The Mirror Cracked Black Mirror Series 4 Review

livingroom, reviews

I have to set the scene properly for this review.  We have to go back to the age of terrestrial television. No Uber, or swiping left for love, no Netflix n chillin, pre Facebook was your friend, Barack Obama was still POTUS and Trump was just a capitalist thug with power, time and money on his hands.  This was 2011, the year first series of Black Mirror aired and tramatised us all.  After watching the first episode (and then having to wait each week for the next episode- imagine) I remember having that back of the haunting feeling I experienced after first reading 1984.

Daniel Kaluuya plays the lead in 15 Million Merits Episode

Daniel Kaluuya plays the lead in 15 Million Merits Episode

The White Bear episode stalked my thoughts for months.  I was left questioning, society, my behaviour and how on earth Charlie Brooker could see and predict society with such clarity.

black-mirror-twists-white-bear

Jump forward a couple of seasons and a president and I hardly recognise the programme.  The excellent acting and diverse casting are still there but the morality tales have become more like fairy tales.  The brilliance of the previous series was the inability to be judgemental: Black Mirror was in the grey area of morality –

You asked questions that had no clear cut answers.

You wondered how many steps away you were from making the same choices.

You compared your behaviour to that of the characters.

But the most recent series posed none of these questions.  It has become Black Mirror’s insta account- it wanted to be liked.  The series has gone from a thought provoking self reflection of modern society to a piece of entertainment that we can easily distance ourselves as post reaction clips to youtube. #didyouseeblackmirror

San junipero

Gugu Mbatha- Raw and Mackenzie Davis in San Junipero

However, that’s not to say that I haven’t generally enjoyed watching the more recent episodes.  Even excluding season three classics like Nosedive and San Junipero there are still some stand out moments in season 4.

 

The Hang the DJ episode, a spin on online dating, left me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside after watching… Which is probably my point, we should look into the Black Mirror and be unnerved by the reflection.

Maybe we just live in such strange times that our reality really is more terrifying the TV.

I’ve probably risked invites to social gatherings for writing this.. but I dedicate the post to anyway who noticed it too but had no safe spaces to say it..😉

#WhatDoYouMeanYouDidn’tLike

Breaking Bad

BH xx

 

 

I’m just not buying it

Nursery

I’ve decided I would like to rellocate to wherever the people defending H&M are from.
I’ve read comment after comment across social media by people stating they do not understand why people are getting so offended.

What a blissful existence they must have, to have never been exposed to the racist use of the word monkey.

I’d love my son to grow up in a place where black sports stars don’t have bananas thrown at them by the crowd or placed in their lockers by team mates.  Or basketball stars are compared to King Kong on the cover of fashion magazines.

A place where no one asks “Where’s your tail?” Or lets “f*&ing Monkey! ” slip during a heated exchange.  Or a child of colour is surrounded by peers in the play ground making monkey noises.

A utopia where history was not rewritten to depict native Africans as infantile savages needing supervision by European invaders.

So please H&M defenders, reach out and let me know where you all live.. I’m sure you’d welcome me as your new neighbour- wouldn’t you?

X https://youtu.be/epEQhxslprE

Was there ever a time before Scapegoat Britain? Part 1

education, Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink, society, zerotohero

At first it seemed ridiculous to believe that people would believe that all of England’s problems were the result of the EU and of course those “terrible immigrants”.  

We laughed about it in the staff room.  The same staff room where for the past year, disgruntled colleagues have  viciously blamed and attacked the Head Teacher for staff cuts that are solely the result of Government cuts to education. 

I remember a boy at our school who was an amazing football player.  Even at the tender age of five he had incredible ball control.  
The problem was he was arrogant, rude and violent to children and adults alike.  But when reprimanded for his actions, it was never his fault.  Spurred on (particularly) by his mother, it was always another child’s fault or the teacher had a personal vendetta towards him. Rather than changing his behaviour, he changed schools.  

Unsurprisingly his misbehaviour continued.. So he moved back to our school, blaming the teachers and children at the previous school for the move back.  Of course, as soon as he got into trouble again he resumed into his usual routine of pin the blame.  


And that’s how it continued. 

One day he was scouted by one of the big UK premier league teams.  Such a life changing opportunity.  

But he was dropped.  

He wasn’t a team player, couldn’t handle feedback and didn’t respect authority or his team mates.   But, of course, it was the coaches/team mates fault, “they didn’t respect him” enough.  

Such a huge opportunity lost because he had failed to take responsibility or learn from his mistakes.  


I saw him the other day working in a local shop.

Just imagine what could have been.

#scapegoatBritain

What would you do if you had two homeless people living inside your gas cupboard?

bedroom

What would you do if you had two homeless people living in your gas cupboard? 

Stepping outside of my front door this morning, I was greeted by a shiny Maserati sparkling in the early morning light.  As I drifted off, wondering which “new Brixton” resident was trying to muscle in on parking this time, the stench of rotting food and sweat dragged me back to reality.

It was the two men in their early twenties who are living in the external gas cupboard infront of our house.  It sounds like fiction, but this isn’t Harry Potter. 

It’s the daily co-habiting extremes of New Brixton…  New Peckham – Wilesdon    -Walthamstow.  New London.  

Many articles talk of the social cleansing of London: but neglect to mention those left behind or over looked.   This is what the growing disparities between rich and poor looks and smells like when you live in it.  

Ignoring the mice, rotting food, urine filled plastic bottles and beer cans – the stench will tell you that the two men live in squalor.  A lifestyle a million miles away from the owner’s of the car worth in the region of £60,000 which is parked less than 1 metre away from the makeshift bed of the homeless men. 

Although I’ve never been inside the cupboard, I know that it mirrors that of the one inside our home.  Maximum, 150cm wide possibly 300cm long.  Not big enough for the discarded mattress that they managed to fit in there, let alone two grown men.  One person’s closet is another person’s home.  Literally.  Again the disparities of London.  

But if only it was just a financial disparity.  When researching how to help the two men,  I stumbled across a homeless forum.  Battling opinions greeted me.   A homeless person was either seen as a victim or villian.

 “I’d just call the police and your building management company. The doorway is almost certainly private property.”

“I wouldn’t even feel bad. If he is sleeping in a doorway (of all places) he is knowingly antagonising the building’s occupants. My guess is that he is hoping for someone to give him a big bag of charity beddings and food (like has been suggested in this thread many times now), in exchange for leaving. DO NOT GIVE HIM ANYTHING. He will just move to another building. Contact a charity for him if you feel bad – but don’t enable what he is doing either.”

 The lack of empathy was astounding.   It seemed to contradict the public outcry condemning poor doors, homeless spikes and other designs aiming to segregate poor and wealthy residents in new housing developments across London.  I remember reading articles heralding “hipsters”* turning anti homeless spikes into libraries with comfy seating.

Hoorah for Hipsters!

But where did the “hipsters” involved actually live?  Would they have made such a stand on their own door step?

Have you ever walked into a “hipster” bar as a non-hipster? The inconvenience your presence causes stabs at your dignity almost as deeply as the bill for buzz word bar food hits your wallet.  But why does the presence of some make others feel so uncomfortable?  Because it is a reminder of the other side of London.

The side of London that is replaced every time a new luxury apartment development is built on hardcore made of the social housing which once stood on the same spot.  If you have purchased a new “luxury apartment” in inner London recently, it is very likely that your new pad displaced a low income family.   It is an uncomfortable truth.  A truth which taints the aspirational image sold with the luxury apartment purchase.  A truth preferably ignored and forgotten by wealthy residents and developers alike.

How would you feel if a homeless person slept in your door way?

BH xx

 

 

 *After researching the piece further I discovered the “hipsters” were actually a group of artists, who have also been priced out of housing in London.  So not actual “hipsters”but people who face and understand the financial pressures of housing in London.
academy

That time I almost burst into tears on the treadmill..

education, politics

Music pumping in my ears, feet pounding away on the cross trainer, I gaze up from the flashing dashboard to the row of televisions hanging from the gym ceiling.  Ivory poachers in Gabon, a posh gardener in a tight squeeze, the usual random something or nothing on London Live all bid to grab my attention with alluring titbits of subtitled conversations. Gazing towards the last screen, fifteen little words grab my attention so violently that I catch my breath. Wrapping the enormity of their meaning around my throat, those little fifteen words stab me in my chest and make me gasp out loud “No!”

Government announced plans today to rush ahead with proposals to change all schools into academies..

If we were living in a time of reason and logic I would have laughed – How on Earth would the privatisation of the British education system make it through Parliament?  But we are living in bizarre times. A moment in history where junior doctors are being branded as greedy, while bankers and banks are bailed out.  Forests, parks, libraries and social housing  are being sold at a public loss for a private profit.  Workers rights are being dismantled, employment tribunal fees have risen whilst legal aid cut.  Zero hour contracts for our most vulnerable and tax breaks for the wealthy.

I have been a primary school teacher for nearly ten years. I have worked in both Local Authority schools and an academy chain.

If these proposals go ahead we are literally and figuratively selling our children’s futures for a private profit.  I entered teaching because I knew that a good education can change lives. It changed mine.  Every evening or weekend, when I’m marking, or planning or creating resources for my class, I’m motivated because I know I am helping to shape a child’s future.  It is a beautiful honour and I get to do it for a living.  Politics, business and money can not play part in that process.

The most obvious difference between the two types of school is that Local Authority schools are bound by the National Curriculum and the Teachers Work and Pay Conditions frameworks,  whereas academies are free to develop their own curriculum, HR practices and standards.  After working in an academy however, I felt the most dramatic difference was school culture, the academy felt like a business.

“There is no educational proposition behind them [academies], no philosophy of how or what children should learn, no model of what a school should be like. The point of academies is political, not educational.”

My time teaching in an academy was soul destroying.   A culture of blame, pressure and divide and conquer fuelled by financially driven leaders and impressionable inexperienced staff naturally led to high staff turnover and challenges in behaviour.  In my first year, only two classes out of the whole school lasted the academic year  without changing teachers at least once.  Children in desperate need of stability, received erratic teaching practice, at times by trainee teachers with no class based experience.

Perhaps this is why academy advisers swarmed the academy during the Ofsted inspection.  Failing teachers disappeared as experienced advisers appeared in their classrooms teaching lessons and being observed by inspectors. There was a lot riding on the inspection outcomes, principals bonus payments for starters.

This is what happens when children are not children but results.  The success of the “chain” relies heavily on  incredible test results.  Incredulous results.  During my time at the academy I saw staff meetings dedicated to the editing of children’s independent writing folders, teachers forced to raise grades and accusations of the principal changing test results. I heard the pressure for “results” being compared to that of the pressures on the trading floor.

By no means am I saying that all academies are terrible or that the teachers are all inexperienced or don’t care about the children.  Far from it, many of my friends are amazing and dedicated teachers working in academies.  There just isn’t enough consistency or evidence that the academy model is successful  for it to be rolled out to every state school in the UK.

“Current evidence does not prove that academies raise standards overall or for disadvantaged children,”

If you agree please support the campaign to stop the proposed plans to convert all state schools into academies by signing the petition below.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124702

If you don’t have time to follow all the links in the article, this link below nicely sums up the financial impact and profits of academies.

http://www.thecanary.co/2016/03/16/government-announces-decision-privatise-state-schools-england/

 

BH xx

The N Word

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

If you were at a gym class and the song being played repeatedly used the N word, would you say something?

Walking into my body conditioning class this morning, I was greeted by the N word blaring out of the studio speakers.  The class instructor seemed completely oblivious to the word, blonde pony tail swinging in the air, she skipped around the classroom merrily encouraging us all to warm up.

My fellow class mates, if offended or disgusted by the repeated use of the racial slur, did nothing to voice their displeasure.

I alone complained.

I alone was the only person in the studio to whom the N word could be applied.

I wonder how many of those in the class would have unequivocally answered “Yes, of course!” to the first question, yet remained silent during the class? Are we only offended if we deem the word a personal offence?   If the song repeatedly used the word K*ke or fa**ot would that be acceptable to anyone who wasn’t Jewish or homosexual in the room? Are our responses different to different racial slurs?

This is the week that six students in Arizona thought it perfectly acceptable to spell out the N word on their T-Shirts at a school event.  From the students gleeful smiles and their school’s lacklustre response in reprimanding them, it would appear that the word is acceptable to them.   Even here in the UK, the lip service apology, wrapped up in excuses, delivered to me after my conversation with the gym manager, seemed to imply that the N word is (secretly) ok, nothing more than a social faux pas.

Macklemore addresses white priviledge

Macklemore addresses white priviledge

This is same week that Macklemore released a song entitled “white privilege”.  He tackles the position and influence he has in the fight for racial equality being a mainstream white artist performing black music.  He was prombted to write the song after his conversation with a fellow hip hop artist…

‘You have a platform, but silence is an action, and right now, you’re being silent.”

Maybe we don’t have the platform and influence of a multi platinum selling artist.   But each one of us has a voice.  Maybe the people in the gym class were just as offended by the music, but because they remained silent we will never know.  All I know is that if I had remained silent, I would be condoning the use of a word that for centuries has been used to ridicule, hurt and divide.

*You may have noticed the deliberate over use of questions in this post.  This post is an invitation to discussion.  Only through open dialogue can we learn from each other, as we all have different perspectives and experiences.