Sunday 4 December 2016

People were talking: Stealing the (dog and pony) show

Anne Marie Scanlon

Published 28/12/2015 | 02:30

The way we were: Kim and Bruce Jenner before his gender- and name-change to Caitlyn
The way we were: Kim and Bruce Jenner before his gender- and name-change to Caitlyn
TV3 reporter Ursula Halligan. Photo: Gerry Mooney.
Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor

It's been quite the year for Caitlyn Jenner, the 66-year-old former patriarch of the Jenner-Kardashian clan.

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When ex-Olympian Bruce transitioned from male to female, the great and good were tripping over themselves to offer congratulations and endorsements. Even President Obama publicly lauded Jenner's "courage".

Jenner rapidly became the poster child for the transgender movement and the cover girl of Vanity Fair magazine. Awards included the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and a Glamour Woman of the Year Award.

God forbid that anyone should say that Caitlyn was as much a crusader for the disempowered as Donald Trump because that was 'transphobic'. The emperor's new clothes were wearing well.

But Caitlyn has fallen foul of the trans community - ­being a rich white transgender in a community that is largely accepting of 'difference' (Hollywood) isn't really all that brave or ground-breaking.

Many celebrities (mostly ones born with ovaries) have come out to criticise Caitlyn, especially after she said "the hardest part of being a woman is figuring out what to wear" during her Glamour Awards acceptance speech.

And, for plenty of ordinary women, who have lived with inequality, 'lady pains', childbirth and #everydaysexism, Caitlyn's dog and pony show is just really getting on our tits (which sadly aren't as nice as hers).

Why voting 'yes' in May was really  a big no-no

Take that, Denmark: 2015 was the year we went top of the Coolest Country in the World league.

Forget about our reputation for being priest-ridden drunks. That was all swept away when 62pc of us said yes to gay ­marriage back in late May.

The global media patronised the bejaysus out of us with headlines that could be summarised under the headline 'Formerly backward bigots do the right thing eventually.'

Of course, the yes vote was a complete disaster for the country. What is the point in becoming the coolest country in the world in late May, when most people have already planned their holidays? Think about all the money we could have taken from foreigners who would gladly pay €11 for a panini just to hang out with the new Danes.

Still, there was no denying the positive buzz coming off the celebrations in the grounds of Dublin Castle. This event was slated to go ahead regardless of the result. That wouldn't have been great if the No side won. Thousands of people saying the Rosary doesn't exactly scream, 'You must visit this country now!' Unless you're the Pope.

It's hard to know how we're going to follow it all up. One thing is for sure: anyone who thinks the upcoming spat over abortion will make us look good wasn't around during the 1980s.

Pat Fitzpatrick

The ins and outs of politics

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It was a year for coming out and going in. The comings-out were kicked off by Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar, who revealed that he was gay in January. Which is to say that he's gay the other months of the year as well, January just happened to be the one when he chose to tell the country.

If he thought this might make the voting public go easier on him in his new job as Health Minister, Leo was swiftly proven wrong as he spent the year being personally blamed for every problem in Irish hospitals.

In December, he made a desperate bid for popularity by, er, launching a new bill to make alcohol more expensive. Yeah, good luck with that one, minister. He does know this is Ireland, right?

More to the liking of the LGBT lobby was TV3 reporter Ursula Halligan (above), who won hearts in May by coming out with a heartfelt testimony of a life without love. Straight people up and down the land couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, saying: "No sex for years? Sure, isn't that the same thing as marriage?"

The goings-in were taken care of by Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, who were jointly convicted of trespass at Shannon Airport, then separately brought by car from Dublin to start very brief jail sentences for non-payment of fines arising from the incident. The cost of taking them both to Limerick prison was €8,000, twice as much as it would've been to just pay the ruddy fines for them. It's economic thinking like this which made the country what it is today.

Eilis O'Hanlon

Feel the armchair fraternité

It was the year of armchair activism and cheap online condolence, a year when humanity evolved to the Bono  method of atrocity management: how to express super-sincere solidarity, while simultaneously making a global event all about yourself.

For the basic bitches this came in the form of the Facebook profile pic which could be overlaid with a flag-like wash. In the summer we all became rainbow-coloured as we bravely fell over ourselves to support a cause - marriage equality - which already had enormous popular support. It was a way to feel like we too had walked a mile in Panti's rhinestone stilettos, if by 'walk a mile' you meant 'go to the settings option'.

Then came the attacks in France and the French flags over everyone's face. It was the one thing that Islamic extremists wouldn't be able to handle, and that the poor battered people of Paris were depending on. Those without Facebook accounts could only stare at their television screens, being totally useless.

The difficult bit with these profile picture changes was how to discreetly change back to normal, without looking like you were abandoning a cause which was obviously very dear to your heart.

For many, that will mean rushing through an engagement (ring pic), having a child (sonogram) or hurriedly adopting an animal (cuteness trumps politics).

But we know you'll do whatever it takes.

Donal Lynch

A load of pants

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It used to be only at Christmas that we were confronted by bearded men in their underpants talking gibberish.

Festive TV ads for fancy underwear and expensive aftershave always feature some hirsute under-dressed chaps rambling on about liberating a damsel trapped in a skyscraper. The male models usually do this while implausibly riding a tiger and spraying some overpriced scent all over themselves.

But with the success of our mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor (above), there's little or no relief from witnessing scantily clad motor-mouths on our screens all year round.

You know something is moving from the Siberian wasteland of societal opprobrium to the cultural mainstream when RTE news are giving MMA the full treatment, complete with the Washington correspondent interviewing loadsamoney fans living it up in Vegas.

And when middle aged newsreaders are talking about chop-downs and hammer-fists like its a delay on the M50, or a farmers' protest, then there's no escape.

They say if you can't beat them, join them. But you can't beat McGregor with a physique like that, and joining him would mean looking like you've entered some George Bernard Shaw lookalike contest. Hopefully what happened in Vegas will just stay in Vegas.

Will Hanafin

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