Posts from June 2005
OK, first of all, I was completely wrong about Big Brother this year. It is horrible, but also fascinating, and an amazing piece of collaborative theatre – directors and cast trying to pull it each into a different rhythm, all of them very aware of the interlocking plates of short-term gain, long-term strategy, what the public want to see and how the last few series went. (Some of them of course are wrong.)
Tonight’s incident with Kemal interrupting Maxwell and Saskia’s petting was written up as devastating banter from the house’s Queen Bitch. It was a lot less pleasant to watch, though I was still entirely on Kemal’s side and thought he handled it pretty well. As Dr Alex commented to me earlier this series, Big Brother is a scarily accurate representation of life in a boarding school, and this particular episode more than most.
There were plenty of times I was kept awake at school by people kissing and fumbling: it’s a really disturbing, creepy feeling being in the next door bed, particularly if the ones doing it aren’t your favourite individuals anyway. There were several occasions when I’d have loved to say something and stop it, let alone something as catty as what Kemal managed. Of course I never did. So I was cheering Kemal on. Saying something in those situations leaves you horribly exposed – paintable as a prude, as jealous, as a pervert listening in – and even though Kemal fumbled his lines the lines themselves were gold. He gets my vote, if it comes to that.
(It’s also worth pointing out – as usual with Big Brother – that it’s very hard to imagine that kind of scene ever being scripted in a drama, or turning out so visceral.)
Here is how you become a pop star.
1. Go to record company.
2. Say “I am a celebrity can I put a single out?”
3. Repeat 1 and 2 until someone says “Yes”
4. Release record.
5. If the record is good enough* you will now be a pop star by dint of being famous already. If it isn’t you won’t.
Worked for Kylie and Jason, it’ll work for you.
*sadly this utopian claim is actually untrue. Paris Hilton’s “Screwed” is a great little pop record, a mite self-knowing but at least it doesn’t duck out of the ‘made-by-someone-famous’ factor entirely. It has stiffed hugely.
ITV, not cowed by pisspoor reality TV ratings have hit on a new format that blends two of their biggest hits with one middling on. So take a soupcon of Hit Me Baby One More Time and add a bucket of Pop Idol and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and what do you get:
Almost the opposite then of being in Atomic Kitten.
I have always believed that something is not a world record just because no-one has thought of doing it before (cf Big Brother 2 and the stupid sugar lump tower). So “breaking” the record for the highest dinner party is not a proper record in my book.
Andy anyway, couldn’t this easily be beaten by having a dinner party IN A PLANE! On A SPACE SHUTTLE. Surely it cannot be a dinner party unless Dido is on the stereo and people are talking about the rise in house prices. NONSENSE!
(Article pointlessly posted on Blog 7 accidentally re-emerges).
Adam & Paul are a pair of Dublin junkies. They wake up not knowing where they are, and spend the rest of the day/film trying to score/doing nothing. They talk in circles. They have pointless adventures and when the day ends, they are pretty much back where they started. Which one is Adam, which one is Paul? Who knows (who cares?)
Its clear where writer/actor Mark O’Halloran is coming from here: try not to mention Beckett though as anything compared is clearly sub-Beckett. And even if nothing much happens, that is still a lot more than what happens in Godot. But the circular dialogue and lack of consequence is what eventually dooms the film. What starts off as droll becomes skittishly humourous, then a touch episodic and then unengaging. Adam & Paul works at showing the meaninglessness of these lives, but we got that in the first ten minutes. Divorced of the feature structure there are some excellent short films in here, or an excellent sitcom even. But the film seems inconsequential, because it is inconsequential.
A blanket ban on any live act performing original compositions before, say, 2PM. This is the main insight you’re left with camping near the new bands/John Peel tent but a wander anywhere onsite on any morning will show that the principle holds across the board. There are an awful, awful lot of songs being written and the vast majority of them are apalling: no hooks, no texture, no imagination, nothing to say lyrically, an endless trudging whine. At their best they tend to be better songs copied in crayon by a chimp. At their worst they’re just?.nothing, barely even music, lumps of half-formed chord progression, you can hardly believe anyone has bothered to learn these songs, let alone record them. The simple truth is that in 95% of cases if you’re onstage at a festival before lunchtime, it’s because you’re shit.
The only good songs any of these bands ever play are covers. They generally throw a cover into their set, maybe of a pop song or a more famous band’s tune. Even if it’s a song I personally don’t like it tends to be fifteen times more coherent and memorable than the rest of the set. Some bands play nothing but covers – this is even better, particularly if the covers have a gimmick, like Hayseed Dixie’s bluegrass versions of hard rock tunes. Maybe if I was to come across these versions in the captivity of CD format I’d despise them but festivals are not a normal environment, your audience have special needs and they want to be entertained not subjected to the standard support band sludge.
One of my favourite all time ILx threads suddenly popped back today, and between more musing on nuclear power, I suggest anyone who has ever been afraid of gravity ceasing to exist so pop over there. The mass of Ilx science know-it-alls explain what would happen if gravity vanished and why it is not worth worrying about.
The philosophers may well have a bit more trouble on the induction front.
Shock! Horror! Dylan sells rights to music to be played in EVIL StarbuXor. As the cossetted article points out, Dylan has been doing this for forty years. And anyone can play any record in a shop they like if its had a commercial release (its covered by PRS after all). Mind you, getting Dylan with a shot of espresso might be the biggest shock since he went electric.
What do people read in the summertime? Predominantly I’d wager whatever is in the 3 for 2 section at Books Etc at the airport. And these in turn are possibly fueled by other media sources: Richard & Judy’s Book Club for instance, and their suggested summer reads. But where do these books come from, did Madeley & Finnegan read them all? Of all the books published every week, which ones get into the book reviews of the Sundays. Oh, I think we are talking marketing aren’t we?
Marketing is apparently an evil in the world of books. It is why we are in the parlous state we are in, where the top ten books in the country are all written by Dan Brown or involve you putting numbers in boxes (who knew the Self Assessment Tax Return could be so popular.) And this is of course all marketing’s fault. Not people who enjoyed the Da Vinci Code and rolled on to all his other books. How big has the ad spend on Da Vinci been after all? Before it Brown was a middling thriller writer, with a sturdy but unimpressive fan base. Now one in five trees chopped down is making a Dan Brown book. But they are in the 3 for 2 piles, they are easy to get in the bookshop and better the devil you know, right. When books are so expensive.
I wonder, do many people even browse that much in bookshops any more, do people pick up books because of the blurb on the back (MARKETING TOO!) or something even more tenuous. Books are expensive, and can we compare the time spent reading with other leisure activities. If we did books would be a bargain, but only if the books are any good. How do we know the books are any good? Marketing. The Da Vinci Code, like High Fidelity and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin before it are water-cooler books, to nick the terminology. Or tube carriage books. Everyone else is reading them, why don’t we? The equivalent of the summer blockbuster in publishing. The only problem is that publishers find it almost as difficult to spot these books as Hollywood has making their blockbusters any good. The perils of comparison between media are clear, but in London a book costs about the same as a film, and yet I suggest the quality criteria we place on either differs wildly. As do the way publishers find and then market them.
With one obvious cross media exception. Stand up Mr Potter…