More Crap Journalism

I don’t know what Zoe Williams is like when she’s drunk. I even more don’t know what Anne Hathaway is like when she‘s drunk, and I bet that Zoe Williams doesn’t know either, but Anne Hathaway does, and if she doesn’t want her son seeing her like that when he’s growing up, then good on her for foregoing getting pissed for so long, and, though I usually like Zoe Williams, fuck anyone who whines about her choice.

Unbelievable Journalism?

I usually title my dodgy links to articles in the Guardian ‘Crap Journalism’ but this one demands a completely different category.

Each week, in the Weekend Magazine, the paper spotlights a different place and puts it forward as an area to consider moving to. This time, I had to look twice to believe that I was reading ‘Let’s move to… Openshaw

Openshaw. East Manchester. Run-down. Neglected. Isolated. No facilities. I lived there until I was eleven, went back often. It’s a hole, even now. It’s not a fashionable place where you can get ahead of the smart investors. It never will be, or if it ever becomes that, then the world will have changed in ways of which we cannot imagine. This can’t be serious. The comments can’t believe it either.

But this is a serious and long-running feature.

Somebody has got to be having a laugh, but if they are I’m hanged if I can tell the punchline.

Crap Journalism: Unseriously.

Go on, read this one. It’s about Comic Fiction and whether it still exists. Read it all the way to the end. A whole essay about Comic Fiction and it gets to the last paragraph before it mentions Terry Pratchett, and then as a maybe and not even with the courtesy of his first name: Douglas Adams at least gets that.

That makes the writer the biggest joke of all.

Crap Journalism: Why we must all hate Barcelona FC, or else

Crap Journalism is an occasional feature on this blog, when I take exception to a piece of shite written for the Guardian. Having deleted my profile there several years ago, I cannot leave comments BTL (in those rare cases where they permit comments), so I counterblast on here.


Like a great many football enthusiasts, I followed the Barcelona vs Paris St Germain second leg on Wednesday night with mounting astonishment, leading to incredulity when they scored the final goal, after 95 minutes, that completed one of the most amazing football comebacks of all time.

For non-Football fans, let me explain that this was a two-legged cup tie, in which the team with the hgher total of goals over the two games, would go on to the next round. Barcelona, playing at home, started 4-0 down, meaning they had to win by five clear goals to qualify.

This was not probable.

Nevertheless, after 50 minutes, Barcelona were 3-0 up and looking capable of doing the job. Then PSG scored, meaning Barca had to score another three goals, in thirty minutes. In most normal circumstances, it would have been game over. With three minutes left, and still needing all those three goals, it was functionally impossible.

Barca did it. They scored three times,the last of them in the fifth minute of time added on for stoppages. This was pure mainline Roy of the Rovers fantasy time.

Of course, the online comments were full of hate towards Barca, especially from Real Madrid fans. But that was BTL, where you expect such things.

Enter this ‘comment‘ piece, one of the most vicious poison pen pieces I have seen outside of the rabid redtops. There is no pretence at any semblance of neutrality. this guy has a bug up his butt (as our American cousins put it) about Barca, and he’s going to squeal like a stuck pig about it.

In a way, it’s funny, but that ignores the context. this is a supposedly major newspaper, not some sub-When Saturday Comes fanzine where bias is not merely allowed but encouraged to run rampant.

Firstly, there’s the tone of hysteria, the traditional Football fan’s acscription of every evil under the sun to the object of hate, as if they’re the only club in the known Universe who do things like that. As a Manchester United fan, I’m very used to that response.

But the specific bone of contention are the two penalties awarded to, and converted by Barcelona during the course of the game, one of which came in that astounding last eight minutes that won the game. According to our ‘journalist’, it seems that these were the two least credible non-penalties ever incorrectly awarded in the history of Football in this and any thirteen other dimensions, because they were Dives! Dives, I tell you! DIVES!!!!!

Now I’m going to admit at this point to having a soft spot for Barcelona, made in equal parts of my visit there for the 1999 Champions League Final and their extraordinarily beautiful football in recent years. Yes, they utterly embarrassed United in the 2011 Champions League Final, but hey, the way they played, it was no shame to be second best to THAT club.

Nevertheless, I still possess a critical eye, so let’s pass it over these two penalties. The first of these was a foul on Neymar, converted by Messi. Neymar had pushed the ball past Meunier into the area, run round him to chase it, Meunier turned, stumbled, fell, across Neymar’s path, and he went head over heels over Meunier.

Was it a dive? No, there was clear and substantial contact. Did Neymar run into Meunier? In the sense that, did he alter his course, change his body shape, do anything to bring the contact on (as Aslhey Young has, notoriously, done more than once for United), no: Meunier fell right across him, from right to left, and was rolling across him.

Could Neymar have avoided the contact? This is a little more subjective, but I don’t think so. he’s running full-tilt after a loose ball, close to the goal-lie, when his course is obstructed by a falling body, right under his feet. Did he have enough room to swerve, to his left, maintaining his momentum, and curve back around Meunier’s body, to return to the ball? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a judgement call, and I didn’t think the margins were that blatant that Neymar could, without disadvantaging his attempts to get to the ball, where Meunier was unable to play it, avoid the contact.

The second penalty is a bit more clear cut. Our journalist accuses Suarez of diving: he does. Hell’s bells, everybody knows that Suarez dives, it’s not exactly the Fifth Revelation. PSG can argue a certain degree of being hard done to here, especially as the referee had already seen through one example of Suarez diving and yellow carded him for it.

So, if it’s as blatant as that, with a referee who’s already seen through a diver, why did he give it?

More importantly, and completely ignored by the ‘journalist’, the defender Marquinhos does make contact. Soft contact, marginal contact, absolutely, contact insufficient to bring Suarez down as he did, agreed. But he put his arm out, across Suarez’s clavicles, almost as high as his face. This is a player going past him, attempting to play a ball close to goal, a ball the defender is not going to reach. Why did he throw his arm out across Suarez if it were not to stop him from getting to the ball, in the penalty area?

Could it possibly be that Marquinhos intended to stop Suarez in an illegal manner that would have justified a penalty? The moral is, don’t throw your arms across opposition forwards in the penalty area if you don’t want to give away penalties.

A rather more balanced piece, shorn of the one-handed Barcelona-are-the-devil aspect, may well have been broad-minded enough to have considered this. But then it wouldn’t have been crap journalism if it had.

Crap Journalism – The Future of Comedy

I have never watched the sitcom Chewing Gum. Nor, from any of the descriptions I have read of it, including those referenced in the Guardian‘s latest example of Crap Journalism, have I any wish to.

It may be extremely funny. I may be doing myself a monstrous disservice and denying myself something killingly funny. It may indeed be very good. It just doesn’t suggest itself to me as something that I am likely to find funny, which is a reasonable assumption, because I am not the target audience for this brand of humour.

Be that as it may. Enjoy it, please do. Just don’t fucking tell me that this is the future of comedy, because it isn’t and its never going to be.

Because it’s that same old crap journalism fault I’ve called out a few times before, the inane escalation of your personal tastes into some universal law. Chewing Gum might be your future of comedy, in which case I feel extremely sorry for you, not because I might think it a bit crap, or a lot crap, because I have no idea and couldn’t care less, but don’t try to tell me that the future of comedy can be forced down so narrow a channel into so restricted a future, because no future is like that, and your stupidity in thinking that everything can be arranged around the narrowness of your preferences disqualifies you from having the right to expressing an opinion.

The future of comedy is what it always has been: so broad that nobody can restrict it to one, single path. It’s Crap Journalism of the purest kind to even suggest it can, and it reflects your own stupidity to think that you won’t ever find something that veers from this template funny again.

It’s not even the first future of comedy, and I mean things that did change the world of comedy as we saw it. The Goon Show changed the face of comedy. But Galton and Simpson still wrote Hancock and Steptoe and Son. Monty Python changed the face of comedy. But Dad’s Army ran for a decade.

Crap Journalism really gets up my nose.

Crap Journalism – Atheists are just as much believers as the rest of us

This is another of those pieces of toss that ensure that when the Guardian pleads for money, I tell it to fuck off and die.

Try listening to this sometime. It’s another heap of shite, hurling around accusations that atheists are smug, and atheists are full of superstitions, and atheists think they’re better than us and I’m going to tear them down because I can’t cope with the idea that people go through their day without worshipping God.

It’s the stereotypical bullshit and speaking as an atheist, I can only say that, to take one accusation, I certainly do not believe that ‘what goes around comes around’. I dearly wish it actually did, but the world of rationality provides no evidence that those who behave like utter, self-involved, malicious, greedy shits get their comeuppance. Rather, the opposite is true.

I try not to be offensive to the religious but in the case of this goomer, I can only suggest that he runs back to his sky-pixie and prays to have the shit cleared out of his head. Because on the evidence of this, he’s full of it.

Crap Journalism: Party Lines – update

What did I tell you?

The final episode of the fourth series of Sherlock is tomorrow, but the Guardian, which has no idea of proportion, or balance, or indeed when to knock it off because it’s creating the opposite reaction to that intended, has resumed its campaign of hate against the programme.

I’m not even linking to the latest salvo, which takes the form of the TV review page in the Weekend pocket-sized supplement. The column, entitled ‘The Other Side’ is usually written by Filipa Jodelka but – warning! warning! self-important twat alert! – this week it’s been handed over to the egregious Stuart Heritage to tell us, guess what, that the long-running American series, Elementary, is a better Sherlock than Sherlock. Well, no shit, er…

It’s not even as if Heritage can muster any great claims for Elementary: indeed he damns the show with faint praise by pointing out that there already over 100 episodes and that there are ones that don’t work but, hey, so what, other ones do.

Heritage even paints Elementary as a procedural, just as much as CSI or NCIS, but argues, on the basis of no evidence produced, that it is a cut above them, seemingly more honourable.

Now I have no comment to make on Elementary. I have seen nothing of it bear a handful of trailers, a few minutes in total, none of which have inclined me to want to watch more. It may well be very good, and/or highly entertaining, or it may be the kind of sterile formula-follower that over 100 episode in five years might suggest. I don’t know, nor do I care.

But on its behalf, I resent it suddenly being talked up like this, at this time, in this very week, not out of any merits it may possess in itself but as a stick to be deployed in the Guardian‘s vendetta. This is a show so monumental and magnetic that it appears on Sky Living, remember.

The thing about this kind of full-bore piling in, slinging mud at every possible moment, is that it demonstrates just how ineffectual the Guardian is being. If it had any confidence in itself and the validity of its opinions, it would make its point (without Heritage’s unfunny witty and ‘cutting’ comments) and rest on it. Instead, it has to shriek and blare, over and again.

It used to be a decent paper, too. I’m trying to remember how far back that was.

Crap Journalism: Party Lines

It’s never difficult to tell when the Guardian has decided to take a party line on something.

There was the astonishing vehemence with which it attacked the Steven Speilberg CGI Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn back in 2011, with nearly two-dozen different articles, frequently appearing on a daily basis, slagging off the film unmercifully. This was in contrast to the generally positive tones of reviews worldwide. To the Guardian, however, the film was a personal insult to Herge, a complete misrepresentation of the series, the rape of Tintin the character himself.

Basically, the audience was ordered to boycott the film, and if they ignored that advice, to hate the film. By the time I saw it, I was determined to like it, just because the response was so hysterical, unreasoning and dictatorial. And enjoy it I did (although, despite Andy Serkis being brilliant in it, Captain Haddock still wasn’t right, because he didn’t sound like the guy who voiced the old Tele-Hachette/Belvision cartoons).

Then there’s Jeremy Corbyn, whose every word, thought and deed has been slagged off by the Guardian, relentlessly, since it became apparent that he was going to be voted Labour Party leader.

And now the screw is being turned on Sherlock.

Whilst criticism of the opening episode of the current season was legitimate to some extent, it’s plain that the Guardian has a major mad on again, and the series is to be ripped to shreds. I refrained from comment two days ago when the buffoon Stuart Heritage wrote a full-length and wrong-headed condemnation of the programme based on what hasn’t yet happened in the final episode, and they’re at it again today demanding that all of television give up including ghosts, with Sherlock as its principal target.

Heritage chooses to describe the programme as ‘gutless’ and professes his personal and projected disappointment at the cliffhanger which, in case you didn’t watch it yourself, consisted of the revelation of the third Holmes sibling as being female and shooting directly at John Watson’s face.

Apparently, the programme can only be tolerated – not appreciated or enjoyed – if Watson is dead. Otherwise, it reveals itself as being permanently contemptible. What can you say? Would it help to mention that the Sherlock Holmes novels, and every last colourable adaptation from them, are about the duo of Holmes and Watson? No, the party-line is in. A cliffhanger has been set up and instead of the hero freeing himself, by one mighty bound or, more likely some ingenious twist (is the pistol actually loaded or is this another element of the psychological game Euros Holmes is playing with her younger brother?), the idiot Heritage puts himself in the stupid position of demanding that the co-star dies.

I mean, it’s a complete misunderstanding of the basis of the series that we expect a complex, implausible escape and the fun is finding out how it was done. Only the Guardian, in its new, get-Sherlock phase would imagine anything different.

But it’s today’s piece of idiocy that makes plain there is an agenda. Gwylim Mumford’s piece is ostensibly an attack on a TV trope, which he describes as cheap and lazy writing, and demands it be banned instantly. The piece quotes other series guilty of this factor, which has been overused to the point of cliche, except on Mr Robot, where it’s apparently fundamental to the series’ success. Hmm.

But no, this is another excuse to slag off Sherlock. The trope in question is having dead characters appear on screen as psychological projections visible only to the audience and to the grieving character to whom they relate. This is Mary Watson turning up and having conversations with John, during which she reminds him several times over that she’s dead and has no more knowledge than he has.

One problem is that Mumford analyses the problem as being that “(w)e all know exactly how the dead person vision will pan out. The dead person appears to the living person to help them work through something monumental. Because the dead person is aware of the deep truth about the living person, they’re almost always an insufferable know-it-all, prone to saying things like “I see you’ve finally figured it out” while lying on a chaise longue reading the newspaper. These people aren’t just dead, they’re dead smug. Then when the living character has finally realised what was causing them such angst, the dead character disappears for good, leaving the living person staring into space and looking confused.” And the apparition of Mary Watson does none of that.

But no, the party-line demands another attack, in case the audience gets a bad case of thinking for itself, and decides it knows its own tastes better.

In a couple of months time, I will have been reading the Guardian for thirty-six years. I started buying it not long after it started publishing Doonesbury every day. I haven’t kept buying the paper this long because of that alone, especially not when it went into daily reprints. But day by day, as the paper betrays every (small l) liberal and social instinct it once had, as it gets rid of good writers because they cost and installs ever more right-wing writers who tell us that Theresa May is the ideal Prime Minister, I re-evaluate that decision, day in, day out.

At the moment, the biggest factor in keeping me buying this excuse for a newspaper is the Cryptic Crossword. Doing it on-line just doesn’t compare. And some of the sports writers are still good.

But crap journalism like this grows ever more prevalent. I wouldn’t mind if it were just a difference of opinion, argued out by someone who doesn’t think he’s a great wit or that his personal opinion is the word of a secular God. I like reading dissenting opinions, testing them against what I believe. But that’s not what I’m getting, and the cost of the paper each day becomes harder to justify to myself.