Friday, March 30, 2007

Mummy's War (29/3/07)

Friends and I harbour such a deep desire for Thatcher to pop her clogs, that if she happens to pop up on the TV screen whilst the sound is turned down, we all look at each other with an almost hysterical glee. "Is she dead? Is she dead?", we exclaim, not even trying to conceal the laughter in our voices. But no, usually she's just been down to Portsmouth to open a Tescos or something, and we have to dampen down the excitement again, keep a lid on it till another time. I should feel bad; I know that the image which comes from the screen is of an old frail lady. And then I remember growing up in the '80s. I remember the Brixton riots, the Miners' strike, the Falklands war. I remember her systematic economic disenfranchisement of single mothers and her criminalisation of the least privileged members of society. I remember the latent violence, ennui and ill-will that undersored British life, and then I don't feel so bad. Then I know that there will probably be spontaneous street parties when the happy news is announced. Down my street at any rate.

Any feeling I have must be intensified a thousand fold - it is almost idiotic to say - by those mothers who lost their sons on the Belgrano. In C4's Mummy's War, Carol Thatcher faced off with these women last night. It was repugnant to watch, as if she had summoned the ghost of her mother's wilfully blind statesmanship to ward off their pain and misery. "It was a war, we shot at you, you shot at us," she explained, as if to the subnormal. "But what about the 200 mile exclusion zone?", they asked, desperate to find something on which to hang the meaningless loss of their children. But there were no answers here; no reasoning profound enough to illuminate how a fellow mother could become the feminine face of destruction; just a retreat into the middle-class values of common-sense and fair-play. "Well, you started it," said C-Thatch. Gone were the almost manic facial expressions of the boarding-school girl whose exeat has been cancelled because her gym slip was dirty; they were replaced by the anonymous, timeless mask of self-righteous stupidity. And yet the language was the same - you started it, whoever smelt it dealt it. Funny how politicians and their ilk (in which I include Maggie's daughter) are reduced to the language of the playground to express something as huge, as horrific, as grown-up, as war. War for goodness sake - violation, rape, murder, trauma, displacement. "You started it". Well, I hope we're all very happy in Great Britain, knowing that the Malvinas are safely under our sovereignty. It certainly helped me to sleep a little easier last night.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Apprentice (28/3/07)

Alan Sugar returned to our screens yesterday, looking a little less like "Mrs Tiggywinkle" (as Charlie Brooker noted in Screenburn last year) after alleged plastic surgery to make him more telegenic. Difficult to make judgments on the contestants yet because no-one was as obviously selected for their personality disorders as series 2; no-one as insane as Jo or as contemptible as Syed. Slightly intrigued by Gerri, or perhaps more accurately, mildly frightened of her. She has that quality of shrewdness which would no doubt lead her to sell her own ovaries to please Sir Alan.

With the personalities of the current contestants on standby, I mourned the fact that the Celebrity Comic Relief version wasn't a full series. I was so looking forward to seeing the despicable Alistair Campbell get his comeuppance, or Cheryl Tweedy exposing what a nasty little turd she really is. Also found myself comparing the UK version to the US Apprentice with Donald Trump. Trump trumps Sugar every time. For a start, there's an actual bona fide job for the 'apprentice' at the end of the series; they aren't likely to get offloaded just because they got up the duff a la Michelle Dewberry, or be reduced to selling anti-wrinkle cream on the internet under the aegis of Amstrad, like Tim Campbell (who, as of 21/3/2007, has left the company). And then there's the 'boardrooms': Trump's all dark oak and gentlemen's club, Sugar's - as a friend noted last night - looking as if it's "filmed round the back of Sainsburys". Sugar has all the bluster of the wide-boy-made-good but this masks his latter-day failure as a businessman. He pales next to Trump; could never be as iconic, could never have a comb-over so unrelentingly bouffant. And no amount of plastic surgery is going to make up that difference.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Show me the burger (27/3/07)

Sorry about long fell apart and had to reconstitute it, so sorry about that. Back now though! And what a long winter it has been in the land of telly. I was going to make a come-back with a critique of CBB5 but seeing as every two-bit hack under the sun had their say after the whole Anglo-Indian international incident, I didn't bother. For the record though, despite the recuperation of the whole debacle at the moment, it WAS racism. And seemingly no-one except DK and I saw the utter stupidity which motivates Jade's existence in her demonstration of her range of accents to H a couple of days after entering the house*. One of these being her "African" accent - you know, that well known nation in which everyone has the same accent, and 'they' say things like, "Keep your evil eye away from me"? Twat. The others? Jamaican and Irish. Quick, someone get her in the West-End, quick!

The thing that's yanking my chain at the moment is not so much the casual racism as the casual misogyny on telly; the main purveyors, of course, being those hellbound advertisers. It's too obvious to mention Carlsberg and Lynx; those ads are just a hangover from laddism. But laddism is coming back with full force even as we speak. Consider the ad for 'Rustlers' - a burger microwaveable in 60 seconds, which, as a result, could only only be marketed at men. 'If only women were that easy to prepare' - imagines the ad - showing the viewers a bespectacled, covered-up, nervous female entering a bloke's flat (prissy bitch). As the burger revolves inside the microwave, the action is mirrored by the sofa which turns to reveal....wait a minute, what's that?...the same woman with no glasses and sexy black lingerie on! 'YES!!!' screams the advert, 'Let's cut through the crap, lady. The talking, the bonding, the terrifying spectre of emotional attachment. Get your facking kit off, bird!'. Nice, huh? I'm going to keep my eye on this one. The return of the lad in the ad. Very annoying INDEED.

*Ignorance doesn't excuse racism, by the way, it just explains it.