Okay, here is part 1 of all the things that I am able to remember from 2012. Either I remembered it, or was reminded of it by reading my old tweets. I tried to pick things that had a deeper cultural relevance that I noticed, rather than just being a list of stuff that came out or happened. Also a lot of shit happened so I’m not going to get everything in. But here is what Bank Holiday Tuesday remembers
Everyone dressed as Slenderman for Halloween. 2012 will go down in history as a very difficult year and you could see echoes of this all through pop culture. Our collective consciousness was fixated on the approaching Mayan Apocalypse date with a kind of gallows humour. Slenderman became a widely known character in 2012, after spending time building up steam on message boards, youtube and in general internet counter culture.
I think this surge in popularity can be attributed to two things- our approaching sense of dread, uncertainty and doom, and THAT FUCKING GAME. I don’t think there is a university aged person in Ireland now who hasn’t played that game while wankered at a house party with all your friends around you screaming DON’T GO IN THE BUILDING! He’ll sneak up behind you OH MY GOD THE CHAIR’S BEEN MOVED.
In all seriousness, I do think the Slender man’s popularity as the horror mascot of the 2010s is telling of our anxieties and fears as a generation, and perhaps also of the stagnation of the horror film industry. The next iconic horror character after Samara from the Ring movies (remember when Samara from the ring movies was a ‘thing?’ remember throwing all your hair in front of your face and whispering ‘seven daaaaays’? good times) Doesn’t come from a schlock slasher horror or a remake of Japanese suspense- Slenderman didn’t come from any work at all; he originated on a horror message board (Slendy is page 3,hilariously) and was then adopted into various works such a Marble Hornets and… that fucking game. It’s a public domain, open source free shared horror template!
So with all this in mind, a million tall skinny guys went as Slendy for Halloween, with mixed results. My top award goes to Danny who honestly scared the bejesus out of me with his costume. Everyone else, I will offer the wisdom; a morph suit does not a cosmic horror make.
Barrack Obama was re-elected but do I really need to include it on my review in detail? It all played out like a really forced media game, with people insisting ‘ooooh no it’s gonna be really close, seriously!!!’ when the stats really showed otherwise. Bouncing back from what I personally think was a voodoo magic sabotaged performance in the first debate, Obama pretty much stormed it beyond Fox News and conservative talk radio in the states, mostly because Paul Ryan and Mittens are just so. fucking. WEIRD. No really, Paul Ryan is really scary looking and I would not have wanted him to be the vice Prez. Now with a looming debt crisis and without the idealism of change behind him, Obama has a very rough second term to ride out.
It was a good year for feminism in a strange way, considering we had so much complete and utter fucking bullshit to contend with. The GOP candidate Todd Akin started off with some incredibly bone headed comments about rape and how rape victims rarely get pregnant because the body has magic rape detection powers that repel the evil sperm- if only this were true. Cue more comments from other GOP candidates about how ‘some girls rape easy’ and the shitstorm caused by health insurance providers possibly being made to include birth control as part of their healthcare plans. Apparently sex is now a lifestyle choice, and avoiding pregnancy for medical reasons can ONLY be done via no sex. Weird. Also weird is the idea that the pill is solely birth control when often it’s used for regulation of hormones.
Chris Brown Left twitter, leaving in his wake the need for another terrible celebrity to lol at, and a shitload of misogynistic abuse leveled at the female comic whose sparring with Brown seemed to be what fucked him off Twitter. I will confess to never wading into the Chris Brown pool because I’d feel like a hypocrite and an elitist, because I listen to Ike turner, John lennon, Phil Spektor and many others who have done terrible, terrible things to women without much sign of remorse. I would say I don’t take much stock in Chris Brown as an artist and in his music, he is absolutely hideous both with general misogynistic bullshit and with constant backhanded references to his violence and all it paints for me is the picture of an entirely unapologetic guy. I will never ever like Chris brown. What a jerk.
Online bullying is the sad new way people are terrible to one another now, with several heavily reported young deaths by suicide linked to online harassment. To throw my hat into the ring on what is a very sad and controversial topic, I have to say that I’ve always argued it’s not the technology that’s the problem, it’s the attitudes prevailing in society. The big problem people have with the internet is that it is essentially anonymous, and it is claimed that this encourages downright sadistic and unpleasant things to be said and done to people. I have to argue that people talked shit and said horrible things to me when I was 12, before facebook and even before bebo. back then, they got to me by sending text messages and making phone calls- teenagers will always utilize technology to be brutal to one another, and in the adult word we seem to have entirely forgotten harassing phone calls and letters. This isn’t a new thing, and it isn’t going to be solved by censorship or legislation.
In a broader sense, I’m kind of disturbed by this obsession we all have with understanding why someone took their life- the media seems determined to connect it with one single influence when in reality the victims of suicide have many different reasons and factors effecting their ability to think straight and seek help. It’s a terrible complicated mental health crisis and we can’t keep catching our heels on scapegoats.
The Olympics and Paralympics blew everybody’s minds mostly because I don’t think people were expecting much. It had some pretty bad pre talk, but the thunderous opening ceremony directed by Danny Boyle let you know this was the real fucking deal. Mostly due to Tom Daley representing team GB the diving events had a lot of popularity (and now there’s a celebrity diving competition on ITV1 next year!). I took great personal pleasure from the extensive coverage of the men’s gymnastics. (Team GB Gymnastics squad, I’ll see you in my dreams)
Katie Taylor inspiration-bombed all of Ireland with her amazing Gold Medal performance (I watched her final fight through my fingers) and the rest of the Irish team put in a fucking fantastic Olympics, our best performance since 1956. Cian O’Connor redeemed himself after the stripping of his 2004 gold by claiming bronze here and Rob Heffernan came agonizingly close to a bronze for Ireland in the bafflingly intense and amusing spot of race walking. Ireland’s Paralympians continued the inspiration-parade, being fucking fantastic setting world records and the like. I’m still a bit sad that it’s gone, tbh.
The question ‘You don’t agree with abortion, do you?’ Made dinners in older relatives homes excruciatingly awkward for many this year, as the mother of all throw downs sparked off again. led most visibly by Clare Daly of the ULA and Sinead Redmond, a righteously pissed off pregnant woman the campaign for action on the X case was launched this year. Youth Defence reared their charming heads again with a billboard campaign around Irish cities that showed torn stolen istock photos and 18 week scans reading ‘Abortion tears her life apart.’ Following this, the posters were vandalized, criticized and generally just written off as the sort of bullshit YD like to go on with.
When Savita Halappanavar died the game seemed to change. Previously on the fence onlookers marched on government buildings, the Catholic church made statements, people squabbled over the numbers attending rallies and in the midst of all this the media had no idea where to turn.
Interesting to me was the reaction to the story that asked people to give Praveem Halappanavar, Savita’s widower, his privacy. Enda Kenny was quoted as saying ‘we must remember that a man’s wife has died.’ The political set seemed confounded by what to do when Mr. Halappanavar made it clear he wasn’t going away and doesn’t want a respectful silence over this issue. They got really confused when Mr. Halappanavar Insisted he wouldn’t co-operate with a HSE led investigation that included several Galway based doctors on it’s panel.
Pro Choice groups called for the X case to finally be legislated for, while Pro Life groups wrung their hands over things like the ‘suicide clause’ not being included in any legislation (Although I do wonder why any woman would fake being suicidal to get an abortion as opposed to the much easier option of, oh I don’t know, GETTING THE BOAT TO ENGLAND). Now as the year closes it does so with the news that legislation for abortion in line with the X case ruling will be introduced, governed by regulations.
The age of X Factor seems to be ending, as James Arthur only managed to squeak number 2 for Christmas. Overall it seems we’re getting a bit tired of the polished pop reality star- even X Factor USA was won by a 40 year old country singer, and Britain’s Got Talent by a teenage girl with a dancing dog. Glee popularized ‘Somebody that I used to know’ to the point where it became the smash indie hit of the summer, along with fun’s ‘we are young’ and Adele continuing her charts dominance. Glee has slipped from cultural juggernaunt with some modicum of critical acclaim into the realm of the cheesy melodrama it used to parody.
Whew, way too much happened this year, fucking hell. I’ll see you in part 2
Niamh ‘There will be awards at the end of all this’ Keoghan
When I was 12, I’d never been outside of Ireland. Okay, I’d gone to Holyhead on the Ferry but Wales is hardly that far away, and I was seven. So for all intents and purposes I had never been outside of the republic where I was born and raised. All my childhood holidays were to the Aran Islands, or Cork- and endless cycle of annual holidays to East Cork has left me with a starry eyed joy of the place. Cork was also the only other ‘city’ I’d ever been to outside of Dublin. Dublin is the biggest city in Ireland- there is nowhere else like it. with due respect and affection to Cork, Galway, Waterford and the rest, the other handful of cities in Ireland still have that large town vibe around them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it did skew my world view somewhat when I was little. there was Dublin and it was the centre of the universe. I grew up in boom time when Dublin was growing and sparkling and bustling. I had never seen a bigger place and so assumed Dublin was the equal of London and Paris and New York.
So when I was 12 and went on a school trip to London, it fucked my head up rather badly.
[Soundtrack explanation- Whenever I hear ‘Going underground’ it brings me back to being 12. The nervous, jangling chords, the energy of being young and frightened and excited. I only heard it when I was about 16, but for some reason it always bring me back to 2004/2005.]
Firstly there was actually getting to London. My first ever time on an airplane was wedged between my history teacher and my business teacher (Who happened to be married to one another) on an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Heathrow. I’d never been inside a plane before. It was smaller than the picture in my head- having only seen films with massive three aisle jumbo jets, the little 737 we flew in was… quaint. This was my first hint that I was coming from a small place. We flew out at about 8 in the morning- I still dream about the force of the acceleration pushing me back into my seat and seeing the grass and landmarks whip past as we took off. I was thrilled and frightened- Goodbye home, goodbye for three whole days! I’d never been anywhere without my family before. ‘So what do you think?’ My teacher asked when we’d taken off.
‘Can we do that again?!’ I said gleefully.
I passed through London in a sugar buzzed, blissed out dream state for three days, getting ferried around with 30 other First years. The thing that struck me then was the sheer size of the place. Dublin has a greater population- taking in suburbs and the rapidly decreasing rural north county- of about 1.5 million. Greater london has 14 million. The conveyor belts that whizz you through Heathrow and the tube stations fascinated me. I never realised that cities have their own personality. Galway is beautiful and kind of sexy, Waterford is playful and artsy, Cork is rustic and warm, and Dublin is made of a million contradictions- it’s Irish but has the strongest colonial heritage in it’s architecture. What made London so dream like to me was that it felt as if I’d been here before. Not only in watching it on the telly, but also in the streets of Dublin. My home city was a miniature of London, the second city of an empire that I was only just now visiting. Everything felt familiar, but scaled up. Instead of green post boxes and buses there was bright, pillar box red. The tube was a winding labyrinth that led everywhere- I still have my map somewhere, a snapshot of the network in 2005 before the extension to Heathrow terminal 5 was finished.
Everywhere was covered in ‘back the bid’ posters- This was March 2005, when the push was on to promote London as the host of the 2012 games. I remember thinking then how far away 2012 was. ‘I’ll be twenty then.’ I explained in a low voice to my History teacher (A woman of unending understanding who taught me many useful lessons in being a badass). ‘Like… I’ll be in college. I’ll be ANCIENT.’ I loved the whoosh sound the underground trains made when they came into the stations, I loved the curving tunnels. I loved the thrill of wires running along the tunnels and the grimy air. It was a world I’d never seen before. This was a huge, sprawling, breathing city. It wasn’t as self consciously booming as Dublin was at that time. London simply stood there, staring me down and went ‘Well?’ It was my first tentative step into a larger world. It made my own dear little Dublin so much smaller and well loved. London was a good place to go- at 12 when you’re growing and changing and discovering parts of your personality the way you used to discover imaginary lands. I was exploding and expanding the way Dublin was- and here was London not giving an absolute shit about it. It was humbling.
A few months later, I’d come down the stairs in my grandmothers while staying with her for my Easter holidays and see Sky News reporting the 7/7 bombings. It hit me so much harder and more immediately than 9/11 had- I was older, and had been on those trains even for only a few days. It brought the real, big world smashing back into my sitting room. I’d left London after three days and slid back into the routine of double Irish, PE, being morose and wishing I could be older, taller, cooler and all around better. I wanted to be as self assured and cool as London was, but I was still grubby and self consciously growing. Watching London 2012 arrive and depart brought me right back to that seat in Notting Hill tube station with my innocent smile and my nervous voice, waiting for the train to come in.
I haven’t been back to London in 7 years, but it looms very large in my mind.
Niamh ‘London Calling’ Keoghan
Oh London 2012. You have yet to officially begin and already you provide me with this splendor. I’m still going to be very disappointed if David Tennant dressed as the tenth doctor doesn’t light the Olympic flame.
Woke up at about 12 noon, as summer holidaying students are wont to do
Checked twitter on phone, only to find this lovely article surmising how Republican Party Presidential candidate is getting on with his campaign’s trip to London. Supposedly manufactured to showcase the candidate’s diplomatic relation skillz, all it’s been so far is an utter and complete shambles. A HILARIOUS shambles. Imagine if you will a guest coming into your home and very loudly proclaiming your dinner is a badly planned disaster and they’re unsure how dessert is going to turn out. That’s pretty much how Romney’s been conducting himself. I don’t think it’s very wise to sass your hosts about their big huge international sporting event the day before it starts, as if anyone gives a shit what you think about it…
‘There are a few things that were disconcerting… The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging.’
My immediate reaction to this was ‘what a cunt.’ This sort of bullshit goes beyond any of my personal beef with Romney’s policies- He just sounds like an ignorant, self important arsehole. Doing the rounds today is an extract from his 2010 book (Mitt Romney has a book, Katie Price has a book… I feel so sub par) Where Romney basically says England isn’t really very important and nobody likes it much. Oh and it only escaped the Nazis because it’s an Island. Sneaking fucking England, riding on the glory of being an island…
At this point (Around 12:07 PM) I’m still lying in bed with a massive grin on my face. It’s the sort of grin you get when somebody is being self important and nobody is buying it. I cheered in triumph when I heard David Cameron’s back-Sass to Romney
We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.
Take THAT, Salt Lake City!
I never thought I’d be rooting for Cameron in anything but compared to Romney he’s a socialist icon. When you are more elitist and arsey than David fucking Cameron, you need to stop at once and reassess your goals. Romney seems to have staggered into the UK on a great wave of self important arrogance, one that he has no real power to back up with. Say what you want about George W Bush and his many gaffes, at least he was an actual head of state with nukes and an army and some reason for people to listen to him. Romney’s just a rich idiot running for election- it’s like Dana popping over on a state visit to the Olympics OH GOD I want to see Dana on a state visit right now.
When you seem more pompous and silly than Borris Johnson you REALLY have to reassess your goals, and even the fluffy haired mayor of London got his tuppence ha’penny in against Romney slagging off London. But really I have to ask, what on earth was Rom nom thinking? He was a key organising force behind the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City Utah, but are the two things comparable? Beyond the two events being major international sporting events under the olympic banner, I can’t see them having much in common logistically- At least not enough to justify Romney getting on his high horse about it. Extra points for getting Londoners riled up about the Olympics at last.
My favourite thing about this isn’t actually the reveal that he met with the head of MI6 (something he’s not supposed to say), but his clumsy naming of EVERY SINGLE CONFLICT ZONE around the world. That must have been a very long chat, to have discussed the problems and challenges faced by each of those regions- To even begin explaining about most of them in the most scant details would take a while. I know he’s sound biting but it’s just so false and smarmy.
I don’t know why, I just like seeing arrogant idiots flapping in and making tits of themselves. There’s a sort of Schadenfreude at work here. I don’t think it’ll be particularly damaging to Rom Nom’s presidential aspirations- Casually brushing off the gaffes one of his advisers basically told they don’t give a crap what the UK thinks, they only care about voters back in America so THERE, we’re taking our ball and going HOME. At every turn Romney seems to make a faux paus- Forgetting Ed Milliband’s name and calling him ‘Mister Leader’ as if he’s the despotic head of some backwater communist dictatorship, or revealing he met with the head of MI6, a meeting that was supposed to be kept secret. He’s like a small child bumbling through an adults carefully planned dinner party.
My new fave quote is from another of Rom Nom’s advisers, speaking of US-British ties-
‘We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.’
All I can say is that by half past noon, I was a very entertained girl indeed.
Niamh ‘I’m trying to make Rom Nom happen’ Keoghan