Author Archive

The Friday Question: Celebrity What Now?

October 31, 2008

It seems like every TV show and their ITV alternative have got a celebrity off-shoot these days. From ‘Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ to ‘Celebrity Fat Club’ via ‘Celebrity Family Fortunes’ and beyond, it would appear that that there’s no base level quiz show, reality show or factual show involving the public that can’t be improved by shoving ‘Celebrity’ before the title and having an appearence by Lisa Scott Lee.

So, dear Motherers, what current unupgraded TV shows would you like to see have their profiles raised by the invention of a celebrity version?

Perhaps ‘Celebrity Antiques Roadshow’ would be your weapon of choice, or how about ‘Celebrity 60 Minute Makeover’ or even ‘Celebrity Channel 4 News’?

I’d like to see the arrival of celebrity versions of drama shows, like the Bill or Holby City, where the casts are removed and replaced with reality show winners and failed 80’s pop stars – but still playing the same characters.

That’d beef up an otherwise dull episode of Heartbeat anyday.

Liberal Porn

June 17, 2008

No, that’s not the name of a TV show – although, perhaps it should be. Slow motion shots of Iraqi detainees being molested, fiery rants from religious bigots and the detailed financial histories of American politicians all rolled into one orgasmic cum-escape of righteous indignation and moral fortitude.

A study recently revealed that conservatives are more relaxed than liberals; that rightwingers accept inequality is a requirement of society and thus are more at ease with it than lefties – who can’t justify the inherent inbalance in society. Nothing provokes Guardian readers more than injustice from the Western world, and since there is plenty of that around they are always more stressed. Daily Mail readers, meanwhile, simply get on with it.

Liberal porn, to my mind, is programming that stimulates that debate and reminds people that the bad behaviour of human beings is a result of liberal leanings, but at the same time acknowledges that to suppress it would be against all the positive values our society is built on.

It’s a moral quandary, alright, and one that will never be solved but will always provide entertaining television. To whit; my televisual viewing a few Tuesdays ago.

First up – 9pm on BBC2 was Age of Terror: War on the West. Billed as an incisive look at al-Qaida’s tentative first steps into the business of international terrorism, it was actually a mawkish tear-jerker about bomb victims in Kenya. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that this story is not an important one, because it is, and I’m not trying to be sarcastically dismissive of the lives ended and destroyed by this terrible act, because I’m not – I just wish that television documentaries would focus less on the horrifying acts and personal tragedies and more on the machinations and motivations of what is, quite clearly, the defining subject of our lifetime.

If the makers of Age of Terror really wanted to discuss terrorism they’d have concentrated less on the minutiae of the day’s events, less on the grisly recreations, less on the administrative blame and less on the emotional handwringing and more on the subject of motivation and history.

We all know, by now, that to be the victim of a terrorist attack is a horrific thing, that the US administration are at best incompetent and at worst despotic and we all know that al-Qaida have some really fucked up ideas – now let’s concentrate on education about the subject so we can best continue from here, and less on how evil the bad guys are and how morally justified we are.

The liberal is now frothing; If another fucking bespectacled pseudo-journalist thinker starts pontificating about global behaviour and then turns his unblinking camera on a blinded OAP talking, in depth, about the day she was nearly blown up and calls it factual news, then I’m going to take up arms myself. The fires were stoked, the indignation was fueled, the emotions engaged, the ego in rage. The world is fucked up! People are suffering! If only they were more liberal and realised that religion was the opiate of the masses, like me.

Next up. 10pm on More4 was True Stories: Taking Liberties.

This is more like it, no stories of deformity or bomb induced blindness – just amusing polemic that merged statistical facts with whimsical personal interest stories. You know the sort of thing – the two grandmothers who were the first people arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for looking at a US Airbase, Mark Thomas and hoards of Big Chill refugees turning Whitehall into a bureaucratic nightmare with a practical joke protest, a trim-bearded dad wishing his daughter wouldn’t get arrested and investigated by MI5 anymore… it’s like Michael Moore but oh-so-English.

Our host was Chris Atkins – a stoned equivalent of Jon Ronson – and he surrounded himself with the oppressed masses, the grassroots activists and the right-on politicians and slowly he revealed a staggering argument in favour of our Labour government being more oppressive and legally domineering than any that have gone before it. Yes, it was polemic and yes, it was very one sided, but Atkins made a very entertaining and very convincing film that allowed facts to back up his position.

A few glasses of red wine in, the liberal is now simultaneously defiant and hopelessly lost. Those women who looked after the man who was under house arrest for NO FUCKING REASON were heroes and if only we were more like them then the world would be a better place, but the government already has so much control it’s impossible not to feel beaten and submissive.

Pathos is the emotion of the moment – self pride at simply surviving in this Big Brother state takes over – the liberal now begins to view themselves as a rebel, as a revolutionary… the wine is now 2/3rd down, the foreplay is over.

Finally. Third base. Channel 4+1, Jesus Camp. In a previous life this was an Oscar nominated feature, but what with surrounding confines of Amy Winehouse: What Really Happened and a repeat of Dirty Sexy Money it was cut down to an hour and given, bizarrely, an incredibly jarring Manc voiceover – thank heavens for responsible programming.

It’s a documentary about the fundamentalist Christian summer camp Kids on Fire – the sort of place where parents force their kids hands up when asked ‘who believes God can do anything’, where children use dollar bills as bookmarks in their bibles and where praying at the feet of a cardboard cut-out of George Bush is deemed normal behaviour.

Yes, we’re in wacko territory here, folks – where the liberal viewer can be seen rubbing their hands together in glee at the very sight of these evolutionary fucktards proclaiming Jesus as their saviour. If ever there was a sight better designed to outrage the late night Channel 4 viewer than 5 year olds strapping baby foetus’ to their wrists and crying for the lives of the friends they’ll only meet in heaven then I have never seen it. Unfortunately this TV edit robbed the documentary of much of it’s balance as the previously included opposing views were massively trimmed… instead of a reasoned debate on the interpretation of Christianity we were offered more of a shock-doc; a freakshow of dangerous religious nutjobs rather than an inward look at our world.

Despite all this, it’s actually an incredible documentary; a fascinating and challenging story that really makes you consider the idea of a religious upbringing as a form of child abuse, and how the best of intentions can go dangerous off course. It’s also worth it for when the Pastor denounces Harry Potter as the work of the devil. Hilarious.

The liberal now rests deflated on the sofa; a primordial stew on their trousers. Their views have been challenged, their thoughts questioned and they have come out more defiant than before – they are right, the TV has proven it and they shall continue to keep up their moral indignation under the world is a fairer place.

And now to bed, to dream of unicorns.

Ad Nauseam: Dolce and Gabbana

June 10, 2008

Hello. I’m Matthew McConaughey, you might remember me from lots of movies… or you might not… very few people actually went to see my movies, although I’m quite famous for once being arrested for smoking a joint and playing the bongos naked in my living room. Oh, I’ve dated a few people who you might have heard of – maybe that’s how you’d recognised me. Trust me, I’m famous and thus desirable to women and admirable to men. I am, I swear…

Anyway. I want you to buy this new… um… is it aftershave? I’m not quite sure, it doesn’t say what it is in the advert – but either way, I want to you to buy it and I believe in this… um… product so much that I’m prepared to put my name to it. Yes, it’s that damned good. You trust me, don’t you? I said I was famous, you must trust me.

The advert is all about my life – the constant hassle of being incredibly famous, the admiration heaped upon me for said fame, the stream of photographers always wanting to get a snap of me because I’m so famous and admired… and if you had this life, which you don’t, you’d be able to deal with it as effortlessly as me by using this product… this aftershave, I’m sure it’s aftershave I’m selling.

You see, when a company asks someone really famous and admired to be the face of their product it’s because they see an association with the star’s persona, they see a mutual affiliation in style and ethos. When Dolce and Gabbana asked me to be their face I was flattered because it meant they clearly saw me as the height of sophistication, and not as a has-been no-talent who no-one ever really cared about. It meant they didn’t see me as just a ‘person who was in some films no-one saw’ and more as an emblem of their international image.

After all, to sell an international product (I am, like, 99% sure that it’s an aftershave) you need an international celebrity – and who’s more world famous than Matthew Motherfucking McConaughey? I know that it looks like that my film career is in freefall and I have to do adverts just to remind people that I exist, but that’s not the case at all; I have loads of films coming out and some of them star people you like. I’ll be around for a long time yet, so don’t worry.

Thank you for listening, I’m Matthew McConaughey.

P.S. It’s definitely aftershave, I checked the website – although there was this moment when I realised it could also be suits or sunglasses – that was a scare.


Pierce ‘I used to be James Bond, y’know’ Brosnan

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

June 4, 2008


You have to wonder just how much influence Tom Cruise has in the world these days, or at least how much influence he has over Steven Spielberg.

The first three Indy movies were heavily based in Christian mythology, then there was this 19 year break during which the cult membered egotist made a few films with everyone’s favourite family flick helmer, and then Indy returns and discovers that the world is pretty much like Scientology have claimed all along. And they said War of the Worlds was just a popcorn movie…

So Indy is back after nearly two decades, and boy is he old. Old, old, old. He’s so old that he keeps pointing out how old he is – he’s so old that even his immortal Dad has died, and he’s so old that it’s now the 1950s and it’s the Russians who need thwarting. For a guy who was last seen drinking the fountain of youth, he sure is old.

The movie is old too. Not old in that kind of timeless way, but old in that kind of ‘we’ve seen it all before’ way. It’s a bit sad to see him trying to recreate his youth, slapping on that weary grimace and plodding through the motions again – and the thing is, he’s still good at it and he’s still enjoyable to watch, but truthfully he’s never going to be as good as he once was. He’s fun to be around because he’ll never lose his magic – but like the later albums by Stevie Wonder proved, he should have just quit when he was ahead.

The plot is utter bollocks – something about a magnetic quartz skull which might have belonged to a conquistador, but turns out to be from one of the aliens who engineered civilization. At the point where a CGI Lawnmower Man alien stares into the camera and a flying saucer decimates a Mayan temple you realise that this is a Thetan history lesson; the Christian undertones of the previous three films having been undermined and replaced with a B-movie hokiness.

Since Sean Connery wouldn’t come out of retirement and Denholm Elliot was actually dead, they cast familiar actors to fill their void – Ray Winstone is in it for no good reason, playing a character with little or no purpose; John Hurt crops up as deranged exposition spouter, a sort of savant version of his Da Vinci Code role and Spielberg’s current hard-on for Shia LaBoeuf continues with his role as hetero-gay biker sidekick Mutt.

LaBoeuf is ok, clearly being primed for another appearance, and Hurt is suitably camp but annoyingly predictable – it’s only Winstone who stands out as terrible – an empty shell of a clichéd stereotype. He’s been more convincing selling us Holsten Pils.

The movie is much like that moment in Terminator 3 where Arnie puts the comedy shades on at the beginning; it’s knowingly self referential, and kind of makes sense given the characters position in popular culture – but at the same time it robs him of the genuine charm that made you love him in the first place. The whole film is one big wink to the camera, as if George Lucas were stood in the corner of the screen pointing to all the in-jokes – “look, it’s the Ark of the Covenant, do you remember that? Wow, Raiders was a good film wasn’t it?”

Crystal Skull’s opening sequence is a fun set piece set in a huge warehouse, before it moves to a highly misjudged nuclear bomb sequence in the Arizona desert. We’re then treated to a medley of jet powered train rides, flying fridge escapes and CGI gophers. It’s all a little too silly and a little too convenient. It undermines Indiana Jones as a character and instead makes him a beneficiary of continued good luck.

That’s not to say that it’s not an entertaining film, because it is. Overall it’s very enjoyable and there are some good sequences, not to mention the very welcome return of Karen Allen who genuinely lights up the screen when she’s around. There’re bike chases, ESP, nuclear bombs and killer ants and huge waterfalls and all manner of really cool moments – but none of them really work like they used to.

It’s too knowing, too openly funny, too much of a movie to ever let you forget it’s a movie… you don’t get sucked in, you groan and sigh and wish it wasn’t quite as lame as you begin to realise it is.

Seeing Indy staggering around this new 1950’s time period is like watching fat Elvis in Vegas; he’s great to see because you love him, but he looks out of place in time. By moving forward Indy has become outdated, his jacket and fedora now look like a costume, his style of adventuring having ended in the previous decade.

It doesn’t really matter, of course – it’s just a film and an ok one at that. It’s not a meditative reflection of the soul, it’s a popcorn flick and isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. At the same time, though, you just wish that they’d had the sense to leave it where it was before – as a great trilogy of films. Seeing Indy now just reminds you that your heroes get old – that they’ll get worse over time and their legend will fade.

It’s not quite the childhood rape that the new Star Wars films were, but it’s gets dangerously close at times. It’s a savage irony of life that George Lucas has the ability to create incredible and hugely popular characters and then totally fuck them up with bad decisions. Spielberg is as much to blame her as well, though – by listening to the bearded money-eater he’s forgotten that films are meant to have good stories, not just iconic lead characters and in-jokes.

It’s still good to be in Indy’s company again, though – he’s been missed and although he’s not as good as he once was, it’s nice to have him back.

Britain’s Got Talent Live Final

June 3, 2008

Well, it’s over… after months of drawn out untalented humiliation this beefed up Opportunity Knocks has finally ended it’s 2008 run – just in time for the football and Big Brother to start. The auditions were, as usual, the only truly entertaining section as hoardes of delusional regionalists proudly offered themselves up to be mocked, booed and buzzed by a baying crowd of cackling misanthropes.

The semi-finals was an easy weeding of those who were only put through to be hate figures (a tone-deaf singing magic act, a senile keyboardist who covered Star Wars to make it more spacey) and those who showed a genuine talent. After months of audition they rushed these semi-finals through in a week, clearly aware that audience figures drop like flies once the tedious process of adulation and voting begins.

Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and the ubiquitous Simon Cowell were our judges. Much has already been said about their questionable right to judge talent – particularly in Amanda’s case – so we shall skip right ahead to Saturday which was the final. These were the finalists:

The Cheeky Monkeys: The kind of kids potential parents fear having. These are all grinning, all dancing spangly visions of hell rolled into one cutesie dance act. High kicking and backflipping to the Grease soundtrack, they summed up all that is grotesque and perverse about parents forcing their kids into entertaining people. In 20 years time they’ll be like Quiz Kid Donnie Smith, cruising bars to find cheap smack.

Andrew Muir: the requisite cute boy singer gurned like Ruprecht from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels whilst murdering John Lennon’s Imagine, although a shorter version because, y’know, those songs about peace really are too long. Amanda thought it was great “like David Gray” whilst Simon and Piers chastised him for his choice of song. “It wasn’t my choice”, protested Andrew “I had no say in my choice of song” but his complaints were quickly hushed up.

Kate and Gin: a dog dancing act featuring a shut-in social pariah and her overly trained dog. It’s acts like this that make you truly weep inside – admirable only in the way that it must have taken her hours to do, the act however was neither entertaining nor satisfying. Just a little sad.

Nemesis: a street dance group that started impressively and steadily slid downhill the more routines they did. Much was made of them not having a rehearsal studio and using the Milton Keynes bus station instead. While they were admittedly impressive, they’re still basically an act that looked like it rehearsed in a bus station. Piers Morgan praised them for being outstanding examples of modern youth as the media was portraying them unfairly these days – a statement so hypocritical that it could only come from the former editor of a tabloid.

Strike: a martial arts act of which Amanda said “turned martial arts into entertainment”. Huh? What the fuck do the Shaolin Monks and Jackie Chan do then? They were impressive due to the fact that I can’t do high kicks, but it was like watching extras in a Jason Statham movie get it wrong. Amanda loved their ripped abs, though, and much was made of their ability to take their shirts off to sound effects.

Andrew Johnston: the sort of act that it seems unfair to include in these competitions because he’s so naturally talented. No matter how much work the other contestants put into their acts, few will be able to match the natural ability of this falsetto 12 year old. Unfortunately, his remarkable talent wasn’t enough for the producers and we were subjected to such overemoting about him being bullied at school for his voice that by the end you wanted to swipe the little fucker’s pocket money yourself.

George Sampson: another child entry, this time a teenage breakdancer who’d failed to make the grade last year but scraped through this time around. His routine was an admittedly very impressive sequence of fluid motion that only went wrong at the end when a poorly thought through section under a shower of water made it look like he was in remake of Flashdance.

Faryl Smith: a 12 year old singer who, much like Andrew Johnston, kind of made a mockery of the whole competition by being so preposterously naturally talented that everyone else paled in comparison. Simon was so besotted with her that you could actually see the pound signs flashing up in his eyes.

Escala: a quartet of high-class Nuts Magazine hotties who play string instruments in a really high-class hot way. They were the favourites to win on account of their incredible hotness and the fact that they were really good at what they do. Simon went a tad too far, claiming that they “turned classical music on its head” while simultaneously forgetting that Live and Let Die isn’t actually a classical track and that Vanessa Mae had ever existed.

Signature: an Indian Jay and Silent Bob whose Michael Jackson-themed dance routines were actually very charming and quite funny…

And the winner is… Simon Cowell!

Let’s face it – who really cares who gets to perform in front of Prince Charles when Cowell’s income for the next few years is at stake? Luckily he’ll be ok with Faryl Smith and Escala as his bread and butter, so watch out for albums from them in time for Christmas.

The real winner was George Sampson, the teenage breakdancer – and his victory was sweet and appreciated – the 14 year old being genuinely overwhelmed and very flattered with the honour. None of the bookies’ favourites made it into the top three, which makes you wonder if, with ITV’s reputation, they didn’t just decide it themselves.

Sampson’s career won’t last long because Cowell can’t push his single in 24 countries simultaneously, but he was a sweet kid and as deserving a winner as any of them I suppose.

And so the Cowell juggernaut thunders on – next week America’s Got Talent starts on ITV2 and the endless pursuit for fleeting fame continues…

Dirty Sexy Money

April 15, 2008

Well, what do you know? Turns out you can polish a turd after all. Not only that, but you can also primp it, preen it, dress it, splash it luridly across television screens, attach hyperbole after hyperbole to it, cross-market it to hell, force-feed upon an audience and chant a promotional mantra to it. The one thing you can’t do, though, is stop it being a turd at heart.

That’s the clever thing about promotions. You can use all the clever wording you want as long as it’s not disprovable – for example it is quite legitimate to say that ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ is the “most anticipated movie of the year” without ever having to actually back your data up – Prince Caspian is quite clearly not the most anticipated film of the year, but since the measures of defining anticipation are so broad it can be used heavily in marketing without ever showing how that conclusion was reached.

This is what Channel 4 are doing with their new flagship purchase – selling it on self-awarded platitudes and the empty promise of it being “America’s new hit show” whilst all the while covering up the fact that it’s a massive dud which doesn’t even come close to it’s magnificently lurid title, let alone the general acclaim they are relying so heavily on.

The show is supposedly a satire of the rich elite of America… or at least I think it is. It might be a whodunnit set in the highest social echelons of New York, or perhaps a sleazy soap opera about a dysfunctional public family, or indeed it could be any number of genres – who knows? So eager are the producers to satisfy every demographic of their pre-determined audience that they forgot to make the one thing that everyone likes; an entertaining show.

It concerns itself with the Darling Family and their family lawyer – a HIltonesque dynasty rolling in money, sleaze, politics and shading dealings with the legal representation of a Boy Scout. They’re your typical dysfunctional billionaires – so shrouded by money and influence they’ve forgotten how normal people behave and we’re meant to entertained and awed by their lavish lifestyles and exotically complicated affairs. There’re a couple of good characters – the foul-mouthed, hate-filled vicar son being the most notable – but the family are never portrayed as the rich arseholes they really are. Instead they’re humanised and explained and thus they lose all of their perverse fascination.

The show is also remarkably restrained – there’s no swearing, no nudity and no unfavourable subjects – it’s like blurring out the heiress’ vagina. There’re no bad guys, no hate figures and no amusingly lovable rogues. They’re a sexless cast, all plastic underpants and a copyright logo where the cock and balls should be and the hero is a man of such impeccable moral esteem and homely values that even he yawns when he’s on screen.

It’s not that Dirty Sexy Money is a bad show per se, it’s not – it’s just a massively underwhelming one. It is neither dirty nor sexy, prompting me to think it’d be more accurate if it was titled Boring Predictable Money. Quite how you can make a show with a budget of millions with Donald Sutherland in the cast, about the richest scheming near royal family in the country and make it uninteresting is beyond me… during the first episode I ended up teaching myself how to do Sudoku, so unexcited by the show was I.

American dramatic TV is the best in world right now, bar none. While the cinema is floundering and the internet takes over, TV has been creating wonderfully sustainable pieces of entertainment that far surpasses anything that has gone before. From the preposterous high drama of 24 to the subtle allegories of Battlestar Galactica, from the screeching lunacy of Desperate Housewives to camp theatrics of Ugly Betty, from the  twists of Lost to the ridiculous plotting of Nip/Tuck and from the sordid debauchery of Deadwood to the worshipable quality of The Wire – all via Hugh Laurie’s not-quite-get-overable American accent in House – they’re all providing solid, well written and highly distinctive programming.

You may not watch all these shows, but you must agree that they represent a boost in quality not seen for many years.

Its quite clear that Dirty Sexy Money really wants to be included in that illustrious list, but it never will. It’s too dull, too wishy-washy and too unsure of itself to ever truly be a competitor. It’ll survive for a few more seasons on the strength of an advertising campaign telling you how how successful it is, before fading away and not troubling anybody ever again.

Nickelback – Rock Star

March 19, 2008

Seeing as it’s apparently Music Week on Watch With Mothers I thought I would contribute with this little correspondence I’ve been having. I left the following comment on YouTube regarding this hateful song from the kings of unironic mullet rock, Nickelback;

‘Nickelback must have sold their soul to the devil because there is no other explanation as to how a band this mediocre, this banal and this damned awful could ever have achieved success. I know that taste is a personal choice, but really – there should be limits.’

Within 5 minutes of writing that I got the following email from MusiclandX

How can you not like nickelbacks song they are amazing.  He has a great voice and the song is so orginal down to earth and true. You say there are limits to peoples opinion well i totally disagree with that. The last thing i could listen to would be classical but i can still understand why people like it
Maybe you should try harder…

Clearly a 14 year old girl. So this was my response, and I think it is a pretty fair review of the song as well:

Wow. If I was to nominate the one sentence that I never thought someone who say to me, it’s “how can you not like Nickelback?” It’s a rhetorical question, right?You have freedom of choice, and if you want to like this band then that’s your call – however, do you not think that emailing someone and suggesting that they try harder to like them is taking a bit too far? Trust me, when you’re older you will look back at this fleeting correspondence and a little glimmer of regret will raise it’s head, followed by full-on shame.Like I say, if you choose to think that this dictionary definition of banality is good music then I’m not going to argue with you – each to their own and all that – but please don’t go around saying that they are original, which is an insult to every artist who’s ever tried something different. Nickelback are a perfect example of abject unoriginality – that kind of horrific middle of the road AOR which has dominated the American music charts for so long and is truly the death knell of popular music.The song isn’t good – it’s horribly bad, painfully cliched and desperately hackneyed. The song structure is plodding and predictable, the lyrics empty and calculated and, please, don’t talk about the man’s voice because to do so you’d need to talk about every other rock singer who’s preceeded him first.

And as for the video – celebrity cameos, bouncing tits, abject sexism and xenophobic stereotypes do not a video make. Every aspect of this release is a carefully planned business strategy by a bunch of white men in suits working out how best to part you from your cash. There’s no creativity, there’s no communication with the audience – there’s just a very calculated strategy to make a shitload of money from teenagers.

Like them if you want – difference of opinion makes the world go round – but by doing so you’re just contributing to the further homogenisation of a genre of music which is meant to reflect everything that Nickleback patently aren’t. I grew up on rock music – proper anti establishment, fuck-you rock music – and to see it reduced to this ode to commercial rock, material possessions and wealth worship makes me weep inside. I struggle to understand how this band can write this crap when deep down they must know that they are selling everything that they once held dear down the river for a quick buck.

And as for classical – well, I’m kind of with you as (R+B aside) it’s probably my least listened to genre of music too. However, classical music contains more emotion, more experimentation and more originality than Nickleback could ever even hope to muster and will remain in culture a lot longer than Chad and his withered mullet ever will.

Have a nice day.

Ad Nauseam

March 7, 2008

Commercial Break 

It bothers me how much time I spend writing about adverts for this blog. I’d love to use it more wisely, perhaps writing about actual television programmes and works of art instead of the intermediate bursts of consumerist affirmation that punctuate them. However I can’t. Adverts fascinate, appall, offend, excite and pique the curiosity much more than most media these days. After all – culture is transient but commercials… well… I find them to be the true reflector of our society. We can go on about social change, about emerging trends and about legal precedents all we like, but until the most prevalent format begins to reflect them we may as well just keep quiet.

That said, I am trying to cut down on my own advert ramblings a tad this year and have decided to condense all my bile and pithy complaints into one easily digested post. No reams of material here, just a few biteback comments about the adverts which are really grinding my goat right now.

Pedigree Kennel Drive

Aaaaaw, look at the sad puppy with the voice of Bob the Builder…. aaaaaaw, animals are so cute… aaaaaaw, look, Pedigree are raising awareness by donating money from each pack sold to help homeless dogs… aaaaaaw… hang on, what do you mean 1p from each pack sold? For just three months? You tight bastards… that means if that EVERY person in the country who owns a dog buys 1 pack a month they’ll only receive 200 grand? That’s less than your poxy advert, celebrity appearance, PR company and airtime cost. Why not just not make a flat out donation and get the free publicity from your good naturedness?

Oil of Olay Definity Test

Classic example of ‘here’s the problem you didn’t know you had and now here’s what you need to solve it’. Money please. I’m reminded of that great Mitchell and Web sketch about toothbrushes.


Why pay more? Because you’re a corrupt, unethical, slave-labour using, minimum wage endorsing, union-busting, tax-evading corporation. That’s why.

Kinder Bueno, A Little BIt of What You Fancy

This is not the 1970s. Or were you just angling for a featurette on Tarrant on TV for being cheeky? Jesus Fucking Christ… switch the genders and you’d have a full scale controversy.

LV Life Insurance

Read the small print; amount paid back will be less than paid in, fail to make a payment and the money is ours to keep, no payment until a year after your death so we have a full 12 months to bury your cash into all manner of highly dubious financial risks and ensure that the money isn’t available to pay for funeral costs and other expenses. Cilla Black, for shame – and the trawl through the Sixties audio is cringe-worthy.

Stella Artois – Pass Something On

I. Just. Hate. This. Fucking. Advert. Give the man his hat, or shoot him. Just get to the end of this piece of shit before I explode… that music…just thinking about it makes me want to cry inside.

Skoda Cake Car

Another advert I just despise… informing the public of a product or service is one thing, but this incessant branding is beginning to wear down my lifeforce. Not content with just presenting themselves anymore, we now have to suffer through a thousand ego interpretations of how Nike, or Sony, or Skoda (for fuck’s sake) want us to think of them. It’s a car! It’s a fucking car! Tell me about the fucking car, don’t subject me to the tedious artistic vision of a bunch of ad men. Either sell me a product or fuck off, stop being whimsical and aloof because it’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s certainly not making me warm to you as a conglomerate.

Halifax feat. Thomas from Leeds

I will never have an account with Halifax, and it is solely because of these adverts. Full stop. Never. Their branding has done the opposite of the intended effect and has driven me from their stores, never to return and filled with hatred for them. Want to know why bank charges are so high? It’s so they can pay for their staff to CGI surf on TV and not even have the decency to buy their dignity with money – just ‘an opportunity.’

Halifax are dead to me now, as are Lloyds for their ‘want it/buy it’ commercials. These aren’t people, they’re relentless pathological extortioners.


Ewan McGregor, why? Did you want a second home or something? Money is surely no object to you, so why did you feel compelled to sell yourself off to a fucking perfume-maker? And to think I used to have respect for you…