Archive for March 9th, 2009

Newsnight Review

March 9, 2009

Newsnight Review

Resisting the urge to watch Newsnight Review is futile. There’s something mesmerising about a handful of gasbags who’ve nothing better to do on a Friday evening than slam a ballet or mock a blockbuster and I always find myself roped in, even sticking around while they throttle an interpretation of an opera I’m never, ever going to see, no matter who interprets it.

Maybe it’s the in-fighting when two critics disagree with one another I enjoy. It could be the lengths they go to in proving their put-down prowess or, more likely, it’s the fact that they get themselves so worked up over artistic works that they come across to the viewer as, in equal measure, smug, fussy, pretentious, pompous and – half the time – wrong.

Let’s have a look at the major players:

Wark, Kirsty

There are other presenters, but Kirsty is the key head honcho and she is the only one with the power to utterly silence the mob. Her Scotch drawl is familiar to all and despite the fact she sounds and looks like a shaved and lazy sheep, everyone fears her authority and respects her space. A consummate professional.

Morley, Paul

One from the old skool. An ex-NME writer who made the inevitable transition to the broadsheets years ago but still harbours the belief that he’s on the cutting edge of opinion, even though he writes stream-of-consciousness reviews of Franz Ferdinand records for The Observer Music Monthly for middle aged mortgage brokers to read over muesli. Despite that fatal flaw, he always seems to praise the right things, and I admire his choices in buttoned-to-the-chin Urban Outfitter jackets which hide the fact that his face is almost completely forehead. I’m on his side, usually.

Marina Hyde

Her name says it all – sounding like a Chris Morris parody of a Guardian journalist. But look again – she’s real! Marina excels at being snooty about nothing, pointing her breadstick nose at low-culture, snorting like a hooray-Henry at the vulgarity and then summing it up in a badly-judged, empty soundbite. Despite a highly presentable byline pic, she actually has a small, sneering triangle for a face which points up at the light fittings, apparently sniffing them for traces of shit.

Tony Parsons

It’s all been said before. Google him – I can add nothing more to the mix. The market for Parsons-criticism is over-saturated.

Germaine Greer

Personally, I think she gets better as time goes on. She appears to care not one jot if she upsets anyone and constantly makes statements designed to piss people off. Only the other week she incorrectly asserted that ‘women aren’t as good at comedy as men’, and she spends the latter part of her career making these sorts of sweeping generalisations unapologetically. The fact she doesn’t mean half of them only adds to the fun.

Kwei-Armah, Kwame

Sometimes he presents and sometimes he’s on the couch. Despite being a youngster, comparatively, Kwame comes across as the wise old man of Newsnight Review, managing to balance his judgements against those of the others whilst resisting the urge to steamroller his co-critics – quite unlike..:

Eshun, Eko

…who is painfully watchable in his childlike over-enthusiasm. Whenever Eko’s presence is announced, I’m simultaneously horrified and excited as he’s a terrifying mixture of the drunk at the party who can’t shut his face and a rampant toddler charged with E numbers. In some ways it’s irritating that he interrupts the likes of Neil LaBute when he’s saying something smart but at other times it’s wholly satisfying when he shuts that vicar from The Communards up with his high pitched ejaculations.

Eko is Newsnight review incarnate – an over-opinionated speed-freak in conversation only with himself, unable to relent when challenged and permanently seeking to promote only his own point of view. He stamps his feet and actually sticks his hand up when it’s not his turn. He’s like those kids at school who were desperate to answer every class-question and if the attention’s not completely focused on him, he gasps and whines like a trampled puppy.

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So who would you like to see on the Newsnight Review couch? Or would you like to see it set ablaze and dropped from the schedules?