It’s been a few days since Christopher Maloney was evicted from Big Brother and I decided to go cold turkey and quit watching the show.
Because let’s be honest, there is something addictive about it. I decided that watching til the end was like a smoker waiting for New Years Day to give up, but then still having half a pack left and carrying on. So I ripped off the band aid and stopped as soon as I no longer had a work reason to pay attention…
I was gutted Chris got evicted. He showed people that he’s a nice guy. Not the person they thought he was. The sort of person you’d be content to share a house with. And it seems the housemates were… But not Big Brother. Because they’re making an entertainment show. So what if they have a week with no nominations? There’s a good chance the quiet ones will be up for eviction. And who goes? The one whose leaving won’t disrupt the chaos that has been carefully created. But to be certain, we’ll give immunity to the most dramatic housemates.
The Big Brother house is like a microcosm of society, that the public can legitimately spy on and gossip about behind closed doors.
And realistically, we don’t twitch the curtains for the nice thoughtful neighbour who cleans up after himself. But hear a blazing row or the sound of glass smashing and we’re muting the TV and leaping towards the window to see what’s going on.
Reality TV is a quick route to celebrity – but fame has to be earned. So tasks are designed to push housemates to breaking point. And isn’t it more fun when you make celebrities do embarrassing, uncomfortable things? To bring them back down to the same level as the rest of us?
Housemates vomited after eating a century egg as part of a shopping task.
Why did Big Brother make housemates choose who to evict first? Was it because they had received complaints about Winston and wanted to get him out? Why on earth would they choose to share his statement about gay couples adopting, if it wasn’t to make the housemates turn on him. And given the potential for arguments over this sensitive issue, wouldn’t the public want to keep him in to see the tension develop? It’s easy to believe then, that Nancy – who I suspect would have a fairly limited UK fan base – got the least votes so making the housemates choose would mean they didn’t have to boot out the person the public decided to evict
I just don’t believe it’s not orchestrated.
Hollyoaks actress, Stephanie Davies – regularly in the press with numerous reports of her drunken antics and interest in the boys – wants to show people she’s not the girl they think she is after cutting down on the booze and enjoying a year long romance with her tattoo laden, male model boyfriend… So she’s put into the house with a tattoo covered model and a heap of alcohol. They immediately gravitate towards each other forgetting that this world is temporary and everyone can see what they’re doing.
It’s like the house is an alternative reality. The world in a teacup. Relationships develop, small factions grow, rivalries emerge and chaos ensues. And we all tune in to see what happens next.
I hate it. And I think it’s a massive shame that this is what passes for entertainment on a mass scale.
The tasks could be entertaining enough without instigating the kind of dramatic turmoil that is created by the producers.
Sure, it wouldn’t get the viewers if there was no promises of watching someone have a complete mental breakdown on TV. And it’s got to be a hell of a lot cheaper to make a show like Big Brother, than something like Doctor Who. But isn’t it sad that we’re content to be fed cheap shows rather than art?
What is wrong with us?
For three weeks I got it. It was like a soap, I tuned in every night, I got annoyed by Gemma’s snide remarks, I rolled my eyes at Steph calling everyone a bully and I laughed at Chris trying to work the coffee machine. But then I hated myself for caring what happened. For having an opinion and for tweeting mean things about some housemates while leaping to the defence of others.
So as soon as Chris was evicted I stopped. I’m still thinking about it though. I contemplated watching to the final because I’d already invested time in it. But I don’t want to be someone who watches reality TV because someone needs to demand more from our TV providers and continue to fly the flag for well written, beautifully filmed television programmes.
And because I don’t want to be someone that delights in watching people mentally unravel because that’s not entertainment, that’s torture.
But for the record, I hope Darren wins now that Chris has gone. What’s so wrong with being nice? Why do we reward people for being rude, nasty and argumentative? We elevate the worst types of people to stardom giving them an actual reason to be arrogant and self absorbed… Is it so we can then enjoy tearing them down?
Well Celebrity Big Brother is certainly inspiring a lot of blog posts from me!
I don’t usually watch shows like this, I rarely read newspapers or watch the news. I have become so cynical (or realistic) about programmers’ needing a high turnover of content to fill 24 hour news channels and websites that we’re force fed pointless stories that amount to little more than gossip and hearsay, followed by an apology and an explanation. I became so overwhelmed by the drivel that I just don’t pay attention anymore.
And yet here I am. Obsessed with Celebrity Big Brother. I have an opinion on whether Gemma Collins is genuinely nice or playing a game. I didn’t even know who Gemma Collins was 2 weeks ago. I have never watched an episode of TOWIE in my life and I sort of hate that I even know what it stands for.
If Christopher Maloney wasn’t in there I wouldn’t even know it was on, much less be watching it. And it’s frustrating because he’s doing really well and that means I have to keep watching it. And the more I watch it, the more I’m starting to enjoy it.
But I’m cynical about these shows. The editors are making an entertainment show. And so are the players. Gemma Collins said herself: she’s making a TV show… So is anything that she does real or is she intent on causing drama in order to entertain the viewers?
That got me wondering, have any of the events been pre planned? With rumours that Steph’s boyfriend, Sam, might enter the house, is her illicit romance with Jeremy just an orchestrated act, planned by Big Brother with the consent of all involved “to make good telly”??
I wonder. Are Chris and Darren really as nice as they seem or have they just been cast in the roles of “peacemaker” and “kind and unassuming”?
It’s been nice, over on Twitter, seeing so many people change their minds about Chris Maloney. But over on Facebook we created an advert for our Team Maloney Tshirts, and I was shocked to see all the angry comments from people spouting their hatred for him.
I figure that in life, we don’t always like everyone. And if Chris has personally done something to upset people or had a personality clash then such is life.
Although, it does sort of make me wonder how he was portrayed on X Factor to have so many negative opinions in the first place.
When I was building his website I found myself gathering lots of video footage and finding out that he got the highest public votes 7 weeks running. I mean – if he was so bad why did people vote for him? As I was adding his biog page I decided to watch his audition video. And there I was, in my office blubbing away as Gary Barlow looked up in surprise when this nervous, teary eyed contestant suddenly revealed this amazing voice.
Wow. I mean, however he’s been portrayed and whatever he’s done to upset or offend people, he has got a great set of pipes on him.
And maybe people do change or maybe people are easily offended. Maybe X factor fame went to his head or maybe he was guarded because of internet trolls and wouldn’t sign an autograph. Who knows why people seem to hate him. I’m not giving in to the temptation to find out why he’s been so vilified. I don’t really care.
I can only judge him on how he has behaved with me.
I find him to be courteous and reliable. If he’s running late for a meeting he phones well in advance to tell me. And you’d be forgiven for thinking “well so he should, that’s just good manners” but you know what? So many people don’t. So many clients just don’t turn up but then phone the next day to reschedule. No apology for wasting my time.
Not long after meeting him I asked him if he’d take part in our project to support LGBT youth. We’d asked young people what questions they would like to ask adults, in order to get the benefit of their experience. Chris agreed without hesitation.
For personal reasons he had to cancel the first interview. We had a tight deadline and Chris was getting ready to go on holiday and was really pushed for time, but we managed to reschedule the interview before he left. When I thanked him, he simply said “I said I’d do it, and I always keep my promises.” Meanwhile, several other interviewees simply didn’t turn up without telling us. We had 10 people booked in for the interviews over 2 days and only 4 showed up.
And I’ll always be impressed by the work he does with his performing arts academy. I’ve even taken some tips from him in setting up our tech club.
So, I’m not saying he’s definitely not the asshole other people think he is, but this is the Chris I know. And whatever reason people have for thinking bad of him, perhaps he deserves a second chance.
Are we seeing the real Chris, or is he playing a part, designed to change public perception of him? Whatever it is, it’s working and I can’t wait to ask him all about it when he leaves.
Well 2016 has gotten off to a horrible start with the sad news that David Bowie and Alan Rickman both passed away.
I’ve never considered myself a fan of David Bowie. To me he will always be the Goblin King, but since his death I find myself saying “oh I didn’t know this was David Bowie,” to lots of songs that have filtered into my subconscious over the last 38 years.
He was just so famous, though. Without really knowing much of his music, he was so ingrained in the fabric of pop culture that I couldn’t not know of him.
Profits from this T-shirt are being donated to Cancer Research UK
I’m always saddened when a celebrity passes. But then I get over it really quickly because, while it’s sad that they won’t make more music or appear in more films their passing has no direct impact on my daily life.
Profits from this T-shirt are being donated to Cancer Research UK
Having said that, I was truly upset when I heard about Alan Rickman.
I first remember him playing Colonol Brandon in Sense and Sensibility but then he seemed to pop up in loads of things. He played scary bad guys really well with that deep sinister voice.
Reading all the tributes from his peers this week has revealed an actor who was funny, kind, caring and absolutely committed to his roles.
Aside from them both being 69 and being taken by cancer within a few days of each other, both David Bowie and Alan Rickman were working class kids from council estates. They attended government funded art school, honed their skills and went on to achieve fame and world wide recognition for their achievements in their artistic fields.
We live in different times now. The likelihood of working class kids being able to attend art school is pretty slim, as their fees are prohibitively high. How much talent will we miss out on because only those that can afford it will have the opportunity to achieve their dream? Who will become role models when fame is bought with money instead of raw talent? Perhaps this is why there is such a rise in reality TV stars, because those with the money don’t have the skills and those with the natural talent don’t have the means. So those with neither rise to infamy by any means necessary.
I’ve talked about Celebrity Big Brother already this week and praised Christopher Maloney for starting his theatre and arts academy in Anfield. It’s more than just a nice thing to do, it’s essential. Clubs like this are necessary to ensure that no child is prevented from pursuing their dreams just because they don’t have the finances to pay for training. We should be affording kids every opportunity to find their passion and nurture their skills.
In Bootle, I started a tech club aimed at kids who are traditionally excluded and bullied because they’re interested in science and technology. Our club is bringing those kids into an environment where they can geek out to their hearts content and know that they’re not alone in their interests.
There’s also the community journalists project that takes young unemployed adults and teaches them to make films that highlight the good things about their neighbourhood. They’re learning subjects that were not on offer at school and they can’t afford to study at college.
Whether it’s the arts or technology or sport, charities and social enterprises are doing what they can to fill the gaps that have been created by government cuts. Without funding bodies like Children in Need, The Big Lottery or the European Social Fund, available provision in deprived areas would be non existent. And without affordable access to the arts, we’ll never see the likes of David Bowie or Alan Rickman again.
There’s nothing like a reality show to get people tweeting. I watched Celebrity Big Brother last night, for the first time since it started – you know, the one with Jack Dee, and other actual celebrities in it – and it reminded me why I don’t watch those kind of shows anymore. I haven’t even watched X Factor or I’m a Celebrity for 6 years.
Spot the celebrity
This year’s CBB seems to have a reality TV theme. I think pretty much everyone in it has been on some kind of reality tv show, even the actual bona fide celebrities – by my calculations 5 out of the 16 in there – have done a stint on some kind of celebrity reality show.
I miss the golden era when celebrities were the people with talent. The actors who could also sing and dance, the musicians, the comedians, artists, authors and sports people. They worked hard, developed their skill and were beloved for it. They were role models. I hate this new culture of people who become famous just because they got a boob job, dated a footballer, or said something controversial.
I mean seriously, how is Katie Hopkins a celebrity?
Seems I’m not alone in my thinking – “Who are yer?” was the chant during the launch night as X Factor finalist, and fellow scouser, Chris Maloney arrived for Celebrity Big Brother. Reading Twitter shocked me though. No one had a kind word to say about him. They mocked his surgery, his appearance, his accent, everything about him. Come on people. The guy is still human. Give him a break.
Okay, so I laughed at this one.
As a tribe of, largely anonymous, people on social media, we can say what we want about these people. It seems that, if they’re prepared to put themselves in the public eye, then the public are more than willing to insult, abuse and mock them.
People are mean
We’ve made it so easy for boring, stupid people to become famous. Why do we do that? We watch their pointless docu-dramas, turn them into public figures, and then we take to Twitter to bitch about them and make them feel ugly, stupid and talentless.
Someone tweeted “How is Christopher Maloney a celebrity?” Because we allowed him to be. We voted him into the X Factor final. We let him grace our TV screens for 10 weeks. We made him a household name, albeit for a few months at least. (You understand that when I say ‘we’ I mean you – not me – the only scheduled mainstream TV show I ever watch is Doctor Who. Video games, DVDs box sets and Netflix are this girl’s best-friend).
People seem to thrive on drama and scandal. We elevate seemingly average folk into stars and then delight in ripping them apart. And thanks to Twitter, you can tell them exactly what you think of them, something which most people would never dream of doing in real life, but behind a social network it’s all just fun and games and no one cares that there are real people with actual feelings behind those profiles.
Celebrity Big Brother 2016
So why am I watching Celebrity Big Brother? Well, I’ve worked with Chris for 12 months, managing his Academy website and more recently building his personal website and managing his merchandise. So for a legitimate work reason I’m watching the show.
This one just pissed me off.
I don’t know Chris particularly well, he’s a client, so I’m not going to make any gushing testimonials about his character, because my knowledge is limited. But I have met with him enough times to make an informed opinion.
I didn’t see him on X Factor, (for all the aforementioned reasons) so when he phoned me about his academy website and the words “when I came off X factor” were his opening gambit, I just said “oh right.” And promptly googled him.
But what I’ve discovered about Chris, is that, while I expected to find him annoying, self absorbed, and arrogant, (my assumption of anyone entering a reality show) he’s actually a really likeable guy.
To me, Christoper Maloney isn’t a celebrity, he’s just the guy who set up a performing arts academy in a deprived area of Liverpool, to give young disadvantaged people a chance to shine.
I’ve worked in the voluntary sector for 10 years, my business is a social enterprise (not for profit) and this year we started a tech club to make sure that kids in deprived areas had access to technology in order to develop skills in programming and digital media. So I have something in common with Chris (along with being born in the best year ever…). Having produced two of the academy’s end of term dvds, we’ve seen how much the kids love it, I’ve seen the way their confidence has grown from one term to the next. And I know that Chris is fully involved in the academy, giving up his Saturdays to be there.
I don’t follow X Factor, or read the papers so I don’t know what other contestants do after the X Factor “dream” is over… But I doubt they’re doing anything quite so selfless.
Looking at the housemates though, the “stars” of TOWIE, Geordy Shore, Ex on the beach (wtf is that??) and some American reality show. At least Chris is ‘famous’ for being on a talent show. He didn’t just get drunk in front of a camera, or argue with someone, or live in a house with a bunch of strangers… The lad can actually sing. Okay I’m never going to buy his records or go and watch him perform because I’m into punk, rock and ska.
And so what if he loves his Nan – don’t you love your nan?
The Liverpool Print Company is donating profits from these Tshirts to the Christopher Maloney Theatre & Arts Academy.
Having reached the dubious level of late 30s, I’ve found myself thinking about things that I wish I’d known when I was a bright eyed twenty-something. I don’t have a daughter that I can share my knowledge with, not that she’d want to talk to me anyway – no one wants to talk their mum about stuff – so I’ll dedicate this to my niece, and my great niece and to all the twenty-somethings that pass through my office.
I knew nothing
You grow up pretty quickly when you leave home and go to uni. But you’re surrounded by student support, other people going through the same experience, and your parents, probably, paying your rent.
Then you leave uni, get a job and start working. What a culture shock that is. The real world doesn’t have stabilisers. You have to learn to balance everything yourself.
And the way you learn about life is experiencing it. Talking to people, learning about different cultures and reading. You know nothing in your twenties because you’re still finding your place in the world, meeting people and learning from their wisdom. No matter how much you think you know, you’ll always learn more.
I wish I’d listened more to people that were older than me, rather than thinking they were past it. Because at the end of the day, basic human emotion can be complex but it doesn’t change with each generation. Fashion, culture and technology might evolve but psychology remains the same. So listen when someone shares their experiences with you. They’re likely sharing something that might save you a whole heap of heartache.
Age is just a number
I was 10 when my nephew was born and 14 when my niece was born. I loved the idea that they would think I was cool because I was younger than their other aunties and uncles.
But then they grew up and realised I wasn’t cool at all. And now I’m just old.
In video games, the higher your level the more kick-ass you become. And that’s definitely true in life. Life begins at 40, 30’s the new 21 and so on. Age differences get smaller and smaller and age becomes a state of mind. Some twenty-somethings have the maturity of a forty-something… And vice versa.
I still feel too young to have children – and yet this year I became a great aunty. Judge people by their personality, knowledge and experience, but never their age.
Money doesn’t buy happiness.
I had 2 ambitions when I was growing up: work for myself, and be an author. The two weren’t necessarily linked. I’d dreamed of owning my own record company at one time. But over the years my interests changed.
I went to uni, studied a (rather pointless) degree in Music Industry Management and moved to London where I lived for 6 years, working for the PRS, EMI and Sanctuary Records.
I was skint, but I was happy because I was doing what I’d wanted to do – work in music. But then I realised I wasn’t fulfilled. I tried to write but I couldn’t find the inspiration. And the cost of living was too high to pursue anything other than a good salary.
When I moved home I got the chance to start again. But it still took a long time to figure out what to do. I became purely focussed on earning money to pay off the debts I’d accumulated trying to ‘live the dream’ in London.
I have lots of regrets about my decisions for study and the career paths I took. I sometimes wish I’d wanted to be a lawyer or doctor, something that paid well, because at the age of 38, to still earn little more than minimum wage, feels like failure. But I’m actually happier now, finally working for myself, than I ever was when I earned 3 times my current salary.
I’m not saying everyone should work for themselves, but I wish I’d truly pursued my passion when I was young enough to not get bogged down by finances and when I had longer to appreciate it.
If you have a passion, go for it. You can have all the money in the world but if you’re not fulfilling your dreams, it won’t make you happy. Unless of course your dream is simply to be rich.
Love isn’t all fireworks and butterflies.
I spent most of my 20s single, thinking there was something wrong with me. I met and fell hopelessly in love with several men during that time. I felt sick with passion and anxiety awaiting a phone call from one bloke or another.
I had a few relationships that were doomed from the start and I believed fervently that I had found the one – even though anyone with cataracts could see he didn’t feel the same as me.
I believed I would know, without a doubt, when I met the one, but I confused every feeling of attraction or infatuation with thinking he was the one.
Then I met the one, sometime in my 30s. I knew, even before we met that he was the one. And when we did meet, we chatted like old friends, we had everything in common and I thought to myself, ‘I could make space on my sofa for this guy.’
No fireworks, no feeling nervous or worried. Probably sounds pretty boring actually. But it’s finding someone you can just be at home with. It’s comfortable and comforting. It’s all good.
It’s okay to be single
I always thought there was something wrong with me when I was single. Like it was a badge of honour to be in a relationship.
But it’s silly. Until you’re happy with your own company, you can’t hope to be happy with someone else.
I’ve watched people in relationships who look miserable, they’re forever worrying about pleasing their other half. They pretend to like things to impress each other and they’re worried about saying the wrong thing and causing the end of their romance.
Love shouldn’t be a battle. Some relationships are much worse than being single. And until you’re truly content with yourself, you can’t be truly happy with someone else.
Love isn’t a game. If you’re talking tactics, no one is going to win.
I fell for this guy once, but it didn’t work out. Yet, every time we bumped into each other something would be rekindled. I was so confused by him, but I (mistakenly) thought he might be the one, ha!
One day a friend asked me to trust her to make all my decisions relating to this guy. When he sent me a text message she made me wait until the next day to reply. She made me ignore his phone calls and not return them for several days – in each case he would inevitably call me again anyway. She made me tell him that I didn’t think he should call me anymore as it was giving me false hopes – the next time I saw him he said he wanted us to be together. I was over the moon.
A week later we split up again.
We continued this cycle for months and I knew I should just stop playing the game. But I thought I loved him and I found it hard to give up when he seemed to like me, even if it was only when I was playing the card of disinterest.
Eventually I did see sense. I made the decision that I needed to move on and, without telling him, I just stopped contacting him. I blocked his number, I stopped hanging out in places we used to go and I put him out of my mind.
What I learned was that there’s nothing more attractive than someone who doesn’t want you. I learned that people can be manipulated. But playing games to win someone only results in losers. I lost a lot of time on that guy, along with a fair amount of self respect. I did however gain a love of Doctor Who and Marvel superheroes… So no experience is ever for nothing.
I always laughed when people said, “if I knew then, what I know now…” but I wonder what I would have done differently. Probably nothing. I’m sure I took advice from other people, but thought I knew better. Turns out I didn’t. But until you learn things for yourself, you’ll never know. And mistakes are how we grow. So listen, get advice, but make your own mistakes and make sure you learn from them.
And remember: There’s nothing you can’t make with Lego.
It was Mental Health Awareness week in October (I know, I’m a bit late, I’ve been slacking on the blog front). Mental Health affects everyone, and it’s expected that most people will experience some kind of mental ill-health during their life time. Might be stress at work, or it could be something more serious that requires ongoing medical attention. Mental Health will affect everyone differently and because of that, it’s often misunderstood.
There are people who hear the words Mental Health and immediately think of inmates of an insane asylum. Others think of depression and suicide. But largely, it’s often mistaken as something from which people don’t ever recover.
I’ve known people be prescribed anti-depressants because they split up with a girlfriend and couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings as a result of wallowing in heartbreak. I’ve known people to suffer with panic attacks, so severe that they no longer leave the house. I’ve seen people referred to therapists because of the death of a loved one.
But given some time to heal, they bounce back and they continue on with their lives without anyone ever knowing they had, what would now be described as, a mental health issue.
On the flip side of that I’ve known people diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, who fluctuate sometimes on a monthly basis, sometimes on a daily basis. I’ve known people who struggle with medication, their moods swinging wildly from happy to sad, to angry to suicidal.
There are some people who live their daily lives in misery because they missed their calling in life, failed to pursue their dreams. They work in jobs they hate, they lose all motivation for the aspirations they once had. They spend their adult life wondering what if..? Sometimes people are unhappy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re depressed, to the extent that they require any intervention, medication or therapy. But this often misunderstood issue, is sometimes treated with medication, without getting to the root cause of a problem. Alternative therapies, such as art and music, have become common as a recovery tool because it allows them to creatively express their feelings and examine what it is that’s causing their anxiety.
There are so many places that offer support to people, that offer activities that benefit the heath and wellbeing of people, but one of the things I’ve noticed is that people often continue to be defined by their mental health, and they don’t move away from those anxieties. Sometimes, rather than recovering and moving on, people are constantly reminded of their issues, they’re kept in a sort of limbo where they are labelled as ill, vulnerable or needing support.
A few years ago I suffered panic attacks. They were triggered by over thinking about death. I’m not overly fearful of dying but I had a small period of my life during which time, whenever I was confronted with death – on the news or on TV, I would begin to feel the stirrings of a panic attack.
The first time it happened was on Christmas day. We were watching The Doctor Who Christmas special and the Tenth Doctor kept telling people he was going to die. I had to pause the show and run off to the bathroom. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was hot and cold all at one, I seemed to have lost all feeling in my legs, my heart was racing and I genuinely believed I was dying.
The next time it happened I was watching Grey’s Anatomy – medical drama, lots of wounded or dying. I had a few more over a short period of time, but it was always whenever I was confronted with the reality of death. I mentioned I have a big family, widely spread in terms of age, and I’ve attended many more funerals than I should’ve for my age. I was approaching 36. The same age my brother was, when he had a stroke (he was fine. It was mild. He made a full recovery). But I had this stupid fear in my head – what if, when I’m 36, I have a stroke too? Well what if? Can’t live in fear of something that might never happen. I got past it, without having to go to a doctor. Once I recognised what was triggering my panic attacks, I rationalised my fear and they stopped.
Some people never find out what causes their anxiety. Others do and move on. We should celebrate those that do and let them put their past behind them. After all, nobody ever comments on the time I had tonsillitis, because it wasn’t a big deal, (I was sick for a week, got better and it’s had no impact on my health or life since). So why should I dwell on the time I suffered panic attacks? Why should anyone dwell on the few months their mental health was a bit poorly, if the factors that caused it have been removed and they’ve not experienced it since?
Maybe we shouldn’t define people’s mental health by whether they ever suffered. Focus on the present and ask them “How are you today?”