Lady Gaga, The X Factor And THE CHILDREN

I talked about this kind of things the other week when I addressed the topic of Miley Cyrus and her controversial change in image. My verdict was fairly simple: we shouldn’t tell her how she should dress, as it’s her choice, and since it’s the responsibility of parents to stop their kids from watching it if they don’t want them to what Cyrus did was harmless. It was also cynical, and the whole thing played out in Cyrus’ favor anyway. This, however, is slightly different, a performance by Lady Gaga on The X Factor. This is an image from the performance:

Lady Gaga

Apparently 200 people thought that this was bad enough, before the watershed, that it needed reporting to Ofcom. First, I just want to express my surprise that people who watch The X Factor have thoughts at all. Second, I want to ask a question: is there any point in protecting children from this level of sexuality any more? The music industry is just one of many that is now following the mantra ‘sex sells’ religiously, and as a result we are surrounded by imagery not much less extreme than this. As far as I can see, the only way you are going to protect the innocence of children is to shut them off from the outside world completely, which is damaging in itself. We live in a more liberal society where standards are much more relaxed than they used to be, and the transition to it would be a lot easier if people didn’t make it while kicking and screaming. It’s something we have to adapt to.

The point I’m trying to make here is, basically, that screaming ‘THINK of  the CHILDREN’ at every little thing will get tiring and ineffective and will take up all of your time. If you didn’t want your kids to watch it, you should have sent your kids out of the room, but that isn’t the solution. Your kids are going to see more and more of this in the future, age regardless, and the best approach would be to get a healthy attitude to it. Then your children might also get a healthy attitude to it, which is really the best that you can hope for.

This doesn’t change the fact that the use of women (and men, to only a slightly lesser degree) as sex objects to promote products in industry is wrong, but it’s not wrong because it’s taking away the innocence of children. I think it’s wrong because it patronizes the audience (particularly the men who are treated by the media as apes who need to be kept slightly horny all the time in order to enjoy stuff) and only seeks to reinforce gender stereotypes. But that’s an issue that I will address some other time. For now, I advise that you take a more liberal approach to this stuff with regards to your children, making sure to let them know that these images and stereotypes are not true in the real world, and don’t watch The X Factor.

The Problem With Modern Media: A Summary

Well, in essence, it’s this:


These days I use the BBC News website to get my news, but I used to use Yahoo! News as it was more convenient. The difference is marked:
‘Your Toddler Is Probably Unlocking Your Mobile Phone Right Now!’ vies for my attention on the right hand side of the Yahoo! News homepage, while the BBC shows features with titles like ‘Love vs. Hate’ and ‘Breaking Barriers’. You see this kind of thing increasingly throughout the internet in the form of adverts, spam and ‘news’ articles, and I think that it undermines the credibility of media on the Internet as a whole. This is why the BBC is important.

To all of these sites that put up these redundant articles I ask this: if your interest is clearly on getting more views, and not providing accurate and important information, why should we trust you to keep us informed? It’s an issue that should be addressed, if only for our sanity.

A Little Humor Before The End

Tomorrow is the start of another half-term at school, and today marks the last day of my week off. It’s not great for you or me: I have to go back to school and do school-related stuff, and as a result my blogging will probably become even less frequent. So I thought I would share this for a little amusement before I have to go back.

New Order title used in Manchester United newsletter

From a Manchester United fan newsletter about young players. It’s probably just an innocent mistake and not indicative of problems of Nazism among Manchester United supporters, so I think we can just sit and laugh at this one. Especially since it is laughing at Manchester United, something that I, as an Arsenal fan, thoroughly approve of.

Football And Me: An Introduction

My friends tend to find this the most surprising aspect of me: I’m actually a football fan. Yep, I follow the scores and the team news and have been to quite a few football games (only when local, admittedly, but I’m not spending large sums of money on it). It’s a subject that I quite like to talk about, and be knowledgeable about. But why?

Why would I be football fan? I’m a liberal, a nerd, a pale and distinctly unfit individual who sees no real point to sport in general. Football should represent the antithesis of who I am, surely. And then there are the many, many problems with the sport: this is the sport where the players earn thousands, if not millions more, than people like heart surgeons who actually perform difficult and important services. This is the sport where the players become the role models of young boys despite being infamously poorly educated and prone to things like, for example, biting other players. This is the sport where money, which we kept being told is in short supply nowadays, is thrown in its millions into making a football player change shirts and play somewhere else. And let’s not forget the football culture, the racist, xenophobic and homophobic chants that emanate from the crowds, the countless riots over the years, the deaths that football fans have inflicted on each other. There are places where supporting the wrong football team could get you hurt. And for what? Paying an insane amount of money to see a bunch of men kick a ball about for ninety minutes. It’s awful. But I still like it.

The point is that, if you can separate yourself from the terrible footballing culture and just pay attention to it as a pastime, being a football fan can actually be quite rewarding in a number of ways. First and foremost, it provides a foothold into most social situations. I am a socially-awkward person, and starting conversations with people was always a problem I had.  But among teenage boys the subject of football is universal and is constantly giving you new things to talk about, and since taking football more seriously I have found navigating social situations to be much simpler as I have an instant topic of conversation to bring up. It also gives you a little thing to look forward to when times are bad, a little glimmer of tension and excitement at the weekends that you can think about while you’re suffering through the week. Football is a distraction, but that’s the point. It provides me with something to think and talk about other than the big things that dominate my life, like school and classical guitar playing and so on. Physically, it has done nothing for me; mentally, it’s had a big and positive impact.

So, to all those smart people out there who sneer at football supporters for being morons (I know you exist, one of you is my best friend), I say that you aren’t considering the wider, positive impacts of football culture and how it is, in fact, compatible with a life of being thoughtful and cultural. Football already has many stereotypes: let’s end the one about stupid, thuggish football fans, OK?


Oh, and in case you were wondering…


Lapin: What Pat Robertson Said

You’re probably going to find my blogging on wingnuts quite tiresome after a while: due to the lack of substance to their arguments, they tend to repeat them or copy someone else’s in the hope that repeating the same falsehood over and over again will somehow make it true. Example: Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Wait a minute. When have we heard a wingnut coming to the false conclusion that secular humanism led to the Nazis? Why, just the other day of course, when the same basic drivel was spewing from Pat Robertson like sewage from an old pipe. And, much like the sewage, this idea is full of shit. I would be offended were I not laughing at the stupidity, claiming that my personal philosophy caused both the Nazis and the Soviet Union. The nerve!

But if  multiple people believe it, I must respect their beliefs and so offer no criticism of them whatsoever. Because, y’know, that’s restricting their religious freedom, and that’s what the Nazis did.


Truly, We Live In A Broken Country

Here in Britain we have many problems: the economy, the education system, the healthcare system, the weather. Well, I say that, but obviously in terms of all of those things Britons are in fact some of the most privileged people in the world. But since everyone in and outside of our country has bought into the idea that we’re just a shitty little island where the rain washes away all hope and the shards of our broken dreams, arguing against this idea seems a little pointless and a bit too patriotic for my tastes. Rather pessimistic and cynical than right-wing, right? So instead I’m going to go with the flow and provide evidence that this country is in a tragic state of affairs, with the very psychology of its residents broken almost beyond repair.

Royal Baby

This is a screenshot from the home page of the BBC News website. This page is supposed to present the most important and current news so that anybody visiting the site will be immediately briefed on what they really need to know. But what we are seeing instead is a link to an article to do with the christening of the royal baby. In fact, this news is so important that it has a prominent picture and links to two complementary articles and even a video. Compare this to, say, the presentation of the article about the new chief of NHS England, an incredibly important news story given our recent healthcare issues. Compare this to the presentation of the revealing of British links to al-Shabab: an issue of national security, no less. In other words, look at how the editor of the page thinks that the average Briton will prioritize their news. Seriously, what the hell? Thinking only of the small picture, the royal christening is not that big of a deal, to think nothing of the big one. How twisted is the prevailing view of the British people that the editor of the page thought that we would prefer to read about the christening of a baby than the future of our health service? This is why we can’t have nice things; too many people care too much about the bloody royal family.

Of course, of course. In these depressing, uncertain times, we don’t want to hear more bad news. We don’t want to read about advances in science leading to the discovery of a new galaxy. We don’t want to read about the piracy charges against Greenpeace protesters being dropped. We want something hopeful, like the endearing sight of an innocent young child who will know nothing of the hardships of life by virtue only of his blood. We want to read about the life story of a child who, as a member of one of the world’s most pointless royal families, will probably serve no purpose whatsoever for the entirety of his life other than enjoying his time as yet another obscenely privileged figurehead who makes us the laughing stock of all the other nations who realised the absurdity of having a royal family in a democracy centuries ago. That is want we want to know about, yes sir.

For the sake of fairness, I will point out that this was not the first article the BBC put up on its list on the homes page. It was, in fact, third, beaten by the Grangemouth situation hands down and being below the US surveillance claims, though as you can see the advertising for the royal baby article is much more elaborate. This doesn’t change the fact, however, that having an article about the christening of a baby prominently displayed on the front page of a popular and important news website is seriously messed up.

After all this hype the kid had better be, like, Jesus, or a lot of people are going to be sorely disappointed