I May Destroy You

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I May Destroy You

A staggering 6 weeks ago, when lock down restrictions were beginning to ease, our TV screens and minds were illuminated by: ‘I May Destroy you’. I, myself, who fared badly from the pandemic, was starting to recover from a long tail case of Covid-19. This drama series was the primary broadcast I was desperate to watch. Its impact is set to last far beyond the 6 hours of air time which the BBC allotted. 

The main narrative centres around the rape of the Arabella; the feisty, strong-willed, leading lady. Michaela Coel who wrote starred and co-produced the series plays Arabella. The realistic screenplay leads us through flashbacks of her being raped. In reporting the matter to the Police they were able to establish that she had been subject to date-rape drugging. Perhaps not so realistic: the Police are shown to be professional, compassionate and supportive. Inevitably the case had to be shelved until a DNA match presents itself to the investigation. However, what is ground-breaking is we see Arabella: a hard-partying recreational drug user, convincingly being able to differentiate clearly between being secretly drugged, then subject to intercourse and simply, narcotic indulgence followed by consensual sex. At no point is the viewer directed to blame Arabella due to volatile lifestyle choices or to consider her to be unreliable as a consequence.

Arabella’ response to the violation could be considered from varied viewpoints. Promiscuity as a result of a sex attack liberated sex-positive behaviour or further examples of not fully consensual sex as a result of drug and alcohol usage. This leaves her vulnerable to a further sexual assault, interestingly in the form of stealthing: removal of a condom without the consent of the sexual partner. I and many viewers, male and female, were unaware that this was a criminal matter, the show was surprisingly informative.

We are offered some reasoning as to why Arabella’ sexual conduct presents us with a large variety of partners, many of whom are little more than acquaintances. The series takes us back to her infancy, parents who reside separately, but are still in a relationship. A father who indulges in a ‘Fancy Woman’ and to a degree, neglects his parental duties.

Breathtaking to see greater diversity on our screens, the main characters all being from ethnic minorities (Within the UK, not Globally). I found Arabella immediately appealing, the funky jacket and the wilds of pink hair. Terry, the loyal friend that every girl need to have, both are: fun, alluring, party goers. In opposition to this, the only more than minor white female: Theo, is overweight, unattractive and morally warped. A wondrous mid-series episode takes us back to secondary school, only done successfully in Romy and Michele’s High School Union during the late nineties. The retro-fun element of camera phones being new, hilarious in comparison to the multi-faceted smartphones of today. We see the only significant white, female character, falsely accuse a black man of rape. Equally to this, it becomes clear that Arabella’ rapist was white, herself being of colour. Is this a lesson for white supremacy, are matters being transformed in terms of traditional villain, victim roles in terms of race?

As a white female, I found some of the script a little isolating, the dialogue of:

‘I don’t like white people.’

stated by Terry. The scene in which Arabella takes extreme offence from being referred to as being from an ‘Afro-Caribbean background’ as opposed to simply of ‘African background’. This combined with making the medical professional linger while they shoot a podcast. This did not appear to be an act of standing up to racism, more the conduct of adolescents that belonged in a classroom seated next to Catherine Tate’s Vicky Pollard.

The range of taboo subjects brought to the drama was radical, in the extreme. The casual use of sanitary towels, menstruation no longer to be hidden and ignored. However, I found the scene in which she brings home a Man which she has just met in a night club off-putting. They endeavour to have intercourse while she is on her period. This combined with them both playing with her heavy, ‘Squishy’ discharge bordering on vulgar.

We are introduced to group sex on several occasions and internet dating, which pre-Millennial’s didn’t indulge. Significantly, the concept of social media addiction is raised, something we are all beginning to ponder over as a result of lock down and periods of isolation. Primarily, we are embraced by the subject of male rape, a major taboo, the public only being widely aware that this happened since the turn of the Millennium. Although the male rape scene was convincing, I was deterred by the response of the character. Devastation, regret and self-blame were not conveyed convincingly.

Although there were some downsides, this is a monumental step forward in challenging the many failings within our society; primarily rape culture. The ambiguity of the concluding episode adds to the mental turmoil over violation and redemption. The series instigated discussions and debate, a drama which will get us talking about rape.

Set to take the short trip over the pond, let’s hope Arabella & Co, can do the same for the Americans!

Watch the Series

Stealthing

Brit Pop Guitar

2 fingers

The Brit Pop Guitar is a sensation: Visual arts meets music culture with the dynamism of the Nineties which we all love to remember.

The iconic Union Jack which was imprinted on many of the bands of the era immerses within the surface of the guitar. A gritty rendition, presenting many blemishes, reflecting the disenchantment of the decade.

An unusual vision of beauty, the sexy NHS spec wearing girl, projects from the base with the same impact she made in the Pulp’ Common People music video.

Towards the lower section, we have a crowd at the festival which pre-dates Christianity: Glastonbury. Taking us back to a simpler time when entrance meant scaling the fence, away from the inflated cost of festival tickets commonplace within contemporary culture.

On the other side of the bridge, two fingers affront our focus. The insult which many, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, in particular, brandished throughout appearances. A decade which encountered economic decline, instigating uprisings of dissident activism. The generation which fought back against the raw deal they were inheriting.

Centrally we engage with the Oasis symbol, the motif printed over two levels, dominating the sound-hole. Rendering Britishness, red white and blue, backing the stretches of the guitar strings.

Negativity and dissatisfaction, prevalent of the era, is projected from the upper section:

‘Modern life is Rubbish’

A term coined by the staple of Brit Pop: Blur. The graffiti-style conveys the widespread anti-establishment dissatisfaction of the Nineties.

Butterflies flutter over the neck of the instrument. Our late Millennium radio stations were taken over by Richard Ashcroft of the Verve belting out:

‘Don’t go chasing butterflies.’

A sobering, reflective lyric in a time when heroin was being widely consumed across our nation. A drug which had not only engulfed our cities but had filtered out to our towns and villages.

The head-stock displays one of Noel Gallagher’s acclaimed anoraks. Oasis refashioned the anorak, making it desirable once again. Iconic of Britain, not only due to the protection it offers from our frequent rain showers, but equally re-visualizing the white on the red of the St Georges Cross.

The three-quarter sized Brit Pop guitar is set to make as much impact as its full-size contemporaries. A spectacular string instrument which reminds us why we still celebrate Nineties Brit Pop.

£350

Contact for more information.

 

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Britishness

Covid19Jack


As Covid-19 strikes our shores, looking to attack and kill many of us Brits we must question; What is Britishness? Britishness can be glorious, but equally, sometimes less appealing aspects. The extent of the British Empire at its prime to the realities of Post-Colonialism in modern society. The cultural heritage of our nation to the modern ethnic diversities in which we thrive.

What symbol could we select to represent ‘Britishness’. This could be the actual size of an item replicated on a smaller scale. A teacup and saucer jump into vision, possibly a post box or the now virtually redundant phone boxes once of British Telecom. Also in red: traditional buses which are still in service or modernised to a degree. Umbrella’s to represent the ever-present rain showers which engulf our shores, the nostalgic notion of vicars on bicycles. Equally, the symbolism potential of animals could be exploited, the frequently used lion to show strength from the Empire days. Alternatively, a bulldog, famed through Churchill and our victories during World War II. Would we look to incorporate the National Flag: Union Jack and the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement?

If you were asked to collate a statement around the theme of ‘Britishness,’ how would it read?

The concept of ‘Home’, the area in which you live and building, people and places of importance. Identifying with feeling around gender, ethnicity, class and regional background. Do women feel differently to men, do those from ethnic minorities feel as strongly ‘British’ as their white neighbours? Do white working-class opinions vary from those of the nobility? Will Scottish feelings about Anglo-centricity contrast to those of the English?

Whatever your feelings about Britishness, in this state of emergency we must fight off this virus, in isolation but equally in unison.