Tuesday 18 September 2018

Anton Savage: All smiles for the prince of toothfish, helicopters, birds and forgiveness

The Prince of Wales (centre) laughs as he is introduced to Lord Mountbatten's former staff , by Peter McHugh (left) as he arrives for a visit to Mullaghmore, in Sligo, on day two of a four day visit to Ireland
The Prince of Wales (centre) laughs as he is introduced to Lord Mountbatten's former staff , by Peter McHugh (left) as he arrives for a visit to Mullaghmore, in Sligo, on day two of a four day visit to Ireland
The Prince of Wales at the Marine Institute in Galway
Taylor Swift arrives at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas (AP)
Google is the subject of a complaint from the EU's competition chief
Nickleback Chad Kroeger

The Prince of Wales has a capacity to be softly condescending - his reference to "Irish smiles" and Irish people bringing warmth wherever we go had the unsubstantiated whiff of patronage that only the aristocratic and the very rich can produce.

His heart was clearly in the right place ('I'd better tell the Irish that they're a nice bunch of lads and I like them') but his method of delivering that message was the international diplomatic version of Father Ted's line at the Lovely Girls Competition - "They all have lovely bottoms" - equal parts well-meaning and demeaning.

It would be easy to dismiss Charles as a bit of an elitist wally. Particularly when the UK Freedom of Information Act has just revealed his predeliction for canvassing government ministers about helicopter performance, albatrosses and the endangered toothfish (no, really. Look it up).


Dismissing him as a wally would, however, be a huge mistake. On Wednesday he went to the location where his Uncle Lord Mountbatten was horrifically murdered by the IRA. The man he described as "the grandfather I never had" bled to death after a republican terrorist bomb mostly severed both of his legs.

You may or may not be a Mountbatten fan, but a few facts are indisputable - he was a decorated war veteran who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in South East Asia during World War 2 with disinction (so much so that he became a favourite among Churchill's commanders). He was one of the foremost influences on the young prince Charles (who regarded him as a mentor).

In his retirement, at the age of 79, he went fishing, got his legs blown off and died.

On Tuesday, Charles shook hands with Gerry Adams, a man who spend decades as an apologist for the organisation which carried out that atrocity and so many like it. Charles smiled at him. They drank tea together.

The next day, the English prince spoke of "regrets" on both sides.

The man has extraordinary restraint and courage. He knows the impact and importance of his visit and his role in cementing peace. He understands that great line about peace and rejection of arms being rooted in 'trust and rust'.

He knows that any expression of hatred, or resentment, or justifuable fury and sadness would undermine that achingly slow process.

So he sipped tea with the man who actively supported the people who murdered his Uncle. Just like his mother invited Matin McGuinness to tea at her house and shook his hand.

We talk of these moments as 'historic' as if the people involved are somehow less real or less human than we are. Charles may be posh. He may be odd. He may be unintentionally patronising. But he is human.

It must have taken an extraordinary force of will to swallow his emotions and slap a smile on his face while chatting with Adams. But he did it with grace. So fine, lets laugh at his interest in toothfish. But let's not miss the big stuff.


If you now 'get' feminism Taylor, you've a strange way of showing it

Taylor Swift arrives at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas (AP)

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift must have been born without irony. She chose recently to do a big interview, during which she discussed her views on misogyny and feminism.

She told the interviewer that as a younger woman she didn't really understand the relevance of feminism, but that now she understands that feminism is one of the most important movements you can embrace because it is essentially "about equality".

She added that she didn't like double standards in "how things were perceived", and "double standards in headlines". All of which is laudable. Praiseworthy. Tremendous. The ironic issue is she gave this interview to Maxim Magazine.

Maxim, if you are unfamiliar, is aimed at young men. In it, the text serves only to fill the bits between the pictures of half naked famous women. It's Playboy with underpants and lower quality writing.


This is where Taylor Swift (left) agreed to appear and expound on her theories on modern feminism? Is she hoping that staring at breasts will make the readers more open to discussing women's role in society?

Don't give me the 'she has to do that if she is going to sell records' guff. The singer Sia disproves that argument comprehensively - she's so allergic to the thought of fame and her privacy being invaded that she doesn't even show her face, never mind her bottom or breasts.

Sia instead performs behind a face-wig that makes her look like she's glued Dougal the dog from The Magic Roundabout to her forehead. Yet, she's scoring hit after hit.

So maybe feminists like Taylor Swift need to follow Sia's example and prove that it's possible to be a huge international success without parading your body for the entertainment of your fans (or the readers of Maxim).


Why objectivity matters in media

The broadcast requirement for objectivity in the treatment of the referendum has been causing a lot of knickers to become twisted. It's easy to forget what happens when influential media is allowed to be impartial. The Nazis happen.

Google is the subject of a complaint from the EU's competition chief

Control of media (particularly broadcast media) was a core strategy for the Nazis. People like Goebbels and Leni Reifenstahl were just as important to Hitler as Goering and Mengele.

Parallels with people like them are always dismissed by the people who want the requirement for balance removed, because they think they are on the side of morality.

The problem is, everyone always thinks they have morality on their side. That's why, regardless of your ideology, media balance really, really matters.


Nickelback  rock, officer!

Nickleback Chad Kroeger


You know you're not a popular band when the local police are warning the locals about your arrival. That's what's happened to Nickelback, who are about to embark on the Australian leg of their world tour. The Queensland Police Service has put an image on their Facebook page warning the people that the band is wanted for 'Crimes against music'.

It's a bit tough on poor old Nickelback, but given the Australians' capacity to be blunt with international stars (it's barely a week since they threatened to execute Johnny Depp's dogs) they should probably take this one on the chin. Although the police telling people that the band are hazardous to "hearing and street cred" seems a bit mean.


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