Tuesday 17 September 2019

Ciara O'Connor: Millennial Diary

Vogue and Spencer. Photo: PA
Vogue and Spencer. Photo: PA

Ciara O'Connor

Rugby lads drinking. Rugby lads chanting. Rugby lads taking their clothes off and roaming the streets with purloined traffic cones. Oh, those rugby lads and their banter. Jacob Stockdale, Ulster rugby lad, last week: "Right now I've just got five or six big bits [of Lego] - the Millennium Falcon, Yoda's Starfighter, I've got the New York skyline in Lego, things like that. I'm adding bits and pieces to it but it's very early stages."

Rugby lads, eh? Every so often, in the landfill of horror that is the internet, you come across something that gives you hope for the future, something that makes your heart lighter and puts your plans to move to a cave in the middle of nowhere, far away from humanity, on hold. This interview with 22-year-old Jacob was one such thing, as pure an example of #wholesomecontent as you're likely to find this month.

In it, Stockdale earnestly explained his current passion for Lego, as a way to relax before big matches. As a big fan of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, he wisely muses that it's best to call yourself a nerd before someone else does. He's rooming with Ulster team-mate Iain Henderson at the moment, "another man that's into his Lego as well".

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These nice young men, seeking mindfulness and good, clean fun through tiny coloured bricks, could represent the future of rugby.

In recent years, university rugby clubs have been the subject of much scrutiny, forcing boozy and humiliating initiations to slowly become a thing of the past. The sheen has come off 'lad culture' which seemed for a long time to be inseparable from the game. But rugby finally, perhaps reluctantly, is moving into the 21st Century. After the events of this year, it doesn't have a choice.

As for Stockdale, I'm not sure whether I want to mother him or marry him - but he, with his Millennium Falcon, has definitely awakened some strong feelings in me. And yes, for the first time in a long time - yesterday, I watched the match.

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The fact that Vogue and Spencer are starring in their own reality TV show was only made public last week, but it feels so perfectly right and logical that it seems, on some level, we have always known.

Of course, reality TV is the invisible third partner in Vogue and Spencer's relationship: they met on the set of The Jump in 2016. Spencer leapt to dubious fame off the back of Made in Chelsea in 2011, while Vogue's career was kick-started by appearing in Fade Street, an earlier, Irish, somehow more depressing Made in Chelsea. Since then, Vogue has proved herself one of the world's hardest-working reality craftspeople, appearing in Australian Dancing with the Stars before more dancing on Stepping Out with Brian McFadden and winning Bear Grylls: Mission Survive. Before The Jump, Spencer enjoyed a short-lived stint on I'm a Celebrity and prime position on The Bachelor. They are true aficionados of the gig economy.

However, if you were thinking that Spencer and Vogue: Adult(ish) will be anything at all like their previous work, you would be very, very wrong. People: this is completely different. Spencer reckons it's the 'precise opposite' to MIC, that it's more like 'unscripted comedy' or The Office - that critically acclaimed, multi-award winning show that's arguably the most successful British comedy export of all time.

Spencer said: "If you like my sarcastic, blunt Insta Stories then you will LOVE my wife and my NEW SHOW!!!" In the interests of research, I checked out one of Spencer's Instagram stories: he pretends he doesn't know where his hat is from, saying, "Uh, I don't know, it's just a black beanie. Pick one up from any store," which is pretty disingenuous given he is essentially a #sponsored influencer. He snoozes in front of a news report on Brexit. Lol! He points out that Elephant and Castle is a very strange name for a place. Stop it, Spencer! You're a card! He sneaks up and frightens Vogue as she's brushing her teeth and then does an impression of her being frightened complete with Paddy accent. WHY HAS IT TAKEN THIS LONG TO GIVE THIS MAN HIS OWN TV SHOW?

In fairness, even Ricky Gervais couldn't have written it, not for all the Golden Globes in the world. Irony only stretches so far. But Spencer could well be a secret genius performance artist, preparing for his greatest show yet. I'll be holding my breath until January.

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Tomorrow is International Men's Day; for feminists everywhere, it's a date less forgettable than our own birthdays. Because every time International Women's Day rolls around in March, with its parades and its events, there is a choir of witty men's-rights types who, with a raised eyebrow and a smug smile say, 'Well, when's International MEN'S Day! That's what I'd like to know.' It's the kind of ground-breaking comedy Spencer Matthews would be proud of. Anyway, we respond with a practised, 'There is indeed an International Men's Day. It is the nineteenth of November.' If we're feeling sassy and hilarious, we might say, 'Every day is International Men's Day'. Oh, the laughs we have!

There are complaints about the lack of parades and events for IMD, as if the women who work so hard to organise marches for IWD should be doing the same tomorrow in the interests of equality. Men shouldn't have to do it themselves, should they? That's not very feminist! Honest to God, it's a wonder they managed to organise 2,000 years of patriarchy and capitalism.

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Millennials have spent the last year sinking further and further back into our seats with mortification in the face of Kanye's cuddles with Trump in the Oval Office, his penchant for 'Make America Great Again' headwear, and his speechifying about slavery as a choice. White millennials have had a difficult few months of self-reflection about our right to judge Kanye for his perceived betrayal of black people in America. We were rightly told we needed to sit down and shut up. Nevertheless, it was with relief that we read Kanye's recent tweet about distancing himself from politics and concentrating on creativity. He said he realised he had been 'used' to 'spread messages' he doesn't believe in.

Last week, his wife Kim Kardashian explained that West is "very not political, actually. He just happens to like Donald Trump's personality - but doesn't know about the politics... so I've educated him recently". What a wonderful 2018 image: Kim K, political educator. She conceded that she was basically a translator for her 'poor communicator' of a husband, as women around the world nodded sympathetically.

But it seems Kanye has moved swiftly on to another megalomaniac despot, posting a picture last Friday of himself with Mark Zuckerberg. Apparently, the pair performed the Backstreet Boys' 1999 hit I Want It That Way at karaoke. Another one for the 'WTF 2018' scrapbook.

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