Papa Needs a Brand New Brand

The thing about Russell Brand is, he’s not a bad fella. I have no doubts that his motives are well-intentioned, if a little (lot) self-serving. His clumsy manifesto seems routed in a genuine humanity and – at times – is well researched, and supported by some strong academic discourse.


Also, it’s pretty easy to pour scorn on Brand. He’s a character who admits to his own gargantuan ego, and said ego permeates every facet of his over-worked performance. He’s overbearing, smug, over-stylised, self-satisfied and seems to lack any sort of humility whatsoever, which is at odds with his frequent verbal attempts to be self-deprecating, in a false, “I think this, this and this [showboat face] but what do I know, Guv?” sort of way.


Despite all of this, there is something likeable about him. He is genuinely witty and robustly articulate, which has stood him in good stead when arguing with right-wingers and generally proffering his new-found revolutionary spoutings.


He’s managed to beguile Jeremy Paxman, Katy Perry and even some yank filmmakers, and there is no denying – even if you aren’t won over by his 19th century porno-pirate costume – that he does have some charismatic charm.

2011 MTV Video Music Awards Arrivals(2)But this new incarnation as leader of the People’s Revolution is fundamentally flawed on a number of levels, and someone needs to nip this shit in the bud before it gets any worse.


First, Brand is the sort of figure that the Ruling Class absolutely loves. The reason for this is because he poses no real threat to the establishment. I’m not talking about his ridiculous faux pas about not voting. It was a stupid, ill-advised point though. But it’s bigger than that.


Nobody in Whitehall is shitting themselves about Brand’s new brand of politics; they’re pissing themselves. And quite rightly.


You could look at the farcical, fucked-uppery of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson and their absurd bumblings, replete with deer-hunter hats and comedic slip-ups, but the truth is both of those people have a clear agenda.


Farage is preying on the irrational fears of the disenfranchised, with policies based on a hatred, which is anchored by fear and perpetuated by insidious propaganda.


Johnson… well, I’m not sure what the fuck Johnson is doing. He’s just a very lucky idiot and his village is London. Further proof that the north is the real intellectual hotbed of England.


But both of these people are politically successful with their gimmickry and personal indignities, because people feel let down by identikit, humourless politicians in too-tight suits, speaking in ridiculous sound bites they’re too afraid to deviate from.


Which should make Brand a dream for those wanting an alternative, which isn’t imbedded in racism or offensive gaffes.


The problem is, Brand isn’t really offering anything. He talks about revolution, and overthrowing hegemonic imperialism in the very broadest terms. And – put simply – revolution will not be about rhetoric, but action.


The single most revolutionary event in the UK of the last ten years was the London Riots. It came about as a direct reaction to a perceived injustice over the death of Mark Duggan in August 2011. It was not orchestrated by any spokesperson, it did not need endless discussions about the distribution of power, but it was very clearly revolutionary.


More than any organised political demonstrations, sound biting, or posturing from self-appointed figureheads (bumbling, funny or otherwise) it was direct anti-establishment activity that absolutely threatened government and big business and was a clear demonstration of a general dissatisfaction, as well as a commitment (albeit anarchic and unstructured) to change.


Does this mean I think rioting is the solution to overthrowing our oppressors?


Perhaps not. The truth is, though, that is how revolution begins. And direct action is what’s needed in order to implement radical change. In any country that has achieved revolutionary political change within the last two hundred years, it always begins with the poor – very often the youngest poor (average age of the Bolshevik party members was fifteen) – rioting. It’s not something that will occur little by little through European Human Rights legislation, or workplace laws. Significant change will involve direct action, some of which will be unpleasant and possibly unlawful, because the laws only serve to protect those in power. By any means necessary, and all that.


The rhetoric used during the riots by politicians about the “real cost” of the riots being incurred by small business owners was clever, but misleading. The bigger cost came to the government, which is why rioters were so ridiculously penalised in the aftermath, and to insurance companies – who did their best to squirm from financial obligations, but ultimately lost a great deal. But nowhere near the cost that small business owners undertake to protect their businesses, so let’s not get daft about it.


I do think those riots were infinitely more meaningful than Russell Brand showboating on the Jonathan Ross Show. And more importantly, so do the establishment.


I’m under no illusion that Cameron and Co. are having a giggle about Brand’s antics, and despite the low-level attempts to smear him in the press, he pretty much smears himself because this new-found political identity is really just another vehicle for Brand’s ego.


He went from MTV Presenter, to comic, to DJ, to columnist, to full-time shagger, to film star and I don’t begrudge him any of it. Not even the shagging.


Do I think that Brand has a disrespectful attitude to women? Quite possibly, but not resoundingly so, and his well-documented succession of sexual partners doesn’t seem to form a pattern of promising women any sort of romantic future – aside, of course, from that one he married, but we can’t condemn someone for a failed marriage – so it’s all fair dos. In any case, I don’t think his attitude to women is overtly worse than any other man in the public eye. In fact, he always seems to be fairly respectful to the opinions of women he engages with publically, which is a step further than many other male celebrities.


The problem is though; this politics stuff is a folly. That’s the perception, and that’s the second biggest problem with Brand. He initially warmed us up with talk of revolutionary change in newspaper columns, with Paxman and on subsequent political panel shows and was received so favourably, that he wants to press on.


He’s a good orator and the more attention he receives the further he wants to take it. Cinemas up and down the country, screening Brand calling for (a very vague and unstructured) revolution, without equipping us with a strategy for what that revolutionary change will look like is pretty fucked up.


It’s actually quite dangerous. Someone who’s in it for the gratifying applause, but without the personal strength and long-term commitment to what is truly needed to lead people into action, is an easy target and a threat to positive change.


The other thing – and it’s fairly fucking pertinent – is that Brand is not an ordinary person. He’s from a working-class background, a recovering addict, and from a single-parent family, but he’s also a film star who marries pop stars in elaborate Asian ceremonies. Despite his funny and not-unreadable sports columns and chirpy cockney persona, he’s actually very rich, very well protected by law, and not subject to the same oppressive struggles some of the rest of us face. He’s white, he’s a man, and he lives his life indulging his faddy diets, trendy quasi-religious dabblings, and knocking around on film sets. If he wanted to be truly revolutionary he’d give up his wealth, refuse to work with film companies that operate in intrinsically capitalist ways and reject much of what it is he’s attempting to convince us he is opposed to. That’s the truth.


It might sound churlish to ask him to make such personal sacrifice, but if he is sincerely speaking of revolution, whilst living in a way that contradicts this sort of change, how can anyone take it seriously?


It’s very easy of course, to be cynical and dismissive of those speaking political truths by dismantling them as people. The truth is, much of what Brand is saying is absolutely right. Therefore shouldn’t we just be glad that someone is saying it? It seems that that is what Brand is asking of us. To accept the sincerity of what it is he saying, whilst accepting he is a flawed leader and himself a part of the establishment, without asking anything else of him personally.


Let him talk a good talk, which is at the very least progress because not enough other people are doing it well, and because he is a high profile figure? Well, ok except that – and this is my final major point – much of what he is peddling is not his own work.


For years, Brand has incorporated little snippets of intellectual trivia into his act so as to make him appear more knowledgeable and worldly. I never really minded, because we all do it to a certain extent and because when he was on Big Brother’s Big Mouth and referring to his cock as a winkle, and interspersing it with throwaway comments about Wittgenstein, it was entertaining. His flourishes could be a bit annoying, but on the whole the whimsy was fun.


It’s not fun when you’re using the work of other academics – sometimes successfully, and sometimes slightly clumsily and out of context – to peddle your own career in entertainment.


You’re an entertainer or you’re a politician because this shit is too important to use as a public wank vehicle. It might not be as important to you, with your LA mansion, famous mates and blood-type diet. But for the people you’re purporting to represent it really is life and fucking death.

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius has the face of a spoilt little shit. From his thin, cat’s-fanny slit of a mouth, to his spoilt, faux, perma-sorrow murder trial expression, even your most impartial observer cannot fail to appreciate the deeply engrained sense of entitlement that permeates through his chiseled, permanently stubbled jaw.

But Pistorius, his wealth, his handsomeness, his fame, his disability and the South African justice system are not the fucking issue here.

South Africa is a country recovering from huge and unrecompensable injustice on behalf of the west. A catalogue of atrocities too enormous and monstrous to list, ranging from slavery to apartheid, all of which white people are responsible for. So, it’s an absolute piss-take when I’ve seen articles on the Pistorius case allude to the sense that the South African Justice System (racist implications of a pertinently worse attitude to women) is purely responsible for Pistorius receiving what is clearly an absurdly lenient sentence.

Let’s dispel that right here. South Africa, like every other national criminal justice system is severely lacking in many tragic, key ways. But, it is certainly not alone in not handing out severe enough punishment and penalties to men who kill their wives and girlfriends, and it is not alone in having a very high rate of Spousal Homicide:


  • Every day in the US, three women are murdered by their boyfriend or husband.
  • Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the USA – more than car accidents, rape and muggings combined.
  • The cost of Domestic Violence to the US economy exceeds 5.8 billion dollars per year.
  • Every nine seconds in the USA, a woman is physically assaulted or beaten.
  • Number of women who killed by spouses who kept guns in the home: 2 in 3, versus South Africa where that number is 1 in 3.
  • Only around 56% of all Domestic Violence incidents that get to court result in any conviction whatsoever.

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  • Domestic Violence incidents are reported to the police every minute.
  • On average, two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.
  • Domestic Violence is experienced by more than 30% of the female population in England and Wales.
  • In 2012/13 the conviction rates for Domestic Violence incidents were up by 0.3 from previous years, but still only amounted to 58, 276 and it is conservatively suggested that over one million women experience instances of domestic violence yearly. This works out to a less than six percent conviction rate.

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I can’t catalogue all the conviction rates for spousal homicide and DV globally, because the data isn’t explicit enough and also because it’s widely acknowledged that the vast majority of victims never report the crime. But suffice it to say that the South African legal system has behaved in much the same way as the rest of the world does.

And instead of examining why it is women don’t come forward, which has to be thoroughly explained by every women’s rights advocate that ever publically speaks on the issue (it’s often socio-economic, but can be for many complex reasons)… let’s stop centralizing what it is women victims are and aren’t doing and instead talk about why it is men hit women.

I should – and will – make the obligatory disclaimer here that men are also victims of Domestic Violence and spousal homicide (though in terms of murder perpetrated by a woman, this is often as a result of on-going, situational domestic violence). No-one I know – especially feminists – want to diminish the not insignificant issue of men who are abused, but the reason it’s so important to make the point that women are many, many times more likely to encounter this sort of abuse is because it is only when we look at the broad picture that we can properly address it.

It’s absolutely imperative that we view the DV incidents and murder rates as indicative of a greater problem that men have with women. It’s not just important to know that in Europe we’re at greater risk of being abused by a partner than of being hurt in a car wreck; it’s vital.

In the last week we’ve seen some startling statistics about cancer, as a consequence of the fantastic Stand Up to Cancer campaign. But – even taking this Pistorius case coverage into account – I haven’t seen anything on television in the past six months about how likely I am to be abused by a partner, or indeed what we are all going to do to try and stop it. The Home Office had an advertising campaign earlier this year, but it didn’t tell me how at risk I was.

The question of Pistorius’ disability is something else mentioned in terms of the case. Some have argued that his disability may have made him feel generally more vulnerable in a place where there are a large perentage of break-ins. In order to consider this relevant, we have to agree with Pistorius’ version of events. That he did indeed think he was shooting an intruder.

I don’t.

I will never be dissuaded from believing that Pistorius knew he was shooting his lover, and I will move onto that in a moment. But even if he felt especially vulnerable, the fact that he was behind a door with a gun, negates that issue.

The fact that Pistorius became a professional athlete and fantastic Olympian, without legs is absolutely wondrous, and when measuring this fact against the crime, this is what we draw from it: DV can and does occur anywhere.

Pistorius was a strong and decorated athlete with extraordinary wealth and talent, and yet he murdered his girlfriend. DV transcends socio-economic, national, religious and class boundaries and it’s the insidious nature of this crime that makes it so difficult to develop clear strategies to counteract it. There is no archetypal victim, and there is no archetypal perpetrator… aside from gender. Gender is the principal distinction. Overwhelmingly men are abusing and women are being abused, and this is why it’s extremely important to acknowledge it.

You’ll know a woman who has been abused, even if you don’t know about the abuse. If you’re a woman, there’s a strong chance you’ve been abused yourself. A great many children witness their parents being abused and very often men who go on to abuse women have witnessed DV as kids.

It is only by acknowledging that DV is systemic that we have any chance whatsoever of reducing it. The solution comes not by examining individual cases and instances of DV, but by addressing the entire system. Why it is women are subject to an inherent set of rules and ridicule that permeates every facet of their existence – almost from birth – and most importantly why men become habitually violent.

Since I’m using the Pistorius case here, I should state my position on it.

Pistorius had illegal firearms in his home, had been aggressive, controlling, domineering and jealous as was demonstrated by texts and emails between himself and Reeva Steenkamp, had previously fired guns inappropriately, and had been said to be abusive to previous girlfriends. In addition to this, we are expected to believe he was conscious of events occurring in his bathroom, beyond a wall and yet did not sense his girlfriend wasn’t next to him. I often share my bed with a tiny six year old and upon waking I always know if he’s with me. We are also expected to believe that he shot through a door without first establishing who was behind it. Several times. We are expected to believe he did this on Valentine’s Day, which is a culturally pertinent time for lovers.

The suggestion that there was not enough evidence to convict him of murder, to me, is ridiculous. In any crime involving two people in which it is one person’s word against another, the criminal justice system must always rule what is probable. In this instance, the victim is no longer alive, but the point remains. I am suggesting it’s entirely improbable for someone to shoot through a door without first factoring in whether or not the other inhabitant was the one in it. In any case, it’s easy to determine… it would have been simple for him to shout through the door, at which point Reeva would have shouted back. It’s also improbable that after the first shot she wouldn’t have screamed out, thus negating the need to fire so many shots. In addition to this fact, if someone has awoken to move a fan, it requires a fairly steady sense of orientation. Even minor manual labour is not something that someone does blearily. So if he’d had the wherewithal to move the fan, he’d have known the bed was empty. And if we don’t accept this version of events, we must assume he intentionally killed Reeva and had to get the gun and then shoot it through a door. Which is murder, not manslaughter. This is of course, just my opinion.

The very fact that I’ve had to outline the preposterousness of his story offends me to my deepest core. The idea that anyone could feel his story to be an accurate version of events is such a gross and uncompromising desecration both of Reeva Steenkamp and all the hundreds of thousands of women killed by their violent partners globally, that I’m sickened.

I am not, of course, more sickened because Reeva Steenkamp was a beautiful, blonde, white model – reduced to “beautiful girlfriend of” in most of the murder press coverage immediately following her death.

Given the global crime statistics, perhaps I should feel heartened that Pistorius received any prison term at all. But I do not.

Like anyone else with a mother, daughter, or sister I feel profoundly ashamed of being complicit in a systemic failure of women that should not be allowed to be reduced to South Africa, disability, or the rich and beautiful.

Pistorius is not really the issue, nor is his enabling family whose position during the trial was so resolutely disrespectful as to fully highlight much of why we fail women in these instances.

The issue is about the systemic failure of educating men. If Pistorius had been given a life term for the murder of his girlfriend it would have given us more hope for a better future for women, but the truth is we need to stop reducing these cases to their specific features and start working towards educating young men in every country, at every level, in the starkest fucking terms.

If you or a woman you know is being abused, please contact:



We All Know What You Are

I’m loathe to write a blog about Ched Evans, given the fact that everyone else has written about him, and also because it’s about the most straightforward thing you could ever write about. It transcends an opinion piece, because an opinion piece suggests several truths and in this case there is only one:


A man had sex with a woman who was too drunk to definitively consent. Sex without consent is rape. The end.


There is nothing remotely interesting about this case. We’ve seen women defend their spousal rapists before. We’ve seen family members defend their rapist relatives before. I mean – to a very slight extent – there is something very unusual that it is not the crime they’re disputing, but whether or not what occurred actually constitutes a crime. They have been told, in a criminal court case, at subsequent appeal hearings, and by everyone with even the slightest sense of humanity and intellectual comprehension that rape does not fall within a narrow set of behaviours, but is an umbrella term for sex without consent. That should make it easier for people, and yet it doesn’t.


The Justice for Ched Evans campaign have systematically embarrassed themselves for over three years and much more significantly, have hounded the rape victim to an extent where she has been given a new identity after being labelled a slag and worse by fellow footballers, and others.


Recently released, there is some debate about whether or not Ched Evans should be allowed to play football again, and the answer is: he absolutely shouldn’t. Many job vacancies aren’t open to criminals – even as minimum wage employees – this is an additional price convicted criminals often pay for crime, and personally I’m not sure this is fair, but it is a resounding truth. The idea, however,  that someone earning many times over the minimum wage in a highly competitive industry and being held up as an example for young people should continue gainful employment in the same industry after being convicted of rape, is abhorrent and offensive.


The fact is though, he will continue to play football. We hear about the humanity in second chances. We only really hear about the beauty of second chances when it comes to crimes like rape and domestic violence and a plethora of misogynistic crimes, and the reason we hear about the power of the second chance is because those calling for it are usually indulging their own latent misogyny.


We do not – for example – hear about giving second chances to convicted terrorists and bank robbers. We also, as a society, tend to overlook the systemic issues affecting drug addicts and the reasons they burglarise us. No, the alarming charitable consideration afforded to people like Ched Evans is because misogynists want to indulge other misogynists.


I will not spend any time while I’m writing this focussing on the victim. Much has been made of comments she made after she was raped, but these are irrelevant. Equally, so is her intoxication. I have been very, very drunk in my lifetime, and the chances are, so have you. I do not deserve to be raped. If what we are asking of women is to never be vulnerable to potential rapists, it would rule out almost every conceivable activity on the planet. Women have been raped at work, at school, as children, by teachers, by doctors, by nurses, by spending short amounts of time with celebrities… why do we still consider it reasonable to critique the behaviours of rape victims, as opposed to the rapist every single fucking time?


What knickers did she have on? How drunk was she? How many boyfriends has she had?


Michael Buerk this week said that Ched Evans’ rape victim, “deserved no credit due to her being drunk.” And Judy Finnegan (I just feel like smacking my fucking head on a wall repeatedly when it’s a woman) said on Loose Women this week that the rape was, “Unpleasant…” but then added that the victim had “…had too much to drink.”


Why is the girl the issue? Why has the victim in this case – and many other rape cases – been centralised? What behaviours could we be looking at? What do we all agree as a society are the sort of behaviours and sexual history that constitute reason for someone being able to have sex with you without your express consent?


There’s a prevailing sense that some rapes are more rapey than others, when they aren’t. There’s also an idea – usually proposed by men, and even sung about by Robin Thicke – that sexual consent isn’t always explicit and overt and that there is ambiguity in sexual consent.


There isn’t.


There never is.


If there’s any ambiguity, ask. If there’s still ambiguity, don’t.


There was also some talk by Judy Finnegan about violence and brutality.


Rape is always a violent act, because it’s a violation. It’s a violation if you fucked the person half an hour earlier when they consented and now they don’t. It’s a violation if you’re married, or in a relationship. It’s a violation if you’re on a date, if the girl is absolutely hammered, or if you’re high. Sex without consent is about power, control and violating someone. Rape is used in war and in prisons as a mode of brutalisation. So regardless of whether or not someone is known to you, has chased you down an alley, or got into bed with you after you came home drunk with their mate… if you are incapable of, or have not given your consent, you’ve been raped and therefore brutalised.


But as I say, I didn’t want to blog about Evans. I didn’t want to write about Ched Evans mostly because he’s a thick, rapist. He’s from a family of thick, rapist-apologist bores and they’ve all already had too much of our attention. We’ve indulged them into thinking there is any debate whatsoever about whether or not Ched is a rapist. There isn’t, because he is.


The Justice for Ched campaign – never a more profoundly ridiculous title was given to a group of such inbred, woman-haters since the Tea Party Movement in North America – don’t dispute the act. Their problem is that they don’t know what rape is.


Ched Evans’ mother this week had the audacity to claim Ched had been a victim of online feminists, of which I am one. I find it hard to afford her any compassion, because more crucially I’m a mother. I love my son unconditionally, and would continue to love him if he’d raped someone. But I would live the rest of my life in absolute torment to have raised a creature who thought so little of a woman that he would think it legitimate to not garner consent to have sex with her, rape her and let me spend over three years making a mockery out of other women and myself by trying to defend him.


The thing is, Ched could spend the next ten years playing magnificent football. He could win World Cups (unlikely – Welsh) and live in extravagant mansions with a steady stream of pretty women after he inevitably bins off this one who’s made a holy show of herself for three years (although he’s probably going to have to marry her first), and he could get hundreds of awards and accolades. But ultimately, it’s not online feminists who convicted Ched Evans, it’s the British Justice System. The British Justice System who only ever manage to jail around 3% of actual rapists, so it’s fairly fucking conclusive.


No, if I were Mrs Evans I’d ask why I failed in my duty to raise a son who didn’t rape women. Perhaps if she were the sort of woman who had a clearer understanding of what rape constitutes, she’d have been able to impart this on her thick rapist son, and maybe… just maybe… none of us would have had to endure this ridiculous, non-existent debate.

Ode to Idris

I would watch my parents fuck. I would watch them as they work their way through the Karma fucking Sutra. I would watch them work through the Karma Sutra, as both sets of grandparents – some of whom are dead – lay around watching, or handing out towels.

I’d have a non-essential organ removed with minimal anaesthesia, and then eat a slice of it cooked on mouldy toast.

I’d watch a pissed-up Katie Hopkins heavy-pet Jeremy Clarkson stopping briefly to agree on the worrying scourge of Benefit Scroungers, while an enthused Anthea Turner narrated.

I’d nurse Eamonn Holmes through a particularly nasty bout of gastric flu, whilst he continuously referred to celebrity golf tournaments he’d attended as the guest of Sir Alex Ferguson.

holmes and fergie

I’d watch a George Osborne/ John Terry role play sex tape. Osborne playing Lord of the Manor and Terry his bit-of-rough gardener, with nothing in common except their unyielding sexual desire, and thinly veiled racism. The money-shot would involve John Terry covered in male ejaculate, sobbing with deep post-sexual joy, resting his head on an equally joyous George, and wearing his full football kit underneath his gardening gear.



I would let my mum see my entire search engine history -unabridged – and talk her through it.

I’d watch Keith Lemon programmes on continuous loop for 48 hours.

I’d listen to Ellie Goulding breathlessly butchering the entire Toots and the Maytals back catalogue in an intimate venue – without booze – as Dermot O’Leary hosted the event and described each performance as a modern day classic, and called everyone buddy.

And I’d get up every morning at 6am, for a year, for a televised Bikram Yoga session with Samantha Cameron and Tim Lovejoy…

… For approximately 24 minutes under here.


With or Without You? Without Then, Please…

U2 have sold more records than Prince.


If there’s a more damning and depressing indictment of humanity, I don’t think I want to know it.


In a forty year career U2 have had three good songs, five more passable songs and a dearth of noise, punctuated by lyrics that are neither poignant, nor inventive. But it’s not for this reason that I harbour all this rage.


Hundreds of successful, completely talentless bands like Coldplay and Muse sell music to hundreds of thousands of cretinous bores, and it’s no skin off my nose.


Society has to pay a price for the sheer majesty of, say, Tracks of My Tears; and that price is Ellie Goulding.


It’s a tough pill to swallow, but there we have it.


There’s a general consensus that music is a subjective art form and one man’s Richard is another man’s Judy, and to a certain extent – fair enough.


Is it a sudden unpleasant jolt, when you’re standing in a supermarket queue and James Blunt’s Beautiful comes on? Well, yeah a bit. And is it even more depressing when the fit fella handling his mangoes on the opposite checkout starts humming along? Definitely.


“What’s your wedding song?” you ask a colleague you’ve always had a laugh with at coffee break.


“Will Young, Evergreen” they beam.


‘Oh, just let me drown. Let me die right where I’m stood at the sheer fucking pointlessness of other fucking people and their shitty fucking opinions and their fucking doomed marriages if the best borrowed musical embodiment of their love is Will fucking Young taking this night (just this night?) and making it fucking Evergreen (what?!)’ you think.


“Aww, lovely,” you mumble, because, as I previously outlined we all like different music. And all the terrible shite is the price you pay for your own personal (in my case, correct) musical tastes.


That being said, U2 aren’t playing ball. They’re not content with me spying one of their albums on a fella’s iPod and never phoning him again, or tutting when one of their tunes comes on in the background of a café scene in Corrie.


Like a desperate ex or James Corden, they’re everywhere. Trying to escape them is as futile as Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant.


If it’s not smug-stern faced Bono meeting the pope in giant sunglasses on the channel 4 news, it’s this new iTunes advert for their new album entitled Songs of Innocence. Apple tried to give the shitty album away for free, and of course most people with adequate hearing were outraged…

How are four 60 year old men allowed to shoehorn themselves into leather kecks, do that fist pump, rocking around the microphone and making it lean to one side, wearing shades whilst doing that guitar solo intense stare thing in a great big fucking beanie hat without someone, somewhere having the balls to say,


“Here, lads. It’s time to pack this shit in. Cut your hair. This power-rock, faux-yank, having-a-shit vocals, crop top, silly headwear, winkle picker, stonewash shite your peddling has had its day. You appeal only to Top Gear fans who work in IT, and the only reason you’re successful is because these people have access to bank accounts and no girlfriends.” ?


It’s not that they’re old, though. Old is often better. It’s that they’re oppressively shit and they’re intruding on my time.


The ego on Bono is well documented, but can you imagine the four of them together? One of them insists on being called The Edge, for Christ’s sake. Making that video consisted of Bono only being shot from a certain angle and runners being obliged to ask “Mr Edge” if he wanted a drink. You know it, I know it.


Remember when Bono covered his own song One with Mary J. Blige who out sang him so magnificently that he had to shout over her? Apparently when they reissued Feed the World (awful song) he wouldn’t let someone else sing his line because they sounded better. I bet there’s a giant picture of Bono on Bono’s bedroom ceiling.


We’re always hearing about the strops on Mariah Carey and Diana Ross, but these four twats surpass it. You only need hear them speak in interviews. They do that Irish-with-an-American twang thing and change pretty to “priddy” – “We wanted to do an album that was priddy different to our other stuff” Well, you haven’t, you boring old cunt. You’ve done another terrible album for the same terrible people to buy.


The white male ego knows no bounds. They’ve earned their corn. They could easily afford to retire to Malibu, slip the girdles off, donate the Stetsons , beanies and gigantic shades to charity, start eating wheat again and live off the royalties. But they won’t. They’ll continue making shit music and what’s worse is that they’ll continue intruding on my time, like travelling salesmen and my mother.


Rebels Without a Chin

Every so often my heart is too fragile to stand up to the heroic and –at times- creatively magnificent emotional blackmail of my mother. In a fleeting moment of vulnerability (you have to stay on your toes with my mam in much the same way you’d keep your hand on your wallet in the presence of the Artful Dodger, otherwise before you know it you’re agreeing to go and see Michael Bubble in concert, or donating a fucking kidney) my defences were down and she’d convinced me to accompany her to see a film.


Then of course, I find out it’s starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. As if my mother and all the world’s Casting Directors had colluded to most robustly offend me.


If there is a less entertaining spectacle than a pouting Nicole Kidman, faking an English accent and trying to make us believe she’s an abused Middle-England housewife, I’ve yet to witness it. And Colin Firth can go fuck himself as well. How was anyone moved by a film about an actual king with a speech impediment? I’ve felt more emotionally attached to STDs. This middle-class reputation he has of being a sex symbol because of that shite Mr Darcy, wearing-jodhpurs-in-the-lake, balls? If you, or anyone you care about is wanking over a posh, curly-haired, middle-aged fella with tits, striding out of a pond attempting to look haughty… well good for you, man. I need something a bit more substantial.


Anyway, so I’m at the cinema with She Who Must Be Obeyed and three litres of Ben and Jerry’s to fill the emotional gap that will be left after her relentless, insidious criticisms and then it occurs… Not the film, which – as it happens – wasn’t quite as shit as the sum of it’s terrible cast members, but THIS


So, what they’ve done here is make a film called The Riot Club which has been adapted from a novel called Posh, which is essentially a fictional account of The Oxford University “Bullingdon Club.”


The Bullingdon Club, for those of you unfamiliar, is an exclusive club for some Oxford University students, comprised mostly of all the snivelling little bastard offspring of the very richest who will one day try and tell us all that Benefit Scroungers are satanic, whilst they privately snort ketomine from squirrel’s arseholes etc.



That picture of Boris Johnson, David Cameron and George Osborne where they’re (allegedly) about 19 and stood on some steps somewhere, not dressed that dissimilarly to the aforementioned Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and trying – just as unsuccessfully – to look haughty? That’s the club.


Which is why the trailer for this film might confuse you.


I appreciate that Hollywood/ Pinewood have to use some artistic licence, but let’s not get fucking daft. These chiselled actor toffs are a totally different breed to the Bullingdon toffs and it’s ethically insane to assert differently.


Charlize Theron won an Oscar for essentially putting on three stone and not wearing make-up to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Why are these Tory cunts getting the soft-focus of drama school dreamboats with defined abdomens and actual jaw lines?


Fair enough, trying to find ten posh young men who, even cumulatively, could not establish enough chin for one would be a tricky task, but surely there are chinless actors that need work?


Even if we weren’t morally aggrieved – and I’ll reiterate, we definitely are – by the artistic interpretation of a group of men as Hugo Boss underwear models, when in real life they’re more aesthetically attuned to an Addam’s Family Reunion – who in the name of all that is sacred gives a solitary fuck about the social life of a handful of socialite gobshites?


First, someone’s written a fictitious book giving an approximation of what these hairy ballsacks did at eighteen and not only is it published, but enough people have read the fucker to warrant making a film?


But wait, I hear you cry, it turns out – and you’ll never believe this – that the obnoxious little turds didn’t appreciate their financial privilege and went around shitting on poor people, by smashing up hotel rooms and restaurants, without care or regard for their fellow man. No, seriously.


In this trailer they make these acts of torment seem like heroic, rebellious acts of unbridled hedonism, but the truth is – and we all know it – that the closest a Tory will ever come to an act of bravery is allowing their mistress to suck them off in the same postcode as their sound biting spouse.


In this trailer there’s murder and intrigue and the sexy suggestion that anything can happen when in the presence of these James Dean-esque rogues.


Spoiler alert: the worst that’s ever happened is Boris Johnson types have had to pay for smashing the windows of establishments that didn’t want them there, while a putrid, sweaty-joweled George Osborne shits into his dormitory sink and promises never to drink again.


It’s not a film’s worth. It’s not even an interesting anecdote.


I’m holding out for the Leon Brittan missing paedophile dossier film.


Funny, how?

It feels like every couple of years, I’ll accidentally encounter a radio phone-in or daytime television debate about whether or not women can be funny. And let’s have it right the statistics don’t look good. The truth is that there aren’t very many successful female comics, and those that exist are either wildly self-deprecating, or hated. Often, both.



“Ooo, look at me, I’m dead old/ thick/ fat” she says, and the rest of the world either laugh along, or pour scorn on their over reliance on self-hate.


Yes, yes there are notable exceptions and – in the US especially – women comics are afforded occasional notable success, but this usually dissipates and is still infused with the idea that they’re working on a “token” ticket. So, is the truth that women aren’t funny?


Well, no. Of course, not.


Women are very funny. And if the political faux pas of people like Roseanne Barr and Joan Rivers are something you can’t get past; Victoria Wood, Mae West, Lucille Ball and a host of comic female actors could probably sway you.


However; in order to make people laugh, an audience has to entrust you with a certain degree of power. You as the comic are the architect of an audience’s response (that they believe is instinctive, but is in actual fact much more about conditioning) and audiences don’t trust women. I don’t just mean male audiences either, although to a certain degree we’re all a male audience.


There is an extra dimension to this, too. This idea that a woman cannot fall within the narrow parameters of sexual attractiveness, and be funny, at the same time.


We have to put women into various social categories, because the sexually desirable must not be allowed to be more than fuckable, and the less sexually desirable (measured against narrow aesthetic parameters that very few women can attain for very long) must make up for it. If a woman is more than just attractive or funny, then they are too powerful.


We can afford the Sarah Millicans, Jo Brands, and Miranda Harts of this world their own television shows and National Treasure titles, as long as they are constantly reminded of how intrinsically unfuckable they are and as long as they don’t get ideas above their station, or hope to make narcissistic, pathos-laden comedic “art” like Bill Hicks, Stewart Lee, or Daniel Kitson.


Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing Kitson & co. live and to bathe in their comedic majesty, but do I think women aren’t capable of reaching existential conclusions about humanity, enriched with humour and passion? Women eject humans out of their genitals, lads. You don’t know the meaning of nihilism and existential angst.


But I digress.


The point is that women can either be worth shagging, or funny. Sometimes neither, never both. Either we accept that this is because less attractive women (by ridiculous Western, socially imposed standards) are born funny, and those who adhere to those very narrow aesthetic standards lack wit (but somehow manage to acquire it as they age and begin to edge outside of those aesthetic parameters), or we agree this is about power and not about how funny women are, but how funny we (as an audience/ society) allow them to be.


With that in mind, I think about beautiful men.


Being honest, I needn’t have that in mind, because I’m always thinking about beautiful men.


I think about dicks and thighs and wrists and faces and stomachs and I think about all of these things with an intense sexual desire.


And here’s something else: so do most other heterosexual women.


I say this because, along with the compartmentalizing of women, and this unspoken societal understanding that women are either fit or funny, there is this prevailing sense that all women want is someone who will make them laugh or take care of them, or any list of other attributes that aren’t about physical attraction.


The idea that men – in direct contrast to the fit or funny women model previously outlined – could be purely lusted over for nothing more than their physical attributes is something we don’t entertain.


Do we recognize beautiful men, like Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp? Yes, we do.


But we allow them the freedom to also be actors, to wear shit clothes, to have tabloid pictures taken of them with guts hanging out over bath towels. We allow them to grow ridiculous facial hair, get old or fuck women decades younger than them without so much as a raised eyebrow. Because – and I reiterate this – there’s this sense that women are much more worthy in their desires.


I’m not. I’m not worthy at all.


I’ll pretend to laugh at your jokes to fuck you, and if you’re extraordinarily attractive I’ll fuck you, even if you bore me.


Something that all men should know is that they’re probably never going to be as beautiful as Elvis Presley or Marlon Brando and that everyone you’ve ever fucked is likely to wish you looked better, at some point. Unless of course you do look like Elvis Presley, or Marlon Brando, in which case – call me.


Know that women aren’t less shallow and that sex isn’t less important to us than you. Also know that women do not have a more generous understanding of physical attractiveness.


Marlon Brando was a beautiful man, made fitter by a ridiculous talent. A talent he was allowed to explore, because he wasn’t reduced to his frankly perfect physicality. Similarly, Elvis Presley had the sort of face that Michelangelo himself could not have sculpted, but he was also allowed to sing and be a bit of a knob.


But the most interesting thing about these stunningly handsome men, and similarly spectacularly attractive men like James Dean, Mohammed Ali, Paul Newman – is that their physical beauty is not the legacy they have left or will leave the world. Conversely, Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall… it’s all about how fit they were and which men they fucked.


Nowhere is there a better example of how insidious and all-consuming patriarchal objectification is than those very examples. You don’t even need to see coked-up, close-ups of unhappy-looking women in hardcore porn flicks, to see how little society values us.


So here’s what the truth is; women can be both, neither or a combination of socially attractive and funny. Some of the funniest people you know are probably women. The reason we don’t allow funny women to be successful is because we (I’m still using the royal we here) don’t trust women with too much power. But, much like women not being funny is a mythical social construct to subjugate and disempower women, also know that women really don’t have a greater capacity to overlook the physical imperfections of men. Contrary to the socially constructed myth (which affords men the freedom to not be constrained by the same aesthetic pressures they impress on women) that we’re working on a higher spiritual plane to men; in actual fact, we lust over the veiny dick of the object of our desire, in much the same way as you think about our cunts.


Chin up, knobhead. I’ve got some Spanx you can borrow…



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