Thoughts on aggressive readers

This is an old Facebook note that I thought needed a more public repost and a bit of a do-over. It springs from a discussion I had today with two of my colleagues – where somebody sent an email that read pretty much: “UNSUBSCRIBE ME FROM THIS FUCKING MAILING LIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Seriously, who do you think you are?

I’m tired of being yelled at by readers who think that an Internet connection means they are entitled to express every single feeling that they have – in as rude a manner as they possibly can. Thankfully, I like to think I’m pretty good at my job so I don’t get as many complaints as some people do. But when I do, it hits pretty close to home – even after three years on the job.

Some thoughts.

1) First and foremost… I’m a human being. I have feelings. Calling me stupid or suggesting that I’m bad at my job actually hurts. If I make a typo, you can point it out in a polite, constructive manner. “Holy shit who the fuck do you think you are how did you get your fucking job you’re obviously a fucking retard and this site fucking sucks and this is why I never come to this website”… Really? Is this how you would speak to a bank teller? A cashier? A doctor? A lawyer? I don’t think so.

2) Think before attacking me personally or before being aggressive or rude in a comment/email/Facebook post. I don’t sit behind your chair and call you names while you’re trying to do your job, do I? It amounts the same thing.

I’ve been called a cunt, a slut, a whore, a dumb bitch (amazing how much has to do with the fact that I’m a woman)…

3) If you don’t care, don’t read. Don’t comment. Please. Writing “Who CARES?!!!” on an article is just a waste of everybody’s time. [And clearly, you do care… You care enough to comment.]

4) On that note, I am fully aware that celebrity gossip is not everybody’s cup of tea. However, can we just agree that it is of interest to millions of people in South Africa and that it actually does deserve a spot on our website? Please?

It’s quite simple: If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

5) Lay off the Caps Lock, bad grammar and the truckload of exclamation marks. You really lose a whole lot of credibility when you use the above to point out my failings. (I actually had an email, in which a reader pointed out an error of mine, then ended her email with “PUH-LEEEEZ!!!!!!!!!!”)

6) If your comments are racist, homophobic or sexist or could be considered as any of these, I can and will delete them. If you continue in this manner, I will ban you. Even if you come back with another email address, I can (and will) find you and ban you again. And again. Don’t email me to complain – you should have read our Terms of Use.

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On having a slightly unusual name

There’s not much fun in having a slightly unusual name, truly.

My parents – and I do love them dearly – clearly thought the usual “Candice” would not suffice. Instead, somewhere – in the depths of a baby name book, I presume – found the variant “Candace”. Which, I’m sure, was accompanied by something along these lines:

Glittering white; glowing. History: The hereditary title of the queens of ancient Ethiopia.

All very awesome. The trouble comes with the way my name is pronounced.

You see, I pronounce it “Cand-ACE”. To rhyme with race. That’s what my parents named me, you see. Therefore, it is my name.

However, the internet will tell me it is pronounced “Cand-iss”, “Can-deh-key” and even, for some bizarre reason “Can-day-see”. Do you know how many people have pointed out that my own name was not pronounced in the “usual” way? (One of those people was Morgan Freeman. True story.)

Look, if your name was spelled “Diane” and you pronounced it “Dee-anne”, I’d be cool with it. Because that’s your freaking name. Likewise with “Kelle” and “Kelly/Keh-leh”. I’m not judging.

So, with a name like “Candace”, you can imagine how funny phone calls to my office are. “Hello, Candace speaking,” I’ll say. Person on the other end will usually respond: “Oh, hello Candice”. Or, more fun, are the debates we have over how to pronounce me name. They usually go like this:

“Hello, who’s speaking?”
“This is Candace.”
“Candice?”
“Candace.”
[I kid you not, this happened last week] “Sandrace?”
“CAND-ACE”.
“Oh, sorry Candice.”

FFS.

Never mind the written versions of my name. I’ve seen Candice, get “Candance” on a regular basis (even my Open Water 1 diving card reads Candance, it was a huge joke at that night’s braai. “Can you dance, Candace? Can you?”) and once I even had “Can”. As if they got stuck at the tricky part and gave up.

To add to the confusion, my brother still calls me “Candice”. Because when I was younger, I hated “Candace” so much that I basically bullied my family out of it. At high school, though, the teachers preferred to call me “Candace” – and it stuck.

However, in the interests of not going through life in an even larger ball of rage than I already do, if I can vaguely recognise it as my name, I’ll generally answer without comment.

Plus, to make everybody’s life that much more difficult, I spell my nickname “Candi”.

You know, for fun.

Cinema Etiquette

Cinema

Cinema by M4tik (flickr.com)

After months and months of waiting, I finally got to the press screening of The Hunger Games here in Cape Town. While the movie was absolutely freaking incredible and all I could have wanted in a big-budget, big-studio, PG-version of the books, I spent most of it trying not to shriek at the audience… other so-called film reviewers and entertainment journalists.

I was appalled at the behaviour of these people – arriving 15 minutes late (why did you bother, then?!), checking their cellphones, talking to the person sitting next to them…. WTF?! Anyway, this got me on to a topic I’m extremely passionate about (strangely) – cinema etiquette.

Going to the cinema is as close to a religious/churchy experience as I suspect I’ll ever get. It’s a sacred time for me, and I have my own set of “rituals” that I adhere to. All I ask of other people is that they don’t be a damned asshole.

And – behold! Tips on how not to be an asshole at the cinema.

Don’t talk through the movie

One of my favourite lines from Firefly – and from television of all time, I guess – comes in Our Mrs Reynolds. Shepherd Book tells Mal that if he takes advantage of his new “wife” “Saffron”, that Mal will “burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater”.

That’s pretty much my level of feeling for people who natter through a film. Damnit, if you want to chat – why are you watching a movie? And then, if you want to discuss the film while it’s playing (I hope that’s what you’re talking about, by the way) then just download the thing off The Pirate Bay or something and chat at home in front of your laptop where you can stop/start/rewind to your heart’s content. If you must talk, then whisper. Sparingly.

Don’t fiddle with your phone

This includes but is not limited to: Checking the time, making or taking a phone call, responding to or composing a text message or – and yes, I’ve actually seen this – playing Angry Birds.

See, while texting itself is relatively quiet, and I’m sure that you can turn the volume down on Angry Birds, it’s that damned light off your super-phone that  can also serve as the Bat Signal that is the problem. There is nothing more irritating than somebody’s flashing phone light in front of you in a darkened cinema.

And if common decency isn’t enough to put you off texting in the cinema, maybe this will: We can, and I will, read what you’re texting.

If you must take the call, leave the cinema as quickly as possible. Don’t sit in your seat and chat away. Seriously.

Arrive on time

Look, I get it. Sometimes traffic sucks. Or the line to get your popcorn and slushie is quite long. Or you need the bathroom and there’s only one working stall. It happens. In fact, it happened to me – twenty minutes ago, when I arrived in time to catch all the trailers and the start of the movie! (I know it must be a weird thought, but filmmakers actually do have a “beginning” of the film). You don’t have to be seated for the trailers – that’s a personal choice – but you had better be sitting as the movie starts. It’s disruptive for the rest of us – especially if you arrive 15 minutes late as we’re getting into it.

Sit in the seats assigned to you

Those little numbers on your ticket aren’t just for decoration, you know. In fact, there’s actually a meaning to them! Okay, I know this might be hard to follow so I’m going to go slowly. Right. Look at your ticket. See how there is the letter “C” and then the numbers “4-5”? Right, you see – no, move your thumb – there! Right, now look down the aisle. See, along the aisle, there are those little letters? “A, B, C, D…?” Right, go to “C”. Now, if you look on the seats themselves there are little numbers? “1, 2, 3, 4” – see, that’s you! and “5”! That’s you too!” Now, sit. Stay. Don’t move.

If the cinema has unreserved seating, it’s relatively empty, and there’s a blonde woman in glasses sitting near the end of the row, don’t sit next to her. That’s me. I will growl at you. There’s plenty of space, why do you need to sit on my lap? If the cinema fills up, I’ll happily sit next to somebody else – but only then.

Keep noisy eating to a minimum

Look, I love my movie sweets. The tip is simple – open the packet before the movie starts (see why it can be helpful to arrive on time?!) or wait for a super noisy part to open it. Hint: While the main character’s love interest is dying is not an appropriate time.

Think smart with your luggage

I am known for my giant handbags. It’s a thing. They need to be able to cart books around, you see. So if I can keep my luggage under control, so can you. Either keep your bag on your lap, on the empty seat next to you or under your chair. Not in the aisle, not in front of your feet where other cinemagoers can trip over it when they need the bathroom or have to take an (urgent) call.

Extra bonus tips, suggestions and pointers!

Kick my seat and die.
If your child can’t sit through an episode of Barney, they’re not going to make it through two-and-a-half hours of film. Don’t bring her. (Oh, and if your child is so young that the noise and lights in the cinema make her cry and you have to leave to change her nappy, then you have Failed at Parenting. Another true story)
Don’t sing. I’m very pleased you know the song. Just don’t sing.
Oh, and try and refrain from throwing food around the cinema. That’s just common.

I hate April Fools’ Day

But particularly, April Fools’ Day in the media.

Now, I realise that this is going to make me sounds like a pretentious, snobby, stuck-up bitch. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ve been called those names more times than I care to count. Once extremely publicly.

But wow. I hate April Fools’ Day. The jokes are pretty much entirely transparent, and the originality is diluted tenfold when posting in the social media space. I only saw two half-way decent attempts today. Most people post a variation of the “OMG! I’m pregnant!”/”Sarah is now listed as In a Relationship”/”Bob is no longer listed as Engaged” blah blah blah. It’s almost always lame. So I ignore everything that goes on Facebook the whole of 1 April.

But what ticks me off more than unoriginal crap on Twitter is April Fools’ attempts in the mass media. I work in the media and I steadfastly refuse to get involved in the fuckery. Why? A number of reasons.

1) As the media – and yes, maybe I’m still super-idealistic, but you know what, I don’t care – we have a responsibility to make sure that what we are is accurate and trustworthy. Playing a “prank” does not fall into that mandate. People are stupid, they largely believe what you tell them.

2) It dilutes the credibility of the rest of your content. That’s a non-brainer, really.

3) The world is getting smaller. Content is shared more easily. Your April Fools’ prank can go “viral” – and that’s not a good thing. Especially if it’s picked up by another media outlet (who yes, should be checking everything, but sometimes that’s not possible). Once that’s happened, are you one hundred percent sure your funny (for now) story is going to be revealed as a prank? Once the content’s out there, you’ve got no control over where it goes. And what if you’re Google?

4) It makes my life – as a wannabe-credible-producer-of-news-yes-even-celebrity-news-shuddup-I’ll-change-the-world-one-day – a living bloody hell. Why? Because I spend all day researching everything in case some wise-ass has decided to slip an April Fools’ Day joke in somewhere. Thankfully I’m pretty good at spotting them a mile away.

All of this hatred, of course, could stem from an April Fools’ Day joke some idiot kids played on me when I was younger. They tried to tell me I was adopted – which would have worked better if my mum hadn’t told me my birth story pretty much from the time I was five.

*I realise this is very rant-y. I’m tired and grumpy and pretty much everything is putting me in a bad mood this weekend. 

Bringing it back to the center

DaisiesThe last few days – and today, in particular – have been crazy. In an entirely unhealthy, largely destructive kinda way. And then, with my heart rate at easily 300, I sat down to blog. I opened WordPress, and under their “Freshly Pressed” section was this:“Ten Things I Learned From My Father”. And it brought me back to my center.

It has been over five years since my dad had his stroke, and the missing him and longing to have him back comes in waves. Sometimes I’ll be perfectly fine, ticking along as normal – then suddenly BAM! It hits me. So clear, so pure, so sharp, that I’m sure if I pick up my phone and dial a number I’ll hear his voice at the other end of the line. Telling me “Even, sweetness” and “I’m so proud of you”.

But while I remember happenings, stories he told, flashes of memories… Somewhere along the line I forgot the kind of person that he taught me to be.

First, he taught me to be brave.

He taught me to have a “rhino skin”, to not let everything get to me. He knew me too well, knew that I feel everything so acutely, that sometimes it’s just a bit too much. Words that other people brush off, haunt me. When people are harsh with me, I can’t just laugh it off. I hurt. He knew that I was a delicate little petal. He told me to develop a “rhino skin”. I had forgotten.

He taught me to fight. Fight for what I believed in. Fight for my rights. To not just step back and let everybody take what they wanted. (I needed to hear you say that this week, dad. So badly.)

He taught me to be the best I can be. Then he taught me to be better than that.

And he taught me that I was worth more than I thought. That I was precious, special, something to be proud of.

Damnit, dad. I am.

I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s collaboration

* A relatively rough rant. I may come back and edit it tomorrow. Or I may just leave it entirely. 

I have been ranting to friends/relatives/colleagues about this pretty solidly since yesterday morning, although I haven’t had the time to actually blog about it*.

*Which reminds me, I have a backlog of material – blog, work and personal – to get cracking on. I should probably invest in a day-planner. Do those things actually help?

I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s new collaborations.

I am not okay with the fact that in an attempt to “shock the world” (according to one of the producers, Kosine, on the remix of Birthday Cake), Rihanna has made a pretty public statement: It’s okay to go back to the man who abused you.

Court documents in Chris Brown’s 2009 trial made it clear that he beat Rihanna repeatedly. Photographs from that night – the night before the 2009 Grammy Awards – show a Rihanna that is almost unrecognisable.

Rihanna

Rihanna after Chris Brown's assault of her in 2009. <i>TMZ</i>

The recently released documents made for absolutely terrfying reading. You can read the full report on Perez Hilton’s site but I’ll give you highlights.

He punched her repeatedly, smashed her head against the window, bit her left ear and two of her fingers, threatened to kill her, had her in a headlock and tried to strangle her.

(And yes, all you Chris Brown “fans”, he was also injured. Those are called “defensive wounds”. You find them on rapists, murderers, robbers and abusers. They’re caused as the victim tries to defend him or herself.)

It’s been just three years since that night – and, in fact, Chris is still serving a five-year probation for the felony assault. He made an extremely controversial return to the Grammy Awards last week – he performed twice – and his appearance raised the ire of a number of celebrities, music fans and critics.

They questioned the appropriateness of his inclusion into the ceremony, and his reaction does not seem typical of a man who is remorseful of actions. He tweeted, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate FUCK OFF!”

And you know, in the interests of not stirring the pot without due cause, I kind of left it after the Grammys. It made my stomach churn to watch him parade around the stage, but I could have been being over-sensitive. It happens.

But then Rihanna tweeted her two collaborations with the man that beat her within an inch of her life. And I was unbelievably disappointed.

In 2009, Rihanna said: “I don’t want to be the big domestic-violence spokesperson, because that doesn’t define who I am. But if I can help young women in any way, and that being one of the things they need help with, then I’ll do that.”

Rihanna had a perfect chance – whether she wanted it or not – to make a statement, be a role model. She had the chance, through her actions, to say: What happened to me is not okay. What he did was not okay. I do not need to stand for it. I do not need to go back.

But these two songs have sent a very, very public message: I have forgiven my abuser, and want him back in my life. Even better, I can cash in on the controversy and the abuse.

These were my thoughts before I had listened to the remix of Birthday Cake. And yes, while Chris’ contribution to the song is keeping with the hardcore, S&M style of the original’s lyrics… Well, Jesus H Christ in a handbag, it is not okay for the man that abused you to be singing those lyrics. 

“Girl, I wanna f*** you right now. Been a long time. I been missin your body … give it to her in the worst way. Can’t wait to her blow her candles off.”

I was surfing for various opinions on the tracks, and an article on the Boston Herald site really stuck out. The author had interviewed one Wendy Murphy, who apparently teaches a seminar on sexual violence at New England Law School.

Her thoughts?

“I don’t even have words to describe the perversity of (the collaboration),” she said.

“The obvious message she is sending isn’t that violence is bad, it’s that you need to find a way to enjoy it. … Someone should confront her and say, ‘Women are dying from the same violence you are celebrating’.”

“To do a song with the man who beat the hell out of her is exploiting her own victimization for money,” Murphy said.

I am not okay with Rihanna’s collaboration with Chris Brown.

I do not care – and I suppose it is none of my business – whether she has forgiven him for what he did. I don’t think that I would ever forgive abuse dished out to me. I would never record a fucking song with my abuser. But that’s just me.

And if they are all happy-and-back-together? Well, for god’s sake have some tact about announcing it. Release a statement instead of dropping two unnecessarily controversial tracks. They both owe it to their fans – whether they think they owe anything to the people who keep buying their records or not.

Rita Smith, the executive director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, seems to agree with me.

She told MTV News (and I bold this for the tl;dr among you):

“I don’t know what the message is. I would like the message to be: People can change, and I will never be treated that way again and I will never treat anyone that way again.

“If they had released a song saying this is what this represents for us, that would be such a much more fabulous, powerful story than not saying a word,” she said.

Instead, Rihanna’s stand-alone collaborations with Chris Brown are a public statement – that she endorses the man that abused her.

Smith also said that, given Rihanna’s history with Chris Brown: “I think the message she’s sending is that the feelings of being in love are more important than your personal safety.”

Like so many other victims of domestic abuse, Rihanna returns. Convinced he has changed, perhaps, or convinced that she can change him.

And what if, like so many other victims of domestic abuse, it happens again?

Reaction to the 2012 Oscar nominations

Okay, so I feel a little like the “Leave Britney alone kid” but still…

No Best Animated Feature Nomination for The Adventures of Tintin?! Are you serious?!

Right, now that’s out of my system… (Okay, it really isn’t)

The 2012 Academy Awards nominations (you can see the full list here) were announced yesterday, but when I got home I discovered that my telephone line was broken and I couldn’t access the internet. (That’s my excuse for being slow on the uptake).

So, Hugo managed to rake in 11 nominations – including Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. I would love to tell you that I had seen the film and could provide an educated opinion, but my press screening was cancelled at the very, very last minute (as in, while I was standing at the cinema).

Anyway… Here are my thoughts, scribbled down as I go down the list of nominees.

Best Picture

I’m still backing The Artist. But Hugo is making me doubt myself. Will wait for DGA and WGA Awards first though. Also, I loved The Help but I didn’t think it would be Best Picture material. Best Actresses, heck yes. I would have liked to see a nod for Drive.

Best Actor

Quite stoked with the Gary Oldman nomination for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Shame (see what I did there?) about the lack of Michael Fassbender though. He does pretty up the red carpet. It’s hands-down Jean Dujardin vs. George Clooney… Still think Jean will take this one.

Best Actress

They couldn’t have picked a better group of women if they had tried. Very pleased with Rooney Mara’s nomination for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. She was outstanding. Still reckon Meryl Streep will nab it.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress

Um, Jonah Hill? Whaaaat? To be fair, I haven’t actually seen Moneyball yet, but he didn’t look any different from the trailer. Shall we start engraving Christopher Plummer’s name on the Best Supporting Actor trophy already? Also, glad to see a nomination for Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids. I’d love to see Octavia Spencer get the award, she was delicious in The Help.

Best Director

Pretty predictable fare here. Truly thought the Academy had forgotten all about Tree of Life, though.

Best Animated Feature

Okay, Puss in Boots over The Adventures of Tintin? Did Puss buy votes? (Or, in keeping with the theme of the film… Steal them?) It was good, not great. Although I do understand that the Americans didn’t get Tintin at all, I thought that the motion capture animation was beyond outstanding. Fine – I’ll move on to backing my second-favourite animated film of the year, Rango.

Miscellaneous thoughts

Yay for the nod for The Muppets song Man or Muppet. It is such a great moment in the film. Also encouraging to see a Best Original Screenplay nod for Bridesmaids – seems comedy may be growing on the Academy after all.