Matt Damon’s Non-issue Issue

For some reason, whenever someone has a smear campaign agenda against a famous person, it is mostly more successful when it goes on about people from the entertainment industry rather than about politicians.  

Case in point with the recent mishaps of one Matt Damon. You might have heard of him, he has been in a couple of films.

You might’ve also heard about the alleged “white privilege” statements he came up with, most recently the statement about how homosexual actors shouldn’t come out publicly as such. Only that he never said such a thing, ever. It is incredibly frustrating when the same thing keeps on being drilled into people’s brains, article after article. I mean, it is in the Guardian, so it must be right, right?

Well, no.

Let me tell you something about modern media. They rely a lot on the amount of clicks and shares their articles will accumulate. Every online-based media has a massive use of click-bait articles they share on their Facebook page, or hope that the vocal minority will share them on their Facebook newsfeeds. I say “vocal minority” because a lot of those pieces have mass-appealing, populist titles and undertones. Some of them won’t even reflect the majority of the actual content of the rest of media, but hey-ho. Mo clicks, mo money.

But let’s get back to Mr Damon’s case. The article that “triggered” me (and I am a white cis female, so I am always triggered, according to some) was one comparing James Dean’s short-spanning career and his constant silence about his personal life to Matt Damon’s statement that it would be better if artists didn’t share their personal life and sexuality. The issue with this comparison is that is full of shit, but the lovely writers round at decided to go with the Damon-ising flow instead of using some analytical skills and realise that of all comparisons they could go with, that one is exactly the one that supports Damon’s statement.

Let me explain.

The direct quote that he used that is very much misquoted by this point is “You’re a better actor the less people know about you period. Sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.” Now I don’t claim that if you are a 12-year-old Tumblr-fuelled straw feminist, you won’t see a problem with that statement. But leaving these people aside, what Damon is actually saying, and by that I mean actually, literally taken from his mouth is that we live in day and age when people still pay attention to your personal life if you happen to be somewhere on the relative scale of fame. Unfortunately, many people do get typecast regardless of whether they want to or not. Steve Carell is a very good example for this. He is a brilliant comic and many don’t know he is also a brilliant dramatic actor.

Same goes for sexuality. You get someone like Neil Patrick Harris who everybody knows as that raging womaniser in How I Met Your Mother – but also as a fabulously gay person in real life. His other infamous heterosexual role is in American Horror Story: Freakshow. In both series his characters’ sexuality is enhanced by abnormal circumstances. He either has female issues or “Mommy” issues. In short, in either cases he would’ve been Sigmund Freud’s favourite subject to study. While this is certainly not a case only with gay actors playing straight characters but certainly raises questions about a the characters’ sexuality. 

James Dean was the rebel without a cause. Back in the 50s, when everybody was cis and white, he was openly avoiding being labeled as such – albeit all the public relationships he was in, and even though he never revealed anything about his sexuality. Even now, whenever someone comes out as a LGBTQI, it immediately reaches the news. It is a thing for a while. People start associating you with it, and especially if you are male. And again unfortunately, 60 years ago a revelation like this would’ve been a disaster. A career breaker and potentially, a life ruiner. I am willing to argue with anyone that nowadays James Dean would have been asked questions, and he would have answered with the modern viewframe of someone living in 2015. And maybe it won’t be the dealbreaker that it would have been more than half a century ago, but stereotyping is still ingrained into our culture. Asians are always smart. Katherine Heigl will always be in a dumb romantic comedy. Dwayne Johnson will always be The Rock, even when in a silly babysitter film.

This is what Matt Damon is getting at. If actors are not constantly pressured into having to reveal their sexual preferences, if someday this society turns into one where no one really actually cares about the type of genitals people want (or don’t want) to look at. In that day actors will be performers. They will play whatever role they can master, stretching their skills to whichever level they can and want. And of course, if now you want to “come out” as gay, lesbian, macho, reptile or a brony, please – by all means do. But don’t pretend that this won’t put you in some stereotype by people whose entire industry is supported on stereotyping anything that is perceived as The Other, ie a non-fair skinned cis male.

Finally, I have one question to all of you. All you know about Matt Damon is what he has stated in interviews, that he is married and has children. Can you for all certainty claim that he is in fact a straight male?

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“Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.
I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.
‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion’. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

-Salman Rushdie, Author of The Satanic Verses

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Stockholm syndrome

I finally figured it, almost a week after I came back, I figured out why it’s been a very emotional (in Sophie’s words) return, why I just want to hide away and had absolutely no joy in talking to my mother about Stockholm.

It’s the first time in years – and I can even pinpoint the moment down to days – since I’ve been so calm and content about being somewhere. Just switching off everything, leaving all the things and people behind. Nothing and no one matters but walking down the narrow Stockholm streets or avoiding the crowds in the touristy bits, or laughing with Dick over whatever stupid happened that night. I need that, I really need it and I thought I deserved it, but it’s never enough, is it?

Stockholm was brilliant though. Sunny but cold, in simple shapes and all block colours. Hipsters running around pubs on Friday and the bartenders at the pool pub mocking Dick for not wanting me to stay for longer. The high bar tables, the almost broken nose, the damp afternoon grass in the park. The textures on the walls, the beer bottles everywhere, the best damn muffins in the world. The nude dude with the lute. The lift incident. Running after trains. The sounds of the city from the water edge.

I need more.

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When there’s nothing left to say

The end of the year approaches, and most of us are swept by thinking about and evaluating the last 365 days, and figuring out what to do next. That really is OK. I used to be one of those guys but not anymore. New Year’s resolutions are no more fun and they give me nothing to hold on to throughout the year to come. I instead have spent the last days planning my drunk New Year’s speech, just so my intoxicated brain has a backdrop for the sentences its going to create.

There is something else I have done though, and that was figuring out my general life direction after the graduation. Graduations are usually great time to get drunk, be cheer and appreciate the last 4 years of your life as not having been completely in vain. So this is what I did. After I got that piece of paper (oops, goatskin), I tried to figure out the actual lessons I learned during my first years in Glasgow.


So here they are, my list of valuable life lessons that have been more helpful than I’ve ever thought:

1. Always carry a pen with you
2. Nothing trumps the taste of Irn Bru in a glass bottle
3. Not everything that happens needs to be recorded and not everything that is recorded needs to be published
4. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups
5. You really, really don’t have to be always strong .
6. Money is good. Money pays for you to explore your creativity. Also for food.
7. Work your arse off, in every aspect of life. Give your best. It’s totally worth it in the end (and even if others don’t appreciate it – *you* will know)
8. “Banal ideas cannot be saved by beautiful execution.” – Sol LeWitt
9. Do whatever makes you happy (as long as it doesn’t hurt other).
10. Do not ignore the importance of the right song at the right time.

Now last days of the year, and the only thing we have left is to get drunk, dance our asses off and tell 2013 to get the fuck out.

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a few thoughts on sasha grey’s the juliette society

I have never hidden my fascination with Sasha Grey. I follow her on twitter and instagram, and read her articles around the net. If you don’t know who Sasha Grey is (poor yous), SG in a nutshell is that she used to be a porn star, then stopped, but never really got far away from any sex subjects, which is OK in my book. She knows her sex, and she likes what she does, she has that rare passion that a majority of her former colleagues don’t share. I like how she is part of that wave of mainstream porn stars (James Deen, Stoya, etc) who have come up to show the rest of the world that being in porno is not shameful, and that they are having great fun, but also doing shitloads of work. Entertainment business is pish.

So I don’t know why I was so surprised when I started reading her début novel The Juliette Society, that it was all about sex. I mean, I was pretty aware that sex will definitely be involved, but my god, so much details made me blush while reading it. By myself. In my own room. I was blushing. And that is definitely a good thing. With all the 50 Shades of Grey bullshit, the world really needed an actual Grey to come and tell everybody how good sex works – and everybody should listen carefully and take notes. It is clearly visible where Sasha Grey’s strength lays in.

The problem with the novel is that it often doesn’t know whether it wants to be an erotic novel, a thriller, a melodrama, or a philosophical essay. It has parts of everything, and it’s all very well written, but not in the best combination possible. First you’ll get a lengthy and very distracting description of a sex orgy, and two pages later you’ll stumble upon a voluminous gathering of thoughts over the symbolism in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Information is not well spread throughout the pages, and is sometimes hard to swallow. Some of the characters, questions and issues remain unsolved by the end of the book, and that could be annoying, to say the least. Did Marcus really have sex with Anna? Did he kill her? Did Bob kill her? Did Bob kill anybody at all, or he was just a pure moron? Was I the only person who figured out midway that Bob was the masked hot stranger? And other questions that bug my mind.

It’s just frustrating to finish a book that has so much potential but it’s lost you because of the terrible quick end.

Having said all of that, I did enjoy the novel as a whole, and I don’t regret the £4 I paid for it. There are moments I’ll definitely remember and there are one or two things that I learned along the way. It would’ve been the perfect summer read, if it didn’t come out end of August. And I’ll keep following Grey on twitter, and enjoy the shit out of her face, and I really hope she finds a slightly better editor for her next writing endeavour.

PS. Was I also the only one to imagine her as the main character all the time?

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Neli and the online dating

I’ll just go ahead and admit that I have an account at an online dating site, and not that it has ever been a massive secret since I use my real pictures and all, but it’s still a semi-big thing. Most of the reactions I got were a variation of “But you are so good-looking!” Nowadays it feel like the topic of online dating is as taboo as it is to say that you are lonely. And the two things are seriously connected. Bear with me, this is going to be a long-ish post.

There is a good reason why online dating is considered alien to many people. I am among the children of the generation when internet itself was alien. I remember my parents telling me multiple times not to share any personal information with strangers in chat rooms, nor to arrange meetings with them. But then, that was more than a decade ago. Chatting was dodgy as fuck, you really never knew who was on the other side of the screen. I clearly realised that, as I had witnessed and participated in too many mock-chats when a group of my sister’s friends would gather round the computer after dark and present themselves as a, say, 17-year-old hot blond chick who is willing to meet guys at 11pm, and she would be wearing a white short skirt and a red thong. Yes, the guys (and me, actually) would go into such details. Now that was fun cause it was harmless. Just high-schoolers trying to have some fun at the expense of some poor fucker who’d go chasing after imaginary 17-year-old hot blondes. And trust me, hot 17-year-olds rarely arranged dates over the internet.

But that was many years ago.

Now it’s different. Sure, there still are dodgy chat rooms but in our day and age you should be more aware than ever about the dangers of hanging out on such places. However, a couple of days, when I told a friend of mine about my account, her reaction was that I was so brave for meeting people I know from the internet. I get her point and her worries but it comes as a no-brainer that it’s ultimately a thousand times safer to meet with a stranger at the pub than to be introduced to a stranger at a party and bring him home.

I also want to briefly tackle the issue with “beauty”. OK, I’m good looking, fine. But what does that have to do with anything? Many other people I view there are quite good looking as well. Of course there are plenty of creepy, dodgy guys with crooked smiles, or just people who are unattractive but sound like nice people. Also, there are the “nice guys” but I shall talk about them in another post. The point I’m trying to make is that online dating has gone ages ago past the “only uglies have accounts”. It’s not about the inability to score on a night out – mostly. It’s about timing. It’s about modern life. It’s about working long weird hours at a time and being too tired to go to the pub. Or to go to the pub purely to meet your pals – and only this, because all you want is a couple of pints and your bed.

And it’s also about loneliness. If any of you ever tells me that they’ve never felt lonely in their life, I’d call massive bullshit. It’s beyond me why people find loneliness intimidating to mention. What would other people think about them? Will they be perceived as needy, or too much complaining? Do they not have friends and family to spend time with? Of course they do. Of course we do. Of course I do. But my friends can’t make me orgasm. They won’t hold my hand on the street, or let me fall asleep on their chest. Can I survive without any, and all, of this? Yes, I can. But if I am given the opportunity – this opportunity being online dating websites – why shouldn’t I try to find someone interesting who would share my interests, regardless of whether it’s going to last for a week, 5 months, forever, or just a night?

So, with all that said, people – please, just go and explore yourselves and each other, and have tremendous fun with your stuff, and most of all – please let me and everyone else just explore our options, for better or for worse.


Soon: Neli vs the guys

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deadlines and charity bike challenge

In the words of that great guy Johnny Knoxville,

“That’s it, it’s over. We should probably head to the bar now.”.

My educational round is over (bar the postgrad which may or may not happen some day in the future), welcome the real world at 22, in a new country that is not new anymore, with a new job starting the day after my graduation (talk about symbolism), new future flat and new things that need to be experienced. Am I terrified? Of course I am. Am I excited? Fucking fuck yeah, I am. I think that makes me officially the first person in the family to stay abroad – excluding my sister who will do it as well, but is still under the ‘student’ sign.

Seeing that I have missed several months worth of storytelling – and stories I have plenty – I shall resume the tales of my Scottish adventures soon enough. But first, I need to get some sleep because tomorrow will be a silly day at work with plenty of workout and the reason why my bum is sore (it’s biking people, don’t get any wrong ideas in your heads).


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