Millennial Diary

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Millennial Diary


Stacey Dooley
Stacey Dooley

Margot Robbie, Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz: these are some of the incredibly famous people who have successfully got married without us knowing about it.

RuPaul, Amanda Seyfried, Brad Pitt: these are more exceptionally famous people who have managed to do a secret wedding.

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz; Beyonce and Jay-Z. When Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz got married, most people didn’t even know they were dating.

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And yet Ed Sheeran is acting as if he’s the first celebrity to get married and not sell the pictures to Hello! Why is Ed forcing us to go through agonisingly boring conjecture about his marital status over and over again? Why am I writing about this profoundly mundane musician’s maybe-marriage for the second time in six months?

Last August, he strongly implied that he had married. He was fiddling with a wedding ring, and saying that he wasn’t one for public displays – like he didn’t know that would send his fans into sleuthing meltdown. But nothing was confirmed.

Now, once again, I’m confronted with his boring face in every news outlet. Because apparently – according to a source – he’s married. Again.

Ed hasn’t commented yet.

Ed: I swear to God, this has to stop. No one cares. Put everyone out of their misery and just tell us one way or another. And then, it will all end! I promise. Really and truly, Ed – confirm it or deny it.

If you want to be sure you’re never bothered again, tell us whether Taylor Swift was there. Throw a grainy picture our way if you want to be assured a quiet life. Because this coyness is starting to look a lot like publicity-courting.

If Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds can do it, I guarantee that you can too, Ed. Please. Please.

*******

Last Wednesday, Monica Lewinsky appeared at the Talent Summit in Dublin to speak on the topic of “Resilience and human compassion in the digital age.” Lewinsky, who has been rehabilitated all too late by the MeToo movement, could probably write a book about resilience, though I fear her experience with compassion has been more lacking since she became a household name in 1998.

With 20 years’ hindsight, we are able to understand that a 22-year-old intern should never have been vilified for a sexual relationship with her employer, the most powerful man in the world. We know that there’s a word for that kind of thing now, we know that she was a victim, that her being ‘publicly stoned with gossip and innuendo… called a slut, a tart, a bimbo’ was wrong, abominable, shameful. We were delighted to welcome Monica to Ireland, thrilled by her tweeting that she’d “already dropped my ‘h’s’ when I say ‘thanks’..#tanx”.

But her rehabilitation has not come at the expense of ol’ Bill. The Irish cognitive dissonance is such that we’re able to hold up Monica as a feminist hero and roll out the red carpet while she’s here… but it will take more than sexual harassment and the destruction of a woman’s young life to stop us from rolling out red carpets and slaughtering the fattened calf if that twinkly-eyed old rogue Bill Clinton comes to visit us again.

Not that Junior Cert students would have any idea why.

*******

Stacey Dooley, “investigative journalist” and winner of Strictly Come Dancing, has found herself at the centre of an entirely avoidable race row after posting pictures of herself with an anonymous sad Ugandan baby, with the caption ‘OB.SESSSSSSSED’ and a broken-heart emoji.

When literally hundreds of people immediately commented to explain to Stacey why the photos (inset) were in poor taste and perpetuated lazy stereotypes about Africa and poverty, while positioning her as the hero of the story, Stacey stood firm.

Comic Relief, which sent Stacey on the trip, refused to “make any apologies” in the face of Ugandan organisations such as No White Saviours calmly explaining why Stacey’s pictures were problematic and inviting her to engage in dialogue with them.

She didn’t. Because they still think the best thing they can do for Africa is fly in famous people with film crews to capture hardship.

So entrenched in millennial culture am I, that I didn’t realise that people were still going to Africa to ‘help’ the poor little African babies by taking pictures of themselves holding the poor little African babies and putting them online.

I thought the tireless work of “Humanitarians of Tinder”, publicly humiliating those gap-year voluntourism types who used the photos to hook up with strangers, had put a stop to it.

If you think hopping on a plane and going on holiday to Africa is an onerous task, you’re on the wrong side of history, Stacey.

*******

It’s hard to work out how history and geography came to be dropped as core subjects at Junior Cert, because literally everyone seems to think it’s a truly horrible idea. If there is someone out there who has welcomed the news that 13-year-olds will no longer be able to find their country on a map, then they have kept very quiet.

Ireland is its history and geography. Ours is a nation built on past and place. Our culture is steeped in environment and stories and learning where we came from – it has made us empathetic, responsive.

In England, these subjects are elective: about 25pc of GCSE students choose to take geography, while 30pc take History. It is a country that doesn’t understand where it came from, how it was made; suddenly the vote for Brexit makes more sense.

Geography and history – two sides of the same coin explaining the world around us – have never been more needed than today, in the midst of an international migration and refugee crisis, climate change, global demographic transformation and political polarisation.

The curriculum means something: what could be more revelatory than what we choose to teach our children? Maths is compulsory, which sends a clear message about its worth. If a nation of little Alan Sugars is what we’re after, great. But education shouldn’t be about wrapping up 13-year-old children with a bow on top for the labour market.

Sunday Independent

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