Reality TV’s Real Purpose

It has been a political hot potato for as long as people have been having children.  How the hell do you deal with the rotten oiks when they don’t listen nor do a bloody thing anyone else says.  Whether you try to be a fun-loving parent or a hip, cool and stylish teacher chances are those in the 13-19 year-old bracket will think you’re as uncool as… well maybe that’s the point I’m trying to make, I can’t even suggest anything that is cool, because these rascals will throw it back in my face!  Even if you try to be cool in front of them, they’ll just stab you, take your wallet and spend your money on getting dreadlocks!

Anyway, the point I think I’m trying to make is that there is a solution to these riotous ruffians, and it is something that I think will entertain both sides of this regatta of controversy.  I think my proposition should be taken up by government and sold to the rest of the world, with me as the Simon Cowell of the mix… But from the outset though this should only involve those ungovernable, lawless, vicious, those ‘gosh-darn-it’, crooked types.  Those kind who have received a sentence from Her Majesty’s most finest, should be clapped in irons and be forced to compete.  Those who abide by the law of the land have nothing to fear… yet!

‘Big Brother’s National Conscription’, yes, that’s another reality TV show and instead of getting them to sit around in an over-sized bedroom complaining about how someone else has called them a ‘bitch’, they compete against one other in the same predicament by completing several tasks not too dissimilar from what the real army folk do. Shit…! as I write this though I have suddenly remembered that there was  something like this called ‘Bad Lads Dad’s Army,’ so I am obligated to update my idea… So, you know the Japanese movie Battle Royale? where a class of students are forced into killing each other off, well lets bring that to the TV executive table.  Come on, there are much worse things on TV these days than a reality TV show about juvenile delinquents whose head could be blown off at any second… who’s seen True Blood?

So how would it work? If they committed a crime they serve out their sentence on the TV show, which of course will be shown live on E4, 24 hours a day.  Rather than costing the taxpayer money to keep them inside a prison for their duration, money will come in for advertisers, (prisoners could be made to sell different products too as part of their punishment. A kleptomaniac would be made to sell padlocks; a murderer – life insurance etc ).  They will train like soldiers, be treated like soldiers, and at a time when military spending is being reduced, it won’t cut into the defence budget because the revenue will come from advertisers.  It will teach those involved practical and linguistic skills as well as team skills, structure etc, and if they still misbehave their head gets blown off.  This could be an end of season finale where two souls get to battle it out to have their record cleared.

There could be one or two downsides, like seeing your son’s head pop off at any moment, but at least he would have gone out doing what all teenagers want to do, being on television displaying no discernible talent whatsoever.  Morals reasons… meh, society has done far worse things, like allow  taxpayer money (not mine, I live abroad!) to go to the Queen’s 60th jubilee celebrations.

Will this work, you bet your arse it wouldn’t because Britain is a (fairly) liberal society that (apparently) deplores sadistic violence, though the number of viewers of Sky News seem to rise year-on-year (honestly), but it could make a good movie, any takers?

Busan International Film Festival

(as published in Gwangju News Oct 2011)

The 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF, formally PIFF) is to commence from the 6th to the 14th of October. With over three hundred films to be showcased, this makes it the largest film festival on the continent. There is hope that this year’s event will surpass last year’s record-breaking jamboree. Film producers and directors from seventy countries around the world will present their work to an international throng of guests, critics and spectators. Visitors will be able to watch an assortment of movies from all four corners of the globe and to rub shoulders with first-time directors who will be exhibiting their world to a public that has seen its movie industry grow from strength to strength since the first festival back in 1996. The festival has now become one of the premier movie occasions on the Asian calendar. The success of last year’s event in which a total of 182, 046 people attended featuring a festival-best 153 premiers has seen tickets snapped up quickly as movie-goers look to get their hands on the best seat in the house.

For many decades there wasn’t much to write about in regards to an Asian movie scene. The Hollywood movies that flooded the silver-screens were what were popular and the Asian films were always considered somewhat baffling and frequentlt lacklustre. Additionally they would provide little revenue for their directors, their actors and their crew; it was difficult ever seeing this situation improve. At least that was the way most saw this scene.  But as audiences began to grow tired of the run-of-the-mill repetitive ‘box-office bonanzas’ and began to look for something that had a little more depth in its characters with a storyline that had more absorption than a wet sponge. Soon Hollywood directors and producers began getting inspiration and ideas from a plethora of distinctive and creative sources in the east. Eventually World cinema began to take-off.

 

With so many movies being shown at BIFF this October, it can be difficult to pick the crass from the classic, the banal from the brilliant and the trite from the terrific, but a few recommended by those ‘in the know’ include any of the screenings by Hong Kong writer, producer and director Yonfan. The special programme dedicated to his work will include A Certain Romance (1984), Double Fixation (1987), Promising Miss Bowie (1990), In Between (1994), Bishonen (1998), Peony Pavilion (2001), and Colour Blossoms (2004).

The opening movie Always (2011) by Korean director Song Il-gon tells of a love story between an ex-boxer and his partner. This slow unraveling story with sweeping long shots has made this an interesting choice for the opening slot with mixed reviews from across the board.

From Japan come a number of movies, but one in particular has been chosen to be the closing number.  Chronicle of My Mother by Masata Harada is a piece about a successful writer Kosaku Igami who takes in his ailing mother in when his father dies. After years of anger towards her for sending him away during his childhood he is suddenly forced into taking care of her and discovering the truth behind those earlier times.

The festival is renowned for exhibiting new work by directors from around Asia and one of its few awards that are handed out every year is the ‘New Current’ award. Often the winner of this award will go on to further success.  Last year’s The Journals of Musan, by Park Jung Bum went on to feature in movie theatres across parts of Western Europe and North America.  It told the story of a North Korean defector that struggled to find work in the South after fleeing. Nominees this year include; Choked by Kim Joong-hyun, a Korean movie; Damn Life by Japanese director Kitagawa Hitashi; Lost in Mountain by Chinese director Gao Zipeng and Return to Burma by Midi Z, which tells the story of a man who returns to his home country that has been closed off from the outside world and how he seeks to find a new life for himself while grappling with a society that hasn’t progressed. The government of Rangoon gave director unparalleled access to shoot in the country.

Being the biggest film festival in Asia has meant that the venues for the event has had to be updated and this festival will see the inaugural opening of the new Busan Cinema Centre in Centum City, near Haeundae. A nine-storey high building housing three screens seating 413 in the largest and 213 in the smaller two, plus another 4000-seater screen outside will put the audience into the action. This venue will be hosting the opening and closing celebrations of the event. The majority of the screenings will take place within the area with the Shinsegae Department store’s (the biggest store in the world…) CGV hosting a bountiful selection as well.

Tickets are moderately priced, starting at 6000won for a general seat, 8000won for a 3D movie (a film festival wouldn’t be the same now would it…?) 20,000won for the opening and closing pictures and the special ‘Midnight Passion,’ where you can watch three movies back-to-back for 10,000won. To pre-book your ticket using credit card you need to go to www.daum.net and for cash, visit the nearest Busan Bank. This is probably the simplest option.

 

By David Holt

 

There is a lot of information on the Official BIFF website at http://www.biff.kr/.

Other links include: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=740322

http://www.asianfilmmarket.org/structure/eng/default.asp

 

More articles by the writer visit: davidholt.wordpress.com

Follow on twitter at @DavidAndrewHolt

 

 

Put a Sock In It

Ryan Giggs

Image via Wikipedia

(published in Gwangju News – July)

http://issuu.com/gwangju_news/docs/july_2011-56p

page 34

British footballer Ryan Giggs, one of the finest footballers the UK has produced recently got harangued recently across the press for trying to cover up an alleged extra martial affair.

A ‘super-injunction’, a legal gagging order that not only prevents the media from reporting a story, but also blocking any attempts to mention that there is even an injunction in place, was brought out across all media.  The Manchester United’s winger reportedly paid vast sums of cash to money hungry lawyers to muzzle all newspapers, television and radio, plus any website in the UK public domain from mentioning anything.

Off the record journalists that had known for some time about famous celebrities who used their bloated bank accounts to fend off newspapers from delving into their lives became powerless to cover it.

You may ask who gives a damn about Z-list celebrities getting caught having sex at two in the morning and whether we, the public have a right to know about it.  You’re probably right, we don’t need to know about it, but that misses the point.  The super-injunction can do real damage for the public at large when stinky rich businesses do activities that unfairly attack or hinder the weak and uninformed then knowing block the free press from reporting anything about it.

Take Trafigura, back in 2009, the multi-national energy supplier brought out a super-injunction against the UK’s Guardian newspaper.  The paper had planned to report that the company was dumping vast quantities of toxic waste off the Ivory Coast.  But before it went to press Trafigura contacted Carter & Ruck, an aggressive, London based law firm and quickly danced off to the High Court to impose a blanket on the piece.  If the newspaper planned on releasing even a whiff of the story they would face drastic repercussions including imprisonment, seizure of assets and be made to watch ‘I’m America’s Next Top Toxic Barren’.

It looked like the British legal system, which has come under scrutiny for several years for being a honey pot for large corporations, with its libel and defamation laws would continue to help out the corporate heavyweights, but thanks to a bit of tradition and a bit of the new, the article did eventually come out.

Parliamentary Privilege, a UK law dating back hundreds of years gives an Member of Parliament (MP) the right to discuss any matter he considers in the public interest in the House of Commons and for that to be freely reported in the press.  MP Paul Farrelly used his privilege and spoke up about the injustice.  This plus as the Internet becomes a borderless horizon such whistle-blowing sites such as Twitter and WordPress.com, which are not governed by any restrictive ‘legal’ guidelines and therefore can write whatever the hell they like.  So with all their billions in the bank and thousands of lawyers on its books, heavy-handed institutions can be made to confess with just a strong minded government minister and one-hundred and forty words message.

(This was published in the July issue of Gwangju News, a magazine run by ex-patroits in Gwangju, South Korea

By David Holt

The Hope For British Newspapers

The News of the World, a newspaper with over 2.5m readers, has been part of the British way of life throughout its lifespan.  It has brought sleaze, titillation, filth and above all scandal to our Sunday mornings.  For almost a 150 years it has brought sleaze, scandal and outrage to people’s Sunday breakfast, but, as of the 10th of July 2011 the newspaper will end its publication over the phone-hacking scandal that has seen its advertisers run for the hills like a donkey from a Chinese abattoir.

The newspaper will see its doors close and its keys handed over to Scotland Yard who will begin to sift through all the databases and private emails, ledgers, documents and rubbish bins in the hope to bring to justice those who sort to illegally obtain information by listening to private voicemail messages.  From celebrities to members of the Royal Family, from victims of appalling crimes to soldiers of senseless wars. 

So the question is, where will people go now to get their fill of outrage.  Unlike America, which has the National Enquirer, a publication so bereft of facts and realism that it makes ‘Snow White’ look like the movie ‘Monster’ with Charlize Theron.  But in the UK a good percentage of people enjoy nothing more than reading about celebrities getting their fingers caught in another’s backside over their burnt toast.  Because while some of the facts were loosely fitted together at the best of times, we knew deep down that the stories did have some original content and more importantly, the sots who were the subject of the allegations were always people that came low down on people’s lists of popular persons, such as any footballer and/or pedophiliac pop star; Pakistani cricketers or Prince Harry.  Publicly we would openly condone these stories, saying: ‘You’d never catch me reading such twaddle,’ yada, yada, yada!  But privately we all flicked through those pages like a heroin addict with a crispy £20.

It is suggested that the News of the World is as British as fish ‘n’ chips or damp summers. And its true the British do like a good gossip, it is part of the ‘over-the-fence’ housewife culture that followed after the Second World War, when neighbours needed to be vigilant against ‘the common enemy.’  It is just an evolutionary path, but unfortunately the lines between heresy gossip and going through another’s private phone messages to get information have now been so ruined that the whole newspaper industry will have to be almost remodelled to stop such outrageous practices in the future.

On the larger scale too this affects every newspaper, especially those under the Murdoch ‘News Corp’ blanket, because with the Internet and social websites gaining more and more readers through blogs and other postings, this sort of scandal reiterates their belief that the industry is in rapid decline, when in fact it needs to be as creditable as possible, by not dealing in rumours and claptrap, but in hardened concrete facts and doing so in a manner that fits with a legal practice that doesn’t infringe on the well-being of others.  The public needs to be informed in almost educational way that encourages people to make decisions based on facts and hardened truths and not exaggerations.  Journalism is of paramount importance to Britain as we have some of the greatest freedom of press laws in the world, but just because they have the freedom does not mean that they should be free to do as they please.  Any industry that affects and relies on the public needs to be governed and monitored fairly and lawfully, with any that do not hold up such high ethical values should be relieved of their duties.  Newspapers need the honesty of Sir David Attenborough, the credibility of Sir Michael Parkinson with the leadership of Sir Winston Churchill.

Newspapers are a priority to the British media.  I implore you go and buy a few today.

Nick Clegg and the House of Lords Reform

The crowned portcullis, symbol of the Parliame...

Image via Wikipedia

Nick Clegg does not seem to be having the best of luck these days.  A month ago his AV referendum went up in smoke and now it seems his plan to change the way the House of Lords is elected is going the way of the Dodo too.  But what did he really expect?  Firstly, nobody this side of the solar system has any respect for him and those that say they do are just trying to steal his parking space, but secondly it’s the House of Lords for God’s sake, what was he thinking; they’ll never change.

According to a study conducted by the Times newspaper, almost 80% of elected peers would be against such reforms planned by Mr. Clegg, believing it to be unconstitutional.  He planned to reduce the number members down to 300, each an individually elected peer and eventually hoping to remove all hereditary entitlements.  Each was to be given a 15-year term, but not surprisingly almost all those surveyed by the newspaper said that they would oppose any and all plans.

All the main parties made reforming the House of Lords part of their 2010 election manifestos, but now it seems that it is unlikely change leading some commentators to suggest that the government could implement the Parliament Act 1911, which effectively bypasses the HOL.  This last time this occurred was in 2004 when the Commons passed the Hunting Ban.  But it is easy to see why in the hell the Lords wouldn’t want reform.

Back in the day you didn’t have to do much to find yourself a seat in the HOL, all you needed was to be popped out of Baroness’ cherished hotspot and in a number of years your Lordy Lord father would pop his clogs and low and behold you’d have a seat.  Now it is a little bit more difficult, but not too much.  Hereditary peers still exist and they get paid to sit around for as little as 136 days a year for no more than six hours a day for just under £70,000.  It seems the perfect job, why would you want to give that up, and why would you allow some snotty upstart politician that suffered badly in one electoral vote, who has turned his attention to the system that has given you most afternoons off? A Lord without a peerage is like a shire horse without anything to tow, all it is, is a bucket load of rancid old meat!  Even when the Times put out this survey to all 789 members only 300 or so could be bothered to fill it out and return, what does that say about how futile a system it is?

The Deputy Prime Minister has long stated his view on the House, “I have always supported 100% elected,” And the Conservatives have also tried to sound out how they will attempt to improve the current system, “We will seek to build a consensus for a mainly elected second chamber to replace the current house of Lords, that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy,” (Conservative Election Manifesto 2010) but with more than double the amount of peers than either political party, do they really seem likely to change current law and insinuate anarchy in their ranks?

Do we need a House of Lords really?  Surely the point of electing a government in the House of Commons is so they that can implement the laws they put forward in their manifesto and not to see them fall short because the House of Lords is closed for the day due to a day trip from the residential home where the majority of members live.  They are mostly unelected, stuffy and completely out of touch with the modern world.  Any group of persons that vote against a bill that bans fox hunting because they consider it ‘traditional’ instead of a senseless and wretched blood sport should be stripped down to their briefs and given a 10-second head start before a group of starved wolfhounds are let off their lease.

I think the public would have more respect for Nick Clegg and his viewpoint if he were to take a few stark-mad, slightly loopy Lords and take them out onto Dartmoor and release them back into the wild doing a decent thing for his career and for us – the ever accepting tax payer!

‘I Have a Talent, a Wonderful Thing…’

It is interesting to see how the number of people who are forever searching for that elusive dream of being popular.  To what lengths will people throw their lives into the public domain just so they can continue to Google their own name over their morning Cornflakes?

The recent lusting after who was the unfortunate footballer to have had his ‘tail away’ with Imogen Thomas is a perfect example of how our society wants to do nothing more than pry into the goings-on of a person far richer and more successful than ourselves.  I think that Ryan Giggs was right to try to protect his family from having his name splashed across every newspaper, but he is still a pristine moron for having an affair to someone whose only claim to fame was that she was on Big Brother 48 and was Miss Wales a few years back, I mean that’s not even a real country!  Did he really think that she wouldn’t try to sell her story to the Daily Mirror?  Footballers are not known for being the sharpest knives in the drawer.  I doubt Eric Cantona would have even blinked an eyelid if an allegation such as this were to come out when he was playing.

But it is just another example of people wanting to do everything they can to be on the front page and being talked about.  Not to overdo a phrase, but as Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about!’   Do people crave money and success in order to be famous, or do they think that by being famous they will achieve money and success?  And usually it is the people who aren’t particularly blessed with any expertise and have any discernible talent that are the ones that are hurled across the tabloids like a baby throwing up over your new car seat!  David Attenborough, for example, in the million years that he has been on our TV screens there has not be a single soul who has said a negative word to the man.  Billy Connolly, Michael Caine, David Frost, even David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker, someone who is young and whose job it is to antagonize everyone else in the public domain, yet for some reason there is not a tabloid nark lurking behind his daffodils.

They call it ‘Celebrity’ culture, the adulation of people who, believe it or not, are made from flesh and blood as you and I, but for some reason, probably because they are better looking than we are, they are thus given pots of money to stand on streets corners and gawk around and be photographed.  But when they want to cease being the centre of attention and instead snort cocaine of the toes of some 16-year old Russian they find that the press still want to show off their new talent for putting things up their nostrils.  It seems like Andy Warhol over-estimated exactly how long people would be famous for, but still there is no shortage of people willing to take just a meagre 15 seconds of fame let alone the full 15 minutes.

Survey after continual survey shows that the state with which the youth of Britain think nothing of quitting school at the age of 13 and signing up to join ‘I’m a Fat Arse That Can’t Stop Eating Chocolate For Breakfast Because My Mother Worked Long Hours And Couldn’t Cook Me a Decent Meal,’ show, or ‘I Have a Talent I Really Do, If Only Someone Would Give Me The Money And Make Me Popular I Could Show Everyone’.   Simon Cowell is probably more to blame more than anyone, though he doesn’t actually deserve it after all he is probably a very successful businessman who saw a gap in the market and realised that most of the people in the world are stupid enough to buy into anything.

Will it ever end? I hope not because nothing quite riles up a public debate as to the point of pointless people!

The Royal Wedding Royal Rumble!

Cover of "Royal Wedding"

Cover of Royal Wedding

It is arguably the biggest event in the 2011 calendar that very few of us give a bloody toss about.  It has been spread across the tabloids like a baby’s early breakfast getting splashed across the kitchen table!  Prince William and his bride to be Kate (middle-class) Middleton are chewing up News coverage like a hungry wolf chews up a young fledgeling.  Nowhere is safe from the reminder of this ‘Royal Wedding,’ an event that is sure to cost the general public significantly.

It is being branded as the wedding of the year, but that is just a way to sell newspapers.  Every year there is a famous wedding and Will and Kate are just like all the other celebrities that think the general public really give a hoot in hell about what happens on their alleged ‘special day’.  To be honest you can’t blame them, for all intents and purposes they themselves would probably prefer a quiet one.  I mean who in their right mind would choose to be photographed over a billion times in one day and be seen by approximately eighty trillion people? It is just another celebrity wedding where the pitiful peasants of the working class can go ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ and realise that their life is completely worthless because they don’t have TV cameras and a magazine deal to tell you how great you are!

America is showing more interest in this than we are and thankfully they are willing to come over here to the UK and put their full support behind the two.  The Americans sure do love the pomp and procession of it all, probably because the closest thing they have have to a Royal Wedding is ‘My Super Sweet 16.’  Let them come in their droves, spend their cash and let them eat cake!

Any celebrity wedding is not complete without a mob of just as irritating socialites.  David and Victoria Beckham, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, Madonna and Guy Ritchie (their own marriage ended in divorce).  Famous people from the world of sport of which I can’t be bothered to mention, look it up yourself you lazy bastards, I’ll have no lists here!  They have also invited several impecunious people like children from poor backgrounds, so when they return home they can see how much their parents really do live in the gutter.

Anyway,more importantly, how much will this shindig cost the British public?  Well, for the security of the whole thing, including police officers being paid double-time; it is a bank holiday after all, and then the money for closing off the route from Westminster to Buckingham Palace, is reckoned to be between £20-£25million.  But the cost to the economy is expected to be upperwards of £6billion in loss of productivity due to it being an unscheduled bank holiday, plus it is presumed that over the Easter period where there are four holidays in total, the public will take extras days off or call in sick to make the most of it.  It must the said that the predicted revenue from tourism will reach £1billion, which brings the cost down.  It’s all those ‘knock-off’ china plates being sold in every shop on Oxford Street doing that.

Is it worth it?  I mean the Royal family don’t have a good track record when it comes to staying married, but actually statistics published in the Office for National Statistics has shown that the divorce rate in the UK has continually dropped over the last few years.  And another determining factor is that Will, unlike his father and brother, is not a complete bastard!

I say good luck to the pair of them and wish them, but no one else, all the best.