Monday, May 14, 2007

Robbie Williams is not dead, or from outside the UK

It's not often we'd find ourselves seriously thinking about supporting Robbie Williams in anything, but when he's up against Thatcher, you'd have to consider it.

This is The Sun's Greatest Living Briton thing (we're not sure 'competition' quite fits the event), which somehow has managed to come up with a shortlist of The Queen, Thatcher, Williams, McCartney and, erm, Julie Andrews. With that line-up, we should perhaps make it clear they're talking about Margaret Thatcher, and not Carol, or even Mark. It's interesting that the paper didn't feel comfortable about alienating the readers in the nations of the Kingdom by calling it 'Greatest Living Englishperson', but then went with an all-English shortlist anyway.

You might think that finding a way to justify a self-pitying, drug-and-drink sodden silly arse who prefers to hang out in LA than the UK being on the shortlist would prove a challenge. But the paper has managed to find a justification - he used to be patron of a charity. They even find a little boy to claim that he wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for Williams:

“Robbie is the best because he’s helped to make me better and he’s helped lots of other children too — and his songs are great!”

So, did Williams meet with Rhys?

Erm, no:
“I’d like to meet Robbie and say hello."

You might ask why, if he's so great, he's the ex-patron of the charity.

On the other hand, Robbie Williams hasn't ever attempted to crush the right of working people to have collectively-bargained wage settlements, or flogged off the water companies. So he's not all bad.


Anonymous said...

Rob is a good person. Helena

simon h b said...

Maybe. Though the horrible song about Nigel Martin Smith suggests maybe not.

But even if he is good, to call him the Greatest Living Briton is a bit of an insult to people who actually help other people.

Cobardon said...

You didn't expect Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough or James Watson to make 'The Sun' shortlist really though, did you?

After all, discovering a key part of DNA, educating millions and devoting a life to conservation or re-imagining space-time are a poor second to singing a few songs written by others or being born into a dynasty and shaking hands, when you think about it.

Wouldn't quibble with Macca on the list though. He's at least been a world leader in his field. Even, grudgingly, Thatcher may qualify as 'great' ahead of the others they picked.

I'm sure Thatch will get lots of plugging in the Scottish edition of the Sun though. That'll go down well up here.

Anonymous said...

I can agree with you that choosing the greatest living Briton is a bit silly, but british people are obsessed with lists on practically anything. Being in the world outside Britain and looking at all your lists (always a brit in the top of any worldwide list) is often laughable.

Anyway, as everyone who likes to slate Robbie William the ignorance is always a characteristic. Of course he isn't a doctor or any other person working all day for helping people - he is actually an artist. But if you had bothered to do a bit of research, you would have found out that being the patron for Jeans for genes for six years is only a small part of what Williams is doing for good causes. This project was mentioned since that particular family wanted to tell about why they liked Robbie. And do you really think he could meet every child he has contributed to help?

Robbie's contributions for disabled children should be more acknowledged, but usually the tabloids never mention it. They get more readers if they make up some nasty story about him, than if they write about his charity work. Robbie has been an Ambassador for UNICEF since 2000 and has visited and been together with children in need around the world numerous times. Last year (just one example) he spend some days with four orphans (their parents dead in AIDS) in South Africa. He also took the children to one of his concerts. Robbie is also involved in a lot of other projects for charity work, raising awareness of cancer, aids, genetic disorders etc. He has also his own fund "Give it sum" which supports a lot of important projects for children with different kinds of problems and old people in need. That's how self-pitying and silly Robbie is. But you can very seldom read anything about it since he doesn't want to use it for promotion. The exception is of course UNICEF, where the aim is that his person shall help to highlight their work.

I don't think Robbie is the greatest living briton (who could actually be?), but he is a far better person than all those think who only make their minds up about famous people from the made up stories they read in the crappy tabloids.

And it's not Robbie's fault that the Sun has come up with this idea and that people have voted for him.

About the song you mentioned - have you actually listened to it? It's one of his best, and it's not primarily about Smith. But do you really think a man who drags around five teenagers day and night in clubs etc. to make money is a nice person?

And for those who still doesn't believe Robbie writes his own songs - that's excactly what he does.

My native language isn't english so I hope you'll excuse any wrong grammars and spellings.

Marianne, Sweden

Webbo said...

Well if Robbie has achieved nothing else, he certainly seems to be Marianne's muse. That's quite an essay going on there.

I suppose it's not Robbie's fault (although it's hard to believe there has been a PR from Williams Central on the phone to the Sun). It's just that a list like this seems to throw his vacuousness as a cultural figure into relief.

I'm voting for Tony Benn.

simon h b said...

Cobardon: I suppose you're right - although surely Attenborough would have resonated enough with The Sun readership to have qualified. You do wonder what they'll do if Thatcher dies halfway through the voting, don't you?

Marianne: It's not British people so much as people who love lists, surely - we're not the only country that lists the best selling records every week, are we?

Is Williams an artist? Almost certainly. Even a bad artist is an artist, but since his best stuff has been written for him by other people, the question is: is he a good one?

The Nigel Martin-Smith song isn't about Nigel Martin-Smith? No, like everything Robbie does, it's about Williams, but since it includes a sequence where Williams fantasises about gouging out Martin-Smith's eyes with a Stanley knife, let's not pretend that the focus of song might not include the former manager.

You are right, it is one of the best things Robbie has ever written, but that speaks of his low standards, not any particular quality in what is a nasty, spiteful, childish scribble.

Nigel Martin-Smith may or may not be a bad person, but, frankly, Williams hasn't done badly out of "being dragged around nightclubs" - and he was, what, 17; it's hardly like he was kidnapped from a paper round. Old enough to be shot if he was in the army, in other words.

Yes, Robbie Williams has given a little money and a little time to high-profile charities. Give It Sum is an interesting example - wouldn't it make more sense to give the cash direct to Comic Relief, rather than to introduce a new charity, with all the extra administration and oversight and processing that entails? Admittedly, it might not attract special attention for Williams, but it would be more efficient.

That it has PR value is unquestionable: see, for example, the glowing coverage in Virgin Blue magazine.

And I'm not sure "UNICEF ambassador" is proof of anything other than you're famous enough to be asked rather than testament to your qualities.

But really, the most absurd point you make is this bit:

And for those who still doesn't believe Robbie writes his own songs - that's excactly what he does.

Really? What did Stephen Duffy and Guy Chambers do, then? Sharpen the pencils?

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