The Greatest Confusion

Can we talk? Like, as if you’ve come over to my house for Friday night dinner or a Saturday lunch and we get into this really loud, interesting and quite heated discussion about films and music? (because anyone who has spent time with me, knows that this is INEVITABLE!)

Ok, good, so, I went to see The Greatest Showman with two 19-year-olds this week and I was a little amazed at how much they enjoyed watching a movie that at points sounded like High School Musical (especially as Zac Efron has one of the leading roles)

Anyway, I digress. You’ll have to get used to that. Especially if I’ve had a Gin & Tonic…

I grew up being privileged enough to have been taken to see Barnum on stage in the West End of London (circa 1981, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and slapstick Michael Crawford played P.T Barnum). Having a ridiculous memory for song lyrics, after having seen the show twice (bless my dear, patient grandparents), I would walk around singing “Come Follow the Band” & “One Brick at a Time” for most of my childhood. I was even treated to a “There is a Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute” t-shirt which I wore obsessively.

It was a magical tale of Barnum & Bailey and the invention of the big top circus, red & yellow tents, elephants & all. It was spectacular – beautiful sights, laughter, music, dancing, trapeze artists and all-round great fun (yes, i’m vegetarian and I love animals. No I dont think elephants should be exploited in circuses. But i was 7. I dont think I had thought about it yet. So dont be offended. Yet. Save that for later.)

Whilst I loved The Greatest Showman (Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams & Zac Efron…what can be bad about that?) and was entertained every minute, it was probably 95% embellishment and 5% (at the most) sticking to the original story. Perhaps the original story wasn’t Hollywood-Exciting enough. Again I digress.

SO, there’s a big ‘Freak Show’ element to the circus where we are meant to get the message that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, it’s what is inside that matters. And there’s this scene where the bearded lady, Keala Settle, sings this beautiful song called ‘This Is Me’ (This clip where she sings it for the first time has me in tears every time I play it. She’s spectacular. And so humble.)

Yes, I found it hard to stop my mind from wandering; I don’t do well with focusing at the best of times (just take this post as an example. I’m nowhere near the point that i am meant to be making. It may be hours before I get there..)

Ok, so the main message of ‘This Is Me’?

“I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me”

It’s a powerful song about acceptance & courage; a battle cry from the rejects of society. Boy do I wish I had people like Keala Settle on my side in school when I was being bullied. But whilst I think its such an uplifting song with such a fantastic message, I had a few issues with it, starting with the fact that the Bearded Lady (aka Lettie Lutz) could have basically got hold of some shaving foam and a razor and solved all her issues. There were people in that show with MUCH bigger issues than her. Like the guy with horns growing out of his head. But this is also not the point, I know I know!…easy on the Gin.

WHAT IS MY POINT?!!!

Here it is:

I don’t know how our kids are meant to know what to think or say anymore. How to be. What to be. What’s ok, what’s not ok. I think they are so confused and I feel sorry for them. They are meant to believe that they should be accepted for who they are and screw anyone who doesn’t like it, yet we try to teach them manners, to be kind and gentle, to have empathy and be polite.

The message is “I’m not scared to be seen” and yet they are bombarded with ads and articles all day every day about what to eat, how to look good, what to buy, what to wear. That it doesn’t matter how much you weigh, but be careful what you eat or you could make yourself ill in a thousand different ways. Confused much? I know I am.

Add into the mix, the fact that people are so micro-offended by absolutely anything & everything. Body shaming, racism, sexism, gender stereo-typing, how public toilet signs are portrayed with skirts and trousers. Things that we grew up never batting an eye-lid at and never having an issue with, EVERYTHING is now an issue. Everything has to be questioned. EVERYTHING is offensive. Everyone is a victim of something, and if they arent, they feel left out. I’m all for the questioning part, the journey of the discovery of who you are. That’s not what I’m debating here. It’s the ‘constantly-being-offended-by-everything’ part that is wearing me down. It’s all just too much and happening too fast to process.

Parents are deciding not to announce the gender of their babies, in case the kid may grow up to be upset that they called them a ‘girl’ or a ‘boy’. There have been complaints about the way the old James Bond movies were made; at how JAMES Bond should be played by women too. JAMES BOND… as in, the male character written by Ian Fleming in the 1950’s. James Bond, the son of a Scottish father, Andrew and a Swiss mother, Monique. Bond, who attends Eton college and becomes a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, ending the war as a commander. Fleming points out that his books were written for “warm-blooded heterosexuals” and he made no apologies for this (he would most certainly be made to apologise today). The Bond character is now criticised for being an awful person – sexist, homophobic and racist.

Fleming said in a 1964 Playboy interview that he did not consider his character to be particularly evil or good:

“I don’t think that he is necessarily a good guy or a bad guy. Who is? He’s got his vices and very few perceptible virtues except patriotism and courage, which are probably not virtues anyway … But I didn’t intend for him to be a particularly likeable person…he is a healthy, violent, non-cerebral man in his middle-thirties, and a creature of his era. I wouldn’t say he’s particularly typical of our times, but he’s certainly of the times.”

I just can’t see where this all is going to end.. ( I dont mean this blog post. It will end. I swear)

James Bond isn’t politically correct enough, Barnum gets spun into a story about the Protector of the Outcasts because Hollywood knows how to capitalise on our insecurities (when really he was a charismatic con-man who didn’t care all that much about them & just exploited them all for the sake of his own pockets.)

And then they come at Ed.

Ed bloody Sheeran.

One of the greatest song writers & performers the industry has ever known. EVER.

The man who wrote ‘Nancy Mulligan’, ‘Thinking out Loud’, ‘Castle on the Hill’, ‘What do I know’, ‘All of the Stars’….? He wins best pop vocal album & best pop solo performance for ’Shape Of You’ at the Grammys on Sunday night and the trolls were out in their thousands! Why? Because he’s a MAN. Because women who were also nominated that night had written deeper songs about their hardships and deeper suffering and they didn’t win and its NOT FAIR (And I saw Kesha’s electric performance, I know what her song is about. Believe me I am not belittling her life for a SECOND).

And as for Lady Gaga? Her latest album blew me away; I love it and i’m amazed at her she has transformed herself from the days when she sang ‘Do what you want with my body’ (the cover of the single featured her booty and a flowery thong)

“Sometimes I’m scared I suppose, If you ever let me go I would fall apart, If you break my heart, So just take my body, And don’t stop the party…”

 

WHAAAAAATTTTTT? What are you trying to teach your audience?!?

Leaving that question aside because I can feel you rolling your eyes at me and begging me to wrap this up, Ed’s song is about loving the shape of a woman’s body and that’s apparently INSULTING? Lady Gaga can stick her butt on the cover of an album but we can’t mention that’s an issue because….?

EXCUSE ME????
What exactly is insulting about Ed’s lyrics??

Can we all just STOP THE UTTER MADNESS for just a minute and realise what we are creating here. We are not creating a generation of #METOO or #TIMESUP. We are creating one of #WHYNOTME, #LOOKATMELOOKATME, #IMOFFENDED and #ITSNOTFAIR

Now don’t get me wrong. I think Ed’s tune is brilliant, the way he raps & sings it it genius, but I certainly wouldn’t pick it as one of my top 10 favourite Ed songs. Moving along, trying very hard to dodge the laser beams and not be offensive, here’s what Ed says about the woman’s body:

“I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body”

“I’M IN LOVE WITH YOUR BODY”

He doesn’t say “your tiny body”, “your huge body”, “your very muscled body” – NOTHING. Just her body.

So now that’s a problem too? She’s not allowed to have a body that he loves? Is she allowed to have a body at all? She could have put on 20 kilos in the last year, what do we know? And what do we CARE?!

He certainly doesn’t!! He just expresses his feelings for her. And yet he gets ripped to pieces.

Because Sunday’s Grammys were turned into a platform for the ‘Time’s Up’ movement, which is an incredibly important  call for change that raises money for those affected by sexual misconduct and assault. But THAT’S NOT FAIR. Because that’s not what Sunday’s awards were MEANT to be about. People were not supposed to be awarded Grammys according to how much inequality, discrimination harassment or abuse of power they had been subjected to.

And to pick on Ed Sheeran for winning because he is a bloke who wrote a song about falling for a girl in a bar is just a load of old codswallop and quite frankly, bullying. Anyone who’s anyone, knows what an incredible lyricist Sheeran is; this particular song doesn’t do him justice at all, but that is neither here nor there.

Perhaps he saw all that coming & that’s the reason why he decided not to show up and stayed home with his cat instead.


As I sat reading Roald Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ to my 5 year old at bed-time last night, I thought about the irony of it all. Of this generation of Micro-Offended People.

In 1983, Dahl announced in the New Statesman that Hitler had his reasons for exterminating six million Jews.

“There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity”, he said. “I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason..If you and I were in a line moving towards what we knew were gas chambers, I’d rather have a go at taking one of the guards with me; but they were always submissive,”

said Dahl of Jews murdered in Nazi death camps.

According to today’s standards, I shouldn’t be micro-offended, I should be macro-offended to the point of printing t-shirts, making hashtags and burning his books in one huge, Whoopsy-wiffling, bonfire.

And yet, they continue to be amongst some of my most favourite books of all time.

Because who has time for all that hate and negativity towards an eccentric, bigot who is dead? Why cut off my nose to spite my face by banishing his brilliant books from my house? Not worth the aggro.

Go figure.
I’m taking a breath now.
And a sip of my gin & tonic.
Maybe I’ll even eat something off my plate too.
Rant over. Your turn to talk….if we are still friends.

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