Stuart’s Week in Entertainment Apr 9-15 (‘Final Destination: Horse Edition, Britain’s Got Double Standards and The King of Unsportsmanlike Conduct’)

TV – Final Destination: Horse Edition

So it was the Grand National this weekend, the only horse race that non obsessive gambling hounds actually care about.

Horse Racing has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Why is it that it’s considered to be something noble and even regal, and yet Greyhound Racing – not that I watch it – is very much a working class, seedy-underbelly type activity? Also, why do they bother with the jockeys, other than to give ‘The Little People’ a profession they could excel in? Whenever they have one of these falls and the horses carry on without them. they always follow the track as much as possible and are actually faster.

Plus I feel it would add a certain randomness to it.

But as for the Grand National, it’s an utterly macabre spectacle. The horses go round a track, jumping over increasingly treacherous fences (not least Beaches Brooke or whatever it’s called), with the added danger that should any of them land wrong, they’ll be taken out back, shot

Goodbye England's Rose

and turned into a rather expensive tub of glue.

And I’m sure ‘horsey’ people will think I’m being distasteful, but I think as an outsider looking in I have a point. The Grand National is essentially a Death Race. Horses get ‘put down’ every year after this particular race, and yet they still go ahead with it. If there was a similarly dangerous race involving humans, it would be banned.

I put money on a horse called Synchronised. It was one of the favourites going in (which is why I put money on it), but before the race started, it got spooked and wandered off. Clearly this horse had a Final Destination moment, seeing it’s own demise before it happened. Now, if it was a human who had a nervous breakdown shortly before running a 100m dash at the Olympics, they’d be advised not to race. Not the horse though; it was put back in the race with its horrible little driver sitting atop it, only to break its leg and then be put down.

And then of course we had to watch on as Claire Balding was doing her best impression of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler after Owen Hart died at Over the Edge 1999. She must have known there was a good-to-great chance that a horse would die, so it should hardly have come as a surprise. Hell, she was even dressed in black.

Since then we’ve had an outpouring of grief unseen since the death of Diana. Today’s People newspaper ran with an R.I.P. Syndicate front page. Good Lord! As for the other horse that died? Who cares, it wasn’t an ex-Gold Cup Winner. Hypocrisy or what?

As I say, the whole thing is just utterly weird.

But don’t mistake me for some sort of animal rights activist, because I’m not. I don’t really care too much about it, but I imagine the horsey people actually care more about the horses’ wellbeing than the type of people who will be up in arms about it, harping on about how it should be banned, while they watch only one race a year and spend the rest of that time not giving the remotest of tosses.

Britain’s Got Double Standards

Britain’s Got Talent has been pretty average this year, and last night was no exception.

Now I know I’m instantly treading in murky waters here with what I’m about to say…

But I really did not like the first act on the show – the one with the 5 gay guys in the sailor costumes. In fact, I thought it was totally unsuitable for family viewing.

They were singing about opening their portholes and cleaning their poop decks for entry. We all know what that means. Now I know that you might bring up Carry On films as an example of similar bawdy campness, but this was far more openly vulgar. If you had a straight bloke openly referring to his own sexual predilections as part of an act on a talent show, it would be instantly frowned upon. Similarly, it would be cut from the show if two blokes were talking about how they ‘Wouldn’t kick Alesha Dixon out of bed’, because it would be considered as objectifying women and utterly crass (and that would also be absolutely right).

So there are some serious double standards going on there. As one person said to me when I questioned whether it was OK to comment on this in this article, they said that “it’s extreme comedic sexual stereotype. Basically cheap laughs with some pretty bawdy humour, all hiding behind a claim of freedom of expression.” And that’s a fair point.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for everything, but is that time on Britain’s foremost ‘family entertainment show’?

It’s not just that that’s bugged me about BGT this week – it’s their new love of twitter. Amazingly a TV show has managed to catch on to the twitter phenomenon AFTER Vince McMahon’s WWE (speaking of which, that heated pull-apart with Cena & Lesnar was great on RAW, while the ‘Blast from the Past’ Smackdown was a load of tripe).

If any of you watch WWE, you’ll know that their love of twitter and trending is invasive and irritating; well BGT goes a step further as it actually tries to start its own trends by telling you what to ‘hash tag’. Just fuck off with your twitter pish already. That ship sailed two years ago.

Like most weeks though, the real entertainment with BGT is actually on its sister show ‘…More Talent’, which is hosted by the highly underrated Stephen Mulhern. A few weeks ago we had the old cockney geezer with his ‘What a Nightmare’ rap, and last night there was a guy on singing in the style of that irritating X Factor/BGT Scary Voiceover Man.

At least that was actually entertaining.

Football – The Scottish Cup Semi Finals

So the treble is dead for Celtic. What a shame.

And instantly with that some of you will brandish me either a Rangers fan or a Rangers sympathiser.

Neither is true. I dislike both clubs equally. I’m a Dundee United fan; that’s how we roll.

But if there’s one thing I hate as a football fan it’s unsportsmanlike conduct. And the King of Unsportsmanlike Conduct is Neil Lennon. As a disclaimer, I feel that I have to say that some of the things Neil Lennon has had to go through – death threats, bombs in the post etc – are absolutely unacceptable. But we’ve created a climate where it now becomes difficult to be able to publicly criticise him for the faults that he clearly does possess as Celtic manager.

He seems like a nice enough guy away from the stress of the game, and when Celtic are winning he’s gracious enough and level-headed. But a worse loser I have never seen in my life. Come to think of it, I think I said that after Celtic’s Cup Final loss to Kilmarnock too.

As we are all told, Celtic always get the decisions against them. Today, Hearts got given a penalty which – by the rules of the game – was correct. Yes, it was harsh, but it was correct. And Celtic lost the game. What does Neil “I can win the Champions League” Lennon do? He storms onto the pitch and unleashes a torrent of abuse at the ref in full view of everyone. The guy needs to get a grip.

He was so angry that – at the time of writing at least – he hasn’t many any public comment on the matter, but you know he probably will.

So before Celtic go on about the decisions going against them, let’s all take a moment to remember that the goal they scored was offside. But some Celtic fans won’t be having that. I was told on twitter this afternoon that the goal wasn’t offside, and that everyone who says it is is ‘Rangers Minded’. You can’t make this stuff up.

But let’s not just focus on Celtic. Well done to Hearts for making the cup final, and it’ll be a great occasion for everyone involved – including the neutral – to see them play Hibs in the final. But it’s a final that should be played at Murrayfield.

And also, credit where it is due to Aberdeen’s Rory Fallon. What…a…goal!

Gaming

I’ve actually played some games this week!

Of note, the latest one I’ve played is Fez, a supposed 10/10 2d Pixelated platform game out on XBLA.

It seems OK good so far, but it’s clearly massively up its own arse when it comes to trying to be ‘retro’, and so that automatically takes a few points off it for my liking.

If I deem it worthy enough, I might do a full review in the future.

Hot Off The Press

Neil Lennon just tweeted to say he feels the refereeing decisions against Celtic are ‘personal’, presumably against him.

Jesus…

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