Satirical Piece (2014) – Video for ‘Anaconda’ by Nicki Minaj.

Looking for four minutes and 50 seconds of discomfort? Look no further, I’ve found it.

It comes from the ever-engrossing and controversial musical talents of Nicki Minaj (or not-so-much talents, whichever you make of it all). This time around she has come up with her own re-mastered version of the 1992 song ‘Baby Got Back’ named simply, ‘Anaconda’. You thought the 1992 version was controversial and successful in objectifying women? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Don’t be fooled by the calm selection of introductory images and sounds of a beautiful rainforest setting, this is soon tainted by the ‘booty-shaking’ and sexualisation of the female body which is commonplace in the modern day popular music scene. Lately, we have become used to, but not indifferent to, the attempts of artists to make a controversial music video to attract attention and publicity. An easy example of this is the Miley Cyrus video for ‘Wrecking Ball’ or the Rihanna video for the song ‘S&M’ (banned in some countries).

I think Minaj earns her place on the list of controversial music video artists for this production as she displays in the highest of definition (obviously) how she can in fact shake, slap, move and clap her giant surgically enhanced behind. Is that something to count as an achievement?

What I find interesting is how all these over-sexualised music videos come from female artists. It seems strange to me that we hear of feminism being on the increase and yet we still have these attempts in the music industry to sell sex and body image to young girls and women worldwide. The issue being more solidified and real as we see the increase of younger children being treated in hospitals for illnesses such as anorexia and those paying for plastic surgery to have jobs done on the black market, including the Nicki Minaj inspired ‘big butt’ as fans do not realise the dangers involved.

See Nicki Minaj (Onika Tanya Maraj), born 1982, was just ten years of age when Sir Mix-a-lot brought us ‘Baby Got Back’ telling the world how he preferred women with bigger behinds. Did this message of a certain body image have such an effect on the young girl that just over 20 years later, we see a woman with breast and ass implants shake and show what she has had done to create herself and this image?

Having endured the video myself, I found it difficult to comprehend what this video was trying to achieve. At some points it felt like the video was almost a parody as the shock value of the sexual references and imagery became a little too much, even in today’s terms, with scenes of the next clearly sexual act serving no purpose whatsoever to the story the video was attempting to tell (if any).

My question is, haven’t we seen enough? Where do we draw the line for controversial videos because I for one cannot sit through more senseless and idiotic displays of almost-pornography in order to sell some music.

This song and video contains all we expect from a modern pop song; sexual references, foul language, drug references, racism and much more to collect the 209,521,415+ YouTube hits, more hits than the ‘Baby Got Back’ video I might add.

This video certainly had shock value but in terms of what we should really value as a modern society, I would recommend you search somewhere/anywhere else.

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Simply Possible

Be direct, look

Open this book of endless possibilities

Of you and me.

 

Gaze, make me fall into your smile

I’ll watch closely as your expressions change,

Knowing there’s impact there

 

Feel me out,

Get to know my kicks and ticks

Challenge my imperfections

 

Get close enough to view my reflection,

From the mirror in the background.

 

I will reach out for you.

We’ll discover, together

All things new and thrilling

Always on the look-out for the next thing, fulfilling

 

Until there’s nothing more to see.

I understand.

 

It’ll soon fade and we’ll be fine,

Knowing we simply shared some,

Of each other’s time.

She

Of course it wasn’t about me,
Was it ever going to be?

Never the chosen one

but always the chosen, in the end I mean

 

I don’t feel jealousy anymore

I know she means something different to you

I will never understand.
You take my hand but I know somehow

hers is preferred

 

She can take you further than me

I don’t have that much to offer

She’s there and she can do it,

She has the power

 

She welcomes you in more than I do

It’s a safer feeling, such certainty

While I give you tales of some far away fantasy

that is never real for you

 
How selfish of me,

To expose this to you

knowing that you are where you are,

unchanging.

 
I will never get her nor her I

We will laugh and smile to one another but never talk, really.

She knows me but doesn’t ask to be kept up to date.

 
I’ll ask about her though,

Because I just want to relate to you

She’s your interest,

your something sweet,

in a setting I’m far gone from

 

 

Still you are my home,

My welcome back

While she’s something present and always exciting,

She can bring you away
Lift you from the reality that I left you in

Filling the gap that I was inevitably to bring.

“The dust and sweep of the city” (2014)

“The dust and sweep of the city” A Descriptive Essay about twenty-four hours in the life of a city:

Have you ever felt irrelevant within the goings on in the world around you? As if it wouldn’t make much difference if you were present or not. Well, most would say that’s what being part of a city is like. I however disagree. You see I’m the square-shaped clock with the discoloured face that perches above the Eason’s bookstore in Dublin’s city centre. I see your apparent irrelevance every day. I see everything really: the 4am silence and the junkie that phases out beneath me, the early morning rush hour as you all frantically attempt to get to where you’re going to, right up until the eccentric nightlife in our capital city. Maybe I’m the one who is irrelevant because, to me, it is the life in it that makes the city what it is.

The contrast I witness in this city in twenty-four hours is something extraordinary. For example, it’s 9am and the city has life again. It’s Friday so everybody has that ‘Friday feeling’ they all seem to strive to get. I notice a man and woman walking happily together. They are dressed in suits and discussing the business headlines. The man stands out for me. He is dignified sure, but I notice the trickle of the ink of a tiger tattoo running from the back of his neck downwards as they pass. Next comes a young schoolgirl. Her body is weighed down from the weight of her schoolbag. She takes out a cigarette and lights it before checking me for confirmation of the time I provide her with. She is satisfied now but stressed. I constantly see the tension of the youths as they cope with the pressure of exams. I don’t know whether I pity or envy them, as sadly an old clock never gets educated. She stubbed the cigarette into the brick wall and I watched it fall to add to the dust and sweep of the city floor.

The usual morning hours passed with lack of any definite level of busy intensity. Buses came and left again, tourists snapped photographs of the Spire and one even stood beneath me for a photograph. I noticed the bland and vibrant colours that differed from person to person, styles and fashions clustered together into one city blur. The collection of people really accumulated at about 12:30pm. The midday sun beamed as people surrendered to their bodily needs and swarmed the city in search of nourishment. It really is a time of rush when everyone is hungry. The food differs from the savage ‘BigMac’ to the petite garden salad. The name of the game seems to be to eat your daily catch as quick as possible, while on the move to the next thing on your agenda. One must wonder ‘while there’s a breath of life in our bodies, we are determined to rush to see the sun the other way around?’

There comes a time in the city day when the clouds dim and evening appears to roll in. Everyone I see is on edge as they attempt to flee from the city chaos, all at once in want for their weekends to start. The public transport systems are compact and clogged, filled tight with indifferent people thinking of their own destination alone. The fumes of exhaust unravel from these moving boxes and I notice the discomfort of the surrounding city people. Those in cars drag themselves slowly, hardly moving, through the packed streets. The traffic warnings boom loudly from the car radios and although each person is to their own, there seems to be a sense of commuting community as everyone is stuck together, trying to break free from the city hold up. This finally dies down at a time close to 7pm. There is a sense of ease and calm as doors of shops are shut and the sun disappears to its final resting place after the working day.

What surprises me really again is the contrast. The hours drift into night until finally the second world of the city is upon us. At about 10:30pm, that’s when the city begins to flourish again. The demand to be here in the ‘in-scene’ is huge. The nightlife is peculiar to me. People surround themselves in the dark atmosphere of a pub or nightclub and light up, chug down or snort some awful concoction and tell themselves they’re having a good time. I hear the high-heeled shoes click by me again and wonder how girls are immune to the cold night temperatures. Some fall and skip and trip below me but laugh it off like its all part of the fun. This is a new life form than the daytime one. I see the same humans but there is a definite difference. Like the chameleon who can change colour but remain the same creature. I, the clock, am disregarded as these few hours of the Friday night drunken slander roll into one combination of a ‘good time’.

Ice forms above me on the roof of the building I’m attached to. As the night turns to morning of approximately 3:30am, I recognise the man. The tiger tattoo printed on the back of his neck. He is still being the man of business at this hour, but I feel it’s probably a different line of work than his daytime regime. He pushes the girl around a bit as she doesn’t seem to take him seriously enough. She appears dazzling in a short sparkling dress but more dazed as I notice her distant eyes.  A black car pulls up in front of us. The woman smiles as she is rushed into the car. Money exchanges hands and our pimp walks away with the lout. The car turns and vanishes as I see the obliviousness of the woman, as the man rests his hand on her thigh.

It’s a rare time when I experience silence. I can actually hear myself tick. It never does last long, but it’s a time I treasure. See, I don’t get to embrace the beauty of the flowers in St. Stephens Green or the treasures of the libraries or museums. I rely on the views of the life of the city. Twenty-four hours goes by quickly to me, maybe it does for you too I don’t know. The life starts again for me at about that time just before the sun rises. The woman who was earlier sold returns to shoot heroin under the shelter I provide to her. Her face is tear-stained and desperate. I watch for the few minutes it takes for her to gain her desired feeling. Her pimp returns momentarily to provide her with some damp cardboard and a sleeping bag – he needs to keep her alive at least. She finally loses all sense of this city we’re all a part of and passes out below my place of stance. The sun comes up and the man clears away, not before spitting on the helpless girl and mumbling an insult. I savour the final moments of quiet before my twenty-four hours begin again.

You see, they say the city never sleeps but here, I’m the only one who can’t rest. The injustice I witness in daily life is something of strangeness that I can’t help but notice about the human lives in the city. The man goes to work at the beginning of the day discussing business headlines and ends it spitting on a prostitute he sells for profit. If you look deeper into the hustle and bustle of the dust and sweep of the city, you may not see the twenty-four hour detail I see, but the fact of what the reality means in our beautiful, yet tainted, capital city. Time is the essence, I as a clock would know, but a lot can change in a little over twenty-four hours.

Yeats Exhibition Review (2013)

yeats1

On the 29th October 2013, some enthusiastic sixth year English students, with a keen interest in poetry and culture, made the trip to The National Library of Dublin.

Here at the library located on Kildare Street next to Dáil Eireann, the students visited the fantastic exhibition of the life and works of the poet and playwright William Butler Yeats.

The award winning exhibition was first opened to the public in 2006, with the intent of being open for a single year only. Nine years on, the excellent exhibition is still as popular as ever with visitors of Irish nationality and for foreign tourists.

We were welcomed into the exhibition by our friendly and helpful tour guide, organised to assist us throughout. On first step into the exhibition room, we saw the poetic works of Yeats brought to life visually, as the poems were read aloud to changing images which one could sit and enjoy.

The exhibition was organised in a way that captured the changing times within Yeats’ life.

First we saw protected heirlooms from Yeats’ childhood, including a school report and pictures of his childhood home and surrounding area, which he later captures and refers to in his escapist era of poetry. This was followed by a glimpse into his teenage years, where we see him explore some more complex issues in attempt to gain understanding about the world around him and indeed himself.

The next section of the exhibition focused on the women within Yeats’ life and the role they played in his works as a playwright and poet. This particular room had framed photographs of different mistresses and love interests of Yeats, from Countess Markievicz and Maud Gonne to his own wife, Georgiana Hyde-Lees. This was interesting to see the total amount of women and how crucial their involvement with Yeats was in such ways to which they influenced his writings.

Following this we saw Yeats’ special connection to the older Lady Gregory, who Yeats was very close to in having similar interests with artistic and cultural projects, the major one being the setting up of The Abbey Theatre.

In glass cases were original letters Yeats and Gregory wrote to each other and it was clear to see the exceptional bond they held. Yeats in middle age explored different cults and religions. The exhibition portrayed this graphically with detailed robes and symbols from different cults and religions Yeats became fixated on. It was interesting to see how this influenced his works, bringing forth new ideas of self expression in a slightly romanticised fashion.

From the exhibition it was clear to see how Yeats was heavily involved and interested in politics. From his poems ‘Easter 1916’ and ‘September 1913’ Yeats comes forth holding  his own stance as a well established poet in society at the time, as he notes his reactions and views to these national social and political events which he lived through.

In later life he furthered his political input becoming a member of the Seanad. His objective as a Seanad member was to be a representative for the area of arts and literature, although he often ignored this and got involved in heated controversial debates on topics such as divorce. Within his final years of life he was still a persistent poet and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. At the exhibition, the top hat which he wore when receiving the award was on display and also a replica of the award itself.

In the final back room within the exhibition there was a place to sit to watch a film playing of literary and public figures speaking about Yeats, the late poet Seamus Heaney featured speaking here which was great to see their own appreciation of Yeats.  The exhibition had an excellent mixture of factual information, social history, politics, romance and religion which gave a detailed look into these aspects of Yeats’ life and works.

All artefacts present were donated by Yeats’ family, and it was really a capsule of dedication to the great poet and playwright he was and so much more. The mixture of multimedia modern technologies alongside original manuscripts was great to see, as the original works of Yeats were brought into focus to modern access.

To take the virtual tour online visit www.nli.ie/yeats .

The Yeats exhibition is just one of many free attractions to visit in Dublin. For those who wish to discover more about the attractions within our cultural capital city, log on to http://www.dublin.ie or www.visitdublin.com .

Library Looks

6 hours until the deadline

600 words down

6 times you have told yourself

“You’ll never live this down”

 

A coffee break,

an escape,

From the enclosure that never closes

 

The land of books

and dirty looks

As you scramble to take your place

 

Among the scholars,

far and wide

The various range of areas.

 

You can spot the ones that don’t fit in.

 

And so you escape for coffee.

Turning corners

Bottle the problem,
Capture it

enclose it away
Turn to the bottle, it has the answer

You have to get to the bottom of it
Lock you up

There’s a screw not turning

In a man so focused on fixing
Those around him

Coming down hard

Like the shard of glass
That he probably used that time,

They all do that don’t they?

It’s expected and weirdly accepted
Swept away, like the glass I lose to the floor every time I work in the bar.
We let things go on too far

before we do what we can

We clear it away.

It’s gone, everything is perfect again.
Until the next time.

This inevitable unknown that’s just around the corner,

Comes once you are on the wrong road.
Don’t leave the paths you know,

Don’t branch out and try to live.

Stay set stay put,

It’s the only way.
You may be a misery,

But at least it’s not clinical

Not this time.
I wonder when the next corner will come?

Out of nowhere and send the vehicle overturning, spinning out of control.
The road is never known