Hang Your Head In Shame, Britain

Soo… 27.49% of Britain voted racist. 

“This is a barrel in which you would be lucky to find one good apple, misplaced among the rotten ones. Like former UKIP activist Kim Gandy, who worked in care, but joked on Facebook that elderly people should be euthanised when they become a burden (she told the NS the comments were written after a bad day, and have been taken out of context), or Maggie Chapman, who cracks jokes about Muslims having sex with camels and “paki” families going home and spreads Christmas cheer with her “eggnog for nig-nogs”. Farage can distance himself from all of them; sack all of them; disinherit all of them. The inescapable truth is that it is his policies which attract them and will keep doing so; they remain his “eccentrics”.
(New Statesman)

As one of those “pakis” that the UKIP joke about, I hope the entire membership and everyone who voted for them rots and dies. 

Eric And Ernie (2011)

I’m currently watching the Morecambe & Wise biopic ‘Eric and Ernie’ on BBC4.

I’ve seen it before but just got hooked by the first five minutes because it’s perhaps one of the finest docudramas I’ve ever seen. I can’t fault anything about it: screenplay, direction, casting, acting, costume, sets ~ everything is perfect.

The actors playing Morecambe and Wise are uncanny in their rendition. And they would have to be: millions of Brits like me have watched hour upon hour of Morecambe and Wise, we know every tiny inflection, gag and tic of their onstage personas. Daniel Rigby plays Morecambe, Bryan Dick plays Wise and their performances would be Oscar-winning if anyone in America knew who Morecambe and Wise were. Watching now, if I close my eyes, their voices are so spot-on, it’s quite spooky. Both actors have difficult jobs here for different reasons. Dick manages to capture Wise’s speech, mannerisms and even body language perfectly and yet, just how would you do an Ernie impression? I don’t understand how he carried it off, it is magical. On the other hand, everybody and his Mum does a terrible Eric impression so Rigby could easily have fallen into that trap. But he sidesteps it deftly, bringing real delicacy (and his own stand-up timing) to both the funny and the sad Morecambe. I really can’t praise the central actors’ performances enough, had either of them played a bum note, the whole thing would have collapsed.

Their performances are framed by equally expert turns from Victoria Wood and Jim Moir (Vic Reeves) as Morecambe’s Mum and Dad. Having two veteran comedians playing the parents was a brilliant casting choice, their timing is, of course, impeccable. Moir drops some wonderful one-liners with languid, deadpan timing. Still got it. Wood has fewer opportunities to clown but she does have her own great comebacks and sly observations.

‘Eric and Ernie’ was originally broadcast in 2011 and since then there have been a few biopics of beloved Brit entertainers, the latest being of Tommy Cooper. Where this differs from those forays is that the screenplay doesn’t needlessly over-dramatise the history. There is a huge temptation with comedians to do the cliched TRAGEDY BEHIND THE LAUGHTER and I’m relieved that ‘Eric and Ernie’ doesn’t do that. But it doesn’t whitewash the difficulties they had when they initially flopped on TV and some of the stickier moments of their working partnership. It’ll never happen but I would love to see Rigby and Dick reprise their roles in a follow up one day, seeing Morecambe and Wise at the height of their career. They would kill the Previn sketch.

If you’ve never seen this, download it, buy the DVD, whatever. It’s a beautiful piece of drama about the best double act in the history of comedy. Morecambe and Wise were peerless and this film is a fitting tribute to their marvellous talent.

Look Up?

Okay, I find some of this a little corny and definitely simplistic. 

BUT…

In my final year of sociology, I started researching whether parasocial interaction was displacing social, which is, in some ways, what this video is suggesting. I didn’t have enough time to pursue it beyond the earliest reading because my actual dissertation beckoned. 

I grew up pre-web, pre-mobile phone. I don’t remember my life as being terrible for that lack. The other side of that is not to fall into some nostalgic fantasy that those days were golden and mobiles ruined everything and look, kids don’t even talk to each other now. That’s obviously piffle. 

What I would say is that there seems to be a greater degree of ignorance in everyday interaction. As we have adopted what was initially business-oriented tech, it appears that the tech has shaped our interactions to be more business-like: based on utility, exploitation and what serves our own interests best. 

Personally, I am fed-up with talking to people who are constantly on their phones at the same time. These people always claim to be able to multi-task but the truth is, instead of giving one person 100% of their attention, they’re giving two (or more!) people far less. 

What is so urgent that it can’t wait? Is it that crucial to like a stranger’s Instagram rather than talk to a flesh and blood friend in the same room? 

Checking your phone has become, for a lot of us, a social tic and a prop in the Goffmanian sense. It’s exactly the same as people feeling awkward in nightclubs/parties unless they’re holding a drink or a fag. 

The tech becomes a layer of protection against what we perceive to be a largely indifferent and sometimes positively cruel world. We feel anxious so we fire up our phones and, instantly, here’s a little world of people who know us. They know we’re sexy, funny, creative, have a band, ship Destiel or whatever. 

So we smile and we like, reblog, retweet, favourite, comment. 

But in that attention, we may miss some new possibility around us. And we most definitely send out a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ which is as strong as sitting with your earbuds in, blasting out Arise Horror. 

I’m old so I can switch modes, I grew up with other interactional models available to me. But what if you’ve grown up within this new framework? Will you be like Vashti, comfortable in conformity or like Kuno, longing to experience a humanity you feel denied you? 

(While I was looking up Forster links, I found this description of Vashti: 

Vashti is content with her life, which, like most inhabitants of the world, she spends producing and endlessly discussing secondhand ‘ideas’.

Hey, Tumblr, does that sound familiar at all?)

Since I deleted my Facebook last August, my life has been a lot happier. I did have this brief withdrawal period where I felt isolated but that faded as I replaced the parasocial with the social. And, er, actually doing stuff like songwriting, writing, photography, etc. That’s the other side of this: we only have limited time, if we spend so much of it like Vashti does, who’s going to produce the new comics, films, telly? 

There is a current thread of anti-tech sentiment I witness in twentysomethings I know. This seems allied to the vinyl / cassette / film camera fetishism of that generation. You could attribute it to passing hipsterism or it may be the marker of an underlying alienation, a realisation that all this convenient social tech is actually inconveniencing us and making us asocial. 

It’s going to be interesting to see how the cultures develop… 

Jeremy Clarkson A Racist ~ DUH!

JEREMY CLARKSON A RACIST, SHOCK HORROR!

The BBC says it has left Jeremy Clarkson “in no doubt about how seriously” it takes allegations he used racist language while filming Top Gear.

Clarkson has apologised and asked for forgiveness after a clip of him reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe was published by the Mirror.

Although he mumbles the offending word, the presenter clearly begins by saying the letter “n”.
(Source: BBC News)

Is *anyone* surprised by this? This is the man who said striking workers should be shot, after all.

Also:

It is not the first time the Top Gear presenter has been accused of racism.

The BBC apologised in 2011, after an episode in which co-presenter Richard Hammond called Mexicans “feckless [and] flatulent” and Clarkson joked they would not receive complaints because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep.

Apologies were also made for an episode broadcast in March, in which Clarkson used the word “slope” as an Asian man crossed a newly built bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand.

The use of the word – which is a derogatory term for people of Asian descent – led to complaints and the threat of legal action from Equal Justice, a law firm specialising in discrimination cases.
(Source: BBC News)

But I think Stewart Lee said it all, really:

Top Gear is just the Daily Mail for the telly. Racist, sexist shit that only people who are racist and sexist themselves can forgive.