Carnage: Swallowing the Past- a review

Bloomin’ marvellous

Yes, I’m already a massive fan of Simon Amstell and all of his work.

Yes, I’m already a committed vegan.

But this comedy/drama/documentary/mockumentary, or whatever heading you put it under, is a masterpiece. And I want everyone to watch it.

Simon Amstell’s comedy has always been funny because it’s so honest. Even back to his Popworld and then Buzzcocks days, he made us laugh by taking the piss out of popstars with lines containing nothing but the truth.

When he annoyed Preston from Ordinary Boys (they had that one hit that no one remembers) so much he walked off the show, and left the audience in stitches, all he did was read from Preston’s then-wife’s book. The jokes literally wrote themselves.

His stand-up material is made up of self-deprecating stories of loneliness, and his sitcom Grandma’s House is pretty much autobiographical; so you get the point, Amstell doesn’t tend to beat around the bush.

And Carnage is no different; except it isn’t about his own disastrous dating stories or stupid things popstars have said – it’s on the slightly more serious topic of veganism. It is backed up by real-life events and scientific fact; but it’s still hilarious?! That is the genius of it.

Everything he says – in his documentary-narrator voice – from the raping of cows, to chicken periods, to food rationing during the Second World War – is true. Yes there’s some fictitious characters thrown in (obviously, it’s set 50 years in our future), but for the most part the people and the shocking facts are real.

 

It all sounds so ludicrous that it is funny – but it’s all true! Down to the woman dressed as a cow singing on stage about how her babies have been taken away – it’s funny and moving (mooving, if you will) all at the same time. I think we all thought that that was impossible but somehow the people behind Carnage have managed it.

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The star of an anti-dairy musical

I even got emotional towards the end thinking about a world, or at least a Britain, where eating meat and dairy was unthinkable. I teared up at a goat jumping for joy on an old mattress for crying out loud! The fact that we know the images from the past – i.e. 1944 up until 2017 – are real, make it seem like the fictional events that come after could actually happen, which leaves a kind of sense of hope as well as entertainment lingering after the film is over.

It’s so good that I don’t think I’m doing it any justice in this review; so all that’s left to say is please go and watch it on BBC iplayer now!

 

 

 

 

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‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’ – BBC Documentary Review

Ill-thought-out, dangerous and way too simplistic

I came across this programme because, as she very often does, my mother had ripped out an article from the Daily Mail for me to read that she thought I may find interesting and/or useful (they very often are neither of these things, but I gave this one a go).

Within the first couple of paragraphs I was infuriated by the fact that Dr Van Tulleken is grouping antidepressants (drugs I have been taking for three years now, give or take) with other medication that is used for an entirely different purpose:

“I’m talking about the drugs we take because the world we live in makes us unfit, unhappy and overweight – antidepressants, painkillers and drugs like statins.”

Oh so us depressed folk take antidepressants to make us feel better cause the world makes us feel sad; it just gets us down sometimes, y’know? It’s exactly the same as having high cholesterol due to a bad diet and lack of exercise.

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Dr Chris and his bowls and bowls of pills

As a doctor of medicine I would assume you know it is much more complicated than this, Dr Van Tulleken? Not everyone who has clinical depression/anxiety or any of the other numerous disorders people take these life-saving drugs for can be treated using “non-drug alternatives such as exercise”.

Also, why are we classing mentally-ill people as ‘healthy’? He didn’t make the definition of ‘an average healthy person’ clear in his experiment, where he poured lots of fake pills into bowls to demonstrate how many this ‘average person’ will take over a lifetime. Feels more like a visual aid more invested in the shock-factor than actual facts and research.

This theme of carelessness when it comes to language used when talking about these issues continued in the documentary. In the introduction a clip was shown where Chris stated he felt “intensely depressed” at the enormity of the challenge. My jaw literally hung open. I’m guilty of using phrases such as this in a light-hearted manner, even comics-shoeboxblog-depression-help-544297though I know I shouldn’t because it perpetuates misconceptions and therefore the stigma surrounding mental health, but to hear not only a doctor, but a doctor who is claiming we need to stop prescribing so many antidepressants because “their effect is feeble”compared to basically just exercising (I didn’t hear or read any other alternatives apart from swimming in some cold water)…

It just shows how naive and ignorant this man clearly is, despite his arrogance and smugness, and this disgusts me. He essentially said that one woman’s chronic pain wasn’t getting any better because she was too lazy to do her exercises. Nice, huh?

Of course I recognise the dangers in prescribing so many antibiotics because bacteria are becoming immune etc., and I definitely don’t agree with just throwing antidepressants at anyone who shows signs of depression; other options should be explored and discussed and a joint decision made with the GP/psychiatrist and the patient.

The tone and attitude of both the article and the documentary was patronising and derogatory towards a wide and diverse range of patients; from the depressed to the chronic pain sufferers to those withpmdd_2_53503329 infections.Which I would like to reiterate, shouldn’t be put into one big bundle and compared to one another.

Dr Chris Van Tulleken may have had the best intentions going in to this, but really, if you’re that clueless about the things you want to so drastically change, maybe do some research before spouting rubbish? People look to you for advice as a doctor, at least make it accurate.

At this point in my life, I need my antidepressants to keep going, get me through day to day and earn a living. Someday I really would love to come off them, but until then, I refuse to be made to feel belittled, weak and ignorant by anybody. And so should you. Whether you take antidepressants, painkillers, statins or any of the other drugs demonised by this programme.

Resources: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3785796/How-swimming-cold-water-helped-depressed-woman-pills-TV-doctor-reveals-cases-drugs-don-t-work.html 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07w532p/the-doctor-who-gave-up-drugs-episode-1#group=p02q33dg 

http://miamant.blogg.se/category/personligt.html

http://funnyjunk.com/7+comics+on+depression/funny-pictures/5794158/

‘Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets’ – BBC Documentary Review

I’ve been really intrigued by the ‘clean eating’ or ‘plant-based diet’ craze that’s been going around the internet for a while now; and even seriously considered giving it a go with so many bloggers and vloggers talking about all of the health benefits and how good they feel on this diet. I’m willing to try anything at this point to stop feeling so tired and awful all the time!

I’m also planning on going vegan (I’m veggie currently) in the near future, but I see a big difference between veganism and ‘plant-based’. The latter seems to be all about the health benefits, whilst the former is about animal cruelty and not wanting to contribute that.

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Now I’m not going to lie, clean eating sounds like a big commitment, and too much hard work for me to keep up with. I think in a way I’ve been looking for an excuse to not give it a go for that reason; so the title of this BBC documentary really appealed to me when I was scrolling through iplayer trying to find something to watch.

First of all, I’ve never seen any of Grace Victory’s videos, but I loved her from the opening of the programme, and I subscribed immediately. Shes’s hilarious, honest, and genuinely relatable, so she was the perfect person to host this documentary.

I think Grace clearly explained that there are many different definitions of ‘clean eating’, and it isn’t the same for everyone. This is worrying considering there’s so many people spreading possibly conflicting messages about what we should and shouldn’t be eating.

What works for one person might not work the same for another, so preaching a one-size-fits-all message is, frankly, dangerous. Having been one of those people obsessed with food, calories and exercise (looking back I probably had orthorexia) I know how easy it is to get caught up in the spiral, and how long it takes to basically rewire your brain into thinking about food and eating in a healthier way. Of course thinking about what you’re eating is important, but obsessing over reading ingredient lists on every packet of food you think about eating isn’t something I would recommend to anyone.

What really struck me wasn’t the nutritionists and dietitians saying how what the likes of Freelee are preaching is a load of rubbish, because I expected that. It was the interview Grace did with the ‘wellness blogger’ Natasha Corrett who has brought out a series of cook books promoting the ‘alkaline diet’ under the company name ‘Honestly Healthy’. She was asked a simple enough question, or rather a statement about a doctor’s view on pH balance in the body, and immediately said she wasn’t going to answer it.

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If that doesn’t ring enough alarm bells, then certainly the fact that Natasha’s co-author and ‘nutritionist’ adviser Vicky Egerton was inspired by Robert Young; a man who Natasha herself says she won’t answer any questions on because he’s just been arrested… for practicing medicine without a license. And he’s the father of the diet that Natasha is promoting!? How can we really trust anything that these essentially unqualified people are telling us?

We can’t.

So no ‘clean eating’ for me. Just more fruits and veggies and less veg lasagne ready meals. Do your own research, don’t follow the advice of just one or two people on the internet because they look amazing and their lives seem perfect.

I highly recommend watching the documentary; it really is food for thought! 😉