Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Grumpy Redux

I watched 'Grumpy Old Men' the other night - for the first time since my rant, and I'm sad to say that, if anything, the situation has deteriorated. The 'grumpies' were busy complaining that they are now more famous for their appearances on the whinge-a-thon than they are for whatever else it was made them semi-famous in the first place. You may imagine my eyes boggling somewhat at this point, as I tried to process the fact that these men were trying to enlist my sympathy. This, I take it, is deified grumbling being given a postmodern edge, Grumbling 2.0 as it were. You see, expressing their annoyances has created a whole host of annoyances in itself!

Now, to most other people, this could be written off as Sod's Law, or as the price you have to pay for being indulged in the narcissistic fantasy that the programme constructs around its contributors. However, this is a programme on its last legs, with an ever-dwindling number of contributors, and the BBC is trying to drain the last milk out of the udders of this erstwhile cash cow, so there are no boundaries left to observe, no point at which a producer would step from behind the camera and say, 'hold on, do we really imagine anyone cares about this any more?'

The problem is it attempts to recast middle-aged men in the role of victim, but since its contributors are presumably comfortably off and living a life that must seem fortunate, if not glamorous, to many of the programme's potential viewers, it cannot help but seem like a trivial exercise in empty narcissistic self-indulgence. In Nick Hornby's 'How To Be Good', the protagonist's husband is a local newspaper opinion columnist entitled 'The Angriest Man In Holloway' or some such. Lacking much in the way of material deprivation to bemoan, and being rather shallow and self-centred, his columns complain most frequently about such trivialities as the small tubs of ice cream that you get in the interval at the theatre. He pours out invective far beyond proportion to the (mostly imagined) offence, and as a result, Hornby suggests, becomes a vain, empty, cynical shell of a man. Such, it would seem, is the fate of the 'grumpies', searching ever lower in the unwritten rules and roles of modern British life to find untapped material.

For I could almost forgiven the programme its cynicism and its relentless negativity if it weren't for its banality. This angered me previously:

'The programme cleverly frames its arguments in such a way that if you only half watch it, you find yourself vacantly nodding in agreement, but in reality their arguments don't stand a moments consideration. For instance, they spent five minutes going on about what a 'con' bottled water is. All of them admitted to buying it. Here's a radical idea - instead of whining, why don't you just stop buying it?'

Yet if bottled water was bad, the edition that aired last night, which I will charitably assume has been screened before, reached so far into the barrel of cliche that they complained about peoples enthusiasm for Tim Henman, and Wimbledon devotees' apparently counter-intuitive willingness to cheer on 'Tiger Tim' despite the fact that he loses (used to lose) in the quarter or semi finals every year. This is such a frequently repeated meme in popular culture that it was passe even before it became irrelevant (Andy Murray is now the crowd-drawer at Wimbledon). There is simply no way in which observations on this subject can be presented as new or fresh, and wholly unsurprisingly, these banalities disguise the cynical negativism of attitudes that Britain must always be an also-ran in sporting events. I couldn't care less about rugby, but you never heard the 'grumpies' praise England's win the rugby World Cup - of course not, because the very title of the programme insists that every utterance must be negative, must be accusatory.

There was one other grumble I saw before my friend switched the channel in disgust - the 'grumpies' complained that the liquid that comes out of coffee-machines tastes the same no matter what button you press. Those with even a faint recollection of the works of Douglas Adams will recall that he made a similar observation in 'The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy', which entered the public domain 29 years ago. Typically, Adams fictionalised observations are a million times more humorous, as Arthur Dent is forced to explain to the alien drinks machine that refuses to give him a decent cup of tea, all about Ceylon, the East India Company, the British empire, tea on the lawn and so forth. Dent's exchange with the machine is one of the highlights of the novel, a microcosm of the bureaucratic obstructionism that is the novels key theme. Contrast that with some playwright I'd never heard of saying that he thought these cups of tea might be made of cat-shit. Arf Arf.

Somebody, please put this lame programme out of its misery.

Chers Steve. An excellent read.
Stop using the postfix "2.0". End it now! There is no difference beteween the internet and the internet 2.0 except for the guy who coined the phrase who made a fuck load of money. It means absolutely nothing! Its the same as calling a person with a bit more hair John 2.0.
Boycott the phrase now and next time a person says it give them a kick 2.0 (2 kicks) in the face 2.0 (testicles) with your boot 2.0 (cricket bat).
how do you kick someone with a cricket bat? twice?
that is illogical 2.0
Caught the last five minutes of Grumpies On Holiday. Talk about taking one step too far.

The first series had a kind of interesting whimsy, but this latest cadaver had DOA stamped all over its toe-tag.

For a moment i thought you were talking about Mathau and Lemmon. (sp?)

As for the topics, I reread that bit in the Hitchhikers Guide. That machine listened so patiently, and tried so hard.... I wonder if the matter replicators on Star Trek are as incompetent.

As for the bottled water thing, Penn and Teller's "Bullshit" series devoted an hour to that particular "con." But at least Penn and Teller weren't drinkin' it at the time.
grumps on foof and wind was awesome tonight. i gonorohoealy dont cunt understand y u is a hater?
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