Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The DUFF (2015) Review (Spoilers...?)

If you've ever seen cult classic The Breakfast Club, you'll remember the iconic scene at the end when the recluse/outcast stereotype character, Allison, is given a make over by Claire, the popular girl stereotype, and then suddenly Andrew, the jock, falls in love with her. Because he wouldn't have if she'd stayed just the way she was. Personally I think she looks better pre-make over. But that's not Hollywood. Like most Disney films, the girl has to change somehow in order to get the guy. I thought this was, by now, a rule that was made to be broken. 

How awful is the photoshopping on this poster? What have they done to Whitman's head/face?!

Not in The DUFF. Considering the film's main message is about breaking stereotypes and labels etc. etc. it is highly invested in labelling every single character with some kind of slightly mean label. And then says, "but don't do this IRL guys!" 

The reason I don't explicitly state there's spoilers is because about five minutes into the film I'd already guessed the whole plot. This is seriously cookie-cutter type storytelling that hasn't really tried to try anything new. The "twist" - I use that term loosely - is predictable and thrown in your face at every possible moment then given a big reveal at the end like a five year old couldn't have seen it coming a mile off.  

Our protagonist, Bianca, is much like Allison from The Breakfast Club. But without the compulsive lying. She finds out from her jock neighbour (can you guess what happens between them yet?) Wes that she is a DUFF - a Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Which makes you wonder, really, what they see in each other. He is an emotionally redundant airhead and she is an emotionally redundant misery. In their bonding scene at the mall I particularly liked the personality transplant the writers randomly gave Bianca, who doesn't like dancing, attention or being outgoing in any way who then suddenly becomes aggressively confident, dry humping a mannequin and being totally inappropriate in front of her neighbour and not-quite-friend Wes. Also interesting is Wes' knowledge of thongs and bras. Find me a high school aged boy who wouldn't crawl out of an underwear section cringing for his life and begging for mercy and I'll find you an original character in this film. It's impossible. 

All the characters are stereotypical, barely believable, barely likeable, shallow and lacklustre. Her mother is a robot. Her two fickle friends are irritating beyond belief with their "cool girl" personas. Why the hell are the three of them friends when she is a geeky recluse that likes horror films, her friend likes Buddhism and fashion, and her other friend is a footballing hacker? Never mind that the three of them barely even spend time together and the one night her two friends cancel their dates she bails on them to have sex with her new boyfriend, what interests do they share to bond them together? 

The last line about how it's not about getting the guy but rejecting labels is stupid when the whole plot of the film is about the girl getting the guy. With an uplifting message for teenagers as a moral to keep the film from feeling too shallow. The plot unfolds exactly the way you expect it to. It is funny in places, but not to raise more than a chuckle. No one in the cinema was hysterical with laughter or anything. It was a reasonably humorous, entertaining film that teenagers might enjoy but will probably think is a bit too stupid for them. It underestimates the intelligence of its intended audience. Or anyone at all, really.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

How Facebook Has Ruined The University Experience

Back in the day people regarded university as a life-changing experience where the person would never be the same again, make forever friends and learn many life lessons along the way. 

I would argue that nowadays things have changed, and not for the better.

When most people move to university, they already have an established group of friends that they've probably had for years. By the time you're eighteen you will all have the same kind of sense of humour, tonnes of shared memories, and the same kind of interests and hobbies. As a teenager groups of friends mould together and shape each other in ways that adult friends don't. Because everyone is trying to find their identity, bits and pieces from the people you're close to all merge together in each person. 

In university some people might go and have the goal of making a whole new group of friends, either to replace or add to the ones they already have. Some people might just want to make friends so they don't spend their three years alone. Some people go without having a solid group of friends and wanting to find some like they perceive everyone else to have.

However I think the popularity of Facebook and the commonality of unlimited texts and huge amounts of minutes on mobile phones makes it harder than ever to do this. If you're one of those people who went/is going to university to make a group of new friends then don't feel bad if you end up either not making any or just a few that you'll actually speak to after graduation. More than likely these people will be some of your house mates. Some of the people you'll end up disliking the most will be some of your house mates. But most people are still heavily in contact with their friends because it's so easy to, and they are unwilling to let these people go. Understandably.

These years-old friends know and like you for who you really are, and to keep up with each other's lives you just need to log in to Facebook, message about what's going on, and get a reply almost instantly. If you wanted to, you could literally talk all day to your friend at home through texts, calls, and Facebook. There's not really many excuses to not talk to your friends from home. And while your head and heart are at home you can't really put yourself fully to the challenge of making new friends and memories. Why would you want to put the effort in to make new friends when your old and established friends are just a click away?

Another way Facebook has ruined the university experience is through comparing yourself to others too much. There is no privacy anymore. While you're feeling down and homesick and like you're alone in the world, binge watching some TV show by yourself, and you log into Facebook, all you see is the best of everyone else's lives. No one posts their homesickness or their bad days. It's all partying, going out for food, having a great time, making memories... All the things you want to be doing all the time. By comparing yourself to the edited online versions of other people you're only doing yourself a disservice. Real life is not like Facebook life. 

So why don't we all try putting down our phones for a while, making an effort with other people who are probably feeling exactly the same as us, and stop judging ourselves and our lives compared to the best parts of others'.