Sainsbury’s Christmas Advert is Disrespectful

In order to flog their produce, Sainsbury’s have disrespected millions who suffered in the trenches with their new Christmas advert.

This centennial year, 2014, has been about remembering those who fell during the Great War. To celebrate this occasion, Sainsbury’s have released a Christmas advert recreating the Christmas Day truce. There is no doubt that the cinematography is outstanding. The short video is able to encompass and convey such an array of deep emotion. Watching this video brought a tear to my eye. So what’s the problem I hear you ask?

Well, after all the effect and sentiment that the advert portrays wears off, I begin to realise the ultimate objective here; for this supermarket to sell us their produce. This is an ‘advert’ after all. It is difficult in this day and age to encourage people, especially the younger generations to think about what happened during those war years. The lives that were so courageously sacrificed so we could be here today.

Upon seeing this advert for the first time, I thought, ‘Finally, a breakthrough’! A short, yet powerful clip, which is deeply emotional and encourages the audience to reflect on history. I quickly came to realise that Sainsbury’s is using this advert for a reason… to sell (Durrrrrr…).

The video sensationalises the horrors that were inflicted upon the soldiers in those trenches. During the clip there are no traces of terror that one would expect to find. You will not see sick and dying men lying in the trenches, nor the hordes of rats that feasted upon these men, to say the least. I know it has been a hundred years but surely these crucial elements haven’t been forgotten?

Yes, I agree it is a Christmas advert and thus these things would be entirely inappropriate, but that is why this video is inappropriate. The directors have glamourised this event in history and have poetically misrepresented those that died. We are not to look back on history and think,                             ‘Oh how sweet, the two enemies played football on Christmas day.’         Yes, it was a moving episode during the war. It showed those soldiers as young men who just wanted to enjoy Christmas day like they usually would. It showed the immense courage it took to throw down the metaphoric gauntlet. But that is not what they should be remembered for. They should be remembered for the hardship they had to endure, the sacrifices they had to make and the incomprehensible degree of violence, both physical and mental, that was inflicted upon all individuals.

Exploiting the First World War for commercial gain is crass. Getting the public to think about WWI in this way is emotional exploitation, targeting us through this medium so we shop at their stores this holiday. I am not disparaging the advert entirely, maybe the tone of the advert should go along the lines of:
Without these soldiers you wouldn’t be here this Christmas’
or
Remember those who sacrificed their Christmas so you could have yours’
A bit hard hitting I know, however at least we would think, ‘Shit, that’s a good point’. Instead the public, especially the young, could have this misconception that WWI ‘wasn’t so bad after all’, which is absurd.

For me, Monty the penguin wins every time.

         Remembrance War Art

Kiera Bares All

To prove a point obviously!

Kiera Knightley has decided to stand up to the media on behalf of every woman out there that has had her body reshaped and touched up by Photoshop.

The 29 year old actress posed topless for a photo-shoot for last month’s issue of Interview Magazine, with one request: that they do not touch up any of her images in Photoshop. Kiera told The Times that:

I’ve had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons. I am fine doing a topless shot as long as my breasts aren’t made bigger or retouched, I feel it is important to say it really doesn’t matter what shape you are

If this is how protests against Photoshop are going to be from now on, you have to think this movement will be a big success?

I recognize her demonstration and I applaud her for standing up for what she believes in. We are living in a culture defined by the media. If we are subjected daily to perfect, spot-free, smooth slender “role models”, then we can not help but compare ourselves. We have let ourselves become indoctrinated by this false representation of beauty. Perfection is not achievable, therefore we will always fail in striving to obtain this. Instead of berating ourselves for our flaws we should be praising ourselves for the qualities that we do bare. Women do not simply decide to hate their bodies, media teaches them to.

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Unfortunately we are faced daily with a constant bombardment of media. We live in a consumer society, which is heavily manipulated by the media and advertising companies. Artificial needs are created for the consumer in order for a company to sell their product. We see various adverts and all of a sudden we believe that;

This latest product will clear my skin and rid my cellulite’

‘Maybe if I buy her lipstick I will grow 4 inches and drop a dress size

In the Western world we are so developed that most our immediate and basic needs are met. We are sheltered, fed, watered and educated. In order to keep the wheels of economy turned we are subjected to constant advertisements creating a false need. We are made to believe that celebrities such as Kiera are perfect and that her perfection is achievable if you just ‘buy this magazine and find out how‘ or if we ‘Take Kim Kardashians latest weight loss, ass gaining pill’ (if only).

                         photoshop2

We all have that burning desire to lead richer and more meaningful lives. However we do not live in a society that creates the right environment for us to realise how we achieve this. Instead we are sold a ‘cheap fix’, which we all know never satisfies for long. Realistically we are just pawns in a societal chess game.

Kiera’s protest is just a little baby step to abolish this representation of a ‘perfect’ image, but at least it is a step in the right direction.

CLICK HERE: to watch the power of Photoshop.

‘Water is NOT a human right’

         Nestlé, the largest producer of food products in the world has announced that the answer to the current global water issues is privatization. The most vital of resources to all life forms is to be made a commodity. And apparently this is the company we are to trust to manage our water.

The very same company that has peddled junk food into the Amazon, has invested money to thwart the labeling of GMO-filled products, has a disturbing health and ethics record for its infant formula, and has deployed a cyber army to monitor internet criticism and shape discussion in social media… no doubt I’ll be next on the hit list.

The irony in all of this is companies like Nestlé have an immense track record for creating such shortages which they proclaim they are so worried about. They put together a good case don’t they…

Jeffrey Green at the Activist Post argues that ‘the more precious this resource becomes, the more our friendly multinational corporations profit for this new ‘commodity’, and the more our governments seek to tax it’, disturbing isn’t it?

Fresh clean water is essential to all life forms. It seems that a resource so vital shouldn’t be controlled or corrupted by any corporation or government. Shockingly, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Latmathe, would disagree, stating that ‘access to water is not a public right, nor is it a human right’. So let’s get this straight, the most vital and fundamental element that we humans and all living organisms rely on is not a basic human right?

I do have a issue with the amount of water consumed. We believe (as we should) that the water we are using is a human right and therefore we treat it like one. We are using it in an irresponsible manner, although it is the most precious resource that we have. Why? Because we don’t want to give any value to water. If we did then we would quickly realise the true reliance that we have on it.

Currently we can shower, bathe, wash and drink as much as we want with no infliction on our conscience. Ignorance is bliss isn’t it?

            water4

It is our very ignorance that is fueling companies such as Nestlé into think they can conquer and control all that the world and nature has to offer. But just because, to them water might be something to own, we most definitely are not, are we?

Narcisscistic self-loathing; a real indulgence.

Spending the last few months reflecting on myself has been, well hard to say the least. Sometimes people can not recognize the faults they possess, I unfortunately do not have this problem. I scrutinize, divulge and criticize myself over ever hurdle. Starting my masters this week has opened the door to my hatred towards myself. WARNING: this is not a depressing, droan-like rant put out there for compliments or praise.
Don’t mistake me, I love myself as a person. I know my positives, very much so. However, from a young age, being told I was extremely intelligent and that I would ‘breeze through life’ has had such an adverse effect on my self. I felt intellectually above all my classmates and just stopped trying.
Now I look back and realise the idiot that I was, and the gift that I possessed. I KNOW that I have not reached or fulfilled my true potential. I feel that I have failed myself. When (if) you ever experience this it is harrowing to say the least. The worst person you can let down is yourself. If you truly feel that you have failed yourself it will stay with you forever and you can not help but beat yourself up over the disappointment you have self-inflicted. I am constantly doubting myself and everything that I do. I spend so much time retrospectively looking at what I didn’t do that I am consequently causing myself to fail. I doubt if I possess the mental capacity, obedience and organisation to complete my masters. However, I know I need to extinguish the self-doubt and once and for all make myself proud of who I am and what I know I can achieve. Achieving a distinction in my masters is more than achievable for myself. However, I can’t help but feel a fool sometimes for thinking this, but subsequently I then hate myself for letting my mind doubt my capability.
This is where my writing comes in. For me, writing is such a personal and emotional thing. I am not one of those people who can casually pop out an article and throw it onto the internet. Everything that I have written I believe in and have passion in, therefore when I come to producing a piece I find it extremely taxing on myself. This is the main reason I have not written anything in a while, I know the moment my pen hits the paper I open the doors to my emotions, and that scares me.

This is my favourite quote, I just have to make sure I read it from time to time to remind myself.

Cancer Research UK – One Big Scam

cancer scam

Once quite a rare disease, cancer is the second major cause of death in Western countries such as Australia, USA and the United Kingdom. It is said that the increase in cancer is due to the fact that people now live longer than their ancestors did, and that therefore, the increase of cancer deaths and incidents is typical of most Western nations.

Ever wondered why, despite billions of pounds spent on cancer research over many decades, and the constant promise of a cure which is forever ‘just around the corner’, cancer continues to increase?

Linus Pauling PhD (Two time noble prize winner) argues that: “Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud and that the major cancer research organisations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them”.

With this is mind, and with cancer being a personal subject for me I decided to delve into Cancer Research UK and examine exactly what they do in fighting the cause.
Each year the organisation has thousands of women take to the streets, dressed in pink to run a mini marathon in order to raise money for research into the causes of cancer and to find that ever elusive cure.
Each year we are told the same old story. How we are ‘almost there’ and that we are ‘on the brink of finding the cure’. How long are we to be sucked in by the same lies again and again?

The Truth. Cancer Research UK already know the causes of cancer and how to prevent it. However, according to Dr. Robert Sharpe, ‘…in our culture, treating disease is enormously profitable, preventing is not’. The harrowing truth ladies and gentlemen, however, we are not entirely naive to this statement. Deep down we know this is a profitable business rather than a charity. Do we not?

Okay, so lets talk facts… Ah, that’s the problem, there barely is any. Their ever slick, well-designed website seems to give you the runaround. It is vague with hardly any concrete or specific information. Link goes to link with uncertainty and promises. On their website nothing at all is mentioned about what treatment Cancer Research UK has invented, pioneered, trialled or tested.

There are mentions of certain drugs including Tamoxifin and Herceptin. These drugs have in fact been around for years, my mother had to travel to America in order to receive this treatment. If these drugs were currently and readily available in America than why was it not in the UK? Two words, pride and money. Even though these drugs were available in other countries the UK did not want to buy the research from America, they wanted to find the solution themselves. Meanwhile, women who could not afford to travel to the states were deprived of a life-saving drug.

Eventually, when Cancer Research UK found the formula for Herceptin you were only allowed to have this treatment for a year at the cost of £15,000 to the individual. A drug that has kept my mother alive for over seven years so far. What is the point in giving and fundraising for all this research when we don’t have the money to pay for it in our hospitals?

One research that the charity did successfully carry out was for the drug Sutent. This drug is used to treat a type of kidney cancer called renal cell carcinoma, RNC. It was believed that Sutent would help extend life expectancy by at least two years. The drug was put forward to NICE, and rejected on the grounds of simply cost. I reiterate, what is the point in pumping all the money into the research when the country can not afford to administer the drugs.

The website claims that –
“Cancer Research UK is the European leader in the development of novel anti-cancer treatments.”
“We are training the next generation of cancer scientists and doctors”
“More than a million people donate regularly to Cancer Research UK”
“Over one million women have walked, jogged or run in one of our Race for Life events’

These quotes above are on their website. There were none about lives saved by the research that the volunteers and donators are paying for. No facts about what medicines/drugs etc have been developed are in the pipeline.

Okay, so lets talk numbers. Last year £460 million was raised for Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research admits that they spend £130 million pounds on actually generating those funds! 2.5 million pounds on Supporter Relationship Management. This is a strategy for the management of future fund-raising.

They proclaim that the work they do actually cost them, last year 341 million pounds, so they are in fact saying they are just about breaking even.

Here is a list of employees and their pay:
3,935 employees receiving up to £60,000 per year
38 employees receiving up to £70,000 per year
30 employees receiving up to £80,000 per year
21 employees receiving up to £90,000 per year
9 employees receiving up to £100,000 per year
7 employees receiving up to £110,000 per year
1 employee receiving up to £120,000 per year
4 employees receiving up to £130,000 per year
3 employees receiving up to £140,000 per year
2 employees receiving up to £150,000 per year
2 employees receiving up to £160,000 per year
1 employee receiving up to £260,000 per year

Total  equals £34,170,000 spent on waged employees. This figure does not include bonuses and pensions that these employees are entitled to. I wonder if fund raisers know that their donations/collections are being invested on the stock market and are topping up employees pensions, as well as funding some of the highest paid workers around in a recession?

Just some simply maths here… £460,000,000 raised for Cancer Research UK last year. Minus the £341,000,000 that was spent on fundraising and the £34,170,000 spent on wages, we are left with a grand total of £84 million. Hardly ground breaking figures, and definitely not enough money to be supporting the research that SHOULD be occurring.

That is why tomorrow morning at 10am I will not be running the race for life. I signed up months ago under the pretence that I was raising money for a worthy cause. I am still going to run the 10K tomorrow, however, I will be wearing yellow (coincidentally my favourite colour) and I will be running for Macmillan. A charity which does not pretend to spend your hard earned donations on false promises and lies. This charity offers practical, medical and financial SUPPORT for all cancer patients. Now that is something I can run for.

macmillan cancer care

When Facebook Went Down…

facebook down

I am almost certain that the majority of people reading this right now are probably still not over this morning’s traumatic events. At around 10 am EST, Facebook went down for about 10 minutes — the longest time it has ever suffered a technical problem. All across the world you could hear cries of panic as the human race came to the realization that we may actually have to talk to one another for the brutal minutes we were Facebook-less. An American psychologist, Michael Fenichel, PhD has introduced the term FAD, or Facebook Addiction Disorder. FAD is a condition that is defined by hours spent on Facebook, so much time in fact that the healthy balance of an individual’s life is affected. It is estimated that approximately 350 million people are suffering from the disorder. To find out if you are a victim of this treacherous condition, take a look at the symptoms below. If you suffer from two or more of these symptoms, you may have to seek further help.

1. Withdrawal Symptoms

When one is restricted from Facebook, they are subjected to participate in normal everyday activities. When this occurs, common signs of FAD are distress, anxiety and the compulsion to talk about Facebook amongst peers and to search for interesting posts that have been published since their absence.

2. Lack of normal social or recreational activities

When a person is suffering from FAD they will reduce the time spent catching up with friends and playing sports to simply spending time on Facebook. Instead of catching up with friends over a drink or dinner, the conversation is had via the social site. The person suffering from this symptom usually finds out that his or her sister is getting married through a status update, or that his or her pet rabbit, Fluffy has died via a photo their younger sibling uploaded. One can usually spot someone suffering from these symptoms. They tend to be pale due to lack of natural light and they are awkward and uncomfortable in almost all social interactions outside of Facebook.

3. Fake Friends

Sometimes someone uploads a picture or a status and you think, Who is that? How on earth do I know them? We all have them, they’re our fake friends. When we were younger, having thousands of Facebook friends gave us instant street cred. Now you just have to sieve through inane posts and look at photos of strangers’ babies all the while wondering who the hell this Jack person is.

4. Desperation

A Facebook addict will often go through desperate measures to get online if they don’t have their computer near them. If his or her phone dies, they may ask you for theirs. Another telltale sign is when multiple Facebook windows are open on their computer at the same time. Three or more tabs and you are indeed suffering from this condition.

5. Complete and utter addiction

These people have Facebook pages for his or her pets, and any notifications, wall posts, messages or friend request automatically results in a natural high.

So what does one do if they are indeed suffering from FAD? I am not too sure what the experts say, however I do know with all mental disorders it will not be an easy fix. To start, we all need to take a good look at ourselves and our behavior. If Facebook is eating into your social, sport or study time, then something is wrong. One needs to recognize the signs of this terrifying addiction and then needs to readjust his or her lifestyle. It wont be an easy ride, and I can assure you it will not happen overnight, but eventually we are going to have to unite and fix this Facebook overload and to finally rid the world of FAD! Here are some hilarious tweets that trended during those bleak minutes this morning. Enjoy!

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Cancer: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

International Women’s Day took place last Saturday, 8th March. So I have decided it is time to celebrate not only the women who have inspired us, but those who, in the upcoming year will go above and beyond to make a difference.

There is no doubt that posing and organising a naked photo-shoot takes guts. Having the images all over Facebook for your friends and enemies to see. Now that takes even more guts. Imagine doing all of the above after fighting and surviving breast cancer. Well, that’s a whole new kettle of fish.

That is exactly what Beth Whaanga decided to do last month. Diagnosed with cancer on her 32nd birthday, Beth realised she also possessed the BRCA2 gene, a mutation which puts her at increased risk of recurring breast and ovarian cancer in the future. After the undoubtedly difficult decision, Beth decided to undergo a double mastectomy and hysterectomy leaving her body ravaged by scar tissue. But instead of hiding her scars, she chose to speak out in order to help others affected by cancer.

She teamed up with friend and photographer Nadia Masot to photograph her post-surgery body in a series of portraits called ‘Under The Red Dress‘.

under the red dress

‘The aim of the shoot was to make women and men aware, cancer doesn’t discriminate between gender, race or age. It affects us all. Those of us who’ve been lucky enough to prevent their condition from continuing or occurring have a responsibility to make others aware’. To find the strength and courage after enduring such a disease is admirable. However, some would disagree.

Instead of being applauded for her bravery, over 100 of Beth’s closest friends deleted her from the social media sight overnight, with some even reporting the images to Facebook for being “inappropriate”. Here is evidence that it is not just the old and ugly that are berated for showing themselves, even the young and beautiful are discouraged from sharing their stories and insulted when they do so. If Whaanga is to tell us what has happened to her, what better canvas than her own body?

This shocking revelation, prompted a memory from my childhood. I am 10 years old shopping in Marks and Spencers with my mother. Three years previously, after being diagnosed with breast cancer my mum under went a mastectomy. After having to endure this surgery, she was left with a fake breast and a big knock to her confidence. Anyway, back to Marks and Spencers. My mother is a very free and secure person, seeing a top that takes her fancy, she instantly wips off her own to try the item on. Within moments a woman with her child comes over saying ‘Could you please put your top back on, I find it very offensive to look at’, seeing the crushing words fall onto my mum I was shocked, left with feelings of anger. How can some people be so ignorant?

However, their ignorance has not deterred Beth, it as made her even more determined to continue her campaign; ‘If the ‘Under The Red Dress’ project helps one man, woman or family deal with their battle with cancer, or helps one person in their preventative journey, then I’m very happy’ she explains.

More about Beth’s story can be found here: http://www.underthereddress.com/

My beautiful mother, who continues to inspire me everyday.
mama