Why do we love Outlander?

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            Before becoming a successful TV show, Outlander was first of all a series of books written by Diana Gabaldon. It was then adapted for TV and it aired on Starz. Two seasons have been released, and two more are to come! How can we explain the incredible success of a TV show in which History is one of the main elements? The two characters named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe)? The historical events that are dealt with? The Scottish accent? The answer is: the whole package!

            Indeed, if you are tired to learn History – even though it is very exciting – with books, you can still watch Outlander as it deals with Scottish history, mixed with British history obviously. If you know a little bit the history of the United Kingdom, you perfectly know that one cannot go without the other. Thanks to its amazing actors, Outlander allows us to have a glimpse of the 1743 Scotland, during the Jacobite risings. Indeed, in 1688 the Glorious Revolution put an end to the reign of James II of England (also James the VII of Scotland) because he was a catholic king. Being a catholic sympathizer in England was unacceptable at that time. Consequently, it was William of Orange who took possession of the crown and got rid of James II. Because the Scots were supporting James II and wanted to see him back on the throne, they were responsible for Jacobite risings/rebellions to show their discontent. Let me tell you that if you watch Outlander, you will definitely fall in love with English and Scottish history as it is very accurate and incredibly well-done. The performances of Sam Heughan (Jamie) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire) but also from the rest of the cast are outstanding. It really seems like we are in Scotland, back in 1743 when we watch the show. It is shot in Scotland and landscapes are very impressive.

            Not only do we learn History by watching the show, but we also have a glimpse of what it is like to feel Scottish. Through the characters’ personality, we can witness their rebel sides and the rivalry that existed with the British. Their accent is also a good way to separate them from the chic – or even posh – British accent. It also puts forward the notion of “clans” not really well-known abroad. Some parts of the land were controlled by different clans. Those mentioned in the show are the MacKenzie clan or even the clan Frazer of Lovat (see the Crest on the right). As you can see, watching Outlander isscottish-clan-map-with-lallybroch-location like discovering a new world full of elements we might not be familiar with. The rivalry that existed between British people and Scots is well described thanks to one main character named Jack Randall. He is hateful, violent and he is a rapist. It gives quite a negative image of British soldiers and it shows that in a period of rebellions, not everything was black nor white for English or Scots.

            For now, the show is composed of two seasons. The first one mostly focuses on the matter of legacy. Jack Randall may be a horrible man, it does not mean that his descendant will necessarily be bad. Claire – the main protagonist – married him when she was living in 1945. However, she never could have married Jack Randall in Scotland, back in 1743. In season two, things are different. In order to prepare the revolution of 1746, Claire and Jamie have to go to France. Here, we wonder if it is possible to change the past in order to have a brighter future. The answer is, of course, no. However, Claire will still try to give her knowledge to Jamie and other Scots so that they could beat the English in the battle of Culloden (1746). At the end of the season, we understand that it did not help, because the Scottish king was defeated – again – in the battle by the English who killed a myriad of Scots. It was the last Jacobite rebellion, the most murderous one. Consequently, we can say that it gives us a certain lesson: we cannot change History. It is what it is. But we should learn the mistakes of the past so that we don’t make the same mistakes in the present.

1920x1080Finally, my last point deals with the loving couple Jamie & Claire that is formed all along season one, and maintained throughout season two. We cannot stop watching the show for one reason: we want – no, we must – know what will happen to them. We learn History through their eyes, through their partnership. At first, it seemed impossible. It is well-known that impossible love stories are always the strongest and the most passionate ones. This couple is the alliance of the past and the future and it creates a great chemistry between the two. Now, we will have to wait a few months more if we want to devour the new season of Outlander. The fate of Claire & Jamie is not cealed yet. Their lives will continue to make us dream, and their own history will surely continue to impress us for a long time.

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde: should we live with the darkest part of ourselves?

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Poster of the 1931 movie by  Rouben Mamoulian

            Published in 1886 and written by Robert L. Stevenson, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was a success right away. Before understanding that particular case, you have to wait until the last Chapter which offers Dr Jekyll’s explanation and revelation. First of all, we may think that Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde are two very different people; however the more we read the story, the more we eventually understand that they are the same man. By using a potion, Henry Jekyll could turn himself into Edward Hyde – his complete opposite, a monster. This story is incredibly well-written and must be dealt with here! While reading it, it raises a lot of questions and that is why I have decided to write that article.

            The character of Mr Hyde is very interesting since he is the embodiment of evil itself. Indeed, each time Jekyll turns into Hyde, a new body, a new mind and a new personality take possession of the doctor. Edward Hyde is in reality the reflection of Henry’s dark heart. This infamous creature does what human beings cannot. He is boundless, and he has no fear of the consequences of his actions (when he murders someone or hurt somebody for example). He has no morals. We could transcribe his situation by saying that if you want something, you take it, there are no rules and you are powerful. Nobody is holding you back, you are not controlled by anybody. Consequently, we can say that Hyde is a metaphor: he is the expression of our inner self, inner feelings – those that are hidden, forbidden or dangerous – the part of ourselves that we want to repudiate in order to live happy.

            Recently, the TV show Once Upon a Time has decided to divide one of its main characters – Regina Mills/ The Evil Queen – into two parts: the good part of Regina who isregina nice to others and means no harm; and the dark side of this character, also called the Evil Queen. The Evil Queen no longer lives within Regina who is “fully” good now (at least, we suppose). What is going to happen? The Evil Queen will only have one thing in mind: have her revenge… We can see how Jekyll and Hyde inspired the show and the influence it can still have today.

            On the other hand, the character of Henry Jekyll is the opposite of Hyde. He is the good guy, very respectable man and loved by everyone because he is kind and intelligent. Through this character, we can definitely wonder: who are we really? Are we actually wearing a mask like Henry Jekyll in order to appear flawless? We cannot trust what we see in other people: we all wear masks and we never show to the world who we truly are. Why? Because some things must stay private, we all have desires that frighten us. As a consequence, we do not want the others to discover those desires because we need to be loved if we want to exist, such as Henry Jekyll. The only way to be fully accepted by the world is to pretend all your life to be someone that you are not because you need to fit in.

            I will eventually give an answer to the question in the title: Should we live with the darkest part of ourselves? Actually, yes. And Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde are a perfect example we can use in the answer. At the end of the story, both died. But did they really exist once? Jekyll was not himself without Hyde, and Hyde was not really himself without Jekyll. Why? Because we cannot separate good from evil. Everybody has good and bad days, everybody has a dark side. We cannot and should not live trying to be flawless, neither should we want to be obnoxious to others. I think we need to discover the darkest part of our soul if we want to be whole. It means we should all know ourselves deeply before even pretending to be anybody. Besides, is it really possible to imprison one part of your soul – the darkest part – if you want to live peacefully? It is often said that “magic always comes with a price” (OUAT), as a seemingly “perfect” person always comes with flaws!

            Let’s take a last reference before ending this article: if we look at the fairy tale Beauty & the Beast: who is the Beast and why is it described as a Beast? Because of its bestial appearance. However, the Beast – who was once a prince – should not be described 3caf6d4ce59a103c9032d33c15077fbbby his physical appearance only. There is a man behind the beast, someone with a past who lived good and bad moments in his life. The Beast is just an appearance showing the darkness of the prince. It was a punishment. It is the embodiment of the prince’s dark heart. But at the end of the story, the Beast is no longer because good always prevails over darkness. So yes, we should definitely live with our own darkness and control it, because it is what makes us who we are!

Romeo & Juliet: the root of every love story.

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Painting by Frank Dicksee

          Who doesn’t know the famous line “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” pronounced at Juliet’s balcony in Verona? Of course everybody knows Shakespeare’s masterpiece Romeo and Juliet, first produced in 1595. For ages, Shakespeare stayed one of the most impressive author of his time. He is still studied in schools or at the university and his flame has never faded away. Romeo and Juliet is one of his most well-known piece of art, and it has been adapted in the movie industry (“Romeo + Juliet”, 1996; “Romeo and Juliet”, 2013…) Shakespeare lives in our hearts, as if he were still among us. In my opinion, Romeo and Juliet triggered the love stories everybody is familiar with nowadays. That is how the bard’s legacy is maintained. After all, who doesn’t fancy some love affairs that are impossible because they are forbidden? There is a myriad of movies and TV series that got inspired from Shakespeare. He seems to be the root of every love story that exists nowadays, at least most of them. Why? Because love stories are always impossible… at first!

            Alas, we need to be realistic. As a viewer of many TV series and films; I have to admit that when I discover a love story, it always galvanizes me because there is always a problem that will be solved at the end. If we take the example of “Twilight”. Let’s see, what is the relation to Romeo & Juliet? Bella Swan is a human, Edward Cullen is a vampire and Jacob is a werewolf. How can a human fall in love with a vampire – a creature that can survive by drinking blood and which is sometimes depicted as monstrous – or even with a 19031254werewolf?  Well in “Twilight”, Bella cannot live without Edward, she would give her life for him and she would do anything to protect him. At first, this relationship was forbidden: how can a vampire fall for a human, and vice versa? As Romeo, a Montague, could not fall in love with Juliet, a Capulet. Because it was forbidden, because of hatred and because life separated them right from the beginning by giving them two family names that would oppose them once and for all. “Deny thy father and refuse thy name (…) What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet,” (JULIET, Act II, scene 2). In “Twilight”, we could replace this opposition of family names by the opposition of “races”. They were not meant to be with each other because everything opposed them. But at the end… love was stronger than everything, as Romeo’s love for his Juliet.

            If I said to you “the Sharks” and “the Jets”, does it remind you of anything? “West Side Story” of course! This musical has become famous in the entire world for its songs and its love story between Tony and Maria. We witness two opposite gangs from different origins (Italian for the Jets and Puerto Rican for the Sharks) that face each other in order to control the streets of New York. Tony comes from one group – the Jets – and Maria is the sister of Bernardo who is from the Sharks. Don’t you see all the similarities between Romeo & Juliet and “West Side Story”, considered as the musical adaptation of the play, in which the introduction of some matters such as discrimination and racism are put in thewestsidestory2__140305174706 first plan? Shakespeare’s most famous love story allowed us to meet Tony and Maria. We all remember the line: “Make of our hands, one hand; make of our heart, one heart”. I can’t keep seeing the young Romeo and Juliet when I hear this song, it is obvious that it is a reference to the tragic end of the play, when Romeo takes his own life for Juliet, his soulmate, as he was not aware that she was actually alive.

            At another level, we could even consider that every true love story is inspired from Romeo & Juliet. If we look at another musical for teenagers called “High School Musical”, how can we say that it is related to Romeo & Juliet? Well because Gabriella Montez and Troy Bolton are from two very different groups: the nerds for Gabriella and the basketball players for Troy. No matter their differences, they will fall in love through the help of music. It seems that music is a powerful way to fall in love with someone! Anyway, we see those similarities if we look closely to other movies – and more precisely romance movies.

            Will Romeo & Juliet continue to make us dream, even centuries after its first publication? Nothing is sure, but I have an idea of the answer. A love story such as the one of Romeo & Juliet can never vanish into the air. By the way, Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice) has decided to create a new TV series that will air soon about the events that follow the end of Shakespeare’s play, inspired by Melinda Taub’s Still Star-Crossed. Yes, definitely, I think we will always talk about Romeo & Juliet…

“Let it go”: a coming out song?

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Everybody knows by now the incredibly and sometimes annoying song “Let it go” that was created for the Disney movie Frozen. It has become one of most famous songs from Disney and many parents must be tired of listening to it every single day since the movie was out. If I want to write an article about that song, it is because we can see much more to it that what we first think. Indeed, let’s just consider for one minute that “Let it go” is actually a coming out song… Would it be weird or not? I am not inventing anything here and through this analysis, I hope you will see what I mean.

Recently, we have learnt that Frozen 2 will be released in 2019/2020; but we have also learnt that Elsa, the main protagonist, could be the potential first gay princess in all history. Personally, I think it would be fabulous. I have been waiting for a gay princess for a very long time. Why? Because by excluding this possibility in the Disney movies, it means that the LGBT community is still excluded from our daily lives. And it is not possible anymore in 2016. Things must change and the best way to introduce homosexuality at an early age is to discuss it soon enough. Disney would introduce something wonderful that would allow the new generations to understand that being gay is okay. There is nothing wrong with it. What actually scares me is that parents don’t send their children to watch the movie if Elsa is gay. Because some people cannot understand that love has no gender, that love is a powerful source for everyone: gay, bi, lesbians, Trans, heterosexuals. It is normal to be gay. And until homosexuality is still seen as a disease, as something that we can choose, there will be no progress.

  • Anyway, after this short introduction, let’s see in details why “Let it go” could be considered as a coming out song. While Elsa is walking in the snow, here is what she says “A kingdom of isolation/And it looks like I’m the queen.” Let’s stop here and analyse this sentence: this kingdom of isolation can be seen as a metaphor for the world in which Elsa was living, in which she had to hide a part of herself because she was not accepted and she was even rejected. The parallel with gay people is that the LGBT community is not entirely accepted by the rest of the world. Some kids kill themselves because they are gay and because they think it is wrong. Consequently, whether you choose to accept yourself fully and you come out of the closet, or you choose to bury this part of yourself and take some time out of the world without anybody as Elsa did.
  • If we look at this: “The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside/Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried!” Am I the only one who thinks that it is like discovering your homosexuality? When you are a child, you keep it to yourself because you do not want your family to know, you do not want to be bullied because of it, so you keep it to yourself and hide it from the world. Here, Elsa says that she cannot keep it anymore, she must break free from this prison, from this pressure she had imposed on herself to keep it a secret.
  • Let’s focus on these two next lines: “Be the good girl you always have to be/Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know”. We can analyse the fact that the weight of society is very present in those words. Be a good girl, be a good boy, do as you are told, don’t break the rules, be like everybody else. This is the message that is conveyed through those lines. And Elsa decides to break the rules, no matter what. She finally accepts that she is different and that there is nothing wrong in being yourself. It is as a young gay teenager who decides that life is worth living, whether he likes boys or girls. Because sexual orientation is something private. It is not a choice, you just need to accept it and open your eyes. One step at a time.
  • Look at the refrain, it is even more obvious: “Let it go, let it go/Can’t hold it back anymore/Let it go, let it go/Turn away and slam the door!”. It means that at a certain moment in your life, you can’t keep wearing a mask, you need to be yourself because it is the most wonderful thing in the world. Those next lines: “I don’t care/What they’re going to say/Let the storm rage on” show that you need to stop thinking over and over of what the others are going to think of you. Because they are not you, because they can never understand you and because they won’t live your life for you. Only you are the master of your destiny.
  • As we progress in the song, we understand that nothing can ever stop you once you took the right decision: “And the fears that once controlled me/Can’t get to me at all!” You go against the world, it is okay. You go against your family and friends, it is okay. There are no other choices, you must go against every obstacle that is making you a prisoner of this world so that you can start living fully.
  • Finally, this verse is very powerful in meaning “Here I stand/In the light of day”. When you make the right decision, you are stronger than anybody else. Nobody can stop you. No more hiding, no more fears. You can now fully accept who you are and show your true colours to the rest of the world. Let the storm rage on, it will fade away one day or the other. But you will never fade away because you are standing as a true hero in the light of day. Even though sometimes life gets hard, cold and may scare us; it always gets better. Stand up, be the person that you are destined to be, and fuck those who are against you; they are not even worth the smallest part of your beautiful soul.

So? Don’t you think “Let it go” is a coming out song? A hymn for acceptance? And would it be a problem if Elsa was gay? You already know my point of view, I think it would just confirm everything that has been said here. And with the success of the movies among young and older people, it would a delightful idea and the first step towards a more understanding and accepting world.

How does “The Fall” manage to make us sympathise with a murderer?

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Started in 2013 on BBC Two, “The Fall” is a crime drama television series in which Jamie Dornan (alias Paul Spector) and Gillian Anderson (alias Stella Gibson) share the screen for the pleasure of the viewers. Two series have been released and the third one is coming soon! But how can we explain the success of this show in which we cannot wait for the murderer to do the next move? Anyway, “The Fall” which has won many awards until now (the last one for the “Best British Crime Writing” in 2015) will soon be back with its final series.

As the first series focused mainly on how Paul Spector killed his victims, and the second series on the consequences of his actions, what will the third series bring to the viewers who ask for more? The show has managed to keep its audience since 2013 thanks to the greatness of its plot, but also thanks to the complexity of its characters. We passively witness Paul Spector’s actions claiming that what he achieves is completely awful. Yet, we feel close to him and we know we will be saddened to leave him when the series is over. How can the creators of the show have conceived a character whose personality has such an impact on us, viewers of the world?

The answer is that the murderer could be you, me, your neighbour or your father. Indeed, Paul Spector does not have the appearance of the most wanted criminals of the planet. He is the father of two young children, he has a well-paid job and he is married! Paul Spector looks like the perfect husband and father, but is in reality the serial killer everybody fears. When the detective Stella Gibson becomes more and more haunted by this investigation – and so are we – we cannot just leave her there with it, we must see and we must find out what will happen to the killer but also to people around him. We can then understand that one’s life is never all white nor black. We must never forget that there is always a little bit of darkness in everyone of us, even if this part of ourselves is hidden and burried somewhere.

Moreover, “The Fall” is not afraid of showing the harsh truth of life. A detective’s life cannot end when the day is over. Policemen cannot let go when they need to sleep. The series depicts the difficult life of those fighting for the law to be respected, and for the people to be protected. However, detectives are not invincible. Stella is the perfect example of the investigating officer who wears a mask in front of everyone so that nobody will really discover who she is… except for the killer himself! Their lives are deeply intertwined and it does not let us indifferent.

The end of Series 2 allowed us to have a glimpse of what might happen in Series 3. Will Gibson and Spector face each other again? Will secrets be revealed? Or will this investigation eventually be over?

Has Brexit led to the opening of Pandora’s Box ?

123Copyright 2012 Addie Hirschten

The most important topic of the moment is Brexit – the fact that the United Kingdom is definitely leaving the European Union. It was a surprise for most of us, European people. Indeed, even in England, those who voted to leave the EU now regret their choice because they did not believe that it was going to pass. But it did! Will this exit lead to disastrous consequences in the UK? It is too soon to affirm such a thing. We must bear in mind that a lot of poor or middle-class people are living in Britain, and they could suffer from this new economic situation. The pound is weakening, day after day. Racism or xenophobia is becoming more considerable in the country. All this leads us to wonder: has Brexit led to the opening of Pandora’s Box?

A quick reminder for those who do not know the myth: Pandora was given a box by the Gods and was told to never open it. However, her curiosity finally won over the Gods’ demand and Pandora opened it. What came out of the box? Disease, hardship, poverty. No treasure, nor richness. It was like a curse after all. If I deal with Pandora’s myth, it is because Brexit is linked to it in a certain way. Indeed, after the announcement of the results, a wave of racism and nationalism appeared in Britain. Well, did it appear or was it always there but hidden in the dark?

One of the main reasons for Brexit was the matter of immigration. If the majority of people voted to leave, it was partly against immigrants. It gives us a dark image of the UK. But don’t worry, not all of Britain is racist neither xenophobic! And not all of the voters who wished to leave were racists too. I guess misinformation pushed them to leave. They did not know all the consequences that it would have upon them. They were presented positive aspects of Brexit and the negative ones were shut down. Maybe politicians’ fault… Now, because of Brexit, the country is not what it used to be. At least, the status of the UK will change, politically speaking. Moreover, it could have disastrous consequences on the lives of Brits who strive all year to earn the necessary for their survival. And what about the expatriates elsewhere than in the UK? They will be completely torn from the country they love and told to go back to the country of their birth, maybe a country they cannot connect with anymore. Brexit imprisoned them by forcing them to go back “where they belonged”! Where is the freedom to choose the best options for your life now?

Brexit may be favourable for Britain in a few years, but it has triggered an amount of reconsiderations in other European countries. Was it the first step toward the end of the EU? Are we going to let our children a world made of individuality and where the force of the collective is inexistent? “Chacun pour soi” isn’t it? According to the myth, what remained in Pandora’s Box was hope. So let’s hope that everything is going to be alright then…

 

Orlando massacre: when will this stop?

When the world is crying…

Sunday, 10:00 pm: this is when I learned the news. The whole world was crying for a new massacre, a terrorist attack. I quickly turned the TV on and the BBC was talking about it, over and over. They dealt with the victims on TV, they dealt with the terrorist, they dealt with The Pulse; and I could not stop thinking of what had happened that particular night. I was horrified, who wouldn’t be? We are living in 2016. Killing gays, lesbians, bi or trans people because of their sexual orientation is disgusting and despicable. Killing a human being is unforgivable. It is not human to kill.

Because the world was crying for the loss of their brothers and sisters, I was also mourning these people I did not know but yet I felt close to them. We all belonged to the same world, to the same community. How can we try to go on in life if something is always bringing us down? Today, I hope that homophobic attacks will stop, once and for all. Am I being realistic while saying this? I have no idea. What I know is that I am being a dreamer, as I have always been.

I am tired of crying because of homophobia. Yes, we all know that it gets better. But still, homophobia kills in 2016. The Orlando massacre is an example of the horrors and terrors that still exist against the LGBT community. Today, we stand up together because nothing and nobody will ever put an end to our pride. They will never take back what we deserve and what we won. No matter how hard it must have been for you, together we are stronger. Solidarity will help us get through this because we can do a great amount of things united as one.

When I look through the window in a pensive mood, I cannot help thinking of all the souls that are in a better place now. They did not die for nothing, and they will all live in us forever. Because they died for being who they were destined to be, we are going to live to show them that no matter how hard it can be, we will survive in this world being the person that we are. We are going to be proud of ourselves, as they were proud themselves. And we are going to overcome this terrible experience.

Our life is full of surprises, good or bad, but we must keep in mind that what does not kill us, makes us stronger. Today, I feel stronger, even if I am weakened and saddened by what happened. A part within me is filled with a wound that will never heal but you know what? There are lots of other parts of myself that can cover this wound with joy and happiness and pride. Even if the wound will never disappear, it can be healed by love, pride and life.