Posts Tagged ‘Snookie’

Funny thing to do because you are perfectly capable, Dear Reader, in looking round the blog yourself. But with 270 new blogs in a year that’s a lot of searching, so all the “Blogging Basics” sites say I must give you a guide that you can go look through, so here it is.

Er, nope. Never happened. Nice painting though.

Er, nope. Never happened. Nice painting though.

By far the most popular blog of the year on any one day was which garnered nearly 5,000 hits in one day (out of an annual total of more than 77,000 in 2012) when a very senior Archbishop in the Roman Catholic Church revealed what the rest of us with brains have known forever and a day anyway, which is that Genesis is true only in the sense that is is a moral fable, and not in the sense that the world was created in 7 days, or that Eve came from Adam’s rib, or that all the horrors of the world arose from munching a forbidden apple.

The really interesting thing about this story, of course, is that theologically speaking when we allow any part of the Bible text to be considered mythological then we have no argument that any other part of the Bible might not also be mythological.

Hence, just to pick a few major ones – bye bye Noah and capturing two of every living creature on the earth (including all bacteria, all 8000 species of ants, etc.), cya later Lot offering his virgin daughters to the crowd, not to mention the fact that Joshua collapsing the walls of Jericho couldn’t have happened because archaeology reveals the place was deserted when Joshua was around. Great story – good song – historical nonsense.

It seems we will just have to do what the 19th and 20th century “modernist” or “critical” theologians wanted us to do, which is read the Bible with the benefit of modern textual analysis, studying the original languages not the translations, (which, for example, can be used to argue that the Bible actually says nothing at all about gays) and taking full advantage of archaeology when we can.

The article on Adam and Eve was also the second most popular article overall of the whole year.

I think we have more to worry about than whether a Secret Serviceman did or did not employ a prostitute. Like: HIV, violence, drug addiction, social dislocation.

I think we have more to worry about than whether a Secret Serviceman did or did not employ a prostitute. Like: HIV, violence, drug addiction, social dislocation. And more.

The most popular article for the whole year was

I’d like to think this was all about my thoughtful analysis of hypocrisy in American moral values, the role of prostitution in modern society, the role of the media in drumming up salacious gossip, and the relationship between poverty and the sex trade.

However checking out my stats closely I suspect it’s just because the word prostitute is often typed into search engines, and the story duly pops up.

Similar big scores have been gathered with articles about tits, and even bum.

One would despair, were it not for the fact that I know that some people read the article seriously.

Similarly, promising to ignore injunctions and show people Princess Catherine of Wales (aka Kate Middleton) topless and then bottomless worked well to drum up passing trade, though I doubt many of the people who clicked on the links got the point of my tongue in cheek effort.

The third most popular post of the year was this “Gratuitously Offensive Politically Incorrect Joke”, which I still think is very funny, (it’s also a paraprosdokian by the way, and there are some more of them here, which is probably why I like it so much), and scores very highly with anyone searching for Angela Merkel in Google and so on, so the Bundesnachrichtendienst have probably given me the once-over, but decided I am harmless.

Snookie, Chelsea the Borgias and Big Tits was the fourth most popular article of the year, and has been in the Top Ten most popular almost every day of the year. I a eagerly awaiting the next series of the Borgias, not to mention the next series of Downton Abbey and Throne of Kings. I don’t mind crap TV, so long as it’s good quality crap. A lot of you seemed to agree with me that Jeremy Irons and the Crew give good crap. Snookie and the Crew? Not so much. I wish, actually, I had been a TV reviewer, which is, of course, one of the most sought after positions in journalism. Do we think it is too late, Dear Reader? Hell, no!

Last but by no means least – in fifth place – was what I have decided was the WINNER of Advertising F*** Up of the Year, in fact the very first of the series which proved incredibly popular with readers. To save you clicking back to last January, here it is:

The first poster is for a road safety campaign where Daddy has crashed his car and died. The one right next to it is for a notorious lap dancing club. I mean, really?

The first poster is for a road safety campaign where Daddy has crashed his car and died. The one right next to it is for a notorious lap dancing club. I mean, really? Really?

The Advertising F*** Up series were undoubtedly the most popular series of articles in the year. To access them, just type “F***” into the search box and they’ll all be listed for you. (Saves me doing it.)

I am enormously grateful for all the supporters of the Blog, all those who have commented, who have argued, who have provided elucidation, and who have laughed and loved. It is most popular in the USA, in the UK, and in my home country of Australia, and I guess that is inevitable. But in all, people in 172 countries read the blog, which I personally find quite humbling and astonishing, and the free spread of ideas and opinions must surely be the greatest boon the Internet has given the world.

I am especially proud, in the year just gone, for the work we were able to do on awareness to do with bullying, and Alzheimer’s, on clean water for the poor of the world, and on women’s rights. I am also very glad my feverish campaigning for Obama came out on the right side of history, and I hope his second term is more impressive than his first, which is often the case. Let us hope and pray for wisdom for all our political leaders, as the world is a long way from being out of the woods yet – economically, and politically.

I bitterly regret that my warnings on Syria, which predated most commentators in the world, were ignored, but I only have a very small lectern and it is a big world. And anyway, the world only listens when it wants to. Yesterday the United Nations estimated that 60,000 have died in this completely avoidable conflict thus far, and unless Assad’s Alawite regime can be persuaded to decamp to the safe haven of Iran pretty damn quickly that figure could still rise exponentially.  It was – and is – all so unnecessary, and so awfully, inexorably predictable.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to showcase my poetry and creative writing. Thank you for all the kind comments.

I am Bradley Manning. Are you?

I am Bradley Manning. Are you?

As the blog tipped over from 2011 into 2012, I was still deeply distressed by the murderous execution of Troy Davis, campaigning against which had occupied – unsuccessfully – so much of the start of the blog. This year, I have watched with increasing horror as the might of the modern American state has born down relentlessly on Bradley Manning, the well-meaning and honourable serviceman who set off the Wikileaks scandal by releasing for public gaze tens of thousands of classified snippets of information. Expect to hear a lot more about his case in the coming weeks, not least why I believe the man is a modern hero who should be feted, not crucified.

I am still Troy Davis. I am now Bradley Manning.

Happy New Year, Dear Reader.

British TV Actor Jeremy Irons in the Borgias

He’s got that distant look off just right, no?

Last night, relentlessly sleepless after a rather large piece of rib-eye steak that wasn’t, for once, washed down with a couple of bottles of good Shiraz (hence still being wide awake, I guess) I ended up round midnight, family all asleep, aimlessly flicking the cable TV channels looking for something to keep the brain marginally occupied.

I’d just finished watching the last episode of the first series of the marvellously bodice-ripping The Borgias – what on earth does an actor of Jeremy Irons’ standing really think of acting in tosh like this? Helas, it’s all about the dosh, sometimes, I suppose – and a surfeit of murders, sex scenes and hard-core history had left me wide awake.

The Borgia's Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger

A big welcome to Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger

(Incidentally, whilst Irons was doing his “Jeremy Irons acting by numbers” bit, young French-Canadian actor François Arnaud was effortlessly marvellous in revealing the inherently awful nature of Cesaré Borgia. How could this apparently sensitive man adore his young sister so, feel disgust at the excesses of licentious medieval Rome, and yet not flinch to order horrible slaughter to protect his family’s position? Watching both the way his character was written, and the consistently compelling performance by Arnaud, I was reminded powerfully of those Nazi prison camp guards who would play adoringly with children in villages near the camp one day, and then throw living children in the camp furnaces the next, with no apparent understanding of the enormous evil and irony of their behaviour – or if they did understand, their exercise of the ability to compress their conscience to the extent that such a moral contradiction didn’t matter.

As the bulk of her work had previously been on UK television, the show also introduced me to the work of young British actress Holliday Grainger as Lucretia Borgia, and apart from being very pretty and winsome (she was apparently voted one of the 55 Faces of the Future by Nylon Magazine’s Young Hollywood Issue in May 2010 – whatever Nylon Magazine is) her acting in a relatively under-written part revealed real depth and layers of emotion. I see she is to play the cruel Estella in a 2012 production of Dickens’ Great Expectations; a role which I suspect she was born to play.

And yes, yes, I know, I know: I should have been blogging, not watching TV, but all work and no play, eh?)

Chelsea Handller of "Chelsea Lately"

Chelsea Handler

Anyhow, having devoured the last Borgias episode I came across American comedienne Chelsea Handler and her show Chelsea Lately. Whilst I often think this programme is testament to the absolute worst of faux-celebrity culture – can anyone enlighten me as to what Kim Kardashian is actually for, by the way? – I do enjoy Handler’s acerbic wit and that of the comics who share the stage with her for the first half of her show.

She is often unkind, but usually at the expense of those features of our society, or its citizens, who would receive much benefit from a jolly good slap up against the head, so I tend to forgive her when she herself falls into the traps associated with the mainly mindless psychological cruelty that seems to pervade much of America’s gutter culture – the seemingly endless obsession with people’s sexual antics or marital status, the latest beautiful face to command our attention momentarily, and people’s fluctuating body shapes or looks.

She is not afraid to be controversial. During the June 20, 2011 episode, while discussing doomed Amy Winehouse’s poorly-received performance at a concert in Belgrade, Handler read a statement by Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac calling Winehouse’s performance a “shame and a disappointment”. Handler then stated, “Well, so is your country”.

The comment has since drawn criticism, with requests for Handler to apologize for the comment. A Facebook page and petition have also been created calling for a boycott of Handler and E! until a public apology is given: apparently Handler has yet to comment on the matter. On June 25, 2011, Serbian Ambassador to United States, Vladimir Petrović, sent a letter to the makers of the show describing Handler’s act as “inappropriate, distasteful, and just plain bad humor”. Few modern comics touch such raw nerves, whatever the merits of her comments.

She also doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously, unlike most celebs, which is refreshing:  it’s as if she is permanently somewhat surprised that anyone seems to enjoy this puerile drivel.

Snookie, aka Nicole Pollizzi

Snookie, aka Nicole Pollizzi, does what she does best

What is less clear is the extent to which shows like Handler’s merely perpetuate the problem of moronic celebrity adulation, whilst simultaneously taking the piss out of it, and at risk of seemingly needlessly tendentious or censorious, that’s what I’d like to think about for a moment.

Last night, Handler welcomed a star guest (and no, if you don’t watch MTV, I am not making this up) called “Snooki”, aka Nicole Pollizzi, from the hit reality TV show Jersey Shore, which is essentially an excuse to watch a lot of relatively unattractive Italian background Americans (so-called Guidos and Guidettes) make idiots of themselves.

They fight, they drink, they hook up, they break up, they cuss. And that’s it, essentially.

The beginning of an adulatory interview with Snooki on Good Morning, America recently called the show “ground-breaking”. It’s also been called “a cultural phenomenon”.

A cultural phenomen? Really? Well, the University of Chicago has announced an academic conference that will examine the show. And in 2010, the cast of Jersey Shore was named on Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People list, (not that this is a great recommendation, as in years 2007-2010 she also nominated Sarah Palin, who is about as fascinating as watching paint dry), and the series has since exported to dozens of countries worldwide.

Thanks to the ever-increasing success of the show, Ms Pollizzi is now paid thirty thousand dollars an episode, and can apparently command the same sum for making a speech. In April 2011, for example, Snooki was paid $32,000 to speak at Rutgers University. Her message included what it’s like being a celebrity, and also what she thinks is important in school, including the sage advice “Study hard, but party harder”. There was a big uproar from both Rutgers students and alumni, who thought that Polizzi was invited merely for her celebrity status and was an inappropriate speaker for an academic setting.

Anyhow, on Chelsea Lately last night, Snooki waddled cheerfully on stage covered in ridiculous adornments, including a spiky bracelet which could have got her arrested for carrying a deadly weapon in most jurisdictions, but not around the studios of E!, apparently. (E! is the NBC subsidiary which makes Handler’s show.)

For the next five minutes or so, she burbled excitedly about her latest ventures, which apparently include a range of bedroom slippers, and the ubiquitous perfume release that seems a mandatory add-on to every up-and-coming star today.

(When asked about said perfume on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Snooki kindly offered that “I wanted it flirty and bubbly like my personality, and obviously something DTF.”

If you’re not sure what that means, ask Leno’s first guest of the evening, Jeff Bridges, as Snooki had to explain the explicit acronym to the actor during the show. Or Google it, as I admit I did.)

But that wasn’t always what she envisioned for her signature smell. Snooki said she originally wanted it to smell like pickles. “I like pickles so everybody else should like pickles.” But after sniffing the mock-up, which she said smelled like – shock! – pickles (and grass, apparently), Snooki chose to go in a more conventional direction.)

I did consider changing channels, but a cursory flick through the listings on the TV revealed a football game I already knew the score of, and a BBC show with a young man hunting down the owners of the world’s biggest breast implants and watching them strip on stage. Somewhat confronted, I stuck with Handler.

OK, now look: this is where I am going with this ramble.

I am sure Ms Pollizzi is a pleasant enough person underneath all the pretended outrage and set-up-for-the-camera tension (sexual or otherwise) that is the staple for such shows.

What worries me is that, beyond her gallons of chutzpah and a distinct lack of personal shame, she is hardly worthy of our attention. Nor are her fellow cast members.

Jersey Shore is merely the mental equivalent of one too many vodkas. It’s what you do when you’re slumped at a bar and you can’t be stuffed to go home. Yet millions of (primarily) young people watch the show with rapt if somewhat vacuous attention. The more moronic the behaviour exhibited, the higher the ratings.

My core question is this: is this type of mind-numbing nonsense essentially harmless – and our concomitant fascination with the participants – or is this kind of reality TV dumbing down our reactions to the real world around us to an as yet ill-determined but probably worrying extent?

I am reminded of all the research documents that reveal that hyper-violent movies and slasher computer games produce a de-sensitisation to casual violence which shows up as a lack of understanding of the consequences of their actions in some young people.

So is the inevitable result of shows like Jersey Shore that teenagers and young adults will gradually assume that all one really needs to do to end up on Chelsea Lately – talking about one’s ever-burgeoning business empire – is to allow oneself to be filmed 24/7, yell fuck repeatedly at one’s “friends”, screw around and not care who knows it, drink to excess (preferably in public), wear ridiculous clothing and evidence the all-important “attitood”?

Perhaps the most worrying indication that this might be the case are the many opinion surveys of pre-teen children (in numerous countries) who, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, can’t actually nominate a career, but simply answer: “Famous”.

It’s also worth noting that on July 30, 2010, Polizzi was cited on a count of interfering with the quiet enjoyment of the beach, which AP called “essentially, disturbing the peace”, as well as for disorderly conduct and criminal annoyance of others. In a September 8 plea bargain, Judge Damian G. Murray sentenced her to a $500 fine and community service. In handing down the sentence, he characterized Polizzi as “a Lindsay Lohan wannabe”.

Needless to say, her arrest was taped during production of season three of Jersey Shore.

And on May 31, 2011 in Florence, Italy, (where the latest series was being filmed) Polizzi was briefly taken into custody by local police after the car she was driving collided with a parked traffic police car. According to Italian police, Polizzi was cited and released, and two police officers sustained minor injuries. Yep, it made it into the show.

Naked snowboarding: when will it be on TV?

Naked snowboarding: when will it be on TV?

At least back in the days of the Borgias, people basically knew this stuff was unhealthy. Not exactly “world’s best practice”.

But does anyone still care? Are the barbarians not so much at the gates, as already ripping them down and making snow-boards out of them for the next episode of Xtreme Winter Naked Snow Challenge?

In short, I fear for Snookie. I fear for her friends. I fear for those who watch her.

I think we’re losing the plot.

Oh, there isn’t a plot, any more?

Silly me.