Award Shows- A Diversity Problem

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They are some of the most glamourous events of the year. Actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers, costume designers and creators gather in a fancy setting, wearing beautiful dresses, sipping on champagne and celebrating each other’s work in film and TV over the last year. This time last year the same thing was happening, something we look back on now as some of the last days we were able to be in big groups, sit in theatres and hug each other. This year, with the evident delays and the obvious changes taking place, the award ceremonies are looking very different. The Golden Globes have been the first to adapt to an online ceremony, with the actual in- person audience made up of key -workers on socially distanced tables. The stars sat at home, logged into a Zoom call; he best part about it for us watching from home definitely being able to judge their homes and interior design. Some surrounded by family members, some sat on their own (I felt sorry for those! A little anticlimactic perhaps?) But whilst all these adaptations were being made to make it possible for an award ceremony to go ahead during a pandemic, a much more insidious sickness was evident, and has been evident since the beginning of this tradition. The lack of diversity and the racism in the industry which is highlighted every year at these glitzy events.

The nominees being made up of predominately white actresses, actors and directors, with some categories being entirely white. This is nothing new, each year with each ceremony it is a recurring theme with outcries of how lacking in diversity the categories are. Disappointed but not surprised is the general feel each time the nominees are released and all white categories have been able to pass. This is obviously the result of a systematic racism that seeps into all industries, workplaces and careers. Who is and isn’t getting a seat at the table? With not one single black person in the HFPA, the answer to that question is clear. And so in lies the root of the problem. But how do they keep on getting away with this? It’s the same every year and as soon as we see a little glimpse of hope for progress, we then seem to take huge steps backwards in the opposite direction.

However, I cannot speak to this problem without highlighting some of the incredible performances and wins of black actors and actresses this year, who will have worked a hundred times harder than their white peers to have the recognition they deserve. This year at the Golden Globes, Andrea Day won Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her role in  “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday,”. With this win she became the first black woman to win the award in 35 years, and the second black woman to win at all after Whoopi Goldberg in 1986. This highlights the deeply rooted racism held within the structures of the awards that are given. The winner of the Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama was Chadwick Boseman for his role, and wonderful performance, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. This win had an extra tragedy to it as his widow collected the award on her dearly departed husband’s behalf, making his win and this moment even more poignant and moving.

Two black performers winning Best Actress and Actor seems the progress needed is being made. And their victories should be celebrated. Daniel Kaluuya also celebrates his win of Best Supporting Actor. John Boyega won Best Supporting Actor – Television. And unlike many previous years, Chloe Zhao won Best Director of a Motion Picture, with three women nominated in the category, for the first time since Ava DuVernay’s nomination in 2015.

But the problem pertains as the categories continue; Best Supporting Actress nominees, Best Actor and Best Actress for Television Motion Picture, Best Television Actor and Actress for Drama Series and Best Supporting Actress Television were all white.

In their opening speech, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler poked fun at the fact that the HFPA is so white and male, and at a lot of the films and series that were nominated, with Poehler calling them ‘a lot of flashy garbage’, before they highlighted the black actors and black-led projects that were being overlooked. Jane Fonda similarly called for a change, questioning which stories we respect and elevate and which we tune out, pointing out who gets to decide not only who is awarded, but what gets made and who gets hired in the first place. This emphasises the award seasons as the tip of the iceberg that reflects the inner workings of the industry. Though Black, Asian and minority-led work is getting made, it’s not getting recognised to the same level. For example, it was extremely disappointing and frustrating to see the powerful and complex work of Michaela Coel, who wrote, directed and starred in ‘I May Destroy You’, an original series depicting her own trauma and offering a nuanced conversation surrounding sexual assault, go unnoticed.

Sterling K. Brown, whilst presenting an award with This Is Us co-star Susan Kelechi Watson, also noted the imbedded racism, purposely stating ‘It is great to be black at the Golden Globes,’ before correcting himself ‘back at the Golden Globes.’

This is nothing we haven’t seen before. On the 15th January 2015, the Oscars announced their all white nominees, leading April Reign to start #oscarssowhite. Two consecutive years of Oscars nominees being all white led Reign to state, ‘one time you could call a fluke, two times feels like a pattern.’ (The New York Times) With the hashtag trending and gaining notable traction, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the academy 2013- 2017, criticised and questioned the Academy; ‘The statistics showed that our membership was 94 percent white and 77 percent male. People would say to me that it wasn’t on purpose, and I would ask them: Are you sure?’ (The New York Times).

By 2019, a change felt palpable. It was obvious there was a want in audiences for diversity in the movie-going experience. ‘Get Out’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Coco’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ were films that became box office hits, and that year this was actually represented in the Oscars with a record of 13 winner’s of colour. This proved there is a desire for a multitude of a diverse range of different stories, experiences and perspectives. The data is there. And for once, so was the recognition of that.

That year Spike Lee recognised the change thanks to the work made by two black women: ‘If it were not for April Reign’s hashtag and Cheryl Boone Isaacs being president — the work of two sisters — I would not have an Oscar.’ (The New York Times)

So by 2020 there was hope in the air. But it didn’t look like much progress had truly been made. Just as having Obama as President didn’t solve the deep-rooted racism in the US, and the world, one year of success for black artists didn’t solve the issue present for some many years before. Only one performer of colour, Cynthia Erivo of “Harriet”, was nominated and prominent films of the year with female directors were ignored such as Greta Gerwig of “Little Women,” Lorene Scafaria of “Hustlers” and Lulu Wang of “The Farewell,”. And we saw this pattern again with the Golden Globes this year.

The Oscars will be announcing their nomination on 15th March so it remains to be seen if they have committed to any progress, especially after the rallying call of #BlackLivesMatter this summer and a demand for more representation and diversity on our screens. We will see if the demand for change is met with any significant progress made. But there is a certain sense that if these award ceremonies don’t get it right, if they continue the way they have, disappointing and frustrating audiences, they will be left behind in a culture that must move forward and recognise the work, creativity and talent of all.

By Maya Nardoni

References

https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/oscars

https://www.goldenglobes.com/winners-nominees/2021

https://www.ibtimes.com/andra-day-first-black-woman-win-golden-globes-best-actress-award-35-years-3153978

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/movies/oscarssowhite-history.html?ref=oembed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBYEUSvDzac&ab_channel=Access

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

97%

Image by Julie Sanford

As a daughter and a mother to sons, this article is difficult to write. I do not wish to label all men as threats to women. However, it goes without saying that the freedom afforded to my sons is not extended to my daughters. At fourteen and sixteen, they have both already been exposed to inappropriate sexualised behaviour, as I had before them and my mother before me. Recent research suggests as many as 97% of women have experienced inappropriate sexual interaction. This can happen anytime anywhere. Pubs and clubs come with their pitfalls. As women, there is an unwritten code that if we feel a man is zoning in on a friend, we work together as a collective to keep that person out of their reach. Like a carefully orchestrated dance routine where the intended victim becomes encased inside our circle.  Unfortunately, this is not restricted to 18+ venues, the threat stretches far and wide. It can occur on buses, in parks, classrooms, and homes. This problem is not a problem for women but females, regardless of age. Often a younger girl is a more desired victim. Hence why I will not allow my daughters to walk home alone after dark. A school uniform is almost like a red flag to some men. I use the term men loosely. These are not men but sex pests and perverts disguised as men. People who feel that young girls are there to be intimidated for their pleasure. This is not a new problem, it is age-old and I do not know how to fix it. Perhaps talking about it is the answer. Making every son, father, nephew, or husband aware that their female relatives are intimidated and scared in certain situations, this is not a fear built on fairy tales but one brought on by experience. Their mother, sister, daughter, and wife have been exposed and subjected to disturbing behaviour. If these women are lucky it may have just been an inappropriate comment, the lesser of the potential evils. But others are not so lucky those such as Sarah Everard. A woman like many before her who took the journey home with fingers crossed hoping today was not the day. As females, we have a different set of rules which are dictated to us by the monsters and the perverts. Even the most headstrong and competent woman will feel fear when their personal space is intruded upon. This does not make her any less competent. It means that she has most likely learned from a previous experience. Women are not inherently afraid of men; it is a learned behaviour developed from exposure to abuse. As a society, it’s time to talk, to discuss the problem. Let the world know that we are survivors. Teach our children that the best way to stop a problem is to break the cycle. It’s not okay to intimidate anyone. It is not okay to touch anyone without their permission. It is not okay to hurt or harm anyone.  From the building sites to the classrooms, the wolf whistles to the revenge porn. The indecent exposer or groping, the rape and the murder. What if that was your daughter, mother or wife? The chances are it has been. 97% is a huge number, a true pandemic. The time for change is now.

By Julie Sanford

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Why Animated Representation Matters

Source: https://henchman4hire.com/2019/01/09/6-thoughts-on-the-first-season-of-she-ra-and-the-princesses-of-power/ (accessed 28 Feb 2021)

With the multitude of live action movies that Hollywood has been giving us as of late, it almost feels refreshing, in a sense, for anyone to just sit down and enjoy the art that lies behind the work of animation. Animation, in itself, is beautiful. Due to the creative freedom that this sort of medium offers, artists can explore its potential to its extremes with the ‘simple’ touch of a pencil. For instance, take a look at Spiderman into the Spiderverse. The colours, the backgrounds, the action scenes and everything that makes up this movie is simply astounding and, most likely, impossible to replicate in a live action movie. And still, while both forms of art deserve their due credit, animation should also be appreciated as its own kind of media. Given the extensive labor that goes into every possible movie or series that we have collectively watched on TV as children, or even as young adults today, animation keeps on engaging people in the way that it narrates stories through its astounding visuals and overall composition. From the script writing to the storyboards, characters and world design, animation has been giving us incredible stories for us to tell today and for years to come, oftentimes creating something so beautiful out of a blank piece of paper. 

Animation, as a form of art, has always been able to give us a story to tell, stories that we keep on narrating to this day. You don’t even need to be an avid animation-watcher to know of the many movies that have shaped us to this day. For instance, if you were to ask of Disney’s remarkable 1994 animated movie The Lion King, almost anyone would be able to talk about the impact it has had on its audiences to this very day. The history and reputation that precedes this form of art is truly remarkable to even look at.

And yet, among all of these romances, adventures and even tragedies that the world of animation has given us, as viewers, there’s also been a recent and sudden spike of representation awareness within its medium. Amid these, LGBTQ+ representation has started to bloom in some of these stories.

LGBTQ+ representation has always been a rather sensitive subject within the entertainment business, for animators and filmmakers alike, to delve themselves into. As a child, I don’t remember seeing any of it on tv, and whichever character I felt could be a member of it sparked out of a personal interpretation rather than being something that was confirmed by the end of the series. In the last decade or so, however, it’s been interesting to witness the slow rise of gay representation within our media, to a point where now it almost feels like a trend to have the ‘gay best friend’ character witness what happens throughout the course of the protagonist’s story. As a matter of fact, while it is rewarding to see LGBTQ+ characters on our screens, it is also important to portray them in a way that feels true to someone who is a member of the community, as to make them a genuine and heartfelt character. Nonetheless, as stated before, it’s also been interesting to see how the rise of gay representation in animation came to be. As a matter of fact, we have had quite a number of shows, particularly during this past decade, that featured a series of gay characters varying from shows like Sailor Moon, Steven Universe and The Legend of Korra, to name a few. Netflix’s Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts made quite the steps for the LGBTQ+ community, as it is the first animated series to have a gay man state his homosexuality on the main screen. And while it may seem odd to mention something that would feel mundane to some, a moment like this really works wonders for a world that still seems to be skeptical for a character to use the word “gay” in a child’s animated TV show. Nonetheless, all of these series have worked, in one way or the other, in the making of space for LGBTQ+ people to find themselves within this form of medium. 

However, while all of these shows made significant steps in promoting LGBTQ+ representation to be more present within the field of animation, there’s been a series, in particular, that recently stood out the most amongst many, when it comes to the representation of gay individuals within an animated show. And that series is Netflix’s 2018 reboot of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. 

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power follows the story of Adora, a young girl who is able to turn into the legendary hero, She-Ra. The story follows her many adventures, alongside her friends, Glimmer and Bow, in the insidious fight against the Horde, led by Hordak, a man who wished to control Adora and her friends’ planet for himself. The series goes through this rebellion, while focusing on the two protagonists that ultimately shape the story and ending of this show. These two characters, being Adora and Catra – Adora’s childhood best friend – now turned into her rival for most of the series. It’s important to emphasize how this show not only includes representation from all points of view, as it features LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, etc, but it is also important to underline how the story is physically shaped around the dynamic between Adora and Catra who, as confirmed by the creator, Noelle Stevenson, are both lesbians. While this may seem like something minor to some, it is remarkable for a series to feature two gay protagonists who, as main characters, are also the catalysts of the show, shaping the story around not only their dynamic, but also their sexualities. This is something that has never been seen on a mainstream platform like Netflix, or within the world of animation itself.

In a way, it is nearly groundbreaking to see two lesbian characters being protagonists of their own animated show, bringing into perspective the way that this kind of representation can be deeply impacting for people across all ages, who may have gotten the chance to watch this show. Whether they’re children, young adults, or even older audiences that did not have the chance to watch something like this as a child, this show delves into topics that can be explored for people of all ages. Seeing a gay couple shaping the progress of a story was something that, personally, felt so unreal that it nearly brought me to tears. Not only are the protagonists and many, if not all, characters in this show members of the LGBTQ+ community, but their stories and portrayals are also done in a way that stays true to whoever is a member to this same community. In a sense, it feels real. It’s not for a comedic purpose, or used as the end of a joke, otherwise, it’s something that grows and shapes them into the characters that they become by the end of the series. Stevenson even commented on this, saying that “the characters all began with a deep personal flaw, and the process of making the show was kind of giving them the room to process those flaws. But we wanted it to feel organic. We wanted the characters to feel like real people that we knew.” To see these characters develop over the course of a whole series, truly felt magical in a way, as if, for once, the spotlight’s been brought on to these LGBT characters that can shape the outcome of the final story. And, to avoid spoilers, I will limit myself in saying that the story was carried out beautifully, making the watch really worthwhile.

Alas, while it is emotional to see these kinds of stories pop up in our everyday media, it is also important to underline how it is still difficult for this type of representation to make it on to the big screen. As stated by Stevenson in an interview with the Rolling Stone, it was quite a challenge for them to get this story done the way they wanted it to be done. “I really wanted it to be so central to the plot that if at any point they were like, ‘Oh, we changed our minds, we want to take it out again,’ they wouldn’t be able to, because it would be so baked in […] The temperature is not always right, and depending on what’s happening in the world, not everyone wants to be the studio that sticks their neck out and makes a statement like this. You will get a flat ‘no’ sometimes. But if you bide your time, or you come at it from another angle, that can change. You just have to keep pushing.”

You have to keep pushing.

She-Ra and The Princesses of Power has pushed boundaries that no other series has ever done before. Not only did it work on plenty of LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, making them feel real and substantial, but it also featured two lesbian protagonists, centering the story around their dynamic and romance, while ultimately leaving us with an ending and a reputation that will be narrated for the years to come. And while the industry still has a long way to go in terms of representing minorities within its media, it truly feels rewarding to see something of this nature on our very own tv screens.

By Francesca Adamo

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

The Fight For Independent Media

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Recently, an event occurred in Poland which saw the Polish government attempting to control the flow of independent media in the entire country. Due to the fact that this was a pivotal moment that was mostly ignored by international media even though it carries extremely heavy complications to the rights of Polish citizens, I decided to write this article as a way to summarise the situation and offer my own opinion on it. So without further ado, here’s my take. 

On Wednesday, 10th February, a nationwide protest occurred where almost every major independent media company operating in Poland ceased their operations for the whole day. Instead of news articles, reviews and gossip columns, black screens were displayed with the simple tagline: “Media Bez Wyboru” translated as “Media Without A Choice”. The same was found when turning on the television. TV shows, news broadcasts and other programmes were replaced with quotes such as “Here should have been your favourite programme”. With the use of such shocking and drastic imagery, many people simply wishing to read the morning online paper or to tune in to watch their favourite soap opera, begun to question the case of this strike that seemed to have taken over every channel. The only channels still working seamlessly and according to the normal schedule was the public-funded Polish BBC equivalent TVP and all of its sister channels. Similarly, the case was the same when surveying the social media and websites of other media companies that have become synonymous with being labelled the “state media”. So what really happened? And why is this whole situation so important that it warrants such a response?

A week before the strike took place, the governing Prime Minister announced that a new tax is being considered which would force independent media companies to pay a tax on their advertising revenues. The issuing of the tax was backed up by the claims that the money collected from the tax would be used to support the national health care system. While the tax is yet to be officially implemented, the majority of independent media outlets have already signed a petition to stop the change taking place arguing that the government is using the pandemic to justify the need for the tax. It can be argued that if the tax money would be going to a good cause in fighting Covid-19 which should be every country’s priority at the moment, nonetheless, it is imperative to also consider the fact that this may not be their main focus. In fact, implementing such a high tax on advertisements which are the sole source of income for independent media companies could over time lead to financial troubles potentially resulting in closures of many of these media sources. Although TVP (the state media company) would also have to pay the tax, due to the fact that it receives government funds, the company would consequently not suffer. 

So now that I have presented the logistics of this new tax, what are the actual long term consequences? Why would it matter if a few companies shut down due to the inability to pay? Though the introduction of the tax was made to look harmless and to serve as a simple tool to benefit the country in this testing time when big media corporations are still earning generous paychecks, we can’t only analyse it from this angle. The weakening of independent media companies through the use of the tax opens up dangerous possibilities of less free media outlets that are not controlled by the government, making it easier for state-run organisations to have a larger outreach to the public. Through the use of government-funded media, the citizens of Poland will and already have been fed indoctrinated information. Government-run organisations are already known to spread exaggerated or even manipulated information to show the current ruling party in a better light while diminishing its competition. While this is not technically illegal, getting rid of competing media that may offer a different perspective or call out the inaccuracies would mean that it would be much more difficult for individuals to know the truth or simply find the alternative way of thinking. Essentially, the introduction of the tax is a ploy to gain more control over what is said and thought by the citizens of Poland in a way to sway them in one direction that is more favourable to the current government. Ultimately, independent media have taken it upon themselves to act quickly in order to prevent the tax from occurring. 

The ability to easily seek out different opinions on a certain argument is something that can often be taken for granted. It is not something that we think of as we absentmindedly change the TV channels from BBC to ITV in the press of a button. However, what would you think if that option was taken from us? What if we were given one channel, one newspaper and one radio station to spoon-feed us the information that one individual has decided upon? Every citizen around the world should have the ability of free speech so long as we use it wisely and do not cause anyone harm resulting from it. So why should it be any different in Poland? For now, it may seem that only small steps are being taken and if the tax is yet to be implemented we should not treat it seriously, however, if we ignore the little things, it will be much more difficult to control the situation once it escalates.

By Bogna Bućko

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

How Bon Ton can get you out of uncomfortable situations

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Have you ever been in that situation where you didn’t know whether you should tell a person in front of you that they have something stuck between her teeth?
Have you ever been introduced to someone and you didn’t really know wether you should shake hands, or just smile or say something?
Well, bon ton, or “good manners”, are here to help you. First of all, what is it? Bon Ton is a set of rules, a protocol, that people from the bourgeoisie had to follow back in the days. Nowadays it is strictly followed only by royals or at very formal events. However, sometimes it is useful to know how to behave.

Here are some of the rules that I believe can still be considered relevant in modern times:

1. If you are hosting a party at your house, therefore you are the host, you have the responsibility to make the introductions. Remember, it’s the person with the lowest level that should be introduced to the person with the higher level. For example: Your partner should be introduced to your parents and never the opposite. When the guest arrives, you simply take him or her to the group and say “ Dad, let me introduce you my girlfriend Sarah”. Or if you have to introduce a colleague to your boss: “ Mr. Smith, this is my colleague Frances Lewis, who is in charge of the accountability”. Remember, you never use appellation such as “Doctor, Sir” etc. Unless you are introducing a member of the nobility.

2. If someone you are speaking to has something stuck between their teeth, you have two options.
If you don’t have enough confidence with that person you just don’t say anything, but also you avoid staring at the mouth hoping that they will notice and understand. You don’t want that person to be embarrassed, so just pretend you didn’t notice anything.
If that person is your close friend, take advantage of a moment alone and nicely tell them about it. But be careful, nobody else should listen otherwise your friend will feel embarrassed.

3. Do you know the difference between a proposal and an invitation? Let’s say you plan to go to the cinema with your partner, and you want your friend Mark to come too. Should you make an invitation or a proposal? If you were to invite your friend, know that you might be expected to pay for him. Otherwise, if you want everybody to pay for themselves, you need to make a proposal. Here is an example of an invitation: “ Me and Jeff would like to invite you to the cinema on Saturday to watch the latest Woody Allen movie, may I take the ticket for you too?”. If this is the case, you should be at the cinema with Mark’s ticket in your hand 5 minutes before the time of the appointment. You don’t want Mark to see you buy his ticket in front of you, it would be not…chic.
If you want to only make a proposal, you might say “ Jeff and I are going to the cinema on Saturday, if you would like to come too we can meet outside at 3, no big deal, we can also go for a drink later. My friend Lisa will probably come too…” Remember, whenever you invite someone you should ALWAYS take the time to make a call rather than sending a message on WhatsApp. If it’s an official invitation for something more formal, you might even want to send an invitation card.

By Maria Niglio

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Why Americans are Impeaching Now

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On January 7th, the four hour insurrection at the United States Capitol dominated the news internationally, with governments, celebrities, and brands across the world publicly condemning the violence, white supremacy, and attempted overthrow of democracy. In the days following, there have been a number of responses to how the American government should handle the president inciting a coup in the waning days of his presidency, but the general consensus among Democrats, as well as a surprising amount of formerly supportive Republicans, believe that he should be removed from office. 

Some think that the current backlash against Trump from all sides is too little too late, especially regarding removal from platforms like Twitter and backlash from sitting Republican politicians. Apart from the past four years of horrifying news, taking these actions earlier on would have almost certainly prevented the Capitol siege. With less than ten days before a new administration comes into power, what is the point of removing Trump from office? Can he really do so much damage in under a fortnight?

Part of the thought process here is setting a precedent: No public official should be inciting an overthrow of democratic systems and it needs to be made clear that this cannot be tolerated in the future. There are two different options for removing Trump from office: Vice President Mike Pence could invoke the 25th Amendment or the House of Representatives can move to impeach Trump (again). If Pence invokes the 25th Amendment, it will also need to be confirmed by a majority of the Cabinet or a Congressional review. The 25th Amendment has been discussed in the past in moments when Trump has seemed unstable, but it is more of a serious consideration now that the president and his followers have turned on the vice president. However, with this option, Trump will also be given opportunity to argue that he is fit for office and there is also some debate as to whether this is the kind of situation that the 25th Amendment was meant for, as it is specifically meant to be used when a president is deemed unfit for office (for example, many times that recent presidents have undergone surgery requiring anaesthesia, their vice president has technically been president for a few hours.)

The 25th Amendment would be the quickest way to handle the current situation and Pence would become the president for the few days remaining before the inauguration and, in theory, be able to quell future planned uprisings (the FBI has recently confirmed that there are armed protests planned for all 50 states and the Capitol in the lead-up to election day). The 25th Amendment would also leave Trump with less time to try and pardon himself. If he cannot pardon himself, it would be possible to prosecute him for a whole host of crimes once he leaves office. However, as time progresses, it seems unlikely that Pence will choose this route and as things settle down a bit, he has said that he will not.

As of January 11th, Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced articles of impeachment. After the House votes to impeach, which they almost certainly will, the process moves to the Senate where there is a trial, and then ⅔ of the senators must vote to remove him from office. This means that about 17 Republican senators would have to agree to this, which is a difficult accomplishment. At this point, it will be all but impossible to remove Trump from office via impeachment before Joe Biden takes office, so what is the point?

While he would not be removed from office, it is still possible to continue impeachment proceedings against an official who is no longer in office. If impeached, most importantly, the Senate can vote that Trump will no longer be able to hold office if a majority of senators agree. He will also lose his pension of $200k a year, a yearly $1,000,000 travel stipend, and his life-long secret service detail which would otherwise be paid for at the taxpayer’s expense. It is this that makes it so crucial for Democrats to impeach, as Trump still has a large group of base of Republicans and could, in theory, run for office in 2024 with great support. After witnessing the January 6th coup, an election like that could very much change the face of American democracy. In the coming days we are likely to see the beginnings of an impeachment process, but also hopefully a response that actively stems the ever-rising tide of white supremacist terrorism in the United States.

By Madeleine Richardson Graham

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

New Year, Same You

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It’s a new year, 2021 has arrived and as we say goodbye to a year that has changed all our lives in so many ways, it seems we have not been given a rest bite from the onslaught of advertisements that appear at the start of every January. Despite the strangeness of these times and facing the continuation of living through and dealing with a pandemic, this new year seems to be no different in the marketing we are faced with. Marketing that claims because we have entered a new year, we must become fitter, healthier, more motivated and productive, smarter and generally better. A new year must mean a new you. 

This is the focus of every new year in a culture where we are always sold more, more, more. In a society where we are taught to believe that what we have, what we do, and who we are, is not enough. And this is the message that has been constructed in order to make money. In the instance of adverts that insist, we need to be healthier, fitter and consequently slimmer. It’s a message that means that gyms recruit more members, detoxes and diets are sold by the millions and the whole weight loss industry is able to capitalise on the idea that you haven’t being doing enough and this is the only opportunity to right that wrong. 

With the increasing and dangerous rise of social media influencers who are paid to peddle weight loss fads, these money making schemes and the messaging behind them are increasingly difficult to avoid. A message that promotes guilt and self -loathing. A message I am sick of seeing each new year. Yes, there may be some extra indulgence over the Christmas period and it can be a positive aim to try and set about a more healthier diet or get back to doing some physical exercise. But this should be because we want to do it for ourselves, for what is healthy for us and our individual bodies. We shouldn’t feel forced into this because we have been shamed into losing weight. The rhetoric of shame that surrounds these campaigns is what makes it so damaging. We do not need to punish ourselves for enjoying ourselves. We are fine the way we are. And crucially right now we are dealing with an unprecedented moment. We should be able to do whatever makes us feel good and slightly better about a testing and trying time. The last thing we need at the moment is to be made to feel bad about not following the latest diet trend or exercise routine. 

It’s not just the diet industry that makes us feel guilty about not doing enough. I remember at the beginning of lockdown 1.0 seeing posts on social media that claimed Shakespeare wrote some of his best works during quarantine from a plague and so we should now finally have the time to write that book, or learn that instrument, or start that business. We were told there were no more excuses now and we mustn’t waste this time. If you did these things then I’m sure it may have been what helped you through, but the outside pressure of how productive we should be is not helpful or motivational. It’s toxic. We should be proud of ourselves for simply making it through and waking up each morning, getting out of bed and facing the day. Simply surviving during this time is enough. 

So, the next quote on Instagram you might see about being ‘your best self’ can simply be you as you are now, doing whatever you are currently doing to get through. You do not need to become a new you just because it is a new year. It’s great to set resolutions and goals and intentions for the coming year if this gives you a feeling of focus and purpose, but these should be extras to who you are because you are good enough already. Welcome this year with goals, resolutions, a list of things you want to do or accomplish but don’t feel you have to re-create a whole new you. This is a new year but you can be the same you. 

If you are interested in this topic and the conversations around it I can recommend following the movement of IWeigh, founded by Jameela Jamil, on Instagram, and listening to the podcast. Another Instagram page I found was @lucymountain, and her page @nobsguides, who also talks about the incessant messaging to change ourselves that we are bombarded with in January, and how to set healthier affirmations and intentions.

By Maya Nardoni

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Irrational fear.

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Fear, such a small word but with huge effects. Fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, fear of failure. The verb translates as to be afraid of someone or something as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful. But what about the unfounded fears? The untypical fears. Some people are afraid of tomato sauce, for example, others find their hearts racing at the sight of cotton wool. Harmless objects that seem neither painful, harmful, or dangerous. Do you ever wonder why some fears are so ingrained, what historical event was so traumatic that your body has now created a physical alarm system that triggers your flight response?

Take me for example: To coin a phrase, I consider myself to be a “double hard bastard”; I tackle spiders like a boss. I don’t even need a cup, I just pick them up and put them outside as gently and kindly as I can. If it’s raining I might even let them stay a while longer. Rats? I laugh in the face of rats. Well, not quite, I actually like to kiss their little twitching noses. I have kept pet rats and love the feel of their rough-textured tail between my lip (a dangerous pass time as they share an equal appreciation, except it triggers them to wee). Snakes? Whilst I don’t want to have one as a pet, I hold no fear of them.

So here I am strolling through life with no apparent fear, like a superhero. Except I do have a fear. I have my very own kryptonite. Worst of all, I have no grounds for it. I have no idea why or how I came to be afraid, but I am. I mean full on goosebumps, shallow breath, heart-racing fear. I am putting it out there and fessing up. I am a naviphobe (from the Latin for ship) a fear of boats and cruise ships. I am equally afraid of those in dry dock of water. Okay, I hear you say, but as fears go, it’s a rare one. I mean, you are not often faced with a ship, right? Except I attend the University of Greenwich. After McDonald’s the next thing you see on leaving the station is…that’s right, the Cutty Sark! A big bastard ship flaunting itself in front of me like a cruel taunt saved especially for me. Unfounded, I know, but terrifying all the same. I have no idea why this became my fear, I have no childhood memories of being by a boat whilst feeling unwell for example. No recollection of a horror film, where a ship crushed a small family of puppies. Seemingly completely random. My question is what are you afraid of? And more importantly, do you know why? 

By Julie Sanford

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Is Social Media All That Bad?

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Social media is definitely a big deal. We all know it, we’ve all heard of it, most of us use it and most of us are addicted to it. Did you just shake your head? You’re not addicted? Sounds like you’re in denial to me. It’s okay to admit it. You have to embrace yourself first before you can make a change.

I certainly believe that I am. I can barely do one task before grabbing my phone, scrolling through Instagram and seeing the same ten posts I had just scrolled through. Or jumping onto Snapchat, flicking through a bunch of stories before growing tired of everyone having more fun than me and planting my phone down on the table. 

I wanted to know if it had affected people in the same way as it had me so I quizzed my friends for their opinions on the major platforms. 

“Do you think you’re addicted to social media?” I asked, expecting the worst. 

“A little bit – ‘cause I’m really bored,” she said. 

I looked at her and nodded. Understandable given the situation now. 

I looked at the other expectantly. 

“Hell no! Not Insta and Snap, I barely use them,” she said confidently, “the issue lies when it gets to Netflix and Wattpad.” 

I mean who can disagree with the latter. 

‘Do you think they have a negative impact?’ 

‘Yes, it kinda does if your mental health is already low.’ 

The other turned to me, ‘For me personally, I don’t think it has a negative impact per se, like, I just use it as a past time – in the grand scheme of things it could have a negative impact on people missing out on key development because they get addicted from a young age.’ 

Very insightful. 

The impact of social media, influencers and body image already has had a damaging effect on most users of the apps. What if children were exposed to it earlier than any of Generation Z? We have all been exposed, but Gen Z has essentially seen the internet’s birth into society. I remember holding a brick Nokia phone and, within what seemed like minutes, seeing a sleek iPhone. The internet age has progressed so rapidly, most people aren’t even sure of the next generation of iPhone, iPad, laptop before they have bought it. With this rapidly growing movement, the damages are unforeseeable. 

Children should be the most supervised, most people in my generation got a smartphone at around thirteen, but now these new electronics are so readily available for much younger ages. So much so that parents must take heed. The damage on teenagers now is already drastic, the younger generation needs to be able to experience life without the ideas of the ‘perfect body’ being shoved upon them. That could have devastating effects. 

Now, before you judge: I’m not saying social media is altogether a bad thing. It can definitely have some positive effects like connecting with friends and sharing parts of your life with others. You can also get body positive influencers to help with any insecurities you may have developed from others. Sometimes following people that you know will help your insecurities is better than following people you aspire to look like. So, all that remains to be said is: Accept yourself. You are beautiful! Don’t let any trend, any person, any thing let you believe otherwise.

If you want to share how social media has affected you, please feel free to comment below. 

By Maria Benseler-Reid

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

The ‘new normal’ of studying: We’re all there with you

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I think we can all agree these are strange times, and that the university experience we’re all having right now might not be reflecting what we originally imagined when we applied to university. I’m an English literature and drama student; the other day, I found myself in the loft/converted office space at home, wearing a blazer and full hair and make-up above and pyjama bottoms below. My phone balanced on a stack of books while I adjusted the ring-light borrowed from my sister. This is the way my classmates and I are filming the play we are putting together as part of our module. I had to stop, look around and think; ‘This is my drama course now’. I am sure each person has had that moment, looking around their set up of working and studying at home and having to laugh at the situations they find themselves in. We have to laugh or we’ll cry. 

When I applied to university I had romantic images of wandering around the beautiful campus of Greenwich, reading novels, attending lectures in big amphitheatres, and engaging in conversations about books and favourite authors. I imagined creating shows and plays and performances in a theatre purely used for Greenwich drama students, working and experimenting with new people that have had all different types of experience and who have come together for the same passion of theatre. I imagined the energy of getting into a shared creative space and bounce ideas off each other to make something unique and exciting. Sitting in the loft of my house surrounded by pieces of costume and talking to my phone was certainly not what I imagined. 

But we’re doing what we can.

As a second year student I know I am lucky to at least have had the first year of experiencing this; grabbing a coffee to get to know fellow classmates, or going on nights out and rolling out of bed the next day, hungover and complaining about the 9am lecture (a right of way for most university students) or in my case going on theatre trips nearly every week to see new and exciting plays in London. I miss this. What we’re now missing out on is more than physically being in a space to listen to a lecture and attend a seminar; it’s the walk from the lecture to the seminar where you can chat with different people, ask about their weekend and connect with new friends. It’s the spontaneity of suddenly deciding with your flatmates to walk to a local bar, grab a cocktail and have a chat about your day. Or randomly chatting to someone in the library because you sat down and exchanged a smile, or reaching out and having a new experience through joining a society. It’s the little moments, as well as the big ones, we’re missing out on. 

To some level, we have all accepted this new way of working, at least for now. I moved home before the announcement of lockdown 2.0, and have been working from home this month. Instead of walking through the bustle of Greenwich market, or along the Thames on a crisp, autumnal, sunny day, my morning walk to uni is now from bed, to kitchen, to desk. I sit and listen to lectures and then warn my family I am about to start a call so please: ‘Don’t disturb!’ We all have to muddle along together as we adjust to each other’s schedules and working lives.

Looking at the positives, this way of university may be easier. I don’t have to cook for myself like usual, or do all my food shopping, or any of my laundry. I again rely on my mum and dad when I’m at home because I guess this is what we’re used to. I also have the luxuries of home like a warm bubble bath, or cuddles with my dog…little things I miss in uni halls. I like to focus on what I do have and not what I’m missing out on, and we’re all in the same boat here! No one is being able to experience university like they initially imagined or planned to, so I’m here with you, trying to focus on the positive but understanding the feeling of missing out and time going by when we’re supposed to be somewhere we cannot currently be.

There are so many different circumstances students have to face at the moment, as we have all had to adapt to living and learning in ways that perhaps we didn’t sign up to when we first applied to, and started, university. I certainly wasn’t expecting to find myself calling friends from all over the country as I sit in a costume in front of my laptop with a makeshift set up of lighting and sound. Who knows how long this will last and for how long we must rely on technology to feel connected to our university communities. I certainly hope it won’t be too long until I can wander through the streets of Greenwich again, on my way to campus, to meet friends, to make new friendships and have new experiences, as this is also what university is all about. But for now, I guess we must stay involved in the ways we can, through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, through calls and meetings, through participating in seminars and signing onto societies. We’re all doing our best to reach out from our own individual places to keep connected throughout this time and we’re certainly all in this together. 

By Maya Nardoni

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.