Designs of the Year show Uncertainty

The Design Museum in London has just announced its 87 candidates for the Design of the Year Award, reports the Guardian.  The Design Museum holds this exhibition each year and is an excellent way to learn about developments in transport, architecture, fashion and graphics. This year Aric Chan who curated the exhibition says, “Designers are always very good at responding to the world around them and, if anything, the world around us is probably defined by uncertainty … things that seemed clear in our minds are no longer so. That might include what is human or natural and what is artificial, or the blurring of gender.”

The Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition runs from 12th September until 6th January. Some of this year’s highlights might be the boot made from mushrooms to be worn on Mars – created using human sweat; the costumes designed for the film Black Panther; or an activity centre and museum in southern Denmark made entirely from Lego. You will learn about environmental, social and political issues at this exhibition which fits nicely with the critical thinking needed in PSHCE.

black panther

The Design Museum in London is located near Holland Park. The exhibition referred to on this page costs £9.50 as a student, £6.50 for a child and £12 as an adult. However there is also a decent amount to see at the museum which is completely free.

McCain We are Family Advert 2017

The McCain advert from 2017 (other oven chips are available) had such a lovely sentiment about family. It popped up again on TV yesterday evening.

types of family

The advert was done by advertising agency Adam&Eve/DDB.  It celebrates families of all kinds: the grandmother that puts you to bed, the working mom, the divorced “weekend dads who pick you up and let you stay up late,” the “two daddies” and friends are really like your own blood. The voiceover is done by Ricky Tomlinson, was was in the popular ’90s family sitcom “The Royle Family”.

About a month after it was first screened the advert was cut down to 30 seconds and guess who got the chop? It was the gay dads. A McCain spokesman said: “Our campaign is all about celebrating the diversity of family life and not everybody’s a normal family. There’s only so much you can say in 30 seconds. We’re still promoting them, they’re in the posters and we’ve got them on social media.”

gay couple

The original idea for the advert arose from the insight that half of British people don’t think popular culture reflects the reality of modern families. Research showed that 84% of consumers were unable to recall seeing anything in popular culture that featured a family like their own in over the last six months. Do you see families like your own enough on TV and in film?

McCain didn’t stop with its Family advert, in 2018 they did an advert Here’s to Love.  Again it is voiced by Ricky Tomlinson and shows real couples going about their everyday lives at mealtimes.



Leading Lady Parts

A few weeks ago the BBC broadcast a comedy short , called Leading Lady Parts. It only lasts 10 minutes so is worth a watch, and is simply a satirical look at the audition process for the role of Leading Lady.  It was written and directed by Jessica Swale, and boasts an award-winning cast of  Gemma Arterton, Gemma Chan, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Tom Hiddleston, Felicity Jones, Katie Leung, Stacy Martin, Wunmi Mosaku, Florence Pugh, Catherine Tate and Anthony Welsh.


The British Film Institute studied over 10,000 UK movies from 1911-2017 to produce a study of gender disparity in film:


The Paradox of Tolerance

Tolerance is a self-contradictory principle. You’ve probably realised this from your everyday life and musings on world events. Basically as a principle tolerance means we  must be tolerant of everything. People can’t just pick and choose what they are going to tolerate and what they aren’t. So this all means that tolerance requires us to tolerate even intolerance. Ouch! Not so easy!

In other words, the principle of tolerance requires us to grant intolerant people the right to be intolerant. But this all a bit twisted as tolerance is supposed to be the opposite of  intolerance, and it just means that it is supporting the very thing it is supposed to be against. This might even lead you to think it makes more sense to be intolerant. The intolerant person’s simple motto is: “I like the things I like and I hate the things I hate, and I will hate the people who like the things I hate, and I will make that hate known to them in no uncertain terms.” Hold on though, this certainly isn’t going to create a friendly, open, free, democratic society as there will be no tolerance.

Let’s look to Karl Popper to make some sense out of all this:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. From Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies


Karl Popper preferred a tolerant society where people are allowed freedom of speech. He said that only when intolerant ideas could not be rationally argued and society risked falling into an intolerant system should those intolerant ideas be suppressed.  To repeat things a bit, he said, “I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.” Popper’s ideas are debated today when people try to make sense of world events where ideas of tolerance and intolerance are clashing on a seemingly daily basis. A bit further back in 2011, Demos and the Open Society Institute debated diversity and solidarity. Their discussions touched upon the paradox of tolerance.

paradoxoftolerance Karl Popper

We’re going on a bee hunt!

On Monday the Bee in the City art trail which consists of 101 bee sculptures was unveiled to the public. Local artists have done a unique design for each one and at the end of the project all the bees will be auctioned off for the Lord Mayor’s We Love MCR charity. People have been heading out onto the streets of Manchester to spot the bees, sending their photographs in to the Manchester Evening News.

Love Bee

This bee is called The Love Bee and was created by Nisha Grover. The faith symbols along the bottom represent Manchester’s commitment to standing together, united by love and the belief in the goodness of people.

Why not head to Manchester and get searching; the trail will be in place until September 23rd.

Ariane Grande trying to break the glass ceiling

We can’t ignore the new song by Ariane Grande called God is a Woman.

The video is filled to the brim with religious imagery…

  • Ariana Grande is at the center of the universe as some sort of enormous godlike figure, hula-hooping the galaxy that surrounds her.
  • Then she is naked and partially submerged in a pool of pink and purple paint
  • She dances inside the flame of a candle

in a candle

  • She is worshipped by a choir dressed in all-white robes.

praying in white

  • She sits on top of the world, touching provocatively the eye of a hurricane potentially considering natural evil
  • At the end there is the all-female recreation of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam which replaces Adam with Eve and God with Ariane Grande

Ariana-Grande micha

  • There is also Mother Earth imagery when Grande descends a mountain and strokes her growing, animated pregnant belly
  • Ariane walks a tightrope against an all-pink backdrop where you might think she’s holding balloons but actually she’s holding a cluster of planets.
  • Then there’s a spoken-word assist from Madonna, when Grande, wearing gloves that read “POWER” mouths Madonna’s reading of Ezekiel 25:17, the verse made famous by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, replacing “brothers” with “sisters”: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my sisters. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”

However the song is obviously about sexual relationships: “You love it how I move you / You love it how I touch you / My one, when all is said and done / You’ll believe God is a woman.” Ariana doesn’t seem to mind if people ‘don’t get it’ as at one point in the video, she sits whilst small men hurl words like bitch, fake, and annoying at her. These words of criticism just bounce right off her.

little men

It is really controversial to refer to the Christian God in female rather than male terms. Some would even call it blasphemy and against the Decalogue (Ten Commandments). Most versions of the Bible and language about God has God as male. However there is some history to speaking about God as female. St Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109, talked of “Christ, my mother”.

Sexism Against Men

A stay at home father has complained about the sexism he has faced when looking after his daughter. Matthew Jenkin points out that even the names of many activities are usually targeted at mothers only, when in reality a father could easily join in if he wished: “Mum and yoga”, “Mum and baby salsa”, “Mum and me ballet”, “Mum and baby crawler”. Meanwhile all of the groups for fathers are scheduled for the weekend only.

Another example of sexism against men are how the health retailer Superdrug’s website, has a ‘mother and baby’ section but no such alternative section for men. A single dad, Dave Darby wrote on his Facebook page: “I find this somewhat derogatory towards fathers and their children and respectfully ask that this is changed to parent and baby. thus making it politically correct and also Superdrug acknowledging that men can also be single parents.”

The author David Benatar has further examples of sexism against men. Firstly that social norms mostly encourage men, but rarely women, into military conscription and combat, causing millions of men to die or suffer physically and psychologically. This is true of World War I and II in Britain. Secondly he says the male disadvantage in terms of child custody in divorce cases, paternity leave, and thirdly the shorter life expectancy of men as compared to women.

Sometimes the language we use is unfair towards men and boys too. When we say things like “Boys don’t cry,” and “Stop being such a pussy.” Boys do cry and using the word “pussy” as an insult hurts women too. This is basically idealising some hyper masculinity which begins with re-enforcing a stereotype that boys and men are supposed to live in or else they aren’t Real Men.

There is a word for sexism against men: misandry. Misandry is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys.  Either “misandrous” or “misandristic” can be used as adjectival forms of the word.

You can even see examples of misandry in historical sources: