The Only Positive? A Whole Generation Has Become Enarmoured With Politics

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There was a time during the 1980s where stand-up comedy, thanks to the hedonistic hellraising of Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, became the new rock ‘n’ roll. It had happened before with American luminaries like Bob Hope, but this time it was different – younger people, a new generation, were filling stadiums to not watch a five-piece band rattle the room, but to hear the barbs and blasts of one man, standing alone on an arena stage but demanding the attention of thousands.

In 2017, there has been something of a similar resurgence, although the proceedings, and the eventual outcome, proved to be no laughing matter. It was a Tuesday evening in Birmingham, a traditional English summer evening mired by moody weather and threatening speckles of rain. To an ignorant passer-by, the bulging crowd – made up of staunch, old-fashioned socialists and young, passionate and fiery faithfuls – were assembled for a shoegaze concert. However, instead they were here to heed the words of the general election’s good guy, the belittled battler Jeremy Corbyn, who had amassed the populist zeal like any indie outfit.

When Theresa May had announced the general election, it was supposed to be a victory lap. It was meant to be May and the Conservatives strengthening their stronghold on the country, like a creeping vine ready to finally take hold of the first floor. In short, it was meant to be easy. The die had been cast and the plans had been set, but one thing the Conservative party failed to realise was that May, unlike their predecessor David Cameron, lacked the articulation and natural ability to talk and debate with fire and skill. In short, she could barely speak – even her victory speech felt fumbled and stilted, like a radio intern being forced to step in front of the mic for a drivetime show.

May’s decision ended up akin to the late Jade Goody’s decision to return to Big Brother – what was supposed to be a simple ascension became a blemish that would curtail their career. May’s steadfast refusal to debate Corbyn and her violent switches in decision-making left the Tories’ campaign in ruins.

But enough about the Tory party. The outcome has proved to be disappointing and incredibly divisive, even dangerous. What positives can that passionate crowd from Birmingham take from the outcome? There isn’t much as of yet. But is a generation engaged and enamored with politics a minor victory?

Social media proved to be one of Corbyn’s greatest collaborations, whether he was aware of it or not. He tapped into a generation adept with Snapchat and Instagram, his policies chiming with people naturally concerned with the great gulf between themselves and the Conservative party’s archaic, inclusive beliefs and disgustingly archaic desires of fox killing, NHS privatization and dementia tax. Not only that, but the Labour party had found a leader with the charisma and steadfast beliefs of Tony Blair. But this was different from Cool Britannia – instead of Noel Gallagher chumming it up at Downing Street, Corbyn was keen to connect with even the most disillusioned of voters, becoming an honorary member of Boy Better Know.

What’s more, Corbyn no doubt left the Tory party and their carefully stitched together PR in tatters – their verbal grenades, focused on Corbyn’s IRA ‘past’ and polemic personality, failed to detonate once the public finally got to see Corbyn exposed – here was a speaker that had the confidence and devotion to his manifesto, an unwavering belief in the younger generation that, in turn, took him to their hearts like the scruffy grandfather of a long-lost CBBC sitcom. The Tory party had invested heavily in May but found themselves floundering when it became apparent her delivery was wooden and her promises flimsy, while even Corbyn’s fiercest detractors were surprised by his fire, zest and ability to connect.

After the results poured in, there was only one political candidate who should stand down. Corbyn had done his party proud, he had made a kinship that Ed Milliband tried and failed to do, and dragged Labour back into the limelight after taking damaging hits during the mid-noughties (like a political R.E.M.). May’s chief anecdote was a bizarre quip about running through wheat, while Corbyn was able to negotiate lighter questions with the right amount of gravitas.

The number of young voters that headed to the polls was the biggest in 25 years, and throughout the campaign there has been hunger, passion and desire from a generation wrongly riled and pilloried as uninterested, uninformed and flinty in their beliefs. With an outcome that’s damaging, disappointing and even dangerous, we have to take the positives. A young generation thirsty for change and passionate about politics is a silver lining that needs to stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theresa May announces The Magic Gang and The Night Café as UK tour supports

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Theresa May’s upcoming UK tour, Straight Outta Brexit, is set to be one of the highest-grossing indie sensations since Two Door Cinema Club and Sundara Karma linked up earlier in 2017 (if you weren’t there, you missed history). But May was not willing to be outdone – in order to align indie kids to her Thatcher-esque pomp, she’s announced that The Magic Gang and The Night Café, two bands synonymous with support slots, will join her on the road.

May’s tour will cover the length and breadth of the UK and is rumoured to include a number of post-gig DJ sets. Recently, she discussed her favourite bands and admitted that Blossoms, Circa Waves and the new Kasabian were all under her rotation, while she also expressed an admiration of Sleaford Mods, even though she “didn’t really understand it.”

Of the tour, the two support bands’ representative and promoter Ronny Leaves said: “We make it our mission for both The Magic Gang and The Night Café to be constantly on the road, preferably in some kind of support slot. We’re not too picky about the acts we choose, so when Theresa rang and said she’d heard both bands enjoyed bulking up a bill, we were more than happy to get them out there.”

May is currently working on her debut solo album, with Mark Ronson behind the producer’s chair.

 

 

Love, Friends and Grunge – The Legacy of ‘Singles’ As It Turns 25

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It contained a who’s who of grunge artists in its soundtrack (as well as new compositions from an outright alternative rock legend). It showcased a generation in a realistically confused way. It inspired the television behemoth Friends. Despite all of these plus points, the movie Singles hasn’t quite carried the legacy it deserves. This year, its snapshot of 1990s, Generation X-strewn America will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, and it is high time it deserved some renewed praise.

Singles served as a product of its time, but it is what has come after that has made its legacy more appealing. The film was written and directed by Cameron Crowe, who would later go on to cement his place in the Hollywood pantheon with Jerry Maguire and Vanilla Sky (both starring Tom Cruise, no less). It featured a cameo from another directorial titan, Tim Burton, whose legacy thereafter needs no introduction. It helped propel the careers of Matt Dillon and Bridget Fonda. These factors help give Singles more of an assured place within the celluloid world, but even when assessed on its own merits, Singles is much more than a time capsule.

In fact, take Singles‘ plot and position it into another era and there would be proof that the backdrop isn’t a case of turd polishing. Granted, the flannel shirts, the appearances from Pearl Jam and a reliance on garage door opening buttons would need to be written out among the meme-drenched, Buzzfeed countdowns of the ’10s, but the awkward push and pull of a new relationship, the aloof and cocksure man, the women trying to fit in and accept themselves for who they are – all of these traits still, sadly, play out in the present day. Only the music has changed…somewhat.

Romantic comedies can be an awkward beast to tame – rely too heavily on the romance and you end up with a story as slushy as Gerard Butler’s ski boots. On the flip side, rely too much on the comedy and you wonder why the couple are even together in the first place. For Singles, Crowe manages to provide a realistic and relatable series of situations for twentysomethings, without it ever falling into sentimentality or shoehorned wisecracks. It is also refreshingly delivered in a bitesized, episodic format, taking us from couple to couple, problem to problem, and allowing each story to breathe.

The trailers tell you that one of the key couples is Janet (Fonda) and Cliff (Dillon), and from the offset they are all wrong for one another. Janet is struggling as a coffee shop barista (as an unsurprising sidenote, the movie is also set in Seattle) while Cliff’s grunge band Citizen Dick are struggling to crack the country. In truth, though, the most appealing story that plays out is the one between Linda (Kyra Sedgwick) and Steve (Campbell Scott). Both have the bruised melancholy of a string of failed relationships (some played out on camera, some not), both are beginning to feel the turbulent impact of adulthood and are thrown together in an endearing fashion.

Their romance is allowed to play out in a subtle but convincing way, but crushingly one of the most realistic facets is the doubt that begins to creep into Steve’s mind. To call or not to call. To come on strong or remain taciturn. All of those worries have lingered in our conscious at some point, but here it isn’t hackneyed or predictable – the scene in which Steve’s friends begin issuing predictably awful advice about dominance and playing it cool has no doubt been played out in millions of living rooms and bars.

We get to follow these young couples throughout this process, and while there are no real revelations that occur, this helps with the relatability. These are young and confused people with nothing in their fridges, tonnes of records from when they were college DJs and the only real friends they have are the ones that have moved in across the hall. Jobs are lost, accidents happen, people move away, people come back – it’s not just a postcard of an era, but of real life.

The brilliance of Singles is its relationship, not reliance on, with the world around it. Seattle’s earthy, grunge-fuelled scenery plays out like a flannel-flecked polaroid, while Steve and Linda actually meet at an Alice in Chains concert.

Which brings us to the soundtrack. The Smashing Pumpkins, not quite yet the globe-gobbling rock stars they would become, recorded a track, but the real highlights come in the form of former Replacements stalwart Paul Westerberg. ‘Dyslexic Heart’ is a fittingly sweet, brittle jangle that uses his weary timbre to winning perfection, while ‘Waiting for Somebody’ has a lamentable, breezy guitar crunch that’s urgent and elegiac in equal measure. Further props are awarded for the soundtrack including the twinkling motifs of R.E.M.’s ‘Radio Song’, the irrepressible riff of The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ and, of course, a smattering of Pearl Jam classics.

In terms of Generation X movies, Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites may be one of the first films that springs to mind, but while Singles arrived a lot sooner, it pips the former in terms of a sparkling script, likeable, relatable characters, and a setting that’s pivotal without being dependent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gilmore Girls – A Nostalgic Liar or a Compelling Comeback?

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Revivals are a funny thing. One on hand, if a show has been mothballed long enough – and, perhaps more importantly, enjoyed an alarmingly devoted fanbase both during and after its run – then it will automatically be greeted and received with feverish enthusiasm. We will gawk at how that character is now bald and slightly more rotund around the middle. We’ll gawp at how the lead character hasn’t changed one iota, sans for a more nimble nose. We will find the same feelings of sympathy and satisfaction we had when we watched it in our salad days.

That’s all a given. Even a franchise as fraternised as American Pie flushed us with feelings of love and awe when they released their reunion movie. One could even argue (though would probably be forced to leave the room or, fittingly, hide in a toilet cubicle sucking one’s thumb) that Dumb and Dumber To, for all its lack of progression and ‘90s anachronism of a script, gave the audience, for the first fifteen minutes at least, a sugar rush of delight that characters we align so close to halcyon happiness were back frolicking on screen.

But let’s nip this in bud – nostalgia is a pretty liar. You know it, I know it and the makers of these products bloody well know it. It’s the girl you used to have sex with back in sixth form, the one that gave you the thrill and thrust your ex-wife never could. You’re naturally going to be glad to see them when you bump into them at that local bar. It’s the boy who gave you your first dance before jetting off to spend his father’s trust fund, leaving you to ponder what might have been. Nostalgia injects us with a giddy sense of wistful wonder and joy, but when the drug wears off, all these things must be judged on the ‘now’ and not the ‘then’.

The latest fodder to be thrown into the comeback canon was Gilmore Girls. It may have added the extra A Year in the Life, to propose feelings of freshness as opposed to a mere ‘Kirk is back and being goofy’ session, but all in all it was hard to ignore that warm feeling of homeliness that spewed forth. When Rory and Lorelai, the quick-witted, coffee-quaffing duo that demonstrated a solid independence and intelligence that was so endearing, walked together in snowy Stars Hallow, it was like someone had lit a Yankee candle in a room silenced by darkness. All of a sudden, that homely, heartfelt pang rushed through your body and the world felt alright again.

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And as the show has gone through the different seasons, it has certainly been a hoot to see what the characters have been up to. Lest we forget, Gilmore Girls was as much about the town as the Gilmores themselves, a goldfish bowl that always teetered on the right side of Blue Velvet-esque distortion. It was a thrill to find Kirk was still as loveably eccentric as ever (his Oober racket just about worked without being too annoying), it was great to see Digger Styles, seemingly unchanged, drag up his off-centre banter at a funeral, and Babette and Morey were still a queasily approachable couple who you never knew where the line was towed.

However, once dust of nostalgic delight had been swept away, judging A Year in the Life on its merits reveals some flaws that you just wish would go the way of Taylor’s septic tanks. The main issue is the characterisation of Rory. Of course, the whole idea of nostalgia is that we want our characters to have been frozen in amber – we wanted Paul Finch on American Pie to be the same snobby intellectual he was at school. We wanted Mulder and Scully to share the same detached, wry outlook on their work. And, with Gilmore Girls, we wanted Rory to be the same sprightly, sympathetic girl she was in the show’s salad days.

That’s where the danger of nostalgia comes in – Rory has changed and grown up, which is obviously good; too much of the mild, inquisitive teenager of old might have not worked on a 32-year-old woman. However, at the same time, the Rory many viewers envisioned as a grown-up probably didn’t coagulate correctly onscreen. In this revival, Rory seems deflated, downbeat and, in some cases, even arrogant – there was always a defiance and determination within the youngest Gilmore, which is what made her character so endearing and influential. Here, though, it seems wrapped up in self-satisfaction – she shrugs off a website chasing her signature and, when she finally realises she could do with a steady income, decides in an “it’s a living” lurch that it’s the job for her. But it gets worse – she botches the interview after doing zero research or planning, and seems aggrieved when the CEO, however annoying she may be, isn’t won over. For the first time watching Rory, I wasn’t rooting for her.

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Maybe that’s the point? That we needed to see Rory experience a downfall or two (in the second episode, ‘Spring’, a lot of her walls come crashing down) in order to show the brutal realism of adult life. But it would be more compelling if it was Rory questioning the karmic alignments of life (why is the girl who did everything right being given such a raw deal?), but in actuality it’s of her own doing – her faith in a sketchy feminist drunkard is slightly blind, as is her seemingly unshakeable faith that her portfolio alone will secure her work on a whim.

This is before we’ve explored the deeper issues. A particularly frustrating scene, and one that is thrown away as a comedic sidebar, is when Rory tells Lorelai she had a one-night stand with someone dressed as a Wookie. It’s brushed under the carpet using the standard Gilmore banter boilerplate, but is this what Rory has become? There’s nothing wrong with the odd dalliance in the bedroom, of course, and this is the modern world. She’s a modern journalist. But this is the girl who, at the tender age of 16, couldn’t tell Dean she loved him because she wasn’t sure she meant it. While she admits it was out-of-character, it feels way too dissimilar to Rory to ring true – no matter how tanked Rory gets, the idea of a girl so aligned to responsibility knocking boots with a Trekkie just feels a mighty stretch.

Then you get to the other men in her life. The idea of one of her three suitors occupying a romantic position feels right – otherwise it would just be a trio of shoehorned cameos that linger on past love (i.e. Jess). And it makes begrudging sense that it would be Logan, the man who was born into money and thus can offer Rory a plush pad. But in Rory’s role as ‘the other woman’, a role she seems to happily accept, is that destroying her character further? The old Rory surely wouldn’t be satisfied in being a dirty secret, someone who can watch on happily as a man cheats on his fiancée? Her conscience wouldn’t allow it. And yet here she uses Logan as a pillow as well as a sex-chum, and doesn’t really seem to care that he’s hitched. Sure, she slept with Dean when he was married, but there was a beautiful naivety to her first time. Here it just feels like pointless fucking.

Rory’s story arc rings the least true, simply because it feels like it has too much of an agenda – Rory is built up and knocked down, her previous innocence tarnished in a sea of freelance jobs (surely no journalist these days can afford to fly from London to the USA so frequently?), pointless trysts and an unplanned pregnancy. Gilmore Girls was a delightful reunion that tugged at the heartstrings and gave us the same sense of comfort it did before, but like all things comforting, it can be bad for you in the long run.

 

Government Installs Ban On Bands Ending In Honey 

Ever since Brexit bore a contemptible crevice into our culture, we have been waiting anxiously as to see what the Conservatives, and principally their long-haired General Theresa May, would do first. 

Would she align with Donald Trump and start leaking Hilary’s MySpace bulletins? Would she remove the teeth of every child in Asia? Or would she kick Scotland out like a moody 18-year-old? Well, she’s finally committed her first action…and it’s not pretty.

In the indie world, where creativity – a fierce foe of May – reigns supreme, future bands have been dealt a cruel blow after an act was approved yesterday banning any more bands forming with the word ‘Honey’ in the title. 

May, an ardent Death Grips fan, said: “We are endanger of there being an unwanted surplus of bands called Honey – now I’m quite partial to Black Honey, as I feel it promotes equality, but since then we’ve had Pale, Palm and Breakneck…we just feel there are too many honeys and not enough bees; there are other condiments to consider.”

It’s a devastating blow to fledgling musician Tez Randley, who’s just enlisted a Facebook page for his band, Ghost Honey Beach Wave. “We felt the Honey suffix was very important, not just to our music but also to our aesthetic,” he said. “But now this law has been passed I guess we’re going to have to think of something else – there were still so many avenues to explore with honey. It’s a blow.”

Open Day Attendees Outraged At Lack of Lambeth

It had become almost Orwellian; like a blonde Big Brother, his figure was omnipresent. Whether it be a quick cruise on a bus or a segue into the cinema, dozens of Midlanders have been exposed to the now-infamous Open Day poster, featuring Digbeth socialite* Sam Lambeth.

Using Lambeth as the cover star was a controversial move, but after such relentless campaigning, Burlingham Kitty University received record numbers for their Open Day, with a feverish slew of indie kids stampeding the campus, Curzon havoc and singing Blur to the Parkside Building.

However, the enthusiasm soon spiraled into salacious rage when the hoards of teens realized that, despite the posters, Lambeth himself wasn’t actually at the Open Day. Many had travelled from as far as Solihull to meet the out-of-work blogger and were less than happy about being misled. 

“I considered studying English here, but I wasn’t sure if I’d get enough info and exposure to the sesh,” said attendee Rachael Worstforest. “When I saw Lambeth was on the poster, I thought the Open Day would be a great chance to talk to him about the things students really need to know – dank memes, Winona Ryder, reviewing every local band and rocking curtains. I feel this poster was flagrant false advertising – my goodie bag didn’t even contain a Quinn CD.”

Lambeth himself has felt the pressure, and has admitted the posters have “ruined” his career. “I always knew this day would come, where the mistakes of my past would be uncovered for the unforgiving glint of the public eye,” he sighed. “I just wanted to be known for my music; this was a sordid part of my past that’s now ruined my career. Worst of all, I can’t even catch the bus; what a waste of a travelcard.”

So far, the death count stands at 0.

* – socialite: unemployed but has enough money to be seen at parties. 

Van McCann Admits To Never Shagging Anyone’s Sister 

Catfish & the Bottlemen have earned themselves a slew of scarily fervent fans, all enarmoured by their unique brand of bolshy bluster and gritty narratives. 

One of Van McCann’s favourite topics is sex, and since the band first rose to prominence he has regaled various magazines with tales of sibling satisfaction. “You meet a girl, try it on with her, then when it doesn’t work you go and meet her sister,” he said. Such sultry tales have resulted in their audiences consisting of mainly family members, with the female quotient all hoping for a slice of sexy time with the tousle-haired tyrant. 

However, in a shockingly sobering interview with Richpork, McCann dropped a bombshell big enough to blow their entire balcony. “I’m an imposter,” he cried into his turtleneck. “I haven’t actually shagged anyone’s sister; it was just a ploy, a technique. A style of writing. In fact, anyone I’ve ever had humpy fun with has been an only child. I wouldn’t rule out getting down with someone’s sister in the future, but for now I’m focusing on smaller families.”

Such a revelation has caused roars of regret from his salacious followers. “We’ve been coming to see Catfish ever since he started saying the word lids,” said Bonnie Throttle, who’s been going to gigs with her sister Nelly. “But now we know he’s never actually used a girl to get to her sister, we don’t feel their music speaks to us anymore.”