The More I Bleed The More I Learn – Part Two: The Hello Kitty Maternity Hospital

Ever woken up, checked the calendar (okay, more realistically the date on your phone) and thought “oh golly gee, seems like I should be surfing the crimson tide today” (okay, more realistically “fuck it, my period is due sometime soon”)? And like, it’s never really a good day when you realise that (if it comes it’s a 4 or so day bummer and if it doesn’t…blargh let’s not go there) – you’ve gotta find silver (crimson) linings where you can though, it’s the small things y’know? Like the excitement of reading the fun facts in the Libra wrappers. Yeah, life is really peaking.
For more info on why I write about the facts on Libra wrappers, check out part one here or read on below for part two….

FACT # 2: There is a Hello Kitty themed maternity hospital in Taiwan.


So I assume that the clever people in the Libra marketing department make the conscious decision to include fun facts on the wrappers of their sanitary napkins as a casual distraction from the fact that not only are you suffering grave discomfort but you’re also surfing a tidal wave of emotions, inexplicably having thoughts of the devastating way that your year 6 crush was also the boy that spearheaded the campaign for you to be known all over the school yard by the descriptor rabbit teeth – that was a really tough time emotionally. “Why do you I keep playing the moment over again in my head”, you wonder, “where he said to my face that he’d ‘be surprised if anyone could kiss you without getting bitten by your massive chompers’ – he was actually really mean. But he was pretty hot for a 13 year old”. A sentence that is probably going to get me on a watch list somewhere.
Anyways, I rekon Libra put the “fun facts” in their wrappers to distract you from thought processes like that.

Like all people in modern day marketing, often they get it wrong – and this “fun fact” (okay so they don’t call them fun facts, they call them “odd spots” which is a cute little period pun (probably a phrase that should never be used)) is actually not really that fun when you actually start to think about it.
You see on the surface learning about the existence of a Hello Kitty themed maternity hospital in Taiwan seems fun. Quirky – how “Kawaii” (yes, I am aware that is a Japanese term and this is about a hospital in Taiwan, themed around a Japanese cat, I think I am being culturally appropriate enough but if not, deal with it), but dig a little deeper, think a little harder when the hormones are hitting hard and it won’t be long before you’re having an existential crisis as you process this information. Think about it babe, you’re living in a world where women choose to give birth in a hospital where a giant statue of Hello Kitty dressed in a doctors uniform greets them as the first stages of labour kick in – but luckily miss Hello Kitty (is that her name?) is there to (in the words of the hospital) “ease the stress of childbirth”.

Image of what looks like a birthing suite designed for a child (sorry not sorry) sourced here:

Women enter a pink elevator filled with yet more Hello Kitty imagery and their new born babies are dressed in Hello Kitty themed rompers while being tended to by nurses dressed in pink uniforms with cat themed aprons. You get the picture. You don’t want to though because the more you picture this the more you begin to wonder if you still want to live in this world.

The hospital claims to be the only medical institution of its kind which has been authorised by the company to which I say “good” – though I would be interested to see the kind of people who would be attracted to a Hello Kitty themed cosmetic surgery hospital. I’ve heard of women getting work to look like Barbie…but this is something new.

It’s not okay. Image via:

When researching this I found the following extract from an article; “The director says he hopes the white, mouthless cat that is one of the world’s most recognisable characters will ease the pain and fear associated with childbirth and being admitted into hospital” which was basically too good not to share.
Personally I consider Ronald McDonald or perhaps Big Bird to be more recognisable – and I wouldn’t want either of them making an appearance if in a situation where I’ll likely shit myself.

Anyway, long story short, this is why seeing the aforementioned fact while at the most emotional part of my cycle made me doubt the world we live in – I just hope that I’m not alone on that…



Interview with Toby Oliver

Originally published on Scenestr.

‘Get Out’, the hit directorial debut from comedian Jordan Peele has received rave reviews, wowing critics both here and in the US.

Mixing both horror and comedy, the film presents moments of true spine-tingling fear mixed with well-crafted jokes to create a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and thought-provoking piece of film.

Behind the scenes, the film had a distinctly Australian presence in the form of cinematographer Toby Oliver who worked on ‘Get Out’, helping to create the stunning visuals that bring the story to life. Being that the film has been an absolute run-away success has meant that Toby has, in his words “taken the industry by surprise in many ways”.

Universal GetOut3
Jordan Peele – Image © Universal Pictures

Having entered the horror genre first by working on ‘Wolf Creek 2’ and then working on a number of films for Blumhouse, the production company behind ‘Get Out’, Toby helped to create a mood that in the film that was genuinely creepy.

While Toby thought the script was “pretty good” after the first read, he never could have anticipated how successful the film would end up being. “[Director Jordan Peele and I] were on the same page as far as the visual treatment for the film and we just took it from there. But we had no idea it would be such a huge success – of course it had the ingredients but it really has just taken off.”

Universal GetOut2
Image © Universal Pictures

Toby believes that the success of the film has a lot to do with the timing of its release. “The social issues that Jordan tackles in the film and the lingering racism that exists in the US and elsewhere is the key to the movie’s success. The way that he is able to wrap up the discussion into an entertaining piece of work with elements of comedy, thriller and horror genres while tackling these issues without it seeming too heavy-handed is very clever. While it was all there in the script, the proof was in the pudding once Jordan got into the editing room and structured it all together. I do think audiences are ready for this kind of storytelling.”

Toby has worked on a number of horror films recently for Blumhouse, and while mentioning that he wasn’t traditionally a fan of the genre, he has found that it is a great genre to work in as a cinematographer. “Visually it has incredible scope to create pretty powerful images because the impact of a horror experience comes from the visuals – what you see and what you don’t see”.

Universal GetOut4
Image © Universal Pictures

Likewise, having previously worked in the Australian film industry provided useful knowledge about what it takes to work on tight budgetary constraints – ‘Get Out’ had a small budget of only $5 million and a main shoot of only 23 days – constraints which Toby believes encourage resourcefulness and discipline: “You think of smarter ways of doing it which can sometimes be better than if you had a much bigger budget… In ‘Get Out’ it meant having to consider ways of doing things efficiently, especially the lighting – it’s a real balance. As a Director of Photography you have to make some compromises and at certain point just let the Director start shooting.”

Finally, when asked about the future he explains that the success of the film has opened up a lot of opportunities; “it’s been a great ride with ‘Get Out’.”

The More I Bleed, The More I Learn: Part One The Russian Beard Tax

The more I bleed, the more I learn
Making the most of the luxury goods tax, one factual month after the other.

So you might not be aware but menstruation is a thing that happens on the reg for many around the world. For the uninitiated let me enlighten you: there ain’t much joy to be found in it. For some, slight happiness can be found in the revelation that they made it through another month without accidentally bringing life into the world but that’s where it stops for silver linings – or in this case, more like reddish brown linings (sorry not sorry).
The monthly shed is accompanied by additional items being added to the shopping list with a luxurious 10% tax added to the price tag of these items – pads, tampons, panty liners, chocolate – you know, all the essentials.
It’s a dubious tax and adds maybe 10 cents a month, give or take, to the budget– which may not sound like a lot but a) it can add up over a while, and b) implies that these goods are something we CHOOSE. In a sense we do (it’s 2017, there are options, you can even get knickers that soak it all up but frankly they sound kinda icky to me) – but you know what I would choose if I could? To not bleed, mostly.
A nice consolation though, if you could call it that, to justify the spend, are the ‘fun facts’ that are found in the packaging of some brands (okay, one in particular but whatever). They’re great for pub trivia nights – they totally make the 3 to 5 days of pain, moodiness and icky feeling almost worth it. Almost.
I’m no campaigner, no activist but what I can do is string a few words together so when I thought, how can I help the sister hood I thought, I know, I’ll write some shit about the Libra facts – it’s the least I could do. Look forward to months more of entertainment. Unless I get knocked up. Dear God don’t let me get knocked up.

A little tough to read, I actually had to Google to find out the fact…curse you Libra!

FACT #1 – April 2017: During the reign of Peter The Great, any man who wore a beard was required to pay a special ‘beard’ tax.

What a ‘fun’ first fact to explore – I mean come on, they paid a tax, we pay a tax – it’s like we’re equals!
I mean yeah, these guys were being asked to pay a tax for something that was optional – no one was forcing them to have a beard (unless they were one of those dudes that has a bit of a nothing chin – then they’re doing society a favour by covering that business up!) while I’m sure if you asked most women, they’d agree; involuntary bleeding once a month isn’t really something we’d choose if we could.

That being said, I’m sure that there are some of us ladies who would grow a beard if we could – because hey, why not, it’s all about choice! So Emperor Peter the Great was in power in the late 1600s – it was 1968 in fact when he introduced the beard tax mentioned on the Libra wrapper. The aim of this was to bring the Russian society in line with Western Europe (don’t worry he was doing other stuff too apparently) as beards had previously been deemed unfashionable in the society.
Wouldn’t it be a different story if old mate Pete was around now and trying to bring Russian society in line with the trends of inner city hipsters? Pete wouldn’t be making extra dough from taxing beads – if he was smart he’d have started an online store selling organic hand crafted beard oils and waxes at premium prices in 2012, just before the beard resurgence and flash forward to 2017 he’d be a cashed up entrepreneur. Pete you missed your calling.

In case you were wondering, this is Peter. In 2017 he wouldn’t look out of place with a fedora perched on his dome.

Actually no, if Pete was alive in 2017 he would be a politician. Not an emperor, just a plain old minister, definitely found somewhere on the right side of things – probably inappropriately given the role of Minister for Women if I think about it. Because actually his beard tax was a bit dumb. First up, while people of different backgrounds and social status were charged the tax taking their status into account (the wealthy were appropriately charged more than the poor), the cost was still excessive. I mean come on; the blokes were just trying to look slick – or were just too lazy to shave and ladies, can’t we all relate to that? Especially this time of year, I know I’m not ashamed to admit that by then end of this month leg warmers aren’t going to be an added accessory on my body.
Imagine if we got taxed for something that our body did involuntarily? Oh, wait…

Peter The Great (I’m starting to think that is a terrible title, more like Peter the…shit)’s tax was abolished in 1772 – almost 100 years after it was first introduced. The internet tells me that he isn’t the only person to get wrapped up in taxing facial hair over the years but I guess feminine hygiene product wrappers don’t have room for all that. So let’s say that this tax was around for almost 100 years, here’s another fun fact; disposable menstrual pads have been made on a commercial scale since about 1888. Let’s just say that logically they’ve always been taxed – that’s now far more than 100 years that this even sillier tax has been around.

The modern bearded gentleman. Apparently. If so, I think my fella is doing it wrong.  Pic was found here

In summary;
Beards = optional (but sexy, oh so god damned sexy) and a great place for accidentally losing your food and dignity (I found pizza cheese in my boyfriend’s the other day and we hadn’t had pizza for three days!)
Periods = unwanted, unavoidable, uncomfortable, unaffordable.
Both have been taxed rather unnecessarily. Despite the fact that I once got incredibly upset about finding a thick black hair growing from my cheek, if I had to choose, I’d take facial hair any day – at least I could put glitter and butterfly clips in my beard. You should have seen what happened last time I tried to do that with my period.