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.