Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Media Snapshots

On the radio the other day, BBC political analyst John Pienaar interviewed some Labour Party activists in Salford after Blair had handed over leadership of the party. He asked them about Blair's legacy. The first activist puffed up Blair's achievements, and then Pienaar butted in and chimed him for being partisan. Then he asked the second, and she responded by talking about Thatcher's failings. Pienaar again interrupted, asking her to be less partisan. I swtiched the radio off. At no point did it seem to occur to Mr Pienaar that there was something of an irony in a supposedly neutral political analyst questionning two party activists about a subject they clearly had an interest in being partisan about and then chiding them for not being neutral political analysts.

If all this politics is too much for you, you should try the news when politics isn't on it. Here's what was on the last fifteen minutes of Five's lunchtime news last Friday:

1) A viewer had sent in a homemade video clip of a downhill wheelchair race.
2) The 'news' was announced that a 'scientist' had announced that that day was the happiest day of the year. A wholly subjective equation was shown on screen, which even the presenter seemed embarrassed to be explaining. This was followed by a conversation with professional prankster Tony Hawks about how he stays happy. The interview had almost no relation to the 'news', although it did prove an opportune moment for both interviewer and guest to mention Hawks' books (which I've already read) and his participation in the (doubtless very worthy) 'Tennis for Free' charity campaign.
3) The news switched to an old standard - 'it's raining at Glastonbury!' An incredibly chirpy female reporter, who, hilariously, seemed to be actually high, reported from a slightly-muddy field, showed a five-second interview with an organiser in front of a drainage ditch, and spent the rest of the segment discussing which celebrities she'd met, how much fun she was having, and pulling her mac down over her face. It was actually quite amusing, though frankly I'm worried her bosses may have cringed a little.
4) The reporter turned to Daily Mail and Observer film critic Jason Solomons, and asked him about the three main releases of the week. He didn't like two of them, but did like 'La vie en rose', the Edith Piaf biography.

Amazing stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Of course, there's not always a lot of choice on the other channels. Browsing around today, I came upon a channel called 'the HITS', which is another music video channel. The segment was called 'The 20 Pioneers of Love', and the video was Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing'. I had no idea that Marvin Gaye invented romance. The video, which can be seen here, seemed almost laughably po-faced. In these post-Michel Gondry, post-ironic days, it usually seems that modern music videos have to be held at a creative distance from the songs subject matter. Consequently, a song about a sunny afternoon of contemplative love-making will usually feature badly-filmed, hyper-edited, colour-saturated footage of a riot in an old people's home, or a claymation video of a rat crawling through a drainpipe. By contrast, Gaye's video is from a simpler time. Halfway through, it switches to a made-up film called 'Midnight Love', in which the clearly perfectly-well Gaye is rushed to hospital in dire need of 'sexual healing', which appears to come about through his perving over a nurse with a plump rump, the ingestion of 'Midnight Love Potion' from a distinctly un-medicine looking blue bottle, and the use of a thermometer apparently borrowed from a 1970s sex comedy. I really don't know which I prefer.

Monday, June 11, 2007



I don't understand the fuss about the 2012 Olympic logo.

It's not that I think the logo is amazing, it's that I have no idea what a 'good' logo would look like. I am also prepared to speculate that if those complaining loudest about it now had been honestly polled a fortnight ago, they would have been fairly apathetic about the issue. The logo controversy is part of a wider problem in Britain - people feel passionately about the Olympics, both for and against hosting it, but because there was no debate about whether applying would be a good idea at the time the decision was made, totally irrelevant and unimportant decisions like how the logo should look become disproportionately important as people with a vested interest in doing so use them as a stick with which to beat the government. Maybe there is a good case for demand-revealing referenda here. Personally, I suspect the government is not so much guilty of 'bad logo' as 'bad press relations' - would anyone really have cared if the logo had just emerged, quietly and unannounced, on official literature, as a fait accompli, instead of being trumpeted as a major achievement on the evening news?

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