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Sunset Boulevard at 70: we’re all Norma Desmond now | Film



On its release in August 1950, Sunset Boulevard punched its own industry in the face. Showbiz royalty, normally enclosed in an echo chamber of self-congratulation, sputtered into a rage. At a star-studded private screening on the eve of the film’s debut, MGM studio mogul Louis B Mayer lambasted the film’s Austrian-born director, Billy Wilder: “You befouled your own nest. You should be kicked out of this country, tarred and feathered, goddamn foreigner son of a bitch!” Wilder’s response: “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?”

Audiences, however, piled into cinemas. Serendipitously released in the same year as Joseph L Mankiewicz’s All About Eve – a ruthless dissection of the American theatre world – Sunset Boulevard became a landmark statement on the perils of celebrity culture. But 70 years later, at a time when visibility has been weaponised as a tool of social change, the film is no longer just an indictment of Hollywood’s vanity but of a whole cultural ethos that values “being seen”.

Every domino of the plot falls in the direction of the onlooker-ringed final spectacle. Norma Desmond has just gunned down Joe Gillis in a spasm of jealousy. Now marooned in cinematic delusions, she glides triumphantly down her grand staircase, the news press agog, and ecstatically intones: “All right, Mr DeMille. I’m ready for my closeup.” Substitute “Mr Zuckerberg” and she’d be right at home in the Instagram age.

Sunset Boulevard seems strangely tailormade to skewer our contemporary culture. In some ways, Norma is, like Judy Garland or Marilyn Monroe, a tattered but resilient icon of womanhood who fell victim to the studio system. We learn that she was infantilised by handlers and pumped full of barbiturates in her early days, then cast aside as she aged out of her nymph-like beauty. Twenty-first century Hollywood, meanwhile, continues to weather fierce blowback for putting female actors not named Meryl Streep out to pasture around the age of 40.

Sunset Boulevard also mirrors our political rifts. In a tribalised era, Norma Desmond has for both partisan factions the complexion of the enemy. For liberals, she epitomises super-rich self-delusion. Cocooned in privilege, she fancies herself a meritocratic success story. The fantasy of her self-made triumph is abetted by an information silo that she doesn’t even know she’s trapped in. Her sycophantic enabler – erstwhile director, ex-husband, and now butler, Max von Mayerling – showers her with forged fan letters, as though anticipating the echo chamber that would manifest under the banner of Fox News. “Without me there wouldn’t be any Paramount studios,” she imperiously declares, discounting the swarm of worker bees buzzing around the lot. When Gillis describes her as a has-been (“you were big”), she snaps back, “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small,” capturing the toxic mix of arrogance, nostalgia, and resentment that feeds into the Maga battle cry. President Trump telegraphed as much last February when he touted Gone with the Wind and Sunset Boulevard in a nativist harangue against the multicultural modernity that the popularity of Parasite represents.

Skewering our social media age … Norma surrounded by reporters
‘I am big. It’s the pictures that got small’ … Norma surrounded by reporters Photograph: Ronald Grant

Conversely, for conservatives, Norma is the trauma-broadcasting, victim-centred hysteric. Immune to irony and armed with snobbish entitlement, she preps for her starring role with fanatical earnestness. Oscar Wilde once observed that “all bad poetry springs from genuine feeling”, and Norma’s faith in her screenplay is, well, genuine. Meanwhile, whenever she senses Gillis’s attention waning, she sounds off about her frayed nerves, wielding guilt as a tool to gag his misgivings. It’s a prescient caricature, from the perspective of the right, of the modern-day theatrics that thrive in grievance culture. Had Gwyneth Paltrow’s brand gurus been on the job in 1950, they’d have called Norma’s extravagances “self-care”.

In fairness, though, whatever is vile in Norma is what the gaze of the crowd made of her. She’s the vampiric femme fatale feasting on the adulation of others and crowing that “no one ever leaves a star”. Yet there she is, Gillis observes, “still waving proudly to a parade which had long since passed her by”. That’s the real tragedy the film explores – not the noxious effects of ageing or wealth, but the surrender of selfhood that comes from living as a spectacle. When fans stop gawking, her loneliness forces her to invent phantasmic replacements, so that her psychic survival finally depends on her insanity.

Here’s where a chasm opens between 1950 and 2020. Sunset Boulevard indicts fame. By contrast, 21st century popular culture extols the virtue of maximised visibility. So widely shared is this belief that it passes as a banal truism: “being seen” constitutes both a form of personal therapy and a social justice imperative. “So, I want you to know that I see you,” wrote Hillary Clinton in the heat of the 2016 campaign, as though rescuing supporters from the dark fate of anonymity. Meanwhile, the largest organisations advocating for LGBTQ acceptance have made media visibility and identity representation the fulcrums of social progress.

And no doubt visibility politics does strip back prejudice. But Sunset Boulevard forces us to contemplate the cost of needing to be seen – namely, the unquenchable thirst for external validation that festers beneath a culture of exhibitionism.

A poster for Sunset Boulevard featuring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, William Holden as Joe Gillis and Betty Schaefer as Nancy Olson.
A poster for Sunset Boulevard featuring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, William Holden as Joe Gillis and Betty Schaefer as Nancy Olson. Photograph: Allstar/Paramount Pictures

The final decades of the 20th century showcased the depredations of celebrity. From the infantilied, rhinoplastied, and blanched persona of Michael Jackson to the crucified rebel-from-royalty that was Princess Diana, fame built and toppled global icons. In the aughts and teens of the new century, Lindsay Lohan scraped rock bottom but survived; Amy Winehouse didn’t.

But amid this wreckage, celebrity status didn’t fall into ill-repute; instead, it became the average person’s ambition. Social media enabled anyone and everyone to be digitally seen. Influencers proliferated. YouTube stars opened their bedrooms to the public. Clicks, likes and retweets transformed into a cryptocurrency. Lady Gaga’s mega hit Paparazzi from her debut studio album The Fame captured the zeitgeist: sure, fame shatters you, but it forges resilience and gives a platform to the abject. By bearing their wounds for all to see, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato announced that naked visibility had congealed as the basis for self-esteem and community belonging. The ideal of self-exposure went viral.

And that’s the most unnerving revelation of watching Sunset Boulevard in 2020: what ails Norma Desmond is what defines today’s popular culture. How’s that for an influencer?

Still, it’s worth remembering that the studio era’s “greatest star of them all” was the inscrutable eccentric who turned her back on the frothing fandom of the masses. With her shocking exit from the industry in 1941, Greta Garbo clawed back her privacy and never again relinquished it. In a strange way, the occult heroine of Sunset Boulevard is one who never occupies a single frame. In 1948, Wilder summoned Garbo to his home at 704 North Beverly Drive for a drink. His plan was to entice her to accept the lead part in his embryonic film. Offer he did, but her answer was no.

Wilder’s ballsy film notwithstanding, it was Garbo who, faced with the blandishments of renewed fame, delivered the most authentic “go fuck yourself”.

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Fate The Winx Saga On The Show Vs. Real Life




Another Netflix cast I’d like to be BFFs with.


Abigail Cowen as Bloom

Netflix / @abbeycowen / Via

If you’re a ride-or-die Netflix watcher, then you probably know Abigail from her role as Dorcas on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She also appeared on The Fosters as Eliza Hunter, the mini-series The Power Couple, and two episodes of Stranger Things as Vicki, one of the girls who notices when Billy first pulls up to Hawkins High School. In 2020, Abigail also appeared in the movie I Still Believe opposite KJ Apa and Britt Robertson.

You can follow Abigail on Instagram here.


Precious Mustapha as Aisha

Netflix / @preciousmustaph / Via

Precious’s role as Aisha on Fate: The Winx Saga is her first major movie or TV role, which is absolutely incredible. She’s also set to star in the TV series Code 404 in 2021 as well.

You can follow Precious on Instagram here.


Hannah van der Westhuysen as Stella

Netflix / @hannavdw / Via

Stella on Fate: The Winx Saga is one of Hannah’s first major TV roles. Previously, she appeared in the movie The Bay of Silence and the TV series The Fugitives. She’s also set to star in the biopic Lamborghini, opposite Alec Baldwin.

You can follow Hannah on Instagram here.


Eliot Salt as Terra

Netflix / @abbbeycowen / Via

Eliot had a pretty big 2020 leading into her starring role as Terra on Fate: The Winx Saga. She starred on Intelligence as Evelyn opposite David Schwimmer and Nick Mohammed, and she most notably appeared on Normal People as Joanna, one of Marianne’s friends.

You can follow Eliot on Instagram here.


Elisha Applebaum as Musa

Jonatahn Hession / Netflix / @elisha_applebaum / Via

Musa on Fate: The Winx Saga is Elisha’s first major TV or movie role. Before starring in this new Netflix sieres, she previouslly appeared in some short films and she’ll appear in the upcoming movie No Reasons.

You can follow Elisha on Instagram here.


Danny Griffin as Sky

Netflix / @danny_griffin_ / Via

Prior to starring as Sky on Fate: The Winx Saga, Danny starred on the Netflix series Get Even in 2020. He also appeared in the movie The Gentleman opposite Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, and Henry Golding, just to name a few.

You can follow Danny on Instagram here.


Freddie Thorp as Riven

Netflix / @freddiethorp / Via

Before starring as Riven on Fate: The Winx Saga, Freddie appeared on the TV series Safe and in an episode of A Discovery of Witches. He also starred in the movie Overdrive opposite Scott Eastwood and Ana de Armas.

You can follow Freddie on Instagram here.


Theo Graham as Dane

Netflix / @theofarrislee / Via

Prior to starring as Dane on Fate: The Winx Saga, Theo is probably best-known for his work as Hunter McQueen in the British soap opera Hollyoaks. He starred in 125 episodes of Hollyoaks from 2016 to 2018. Theo has also appeared in Clink, Doctors, and Brief Encounters.

You can follow Theo on Instagram here.


Sadie Soverall as Beatrix

Jonathan Hession / Netflix / @sadiesoverall / Via

Sadie’s role as Beatrix on Fate: The Winx Saga is her first ever starring role on a TV show or in a movie. Before this, she appeared in the movie Rose Plays Julie, but that’s it. Honestly, she absolutely crushed it for her first TV show.

You can follow Sadie on Instagram here.


Jacob Dudman as Sam Harvey

Jonathan Hession / Netflix / @jacobdudman / Via

Before starring as Sam on Fate: The Winx Saga, Jacob might be best-known for voicing the roles of the Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, and Twelfth Doctor as part of audio dramas for the Doctor Who TV series. He also appeared on the Netflix series Medici and The Stranger. You can also check out Jacob’s YouTube channel.

You can follow Jacob on Instagram here.


Robert James-Collier as Saul Silva

Jonathan Hession / Netflix / Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

One of the most recognizable faces in the Fate: The Winx Saga cast, Robert is best-known for his starring role as Thomas Barrow on Downton Abbey and as Liam Connor on Coronation Street. Currently, he also stars on the British drama-comedy Ackley Bridge.


Eve Best as Farah Dowling

Netflix / Dave Benett / Getty Images

Eve has starred in numerous notable TV shows, movies, and plays. On TV, she’s probably best-known for her work as Dr. Eleanor O’Hara on Nurse Jackie. She also starred on The Honourable Woman, The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells, and Lucky Man. In film, Eve starred opposite Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. And, on stage, Eve won an Olivier Award for her work in Hedda Gabler in 2005. And, she made her Broadway debut in A Moon For The Misbegotten, which earned her a Tony nomination. She also appeared on Broadway in The Homecoming and Old Times.


Eva Birthistle as Vanessa

Netflix / Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

Before appearing on Fate: The Winx Saga as Bloom’s mom, Eva has starred in numerous TV shows and movies. Currently, she stars on Netflix’s The Last Kingdom as Hild. In terms of movies, she’s starred in Ae Fond Kiss…, Brooklyn opposite Saiorse Ronan, Imagine Me & You opposite Piper Perabo and Lena Headey, and much more. Also, Eva is Irish in real life.


Alex Macqueen as Professor Harvey

Netflix / Ian Gavan / Getty Images

Alex has starred in numerous TV shows prior to Fate: The Winx Saga. He’s probably best-known for his roles on Holby City, Hut 33, Peep Show, The Inbetweeners, Hunderby, Peaky Blinders, Sally4Ever, and much more. He also appeared in the live-action Cinderella movie. Alex also voiced The Master in numerous audio dramas for Doctor Who.


Josh Cowdery as Mike

Netflix / @joshcowdery / Via

Prior to appearing as Bloom’s father on Fate: The Winx Saga, Josh appeared in several notable TV shows and movies. He appeared in The Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., and he starred in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Senator Shaw. Like Eva, Josh is actually Irish in real life too.

You can follow Josh on Instagram here.


Kate Fleetwood as Queen Luna

Jonathan Hession / Netflix / Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

Before appearing as Stella’s mother Queen Luna on Fate: The Winx Saga, Kate is probably best-known for her work on Broadway and the West End. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, a role that she performed on Broadway and on the West End. She was also nominated for an Oliver Award for her work in London Road . Outside of theater, Kate has also appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows — Part 1, Brave New World, Harlots, Victoria, and much more.


Lesley Sharp as Rosalind

Netflix / Sylvain Lefevre / Getty Images

A well-known British actor, Lesley is known for her work on Clocking Off, Bob & Rose, Scott & Bailey, Starlings, Afterlife, and much more. She was also nominated for a BAFTA Award for her work in the film The Full Monty in 1997. Outside of TV and film, Lesley has also appeared in numerous stage productions such as Harper Regan and A Taste of Honey at the Royal National Theatre.

You can follow Lesley on Instagram here.

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Legacies Hope And Landon Season 3 Premiere Kiss




“I know this is a fairy tale and all, but…”

🚨Spoilers ahead!!!🚨

After a long hiatus, Legacies finally returned last week on The CW.

The Season 3 premiere picked up with Hope stuck in a magical coma, staying asleep to avoid dealing with the reality of Landon’s death.

Eventually, Rafael persuades ghost Landon to return to his body so they can get Hope back. Landon then wakes Hope up with a “true love’s kiss” and she magically comes back to life.

I’ve gotta be honest — this plot choice left a bad taste in my mouth for several reasons. For one thing, Legacies teased a nearly identical situation with Hope and Josie in the Season 2 finale, but with a VERY different message.

The CW

It’s worth remembering that Josie was later revealed to be the pig.

Legacies set a very clear standard with the above scene: Non-consensual kisses aren’t okay, and people who are unconscious obviously cannot give consent. So, uh, why did that rule suddenly fly out the window the very next episode?


Yes, I know Landon is Hope’s boyfriend and one might be able to conclude that she would probably be okay with him kissing her, but still — it sends an iffy message. You still need consent even in an established relationship.

And look, I get the whole Sleeping Beauty reference, and I’m not suggesting anything intentionally sinister on Landon’s part. HOWEVER. TV often holds LGBTQ relationships to higher standards and this feels like a shining example of that.

The CW

If Hope needs to ask for consent to kiss Josie (as she should!), then the rules should NOT be different with Landon.

This is also part of a larger issue with the way Legacies approaches its W|W relationships. While it’s fantastic that we have multiple queer female characters, it’s a bit disappointing that we’ve really only seen one sapphic couple (Josie and Penelope, who were already broken up) so far. The show also constantly teases Hope and Josie’s mutual attraction but has yet to actually do anything with it — at this point, it’s hard for it to feel like anything but queerbaiting.

Meanwhile, most of Hope’s recent storylines involve Landon to the point where Hope barely feels like her own character anymore. That’s not to say she can’t have a love interest — of course she can! — but she’s literally supposed to be like, the most powerful being ever. She deserves to have storylines that don’t revolve around Landon, and the way the premiere chose to resolve the problem was disappointing, IMO.

The CW

Hope also felt pretty out of character in this episode too, if I’m being honest. You’re telling me all she wants to do when she wakes up is make out with Landon? Not check on any of her friends — namely Josie, who she spent an entire episode trying to save and was one of the reasons she was in the coma?

So yeah, TLDR — the Hope and Landon kiss shouldn’t have happened because it enforced an unfair double standard and it was an overall disservice to Hope’s character arc.

And I’m not the only one with strong feelings about the kiss:

and the thing is josie gave consent to hope to kiss her, hope just didn’t know that it was josie she was talking to. however hope didn’t give landon consent to kiss her because she was unconscious so before y’all come after the w|w ship you need to think about that #legacies

Twitter: @josiescraft

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WandaVision Tweets On Wanda And Vision’s Relationship




“We’re an unusual couple, you know?”

🚨 Warning: WandaVision spoilers ahead! 🚨

If you’ve been keeping up with WandaVision on Disney+, then you already know that Wanda and Vision have some seriously adorable moments as a couple.

Disney+ / Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

In fact, fans on Twitter have been swooning over the pair since the show’s premiere. So, here are some of the most wholesome — and funniest — tweets that sum up everyone’s love for Wanda and Vision:


i just read that the reason vision kisses wanda’s hands all the time is because that’s where her powers come from, and she hates her powers but he loves everything about her and now i need to go lie down


wanda looks so happy and in love while looking at vision, it breaks my heart to think that by the end of the show, she will probably lose him once again


the 70s is gonna be the peak of wanda and vision’s relationship before they have the twins 🌝 they look so adorable


i laughed so hard when vision couldn’t handle the air and wanda is just like “😁”



when I realise Wanda will have to leave her reality and Vision will be gone 💔

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