Why The Try Guys are exactly the channel we need right now.

I heard about The Try Guys when I saw a BuzzFeed video featuring guys contouring their boobs. Naturally, I was convinced that it was some kind of joke, but I clicked and was excited to see adult males being open to trying new things. This is what I’ve been wanting from YouTube. I’ve been watching every video that these four guys make since then and I couldn’t be more satisfied. This is what we NEED to be watching and it mostly has to do with the level of representation on this channel.

Firstly, this group of men is 3/4 white. This comes across as being not diverse when you look at the stats, but it is completely okay in the context of their brand. Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, and Zach Kornfeld are three white men who frequently comment on how bland they are. They want to learn about certain topics that would usually go in the hands of coloured people and I think that is perfectly legitimate. If our society is dominated by white men who stereotypically live through their day, we aren’t making any progress. It is awesome to see white men trying to change the racial norms that currently stagger us. Examples of these videos would be when they try K-Pop, cosplay, BDSM and more.

Looking at sexually orientation, again, it is three-quarters straight. When the men discuss topics like fashion or body image, it is clear that they look to Eugene Yang, the one racially-diverse and queer member of the group for guidance. Eugene helps to tie up all the loose strands when it comes to videos that need representation of all groups. He offers insight of what it actually feels like to be from a minority group so that it doesn’t just look like the other men are making fun of these topics. For example, on December 7 2014, BuzzFeedVideo uploaded “The Try Guys Try Drag For The First Time”. We see the process that these men go through of getting tucked, putting on full face make-up and working the runway—all things that many gay men are doing for a living. With help from professional drag queens, The Try Guys learn about this intense kind of job with complete openness. Videos like these and many others help to break the stigma of who can appreciate drag and why it doesn’t have to be labeled as “a gay thing”.

Now, it is true that they are all men. This wouldn’t seem acceptable in the context of today’s MeToo movement, but like I mentioned before, it is part of the brand they are trying to put out. They want other men like them to experience what women go through including labour, fashion expectations, and even boob weights. In my opinion as a woman, they do a really great job of trying to make it an authentic experience. Kudos to them!

All the other videos that they produced and continue to create take from all aspects of society and politics. Keith, Zach, Ned and Eugene keep the internet from being one-sided and narrow-minded by simply trying new things. It really doesn’t require a lot of effort to go into a new experience with the mind-set that it could be the best experience of their lives. We are all allowed to be whomever we want, and try whatever we want. This is why I am grateful this channel exists on YouTube and I hope more people gravitate to their videos.

Re: The Stories We Tell by Jack Harries

I’ve been following (also in love with) Jack Harries since he started posting Youtube videos seven years ago. At first, I saw him as the ideal Brit with a fantastic accent and funny views on living. His twin brother Finn also caught my eye and from then on, these brothers were the British Zack and Cody for me. However, as I grew up, as they grew up, and as their video content started to change, I found different qualities in them that I respected. It wasn’t just that they were easy to look at, but they had real talent and intelligence about the world. I stayed close.

I’m going to only talk about Jack for right now, because he is the one who continues the channel. Finn, I see you. I see you.

When Jack posted the video I linked above that discusses the up and downs of his life, I immediately connected with his honesty. His perspective on social media and mental health inspired me to reflect on why our internet appearance can ruin our real-life experience. Key-word is “can” here, because I don’t think this happens to every person with an Instagram account; it only applies to the group of users that have trouble functioning with the on-going rise of online interactions. I think I am a part of this group.

Jack speaks in the video about how when we click that post button, we are telling a story. Not necessarily the most truthful story but a story nonetheless. He recognizes that as each of us build an online profile for the public to analyze, our perception of close friends, family members or other people we interact with changes. They are not separate worlds. Our reality in society and the reality on the internet have direct links to one another now that so many people use social media. I often feel weirdly grateful for the times that I meet someone who I haven’t yet met on Instagram. It’s almost as if that never happens anymore. If I didn’t rely on social media for research on other people’s lives, how different would my friends group be? Would I know less information about them? Shouldn’t that scare me? My brain is combining all the stories from the accounts I follow with the encounters I’ve had in real-life to construct opinions on other people. So, we’ve added a second variable to the equation of how I perceive a person. While this could potentially augment our personal relationships, I am weary of the fact that it could also destroy the potential of a strong relationship. Stories can now be told through posts and updates rather than sitting down and hearing/reading a story.

Another incredible point to Jack’s talk is that he opens up about his mental health and how working too much on our online appearance can be exhausting. He admits to needing to take time off of his YouTube channel and neighbouring film company. While this is of course very honest of him, I can’t help but wonder why something you love to do can tire you out. I can see that Jack is passionate about capturing stories and visiting places that are new to him and so, I find it so sad that he felt overwhelmed by it all. The pressure of constantly creating is terrifying. Perhaps we all need a break, even from activities we find most enjoyable. Perhaps there could be a happy medium. This is something every human has to figure out during their life.

Another thought that popped into my head after watching this video was that maybe the like button is the villain rather than social media itself. We press a button and our judgement is publicized. Anyone can see the posts you like and the ones that didn’t get your approval. And I think it’s true that when you don’t redden the heart on a post, people will think you don’t actually like the post. This small action of pushing a heart creates another story within itself. I’m curious about why there is no dislike button on Instagram but there is on YouTube, Facebook (the mad and sad emoji’s are very similar to disliking a post), and Reddit. Are we not allowed to dislike something? Does everyone need to love and be loved? Twitter has an interesting take on the dislike button by making your downvote a private matter. It won’t directly show up that you don’t like a tweet but it will cater your timeline to what it thinks you would like instead. That way, it is your business if you want to see something pop up on your timeline. I think this is very smart. You go, Twitter.

Jack’s creativity continues to inspire me and encourage me to tell stories. Whether that be through a picture of my cottage or filming myself exploring dance, my social presence will create another version of me. Let’s see in the next 10 years where it goes from there. There is so much more to discuss about social media’s influence on our everyday lives and so I want to extend my gratitude to Jack for filming this chat he gave as a part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Thank you, Jack!

Re: Reading a Book a Week… by John Fish

Before writing this, I watched the above video by John Fish in which he explains the horrific truth about our educational system. I instantly felt inspired to write about my experience with reading. I highly recommend watching it. He’s a Canadian too!

Remember those dreadful days of high school when your English teacher presented the class books for the semester and no one was allowed to complain? No one could suggest a different book, because it had to be a part of the curriculum list that hasn’t been updated since Shakespeare was alive. The teacher would sometimes even hate the book she/he had to discuss with us. What’s wrong with this picture?

When I was a young child, reading was my escape. Morgan le Fay would wisk Annie, Jack and I away on an adventure in the Magic Tree House series. I still recall how excited I was when my mom bought me a new Geronimo Stilton book for Christmas. Authors like Beverley Cleary, Laura Dower, Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen, Cornelia Funke, Jeff Kinney, I could go on…. So many books were dog-eared and bent out of form because of my obsession with reading. It was like words could transfer me to a new environment even though it was just black and white on the page. So then, how come when I got to high school and suddenly my favourite thing to do was being graded, I fell out of love?

My bookshelves got dustier, my brain got cloudier, and I felt forced into reading classic novels. As well, my classmates and I had to agree on specific opinions about a book or else we would get a bad grade. I probably would have eaten up these literary gems if it had not been required by my school board to like them. Due to the fact that we knew our book studies ended with us writing an essay, I started to develop demonic strategies when I read. I became less interested in absorbing the lessons in a certain book, and more worried about making sure I could find sources for my argument. Suddenly, I had to read on a deadline, and my comprehension suffered in some ways. I read faster, but more messy. Constantly having to memorize page numbers so that the teacher knew I had actually read the book. What’s silly now is that I can’t let go of these habits when I try and read for fun. I shudder to think of how messed up my brain is from the intensities of my high school learning. I am not even going to talk about the redundancies of MLA citing.

Without getting too dramatic, there were benefits to reading in the way my high school asked us to. I am able to back up an argument by laying out clear examples from primary sources. I am confident in reading out loud with added character traits if needed. I am capable of reading multiple books at one time. Finally, I know the context of the famous Hamlet quote “To be or not to be”. So, not everything about high school English was bad. My Gr. 12 English teacher was one of my favourite educators ever. She taught me to be creative in my writing and take chances outside of the typical essay format. I could even tell that she, herself, didn’t agree with some of the curriculum standards.

If I am going to reflect on the impact of reading, I need to look at a timeline of my obsession with books, starting with the younger part of my childhood. My mom says I started reading chapter books at age 4. That means that before I was instructed to read, I loved books. This is of course due to the fact that my parents scheduled reading time before every goodnight. It is embedded in my brain as a positive and relaxing activity for my mind.

As I mentioned above, the Magic Tree House books were so special to me, and they probably were the first series I ever grew a crush on. I think I must have read at least 25 of the books in a line-up of 58. They were like medicine to me. Mary Pope Osbourne, I owe it to you to begin a reading addiction that would last my whole lifetime. Then, I believe I moved onto wittier books like Elisabetta’s Geronimo Stilton, Dav Pikey’s Captain Underpants, and Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody. Unlike anything I had ever seen, these three series gave me more colour and imagination. The words could suddenly be painted onto the page rather than typed. My expansive mind was taken to new worlds and I got to laugh more along the way. This period of ages 4-6 is what I like to call “The Simpler Years”.

When I turned 7, I knew that I wasn’t just a child anymore. I was a REAL person. So naturally, my interests shifted to books about history, philosophy, and boys. I remember taking trips to Chapters and leaving the children’s section behind. I wanted to read what my mom was reading, but she guided me to fiction novels that would suit my maturity more sufficiently. Dear Canada is a series of very educational books that showed me the saddest historical events through the eyes of a child. It was written by use of fictionalized diary entries from children who lived during times of war and poverty. Although the topics were deeply profound, I was able to learn about Canada’s history in an honest way. As well, I found solace in a book called Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen Soul. Written by real-life pre-teens, Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen compile an master list of anecdotes that prepared me for growing up. I read this book from a pre-mature philosophical standpoint and the whole series was my first self-help books. Then, my friends, came a HUGE obsession with a series titled From the Files of Madison Finn. These books held me captive while I learned about Madison stumbling through middle school. Funny enough, she has a sort of “blog” where she uses her laptop as a diary. I started my own diary on my sister’s old laptop, and I had to make it a private folder (to which I lost the password for). I wonder what sort of crazy stuff is lost in cyber-space now! Laura Dower’s series also gave me a chance to read about the confusing stages of having a crush. Madison’s crush is on her classmate Hart Jones. He is a mystical creature that still gives me butterflies. I mean his name is HART! Let’s call this period of ages 7-9 “The Mature for My Age Years”.

Grades 5, 6 and 7 were a different story, pun intended, because the thickness of the books got WAY bigger. Now, I was double digits and ready to tackle the big guns. I want to call this period “The Twilight Years” for the obvious reasons… Stephanie Meyer had my full attention. Suddenly, I was reading about sexual vampires with lust and confusing emotions. I read all four books, plus the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, and saw all the movies at least twice. Team Edward all the way!!….. yeah, it’s so stupid when I think about it now…. But, I cannot lie when I say I don’t remember reading much else when I was ages 10-13, except for maybe The Hunger Games or The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. These years set me up for hardships of relationships.

Here is where it gets depressing. During the years of 2011-2016, I barely read for fun. Generally, if you saw me reading, it was because I had to read it for school assignments. Shakespeare, Harper Lee, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, Arthur Miller and others became the only authors on my radar for a long time. Additionally, I had less time to sit down and read because my schedule with competitive dance heated up and the internet grew as a cultural phenomenon. During the summer, I focused on dance training more, but I would never take that back. I just feel so sad that most of my teenage years did not involve leisure reading. To be truly honest, I am wondering if maybe my mental state of mind collapsed because I let go of meditative reading sessions that clear my thoughts and sooth my psyche. This period is unfortunately called “The Lost Years”.

In conclusion, I want to renew myself. I can see that reading has been a positive part of my well-being and I am hoping that the school boards across the globe will take a different approach to literature so that more young adults will be inclined to read instead of reluctant to read. If I take the time to close my laptop and phone, I believe it will send me towards a genuine path to happiness.

For some fun, please enjoy Carrie Hope Fletcher’s song that I love. Click here.

Re: Tessa and Scott Free Dance at Grand Prix 2017

I cannot begin to explain my love for this performance. But I will…

First of all, the use of Moulin Rouge’s daring and seductive score inhabits so much of their journey together. The raw energy of their hard work and passion oozes out of the music and gathers everything so perfectly. They blast out of the gate with “Roxanne” to introduce themselves as fierce competitors, showing not only their ballroom background, but the control in their timing. Then they switch so effortlessly into one of my favourite pieces of art, the song “Come What May” and remind us that their chemistry is unique. No one can do it like them. No one has the partnership that they grew, and no one will compare. I am so unbelievably impressed by the connection and respect that they have for each other. I hope to one day exhibit that much trust on a stage.

Continuing on, since I don’t know much about the technical side of skating, I look to the ballet aspect that is displayed in their lines and extensions. Not only is the shape and structure in tune with the speed of their bodies, but they do it as a duet!! I have trouble just focusing on my own position; imagine adding the factor of a whole other person!!!! The way they come in and out of gorgeous positions has the quality that I only DREAM to portray. And of course, they have so much texture to the plié and extension that I, as an audience member, feel comfortable watching them defy gravity. It is so magical and visually pleasing.

Last point (except not really). We all see the focus they have. RIGHT FROM THE START. Tessa knows that she can be there present if she settles herself into her beginning pose in a calm way. Scott handles his masculinity and strength by being so peaceful and serene. (and can we just take a parentheses break to talk about his turnout… i’m sorry but how does THAT happen?) As individual athletes, their attention to “the zone” has me so amazed. Nothing could sway them. And no one wants to because when two people care so much about their art and the way they present it, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU SCREW WITH THAT? They know that the only way to be successful in an artistic industry is to focus on the now. What is going on now. Where they are, what they can do with their mind, and how it will affect the audience.

I continually find myself crying after their programs, even during ones that are joyous. This comes from my excitement of being able to watch such a creative duo. It is truly one of a kind and deserves all the recognition in the world. Tessa, Scott, bravo on so many levels. I support all that you do. Please don’t go away. EVER.