How to Cure a Broken Heart

How to Cure a Broken Heart

Has your lover broken your heart? Here are a number of ways to help cure it and bounce back. You don’t have to silently suffer.

  1. Just like learning to ride a bicycle, if you fall off, get back on and try again. Of course, your goal should not be to fall in love with the first person that is interested in you, but get back into the dating scene as soon as you can. You won’t be home crying yourself to sleep, and you will be having a good time instead.

  2. Join a support group with others who have had a similar break-up experience and see if you find them compatible to talk to. You might gain a lot of insight through them.

  3. Curl up and read a good book. Not necessarily a romance novel, but a book that will teach you something. Make it non-fiction.

  4. Accept the good memories you’ve had with your mate and don’t dwell on the bad times or the recent separation. Negative thoughts of the past will be unpleasant and only make you unhappy. Work on letting go of the past so that you can start looking forward to the future.

  5. Don’t keep your love letters or any trinkets or reminders that your ex gave you. Store them away instead of throwing them away, in case there may be reconciliation in the future. But try not to hold onto that hope.

  6. Playing beautiful music will soothe your soul and make you feel better, but don’t play the music you and your loved one enjoyed together, or that were your songs. Try a different type of music that you normally don’t like.

  7. Stay in touch with a trusted friend and confide in that person. If he or she is a true friend, they will listen to you and not make judgments, or talk about you behind your back.

  8. Write down your angst in a private journal and write in it every day. See how much better you feel with each passing day. Time will heal your broken heart if you let it.

  9. Forgiving that person and letting go of your anger will help you to cure your own broken heart. But don’t expect too much of yourself. Accept that forgiveness will take time.

  10. Don’t think just because you have been hurt once, you will be hurt again and especially, don’t make the next person suffer because you are suffering now. That doesn’t help anything and probably will only make you feel worse in the long run.

  11. If you have a spiritual belief, prayer for help with your broken heart will help in the healing process. It is common to feel betrayed in your time of need. But this is not the case and your faith will make you feel stronger and more able to handle what you are going through.

Following the above tips, will hopefully help you cure your broken heart. Know that in time, you won’t feel so devastated and you will be able to move on.

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How Brexit could hit an ordinary UK citizen

How Brexit could hit an ordinary UK citizen

The UK has voted to quit the European Union – a decision that will bring change for currencies, trade rules, and the status of UK markets and regulations. It’s a transition that could take several years to play out in full, so what does it mean for the items on your average UK shopping list or household budget?

The value of the pound versus the euro, dollar and other currencies sank following the results and the outcome will likely mean a rise in inflation, albeit from a very low level.

BBC Capital wanted to find out if and how a vote for the UK to quit the EU might impact the cost of the things we love, use and rely on every day – some might feature in your shopping basket, while others might be something your family spends on annually. This is an informed view of what could happen, but not a conclusive or definitive view as many drivers of prices currently remain unclear.
We have gone to multiple expert sources for the information contained in this infographic – trade bodies, unions, government organisations, think tanks, financial institutions and research organisations – some of whom have expressed publicly whether they believe the UK should vote in or out.

The Healthy Option

Nearly 90% of UK tomato imports come from the EU, mostly the Netherlands (40%) and Spain (35%). Higher import tariffs could raise prices. UK tomato production may step up to fill the import gap.

Wardrobe Essentials

The price of clothes and footwear might fall if Brexit allowed the UK circumvent import tariffs. Foreign retails would still be welcome on our high streets, local authorities are committed to free competition.

How Brexit could hit an ordinary UK citizen

Phoning Home

If the UK is no longer bound by an EU rule banning rooming charges from April 2017 consumers could continue to pay a premium to use their phone abroad. Phone companies may well be unwilling to put charges back up just for UK consumers.

Your Daily Vitamin C Shot

Citrus fruit is not grown commercially in the UK, 770.000 tonnes of fruit was imported in 2015, over 40% from Spain. Rising import costs could affect prices.

Booze Cruise

Current customs rules allow virtually unlimited amount of duty paid alcohol and cigarettes to be brought to the UK from the EU. ıf the allowance tightens, expect fewer booze cruises between Britain and France.

Bottoms Up…

French, Spanish and Italian wines could become more expensive if import costs rise. The EU currently charges a 32% tariff on its wine exports to non EU countries.

The UK is likely to negotiate a a better deal than this and would be free to remove existing import tariffs on ‘New World’ from countries such as New Zealand and California.

EU Budget Contribution

Likely to fall by around 25%, according to HM Treassury. Norway and Switzerland contribute to the UK budget, but a lower level than EU members. The UK would also be able to decide how to spend the money transferred back to it from the EU.

The Dinner Party Must-Have

Harvesting asparagus is highly seasonal, labour intensive work often performed by EU migrants, who made up 6% of UK agricultural workers in 2014. Labour shortages could hit UK production.

Half of UK farming income comes from EU subsidies. While a Brexit could could give back more control over spending, many are worried a lot of farmers would quickly go out of business without the support of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Your Fromagerie Habit

The UK import 62% of of its cheese, and 98% of this comes from the EU. If prices rise, consumers may be tempted to swap Gouda and Roquefort for Cheddar and Stilton.

The UK has its thriving cheese industry and higher initial prices may provide an incentive to increase domestic production, driving down prices in the long run.


If the pound falls, then foreign currency will become more expensive, according to the Association of British Travel Agents. For budget airfares to remain, the UK will have to negotiate access to the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA), which includes several non-EU mombers. Alternatively , the UK could try to reach a bilateral aviation agreement with the EU.

Changing Gear

Importing cars from Europe could take longer and cost more. Cutting EU red tape could affect pricing either up or down. The Euro could also fall, which would cancel out changes in the value of the pound for travellers to Europe.

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Steven Soderbergh is making a movie about the Panama Papers

Steven Soderbergh is making a movie about the Panama Papers

We all knew the Panama Papers would inspire a movie at some point, but there’s already a feature in the works that’s coming together quickly—and enticingly.

Just months after journalists exposed records from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonesca that detailed illegal financial activities committed by the rich and powerful, big names are already attempting to bring the scandal to the big screen—including Steven Soderbergh, who’s attached to produce and possibly direct the first film about the incident.

Soderbergh will adapt the yet-to-be-published book Secrecy World by Jake Bernstein—an award-winning journalist who was part of the team that broke the news, bringing more than 11 million records into the public eye—Deadline reports. Bernstein will executive produce, while frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns will pen the film’s script.

A Panama Papers movie would mark the fourth project Soderbergh and Burns have worked on together, following Contagion, Side Effects, and perhaps most relevantly The Informant!, which managed to spin a comic yarn out of price fixing within agro-business. But if Spotlight’s Best Picture win at last year’s Academy Awards taught us anything, it’s that journalism movies don’t need to be funny to get attention—as long as they’re exposing something that lands with a bang.

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How to destroy your digital history

How to destroy your digital history

We all have private information on our computers, phones and tablets. Whether of personal or professional origin, there’s some data that we’d rather no-one else got their hands on. But does deleting a file and emptying the recycle bin do the job?

According to data recovery expert Rob Winter at Kroll Ontrack, “deleting” the file is akin to removing an item from the contents page of a book – the chapter containing the all-important information is still there. For a specialist, it’s not even that hard to find.

Winter and his team are sometimes called out at short notice to help companies retrieve data from “wiped” drives and physically damaged computers.

It is difficult to believe any technology could have survived such a bashing – but in the next clip, discover just how much data (and even some embarrassing pictures) that Winter managed to retrieve from their sorry-looking hard drives.

Recovery services are highly sought-after by organisations who realise they have lost important files. After the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster, for example, specialists were able to recover 99% of the data from a Seagate drive found in the wreckage.

So remember, if you hit delete, all is not lost.

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Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

The director’s new film isn’t without resonance, writes Richard Lawson from Cannes, but is too preoccupied with its least interesting character.

There are maybe three different movies fighting against each other in Woody Allen’s new film, Café Society, which opened the 2016 Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday night. It’s part creakily nostalgic ode to Old Hollywood, part satiric appreciation of the Jewish-American male’s romantic neuroses, and part wistful, half-serious rumination on the ephemeral fixations of love.

I like that last movie, Allen in his reflective years revisiting a familiar, old trope—the sexual-social peccadillos of the heterosexual intellectual—with a final huff of “Eh, who knows?” Café Society ends on a pleasing note of bittersweet ambiguity—or perhaps there’s nothing ambiguous about it, Allen arguing that there is certainly some uncertainty in life, always a wondering about what could be, a speculation that never quite merits seeking out answers.

But the other two-thirds of this disjointed movie, which starts in 1930s Los Angeles and ends in the New York City social scene referenced in the title, is Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish, Jesse Eisenberg’s aspiring somebody (what he does to “make it” doesn’t really matter) rattling through scene after scene of fretting dully over women, all of whom are inexplicably attracted to this irksome, self-involved jerk.

Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

Those women are played by Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively, both giving appealing performances. (Though, Stewart’s cadence is perhaps a bit too modern.) Neither character—the Hollywood assistant Eisenberg’s Bobby courts nor the New York society gal he eventually marries—is very fleshed out, but these two often unfairly maligned actresses do their best at pretending that Bobby is worth anyone’s time.

Buried underneath all of Café Society’s cheap-looking period gloss—the cinematography, by Vittorio Storaro, is oddly lush and intricate and garish for an Allen picture—is a simple story of a young man exploring the sense of possibility he finds in women. The movie treats its female characters as territory to be discovered, resources to be used, in Bobby’s journey toward manhood. There will always be another girl flickering and flaring on the outskirts of a man’s life, roads not taken more than people not known, and there is something a little sad, and a little sweet about that, Café Society suggests.

Which, sure. At 80 years old, Allen is well positioned to look back at the entanglements of youth with a knowing sigh. But much of Café Society is tainted by a cynical, transactional view of (straight) sex and romance, Allen perhaps setting his film in the shimmery past to protect himself from the glare of social consciousness. There’s a truly hideous scene in which Bobby hires a prostitute (played by Anna Camp with her usual despite-it-all dignity) who shows up late, annoying Bobby, and then practically begs him to sleep with her out of a desperate need for validation. Allen used to be somewhat insightful about women—Hannah and Her Sisters at least had a glow of empathy to it—but his view on the sexes has gotten narrower and far less charitable as he’s aged.

Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

Bobby and his uncle, a high-powered agent played with alarming flatness by Steve Carell, consistently forgive their own loutishness as they go, preventing the film from achieving any truly honest self-assessment. Ultimately, Allen seems not nostalgic for the particular era of his birth—the dread-tinged time between the Depression and World War II—but instead for a certain callowness that is no longer celebrated the way it used to be. Only one man, Bobby’s gangster brother, played by Corey Stoll, gets any comeuppance for his loutishness, but it’s for a number of murders.

Bobby and his uncle—both philanderers and objectifiers of women—don’t need to be punished, of course, but some sense of balance or fairness or perspective would be appreciated here. Especially when the movie is so stocked with talented actresses giving winning performances. There’s Stewart and Lively, but also Parker Posey as a Dorothy Parker–esque friend, Jeannie Berlin as Bobby’s plainspoken mother, and a warm Sari Lennick as his sister.

Still, when Café Society reaches its quiet conclusion, Allen has managed to conjure up some pensive feeling, softening his movie’s jarring pointiness. The film is nowhere near as effective as, say, Midnight in Paris’s murmuring about time, or his earlier dramas’ rueful interpersonal wisdom, but it’s not entirely without resonance. I just wish the film wasn’t so fascinated by the least interesting character wandering around this whole crazy scene called life.

Related: View full production notes for Café Society

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Six steps to stronger willpower

Six steps to stronger willpower

Besides intelligence, willpower is meant to be the single most important trait for success in life. In our latest SmartList, we explain simple ways to improve your self-control.

Hold in your pee

Strangely, it can stop you making impulsive decisions – psychologists call it ihnibitory spillover.

Intriguingly, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron claims to use this strategy before important meetings. The idea is that while the brain is exercising self-control on one task, its discipline spreads to any other task at hand. In one study, for instance, some participants were asked to drink a few glasses of flavoured water. Before having the chance to relieve themselves, they were given the opportunity to earn some money. The participants who needed the toilet were more likely to forgo a smaller, immediate award in order to receive a bigger pay-out later on – a classic test of willpower.

Sleep on it

Psychologists think of willpower as a “limited resource” – essentially, you can use it up over the course of a day. We can’t always choose when our self-control is going to be tested, of course – but when making a big decision (about whether to buy a car, or end your marriage, say) you may do better to sleep on it. Otherwise, you may face regret in the morning.

Get a sugar rush

Self-control uses up the brain’s energy reserves, meaning that you are more weak-willed when you are hungry. One study found that judges are more likely to make rash judgements before lunch for this very reason – and it could also explain why we lose our temper and get “hangry” around dinnertime. But a simple sweet drink can give you a boost and restore your reserves. It’s not a good strategy if you are trying to be healthy, though.


Although willpower can wear down over the day (and with hunger) there are ways to restore it. One option is comedy. A recent study found that people who watched funny videos were better at controlling their impulses later on. They were more likely to stomach a nasty-tasting drink, for instance, that was meant to be good for their health.


Self-control often involves suppressing some difficult emotions, as you keep your eye on the prize. Fortunately, mindful contemplation helps you to balance your feelings, so that you can continue to act in your own best interests.One simple technique is to focus your attention across different parts of the body, observing the unique sensations in each place.

Stop feeling guilty

The mind automatically associates guilt with pleasure – meaning that we find our vices even more enticing when we know we’re not meant to enjoy them. Conversely, a little guilt-free indulgence may just be the rest you need to help you maintain your resolve. So if you do find yourself breaking a resolution, don’t beat yourself up – just see it as a momentary lapse that will leave you renewed and ready to fight on.

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Lyrics Gallery: Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode

Lyrics Gallery: Enjoy the Silence by Depeche ModeLyrics

“Enjoy the Silence” is a song by the English electronic band Depeche Mode, taken from their seventh studio album, Violator (1990). The song was recorded in 1989 and released on 16 January 1990 as the album’s second single.

The single is Gold certificated in the US and Germany. The song won Best British Single at the 1991 BRIT Awards. It has been recorded by many other artists, including Tori Amos, Anberlin, Failure, Breaking Benjamin, Hybrid and Keane.

“Enjoy the Silence” was re-released as a single in 2004 for the Depeche Mode remix project Remixes 81–04, and was titled “Enjoy the Silence (Reinterpreted)” or, more simply, “Enjoy the Silence 04”.

There are two instrumental B-sides to “Enjoy the Silence”. “Sibeling” (the 12″ B-side) is a soft piano-tune while “Memphisto” (the 7″ B-side) is a darker, eerier track. The title of “Sibeling” refers to Finnish classical composer Jean Sibelius. According to Martin Gore, “Memphisto is the name of an imaginary film about Elvis as a Devil, that I created in my mind”.

Enjoy the Silence Lyrics by Depeche Mode

Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can’t you understand?
Oh my little girl
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Enjoy the silence

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A 7-day guide to the pursuit of happiness

A 7-day guide to the pursuit of happiness

It can take just minutes to break through a foul mood if you know the right tricks. Here are some scientifically tested methods to help you beat the blues.

In the drudgery of the everyday, it can be easy to become lost in boredom and self-pity. Yet some people seem remarkably resilient to life’s blows: exuding the cheeriness of Mary Poppins on even the gloomiest day.

How do they manage it? While some people may be blessed with a sunny temperament, there are some tried and tested ways that should help anyone to improve their mood. Often the techniques take just minutes to practise, yet can have lasting benefits for your general life satisfaction and well-being.


Diarists have long known that putting your feelings into words can help quell our emotions and put them in perspective, but it’s only recently that scientists have realised just how potent this simple action can be: spending 15 minutes a day on your journal can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, strengthen the immune system, and improve your performance at work. The benefits can persist for months. It’s far more effective than letting your frustrations bubble over in other ways; as BBC Future’s Claudia Hammond recently explained, venting your anger aggressively only aggravates a bad mood.

A 7-day guide to the pursuit of happiness


It sounds corny, but it works: people who made a conscious effort to practise five small acts of kindness, for just one day a week, reported greater life-satisfaction at the end of a six-week trial. It’s part of a growing body of research showing that more generous people are happier and healthier, as BBC Future recently explored.


Imagine your life without a close friend or partner. It hurts, doesn’t it? Yet a 2008 paper found that people who performed this kind of “mental subtraction” ended up feeling a mood boost later on. Perhaps it stopped them taking their loved ones for granted; heaps of research has shown that regularly giving thanks and feeling gratitude improves life satisfaction.


Psychologists have started to understand the importance of having a “purpose” in your life – people who see their life as having a meaning tend to be more mentally resilient to short-term knocks. Research suggests that simply looking through old pictures is one way to remind yourself of those things that make your life meaningful – be it your family or friends, charitable work or an important career achievement. Stirring up old memories connects you with your past and helps you to put recent events in a broader perspective, which can also take the sting out of fresh disappointments and anxieties.


If the daily grind is getting you down, it can be easy to get caught up in everyday worries. That’s why scientists are increasingly interested in the positive benefits of feeling awe. Whether it’s a view of the starry sky or attending church, feeling wonder at something much bigger than yourself broadens the mind. Scientists have found that it makes people happier, more altruistic, less impatient and less anxious. Even spending a few minutes writing about an awe-inspiring experience can help.


Things that once gave us pleasure can quickly lose their intensity over time, leading to the so-called “hedonic treadmill”. You can try to rediscover that initial joy by giving up a source of enjoyment – such as your favourite food or drink – for a week. After seven days, you will find that you have reset the “treadmill”, so you feel the full pleasure anew. In the meantime, the practice might have encouraged you to look for other entertainment, which could become a new source of pleasure in itself.

If abstaining for a week sounds a bit too much like hard work, you can at least try to practise mindfulness during your favourite activity. When taking a sip of coffee, for instance, concentrate on the complex symphony of flavours washing over your taste buds. This too has been shown to help you appreciate the small pleasures in life, easing stress and anxiety.


There’s an Italian proverb “La lingua batte dove il dente duole” – “the tongue hits where the tooth hurts” – that perfectly describes our mind’s tendency to dwell on the pains of our past. Unfortunately, psychologists have shown that feelings of guilt, in particular, often backfire. Not only is it a cause of anxiety and unhappiness, but the feelings of hopelessness can make us more likely to give in to temptation in the future. For this reason, deliberately spending a few minutes trying to cultivate good feelings towards yourself can boost your happiness and your willpower.

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The enduring enigma of female sexual desire

The enduring enigma of female sexual desire

Why have scientists been slow to understand women’s sexuality, asks Rachel Nuwer.

What do women want? It’s a question that’s stymied the likes of Sigmund Freud to Mel Gibson. It has been at the centre of numerous books, articles and blog posts, and no doubt the cause of countless agonised ponderings by men and women alike. But despite decades spent trying to crack this riddle, researchers have yet to land on a unified definition of female desire, let alone come close to fully understanding how it works.

Still, we’ve come a long way from past notions on the subject, which ran the gamut of women being insatiable, sex-hungry nymphomaniacs to having no desire at all. Now, scientists are increasingly beginning to realise that female desire cannot be summarised in terms of a single experience: it varies both between women and within individuals, and it spans a highly diverse spectrum of manifestations. As Beverly Whipple, a professor at Rutgers University, says: “Every woman wants something different.”

We’re also coming to realise that male and female desire might not be as dissimilar as we’ve typically assumed. For decades, researchers bought into society’s belief that men have higher desire than women, since large studies consistently confirmed that finding. But more recent evidence reveals that differences between the sexes may actually be more nuanced or even non-existent, depending on how you define and attempt to measure desire. Some studies have even found that men in relationships are as likely as women to be the member of the couple with the lower level of sexual desire.

The enduring enigma of female sexual desire

Past studies typically asked participants things like, “Over the last month, how much desire have you experienced?” When that question is posed, men do typically rate higher than women. But when the question is revised to ask about in-the-moment feelings – the amount of desire experienced in the midst of a sexual interaction – scientists find no difference between men and women. “This challenges our gender-related stereotypes about women being passive and not sexual,” says Lori Brotto, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of British Columbia, and a private practice psychologist. “It also suggests that the factors that elicit desire in the moment might be equally as potent for men as for women.”

Others have found that women’s desire waxes and wanes with their menstrual cycle. “During women’s peak period of arousal, which occurs around ovulation, their sexual motivation is just as strong as men,” says Lisa Diamond, a professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. “Women don’t have lower sexuality than men. What they have are more variable patterns.”
This makes sense when thinking in terms of sex’s ultimate purpose: making babies. “Biology, which helps to drive reproduction, is an element of sex,” says Anita Clayton, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. “It’s only in modern times that reproduction and sex are uncoupled.”

Previously, doctors had also assumed that the male sex hormone testosterone could be linked to female desire. In fact, it probably does not play a major role: several studies found no difference in testosterone levels in women who have high levels of desire and those diagnosed with a desire disorder. Despite this finding, women continue to request testosterone as a treatment for low desire, and doctors continue to prescribe it – often based on lab tests that erroneously use male levels of testosterone as a marker for what normal levels of that hormone should look like in a woman’s body.

Other research finds that testosterone and desire are linked only very indirectly, and that sexual activity has more of an effect on hormone levels than hormones do on whether someone actually desires sex. Sexual thoughts increase testosterone in women, as does sexual jealousy. “Thinking that sex just comes out of testosterone is such a falsehood,” says Sari van Anders, an associate professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, whose lab led the investigations. “Hormones have such small – if any – influence on desire.”

Even the variety of feelings during sex itself had gone unrecognised: women do not necessarily experience the same progression of excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution that men do. Instead, the order is often shuffled. Sex itself can be the trigger for desire and arousal, or a first orgasm might lead to the desire for a second. “Often for women, genital, physical arousal precedes the psychological experience of desire,” Diamond says. “Whereas in men, desire precedes arousal.”

Desire, however, does not necessarily entail the wish to engage in sex with another person. Each woman (and, indeed, man) is different in terms of preferences, and those preferences may change at different times. Women may sometimes or always desire solitary masturbation, and some can even experience orgasm purely through thought, with no physical contact at all. Others may desire sexual activity with a partner, but without penetration or without ending in orgasm. “When people say they have a high desire for a partner, they might actually mean they want to be close to someone, or relieve their boredom, or experience something or someone new, or experience orgasm,” van Anders says. “My guess is that desire depends on the context, the person, the time of their life, relationship factors and who’s available.”

The range of turn-ons women report are extremely varied as well. Some prefer G-spot stimulation, or for their partner to suck on their toes. Others like to dominate, or simply to be held – the list goes on and on. “Usually clitoral stimulation is equated with males, but we’re documenting in the laboratory that women respond to a lot of other things, too,” says Whipple. “We need to educate women and give them permission to experience what they find pleasurable, and to let them know that they don’t have to fit into a single model of desire and sexual pleasure.”

That diversity is now reflected in porn – a relatively new development. Though women have always been involved in the industry, until the 1980s porn was largely geared toward a male audience. When home videos became available, however, porn – previously only shown in theatres – became more easily accessible to women as well as men. Picking up on this, female directors began creating porn marketed towards women, which often took a softer approach, with story lines lacking in violence, for instance.

The industry has continued to evolve, however, with porn made by and consumed by women including erotic Victorian vampire sequences, all-male gay porn, monster porn and more. “It’s much more diverse now, because people realised that women are also perverts,” says Laura Helen Marks, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English at Tulane University. “Women have really taken up the camera and are responding to the diversity of female desire.”

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The Legend of Tarzan swings and misses

The Legend of Tarzan swings and misses

The latest adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ colonialist story proves it cannot be given a modern overhaul, writes critic Sam Adams.

The Legend of Tarzan, the latest big-screen version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ vine-swinging he-man, is a sincere and well-intentioned attempt to wrestle with the legacy of European colonialism in Africa. It is also a movie in which a man punches a gorilla. You could say it’s at war with itself, but it’s a war involving soldiers who are never quite sure who they’re fighting, and who are as likely to slip in the mud and break their own necks as they are to get off a clean shot.

Directed by David Yates and written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, Legend would more accurately, if less economically, be called The Legend of the Legend of Tarzan. When we pick up the story in the late 19th Century, John Clayton (Alexander Skarsgård) is already an international folk hero, an English nobleman raised by apes and returned to his native land. As George Williams (Samuel L Jackson), an American soldier of fortune who’s come to persuade John to return to the Belgian Congo, puts it, he is “Africa’s favorite son”.

The irony of that epithet being bestowed by a black Civil War veteran is not lost on The Legend of Tarzan. And indeed, for a time, it seems as if Yates and company have a handle on how to reshape Edgar Rice Burroughs imperialist fantasy for the modern age. The opening sequence, in which a fastidious Belgian commander leads his soldiers through the jungle mists, is full of redolent images: the bodies of dead troops hung on makeshift crosses, their own rifles used as crossbars; an African tribesman starring indomitably into the lens, a colonist’s white linen hat perched incongruously atop his head.

King of nothing

Unfortunately, the imperative to produce a viable box-office entertainment trumps The Legend of Tarzan’s noble intentions at every turn. We’re cued to hiss at Rom (Christoph Waltz), the Belgian commander, whose first onscreen act is to rip an African flower from its stem, and who, in an especially rococo touch, uses a spider-silk rosary as an offensive weapon. But when tribal soldiers spring from the water beneath his feet, in the variable-speed slow motion that Yates abuses throughout, the effect makes them seem both more and less than human.

We meet kinder Africans later, the cheerful villagers who take John in after his battered body is discovered in the jungle. But it’s Jane (Margot Robbie), the white daughter of an American missionary, who nurses him back to health, and who later becomes his wife. It’s a story inextricably entwined with Europe’s relationship to ‘the dark continent’, and yet actual Africans keep getting pushed to the side.

The Legend of Tarzan has other problems, like its inability to decide whether it wants John Clayton to be James Bond or Aquaman – although it’s best when he’s Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone. This Tarzan doesn’t just speak to the animals: he commands them – the word “conquer” is used without apparent irony – eventually mustering an army of incompatible species to fend off an influx of Rom’s troops that would effectively make the entirety of the Belgian Congo a slave state.

The Legend of Tarzan swings and misses

One waits in vain for the revelation that Rom’s real surname is Blofeld. The movie’s initial feints at gritty relevance seem disingenuous, if not downright foolish, once John starts swinging from vines and conversing with crocodiles. At one point, the camera lingers on a boxcar full of elephant tusks, and later, we see another train carrying African men in chains. But then it’s on to another perfunctory chase scene, or a confrontation between Waltz’ moustachioed villain and Robbie’s defiant hostage. (Of course he takes her hostage: for all its contemporary touches, Legend’s plot could have been lifted from a silent melodrama.) These images of unfathomable atrocity are newspaper stuffed in the movie’s cracks, fresh filigree on a dull and worn garment.

At times, Yates seems desperate to jazz up the action, shooting one conversation between John and George in a series of whirlpooling shots that add nothing to the scene but a mild feeling of motion sickness. Perhaps it’s a way of compensating in advance for the movie’s action scenes, a lackluster jumble of weightless CGI and chiseled abs. (Yes, Skarskård’s sculpted torso is impressive, but it’s an unlikely physique for a man in the 1890s.) Major studio movies increasingly feel like acts of brand maintenance first and stories second, and Legend is the latest link in that worn-out chain. It’s a Tarzan movie because there have always been Tarzan movies, not because there was any compelling reason to add one more to the list.

At its core it’s the story of a white European who asserts his dominion, however benevolently, over wild African creatures: like Kipling’s The Jungle Book, it can be tinkered with, but its heart doesn’t change. Humans need stories, but the stories we need change, and sometimes old ones die out because the needs they addressed or the ideas they encompassed no longer apply. It might be time to let Tarzan vanish back into the jungle.

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