Archive for February, 2009

God, is there anything worse than a preachy celebrity putting the world to rights? Well, yeah, actually, and I’m pretty sure 13 year old Chadian kids being permanently disabled by being shot in the legs is one of them.

Our saviour!

Our saviour!

But I wouldn’t know about one particular Chadian child if George Clooney hadn’t met him recently. This piece in the New York Times briefly shows how effective the visits of celebs to war zones can be – as the writer points out, the only reason he’s writing this column (and we’re reading it) is because it’s partly about a visit to a refugee camp with Mr C.

Now, I do find it very irritating when some celebs get preachy. I find it insane that Angelina Jolie is invited to become a member of the hugely influential think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations with the likes of Alan Greenspan, Condoleezza Rice and well-known warmongerer Henry Kissinger, apparently purely on the basis that she’s hot, has travelled a bit, her six children were all born outside of America and she once won an Oscar for overacting in a crap film. And I find it particularly annoying that Bono lectures governments about how much aid they should be giving to the developing world when he (a very, very rich man, lest we forget, who we can assume wasn’t exactly panicking about paying his bills) went to elaborate lengths to avoid paying his taxes when the artists’ tax exemptions were changed. Where exactly does he think aid money comes from? The magic money rainbow? God?

But at the same time, isn’t it better when celebs try to use their powers for good (as they see fit – I’m not sure how “good” the Council of Foreign Relations can be with the likes of Greenspan and Kissinger on board)? Isn’t it better than just sitting back and smugly counting their money like an idiot? Surely if any of us became fabulously wealthy and famous, we’d at least try and do something for the causes we believe in? At least they care about something, in their often idiotic way, and in most cases the worst thing they do is annoy us. Some, like George Clooney, of them don’t even do that, most of the time (I’ll make an exception for that smug Oscar acceptance speech in which he praised his fellow stars for being so liberal). Ultimately, I think it’s always better for people to be politically engaged and informed rather than apathetic – whether they’re celebs or not. Although if it turns out in a few years that Angelina Jolie’s suggestions for US foreign policy are responsible for plunging the world into chaos, I reserve the right to change my mind…

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blogawards1Being the modest souls that we are, it didn’t occur to us to mention that we made the shortlist for the 2009 Irish Blog Awards. They take place tonight in Cork, and sadly none of us will be there, mainly because we didn’t think we’d make the shortlist. We’d like to say a big thank you to all those lovely judges who voted for us, and to our fellow nominees, the brilliant Blather.net, the ever up-to-date Dublin Blog, A Tangled Web and the excellent The Blog Pound (who must be favourites for the gong).

We’d like to wish all the nominees in every category tonight the very best of luck, particularly to some of our favourites, including Medbh, Annie, Fustar, Fatmammycat, Rick (who’s also the host), Beaut.ie, Red Mum, On the Record, Suzy, Ginger Pixel, Lottie and Fiona.

Thanks also to Grandmaster Mulley who organises this whole shebang.

And if all that isn’t enough to swell our heads, Shane Hegarty has mentioned us in today’s Irish Times as one of ’20 of Ireland’s most essential blogs’. Huzzah!

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node3So apparently NASA want you to name Node 3, a new part that is due to be added to the International Space Station. All sounds terribly easy, particularly as they give you several options and the chance to submit your own. You can choose from the rather dull ‘Earthrise’ (sounds like a space age alarm clock), ‘Venture’ (too internet business-y), ‘Serenity’ (must be some Joss Wheedon fans in there) or Legacy (meh, boring). Or there’s the opportunity to use your own imagination… which coud be very interesting if you read up on what Node 3 will consist of. The showers and bathroom will be housed there and it will also contain:

“A Water Recovery System (WRS) and Urine Processor Assembly (UPA), which take waste water from the station’s shower and toilets and purify it, separating any contaminants and making it safe for the crew to drink.”

What’s that now? A place to purify pee? That will then be treated and drank again? Holy kidney purification Batman!

Not only does that sound altogether icky, I’m only hoping that some bright sparks will draw on this information as inspiration for Node 3’s new name. No doubt the powers that be will go for something named after a letter from the Greek alphabet or something from mythology, but I’ve already helpfully thought of some names. Here’s my shortlist.

1) Captain’s Bog
2) Dionypiss (you know, like the Greek God)
3) Instead of pinching Joss Wheedon’s ‘Serenity’ title – call it ‘Weed-on’ after the man himself.

Any more suggestions? Indulge me, it’s Friday and I’m feeling juvenile and scatalogical.

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jadegoodyThe Anti-Roomers on the news that Jade Goody is dying of cancer and plans to live out her remaining time in the public eye. We’d love to hear your thoughts, feel free to jump in in the comments section.

LEIGH: Sweet Lord. Try as I might, I can’t stop rubbernecking the whole sorry saga that is Jade Goody’s impending demise. Any mum of two dying is awful; a 27-year-old mum of two dying, after getting a number of regular smears no less, is just horrendously tragic. But there’s something about the way this is playing out in the media that makes me want to rustle up a buttery bucket of popcorn. In a previous incarnation, I worked in British broadcasting ended up meeting Jade some years ago. She was effervescent, chatty, upbeat (playing the dumbass card for all it was worth, but hey ho). The world will most certainly be a less colourful place without her in it. But she lived by the unpredictable, two-faced sword that was reality TV and now she seems poised to die by it. Like most people, I initially thought it was PR spin gone too far, but it turns out she’s genuinely dying.
Sad stuff altogether, but I for one am finding this whole idea of Jade dying on camera completely preposterous. Max Clifford seems to be at the helm of things, for a start. The entire thing feels like an overblown soap opera (complete with its own Ken-Doll hero in the form of Jack Tweed. A tenner says the gormless teen-basher will be made into a fucking national hero out of this. Christ). And where’s her mum throughout all this? Could she not ‘negotiate’ her way into all of this? There’s talk that Jade is a willing participant in this bizarre soap opera because she wants to ‘provide for her kids’ – God knows, I’m sure she’s not doing it to hang onto what’s left of her celebrity status. But surely there is another way for all this to unfold? I guess my problem with the whole thing is that if you know you have a couple of months to live, why do it with a fucking camera crew in tow? Surely your priority should be spending genuine quality time with your family, not doing talking heads on how shitty it all is and making sure the camera gets all the proper action. I’ve worked in TV; even being the subject on a fly-on-the-wall documentary takes a veritable shedload of energy and effort. It’s not a million miles away from the way celebrity weddings have been forever tainted; they’re happy enough to let the editor of OK! magazine dictate the terms of their big day, pissing off friends and family in the process… and all for a fee.

It would be lovely to think that there is another ending for this story other than the one ending that seems by now inevitable. But my God, I’ve seen more of Jade Goody this past fortnight than I have seen pretty much anyone else in the universe. If this is the start of a new celebrity trend I will kick my own head in. 

HONORIA: What was most shocking for me was the disbelief factor, the kind of sense of denial that she was actually dying. It felt like the little boy who cried wolf. Not on Jade’s part but more on the sensational media’s part. The headlines that read ‘Jade may only  have months to live’ washed over me in the same way that ‘Amy Winehouse may be dying’ headlines did. The way the celebrity-hounding media can make a mountain out of a pre-cancerous cell made me think that somehow she didn’t really have cancer and she’d be totally recovered in a year’s time and making another reality show. But that’s not the case and it looks like she has only a matter of weeks to live. It goes to show how dangerous our sensationalist media is. One good thing to come out of this truly tragic story is that smear tests have increased massively in the UK due to the exposure Jade has given ovarian cancer.

The media has always had a love/hate relationship with Jade Goody, but the criticism of her decision to die in the public eye is shrill and judgemental. Goody has lived a chunk of her short life on screen, so why shouldn’t she be allowed to die there? If Jade had never become famous, she would have lived out her illness (suffering just as much) in anonymity with no means to provide for her kids. A job in any other field other than the hoopla of reality celebsville would have forced her to quit by now for treatment, rest and hospital stays. But doing what she does – being Jade Goody 24/7 – has allowed her the freedom to make money while being cared for, albeit so publicly. There are plans to film her wedding this Sunday. Some will deem it car crash Lady Di TV and turn it off, others will follow every morbid second of the story til the last. Either way, Jade will have snaffled a sizeable sum for her two sons, giving her one less obstacle to maneouvre around in the last months of her life.

PENNY CENTURY: There’s never been anyone in British culture quite like Jade. Made famous by reality TV, she built a career purely based on being her loud, gormless self, which is basically why she was a hate figure even before she disgraced herself with her racist behaviour in Celebrity Big Brother. Which is presumably why commenters on the Guardian’s Comment is Free this week felt it was fine to say things like “At least I won’t have to see her face anymore” when it was announced that she is dying of cancer, at the age of 27. I do instinctively feel there’s something distasteful about her stated plan to live out her last weeks in the public eye – but then death isn’t tasteful. And although, like Leigh, I can’t understand why someone would want to spend the end of their life with a camera crew in tow, Jade really is doing this to make as much money as possible for her young children. Only someone with a heart of stone could remain unmoved by her declaration that she wanted enough time to ensure her sons are well provided for and to write letters about their life together “because they might forget me. And I can’t bear the thought of that.” Jade isn’t the first person to die in public, and she won’t be the last. Respectable broadsheets have long featured columns by writers facing a terminal illness. So why is Jade different? Because she’s “common”. Because she’s easy to sneer at and hard to respect. “A lot of this is about class,” said TV presenter (and cancer survivor) Trisha Goddard in Sunday’s Observer. “It’s all right for someone clever like John Diamond to write and be brave and self-deprecating, but who is this awful kid who wants to die on camera? You want her to keep her dignity? Sling her a quarter of a million then and she can close her front door.” Very true.

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Who’s the daddy?

I watched the story of Alfie Patten, 13, and his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman, 15, unfold over the last week. The two kids had a baby and now it emerges that there are two other teenagers claiming paternity. It’s turned into a Jeremy Kyle-esque DNA test fiasco that’s now set to play out in the press.  

There’s also a sinister element emerging of Chantelle-as-predatory-slapper and Alfie as innocent boy-child. But clearly these were just two kids with little sex education or knowledge of consequences. Or maybe they’re vying for the much-desired fame/infamy that is the one true goal of all people of that generation – a spread in that day’s red tops. I also find it a bit strange that this story is in the papers – who went to the papers with it and what was their motivation? There is nothing unique about this case.

I did find it slightly disturbing that such a young girl would have slept with so many boys in the window of time that it was possible for her to get pregnant in, but at the same time I was sexually active when I was 15. But I sure as hell made certain that I had studied the crap out of my biology book, which explained the reproductive system and I chose the time of my cycle where it was virtually impossible for me to get pregnant and I used a condom.

At that age, I was simply terrified of the idea of getting pregnant – mainly because I didn’t understand how it all happened. My grandmother once told me over the opening credits of Look Who’s Talking about the dangers of sperm and how I should be very careful around that stuff, and especially make sure not to let any of it get on me or in the vicinity of my thighs.

I come from a family that didn’t really discuss sex. If I asked any questions, I was given a fair and honest answer, but mostly I would have been too mortified to raise such a topic of conversation as a teenager. I left the room when Bodyform ads came on. I was that teenager. But I still knew it was important to find out the basics by whatever means.

Surely, it is time to make sure that all children at least understand the basics of sex and reproduction, no matter how cringe-worthy it is for us olds?

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valentineI have ranted about the Hallmark holiday that is Valentine’s Day.

I have spewed bile about its romance-on-demand element.

I have baulked at the tweeness of red cuddly toys and heart-shaped chocolates.

I have sniggered at rows of pink and red cards in the shops.

I have spluttered my indignation when anyone asked me “So, what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?”

I have warned my beau that I HATE Valentine’s Day and all its faux trappings and not to buy me anything.

And then I got a huge bouquet delivered to the door. And it was lovely, which made me feel like a big hypocrite.


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The Good Old Days

There’s a lot I could say about this idiotic and depressing piece in the Daily Misogynist Mail by a woman who blames feminism for the fact that she’s miserable.

A lovely lady fulfilling her feminine duties. I'm so jealous! Damn you, feminism!

A lovely lady fulfilling her feminine duties. I'm so jealous! Damn you, feminism!

But Megan in Jezebel takes it down so well that I will just urge you to read what she says. Here’s a taste:

I wanted to be mad at Zoe Lewis for this piece as it feeds into the false pretense that giving women choices in and control over their lives just makes them unhappy, with the lovely subtext that women shouldn’t have those choices, you know, for their own sakes. But, frankly, it was hard to read it all the way through because she sounds desperately unhappy, and desperately insecure and desperate to find someone or something else to blame for all of that besides herself — so she chose feminism and her mother. The terrible thing about choices, though, is sometimes you make bad ones, and you have to live with them. The great thing about choices is that you can then continue to make them, until you find the ones that make you happy.

To which this happily married feminist (who was raised by a happily married feminist mother who produced four relatively well-adjusted and happy feminist daughters, some of whom are single, some of whom aren’t) can only say “hear, hear!” Feminism doesn’t mean you have to abandon family or domestic life. It means you DON’T have to feel like a failure and a burden on your family if you’re not married and producing babies by the time you’re 25. It means you don’t have to leave your job when you got married or had children, as some of our mothers had to. It means you’re not a freak if you actually care about pursuing a career or a creative dream. It means you have other options in your life apart from marriage. It means freedom. If you want to be reminded of the advantages of having choices that don’t involve being a fulltime domestic goddess, take a little look at the perfect life of Betty Draper in the awesome Mad Men. And it’s not feminism’s fault that Zoe Lewis hasn’t “fulfilled [her] womanly duties” – because remember ladies, if by some chance you’re not baking bread in suburbia surrounded by babies by the time you’re 30, you are a bad woman. In fact, you’re barely a woman at all. If this hasn’t really sunk in yet, don’t worry – the Daily Mail will be reminding you about it every week until the end of time.

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