Sorority Girls – Slooter Cahooter’s need not apply!

Sorority Girls together

The Real McCoy

I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member – Groucho Marx

Sorority Girls E4 Website Welcome Image

Arianna, Devan, Amelia, Hannah, Dominque and an old Yorkshire man (one presumes!)

I may have gotten Devan and Hannah mixed-up!

A sorority is an all-female, secret social organization for university students so says the E4 Program website – and according to that site they are a big deal at universities in the US. In British universities on the other hand they are no deal whatsoever.

Sorority Girls Chapter Meeting

A closed member meeting – just them and several million of us viewers!

Sorority Girls the reality show – by genre at least, how much of this series has much grounding in reality is debatable – in its first series from British production company 12 Yard Productions and currently airing on E4 aims to change that. Will this American export succeed or have we a failed British import on our hands?

Sorority Girls is not based on a sister show in the USA – they are hoping perhaps that students in British Universities will be inspired by watching it on TV and setting up their own Greek societies!? As likely to happen as Proms becoming a staple of British school life? Whilst E4 provides us details about the American Sorority Girls it is not forthcoming with details about the British pledges (more of that later!) so it is not even clear whether these British girls are even University Students themselves.

Or are the makers just hoping that we may just watch it as an interesting cultural and or cultish phenomenon like Amish:Worlds Squarest Teenagers and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings?

The E4 program website tells us that such societies ‘fosters growth and personal development within its members in two ways: publically through philanthropic works, social events and academic excellence, and privately through the use of ritualistic ceremonies, symbolism and closed member meetings’.

The five American cult-leaders sorry Sorority Sisters have set up home in  a spacious house in Leeds towards an inaugural British chapter. Fourteen will become five and those five will take over its running when the Americans go home. And provides a springboard if not for further British chapters then perhaps at least a second E4 series.

So then to this second episode which sees the pledges settling into their new home and first set of challenges and initiations.

Sorority Girls PledgeI pledge my allegiance to this E4 Reality TV show and will do whatever it takes to guarantee my fifteen minutes of fame, a spin-off show all-about-me on E4 and a spread in Hello Magazine.

Sorority Girls Sleeping Porch

We call this the sleeping porch, so says the House Mother, for there is one!

Triple-bunk beds to bond sisters together – if in bodily aroma at least.

Sorority Girl DominqueSorority Sister Dominique breezily explaining to us that it is Sorority tradition to kidnap members in the middle of the night put hoods around their heads and drive them to a secret location. Sort of Guantanamo-Lite!

Sorority Girls Hoods

Hooded – in the Sorority Colours of Pink and Indigo, naturally!

This also described as a bonding experience and one of them tells us with a straight face that this is something that they are going to look back on in twenty years time and remember! It is implied that the memory will be a fond one and not one that you might want to bury even as an eternity on YouTube ever-reminds you!

Sorority Girls - cloaks

Sorority Girls in cloaks – not a cult – honest!

Aren’t cloaks cool? – almost worth giving up your mind for just to get to wear one! At the secret location which is only revealed to successful sorority initiates – note that I am insidiously beginning to use the language! – as the rituals that take place there are sacred to the sorority – oh so this is not a profane act! One of the pledges on first seeing this secret sacred spot stated matter-of-factly that she thought it was a place where you take people to murder them! Their first test is to hold a block of ice to their heart in the shape of a Sigma symbol until it is fully melted – one initiate advises us that she covertly placed her ice under her arm-pit to speed the process up!

Sorority GirlsTheir next task is far less sinister – they being taken to the middle of a forest and abandoned! Well abandoned that is to orienteering and being split into two teams (the Grizzlies and the Ferrets, don’t ask!) to then navigate their way back to the House.

Sorority Girls - fake eyelashsWhile the pledges are busy getting lost in Leeds and its surroundings the Sorority team do a sweep of their room and confiscate any item not of the Sorority spirit – such as false eyelashes and fake tan!

Sorority Girls in black

Announcing the Grizzlies as the winners, the losing Ferrets are to be cast into the wilderness via Social Probation. Social Probation meaning that their pledge status is now provisional – that is their provisional membership is now provisional!! Both teams though will attend their first Present. A Present is a formal ceremony when the pledges are presented to their friends and family. But you need to know that it is Presents pronounced Pree-zents!

Sorority Girls Makeover

Sigma Gamma Makeover…J’accuse

As they are being given a Make Over by way of Preezent Preparation an initiate questions one of the Sorority Girls about her own fake-nails – implication ‘You hypocrite!’ and big mistake! For thinking for herself and not mindlessly accepting the Sorority Girl Group Think she will be one of the first to face losing her membership – known as the cull, sorry cut!

Sorority Girls - all in white

They’re all dressed in white, virginal white – their words!

Dressed in virginal white because Sorority Girls are if not virgins then chaste! However they are now told they must go on a ‘Grab date’ which means picking up a stranger off the streets in twenty minutes to be their chaperone for the first pledging ceremony that same night. Very chaste! By the way the term Slooter Cahooter (no really!) is meant as a derogatory term for a sorority sister who as dressed or behaved in a sexually inappropriate way.

Sorority Girls

Cold-dating! The Grizzlies as not on social probation are allowed to request dates from a Gym – because it is a better class of men there! The losing Ferrets though must pick up their dates on the Leeds streets. Surprising were the number of men so solicited who said ‘Yes’ – if someone walked up to me on the street and asked me for a date I am pretty sure my first response would be high suspicion! I guess the presence of TV cameras mollified some of these young men so requested!

Sorority Girls Presenting

I am not one woman but part of a collection of beautiful women, a petal on a rose…

A charming Socialist declaration written by these All-American girls – those reading the  pledge then promise to sever all ties with their old selves – remember they are not a cult! – cue camera panning to her perplexed boyfriend sitting in the audience.

Sorority Girls

Severed old-self?!

In the final section of the show the moment of reckoning arrives for the pledges.

Sorority Girls

The Judges…

Sorority Girls - in purple

…and the Judged

Sorority GirlsThe provisional provisionals, Nadia, Alex and Topaz. One whose Sorority sin was to think for herself, one who at their bonding party had a glass of wine in each hand, another who brought a male back to the Chapter Lodge after the party. These latter two examples of Sorority Girl errant behaviour are of nothing of course to implying one of your Sorority Girls is a fake-nail wearing hypocrite.

Sorority Girls

Being depearled

In the judges own words

You have been weighed and measured and found lacking

The girl so cut must remove her pink pearl necklace and slink off into the night – a petal pruned from the Sorority rose.

E4 has another new program called – wait for this! – Desperate Scousewives – like Sorority Girls it is TV I know that I should not watch but know also that I will! I just can’t help myself – like picking a scab.

Picking-a-scab Telly – have I just invented a new TV Genre!

Liebster Blog Award Nomination

Being Sixteen Blog - Home Page photoI’ve just been nominated for a blog award – yay! Thank you Daniel, the nominating blogger, at Being Sixteen blog.

The blog award is designed to promote up-and-coming blogs (those with less than 200 followers) to the wider blogging community. Those nominated are then encouraged to do the same by recommending and nominating five blogs that they enjoy – a bit like a chain letter. As Daniel says it seems a bit like a pyramid scheme but at least what is being pyramided is some loving not some solicitation for cash!

I cannot find out anything about the Liebster Blog Award on Google – all the hits I see are posts by other bloggers who have equally unexpectedly received such a nomination. I presume someone somewhere originated this award, and wonder if, like a Chinese Whisper, the original intention has survived intact and if anything has been lost in translation of the translation etc!

Is there the equivalent of an annual Oscar ceremony – I just do not know!

But anyhow in the spirit in which it was received I list my five blog nominations.

Girl in the hat – strap line – ‘musings, short-stories, excerpts from novels-in-progress and various bits of auto-biography’. This is a relatively new blog to me and I am enjoying reading the blogger’s various literary posts.

Words fall from my eyes – strap-line ‘The EBB & Flow of one HEART pumping’. This blog is an autobiographical novel in progress. We tend to read books from the oldest entry (first chapter) and if the book engages us we will move forward reading to the end. Whereas we tend to read blogs from the newest entry (latest chapter) and so if a piece of ongoing fiction/non-fiction will be joining the story later on in its proceedings. No matter – it engaged me from the first words of it I read (wherever they were in the tale!) and I have been hooked ever since.

Power of H Blog – strap-line ‘I wish I’d been born 7 hours earlier’ – the blogger comments that he started it to offset his muttering in public places! I enjoy his posts about paintings and sculptures and his succinct insightful descriptions of his subjects. Particularly as quite a verbose blogger myself!

A Talent for Design – strap-line ‘Drawing from the far side of the ocean – she comments that ‘Sometimes inspiration comes to us in waves… In my case, I’m happiest when I’m creating and sharing my love for all things beautiful. If along the way I inspire you to find ways to express your own creative voice, we’ll both be enriched.’ I enjoy her drawings, photographs and quotations.

The Flood – strap-line Creative Arts and Culture Zine. And describes itself as a visual adventure by artists for artists (or art-lovers). This art-lover enjoys the art on this blog.

Having so nominated we then need to let those bloggers know via a comment on their blog.

Finally to make a copy of the award and place it somewhere conspicuous on your own blog – or even inconspicuous if you are a modest sort!

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)Gainsbourg the singer-songwriter, or minstrel-poet. The wise-fool. The twin of Liliane. The serial monogamist. The man-boy. The boy-man.

Gainsbourg - as young boy

Gainsbourg The Heroic Life the 2010 French bio-pic by director Joann Sfar, his comic-strip creation made cinema-flesh. An unsentimental tale but no dry résumé either – the history of the spirit of Serge Gainsbourg, no less.

Gainsbourg starts with him as a pre-teen boy on a beach with a pre-teen girl innocently playing until he asks pre-Beatles ‘Can I hold your hand?’. To which his first jilted response

No, you’re too ugly!

After a few seconds pause he stands up and takes an illicit drag on his cigarette – prequel his life and cue the opening credits to the sound of his Vaise de Melody. He is in love with woman, the idea of woman, the ideal of woman, but also the skin-and-bones, blood, sweat and tears woman, but believes himself too ugly for them. In spite of this he is at ease in their company even though haunted hitherto of his physical appearance.

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) - Cartoon SergeTo that end the film presents us an alter-ego of him – a grotesque yet also comical caricature of his body, particularly unflattering his face, even more so his nose and ears. His low esteem in this respect sharply contrasted by the women he courted and loved and sometime married – most notably Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Juliette Gréco. He of course being loved not (only) for his looks but for his spirit, his huge easy talent  and his common humanity.

As his infatuated relationship with women started young so did his infatuation with art and music, his life-long love triangle.

The young Lucien (for Serge was an adopted stage name) Gainsbourg is played by Kacey Mottet Klein a memorable an acting performance as Eric Elmosnino who plays the adult Serge. Both captured not just the appearance of Gainsbourg but his very essence.

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)

First muse?…

And the film’s time-line is at least chronologically conventional starting with the young Lucien in 1940’s Paris under Nazi occupation. And he is Jewish (his parents Russian emigrants) but for him the most significant encounter with Germany is with its music, with Beethoven. He seated at the family upright piano, his father, his dissatisfied teacher, chastising his faltering youthful play, causing the young Lucien to exclaim that he hates the piano and is not interested in music – like Pablo Picasso saying he is not interested in art or Coco Chanel in fashion! Music is certainly interested in him and soon the mutual interest will be all-consuming.

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)

Klimtesque drawings

Gainsbourg was not just a precocious musician but a painter, his favoured subjects were women, romance, sex, as it would be with his music too. His precocious gift making him an indispensable friend to his class-mates – a young purveyor of porn that he was. His male-teachers did not exactly disapprove of his work either!

Next we see the first appearance of the Eric Elmosnino adult-Gainsbourg – and painting still competing with women for his passions, music not yet fully established in his affections, now though no longer struggling on his family upright piano but comfortable on a bar-room grand-piano, if still providing that bar its background music.

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)

Alter-ego…

Then comes a music lesson, this time no piano but an acoustic guitar. His teacher inciting the spirit of Django Reinhardt – that he did not know notes but could play and feel them by heart and by spirit.

His advice as music teacher was somewhat more philosophical as we see him with young French pop-star France Gall passing on to her the words of a former music-teacher of his.

If your parent’s like your work it’s shit!

There is of course a soundtrack to this film but it is the music as performed in the film itself – it is Eric Elmosnino singing La Javanaise with Greco for example not Serge. I think he would have approved.

The film briefly passes over an eternal dilemma of the artist – how to court popularity and pay the bills and keep integrity intact – in their words

to sell three copies for himself and his parents or write for Johnny Halliday

His encounter with fame was inevitably with infamy too.

I go and come

Between your loins

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)

With Jane Birkin…Je t’aime…

This is ‘Je t’aime…moi non plus’ his 1969 hit with future English wife Jane Birkin. And we see them present the song to their manager and can see his response to it from his eyes alone. For most of us Brits this is how most of us know Gainsbourg. Despite a sometime censorious attitude toward pop music the song was not banned as much because we Brit’s do not do French (speak it that is), or indeed any foreign languages, we expect the world to all speak English like we do. And so Je t’aime despite its overt eroticism did not burn our British ears as we could only hear ‘I love you’ (the universal language of pre-orgasmic panting not-withstanding!) and enough of us liking it to send it all the way to the top of what would now be a Top 10 Download chart, and what was then number one spot in the hit-parade of forty.

The French manager understanding very well the full-meaning of its words responded

I’m willing to risk prison but not for one song

Afterwards Gainsbourg declares to Jane Birkin that he ‘wants to move on to more serious things’. Jane Birkin replies ‘like an album or that symphonic project of yours?’ He replies ‘No like marrying a British lady.’

It is still a love-triangle but woman is it seems the favoured of the three.

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)

Gainsbourg and Birkin

This film is no prosaic biography as you could go to Wikipedia for nor is it a poem to him as with the book A Fistful of Gitanes by Sylvie Simmons rather it is his attitude and angst distilled in his art, in his music, in his love, in his life.

Towards the end of the film we see the death of his father. ‘My rendezvous is you’ he sings on the upright that Serge was first taught to play on before hunching forward over the keyboard. A poignant swan-song.

No hagiography is this film of Sfar’s – Gainsbourg when not being revered was being reviled.

When he looks in the mirror Serge Gainsbourg must dream of a society with his face. When I see Serge Gainsbourg I become an ecologist fighting the pollution his person and work gives off.

So writes one newspaper critic regarding his public parody of the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise!

His life ends in a drunken golden haze – yet most certainly Gainsbourg did not go quietly in to that dark night.

I look forward more films from its director Joann Sfar – a recent release ‘The Rabbi’s Cat’ is based on a cat who having swallowed a parrot can now speak and wishes to convert to Judaism!

Serge Gainsbourg’s love life was well known (the good and the ill) but his art and his music were greatly overlooked.

Gainsbourg the film provides a poetic memorial of him toward making him, and his music in particular, better known.

Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)

Today on Twitter – Hugh Grant and the Leveson Inquiry

Twitter Leveson search resultsThe Old Media in the New Media Spotlight. Is there still enough in this Hacking Scandal for us to be Hacked Off about?

I decided to do an experiment. If I had access to the web but only through the Twitter lens how much of the world outside my walls could I know about? Is everything worth knowing – and indeed everything not worth knowing – available on Twitter?  If it is not tweeted about did it not happen?

I could very easily get overwhelmed by a tidal-wave of global tweets so decided to focus on a trending item in my own country, the UK.

Trending fifth was the Leveson Inquiry. Or it was when I commenced this piece – as of this pargraph it is now third – such are the ever-moving trends on Twitter. And the number one trendng item is British actor Hugh Grant who is currently testifying before the inquiry.

The Leveson Inquiry itself has its own website – in its words set up to provide the latest information on the Inquiry, including details of hearings and evidence, to the public and interested parties. The Inquiry itself was set up to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the press with further detail on its remit given on this page.

The Leveson Inquiry photoI did a quick look on Google News by way of comparison of old media with new media Twitter in its reporting of this Inquiry (or Enquiry but let’s just settle on Inquiry!). It was certainly being prominently reported with for example the BBC running with the headline Hacked Dowlers Thought Milly was Alive.

The Inquiry could also be followed live with The Telegraph just one media outlet showing a feed of it.

And the Leveson Inquiry is not just a British news media story, it has global involvement and interest too. Added spice would be how news organisations most directly implicated in the hacking scandal would report it as against those with so far at least cleaner hands. In the USA The Wall Street Journal a News International title reported on the parent’s of Milly Dowler’s testimony. This particular item was also reported in Australia by The Australian.

But back to my experiment and Twitter – just how much would I be able to find out about the Inquiry’s progress today by reading Tweets alone? And by ‘Tweets alone’ I mean by reading their content not any links that will inevitably be attached to some them to other web-pages and news stories – linking indeed to the traditional media. These I would not follow as in my experiment the web is out of bounds to me bar Twitter and so the links would all lead to Pages Not Found!

Leveson Inquiry

Hugh Grant giving testimony

The very fact that this Inquiry was trending was already instructional to me as though I was aware of this inquiry taking place I was not aware of when it was due to take place. It was Twitter then that brought this fact to my attention.

One item temporarily out-trending the Leveson Inquiry was ‘Mungo’ – the only Mungo I could think of was 1970’s English rock group Mungo Jerry – but it turns out that Mungo is one of Hugh Grant’s middle names! – so yet another trending Leveson Inquiry item.

Another aspect of the Twitter attention of this issue was the sheer volume of Tweets it was generating – in just the fifteen minutes it has taken me to type up to this paragraph another 300 tweets using the Leveson Hash Tag (#Leveson) have appeared – I clearly am not going to be able to keep up!

Though most of those tweeting were individuals – both celebrities and mere mortals such as myself – news organisations were tweeting updates too, such as BBC News and Channel 4 News.

Simon Tomlin News Alliance TwitterOne such organisational Tweet was from yesterday from a self-proclaimed News Alliance who commented that ‘All newspapers have a financial and political agenda behind the scenes and they are not in the least concerned about #Leveson pseudo-inquiry’. It was not clear to me whether they thought such an inquiry should be taking place at all or that it should but did not have enough teeth. Clicking on to their Twitter account it became clear it was the latter with this following Tweet better summarising their position “Hugh Grant has proved the #Leveson ‘Inquiry’ will be a celebrity self-pity party for the most part. Let’s hear some real media corruption’…the account is also linked to a Simon Tomlin so then not quite sure if an alliance or just a one-man band. These anyway were pre-inquiry tweets from November 13. Back to today November  21 and the responses to the inquiry in progress.

Twitter Ben FentonThe first Tweet I came upon that struck me most forcibly, succinctly got to the heart of the matter of the corrupt relationship between the largely London-based media and the (Metropolitan) police. It was from Ben Fenton and read ‘One girlfriend was mugged. We called the police. It was the photographers who came round first. #hughgrant tells #leveson‘. Ben Fenton it transpires is old media from the Financial Times if quick to point out tweeting in his own capacity not theirs!

Unsurprisingly when an item like this gets shared it is not done so by a lone tweeter rather many others will tweet either verbaitim or with some small variation – others tweeting this included Paul Waugh, the Editor of Politics Home.

Twitter Ravi SomaiyaClearly there is no love lost between Hugh Grant and the British media – the Tabloid press in particular – with this tweet from Ravi Somaiya neatly summing up Grant’s contempt for them – “In the absence of information, they’ll make it up,” says Grant of British tabloids. It transpired that Ravi Somaiya too is old media being a journalist for the New York Times London bureau. I suppose one should not be surprised that journalists of the old media make use of the new media sites like Twitter and perhaps are their most prolific tweeters.

Hugh Grant’s involvement  in this inquiry relates to exploring how much privacy celebrities should have. Another aspect of this inquiry and much more political dynamite is the relationship between the British Government, its political parties and the press – and who has the real power in our country the British Parliament or News International – the Prime Minister or the Editor of the Sun or The Daily Mail?

One such tweet expressing some disinterest in the celebrity side of things came from Siobhan O’Neill – ‘Not sure why this guy is questioning Grant over his choice of statement to the press about his baby. Relevant how?’ Another from Dickson Edwards drily observing that the inquiry is turning into a posher version of Jeremy Kyle! This was retweeted a number of times.

Hugh Grant reserved most of his ire for one newspaper in particular – The Daily Mail – one of its columnist’s Amanda Platell sitting just a few feet away from him. The drama!

Twitter Index on CensorshipAnother organisation following this inquiry is the Index On Censorship who Tweeted ‘Grant and publicist on phone discussing press statement: “not ideal circumstances. I was dressed as a cannibal at the time.” Enough said!

Clearly not everyone watching the inquiry was enthralled to it with this tweet from Ivor Sawbottom (oh dear!) commenting that it was like watching paint dry. In contrast a tweet from Kirsten Han, a Singaporean blogger, considered it  anything but boring – ‘I just wanted a peek at the #Leveson inquiry and see what Hugh #Grant is saying – it has now been 45 minutes and I’m still watching’.

Joel Gunter Journalist UK TwitterA reminder of how interconnected modern media is was demonstrated in this Tweet from Joel M Gunter – ‘Attention from Hugh Grant’s #Levesonappearance has apparently crashed his Paul McMullan piece on the@newstatesman site’. Joel Gunter is a senior reporter at media news site Journalism UK – and I assure you I was not seeking out Journo tweets – they though were clearly seeking me out.

There was much observation that Hugh Grant was getting irked with the judge prompting this tweet from Sam Knight ‘New drinking game: Drink every time Hugh Grant rolls his eyes’. He did not say what we should drink but we can assume not tea.

Twitter Tom WatsonThere seems to be a Twitter consensus too that Hugh Grant is being given a hard time – harder than for example the Murdoch’s Rupert and James were given at the UK Parliamentary Inquiries when facing forensic questions from the Labour MP Tom Watson — I see this as a positive sign though and that Leveson is going to treat all those appearing before him with thorough scrutiny.

ITN London tweeted this Hugh Grant quote ‘My publicists throw their hands up over Britain, they say it’s uncontrollable!’ This was retweeted by Royal Forum Moron – I love some of the aliases used!

Twitter will also pick up on anything no matter how tangental and one curious trend was #Womanontheleft – clearly someone to the left of Hugh Grant on screen was attracting attention among the twitterati! Later all was revealed by a Twitter photograph of a lawyer as much interested it seems in the look of Hugh Grant as the words coming out of his mouth!

Graham Linehan Twitter AccountCelebrities were tweeting too including The IT Crowd and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan ‘I assumed it was, Mister Grant, that’s why I wasn’t going to read it out. Yeah, right!’ – this being an example of a Tweet that only makes sense if you were watching the inquiry whilst watching Twitter too!

And at 15.55 I decided to log off from Twitter with the inquiry and Hugh Grant still in full flow for if I were to report everything of note that was Tweeted this blog post would go on to ten thousand words and beyond. It just going to show how much can be said from so little. And this also based on the Leveson hash-tag had I used #HughGrant I would have generated further tweets still.

Clearly not all events will be as widely tweeted as the Leveson Inquiry. This was an event being broadcast  around the globe afterall. But it does show what a democratic window on the world Twitter is. Let us hope that it never becomes poisoned with political cronyism and other old-media misdemeanours.

Alphas and Misfits, Heroes and Villains

Misfits LogoAlphas cast photosA superpower is as much a curse as it is a blessing. It sets its heroes apart, it sets its heroes alone.

Alphas is a new US science-fiction drama from the Syfy channel about dysfunctional folks with superpowers currently airing on Channel 5. Misfits is a British offering of a similar theme and is back for its third series on E4.

It used to be easy enough when reviewing this genre as there were only a small clique of superheroes to cast back to – Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman… and a few others. And then there were those who whilst not necessarily what you would call superior there difference was such as to give them an edge over their fellow men and women – The Invisible Man for example.

Heroes

We can be Heroes…

This though was before 2006 and the arrival of NBC’s Heroes. Any super-power that could possibly be conceived of was it seems conceived of by the Heroes’ script-writers.

So with Alphas and Misfits you can play a game among yourselves to see which of the superpowers featured were first prototyped in Heroes. I say superpowers rather than superheroes because with both the Alpha and Misfits characters – if Misfits in particular – a number of these powers belong to those of less than heroic nature let alone super-heroic.

Alphas David Strathairn

The Good Doctor…

The Alphas in Alphas are a motley and disparate group of men and women brought together by Doctor Lee Rosen (played by David Strathairn) working for the US Government’ Department of Defence who is seeking to harness the alphas collective powers to help in the fight of good over evil (this being the comic-book story genre with its black and white morality) – like most such tales the Super Heroes are serving in effect as Super Cops – rounding up villains – and we can suppose some super-villains too, perhaps of Alphas gone bad, Alphas whose powers are being harnessed for criminal enterprises by an Evil Doctor – surely not?!

Super-powers used in the service of your country for the common good – almost a social democratic undercurrent if not socialist! The Misfits on the other hand use their super-powers for their own ends only and are not employed in any of their government’s various departments. And more of them shortly.

The current crew of alphas on the Good Doctor’s team are explained in detail on the Channel 5 program page but briefly there is Bill Harken who has the more traditional superpower of physical strength and stamina but untraditionally unlike Superman’s unlimited supply (Kryptonite not withstanding) has to conjure up this strength himself and cannot sustain it for very long.

Alphas Cameron Hicks and Bill Harken

Don’t mess with Bill

Next up is Cameron Hicks whose superpower is one of heightened balance – seriously I am not making that up! – his aim is flawless.

Next is Rachel Pirzad who has the rather cool power of being able to heighten any one of her five senses at any given time. Though this is clearly a power as much a curse has a blessing – consider a restaurant and with your sense of smell enhanced and the over-whelming aromas of the food from the kitchen and your fellow diner’s tables – consider too the over-whelming aroma of the scent of said fellow chefs and the diners – and we must assume for health and safety there would be a bathroom on site – well let’s not go there!

Then there is Nina Theroux who has the power of suggestion – to hypnotically override your thought – quite a sinister power really. The Heads of the Republican and Democrat Party will be on her trail no doubt along with countless media barons.

Alphas Ryan Cartwright

Ring my bell…

Finally there is Gary Bell who has the power to view and interact with wireless communications out of thin air – this is a very particular superpower but one in this ever connected web-age whose time clearly has come! He is also described as diagnosed with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder – he is challenging for his colleagues to work with and he is challenging for this viewer  to watch. Whether this is to the credit of the actor Ryan Cartwright and the Alphas scriptwriters or to the discredit of my own tolerance towards this condition I am not sure.

A strange brew of super-powers then – and the question then for Dr Rosen and we the viewers is whether it is potent enough to successfully fight crime and keep the US homeland secure.

With the Alphas it is assumed they were born with their powers and their being no standard metric tests, like IQ, for their talents it is only belatedly they have come to wider recognition and in particular the attention of Doctor Rosen. Here the Alphas can realise there are others like them, their poisoned-chalice superpower possession is not one they possess alone.

The Misfits in Misifts on the other hand were not born with their powers rather they were rudely visited upon them following a freak weather incident – and these powers have not just effected the main characters but other members of the public too. Misfits because the original quintet were all working on probation for various minor crimes and misdemeanors. Misfits has also done a clever trick of having another character as a broker of these weather-born powers allowing those so blessed, so cursed, to trade in one superpower for another superpower when they perhaps get bored with their current one or indeed find it far more of a curse than a blessing.

Misfit Joe

Joe, new Misfit in Town

For the third series, one of the original Misfits, Nathan Young, (played by Robert Sheehy) has left the show for Las Vegas but though what happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas a 7 minute mini-episode of his exploits are available to view for free on iTunes or online on Channel 4 here.

He has a replacement Rudy played by Joseph Gilgun who is as charismatic an actor as Robert Sheehy was. His is a very Freudian power as is Ego can split from his Id! Sometimes he and they are as one, other times his Id cuts loose to live a happy-free-loving, party-time existence. The ego meanwhile left at home to  sadly reflect his past misfortunes!

Again as with Alpha details of the Misfits are available on the E4 program page called Meet the Misfits. Though they have yet to update it with the new Misift.

Misfit Kelly Lauren Socha

Misfit Kelly

And for this series three they all back with new powers. Misfit Kelly Bailey (played by Lauren Socha) previously was able to read people’s thoughts – very much a curse as a blessing – do you want to know what someone might be thinking about you as you are talking to them?! Granted it will have some advantages – you would be a sizzling poker player, well at least until you got barred from every casino in the land, but quite an assault on ones delicate sense of self too I would think. Now she has the power of super-intelligence – she is a rocket-scientist! However though she can design elaborate plans for rocket ships her CV is of course absent the relevant educational and work experience for this particular field and thus none of her prospective employers take her seriously suspecting only that she must have stolen the plans she presents them!  She is then escorted from the room before exclaiming ‘I’m a fucking rocket scientist!’. This being a killing joke. I suspect it won’t be long – I am guessing episode 2! – before this particular power is traded in for something more useable.

The other female character is Alisha (played by Antonia Thomas) who previously had the power of sexual magnetism – very darkly as much a curse as a blessing. In this third series she now has the ability to see the world through another’s eyes – think the Bob Dylan song Positively Fourth Street and the lines “I wish that for just one time,You could stand inside my shoes, And just for that one moment I could be you” – yet another mixed-blessing power – I can think of many people who I might like to inhabit for a day or two but can think of many more who I would not want to occupy for even a second!

Misfits Curtis

Misfit Curtis

Fellow Misfit Curtis Donovan (played by Nathan Stewart-Jarret) has gone from time-bender to gender-bender. In the first series he could turn back time – which he usually did to save the butts of the collective Misfits – in this series he can shape-shift male to female – the tantalizing talent of transient transsexuality!

Final Misfit is Simon Bailey (played by Iwan Rheon) who is the default Misfit leader, even if this is not known to those he is leading – this because there are two of him – a Future version of himself physically and socially stronger than his current awkward self – who has knowledge of the Misfits as yet revealed purpose and destiny. He also had the power of invisibility – tsssk! what a traditional superpower! He being the only one of the Misfits who is content enough with his original powers not to one to  trade them in.

As noted unlike Alphas no agency whether government or private enterprise is aware let alone interested in making use of their collective powers. Neither are these misfits natural friends rather united in their common misfortune whereas otherwise would never be seen in each others company. This common misfortune as said being that they are all on community service. We might at least think with their new found powers that they might use it to break free from petty criminality but again by the end of the first episode of this new series they are re-arrested and back on probation!

It is clear that the first episode of the third series of Misfits is as much to establish the new Misfit Joe. What the rest of the series has in store for them I can but wonder but surely it must involve more than bumping of yet another of their probation officers, but maybe not.

Misfits is quite content for its Misfits to misstep from miserable mishap to miserable mishap. There is no grand goal in mind for these possessors of superpowers. Misfits has a dark humour, imaginative writing and continues to provide a platform for accomplished young British actors in the same way that Skins, Fresh Meat and The Inbetweeners do. I look forward the rest of this series irrespective of whether very much in particular gets resolved.

Alphas Anger Management

Rogue Alpha

The last episode I saw of Alphas was Anger Management which saw its team dealing with a rogue alpha who has the power to incite rage in those people who happen to be in his close proximity due to the huge release of pheromones – an unleashed rage so strong as to cause those afflicted to kill too. It so falls to the Alpha team to track down the culprit to prevent any more carnage and general human misery from occurring. In the process the alphas will get to know and understand each other a bit better and we the audience them.

And there lies the rub. I am not sure that I want to get to know the Alphas better whereas I am more than happy to spend time among the dystopias and dysfunction’s of the Misfits.

For science fiction shows like this to work we need to suspend not just our belief but our reason. Misfits accepts this and accepts that we the audience will do so too. Alphas though cannot accept this and the plots and characterizations sigh and sag as they strive to make us the audience take them seriously.

They should instead be getting on with telling their fantastical tales and letting the characters breathe and develop.

And this is what Misfits does so effortlessly, Alphas so ponderously.

Facebook Status Updates We Would Never Make

Or at least Facebook Status Updates we tend not to make.

We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

So wrote Kurt Vonnegut in his novel, Mother Night, in 1966. And Facebook provides us the greatest and easiest opportunities of all to pretend? To pretend to each other, to pretend to ourselves…

Below I propose thirteen life status updates that are less than likely to become Facebook status updates!

  1. Status updated when watching a film-classic, or latest movie adaptation of a major literary work. Status not updated when watching a grainy porno illegally downloaded from a file-sharing site, or the shopping channel again or re-runs of a Soap that was axed in the Seventies.
  2. Status updated when back from an afternoon out with the kids at a museum, art gallery or park. Status not updated when back from traipsing your kids around an out-of-town DIY complex looking for plumbing fittings, shelving brackets and the like.
  3. Status updated with photograph of latest car purchased if brand new, big, sporting, expensive. Status not updated with photograph of latest car purchased if second hand, rundown, a couple hundred bucks of junk – think Big Dick Waving Contest.
  4. Status updated to announce to the world how much you love your soulmate and how wonderful they are and how lucky you are to have met them. Status not updated when you are thinking “what did I ever see in this person and where did it all go wrong…”
  5. Status updated to declare “You are more lovely to me today than the day I first met you”. Status kept quiet when wondering to yourself “You irritate me more with each passing day”.
  6. Status updated to boast – sorry share –  that you had a busy day putting up shelves around your home or undertaking some other DIY project.  Status not updated when you spent your day slobbing about your homestead knocking back beers and watching repeats on the telly with interruptions only to play video games
  7. 6am Status Update – when you have just woken up to announce to all your friends that you have a busy day ahead of you – and by way of just letting them know what an early-bird you are. 6am Status not updated – when just about to go to bed having watched as much night-time telly as your eyes can take and consumed as much pizza and chips as your stomach can take – and by way of not letting them know what an unreconstructed night owl you are.
  8. Status updated when back home late from a night clubbing ‘Had a bit too much to drink tonight, again! LOL!’ – status implied party animal. Status not updated when back home late from a public bar ‘Had a bit too much to drink tonight, again! LOL’ as status now implied desperate alcoholic.
  9. Status updated following an act of uncharacteristic virtue such as giving a pint of blood, having run a half-marathon for Charity, or having spent an afternoon with your last remaining grandparent for the first time in over a year. Status not updated following an all too characteristic act of if not vice then certainly unvirtue!, such as spending the afternoon at the bookies followed by a liquid lunch and a minor altercation with a passer-by on your way home.
  10. Status updated on the rare occasion you have prepared and eaten a meal around the dining table with your family, each of you discussing your day. Status not updated on the more usual occasion of having thrown something in to the microwave to then eat with your family in the lounge with TV on and no word said to each other bar occasional utterances from any quarter of “can we watch something else now?”.
  11. Status updated when the activity genie has got inside of you and something productive has actually been achieved. Status not updated when nothing productive has been achieved following yet another day of procrastination.
  12. Status updated when you realise just how much you have to be grateful for ‘”What a lucky guy/gal I am” etc. Status not updated with “WTF am I doing with my life’.
  13. Status updated to say how pleased you are for one of your friends recently posted achievements. Status most certainly not updated to say how jealous you are if not outright resentful of said friend’s recently posted achievement.

With each status update the tangled web of Facebook weaves our collective deception ever deeper?