I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!! (well, some of them are)

Hi loyal readers.  You know who you are.

 

It’s November so that can only mean one thing.  It’s the new series of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, which is an absolute pain to type so I’ll just call it IAC from now on.

IAC, for those who don’t know, is a program hosted by Ant and Dec about a group of celebs who, for whatever reason, have decided to spend a few weeks in the Australian jungle doing all sorts of tasks called Bushtucker Trials.  These trials are quite varied but all have the same goal: to collect stars for food, hence the name.  The more stars the celebs manage to collect the more meals are sent into camp.  So if the camp has 10 members in it the goal would be to collect all 10 stars to ensure there is a bountiful supply of food to go round.  Simple.

Of course the trials aren’t meant to be too easy and although the celebs are never really put at proper risk they’re meant to at least feel under threat.  Think of it as a type of waterboarding without the water, the towel and the CIA operatives wearing balaclava’s.  There’s always a medic on standby called Bob who is there to make sure no creepy crawlies stray into areas they shouldn’t when they’re dropped on to our celebs heads.  There’s, of course, the eating trials where some not-so-nice dishes are placed in front of the chosen celebs who are then ordered to eat them.  These ‘dishes’ could be anything from testicles to eyeballs to live spiders.  It’s a fairly gruesome task.

So IAC is a kind of torture for celebs who, for reasons that are their own, wish to try and ignite their careers by being ridiculed.  It makes for interesting TV and not just for the trials that take place.  When they’re not being force-fed bugs and other nasties, or having bugs dropped on their heads, they’re at camp.  The camp consists of a few hammocks and camp beds placed around a camp fire.  There’s a pool to clean in – which is also used for their washing up – a waterfall, everybody has seen at least one female celeb doing her thing under the cascading water to help bolster her familiarity rating, and a dunny, which is basically just a hole in the ground, that they use as a toilet.  So the celebs aren’t treated especially well when off camera.  One difference between this group, however, and the everyday tourists who venture into the bush, is the help they receive to keep the camp clear of all the really nasty creatures that may wonder in.  Well, it is Australia after all, where it seems most things are out to get you.  Everything harmful like the many poisonous spiders and snakes are cleared out on a constant basis.  It makes the camp a safer place than it would otherwise be, but aside from that they’re pretty much on their own.

So why do these celebs like to take the trip down under to Oz each year for what could be tantamount to torture?  Well for one, the celebs you typically get in the jungle aren’t usually your A-list types with long and successful careers in film.  I doubt you’ll ever see Tom Cruise or Leo DiCaprio collecting stars for the camp by chowing down on a fermented egg or vomit fruit.  So the word ‘celeb’ is often a term that could be said to be rather loosely fitting on most of the contestants.  The show has seen an influx of people that, until the show is aired, were almost non-existent on the celeb-o-meter to most watching.  People such as Scarlett Moffatt, Paul Burrell, Fran Cosgrave, Scott Henshall, Katie Hopkins, Brian Paddick, Joey Essex and Mark Wright, to name but a few are either known to people through one mainline channel of media or totally unknown and mysterious to nearly everyone.  It’s obvious why these people would take the opportunity to grow their brand name: literally millions of people watch this show so it’s a good platform for people to get themselves out into the public eye.  Plus, I should think the fee for appearing on the show is quite handsome.  That said, there have been some fairly big names in the past such as George Takei, Peter Andre, Edwina Curry, Steve Davis, Tinchy Stryder, Chris Ubank, Craig Charles, Larry Lamb and David Guest.  Why someone like George Takei (he was Sulu in the original Star Trek in case you didn’t know) would feel the need to go on the show is totally lost on me, but it gives us all an insight into what these people are really like because as the show goes on so their celeb status, and the mask that goes with it, is slowly removed until all that’s left is the raw person underneath.  It can be quite fascinating to watch these people evolve into someone quite different from what you’d normally see and, indeed, the person you first meet when the show starts.

Of course, going on any show leaves you open to public opinion and when you give that same public some power to decide your fate then you could quite easily find yourself on a one-way ride to misery and oblivion.  Just ask Natalie Appleton, Paul Burrell and Gillian McKeith.  The latter was particularly entertaining, although Paul Burrell comes a close second.  These are the celebs that for some reason just didn’t meld well with the viewing public who took it upon themselves to ensure they were made to do each trial.  Natalie Appleton quit the show after being on the receiving end of the public vote one too many, as did Gillian McKeith who currently holds the record for the most trials at 6.  It turns out, maybe unsurprisingly, that the public like to see these ‘celebs’ in uncomfortable situations, and the more uncomfortable it appears the more they like it.  If you scream a lot, cry or rant about being voted for then you can bet it will happen just about every time.  Horrible lot, aren’t we.

This years show has only just begun but already my money is on Scarlett Moffatt to bear the brunt this time around.  She did well in the group challenge when her and 3 others were locked in a tomb and had 120,000 poured over her, but like hungry predators the public would have seen all too clearly the tears before the trial had even started and the subsequent fits and screams as the Tomb of Terror (who comes up with these names) slowly filled to make their mouths water with excitement and anticipation for the next time around.  I fear the Gogglebox star is in for a particularly tiring time.  There is a way to make the public refocus their attention, however, we’ve seen it before, but it requires poise, guts and a determination to make it dull viewing.  Not many people have managed it but it can be done.  We’ll have to see what happens.

Meanwhile, Ant and Dec again show how easy it is for them to host a show that is broadcast live.  Their effortless banter and improvisations are a joy to behold as they laugh and gently mock those on the jungle floor below them, but one can’t help and wonder how they would both fair if put to the same tests their contestants have to face.  Maybe one day, when they’re not longer the nations favourites we’ll get to find out.  But, for now at least, they can be safe in the knowledge that there is no need for either of them to try and reignite their careers by going on the show proper.  They can continue to enjoy the sufferings of others from their tree-house above the jungle, and we can continue to enjoy it with them.

 

A Divided Bloggers Take On Recent Events

Hi, world.

Wow!  Hands up who thought we’d be seeing Donald Trump stepping into the Oval Office?  Yeah, I see you alone there at the back.

You can put your hand down now.

A little while ago us good people in the UK voted on whether to stay or leave the EU.  It was an important decision, one that would set a precedent for all other member states to learn from.  Not since 1984, when Greenland narrowly voted to leave, has there been such a display of powerful independence and outright stupidity (in this bloggers opinion) by another member.

The referendum was a long time coming with many politicians eager to promote each possible outcome as the absolute best thing for our little island.  And when voting day arrived people flocked to cast their vote completely ignorant of what their vote would actually mean.  We’ve all heard the various surprised and outright shocked responses from people who had voted to leave only to then sit bewildered when the leave vote won.  “I didn’t think my vote would mean anything,” is my personal favorite.  I’m sure you have yours.  So the UK had voted to leave the EU.  Markets stumbled, the pound fell on its arse and everyone was seemingly a little unsure of what it all meant.

But why were people going out to vote without knowing all the facts?  Why weren’t we, as a nation, properly prepared?  Should we be leaving the EU at all?  Not in my opinion, no.  We’re heading into uncharted territory here.  When Greenland decided to leave, the EU was a much different place to how it is now.  Sure, you could say that the vocal talents of the rallying politicians set on us leaving had done their job to sway peoples opinions.  There was more than a few instances where delicate subjects such as immigration, border control and jobs were thrown around, but they were just statements without any real evidence to back them up.  And, as it turns out, what evidence was presented wasn’t entirely true.

It is in this bloggers opinion that the UK was deliberately muddled and confused prior to casting our votes.  The real consequences have yet to be fully realized.  Will there be a change in the way we handle immigration?  Will we monitor and control our borders more tightly?  Will there now be an influx of jobs for our unemployed?  And will our trade deal with America ever get sorted?

That last point brings me to the reason I’ve written this blog.  We are, as a country, completely in love with the US.  We’ve adopted their language; employing Americanisms at every opportunity.  We’ve adopted their food, their cars (the SUV is now the go-to vehicle for anyone with a child), and we swallow their culture wholesale.  Okay, I’ll admit to being guilty of all of those things in some way, but that’s my point.  We don’t have an identity anymore.  We’ve become an amalgamation of many cultures, it just so happens that the US is by far the most dominant one.  If we watch a movie (another Americanism) it’ll most likely be from Hollywood, want to watch something on TV, well the best ones are all from across the pond (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, etc, etc) because it’s a lot cheaper to buy their shows than make our own of the same standard.  Want to have something tasty to eat whilst at the cinema?  See my point?  And then there is the new televised debates our hopeful party leaders partake in to try and boost their chances of election.  Sound familiar?

And that takes us neatly to the US election.  It was everywhere, wasn’t it.  You couldn’t open your eyes without reading something about it, or turn on the TV or radio without hearing about it.  Should we really care about it that much?  There were various articles detailing the confusing and, somewhat entertaining, way their election process is played out.  Twitter was alive with posts about it with everyone from celebs to the candidates themselves trying to sway voters.  It’s been quite a ride.  And then Trump won and the whole world seemingly stood still, mouths agape, unsure of what to do.  But does it really matter that much to us?  Why should it?  We’ll still get their films, their fast food and their TV.  We’ll still have a Top 40 chart full of their artists.  Life will go on as normal.  At least it should in the UK.  Why should we care who their President is?  Did the world stop and stare as David Cameron won a surprising victory?  Did the US news channels fill their pages with what it could mean for their country?  I doubt it very much.

So it seems strange to me that we would vote to leave the EU to reclaim our country’s identity when we’re so happy to have the US infiltrate our lives in so many ways.  I like fast food in all its forms, I like big cars, I like watching all the movies and TV shows that flood across the Atlantic, I like the way they take English and make it more colourful.  I like all of it, but then I didn’t vote to leave the EU.  I didn’t vote to bring back our supposed lost identity, to stand apart from Europe and shout that I’m proud to be British and that we don’t need anyone else to tell us how to live.  I was happy to be a part of the EU.  It felt safe there, it felt normal.  And who are we as a people anyway?  Are we really British anymore, or are we a mixture of what it means to be a part of the human race?

The world has gotten much smaller from when I was a child.  My own children, for example, have never known a world without the internet that makes it possible to reach the entire connected human populace with just a few clicks on a keyboard.  So, to that point, do borders really even exist anymore?  We live in a virtual age, in a world that is fully reachable in so many ways that to have borders at all seems almost like an act of rebellious futility.  But perhaps I’ve been a little dismissive of the older generation here.  It was, after all, them that most likely voted to leave the EU.  You see, they can recall a time when borders meant something; when to be British was to be born and raised here without exception.  I can understand how a changing world so rapidly evolving could frighten and confuse those generations that look around them and fail to recognise the country they grew up in.  But in my opinion that’s what it means to be human.  Not just now because we have the technology to reach across the planet and shake hands with a stranger thousands of miles away, but because that technology now makes it possible to do so.  As a member of the human race we should always have been like that.  Maybe the shaking of hands were done at a far more local level but nevertheless the shaking of hands should have been no less important.  We may not be evolving in any discernible way ourselves but the world around us is and at an astonishing rate.  We as a people need to adapt and accept it for the world is only going to continue to get smaller as technology moves ever forward.

The world is open and accessible and it would be a crime not to reach out and shake those hands.