Saturday, October 24, 2009

BNP Time

It was probably the most controversial event of the week – postal strikes and Afghanistan aside– and caused mass outrage, but in the end the appearance of BNP leader Nick Griffin on question time went ahead as planned.

Having Griffin on the show was always going to be contentious, as many see the BNP as a fascist and racist organisation. Unfortunately (and no matter how well meaning the protest may appear to people who want an end to racial intolerance) whether you like it or not, the BNP have been democratically elected to the European Parliament by the North West and York and Humberside electorate, so it was right that the BBC invited Griffin on the show, as to not would have contravened the idea of democratic free speech. After all if we marginalise undesirable politicians who were voted in legitimately, we therefore deny a voice to the people who decided to vote for them. Sure some people may argue (as the protesters outside the BBC effectively did) that that’s allowable given the unsavoury views of the party, but then that’s not free speech. You can’t just silence people you don’t like. Where would it end? It would be a slippery slope towards denying more and more people a voice, and who’s to decide what constitutes denying several thousand voters a voice, thankfully not the government. It’s ironic as doing just that would bring us a step closer to fascism and a dictatorial style government, than just letting Griffin come on the show.

Personally I don’t see the BNP as much of a threat. Most people can tell they’re bigoted. Sure they’ve been given a bit of a makeover since the days when they boasted skinheads and outspoken anti-Semites but the blind xenophobia bubbling under the surface is still more than apparent. Also the level of protest that was seen outside the BBC yesterday was unnecessary, as I don’t think people need to take to the streets to stop the BNP from rising to power. They do a perfectly good job on their own of showing themselves up for the narrow minded oafs that they are.

Watching him on Question Time was a pretty painful experience, as the likes of David Dimbleby, Jack Straw and Chris Huhne, had come prepared with embarrassing on-the-record comments that Griffin had made, and they took delight in subjecting him to a sound whipping. Griffin really had little he could say to any of this, and when he tried to deny them he just looked silly (a bit like his holocaust denial which also took up a chunk of the show). What was just as bad was when he launched into an angry tirade about the ‘evils’ of Islam. About how Muslims mistreat women (in some cases a valid criticism, but I would hold that down more to local cultural customs rather than Qur’an doctrine), and that Muslims are instructed to murder, and look down upon people of other religions. If only someone had pointed out to him that the Qur’an states that murder is the ultimate evil, and that Christianity (which he talked up so much) is just as guilty of religious intolerance to the same degree, if not worse, (considering the crusades, and the treatment of colonial Africa) as Islam.

I could write for pages about why Nick Griffin’s arguments are wrong, and that I don’t like the boss eyed bigot, especially for trying to concoct an image of Britain being destroyed, which never properly existed - it’s just a doe-eyed flight of fancy with the Union Flag plastered everywhere - but to be honest it’s not worth it. Everyone seems to see him for what he is and quite honestly he got the distain he deserved yesterday from the public and the panel.

Moving on to the programme itself, I thought it was, all in all, a bit predictable. I don’t think anyone didn’t expect Griffin to show himself up, and of course we had numerous outraged members of the public asking him how he could hold such hateful views. You could see it coming a mile off. What was also expected, and eventually came to fruition, is that the other members of the panel, especially in the case of Straw and Huhne were determined to give the new guy a damn good kicking. It diverted attention away from any controversial issues they were going to get pressed on. Dimbleby too took a good chance to get the boot in, and it was plainfully obvious that he did not like Griffin one bit. Unfortunately I think the show suffered for all this distain. There wasn’t much real debate about any recent issues. The BNP aspect of the show took up all the time, so you have to feel sorry for the people who turned up with questions about actual government policy. In fact I wouldn’t even call the BNP discussion a debate. It was more a competition of who can vent the most moral outrage. He might as well of been in the stocks having burning crosses and swastikas thrown at him, as only that would have made him look more uncomfortable. All in all, it was just a chance for Griffin to get publically held to account for his racist views, which is not a bad thing - he had it coming really – but maybe they should have had a debate instead of pillorying the ‘only’ racist village as they did yesterday. Talk about Little Britain.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Moir Stupidity

Today I think I’m going to add my voice to the growing number of critics of a column article written by Jan Moir for the Daily Mail.

In the article Moir alleges that there was, “Nothing natural” about the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, who died last week aged 33. And goes on to make several quite backward comments about the singer’s lifestyle – Gately came out as gay in 1999 - referring to it as “Sleazy,” and that his sudden death is “a blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships”. To turn an unfortunate public figure’s death into a case against gay marriage is a strange one. It only seems to undermine a petty and homophobic mindset. It’s almost like she’s seen Gately’s death as a way to put the boot in to the gay community, although without saying it overtly. Still most people can read between the lines of that, and have.

It would appear that in Moir’s eyes, there is no smoke without fire, in the case of a gay man dying; even going against the conventional logic that the coroner’s judgement is generally a good indication of the cause of death (something Charlie Brooker pokes fun at in his reaction piece). Gately died of pulmonary oedema, which caused his lungs to fill up with fluid, and killed him in his sleep. Dr Moir, however, claims that this is doubtful however; whilst I’m sure by her logic watching enough episodes of Quincy makes her qualified enough to suggest whatever she wants about a post mortem result. She is convinced that, “Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.” And how I wish that was true, but of course it isn’t! I had a lecturer who keeled over and died, of a cerebral haemorrhage at about the same age as Gately, and I have heard several stories of people, who on the surface seemed healthy and suddenly died of an undetected health problem, so there’s no doubt it happens. But still, ‘Agatha’ Moir is on the case, and if the person who died is one of those, you know, gays, there must be foul play afoot by her twisted logic.

Moir has basically been na├»ve, idiotic, and has chosen to relate to this story in manner that only belies her prejudices. Sure we come to expect these things from The Daily Mail, but not with the same stupidity, or even the sheer ignorance that what she’s saying is homophobic. Not to mention publishing this the day before his funeral, at what must be an awful time for his family and fans, is just insensitive.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Would I lie to you?

I went to see the Invention of Lying, the most recent vehicle for Ricky Gervais’s movie career playing fictitious versions of himself. Having seen his last offering, Ghost Town, I was a little worried that this film would be similarly promising, but ultimately lacking in consistency when it came to laughs.

So like Ghost Town, The Invention of Lying is a high concept film which features an alternate universe where people are unable to say anything that isn’t 100 per cent true. So naturally there are numerous scenes, where we are led to titter at someone unflinchingly telling a waiter that the restaurant's food was terrible, or in other scenes where people bluntly and unflinchingly say that they hate their co-workers. It's a bit like a reality TV talent show really. That’s where Mark Bellingham (Gervais) comes in, as the tubby loser (I’m not being harsh, this fact is repeatedly shoved down the audiences throat by many of the characters), who after being fired from his job, and failing dismally to attract women comes across the ability to tell lies. Cue hilarity; an attempt to win the girl of his dream, and the accidental invention of religion as he comforts his dying mother.

Of course most of the laughs are going to be due to the high concept theme, such as when Bellingham proves the ability to lie to his friends by announcing he is black, to which one of his friends replies “I knew it;” unable to distinguish untruths from truths. However, the best laughs come when he accidentally invents religion – as mentioned above. The scene where he sets the rules for his new religion; reading off pizza boxes instead of stone slabs - an obvious nod to Moses laying down the ten commandments - is hilarious.

The high concept world without lies is also deserving of praise as it is well thought-out; taking note of small details such as the lack of fiction, and adverts which can’t bend the facts. Most notably in the case of an ad for Pepsi declaring their drink is: “For when they haven’t got Coke.” You can tell that a fictional world has succeeded in capturing your imagination, when you desire to find out more about its intricacies which haven’t been explained. Like in my case what happened during the Watergate scandal, without the ability to lie.

Now whilst I enjoyed this film, and definitely prefer it to Ghost Town – I feel that the whole performance from Gervais was far too self conscious. Fine, we understand you are able to poke fun at your podgy figure and the fact you feel inferior to women, but it doesn’t need to be shouted repeatedly at us in this way, it just becomes tiresome.

However, whilst I got sick of Gervais overemphasising how much of loser Bellingham is meant to be, the biggest problem is with the love interest Anna (Jennifer Garner). There is one word to sum her up and that is boring. Anna is also a vacuous; uninteresting; eugenics obsessive, with very few redeeming features. The fact that she is totally driven by looks and lacks any personality makes the film frustrating to watch after a time. It’s made worse by the fact Bellingham is so smitten by her. Whilst being physically repugnant to her, he is ultimately a kind and thoughtful man, so it becomes painful to see him pouring praise on her as human being – of course she fails to return the favour – whilst she sits there thinking she just deserves it for being pretty. Also she keeps moaning about her need to spawn perfect physically little narcissists, even if it means being married and fucked by a complete cunt (played wonderfully by Rob Lowe) for the trouble. Seriously why didn’t someone introduce her to Saddam Hussein? She would probably really hit it off on a personal level. Also the laughs rather tail off towards the end, as the love story takes hold of the plot, which I felt ruined the enjoyment a little, and made the film seem a bit schizophrenic.

So there you have it, The Invention of Lying, is a far better than its predecessor, and the laughs are definitely there. Whilst it’s a film of two halves, and the fact it’s no film of the year in my mind, it is certainly a worthwhile cinema experience. Also look out for a brilliant cameo from Stephen Merchant and Shaun ‘Barry-off-Eastenders’ Williamson.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Geldofs Be Gone!

Really, who actually cares about what the Geldof children are up to? Anybody? No one’s had a long, roving, and highly stimulating discussion about the latest antics of the brood with pretentious names? I don’t see any hands? Come on, does no one give a toss that one of them was seen freshening up with a wet wipe, or another was seen enjoying a coffee and a slice of carrot cake? Well if this is the case, then the press have wasted a massive amount of time, space, and resources on Bobby, ‘Saviour of Africa and that guy who sung I don’t like Mondays’s,’ princesses. I suppose what I’m saying isn’t new, mainly: “who are these people and why should I care about them”.

It’s an issue endemic to the cult of celebrity that the media has become besotted with. Still, I can understand why people might prick up their ears if some, famous for the sake of it, pratt – like the hordes of interchangeable FHM and Sun glamour models, or Jordan - gain some attention, as their train-wreck lives are so compelling sometimes you can’t help but stare, whilst every urge in your body wills you to just ignore them so they’ll go away.

The Geldofs on the other-hand are something of an anomaly, and are a bit more stubborn, as despite the fact I don’t think I’ve heard any man or woman on the street give a monkeys about them. Despite this they still keep appearing in my face (and sometimes in my nightmares where the world is run by celebrity children, who because of their parents influence, and a deluded belief that they are in their position because of their talent rather than said influence, are able to rise to the levels of governance) which is a bit surprising I can’t see (or maybe don’t want to see) how they contribute to papers being sold. Incidentally I think the only people who I think believe their hype are the Geldof sisters themselves and the gossip press. Either that or the press are just looking for something easy to fill the gap on the gossip pages of the Daily Bilge.

I hope I am actually right in my assumptions and evidence that I’ve experienced thus far, in thinking they aren’t as important as the press and the Geldof’s think they are. This is mainly as I detest their types: little immature girls who because of their parent’s contacts, and the opportunities that creates, are able to blunder into the media without breaking a sweat.

Peaches for instance from the age of 16 has been allowed actual airtime as an television presenter/ journalist; it pains me to think of the poor men and women with actual talent and ambition that have been ushered aside for this socialite attention seeker, who wouldn’t have even been considered for a press pack report on Newsround. So there you have it I guess. They are going to keep sporadically appearing in papers which heavily coerce me to believe they deserve to be in the papers, I guess I’ll just have to take to cutting their pictures out of it and creating a bonfire of mediocrity from the stupid images of their smug faces.