Monthly Archives: December 2009

F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me… Unless it really annoys Mr Cowell.

It would seem the X Factor bubble has finally burst, and the whole nation is divided in their allegiance for Christmas number one.

A campaign to prevent X factor gaining it’s fifth consecutive Christmas number one can only be a good thing, and protesters have chosen to mass buy Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 hit, Killing in the name. For the facebook group click here.

Finally, the public has been made aware of the music-monopoly reality show X Factor has over the Christmas charts- even though Rage Against the Machine and X Factor winner Joe McElderry are, in actual fact, linked, through Sony.

Simon Cowell has deemed it a personal attack upon himself, and has labelled it “cynical” and “stupid”. Yes, how stupid of people,  NOT wanting to buy a Miley Cyrus cover, and buying something else instead. How dare they choose what to buy.

It is difficult to see how the boycott of such a mediocre song can be seen as ‘cynical’, and Rage Against the Machine have even said the proceeds from their single will go to charity. Hardly a ‘scrooge’-like action, as Simon Cowell has suggested. Perhaps Mr Cowell is feeling increasingly uneasy?

Good.

Even if the campaign to end X factors four year run of Christmas number ones doesn’t work, at least the public have shown they have the ability to reject the over-used X-Factor formula, much to the concern of Cowell.

Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello used Twitter to promote the cause further, stating “England! Now is your time!”. This demonstrates how social networking sites are key in promoting marginalised views, and it was through the facebook page that this campaign was able to really take off.

I don’t believe it should be construed as a hate campaign against Joe McElderry, or even Simon Cowell. Rather it is an attempt to gain back the right to choose who is number one,  and not have some mediocre reality TV winner automatically expected to soar to the top of the charts.

Killing in the name may not be my choice of number one ordinarily, but I would rather that than the cheesy cover created by a manufactured reality TV contestant.

At least there has finally been a bit of excitement in the race for Christmas number one this year, rather than the usual acceptance that X Factor will walk it. Perhaps this is a promising sign for the future.

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The Christmas Con is On.

The festive season is upon us. Everyone has their annual rituals, from purchasing an advent calendar and decorating the Christmas tree, to getting inexplicably excited about the infamous Coca Cola advert appearing on TV.

However, perhaps the most obvious indication of Christmas is witnessing the frantic, stressed-out shoppers that swarm on to the high street, and the panic of trying to find the perfect present.

Undoubtedly the best holiday of the year, Christmas has tonnes of positive attributes. From the food, to the decorations and cheesy music, there is plenty to smile about. However, ask any child (and probably most adults), and the main aspect of Christmas is almost certainly the presents.

This of course leads to mass panic, as millions try and buy their nearest and dearest the perfect gift. But does this predictable surge of desperate customers allow shops to take advantage, and bump up their prices in a bid to profit from festive generosity?

It has already been reported that some major stores vary their prices from store to store. Boots, for example currently charge £47.99 for a set of Babyliss pro230 radiance hair straighteners in Bristol or Glasgow, yet £97.99 in London, Birmingham or Newcastle. Why the significant difference in price for the same product? 

This just demonstrates how shoppers are taken advantage of during the Christmas run-up, and as there is so much emphasis upon consumer culture we have little choice but to accept over-inflated prices. The closer we get to that looming deadline of December 25th, the more irrational and desperate people get. If the perfect gift can’t be found, anything will do, and people begin to care less about the price tag or the best deal.

I can understand why; after two hours in town doing Christmas shopping, I begin to lose the will to live, picking up anything in a frantic bid to buy the presents I need and get the hell out of there. The Christmas music and horribly bright lights do little to ease the headache, and before you know it you’ve blown your budget and bought the nearest product regardless of price, just so you can go home and breathe a sigh of relief.

Maybe it is partly the fault of the consumer, for not shopping around for the cheapest price, but it seems unfair of the shops to take advantage, especially during the recession-hit years.

Perhaps this is why so many people are resorting more to internet shopping. Not only is it cheaper, but you can avoid being hit in the legs by irate mothers with prams, who think they have right of way purely because they have given birth, or the hectic queues to pay for your over-priced purchases.

Although I enjoy giving presents to my friends and family, I  don’t enjoy the Christmas shopping experience, and would be a lot happier knowing that I wasn’t being ripped off by greedy businesses, pushing their luck to increase their profits.

Whatever happened to Christmas spirit?

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‘A Big Fat Lie.’

It would seem the Peruvian police’s reputation has been brought into disrepute, after a false claim was widely publicised. Last month it was reported in the media that the police had arrested a gang in Peru on suspicion of killing people, then extracting their fat to sell on the black market (click here for article).

Arguably a horrific story; consisting of a plot usually saved for only the most far-fetched, and grisly of ancient legends, or more recently, a horror film. As it turns out, this would not be a naive assumption to make, and the report was not much different to a horror film, given the fictional nature of both.

Is this damning evidence showing that the police believe they are above the law, and that they should not be unconditionally trusted within the media? As a politically elite source, the police are often unquestioned in their statements, but why do we trust certain sources more than others?

The ‘big fat lie’ seems like a rather theatrical production on behalf of the Peruvian police, and it has been suggested that it was “just one of many embellished or invented news stories used as a smokescreen which are intended to distract the general public from the real issues facing Peru.”

It was said that the gang targeted people on remote roads, and police suggested that this could account for up to sixty disappearances within the region. The gang were referred to as ‘the Pishtacos’, after an old Peruvian legend, that told the tale of people being murdered for their fat.

In a report on the BBC news site today, the ‘big fat lie’ was exposed, and the story is now being condemned as nothing more than a fabrication. This comes despite the previous ‘evidence’ police initially presented to the press.

At the time Gen Felix Murga, head of Peru’s police criminal division, said “an international network trafficking human fat” had been uncovered, and it was reported that some suspects had even described how they committed the gory act of extracting fat, which could then be sold on for £9,000 per litre.

At the press conference Mr Murga, who has now been indefinitely suspended, showed two bottles of human fat, and images of alleged victims to validate the claims.

This is perhaps an example of the media being overly trusting in regards to information they receive from political elite sources, in this instance the police. This is perhaps a worrying reflection on the police as a trustworthy authority, and it raises questions regarding what other lies the public potentially could have been told about as a way of covering up police ineffectiveness.

It would seem there is a trend of the police force using the media to deploy public support for the supposed ‘law and order’, to help cover up misdemeanours, or attempts to hide inefficiency. The Hillsborough disaster of 1989 was initially (wrongly) blamed on hooligan behaviour, to explain why the police did not handle the situation, and the finger of blame was pointed at someone else. In the case of Jean Charles de Menezes’ shooting in 2005 everything was done to delegitimize his position as a victim of police incompetence, and instead it was suggested in the media that Mr Menezes was a potential terrorist.

Does this prove that the police abuse their position of power, to try and cover up police inefficiency? In all examples given the finger of blame has been firmly pointed elsewhere in a bid to hide incompetence, and thus it is perhaps questionable where will they stop in a bid to control public opinion.

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