FOUNDER The Independent Student Newspaper of Royal Holloway, University of London
Volume 10, Issue 5
RHUL Gets Race Equality Bronze Award
I , Too, Am Royal Holloway Campaign page 4
BY KYLE HOEKSTRA NEWS EDITOR
The Benefits of Buying Local page 10
Royal Holloway received the Race Equality Charter Mark Award on 20th January, which recognises efforts to create an inclusive community and address issues faced by students and staff of ethnic minorities. The Race Equality Charter (REC) award is given to any member institutions who demonstrate efforts to promote inclusion and diversity. At an event in central London, HR Director Cheryl Newsome and Equalities Officer Susan Lee received the award on behalf of Royal Holloway. Royal Holloway is only one of eight universities in the UK to receive the award. Other universities holding the award include UCL, Kings College London and the University of Manchester. All three universities were also awarded the Bronze Level accolade.
Revenge Porn page 11
Arts A Dream Come True for the West End page 12
Music Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ page 14
Film Photo provided by royalholloway.ac.uk
Jo Johnson MP, Universities and Science Minister, said, “These awards recognise the hard work of many universities to improve diversity on campus. This Government is committed to ensuring everybody has the opportunity to benefit from higher education,
and want to see 20% more BME students entering HE by 2020. The Race Equality Charter is a welcome step towards helping meet that common goal.” An evaluation of REC’s impact will be undertaken in 2020.
HARBEN LETS your oldest and largest private landlord www.harbenlets.co.uk 07973 224125
Review of Legend page 20
The New ‘Real Woman’ page 23
Editor@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Content 3 News 9 Comment 11 Features 12 Arts
About The Founder The Founder is the independent student newspaper of Royal Holloway, University of London. This means we are not affiliated to the students union or college. We pride ourselves on our investigative journalism and aim to keep our readers up to date with news on and off campus. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Editors, particularly of comment and opinion pieces. Every effort has been made to contact the holders of copyright for any material used in this issue, and to ensure the accuracy of its stories.
How to get involved The Founder is always looking for contributors - without them, we wouldn’t have a paper! As you’ll see from this issue, we print a huge variety of articles. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to write about and you aren’t sure whether it’s appropriate, just email our editor (email@example.com) and they will be happy to discuss any ideas you have.
Our Editorial Board 2015/16 Editor Jasper Watkins Managing Editor Dominic Pini Deputy News Editor Daniel Brady
Editor/Designer Sami Roberts News Editor Kyle Hoekstra Comment Editor Joe Burns
Features Editor Alex Santema
Arts Editor Laura Burnett
Lifestyle Editor Eleanor McCloskey
Sport Editor Sam Williams
Music Editor Natasha Barrett
Film Editor Zak Derler
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The next content deadline is 14th March!
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Rent Strike Declared at UCL BY KYLE HOEKSTRA NEWS EDITOR Over 150 students at UCL are withholding their rent for university halls which they say have become unaffordable. They declared on 25th January that they are withholding £250,000 in rent until the university agrees to a 40% cut. According to UCL ‘Cut the Rent’, UCL has increased the average rent by 56% since 2009, resulting in over £15 million profit for the university. “We see a culture of universities pumping their students for money via their accommodation by matching the cost of halls with that of the private sector, despite owning the buildings outright and having the ability to charge below market rates.” UCL’s Director of Estates, Andrew Grainger, responded on 29 January, saying that “rents are competitive in comparison with equivalent London institutions, and have risen more slowly in recent years.” He added that they are also less expensive than rents in the private sector stating that “UCL does not make a profit on rent from student accommodation. Surplus is reinvested into the estate.” According to UCL, over 74% of accommodation falls below £180 a week, including 1,275 bed spaces below £150 a week, which includes all utilities, broadband and insurance. In October, students from Campbell House West were awarded around £1,300 each by a judge following a successful rent strike. Construction work had made their rooms so noisy that they were unable to sleep or study in their rooms, and rat infestations made living conditions unbearable. UCL threatened to expel the strikers or impose academic sanctions, but reversed this position after union officers argued sanctions would not be legal.
Former Bedford College Staff Retires After 44 Years BY KYLE HOEKSTRA NEWS EDITOR
After starting work at Bedford College 44 years ago, Resources Technician Mary Atkins is retiring from her role in the Psychology Department which she has held since November 1st 1971. Mary moved to Royal Holloway in July 1985 with the merger of Bedford and Royal Holloway Colleges. Speaking in a recording produced for Royal Holloway’s YouTube channel, Mary described her earliest memories of the introduction of Apple Mac Classic computers at Bedford College and fondly recalled taking part in the Psychology Department’s annual pantomime over the years. “I’m very grateful to everyone whose made my time here really enjoyable. It’s been really nice, especially working in the Psychology Department.”
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I, Too, Am News@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
BY KYLE HOEKSTRA NEWS EDITOR
Students campaign to expose racism
Students in the RHUL Black & Ethnic Minority society begin the ‘I, Too, Am Royal Holloway’ campaign to highlight racism on campus. Inspired by similar campaigns at Cambridge, the society shared a series of photographs on its Facebook page on 21 January. Members stood in Founder’s North Quad, holding signs which expressed the racism they have experienced above the tag #ITooAmRoyalHolloway. Among the 19 photographs included: “Spotted: Boy making monkey gestures at me in the library!” “No, you weren’t as dark as me when you went on holiday and got a tan.” The series attracted enough attention for The Tab Royal Holloway to publish an article with the headline “BME students ‘feel excluded’ by Queen Victoria’s Empress of India statue”, identifying one of the complaints from the students, before editing the title following pressure and then removing the article altogether (at the time of writing) for unknown reasons. It was picked up by The Telegraph, which described “the racism they allegedly face on campus and their discomfort with a statue of Queen Victoria.” Grace Almond, a member of the RHUL BME society, authored an article on Consented.co.uk in reaction to comments the campaign had received on Facebook and The Tab and suggested that attention towards the statue had taken over coverage of the campaign. She said students had “used our experiences as a platform to begin debate, capitalising on our messages and failing to understand the point of our campaign. “Our expression of our oppression should not have been used as a device for them to debate on issues in such a disconnected way. This is not a debate – this is our reality.”
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Photos provided by Facebook page of RHUL Black & Ethnic Minority/BME
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RHUL Makes Profit on Avengers: Age of Ultron BY KYLE HOEKSTRA NEWS EDITOR
Royal Holloway charged Marvel Studios £2,236 to film scenes for Avengers: Age of Ultron on university premises, reveals a Freedom of Information Request by The Founder. It found that given limited associated costs, the university was able to make a decent profit. For comparison, Avengers: Age of Ultron, directed by Joss Whedon, was released in May 2015 and grossed over $1.4 billion worldwide, making it the seventh-highest-grossing film in history. A spokesperson said, “As we don’t work out profit on a daily basis it is difficult to give an exact figure.” “For location use, we generally have low overheads and our staffing costs are fixed, so the majority of filming income goes back into supporting the college.” Filming took place across one day on 30 July, 2014. Revenues from location use go towards upkeep of the College estate and investment in infrastructure and services. The scene in the movie (at 1:11:49) lasts about ten seconds and features character Erik Slevig (Stellan Skarsgård) walking from the west side of Founder’s Building to meet Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who stands by a car.
BY DANIEL BRADY DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR
Royal Holloway Features on BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys
Royal Holloway has recently featured on the BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys, a travel documentary series presented by ex-Conservative MP Michael Portillo. Before visiting Royal Holloway, the former cabinet minister travelled to Woking, Walton, Hampton Court Palace and Esher, observing various local places such as the RHS Wisley and Brookland’s Museum, amongst others. At Royal Holloway, he had an interview with Principal Professor Paul Layzell about the history of the College, its founder Thomas Holloway and the role of women in higher education. He then spoke with Curator Dr Laura MacCulloch about
the Picture Gallery and archives. Professor Paul Layzell, said, “It was a great pleasure to meet Michael and hear more about his trips and we are delighted to be part of the series. The theme of the episode is to explain how Victorian institutions changed norms and behaviours in society. It reminds us of the significant impact that Royal Holloway and Bedford Colleges had in ensuring equality of treatment for women through their pioneering education programmes.” Great British Railway Journeys and this episode in particular can be viewed on BBC iPlayer.
FOUNDER News Around You News@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Gowar and Wedderburn Fire Alarm Feud Escalates BY DANIEL BRADY DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR Tensions have risen over the past month between residents of Gowar, Wedderburn and Fire-Safety Officers as the number of false fire alarms has risen dramatically. The increased number of these alarms has ultimately resulted in the university's Fire Safety Officer contacting residents of Gowar and Wedderburn, warning them of the risks involved in falsely activating the fire alarms. In his email, he states that smoke and heat detectors have been targeted by naked flames, whilst students have also been wedging doors open whilst cooking, which activates the fire alarms in the hallways and bedrooms. It was also stated that there has been evidence of residents “tampering” with fire alarms in their bedrooms. Whilst accidents do occur and there is generally no malicious intent when
students prop doors open, there is suggestion of a rivalry between both Halls of Residence. In his email, he suggested “there may be some kind of misguided feud/competition,” as each block attempts to compete against one another. It is unlikely there is a significant amount of planning involved in these “attacks,” however the frequency of these alarms is growing, with alarms being set off almost daily. The officer says, “Whatever is driving you to do this, I am asking you now to stop; before someone gets hurt, or worse.” While the severity of these so called “attacks” is vast and ongoing, the true severity of these incidents will only be seen if vital services are diverted to false alarms, therefore endangering lives elsewhere on campus or in the local area.
Penrose Court Residents Granted Compensation for Persistent Problems BY DANIEL BRADY DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR Students who live in Penrose Court have recently been granted compensation after experiencing problems with their heating and water pressure. Both the College and Students’ Union have secured compensation for students, who have been subjected to a series of ongoing problems throughout the year.
After decisions made by members of the College and with input from the Students’ Union, it was agreed that the students affected, numbering almost 200, should receive £250 in compensation. The £250 is equivalent to around two weeks rent for students living in Penrose Court, which is a fair settlement in repayment for the inconvenience placed on them; most of whom are experiencing their first
time living away from home. The compensation is being paid directly to students College Card’s. This form of reimbursement means students will receive the money directly; it will not pass through sponsors or parents who have not personally experienced the issues the residents have faced. In a post on the SU website, Jack Kilker, Co President of Welfare and Diversity said, “The Students’ Union
would like to say a massive thank you to the College, and especially the premises team, for ensuring that these students have received appropriate compensation for the issues that they’ve faced, and we hope that these students feel that this is sufficient to cover the issues that have affected them while in their accommodation.”
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FOUNDER Comment Islamic State’s Destruction of And its impact on Cultural Heritage classical studies email@example.com / @rhulfounder
BY DANIEL BRADY DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR In recent years, Islamic State have gained increased notoriety for abhorrent acts across the globe. More recently, a focus has emerged in regards to the deliberate destruction and theft of cultural heritage across Iraq, Syria and, in parts, Libya. Whilst recording these acts is difficult due to their occurrence within IS controlled areas, it is believed more than 100 churches, monasteries and religious houses have been razed to the ground in Mosul and many Christian villages surrounding it, such as Qaraqosh and Bashiqa, since 2014. The scale of this heinous destruction is hard to monitor, although satellite images continue to track it on a vast scale. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has labelled these activities as "a form of cultural cleansing,” for many militants believe that Islam is the only religion and must be adopted by followers of all other faiths. Broadly speaking, one reason for this destruction is founded in the group’s attack of polytheism and therefore their rejection of the worship of idols that these sites represent. The destruction of these sites is not only for ideological purposes, but antiquities looted from sites are known to be financing IS’s activities. Despite the United Nations ban on the trade of many of these, it is well known that these artefacts have been smuggled and sold in underground antique markets, specifically found in Europe and North America. I personally think, whilst the motives for these actions is a culmination of the discussed points, IS act in these ways to shock and draw the world's attention to them, perhaps in an attempt to demonstrate their apparent power and increase the influence of its caliphate. Despite this, it is important to reflect on these global issues and attempt to come to terms with them by observing their impact on an academic level, a method which has helped form ideas in preserving and saving these pieces of history. The simplicity of visiting a site and taking in its physical presence and atmosphere is of paramount importance for any professional, therefore whilst some may argue
simply seeing images of the sites is enough, it is never comparable to actually absorbing a site or handling relics, in a tangible sense. It is widely known that historians base much
After the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin, Palmyra in August 2015, the Institute for Digital Archaeology, a joint venture between Harvard University and the University of Oxford announced plans
IS act in these ways to shock and draw the world's attention to them, perhaps in an attempt to demonstrate their apparent power and increase the influence of its caliphate. of their research through antiquarianism, or the study of artefacts, historical sites and physical evidence, therefore the destruction of these sites is, in one sense, slowing the progress of studying the history of Christianity and other religions that these sites represent. The brutal murder of Khaled al-Asaad, a renowned Syrian archaeologist and the head of antiquities for the ancient city of Palmyra, demonstrates the barbarity of IS and the determination they hold in crushing the beliefs of others, which should motivate the western world to fight in the preservation of what Al-Asaad worked for. What has been destroyed is not merely ancient ruins, but key in the fight against IS; they are a memory of the past and whilst they still exist they demonstrate that IS will never be in control. Royal Holloway is home to a strong classical history department and therefore the study of ancient sites is crucial, an example being to aid the understanding of how civilisations functioned and how people lived. This is reflected not just nationally but globally, and universities’ reliance on this form of study has an extremely influential effect.
to establish a digital record of historical sites and artefacts threatened by IS. To accomplish this goal, the IDA, in collaboration with UNESCO, aim to deploy 5,000 3D cameras to partners in the Middle East, which will capture 3D scans of local ruins and relics. It is believed that, should the artefacts be destroyed, the 3D imagery will be used to make exact replicas. This preservation will have an extremely positive impact on the study of these historical sites as it will mean studies can continue, despite a site’s destruction. That being said, technology cannot simply replace thousand-year-old pieces of history and only time will truly tell the damage done to the study of the past. It is a brilliant and innovative solution to the issue. However, it will clearly never truly emulate the physicality of an object which holds thousands of years’ worth of history. This destruction will continue until IS are stopped, but until that point we can only hope, naïvely, that no further damage will be inflicted to these sites; not just for our sake but for the sake of future generations, who will never witness the work of their ancestors.
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The Benefits of Local and the Struggle to Dump Tesco BY JOE BURNS COMMENT EDITOR Tesco, Amazon, Topshop, ASOS, Apple, HMV, H&M, Ikea... huge international retailers that dominate the global market and continue to grow. These places make it incredibly easy to quickly and cheaply buy products without needing to leave your room. We all shop at these places because it’s convenient and cheap. It’s the best deal for us. When I was living in Founders during first year, I remember seeing box after box with ASOS written across it come through the post system. Literally every time I went down to get post someone would walk by with an ASOS box. Either that or an Amazon package. But imagine if you spent your days skilfully making a quality product, happily buying and selling locally, then someone comes and stands next you with the same product, only it is made somewhere across the planet for a quarter of the price and is sold at half the price of yours. Everyone around you starts buying the other guy’s product because it is cheaper and more readily available. After a while, he makes so much money that he can
that it’s better to buy things from people you can look in the eye and talk to. To make matters even more annoying, these international corporations are often the ones not paying their fair share of national tax. They trade in the country but don’t see the need to pay up because they’re not “based” here. Google has recently come under fire for basing its tax programme in Ireland and only paying £130 million in UK tax over the last decade. Google makes roughly £60 billion a year in revenues. While giving evidence to MPs at a Public Accounts Committee in early February, Matt Brittin, the President of EMEA Business & Operations at Google, failed to remember how much he gets paid every year. The people working at the top of international mega-corporations are clearly in a different world from your local shopkeepers. It’s a narrative we all understand because it’s correct: “don’t give your money to faceless international corporations. Shop at your local instead.” When you buy a sandwich from Tesco, you send your money through their system to the top of the
It is easy to understand why you maybe shouldn’t spend your money at these places, but making the decision to stop and carry out that decision is more difficult. cheaply employ all your friends to sell his product for him while he buys a second home in Monaco and is never seen again. You’re left with no customers. You’d be very annoyed, I imagine. This is Tesco. This is Amazon. The only thing to do is spread the word and tell people
pile. The workers in Tesco don’t get paid anywhere near the amount paid to executives. You’d be better buying a sandwich from the shop down the road, the shop run by Martin. Research suggests Martin probably shops locally too and has children
at the local school. Several studies have found that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses. This can only strengthen the economic base of the community. It encourages people to work together rather than in a top-dominant system. I could write another article about why it is better for everyone to spend money locally but you can find that out from reading online. It’s more ethical, better for the environment, you often get a better service and you encourage and get to know the people living around you. But many students like myself only seem shop at huge multinational retailers. I still buy lunch from Tesco and buy books on Amazon. I feel incredibly guilty walking past a local fruit and veg shop with a four pack of Tesco bananas in my bag. Why do I still do it? The reasons are simple: it is most often cheaper, clearer and more convenient. It is easy to understand why you maybe shouldn’t spend your money at these places, but making the decision to stop and carry out that decision is more difficult. It seems that the people running local shops need to work harder to encourage young people and students to spend money on their products rather than on Amazon. So remember, spending money at these places is like personally donating to Rupert Murdoch’s yacht fund. It’s just a shame Brian McBride isn’t as well known.
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e g n e v Re n r o P
BY VIKRAMJEET SOKHI
Taking sexy selfies or intimate videos of ourselves is not a new trend. When handheld camcorders hit the market in the 1970s, they were used for recording family holidays as well as private moments. Similarly, Polaroid cameras in the 1980s were used creatively when they became widely available. However, in those days, if the wrong person discovered a private video or picture, the material would not travel far. These days, however, provocative selfies and videos of intimate moments are easier to capture than ever on our smartphones. A close friend of mine recently experienced the backlash of our unlimited access to portable recording devices. After breaking up with her boyfriend, her ex
sought revenge by publicly sharing a private video of them. Within seconds, their most private moments were publicly available to an infinite number of online voyeurs. Revenge porn is the publication of
explicit material of someone who has not consented for the image or video to be shared. The effects can be traumatising – my girlfriend and I spent most of Christmas trying to assist our friend in minimising her reputational damage and supporting her emotionally. What our friend’s ex probably did not know is that his actions are a crime. Uploading explicit material without the consent of the other person is legally classed as violence, harassment and an offence. Criminal law makes it illegal to disclose a "private sexual photograph or film" without the consent of the person depicted in the content, and with the intent to cause the victim distress. Our friend’s ex-boyfriend has been arrested and charged. Perpetrators of revenge porn are likely to be sentenced to a minimum of 2 years, plus a fine, and incur large legal costs. On top of
this, there are the obvious consequences, as future career restrictions. The law also states that if a third party (e.g. an acquaintance) receives revenge porn and shares the material to others, the third party will also be charged for distributing sexual images without the consent of the owner. To save yourself a lot of trouble, the best course of action when receiving unwanted personal images is to delete them immediately and under no circumstances forward them. Fortunately, that website that contained the material of my friend promptly removed the content once we contacted them. Many social media sites have rules that forbid use r s from posting intimate images distributed without the subject’s consent. Once notified by a revenge porn victim, the major social media players will take down postings, and close the account of the user who posted images or videos of someone without their permission. If you find an unwanted video or photo of yourself on the internet, contact the website administrator and tell them it was posted without permission. More often than not, content will be deleted promptly. Revenge Porn is emotionally damaging and serves to only degrade the victim. It is a good idea to talk about these topics with your partner at the start of the relationship. A solid tip is agreeing on what happens to any private material before you start spicing things up for the camera. If you happen to become the victim of revenge porn anyway, do not hesitate to report the perpetrator to the police, as the distributer of the material will be arrested. If you are the perpetrator, your actions could come back and haunt you in the future. There have been numerous cases of individuals who have been reported to employers as someone who has shared revenge porn and been subsequently dismissed. Being aware of somebody distributing private material and taking no action can in turn lead to your own prosecution, so keep your eyes open and your pants on to avoid any issues.
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A ‘Dream’ Come True for the West End BY LAURA BURNETT ARTS EDITOR Following its adaptation into an Oscar-winning motion picture starring Beyoncé and Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls comes to the west end this year with an all-star cast featuring Glee star Amber Riley. Inspired by R&B music acts in 1960s America, and loosely based upon the story of The Supremes and Motown Records, Dreamgirls charts the rise to stardom of young female singing trio The Dreams as they struggle for success against the hold of their manipulative record executive. While cast particulars are yet to be revealed, the production will feature the original 1981 book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and memorable music by Henry Krieger. The revival will also be directed and choreographed by Olivier and Tony-award winner Casey Nicholaw, the brains behind highly successful musical The Book of Mormon. Best known for her role as Mercedes Jones in the global award winning television musical comedy Glee, Riley will play soulful singer ‘Effie White’, belting renditions of classic songs, ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’ and ‘One Night Only’. In a role made famous by Jennifer Hudson in the 2006 film, this will be the American actress’s debut in the west end. Riley says, ‘I am so honoured and excited to not only be playing such an iconic role, but also to be working with Sonia Friedman and Casey Nicholaw. Working on the West End is now a dream realised, I just feel like this is going to be something special!’ London’s Savoy Theatre will host performances from November 2016.
Photo provided by Blair Caldwell
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Rhapsody/The Two Pigeons at the Royal Opera House BY LAURA BURNETT ARTS EDITOR The Royal Ballet and sparkling perfection ing to paint a portrait of the Young Girl (Yuhui go hand-in-hand, their latest offering at the Choe) who is unable to sit still in position. InRoyal Opera House proving no exception. Cel- creasingly exasperated, the Young Man is further ebrating the excellence of Frederick Ashton, in- distracted by a neighbour and other dancers until cluding his Rhapsody and The Two Pigeons, the two pigeons fly past the window of the studio, diperformance is engaging from the outset and verting his attention to the outside world. A group demonstrates the enduring appeal of Ashton’s of passing gypsies enter the studio and a Gypsy legendary choreography. Girl (Itziar Mendizabal) attracts the interest of the Showcasing the enormous talent of the com- Young Man, eventually abandoning the Young pany, Rhapsody features a 12-strong ensemble and two virtuoso turns from Francesca Haywood and James Hay. Originated by Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1980, Hay performs the role with sharp musical timing and an impressive strength that is successfully matched by Hayward’s mesmerising presence as Hay’s romantic counterpart. The revival also sees the return of Ashton and William Chappel’s original design, the dancers drenched in shimmering gold that glistens from head to toe. This beauty is complimented by Rachmaninoff ’s soaring score Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, an emotional accompaniment that elevates Ashton’s choreography to breath-taking heights. Before the overture to The Two Pigeons, the audience cannot doubt The Royal Ballet’s infamous reputation as a leading player in world ballet. With music by André Messager, The Two Pigeons follows the Young Man, Photo provided by www.roh.org.uk (Alexander Campbell) an artist, striv-
Girl and leaving with the enticing gypsies. A comic cat fight and dramatic arm wrestle ensue, while the Young Man begins to realise that his muse may have been in front of him all along. Campbell and Choe are stunning as the Young Man and Young Girl, capturing the comedy of Ashton’s choreography while delivering the piece with style and finesse. Motif and metaphor pervade the performance as the Young Girl’s movements take on a bird-like form: arms flap, heads jut and pointe shoes shiver and twitch impatiently. This comic imagery develops through the ballet as the Young Girl grows, becoming softer at the closing moments of the narrative. Further depth is provided by Mendizabal, dancing the bohemian Gypsy Girl with an undeniable exuberance that is eye-catching and infectious. Jacques Dupont’s imaginative and extravagant design of the gypsy costume is wonderfully vibrant, an injection of life that highlights the contrast between the artist’s studio and the gypsy culture with magnificence. The American dance writer Robert Gottlieb saw The Two Pigeons and wrote in 2004: ‘What moves Ashton––and us––is love fulfilled. Which is why, in this post-ironic, postmodern world, we need him more than ever.’ Highly accessible and entertaining, this is the charm of Ashton’s work. A must-see for all first-timers and lovers of ballet.
Music@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Formation BY NATASHA BARRETT MUSIC EDITOR
White Feminism and Systemic Racism
Last week Beyoncé released the video for her new single ‘Formation’, and then followed it up with a mind-blowing Super Bowl performance of the song. As per usual with anything Beyoncé does, the public were quick to look for ways to criticise her and seemingly landed on the political elements of the video, which I’ve spent the past week catching up with to make sure that as a white woman, I understand exactly what racist critics are attempting to argue. Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance involved a troop of dancers dressed in outfits representative of the Black Panther Party, to celebrate the women who were involved in their campaigns. Obviously this really got the Twitter abuse flowing and the track has become a hot news topic since its release, but if there’s one thing we can count on Beyoncé for, it’s sticking by her political values and making a strong statement regardless of certain members of the public objecting. White feminism has been a problem since the beginning of feminism and its continued existence has been made clear by specific groups of feminists criticising Beyoncé for not ‘being inclusive of all women’ with her recent themes. This was obviously followed up by people pointing out that women of colour really deserve some mentions of their own having been overshadowed by white women since the beginning of time. The music video for ‘Formation’ references New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina and contains footage of Beyoncé sat on top of a sinking police car. This is paired with powerful lyrics celebrating black history and culture as well as making a stark comment on police brutality, systemic racism and racial violence. At one point during the video a young boy dances in front of a group of police officers armed with riot gear, this is followed by graffiti that reads ‘STOP SHOOTING US’. The scene has been acknowledged as a reference to the shooting of Treyvon Martin who would have turned twenty-one on the fifth of February just before Beyoncé’s video was released. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have publicly shown their support of campaigns like Black Lives Matter despite the criticism of right wing media outlets that are desperate to claim that these campaigns act as a declaration of war or a danger to the public. This video the lyrics of ‘Formation’ serve to reinforce this support and draw attention to racial injustice. Following this inevitable backlash from right wing
groups and white feminism groups, the Super Bowl performance on the first Sunday of February built upon Beyoncé’s message, involving a powerful dance routine with women of colour in costumes representative of the Black Panther movement. Beyoncé’s performance made a statement against both racism and misogyny but as with the video, was seen by certain media outlets as an insult to police officers and followed up by the right wing comments that arise when anything race/ women/LGBT related comes up in the news. The main issue with this backlash is that these people who claim that political statements against racism are not inclusive of white people or represent some sort of attack on the public, are no where near as quick to comment when racial violence is addressed in the news. Specifically in relation to the Super Bowl performance, it’s also important to remember that the Black Panther Party was originally created for self defence, allowing Beyoncé to point out that self defence is still incredibly necessary for people of colour, particularly considering recent race related attacks by police forces and the public. Ronnisha Johnson and Reema Calloway, organisers of the Black Lives Matter campaign, also succeeded in getting Beyoncé’s backing dancers to pose with a ‘JUSTICE 4 MARIO WOODS’ sign, drawing attention to death of a twenty-six-year-old black man at the hands of police officers in December. As far as the song ‘Formation’ is concerned outside of its strong political statements, the track is very much in line with Beyoncé’s self titled album, released in 2013 and described as experimental. It seems Beyoncé is continuing on the road of more experimental material and is still going strong in regards to working important social commentary into her music. Despite mixed responses to these social comments, the song seems to have been popular among fans, reaching number two with Billboard and the Twitter Top Tracks Chart. I personally enjoy this experimental genre that works in a vast variety of sounds and voices. ‘Formation’ is upbeat, powerful and captures the attention of its listeners immediately before going on to hold it right up until the last few seconds.
That One Deaf Music Critic Should I Sit Or Should I Stand? Recently, in the same week, I went to a Hozier gig and a Keaton Henson gig. One was a fairly high energy, blues-y, rock-y gig for which I had standing tickets. The other was a quiet, gentle performance for which there were only seated tickets. Despite this being the first gig in quite a while that I haven't been standing for, it easily went to the top of my list and I consider it the best concert I've ever been to. All despite the fact that I have always been extremely opposed to sitting down at a concert. Of course, genre naturally plays a role. Standing makes sense at rock gigs. But at a show where the singer is pouring out emotion from a long time ago, putting themselves on display, vulnerable and open... Yeah, maybe I should sit down. The annoying thing is, had there been standing tickets, I still would have bought them, even knowing what I do about Keaton Henson's live shows. And I'm still going to buy standing tickets to other gigs, even knowing that I'll have to turn up an hour before doors open to get a decent spot, and that I might not have time for a burrito beforehand, and that I won't be able to get beers without losing my spot unless I go to a gig with another person. But I rarely do. You'll still find me standing outside the venue, phone in hand, bouncing on the spot, looking up relevant details I might be able to put in my review.
FOUNDER Music Music@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Review BY SAM BARKER
Opening for Hozier was Wyvern Lingo, an all-female funk-influenced folk rock trio with only a keyboard synth, guitar and drums. They tried their best, all of them singing at points, with the drummer delivering the best vocals, and getting the audience moving around to songs that sounded faintly like Hozier’s “Jackie and Wilson.” Ultimately, though, their performance was marred by muddy sound design and a static staging that wasn’t aided by a strong enough stage presence from any of the three. They were okay. Hozier is a bit of a unique stage act because he has managed to change the way critics approach his shows. While most live acts should be judged on how well they surpass their recorded output, or even improve on it, Hozier is not. So full of crescendos and passion (and, yes, reverb) was Hozier’s debut, self-titled album that the challenge when playing live always seemed to be simply matching the energy of the album. On the 30th of January, 2016, at that O2 Academy Brixton, he did. All despite clearly battling with a cough or a bad throat, causing him to sip tea throughout. It didn’t affect his singing, though, as the only issue with the vocals was the mixing which at times had Hozier’s voice turned up to clipping and distortion volume levels. As far as I could tell he played all of his songs, and even managed to work in a cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” and David Bowie’s “Young Americans.” The Bowie cover was sadly unspectacular, but enjoyable nonetheless. “Blackbird,” on the other hand, was confusingly delightful. With a rhythm section that emulated the sound of steel drums under a typically staccato Hozier melody (dun-pause-dun-dun), it probably Photo provided by theguardian.com shouldn’t have worked, but did anyway. The nicest thing about Hozier is that the one presentation of his music makes the roots of it all very evident. We can clearly see and hear the blues and funk in some of his songs. This was accentuated even more by Hozier’s solo in, and the call and response intro to, “To Be Alone.” “To Be Alone” was also accompanied with a blue-lit stage design that called to mind Jack White’s live performances, a mid that makes sense considering it was the most bluesy song in the set. Opening as it did with the drive of “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” Cherry Wine made for a good let down as the last song of the encore and the last song of the show. I did have some gripes with the gig though. It’s a pity the audience never let Hozier finish a song audibly, applauding through the last 30 second of each song. Also, did every song really need a section where the audience was prompted to clap along, inevitably out of time? Probably not.
Music@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
BY FRANCESCA MUDANNAYAKE
Gearing up for the release of her debut album, Control, The Founder had the opportunity to have a chat with alt-RnB songstress Rosie Lowe. Counting Elton John as one of her fans, Lowe is making waves within the British music scene and is signed to Paul Epworthâ€™s label, Wolf Tone.
R Interview with
Music@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
What made you underrepresented part of the music Your lyrics showcase your multi-faceted personality. You’re very sassy in get into music? industry. Is it important for you to inspire the next generation of females to start producing?
I was brought up in a creative, musical household (my dad is a saxophonist) so music was a huge part Learning production has been intrinsic for me of our upbringing. I start- and my creative output–it’s enabled me to capture ed learning piano and violin age 5 and there’s never my vision of how I want my music to sound and been anything else I’ve wanted to do since. how I want a song to feel, both sonically and emotionally. It’s meant I haven’t had to rely on anyone else to do something that is so personal to me. The music industry is still very much a male dominated one- and production and engineering even more so. There are quite a few women who have produced There are so many musicians that have inspired their own music in the past (Bjork, Janet Jackson me, from Joni Mitchell and Carole King, to Michael etc.) but haven’t got any recognition for it. It’s pretty Jackson and TLC. I fell in love with jazz singers Ella standard practice that if a man is involved in a reFitzgerald and Billie Holiday from a really young cord the assumption is he did all the creative stuff. I’m passionate about encouraging women to do age. I would say my biggest inspiration has been whatever it is they want to do and to see their viErykah Badu as someone who is in complete control of her art. She made me believe I could do it all- sion through. If I was 10 years old again and could from the song writing to the production. She has an see women like Missy Elliot, Bjork, Grimes, Eska honesty and a playfulness to her which is so special. producing their own music (and others'), I would have been inspired to start production so much earlier and would therefore be so much further in that. It’s important that no creative roles are seen as just male or female ones–no note or chord is female nor male–it’s just played good or bad.
Growing up, which musicians inspired you?
Your upcoming album is called ‘Control.’ Is there any significance behind the title? Your recent single is called ‘Woman.’ I When I was writing the album lyrics out, the word ‘control’ was unintentionally in most of the songs; interpreted it as a song about it’s a theme that was reoccurring through my music and one that I’ve been battling with the last few years having strength despite living in a soin my life. ciety that places a lot of value on looks. Who did you collaborate with in terms What did the song mean for you? of producers on the album? Yeah you’re right–I’m glad you got that from it. For My main collaborator on Control was Dave Okumu who I feel so lucky to have been on this part of my journey with. He’s been intrinsic in making the creative process for my debut such a joyful and beautiful experience. I've also had the pleasure of working with Machinedrum on ‘Worry ‘Bout Us’ and Jam City on a song called ‘Gone’ – both are on the album too.
You’re flying the flag on behalf of female producers – a really
me, ‘Woman’ is about being a woman in 2016, being surrounded by incredible women whose emphasis is still on how they look rather than what they know or the amazing things they are doing. It’s me acknowledging how hard it must be for young women (and men) growing up now (15/20 years later than I did. I thought it was tough then!) This ideal of what women should look like, and what ‘perfection’ is has only got more out of control with social media coming to the fore of communication (especially for teenagers) …. I guess this song is just me saying ‘I hear you’ to all the girls still having to fight to be heard because I think we can all relate to that.
‘Worry ‘Bout Us,’ guilty in ‘Games’ and very vulnerable in ‘Right Thing.’ What inspires you to write these lyrics?
Whatever I’m feeling at the time. Music has always been an emotional output for me so if I’m experiencing something or feeling particularly strong about something–whatever it may be–I’m going to be yearning to express it through song as soon as possible. My songs are all snapshots of things that I’ve gone through/felt, so naturally they are going to show all sides of my personality. The most important thing for me as an artist is transparency and I want to give my audience a true representation of where I am at and what I am feeling. That’s the best I can ever give of myself.
Your music videos are beautiful and almost cinematic affairs. Do you draw inspiration from anywhere for this? Thank you. I’m really passionate about photography and film and have a very clear aesthetic of what I like–something that I’ve tried to keep at the heart of all my visuals. I very much live with the view that less is more and that is transferrable to the music I like, the production in my album and the visuals I am drawn towards. My priority has, however, always been that the visuals and the videos must come after the music, supporting the music and the narrative instead of the other way round.
Control is about to be released and thereafter you’ll be going on tour. What’s the ultimate dream for 2016? That the album is well received–that’s the biggest hope for me right now. I hope people can feel me in the music and I hope people feel they can relate to what I’m saying. Beyond that, I try not to think too far ahead. I’m really looking forward to touring, getting to meet some more of my audience and always more writing!
Music@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Keaton Henson BY SAM BARKER For Keaton Henson’s one-off gig at the Roundhouse theatre in London, the opening song, “Elevator Song” perfectly set the mood. Keaton Henson sat at the piano, his body contorted away from the audience and into himself, and waited as the string quintet that sat on the stage with him built up to his entrance into the song. The audience sat completely silent, Keaton Henson raised his right hand to the keys and softly pressed out two notes. For the next three minutes as the song built and rose around him, the melody shifting into new directions, Henson continued to play the same two notes: a repetitive motif that grounded the song, despite Henson’s own desire to be somewhere else. The hush that enveloped the audience, and the emotional disruption evident in Henson’s performance, carried on throughout the hour long performance. Even when he moved from the piano and say with an electric guitar balanced on his crossed legs for his first song in guitar, he kept his gaze in the ground and the fret board of his guitar. Never has it felt so inappropr i ate to clap, cheer, or applaud, so uncomfortable did the act seem with the reaction. This is a man, after all, who wrote a poem called “On Touring” that contains such lines as “don’t applaud me well-meant watchers/I am tired and struggle.” On stage with Henson were only five other people. Two violas, a violin, a cello, and a double bass
Photo provided by www.vevo.com were present to thicken out and add texture to the songs. At times they were there right alongside him, their long, sustained notes providing depth behind Henson’s fragile fingerpicking. In between songs he spoke in a hushed whisper that, despite the clearly loud microphone, was barely audible. And he thanked us. He consistently, and, most importantly, genuinely, thanked us for being there. Of course, all this suggests that Henson only came across as someone drowning in their own grief onstage, but there were moments of lig ht-he ar te dness. His friendship with the cellist was clear when he congratulated the quintet and said “everyone’s doing really well tonight, except Will.” He wasn’t a comedian, but he was human. He wasn’t a loud man, soft-spoken as he was and singing mostly in a light falsetto throughout songs that seemed at risk of collapsing in on themselves. The only volume and strength came when some
When a loud man shouts you can tune it out, but when a quiet man shouts you're cautioned to listen.
songs would crescendo and he would cry out the lyrics. When a loud man shouts you can tune it out, but when a quiet man shouts you’re cautioned to listen. It was a short set. A handful of songs prefacing a two song encore that he introduced by sitting down and sighing “fucking hell,” so overwhelmed was he by the audience’s response to his departure from the stage. When he got to the second song of the encore he softly said into the microphone, “this is definitely the last song” and it was clear he meant it. The expectation grew. The capo moved up and down the fret board as Henson attempted to remember where it went for the next song. It settled where I knew it had to be for my favourite song by him. Everyone waited, silently. Would he play whatever song each audience member was waiting for him to play? The one song they hadn’t heard yet that they were dying to hear him play live? No. But it didn’t matter. When the first notes of hallelujah (played in the style of Jeff Buckley but without the intro) rang out, it felt like the entire audience let out the breath they’d been holding in, as quietly as they could. The last song was the most restrained vocal performance of the night. And though we wanted more, as we watched him walk off stage as quickly as he could without seeming rude, we knew that we also didn’t really want more. He’d danced for us. He hadn’t wanted to. But danced he had. “Can’t you see the dance I do / is rehearsed and slowly stiffens / but if I must / I’ll dance for you.”
FOUNDER Film Attack of the Welsh Moses Film@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
An overview of issues of race in Hollywood BY EDWARD CAIO
Back in December 2014, Sony Pictures was hacked (reportedly by the North Korean government because they were upset about a Seth Rogen film) and numerous emails were leaked, including one in which now former chairperson Amy Pascal commented that she’d love to see Idris Elba play James Bond. The internet’s reaction was mixed but passionate on both sides, with one side claiming he’d make an excellent Bond due to his charisma and native British character, and the other remarking that he couldn’t because he’s black and that the character is not. Although some commenters definitely had better intentions than others in that statement, the logic behind it is not, per se, bigoted. For the sake of the narrative, actors should stay true to the character, or so many say. That being said, many of those same people had no objections over Moses, an Egyptian and arguably one of the most important historical and religious figures, being portrayed by Welsh actor Christian Bale Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. Many people had issues with the casting, to which Scott responded by claiming that he wouldn’t have been able to secure funding if he were to cast an actor of a more faithful origin. This of course is emblematic of a larger problem: the difficulty in which minority actors can attain or be seen to carry leading roles in large Hollywood pictures. Aside from the notable exceptions such as Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jamie Foxx, this trend appears to be dissipating, with slightly fresher faces such as Michael B. Jordan and John Boyega becoming overnight superstars. However, in the grand scheme of things, it appears they are for now special exceptions, instead of the rule. The question I have is this: What IS more important? That the actor is faithful to the
role or that the actor can perform and sell the character? As someone interested in the craft of filmmaking, I find myself asking that question a lot. In a non-race example, Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet), which is based on a real-life bank robbery, features a wonderful performance by 40-year-old John Cazale playing a character who in real life was 18 years old. The casting was all wrong, but at the same time it was perfect. All this talk of minority casting is of course resurfacing thanks to #OscarsSoWhite, which has now resulted in no black nominees out of 40 in 2 years, despite strong performances from black actors (personally, my pick is Idris Elba in Beasts Of No Nation [Cary Joji Fukunaga]). The best explanation is Michael Keaton’s; that they’re not ‘maliciously prejudicial’ and just ‘possibly out of touch’. The 6000-strong members for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is 94% white and 77% male, the collective age averaging at about 63. It’s no wonder that they are largely going to pick stories they are more likely to relate to or be touched by, which has resulted in black filmmakers being largely ignored, though it’s worth noting that N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton [F. Gary Gray] has been nominated for best original screenplay. If we care about giving minority performers the recognition they deserve, then it’s up to us to pay attention and spread the word about amazing performances and excellent film-making. Regarding colour blind-casting, we have to choose what we value more, the power and impact of the performer, or of the character. There’s no denying that we’ve certainly come a long way (such as the Straight Outta Compton example) but it certainly is up to us to essentially vote with our wallets and choose who we think deserves respect.
Film@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
BY MATTHEW SIVETER ‘A paranoid schizophrenic walks into a bar and’ WHAM we are in the action of a 2 hours 11-minute wonder directed by Brian Helgeland. Legend is a film already well within the public attention so why write a review about it? As it has just been released on DVD it bears no excuse that this film should be written about; this film should always be written about. Legend see’s the infamous rise of the Kray brothers, Ronnie and Reggie, as they take over the gangster scene of London in the 50’s and 60’s. Previously brought to light by 90’s film The Krays (Peter Medak) featuring the New Romantic Kemp brothers, we are only too aware of the early British bad boys story. Arguments have been made that Legend has tried to glorify the nefarious duo, but I have to disagree wholeheartedly. The film in no way makes either of the men look decent, it merely has provided an extra texture of detail that shows us more than just the violence the two men brought with them. You will have noticed that I have called The Krays a ‘duo’ and this film has really turned that idea on its head by having acting legend (no pun intended) Tom Hardy portray both Reggie and Ronnie Kray. Slicked back hair, glasses and a little filler for rottweiler Ronnie and Hardy is off. Managing to look so alike yet so different to his sibling counterpart; Hardy has truly embodied the London wide boy’s. Believ-
able, gritty and cocky, yet somehow oozing an attractive streak and sophistication that makes it completely understandable how the double-edged sword that was the Kray’s work. What baffles me is the talent of a brain that allows his character to be viewed as two completely separate entities yet still unified by a sense of brotherhood. Captured in a slightly touristic view of the swinging 60’s, Brian Helgeland manages to entwine a prominent female voice into the film like ivy through brickwork. That voice is Reggie’s mistreated wife, Frances Shea. Performed with a steady know-how by Emily Browning, Frances is the narrator of the film. Her view as the narrator becomes a little askew when her position in the narrative becomes more entrenched. Focusing solely on the mental and physical pain her husband puts her through it begins to feel a little disturbed when she talks about the brothers business and personal life so reservedly. The most obvious example of this is her ‘just have a cappa tea’ monologue towards the end of the film. This quite sad monologue looses a lot of its poignancy when we know the position she is in when telling us her thoughts. Unlike 90’s The Krays we see less violence take place in this film, although this does not mean there isn't any. Helgeland has written a very problem-laced script that see’s the Krays dealing with issue after issue as their in-
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famy swells. Naturally with the crime lords of London, violence will ensue and it does. The moments of violence in the film are shot in a way that seems so real and these acts are few and far between but this only makes them seem greater. Between the opulent bar scenes and the brutal stabbing towards the end, which is so real it makes you squirm, the film reveals the true terror of the Kray’s. This is where the mask slips and Tom Hardy really shows us the darker side of their demeanor. In the entire film the threat of violence is enough to make you realize the true
motives at work here and we feel the palpable threat as we do the clever tongue of the two men. There really is something for everyone (over a certain age) in this film. One thing that is in abundance is talent. The entire film, start to finish, breezes by with the cool air of someone who really knows what they are doing and how to do it best. We feel both comfortable and repulsed by Tom Hardy’s roles yet we are won over by them enough to want to see their empire rise. I urge you to support this film in any (legal) way necessary, as it is already an instant classic.
Film@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Rain Man (1988)
a retrospective BY JAMES GEMMELL
ain Man (Barry Levinson) is arguably not only one of the finest films ever made, but also one of my favourite films; I seek to show how powerful a film it is, while also explaining its influence on cinema and society in general. The film tells the story of the selfish and egotistical Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), a successful car dealer in Los Angeles, who, after his father dies, discovers he has an estranged brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) who has severe autism and is the main beneficiary of their father’s estate. Angered that their father left his monetary wealth to Raymond, Charlie kidnaps his brother, intending to use him as leverage to acquire the inheritance that he believes he deserves. Thus, the two embark on a geographical and emotional journey back to Los Angeles. There is a plethora of reasons why Rain Man is an outstanding piece of filmmaking. The soundtrack to the film captures perfectly the emotions that Charlie experiences as he deals with Raymond’s arcane
rituals, strange habits, and irrational fears of the world. It also elucidates Raymond’s feelings of isolation and ignorance as Charlie helplessly attempts to conduct him through everyday situations such as eating at a diner, or taking a shower. ‘Iko Iko’ by The Belle Stars, symbolizing Babbitt’s competitive personality, is contrasted with Hans Zimmer’s haunting soundtrack, which serves to heighten Raymond’s emotional transition from familiar to unfamiliar as he deals with situations and people alien to him. Cruise and Hoffman’s performances are the reason why this film is so highly regarded. In my opinion, they are at the height of their careers here, with Cruise depicting the ostensibly unkind, but progressively tender Charlie Babbitt; you can see glimmers of this capricious performance in his later work, such as Collateral (2004). Hoffman exceeds at playing an autistic savant, and one can see traces of the alienated and lost Ben Braddock from The Graduate (1967), although Raymond is a far more complex role. Allegedly, Hoffman spent long periods of time with people with autism in order to capture the body language and mannerisms of his character,
There is a joyous feeling as we watch the contrast between these two actors’ physical performances.
and upon viewing, one becomes certain that they are watching a real autistic savant on the screen. There is a joyous feeling as we watch the contrast between these two actors’ physical performances. While Cruise plays Babbitt as a striding, tactile, sometimes physically violent character, Hoffmann’s Raymond is hunched over and uneasy, with clenched shoulders and a stooping posture, creating heart-wrenching moments of interaction between the two leads. There is a scene in which Charlie is teaching Raymond to dance, and as Raymond becomes more accustomed to his brother’s presence, Hoffman’s body language transforms and he begins very slowly to perform the waltz. Charlie believes he has gained his brother’s trust, and reaches out to hug him, but as he does so Raymond flinches away in terror, and Charlie is left abashed and uncomfortable. Both actors therefore demonstrate an outstanding ability at physical performance, and it is no wonder that Hoffman won the Best Actor at the 1989 Academy Awards. The film was greatly influential because it portrayed a character with a severe mental condition in a leading role. It not only led to the population being more enlightened on autism, with Darold Treffert MD arguing that ‘Rain Man accomplished more toward bringing Savant Syndrome to public awareness than all the efforts combined of all those interested in this condition the past 101 years following Dr. Down’s 1887 description of this disorder’, but it also led to other films being made that portrayed mental conditions in an empathetic light; see What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993), and I am Sam (2001). I urge you to watch Rain Man because it is not only a paragon of Cruise and Hoffman’s’ extensive acting ability, but the viewer can gain knowledge from the film of how best to use music appropriately, how to write a compelling script, and most importantly, how an actor becomes their character; not just through dialogue, but also through physical performance.
Film@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
The Coen Brothers Take Us Back to Their new film, Hail, Caesar!, premieres at the 50’s Berlin Film Festival on February 11th BY FEDERICO D’ACCINNI When rumours start circulating about a new Coen brothers’ film being released soon, no one ever knows what to expect. They have been through so many different genres during their 30-year old career that it’s always very hard to guess what they have in store. Their works rarely belong to just one genre, they’re often an idiosyncratic mix combining different stylistic features. Fargo (1996) can be defined as a black comedy, but also as a neo-noir or a crime thriller. Even when their wry humour and arch irony are strongly present – as in The Big Lebowski (1998) – there is always a neo-noir side to it. What is remarkable is the balance they’re able to achieve between blockbuster and arthouse film as well as their ability of exploring different atmospheres and different periods of history is impressive. The black and white traditional atmospheres of The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) have very little in common with the stark and lonely landscapes in No Country for Old Men (2007). What is intriguing in every Coen Brothers’ picture is the superb writing which adopts itself to different tones, some very well-defined characters whose journeys and actions are at many times unpredictable and often stunning cinematography which has seen Roger Deakins’ collaboration in almost every film. After their experience as Jury Presidents at Cannes last year, the brothers are now back with Hail, Caesar!, a comedy that opens the 66th Berlinale on February 11th. The story revolves around Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), head of production at Capitol Pictures, who also works as a “fixer”: a studio cop whose job is keeping films on budget, stars in line and gossips about them secret under a vow of silence. He has to deal with a pair of gossip journalists who keep distracting him with annoying questions (twins played both by Tilda Swinton), while arranging a fake marriage for a Hollywood blonde starlet (Scarlett Johansson) and finding a lead for a very influential director
(Ralph Fiennes). But the sudden event that upsets Mannix’s daily routine is the kidnapping of the studio’s biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), who is working on the set of a biblical epic called Hail, Caesar!. A ransom note arrives, written by a group called “The Future” asking for $100,000 to be paid for having Whitlock back at the studio. The film has premiered already in Los Angeles on February 1st and it has been received with contrasting opinions by American critics, but most of them are positive. The New Yorker has remarked how the film is “performed and timed with the spontaneous authority of jazz”, while Indiewire has described it as a “genuinely entertaining commentary on the insular universe of the studio system”. A few critics have noted that it’s not an experience as immersive as their previous film, Inside Llewyn Davis, but that it nevertheless takes you to the same place. David Ehrlich has examined this point further: “If the Coen brothers’ dramas are cautionary tales, their comedies are veritable how-to guides for peo-
ple who can’t help but enjoy a mirthless chuckle at the humility of human existence”. As afore mentioned, Roger Deakins is responsible for the cinematography of this film. And it’s interesting to notice that it’s the first project Deakins has shot on film since the last time he collaborated with the Coens on 2010’s True Grit. In a detailed interview with Variety in January, Deakins was asked if he had any particular inspiration from old movies for Hail, Caesar!, to which he replied: “The Coen brothers told me it’s not a tribute to filmmaking, it’s a film set in that time. So although we were kind of mimicking some of the old movies, especially the Western and stuff, to go too far with it I think pulled the audience out of the overall movie really”. This new work from the Coen brothers is definitely one not to be missed. If you’re a big fan of The Big Lebowski and Barton Fink, or even if you’re just interested in spending two hours inside a Hollywood studio like you’ve never experienced it before, this film is the right one for you. Hail, Caesar! opens in UK cinemas on March 4th.
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Lifestyle@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
The New “Real Woman” BY FLORENCE VAN DAM RAGGIO
A few weeks ago I had a discussion with one of my lecturers about the media’s coverage on ‘fat shaming.’ She seemed outraged by an article that allegedly showed what a ‘real woman’ looked like only to reveal a picture of a plussized woman. Indeed, a quick Google search on the terms ‘real woman’ lead me to expressions like ‘real women have curves.’ ‘My metabolism burns fat very easily,’ said my lecturer. ‘Does that mean I’m not real?’ This new trend of criticising fat shaming has not only lead to petite women taking offence, but to yet another narrow vision of the ideal body. On the one side, we have high fashion magazines promoting a size 6 and a rectangular body shape, and on the other, blogs praising plus-sized models. Of course mocking somebody for his or her appearance is not the proper thing to do, but why should we encourage eating disorders on either side? Bullying a person in regards to his or her weight has been proven to make matters worse, but claiming that overweight people are beautiful, true as it might be, will only put obesity in a good light. Obesity is not a life choice, as some might claim. It is more often than not the result of a food addiction and the cause of diseases such as diabetes, certain types of
cancer, and heart disease. In the UK, the average size for women is a size 12. It has since been called ‘the ideal size.’ It is a healthy size to be, but does that mean that I should gain weight because my body naturally fits into a size 8-10? It is high time the media recognise that all bodies can be beautiful, the curvaceous, the slim, the muscular, or any combination of the above. There cannot be an ideal size when we are all built differently. Unfortunately, this also means that the solution is not as easy as increasing the price for sizes that are considered unhealthy (4, 6, and 14 onwards), as one could increase the price of cigarettes to discourage smokers. So, how can we help? We can start by treating our peers equally, whether they have a prominent nose or ears, are short or tall, slim or plump. Believe it or not, even the most iconic models have been told a few times they should ‘eat a sandwich,’ so people who are overweight should not get preferential treatment. We can stop worrying about weight or muscle gain and just have a balanced diet, maybe take up a sport twice a week. And finally, we can look on the bright side: the fashion industry finally recognises physical ‘flaws’ such as dimples, tooth gaps and even old age as beautiful. Can we someday hope to see bigger and shorter ladies on the catwalk?
There cannot be an ideal size when we are all built differently.
Lifestyle@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Life as a Community Action Team Member
BY SAMUEL HO LAM WONG
In the past, volunteering meant nothing to me until I joined Royal Holloway Community Action in 2013. Their beliefs––GET INVOLVED––have taught me the real meaning of volunteering, and this concept has been embedded in my mind. The compassion in me and my willingness to serve had been enlightened by this network and this belief has become part of my life. Alongside other extracurricular activities at Royal Holloway, Community Action Team is a wonderful experience for students to reach their potential. Unlike any student society or paid job, volunteering does not require any membership fees, excellent academic background, or special skills. All you need is your imagination, passion, determination, and dedication. With the huge support from the Community Action staff and the rest of the team, being a member of the team has opened up many opportunities for me. I've represented Community Action to attend a regional crime summit and SVW boot
Charity Chat - 11.30am2.30pm, daily Students' Union reception. A new community partner will be represented each day to offer their volunteer opportunities.
"Imagination creates reality", I am not surprised by what Richard Wagner said. Volunteering is a journey full of surprises, and nobody knows what is going to happen. After 5 years of regular volunteering, I've built up my experience, confidence and independence. I would never expect myself to become a voluntary advisor at Surrey Police Independent Advisory Group to give feedback on how to improve the relationship between the police and minority communities. I never expected to be selected to collect excellent volunteering case studies for the Cabinet Office, nor to be interviewed by Surrey County Council to
camps, helped at volunteering fairs and open days to promote volunteering with a specific focus on international students and I've co-led and developed student-led projects. Community Action Team is one of the most rewarding activities that allows me to gain skills in communication, teamwork, leadership, self development and project management. Personally, I am proud to have been in the Community Action Team for three years. I joined the team the first day I arrived at Royal Holloway because I wanted to get involved, and I wanted to bring the communities together. Student Volunteering Week (SVW) 2016 will take place from 22-28 February and it’ll be the 15th anniversary of this national initiative. I’m delighted that SVW has become a fixture in Royal Holloway, joining with over 80 different institutions across UK. Student volunteering and social action in the UK have a long history, from university settlements and missions in the nineteenth century, to work camps
VolunTREE – 11.30am-2.30pm, daily Students' Union reception–collecting responses to the question 'Why Volunteer?' which along with messages of thanks from the community will be added to our VolunTREE for all to see.
support their volunteering campaign. And of course, to be nominated and become a finalist of the SVW Student Volunteer of the Year 2016! Volunteering is like this. If you never try, you'll never know. And now here's a very simple secret: I've tried, and volunteering means a lot to me and makes a real impact in my life. If anyone is in doubt about volunteering, no matter once a week, once a month, once a year, or once a decade, just get involved, and it will amaze you!
for the unemployed in the interwar period, to CND protesting and Student Community Action after the Second World War, and throughout the later part of the 20th Century. Students are often at the forefront of promoting different social issues and interests, like the sustainability agenda and social entrepreneurship. I genuinely believe that all students should have access to volunteering and social action opportunities while they are at college or university. SVW is a unique opportunity for student volunteers, charities, social enterprises, businesses and government to collaborate, discuss challenges and opportunities in student volunteering, and showcase innovative individuals and projects. The Community Action team coordinates a range of activities before, during and after the week, as well as all of our community partners, all of which are designed to inspire and enable more people to get involved in SVW, such as:
Good Deed Day – 12pm-4pm, Wednesday 24th February Meet outside SU entrance to go into the local community. Involves completing a number of small community project tasks alongside Strode's College students.
Lifestyle@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
The Zika Virus
and what it means for women
BY ELEANOR MCCLOSKEY LIFESTYLE EDITOR At the start of February, the World Health Organisation declared the Zika virus a “public health emergency of international concern.” At the time of writing, there have been 20 confirmed cases in America, one thought to be sexually transmitted, 4 in the UK, 2 in Ireland, 3 in China and 1 in Denmark. As you may well know, there has been an unprecedented number of confirmed cases of the virus in South America, largely in Brazil, El Salvador and Columbia. Health officials have given press conferences around the world declaring that a vaccine is years away from being distributed, and those planning on travelling to the severely affected countries have been advised to postpone their plans. Although it has not been proved, it is thought that there is a possible link between the Zika virus and a foetal malformation known as microcephaly, a condition that causes brain damage and unusually small heads.
Now, I’m not going to be so crass as to say ‘every cloud,’ but the Zika virus could be considered to be a catalyst for a well overdue conversation about the reproductive rights of women in Latin American countries. Campaigners and women’s groups have been urging governments in these countries to rethink their strict abortion laws, or in some cases total bans on the procedure, and to allow abortion in cases where microcephaly is detected. Campaigners are arguing that the spread of the virus will lead to a rise in the number of deaths caused by unsafe abortions, which is already at an unprecedented figure. Governments have responded by advising women to delay pregnancy for the next two years, but this is difficult in countries where sex education is lacking, contraception is not easily accessible and many pregnancies are as a result of sexual violence. Like it or not, abortion is a fact of life. Women have always sought them, had them, performed them, and will continue to do so. It is essential, then, that we make abortion safe, legal and easy to access, everywhere in the world. Making it difficult to obtain abortions does not put a stop to women seeking them, it just makes it more dangerous. In El Salvador, where the Zika virus is spreading quickly, women and girls who are found guilty of having an abortion face a prison sentence of up to eight years. Healthcare providers who assist them can expect a sentence of up to twelve years. Shockingly, and heartbreakingly, women who miscarry can be charged with aggravated homicide, and can be sent to prison for up to fifty years. Just think about that for a second. The government in El Salvador incarcerates women who have suffered miscarriages. Despite what you might think, these lengthy jail sentences have not stopped women in El Salvador from having abortions. Wealthier women can afford to travel to other countries where the procedure is legal, or are able to bribe doctors to perform a safe abortion in a clean clinic. Women from poorer, rural backgrounds, use methods such as ingesting rat poison to induce abortion, or inserting knitting needles, and other such implements into their cervix in a bid to terminate the pregnancy. Suicide accounts for 57% of the deaths of pregnant women and girls aged 10-19 in El Salvador. In counties where abortions are difficult, or impossible, to access, and where sex education is inadequate, it is the poorest women who suffer. Abortion is a class issue. Sarah Boseley in The Guardian writes that “many of those who get pregnant are still children. More than a quarter (27%) of those who die during pregnancy or in childbirth in El Salvador are adolescent girls. In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are 4.4m abortions every year, 95% of which are unsafe, and 1 million women end up in hospital because of it.” Backstreet abortions are bound to rise unless governments change their stance, says Katja Iversen, chief executive of the global advocacy organisation “Women Deliver.” “It is definitely, definitely a concern because [the public concern about the Zika virus] is so prominent right now and people are scared,” Iversen said. “It is a cheap shot for governments to say postpone your next pregnancy if you don’t make contraception and access to safe abortion readily available.” El Salvador and other countries in Latin America are in in the midst of a crisis. Yes, it is about a mosquito carrying a potentially dangerous virus, but it is also about a health system that is failing women. The grounds for legal abortion in these countries should be broadened to reduce women’s need to resort to clandestine and dangerous methods. Because no matter how draconian the abortion law, or how severe the jail sentences, or how perilous the self-inflicted methods may appear, women will find a way to have abortions.
Sports@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Meet the Captains: BY SAM WILLIAMS SPORT EDITOR
How was last year for your sport at Royal Holloway? M: Last year was a fantastic year for swimming as we won Club of the Year, hugely increased our membership and saw nine of our members complete the huge challenge of swimming the English Channel. We have also seen our competitive squad growth and had our largest team to date the BUCS, and Ashley Ransome made us proud by becoming our first finalist!
Marissa Nash and Daniel Williams, Swimming
What is the best/funniest thing that has happened to you while playing at uni? D: Hallam SU, need anyone say any more? But on a serious note, never will any member live down the sight of Ryan Hall swimming 100m Butterfly at BUCS long course, whilst hungover and managing to loose his trunks. It may be considered the greatest unintentional flash to over 300 competitors.
What would you say is the best thing about sport at Royal Holloway? M & D: It does not matter if you are the best or the worst at the sport, if you want the opportunity, you can compete, have incredible experiences and gain unbelievable memories. This is promoted all throughout your university journey at RHUL, from open day to graduation. As an individual you cease from being a team member and become part of the Bears family.
Sarah Briggs COUNSELING
for adults and teens
07907 361372 firstname.lastname@example.org www.sarahbriggscounselling.co.uk
What do any new members have to look forward to when they join? M: Most importantly we want every new member to feel included and comfortable at swimming, our social and competitive swimmers are equally important and coaching and tips are provided to both. We emphasise that we are more than just a swimming club providing our members with opportunities such as volunteering with Surrey Dolphins Swimobility, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and some great socials!
What are you aiming for this year? D: We, as captains, have one competitive aim this year in our sport, to give as many members the opportunity to compete at gala events. It provides a unique opportunity for members to attend competitions, developing confidence, and an irreplaceable experience.
Sports@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Meet the Captain:
BY SAM WILLIAMS SPORT EDITOR
mances in the various upcoming Head Races. There’s so much potential in both squads at the moment, so it should be a great couple of months.
How was last year for your sport at Royal What would Holloway? you say is the It was good, we achieved best thing positive results throughout the year, highlighted about sport at by some great wins at the Royal HolloAllom Cup and for the first time in 4 years we attemptway? ed qualification at Women’s Henley and Henley Royal Regatta. 2014-2015 should provide a great springboard for further success this year.
What are you aiming for this year? Qualification at Henley Royal and Women’s Henley, as well as strong perfor-
Making friends and being part of something, definitely. It’s so good to just spend time with some like-minded individuals, and obviously sport is a great way of dealing with stress, so there’s that. Sport at Royal Holloway is definitely a good way of forgetting about your degree for a while, which I think is important. Oh, you can’t forget about Colours Ball, either.
Jonty Bolland, Rowing What do any new members have to look forward to when they join? Working hard and playing harder. A lot of people come to us, saying that they just want to get fitter –they definitely do. For those that don’t want to compete we also offer a relaxed social rowing programme too. There’s a great team spirit at the Boat Club also, which is just so important in a sports team. Also, what can possibly be better than rowing down the sunny Surrey countryside and sipping Pimms? Not much.
What is the best/funniest thing that has happened to you while playing at uni? At the time, this was definitely not the funniest thing, but in hindsight it’s right up there. Imagine a freezing 6am October morning, all going well, until I steered our boat into a submerged log in the pitch-black morning. Cue a dramatic capsize, ending up with the boat completely inverted and all five of us in the freezing water. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back on it it’s a great laugh now. If I had to pick my favourite moment, it would probably be going to Henley last summer.
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