In defence of Prince Charles

Right, to lay out my position on the Royals. I’m pretty much neutral. I won’t be bending the knee anytime soon, but I’m not calling for us to wheel out the guillotine. I think they seem nice enough people, if odd, and do some good work for the country, through charity and tourism, but I just think the millions we spend on them could be put to better use somewher else.

One thing I don’t get is the rabid enthusiasm and obsession some people have with them. They’re just another group of celebrities, so why all the fuss?

And speaking of fuss…

This month marks 20 years since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. As such the press has been going nuts about it, catering to a seemingly bottomless reserve of national obsession and voyeurism.

There are TV shows, magazines, newspaper features and the re-emergence of various parasitic people who have exploited their connection with Diana for fame or wealth.

While some seems to have been handled with delicacy, particularly an interview with her sons on ITV. However, depressingly an old, familiar story is being told, that of Diana as a near saint and the villain of the piece being played by her ex, Prince Charles.

I’m not going to say that Chuck was guilt free in their trainwreck marriage, but it seems like there was fault on both sides and other factors at work. Charles’ relationship with Camilla has been tainted for some by the fact that it was going on behind Di’a back. But more on that later.

As all this stuff gets raked up over and over the more tactful at least think how it effects William and Harry, but as his failed marriage is disected once again nobody gives a damn about Charles’ feelings. Or if they do it’s in stupid ways:

In answer, no. No, he won’t. Because I’m assuming he’s not a massive bellend and appreciates that his sons will miss their mum, and that their love for her doesn’t mean they don’t love him.

One of the most controversial things in this prolonged and ugly time of “tribute” was the Channel 4 documentary. This featured tapes of Diana talking candidly about her marriage and divorce, possibly because she felt it was private.

So complete is Diana’s ascension to secular saint status that everything she said was received as gospel. 

Look, we’ve all had mates who have gone through break ups. They come over and they get it all off their chest. You offer sympathy, you take their side but you take it with a pinch of a salt. You’re getting one, highly biased, version of events. It’s heavily edited highlights.

Of course, your buddy’s ex can fight their corner and this is the part that sucks for Charles. He can’t.

First of all, he’s been raised to be King. A King doesn’t go running his mouth to the press, he has to keep his personal feelings hidden, maintain a regal persona.

Secondly, even if he could he’d be bad mouthing the dead and the public would go nuts over it.

And most importantly, Charles probably doesn’t want to go and drag Diana’s name through the mud. Because he knows that it would hurt his boys.

Which means he has to keep quiet as he is turned into the villain. The hatred of Charles has ebbed and flowed over the years, but with the 20th anniversary madness it’s all been stirred up again.

Recent polls have shown that people want William to be King next, showing a startling lack of knowledge of how monarchies work. You don’t pick. It’s whoever is next in line and that is Charles.

If you want a daft, old fashioned system you have to follow the rules or else it may as well just be an open public vote for the next monarch. And if the field is open we could have someone more fun than William.

Charles and Diana probably should never have married. But they did, and it went wrong. As with many things it’s not a black and white situation.

The thing is that I find silly is that people regard Charles’ divorce as grounds for him being unsuitable for the big chair. This is stupid because (a) other monarchs have got divorced and (b) it’s 2017. Attitudes towards divorce have changed, thankfully and there are no other jobs where having divorced would cost you the gig.

I’ve always felt in a perfect world Charlie would have just married Camilla right away and Diana could have had a longer, more peaceful life away from the press.

I find it hard to understand why anyone begrudges Charles for having gone on to find happiness with Camilla and remarry. They seem to have real affection and connection, and it seems unfair that she should get blasted along with him for that. 

Charles and Camilla loving life. Of course they are, they’re with Brian Blessed!

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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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.


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.


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.


Unpopular Opinion: I’m not that fussed on Beyonce

There seems to be some kind of widespread belief that everybody loves Beyonce. The hyperbolic way she is praised and discussed would mean that aliens visiting Earth could be forgiven for thinking that Queen Bee (that’s the best nickname her fans could come up with? And don’t get me started on “the Bey-hive”) is actually part of global royalty.
Even other celebs have fallen into this, like Anna Kendrick.

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But there’s the thing, personally I don’t think Beyonce is all that great.
I’m not saying she’s bad, she’s obviously a talented performer and seems nice enough, but at some point she went from being the successful one from Destiny’s Child to being this kind of towering icon who seems impervious to criticism or even being discussed with perspective.
Don’t believe me? This is how Buzzfeed wrote about her new song;

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The song in question failed to produce a tear from me, and I wondered if I was alone in finding it dull. The start where Beyonce sings is perfectly fine, she has a great voice, but it’s nowt special and the rest of the song is just an uninspiring dance track.
For me Beyonce’s best song is still “Crazy in Love” from back in 2003. I’ve likes some of the others, but my reaction to most has been “meh”.
I can’t be the only one who thinks that this is a case of a decent artist being hyped up to icon status rather quickly. The entertainment industry runs on hype but the wholesale buying into Beyonce as this pop goddess leaves me puzzled.

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Two of MWF’s friends seem to be fans (I refuse to use the fan group’s name again) and seem to agree with this but I’m unmoved by Beyonce. She’s not terrible, which would be something but there’s something almost mechanical about her career. She does what she does very well but she never seems to push boundaries or try anything drastically different.
And yet no criticism comes her way and her every move is treated as a massive deal and the best thing ever.
Compared with the other female popstars about at the moment she seems lacking in anything approaching an “edge” and, while seeming nice enough, doesn’t capture my attention that much.
What am I missing? Is there some appeal I’m just not getting? Or do others not see what the fuss is about but just get drowned out by the OTT praise and exaggeration.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


An ugly glimpse at the gutter

It’s been a year since Robin Williams died, an event which highlighted that even someone who brings joy to millions can suffer from depression. Although it pales into insignificance next to the heartbreak his family must have experienced, it was a death which hit his fans hard as well.

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For many people, including myself, Robin Williams was a massive part of my childhood and films like Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire, Jack and Jumanji meant a lot to us. As I grew up more films joined the list (Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting and The Birdcage), and off screen he always seemed like a good dude.
At 30 celebrity deaths have lost their ability to truly upset me. A few have been shocks, and in all cases I feel sympathy for the families, but none have wrecked me. When my Mum was younger she cried over the death of her rock idol, Marc Bolan, which unfortunately fell on her birthday.

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For me, Williams’ death is the closest I’ve come. The circumstances, the connection with my youth, the realisation that he had clearly been suffering for quite some time, all of it was upsetting. I wasn’t alone in this, and every Williams movie we’ve watched since has upset MWF.
A year has passed and it’s still hard to think that such a talented, successful and well loved person could be brought so low. But that’s the thing with depression, it doesn’t give a damn who you are, it’s a remorseless, destructive disease that chips away at who you are and removes all hope from your life.
Sorry, that was rather bleak.
What made me want to write this blog was anger. Pure anger.
At work I saw a trashy magazine which had splashed across its cover a story about Williams’ suicide note being revealed.
I looked at this rag and seethed. This is not news, this is gutter journalism at its very worse. Who goes digging for something like that? The last words left by a man suffering from depression, clearly meant for his loved ones.
It’s an intensely personal thing and one that the rest of the world has no business knowing.
Even by the low, low standards of celebrity journalism this is shameful.
I’ve wanted to be a journalist since my early teems (part of the reason I started blogging), but I can’t imagine ever sitting there and typing out what someone left as a suicide note, especially to put it forward as entertainment. How can you justify that? How can you look at yourself in the mirror after that?
You’re not exposing corruption or bringing wrongdoers to justice, you’re just trading on people’s morbid curiosity and invading someone’s privacy. Worse, you’re dredging up a family’s pain and grief, and opening that up to the world.
And that’s not cool.
Why don’t these people exercise a bit of compassion? A little bit of decency and respect for another human being and their privacy. Just pause for a second and wonder how they’d feel if it was their loved one who’s personal life was being shared with everyone.
Robin Williams deserves to be treated with respect, and who we should remember for his talent and achievements. I don’t know why anyone would want to read a stranger’s suicide note, or buy the kind of shameless mag that would run it.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


On the first day of Christmas, Josie gave to me, the news I was a daddy: Josie Cunningham: The Final Chapter

Long time followers of this blog will know that I have long been interested in the tabloid saga that is Josie Cunningham’s life (click the tag for more). Since gaining notoriety as the “NHS boob job girl”, Josie has been a regular feature in the tabloids, her life becoming a soap opera that has seen her vilified in the press, subjected to online abuse and dubbed “Britain’s most hated woman”, although that is contested.

The latest appearance came as Josie announced her plans regarding how she planned to let the father of her child know her kid was his.

There are 3 possible daddies: The guy who catfished her pretending to be a professional footballer, a surgeon who was a customer when she was escorting and a friend’s boyfriend.

Josie is having paternity tests and on Christmas Eve is getting a friend to drop off cards to the three blokes’ houses with their results. It’s kinda smart and Josie’s idea to sever ties with the non-dads sounds good (none of them sounding like winners).

The problem is that yet again Josie decided to go public in a big way. This was a bad idea, as the reaction was general outrage and more abuse. Had she just done it on the quiet then that would have been alright (not the best way to tell a guy he’s the daddy, but I guess it beats going on Jeremy Kyle) but blabbing to the press just made Josie the target for more outrage and abuse.

But the problem is that Josie is doomed to continue to live her soap opera life in the spotlight. This is partly because she seems to have become hooked on the notoriety she has garnered, the closest to celebrity she can get. Like many people in our celeb-obsessed culture, fame must have seemed like a dream, a get out for Josie, and unable to get the real thing she’s settled for this.

I’ve said since day one that Josie would probably be better off out of the public eye, that her introduction to the world as the “NHS boob girl” meant she would be doomed to be a tabloid villain. And sadly, not being the savviest operator Josie has been unable to turn the tide. In fact she’s given the press plenty of ammo to continue demonizing her due to a knack for saying/tweeting controversial things.

Like in this instance.

The problem is that I’ve realized that I’m not helping this situation. As long as people keep talking about her antics the longer she’ll stay, for lack of a better word, “newsworthy”. I honestly think Josie would be better off fading away, becoming a half-remembered item from the papers.

So I need to act appropriately, and while my blogs are just a drop in the ocean of comments and discussion of Miss Cunningham (and far less vicious than most) they are still part of the problem.

Barring the fact that she does something truly remarkable (e.g. being the first person on Mars, headbutting the Pope or discovering the cure for cancer) or actively impacts my life (if I meet her, for example) this will be the last time I write about Josie on this blog, it’s an early start for a 2015 resolution, I guess.

I’ve always felt that Josie was something of a victim of the press’ desire to create hate figures to distract us from the real problems of the world (the first boob job cost under £5k, and the UK government has wasted much more on much worse), and her own desire to be famous, seemingly at any cost and without regard for how she achieves that fame or how it manifests.

This is the 14th post I’ve written about Josie Cunningham and over that time she’s intrigued and frustrated me. There have been times when she’s said nasty or stupid things I’ve disagreed with, or times when she’s gone after other celebrities in a way I don’t feel was called for and which just seemed nasty and vindictive, especially from someone who knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end. She’s no saint, and I’m far from a fan of what she’s done.

But I genuinely believe that Josie doesn’t deserve most of the abuse she receives and that much of it is utterly vile and unnecessary. Her major crimes appear to have been lack of thought before speaking/tweeting and a heightened desire for fame, which is hardly something she’s alone in possessing as evidenced by the fact that Big Brother can still fill a house every year. Neither of these justify the level of vitriol that gets thrown at her online.

This is a young woman who came to our attention because she received a boob job on the NHS, which stemmed from her insecurities around her body and the bullying of others. The public reaction to a clearly insecure person has been disgusting, and shows a depressing lack of compassion or attempt at understanding, and exhibits an ugly side of online communication where people just pile on to send hate and threats to somebody they don’t even know. For me, the trolls are worse than Josie.

I wish her well for the future, and hope that she can find someway to be happy, although I suspect that would involve sacrificing her current “fame”, which is how she makes money and which she seems hooked on.

Goodbye, Josie.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Josie on one of her television appearances, which is how she makes her living and continues to fuel her “fame”

 


Milking it: Seriously, Josie, it’s getting really hard to have your back

Josie Cunningham, the notorious “NHS boob job” girl, has continued to haunt the tabloid press, and her newly arrived daughter has been born into a crazy world. Having narrowly avoided having her entrance into this world attended by four strangers, her daughter’s now unwittingly become part of the tabloid circus following Josie’s latest Twitter blunder.

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Josie was asked by various people on Twitter if she was breastfeeding, and her response was, shall we say, unexpected:

wish people would would stop asking if I’m breast feeding like Kimberley Walsh! No I’m not! I think the idea is vile and borderline incest

She later stated to The Sun that her “breasts are for my partner, not my child”, which is just lunacy. She then stated that while it may be “natural” but people need to move with the times. Hmmm.

I get that breastfeeding isn’t for every mother, and pushing it as vitally important merely serves to make mothers who have problems doing so feel bad about themselves.

Josie seems to have forgotten that breasts served a purpose before they became sexualised, and that was feeding infants. She seems to have got mixed up on this.

It gets even weirder, as Josie has decided not to share the milk with her partner instead choosing to sell her breast milk.

She isn’t the first to do this (I wrote about another case here) and interestingly, Josie has proven to be slightly savvy in this new business. She plans to sell to other parents for £2 an ounce, but will charge £10 to milk fetishists.

Yes, milk fetishists.

Some might feel this is a little gross, but the world don’t move to the beat of one drum, and there are probably stuff we’re all into that others don’t dig or find odd.

In his second autobiography Russell Brand spoke to involving it in his liaison with a new mother, so it may be more common than people think.

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I can’t lie I’m rather curious about how it tastes, having not had any since my own childhood and I don’t remember much about that. Of course, if I ever do try it again it will most likely be provided courtesy of MWG should we have kids, and hopefully free of charge. This would also allow me to explore my attraction to pregnant women.

Whether Josie finds a buyer or not remains to be seen, but there’s probably a market, so she might make a small profit.

But this latest, bizarre plan, coupled with her daft views on breastfeeding is making it harder to defend her as she continues to hand ammunition to her numerous critics. However, I wish her and her new baby well.

Any thoughts? You know hat to do. BETEO.


Catfishes and Cruelty: The Josie Cunningham saga continues

Catfishing– The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships. (From The Urban Dictionary)

So, Josie Cunningham’s time in the media spotlight has been a surreal journey (click the “Josie Cunningham” tag for more), with the “NHS boob job girl” becoming a much loathed figure and a soap opera story involving her pregnancy and the identity of the father. From day one Josie stated that there were a couple of guys in the frame, one of whom was a Premier League footballer.

Cunningham didn’t reveal the identity of the footballer, throughout the pregnancy, which could be seen as admirable, but could just have been her saving it up for a later revelation, who knows.

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Then this week, after the baby arrived (congratulations!) there was a further twist in the tale, as Josie revealed that she’d fallen victim to a Catfish.

This is a term that is getting more widespread after a documentary and a TV series (which is a triumph of trash TV) explored the phenomenon of people pretending to be someone else online.

This creation of a fake life is fascinating, not merely for the sheer weirdness of it, but also the motivations behind it, why would someone want to pretend to be someone else (usually due to lust, cruelty, boredom or loneliness it appears) and why others are so quick to believe what they’re told. An episode I saw recently featured a woman who believed she was talking to Bow Wow (formerly Little Bow Wow) and had divulged many personal secrets to him, only for it to turn out to be a rather amoral and delusional young woman, but that’s beside the point.

Josie revealed that while she thought she was talking to and sleeping with Hull City player Curtis Davies, she was in fact involved with someone else entirely, who capitalized on a resemblance to the athlete.

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As she often does, Josie took to Twitter where she spilled her guts out, revealing the truth and how she felt used and betrayed. It’s understandable and one can only imagine how distressing it must be to discover you’ve been conned in such a way.

Of course, part of you wonders how someone could be suckered in to such an extent, but Josie doesn’t seem overburdened with common sense (her entire time in the spotlight has been characterized by poor judgement) and perhaps the idea of bedding a professional footballer appealed to her desire to be “the next Jordan”. Or it could be that she really did develop feelings for this man, and felt close to him, and believed what she was told.

Davies isn’t exactly a household name, and if this bloke does look like him it might be easy for him to pretend. But why? Why lie to someone like that for so long (around 18 months)? It seems manipulative and nasty, and while I feel Josie could have exercised some common sense and caution in this scenario, I do feel bad for her.

Worse, having claimed that the father could be a Premier League player her public image is even worse now, making her look at best foolish and at worst a liar.

I don’t like much of what Josie has done, or how she’s handled certain situations, but I do feel that in this case she is the victim of a con artist and due some sympathy, though I suspect she won’t get much. Writing these blogs has led to conversations with people I know personally, and I’m surprised by the level of vitriol that is heaped upon her, by people who are otherwise pretty chilled out.

The birth of her baby may have helped cushion the blow a little, and deterred some from putting the boot in. But there are still enough hateful trolls out there, including one charmer who took to Twitter to tell Josie he “wished she’d died in childbirth”. That’s just vile and unnecessary, and you wonder what has to be wrong in someone’s life that they consider sending that to a stranger to be okay. You might not like someone or what they do, but wishing them dead? Seriously not cool.

I wish Josie and her new baby all the best, and pray that rumours that she will enter the I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! jungle are false, because I firmly believe she needs less exposure to the public, not more.

It will only allow the public the chance to humiliate and torment her through the tasks, and put her in a situation where she could make her situation worse. Sometimes a good reality TV stint can turn public feeling around, but I don’t think that would happen for Josie, and while financially secure she may be exposed to even more hate which can’t help but negatively effect a person.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.