A Letter To My Fifteen Year Old Self

Hey,

It’s me, or rather, you, from the future. Put down the star trek fan fiction, we need to talk. I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, you having fuller lips won’t be as bad as you think. Sure, you get made fun of it for now, but in about ten years, it will be fashionable, and both men and women will pay tons of money for surgery and lip glosses that promise the plump pout you are currently embarrassed of. I mean, it will be favoured on white women over you, but it’s something.

Don’t bother fucking about with your eyebrows either, because it isn’t worth the effort. Thicker brows will be fashionable too, and let’s be real, you can’t handle pain, so waxing, plucking or threading really will never be an option for us. Now I’ve typed all that, I’m concerned that they may be out again. Luckily for you, you learn, over time, not to care anyway. They’re just eyebrows.

Onto some bad news, but with a hint of good news. You will never “grow into your nose”, and you won’t learn how to contour it away either. However, you will one day learn to accept that your face would completely change if it was different, and that is a reminder of your heritage, and you will realise the importance of keeping your past close to you, because it’s a lonely, fucked up world, and sometimes, all you will have is yourself, so it will be comforting to be able to remember where you came from. You are a concoction of so many different places and people, and that is something to be proud of, so don’t be ashamed that you look different, because that’s fine.

You’ve spent your whole life feeling like you didn’t fit in, and a lot of people around you contributed to that. A lot of kids picked on you, and called you weird or ugly. Some were even racist, which is fucked up and you’ll probably still think about it for a long time, but don’t hold onto your anger for them. It doesn’t help you, and it won’t change them. You are responsible for you. You can’t make everyone good. You survived, and that’s all that matters. Maybe they grew up to be better people by themselves, maybe they didn’t, I don’t know, because I’m busy doing my own thing, but I wish I (or you), had learned to do that sooner.

2017, which is where I am now, is going to be weird as fuck, and you should prepare for that as best you can. You’ve seen some pretty weird and fucked up things already, so I wish I didn’t have to tell you it gets worse, but I do, and I’m sorry about that. It turns out you were right about Tony Blair, but you were wrong about Kevin Spacey. You were very, very wrong about Kevin Spacey. You will discover that sometimes, evil can be hidden by nice things, and nice gestures, and a nice face, and you will never stop being astounded and disgusted by it. You will never really learn to be aloof or unsurprised by supposedly good people turning out to be awful, but maybe that’s a good thing. You were also wrong about Seamus Heaney, but he isn’t a sex offender like Kevin Spacey (probably should have mentioned that in more detail earlier, sorry), he’s just a better writer than your jealous teenage self was willing to acknowledge, and at some point, you will find it within yourself to admit that you only dislike him because he has a nobel prize, and you don’t (yet). There is still time for you, and you don’t have to dislike people because they have achieved things you haven’t, especially when you are literally still in school, and haven’t even finished your exams. He’s 53 years older than you, so it is to be expected that he will achieve things you want, before you do. Give yourself a chance to grow, and you’ll do all those things too. With this in mind, you can also stop hating about 45% of celebrities and public figures that you don’t like, because the same thing applies. You have plenty of time to collect trophies, sign books and perform.

On the bright side, there will be a new Star Trek series, with a black female lead, and a better chance of not being cancelled like enterprise, but to enjoy that, you first have to endure a Tory government, leaving the European Union, and an absolute bastard being the president of the US.

I probably should have done those one at a time, but it’s important that you understand something. Many of those things happened because of voter apathy, and I know that right now, you’re super hype for politics and desperate to vote, but in about three years, that enthusiasm will die, and one man is responsible. When you were (or are) eighteen, you will vote for the liberal democrats, because Nick Clegg makes a lot of promises. Nick Clegg will then form a coalition with the conservatives and the effects will be devastating to the country, and to you too. It will break your heart. You will lose complete faith in politicians, and it will take a long time to get it back. You get your groove back after seeing Nicola Sturgeon in a debate during the 2015 election, and will reluctantly return to the Labour roots you were raised on, because it’s the closest thing to the SNP in England (I mean, it isn’t really, but it’s the best you can do), so if we ever get a chance to do 2010 again, save yourself some heartache and just vote labour or green. It doesn’t actually matter how you vote really, in the bigger picture, because you’re registered to vote in a safe Tory seat, but it might make you personally feel better. The moral of that story is, people might let you down, specifically politicians, but not all of them are the same and many of them do want to help. Don’t give up and definitely use your vote, and encourage others to do the same, no matter how annoying it makes you feel, because people not voting led to most of 2017.

Speaking of men in 2010 who will break your heart, there will be a man that you meet on a tube train, on New Year’s Eve, he will make lots of promises and tell you so many nice things, but he will ruin your life for about two years, and to be completely honest, you’ll still be slightly broken in 2017, and maybe further on, I don’t know yet, so again, if we get the chance to do 2010 again, don’t talk to anyone on the tube. It’s frowned on anyway, regardless of how Northern your upbringing was. Keep your mouth shut and read a book in uncomfortable silence, like everyone else.

Back to how fucked up 2017 is. You will be devastated by the result of the EU referendum, and will briefly consider desperately attempting to get Spanish citizenship and leaving the UK forever. I don’t know if the UK will actually leave now, because it’s currently a bit of a clusterfuck, but whatever happens, you will be okay, and the UK isn’t so bad (at least, some parts of it, anyway). Please remember to speak English in public at all times, for your own safety, because some people will go nuts and be unrelentingly xenophobic after the referendum, but keep to yourself, and don’t talk to strangers, especially in Spanish, and you’ll probably be fine. You will have to stop pretending not to speak English to avoid gross men, as this could get you into way more trouble than before, and you may feel like this place isn’t your home anymore, but there are places where you will still feel like you belong, so hold onto that.

Donald Trump becomes president. This doesn’t directly effect you all that much, but you will hate it all the same. For a while, you will feel there is no good left in the world, but there is, I promise. You just have to look harder to find it, these days. Oh, and you will later discover that he, like many people in 2017, is the absolute fucking worst, and you will no longer feel guilty about your angry blog posts about him taking up space at Wrestlemania.

You won’t be a Broadway star, like you wanted, not in 2017 anyway, but weirdly enough, Broadway World, a website where you spent most of your childhood, writes an article about one of your books this year, so that’s a nice consolation prize. You will go to university, though, like you wanted, and you’ll be a writer, which you’re just getting interested in now as I remember. You also dip back into music, and a song you compose gets thousands of streams on Spotify. I’m aware you don’t know what that means yet, or what Spotify is, but basically, thousands of people hear your music, and that’s pretty fucking cool. It’s like music downloads, except you will get way less money in royalties, so we aren’t exactly living fancy yet, but I’m working on it.

You are currently sad. I remember it so well, and I wish I could tell you that everything magically gets better, but it doesn’t. You’ll later be diagnosed with depression, and you’ll be resistant as fuck to it, because you’re used to helping the people around you with their own stuff, and it will be hard to accept that you need help to, but take it, because it doesn’t make you weak.

Depression isn’t your only problem. I know this is all pretty bleak, and I’ll stick more goodness in this soon, but I’m just writing it as it comes. You will go through many things that will make you question who you are, and will make you feel like life isn’t worth it, this will of course not be helped by the depression you are not yet currently aware that you have, but even without depression, it’s a lot to go through. You survive. That’s all I can promise. I can’t tell you it won’t hurt, but I can tell you that you survive.

Your handwriting never gets any better, by the way, but you have a very impressive typing speed, so stop worrying about that. You will barely write by hand once you leave sixth form anyway, and you will have the convenient excuse of never writing by hand, because you want to save the planet from deforestation. To be real, though, I think people are aware that you’re just really bad at writing by hand, but many people you meet are too polite to say so.

Right now, you think you’re very smart and mature, because you listen to radio 4, and read the Guardian, but you still have lots to learn, and realistically, you’re a very young fifteen, at least emotionally. I really wish we got a second shot at 2010, or any of the years actually, because there is so much we could do differently. There is so much you didn’t know, and so much that I can’t protect you from, that still haunts me to this day, but realistically, I can’t. We can’t. All that we can do is be thankful that we made it this far, and keep going.

Your survival is all that matters. Things will be tough. Things will be devastating. You will get your heart broken (no bones though, so we still hold that record), you will be disappointed, you will feel like a failure, but you will live on and you will feel joy, and passion, and pride, and you will survive.

Whatever happens, keep fucking going. You may not get exactly what you want, and things might feel hopeless some days, but you survive, and that’s all you can do sometimes.

As I write this right now, you are happyish. Things are okay. You’re currently waiting for your new music video to process through editing software, and trying to pass the time, by saying hello to the girl you once were. You had a decent night of sleep last night, despite being caught in traffic for ages. You look a bit of a mess because you didn’t put on make up this morning, but you’re still cute, and most importantly, you are still fucking here.

Besos,

J x

PS. You don’t learn to swear less, and around 2012, you stop putting it on your new year’s resolution list, because it just isn’t fucking realistic. Sorry.


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The best and worst of Horror on UK Netflix

Hola amigos!

As usual, I’ve been watching many diabolical things, in an attempt to discover something that frightens me more than the prospect of Brexit, and my streaming service of choice is Netflix. Netflix has a lot to offer, but tends to lack a lot of key horror titles, but I’m here to take you through some of the best horrors I could find, and some that you’re better off avoiding.


The Best

The Invitation

The_Invitation_(2015_film)_POSTER

A very convincing argument for never speaking to your ex again.

The Invitation is what I will show anyone that tries to convince me that my policy of completely erasing exes from my life is self destructive. Our hero, Will arrives at his gorgeous former home with his new girlfriend, for dinner with his ex wife. It is quickly revealed that the pain of their young son’s death caused Will and his wife to divorce.

Of course, people handle things in different ways, and at different paces, and to the rest of the world, Will’s ex wife Eden seems to be moving forward in her life, but underneath her smile and equally smiley husband (a sure sign that something is wrong in horror, would be an abundance of smiling) lies a very dark truth to how Eden has recovered so well.

Without spoiling too much (I know, I always do that!), The Invitation really looks at the idea of whether we as people are every truly capable of knowing each other, and knowing the true capabilities of those around us, as well as giving a definitive answer to whether the past really should remain in the past (brief spoiler alert, it definitely should).

Black Mirror

black mirror jennifer juan

The future is bright, but it scares the shit out of me.

Now, some wouldn’t consider Black Mirror to be horror, but I personally would. Perhaps not all of it is horrific (San Junipero says hello, and I’m crying all over again), but there are many horror aspects, and so one could argue it is a horror anthology, and, well, I am.

One of the most frightening parts of Black Mirror is coming face to face with how truly awful we have the potential to be. Why fear ghosts and creatures when monsters are walking past us every day, right? Charlie Brooker has succeeded in showing the reality of every day life and human nature, and how it can lead to chaos, destruction, and unfortunate pig related incidents.

I’d personally say that my favourite episodes were “National Anthem” and “Playtest” but I’ve never finished an episode and felt unsatisfied, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them all.

Shutter

Shutter08poster jennifer juan

More trouble with exes..

Now, I’ve been very vocal about how disappointing western remakes of eastern horror can be (Death Note, I’m looking at you), but Shutter is definitely one of the better ones.

As Ben and his new wife Jane travel to Tokyo to start their new life as a married couple, they think nothing could go wrong. This is a horror movie, and so, of course, they are wrong. The trouble begins when Jane hits a girl with their car, and the girl vanishes without a trace.

They try, as people in horror movies often do, to forget about the situation and move on with their lives, but of course, that just isn’t going to happen, as Ben’s photographs begin to show signs of spirit photography, leading Jane to begin unravelling the mystery of Megumi Tanaka, and the horrific truth of her connection to the newlyweds.

As mentioned, it is one of the better adaptations of an eastern horror, and will certainly deliver more scares with less lazy crossover writing than some of it’s peers.

The Mist

The_Mist_title_card jennifer juan

Dreams, after all, are insubstantial things, like mist itself.

With the recent release of It, many of us will be looking for something Stephen King related to continue the scares after watching, and The Mist is the perfect option. The movie adaptation is a favourite among many horror fans, for it’s terrifying visuals, and breathtakingly bleak ending, and the television series does a great job of continuing the universe of King’s original story.

I must admit, I was hesitant to begin watching the show, as The Mist genuinely troubled me when I watched it, many years ago, on Sky Movies, when my mum was out of the house and couldn’t stop me, but I’m very glad that I put my self inflicted childhood trauma aside and gave it a chance.

With an impressive cast, and the opportunity to delve further into the story than the movie adaptation, it is definitely an enjoyable show for fans of Stephen King, and honestly, anybody else.


The Worst

Unfriended

Unfriended_2015_teaser_poster jennifer juan

Please, little girl, take this lollipop…

Unfriended was an ambitious idea, and so I will give them credit for that. Focusing the entire audience perspective on social media is certainly original, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was the right step. I applaud the originality but I feel the movie relied on that gimmick too much, and didn’t give proper attention to character development.

One of the key things with horror, is creating characters that people care about. If you I don’t care about the characters, why should I care when they die, or get damned to hell, or eaten, or whatever you’re doing to them. One of the curses of modern horror is reliance on jump scares or quirky gimmicks, to cover up that a story doesn’t make sense, or the characters are poorly developed, and Unfriended is definitely guilty of that.

I suppose the message of “Don’t cyber bully” is nice to see in a mainstream movie, but I couldn’t really get past how weak the writing was, and so the message was lost, for me.

The Green Inferno

The_Green_Inferno_poster jennifer juan

We get it, Eli, you’re really edgy.

If you’re ready for more poorly developed, unlikable characters, then you may enjoy The Green Inferno.

Now, as many of you may know, I am not the biggest fan of Eli Roth (although, I did think Hostel was great), and so perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but honestly, for someone who is hailed as one of the brightest stars in the horror genre, I expect better, and The Green Inferno was a massive disappointment.

I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the most annoying parts of The Green Inferno, for me, was the mess of messages for the audience. It was so difficult to pin down who I was supposed to sympathise with, or if I was even supposed to care at all. A lot of the time, it felt like it tried to emulate the message of Cannibal Holocaust (We think that indigenous people are savages, but WE are the savages), but they also shoved a whole bunch of 4chan worthy shit on top that it was lost. We get it, Eli, you’re really edgy. We get it.

One of my problems with The Green Inferno was that, while admittedly it was a homage to Italian cannibal movies, and so would naturally have similarities to many existing ones, including Roth’s blatant main muse, Cannibal Holocaust, it didn’t feel like Roth did anything new with the genre, or the resources available to him. It felt like the kind of thing kids would make on windows movie maker, for a GCSE media class, but with a bigger budget, rather than feeling like a movie made in tribute, but with original thoughts and ideas behind it, so the whole thing just came off as lazy.

The only interesting or slightly likeable characters turned out to be the tribe, and so I wasn’t too bothered as they picked off most of the characters I was meant to be rooting for.

Roth also got overly defensive, when accused by Survival International of continuing to give a platform to negative stereotypes about indigenous people, saying “The idea that a fictional movie about a fictional tribe could somehow hurt indigenous people when gas companies are tearing these villages apart on a daily basis is simply absurd.”

I get defending things you create, to a point, but this seems like a case of a creative never having had to face major criticism before, maybe because the entire genre they dominate keeps telling them how clever they are, and how special they are, and then getting defensive when confronted with genuine criticism, because it hurts their ego.

He went on to say “The fear that somehow a movie would give them ammunition to destroy a tribe all sounds like misdirected anger and frustration that the corporations are the ones controlling the fates of these uncontacted tribes.”

The fact is, dehumanisation of marginalised people is what keeps them marginalised, and this is partly done by the media and entertainment industry, so, yes, while the movie didn’t drive the whole world to attack uncontacted tribes, it is part of the fabric of their dehumanisation, and to say that these things don’t influence or vindicate prejudiced people, who kill people who stand in the way of profit, is naive at best, and ignorant at worst, because they are only able to kill those people, because they have been so dehumanised that they no longer see them as people. Attacks on indigenous people are still a reality and while I wouldn’t say writers and film makers should never touch on subjects like this, they should at least try and be responsible, and not act like people being offended by their bad treatment of sensitive topics is unfair.

Eli Roth is a grown man, a grown man of 45 fucking years old. If he’s grown enough to make his little cannibal movie, he should be grown enough to defend it without shouting down people’s opinions, and throwing a tantrum because people don’t “get” him, and actually confront his work with criticism.


Besos,

J x

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Jeremy Corbyn, naked and alone.

The sky is falling,
afraid of heights,
her throat is scorched from screams,
by the time her brains
paint the pavement.
Mother May wants to talk about Jeremy Corbyn,
naked and alone.

The floor has cracked,
and ripped rib from rib,
lungs lick the street,
abandoned by air.
Mother May wants to talk about Jeremy Corbyn,
naked and alone.

The dead have risen,
feasting on the remains,
the anthem ignored,
by humanity munching its mess.
Mother May wants to talk about Jeremy Corbyn,
naked and alone.


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Enemy Of The State

You’re right, it isn’t my country,
despite swapping states,
like I used to swap Pokémon cards,
and completing the assimilation game,
without cheat codes.

“Uncertainty is excellent,
all is well.”
Says ageing, expat, pop star scum.

I’ve never stolen anything,
but the hearts of a few,
and even then,
I returned them, with interest.
I still can’t shop without being watched,
I’m hoping my private reality show is cancelled, soon.

He’s right, this isn’t my country ,
despite all I’ve given.
I wanted to be just like you, once,
or at least the you on sale in gift shops.

Tea, Oxbridge pleasantries,
it isn’t real,
and now, neither am I,
despite the very real passport in my possession,
that is happy to claim me as one of your own.

I only want to own myself,
and walk the streets,
hopeful, as you do.

I do not go where I am not allowed,
I’ve never taken life,
but I hope to give it.
All I take is what I earn,
and I’m open to sharing.

“Imaginary independence is excellent,
all is well.”
Says banker of the people, yet peoplesceptic scum.

They’re right, this was never my country.
I am too changed for my old home,
and never enough for my new home.

This is not what I hoped to leave,
for the next me,
who is refusing to enter,
for fear she will be forced to leave,
or worse, forced to stay, unwanted.

Go home?
I will, if you’ll just let me pass.
It’s just up the street,
I’ve got a garden, with poppies,
not even just to assimilate,
and my Abuela will wonder where I’ve got to,
whether I address her in English or not.

I know, this isn’t my country.
Although, I have to ask,
why is my word only as good as the language it comes in?

“I don’t know what I ever did wrong,
nothing is well.”
Says the one the rags and rabble call scum,
but she is something to somebody,
I am something to somebody,
my only crime was being brown.


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Sincerely, Jennifer x

Darling Dawn


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