So I saw yesterday that apparently Daisy Ridley is in talks to play Lara Croft. Because, y’know, she’s got brown hair and has been filmed running around.
When are the people making Tomb Raider movies going to get it through their thick skulls that they are doing it wrong? They just keep repeating the same mistakes. I’ve seen a lot of changes since I started following the Tomb Raider franchise in 1996, but this is utterly ridiculous.
Lara is English. She should be played by an English actress, they’ve got as far as working that out. However, there’s plenty of English actresses other than Daisy Ridley. They can run around and point guns at stuff just as well as American women, it’s not a “talent” that’s unique to Daisy. Not only that, but any English actress will be able to point out anachronisms in the script “we don’t usually eat that food, we don’t actually say that phrase” etc.
The main issue is that Lara is 29 in the first game. Twenty. Nine. She gets older as time goes on. Her official date of birth was February 14th, 1967 until the marketers stepped in and de-aged her. Because, y’know, women aren’t allowed to age, we hit 25 then they rewind and rewrite the history and get a new actress to play the part, redesign the video game character, all that jazz. But Lara started out as 29 and she aged 1 year in every subsequent game up to Tomb Raider Chronicles (Tomb Raider 5) where it gets a bit confused due to her being thought dead. Of course, women stop ageing when they’re believed to be dead and it was implied (but never stated) that the clock rewound at some point because Angelina Jolie was too young when she played Lara. Why make the same mistake again?
Hiring someone who is 23 but looks 16 isn’t going to make a great Tomb Raider movie. She needs some gravitas. If you don’t understand this, think about an analogy – would you hire a 23 year old actor to play James Bond? It’s exactly the same. The role of James Bond generally goes to someone aged in their very late thirties or early forties, and they play him through their forties and sometimes into their fifties. Lara has life experience, she’s supposed to be laid back and a bit sassy, and (here’s the really important part) in her original bio, she was completely self made. She got disinherited and EARNED her money from writing travel books. You need time to establish that sort of money.
In order to win the all-important over-21 female audience, you are going to need to give them something inspirational, instead of sending the message out (yet again) that women’s lives are over at 25 and they’ve peaked. The reason Lara did so well with the female demographic in the first place (in the video games, and she really did) is because it was the first time we’d had a character like that; older, smart, physically active, totally independent AND didn’t feel the need to look like a man to make it in the world (but wasn’t frilly and uber feminine either). Give us Lara Croft at her actual age with someone who can really get inside the character, and I promise you, it’ll do MUCH better than whatever you’ve got planned.
Lara’s physical appearance is wrong for Daisy Ridley. Her hair is a medium brown (and in the original games she had a henna rinse). Angelina Jolie’s hair was nearly black. What’s the point in them making such a big fuss about the physical characteristics such as boobs and waist, and then consistently getting the hair wrong?
The marketing geniuses behind the Tomb Raider films seems to think that tokenistic Britishisms and the right costume are all they need, and that they should just throw it at some popular-today actress. They probably don’t understand why Cradle of Life flopped. Lena Headey would be the ideal Lara Croft in every way shape and form. If they need more suggestions, Keira Knightley would be a MUCH better choice than Daisy Ridley; her face looks exactly right and she is a good age to play Lara convincingly, or how about Emilia Clarke (who also played Sarah Connor), these are fantastic English actresses who could really do the role some justice. If they consider hiring an American actress (given my reservations outlined above), they should be looking in the direction of Angelina Goddamn Jolie. Really they need someone over 30 with enough life experience to actually make a credible Lara Croft, and maybe some experience in a similar role. The only obvious reason I can think of for why they’re not considering Keira Knightley is boob size. And that’s a disgraceful excuse.
Lara Croft is Sarah Connor without kids. She’s not some petulant and 2-dimensional little girl who lives off daddy’s money and got into daddy’s gun cupboard. If you look at the original bio before it all got sanitized and changed to fit the films, the conflict between Lara and her parents (and getting disinherited) is what drives her to be so independent. Without it, you’ve just got an uber-wealthy spoilt brat running around third world countries damaging old stuff. Not only that, but she’s supposed to be tongue in cheek, like James Bond or Indiana Jones. She has balls.
Characterization is where they went badly wrong with the first two films – they just didn’t understand the character when they wrote the script, turned her into some laughable idea of British Upper Class and, while the first film pulled through due to canny marketing and product deals, the second one flopped. Nobody even knew when it was out because all the advertising posters didn’t have the date on them.
They need to return to the original character concept – it worked for Batman, there you have a strong body of evidence that the modern audience wants authenticity, not some popular-culture influenced, re-styled version of the original idea. It doesn’t need to appeal to 14 year olds, it needs to appeal to twenty-and-thirty-somethings who own action figures, because the rest of the market will follow where they lead when it comes to things like this, and they will determine whether the film becomes a classic or is totally forgotten in a year’s time. It all starts with hiring the right actress to play Lara Croft.
Marketers aren’t usually this stupid. They know how the audience thinks and they know how to market things. If they’re hiring Daisy Ridley for this, there’s something wider going on here – they want it to fail. Why? Because if they can’t reboot Tomb Raider then it’s proof positive that consumers don’t want female action heroes. Ghostbusters was a shockingly fake nod to “diversity” and following it up the next year with a terrible Tomb Raider movie will really turn public opinion against female action protagonists. Which means they can get back in the kitchen and bake cakes instead.
Edit: To reflect Lena Headey’s nationality, I have amended this article. She really is the ultimate Lara Croft.
I decided to write a review about the new service that I’m sure everyone with a Bloglovin’ Account has been contacted about recently: Activate By Bloglovin’. Please read this entire post and share it with everyone you know. I was offered the opportunity to participate in Activate by Bloglovin’ but as you will see, all opinions are very definitely my own.
Bloglovin’ is an RSS site where people can follow blogs they like, and it’s not a very good one when compared to others such as Feedly. They recently emailed me about a new venture called Activate by Bloglovin’.
This is used under Fair Use Law 107.
According to the email, Activate by Bloglovin’ is a way to “Monetize Your Influence!”
The whole concept of bloggers being influencers is ludicrous anyway, who exactly are we supposed to be influencing? It’s mostly used as a cover to hide the fact that we are the end consumers in the sales chain (like Avon, Ann Summers and all those other direct multi-level marketing type jobs), and whatever happens after us is immaterial as long as we have spent money on a product. When they ask you to pay postage or give you a “reviewer’s discount” or ask you to write a post for a free item of low value that you wouldn’t have bought for yourself, by the way, you have spent money, because you should have been paid properly for your time and work.
The email I received promised that I could be rewarded for all my hard work writing my blog, and claimed that I would get to write paid posts if I signed up to this new service. I have no interest in writing paid beauty or lifestyle posts, but I have been considering accepting paid travel posts, if such things exist (or starting a new travel blog website that does this), so I decided for the sake of curiosity that I wanted to see what sort of money paid posts paid out, and what sort of things people got paid to write about, and I thought if I’m already signed up with Bloglovin’ (the blog following website) it should be as easy as clicking a button to sign up, take a look at what cross section of the market they’re cornering, with the option to un-sign-up straight after, right? Oh how wrong I was!
I signed up using my Bloglovin’ login and was immediately bombarded with a bunch of forms to fill in which proved that Bloglovin’s new venture doesn’t give a shit about the safety of bloggers or protecting their privacy. No, you don’t need my town AND state AND country. State and country should be good enough for American bloggers, and country should be enough for non-American bloggers. If I’m from Kazakhstan, are you really telling me that any, rare paid post opportunity looking for a Kazakh blogger is going to care which Oblast I’m from?? I find it highly doubtful. This straight away made me wonder what any blogger was actually going to get out of this. You don’t need my full postal address to pay me via Paypal, and who are you giving this information to? Where are your data protection and privacy statement? Why demand this information upfront when 90% of the people using this will never get to write a paid post? It’s unnecessary.
I filled it in with trepidation. I don’t make a huge secret about where I live but at the same time I don’t want it plastered all over the internet. It’s another way of subtly controlling bloggers – if they have all your details, you’re less likely to write something truly controversial because of fear of backlash.
Been there, done that, pretty sure Activate By Bloglovin’s got *nothing* on the tabloids and TV channels that were all over me last June for my incredibly controversial topical article on another website.
So we came to the screen where it wanted to connect to my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram Google Plus and Pinterest accounts. What I didn’t like was the fact that the person who designed these apps made them unnecessarily intrusive, so the “connect your account” (which is actually an app, you’re just not the end user) wanted permission, for example to write posts on your wall/tweets on your timeline/etc. Why did Activate By Bloglovin’ want to take over my social media? Their stated reason was so they could see how many followers I had. As you can see, this whole signup process has “invasion of privacy” and “controlling” plastered all over it.
There is no legitimate, benign reason that an app needs to have that level of control over my social media accounts, and they only do it to hijack my social media and use my followers to broadcast their message. Usually, it’s a fairly inoccuous seeming messsage such as “InvokeDelight just updated her status on ThisApp” but it’s still an unwanted, spammy message that turns my followers off actually engaging with my self-written content. An app can very easily be designed to work properly for the purpose of telling a website your follower count without needing that level of control. The best part? Their Pinterest one can’t even GET your follower count, you have to put that in manually, but they still insist that you connect and give them permission to use your Pinterest account! WTF??
So against all judgement, for the sake of a good review, I connected my Twitter account (tentatively). I have 1140 Twitter followers at the time of writing. Activate By Bloglovin’ was given all the permissions it demanded from me so it could verify how many Twitter followers I have, and somehow it didn’t manage this. It returned that I had no followers. But I did get points for being on Twitter in the first place!
Did I say they score you on a points system?
It’s not based on SEO or number of unique views per day or bounce rate or number of people following your blog by email or anything else that is tangible and useful, that could actually help a brand find a suitable match to advertise their product, it’s based on how many people follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest (of all things), Google Plus and Instagram. Because the bloggers with the most followers in these areas are clearly the ones who “exert the most influence.”
Never mind that people engaging with other people on Social Media do so as equals not as some sort of weird hierarchy where everyone who’s added you is clearly a “follower” and you’re a “leader.” It doesn’t work like that. Otherwise, with my 100% follow back policy, I am being led by my 1140 Twitter followers. Hardly.
Because Activate by Bloglovin’ failed to verify my 1140 Twitter followers (seriously, take a look at my Twitter), and because I decided I could not be bothered to connect other social media platforms that I would only have to disconnect an hour later when I deleted this whole thing (or so I thought), I got told I’d only completed 20% of the profile. That’s right, there isn’t an “I’m not on Facebook” or “I don’t have a Pinterest” button. If you don’t have these exact social media accounts then they penalize your “score.”
So let’s talk about this scoring system. Out of a possible total of 100 points, I scored 6. SIX points. People who can’t spell their own name but who have a Facebook page will come more highly recommended than I will for professional writing services.
How is this score calculated? This screenshot explains it all:
So they basically give you the most social media points from Facebook, the least from Google Plus, and they claim to also use sources such as Alexa and Google Analytics but I don’t genuinely believe that they had any means to do this with the information they had been given (to use Google Analytics, you have to paste code into your site. Alexa doesn’t even verify metrics on WordPress sites which is 60% of all blogs ever).
The bit I found most intriguing was their third measure: “Activate Infuence.” What they mean is, one of the ways they decide how influential you are as a blogger is based on how many Bloglovin’ followers you have. This is delightfully recursive because anyone who was on Bloglovin’ in its early days will have gajillions of followers because it ranks blogs to follow in order of popularity. Anyone who was on Bloglovin’ after the first 1000 bloggers signed up will have a moderate number of followers because they’ll still be visible to really determined readers. Anyone who signed up to Bloglovin’ in the last 12 months will have very few organic follows. If, like me, you’re on WordPress, you will either get WordPress followers or Bloglovin followers, but not both, because why would anyone sign up to get multiple updates for the same freaking blog? Add to that, if you’re on WordPress, you’re more likely to get WordPress followers because many people like the strong follow back culture and the ability to interact with posts quickly and easily on Reader. So Bloglovin’ only works for people who got their foot in the door early, OR who don’t have any other way that someone can get updates for their posts. So if you’re using Blogspot you’re probably sorted for Bloglovin; but then, you can also clutter your pages with Adsense on blogspot so it’s seen as a more commercial venture anyway (let’s not talk about WordPress vs Blogspot, I’m clearly Team WordPress because I run a WordPress site), perhaps this is the target bloggers they’re trying to attract.
So between my followers all using WordPress, Email and RSS to follow me instead of Bloglovin’ because it’s possibly the worst blog-following RSS site in the world (or at least the slowest loading with terrible visibility and functionality), and me not being on Facebook, I scored a measly six points out of 100. Apparently it’s “relative to other bloggers” so as more people sign up to Activate By Bloglovin’ my score will go down. This makes me laugh. A lot.
To break it down, I lost 26% from refusing to connect my other social media apps (BTW, I went to Twitter and deleted “Activate By Bloglovin” app – it’s still claiming it’s connected, I’ve had to report it to Twitter to get rid of it), I lost 32% from having something like 10 followers on Bloglovin’ and I lost the other 33% because their metrics don’t actually work on my site. That dropped me 91 points. The other 3 must be down to the relative weighting they talked about in the screenshot above.
To add insult to injury, they told me I needed to add an “Activate By Bloglovin'” Button to my site. You know, to go with the “Follow Me On Bloglovin'” Button that’s mandatory to “claim” your blog. Given that several weeks ago I deleted my Bloglovin’ button from my website to make it less cluttered (because the clickthrough rate is poor, because Bloglovin’ is clunky and slow), I don’t think the Bloglovin’ corporation likes me very much anyway. Well, the other reason I deleted it is because the Bloglovin’ website is a very flawed system anyway. You see, instead of showing you a random selection of blogs or occasionally showing you a new one that you didn’t see before, they always show them from most popular to least popular – so the popular ones get more popular and the newest ones languish in invisibility. For the stated aim of something like “makes it easier to manage and follow your favourite blogs” I find it isn’t fit for purpose, I use Feedly instead. But instead of fixing what was wrong with Bloglovin’ by speeding it up and adding something like a “stumble” button, they decided to use that very flawed system to make money out of PR companies.
So then I added five categories (which ranged from general such as travel to overly specific such as luxury travel, just to make it more ridiculous because I don’t trust brands to know what they’re looking for in a blogger anyway), and after all that hassle I finally got to the part where I could see what sort of campaigns they offered.
Aside from a campaign to spread the good word about Activate by Bloglovin’ (in which I am not participating, strangely), there was one campaign.
Just the one.
And before anyone says “maybe you didn’t qualify to see the others” this campaign was so woefully inappropriate to my blog that it was very clear it was actually the only campaign on offer. In their defense it was extremely well paid at $500.
It was a campaign requiring “Southern Bloggers” (yeah, the company was so clueless they didn’t seem to understand that every country in the world has a south not just America) and when you clicked on it, they actually wanted bloggers from a handful of specific states to invent recipes using their food. The food in question? Something that you put on pork. As someone with multiple allergies I had to conclude that this Activate By Bloglovin’ is not set up with any kind of respect to the bloggers, it’s designed to boost your ego only so they get more brands working with them. Because if you feel like an influencer, Activate by Bloglovin’ can sell the idea that you’re an influencer and get lots of money from brands paying Bloglovin’ to access their database of “influencers.” As a blogger, you’re just an entry on a list to make the popular bloggers look more popular than they really are. Which was the fatal flaw with Bloglovin’s original purpose. It’s basically a way to monetize Bloglovin’ which is effectively a social pyramid scheme.
Of course Bloglovin’ are the people making all the money out of this. I already knew that. We the bloggers are just the tins of beans on the shelf, the brands with their paid posts are the shoppers, and Activate by Bloglovin’ is trying to get them to spend as much money as possible. They don’t care if you never get a PR campaign. They don’t care if the brands are giving you dangerous products or are asking you to lie and say the advertisement they want you to post is actually a guest post. They don’t even care if the brand ends up spending a lot of money on a blog that no-one reads (but has a lot of likes on their Facebook page) and no-one buys more of their products as a result of the paid post. Activate By Bloglovin’ (and similar companies like Brandbacker, although this review is NOT about Brandbacker who by all accounts are competent) get money from the brands and PR companies to find them some bloggers and that’s it. Which would be fine if they were transparent about that instead of making out they have accurate analytics and only matched the most appropriate bloggers with campaigns which is clearly untrue. It’s like the marketers at Activate by Bloglovin’ read about the concept of a unique selling point and missed the part where they actually need to deliver results in order to get repeat business. With the model they’re using, they just can’t deliver those results to brands. If you’re wondering how to find someone to write a paid post for you, this really isn’t the best way to do it.
As a tin of beans, I demand to be treated with respect, and I dislike having a label all over me telling anyone walking past my full name, where I live, my email’s password (Google Plus, Gmail and Youtube use the same password, I would NEVER authorise a money driven app to get that password), my phone number…. These companies that want you to review their products are just direct marketers (those people who also put leaflets through your door and email you about casinos) with a new audience – you, the blogger. I spend most of my life trying to avoid spam, why would I invite it into my life by giving these people all of my contact details?
What it comes down to is trust. I don’t trust a site that was clunky and slow-loading and whose marketing spiel is packed with distortions aimed at getting brands to spend lots of money on incompetent bloggers. I don’t trust a site that demands my passwords and expects permission to follow, unfollow post and delete posts using my social media account. I don’t trust a site that has turned blogging into a popularity contest and is now trying to monetize that. I don’t trust a site that demands overly specific information about my blogging niche then lets me apply for any old crap. There is nothing in this process that makes monetizing your blog quick, easy or even certain. Not only that, but it’s really only aimed at beauty and lifestyle bloggers anyway, which they could have specified in their email and saved me a lot of time and effort with being predominantly a TRAVEL blogger and wanting to write about TRAVEL. Speaking of which, why is it that you’re allowed to add 5 categories in “Activate By Bloglovin” but in actual “Bloglovin'” where people follow you (oh, I’m sorry, I meant “endorse” you), you are stuck with one category even if you blog about more than one thing?!
The best part of the whole thing is that once you’ve signed up, you can’t un-sign up or delete your account, there literally isn’t an option for this. I’m sort of hoping they’ll read this and delete my Bloglovin’ and Activate by Bloglovin’ accounts so I never have to hear from them again, to be perfectly honest. PR and paid post aggregation companies don’t tend to like people who give genuinely honest reviews.
Which leads me to the conclusion that either Activate By Bloglovin’ is a harmless site that’s just woefully incompetent (like those inexperienced managers at job interviews who still believe that they can make a hiring decision based on whether you accept a drink from them or not), in which case I don’t want to throw my fortune in with them, or they’re collecting highly personal data from bloggers so they can sell it, in which case I REALLY don’t want any part of this. Either way, for me personally it’s an absolute waste of time.
I think I’ll stick with my affiliate links.
This review was written from an email invitation sent by Activate By Bloglovin’. All opinions on this service are, quite obviously, my own.
1. I don’t get free lipstick and I am not PR friendly (I don’t work with any brands).
2. I have never published a paid post on my blog.
3. I write about whatever the damn hell I please. My remit is joy and understanding, these are the purpose of my blog; sometimes other stuff for variety.
4. When that meshes with talking about a product I bought that actually worked to solve a problem I had, I drop an Amazon link so I can get a commission for matching people’s problems with solutions. It doesn’t affect the price you pay and comes from their profit. I am a member of Amazon Associates USA, as I have stated in both my “about me” and “contact me” pages, and referred to in a number of posts. I have been using Amazon Associates for 21 days so far, since about 11pm (my time) on New Year’s Eve, and so far it’s netted me about $10 which is about £6. At the end of February I will re-evaluate whether I feel this has been a successful venture or whether I’m keeping my association with Amazon.
5. I currently ONLY have links to Amazon Associates USA on my four most popular blog posts. All other links to Amazon (e.g. pictures of rabbit hutches) are just normal links and I don’t earn money from them. I felt this was ethical. I never link to a product I haven’t paid for and found useful. If it doesn’t meet both of these criteria, I don’t link to it.
6. Amazon and Amazon Associates have literally no control over my creative content (I’m not sure they’ve ever seen it) and I do not now, nor have I ever, written posts with the sole purpose of making money from affiliate links. All the articles that currently have links in them are articles that I wrote many months ago, I wrote them to help people, and they have been here on my site for all that time with NO AFFILIATE LINKS. Then one day I decided to run an experiment to see how well Amazon Associates USA worked with my current traffic compared to how well it had worked over a sample time period about six months ago (when there were zero clickthroughs i.e. I made absolutely no money) when I had significantly less traffic.
7. I will write an article with my recommendations/otherwise about Amazon Associates USA when I have had enough time to fully evaluate it. I have no British affiliate links or links for any other country because 97% of my traffic comes from America, from search engine queries (I did some math today).
8. I am planning on charging people to post their links or infographics on my site as of next month, because quite frankly I don’t want to post 99% of the links and infographics people email me about, and I thought this would make people think about whether their link was really appropriate to my blog before contacting me. I have made this clear on my contact me page. All links currently on my blog are ones I found myself and I will make it clear if/when I accept payment for any link or infographic. I will also still be just as selective.
9. I also make money whenever anyone buys a copy of any of my books, although I do not use Amazon Associates affiliate links to promote these as I feel that would be a conflict of interest. I make money from book sales via royalties paid by my publishers. As far as I am aware, none of my blog readers have bought copies of any of my books and it doesn’t bother me one bit.
The whole point of yesterday’s article was to try to tell new bloggers, particularly those wanting to start a beauty blog, that there’s another way to blog. That they don’t have to copy what everyone else does, they don’t have to accept free products in exchange for their integrity.
I want the internet to shift it’s balance in favour of talented and thoughtful content creators instead of people writing any old crap to make a quick buck or get a free lipstick, and I was trying to say that, if you’re creative, you can find other ways to monetize your site, and you can find other definitions of success beyond how much money/how many followers/how much free stuff you get. The success of helping people or explaining something they didn’t know, or bringing joy to someone else’s life, were specific examples I can think of.
I have since yesterday been contacted by several individuals asking me how I work with PR people, do they tell me what to say etc etc. I will reiterate:
I have never worked with a PR company or written a post about a product in exchange for either a free product or any sort of payment or discounted product. I do not let PR companies draw my attention to products either. I wrote before about why I don’t do this and how I feel it biases the sample (of products being reviewed online) unfairly in favour of companies with the biggest promotional budget.
I hope that clears things up so we can get back to normal because I got a new bunny last night and he is awesome and I wanted to post bunny pictures today but felt I needed to clear this up first.
I would like to also assert that I do not get paid by my rabbits to talk about them.