Sunday, 14 August 2011

more pontificating on the riots

I'm so enamoured of yet another of my comments (in a debate with another commenter in a thread on David Starkey's remarks) that I'm going to quote myself a third time. Here it is:

people have been trying to make much of links between the looting and banks, MPs expenses etc. I have to say this link is extremely tenuous.
Bankers didn't just become selfish in the last 30 years. Capitalism is a kind of outlet for people's need for advancement/aspiration, which Guardian readers will classify as pure greed. It's always been there.
I think the mindset and the actions of looters smashing windows, and rioters confronting police, burning down businesses and homes, running over people who got in their way etc, is wholly different
And I'm sorry, but if women were anywhere NEAR 50% of those causing trouble, I'll be very surprised indeed. And we will see, shan't we, who the largest group of rioters were..
We still need to find out more about who all these criminals were (and hasn't everyone been quick to explain this with their pet political theory before we knew who was rioting?). But I still believe we need to address gang culture and the way boys are brought to maturity in this country.
The liberal left avoid this issue every time it comes up. They are so obsessed with their very dubious ideas world that they are in danger of letting down a whole generation of young men who are becoming more criminal, more suicidal, less successful in education etcetc
I do think that our collective opinions of politicians, the rich, and journalists has taken a battering. It could well be part of the attitude towards authority that led to this. But only part. People who want to say it is the whole problem are just too enamoured of their Guardian-inspired theories and not trying hard enough to look at things objectively.
re: The Apprentice - it does seem a rather different style of TV to the Generation game, I grant you! You need to stop oversimplifying things. The "selfishness" is part of changes to society that have come a long way since we did things "for King and country", and aren't easily undone. It will be a complex business trying to give this country a soul again, I wouldn't look for the answers in the Guardian or Mail or any other paper if I were you..."

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Why we should at least listen to David Starkey...

An expanded version of my comment on the biassedBbC website about David Starkey's comments on Newsnight yesterday (12th August 2011)

"David Starkey did phrase his comments in a slightly inflammatory way - he focused on one type of "Black Culture", and I guess he could have said Gang culture or referred to HipHop music without saying Black. He was trying to provoke debate, I guess.

He also was saying something that we don't face up to. Young boys in this country apparently don't see someone like Richard Branson as a role model, or Stephen Hawking or Andrew Wiles. Many seem to look to this gang/drugs/fighting culture as the only way of being a man. This culture celebrates the criminal. It is negative, violent, anti-education, anti-authority, and anti-British.

At the same time the Beeb, Guardian, and others have been so exercised trying to highlight how girls and women are achieving more and more that they have inadvertently sidelined boys and their future. I think it's uncontroversial that perceptions of gender roles have changed. By all means celebrate the successes of women, but I wonder if we've lost track of what we think masculinity should be.

Being a 'man' seems to have too many negative connotations to people these days. Yet all the men haven't gone away. They feel powerless and angry. I believe that this is one (just one!) cause of the riots and looting. We have let down a generation of boys, who have turned to violence. On both the left and the right people are angrily trying to blame the other side for the cultural mess that is behind the riots.

Starkey was interrupted at every sentence he tried to say. The interviewer didn't like what he was saying and didn't give him a chance to speak. Both the other interviewees seemed to be there to give different shades of views the Guardian might find acceptable."

Friday, 12 August 2011

Peter Oborne in the Telegraph - expenses misuse and rioting ?

Peter Oborne has written a passionate piece about the looters and saying, amongst other things, that he can find little ethical difference between the looters and the MPs implicated in the expense 'scandal'. I wrote the following comment which has been lost in 3000 others.

The article has attracted great popularity in Twitter, which is something of a leftist stronghold these days. Guardian readers have popped by to register their astonished delight. It's a good piece of work, but I don't really agree with it. Here is my comment:

"I don't agree at all that there is no ethical difference between rioters/looters, and the expenses fiasco. Guardian readers and tweeters love this piece - I don't

I think there was a feeling of "bending the rules" and "everyone's at it" for the MPs. Whereas the looters' and rioters actions contained a good deal of anarchic and personal malice, also disrespect for property, law, and the right to do business, disrespect for peace and order, and joyfully creating fear.

Also the mindset of the looters was quite different, this has all got to count for something.

I do agree that the atmosphere of sleaze and corruption with which the public now view politicians and journalists, due to many stories, and partly the expenses row, has led to some of the disrespect for the law, authority, and the 'establishment' that led to this criminality.

But many other things did too, the lack of good male role models (not just fathers, who have been legally discriminated against, but we havent given boys a way forward), knowledge that they wouldn't go to prison etcetc"

Monday, 8 August 2011

The fertilizer has hit the ventilation system...

Not the best day (or indeed year) in British history.Today was another day of riots in London, now spreading to Birmingham.

There's not much new to say, yet we all have to say something. We cannot stay quiet. It becomes fairly obvious that this isn't protest, it's stealing, and a failure of law and order.

See this stunning video, the man fearlessly out on the streets asking looters if they are proud, and the woman replying saying she's "getting her taxes back" (apparently our checks go to Currys, not HMRC)

It's impossible to sleep. I'm distraught at seeing what this country has become, from what I thought it could be. We used to have a culture, many of us believed in a particular way of life. But all that is being destroyed in front of our eyes, and for what?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A celebrity interviewer on celebrity interviewing

There was a wonderful piece in the Times newspaper on the 21st of July. It's reprinted here, and I thought was worthy of some note.

The article is more a controlled shout of rage than any sort of essay. It's written by someone who evidently made and still makes their crust conducting these types of interview, who needs an outlet to vent some job-dissatisfaction, under the pseudonym Victoria Smith. 

She is, it seems, sick and tired of the lack of spontanaeity and autonomy that her job has come to entail, one that either used to be more fun, or to which she looked forward to with intense excitement. 

That excitement has worn off, leaving a bleak viewpoint on stars and their world. 

"In a world of boundless PR power, where small, screechy women in Tinseltown office blocks decide exactly what will be written about their clients in UK newspapers, the star interview is .. a meaningless joke."

In movies like Notting Hill we get a view of what these interviews are like, but..

They don’t mention that personal publicists, direct from LA, often sit in on interviews, just behind your shoulder and in their client’s eye-line, waiting to pounce on any inappropriate question (ie, one that doesn’t begin with “So tell me Angelina, what was it like working with . . .”)

That reminds me of the stupifying boredom of watching the extra features in a DVD. Precious wasted hours of interviews with even the most talented of actors - mindful of keeping their career alive - saying how great it was to work with [insert famous director's first name]. This is what made the suggestion so entertaining that Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford did the most ordinary thing for two strong personalities to do - not get on very well, supposedly - when making the scifi masterpiece Blade Runner. 

When himself asked this (in an interview that didn't fit the stereotype given by last weeks Times article) Ford answered tactfully and with some common-sense that in any job you run into difficult working relationships. 

All true, and celebrities will be told by their publicists that they must show their 'best side'*, but they truly seem to be hiding their personalities in the process, hiding - you would think - the best and only thing they have in the world. But the film industry doesn't seem to work like that.

* see this gruesome news item and interview with Paris Hilton for a celebrity's worst nightmare, with some journos apparently out to get her.