Some things in life serve only to induce rage. No matter how small these annoyances may be, they are never insignificant. 'Rant List' is the chronicle of one self-loathing narcissist's seemingly unending pettiness.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

96. Open letters

AN OPEN LETTER TO EVERYONE CURRENTLY WRITING OPEN LETTERS

15th October 2013

Dear Everyone,

           Please stop writing open letters to each other. If you genuinely want to talk to the person you’re supposedly addressing, please find a way to get in touch with them directly. You do not need to include the rest of us in your misguidedly communal diatribes. In making your letter “open”, it seems like you’re really just attempting to jump on the bandwagon of your addressee’s publicity. It's as if you’re desperately clawing for a tiny shred of their pop-culture relevance, selfishly hoping that some of the over the top exposure your recipient is getting will ooze its way to you as your name begins to appear alongside theirs.

But my cynicism aside, maybe your open letters are actually coming from a good place, Everyone. Maybe you are just trying to offer your addressees some sage advice, constructive criticism or even moral support. That’s great and I applaud that, wholeheartedly. But why don’t you keep your exchanges private, Everyone? Would that not be more beneficial for you and them? Couldn’t you then have a real conversation with your recipient, without the prying eyes of the media illiterati weighing in with their own imitation pearls of wisdom? The sceptic in me doesn't think that you want to have an actual conversation, Everyone. You just want to throw your words in to the ether and not hear anything back – or, at least, only hear agreement. But Everyone, that’s not how a conversation works. Conversations are sometimes challenging and your open letters fragrantly ignore that fact, acting simply as monologues masquerading as elements of a two-way exchange. There is no dialogue.

Moreover, don’t automatically assume that the rest of us care about the content of your letters, Everyone. By ungraciously thrusting your letter in to the public space, it carries the self-imposed implication that you’ve said something so deep and so profound within it that everyone else needs to immediately take heed. That smacks of narcissism. How wrapped up in yourself do you have to be to presume that the rest of us want to read your ramblings?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed Everyone, but the letter is an art form dying a slow and painful death. It has been unceremoniously damned to a literary hospice, as terminal cases of email, texting, instant messaging and dang-fangled social media gradually pluck away at its lasts fibres of being. Why not give the dying letter format a final shred of dignity? Keep your letters personal, Everyone. Imbue your words with worth by ensuring that they are not butchered and dissected publicly, but rather absorbed and privately reflected over by your intended recipient. Finally, and I cannot stress this last part enough, stop clogging up my internet with letters that are not meant for me, you cur.

Yours sincerely,
Sam

P.S. I have no idea how I’m meant to post this to Sufjan Stevens.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

95. The never ending abuse of 'Keep Calm and Carry On'


^ I have to admit that, because 'Keep Calm' is so popular, it was really easy to find an online image maker that created the above for me. I feel so dirty.

       When thrust back in to the public eye at some point during the now-distant noughties, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was an interesting relic of a bygone era; one simple propaganda poster perfectly summing up a traditional British war-time attitude of keeping a stiff upper lip, wrapped in a lovely vintage aesthetic. It makes sense that it would become a cultural icon, simply because it was so distinctly British in its enforcement of emotional repression, therefore harkening to a time when the UK just took casual things like the war on the chin. Good chaps, that lot.

       So, in some ways, it’s almost fitting that British society of the 21st century appropriated this wonderful remnant of old school cultural norms in the only way we know how to; by commercialising it. Not just commercialising it though - but by disseminating, altering, riffing on it to the point that it is essentially unrecognisable as an interesting cultural relic and instead is left tattered as the bereft husk of an artefact, it’s heart and soul robbed and sold on the black market for pittance.

       In some ways, my bigger complaint here is how Western modernity responds to anything that becomes remotely popular. Rather than finding any way to maintain the item’s integrity or exercise some degree of self-control and moderation in its usage, modernity vigorously milks the icon until its proverbial udder is sore, dry and empty. And it does it with such unoriginality - such offensively stupid lack of thought – that every successive, non-witty execution becomes yet another exercise in cringe-inducing pain.

       It’s as if every propagator creating an alternate ‘Keep Calm…’ item thinks that some of the charm of the original poster will be reflected on them; much in the same way that everyone thought that if they created a ‘Harlem Shake’ video, they too would appear to be funny and become internet famous. Of course, we all know that’s not the case (trigger warning: features 'A Question of Sport', one of the worst panel shows ever created) and the more a cultural item is poorly reproduced, the more depressing the original artefact begins to become. 

‘Keep Calm…’ is increasingly no longer a manifestation of war-time Britain, but rather a reflection of modern Britain’s complete inability to not ruin something good. This is why modernity can’t have nice things.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

94. Breathy, stripped-down covers of classic songs used in advertising

^ This is exactly what creative reviews are like in an ad agency. Trust me.

      Advertising is an interesting industry. At times unforgivably narcissistic, it is also occasionally very good at distilling what can elicit a genuine emotional reaction and packaging it up in to a neat little TV spot (or some other format). Now, admittedly, it does this for the sole purpose of selling stuff to its emotionally-exploited targets, but hey – welcome to the modern world, it’s morally bereft!

      One thing advertising as an industry is particularly bad at – and really, this in many ways can apply to all creative industries nowadays, be it film, music or whatever else – is genuine originality. I’m not dense enough to claim that true originality exists. There’s nothing new under the sun, every creative output is merely a re-sequencing and synthesised product of a variety of elements that came before it; in the same way that species evolve, so does creative work and culture (the wonderful Everything Is A Remix is a rather erudite analysis of this). Sort of. But there are of course things that had some original thought go in to their craft, even if elements of it are simply repeats of the past – the originality comes through in how the work of the past is recreated and imbued with new meaning through careful fusion.

      To that end, every once in a while someone will have a good idea in advertising. When it’s shown that this idea was successful, every other agency will latch on to it like barnacles on a tanker, ensuring that whatever glory of the idea is gradually rusted and decayed through the on-going depletion of its steely hull – or whatever it is that barnacles do to ship. To get to my actual point, at some point someone decided to do a breathy, female-led cover of an ‘80s pop song and use it in an advert. Lo and behold, it quickly became an easy way to generate the all-important emotional pull for the consumer and the idea was proliferated repeatedly with increasingly less elegance;

A BRIEF TIMELINE OF IRRITATING AD / SONG COMBOS

Christmas 2011John Lewis
Arguably the one that started it all, John Lewis assaulted our senses with a stripped down cover of ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’, thus showing that even something as culturally significant as The Smiths’s heart-rending lament is just waiting to be commercialised to sell overpriced tat at the annual buy-fest of Christmas. -

December 2011 - Smirnoff
Smirnoff gives us a rather lifeless cover of one of the greatest party songs of all time, KISS’s ‘Crazy Nights’.

June 2012 - Kia
This Kia ad sports an almost unforgivable acoustic cover of Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen in Love’. Yes, it gets electrified eventually but the damage to punk is done!

Christmas 2012 – John Lewis (again)
Repeat offenders John Lewis give the breathy treatment to Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Power of Love'.

January 2013 – SEAT
SEAT has an acapella cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’, a hit single from the wonderful Rumours that basically would never need to be covered as it’s already perfect.

My opinions of the cover versions are worthless, of course – as I’ve argued before, there’s no point getting worked up about a cover version. But what it does show is that as soon as something successful is established – in this case, stripped down covers of primarily ‘80s classic pop songs lead by rather twee female vocals – it is done to death until any particular worth the idea may have originally had has been discarded in favour of jumping on the bandwagon and getting as much bang out of your buck as possible. It’s attitudes like this that ensure that creative work will continually be homogenised until we all find ourselves watching beige coloured videos on Youtube with un-definably smooth jazz covers of songs we all already know playing in the background, our jaw agape with drool and our faces expressionless, but our eyes screaming for the sweet release of death from the absurd mediocrity of modern creative culture.

…no? Just me? Oh. Oh dear.

93. Parliamentary debates

^ I've decided to start drawing these witty images. The challenge of course being that I have obviously forgotten how to draw, as you can see.

    I’m not going to lie to you reader, I’m not exactly the most politically engaged of people. I follow politics at a rather need-to-know level because I’m lazy and apathetic. It doesn’t help that the few times  I do make an effort to take stock and improve my understanding of the nonsensical beings that govern our country, I am quickly put off by pretty much everything I see.

    Take parliamentary debates. For the most part, I would kind of assume that a government – an entity built up of some of the most powerful people in the country whose main concern should be nothing more than the betterment of our society – would be fairly good at debate. They’d reason their points somewhat eloquently, respect each other’s right to speak and generally conduct themselves in a fairly civilised manner. After all, they’re often discussing things that have such a huge bearing on our day to day lives that to treat them with the frivolity of a playground argument would be disrespectful to pretty much the entire constituency they’re governing over.

    Then I remember that politicians have about as much respect for their position and country as a dog has to its vomit. Rather than make reasoned arguments, they construct shameless straw-men and claw for worthless scapegoats in order to justify their ludicrous, out-of-touch-with-reality viewpoints. They jeer at one another, making snide little comments about other people in the room, whilst they slobber away arguing that they should get more money from us to fund their ever burgeoning expenses and property development.

    At least have the decency to put up a façade that you care about what will happen to the general public when you enact your next crippling ordinance, rather than treat parliamentary debate with all the grace of the drunken banter of public-school boys downing yards of ale. Until you can show that you actually carry out your unfortunately significant role in society with the due diligence it deserves, I don’t see how any politician can rightfully expect the public to respect them in any sense. If you want to be leaders, act like it – don’t act like 14 year olds playing ‘old boys club’.

Monday, 1 April 2013

92. April Fools' Day and the predictability of pranking


^The fact that such awful clip-art exists for such a pointless day physically hurts my being.

       I’m not adverse to pranks. On the contrary, a good and well thought out prank is often unrivalled in hilarity. Although I was the “victim” of it, one of my favourite pranks was when I went home for the Christmas holidays, only to find on my return to my London house, my flatmates had removed my bedroom door from the hinges and then hidden it. It took me a good thirty minutes to realise I didn’t have a door, when my muscle-memory attempted to close thin air just before getting changed. For a while, I thought that there had been an accident where my door had needed to be removed from the vicinity. It didn’t become obvious it was a prank until I rang one of my flatmates asking if something had happened to my door, only to get the response, “What door?” followed by a stifled giggle. Eventually, my impish flatmate got home to reveal where my door was secreted, as I couldn’t find it. It was under the staircase. A classic.

       But you know what made a lot of that prank good (other than the amusingly obtuse immaturity, I mean)? The element of surprise. At no point would I have expected my door to go missing. Hence, hilarity. Therein lays the problem with April Fools’ Day. Gone is any semblance of surprise. You know to expect pranks everywhere, which makes it all the more depressing when you discover what passes as a prank nowadays – particularly online.

       It’s rarely real people who indulge in the pranks either; rather, it is brands and website owners desperately cloying to connect with internet users through an awfully cheesy sense of humour in a vain attempt to strike up some kind of relationship. There is no surprise, there is no thought, there are no chuckles. There is just this;


Oh, haha. I get it! The joke is that Youtube was always a competition. How funny! My sides are splitting! Seriously, call an ambulance. This isn’t a laughing matter.

       I won’t deny that occasionally a good prank comes out on April Fools’. But the real power of a prank comes from two things; surprise and believability. April Fools’ Day is just a carnival of predictability where any of the good jokes are spoilt by the fact that the joker only saw it fit to exercise their wit on a predetermined day of the year. Yay for the on-going homogenisation of humour.

91. The phrase "With all due respect"

 ^ Just so we're clear, this is the kind of idiot who says things like "With all due respect".

       Working in an office is weird – I mean besides from the crushing monotony, the never-ending sense that this might be all you do for the rest of your regimented life and the constricting feeling that you’ll forever live to serve the arbitrary qualms of someone else, of course. No, I mean it’s weird in that you start to pick up things about how people behave and speak that you may not have noticed at, say, university. Working in a moderately sized office in an industry infamous for its turnover of people, you’re exposed to a variety of different characteristics and attributes, which eventually lets you start to identify what these mean about individuals (sort of). Moreover, you start to become more acutely aware of the throwaway phrases people use to thoughtlessly pepper their language.

       Except of course that none of these phrases are actually that throwaway and any illusion of thoughtlessness to them is only on a conscious level. Rather, these words or phrases become worrying markers that hide subtle warnings, agendas or hints as to what’s going through someone’s head as they say them. For example;

to be fair
[2 b fair] stalling phrase, prefix or suffix to sentences

      1. Prefix: Phrase employed when speaker hasn't thought through the rest of what they're saying in advance; an attempt to buy precious thinking time: "To be fair, I think One Direction are the voice of this generation."

      2. Suffix: Very rarely used by someone actually being fair, measured or grounded. Rather, employed to dampen the stupidity of previous statement.

to be honest
[2 b honest] seemingly meaningless phrase, prefix or suffix to sentences

      1. Phrase used to denote that speaker thinks that the very obvious fact they're about to state is a profound epiphany: synonymous with "I'm about to make a very obvious statement." 

See what I mean? All language means something, even if it’s just a warning signal that you have engaged in an idiot in conversation.

       The worst of these however is “with all due respect”. Do you know what that means? That means “I’m going to insult you now. But you’re not allowed to complain, because I’ve showed due diligence in acknowledging that you should be respected as a colleague / human being”. I’m sorry, but ‘WADR’ is not some kind of magical barrier that means you can say whatever you want to me or somebody else. If you had any modicum of respect, you simply wouldn’t be saying what you’re about to say. You may as well just shout, “HEY EVERYBODY, I’M ABOUT TO BE A SCROTE OVER HERE” and then say whatever you were going to say. It’d have the same effect and at least then, people may give you some respect for being painfully honest about your own pitifulness.

       With no due respect, anyone who uses that phrase is a spineless git afraid of the repercussions of their own worthless opinion – they wouldn’t know what respect was if it married them, had a tumultuous one year relationship that, instead of ending in divorce, saw 'respect' run away with the kids one day whilst they were at work. Or something like that.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

90. The term "amazeballs"


^ Here is a picture of David Cameron saying "amazeballs" moments after he promised to hold an in / out EU referendum, the scrote.

       Sorry, what? “Amazeballs”? What does that mean? Is it the name of a new game show involving a maze and variety of footballs? Is it context specific? Can you only use it if you’re just witnessed some amazing spherical objects? Does it simply mean your balls are amazing? Have you ever noticed that everyone who uses this phrase is generally rather unbearable? Is this entire post going to be made up of rhetorical questions? Is this gimmick old yet?

       I’m all for coining nonsensical new terms that have no real meaning, but “amazeballs” seems to be a phrase constantly overused by that horrible brand of person who thinks they’re “fun” or just a little bit kooky. Of course, they’re not. They’re usually someone you utterly detest being around, but through some unfortunately regular turn of events are forced to be in their physical presence more times that you can manage. And as they keep uttering phrases like “amazeballs” whilst talking about the next episode of the god-awful BBC sitcom Miranda and drinking tea out of their “hilarious” “Keep calm and drink tea” mug, all you can think about is how great it would be if the whole room began to quake and a giant crack opened up under their feet and swallowed them whole, therefore relieving you of their presence forever.

       It’s not that the phrase “amazeballs” is stupid (although, it is 100% stupid and is about as witty as an episode of the aforementioned Miranda), but it’s used by such an abhorrent sect of people that its only real purpose is to allow you to immediately identify someone you should never speak to. However, the fact that It has made it in to Collins online dictionary is a very clear sign that humanity has peaked and we have been in steady decline for many years.

As an aside, if pushed to pinpoint when exactly humanity reached its zenith, I would wager it was probably around the time the song 'Top That' appeared in the film 'Teen Witch'. It's all been downhill since then.

89. Having a Tumblr as your personal website, but the only real theme is your own narcissism

^ It's almost as if the world didn't already have enough obnoxiously sepia-drenched attempts at being profoundly emotional smothering it to death.

       Call me old-fashioned, but I fail to see the communication and media revolution that websites like Tumblr offer people*. On the face of it, Tumblr provides a somewhat dull homogenised template so that everyone using it has a website that’s essentially structured the same way (a bit like Blogspot SSHHHHH). Yes, you can alter the design a little bit here and there, but ultimately there is very little of your own personal craft injected in to the site. Coupled with the fact that all you really do is repost content that someone else has uploaded before and create a bizarre collage of unoriginal material, it results in each Tumblr being devoid of any real sense of creativity whatsoever. Congratulations – you’ve posted a picture and someone else’s witty comment. Aren’t you clever! Of course not. You’re too lazy to even bother to mimic someone else’s talent, let alone display any of your own.

       In the process of doing this, all that Tumblrs usually become is an awful and distorted mirror of their user. In an attempt to reflect a person’s interests and share the things that they find interesting, an individual’s Tumblr becomes a glorified Facebook page – a site where people can continue to perpetuate a very carefully constructed persona of themselves. Not the person they are, but the person they want people to think they are, built up from an absurd mixture of things they didn’t create, but instead foraged for on the internet. I don’t deny that there’s always a degree of posturing in whatever online persona you put forward – I’d be a hypocrite to, considering this complete wreck of a blog – but at least try and do it with some minor semblance of originality and creativity. There’s nothing impressive about assembling an e-scrapbook from the bits and pieces others leave lying about because you think it’s a genuine reflection of you, like some kind of crazed magpie in the midst of an identity crisis. 

       At least back in the day when everyone had a Geocities website, every website looked different and reeked of personality. Don’t get me wrong, they all looked awful and that ‘personality’ was usually “HEY LOOK AT ALL THESE LOW RES GIFS AND BADLY PLACED TEXT BOXES - DIDN'T I MENTION THE MIDI MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND?", but at least you actually had to make something.


^ R.I.P. Geocities 1994-2009 lol

*Okay, not entirely - I do completely understand the social aspect of reblogging things and how sharing is an ingrained human activity, but pipe down, that’s not the point of this entry. And in spite of this post, I’m also aware that there are a few genuinely interesting Tumblrs out there but SHHH again. I’m here to complain, not to be reasonable.

88. Geo Godley's complete obliviousness to his own street harassing antics

^This is Geo Godley. There are probably few things more awful than making a woman – even if it was Paula Abdul – want to hurl after seeing your tackle.

       For the lucky ones who have never heard of him, Geo Godley is one of those Youtube celebrity dolts – the fact that someone can be a celebrity from “vlogging” massively offends me, but that’s another rant altogether. As of writing, Mr. Godley has over 10,000 videos on his Youtube account. The vast majority of his caustic uploads are his “flirts”. Essentially, Godley meanders around London and makes videos consisting of awkward come-ons to random women in the street. What’s worse is because all of these desperate attempts are filmed, everyone watching can see just how unsettling Godley’s antics are. It’s clear from a lot of the videos that the targets are uncomfortable as they try to lose Godley one way or another and, frankly, it’s difficult viewing. Whilst he’s arguably not causing any immediate harm, he’s not only normalising harassment of people but he’s filming and documenting it as if it was socially acceptable.

       Now, Godley himself will dismiss criticisms like this in an instant. A month or two ago, he uploaded a video where, after walking past a Pret A Manger and catching a girl’s eye very briefly, he went in to the restaurant and sat next to her. Unsurprisingly, he was met with indifference, as the girl basically ignored him and tried not to respond as other people in the restaurant just looked on in disbelief at his creeping attempts. After rightly being called up on this video by many people, Geo posts a response saying that all detractors are in the wrong; the woman gave him “an inviting glance”, he’s had “tonnes of positive experiences” doing his video flirts and “the women enjoy it”. Essentially, he throws his harassment off as harmless flirtatious fun, firstly forgetting the fact that flirting requires two active parties and secondly, clearly grossly unaware of any semblance of social boundaries (the claim of ‘fun’ is further lambasted by videos where Geo gets annoyed when girls don’t respond well to him [around 1:30 it gets weird] or he gets indignant about someone blocking the view of the woman he was filming from his window).

       Maybe Geo isn’t intending to cause harm. And to be honest, looking at some of his other videos, he may have had some bad life experiences that have warped the way he approaches people. But despite this, he obviously is causing distress and the fact that he’s oblivious to it is genuinely disturbing. In a social climate where something like the the harrowing #ShoutingBack has taken off as an organic documentation of the harassment that is accepted as standard, Geo’s deluded attempts to defend his flirt footage as nothing more than a “positive experience” only serve to exemplify just how ingrained a problem street harassment is. There is nothing “positive” about filming women who don’t want to be filmed as you publicly harass them. If anything, it seems like you’re building up a bulk of evidence of things that will eventually be used against you in court – and with good reason. This is not how you treat people.

Monday, 14 January 2013

87. "The Big Bang Theory" and its complete lack of humour and intelligence


^ This is not a catchphrase. This is the sound of creative culture crumbling around us.

       This show is awful. Absolutely and genuinely awful. I thought sitcoms were meant to feature comedic situations, not a wealth of ill-informed clichés that are so tired and worn out that any humour and truth they may have held has long since become decrepit.

       What I really don’t understand is the nerd stereotype it portrays – all of them act like Screech from Saved By The Bell - a fairly out of date stereotype when it started 20 years ago. If you’re really trying to parody a modern nerd, my suggestion would be firstly not to hire people who are, for all intents and purposes, completely decent looking except wear glasses – it was blindingly obvious that “Ugly Betty” wasn’t ugly and it’s blindingly obvious that these guys aren’t nerds. If you’re going to stereotype them, at least make them look a bit more like Gabe Newell or something (a reference that anyone involved in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ probably wouldn’t get because it was genuinely nerdy).

       However, the entire show hinges on this really odd nerd stereotype, creating an unforgivable pretence that the jokes used within the show are somehow intelligent; that if someone watching the show actually gets one of the jokes within it, they are by extension intelligent. The jokes are founded on things like science – you have to be smart to get those! Except not really, seeing as it’s nearly exclusively primary school science that is poorly referenced in the show. You know what would be clever? If the jokes were actually funny, rather than just some misguided attempt at “smart people humour”. Smart jokes are brilliant, but never outwardly posture themselves to look smart – that’s what makes them smart. I’ll tell you what isn’t smart though; endlessly making wrong references to geeky things and constantly shoehorning in anything related to GCSE Physics. It’s just cringe-inducing. Bazinga, you piss-wizards.

86. Using the term “Pavlovian” to simply make yourself seem more intelligent than you actually are


^ Pavlov just has one of those faces that says "'sup bitches, I came here to kick ass and externalise your salivary glands in the name of physiology - ya herrrrrd?"

       I don’t dispute for the second that the term ‘Pavlovian’ has its merits and does indeed serve a very valid purpose; within an instant utterance, people familiar with the term get that you’re trying to conjure up the idea of classical conditioning. Fair dos.

       However, what bothers me hugely is when people bandy ‘Pavlovian’ around as a means to make what they’re saying seem more deep and insightful than it really is. It happens all the time in any kind of debate (I say ‘any kind of debate’, but I really mean internet forums because I’m a massive e-nerd) and even work situations. There was a period of my life where I spent about 6 weeks of hearing people utter it in every meeting, every day. A small minority were absolute correct to use it and made brilliant points with it. Others were simply not; they used it without really knowing what it meant in the hopes it would illicit a few nods of agreement from other people in the room. The most depressing fact was that it did. However, when you turn a term like ‘Pavlovian’ in to a thoughtless buzzword, it ceases to have any real impact. Instead, your utterance of the word simply showcases that you’re so devoid of the ability to think for yourself that you have to resort to regurgitating the leftovers of someone else’s wisdom, whittling down their intelligence to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to make yourself look as smart as them. Good work, thickie.

85. Video blogging

^ Got to hand it to this guy. He's got bollocks putting his face to something as offensively annoying as this awful excuse for viewing.

       I thought about being subversive and doing this entry as a video blog to showcase exactly what I hate about video blogs, but then there were plenty of reasons not to;

1) I’ve a face for radio / written word
2) sheer laziness
3) it’d be too dangerously hypocritical, even by my standards
4) because shut up, that’s why.

I know people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. However, at this point, if The List is any kind of glass house, its windows have been long since shattered by bricks of self-denying criticism and the structural integrity of the building is currently in grave question so I’m just going to continue lobbing things.

       Blogging allows slightly too many with nothing at all interesting to say a platform to subject an unwitting internet to their boring rambling (much like this blog dur hur hur hur etc.). Don’t get me wrong though, there are a tonne of incisive, well thought out blogs that have a consistent theme, interesting content and all that bollocks. But for every interesting blog, there are fifty that are essentially about nothing other than their author.

       This is something that has flourished to a nausea-inducing level in the world of video blogging; or, as the incredibly thick would put it, ‘vlogging’. It’s like every modern teen / childish twenty-something desperately clingy for internet fame and their nonsensical musical persona has a Youtube channel nowadays. On this, they will subject a potential internet audience to a variety of 'to camera pieces' where they talk about their day, their interests or something else stupid and essentially pointless to anyone other than themselves. 

       A lot of the time, our "vloggers" will pretend that they are actually hosting some kind of genuine show, as if they had any kind of relevant content to pad out their otherwise random sentences haplessly strung together. In the process of this, they'll adorn their webcam filmed visual vomit with logos, superimposed text and other scribbles that look like a five year old got their crayons out on the screen. They’ll also post-edit everything to absolute hell and back in an attempt to give their vapid speech some sense of momentum; maybe they’ll use the constant jumps in cutting as a way to add in a “hilarious” gag where they’re suddenly wearing a fedora, who knows! That's just how wacky they are!

       Amidst all the webcam yapping and glitzy after effects though, there is almost nothing left other than some self-involved young person’s ego making words and begging young Youtubers to follow them. If this is how entertainment and human interaction is evolving, we are absolutely doomed. I’m preparing my bunker as we speak.

Monday, 7 January 2013

84. People who don't understand what irony is


^ It was very ironic that when I googled 'irony', most of the images were not actually ironic. The irony continues as Jefferson was a believer in God - he was just pro secularism / separation of Church and State. Crumbs.

       Those of you who are using the term ‘ironic’ to mean something darkly funny, mildly unfortunate, tragicomic or whatever else have you: the only remotely ironic thing about the entire situation is that you are using the word ‘irony’ when you clearly don’t understand what constitutes it. Please learn how to use the word correctly before telling me that something is 'ironic' - I am petty enough to immediately correct you and explain why it wasn't ironic.

       As an aside, wouldn’t it be totally meta if this entire post about irony really showed that I didn’t know what irony is? I think I’ve confused myself.

83. Internet atheists


^ Mr. Blue-MS-Spraypaint is a tool.

       If it wasn’t patently obvious from a few of my previous entries, I am rather unreligious to say the least. The last thing I want to do is rant and ramble about it, so to sum up – I am a godless heathen and think science is the way forward blah blah blah something about no afterlife, evolution rocks.

       But as much as an infidel I may be, I can’t deny that there are occasional positive aspects to religion. For one, the last thing I’d want to see is a homogenised global society where everyone believes in the same thing and acts in the same way; a world of constant agreement would stagnate quickly, leaving no room for humanity to develop. It'd also make my BSc in Anthropology even more worthless. On the other hand, there are a wealth of problems assorted religions have wrought upon the world too (and in some cases, continue to – I’m looking at you, Popey), so it's a mixed bag.

       Where we run in to trouble is when we assume that individuals (and by extension, their actions) are endorsed representatives of all people within a vaguely affiliated group. You know, sort of like how in the aftermath of 9/11, all of America decided that anyone Muslim was a bad person (and by extension, Hindus and anyone else vaguely Asian was probably a rotten egg, although that’s a rant about America’s ignorance / Fox news for another day). The implication is of course that no one person within a religious group could have any sense of individual autonomy and disagree with the actions someone else took in the name of their unfortunately shared culture. Sure, there are shared beliefs, but you’d have to be as sharp as a satsuma to think that all members of a religious group unquestionably think in the same way.

       And so I, finally, come on to my gripe – internet atheists. This particular brand of keyboard-warrior thinks it is their responsibility to constantly lambast any issue with a religion as indicative of any and all religions – and indeed, each discreet religious individual - as a whole. Yes, the Pope is a massive hypocrite telling the world that their priority is to feed the starving, whilst he sits in a gold gilded castle, festering with aged automatons and primordial ooze like a modern day Dr. Wily*. 


^ Artist's impression of the Vatican, circa 1988.

Does that necessarily mean that all religious individuals are horrible people with no sense of perspective or reason? No, not really. It does mean that the Pope is a joke, of course. But if you find yourself on a corner of the web populated by atheists, they have a horrible tendency to ramble on about how one person’s actions immediately showcase how ignorant and unfeeling the rest of the religious world is. Take Reddit - a usually quite great website, it sporadically bursts at the seams with self-righteous atheists bragging about their attempts to correct Christian thinking. Brilliant work, you zealot. You're like the drunk who tries to pick a fight at the pub to show off how handy with your fists you are, except now you're accompanied by a pretense of intellectual superiority.

       I’m not defending religion here – I think it’s ultimately a little flawed, but that’s just me. Who cares what other people believe, even if you’re a staunch atheist who lives and dies by evolutionary theory and the pursuit of science? As long as religious individuals aren’t forcing anything upon you or negatively affecting the lives of others, don’t actively seek out to do the same - by all means call them up on it if they are, mind. Despite the intellectual hard-on it may give you, it is not your job to “correct” their thinking. On the contrary, that only makes you as misguided and idiotic as the militant evangelists who originally incensed you in the first place. As you’re the only ones who really care about being vocal about atheism online, you make it seem like every other atheist is an over the top intolerant sap, hell-bent on converting others like a godless missionary. Contrary to popular belief, some of us aren't that intolerant.

       To be blunt, every individual, regardless of what they believe, has the ability to be a terrible person. Being an intolerant atheist doesn’t make you better than an intolerant Christian, you elitist hypocrite. An arse is arse, whether you’re religious or not.


*Bonus points to you if you understand this reference. If you don’t, this is how I picture the Vatican in my head.

82. How badly Donkey Kong Land for the Gameboy has aged


 
^ As much as the Gameboy game has aged, nothing is a relic of its time as much of the CGI animated series. Every episode had at least one song. At least. Christ.

Disclaimer: if you didn’t play videogames in the 1990s, you’re probably better off not boring yourself with this. Go read me ranting about something less nerdy above or below this (good luck with that, it's all super nerdy).

       So a while ago, I decided to buy a Gameboy Pocket. You know, one of those antiquated portable gaming consoles from the ‘90s that has long since been superseded by the Gameboy Colour, the Gameboy Advance, the Nintendo DS, DSi and now 3DS. Essentially, it’s a relic that should provide a lovely opportunity to absolute immerse one’s self in a ridiculous amount of nostalgia.

       As part of this nostalgia-binge, I also made an effort to pick up a lot of classic games that circa 1989 -1996 were the absolute peak of portable gaming technology. Games like Super Mario Land 2, a classic that is still as masterfully enjoyable a platforming romp as it was 21 years ago. Amongst this bundle of regression-enablers was 1995’s Donkey Kong Land – a game that was essentially an attempt to recreate the majesty of the SNES’s Donkey Kong Country on a handheld device. Where DK Country has aged like a fine wine of distilled 2D shenanigans, attempting to play DK Land feels like someone repeatedly jabbing you in the eye with a particularly sharp-nailed little finger.

^ This was cutting edge in 1995. In our lifetimes. Think about that for a second. Text messages on a phone are more aesthetically pleasing than this.

       I realise the Gameboy is very old, but the attempt to recreate DK Country’s lush, vibrantly bright, and colourfully pre-rendered environments and characters in black and white, on a screen that is murkily lit at the best of times has not stood the test of time. Whilst I never remember this game being easy, I quite genuinely can’t make out what is going on half the time any more which makes everything infinitely harder. The biggest challenge is trying to figure out exactly what you’re looking at, as backgrounds, obstacles and monkeys fade in to one blur of monochromatic nonsense until you’re throwing your Gameboy down in frustration. It becomes a horrible episode in Where’s Wally-esque eye-searching, where every few minutes you randomly realise that bramble you saw was actually a small animal that has come to kill you for the umpteenth time. Or that platform you just jumped to was actually just a decoration in the background and you’re now falling to your inevitable death.

       Picking this game up again at the ripe old age of 23 has quite genuinely killed a small part of my childhood – that’s like the opposite point of nostalgia, isn’t it?