The Hallowe’en season seemed pretty drawn out this year. That’s fine with me though, ‘cos I love it! What other chance to do we get to celebrate all those freaky and ghoulish things we normally hide under our beds and in our broom cupboards?
If you want to keep the chills running down the back of your spine, check out this excellent, BBC-produced documentary looking back over the last century of European horror cinema, taking in works by major directors from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, the UK and Belgium.
Presented by comedian Mark Gatiss (of The League Of Gentlemen and Nighty Night infamy, and thus no stranger to the dark side himself) it is a follow up to his series A History Of Horror, which was originally broadcast on BBC4 in 2010.
Although Horror Europa has been liberated from behind the BBC server wall and uploaded to YouTube for all to see, here is what the official website has to say about the show:
Actor and writer Mark Gatiss embarks on a chilling voyage through European horror cinema. From the silent nightmares of German Expressionism in the wake of World War I to lesbian vampires in 1970s Belgium, from the black-gloved killers of Italy’s bloody Giallo thrillers to the ghosts of the Spanish Civil War, Mark reveals how Europe’s turbulent 20th century forged its ground-breaking horror tradition. On a journey that spans the continent from Ostend to Slovakia, Mark explores classic filming locations and talks to the genre’s leading talents, including directors Dario Argento and Guillermo del Toro.
I have to say that there are A LOT of spoilers in this show, but if you can deal with the ending of some films you might not have seen being given away, then this is a real treat for horror hounds:
As Paul Gallagher has already comprehensively explained for Dangerous Minds readers here (and here), it seems that one of the BBC’s most popular family entertainment shows in its entire history, Jim’ll Fix It, might more accurately have been called Jim’ll Groom Ya, consisting as it did of a very widely alleged sexual predator and pederast, Jimmy Saville, granting special favors to an endless succession of children and teens… some that he tried to extract favors from in return. They probably should have called the show Jim’ll Fuck It, but maybe not.
Why does it comes as no surprise that Gary Glitter, the English glam rock chart topper who enjoyed twenty-six execrable UK hit singles over three decades before his reputation was “irreparably tarnished”–as Wikipedia puts it in wry understatement–by convictions for child sex crimes both in the UK and Vietnam would have been a guest on the show? And, wouldn’t you know it, Mr. Glitter and Sir Jimmy coincidentally happened to be good buds. Indeed, they were so friendly that Saville gallantly stood up for Glitter in a 2009 interview (reportedly included in tomorrow’s ITV expose). Referring to Glitter’s 1999 conviction for possessing a computer full of child pornography, Saville boldly attested that his old friend “didn’t do anything wrong” because “he had not tried to show them in public or anything like that” (my emphasis).
Saville’s statement betrays a personal “philosophy” ideal for one leading such a quintessential double life: on the one hand, a light entertainer and philanthropic “saint,” and on the other a prolific sex offender (allegedly or whatever). The moral dimension, for Saville, apparently enters only in so far as what is or is not public, which is to say on television: if someone is abused and it isn’t on primetime – to paraphrase the old Zen adage – did it really happen?
Which is what makes the following excerpt from Jim’ll Groom YaJim’ll Fix It so uniquely disturbing, as it sees the two friends and former national treasures collaborate to make a young lady’s “dream” of being a singer come true. The lady in question, while not exactly the full ticket, is twenty-one, thank Christ (guests on Jim’ll Fix Itwere predominantly, but not unanimously underage), though this doesn’t seem to deter either sexual predator from getting their sleaze on.
Glitter’s actual performance is something else. I don’t think I’ve seen him in action since I was a kid and he was singing Christmas songs, but what must have at the time looked to any sentient observer like just a bloated parody of glam rock (meets rap?), has retroactively become something ten thousand times more sinister than Alice Cooper must’ve seemed in 1972. Glitter’s entourage – his “gang” – stomp about in bondage-wear for a minute, until Gary himself enters, prowling the stage and glowing bright red, for all the world an actual fucking demon (the tune is even called “Red Hot”). The manner in which Saville and Glitter enclose the half-witted woman at the end is pretty damn creepy too (”Shy, Gary?”). At least he didn’t perform “Do Ya Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah!).” Now THAT might’ve been too OTT.
All in all, it’s easily the scariest performance I’ve ever seen. Looking at this shit in retrospect, that tens of millions of adults considered this – and Jim’ll Fix It in general – good family entertainment blows my tiny mind.
After the jump, the presciently named 1974 Gary Glitter documentary Remember Me This Way…
Marc has already posted some of this here on DM, but for those who would like to see more, here is the entire Question Time show featuring John Lydon (among others) which went out on BBC1 last Thursday.
We all gathered round the computer monitor to watch this broadcast last week, and I have to admit it felt like real event television. Having someone with the wit and stature (not to mention televisual infamy) of John Lydon sitting as part of a panel on a mainstream political show simply does not happen very often.
It was a mixed blessing. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pro-drug decriminalisation discussion, which Marc linked to before, and I thought he could have handled that part better. I also found some of his showboating grating, but hey, the guy is a rock legend, so I guess a bit of attention grabbing narcissism is to be expected.
But where Lydon really shone was in the opening few minutes of the show, when the panel were asked about the current banking crisis, and how the UK government intends to investigate the LIBOR scandal. Perfectly cutting through the blame-throwing merry-go-round the politicians were spinning in an attempt to avoid giving any real answers, Lydon was loud and direct, and did what he does best - namely, a physical representation of righteous fury. Below is the entire episode, but the beginning of Question Time is worth watching just to see Lydon put Louise Mensch and her ilk firmly in their place, by reminding them that this is not some abstract argument or phiopsphical discussion. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake:
Schoolchildren in Louisiana are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real in a bid by religious educators to disprove Darwin’s theory of evolution.
These private schools follow a fundamentalist curriculum including the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme to teach controversial religious beliefs aimed at disproving evolution and proving creationism.
One tenet has it that if it can be proved that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as man then Darwinism is fatally flawed.
The textbooks in the series are alleged to teach young earth creationism; are hostile towards other religions and other sectors of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism; and present a biased version of history that is often factually incorrect.
One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
Another claim taught is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur. It’s unclear if the movie Godzilla was the inspiration for this lesson.
Well, If you believe in the existence of one mythical being, why not believe in them all?
Perhaps one day the popular BBC kids show The Family Ness will be revered as gospels:
Celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of HMQ start this weekend in Britain, and the duo behind Cassetteboy have delivered a fine piece of juvenile piss-takery at the expense of Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Family, the British Prime Minister(s), the BBC and its presenter Andrew Marr.
Puerile, silly, and full of cheap innuendo, Cassetteboy have excelled themselves. However, not everyone is happy, as allegedly the BBC has had this little gem removed form You Tube. As Cassetteboy explains:
‘If you’re interested, here’s what happened: Our video was removed by youtube after a copyright claim by the BBC. We then deleted the vid…’
Now you know, so, catch it while you can.
We say more power to Cassetteboy. And less to the killjoys.
HARDTalk is an in-depth interview program from BBC News, something akin to Larry King Live with a sit down, face-to-face, half hour format (perhaps there’s a better reference point here, but my knowledge of American news broadcasters is limited.) In this edition, which aired last week, host Stephen Sackur talks to Alan Moore, who may be a hero to many but is still a fringe presence in this kind of mainstream news setting.
Moore has nothing in particular to promote, so this isn’t a kiss-ass puff piece, and being a “serious” show there is no talk of magic and mysticism. Instead, Sackur picks issue with Moore’s characterisation of the comics industry as gangsters, and has pertinent questions to ask him about the subjects of his works Lost Girls and V For Vendetta. Moore responds very well to being taken this seriously, answering with an unusual frankness and striking honesty:
HARDTalk with Alan Moore (part 1)
HARDTalk with Alan Moore (part 2) is after the jump…
A special treat this Sunday for all our disco-fan readers outside the UK, The Joy Of Disco is a BBC documentary about that much derided music genre that seemed to come out of nowhere to change the world in the late 70s.
I’ve seen a lot of documentaries about disco, and this is undoubtedly one of the best. Featuring new interviews with many of the key players (Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, Nona Hendryx, David Mancuso, Tom Moulton, Kathy Sledge, Nicky Siano and lots more) and some great, rare footage of top nitespots like The Gallery and Studio 54, this is a real treat for the disco fanatic.
But what really makes The Joy Of Disco so good (and well worth a watch, even if you are not a disco fan) is the placing of the music in its proper historical and social context. Disco was black, urban music that became the soundtrack to the gay liberation movement and, according to the program makers:
foregrounded female desire in the age of feminism and led to the birth of modern club culture as we know it today, before taking the world by storm.
All up to the (seemingly inevitable) racist and homophobic “Disco Sucks” backlash. That put paid to the faddishness of the genre, but ultimately, by driving it back underground to the gay and black clubs that spawned it, helped make it stronger than ever and actually did very little to kill the sheer joy of the music itself.
The Joy Of Disco explores these issues in the kind of detail they deserve. It aired on BBC4 on Friday night, and some industrious soul has already put it up on YouTube to share the love (yes, it’s another case of get it before it’s gone). This is highly recommended viewing - you won’t see anything this interesting, exciting or fabulously funky on your screens this evening:
Like every blog, Dangerous Minds has had our fair share of trolls, and I’ve always been curious as to what these anonymous dickheads look like, where they live, what sort of abuse they suffered in childhood and all that…
But did the BBC take it too far by tracking down this disagreeable gentleman and publicly outing him? You guys weigh in the comments.
Here’s a little curio from the BBC’s back catalog, an episode of the early 80s pop music quiz show “Pop Quiz’, featuring Morrissey and Phil Lynnot on opposing teams, presided over by uber-cheesey radio DJ Mike Reid (I’m loving his shirt). Phillo seems quite relaxed and in good spirits on this program, while unfortunately the same cannot be said for Steven Patrick “Life Of The Party” Morrissey. From the Slicing Up Eyeballs blog:
In an interview with The Face published in July 1984, Moz said, “‘Pop Quiz’ was unbearable. I realized it was a terrible mistake the moment the cameras began to roll. … I just squirmed through the program. I went back to my dressing room afterwards and virtually felt like breaking down, it had been so pointless. I felt I’d been gagged.”
Oh dear. Life is just so fucking hard for poor old squirming Moz.
Pop Quiz, featuring Phil Lynnot, Morrissey & Kim Wilde pt 1:
After the jump Pop Quiz, featuring Phil Lynnot, Morrissey & Kim Wilde, pt 2…
As mainstream radio in the UK gets steadily worse, as exposure opportunities for the genuinely interesting and different quickly disappear, and as lowest common denominator fodder like X Factor begins to limit the power of music in the popular imagination, he is missed now more than ever.
In the absence of one unifying national media platform it’s unlikely that we will ever see his like again, though I feel that through his influence, and the proliferation of music websites and blogs, we are all a bit Peelie now. Proof of the man’s legacy is that the anniversary of his passing has become an annual day of celebration, with gigs, radio shows, record fairs and even specific releases happening in his honor, every 25th of October. And this is a good thing, a very good thing.
So in memoriam, here’s a clip from a 2005 BBC program where various artists and radio djs posthumously rifle through his (typically eclectic) record box:
John Peel’s Record Box
After the jump, John Peel’s ‘Sound of the Suburbs’, Jimi Hendrix playing a Radio 1 jingle for Peel’s show in the late 60s, Peel on the assassination of JFK (which he reported on from Dallas for the Liverpool Echo), and an interview where Peel talks about the influence of punk, how its natural home is in the suburbs, and how scenes get co-opted by a jaded music press…
Taken in conjunction with “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf eaten by Badger” which Tara posted earlier today, it looks like the news has been getting pretty weird lately. But Tara and I have been discussing which of these two headlines are better. She still opts for the “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf…” strapline, while I still plump for this beauty from the BBC. I did some headline math, which looks like this:
So it would look like Headline 1 has it. BUT that does not take into account the “kittens” factor of headline 2 (which usually spells instant win), plus the fact that it is actually good news. I dunno, I’m torn…
Phil Lynott statue on Dublin’s Grafton St (toy monkey not included)
You’ll have seen the other Thin Lizzy posts that we’ve put up on DM by now, right? Big up to Paul and Marc for the Phil Lynott-loving that has been going on here - Lizzy are an under-appreciated band, who to my knowledge never really broke through in America. Of all the rock act Ireland has ever produced though, Thin Lizzy are by far the best, and most of that legacy rests with the cool, charismatic and incredibly talented Phil Lynott himself.
The Phil Lynott Story goes further than other Thin Lizzy-based docs to explore Lynott’s background, from his teenage mother’s escape from the work houses of wartime Northern England to Phil’s growing up as a black man in the vastly white1960s Dublin, and from his fledgling career as a psychedelic folk-rocker to his post-Lizzy years and his decent into heavy drug use and eventual, untimely death. It’s a fascinating story, packed to the gills with drama, drugs, scandal and lots of great music. It would make an amazing biopic, but who would play Phil?
This BBC-produced documentary is essential listening for anyone with a vague interest in rock’n'roll - you don’t need to be a fan to find this fascinating. But if you are a fan and don’t know the full story, be prepared to be amazed at some of the anecdotes and the background information supplied by Lynott’s incredible mother Philomena. Here’s a little bonus too - a video for the Lynott solo single “Old Town” (co-produced with Midge Ure and one of the greatest synth-pop tracks of all time IMO) with Phil strolling around early 80s Dublin and fooling around on his native Grafton St and Ha’Penny Bridge:
Last week the British historian David Starkey got into a lot of trouble on BBC’s Newsnight by claiming that the English riots were caused by “Black” rap culture and praising the notorious politician Enoch Powell. As could be expected his views were jumped on by the far right British National Party, and there has since been a public outcry that many think spells the end of the broadcaster’s career.
Now YouTube user sweetbabyjesus has uploaded a great cut-up video turning Starkey’s statements on the news program into actually quite a passable little rap tune - for an English historian.
Skip along four years since “A Trip Around Acid House (which I posted yesterday) and you can see the changes which had occurred within the UK’s dance scene. By 1992 raves had become massive outdoor events attracting thousands of punters, they had been cracked down on heavily by the police, and promoters had begun to put on licensed raves with professional security, a police presence and mandatory drug searches to minimise trouble and maximise profit.
BBC North’s Rave follows the set up, running and aftermath of one of these very large (but legal) outdoor raves, and highlights how attitudes had changed between 1992 and 1988. The moral panic surrounding acid house and ecstasy culture had peaked by this point. The police were aware that this new outdoor dancing movement was not something that was going to go away any time soon, so rather than trying to stamp it out they instead focussed on regulating it. It’s interesting to see the individual police officers interviewed in ‘Rave’ and their opinions on the culture - unnerved by the “spaced out” demeanour of the participants, but also very aware that they are not violent and cause very little trouble. There were still the supposedly “moral” campaigners who saw the trend as entirely negative, of course, and campaigned to have any event of this nature shut down due to the supposed dangers of drug “pushers”. The inability to compute that people were taking drugs of their own free will, combined with the relatively harmless effects of those particular drugs, give these campaigners distinct shades Mary Whitehouse. It’s all about looking good rather than engaging with reality.
By 1992 the music had now morphed too - four years on from the happy-go-lucky spirit of acid house (with its sampling of different genres and its embracing of the Balearic scene) the music is more streamlined, and beginning to form more regimented genres like techno and rave itself. DJ Smokey Joe does a pretty good job of describing the difference between the German and Belgian strands of techno in this show:
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.