Pig Girls Don’t Cry: Thoughts Thus Far

Recent articles posted here have been heavy so let’s lighten things up around here, I will instead do a TV piece. You may or may not be aware that The Muppets are back on TV with a new series about their latest project, a late night chat show hosted by Miss Piggy. However, the show also does the behind the scenes of the show within the show in a mockumentary style, essentially modernising the old Muppet Show format by fusing The Office and Conan O’Brian’s chat show into one thing but with puppets. Sound good? Well…

The show has a promising start, Muppet humour is there from the beginning. Beaker gets abused, there’s a misdirect by Honeydew, the whole “Piggy is the star but she’s an actual pig, ergo she is heavy and such” stuff, jokes that would not be out of place in the old films. However, we get a taste of the adult humour with Zoot mistaking the team meeting for an AA meeting and Sam playing the ‘concerned mothers of America’ voice as he goes combing through the scripts for even the vaguest of innuendos and curse-like words. I guess it puts us on the same page as the writers then, it’s the characters we love in a way we don’t normally see them. After some easy jokes, we get to hear what to expect – ‘The Muppets’ is the story of our favourite characters working on a new TV concept whilst being recorded in a documentary, the format immediately being ripped on by Gonzo, who is in turn made the target of an obvious joke. Things are okay so far, not exceptional but it looks like something worth watching at least, let’s see where they take it.

Well, cue Piggy. Miss Piggy, poor Miss Piggy, is just bad in this appearance. The sassy yet sexy glamour pig of our past who was always a little self-centred but fundamentally charming is hacked apart by people who have clearly reduced her down to a handful of traits – namely dolled up, loud and bossy. She shouts at staff for no real reason, her first line is a line of abuse and she tears the efforts of others apart without mercy before hounding Kermit for the most trivial stuff. Piggy only gets worse later on but I’m doing this review in the process of the episode so each thing as it happens for now. So, the show must go on, Fozzie is the warmup act for the crowd before the main event and fails in his usual fashion, getting savaged by Statler and Waldorf, the only characters who are still their old selves.

The ‘show’ goes on whilst Kermit has thoughts to himself, the fact he uses the world ‘hell’ in these thoughts is remarked upon negatively by Sam, who I guess has gone from a patriot to a pansy. After that, he books a guest star, Tom Bergeron of Dancing With Stars, called in to replace a guest Piggy can’t stand. Kermit is rather negative in his appearance here, more on that later because we now have to see into Fozzie’s love life. Yup, cue easy joke about the dual meaning of bear as both an animal and a burly gay man. Fozzie is subjected to… bear racism, by his girlfriend’s dad and the scene is just… yeesh… bad. Less said the better but the barrel was scraped for these racism analogies using salmon and toilet habits, because jokes about bears are finite people, cut them some slack, Henson exhausted the good ones thirty something years ago.

Cut back to the writer’s office, Gonzo shows Kermit a skit he’s been working on and Kermit says he hates it, not in a disdainful but ultimately lets his friends have their way Kermit sense but more a “You are paid for this job? For real? I fucking resent that” tone of voice. Gonzo doesn’t seem bothered by the criticism and then we have Denise, the subject of controversy and Kermit’s new squeeze, a prettier skinnier pig with this cheeky playful demeanour. Yeah, Kermit dropped a feminist for an airhead, go figure, kinda sketchy when you think about it. Adult humour is brought in here with Denise giving her drink straw some puppet fellatio in the background of Kermit’s talking head section and Kermit even refers to “We met at a cross-promoting event and ended up… ‘cross-promoting'”. This is jarringly weird, the Muppets are making references to fucking each other, these are not the characters for this sort of humour, either make new puppets based on the Muppets to do this show or just cut the sex references, sure a kid won’t get them but it’s just uncomfortable to watch.

So, Piggy is brought back up, shouting abuse at her personal trainer this time, she seems to take out her frustration on people set on making the most of her potential, is this something extremely clever or did the head writer just say “Make Miss Piggy into a colossal fuckhead”? After that, Denise reveals the reason she thinks Piggy didn’t want former guest Elizabeth Banks in the show, they auditioned for a film together and Piggy wasn’t picked for a part, boo-hoo. Kermit then decides that’s a stupid reason for cutting a guest from a show and brings Banks back in without consulting anyone, he just does it, he views it as decisive action but I see it as weedy and cowardly, he’s not facing up to Piggy, he’s going behind her back to undermine her. Note, there is no scene in which he cancels Tom’s appearance, we just go onto the next day, Banks is there and Kermit tells everyone to just deal with it and that Piggy can essentially suck his green one if she’s unhappy. Kermit then shouts down all who oppose his irrefutably clever move, horribly even, he takes on Animal and Gonzo like they aren’t friends, they’re idiots holding him back. Denise thinks this is a sexy take-charge frog but Kermit has gone against the protocols and asked for no opinions from anyone, he’s assumed because he’s in charge of the behind-the-scenes stuff he can just do whatever.

Anyway, this take-charge mood is turned on its head when he decides Banks can’t be around where Miss Piggy can see her until the show begins so he tries to offhand her to Scooter but she throws him out of one of those golf-buggy things they use to navigate studios and comes back to ask what is going on. Of course, Piggy walks in and awkward hijinks ensue… by which I mean Kermit is unveiled as an underhanded toad rather than a timid-but-endearing frog. Fozzie is also there, trying to impress his girlfriend and her family by showing them where he works but Miss Piggy shouts at him and calls him worthless, she also forgot his goddamn name earlier on. Are you shitting me? THEY WORKED TOGETHER, this takes place in a continuity after they made films and TV shows together and here she is just being really unreasonably mean to him for just trying to be a showman.

The truth about Elizabeth Banks and Miss Piggy is revealed, they broke up after seeing Pitch Perfect 2, in which Banks starred. Piggy was apparently taking too many selfies and ruined the film for Kermit, who then realises he’s just been a sucker for her abuse for ages and walks away. Kermit has apparently forgotten about this and realises now he is the one in the wrong, he forgot about the whole affair and how Elizabeth Banks was on a poster in that moment. He tries to make peace with her and she then tears apart his life choices and his weight gain after he asks for honesty. The only other thing before the show goes live is the end of the Fozzie arc in this episode – the parents aren’t impressed and leave but the girlfriend stays, she says she loves that brown ball of bad puns no matter what they say and he’s not convinced or satisfied, instead he wonders how he can validate himself by some other means. Geez Fozzie, I didn’t realise you had it so rough, are you trying so hard due to some childhood issue? It’s an odd attempt to add depth to a talking pile of felt and ping-pong balls but Fozzie is one of the characters in this I can watch without wincing, sadly can’t say that for backstabbing Kermit or egocentric she-devil Miss Piggy.

The show goes ahead, Tom Bergeron turns up and realises what’s happened and Kermit feels awful… but not bad enough to send him a personal gift or anything, just a ‘standard gift basket’ package, claiming it’s ‘good enough’. Note, if you think an apology is just enough to meet a standard, that’s insincere, it should be an apology befitting what you did wrong – Tom’s been made a fool of and built up for nothing, that’s unfair on the guy. I get he’s obviously the ‘minor celebrity cameo’ but if we took this as a real life scenario, Kermit is the sort of guy to scrimp on apologies? What a colossal twat. After that, we wrap up with a musical performance by Imagine Dragons with guest drummer Animal and a quick joke from the grouchy old men we all know and love and that’s that, the least outright hilarious thing I’ve seen the Muppets in for a long time…

Review done, let’s address the controversy, is it suitable for children? Family characters taking on a mature style of show? Well, I reckon you could let children watch it, the inappropriate stuff is hinted at so subtly it’d fly over your head until you’re 16 but aside from seeing talking puppets and some occasional slapstick, there’s not much for kids here. The characters are boring, the jokes are mostly one liners and there’s nothing wacky to look forward to – Gonzo isn’t catapulted into space by some bizarre contraption, Beaker doesn’t almost die for some sadistic science project, Animal doesn’t go batshit crazy and Kermit doesn’t do the “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!” thing any more. I’d worry more about disappointing kids than corrupting them with this, it disappointed me. I get the feeling the writers just looked at what comedy has become and tried to emulate it and in doing so, turned their characters into interchangeable personnas you’d have Steven Merchant play in a sitcom. In fact, someone call Ricky Gervais, I think they probably stole some of his work and passed it as their own. I understand characters need to change and evolve to stay fresh but this isn’t it for me, at least not so far, maybe it’ll improve but the pilot was a lack-lustre attempt to force goofy puppets into roles portrayed by the cast of Extras in a way supposedly engaging for the American audience. As for the controversial character of Denise, she’s got nothing on Piggy thus far, she’s sorta flirty and tries to be funny but I doubt a great deal of thought was given to her, she’s basically a “Hot girl in the workplace” trope at this point.

There you go, my thoughts thus far, I’ll keep watching and hoping and review the series at the end if people are interested (And any especially interesting episodes in between) but if you think you have to see this, you don’t, it’s nothing special, it’s a so-so comedy using famous characters made popular by nostalgia and recent movies to promote itself and it’s sub-par script

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A Matter of Correctness

Trigger Warnings – None

A progressive and liberal minded person will often find that when comedy and insensitivity mix, they tend to cringe, which can often lead to this talk of “political correctness” as being a negative thing. I hear it a lot, if you say to someone “I don’t tell people to grow some balls because your genitalia has nothing to do with your determination” then you’ll probably hear them say “Alright you lofty twat, I was just using a figure of speech” and then you look like the dickhead for daring to object to that racist/sexist/homophobic joke or remark. Right now, I bet some of you are thinking I’m a lefty tosser with pretentious standards I enforce upon everyone and recycle my own shit to save pandas or something, am I on the right lines? Political correctness has been painted with a bad brush, much like feminism or pride regarding sex and sexuality but in truth, political correctness isn’t about being the better man, it’s about forming a better community

I’ll start by admitting that in my time, I’ve told people to man up and made a racist joke here and there, I was a teenage lad in a chavvy school, you had to have something up your sleeve just in case. However, growing older and more mature, it’s harder to laugh at a joke in which the explanation is “Get it? Because they’re Chinese!” and we’re supposed to just go “Oh ok, so I guess that’s just how Chinese people work huh?”. I find such jokes less funny when the point of the joke is to laugh at the expense of a minority and generally think to myself “Could I make this joke with the sort of person targeted by this joke and still be on good terms with them afterwards?”

Now don’t get me wrong, comedy is on a first name basis with controversy and tragedy, that’s something I understand as well as anyone, but comedy can and should be better than the lazy effort of generalisation. You can often hear people make these jokes and justify it by saying they’re “half Black” or “my best mate is from Asia so…” and it’s a hard situation to handle but I find if they justify it in such a way, they don’t suffer the discrimination they’re inadvertently endorsing, someone who justifies their joke as “Well my sister’s a lesbian so I can do this” is NOT a lesbian, she can’t identify with how a lesbian would react to the joke and if she did tell her sister, her sister might tolerate it as just being an annoying sister

Political incorrectness is still very much a social norm and it’s a privilege we need to get over as a society, if you can’t think of a funny joke that isn’t about dumb blondes or wussy gay guys, you’re not a very funny person are you? Try harder, there are so many things in life good for poking fun at but it has to be a poke, a light tickle in the ribs, not just some dismissive “Well the joke is that you can’t drive properly because you have a vagina”. Jokes are always going to offend, sure, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have a cull on some of the jokes that are just based in the world of stupid stereotypes and ignorance as humour is the work of intellect, not burbling. I realise I might upset a few people saying this but frankly if you can’t have a laugh without it being at someone’s expense, that’s your problem, not mine

Now before people get in a huff about free-speech, let me tell you something about free-speech, free-speech is the right to speak and that is all it is, it is not the right to say anything without consequences, it is not the right to have everyone hear whatever you say and it is not entitlement to a podium or stage if you want one, it is literally just the right to open your mouth and say something if you want to but you still have to accept the responsibility for what you say. So, if you want to make racist jokes, fucking go for it but accept the fact you will be considered a racist. If you think I am infringing on your rights by telling you to not make these jokes, I’m not, my right is to say this to you as it is yours to make those jokes, it doesn’t mean I can’t suggest you don’t make those jokes or argue against these remarks if you make them

So, in exercising that right to free-speech, confront someone whose comedy arsenal is a load of jokes about Muslims, Indians and women, tell them these jokes should be left where they belong, in the past, in a world of division and ignorance and that we need to move forward. If you are an aficionado of the dumb blonde jokes or laughing at how Chinese words sound so funny compared to ours, why not try to broaden your horizons? You think you’re funny now huh? Imagine how much funnier you’d be if EVERYONE could join in your fun, if everyone around you thought you were a great guy, even the little people you might overlook. Political correctness isn’t about being smart or elitist or high-brow, it’s about being a decent human being that treats all people as… well… people. Call me a radical but I think that’s a damn fine thing to do

Do They Know It’s Not Working At All?

Trigger Warnings – Mentions of death/illness

With my birthday out of the way, you may now bring up the subject of Christmas without me trying to throttle you. So, I decided tonight’s topic should be the latest Band Aid single and in particular, the situation regarding Adele’s refusal to take part and why, you’ve guessed it, I’m on her side this time. Oh, you didn’t guess it? You thought perhaps because I am a charity worker I’d despise anyone not taking part in a charity effort? You thought wrong if that’s what you thought, this entire conflict between her and Bob Geldof highlights the trouble with Band-Aid as a means of fighting poverty and illness in Africa, in particular, that it does so very little to make a change.

So what’s the story? Well, thirty years on from the original Band-Aid single, Bob Geldof has gathered an array of modern musicians to do a modified version of the song to raise money for the fight against Ebola and well, that’s a nice idea, Ebola needs to be wiped out, it’s a plague, literally, and it is killing people en masse who don’t have access to doctors and clean water and so on. However, of the people on his list, Adele was said to be ignoring phone-calls and shutting herself off from the world and Bob dismissed this as Adele being a miserable stingy cow or perhaps too caught up in looking after her private life to spare a weekend for recording the single. The news recently came to light though that she isn’t ignoring the calls, she’s refusing them and with a darn good reason

I take a bit of an issue with rich people telling me to give my hard earned money away when they aren’t exactly leading by example and it seems Adele agrees with me because instead of taking part in the music work, her manager confirmed she has been making private donations of actual physical money to Oxfam, one of the charities actively working to combat Ebola. Geldof wanted to make Adele the subject of public shaming, saying she’s “doing nothing” when in fact she clearly is doing something and this tone is generally the same tone the song itself takes – self-righteous “I’m so benevolent, I care about poor people, look at me being charitable” kinda syrupy nonsense that doesn’t mean anything. The song patronises an entire continent asking if anyone there is aware it’s Christmas, despite the strong Christian presence in Africa as a whole the song seriously went on this assumption the entire continent was ignorant. No, they didn’t know it was Christmas clearly because Africa is full of backwards cave people who mash stones together for fun. Admittedly they took out the horrible line of “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you”, a strangely self-aware comment on the western world, living in blissful ignorance of the plight of our cousins across the pond as we whinge about not having a second car and they whinge about not having a second son any more because he died of starvation. Oops, was that harsh? Well, tough, we enjoy a level of privilege, even the working-class and one song isn’t enough to change it, no matter how many covers there are

Band-Aid is such a smug self-satisfied service really, a bunch of overpaid idiots huddled together for a bit, enjoying a free trip to Africa to spend a few days gawking at people dying of illness so they can feel they are morally righteous in their quest to record a song before flying home again and making this master cure-all for everything through the power of music. I think Band-Aid is a fitting name really, there are people dying of hunger and sickness and the proceeds from these recordings are indeed little more than a band-aid (Plaster to my British audience and I) on a gaping wound, handed out with a patronising smile and when they take it, still choking on vomit, we dance around saying we are so honoured we made a difference. I’m not here to poo-poo on people for trying, it’s great, but when you look at the line-up, you have to ask yourself “Why am I the one giving money and them the ones giving time? They have money to actually give away, all I’ve got is pocket change!”. I’d like Bob Geldof to put his money where his mouth is and dish out a couple of thousands to Oxfam for the Disasters Emergency Committee, both of which go unmentioned by Band-Aid despite the fact that Band-Aid pops up once in a while around Christmas with a big parade and a heroic cape on and the other two work around the clock, every day of the year to actually do something on, they don’t wear capes though because capes aren’t going to feed a family or plant a field of crops

Furthermore, look at the people involved. Bob Geldof, notorious tax-evader, says his time is what he’s paying to this charity, his time and effort. Fuck that Bob, you’re worth £32 million, how about you give some of that away if this means so much to you that you’ll demonise anyone who doesn’t listen to your precious little song? Or hey Bono, you don’t pay your taxes either do you? Yet you have no problem telling me to make a donation to charity on your behalf! And don’t get me started on One Direction, a band of tossers so outrageous they have SEPARATE JETS for when they don’t feel like travelling together. Jets. Plural. Fucking sell them and take a taxi like a normal person, you bunch of pre-pubescent tweenybop twats.

The British people as a whole, give a lot to charity, certainly from my experience from working in the shop, I’ve turned my back and turned back to see a stranger stood at the collection box trying to stuff notes into the coin slot, I’ve met people who see me opening up the shop and rush over to give me money saying it has to go to those most in need, be it a war zone or a quiet village somewhere they’ve never heard of and the donations we get, I often look at and think “Why not sell this? It’s worth a fortune” only for them to say “We’d much rather the profit went to people who need it more than we do”. We’re not stingy people, we can be thrifty and overall it might not be as much as it could be but we’re all poorer and we give a huge amount compared to celebrities and internet personalities, that has to be worth something

I don’t mean to be angry but this really gets me worked up, to see people don the halo when they’re no angel by a long shot. I work hard for my money and I don’t give much but I don’t have much to give, especially at this time of year when expenses are coming out the wazoo but I try, we all do, except for those with the money to spare. Private jets, tax-dodging, publicly shaming their peers, it’s pathetic and it contradicts the spirit of love and charity they claim to be representing. If you want to make a difference, give your time to a charity store of your choosing and help them raise money or make a donation and say where you want it go to the person at the till and it will go there. You don’t have to give much but if enough of us just parted with £5 one day to the fight against Ebola, the world would notice the difference

Here’s A Good Laugh

Trigger Warnings – None as far as I can see

I don’t know if my British audience follows the news as much as I do but the latest talk is that Daniel O’Reilly, better known as Dapper Laughs, has “killed” his character after a massive backlash on social media for advocating misogyny, sexual violence and intolerance of the disabled and the homeless with his comedy routine that revolves around the thought processes of the typical hetero-white-male thug from the streets, the kind of guy who tells you he banged your mom last night and refers to himself as a gangsta and a player when other people refer to him as a tosser and a cunt.

Dressed in an outfit strikingly similar to Steve Jobs, Daniel appeared on Newsnight and announced that Dapper Laughs is no more and that the character was a creation intended to amuse a certain demographic (refer to previous paragraph) but when it became a viral sensation, he got caught up in his fame and went over the line into full on dickwad mode. A former entertainer on a cruise ship, he said he was best known for his cheeky chappy persona and that was the foundation upon which he built this thuggish oaf that harassed girls on the street or pretended to be running for his life away from people in wheelchairs.

Understandably, this is a hard sell and I myself have a hard time believing the man’s sincerity, it’s funny he came to this epiphany after losing out on a TV show and having petitions come up left, right and centre to call an end to his tour, which has been cancelled in its entirety after Wales unanimously told him to play with the white lines in the road. Sincere or not, it comes off as backpedalling, especially when he refers to Dapper Laughs as a character when he had previously been using it as a stage name. Daniel probably hoped Dapper Laughs would be lumped in with the likes of Ali G, an ironic creation that openly mocks the stupidity of a certain creed of people for their ignorance, but it hasn’t come across that way to anyone really, everyone has taken the character to be the man, unlike Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, which met with some criticisms but has largely been accepted as a bad joke

I’m not sure what to make of it, kudos to the guy for putting his hands up at any point and he realises he’s ruined his own career by bursting onto the stage with such grace he’d have been better off calling himself Twatty McShittits and dancing in a mankini whilst making racist remarks, at least then nobody would have thought he’s serious and he wouldn’t have made it to TV, more likely he’d have made it to an institution. Dapper Laughs was regarded by his fans as the people’s comedian, which I can understand – no formal education, no middle-class background, no fancy references the layman can’t pick up on, the guy was clearly a performer and may well have had that potential but squandered it by pandering to the lowest denominator, by appealing to all that is base and crude within the average man with jokes about loose vaginas and all gay men being wusses, the jokes you heard the school bullies tell each other whilst they smoked around the back of the bike shed

A working-class young comic would be great, there are young comics and working class comics but rarely do the two meet and comedy is very much an art of intellect so it’s hard to be a comedian without a reasonable level of education and experience of the world. I thought about if I was a comedian for the working-class but I know I’m not, I’m far too pretentious and smug about making jokes referring to Oscar Wilde’s works and such like or paying homage to films and television shows people wouldn’t know about without being a fan of those things, I’m only working class in so far as the financial situation and the eating habits but personality wise, I’m the sort of man who you would expect to have a friend called Percival or who would be pondering whether he’s in the mood for tapas or sushi for lunch

Well, we’ll see what this guy does now but since he’s said he’s going to kill and bury that part of his life for good (which might seem like burning the evidence of his sins but hey, maybe that’s for the best, ten years from now we might see a world that can’t remember Dapper Laughs ever existing) I’m hoping he’ll take some time to rethink his life and his career and if that was not a performance and was indeed the guy himself, his thoughts on disability, homelessness, sexuality and gender stereotypes need some serious work. As one man working towards moving away from his past self to another though, I’ll choose to give him the benefit of the doubt for now and I hope to see his return to the social media being something suitable, maybe some earnest charity work to make amends as a suggestion? Who knows? The best thing to take away from this is that for once decency prevailed over moronic ignorance and a bad influence on our society has been laid to rest

Blame The Beneficiaries

I had a rant in the works that was going to be rather interesting but seeing as I can’t string that rant together sufficiently well enough to be pleased with the message it gives out I’m going to instead turn my attention to another matter that is really getting under my skin, a television program that is nothing short of an atrocious attempt to demonize the lower classes. If you’re British and have a television, you are probably aware of the show I am referring to, the delightful TV morsel that is of course Benefit Street.

Benefit Street is a program shown on Channel 4 about the lives of those claiming benefits in a small section of Birmingham where nine out of ten households receive some form of benefits. The program follows the lives of people going about their business, applying for jobs and the like all whilst we are treated to scenes of anti-social behaviour and foul attitudes which we all know is par for the course when you look around these kind of neighbourhoods but the fact of the matter is that this is only a reflection of the government at work, which I’ll explain in detail later. Benefit Street is what you’d expect of what passes for a documentary in this day and age, a shameless montage of the best and worst examples of a certain demographic with some touching human interest stories that are flashed in your face briefly long enough to make you feel something before they shuffle along and drop the violin.

A controversy surrounding this televisual feast is that the people shown in the program were lied to when the TV crews arrived, believing they were taking part in a documentary about how solid community still matters to a broken nation and so many of them agreed to take part, only to be made out as scrounging wastes of oxygen by the media to the point where some participants have been disowned by their families and made to take on new identities to escape the hatred. Channel 4 denies deceiving their participants and says that they fully explained the concept to the participants but even if that were true, I doubt they explained it in simple straightforward English and instead spoke in cleverly ambiguous promises. May I remind you that this is the TV channel that brought us Sex Box, a show in which couples of all kinds, be they gay, straight or disabled, are shoved into a big steel cell and told to have sex (thankfully, this isn’t recorded) before coming out of the cell and discussing what they did and how it felt. Channel 4 likes to think of themselves as “cutting edge, pushing the boundaries of tasteful television” but frankly ever since Charlie Brooker and Derren Brown vanished from their showings, that pushing of boundaries has just meant shameless parades of total shite. I thought Hollyoaks was bad but compared to the other bollocks on that channel of late, Hollyoaks is the only jewel in the Channel 4 crown that isn’t made from a crusty turd.

The program is cut up and edited to show you what the government wants you to see. Oh, she’s applying for a job? Yay, skip the bit in which she gets mocked over the phone by her potential employer (According to an interview with one participant, what started as informal banter became degrading and insulting but that bit was cut out… not that she even knew the phone call was being taped) Oh all these houses next to each other each claim JSA huh? Evil demons, who cares about the fact the houses directly opposite don’t have benefit claimants living in them? Sadly we have to remember that Channel 4 and BBC are the speakerphones of the government and as much as they’d like to call themselves neutral, their purses are filled by politicians who give them slaps on the wrist for saying rude things before handing them a bag of sweets and giving them a pat on the head. America has this same thing with FOX, a channel so right-wing it might as well be a lopsided duck, but it lets some programs like The Simpsons and Futurama get away with the “Republicans are evil” gag because people still sit there and watch, even the left-wingers.  The media is a double-edged sword wielded by a bloated carcass wherever you look because it takes whatever side it fancies and calls itself the champion to be entitled to the rewards, before flipping over again and doing the exact same thing for the reverse side.

I know what some of you are thinking though, that these rats that live off free scraps deserve our hatred right? Benefits aren’t a lifestyle, they’re the absolute bottom line between having a roof over your head, or a sheet of corrugated steel. David Cameron once said £60 a week covers the common man’s bills easily with cash to spare but were that true, why do we not see these money-sponging fiends, as the conservatives amongst us might call them, rocking designer labels and brand new gadgets? I’m pretty sure the hot cars of the street were Corsas and Fiestas, not Enzos and Aventadors? Speaking as a man of the lower class, the only way you get something fancy is either by walking a lot in lieu of paying for petrol or bus fare or by waiting for it to devalue considerably. I mean, I’m playing my PS3 on a CRT TV, that’s right, the big fat black televisions you’d expect from Life on Mars, not Life in 2014. The PS3 isn’t great either, it’s one of the old ones and if I were to sell it, I’m not looking at getting anywhere near the price paid to buy it, the outdated relic it now is. Benefit Street is a stick for the Tories to beat their lessers with, a justification for the benefit cuts announced for 2014 and a foul-smelling message of “This is who you should hate, not us!”. I tell you what though, if someone is stealing the taxpayer’s money, I’d rather find out it was to buy food than to refurbish their second house!

I said I wanted to explain how these “scroungers” are a reflection of the government and for the purposes of this explanation, let’s assume these people are as bad as the show portrays them to be, lewd drunken washouts with no prospects for the future that now suckle from the money tit of the government. We operate on a system that is extremely dictated by class and has people set up to fail before they even start, that is becomingly increasingly expensive to live in but is offering less and less support and has sold out the future generations already by closing schools and youth clubs en masse. You’re broke, your education isn’t worth the paper it is printed on, you can’t afford a hobby and you’ve got no hope of a job and the only people to thank are the people that judged you before you were even that look in Dad’s eye when he had too many lagers in his system. Sponging is all you can do, aside from wade through shit that reaches up to your eyes and hope to find something that offers you a snorkel. You might have lazy demanding self-entitled people but the people of a nation reflect the rulers for the most part, namely our lazy demanding self-entitled government who sit on mountains made of solid gold and diamond, throw us pennies and call us greedy pigs.

As a fan of history let me take you back to a period of history I know very well, ancient China after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The Northern Territories were united under a man called Cao Cao, a charismatic yet harsh man who believed in a system that basically boiled down to “Every man has something he is good at, if he can discover this talent and apply himself to it then he shall be paid fairly according to his efforts and his family will have food”. No benefit system, sure, but Cao Cao never let a single potential worker go to waste and the people under his rule lived in a thriving kingdom, where they all had something they could do to earn their keep and this promoted discipline. Cao Cao was strict yet reasonable and prized hard-work above all else, his people and his subordinates were very much the same. The system isn’t perfect by any means, you could be facing a harsh winter if the bread-winner had an accident or couldn’t grow any crops but the main point is that Cao Cao had never heard of “scroungers” because he gave them reason (and opportunity) to work. Our current system offers no opportunities and is less about giving each man fair reward for effort but instead a flat rate regardless. In this country, if you find you can’t afford to work for less than a certain wage, you find yourself watching Dimitri Fuckyourselfinski coming in from the EU to take the job, working for pennies and taking them home to his country where those pennies are worth diamonds and he’s set for life. I’m not an expert but I’m pretty sure even a governmental system as archaic as Cao Cao’s didn’t have the rule “If your people are not happy with your rule, replace them with different people”

Oh, and for the record, even if these people were sponging money, let’s put that into perspective:

Tax Avoided/Evaded/Uncollected in 2013 – £120 Billion (Tax Justice and PCS Estimate)
Tax Avoided/Evaded/Uncollected in 2013 – £30 Billion (HMRC Estimate)
Benefits Unclaimed – £16 Billion (HMRC Estimate)
Benefit Overpayments Made In Error – £1.4 Billion (DWP Estimate)
Benefit Fraud – £1.2 Billion (DWP Estimate)

Cameron buddy, do some math – your big problem is companies evading taxes pal, clamping down on that £2.6 billion is still short of the £117.4 billion more you could be paying attention to and tell you what, if you do that and leave the benefit stuff alone, we as a people might even let you buy yourself a duck house as your reward hey? I mean, don’t get your hopes up but you know, it could happen… if you were competent.

Make Me Laugh

I sometimes find people asking me the question ‘How do you do it Jacob? How do you write these posts all the time?’, to which I usually make the smart arse response of ‘By using my hands usually because writing with your feet is difficult and unhygienic’  but, if you’ll excuse the assumption, I am a comedian by nature and the difficulty therein is a nightmare, especially when faced with a blank page that seems to stare at me and whisper ‘Make it count’. Comedy is seen as the most pleasant of escapist entertainment forms, second only to dreaming that you’ve suddenly inherited enough money to have four spare mansions in case your first one so much as smells funny, but in this day and age I find it’s more and more difficult to keep pace.

The society we live in follows a predictable and easily measured pattern when anything enters human interest and that is a process of conception/occurrence, interest, fame, overuse, lack of interest and then it either returns through the ironic use or it becomes an ugly muck monster emerging from the depths of the dead joke and you suddenly find that a daytime chat show has recorded their own version of the Harlem Shake or worse yet, Gangnam style. If you want to be funny, you’ve got to be fast and you’ve got to be the first one to make the snide comment, and if you time it just one day past the golden peak, you suddenly find yourself being ostracised as an internet hermit. For example, if I were to Rick Roll you right now, or make a joke about Charlie Sheen’s breakdown, you’d think I had my head buried in sand for twelve months whilst also being locked in a maximum security prison underground on the bloody moon. Our society, built around instantaneous connections and exchanges, leaves no room for you to be late to the mark and once it’s dead, it’s dead. You can be ironic sure, but that’s a difficult art to master and quite frankly, even if you did, most people are too stupid to notice your clever sarcasm, but all in all the lifespan of a trope for humour dies off faster than an underclass amputee in Cameron’s Britain (Yeah, couldn’t miss a chance to have another dig at that golden shining turd ruling over us all could I? You tosspot, living in Cloud-fucking-cuckoo-land and leaving the common ‘scrounger’ to starve and die like Scrouge’s complaints of a surplus population in the bleedin’ Christmas Carol)

Erhem, as I was… I guess one reason that this blog isn’t more of a success is because I miss out on the chance to make some great observations about our society and by the time I get chance to tell you an aspect of popular culture is bloody ridiculous, you’ve all figured that much out for yourselves and are now all trendy cyber hipsters that spit spam mail of hatred at anyone who so much as thinks of typing the words Harlem Shake. You’ve got to be fast and the key to being great at observational comedy is to be quick on the scene or just wait until something else of interest crops up and use that instead. Let’s think back to the death of Michael Jackson shall we? Do you remember where you were when you heard the news? Ok, how long was it until you heard a joke about it? I would guess anywhere between five minutes and a week at most and the point therein is strike whilst the iron’s hot and get in the laughs quick before people have heard it all and then start getting all snobbish about comedy and abhorring you for your silly outdated puns. However, by contrast, you can often hear the phrase ‘Too soon’ get tossed around in this situations and honestly that counts for bugger all nowadays. Heart failure? Cancer? Car crash? Overdose? If you had a claim to fame, the moment you die you become more famous as a running gag than you possibly ever were as a living being until suddenly everyone jumps on this sycophantic bandwagon of remembrance and then your last mentions are of how the world isn’t the same without you in it and that florists made a fortune on selling bouquets for your public memorial service, then you just fade from our attention slowly. Too soon? Comedy is born from tragedy but it’s an ugly creature at times and if you’re that determined to get a laugh from someone, you’ll make the nastiest blows you can before anyone can shed a tear and hopefully win over the kind of psychotic cretin you see as admin for a page along the lines of ‘HURR DURR DEAD BABIES!’ and so forth. If ever you thought I was a vile creature, thank your lucky stars I show a little respect for when people are grieving and give things a miss.

Well where does that leave me then, if I’m not going to be the one to play the piper for the internet arsehole but I’m not exactly family friendly comedy you’d let your kids watch with dinner on a Friday evening? I guess I aim for issues that don’t age too quickly, such as equal rights and pretentious vegans, because the lifestyle I lead leaves little time to be sat at a computer waiting patiently to make the first smart remark about a celebrity death or make a meme out of a catchphrase in a show and so I tackle issues anyone may well discuss at any given point in time. If ever I become a big name, the advantage I’ll have is despite my writing style, my content is universal and won’t just be forgotten about as the month passes, because there will always be someone still getting in a huff about all men being dick-swinging dream destroyers or that tattooing your first child’s name on your wrist is ridiculous because you then have five more and realise you’ve ran out of wrist. However,  I felt my rant about the welfare state was pretty on the ball and that contributed nicely to it’s success in ratings but still my best days are days where I publish generic issues we all get emotional about. To date, I have not had higher ratings on any rant than ‘Right War’ because it is about feminism – a timeless reason for women to rant and it drew in such a mix of readers that regardless of whether or not it spoke to them, I got noticed.

Ultimately, I’ve always considered myself a writer but also a man who wants to make people laugh and I do so by criticising everything around me for any justified grounds to do so, which makes a figure for controversy and that in itself makes me more noticeable. I enjoy what I do and people enjoy reading it usually, which shows in both my rants and my viewing figures that continue to swell over time. In the long run, I aim to do a lot more with both comedy and writing – write a serious novel, a funnier novel and maybe one day star in a comedy of my own design. I realise that said goals are probably more realistic than my childhood dreams of growing up to either be Doctor Who or a Transformer but it’s still a lot of work, as is comedy itself. I’m never going to lose hope though, and you won’t get rid of me any time soon so expect to keep hearing from me and watch as I get better with practice. With that in mind, I’m expecting that whiteboard soon so look forward to a video rant in the near future.

So that’s everything covered now, which leaves me with these final words for you to consider:

NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP
NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN
NEVER GONNA… Hahaha, fuck you society, and your dated jokes. I just rick rolled you.

Like and Share, you mindless mortals! (Originally Published – 10th September 2012)

Hello, Jacob Wolfe clocking in again at the factory of foul ranting, after a lengthy holiday that mostly consisted of working my nuts off, here, there and everywhere I could be made to do something for somebody. I’m sure you’ve all been wandering what happened to these once-upon-a-time weekly rants but rest assured I’m going to try and get back into routine so you don’t have to miss out on the hilarious results of frustration plus keyboard. To those of you checking out my work for the first time, you haven’t missed out on too much. The premise is simple, I vent out my anger at a failure within modern society as a page of fanciful ranting and then put up on the internet for people to either laugh at, or be offended by so I can laugh at them. I must warn you in advance, this isn’t friendly stuff so if you’re of a nervous disposition or easily offended, go read something more cheerful. If you’re still here, you’re no doubt after some entertaining vulgarities aren’t you? Oh go on then

My topic today is related to Facebook and in particular, one of the most annoying things about it. I’m not talking about the ever changing layout that leaves people in tears, desperately clawing at their screens because change is bad. No, I’m on about something much much worse. ‘Like and share, ignore if you’re heartless/hate gay people/want to die a grizzly death involving your eyes, a melon bowler and several burly men etc.’ I don’t really have to explain why this is so bad do I? I mean, it’s smegging obvious what’s so bleedin’ annoying about this airy-fairy drivel and if you can’t see the problem, you’ve probably liked and shared one of these stupid photos or maybe you were the one who uploaded that picture of a dying child, demanding I share the photo or you’ll appear under my bed with a knife? By the way, appearing under my bed would be an impressive feat; it has no legs so the space under my bed is as thin as a sheet of paper.

The offending photos range in appearance, usually something harmless and brain dead along the lines of ‘Share if you like Black Veil Brides. Ignore if you’re a Bieber fan’, which, whilst a strong motivation to not ignore your photo, I don’t like Black Veil Brides either and the idea of giving you my attention makes me feel like vomiting. Occasionally, the photos get a bit wedged up their own ass and preach to you about heaven and hell, saying that God will only save those who like the photo of him posted on Facebook. I have read the Bible and I am pretty sure, there isn’t a Psalm Reading along the lines of ‘And so the loyal shepherd liked thy holy spirit’s Facebook photo and so he and his flock were spared from the vengeful flood’. I may be wrong. God’s losing it if he really has to run heaven as an online subscription service, perhaps he’s feeling the effects of global recession and the economic value of the afterlife equates to an amount roughly the same as a Greek saving account.

However, I can put up with the harmless photos of puppies, cartoon characters and various musicians pulling cute faces at me, hoping I’ll grace them with space on my profile because in all honesty, they’re just the end results of creepy weirdoes using pictures to get a couple more friends and the only real way to avoid them is to scroll past them quickly and hope that you don’t get murdered by a ghost or banished to the void between dimensions. I may be irritable and grumpy but I let this slide because it’s essentially just the only way these monkeys can socialise. On the other hand, there are times where the photos can just go too far. I know what you’re thinking, I dance on the edge of taste myself but if you look back at my other rants, I do not dirty my work with anything much too vulgar. Cancer, specific national traumas, disabilities are just three topics that I make sure not to make crude jokes about because I know it’s entirely tasteless and that I will actually be murdered in my sleep by a victim of such topics. However, the photos don’t stop at the border of what’s a harmless picture for some likes and what’s actually just cruel. The photos and their creators are like some sort of psychopathic comedy nightmare, moving into areas that you just cannot poke at for attention. I’m sure we’ve all encountered the photo of a dying baby, suffering with a terminal illness, an abnormal growth or a victim of cancer and below the picture is a tragic back story and this command to share the photo a million times or the baby will die. Firstly, I don’t want anyone to think I’m a heartless old man who thinks those that are ill should die off and leave room for me and I certainly don’t want anyone in the world to have to live with such horrid illnesses, nor do I wish them upon others, even the people I wouldn’t save from being hit by a bus. I just want to make it clear, the photo is not a miracle of medical science and sharing it has no benefit for the child. Doctors get to work the moment they receive a patient, case studies are not uploaded onto Facebook for the public to decide who gets medical attention and who gets thrown out. If a child receives less than one million likes on Facebook, unless the child has already passed away, the child is most likely stable or on the path to recovery whilst receiving support from a number of trained doctors and surgeons. However good your intentions may be, you cannot save a live by making a photograph appear on the Facebook news feed of half your home country. Correct me if I’m wrong but no global catastrophe or terminal illness was ever prevented by a photograph on the internet

Allow me to tell you the story of a little girl named Isobel, a new-born infant that was suffering with a terrible cancer on her brain that appeared as a lump on the side of her head. I mean to tread softly as possible here and I hope nobody takes offense so please let it be said, anything that is interpreted as rude is not intentional. Please also note the information may not be 100% accurate as I am relying on information received from people who identified with my outburst on the comments of her photo. Isobel was photographed, lying on a bed with this growth and clearly looking uncomfortable as she bravely fought against the cancer but what she didn’t know, nor did her parents, is that the strictly confidential photograph was leaked onto Facebook and made into an attention whoring campaign for admins on various tactless pages (You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones with page names written in something even a dyslexic person can spot spelling mistakes in and that offer you 2000 extra friends if you add their shirtless admin and tell him your name, age, occupation, bathroom habits and so forth). The photo came with a brief misinformed back story and the demand that people must share the photo for the child’s sake and that failure to do so is proof that you have no heart. Comments were disallowed unless it was sympathetic but still, the wiser users of Facebook, albeit the grumpier ones, voiced their disgust at what they saw. I would like to inform you all that the child in the photograph survived and received the necessary surgery to remove the cancer; the parents are overjoyed and the whole family is moving on gradually. Now I can’t understand why anyone would use the personal struggles of a stranger just to make themselves popular, it’s sick. The photo is available across the internet and it seems to just say to anyone who looks at this popularity campaign ‘This is the length that an idiot will go to if it makes them popular’. Heck, you’re not even impressing your friends, you’re trying to appeal to people you’ve never met and never will. Isobel’s family were outraged and awash in tears as they watched this photograph make its way across the world for all the wrong reasons. Isobel isn’t the only victim here. Starving orphans, seriously ill babies and sufferers of natural disasters are all exploited as ploys to get Facebook admins noticed.

I do not wish these people to die or become ill but should they ever suffer, I may just reach for a camera. However then again, I might not, for fear of sinking to their level. I couldn’t live a life where my moral standards sit lower down than the Earth’s crust. I don’t normally end on such sombre notes and I hope you all enjoyed this rant as much as I hope it made you think but to any admins out there, the line in the sand should not be crossed for the sake of a few more likes. I can tolerate your bombardment of photos of Bieber and Biersack, your pictures of Satan, of Jesus and of ghosts but if you ever exploit the suffering of another human being to get noticed, you’re not somebody I want to know