The Hate List – Volume 16

(Originally published on 5th September, 2010)

  1. Most Haunted. I hate the fact that a successful prime-time programme has been made out of a premise little more convincing than your average YouTube compilation of “floating orbs” (ie. flashlit raindrops). And the fact that the analysis is on a similar level to YouTube comments. I hate the fact that for all the spiritualists, mediums, “parapsychologists” and other spurious experts featured on the programme, not one sceptic is interviewed to point out that nocturnal creaking in an old house can have a perfectly natural explanation. I hate the fact that no-one ever acknowledges or even mentions the possibility of mundane physical phenomena, tricks of perception and imagination, mass hysteria, or plain old deception by the “experts” profiting from the show. And even more than I hate Derek Acorah, who is a shameless fraud and liar, but at least knows what he’s doing, I hate the heifer-eyed credulous moron, Yvette Fielding.
  2. Uri Geller, an unashamed, unrepentant fraud. Look into his eyes, and you will see a cold, empty vacuum. They are the eyes of a man who has lived by lies all his life, and who knows that his entire career, fame and fortune are built on nothing but foul deceit. He is a common scam-artist with pretensions of grandeur, a corrupt, dishonest little worm, and we shouldn’t stand for him any longer. Ignore him. Encourage everyone you know to ignore him. Don’t watch any programmes with him on, don’t buy any magazines with him in, boycott him until his snivelling little lies no longer get him any money or attention. In the name of truth, and the good of society, he must be crushed without mercy.
  3. Danielle Lloyd. At least Jade Goody and Jo O’Meara, after revealing themselves to be disgraceful, racist bullies on Celebrity Big Brother 7, had the remaining decency to crawl under a rock and stay out of the public view (at least until Goody died of cancer and was perversely beatified). But “Dani”, as she’s apparently now known, after dramatically enhancing her fame on the show, has used her bigotted notoriety as a jump-pad to a successful glamour career. And we’ve all let her get away with it by conveniently forgetting how she achieved her fame in the first place. In an interview in the November 2008 issue of Loaded, she was asked what she thought of the latest series of Big Brother, and answered, “it was boring this year. Whenever I turned it on there were people sitting around crying. It’s rubbish.” Sorry about that, Dani. Perhaps some xenophobic persecution would have spiced things up a bit for you?
  4. Hollyoaks. A lot of people, when you ask them how they can watch such an awful programme, say it’s worth watching just for the “fit women”. Wrong, and… wrong. Let’s break this down.
  5. The script of Hollyoaks. Even if the payoff were a live striptease by Helen of Troy, it wouldn’t be enough to compel me to watch the horrendous, squawking drivel which passes for dialogue in Hollyoaks. No two characters ever have anything which could be described as a conversation. The plot proceeds by one screaming argument after another; it’s the only type of scene the scriptwriters seem to be able to manage. And every argument is the same: A shouting at B about how B doesn’t understand what A’s going through; while B shouts the exact same grievance back at A. Neither characters even listen or react to each other. Essentially it’s not a dialogue at all, as they might as well both be screaming at walls in separate rooms. And then you watch several more suchlike arguments, all delivered in unplaceable, grating accents (neither Cheshire, nor pleasant), and then the episode ends. And what was that supposed to be worth watching for?
  6. The female cast of Hollyoaks. The actresses chosen for it are a never-ending sequence of identical, nondescript blondes; the selection process must be some kind of bizarre Turing screen test whereby if a human panel is unable to distinguish the auditionee from the current cast, they pass. If the only survivors of the human race were myself and the actresses of Hollyoaks, I would commit suicide in horror at the unbearable monotony of the task that lay ahead of me. If that weren’t enough motivation, the idea that the new human race which was to be my progeny would have the intellectual capacity of the Hollyoaks cast would surely tip me over the edge. And chief among them, of course, is the uber-harpy:
  7. Gemma Atkinson, another depressing example of the Charlie Dimmock phenomenon. Being completely, critically honest with ourselves, let’s face it: Gemma Atkinson is NOT PARTICULARLY BEAUTIFUL. Her face is podgy and plain, her hair is mousey. She was introduced, originally, as a stock ‘annoying/unattractive’ character (in Hollyoaks the two are synonymous). But by the sole act of acquiring an almost comedically-oversized pair of fake breasts, she’s managed to elevate herself into the A-list of “British glamour babes”, with almost weekly apperances in idiotic lad’s magazines. For shame, British menfolk, for shame.
  8. Also, the Hollyoaks title sequence. I wonder how many times someone used the word “attitude” during the conceptualisation, filming and editing of this. During their tiresome series of arrogant pouts, did any of them stop to consider that anyone so overly eager to be cool, necessarily isn’t?
  9. Will Smith, for whom I’ve harboured a healthy contempt ever since he told the infinitely cooler Tommy Lee Jones that, “the difference between us is, I make this look good.” Apparently he’s now the biggest star in Hollywood, and he’s achieved this by making some truly hateworthy films. I haven’t seen everything he’s done, but what I have seen has been so consistently enraging that I now automatically avoid any film with Will Smith in, for my own health and wellbeing. It’s as if his agent has put out the following statement: “Interested in any project with a special effects budget larger than the GDP of most developing nations, and a promotional campaign which will ensure its status as a blockbuster regardless of merit. Credible storylines and attention to detail not necessary. Book adaptations which piss on the graves of the original authors a speciality.”
  10. Independence Day. I’m amazed this hasn’t appeared on the Hate List before now. It’s my all-time most hated film ever. (The Langoliers is worse, but no-one’s ever seen it or thinks it’s any good, so Independence Day deserves more hatred.) None of it – not one thing which happens in the entire film – makes any sense when you apply the slightest critical thought to it. I could write a whole essay on it, but I’d have to watch it again, and I think that would finally tip me over the edge of sanity into crazy, shouting trampdom.
  11. I, Robot. Isaac Asimov wrote the brilliant, ground-breaking book as a response to what he regarded as lazy, hack SF in which robots are always presented as a menace, turning on their creators. It is an original, clever exploration of the potential unintended consequences of implementing robotic laws to protect humanity, and at no point do the robots “break their programming” and become evil. The film, which is “loosely inspired” in the sense of having the same title as the book, is exactly the sort of lazy, hack SF Asimov abhorred, and is little more than an excuse to show Will Smith running around amidst explosions, advertising Audis and Converse All-Star trainers.
  12. I Am Legend. Another filthy Will Smith adaptation of an excellent book, this time sharing only the premise that the main character is the last human alive after the rest of the world have been turned mysteriously into vampires. And also that a dog is involved somehow. The thing that annoys me the most is the title. In the book, the true meaning of the title is only revealed right at the very end, in an astounding twist of such dark genius that it makes you reinterpret the entire book you’ve just read. In the film, the title means nothing more profound than saying that the main character is, like, a total legend, because he’s Will Smith and he’s such a fucking hero and he saves the world.
  13. The Langoliers. There’s not much point ranting about this either, since no-one else has ever seen it. But if you want to host an ironic “bad film” party, I’d recommend it, as it’ll have you punching yourself in the face in distress, bewildered at how such an awful, ill-conceived mess could ever have been made. The cheesy stock characters, terrible dialogue and nonsensical premise and plot are bad enough. But the most astounding moment comes when, after the film has been trying throughout to build up an ominous sense of impending doom as the Langoliers approach, they actually appear over the horizon, looking like an early 90s dance music video CGI animator’s humorous attempt to depict a giant, evil 3D Pacman. Its only saving grace is the complete absence of Will Smith.
  14. Hip hop songs which sample better songs. Two good examples are Young Forever by Jay-Z (sampling Forever Young by Alphaville), and Shot You Down by Audio Bullys (sampling Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Nancy Sinatra). Like muted music television channels in crap bars, they just remind you of something better that you could be listening to instead. In fact, they’re even worse, because you actually get to hear a bit of it, think you’re about to hear a song you enjoy, then realise that it’s probably the sampled version and that your mind is about to be raped by some hideous electronic beat or shouting twat.
  15. Music tracks which sample siren sounds, and confuse you while you’re driving.
  16. Pringles. One should be instantly suspicious of a foodstuff which, while pretending to be a crisp, is legally not allowed to describe itself as anything more specific than a “savoury snack”. Or at least, anything more specific AND appetising. “Pringles foul salty papier-mâché discs”, while accurate, probably wouldn’t sell as well.
  17. Essential oils – particularly, the deliberate deception in the name “essential oils”. Technically it’s accurate, because the oils contain the “essence” of their respective plants. But they’re marketed as “essential oils” with the conscious intention of leading people to believe they’re somehow “essential”, ie., necessary, to us, like some kind of oily vitamins. Of course they’re not – we’ve survived millions of years so far without smearing the sap of a ylang ylang all over ourselves. The only lifeform that ylang ylang oil is essential to is ylang ylang.
  18. The letter ‘c’. An abomination. A needless, ambiguous nuisance, C shies away from doing a real job. It could have singlehandedly taken on the ‘ch’ role its Romance counterparts more than capably handle, but it can’t even do this without being propped up by the workhorse ‘h’. Instead, the pikey of the alphabet tries to steal work from both the lovably blunt, no-nonsense ‘k’, and the slippery, subtle, but ultimately loyal and effective ‘s’ – but schizophrenically refuses to commit itself to either task.
  19. Protected no claims discounts. I try to avoid all caps rants in the Hate List, but I’m afraid there’s no other way of expressing my horror at this breath-taking piece of doublethink engineered by insurance companies. So, while I’m paying you £300-400 a year IN RETURN FOR NOTHING, you offer to “reward” me by LETTING ME PAY YOU slightly less each year IN RETURN FOR NOTHING, and then have the chutzpah to ask me if I’d like to PAY YOU A BIT MORE to ensure you don’t UNREASONABLY WITHDRAW that “reward” later… IN RETURN FOR NOTHING. You repulsive, insidious leeches.
  20. The continued use of the Richter scale by journalists. No-one in the scientific world uses it: earthquakes are measured on the Moment Magnitude scale. I could forgive a BIT of inertia in switching, but it’s been obsolete for 30 YEARS now, you lazy chodbrains.
  21. People who accuse Richard Dawkins of being arrogant (what, compared to the legions of religious preachers who claim certainty to absolute truth and threaten eternal torture to those who doubt them?), or worse, accuse science or scientists in general of arrogance (when almost every genuine scientific statement – as opposed to a typical sensationalised media representation of one – is couched in tentative caveats like, “the evidence suggests…” and “more research is needed”.)
  22. When the media runs a story, deliberately trying to peddle the idea that Britain is in the grip of political-correctness-gone-mad nightmare, when in reality the flimsy fact underlying it is little more than an example of one well-meaning but ill-informed person’s idiocy. For example, the January 2010 story that one couldn’t place a job advert asking for someone “reliable” because it would discriminate against unreliable people. Reading into the story a little further, you discover that it was just the opinion of one Job Centre employee, who had later been corrected. So it wasn’t so much, “absurd PC situation exists,” but “one person mistakenly believed for a short while that absurd PC situation exists”. If that’s all you need to make a sensationalist splash, why not run a “decline of the English language” shock story about how the next edition of the OED won’t include the word ‘gullible’ due to lack of use?
  23. People who reserve seats on trains, but even more so, the railway pricing system which makes planning far in advance preferable financially. Let’s call it what it is: Spontaneity Tax.
  24. Icy road conditions being described as “treacherous”. I don’t remember the roads ever pledging any kind of allegiance to me. They’re certainly dangerous when they’re icy, yes, but they lack even the basic cognitive capacity to form and break personal or political relationships. It would be foolish of me to think that by becoming covered in ice, they’d betrayed me in some way. It’s meaningless journalese bollocks.
  25. The Tan Hill Inn, North Yorkshire. Self-proclaimed as “Britain’s Highest Inn”, it is perfectly placed to serve the sizeable crowd of North Yorkshire Dales day trippers, pleasure drivers, motorcyclists and walkers stopping there throughout the day. Yet, when we arrived at a quarter to three on a Saturday afternoon – in late April on one of the sunniest and warmest days of the year so far – we were politely informed they were no longer serving food. Oh wait, did I say politely informed? Sorry, I meant rudely blanked by a bunch of surly, miserable cunts. I can only guess that they must be pretty sure of their customer base and have no need for return custom, because we were treated with borderline contempt. Well fuck you, Britain’s Highest Inn. And fuck you, The Golden Fleece and the Castle Hotel in Brough and the Sandford Arms in Sandford, none of which were choosing to serve food after 3pm on the biggest tourist trap day of the year thus far, and fuck you too, the random roadside cafe on the A66 which closes at 2pm on a Saturday, because surely no-one would be out on a Saturday afternoon, travelling around, perhaps looking to spend money in return for cooked food!? What a preposterous idea. Against every instinct in my body, we ended up eating at Burger King on Scotch Corner, because we’d finally lost patience, and it was the only place we knew would definitely be open (at such an obscure, unreasonable time of day, let me remind you for the fourth time, as 3pm on a Saturday). And all these independent British pubs and establishments wonder why they’re losing out in competition with American fast food chains. I’ll tell you why: you fucking deserve to. If you don’t have the basic nous to serve food all day, on a gloriously sunny afternoon – in the middle of a region with a primarily tourism-based economy – then bankruptcy is too good for you. I hope you’re all repossessed and turfed out into the streets.
  26. The idiotic crybabies who complained that Gordon Brown wasn’t elected as Prime Minister. In case you hadn’t noticed, we don’t elect our Prime Ministers, and never have. Gordon Brown was elected fairly and squarely – by the residents of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. Once everyone’s voted for their MPs, the governing party gets to choose however and whoever it wants for a Prime Minister. Welcome to representative democracy, arsewipes.
  27. Those glasses which automatically tint to become sunglasses in bright light. My main problem with them is that they seem to be calibrated pretty badly, as even indoors or in pretty low light condition, they’re usually half-tinted, which always makes the person wearing them look like the sort of dick who’d walk around wearing sunglasses indoors or on a cloudy day. Which they are.
  28. People who don’t put bin bags into bins properly. And people who stuff rubbish into a bin with an ill-fitted bin bag, so that the rubbish ends up on top of the bag, or down the side of it.
  29. The fact that predictive text dictionaries pander to poor spelling and come with words like “suprise” and “recieve” already in them.
  30. The way shop workers put your change in your hand, notes first then coins on top. Given that it’s the most awkward way round, because however you try to deal with it, the coins will inevitably slide off the notes onto the floor, and that a very simply change – coins first then notes – would be a lot easier to deal with, why is this always the default option? Is there a subversive course for retail workers somewhere, teaching this method as a way to cause maximum annoyance among customers with a seemingly innocuous gesture?
  31. Eyelashes. Seriously, could human evolution not have come up with a better method for disposing of old eyelashes than dropping them directly into your eyeball?
  32. When people hype up the release of something then keep postponing the date indefinitely.

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