The Six O’Clock News: What It Takes to Re-Focus the Media (sort of)

22 Aug

Let’s address the obvious first and foremost and take a moment to appreciate what journalists are doing in certain parts of the world at the moment. While the tabloids are going crazy over Cara Delevigne’s holiday with Selena Gomez, there are people from across the globe who are quite literally the front line of communications in areas where for various reasons events can’t be broadcast to the world as easily as the weather bulletin. Not that the world seems to be listening most days anyway – James Foley is the tenth journalist to be killed in Syria so far this year and the 44th to be killed worldwide, yet the Syrian civil war isn’t even on the main news most days.

So since it’s taken the brutal beheading of a journalist to draw the West’s attention to the shithole that is current middle eastern politics, let’s have a look at how the West’s covered it so far.

Actual Broadcasters

Not long after the news of James Foley’s death broke, James Kirkup over at The Telegraph pointed out that people calling the murder an “execution” are linguistically wrong; execution occurs as a punishment and the only crime that’s been committed has been the murder of a journalist by a group of people who call themselves a state but actually have zero legitimacy. IS isn’t a geographical piece of land with boarders and a government. It does not have the consent of its citizens. It doesn’t actually have any citizens (has anyone actually come across somebody endorsing the things they do? So far every piece of commentary I’ve seen, from all areas of the political and religious spectrum, has condemned IS as a total piece of shit).

The BBC has a nice page dedicated to explaining all that’s going down in Iraq – I had a look at an article about what happened to al-Qaeda (they’re a bit old-fashioned according to modern, hip Islamists) and it has lots of links explaining all the different varieties of ‘violent Islamic extremists’ that are currently besmirching the good people of the Muslim faith.

Shit Broadcasters

The Mail did actually run a story in which there may be some actual reporting, but I couldn’t finish it because I got distracted by the sheer number of scantily dressed women in the sidebar. Well, I know what I’ll add to this site if I ever want to put you off a post…

Conspiracy Theorists

Yep, some people genuinely think the video was faked. The commentators on this mildly depressing Reddit thread cite “zero emotion”, “no blood” and the video’s “fade to black” as reasons why the CIA/IS/US government faked the entire thing. None of those things can have anything to do with the fact that Foley was an experienced journalist who knew he was going to die and had worked in enough war zones to accept the risks… or the probability that the IS guys know their way around iMovie, especially since many of them are from the West.

Social Media

I was quite surprised, both when his name was a trending topic and on a general search just now, that most Twitter commentary has been pretty decent; most people have expressed their disgust at the whole situation. That said, Twitter’s been getting better at preventing total pillocks from airing their ignorance, so maybe we just can’t see the bullshit.

All right, I’ve depressed myself enough for one day. I almost titled this What It Takes for the Media to Give a Shit About Syria but I thought it was a bit too Vice. Any thoughts on the whole rigmarole?

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Tuesday is Okay Today.

19 Aug

Darlings, it’s Tuesday. Tuesday is normally a nondescript day. The novelty of a new week has worn off but next weekend is but a pipe dream.

Not today.

Today is the 2000th anniversary of the death of the bloke who founded the Roman Empire.

Cool huh.

Don’t worry if you don’t much understand the whole Roman Empire/Republic of Rome shebang – just watch the entire Star Wars series in story order (not order in which they were made. I know that means starting off with Jar Jar Binks but that’s the price of education I’m afraid). Alternatively you could read the Heroes of Olympus series, which explains things pretty well (again, I recommend starting with Percy Jackson and the Olympians so you have a clue who all the characters are. They’re short, it’ll take a weekend tops).

Speaking of old Seaweed Brain – why Francesca, how did you make that connection? – Uncle Rick’s newest piece, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, is out in the US today. The English one is out already but has been ignored by me in the shops because the US is the only version with John Rocco’s art and I’d rather save for the extortionate shipping and get a cute cover plus illustrations than blow the last of my Waterstones cards on the ugly one.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, psh.

Speaking of significant dates.

31st October is kind of a big deal this year, because – as well as being Frank Iero’s 33rd birthday – it marks five years of this place being open for business.

Five years.

You know a lot of marriages don’t last that long? I’m going to be cracking out the decent booze to celebrate. Only joking, I’ll probably reminisce about luminous green font and wonder where the hell my life went.

But seriously, I do kind of want to celebrate. The average life expectancy for a blog is three-to-six months, so these bigger landmarks should probably be shouted from the rooftops.

From shitshilarious.tumblr.com

From shitshilarious.tumblr.com

I’m just not sure how. I mean, in an ideal world I would have an Indifferent Ignorance t-shirt (or more specifically, many t-shirts which you guys would also have) or cute yet punk rock badges. But the world ain’t ideal so until 500 people comment every week I’m going to presume I’ve not got an audience big enough to viably produce ‘stuff’.

But I really do want to do something.

Maybe a zine of my blogging pearls of wisdom? A video blog (seems redundant)? A giveaway of… short stories?

Maybe just a collection of my five favourite GIFs.

Going Back to Hell 101

17 Aug

No one ever did confess to being under the age of 11 so I’m going to assume you guys are in the same-ish age bracket as me and are school-age. By ‘school age’ I mean ‘in compulsory education’. I’m technically university age but am also technically on a gap year and I don’t have a clue how you degree-types work so I’m going to assume you guys have your shit together because this post is a guide to…

Going Back to Hell*

*In this instance “hell” can be taken to mean “school”.

Let’s level with each other first of all. I kind of hated school. I liked to learn – mostly – but I loathed deadlines and homework and pressure (seven years in a grammar school and a talent for being too conscientious made for one mini heart palpitation per day and cold sweats every fortnight. Oh, I’m kind of tense? Really? Ihadn’tnoticedI’monadeadlinefuckoffI’mfine). My favourite parts of lessons were when you could have conversations with friends and the teacher and learn without realising you were learning. Too bad it took until year 13 for that teaching method to really be okay with senior management…

So I was always reluctant to go back to school after the holidays. Every holiday, up to and including Easter 2014, I dreaded not just the first day back but all the days until my next piece of freedom. Once I was there I was fine. But I always resented my school for not being more like Hogwarts or Camp Half-Blood. (Why can’t we have 12 Christmas trees and a lava wall? What is wrong with singing furniture and classes lead by students with the best monster-killing record?)

In retrospect, not fully embracing my fate as a pupil at an all-girls English grammar school probably set me back. No lesbian jokes please.

Because when I think about it, if I had fully considered the workload, if I had understood that sometimes you have to play the game in order to finish it – woa I’ve been watching too much sport – I would have made the correct preparations. In, say, August.

Since I care very much that you all don’t spend nine months of your life wanting to stab your eyes out with you HB pencil, I have put together a short list about how anyone – yep, even you with your weird as shit academic situation – can make school slightly less shit. You’re welcome.

Step 1: Prepare

Did Mo Farrah just turn up to the Olympic Stadium and go for a jog to win those medals in 2012? No. I presume he planned that gig, preparing himself for the utter tedium of a 5 billion lap run. He was not taken by surprise by the circus he was in.

From madmanmadeofstraw.tumblr.com

From madmanmadeofstraw.tumblr.com

So let’s confront the facts: you have to go to school. No matter how late you stay up playing Sims pretending tomorrow is Saturday, you’re going to have to get yourself out of bed and learn some information at an absurdly early hour. Take a moment to fully appreciate this, since acceptance that you have a problem is the first step to solving it. (I hear the same concept applies to quitting drugs.)

Now you’ve faced the butt-ugly truth, it’s time to review your physical belongings. Your uniform if you have one. Your bag. Your pencil case. It has been pointed out to me that I buy more time buying stationery than I do clothes, which is totally justifiable because you can’t see every piece of clothing you wear but you do have to get your pencil case out five times a day, five days a week. So it’s got to look damn cute and actually hold pencils for more than a term. Now get yourself down to Staples and if your parents don’t want to pay for functional equipment, point out that if fineliners are the tools of Oscar winners, you need them to not fail A Levels.

Step 2: Organise

… and stay organised for as long as possible. That goes for setting deadlines, completing projects, revising for exams, planning your actual life around school, etc. You will definitely fuck up somewhere along the line – I once forgot to go on a school trip; Ellen forgot to go to an AS module. But you can keep your shit together for more than the first week of September by doing one teeny tiny thing: using the brain cells you just exercised in class to remember all the stuff you have to get done. Or if that’s not your gig, then by utilising your school planner and covering your calendar in so many notes it looks like a courtroom puked. Use colour coding if it helps/you want your calendar to look like pride week puked. Keep your timetable safe. Keep your passwords noted. If you’re planning to skip school to see your favourite band play in Camden, do that day’s work in advance. That way you’ll get to see JBiebs or Green Day or whoever floats your boat and your teachers won’t think you’re a delinquent arsehole for missing a topic for the immortal sight of Jimmy Urine sticking a phone down his pants.

For the record I never skipped class for a band. MSI was playing Camden on a godly scheduled teacher training day. No one had to negotiate homework to see Jimmy do something freaky.**

Ah, regrets.

Step 3: Retain Your Sense of Humour

 Sometimes your attitude toward the dickheads with whom you spend 35 hours a week is this:

From let-it-be-infinite.tumblr.com

From let-it-be-infinite.tumblr.com

Sometimes you and your non-dickhead friends will experience this attitude:

Intense Contemplation black-white-and-perfect.tumblr

From black-white-and-perfect.tumblr.com

But mostly you’ll be like this:

Psychos from clairedelunes.tumblr.com

From clairedelunes.tumblr.com

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is compulsory reading for anyone who’s school age, by the way. But seriously, the ability to laugh will get you through those lessons where the clock has definitely slowed down or the lunchtimes when your friends are gloating that they got higher marks in some test no one will remember in two years’ time. You might be laughing at yourself or the situation you’re in or maybe at somebody else (don’t be a dickhead to others to make yourself feel better though, it’s very year six).

Sometimes things will be very grey and if you’re having more than just a few low days, do everyone a favour and talk to someone – turns out teachers are people too, how about that – because if you’re going to get through school it should be in one relatively happy piece.

So there we have it.

Three golden nuggets of advice to make your life superduper perfect less shit. Hopefully.

**For the record, I can’t remember if Jimmy did actually put a phone in his pants. I do know, however, that he fake-called the Queen.

The Six O’Clock News: It’s Okay, USA

15 Aug

How many of you guys are from Missouri, USA? Me neither man, I’m not totally sure where Missouri is. But I do know that a load of shit is going on there at the moment, in the town of Ferguson. This BBC article has a good (detailed) explanation about what’s gone on – I think that essentially a black kid got shot by almost-definitely racist police and when locals protested they were deemed a riot, so now there kind of is a riot.

It’s brought up another debate about racism in the US – it exists, yuck – and has had relatively little UK media coverage, probably because the whole of the middle east is currently trying to kill everyone else in the middle east. But if Americans were worrying that only their country is home to a less-than-stellar police service, it’s okay! Look what this fortnight’s Private Eye has reported!

Private Eye 1372 Met Shooting

So it’s okay, America. We get you. We have Stephen Lawrence and we all remember what cased the 2011 riots.

From theyuniversity.tumblr.com

From theyuniversity.tumblr.com

But do yourselves a favour and don’t actually have a riot, because they are messy. Maybe stick to vigils and legislature change? I’ve been learning a bit about the US court system lately and you guys seem to be into suing each other – can you take the police to court for dickheadedness misconduct of duty?

If anyone has any suggestions to combat police dickheadedness and/or racist dickheadedness, please share. I’m kind of stuck for intelligent suggestions that don’t involve painting swearwords on people’s houses

Emoji Fest

11 Aug

I’ve rigged my phone up to this so I can ‘blog on the go’ but I’m actually sitting in my lounge, which feels like a metaphor for 21st century life. On the plus side, I have emojis! Let’s see if they show up here (if they don’t I may press publish anyway):

🐕🐶

Okay guess the phrase:

🚬💀

❓👀👮❓

3⃣👋🍬💉

That was way more trouble than it’s worth… If you can distinguish them leave a comment and I’ll post the answers next post.

Update 13th August 2014

Having viewed the blog on Google Chrome on my PC it’s apparent that the emojis are little squares, which are fun in themselves but not conducive to games. Here is a screenshot of the app version:

IMG_4737.PNG

The Ten O’Clock News: Penguin Classics Represents Barbie…

8 Aug

It turns out I’m going out for the evening, which happens so rarely I haven’t got my shit together properly (on the plus side, Guardians of the Galaxy). Since I’m going to be entertained – or not, depending on whether it’s as good as my Twitter feed says – let’s all scratch our heads over the weird new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover:

from BBC.co.uk

from BBC.co.uk

Is it commentary on how the novel came out in the sixties, when everyone was screwing children, or did someone click the wrong file and send an illustration of a chocolate box to the cover for Barbies and Hookers?

I may have invented that title.

The Independent quotes a Penguin spokesperson as explaining  that the cover represents’“both the light and the dark aspects of life”’ but I swear I read that book a few times as a child and never imagined abject poverty or spoilt children in the form of a creepy doll child…

Seriously, I took A Level English Lit and I can’t link that picture to the book in my head. Anyone got any ideas?!

In Which I Have a Crisis of Conduct

7 Aug

One thing I missed a lot while I was at school in the last couple of years was the ability to blog more than twice a week. I used to be able to spend two-plus hours on a post almost every other day, find any old shit on Google for a picture then start a comment thread about MCR fanfiction… those were simpler times indeed.

On the plus side, having very little time to post made me quite good at saving links and images for later use, which makes the whole posting shenanigans a lot easier and prevents last-minute flustering.

From cantseemtofind.tumblr.com

From cantseemtofind.tumblr.com

Fun fact: I haven’t actually finished reading The Hobbit. So far I’ve seen both film adaptations before reading the book and I must say it was quite nice not finding fault with every deviance from the original. I felt like a lay reader, for once, and not an invested fan. It was quite relaxing.

I’m starting to remember why I haven’t delved back into thrice-a-week posting sooner.

What did I talk about back in the day?!

Maybe I should do what Krista over at Effing Dykes did quite a bit, which was have reoccurring, specific posts like how to spot a certain ‘type’ of lesbian or Kelly Has a Question, which was basically Educating Straight People 101.

I just read through a couple of posts there and thought “shit I’m going to have to mention that there’s some pretty NSFW stuff over there”. Then I thought “who cares there aren’t any six-year-olds here.”

Then I thought “what if there are?”

What if there are? I could be ruining childhoods simply by swearing! Or what if I get back into journalism and decide to discuss serious topics more often than the Six O’Clock News? Or with more grim detail than usual? What if the internal battle between Stiff Upper Lipped and Quite British Francesca and Feminist Writer Francesca is won by the latter and I start discussing PMS? Or, worse, what if I start using this place as a diary and divulging the people whom I find attractive?

Actually that’s gross because while people may need to know the specifics of gang rape – or PMS – in order to function in society, no one needs to know who I do or don’t find attractive.

But still. What if there are young-ish people here? Should I curb my language or something?! I probably won’t, but still.

Show yourselves.

Lesson of the Week: Commonwealth Games Diving GIFs Don’t Exist.

5 Aug

I’m kind of bummed out that no one’s really picked up on the irony of the WWI commemorations being immediately followed on news bulletins by info on the Gaza war… I’m also fed up with being bummed out so I’ve been watching Frank’s new video for intestine-filled kicks. Is it also ironic that Frank’s a vegetarian?

Anyway, I’ve been tapping away at commissions and etching out a legit portfolio site, which you can expect to see in roughly 3.7 million years or when I’ve got the cash to replace the standard colour palette with something I like. Business is a little slow at the moment – possibly because everyone’s on holiday, possibly because they’ve all been mesmerised by the Commonwealth Games and haven’t yet left their sofas.

[Insert imaginary GIF of a diver diving off the 10m board here. I thought it would look cool because their twisty dives are brilliant and hypnotic but there is not one fucking GIF of a single diver in action. So here is an entire YouTube video. Please go to 3 minutes 40 seconds to get whatever the fuck I was aiming to post about two hours ago before 20 tabs Googling Tom Daley drove me mad. The rest of the post was finished two hours ago. Two hours. I'm going to have nightmares about search engines.]

Anyway. I was thinking that it would be cool to do little flash fiction giveaways every week, to keep my mini story muscles flexed (my friend Jay has asked me to do 5k words on a prompt inspired by Cloud Atlas, a book I haven’t actually read. Expect it in one-to-two weeks!).

So if you fancy reading something shorter than a Vice article but longer than the phrases on coffee mugs, leave a comment with an idea or phrase and I’ll rustle something up!

Ew, I feel like a chef.

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