Emily Eavis: a fighter against the great rock’n’roll festival swindle | Rebecca Nicholson

About time too that gender inequality at Glastonbury and Reading was addressed

At this point, it does seem as if Reading and Leeds festival is doing it on purpose. For years, the bookers have been criticised for curating such a male-heavy line-up, yet for years, they keep on offering those male-heavy line-ups.

Once again, the writer Lucy McCourt has produced a 2020 Reading and Leeds poster, with the many, many male acts blanked out, leaving the tiny minority of female musicians as the odd smudge of black on a sea of plain yellow, like an unwell bee. The old argument used to be that there simply weren’t enough female acts around. While there may be a dearth of headline-level women still, for a number of complex reasons, that is no excuse for the paucity on its other stages. It is laziness, or stubbornness, or both, and it is drearily predictable. As the DJ Annie Mac tweeted last week, it is also disheartening, especially for the teenage girls who might be going to their first festival there, as many do.

The reaction to the fuss, however, has been anything but disheartening. At an eventful NME awards, Emily Eavis picked up a “godlike genius” gong for her work running Glastonbury. She told Radio 1’s Newsbeat that “our future has to be 50-50” when it comes to the gender split on bills. “When I look back at past Glastonbury line-ups, I realised it’s always been male heavy,” she said. “Unless you consciously change and really address it, then it will stay the same.”

While most of the festival was off watching Coldplay one year, I saw Janelle Monáe perform one of the most memorable sets I’ve ever seen and I have never struggled to catch female acts at Glastonbury. If Eavis is saying you have to make an effort, then her efforts have been rewarded by the best festival in the world and it only promises to get better.

Also heartening is that male acts with some sway recognise they have a part to play. Matt Healy from the 1975 has pledged to only play festivals that do more to support an equal gender split. Yannis Philippakis from Foals accepted his NME award for best live act by saying gender balance “has got to happen”.

For the fight to be won it needs support from all sides and this feels like the crucial shift, at long last. This is cautious optimism. We are nowhere near there yet. But when there are already models to look to, and signs that a commitment to the effort is working – Primavera managed a 50-50 split last year as did Iceland Airwaves and other festivals, such as Latitude and the 6 Music festival, are close – there is simply no excuse any more.

Paddy McGuinness: Take Me Out hits sell-by date

Paddy McGuinness
Paddy McGuinness: end of the road. Photograph: Lee Brimble/BBC Studios

It’s no likey for Paddy McGuinness and Take Me Out, which has been cancelled by ITV after a decade on air.

The Saturday evening dating show, which aimed to find a date for a man with a “talent” – if you can call wearing jeans that are somehow tighter than leggings a talent – by putting him up against a panel of 30 women who could judge him on the basis of a sizzle reel of his life.

If you were a regular viewer like me, you could spot the fatal mistakes as they flickered into focus. Any man declaring: “I love my mum”, followed by a shot of his mum loading his undies into a washing machine, would be greeted with a wall of noise as the lights dimmed to darkness.

Even as a sucker for dating TV, I knew Take Me Out had, well, dated. These days, romantic television demands a version of reality that both presents itself as authentic and as aspirational and just out of reach.

It’s a tough balance to strike.

Now, viewers want Love Island’s cooked-up micro dramas or argumentative dinner dates between exes. I’m just sad they never made a same-sex Take Me Out – we can only imagine – and also a little worried about the tourist trade in Fernando’s.

Larry David: his satire is clearly wasted on Trump

Larry David in the show that Trump posted.
Larry David in the show that Trump posted. Photograph: Twitter

When Donald Trump tweeted (really, you could start a million sentences with those four words, and none would end well) a clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm, the odds were strong that he was about to not get the joke.

With the caption “Tough guys for Trump!” – he wrote it in all caps but do we really have to? – he posted a scene from the first episode of the new season, in which Larry David decides to wear a red MAGA hat to repel others and get more space in crowded restaurants in liberal Los Angeles. In Trump’s clip, Larry swerves his car into a Hells Angel type on a motorbike but averts a moment of road rage by invoking a moment of MAGA hat solidarity.

Even in explaining that set-up, I have made the gag at least 90% less funny. As people clamoured to call Trump an idiot for not seeing he is the butt of the joke, I was wondering if that is true. Is the joke simply that a MAGA cap is repulsive to anyone but a tough-guy biker? Or is it that Larry has finally found a way to push people away? Or is it that rich people in LA are hypocrites? I don’t know, but I do know my enjoyment of a simple-ish gag was greatly reduced. Over-thinking jokes is the end of decent humour.

When asked if he was worried that the episode would alienate Trump fans, David said: “Alienate yourselves. Go, go and alienate. You have my blessing”, which gives some indication of the intent. Maybe Trump didn’t get that it was satire or perhaps he didn’t care. Who would have thought he might trim a clip of all context just to make it fit his argument?

• Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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