Trainspotting: Twenty Years Later

Trainspotting: Twenty Years Later

A look back at 1996's heroin-fuelled masterpiece
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It was twenty years ago that Danny Boyle's drug-soaked film adaptation of "Trainspotting" graced cinemas in the United Kingdom and, shortly afterwards, the United States. So, unsurprisingly, with the trailer for a sequel released last week much of the fervour surrounding this cult classic has been revived. With the original cast, including Ewan McGregor's Mark "Rent Boy" Renton (arguably his best character), returning for the sequel it is no wonder that "T2: Trainspotting" has sparked a clamouring of excitement and curiosity amongst longtime fans and newcomers alike.

The artistic and cultural prominence of "Trainspotting" is, at this point, indisputable. An Academy Award nomination for the screenplay, a ranking of number ten out of the top 100 British Films of all time by the British Film Institute, and a vote of being the best Scottish film ever made in a 2004 general poll are only a handful of examples of the critical and public accolades given to the film. Though outside of the United Kingdom it may not be as widely remembered as other popular films of the era it has taken on the mantle of a cult classic. Even drenched in the aesthetic trappings and cultural stereotypes of the 1980s and '90s "Trainspotting" finds relevance and resonance far beyond the time and place of its setting.



The initial impact of "Trainspotting" comes from its embodiment of Thatcherism and post-Thatcher Britain, in Scotland in particular. Margaret Thatcher was, in a way, Britain's Reagan. Her nationalistic, morally absolute conservatism and anti-socialist rhetoric fuelled a consumerist explosion throughout the 1980s that some argue promoted material greed and societal selfishness. Much like Reagan's "idyllic" America, the Britain that Thatcher spawned was one that favoured capitalistic expansion and oversimplified, counter-revolutionary fear-mongering over supportive public programmes and intelligent debate. To this day, in both countries, opponents of any form of socialised policies will often employ the stoically dumbed-down phrases and anecdotes of the Reagan/Thatcher era to support their anti-leftist claims, even if those bumper sticker quotes lack any form of intellectual substance.

As the economic bubble of fast and hard consumerism expanded to its most dangerous limits there were always people left behind. Left to aimlessly wander in the dust of commercialised society run amok. Those left in poverty, those whose families found themselves in the lower strata of this monetary excess often turned to sex, drugs, and music to alleviate the mind-numbing redundancy of a life they saw as prepackaged, plastic rubbish. This is where "Trainspotting" excels, transcending its setting to be a classic of disaffected youth culture and restless angst.



The film stands as a rejection of modern life, a blunt depiction of characters alienated from the grande sweeping gestures of what historians and popular culture define as the overarching elements of the era. The heroin-induced mania of these characters, a desperate form of escapism turned addiction, is presented with a brutal honesty that can, at times, be almost uncomfortable to watch. There are close up shots of heroin injections and the subsequent orgasmic release that the high brings, all taking place in squalor and dilapidation. There is an element of surrealism within "Trainspotting" an artistic and strange representation of the out of this world experiences of the junkies that populate this bleak world.



Moments like the impossibly weird Brian Eno-driven ambience of the toilet scene, where Renton dives into a public toilet only to find himself swimming in what appears to be clean, open water with a bed of smooth stones below, help to remind the viewer that this is a world of junkies and weirdos, people whose perceptions of reality are far from trustworthy narratives. The infamous Junkie Limbo scene, where Renton is forced by his family to quit heroin cold turkey, is particularly jarring. Crammed with hallucinatory, sometimes painful imagery, the effects of withdrawal are presented with an agonisingly, yet still artistically expressive, frankness. It is a scene that stays with the audience, embodying the refusal of censorship in "Trainspotting". There is no dancing around the troubled lives of these young adults, which has prompted some critics over the years to claim that the film glamorises drug culture and strung out characters to the lower classes of society. These critics oftentimes seem to be missing the point.



What makes "Trainspotting" so special, so relevant, even twenty years on is the brutal honesty of its world and characters. It resonates thanks to its refusal to compromise, providing dark humour and bleak reality with random flourishes of the surreal. Addiction, AIDs, death, crime, and moral ambiguity are just facets of the dark shadow of Thatcher's perfectly individualistic, capitalist Britain. It is a story of those left behind by pop culture and society, the people that the posh and the proper sweep under the rug to tidy up their aesthetic. It speaks to the alienated and disaffected with an almost universal appeal, because the world it depicts is one that many in real life find themselves inhabiting.

Cover Image Credit: wallpapercraze.com

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I Write Because

It's my escape, and I can go into this whole new world when I do.
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I have been seriously writing for about a year now, and today I questioned why I write? In this year, I have written hundreds of pages in my diary, I have written a rough draft of a book that has 263 pages in its first copy, and I have been writing weekly content for The Odyssey. This is in addition to the schoolwork I have had that has required me to write essays and whatever comes my way.

This still doesn’t answer the question, why do I write? What could be going on in my head that has led to me write so much in a relatively short amount of time? A lot of people probably don’t write the amount of I’ve written in a year of writing in their lifetimes.

It’s a lot, and I don’t blame them. Writing takes a lot of time and it’s a skill that can be hard to master. I know I am nowhere near mastery with writing, but I hope to get there one day. It’s something I’ve always loved, but in this past year or so it’s something I’ve grown to be passionate about.

Why? I write because I am someone that thinks a lot. There is always a thought going on in my brain, and sometimes these thoughts consume my daily activity. Writing is how these thoughts escape my brain.

If something bad happened, I need to write about it in my journal. I am the type of person that gets so fixated on either something huge or miniscule and it will distract me from whatever I am doing, and writing gets me out of that. Writing helps me escape my own demons in my brain.

When I write, I am brutally honest with myself and I do this, so I can reflect later on. One of my key values is growth, and to me writing allows me to grow because when I write, I reflect on what I did wrong and I can better myself for the future. I am not perfect, I make mistakes and writing allows me to see those mistakes, so I don’t make them again.

I document the good, the bad, the ugly, and I love it. The good days make me happy when I am sad, and the bad days keep me humble and teach me. I look at old entries from 3 months ago, and I see the growth I have made since then. It’s awesome.

When I write, I get into this vortex where it’s me and my keyboard. Nothing can stop me when I am writing, and it is my therapy.

Sometimes, I document days when I need to make a decision and the people that I get advice from, their words don’t click in my brain. I write every factor in the decision, others advice, and how I feel.

I suck at public speaking; my brain goes a million miles per hour and my mouth keeps up. When I am nervous, and I have to talk in big groups of people, I cannot make a cohesive sentence. It’s because of nerves, and it’s why I force myself to participate in class because public speaking is an important skill.

That’s another reason why I write all the time. When I write, it forces my brain to slow down. It gives me a layout of what I want to follow, and it’s why in class or meetings I am always taking notes. Taking notes keeps me on track.

Bringing this back to advice, sometimes I forget words, or I don’t quite know how to explain something. When I write it out, the words naturally come to my brain and I don’t struggle to find words because my brain has had time to process it.

Writing things down forces my brain to process things and to digest big issues, instead of just accepting it and moving a million miles per hour. Since I have been writing, I feel like I am more mature because I have taken the time to understand more things.

People ask me, why I write so much? This is why, I need time to digest what is going on, and to make sure I can grow from it. In life we are constantly growing as people, I want to document that for my future self and my future kids. Also, I want to make sure that I don’t repeat history and make the same mistake twice.

As for writing anything that is not about my day, why do I do it? I love it. I love typing on a computer and writing an article or an essay. When we got essays in high school, I would challenge myself and I would take a different perspective and learn what other people think.

I loved it because I dove myself into a computer and became an introvert while I wrote the essay. In college, I had a ten-page research paper and I loved it because I was able to talk about this topic and teach a different perspective to my professor.

It’s the same reason why I write for The Odyssey. I write because I am different, and I own it, and I want the people who read my articles to hopefully think differently. Another reason, I get to teach and share my knowledge through writing, and teaching that I want to do for the rest of my life. If writing enables me to do teach, I will write till the cows come home.

As for fiction, I am creative by default. Since there is always a thought in my brain, I begin to wonder what if, and I create these stories based on that what if. It’s how I wrote a novel at the age of 18.

My whole novel that I wrote started with a what if that I asked myself when I was little. Since then I have been creating this whole story to that what if and have developed it over time with my life experiences. It is the biggest reason to why I may never publish the book because it is so personal.

Also, creatively writing get these ideas out of my head and I can focus on my schoolwork. Sometimes creatively writing distracts my brain from feeling a certain way, and it’s a channel for me to get to this happy place. That is the biggest reason to why I always travel with something to write on because it’s a need for me.

Essentially, I write because I need to get out of my head and writing enables me to do that. For me, writing is my therapy and escape that’s why I write.

Cover Image Credit: @fuertes_clara

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50 Amazing Songs From Someone Who Actually Listens To Everything

What music do you like? "A little bit of everything."
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I cannot tell you the number of times someone has asked me what music I listen to without them actually getting a good answer.

To me, music is everything. It is that motivating kick to work on homework. It is that eloquent touch missing from a homemade dinner. It is the immersion of memory from a sound you heard years ago. It is the beat that makes you dance like you actually know how to dance. It is that connection you can share with someone while singing a song at the top of your lungs!

My music history started off with my mom. My mom would play Christian pop for me and my siblings while we cleaned the house. During airplane flights, I would listen to the jazz radio for hours on end. From there, I transitioned to the country music my dad would play through the speakers of his work truck. My sister turned me onto soft rock through the RCHP, Jack Johnson, and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Then I got my first iPod. Suddenly, I no longer had to rely on others to play music for me. I could listen to anything and everything I fancied at the moment. I would write down songs I heard at dances to download later from YouTube videos. I would wait in agony for the end of a movie to see the song list. I would carefully select my next fifteen songs to buy with my iTunes gift card, to the point of creating brackets to see which ones were the best.

Throughout high school, my brother introduced to me to rap music and dubstep. My friends would tell me their favorites, and I would listen to every song of their favorite artist in a week. Soon I would know more about that artist than they did. I jumped from Lil Wayne to Boyce Avenue to Taylor Swift, even touching One Direction because that’s what girls liked.

Every day was a chance for a new song. Every moment was a chance for a new beat and lyric to turn my entire viewpoint of music upside down.

When someone asks me what type of music do I listen to, then I have to say everything. I listen to everything! I can’t have a favorite picking between Beethoven and Drake. I can’t have a favorite between Flatland Calvary and Post Malone.

So here is my list of the most defining songs in my life. There are from every genre and each one holds different memories with them. Give them a listen. Everyone can be a banger or an anthem. Never stop listening to music. Never stop clicking shuffle. Enjoy.

Side Note: These are in no particular order. All of them are NOT SAFE FOR WORK. These are not my top 50 songs. These are just 50 good songs that I enjoy a lot.

1. “Doses & Mimosas” - Cherub

2. “Suga Suga” - Baby Bash, Frankie J

3. “Enchanted” - Taylor Swift

4. “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” - Cage the Elephant

5. “Dani California” - Red Hot Chili Peppers

6. “Elastic Heart” - Sia

7. “Gangsta’s Paradise” - Coolio, L.V.

8. “Mr. Jones” - Counting Crows

9. “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” - The Charlie Daniels Band

10. “All of Me” - John Legend

11. “Love Me” - Lil Wayne, Drake, Future

12. “Gangsta” - Kehlani

13. “Your Body Is a Wonderland” - John Mayer

14. “Banana Pancakes” - Jack Johnson

15. “Howlin’ For You” - The Black Keys

16. “Pray For Me” - The Weeknd, Kendrik Lamar

17. “Stay” - Rihanna, Mikky Ekko

18. “iSpy” - KYLE Lil Yachty

19. “Creep” – Radiohead

20. “God Bless The U.S.A.” – Lee Greenwood

21. “Freeze Frame Time” - Brandon Rhyder

22. “Simple Song #3” - David Lang, Sumi Jo

23. “Light of the Seven” - Ramin Djawadi

24. “Suite No. 1 G Major Prelude” - Johann Sebastian Bach

25. “Hallelujah” - Pentatonix

26. “Higher Ground” - TNGHT, Hudson Mohawke, Lunice

27. “Sabotage” - Beastie Boys

28. “T.N.T” - AC/DC

29. “Blockbuster Night Part 1” - Run the Jewels

30. “White Iverson” - Post Malone

31. “The Hills” - The Weeknd

32. “Shoot Me Down” - Lil Wayne, D. Smith

33. “Black Belts” - Pyramid Vritra, Pyramid Quince

34. “Thinkin Bout You” - Frank Ocean

35. “Sky Walker” - Miguel, Travis Scott

36. “Pray” - Sam Smith, Logic

37. “Yonkers” - Tyler, The Creator

38. “Flexicution” - Logic

39. “Hypnotize” - The Notorious B.I.G.

40. “Boondocks” - Little Big Town

41. “Hotel California" - Eagles

42. “Danger Zone” - Kenny Loggins

43. “Toes” - Zac Brown Band

44. “I think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” - Merle Haggard

45. “Song of the South” - Alabama

46. “A Country Boy Can Survive” - Hank Williams Jr.

47. “Chicks Dig It” – Christ Cagle

48. “She Likes the Beatles” - William Clark Green

49. “Long Hot Summer Day” - Turnpike Troubadours

50. “Summer III” – Vivaldi

“You know what music is? God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.” August Rush

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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