Hot Track: Taveeta Follow up Remix of Sophomore Single Paradise

While you are sleeping, the enigmatic singer, songwriter, actress and dancer, Taveeta, is strategizing her next move. Combining her love of music together with her passion for acting, performance and dance has been a dream come true. “I consider myself to be a true chameleon in that I’m constantly evolving…personal and professional growth is so important to me and I’m thrilled that I have the privilege of making music, while continuing to pursue my love of acting and dance.”

In the summer of 2017, Taveeta parlayed her pool of talent while performing at Family Channel’s Big Ticket Concert Series at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Canada, in front of 15,000 adoring fans. “I am so grateful and honoured to perform selections from my debut album at the Big Ticket Concert Series for all of my fans.”

The Gladiator Records Recording Artist, who released her debut album “Resurrection” in the summer of 2017, to critical acclaim, is set to release the remix to her heart-pounding and uplifting anthem “Paradise”, produced and remixed by resident hitmakers 80 Empire (Cee-Lo Green, Musiq Soulchild).

Taveeta’s debut album, “Resurrection”, takes the listener on a journey of self-discovery and perseverance and allows us identify with Taveeta’s powerful resurgence on every track. With the release of Taveeta’s “Paradise” Remix, fans can expect a more beguiling version of emphatic original.

 

Final Girls and Distressed Damsels: Portrayals of Women in Horror

A few weeks ago I went to see It with some friends. While I greatly enjoyed (or rather, was completely terrified by) the movie, I was struck by the more problematic portrayal of its sole female lead, Beverly (played by Sophia Lillis). Beverly spends much of her time in the movie being sexualized against her wishes (also keep in mind she’s supposed to be around 13-15 years old). She’s a victim of sexual abuse by her father. Surprisingly, this story thread is handled relatively well, at least compared to some other portrayals of sexual violence, especially those related to young teenage girls. On the other hand, Beverly is made to flirt with an old male pharmacist so the boys can steal supplies and escape. Rumors are spread about her sexuality, and, in the end (spoiler!), she becomes little more than a damsel in distress for the boys to rescue; in the most inexplicable and frustrating part, she is kissed against her will by one of the boys to bring her back to reality.

While this was a disappointing element of an otherwise good movie, it did make me wonder about how women typically get portrayed in horror movies, and it’s usually not great. Women are often sexualized objects, or treated as little more than passive victims. While many great horror films make way for otherwise ordinary men to rise to the occasion and become heroes, women rarely get such an opportunity. If women get to fight, which they rarely do, it’s typically as a supporting effort, or chalked up to them being different than other girls.

Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh in It

Or, we get what’s referred to as the final girl. The term was coined in 1992 by film theorist and professor Carol J. Clover. Essentially, the trope goes like this: the killer plows through a whole bunch of victims, usually teens or young adults. The victims are typically sexually active or drug users, or both, contrasted with the final girl, who is innocent, virginal, and more masculine or androgynous than her other female counterparts, and always smarter and more resourceful. Maybe she has some expertise in science or battle, maybe she goes from being meek to being able to stand up for herself and fight. In any case, after the killer goes through all the victims, we are only left with the final girl, who is the one to face the killer, and live (usually) to tell the tale. There are countless examples of the final girl in classic slasher films: Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in Halloween, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien, Alice Hardy (Adrienne King) in Friday the 13th, and so on. While it may seem exciting to have a female protagonist in horror, it’s important to note that the final girl’s power comes from her turning away from femininity, and from contrasting her to other female characters, often by pitting them against each other. The final girl is a virgin where the other women are promiscuous, smart where the others aren’t.

Of course, this trope isn’t quite as troubling as the classic damsel in distress. Already a tired, frustrating trope, it only gets worse when put in the horror genre, and often isn’t necessary for the plot. Selena (Naomie Harris) and Hannah (Megan Burns) are kidnapped and almost raped in 28 Days Later before being rescued. Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) needs to get rescued by Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) in the 2014 remake of Godzilla. And, as previously mentioned, Beverly is reduced to the trope when she gets captured.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien

Women are also often given one specific role: mothers. There are so many films showing anxieties about pregnant women (Inside is a some good example), or women who find their bodies being used merely as tools for pregnancy. Many horror films also reduce women to only being mothers, with no other role or identity. Fathers are sometimes portrayed in horror, but it’s rare to see a male character’s motivations being solely or at least mostly about the safety of their children. Examples of this include Renai (Rose Byrne) in Insidious and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) in The Conjuring.

And of course, there’s the constant sexualization. Women who get kidnapped are almost universally threatened with rape, or have their clothes taken away, or so on. Women are usually put inside a romantic relationship, or they are sexy villains who seduce the hero or make him do something stupid. In It there’s a scene where all the kids are in their underwear while swimming near rocks, and the boys ogle Bev’s body. The original version of A Nightmare on Elm Street has a scene of sixteen-year-old Nancy Thomson (Heather Langencamp) in the bathtub, nearly attacked by Freddy Kreuger. And, of course, there’s the famous shower scene in Psycho. And in the critically acclaimed movie Ex Machina we get a sexy robot named Ava, played by Alicia Vikander. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ex Machina, but I wonder how seriously anyone would have taken it had the roles been reversed. Sexy female robots are the stuff of thrillers and moral questions, but I’m guessing sexy male robots would be the stuff of comedy.

Alicia Vikander as Ava in Ex Machina

And that’s exactly the problem. Some of the movies I listed are really great, or at least movies where the actions and depictions of female characters make sense. But it’s frustrating that women are limited to just a small handful of tropes in horror movies. Women are more than these films portray them to be, and it’s past time for the genre to expand.

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For Us by Us—Black Women on TV

from Season 2 of HBO’s ‘Insecure’

TEXT: Shauna Mercy

For 8-10 glorious weeks in the summer, my girlfriends and I gather to watch HBO’s Insecure on Sundays. Finally, 30+ mins of storytelling — for us by us. We find ourselves laughing at Issa’s mirror monologues, cheering when Molly slays at work, and cringing when both girls make a complete mess of their love lives. Thankfully, Insecure is just one of many shows featuring black female talent.

These days black girls can look forward to Blackish, Greenleaf, Queen Sugar and the entire Thursday night Shondaland line up, and it’s about time too! For far too long black girls have grown accustomed to not seeing our faces in characters from our favourite shows. And when we are included, the characters tend to be monolithic in nature — we’re either matriarchal, magical and perfect, or urban (because you can’t possibly be all those things at once).

The constant white washing of our humanity is unbelievably exhausting so it makes sense that we gravitate to and celebrate shows that put the narrative of Black female lives back in our hands. I longed for the day when black women would be regular fixtures on TV, where we play white caped heroines saving men from their scandals one day, and basic AF, flawed, insecure women the next.

Though most days we find ourselves yelling at our faves, it feels good. It feels good to see us dominating TV with layered portrayals of what it means to be black and female. It feels good to see those same black female voices win golden statues for jobs well done. It feels good to have options. But mostly it just feels good to finally see us building our OWN tables rather than asking for a seat at theirs.

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Diversity in Kid’s Cartoons

It was announced recently that the new version of The Powerpuff Girls would be introducing a fourth member, Bliss (voiced by Olivia Olson), and that she would be black. Reactions were mostly positive, with a few noting that the way she was characterized in the show made her out be a stereotype of an angry black girl and some also saying that her inclusion felt a bit like tokenism. It’s a fair criticism.

I was, like most people my age, a huge fan of The Powerpuff Girls growing up. It was rare to see female cartoon characters who got to run around, fight villains, and save the day as they navigated girlhood. For me, it was a really big deal to see such representation. But I’m white, so I never really felt that I couldn’t be like them, nor did I lack cartoon characters who look like me. So for all her faults, it is something that a major kid’s cartoon is choosing to include a dark-skinned black girl who will also run around, fight villains, and save the day, even if her portrayal is a bit problematic.

I think now, more so than before, creators of children’s cartoons have realized the importance of diversity and inclusion. Representation is especially important for kids, as they start to form their sense of self, and especially for kids who aren’t white, who are disabled, who aren’t straight and/or cisgender, or are otherwise marginalized.

The Powderpuff Girls: Bubbles, Bliss, Blossom, and Buttercup

Take a show like Steven Universe. The show revolves around its titular character, Steven (voiced by Zach Callison), who is being raised by three female humanoid jewels (known as the Crystal Gems), and spends his time saving the world and subverting masculinity. There are numerous characters of color, and the show has been widely recognized for its multiple portrayals of queer characters and relationships, non-binary characters, and its ability to frankly discuss consent, gender roles, masculinity, maturation, and anxiety. And yet, the show never really veers into the territory of tokenism, instead letting the identities of its characters simply be a fact of the show. It’s one of the few shows on TV for children that has multiple queer characters, and doesn’t bother with the same tired tropes that most adult shows still haven’t stopped using.

For even younger audiences, there are also shows like Doc McStuffins. The show premiered in 2012 and has been going strong ever since. The premise is that the main character, a young African-American girl named Dottie McStuffins (currently voiced by Laya DeLeon Hayes), who hopes to be a doctor like her mother and practices on her toys that come to life from her magic stethoscope, and who she treats injuries and illnesses each week.

Doc McStuffins

Comedian W. Kamau Bell explained the importance of a show like Doc McStuffins on NPR last year, saying: “And so that’s the thing. It’s not a fantasy…Like, it’s not about wouldn’t it be crazy if I was a doctor? It’s clearly a little girl who wants to be like her mom who is a doctor. And they go to her – and there’s episodes where they go to her mom’s private practice and shows that she’s the leader of this practice, and there’s other black women there…And the dad, who we also see, Marcus McStuffins, he’s always at home, so he looks to be a stay-at-home dad…These are things that break down stereotypes and traditional narratives with, like, yeah, that’s what black dads do. We have gardens of vegetables, and we hand out strawberries. That’s what we do. That’s what black dads do.” 

Or, take the show Elena of Avalor, which revolves around a teenage Latina named Elena Castillo Flores (voiced by Aimee Carrero), who rules over a magical kingdom called Avalor. The show is notable not just for having a young Latina protagonist, but also for putting her in a position of leadership, and giving her power, agency, and some cool magic powers. If you’ve ever doubted the power of representation, I’d like to point to this incredibly sweet clip that was floating around Tumblr recently of an actress at Disneyland playing Elena speaking to a little girl in Spanish.

That’s why all this representation matters. It’s not for me to write about it (although that’s a nice bonus), or for people to argue about political correctness or identity politics. Diversity isn’t just some grand idea or social justice buzzword. It’s a real and important way to ensure that young children get to see themselves in media, in positive portrayals, even if they aren’t always part of the majority.

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Paris Fashion Week Spring 2018: The Highlights

 Moncler Gamme Rouge

Giambattista Valli is a powerhouse when it comes to design. His year consists of designing 4 ready to wear collections both of his ready to wear labels, 2 couture collections for his couture house, and 2 collections for Moncler’s couture house. Altogether, that comes out to 8 collections per year. Without counting accessory design and any other creative venture each brand partakes in. It comes without a doubt that the man is astoundingly busy. However, this constant whirlwind of creative design can sometimes lead designers into the realm of reproduction, where minor labels take on the mirror image of their parent brands. But luckily for Valli, his creative spark and talent persevere in even the toughest of situations, creating stunningly unique that differ from one another wildly. This season, his always vibrant and whimsical collection for Moncler (which is always themed after some sort of outdoor sport) took an interesting turn. Rather than continue on the well established outdoorsy path that Moncler Gamme Rouge is known for, Valli decided to base the collection on the rehearsal uniforms of ballet dancers. Kitschy leg warmers and ballet flats stormed the runway whilst simple t-shirts and leotards were accented with tulle skirts (the famed tutu if you will) which created an elegant yet wonderfully young and playful take on on modern luxury athleisure apparel. What definitely stood out from the pack the most had to be the array of down filled jackets and outerwear. Some coming in the form of marshmallow life down puffer coats, while others came in the form of translucent windbreakers and belted coat dresses.

Dries Van Notten

What can you say? The man knows his way around a piece of fabric. Fashion legend Dries Van Notten returns again this season with a stunning collection filled with his signature knack for patterns and stunning silhouette. If there were certain colours destined to be the colours of the season, this collection didn’t focus on just that. It was more concerned with the playfulness of bringing together bright and hardy jewel tones and mixing them in with neutrals and earth tones. Creating a pleasantly warm (but never doughty) collection fit for the modern fashion-forward mogul. The collection, though very rooted in Van Notten’s signature silhouettes, seemed to have a hint of softer feminity to it. The usual suspects were all there. Van Notten’s suits in strong wool plaids and his elegant slips. However, this season Van Notten added the simple yet extremely effective addition of almost-invisible embroidered sheer tunics to cover some of the stronger looks. Giving the collection a soft and ethereal vibe that the designer doesn’t often turn to. Another great aspect of the collection has to be the pieces which featured handkerchief draped scarves adoring various sides of the ensembles. This simple addition the designer not only softens the looks but adds a sense of romance to the designs. Something that has seemed to be really lacking in the fashion industry outside of a few designers still willing to commit to old school romance in favour of harsh contemporary design.

Jacquemus

After flexing his design muscles season after season, what’s a more appropriate term to describe Simon Porte Jacquemus of Jacquemus than fashion wunderkind? His unique ability to fuse haute Parisien design with modern sensuality is something very little designers, French or otherwise, can manage to do within the realm of good taste. However, Monsieur Jacquemus masters the art of balance with a such a keen precision and lust for life that not many designers in today’s industry could touch when it comes to creating a stunning collection. This season, his inspirations were clear. The beauty of south of France, with all of its sunshine, yachts, and toned bodies is paired beautifully with the Spanish flare and Jacquemus always apparent love for Picasso. As per usual, Jacquemus injects his raw feminine sensuality into the collection with the ultra-short hems of his dresses and beautifully body-hugging fabrics that always look as if they’ve sprung to life and wrapped themselves around model’s bodies. Yet for all the Jacquemus go-to’s within the collection, this collection seemed to be a step in a different direction for the designer. Whilst his usual designs often tend to lean towards the more avant-garde and out-of-the-box realm of design. This collection seemed to be a step towards the world of everyday wearability. Which is in no way meant as a negative. Often times designers have to explore the more abstract realm of fashion to create interest in the brand before releasing a tamer and far more commercial collection once the designer has solidified their position in the industry. However, this is where Jacquemus plays his cards differently. Since the humble beginnings of his label. All of his collections have been commercially successful yet wonderfully abstract and unique. Which is wonderful to see in an industry that’s hell-bent on either pumping out trends or creating collections with the sole purpose of selling clothes. Not art. This is clearly not Jacquemus’ view of his brand and it becomes extremely evident when his array of beautiful black models come waltzing down the runway in draped mustard yellow skirts, dresses that resemble tied travellers scarves, his iconic circle and block-heeled sandals and his wonderfully abstract and oversized sunhats. A clear evolution of his previous season’s Provencal farmer hats, which could be spotted at many runway shows around the globe these past few weeks.

Undercover

Undercover‘s Jun Takahashi has solidified himself as one of Paris’ major players when it comes to fashion. After his glorious collection which explored a queen and her court last season. Jun comes back once again with a collection deeply rooted in a larger than life narrative. Dealing with the duality in human nature. Takahashi shows his audience and clientele the light and dark of human nature, the good and bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Which often doesn’t present itself in the world of fashion very often as a comparative. For Takahashi, the vision was clear. Rather than have a linear show that showcased the transition from one point of human nature to the other, the designer opted for a runway show which showcased models in pairs (some of them twins) walking hand in hand on the runway. Each representing the two extremes within a singular person. To put the concept more simply, one model walked onto the runway with a dress that had the nighttime sky printed on it, while the other dress showcased a bright daytime sky on it. the concept was far more visible with the pairs that exhibited extreme differences within their paired looks. The most striking of these was a pair of twins who eerily resembled the two little girls from the Shinning. On one twin, the innocent looking baby blue dress seems familiar and innocent, while on the other, the same dress is strewn in red fringe that resembles blood. Reminding the audience of the poor girls’ fate. The duality may seem a little overdrawn and exaggerated for some, maybe even verging on costume rather than fashion. But what truly makes this collection on the best of the season is Takahashi’s fearlessness when it comes to design and telling a story. There are far too many designers these days that could use a lesson in creating memorable and unique moments from Mr. Takahashi.