Louis Tomlinson and the Baby Drama

I don’t like the term “guilty pleasure”, it often seems to be a cop out for people who don’t want to admit liking something which is considered to be naff (a cheesy movie or uncool band). The closest I have to one is reading the tweets of One Direction fans on Twitter.

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Whenever there is a One Direction related news story I always check Twitter because it’s guaranteed to be trending as the Directioners are legion and tweet happy. Seriously, all the criticisms of social media of making it too easy and immediate to put your foot in your mouth are proven with Directioners who tweet with a visceral, purely emotional style.

It’s fascinating to read because it’s so gloriously raw and unfiltered. When you’re a teenager, as most 1D fans are, everything takes on more resonance and your emotions are far more intense and varying. I blame the hormones. And the result is manic tweets which can express hatred, love and seeming madness. A lot of fans are normal, even witty, but it’s the nutbars who are so fascinating.

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A shrine where Harry threw up. What the hell?

It can get ugly and the Directioners issue death threats with the frequency of a comic book villain. But of late it’s taken a weird, surreal turn.

This is because there is a One Direction conspiracy theory. And it is utterly crazy.

The theory seems to be the work of the “Larry Shippers” a subgroup of Direction fans who “ship” (mentally pairing two people together romantically, can be fictional or real people) two of the band members together, Harry and Louis, hence “Larry”.

This is despite both men having had relationships with women and commented that it’s weird and not true, there is still a branch of the One Direction fandom which believes it is a thing and that the boys are being forced to hide their love.

Firstly, I just want to say, and I know I sound old here, but this shipping two boy band members together seems a new thing. I can’t remember girls at school discussing whether Ronan and Keith were secretly dating or fantasising over them together. Maybe they did, but the  fledgling internet didn’t give them an outlet yet.

It seems odd, but allow me to play amateur psychiatrist for a moment.

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While they may be daydreaming of being with one of the band on some level the fan has realised this is unlikely. However, they want their idol to be happy. But the idea of them with another woman is hard to deal with.

By pairing them together they can have their idols be happy but there’s no woman to be jealous of. It’s a sort of coping mechanism.

Anyway, last year Louis got a girl pregnant and Twitter was awash with Directioners losing it. There was anger and disbelief, and the woman involved, Brianna Jungwirth, got a lot of flak, which wasn’t cool.

The conspiracy theory was that the pregnancy was bogus. Then the baby was born. Then they changed it to that the baby was a fake. And now it’s that Louis isn’t the father of the baby.

The idea is that the band’s management has orchestrated a fake pregnancy in order to cover up the fact that Larry is real. Brianna is, I guess, an actress? And the baby is someone else’s, and all of this is done to cover up the homosexual relationship.

Now, most conspiracy theories are a little nuts, but this one falls down early on because it just doesn’t make sense. Think of all the effort this would take to set up and all the people who might blab. And the reason for it doesn’t work either.

It’s 2016, and 1D are making serious bank. I doubt that if two came out as gay it would hurt their rep that much. Sure, they might take a hit as the anto-gay parents stop their kids listening, and maybe a few fans themselves would bail, but One Direction’s core audience is younger and you’d expect them to be more accepting. Hell, it might even win them a bigger gay audience.

The risk to gain ratio is all off. Faking a pregnancy is tough, and the potential gain from it doesn’t justify it.

The theory has apparently been bubbling away online for a while but it’s blown up recently with Brianna herself commenting on how upsetting reading all the analysis and accusations is (here’s a more detailed look at the theory). I can only imagine how awful it must be to know people are scrutinising your uploads and accusing you of lying.

It even made the front page of a national paper, admittedly The Star but still, it’s bizarre that it got this far.

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Like all conspiracy theories it holds an odd fascination for me as I can’t quite get my head around why people feel like this and am unconvinced by their “evidence”. Like UFO nuts or flat earthers it’s a glimpse into a subsection of society who have some out there ideas.

But it’s important to remember the real people involved, and this might be hurtful for them. Also, I don’t envy Louis having to sit his son down at some point and explain all this.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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Comedy Gig Review: Michael McIntyre at the Duchess Theatre, London

MWF had chanced upon free tickets for this gig, where Michael McIntyre was due to perform in a small venue to test out new material. At twenty quid each it was too good a chance to pass up and so on Monday night we headed to the Duchess.

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It was a very small theatre, with only a couple of hundred seats and it was pretty much full. It was a great opportunity to see McIntyre working a smaller crowd as he can pack out arenas. Personally I like the small room as it encourages more interaction and feels more relaxed.

McIntyre delivered what you expect, cheerful observational fare which was solidly entertaining and kept the laughs flowing. There was a sense of it being a work in progress, but it was fun to see him riffing and then pausing to scribble notes.

It means that when we see him perform later we’ll have a feeling of being first to see some of his stuff, including great routine about his kids’ toilet habits (“Who’s poo?!” Makes for a decent catchphrase) and given the small setting he also discussed a trip to White Hart Lane and offered a shock revelation about one ex-Spurs player.

McIntyre had support from Charlie Baker and Seann Walsh. Baker struggled with a crowd who didn’t seem to know what to make of his singing and dancing schtick, and the response was mild.

Walsh, who’s sarky curmudgeon persona is a delight and he offered keen observation. The crowd were a little standoffish at first but Walsh won the room and by the end was getting big laughs.

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Walsh

I’d liked what I’d seen him do before but was still impressed and will definitely check him out if he comes to Wales.

McIntyre returned for a bit more and continued to impress and it was a fantastic evening out and we left amused and satisfied. He really was very funny and the small venue brought a new side to his act, which I enjoyed.

8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Twelve Thoughts About Spice World

The late ’90s. Spicemania is running wild, the girls are global stars and everyone knows them. Furious debate rages over who the best Spice is (I flip flopped between Emma and Geri, finally settling on Emma).

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They release a movie which is part A Hard Day’s Night and part crappy kids TV show. I only watched it this year, at MWF’s urging, and I have some thoughts-

1. The Cameos Are Insane

Elton John turns up about three minutes in and the cameos just keep coming. Bob Hoskins says “Girl Power”, Stephen Fry is a judge, Hugh Laurie is Poirot and Bob Geldof lets them do this-

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Why, Bob, why?

2. King of the Cameos is Roger Moore

He plays the group’s manager and bosses their tour manager over the phone with weird quotes. He also wears his old Bond costumes and strokes various animals- cat, rabbit, piglet.

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Taking the money!

There’s a strong sense these were done in one day as halfway through one scene the piglet squeals and Moore just powers through like a boss. You get the impression he just wants to finish, pick up his cheque and go home.

Being Moore though, he’s still suave as all hell.

3. Aliens turn up for no reason

The girls go for a pee and some aliens rock up. One gropes Mel B and Geri kisses one and then they leave. It has no bearing on the plot.

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Now that's what I call a close encounter

4. I’m 80% sure they only got Meat Loaf for one gag

As their driver Loaf is asked to fix the toilets, at which point he says: “I love those girls, and I’d do anything for them. But I won’t do that.” It made me smile.

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Meat Loaf

5. 90s fashion was terrible

Seriously, I can’t believe the Spice Girls were the coolest people on the planet at this point.

6. There’s a subplot about their friend who’s pregnant. I don’t know why.

I have no idea why, but when she gives birth Geri chimes is with “Now, that’s girl power!”

7. The Gary Glitter song is awkward

Glitter has been pretty much deleted from the pop culture landscape, so it’s weird to hear the girls performing one of his songs. Apparently he was also due to cameo but that got axed as allegations surfaced, obviously they thought it was fine to keep the song.

8. Victoria is the worst actress

The bar isn’t that high, but she is far and away the worst of the bunch.

9. They complain about their nicknames, but then play up to them throughout

Mel C is obsessed with Liverpool winning the league. Mel B is lairy. Emma is disturbingly child-like at times. Posh is shallow and snobby. The only break is Geri who dishes out random facts and is shown to be boy-crazy.

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Random. And wrong (it's the whale shark)

10. Spice Force Five probably would have been a better movie

Seriously, missed opportunity.

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11. Geri’s boobs can apparently rouse someone from coma

Geri, Mel C and Victoria visit a teenage boy in a coma. Posh tells Geri to take her top off, but then says she’s only joking. However, the possibility of seeing Ginger Spice’s breasts is enough to have woken the boy up.

A boy’s desire to see naked Geri is probably the film’s most realistic moment.

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Realism

12. It’s actually kinda fun

Look, it has some clunky acting, groan worthy jokes and a silly plot but it somehow works in a so daft it’s fun way.

There seems a genuine feel good factor behind it and it powers through. Also some of the fourth wall breaking is kinda smart. It’s a mess but it’s an entertaining one.

Although that could just be nostalgia talking.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Do Not Touch The Celebrities

For us regular Joes encounters with celebrities can be a bit overwhelming. We’re used to seeing these people on screen or stage, so for these larger than life to be in Tesco or whatever is a bit of a shock.

Reality TV has changed the nature of celebrity and opened up what was an exclusive club to a wider group but TOWIE, Teen Moms and Big Brother housemates aside most celebs exist on an elevated platform and can be viewed as modern day royalty or the subject of almost religious devotion and idolisation.

I think this is why people can be idiots around celebrities. In my limited interactions with celebrities I’ve managed to keep my head although I do regret bothering Stewart Lee in a Swansea comic shop.

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You can feel the awkwardness

But others seem to not manage this, and I’ve read about two celebrities who have had fans cross the line of manners and personal space.

First up is Norman Reedus who plays crossbow wielding badass Daryl in The Walking Dead. During a photo op at a TWD convention (I must now begin begging MWF to go to one), Reedus was posing with a female fan who admits she “lost her mind”. Turning she bit the actor on the chest and was tossed out of the convention.

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Reedus was naturally freaked out, but seems to have taken it well and won’t press charges, although may be more defensive if/when he poses with a fan again.

The second celebrity to have fans cross a line is Amber Rose, who stated in an interview that she is regularly groped by fans who seem not to realise that’s not cool.

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Rose

Rose said that she thinks people think it’s okay because she’s quite “cool” with fans and takes photos with them. Of course, a photo isn’t permission to cop a feel, and it’s worrying that it even needs to be stated.

Rose’s admission prompted a predictably dimwitted response as people attempted to blame her clothing, as if she has nobody to blame but herself for showing a little bit of skin. I hope these people don’t go to beaches or they’ll probably end up in jail, as they seem to think it’s fine to grab on someone.

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Skimpy clothing is not an invitation, or permission to get busy hands. It’s just what a woman has chosen to wear. Similarly because of Rose’s job as a model and stripper, people think it’s fine. Nope, regardless of job a woman’s body is her own and you don’t touch her without her being okay with it.

I just think folks need to remember that celebrities are still people and that just because they’re in the public eye doesn’t make them public property. Maybe there should be a celebrities commandments or something:

1. Thou shalt not touch without permission.

2. Thou shalt be polite.

3. Thou shalt not take a photo without asking. For it be Creepy.

4. If a celeb is eating, leave them alone.

5. If you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

6. They may not be massively cheerful or friendly, but remember you are a stranger to them and they have their own stuff going on.

7. Even if they make their living getting naked you still don’t get to touch without them saying it’s okay.

8. Make sure you have the right celebrity.

9. As always, don’t be a d**k.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Expensive labels: Fashion thoughts from a man in joggers

Watching golf on TV. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Veganism.

There are some things I just don’t get. Probably the biggest is fashion and the industry that surrounds it.

I get that clothes can be about expressing your individuality, beliefs (I own an anti-war shirt or two) or cultural allegiances (football shirts). It can show what subculture you belong to, but what I don’t like is when people start using clothes as a status thing. So you have a flash shirt? That don’t impress me much.

I have simple tastes when it comes to clothes, being a jeans and T-shirt kinda guy. The only area I really go a bit further is shirts and trainers, where I like a bit of colour.

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Wayne Mardle is my style icon

You know those articles where they get the writer to leave their comfort zone? They could send me to London Fashion Week. I’d come back with stories of awkwardness, embarrassment and rants about the whole thing.

I don’t follow fashion so I only know LFW is going on because PETA protested it. I agree with this as I don’t agree with using fur in clothing unless you’re stranded on an island or you kill in self defence. If I got attacked by a bear and somehow came out on top I think I could keep a trophy.

I don’t back all of PETA’s policies but I am with them on the anti-fur stuff and think their campaign in this area is smart, using celebrities to draw attention to it.

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Anyway LFW arrives hot on the heels of New York Fashion Week, which I only heard about because of Lady Gaga, but which reminded me of why I don’t get fashion.

Lady Gaga was modelling for Marc Jacobs, and everyone was kicking off about how she “slayed”. I had a look and while she nailed the dead eyed model look, I hate to say it, but she looked daft. And I defended the meat dress, people.

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I mean, what’s the look here? It’s a total mess. The giant collar thing. The (hopefully fake) fur on the arms. The boots. What the hell?

Thing is Jacobs is a big deal and got applause this is despite the fact that people quickly noticed that another celebrated modelling for him, Kendall Jenner, looked like she’s joined the Night’s Watch.

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If Kris Jenner was my mum I'd head to the Wall too

It’s Jacobs who I’m focusing but most designers are the same. The stuff they show on the catwalk is unlikely to see the streets and is just them showing off. They get to use models as their Barbies and throw on these ridiculous get ups and then the fashion media labels them geniuses and visionaries.

Jacobs then releases clothes for the regular folk but because his name is slapped on them he gets to charge ridiculous amounts for them. Take this shirt:

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$395!! That’s how much he asks for that. That’s £284, for that I could get new trainers, a couple of new t-shirts, jeans, underwear and probably still have some left over for coffee and a new book.

I mean, it’s a decent shirt, don’t get me wrong, but the only thing special about it is the name on the label. That’s what baffles me.

Look at other things where the brand is important- with tech it’s about specifics and compatibility (unless you’re a full on iDiot) and with cars it’s about reliability. Sure, for some it’s status, but they tend to be idiots.

But clothes? Is a Marc Jacobs shirt better made, more comfortable or more hard wearing than a shirt from New Look? Is it so much better that it justifies that price tag.

For too many people the name matters because it will impress other people. That having a flash watch will make you seem more successful, that a posh frock makes you seem more sophisticated. It’s showing off, and not even about something you’ve done, just something you’ve bought.

If you have the cash, go nuts, but don’t act like it makes you better. Or that those clothes are special, because Giorgio or George, we wear clothes for two reasons- modesty and protection from the elements.

Fashion? I don’t get it.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


#FreeKesha: What about the men?

Earlier this week pop star Kesha was in court trying to get released from her contract with Sony and Kemosabe. The situation is horribly ugly for the singer, who finds herself trapped in a deal and obligated to record six more albums with a man who has abused her, producer DJ Luke.

I’ll make no bones about it, I believe and support Kesha and feel the position she finds herself in is disgraceful.

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Kesha

Before anyone cries “innocent until proven guilty”, I understand the concept but in cases of rape it’s a tricky one to apply. Because in presuming the accused innocent we are suggesting that the victim is lying.

Our culture has some serious issues with rape and one major problem is that victims are often placed under the microscope in ways that are grossly unfair, and their accusation is suspected and questioned.

Regardless of dress, lifestyle or profession, rape is rape. Yet, we get comments on how much women have drunk, what they wore or where they went. It all seems to suggest that in some way the victim was “asking for it”. No woman is asking for it.

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Personally, I think the victim should be believed and protected. That should be the starting point and investigation can come later.

False rape claims are rare and a woman has very little to gain from lying, as mentioned it places them under scrutiny and especially in Kesha’s case it doesn’t make sense.

If it was just a case of the relationship being strained she could have merely gritted her teeth and ground out six albums as quickly as possible. If Fleetwood Mac could make Rumours while the members were breaking up, then a personality clash would be easily overcome.

The news that a judge refused her appeals to be released is so infuriating and upsetting, as were images of Kesha reduced to tears in court. A young woman is being forced to make a horrible choice- give up the career she has built and loves, or go and work with a man who was physically and emotionally abusive to her.

Nobody should be forced to interact with their abuser and the judge’s ruling seemed more about business than the issues involved.

Really dropping the ball are Sony, who look terrible on this whole thing. Firstly, they seem to be siding with DJ Luke, which is not cool and secondly they appear to be putting profit over Kesha’s wellbeing. Sony could have handled it a lot better. They could have just let Kesha go and cut losses, or else worked something out where Kesha stayed with them but the link to DJ Luke was severed and he would not be involved or profit from her work.

Either option would have left them looking a damn sight better than they do now.

Thankfully there is some support for Kesha, with the #freekesha hashtag spreading online as people call for Sony to let her go and support her in what is a difficult time. She herself has thanked and acknowledged the help of her fans, but for it to really take effect she needs her fellow pop stars to help too.

This unfortunately has thrown up a new issue, one which highlights a clear failing in how we discuss rape. Several female celebrities came out in support including Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Lily Allen, Lorde and Arianna Grande.

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While this is heartening to see, it turned a bit sour as Demi Lovato used it to apparently snipe at Taylor Swift for doing nothing. Petty point scoring was not a good thing to see.

The question that comes up here is, where are the men?

We expect the other female stars to rally, because of “sisterhood” but yet we let male stars off the book. Why haven’t Kesha’s former collaborators Pitbull and Flo Rida shown their support?

Rape and abuse our uncomfortable subjects, and ones that men have trouble engaging with. It’s not something we have to fear as much, and fear of saying the wrong thing lurks at the back of your mind. But we have to speak out, we need to show Kesha that we support her too, that we condemn the actions of DJ Luke and men like him.

We need to show that we believe those who come forward with allegations of abuse, that we believe they should be heard and the guilty punished. We need to show that we agree that rape is wrong and there are no excuses.

If more men were out there voicing this then perhaps our attitudes towards rape will change. That the discussion will change so that we focus on the issues that lead some men to feel they are entitled to a woman’s body no matter what and not what the woman could/should have done differently.

The victim is never responsible, the one responsible is the person doing the abuse.

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Kesha is in a position many victims of abuse aren’t: she’s rich, successful and has a platform to voice what happened to her. Despite all these advantages the system has failed her and she is still expected to work and make money for her abuser.

I hope that things change, I hope that there is a happy ending for Kesha. I hope that her courage in speaking out helps other victims to do the same and I hope that it can help our society adopt a better and more supportive attitude towards victims.

We need to change. And men need to take part in that. Nobody is saying it’s all men, but it’s too many men and they don’t get made in a vacuum, we need to understand why these men think and act the way they do and what we can do to make sure less of them do.

I stand with Kesha #freekesha

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Diana

In 1997, Princess Diana died. I was twelve at the time and even then I was mystified, creeped out and suspicious of the mass public grief that followed.

It all seemed a bit showy, fake and self indulgent. Thousands flocked to Buckingham Palace to leave tributes and I found myself struggling to accept that a stranger had impacted on their life so much. Some of it seemed to be a competitive thing, or induced by some kind of feeling that not displaying your grief meant you were cold or didn’t care.

It was like people decided to break away from the stereotypical British reserve and let that upper lip loosen up. Now, I think we should all be in touch with our feelings and express them, but a little bit of control isn’t a bad thing. Also, there are better ways to unleash it, although perhaps the show of letting it out over something you weren’t really connected with was the appeal. It was a safe release of years of keeping a lid on things.

I mean, these two kids probably weren’t that bothered and probably taken by a parent or grandparent who was caught up in the mob mourning.

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My mum is a republican and quite cynical in some regards and I think my distaste for the over the top displays that followed. Also it didn’t help that when I came down on the Saturday morning it was on pretty much every channel and I missed my regular dose of Live and Kicking.

I’m not a complete bastard, I appreciated that for her family it was a rough time and the manner of her death was tragic, but I think the British public went overboard and it didn’t seem right to twelve year old Chris. Also, I think even then I felt that the public was denying it’s part in her death. She was chased by paparazzi who wanted photos because the papers paid big bucks because of the public’s hunger for photos of her.

I know I blogged about Bowie and Lemmy’s deaths and was moved by them but to defend this I truly believe that artists and musicians make more of an impact because their work becomes part of our lives in a way a general celebrity doesn’t.

After her death Diana was elevated to near sainthood and the press continue to sing her praises while avoiding acknowledging that they were part of the celebrity culture which her sons loathe and which intruded on her life.

To this day the British media will pull her out as an exemplar of decency and run stories on slow news days.

The Daily M**l surpassed itself today as they filled two pages with a spread about her dress sense, which seemed to essentially say “she wore something which is kinda like something someone else wore” the idea being that she’s some kind of style guru.

The problem is that some of them are laughably tenuous. I mean, I don’t think Diana invented the white shirt and jeans combo-

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They’re not even the same jeans. And the tops are totally different!

Two whole pages about this?! I doubt this is what the writer dreamed about when they trained to be a journalist.

Google searching photos of Diana and then trying to find photos of current celebrities in vaguely similar outfits. And I’m not sure what the point was, I doubt the celebs even considered Diana in their choices.

Also, in many cases she didn’t look as good as the other picture, for example here’s Diana vs Gaga.

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I just think they could maybe let the Diana stuff rest now, it’s been almost twenty years, move on.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


What we can learn from Kanye

I know, Kanye West is ridiculous in many ways. The daft shades he used to wear, his awful Brits performance, interrupting Taylor Swift, throwing tantrums and the fact he named his daughter North (at least have a silent K to keep the Kardashian tradition alive).

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Surely, those slat things would be a pain?

He’s also responsible for one of the daftest and least sexy song lyrics about making love. I refer to his guest spot on Katy Perry’s “ET” where he raps:

Imma disrobe you, then imma probe you

I hope his real world pillow talk is better than that, for Kim’s sake.

But let’s not forget that he can do some decent stuff, like calling out George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina or the fact that he’s had some ace songs (The College Dropout and Late Registration are solid albums).

But the most important thing we can learn from Kanye?

Being confident in what we do.

Most musicians would announce an album through a bit of artwork or a cryptic tweet. But Kanye? He shared a track list for “Swish” and then announced he’s just finished the “best album of all time”.

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That takes balls.

A lot of us are afraid to be confident or proud of what we’ve done. We apologise for trying or dismiss the results as flawed. It’s a bad habit, this need to put ourselves down, to diminish our attempts. It hurts ourselves and the apologising creates a bad impression for others by lowering their expectations and starting off on a negative.

Self deprecation is fine in moderation, but too much and you’re just undervaluing yourself and sending out the message that it’s fine to trash you, even if it is affectionately.

I get that arrogance is ugly (witness Donald Trump) but surely there’s a halfway point? A place where we big ourselves up more. Where we celebrate our achievements and show our pride in them?

Walk out of an exam announcing you crushed it, present your baking with a flourish, call something you’ve done awesome. Give yourself the kind of praise we heap on others.

Even if you just do it in your head, if you’re worried of looking daft or cocky.

If you don’t love and show pride in what you’ve done, why should others? Own your work, unleash your inner Kanye and blow your own trumpet a little.

Don’t go full Kanye though. Keep a little bit of humour in there, and think hard about what you’re going to name your kids.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


In memory of Alan Rickman. In defence of Emma Watson

This week saw the passing of Alan Rickman, a truly great actor who appeared in many great movies like Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Love Actually, Galaxy Quest, Dogma and Sense & Sensibility, where he oozed dignity and decency as Brandon.

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To a younger generation he will always be known as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. Leading the tributes were his former costars, including the former child stars of those films.

Emma Watson tweeted several times, one of which included this image and quote.

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It made sense for Watson, a vocal campaigner for women’s rights to post this but she was soon under attack from various tweeters who felt she was out of line for “pushing her own agenda” and exploiting Rickman’s death.

Frankly these comments are utterly daft and disrespectful. These strangers are attacking someone who actually knew Rickman for years for how they grieve and remember him. As fans it hurt us, but for those who knew him it must have been far worse.

Also, why shouldn’t she post this?

All of us can comment on his acting abilities, and I’m sure Watson will praise his skills as a performer. What she’s doing with this quote is showing that as well as being a marvellous talent he was a decent bloke with sensible views.

The quote shows him in a good light, it shows a man who believed in a equality and unlike many online knew what feminism is about.

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Watson probably chose this message because it echoed her views and also because it’s statements like this that are part of the reason she admired and now mourns Alan Rickman.

Exploiting his death? No, just showing why she respected him.

The sad thing is that people felt the need to attack someone and  object to an “agenda” which is about equality and fairness. Read the above definition, that’s what Watson and Rickman support, equal opportunities and rights for everyone.

If you attack that you’re basically coming out in favour of a system which places some above others just because of their gender, and that’s a crap thing to defend.

So, I think Watson did nothing wrong and those objecting come from a position of ignorance or hostility.

In closing, I just want to say Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman, you were a great actor, I never tired of watching you and thanks for all the great work you left us.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Bowie

I don’t know when I first heard David Bowie, but I have a good idea that it was in my Dad’s car. I think a lot of us get some pop music education from our parents and I’m lucky that my Dad had some decent taste. The Stones, Dylan and Neil Young were all artists I heard first on cassette on family holidays or when my Dad gave me lifts.

My Dad had the first half of The Best of David Bowie. It collected the 60s and 70s stuff. My Dad was an old school Bowie fan.

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To me the album was utterly unique, different from anything I’d heard before. A lot of the songs had a weird, spacey vibe which as a budding geek I was onboard with. I loved that cassette.

There were great story songs like the tragic Major Tom adrift among the stars on “Space Oddity” or “Ziggy Stardust” where Bowie took on numerous voices to tell the story of a band falling apart as their guitarist gets caught up in his own hype. To this day both songs captivate me after uncountable plays, and when the opening chords of “Ziggy” kick in I get a smile on my face.

There were the dystopian lyrics of “Diamond Dogs”, the surreal beauty of the imagery in “Life On Mars?”, the iconic “Changes” and my personal favourite “The Man Who Sold The World”.

Over the years I got to know more about Bowie, the showman with the knack of changing style yet remaining distinctly Bowie. I was less fussed on his later songs with a few exceptions (“Golden Years” and “Heroes”) but he remained an interesting and singular talent.

Other stars of the seventies fell from grace or faded away, either becoming old men of music or else trying to maintain an image they couldn’t pull off anymore. Bowie avoided both of these by keeping going, retaining some of his mystery and in the process cementing his position as a pop culture icon.

Bowie was cool, there’s no other way to put it. But not the cool of a fleeting trend, a distinctive coolness that stemmed from the fact he was courageous in his individuality. He didn’t chase trends, he was just David Bowie.

His music will endure and continue to be loved and inspire.

Bowie’s death hit me harder than I expected, not just because I loved his music and realised that we’d lost a true legend, but because Bowie had become linked with my own life, his songs had become what I sing to myself, the things that remind me of places and times.

That’s why musician deaths hit us so hard. It’s because their music goes beyond what they’ve made, it becomes entangled in our lives. They become the soundtrack of our lives, so David Bowie is more than just a guy who made great pop music, he was the third passenger in the car when my Dad told me daft jokes, old stories I’d heard a hundred times and talked about movies.

He was there on nights out when I danced like a muppet to his tunes. And he was there on countless bus trips or essay writing sessions when I needed to tune out and daydream. He may be gone, but the music will still be there, and in a way that means Bowie will never die.

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I’m rambling a little now so i’ll just leave it by saying, rest in peace David Bowie.

Top 5 Bowie Songs

5. “Starman”
4. “Life on Mars?”
3. “Space Oddity”
2. “Ziggy Stardust” (the line “making love with his who, Ziggy sucked up into his mind/ like a leper Messiah” is one of my all time favourite lyrics)
1. “The Man Who Sold The World”

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.