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Netflix Documentary ‘Disclosure’ is essential viewing

I recently watched Netflix documentary Disclosure which details the history of Trans representation in TV and Film and the impact on society. The film features many trans stars including Laverne Cox, Bianca Leigh Jen Richards, Lilly Wachowski, Brian Michael Smith, Sandra Caldwell, Chaz Bono and many more.

This documentary is essential viewing especially in times of the Black Lives Matter movement and the planned rolling back of Trans rights by the UK government and celebrities such as JK Rowling making their transphobia known. I know JK is only one person but she has a a lot of power, Harry Potter is a behemoth of a franchise. The comments she has made completely baffle me after she wrote a whole series based around the virtues of accepting others, especially those that differ to you. That being said I don’t wish her any hate or ill will,  but it is a great shame and hope she changes her thinking on trans issues, since many LGBTQ people will have found solace in her stories.

… Anyway back to Disclosure!

“I think for a very long time the ways in which trans people have been represented on screen have suggested that we are not real, have suggested that we are mentally ill, that we don’t exist. And yet, here I am. Yet here we are, and we’ve always been here.” – Laverne Cox says  just before the titles roll perfectly setting up the rest of the documentary.

The documentary details the first trans portrayals in film, transphobic film tropes and various other topics.  I found the part about Cis actors playing trans characters very interesting. Where Jared Leto and Eddie Redmayne may do a decent job of playing trans women it reduces the roles to being costume like e.g. Jared Leto playing a Trans woman in Dallas Byers Club and later receiving the Oscar looking unrecognisable to the character he portrayed. But when trans women are cast in a trans role like Laverne Cox playing Sophia in Orange is The New Black this creates positive representation. Cox is not just representing a transwoman on the show she is also representing herself as a transwoman in real life which is great for trans youth to see.

Jen Richards relays coming out to a good friend as trans. The friend then asking if being trans is like Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill as in the serial killer from Silence of the Lambs who makes a dress out of women he has murdered … Richard’s reassures us that her friend is more understanding now and didn’t mean offence by her comment. But it’s scary that trans representation was/is so scarce that this was someones first frame of reference.

I also found Sandra Caldwell’s story very interesting, Caldwell had a long career starring in films like The Cheetah Girls and Serendipity before coming out more recently as a transwoman. Chaz Bono also shares his experience of being the first trans contestant on Dancing With The Stars.

I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t watched Disclosure to check it out! 

 

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It sounds like OA – Six Fanarts and Free Quarantine Cards

In my blog post before last, I posted about my contribution to the #SixFanarts challenge and mentioned that I would create an edition based on The OA. I’ve now finished The OA edition which you can view below.

This as, with the first #SixFanarts challenge was a lot of fun, giving me an opportunity to experiment with my style a bit. Also good practice as I usually draw animal characters so drawing 6 humans was slightly out of my comfort zone!

I also this week decided I’m going to work on a set of Quarantine inspired designs which I will be posting for free on this blog once I have finished. These cards will focus on LGBTQ couples and positive messages, while we are in this weird time in the world.

Below is the first of the quarantine designs – which is based on my previous card design A Whole Otter Love!

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5 Things to do While Self-Isolating

Hi, The world has changed quite a bit since my last post, we find ourselves living in a very strange time, Oh how I long for the days of constant GDPR emails instead of these COVID-19 ones! I decided to self isolate last week and I’m now doing my main job from home. I thought that as most us are currently isolated/quarantining I would compile a short list of things to do while we are in this situation, I hope you find it useful.

1.Keeping in touch with loved ones via technology

Whether it is via text,call,video chat or social media, technology allows us to remain in touch with the people closest to us. Free video conferencing app Zoom is very popular at the moment, people have been hosting house parties, game nights and even virtual pubs via the free app.

2. Reading

Now is the perfect time to read a new book, I’m currently reading ‘The Beast Within’ by Serena Valentino the second of of series of books which slightly twists the tales of various Disney villains. They are a fun read and would recommend for any Disney fans out there. I have also recently finish Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ a hybrid memoir and self help book for those dealing with depression. This is great book with good tips for coping with these stressful and uncertain times. If you have a library card many libraries offer downloads on their website of e-books and audiobooks to read/listen to.

3. Watching TV

Whether you prefer streaming a good film or binge watching a boxset there is a plenty of content out there to watch while being isolated. As I always would recommend The OA (Netflix) its not only great escapism but also a story full of hope and people joining together. If you are looking for something a bit more gentle and light hearted recommend another of my favourites Steven Universe (Netflix,Now Kids, Amazon), a lovely animation with quirky and lovable characters. Like I said there is so much choice out there, most of the shows I mentioned in my top 10 TV Shows of the decade list are available to stream. With so many streaming services out there Netflix, Prime Video, Now TV and the recently launched in the UK, Disney +, you really are spoilt for choice!

4. Dancing

My partner recently bought me Just Dance for Christmas and I absolutely love it! Not only is it great fun, you also get a good workout out of it which is great especially if you are confined to your home. Alternatively there are dance videos on Youtube you can dance along to and also live dance parties online, dancer Mark Kanemura has been hosting live dance parties on Instagram (link below)

5. Being Creative

I love drawing whenever I’m going through a stressful time, I find it very therapeutic and sometimes even find the stress fuels my creativity. So I encourage everyone to express themselves at this very odd time in our existence, to draw, write, make music, sew, crochet, or participate in any other creative outlet you have.

Remember we will get through this and by staying home we are saving lives. Stay Safe everyone.

See you on the next blog post – Josh 🙂

P.S below is a recent Wedding card design I created,

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Leave Your Door Open For The OA

*SPOILER ALERT – contains some spoilers for the first season of The OA*

In December 2016, Netflix dropped the first season of The OA, brought to us by the creative minds of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. After Netflix brought us the widely popular,acclaimed show Stranger Things in the summer of 2016, I was expecting The OA to be made from a similar mould. I soon realised when i started watching The OA that the shows were in fact very different, the shows do have some similarities with their sci-fi elements but tonally and storytelling wise they are worlds apart. (Absolutely no shade to Stranger Things!)

The OA revolves around main protagonist Prairie (played by Brit Marling) who arrives back home after being missing for 7 years. Prior to Prairie’s disappearance she was blind. So it is shock to everyone in her home town when they find out that her sight has also returned. Prairie (who know goes by the name ‘The OA’) doesn’t feel comfortable discussing the events of the past 7 years with her parents, instead she seeks solace in 5 strangers.

The 5 recruits (The Crestwood 5) chosen by The OA, leave their houses, leaving their front door’s open and meet at the abandoned house as per their instructions. It is here that the The OA begins her story. It is unknown if there is another reason for the ‘open doors’ aside some sort of trust exercise/showing their openness to believe in The OA. The ‘open doors’ work well as a metaphor for the show itself, as you have to go into the show with an open mind, you have allow yourself to go with the flow and see where the story takes you.

The OA recounts her kidnapping and the ensuing events, with the Crestwood 5 returning day after day to the unfinished house to get the next instalment. Eventually The OA teaches them about the movements, a succession of strange dance moves, there are six movements and if performed simultaneously with 5 other people, it will allow them to travel to another dimension! The movements might seem a little strange at first but you soon get used to them, the movements were created by choreographer Ryan Heffington, who previously did the choreography for Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Elastic Heart’ Music videos.

‘The OA’ has a fair few mysteries/unanswered questions which leave the viewer wanting to re-watch the show to look for clues or things they have missed. With the big question of season 1 being is The OA telling the truth or not? Has she just made this elaborate story up as a way of dealing with her trauma? Leaving the viewer and the Crestwood 5 both trying to answer the question of whether this character is telling the truth or if she has completely fabricated this fantastical story. Unlike other shows though ‘The OA’ does answer some of the mysteries along the way and S2 does answer some of the big questions of S1 which is much more satisfying for fans and viewers of the show than just piling on mystery after mystery with no answers in sight. (I’m looking at you ‘Lost’!)

‘The OA’ has a great cast with a lot of interesting and multi layered characters. My favourite characters have to be The OA and Betty Broderick Allen AKA BBA (Phyllis Smith), as felt like I could personally connect with these two characters most, BBA is also great at adding some comedic relief to the show! It also great to see ‘Buck’, a young trans character, played by trans actor Ian Alexander. Jason Isaacs plays the wicked but ever so intriguing to watch ‘Hap’, his scenes with The OA have to be some of my favourite in the series with their cat and mouse dynamic.

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij have created something special with ‘The OA’, the kind of story that stays with you long after you have experienced it.

I encourage you to watch The OA if you haven’t already and to go into the show with your metaphorical door open!

PS The S2 finale broke my mind!

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