Thursday, December 30, 2010

Daily Mail Special: Gay Man Writes Homophobic Column!

Oh dear. This one should honestly come with it's own little paper sick bags. So time for a line-by-line.

"The Mail's ANDREW PIERCE is both adopted and gay. But that doesn't stop him saying... Why I'm repelled by Elton and his partner's grotesque selfishness

Really? Are you Andrew? Is your best friend also black and has he granted to express permission to use the n-word? Sorry doesn't work like that. One of the things about equality is that even though you're both adopted and gay - you still might be a bigoted scumbag. Or worse - you could even be a columnist for the Daily Mail...

"The title of an infamous fly-on-the wall documentary made in 1997 about Sir Elton John was Tantrums And ­Tiaras. It tells you almost everything you need to know about this showbusiness diva."

It's a film. Made by a documentary maker (called David Furnish) - no-one thinks a documentary where he just pops out for milk and watches Midsummer Murders is going to make it to TV. At best it presents a tiny snapshot of his life and at worst it's essentially a carefully-planned publicity stunt.

"One minute he was flouncing off a tennis court in the south of France and demanding a private jet home because a fan had the temerity to greet him publicly."

Flouncing? Is that a homophobic word for "walking"? And he was upset, he left the tennis court and said he wanted to go home.

"The next he was threatening to walk out shortly before another sell-out concert. ‘I’m sick of these shows,’ he raged."

And is a pop star not allowed to hate their job once in a while and not be in the mood for it.

"The decision to become a father appears to be another grotesque act of selfishness from Sir Elton who, along with his partner David Furnish, has bought a baby son from a surrogate mother in California for a reputed £100,000"

How terrible - it would have been much better if the surrogate mother had received only £2.50 and a couple of signed albums... The last thing they should be doing is paying the medical bills and making sure she's comfortable during her pregnancy.

"In that film, Elton John came across as ­brilliantly talented — and deservedly so, for he is one of the most gifted musicians and ­performers of his generation."

You discovered he was a talented musician by watching a film? You are officially the least knowledgeable person on the subject of Elton John I have EVER encountered. There are rural herdsmen in sub-saharan Africa who know more about him than you do. So stop judging him.

"But he was also petulant, spoilt and selfish."

Well "spoilt" is really when someone else buys you things you haven't earned. Whatever your view of Elton you can't really deny he made his money himself.

"And it is this side of his character that came to mind when I read this week’s news that Sir Elton, 63, and his partner David Furnish, 48, have bought a baby son from a surrogate mother in California for a reputed £100,000."

Mmmm - so you heard a gay couple were starting a family and you immediately started to think about negative aspects of their personas? I think that's called prejudice. Well done.

"I have no doubt of the couple’s ‘over­whelming’ happiness and joy at the arrival of their son. I am quite certain that the child’s unorthodox parentage — he was born to an unidentified surrogate mother who had ­carried the child after being implanted with a donor egg from another mystery woman — will prove no barrier to the love the couple will ­lavish on him."

When you say "unidentified" and "mystery" you mean you don't know who they are don't you? I think David, Elton and when he's older, the child, will be fully aware of these people's identity. And anyway so bloody what?! There are plenty of awful uncaring "orthodox" parents - which incidentally is code for "had a fuck".

"Yet I can’t help feeling that his decision to become a father is another grotesque act of selfishness from Sir Elton, and that the child is a little Christmas bauble he and his partner have awarded themselves. How telling it is that he was born on Christmas Day."

What evidence do you have for this? One of the two partners once shouted at a documentary camera-man. How does this make them the new Fritzls?

"As far back as 2001 Sir Elton admitted that he was too old for fatherhood, He told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet: ‘I have come to the conclusion that it is too late for me. Had it been 20 years ago, then I would ­definitely have done it. I don’t want to be 70 years old when my daughter turns 16.’"

Mmm and he changed his mind. He would be the first person ever. Also this decision was made by two people, not one. If might well be David Furnish who was keen to have a child.

"Yet he will now be 79, not 70, when his son turns 16."

Yes but David Furnish will be only 64. Maths alert!

"It was once his wish to adopt a child, rather than create his own, but can you imagine any respectable agency even contemplating ­placing a baby with a man who will be collecting his state pension in only 15 months time?"

Well how about one that had a lot of needy children and a shortage of loving homes to place them in. And if you really watched the whole of that film you might have figured out he probably won't need to collect his state pension.

"So why should he be allowed to buy one?"

He didn't just start bidding for them on Surrogacy is a long and complicated process, to describe it as "buying a baby" makes it sound like a livestock market. What next: baby futures?

"Sir Elton once admitted that he was too busy for fatherhood and spent too much time travelling."

And you think we should ban anyone who says they're busy from becoming a parent? Is that it?

"Yet next month he embarks on a 26-date tour of the U.S. and Europe and is unlikely to take his turn on nappy duty. The happy couple will, as normal, host their Oscars party in Hollywood in February."

So parents shouldn't work or have parties? OK lets get that one into law shall we? And 26 days is less than a month.

"Perhaps Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John will make his first appearance on the red carpet."

Right exactly - for all we know Elton plans to spend time with the child during the tour too, he can certainly afford to have him with him if he wants.

"Let me make my position clear. I am a gay man and I believe same sex couples should be allowed to adopt or have their own children — although I think that in ideal ­circumstances a child should be brought up by a mother and father."

Not making yourself very clear here. Either you disapprove of same sex couples having children or you believe children should be brought up in settings which are not to your mind "ideal".

"I have two very good male friends who are in a civil partnership and have adopted a little girl. They will make wonderful parents not least because they are absolutely ­committed to each other, but also because one of them has given up his job to be a full-time parent."

So these are the new rules - one parent must stay home? And while Elton is touring is there any evidence that David won't be looking after the child? Or is it different rules for anyone you've seen a short film about and taken a dislike to?

"So what of Sir Elton? In many ways, he is to be admired. He has spent millions of pounds of his own money on his Aids foundation. He has successfully battled against drink and drug addiction."

Indeed, yet you're still judging him based on a brief documentary in which you thought he "flounced".

"The warm public reaction to his civil ­partnership with David Furnish underlined his status as one of ­Britain’s most popular singers. He still tops the charts after a career spanning four decades."

But we're just the great British public right? If we like someone we're idiots but if you decide to hate someone because of some aspect of their personal life that's ok?

"But he is also an ageing, ­pampered, self-indulgent millionaire — look at the absurd names he and Furnish have given the poor child, for ­heaven’s sake!"

The kid's called Zachary. It's a relatively common biblical name. In 2008 it was the 72nd most common boy's name in the UK. In fact it's ideal because names in the top ten can mean kids end up with three in their class at school.

"And it is the nagging suspicion that Elton — a man who is by nature an obsessive — has simply acquired a son to satisfy his latest fixation that I find repellent."

Well if his "fixation" was that he wanted a kid - what better reason to have one. What other reason is there for having a kid? Broken condom? Shortage of chimney-cleaning staff?

"Forget the media circus that will ­surround this poor little rich boy for the rest of his life."

Yes - and what's more Andrew - YOU'RE IT. You are the media circus. Leave them alone.

"What really ­disturbs me is the selfishness of a world where it’s apparently ­acceptable for women in their 60s to pay for expensive IVF or for ­superstars who, in a parody of ­consumerism, ‘buy’ children from ­African orphanages as they think the normal rules don’t apply to them."

And the "normal" rules are what exactly? No babies without unprotected sex? Those are dead stupid rules and in no way guarantee quality parenting.

"But those rules — honed over ­thousands of years — do matter."

On the contrary the idea of people who are not the direct biological parents raising a child has been around for ever. Adopting a child and having a child raised by more distant relatives (grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc) is as old as the hills.

"And Rule Number One is that, by and large, a child needs a loving mother and father."

A child needs one or more loving parents.

"Rule Number Two is that a child needs to know where he or she comes from and what their genetic identity is. Two stories in the Mail this week highlight these truths."

I'm not sure this child won't know their genetic identity? All we know is that YOU don't know it. And many adopted children decide not to trace their birth parents when the opportunity arrives, I've not seen any evidence to suggest that is a "rule".

"There was a survey published ­yesterday from the Prince’s Trust, which concluded that young men with no male role models in their lives, and women without a mother figure, are hugely disadvantaged in life."

Firstly we should bear in mind that many of the benefits of having two parents (who for obvious reasons are likely to be one male and one female) are financial. But also this kid has not one but TWO male role models in his life. So presumably he's better off than a lot of kids.

"Then there was the poignant story of Pat Fitzgerald who, wrapped in blankets with a dummy in her mouth, was abandoned on the steps of a Cardiff hotel when she was only five weeks old."

Hankies out...

"Now, 71 years after that act of unimaginable cruelty, Mrs ­Fitzgerald, in a desperate bid to fill the huge hole in her life, is trying to discover her true identity, even though she was brought up as an only child by devoted ­adoptive parents."

Right - but lots of adopted children don't feel the urge to do that.

"I ached when I read about the yawning chasm she still feels in her life even though she has four ­children of her own."

But do we know whether she wouldn't have felt a gaping chasm if she'd been raised by her biological parents? We'd probably want to look at a slightly wider survey than one woman.

"But then I know something of Mrs Fitzgerald’s agony. I was ­christened Patrick Connolly in Bristol and spent the first two years of my life in a ­Catholic ­orphanage in Cheltenham."

Oh and you've picked a single example that backs up your own personal experience. This theory just doesn't say "will pass peer review" to me.

"My birth mother — a single woman — used to visit, but there was no place then for a single mother and her son to be together in the harsh moral climate of ­Sixties Britain."

Yes and your paper is trying to return to that harsh moral climate with its continued attacks on single mothers and the benefits they need.

"My salvation came in the form of a working class married couple. They already had three of their own ­children, but very little money."

Having kids when you've not got much money - the Daily Mail hates that. See this story, now taken down from their website (hopefully for being obnoxious and ludicrous) but available on an archiving site..

"But they had lots of love to give and they travelled to the ­orphanage for two hours on the bus each ­weekend. I’m glad they came. They adopted me a couple of months later and I will always be ­profoundly ­grateful to them for their love and support."

Check the start of your own article you say you have no doubt Elton and David with "lavish" love on their child. I assume "lavish" is homophobic for "give".

"Today, I regard them as my real parents, but I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t admit that I still wonder about my birth mother and father."

Wondering isn't quite the same as feeling a gaping chasm as you claim Mrs Fitzgerald does. So no consistent experience.

"So imagine the demons that could plague Elton John’s little boy with his unconventional parentage. Apart from the surrogate mother carrying the egg of another woman, there’s the question of who’s the father."

Unlike you, this child will be raised by his biological father. So whatever demons he ends up with "why isn't my biological father raising me?" is off the list.

"Just what is Elton going to say to him when he’s a troubled 16-year-old and asks: ‘Daddy, where did I come from?’ Imagine the chasm in that boy’s life."

Well I'm guess Elton and David will, err, answer the question. Obviously lets not forget Elton will be 235 years old by then so maybe he'll just say "where's me biscuit?"... I mean seriously if you're going to criticise older parents - make the most of it!

"As an adopted gay man, I have no interest in having children of my own — although I don’t ­denigrate those who want to."

Yes you do - see every other line in this article.

"Let’s hope Elton John’s son gets the same chances that I had, which had nothing to do with money. My parents had little of that."

Are you actually claiming only the poor should have children? That's significantly out of line with your paper's editorial policy...

"What they offered instead was the love and support of an ordinary, hard-working couple who were always there for their children."

Well if they were always there - they weren't as hard-working as all that. You can't be in two places at once.

"How often will Sir Elton be there for his son?"

Well given his enormous wealth and propensity to demand what he wants when he wants it, even if it means walking away from fans and paid work, I'd have to say: as often as he wants to be.

Argh! Daily Mail Fail (as usual)

And there was me thinking I wasn't angry enough for the day, thanks Daily Mail!

First up Giles Coren has written a relatively reasonable piece about the shortage of women in the comedy DVD charts. I agree with a fair few of his points although it is frustrating that he says that women comics "tend to avoid accusations of sexism because they don’t want to sound like they’re whingeing" and then doesn't bother to address the fact that the real problem might be, erm, sexism, or indeed uber-sexism to the point where a woman can't even mention the s-word without being criticised for it! Also - and I hope this is a failed attempt at humour - he says "the Christmas television schedule: endless male comedy and not so much as a snort from the girls, unless you count the last episode of Miranda." In what sense is Miranda Hart NOT a woman? Has there been a rule change? I have a vagina, am I still in?*

Anyway he says in the middle he generally find women funnier than men and goes on to rave about his regular co-star Sue Perkins and how hilarious she is. Yet somehow the Daily Mail saw fit to title this article "So why aren't there any FUNNY women comics any more?". which implies that there are hundreds of female comics out there being offered DVD deals and their own shows, but sadly they're all rubbish. But I can't find a stand-up DVD by a woman on sale right now. Releasing a DVD is a huge deal - it requires planning and marketing. It's not a case of writing some funny jokes and wandering round the circuit until someone offers you a deal - deals are done years in advance and then promotional tours organised, posters, TV and radio appearances... In Edinburgh this year one magazine gave my panel show 5 stars and John Bishop's solo show 2 stars. But he got the Wembley Stadium gigs and the DVD deal. What gives? It has to be systematic sexism that means no women are getting to produce stand-up DVDs. How can we be dismissing as rubbish a group of DVDs that DOESN'T EXIST. Doh!

Anyway it gets worse.

Isabelle Caro - the French model whose emaciated body was at one point used to highlight eating disorders - has died. And the Mail chooses to mention that she blamed her disorder on her "difficult childhood". They mention NO OTHER contributing factors to eating disorders.

Now... Read down the headlines on the right hand side of the page:

Look out Posh! Now Geri Halliwell makes her fashion design debut with her own swimwear range. And she modelled line for next.

Lose TWO INCHES of festive flab by tomorrow - and look svelte for New Year. Feeling bloated after the Christmas festivities? Help is at hand.

That's not going to help your diet! Michael McIntyre takes his lookalike sons out for lunch. Family outing to McDonalds.

"My husband says he'll divorce me if I get fat". While SAMANTHA BRICK was poorly with an upset tummy, Pascal kept reminding her that she'll be losing weight.

Elisabetta Canalis's bikini can't shore up much support as she emerges from the sea... revealing a little too much.

Beaming Kate Moss can't hide her excitement as she and Jamie Hince jet off for New Year's holiday. Couple heading for Phuket in Thailand.

Kourtney Kardashian reveals slimming secrets after beating her sisters in diet battle. She's lost 3st 2lb.

And nine of the photos down the side of the website feature women in revealing bikinis/beachwear. None of them with any visible "flab".

Isn't it time to quit the faux concern and admit the Daily Mail itself is part of the problem?

*Two footnotes here: (1) There are some women comics with big enough ovaries to point at sexism and go "oh look - it's sexism". See, erm, my solo show, my blog, my career, etc. (2) Yes there are some female acts who tend to get drowned out on panel shows. But women are not all alike, we're not a "genre" actually. If you have a panel show, and you want to look all liberal and modern and not like a douchbag, call me - I will be more than happy to interrupt all the guys, be hilarious and rip Frankie Boyle a new one, the only question is what shall we do AFTER lunch?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Column in Management Today

I had a little column published in Management Today about me and the comedy circuit. It's part of a bigger article about the business of comedy and how money is made, etc. I am mostly excited about being cartoon-ised!! But if you click on it you get a bigger version and you can read what I wrote too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When Is Prostitution Not Prostitution?

This interview from the BBC with a woman who works as an "escort" - selling sex - makes for very uncomfortable viewing. But it also serves to highlight one of the big problems with finding solutions to the abuses and horrors of the industry.

First of all the woman being interviewed insists that she is not a prostitute (or prostituted woman as many survivors prefer to be known) but an escort. When asked what the difference is she explains that (1) she worked indoors on the streets and that (2) she didn't wear high boots. Later she describes being physically forced to have unprotected sex against her will. The interviewer (less than tactfully) suggests "that's rape" and she responds saying she didn't see it that way because she was paid.

Now evidently what is happening is that she is in deep deep denial of what she goes through. But this is totally unsurprising - people in unbearable situations develop multiple personalities issues to allow them to "be someone else" during the awful bits. We know that many rape victims convince themselves that what they have experienced isn't rape as a coping mechanism. Should we be surprised that victims of repeated systematic rape and other abuses use euphemistic language to help them survive their experiences?

And bear in mind the stigma attached to words like "prostitute" and "rape victim". While men who pay for sex and rapists are often hailed as hyper-masculine. My boxing gym still has Mike Tyson's face on the wall and Wayne Rooney still plays top flight football and appears with his glamourous "WAG" wife in magazines like "Hello".

We have to distinguish however between being respectful to those who have had traumatic experiences and wish to chose their own language to describe them and those who are in fact defending the "right" of abusers to carry on abusing.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Women's Rights Could Actually Save The Planet

Oh dear Peter Preston in The Guardian. Talk about missing the point!!

The thing is that YES - solving the problem of runaway climate change is dependent on limiting and reducing the population. But NO that doesn't mean adopting a China-style one child policy or running around like crazed eugenicists sterilising anyone without a degree. And it also doesn't mean doing away with child benefit. Because (surprise Peter!) child benefit is not paid to encourage people to have children. It's not a reproduction bribe. Who the hell would decide to raise a child for 18 years in return for £15 a week? It's paid to help parents afford to raise their children well. Once you've fed, clothed, housed, educated and entertained your child you're not necessarily going to have much change left to treat yourself to nights out and designer clothes...

But here's the good news. There are millions of women around the world and right here at home who desperately want to have less or no children, to have children later in life and to control their own fertility. Furthermore some of us crazy feminist types actually think it is their right to do so and to be given access to the tools and education to enable them to make those choices in their own lives. We call them reproductive rights.

Free access to and information about contraception - including condoms which also prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs - and abortion are basic rights that every woman should have. All we have to do is provide them.

Of course it's harder than it sounds. We're not up against "crazy" lefties insisting that benefits be made available to enable parents to afford basics for their children. We're not up against "polite" society's refusal to discuss legislation which would force limits and restrictions on women who wanted to have larger families. We're actually mostly up against religion. Organised religion has worked tirelessly to deny women access to contraception, abortion and even to basic sex education and information about how their bodies work and the options available to them to control their own fertility. Religions benefit from encouraging their adherents to have large families, and this plays straight into a huge patriarchal structure that has attempted for centuries to control women, treat them as breeding factories and keep them in the home raising the next generation of brainwashed disciples.

The planet has much to gain from limiting and reducing the population but the mechanism for this needn't be controlling women's fertility - it can be empowering them to control their own fertility.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sleep Crime Rules

Sad that this needs addressing, but it evidently does. If you commit a serious, violent crime but are found innocent because you "did it in your sleep" you are a risk to the public. Until you can demonstrate that medical science can cure you of your sleep criminality you need to remain under medical or police or prison care at all times, especially if you appear to be nodding off.

For some reason it is always men who commit these dream-attacks against women isn't it? The most recent is the murder of Christine Thomas. But we have had similar issues before with sleep-rape (of course check with Whoopi Goldberg, this is different from rape-rape...). James Bilton was cleared of three counts of sleep-rape while his reassuring medical team opined that only 1-2.5% of the population suffered from this condition. So we can all sleep easily knowing that only 1 in 40 guys are liable to rape you in the night and get off scott free. Shame he never bothered to sleep-check-for-consent first.

Well just so you know, I'm developing a dreadful condition where I sleep-take-revenge-for-crimes-committed-by-the-criminally-asleep. If you find me stood over you with a hand gun, I am probably having one of those buying-a-gun-on-the-street-and-shooting-you-in-the-head-dreams. Gosh will I be embarrassed when I wake up...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

NEWSFLASH: Jody McIntyre 3 million times more articulate than news presenter

Now this is how to do a great BBC News interview!

Outside the Man Box

This is ace, you should watch it.