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:
And if you really, really don’t like disco, then perhaps this is more up your street. It’s an unexpected Christmas cracker by the king of UK grime Wiley, taken from his forthcoming album Evolve Or Be Extinct (to be released on Big Dada Recordings on 19th January - pre-order available here.)
This track is hilarious, the beat’s great and the sentiment is universal - about a family trying to cheer up that one misery guts who would rather stay upstairs playing Xbox while everyone else is downstairs having a drink and a laugh. We’ve all been there I’m sure:
“Go on, have a dance with aunt Shirley/
A little wind-up an’ that/
No, you go have a dance with Shirley/
Leave me alone anyway!”
I only found this track about an hour ago, and I’ve already listened to it half a dozen times. In fact, I’m going to listen to it again, right now. And you should too, it’s a future Christmas classic:
Before anyone gets carried away getting all biblical on the asses of the UK looters, it’s best to remember that the people in positions of power have been getting away with much worse crimes for years now. This brilliant open letter to the parents of the UK’s Prime Minister by the writer Nathaniel Tappley makes that abundantly clear with facts, figures and more than a pinch of humor. And yes, before anyone mentions, he does know that Mr Cameron’s father died last year, his point being that he is reflecting assumptions about parenting that Cameron regularly makes.
“Are they really surprised that this country’s culture is swamped in greed, in the acquisition of material things, in a lust for consumer goods of the most base kind? Really?
Our politicians are for sale and they do not care who knows it.
Oh yes, and then there’s the expenses thing. Widescale abuse of the very systems they designed, almost all of them grasping what they could while they remained MPs, to build their nest egg for the future at the public’s expense. They even now whine on Twitter about having their expenses claims for getting back to Parliament while much of the country is on fire subject to any examination. True public servants.
The last few days have revealed some truths, and some heartening truths. The fact that the #riotcleanup crews had organised themselves before David Cameron even made time for a public statement is heartening. The fact that local communities came together to keep their neighbourhoods safe when the police failed is heartening. The fact that there were peace vigils being organised (even as the police tried to dissuade people) is heartening.
There is hope for this country. But we must stop looking upwards for it. The politicians are the ones leading the charge into the gutter.”
Manchester’s Market Street branch of American Apparel, yesterday.
The wave of rioting has spread further across the UK, and last night it arrived here in Manchester. This is footage from Sky News of an interview with one of the rioters/looters.
I have been asked to transcribe this as the interviewee’s accent is thick. Here it is. I have transcribed the interviewee verbatim, but have sumarised the interviewer’s questions (I am sure we can all understand him):
Why are you masked?
Because the police will get me on camera, and then they’ll nick [arrest] me 3 months down the line.
If you were law abiding -
I’m not law abiding, nah.
So why are you doing this?
To piss the police off, do you get me?
Why do you want to piss off the police?
You don’t know what the police are like bro… no, I can’t explain in words.
Please try to explain - are you doing this out of anger?
I’m out for money [not for anger] because the police nick you for stupid things mate, and now this is our payback because they can’t do nothing to us today. So it’s like freedom, like do whatever you want today.
What have you been doing?
I’ve been doing what I want. Getting pissed [drunk].
After the jump, footage of Miss Selfridge on Manchester’s main thoroughfare, Market Street, being set alight.
Well, it feels like quite a while since we’ve had a genuine “ban this filth” furore kicked up over a horror film in the UK. Moral panic over celluloid work is something the British do very well - and not just the infamous Video (Nasties) Recording Act of 1984, but also the public and private reactions to films such as Reservoir Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, Child’s Play 3, The Exorcist, Visions of Ecstasy and more. Now there’s a new film to be added to that list, or if you will sown on to the end of the chain. The British Board of Film Classifications (the BBFC) has taken the decision to place an outright ban on director Tom Six’s soon-to-be-not-released Human Centipede II (Full Sequence).
The principal focus of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is the sexual arousal of the central character at both the idea and the spectacle of the total degradation, humiliation, mutilation, torture, and murder of his naked victims. Examples of this include a scene early in the film in which he masturbates whilst he watches a DVD of the original Human Centipede film, with sandpaper wrapped around his penis, and a sequence later in the film in which he becomes aroused at the sight of the members of the ‘centipede’ being forced to defecate into one another’s mouths, culminating in sight of the man wrapping barbed wire around his penis and raping the woman at the rear of the ‘centipede’. There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience. There is a strong focus throughout on the link between sexual arousal and sexual violence and a clear association between pain, perversity and sexual pleasure. It is the Board’s conclusion that the explicit presentation of the central character’s obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of its Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.
I saw Human Centipede (First Sequence) at the cinema, and enjoyed it a lot (it was in fact a first date, and we are still very much together). While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was a classic, it was well made, delivered some good scares (mostly centred around the excellent, unhinged performance by Dieter Laser as herr doktor, above) and it wasn’t as gory as I was expecting. The horror did indeed come from the central idea, a rare feat in today’s saturated, torture-porn market. While last year’s A Serbian Film featured some very heavy sexual violence, and was heavily cut by the BBFC, it still played in cinemas and on DVD systems across the land. It seems that mere graphic sexual violence is not enough to get a film banned, it is indeed about the film maker’s intent. And herein lies the problem.
Personally I do not believe in the power of prohibition, and feel particularly irked by the thought that there are a group of people somewhere making decisions on what I can and cannot watch without knowing a single thing about me (and yet assuming the worst about my character). What is the point in this day and age when uncut versions of pretty much anything can be obtained at the click of a mouse? However, I also know how the horror industry works, and absolutely any whiff of scandal that can be created must be exploited for maximum exposure. Human Centipede II (Final Sequence) was shot in England, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that director Tom Six knew the BBFC guidelines and decided to deliberately flout them. The UK has a relatively small market but a powerful media presence, and let’s face it, the film will get a hell of a lot more column inches now than it would have otherwise. For a series of horror films based on a truly disturbing central idea, getting one banned is a masterstroke. Because no amount of onscreen depravity will ever match up to the dark fantasies we create in our heads when imaging how bad a banned film might be.
Writing this post (which I wouldn’t have done were it not for the ban) I decided to look up the trailer for HC2FS, and was rather dismayed at the result. It’s all going a bit Von Trier for my liking - that is when a director’s ego and persona becomes much larger, and more of a focal point, than the actual work they are creating and promoting. Thus bad film making can be excused through a cult of personality. And before any fan people jump on me for that statement, it’s acknowledged that Von Trier has used his own persona, and people’s perception of it, to break his films out of the Danish art market and on to the international stage. It’s not a crime per se, but it still pisses me off, especially if the directors are just not as interesting as they think they are, as is the case here. So, principle photography and at least the first edit of HS2:FS must be ready for the BBFC to pass a judgement, but when it comes to trailers all the public can we see is this rather self-indulgent and poorly executed “personality director” clip. Is this supposed to brew disturbing images in my mind and make me want to see the new film? Sorry Tom Six, but it doesn’t. It bores me and makes me want to see it less:
You gotta love Charlie Brooker. He’s on a one man mission to tear television apart from the inside. Nowhere is that more clear than in the title of his new show, the first episode of which looks at how and why fear dominates the airwaves. His new series How TV Ruined Your Life debuted on the BBC on Tuesday, and some helpful person has gone and uploaded it to YouTube, in two parts. If you live in the UK you can see the full show, unbroken, on the BBC iPlayer for the next week.
In an age where dwindling ratings are forcing channels and shows to become more extreme, we need voices like Brooker’s more than ever. He seems like the only one left trying to fill a Chris Morris-shaped hole on mainstream UK TV (he and Morris worked together on 2005’s Nathan Barley series), speaking what seems a glaringly obvious truth to power. Most of the televisual references here are British, but it doesn’t really matter as it’s the same fundamental principles all over the globe. People are biologically trained to be alert to warnings, we find it hard to look away - fear sells, and Charlie helps us laugh at it.
On another level, this also gives non-British viewers a chance to see some of the terrible crap that has come out of the goggle box in the UK over the years. It’s not all as good as Fawlty Towers. .
Part Two of How TV Ruined Your Life after the jump…
Thanks to the great Mixmaster Morris for the heads up on this. For many years, white DJs have played a key role in popularizing black music in the US and Britain. In the British reggae scene, alongside pioneers in the sound system game like Jah Shaka, Jah Observer, Channel One, and others, paler-skinned music fanatics like the legendary David Rodigan have been working respectfully to promote the music became a worldwide phenomenon.
Just before Rodigan, however, a guy called Derek Morris from out of Bristol started his 50-year love affair with American R&B and Jamaican music, becoming an obsessed record collector. Here’s video director Jamie Foord’s excellent short vid documentary of the extremely charming and gruff-voiced DJ Derek—still spinning reggae, chatting patois on the mic, and rolling around England on the bus.
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Oh for f’k’s sake… not content with covering the whole country with surveillance cameras, the UK police are now planning on implementing US-style spy drones to catch suspected pedophiles (read: everybody in the country) or something. Drones are planned to be implemented by 2012.
Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the “routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.
The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.
Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.
They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use ?