Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Thanks, 'Massah'

MWW bring us news of the latest pronouncements of 'Massah' John Beyer, the head of MediaWatch, Britain's main media watchdog, and fan of 'The Black And White Minstrel Show.' Beyer weighed in on the news that Kimberley Davies has threatened to sue the producers of 'I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here' after she cracked a rib parachuting from a helicopter. Beyer said:

'It is irresponsible of ITV to expect celebs to jump out of helicopters — it is really going too far. The whole thing is calculated to win ratings, but ITV should be banned from pulling stunts like this.'

I don't know whether Beyer actually watched the episode in question, but in relentless pursuit to mine the bottom of the TV barrel, I did, and actually nobody was forced to jump out of the helicopter. One of the contestants, I can't remember which one, was very unwilling to do so, and could have gone back and just not joined the programme if she really couldn't have faced it. I can't see the point of what either Beyer or Davies are saying, to be honest. They did it of their own volition.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go, because 'Rome' tonight allegedly contains naked female gladiators wrestling. I look forward immensely to the inevitable statement about the end of decency and morality from Beyer tomorrow.

You wouldn't catch me parachuting for all the whores in Soho.

Monday, November 28, 2005


PC Off, Whoopi

One of the most obvious reasons to object to censorship is that it is historical revisionism. Many people have accused 'Othello', for example, of being, to a greater or lesser extent, a racist play. Personally, I think that's tosh, but more than that, it's irrelevant. If a playwright or author of the past didn't like a certain group of people - in a rather topical example, Christopher Marlowe, for instance, didn't much like the Turkish - that may be regrettable, but it is still a piece of historical fact. I don't want to comment on the Marlowe issue, because the whole story seems to contain a certain amount of fibbing, but there is one extremely pertinent example that has recently cropped up.

It concerns the recent DVD box set release of Tom & Jerry - Spotlight Collection, Volume 2, by Warner Bros. As most people know, certain of the Tom & Jerry cartoons, which are, bear in mind, sixty years old, contain the character of Mammy, a large black lady who is Tom's owner. For certain people, this character is a rather prejudiced stereotype, and as such she suffered censorship of her own in the first release of these box sets (volume 1), where her voice was replaced, and I believe a couple of scenes were edited.

This, rightly, got fans of the series, which in my opinion isn't racist at all, in a bit of a fury, and so for this release, Warner Bros. have backed down on the editing, and the cartoons are available as they were first intended.

So let's get the champagne out, then? Well, not so fast. As has been reported in the press, this release, alongside at least one other, 'Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume Three', contain a preposterous, unskippable introduction by Whoopi Goldberg. In this introduction, she tells the audience that they shouldn't laugh at some of the material, because:

''Unfortunately at that time racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in ways that may have embarrassed and even hurt people of color, women and ethnic groups. These jokes were wrong then and they're wrong today''

This makes me so angry. First off, I hardly see why Goldberg is qualified to comment on political correctness after her own embarssing (and embarassingly bad) joke during the last election, which she subsequently had to apologise for.

Secondly, as is pointed out by Steyn in the link, these cartoons may not have had many specifically positive portrayals of black people, but then they don't have many positive portrayals of any people. The positive potrayals are of mice, ducks and birds.

Thirdly, and far more importantly, the only effect of these stupid intros are to infantilise the audience. Quite apart from the questionnable idea that it is any of Whoopi Goldberg's damn business what I fund funny, people are intelligent enough to know whether Tom & Jerry are immoral, and they show this intelligence by ridiculing the idea, and continuing to buy the cartoons, because they enjoy the comedy. If I wanted a sociology lecture, I'd sign up for a course.

These are cartoons, for fucks sake. They are not political essays. The characters who are controversial are barely in them, are not played by real people, contain little or no real degradation, physically, mentally or emotionally, and the humour is most often found elsewhere.

Warner Bros. seem to believe that they have a choice of either censorship or moralising, when in fact by far the best option would be neither.

As we all know, only racist, fascist bigots like quality cartoons.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Bothersome Booing

George Best, then. How to view him? Should we view him as a footballing genius, or as a 'drinker with a footballing problem?' Well, I don't know. What I do know is that the absurd minutes silence policy met with an unfortunate, but highly predictable, result today.

I simply cannot fathom the point of these enforced one minute silences before every game. Man Utd are doing it twice - that's reasonable, he played for them for his best years. However, what is particularly loony is that these were held all over the country. What relevance does the death of Best have to the game between Rochdale and Shrewsbury? Or the game at Canvey Island?

Unsurprisingly, Liverpool and Leeds fans booed during the minutes' silence. This is sad and regrettable, but the fact is that it was totally predictable. I don't know why silences were held at games involving these teams because of that. It may be sad, but it's human nature that the die-hard fans and hooligans are going to not care overmuch about a player who most famously played for their bitter rivals.

The referees at these two games cut the silence short to 20 seconds, folowing FA instructions. Somehow, it seems to me, that only compounds the disrespect.

Ultimately, football is about competition, and while at times like this, when a really good player dies, such partisanship can become rather hateful, it is also a more pure form of this that keeps the game alive. I'm all in favour of silences and respect - but just at the teams the player played for, that's all.

A minutes' silence at Sunderland, before their game against Birmingham. Really, why?

Friday, November 25, 2005


Weather Reports From Hell Say The Conditions Are Icy

Okay, so I've just seen 'Mrs Henderson Presents.' It was pretty good. I'm not going to write a review now, but if anyone wants one just say so. What I do want to say is this:

{deep breath}

The BBFC have given this film a too-low rating.

Wow. I was sure my head was going to explode when I wrote that, but it hasn't. It's been given a 12A certificate in Britain, effectively meaning that kids over the age of eight can see it. By contrast, it has an 'R' rating in the USA. Why? Well, it is full of nudity. None of it is particularly sexual, but here's the thing - some of it is. I'm sorry, but it really should be rated 15. The content is approximately on a par with 'Pret-a-Porter' in terms of what is seen. It's ok, you can call me a prude if you want. I'm a vile censor. Gah! I can't stand myself.

If you need me, I'll be cowering in shame in the corner.

Monday, November 21, 2005


The Galacticos Come Crashing To Earth

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Real Madrid's humbling 3-0 defeat at home to Barcelona on Saturday night (temporary link). I wanted to write about it in the true European spirit, by discussing it in Spanish, but since I realised I know only five words in Spanish (por favor, gracias, ola, recto), I have written a concise match report in cod French instead.

Les defendres de Real Madrid, par le exception possible de Michel Salgado, est tres merde.

That probably doesn't make much sense, but who cares? I'm quite proud of it. I hope these subhumans are particularly miserable.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Kudos To Kelly, Bollocks To Britain (Little)

I was awoken by my alarm-clock this morning, and it was the start of the 'Sportsweek' programme that Eamonn Holmes does. He doesn't do it alone, however, he has at least one co-presenter, a woman named Beverly (spelling?), who I have taken an immense dislike to.

What happened was this. When introducing the themes of the programme, and the subjects for the listeners to ring and text about, she said something along the lines of:

'Did you see Children In Need? What's the point of Kelly Osbourne? She's just had her parents by her a £1 million flat, threw a £100,000 party on her first night there, and she gave just £10,000 of her own money to Children In Need. I mean, seriously, what is the point of Kelly Osbourne?'

Where to start with this? It's so unutterably fatuous that I nearly choked when I heard it, and I've been getting angrier and angrier thinking about it as they day has gone on. Before I start, I should probably say that I didn't watch Children In Need, mostly because the prospect of being sat in front of a ninth-grade variety show that would be put to shame by a moderately well-organised local AmDram group was about as appealing as meeting Ainsley Harriot on a dark night on Clapham Common.

First of all, why does the value of her accommodation matter? Charity is just that, charity, it's not a tithe, and I don't see why anyone should have to pay anything. I didn't - so she paid £10,000 more than me, for just one. Further, I don't understand her rationale. The average house price, across the UK, is just under £200,000. By Beverly's rationale, then, in order to contribute a reasonable amount, the average householder should give considerably over two thousand pounds to Children In Need every year. Bollocks to that.

What's all this about her party, too? Who cares? If I had £100,001 pounds I'd fancy spendy a hundred monkey on a big bash. Why should I hold that against her? So she'd rather spend her cash on a good time than on charity - show me anyone, anyone at all, particularly hypocritical Beeb journalists, who would rather drop all their spare change in the collecting tin than enjoy themselves with it, and I'll show you someone who's either mentally sick or a compulsive liar.

Also worth considering is the amount she gave. £10,000 is a vast amount of money. If they can't do anything with that, then I don't see the point in giving them anything anyway. That was probably one of the single largest donations all night. If I were Kelly Osbourne, I would demand two grand of it back after a foul comment like that, and two grand more after every subsequent snarky snit that smug barely half-presenters indulge in, because if the Children In Need charity is so rich that it can afford to allow BBC presenters to piss all over a huge and generous donation like that, then frankly I think it's time people gave their money to a charity more deserving of it. Pathetic.

I've got a good idea - to teach them a lesson, instead of giving money to Children In Need, give it to Kelly Osbourne instead.


Also upset with Children In Need, and also 'Little Britain', was my favourite curmudgeon of the moment, Mick Hume.

On Five Live's 'Fighting Talk' programme this morning, boxing pundit John Rawling accused 'Little Britain' of being 'offensive.' He's right to dislike it, but for the wrong reason. I couldn't care less whether or not it's offensive, the problem is it's not funny at all. I was talking to a friend of mine about this the other day, and I discovered he had the exact same experience as me - he watched the first programme, found it really funny, then tuned in again the next week and thought it was a repeat. All sketch shows where the characters have catchphrases repeat themselves, but only 'Little Britain' does so word for word.

Hume states:

'But Walliams topped that line with an explanation of the show’s focus on transvestites, gays and alternative lifestyles that could have come from the little book of Tessa Jowell: “We don’t stereotype,” he said. “We celebrate difference.”'

Must there be a political rationale for a sketch show? 'Little Britain' seems to me to be a very unfortunately political idea - every other day, a newspaper columnist or a government minister is agonising over 'what it means to be British.' 'Little Britain' seems to suggest that there's nothing more to Britain than jokes about fat women, grandmas, chavettes and incontinent people. How very witty.

One comment I remeber very well from the defunct 'Shot By Both Sides' blog was a commenter who stated that:

'Probably what it means to be British is not to be wondering what it means to be British all the time.'

That's exactly right, and it's why 'Little Britain' is so desperately unfunny. Something else, please.

I'm sorry, but it's rubbish.

Oh, and before I go, regarding my first moan again - Hume points out that:

'Meanwhile, listeners to the Today programme on Radio 4 could be forgiven for thinking that the big news of the week concerned egg-cups, given the endless plugs for breakfast egg holders featuring the smashing faces of Today presenters (only £12.50 each, with “at least £2” going to the charity. You can now officially get away with anything in a Good Cause.'

Perhaps Beverly might want to talk to her own collegaues about their clear miserliness in keeping almost all the money from this shitty paraphernalia before she starts bashing people who've actually done some good. Just a thought.


The Grim Freeper

I have always enjoyed reading Samizdata, mostly because I agree with it ninety per cent of the time, but the comments to this post are just frightening. The post is about Iraq, and careful readers of this blog will have noticed I don't discuss that subject, and furthermore I don't intend to start now, but I do have a big problem with these comments.

They start with a Freeper, who is claiming that several Democratic senators are 'traitors' (pull the other one), who is, fascinatingly, interested in researching the Knights Templar, according to his biog. He might want to try 'Tombs Of The Blind Dead' (banned in Sweden!) for a really riveting good watch, particularly after its Yankland release by Blue Underground in 'The Blind Dead Collection', which looks like a super deal for my American readers to consider.

I'm getting off the point. Anyway, they carry on in much the same vein, until it starts to degenerate further into several of the commenters fondly reminiscing about Vietnam. At this point, my jaw was on the floor. Contributor, and excellent sports pundit, Scott Wickstein then injects a bit of sense into the debate, only to be shouted down by what appears to a group of Republicans so far to the right that one of them actually uses the word 'Oilrabians.' What are these people doing on a libertarian blog? Quite apart from the fact that, whatever you may believe about Iraq, it's clearly costing a bit, and libertarians should object to almost all government spending on principle, these are party (political, not fun) people who clearly trust the government implicitly as long as it's their side in power.

Dear oh dear, what is the world coming to?

The Blind Dead Collection from Blue Underground - blind, dead, horseriding, zombie-ish Knights Templar attack - very, very, very slowly indeed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Then The Mighty Spake, And What He Spake Was Wisdom, And That Wisdom Was Thus:

If you really can't believe it's not butter, you're a fucking idiot.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I Bet The Folks Of Haiti Wouldn't Recognise It

One of the aspects of life in Manchester that's rather different from my rather dull home town is the nightlife, which is obviously good news. Somewhat less good, however, is the vast number of flyers that get shoved into your hands at all hours of the day and night.

On Friday, I got a particularly stupid one, advertising 'Papa Midnight's Voodoo Disco' at the Baby Grand. Here is just some of what it says;


First off, what would a voodoo disco actually involve? Singing hymns in French before asking for cures from ancestral spirits? Presumably this isn't exactly what happens, although actually I'd go along for a try if it was. Also, what is a 'style punk fiend?' Wouldn't a fiend actually cause problems, and have to be thrown out by a bouncer?

Amongst the list of music genres played, it announces, amongst others, 'CHAMPAGNE ELECTRO DISCO', about which I also have no idea. However, a glance at the artists they list as examples of their playlist - 'MISSY, DRE, SNOOP, GWEN STEFANI' - promptly reveals it to be chart R&B. To be fair, the genre list does also say R&B, but why make stuff up if you're not going to bother with it?

However, it's the fashion section that's the best.


I really want to know what a renegade Russian princess looks like.

That's the Russian princess in 'Bulletproof Monk.' Is that the look? I think it must be, because Jaime King is certainly pretending to be 'renegade' in that film. Ladies - would you consider going out dressed like this?

As always happens, a long list of fashion 'don'ts' is provided, such as;


Can denim be shiny?

This is a 'shiny denim' jacket worn by Lenny Kravitz. I suppose I see what they mean.

Why can't the people who write these flyers just write in simple plain English? Here, let me have a go:

'Papa Midnight's Disco at the Baby Grand, Friday Night. Quality Chart R&B All Night. Free Before 11! Don't Wear Tracksuits Or Denim Jackets.'

There. That wasn't too hard, was it?

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Sweet Jesus, Graeme, What The Hell Are You Wittering About?

I've sort of done all this before, when I wrote this post about which in-game summarisers on British TV are the best, but today's game has forced me to return to the issue.

Anyone who listens to football at all on the radio already knows that Graeme Le Saux has become the de facto in-studio summariser during Sunday's 'Sport On Five' - when an in-studio summariser can be used because essentially he gets paid to sit there watching the game on Sky, which can't be done on Saturday thanks to the 3pm footie embargo - and he has now started to creep into in-game summarising, replacing Mark Lawrenson today as the caller in an England game. Blimey. He must know his stuff then, mustn't he?

Well, maybe. He knows a thing or two, or seems to, but he has got to - and I mean got to - get out of the habit of stating the absolutely bleeding obvious. This is known in football as 'Pleat's disease', after former Tottenham manager and erstwhile Five Live summariser David Pleat, who had a habit of making statements of the order of 'the second half is starting, there's forty-five minutes left', in the apparent belief that the listener needed these things explaining.

Le Saux also needs to learn to sop speaking Footiespeak, that horrible language that only occurs in football punditry - 'he'll stand up and be counted', 'the crowd was like a twelth man today', 'he's stand by you in the trenches', and 'all I want to do is play football' being examples of the genre.

Today, he uttered one of the all-time terrible footiespeak lines. Towards the end, while Argentina were still leading 2-1, but not long before England equalised, he stated;

'This has been a competetive game, in every meaning of the word.'

What? How many meanings of the word are there? Well, don't tell me, I can look it up, and it turns out there are three meanings to the word 'competetive', and two of them don't make sense in the context.

This blunder caused me and my mate to play a rather amusing game. Whenever Le Saux stated anything we would add 'in every meaning of the word' to the end of it, with what I regard as mildly amusing results:

'Crouch has been dispossessed' - in every meaning of the word.
'Argentina are deflated' - in every meaning of the word.

And so on. Other people may not regard this as a high watermark in the history of humour, but I'm afraid they're wrong.

Graeme, you could be a good summariser one day, but you need to learn that footiespeak bites - in every sense of the word.


I'd Like To Throw My Two Cent At Fifty Cent

I think it's already been established that former drug dealer and now notorious rapper Fifty 'Fiddy' Cent isn't everyone's cup of tea, and he certainly isn't mine either.

However, like all suckers, he has eventually been given an even break, and has his own film, called 'Get Rich Or Die Tryin'.' I particularly love 'tryin' as if it would really have hurt them to have spelt a simple word properly.

This film has caused plenty of controversy, firstly by having had many billboards advertising it removed, following complaints from various community groups who protested that the image of Fiddy with arms outstetched, a mike in one hand and a gun in the other were 'inappropriate.'

Unfortunately, it appears that the poster art is the best part of the film, given the slatings it has received at the IMDb, most of which appear to conclude that the film is little more than a vanity project (surprise, surprise) for the one-time felon. One exception, however, announces the film - hilariously - as 'easily the film of 2005.' It must be great to be so easily pleased.

Unfortunately, yet another bullet has hit the dying corpse of the film with the news that a man has been shot after a screening. Wait - no he wasn't, the victim, Sheldon Flowers had just seen the film, but 'it is not known what film the three men [the killers] had seen.' So it was hardly the fault of the film, was it? It's not like Mr Flowers was the one who got so much testosterone flowing through him he started busting clips.

Apparently, the cinema where it occured has faced so much media pressure to stop the film that they've temporarily withdrawn it. It looks to me like everyone wants Fiddy to fail, so much so that they've created a complete non-news story. Would they have pressed so much for withdrawal if someone had been shot after a screening of 'Shrek'?

Honest opinions folks - which is the more ogre-ish?

Friday, November 11, 2005


BBC In Bias Shock!

Allegations of bias at the Beeb are regularly flung around by people on both sides of the political spectrum, but frankly I've never had much time for those opinions.

Today, however, I was forced to re-think. You see, I've uncovered a shocking bias - against men with ponytails. The article is stuffed full of criticism of the hair of David Seaman, variously described as 'tragic' and 'infamous', and also of a 'furry caterpillar' on his lip. How much longer can we stand for such discrimination?

After much media criticism about his locks, Seaman felt unable to show his face in public (picture courtesy of World Cup Japan/Korea)

So, readers, your opinions please - is bias against the lengthy haired male acceptable, approvable, or a shocking outrage?

Thursday, November 10, 2005


On Those Who Are Quite Spectacularly Missing The Point

There's been no shortage of people jumping in to criticise Tony today, but almost all of them have completely missed the point.

For those who don't know, our own Dear Leader lost a vote in Parliament for the first time yesterday, as he tried to introdoce a law that would allow the Police to hold terror suspects for 90 days without charging them. He got Gordon Brown to fly back from some big policy meeting in Israel, and pulled out all the stops in trying to squeeze it through, but to no avail.

Predictably, everyone from the leader of the Conservatives to the Guardian have been announcing it vigorously as a victory for civil liberties. They're wrong.

Firstly, let me state that Blair's proposed law was a terrible law, a grotesque infringement on civil liverties, and was not only not fit for Britain, but in fact wasn't fit for any civilised society anywhere. However, many of those who voted against it proceeded, just a few short hours later, to agree to an amendment extending (in fact doubling) the allowed period of detention without charge to 28 days. To my mind, this is just the same. It strikes me as entirely unlikely that the Police would find anything extra in the time allowed, and if they were halfway competent, an entire month ought to be enough to find out about any possible terrorist threat.

The main point here is that an ancient right, one our ancestors fought long and hard for, has been slowly eroded over the last few years, worn down to the point where now, the more reactionary elements of Fleet Street (you know exactly who I'm talking about) can seriously brand the leader of the opposition a 'traitor' for not voting for a law allowing people to be imprisoned for potentially no good reason whatsoever for the grand total of three months.

'Habeus Corpus' is one of the great rights. Most frequently on this blog, I argue in favour of the right to free speech, and the right to free expression, but the right to a trial in front of a jury of our peers is just as important. Blair supporters could retort that in the 90-day law, the Police had to go to the courts to get continued permission for detention every seven days. However, this means nothing. If the courts have said 'yes' to a potential threat once, why would they say 'no' the next time? What judge wants to be the judge who releases the terror suspect who then commits the crime?

Not that any such crime is particularly likely to be committed. To put this in perspective, remember that the government also want to remove as many motoring offences and suchlike from the courts as possible, due to overcrowding. Yet you are many many thousands of times more likely to be hit by a driver without a licence or insurance than you are to die in a terrorist attack. Why clog the courts up with absurd applications for continued custody when it's almost certain not to make any difference.

I feel a little over-gushing in praising Brendan O'Neill yet again, but he put it perfectly in this piece:

'Neither Blair nor his opponents seem to feel much attachment to fundamental legal principles, so yesterday they were free merely to debate what is practical and reasonable in the fight against terrorism.'

Contrary to what you might think, I would actually have been glad if fundamental legal principles were at stake yesterday. It would have at least shown that someone in Parliament cared about them at all. Instead, we saw two tribes arguing about just how little respect should be shown to Habeus Corpus, and for all his crowing on the Channel Four News last night, Michael Howard, having voted for the 28 day measure, is just as bad. Apparently, The Sun suggested that maybe 900 days would be more appropriate. Well, why not? Come to it, why not nine years, or the rest of the suspects' life? As O'Neill says, 'we either have that fundamental freedom, or we do not.' It makes the grand total of bugger-all difference.

I could keep going on about the number of people arrested under the Terrorism Act, most of whom were arrested for doing nothing at all related to it, like heckling at a party conference, for example, or about how this is just yet another plank in this government's disregard for the rights of any of it's citizens, a government, incidentally, who started their tenure with the confirming into law of the Human Rights Act, but I can't be bothered. If you want me, try the police station cells first, but just don't expect me in a hurry.

Terrorists like this can expect a month at Her Majesty's Pleasure.


Two posts at Samizdata today are worth looking at. The first contains yet more bad news for the British legal system. The 'double jeopardy' rule that stated someone could not be tried for the same crime twice was overturned at the start of the year, and today Reuters announced the first person to fall foul of the rule - Billy Dunlop was previously acquitted of murdering pizza delivery girl Julia Hogg in 1989. He will stand trial for it again. It may turn out he did, indeed, commit the crime. However, I would still argue it wasn't worth it, for precisely the reasons Johnathan Pearce gives:

'But - the double jeopardy rule existed for a reason. If people can be repeatedly tried for the same crime, it creates a potential very bad and unintended consequence: police and the Crown Prosecution Service will become lazy in the preparation of cases. Why bother to get a case presented as powerfully as possible and with as much care if you think that if X gets acquitted, one can always have another go, and another, and another....?

The potential for abuse of power from double jeopardy is at the core of why the rule exists.'

I completely agree.

The other story is one where I'm not going to agree. The story is this, which states that the Government's new law outlawing discrimination in businesses with single-sex admission on the grounds of sexual orientation could end the gay scene in many towns and cities around Britain.

The writer says nothing that wrong, but he exaggerates the scale of the impact of this law. It won't end the gay scene, particularly as regards nightlife, for the reasons that commenter 'matt' states:

'I can only speak from my experiance of the gay clubs in birmingham, but in general the 'chav' lad element will advoid gay clubs like the plauge. Girls or no girls. Every gay club ive ever been in has never asked my sexuality on the door, how the hell could they prove it one way or another!! Im straight but have to say the atmosphere in gay clubs with my friends (who are gay) has always been a lot better than most other establishments. This law, like so many others will simply be ignored, both by the establishment and the people its supposed to benifit.'

Matt, despite his poor spelling, has completely got to grips with the matter (pardon the pun) in hand. The real scandal here is not whether or not such a law is an affront to civil liberties, but in fact why the government are bothering with such an irrelevant law in the first place. Gay clubs will continue to admit precisely who they like, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it, short of forcing policemen to stand at club entrances checking the bouncers don't break the law. Since that's never going to happen, we can assume that the world will carry on turning as usual, and instead we should ask why the government wastes our taxpayers money in preparing such stupid legislation.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


There'll Be No Riot Here

I came across a fascinating article the other day, which has been written about here, but, without paying to access the archives of The Spectator, you can't read it. Aren't you fortunate you have me?

The article, by Brendan O'Neill, concerns the absolutely dreadful blandness and, worse still, Blairism of the 'indie' bands in the charts at the moment. He has a whine about quite a few groups, including Keane:

'There is Keane, three men and a piano, who — get this — are named after the housemistress at Tonbridge school, where they were all educated (to the tune of £22,100 a year). The email gossip-sheet Popbitch — occasionally reliable, sometimes slanderous — has a section that describes the antics of the rich and famous as spotted by members of the public. You know the kind of thing: model heard snorting in a toilet; pop star spied snogging his male roadie, etc. It recently had this to say about Keane’s lead singer Tom Chaplin: ‘On the train going to his parents’ house last weekend, drinking Ribena, and doing the Daily Telegraph Book of Sudoku.’ Keane do not drink or — heaven forbid — do drugs. ‘Why should we get falling-down drunk all the time just to fit in? Drugs have never been our thing. I’m sure fear plays a part,’ Chaplin said in an interview last year.'

Franz Ferdinand:

'The Scottish band Franz Ferdinand do not have sexual relations with their fans because they consider it a ‘form of abuse’ (tell that to Mick Jagger). They have clearly internalised officialdom’s warning that personal relationships — especially sexual ones — are potentially harmful and that we all have to be ultra-careful. Alex Kapranos, the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand, even writes a weekly column for the Guardian. On food. Can you get more mind-numbingly middle-of-the-road than that?'

and James Blunt (who is, I might interject, boredom personified):

'He fought in Kosovo, that most Blairite of wars. (I say ‘fought’. He actually, in his own words, strolled through Serb villages singing ‘All we are saying is give peace a chance’. As if the Serbs didn’t have enough troubles.) Blunt says he is now a pacifist. Every time I see his smug mug I feel like committing an act of violence.'

I agree with all of this, not least because it is a subject that particularly pisses me off. The absolutely disgusting toadying of most modern musicians to anyone in any sort of authority suggests that anyone hoping for music to be a subservise artform are going to have to dig out the Tibetan nose-flute, and join the Hare Krishna's, because they won't get any controversy in the charts. No, sir-ee.

O'Neill, however, has a particular go at The Kaiser Chiefs, who I presume are named after the South African football team, though if they are, it's worth noting that they can't spell 'Kaizer.' The song he points out, and which I especially wish to moan about, is 'I Predict A Riot:'

'Watching the people get lairy
Is not very pretty I tell thee
Walking through town is quite scary
And not very sensible either
A friend of a friend he got beaten
He looked the wrong way at a policeman
Would never have happened to Smeaton
And old Leodiensian
La-ah-ah, la la lalala la
Ah-ah-ah, la la lalala la

I predict a riot, I predict a riot
I predict a riot, I predict a riot

I tried to get in my taxi
A man in a tracksuit attacked me
He said that he saw it before me
Wants to get things a bit gory
Girls run around with no clothes on
To borrow a pound for a condom
If it wasn't for chip fat, well they'd be frozen
They're not very sensible

La-ah-ah, la la lalala la
Ah-ah-ah, la la lalala la

I predict a riot, I predict a riot
I predict a riot, I predict a riot.'

Ok. First line - 'the people.' Who are the people? Why not just people? 'The People' is a term the Queen might use when sniffing at her subjects. She, however, is entitled to. Rather average middle-class white men shouldn't, because they are as much 'the people' as the folks vomiting on their shoes. Which brings me on to 'lairy.' Nobody has used this word since Guy Ritchie was cool, and with good reason.

'I tell thee.' You ponce.

'Walking through town is quite scary.' Did I slip, fall, and crack my head? I must have done, because I appear to have missed the time when it became cool to admit being too frightened to walk through an average town centre after dark. Would you consider doing it if Mummykins came with you? Is it so frightening? How pathetic. 'And not very sensible either.' Why isn't it? It's very sensible if you have to get to the other side. Oh, yeah, and why the hell should a rock band care about what's sensible and what isn't? Since when did worrying what's sensible become a part of the rockstar's remit?

'A friend of a friend he got beaten, He looked the wrong way at a policeman.' For a minute, this is a bit better. The oppressive pig shows his true colours! We could get the kids up in arms about this. Or we could, if we didn't have cheerleaders who appear to auditioning for the Mouseketeers. Of course, there's no policeman. He's a fiction - a device trying to convince the listener that there is more to these assinine, banal lyrics than the Blairite platitudes they sound like, but I won't be fooled, and neither should you.

'I tried to get in my taxi, A man in a tracksuit attacked me, He said that he saw it before me, Wants to get things a bit gory.' Where to start with this lot? First off, insulting chavs is always the occupation of the professionally middle class, anyone who hates smoking and drinking and seeing people have a good time. Second of all, does anyone actually wear a tracksuit to go out drinking in? I have to say, no chav that I know has ever been seen out without a brand-name shirt. Thirdly, you deserve a battering for queue-jumping, one crime for which I would definitely welcome the return of capital punishment. Finally, if a bloke starts on you, and you can't fight back, for whatever reason, don't admit it afterwards, you pansy. As Dr. Cox would say, 'I'm writing you a prescription for two testicles.'

'Girls run around with no clothes on, To borrow a pound for a condom, If it wasn't for chip fat, well they'd be frozen, They're not very sensible.' At this point they turn from Blairites into faintly theocratic prudes, demanding the covering of female flesh. Add a quick insult about weight that is really rather unfair, and then we're back to 'sensible' again.

You might be able to tell that this has got my goat somewhat. As O'Neill says, 'its lyrics could have been written by Tessa Jowell or one of the other New Labour apparatchiks who have been banging on for months about the problem of working-class youth getting drunk and disorderly . . . it’s a far cry from when punk rockers The Clash sang ‘White Riot’ in the late 1970s. That song expressed envy that only black kids got to riot: ‘White riot, I wanna riot, a riot of my own!’ it went.'

You know, I might be a person who dismisses the idea of a real rebellious attitude in popular music as so much hot air, but I would at least like to be able to say so. The government have got Fleet Street to get across their messages, they don't need Radio 1 as well.

A group of boring musicians look bored. It makes sense, I suppose.

Monday, November 07, 2005


It's A Locke To Decide

Okay, readers, it's time for you to settle an argument. You know how sometimes you ask a hypothetical question, and it provokes far more debate and controversy than the question deserved? Well, this one has done that. Non-British readers may not be able to join in. The question is:

Were you 'Lost' in some distant part of the globe, with only one companion to help you survive and, more importantly, get out of your predicament, would you choose Locke or Ray Mears?

For Mears, this is a five star hotel.

Locke (right) ponders whether or not to ask his companion if he can think of a way he could look less like Ben Kingsley and Patrick Stewart's illegitimate lovechild.

Personally, I'd go with Mears, because he'd make a raft out of badger turds or some other improbable substance and you could escape that way - and let's face it, a man who eats tree sap for fun must know a bit about being hardy in the outdoors. Locke, on the other hand, would probably force you to do all the work yourself as a 'learning experience', and I'd always be worried he'd stab me with a pointed stick or some such.

However, it's over to you now readers. i don't just want names - I want reasons too!

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Sex Sells, But Pubic Hair Doesn't

One of the few news items that has grated in the last few days - well, alright, last week, was the controversy over 'Zoo' magazine. For the few who don't know, Zoo is a 'lad's mag', filled with pictures of cars, a bit of gore, sport, and lots and lots of very puerile, safe, page-3 standard toplessness, which I won't even award the name of 'nudity' to, because it doesn't deserve it.

They got into a bit of bother the other week by advertising a competition to win a breast enlargement (or, in fact, as hasn't been mentioned very much, alternatively a reduction) for the winner. Predictably, complaints were sent in to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming that it would 'coerce' people into having surgery they didn't want, and that it objectified women.

The ASA upheld the first complanits, and rejected the second, but the damage was done, and the media sprang happily into their now bi- or tri-annual panic over the suitability of 'lad's mags.'

By and large, I tend towards agreeing with the sentiments expressed here, that essentially lads mags are childish, boring and read by the sort of desperate saddos who are too afraid to do the decent thing and buy some real pornography. Come on, mate, saddle up your testicles, pull yourself together, and head behind that blacked-out frontage, and then you'll find something genuinely erotic.

I have to say I can't understand the media panic, but then again, when can I? To take the 'boob job' issue first - any complainant who felt that the advert should be banned because the proceedure is dangerous is in cloud cuckoo land - if the prize money was only to be spent on a breast enhancement (and it turned out in the end it didn't have to be), 'Zoo' would have got the single best plastic surgeon in the land. Do you really think they would risked the terrible publicity, headlines in Guardian saying 'Zoo massacred my mammaries?' I don't.

Does it objectify women? I have had cause to moan about this slippery phrase before - women who appear in the media, outside of the news, and the same goes for men, do so out of choice. However, this situation is a little different. Were a lady to be physically strapped to an operating table by her boyfriend, forcing her against her will to have a proceedure she really didn't want, that would constitute both a moral disgrace and a felony. If truth be told, though, since it later emerged that nobody was being forced to have a breast enlargement, and indeed the prize came in the form of cash that could be spent however the winner wanted, the point seems very, very moot.

Now for the idea that it's some kind of national disaster that a fourteen year old could buy 'Nuts.' That link is a complete waste of time - it takes five or ten minutes to read, in order to tell you something you really already know - editors of these magazines are vaguely sad, have dragged themselves up to do something exceedingly puerile, and get very well paid for doing so. Meanwhile, female writers in the Guardian are still stuck in the bra-burning phase, and appear completely unaware that the world has moved on (unless it hasn't - more about this later this week). Ultimately, so what? When I was fourteen, my friends and I bought these magazines every month, and were already drinking quite heavily. By fifteen, we had dozens of the things, and went on a booze-holiday to Spain. People grow up faster nowadays - and, if you ask me, neither the feminists nor the softcore peddlers have really got to grips with that fact.


While on the subject, Mark Holland raised a very interesting question the other day - 'Rome' was superb on Wednesday night, thoroughly enjoyable and nicely tongue-in-cheek, but was in historically accurate? Specifically, was the very un-hirsute nature of the female participants who showed us all a real reflection of the style of the time?

I stated that, so far as I know, it was common for the elite to shave, and the plebs not to, but I would welcome any expertise on the subject.


Meanwhile, in the hills, the Welsh are having problems of their own - specifically, apparently nobody wishes to see 'Hamlet' in Welsh. To be precise, fewer people were in the audience than on stage. Oh dear. I think this has to go down as one of history's worst ideas, a complete egg.

Oh, and the key lines?

'Bod neu beidio â bod/ Dyna'r dewis/
Ai dewrach dioddef yn feddyliol/
aethau ac ergydion mympwyol ffawd?'

Catchy. Very catchy.

What the fuck do you think you're staring at, boyo?

Friday, November 04, 2005



Sorry about the week long delay folks. If truth be told, the reason I haven't been on here recently is simply that little has been making me angry. This blog feeds on my anger, and in my rare periods of contentment, I struggle to work up the necessary vitriol. However, I absolutely promise to have something for you tomorrow, even if it isn't that long.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?