Monday, August 30, 2004

I see the venerable John Humphrys has been taking a pop at TV.

I must say I agree with alot of what he says. All that stuff about challenging the government - spot on. Soaps being full of aggression and such. Spot on. Reality TV being a pile of pooh. Weeeeeell, perhaps.

Now, I'm not proud of my addiction to Big Brother, and I would not argue in it's defence for a moment. I have come to accept that in many things my tastes are irredeemably lowbrow. I hate all opera other than some of Puccini's more accessible stuff, I prefer Streets of London to almost any Dylan song, the only classical music I have any affection for is of the sort you get on compilation albums advertised in the dead of night on satellite telly, my favourite food is chicken tikka balti and my bedside reading matter at the moment is Sharpe's Tiger - a cracking good read, BTW.

So, there's no bullshit post modern ironic appreciation of drivel going on here. I watch Big Brother for the same reason everybody else does - there's nothing more fascinating than other people's lives. And if it's damaging, meretricious, seedy and cynical, well hey ho, who gives a shit.

So, in his analysis of Big Brother and the majority of the bastard children it has spawned, Humphrys is, in his po-faced fashion, surely correct; excepting one important example, and that is Wife Swap. He has completely missed the point of this one. Easily done, I suppose, since it is dressed up in reality telly's clothes, but most episodes are morality tales for the modern era.

For those not familiar with the format, Wife Swap does pretty much what it says on the tin. Two wives swap families for a couple of weeks, the first week living by the established rules of their new respective households and then in the second week getting the chance to impose their own ideas.

A typical example has a family of seven from, shall we say, a less than affluent part of town. The wife lets the kids do pretty much as they please since she's too busy cooking, cleaning and washing and the husband does fuck all in the house and barely knows the kid's names. Introduced into this environment is a repressed, up her own arse middle class woman who believes children should be constantly stimulated and be prepared for later life by doing their "fair share" of the household chores, which amounts to pretty much all of them. Her own kids, Simon and Persephone, are pale, timid creatures with worried frowns, masses of useless knowledge and permanent scars - both mental and physical - from being bullied at school.

So far, so car crash. And indeed, for the first few days the clash of personalities and cultures can be terrifying. But about three parts in strange things start to happen. The up her own arse middle class woman has bullied the husband into interacting with his kids and doing some things around the house. The kids themselves actually enjoy washing the pots rather than running around the house trashing the place. The husband slowly comes to realise that he has been taking the piss out of his missus for years and that being a proper dad is at least as rewarding as surfing the net or playing the Playstation on his own.

Back in the leafy suburb, events are no les startling. Simon and Persephone have been given a crash course in modern childhood. They get to watch a bit of telly, have friends around to stay, discover the joys of Alton Towers. The worried frowns disappear. Dad lightens up and lets the kids stay up after half nine occasionally.

In short, both sets of parents get to take a long hard look at the ways in which they fuck up their own and their kids'lives and the viewers are left to ponder on how they conduct theirs.

Positively Reithian, in fact.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Don't Click on "Next Blog"

Not because I want to keep you here forever, but because the second blog I came to tried to infect me with a trojan horse.

Thank you, Blogger.
Hello again, not been around for a while. Watching the Olympics, mainly. Especially the Badminton in the first week, which has led to even more enthusiastic than usual gallumphing around a court on my part trying to emulate the heroics of Gail Emms and that guy who looks like Stuart out of Big Brother.

I play at my local sport centre with a group of Asians and it is my experience there that has made me realise that my fond youthful dream of being a journalist was just fine staying where it was in la la land.

What would your average half decent political journo have done with the opportunity of socialising with a group people that includes a fair amount of Muslims, at this time in our history? Might he have broached the subject of the Iraq war, for instance? May he have used this opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of Muslim attitudes to 9/11, Islamophobia, Islamofacism etc? Or would he spend his time debating the demerits of the panhandle grip and the forehand serve?

Thought so.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The most boring blogger alive in typically po-faced form.

I think dear Oliver must have a similar problem with language as Bush. Anyone who writes such tedious, long winded sentences as he does must have a problem when verbalising his thoughts. I mean, with the best will in the world you'd get lost trying to spout it.

Actually, I'm wrong about his sentences. I've just been to have a look to find an example and most of his setences are fine. Quite a few have an elegance that he clearly strives for. It's his paragraphs I have the problem with. Not so much the paragraphs, actually. Not the paragraphs per se. Many are fine. More carefully constructed paragraphs you are unlikely to find, certainly in bloggo bloggo land.

It's all of it, really, I can't get on with. When you put it all together, those elegant sentences, those well constructed paragraphs, you can't escape the feeling, I can't anyway, that this is a bloke you'd run a mile from if you met him in real life. And that's before you analyse what he's actually saying.

I know he has many fans out there, and The Times has even been known to publish him, but to me he occupies the same territory as WJ Philips and Guessedworker.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

I don't often say it, but I think Blunkett's right about this.
Those asylum seekers, they get the best of everything. They come over here, get the best housing, jumping the queues, mind and get the best treatment on the NHS as well.