East Winds Film Festival – Post Mortem

Now that the East Winds film festival is over for another year, it’s time to reflect over all the hard work, organisation and perseverance put in by everyone involved. Before embarking on this module, I had little to no knowledge about how much work and involvement went into organising a film festival and the amount of staff it would take to get it publicised to be successful. It’s true to say that I’ve learnt so much over the duration of the module that I believe will benefit my in my forthcoming professional career.

For our module, Transcultural Distribution, we were required as a cohort to gain knowledge and understanding of how films are distributed and exhibited in relation to a Film Festival structure. We looked at how culturally and economically the film festival impacts how films are distributed and exhibited. Then ultimately use the film festival as a professional platform to exhibit our knowledge and skills to reach out to local audiences and international audiences too. Firstly it’s important to note that the East Winds Film Festival is an already established company and event. This means that we had to comply with what has already been before, holding the festival at Coventry University and exhibiting films from an East Asian background. The East Winds film festival is currently the only major film festival of it’s kind outside the capital of London and the first of it’s kind in the midlands. This is important to the ethos of the festival. Marijke de Valck wrote:

‘When one looks at the international film festival circuit from a spatial point of view, its complexity can be understood as an interrelation of the local with the global; the city with the nation; and the place of the event with the space of the media. From a temporal perspective the festivals revolve around both current affairs (programming as a politics of participation), the latest discoveries, news value, and historicity, as the oldest festivals continue to rely on their glorious pasts and a city’s history to maintain nodal positions on the circuit.’ (2007:215)

The festivals unique selling point as there is no other event that can bring what this festival promises to. As the city of Coventry is currently bidding for the City of Culture award, I think it’s important that festivals like East Winds brings something culturally alternative to the city along with the culture and history that Coventry has to offer. Also with the influx of student’s from such diverse backgrounds I think it’s significantly relevant to showcase art forms from an array of backgrounds and not solely British culture. Because the festival was already established, it has already received interest Worldwide from industry professionals this meant that we had to strive to get the festival as much attention as possible. The aim is to reach as many people through our marketing strategy online and in the community to make the festival as busy as possible. It’s said that:

‘Festivals have a number of advantages[…] in that festivals are events. And we are currently living in an event-driven culture […]Because they are events (if not spectacles, in the Debordian sense), festivals have a greater promotional budget to attract audiences’ (2009:24)

One would have hoped that if there was a low turn out overall, our opening night with typical film festival discourses such as; a red carpet, photographers, interviews and entertainment would draw in passers by looking for that ‘event-driven culture’.

To have been given the opportunity to work for and curate such a prestigious festival felt like an honour, but also a challenge. To get the festival marketed and promoted in time meant that we had to work to strict deadlines and sometimes think on our feet. The professional experience that we all gained whilst working on the festival is incredibly valuable as this is how it’s done in industry. We were all divided into teams with a different focus. As I come from a production background, it felt natural for me to apply for the role of production manager as I felt this could benefit the team to apply skills I’ve already gained. What I personally wanted to get out of this festival was experience leading a team, as someone who has previously worked alone and can sometimes find social situations intimidating, I wanted to push myself mentally and physically to not only manage myself but a team as well. I think leadership skills are invaluable when approaching a career in multiple disciplines and throughout the module I’ve broadened my knowledge both socially and technically. As aforementioned, I applied for, and received, the role of production manager and I knew how much of an important component the production would be to the overall marketing strategy for the festival. As a production team, we were in charge of coordinating the set-up of all equipment, organising the transport to locations and using the equipment and software to a professional standard. With a production role its imperative to have good time keeping and punctuality as without the production crew nothing can be captured and other people such as presenters rely on our presence. As production is an important component to the overall marketing of the festival, it’s important to be aware of our audience, keep all aesthetics consistent to comply with said marketing strategy. For instance, once we decided to go for the concept of Chinese ink paintings for the ident, it’s important to continue with that concept, which the marketing team did with the posters and flyers for the festival. As a production team we were in charge of operating all cameras for videography, all the microphones and sound recording equipment, using lighting effectively and editing all work to a high standard. I would have to say that my team were incredibly efficient with time management and presence, collecting equipment on time and being ready and set up to record on cue. All equipment was booked in advance to ensure that all other departments could meet their deadlines. Its imperative that all departments meet their deadlines so the preparation could run smoothly, with so many departments, briefs and deadlines if one team falls behind it means the whole festival can fall behind. I think that was one of my biggest concerns, because I’m not particularly good at allowing myself to rely on other people but as I discovered, the production team were reliable, consistent and did everything expected. I think perhaps that’s my biggest learning curve from the festival, putting trust in others professionally.

I think the innovative way that we have had a thoroughly professional and practical module embedded within in our course is so contemporary in such a academic context, that it allows us to expand our knowledge theoretically as well as broadening our skills professionally. I’ve always been very critical of my self and my work but over the duration of the festival I’ve learnt not to take it so personally and to see the bigger picture. I’ve learnt so many organisational and planning skills that are really going to benefit me in so many directions. The biggest achievement for me was to approachable and help members of my team recognise the confidence in themselves and seeing our progress as a team and as individuals has been so very rewarding. Having being able to rely on my production team when I was taken in bad health was a huge learning curve for me. Ching Hui especially deserves credit for being such a great support to the team and challenging herself as well as all of us to do the best job that we possibly can. I look forward to the future and using all the transferable skills I’ve gathered throughout this module and working alongside of a team in the future. I hope that the skills and techniques I’ve taught other people throughout this module will benefit me socially and help me in my aim towards becoming a teacher.

Peranson, M. (2009). First You Get the Power, Then You Get the Money: Two Models of Film Festivals. On Film Festivals. London: Wallflower.

Valck, D. M. (2007). Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia. Amsterdam University Press.


East Winds Film Festival – Live!

It’s the week of the festival and everyone if frantically preparing for the big opening. As planned, I used the time to gather ‘filler footage’ of the set up and coordination of the festival. I used the quiet time to acquire different creative shots that can be used in the marketing materials for future East Winds events. As I took the time to capture all the detailed decorations for the festival, my team worked on capturing a time-lapse shot of people attending the first viewing. The energy was so electric for the build up of opening night, we we’re all excited for the guests to arrive and for our virtual audience to tune-in with us through the live stream.

Throughout the opening ceremony I was filming ‘behind the scenes’, capturing all the photographers as they we’re taking photos on the red carpet, all the videographers and the DJ. As the night progressed, Fengu Zhai and I decided to take the opportunity to record some interviews with people who had attended the event to find out their thoughts and the impact the festival has on the University, the wider community and us as a cohort. We filmed interviews with a diverse set of people from the module moderator, festival directors, Coventry locals and other staff and students from the university. It was great that we got to have the opportunity to conduct these interviews as it gave us an insight as to how valuable the film festival is in bringing more culture to coventry but also allowing us to partake in such an outward facing event.

On the Wednesday Evening we we’re fortunate enough to have Latkamon Pinrojkirati (pim), join us for a Q&A after the screening of her film ‘School Tales’ (2017), for the evening I was in charge of co-ordinating the set up and filming of the Q&A. I had set up three cameras along with my team to capture one shot of Pim and her interpreter, a camera to capture the the audience as they ask the questions and one final camera set up at the back of the cinema to get a wide shot of the whole audience and Pim. Although I’m used to filming in these kinds of situations, I found the lighting very dark to focus on the individual asking the questions. Due to this I had to manually control the focus on the camera which meant that it was very tight to get the shot in between the transition of question and answer. In retrospect I would have set up two audience facing cameras, one on each side of the cinema so if the timing was too tight for me then I would have had back up footage. Despite this I’m very happy with the overall ascetic captured over the course of the week and so grateful to have taken part in the East Winds Film Festival.

East Winds Film Festival – Week Ten

This week is all about the preparation for the event, planning what production equipment that will be needed and positioning. I went over to square one to take another look at the layout of the space we have to use but because nothing is set up yet it’s not possible to do a plan of what shots to take where. Because of the amount of preparation that will need doing to set the space up next week I think it’s best to just be on location all day to capture the behind the scenes set up of the festival. This way I will familiar with the space and will have time to get filler footage of the decorations, the set up and then finally the start of the festival. This week is pretty quiet production wise but I know it’s all going to be really busy and demanding next week. We’re almost there!

A Generation of Anxiety, Part II

“The fear factor has certainly grown, as indicated by the growth in locked car and house doors and security systems, the popularity of gated or secure communities for all age and income groups, and the increasing surveillance of public space…not to mention the unending reports of danger emitted by the mass media” (Ellin, 1997, 26).

-A selection of pictures taken from our photography project in Paris, all these photos were taken by me and will be featured in our forthcoming exhibition at Coventry University.

Visual Archive: Happy Objects

‘The future has got me worried, such awful thoughts.
My head is a carousel of pictures.
The spinning never stops’-Bright Eyes (2002)

In a society where connotations of happiness are explicitly imposed on us through various forms of culture and media, is the pressure on us to constantly be ‘happy’ in fact doing more damage than good? Ahmed(2010:29) argues that ‘The very expectation of happiness gives us a specific image of the future. This is why happiness provides the emotional setting for disappointment’. Happiness although itself is not a commodity, notions of happiness are used to sell pretty much anything, implying that happiness can be achieved buy buying products that have been endorsed by happiness. It’s undeniable that brands and companies worldwide capitalise on notions of happiness with one of the most popular being Mcdonalds, ‘The Happy Meal’. This is so problematic to many vulnerable people, if we believe that consumer culture is the route to happiness, as dictated by the media, then it implies that happiness is out of our control. Retail therapy is a term that nearly everyone in the western world is familiar with, consuming with the intent to improve the mood of the buyer. In an article written by A. Selin Atalay and Margaret G. Meloy (2011) it states that:

Self-regulation theory suggests that bad moods cause individuals to fail at self-regulation (Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). Similarly, according to Tice, Bratslavsky, and Baumeister (2001), emotional distress (e.g., anger, fear, loneliness) may shift priorities such that the individual will focus on shorter-term goals to escape the distressing situation, including engaging in more impulsive behaviors’. (2011:3)

As a long term suffer from depression and anxiety, I among many, have engaged in activities that would lead to a quick fix and elevate my mood. Abeit drugs, fitness, shopping, coffee, food or alcohol, engaging in consumer practices can be incredibly dangerous to individuals with depression and anxiety as they can become dependent and use these vices as an emotional crutch to lean on and keep them going without addressing the cause of their emotional distress.

The utopic vision of a ‘good life’ surrounds us on a daily basis and in a forever changing world anxieties towards uncertainty is growing and putting more and more pressure on us. We want to be successful, have a career, have a house, enjoy family life and holidays, travel the world and have good health. In reality it’s almost impossible to obtain all these expectations and wants that society puts upon us, but we also put upon ourselves.

In our neoliberal society pressure is put on us to better ourselves and this is explicit in the growing industry of ‘self-help’ literature:

‘Neoliberalism wants us to be able to produce as efficiently as possible, to be as well as possible in order to produce sustainable profit. But we have to do that on our own. Self-care as an idea is important, powerful and healing. However, it’s starting to seem like this idea that we have to be responsible over our own wellbeing can be a trap to ensure that we’ll continue to provide labour and be responsible over our ability to do so.’(2016)

I’ve had to seek professional help to maintain my self care and as a very personal person and this growing pressure to be happy or to give the perception that I’m happy leads me to feel like I’m engaging in a daily performance. On a day-to-day basis my life is a stage, I do my very best to keep all emotional reactions to myself to prevent signs of weakness. Despite my protective nature over myself, I cannot help but feel like this is reinforcing the good life narrative to those around me. Throughout working on this module, using my subjectivity to engage with theoretical concepts has been very empowering. When I’m so private in my ‘real’ life, yet so open and critical in my ‘virtual’ life, I hope that using my critical voice to critique the ‘good life’ narrative along with my subjectivity in relation to this can help raise awareness of mental health in an academic context.

Ahmed, S. (2010) The Promise of Happiness London: Duke University Press

Atalay, A. and Meloy, M. (2011). Retail therapy: A strategic effort to improve mood. Psychology and Marketing, 28(6), pp.638-659.

Kuang, R. (2017). The Neoliberal Trap of the Self-Care Rhetoric. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuang/the-neoliberal-trap-of-th_b_9751594.html [Accessed 9 May 2017].



Visual Archive: Instability of Power

“The old power of death that symbolized sovereign power was now carefully supplanted by the administration of bodies and the calculated management of life.” Foucault (1980:139)

In the neoliberal society certain expectations are placed upon us, self-regulation and self power has gained greater importance in our society due to social and governmental monitoring. Foucault’s (1975) concept of The Panopticon can be seen inhernantly as similar to the prisoners being watched in cylindrical jail setting, being watched by social and governmental spectators puts pressure on us to monitor and better ourselves. Rose (1996:160) writes:

‘the self-steering capacities of individuals are now construed as vital resources for achieving private profit, public tranquillity, and social progress, and interventions in these areas have also come to be guided by the regulatory norm of the autonomous, responsible subject, obliged to make its life meaningful through acts of choice. Attempts to manage the enterprise to ensure productivity, competitiveness, and innovation.’

 Along with the neoliberal institution of self-help and self-care literature, an influx of new technologies have been emerging to initiate the collection of data to self regulate and self control our behaviours. We now have apps for smart phones that monitor calorie intake, pregnancy progression and sleep monitors. As I’ve always been overweight, social pressures for me to control my weight and boost my fitness have been growing over time. To try and tackle this issue I decided to purchase a new technology to aid me on this self-regulative journey. A ‘fitbit’ is a device that you wear on your wrist as a watch, the device also monitors how many steps you take, how many stairs you climb, how many miles you’ve walked, how many hours you sleep and how many times your heart beats. On the surface the device seems perfectly innocent in its benefits to health, yet it does raise questions about the collection of sensitive data. I used to wear my fitbit everyday to almost everywhere I went. The map feature on the app that is used in conjunction with the device monitors your everyday movements and how long you spend in one particular place. This directly goes back to the governmental powers at play as this constant collection of sensitive data has to be stored somewhere… Who has access to this information? We are living in a big brother society where all of our moves are being monitored. The introduction of the self-scanning machines for EU passports using eye recognition means they now have a record of when we leave and return to a country. Similarly social media’s increase in facial recognition technology, particularly Facebook and Snapchat it seems almost impossible to escape the feeling of being watched and monitored. Even if you don’t engage in social media practices, facial recognition software is installed into iphones that can identify people in your photographs and compile these photographs into files of the individuals within them. Facial recognition technology is explained in an article by Murray(2016):

capture a person’s facial signature, an algorithm must first encode their facial features using a method called HOG (Histogram of Oriented Gradients) which outputs a simplified image that is basically a flattened-and-centered set of the subject’s primary facial features. That output is then passed through a neural network that knows which 128 measurements to make and saves them.

With our face captured, all the system has to do to identify someone is compare the measurements to those of all the facial measurements captured for other people and figure out which person’s measurements are the closest to find a match.’

It seems almost impossible now to engage with any form of technology without being monitored, Google allegedly listens to your conversations in order to improve tailored advert placement. Do we accept these conditions when using these companies or products or should the use of data collection be more explicitly outlined before use? No one hardly ever reads the terms and conditions of a product before using or engaging with it. Is it the public’s responsibility to understand these conditions or the company’s responsibility to make these more accessible and understandable? Despite these questions public monitoring is becoming more and more widespread and there is nothing we can do about it.

Foucault, M. (1975). Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of the Prison. trans by. Sheridan, A. New York: Vintage Books

Murray, C. (2017). Is Snap Inc. Building a Wearable Face Recognition Device for the NSA?. [online] Hacker Noon. Available at: https://hackernoon.com/is-snap-inc-building-a-wearable-face-recognition-device-for-the-nsa-94bc12aef06e [Accessed 9 May 2017].

Rose, N. (1996) Inventing our selves: psychology, power and personhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Visual Archive: Liquid Modernity

In the modern world there is much to be fearful of, changing technologies, the job market, war, politics and crime. Our bodies are programmed to respond to fear with ‘fight or flight’ mode, typically life endangering, perhaps an encounter with a saber-toothed tiger. But in the world we now live in we are constantly being bombarded with what Brian Massumi describes as ‘low-grade fears’(3). Is it possible that the accumulation and bombardment of ‘low-grade-fears’ has led to what has been dubbed ‘age of anxiety’.

Fear is all around us and is a concept that dictates many of or beliefs and ideologies. Fear mongering is one of the most powerful methods of control that exists. Fascism explicitly adopts the idea of ‘them and us’ using the concept of the other to install fear into mass population in order to offer a solution to empower the political party. This can be seen in cases such like Hitler’s Nazi party and mass genocide upon the Jews, the homosexual and people with disabilities. What’s quite shocking is the fact that we now live in the 21st century, surely by now we should have learnt from our previous mistakes and understand that the condemnation of an entire race or community is completely damaging, horrific and inhumane. In Europe and the West the political sphere is changing and far right political parties are still adopting this fear ideology. Hubbard in an article, ‘Fear and loathing at the multiplex: everyday anxiety in the post-industrial city’ summarises Sibley’s (1995) notes:

‘Powerful social groups seek to purify ‘their’ streets, making distinctions between Self and Other in the process. Indeed, this ‘exclusionary urge’ has been vividly demonstrated in the way that public urban spaces, often regarded as democratic and open, have become increasingly regulated so that groups and individuals whose lifestyles or appearance is viewed as potentially threatening have had their access to the city severely curtailed. As such, ‘Other’ populations (including the homeless, rowdy teenagers, asylum seekers, beggars, street prostitutes, the mentally ill and so on)’ (2003:61)

Today political party leaders such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and even Nigel Farrage play on the fear of others to advance themselves in the political sphere. Donald Trump has been successful in his endeavour to ‘Make America great again’, using this rhetoric to imply that he has all the answers to take back the control of the country and concur terrorist organisations and put the people of his country as the main concern. There is one significant problem with this rhetoric, Trump claims to bring back economic growth to America by reintroducing more industrial jobs, this is so problematic due to the changing technologies of the world, physical industrial jobs just don’t exist in such huge quantities anymore due to the worldwide introduction of machines. The problem we have here is that, some far right thinkers are programmed to believe that immigrants or ‘the other’ are here to ‘steal’ jobs from nationals, thus striking more fear into the mass population. In reality people who come to western countries in search of a better life are more likely to take on jobs that are considered dissatisfactory to the majority of the population, for low wages and long hours. Political leaders like Trump place too much blame on the other when the issues are much more economic and in a globalized world this is sincerely problematic. This is particularly damaging to the identities of those that are being cast as the Other, in this case it would be important to talk about Muslims. With the fall of Catholicism, Islam is slowly becoming one of the biggest religion based communities in the world. Trump’s persistent demonization of Muslims because of small terrorist groups like ISIS and with executive actions like the Muslim travel ban is really problematic due to the mass media attention he receives. To quote Baumann, living in an age of uncertainty, ‘whatever happens in one place has a bearing on how people in all other places live, hope or expect to live.’ (2007:6).

One would hope that in more economically developed countries we would use this to help people in need, but with the Syrian refugee crisis it’s shocking and gut wrenching to know that services and privileges we have aren’t being shared out to people who need it most due to fear. In such a time of uncertainty we can only hope for progressive politics and acceptance which will overcome the fear of the unknown.

Bauman, Z. (2007) Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty Cambridge: Polity Press

Hubbard, P. (2003) ‘Fear and loathing at the multiplex: everyday anxiety in the post-industrial city’. Capital & Class 27 (2)

Massumi, B. (ed.) (1993) The Politics of Everyday Fear, (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis).

May, R. (1950) The Meaning of Anxiety, (The Ronald Press Company: New York).

Visual Archive: Cruel Optimism

‘How grateful I was, then, to be part of the mystery,                                                              To love and to be loved,                                                                                                Let’s just hope that is enough’- Bright Eyes (2002)

Relationships are difficult at the best of times and as the timeless saying goes, ‘Love hurts’. I’m a strong believer that everyone deserves the opportunity to experience love and to be loved in return regardless of their disposition. Yet, ‘the good life’ narrative isn’t as wildly accepting. In ‘the good life’ discourses around love are limited to certain constraints, monogamy and heterosexuality in particular. Yet still in the 21st century it’s still considered strange for a woman to ask a man out on a date. I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship where gender stereotypes are much less ridged. Yet we still adhere to societies relational institution of monogamy. In an article by Jackson and Scott they quote Comer:

‘. . . monogamy has come to be the definition of love, the yardstick by which we measure the rest of our emotions . . . Like so much butter, romantic love must be spread thickly on one slice of bread; to spread it over several is too spread it ‘thinly’. (1974: 219)’ (2004:152)

Although many continue to accept monogamy as a traditional form of love, it’s important to note that this simply isn’t the only or the ‘correct’ way to experience love as an emotion. Love is such a subjective and personal thing that it’s ignorant to believe that monogamy is right for everyone:

‘non-monogamy in our version is not a free for all in which everyone does just as they please, but entails negotiation over ground rules and boundaries acceptable to all parties. We continue to feel that it is worth retaining our commitment to non-monogamy and working to make it possible rather than allowing our lives and the lives of others to be circumscribed by our most negative emotions.’ (2004:153)

The concept of non-monogamy can still be viewed very negatively and I cannot think of anyone I know personally who chooses to live their life this way, not publicly anyway. The way in which Jackson and Scott explain that having these boundaries prevents the influx of such emotions of jealousy and insecurity on the surface seems perfectly viable but what happens when that just isn’t enough for one party. Having a personality disorder means that I get jealous and paranoid even when realistically there isn’t such need for emotion:

‘in an established relationship when somebody new comes on the scene is potentially more likely to provoke insecurity. However, the threat is far greater here in an ostensibly monogamous relationship than in a non-monogamous relationship; in the former situation there is a danger of being exchanged for a new model'(2004:153)

Although my emotional reaction is explicitly more correlated to the fear of abandonment than the threat of another, when stress is induced or in the mist of an anxiety attack almost anything or even anyone can feel like a threat, particularly with the capitalisation of the sex industry:

‘The commodification of sex and sexuality – their penetration into the very heart of the capitalist engine – made sexuality into an attribute and experience increasingly detached from reproduction, marriage, long-lasting bonds, and even emotionality.’ Illouz(2012:45)

I want to make it clear hear that this is so much more to do with my lack of self esteem than it is to do with mistrust. Due to my personal subjectivity I personally cannot see how non-monogamy would work, to reiterate the butter analogy used earlier, I’d rather have one juicy piece of toast than many dry pieces.

Berlant explains that “Cruel Optimism is the condition of maintaining an attachment to a significantly problematic object.” (20011:24) This is so apparent when looking at ‘the good life’ narrative, we want to be loved, we want a committed, exclusive relationship without the fears and anxieties that comes with it. It’s common knowledge that a breakdown in relationships can be the most difficult time in ones life and with relationships being so much more fluid it’s almost inevitable to experience heartache of one form or another. Yet we still strive for love and still search for ‘the one’ highlighting such cruel optimisms. To finish with Berlant – “the ordinariness of suffering, the violence of normativity.. suspend questions about the cruelty of the now”(2011:28).

Berlant, L. (2011) Cruel Optimism. USA: Duke University Press

Jackson, S and Scott, S. (2004) ‘The Personal Is Still Political: Heterosexuality, Feminism and Monogamy’ Feminism & Psychology 14 (1), 151-157

Illouz, E. (2012) Why Love Hurts Cambridge: Polity Press

East Winds Film Festival – Week Seven to Nine

We’ve all been on study leave for the past few weeks so there hasn’t been much progression production wise as most of the cohort has been out the country so it’s been great to use the time to look over what we have done so far. I began editing together some of the footage captured from The Mocking Bird and I began to synchronise the audio files to the visual files so the vocals matched up. (I’m a perfectionist when it comes to dubbing and I can’t stand it being out of sync so a lot of time was spent on this.) This week back at uni I’ve been off due to some health concerns but my team managed to edit together the magazine show in such a quick turn around. I watched the finished edit of the magazine show before it was sent to the Festival directors and I was so proud of how it looked. The editing was wonderful and my team had done a fantastic job, I wish that I had been around to help out but despite my absence they created a fantastic piece of work. It’s been great to work along side such a talented group of individuals and also to watch our progress in helping each other learn new skills. I think confidence wise we’ve all come on along way and it’s great to experience that journey as a team. As it gets closer to the festival I’m so excited to work with my team on the capture of the big event.

Visual Archive: Mediated Intimacies

Since the dawn of social media, things which were once considered incredibly private and intimate are now on show for the whole world to see on multiple different platforms. Every time I visit the hospital, Facebook recognises where I am and asks me to ‘Check-in” to inform my friends. As I scroll through my news feed I’m updated on what people had for dinner, what medication they’re on and sometimes even what colour underwear they’re wearing. This instant access to information practically anywhere in the world is all made capable by a small device in our pockets. Are we ever really alone anymore? I’ve noticed recently that I’ve altered my behaviour for fear that someone might record me and put me on the internet – no more skinny dipping in the sea! Being able to access such intimate moments online, sometime filmed without the subjects permission can be really confusing when it comes to what is public and what is private. Schwarz wrote that ‘Intimacy is usually an emotional effect of discrimination in access to ‘information […]and often strengthened by spatial seclusion’ (2011:75) But if intimate moments are now shared with a wider audience does that devalue how intimate the moment is? Schwarz goes on to summarise Simmel:

‘Secrecy is an act of producing value: since certain information is denied to the many, it turns into a valuable possession which may be given to others. The private/secret not only creates barriers between people, but also helps to bring such barriers down through the technique of confession‘

Technology is completely changing the way we understand social behaviours and the introduction of instant messaging has another layer to how we interact – ‘IM turns the conversation with the romantic partner into a frontstage performance and introduces a backstage event – the conversation with the best friend. Curiously enough, both take place simultaneously, thus redefining intimacy.’(2011:75). Conversations using instant messaging is far from private and as someone who suffers from social anxiety and paranoia, I always feel like I’m ‘on guard’ when engaging in such a practice. Typically groups of friends engage in the exchange of ‘screen-captures’ of instant messaging either with a potential partner or possibly with a friend. Shwarz goes on to elaborate on this:

‘They share the chat-protocols with each other in real time. Obviously, ‘kiss and tell’ is nothing new. But here the peers are given objective evidence, direct access to […] the intimate conversation as an objectified experience, often in real time. Since evidence is distributed in real time, the ‘kissing event’ […] and the ‘telling event’ […] can no longer be distinguished: they collapse into a single event, in which a boy sends protocol extracts to his friend while simultaneously chatting with the girl. The girls, being unaware of the real-time sharing, may have experienced the conversations as intimate ones, whereas for the boys intimacy was qualified, turning into a quasiperformance: while they indeed kept parts of the conversations private, they still shared highlights with each other in real time (thus informationally privileging the bond between them over bonds with girls).’ (2011:77)

I for one am guilty of this practice, in the early stages of my relationship with my partner, I would share things that he would say to me with my girlfriends. As our relationship has progressed his thoughts and opinions are much more valuable to me and I couldn’t even comprehend sharing our conversations with someone else. I cannot measure whether or not this is typical of flourishing relationships but it would certainly be interesting to find out if these intimacy’s become more respected as a relationship progresses.

It seems apparent that mass sharing of these intimacies online only tends to reinforce the idea’s on ‘the good life’. Celebrities sharing pictures of themselves drinking champagne in the bath, magical and wondrous wedding proposals, live streams of wedding receptions. We’re surrounded by media that in reality we’re never going to be able to match up with or achieve -‘Keeping up with the Joneses’. If we are constantly measuring ourselves against these standards that society sets then how can we ever be ‘happy’. I would define myself as the epitome of a kill-joy, Ahmed(2010):

‘So, yes, let’s take the figure of the feminist killjoy seriously. Does the feminist kill other people’s joy by pointing out moments of sexism? Or does she expose the bad feelings that get hidden, displaced, or negated under public signs of joy? Does bad feeling enter the room when somebody expresses anger about things, or could anger be the moment when the bad feelings that circulate through objects get brought to the surface in a certain way?’

Yes, I probably would fit into the bracket of the ‘feminist killjoy’, but there are so many more concepts that the joy needs kicked right out of and stomped all over the floor. Capitalism, Neolibralism, Racism, any form of ‘-ism’. But is it anymore ‘killing-the-joy’ than challenging the status quo? Does that make me a heretic? A rebel? Insubordinate? All these words sound so negative yet I can’t help but think that the world would be much more progressive if more people thought the same. It could be possibly my extended route through education of media but critical thinking is now so second nature to me that I do not think I will be ever blinded into accepting and living ‘the good life’ narrative. Yet, despite my opinions and thoughts, I’m sure that out there, someone who views my ‘mediated intimacies’ online, could believe that I am already in fact living ‘a good life’. Subjectivity in this debate is always going to be so important because although by western standards I may not be living ‘a good life’ or rejecting the constraints of ‘a good life’, to others I’m sure I must seem very fortunate to have my life… (There goes the kill joy again).

Ahmed, S. (2010). Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects). The Barnard Center for Research on Women.

Schwarz, O. (2011) ‘Who moved my conversation? Instant messaging, intertextuality and new regimes of intimacy and truth’ Media, Culture & Society. 33 (1), 71-87