Thursday, 5 December 2013

Jingle Bells

So I’m sitting down to read an article on the reasons Machiavelli wrote ‘The Prince’ despite earlier writing in support of a republic and sods law, when I actually try to do my work the internet is down. For that reason you lucky readers get a bonus blog entry from me, providing the internet doesn’t return as I begin writing. Now normally I write entry’s to my blog because I either have something to get off my chest, or I feel the need to share my opinion a current issue. However because this entry is written purely out of boredom it is simply going to be a filler post and what better topic than Christmas Songs. Everyone has their personal favourites and any best Christmas song list is going to have peoples favourites missing but nevertheless I am going to share my top 10.


10 – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams

binary options indicators An epic introduction as if a show was about to begin followed by the line ‘It’s the most wonderful of the year.’ And how true it is, the lyrics are a description of events the singer has experienced or observed at Christmas and just hearing the events associated with Christmas sang helps to get me in the mood for Christmas.  The song is quite hold but I heard it for the first time while watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and me having watched that film fondly as a child may be one of the reasons I value this song so highly.




9 – War is Over – John Lennon

Those of you who know me well will know I’m not a fan of the Beatles but do like some of Lennons solo work. I have always been fond of this song and I own it on Rock Band 3 despite it not really being a proper Christmas song. It in essence a protest song at people spending vast sums of money and selflessly not spending a moment to think of others and Lennon uses the merry Christmas line ironically. It is however part of the seasonal line-up and one of my favourite songs musical from the period.





8 - Santa Baby – Kylie Minogue

This will not be the only time I select a cover over an extremely popular original but Kylie does this better and she deserves the credit. The song is supposed to be sexy, she’s supposed to be seducing Santa and Kyle’s version is far sexier than Eartha Kitt’s. Just listen to both versions of the song and think about who you would rather wake up next to on Christmas Day. The song itself is simple but it is the simple beat that gets you to want to bob your head from side to side. While I like the song I also think it symbolises just how materialistic society as become but I’m not going to be a humbug and bore you with details of that – not today anyway!





7 – Don’t Let the Bells End – The Darkness

Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean we can’t still listen to rock and The Darkness managed to get the balance right between their style and giving it a Christmas feel. When this came out I quite liked The Darkness and still love this song, I can’t really justify a reason for it being special or iconic enough to beat the countless other Christmas songs, but this is my blog and I deem it worthy of the top10 simply on being a fantastic song.


6 – Proper Crimbo – Bo ‘Selecta

Fast paced, catchy, witty lyrics and an interesting and unique video. One that came out towards the end of childhood but it was popular amongst us kids, perhaps because it contained words like ‘wee’ and our parents hated the song. For some reason it is a song that has stuck with me, I no longer find the lyrics funny but still find the tune catchy and is always one of the first I play on December 1.





5 – O Little Town of Bethlehem – Google Knows

Into the top 5 and I’m going to kick it off with a hymn. I know many of you reading this will be atheist but surely you can still appreciate the beautiful music. I always used to enjoy singing Christmas hymns at primary school as it meant that Christmas was coming, they were different from the ones we had been singing all year and I really liked the music. I used to enjoy singing them so much as a child I intend to go the university carol service and perhaps the midnight mass at my home church if I can drag my mother along.


4 – Do They Know it’s Christmas – Band Aid 20

A somewhat controversial decision not to choose the original but in my opinion pop music was dreadful in the 80s and I genuinely prefer both the artists and versions of the new version. One of the reason this song should appear high on any Christmas song is that it was for charity and we should always applaud people both giving their time up to record the song and those who at a financially difficult time giving £3 to a good cause by buying the song. Anyone who has ever pirated the song ought to hold their head in shame and have a good think about the Christmas spirit. Back to the song its self it has a catchy chorus, a decent guitar solo and a rap from Dizzie Rascal, what’s not to like about it.




3 – Fairy Tale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty McColl

Probably most people’s favourite Christmas song, winner of numerous Christmas related awards and earns an excellent third place on my list. It is undoubtedly a fantastic song and works well as a piece of music and is now one of my personal favourites but its only in recent years I have come to appreciate it. My only problem with it and what has stopped it from attaining a top two position is its negative lyrics. Normally I don’t have a problem with artists writing about depressing events but at Christmas I like my music to be celebrating family time and optimistically looking towards the new year and fresh start.


2 – I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

My personal favourite as a child and perhaps the reason it has stayed so special to me. As a child I always used to sing along literally meaning that I wished it could be Christmas every day, without realising how it would make Christmas less special, there wouldn’t be presents every day and I’d still have to go to school. But although I now understand it can’t be Christmas every day we can still aspire to create a society where there is a strong community spirit, families are close and most people are happy 365 Days of the year. It is also an immensely catchy song and its simple lyrics make it a great sing-a-long during December.




1 – Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade

My favourite Christmas song of all time, that just tipped Wizard to number 1 in one of the most competitive Christmas number one battles of all time. But like I said this is my favourites and therefore I shouldn’t be using chart success as a criteria for judging what in my opinion is the greatest Christmas song. It’s in many ways similar to a lot of Slades work with the simple guitar rifts with simple lyrics over the top and yet it works so well as a Christmas song and I think one of the reasons it is so popular is because of its descriptions of things we all do or believed in when we were younger. Ok I have yet to walk in on my mother kissing Santa Clause but we’ve all experienced things such as; the moaning grandparent who brightens up after a few sherries, the excitement of hanging our stocking ups, the childhood excitement of talking about Santa, waiting for the family to arrive and the fond memorys in the overcrowded rooms, for this reason I think on hearing the song it makes the memories of previous Christmas’s come flooding back. There is also the famous scream for lead singer Noddy that has become as part of Christmas as the Coca-Cola advert, Santa and trees.




And don't worry Chris Monarch Part II is coming


Ryan Kelly

Friday, 8 November 2013

Elizabeth My Dear


One debate that has been going on for many centuries in Britain and indeed the the rest of the world but this blog will argue for an increase in the power of our monarch. This may seem controversial and undemocratic, but I aim to prove it would actually make the law more representative of British peoples views, allow for greater direct democracy and stop elected dictatorship. I feel it is important to state is that I do not wish for Britain to turn into an absolute monarchy nor to return to a Medieval system, but to act as a check against the government.

 One reason it would be a good idea to allow the monarch more power is it would make it plausible to change to a more democratic proportional representation system., Under proportional representation parties would receive a percentage of seats in direct correlation to the percentage of the national vote they received. Unfortunately under the current system it would lead to an almost permanent state of coalition government and if the UKIP vote is simply a flash in the pan the Liberal Democrats permanently in power. This is a big problem with a small and relatively unpopular party dictating legislation that the majority have to live by. There is also a problem that coalition governments can lead to Prime Minister being able to act swiftly and rapidly in times of crisis, were as a monarch would be able to act for the benefit of the nation providing they gained consent via referendum. For example the predecessors to the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Party refused to allow conscription for WWI which would have been disastrous for Britain had they continued in government.



As well as this if the monarch had the opportunity to force a referendum it would allow the public have a say on areas that are popular among the political class but hugely unpopular among voters. For example despite opinion polls showing a massive 89% were against Britain signing the Lisbon Treaty, the Labour party still signed Britain up and the coalition have refused to withdraw from it. Clearly it is a problem when the system offers no check over governments making hugely unpopular constitutional decisions. If we allowed Elizabeth to wield some of her power she would likely have allowed the British people a referendum, we would have voted to not sign the treaty and it would have been a victory for democracy. Instead we have removed sovereignty from parliament and handed it to the likes of Herman Van Rompuy. Surely it is better to sacrifice our ideas of fairness in order to protect the public and increase democracy.

Sadly the political class in Britain have a fear of referendums as the main three parties aim their policies at a tiny minority of the country, those who happen to be on the centre ground in swing seats. The argument from the political class for restricting direct democracy is that ordinary people aren't informed enough to make a a rational decision, indeed Churchill once said "The best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter." But this in itself highlights the failure of politicians and the education system should be encouraging them to take an interest in politics, educate students in how the system works, make them aware of the vital issues and offer evidence both sides of key debates. I was not given the opportunity to learn about politics until A levels, which is far to late and leaves many voters ignorant. One frightening example of the sheer level of ignorance, is in a level 6 Film Studies degree course when asked who UKIP were, only one person was able to answer the question. This is a party who came second in the European elections and are now polling in third place. Now a cynic may say politicians deliberately keep the electorate in the dark so as to have an easier time but I think its merely a failure of the education system were people have no knowledge of politics and politicians by refusing direct democracy are suggesting that the populace does not have the analytical skills required to make a decision. Either way the education system has not set people up as responsible citizens in a democracy, which is a huge problem and shows that politicians do not always know best.

So to briefly summarize giving the monarchy more power would enable Britain to have more direct democracy, have a say on issues that matter to them, improve representation in the house of commons and ultimately protect the democratic rights of the people, that are slowly being handed to Brussels without consent.

(Part 2 of this topic will address why we should give this power to the monarchy instead of a president.)

By Ryan Kelly    

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Money, Money, Money



This issue over Churchill replacing Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note received harsh condemnation off feminists, as it meant that there would  no longer be a woman featured on  the Bank of England's bank notes (They should have tried looking on the front!). This reaction sickened me, how anyone can argue that Fry achieved more than Churchill is beyond me and to use the inclusion of the greatest of them all as an excuse to highlight a petty feminist issue is a new low. As expected the feminist movement screamed sexism at the Bank of England, despite the fact that men have achieved far more than women in this country, partially due to social constraints of the past but that is no reason to include women just for the sake of having one. The people featured on our bank notes should be non controversial and universally loved by Britain, yet in order to appease feminists the Bank of England has decided to put Jane Austen on the £10 note as a token gesture, despite there being a huge list of candidates that have contributed more to Britain. Using the results of the BBC's top 100 'Greatest Britains' poll as a gaze of which Britains are popular with the public, I am going to explain why there just isn't a suitable female candidate for the bank notes.



The first woman to feature on the list was Princess Diana who came in the poll, but isn't suitable for the the bank notes for a few reasons. The first of these is that it would be incredibly odd to potentially have her on the same bank note as Prince Charles and would be rather insulting towards Camilla, not to mention I doubt that Charles would want the nation to be reminded Diana on a daily basis when Camilla is so unpopular in comparison. While she did a lot of work for charity I don't believe that act in itself is worthy of featuring on a bank note as many people contribute their spare time to charity, yet never receive the recognition that Diana does and it would be inappropriate for her to be the note simply because her position in society made her a constant feature in the press.

The next woman on the list is Elizabeth I who came 7th who can be discounted on the basis that she was a monarch and it is the reigning monarchs privilege to be on the bank notes.



Margaret Thatcher makes an appearance on the list 16th but is also unsuitable. The primary reason for this is the fact that she is like Marmite, people either love her or hate and she is far to controversial to be placed on the note. It would also have the potential of stirring up trouble in N Ireland were she as hugely unpopular and it would be highly irresponsible to risk causing violence just to put someone on a bank note. The final issue is that Churchill was also a Conservative PM and having Conservative politicians on  50% of the notes would not come across as politically neutral.

Queen Victoria came 18th in the poll but has the same problems as Elizabeth I.

The next woman on the list is Elizabeth II at 24 but she already features on every bank note.



Then on the list at 27 is the feminist hero, convicted criminal and arguably terrorist Emmeline Pankhurst. The question to ask  is that should someone with more criminal convictions than the notches on John Terry's bed posts be featured on a note that is supposed to represent the best of Britain? It gives a very poor message to the public and suggests to them that it is perfectly acceptable to break the law if you disagree with the government, which clearly judging by how the student protesters were treated in London a couple of years ago is not the governments line. If she had committed minor crimes then history may have been more forgiving of her, but arson, criminal damage and threatening behaviour are all very serious offences, particularly arson. While she didn't carry out all of these crimes her self, she has to take some responsibility for the actions of her followers and her refusal to condemn an attempt to blow up a theatre by one of her followers should see her removed from contention. There was also the famous incident were one of her followers committed suicide by jumping in front of the Kings horse and in doing so put the lives of the jockey and horse in danger and such grandstanding isn't something to be encouraged. It is even argued that the criminal activity at the time set back the women's suffrage cause as many men at the time thought it showed they were less rational than than men and it was in fact of a combination of Suffragists and WW1 that led to Women being given the vote and not Pankhursts group of thugs. Obviously there is no denying that her cause was just but this does not make it acceptable to break the law and certainly not in a way that puts others in danger.



Boudica appears at 35 on the list but doesn't meet the banks criteria as there is no portrait of her. She is also arguably a monarch.

Number 52 features Florence Nightingale but she has already appeared on the £10 note.

Dame Julie Andrews features on the list at 59 but ranks below the likes of David Beckham, Boy George and even Sir Cliff Richard. And is it really fitting for an actor to be a bank note when there are people who have saved Britain from invasion, invented things that have changed the world and changed man kinds understanding of science higher up the list?




Elizabeth Queen Mother featured at 61 and I have no real moral objection to her appearing on the bank notes but while universally loved she doesn't have any particular stand out achievements.  Just on a personal note I'd find it strange to have a former Queen Consort appear on the notes.

Then we finally reach the Bank of England's choice for the bank note, Jane Austen at a lowly 70, even Tony Blair proved more popular with the public at 67 and she only proved marginally more popular than Robbie Williams. She isn't even the highest writer on the list and is beaten by Shakespeare, William Blake and Charles Dickens to name but three. This suggests that the only reason one of these three was not chosen to feature on the bank note is because of the genitalia they were born with, which is blatant sexism. Without her books Britain would almost exactly the same, in fact we might not even have Twilight which would be an improvement. So how come she has been chosen above people who have changed the world like Nelson, Brunel, Alexander Fleming? Simply because they were born with the wrong genitalia and not only is it sexist towards men but also very patronising towards women.







Monday, 12 August 2013

Ten Surprisingly Good Talent Show Acts




I've now been off University two month, still have over a month left and have reached the point were a visit to Guantanamo Bay seems preferable to the daily routine. You may therefore forgive me for lowering the tone of this blog and writing about two of the most trashy, yet brilliant TV shows. But this isn't a blog to celebrate surprises such as Susan Boyle, it is to celebrate the stranger acts who have something infatuating about them. After all we have now reached August which means X Factor will soon be returning to our screen on a Saturday night, it seems an appropriate time to remember some forgotten gems.

10 -  MC Boy

In at number 10 is MC Boy who was particularly unlucky to be branded as a novelty act and therefore crashed out at the semi final. So nobody is arguing that he is a good singer, but when creating dance music writing a catchy hook is far more important than being note perfect; look at how many records Example has sold despite being an average singer. And it is a very catchy song and left me humming it around the living room after watching his performance, not to mention he deserves credit for writing his own material in an era were music is generally churned out by the same teams of writers. While his lyrics aren't going be challenging Alex Turner, it is exactly the sort of song that would go down well after one too many J├Ągerbombs and I doubt by that point people are going to analysing the lyrical content. 




9 - Dr Gore

While Dr Gores magic tricks are far from creative and the trick he performed has been seen thousands of times, he created a creepy and original theme to compliment the trick and it created a genuine response from the audience. While this may have been shock and in many cases disgust they are just as natural human responses as making someone laugh, cry or smile and the act deserves to be praised for drawing out these emotions. There are many people who enjoy feeling these emotions and fulfil those desires by watching horror movies, yet the act never progressed to the semi-final as they didn't fit into ITVs narrow minded definition of entertainment.



8 - Gareth Oliver 

 Gareth Oliver is in my opinion victim of one of the worst decision ever made on a TV talent, when Simon and Piers sent him home in favour of a forgettable singer. Now Gareth Oliver is an extremely talented ventriloquist and ironically was a better singer, while throwing his voice and with his lips closed, the pop singer was put through. Many ventriloquists are boring and one dimensional but not only was he an excellent singer, he was witty and for his first audition did an excellent parody of poorly subbed kung-fu films. The real tragedy is that when the public finally got behind someone who wasn't a singer or dancer, the judges put an end to his campaign. I believe he now works at weddings on ships, so the show has allowed him to continue to do the job he loves I firmly believe he could have made it in Vegas.

  

7 - Chico

It's Chico time and time for the first entry onto this list from X Factor. Perhaps the first ever novelty act and potentially started the trend that has seen the likes of Rylan and Wagner  ruining our Saturday evenings and yet he was extremely entertaining. X factor would be extremely dull if we simply sat and watched 12 singers, stood at a microphone, singing 'purple rain'? The answer is very and the novelty acts like Chico despite not having the best voices, offer some real showmanship and Chico was born to entertain. He even won the admiration of Black Sabbath front man Ozzy Osbourne for jumping into a fountain, while holding at live mic during judges houses and there are few better positioned to judge an entertaining than the prince of darkness himself. He now works at Pontings but has had a number 1 single and has made over 1 million pounds, so obviously he had many fans. He was also the first person to ever perform an original song on the show and deserves credit for taking such a huge risk.



6 - Regurgitator 

 This act should have been perfect for Britain's Got Talent, as he is something I have never seen before or since him, yet again the 'variety' show instead had singers and dancers voted through. How can people seriously prefer to watch singing and dancing over a man who is capable of swallowing  a pool ball and returning it, swallow coins and return them in a random order and pulled of a simply stunning trick in the semi-final that you can see below. Some people may have viewed it as a little disgusting but it is certainly the type of act that wows you and the chances are it is a totally unique ability.




5 - Eugene

So poetry is hardly the most popular past time in the UK, yet when done correctly it can be fantastic, who doesn't like 'If'? by Kipling or 'Jerusalem' by William Blake. Eugene is one of the rare types of people who make poetry interesting. He achieved by using self deprecating comedy and every line gets laughter from the audience and the judges. Sure he was never going to sell out Wembley stadium, but that isn't what Britain's Got Talent is about, it is about finding an act to entertain the crowd at the Royal Variety show and the attempt to increase profits from the show has lead those with star potential being selected, above those who would entertain the Queen at the show.




4 - Frankie Cocozza 

The X Factors first and so far, only real bad boy. Frankie seemed to start of with a big fan base but it quickly diminished after a poor performance of 'The Scientist' week two and he would from then on be lambasted for his inability to sing. This was completely unfair as he could hold a tune, not to the standard of some of the other contestants but he oozed star quality to make up for his vocal performances. He should also be applauded for his risky, yet refreshing song choices; nobody else has ever performed songs by bands like The Clash and Primal Scream. It seems likely that he was beginning to rebuild his reputation, as he had just survived a brutal double elimination, were he would certainly have been sent home had he been in the bottom three, before being sent home for taking cocaine. In Frankie's defence the X Factor pushed him to be their bad boy, to party all night and yet still turn up for a busy day of rehearsals; it is easy to see why he will have been exhausted and turned to drugs to keep his dream alive. Apart from his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother he has released two decent EPs that have gained little attention from the public, he has also recently started a band that I hope has better luck.

 

3 - Mr Methane 

Very, very immature but whose inner child doesn't find farting hilarious and this man can do it on demand. Of course the judges and certain members of the audiences pretended to be disgusted, yet whilst he was performing there was a lot of laughter. Amanda and Piers laughed throughout his performance yet refused to give him a yes vote, simply because of societies views on a perfectly thing. It also cannot be denied that it is a talent, as I have never heard of anyone else who can fart on demands. The video is something I can watch time and again and still find it hilarious and I think he would have added some variety to the live shows.




2 - David Watson 

Now don't get me wrong Simon was right when said that he was the worst impressionist they have ever had on the show, but David was brilliant for reasons he didn't understand. Completely unintentionally David who was doing political impressions managed to portray the political class in this country superbly, after all just like Davids impressions, they all look the same, sound the same and the only difference in them is a different coloured tie.

1 - John and Edward AKA Jedward

They were the craze that sweeped the nation and were the key ingredient in the most successful series of X Factor to date. They managed to get the entire country talking about them, many people loved them and many more hated them, yet you had to be living in a cave to not know about them, never in talent show history as an act managed to create so much publicity. Some of that publicity followed two of the most controversial moments in X Factor history, the first of these was when they sang over another contestant, leading to her being sent home at bootcamp, in order to increase their own chances and all of sudden the nation hated them. People like Brian May and Robbie WIlliams offered support for Jedward, while I hope the irony wasn't lost on Liam Gallagher when he called them a pair of 'Fucking annoying brothers.' Either way to generate commentary from such stars suggest they must have been doing something right, But that was merely a storm a storm in a tea cup compared to the controversy caused when Simon Cowell sent the vote to deadlock, when the popular Lucie Jones and John and Edward were in the bottom two, much to my surprise John and Edward were saved and the Jedward hate campaign carried on. During the series even leading politicians such as Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown and Call Me Dave made reference to them in the House of Commons, despite them simply being two unsigned teenagers on a TV show. 

Apart from their ability to generate publicity for the show they were a pleasure to watch every week and always gave an interesting performance, full of movement and colour; personal favourites are Ghostbusters, She Bangs and of course Under Pressure. Like Chico these provided a nice break from the tedium of watching people stand in one spot and singing. The documentary 'Jedward Let loose' highlighted their infectious personalities and Edward continuing their performance at T4 on the beach despite having a broken leg highlighted their commitment to music and performing, particularly in an era were so called rock stars cancel gigs because they have a runny nose. 


Eventually John and Edward were sent home by the Judges, despite having more votes than the act who was saved Olly Murs. But that wasn't the end of the Jedward, they have since released three albums that have all topped the charts in Ireland and had hit singles in the UK, Germany and Sweden, numerous adverts, calendars, stared in pantomimes and have an award winning TV show on CBBC. They have also represented Ireland at the Eurovision song contest, both times beating the UK and receiving large support from the general public. They have performed to president Obama, came 3rd on Celebrity Big Brother and had numerous tours. However their three album deal with Universal has not been renewed and they are  no longer managed by Louis Walsh but John has reportedly written a fourth album that has received praise from Ed Sheeran.  Oh and they're worth over £3.5 Million pounds. 






Sunday, 11 August 2013

Who is Herman Van Rompuy?



How many of you reading this blog have ever heard of Herman Van Rompuy? Unless you happen to be a fan of Nigel Farage's colourful speeches on Youtube, I very much doubt that more than a 2 or 3% of you have ever heard of him. Not a big deal you may say, yet this man is in charge of the European commission that now set 60% of Britain's laws and Van Rompuy has complete control over the legislation entered into the house. What this means is that unless you and Van Rompuy share similar beliefs none of the policies you voted for will be implemented.

To make matters worse he is an unelected bureaucrat and the people of Europe have no means to remove him should they deem him not fit for purpose. Even more shockingly this man claims he shares the same political legitimacy as the Prime Ministers of Europe, despite the fact that nobody for outside Belgium has ever voted for him. This is how dictatorship's start, it is unlimited power without responsibility and were the people don't have the power to remove him. I must warn you do not under estimate this man, he plays a bigger role in how Britain is run than David Cameron. This unelected pen pusher gets to sit at the G8 summit and play a part in discussing how the biggest economy's in world are run, to make matters worse the EU are the only representative at the summit that get to send two people and the second person is also unelected. The EU stand out at the g8 because they are the only representatives there who haven't been elected by the people, even Russia elect there own leaders so why should the EU get not one but two seats despite not even being a nation? The role of Mr Van Rompuy and the other top jobs within the union are extremely vague, this means that nobody really knows whose doing what and who is in charge, this is hardly the best environment to create economic stability. People laugh at Shebby Singh because nobody, including himself seems to know what his responsibilities are at Blackburn Rovers but Van Rompuy is running Europe and is in a similar vote. So the Van Rompuy has apower without limit, so it wont come as a surprise that he is paid just short of £300 000 per year plus expenses from your taxes. Since this is such a short and quickly put together entry I am going to leave you with Nigel Farage welcoming Van Rompuy into his post.


Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll

The release of the Arctic Monkeys fifth studio album AM is now less than a month way, in the mean time to keep us happy they have released the third single 'Why'd you only call me when your high?' alongside a supporting music video. Amazingly, the seemingly innocuous video has already received complaints of both being sexist and glorifying the use of illegal narcotics. While being a part of the same music video, the two issues share little else in common, so I will split this entry into two parts, in order to give both topics the specific attention they need.


Sexism

As Steven Fry once stated "It's now very common to hear people say, I'm rather offended by that..........it's simply a whine" and cases like this really do hammer home is point. Never at any point while watching the video did I think that women had been objectified and was amazed to discover that some women felt this way. Yes there is a brief shot of the girl Alex is texting on a motorbike but a naked body is in no way sexual and I firmly believe stems from the increasing Americanisation of Britain and the prudishness, that is imported along with it. The fact 'Alex's girl' is depicted as having sex in no way objectifies her, the sex is clearly consensual and the video most certainly isn't using the 'Male Gaze' to draw in male viewers, as there is simply nothing rewarding to men watching the video. In fact the notion that a women having sex being deemed as objectification is sexism in itself as it implying that women only play a passive role in sex and therefore simply become an 'object'. which is a Victorian idea and not acceptable in the 21st century. In fact when Alex leaves the pub, his girl is depicted as flirting with another man and is quite clearly taking the lead in the conversation; similarly she is seen giving oral sex to the taxi driver which is hardly a passive role. What also makes the feminists arguments look one sided and shallow, is the fact that not one has claimed the men having sex in the video are being sexualised or objectified which is double standards and makes me believe that feminists are not interested in equality but the subordination of men.

Similarly, there are a huge amount of music videos were men are objectified in order to attract female viewers and yet I'm yet to see a feminist bat an eyelid, or encourage a similar men's movement. On the contrary, often feminists despise men's rights activists and have in the past physically assaulted male right activists. One video that clearly objectifies men is for the very annoying 'Call Me Maybe', in which the male character is objectified in several ways. The first one of these is sexual objectification, just 19 seconds into the video the man slowly removes his T-shirt to reveal a 6 pack, clearly something most women find sexy and desirable.He also ticks the boxes of other traits that the western world finds attractive such as a symmetrical face, tall and quite fashionable. The male is also simply seen a tool, as throughout the video he is seen doing odd jobs such as, mowing the lawn and fixing his car. At no point in the video does it suggest that Carly is interested in the male for anything other than his looks and his ability to do odd jobs women traditionally struggle with. When at the end of the video the character does show some concern for Carly after she faints, it turns out moments later that he is gay, perhaps used for comedy purposes but alternative could have been used to show why he showed some concern for her; after all many women's perspectives on straight men are that they are inconsiderate dicks. Why is it completely acceptable for a video to suggest that mens value should be derived from their DIY abilities and looks, yet unacceptable for women to be portrayed in a similar manner? Feminism is supposed to be about equality for both genders and feminists need to quickly decide if they think it's ok for both genders to be sexualised or neither, as the current mindset is sexist towards men and patronising towards women. The women in the Arctic Monkeys video consented to be in the video and she has just as much right as any feminist, to decide what counts as objectification. Even if the female category was sexualised it isn't necessarily a problem as there is nothing wrong with sex or being sexy, but often you get the impression that feminists think of all men as potential rapists, who just need something to trigger their urge.


Another point I've seen made by feminists is that the video lacks a strong female character. It's a completely ludicrous argument, particularly as it is a male musician portraying himself in his own story and I find it offensive that people feel the need to patronise women by giving them a meaningful role in everything released by the media. The majority of people on the street are male but this makes sense in the context of the story as men tend to be stronger, more aggressive and indeed more likely to do the jobs portrayed in the video such as run a kebab shop. I don't for one minute think that the audience would have felt Alex was as vulnerable, had a petite women abused him on the floor or if two women had tried to intimidate him when he looked down the back alley. Another issue with this claim is that it isn't the Arctic Monkeys job to try and meet quotas, it is their job go try and tell their story to the world the way they want to. If feminists wish to have strong and empowered female characters in music videos, why can't they start their own bands and tell their story's the way in which they choose to. 

I am of course aware that my previous paragraph will have offended some feminists who no doubt will be thinking to themselves 'but women can be just as strong as men.' And they'd be right, some women are are stronger than some men but this isn't the case in general. This is an important point because when you only have a few minutes to tell your story you are going to have to rely on stereotypes and 2D characters as it isn't feasible to portray realistic and full characters in that time. People while watching the video easily recognise popular stereotypes such as skin head in tracksuit connotes violent male, when any rational person realises that in reality there will be many fine individuals with skin heads, who wear tracksuits. Further proof that it isn't only women that suffer because of stereotyping is the 'When the Sun Goes Down' video, if an alien came to earth and saw that video he would think all men are violent and misogynistic.  



The point I would take from this is that feminism is no longer necessary in the UK as women do have equal rights to men and in some cases such as divorce, custody and criminality they are treated superiorly to men. It has now reached the point were feminists are having to search for something to offend them, it is quite frankly a ridiculous state of affairs when a man can no longer hold a door for a women in fear of being branded as sexist. Feminists are by no means the only people to search for offence either, people who sit and watch programs after the watershed and instead of changing the channel, complain to OFCOM when they see something they re offended by. The worrying thing is that society as a whole tip toes around these whines, in fear of causing further offence and being berated by newspapers like the Guardian.The only group that have any right to have complain about the video is in fact homosexual, as Alex is in such a state that the taxi driver wont take him, he is called a prick by a passer by and nearly gets into a fight with two men, yet the gay man still seems to want to have 'fun' with Alex and it could be argued it is perpetrating the myth that gay men are obsessed with sex and fancy every man. But the fact that Keith Allen who portrays the gay is often rumoured to be gay on the internet, it is likely to be a joke between him, the internet and the Arctic Monkeys.


Drugs

One accusation the music industry and more specifically of the rock industry, is that it glamorises drug use to children and 'Why'd You Only Call Me Your High' has been accused of this. I think the main point in this video is that their is no suggestion that Alex has taken anything illegal at the start of the video, as he seems to have taken on many of the characteristics of being drunk, such as the way he is staggering around, the blurred vision when he looks into the mirror and the fact he has yet to start hallucinating. Yet after giving him a shot, the camera begins to wobble and there is a flash of blue light suggesting Alex has been spiked. Clearly Alex is in a poor state following this shot and is very vulnerable while out on the streets; he falls over, nearly gets into a fight, nearly gets run over and has lost all sense of direction. This means it in fact works as a warning to young people about leaving your drink unattended and accepting drinks that you haven't seen pored yourself.

Never in the video is Alex being high glamorised, nor is ever shown receiving a reward for being high. This is in stark contrast to many Hip Hop artists who glamorise the use of drugs and make it seem a cool thing to do. yet escape the scrutiny of rock artists. I would even argue that the video is similar the ones often shown in PSHE classes, were the message is drugs are bad and the students are told nothing of positive affects, yet as soon as a rock band touch the subject it is branded as encouraging drug use. Even rocks most notorious drug addict Peter Doherty no longer glamorises his drug use and recently admitted he was so addicted to drugs, the only way he would ever quit is if somebody chopped his arms off.



However had the Arctic Monkeys decided to glamorise drug use I don't believe that it would necessarily be a bad thing. The main reason for this is that the target audience of the Arctic Monkeys is predominantly mid teens and above and therefore their fans should already know the dangers of drugs and not be mature enough not to blindly copy their idols. It is far more dangerous for people like Katy Perry to glamorise excessive and irresponsible use of alcohol in videos like 'Last Friday Night', when her younger fan base are more likely to use her as a role model and imitate her behaviour. Similarly  Harry Styles is often pictured extremely drunk, yet parents still take their children to One Direction gigs. One reason for this may simply be the fact that alcohol is legal, while other drugs are not and if this is the case it is a problem that society needs to address, as alcohol can be just as dangerous and addictive and other drugs. Of course I'm not advocating censorship of either alcohol or drugs, but simply highlighting the hypocrisy of concerned parents and 'do gooders,' that I believe only exists because of the governments out dated and out of touch mindset towards legalisation of drugs. After all why should the government be able to tell its citizens what they can and can't put in their own bodies and the very fact that they do suggests we are simply seen as Parliaments property and not free citizens.


Ryan Kelly

Friday, 9 August 2013

Braveheart

                    

Who hasn't seen the touching last seen in Braveheart were William Wallace, after enduring being hung and racked, wins the heart of the English spectators by his defiance on the quartering block and his refusal to plead to the tyrannical Edward Longshank's for mercy. Wallace's shout of freedom is one of the most iconic moments in cinema history, showing devotion to Scotland to the very end and still makes Alex Salmond's under pants sticky to this day. The spirit of Wallace is still alive and well in Scotland today, look at the reception that  Nigel Farage received from Scottish extremists during his visit. In 2014 the Scottish people will get to vote on if they want to remain a member of the UK or become 'independent,' but which way would Wallace of voted should he be alive today?

The first point I would like to raise its just how independant a Scotland that secedes from the UK would actually be. The first point I'd like to raise is that Scotland wish to remain a part of the EU, so will still have 60% of their laws made abroad, yet will have a smaller say in what these laws are. In fact they will be entitled to just 12 seats in the European Parliament, which is a fairly insignificant number. Of course it may be pointed out that it currently only receives 6 seats but these are part of a larger UK voting block, whose MEPs try and look after each UK citizens interests, which include Scotland's. In the real world Herman Van Rompuy isn't going to be changing any plans he has that may negatively affect Scotland because they happen to have 6 more MEPs.


Another issue with an 'independant' Scotland with in the EU is that many of its policies that are currently doing damage to Scotland, such as there fisheries being stolen from cannot be reversed by an 'independant' Scotland as the common fisheries act is a pillar of the EU. Not to mention that an independant Scotland is likely to be far more left wing that the UK as a whole and there is a real possibility that they will be seen as a soft touch to immigrants and attract the poorest of Europe to their benefits and healthcare, were as currently many of them stay south of the border. Again the free movement of people is a pillar of the EU and you cannot control your borders while you are a member of it. Higher education also seems to have been ignored by Alex Salmond as if they became independant they would have to offer free tuition fees to English students at Scottish university's, instead of charging them the £9000 they do now. I have no doubt that this will lead to a huge increase in English students studying in Scotland that will either mean Scottish students missing out on places or their education budget swelling to unaffordable levels. While under current regulations English students aren't entitled to a maintenance loan or grant while studying abroad, it is inevitable that this policy would change to encourage students to go to Scotland and reduce the UKr's spending on higher education.

Lets pretend for the purposes of this paragraph that Alex Salmond's  fantasy of joining the EU without adopting the Euro come to fruition, there is still no way that in the neat future at least, Scotland could adapt a independant currency. The most striking reason for this is that Scotland currently doesn't have a bank, as the Royal Bank of Scotland was bailed out by the UK tax payer and therefore Scotland owns around 13% of it. Even for someone like myself who knows very little about economics, I can see the problems that would cause Scotland. Salmond's current idea is to retain the pound, so Scotland will still be linked fiscally to the UK and are unlikely to get any representation within the bank of England. Currently the bank of England takes into account the entire UK when making decision on things such as minting and the interest rates, yet will have no obligation to take  Scotland's needs into account should they vote to be independant. How can you possibly claim to be independant and yet have no control over the currency you are going to be using?

Another myth often spouted in Scotland is the fact that they are a remanent of the British Empire and ruled by England. For a starter it was the the Scottish King James VI who became James I of England and united the monarchy's of the two countries, it wasn't an English invasions like many seem to believe. Another key issue to point out is that the Scottish parliament freely chose to dissolve, due to Scotland being bankrupt. In exchange for Scotland and England's parliaments uniting, the English government paid of Scotland's crippling debts and allowed her to prosper. This is not anything like how a colony of an Empire was treated. There is also a widespread consensus in Scotland that that the Conservatives do not represent the Scottish people, but nor do they represent Liverpool or Newcastle so should they attempt to become independant every time Labour lose? To make matters worse the Scots seem to have extremely short memory's as prior to Call Me Dave, we have had two Scottish Prime Ministers in a row from the Labour party who are heavily supported in Scotland. I very much doubt that Blair and Brown represented the people of Cambridge any more than Call Me Dave represents Glasgow, yet in a democracy you have to accept that you are not going to get the result you wish for every time. Indeed it could be argued that during Blair's years as PM the English were subjected to rule by Scottish, after all it was the Scottish Labour MPs who ensured that English children would have to pay university fees, despite it being free on Scotland because of devolution. Taking it back to my opening paragraph in Braveheart Wallace wanted freedom for Scotland because they had no say in how Scotland was run, yet was expected to pay money to the English treasury and they was also subject to harsh treatment of the English nobility, he certainly wasn't fighting over petty nationalism.




Nationalism is exactly what Alex Salmond is using in order to try to win the independence referendum, which is quite scary considering how far reaching the consequences of voting to leave could be. roof of this is the date that he has set the referendum for the 18th of September 2014, just three months after the 800 year anniversary of the famous Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn. It is also shortly after the Scots host the Commonwealth Games, which will no doubt increase Scottish nationalism. Further proof is the fact that Salmond is allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the independence, an age group unlikely to have any real ideas of the issues surrounding the independant debate, yet are more likely to be flag waving nationalists who will watch Braveheart the night before and vote for 'independence.'  The fact that Call Me Dave has allowed 16 and 17 year olds to vote is an absolute disgrace, if he truly believes that 16 and 17 year olds are old enough to make decisions on such a serious issue why aren't they allowed to elect and MP? Why can't they drink alcohol? Why can't they get a tattoo? The fact is that Call Me Dave is a weak politician and because of his spinelessness, the UK could be split up because of how a group of children have voted.

I have only touched on a few of the main issues regarding the independence debate and yet it is clear to see that not only is the independence movement using cynical tactics to win the election, Scotland will not be independant if they vote to leave the union as they will still have their economic policy decided in London and more frightening for them they will be little more than a satellite state of Brussels. I have no doubt that had William Wallace been around today, he would have found the likes of Van Rompuy and Barrosso to be closer to Edward Longshanks than the democratic relationship they have today with the rest of the UK. I am going to make a bold claim and state that had Wallace been around today not only would he have been campaigning to remain a art of the UK, he would also have been a member of UKIP as leaving Brussels is the only way Scotland and the UK can truly win their FREEEEEEEEEEEEDOM.