Tag Archives: culture

Danish haunted-house studies seek to reveal the seductive appeal of horror

Visitors to a haunted house in Vejle, Denmark, respond differently to being confronted by "scare actors" depending on whether they are "adrenaline junkies" or "white-knucklers."

Enlarge / Visitors to a haunted house in Vejle, Denmark, respond differently to being confronted by “scare actors” depending on whether they are “adrenaline junkies” or “white-knucklers.” (credit: Andrés Baldursson, Baldursson Photography)

It’s no secret that many of us here at Ars are genuine fans of horror. As a child, I would compulsively devour horror short stories and watch classic movies on late-night TV, like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) or I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). Then I’d lie awake at night in terror, convinced a werewolf was lurking just outside my bedroom window. (In reality, it was a trick of light and shadow against the curtains.) That’s the central paradox of horror: we both fear the experience of watching a scary movie, or reading

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How technology transformed long-distance relationships

Last year, I was obsessed with the internet. I spent months writing and thinking about online intimacy, a whole summer meeting nobody in person, relying simply on apps. Most of my romantic encounters took place online, many of them never crossing over to ‘real life’ at all; my phone was littered with names like ‘Richard Hinge’, ‘Simon Tinder’, ‘Sophie OkCupid’. Dutifully putting them in my phone on Friday nights, Sunday mornings, by Tuesday the conversation was dead: I had no idea who these people in my phonebook even were.

So it was a surprise to me, too, when I met someone at a party and we fell in love. There was no preamble, no holding each other at arm’s length, no weeks or months of online Read the rest

When Little Boys Wore Dresses

Until about a century ago, in the western world, you couldn’t tell whether a young child was a girl or a boy from the way he or she dressed. All young children dressed alike, irrespective of their gender, in girls clothing complete with girly shoes, long hair and ponytails. Trousers or breeches wasn’t worn until boys were at least four, but some continued to wear skirts, gowns and petticoats until they were significantly older—about eight years of age. By that time, the boys would eagerly look forward to wearing their first pair of trousers. The donning of trousers was a very significant milestone in the life of a young boy, and this momentous event was celebrated with a ceremony known as “breeching”.

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The five children of Read the rest

Horsing around: a wild weekend at Appleby Fair

One week every year, the tiny town of Appleby in Cumbria host the largest gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in Western Europe. Around 10,000 members of the travelling community pour into the Eden Valley to trade horses, party, gamble, meet friends, and even find love.

Increasingly, horses are being brought to the three-day fair for leisure rather than for trade, and the vast majority of visitors are there as part of a traditional family holiday. Hundreds of horses are seen being ridden around the town, washed in the river, groomed, and exercised (the best way of showing them off).

I’d known about the Appleby fair for years – it’s been around since 1775 – but last year was the first time I got to visit. It … Read the rest

Meet the African chief who leads a double life in Germany

Céphas Bansah works as a self-employed car mechanic in the German town of Ludwigshafen. But in his spare time, he oversees the development of his hometown – Hohoe, capital of Ghana’s Gbi Traditional Area – through WhatsApp and Skype.

“Being a king is not a profession, it is my life’s work,” says the 70-year-old. “My happiest moments are when I can help in Ghana through my efforts here in Germany.”



Technically, the Gbi Traditional Area is not a monarchy and the title Ngoryifia literally translates as ‘development chief’, an honorary position bestowed on people thought of as respectable and believed to be capable of helping an area.

For Bansah, that could be securing sources of clean drinking water, redeveloping prison infrastructure for women and young men … Read the rest

What Netflix did next: brats, bodyguards & sociopaths

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The first five minutes of this bang, and I maintained hope for it quite a long way in. But,no – I’m sorry to report that it’s a load of toot.

This is a boilerplate 90-minute action film centred around a bodyguard, but the twist is – gasp! – it’s only a bloody woman! That’s right folks, it’s that Flashdance opening sequence all over again: there’s a welder, welding away, being a man, as per usual, nothing to see here, until the welding mask comes off and – wait, what??? It can’t be… it is! It’s a WOMAN!

Spoiled poor little rich girl, Zoe (Sophie Nélisse) has just inherited her father’s phosphate mines and must hang out in a safe house in Morocco for a Read the rest

Documenting the unseen side of the Black Panther Party

In 1968, the Black Panther Party (BPP) stood 2,000 strong; armed not just with firearms, but a knowledge of the Constitution, state, and local laws. Initially organised to fight police brutality, the group quickly organised to institute community social programs. Leadership understood the power of the press and began working with writers, artists, and photographers to get the word out.

That year, Kathleen Cleaver met husband and wife photographers Pirkle Jones (1914-2009) and Ruth-Marion Baruch (1922-1997), and gave them unprecedented access to the inner circle of the BPP.  Of the work they made, Baruch said: “We can only tell you: This is what we saw. This is what we felt. These are the people.”

The photographs – first printed in The Black Panther weekly newspaper – Read the rest