Best of the article oldies…


GRANTED, THE FOLLOWING list has not been compiled scientifically. Nor is it based on the universal experience of scholars. Although I do write from a good few years of experience which is enough for a blog.

So, if you’re aged between 16 and 23 (come on now, if you’re older than this get a job and stop mucking about) and have placed yourself within the education system in order to grab some skills, entertain those grey cells, avoid recession (sort of) and fill up the golden, non-wrinkly days of your life all at the same time, or have already done so, then perhaps you will find the following avoidance behaviours familiar. So here goes:

10.  Go out and buy something, anything

Students, with their famously humongous amount of disposable income from loans, overdrafts, part-time jobs, mummy and daddy funds and tax dodging will often feel the need to accumulate bags filled with shop-fresh possessions. As revision so typically requires a nice new pen, a thick pad of paper, post-its, glue, gel pens…and then maybe a stapler, a new box of teabags, oh yes, definitely need some milk then, ah, and some revision munchies, yeah that’s an idea I’ll stock up while I’m ‘ere…

And so we (now bankrupt) students regress to a consumerist state thinking we’ve achieved our goals or somfink like that.

9.Check out trashy gossip that in the long run, means nout. Nothing. Nada.

D-Listed, Celebitchy and the quintessential Perez Hilton are all popular because students hit these sites every thirty minutes to check if farty little Disneytron Miley Cyrus has been caught copping blow up her underage left nostril with a bendy straw yet or, you know, if farty skinny ex-Disneytron Lindsay Lohan is copping some blow or whatever.

8.Tidy up the desk…and then the wardrobe, room and house

Hard-working people perceive students badly: as lazy tramps who can’t cook, refuse to clean and waste money earning worthless degrees that hard-working middle-aged people could do with their hands and faces covered in duct tape whilst listening to their favourite Kaiser-we-write-songs-that-sound-like-nursery-rhymes-Chiefs. Or Keane.

But yeah, like, students are also seen as untidy, ungrown teenagers. As soon as exam revision looms, especially in the last two weeks, being tidy is top priority. Tidy space, tidy mind, right? Wrong. ‘Tidy space’ means developing OCD-like symptoms whereby putting books into alphabetical order is an incredibly appealing task.

7.Run up the phone bill

Ringing people for decent conversation is normal. And it is usually productive. It is, of course, especially productive when you rant on and on about how much stress the revision is causing, how much revision hasn’t been done.
“How much have YOU done?”
“I did a few pages-”
“Oh God I should really do more,” and so the conversation develops into a guiltfest. The more anxious and hysterical will wonder why they ended up in university in the first place, consider dropping out, ring a non-judgemental relative and subsequently, screw their heads back on. Or, the conversation turns into a reminiscence about how on the way to on their last night out (which was almost over two weeks ago now and this fact causes great sadness), you were all stomach-laughing at the stoned fat bloke writhing around the pole on the Magic Bus asking everyone to pay him for his “underrated” service to the public. And at the time, you thought he was damn right, but you didn’t pay him, you fiend.

6.Start a blog or journal

Does the job.

5.Manage files on the laptop

we want human teachers//getty

Obviously its a bit of a middle-class assumption to claim that most students own one, so apologies. But if you’re out and about in the library, a cafe with wi-fi or just sitting at home with your plug-in baby, you can guarantee that what you’re actually doing is purging all waste from it by figuring out which Word docs and pdfs that seemed useful at the time of download can be safely deleted. There’s something satisfying about the sound of scrunching up paper that doesn’t exist.

4.Use Blackboard Learning System

Online learning evokes latent student nihilism: there is no point.

3.Check the TV Guide

Most students “don’t” own a television or leave it unplugged in case licence sniffermen come knocking for a grand in their hand, now! Checking the TV guide has many purposes apart from breaking your heart by finding out you’ve missed Fresh Prince and will now have to read that textbook chapter, as you promised yourself; it can also provide inspiration for breaking more laws by watching Family Guy, Grey’s, Heroes, House and classic films you always meant to watch thanks to all those pretty Japanese websites and American websites that keep having to change their name.

2.Gig/club tickets

Not exactly events management, although you believe at this rate it is a viable career option; it’s more…managing the events you attend in the future once the exams are over. This includes checking whether the Britney tickets have gone down in price or not. (No? Not a fan? Just me then.) Planning ahead is a skill all employers want after all. And with new technology it is rather easy handling a youthful and therefore bustling social life, so you check:


It. Has. To. Be. In. Your. Face. At. All. Times.

The more studious of students (hahahahaha, hilarious) will think this list rather effusive, if not highly inaccurrate, pessimistic and highly depreciative of the academic population.

To that I say: get a life and earn your 2:1 the hard way like the rest of us.


NEWS OF THE WORLD in their infinite wisdom have slapped more red paint across Jonny Ross’ CV, slamming his radio ad lib sesh as ’sick’.

Protecting the non-existent preciousness of their readers, the tabloids were out in force this morning in an attempt to sabotage Jonathan Ross’ career. As theDaily Mail are again calling for the Estuary accented bloke to get sacked, maybe it is worth considering the consequences of losing Ross.

There wouldn’t be any less Londoncentrism, but losing the Friday Night would be another blow for the Beeb and the time-honoured tradition of asking Tom Cruise about flatulence. Ross, unlike his predecessor Parky, bites. He keeps his show relevant, comprehensible to a cosied-up audience that chooses to stay in on Friday and by teasing with puerile and facetious humour as well as banter,  he moves away from a lot of mediocrity found on the same channel. Kissing goodbye to someone as marginally controversial as him would be a mistake.  He is entertaining and appealing to a generation of multichannelists who would tire of watered down talkshow mush (pray this never happens) to the point where they’d be pleading with OfCom to not pay the licence fee.


Ross isn’t marketed as a creative comedian but a presenter, so naturally, it’s his job to gob off.

Russell Brand, former partner in crime, is marketed as a comedian although thanks to the Daily Mail, the yokelling suburban bandwagoners and the resulting Sachsgate, he has moved onto greater things with Johnny Depp. How does that look on the BBC? Or Channel 4, for that matter, who decided to keep him on the books? As much as I despise saying it, Disney have got a better idea of what the ’sick’ media consumers want.

The BBC are actually responsible for a lot worse than Jonny Ross. Like ‘comedian’ Jim Davidson with his casual racism and sexism who for years, presented the pre-watershed Generation Game. The Mail and NOTW reckoned it was OK for the Beeb to pay a bloke who ridicules ethnic minorities but heavens, it’s really not okay for Jonathan Ross to swear, (no – a linguistic travesty!) make jokes about sex (not in a puritan country as ours!) or old people (but they are the stalwarts of society who we wouldn’t dream of ditching in homes) or for him to…be himself.

I’m more offended by shows that pander to the opposite – mundanity and saving face. You know those shows that promote the boring, shallow, make-yourself-beautiful-by-doing-what-we-say culture. For example, I watch  ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid?’ on BBC Three, and whilst I like the fact that it trashes the plastic look women are told to aspire to, it still has as its central premise that women should “dramatically make-under” themselves by having their appearance judged by a robot called “Pod”  in order to become more attractive to the opposite sex.

And because I didn’t like what I saw on a particular episode, I did the following: SWITCHED OVER. It’s not that hard to turn the dial on an old radio, either. When was it that audiences had forgotten they have choice?

Who gave them that idea?




Student Direct chats to Hardeep Singh Kohli

Now then. Here’s a man who arguably, at least, belongs on the cover of GQ more so than the allegedly woman beating (but definitely larynx-destroying) Christian Bale. After managing restaurants across Glasgow, Hardeep first caught the public’s eye as a prolific figure at the BBC and a successful era at Channel 4’s Comedy Lab. Since then he’s made a career of everything media: author, broadcaster, presenter and comedian.

Hardeep has just published a culinary travelogue – cooking up British dishes in India and is on the Man Booker Prize panel this year.

He took time out from an extremely busy day with Amnesty International in London to chat to Student Direct about laughing, how Manchester could be a nicer place – and the best way to get laid.

Hi Hardeep. How are you?

I’m well thankyou, although [looks at phone] it has been non-stop today. And there’s no signal in this place. (Disclaimer: SD did not lock Hardeep up in a basement purely for an interview, we just happened to be in a basement – Jane)

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Hardeep. First question – what is it that you have against Manchester?

Just that it’s just Manchester!

That’s not a bad thing. Come on.

Manchester should meld with Liverpool. Imagine what that would be like! Okay, I don’t like Manchester because I’m an Arsenal fan. [Much laughter from both sides.] Listen. I’ve lived in Manchester. In fact I lived in Manchester for about a year. In Whitworth Street, do you know where I mean?

Yes. So talk to me about your career. What’s was a career high for you?

Just having a career was a high for me. I enjoyed working for the BBC and Granada…doing Reportage [an old Manchester show with Janet Street Porter] in my youth. Ah, youth, I liked being young!

Many middle aged people don’t like students. Are you one of them?

I have a lot of time for students. When you’re a student, it’s like being at the thing end of the wedge. It’s exciting to be around idealism, and talking to students is a bit like recharging your own idealism.I had great student days.

What inspires you Hardeep?

What inspires me? Really good music, great food, fantastically made shoes. The love of a good person, non-gender specific. And learning and listening like you!

Seeing as we’re at Amnesty International today, it seems right to ask: how did you come to be interested in human rights, and are you passionate about any issue in particular?

I think it’s difficult being someone of colour and not being passionate about human rights. I’m very interested in sexism. Women are still quite hard done by in society, across the world. I want everyone to have equal rights. I want women to find a cure for cancer, for all women to have access to a decent education…I want a female diplomat to find a way through it all. Although hat’s probably quite selfishly motivated, for women to rule the world… oh, the amazing shoes they would rule in!

Some people would argue that you’re a comedian.

I’m not a comedian.

You are. You’re funny.

Thanks. But I’m more of a broadcaster.

You are a comedian too, though. Really.

Okay. Fine. I’m a comedian.

What is good comedy?

The best comedy by far is comedy that happens by mistake, ’cause it’s bloody hard work otherwise. I’d rather be a writer that’s funny than a comedian who’s formulaic. I have this firm belief: something happens when you laugh. You take in a little more information. You have a memory for laughter you know.

Like muscles have memory?

Yeah! You laugh, it makes you think. So you laugh and you learn more. Think about it, you might find a man more attractive if he’s fit or he’s funny. So as a man who makes people laugh, I’m more likely to get sex.

And so timely ends our interview as an important-looking man with a walkie talkie and a suit beckons SD with a stiff thumb. Time’s up. We take notes for next time: – wear hotter shoes.//Published Student Direct 27th October 2008

Indigo Night Live Launch
@ MoHo, Manchester (07/11/08)

MoHo is the refurbished dive at the back of Afflecks that is quickly becoming the altar of live music worship. Indigo proved itself a fair addition to the venue’s inventory on its launch night.

With the crushingly low ceiling functioning as a container purely for the Manchester cool kids tired of 5th Ave and 42s being overrun by stinky undergraduates, 11 bands bashed their way through the evening battle-style, but there was very little, well, clubbing. Especially in Room One.


Apart from this one guy who was rhythmically skitting between the two MoHo rooms indecisively and prancing about in front of each stage. It’s a shame no-one cared to join him. Eventually I got tipsy enough to follow dancing guy, and in doing so, discovered a band in Room Two called The Russian Dolls, who were astounding. Actually astounding, feet-achingly astounding and it showed as the clubbers were lapping up the spitting distance between themselves and the hairy guitar crew. It’s when you have moments like this that you realise the need for Scouting For Girls to be destroyed.

Parts of the audience were particularly cliquey, which made Indigo’s launch night feel more like a gig rather than the clubbing atmosphere the promoters were going for: there were sofas and the drinks were priced a bit beyond the average. You were either mates of the band, family of the band or ditto of the DJs (resident DJ Phil Beckett by the way, was on super sharp form throughout the evening with an irresistibly self-satisfied set of dirty mashups, like Stereo MC and Bowie, Cypress Hill and Kasabian – who’d have though it?) In fact, the DJs should have been stealing the show but wasted their talent on a crowd who couldn’t care less about them until it got past the magic midnight hour. Pushing the evening through to 4am was definitely a good idea as the crowd got louder, but not necessarily much bigger than it was at the witching hour. And dancing guy was still around.

Unlike The Aftershow, Indigo lacks the glamour, yet the night manages to retain all the attitude from that terribly bankable Northern Quarter label without the shallow indie-tourism that goes with it.


Ed Miliband has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in Parliament since his 2005 election as MP for Doncaster.

Although he admits, “You may have heard of Miliband – my much more famous brother,” the Cabinet Office Minister certainly comes across as self-assured and surprisingly charming. Even if he is prone, on occasion, to the odd provocation: “I don’t think politics are very good in this country.”

The Rt. Hon. Ed, 38, is often perceived as the easygoing sibling. Enjoying a central position in the Labour entourage, his extra-constituency surgery job is chasing up notes for Labour’s new Manifesto. His third-sector position within the party appeared to allow him the flexibility, as last Tuesday he held a talk entitled ‘The Future for Labour and for Britain’ for University of Manchester students in the Biko Building. The panel also included Lucy Powell, South Manchester Labour candidate and Mike Joslin, the Chair of Manchester Labour Students.

We asked Mr Miliband about the possible removal of the tuition fee cap. This cap currently means that fees cannot go beyond inflation, i.e. the 2008/2009 £3,145 UK resident home fee includes top-up fees and inflation costs only. “The review that we’re having is under serious review,” said the struggling Labour Manifesto Coordinator.

“We’re going to have a look [at] what’s happened. I’ll be honest with you. I think that it’s right that the majority of students [are] going to university. I think that’s the right thing to do…I explained that I want to expand access, particularly to working-class students by helping students make a contribution to their own education. But we obviously do that in the fairest way possible.”

Mike Joslin said he was pleased with the event. “Who said Labour was dead? Who said politics were dead? In the last two days we have 140 new paid up members. That’s more than David Cameron added to his constituency in three

years.” //Published Student Direct 29th September 2008


“WATCH OUT BBC, ITV…we’re coming after you!”

Will David Cameron’s casually stated (or, to make an oppositional reading, scripted) order of precedence – the broadcast institutions first, the “vlogs” afterwards – remain the status quo in 21st century politics?cameron

YouTube, a free video website, began in February 2005. A few clips of exploding Diet Coke bottles later, the site underwent a meteoric rise to fame globally, and a defiant increase in unique hits (currently claimed to be 20,000,000 a month) soon challenged the oligopoly’s grip on entertainment, influence and Old Media copyrights. Then came Webcameron’s launch a year later in September 2006. It marked the beginnings of a new age in the relationship between politics and the media: no gatekeeper (unless YouTube’s new owners, Google decide to create one), an escape from the Paxmanesque rigours of critical analysis in broadcast news media, and the potential to reach a youth market considered more likely to tune in to Gordon Ramsay, than register to vote.

Politicians can now look directly at the camera, not at Andrew Marr, and just tell it how they want to. Unless they’re Tony Blair making a nervous, “fresh, first hand” vlog debut. Eyes engaged or not – could YouTube deprive us of intellectual debate?

No. The hypodermic model is a bit wrinkly now. Like Gramsci said, we are autonomous individuals, and to assume that hegemony exists without a struggle, is a bit silly. Well, he didn’t use the word silly. The simple prefix of RE: to a new clip challenges the perception of a passive audience – we’re not just taking it, we’re digesting it and spitting bits of it back up again. A new hegemony is being battled for on our computer screens every minute of our lives. YouTube is no deceptive name then. In a dangerously unqualified attempt to coin a new term, I reckon it could be seen as a form of, here goes, Media Transport.
I’ll explain. Convergence, plus a sort of globalisation, (only that the information feed isn’t one way, it’s reciprocal;) equals a big communal network where active, labouring audience members can access each other, visually constructing and deconstructing opinions. YouTube, it can be said, serves as a democratising medium. From a Marxist perspective, it could be said that some of the production powers have been taken back from the larger institutions. Video clips are an example of how “labourers”, or active audience members, are no longer isolated from their own creations. Hopefully some Pinky research grad and a Brain professor will make better use of my quasi-academia, but you get the picture. The clip. The vlog…
However, is this all too idealistic? Is YouTube really a force for democracy, when you have big politicians swinging their PR swords at each other for the best see-you-at-the-pub persona? The play’s the thing when MPs are actors too.

Freedom of your own creation
It is an attractive prospect for any politician. They can shape their image and message freely. The connotations on the other hand… (Yes, that’s you I’m talking to, kitchen-sink-and-baby misé-en-scene David Cameron) are they wise to use this wonder of “Web 2.0” as a promotion tool? Or will the politician only look like a tool? In the eyes of what is rapidly becoming a new-media literate audience, probably the latter. Preferred readings only seem to occur on YouTube when watching authentic, ‘handmade’ home movies, and small director movies offer an art form away from the conglomerates. YouTube, then, is an internet portal into the privacy of everyone’s embarrassing lives, lively opinions and individual art. Therefore, negotiated and oppositional readings are more likely to occur when the public arena of politics is reconstructed into such an intimate format. A simple way to put this would be…posing. Identifying a ‘poseur’ (MySpace lingo alert) is made easier in the case of Webcameron, because of the purple, gender-neutral speech bubble that pretty much trademarks each clip. “Hmmmmm,” says the prospective voter, “it looks suspiciously like branding you’d get in an advert.”

Uh oh, politics as a commodity, politics posturing as a home video – “must be propaganda.”

Selling yourself was certainly very popular for politicians in the twentieth century, but when everybody is at it, the unique selling point disappears. And it is undeniable that the recent YouTube onslaught by politicians an attempt to lure young, short-attention spanned people like me. In the UK and the US particularly, a majority of the YouTube audience will be the freshest crop of voters for 2008. Ah, the political internet-makes-the-video-star pandering isn’t so innocent after all.

A Revolution?

Media Guardian legend Jeff Jarvis made it clear that “You(th)Tube” will help to create an electorate revolution. “A message that clicks can be made for nothing and seen by the nation.” So much so, he should probably watch out for his job given the amount of bedroom videojournalists, such as James Koteckie, making their humble debut there. YouTube has provided a platform for all views to be heard. It complies with the reality television genre; only the Chantelle-style success is just a camcorder or mobile phone away. This memtv1grassroots approach could be seen as more appealing to an audience, which is accustomed to an elite of news programme presenters. Dr Graham Meikle of the University of Sydney gives this grassroots approach a fitting term: “participatory culture”. He offers the optimistic opinion that such a culture could prefigure similar conduct in politics.

Certainly, the violent and riotous atmosphere surrounding the hanging of Saddam Hussein was only exposed by a crudely filmed YouTube video. It was almost in complete contrast to the rather formal, controlled execution depicted by the edited footage from news corporations. Even though these images were subsequently scrutinised by the press, the new “participatory culture” had evidently won the battle of hearts and minds.
Yet, does this not suggest that a new class system is emerging, where social groups who have easy access to production tools are the only ones who will be able to join in the hegemonic struggle? Alessandro Aurigi and Stephen Graham first suggested this model of a cyber-literate ruling class, a cyber-competent consuming class and a “digital underclass”.
But still, how can we predict that YouTube is even going to be effective as a catalysing voting?

YouTube versus TV
YouTube could certainly be defined as a multichannel broadcaster. But can we even compare video blogging to the political party television broadcasts we are accustomed to?
The success of Webcameron’s launch was largely dependent on it being publicised on television news – almost directly dependent on news values. Good ol’ Galtung and Ruge to the rescue then. In 2007, the current count of Webcameron clips touches the 70 mark. In the U.S, as the presidential campaigns began to heat up at the dawn of a new financial year, YouTube launched their own political vlog, “Citizen Tube”. It could very well be mark the beginnings of its institutionalisation. Even Murdoch’s MySpace splashed out by launching “The Impact Channel” in order to amass ad revenues from ratings. The old amphitheatre of crowd-pleasing, populist promotion has not changed and never will. Only the technology and the state of political interaction will change. NewsCorp are probably as ready with editorial guidelines as Woolworths were with that minging Kate Middleton and Prince William crockery.
So is the political YouTube culture a passing fad? When broadcasts become as prolific as a press release, their predictability could suggest PR burnout in years to come. Unless, of course, there is the value of negativity, such as coverage of “hoodies”, marginalized as un-hugged juvenile delinquents.

But then, news values just aren’t neutral. Take the infamous “Hillary 1984” spoof of Hilary Clinton. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a watershed moment in 21st century media and political advertising”. Yet the massive US news corporations didn’t notice for about two weeks, according to CNNmoney.com. Why so long to define a threshold when Hillary Clinton is an elite person? Because this particular viral clip had to become an epidemic first. Here is where YouTube’s advantage of being instantaneous ensures its success – it’s contagious and it’s perceived as most up to date. This could have more political sway than broadcast media in the future. YouTube lacks the mediation and authorisation processes within our current multi-channel, 24-hour news culture. Truth is, we will not know of YouTube’s clout for sure until the votes are counted.obama-hillary

So for now, it’s just YouTube, not some advertising tunnel of doom. The distributor/portal/channel/broadcaster is the home of technologically mobile people entertaining each other, from a distance, and for free. The music videos snatched from Viacom’s MTV, clips snatched from many other channels, trailers, films…it’s a minefield for potential lawsuits. I’ll conclude with the consensus view, which is that legislation is the only power left that could destroy YouTube and “participatory culture.” Although it might save itself. But that’s only if the highest number of viewings, ratings and advertised pro-YouTube policies correspond with the agendas of the next governing bodies.

//Published April 2007 in MediaMagazine under Jane ‘Moose’ McConnell.


5 responses to “★VINTAGE WORD

  1. First of all I would like to say excellent blog!

    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.

    I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there.
    I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?
    Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s