Category Archives: Uncategorized

The end of all things

Ok so. Last night was billed as the second biggest football event in the sporting calendar.

The culmination of two years of qualifiers, group stages, knockouts. On top of that there was history in the making as well. Spain could lift an unprecedented third major football trophy in a row.

This was it. The big one. How would a television heavyweight like the BBC cover this? Bearing in mind that only a week before they’d drowned us in footage of Gazza’s tears in a rabble-rousing montage of hyperbolic knee jerk inducing imagery so strong that it even had my dog barking along to God Save the Queen like a humble citizen.

The final itself didn’t disappoint. Even the neutral was swayed by the way that Spain’s tika taka approach ripped through the Italians. Four goals. Super Mario getting emotional. What a game!

Well. Unless you’re the BBC.

You see, it seems that the BBC think the tournament came to an end last week when England crashed out. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Europe and the world aren’t actually English, the Beeb didn’t give the impression that they gave a flying toss about this game and the pomp and ceremony that surrounded it.

Like sulky kids who want to take the ball home cos they’re not deployed up front they decided that the final of the European cup was barely worthy of their attention.

Let’s start with the magnificent pre-match closing ceremony. A chance for the hosting nations to shine and show the world that they really can throw a party. Forget the early skirmishes between fans, Ukraine & Poland want you to know they did a good job in their no expense spared appeal to the world.

Well. To most of the world. The Beeb decided all that gubbins was wayyyyy less interesting than Lineker, Shearer, Hansen et al indulging in a quick round of dull-as-dishwater pre-match analysis where they talked about subjects as inciteful as Spain’s playing style, the genius of Pirlo/Iniesta and the volatility of Balotelli.

If you wanted to watch the culmination of enough spending on entertainment by Poland & the Ukraine to rescue Greece (for an hour) then you had to do it through that precious resource known as the red button. Otherwise you just got to hear Alan Shearer telling us that Spain were a good team.

Want to see this or see what Alan Hansen is wearing?

Then there was the game itself. Blimey what a game eh? Enough to get anyone excited. European finals. Spain rampant. The world cup awaits? I figure the only person watching who wasn’t excited was the ever-depressing presence of co-commentator Mark Lawrensen, who appeared to spend the entire game moaning about players making too much of being tackled and wondering why Liverpool ever sold Alonso. At one point I thought I heard him swear and I wondered about all the kids who stayed up late to watch the final as accompanied by his depressing dirge.

That was when things got weird. Cos the BBC must have thought of that. They only fucking had a red button offering CBBC commentary for kids. In a bid to escape Lawro’s suicide-watch banter I switched up immediately.

The result was a three-way-amphetamine-pumped-see-saw between unwitting genius, absolute banality and a nihilisitc absence of anything that had me laughing, cringing and wondering where the respect for the tournament had disappeared to in equal measure.

The CBBC presenters weren’t so much commentating, but having a conversation about football generally. But not a conversation you have in seasoned opinionated pub talk terms. A conversation you might have with someone who wants to know what football is but no-one knows in the conversation. So you just end up asking each other stupid questions until someone is brave enough to change the subject or physically kill the other two.

They barely noticed when Torres scored as they were having an argument about how to explain the offside rule. It was like listening to three twenty-year old Alan Partridges on student radio go at it. In fact my listening was greatly enhanced by imagining them as wearing Alan Partridge masks.

This image haunts my dreams now

Suddenly the football genuinely didn’t matter. It had been superseded by a farce that wouldn’t have looked amiss in The Thick of It. At one point a CBBC commentator pointed to the prophetic powers of a watcher who had texted in to say “Spain should win because Paella and Nachos are better than Pasta and Pizza” there then ensued a small debate about whether Nachos were Spanish. At some point Spain scored again but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered any more. The football was an afterthought. Farce was the true winner and society as we know it is approaching a spectacular climax of irrelevance.

The contempt shown by the media for any tournament when England crash out is encouraging though. Roll on the Olympics when we can hopefully expect to see the red button offering up the cast of in the night garden making excitable noises during coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies.

Anything’s got to be better than Sebastien Coe!

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Sinking ships

Gah. Just saw that James Murdoch’s resigned from News International

Had a brief moment of “whoop” before the stilted reality of it hit me,

I mean… So what?

So fucking what?!

The king is dead eh! Long live the king.

Those of us hoping that scratching the Murdoch name from the taint of the NI stable would herald some new utopian era of reporting, where journalists stop going through bins and making up saucy kiss and tell fantasies are likely to be sorely disappointed.

With all the Leveson revelations gushing out of the enquiry like a burst sewage pipe you’d think that there would be a news revolution taking place! You’d think that James Murdoch wouldn’t just be quitting – but that he’s be committing ritual suicide along with all the unscrupulous hacks that he gave a voice to. You’d think his dad, Ruprecht, would be willing to appear on the telly draped in a costume made from the skin and hair of a sacrificial Rebekah Brooks offering to give his power and fortune to charity while he ekes out the rest of his days as a hermit in a cave with just lizards for company (step up Cameron and Clegg).

Yeah. We’re finding out what we knew already. That NoTW was like the tip of an iceberg –  but an iceberg made of frozen shitstorm drifting perilously close to the good ship newscorp. That power grabbing Fox-news-toting, king-making, phone-tapping vessel is already springing a few leaks – lets watch it go!

Problem is that Ruprecht and his son can see this. They’re like puppet lizard masters aren’t they. NoTW scandal? Easy… close the fucker down. Relaunch the Sun on Sunday! And guess what – you’ve just got streamlined your editorial staff – made huge cost-savings and are still tapping into exactly the same market. Man – nothing gets past these guys does it.

That’s what’s so dispiriting about the news of James being jettisoned. The stink that Leveson is releasing into the atmosphere is fetid… far too fetid for ickle James, who doesn’t want his name mixed up in that. Much easier to jetpack him out of there. Then what? Simples… sell the lot.

News Corp has bigger fish to fry and they know print media is dying a slow death. Why not just end the family link to it all and let the world laugh at Rebeckah and her police horse while you quietly get the fuck out and laugh all the way to the bank.

Meanwhile the knee jerker will still go out and buy their daily fix of tits and brainwashing – just like they all queued up to do for the Sun on Sunday – as if hacking a dead girls phone for a story had never happened in the first place!

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.

STRIKE

OK so. I been away n’ting. Sorry.

Well – I’ve not just been away – I  mean it’s been almost three weeks since I put anything up. I guess I’ve not found that much objectionable about the news lately. Or maybe I’ve just not had time to watch much news. I’ve been hellas busy in my day job. Still am. That panic inducing busy-ness that means I can’t seem to spare a thought for anything but work. WORK. Work Dammit. Work. The thing you do to live. And living… what’s all that about? Isn’t life what you just *do* before you die? And you work just to ensure you can live? Jesus that’s depressing isn’t it.

Even more depressing is the fact that we’re in such a hole anyway. I mean. What happened there? Oh yeah. Capitalism ran riot didn’t it. Caused a massive overextension, reckless lending, reckless borrowing all the cogs and animal spirits and all that shizzle went a bit mad. Now we’re all paying. Working to live with nothing but more work to look forward to. Pension ages rising so that we’ll probably clock out one last time and then get a taxi to a care home or hospice to shuffle off our mortal coil – cared for by people who are working well into their sixties or seventies themselves. Meanwhile, of course, the financial sector will recover, banking bonuses will come back and we’ll still see the super rich earning enough wealth to retire in their thirties while the rest of the grunts work off the debt they rang up in the heady days of the noughties.

Maybe bankers are an easy target. But My ire was prodded by this Evening  Standard article the other night which talked about how *hard* things had become for bankers. Gawd fucking bless them – they might not even be getting six or seven-figure bonuses this year? Hell. They might not get ANY bonus to add to their six or seven-figure salary. Times are hard…. REALLY hard, when you read quotes from Cityboys like

“I think there’s an air of realism in the City, hard as that may be to believe. There’s a lot of downsizing going on. We’re back in M&S suits, though the Charles Tyrwhitt shirts are still de rigueur.”

Awww diddums and all that jazz. Oh – but what’s this? An article from just one paltry week before the bankers were all crying into their flaming ferraris? This wonderful little ditty. If you can’t follow the link here’s the tagline:

Banker’s £37,000 night of lapdancing

Lapdancing club Spearmint Rhino had its biggest spending customer last week. A banker, who arrived alone at the club’s Tottenham Court Road venue, went on to blow an astonishing £37,000 on dancers, Cristal champagne and food before disappearing into the night.

That’s right. On the one hand we’re being fed the whole “we’re all in this together” pap then, on the other, we’re seeing consumption levels at the sickening level of vulgarity that we’re being told died with the credit crunch.

The facts remain pretty simple. There is still loads of money in the world. The rich are still getting richer. Corporate profits are on the up. Prada announced a 75% increase in quarterly profits today. Yes. Prada. The luxury goods firm

God. I wish I could strike. I really do. I wish I could take a day, stand outside my offices and rail against all those high and mighties who think that we should be digging in the dirt for worms while they sup Cristal off a lap dancers belly laughing about how they fooled the world. But I can’t strike. I work in the private sector. I don’t have a union. I don’t have anyone to represent my views.

But the people who can strike? Well that’s a different matter. They have all my backing. If they can get something… anything to improve their lot then great. If they can our government to start targeting the people who havethe money to bail out their own errors then all the better.

Look - peaceful happy smiling community. I love this

I love strikers. They remind me that people still care. People still stand up to be counted. There’s a buzz about it all. A sense of community we thought we’d lost in the 80s when the culture of “me me me” really started to hit home under Thatcher. And in these times of hardship I don’t see how anyone could begrudge strikers from finding their voice to tell our government to try picking on someone else if they want to keep their accounts in order. Like… maybe the people who are largely responsible but who still seem to be able to spend 37 grand on lapdancers and booze in a single night.

Of course, not everyone loves strikers. It’s a political hot potato isn’t it. How many times do you hear people moaning “they should just get back to work! I’ll have to work til I’m 100, why shouldn’t they” – how nice and warm. Instead of moaning these people might be better placed realising that they wouldn’thave to work til they were already dead if they had the opportunity for collective bargaining.

So these kids were striking to end child labour. Should we hate them?

But this is a newstantrum. Not a peopletantrum. So… the Daily Mail hates strikers. Why? I don’t know. Today they ran the headline:

Yes. Actually I do.

Well 2 million people can’t be wrong can they Paul? But whatever. You’ve made your point – lets just forget it. Let it go. Yeah?

No! Of course not. Anyone daring to venture to the home page of the daily mail today will be almost physically assaulted by a stream of strikehate. here are all the key headlines:

Heathrow has never been more efficient! Passengers’ glee as border agency strike ‘SPEEDS UP queues at passport control’

The strike is on: Millions of parents forced to stay at home as the majority of schools close and routine surgery is cancelled

Misery for the sick as thousands of NHS operations are cancelled due to strikes and staff take to the picket lines

‘I’m not picking a fight with anyone’: As millions of public sector workers walk out over pensions Osborne goes on the defensive

The private sector can no longer afford to indulge state workers who, for too long, have got away with murder

Overkill? Lets not forget that Daily Mail poster boy and all round strike-hater Gove still has this amusingly embarrassing pic of him standing on a picket line going round… people in glass houses and all that.

I bet he spat at scabs too

Break

Newstantrum is having a few days break from the news in a galaxy far far away. He’ll be back as soon as rage mounts again.

Grisly but gripping

Ok. So the news. Yeah? The thing I’m here to moan about?

Well I’m starting to think it doesn’t actually exist except as some sort of unobtainable ideal. A concept used to justify theoretical jousting. Like the way ‘perfect competition’ underpins the machinations of global capitalism and a ‘socialist utopia’ is the aim of well-intentioned left leaners like myself. These things don’t exist, except in the writing and theory of those who expound their system, but people still build stuff up around them anyway.

Here's a picture of Thomas More. The first Anarchist

The news is the same. It sits there on this high horse of dispassionate objective reporting which throws a thin veil over emotive string-pulling and dedicated editorial agendas.

Ok so I’m not saying anything new here am I? I mean this is largely the point of my blog? To rail against the inaccuracy and inability of the media to even attempt to stick to the values they uphold. But when you have an event like the M5 crash at the weekend you really only hope that the news can do its job unambiguously and actually report the facts.

So when I turn on the news to find out what’s going on why am I subjected to reportage that is so horrifically exploitative that I need to turn it off before I smash my telly into a heap of glass and metal?

You can see twisted metal all over the internet so instead I'll just put a picture of some kittens in cups

I didn’t dare switch sky on. The sky coptor would no doubt be out showing twisted wreckage with a sombre voice-over describing every injury with the morbid relish of a jackanory narrator in an abattoir (I’m thinking of Kenneth Brannagh’s running commentary to the Great War in colour). But the BBC was no better. In many ways it was worse. Reportage of this event. Which killed seven and injured fifty-one was akin to a dramatisation, or an episode of casualty. Hyberbole narrative interspersed with meaningless but emotionally charged vox pops and amateur footage shot on the mobile phones of passengers driving the other way is surely not the way to report am event as news. But that’s what they did.

You could taste the saliva of the reporter as he exclaimed the word ‘fireball’ over and over again. You could imagine tearful viewers all over the country aimlessly sympathising with eyewitness accounts of horror and heroism. Then there was the footage. Grainy images of flames and smoke and the audible ‘oh my gods’ of the person filming it. No doubt slowing down to gawp before pressing on to their destination with a story to tell their friends.

Whenever this happens there is a human angle. That human angle is the loss of life and injury. The sheer aggregate is surely enough. People should realise that seven deaths indicates a very bad crash. But the news only seems to want to press this home with individual accounts.

Vox pops are the dirtiest and laziest form of media journalism around. News reporters unable to garner intelligent insight from proper sources and insight will grab a few rentamouths and use them as buffer to fill the airwaves. As an exercise in journalism it’s probably diverting for political reporters to give a “street view” of events in parliament. It’s also acceptable to use in local news or human interest stories. Those people walking round town centres with a microphone asking what you think of the new one-way system? They don’t care what you think of the new one way system – they just want some “real” person to spout something listenable about it. That’s fine. That’s a vox pop! 

The problem is that vox pops have grown now to straddle all the news, not just the trivial. So when we have a disaster as upsetting as multiple deaths in a motorway crash we cannot get through the event without an intensely personal angle being crowbarred in. Seven dead and fifty-one injured is just not considered to have enough impact. Journalists using the book of revelations as their source material for narrative to the accident still doesn’t drive it home. Nor do the horrific images of twisted metal and burning cars. The press need to make it personal. We need to hear people talking about WHAT THEY SAW and HOW THEY FELT.

Now if I’d been in an accident and seen lots of people injured and dying the last thing I’d want to do is relive it. Let alone relive it in a pre-recorded interview in the comfort of my own living room. Whenever you see a vox-pop like this try to imagine how it’s arranged. The journalist will approach a survivor and ask them for an interview. The survivor will agree (why?). The journalist will set a time and a place and send a camera crew round to ask some questions. Very cold, very dispassionate, nothing like the stated aim of a vox-pop. Even the stuff they pick up at the scene of an accident is usually just gawpers looking to get on camera. The same people you probably see in the background pulling faces, while reporters sombrely report the number of deaths.

For the print media human interest can become even more cynically delivered. The Daily Mail today ran a front page focussing on one person, in a coma, orphaned by the crash. Forget the seven deaths. Lets focus on one person and what she’s lost. A young lady. Just so we can get a picture of a pretty young lady (in a coma) on our front page. How very sensitive. To seek to give a “face” to an accident that claimed seven lives and then decide exactly what face that should be in terms of your core readership.

Shame on you Daily Mail (again)

Of course the “whys” of the accident seem to take second stage to the human angle. In the fallout people are asking if smoke from a local firework display caused the accident. Well maybe it did. Or maybe people were driving too fast and recklessly? Occam’s razor would hint more towards the latter. Our roads regularly have accidents caused by people driving faster than they should. But since the press are largely supportive of proposed legislation to raise (not lower) speed limits this sort of thing gets brushed under the carpet a little.

Blaming the firework display is much more expedient for now. Although the Daily Mail should be careful here. I can imagine the headlines next year – when the deaths and injuries are long forgotten “Elf and Safety Madness Cancels Charity Firework Display – Local display cancelled because of proximity to roads” – Think I’m joking? The Daily Mail ran an article earlier this year blaming school closures for a pupil dying after being struck by a falling branch – despite previously running a campaign railing against “elf and safety nazis” for advocating the pruning back of dangerous trees.

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.