Sunday, 12 December 2010

oh how the mighty have fallen

So, the great world powers have finally come together to show us what we all already knew: that nobody really likes each other; they especially don’t like Prince Charles, Chancellor George Osborne has the voice of a young Charlotte Church and Silvio Berlusconi is a one-man natural disaster. Isn’t teamwork lovely?

Perhaps the highlight of the Wikileaks exposé is the reaction of the US government to the very public airing of their dirty laundry – rather than oh, say, apologise for the backstabbing, duplicitous, two-faced and generally bitchy nature of their communications, they decide to cry “tell-tale” on Julian Assange and slap him with some completely unrelated yet oddly convenient sex charges. Naturally, it would be outrageous to suggest that this is a thinly-veiled smear campaign designed to Cover Their Asses, so I won’t. 

Of  course, anyone who has seen the classic Mean Girls and Cruel Intentions will know that writing bad things down about people always comes back to bite you on the posterior. Whether in the form of Ryan Phillipe getting tragically run over by a cab, or having your ‘Burn Book’ published by Rachel McAdams, there are always grave consequences for this sort of thing. Maybe teen films from the late 90s should be required watching for budding diplomats – either that or they should all learn to delete things. Hint: it’s that one there.

In any case, the Wikileaks scandal seems to have generated an exceptional amount of fuss, and whilst some of the leaked information is genuinely damaging to international relations, a lot of it is just obvious. Here are some of my favourites from the Guardian’s coverage:

“China is ready to accept Korean unification and is distancing itself from North Korea which it describes as behaving like a "spoiled child". Cables say Kim Jong-il is a "flabby old chap" losing his grip and drinking.”

…didn’t Team America do this one already?

“An official from the Commonwealth secretariat claimed Prince Charles is not respected in the same way as the Queen and questioned whether the heir apparent should necessarily succeed his mother as the head of the Commonwealth.”

No, really, Charles, you’re great. We love you. You just stay real, okay. Keep doing you. Oh, and sorry about your Rolls Royce, by the way.

“Osborne lacked gravitas and was seen as a political lightweight because of his "high-pitched vocal delivery" according to private Conservative polling before the election.”

Well, there are two options here. Pull a David Beckham and marry a Spice Girl (I hear Mel C is free) or simply have Arnold Schwarzenegger dub over all your speeches. Win-win. 

“Cameron said that under Labour "we let in a lot of crazies and did not wake up early enough."

‘Crazies’, right. So is that a technical term, or what?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

attention citizens: give up life now, you can’t afford it.

The government today announced a controversial new policy to be implemented in 2012 – a tax on oxygen. The new tax will be means-tested and based on a sliding-scale model, with the aim of reducing excess respiration. It is thought that those prone to hyperventilation will be hardest hit under the new scheme.

David Shameron defended his decision to introduce the measure at a press conference earlier, amidst cries of dissention in the coalition ranks. “There simply is not room in the budget to make concessions for frivolities like breathing”, he asserted, with the support of his deputy, Dick Clegg, who added “Yes. What he said.”

Human rights organisations have voiced their concerns for the most vulnerable sectors of society, particularly those with asthma and similar conditions, whilst the Independent Bullshit Association has published a review which states that 20% of people think something or other.  

Shameron has also indicated that the new tax is only the first of a series of money-saving initiatives. “We will certainly be looking at further cuts in the key problem areas. Laughter, and such.” Meanwhile, the leader of the British National Party, Nick ‘We’re not racist really’ Griffin blamed it all on the foreigners, which everyone agreed was a breath of fresh air.  

Saturday, 6 November 2010

this one goes out to all the ladies

Where’s a strong female role model when you need one? This is the question Kira Cochrane asked in the Guardian earlier this week, lamenting the sorry dearth of coverage on inspirational women in the press. “Over the last five years we have seen a media obsession with sex objects in turmoil” she writes, citing the usual suspects (and/or convicts, delete as applicable): Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Katie Price as examples of this bimbo-glorification phenomena. Cochrane references the website ‘Pinkstinks’, a who's-who of influential and successful women in various fields, which professes to campaign for 'real role models' for young girls. 

After perusing Pinkstinks for myself, it was much to my dismay that I hadn't heard of the majority of the women listed - and the ones that I had heard of didn't feel particularly relevant to me personally. I think it's wonderful that Venus and Serena Williams play a kick-ass game of tennis, but I have the approximate physical fitness of a slightly congealed jam donut. Female neurosurgeons? Wonderful. Except I still have nightmares about GCSE chemistry. 

It seems as though I'm caught between a rock and a hard place - namely surgery-addled, dysfunctional, underwear-challenged tabloid skanks and, at the opposite side of the spectrum, women who are so clever/pumped that they hurl me into a lengthy and depressing Bridget Jones-style bout of introspection about how much I suck by comparison.

This train of thought did, however, lead me to consider who my female role models are, and to compile them into a tentative Top 5. I should point out that this list does not include any of the legendary Rosa Parks, Virginia Woolfs, Mary Seacoles and assorted Suffragettes of the past - I have deliberately limited myself to modern pop culture icons, some real and some fictional. So! In no particular order:



"Writing for me is a kind of compulsion, so I don't think anyone could have made me do it, or prevented me from doing it."

Author of the Harry Potter series, this woman needs no introduction. As well as having written some of the most original and captivating children's novels ever (and subsequently making an enormous fortune from them) she is also a great philanthropist. Nuff respect.

"You could be the king but watch the queen conquer" - Monster

Nicki Minaj is pretty much the only female MC making any sort of impact on the predominantly male hip-hop scene at the moment. Though she has yet to release an album, she has already collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, including: Mariah Carey, Eminem, Jay-Z, Christina Aguilera, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Will.I.Am and P Diddy, to name but a few. One to watch.

"See, I've had a lot of people talking at me in the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I've finally figured out why. Power. I have it." - Checkpoint, Season Five

Okay, admittedly she's not real, but the title character of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a bona fide classic girl-power icon. Not only does she save the world whilst dispensing witty commentary, but she also faces the very real and human journey of growing up. ...All whilst somehow preserving immaculate hair and make-up. Classy.


"I'm trying to build a strong business. I want to create new stars, new shows and new products for my audience and create a legacy that outlives me. There are so many other ways I want to reach women besides doing a talk show."

Creator and executive producer of America's Next Top Model, as well as CEO of her own independent television company (Bankable Productions), Tyra Banks is not just a pretty face, but also a shrewd and highly successful businesswoman. Aside from that, she's just hilarious. SMIZE, GIRLS. (That's 'smile with your eyes', for those who missed the induction)

"That's life. One minute you're on top of the world, the next minute some secretary's running you over with a lawn mower." - Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency, Season Three

 The fabulous Joanie from Mad Men rounds off my top five. Efficient, cutting, funny, incisive and (on occasion) fearsome, Joan holds her head up in the face of blatant sexism in the 1960s workplace. See also: HBIC.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

review: vampires suck

It’s official, vampires are taking over the world. Not traditional vampires however, no. The bloodsuckers of today have shucked their conventional grave-dirt-chic, unibrow-rocking, cape-furling, dentistry-deprived trappings, and now come neatly repackaged in a glossy form more palatable to the teen appetite. Gone are the days of Nosferatewwww. 2010 is the age of ambiguously pale models drinking Ribena. Oh sorry, did I say models? I meant talented actors. Ahem.

Between True Blood (admittedly superb), The Vampire Diaries (who knows) and Twilight (let’s not), it’s obvious that the undead have well and truly arrived – and as if to cement the vampire’s status as the modern metrosexual monster of choice (and therefore fair game), the 15th of October saw the release of Vampires Suck, a spoof of Stephanie Meyer’s disturbingly successful vampire saga, from the makers of Scary Movie. And the verdict? Sadly, after all this exposition, it is my anti-climactic duty to report that Vampires Suck sort of… well, sucked. Laughs were few and far between, and the script was heavily reliant on the sort of puerile slapstick gags that tend to elicit groans rather than giggles. 

That said; I don’t hold the writers entirely responsible for this failure. After all, let’s consider the material they had to work with. It would take an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters approximately two minutes to reproduce the entire Twilight saga, and they wouldn’t need the typewriters – just some paper, and perhaps a crossword to pass the time. Twilight is already so crap that there’s very little scope for comedy exploitation there. It can’t possibly lend itself to a pisstake, because its very existence is a pisstake – which means that parodying it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Far too easy, not particularly fun, and a watery mess.

Personally, I’d like to see an original take on the vampire theme. A Dalek/vampire hybrid would definitely strike fear into my heart – and the catchphrase practically writes itself. “EXSANGUINATE. EXSANGUINATE.” 

(Artist's impression)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

i do not love justin bieber & this week i have been mostly watching...

First, for the preliminaries. I have long been of the opinion that Twitter is stupid, but tonight I took it upon myself to make an account because I’m a rotten traitor. There was just one problem: I couldn’t. The username ‘spauren’ (a combination of ‘spaz’ and ‘Lauren’ bestowed upon me at the age of 14 or thereabouts) that I habitually use has already been taken. By this person. Needless to say, I'm horrified and would just like to clarify that I do not, I repeat do not have an obsession with Justin Bieber. And that's not me. 

Chris Bates, 100% charisma
In other news, thanks to The Apprentice, I now know that it’s possible for a man to survive a traumatic full-body hair gel immersion and go on to do great things. Charismatic contestant Chris Bates this week shined in his sales role, pitching a glorified beach towel to a series of underwhelmed business types. In fairness, it didn’t help that the towel was hilariously named ‘Cüüli’. Yes, spelt like that. No, really. It’s wreaking absolute havoc with my Spell-check. 

Chris somehow managed to drone, stutter and even sap all the humour out of the charmingly whimsical product concept, which was brimming with potential. Oh my god it’s a rolled up towel?! With a cool box in it for my water bottle?! And it comes in that stylish blue neon-nylon combo, with cute little bonus patronising umlauts? Get out of town! And buy me three while you’re there!

Ill-advised though they may have been, this woeful performance paled in comparison to the all-woman team ‘Apollo’, who richly deserve a resounding chorus of ‘bitches be crazy’. Never has so much hair-tossing and shrieking been witnessed since two days ago on America’s Next Top Model

On a more positive note, Channel Four's Phone Shop is a refreshing and genuinely hilarious piece of comedy, though one wouldn't expect less with Ricky Gervais as script editor. It blends realism, farce, and some wonderfully tragic characters to deliver a fairly authentic (if exaggerated) glimpse into the retail experience. After watching two epidodes I feel faintly ashamed of my sucker 24-month contract now. Oh well, at least I got too much flow for Pay As You Go. 

Phone Shop, C4

Monday, 11 October 2010

all up in this blog, inaugurating

In the true spirit of boredom and sheer contrariness (is that a word? Oh well, it is now), and in light of Andrew Marr’s delightful comments re: the noble enterprise of blogging reported in today’s Daily Telegraph, I have decided to start a blog. 

…This is it, by the way. Allons-y! 

The article in question relates some of the political presenter’s choicest verbal morsels from his recent appearance at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. According to Marr: "A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting."

And to that, I present the robust and hearty rebuttal of: “…yes okay, there probably are quite a few of those”. Of course, it would be wonderful to come out swinging with a stout denial, but I’d rather not begin my blogging career with lies and deception. That said, one has to question his approach - that is, the approach of taking a stereotype and then building a generalisation the size of Canary Wharf on top of it, before painting “SUCK ON THIS, NERDBITCHES” in a really obscene crimson all over it. 

Marr’s assertion that ‘citizen journalism’ will never replace real, ‘proper’ journalism smacks of resentment and fear of change. Heaven forbid these young whippersnappers with their iPods and their PlayStations and their interactive 3G HD R2D2 technology should try to express themselves through new media! Doesn’t anyone remember the good old days when we used to send them up chimneys?!  

At any rate, it is obvious that Marr is wrong. Not all bloggers are socially inadequate, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. Some of us are socially inadequate young women sitting in our mother’s houses and bitching

On that note: a man that so closely resembles Gollum really ought not to cast the first stone. Just saying.