2012 in Review: Part 3 – Obama Sleepwalks, Romney Blunders and the BBC explodes

Obama - better than you now, in the past and almost certainly in the future.

Obama – better than you now, in the past and almost certainly in the future.

Enough about Bane, what about Bain? Former CEO of Bain Capital (the kind of organisation that nearly sliced James Bond in half with a lazer) Mitt Romney managed to make people with access to television news in 2012 feel comforted – ‘no, I’m not as stupid as that guy’ people said the world over. Whether he was casually flipping through ‘binders of women’, telling us with a straight face that ‘corporations are people’ or pissing off the whole of Great Britain on a foreign relations tour that was more Peter Griffin than presidential, Romney managed to make even the biggest imbeciles feel smart in 2012.

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The only thing pleasing about Romney’s presence was the obviousness of his ultimate absence from the presidency. The worldview Romney represented is currently flowing down a demographic sinkhole into political irrelevance; old rich white guys won’t be able to get away with telling people to ‘self-deport’ much longer, they can’t even get away with it now anyway. Barack Obama, despite numerous achievements, even the fact that he is President at all (reading ‘Dreams from My Father‘ this year I was struck by just how incredible a man Obama is), has been disappointing – the fact that Guantanamo Bay is still open, Drones still buzz around shredding civilians with about as much discretion as Britney in a hairdressers and a more general malaise in his presidency – a sense that he has allowed the extremist wing of the Republican party to set the political agenda since 2010, all added up to a feeling of impasse around his presidency.  Yet Barry remains the first man to sleepwalk his way to the White House, his lethargic debate performances and the notion that his election was a statistical inevitability rendered the election itself oddly artificial, devoid of real drama.

Great Britain puts its collective ring on it.

Great Britain puts its collective ring on it.

I’m one of those annoying hipster types that was not looking forward to the London Olympic Games in 2012. There was that ugly red squiggle ‘sculpture‘ in the olympic park, the crappy corporate hysteria that surrounds every games and the frankly bizarre science fiction sex toy mascot things. Thus, having spent most of the summer organising  all the sarcastic things I would say about the games in my head for the inevitable Twitter free-for-all that would ensue, I ended up massively disappointed. In the best possible way. Being a Londoner this summer was like being a Bolshevik in October 1917. It was more than ok. It was a dimension away from the London of a year previously, as if the city had demarcated two periods of craziness, one bad (buildings on fire, lots of trainers stolen), one good (slow motion montages of healthy role models, lots of gold medals won). You would walk around and see random people smiling, grinning even. The weather was a delight. We won a silly number of medals. Luis Suarez was booed with delirious abandon in the football tournament but not as much as slimy puss-cheeked Tory Chancellor George Osbourne was whenever he creeped into an Olympic venue.

Jess Ennis - um yes.

Jess Ennis – um yes.

We booed! We cheered! We had debates about the intricacies of sports that we didn’t understand on Twitter. We realised that as well as having much better booty, Jess Ennis was a much better role model than Pippa Middleton. We laughed as jumped up diet-Bieber Tom Daley only managed a bronze after the media had spent four years wanking over pictures of his bronzed torso and TOWIE tooth filled maw. The opening ceremony was a sensational triumph (even though nobody talked about how most of its best imagery was nicked from the film ‘Brazil’). The BBC surpassed itself with glorious seemingly 24 hours a day coverage, whilst avoiding the temptation to roll out the John Barrowman/Tess Daley/Fearne Cotton axis of evil. Outside of expunging the image of Boris and Dave dad-dancing, the legacy of the games so far (writing this in the first week of 2013) seems to consist of this and this. Generation. Inspired.

If you closed your eyes and were asked to draw a pedophile it would probably look a lot like this.

If you closed your eyes and were asked to draw a pedophile it would probably look a lot like this.

What next for the BBC after a year of acclaimed sporting coverage? A massive sex scandal/cover-up involving that dead bloke who dressed like a sweet shop and inspired more nervous laughter (Jimmy Savile) than anybody else in British history? Indeed. The Savile scandal was the most genuinely lurid and disconcerting story of the year. Unlike Joseph Kony, Savile didn’t need to be made famous – he was famous, perhaps the most famous British television/radio personality of the last half-century. His eccentricism:  the manner in which he spoke, dressed; his reclusive personal life, all marked him out as ‘different’. A friend to Prince Charles and Thatcher, the first host of Top of the Pops, a man who raised £40 million for charity. 

Entertainer. Philanthropist. Pedophile.

Entertainer. Philanthropist. Pedophile.

Yet Savile’s sexuality had always been questioned. There have been idle pub jokes: “I wish everyone would stop criticising Jimmy Savile. When I was 8, he fixed it for me to milk a cow blindfolded” and so on. More famously there was the Louis Theroux documentary “When Louis met… Jimmy” in 2000, which painted Savile as a sad man, desperate to remain in the public conciseness but without public intrusion into his public life; a cipher in his own home clinging oedipally to objects that reminded him of his late mother.  In October a storm broke; Savile it appeared was a predatory sex offender and possibly even a necrophiliac. As these allegations broke, day after day, the media – and in particular our dear BBC became a chickenless head that frankly didn’t have a fucking clue what to do. Panorama was investigating Newsnight, and Newsnight was investigating itself and Jeremy Paxman didn’t know who to ask questions of and Esther Ransen wouldn’t shut up about how much she loved kids and ITV was laughing a lot and Philip Schoefield gave David Cameron a list of names (Sorry Lord Mcalpine) and Eamon Holmes and these women presumably felt ashamed. Total chaos then. Personally I would’ve dragged Prince Charles out in front of the flashbulbs and asked him some impertinent questions but he is a prince and we are a bunch of peasants, so that kind of thing doesn’t happen in this country. I was reminded of my old school. The whole affair was succinctly surmised by my mother: “He’s ruined the 70’s for me”. Quite. In related news the Pope got twitter this year, @Pontifex.

Kent Brockman: Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside? Professor: Yes I would, Kent.

Kent Brockman: Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Professor: Yes I would, Kent.

As a year I think it’s safe to say that 2012 began in January and finished unexpectedly in December. It was a decent enough year, lacking a bit of the sparkle of 2011. The bloke shouting “FENTON” was no Rebecca Black for example. Or maybe it was? That will be for the historians to decide in the years ahead of us. I look forward to 2013; Joseph Kony’s continuing, epic game of hide and seek, the Pope’s first hashtag and best of all a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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2012 in Review: Part 2 – Crying Claire Danes, Bane and beards

Television in 2012 was as feckless as ever. While that guy whose face resembled a medium sized ham with two pickled onions stuck in the middle of it won X-Factor; the BBC completely revolutionised the talent show genre by putting Tom Jones, diet-Bono, the Fringe and Will.i.am in big fucking chairsThis was ‘The Voice‘. This was the future of television. Or it was just another shite show that nobody watched after the auditions.

Will.i.am continuing to do for blazers what Jimmy Savile did for the tracksuit. Note Tom Jones' grizzled Umpa Lumpa look.

Will.i.am continuing to do for blazers what Jimmy Savile did for the tracksuit. Note Tom Jones’ grizzled Umpa Lumpa look.

The only thing I really got into in 2012 was Showtime’s terrorist drama ‘Homeland‘, two series of which were broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. My televisual year was therefore dominated by images of actress Claire Danes weeping, staring and yelping with such authenticity that it spawned this. The first series was a brilliant I-can’t-recommend-this-enough mixture of mental illness, uncomfortable sex scenes that you wouldn’t watch with your mates let alone your parents and the murky moral minefield that is the War on Terror. The series finale was so tense that I don’t think I moved for the entire 2 hours; Channel 4 hadn’t been this exciting since Ahmed broke all the plates on Big Brother 5. Would Brody detonate the suicide vest? Would the wind change while Claire Danes was making one of her crazy faces? Why was Saul‘s beard so God damn itchy?

Saul's idea of a disguise - a fancy summer hat and some tinted glasses. Good luck avoiding Hezbollah Saul.

Saul’s idea of a disguise – a fancy summer hat and some tinted glasses. Good luck avoiding Hezbollah Saul.

Naturally this being 2012 a paltry year, in which all entertainment figures from the 1970’s turned out to be pedophiles and John Terry got to lift the European Cup, we did get answers to the questions Homeland posed; they were just incredibly fucking stupid. The first series’ perfect blend of suspense, hilarious false beard heavy flashbacks and plausible characters was suspended in the second series. We instead enjoyed preposterous plot twists, remote controlled pacemakers and terrorist helicopters that could fly undetectably around Washington D.C. without the C.I.A. being able to do a thing. Oh and somebody tell the actress who plays Dana that fiddling a lot doesn’t make her an actress.

I refuse to have a picture of this wanker looking happy on my blog, so please enjoy this one instead.

I refuse to have a picture of this wanker looking happy on my blog, so please enjoy this one instead.

Thankfully 2012 had plenty more stupid to bring to our screens. A cavalcade of sequels, prequels, remakes, re-imaginings and re-packages – we may look back at 2012 and see it as the zenith of Hollywood‘s absolute creative bankruptcy. Until we reach summer 2013. There was the good-looking ‘Prometheus’, a prequel to ‘Alien‘ that was so highly anticipated and so hyped up that everybody forgot that a creative collaboration between the writer of  Lost’s bafflingly shite finale and the consistently inconsistent Ridley Scott was bound to be a confusedly well-designed blancmange of a movie.The Hunger Games’ was a sort of ‘Twilight’/‘Battle Royale’ crossover without the gay vampires, t-shirt removal and graphic violence of those two. ‘The Hunger Games’ replaced those with some competent female archery, a guy who was really, really good at makeup and some convenient killer bees. It was alright. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ saw Andrew Garfield (age 30) and Emma Stone (age 24) playing two 17 year-olds, making a film with a giant talking lizard in it even less plausible than it already was. ‘Safe House‘ was a by the numbers Denzel Washington thriller in which Denzel, playing a maniacal genius, showed the characters off the scale intelligence by muttering ‘tick-tock’, befriending Ryan Reynolds  and shooting his pistol with above-average levels of flamboyance. Quite. ‘The Hobbit‘ sees Tim from ‘The Office‘ embark on an epic quest, battling Trolls, Wargs and Andy Serkis in a wet suit. It’s an uncomfortably long film, containing a fucking huge number of close up shots of Ian McKellan‘s Gandalf doing weird shit with his eyebrows. The much-lauded ‘Skyfall‘ marked the 50th anniversary of James Bond by essentially remaking 2008’s  ‘The Dark Knight‘ complete with random scenes were a brooding Daniel Craig stands on a roof for no reason at all. Javier Bardem gives it his best Heath Ledger and there’s even a butler who gives our moody protagonist the perfect salt of the earth advice we would all enjoy receiving (except he is Scottish not a bleedin’ cockney). Nowhere near as good as everyone says it is.

Prometheus - the film equivalent of waiting a long time to go to the toilet and finding out that the 'toilet' is a hole that you will have to squat over. And there is no arm rail.

Prometheus – the film equivalent of waiting a long time to go to the toilet and finding out that the ‘toilet’ is a hole that you will have to squat over. And there is no arm rail. Or toilet paper. And you’re on a train.

The most frustrating film of 2012 was without a doubt The Dark Knight Rises‘. Yes it had numerous moments. The ‘Blues Brothers‘ style car chase at the beginning, a startlingly brutal moment involving Christian Bale‘s  spine and the wonderful Michael Caine turning the ham-o-meter up to 11 in one great scene. But these were the occasional laudable stars shining in a reservoir of a movie. The incomprehensible plot littered with asine conveniences, the painstakingly obvious dialogue/political allegory and the fact that NOTHING the films villain, Bane said made any sense. If I wanted to watch a bald guy masticating indecipherably through shit dialogue with a look of wide eyed confusion on his face then I can go and watch Gregg Wallace on Masterchef.  It was completely ridiculous. The way people talk about the film you’d think it’s ‘The Godfather‘ but it is not near as much fun as ‘The Avengers‘, a film which doesn’t have a batarang up its arse. I’ll end this part with some of Bane’s dialogue from ‘TDKR’:

Mpppppmhhhhhh mphhhhh mhhhh oarghhhh reckoning mmmpppp!

2012 in Review: Part 1 – Kony, Pasties, ‘Propinquity’ and Princes

The world didn’t manage to end in 2012, unless your happened to be a relative of the late Sir Jimmy Savile OBE, KCSG. It was a year of cringing indifference, political incompetence and shuffling entropy. Prince Charles became a weatherman. Clearly it was a strange year and a particularly anticlimactic one at that, after 2011’s season finale feel, being a year of revolution, rioting and the occasional nuclear explosion, 2012 instead brought us another step closer to having a Prime Minister with the initials ‘BJ’. 

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Boris: not the man of the year. More of a dangling grape actually.

The Leveson inquiry was the best daytime television ever apparently (or so I’ve heard, I was stuck at bloody school when it was going down). It was a good excuse to watch dreamy Perry Mason-a-like Robert Jay QC utter stupendously big words like ‘propinquity’ and ‘condign’ with terrifying control and accuracy. Celebrities usually seen in the context of desperately trying to distract us from the crashing awfulness of the real world and its often horrible ‘news’ became part of its fabric for a few weeks. Hugh Grant, Imogen ‘shagged Giggsy’ Thomas, Steve Coogan – even a sallow faced J.K. Rowling rubbed painfully sawing shoulders with the political and (serious) media establishments. It was like a high brow Big Brother house or an intellectually charged edition of Jeremy Kyle with Sienna Miller in place of some web-footed delinquent from Norfolk. Wonderfully all involved seemed to have an axe to grind, chickens came home to roost with all the precision of the underground during the Olympics and Robert Jay QC joyously made David Cameron look like a total mug in regards to his ‘country supper – yes we can’ texts to Rebekah Brooks. 2012 being the unavailing year it was Cameron managed to completely ignore recommendations of Leveson’s report. Still, it made for good television.

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Robert Jay QC – imagine a likeable Jeremy Kyle who isn’t an imbecile.

Cameron didn’t have a great 2012. Allowing his stooge George Osbourne to slap a 20% VAT surcharge on hot foods led to the embarrassing  Pastygate fiasco, leading swarms of sycophantic politicians to besiege branches of Greggs nationwide in a desperate effort to show that they were human beings like the rest of us. Memorably, class dork Ed Miliband  and his bouncer Ed Balls ordered a staggering eight sausage rolls from one branch of Greggs which seemed excessive in these times of austerity, Mr Balls enjoyed ‘the lion’s share’ of the sausage rolls apparently. Cameron upped the cringe factor by telling an apocryphal story about eating pasties:

‘I think the last one I bought was from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. I seem to remember I was in Leeds station at the time. The choice was to have one of their small ones or their large ones. I’ve got a feeling I opted for the large one and very good it was too.’

Within minutes Network Rail confirmed that Mr Cameron’s story was entirely false. Nice try Dave.

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Ed Miliband and Ed Balls: people like you and me.

Kony 2012. Stop at Nothing. Cover the Night. Stumbling nakedly through 2012 like its misguided evangelical christian poster boy creator Jason Russell came ultra-viral video Kony 2012. This was a video made by the charity Invisible Children; their campaign was a classic example of streamlined, quintessentially American exercise in utter bullshit. The video itself was a blatant, if admittedly well made, piece of propaganda, seemingly designed for simpletons to share on Facebook and Twitter. The people behind the film encouraged the proliferation of the video on social networks aiming to make Ugandan warlord and all round bad apple Joseph Kony ‘famous’. This was duly achieved by said simpletons. And then… Invisible Children asked us to help capture Kony by, err, buying one of their $30 action kits? Or, um, a bracelet? Or a t-shirt? It wasn’t long before half the internet called bullshit on the Kony campaign, and the other half went and cried in the corner of their rooms about how ill-informed they were. If ever a disingenuous charity campaign was to end with its architect screaming and publicly masturbating it was this one (although Bob Geldof still looks like he would be capable of something similar). Poor bloke. Oh and as of 2013 Kony and his band of child soldiers are still at large in central africa and presumably more pissed off than ever. The power of social media!

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The excitingly 20th century-like Arab Spring was one of the bigger let downs of the year. All those words and names newly emblazoned in the public lexicon: Benghazi, Tahrir Square, Mohamed Bouazizi – these words and the feelings they engendered began to sour in 2012. This wasn’t particularly surprising, after all most governments run by mobs of half-starved  militiamen with a penchant for ululating and shooting at the sky for no reason whatsoever don’t do too well.

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President Assad: a man with quite nice eyes.

Finally it was another massive year in the Royal Family‘s continued rebranding exercise . The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in classically British style by watching Poseidon completely shit on her boat pageant, Prince Harry went to Vegas with unsurprising consequences and the Duchess of Cambridge‘s breasts caused the most cross-channel consternation since the Hundred Years War. The actual Diamond Jubilee itself was risible. Risible weather, risible coverage by the BBC and the risible and ubiquitous Will.i.am shouting ‘yo’ over the top of Stevie Wonder during the Jubilee concert. Even Peter Kay was wheeled out, performing a joke so old that he had to dig up its fossil on the morning of the concert to get it ready. A healthy dose of karma arrived for the bloodsuckers later in 2012 in the form of court jester and notorious shagger Prince Harry’s regal buttocks. All the usual platitudes where spluttered out: “Give it a rest he’s only young” (Harry is 28), “He deserves a holiday after what he did in Afghanistan” (morally questionable), “its not his fault the pictures were taken” (then why do we pay for his bodyguards to do this) and so on. Brendan Gleeson sums up the Royals better than I could.