Posts Tagged ‘Big Brother’

The Friday Question: Watch Your Mouth!

February 6, 2009

Image courtesy of BPPerry

TV history is littered with the problematic words of presenters and pundits who have said the wrong thing at the wrong time. The case of Carol Thatcher is only peculiar in that it was said off-mic, where you’d assume a smack on the wrist might’ve been the usual response.

It’s the on-mic blurtles we’re talking about today. Ron Atkinson is the recent king of idiotic babble, with his assertion that Marcel Desailly was a ‘f*cking l*zy n*gger’, ruining his career as a talking head with three simple words last decade.

Recently, and flipping the race coin, Jesse Jackson came against a hell of a lot of stick across the pond when he said this presuming he was of air. ‘Cut his nuts off’ indeed!

Even more race-based idiocy arrived in the form of Jade Goody’s second Big Brother outing, this time as a ‘Celebrity’, when she had a mad moment (actually, loads of them) and referred to Bollywood Queen  Shilpa Shetty as ‘Shilpa Poppadom’.It wasn’t helped by her pals joining in as they made a series of slurs on the hygiene of a whole nation.

But we’re not restricted to race on this. Anyone who screwed up their career, or shamed themselves a bit is up for discussion. Think George Best or David Icke on Wogan.

Any more for any more?

The Friday Question: You Produce!

January 23, 2009

production booth

EDIT

The remit has been expanded to include any current affairs, news or magazine show.

Good morning.

Today’s Friday Question concerns the folk who lurk behind the scenes. The button-pushers, the format-tweakers and the devils in the shadows. I speak, of course, about the Reality TV Production Team.

They are the unseen heroes and villains of Reality TV. If it wasn’t for them, nobody on Masterchef would go on about how winning would be a dream come true, because they wouldn’t be asked constant, leading questions along the lines of ‘just how amazing would you feel if you won it?’.

The Apprentice cast wouldn’t be urged on with cumulatively aggressive questioning and Big Brother housemates wouldn’t, at audition stage, be encouraged to act like complete arseholes the second they get in the bungalow…

SO… If you were behind the scenes of any reality show, be it Wife Swap, Maestro, Strictly Come Dancing or any other that come to mind, how would YOU tweak the format?

You can add or take anything away from the usual progression of events. You can guide the participants to act in a certain way. You can even make everyone take all their clothes off! So that they’d be naked! With all tits and arses everywhere!

You are the Producer.

What will you do?

Dead Set

November 3, 2008

Contains very mild spoilers

I enjoyed Dead Set far more than I thought I would. Being something of an obsessive gimp when it comes to all things undead, I saw the trailer and my first thought was…

…zombie’s shouldn’t be fast!

How many times do we have to tell you?!

Zombies are slow, idiotic, lurching beasts. Not hyper-aware, sprinting gut-munchers! For gawd’s sake, film-makers – you’ve tried it, now let’s get back to the shambolic, staggering undead twats we know and love. It worked in 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake, to a point. But LET’S MOVE ON.

However, I now feast upon my own, over-critical words because it worked here.

The crucial difference between your fast and your slow zombie is margin for error. With a super-zombie, its ability to run at full pelt allows it to kill you within seconds. The virus will spread literally like wild-fire and your only hope, really, is to keep yourself at a massive distance from trouble and holed up securely.

The opportunities for fun multiply when you’re dealing with the traditional, slow zombie as they’re only really a formidable opponent when they come at you in numbers. The virus takes days to set in giving you time to find security. When they do eventually get to you, if you’re stuck in a room with three and have even the lightest of weapons, if you don’t freak out you’ve got a chance. You can outpace them if you choose to run or, if you time your hits right, you can kill them.

The classic zombie allegory, the one film-makers constantly strive to include in their work is based around the fact that zombies are essentially us. When coming at protagonists in hords, they represent the mob. Public opinion. The notion of habitual behaviour. Slow zombies, in this instance, represent the fact that people are catatonic in the face of outside pressures and only respond on the most basic of levels.

So what can we take from the faster, modern zombie? That we’re more clued up? Demand instant satisfaction? Are more aggressive?

It certainly adds up when you consider Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set and it’s none-too-subtle mockery of Big Brother viewers. From the cynical media-savvy watcher to the baying crowds who attend live evictions, thankfully nobody was spared. And, with kudos to Mr Brooker, beyond the premise, the execution of his central conceit was underplayed very well.

So, at the centre of the drama we have the fact that BB viewers are not only zombified – they’re also filled with a kind of aggressive, televisual blood-lust. But beyond that any didactic element was expertly hidden. Despite the fact that characterisation was limited in terms of backstory, we learned enough from their actions to grasp the point the writer was making.

Joplin, I feel, was key here. As a weary, supposedly uninterested contestant approaching middle age, he most represented the BB viewer I tend to know, and I suspect he was the closest Brooker came to scripting himself into the story. Through Kevin Eldon’s lines we got the distinct impression that Brooker feels the cynical observer is just as culpable as the less-informed viewer. And Joplin’s being responsible for literally opening the floodgates in the hectic conclusion was a blatant metaphor for where he feels the blame lies. Essentially, we allow this to happen.

The other characters, sadly, didn’t have quite the depth of Joplin. Jaime Winstone portrayed the standard overlooked herione and the rest of the Big Brother contestants weren’t given a chance to shine. Winstone’s boyfriend had some fantastically emotional scenes but, after five episodes I can’t remember his name, which means he can’t have made much of an impact beyond looking moody on a boat.

The producer character obviously had the best lines – despite being overwritten at some points. With one too many Brookerisms – referring to a PDA as a robot’s bollock, for example – he was in danger of reaching uber-stereotype proportions. But this was remedied by the amusing sight of him literally gutting former housemates with demented glee. And not much needs to be said of the symbolism of his shitting into a bucket in a confined space. It explains itself.

Inevitably, we had the zombie Davina – an idea I was hoping the makers would resist. But, to her credit, Davina makes a far better zombie than TV presenter and it was actually quite gratifying to see her whacking her head against a door – putting those twitching mannerisms to excellent use.

The real problem for anyone approaching zombie film-making in a world where even Romero himself is treading water is what novel amendments can be made to the format without polluting the genre. Fast zombies kind of worked, but have had their day. The first person perspective worked brilliantly in The Zombie Diaries and at the end of the Dawn remake – but faltered somewhat in Diary of the Dead. So one option is to change nothing but the location where the survivors hole up. The location itself becomes the source of tension. Romero was the first to twig this and located his first three movies at, sequentially:

  • The home – looking at how family, friendly and neighbourly relations were compromised.
  • The shopping mall – questioning our consumerist habits. 
  • The nuclear base – playing on fears of nuclear war and military aggression.

Placing the action in the BB compound replicates this structure. Also replicated were several scenes from other zombie movies. Picking zombies off whilst standing on the roof, a la Dawn of the Dead. The producer ripped to shreddies, guts hanging out and all, like the army boss in Day of the Dead. A winking nod to the brilliantly weird Living Dead at Manchester Morgue in the script here, a dash to the van sourced from Night of the Living dead over there… you have to question when homage becomes a tiresome tribute.

It’s this reliance on the genre archetypes that makes Brooker’s outing a worthy addition to what’s becoming a vast pantheon of quality zombie output rather than an outright, genre-busting classic. I’d imagine, to his mind, that’s probably the job wholly done.

Can we get back to the good old days of the stumbling, bumble-fuck undead now? Before it’s too late?

NewsGush – Dead Set

August 27, 2008

An update on that Charlie Brooker thing can be found below…

Click

Personally, I’d say an appearance from Davina McCall and former Big Brother contestants automatically devalues it, but time will tell. No doubt Aisleyne will get plenty of airtime in Brooker’s bewildering, ongoing campaign to get her work…

Big Brother

August 18, 2008

A quick look at BB then, if only to get the blog stats back up after I neglected WWM for a week, sitting about at home watching The Wire in my pants.

As usual, Big Brother is utter rubbish. At this stage of the game, as is usual, those who are tuning in are only doing so to vent at the Alpha Nob. 2008’s winner of that prize this time round is an unpalatable little cock called Rex.

This weird little Popeye-like grunt was apparently born to a nouveau-riche father who owns a restaurant or two. As a result, Rex has found himself in a position to lead one of Pappy’s ventures – and has been very vocal about the fact that his only reason for being in the imbecile-bungalow complex is to promote the eatery he’ll be running when he’s freed.

The problem there is that promotion usually involves charming folk to get them to turn up, rather than having people turn away in droves because the head honcho’s a grade ‘A’ arsehole.

A quick look at Rex’s embarassments:

A campaign of bragging about anything that comes to mind:
‘We own three restaurants’. ‘I’ve cooked for a million people’. ‘These stupid silver shoes cost this much’. ‘That manky white hoodie that looks like I found it in the bins outside New Look cost that much’. The twat never stops bragging. Which is weird, because looking at him, you don’t feel anything close to jealousy. You just burst out laughing at his face, clothes and haircut.

Picking on a blind bloke:
If you want a couple of million people (that’s probably what viewing figures have dwindled to) to think you’re a complete tool, pick on the blind bloke. And do it despite the fact the blind bloke’s proved he’s got the measure of you and beats you in every argument. Furthermore, why not stick your tongue out at him while losing an argument? He can’t see after all! You nob.

Having hair that’s more ridiculous than Donald Trump’s:
Is his barber having a laugh? Look at the fucking shape of it! Rex himself said that this cut is a mohican ‘but it’s just brushed to the side’. It doesn’t look like that to me. It’s more like an orange whelk-shell precariously balanced on top of his pointy skull. It makes him look like his brow is continually sliding down towards his mouth. The fucking cock. Even his girlfriend calls him a ‘conehead’. Speaking of which…

His girlfriend:
Rex’s girlfriend entered the BB house a couple of weeks ago. Before she turned up, Rex referred to her as his ‘princess’ and whined about how he was missing her. The night she arrived, you could see in his beady eyes that all his nightmares had come true. Not only was he going to get found out (that their relationship was a mess of childish bickering), but also the world would see that she wasn’t quite the beauty he was making out, and more a sort of budget Paris Hilton with pebbles for teeth. And a voice that could strip paint.

Possibly her greatest moment was refusing to help (blind) Mikey sort out some burning sausages because she was having her hair done. It ought to be noted that her hair is a mess of singed extensions and the only way to get it ‘done’ would be to grade zero the entire bloody bush. Other finest moments occur every time Rex wants her attention. Instead of calling her name, he shouts ‘OI’. What a gent.

Never-ending witless jabbering:
Every claim that’s made, any anecdote that’s told, Rex has done it, done it better, done it more obnoxiously, done it for free. Which is all very lovely for him, but doesn’t stop the fact that he’s a completely noxious bell-end.

If you’re one of the strange breed that turns up for the evictions, don’t boo the smug little twat. Just boot him. Seriously – kick him up the arse. It’d make bloody great TV.

Olay Regenerist

July 2, 2008

Olay Regenerist - Alternative to Injections

For years I laboured under the misguided belief that the poor standing of women in todays society was the fault of men; that the glass ceilings of business, the abject sexism of language and the body fascism of the media were all the result of a patriarchal world which imposed impossible standards upon them at the request of men.

For a while it looked like things were improving, but somewhere along the way it went wrong. We reached a point where being allowed to get as shitfaced as men meant equality, and where masturbating with a wine bottle on Big Brother equalled personal freedom and we suddenly went on our way again, thinking that everything was alright, and pushing the sexes even further apart in the process.

Advertising is the main culprit here – a slow socialization of roles that has become an all out war on the female image, grinding them further and further down until their behavour is a commodity and their self esteem is purchasable.

The poor standing of women in society is no longer because of men, and it’s not because of women either – it’s because of money. It’s because self-loathing is more profitable than self-empowerment and because a happy woman does not make a handful of very powerful people very rich.

I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t the normal sardonic critique usually enjoyed on Watch With Mothers, this is the nigh on communist rantings of newboy Quincy Phd. Watch the advert for Olay Regenerist above, though, and tell me that there’s not something very sinister about the whole thing.

It’s just a little advert – one in a million of the same ilk, and in many ways as innocuous as them all, but within it lays the seeds of all that is wrong with the advertising industry. It defies all sense of decency, of moral purpose – it’s cold, callous and calculated to further deflate the self-respect of half of the population.

Turn over to More4 and there’s a repeat of How To Look Good Naked; a woman is sobbing, actually breaking down in front of a mirror – holding her slightly aged stomach and spluttering that this isn’t how she’s meant to look, how she’s meant to be “slim, and young, and beautiful…”

The connection isn’t hard to see. We live in a culture where an advert with two kissing men is pulled in its first week, but this shit goes on and on and on without a single complaint. It’s state sanctioned bullying, drip-feed demoralisation and the beginnings of Olay’s move into wholesale cosmetic surgery products.

The male targeted adverts of this ilk are easy to laugh at – Pierce Brosnan saving the environment, Ewan McGregor on his bike – but when Andi McDowell talks of erasing her life-story lines it’s almost conspiratory. Before, the voiceover would say “in your early thirties” – now it’s “in your late twenties.”

Mainly, though, it bothers me that Eve Cameron, beauty journalist, would hawk this shit. I know everyone has a price, but in my ideal world she’d have a flash of conscience and realise that all she’s really doing is perpetuating an impossible and unrealistic beauty myth and further ruining the societal advancement of her own gender.

Big Brother 9 – Dennis removed for gobbing

June 27, 2008

And another one bites the dust. Dennis has been removed from the house for spitting at fellow contestant Mohamed. They’ve really picked a lovely bunch of people this year, eh what?

I didn’t take to Dennis from the off. What with his being an androgynous leotard-sporting retard who immacs his chest, thinks he’s the bee’s knees and looks like Rab C Nesbitt’s wife.

Is anyone watching?

I very much doubt it.

Comments for this post – a prediction:

Zero.

The Friday Question: The Crap We Watch

June 20, 2008

Shipwrecked bikini sex

JQW raised the issue of televisual guilty pleasures last week. We needn’t limit it to daytime TV though… so what’re your guiltiest televisual pleasures? And if you don’t feel guilty, what TV do you watch knowing full well that it’s unbounded shite?

I’ll come clean – I quite often find myself watching Shipwrecked of a Sunday morning. Looking at the picture above, I’ve no idea why…

And you all know about my Big Brother condition.

Open your hearts, let honesty prevail…

What shit TV do you enjoy then, eh?