Archive for August, 2012

Naked Prince lacks common sense as well as clothes

August 24th, 2012 No comments

When did taking your clothes off in private become a capital offence? Angela thinks Harry is in the clear as well as in the buff

Prince Harry might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, nor the most mature 28-year-old in Britain.

But then, look at his father – and I’m not talking Prince Charles here.

However, surely he is entitled to have fun with friends in private, as long as nobody gets hurt. And if his friends enjoy games of strip pool, whose business is it?

But the whole world, thanks to our ‘responsible’ media outlets as well as those characters categorized by Australian PM Julia Gillard as ‘the nutjobs on the internet’, has been privy to snaps of the prince enjoying himself in Las Vegas, and wearing….a watch.

A lot of  pompous stuff has been voiced about the prince’s responsibilities as a senior member of the royal family – ooh, only the other week he was the ranking royal at the Olympic Games closing ceremony. Granted, you might not like to think of the Queen au naturelle, or Prince Charles. But would that mean their credibility as a dignitary, a focus for national pride? Would that be forever dented if some media platforms had published photos of them in the nip?

For some, every time they see Harry on TV or wherever for the rest of his life, those blurry but genuine late-night shots will come to mind. And he doesn’t look too bad, quite fit, as proper for a young serviceman whose upbringing has featured every advantage – except a mother after the age of  13.

Harry’s only real failing in this silly affair is how he picks his friends.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the saying goes, but one of Harry’s group wasn’t listening to that voice in her head. She was listening to the much more hearty and confident one telling her she could make big money selling pictures of a naked prince, especially with an attractive lady somewhere in the frame.

The prince’s security staff have come in for some stick on why they didn’t leap in –perhaps rugby tackle the woman? Confiscate her phone, more likely.

And Harry will have to learn more sense than to invite randomers back to his hotel room for jolly japes. Get the boy married, to someone like Katie Price perhaps, and all this would stop…

But the brouhaha all returns to the ethical question, for the media, of whether public figures are entitled to a private life. If you can’t have a private life – or, like Boris Johnson, seem able to ride heedlessly, so to speak, through all embarrassing revelations – then you might go a little bit mad.

Max Mosley must have read the Harry coverage – and looked at the pictures – with interest. The Formula One millionaire continues to campaign against media intrusion after his success in suing the News of the World (remember that?) over whipping up a ‘Nazi sex orgy’ story about him.

But with the red-headed prince it’s fabulous gossip, delicious gossip, and plays to the fake prudery with which the tabloids, in particular, like to address their made-up world.


Links: OK, to be fair, here’s a link to James Hewitt denying he could be Harry’s father.

And here’s one to somebody seeing Lance Armstrong’s disgrace and Harry’s embarrassment as two ends of the same spectrum. Not sure that I get the point – or, in fact, Harry is particularly embarrassed!


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Too much misspeaking and you’ll be released

August 21st, 2012 No comments

Angela charts the trends in ‘newphemisms’

When Mississippi politician Todd Akin opened his mouth and let out a scandal, it took a hell storm of media and public ire to make him realize. The US Senate candidate had told a TV interviewer that it was less likely for victims of ‘legitimate rape’ (Akin’s term) to fall pregnant, because a woman’s body would ‘shut down’.

Whatever the crazed Southerner was trying to say, he soon found out that he had given enormous offence to a certain category of people – let’s just call them ‘women’.

So he took the line frequently heard by people whose real problem is that they leave the house in the morning…”I misspoke”.

His full explanation was: “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,”.

‘Misspoke’ has gained in popularity in recent years. For example, last May President Obama misspoke when he called a concentration camp in Poland a Polish, rather than a Nazi, ‘death camp’. The White House Press Office was quick to correct that one. But the President doesn’t make mistakes, he misspeaks.

Social media, the broadcast of the masses, gives everyone a chance to say something stupid in public, so reeling back in those unwise off-the-bat comments has become something of an art. Not art at a very high level, it is true. ‘With mature reflection I can now appreciate that I might have misspoken,” intones the politician or public official who has just declared that all women are whores or all Republicans wear terrible ties or four-year-olds should be allowed to drive cars.

What misspoke really means is “God, I’m stupid. Please ignore everything that comes out of my mouth (but vote for me anyway).”

It joins a growing list of new euphemisms, ‘newphemisms’ I like to call them, which are burrowing under the skin of 21st century language.

When announcing sackings from the beleaguered News Corp ‘digital-only’ newspaper, The Daily, in New York, the chief executive chose to say that ’50 people would be released’. As if they would joyfully greet the news that they were about to be freed – from the encumbrance of a salary.

‘Firing’ and ‘sacking’ have long been regarded as terms too distasteful to describe people being parted from their jobs. So ‘severance’, ‘retrenchment’, ‘redundancy’, came into use. But, once everybody had cottoned on to the fact that all they meant was firing and sacking, another emollient term had to be found.

And another usage related to those more, ahem, mature members of the community, is undergoing a painful and protracted birth. This morning I watched a short promotional film from a large international consultancy. The speaker was talking about “the end of the digital beginning”, and how everyone was going to be using tablets and smartphones and so on instead of reading poor old newspapers. He described how ways had to be found to ‘reach out to’ (so much reaching going on these days, there must be a terrible lot of muscle strain) and engaging ‘experienced consumers’. What he meant, of course, was older people, but he wasn’t going to be caught using a nasty term like ‘older’. Nobody wants to be older! Because, nestling in that is the three-letter obscenity, ‘old’.

Garrison Keillor, the US humorist describes his fictional Lake Wobegon as the place where ‘all the women were strong, all the men were good-looking and all the children were above average’. In that sort of scenario everyone over 35 is ‘experienced’, not middle-aged – or worse.

So we must all thrash through these newphemisms, peering intently into them to make out the real meaning. Just make sure you don’t mis-read, misinterpret, or miss the bus. Although perhaps you could tell the boss: “Sorry, I mis-arrived on time.”



P.S. And here’s a link to the whole Akin brouhaha.  The photo is nice – begging for a speech balloon to emanate from the soldier on the left who has been shocked out of peeling his orange by whatever Akin is saying – maybe that it is only in cases of ‘legitimate terrorism’ that people get hurt by a bomb?

And, indispensably, The Onion on what Akin really meant…,29256/


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