People Are Not Happy About This Body-Shaming Snow White Movie

Stories about women in entertainment dominated the 2017 Cannes Film Festival news cycle, as Sofia Coppola became the second womanto win the award for best director, and jury member Jessica Chastain spoke outabout the disturbing depictions of women in cinema.

Chastains choice of adjective could certainly apply to the marketing campaign for an upcoming animated film that many spotted at the festival.

Journalists at Cannes tweeted photos of a billboard for Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs a Snow White parody that will reportedly star Chloe Grace Moretz.

The ad shows the tall, thin heroine wearing red high-heeled shoes next to a shorter, heavier version of herself barefoot and holding the shoes.

What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 Dwarfs not so short? the tagline asks.

The suggestion that a shorter, rounder Snow White is no longer beautiful attracted the ire of many parents with young kids.

On Tuesday, model and mom of two Tess Holliday tweeted a photo of the billboard at Moretz. How did this get approved by an entire marketing team? she wrote. Why is it okay to tell young kids being fat = ugly?

Many people shared their outrage in the HuffPost Parents So You Want To Raise A Feminist Facebook group. What the hell??? So because shes not a complete waif but actually normal size, she is no longer beautiful?!?! No way on this movie!! wrote one parent.

My kids will never see this, added another.

If its a kids movie its horrendous, another mom commented.

Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs is a product of South Koreas Locus Creative Studios. The companys website describes it as a family-friendly film and outlines the plot:After seven handsome princes are magically transformed into seven ugly dwarfs, they set out on a quest to break the curse by getting a kiss from the most beautiful princess in all the land. According to IMDB, the movie is a parody with a twist.

While Snow White is a German fairy tale famously published by the Brothers Grimm, the Red Shoes in the working title is likely a reference to Hans Christian Andersens fairy tale, The Red Shoes which tells the story of a girl with enchanted red shoes (though the magical shoes in that fairy tale have a slightly more sinister effect than simply making ones appearance conform to societal standards of beauty).


The Lotus website suggests the movie has a slightly more empowering message apparently the princess character is on a journey to find her lost father and learns not only to accept herself, but to celebrate who she is, inside and out. And to let the beauty within … shine brighter than anyone else in the land.

Still, the decision to describe the normal Snow White as ugly in the marketing campaign is questionable at best.The family-friendly designation is also questionable, as early trailers forRed Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs dont seem particularly appropriate for children.One trailer shows two male dwarf characters secretly watching the heroine undress, while another shows a dwarf looking lustfully at her sleeping figure and then proceeding to violently thrash her body around in an attempt to remove her shoes.

Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs was previously scheduled for a summer 2017 release. Earlier this month, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Moretz was set to add her voice to the movie and that South Korean sales company Finecut would be introducing the film to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival.

The current status of the film is not entirely clear, though the billboard at Cannes states 2018 Coming Soon.

Locus Creative Studios did not immediately respond to HuffPosts request for comment.

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Inside Gaysi: the blog transforming Indias queer scene

Gay sex is against the law in India, but an online zine that also hosts events for LGBTQI people has become a pioneering force for change

The latest issue of the Gaysi zine sports a simple but striking cover in dark colours: a scattered collage of human forms, with the words All That We Want across it. Thumb through the magazine and you will find pieces of fiction, photo-essays, personal narratives, illustrations andhow-to guides on the theme of sexual desire, from A Quick Guide to Scissoring to evocative verse on Love in the Age of Surveillance.

It is the sort of content that would not seem out of place in a gay zine published in Europe or the US, but in India it is positively subversive and the first of its kind.

Gaysi a portmanteau of the words gay and desi (desi is Hindi slang for south Asian) first appeared as a blog almost 10 years ago. It has since developed a zine that retails at major bookshops across the country, hosts open mic events, book clubs and, most recently, Indias first drag king show. We needed stories we could all relateto, and we needed an honest documentation of the lived realities ofdesi queer folks, founder Sakshi Juneja explains.

The latest issue of Gaysi magazine. Photograph: Gaysi

Juneja began her journey online writing about gender and sexuality, among other things. Her interactions on queer female sites from other countries finally led to the creation ofGaysi, which runs opinion, news, interviews, book and theatre reviews and the most popular personal essays, often from those whose lives have been touched by the website. It is no surprise, then, that as well as queer sexuality, some of the most popular tags on this blog are coming out, gay rights and homophobia. The essays include personal expressions ofdifficult situations from those who feel confident about speaking out in this space such as an article by atransgender woman and a letter from a queer woman to her mother.

Gaysi arrived at a time when there was no safe or open space in India for those who had come out, online or otherwise. Priya Gangwani, a regular contributor, remembers the first time she came across the blog, more than seven years ago. I was 26 and had novocabulary for gender and sexual minorities. I did not know any LGBTQ people, and the only queer term I was familiar with was homosexual, thanks to Virginia Woolf.

To be honest, she says, until Ichanced on Gaysi, I thought I was theonly one with these corrupted same-sex desires. This was par for the course in mostof India; even for educated and employed women such as the Gaysis, there were no sources of information, no conversations in the media. It wasas if queer people especially LBTwomen didnt exist in India, says Gangwani, while Juneja describes thecommunity as being silent andinvisible.

Today, Gaysi is managed by a core team of four women. There are a few regular writers all ofwhom have day jobs, often in IT or marketing but most of the content comes from female guest contributors from across the queer spectrum. This includes those still questioning and others who do not like to be labelled, and occasionally supportive and encouraging stories from parents andsiblings.

An illustration from Gaysi. Photograph: Gaysi

It presents a vivid portrait of what itmeans to be queer in India, detailing battles inside and outside the home. Acolonial law enforced by the British in 1860 ruled that homosexuality wasillegal. In 2009, the law was overturned, but then in 2013 it was reinstated. This has resulted in a rise inmoral policing on the streets, with gay people constantly looking over their shoulders. Thrown into the mix are hostile families who often condone corrective treatments, forced marriages, and sometimes even honour killings.

For Gangwani, [Gaysi] was like discovering this new, magnificent, unimaginable and fascinating world. Itcompletely blew my mind, and changed my life.

Gaysis impact really widened whenit expanded offline, into events where queer women can be queer, either by themselves or with partners, without fear. Now, they host two majoropen mic events a year and some kind of gathering at least once every couple of months, be it a trivia night or a badminton tournament for queer women. Gaysis visual content and design editor, who goes by the pseudonym Fishead, believes the work adds meaning to the lives of the creators andconsumers. This becomes even more urgent and relevant in these times, as we are working towards making sure that LGBTQI identities arenever made invisible or silenced, she says.

Gaysi magazines Narendra Modi cover. Photograph: Gaysi

As expected, the 2013 ruling seems to have given this band of fiery women the zeal to make the Gaysi voice more open, powerful and inclusive.

In the past couple of years, several applications for performing at Gaysi open mic events have come from straight peoplewanting to express support for the gay community; now, even the mainstream media has started addressing queer issues. Things might look bleak on the legal scene, and social change may be slow in coming, but there is definitely an openness to thinking and talking about sexuality among Indians.

Young and straight people are more visible at LGBTQI activities in the bigger cities, and attend queer film festivals, gay pride marches and so on. The queer community is slowly taking physical form in the Indian eye;no doubt the women behind Gaysi will make this transformation quicker and easier.

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Rita, Sue and Bob Too: A snapshot of 1980s Britain – BBC News

Image copyright Bradford UNESCO City of Film
Image caption Rita, Sue and Bob Too depicted life on a Bradford estate in a darkly comic tale

Billed as “Thatcher’s Britain with her knickers down”, British film comedy Rita, Sue and Bob Too was an unexpected hit when it was released 30 years ago. This darkly comic tale of two sexually confident working-class Bradford teenagers might have charmed the critics – but many closer to home failed to see the joke.

Originally written for the stage in 1982 by Andrea Dunbar, the story depicted life on the deprived Buttershaw estate where she grew up – and did not flinch from its portrayal of alcoholism, violence, poverty and a feckless benefit culture.

The film featured teenage babysitters Rita (Siobhan Finneran) and Sue (Michelle Holmes), who both partially escaped from their lives on the estate by having an affair with married man Bob (George Costigan) who lived in a detached house in a smarter part of city.

It was an incendiary mixture.

Image copyright Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection
Image caption The film was thought to reinforce negative stereotypes by some viewers

Tony Earnshaw, author of Made in Yorkshire, a study of filmmaking in the county, was one of the many who reacted badly to the Alan Clarke-directed film when he first saw it as a teenager.

The city was attempting to repair a poor public image – and the film was seen by many as reinforcing negative stereotypes.

“I didn’t like it at the time, I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate it,” the author said. “I am a working-class lad and I was angry about how it misrepresented Yorkshire. I thought its makers were laughing at us.”

Such apparent sensitivity needs to be set against the backdrop of the time.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The city of Bradford had taken a battering before the film was released

Bradford’s image had taken a battering in the 1980s: it had lost traditional industries and jobs, there were fierce arguments about race and education, and the city suffered one of the worst British stadium tragedies when 56 football fans perished in the 1985 Valley Parade fire.

And then, of course, there was Bradford’s most notorious son, Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, whose murderous campaign was finally halted by his chance arrest in 1981.

The city had tried to lift collective spirits with Bradford’s Bouncing Back, a feel-good marketing campaign launched in 1986, featuring a special poster by Bradford Grammar School alumnus David Hockney.

Into this mix came the 1987 film, described by that doyen of film critics Roger Ebert as “a bleak, sardonic comedy about the violation of a taboo”.

Image copyright Alamy
Image caption The play and film made Dunbar and the estate the focus of often unwelcome publicity
Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Michelle Holmes (Sue) said the film was ‘a snapshot of an age’

Adelle Stripe, who has written a novel based on Dunbar’s short life – the playwright died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 29 in 1990 – said the film “really poured oil on the fire”.

“She [Dunbar] wrote her first play when she was 15 years old, she’d never been to the theatre, and this is what is remarkable about her: she dramatised what was happening in her life at the time, and was encouraged by her teachers at Buttershaw Upper School.”

Dunbar was asked whether the play was based on personal experiences by the BBC in 1987.

“Parts of it was, parts wasn’t – but you see things happening on an estate anyway,” she said.

“But if you grow up on an estate, live there, you know everybody and I don’t find it shocking to write about it.”

Image caption Andrea Dunbar was interviewed by the BBC in 1987 about the film

The play and film made Dunbar and the estate the focus of often unwelcome publicity, Ms Stripe says.

“She got a lot of negative press. Press cuttings of the time always mention she was an unmarried mother with three children. Not a big deal for us in 2017 but she took a lot of flak for it then.

“She liked having a drink… because you’re working class and live on a council estate it therefore becomes a stick to beat her with. It was double standards, really.”

David Wilson, who is the director of Bradford’s City of Film programme, points out Bradford has undergone huge changes since the 1980s.

“Buttershaw is a different place now, some of the buildings and the low-rise flats on the estate have gone,” he said.

“We have moved on and often changed beyond all recognition.

“But you can look back with a nostalgic view on the film, which was a social commentary that did not skirt some difficult issues.”

Image copyright Alamy
Image caption The Buttershaw estate has been regenerated in recent years

Mr Wilson believes Rita, Sue and Bob Too has many parallels with another film, the 1959 northern kitchen-sink drama Room at the Top. There were calls for that movie to be banned and it was given an X-rated certificate. Now it is widely praised as a classic British film, he said.

He has recently rewatched Rita, Sue and Bob Too and was struck by the nostalgic fashions, furniture and architecture.

Most importantly for him “it inspired another generation of filmmakers and, creatively, it has not hindered Bradford at all”.

This is a view that would most likely be shared by many Bradfordians, even those who were uneasy about the film on its release.

Tony Earnshaw, certainly, says he feels very differently about Rita, Sue and Bob Too than he did as a teenager.

“I’ve come to realise it is a very accurate portrait of life,” he said.

“There’s a joie de vivre; the characters are not trying to escape from their lives, they are happy and don’t aspire to anything more.

“It’s a celebration of a certain strata of society. It occupies its own space in time.”

Michelle Holmes, who played Sue, recalls the making of the film fondly.

“We had a brilliant, brilliant time, seven weeks of absolute fun,” she said.

“It is crazy: who would have thought every single day somebody says something to me about the film? That’s what I find incredible about it.

“Now it is a snapshot of an age and it seems to have more resonance.”

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Millennial influencers who are the new stars of web advertising

Beauty vloggers and cult celebrities are being courted by luxury brands

Seven years ago, Chiara Ferragni was a fledgling 23-year-old fashion blogger, studying law at university in Milan. She never finished her degree, but now lives in a $3.5m Los Angeles mansion packed with antiques, and spends her days travelling the world in midriff-revealing tops, Gucci sweatshirts, cut-off jeans and a collection of Louis Vuitton. How do we know this?

Every day, the Blonde Salad shares images of her gilded lifestyle with her 9.6 million followers on Instagram, making her one of the cult celebrities of the social media world. Unlike Taylor Swift, Beyonc et al, who have all made their names elsewhere and maintain fanbases on the photo-sharing platform, Ferragni has found fame and fortune solely by publishing photographs of herself wearing a variety of designer ensembles in a range of glamorous locations. Now worth a reputed $12m, with a line of branded shoes selling at up to $500 a pair, and a contract with Pantene as a global ambassador, Ferragni is a role model to a generation of digital natives who have established a viable career as social media influencers.

On her 30th birthday earlier this month, her boyfriend, Italian rapper Fedez, proposed on stage in Verona, singing a song dedicated to her at a concert broadcast live to their home nation. Almost one million fans liked the Instagram video of the moment. That same day, almost half a million clicked the heart symbol below an image of her in a black mini dress, featuring the hashtag #ysl, while 700,000 followers liked another image Ferragni shared, showing her next to a vast 30th birthday cake emblazoned with the Leading Hotels of the World logo, with the hashtags #leadinghotelsoftheworld, #LHWtraveler and #kempinskivenice.

To those unfamiliar with the machinations of social media, it is highly likely Ferragni had a commercial arrangement with these luxury brands, keen to tap into an audience that wants to emulate her lifestyle. She is not alone in utilising her position as a social media star with a loyal and highly engaged following.

Earlier this month, 17-year-old Amanda Steele shared images of herself on the red carpet at the Cannes film festival, hanging out with Hollywood A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton. The YouTube beauty vlogger, who shares make-up tips under the MakeupbyMandy24 handle, was flown out to the French Riviera, dressed and made up, and given tickets to the premiere of Okja courtesy of Christian Dior all in return for a caption shared with her 2.8 million followers that read: Thank you sooooo much @diormakeup for treating me like a princess!!

In just a few years, the power of blogs and platforms such as Instagram has created a new marketing genre that has seen brands investing heavily in collaborations with the big names in the online space. Beca Alexander, founder and president of the social media casting and management agency Socialyte Collective, represents about 100 influencers, each with between 30,000 and 2 million followers.

One of our top influencers did about $1m last year and the average for those on our books is around $200,000 a year, says the digital entrepreneur from her New York office.

Chiara Ferragni on Instagram. Photograph: Chiara Ferragni/Instagram

There are a variety of ways they earn that revenue and we work on strategies that best suit the individual style and audience of each one. Some might focus on promoting as many brands and products as possible but always being aware of the natural synergy with their own brand, so it feels authentic while others have contracts with a curated range of brands to work on exclusive long-term campaigns.

Alexander, a former fashion news blogger who takes 10% commission from her portfolio of clients, founded her business seven years ago and has seen double-digit annual growth and a predicted 2.5 times rise in turnover this year. While women dominate the influencer space, she has also established a reputation for nurturing a number of male stars, such as her most successful client, Adam Gallagher, whose elegant, well-travelled lifestyle has won him a lucrative long-term contract with Armani fragrance.

When you get to the top tier of influencers, they go to great lengths to portray the perfect image online, often recruiting a retinue of still-life and style photographers, make-up artists, stylists, assistants and editors to support the burgeoning business of being a brand in their own right. Many have a signature style to their posts, using specific filters or a trademark pose, but the key, says Alexander, is to remember who your audience is and retain an authenticity that means they remain engaged with your output.

And you dont have to have a mega-following to earn money from social media: companies are spending up to $1.5bn on Instagram marketing, says Thomas Rankin of Dash Hudson, who matches influencers with brands. Even users with 5,000 followers can attract $250 for a product post or endorsement if they have the right audience.

Alexander developed a programme two years ago known as product bombing, whereby a co-ordinated campaign saw numerous, carefully selected micro-influencers paid to talk about a new product at a specified time, thus saturating the social media space within the target demographic. That worked really well, and created huge awareness and demand, seeing stock sellout rapidly, she says.

However, the speed of change within the tech world and the evolution of algorithms to change the user experience means this approach isnt as effective today. Instagram has recently changed the way consumers see posts, from a simple chronological feed, guaranteeing a user would see all posts in the order they appear, to a more nebulous feed based on the users individual engagement with those they follow.

Currently worth around $1.5m, Julia Engels pastel-tinted Gal meets glam feed is brimming with high fashion and has 1.1 million subscribers. She generates revenue using the popular app, which sends followers direct to websites selling the clothes: if they buy, she gets a commission. She has also collaborated with #AmExPlatinum in highly stylised posts that convey the perceived luxury lifestyle promoted by the financial services brand. Each one carries a carefully worded caption and the #ad tag, defining the post as a piece of paid-for advertising. This boundary between independent editorial posts and those that have been paid for in some way is one that is blurred in this new era of social media marketing.

We have no issue with social influencers working with brands, as long as consumers arent misled, says Guy Parker, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, which is working with the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the newly formed International Council of Advertising Self-Regulation to develop some kind of oversight of influencer marketing. We define advertising as a tweet, vlog, blog or Instagram post where the influencer has been paid and there has been some control over the content. We therefore expect the post to have #ad on it in a prominent position, not buried in 30 other hashtags, but in the first three lines of the caption, so it isnt hidden to followers. Its not fair to consumers to expect them to play detective and deduce whether something is an ad or not.

Many millennials believe this isnt necessary as they claim to be able to see whether content is sponsored, but we believe it is imperative to protect consumers who arent that savvy, and ensure they know.

Callum McCahon, strategy director at the social media agency Born Social, says the industry needs to be self-regulating, and that Instagram must take some responsibility for protecting consumers using their platform. Users scroll through feeds fast and are trained to skip past hashtags. I believe Instagram needs to have its own mandatory labelling system for a paid-for post, which Facebook which owns Instagram – has launched recently as branded content.

There is no doubt that a generation of style-conscious entrepreneurs are making a good living in some cases a fortune by building their own personal brands online with fan bases to rival many established global businesses. The challenge will be for newcomers to join a crowded market, and for those with a substantial following to keep them loyal.

The reason a brand is using an influencer is the trusting relationship they have with their followers, says McCahon. When its done properly it is a very effective method of building a brand and selling product.

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Aziz Ansari: I try to write political material then get tired of it

Considering the comedians career-cementing anti-Trump monologue on Saturday Night Live, the new season of Master of None is less topical than expected. What is he scared of?

Aziz Ansari is just back from lunch. He went to a hip udon noodle place he found right round the corner from the Soho hotel where were meeting. The food was delicious, the staff were friendly and yet he only managed the soup. Anyone familiar with Ansaris tummy-rumbling Netflix show Master of None will immediately realise the import of this news: Aziz Ansari is unwell. His assistant later confirms that jet lag has got the better of him, and certainly the Ansari half-slumped on the sofa in front of me is a lot less Tiggerish than the one who wowed with his Saturday Night Live opening monologue the morning after Trumps inauguration. Ive never felt more pressure before any standup Ive ever done, he recalls. Even friends of mine were like: Man, thats gonna be a tough gig, youd better come correct! yknow? But I feel like I pulled it off.

Aziz Ansaris opening monologue on Saturday Night Live on 21 January 2017

That he did. In less than 10 minutes, Ansari captured the nations mood, gave cheer to SNLs disconsolate liberal audience and found fresh punchlines in the most talked-about of topics (Im sure theres a lot of people voted for Trump the same way a lot of people listen to the music of Chris Brown, where its like: Hey, man! Im just here for the tunes. Im just here for the tunes! I dont know about that other stuff, was one of the many quotable lines). It was a triumph for the standup form. It was also, apparently, the moment that the funny, squeaky guy from that genial sitcom Parks and Recreation stepped up to the plate. Ansari sighs: I think thats a narrative people have taken on the press tour Ive done this year. Like: Ooh; like, yknow, Because of the Trump SNL monologue, ooh, you became political.

As some of his fans seem to have only recently discovered, Ansari comes from a Muslim family, his parents having moved to small-town South Carolina from Tamil Nadu, India, in the early 80s. This detail aside, his rise through the ranks has followed a well-trodden path for successful US comedians. He first got a taste for standup after moving to New York City to study marketing at NYU and hanging around at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village. He then got a regular MCing gig at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, the same bicoastal improv group with whom the likes of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Zach Galifianakis and Jordan Peele honed their skills. After two seasons of an MTV sketch show with his group Human Giant, he joined the cast of NBCs Parks and Rec and Tom Haverford, an unlikely Americas Sweetheart, was born.

The Italian sob The homage to Bicycle Thieves in season two of Master of None. Photograph: Netflix

However, its Master of None, the Netflix series he directs and co-writes with former Parks and Rec writer Alan Yang, that most comprehensively conveys the Ansari worldview. He stars as Dev Shah, a less successful version of himself who still manages to lead a charmed NYC life of checking out new restaurants, talking pop culture with his pals and, in the recently launched second season, hosting a Food Network show called Clash of the Cupcakes. The season two opener is a black-and-white tribute to Bicycle Thieves, set in a racism-free Italy with mostly subtitled Italian dialogue, but Ansari says other than the obvious neo-realist flourishes, there is no wish-fulfilment or fantasy element to the series. He really did spend a few weeks Eat-Pray-Loving around northern Italy and he really did learn to speak Italian that fluently. Yeah, I enjoy learning languages and, yknow, I was also living in Japan for a couple of months, he says. When you really live there, you get better quicker.

Master of Nones willingness to experiment places it in the standup-does-sitcom tradition of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louie, but its much friendlier, happier and lighter in tone. Also, neither Louis CK nor Larry David would do an episode quite like season twos Religion, in which Dev upsets his Muslim parents (played by Ansaris own Muslim parents, Fatima and breakout star dad Shoukath) by ordering pork at a restaurant after pretending to be pious (Im not that religious. And I eat pork, Dev announces in a speech to his parents, but its OK cos Im a good person and Im 33 years old and I can make those decisions!). Today, Ansari downplays the importance of the episode. It wasnt like, Oh, we have a responsibility to do this, he says. That was a funny idea we had and it just kind of worked.

Watch the trailer for season two of Master of None

If his material feels more political now, thats a consequence of internal rather than external changes. I never would suppress anything, but I think as you get older, you get better and I probably was able to do some trickier stuff, he says. I mean, Ive always had ideas about race and everything, but Would he say he made an effort in the past to appeal to white audiences by avoiding anything too confrontational? Absolutely not. Definitely dont care what white people think. I just try to make stuff that I think is good and hopefully people like it, regardless of their race or gender or anything. He pauses: Yeah. If I was trying to please white people I would probably have done a goofy Indian accent early in my career and gotten parts.

In fact, far from being a people-pleaser who belatedly realised his political responsibilities, Ansari is so profoundly chill, he barely even registers the audiences expectations. His fellow standup and mentor Chris Rock has said he had to remind Ansari to get political in that SNL monologue, though Ansaris recollection is slightly different. I knew I had to talk about Trump, he says, but initially when I was working on the set I had some stuff about Trump and some stuff about relationships and he was like: Its gonna have to be all about Trump, man. And I was like: Yeah, youre probably right.

Unusually among comedians, he claims not to be driven by any maniacal need to make people laugh. Master of Nones second series has some very funny moments, but its gag-per-minute rate is more mumblecore-like dramedy than sitcom. One episode features three whole, dialogue-free minutes in which the camera just rests on Devs regretful face as Soft Cells Say Hello, Wave Goodbye plays in the background. Were pretty aware of that stuff, says Ansari. You just have to have your own internal barometer. And if youre not being funny it better be very interesting or dramatic or cool.

He has already warned us to expect a long, Curb Your Enthusiasm-style wait for season three: There is a world where maybe we dont do a third season. I dont know. Ansari is polite and engaged, but he does have this way of saying I dont know that turns the three-word phrase into a single consonant-free shrug of indifference. Maybe its the jet lag. It would be convenient, wouldnt it, if Ansari was the comedy hero who came along at just the right time to unite a divided US? In so many ways, he seems like our guy: a big-city, New York sophisticate with small-town, Red State roots; a millennial atheist who tries to be respectful to his religious parents; the son of immigrants, whose optimistic outlook and propensity for graft couldnt be more in keeping with the American dream. But a man isnt just a list of biographical facts and Ansari the artist is more interested in doing Vittorio De Sica homages, riffing on the minutiae of modern romance, and seeking out the best tacos in Brooklyn. I can only make what Im inspired by, he says. If I try to force stuff and do what I feel like Im obligated to do, I think just it wont be good, he says.

Parental value Aziz Ansari with his parents Fatima and Shoukath. Photograph: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

There have been moments when he has felt a responsibility to do more, I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times at one point, he recalls. It was published last June and titled Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family (In our culture, he wrote, when people think Muslim, the picture in their heads is not usually of the Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai or the kid who left the boyband One Direction. Its of a scary terrorist character from Homeland or some monster from the news). It felt genuine to talk about that because it affects my parents, he says. But I did it because I knew I could make that good. When Im trying to make stuff I just think: Whats something that I would be really proud of to show my peers, my friends and people I respect?

Ansaris friends and peers famously include not only Rock and Poehler but Kanye West and Jay Z. One reason why he doesnt feel particularly inspired by the harsh realities of Trumps America is that, as he openly admits, he hasnt experienced them. He may have been the only Indian kid at his high school but this was pre-9/11. If I was in that situation now, I think it would be hellish because of all the stuff in the culture, but back then there was nothing, he says. Theyd only seen white people and black people, so they had nothing to, like, make fun of me about. What about more recently? Has he had any interactions that he would characterise as Islamaphobic? Me? he scoffs at the suggestion. No! Like if Im in the airport or whatever, people recognise me! Theyre super-nice to me! I have the most atypical experience of any Muslim American. Perhaps hes just not temperamentally suited to too much heavy stuff. I remember after 9/11, I was reading the news all the time, he says. I would try to write political material and then I kind of got tired of it, because its like, when you read the news all the time it just kind of puts you in a negative mood. I dont know. If every day youre starting your day reading this stuff, thats just such a bummer.

Master of Nones second series is sometimes wistful in tone, but its never, ever a bummer. These are the everyday, everyman struggles that could pass for the fantasy sequences of a less fulfilled comic, but not in Ansaris show. Thats just the kind of happy-go-lucky guy he is.

Season two of Master of None is streaming now on Netflix

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Robin Wright has a powerful message for people who think female superheroes aren’t for boys

Much has been said about the impact female-led movies like Wonder Womanthe first female superhero movie to be released in yearswill have on young girls, but one of the films stars is apt to remind us who else the film should have an impact on.

Robin Wright, who plays Dianas aunt and trainer, General Antiope, in Wonder Woman, appeared on The Late Show to chat with Stephen Colbert Wednesday night. After watching a clip of Antiopes fighting, Colbert was in awe and mentioned how great it was for girls to be able to see Wonder Woman and the Amazonian warriors on screen.

This is exciting, Colbert told Wright. Weve got a movie now where little girls can look up and see, you know, female superheroes for the first time in a movie theater. Taking nothing away from Black Widow, but pretty extraordinary.

And little boys, Wright added.

Its a quieter moment in the grand scheme of things, and you can see Wright pause just a moment before she said it. And it doesnt get mentioned again for the rest of the interview, which covers everything from Wonder Woman and House of Cards to the short film she directed. But it didnt really faze Colbert all that much, who ended up agreeing with Wright.

And little boys, of course, Colbert said. Id love to be able to do what does in there.

Colberts original point, that seeing Wonder Woman on a movie screen will have an impact for many young girls is true. Its the first female-led comic book movie since Elektra, which was poorly received and flopped. Before that was Catwoman, a movie that also performed poorly at the box office. Neither of those were good movies, but the complete lack of female-led films until now led some to believe that movie executives felt that those films failed because nobody wanted to see a female superhero movie (and not because they were, you know, bad).

Fears that Wonder Woman would fall victim to a self-fulfilling prophecy from Warner Bros. were still on the surface for some fans in the lead up to the movie, as they pointed to the then-lack of marketing. While initial reactions to Wonder Womanhave beenoverwhelmingly positive, so much had been riding on the movie (not just as a female superhero movie but also the next film in a DC Comics lineup thats been largely panned so far) that the reveal of positive reviews felt like a huge relief more than something to celebrate. (Thank god its good, basically.)

Even though Hollywood has been better about putting complex and layered female characters at the forefront of blockbuster films, it still happens so infrequently that its still seen a big dealand something many women wish they couldve had when they grew up. Rey is the Force-sensitive hero many girls and women have been waiting for. Jyn Erso transferred the Death Star plans that made it possible to finally blow up the Empires superweapon. Supergirl and Jessica Jones both made ways on television, as did Agent Carter before its cancellation.Star Trek: Discovery is led by women of color.

But its still not great. We have Black Widow and the Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we had to wait 20 films before we finally got one led by a womanand thats assuming Captain Marvel doesnt get delayed a third time to fit another movie into its packed schedule. The two female-led superhero TV shows are often pitted against one another despite the fact theres plenty of room for both of them. Weve seen 10 iterations of Batman, more than half a dozen actors play Superman, but it took until 2017 for Wonder Woman to get her own film (and its been decades since Lynda Carter brought her to life on TV). The notion that one in decades is enough or that making genre movies about people other than white men is political correctness gone awry persists among parts of geek culture.

And that doesnt even cover the lack of diversity in most of these films. Theyre overwhelmingly whitewith many people of color in just secondary or minor rolesand it wont be until 2018 when we get Black Panther, the first black superhero film of the MCU or DC Expanded Universe.

As important as it is for girls to see themselves on the big screen, Wright is right. Its just as important for young boys to see these women there too. Putting more female characters that boys can look up to may chip away at the notion that theyre just for girls. And by seeing them, boys can grow up with female characters and role models who are just as strong and capable as male characters.

Characters like Wonder Woman are just as worth rooting for, and in movie universes where superpowers and the Force exist, the idea that boys can relate to strong and powerful women shouldnt still be considered a fantasy.

We can hope that Wonder Womans likely box office success jumpstarts the push for more female superheroes. On a cultural level, with boys and girls alike, weve already seen the cultural impact over and over again.

Its downright heroic.

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Trump’s Budget Hurts Women More Than Men, And No One Is Surprised

President Donald Trump just released his budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which has been dubbed A New Foundation For American Greatness.

The budget is already generating controversy and backlash, and its poised to meet a great deal of opposition in Congressfrom both Democrats and Republicans.

Trumps budget calls for a 10 percent increase in defense spending, which is already Americas largest expenditure, and over $2.6 billion for border security.

Meanwhile, it calls for cutting over $800 billion from Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, over the next decade.

Whats more, it calls for slashing $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion from welfare programs.

So, anyone who is poor or sick would be hit especially hard by this.

But, women, in particular, would suffer a great deal if this budget passes.

Trumps budget hits programs that benefit women, especially low-income women.

President Trumps budget includes a six-week federal paid parental leave policy, which is an unusual move for a Republican.

Overall, however, his budget is awful for women.

The New York Times analyzed Trumps budget, and found it targetsprograms that tend tospend more on women than men.

Programs that tend to benefit women would see an 8 percent decrease in spending, while programs that tend to benefit men would only see a 2 percent decrease.

The New York Times

The massive cuts to Medicaid would be particularly damaging to women, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute.

This is because women make up the majority of Medicaids beneficiaries (53 percent). Nearly 40 million women rely on Medicaid for healthcare.

Trumps budget cuts also target welfare programs for low-income women (and children), such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.

Women are twice as likely as men to rely on food stamps, and over 7.8 million women and children relied on WIC benefits in 2016.

Trumps budget is a direct attack on reproductive rights.

President Trumps budget withholds all federal funds from Planned Parenthood and any other organization that provides abortions.

Planned Parenthood has never used federal funds for abortion services, because its illegal (read up on the Hyde Amendment).

But in the GOPs perpetualbattle to politicize womens health, the Trump administration is once again attack an institution that provides vital services to millions of women including cancer screenings as well as STD testing and treatment.

If Republicans really want to prevent abortions, perhaps they shouldnt cut funding to an institution thats the largest provider of sex education in America (hint hint: Planned Parenthood).

The vast majority of Planned Parenthoods patients are women, and 60 percent of their patients rely on federal funds for their preventative and primary care.

If Trumps budget passes in its current form, it would have a detrimental impact on these women, and theyd be placed in a very difficult situation in terms of finding affording reproductive health care.

Planned Parenthood

Women with student loans who are nurses, teachers, public defenders, or law enforcement officers would also be hit hard by this bill.

President Obama created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, whichpledged to to cancel any remaining student debt for individuals who work for the government or nonprofits if theyve been making their payments on time for 10 years.

Teachers, nurses and public defenders often meet the qualifications to benefit from this.

Women make up roughly 75 percent of teachers, over 90 percent of nurses and the majority of public defenders.

If Trumps budget goes through, the program Obama created would be eliminated and women in these positions may have to pay a median of $60,000 in student debt, according to Fortune.

Budget proposals from presidents are often more of an outline of an administrations priorities rather than a realistic piece of legislation.

With that said, with this budget, Trump has signified to the country he does not see womens health, education, and general well-being as top priorities.

Given Trump once said you have to treat women like sh*t, perhaps we shouldnt be surprised.

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Online top ranking: what does Amazon Charts mean for the book industry?

Amazons new rating system for the book market is seeking to challenge the decades-long dominance of the New York Times bestseller status

For nine decades, the New York Times bestseller lists have been the industry gold standard when it comes to obtaining a seal of approval that will make readers sit up and pay attention. But like most things in the book industry, its something Amazon has in its sights.

Last week the online retailer launched Amazon Charts, which complements the sites usual hourly updates of bestselling books. The new list combines whats being ordered from them with data obtained from Kindle and Audible users to find out what books are actually being read and listened to.

Its an interesting algorithm, and one that has been utilised before, but never formally by Amazon in this way. In 2014, the mathematician Jordan Ellenberg created an index of the most abandoned books, based on Kindle data. So while every man and his dog might have bought a copy of Stephen Hawkings A Brief History of Time and Thomas Pinkettys Capital in the Twenty-First Century, not everyone actually read them.

Amazon Charts might open up a whole new set of bestsellers based on books actually read rather than books bought as coffee-table status symbols. But will this carry more weight with the publishing industry and readers than the venerable New York Times bestseller tag, which has been the go-to example of bragging rights since 1931?

On the face of it, Amazon Charts might democratise and re-evaluate the bestseller concept, but on the other like Coca Cola, KFC and Big Mac special sauce nobody really knows what actually goes into the New York Times bestseller list.

It certainly isnt just a roundup of physical books bought over the counter at bricks-and-mortar stores. A request for an explanation and a breakdown of audience figures for the various NYT bestseller lists which are posted online was greeted with a firm: We dont share traffic data at the section level.

The New York Times has a reasonably detailed explanation of its methodology online, without actually giving away the actual 11 herbs and spices that give it its market-leading flavour. To summarise: Rankings reflect unit sales reported on a confidential basis by vendors offering a wide range of general interest titles The panel of reporting retailers is comprehensive and reflects sales in stores of all sizes and demographics across the United States.

Methods of data collection notwithstanding, can Amazon oust the New York Times for that all-important blurb on a books cover that denotes something being so popular that you just cant afford to not read it? Does the New York Times bestseller tag actually help to shift more units anyway?

I do believe the tag helps sell more books, says Liz Stein, senior editor with HarperCollins imprint Park Row Books. Theres prestige associated with being a New York Times bestseller, and industry influencers and booksellers take notice of it. I believe consumers are looking for an affirmation that a book performed well/is popular when making their decision.

Amazon Charts are based on real-time orders and whats being read on Kindle and listened to on Audible Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

One advantage Amazon has is that it subdivides literary categories almost to an atomic level, which has both pros and cons. On the one hand, it gives a leg up to authors working in a genre that might not have its own New York Times bestseller category, and who might never trouble the upper reaches of the general fiction sales charts.

In general, I do not think the Amazon bestseller tag will carry as much weight for literary works, Stein says. Though for genre books, for which a New York Times tag is not possible due to their evaluation system, it might serve the purpose in the same way as a validation that this book stood out above the others.

Two authors who are going all out for an Amazon bestseller tag are Canada-based life coach Mark Desvaux and Mark Stay, who works in publishing in London. They are attempting to write a book that will hit the top of Amazons chart listings in any category and charting their efforts in a weekly podcast called The Bestseller Experiment in which they interview other authors aiming for the same dream.

Stay reckons Amazon bestseller rankings can allow authors who dont usually trouble the traditional bestseller lists to come into their own. Weve interviewed indie authors who regularly outsell the kind of household-name authors you see on the New York and London Times bestsellers, he says.

It feels like this chart signifies that the indie author sector has come of age. When we speak to these authors its clear that they take the business side of things very seriously, and are passionate about their craft, and its great to see them get some recognition.

But what means more, the New York Times or Amazon? British author Sarah Pinboroughs psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes hit the New York Times bestseller list when it was published in the US by Flatiron Books earlier this year, with attendant stellar Amazon sales. Does she have a preference for which is going to sell more copies for her?

I think both are good to be honest, says Pinborough, diplomatically. But there is something so fabulous when you get that New York Times bestseller tag on your book that it will take a while before it has the same effect on the ego of the author at the very least.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to the New York Times dominance of the bestseller market is the fact that, according to publishing consultant Rob Eagar, not enough publishers capitalise on it. Writing for Book Business magazine earlier last month, he said that although the status of having a New York Times bestseller remains undiminished, its a lost opportunity if customers dont know about it.

Today, people make most of their purchasing decisions on smartphones, tablets, and computer screens, wrote Eagar. When browsing books online, all they get to see is a small cover image and a few sentences of marketing copy. There isnt much screen space or much time to connect with a consumers limited attention span. If the language and imagery isnt obvious, people can miss the fact that a book is a bestseller.

Which, given that latest estimates suggest 69% of all book sales are done online rather than in physical stores, is an omission you can bet Amazon will not make when it comes to shouting about its own bestseller lists.

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Locked out of China, South Korea’s K-pop stars are heading to the US

(CNN)China’s loss is America’s gain.

“China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner and many Chinese are big fans of Korean pop culture,” said Ellen Kong, CEO of Elf Asia, a Hong Kong promotion company specializing in K-pop.
“But the impact of THAAD has been substantial,” she added, referencing China’s staunch opposition to the US backed missile shield now housed in South Korea. “It’s meant China is no longer a viable market for K-pop touring acts.”
    The result according to industry insiders, has been a marked upswing in K-pop acts touring in the US.
    “Around 8 years ago or so, it was very rare for K-pop artists to tour in the US, but now it has become quite common,” said Paul Han, co-founder of allkpop, a site for K-pop gossip and news, which has 10 million monthly readers worldwide.
    “Back then, K-pop fans in the US used to say, ‘I wish I could go to Korea to attend their concert,’ but now since a lot of K-pop artists are now having concerts in New York and LA, it’s more like ‘I wish I lived closer to those cities’ or ‘I wish they would come to my city, instead of the same cities all the time'” added Han.
    In 2013, there were seven concert tours in the US, 14 in 2014 and 2015, then 20 in 2016. So far, there have been 14 in 2017 alone, including the recent tour announced by K-pop icon G-Dragon, from the extremely popular boy band Big Bang. And, for the first time a K-pop band has won a Billboard Music Award. BTS won the Top Social Artist Award on May 21. The seven-member band toured three cities in the U.S. in March and April and finish off their sold-out world tour in Japan this July.
    “With groups unable to tour in China due to the fallout relating to the THAAD crisis, I believe we’re going to see another record year for groups touring across the US this year,” said CEO of Koreaboo, Flowsion Shekar, a popular content platform specializing in K-pop with a reach of over 50 million.

    K-pop diplomacy

    Despite China’s foreign ministry repeatedly denying that the country has placed restrictions on South Korea, the topic was outlined as an agenda item in diplomatic talks between the two countries during a visit to Beijing on Friday and Saturday by Lee Hae-chan, South Korea’s special envoy.
    “The relationship between South Korea and China is quite strained,” said Lee on Thursday before his departure. “I believe the discussion will be focused to resolve economic, Korean wave, tourism interactions.” Korean wave is a phrase commonly used to describe popular Korean culture and music.
    Not that North American K-pop fans are complaining. North Carolina teenager Kylie Grant is just one of thousands of fans for whom the arrival of mainstream K-pop acts couldn’t have come sooner.
    “It was a once in a life-time opportunity I knew I would regret if I didn’t take,” said Grant, 19, who recently purchased tickets to K-pop boy band SHINee in Dallas. “My friends and family thought it was crazy at first, but after some convincing they all said it was kind of amazing that I would fly across the country just to see a concert.”
    The tour was SHINee’s first in North America, taking in Dallas, Los Angeles and Canada. At the weekend, the K-pop powerhouse performed in Hong Kong, and on June 11 in Taipei.
    “‘The thought of going to see our fans that have been supporting us from so far away made my heart flutter a bit,” said band member Lee Tae-min, 23, known as “Taemin.”

    Finding and appreciating K-pop fans

    In Dallas and Los Angeles, Lee and the rest of SHINee band members spoke English between the songs, sharing how much they appreciated fans learning Korean and their own love for American food, like In-N-Out burgers.
    Unlike the now typical mercurial K-pop bands, SHINee has been around for almost a decade, constantly evolving their look and sound. Fans, known as “Shawols,” are drawn to SHINee for their dance choreography, along with their unique mix of R&B, electronica, rap and rock.
    In the last year, several K-pop bands disbanded for various reasons, including scandal. But, one of the reasons for SHINee’s longevity, said Shekar, is the group’s “zero controversy … Every member has held a pristine reputation and have earned themselves an incredible reputation with Korean and international fans.”
    Los Angeles-based production company SubKulture Entertainment was able to almost sell out SHINee’s US concerts by targeting fans online, like Grant who discovered SHINee through YouTube.
    “Our customer base, like most millennials are very Internet savvy and acquire most of their information about K-pop via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), which is where we like to focus the majority of our marketing efforts,” said Subkulture Entertainment CEO Derek Lee.
    But now in their 20s, SHINee members are growing out of their “boy band” and “Princes of K-pop” monikers. They are also near the age of military enlistment for South Korean males, a destiny that threatens to tear other bands like Big Bang apart.
    And while SHINee declined to talk about the military, they do plan to perform in the US again sometime soon.
    “We hope that through our tour, K-pop and K-pop concerts will continue to leave a mark on a market as big as the US,” said Taemin.

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    Why Bad Moods Are Good For You: The Surprising Benefits Of Sadness

    Homo sapiens is a very moody species. Even though sadness and bad moods have always been part of the human experience, we now live in an age that ignores or devalues these feelings. The Conversation

    In our culture, normal human emotions like temporary sadness are often treated as disorders. Manipulative advertising, marketing and self-help industries claim happiness should be ours for the asking. Yet bad moods remain an essential part of the normal range of moods we regularly experience.

    Despite the near-universal cult of happiness and unprecedented material wealth, happiness and life satisfaction in Western societies has not improved for decades.

    Its time to re-assess the role of bad moods in our lives. We should recognise they are a normal, and even a useful and adaptive part of being human, helping us cope with many everyday situations and challenges.

    A short history of sadness

    In earlier historical times, short spells of feeling sad or moody (known as mild dysphoria) have always been accepted as a normal part of everyday life. In fact, many of the greatest achievements of the human spirit deal with evoking, rehearsing and even cultivating negative feelings.

    Greek tragedies exposed and trained audiences to accept and deal with inevitable misfortune as a normal part of human life. Shakespeares tragedies are classics because they echo this theme. And the works of many great artists such as Beethoven and Chopin in music, or Chekhov and Ibsen in literature explore the landscape of sadness, a theme long recognised as instructive and valuable.

    Ancient philosophers have also believed accepting bad moods is essential to living a full life. Even hedonist philosophers like Epicurus recognised living well involves exercising wise judgement, restraint, self-control and accepting inevitable adversity.

    Other philosophers like the stoics also highlighted the importance of learning to anticipate and accept misfortunes, such as loss, sorrow or injustice.

    What is the point of sadness?

    Psychologists who study how our feelings and behaviours have evolved over time maintain all our affective states (such as moods and emotions) have a useful role: they alert us to states of the world we need to respond to.

    In fact, the range of human emotions includes many more negative than positive feelings. Negative emotions such as fear, anger, shame or disgust are helpful because they help us recognise, avoid and overcome threatening or dangerous situations.

    But what is the point of sadness, perhaps the most common negative emotion, and one most practising psychologists deal with?

    Intense and enduring sadness, such as depression, is obviously a serious and debilitating disorder. However, mild, temporary bad moods may serve an important and useful adaptive purpose, by helping us to cope with everyday challenges and difficult situations. They also act as a social signal that communicates disengagement, withdrawal from competition and provides a protective cover. When we appear sad or in a bad mood, people often are concerned and are inclined to help.

    When were sad, other people show concern and want to help. Joshua Clay/Unsplash

    Some negative moods, such as melancholia and nostalgia (a longing for the past) may even be pleasant and seem to provide useful information to guide future plans and motivation.

    Sadness can also enhance empathy, compassion, connectedness and moral and aesthetic sensibility. And sadness has long been a trigger for artistic creativity.

    Recent scientific experiments document the benefits of mild bad moods, which often work as automatic, unconscious alarm signals, promoting a more attentive and detailed thinking style. In other words, bad moods help us to be more attentive and focused in difficult situations.

    In contrast, positive mood (like feeling happy) typically serves as a signal indicating familiar and safe situations and results in a less detailed and attentive processing style.

    Psychological benefits of sadness

    There is now growing evidence that negative moods, like sadness, has psychological benefits.

    To demonstrate this, researchers first manipulate peoples mood (by showing happy or sad films, for example), then measure changes in performance in various cognitive and behavioural tasks.

    Feeling sad or in a bad mood produces a number of benefits:

    • better memory In one study, a bad mood (caused by bad weather) resulted in people better remembering the details of a shop they just left. Bad mood can also improve eyewitness memories by reducing the effects of various distractions, like irrelevant, false or misleading information.

    • more accurate judgements A mild bad mood also reduces some biases and distortions in how people form impressions. For instance, slightly sad judges formed more accurate and reliable impressions about others because they processed details more effectively. We found that bad moods also reduced gullibility and increased scepticism when evaluating urban myths and rumours, and even improved peoples ability to more accurately detect deception. People in a mild bad mood are also less likely to rely on simplistic stereotypes.

    • motivation Other experiments found that when happy and sad participants were asked to perform a difficult mental task, those in a bad mood tried harder and persevered more. They spent more time on the task, attempted more questions and produced more correct answers.

    • better communication The more attentive and detailed thinking style promoted by a bad mood can also improve communication. We found people in a sad mood used more effective persuasive arguments to convince others, were better at understanding ambiguous sentences and better communicated when talking.

    • increased fairness Other experiments found that a mild bad mood caused people to pay greater attention to social expectations and norms, and they treated others less selfishly and more fairly.

    Counteracting the cult of happiness

    By extolling happiness and denying the virtues of sadness, we set an unachievable goal for ourselves. We may also be causing more disappointment, some say even depression.

    It is also increasingly recognised that being in a good mood, despite some advantages, is not universally desirable.

    Feeling sad or in a bad mood helps us to better focus on the situation we find ourselves in, and so increases our ability to monitor and successfully respond to more demanding situations.

    These findings suggest the unrelenting pursuit of happiness may often be self-defeating. A more balanced assessment of the costs and benefits of good and bad moods is long overdue.

    If feelings of sadness persist, contact your GP, Lifeline 13 11 14, beyondblue 1300 22 4636 or SANE Australia 1800 18 7263.

    Joseph Paul Forgas, Scientia Professor of Psychology, UNSW

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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