MOBO Awards 2015: uniting with one hand, dividing with the other

MOBO Awards 2015, Section Boyz, by MOBO/PR( 900x506)It’s got moxie, that’s for sure. Because even after 20 years of handing out awards for music of black origin, and taking flak left, right and centre for it, the MOBO Awards are still with us. The MOBOs shouldn’t, and never will, be all things to all people. But, even as it unites its award-winners in celebration, it continues to divide its audience. 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

Apple Watch: why it may struggle to become essential wristwear

Apple Watch launch, Apr 10, 2015, by Shinya Suzuki, 01 (3264x1836)Some of my previous assertions about Apple products have been, um… mistaken. When the iPhone originally came out, I had no idea what it was or what all the fuss was about. Three-and-a-half years later, I was singing the praises of Apple.

Of course, 11 months before that, I was ready to decry the iPad. Having inherited an iPad 1 in 2012, which I still use for entertainment purposes, work and occasional adventures out and about, I’ve realised the benefits of tablets over laptops in certain situations. In both cases, these products fill needs in the connected age, and can make life simpler (when coupled with self-discipline) in our increasingly busy society.

The Apple Watch, however, I’m not so sure about. Continue reading

Thunderbirds Are Go: the tropes of a bad reboot

Thunderbirds Are Go, ITV, press image, 01 (2070x1164)Gerry Anderson must be turning in his grave. Harsh, yes, but that’s the thought that crossed my mind upon glimpsing ITV’s Thunderbirds reboot when it premiered on Saturday, April 6.

Since then, I’ve watched the entirety of the 45-minute, two-part premier, titled ‘Ring of Fire’, on catch-up TV. I haven’t watched the latest episode. And nor do I wish to watch anymore of this painful abuse of my childhood. With all due respect to the folks behind the CG show, Thunderbirds Are Go has to be one of the worst television reboots of the 21st century. Continue reading

Brits Awards 2015: Madonna’s tumble the high point of a show that’s lost its mojo

Madonna falls, Brit Awards 2015, Feb 25, 2015 screenshot, ITV (620x349)“Oh, Madonna. Did you learn NOTHING from the heroes who fell before you?” asked a quizzical tweet, attached with an image of The Incredibles’s eccentric fashion designer Edna Mode. Those who watched the 2015 Brit Awards live on ITV last night saw it – and then saw it again moments later on Twitter. Madonna, in an austere black suit, a long cloak draped behind her, yanked from her feet midway through her assent to the main stage.

The Twitter crowd had been restless for entirety of the show, but, thanks to the ill-fated timing of a backup dancer, the bait had been thrown and video snippets of Madonna’s tumble – quickly coined ‘#capegate’ – started circulating. The 56-year-old entertainer recovered quickly, carrying on as if it had been little more than a graze. But it was too late. The music had already been forgotten. Continue reading

Why blog when you can tweet?

WordPress.com - orbitingwonder.wordpress.com deleted Feb 23, 2015 screenshot (1366x599)Blogging is dead. That’s the impression I’ve had every time I have opened the category marked ‘Friends’ on my RSS reader. Some 40 blogs all static. No new updates. There haven’t been any for months, years in a lot of cases. Continue reading

Why the game review scores debate will never be ‘solved’ in the age of shifting media habits

Metacritic.com, Games, Feb 22, 2015 screenshot (1000x563)Numbers are numbers. When it comes to cultural critique they tell you very little without context.

For those that don’t know, debates about video game review scores – their editorial honesty as well as their ability to influence readers and, by extension, game sales – has raged for as long as games magazines have existed.

This month, popular game news and review site, Eurogamer, announced that it is dropping review scores entirely. This caused ripples of celebration and consternation. It also prompted other specialist and trade media websites to respond with discussions, comment pieces about the nature of game critique today and cases for/against keeping review scores. Meanwhile, some scoff at the very idea of written reviews, arguing that Let’s Play videos, Twitch.tv and YouTube vloggers are the future.

The trouble is different meanings are inherently attached to review scores. This means they will always be a help to some and of negligible value to others. (It becomes even more complicated when you try to aggregate scores.) Continue reading

Why do some finales leave us dissatisfied?

Reading on Broadway, Oct 6, 2007, by Michele Markel Connors (3008x1692)Endings are tricky affairs, particularly for fiction and screenwriters.

They don’t always need to be comfortable or straightforward. In fact, they shouldn’t be. No matter what the medium, you expect the author to fulfil a sort of unwritten agreement that, at the end of it all, you will have gained something from taking the time to engage with their story. That could be as simple as learning something new (as the classic parables of old do) or it could be more personal (learning deep truths about the nature of life or society through the eyes of a character you identify with).

Endings and why some of them leave us dissatisfied have been on my mind recently, since finishing the finales to several video games and fiction series. Both mediums have presented me with examples of endings that livid up to my expectations and others that fell short. Continue reading