E3 2015 news highlights

Nintendo, E3 2015 booth, 18/06/2015, by emr9801 (2048x1152)Given the number of announcements in the two weeks prior to E3 2015, I was afraid the show itself would struggle to offer up many surprises this year. But that didn’t prove to be the case. First Microsoft stepped up with its broadest line-up since the early days of the 360. Then, Sony follow it with a trio of well-wishers’ most wanted. And elsewhere new ideas are blossoming for the next generation systems at last.

Previously, I’ve felt pretty underwhelmed by all three of the current-gen consoles. But this E3 has given me, and others yet to pick up a PS4, Xbox One or Wii U, reason to take notice again. Here are some of my highlights from E3 2015. Continue reading

Hip hop, misogyny and the media: why ASAP Rocky’s diss is damaging much more than Rita Ora’s self-esteem

ASAP Rocky, Rita Ora collage, BS, FG, 2015, AL (1080x608)We’ve been here before: egoistical, millionaire rapper insults famous female he had a fling with in “gross misogynistic” song lyrics that have “sparked outrage”. But that’s why you’re reading this, isn’t it? Because hip hop’s ASAP Rocky* has called UK pop singer, Rita Ora, a “bitch”, and much worse, in a song from his newly released album, At Long Last ASAP.

Right now, you might be thinking: “big deal, hip hop artists do this all the time”. Or, perhaps: “ha ha ha, the bitch deserved it”. I’m no fan of Rita Ora, but, as well as being an unnecessary knock to the singer’s self-esteem, Rocky’s diss, in ‘Better Things’, adds fuel to the already-strong belief that hip hop is, and should be, solely about narcissism, hatred and misogyny.

Well, here’s the thing: hip hop’s got 99 problems, and “bitch” is just one. Continue reading

Fast Food Pyramid

Like many on the crust of this great celestial meatball, I like to indulge in fast food now and again. I tend to avoid it at all costs if I can, but sometimes there are those moments when your brain is just hankering for the soft, warm meat of a chicken burger, with slim, salty fries and an ice-cold soft drink to wash it down. Ahhh, yep, nobody does it like brightly-lit-fast-food-brand-x.

However, fast food restaurants themselves have always given off a sense of hidden disquiet to me. Maintained by poorly trained youngsters will little love for their jobs, thanks to the manner and lack of respect they’re treated with by their employers. Reading Fast Food Nation opened my eyes to some startling accounts by former fast food restaurant workers. But it also added new context for views and theories I’ve already encountered about equality. More than any other industry, the fast food industry operates with a pyramid system at exists right at the base level.

Recently, I stopped off at a service station to settle the rumbling in my stomach with a filling meal from KFC. The procedure is well drilled by now, an accepted part of modern life: wait in line, request your order, pay, receive your order, then escape the impatience looks from the queue behind you. Unless, of course, there’s a problem with your order, in which case you have to return to the counter and communicate – often in an apologetic or enraged tone – with the ‘people’ behind the counter.

Only, thanks to the fast food giants, they’re not so much people anymore as automatons with hands, mouths and polyester t-shirts that bear a name tag and the company logo. It hit me when I arrived at this KFC out in the middle of the M3. All the staff were oriental, from the sales assistants to the kitchen re-heaters. There wasn’t a black, white or East Asian face among them. And the manager? Nowhere to be seen as usual.

“Can I take your order?” says the first oriental girl, whose name tag reads: Sonam. I placed my order, declining the offer to ‘go large’ or add ‘extra cheese’, then I quietly observed their faces as they served the other customers. Where have I seen those dull, tried expressions before? Ah, now I remember. At the KFC outside Victoria Centre in Nottingham, which just happens to be run by a staff of all black workers, more than a hundred miles away from the M3 service station. Still waiting for my order, I watch as two more oriental sales assistants flank the first and the three of them huddle tightly towards one of the few active tills. Three sets of eyes all fixed on a greasy screen, their faces in perfect alignment like porcelain dolls, all sharing the same monotonous resolve – it’s a pitying image.

It’s quite plain that none of them want to be there, but more likely than not they have to be. Perhaps they have family to support or they’re trying to fund their education. Though, even if their reason for working at a fast food chain aren’t that noble, it still disgusts me to see people being herded in to a marginal group and subconsciously taught to accept certain workplace values. In others words, targeting minority groups and recruiting people of similar class and race to develop branch uniformity, so that workers feel relaxed with their colleagues and don’t question their employers.

This system keeps the minority groups away from the managerial and decision-making positions, ensuring that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Of course, in a conformist environment such as a fast food restaurant, when a worker of ethnic background does make manager what’s to stop them repeating the patterns that they had been forced to believe for years? Fast food giants are quick to present shining examples of equality in ads and carefully selected case studies, but treat views that they exploit and disrespect their workers as false claims. Yet when I see social inequality of this kind, that has been going on for years and continues to replicate itself, there’s no coincidence about it.