Ugly Humanity

June 21, 2010

Unless you’ve been living in a cavern in Mongolia listening to The Beatles ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ over and over for the past few years, you may have heard of a popular show called ‘Ugly Betty.’

Whilst it numbers amongst the most grotesque attempts at a TV serial known to man, there is, beneath the myriad layers of cliché and skunk afterbirth, some small sparkle of substance.

There is a lot of debate around ethics in the magazine world, most of which ‘Ugly Betty’ is shoehorning in by the bucket load, as though it was the last day of the ethics January sales.

Episode 3 of season 1, ‘The Box and the Bunny’ decides to tackle the issue of airbrushing pictures. Despite the bile-spattered storyline generally regarding the treatment of the least ugly ugly person ever, a sub-plot of whether doctored photos should be published is brought up. This leads to a variety of questions about how truthful journalism, especially the hateful world of fashion journalism, really is.

As the TV Presenter within the show says: ‘Remember, we only make others feel bad to make you feel good.’ The world of fashion remains a dangerous warzone.

Take Daniel, one of the blander characters of the series, who edits the fictional magazine ‘Mode’ within the show. His major concern is the magazine and how well it sells, and throughout the episode he heavily advocates the use of fake images. The more venomous characters also advocate the images, and try to use original photos for their own vile ends, albeit with an ultra camp malevolence befitting an amateur dramatics Christmas pantomime.

The whole episode leads to a highly predictable conclusion. Daniel uses the false images after a sequence regarding truth telling about as subtle as half a brick through a shop front window.

The truth is a second ethical crisis within the episode. Should Betty reveal that it’s her fault the original images are in the magazine about to go to print? Should Daniel take the blame, as it’s his responsibility in the end? When the book (the final layout of the magazine before it hits the stands) goes missing, should Betty lie and say that she has it? In fact, should she have taken it home for safe keeping in the first place?

As Daniel himself would say, ‘Go with the vibe in the room.’ Roll over and play dead would be more appropriate, with the overtones of do what’s necessary for the magazine, despite personal opinion, a huge leap towards Utilitarianism. So maybe there are serious ethical and philosophical thoughts buried beneath the excrement of the storyline.

All of the characters have their own philosophies. Daniel is a utilitarian, looking out for the magazine. Betty is just trying to fit in and be helpful, and as a result is remarkably apathetic, a Christ-like view of ‘Do unto others.’

Wilhemina, the antagonist of the episode, has a distinctly Nietzschen view, that she is looking out for herself and nobody else. This leads her to become a Niccolo Machiavelli type, manipulating others to move herself higher up a social ladder so twisted it could be seen as the tapeworm in the fetid guts of society.

Betty, and to an extent her family, would count as the most virtuous characters in many people’s eyes. They look out for each other in a display of typical American sitcom family values, and share similar interests in fashion. The exception to this is Betty’s father, Ignacio, who seems to hold no interest in fashion, instead choosing to cook:

Ignacio: I’ll make you some eggs!
Betty: Dad! What is food going to do for me right now?
Ignacio: It’s a crisis – I cook.

The rest of the magazine team are essentially fillers, but the whole thing seems like an organism all of it’s own, living and breathing, and pondering whether to lie or to be truthful.

Compare this to real life. Looking through any cross section of magazines reveals either impossibly perfect pseudo people, or cheaper, grainier paparazzi shots with beer guts and cellulite allowed to roam free like herds of celebrity wildebeest on the African savannah.

Which of these is more ethical? The hated truth of imperfection? Or the doctored images which look better and lead teenage girls to size zero, crash diets and eating disorders? ‘Rest rooms for purging customers only.’

On the surface, the decision seems obvious.

But, of course, we come spiralling back, crashing headlong into ‘Ugly Betty’ like a Top Gear stunt gone wrong.

The use of doctored images is seen as right and good throughout the episode. Series troublemaker Mina says, in a speech so loaded with malice that it could rival Nick Griffin:

“Natalie, you are absolutely right, you look normal, wonderfully so, and if this was any other magazine that would be fine. But, this is Mode and we are not about normal – we are about aspirations. So why not, with the help of modern technology give yourself the opportunity to look as stunning as you possibly could.”

One of the lower ranking characters also has a point to make: ‘Perfection sells fashion. It’s all fake and unattainable, but no one seems to get it.’

Aspiration. A way of showing a public, who must be a dimwit collection of bleating lambs and castrated hounds, just what they must aspire too, what they must become.

The whole process is truly foul. The lambs see what the great fashion Gods want them to be, and line up to be shaved and slaughtered. In the end humanity is left with a butcher’s shop full of beautifully and immaculately laid out carrion, but the carrion is still dead. Mentally and ethically deceased, and abandoned to rot on a derelict catwalk.

According to today’s copy of The Sun, ‘Controversial full-body scanners’ will no longer reveal naked images of all passengers to airport security staff.’

So only the attractive ones then.

After protests from Civil Liberty groups, new software has been developed, which scans for weapons and explosives. Is it just me, or have we now just come completely full circle? We now have metal detectors, gee what an advance.

There must be something in the drinking water. Anybody who expected the full body scanners to go unnoticed must have been dosed up to the eyeballs on horse tranquillizers. It’s such an obvious problem, there can be no other explanation. Maybe they simply assumed that the fear and terror which has gripped the Americans will transfer over to the UK. But it seems we’re made of sterner stuff. Or at the very least, more dignified stuff. ‘Well yes, there is a small chance of horrible flaming death at the hands of a yelling extremist, but at least nobody’s going to see my tackle.’

There has to be a better way to do things. But until that is found, United Nudist Airlines will be laughing at us. They don’t have a problem with people smuggling weapons aboard.

You’ve got to wonder where they keep their passports though.

There’s something very odd about the world.

This is one of the weirder news stories to hit the web in recent times, and it’s difficult to see where to start with this.

The first thing you have to wonder is why somebody decides to moon a biker gang, and why they’d throw a puppy at them. Of all the things in the world to throw, a puppy seems to me to be a very strange choice. A pit-bull terrier would probably have more effect.

And then, what a strange and insane choice of getaway vehicle. Using a bulldozer to flee the Hell’s Angels is just mental, especially if you plan to abandon it and then hitch hike.

This isn’t the most troubling aspect of the story though. What’s more troubling is that this puppy thrower managed to get 5km away on a bulldozer, and then continue to hitch hike. What happened to the biker gang? Didn’t they have this massive desire for revenge? Did they just ignore him?

But then the end of the story tears into view. “The puppy is now being cared for in an animal shelter.”

We now have a caring, animal friendly biker gang around in the world.

You know we’re all fucked when a biker gang return a puppy to a shelter, while swarms of children are brandishing bread knives and cleavers.

How to please your man

June 16, 2010

All you girls out there, follow this handy information to send your man wild! He will be so happy that he may even cuddle you after your few minutes of disappointing loveplay.

1. Every once in a while, decide to badger HIM for sex.

2. Beer. Or whisky. Or gin. Or rum. Or cider. Whatever his tipple is. Provided this isn’t a quickie before work, get him a drink after sex. He’ll be happy and hydrated.

3. Don’t wear socks during sex. He may not have a foot fetish, but he’ll still find it a bit strange. Stockings are ok though. Nobody knows why this is. Answers on a postcard.

4. Talking dirty. Just don’t take dirty talking to mean: “The kitchen’s a mess but we’re not going to clean it.” No matter how naughty it is, that’s the wrong sort of dirty.

5. Leave the lights on. Men are not rabbits, and have poor night vision. Unless you’re dating a member of the SAS, he won’t be able to find you. And as a result, he’ll learn desks are much less satisfying.

6. Don’t be too much of a couple around his mates. Seriously. Save “schnooky wookums cuteykins fluffy muffy wuv bundle” for when you’re alone. Unless of course your pet name for him is “Destroyer.”

7. Go on top. This leaves your man free to enjoy the sensations, and ponder the latest developments in the financial world. Or think about his football team.

8. Food. A common bit of fun, most men love this idea. After all, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Just don’t drape yourself in steak.

9. Don’t dress up unless he asks. Whilst nurses are a common fantasy, in real life they tend to stab people with needles.

10. Imagine having sex on the beach. The stars above, the sound of the waves crashing on surf… Seashells scratching your bum, a dog taking a dump, and a nearby sailor getting his jollies watching you. Hmm.