Thursday, 15 February 2007

Soaps, Stella and sexism

The prevalence of soap operas in the UK has now seemingly become all conquering. Great leviathans that straddle the viewing schedules bolstered by their partners in crime, reality TV shows and trashy lifestyle magazines. Yet another example of modern media enslaving the British public.

It has occured to me however that this particular form of slavery has an even more insidious and unpleasant fascia, one that attacks at the very heart of feminism. Firstly what I am about to say assumes that women are passive victims and, for that I have little defence other than to say that this has now been going on for generations and I think societies crash barriers have forced perpetuation. Secondly it also assumes that men don't watch soaps. There you go, I have got it out in the open. Taking those huge faults and putting them on the back burner, let's continue.

Soaps were designed by media companies to enslave women (oooooh!!). The women, addicted and passive (ouch!!), stay in to watch the soaps (and, by proxy, the children) enabling the men to go to pub and watch football. Watching soaps is inherently a non-social activity and therefore can be done whilst looking after the house at home. Watching football is a far more social tribal activity requiring men to congregate, discuss and argue - preferably out of the domestic environment, in front of a huge plasma screen with a pint in hand. Not easy to do if you have three kids to get to bed.

Enter the soap opera. Now you will want to stay at home my dear otherwise you will miss your daily dose (and if you are staying in you won't have the ability to meet with other like minded women and discuss how shit we are). We have the control. Oh, and by the way, Big Brother is on later so don't even think about joining us in the Horse and Hounds.

As I said this does assume women in this situation haven't seen this or can't see much a way of out. Perhaps we have reached a situation where many women have simply resigned themselves to their fate - this is the way of the world and soaps at least give something to look at - living vicarious lives because the lack of support from their partners mean they cannot fulfil theirs. Bloody hell this is depressing.

This is clearly not true of all women (or even most). These dissenters however do tend to be the women who have been fortunate enough to grab an education before domestic responsibilities hole them below the waterline. They have their own problems anyway - we created role models like Nigella - yes, you can have the career (right on sister) but you will have to do that as well as have kids, and you will also have to look stunning and also be able to cook 3 course dinner parties at the drop of a mezzaluna. There you go, that's feminism for you. You want it, you work for it.

It also goes without saying that this is also not true of all men (although even the newest man will find himself hard pushed to cancel a night out with his mates because one of the kids is playing up).

There is still a worrying, sometimes tacit sometimes explicit view that all we blokes have to do is go to work. We don't have to cook, raise kids or look stunning if we don't want to. If you want a career however, you still have to do it all - because hey, that's equality (but if you don't here's Corrie and 'Enders to keep you happy).

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Leopards and Spots and Cardiothoracic Surgery

So McDonalds have finally cast off the ill fitting garbs of a healthy menu and embraced the comfortable jeans and tshirt of the fryer once more. Over the last few years you will have slowly seen the golden arches, the garish colours and that scary clown replaced with a rather more ikea-esque vision of fast food. The Big Mac (whilst still available) had been pushed to the back griddle in favour of salads and toasted deli sandwiches and the new restaurants were more akin to the Starbucks model of interior design that the visual clusterf*ck that was Maccy D's previously. In short the new restaurants and menu looked like major and necessary transformations in order to bag some of the broadsheet bucks - the kids were still going to go there and spend a pound on a milkshake and make it last three hours, let's see if we can steal the coffee and a muffin for £5 brigade.

I now notice with glee that this has obviously only been partially successful. It seems to me that the Starbucks gang stayed in Starbucks and the kids went to get their primary colour and fat fix from Burger King and KFC (who more or less resolutely refused the makeover) instead. Consequently we now are faced with McDonalds latest advertising campaign which see the global multinational shed it's rather ill fitting skin and once again flexing its muscles. Comfort food is where its at folks, its winter, you want bloody great burgers with deluxe and double in the name, you want deep fried onion rings, you want Mr Whippy style ice cream with hot caramel. Come on home. We just went temporarily insane, it won't happen again (until next summer when we will inevitably have another stab at panini's again). Anyone for an Ambulance ?

Monday, 5 February 2007

What, Why and When ?


Thought about "Chewing on the raw stewing steak of British culture." but decided that made it sound like some bunch of sociology undergraduates hurling into a bin. The idea is to pull together some observations on some of the more bizarre aspects of the UK.

Why ?
Who cares ? It clearly has something to do with ego but let's let a trained psychiatrist dig around that one in a few years time.

When ?
When it seems worthwhile. Let's find out.