The awards season is now upon us and whether you like it or not, at some point you are going to come across the stars of the silver screen, strutting their stuff along that sacred red carpet. Despite the fact that these people are mere mortals, they will be fawned upon by an army of sycophantic reporters who will enthusiastically tell the men how wonderful they look in their Armani Tux’s whilst joyfully expressing in their humble opinion, the ladies have made a peerless choice in selecting their Dolce and Gabbana, Dior or Stella McCartney outfit making them look more radiant than any other star could possibly look. They will then proceed to ask these so called stars a series of questions that clearly identifies these people of having the basic intelligence of five year old.
The theme of this year’s events is black, in defiance of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, whilst no one can condone the actions of the evil Weinstein; I think it is going to take a lot more than someone wearing a little black dress to get on the man on the street to understand or be bothered about the shenanigans that go on in Hollywood. The black dress may make a statement but for how long? These “stars” will eventually return to their gilded cage and life will go back to the way it was and will be, because this game is all about the money and nothing else.
I really don’t know what I make of these “stars” anymore; while not actually watching the show, I caught a taste of this self-indulgence at the BAFA’S event recently held at the Royal Albert Hall. This gut wrenching, stomach churning occasion left me totally bewildered, these people are so far removed from reality it is unbelievable, catching Gary Oldman’s acceptance speech for best actor, I got the impression that Gary Oldman genuinely believed he is Winston Churchill.
Like most people I enjoy a good movie, but these types of events really should have no place in modern society, there are a lot important issues out there than a bunch of overpaid luvvies air kissing each other and generally brownnosing anybody that can get them on the next rung of the ladder. The little black dress may have made a statement but the power brokers in Hollywood and the stars that serve them really couldn’t care less all they care about is who is going to make them their next buck.
I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for the acclaimed Scottish political commentator Andrew Marr, for some unfathomable reason he appears to have the ability to make politics slightly interesting, making his Sunday morning programme The Andrew Marr Show highly watchable. However, where he really excels is in producing political history programmes like The Making of Modern Britain, which was produced in 2009 and is currently being repeated on BBC 4, I firmly believe that programmes like these should be made compulsory for any child slightly interested in 20th century history and the social upheaval that came with it. Although I like to think that I had a good understanding of the events of that century I never have really understood how the early part of the century were dominated by country house politics. The sun may never have set on the British empire that particular time but at home the country was ran by upper and middle grandees who cared little for the working classes, the allowed them (and allowed is the right word) to receive a pittance of a wage whilst the led a life of squalor and deprivation, Thatcher may have banged on about benefits of Victorian and Edwardian values which is fine if you’re a Tory but not if you were working class, Marr dazzlingly captures the mood of the time and how the working man was no longer willing to doff his cap, women also wanted recognition craving the right to vote and organised a campaign led by the very aggressive suffragette movement. Reform was slowly coming and the Tories were fighting hard to resist, but the beauty of the series that it not only about politics and this where Marr’s series brilliantly succeeds, he manages to effortlessly intertwine the politics of the time with advances in technology, covering everything from aviation to the cinema and that before he even begins to talk about futility of war. Britain and the working man and woman have come a long way from slums and grime that they forced to live in, like any working class man The Frozen Northerner has never forgotten where he has come from, the only difference is that Andrew Marr explains it much better.
It has been quite a while since I talked about anything on TV, this is mainly because I haven’t watched anything that I feel is worthy of discussing. However a couple weeks ago I stumbled across a programme that caught my imagination to such an extent that I spent last weekend watching six episodes one after the other. Now I know that this type of practice is normal for people obsessed with box sets, (my youngest son and Game of Thrones for example) but not for me, so why am I so enamoured with Mr Robot? This programme has become compulsive viewing for the frozen northerner, with each episode more riveting than the last, the show’s revolves around a computer engineer called Elliott Anderson (played by Rami Malek) who lives an insecure, lonely life. Anderson is unable to fit into normal society and is only is ever happy (if happy is the right word) when he is sitting in front of his computer in his dismal little apartment, hacking into other people’s computers trying to expose immoral characters from all walks of life. Looking at series in the cold light of day I suppose you could say the programme is your typical good versus evil story with Anderson trying to save the world from the corruption and depravity that he sees on a daily basis. Anderson is a tortured soul and what draws me to our hero/antihero is that I feel his pain I feel his anxiety and I feel his depression, I watch his daily struggle to deal with the everyday world, wondering if he is going to implode or is he going to make it home to find solace on his shabby little couch feeding his ever increasing methadone habit, the more he slides into the dark abysses of his anxiety the more can identify with him. this is a very accomplished piece of work by Sam Esmail about the world that computer hackers live in and at times it seems somewhat surreal. Remarkably I haven’t talked about anybody else in the programme, the plot or Mr Robot himself (Cristian Slater) and that is because when Rami Malek is on the screen he tends to dominate the proceedings (although Martin Wallstrom’s character Tyrell Wellick is fairly interesting), dare to gaze upon Anderson’s face, devoid of any feeling or emotions and tell me you are not hypnotized by his performance, this is the best TV show I have seen in ages, because nobody can take me to the depths of despair quite like Elliot Anderson.
The recent death of Peter Dimmock has brought home to me just how far the BBC has fallen behind sky when it comes to presenting sport. Dimmock was a man of vision and was perhaps the first man in this country to seen the potential of televised sport. This was a time when the beeb reigned supreme, they covered all types of sport and delivered it better than anybody else in the world. Dimmock was the first presenter of the first programme totally dedicated to sport in the shape of Sportsview, a show that would have a profound effect on me and was probably the place where my addiction to sport really started to kick in. Sportsview showed sport not only from home but also from around Europe and sometimes events from even further afield. For a young child it was awe inspiring stuff, my parents realised too late, that this exposure to sport had opened up Pandora’s Box and no matter what they did the lid was never going to be put back on. I was smitten and a total lost cause, any hope of me achieving any kind of academic success quickly disappearing leaving my parents rather distraught to say the least. By the end of the 60’s the Corporation pretty much had it all, with regards to sports and were now at the forefront of any major sporting event, covering each occasion brilliantly by using the best commentators to describe and set the scene. Wolstenholme on football, Coleman on athletics, O’Sullivan on horse racing, Carpenter on boxing, the list was endless and these guys were peerless at their job. Even some of the younger guys that came along were good with people like, Lynham, Motson and Davies easily blending in. Who was the best I have no idea these guys were all so good at their job, but Motson’s commentary on the 1984 European championship semi-final between France and Portugal probably stands out for me, here was a man at the peak of his game totally unable to control himself during the extra time period. At this particular game he is not a commentator, he is just a fan revealing his passion and that is what made all these men so great, they weren’t just commentators they were also fans of their sport. The decision made a few years ago by the BBC to pursue different aspects of television led to the company dramatically cutting back it sports programme, has led to Sky Sports becoming the voice of sport. It has to be said that Sky does it very well and has some good commentators and pundits, although none of them would get a job at the BBC in its sporting heyday. I still love and watch any type of sport, but modern day commentators are just a bit too sugary for my taste, they are all about the money they can make and have no real feeling about the sport they are covering, which is why I long for the days of Coleman and co, those guys really cared.
I have decided to cancel my Sky subscription paying £75 is just not worth it and I am surprised that it has took me so long to realise it. Nobody in their right mind can surely be satisfied by what they are getting from Mr Murdoch. I mean come on, this commercial venture of his has gone on long enough and somebody has to tell it the way it is. The package I currently have involves none of the movie channels and is mainly based on the sports package, which has been severely undermined by the loss of the champions league to BT. So which channels will I really miss, well apart from Sky Sports, pretty much none, what you are currently getting is countless rerun after rerun of series that I can quote chapter and verse at any given moment. How many times can you watch Friends, Frasier, MasterChef, Blue Bloods, Only Fools and Horses, I mean the list is endless and getting longer, added to this any commercial break is now taking anywhere up to five minutes by which time I given up caring. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some truly memorable programmes such as True Detective, Boardwalk Empire to name two but even these shows have been shown to saturation point. As for Sky Sports this has now become a complete joke I don’t want Nick Collins telling me what Wayne Rooney had for breakfast at St Georges’ Park 3 days before another meaningless friendly against some nation who we will struggle to beat. Even if I miss the breakfast special there is always lunch and dinner to catch up on, when there is actually nothing going on at all. Sky Sports is not about the match or event any more, it is about analysis and more analysis, for God’s sake shut up and lets us watch the spectacle. Am I turning into Victor Meldrew hopefully not, but let’s be frank here, Sky TV is the biggest rip off of all time and in most cases people are quite happy to let them do it.