Category Archives: Stupid celebrity news

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.

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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

Leave the room now if you don’t want to know the score

Oh it’s a funny old game ennit? Eh!

Fucking hilarious! Like a one man stand up show. Benny Hill meets Bill Hicks and they both make us all laugh like we’re dead. We are all dead aren’t we? HAHAHA. We’ve just been resurrected and Jimmy Carr is telling us all jokes about Alan Carr – not the funny one. The one that died of cancer. But now the other Alan Carr’s arrived and he’s just written a sitcom with Richard Pryor and Alan Bennett about the life of John Cleese. That funny!

Well it’s not funny. But it is a game. It’s football. The national sport. The thing that seems to command more passion and dedication in this country than the reality of things like the economy. Like eating and drinking. Like shelter and society.

I’ve steered clear of football for a while now. Mainly because football is so ubiquitous in the news that it’s wallpaper. Things change in the news. Celebrities come and go. Natural disasters strike, governments blah their shit and the press collectively cream themselves over one scandal or the other all the time. But football is forever. It’s like paving stones in a street, I mean. How often do you look down and think

“look all those paving stones? How did they get there? There are gazillions of them. They’re everywhere. Blimey. I’m having a panic attack thinking about the interconnection of them all”

Unless you got spiked with LSD and you’ve been caught out going to the shops for something pointless like windolene (no-one? Oh!?) I’d guess you almost NEVER think about how integral paving stones are to our lives. Football has the same relationship with news. It swills around and gets spat out of the mouth of the press every morning and the reader absorbs it all without even noticing that much.

But it’s been a busy few weeks even for football. Ubiquity on the back pages has spread to scandal on the front ones. We’ve had Harry Redknapp confessing to being unable to read or write. Not only that but a court believed him and he was found not guilty of tax evasion. Not only that but he only fucking managed to do it just in time to be hailed as the saviour of english football. WHY? Because Fabio Capello ONLY quit as England boss. EH? BUT WE’VE GOT EUROS IN A FEW MONTHS. Shit yeah. He only walked because he couldn’t make John Terry Captain. WHY? Cos’ John Terry only got charged with racial abuse on Anton Ferdinand . Jesus! Yeah. And that’s not the half of it. Suarez got banned for being a daft racist to Evra! NO?! What happened there? Well Suarez only refused to shake Evra’s hand and still hasn’t apologised for calling him “negrito” in  a game. Really? Yeah, And get this. Tevezis back at Man city. But he reckons Mancini treated him like a DOG! Really? Oh yeah, and Speed died. Oh!

Ha ha. Geddit? Yeah. He CAN'T WRITE. Ho ho ho

On it rolls. Like a shitty soap opera – sitting on the edge of anything resembling reality. A world where someone who claims to be unable to read and write is being touted as the genius who will lead the country to glory. A world where winning a few consecutive games with a ball actually is considered glory. A world where someone throws a hissy fit because they get banned for a few matches for something that would normally have someone sacked on the spot. A world where a manager walks out because they can’t effectively reward someone for having criminal charges hanging over them. A world where someone has such a complete lack of perspective that they think being paid 200 grand a week and then frozen out of a team for refusing to play is being treated like an animal.

So long and thanks for all the... I dunno.money?

The thing is. I’m not one of those people who hate football. I LOVE football. I love playing it. I love watching it. I even support a team. I go and see them, have done for 20 years. I can more than hold my own in those pub debates about who should play up front alongside Rooney or who blabblabla needs to bring in to step up and do blblblblbaaaaaah blabble. The magic of football is that you can usually throw a bunch of strangers together at some event, a wedding, a conference, a blind date – and the chances are that, whatever else they might not have in common, they can usually fall back on the beautiful game as some sort of lukewarm icebreaker. I know it’s shallow but jesus. if it’s a choice between telling someone what I do for a living for the umpteenth time or debating whether Mick McCarthy is a decent manager I’d rather go with Mickey talking anytime.

But FFS. It.is.only.game. Football is not more important than life and death. It’s something people do. For fun. There is only one thing in the world that is elevating football to this completely false pedestal and that it the obsession of the press. Once upon a time I used to check news on my team daily. I even used to submit articles to a football blog. Now I can’t even bring myself to read the back pages in the morning. And why do I need to? Anything happens in football and it spreads like wildfire. It’s usually all over the front pages … headlines screaming about Capello. Or it’s all over Twitter. With knuckle scraping racists vomiting abuse at the accounts of players like Evra and commentators like Collymore because they happen to be black. If Tevez lacks perspective maybe it’s because he’s been elevated to the status of a demigod by a drooling bunch of sport hacks and then demonised to the point of being Beelzebub himself by the very same hacks because he started to actually believe what they were saying in the first place. I mean even as I’m writing this there’s Harry, on the telly, talking up a part-time role as England manager. Looking a bit like my 90 year old nan. I only turned the news on to see the weather now it’s all Harry Redknapp and Glasgow rangers going into administration. Going into administration because they don’t want to pay a 9 million tax bill. That’s less than Tevez’s annual fucking salary!

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Kenny

Of all this the only thing deserving of attention is the racism claims. But even then the press are couching it as a “debate”. There is no need for debate here. There’s no need to draw a saga out for months on end unless you want to bleed the story dry and give even a hint of justification to the scum who think it’s OK. The one’s who think it’s “banter”  and start sentences with “I’m not racist but” or say “some of my best friends are black” – yeah. Best friends who hate your guts really because you’re an embarrassing racist. Football was close to stamping that out, if the press want to do one thing here they should make sure it doesn’t come back – and judging by what I’ve read directed at black footballers on twitter – we still have a long way to go.

Mrs Leveson’s Enquiry

OK SO! I finally buckled yesterday.

Well buckled isn’t the right word is it. I mean I was hardly under a stream of unrelenting pressure. I just … well … did what I wanted to I suppose.

What am I talking about?

The Leveson enquiry of course. The words on the tip of the tongue of every media blogger and commentator out there for as long as my junk smashed brane can remember.

By rights I should have been tuning into the live feed daily like a stupid salmon migrating home to spawn and die. It’s a chance to finally hold the press that I deride to account for all the godawful shit they make the public put up with. It’s covering everything: phone hacking, privacy invasion, celebrity stings, churnalism and all the other gutter spewing tactics the media resort to in order to bolster circulation and propogate their murky political agendas.

Yeah. I should be all over Leveson like bark on a tree. But it was only yesterday, after months of ‘meh’ that I actually took an interest.

“WHY???” I cry back to myself (punctuating each of the three question marks with a shrill little echo). Well two reasons. First I been buzzy. Like panicking myself into a fuzzy ball of vomit buzzy. EVERY DAY. When I started this blog weekly updates was the aim but fuck me that’s hard when ‘the man’ is out there slamming you into the coal face with a cricket bat every day. Jesus!

All work and no play makes me want to kill humanity one by one

But that’s not worth going into. Second is because the whole Leveson thang has left me feeling a bit ‘meh’. Perhaps it’s just that I got Leveson fatigue really quickly. Following @hackingenquiry on twitter (who bizarrely have an avatar resembling a highwayman’s mask) meant that my feeble feed of daily mush got flooded with bone dry platitudes.

So what is this? A mask? A tape? An old school instant camera film?

Platitudes that were compounded by tonnes of analysis and commentary from other twitter feeds. Add to that the ubiquitous live blogging and streaming feeds from the Guardian and it was like being smothered under a big Leveson shaped blanket. Even without paying any attention at all I felt I knew what was going on. Like when you don’t watch a soap opera for a year, then go back and the same characters are saying the same things in the same way.

Steve's looking a bit tired these days

The enquiry quickly lapsed into groundhog day with most of the people repeating the same sentiments. Only Leveson hasn’t learned to play piano and sculpt ice like Bill Murray. On top of that the man Leveson didn’t fill me with confidence. I’m prejudiced because whenever I hear the word Leveson it reminds me of the Mrs Levinson characters in a league of gentlemen, and it’s hard to respect someone when you have that in your head.

Would you let this man run a press enquiry?

Leveson also irked me when he said that he wouldn’t be drawn into a witch hunt.

These aren’t witches you idiot they’re journalists. A much more devious enemy. If you don’t hunt them down they’ll eat your SOUL

There have been highlights sure. The wronged celebs queuing up to vent their spleen. Cannon fodder car crash hacks like Paul McMullen checking in to patter out their hasty orisons. But til yesterday it didn’t grip me like a gristle.

Stay Classy Paul

WHY? (again with the shouting). Well. Dacre of course! The warm up acts were there to soften us up for the big bout. But in all honesty the Daily Mail Editor was a big draw. Finally a chance to see the nemesis of the left-wing media squirming in a chair under a rigorous cross-examination of righteous anger. What would happen? Would he melt under scrutiny? Would he reveal himself as a shape-shifting lizard intent on controlling humanity? Would he somehow evangellically convert all his critics into fans and secure some sort of Daily Mail led fourth Reich?

MY secret hope was for a Jonny Marbles style pie incident – but a pie secretly laced with Sodium Pentothal so that Dacre would be unable to help himself and the truth would come pouring out like a lumpy tearful haemorrhage leaving the mouths of the watching world agape as Dacre confesses to crimes we didn’t even know existed.

Yeah. Grant and McMullen were fun but Dacre was serious and far more likely to be entertaining than the bland and fully lawyered up Murdoch clan.

The weird thing about tuning into Leveson is that it’s actually a bit like listening to an audio book of a tabloid newspaper. But one that’s delivered in dry legalistic tones. Listening to Dacres warm up acts of Dan Wootton and Nick Owens was almost literally a list of celebrity gossip speculation being sombrely related from a transcript . Like… you know when they read out the  name of every person who died on 911 on the tenth anniversary? Well it was like that but without the emotional heartstring pulling sobs – instead a dry soulless narrative.  Oh. And also without people’s names being read out – but instead little titbits of celebrity tittle-tattle instead. So nothing like the 911 readings then. Bizarrely that’s more diverting than it sounds. Who could fail to stifle a giggle as cross examiners danced carefully around Kerry Katona’s Kocaine (sic) hell or as they drily read sweary transcripts speculating over the imaginary cosmetic surgery stories Chris Atkins made up for Starsuckers.

It was almost as though lesser journalists were just being called up to be laughed at for a bit at the ludicrousness of their profession then sent home chastened with the knowledge that what they engaged in was pretty stupid. When NOTW showbiz gossip Dan Wootton boasted that he kept a copy of the PCC code in his wallet at all times I had to laugh out loud.  

BIG BOX LITTLE BOX BIG BOX LITTLE BOX

Dacre himself was much more of a difficult beast to cage though. Unlike the others, he gave the impression that he actually believed in what he was doing. And that all this broo-ha-ha was little more than an irritating diversion from his day job of running the world. Any difficult question he could swat away like a bug by saying he didn’t have involvement or wasn’t in the office. Funny how editors are always out of the office when all the big stuff goes down. Funny how someone like Dacre takes personal and excessive credit for the Stephen Lawrence prosecutions – but had little or no involvement with legal actions from the likes of Neil Morrissey. Also funny how he can’t remember half the things he said about Hugh Grant but is happy to launch into a full apoplectic rage when picked up on his mendacious smear comments.

There were highlights – Dacre’s slip of the tongue when he implied that he sought to prevent legislation that would have made the UK the only country in the world that imprisoned journalists (erm – that would be “world” in Daily Mail terms of Dacre’s back yard then?) and the semantics of a conversation about whether turning on the bathroom light at night could cause cancer. However, Dacre’s appearance was ultimately disappointing. It was like having your grumpy old uncle over for Christmas Dinner – the one who is secretly an alcoholic and wants to be down the pub knocking back shorts instead of telling everyone what he got for Christmas and whether he believes Santa Claus exists.

Dacre highlights the problems of the Leveson enquiry to me. While the lower minions and hacks feel the full force of national ridicule in the face time Leveson grants them, the big guns are too busy, too savvy and too “mock” disinterested to give themselves away. Unless someone does start making up a Sodium Pentathol pie quickly Dacre, Murdoch et al will represent trawlers that the gulls can’t get Sardines from.

Zzzz Factor

Gah.

It’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in. Winter is on the way, even if we have been granted a last reprieve with the current weather. In September people stop basking in the evening light and go indoors to huddle round their televisions seeking some saccharin comfort from the cold through brightly coloured images flashing hope and warmth.

It’s time for the dirge of emotional manipulation that is X-Factor. I saw the first signs that it was back on air on twitter a few weeks ago. It wasn’t long before my wife realised it was back on too and there went my Saturday evenings. Like that. Keyser Söze style they were gone. Replaced with two hours of wallpaper music hooks that crescendo when another hopeful is granted a nod and a wink from four androids playing out pantomime roles. Or when another mentally ill contestant is wheeled out for the nation to collectively laugh at and humiliate like some Victorian freakshow.

Robots. All of em'

To say I hate X-Factor is something of an understatement. As a show it is worse in concept than dragons den, where a group of millionaires sit round destroying people one by one then, if they feel like it, they can step in to pick up the pieces for a relative pittance that gives them controlling interests in a business that they probably know will make them a tidy sum. Shows like this make me cry out loud for a special TV gun that you can shoot at the screen and actually hit people on the show. It should be the next gaming innovation. Imagine Duncan Ballatyne harrumphing dourly and then screaming in agony as a viewer shoots him in the leg from the comfort of their own living room.

But X-factor is worse. On Dragon’s Den I only want to shoot the Dragons. On X-Factor I want to cluster bomb the whole fucking set. Those people in the audience whose faces go agape when it turns out that a fat, old or funny looking person can actually sing!Shock horror! The four judges who pretend they actually care about anything other than their pay or exposure on the show. Playing to the audience or the stage like they’re delivering a Hamlet soliloquy in the West End, shedding crocodile tears about some imagined defining experience to add to the shows emotional impact. The contestants themselves whose only dream in life is to waste whatever talent they may have in being moulded into manufactured pop-stars-by-numbers churning out vacuous shit they’ve not even written til their sell by date runs out and they find themselves spat out the other side doing the club circuit and returning to their day jobs with nothing but wasted years to show for it.

When you see them in the gutter give them some pity

Then there’s the production values. Jesus. It’s like an exercise in brainwashing. Every aspect of the show. Narrative, back music, stories, contestant interviews. It’s all there for one purpose. To manipulate the viewer. To prompt an emotional response. To release a sufficient amount of endorphins in the viewing public that helps them forget that they’re stuck in their living room eating a TV dinner on a Saturday night with no cash, winter outside and in the midst of a period of economic woe. X-Factor is more than just an opiate for the masses. It’s a fuck-off huge needle full of brane anaesthetic that gets pumped straight into the eyeballs of millions of people every week through the airwaves. That makes my TV gun sound ever more plausible doesn’t it!

But more than anything else that I hate about X-Factor (and there’s a lot of hate there) I hate the way the press and media fawn over it. X-Factor has a hellishly long run. It blights the television on weekend evenings from September through to December, then signs off in time for Christmas so that Cowell & Co can knock out a money-spinning Christmas number 1 and the general public can turn their attention to blowing their meagre incomes on worthless trinkets, overeating and watching more mindless fare .

Now you may not realise that but this is nearly 4 months. Almost one-third of the year is devoted to this weekly practice of gawping at crooner wannabes and vicariously riding their emotional highs and lows even though you DON’T EVEN KNOW THEM. If X-Factor ran forever and you watched twice a week it you’d be devoting almost a years worth of evenings in every ten to X-factor. Think about a year’s worth of evenings and what you could do. Read a book. Cook a nice meal, go out, wash your fucking hair. Clean hair is way more important than eye-codeine.

But this four months of X-Factor is nothing compared to the year-long hysteria it generates in the British Press. For about 6 months before it starts screening we have the headlines screaming. Literally frothing from the tabloid gutter like overflowing sewage from a drain. Every year it’s the fucking same “who are the judges going to be” “Cheryl dropped” “Cowell not to appear”. This is a 6 month-long marketing ploy so cynically blatant that a marsupial can see through it. See that Koala-bear over there? The one eating leaves and climbing trees? He just told me that dropping Cheryl was nothing but a hysterical publicity stunt jumped on by the press to promote the show. But the story is still dragging itself kicking and screaming into the papers even now

THIS WAS IN MAY - THE STORY IS STILL RUNNING

Of course, usually once the show starts the press have plenty more to froth about. First the auditions. Where they poke people who seem to have mental health issues like Ceri Rees out for the pubic to bay over. Brilliant. The press gets to screech it’s disgust at this exploitation – all the while still promoting the show.

Then there’s the “boot camp” when the kiss and tellers come out to play … ooh look Lascel Wood (who is he?) did a porno…. FOR SHAME! The press go wild here as people no-one had ever heard of or cared about suddenly find their private lives and chequered past on display for all to see and tut at.

Then in the finals it’s all about the special guests showing too much flesh. Cue the Daily Mail outrage where they MUST SHOW EVERY PICTURE of Rihanna or Christina Aguilera’s X-rated set.

Daily Mail true to hypocritical form

Finally X-Factor season closes with the press dribbling like goons over who’s gonna get to number one. Oooh will another “rebellious” (but still big-label owned) act trump the X-Factor to number one? Have Sony just DOUBLED their potential Christmas week single sales?

I bet Simon Cowell cried all the way to the bank

Then there’s the slump. The diabetic coma of January after the press have squeezed all the pulp out of the show and sucked the bone marrow from every last contestant – and they focus instead on the final acts as they progress to “stardom” by topping the charts with ear-bleedingly awful set-piece trash written by middle-aged men for teenage girls to consume – before the circus starts again.

Now I know that half the people reading this will wonder aloud – why don’t you just turn it off or ignore if you don’t like it” – Well, you see it’s not that easy is it? I’ve discussed pressmosis before – the fact that you don’t have to watch something to know about it. The tabloid press cover X factor on their front pages for the best part of 4 months of a year. They cover X-Factor on other pages all year round. If you do a google news search on X-Factor in the UK in the last 24 hours you get 4,350 results. That’s 4,350 British stories about X-Factor in a single day. Try to follow the news and ignore the weight of that hype.

This is a lot of stories

 The other thing that annoys me is that there is a lot of news that people could be made aware of. Euro debt crisis, government cuts, famine in Africa, war in Libya, uprisings in the Middle East, floods in Pakistan (etc ad infinitum) – if the press devoted as much time for a few weeks to one of these subjects as they do to X-Factor in the same period of time then shirley, shirley, things would be just a little bit better in the world.

Cult of celebrity

Ok so.

Yeah. I been away. Sorry. I was gonna do a post on news & media when travelling. Fascinating stuff. Like the lazy 15 minute skit I saw on CNN in Hong Kong airport which focussed on US Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to be reunited with their pet dogs. God that was lazy. CNN just tapped into a YouTube channel and showed clip after clip of dogs and soldiers hugging. Like ‘you’ve been framed’ footage on a loop without the slapstick ending.

Or like Japanese TV. which.is.mental. Mornings seemed to consist of advertorials for face cream with ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots. But in this case before was IDENTICAL to after. In the evenings there was a game show where Japanese men wearing nothing but shorts stood around laughing like beavis and butthead while an older man randomly had one of them held down to administer painful electric shocks or agony inducing neck injections.

The only English channels I came across were news based. Oh and fashion tv which featured endless footage of thin people walking up and down badly lit catwalks wearing clothes. I couldn’t decide who this was targeting? In the broadest of stereotypes was it the long-suffering wife forced to kill hotel time while her husband was in meetings or was it the leery businessman wanting to look at images of women without having to buy in-hotel pornography.

Gah. Where’s the remote. I’ll even take BBC world or Sky News over all this.

Of course while I was away lots happened. Loads. Tripoli fell. I was in a hotel room waking up when reporters in green square were announcing the end of Gadaffi’s reign. In the flush of excitement they also revealed the extent to which our government has been lying to us. Unless they were telling fresh porkies (also likely to be true). For example I’d been under the impression that the US had stopped flying sorties months ago after Obama had announced the UK and France would be mounting the air campaign.

Not so according to Fox news anchors who proudly trumpeted that the US were actually the main reason for the rebels success by supplying drone attacks, sorties and air intelligence (see what I mean about lying I don’t know what the truth is now. Maybe Libya is a metaphysical state of mind where all our dreams come true). Another memory I have is of a ham-faced Hague explicitly stating that our involvement in Libya is limited to use of air power to protect civilians! Anyone else remember that fucker? Was I dreaming? I often confuse my dreams with the news now. So when Sky news beamed directly into my hotel room from Tripoli to say the UK had been flying a range of bombing missions on enemy targets and had deployed special forces to train and assist rebels I was like ‘eh’? Somewhere between shock and the complete laconic inability to be surprised by any lies our government and press tell.

So I’ve come back to a different world. Or so I thought. Actually I didn’t even think it. It’s the same old shit isn’t it?

Yeah. It’s the same. So here we go. What was the big issue with Qadaffi when I got back? Well the press were drooling like a weeping sore over his infatuation with Condoleezza Rice. As if that were a real name. Yeah. Kadaffi had apparently kept pics of her in a laminated book. FILTHY. How ironic that a man who tried to perpetuate his own cult of celebrity had fallen for another celenrity. His puffy, spongy face delighting in his love of one of America’s most high profile neo-cons (laminated pictures? Ugh!)

Yeah. The media loved reporting that as though it was weird that didn’t they. But why? I mean seriously? This is their aim in life. Fuck war. War is not regular. Celebrity is eternal.

Last Friday ES Magazine ran a fashion shoot. OK. So. Fair play. Fashion is fashion. People need clothes n’ting. What was the subject here though?

Well ES thought it would be *fun* to do a fashion shoot on the clothes that celebrity mothers wear when taking their kids to school.

No. I’m not joking. That intimate time where even the most publicity hungry slebs insist on having their kids faces pixellated out. THAT is exactly what the Standard was aiming for. LOOK as Elle McPherson or Gwyneth Paltrow walk their (pixellated) kids to school! SEE how you can walk your (unpixellated) kids to school wearing the same gear.

That made me almost physically sick. At least QKGadaffi kept his celebrity stalking on wipe-clean laminate!

Gets worse though. Sunday Times *style* section ran Suri Cruise as their top *mover*. Apparently she throws her look together like a young Helena Bonham Carter. SHE’S FUCKING FIVE YEARS OLD. She wears clothes. That’s it. GQKadaffi is looking less like a loon now. Compared to our mainstream press. Fuck it. I’ll take some Japanese comedy torture over this shit.

——cut to——–

Dreamily I awake.

I turn the telly on (is this a dream? Am I awake?)

People talking onscreen (lots of red. BBC news channel? Hell?)

There’s a man. He draws pictures in his sleep.

They sell. For thousands of pounds (noises. I’m awake? I’m dreaming? I’m dead?)

His pictures are sketchy. Here’s one of the star-spangled banner that looks like a child scribbled it. Here’s one of two sets of eyes (I’m dreaming. I am DREAMING!)

News presenter says something. I make it out….. “So. Do you know the people you draw in your sleep? Because that pair of eyes looks hauntingly like Her Royal Highness, Diana, the Princess of Wales” (I’m not dreaming. I’m awake. I wish I was dead.)