Image for post
Image for post

This one often comes up when a friend and I are having deeply philosophical conversations, usually prompted by those sobering moments of anxiety and isolation — reminders that we are adults now, and are supposed to be having our lives together: when do we become aware of the fact that we are no longer children? Coming-of-age is a deeply personal experience, not only because it sometimes involves something harrowing that upends our worldview, but because it gives us a taste of the temper of the times, of the complicated, complicated years ahead.

I used to think that it happened in an instant. Something shattered you open, and you were never the same again. I learned, instead, that it catches up to you. Coming-of-age is hindsight, in truth. By the time you realize it’s happening, you’ve already been irrevocably changed. This was a lesson I was learning, although I didn’t know it at the time. …

Image for post
Image for post

I began to realize, at a very young age, that I was setting myself up for a colossal, lifelong complication: I, a little girl of color, liked whiling afternoons away listening to Chopin and other piano virtuosos; I lost myself in classic cinema and devoured vintage musicals; I was so intoxicated with fine art that I was gifted a massive tome on Monet’s life and career for my eleventh birthday. I liked art, in short, be it weird or venerated, obscure or apotheosized.

I was, by no means, an exception. Countless other girls like me have appreciated and worshipped pop culture and artistic prodigies — but this, I wouldn’t know for a long time. I felt insulated, isolated with the belief of what was being told to me: namely, that I was the odd one out, because I did not listen to what “girls like me“ were expected to be into, such as mainstream music, books that barely scratched the surface of our immeasurable potential, and films and shows that thrived on backhanded stereotypes about people of color. …

Image for post
Image for post

When, in late 2018 and early 2019, Netflix stated that it was raising the prices for its Canadian and American subscribers, the reactions were swift and impassioned, with many vowing to delete their accounts and look for better alternatives. Soon after, Hulu declared that it was scaling down the price for its basic subscription plan, in a transparent reaction to the indignation surrounding their perpetual competitors.

These news were not met with the usual eye-rolling and carrying on: 2019 comes with a long announced change in the streaming landscape, a change that is by turns auspicious or inauspicious, depending on who you ask. Disney and WarnerMedia have announced that they are launching their own service later in the year; BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have been slowly pulling their most prominent shows from some versions of Netflix (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who), and while most have migrated to Amazon Prime Video, it’s only a matter of time before they pull those too, and converge into their own platform. …

Image for post
Image for post

Rock music has always been a strange place for women. They are at once venerated muses of hardened musicians and the subject of critical contempt. Even when they have more than stood their ground — Heart, Joan Jett, Janis Joplin, Shirley Manson, Kim Deal, Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, PJ Harvey, Skin are only a drop in the ocean of prominent examples — , those vixens are too often considered mavericks, instead of legitimate players, right up there with the behemoths of the genre.

I grew up listening to powerful women sing about love, death and everyday life, wondering why they weren’t being given the same credit as their male counterparts. But above all, I grew apprehensive that eventually, those legendary women would be considered obsolete, and that the newer artists who walked in their steps would not be granted the same occasion as the new male-fronted bands ascending to glorious heights in the early 2000s. …

Image for post
Image for post

Underneath my stony exterior (I have, alas, been afflicted with Resting Bitchface Syndrome from birth), I’ve always been a nice girl. I don’t like conflict for the sake of conflict, don’t say anything if I know it won’t be friendly, don’t treat others the way I wouldn’t want to be treated.

But I am also well aware that this niceness is not incidental. Girls are taught, either explicitly or in thinly veiled words, that being nice is tantamount to being holy. It is instilled in us, so early and so effectively, that we flex muscles we’ll end up using all our lives: the turning of the other cheek, the welcoming of blame that should never have been ours from the start, the grinning and the bearing in excruciating situations, the shouldering of others’ pain in addition to our own. …

Image for post
Image for post

Carol (2015) and Disobedience (2017) are often favorably compared, and it is not hard to see why: both films, based on acclaimed books written by women (The Price of Salt (1952) by Patricia Highsmith, and Disobedience (2006) by Naomi Alderman), depict seemingly doomed love affairs between women in difficult social circumstances. Both came out around the same time, and both offer bittersweet, rather than outright bleak conclusions.

In a time when representation is finally, slowly getting its due, it is not only satisfying, but factually important that more films give empathetic, respectful platforms to voices and stories the world does not often get to see: and these films do just that. …

Image for post
Image for post

Although the 2018 re-imagining of The Haunting of Hill House is a ghost story, one of the major underlying themes is that of mental illness. It is the level-headed way some of the Crain family members explain away the supernatural events they endured decades ago, and it is the justification for most of their current setbacks.

This debate splits the Crain family in the middle, with half of them refusing to consider any reasoning that isn’t concrete and based in provable facts, while the other half focuses solely on the many ghosts that have haunted them and ruined their childhoods.

And while the show, in its own way, tries to navigate between one and the other, I think that the answer lies squarely in the middle, depending on how metaphorical one is willing to get. In other words: looking at the Crains’ individual arc through these dual frames of reference doesn’t make the story more unfocused — on the contrary. …

Image for post
Image for post

Warning: spoilers, spoilers abound.

As a child, I was drawn to mysteries, devouring Christopher Pike, the Nancy Drew series, and a bit too much Mary Higgins Clark. As my attention got lured to fantasy and science fiction, I ended up finding the thriller genre formulaic, discarding it completely in favor of straight horror and other forms of heart-racing entertainment.

Almost by accident, my affair with thrillers picked up again a few years ago, when I listened to a friend’s suggestion and singled out Gone Girl, knowing absolutely nothing about it except that there was an insane twist that would either awe me, or enrage me to the highest extent (the latter happened, incidentally. …

Image for post
Image for post

The greatest ally to those in denial of pain and its ensuing ugliness is composure. No one wants to see the raw and thrashing hideousness of a meltdown or a panic attack. It unsettles, and it is unseemly. Even those self-deprecating half-jokes (I want to die), causally thrown in the middle of less serious conversations are met with the glance-shifting, the feet-shuffling, the awkward-chuckling. These instances echo what we emotionally unstable people tell ourselves anyway: that nobody wants the burden of having to handle or confront our issues.

Composure is either learned or unintentional. The latter case is a byproduct of either numbness (which ensues after years of trying, and failing, to manage inner turmoil), or a naturally standoffish demeanor (commonly referred to as the Resting Bitchface Syndrome) which aptly conceals the restless inner goings-on. …

Image for post
Image for post

I used to take pride in living my life by the precepts of E. E. Cummings’ wisdom, articulated in his poem “let it go”. The words point to anger and resentment as the cornerstones of unhappiness: and I had anger and resentment to spare.

The sort that was deep and personal and smarting, for people who deserved it; the sort that was broad and sweeping and directed at my disappointment toward humanity; the sort that was sharp and bitter, buoyed by my own regrets and borne by my inability to live with my truth.

“let all go/dear/so comes love”, Cummings exhorts. This became my lifelong canon, the tenet I aspired to even as I soured in my own rancor. Anger isn’t comely. It isn’t flattering, it isn’t dignified: most of all, it isn’t healthy. …

About

A. Martine

Artist, writer, cinephile, musician, knitter, cat lover, habitual line stepper. Away in the TARDIS at the moment. | www.maelllstrom.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store