Archive for May, 2010

Sign #4 General Election Polling Station UK 2010

May 6, 2010

Posted on Guardian Web site

Now I don’t normally read The Sun
But one finds them, when someone is done,
On the seat of a train
When it’s starting to rain
So one reads it as some guilty fun

Oh how titillating!
Oh how scandalous!
Like a teenager pushing a pram!

The Liberal Democrats secretly plot
To make London look like Amsterdam!

Legalised brothels and spliffer’s cafés!
MPs who don’t go to church!
Stickers on sausages!
No CCTV peering down at you from every perch!

It’s outrageous and shocking!
They want to allow folks to gather
In Parliament Square!

They demand a fair trial
The right to stay quiet
And insist that a jury is there

So I got off the train, by the sea
Thanking whatever twat he may be
For leaving The Sun
Once, of course, he was done
Checking out the bare flesh on Page Three

It’s so obvious!
I’m convinced of it!
Though I felt awfully puzzled before

I’m giving my vote
To the pushers and pimps!

(Though they’ve got as much chance as a Gore…)

The Bitter Taste of George Clooney’s Coffee Ads for Nespresso

May 1, 2010

I’m a happy whore!

I just found out George Clooney is a whore. No seriously. Yeah, I know you probably thought, as I once did, that he was one of the cooler of the Hollywood stars; one who dared to go out on a limb with risky agenda movies, was politically astute and not just a shallow, jaded, vain piece of shit who will shove his mug in front of just about any camera in order to push absolutely whatever evil soul and planet destroying product some corrupt bastard is trying to ram down naïve consumers’ throats, as long as he gets paid enough.

But I was wrong. Because that’s exactly what he is: a totally shameless sell-out Corporate whore whose endorsement of Nespresso in Italian adverts has seen sales of their satanic machines sproing skywards by a CEO-drool covered and quite simply staggering 35.5%.

So what, you might be thinking? Well if you have a soul and are not an unfeeling, unthinking, moronic, automaton with shares in Nestlé or Mr. Clooney himself, you will soon be just as enraged about this as I am. Please keep reading.

Putting aside for one moment the obvious question as to WHY a person of his enormous personal wealth and choice of juicy film roles would stoop so low as to star in ads flogging ANY product, let alone this one (which I will return to later), let’s look at why Nespresso is a particularly bad product  to promote for any one who claims to have a social conscience. I am totally amazed that none of George’s advisers tried to talk him out of revealing for all the world to see just what a phony, hypocritical, greedy and thoughtless scumbag he really is. This has GOT to have massive negative repercussions on his public image, and quite frankly I am doing all I can to ensure that this is the case, and I hope that after reading this you will join me in this divine mission.

Firstly, let me acquaint you with the Nespresso machine, designed for the germ-phobic, health-and-safety mad, lazy, convenience-crazed, culture we have not just “become” but certain people are determined to turn us into. Corporations and advertising agencies (and Hollywood movie stars) are making a lot of money out of selling heaps of flashy rubbish that turn human beings into slavish consumers who are afraid to get their hands dirty.

For those who have never seen one, which seems unlikely considering their near ubiquity, Nespresso is an automated espresso maker that utilizes (and requires) pre-measured vacuum sealed coffee portions in circular pods that are popped into a neat little cubicle on top. Slam down the lid, and then all you have to do is get a plastic cup and stick it underneath, press a little button with a picture of a cup of coffee on it and hey presto – instant espresso!

You’ll notice that when you first open the pod capsule on top, to put in the new coffee pod, this neat thing happens where an ingeniously designed plastic lever-type article, sort of flips the old, used pod into some kind of invisible chamber behind it, which is of seemingly limitless capacity. (Or maybe you just never work late enough to see the night cleaners empty the fucking thing.) But as many environmentalists have pointed out – there is no “away” when you throw something away, as the Great Pacific Garbage patch, estimated to be the size of Texas, amply demonstrates.

There is a tremendous amount of packaging and boxes within boxes involved in the Nespresso machine and its pods, and rather than being an innovative product, in fact it does a job that people have had very little trouble doing for thousands of years with the minimum amount of resources. Nespresso is firmly positioned on the bottom level of the lowest and worst category of products,  i.e.  a pointless gadget nobody needs that is also environmentally destructive. Not only is it about the most un-green product imaginable, capable of unnecessarily “simplifying” something that can easily be done a million other ways (and better!) by devices that do not create any waste, but it is also a Nestlé company!

How can Mr. Clooney, highly-paid Hollywood whore, claim to care about Africa with his high-profile pleas on behalf of Darfur, whilst simultaneously doing ads for a company that is still the subject of an International boycott over its baby milk products that have caused an estimated 1.5 million infant deaths in starving Africa? Nestlé’s involvement in the coffee industry likewise, is equally dubious and suspect. They are featured on Corporate Watch as being guilty of massive corporate crimes  from heinous labour violations to I-don’t-give-a-shit environmental practices and are even implicated in the deaths-by-assassination of several Union organizers. Only a single Nestlé product out of 8,500 brands has been awarded the “Fair Trade” certification, a token effort of epically cynical proportions that was greeted with a lot of hullaballoo and was solely perpetrated in order to cash in on what Bill Hicks might’ve called “the Green Dollar”.

So let me spell it out for you. I guess the benefits, if you can call them that, of the Nespresso device, are that you can make a reasonably OK cup of Joe, without: cleaning, needing to know anything about coffee, being able to hold a spoon, or read.

‘Course it’s useless without the little aluminium coffee pods. But that’s OK because, as you might have guessed, you can buy them exclusively from the Nespresso Corporation!

All of this is great news for Nespresso but devastating for Bialetti, the makers of the original stove top espresso pot, still unsurpassed in quality, durability, and the cup of coffee it makes and which is both a modern design classic and environmentally clean. In fact, it looks like their company is going under as a direct result of Nespresso’s Clooney-assisted success.

That’s equally bad news for the residents of Omegna, the town that has been manufacturing Bialetti espresso pots since 1919. These cleverly simple steel pots are the perfect blend of form and functionality, and are frequently referred to as an “icon” of design; one is even on display in NY’s Museum of Modern Art.

So it is both good to look at and does an excellent job while lasting pretty much for ever and at the same time is a family-run business that has been an important part of the economic and cultural life of a quaint, ancient Italian town for over 90 years.

At the risk of sounding like a plugger for the company: the Bialetti unquestioningly does make an unrivalled cup of espresso that far surpasses the offerings of machines like Nespresso, which are never quite hot enough. A friend of mine who travels to Africa a lot has taken these pots over there as they work in any situation in which you can generate a heat source from below, including of course over open fires. Try that with a Nespresso.

Of course, the Bialetti company, like many traditional Italian and artisinal others, has been savagely struck by the recession. But Nespresso’s  sales surge is seen as one other directly corresponding cause of Bialetti’s decline. And Mr. Clooney’s involvement in Nespresso’s ad campaign  must not be under-estimated.  You just have to look at the timing of the ad releases and the spike in sales to satisfy yourself that there is a direct link.

In addition to that there’s the sensorial anorexia that such a product proposes. Although the Nespresso ads featuring George Clooney make a big hill of beans (sorry) out of the intense and sensual aroma of the final product, the very usage of a vacuum-sealed espresso pouch robs the user of another of the key sensual delights of making a cup of coffee and that is smelling and handling the freshly ground beans!

For heaven’s sake, have we become such a hyper-sanitized culture that the thought of spooning out heaping mounds of gorgeous rich brown grounds, which have a special aroma all their own, is to be shuddered at because it carries with it the icky possibility of spilling a few on the floor that you have to clean up later? Is that the experience from which Nespresso and George Clooney are trying so valiantly to rescue me? You know, it’s shit like this that defines the moment, on whatever nefarious graphs evil advertising agencies employ whilst hatching their dastardly schemes, when “consumer” replaces “human being.”

Who on earth is trying to create the kind of sick, zombified and helpless population that would want such a device? Duh. The company that makes it and those that are hired to make it sell. And, evidently, George Clooney.

Fuck! If ONLY Bill Hicks were still around (a sentiment I feel far too often)…

And if that wasn’t enough, Clooney’s bad coffee karma even has another side-dimension. In December of last year, Nespresso was sued by rival company, Lavazzo, claiming that the whole Nespresso ad campaign featuring Clooney, was a rip-off of one of Lavazzo’s ads in the first place. So these ad agencies are poaching concepts off each other, Nespresso is helping put Bialetti out of business whilst polluting the earth and George Clooney, the Hollywood star with a heart of green, is pocketing what was surely an enormous fee in order to help bring about this catastrophic sequence of events.

I was actually willing to believe that perhaps Clooney was somehow unaware of the contradictions in his very publicly avowed concerns about the environment and Africa and the Nespresso ad campaign, that some spectacular blunder on the part of his advisory team had resulted in him genuinely not knowing about Nestlé and the ramifictions of his moonlighting for them.

However, a little research dug up a story going all the way back to 2007 shows that not only is Clooney keenly aware of Nestlé’s well-deserved bad reputation but attempted to distance himself from their activities with these immortally feeble lines:

I’m not going to apologize to you for trying to make a living every once in a while“, he said to a pesky reporter at a Venice press conference, at which he was promoting the film Michael Clatyon, who dared to ask him how he could reconcile his Nespresso ads with promoting a film which claims to expose corporate corruption? Just to remind you of the plot, or for those people who had already decided they didn’t want to watch George Clooney movies a long time ago, Michael Clayton is described on Wikipedia as chronicling

the attempts of attorney Michael Clayton to cope with a colleague’s apparent mental breakdown and the corruption and murderous intrigue of a major client of his law firm being sued in a class action case involving toxic agrochemicals.”

Leaping hypocrites Batman!

He continued to rebuff the reporter by going on to say, “I find that an irritating question,” and was reported to be unsmiling throughout.

What happened to that cute and cheeky little grin with which he’s helped shift so many Nespressos? I guess he didn’t feel that this role required it. Though how he could be so clueless as to seriously think he can convince people that without the Nespresso gig he’d be reduced to selling oranges by the side of the freeway on-ramp remains a baffling mystery!

We are talking about a guy who earns $25 million a go, for spending a few weeks basically playing a fancy version of “let’s pretend”,  in between being pampered like a prize-winning Persian show-cat and doted upon by fawning sycophants in ways that are almost too morbid to think about.

Why in the name of everything right and good and strong and beautiful; why in the name of the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars and the sea; why in the screaming, twisted, contorted, bloody FUCK does he need to make a little extra dough on the side by pimping himself out to the likes of Nespresso?

Meanwhile, George Clooney’s impressive PR spin has him winning plaudits for his supposedly pro-environment stance, and photo-opp driven work on behalf of Darfur. I found one stomach-churning such piece of filthy, starstruck, rubbish on a site called Renewable Planet, here’s the link if you can handle reading the entire thing

If not, here is a choice quote, from within the “Celebrity Greenographies” section – greenwash/hagiography is more like it:

More and more, Clooney seems to be getting into this environment thing, showing love for eco-friendly gadgets, like the Commuter Cars Tango, which gets 135 miles to a charge. He was reportedly the first to own one. In typical Clooney fashion, he then set his sights on another fast-moving beauty, more specifically the $100,000 Tesla Roadster, which runs entirely on electrical power and gets the equivalent of 150 miles to the gallon”.

So because he’s rich enough to afford some Top Gear-level high-performance car which also happens to save some apparently desperately-needed cash on the gasoline, he’s an ecologist? What?

And if you haven’t tossed your cookies yet, this gooey ego-wank goes on to conclude:
Showing compassion for life and the environment, when it’s clear from his looks and charm that he doesn’t need to gain popularity votes, it’s obvious why George Clooney keeps topping the hot lists.”

I’ve already written a letter to the explaining the above and asking them to remove the piece, and I urge others to do so too.

Meanwhile, let’s all remember to boycott both George Clooney films and ALL Nestlé products, including the despicable Nespresso instant-toxic waste maker. A client of mine has one in the office and I’m ashamed to say I’ve used it on numerous occasions. Because I wasn’t fucking thinking. But now I am, and I’m going to ask him gently to get rid of it.

If Clooney wants a starring role as the Milky Bar Kid, fine – but that is one disposable flick that would be scored at the absolute tippity-top of my “must miss” list.

Note:  I am using the word “whore” in the sense of Definition 3, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.

It is not intended in any way to be a slur against sex workers.

Erratum:  An earlier edit of this post incorrectly identified the Nespresso pouch material as being made of plastic.  An eagle-eyed reader who knew their stuff spotted this and let me know that actually it’s aluminium, which is evidently worse. Thanks for that – I’m always happy to be corrected when I’ve gotten something wrong. I alway want my facts to be beyond reproach!