Thursday 22 August 2019

Millennial Diary

Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian

Ciara O'Connor

According to Urban Dictionary, the highest internet authority in the land, 'stan' is a portmanteau of 'stalker' and 'fan' - a stan account is a Twitter or Instagram, or whatever the kids are on these days, that is entirely devoted to worshipping one celebrity. Mostly it's Taylor Swift, or that kid from The Umbrella Academy.

If I had it my way, this column would become a Una Healy stan account. Every morning I wake and ask: "In what way has Una Healy's majesty manifested itself today?" Some dark days the answer from the universe comes back: "Alas, Ben Foden has opened his mouth."

Whether it's setting up a dating profile on Bumble with the line, 'If you're uptight and bossy I'm not for you', or his relentlessly irritating post-split Instagram content, Ben Foden is categorically The Worst. Unfortunately, despite many people telling him this on his comment sections, he hasn't got the message.

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He's currently appearing in the reality TV show, Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, where last week he opened up/overshared about his family life with the mystifying line: "I think it's quite appropriate to do a course like this to put some perspective on everything."

He is incapable of understanding that all anyone wants is for him to take responsibility; he just can't do it. "I never meant to hurt her [Una] in the way I did... At the same time, it wasn't the only reason for our divorce to go through."

No, Ben. Stop. He can't help but feel he's being hard done by. "At the moment anything that's published about me is never very good and pretty rightly so because I was the one who committed adultery." Presumably he hopes if he says it enough times, he'll believe it. Why won't the public apportion Una's fair share of the blame for being so uptight and bossy? What's a man to do?

If Una is providing a masterclass in break-up glow-ups, Ben is a walking instruction booklet of how not to rehabilitate your public image. I swear to God, he'd better not ruin my day again tomorrow.

*******

Last week it emerged that thousands of Amazon employees listen to private conversations recorded in people's homes by their Echo/Alexa. According to two workers at Amazon's Bucharest office, employees work nine hours a day, parsing as many as 1,000 audio clips per shift in order to hone Alexa's speech recognition.

While most of what employees hear is the mundane stuff of life, they send disturbing or embarrassing clips to the group chat to blow off steam. They hear terrible shower-singing and children screaming for help. A couple of times, they believe they've heard sexual assaults happening - but obviously, they can't do anything about it, because of 'privacy'. Which seems to mean the illusion of privacy to secretly transcribe your personal conversations to help your Echo respond better to commands, but not to keep you safe. Because then the illusion would be shattered. Obviously.

Amazon's response to the not-so-shocking revelations was a muddle of jargon: "All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our control environment to protect it."

I'm not sure what it means, but the long words are strangely soothing and already make me feel less outraged. Yes. It's for our own good. Thanks for listening, Amazon.

*******

It is truly a talent to make a calculated, self-serving PR move look like a gracious and compassionate gift to a historically maligned minority - but The Spice Girls, inventors of personal branding, have pulled it out of the bag.

Emma Bunton has said they would be changing some of their lyrics to make them more LGBTQ friendly; in the frustratingly spelled 2 Become 1, the original (nonsensical) line goes 'Any deal that we endeavour, boys and girls feel good together,' but the lyric will now be, 'Once again if we endeavour, love will bring us back together'. This poetic coup was apparently achieved while on the road. "We changed the lyrics in a hotel," humble-bragged a proud and disbelieving Baby Spice. "Thank goodness we're living at a time where everyone is supporting each other so much more now."

Quite. The Spice Girls are so supportive of the LGBT community that Mel B supported Geri out of the bi-curious closet on national TV by non-consensually outing her for an alleged night of sapphic passion at the height of the Spice Girls' fame. Aww. Support.

*******

Other than keeping my Una Healy vision-board up to date, there is nothing I like to do more than make fun of Kim Kardashian. Last week, the most Kardashian of all the Kardashians featured in Vogue with an interview in which she revealed she was training to be a criminal justice lawyer. Last year, Kim used her platform to get the case of a grandmother serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offence in front of the right people to secure her release.

The Vogue interview is positively brimming with quotes that seemed to have been crafted for the express purpose of providing lol-fodder for simple women like me. There's Kim preparing for her meeting with Trump by buying a watch belonging to Jackie Onassis at auction; there's her sisters unfazed by her swerve into the law because, "when Kim was young, she was obsessed with court TV shows". There's the starry-eyed interviewer's comparison with Lincoln, also a lawyer.

There's Kim: "To me, torts is the most confusing, contracts the most boring, and crim law I can do in my sleep. Took my first test, I got a 100. Super easy for me." These low-hanging, ROFL-fruits are sweet and tempting. But, when confronted with a large portion of the internet's incandescent rage at Kim failing to 'stay in her lane', they lose their sheen.

We tear her to shreds for failing to offer anything to society and being a vapid drain on culture generally, and then destroy her for furthering her education.

There's nothing I like more than making fun of Kim Kardashian, and she makes it so easy - but this time, I'm going to give her a week off. The words choke me but fair play, Kim - good luck you strange, strange woman.

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