Category Archives: Lazy News

Plan-A

Ok so

Silly season is upon us. The Olympics is over and the press & media are flailing around like a thresh in a barn clutching for husks and straws of news to throw about.

At this time of year things are normally pretty desperate, but now more so than ever. Last year there were riots to report. Just last week we had wall to wall coverage of the world’s biggest sporting event. Now there is a bleary-eyed collective press hangover as families go on holiday and the news grinds slowly to a halt. Sure there’s Syria (but that’s foreign stuff stupid) and a few other *actual* stories for the media to feed on, but where’s the FILLER? The pap that you put between news and sport.

At this time of year the press are generally at a loss. It’s a great time to put out press releases. Churnalism reaches new highs in the month of August. You could probably put out a press release about a giant mouse in your garden eating all your carrots and they’d be sending the paps round before you could say glis glis.

Yes that’s right. Sheep. Text messages!

That’s why A-levels day is such a special occasion. It gives the media something to focus their efforts on. All those people who spent the last 2 weeks in Olympic park living it up get dispatched to schools around the country in search of bouncy young girls.

And that’s the other thing about A-level day. It seems that for one day and one day only the press seem to collectively engage in the dubious practice of ogling at young girls (ahem, except the Daily Mail which runs its sidebar of shame all year round). To be honest this is nothing short of sinister. Last year the FT ran a piece on how the media thirst for images of pretty pubescent girls was so established that schools were actively trying to market their best looking girls for the press to come and take pictures in order to help school PR. The exploitation gave rise to a blog, SexyAlevels which poked fun at the whole practice (now closed but living on via twitter)

This morning the biggest shock for me was seeing BBC Breakfast interviewing a BOY about his results. It was so out of kilter I thought I’d passed into another dimension where we lived in a matriarchy or something.

Not just one boy, but TWO. Has the BBC been taken over by FEMINISTS?

But the lone boy interview will always be the exception. Today the media start girls off on a lifetime of objectification and exploitation in our society by trying to squeeze in as many shots of them giggling, whooping and bouncing around in delight as they open their results.

Watch out for pictures like this. You won’t be able to avoid them

Maybe they’ll throw in some tears, y’know , for the people in their audience who like to see girls crying. Then tomorrow, like it never happened, the press will be all straight-faced again. As though they never willingly sent out legions of camera crews and photographers to schools with the explicit aim of gathering and publishing images of 6th form girls! A convenient and collective amnesia where regular journos go back to raising their eyebrows at the Daily Mail sidebar of shame and make ‘tut tut’ noises.

There’s another annoying news agenda that seems to go out on A-level day too. Suddenly the media love to read out letters, texts and emails from Joe Public about how graft is the key to success. You know the one’s those generic missives that get repeated like a mantra on every news and radio channel after every A-level skit.

“Troy Michaels has texted in. He says ‘I got all D’s at A level and failed to get into University. Now I’m a billionaire playboy with a wife, mistress and yacht. And I got it all through hard work'”

“Billy Balls says ‘I failed everything, even my mental health check up, so I had to work in a factory. Now I own half of Westminster and it was all down to good honest graft'”

It strikes me as odd that these get rolled out with such vigour, but they perpetuate the myth that the society wants to perpetuate, that it is somehow meritocratic. It’s not kids! For every success story they hold up like a cardboard cutout there are thousands more who will spend a lifetime working their fingers to the bone without ever rising above a relatively low-level of income.

This man is a great success story. He is the son of a Barrister and attended one of the countries leading independent boarding schools in Buckingham

Hard work doesn’t equal success and we do not live in a meritocracy. Privilege, position, networking, education, luck. All these things and more are components of “success” (as defined by society). Good looks probably help too, just ask all the girls getting their picture taken today!

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The final countdown

Ok. So. Today’s important. Right?

I know it’s important cos the sound of bells was ringing all around me as I got ready to go to work. I felt like a regular Quasimodo throwing myself around the house screeching and wailing. I looked out the window for the hordes of zombies or enemy tanks. Could Germany really be invading again? On such a lovely day?

No. It’s the Olympics. The fucking Olympics. A 2 week sporting event. Held in London. 30 miles from my home. That is what they were for.

Personally I can’t wait for the Olympics to start. Never mind that events started days ago. Nothing “really” starts until we have a pointlessly choreographed display of National vanity that wouldn’t be amiss in North Korea. Nothing starts til we have a condescending homage to a national health service that our national government is actively seeking to destroy.

I can’t put up the Olympic rings because I’ll probably get hung for it. So here’s an image the Olympic organisers couldn’t manage themselves

I’m gonna really enjoy the next few weeks. The spectacle, the sports, the crowded public transport. I’m going to relish every second like it’s bullet time. Not least because the ringing of the bells today marked the beginning of the end. The end of all the fucking media hype we’ve had to wash our faces in daily with no respite.

You see. The London Olympics actually started 7 years ago when we won the dubious honour of hosting them. Never mind Beijing and the glorious display of vanity that China treated us to. I remember all through the Beijing Olympics you could never go more than a minute of commentary without some frothing news anchor dribbling out platitudes and speculation of how London would compare. Even during the closing ceremony in Beijing, which hit home like a Matthew Bourne performance on acid, the talk was all about the ‘iconic’ red bus as Boris Johnson shambled around looking like a crumpled insurance salesman cadging the credit for an event his predecessor had won. Since then things have only intensified.

So yeah. Today marks the end of 7 years of the press and media collectively building to a national orgasm. By the end of tonight’s ceremony there will be pundits everywhere letting out a collective scream/groan/shout. Then we might be able to get on with things.

Think I’m joking. Over the last year not a single fucking day has gone by without an Olympic story in the press. Papers have been COUNTING DOWN the days on their front pages. Not from 5 days. Or 10. For an ENTIRE YEAR. “135 days to go to the Olympics” shouted from the front page as if I could give a fuck.

It got worse very quickly. I remember switching the telly on in May (yes. May. 2 months ago). The BBC had a whole crew out live reporting the arrival of the flame. They were providing vapid commentary of the helicopter’s movements as it carried the flame to our shore. They were vox popping the idiots who turned out to watch it arrive at some god forsaken hour. “You’re going to see the Olympic torch how does it feel”. Never mind that we have an ongoing insurgency and massacres in Syria. The news still found time to report the progress of the Olympic torch as it staggered around the country. Daily fucking updates on where a glorified zippo was hanging out on a 15 minute loop.

The Guardian have started offering a button for people to view the news “without” the Olympics. Nice but why do that now they’ve started? Now they’re relevant. Less so over the last 6 months. Probably because the Guardian loved the hype as well, especially gleefully poking shambolicisms like LOCOG’s branding guidelines and the G4S debacle. And these are “actual”  stories. They don’t include all the pap about what Bolt had for breakfast or who the latest ‘Team GB’ member is to sit in a photo booth advertising their Adidas shirt.

This is just a bit of whackiness. It is NOT – REPEAT NOT – a cynical advertising and publicity stunt.

So finally, the Olympics can begin. We can see people reporting on actual fucking events rather than speculating endlessly about what ‘might’ happen. Those Olympic correspondents who were appointed years ago can finally do their job instead of trying to crowbar an Olympic angle into everything.

And then the collective hysteria can die. We can look forward to a September when the news is truly a spent force. All the budget they blew in August will come back to haunt them. Olympics correspondents will become homeless, begging in the street for news chunks. After a collective national love-in we’ll all suddenly suffer massive hangovers as the realisation that we’re all skint and our economy is tanking kicks in again. Perhaps we should thank the Olympics for a bit of respite.

Know your enemy – Part 4 surely the end

Gah

Gah Gah Gah GAH.

Over a month. Over one fucking month. That’s how long it’s taking me to read one single copy of the Daily Mail.

Why? I mean the DM has been in the press for all sorts of titillating trolling reasons lately. First of all there was that whole Samantha Brick episode. You know the one? The one where the Daily Mail ran a piece by a women who moaned about how good-looking she woz when she wasn’t all that good-looking and the internet replied by saying she wasn’t that good-looking and she replied saying yes she was don’t be jealous and then she became all famous an’ stuff an’ she went on the telly an’ all the telly people laffed at her, an’ everyone felt a bit awkward cos’ it looked a bit like she wos bein’ used by the Daily Mail as a hate figure to send people like me to look at their website… so then the hole media got divided an’ Charlie Brooker got some sex toys out to make a laff on the telly an’ I made a laff at the telly an’ then Samantha Brick disappeared an’ mummy read me a story. It was the Hobbit. I like theHobbit.

SHE'S UGLY! No she's beautiful... NO she's irrelevant. Now go back to fucking sleep!

Yeah. Samantha Brick. Internet superstar. Someone no-one had ever heard of before was catapulted into every press orifice that she could be crammed into in the name of shameless self publicity. Hers and the Daily Mail’s. Good? Bad? Who cares! If it drives people to your website it wins. And the Daily Mail got that in spades didn’t they. They milked the whole affair dryer than a cow in a desert and bled Brick to death in the process.  Six stories later (that’s right the DM online dragged 6 stories out of her) I’d be surprised if she had anything left of her legendary beauty now. She’s probably just a flap of skin lying on a typewriter. Each new chapter in the saga brought in hundreds of thousands of unique page views, thousands of comments and left a bad taste in the mouths of millions.

But Brick’s not the only thing the Daily Mail’s been throwing out is she? I mean take this headline that I stumbled on a few days ago.

OMG the DM just made me LMFAO

It’s like the Daily Mail mother lode. There are internet Daily Mail headline generators that could not do justice to this. There’s no point in the Daily Mail even continuing as an entity now. They’ve done it. They’ve achieved their image of perfection. They’ve managed to get thieving Gypsies living in palaces into a stopry. Actually – the Daily Mail did even better than this. Because when it first came out I took a screenshot. It seems they’ve even had to tone down the headline.

THAT’S RIGHT – THE ABOVE IS TONED DOWN VERSION OF WHAT THEY REALLY WANTED TO SAY which was.

OMG I can't LOL at this because erm... it's actually really rather unpleasant.

With all this excitement spewing forth like black bile from the DM online you would think that the paper itself, you know: the one people usually pay for (not me ha ha I gets all my papers out of bins!) would be a real page turner. You would seriously think that with Brick, and Gypsies and twitterstorms and all that jazz, that the Daily Mail would be like a rollercoaster ride. Vomit inducing. terrifying, but ultimately quite thrilling and vaguely addictive.

Nope. I’ve struggled every day to pick it up. I’ve read classics in less time than it’s taken me to read one day of the Daily Mail.

Page 53 and we have recipes. What recipe would the Daily Mail throw up all over its loving audience do you think? The latest creation from Jamie? A bit of sexed up Nigella? Certainly not Blumenthal.. or potty mouthed Ramsay. Hold it. What’s this?

The Daily Mail - with recipes from the 80s to make you feel like the world never changed

A Tuna Pasta Bake? A TUNA FUCKING PASTA BAKE? I have NOT EVEN SEEN a tuna pasta bake in over 20 years. But here we are – in a paper caught in a time warp. They have recipes for dishes that died in the 80s. I’m surprised they don’t advice you to serve with SMASH and throw in angel delight for pudding!

And this is the point isn’t it. DM online is happy to titillate and troll the internet. Putting up pictures of children in bikinis and models wearing even less alongside fame-stalking pap shots and vile editorials to cajole and tease and insult the left while racking up the site visits and creating a vast web auddience bigger than the population of the UK. But when it comes down to it the paper itself is the media equivalent of weak tea. The pisswater you get when you use one bag for two cups and then spill a slosh too much of milk to boot. It’s tepid, watery, insipid and sits on the roof of your mouth til you find some thing else to wash it out with. That’s precisely why it has taken me over a month to consume 50 pages of one issue. Not because it’s shocking but mainly because it’s boring… and a bit soul destroying.

It’s boring because it knows its audience better than any other paper. They’re boring too. They’re boring, banal, selfish, fearful and probably old. No paper in the world can mirror its print audience better than the Mail can, in this respect, it deserves some actual credit for pandering exactly to the opinions and needs of its print readership. Don’t believe me? Well on pages 54 and 55 we get a view into the minds of the readers through the letters pages… and they’re even more disturbing than the editorials. I’ve made a point of reading all the letters. Twice. They’re absolutely batshit. They range from the gentle but pointless humour of the elderly to the evil troll fuelled hate of a rampant nazi. Have this to ease in gently…

ahh bless. Hold it. Someone writes this on a piece of paper and the Daily Mail published it? MENTAL

There’s even a poem.

A poem
About being
a fucking
Chameleon.

And there’s a limerick

A limerick about horses.

And someone sent in a picture of a monster munch crisp. They really did. A crisp that’s supposed to look like a dog. BUT IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE A CRISP NOT A FUCKING DOG.

There’s a letter entitled “knife crime” that is a genuinely angry rant about how young people don’t hold their cutlery properly these days. Seriously. It’s really angry. It starts off like this

“Has no-one else noticed the increasing number of people who are choosing to eat holding their knife and fork in an incredibly clumsy and ugly manner?”

There’s a letter complaining about the AWFUL AWFUL people at Fortnum and Mason and their poor hamper delivery service.

Oh and then you read something like this and just want to switch all your internal organs off simultaneously and let a small part of your soul shrivel up and die

If we spent the £20,000 per illegal immigrant with the aids virus on our border security they wouldn’t be here in the first place

After the letters there’s 4 pages of telly. Not sure why. I bet most of the people who read the Daily Mail still rake the Radio Times every week – although It’s interesting that the first “recommended pick” is a channel 5 documentary called “The Nazis and the Titanic” – what did I say earlier? Playing to their audience.

After that it’s all ads for a bit. Lots of stairlift ads. Lots and lots of stairlift ads. Oh and an amazing advert allowing people who did national service to buy a special national service medal. Seriously. You can buy a medal to commemorate that time you spend marching up and down the square – only in the Daily Mail would we see such a celebration of faux militarism.

After the ads we’re into the business and sport and that’s all I can take. Ever.

The lesson I’ve learned here is big and pretty important though. The Daily Mail won newspaper of the year because of one campaign. The Stephen Lawrence campaign. That’s it. Fair enough. But there is nothing else there to redeem it. In fact there’s not really much else there at all to be honest.

The Mail Online is a walking talking trolling, celeb pap snapping, hotbed of titillation and opinion that draws in the web in a mixture of disgust and fascination with all the gravital pull of a supermassive black hole. But the paper itself is as dull as dishwater. When you scratch the surface of the sensationalist front pages, draw the poison out of the vitriolic  opinion pieces and stop laughing, crying or scratching your eyes out at the letters pages you’re left with nothing but fluff and adverts. If the Daily Mail were a drink it would be a mainstream brand of sherry like Harveys Bristol Cream. It’s sweet sticky and cloying and it has the middle class pretensions that branded sherry had 30 years ago. But at the end of the day it’s still a dangerous fortified wine and if you consume too much of it you’ll it will poison your soul.

Know your enemy part 3

OK so… wow. Has it been that long? Where was I? It’s like a really bad dream. One where I’m frothing at the mouth screaming at the people around me… running down the street, tearing at my clothes crying… “they’re coming … they’re coming…. the immigrants are coming”.

Then I’m falling… endlessly falling, until hands reach and grab me, shaking me awake. And I’m here. Sat in front of a computer screen. The concerned faces that swam before me are gone. I’m out of the sanitorium and back home. And that was after just 22 pages of the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail I’ve promised myself to try to read cover to cover (well at least what I can manage). The Daily Mail that I found on the train on the 6th March and it’s taken me this long to get 22 pages into because …. because…. well I don’t want to go there again.

This is the least S&M pic of a straitjacket I could find

Page 23 and it’s back to the warm cuddly face of the Daily Mail – the grandmother you still love even though she sometimes says things like “Back in my day there was nothing wrong with calling them gollywogs” because she’s your granny, she loves you… besides, she was born in a different age … and she’ll probably be dead soon.

That’s right… Dad’s Army. Oh.. but it’s a bit sad because someone’s died. Hold it. And he only appeared in one episode of Dad’s Army?! This is actually utterly bizarre. The DM is reporting the death of Philip Madoc but is saying his most memorable role ever is appearing as a German U-Boat commander  in one episode of Dad’s Army? I’m gonna have to let that one wash over me.

Page 24 – Leveson. So in page order the death of someone who appeared in one episode of a sitcom in 1973 is more important than a national media enquiry? Mind you. At least it puts the boot into the met a bit – Go Daily Mail!

The Euphoria doesn’t last long mind. There follows a montage of random fear and loathing mixed in with a heavy dose of opinion that is hard to stomach… Woman poses as boy to seduce teenage girls. Chinese super-rich hunt polar bears. BBC wastes taxpayers money. Ooh pictures of David Beckham with his son! Best friends die at 99 (yes… that is a story). Union reps cost police £4.8m (just to hammer that into your fat kneejerk skull – that’s equivalent to 200 bobbies on the beat apparently – in fact the article, barely a few hundred words, manages to include “bobbies on the beat” 3 fucking times). Ha Ha someone called Rachel Ragg writes for the DM… which is a RAG! Geddit? Geddit? OK – I’m losing it here. Time out!

OOH LOOK – There’s a double fucking spread about … wait for it… no really. WAIT. THE FALKANDS WAR. Seriously – forget the 30 year time gap. The DM is adapting a book in a bid to let the jingoistic nostalgia junkies bask in every British victory ever and sock it to those dirty forruns! Think I’m joking? The piece is entitled “Under the Argentine Jackboot” – How subtle do the DM want to be? This subtle “We don’t ever want to become Argentinian. We are British and always will be – no matter what rubbish we hear from the Argentinians” Ahhh – a home (thousands of miles away from) home. Like Gibraltar… that open sore on the coast of Spain were fat-rosy-faced career criminals go smeared in faded tattoos and old England shirts to buy marmite and crisps and moan about immigration without a hint of irony.

What next? Diana auction… of course! Then its Health – NHS reform gets 2 pages. Page 38 is like a quack page – squeezy balls, muscle pills and superbugs. I’ll skip the puzzles and cartoons if that’s ok… although I do love the massive weight of opinion and angst out there about Fred Basset being the worst EVER comic strip.

HAHAHAHAHAHA no? Me neither.

I try to ignore the horoscopes but I’m caught by the fact that someone has actually written to the resident soothsayer asking what stage in the lunar cycle was best for conceiving children…. WHAT?  No? Really “I hear that the waxing moon is better, but as children grow in the dark I was just wondering?” Seriously. What the fuck is that? The soothsayer isn’t content with writing shite out for each of the 12 star signs… he also kindly adds a premium phone line for each star sign so the feeble-minded and gullible can be exploited further. How kind!

Blimey. The health section goes on for ages… and it’s awful. Skits on orange juice being unhealthy, a letter to the doctor where the good doc gets on a soapbox and whinges about a lack of compassion among nurses. There’s even a special regular section called waterworks about urinary problems… Dentures. The ubiquitous cancer page (good news this time… they’ve cured colon cancer… tomorrow it will probably be that colons cause cancer). There’s even a mini-health interview with Kelly Osbourne (yeah… the one whose dad is famous). Of course… the entire health section is decked out with ads for various gadgets and books. My favourite is “The saltpipe” – it’s a porcelain inhaler for salt. INHALE SALT – IT CURES EVERYTHING. A snip at 30 quid….

Of course… you know the health section is coming to an end when you see a full-page ad for electronic cigarettes. Mmmmm nicotine and water vapour…

Blimey. Is that the time? I’ll have to finish this off another day. I’m starting to get to the juicy bits.

To be continued.

Know your enemy part 2

 OK so Lets GO! This is what the Daily Mail – our NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR looked like on 6th March when I dragged a used copy off a train seat to take it out the “news-pool”

Front cover – Ooh heart pills. Eh? HEART PILLS? Is that news? Well actually – I can’t be too critical here can I – after all – the Express ran the same headline (mind you – the Express is running a headline today about how Aspirin beats cancer for fucks sake). It’s not like there was much else going on in the world is there. I mean apart from Harry Lusting after Katie Perry (the Star) or benefits cheats (the Sun) or transsexual con artists (the Mirror). Oh… and a massive crackdown on protests in Russia and the ticking time-bomb of Eurozone debt…. but forget that foreign rubbish A HEART PILL is what counts.

News – Well what did I expect? It seems that even-numbered pages are about the serious agenda driven stuff and odd-numbered pages are about fluff. So page 2 is about Israel and the US. Page 4 is all about cutting child benefits and Page 6 is devoted to the Mail campaign against secret court cases, with a cameo from old school Tory poster boy Ken Clarke… you know the one. Justice Secretary, the bloke who categorises rape into “serious” and “non-serious”! Anyway by the time page 8 rolls around we reach what a lot of broadsheets put on the front page Putin’s crackdown….

 Meanwhile  Page 3 runs with a story about Prince Harry’s shoes. Yes. His. Shoes. Page 5 has a saucy picture of some Oxford librarian temptress and page 7 is a pictures feature comparing SamCam’s appearance in different pap shots taken while she’s out running.

Still with me? You’ll wish you weren’t. Whenever I get past a certain mark in the Mail (and that’s very rarely, train seats come at a premium you know) I get hit by this sudden completely overwhelming depression and sickness. It’s usually when you’ve braved the first few pages and the news becomes less fluffy and more agenda driven. OK so… Sam Cam, Ken Clarke and Prince Harry are hardly subtle hints at the political leanings of the DM – but if you’ve passed the initiation the views of the paper seem to hit you in the face a lot harder the further into it you have the courage to delve.

On page 9 the agenda ramps up with a rant by Dame Joanne Bakewell about how teen magazines sexualise young girls. Never mind the reality that it’s usually when people are in their teens that they start getting curious about sex – it’s WRONG for teens to talk about sex.

Maybe the DM has a point here? Or maybe it’s rank hypocrisy given the massive overt sexualisation of EVERYTHING when you browse the Daily Mail online. A cyber-world where DM paps relentlessly pursue FIVE-YEAR-OLD Suri Cruise for bikini shots. In fact the Daily Mail website is bikini obsessed. A search for the 6 letter word turns up 5,699 results. I’d show a screengrab but anything from DM online is virtually NSFW these days.  We only have to fast forward a few pages here and the Mail is discussing a Gina Ford suggestion that mothers should “grin and bear it” and have unwilling sex with their partners soon after giving birth…. So sexualising teenagers is wrong – but pre-teen bikini shots and forcing yourself to have sex when you don’t want to are fair game… yeah?

Anyway the massive hypocrisy of the Mail when it comes to moralising is a common theme. Onwards – before I get bogged down too much.

By page 14 I actually do feel physically sick. The paper has 80 pages – and I’m sick by page 14. That’s how bad it is. Maybe they should put something on the cover about how reading the DM gives you ulcers as one of the many health scares they gleefully try to terrorise their readership with. On page 14 there is a Quentin Letts rant about the “loonie” “left-wing” quango the Equality & Human Rights Commission. It’s awful.  Here’s a quote

Oh, and they happily spend millions of pounds of public money — your money, taken from your wages — on propaganda officers specialising in race relations, militant secularism and transgender rights outreach.

It’s like I’m on a boat. On the Congo river. Descending into some malarial right-wing feverishness.

Thank fuck then for pages 20 and 21. THANK FUCK. Because we get to a part of the paper called “life” which I think is targeted at women. Why? Why would they call a section “life” and target women with it? How Do I know it targets women? Well. You see. It features 2 pages of photos. 13 pairs of photos of male celebrities. 26 pictures. 13 of them are with beard and 13 without. And the reader gets to decide which is sexier. Beard.Or.No.Beard.  Does this seem strange? Well yes… a bit- but compared to reading the spew of Quentin Letts and the DM Comment column it’s like someone’s injected helium into my cranium and I’m floating away gently. More vapid pictures of men in beards PLEASE.

You get the idea

Shit. On page 21 it’s back to Letts. SOMEONE KILL ME. He’s reviewing the day in parliament. How very proper. Not the place where you’d expect a columnist to throw around personal insults eh? Hold it – how does he describe Ed Milliband?

For once, it was possible to watch Ed’s snorky, honking, spit-sploshy, gawky-geek style – arms lashing around like spaghetti in a tornado, teeth forcing themselves past those lips like the rocks off Land’s End breaking through the foaming briny – and admire young dobbin Miliband for his sheer persistence and stamina.

A good day for Parliament’s leading trainspotter! Triumph for the man in the flapping trousers! He glowed as he may not have done since his days as a Rubik’s Cube prodigy at primary school.

When Mr Miliband sat down he was sweetly pleased with himself. His tongue licked itself all over after making such an effort. His nostrils flared, two open drainpipes. His pigeony chesty heaved and he gave a sealion bark of laughter, so caught up was he by the excitement of the hour. He took on water like Thomas the Tank Engine or a camel at the last oasis before the M4.

So basically it’s not a review of what happened at parliament – it’s a right-wing columnist throwing a series of personal insults at the leader of the opposition. Well done to the NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR.

Jeepers. Letts has given me a brane haemorrhage. I didn’t realise that simply reading the NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR would be so stressful. I actually need a break before I pass out.

To be continued – after all – I’m only up to page 21

Know your enemy Part 1

Ok so….. STOP THE PRESS.

No I mean it. Like bring an end to it all. Smash up those apparatus of media propaganda with massive fuck-off hammers and start again with etchings and hand scrawled pamphlets.

Johannes Gutenberg, Elijah Lovejoy and other printing pioneers must be spinning their graves into muddy sludge right now!

Why? Well the Daily Mail won newspaper of the year last night. That’s right – a rag filled with little more than fear, hate and celebrity gossip was the standout British paper last year!

Maybe the award was partly for Dacre's contemptuous performance for Leveson

But that’s just a symptom isn’t it?

What I’m really saying is that the printing press, originally an apparatus to free people from oppression has now been transformed into a tool of oppression in itself. Where once the printing press was used to smash injustice and spread the truth, it has become a means of social control shower us with cancer scares and shiny pictures of bikinis as a means of distracting the day-to-day drudgery that we’re burdened with.

But I digress. That would be too depressing to dig myself into on such a beautiful spring day… and look – there’s a picture of a bikini and some cancer scare to occupy my five second attention span.

The Daily Mail eh?!

Who would have thought it? In a year where we’ve seen the Guardian break the phone hacking story which brought down our largest Sunday tabloid and transformed the media landscape forever we see the spiritual and actual home of Richard Littlejohn running away with the plaudits. Let’s get this straight, I’m not venting sour grapes like some Guardian loving leftie (well, maybe I am). There are plenty of worthy stories that have been broken by different parts of the media, the Paul Foot awards are evidence of that (ahem although the phone hacking story did win it).

Isn't this a bit more like it?

But the DAILY MAIL? To me it seems incomprehensible.

Sometimes I see the Daily Mail lying around on the train.

 I always pick it up, for two reasons. First is to take it out of circulation. I mean. Every Mail I pick up and bin is surely a service to humanity if it prevents some other poor soul having their mind warped into a vortex of immigrant-blaming, health-scare-mithering, crime-fearing paranoia. Second. Oh go on. It’s a bit of a laugh isn’t it. Let’s delve into the brane of the enemy and see what makes Dacre et al tick. Anyone who opposes something should know what they oppose and we can all laugh at the stupids while we do it. The problem is that after a few pages I feel ill from all the bile I’m ingesting and I have to put the paper down. I’ve got one in my bag from weeks ago that I’ve not had the courage to read properly yet for precisely that reason.

But this is the newspaper of the YEAR. Now I suddenly feel honour bound now to see what has made it so great. So in the interest of amateur curiosity lets take a look into the Daily Mail I picked up on March 6th and see what it is that makes such a national treasure so great!

To be continued

Year in review

Gah.

Whoever designed these calendars – with all their national holidays and bizarre chronological fumblings let themselves and the western world down with this one didn’t they. I mean. December is just plain wrong as a month… But now? Now is the dark time. The eye in the storm.

You start off all hyped up. With Christmas party after Christmas party. Rolling like a punchdrunk boxer from one pointless round of boozy shame to the next. Waking up each morning riven with nausea, fear and the gut wrenching guilt that every office party brings. Wondering whether you’ll even live to see the next year or whether your merciful liver and heart will do you a favour and just give up. Then you’re thrust into a maelstrom of Christmas panic. Gift shopping, overspending. Buying enough food to give an army gout. Sitting on the floor of department stores weeping, still drunk from the night before wondering if this overpriced piece of novelty plastic is really what your loved ones need to have.

Then it arrives. And you spend a few days doing nothing but cooking, eating, drinking, wearing a smile like armour as you graciously open your own novelty plastic, or socks, or jumpers, or soap, or whatever. Throwing out the well-practiced “thank yous” before settling down to stuff yourself with fat and guilt and booze to take away the ache of how much all of this actually cost and how much of it will go to waste.

Then it’s over. Whatever endorphin rush you might have had. The faint lustre you felt when you opened a gift you really wanted or sank down a stone heavier in a fug of gin and sugar to enjoy the Christmas special of some awful celebrity television show or other. Well it’s all gone. Christmas has spat you out the other side. Suddenly you are Free. FREE to actually get on with your life and try to ease the memory gently away by looking FORWARD – at the brave new world to come.

Did I really watch this or was it just a terrible dream?

Well. That’s how it should be. Christmas should be this cathartic blow out. Getting all the old demons to have a party in your brane then BANG you expel them like some sort of wine-soaked exorcist leaving you clean, shaking and newborn for the new year.

But Christmas can’t let go that easily can it. It leaves its clammy claws in your flesh and it’s alcohol soaked tongue in your mouth a few days longer. Like a desolate ex who has to hack your Facebook account one last time before the restraining order finally takes them away from you.

Instead of a fresh start the calendar throws up this limbo. The dead zone between the overwhelming consumption of the Christmas bank holidays and the fresh austerity of the New Year. If you’re one of the lucky ones you’ll aimlessly roll yourself out of bed and crawl downstairs in whatever clothes you fell asleep in to perch yourself on a sofa and consume your weight in leftover fat or salt based snacks drinking beer, wine, spirits, chlorine or anything. Mindlessly wallowing in television repeats of everything that Christmas threw at you when it was actually happening. The less lucky go to work. A few days of solitude in a half-empty office killing time and counting down the minutes until they can vacate their desks and run back in the miserable cold without arousing too much suspicion.

But secretly the unlucky ones are the lucky ones. That frosty air they suffer on their commute? That’s real air. The FRESH stuff – from “outdoors” a place they probably barely saw except when piling in and out of cars to see family or friends. That thing they’re doing with their legs? That’s “walking” – something some people might have forgotten as they looked down at their bloated appendages on boxing day wondering through a gin-drenched fug what the pointy bits of flesh and bone were actually for. Getting out and about can be part of the rehabilitation of Christmas. And best of all it saves you from the god-awful dirge that the news tries to dish up into your lap like recycled sewage during the limbo days.

When bear sightings and traffic roadworks are the highlights of a year you know there's trouble

That’s right. I’m talking about the endless “year in review” programs and articles that the press and media hide behind to disguise the fact that they actually have nothing left to offer us for the year. All the glitz and glamour they had before December 25th is faded. Newsrooms everywhere are on a skeleton staff, churning out sweet nothings because, lets face it, there isn’t much to report when Corporate PR offices stop throwing out press releases and a large part of the world sits on the sofa for days on end. Yesterday the BBC were reporting from a recycling centre to crowbar in a story about post-Christmas waste disposal – I’m even sure I heard something about Goats being herded on a motorway.

Instead the news tries to bury us in nostalgia. Remind the mouth-breathing public with its goldfish memory and fickle imaginings what it was that made them so angry or interested in the world around them a few months ago. Long forgotten montages are thrust back at us with some hangdog anchor droning on at how “great” it was when there was a royal wedding or how marvellous a job we did in invading Libya and killing Gaddafi (and a few thousand civilians) – conveniently rewriting bits and pieces here and there, like the fact that we were only supposed to get involved in the civil war of a sovereign state to safeguard civilian lives.

LOOK you need pictures here to actually REMEMBER what happened

It’s a cheap trick – but fuck it – without a boxing Day Tsunami to capture the world’s imagination there’s nothing more the media can do than dredge up stuff that should have been long-forgotten. And it can’t do any harm can it? I mean. The past is the past. All the news has to do when it reports these dull-as-dishwater years in review is just run an endless loop of shit that has already happened and hope that a general public, dulled by alcohol and saturated fat will lap it up. In a way it’s almost an exercise in branewashing. If you end your year with a review of what you think is important then the bovine oafs weakened by Decembers exertions and struggling to find meaning in these scant days before the financial chill of January will remember your opinion and maybe take that as theirs going forward.

The good news then is that sometimes the press do get it wrong. Spectacularly wrong. Perhaps wrong enough to rouse people from their slumber and actually express an opinion of their own. The safety of regurgitating old copy or footage and accompanying it with commentary that was probably subbed as far back as October to fill up the column inches and airwaves now gets called into question. Especially when you see mistakes as monumental as the BBC’s when they reported “Faces of the year 2011 – the women” yesterday. Even a newsjaded cretinous cynic like myself was mouth agape in a mixture of rage and hysterical laughter when I saw the weight of the clanger being dropped by a press room so obviously full of festive opiates.

Caught between rage and mocking laughter at the idiocy of the beeb

That’s right. Not satisfied with deciding women weren’t good enough to even warrant being shortlisted for a pointless sporting accolade this year, the BBC decided to grind the noses of 50% of the world’s population further into the dirt with their women of the year list.

If you can’t see very well I can tell you that one of them is a Panda. That’s right. Not. A. Woman. A. Panda. But to me that is not the worst of it. In a year when women continue to struggle against male patriarchy there are a host of women who could step into the limelight as influential and crucial figures. But instead the focus is on people like “Pippa Middleton” famous for … erm… attending a wedding? or “Kelsey de Santis” who basically went to a ball with Justin Timberlake. Or the “Duchess of Alba” famous for looking a bit strange and marrying a toyboy.

The list is vapid and sickening in a year when we’ve seen Angela Merkel at the heart of European politics and Aung San Suu Kyi returning to politics after 15 years of house arrest in Burma. Instead of congratulating Christine Lagarde for heading the IMF the BBC decided to make Nafissatou Diallo a woman of the year simply because she accused the former head of the IMF of raping her. The Panda adds insult to injury but the real problem in this is that the BBC has decided that women need to be remembered for sex, marriage and their subjugation to men rather than for their actual achievements. Something that, thankfully, enough people have noticed is just plain wrong.