Category Archives: Television

The Problem with Twitter

Dear T

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about:

(I’m sure everyone is sick of me banging on about the Bake Off but this is just my starting point (and the source of all my ideas, apparently), so bear with me.)

Each week whilst watching GBBO I have become aware of something unsettling. Here’s some background: I am a keen Twitter user, a Tweeter I suppose. I’ll have Twitter open on my phone and will check it multiple times a day to keep me updated with all the important stuff. I’ll also absent-mindedly scroll through it when watching certain TV shows just to see what other people are saying. It’s a bad habit, I’ll admit, but I’m a millennial and this is what we do.

Anyway, so there I am, watching Mary and Paul judge a batch of cakes, when I notice a common theme on my Twitter feed. And I do not like what I see.

Wow Candice on GBBO is all kinds of annoying

Why is Candice baking in heels?! Gurl I hope you trip and your roulade smushes everywhere

Love it when Candice gets negative feedback!! Can’t stand her smug face

Candice’s jaw must ache with all that pouting she does.

And then it becomes more sinister:

How do Mary and Paul stand so close to Candice without slapping the shit out of her for that fucking pout

Cannot bear Candice on GBBO. And Paul needs to stop treating her with kid gloves cause he wants her buns

Swear Candice must be playing with Paul’s willy, can’t stand her.

These tweets weren’t hard to find and are just a cross section of the Candice-hatred. But why Candice? I ask myself. I don’t hate her. I don’t think she’s ‘smug.’ She isn’t rude or racist or conceited. She’s a good baker. So what’s the problem?

Then it hit me.

She’s young, she’s female. The dots begin to join up.

She’s attractive = she must be sleeping with Paul Hollywood.

She wears lipstick = the pout.

She’s good at what she does = smug.

These tweets aren’t about her skills, but her appearance. Candice isn’t the model of the Wholesome British Baker that we are used to and expect so she must be torn down.

I remember a few years ago the same treatment was given to Bake Off contestant Ruby Tandoh. She, too, was accused of sleeping with Paul Hollywood. Because of course, how else could she possibly progress through the competition otherwise? She’s young and attractive so she must use her body. I follow Ruby on Twitter and I have to say she is one of the most intelligent, witty, and outspoken (in the best possible way) public figures I can think of. She’s also gay; ‘p.s. for those who thought I fancied Paul Hollywood or that I’d ever bang him to get ahead – Joke’s on you, you massive shitting misogynists.’

It isn’t just the blatant sexism that bothers me here, but the creepy keyboard warriors who take part in the abuse. It’s become a normal part of life now. But when did it become ok for someone to receive death threats from strangers for wearing lipstick?

When Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint the other day, Tweeters were expressing their discontent that she wasn’t actually killed. I wonder what percentage of these people actually know Kim? As a friend, a mother, a sister? I’d bet none.

I see West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher as the victim of almost daily harassment against people who are miffed that she didn’t leave the theatre through the stage door or because she chose to cover a song which other people don’t think she should have covered. These people put all their energy into making her feel as small and remoseful as possible. And they succeed.

Twitter has become a dark place full of cyberbullies and trolls who use their computer screens to protect themselves. It’s scary and I wonder how far it will go. Does the world really need anymore hate?

Tom Clarke, the lead singer of The Enemy, sums it up perfectly. He quit Twitter two years ago and when asked why he said:

Our tour is selling exceptionally well in a difficult climate for our genre, and yet all I want to do is leave music, for the sake of my mental well-being, because of a few bullies, but also because of an entire industry’s complete unwillingness to challenge the behaviour of those people and hold them to account.

The sad thing is, whether you like my music or not, I can’t be the only one. How many musicians will we drive away by failing to recognise and deal with this abhorrent behaviour?”

I really hope that the problem is fixed before that happens, but in all honesty I’m not sure that it will be.

Lots of love

Alex xoxo

Advertisements

Have your cake and eat it too

Dear T

I hope you had a great summer. I’m finally back in London for good after a summer away; I was lucky enough to spend a week in Lake Como, followed by a week in Amsterdam, followed by five weeks in America! It was amazing but it’s good to be home, with my earl grey tea and three pronged sockets and of course the Great British drizzle.

Speaking of which, while I was away I was absolutely distraught to realise that I couldn’t watch the first two episodes of the most quintessentially British series on television there has EVER been, that is, The Great British Bake Off (#GBBO). I love it with all my heart, but even so I am still genuinely stumped as to why this programme is so popular. Last year’s final pulled in around 15 million viewers, as many as the World Cup final! 15 million people watching a baking show?! A show where normal people – not even celebs – make bread and cake for a little old lady and a random scouse to nibble on. (This reminds me – check out my favourite Tumblr of all time)It’s more than a tv programme. It’s a way of life.

Anyway, yesterday I was a little depressed to learn that BBC have lost the rights to GBBO. Sources have said that the beeb were £10million short of keeping the most BBC-y programme there has ever been. That’s greed if ever I saw it (and I am an avid watcher of a baking show).

First we lose David Bowie, then Brexit happens, NOW THIS. 2016 has been a shocker for our little island.

Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 13.57.26.png

I know how u feel Mary

I wonder what percentage of the people crying this week about BBC losing GBBO also whined and moaned about the licence fee last week. And so we examine the gloriousness of the love/hate relationship between the people and the beeb.. I’m talking about the people who want to watch the programmes and use iPlayer with NO adverts, but find it absolutely outrageous that they are asked for a contribution. Because of course, everyone knows BBC have a giant money tree behind Broadcasting House that they use to pay for everything. They only ask for the licence fee to test how dumb the nation are so that they can eventually put their new reality tv show, Britian’s Got Talent Stupid into production. Funny how no-one makes a peep when Netflix or Sky ask for dollar, but when BBC food is taken down because the money tree is drying up, everyone is up in arms.

I’m hopeful it will be revealed that Boris Johnson is the chairman of Love Productions. It will explain the ridiculousness of the decision and we can all get on with our lives. But for now we are to accept that BBC haven’t been able to cough up the dough (tehe) and Channel 4 has gained the rights to GBBO. When I think of C4, I think of a middle-aged lady trying to be hip and ‘down with the kids’. I think of reality tv, nudity, and Hollyoaks. I can’t wait for the first C4 episode:


Previousy on GBBO…

Mel+Sue: Hello and welcome to GBBO. We have a sick show for you today.

Ad Break.

Mel+Sue: Welcome back. Here are some huns makin cakes using only ingredients they foraged yesterday.

Clip of cake. Product placement.

Ad Break.

Mel+Sue: Call in to vote for your favourite contestant. Here are the bakers and the numbers you need to call.

Ad break.

Mel+Sue: The votes are in. The person leaving the tent is……………..(long pause for tension building purposes)…… Simon. See u next week.

End Titles.


There hasn’t been a GBBO scandal like this since Deborah stole Howard’s custard and #BinGate. The icing on the cake (lol) is that now there are rumours flying around that Mary and Paul won’t return to the show. WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END. I know it’s just a baking show. But for many of us it’s the best thing about bleak September, especially after the crumby year this country has had (sorry). I desperately knead to squeeze in some more baking puns, it’s the yeast I could do (so sorry).

What do you think? Am I being overdramatic?*

(ans: yes.)

Hopefully see you soon!

Alex xoxo

UPDATE: minutes after posting this Sue and Mel have QUIT Bake Off. My heart really cannot cope with anything else. I’m going to go and comfort eat some jaffa cakes.

Love Island

Dear T

The last six months really have flown by. It feels like you were only settling into the Spanish way of life five minutes ago, yet here we are, already midway through June. Looking forward to hearing what’s next in store once your feet are firmly back on the ground in this neck of the (dreary) English woods.

While you’ve been cavorting about in the sun, I’ve been losing myself in Hampstead Heath, disposing of drowned squirrels (I don’t want to talk about it), and preparing for the long awaited Summer Vacation (details TBA).

However, there’s something else I’ve been doing. Something that I’m not particularly keen on admitting. Something that I’ve been devoting myself to for an hour each weeknight (and Sundays) for the last three weeks.

I am a Love Island addict.

The first step is acceptance.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not even ashamed. I love Caroline Flack, Iain the voiceover guy, the ridiculous tasks, the unnecessary drama, and the countless couplings/uncouplings. It’s an hour a day of mind-numbing, wonderful, outrageous filth.

I’m not going to pretend that I watch it for any other reason than for pure, uncomplicated enjoyment. (I have two Whatsapp groups with two different sets of friends dedicated solely to the discussion of Love Island.) However, surprisingly, it has given me a lot to think about. I know. Who’d have thought.

As you may be aware, one of the Love Island contestants this year, 20 year old Zara Holland, is the current Miss Great Britain. Or should I say was, because her naughty antics in the villa (she had sex. Just like everyone in the villa) have cost her the crown.

The big cheeses at Miss Great Britain announced this to the entire nation (before they told Zara, which I thought was a particularly cute move). Their statement said:

We pride ourselves on promoting the positivity of pageants in modern society and this includes the promotion of a strong, positive female role model in our winners.

The feedback we have received from pageant insiders and members of the general public is such that we cannot promote Zara as a positive role model moving forward.

So there we go. The pageant, which has no qualms in judging who looks sexiest in a bikini, have washed their hands of their winner because she had sex. Is it just me, or is this totally damaging a century of progress? It’s basically implying that it’s ok to objectify women for the male gaze, but it isn’t ok for her to do what she wants with her own body.

A hundred and fifty years ago, this kind of ‘misbehaviour’ would have resulted in electroshock therapy, brain surgery, a life sentence in a mental institution.

Now, I’m not saying the consequences today are at that same horrifying level. However, Miss GB’s reaction does promote a more subtle handling of the same message: a female taking control of her own body is shameful and punishable. Zara Holland was punished and humiliated, not just by those close to her but by Great Britain. One of the saddest parts about Zara’s dismissal is that actually, it was completely apparent that the Miss GB crown was Zara’s whole world. It’s more or less all she talked about. It was her identity.

Well, not anymore.

And why? Because she’s not a ‘strong, positive role model.’

A positive role model wouldn’t have sex because she knows better than to deviate from cultural expectation. A woman who doesn’t just have agency, but uses it for her own wants and desires is not a positive role model. If being a positive role model means living by oppressive rules to fit into some Victorian notion of femininity, then I’m glad not to be one. And I hope, now that she’s had time to process it all, Zara feels the same way.

Because of course, she is not a slag. She was not the only person in that villa to have sex. She is not the only woman in the world who has ever, and will ever have a one night stand. Why should she be showered with judgement while Alex (the man who she had sex with) gets a high five, a pat on the back, a ‘how was she, bro?’ Why did Zara’s friends in the villa shake their heads and tell her she ‘shouldn’t have done that’? Why isn’t Alex ‘slut shamed’ for doing exactly the same thing? Why are there numerous derogatory terms for a female who has sex – slag, whore, etc.- yet not a single male equivalent. (All I can come up with is ‘player’, which, for the boys in my sixth form was a tremendous compliment.) I think we all know the answer to those questions. Hint: inequality still exists.

Maybe I’m asking too much from society.

But I’m not. In fact, I can’t understand why I’m having to ask it at all.

Now I bet you didn’t think a blog entitled ‘Love Island’ would be so heavy! Looking forward to catching up soon. Enjoy Glastonbury, too!

Lots of love

Alex xoxo

ps. watch Love Island