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Thursday, 18 July 2019

Retro Review: Lean on Me (1989)

Lean on Me
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, Robert Guillaume, Ethan Phillips, Michael Imperioli, Tony Todd, Lynne Thigpen
Genre: Biographical drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $31 million

Plot: The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school and he is determined to improve by any and all means

'Lean On The Meanie Teacher, More Like'

Morgan Freeman plays Joe Clark, the newly elected principal of East Side High who joined the school to help address the school's rampant drug's problem, as well as being brought on board to turn things around and to put things right. 

Though the very loosely based on a true story is inspirational, this inspiration the film was alluding to in general, just didn't transpire throughout. 

Lacking in subtlety and deftness, Lean on Me is less so To Sir With Love and more along the lines of Dangerous Minds, but without much in the way of charm and being memorable, and unlike the Jerry Bruckheimer produced latter offering, the movie doesn't have much in the way of heart and enthusiasm, either. Morgan Freeman's performance as principal Joe Clark is powerful - yet his character is mostly unsympathetic, rigid and comes across as bitter and cantankerous. As a result of this, this was the key to preventing the movie from degenerating into a saccharine and overly sentimental cheese-fest. It is compelling to see Freeman impose himself here, but there were times in which it was discomforting to see Clark yelling, berating and belittling and mocking his pupils and fellow teachers at a school he is trying to reform.

Whilst it is far from being thought-provoking, the film's sore point is when it emphasises and hammers home Joe's regimented and combative nature at the expense of additional screentime and the supporting characters' own character development, its message about learning and teachers making a difference to students' lives. Lean on Me could have benefited greatly by having more scenes of learning and teachers educating their pupils. But what we have is an all-too-familiar and trite screenplay, which is saved by Freeman's turn and the ending can be a little hokey for its own good. 

The storyline with the pregnant teenager is left unresolved and with that, viewers will be scratching their heads and wondering where she and the child's fate lies in the story. 

The performances throughout were very good to excellent, but in viewing this as an adult, it appears that Lean On Me tried to be a different type of educational-based drama film to many others that came before and after it; that the message it was implying was that students and pupils won't learn a single thing, unless you threaten them or approach things in an aggressive and strict fashion. In reality, if a teacher like Mr Clark had acted the way he or she did in real life, they'd be out of a job. 

Final Verdict: 

Director John G. Avildsen may have reigned with The Karate Kid and the original Rocky, but here in his third attempt at the underdog persevering against the odds tale, Lean on Me pretty much follows the same narrative beats as those movies; however and sadly, without much heart, its potential just isn't fully realised and with that, Lean on Me should have been a tad more inspiring. 
It's still worth seeing, nonetheless, especially for first-time watchers. 

Good thing this was under 2 hrs.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Mini Retro Review: All About The Benjamins (2002) #badmovies

All About The Benjamins
Genre: Action Comedy

A black version of Midnight Run, All About The Benjamins fails as an action movie and a comedy, as most of the humour falls flat and the action is minuscule. Ice Cube and Mike Epps were far more effective in the comedy, Next Friday. This is mostly loud, brash and not very entertaining with a plot that doesn't attempt to go anywhere. The villains have no personalities. And there isn't a scene where one character isn't shouting. The number of times the F-word is blurted out is constant and most of the time, it is unfunny. Though All About The Benjamins is made for and is targeted at Black audiences by black filmmakers, as a movie itself, it just wasn't enjoyable enough.

Is It Worth Watching?

If you are into Black movies and comedies, and you are a huge fan of Ice Cube then yes


Monday, 8 July 2019

'I'm Here To Work To Earn Money - Not Friends'

By Waiching

Workplace friendships are complicated - unless you are part of a 'clique' or you and another colleague share the same or similar culture as each other, making friendships is not as simple and straightforward as it seems. In secondary school, I had a few friends, male and female, but once high school came along, that was when it became an uphill task to undertake. Fitting in, being incredibly shy and the silent type, being Asian and oh, the bullying and teasing made my high school life miserable, and so I never had any friends. Making friends post-secondary school (in the U.S, it's primary school/Junior school level) was a difficult thing for me to do from high school onwards.... and into adulthood, right through to my current job and workplace, it has become something that I thought I might take to heart with. 

I was told by a tutor at college at one time back in the early 2000s when I was in my early twenties that you don't make friends whilst studying, but at work and when you are working... well, almost 20 years on, this turned out to be a lie. This might be the case if you are in a sector such as teaching, working as a teacher or tutor or as an actor working in TV or film in Hollywood, for instance. Working life in during the adult stages of our lives is supposed to be the periods when we, as people and individuals, come out of our shell, and in working with people, allows us to be comfortable in our own skin and around our colleagues, whilst also gaining further skills, boosting our self-confidence & making a contribution to the organisation we work for. 

But for us working people who work in retail, hospitality, it is, not so the case. To this day, I am an introvert (although I make attempts to communicate and converse with my peers), keep my head down and focus on my job. This is because, in retail, office politics and colleagues forming cliques with people of their own culture are seen as a big deal, mainly because it easily gives them someone to identify with ... and if you don't fall in either category or choose not to conform, you are seen as the odd one out. Or that is assumed to be the case. 

I say assumed, because really, whilst it is hugely important for some or a lot of people, me personally, as long as I am civil and help the team or my colleagues achieve what needs to be done, as well as get paid, then that's all that matters. You can be considerate, amicable, converse and have friendly banter with your coworkers and do your job, without being attached to them by being friends with them, and with difficult and bossy people, one can find or try to find common or middle ground with them, without having to like them. I can respect them as colleagues, but as people and human beings, well, that is a different story, altogether. I am not to everyone's liking, and this has been something that I grew to accept over time, and there are people whose personalities don't gel with me, and of whom won't change, ever. It goes both ways. 

I work hard or I try to work hard to earn money and to earn the respect of my peers and to get paid. That's it. 

When it gets to a point when it becomes toxic, that is when I try to steer clear or keep my mouth shut, because then, it turns into an argument and it escalates further on that our work becomes unproductive. It just shows that at work, not everything goes to plan and smoothly, because there are always those little incidents that, or people, who try to make it difficult. But isn't that the purpose of work: to seek solutions, to provide and pose challenges for us to undertake and to overcome so that both parties who are involved end up satisfied?
Yes, work is vitally important; working is important, but that is because it pays the bills, puts food on the table and to support ourselves and our loved ones during the present and for the foreseeable future. Trying to build working relations with our colleagues is another, but also it involves forging and maintaining a particular bond throughout the course of your time with them by having that one thing you or I share in common with her/him -, I'm not saying that it isn't feasible and yet also, by looking at it in another way, that is just not possible with every single person who works at the same place as where you are. 

There is probably one, two, or maybe three people at my workplace I'd consider as people I confide in and of whom I don't have any issues with, whatsoever that I could possibly see as friends over the next few years. But other than that, I don't interact with them on social media and outside of work and I don't let it consume me, or I try not to let it consume me because it makes me feel worse. 

There are more important things in life, and making and finding friends during adulthood can be challenging, but that is the least of my priorities & concerns. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

What Is Ostracism & Why It Needs To Be Highlighted & Addressed Properly

By Waiching Liu

Ostracism and being ostracised is something that is unheard of, but it is also something people, organisations and workplace institutions are unwilling to talk about. It is not a new phenomenon, but it has gone unnoticed by many. I had recently experienced an incident at work where I felt I was being ostracised (and one I have discussed on Twitter) and the range of emotions I had; that and I had a terrible day. 

So how can I best describe what ostracism is and what I can compare it with? Well, in my and many people's eyes, especially those who have experienced it, it's very much like being the odd one out in high school and the kid no one talks to or hang around with; ostracism is a form of social exclusion - and a lot of it takes place in the workplace with people of all ages, though mostly with older people. I've experienced exclusion at high school, as well as bullying as a teenager - and so, the correlations between being excluded and ignored when I was young to being in an active work environment and rarely or hardly many people outside of my department at least going to lengths to communicate with me, runs deep. It reinforces all those fears and brings back memories of high school all over again, sadly. 

If you don't conform or fit in with a group or clique of people, one may run the risk of being isolated and ostracised by your peers, and this could lead to things like depression, job dissatisfaction, it can arouse anger and rage and even worse, resigning or quitting your role, or even as extreme as suicide even. It causes unnecessary social and emotional pain, threatens our fundamental human requirements - and these are self-esteem, control, a sense of belonging and acknowledging our worth and existence as human beings. 

I don't belong to one group, I am pretty much by myself and I keep things to myself. When I am cleaning the tables, etc in the role that I undertake, I am by myself and become immersed in my work, whilst in other departments they have teams of four or more people side by side working together. Just because I work alone, does not mean I ought to be and want to feel ignored at work and during social events: I have a lot to contribute to the company, yes, but I also want to feel that I am of worth as a human being too. It's funny how at work when you are older, after many years at school feeling isolated, lonely and being the odd one out, you have to be confident, to work hard to be noticed by your superiors and to fit in and be like them. When really one is unique and who is born to stand out from the crowd. 

As humans, our brains are wired and tuned to feel a range of emotions, feelings and thoughts; we have a powerful need to belong and to connect and it is a mechanism for us as individuals to not only survive but to also learn from and understand one another & to develop and communicate with and depend on each other. With it, we can detect social exclusion that also triggers off different reactions and responses. So without that connection and human and social interaction, which is crucial for us in our personal development that will help us get by in life, we are pretty much screwed and in general, it doesn't bode well for us. 

Workplace ostracism is not deemed as serious enough; because it is subtler than discrimination, bullying and harassment, many organisations perceive exclusion as something that can be swept under the carpet and is easily ignored; thus, implying things such as no eye contact, no verbal communication being made, these are not a big deal and that these shouldn't be a big deal: this is a huge mistake to make and the price one pays when it occurs is so severe, so utterly demoralising it affects your morale and in addition it is hurtful. Social exclusion may occur at an interpersonal level, but employees, in particular managers and supervisors and organisations, need to step in and intervene to build and foster a positive social environment for all. 

Ostracism starts when we ignore people or when an individual is ignored or who is not being acknowledged, even when they don't mean to do it. & whether it is someone you work with or a person of whom isn't your relative, family member, ostracism stings... and it stings a lot.

There is a difference between yourself wanting to need space and being ostracised: when you want space, it means you need time to process, to heal and to eradicate your negative feelings and clear your head of whatever stuff is going on in your mind or life, so you can feel better. Being ostracised, on the other hand, is the exact opposite: you're not craving attention, but having said that, you want them to see that you are indeed actively present. You feel alienated when people do their own thing and yet they give you little or none of their attention towards you and it is akin to being non-existent. That you don't matter to other people -, which is frankly wrong. 

I don't go to work to make friends, nor do I socialise with my colleagues outside of work- yet this is not what we mean by ostracism; but rather demonstrating general etiquette when and as expected, without being reminded to do so. It's not hard, but some people think they can get by without it when really, it is not ideal.

It is a hurtful and painful experience and you're essentially treated like you are invisible to the naked eye, or be it you don't exist in their eyes to them. Being ignored is one thing, but being ignored and isolated in the workplace and in an environment where you are working with and alongside your colleagues and coworkers is another, and is as terrible, if not more so than being physically abused by a bully. 

As irrational as ostracism is, one has to be aware also that when it occurs, it is that has nothing to do with anything we have done and that it isn't and shouldn't be socially acceptable. 

Yet the bottom line to take from experiences such as this and one I have to realise, however, is to work for yourself, be strong, work hard and to continue to do your best and knowing that you are of worth to yourself and know what your qualities and strengths are and to draw on from that to boost your confidence.

My Experience In Dealing With Toxic People & Why It Is Not Healthy For Anyone

By Waiching

Source: Cheaper than

Toxic people are and can be so harmful to one's well-being; for someone like myself who has been depressed for a long period of time, and who can become emotionally sensitive in certain situations when things get out of hand and to allow my emotions and feelings to be affected that is so overwhelming, I find this to be deadly, as I don't do particularly well in dealing with these types of people. I tend to be very passive and not gravitate towards them. 

Having encountered my fair share of these individuals throughout my life, since my teen years, 20s and in my 30s, it's their constant (pattern of) behaviour that I deem erratic, that unsettles me and it makes me feel uncomfortable, to the point it becomes too much to bear and leaves me in a verge of tears. Toxic people like to create drama, tension and they try to warp people's minds to their advantage: it's the constant battle of not trying to get sucked into their mindset that I find extremely difficult. 

When it does happen, I become visibly upset, distressed and I am left feeling helpless. 

I also realise that toxic people have different versions of themselves and they switch personalities, behaviours and attitudes, and sometimes for no apparent reason; they are never the same people, they keep others guessing by being nice, friendly, having a laugh one minute... the next they lash out, get angry, become agitated and moody, cranky. 

These people are just not worth your attention and in work, it's even more difficult to cut them out of your life, completely; especially if you are having to work with them or you see them on a daily basis at work, during study or whatever, because once so often, the cracks show and you see them at their sheer worst. 

But really, you cannot let them destroy or affect your happiness: one has to let them go until things subside and come back when the mood has shifted to a more neutral level. If you have done something wrong, apologise to them and move on... but even then, if s/he continues to behave in a way that is just not physically, mentally and emotionally healthy for yourself and themselves and it is going around in circles all the time, then ultimately the issues lie with them that they need to actively resolve themselves by seeking counselling or help. I get fed up and tired of going through this ongoing cycle over and over with the person, whilst trying to justify and defend myself when relations between myself and the other party break down when it gets out of hand. I shouldn't have to push for them to take notice. Why should it only be people who fall victim to their erratic behaviour that have to talk and confide to a counsellor about this issue? 

Even worse is when I lack the cognitive and emotional skills to deal with conflict and so when I am in a room with a few people and the (toxic) person who is speaking to and addressing me by emphasising the negatives and is personally attacking me, I find it is too much to bear that I find it hard to defend myself, trying to be strong, - and yet knowing no matter what I do say, they are always going to shoot it down by using it as a stick to beat me down with and make me feel guilty and bad.... and that, in itself, makes me feel even more worthless and in the wrong. Which I absolutely loathe. When I am put on the spot, I don't do well with extreme negativity and conflict; conflict to me is the P word: painful and with that, comes a lot of excess baggage it takes a tremendous toll on my emotions and feelings; I try to avoid it as much as I can before it exacerbates (and when it does exacerbate, I retaliate and at times curse or swear at the person, which is terrible, or become extremely upset) and I absolutely despise arguing and hurting people's feelings. That's not the person I am. 

But when I get sucked right into it and it gets to a stage where I have to remain strong, to find the right words to say and to handle criticism and accusations being made against me, it becomes a colossal struggle.

That and plain and simple, having a fight or argument just isn't worth the energy for 4 reasons as it's a) tiring, b) stressful, c) psychologically and emotionally speaking it hurts too much for me and plus, it puts an enormous amount of strain on our personal and professional relationships. It's best for one's sake to distance themselves from him/her & keep all conversations to a minimal. 

The lesson I've learnt in life until now, which will carry me on until I die, is that you can't please everyone, but also I have to remain calm, rational, diligent, strong and not to become so emotionally attached to certain people. It's one thing that they mess with your head... but to also for him/her to play on your emotions and feelings, is just as potentially harmful and it doesn't do you a world of good, either. 

Sometimes, it's a habit, and a tough one to crack, which I haven't managed to handle well; it's going to take time, as well as time to break, yet I must firmly stand my ground and constantly remind myself that I am not one to play mind games and I won't be messed around with. 

Not forgetting the strengths and the positive attributes that I have that have carried me forward in work and in life so far, which will help me later on in life, as I get older. 

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