Who is straight, white, male Hollywood blaming for crap sales?

Hollywood just had its worst summer in decades. Box office takings are dramatically down and studio execs are pissed.

If you haven’t seen, their complaint is that bad Rotten Tomatoes reviews are keeping people away.

As someone who goes to the cinema most weeks with a film club I was instantly suspicious.

Not their terrible films? Not their endless remakes? Not their insistence that men (straight white men at that) dominate the vast majority of characters, writers, directors etc and stories about women and minorities don’t get told?

No. It’s the review site itself.

Their argument is that the definition of ‘critic’ is too wide so that too many people can call themselves critics and give poor reviews. Well wouldn’t they also be able to give good reviews just as easily?

They’re also angry that films made for mass audience appeal are getting poor reviews from artsy fartsy critics who are holding it to too high a standard.

So they’re hitting back. Trying to hack Rotten Tomatoes with things like targeted early screenings to people they are sure will like the film. Or offering no advanced screenings at all to try to get pre-bookings first.

During the fall-out a few counter theories have been posed.

Tickets cost the earth

Cinema ticket torn in half

With tickets costing around £12 these days of course people are going to be careful with their money. And that’s before you’ve thought about popcorn and drink prices.

Who’s going to drop £12 on the gamble that a film will be worth it?

Too many remakes

Film remake meme

It seems the golden age for film was 20-30 years ago and studios want to recreate that. Can we have some new stories please? Something fresh, something new and exciting? Something that doesn’t lean so heavily on tried and tested themes we’ve seen a hundred times.

I’m sick of seeing films about straight white men

Sausage party poster

Of the 20 films I’ve seen at the cinema so far this year only 5 have had female protagonists. And only 8 have passed the Bechdel test.

Don’t say I should just choose different films. There aren’t more films with women we can choose from.

Why should I spend my hard-earned money watching something that doesn’t even bother to have two named women speak to each other about anything in the world other than a man? They don’t respect me enough to represent me.

I’m sick of seeing films about men. Over and over I see men’s stories told by men.

When was the last time you saw a film where no men spoke to each other? I can think of only a couple. When was the last time you saw men on TV outnumbered 4 to 1. Or even 10 to 1. Yet we see this Every. Single. Day. for women.

Woman outnumbered 9:1. Sadly not a rare occurence

The insistence on religiously sticking to the historical time period or source text is often at the expense of women. Why, when every filmmaking and storytelling tool is at your disposal, is the invisibility of women the thing that is non negotiable?

See Valerian for a prime example of this. Hundreds of years in the future and women are outnumbered by men by about 20:1.

Hollywood is blaming everything but themselves

Armour resistance

The conversation about diversity often ends in excuses. ‘Women choose lower paying jobs by themselves’ or ‘black people commit more crime though’. No! Stop pointing the finger at everything else and refusing to see what needs to change.

It’s about time studios commissioned a serious number of films about women, non-white people, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.

It’s about time they trusted more women and minority directors, scriptwriters and producers.

You can’t point the finger at a review site while doing nothing to make better quality, more diverse stories on film.

I ain’t buying it.

Which would win in a fight – road rage vs benevolent sexism

I was coming home after a weekend at Greenbelt Festival this summer bank holiday. A weekend of camping and nectar for the soul.

Festival campingI pulled into the car hire forecourt then waited while a slightly irate man snapped at the guy behind the desk.

After returning the keys and sorting the paperwork I waited for my taxi to arrive. Just a few minutes later it pulled into the forecourt and the driver gave me a big grin and a wave.

A car behind him beeped the horn. The driver was waving for the taxi to pull forwards out of the way. It was the Angry Guy from the queue earlier.

“That selfish guy needs to calm down” I thought

Angry Guy is shouting and waving and my taxi driver takes a moment but eventually pulls forwards to let him past.

I get in the taxi, exchange pleasantries with the driver and we pull out to the traffic lights. My mind is on how much small talk I’ll have to make on the short journey to the station.

angry manAs we’re waiting for the light I see Angry Guy is still yelling. Suddenly he gets out of his car and comes running across the road towards us.

He launches into a tirade against the taxi driver. Screaming and swearing every obscenity he can think of. His face is red with seething anger that he hadn’t been able to pull into the forecourt a minute earlier.

What is wrong with this guy!

My driver tells him;

“Watch your language, there’s a lady in the car”

~Benevolent sexism~

Angry Guy shouldn’t shut up because I’m a woman and my sensitive womanly ears will be forever damaged by his words. He should shut up because he’s being a dick.

His behaviour is not ok because it’s wrong. Not because of any lesser, more delicate humans who might be in earshot.

Angry Guy’s response?

“I don’t care, you f*&^ing b*%$ard think you own the road you should be f*&^ing ashamed…”

After a few scary minutes of escalating shouting and pleading for my delicate ears the lights changed and we drove off.

What on earth just happened!

The taxi driver and I agreed that Angry Guy had some issues if he gets that incensed about something so small. My driver wondered what he’s like with his wife and family if he’d talk like that in front of me.

I too wondered about his wife and family. But because he was an explosive ball of rage in general, not because he wasn’t able to contain himself in front of a woman he didn’t know.

Scared woman
Was it ok to stay silent?

And I considered my own actions. Is that the right time and place to call out benevolent sexism? Probably not given the escalating threat of physical violence. But I still feel bad for not saying something.

So in that round road rage won. But maybe one day neither benevolent sexism nor road rage will need to clash.

Learn to stand on your own feet – Monday Motivation

It’s not that all humans are terrible. But they’re fallible. 

If a key aspect of your life relies on someone else perhaps it’s time to learn how to do it too. The finances, the DIY, anything.

Partly because you owe it to yourself to be able to take care of your own needs. And partly because if anything were to happen to that person you’d be left incapable.

Uncover the biggest thieves of your time. Track it to reclaim it.

“Where did the day go?”
“I’m sure I put more time into this project than the others did”
“I just don’t have the time to read any more”
“I’ve been busy all day but couldn’t tell you what I achieved”

Do any of these sound familiar?

When you’re juggling all sorts of different things it’s hard to come up for air and really assess what you’re spending your time doing.

But it’s vital to monitor what your time is spent on so you can keep your goals on track and your distractions in check.

As the saying goes “time is money”. Time is also energy, mental strength and emotion. It is precious and should be managed well.

Invest time in your passions

“To find where your passion lays, look at where you spend your time”

In an ideal world we’d all spend the majority of our time on things that make us happy, fulfilled, and that sparks our passion.

In the real world we spend the majority of our time meeting obligations. Women still do the majority of household work and childcare. People living alone bear the whole the burden of the housework and admin.

looming obligations cartoon

Independent people are often seen as permanently available. They’re free to help when their friends are in a jam because they apparently don’t have anything else to do. But they end up being leaned on too heavily and their own needs fall to the wayside.

All of this sucks time away from where it would be better spent.

So how can you address this issue and funnel your time into things that are productive and fulfilling and away from those black holes of time which soak up our days?

1-week time logging

Process Improvement theory teaches that we can’t knowingly improve something if it’s not measured. If you measure your time you can see where the roadblocks are and reinvest that in more positive things. You can make a measurable difference.

Tracking your time can reveal some undeniable truths.

That ’10-minute favour’ for a friend actually took 3 hours, taking with it your physical and emotional energy. That’s time you may be vitally needing for your own self care and mental health.

“Without becoming aware of how you currently spend your time, it’s hard to reflect on whether you’re acting in ways that match up with what your values and highest-impact tasks are.

Keeping a time log is a great way to find your starting point, your base level.”

– Chris Bailey, The Productivity Project

As a ‘spiritual person’, you may only spend only a few minutes a week in prayer or meditation. As a ‘keen musician’ you might not have picked up your guitar in a month.

I once tracked my work time for a whole month and found almost 40% of my work time was spent on creating and updating presentations and I’d done a whopping 22 hours unpaid overtime.

Track your time for 1 week. You may be surprised by what it reveals.

6 steps to gathering the data you need

  1. Write down what your passions and priorities are. Consider your longer term or short term goals. Note any relationships that are really important.
    These are things that ideally you’d be spending time on.
  2. Decide how accurate you want to be. Don’t burden yourself with tracking every single minute but you want meaningful results. Being accurate to every 15 or 30 minute block should suffice
  3. Track your time for 1 week. Use a notepad, or try using one of the apps below
  4. Compare the results against your priorities.  Any mismatches?
  5. Consider what changes you can make to shift things in a better direction
  6. After a few months repeat the process and see how your results have changed

“It can seem like a tedious and boring task, but it can free up literally hours in your week. The key is to find a system that works for you”
– Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It

What should I track?

You don’t need to track the minutiae of what you do, just the main gist of the activity. Think about the variety of things you do in a week and what’s important for you to glean from it.

  • Work
    • Major projects
    • Admin
    • Helping others
  • Travel
    • Commuting
    • Driving yourself or others around
  • Household
    • Cleaning
    • Cooking
    • Admin tasks
  • Hobbies
    • Playing sports
    • Gardening
    • Exercise
  • Relationships
    • Phone calls
    • Face to face time
  • Technology
    • TV time
    • Internet browsing

Use a notebook

It’s really easy to just jot down what the time is and what task you’re doing.

You will need to add up your times later though, either by hand or in excel. That will, ironically, take some time in itself.

What apps could you try

Most apps are designed for business but there are some designed for personal life.

Time Tracker


iOS – (I can’t find it on iOS but I’m on Android so it might be there somewhere?)

This is one of the simplest and easiest ones I’ve seen. It’s a great place to start.

You can set your categories in advance, or add them as you go. You can give each one a different icon and colour. Then just click to start and stop as you go, toggling between them.

You can also have a few running at once.

Time Tracker app screenshot

What makes Time Tracker different is you can set targets for each; one hour a day, 20 hours a week, whatever you want. It then tells you how far off target you are.




Toggl app screenshot

With the Toggl app you can set up your categories in advance then just click different ones throughout the day- toggling between them like with Time Tracker.

Toggl will then add up how much time you spend on each one and show you various charts.

It’s designed for business but can be easily adapted with your own personal categories.

Smarter Time


Smarter Time app screenshot

This one is designed for personal use rather than for businesses. It’s built around tracking both work and home tasks for a full picture of your time.

It can track the apps you’re using and use GPS to see where you are – work, home, gym etc.

Some would say that’s intrusive.
Some would say that’s helpful.

You have to log each activity manually rather than toggling but it’s not overly cumbersome. It has loads of pre-set categories and activities or you can add your own. The most recent ones will go to the top of the list.

Smarter Time app screenshot 2

You can then use the analyser to see charts and maps.

There are loads of apps on the market so look for something that will suit your lifestyle as well as giving you the right data. Once you have some data you can make some conscious changes for the better.

Get tracking and take back control of your time!

5 ways to beautify your bullet journal when you have zero art skills

  • Do you want your bullet journal look as beautiful as those Instagram and Pinterest?
  • Do your attempts at art look like a 5-year-old’s scribbles?

Me too! I’ve been slowly working out how to make my bullet journal look fabulous with minimal input from my own free hand.

Aside from copying other people’s layout ideas how can us non-artistic types make a Pinterest-worthy (or at least not awful looking) bullet journal?

  1. Stencils

Don’t draw by hand! You can get all kinds of stencils – some are just shapes, some are special icons and designs.

I got this metal set from Amazon which looked fabulous – heaps of little icons for marking up my bullets.

But a lot of the holes were smaller than any pen or pencil I possess so it’s just sitting at home in my craft box.


I picked up this blue stencil from Michael’s in Toronto. It’s got much better shapes I can actually use but is quite flimsy. I also had to cut it so it would fit in the back of my journal.

Have a look online and in craft shops for something with a variety of shapes and that’s practical for you.

2. Stickers

Again, anything that helps avoid drawing by hand.

Stickers- cats
My kawaii cat stickers

Look for a set that has a range of themes so you can use them on different kinds of pages. Like these adorable cats I got from eBay.

Stickers- planner

Stickers designed for planners can be really helpful for labelling pages or sections with a bit more flair than a plain black pen.

Just watch out for thick or shiny ones, they might bulk up your book or be difficult to write on.

3. Washi Tape

Washi tape 2The papery texture makes Washi Tape easy to write on (helping avoid bleed-through and ghosting) and it doesn’t bulk out your bullet journal pages.

You can get sets with a range of colours and patterns but I recommend picking out just the particular individual ones you want. A lot of sellers on eBay will let you choose individual rolls for around £1 each while a set from a ‘proper’ shop might be closer to £10-15.

My favourites have a variety of patterns on one roll. So I can cut off one section and not have that pattern repeated for 10 more pages.

4. Tracing

Font 1

A little old-school but it works! Find some awesome fonts online and print them off. Most bullet journals have thin enough pages that you can trace over them. Now you can create fabulous decorative lettering without screwing it up.

Or find some bold image designs online to print or trace from your phone screen.

5. Stick things in

Spanish stamps

Stamps make wonderful decorations. They can be vintage or colourful, on a whole range of themes and they’re small enough to stick into your bullet journal.

Travel tips page
Washi tape postage stamp combo

Since you’re on eBay looking at washi tape take a look at what stamps are on offer.

Magazines have loads of pictures and lettering you could cut out to decorate a dull looking page. Just try to avoid the ransom note look.

If you have access to a nice printer try printing out tiny pictures of your family and friends.


Do you have any other tips to help out your fellow non-artistic bullet journal lovers? Share them in the comments

The Dark Tower – A world without women

Contains spoilers.

I was apprehensive about seeing The Dark Tower this week. The trailer showed lots of men, violence and gun worship. And the critics had given it a dismal 16% on Rotten Tomatoes.

But the film itself wasn’t that bad. It had a story, it wasn’t offensive, it had some peril and adventure. So far so good.

Dark Tower book coversThe film is based on a series of books by Stephen King. All of the main characters (in the film at least) are male and only one female character contributed to the story in a meaningful way. Her role was to interpret the protagonist Jake’s visions and teach him something about his ‘shine’ or gifts. She got killed soon after.

Unlike Valerian it didn’t do terribly with showing women on screen. There were a few passing shots with female characters doing things and each people-group had one or two women.

But as with so many films any number of characters could have been made into women and it would have made for a richer and more diverse story.

A female gunslinger?
A female homeless ex-shine-child?
A female gun shop owner?
A female villain?

Perhaps it’s this strange rule a lot of directors seem to have that it’s ok to adapt source material but the gender of the characters is sacred and should not be touched.
(Yes I know some films do change character gender. Don’t start pointing them all out)

I did like the racial diversity though. A notable amount of both main actors and minor roles represented a variety of different ethnicities.

Dark tower face of father

It bugged me that this ode to patriarchy was repeated about a thousand times;

“Remember the face of your father”

I was sick of this phrase about the third time I heard it. And it was repeated over and over and over.

It means to remember your ancestors, your lineage and your honour. Telling someone they’ve forgotten the face of their father is an insult.

To have ones father represent all honour, history and sense of self just got annoying.

Trailers: 7 trailers, all for films with male protagonists
Bechdel Test: No.
Although 10 women spoke, none met the parameters for passing the Bechdel test
Group score: 6.4
Entirely unscientific women’s representation score: 3