Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Instant Gratification

I couldn't have two posts in a row referring to the disgraceful behvaiour of people and their televisual experiences so, here's post number two of the day, all about my favourite ever reality show (for the good reasons, not the 'it's so bad it's funny' reasons I went for with 'rock of love' below) 'BEAUTY AND THE GEEK'.

Of all those standard format shows 'Average Joe' and 'Joe Millionaire'?, the 'Age of Love' and the rest 'Beauty and the Geek' is a piece of highly commendable genius.

The US version is back for a fourth series whilst sadly it's british counterpart has stagnated at one, albeit quite beautiful, series a few years ago. (I will never forget the blossoming relationship, a kind so unheard of in our daily media experience, the kind between an unattractive man and a beautiful woman...actually...wait! I'll go into that later...)

The first episode, which began a few weeks ago, displayed the auditioning process not hiding our final 18 from the shame and embarassment. Men who have no love life and women who answer the question of 'who won the civil war?' with 'we did, we win everything'. There's an adorable professional 'Betty Boop', an aspiring playboy model, cocktail waitress and a babysitter. In the geek court there's a guy who got a 5.0 at MIT (?), an astrophysicist (probably), a who who enjoys 'LARP'ing' (Live Action Role Playing', and a software engineer. All typical components of the Beauty and the Geek sphere.

Yet, this time there's a brilliant and fascinating twist! Not only did the individuals NOT get to pick their own partners (this was decided by the most socially inept geek and the stupidest beauty following their first challenge), but, a tenth couple was introduced. That tenth couple is different, the formula changed by one variable. The beauty is a man and the geek, a woman.

This, is what I've been waiting to see, as much as I'll always adore the Beauty and the Geek format at it's most basic and heart warming, the addition of this gender-bent team will give a fascinating insight into whether this show could ever work in the opposite format. I am in no doubt that there is no shortage of male beauties and female geeks. However, how would it really work?

Instantly, in episode three, the male beauty is a freakish looking, possibly steroid-fuelled arrogant tosser. His eyes and head dart about like a pidgeon on alert and all he can talk about is how he's going to give those girls what they need. I'm not entirely sure they require anything from a man more cartoon-like than Jonny Bravo, but then that's me.

The openness of both beauties and geeks to learn and be taught in this series is quite clear. With the emphasis on personal development and progress throwing this spanner in the works, neither one of the new team has anything to say about their growth, they talk about the game, winning and the fact that they could be a potential target.

What will they gain from this experience as the lone swapped couple? If they were to do a series with a full line up of male beauties and female geeks will it be as touching? Will the men be sensitive and open to the geeks or will they barely want to know? Where the women clap and giggle at Tony's bow-tie, will men be moved by white cotton ankle socks? Something tells me it would never work and the idea that women, however beautiful are more likely to warm to a man who may be less attractive than her because of his brains (or indeed his money) remains. Whether it's because they just want the money or because they truly are the fairer sex, the opposite situation doesn't appear to meet the public eye. Is this because it never happens? Or does it say something both about men and women that doesn't adhere to the agreed standards set by society? Can a successful women have fun with a toyboy? Will she be shunned when a man is celebrated?

So far, the male beauty comes across disgustingly badly, perhaps because we're never presented with such a vacuous and idiotic male as he (except maybe, Jonny Bravo, but he's a cartoon, and perhaps Joey from 'Friends' but he had a sensitive side). This guy puts himself across, from what I've seen so far, as pure macho evil.

Definitely a required addition to the otherwise brilliant format but whether they make it very far or not, it's always going to brilliant, and this year it looks like the girls could well give the boys a run for their money in the comedy department.

Advertising Standards? What?

THIS is probably the most ridiculous news story I've ever read.

The story refers to a mayonaise advert. As I began reading it I wasn't sure if I'd seen the ad before, I couldn't even tell if it had been made in this country. The distinction of it as a 'men sharing a kiss' completely threw me. Even I felt shocked, though mostly impressed. I thought to myself, wow, what progress, what a campaign, how was it used? Was it a natural, home situation style ad which used a gay couple instead of a straight one?

No, is the answer to that. Not at all. I had seen this advert and never in my life would I have considered it, or recalled it as two men kissing, because of the set up of the ad. The article, excrutiatingly objective as it was got me so outraged I stopped reading and began writing this. Thankfully, I see they put forward the full synopsis but, why not tell the story like it is? These people who complained, who were offended, who protested that: "the ad was "unsuitable to be seen by children" and that it raised the difficult problem of parents having to discuss the issue of same-sex relationships with younger viewers" are utterly repressed, buttoned-up morons.

WHAT PROBLEM? I'm certain that there are PG comedy films with two men in hilarious predicaments due to mistaken identity, I can't think of an example, but I'm sure anyone can imagine a scenario. I've got 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' in my head, which I'm sure I saw as a young child (thought I can't be sure of its rating), whereby John Candy and Steve Martin are forced to sleep in the same bed and end up spooning by the morning. This is all for the sake of light entertainment.

The situation in the advert is hardly different, if a child was paying any attention I'm sure they'd have got the jist of it. A man in an apron is making the kids lunches, he's a big New Yorker, alluding to the fact that he might run a Deli. Queue the kids, taking their lunches in which he has used this 'Deli-style' mayonaise. THEY CALL HIM 'MUM'. They all, quite clearly do this so as to make the representation crystal clear. The use of situation comedy comes with the classic line as the husband goes to leave: 'aren't you forgetting something' with a gesture to the lips. This isn't an unrecognisable scenario to any of today's media-junkie youth. There is no need to explain the possibilities of same-sex relationships because it quite clearly isn't advocating any.

I just can't believe I continue to be surprised by the British public's pathetic reaction to just about anything. I'm sure the majority of people would not have batted any eyelid, would never have seen it as a 'gay kiss' and would have laughed, because it's a funny advert. And what of it, if there was the representation of a gay relationship on a British advertisement people ought to welcome it. Children should be informed early, just as they're informed about anything else. It is undeniable that homosexuality exists.

Our society, I thought, was finally beginning to accept it, but it's not good enough. The media is constantly bombarding us with homogenised images, heterosexual relationships, families and the like. It may well be that heterosexuality does represent the majority of people but there are instances in advertising where a better representation of the general population could well be addressed. For example, Wrigley's 'Extra', their current 'get closer' campaign, both as a regular ad and a Hollyoaks sponsor, involves various young, beautiful heterosexuals, 'getting closer' to each other. In an ad, you see numerous people getting together, in a big room, why not shove in some same-sex couples in the pack. Out of all those people, in that enormous room, are you telling me that not one of them is gay? Or even curious? I find that hard to believe.

This truly needs to stop now, the sooner they just let it out into the open, the sooner they won't think children need protecting anymore. You can't stop them from seeing it in the street can you? This is real and this happens and I daresay there is nothing wrong with it. People continue to make it wrong, make it outrageous and offensive. Why not call all pre-watershed bouts of affection offensive? Because I'd say it is, why ban one kiss when you can ban them all? Let's be completely oppressed, let's ensure that no women are ever seen with men unless they're married, oh and let's just mark out a strict 'zone' surrounding each indiviudal whereby no two people can cross.

I don't even know why I've gone on to discussing geniune gay relationships or kissing in the first place, because frankly this advert doesn't warrant that discussion, it has nothing to do with homosexuality at all. It's so separate from that that I'm actually outraged at myself for daring put the two together.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Tech Telly

Bobbie Johnson does a technology blog for The Guardian. A few days ago he posted a pointless piece called 'What do you call yours?' though the study of British 'kitchen table lingo' is quite interesting I am concerned at the reality of the comments which follow the post.

I remember a girl at school calling the remote a 'channel changer' which I found particularly absurd in that it takes so much longer to say. The need for the remote is inherently lazy so why the hell bother giving it a longer name, a whole duo-syllabic word longer!

According to one comment on the page: "Anyone who calls it "the remote" is bourgeois, not to mention boring. End of"

I'm sorry, I didn't realise that using the given word in the English language for an object is suddenly so passe. I mean goodness, I'm surprised that whole piece wasn't written in slang for only the filthy proletariat to hear.

Not to mention someone who proclaims to call it the 'MEGATRON!'. Well, I like the use of describing a device associated with the television using a term that you gained from watching it but I simply don't believe it. I'm sure you wanted to tape together all your remotes the very second you saw it but I can only assume this never happened and as much as you thought about using the word MEGATRON, and you may have even used it straight after Peep Show ended that night to see what else was on. But you definitely never used that term again.

A similar cry goes out to the person who decided it was a 'Ramone' blatantly came up with that one and decided to post a comment in reponse without ever having used it.

Zapper, clicker, presser, buttons are just about understandable and I suppose the proletariat need some sort of entertainment so playing with language to suit their working class needs will have to do, but Frank?! Which by the way I didn't get when I read it and had to read the comments for clarification. I get it now, but I'm yet to believe it. Unless you actively use rhyming slang in your daily life I just don't think this applies.

Clearly, it's a remote, or, when you're lost for words, the thing, or it could even go unnamed...'where's the....?' if you're sat in the lounge and a programme's just ended, everyone knows what you're talking about anyway.

Incidently, I am glad someone made the comment that: "denying us all access to our very modern TV system which itself no longer has any buttons of its own." an incredibly annoying situation because most of our remotes have been lost for good.

Still all that being said, it is a really entertaining discussion, especially when people get ansy about the very fact that there is even a discussion of this nature. I like it, it's a debate!

It's Summer Heights High

Strictly speaking, the way I was introduced to this was not on telly. For a moment there it was like being one of those morons that proclaims they don't watch TV but have all the special edition DVD's of the Mighty Boosh and Garth Morenghi's Dark Place. My Australian friend stuck it in my face quoting all the best lines so naturally I was intrigued.

Now, I'm finally allowed to discuss it because last night I spotted that episode 2 was on BBC Three. This was lucky as I'd seen episode 1 but the DVD started skipping on episode 2. Another win for TV.

It's a mockumentary based around three central characters all played by the same hilarious individual. A drama queen, drama teacher; an 'islander' deliquent kid; and a bratty posh girl who is involved in an exchange programme between private and public schools.

In this episode the drama teacher Mr. G (he thinks calling himself this makes him cool to the kids) gets to be acting head of drama because the real one's going to be off school for a while. This he takes as his queue for all around dramatic destruction. He insists on being referred to as 'Director of Performing Arts' and forces music teachers and the like to take his lessons for him because he's so excessively busy being 'Director of Performing Arts'.

Jona, the bad kid from the wrong island, gets up to all sorts of mischief that doesn't deserve my reeling it off in an utterly un-comic manner. He's the most quotable, if you can do the voice, and his attempt at breakdancing deserves at least an attempt at imitation, just for the fun of it. He can't read and he doesn't want to, he hates school, he's disruptive and the equally comedy teachers have to deal with it.
This is another tick for Australia; a mockumentary style and the ability to play various characters is akin to the genius of Christopher Guest and though perhaps it's not quite that brilliant (let's face it, that's a pretty steep ladder to climb), it certainly warrants favouritism above a lot of the comedy that's appearing on television. In fact, I can't really remember the last time I truly enjoyed a new comedy except for 'Flight of the Conchords'. Currently, it seems like it's all about the southern hemisphere, the british have no chance unless Matt Berry bites back with an equally dark but painfully comic series of 'Snuff Box'.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Alternative Reality

If you think Big Brother simply isn't trashy enough, if you think the stark mix of controversially placed contestants like blind people and albinos and muslims is all front with no substance then look no further than TMF. The channel that brings you the likes of 'Rad Girls' - the 'sexy' answer to Jackass has come up top for 10pm on a Monday evening. The antidote to Big Brother is here, or rather than necessarily curbing your addictions it only serves to make them much much worse, consider it the morphine to your heroin.

If you were as into watching brainless destructive television as me and my flatmate were last year, then you might know of a little gem called 'Flavor of Love' VH1's televisual masterpiece and arguably one of the best contributions to sucky American reality TV EVER. Goldie ruled the hardest, listen out for her chicken comment - gold is her name, comedy gold is her game.

Rock of Love is the exact same format except it involves former Poison front man Bret Michaels, the backstage passes he gives out don't quite match up to Flava's oversized clock pendents and I'm yet to see anything as disgustingly ridiculous as appears on the above clip. Still all the girls in spite of their tattoo's, piercings and hair dye are still decidedly bitchy and manipulative and poor old Bret has to try and be the diplomat in between having some alone time with a snitching back-stabbing girl. Some of them are 'star-fuckers' others say they're the real deal. It's a total lose for feminism I know but my goodness it's hilarious. I just can't believe each show has had two series, what do they do with the girls? I thought it was meant to turn into a real relationship man.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Halifax Advert

Now it goes without comment that the Halifax adverts with that incessant man and his singing cronies are among the worst ever created. The fact that he's got a waxwork at Madam Toussauds says more about the sheer idiocy of this country and the individuals who are celebrated than the advertising industry's ability to provide us with decent, non-flicking, non-toilet breaking, non-tea making commercials for our viewing pleasure. I mean I don't expect Guiness-style epic spectaculars from a simple bank like Halifax but please, would you stop covering well-known, usually god-awful, pop songs and changing the lyrics in order to make them about loans or savings accounts.

The only advert that was worth saving was pre-annoying man whose name I'm glad to say, I have completely forgotten. It involved a jolly chubby fellow who sang 'Who Gives You Extra' (instead of 'Who Let the Dogs Out' and, though still ridiculous it had it's own slice of perfection with his brilliant momentary wiggle at the end.

Now, that was way back in the early part of this millennium. Now, unfortunately, we've been subjected to more and more and more songs, more idiots singing idiotic songs and the only form of progression is trying to surpass every expectation by choose the most annoying song and creating the most annoying advert. It's got candles being waved around, a deeply disturbing 'Titanic' moment and it lasts far far too long as far as adverts tend to go.

Why is it that the best ones get cut short really quickly and the worst seem to get longer instead?