Jade Goody – A Morbid Obsession

Posted in Jade Goody with tags , , , on March 23, 2009 by jacquesrenault

In Dubai, some will have noticed that the media fuelled Jade Goody phenomenon has permeated our consiousness. In fact, there are seemingly very few spots in the world which have not been sucked in to this very sad story about the slightly intellectually challenged girl from a poor area in the east end of London. Micheal Jackson apparently left a voicemail message for her, prior to her death on Sunday morning.

The obssession with Jade Goody stands out from our more innocent adulation of the stars of today. I can understand, the Bragelina or Paris Hilton thing. People will lose themselves in OK, Ahlan, TMZ in order to create a fantasy to liven up lives which can become both mundane and uninspiring. For those moments when you’re reading the glossy mag you can imagine being that beautiful, that rich, that popular.

The interest in jade Goody is far more sinister. Jade was brought up by two drug addicted parents in the poorest area of London. Her mother is a lesbian and her father died of a drug overdose in 2006.
When Jade first appeared on the UKs Big Brother, she was ridiculed in the press because of her seemingly non existent knowledge of the outside world. When she made a racist remark on live telly she was descibed in the Sun as being ”a vile, pig-ignorant, racist bully”.

The obssesion with jade is not driven by an urge to aspire to be that person. Rather, the fascination is motivated by a kind of voyeristic attraction similar to the Victorian obsession with the elephant man. She was a freak that you could stare at, and then thank to the heavens that you weren’t like her. The last few days lying on her death bed were the final act of a show in which everyone tuned in to see the latest instalment of the morbid show. Her death brought down the curtain on a very revealing episode which says a lot about what the general public (particularly in the UK) are really driven by when immersing themselves in the worlds of celebrities.

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Apathy in the UAE

Posted in Censorship with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2009 by jacquesrenault

One particular topic that has been reverberating around the UAE in the past weeks has been the issue of freedom of speech and censorship. First it was the new media law being passed which seemingly sent out a confused message of both supporting journalistic freedom but at the same time indicating that if any writer steps out of line then they can be punished with fines of up of 500,000 dirhams. And then last week, a new row erupted over a book that had apparently been banned from the Dubai Literary festival because it made reference to a gay sheihk. Alot of misunderstanding followed, particualrly between the organisers and Margaret Atwood but the exciting thing that transpired was that there would be new slot at the festival to discuss the importance of free speech in a civilised society. A big step forward.

I went. Seemingly nobody else in Dubai did. Admittedly it was at 9 am on a saturday but the turn out was pretty shocking. This was the one chance to make strides in relation to what people (particularly in the media) have been saying about freedom of speech in Dubai. The really sad thing was that this is clearly a discussion that the outside world feels is of importance. I noticed in the half empty conference room, Kate Aidie (the bbc reporter, Ian Hislop (private eye editor and TV personality) and other authors from the festival. The reason for peoples absence I can only put down to apathy. If you live in a country that constantly wears people down with the limiting of your democratic rights but fattens them up by paying them more than they would in their home countries, you cant be surprised if the inhabitants end up not truely feeling as passionate about things as they normally would.

Noels haus party

Posted in Noel Edmunds with tags , , , on February 18, 2009 by jacquesrenault

Those non english readers will have to bear with me. Anyone from the UK will know bearded beauty Noel Edmunds who has been gracing UK screens for the past 20 odd years. What you probably wont realise is that during the time you’ve living in the land of sand, Edmunds has (based on the youtube video you;re about to see) gone completely bonkers.

You;ve got to laugh at Keith Chegwin shaking his head while reading, ‘The council has made it clear they are prepared to negotiate with Joe and his family’,er.. sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Fatboy Slim. ”No Dad, you’re not allowed to play the music again”

Posted in Fatboy Slim with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2009 by jacquesrenault

It all started so well.  The crowds were out in force, the lighting, set up, bar service was all up to scratch.  On entering the grassy patch next to Barsati where the Fatboy Slim gig was taking place, it was hard to not be impressed. With the marina buildings and misty full moon hovering over us, the mood was set for a night of credit crunch beating magic.  The local warm up DJs did their job and got the crowd warmed up.  All set.

Then something happened.  10 minutes in to Fatboy Slims set, the spell was broken.  What started with what appeared to be a minor technical hitch soon decended in to a farce.  The entire 1.5 hour set was spent with Mr Norman Cook either shouting at some sound engineer off stage, demanding things like to have a panel erected to block the light or occasionally flailing his arms like a demented old fool.   The illusion was gone.  He didn’t even mix, preferring to just play track after track and then fiddle with a knob in a particularly dramatic way.   Suddenly Fatboy slim wasn’t a hip cutting edge DJ, but a slightly ridiculous aging bloke from Brighton stuck on stage doing something that he didnt feel entirely comfortable doing.

You could see it on everybody’s faces.  We were all thinking the same….If my dad ever started up DJing, this is what it would look like.

Bloggers are journalists. Or at least they should aspire to be.

Posted in blogging with tags , , , on February 2, 2009 by jacquesrenault

Over the past few days, I have for one reason or another come across Alexander Mcnabb.  He certainly gets around as I’ve heard hi on the radio, seen him talking Dubai on a Piers Morgan UK TV show, come across his blog and today saw his comments in some random media mag.  Alexander seems quite keen to stress one point very firmly, and that is that bloggers are not journalists and should be refered to, as what he calls ”customers”. 

I disagree.  For blogging to survive as a genre (and there is alot of talk about its death) it has to start to live up to journalistic principles.  For me one of the pitfalls of the internet age is that every Tom, Dick and Harry feels that, now they are given the ability to create their own blog, they should be able to get away with writing content that is often boring and uniformitive that does nothing to forward the readers view about the world around them.  For me it doesn’t matter where you’re reading it from, be it a magazine, a newspaper, book OR blog the content should of at least aim to be of a high quality with the principles of a balanced argument in place.

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The blogoshere is filled with alot of hot air and its hard to deny that its not.   Readers have to sift through endless mindless expressions about things that no one really cares about because the writer hasnt taken the time or effort to consider what they are writing.  One day in the not so distant future, all writing will be internet based and the boundaries between a journalist and a blogger will have all but disappeared.   Once that happens, it will only be the quality, researched and subststantiated points of view and articles that will get noticed.

And the oscars go to?

Posted in Oscars with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2009 by jacquesrenault

One of the beauties of film is that it provides some kind of insight in to the key events, beliefs or shifts in trends of that particular time.   Most obviously, at times of war, films relating to that subject will spike.  If you look back at the 70s and the surge in the Vietnam films, it’s very clear that Americas participation in the war had had a deep effect on the psyche of the American people and that had a knock on effect with the films being produced.

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Being January and with not a huge amount to do in Dubai, I’ve been getting through a fair old few of the last 12 months selections.  So, what does this and last years’ offerings say about the world we are living in?  If you look at some of the films up for Oscars, you get a distinct feeling of hopelessness, lack of optimism and deep reflection.  The Wrestler (Aronofsky, Mickey rourke) deals with the demise of a failed 1980s wrestler, Revolutionary Road(Sam Mendes, Kate Winslet) looks at the death of dreams of a young couple in small time America, The Visitor explores the world of a middle aged American man who feels lost in his life in New York.  As seen through the eyes of these films, we see an America that is on its last legs, that has accepted that it can’t regain the hope and positivity of a by- gone era.  Even historical films such as Frost/Nixon(Ron Howard, Martin Sheen)  and Che (Soderburgh, Benicio del Torro) equally deal with issues of American history that aren’t that favourable to the superpower of the last 50 or so years.

You can’t help noticing SlumDog Millionaire (Boyle) though.  The one truely buoyant and positive film to be nominated for best picture is about India and not America.  It tells a rags to riches tale set in the booming city of Mumbai.  It’s hard to not draw the conclusion that the economic and social shift from West (America) to East (India and China) is being reflected in various ways in the films we watch.

The world is changing. Where does this leave Dubai?

Posted in Dubai with tags , , , on January 21, 2009 by jacquesrenault

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In the land of sand we may be feeling the tremors of change that are beginning to reverberate around the world after Barack Obama’s inaugaration, but what will soon be apparent is that the shift in the pysche of the America led western nations could well be seismic.

Obama is ushering in an era at the beginning of the 21st century that aims to offer something that is very different from what we have seen in the past 100 or more years.  The 20th century was  dominated by notions of size.  Vast skyscrapers, huge dominating banks, corporations as powerful as political parties.  Obama has become the symbol of bringing in an era that realises that in order for the world to survive socially and economically, it needs a completely new approach.  What is required is to be more nimble, more stealth like, more thoughtful and considerate as opposed to just simply big and powerful. 

Where on earth does this leave the c**k waving emirate?  A city that boasts having the biggest and tallest of almost everything that has ever existed.   All the huge malls, cloud touching skyscrapers, sprawling fun parks, vast aquariums feel distinctly last century.  I’m not going to be the one to tell him, but if you look at the shifting attitudes in Europe,  the US as well as other parts of the world,  Sheikh Mohammed would have to completely rethink the vision of the city,  if it is really going to be considered as a metropolis of the upcoming century.