Friday 20 September 2019

Ciara O'Connor: Millennial Diary


We watched as baby penguins — their very existence a miracle in the wretched Antarctic — trapped in a gully, struggled up its sides before agonisingly, inevitably, slipping to the bottom again. It was too much. Picture: BBC
We watched as baby penguins — their very existence a miracle in the wretched Antarctic — trapped in a gully, struggled up its sides before agonisingly, inevitably, slipping to the bottom again. It was too much. Picture: BBC

Ciara O'Connor

Last week millennial pope David Attenborough found himself at the centre of a furore about the ethics of saving baby penguins, after the second episode of his documentary series was aired.

Disconsolate viewers who came for the relaxing tones of David's sonorous voice on cute and cuddly penguins were aghast to be confronted by frozen eggs, dead fathers, stillborn chicks and baby-stealing.

We watched as baby penguins - their very existence a miracle in the wretched Antarctic - trapped in a gully, struggled up its sides before agonisingly, inevitably, slipping to the bottom again. It was too much. And it was too much for the crew who had watched them for a year. And so, after much thought and without laying a finger on an animal, they dug some steps: the mummy penguins and baby penguins were saved.

The decision was roundly condemned by people who were suddenly passionate about the proper role of documentarians. Apparently this is the media ethics that we're debating today, in an age of Infowars and fake news. In 2018, leaving fluffy tiny penguins to die at the bottom of an incline is a moral imperative. Because humans shouldn't intervene in the animal kingdom.

It's just not natural! Next thing we'll be relentlessly destroying their habitats, chopping down or melting their homes, and poisoning their food sources with our pollution. Best leave the penguins. It's a slippery slope.


I will never cease to be amazed and moved by the capacity of Irish people to feel deeply about large live music events: the dizzying highs when a big name announces they are gracing us with their presence - the crashing lows when it turns out every other person in the country has the same idea about a trip to the big smoke to hold in a wee for five hours in Croke Park.

Not to mention the animal roar of anguish when extortionately priced tickets pop up on re-sell sites after they're officially sold out.

In Dublin, some quaint souls decided to queue up IRL outside Ticketmaster in St Stephen's Green to get their hands on Spice Girls tickets when they went on sale last week. Presumably they didn't want to take their chances online and wait for the site to inevitably crash, or to accidentally refresh and lose their place in a virtual queue.

(And anyway, I imagine the Blitz spirit at 5am on a cold November morning with a flask of tea and several woolly hats was an experience in itself. Perhaps there was poignant and rousing impromptu renditions of Wannabe. Perhaps new friendships were forged as the assembled huddled, like a colony of David Attenborough's daddy penguins keeping their eggs of 1990s nostalgia warm.)

Tickets, naturally, are going for nearly €500 now after selling out online in a matter of minutes.

I loved the Spice Girls as a child. But we've been there and literally bought the T-shirts. If you want to pretend it's 1999, eat some chicken dippers and demand a password from people trying to enter your bedroom. Practise kissing on a photo of a young Leonardo DiCaprio. It's free.


Every so often a headline comes along that makes me want to give up - because now, surely, every combination of words possible has been written and read. Last week, one such rollercoaster of a headline was gifted to me by the ever-benevolent internet: "Lena Dunham and Brad Pitt host event to psychoanalyse Liam and Noel Gallagher."

The night, entitled 'Champagne Superanalysis' (obviously) was held in LA (obviously) last Sunday, and MC'd by Brad Pitt who opened it with: ''Let's do this, you c**ts."

Obviously, it started on Twitter. Lena Dunham, with millennial-standard excessive exclamation marks and acronyms: "Watched the Oasis documentary and I have a LOT of big opinions about the Gallagher brothers' relationship! I'm a Noel btw!!!"

Musician Ben Lee (me neither) replied: "Noel Gallagher interviews are a sure fire antidepressant for me. But Liam ones work too." And so Dunham, who has forged a career on taking things too far, suggested doing a live reading: "Not kidding."

Someone said they'd pay to see it and that (such is Lena Dunham's life), was that. Apparently the event included interpretive dance, xylophones and re-enactments of interviews. It is unclear whether Lena took out a guitar and started a singalong to Wonderwall. I think I need a lie-down.


Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan came under fire last week from a small but vocal section of the internet I like to call the WAMs (What About the Mens). The actress tweeted her delight at shooting a scene where 11 out of the 12 actors were female and so incurred the spluttering 'reverse sexism!' rage of the internet's mouth-breathers. I'm not sure how they even become aware of this stuff. Like, the kind of man who would be so profoundly distressed by a woman being happy about working with other women in a show predominantly about women presumably doesn't know any women, or follow them on Twitter.

I wonder is there one selfless martyr who keeps tabs on The Women online in order to report back and rally the WAMs troops when anything objectionable is aired?

It wasn't, obviously, that Nicola felt pleased to see the dearth of good roles for women and the general on-screen gender disparity being righted in a small way in front of her; it was that "they just want to feel important in the name of feminism".

Is the title Derry Girls OK? Why not Derry People? For God's sake, what about the Derry men?


And last but not least in this week's round-up of Unbelievable Things People on the Internet Actually Seem to Care About is Sarah Michelle Gellar 'fatshaming' on Instagram. To mark Thanksgiving, the face of every male millennials' sexual awakening posted a throwback photo of herself in lingerie with the caption: "I'm just going to pin these up all over my house as a reminder not to overeat on Thursday."

People reckoned it was fat shaming and pointed out a few times that it was a bad message to send to the 'young girls' who see SMG as a role model. Of course, in reality, no young girls know who she is. Buffy the Vampire Slayer finished its run in 2003; the only people who follow her on Instagram are people who were teenagers then and refuse to accept their own adulthood now: that is, millennials - millennials who should know a facetious joke when they see one.

With very real, harmful messaging about our bodies being pumped out every day, demanding apologies for stuff like this is distracting and insulting. And if Maxim took photographs of me in lingerie in 2007, I would take literally any opportunity to share them with the world today.

Wurk it, Buffy.

Sunday Independent

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