The Ban

I’ve just been scrolling through the onslaught of comments about Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military. My first thought was primarily: how the hell does what someone has in their trousers impact on their patriotism or desire to serve in the armed forces? Surely anyone who’s willing to go to places where their legs could get blown off is a feat in itself and whether you’re a man, woman or neither, it warrants respect. I saw a comment which of course came from a balding man with a red face that said: ‘it’s a mental illness, good to get rid’. In my opinion knowing full well that you could die in a war over oil or a religion you don’t believe in or have any stake in is the red flag, not someone wanting to be who they are. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for those who serve in the military both in the UK and elsewhere; with family members serving in the RAF but the thought of it to me, is something I just don’t understand and probably never will – unless of course, I’m conscripted or something. It’s an equation I can’t work out which is ironic as I’m not very good at maths anyway. So, anyone who stands up and proclaims a love for their country so strongly that they’re willing to possibly die for it is deserved of our admiration not persecution.

There’s the argument that medical treatment is costly on the military which surely, coming from the US government is entirely hypocritical considering how badly they failed soldiers in the past by getting them addicted to morphine. That’s another argument entirely but isn’t the whole point of America that it’s an idealistic nation founded on egalitarianism and liberty to do what you want and be who you are? Or I could just be missing the point of ‘land of the free’ entirely.

This whole announcement and reactions to it – which themselves are a real kick in the teeth for anyone with any faith left in humanity – really stirs up the larger question to why everyone is so concerned with what other people do and who other people are. Why are we, as human beings seemingly constantly outraged about people who are different or do things differently to the rest, especially when these people are doing nothing to encroach upon anyone else’s way of life? It’s not a typical conservative issue as seen here in the UK with Scottish Conservatives being openly gay and advocate for all LGBTQ+ rights so I can’t work out what it is. In all fairness to those hoping to pray the gay away from their kids or co-workers, the hot and heavy change of the 21st Century of people no longer being afraid to say might be daunting.

I was in a play in sixth form about transitioning called Pronoun by Evan Placey. There’s a great line that says that the idea of being tolerant is bullshit as to tolerate is something you do when ‘people’s music plays too loudly on the bus’. It’s true, we live currently in an emerging tolerance culture where we are coming out of the era of shame and repression. We’re not at normalising yet apparently because of the amount of unsubstantiated hate I’ve seen in comment sections alone today. It was Frank Underwood in House of Cards who said ‘you can’t get from a no to a yes without a maybe in between’ and as simplistic as it sounds we’re into ‘maybe’ as a global society regarding equal rights for everyone considering how progressive some nations are and how backwards others are – looking at you, Chechnya.

Personally, I think that everyone cares far too much about who or what people are. I honestly couldn’t care if someone was transgender or cisgender or straight or gay or anywhere on the Kinsey Scale. It was in Batman Begins that Rachel said to Bruce: ‘it’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you’. People in general need to take that on board a lot and stop caring about things that will never actually affect their day-to-day lives. I’ve quoted a lot in this but it really goes to show the sorry fucking state of it all when fiction makes more logical sense than our reality featuring Donald Trump.

The Ban

Beyoncé Culture

I saw something that offended me terribly on Facebook the other night. It was that someone who I knew and someone who I cared about for a time just updated their status to being in a relationship. Reading this it definitely sounds like a personal admission of jealousy, yet honestly, it isn’t. This is an expression of sheer disappointment. Why is it, in my generation is everyone searching for ‘the one’ already? I mean, come on, people! It’s almost as if it’s a backwards step with everyone devolving into penguins trying to find life partners to keep our eggs warm than be the natural mammalian predators that we all are and do whatever and whoever we want for as long as possible. The problem isn’t a gender specific thing, I know plenty of men and women, and variations thereof, who I hear constantly whining about lack of a girlfriend or boyfriend. I for one, blame Beyoncé.

Everyone out there seems so hard to ‘put a ring on it’, and the young and free of the 21st Century are becoming far more traditional. I saw a study recently (don’t quote me on this, I saw it on Facebook) that said that this generation is having sex for the first time later and later than ever before. I’m seeing more and more documentaries pop-up akin to the sadly more and more common place 40-Year-Old Virgin. Strangely in the era of super-STDs, we also seem to be having an epidemic of sexual repression contrary to what the masses may think about young people – students in particular.

It could be that I generally associate with the particularly socially inept sect of my course, but I’d say most have never had a relationship yet alone slept with anyone. It’s a win for every worried parent about their child at university as well as a win for a budding comedy writer. Yet I’m worried about the personal development for these people and if they are to be a microcosm for young people in the UK in general, the future as well. Everyone’s living life in a strange sexless Hollyoaks storyline where those who embrace sexuality are often ostracised and relationships and romantic politics is the key to a happy life. Fuck that.

Unconsciously, we have, on the majority, waved goodbye to the free-loving of the sixties to usher in this new era of accidental repression. People are replacing human contact with more and more porn and body-pillows with anime girls on them, while simultaneously slagging off whatever sex won’t notice them sexually. On the other end of the spectrum we have the serial lady-killers and man-eaters who are frowned upon by nearly everyone so much so, that these people form packs that you can see a mile off. Even now, these people are pairing up like seahorses, something personified in total by the reality-TV train wreck, Love Island.

A prime example is being told by someone that they have commitment issues, only a week later being told that they love you. Obviously because I’m the idiot this happened to me and I had no idea what to say other than: ‘oh, that’s nice?’. I’ve never known a worse turn-off but apparently it works for others as the very same person just updated their Facebook relationship status. When did things become so unnecessarily complicated and all about commitment and feelings? The answer is August, 2009, the date ‘Single Ladies’ was released and infected the world with expectations of the instant gratification of saying yes to the purgatory of premature, long-term emotional and physical commitment.  Fuck you, Beyoncé, and your damn catchy song.

Beyoncé Culture

Humanity Market

I realised today after handing out my resumes with an unusual cheery demeanour that in a sense, no matter what job you are in or even if you are unemployed, we are all sales people.  Whether we are good or bad we are all individually pushing a product whether it be overpriced cinema tickets or ourselves to another human being – who perhaps, are selling that they are disinterested in what we have to say. Even the classic phrase ‘I’m not buying what you’re selling’ encapsulates everything about human life right now: whether we buy or sell.

Politicians are the perfect example of sales people in their human disguises to hide their true lizard appearance. Obviously besides that, they sell ideas and policies and speeches on a global scale making them perhaps the next evolution of your humble letting agent turd. Even Alex Jones of InfoWars is trying to sell you reality whatever the fuck it may be coming from him and I still can’t work out if he’s real or just a character like Keith Lemon or Borat. For example, earlier this year we had Theresa May selling the line – God knows why – ‘strong and stable’, a product which fell flat on its face and the people who sold it to her were promptly fired. So as Palpatine from Star Wars put it, ‘ironic’. Jeremy Corbyn isn’t doing too badly, only recently selling pints along with policies and socialist soundbites at Glastonbury.

The terrible, yet actually at times useful, Tinder is an example of people selling themselves en masse to other people for either the classic ‘good time not a long time’ or ‘something long term and serious’. Those four or five photos, description and a favourite song has led to perhaps the greatest open human market ever. It’s an actual manifestation of a clear late-stage capitalist society that we live in where literally even romance revolves around the act of selling and buying.

Maybe it’s not a totally recent thing and maybe as human beings we are all fundamentally buyers and sellers whether we choose to be or not. I’m out selling myself to potential employers for a job while perhaps a thousand years ago a nomad would sell themselves similarly to a chieftain to be a part of the tribe. Which by the way, is an excellent analogy that can be applied to anything like trying to convince the popular kids at school that you’re cool enough to sit with them.

So in conclusion, we are all prostitutes. Literally every time we open our mouths to tell an anecdote we are selling someone on that story for payment in respect, belief or anything. While there’s a taboo about being a sex worker and constant debate on whether or not it should be legal, the point, when you really think about it, is moot considering none of us are any different fundamentally. Whether you be an Evangelical priest or a nightclub owner we are all selling something and ourselves. No one is clean or exceptional in this massive thriving orgy we call human society. Just check out Tinder and see for yourself.

Humanity Market

Eye of the Beholder

The problem recently with movies is that I can’t ever work out who the villain is in things. The idea of a sympathetic villain has been around since the medieval morality plays like Macbeth and Dr Faustus, but they’ve really come into a life of their own in modern cinema. In the past, we always knew who the villains were in movies whether it be Nazis or something to do with communism. Hell, even fucking super-villains in comic books were colour coordinated being dressed in only secondary colours. It’s as if the fiction has come full circle again from those every-man plays of the dark ages to Injustice: Gods Among Us. Maybe writers on whatever medium are rediscovering that heroes and villains don’t actually exist.

It’s a reinforcement of the whole idea that I keep banging on about – reinforced by my day of binge-watching Netflix – that evil and good is defined in the consequence not the actions themselves. This thought has been evolving in my head and on this blog for a while now and its reflected in the actions of people all around us as well as the ones we see fighting alien armies at the cinema. It’s all about points of view and perspective because strangely even if everyone is telling a person that they are in the wrong based on the consequences of their actions, delusion happens to be a thick defensive line.

So, I was looking through Facebook’s trending section and read about, and the reactions to, Ivanka Trump’s G20 outing. Now what business does the un-elected have to represent the electorate on quite literally the global stage? Some attacked the decision while others defended it with lines literally like ‘Obama did worse’. Personally, I thought it was a dud move and I felt a bit embarrassed for her just looking at the pictures of her awkwardly sat there. It’s similar  to the incident with Buzz Aldrin pulling faces at President Trump’s speech about space; some said it showed the ridiculousness of the president’s position while others said that the former astronaut has horrendous facial twitches. Neither can be confirmed and both hinge on the eye of the beholder. While these examples aren’t about the relationship between good and evil but the point of what can be said on a simplistic level as what makes a good decision or a bad one.

It’s like The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish by Alexander Pushkin, recently made popular again thanks to its morals in a recent episode of Doctor Who. To summarise, the fisherman wishes a number of things from a magic fish who is bargaining for its life. The fish misunderstands the fisherman because it doesn’t perceive things the way that he does and brings ruin on the fisherman in the name of doing good. By the end, the fisherman asks for things to be returned to how they were before wishing never to have met the creature. On one note you can see it as ‘be careful what you wish for’ kind-of story but I see it as a story about perspective and that everyone who takes action on anything believes what they are doing is in the right, despite it being inherently wrong based on the evident conclusion.

Admittedly that was really convoluted and mostly mental masturbation but there’s a point in there somewhere. I doubt people who fight for IS do it thinking that they’re scum for doing what they do likewise to serial killers who often belief themselves on a righteous quest like a twisted fucking Zelda level. Convictions, whatever they are drive us and sometimes the outcome is good and others it’s just shit. There comes a point where I don’t feel sorry at all for those deluded idiots and I just get so incredibly bored. Like I said to a friend just the other day, when the reality of the consequences finally hit home, it’ll fuck them harder than Ron Jeremy.

Maybe that’s why. People are so scared of just waking up from a dreamland made of conviction. It’s time to scrap all the slogans like ‘strong and stable’, ‘make America great again’ and god-damn ‘eat fresh’. We all just need to stick to the one: wake up and smell the fucking coffee.

Eye of the Beholder

Venice, LA

The idea of living in Venice, LA, is becoming more and more attractive to me. Obviously, it’s another pipe dream like working in Hong Kong or being able to exist on a diet of mozzarella and deli meats and simultaneously have the body of any of the pricks on Love Island. It’s the perfect place for me to exist in my desired style of Hawaiian shirts and tan pants in a socially and environmentally acceptable setting. Northern England is a bit of a stickler for lack of sunshine. Plus, there’s always more choice on Netflix in the US.

Grass is always greener somewhere else and I’m sure I’ll still end up doing the same things that make the patch of turf appear greyish. Perhaps that’s similar for other people who have chosen to move to be ‘happier’ but end up the same. No matter where you go you’ll always be somewhat greyish not because of the place or its faults but your own. I for one could be in that California sun still playing Stellaris on my laptop for literal days on end, existing on noodles and take-out. Change of scenery never makes a person happier, a change of self does the trick.

Fuck that, right? I could have as much money as Bill Gates and still be sat on a yacht in an Ibiza bay playing Stellaris by myself being served the fucking noodles. Which is my right, being a product of years of personal development from being that toddler who ate everything to now. It’s everyone’s right to choose to do what they want to do all day every day. A life coach is just a superficial title for someone who’s judgemental and wants to change the world to their image. I’m not saying to those people who are life coaches that they should quit their jobs and learn to accept people for who they are because like I say, it’s your right to do whatever the hell you want to do. I couldn’t do it; most of the time I’d probably be rolling my eyes at the client for the nonsense being thrown at me, and the expectation that I have the secret knowledge to remedy it all.

Knowing full well that moving to Venice, LA, will perhaps not improve my state of mind or ability to eat as much deli meat as I want to, I still want to do it. Unfortunately, being strapped for cash as well as having my grandfather’s disapproving voice in my head has killed many a dream. Yet here I am, at the conclusion that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, the grass will always be greener in your own head but fuck it, it doesn’t hurt to see anyway. It’s time for us all to listen to that Nike advert for once and ‘just do it’, but just don’t expect the different sky to give us a totally different outlook.

Venice, LA

Death’s Digital Name

I had a nightmare about space, which is a first for me considering the usual bad dream consists of the woman I care for being roundly fucked while my grandfather scolds me for a bad school report. This cosmic odyssey  seemingly tried to tell me that no matter how much space we have to move and get away from each other, we’ll always feel choked. A strange notion considering that humans are supposedly herd creatures but now after feeling something that livid, it makes me wonder that perhaps we are inherently solitary.

In my life right now, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so quite literally alone yet contrastingly I’ve never felt so trapped within a fish bowl of what I can only understand to be my own creation. Perhaps this is a common feeling amongst the modern, 21st Century human being as we are all trapped within our own well documented lives available at the click of a mouse. Long gone are the days where we can move away to a new place and start anew because whether it be a horrific photo of us that our mothers post on fucking Facebook or incredible debt, something is always following us around. Is that a new notion or one as old as the universe itself and the grim reaper just does business under a different, digital name?

Of course, it’s an entirely hyperbolic thought but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking a piece of me dies every time I go onto Twitter. Perhaps Perry Como’s ‘Killing Me Softly’ is more relevant in the Digital Era than we ever thought it could be while we swim around our own little goldfish bowls. It’s a cliché to say, yet it’s true: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result and if that doesn’t surmise human life, I don’t know what will. Like literal goldfish swimming around the bowl, repeating the same three seconds over and over expecting to find some new patch to make our own.

If we all hop into our dream convertible and drive into the sunset we would all find a place where no one would know our name. Yet the dream of true freedom would collapse entirely as soon as we access an ATM or that someone finds internet connection and discovers that you’re a former checkout assistant from Whittlesey. Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of a connected human kind destroys the idea of individualism and the freedom to be individualistic in a way that has forced us all into a mass hysteria, exploding in our pants at the thought of the new iPhone. Most employers in 2017 use social media to check out potential employees and fire current ones because their definition of humour differs – hooray for civil liberties.

Perhaps the most hopeful ending to any film I’ve ever seen is that of The Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne is able to erase himself and Selina Kyle from everything using a ‘clean slate’ device. Even within the film, the writers note that the idea is ludicrous and the world today is far too small to truly start a new life, whatever the fuck that may entail. Yet it’s a thought that while wholly fanciful is perhaps the underlying dream ending for us all whether we be that mysterious stranger or a former checkout assistant. This is exactly why the final frontier is so attractive: it’s mysterious and endless and just out of reach so some arsehole somewhere hasn’t ruined it yet.

Death’s Digital Name

Managed Shit

The dichotomy between good and evil doesn’t exist in a sense that there is no good and evil. There’s only consequences and perspective. From an abuser’s perspective, nothing wrong is happening and they need to take the actions they take to improve the lives of people around them. From the outsider’s perspective, an arsehole is taking his anger out on his girlfriend. With something like that, is inaction as dangerous as action? Getting involved could escalate the situation to Hollyoaks heights but not getting involved could do the exact same thing.

I was dredging through the comments of a Vice news article on Syria and it occurred to me that’s the same situation the world is in. Obviously, we did get involved and for a while it did very much escalate but now it looks like with IS routed, it’s getting better? If not better just more manageable. Is that what we strive for? Simply having shit managed rather than cured or resolved is, when you think about it, how we all deal with problems. A prime of example of this is fascism. While we thought Nazi ideals were crushed with Hitler’s Germany, the KKK is in 2017 touring around America like an angry, cancerous boy band.  It’s managed like the mental neighbourhood dog held back on a chain – don’t look at it, it’ll only bark louder. We can’t put it down as they’d always be debate on whether or not it’s humane and we can’t get rid of it as no one will admit to owning it.

Looking at it in a different way, we have food allergies which are the bane of my existence. I for one, love salted peanuts but unfortunately anaphylactic shock is an incredible piece of shit. We manage things like that by avoiding the foods we can’t eat for the sake of our gastro-intestinal tract rather than actively seek treatment. I heard about a very small test somewhere to cure food allergies by feeding sufferers tiny amounts of it to create immunity yet isn’t that in itself, extended management? Training our bodies to manage?

It’s a mental minefield that means all job titles should come with the ‘manager’ prefix. I was on a train the other week and a fight broke out between two passengers at Doncaster. One was drunk and the other had issues – neither managed the situation or themselves particularly well and everything went to shit very quickly. The drunk man went down a single punch and as he fell, decided to use my leg that poked slightly into the aisle as a ledge for support. The bruise has gone now.

However we manage the shit will have to do. The constant responsibility of managing the world around us in our best capacity is unknowingly fucking soul crushing. When the day of the apocalypse comes it’ll be because some turd somewhere shirked that responsibility to manage their reality. In the end, our management tactics, our choices, make us and the world around us whether we’re a drunk man on a train or an arsehole is taking his anger out on his girlfriend.

 

Managed Shit