Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester shows defiance of British teen girls against attack on their way of life

Watching the One Love Manchester concert drove home the intent and purpose of the terror plot on 22 May 2017 – it wasn’t just an attack on the city of Manchester writ large, it was far more deliberate in its sinister intents. It was an attack on young, British teens, and especially on teen girls. It was an attack on youth, on optimism, on enjoyment. It was an attack on the ability to freely assemble, to enjoy life and celebrate friendship. It was an attack on a young pop star who has publicly identified herself as a feminist and speaks openly about empowering girls and women.

As a response to this attack, the One Love Manchester concert, its organisers and producers, and the BBC production crew that filmed it performed an admirable service. They quickly created a safe and celebratory space to comfort those who had experienced the attack. By hosting the concert only two weeks after the bombing, those two experiences will sit in those attendees’ memories side by side… a quick riposte to the bitter experience of the terror attack and its accompanying sense of loss and fear. This sunshine-filled day of solidarity, love and resilience reinforced the importance of just being a teenager. That continuing to live life as normal is itself an act of defiance. That celebrating love and compassion is a difficult path but the only cure to terror and hate. That this lesson is so important, a crowded stage full of pop’s biggest stars will fly across the world to underscore its significance.

I dare you to watch this and not to cry – the sad but defiant faces of the young women in this video tell you two things. 1) They know this was an attack on them, their peers, and their way of life. 2) They will stand together, mournful but unbowed, in the knowledge that the future is theirs.


Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War

The Huntsman: Winter’s War unfolds like a storybook for dimwits. It’s an absolute waste of the talents of three leading actresses at the peak of their powers (Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron). The first movie in the series almost worked as a retelling of a clichéd fairy tale trope by assigning Kristin Stewart’s Snow White more agency and power in achieving her Queenly destiny, with the Huntsman along as a sidekick for good measure. That the series has reassigned Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman the main protagonist role (after Stewart’s well documented shag with her director) is an extremely disappointing decision by the studio, as is the way the once formidable Snow White has been reduced to a gibbering, faceless wreck in this pre/sequel.

Movie goers have shown there is an audience for films led by strong female characters (Hunger Games, Twilight, now Star Wars) and studios are trying to cash in. Good. But this movie does a grave disservice to its female leads. Though they are ‘strong’ in their way, the film barely passes the Bechdel test, if at all. Their inner lives and characters are uncomplicated, unnuanced and above all unrelatable. None of the actresses seem to be having any fun, leaving wooden heroes and villains on the screen and me sitting in my cinema seat wondering ‘Honestly: why did they agree to be in this movie?’ What a waste. Give us the female driven action/fantasy we deserve! JJ Abrams has shown it’s not impossible within the confines of the studio system.