Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The New Witch Hunt

I imagine that there are plenty of people who will read this who will have used the term, 'gay', 'queer' or 'faggot' as a form of insult in their childhood. Plenty of other ugly words were used too. Despite us painting children as sweet, innocent creatures, they can also be heinous beasts who give no thought to the harm they cause. We excuse it because of their naivete and relative lack of education. Once it gets to adults, it becomes unacceptable and rightly so. Once we are educated, we should know better. However, there is a fallacy in the notion that all adults should behave appropriately.

That fallacy is that all people have been educated to the same level or comprehension as you and me. They haven't been. In the UK, we like to kid ourselves that we are an advanced culture and society but the fact is that huge chunks of our citizens struggle with basic maths and literacy. If someone can't read or add properly, why do you expect them to grasp the deep social ramifications of the inappropriate use of certain words? It is an unreasonable standard to hold them to. Their behaviour should be viewed as that of a child's. Unacceptable, met with quick chastisement and careful teaching. Once the child, or indeed the adult has been informed as to why such behaviour is not permitted, if they are apologetic and subsequently work to rectify their mistake, the matter should be considered closed.

But that isn't the case. Not any more. Once someone has made a remark that is regarded as derogatory to the LGBT community, that person is categorised as homophobic. Forever. If they are famous, they are cut off and LGBT community starts petitions to bring that person down. Yes, hatred should not be tolerated. Yet the people who truly changed the world, Ghandi, Luther King and Mandela, proved that true change was borne out of peace and forgiveness, not wrathful vengeance.

Of all communities that should understand that isolating one person in mob fashion is a horrifying experience, it should be the gay community. For too long they endured it. They still do and it is not right. Yet to take the situation and flip it on it's head is just the orchestration of the new witch hunt. It is fighting fire with fire and that will not solve the problem. It will serve to divide society. There is a reason why Martin Luther King gets a national holiday named after him and Malcolm X doesn't. One brought about change, the other bred enemies.

The hatred in society requires surgery, not amputation. Careful correction followed by a second chance is the best solution. Putting together an enraged petition or protesting because someone used a childhood term that they should have dropped is counter intuitive. It starts a boulder rolling along that cannot be stopped and one that we will all end up regretting, as it polarises society.

One final thought. Every Christmas, the same old songs get rolled out. My favourite is "Fairytale Of New York." It is a beautiful glorious song. It has nothing to do with homosexuality whatsoever but the word 'faggot' is used in the lyrics as an insult. That song has played every year and no one has called Kirsty MacColl or The Pogues homophobic but if we keep entertaining this new witch hunt, one day it will be. Someone will keep swinging that sledgehammer of hurt from their youth until they destroy all that is around them. Isn't that hate too? And so we should treat such behaviour in the same way as any other hate. Correct and move on, not condemn.

Stop it and let it go. You're better than that.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Lessons from Christmas Movies

1. Keep a close eye on your children during the festive period if you're planning to go on holiday. If you lose them, they are liable to turn into vigilantes like Kevin McAllister, setting traps for fools who just won't learn. It was all fun and games in the 90's but by the 00's he had clearly become Jigsaw from the Saw films. Do not abandon your child or you'll create a serial killer. (Source: Home Alone)

2. Unless you are in someone's house, wear your shoes at all times. The classic Christmas colour is red but you don't want it to be the claret pouring from the bottom of your feet. Except if you're looking to reconcile with your estranged spouse. Then, go for it. (Source: Die Hard)

3. During the festive period, judges are more liable to bribes. (Source: Miracle on 34th Street)

4. Stealing a dead man's clothes at Christmas results in a punishment/sentence that is nigh on forever! (Source: The Santa Clause)

5. A lot of Christmas presents come with assembly or instruction manuals. Abide by them religiously. And if you get a pet for Christmas and the instructions say "Don't feed after midnight" - FOLLOW THE DAMN INSTRUCTIONS! (Source: Gremlins)

6. "What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let's get the flock out of here!" (Source: Lethal Weapon)

7. Alienate your workforce during Christmas and they could end up being your main competitors. (Source: Santa Claus - The Movie)

8. Mistletoe is a nice decoration but it can be deadly if you eat it. Even worse, if Batman and Catwoman dance underneath it, they will discover each other's secret identities and then some brown stuff really hits the fan! (Source: Batman Returns)

9. Christmas presents you give out do not have to reflect the quality of present you get from each person. For example, if someone saves your life, a turtle dove tree decoration is fine. (Source: Home Alone 2 - Lost In New York)

10. Do not take on an elf in a snowball fight. End of. (Source: Elf)

11. Don't complain that every Christmas feels the same. It may seem repetitive with the music, food and decorations but at least you don't have to deal with elite terrorists on an annual basis. (Source: Die Hard 2)

12. Attention seeking yields divine results during the Christmas period. (Source: It's A Wonderful Life)

13. Christmas is a time for goodwill and peace to all men. Unless your best friend got pummelled to death by a drugged up Russian. Then Christmas is the time to hand out that beatdown. (Source: Rocky IV)

14. Theft carries a sentence of 7 years but, at Christmas, returning the things you stole and apologising results in complete absolution and severe inflammation of the heart. Maybe Ronnie Biggs should have learned this one. (Source: The Grinch)

15. Roaring fireplaces, gently flickering candles and flambé desserts are all part of Christmas. However, you should be careful what you do with fire. The results could be... explosive! (Source: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation)

16. And finally, when making a movie, if it is possible, do whatever it takes to cast Bill Murray. (Source: Scrooged)

Friday, 6 December 2013

Twelve Pointless Things

1. Christmas Cards
Oh it is so nice to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, isn't it? Tell me, of all the people you send Christmas Cards to, which of them do you think have forgotten that Christmas happens in December? I mean, if they live in a cave and never depart, eating only food brought to them by ravens, then maybe they will have lost track of what time of year it is. Otherwise, everyone else has endured stores covered in glitter and fake snow, radios blasting out the same old tunes and the Coca-Cola advert on TV. It is the most arbitrary exercise and when I ask people why they send them, the consistent answer is "It's nice to send them." Empty of thought or reason, more and more I think less of people who send them. Why not send me a Halloween card? Or a Bonfire Night card? They happen every year too and I'm sure you could make them "nice" too. Morons.

2. The pound you put in a trolley
If someone wants to steal a trolley, they will. Which idiot thought that the financial constraint of one whole English pound sterling would make trolley thieves think again? You get to the supermarket and if you don't have a pound, you have to buy something to get a pound coin or settle for a basket that will be so heavy by the end of the shop, one of your arms will be like Stretch Armstrong. Kids steal trolleys. So what? Supermarkets rob us blind on many occasions!

3. Electronic items that don't have the batteries included
Why? WHY?! I am sure that the people who come up with products that need batteries and then don't put them in as standard are just trying to ruin as many birthdays and Christmases as they can. Next time I get a product as a gift and find that it doesn't have batteries included will be the tipping point. I will then find the inventor and everyone involved in its production and have all of their first born children devoured by rabid dogs.

4. Campaigns for us to be more healthy
I see sanctimonious TV show after show telling us how to eat more healthy, how to do it all at home and do a disciplined, planned shop to achieve this aim. What those short-sighted, money-rich TV presenters forget is we eat fast food and convenience meals for two reasons. They are fast and they are convenient. I can cook a pizza in eight minutes. I can select it off the shelf in three seconds. I would like to see the healthy alternative that is that quick and tasty, without the aid of an editing studio. Here is a thought though. Rather than lecturing us on how we should eat, maybe you could produce the solution, namely healthy takeaways! But why would they do that? What would they make TV shows about then? They tell us that we will get to live longer if we eat better. Because out living our friends and lasting to an age when our bowels have to be controlled by an electronic device is what we should all aspire to!

5. Complaints Departments
Don't like something? Then you have the right to complain. I think all companies should save time. Just leave a recorded message stating "We're sorry but not enough to really change anything. If you want a token gesture, please press 1. If you want to maintain your rage, press 2." 1 would then send you a voucher to buy something in their company, which is ridiculous because you didn't like what you bought there already. 2 would just pass you to a message who said the same thing with a bit more authority. Complaints Departments are literally that pointless and predictable.

6. The trailer for a trailer
This seems to be a growing trend. Instead of giving us a trailer, movie studios are giving us a 15 second clip to advertise the release of a teaser trailer of their film. Basically, it's an advert for an... advert. This is truly moronic and downright irritating. I'd ask how long is it before they have it down to a frame or two but JJ Abrams already did that with Star Trek Into Darkness. It was funny the first time but not any more. Either advertise the movie properly or don't bother. Too often now, the trailer tends to be better than the film and yet Hollywood is desperate to spoil that cinematic moment also!

7. Wasps
What the hell do they do except freak out every woman in an office and make them scatter like confetti in the wind?! Do they have any purpose whatsoever? I checked on Google and all I could find is that they kill caterpillars. Oooo bully for them! Like we couldn't handle a surge in the caterpillar population! Kill all wasps. I don't care if Greenpeace hate me for saying that, I hate them. Speaking of which...

8. Ecomentalists
I hear this talk about trees providing oxygen and beautiful countryside being preserved, instead of some road or other project being built. I don't care. I don't care about a hole in the Ozone layer. I don't care about city-sized chunks of ice breaking off in the North Pole. Do you know why I don't care? Because ecomentalists have alienated me to the point of instilling a deep rooted hatred towards the environment in me. They seem to think that despite millions living in poverty and plenty more living just above that line, we should devote time and resources to saving a tree or a near extinct animal that serves no purpose beyond being pretty. The environmental improvements will cost more money, yield poorer results and all the while we can breathe in some fresh air. La-di-frickin'-dah! Get a proper hobby or do something actually productive. If someone chains themselves to a tree, chainsaw them with the tree. Let's see how committed they really are to their cause!

9. The Poke on Facebook
Why do we need to pretend that there is some kind of physical contact in a social network? Why doesn't a private message or a wall post suffice? Is it because you want someone's attention but are not prepared to put more effort than one click to do it? Are your fingers so tired that they can't type out the message "Hi, how are you?" or something similar?! If so, you should see a doctor. If not, do not poke me. It will get deleted. If you keep it up, you'll get deleted. Your call.

10. Mobile phone signal coverage maps
If you don't have signal and you contact your mobile phone provider as to why, their first suggestion is to check their coverage map and whether there are system issues. Don't bother. I will tell you what that map says. Coverage in your area is good and there are no system issues. A mobile phone company's coverage map is more duplicitous than all the politicians, lawyers, bankers and police officers put together. Yes, they lie. No, they don't care. It is a stalling tactic in the hope that your phone will spring into life on its own. It is the most sophisticated way of saying "Turn it off and back on again" without actually saying it.

11. Average speed cameras
On almost every occasion these wretched things are placed on motorways where important roadworks are taking place. Now, rarely do I ever see these roadworks actually progressing while I am plodding along. What I do see is idiots who do the speed limit but still slow down when they get to the next camera. Obviously the concept of 'average' has not be adequately taught for the past 50 years. Even then, if we do slow down to 50 to protect people working on the road, that isn't going to protect them. If I hit someone at 70, they die. If I hit them at 50, they maybe survive the first bounce on the asphalt and then die. And they are always on your route when you're in a hurry. Why? Because the road gods hate you, that's why.

12. The download percentage bar
You need to download something from your computer and by the wonder of technology, it tells you how much of the task is completed. I have come to realise that the first 99% of downloading a file is easy. It's that final 1% that seems to be a real challenge. It will race through the first lot and then that little timer icon will whirl around, no progress being made, mocking you for being foolish enough to think that you're about to get your system back. Even worse, it gives the doom filled message of "Don't turn your computer off or small children in Africa will die!" If you decide to have the temerity to fight back by cancelling the download, even though it is supposedly nearly done, your computer will sulk and then take longer to execute the cancellation command than it would to have done that final 1%. You then bang it because it has it coming and then it ceases to work. Why doesn't the bar just say "I'm working on it, go get a drink, maybe stick a DVD on" and stop lying to us?