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The Most Irresponsibly Reported News Story of the Year

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British_tabloids_-_July_5_2011

Since Saturday, it has been quietly appalling to read and watch the media coverage of the ‘Virgin Killer’ tragedy.

For a start, the name gives even less dignity to Elliot Rodger’s six victims.

Certain UK and US newspapers in particular have shamelessly raked through every mucky aspect of this massacre and its perpetrator’s history with no sense of decorum.

From reprinting the killer’s so-called manifesto, to providing links to his YouTube channel (which is, nonsensically, still available to view). Every aspect of good journalism has been sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this case has been the media’s short-sighted and uncaring decision to name the girl included in Rodger’s tirade. This is a girl who was barely a teenager when she unknowingly slighted him, and he subsequently developed a fixation on her and girls who looked like her. This incidence should not be leading to accusations. The girl was unfortunate enough to have attracted the attentions of a stalker. Why is the paper naming (and by association shaming) an innocent party? Instead, the media has thrown her to the wolves. From now on she will be prey to the rantings of every tech-savvy misogynist on the internet.

Press standards: The New York Daily News shows how this SHOULD have been reported.

Press standards: The New York Daily News shows how this SHOULD have been reported.

 

Not content to ruin a girl’s life over an incident that may or may not have happened during her early adolescence, the papers have also felt the need to run pictures (perhaps gleaned from social media pages) of her in bikinis/ bunny ears in an effort not just to cast misplaced blame but also just to get those all-important ‘bikini body’ shots (underage in this case) of an attractive female.

Since media coverage of serial killers began, there has been a tacit understanding that the air of publicity should be denied to the guilty party. After all, what good does it do to try and let the insane try and justify the unjustifiable? It is rather like keeping a rabid dog alive in the hope that he will stop biting.

Instead, the media has positively encouraged the public to read the misogyny, misanthropy and dangerously narcissistic delusions of a mentally ill killer. And the results are worrying. Young girls with Hybristophilia are apparently releasing sympathetic YouTube videos lamenting Rodger’s fate and fawning over how ‘cute’ he was.

Message boards all over the world are debating the reasons not just for Rodger’s deplorable acts, but for his mindset. For as many who are repulsed by  this story, there are just as many comments detailing adolescent rejection from people who recognise that particular kind of loneliness (even if they don’t agree with Rodger), deluded diatribes from the ‘Pick Up Artist Community’, and a number of posts proclaiming support of Rodger’s manifesto.

When did the tide turn with media coverage of killers? TV interviews and documentaries have not helped. It seems that if the killer has an ability to articulate their ‘victimhood’ (an aspect of narcissistic personality disorder) or some level of aesthetic attractiveness then the media is prepared to give them a platform. It happened with Ted Bundy and it is happening here. Hollywood even made two documentaries on Aileen Wuornos before the inevitable feature film.

#YesAllWomen was not Elliot Rodger’s planned legacy. Good.

 

If one good thing has come out of this misplaced media frenzy, it is the #YesAllWomen campaign on Twitter. It details the incidences of women not feeling safe around particular men, and the reasons that sexual harassment is unacceptable in our age. It has also gathered a lot of support from men. The message that all women should have dignity in their dealings with the opposite gender is admirable. If it can change one misogynist’s view of women, or prevent one rape or assault, then we should all be glad.

But Elliot Rodger’s unexpected legacy would doubtless be lost on him.

 P.S. Long time, no see – my fault entirely. So sorry.

Ha! Tom Hardy IS Joining Peaky Blinders!

Tom Hardy is already rocking a Peaky Blinders Urquhart.

Tom Hardy is already rocking a Peaky Blinders Urquhart.

Do you remember this purely speculative post a few months ago?

Well it seems I’d come over all Mystic Meg because PB creator Steven Knight has got his Christmas wish in regular collaborator Tom Hardy joining his increasingly A-List cast. It will be good to see Mr hardy back on our television screens (I’ve always admired his turn as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights).

Now, can you just move more filming locations to Brum Mr Knight? Pretty please?

Total Film broke the news just yesterday.

Looking forward to seeing what twists and turns PB will come up with in the new season. Will  Brummed Out commenter Alex also be proven right in their theory that Grace is actually the daughter of Aunt Polly (Queen of Darkness)?

 

 

 

Our Little House on the Prairie

The actual Little House

The actual Little House

Did you ever used to watch this on Sunday mornings? It was Channel 4’s gooey sentimental filling, sandwiched between The Waltons and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. My brother who is going through a protracted quarter-life crisis, has recently become obsessed with it, filled as it is with the comforts of a poor but caring two-parent family, regular chastening of one’s morals  and plenty of gingham.

So it should delight him to know that the husband and I are due to move into our first American home together tomorrow, a house on a road called Prairie. And just like Laura Ingalls, I get to sleep in the loft!

OK, I don’t know what a prairie actually is but I’m already having visions of running down a hill filled with wild-flowers, my hair in pigtails and wearing gingham (but of course).

Me on Sunday mornings

Me on Sunday mornings

American houses are innately scarier than British homes. OK, so British homes tend to be older, but when you’re on your own in a typical US house there are all these noises… I’ve been walking around trying to find their sources just to put my overactive imagination tot rest.

Evil furnace - they don't normally look this evil.

Evil furnace – they don’t normally look this evil.

I can now sympathise with little Kevin McCallister’s fear of his basement furnace in Home Alone. It just starts whirring in a uniquely macabre tone at the most random moments. And forced air systems are louder than good old central heating. Our wood floors seem to creak and settle way more than wood floors back in Blighty. I actually got the husband to prowl around the house with a baseball bat last night because a combination of the sump pump and creaky floor boards translated into ‘serial killer’ for me.

Or even something worse; remember those strange sounds at the beginning of The Excorcist – suspected rats in the attic that turned out to be Satan? Although Hantavirus poses as great a threat…

The (and rats) laugh in the face of your puny light source.

The devil  (and rats) laugh in the face of your puny light source.

And after watching both versions of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark last year, I have also developed a fear of air vents – there could be a whole race of malevolent little people in there who want you to join them in being needlessly malevolent.

And all roots lead to the basement – those little quirks of mid 20th century American house design, such as the milk box (a small alcove in the wall next to the back door for milk deliveries), laundry shoots and giant ill-repaired air vents, foster echoes and dirges from the laundry room and dreaded sump pump below.

They came from the air vents: the little beasties from Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

They came from the air vents: the little beasties from Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Well I’ve suitably terrified myself in time for bed this evening, so it’s only fair to spread the misery.

Although Little House was an idyllic window into the American pioneer world of the 19th century, the TV show allegedly carries a dark legacy.

A few years ago I read this claim on Find A Death that the set of Little House on the Prairie was built near an experimental weapons plant. The claim alleged that the saintly Michael Landon (Pa Ingalls himself) got the land cheap because he knew of this. Obviously I disregarded this unsubstantiated claim. But a lot of the cast got sick after filming finished, even Landon himself died tragically young of cancer. And I’ve now seen this theory crop up on quite a few sites. It makes me sad to think that even that cosy loft on the prairie harboured death in the nooks and crannies.

Nighty night children. Sleep tight.

Into the Polar Vortex

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polar votex

So I arrived between ice blasts. I’m now 4000 miles from Birmingham with no Green Card (it’s on it’s way), no job, no driving license (and no car, so it hardly matters), and no home until next Friday. I’m not quite as ill-prepared as Christopher McCandless  but the Polar Vortex that has been engulfing the States this year has been a learning curve for the ten days I’ve been here.

IT’S SO COLD THAT…

  • You can throw a pot of boiling water into the air outside and create instant snow.
  • Many people have been hurt doing this – they didn’t check which direction the wind was blowing.
  • Whenever I stepped outside the first week, I’d say ‘Look! Fresh snow!’ with a sense of joy and wonder. Now, I say ‘Look… fresh snow’ with a growing sense of resentment at the inevitable daily car-scraping.
  • You can’t do that trick where you pour warm water over the car windscreen here – it just freezes. Engine on and scraper-brush out. Here is where you start paying. In sweat.
  • I now understand why there are so many massive gas-guzzling 4x4s over here – the weather is VERY cold every year, the terrain is harsh, and the people are determined to carry on as normal. You will not find any ‘leaves on the train line’ type excuses over here.
  • I will never consider leather a legitimate upholstery choice for my car again.
  • I have learned to click my heels like Dorothy Gale before stepping into any car – and yes, I do find myself thinking: ‘there’s no place like home…’
  • Conversations and general breathing in our car results in so much vapour that I think I’m in Cold War Vienna.
  • When taken out on a date by my husband, he wrapped me up so I looked like Randy from A Christmas Story. It wasn’t even Halloween.
  • It is considered the height of bad manners here in Michigan to enter a house with out removing your shoes.
  • The forced air system at our friend’s house where we are currently staying, dries out all the moisture from the air, which means I’ve had a 2-week nose bleed. Coupled with the flu, I look like Andrew WK (remember him children?). I bled into my cup of tea. It was gross.
  • I coughed up blood last week. Blood and mucus.
  • I’ve been told that to avoid winter nose-bleeds, everyone around here sleeps with vapourisers by their beds. Duly noted.
Yeah, 2001 was a good look for me.

Yeah, 2001 was a good look for me.

  • There is only so much chicken soup that one girl can take.
  • I have eaten all my Tastes-Of-Home tuck supplies. Yes, that includes a huuuuge bar of Cadbury’s wholenut.
  • I don’t go out. I just wait at home like a house-cat, awaiting my owner’s return. The term house-wife has taken on a new harder edge for me.
  • I have started to read a lot more Sylvia Plath.
Stay tuned for further details of my unravelling...

Stay tuned for further details of my unravelling…

From Brum to…?

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270px-Michigan_in_United_States.svgEvening Brummies,

Do remember this post?

Well it’s finally happened. Following graduation, the husband landed a job at a big bad investment bank in London and spent most of last summer in NYC (not me though, confined to the couch and enforced Corrie-watching as per usual). But it turned out that banks really are as evil as we all suspected and in November he was offered a job back in the States. So tomorrow I’m heading to the frozen north. Michigan to be precise.

Cue lots of standing around the US Embassy in London for me. In the rain. And at one point naked in a Harley St clinic to prove I was female (yes, they really do want to check you for that).

And also the nightmare that is international shipping (customs forms, dolls’ house bubble wrapping, waving goodbye to all you own in the vain hope it won’t arrive smashed to smithereens at the other end).

The question is, what does this mean for Brummedout? I guess it would be hard to continue writing about a city I no longer reside in or can even easily visit. Although I shall be keeping an eye on the place, through friends who live in and around the area.

So the next best thing would be to rename the blog and shift its focus. Or start a completely new one. What should I do? Any ideas?

I think I’ll keep posting about my ex-pat journey for a little while, and take y’all with me for the ride. So if you’d care to log in and accompany me into the polar vortex that is currently freezing up Niagara Falls, the Great Lakes and – allegedly – people’s toilet bowls, I’d be glad of the company.

Also, if you ever wanted to know about anything in particular about America from an outsider’s perspective, I’ll do my best to satisfy your curiosity. I fly out from Birmingham International (loyal to the end) tomorrow morning.

Brum, it’s been emotional.

Take care of yourselves, you hear?

 

 

 

Black Friday – A Most Unfortunate Import

what-to-wear-for-black-friday-shoppingThere hasn’t been a good rant on this site for a while now, but yesterday something caught my eye that just made me soooo mad I had to vent (and it was writing about  this or bleaching the shower grouting).

Whilst trying to read the news online, one of those moveable pop-ups kept pestering me around the touch screen. ‘SOMEHING’ it flashed, ‘UNBELIEVABLE. IS HAPPENING. TOMORROW. TOMORROW. TOMORROW.’ Something annoying was happening right now though, and as the advertisers obviously had a huge deal with the online edition of this newspaper, it wasn’t about to subside anytime soon. ‘BLACK FRIDAY. BLACK FRIDAY. THIS FRIDAY. AT …’ (insert name of gigantic American owned superstore here. Other superstores are inevitably available).

Calm before the storm: Thanksgiving promotes a sense of peace and humanity.

Calm before the storm: Thanksgiving promotes a sense of peace and humanity.

  ‘Crap,’ I groaned. Black Friday has made it over here. For those of you unfamiliar with this ‘tradition’, let me enlighten you. The day after Thanksgiving in America (which always falls on the last Thursday in November) has been christened BLACK FRIDAY. Taking advantage of the good mood caused by the nationwide turkey roast and effects of umami the previous day, shops open up from midnight onward promising huge discounts on stock. Consumers turn up in droves, frequently in their PJs to dash around the stores and fight over this and that essential (ie: not really) item. It’s like the first day of the January sales on speed. Needless to say, the spirit of Thanksgiving is thrown out of the window so that shoppers can get ever closer to human sacrifice on the altar of mindless consumerism.

Maybe you think that last remark was a tad over the top. Sadly not. The first time I was in the US for Thanksgiving, I had a lovely time going to see the Detroit Lions lose (yep, they were giving away home tickets that season), meeting my in-laws for the first time, cheering my boyfriend on at the Turkey Trot 5K (from the warmth of his apartment) and generally learning what a delightful seasonal event this is. The day afterwards, I elected to stay home and steadily some alarming news reports came in. A security guard with a leg broken in a department store stampede, children sent to the Emergency Room, and most tragic of all, a pregnant woman crushed causing a miscarriage and an employee stamped on and killed at a Black Friday event in a Walmart sore.

Black Friday, the reality: in 2008 I heard news reports of fights, shootings, miscarriages and death by stampede.

Black Friday, the reality: in 2008 I heard news reports of fights, shootings, miscarriages and death by stampede.

This alone should raise alarms about the necessity of Black Friday crossing the pond, but also there is no logic behind this very American day in our admittedly crappy consumer culture. Black Friday heralds the beginning of the Christmas season in America, trees can now be put up, lights can be strung across the neighbourhoods, department store Santas can start freaking out little kids. But not over here. We don’t have Thanksgiving. Mostly because we have the good old Sunday Roast/ Friday Night Dinner every week. Black Friday in the UK is using multiculturalism in the most cynical way possible. We have never had this so-called tradition is the UK; there is no ethnic, cultural or religious demand for it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it features in an upcoming episode of Mr Selfridge. I bet the discounts won’t even be any good (are they ever?).  The best thing to do is boycott it and send the multinational conglomerates a clear message before they start making it an essential British seasonal ‘tradition’.

Apologies About Peaky Blinders Episode Six

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Jason Statham has previously worked with Steven Knight. Will he feature in series 2? Image: wiki commons

Jason Statham has previously worked with Steven Knight. Will he feature in series 2? Image: wiki commons

So I’ve been asked by a few people why I never posted on the final episode of Peaky Blinders…well this is a little embarrassing but I didn’t get to see the end! I had to leave halfway through the episode to pick my husband up from the train station and by the time I logged on to the BBC iPlayer to  get my Shelby fix, it had been taken off. Couldn’t find it on YouTube or the like either. So I didn’t get to wrap up my little series of posts and I’m sorry to all of you who have enjoyed reading about ‘urquharts’ and Freddie the Horny Bolshevik. I will (hopefully) be back on it when series 2 arrives next year.

Writer Steven Knight has previously worked with Tom Hardy and Jason Statham and says he would be keen to bring them on board for PB2. Given that Statham has found fame playing The Transporter, The Mechanic and one of The Expendables,  it’s likely he will assume the role of The Butcher, The Baker or The Candlestick Maker.

Tom Hardy is already rocking a Peaky Blinders Urquhart.

Tom Hardy is already rocking a Peaky Blinders Urquhart. Image Wiki Commons

What did you think of Peaky Blinders in the end? Good, Bad, Ugly? Will you be watching season two, and if so what do you hope will happen in our favorite Brummie saga?

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