Style, Not Sincerity, Is The Vital Thing

In my high school days, I was an avid theatre fan and managed to attend plays regularly, whether it was through school or with my friends. Nowadays, I find myself rarely able to check out new plays so, naturally, I jumped at the chance to attend The Importance of Being Earnest at the National Arts Centre.

The Importance of Being Earnest is one of Oscar Wilde’s most-loved pieces, and for good reason. Witty and filled with double entendres, this play is a must-see for lit-heads, but the quick comedy and subtle innuendos are sure to please theatre-goers of all types. The story, a satirical representation of Victorian high society, is about two friends who are in love with one another’s female relations; however, the ladies of interest believe them both to be someone they are not. Using the pseudonym “Ernest,” they both win the women’s affections until the truth of their identities is revealed and hilarity ensues.

Oscar Wilde’s classic play comments on the value of style over substance (“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing”) and the virtues of high society: “Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.” While clearly a period piece, its theme remains timeless, as the plot also illustrates the classic games that men and women play with one another. As the four lead characters find themselves in a mess of love and lies, it is revealed that the complexities of dating were as relevant in 1895 as they are today. Furthermore, the banter between the two female leads mirrors today’s reality: Upon meeting, they are fast friends, only to discover (mistakenly) that they are in love with the same man, thus leading to a sequence of passive-aggressive banter tied together with tinges of jealousy. When realizing their mistake and that they do, in fact, love different men, they can resume their friendship (though never condemning the men for toying with them).

On top of the timelessness of Wilde’s plot, the play is full of famous quotations that one might never have known were even his. My favourites include: “If you are not too long, I will wait here for you my whole life,” “Even before I met you, I was far from indifferent to you,” and “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” The cast portrayed the classic characters sensationally. They have all mastered the art of physical comedy, with perfectly timed appearances, subtle movements, and, in the case of Alex McCooeye’s Algernon, sneaky glances to the audience following every cheeky quip. While Herbie Barnes and David Warburton had smaller roles as butlers, both actors managed to grab some spotlight, without stealing it, by incorporating comedic movements and facial expressions while casually passing by. Lois Anderson’s Miss Prism was at times overbearingly shrill, though perhaps that was her intention. The other women were perfectly enjoyable while portraying the over-dramatic, clueless lead females. Whether this is a character choice made by Wilde or a statement on the depiction of women at that time, or both, I’m still unsure.

The three-act play made for an excellent night out. Running two hours and forty-five minutes, including two intermissions, it was lengthy but enjoyable.  It was an evening of laughter with a deep, moral undertone that left the audience questioning the complexities of both modern and historic society. Wilde’s masterpiece is a must-see. It will leave you thinking, and you’ll never forget: “The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.”


Kyla Clarke is a Sagittarius from small-town Alberta. She enjoys travel, outdoor concerts, and not eating meat. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Carleton University and aspires to work as a writer or editor in the magazine industry.

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Defeating the "Frenemy"


It’s a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy,” and according to, means, “an enemy disguised as a friend” or more explicitly, “someone you pretend to like but really you both know you hate each other.”

Pervasive in cult movies from Bring It On to Mean Girls, the existence of competition between women is impossible to deny. In girl world, frenemies are everywhere and it’s a white-girl problem I take serious issue with.  It’s a female phenomenon that’s existed since grade school, worsened in high school, and doesn’t seem to be going away as I transition into adulthood. Why do women hate each other so much?

I suppose the original source of the existence of frenemies dates back to the olden days, when men were encouraged to go to the club or the pub and rally with the guys. Women, on the other hand, if lucky enough to have finally found a husband, were expected to stay at home. While men were taking the time to develop bonds with other men in a recreational atmosphere, women were taking care of children and neglecting their own social desires. Beyonce’s popular song “***Flawless” references a TEDx talk by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in which she explains, “Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage … I am expected to make my choices always keeping in my mind that marriage is the most important.” Women have been taught for decades “to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishments which … can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.”

Since we’re all consciously and subconsciously competing for men’s attention, the passive-aggressive battle among women has escalated to a cold war over who’s prettiest (while looking most natural), who’s trendiest (without really trying), who’s funny (but not too crude), and who’s got the most chill – all to get boys to like us.

I think with the latest wave of feminism and the presence of pop icons encouraging healthy relationships among women, things are beginning to change. Women like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler are all encouraging women to pursue their own interests, work for their own goals, and build each other up in the process. Because really - when the boys in our lives seem to come and go faster than a Snapchat, shouldn’t we be working to befriend each other instead?


Kyla Clarke is a Sagittarius from small-town Alberta. She enjoys travel, outdoor concerts, and not eating meat. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Carleton University and aspires to work as a writer or editor in the magazine industry.

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Why the Kardashians make good role models

No, wait, hear me out.

A major subtext of “basic” white girl culture is the obsession with the world of celebrities. From celebrity couples to celebrity babies, white girls worldwide can’t get enough of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. We idolize these famous figures, trying to dress like them, look like them, and talk like them. And while that problem in itself should be addressed, we can’t deny that the Kardashian family is the master of the celebrity machine. But I would argue that they aren’t exactly the worst figures to look up to: In fact, I think the Kardashian sisters are healthy role models for young women. From the importance of strong family values to interracial relationships, the Kardashian sisters actually have a lot going for them (other than fame and fortune):

They actually look like real people.

Fashion trends from the ‘80s and ‘90s began teaching young girls that "skin and bones" is beautiful, which transcended into the normalization of size zero and setting unattainable standards for impressionable young women. If the Kardashian sisters have one thing going for them, it’s curves.

They can make lemonade.

Kim Kardashian provides the perfect example of moving on from a bad situation. Back in the early 2000s, when we had barely even heard of the young socialite, her now-infamous sex tape got leaked without her consent (making her a victim of a sex crime, which no one ever seems to acknowledge). Like the model of feminism that she is, Kim turned what could have been a life-ruining experience into a multi-million-dollar empire, whereas other young stars in the same situation have disappeared completely from the limelight. I mean, does anybody even really remember who Paris Hilton is?

They’re honest.               

Okay, maybe not about their hair or their eyelashes, but I get the vibe that these girls aren’t faking much else. My favourite thing about the Kardashian sisters is that they are who they are. You can argue that their show is scripted, but it all seems pretty real to me. In various episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kourtney talks openly about having breast implants, Kim gets Botox with cameras in the room, and Khloe talks about her weight insecurities. After Kim’s notorious 72-day marriage ended so publicly, she is on the show discussing her decision and later joking about it with her sisters. Khloe’s five-year marriage to Lamar Odom also ended publicly and painfully, and Khloe reveals details of that struggle to the audience as well. Kourtney, too, has faced relationship drama in the public eye, dealing with an alcoholic boyfriend who she loves too much to walk away from. Displaying these experiences so publicly teaches young girls that they aren’t alone, and that it’s okay to talk about things that may be uncomfortable.

They may not be the noblest causes, but hey, at least they’re real.

If you’d like to find out more about the Kardashian sisters, you can find them everywhere (but Instagram is a good start)



Kyla Clarke is a Sagittarius from small-town Alberta. She enjoys travel, outdoor concerts, and not eating meat. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Carleton University and aspires to work as a writer or editor in the magazine industry.

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What it means to be a basic bitch

A “basic bitch” can best be described as a young woman who is completely average.  According to the wise contributors of Urban Dictionary, a basic bitch is “just an extra regular female.” Much like #whitegirlproblems, a woman’s basicness is likely due to her preference for Starbucks beverages, Ugg boots, Marilyn Monroe quotes, and other pop-culture phenomena. The term, probably originating from the hip-hop community, like so many slang words tend to do, has become so popular that it’s been shortened to “basic” and is synonymous with “boring,” “average,” or “ordinary.” (For example, an insult directed towards a young woman could include something like: “You’re so basic,” or “That outfit is so basic.”)

Unfortunately, “basic bitch” is just as problematic as “white girl problems,” as it’s mocking and degrading a woman and her personal interests and preferences.  As Michael Reid Roberts of The American Reader says, “jokes about basic girlfriends reek not only of a disgust of female mass culture, but of women in general.” Every time a man refers to a woman as “basic,” he’s implying that she is ordinary, and lacks unique, redeeming qualities. Maybe she’s okay to hang out with sometimes, but he wouldn’t commit to a basic bitch. She’s cute, but she’s not special.  And women are guilty of it, too. Calling one another a “basic bitch” implies a sense of arrogance, as if one is better than the other because of the clothes she wears (like in Kreayshawn’s hit “Gucci Gucci”), the way she styles her hair, or the television shows she watches, and it only allows men to continue doing it too.  In the fight for gender equality, women need to join together and support one another, not perpetuate hate.

After all this thought about basic bitches, I couldn’t help but think, “aren’t men basic too?” How many times do you see massive groups of dudes banding together over sports or video games?  We were all witness to the great visor trend of 1999, and the time when Lacoste polos were everything to the popular boys at school. Fortunately for women, some of the great people of the Internet agree:  this list provides ten solid examples of “basic bros.” Because so help me God if I have to hear one more man in a KCCO t-shirt telling me how he just can’t live without bacon.  

Could you be basic? Watch the video below to see if you are exhibiting any of the classic basic bitch symptoms:


Kyla Clarke is a Sagittarius from small-town Alberta. She enjoys travel, outdoor concerts, and not eating meat. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Carleton University and aspires to work as a writer or editor in the magazine industry.

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The new definition of "white girl"

Everybody knows about the popular Twitter feed, White Girl Problems, but now that 2010’s satirical Twitter sensation has worked its way into mainstream Western culture, I’m noticing some problems. The now-ubiquitous hashtag #whitegirlproblems can be found incorporated into the posts of every social media outlet, signaling the writer’s acknowledgment of first-world privilege and mocking a behaviour they classify as something a typical “white girl” would do. The Internet is full of these references, and as they become part of our daily conversations, I’m concerned about the effect this will have on the way young women are treated, and our culture as a whole.

While #whitegirlproblems raises issues regarding class or race, which I acknowledge, I’m bothered by this notion that it’s okay to place a certain “type” of girl into such a specific category. Sample tweets I found after searching “#whitegirlproblems” include:

@Char_pos1998: I’d sell my Ugg boots for a Starbucks right now #whitegirlproblems
                     @chisholmME : I just want a pumpkin-spice frappe. #whitegirlproblems
@_DMagznot having a phone is one of the toughest things ever #whitegirlproblems

 And the list goes on, featuring similar themes: Starbucks, iPhones, Ugg boots, yoga pants, not being able to afford all the things they want.  The average white young female is becoming a joke, and we’re all buying into it.

After a wildly successful book and subsequent follow-up, White Girl Problems has also inspired several spinoffs feeds, such as Common White Girl (@CommonWhiteGirl) and Basic Bitch (@BasicBitchXO), further perpetuating this stereotype of the average white girl.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t follow some of these Twitter feeds; in fact, I’ve even linked my own tweets with the pervasive hashtag and giggled to myself at my own wit. I started doing it ironically, thinking I’m a smart girl so this doesn’t really matter, but if we as women continue to allow ourselves to feed this notion, it will only make it okay for men to do the same. Where did anybody get the idea that it’s okay to call a woman (or anyone for that matter) “basic?”

 Young women across North America are being lumped into this box of Starbucks-drinking, Ugg-wearing, whiny, privileged girls, and for me, it’s almost changed the experience of actually being a white girl: I’m suddenly so self-aware. Not only can I no longer order a Pumpkin Spice Latte without a quick glance around me, embarrassed, but I also can’t wear leggings as pants when I’m feeling bloated, or carry a yoga mat out of the gym without fearing I’ll appear too “basic.”  If Eiffel Tower souvenirs from my four trips to France make me look like a poseur, or listening to Taylor Swift for the lyrical content should be done in secret, then how can anybody ever really just be themselves?


Kyla Clarke is a Sagittarius from small-town Alberta. She enjoys travel, outdoor concerts, and not eating meat. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Carleton University and aspires to work as a writer or editor in the magazine industry.

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