Tag Archives: fame

Tripping Up the Kardashians

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Dear and lovely reader, I must start today’s blog with a bit of a confession: I’m really rubbish at keeping up with the news.  When I say “news”, what I actually mean is “the biggest trending stories on the internet”, which usually involve a jaw-dropping image, some hilarious video footage or an insane quotation from a celebrity.  There are three reasons for my lacklustre approach to the contagious caterwauling of online updates:

1) I think that celebrity culture is an inherently dreadful concept which encourages people to feel insecure about themselves, and to value notoriety over talent.
2) Wireless internet, as comedian Chris Addison very wisely pointed out, is an absolute miracle of modern living.  It should be used to educate our minds, widen channels of communication and bring joy to our lives, not as a harmful gossip machine of hatred.
3) Like you, dear reader, I’m actually too busy for any of this nonsense.

Sometimes when I’ve ignored the internet for a little while, I find that it’s rather like having left a toddler unsupervised in a zoo with a box of crayons: there is a HELL of a mess and a lot of random noise going.  Take yesterday morning, for example: Lily Allen’s comments about Band Aid 30 were going viral, Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen’s theme park closed after a day and people are still sounding off about Kim Kardashian’s ass photo.

Let’s focus on the Kardashian issue for a moment: lots of people are understandably very annoyed by her behaviour, and are saying that viral photos on the internet should be of woman like Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie and Sylvia Pankhurst, i.e. women who made a very obvious contribution to the world we live in today.  This is an absolutely understandable and excellent argument.  People are also making noises about nudity on the internet, offensive and anti-feminist notions, etcetera.  This is a complicated issue concerning censorship and freedom of speech (and freedom of ass, I guess).

If you’ll allow me to return to the toddler similie, the Kardashians and other like-minded ass exhibitionists are just like small kids making a mess in a zoo: why are we even paying attention to them?  Who gives a monkey’s if people want to “break the internet” with silly and superficial imagery?  Like most spoilt brats, they will be most likely to change their behaviour if we do not reinforce their sensationalist stunts with any publicity at all.

Do you know what else?  I don’t have the faintest notion why the Kardashians are famous in the first place.  And what is more, I cannot be bothered to Google it.  I will quite happily spend the rest of my life not knowing why those strange, sad people are in the public eye.

Don’t pay attention to the crap news.  Lily Allen’s opinion of Band Aid 30 will not change your future, and Kim Kardashian’s ass has no effect on your career.  Pay attention to the news that affects your life and the people you love.  Read up about what’s going on in Syria, sign a petition against the privatisation of our nation’s assets, or even write a heartfelt email to Putin telling him that we’ll still love him when he eventually comes out of the rainbow-painted closet.  Don’t waste your time sharing petty little pittances of “news” when there are so many fascinating, world-changing and historically significant things going on.

Could someone help me down off my soapbox, please?  Cheers.  Shall we go and get some brunch?

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Stop Talking to Yourself

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Happy Monday, reader!  How was your weekend?  

Everyone talks to themselves from time to time, and that’s totally fine.  It becomes slightly less socially acceptable when there are other people in the room, and it’s definitely frowned upon at formal occasions – funerals in particular are a no go.  In general, talking to yourself is not a problem, as long as you’re being nice to yourself.  It might sound a bit strange, but a lot of us use talking to ourselves as an opportunity to be defeatist or cowardly.  Here are five things that we really need to stop saying to and about ourselves:

  • “I’m such an idiot”
    No, you’re not.  Everyone has stupid moments from time to time.  That doesn’t make you an idiot.  Even if you were a idiot, do you really believe that telling yourself so is going to make you any smarter?  If you really think that you could stand to be more intellectual then read more books and listen to Radio 4.  Also, having an emotional response to something is not stupidity.  Trusting someone who ends up hurting/deceiving you or getting carried away by a crush is not an indication of cognitive impairment.  If someone else has made a mockery of your trust/feelings/Oyster card then they’re the idiot, not you.  
  • “S/he would never like me”
    Two words: watch Hairspray.  We have no idea how the human heart works, what makes people fancy each other or why couples stay together forever.  Oh, sure, there’s all the science about genetic compatibility and how we’re subconsciously attracted to the best candidates to continue the species with.  But if you convince yourself that you’re not worthy of someone’s affections then you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you don’t believe that you’re worthwhile then how is anyone else supposed to?
  • “I’ll never get that job”
    Again, you never know.  It’s always worth applying for stuff that you’re a bit under-qualified for, because some employers see potential and like to help you realise it.  Also, it doesn’t matter how amazing the job is: if an employer rejects your application then either you weren’t right for the job, or the company wasn’t right for you.  Why would you want to work for a company foolish enough to reject you?  Why would you want to do a job that you weren’t right for?  Exactly.  Stop worrying about it.
  • “My mean parent/teacher/friend was right about me”
    No they flipping were not.  I know it’s much, much easier said than done, but you absolutely have to let go of nasty stuff that people have said about you.  This is for two reasons: firstly, those words were probably said out of anger, bitterness or malice, and therefore have less to do with you than the unhappiness of the person who said them.  Secondly, letting nasty comments take hold of your self-worth means that nobody wins.  
  • “I could never do that”
    Do what?  Travel the world?  Go skydiving?  Become famous?  Get out of your overdraft?  You are capable of anything you can think of, and I don’t just mean that in a cheesy, “live your dream” kind of way (although that is part of it).  Anything that you want to do with your life can definitely be done, and you know that to be true because someone else has done it before you.  Loads of people, in fact.  If they can do it – whether “it” is learn to tap dance or go into space – you can do it.  

Have a highly amusing Monday, and I will see you tomorrow.

Unsporting Spectators

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Good morning, dear reader!  Happy Wednesday!

Today I would like to talk to you about the idea of standing by while stuff happens.  How often do we get involved with what’s going on around us?

I recently finished reading Giles Foden’s The Last King of Scotland, which is a bizarre combination of fact and fiction.  It faithfully describes the words and actions of Idi Amin during his tyrannous rule of Uganda, but the narrator is a fictional character who never really existed (although his experiences in the novel are loosely based on those of real people).  The character is a doctor, so it makes absolute sense that he describes the events in the novel with clinical precision and accuracy.  It is difficult, however, to get inside his head and feel that you know him.  Perhaps that’s for the best – his destructive and terrifying friendship with a dictator is not something that we necessarily want to sympathise with – but it was a bit jarring all the same.

There is also a moral dilemma afoot (that’s right: afoot).  Should Nicholas Garrigan (for ‘t’was the narrator’s name) have stepped in at some point?  He was afraid, and he was inexplicably drawn in to Amin’s web, but couldn’t he have done something?  He never says anything and he doesn’t try to create change in Uganda.  The British government repeatedly ask him to kill Amin, or at least to spy on him for them, and he refuses.  What a wuss.

I had a similarly irritated reaction to Robert Graves’ autobiographical account of the First World War, Goodbye to All That.  Graves was, I’m sure, a very brave man who fought well for his country.  Having said that, he comes across in his autobiography as a complete and total prat.  He has an assumed self-importance that some people get when they’ve befriended famous people, or happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Graves is like that about Siegfried Sassoon’s letter to The Times in 1917 – he essentially says “Oh, yeah, I was totally there for that.  Yeah.  Told him not to send it, actually.  Yeah.  Me and Siggy – we’re like that.”

Forgetting for a moment that Sassoon’s letter was a major turning point in public awareness of the horrors of trench warfare and the campaign as a whole, Graves’ approach repels the reader by making them feel that inactivity would have been better than what Sassoon did.  Garrigan and Graves – both too far from fiction to be ignored – are discomfiting people because they show us that not all humans are heroes.  We would all love to think that we would take action when faced with their situations, but the truth is that we have no way of knowing for sure.

Wouldn’t it be weird if Prince Charles finally got the throne, and it turned out that all those years of waiting had turned him into a crazed tyrant?  (Probably not going to happen, but something to bear in mind.)  How do you think you’d behave?  Do you think that you’d speak out against him?  Would you wage a campaign?  Would you help to save those who’d been mauled by corgis in the street for incorrect etiquette (or whatever his problem turns out to be)?

We have no way of knowing how we would behave in situations like that, but I think that we can find smaller ways to find out.  We don’t need a tyrant or a global war to show us who we are.  We can step up to the smaller, everyday moments of injustice, and refuse to accept them, like we do when we donate to charity or run a marathon for cancer research.  That is all excellent stuff to do.

Well, I’m off to the Post Office, because my life is thrilling like that.  You have an absolutely cracking Wednesday.

Wise Words, Walt

Good morning, reader!  How was your weekend?

Today ‘s blog is about some unexpected sources of wisdom: Disney characters.  Those of you who have read this post will already know that I reckon Disney heroes are actually pretty similar to modern men, but the relevance to contemporary (and indeed real) life doesn’t end there.  Disney movies are, in general, liberally sprinkled with cute quotations and heart-warming characters.  Since Frozen came out at the end of last year, I have been asked the question “do you wanna build a snowman?”  dozens of times, and fans of Despicable Me will be very familiar with the cry “IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!!”  These are both lovely and amusing, but they don’t really mean anything if you haven’t seen the films.

However, there are some quotations from Disney movies which, when taken slightly out of context, are very good advice for those of us who are not animated and/or living in an enchanted castle.  Here are my favourites:

1) “I’m afraid being famous isn’t the same as being a true hero.” – Zeus, Hercules

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YES.  Tell that to every reality television star who thinks that their very  existence warrants an enormous pay cheque and unquestioning adoration from the public.  Particularly in a day and age when you can become famous for doing nothing except stand on a stage in front of Simon Cowell and do something – anything – atrociously, people should remember that being famous doesn’t make you superior to anyone else.  In many cases, the people who get fame and fortune don’t deserve it.  Do you remember when J. K. Rowling made the news for donating so much of her wealth to charity that she lost her billionaire status?  That’s a wonderful thing for her to have done, BUT it should be the norm, not newsworthy.

2) “Maleficent doesn’t know anything about love, or kindness, or the joy of helping others. You know, sometimes I don’t think she’s really very happy.” – Fauna, Sleeping Beauty

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It is easy to dismiss people who seem a bit moody/miserable/prone to casting evil spells as simply bad human beings, but it’s worth stopping to think about why they are that way inclined.  Happy people don’t hate the world around them, and even though it’s not an easy thing to do, it’s probably a good idea to try to relate to them.  Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (especially when you don’t like them very much) can be a massive eye-opener.

3) “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” – Emperor, Mulan

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If you can achieve success, happiness and other lovely things without really having to struggle for them, they are not devalued as such, but they are less satisfying.  It’s a very British thing to begrudge people a public school education, because we think that they have been handed the tools to obtain their ambitions without having to earn them.  We love the rags-to-riches stories of poor people making their dreams come true, and we went crazy for the Paralympics because the athletes were achieving greatness from a disadvantaged starting position.  It’s not a bad thing to respect people who can make lemonade out of lemons (although I would have gone for a lemon drizzle cake, myself), but the important thing is to remember to apply it to your own life when necessary.  Making successes out of failures and opportunities out of crises, however small they might be, is a good way to grow.  Or bloom, as His Excellency would have it.

4) “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.” – Rafiki, The Lion King

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It’s one of the most universal experiences known to humanity: the involuntary groan and uncomfortable squirm when you remember something embarrassing you did months or even years ago.  These memories can come back to bite you when you are falling asleep, walking along perfectly happily or operating heavy machinery (which is obviously not ideal for safety reasons as well as emotional ones).  Like most people, I get pretty bogged down by those unhappy thoughts, and usually fairly indignant: WHY did I just remember that?  What the hell does my brain think it’s doing?!  It’s a very uncomfortable process, but for the sake of our sanity we should probably try to look at the memory, work out why we behaved the way we did, and go about fixing the problem.  The other thing is (and I owe a huge thank you to friends of mine who have reiterated this next bit for me), the chances of anyone else remembering the incident with as much displeasure as you do is unlikely.  You remember it so vividly because you’re still beating yourself up about it, but anyone else who was there won’t have thought about it nearly as much, if at all.  Think about it: do you lie awake at night thinking about embarrassing things your loved ones have done, and despising them?  Of course not.  So logically, they’re not going to be doing the same thing about your misdemeanours.

5) “Life’s not a spectator sport. If watching is all you’re gonna do, then you’re gonna watch your life go by without you.” – Laverne, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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Get involved.  Go and talk to that attractive person at the bar.  Take up a hobby.  Go on adventures.  If you don’t ask you don’t get, and you lose one hundred percent of the Monopoly games you don’t play.  Sure, you might end up embarrassing yourself some more, but we’ve already covered how to cope with that.

And last but not least:

6) “Some people are worth melting for.” – Olaf, Frozen

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Some, not all.  Use your common sense.

Have a spectacular day, everyone.