THE DARK SIDE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT AMIDST COVID-19
BY LIVY WALLIS
September 25, 2020
It is a popularly accepted that COVID-19 has been “good for the environment”, with almost half of British people believing the long-term effects of the pandemic will have a positive impact on the planet. Naturally people, including myself, have been grasping for a silver lining to a global tragedy.
Yet there is a more sinister side to associating social disaster with environmental benefit. In fact, observing the environmental changes in the last few months as the “big beneficiary” of the COVID-19 lockdown, borders dangerously on harmful eco-fascist sentiments.
What has been the environmental impact of COVID-19?
We have lived through the biggest carbon crash ever recorded. In the last six months COVID-19 has had a more dramatic impact on CO2 emissions than any previous war, recession or pandemic. From a UK perspective at the start of lockdown, we saw a 90% collapse in carbon emissions in the aviation sector, a 60% fall in emissions from passenger vehicles and a 30% decline in emissions from the energy sector.
Other stories scattered amid COVID-19 headlines have focused on the resurgence of wildlife activity, with the unusual silence brought about by lockdown, leading to the emergence of a different sound; birdsong. Media from around the world have brought us snapshots of lions sprawled out on quiet roads in the absence of safari-goers, mountain goats ambling along Welsh highstreets typically frequented by tourists and countless sightings of other wildlife taking advantage of quieter cities.
When does this become a problem?
Rejoicing in these images is only natural and it’s unjust to say anyone who has is an eco-fascist. The problem arises when these statistics and images provoke an accusation that humanity is to blame for climate change, and that humanity is the disease. Assigning blame to humanity as a whole absolves those who actually wield power and do the most environmental damage.
Harmful statements to watch out for:
“Coronavirus is Earth’s vaccine”
“We’re the virus”
“Humans are the disease, and coronavirus is the cure”
“Nature is returning to the world now that the people are gone”
“Earth is healing herself”
These statements sit invitingly within a darker side of environmentalism, one that encourages viewing a pandemic as the “cure” for environmental destruction. This suggestion proposes that mass loss of human life is worth it or even essential for the sake of a healthy environment. Any statement eluding to humans as “the virus”, is critically reminiscent of past environmental movements that have served to diminish non-white, non-Western populations.
What is Eco-fascism?
Eco-fascism sounds skilfully oxymoronic; however, ecofascist narratives have been peddled by both the far right and more “liberal” environmentalists. It is loosely regarded as the mashup of white supremacy and environmentalism, that advocates for conservationism through any means necessary, including eugenics and mass murder. Contemporary eco-fascists draw on the romantic contrast between sublime hierarchies of nature and the corruption of modernity, that they view as the cause of the oncoming climate crisis. Their climate “solutions” lie in a rapid reduction of the human population.
A famous eco-fascist rhetoric evolved from over-populationist, Paul Ehrlich, who published “The Population Bomb” in 1968. His principle concern stressed that ecological destruction could be attributed to overpopulation, specifically placing blame on the poor and oppressed. Modern over-populationists have built upon Ehrlich’s theory to justify far right views on immigration, labelling it as a strain on natural resources and consequently a threat to environmental security. For example, “green” border policing views intensified policing of borders as a “realistic” response to the inevitability of environmental disaster. Memes produced by the far right, such as “save trees, not refugees”, do nothing to divorce environmentalism with white supremacy.
To the reader this language may be surprising and even barbaric, however, problematic articles have surfaced from even the more liberal newspapers that have underlying sentiments of eco-fascism. The Guardian newspaper recently published an article titled, “Coronavirus: 'Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief”. Another comes from Psychology Today, a US Magazine where the coronavirus is referred to as a “gift” and mother nature is said to have turned “it up a notch”.
A relentless barrage of COVID-19 news stories that suggest systemic and societal failures inevitably leads to far-right groups taking advantage of public disarray to spread disinformation and recruit. One white supremacist organisation recently hijacked Extinction Rebellion, replicating XR stickers and posts proclaiming, “Corona is the cure, humans are the disease”.
As the climate crisis intensifies, it is important not to latch onto simple narratives, such as “if only we had less humans then the ecological crisis would be solved”. Instead we should scrutinise and call out anyone whose underlying tone of eco-fascist sentiments devalues the systematic change that is needed.
Reason for hope?
2020 has proven that cleaner air, burgeoning urban wildlife and an urgent government response can be achieved in just a few days. Forcing a significant proportion of the population inside, offers a unique experiment that will provide valuable research evidence into causes of pollution and the impacts of a sudden halt to economic activity and transport for decades to come.
If there is one reason to be hopeful it is that some of the behavioural changes, we’ve experienced will become permanently ingrained, such as changes to travel and consumption patterns. The rapid development of digital technologies, enabling people to work from home and the reduced enthusiasm for globalisation, may pave the way for a more digitally enabled, decentralised economy. But perhaps more importantly, the extra time to think has aroused a more politically aware and engaged population. A population that is motivated to dislodge the status quo and recognises that ill-informed choices from people at the top, affect our health and wellbeing and our future.
Instead of celebrating an unsustainable improvement in environmental conditions, we should reimagine what a different society could look like, a more just society, where community spirit triumphs over supremacist right wing ideologies and one that trusts humanity can be the cure.
Calvin Harris x The Weeknd – Over Now (Single)
After spending the year creating techno and rave music through the Love Regenerator moniker/alter ego. Calvin Harris has returned with a funk-laden single helped by the voice of the Weekend. The song is a chill retro leaning one, signalling the end of the summer and the end of a tumultuous relationship. For any music theory fanatics, the chord change in the progression towards the end of this one is sublime.
London Grammar - Baby It’s You (Single)
The three piece band from London have returned after a 3 year hiatus to release the single called ‘Baby It’s You’. The single brings an electronic palette to the table courtesy from electronic producer George Fitzgerald of the duo Otherline. A new album is pending.
Jevon – Girl From Bahia (Single)
Rapper, Singer and Producer Jevon has released a new single that once was a one minute track released as part of a 3 minute mini-series showcasing Brazilian influenced musical snapshots. Having added a sultry second verse in Portuguese, the track is now complete for serenading moments of the day.
Nines – Crabs in A Bucket (Album)
UK Rap storytelling at it’s finest. Nines has returned with ‘Crabs In A Bucket’. The man does not disappoint when it comes to spitting about his dealings living in Church Road. I’m sure some readers will remember listening to ‘CR’ on the bus going to school in the morning. He is still going strong ten years later.
-NIC ft Tiggs Da Author
-Airplane Mode ft NSG
-Ringaling ft Headie One and Odeal
Disclosure – ENERGY (Album)
It has been five years since the brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence last released an LP in the form of Caracal. That album brings back great memories with chart present tracks such as Omen ft Sam Smith.
Having gone away to listen to african music, retracing their childhood roots in the form of garage and J Dilla production, Disclosure have come back with a bang. Purposely named Energy to signal the club-centric focus of the album, it is ironic now that we cannot actually raise our fist in the air to ‘oontz oontz music’.
-Lavender ft Channel Tres
-Who Knew? Ft Mick Jenkins
-Douha(Mali Mali) ft Fatoumata Diawara
-Birthday ft Syd, Kehlani
-Reverie ft Common
TRIGGER WARNING: THIS PIECE CONTAINS SENSITIVE INFORMATION SURROUNDING BABY LOSS WHICH MAY BE UPSETTING
BY CIARA BUCKLEY
September 25, 2020
In the UK, 1 in 4 women have experienced a miscarriage, amounting to around 250,000 losses each year. Despite baby loss being unfortunately incredibly common, the conversation surrounding the topic continues to be taboo and a sensitive one to touch upon. However, with so many women experiencing the same pain and heartbreak, more needs to be done to create awareness and remind women that they are not alone. Despite miscarriage being so common, something that is less known and discussed about is ectopic pregnancy, a common but potentially life threatening condition that will affect 1 in 80 pregnancies.
There are many symptoms with an ectopic pregnancy that can easily be mistaken for healthy, early pregnancy symptoms. It is in these cases that women can often disregard these feelings of pain or bleeding and can result in the situation to worsen.
The following symptoms are listed on the NHS website:
A missed period and other signs of pregnancy
Tummy pain low down on 1 side
Vaginal bleeding or a brown, watery discharge
Pain in the tip of you shoulder (indicating internal bleeding)
Discomfort when peeing or pooing
Despite these symptoms being strong indicators of an ectopic pregnancy, many women can experience little to no symptoms. Other symptoms that have been commonly found is dull cramping, bloating, constipation-like pain, dizziness, fainting, rectal pain/pressure and difficulty standing up straight. It is important to note that you can still have a normal period, but still be diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. It is therefore crucial that you should listen to your body and note if something is not right, in which case it is always best to seek medical advice. If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms, you should request medical help imminently.
Of those 250,000 losses a year, 11,000 of those are emergency admissions for an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is where a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb and 95% of the time this will be in one of the fallopian tubes, but other sites can include abdominal, cervical or ovarian implantation. This pregnancy is not viable and despite what some Ohio governors have controversially argued to push for tighter abortion laws, it is not possible to re-implant the pregnancy or save it. If left untreated, or if there is a delay in seeking medical attention, an ectopic pregnancy can continue to grow and cause the fallopian tube to rupture, putting the woman’s life at risk. There are three main management methods of treatment which include expectant management, medical management and surgical management and it is up to the medical professional who is dealing with the patient to decide the best course of action given the patients’ circumstances.
The first management method is expectant management which is essentially keeping a close eye on you in the hope that your body will be able to resolve the pregnancy on its own. The doctor will make close observations to ensure that you qualify for expectant management where they have a checklist to ensure that your situation is not life threatening, such as no signs of worrying bleeding and or if your pain is minimal. You will be required to come back for blood test several times a week to ensure that your hCG levels are decreasing, essentially showing signs that your body is resolving the pregnancy until you are no longer pregnant. This can take as little as a couple of weeks, or last up to a few months, however almost 50% of ectopic pregnancies will be resolved with expectant management.
The next method of management is medical management, involving a powerful drug called Methotrexate which is also used to treat cancers. The drug is injected into your body which prevents the pregnancy from growing any further and causing any further damage. Medical management also requires you to be monitored carefully through bloodwork to ensure that hCG levels are not increasing further or that your symptoms are deteriorating, potentially indicating that the drug has been unsuccessful. According to research, 65-95% of ectopic pregnancies are successfully managed using Methotrexate.
This third management method involves surgical removal of the pregnancy. This is usually in circumstances where your hCG levels are high, the ectopic pregnancy appears to be large, there is a substantial amount of internal bleeding that can be visible on an ultrasound or expectant and medical managed has failed. It is circumstances like these where a woman’s life is put at risk as there is a possibility that the pregnancy can cause the tube to rupture. Laparoscopic surgery, also known as keyhole surgery, is the most commonly used operation, however laparotomy, which is open cut surgery, is used in cases where there is a dangerous amount of internal bleeding or the tube has ruptured.
The first time I had heard of an ectopic pregnancy was when Charlotte Crosby openly spoke about her experience in 2016, but this was never something I took much interest in or looked into any further. I then heard the term again from my GP when I had the Jaydess contraceptive coil put in, as this was one of the rare risks that came with it and I had to be notified about it, just in case. I was never told about things to look out for and the symptoms that could indicate an ectopic pregnancy.
Then, on 8th September 2019, after a lot of unexplained pain, bleeding and unanswered questions from medical professionals, I found out in A&E that I was pregnant. Despite having the coil in place for nearly two years at this point, finding out that I was pregnant was a huge shock in itself and it was very unexpected. However, two days later following an ultrasound, things began to develop and my situation went from 0 to 100 within hours and things suddenly became very surreal and frightening. I was told that this pregnancy was ectopic, that there was a lot of internal bleeding, that I required laparoscopic surgery, that there was a high possibility that I would lose my left fallopian tube during surgery and that my life was at risk. I was pregnant and not pregnant within 72 hours.
Following from my surgery and after I physically recovered, I felt angry, confused, upset and worried and had so many questions I wanted answers to; how had this happened? Why did this happen to me? Why was I not more aware of my symptoms? How can I prevent other women from going through the grief and pain that I had been through? Why was there no awareness of ectopic pregnancies?
According to my surgeon, I didn’t need a follow up appointment and I felt a bit lost as to how these questions were going to be answered and how I was going to find the support to get me through the inevitable grief of losing an unplanned pregnancy and my fallopian tube.
I was given a leaflet from the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and I fortunately accessed counselling at university, but it felt like I was just treated as another statistic and was in and out before I could process what had happened. With 1 in 5 women experiencing symptoms of PTSD at least 9 months after an ectopic pregnancy, I was incredibly lucky to have the support that I did from my partner, family, friends and the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and I truly believe that without them, I would have struggled more than what I did. This incredible charity supports those and their partners who have been through and are currently experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. The charity offers support services from treatment information leaflets, answers to those questions that women may have following an ectopic, discussion forums, email support and a telephone helpline service – it gives those women the correct support and guidance through a time which can feel incredibly isolating, lonely and scary.
However, there are many women all across the world who feel so left in the dark, pushed to the side and expected to just ‘get over’ their loss after an ectopic and I wanted to do everything I could to support those who have been through this, are currently going through this and will go through this in the future. From that point on, my Instagram page @ectopicawareness has positively consumed me daily, through posting other women’s stories, giving advice, offering support and most importantly, creating awareness of the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. The account has reached across the world, with ladies in the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, America, Canada, Singapore, Caribbean and Qatar who are accessing support through the page.
I hope to continue to raise awareness and support those who may potentially go through the same thing as me. I have been overwhelmed with people I know who have said to me that they had never heard of an ectopic pregnancy before, but now they know the symptoms and would know exactly what to do if they are presented with them. This information is not only important for those who are trying to conceive, but those who are on contraception too. I did not think something like this would happen to me until it happened to me. This can happen to anyone. If you notice any of the signs and symptoms that are listed above, I cannot urge you enough to seek immediate medical attention, it could save your life.
I have recently completed 80 miles in 1 month for the 1 in 80, raising over £550 for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. If you would like to donate towards this charity who has helped not only be, but thousands of other women, please follow the link below.
i met her in the spring
she must have emerged with wings
from the sugar clouds
or perhaps she materialised
from the sun’s rays,
so soft, so golden,
peaches & nicotine
put your head on my shoulder
i’ll play a record and
we’ll dance in our sleep;
meet me by the beach
stand on the shore
let the waves soak up our emotions;
open your eyes
we’re standing in midnight puddles;
read me your book
let’s pour electric whispers
into this dark city;
find us in the morning
we drank til we were fluent
in peaches and nicotine;
is this what insomnia tastes like?
kiss me again
UNPRECEDENTED CIRCUMSTANCES: SEPTEMBER 2020
BY JESSICA JACOBS
September 25, 2020
As we say farewell to our final summer day, and the autumn leaves of September begin to fall, we can reflect on an unpredictable and historical year so far. Resilience, confinement and loss are themes which have both characterised and challenged our daily lives throughout 2020. Are they really as ‘unprecedented’ in Britain as they may seem? Maybe in this century, but certainly not in the last.
On the first of September 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. The British public were acutely aware of the accelerating threat that Hitler’s Germany posed to the balance of European power and thus mobilised, creating a unified home front. Women were no longer expected to remain in the confines of the domestic sphere; they surfaced in the world of work on farms, in factories and in the auxiliary services. Men were transformed into soldiers and called up to serve or stayed in Britain to carry out essential roles. Confronting the ferocious prospect of total war, a culture of resilience emerged.
In 2020, as we fight the threat of a viral enemy by ‘staying alert,’ the legacy of perseverance and bravery by wartime Britons resonates now more than ever. A shared struggle against the psychological battle with confinement remains, as lockdown regulations fluctuate every week. So, as we remember the declaration of the Second World War this September, we should reflect and take inspiration from our parents and grandparents who experienced similar challenges to that of 2020. When we face the prospect of prolonged periods of lockdown and social isolation, we should remember that the spirit of resilience in Britain that shone brightly in 1939, exists in us today.
MY TOP RESOURCES AND TIPS FOR BOOSTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
BY MOLLY SAXBY
September 25, 2020
I have recently spent a lot of time focusing on protecting and boosting my mental health, I have benefitted from a number of resources and tactics, which I plan to share with you in this piece. Mental health is such a personal and unique thing, but I hope some of you will benefit from at least one of these tips!
Podcasts are something I love to listen to for many different things, particularly for boosting my mood and expanding my outlook on my own consciousnesses. My favourite podcasts include Happy Place by Fearne Cotton, which sees Fearne and her guests discuss a multitude of topics surrounding life and mental health. Another of my favourites is The One You Feed by Eric Zimmer, which offers deep discussions of topics such as psychology, motivation, anxiety, and meditation. The last podcast I will recommend here is Under the Skin by Russel Brand which whilst not dedicated to mental health, focuses on a wide array of topics from economics to addiction, and these discussions often calm me, particularly his episode with Professor Brian Cox - which I must have listened to at least 20 times now!
I love reading and have benefited tremendously in recent months by engaging in books that focus upon the mind and the way we live our lives. A classic, I would recommend to everyone, is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This book completely changed my thought process, through its central teaching of living in the present and to me, is an absolute must read. Another book which I loved greatly was Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie; this tells the story of a dying professor and his ex-student’s weekly meetings about the lessons of life and is a very eye opening and humbling read. For wider reading surrounding breaking habits and living a fulfilled life, check out: Sylvester McNutt III’s Lust for Life and Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life.
Something which I find very beneficial, despite being somewhat cringed out by in the beginning, are motivational speeches. On days when I wake up feeling particularly low, I will put on a short motivational speech to start my day in a positive way. Speeches obviously vary in their content and ones which I may love, may not be applicable to others. Find one that tailors to your beliefs and needs, for example, your own religious and spiritual beliefs. A favourite of mine, particularly for the mornings, is Morning Motivation-Just Do It! by Richling, which can be found on Spotify.
Meditation and mindfulness
Admittedly, meditation and mindfulness can feel a bit silly when you first start practicing them. However, from my experience, both are excellent tools for self-reflection, downtime, and processing your emotions and thoughts in a productive way. For those that don’t know, mindfulness is a type of meditation which focuses on being intensely aware of what you are sensing in the now and is something which has become popularized in recent years for its great benefits. I began practicing meditation and mindfulness alongside a podcast or tutorial as I struggled to focus and found my thoughts wandering, and hence counteracting the meditation I was meant to be doing. Podcasts and tutorials can be accessed very easily on music platforms or YouTube. I now enjoy meditating alongside calming music for only around 5 minutes every morning and evening, with some exceptions. I, and many others, find this downtime a useful way to engage with our emotions and thoughts in a relaxing, productive way.
Reflection and appreciation
Whilst the resources and tips I have recommended here have benefited me and others greatly, I would also like to highlight the importance of reflection and appreciation. The above tips hold a common denominator in their focus on time or effort to install a mindset which centres around reflection and appreciation of our thoughts and our progress. This mindset whilst aided by books or podcasts and so on, is something that is ultimately self-taught and learnt, possibly supported by friends, family, or even therapists and councilors. These resources help you to help yourself and reiterate or implement a frame of mind which can understand the thoughts and feelings you experience in a productive and healthy way. I am not here to pretend to be qualified in any way to speak on this topic, except from my own experience, but I encourage anyone who is struggling, or even those who are not, to be good to themselves and to take the time to learn and support themselves, it is worth it.
Hey, my name is Ryan and I am a photographer of many, many things. For the last 10 years, I've spent the majority of my time exploring and shooting beautiful derelict buildings. In the beginning, I'd wake myself at sunrise, and drive the short 5 minute trip across my hometown to watch the sunrise through the smashed glass of a derelict Victorian mental asylum, after spending the entire day in there 24 hours previous. I'm not ashamed to admit, that it quickly became an obsession for me. I just adored the silence amongst the decay. I'd travel all over England at the weekend, and into Belgium and France on zero sleep, to some beautiful locations I feel blessed to have seen. All this eventually lead me to the place sat atop of my bucket list. I decided one day to book myself a solo trip, and spend 3 days in the Chernobyl exclusion zone - and it turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done. It was beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking, and it made me evolve as a photographer.
A NEW ERA
BY HENRY PARNELL
September 25, 2020
In 2020, for the first time ever, both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson failed to make the cut at a US Open. Whilst neither golfer can be written off altogether – least of all Tiger - it is undeniable that we are on the brink of a new era of golfing greats.
Having become infinitely bigger than the sport which made him famous, Tiger is no stranger to come-backs, after a multi-year hiatus from professional golf, littered with injuries and scandals, he made one of the greatest come-backs in sporting history. Despite not ever seeming dangerous in 2020, to think that he is permanently down and out now would be a fool’s prediction – yet his recent run of bad form has the sceptics rumbling once again.
The fan favourite Phil Mickelson is a golfing great in his own right – his 5 major wins and 44 PGA tour wins solidify him into the hall-of-fame alongside his long standing rival and friend Woods. However, Mickelson’s qualification for the PGA Champions Tour, having recently turned 50, is a milestone which cannot be ignored.
Spectators long for a repeat of Tiger’s 2019 Masters win, many of us younger fans having heard the legend of Tiger’s dominance and his win-all mentality in the late 90s and early 2000s, yet have never seen it in for ourselves, only glimpses of it, and maybe we never will. One can’t help thinking that Bryson DeChambeau – a controversial young player pushing the boundaries of how to play, and ultimately win a golf major – taking home the 2020 US Open title, symbolizes a changing of the guard. While Bryson, love him or hate him, will maybe not go on to be a Phil or a Tiger, his aggressive swings, 320 yard driving average and ugly putting style is annoyingly effective. DeChambeau’s win, 21 year old Matthew Wolff’s 2nd place, and furthermore 23 year old Colin Morikawa’s major win at the PGA Championship earlier in the year, highlight the incoming crop of young players eager to take the spotlight. Bryson’s unique style of play represents the modern age of golf, and whether or not there is room for the greats that we know and love is yet to be seen.
It was rumored that 40% of all bets at one American bookie for the 2020 US Open were on Phil Mickelson to win. Whether the fans knew something we didn’t about Phil’s form, or whether this level of betting was more of an emotional move based on the romanticization of the bomb-hitting, calf-training, fairway-missing legend that is Phil, is anyone’s guess. I am a massive Mickelson fan, and as a person and as a golfer he never fails to entertain - but having failed to make the weekend cut, and bowing out at +13 after 2 rounds, I’m glad my money wasn’t on him.
Admittedly, Winged Foot is a notoriously difficult course, with Tiger counting it alongside Carnoustie and Pine Valley as one of the top 3 hardest courses on the world, the 2006 US Open held there was won with a score of +5. The Superintendent of the course should also be packing his bags, having stated prior to the 2020 tournament that he would quit his job should the winning score be under par. In his defence, only one player - DeChambeau - managed to achieve this feat. Despite the devilish un-playability of this course, DeChambeau’s unfaltering consistency – and Tiger and Phil’s lack of it - just goes to highlight further how his brand of golf is a winning formula.
We might yet see a glimmer of greatness from the famous pair of Woods and Mickelson, the 2020 Master’s is set for November and Augusta is a course which famously suits Tiger’s style of play. But as a long and technical course, Bryson too could continue his run of form and sweep the field. As much as we hate to admit it, Woods’ and Mickelson’s careers really are winding down, and a new cohort are ready to take the reins. However, seeing another spectacular win from some of golfs’ ageing greats is never out of the question.
NEW SINGLE: TONGUE TIED
WHY ARE WE SO OBSESSED WITH TRUE CRIME?
BY MOLLY JAMES
September 25, 2020
Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy are all household names - infamous for their gruesome crimes. Why do we afford these people, arguably the most evil and unworthy members of society, with such profound attention and status? I am undeniably a true crime fanatic. I’ve watched every docuseries and read every book on the subject that I could get my hands on. But at some point, I had to stop and ask myself, why? And on a more pressing note - is this normal? Nearly 8 million people watched the Netflix series Making a Murderer in 2015 and top crime podcast ‘Serial’ has been downloaded more than 250 million times. So, while I can rest assured that I am not alone in my obsession, why as a society are we so fascinated with true crime?
It allows us to temporarily escape and value our own lives.
If you go on Netflix in search of a good true crime docuseries, chances are you’ll end up with something American. We find it easier to learn about violent killers that exist thousands of miles and a lifetime away from our own reality. There is also a comfort in knowing that we would never commit such terrible crimes; it confirms that we are in fact good and the perpetrator evil. When I went through a breakup last year, I actively avoided anything even remotely romantic. Naturally, I gravitated towards true crime because it fascinated me, took my mind off things, and reminded me that wow, I’m actually doing okay as I’m neither a murderer nor dead because of one.
We are naturally fascinated by death and evil.
If we are being honest, I think our obsession has a lot to do with morbid fascination. There were 671 victims of homicide in England and Wales last year, so luckily our chances of meeting a murderer are incredibly slim. For the same reason some of us enjoy watching horror films, we like to be frightened and enthralled by fear and danger. Serial killers have the added dimension that they are evidently and quite obviously human, oppose to paranormal or alien activity – they are in a way, like us. We revel in the macabre when it is kept at arm’s length as it allows us to look at death up close without suffering the effects in real life. In the same way that we find ourselves turning to look at the sight of a road accident or an ambulance, we are drawn to witness the horror when we are to some extent removed.
Knowledge is power – sort of.
By consuming true crime we are arming ourselves with a better awareness of these killers, therefore improving our chances of survival if we ever encounter one. FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit said that “serial murderers often have families and homes, are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of the community.” Perhaps through gaining a better understanding of these criminals, we are more likely to spot a murderer, whether it be the old lady living next door or the guy that works in your local supermarket. While this is a comforting idea, I don’t really think it holds much substance. It’s not helpful to start looking at everyone (like the little old lady next door) with unwarranted suspicion. Realistically, if a Ted Bundy type breaks into my home with the intent to kill me, I’m not convinced I’d be any better equipped to fight him off than the next person. While yes, I am probably more cautious because of true crime (checking the backseat of my car and triple checking the locks), I am much more likely to meet an untimely death as a result of my questionable driving skills, appose to finding a murderer in my backseat.
We experience the crime without being harmed.
Nobody wants to be the victim of a violent serial killer, or a killer of any kind. But, through true crime, we can experience the horror without becoming or personally knowing the victim. When contemplating potential career paths, I did the classic ‘I would be a great detective or forensic pathologist’. Yes, I had a great track record of identifying the perpetrator in BBC crime dramas, but when I considered facing real murders of real people, I quickly abandoned the idea. In his book Talking with Psychopaths, Christopher Berry-Dee interviews prolific killers about their crimes – and while I would highly recommend it as a great read, I have no desire to ever speak to, look at or meet a serial killer. But, do I plan on visiting the Jack the Ripper walking tour? Absolutely! It’s entertaining to play detective and to experience true crime without the horrific consequences.
So, how moral (and healthy) is this obsession?
Finally, we come to the big question – if these monsters are so clearly undeserving of both our time and energy, why do we give it to them? I can clearly picture Ted Bundy’s face from memory, but I am ashamed to say that I know little about his victims. We know that mass and serial murderers often enjoy the infamy – being awarded with a seat at the table of the world’s most evil people. As far as morality goes, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for having a natural inclination to learn about true crime, but I do think its good to recognise the potential problems it entails and to redirect some of our attention back to the victims. When watched in moderation it is an enthralling and fascinating genre, but if it begins to keep you up at night, you find yourself unable to sleep in the dark, or you start becoming desensitised to extreme violence - perhaps it’s time to switch over to Disney+ for a while.
ENTERTAINMENT SNIPPET: WHAT TO WATCH IN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER
BY HARRY MEMBREY
Even though cinemas have now reopened, the effects of a global pandemic are still being heavily felt within the entertainment sector. Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster epic, Tenet, was supposed to be the shimmering lighthouse for the lost ship that cinema was in early August. An original film by a highly original director, it could’ve given the industry an enormous boom. In the U.K. this is partially true as Tenet earned a healthy circa £5,000,000 opening weekend gross and a promising £12,446,578 to date (bfi). Even globally Tenet has made over $250 million up to now, only a $50 million profit but still not bad given the current situation.
So, what’s the issue? The issue is America.
A particularly lacklustre $36 million from Tenet in North America so far has had a ripple effect on the Warner Bros. release schedule, and many other distributors have followed suit. Big September and October releases like the hotly anticipated The King’s Man, Wonder Woman 1984 and Candyman have been pushed back to the final days of 2020 and into 2021, with release dates yet to be decisive simply due to an inconsistent audience.
That ripple effect doesn’t end there either, with big questions being held over Warner Bros. and Denis Villeneuve’s stirring Dune adaptation this December and almost every other 2020 release garnering a pinch of salt to them too. This includes upcoming 2020 releases such as November’s No Time To Die and even beyond that, with Matt Reeves’ The Batman and the Avatar and Star Wars sequels also heavily affected.
Essentially, it’s probably dangerous to get excited about going to the cinema for the rest of the year and means that the future of the cinematic experience may lie mostly in 2021.
Or does it?
Even though there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding leaving the comfort of your home and sitting comfortably in the welcoming arms of a dark cinema screen, the opportunities that VOD have given the entertainment industry are staggering. Streaming services have completely changed the way we think about cinema, and now more than ever. So far this year there have been impressive releases coming from these services like Extraction, Hamilton and The Boys with even more exciting things to come on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV and more.
So, without further ado, here are 5 of the most exciting films and shows releasing between now and October 30th that you can get excited about and where exactly you can stream them from.
THE BOYS IN THE BAND - NETFLIX SEPTEMBER 30TH
Starring Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek), The Boys In The Band is an upcoming LGBT drama film directed by Joe Mantello (Love! Valour! Compassion!) and based on the 1968 play of the same name by Mart Crowley. The movie depicts a group of gay friends reuniting to celebrate a birthday. But when the host's closeted college roommate turns up out of the blue, the evening becomes something much more than it was ever meant to be.
Co-written by the original writer, The Boys In The Band is set to be a hilarious, melancholic and poignant foray into the buried truth of seven squandered souls.
THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR - NETFLIX OCTOBER 9TH
Following the breakthrough success of Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House, he has reunited the recognisable team to bring a rejuvenated anthological installment to the Haunting series, following a new family’s story in a new haunted house. The new series is based on Henry James’ 1898 Gothic horror The Turn of the Screw and follows an American tutor, Dani Clayton (played by the returning Victoria Pedretti), hoping to escape her own painful past by taking a job looking after the Wingrave children at a large estate in Essex, England. She soon begins witnessing supernatural activity and is convinced the kids are being visited by ghosts.
With virtually the exact same cast returning and with a new haunted house, it would appear that we have Netflix’s retort to the American Horror Story series. The perfect thing to spook us this October.
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 - NETFLIX OCTOBER 16TH
Written and directed by Academy Award-Winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), The Trial of the Chicago 7chronicles the events following the peaceful American protests of 1968’s Democratic National Convention. The film has garnered a stellar cast including (but by no means limited to) Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Mark Rylance (Dunkirk), enabling Aaron Sorkin’s potentially absorbing take on one of the most notorious trials in history.
If you’re looking for a heated drama that illustrates the democratic troubles that plagued society during the Vietnam War but still remain sharply relevant today, then The Trial of the Chicago 7 is the perfect fit for you. “The whole world is watching”.
THE MANDALORIAN SEASON 2 - DISNEY+ OCTOBER 30TH
Jon Favreau’s space-western starring Pedro Pascal (Narcos) and the lovable Baby Yoda returns to Disney+ with a new season in October. Having saved ‘The Child’ from various threats during the first season, Pascal’s Din Djarin must travel across many galaxies to find its true home. But it won’t be easy as Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) will presumably not be too far behind as the villainous Moff Gidian. With Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther) returning as composer and Temuera Morrison (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith) rumoured as a returning character it is set to be a major season for fans of the transmedia franchise.
Having earned itself a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys and garnering a great deal of critical acclaim, it’s safe to bet that The Mandalorian will continue in the upward trajectory set during season 1.
UNSOLVED MYSTERIES SEASON 2 - NETFLIX OCTOBER 19TH
If you want a spooky thrill on Halloween but don’t much fancy the jump scares afforded by the ghosts of The Haunting of Bly Manor, then the second installment of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries is just right for those true-crime aficionados amongst us. Continuing in the same vein of season 1 with executive producer Shawn Levy (Stranger Things), season 2 will likely document new cold cases and paranormal phenomena with each episode (12 in total) focusing on a single mystery.
The mysteries that the new series will look at still remain a mystery themselves but, show co-creator Terry Dunn Meurer has revealed that there will be a ghost story for us to enjoy this Halloween: exactly what season 1 was missing.
Watch out for the trailer.
MANK - NETFLIX OCT 2020
It would be remiss of me to discuss the most exciting October releases this year without mentioning David Fincher’s (Gone Girl) latest feature film, Mank. Starring Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) as the titular character alongside Amanda Seyfreid (Les Miserables), Mank is a very probable contender for the 2021 Oscars. The Netflix film surrounds the life of Citizen Kane writer Herman J. Mankiewicz, and the problems that arose with Orson Welles during the production and release of the iconic Hollywood masterpiece.
The only problem is that, due to certain issues surrounding production this year, we haven’t yet had a confirmed release date for the film. However, producer Eric Roth has stated that the film will be released in October 2020. So, fingers crossed we’ll see it and it can be added to the fantastic roster of film and television releases this fall.
These photographs were captured during a camping trip at Cow Gap, in Eastbourne. Growing up I would come here often with my family; camping, sitting around campfires, and waking up to the sound of crashing waves. A lot has changed in my life between those times and this visit, and it was a poignant environment for reflection. There is no real theme to these photos, they merely offer a documentation of a calm morning in a place that is peacefully disconnected from its surroundings.