Thursday, February 14, 2008
Look, new dinosaurs! Not those rubbish ones either, these baddies had proper massive teeth, as dinosaurs should, unless they are ginormous herbivorous sauropods which is also acceptable.
"Eocarcharia dinops or "fierce-eyed dawn shark"..... possessed blade-shaped teeth and a prominent bony eyebrow ridge. Unlike Kryptops, its teeth were more suited to attacking live prey and severing body parts.
The Carcharodontosaurids, the group to which Eocarcharia belongs, included predators as big, if not bigger, than Tyrannosaurus rex." (taken from here)
Who needs a valentine when there are new fossills of dinosaurs being discovered! Dinosaurs are scary and awesome and rad, Valentine's Day is a sham holiday created by the purveyors of chocolate and novelty stuffed animals. Valentines are for jerk offs. Dinosaurs just make me happy :)
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
.. When Britney Spears was first unleashed on the world as a perfect, polished, pouting popstrel back in 1998, I was about 11 and in my first year of secondary school, a world away from the perfect, polished, bubblegum princess who was suddenly cavorting on screens everywhere, pouting and preening. She was all over everything I saw - SMTV, MTV, Smash Hits & Top of the Pops magazine, newspapers, tweenie teen mags like J-17 and Sugar. She was one of those popstars that even your older relatives know about and reference to show that they still have their finger on-the-pulse of modern pop culture.
Fast forward almost ten years and as I am sure most of you know, Spears is in the process of having a complete mental breakdown. I'm not sure what gave it away for you - her increasingly erratic behaviour throughout 2007 (photos of her as she stumbled out of various clubs without knickers and completely trashed, perhaps? or that video on youtube where she's clearly on drugs and talks about time travel) might have fired the warning shots, or perhaps you were oblivious until her Richard O'Brien-esque bald look was splashed all over the front pages. But the fact is that, a divorce, a drastic haircut, losing all access rights to her children, and several stints in rehab and psychiatric care later, Britney today is a far cry from the pretty young girl who pranced across our screens back in 1998.
For those of you who choose to avoid the gossip pages like the plague, I'll give you a brief overview of just how far Britney has fallen. I'm sure you're all familiar with the earlier triumphs of Britney's career, and for arguments sake, we will say that her descent began back in late 2006, following her split from Kevin Federline, "K-Fed" to his friends, notorious stoner and renowned waste of space. (Arguably this could be viewed as one of Spears few sensible decisions over the last couple of years, but it provides an opening bracket to a period of self destruction that doesn't seem to be anywhere near its close yet.)
I have to admit that at first, I thought people were being a little harsh on Spears for going out and partying hearty. After all, she had just got out of a marriage that was by all accounts not ideal – why the hell shouldn't she let her hair down a bit? (no pun intended). But then the infamous sans-underwear pictures came out. And then it happened again. And again. Personally, if through some horrific twist of fate I ended up with my most personal and private region splashed all over the front of the tabloids, I would probably never ever leave the house again. I would probably never ever leave my bedroom again; in fact I would seek to live in some secluded place where I never had to encounter humanity, like the Loch Ness monster, or Marlon Brando. I certainly would NOT be rushing out with my new BFF (for 2 weeks) Paris Hilton to do it all over again. Britney, however, seemed to have no qualms about doing so – and it wasn't some weird misguided sexual liberation thing either. The pictures showed her being scooped out of clubs, eyes rolling back into her head, barely able to walk.
After this, things spiralled pretty quickly. There were increasing reports of Britney going to nightclubs and basically making a fool of herself, taking off her clothes, desperately seeking attention, getting horribly wasted. February 16th 2007, she checked into rehab for the first time – and out again, the same day. And then, the infamous haircut.
By this point there was room for very little doubt about the rapidly deteriorating state of the girls mental health, but for anyone who still needed it spelling out, what better way to cement yourself as being a few sandwiches short of a picnic than by shaving all of your signature long hair off? I remember when I heard about her latest display of insanity, I rang my friend to inform him, and he shrieked "You're kidding!" incredulously down the phone, sure that I was winding him up. We all went out that night, didn't sleep, staggered to the Asda at 9am for supplies. I remember thinking at the time that I was glad no strangers cared about me enough to warrant photographers catching me at that particular moment. I bought a copy of the Mirror, Britney's freshly bald head staring out at me – not defiant or rebellious but just plain lost.
A period of yo-yo ing in and out of rehab followed this, along with the complete decimation of any respectability Spears may have had left. Photos of her in a variety of humiliating states underline the fact that this was clearly a woman who should be receiving some major and intensive therapy. She was completely and utterly unravelling. She was a total laughing stock. Yet, unbelievably, a new album was released, and a new single, "Gimme More," despite the fact that she should probably have been taking a very extended career break. However, when there are that many people with a vested financial interest in the career of one woman, her welfare is not going to be the primary concern – not when the cash cow is still ripe for milking. Incredibly, Gimme More was Spears most successful song since "Hit me…" was released. Despite her implosion, there are clearly still immense amounts of money being made from the girl. And paying the price, two little boys, 2 and 3, who are no longer allowed any contact with their mother.
For me, the point where I knew she had actually lost it and that something bad had happened way past the point of no return, was the no knickers incident. Most of the other stuff up to that point could be explained through the lens of history as just the sort of eccentric but glamorous behaviour we forgive in our most cherished of stars – Edie Sedgwick and her heroin, Frances Farmer in a bath at a party and ultimately lobotomised, Marilyn Monroe and her pills and her booze and her affairs, Judy Garland and her childhood amphetamines and chemical romances…… the list goes on. All of these women remain icons to this day despite (or maybe because of) being prodigiously screwed up in a variety of strange and exciting ways. Even among Britney's contemporaries we have Lindsay Lohan (rehab for alcohol addiction after getting caught driving pissed multiple times) Nicole Richie (heroin addict, once upon a time) and Paris Hilton (who has made a living out of allowing herself to be portrayed as some kind of coked up real life Barbie doll) – none of whom have sunk to the depths of depravity that Britney herself has reached.
How does it happen? How does a girl with that many safety nets – that many people desperate to stop her from screwing up, if only to serve their own best interests – manage to so spectacularly implode, in the full glare of the flashbulbs of the worlds media?
I think for most of us, it would require maybe one or 2 photographs of us looking horribly worse for wear stumbling out of clubs before we grew older and wiser and resolved not to get into that state again, at least not anywhere with a multitude of cameras raring to capture our lowest moments to be hungrily devoured by people seeking to escape their own reality and keen to judge. But Britney has lived with those eyes watching her since her teenage years. Her whole adult life has been watched, recorded and systematically dissected by millions of people – that isn't strange for her, that's normality. The paparazzi are as much a natural fixture in her life as managers, family, money, and her relationship with them is seriously weird, hateful of them one day and inviting them to party with her the next. She jostles desperately for the approval and love of faceless masses; both resentful of and unable to live without it.
I went back and watched the video for "Hit me baby one more time" on youtube recently, when the current furore came about. The video and Spears in particular are very sexualised - lots of come hither glances, gyrating hips, a pornified schoolgirl uniform, lots of midrif. Pretty much matches the vague memories I have of it. What was new though, and I would imagine, the result of viewing the video through the eyes of a 20 year old rather than the eyes of an adolescent, was how uncomfortable it made me feel. Everything from the title of the song to the video is selling a glossy, sexed up, faux-virginal fantasy. When it was made, Britney Spears was 16. It made me feel slightly sick.
There is an inherent irony in the fact that a country with a massively vocal religious right, where the age of consent in many places is 18 or higher, gave us one of the most successful breakout pop hits of all time from a 16 year old girl marketed based on her sex appeal. Symbolic perhaps of the hypocrisy of a culture that would preach so strongly against any deviance from rigid conservative right wing values yet simultaneously exploit a child for all that she is worth.
The celebrity culture that we endorse puts people up on a pedestal and then pulls it out from beneath them, rejoicing as they fall tumbling down. We think we have a right to violate every single aspect of a persons life just because they have opened the door to fame. Regardless of the involvement we arguably might have the right to expect in a persons life once they have taken on the dubious mantle of celebrity, it would be nice to think that when they start showing signs of having a genuine mental health issue we would have the compassion to step back and allow them to get well. Instead, there is a website entitled "whenisbritneygoingtodie.com" (whoever guesses correctly gets a ps3!). This is positively ghoulish.
In this voyeuristic celebrity culture we have created, the line between purveyor and product is increasingly blurred. For people like Britney Spears, their brand and lives are inextricably entwined. Their success relies on an image being upheld, and every action they make is a part of this. Can you imagine the immense pressure to be beautiful all the time - your entire livelihood relying on you sticking rigidly to a predefined image? This isn't a case of acting a certain way at work and then cutting loose at home, this is a case of actually becoming your product. Not knowing which part of you is even you any more. Not knowing if any part of you is yours. And as much as it is possible to claim that this was a situation Britney entered into willingly herself, fully aware of the consequences of her actions, I just don't know how this can really be said about the decisions made by a 16 year old girl.
When Spears was sectioned at the end of January, there was a convoy of cars following her ambulance the length of a football pitch. For the last year, she has driven around LA with an entourage of paparazzi constantly at her heels. She does not have to worry about any of the things that bother the rest of us – finding money to pay the rent or go out with friends, trying to scrape together a new outfit out of the pile of clothes lying on the bedroom floor, those funny little butterflies that dance in our stomachs when we wonder if that certain boy or girl will even notice us. She doesn't get the chance. Any opportunity she had for a "normal" life went clean out the window at age 16.
Instead she has been left with this surrealist valley of the dolls style nightmare; a grotesque parody of a life where even falling to pieces doesn't provide any escape.
"To be the object of desire is to be defined in the passive case. To exist in the passive case is to die in the passive case - that is, to be killed. This is the moral of the fairy tale about the perfect woman." – Angela Carter
RIP little buddy
it was so fuckin PRETTY tho
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