Admiring attractive women or men isn’t gender prejudice, just a case of rudeness to stare.
I recently watched a video on Good Morning Britain from June 2018 in which Telegraph journalist Rebecca Reid compared her experience of a male strip club and a female strip club. The female strip club was “one of the saddest experiences of my life” she said. “I got to expense a lap dance for The Telegraph, still wasn’t a good day for me because it’s incredibly depressing and those places are intended to arouse”. She went on to say “I had a stripper at my hen do against my wish (a male stripper) - it was hilarious, but not sexy, it couldn’t have been less sexy”.
When Piers Morgan (now a former presenter on Good Morning Britain) questioned whether women watch films like ‘Magic Mike’ (2012) and have “any sexual fantasies at all” as these men “gyrate semi-naked with their big muscles”, she said “if you can be aroused in a room full of 3,000 people all watching with their mums and sisters, you’re a better woman than I can”. He continued “you don’t think any women go there because they fancy these guys”. She responded with “we fancy them, but its funny, not sexy, no one’s aroused by it”.
“They see me as a slab of muscle...If you put a large group of a single gender together and mix it with alcohol then things get tribal and raunchy very quickly - and that goes every bit as strongly for women as men” says Javier Barkham, a 29 year old male stripper for five years. “There isn’t a bit of my body that hasn’t been touched during my time stripping - things that a woman would slap a man for if they did that to them happen all the time: women grope your balls and get hold of your penis”.
Javier also alleges he has been scratched, groped and licked by women. Peter, 30 and a fellow stripper, talked “at the end of the show, I go round the crowd with nothing on. I will mess around with my penis - I’m not flicking it in their faces, it’s a tease - but I’ve had girls try and jump in front of it and stick it in their mouth.
“I had a flag wrapped around me and this woman jumped on to the stage, dragged the flag away then dug her claws into my penis and tried to walk me round the floor. I was actually bleeding”.
These comments are shocking as, if this were a man committing these acts on women, they’d be arrested for sexual assault. The Office of National Statistics reports that there have been 153,136 sexual offences and 555,980 cases of stalking and harassment between October 2019 and September 2020.
This prompts the debate over whether strip clubs should be banned. There are arguments for and against the suggestion of closing strip clubs for good. The argument with just that title - should strip clubs be banned? - was pitched in an article in The Bristol Cable.
Real-life sex workers and founding members of the Bristol Sex Workers Collective, Alice and Melissa, support strip clubs. They wrote “it has been proven adding legislation to the sex industry increases stigma for the worker”.
On the other hand, Bristol Cable journalist Kate Jerrold argued for it. She questioned “how will we prevent a whole new generation of #metoo if we continue to see women’s bodies as yet another commodity packaged for instant consumption”.
What’s my opinion on strip clubs? I’ve never been that keen on them. They objectify both men and women - most of whom do it by choice - and I really detest the lookism that runs rampant in them. Is it a wonder that the majority of the girls in their scantily-clad leotards at Hooters are usually blonde, tanned and have hourglass figures? Where’s the plus size representation? I can imagine the policies on sexual harassment at Hooters will be extremely strict. I just think having women dressed like that so revealingly leaves them at risk to exposure to the leches and perves who continue to think groping or making lewd gestures is just a bit of banter.
It’s perfectly ok to look at and admire an attractive woman or man. It’s how you look and whether you’re looking in a pervy or lecherous way - licking your lips, staring at their tits or their arse or their crotch.
I often give a passing glance when I see a pretty girl. The difference is I don’t obsess over it and don’t stare at her excessively. I don’t make her uncomfortable and am quick to move on with my day once I’ve noticed “ooh she’s quite pretty”.
Ogling is just plain rude as staring at anyone is. Not sexist, just rude and that applies to males and females.
At times, William Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ appears an inspiration. This is the story of a handsome, distinguished black officer brought down by his love for a beautiful woman and an Iago figure in creepy “Caddy” Matt “Dot” Cotton. There’s also a Shakespearean tragic ending.
I loved Lennie James’ performance as Gates. He’s so smooth and arrogant and always angry at Arnott for investigating him. He also cries whenever someone mentions his daughters. James plays Gates like a wounded God - you sympathise with him because he is essentially a good man stuck in a hole and his only way out is to keep digging.
‘Line of Duty’ is on BBC iPlayer now.
This same outlet also reported that Stone married McCary in September of last year. Stone and McCary met when she was hosting SNL in 2016 and he directed her in a taped sketch for the episode. The couple kept their relationship private until they decided to go public at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Stone was up for ‘The Favourite’ (2019). In December of that year, the couple got engaged and tied the knot the following autumn with a beaming photo of Emma’s engagement ring.
The couple have not yet revealed the sex of the baby, but I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Hollywood’s loveliest leading lady has successfully procreated and is now a mum!
Emma has always struck me as a lovely person. She’s raised awareness of her experience with crippling Anxiety with the Child Mind Institute. She flagged up that male co-stars took pay cuts to help with the gender pay gap in 2017. Even her and her former boyfriend Andrew Garfield were very positive in their response to the paparazzi; holding up signs in front of their faces promoting their favourite charities instead of beating them up or shouting profanities at them like Alec Baldwin and others. They were a lovely couple.
Stone has really evolved as an actress over the years. I first fell in love with her in ‘Easy A’ (2010) which confirmed her reputation as Hollywood’s most reliable girl next door. That was at the age of 22. She’s gone on to win an Oscar for ‘La La Land’ (2017), turned 30 and will soon be seen as one of the greatest supervillains of all time - Cruella De Vil in ‘Cruella’ (2021).
Being a new mum will be a great new chapter in this actress’ life. Hollywood’s girl next door has officially grown up. Will it stop fans like me crushing? Hell no! Congratulations Emma.
‘The Sceptred Isle’ will be directed and co-written by Michael Winterbottom (‘A Cock and a Bull Story’ (2005)) while Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman will serve as a consultant.
Beginning with him being sworn in as Prime Minister, this five-part drama will recount the first cases of Covid in the UK, through to Johnson falling ill from the virus and the arrival of his son.
The series will trace the impact of the pandemic on Britain and the response to it from scientists, doctors and nurses. It will be based on the first-hand testimony of individuals within 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and hospitals and care homes across the country.
Winterbottom stated about the series: “The first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic will be remembered forever. A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever about the importance of community.
“Our series weaves together countless true stories - from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to frontline workers around the country - chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policymakers to protect us from the virus”.
From the pics, Branagh certainly has Boris’ bleached blonde hair which has been balding as of late. However, he’ll need to either pile on the pounds or don a fat suit to truly convince as Britain’s populist Prime Minister. Gary Oldman did that when he played Winston Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’ (2018).
I also wonder whether it’s a bit soon to be making a movie about the pandemic. Just like I wondered whether ‘United 93’ (2006) should have been made in 2006 - so soon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Does it seem a bit distasteful to remake recent history? ‘United 93’ is a great film, though, so hopefully ‘The Sceptred Isle’ will be a worthy depiction of pandemic Britain. Fingers crossed.
Daniel as the Doctor
The odds are already out on who will replace Jodie with bookmakers Betfair lining up the red-hot favourites for the two-hearted Time Lord and his TARDIS. Currently ‘My Family’ and ‘Citizan Khan’ star Kris Marshall is the no.1 favourite with odds of 3/1 followed by ‘The Falling’s Maxine Peake and ‘Game of Thrones’ beauty Natalie Dormer both at 8/1.
I’m more interested, however, in a report by ‘We Got This Covered’ that ‘Get Out, ‘Widows’ and ‘Black Panther’ star Daniel Kaluuya is under consideration for the role.
Now, we’re still in early days and the BBC have refused to comment on the report that Jodie is quitting, but the prospect of Daniel Kaluuya as the 14th Doctor really excites me. He’s a terrific actor - so brilliant in ‘Get Out’ (for which he was Oscar-nominated), ‘Widows’ and ‘Queen and Slim’ last year. His casting would make him almost (and no spoilers here) the first Black Doctor.
I think this would be terrific ground to follow on from the first female Doctor. I just can’t see the Beeb going back to just casting a white male in the lead role again. It would look like they were backtracking on their established political correctness - a notion of “we’ve been a bit PC for two years, so now we can go back to being traditional and reactionary”. On the contrary, the first Black Doctor would be a great step for racial diversity and I’m sure Kaluuya would give a terrific performance as he always does.
Carey’s not hot enough
In ‘Promising Young Woman’, Mulligan plays a woman avenging her raped best friend. The Variety review of the film by film critic Dennis Harvey reads “Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly mult-layered femme fatale - Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems put-on”.
When speaking recently as part of a Variety video series, Mulligan said: “I feel it’s important that criticism is constructive. I think it’s important we are looking at the right things when it comes to work, and we’re looking at the art and we’re looking at the performance.
“And I don’t think that goes to the appearance of the actor or your personal preference for what an actor does or doesn’t look like - which I felt that article did.
“I think in criticising or bemoaning a lack of attractiveness on my part in a character, it wasn’t a personal slight. It didn’t wound my ego, but it made me concerned that in such a big publication an actress’s appearance could be criticised and it could be accepted as completely reasonable criticism”.
Margot Robbie may be conventionally hotter than Carey Mulligan, but Mulligan is the better actress. The awards clearly think so too as the Golden Globes recently awarded her Best Actress. She was right to call out this sexist and lookist review from an obviously very bigoted male critic. I just wish more women would too. #MeToo…
Sex and the City is back?!
Of course, I don’t think ‘Sex and the City’ coming back to TV is as bad as millions dying from Covid, but I do think the criticism was a bit of an overreaction. In the words of Jim Davidson, “it’s comedy, get a life and get your shoulders back on”...
Anyway back to the news. ‘Sex and the City’ will return for 10 half-hour episodes. But there is a catch - ladies contain yourselves! Kim Cattrall - who is the only Brit on the show and the least vile of the leading four - won’t be returning for the new series when it airs on HBO Max.
HBO didn’t say why Cattrall, who plays Samantha, won’t be returning in the new show entitled ‘And Just Like That’ (a reference to one of the show’s original catchphrases). However she has had a pretty tricky relationship with the show in recent years and with the hideous Sarah Jessica Parker in particular.
She specifically said there was a “toxic relationship” with her co-stars. This was when she ruled out appearing in a 3rd ‘Sex and the City’ movie. I just want to highlight the word “toxic” because, to be honest, that couldn’t be a better fitting way to describe the show and perhaps Cattrall realised just how toxic it was and decided to walk out.
All the characters on this show are the definition of vile - VILE, VILE, VILE, VILE! The news of the show’s return makes me want to insert pointed matchsticks under my fingernails. That would be more fun than watching ‘Sex and the City’ and I’m not joking this time…
Chris quits Warner Bros.
He cites the fallout with the studio over their decision to release their entire 2021 movie slate on to HBO Max as the reason for his departure. The controversy generated by the decision isn’t necessarily Warner Bros. choosing to release its movies simultaneously on the popular streaming service with their theatrical release, but more that the studio didn’t consult and discuss its plans with any of the filmmakers operating under the banner.
Since 2005’s ‘Batman Begins’, Nolan’s films have raked in $5.6 billion at the global Box Office with Warner Bros. also putting out ‘Insomnia’ (2002), ‘The Prestige’ (2006), ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), ‘Inception (2010), ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012), ‘Interstellar’ (2014), ‘Dunkirk’ (2017) and ‘Tenet’ (2020). Nolan’s departure is a great loss for Warner Bros. Not only is he currently the world’s 8th most bankable filmmaker, but the only one of them spending over $200 million making original, thought-provoking content. A terrible shame…
Film - ‘Easy A’ (2010)
TV Series and Book - ‘Normal People’
Song - ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush
Food - Lasagne
Drink - Vanilla Cream Soda
Do something you enjoy to help yourself.
Boris’ roadmap out of lockdown
Now, there’s a lot of information to take in here, but film fans will rejoice that drive-in cinemas are set to open on the 12th and general cinemas on May 17th. I’ve certainly missed a trip to the pictures. The restrictions being eased all depends on four tests on vaccines, infection rates and new Covid variants to be met at each stage. Boris claims the plan will be “cautious, but irreversible”. Mr. Johnson also told a Downing Street press conference that the coming spring and summer would be “seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all”.
I watched the press conference and couldn’t believe how much weight the Prime Minister has lost, but also how bald he looks now - he’s gonna be balder than Chris Whitty soon! He put down the reason he got so ill from Covid back in April down to being overweight. Clearly whatever diets and regimes he’s been following have made him less fat and more fit.
It’s amusing how Boris the buffoon chooses to surround himself with the most boring bunch of advisers and politicians this country has ever seen. First there was Dominic Cummings who looked like Lord Voldemort. Then there’s Matt Hancock who is blander than John Major. And now there’s Prof. Chris Whitty who looks like the baby from ‘Family Guy’ and has a permanently red face (I imagine Boris in his put-on posh accent musing “OEEEH I THINK HE’S BEEN OUT IN THE SUN!”). Boris is a lot of things, but boring isn’t one of them.
His government has been criticised for acting too little, too late to previous lockdown measures, but I have to say I’m pretty impressed with this new roadmap. It’s led by “data not dates” and caution rather than Johnson’s trademark over-optimism. The vaccination programme has been a great success and I just can’t wait to be back at the cinema. Roll on May 17th!
Dishy Rishi’s Budget
It’s a very unconservative budget - a very liberal budget you could say. With it, the Tories have essentially become their dreaded nanny state; going against the low tax, small state economics that fundamentally sculpt their right wing ideologies. The Tories constantly accuse Labour’s over-reliance on the role of a big government and a large welfare state as nannying so it’s ironic they’re now doing the nannying themselves. But what other choice do they have in a country with 126K deaths and 4.3 million Covid cases and the UK in its worst recession in 300 years?
I’m fully supportive of the government’s increase in taxes and spending billions of public money. How else are they going to get the economy back on track? Previous government handlings of the pandemic had me thinking of voting Keir Starmer and Labour, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be sticking with the Conservatives. They’re not doing anything objectionable and dishy Rishi is the face of modern, liberal conservatism peeking out from beneath this pandemic…
Sturgeon vs. Salmond
His report stated that Mrs Sturgeon had given an “incomplete narrative of events” to MSPs, but said this was a “genuine failure of recollection” and not deliberate. Mr. Hamilton also says he is of the opinion that Mrs Sturgeon had not breached any of the provisions of the code. The code establishes the standards expected of Scottish government ministers and states that anyone who deliberately misleads Holyrood would be expected to resign.
Mr. Hamilton, however, concluded in his report that Mrs Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code in respect of any of the four issues he considered. These include allegations that Mrs Sturgeon had failed to record a series of meetings and telephone discussions with Mr. Salmond in 2018.
The news over Sturgeon’s clearance will make SNP supporters and Team Nicola very happy. There have been criticisms from some in the SNP about a lack of strategy to force another referendum, but most apparently accept the First Minister as a key asset for the independence movement - many believe she is one of the main reasons for increased support for leaving the UK.
In two days, the Scottish election campaign will be kickstarted and an SNP victory is likely to bring about another independence referendum. Sturgeon has high approval ratings for her response to the pandemic and she’s certainly been more decisive than Boris. What an SNP victory means for the future of the union is up for debate. The Scots voted against independence back in 2014 thanks to the benefits of remaining in the EU, but, with the UK now out of the EU, the demand for devolution has never been higher. This is proof that Brexit could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. I now wish I’d voted Remain…
Harry and Megz on Oprah
I don’t think it’s wrong they should want to take a backseat to all the paparazzi and pizazz of being in the royal family and some of the “Megxit” headlines were shockingly racist. “Rich and exotic DNA, Miss Markle’s mother is a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the track”, “Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family”, “The real problem with Meghan Markle: She just doesn’t speak our language” were just some of the headlines shown on screen.
It doesn’t surprise me either that there were questions about baby Archie’s skin colour in the royal family. After all, this is a family whose Prince Phillip, on meeting the Nigerian President in 2003 who was dressed in traditional robes, said “you look like you’re ready for bed”. There’s always been a stigma about interracial marriages - a sense that it muddies the bloodline. As someone who is half-White British, half-Indian, I know a lot about this stigma. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had to explain to people in disbelief that my mum is white.
Will this be the end of the royal family? I highly doubt it. The monarchy has survived affairs, beheadings and abdications, I doubt it will die out over the claims of a pretty and pregnant former princess and her ginger former prince of a hubby. What the Oprah interview has exposed, however, is that the royals are not that different to us all - full of prejudice both racially and genderly. My thoughts are with Meghan and Harry. They have my vote…
RIP Sarah Everard
There’s talk that there’s going to be plain-clothed police officers policing pubs, bars and nightclubs when they reopen and I fully support this notion to protect women. We men and women need to do everything we can to ensure our daughters, sisters and girlfriends are safe on nights out and at night. The only thing I would urge too is that non-police officer, everyday blokes call out their friends for crimes like sexual harassment. I know people who have groped women in bars and all that happened was that they were kicked out by the bouncer, not arrested for a serious sexual assault like they should be. We need to arrest anyone who has committed this both male and female. Only then will women feel safe when they go clubbing or when they walk home at night. Please do your bit…
15, 92 Mins
‘Easy A’ is narrated by 17 year old Olive Prenderghast who lives in Ojai, California, speaks into her webcam and attends high school. Olive lies to best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michelka) about going on a date in order to escape the prospect of camping with Rhiannon’s hippie parents. Instead, Olive spends the weekend singing Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ around her house - the song is played in a musical greetings card from her grandmother.
Pressured by Rhiannon, Olive lies about losing her virginity to a college boy. Marianne (Amanda Bynes), the blondest, prettiest, most Christian girl in school (who Olive considers prudish), overhears the lie and spreads the rumour that Olive is a “slut” throughout the whole school. The school’s church group run by Marianne decides Olive will be their next project. Olive confides the truth to a boy named Brandon (Dan Byrd) who is bullied for being gay. He later asks Olive to pretend to sleep with him at a party so he will be accepted by the school crowd as a “straight stud”.
Olive and Brandon have fake sex at a party. After a fight with Rhiannon over being called a “dirty skank”, Olive decides to counteract the harassment and embrace her “slut” image as the “school tramp”. Olive starts to wear more provocative clothing. Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’, she stitches an “A” onto her clothing. Boys who are usually unsuccessful with girls now beg Olive to have sex with them to increase their popularity; in exchange for gift cards to various stores. This simultaneously increases her reputation…
Emma Stone’s performance in this movie is a delight. She’ll make you laugh out loud one minute with her show-stopping rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’. She sings in the bedroom and in the shower. That scene made me want to skip down the street with a stride in my step singing along too. You also feel for her when she’s crying. A scene where she walks off in tears after an ill-fated date with a boy named Anson - who actually wanted to sleep with her rather than just pretending to - is particularly moving.
‘Easy A’ tackles the issue of slut shaming. Olive pretends to sleep with her friend Brandon and is called a “dirty skank” by popular girl Rhiannon. This exposes a double standard where if a man was caught sleeping around with attractive women, he’d be seen as a hot player whereas if a woman does it, she is publicly humiliated and called a “slut”.
The film touches on Christianity and its attitudes towards sex before marriage. Marianne, a devout Christian, spreads the lie that Olive is sleeping around throughout the whole school as her supposed promiscuity goes against the Christian belief of no sex before marriage.
‘Easy A’ is the latest in a long line of films to transport and adapt a literary classic to a high-school setting - it’s loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel ‘The Scarlet Letter’. ‘Clueless’ (1995) was based on Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ (1999) on William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. ‘Easy A’ isn’t as good as those films, but it does share their ability to take social issues such as shaming and social stigmatising and make them accessible for a mainstream, teenage audience.
The movie has witty, accessible dialogue. I remember the scene where Micah catches Chlamydia. Chlamydia is such a taboo topic, but ‘Easy A’ busts that blue taboo by having Marianne scream “CHLAMYDIA!” down the phone line followed by “that bitch!”. Makes me laugh so hard!
There are some great supporting performances. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are brilliantly unassuming as Olive’s parents who disapprove mightily of her sexual promiscuity. Thomas Haden-Church is far better here than he was as Sandman in ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007) as prudish teacher Mr. Griffith and Malcolm McDowell gets a great cameo as the principal - a world away from psychopathic Alex in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971).
But it’s Stone’s delightful performance that steals the show. I just wanted to scream “I GOT A POCKETFUL OF SUNSHINE!” from the top of my lungs. This is her show and she steals it.
That’s the textbook definitions and statistical data behind Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but the media stereotypes are much more broad. You’ve all heard people say “I’m a bit OCD about this”. People associate OCD with fear of germs and excessively washing hands and repeatedly checking the door is locked. It’s used in an informal manner unrelated to the real condition to describe someone who is excessively meticulous, a perfectionist, absorbed or otherwise fixated. These are the stereotypes, layman’s talk about OCD. Talk that I fear does injustice and actually stigmatises the reality of living with OCD. I’ve never had a fear of contamination, for example, but I do suffer from OCD and have done for about the last 8 years.
I was first diagnosed with OCD at the age of 16. The year was 2013 - I was diagnosed at Nottingham’s CAMHS team by a Dr.Muller. I had just come back from a school history trip. I was a typical young lad - tall, lanky, unsure about himself - unsure about how to interact with girls in particular. In fact, I had never really got the chance to spend time and interact with girls in such close proximity until this History trip. The trip changed everything. There was this girl I fancied rotten. We had a pretty friendly relationship, as I did with several others in her friendship group. This trip was the first time I felt like I had feelings for girls.
I began to obsess over it. Not in a pervy way. I wasn’t obsessing over her, I was more worried that she was obsessing over me which she wasn’t. I was worried she thought I was a creep and a pervert. I was worried she thought I was a stalker and that she didn’t like me. I started obsessing. I wouldn’t walk under lamp posts or house signs as I was worried it was bad luck and that if I did that, it would mean she wouldn’t like me. When my mum asked me to hang out the washing, I would obsess about colour coding the clothes pegs. The blue pegs had to be together, the pink pegs had to be together and so on and so on.
My worst fear, however, stemmed from my religious beliefs. Since I was born, I have been brought up by a devout Christian mother and attended St.Luke’s Church in West Bridgford and its Sunday school every Sunday morning. I’d been taught to believe in the father, the son and the holy spirit and pray every night before I went to bed. This became obsessive. Soon I was literally reciting the words I needed to say verbatim to be seen as worthy in God’s eyes. The words began with “Dear God” and always, always had to end with “Amen, in Jesus name I ask, Amen, in Jesus name, Amen”. If I didn’t do this, I feared God was going to punish me, that I had sinned and that he would make my friendships and relationships bad. That he’d stop me from getting a girlfriend which is what I really wanted at the time.
My OCD has gone through different phases, different ups and downs. It’s dipped and then peaked and then repeaked on and off for a good space of the past 7 years since my diagnosis in 2013. At one point, I went through a Body Dysmorphic phase. I was a tall, thin lad at school and I became obsessed with the idea that I was scrawny and not muscular enough. I tried to tackle this. My solution was to hit the gym every day, bench-pressing 60kg, pumping weights and running on the treadmill. I wasn’t working out because I wanted a ripped, chiselled abbed 6-pack body - I was working out because I wanted to look like a huge, 200lb+ bodybuilder and was foolish enough to think that I would become this in a matter of months.
I eventually realised that, despite some pretty solid gains, my naturally slim, ectomorphic build was never going to be the size of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and I eventually didn’t want to be. Some of the sexiest men in the world like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp are all ectomorphs. My obsessions didn’t stop, though. They moved from my body to my face. I was obsessed with this idea that I was ugly and unattractive to women. This was the only thing I would think about every day which was in itself a pretty unattractive trait to women. Most girls don’t want a guy who is obsessed with himself more than them. I’d spend hours gelling my hair, trying to get a pompadour haircut like Johnny Depp in ‘Cry Baby’ (1990) and wearing leather jackets and white tops. I was obsessed with looking sexy and, having made some substantial gains on the working out front, felt like I had earned the right to be sexy.
I fell into a depression about my looks. I was regularly self-harming and drinking heavily and getting into trouble with the police. It had to stop and I was the one to put an end to it. It all happened because a friend of mine from church who owned a shop told me “if I hear you’ve been drinking, I will have to kick you out”. My drinking had gotten out of control. I was an alcoholic and was passing out on the streets and having randomers including police officers having to pick me up in cars and take me home. The drinking was a mark of disrespect to this friend of mine who owned the shop and he said if he heard I’d had a drop of Alcohol, he’d exert violence against me. I was pretty shaken by that statement, but it was necessary. If he hadn’t been so clear and tough, I probably would never have stopped drinking and would be getting into even more trouble with the law. I decided to take his advice and quit the booze for good. I haven’t had a drink now (disregarding one brief slip-up last month) since January 2019 and feel so much better for it.
My OCD came back with a vengeance in 2017. The stories were coming out. Stories of sexual harassment. There were allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby among countless others. It was the beginning of the #MeToo movement - a terrific movement where women were finally speaking out against sexual harassment, opening our eyes to the horrors of this very particular practice.
I became obsessed with the idea that I was going to be accused of sexual harassment. That women were watching my every move. I was worried I was ogling people. I was worried I was being lecherous or pervy even though I knew I wasn’t. I felt petrified and paralysed when I met or saw someone I found attractive. On the bus, I would worry when I brushed shoulders with a woman accidentally. I was terrified I was going to get arrested for sexual harassment or something horrific like that.
I still have those fears now. Whenever I meet an attractive woman, I’m constantly questioning myself - is it normal to find her attractive? Am I a lech? Am I a pervert? Am I a normal boy? Whenever I see Margot Robbie on screen in ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ (2019), I feel like such a pervert and a lech for finding her hot. I’ve had to challenge these thoughts and realise that I’m not a lech or a pervert or a sexual harasser. I’m just a normal, straight 23 year old bloke who has crushes and finds women attractive. There’s nothing wrong with that.
So what am I doing to make myself feel better? I’m attending OCD Support Groups run by OCD-UK (although all those are on Zoom now rather than in person for Covid reasons). I’ve started a new therapy entitled Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which I was previously unaware of. It’s basically about accepting your obsessive, intrusive thoughts and learning to live with them. That therapy hasn’t been going very well, though, as my CPN has been off sick. I have to say my treatment with the adult mental health team has been pretty poor - my nurses have often been off sick or on holiday, often when I’ve needed them most, and they’ve regularly mucked up my appointments.
I’ve also been taking 200mg of Clomipramine - a tricyclic antidepressant and one of the most common medications used to treat OCD. The medication is good - it’s certainly taken the edge of things in terms of my anxiety. The wincing physical pain of the anxiety is certainly lessened, but the obsessions remain and the compulsions persist. Medication can only take you so far, the rest in your road to recovery is all on you and I’m ready to start taking control of my mind and my obsessions...
15, 129 Mins
‘The Mauritanian’ follows Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Rahim) who was captured by the US government and is languishing in Guantanamo Bay detention camp without any charge or trial. As he loses all hope, Salahi finds aid in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley). They face a number of obstacles in their increasingly desperate pursuit of justice. The team’s controversial advocacy, along with fabricated evidence revealed by military prosecutor Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), eventually uncovers a shocking and far-reaching conspiracy.
Unlike many films based on real-life political cases, ‘The Mauritanian’ is profoundly cinematic. It takes place in the confined settings of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in airless rooms where the walls appear to be caving in and the legal offices and courtrooms of Jodie Foster’s Nancy Hollander. This could all look very procedural and televisual, but MacDonald manages to make these locations suitable for the big screen by honing in on minute details. For example, a close-up shot of a door handle or a tracking shot of Foster’s car pulling into a multi-story car park.
The politics of this movie are rather on-the-nose. There’s a scene of Tahar Rahim repeatedly saying “I’m innocent” for goodness sake. It could have been more subtle - politics are often more subtle when not literally mouthed by characters.
There’s also horror elements to this story. The torture scenes are very hard to watch and resemble that of a horror film in the hallucinogenic scenes of men and women in animal masks tormenting Mohamedou. It makes for scary viewing.
Ultimately, however, it’s the performances that make the film worth viewing. Jodie Foster is typically steely and her brusque voice sounds so suited to reading legal terminology. Tahar Rahim has a completely different role to playing sexy serial killer Charles Sobhraj in ‘The Serpent’ (2021). This is a much more minimalist performance that relies on minute gestures such as the tilt of the head or a stutter. He really captures Mohamedou’s anguish, fear and little boy terror at being incarcerated and tortured in airless rooms. Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent, meanwhile, isn’t great and Shailene Woodley has a rather thankless supporting role as Hollander’s legal assistant Duncan.
I wish the movie’s wishy-washy liberal politics were more subtle and less on-the-head, but there’s an inspirational story here and some great performances from Foster and Rahim.
‘The Mauritanian’ is on Amazon Prime from April 1st.
Meet Roshan Chandy
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
Roshan's Top 5 Films of the Week
2. Cruella (in cinemas)
3. After Love (in cinemas)
4. Dream Horse (in cinemas)
5. Frankie (in cinemas)
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