JUST AN OBSERVATION

Friday 12th January

With it feeling more like late March/early April outside 2012 has got off to a confusing start-hurricane winds last week then an early spring this week-but in a good way. Personally though the most confusing thing for me occurred after channel surfing the TV the other night I landed briefly on Celebrity Big Brother – have not watched this particular reality show for years after it became too self conscious and continually messed around with the format simply to boost ratings-and was unable to locate a celebrity amongst the inhabitants. Seriously unable to distinguish what makes an X-Factor reject, an annoying Shrieking Harridan-or one of the Loose Women to give her the title she prefers- a dancer who is on a show with Louis Spence but isn’t Louis Spence although he is even camper-hardly seems possible-and a tawdry collection of ‘glamour’ models worthy of the soubriquet celebrity is simply beyond me. Being the first really big reality show to catch the public’s imagination at the dawn of the twenty first century it is sad that the show did not bow out years ago or even when Channel 4 decommissioned it about three years ago. It is now beyond embarrassing and the celebrities are almost as unknown as the unknowns who entered the house twelve years ago unaware of what they were entering into. In fact non-entity would be a more appropriate monikor than celebrity. This lot however are in there for a career boost and a financial top up to their bank balances from the inevitable articles in the trash mags –the ones which if placed in a certain order on the shelves spell out Hello, Take a  Look, Closer, Now and Reveal ,OK- and the whole thing reeks of desperation. I managed less then ten minutes watching it however and maybe am missing out on some unmissable cultural artefact but I very much doubt it.

What I would consider an unmissable cultural artefact was a one off showing of a silent film classic Vampyr by Carl Theodor Dreyer from 1932 accompanied by a new original soundtrack by Steve Severin. Relying on a strong visual aesthetic-the plot line was somewhat convoluted and secondary to the development – the musical accompaniment helped to enforce and distil the eerie, unsettling atmospherics of the film operating in perfect synchronicity with the amazing visual constructs. It was the third of s series of three sound and vision experiments/projects by Severin-Dr. Caligari and Death of a Poet received the same treatment to equally stunning effect- and was a welcome addition to what hopefully could be a regular series of events. Many of the silent films of this era cry out for something to make them more appealing to a modern day audience and I feel Severin got it very right in his musical interpretations. His chilling, haunting ambient soundscapes provided suitably spectral qualities as required and were never overbearing or incongruous.

There has been much in the news the past few weeks about PC madness and how it has gone too far with people now being afraid to say anything without someone finding something offensive in it. Not that this stops the likes of Frankie Boyle, Ricky Gervais or anyone in the Big Brother house- accusations of bullying and offensive remarks pepper the media but it is simply people behaving as they do in real life-from saying what they mean. Much as I have no wish to return to the primitive days of the seventies and early eighties when PC awareness was an essential antidote to the bigotry of racism, anti-gay sentiment and even rampant misogyny it is now being associated with a bunch of do-gooders ready to pounce on any little remark in the form of censorship and fascism which the original advocates set out to destroy. It is like it is now eating its own young. Whilst many of the issues it covers are extremely worthwhile and important-no-one should be mocked or judged because of their colour, race, sexual orientation or disabilities whether they be physical or mental- a little leeway is required otherwise we are in danger of becoming a humourless nation under constant censorship. I remember a couple of years ago watching an episode of X-Crutiating Factor wherein after two of one of the judges acts had ended up in the bottom two and said judge had to decide which one of the sobbing, pleading wannabes they would save to continue in the competition Dermot O’Weary attempted to cajole a decision by saying that it was a bit like Sophie’s Choice. Following this off the cuff remark- inappropriate and ill advised but hardly offensive – the phone lines were jammed with complaints that his remark was insensitive to descendants of those who perished in the holocaust. Personally this was PC madness in extremis over a stupid remark which was obviously not meant to cause offence or belittle the seriousness of the holocaust but it showed how far things have gone and not necessarily in the steps of advancement. It is a bit like when Mary Whitehouse humming along to the Beatles’ I am the Walrus realised there was a line in there about someone being a naughty girl who took her knickers down and immediately outraged tried to have their specially commissioned film which included the song banned. We do not want to turn into a nation of Mary Whitehouse’s nor do we want to return to the values where those alienated from the mainstream become the afflicted because of their differences but we do need to get some kind of reasonable perspective.

Continuing on the theme of what is acceptable I am off to see Steve McQueen’s latest film Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan this afternoon which deals with the issue of sex addiction. With pornography available online it no longer is associated with something to be ashamed of as many indulge themselves after a simple two clicks on the mouse. What the PC brigade would have made of this twenty or thirty years ago is anyone’s guess but it only goes to show how generational some things are as pornography is no longer a social taboo and in many ways is an accepted part of the mainstream. There is no longer any need to reach up to a top shelf-filled with trash mags now anyway- or sneak through to the back area of a down market shop in order to make an illicit purchase when it is available in your living room on your screen at anytime. Having not seen the film as yet I am curious as to how it approaches this recent phenomenon and how it impacts on our society.

To finish off today and to propagate today’s themes of sex and debauchery here are the Gun Club with a charming little ditty called Sex Beat perfectly synchronised with a clever visual assemblage that no-one should feel the need to complain about if they have even but just one rock and roll bone left in their body.

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    • Lorna Barry Hofstetter
    • January 13th, 2012

    Hey I just love your point of view, and Im so gratefull to have known you while I was growing up. You helped to make me who I am. Thank you!!! xxxxxxxx

    • peter miller
    • January 14th, 2012

    Really enjoyed that wee read this week.

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