4am.

Zak Half a right incline?

The Land Before Time…

…is a series of animated feature length films produced by (mainly) Steven Spielburg and George Lucas. Spielburg initially came up with the concept after his huge hit of Jurassic Park, which his children were too young to watch at the time of release. The film follows five young dinosaurs on their terrifying adventures across a barren Earth in search of the “Great Valley”, where they hope they will find their remaining families.

Watching this as a child of six or so I instantly fell in love with it. And then loved the sequels that followed it’s immediate success even more, because of their musical numbers, which gave hours of entertainment to my sister and me. Smiley face. I am proud to say that, even though the last installment of the thirteen films came out when I was fifteen, I have watched them all. And have no shame in admitting that I would watch them again today if offered.

I actually downloaded the original film (yes, downloaded. I would have streamed it but I have an overbearing friend who’s very against me streaming, so he found me the link to download it (consequently when you read this, I’d like the link again pweeze).) a few months ago and watched it. Many tears were shed. The plot, if you have not watched it, is.. a bit like The Lord of the Rings in that there is a hell of a lot of walking. Four of the dinosaurs (all of different herbivorous species) are lead by a brontosaurus, who loses his mother at the beginning of the film. As a child I did not find this concept heart-breaking, like I did not cry at Bambi or The Lion King. As most children believe, I thought my mother would live forever. I obviously had a very small emotional range as a child. Now, though, I could not sit through this film without crying beginning, middle and end. The entire thing is just so depressing. It takes the meaning of  emo-child to a who new level as we follow the protagonist, Littlefoot, on his aimless wandering for the first 20 minutes of the film.

Having said that, there is a reason why the film was a huge success. It is brilliant and I am shocked to know so few who have actually seen its wonder. I implore all to watch.

I think one thing that now makes it so sentimental for me is how, as a child, I didn’t have Sky TV, so could never watch any of the television shows the kids in school would always talk about, until I went to visit my grandparents for the weekend, where my siblings and I would soak up as much of Boomerang and CartoonNetwork as physically possible in the hours we were allowed to be up for. One thing that was always for certain, though, was that my grandfather would have made sure to record every single episode of The Land Before Time for my sister and me. He even recorded one last year, just because he saw that it was on TV, and thought I would like to watch it. Down in County Bar today, when discussing animated films, I remembered this. And I smiled to myself. I have a really great grandfather.

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