Take Me Out has left me questioning my masculinity.

After being subjected to ‘Take Me Out’ the other night, which incidentally is the much rumoured ‘End Of TV As We Know It’ (also, if the genders were reversed, it would look a bit gang-bangy), it got me thinking about the male of the species. In fact that is pretty much ALL you can think of when watching it. The focus is so heavily placed upon the men and what it is to be attractive to women, that one can’t help feeling wanting. Not that I am: a) insecure with who I am (brilliantly average), b) on the look out for new female playmates (of that I can promise you Vicky), c) especially not on the lookout for the kinds of women that find themselves on Take Me Out.

It seems that to be perceived to be attractive then you need to have a vacant expression belying a complete disinterest of anything outside of their arm’s reach. With the looks of a weaselly schoolboy from the 1980s replete with the ‘Triad of Douchery’: low cut t-shirt (exposing all of 1 hair), single stud (though having both pierced proves true the maxim ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’), and idiotic shoes be it platforms (it’s not the 70s…80s…90s), or untied boots (poor parenting). You also need to have a cocky arrogance that is completely misplaced, especially when considering the above.

It is this elevation of the aesthetic by an increasing number of the population (‘The Great Overwashed’) that presents challenges both for politicians in terms of voter engagement, but also for the wider society if we are to maintain some rough semblance of community. But this is old hat.

Possibly in the brave new world of my new ‘friendly autocratic’ government, I will commission a show in a similar style to Take Me Out but where contestants were recognised for their depths, their artistic side, ability to author a coherent critique of Samuel Huntingdon’s Clash of Civilisations thesis etc. I would have to resist temptations to call it ‘ X Marx the Spot’ for no other reason that it makes me laugh. Such is my whim.

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Is it time for an ‘Occupy the World’?

If you ask anyone who the most greedy, venal, evil group of people in the world are today, and about 76% of people will shout ‘bankers’, outranking dictators, serial killers and the cast of Jersey Shore. To a point, I would agree. The world has been brought to the brink more times than a lemming on a bungee cord and the banks are standing front and centre in the blame game, but somehow even after all this world leaders are still in thrall to their demands and whinges.

Yet to place the sole burden of blame on the bankers is a gross simplification and an easy scapegoat to make (granted, in this instance the goat is holding a smoking gun over a corpse with a gunshot wound). In truth, we are all to blame; when times were good we were queuing up outside bank for ‘free plastic money cards’, the type that could never lead to repo men calling round for tea; the City was working, so we shut our eyes. But now we have been kicked in our economic teeth, with our impulsive desire to spend, spend, spend leading us to ruin and yet we only prefer to focus on the tip of the iceberg, partly because it’s the bit that can be easily seen, but mainly as it means we are avoiding calling ourselves a twat.

Occupy Wall Street aren’t afraid of calling a twat, a twat. Situating themselves in one of the hubs of modern capitalism, OWS are standing up for the 99% affected by the global recession; yes, we might have aided and abetted the global meltdown but why should we have to be the only ones bearing the brunt of it? In the face of the media’s (mostly) subtle opposition, and prominent confusion, the supporters of OWS have been raising awareness of the dangers of sleepwalking into another financial crisis and the benefits of living in a more socially focused capitalistic economy. The reporting of OWS highlights just how non-existent politically objective coverage has become; it has receded into the background like a chameleon at a camouflage factory (yes, they happen all the time, you just can’t see them).

The 99%

In a world where the Tea Party is presented as a cohesive whole, seemingly unwavering in their belief in everything conservative even though their ranks are as ideologically diverse as a the average football match (for the most part, sitting in the ‘similar intelligence to a snail shell’ camp but to varying degrees), Occupy Wall Street are shown to be fractured, indecisive and ‘eccentric’. Protesting against ‘The American Way’ is seen as a fringe concern, something that was exterminated when the Berlin Wall came down, but it can’t be isolated from the mainstream any longer.

Britain needs it’s own alternative to Occupy, but looking at the support for similar protests in the past, the general public aren’t a fan of the status quo but do not want to do anything about it. I find this disjuncture between anger and lack of pragmatism both fascinating and hugely dispiriting; why do the majority of people feel that they are not part of the alternative? Is this phenomena something exclusively British, are the protests sufficiently inclusive or is this just the state of modern political discourse?

Whether Occupy the London Stock Exchange will be as successful as OWS will have to be seen, but purely based on how catchy the name is, the bankers win once again.

Fucking Jonnie Marbles

Is there anything more desperate than an unsuccessful comedian? A person convinced that they are just one joke away from Mock the Week, one gig away from the Comedy Store, yet they can’t even make their mums laugh. And to prove a point, here’s Jonnie Marbles and his shaving foam dispenser.

Mr Marbles (even his name is tediously ‘zany’) is like the action hero that tries to solve a tense negotiation by annihilating the other side. Yet somehow this is worse. Murdoch was already on the ropes; he didn’t need anyone to make him look stupid or foolish, his old man schtick saw to that (or at least I hope it is an act, because if it isn’t, then Presidents and Prime Ministers are fighting over HIM?!).

Jonnie Marbles has a very linear thought process: (Murdoch= bad)+ shaving foam = untold adulation. But thankfully for a general public spared from his humour, it backfired.

Moron

Anti-Murdoch forces knew this would play into the hands of the News Corporation owner, with headlines showing a young protestor assaulting an elderly man.

So thanks Jonnie. We all know you want to be famous, but just run it by us next time.

RUN! The BskyB is falling in!

It was not so long ago that Chicken Little grabbed the front pages of newspapers around the world with the news that ‘the sky is falling’. His later arrest and imprisonment under the ‘Anti-Doomsday Act 2009’ saw him share a cell with the exhumed bones of the century’s dead compilers of William the Conqueror’s tax-grabbing land and property survey, the Domesday Book. It was a hideously lazy piece of legislation from the late-stage New Labour Government, not least because it drew no distinction between two but that was to be expected by the late stage Labour Government.

But the developments over the past few days have seen the likelihood of Chicken Little’s predictions having a ring of truth increase exponentially as News Corp’s planned buyout of the remaining BskyB shares has run into some’ slight’ turbulence. From Jeremy Hunts tacit acceptance of the deal early last week to its indefinite postponement at the end, it has capped off a week that can only be made worse if it was revealed that News Corp lace all their tabloid newspapers with a chemical that acts both as an aphrodisiac and an intelligence suppressor, resulting in a rapidly populating idiot class (The Sun readership).

Regardless of what has happened in the News of the World, it has no real bearing on the decision by Ofcom and the Culture Secretary regarding the takeover. Yes, we have ammo; yes, horrible things have occurred but no, that does not affect that plurality of the media. For that is what it all boils down to in the end, the need to have a variety of voices coming over the airwaves. Much like cricket cannot be played using the Queensbury rules, the decision cannot be undertaken on media ethics but on plurality alone.

Look at the lovely couple

Hold your horses! Before you start typing ‘Fit and Proper Persons Test’, I agree that Murdoch should be sent back to where he came from (that is the States, as he turned his back on Australia when he discovered that being an American could be a business advantage) with a resounding ‘No’ reverberating in his ears. Ofcom and Hunt should have seen the light much earlier, and not been drawn in by a rather obnoxious, decrepit elderly man (however attractive that does sound), but now truth has thrown on to the relationship between the media and politicians and they are backtracking faster than Usain Bolt on rewind.

The already scant levels of media pluralism in the UK have been eroded by successive Government decisions to relax restrictions on cross-media ownership. These safeguards allowed a variety of voices to be heard and prevented the rise of a monolithic media organisation, but this is based on a sufficient separation between the government and the fourth estate and not one where they both enjoy long walks on the beach.

With the entire Murdoch Empire now in the spotlight, the two issues – ethics and plurality – can finally get the attention they deserve but at the same time they should not be confused, however intertwined they might appear. The growing intensity of public opinion will only serve to diminish the flailing media tycoon’s influence over politicians, as they are slowly coming round to the old-fashioned idea that it’s the electorate that hold the true power.

PCC = Pretty Crap Communicators

So the Press Complaints Commission today have raised the flag of independence in the face of attempts by politicians on all sides of the house to throw the body in the pit of obsolescence. Their failure to take the recalcitrant News of the World to task has been highlighted by all three main party leaders and tacitly by the PCC itself.

But the defence is head-scratchingly poor:  “The government cannot simply order the replacement of the PCC, because it is an independent organisation” screamed a statement by the PCC. In PR terms, that is a raspberry to due process and the workings of true regulators like Ofcom and Ofgem. It is the rhetorical equivalent of double jeopardy: both have admitted something is amiss but sidestep any repercussions due to a technicality.

The mildly condescending nature of public figures who, in the wake of the rapid-fire News of the World revelations were desperately slinging turd-shaped balls of blame at one another to see what would stick in the mistaken belief that the public have a limited portion of disdain to dish out. We don’t. My own personal list grows each day. But they also fail to realise that their sins are separate and can’t be tossed like a mountain lion into the unsuspecting arms of the other. The Government (both past and present) were drawn to the light of Murdoch’s empire and found him a comfortable bedfellow (I bet his hugs are AMAZING) blurring the lines between media and politicians. The PCC on the other hand were just crap; whether it was by design or major oversight they still allowed this to happen. The idea that any industry can self-regulate brings a chuckle, but when that industry is responsible for access to information does the giggle turn to spasms of laughter.

So where can the PCC turn now? Well, at the moment, they rely on the support of the constituent members but like the Express Group has shown, any member can leave the Commission by not paying its dues . This can pave the way for the creation of a new regulatory body with more stringent powers and less of a conflict of interest when investigating complaints. So if the newspapers are genuinely serious about learning from the mistakes of this whole debacle then they will have to back their words with actions, which may just be a first.