Sunday, December 20, 2009

Madame Arcati's 10 most stupid journalists of 2009

Journalists are generally the daftest of people - only a few honourable exceptions - insofar as their very ordinariness of opinion is soon forced to the surface by dint of deadline, overwork: aka, crawling to the editor. 2009 was a vintage year for journalistic stupidity, and this being the season of goodwill, it is only right that it falls to Madame Arcati to shovel out the awards.

Madame Arcati's Stupidest Journalist Award of 2009

Winner

AA Gill, The Sunday Times

Congratulations to Adrian, who writes about half of his paper - effortlessly churning out thousands of meringue words each week to precipitate modest facial tics in his indolent readers. He excelled himself in October with his admission in his restaurant review that he had shot dead a baboon during a Tanzanian safari. He confessed that he wanted to see what it was like to kill a primate. He was of course stirring it: jadedness has spread like a rot through his prose turns, his challenge is to keep himself interested; but who cares?

Gill is a troubled soul, he is to be pitied. In the latest Vanity Fair he writes prettily of stalking rutting stags in his tweeds in Scotland, and describes a condition called "crag-fast" that afflicts mountain climbers when they "dare to go no farther and can't manage to go back." He adds: "Crag-fast precisely encompasses so much of my own life." The poor poppet is immobile, paralysed by the success of meringue-churning. Perhaps killing the baboon was a self-administered attempt at shock therapy. Plainly it failed.

Runner-up

Jan Moir, Daily Mail

October, too, proved to be a treacherous month for one of the paper's columnists. Jan Moir blundered into the swirling wake of Shephen Gately's death with her bald claim that his homosexuality was somehow the cause of his passing: "Once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see," she wrote. What she means is that gay civil partnerships are unnatural and injurious to physical and moral health. Tell that to the Mail's editor Paul Dacre: he did after all attend the wedding of Guy Black and Mark Bolland.

Worth mentioning

James Delingpole, Telegraph blogger/hack and right-wing clown

Anyone who saw Toby Young's TV drama When Boris Met Dave - all about David Cameron, Boris Johnson and their Oxford friends - will have glimpsed the Delingpole creature: a Stonehenge-toothed, grinning, dislocated fool gagging to join the Bullingdon Club to consummate his Brideshead delusions. In June Madame Arcati herself published his "private" witterings on Facebook where he invited people to name a Muslim peer who had got his or her job on merit. Nothing is private on Facebook. We were plainly meant to think that Muslim peers were the beneficiaries of meritless preferment. Oh dear. Never mind. It's only what the Tory Boys think behind closed doors at the Spectator and Telegraph. Hence his continued employment at these media.

Germaine Greer, The Guardian

A personal pain this because Germaine is one of my goddesses. But alas she got too clever this year in a piece on mistranslating Proust. She kicked off her November piece with this: "If you have read all of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, you should be very worried about yourself. As Proust very well knew, reading his work for as long as it takes is temps perdu, time wasted, time that would be better spent visiting a demented relative ... " Yet by the end of her article, in which she reveals a time-wasting yet scholarly understanding of Proust's work, she concludes "But when all is said and done, [the] Scott Moncrieff [translation] remains the pleasanter read." So, should Germaine be very worried about herself?

Andrew Neil, The Spectator

Neil is wrong on just about everything and I would defend his right to be so. His antics this year had something to do with his magazine's foolish decision to host the UK premiere of the Aids-denialist film House of Numbers - an event cancelled after Madame Arcati and several other media protested. In years past, as editor of The Sunday Times, Neil pushed his peculiar fantasy that HIV doesn't cause Aids, with pieces by the oddball celibate Neville Hodgkinson. His problem is his idea of rationalism: he looks for 100% scientific proof (same on global warming) when the debate (on Aids and the environment) is about interpretation of data - and commonsense. Neil has always lacked the latter.

Carole Malone, News of the World

It was Madame Arcati who first noted Malone's over-use of the word "hell" to emphasise her uninterrupted sense of outrage for which she is paid handsomely. She gave hell a rest for a while afterwards but a few hells have crept back into her weekly diatribes lately. Wrong on just about everything, she impressed the Arcati jury with this piece of clairvoyance in May on the now global superstar Susan Boyle: "What matters is that Susan Boyle is on the road to hell ... No one is actually saying what the REAL problem is. But we all know don't we?"  [nudge, nudge] "We also know that in the name of ratings, TV bosses have thrust a brain-damaged woman who was starved of oxygen at birth, a woman who has learning difficulties and who locals call Susie Simple ... " Oh dear, I think Carole is suggesting Subo is best put down.

Mario Lavandeira, Perez Hilton blog

Mario at least gave us the biggest laugh of the year when he went boo-hooing all over the place after Polo Molina, the manager of the Black Eyed Peas, allegedly bopped him one for some insulting remarks. Last I heard Mario's now suing Molina for $25,000. Perez Hilton has been printing paparazzi sleb pics of lady fannies and spunk-daubed gay male suspects for a few years now: you'd think he might have heard of that little word - karma?

Chrissy Iley, her blog

One of the UK's most prolific hackettes has a promo website - and she's on this list because she reveals little taste in colour. If her presumed hope is that she wants to be read, why has her "live" blog got white text on a sickly pale pink background? One can only read it with the use of the highlight. Her CV is no better: white words set on the scene of a dropped trifle as imagined by Michelangelo. Since I have a strict rule against highlight illumination, I can only guess at her tumultuous days and boasted career glories. (Btw, a blog can hardly be called "live" if it's updated only once a season)

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Letts' persona is that of a clever (t)wit. As Hopi Sen puts it: "Mr Letts works for the most powerful newspaper in Britain and his targets are those among the enemies of that paper who lack verbal dexterity, education, class, or are in some other way unfashionable or unpopular. Mr Letts posesses [sic] felicity with a word processor, but his choice of targets tells us that the heart that beats beneath Letts’ betweeded chest is the craven organ of a forelock tugging lackey." A masterly appraisal.

Bryony Gordon, Telegraph

This is hard because the darling has been nice to Madame Arcati in the past even if only because I gave her colleague Celia Walden a hard time for a while. Bryony's heart is not really in her work - I think she should take up nursing; her Cava-fuelled tweets are a revelation - and I suppose my favourite piece of hers this year was the one on a bunch of German clairvoyants and how they'd got all "140 of their predictions [for 2009] wrong." BUT ... "They did get one thing right – the death of Michael Jackson," she writes, unimpressed. Not a bad guess! Later, she reveals she visited "for work, obviously" a tarot reader called Kevin - but alas, because she can't shuffle cards Bryony tells us she left the deck untouched in Kev's momentary absence. No surprise then when she got a crap reading. Doh! She needs lessons in the scientific approach from Andrew Neil.

(Australia's worst hacks)

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Can we have the ten stupidest forthcomings for 2010? Like whatever Peter Jackson film is in the pipeline . . .

Madame Arcati said...

An excellent suggestion, I shall think about it. I had thought to do MA's 10 most intelligent journalists, but have only got up to 3. Any help appreciated.

Anonymous said...

A fourth - Bruno Bayley, one of the editors of Vice Magazine. He has a First in Classics.

Madame Arcati said...

Oh he sounds interesting. I may add him to my Arcati Museum of Curiosities. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This gave me a hard on. xx

Anonymous said...

Is Johann Haari intelligent or merely assiduous?

Madame Arcati said...

He is fortunate to have improved in harness.

Anonymous said...

"A Stonehenge-toothed, grinning, dislocated fool gagging to join the Bullingdon Club to consummate his Brideshead delusions"

A perfect summing up of Delingpole. Genius. Merry Christmas, bitch.

Anonymous said...

What a bitch you are ! A glorious brilliant bitch.

Green Goddess said...

Brilliant as usual. All love for Xmas, Hanukkah, Eid, New Year and Westival, the annual West London pagan fesival MA Darling.X

Madame Arcati said...

Thank you Farah, and happy whatever to you - I am not celebrating Xmas this year as an experiment. Since most of my friends are anti-Christmas cards they can all fuck themselves. x

Santa Claws said...

Actually this award could have legs. You should get a publisher to put up a prize. Just a thought. x

Anonymous said...

Whither Jasper Gerard?

Madame Arcati said...

His stupidity is of another order and not worth bothering with: I may as well give him permanent residency here if he's judged by normal standards. His idiotic editor clearly thinks he's worth £120,000 pa - that says more about an editor's power than judgement: anyone with sense can see Gerard is ridiculous. Will.I.Am and his ghastly successor are just waving their cocks about with Jasper.

Anonymous said...

Are you a bit hard on Germaine? Surely her opener was a joke against herself because hardly anyone actually reads Proust.

Madame Arcati said...

I think not. The opener is a joke against herself but one that is too self-regarding given the close attention she pays to A la recherche thereafter. One can be clever and then one can be clever-clever. It would have been better had she declared herself an unashamed fan of Proust and then just got on with it. To say that reading him is a sign of madness and then proceeding to analyse his work as if the joke had not been made is just daft. A pose of fake mediocrity. We all know Greer is, like Clive James, a raging snob.

Anonymous said...

All pushy Australians are raging snobs when they come to Europe. Insecurity.

Anonymous said...

Arcati should do the 10 most boring writers (published). There must be a science of boringness.

Anonymous said...

Jasper Gerard really ought to be in your top 10. Rod Liddle too is a total arse, and ugly as sin with it.

Anonymous said...

No, Rod is feisty and succinct

Duralex said...

Perez Hilton should be immensely flattered you consider him a journalist, even though one of the most stupid.

Madame Arcati said...

Strictly speaking, Perez Hilton is an echo-journalist in that he just repeats what he's picked up from other media: for that reason alone he merits inclusion.

Anonymous said...

If the person posing as Madame Arcati is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo witheringly scornful of his/her profession, it's a wonder he/she doesn't go off and do something more edifying.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought but shouldn't Guido and Iain wannabeanMP Dale get special menshuns too? Just saying...

Five-Centres said...

In my own personal list I would have added the entire staff of Shortlist magazine.

I think they forget it's only a freebie that's abandoned on the Tube floor as soon as flicked through. The caption write should be taken out and shot, too.

Also, whither Tim Dowling? Surely the world's unfunniest living writer.

A merry Christmas and super-fun 2010 to you Madame.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

Good stuff! I do like AA Gill however and would have replaced him with Liddle...

the late Ned Kelly said...

"Anonymous said...
All pushy Australians are raging snobs when they come to Europe. Insecurity."

This reminds me of the line in the highly aclaimed 'Barry McKenzie' film written by Barry Humphries where McKenzie is asked by a Hooray Henry at a party "is it true all Australians are homosexuals ?" to which McKenzie replies "no that's just the publicity we put out to attract the pommy migrants"

Madame Arcati said...

Has either evinced more stupidity than usual this year? That's the test. Both are consistently stupid and will have little to do when the Etonians get to power.

Madame Arcati said...

Dear Five-Centres, alas Shortlist is not on my reading list and I don't know who Dowling is. I do wish you a lovely 2010. xx

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

surely richard brooks should be on your list


If you doubt me read this. Go on. Read it.....


http://entertainment.
timesonline.co.uk/
tol/arts_and_entertainment
/article6959476.ece


"the larger than life Byron" is my favourite bit of dumbness. What's yours?

Madame Arcati said...

It's dstressing that Richard Brooks thinks there were no standout movies this year. What of Avatar, the £200+ masterpiece by James Cameron, funded by Brooks' boss, Murdoch? Either Brooks is sterlingly indie or a fool. But will he survive such hubris in 2010? No.

Anonymous said...

I think James Delingpole should carry on with journalism or he may write more novels like 'Thinly Veiled Autobigraphy' which contains stuff like this:

"She nods and I take her by the hips and turn her gently round and she knows what to do.

'No', she murmurs, less out of any reluctance, for she's evidently more than willing, than out of disbelief that something so extravagantly naughty could really be happening. And it's true, it's what I'm thinking too as I ease apart her buttocks still further, the better to reach the deep wet gash which I can feel growing wetter with each deep probing lick, as I inhale the smell of cunt mingled with sweat and shit, the ecstacy of whose perfume drives me ever more drunk with the desire so that whatever I do is not enough, I want more, I want all of her in my mouth, I'm licking this crack now and she's screaming that she wants still more ...

Until I whip out my hot hard prick and it slips in with such ease.

Then out again and in as I pump and I pump [...]"

Madame Arcati said...

Ooh, how awful, thank you for drawing to my attention. The thought of shit stuck in Delingpole's teeth is too much to bear. I agree: the Telegraph should put him on a life contract in the public interest. xx

Duralex said...

Tabernak, this is even more boring than Sade's pornographic ramblings!

veritas said...

Reading Madame's list and speaking of pushy Australians(G.Greer aside)it's quite clear that Rupert Murdoch's effect upon British penmanship has been even more devestating than first thought.

Madame Arcati said...

Murdoch is the ultimate vulgariser. They adore him at the Guardian.

Vinny said...

Madame Arcati,

Excellent blog. AA Gill is a terrible waste of DNA, with a deluded affection of hauteur.

I worked as the offcie junior at The Guardian in the 1970s, when the paper occupied the third floor of the old Sunday Times building in Grays Inn Road.

Across the road from the building was a one man pizza shop operation which could knock you up a pizza margherita, or a, er, pizza margherita in no time at all. And who was the pie flipper in this establishment? Step forward Adrian Gill!

His pizzas were nearly as bad as his journalism....

Vinny said...

Madame Arcati,

Excellent blog. AA Gill is a terrible waste of DNA, with a deluded affection of hauteur.

I worked as the offcie junior at The Guardian in the 1970s, when the paper occupied the third floor of the old Sunday Times building in Grays Inn Road.

Across the road from the building was a one man pizza shop operation which could knock you up a pizza margherita, or a, er, pizza margherita in no time at all. And who was the pie flipper in this establishment? Step forward Adrian Gill!

His pizzas were nearly as bad as his journalism....

Madame Arcati said...

Thank you Vinny, most interesting. Is Gill some kind of savant? He can write in a phrase-making sort of way, but his prose falls apart when he has to sustain any kind of perspective, as his recent piece on the Noughties demonstrated (yet again) - apparently the 1st 10 years of this century weren't so bad despite 9/11, Bin Laden, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.

Vinny said...

AA Gill doesn't actually 'write' anything, he is dyslexic (quite a big handicap for a writer one would think) and just dictates his piece down the phone to a copytaker. I haven't read anything of his in years, but it still kind of gets to you via osmosis.

He claims he is Scottish, but in fact he was just born in Edinburgh, left when he was one and both his parents were English. (He is in fact Anglo-Indian).

But being a "Scot" allowed him to write a rude book about the English entitled 'The Angry Island', the English were:
"the lumpen and louty, coarse, unsubtle, beady-eyed, beefy-bummed herd of England". Most reviewers concluded he was, in fact, writing about himself.

Julie Burchill once wrote about Gill and his best mate Jeremy Clarkson in an article called 'The Past-It Boys' and described Gill & Clarkson thus:
"Past-It Boys aren't like that. They seem to have taken to heart the old Joe Orton maxim: "Anything worth doing is worth doing in public", and it often seems that at least half the pleasure they derive from their naughtiness is being seen to be naughty."

and concluded their public personas & writing are: "a) to show off to each other and, b) to offend the folks back home."

Now this is bit rich coming from Burchill (the words 'pot' and 'kettle' spring to mind), but she may have a point for once.

He makes a living out of it, quite a lucrative one too...


PS
Yes, the Orson Welles programmes on BBC4 were the best thing on telly this Christmas.

Best wishes,

Vinny

Hugh Finegan said...

Henry Hitchings. Hard to respect a chap who writes his own Wikipedia page and fills it with quotes and footnotes about the wonder of himself.

Madame Arcati said...

Never heard of her but I'll take a look.

Joe MacFarlane said...

Disappointed that you did not give 1st place to Julie Burchill. As for Bryony one just knows she would be dirty in bed.

Madame Arcati said...

Julie and I are bosom buds. But that may not save her in 2010 ...