Saturday, 19 February 2011

A quick word

After the resounding success of The Morons' Manifesto (turns out all you have to do is put celeb names in your blogpost titles and people read them for literally months after they've become irrelevant), I have ANOTHER blog on the go. It's work-related, but don't let that put you off.

At my current rate, I plan to run out of ideas for this one in nine days' time. Please "interact and engage with the blog" (ask questions) to keep me going.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Sexism, on your telly, every ad break? Do me a favour, love.

Oh dear, the Andy Gray and Richard Keys sexism thing has rumbled on somewhat, hasn't it? At least now that they've lost their jobs we can all get back to normal though, eh? You know - normal society, and normal 21st century broadcasting, where sexist views just aren't acceptable any more. Because they're not, are they? And anyone caught airing their terribly outdated sexist views would be sacked on the spot, obviously, because bloody hell it's goddamn 2011 and it's JUST NOT ACCEPTABLE ANY MORE. Right? Right.

I mean, obviously this Virgin Atlantic ad isn't sexist, because it's about the eighties. It isn't about men gawping at pretty ladies who are employed to be pretty rather than do a job - it's about the eighties. And besides, it was okay to gawp and be sexist in the eighties because no one minded back then.

And this is DEFINITELY not sexist because it's just about men being pathetic malingering bastards who send their obviously exhausted and sickly wives out to get their Strepsils. Ho ho ho, isn't it funny how men get away with this sort of thing all the time?

Of all the men I've met in my lifetime (and there must have been at least ten of them, so quite a representative sample of the population), I don't think any of them would let me rest up at home for a day or two if I had a cold. It's just not the sort of thing men do - let's be honest. They really are horrible. And if THEY get a cold, well then obviously the world has to stop turning on its axis, doesn't it? Tut. No wonder there are no men in positions of power if this is the way they behave at the first sign of a sniffle. In fact, if I was the CEO of a multi-national corporation I'd probably choose not to employ any man of flu-bearing age, just in case he started taking days off or being ratty with his co-workers because of "men's problems". So anyway, the Boots advert can't be sexist because we know that every man takes advantage of the good nature of their partner at the drop of a hat, but it's also not sexist because sexism only happens to women.

But what's that you say? It is sexist towards women because they're being portrayed as doormats who'd perform any demeaning and potentially health-threatening task just to please their man and stay in a relationship? What nonsense. As if that would be allowed in this day and age.

Hang on. I just Googled "sexist adverts" and got a Daily Mail article from yesterday saying something quite similar to what I'm saying here. My point is that banning sexism is good but if you're just going to weed out a couple of idiot sports presenters you're not going far enough. I think the Mail's point is that Keys and Gray should look for new jobs in advertising.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The feminism, Assange and freedom of speech Venn diagram of doom

A question has been revolving inside my brain for the past few days. It has taken up so much brain space that I no longer have the capacity to think about what I'm getting you for Christmas - sorry. The question in question is this: "How am I supposed to believe in free speech and be a feminist too, in the light of this Assange thing?"

Ever since the US Government started hunting down whistleblower Assange on rape charges, life has been difficult for me. On the one hand, it seems like an entirely obvious plot to stop Assange in his tracks, or at least plant a seed of doubt in his supporters' minds. It's so obvious, it seems foolish to even entertain the idea that the rape allegations might be true - that's what "the man" wants us to believe, but we're not listening, ha!

But on the other hand, someone has been accused of rape. Alleged victims have gone through the pain of reporting him, and are prepared (presumably) to go through the pain of giving evidence in a court. Rape conviction rates are notoriously low and victims often find it near-impossible to make their voices heard - it seems wrong to disbelieve someone simply because their timing seems convenient.

As far as I can see, one of the many likely explanations is this: Something happened between these women and Assange that made them feel uncomfortable and upset (the story currently circulating is that the women consented to sex using a condom, but Assange did not use one or was aware that it had broken and carried on regardless). The women were not aware that this could be defined as rape or sexual assault, so they did not report it. US officials, looking for dirt on Assange, sought out his friends and ex-girlfriends, happened upon these women, informed them of their rights and encouraged them to report him, assuring them that they would be protected. The women have a right to report him if he's done something illegal - thank goodness for freedom of speech, eh?

In summary, if it weren't for Wikileaks, Assange might never have been reported, but that doesn't necessarily make the allegations untrue.

Of course, as in any case, the alleged victims could be lying. As in any case, they might not be.

I'm aware that this blog post contains exactly the sort of view Assange's detractors want to spread - by locking him up, they want to muddy the waters of Wikileaks and present it as a sinister organisation led by a dangerous man. But luckily, most right-thinking people are able to distingish between the man and the organisation he fronts. Regardless of whether he's a rapist or perfectly decent (or anything in between), the information Wikileaks has got hold of should be unaffected by this controversy - it doesn't make it less real or less damaging to the people in power. He and his organisation are still within their rights to make it public.

Anyway, I've decided that I can be a feminist and refuse to disbelieve the alleged victims unless proved otherwise, while still asserting that Wikileaks is being targeted by a nervous government intent on destroying it. The key is to remove Assange's alleged behaviour from the mix, step back and look at the big picture, see?

This doesn't mean I've decided what I'm getting you for Christmas though.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

I am woman, hear me express my opinion in a measured and reasonable way

There's been a lot of nonsense talked about feminism.

Women seem to reject the term just as easily as men do, thinking it means "man-hater" or "shouty unshaved lesbian with a megaphone", or simply "opinionated". Not very feminine - what self-respecting woman would want to get a reputation for being opinionated? Not me.

A commonly-held belief in the UK is that the feminism of the 60s and 70s has done its job, we have as much equality as we need, and there's nothing more to do. Personally, I don't think so - women are still judged on appearances far more than men are, sexism is still part of our language and the assumptions we make about people, and conviction rates for sexual assault and rape are depressingly low at around 6% - but regardless, the UK is in a far better position than many countries.

Worldwide, women are still bound by a restrictive idea of what makes them feminine, and prevented from speaking their minds, talking about their sexuality, and making their own choices. Abortion is still illegal in most cases across South America and Africa - in Chile, a woman is unable to have a legal abortion even if she's pregnant as a result of rape, or if her life is at risk. Rape is still used as a weapon of war. Across the world, the lesson is repeated and reinforced: women's bodies are not their own.

FHM (Australia) Woman of the Year 2007

The basic definition of a feminist is a person who believes in equal rights for women and men, that's all. That's EQUAL rights, not more or better rights than men - just simple equality, the same opportunities and the same level of respect. You're probably a feminist yourself.

There's no rulebook that defines who's a feminist and who isn't. I'm very proud to call myself a feminist, although (heaven forbid) I don't conform to the stereotype. Most feminists don't - I guess that's what happens with every stereotype there is. I'm also an English person, but I don't own a single bowler hat.

I don't hate men, and I don't think gender equality is to be found in judging men in the same physical terms that men judge women. I don't think men "should" wax their chests because women feel they must shave their legs - two wrongs don't make a right. I have no problem with "the c-word" (although many feminists do, and I respect that), but I do clench my fists with rage when John McCririck strides into the Big Brother house and assigns the name "Bristols" to a woman he's only just met. And I despair a little when that woman doesn't challenge him on it.

Chest waxing: not necessarily a good thing

You don't have to subscribe to any of the views I've expressed in order to be a feminist - we're all different. You don't have to put 'Sisters are Doing it for Themselves' on repeat and dance around the kitchen. Sorry - living room.


You don't have to abandon the kitchen either - baking a cake as a treat for your boyfriend doesn't make you anti-feminist, if that's what you feel like doing. You don't have to stop shaving your armpits, or start wearing dungarees. You just have to find the strength to acknowledge that treating someone as inferior because of the genitals they were born with is wrong, ditch the idea that you're "not a feminist", and get a bit angry.

Today is Women's Equality Day. Please have a bit of a shout.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Political poltroonery

Just a quick request, and some good news.

The good news: I have another new blog! This is the usual way of things with me, as you might already know - after 70-odd posts on any subject I become bored and easily distr- OHMYGOD IT'S A SPOON.


The new blog is and it will be utterly fascinating to those of you who enjoy reading about politics at a very basic level. And those of you who enjoy reading sarky quips about stupid celebrities. And those of you who'll read any old rubbish. I hope you love it, and I intend to keep it going at least until the day of the general election.

The quick request: please follow, comment (nicely), contribute etc, and send me links to anything you think will fit. It's already getting quite a few readers but no-one is joining in. *Sadface*.

And if you're familiar with my other blog - the one I did before this one, nudge nudge - please go there now to discover The Morons' Manifesto's working title. It's like I'm giving you secret extra free CONTENT or something! Like all secret extra free content, it's not really worth the effort, but this at least shows that I know how to do "marketing".

Thursday, 14 January 2010

SKINS IS BACK! *Stands up, salutes TV*

The fourth series of Skins starts on E4 on January 28th, UK readers. This is very good news. What I'm saying is that you should basically clear your diaries for every Thursday night at 10pm from the end of this month to mid-March.

What's that you say? You have no idea why this is such incredibly exciting news? You've never seen Skins before and you're not going to start now? You think I should stop ordering you about? Shut up.

If you're a non-viewer of Skins you've probably only heard of it via fairly judgmental "news" "stories" about so-called Skins parties. This is Daily Mail shorthand for young people's houseparties, which used to happen before Skins was even thought of, as far as I'm aware - I speak with the experience of a woman who's had her fair share of Lambrini at said parties.

But Skins is so much more than a drama series about stupid teenagers getting off their faces - it's the best drama that British TV has seen in the last few years. It's funny too, and clever, and harrowing. And I intend to bring this to your attention with a clever list of 'top ten Skins moments so far'.

If you intend to catch up with the first three series, be warned: MULTIPLE SPOILER ALERT. But if you don't, consider this a crib-sheet / useful catch-up tool.

My top ten Skins moments so far, in chronological order so you don't get too confused, are:

Skins generation 1, looking like they could do with a nap.

Series 1, episode 5

Tony's selfish maniplation of his friends, and particularly his girlfriend Michelle, is horrible to watch throughout the first series (I mean that in a good way). The most heartwrenching moment has got to be the way he very publicly dumps Michelle for posh bird Abigail. Skins does humiliation very well.

Series 1, episode 8

Towards the end of its first series, Skins takes a gamble by writing a whole episode based on a minor character who hasn't said a single word so far, Tony's little sister Effy. Something has to make Tony realise what an arse he's been, and this only happens when his sister is drugged and kidnapped by a posh thug. The situation is all of Tony's making, and the scene where he begs for her safety is both sickening and beyond-the-edge-of-your-seat dramatic. Poor horrible Tony.

Cheer up, love.

Series 1, episode 9

Probably the best end-of-series final scene of all time. Tony has decided he loves Michelle, he phones to tell her, and gets hit by a bus. Then, while Effy screams her little heart out and Tony lies bleeding in the road, the entire cast performs 'Wild World' by Cat Stevens. Are you still wondering why I love this show?

Series 2, episode 2

Osama The Musical. Maxxie and his stalker, Sketch, perform in the hilariously ill-advised 9/11 school musical (sing along: "then came the day, Osama blew us away..."). All Sketch wants is a lead role in the play opposite Maxxie, who is gay, so that she can kiss him and make him fall in love with her by "magic". So she makes false allegations against her drama teacher to get him sacked, then ties up her disabled mother, poisons Michelle and takes over her starring role, only to be left rejected and bereft in front of a baffled audience. We've all been there.

Series 2, episode 3

Sid's dad (Peter Capaldi) has died unexpectedly and Sid has spent the day wandering about in a silent daze. The scene where Sid tells his best friend Tony is beautiful: in a crowded club, they face each other - Sid with a look of complete bewilderment - words are said (we don't know what), they hug and Sid finally cries for the loss of his dad.

You know things are going badly when Sid has forgotten to put his hat on.

Series 2, episode 9

Chris's death. This is a series that's supposed to be for youngsters, for Christ's sake - you can't have a brilliant main character just DIE! And we thought he was getting better. Sob. The brief scene where Cassie rolls him over on the bed gave me nightmares.

Series 2, episode 10

Jal's speech at Chris's funeral. After an episode full of coffin-related comedy moments, things finally get serious and Jal, annoyed that the funeral is being conducted by people who didn't know Chris, makes a speech of her own over the vicar's burblings. It's sweet and heartfelt, and we love her for it - and so does Chris's dad, despite himself.

Generation 2, who look like they've at least had a wash.

Series 3, episode 7

Almost an entirely new cast for series 3, and in episode 7 we get to know JJ, who has a degree of autism and a list of medications as long as your arm - he just wants to be normal. His various social disadvantages are a constant worry to his mum (played brilliantly by Juliet Cowan), who tries her best. After Emily helps him to face his fears, they spend the night together, and I love the scene where the two of them come down to breakfast in the morning. The look on JJ's mum's face is at first shocked, then worried that he might not need her any more, then finally accepting and relieved.

Series 3, episode 9

At the school dance, twins Katie and Emily have a massive punch-up, Emily and Naomi finally declare their love to each other in front of the whole school, and Pandora and Thomas have a lovely "let's start again" moment, while 'It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry' by Glasvegas plays in the background, making the whole thing seem like a proper Hollywood ending on a budget.

Series 3, episode 10

Cook is undoubtedly the most interesting character in Skins series 3, and at the end of the series we get to meet his estranged deadbeat dad. Cook needs a father figure - before now he's had Freddie to look up to, but now he's putting all his faith in Daddy, played by Matt King. After he loses his dad's boat in a stupid bet, he finds himself on that boat, with his dad trying to escape and refusing to take Cook with him. This is the first and only time we see the formerly invincible Cook desperate and crying, heartbroken with the boat's key in his hand, begging his father not to abandon him again while that same man threatens and insults him. The dialogue and acting in this scene are absolutely 100% perfect.

If you're in the UK and don't mind a bit of violence and "language", you can watch every episode of Skins for free by clicking this link to the 4OD service. And I hear series 4 is going to be even better. SET THE VIDEO, PEOPLE - it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Gentlemen, let's close up for Christmas

Well OBVIOUSLY I was always going to save this one for Christmas Eve. The best (and most appropriate) song from the best Christmas movie ever. Enjoy.

I hope you all have a fun and happy day tomorrow, and Santa brings you everything you've asked for. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Blue Peter Christmas "Special"

Is it me, or is this the weirdest bit of Christmas telly ever seen?

Unfortunately all of the cast and crew involved in making this died of embarrassment as soon as the cameras were switched off.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Big yellow digger

As an X Factor fan, you might think I'd be bitter about the Christmas number one debacle this year, but I am not. Let Rage have their day - it means nothing. NOTHING.

Why so cynical? Well, since you ask, my faith in the Christmas charts was first shaken back in the 1990s when the following CLASSIC TUNE was outsold by Mr Blobby.

But it wasn't until 2005 that I really gave up on the British public's ability to choose a decent festive hit. That was the year that Nizlopi released the JCB Song, below, which was surprisingly successful but not quite successful enough. It's not really about Christmas (neither is Babe, to be fair), but it's beautiful and simple, Optimus Prime is in the video and I love it. It was beaten to number one by Shayne Ward. Tut.

Monday, 21 December 2009

It's sentimental, I know

So, Killing in the Name is number one in the Christmas charts, and we all thought it was just a race between that and poor little geordie Joe's tune about climbing. It's only now that I've discovered a song that was also released in time for the Christmas charts, and is more deserving of the number one slot than both of them put together.

I'm not normally a fan of Tim Minchin, but White Wine in the Sun is everything I've ever wanted from a Christmas song. It's funny, it's beautiful, it's melodic, it's emotional and it name-checks Richard Dawkins. Perfect.

It's still available on iTunes, and half the profits are going straight to autism research. Now, isn't that a bit more Christmassy than all the Rage Against shouting and swearing? (Yes).

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Over-use of "lovely" alert

Terribly sorry if yesterday's post gave you nightmares. Let's try a couple of lovely heartwarming scenes instead - firstly, the ice dance from my third-favourite Christmas film ever, Edward Scissorhands.

And secondly, a lovely touching moment from my second-favourite Christmas film ever, Gremlins. (Unfortunately I can't embed the YouTubery on this one, so you'll have to click here).

There, that's better. Lovely.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

"When a star falls, a heart stops beating", fa la la la la, la la la laaaaa

As the blizzards ravage a festive Plymouth (well, some snow came down a while ago), I am reminded of the story of the Little Match Girl. I used to think that Christmas was all about happiness, family and presents - I was wrong. According to the story of the Little Match Girl, the Christmas season is about a small homeless girl trying to keep warm on the streets, until eventually she becomes so cold that she starts hallucinating and then... well, I'm not really sure what happens - I can never hear it for all the choking and wailing.

The harrowing tale is read here by Kylie Minogue. Yes, Kylie Minogue.

And if you're wondering whether Disney ever made a more child-friendly version, perhaps involving a talking match and a happy ending, your answer is a very firm NOT ON YOUR NELLY.

There, that got you in the Christmas mood, didn't it? DIDN'T IT?!?!! *Throws mince pie at wall*

Friday, 18 December 2009

Ten... pygmies farming

You know how I said yesterday that people sing 'five gold rings' with the kind of gusto normally reserved for Sonia's lines in 'Do they know it's Christmas?' (no need to check yesterday's post - that's exactly what I said, give or take).

Well, for my second daily Thing of Christmas, I hereby present Eddie Izzard singing at you.

Here's hoping I can link all of these posts together in the same seamless and professional way.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The clanging chimes of doom

Would you like a small portion of Christmas loveliness every day between now and Christmas Eve? Would you? Of course you would. Here goes...

First up, the 1989 version of 'Do they know it's Christmas?' - the Stock, Aitken and Waterman one. I love this because it's so frighteningly inappropriate. And because it's got Kylie in it.

My top five things about this version are:

5. Jimmy Somerville bopping his way through his first line.

4. The footage of starving Africans intercut with grinning popstars. If there was ever a perfect excuse to use the word 'juxtaposition', this was it.

3. Michael Buerk's Jedward-style spoken interlude. They missed a trick here: he should have rapped it.

2. A member of Bros (name unknown) delivering the famous Bono line "well tonight thank God it's them instead of yoo-oo-ouu, na na... yeah."

1. Lovely beaming ginger scouse pop personality, Sonia, belting out her lines with the kind of gusto normally reserved for "five gold rings". I can imagine the conversation Sonia had with Pete Waterman before recording this song.

Pete: "Would you like to be involved with a cover of the famous Band Aid classic from a few years ago, love?"

Sonia (beaming): "What's that then?"

Pete: "You know - Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Sonia (beaming): "You what, like?"

Pete: "Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote it. It's about famine."

Sonia (beaming): "It sounds a bit serious. What words do I have to sing?"

Pete: "You have to sing 'The greatest gift they'll get this year is life.'"

Sonia (beaming): "Aw, that's nice - it's about presents! I'll do it!"

Sunday, 6 December 2009

An appeal on behalf of Olly Murs

There was no point in writing about last week's X Factor because (a) I've said it all before, and (b) the most interesting thing that happened was Rihanna appearing on a pre-watershed ITV1 programme to sing about shooting herself in the head. We all know how I feel about that song, so I'm going to leave well alone.

Unfortunately, this week there really is something that needs saying, and it's not good. I have a terrible feeling that this will be the week we say goodbye to the lovely Olly Murs.

I'm choking up just writing about it.

I don't know what's made me fear tonight's results show in the same way Jamie Archer fears a trip to the hairdresser. Perhaps it's because Olly was the first to perform this week and, sadly, the others will be more fresh in viewers' minds when they vote.

Perhaps it's because, for the first time ever, even I rated a Danyl performance as "acceptable" (Man In The Mirror, not the other one).

Perhaps it's because everyone on the Xtra Factor seems to think he's on his way home.

Or perhaps it's because he's a retro performer on a show where We Can Work It Out is considered "not a very well-known song" (cheers Louis).

I realise you might be a fan of one of the other ones (you know... Joe, whatsisface, and whatserface), but I beg you, if you have a telephone and a finger, please vote for Olly tonight. And here's why:

Oh bloody hell, I'm going to be watching all that when they show his "best bits", aren't I? Argh.

Please don't allow this to happen. The number is 0901 61 61 101, and it's 35p from a BT line.