By: Twitter Buttons

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Embarrassed by the beat of our own drum...

This is now old news but I was shocked to hear that the Cadbury advert (with the Zingolo song I can't seem to get out of my head) received complaints for being racist! Cadbury were cleared of any wrong-doing and rightly so in my opinion. When I first saw the advert, I couldn't stop smiling because Ghana is my home country and it was great to see a positive depiction of Africa for once aside from those "For £2 A Month" adverts.

So when I heard that people were actually offended due to the use of "racial stereotypes", I had serious 'rolling of the eyes' action going on. "Racial sterotypes"?!?!? Was the nose on the mask too big? Were the people in the village dancing too wildly? Were the people in the village too black? That was a traditional African street party if I ever saw one so it leads me to think that these cries of racism are in fact outcries of embarrassment. This is OUR culture. Deal with it! Are you embarrassed because now Paul from the office is finally going to realise you are an African and that posh, restrained, "I was born in England" cover you had for the last 5 years is blown? To be accepted in this country, people adapt, different faces and demeanors for different situations, I fully understand that. But when faced with our history, culture, tradition, ethnicity - it's no longer time to hide behind that British passport. I think we should accept it, embrace it and thank Cadbury's for showing the colourful, vibrant side of Africa that I know and love.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Black British, Black African or Mixed? Tick your box...

As part of Channel 4's Race and Science season, 'Is It Better To Be Mixed Race?' went on a 'scientific' journey to find out whether coming from a mixed gene pool is actually better that being born from parents who are from the same genetic pool, i.e. same country. It went on to conclude that it is better to a certain degree as it means that the individual is not as susceptible to certain diseases that are prone in certain races e.g. diabetes in Black and Asian communities. They also noted that lifestyle also plays a major role.

With the mixed race population in the UK growing at an incredible rate, is there the risk that the hubbub of cultures that are present today will simply disappear? Arguments against mixed race relationships include that there is a dilution of culture and tradition where unique country-specific traits are lost as each new mixed race generation steps forward. This argument even extends to relationships between individuals within the same race but differences lie in the country they come from and the religion they practice e.g. Nigeria and Jamaica or Hinduism and Islam....come on, some time or another, I suppose a few us have had our parents look us sternly in the eye and say "You can marry whoever you long as they are from (fill in the blank with appropriate country...your own!)."

In some ways I can understand, especially with parents who are not from the U.K and have strong ties to their country, village and even church back home. Living in the UK and having children who are from a place entirely different to them, I can understand their fear that if their children fully adapt to the British way of life and then have children who do not have strong cultural influences in their lives, the culture and everything they believe in will die.

Personally, I am all for the mix and blend. Just because you date outside of your culture and country, it doesn't necessarily mean that you lose this element that is often so embedded in your personality and way you behave. I have had plenty of Aunties who have suddenly turned up to an African party with an 'Uncle Barry' on their arm, complete with cockney accent and all. She didn't lose her culture, in fact they just embraced each others. If you love your culture then you should have no trouble keeping it alive.

What are your thoughts? Is it a big deal to marry inside of your country of origin and culture? Even though being mixed may be best for our health, is it best for our identity?

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Little White Lies...

I wanted to see 'The Invention of Lying' last week...but I was a pushover and saw District 9 instead! Anywho, 'The Invention of Lying' sees Ricky Gervais' character living in a world where no-one lies, not even little white ones. Then luckily for him, he discovers that he has the ability to bend the truth and the world becomes his oyster.

Just watching the trailer I thought not only would it be hilarious if everyone told the absolute truth but also how refreshing it might actually be. We have become a nation of 'white liars' - sometimes to get ourselves out of trouble e.g. "Nah it's not that I forgot to call you, it's just that I fell asleep. That's different". Or sometimes to spare someone's feelings e.g. "Yes of course he likes you Sherice, he probably just fell asleep, it's not like he forgot to call you. That's different".

I have a friend that, how can I say it, doesn't really mince his words and I used get on him about that...but what's really wrong with telling people how it is. My issue is when people lack tact. Yes, you can tell someone that their breath stinks so they should back up, but there is a way that you do that in order to minimise the stab of pain to the heart they will feel as a result.

How great would it be though: people wouldn't play mind games in relationships, you could tell your boss he's a twat and he'd probably agree with you and you could finally tell your best friend that her weave is seriously not working for her. All without sugar coating - it would save us all a lot of time and brainpower. One thing for sure is that we'd all need to develop thicker skins!

Say what you feel or add a coating of sugar or two? What type are you?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Is it really that unbeweavable?

If you know me then you will know how much I love Top Model and Tyra Banks especially. Last week, season five of her Emmy award winning programme 'The Tyra Banks Show' premiered surrounded by much hype. After years of being seen in wigs, weaves and extensions, she revealed to the world her 'real hair'...and proved to everyone that contrary to belief, she is not bald! Click here to see what she had hiding under those Asia-imported lace fronts (select the clip titled "Oscar Works Magic On Tyra's Real Hair').

The issue about hair has been around for a long time but more recently it has been propelled into the spotlight by Chris Rock's 'Good Hair' documentary, which was screened at the Sundance Festival and will soon receive a nationwide release in the States. Not too long ago Tyra also did an episode titled 'What is Good Hair?', addressing the issues that African American women have with the natural texture of their hair. If you have some time to spare, I would recommend watching this as some of the points raised are both interesting and also slightly disturbing, especially when listening to the thoughts of the young girls featured. For example, one child considers 'nappy' hair to symbolise lower class and one mother actually chemically relaxes the hair of her three year old daughter!

While there are many theories about black women wanting to change their appearance to be more acceptable to society and issues about deep rooted self hatred, I'm not going to go there. The question I am asking here is how much is hair simply a style choice and how much is it something that defines who you are?

People are always talking about the pros and cons of wearing a weave and last year, my friend over at No Work All Play did a hilarious blog post about the Weave Epidemic. While he has a point about maintenance, to me, hair is just the stuff on the top of your head. While I have never seen anything wrong with wearing a weave, extensions or hair pieces I have never had a weave, only ever had tracks in once (which I didn't like) and extensions probably twice. I've cut my hair to four inches long, coloured it numerous times and retouch it every 6 weeks. I see hair as an accessory. The same way I may want a pair of funky coloured shoes is the same way I would want a different hair style every so often. Yes, hair can be a reflection of my current mood or an image but at the end of the day I'm still me; I still love watching corny rom-coms and fashion programmes on TV, I still get annoyed by slow-walking people on Oxford Street, I still want a husband and three kids - I don't change...but the way I am perceived does.

Some may argue that hair is a reflection of a person. Along with clothes, it communicates an image to others. But come on, we all know that image is just that - something projected to the outside world that doesn't necessarily mirror our personality and stance on life - that's the job of our character, identified by what we say and do. But does this make hair, clothes and image any less important? Is how you are perceived critical to well being, love, life and success?

Unfortunately, I would say a huge yes! In our society, this is how initial judgements are made. There's not always time for second impressions. A couple of years back Glamour magazine in the States was involved in a little bit of controversy when an article about office do and don'ts highlighted that wearing an afro to work would be seen as unprofessional. While that person with an afro could have the most professional conduct on the entire floor, this goes to show how far society goes to make judgements on a person based on their hair. Nowadays, you can look around a club and decide on a girl or guy's personality without even speaking to them. Look, the girl in the Beyonce weave is fake and high maintenance, better steer clear of that one. Oh look at the one with the Rihanna hair cut....uh uh, she looks like she will smash up my car if I dare miss a call from her. Wow, look at that guy's sharp, precise shape up...he might just be batting for the other team. And the girl with the natural beaded hair....I bet she doesn't shave her legs. Absolute nonsense, I know but we all do it.

Watching the Tyra clip especially, there is the belief that relaxing your hair, wearing a weave etc gives the perception that you are ashamed of your black culture. Are you more proud to be Black, White, Hispanic or Asian if you wear your hair in its natural state? This is not just a 'black thing'. People with straight hair may have a perm to make their hair unnaturally curly...does this mean that they are trying to run away from their heritage. Or is it different just because black people have a reason to be running away? Does relaxing my hair mean that I am less proud of my heritage than someone who keeps it natural? I could be someone who can speak an African language, have travelled to the 'motherland', talk to my work colleagues about my culture and can cook the food but standing next to someone who wears their 'real hair', to some people I am perceived as not embracing my culture.

Long, short, afro, relaxed, weave, extensions, coloured whatever. It's just hair. Outward appearances are always going to be judged but its about letting your integrity and character shine through...and its always nice to prove people wrong.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

You're Beautiful, Woman - and you're smart too!

A couple of Saturdays ago, I attended 'You're Beautiful, Woman', an annual event that aims to motivate and inspire women to recognise their beauty and self worth in every avenue of their lives. There was definitely a lot going on from makeovers in the beauty room, cosmic energy coaching, hypnotherapy, massage therapists and seminars on a range of topics including The Secret Life of Hair (advising attendees about where that Beyonce lace front actually comes from) and Radical Leap Coaching (encouraging women to equip themselves with 'good baggage' - the skills needed to fulfil all of those ambitions).
Good Influence Therapy

Kemi Bespoke Artistry - bridal makeup, fashion, editorial, makeup classes

Rosebudden aka Crystal Ogbogo - freelance make-up artist. Worked at the Matthew Williamson show at London Fashion Week 2008.

What really excited me about this event was the marketplace. This was a room full of stands exhibiting a range of products and services:
The Marketplace

Soutarri - online jewellery store. They also offer jewellery making classes and will be going into secondary schools from September to work with children who are experiencing difficulties, possibly inspiring them to be creative, sociable and develop a hobby.

Alexandra Galleries - online art gallery, event listing and source for African American prints, posters and original art.

The Salad Master - a healthy eating cooking system. By the way, that delicious chocolate cake you see on the right was made using all the vegetables you see in the Salad Master. No word of a lie - healthy chocolate cake! And it tasted great!

Pebbles Wearable Art - made to measure authentic clothing maintaining the uniqueness of African fashion.

What excited me was the entrepreneurship of the women in the room. Ethnic minorities in the UK are increasingly stepping out on their own to be their own boss and it is promising to see so many women identifying gaps and opportunities to make money instead of waiting on that monthly paycheck. In the media, you rarely see examples of entrepreneurial females and if you do, it is usually one example alongside a line-up of middle aged men. Deborah Meaden, Michelle Mone, Karren Brady, Elisabeth Murdoch - all examples of females who have achieved recognised success in the world of entrepreneurship but I struggle to name a well-known woman of colour in the UK (let me know if you can name any). But my point here is that the culture of black female entrepreneurship does exist and this event was an inspiration to me. Seeing confident women doing what I want to do with my life - spend my days working for a cause I am passionate about - gives the extra boost that I and many other females need in order to take that daunting step from 'employed' to 'self-employed'. Women are stepping up and in a few years time, hopefully I won't be struggling to name names!


Monday, 3 August 2009

TREND ALERT: The new therapy

Forget about shaving one side of your head, forget wearing leggins with short tops and you can definitely forget about getting a Blackberry on your new upgrade. Apparantly, to be on trend and with the 'in-crowd', you need to sign up to a social networking or video streaming site, sit down in front of your laptop....and then have an emotional breakdown. Webcam is optional. It's as easy as that!

Over the last few weeks, we've seen the explosion of this new trend. Certain celebrities have been turning to their computers instead of their psychiatrists and putting their emotional oubursts out there for all to see. First there was Soulja Boy feeling pressures of the music industry and 'expressing' himself via Twitter. Then Bow Wow got a little 'attention-envy' and wrote a suicidal-note-like message, again using Twitter. Next was another member of the young Hollywood crew, Teyana Taylor, who when reading both love and hate messages from the public, couldn't contain her "tears of joy". Most recently, American basketball player Stephon Marbury broke down while listening to a Kirk Franklin track - all with his webcam switched on.

All the examples above signal some deeper emotional issues that need to be dealt with, but what happened to writing in a diary, talking to your best friend or ahem...seeking professional help? Now the obvious explanation for all of this is that these are cries for attention. People in the limelight tend to have that performance gene, they thrive putting on a show and receiving that round of applause from the crowd before they take a bow. Perhaps, after a while this recognition from the public becomes more like personal validation and they start to constantly seek it in order to feel good about themselves, relying on it even to maintain their self-esteem.

But before we all jump on their backs yelling "low self esteem, fame-hungry, losers", are they that much different from all the 'regular' people on Twitter, Facebook and bloggers? Ok, while not all shed tears, I have personally witnessed Facebook status posts reading "I've had enough", "Why is this happening" and "I can't take this anymore". On a couple of occasions I've been close to replying with the number for the Samaritans! Twitter, the same, people post up their thoughts, opinions and feelings for other people to read. Do tweeters feel validation when somone replies to their post, agrees with them, retweets what they said or even follows them? They probably do. So does this also fit in the 'cry for attention' box? And bloggers - I know I'm talking about myself when I say this but is this blogging world a place where we become celebrities ourselves? Ok, no-one is going to be showing their house in the pages of OK magazine anytime soon, but as you gain more followers, people begin to recognise your name and blogs start to be taken more seriously a pieces of journalism, is it JUST about writing about the topics you are interested in? Isn't it also about the public recognition and acceptance? If it was just about the writing, then we'd all be blogging anonymously right!?!

Let's put it down to self-expression - its a way to air your views and speak your mind. However, where do we draw the line? At what point do we go "hey, I'm gonna keep this private, its way too personal to put out there". Is talking going to become redundant as we all become a nation of status posts? It's just something I've been thinking about. Social networks and other online broadcasting tools seem to be blurring the lines of friendships, privacy and what should and shouldn't be said or shown. So with a new outlet for 'self-expression', whether its micro-blogging via Twitter, vlogging via YouTube or just setting up your own page, who needs a therapist?

Would love to hear your thoughts: tweeters, Facebookers, Bloggers, why do it and where do you draw the line?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Pat Younge on diversity in the television industry

On Monday, I attended an evening with Patrick Younge hosted by presenter and journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Pat has recently been appointed as the Chief Creative Officer of BBC Vision, making him the most highly placed figure from a minority background in the television industry. This event was also the launch of the British Black and Asian Programme Maker's Collective, aka The TV Collective. Their aim is to provide a network where people can debate, showcase ideas, support and brainstorm ways of tackling the issue of diversity in television and the event on Monday was a sign of great things to come. With growing support from the industry including former MP Oona King, who is now Head of Diversity at Channel 4, I guess now is the time for action.

Pat has had a long career working in television and most recently headed up The Travel Channel in the United States. In his new role at the BBC, he will be responsible for comedy, drama, entertainment and children, with shows including Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who, Top Gear and EastEnders in his control. At last year's Edinburgh Television Festival, he famously remarked that diversity targets should be like financial targets and if people failed to hit them, then they should be fired. With this strong desire to make the industry less white and middle class, it will be interesting to see if there are any visible changes both at the BBC and in television in general over the next few years.

Here are the key points/learnings I gained from the evening:

Diversity is not only limited to race, although it is often the first thing that comes to mind. The television industry needs to be more inclusive in terms of gender, culture, age, disabilities and probably most importantly class. The industry is still regarded as one full of Cambridge and Oxford types, who have the insider information, knowledge of the unwritten rules and industry contacts that people from working class communities, (white working class included) do not have. This is a major barrier that needs to be challenged.

There has been progress over the years in regards to the people we actually see on our screens; actors, actresses, newsreaders, presenters and television personalities in general - although it might not be as much as we would like, we have definitely seen a wider representation of people looking back at us than ten years ago. However, it's behind the camera that the major problem lies. Behind the camera is where the power and the decision making is and if there is a narrow range of views, opinions and perspectives there, then that will be reflected on the television channels. Pat highlighted ITV for not having any commissioners from ethnic backgrounds and that this is evident in their programming. Therefore, here is where action is urgently needed. Training schemes that nurture talent, give people the opportunity to get their foot in the door and also develop their skills along their career path is a key way ensuring that in the future, executives at the top of the television industry are more representative of the audiences they serve.

Pat gave a useful piece of advice for people aspiring to work in television: know what you are good at. Not everyone is good at presenting or directing or producing or developing creatives. Pat's skill is managing and nurturing talent. Work out what your skill is and hone it to ensure that your not a jack of all trades and master of none. You'll probably progress in your career much faster. Also, it's important to know that there are so many different areas of television that you can get involved in, its not only about producing programmes. Marketing, publicity, finance, legal, talent management - do some research and find a path that suits you.

My personal concern is that in this strive for diversity, it may be all a bit too easy for it to turn into a numbers game. That is often the problem when targets are introduced. I am all for good talent rising to the top and diversity policies should be implemented to ensure that people have the OPPORTUNITY to gain skills and experience that they would not normally have access to. This way, the idea that "the cream of the crop will rise to the top" is one that still stands. However, if in order to meet targets, production companies and television channels just employ to fulfil a quota, then nothing will have really changed.

I also really do hope that this renewed drive is not another soapbox where we highlight the issues but nothing gets done. Remember that there is power in numbers and it is important to not expect too much from Pat's new position - he is only one man who has a range of responsibilities at the BBC, diversity only being one of them. It is up to us to continue to put pressure on the industry and transform all this talk into change. To get involved in The TV Collective, find out about training schemes, jobs and to network visit their facebook group.

What are your thoughts? What are your experiences within the television industry? What would you advise The Collective to do, what would you like to see from them? Speak on it and lets get this ball rolling!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman...standing in front of a stove.

This post is inspired by stories I have read recently about high profile men in the entertainment industry and the role their wives play. Tameka 'Tiny' Cottle, former singer of girl group Xscape, now more commonly known as rapper TI's wife/fiance/girlfriend/mother of his children, has allegedly been trying to restart her career for quite a while now. Now that she has her own reality show with Li'l Wayne's ex-wife (please, I don't have the energy to go there!), it looks like she is finally starting to make her own moves. However, she is often reported to say that TI is not completely happy with her ambitions to pursue a career of her own and would much rather she stay a housewife to maintain the home and look after their children. Second story - Tyrese Gibson, Coco Cola bus singer and actor is currently in the process of divorcing his wife. He met her while she was studying in London (yes ladies, we all had a chance!) and then she moved over to the states with him to set up home. Now he's divorcing her, to avoid paying her thousands in alimony, he is allegedly saying that there is no reason why she cannot get a job and pay her own way, despite the fact that he was more than happy for her to be the little stay at home wifey during their five year marriage.

My question here is why do some men meet a successful ambitious female, make her his wife and then resign her to a life of picking out china to match the wallpaper in the kitchen? Can a powerful man be happily married to a powerful women, one that has her own ambitions or must she spend the whole of their married life standing behind that powerful man, holding him up.

Guys, she was ambitious and successful when you met her, it was one of the reasons that you fell in love with her, but as soon as you put that ring on her finger you feel that the best place for her is in the home. Is this fear? Intimidation? Is it a hit to the man's pride that the women has her own and doesn't necessarily NEED them. Neyo sings of Miss Independent, but is that what men really want from a wife? By keeping her in the home, giving her an allowance every month and supplying her with new edition Louis Vuitton handbags, the woman builds up a level of dependency on her fella. It gives him the allowance to do as he pleases, playing on the fear that if she was to leave, she'd leave with nothing (well maybe half).

Or is it less premeditated and manipulative than this and simply down to values that have been instilled in some men over time? Although we have progressed quite a bit from the 1950's, traditional values of the man being the breadwinner and the woman maintaining house and home are still present. Some guys have grown up with that dynamic in their own homes and naturally want it for them and their children too. But can this still work in a time where women are now more career focused than ever?

Out of interest... Guys: would you be more attracted to a career focused woman or one with traditional values of staying home and raising the family? Be honest, do you feel intimidated by powerful, successful women? How would you feel if your wife's career was steps ahead of your own?

Ladies: as females, should we make husband and children a priority over our own career and personal ambitions? Alternatively, would you mind being the breadwinner of the family while the other half takes the role of stay-at-home-dad?

Can two powerful people remain happily married or is it natural for competition and intimidation to take hold?

Let me know your thoughts...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Empowerment vs Exploitation: Are Video Vixens ruining the perception of women?


A few weeks ago, I watched a Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 called Rape in the City. You can still catch it here on 4OD but you only have 12 days left, so hurry. Basically, journalist Sorious Samura was investigating the horrific 'trend' of teenage girls being gang raped by groups of young men and he specifically highlighted that it is becoming more and more common within the black community.

There were many interesting insights revealed by the documentary but what I picked up on was the lack of respect that the young black boys interviewed had for females. Yes, there is the argument that a girl should respect herself first before she expects respect elsewhere - this argument was attributed to the instances where girls initially agree to link a group of guys but then try to back out when they arrive and see 25 guys waiting for them! But there were also instances where rape was used as a form of punishment for snitching or simply because the guys deemed a girl unattractive and wanted to humiliate her. So my question here is when did these young guys lose respect from the female species.

Naturally, Samura brought up the excuse that is used time and time again - music and hip hop's negative portrayal of women is polluting the minds of our youngsters. I am usually one to stand up and argue against this theory - I watch violent films, I listen to hip-hop but I have my own mind and have never acted in a way because a rapper told me to... but is that true? Beyonce had me shaking my booty in the clubs doing the uh-oh dance and Flo-Rida has me dancing provocatively while getting low low low. So can you really say, the things you watch, the music you listen to and the media you expose yourself to doesn't affect your actions and your thoughts, even subconsciously.

What is the feeling about video vixens, glamour models and even the entertainment industry in general where for females especially, sex is how you get ahead. In Hollywood, as an actress your career has a direct correlation to your ranking on Maxim's top 100 Sexiest Women list. Even Beyonce, with her booty shaking and 'make sex with the camera' videos is contributing to the 'male gaze' ideal where women act in a way that makes men want to get physical with them and females want to be the girl that men want to get physical with. Is this culture ruining the way that men see women and therefore the way they respond to them? As previously mentioned, in the words of one of the teens interviewed in the documentary, a guy isn't going to respect a women if she doesn't respect herself. Over the years, females in the entertainment industry who have been described as using their sexuality to promote their career have argued that they are not being exploited at all. That it is a form of empowerment, being sexy is natural and they relish the feeling of making guys succumb to them. But isn't this slightly delusional. Are these women still not submitting themselves to the sexual fantasies of men and therefore not in as much control as they convince themselves to be? With these ideals, then can you blame young men seeing girls as sexual objects first before anything else?

I am not judging here, but putting the thought out there that there is a correlation and that our present culture is to blame for some of the negative things within the community. Some may argue that, its not just the black community, that it's the way the world is, sex sells and even in the days of Marylin Monroe, it was the same. Some females may argue that well if they are getting paid and no-one is forcing them to do anything then what is wrong with that. But clearly something needs to change because I think as the years go by, values that some people may call old fashioned but which I consider to hold together the moral fabric of society, are slowly being unwoven.

And as if it was meant to be, FantasyRide has been invited to 'You're Beautiful, Woman', an event put together by some fabulous ladies including Ronke Adeyemi over at The Musings of Ondo Lady blog. This annual event celebrates black female beauty inside and out and aims to motivate and inspire women to recognise their own self worth in every avenue of their lives. There will be seminars and workshops covering topics such as styling, fashion, natural hair and beauty, relationships, fitness, financial advice and inner beauty. It takes place on Saturday 15 August at Highgate Newton Community Centre. Tickets are only £5 so see the website for more information: Hope to see you there!


Sunday, 7 June 2009

Us 20 year olds have some serious competition...

For years, since time began, an older man dating a younger woman has been since as acceptable - ok underage cases and age gaps of 30 years plus excluded - but even today, seeing a 20 year old female hanging off the arm of a man that looks like her Dad, doesn't do much to *shock* anymore.

But what about when it's the other way round. Cradle snatcher, Mrs Robinson (if you don't know the classic film The Graduate, get to know, it stars Dustin Hoffman) and now a name to top all names 'The Cougar'.

A 'Cougar' in it's traditional sense, is a member of the puma family and is described as "a stalk-and-ambush type predator, one that is territorial". In the year 2009 cougars are more commonly known as Demi Moore, Halle Berry, Madonna and every other woman who is dating a younger man. My first gripe is the fact that these women are called 'predators' - so dramatic and negative - they didn't say that about R Kelly....they called him a paedophile though....ok we'll call it even. In the U.S, there is even a dating show hosted by Vivica A Fox (does ANYONE know what that 'A' stands for?) where about 20 guys have signed up to try and win the heart of a 40 year old divorcee with teenage sons. This so called 'craze' is changing what society considers 'normal' in regards to dating and relationships and soon enough, no one will even bat an eyelid, if not already. Well, I say good for you cougars. You can't help who you are attracted to, if that so happens to be Ashton Kutcher or Nick Cannon and they happen to like you right back, then why not?

It's obvious to see the attraction for the females; a young, virile, fit, chiseled face and body is more than difficult to resist. Not every guy ages like Will Smith people; too much pounded yam, fufu and supermalt can have that six pack looking like a keg in 5 years, 2 if you're really unlucky. However, what is the attraction for younger guys? In all those women magazines (which I don't read by the way, but always seem to find them in my bag for some odd reason) women often say that at 30 and 40, you know yourself more than you do in your 20's and that gives off a confidence that men are attracted to. So 30 really is the new 20 - women are more confident, set in their careers, making that money, living in a place they can call their own and more 'emotionally stable' than the younger version of themselves. OR is it because guys like someone to look after them, so that mothering image is something that they can't help but be drawn to?

Whatever the reason, while this news might be great for us youngins in about 10 years time, what about now? What about finding that boyfriend/hubby within the next couple of years. With this growing 'cougar' trend, we're not only competing with our peers but also with these confident 'superwomen' ready to show guys our a age a thing or two about being with a "real woman". Step up your game ladies, we've got competition!

Guys, could you take a cougar? What are your feelings about older women? Would you go there? What do older women have over us young ones?

Ladies, could YOU take a cougar? Standing stand by side, what would you have over her? Would you date a younger man?

And finally, to you cougars out got any tips?


Saturday, 23 May 2009

Cancelled, Cancelled, Cancelled!

My buddy Broadband over at The Wider Perspective wrote a very interesting piece on the disappearance of black sitcoms both over in the States and here in the UK. Check it out!

Beating me to the post (ha ha get it) as I was gonna write on a similar issue following the cancellation of The Game and Everybody Hates Chris, I just had to comment on his page giving my two cents, so I hope he doesn't mind me re-posting.

Mayne, this was gonna be my weekend post! But I will speak on it anyway by commenting.
I agree with the whole primary/secondary network theory. I think execs want to play it safe and not risk losing their viewers, especially if they are unsure how an 'ethnic sitcom' will be received. But it's a catch 22 situation because without taking a risk, how will they know whether they are missing out on a hit? In these harsh economic times especially for the broadcast industry due to the lack of finance via advertising, it's worrying that things are not going to change any time soon - playing it safe and sticking to a 'sure-thing' is seen as the most economically sound option. Also, what is the incentive to commission and run an 'ethnic' sitcom? Scrubs, 30 Rock etc resonate with a range of different communities. Moving slightly away from sitcoms, how many Black, Asians, Chinese people watched Sex & The City, Friends or are addicted to Desperate Housewives? Many, but those programmes featured no ethnic lead characters. They were just good programmes. Therefore, is there a need for specialist and targeted programming when a programme with mass appeal touches all bases? Playing the devil's advocate here, but this is what execs may be thinking so again I ask, what is the incentive?
I think a revolution is needed -I apologise for the theatrical tone but we need something fresh, a new format aside from the typical Eve's, Half and Half's and The Game. I was at a Ghanaian Union function not too long ago - gotta keep in touch with the culture people - and something one of the elders said stayed with me. There are so many smaller unions and inspiring individuals that are all doing great things to represent Ghana, however they are not doing it collectively - it's too fragmented so no one union can make the impact that they intend to. So in that same spirit, I think what is needed is a more collective approach....(Lightbulb!!!!) Power and strength in numbers people, combine creativity and business sense then maybe we can give the networks something worth taking notice of.
L.Mayne, I'll be in touch...

I think it's time I stopped talking and put some things into motion. What do you guys think, is there a need for ethnic programmes? Is the whole idea of ethnic targeting redundant anyway? Are you attracted to programmes, products, services because they appeal to your ethnicity or to you as an individual.

Speak on it!


Sunday, 26 April 2009

Bitchassness kills your game, my brothers...

Hey hey, back from Miami people, got my skin an upgrade and I'm ready to get back on it...well I was, until my train was cancelled and the rain was coming at me sideways this morning.

Anywho, while in Miami, I caught the whole of the most recent series of Making the are they a bunch of sissies!! Drama, crying, making up and breaking up, it was just too much! Now, I'm all for men showing their sensitive side but when they are squaring off to each other with their hands on their hips and doing the chicken neck, I think things just got a little bit too emotional. Willie, Que, Robert, Brian and Mike - I don't find any of them attractive...and their antics on the show don't help either. So my question is.... are reality TV programmes sometimes too real?

With anti-publicity hungry film stars like Matt Damon and even artists like Beyonce, the mystery of what they are like in real life adds to the intrigue and interest in them. As much as I get on Beyonce's back about being a closed book, in some ways it's a great marketing tool - being a mystery keeps people talking about her and buying into what she sells just so that they can maybe get a glimpse of what she is really like. It's like a girl giving it all up on the first date...are guys still interested afterwards?

While shows like MTB, Keeping up with the Kardashians, and Living with the Lohans aim to give 'fans' an insight into the lives of these stars in the hope that it creates an emotional tie to them so that they keep buying into them as brands, the other end is that it shows you way too much of a person, flaws and all. While it seems like the process works, (Day 26 and Danity Kane have achieved success), how long does it last for, will the bubble eventually burst, are they deemed credible enough for me to spend my dollars on (still in Miami mode)? In the end, you realise that these beautiful people who you thought were attractive, the best thing since sliced bread and were people you would scream your lungs out for, are actually like any other person on the street, a brat, or an annoying diva with way too much bitchassness. Still want to buy into that?


Sunday, 12 April 2009

Move Over Sex, Swagger Sells Now!

Hey guys,

I'm off to Miami in a couple of days so thought I would leave you with a parting ta da, here it is...
I guess most of you have seen Kanye get "murdered" by South Park last week. If not and you're in need of some deep belly laughs click here.

It got me thinking about the point where confidence turns into arrogance. Kanye is well known for thinking that he is the best thing since Adidas Shell Toes, but as a rapper and part of hip hop culture, isn't arrogance part of the criteria? From the days of LL Cool J and Run DMC and even earlier, lyrical content was focused on how great the rapper was in comparison to the "wack" competition. But has Kanye taken it too far? Is he just a unique example of someone who has taken their 'rap' persona and allowed it to transcend into normal life, leaving all humility behind.
Another question I have is with the word 'swagger'. What is it exactly? Is it confidence, the way a person carries themselves and does it require an ounce or two of arrogance to hit the right spot? Can you have swagger without being arrogant? Nowadays, Swagger Sells, swagger makes the ladies swoon, swagger is the essence of cool masculinity, swagger makes hit records, swagger makes blockbuster films. Moving away from the entertainment industry for a sec, I've been trying to set a girlfriend of mine up for the longest and every nice guy I suggest, I'm hit with the same response: "hmm...he's nice...he's good looking...but he ain't got swagger". This swagger search is gonna leave my friend old, lonely and childless with cats if she doesn't get over it.
Is there such a thing as 'natural swagger'? Can a person just have it. Some people go as far as trying to manufacture it....

But is swagger ever natural in the first place. Isn't it a bravado, a false exterior presented to the public as part of an image? Inside, the person might be a shy, crumbling wreck, who watches Dr Phil with a box of tissues on his lap.

I just wonder how the three - swagger, confidence and arrogance interact and why some do it successfully e.g. TI, Denzel Washington, Jay Z, Rihanna (this is my list) and others get their heart ripped out on shows like South Park.

What are your thoughts...who makes your top 10?

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Don't Sleep

Not too long ago I wrote a post about the ‘wannabe legend’ that is Beyonce. My irk with her was that she was never out of my face. Some people said “don’t look then” while others agreed that she should let the acting go, take a seat and have some babies - just for a little bit then hopefully she would come back with some great material to knock my socks off. However, the recent and now boring ‘Chrianna’ events have made me realise how fleeting a career in entertainment can be. Yes I know, kind of obvious, but now I realise why B is constantly on it.

How easy is it going to be for Rihanna to get back to her position? Yes, I hear she's partying and back on her grind but considering reuniting with CB back has led to some people no longer seeing her as Queen of the fierce, independent, strong female. Can she regain that postion and overcome all the drama? No point in mentioning CB's career, I think they scattered its ashes last week Friday. (Personally...I don't think it's over - he just needs to rethink his direction).

More interestingly, Shauntelle, pop/RnB singer of the hit 'T-Shirt', also originating from Barbados is slyly using this as an opportunity to get her foot in the door. Keri Hilson is getting a bit more air time with her solo stuff as well as publicity rewarding collabos with Kanye and Lil' Wayne. Even Ciara has finally got a release date for her new album. Whether the sudden push is a coincidence or a well devised plan by music execs, it is definitely perfect timing. So wake up, don’t sleep Rihanna, because I think someone is trying to steal your spot.

This common symptom is not limited to music artists- film stars and much loved TV programmes can get drowsy too. Eastenders took some "Good Nytol" in 2007 when it lost out to Coronation Street for best soap at the Royal Television Society Awards - they haven't let that happen again. Pro Plus is your friend Eastenders!!! (Just hurry up Danielle, tell Ronnie already - gosh!). I think Neighbours is officially in a coma and rapper Nelly has taken a vacay and let FloRida jack his swagga - that vacation may become permanent homie, wake up!

Can you think of any other music artists, television shows, actors who fell asleep on the job and lost it?


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Model Search...and no I'm not Tyra


I'm am looking for models to take part in a mini documentary. It will focus on ethnic models pursuing a career in high fashion. The criteria are as follows:

Must be with an agency and attend regular castings

Must be a high fashion model

Must be of ethnic origin

Simple really.

If you are interested, please email me with your name, age, height, agency and attach a picture. Alternatively, if you know anyone that would be suitable, please forward them the details.



Sunday, 1 March 2009

Did Eastenders Punk Out?


For those who caught this week's "all black" episode of Eastenders, what did you think? The Sun argued that the producer's lack of promotion of this historic event somehow watered down the sincerity of the gesture to highlight race relations in the UK. My view is that by making a big song and dance about it, they might have turned this great moment into a gimmick, a novelty. Yes, it will go into the archives as a piece of television history and with the anniversary of the Macpherson Report, it was a great way to reinforce that the soap was in touch with the feelings of black people in the UK. Nevertheless, by treating this episode like any other Eastenders episode it guaranteed an audience that could do with hearing about black experiences in the UK. Some might say that it was a lesson in 'our history for our people', but it is important to highlight the programme's diverse audiences who may have actually switched off it if was proclaimed to be an "all black" episode, for fear of being lectured about something that they didn't really care or were concerned about. While Eastenders and television in general can serve well as a vehicle for educating people about social issues, it's primary objective is to entertain (despite Chelsea's painful acting) and provide some light relief at the end of a stressful day. I think the producer's remembered this in their aim not alienate its other audiences and at the same time ensured that we all learnt something together. My opinion, what's yours?


Saturday, 14 February 2009

...And they lived Happily Ever After....

Hey People
Well, by now I guess you have all heard the news about Chrianna..I'm not going to go into it, you can read about it at the one thousand, nine hundred and eighty-seven other blogs who are already going crazy over the alleged antics.

Relationships in the public eye - that's where my mind is at. It's a major part of celeb culture and can be both positive and negative to the parties involved. 'Brand Beckham' for example, Victoria's ribs need David and David's balls need Vicki to maintain their status and riches. 'Are they, aren't they dating' stories sell films when on a normal basis they might have gone straight to DVD. If we're honest, it's what us old romantics like to see (If you're not an old romantic, you'll probably disagree with me from this point forth). We watch these actors on screen fall in love and suddenly they're public property and thanks to the beloved paparazzi aka 'rats on scooters' we get to see them 'fall in love' off screen too.

Here is where the confusion lies - because we see them act out their happy ending at the end of a film, its easy to believe that their lives are a typical chick-flick too. Speaking for myself, I was absolutely DEVASTATED about the whole Jennifer, Brad and Angelina episode. It was like he cheated on ME - I had put faith into them as a Hollywood couple that would last. I thought 'aw, that's so lovely, he's settled down and Rachel from friends has finally gotten over Ross!'

It's easy to forget that people in the public eye are exactly that: PEOPLE. They go through the same mess as the rest of us except that everyone knows their business - Facebook Stalking multiplied by 1000. This is no way in defence of Chris Breezy but I guess the whole incident serves as a reminder that the happy pics that we see in blogs or the column inches we pore over in the magazines are just stories...sometimes minus the knight in shining armour and happily ever after.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

Is there a need for 'Ethnic' press?

As many of you may have already heard, New Nation (a paper that catered for African & Caribbean communities) has closed after its parent company Ethnic Media Group went into administration. The Eastern Eye, a paper for the Asian community under the same parent was sold and has plans to continue. There has been no buyer for the New Nation meaning that unfortunately it's sayonara.

What has inspired me to blog on this was an article by Angela Foster in The Guardian: Why we still need a black press. Interestingly enough, it wasn't the actual feature (taking nothing away from Foster) but the comments afterwards:

"This is racist...imagine a paper calling itself white and having a competition for the sexiest white people...its regressive and divisive...there's no black community just as there is no white community...put skin colour away and celebrate humanity...the media does give coverage to stories affecting the black community - Stephen Lawrence, racist chanting at football clubs, Obama..." I'm gonna stop because that last comment was

My argument is the same that I use for arguments against the MOBOs, Miss Black Britain and other initiatives aimed at celebrating ethnic communities: we live in a country where historically industries have been white. We are still not at a place where things are equal and we are all on an even playing field with fair representation. Will we ever get to that place, I don't know, but I do welcome ways in which the under-represented have a voice. In Ghana for instance, it is predominantly black (obviously) but for the other 'ethnic minorities' there (White, Indian, Chinese) I am sure that they would enjoy reading about issues related to them AS WELL AS mainstream Ghanaian press.

I think this is a result of the way we handle race issues in the U.K. In the U.S the issue of race is out in the open, it is discussed and everyone knows there are things that need addressing. However in the U.K with it's 'multi-cultural' emphasis, some believe that we are already doing so much to 'accommodate' and 'tolerate' (hate those words - sorry to be a burden) people of different races. Yes London is one of the most diverse places in the world but that doesn't mean that we will all immediately get along. It doesn't automatically mean that no one is bothered by race anymore. The 'I'm not racist, I have a Paki friend' attitude only hides the real issues that we have in this country and the growing frustration of some non-ethnics who believe that 'affirmative action' is getting put of hand.

PERSONALLY I wish that there was a way to have more integration. Specialist press has it's benefits, I don't disagree with that -mainstream press often fails to give the perspective that a niche offering can give. For instance, my Dad is a massive fan of Al Jazeera because it doesn't have that western influence. Speaking of Al Jazeera, they have just signed a partnership with the Independent to stream AJ content on the Independent website. This is exactly what I am talking about. Nobody I know goes to ONE place to get all of their news; I read the Guardian and other mainstream media everyday for UK and world news and go to the blogs and online sites to satisfy my other needs. To have all of this is one place would be integration at its best and I believe that partnerships and collaborations offline and online might be the way forward.

So much more to write about but I'm trying to avoid these essay type posts. Continue the discussion below with your thoughts - speak on it!!!


Friday, 16 January 2009

"Computer jee, lock kar diya jaye"

In case you've been stuck under a rock for the last year, I'd thought I'd let you know: Bollywood is taking over the global film industry. Plain and simple. AND I had this post topic sitting in my drafts way before the success of Slumdog Millionaire so I guess I was on the right track. Even though it was British directed and wasn't the traditional 'dance like you're screwing on a light bulb with one hand and patting a child's head with the other' type of film, the Indian theme and connections were at the core and I see a pattern forming. With Steven Spielberg and Will Smith, getting in on the action and stars like Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan becoming increasingly popular, I'm thinking traditional Hollywood needs to watch its back. British Indians are also getting in on the act with Deepak Verma (Sanjay from Eastenders) producing a Ben Stiller type comedy; I predict a spate of others will follow.

But where does that leave the black film industry? How have Bollywood films managed to retain a captive audience willing to pay for cinema tickets and DVDs to the extent that the industry is now challenging one of the oldest, big-money-making institutions in the world? Will we eventually see the same with Nolly/Gollywood?

Lets talk about black Hollywood for now or I'll be here all day. By that I mean, black cultural themes and directors/producers. You remember all those straight to DVD, I mean VHS movies when we were all a little younger. 'How to be a Player', 'Boomerang', 'The Players Club', 'The Wood', 'The Brothers' etc. But what now....will they still be wheeling out Gabrielle Union when she hits 75. The same old, boy meets feisty/angry black woman, breaks her down, they fall in love, an obstacle hits e.g. ex boyfriend, baby mother, shady past, halitosis - they overcome it and voila, movie done. However, I do enjoy myself a bit of Tyler Perry; Why Did I Get Married was thought provoking (the 80-20 rule - get to know) and entertaining at the same time. He's also brought us Madea's Family Reunion, Madea's Class Reunion, Madea Goes to Jail, Madea Tosses Salad, Madea Eats a Biscuit, Madea Takes a Dump, Madea DIES..ok I'm playing, I'll stop. But in terms of mainstream movies its more about black actors and actresses who have made it and feature in typical Hollywood type films - Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry (shouldn't Angela Bassett be in that list...I guess that's another post as well).

Perhaps black films can never be mainstream because by their very definition, it is a niche industry with a niche audience. But then you could argue that Bollywood was a niche and now it's on its way to the big time. I'll put it down to its uniqueness, it brings something new to the table while black films, (storylines and all) can easily be replicated perhaps.

As far as the industry being profitable enough to reinvest and grow, I'm not sure. Is it the audience that are to blame, with our pirates and not supporting 'our own'. We'll pay £8 plus to go to the cinema and see 'Sex & the City' but if 'Girlfriends' was doing a feature length film, would you pay £8 then? £6... no? Ok how about £3.50....anyone... £1.20... SOLD! A cinema ticket to see Girlfriends - sold to the person in the back who has no friends and absolutely nothing to do this Friday.

The UK is stepping up though, maybe that is where the black film industry is at now. Noel Clarke, no - I don't have a crush on him or anything MR GS, Skillset are holding numerous schemes and initiatives to get more ethnic minorities into film, young 'indie/Spike Lee-like' directors such as Jesse Lawrence are coming up through BFM's festivals and short film competitions etc. Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole are also moving into the film domain; with a film currently in production allegedly featuring 50 Cent, maybe their surplus cash from a weekend of football is the investment that the industry needs to train and subsidise young creatives who have the talent and innovation to think outside the box and create the blockbusters that we need and want. I'm looking forward to the next couple of years.

Your thoughts...

Keep on pushing (Dead Presidents, 1995)


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Fantasy Ride featured on IFB.

Hey people,
Fantasy Ride was featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers in a post written by Ronke Adeyemi of The Musings of Ondo Lady. She decided to write about the meanings behind blog names so click here to read about the weird and wonderful backstories to a few of our friends out there in the blogosphere. A big thanks to Ronke for featuring FR!!!


Sunday, 11 January 2009

Noel Clarke, the Rising Star

Hey, a quick one here.

Just to let you know if you haven't already heard, Noel Clarke of Kid/Adulthood fame (also Doctor Who and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet) has been nominated for the Orange BAFTA Rising Star Award.

Tagged as Britain's answer to Spike Lee he has definitely made a name for himself as a talent to watch. If you think he should win the award then click the link below to show your support.

What do you think about the film talent in the post: the black film industry!



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