Posts Tagged ‘More4’

The Virgin Daughters

September 30, 2008

Brought to you by Tales from an Empty Room

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To the outsider, teenage American girls appear to be split into two camps. Half of them are starring in Spring Break and videos getting gang-banged by drunk teenage boys. The other half are members of various Christian purity movements. Luckily, we have girls like Sarah Palin’s teenage daughters to bridge the gap. She’s a fundamentalist Christian, but her daughters are apparently forever getting knocked up by gas station attendants and bag-boys. And they say Palin isn’t a unifying candidiate.

This documentary followed various fathers and daughters in Colorado Springs as the daughters prepared to make their pledges to stay virginal and pure, promising not to even kiss or hold hands with a boy until their wedding day. They do this as part of the annual Purity Ball and they start as young as five.

Now, most guys I know who have daughters know what horny little bastards teenage boys are. And most of them can see the merit in trying to make sure your daughter feels loved enough at home not to go off and date the town ’bad boy’ just to piss off daddy.  As US comedian Chris Rock says – your only job as a father is to keep your daughter off the pole. But there is surely a better way of doing this that doesn’t involve emotionally blackmailing a five-year old. 

The main character we met was the ball’s organiser, alpha-male fuckwit Randy Wilson.  As Randy and the other fathers in this movement sat hovering over their daughters as they spouted their rehearsed purity speeches to please daddy, my skin began to crawl. Randy has seven children and he and his wife have had five miscarriages. His wife, by the way, was a weeping basket-case. Bearing in mind the poor woman’s been pregnant 11 times, she was obviously physically and emotionally worn-out and she probably doesn’t have five minutes peace where the aptly-named Randy isn’t showing her some of his good ol’, Christian lovin’. 

As part of a weekly household ceremony, the children line up and Randy tells them one-by-one what they mean to him. To me, this just looked like an overly-dominant man asserting his patriarchal role in an ugly display of power. But I guess Mrs Randy must have been glad of the rutting break.

I’d be interested to know how much Randy makes from these purity balls and how much of it he gives back to the church. Having said that, the New Life Church which hosts these things, was conveniently founded  by Randy himself. So who knows if he can tell the difference between the two.

‘Why! The church needs a brand-new red Camaro. Hallelujah!’

We also met Khrystian Wilson (these Americans with their whacky misspellings!) who had once been Miss Teenage Colorado and had taken one of these purity covenants herself. Being a very nice-looking girl and Miss Colorado an all, she’d obviously attracted the attention of the boys. And having had virtually no sex education, she soon found herself pregnant. She was all set to marry the boy in question until she lost the baby and they separated. Thankfully, she’s now living with a nice guy. But her mother still treats her like a fallen woman and refuses to have anything to do with her partner. Christian love and forgiveness in action.

I understand parents wanting to protect their children – particularly young daughters – from the worst excesses of our morally bankrupt and demoralised culture. But anyone knows that if you want to make something seem more appealing to teenagers – just ban it. Just ask every stripper who went to convent school. Everyone knows little girls will do anything to please their daddy. But fathers taking advantage of this fact, simply because they can’t handle the idea of their daughters growing up into sexually mature women, is pretty depressing.

Disclaimer: Having said all of that, I should confess I have previous in this area myself. With a long trail of broken relationships behind me, I’ve disillusioned so many women that a group of my ex-girlfriends have now got together and started their own nunnery. I’m thinking about opening up my own monastery nearby. This might just be the perfect relationship – I just need to convince them all to take the Mingles Pledge at my annual Monastery Ball. I’ll keep you informed of my progress.

Half Ton Dad

July 31, 2008

Some statistics to start. These ‘shock docs’ tend to start with a lot of statistics. I think it makes them feel like they’re some sort of educational programme rather than what they are – which is an electronic version of a Victorian freak show.

 So, the statistics:

  • Americans are so fat that they have now had to create a whole new category of fatness – Super Morbidly Obese.
    Which must make people merely categorised as ‘Morbidly Obese’ pretty chipper, and straighforward ‘fat bastards’ positively incandescent with wobbly joy.
  •  Kenneth Brumley Lives in Houston, Texas and weighs 73 stone. That’s around 1000 pounds. Or, more appropriately, 4000 quarter-pounders.
  • Kenneth’s food intake is around 30,000 calories a day. Which is about what a human consumes in two weeks.
  • Kenneth plans to shed a mere 50 stone and it took 7 burly firemen to remove him from his front room to the hospital.
    (Tree-dwelling cats and randy , female alcoholic divorcees across the greater Houston area were said to be furious with jealousy and immediately went on an eating spree).
  • If you want to picture Kenneth, he makes Mr Creosote look like Amy Winehouse in drag.
    That’s my own statistic, but I throw it in for the reader’s interest.

There are loads of stats like this peppered throughout the show but you get the idea: ‘Boy, will you look at this fat bastard. But kindly do so in a caring medical-type-of-way, if you please.’

The show also introduced us to 19-year-old Billy. And wheras Kenneth seemed like a well-balanced and likeable guy who had the support of his loving family around him, not so with Billy. His mother, no Posh Spice herself, was obviously what they call in the business, an ‘enabler’ (oh yes, I picked up a few tips from the show).

You really had to feel for this poor young guy though. At 19, he should have been out getting drunk and rejected by girls and developing a brooding unhealthy misogyny which would one day blossom into some sort of writing career – like the rest of us. Instead, he was stuck in a pre-fab, eating and shitting with the support of his mother.

Cut back to Kenneth, who is in hospital and in 40 days has lost 12 stones. Fair play to the guy. Only now can surgery safely be performed. And he has two enormous mounds of fat, each weighing around 12 stone, carved from between his thighs and hefted into medical waste bags. (These are then, I supect, rushed to the nearest fast food outlet and sold as ‘chicken’. But I can’t be absolutely sure on that one. They may have been sold as ‘recovered meat’ as I know the labelling guidelines on such things are quite strict nowadays).

 Anyway, you get the general idea. Both Billy and Kenneth go on a ‘Journey’ as they love to say on telly. Not an actual journey, of course. Do me a favour.

There were also, inevitably, moments of unintended humour in the voiceover, which wasn’t helped by it being performed by the excellent Alison Steadman. She has flawless comedy timing with every word she utters, whether she tries to or not. So when she delivered lines like, ‘Billy’s legs can still carry him. But rarely further than the bathroom’ and ‘ It’s now a month since Kenneth’s failed attempt to sit upright’ I have to admit I was on the floor.

I had very mixed feeling about going anywhere near this sort of show. I’ve always avoided these type of documentaries in the past for their obvious salaciousness. But as I watched and was swept along by the ‘journey’ I started to really quite like Kenneth. He seems like a decent man who, despite his appalling circumstances, appears still to have maintained his dignity.

And I liked Kenneth’s family. I started to really warm to these genuine, straightforward people. But then came the bombshell. Whilst her father was in hospital having bits the size of Arkansas removed from his body, Kenneth’s daughter was busy feeding her 9-month-old baby a hamburger.  At which point I dried my teary eyes, went online and ordered a pump-action shotgun and a flight to Texas. 

By the way, Kenneth eventually lost 35 stone by finally having a gastric band inserted. I believe a Gastric Band is something like an Indie band, but not nearly so unpleasant. Unfortunately, I’ve no idea what happened to Billy as my Windows Media Player stopped recording at that point, with probably two minutes to go. Luckily, I can update you on Friday when I fly over there and blow his mother’s evil fucking head off.

Olay Regenerist

July 2, 2008

Olay Regenerist - Alternative to Injections

For years I laboured under the misguided belief that the poor standing of women in todays society was the fault of men; that the glass ceilings of business, the abject sexism of language and the body fascism of the media were all the result of a patriarchal world which imposed impossible standards upon them at the request of men.

For a while it looked like things were improving, but somewhere along the way it went wrong. We reached a point where being allowed to get as shitfaced as men meant equality, and where masturbating with a wine bottle on Big Brother equalled personal freedom and we suddenly went on our way again, thinking that everything was alright, and pushing the sexes even further apart in the process.

Advertising is the main culprit here – a slow socialization of roles that has become an all out war on the female image, grinding them further and further down until their behavour is a commodity and their self esteem is purchasable.

The poor standing of women in society is no longer because of men, and it’s not because of women either – it’s because of money. It’s because self-loathing is more profitable than self-empowerment and because a happy woman does not make a handful of very powerful people very rich.

I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t the normal sardonic critique usually enjoyed on Watch With Mothers, this is the nigh on communist rantings of newboy Quincy Phd. Watch the advert for Olay Regenerist above, though, and tell me that there’s not something very sinister about the whole thing.

It’s just a little advert – one in a million of the same ilk, and in many ways as innocuous as them all, but within it lays the seeds of all that is wrong with the advertising industry. It defies all sense of decency, of moral purpose – it’s cold, callous and calculated to further deflate the self-respect of half of the population.

Turn over to More4 and there’s a repeat of How To Look Good Naked; a woman is sobbing, actually breaking down in front of a mirror – holding her slightly aged stomach and spluttering that this isn’t how she’s meant to look, how she’s meant to be “slim, and young, and beautiful…”

The connection isn’t hard to see. We live in a culture where an advert with two kissing men is pulled in its first week, but this shit goes on and on and on without a single complaint. It’s state sanctioned bullying, drip-feed demoralisation and the beginnings of Olay’s move into wholesale cosmetic surgery products.

The male targeted adverts of this ilk are easy to laugh at – Pierce Brosnan saving the environment, Ewan McGregor on his bike – but when Andi McDowell talks of erasing her life-story lines it’s almost conspiratory. Before, the voiceover would say “in your early thirties” – now it’s “in your late twenties.”

Mainly, though, it bothers me that Eve Cameron, beauty journalist, would hawk this shit. I know everyone has a price, but in my ideal world she’d have a flash of conscience and realise that all she’s really doing is perpetuating an impossible and unrealistic beauty myth and further ruining the societal advancement of her own gender.

Reverend Death

May 21, 2008


Reverend Death looked like an uglier version of Tubbs from the League of Gentlemen. This added a deeply sinister edge to what was already a deeply sinister man. Maybe.

Jon Ronson was a lot more sympathetic to him than I. To me, he was a meddling power-crazed boob using his collar as an excuse to literally play God -but he managed to remain inoffensive and there was something, dare I say it, sad and genuine about him. That was until a shrink said that he was essentially fireworking jitler inside his pants whenever he bumped someone off. But I still felt sort of sorry for him. The show was a paradox hiding in a mystery when it came to casting a cast iron opinion on the ethics of his actions.

The show was way too long and relied too much on sensationalising aspects that weren’t all that sensational if you stripped down the subject to its bare bones. Sad folks wanting to die but requiring exoneration from their religion which forbids it. Quite straightforward on the one hand.

RD did some jail time midway through the doc as the US authorities incarcerated him for possible extradition for knacking some miserable Irish spanner in Cork or somewhere. In the end they decided he shouldn’t have to face charges but it did mean that RD had to employ a member of staff to carry on his mission whilst absent.

This was a massive oversight on his part. As I had some fundamental sympathies for what RD was trying to do, sort of, it seemed that others around him were out for themselves. RD didn’t receive monies for what he did, a cassock full of goz was his reward, but the fat looney he trained to cover him while he sang the jailhouse blues was a different matter. This cunt was fucking mental.

She insisted she had her face hidden, which was probably for the benefit of the viewing public if her temper and behemoth arse was anything to go by, but more probably because this fat shit was charging her charges to kill them. Morally reprehensible at best, at worst – first degree murder. Even Jon Ronson implored her to stop what she was doing but in typical arrogant war-on-terror parlance she justified her actions to the point where one began to question one’s own sense of reality.

Largely the programme didn’t work, but if I feel that I’m sick and tired of life I’d not mind RD coming over and blowing his beans as I draw my last breath, I tell you.


America Unchained

February 6, 2008

 Dave Gorman

The premise: Dave Gorman, a Britisher famous for his globe-trotting adventures, attempts to cross the continental United States without handing over a cent of his money to Corporate America.

And so the fun begins when Dave, bless him, buys a car from a kindly old gentleman in California. Dave, a man who’s been brought up to believe there’s good in everyone, swallows this bullshit merchant’s patois that the crappy 1970s estate he’s selling has a tank capacity of twenty two gallons and has never, in thirty years, broken down. Dave, beguiled into a romantic notion that travelling across the States must be done in something idiosyncratic and old, takes this liar at his word and drives off in said estate, an ugly lump of crap that’s already developed an alarming clattering sound before he’s even got it out of the driveway. Great, nice one, Dave – that’s what trust does for you.

Money to ‘The Man’ (Dave’s term for those evil corporations we’re all supposed to hate etc.): Nothing, unless you count the money The Man was paid for the motor in the first place (mung bean collectives in eco-communes on the Isle of Sheppey don’t usually make motor cars, sadly).

So it’s off to an independent muffler shop to get the car Dave’s just bought from a fucking liar repaired. The man at the muffler shop confesses that, after he retires, the shop will probably go down the pan. This, it transpires, is a damn shame as the independent muffler shop can make custom-made mufflers on the spot, whereas the big chains would have to order the parts. Dave and the man at the muffler shop have a conversation about how you won’t get this level of service, vis-à-vis custom-made parts, from a big chain and, yes, they’re broadly correct. You’d expect a chain muffler shop to stock mufflers for motor cars made in the 21st Century, as opposed to ones made in 1978. Chain muffler shops have to service a local community who aren’t setting out to prove some sort of point by driving around in a really old car. The independent muffler store man has the time to make one-off mufflers for 1970s motor cars because he’s not rushing around servicing loads of newer cars every day – the larger chains just take one off the shelves for the majority of 2000-2007 models it gets driving up its ramps. That’s not their fault.

Money to ’The Man’: Zero, except for the metal required for the muffler and the machine that makes the muffler (Guardian-worshipping fair-trade coffee-shoppers aren’t known for their industrial metal working/precision machine tooling skills).

With the car repaired (for now – having been purchased off a liar, it breaks down quite a few more times), Dave sets off towards Oregon to visit a town called ‘Independence’. Of course, he soon needs to stock up on petrol and, as he’s not giving any money to ‘The Man’, he has to find petrol that’s been herded by a kindly Bedouin Nomad on his oil farm in the Arabian Desert. Dave pulls into the first of many ‘independent’ petrol stations and fills his car made from fairy dust and unicorn sparkles with lovely, craft shop petrol just like mum used to make …

… except he doesn’t, of course. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that crude oil, if it is to be profitable, has to be pumped out of the ground on an industrial scale by companies like Shell, Texaco, Exxon and BP. That oil has to come from fucked up dictatorships in the Middle East and is subsidised with lucrative contracts from arms manufacturers and government backhanders. The oil then has to be transported via pipelines laid by ‘The Man’, to tankers built and operated by ‘The Man’, to refineries run by ‘The Man’, into petrol tankers operated by ‘The Man’, into pumps built by ‘The Man’, and then sold by the only guy in this process that isn’t ‘The Man’ (though, to be fair to ‘The Man’, the guy that owns the service station has handed over his money to ‘The Man’ to buy the petrol to put in his pumps).

Therefore, Money to ’The Man’: All of it, ultimately (if only the soya bean alliance had pulled their fingers out and got into the international oil/arms trade, Dave’s entire project wouldn’t have been rendered null and void from the very first fill-up, ah well).

And so off Dave goes, across the USA, not giving any money to ‘The Man’. Along the way he eats independent food grown by vast American conglomerates (farming in the US just ain’t the family affair it used to be in the … whenever the hell it was), he sleeps in independent hotels furnished with stuff like beds, chairs and TVs made by ‘The Man’, he keeps on pumping that eco-fuel that puts two fingers up to ‘The Man’ (and money in his wallet – take that, corporate America!) , etc. etc. etc.

As Dave washes up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, he’s proved, quite conclusively, that you can’t get across the continental United States without giving any money to ‘The Man’ because:

1. He’s already had his money before you even show up.
2. Even when you think he’s not having any of your money, he is.
3. Dave gives plenty of money to ‘The Man’ when he feasts on McDonalds and Burger King and fills up his car at a chain petrol station (as opposed to a chain petrol station in disguise, see above).

Now, Dave Gorman is a funny man. His books outlining his adventures in the world of stupid bets are great. His live stage shows are often one of the best on the circuit. His regular TV appearances are always entertaining, and the show he currently hosts on the radio has been such a success, it’s transferring to the box. Fair play to him, can’t argue with that.

I can argue with this documentary, though. What, exactly, was the point of America Unchained? If it was another of those vacuous ‘endurance documentaries’ like Supersize Me, then it shared that movie’s ultimate worthlessness. Can you eat McDonalds for a month and be completely unscathed by the experience? No – didn’t need to make a film to answer that one. Can you drive across the most corporate-shackled country on Earth without handing over any money to ‘The Man’? No – didn’t need to make a documentary to find that one out.

If it was a comedy travelogue, then it failed too. Dave in a car, Dave stuck in a small town, Dave filling up a car, and Dave checking into a motel aren’t half as funny as Dave explaining how he ended up jet-setting around the world thanks to his penchant for getting pissed with Danny Wallace. Comedy travelogues need to contain a lot of comedy to counterbalance all those boring shots of roads – this didn’t.

So what was it, exactly? Well too long, for a start. At one hour and forty minutes, a documentary featuring a man either driving or filling up a car doesn’t make for particularly riveting TV. The endless repetition of Dave driving around looking for fuel was boring and indulgent – without that it would have been a serviceable (if still pointless) hour long.

It also wasn’t very well filmed. More4 obviously decided to keep the show’s budget as low as possible, so the whole thing was filmed by one man sat next to Dave in a car. Hence the lighting was bland, the camera frequently shaky, and for the most part focused on a side-profile of Dave … driving a car. To look at, it stank, quite frankly.

There was a gem of a documentary here. Without the silly ‘message’ shit, America Unchained could have been a quirky little show along the lines of a Louis Theroux – Dave in independent America. There was a hint of that in Dave’s decision to go to towns named ‘Independence’ to see how independent they really were. If they’d cut out the challenge rubbish (if you want challenges where funny people drive around doing crazy things, it’s called Top Gear) and focused instead on the independent spirit I, like Dave, hopes still exists in the USA, this show could have been a little corker. As it was, it was a very funny man in an unfunny situation doing a completely pointless thing we all knew wasn’t going to work in the first place. A shame.

Come Dine With Me

January 21, 2008

I’ve been sitting on my appreciation of this particular show for quite some time, but I can contain it no longer. It’s time for the walk of shame. Like a voluminous fart, finally released with great relief after a day spent with the in-laws, the truth must out.

I really, really like Come Dine With Me.

What’s more, if I’m wasting Sunday the way Sunday is meant to be wasted, I can’t resist the temptation – flicking over to More4 in the early afternoon, bracing myself for the Come Dine With Me marathon. All the cool kids will be doing it soon enough. It can’t just be me who becomes heavily immersed in a series of filmed dinner parties on the day of rest, every week?

Two and a half hours (ie – five episodes condensed) sounds heavy going, but the show is so heavy with filler and catch-up that it’s almost as if you’re not watching television. You’re just being fed a series of easily consumed baby-food spoonfuls.

As with all reality TV, this is heavily edited to make it as amusing as possible and to imply that, over the course of a three-course meal, something uproarious occurred every five minutes. But it’s reality TV that makes no attempt to prove its integrity. That fact is confirmed when you consider Grub Smith (that bloke who used to do the sex columns for FHM) does the voiceover, which plays continuously throughout. He spends the entire time mocking the diners. As you comment ‘you don’t look like you need an extra portion, love’, Smith’s voice will say the exact same thing a millisecond later, like some weird pre-delayed echo.

The fact that five strangers are forced to meet every weekday meeting in a single week is really what makes it all work. In the same way Wife Swap pits complete opposites against one another and waits for a spark, CDWM shoves members of the public together willy-nilly and makes them converse, eat, cook, fight, moan and drunkenly flirt on five consecutive evenings, as they wallow in the boozy claustrophobia of the exercise. In fact, it becomes so oppressive that the final cook is always at a disadvantage. By day five the contestants are all so hungover and overfed that being marked down is inevitable. Add to that the arguments they’ll have had, usually starting on Day Two, and the final cook is never going to come first.

On yesterday’s marathon we saw a fat, pretentious twat called Pippa cook what was meant to be a chicken pie for the diners, though, alas, she forgot to put the chicken in before baking. When one of her guests arrived at 6.15 – 15 minutes early, she was made to wait in the cold rather than being welcomed in with a glass of warm booze. I’d have put a brick through her window if she’d done that to me.

Stuart was another contestant, his menu evidence that he still inhabited the brain of a pissed student. The less said about his bacon and egg korma, the better, I feel.

He came equal last with Vera (the diner left out in the cold by that rotund bell-end, Pippa). Vera was a lovely old, no-nonsense boiler who, when making a compote, took some strawberry jam and added a bit of tap water. Genius. She was docked a whole heap of points when her little dog walked into the dining area, trumped out a killer fart and then waddled off, ruining everyone’s’ meal. Who needs words?

Paul should’ve won it. He made the best food, extremely well presented, but his bravado was probably his downfall. He ended up losing to Craig, a bizarre contradiction of a man. An androgynous student, South African but with an Etonian accent, part Prince Harry, part Mark Almond, I didn’t really know what or who he was. I think he managed to win by insisting he was allergic to everything including crockery, whilst confusing everyone to the point they could only see a disapproving blur when they looked at him.

He won the £1,000 prize but really, he’s the ultimate loser. He was bullied by a drunken Pippa into arranging a date, despite their 20-year age difference and obvious incompatibility. The thought of his skinny frame enveloped by her rolls of white flesh is quite enough to put anyone off their three-course dinner.

Young At Heart / Big Brother 8

July 30, 2007


Crying at something I’ve seen on the TV? Am I going soft? Probably. But I challenge anyone to watch Young at Heart, the documentary on More4 about a group of pensioners by the same name, and not be moved.

When I recorded this I was expecting a few laughs, if I’m honest, at the expense of some geriatrics attempting to remember the words to a Hendrix number. To an outsider, the premise looks amusing, first and foremost. A choir of OAPs singing contemporary numbers and a few classic rock tunes. What I wasn’t expecting was to be moved to tears by the poignancy of their performances and the dignity they bought to the music. When Dora Morrow and Stan Goldman sang James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’, it’s impossible not to smile and also feel a tad ashamed of one’s own cynicism. Dora is in her 80s.

Fred Knittle can’t breathe unaccompanied, and despite the breathing apparatus that hangs around his neck and the audible sound of his sucking oxigen through a machine, his rendition of Coldplay’s (originally leaden) Fix You turns a workmanlike ballad into something of incredible emotional power. The lyrics are given added meaning when you consider it was due to be a duet, but his singing partner Joseph Benoit had died just days earlier. It’s a right royal tear-jerker, even for a bitter and cynical blogger like this one. Take a look at the youtube clip of the chorus singing Sonic Youth’s Schizophrenia at the bottom of this article. It’s better than the original.

The fact that these septua and octogenarians are fighting to perform and do something good with the remaining years of thier life lifts your spirit and makes you hope that maybe you will have that strength of spirit when you reach the twilight years.

Then you switch over to Channel 4 and Big Brother is on, and you realise that we’re all doomed, as the generation is made up of the most vacuous examples of humanity you could ever pray you wouldn’t run into. Young adults who can’t name more than one American President. An Englishman who doesn’t know who William Shakespeare is. A woman so self absorbed she completely loses track of what she’s saying every time she starts roaring orders at people, distracted by her own reflection. A graduate who, in matters of love, resembles an 8 year old only child. A vain ex-boyband failure who speaksin cliches. A ‘raver’ (in her 30s, no less) who has a limited capacity for conversation given that she only speaks in long-past-its-sell-by-date 80s Ravey Davey slang. And some other arseholes.

They can’t do anything. They have zero talent, and yet they assume they have something to offer the world, and the world continues to pay them attention.

It’s fascinating for all the wrong reasons.

When you hear the Young at Heart chorus singing ‘Forever Young’ to prisoners in an American penitentiary, your heart skips a beat. The advice in the song is perfectly apt for those with chequered pasts. It enables them a chance to take stock and start thinking about righting some wrongs. You can’t help but wish the inhabitants of the BB house were forced to have a similar moment of clarity and consider that the reason for their existence might be something other than self-promotion and meaningless celebrity.