Hello there! I've just got back from the annual charity folk music
night held to raise money for disadvantaged Irish stereotypes
("Begorrahpalooza") at the local vegan
eaterie and puppy orphanage
. I got held up on the way back when I ran into a kindly old
man, who I lent my coat, wallet and wife. Just until he gets back on his feet, you know.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I was recently inundated with a message from a Mrs. Trellis of North
Wales. "Dear TenMinJoe," they asked me, "why is it that some of the veteran users of Everything2 allude to you being some kind
of angry, malcontented rabble-rouser?" To which I can only laugh and shake my head, wiping away a wistful tear. Not a
lot of people know that years ago, I was an angry young man who vented a great deal of poorly-written spleen into the nodegel,
most of which has thankfully subsequently been rooted out by our diligent editors (with much pointing and laughing).
So when HateQuest 2007 rolled around, I thought it would be a wheeze to relive those days and to try and think of something that
wound me up enough to say "Oh bother!" under my breath before returning to my placid thoughts of rabbits frollicking through
meadows. It turns out there were one or two things.
Firstly there's the word 'community', a terrible word, and one that now
seemingly only has meaning to local politicians. Occasionally it's still used in a quaintly 1990s way to try and soften the harsh
realities of life ("community charge", "community policing"). The "community" is a construct that's always out there, an article of faith for civil servants and middle-aged busybodies.
"Surely you can't be against the community?" it implies, as if the fact that socio-economic Brownian motion has scattered a
bunch of people I've never met and have a statistical probability to want to stab or rob me (or more likely just to be left alone)
in the same geographical area as me should stir up feelings of camaraderie and make me more willing to inconvenience myself for
their sakes. It's not the Iron Age any more. The village-sized number of people that exist in my extended social network are not
dictated by geographical constraints. As for media-appointed "community leaders", don't get me started. I can't identify
anyone who I would describe as a community leader for my community (whatever that is), and would be automatically distrustful of
anyone who claims that they can of theirs.
The only thing worse than people banging on about "the community" are the people in it, specifically the chavs. That's
another topic that's been done to death. Glorification of ignorance, petty violence, bigotry and poor aesthetic taste are worthy
targets of hatred, and all exist quite independently from the influence of social deprivation. To be a chav is to have already
willfully transgressed the acceptable norms of civilised society, and it's simply common sense to expect the worst of them.
Maybe you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover? Hmm, well, if someone walks into a bank wearing a crash helmet you can make a good guess of how things are going to turn out, and likewise if someone chooses of their own volition to dress like someone who likes fighting, reading The Sun and stealing car stereos then it's quite rational to want them to be somewhere else. Whether that's achieved by keeping them at a distance (gated communities are superb) or by meting out swift, terminally violent justice is but a minor detail.
Almost as bad as chavs are the self-righteous keyboard warriors who cluelessly whine about hatred of "chavs" being discrimination
against the working class in the wake of the UK media misappropriating the term. Oh do fuck off. It's blindingly obvious
to anyone who isn't sheltered and delusional that chavs make a conscious decision to be scum. They're not victims of circumstance. To imply that the chav mindset is an inherent characteristic of all poor people is insulting.
I hate people who spit in the street, whether they're chavs or not.
I hate all kinds of reverse snobbery, from the culture in our schools that champions 'vocational' training and systematically undermines the confidence of young people, to the blokey, posturing bullshit of online commentators (such as "The RAM Raider") who can't stand the idea of other people enjoying articulate discussion that they're too thick to participate in.
I could waste plenty of breath berating the Daily Mail and most of the other UK newspapers, who have long since lost any
credibility or integrity they might have had (MMR scandal anyone?). But I have a particular loathing for the afternoon free papers in London, which seem to have been created in the belief that the Metro is somehow too highbrow. The headline and body text of the Murdoch one in particular might as well just read "Look at me! Pick me up, you brainless fucking ninny! Look at my candid photos of "celebrities", you nobody! Woo, look at the controversial things we have to say about feeble-mindedly populist subjects! ZOMG Ken Livingstone is a CRAZY NAZI for interfering with public transport or motorists in any way!" There's genuinely nothing redeeming about the free papers in any way. They're litter shoved in the faces of uninterested people in a hurry by weird losers. (I hate those 'celebrity' magazines like Heat as well - I just can't understand the appeal.)
The only thing that makes commuting more intolerable than free papers is cheap shitty headphones. I've lost count of the
number of journeys where I've had to listen to distorted 'music' leaking from some oblivious little oik with those incompetently designed trademark white buds sticking out of their ears, over the noise of the train and sometimes even from
the other end of the carriage. I long for the day when someone develops a method to remotely destroy them - some kind of directed
electromagnet perhaps, or a long, discrete pair of wirecutters.
Now that children are allowed to travel on buses for free, every bus in the capital comes complete with a huddle of puffer-jacketed
teenagers so educationally stunted that they haven't even figured out that headphones exist, and so resort to playing their
awful music at full blast through their phone's speakers. I tend to avoid buses anyway.
Getting back to the topic of the media, I won't bother to vent spleen at ITV. It's grown to accept that it's completely crap
and destined to implode sooner or later. My malice is reserved for Channel Four. Has any television channel, media outlet, or
indeed any brand fallen as far and as quickly as Channel Four? A channel that once played host to some of the very best comedy in
the world now sees fit to replace it with hateful, talentless, shouty fucknuts like Justin Lee Collins. A channel that devotes vast chunks of airtime to coma-inducing 'aspirational' programmes about buying and doing up houses. A channel that for some bizarre reason thinks that a programme where two cleaning ladies pick through rotting kitchen waste falls under the category of 'entertainment', rather than 'unquantifiably embarrassing wastes of time and money'. They can't even hold on to decent US imports any more. Obviously most of the blame for this on-going trainwreck can be placed on Endemol, whose vapid, terrifyingly lucrative unscripted soap opera Big Brother has permanently banished the concept of artistic worth from the agenda of programme makers.
In spite of being a shadow of it's former self, Channel Four is still smugly assured of its coolness. There's no shortage of things 'meeja' people think are cutting edge and cool which are actually completely shit. Take MySpace. (Please.) Did we need a salted-earth section of the web designed in such a way that nothing of beauty or value can ever
emerge from it? Wasn't GeoCities perfectly adequate? I'm alarmed by the fact that adults I know (admittedly ones at the more
media-wanky end of the spectrum) use MySpace. You don't need a MySpace page unless you're an illiterate teenager or want to extract
money from illiterate teenagers. The fact that MySpace is implicated in the success of The Arctic Monkeys, Lilly Allen and Sandi
Thom is damning enough.
I also hate Second Life, which is essentially the same thing as MySpace except jerkier, and hideously, all-pervasively hyped
in the mainstream media. Second Life allows Sunday supplements to churn out the same pointless stories about "normal journalist lady
tries COM-PU-TERS that are FOR NERDS and thinks they're REALLY WEIRD!" that they were awash with ten years ago about the web. Apart
from being, as virtual worlds go, an insignificant blip compared to World of Warcraft, Lineage, et al, Second Life's popularity is
skewed by the fact that it's A.) free and B.) full of hideous perverts.
I hate people who want to have sex with animals, too. There's genuine hate there, but also some pity that anyone would be so desperate and warped that they're willing to perform hideous crimes against art (if not actual animals) in the hope of gaining acceptance.
What else is rubbish on the internet? I hate most webcomics, especially the ones that, in the absence of humour, artistry or
characterisation, try to cheaply gain reader approval by being nominally 'about' a subject that the reader is interested in - by
which I mean Penny Arcade, and that knock-off of Penny Arcade by the guy who can't do faces, Ctrl-Alt-Del. There are thousands more.
I don't hate Wikipedia, although I am consistently amused by its refusal to acknowledge that it has some glaring shortcomings. I do
however hate both the founders' spin-off projects that I've heard of. Citizendium has a really stupid name, and is blatantly
going to suffer from the problems with Wikipedia that it's trying to present a solution to - it's just going to entrench unreliable
editors further. Wiki Search or whatever it's called now is just a stupid idea. Nobody in the world is unsatisfied with
Google's search results, and the fact people aren't clamouring to enter search queries into Yahoo! Answers should be another clue,
but as the entire project is a scam to extract money from poorly-briefed investors, I doubt these issues have been given too much
thought. Also, Jimmy Wales calling himself "Jimbo": that's just not right.
I'm largely indifferent to the big American corporate games sites (Gamespot, IGN, Gamespy - if that still exists?) with the
exception of 1UP.com, which I have a deep and profound loathing for. 1UP represents the ultimate triumph of publisher PR over
journalistic independence. It employs a staff of inexperienced, starstuck hipsters, know-nothing blowhards and self-absorbed prima
donnas, none of whom have the first clue about games beyond their dimwitted bubble of received opinion and who would happily print
anything they're told in return for being treated as part of 'the industry'. They make no distinction between developers and
marketing representatives, and happily regurgitate statements from press releases that competent writers would scoff at as vacuous
hype. As most of them are American, they've never been exposed to decent games writing and are quite simply oblivious to how laughably bad a job they're doing.
The 1UP site incorporates 'community' features (very much in the vein of MySpace) which seem to be designed purely to reinforce
their repulsive back-slapping attitudes. (On 1UP it's possible to vote a story up, but not down.) The thought that they have any influence over people's opinions or buying habits (I've heard their reviews very accurately described as having all the credibility of the 'reviews' in the sales brochures at the counter of GAME) gives me the creeping heeby jeebies. Basically, fuck 1UP.
Almost as bad as 1UP are the so-called news blogs, which carry no news and are only blogs in terms of the software they use.
Unlike the corporate sites, these make no pretense of striving for professionalism or standards. Shite like Kotaku and Joystiq, who
have no concept of journalistic ethics and instead shamelessly model themselves on supermarket tabloids: taking the most feeble and
transparently false rumours, writing them up with a bizarrely childish lack of objectivity, labelling them with sensationalist headlines and shucking them to RSS aggregators in an attempt to
generate ad revenue.
At the outer ripple of my disgust at the internet come corporate blogs. It's surely cause for concern when someone is so
wrapped up in their day job that they even assume the role of being an ambassador for their employer on their blog. (Blogs are quite
accurately defined by Michael Lopp as "A representation of a person on the
internet".) This action is not simply misguided, it practically signposts deep-seated psychological problems.
It's perfectly fine to make readers aware of who you work for, if you wish to do so. In some cases it's probably a good idea to do
so, in the interest of full disclosure. It's another thing entirely to use a supposedly personal platform to constantly cheerlead
your employers' products and nitpick those of your competitors.
It's likely that the kind of person who does this genuinely believes that they're capable of taking their Employee Hat off and being
as strictly objective as an outsider. It doesn't work like that. Corporate culture doesn't operate at a purely conscious level.
Repeated exposure to products that your friends made, and consensus opinions that are underpinned at some deep level by the
company's interests and strategy, will eventually (and perhaps permanently) colour your opinions and impair your objectivity. Once
the rot sets in it's impossible for the reader to know whether any opinion you express is truly personal or a manifestation of your
Completely unconnectedly, I hate the corporate culture at Microsoft's Home and Entertainment Division. At least the parts of it that are exposed to the public. It must be dispiriting to work for a business that exists for no higher purpose than to damage Sony's bottom line (especially with all the smart people migrating to Google), so you can almost excuse their aspirations to be seen as some kind of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory churning out exciting ideas. Kind of like Nintendo but with more space marines.
The cracks start to appear when you consider that 'visionaries' like J Allard, Peter Moore and Robbie Bach don't have an affinity for games, beyond knowing they're a good side-business for setting up an online marketplace. Or that so many aspects of the Xbox 360's design seemed to be based on the blind assumption that how the PS2 did things was natural law of the universe (proprietary memory cards, proprietary HDD addon, DVD media, region coding, no writeable storage as standard), only to see all of these (consumer-hostile and technically outmoded) conventions discarded by one or other of the rivals consoles.
Or that the Zune exists.
Of course none of this has any bearing on whether their products (or the software that runs on them) are any good, it just causes me to cringe occasionally.
I hate modern PC gamers, who by dint of being too young to know any better, too cheap to buy games that are in any way experimental (or in most cases, just too cheap to buy games full stop), and too readily catered for by Taiwanese manufacturers of horrible gaudy components and cases have more or less scuppered the PC as an interesting games platform.
I hate console gamers who harp on about how importing is so fantastic, as if it's still 1992 and somehow requires insider knowledge, investment or effort to get games early. What are we supposed to say? Congratulations, you are successfully able to use a credit card? The internet has made importing trivial, and the fact that most halfway decent games get international release these days removes a lot of the incentive to bother.
I hate pen and paper RPG designers who loiter around the world of computer games and espouse their boring, largely irrelevant opinions to anyone who'll listen.
I hate high street games retailers who each year strive to stock fewer original games, give over more shelf space to second hand stock, and try to gouge customers with ever more extortionate hardware bundles. It's no wonder the supermarkets and online retailers are kicking their arses.
I hate the TV license fee, not because it's not good value for money, but because it's so deeply entrenched (and the BBC have such deep pockets to lobby for it's continuation) that it's going to be extremely difficult for it to ever be replaced with a fairer, more accountable and more democratic system, even though this is now technically possible (at least, as soon as the analogue switchoff happens) and would allow the government to rein in the vast, inefficient bureaucracy that the BBC has accumulated over the decades. There must surely be a way to distribute public money to the public service efforts of the BBC without also requiring it to be pissed away on televised snooker and Jonathon Ross's pay packet.
I hate smokers who whine about being oppressed instead of having the courtesy to try to avoid subjecting others to their disgusting habit. Stuart Campbell quite eloquently says all that needs to be said on the subject here: http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/ffi/ffi2.htm
I hate Jim Davidson for being clapped out and racist in an unfunny way. He was recently declared bankrupt, excellently. A shame the same can't be said of Richard Littlejohn. You've got to hand it to him, aside from being a horrible bigot, he's certainly cemented himself in the public eye as the most decisively heterosexual man in the country. There's no question of a man who has written hundreds of thousands of words about how much he hates and fears the gays... the fascinating gays... being confused in his sexuality. That would be preposterous.
I also hate the impressionist John Culshaw. He's not a racist (as far as I know), just considerably less funny than he thinks he is. As in, not at all funny. Yet he still turns up on daytime television and as an unwelcome addition to the lineup at charity gigs. Did we learn nothing from Bobby Davro?
Politicians! Mustn't forget to mention some of them. I hate Margaret Thatcher because you've got to remember to keep doing these things. Obviously I also hate the David Cameron, the ghastly fat-faced insincere opportunist toffee-nosed Nazi robot. And Lord Archer. And Lord Coe. And Tony Blair of course, although he'd be easier to hate if he wielded any real power any more. Ruth Kelly is the absolute worst of the Labour lot, though. She's like an escaped, single-minded Westworld robot who emits sparks and smoke whenever asked to make a decision, before reverting to the programming of her sinister Catholic overlords. Needless to say I hate the very idea of faith schools as well.
I hate 4x4s. There's no justification whatsoever for driving one in an urban environment. Especially when you consider that they're often being used to take kids to school. Hmm, I think I'll buy a car that's essentially designed to unwittingly squash toddlers and give the survivors asthma and needlessly drive it a few blocks every day. I remember seeing an item on the local news about 4x4s being used for this purpose. The idiot mum protested that she couldn't let her seven year old go to school on the bus on his own. Well, doy, maybe you should go with him then?
I heartily endorse Ken Livingstone's efforts to tax 4x4s out of existence in London. Until he succeeds, I make do with my own form of protest: Whenever I stop a 4x4 at a zebra crossing I make sure to shoot them a disapproving look. And mouth the words "tiny penis" while making appropriate gesture with thumb and forefinger.
I fucking hate creationists. And animal rights terrorists. And bloodsports fans. And anti-abortionists. There seem to be quite a few branches of 'activism' where actually believing the nonsense you're coming out with or bothering to develop a coherent argument are seen as a secondary concern to spending as much time as possible being an aggravating, sociopathic, attention-seeking wanker.
Alternative medicine, that's another one. It boggles my mind that NHS money is wasted on quacks and charlatans (at least, I get the impression that it is - I really hope I've got the wrong end of the stick on this one). It's exploiting the credulous and desperate, and attempting to dress it up as anything else is pretty much an open admission of that fact.
I also hate (or at least have very little patience for) people who earnestly use the phrase "blind faith in science" to precede their ill-informed argument in favour of mystical mumbo jumbo. Science doesn't make any demands on faith, that's rather the point.
I hate Mac zealots for thinking that people could give a single shit about what operating system they wrap around their browser, and the fact their hardware costs more and breaks all the time is somehow negated by it being all shiny.
I hate the suffix "2.0" being attached to things that aren't software.
And last but not least, I still hate Robbie Williams.