Posts Tagged ‘MTV’

MTV VMA Awards, 2008

September 9, 2008

You’ve probably read about this little storm in a hairy teacup in the newspapers and either a.) had a chuckle to yourself about it or b.) brushed over it, turning the page in your periodical, distinctly unimpressed. You may even have tuned in last night. If you did, I congratulate you on your bravery.

Despite the few laughs that could be gouged from the miniscule slots the host was given, the rest of it was a squalid load of crap. Mainly advertising, endless advertising – each ad break longer than the content that followed – with a few absymal performances from modern pop artists afterwards, sandwiched between shots of Britney looking confused.

Brand was on form though. Despite obvious nerves he managed to make a provocative call to action from the off, pissing off half his crowd immediately by championing Barack Obama. And then he called Bush a retard. It was interesting not in the fact that any wit was involved, more for how the likes of Britney and the Jonas Brothers looked all confused at some unabashed political provocation whilst the likes of LL Cool J and Lil’ Wayne instantly became Brand-fans, showing their love later in the show.

The highlight for me though was the constant ridiculing of the Jonas Brothers (which I noticed was cut mercilessly in the UK edit having spent time scouring the web for clips yesterday. Presumably to keep that JoBro shitheap of a band happy).

It was grand that RB didn’t leave it at mocking the ostentatious and passive aggressive practice of wearing celibacy rings, but continued a filthy tirade against the purity of the utterly unlistenable Brothers Jonas that became more and more winningly crass as it went on. You even started to pity the boys. A bit.

The defining moment, for me, was when ex-American Idol winner and award presenter ‘Jordin’ Sparks – they clearly don’t have spellcheckers in American birth registers – retorted to Brand’s celibacy-ring mockery with ‘I’d just like to say that purity rings are not stupid because not all of us want to be sluts!’ – thereby telling half her teenage audience that she thinks they’re whores if they’ve ever had a little bit of hanky panky. The fucking idiot.

The bizarre thing about the VMAs was that it was noticably split right down the centre. You had the hip hop artists on one side and the teeny pop shit on the other. Though it’s often hard to tell the difference as all genres seem fused and spliced these days (yes, I am old), it was nice to see Brand break the audience neatly into a divide, with liberal America on one side and dribbling, hypocritical funda-mentalists on the other.

And now for another fucking ad break.

Denise Richards: It’s Complicated

September 1, 2008

Except it’s not. It’s not complicated in the slightest. It’s about as easy as life can get; money in the bank, nice house, a gaggle of fawning lackeys at your beck and call, a live-in father raising your kids for you and a lucrative TV contract that enables you to spend your whole day choosing outfits, getting tans and dating rock stars. It’s not exactly Sophie’s Choice, is it?

I’d like to see Denise Richards living a genuinely complicated life – rising debts, wayward children, two jobs and the impending threat of a house repossession. Then we’d see just how real reality can be as this pointless, silver spooned pair of tits struggles to come to terms with the fact that she’s not the most important person in the world after all. That, my dear, would be complicated.

You remember Denise Richards, right? She was in a couple of films that did quite well at the tail end of the Nineties – one in which she was famously hoodwinked into playing straight when it was really a satire and another where she almost got her tits out. After that she was voted the worst Bond girl ever for her role in one of the worst Bond films ever, then married Charlie Sheen, showed her fanny in Playboy and promptly lost her acting career for being generally rubbish at acting. And where do forgotten starlets without a modicum of talent end up when they die?

Reality TV.

“I’m not the girl from Wild Things’ she intones repetitively, “I’m not the Bond girl” as if they were characters of such staggering artistic importance that the lines between her and them were so blurred people mistook her for a murderous teenager or, um, nuclear scientist (who wears hotpants) on a daily basis. She spends hours Googling herself, comparing online lists of who she’s fucked with her assistant and berating tabloid journalists for not printing the correct gossip about her.

Flitting around LA and being a callous bitch to all she meets, Denise ably demonstrating that Hollywood is an empty vacuous place populated by airfilled dunderheads convinced they are the second coming of Marilyn Monroe. She’s a sad and lonely wayward soul, a woman of such collosal insignificance she has already morphed into Norma Desmond, taking people firmly by the arm and stammering loudly that she “used to be in pictures” while showing you unpleasant photos of her malformed breasts.

As per all-these-fucking-shows it’s as contrived and scripted as an HBO special; staged arguments, opportunistic photocalls and just enough blurred out nudity that a web-banned teenager could possible crack one off over a freezeframe. Constantly denying her sexbomb image whilst posed half naked on a beach at sunset, she displays all the sexual allure of a drunk mother propositioning the paperboy. A walking bag of hypocrisy, she flaunts her children in the camera’s unblinking gaze whilst indulging in mindless self adulation and faux media shyness.

I don’t get the point of this programme; even by the usual z-list requirements of reality TV this is a purposeless exercise – she’s neither particularly famous or interesting, neither funny or endearing, neither attractive or appealing. She’s just dull, and unpleasant, and gratuitously vain; a walking example of self denial over what’s left of her rotting stardom.There’s nothing of interest or curiosity here, only a fractured psyche and a mundane life. You could pity her if you thought she had any charm, but alas her personality doesn’t even stretch that far.

Nickelback – Photographs

August 27, 2008

There’s a town in Florida called Celebration that was designed, built and engineered by the Disney Corporation. It’s an ode to the small town of American mythology – where everyone knows everyone elses’ names, where little league is the sport of choice, where there’s a church on every corner and where 97% of the population are white. In its early years, actors were employed to aide the impression of the the yokel spirit and snow was sprayed on the ground every Christmas whether it was cold or not.

Celebration is, in more ways than are readily recognised, the epitome of American values. It presents the right image, it taps into patriotism and nostalgia and it is effortlessly controlled by a ruthless corporate behemoth that purports to be about family values. If it looks genuine and it sounds genuine then who cares if it actually is genuine?

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Nickelback country.

Writing about music on WWM is always a tricky proposition as it always flares up far more defensive responses than your average ITV show. However, with Nickelback I feel I’m on safe ground.

To like this band you must be a tone deaf, semi-illiterate fucktard who enjoys the sensation of being aurally patronised and having their values slowly beaten into a bloody pulp by a thousand men in very expensive suits. You must be a masochist whose musical purchasing revolves around the latest ‘Now’ compilations and ‘Hardcore Urban Trance Classics 2009’. By all accounts and all tastes and all allowances for musical snobbery, you must be a moron.

‘Photographs’ is the band’s most recent single – a rerelease following the highly explicable but no less painfully successful ode to money and directionless consumerism ‘Rock Star’. It’s a contrived amalgamation of supposed memories from lead mullet Chad Kroeger, all perfectly emoting what is an archetypal upbringing for your average middle class ‘troubled’ teenager who still shops at The Gap – you know, the ideal demographic for this sort of thing.

Like a fake medium hustling a rich and grieving widow, Kroeger channels picture perfect vagaries of screen-door memories in middle America Nowheresville, picking out the schoolgirls who broke his heart and his numerous brushes with the law. He contemplates how he went astray, becoming a reflective and wizened soul who wants a second chance at life – all the while seemingly forgetting that he’s actually a former session musician from Canada whose only conviction is for being a drink-driver.

This follows the same line as their previous single ‘Rock Star’ which is basically a list of rock star cliches – a song particularly interesting as it features a rock star singing from the point of view of an ‘everyman’ about how he really wants to be rock star. Projected self adulation it may be, but it’s also about a rock star clearly becoming annoyed that his rock star life doesn’t follow that of what a rock star life should be – so he sings a song about he’d rather have a rock star image than be the actual rock star he is. Are you still with me?

Music is all about image, I’m not denying that, but there’s something deeply sinister about the way Nickelback go about it – their lyrics are almost focus-group driven, sculpted from marketable subjects that can inspire the most ferverent puchasing and imbued nostalgia. They drip Americana; etched into every rumpled t-shirt and straggly rat-tail is a sense of rugged machoism and glistening self importance, all topped off by a style that was popular roughly 15 years ago.

Of course, Nickelback aren’t the image of the real America, they’re the image of the corporate America. They’re the image of socially responsible rebellion, of radio friendly rock music and of all-out war-waging pomposity. Yes, there are other bands who use the flag as their image and some are far worse than these pseudo hillbillies, but I don’t think there’s a band out there who wear it so brazenly – who tread the line between sincerity and self parody so closely.

Listen to the lyrics. It’s like they’re cribbed from Facebook photo comments to achieve maximum effectiveness – a false history wrapped within a culminated life and sponsored by Disney. They’re the Miley Cyrus of rock bands; tightly squeezed by an army of imagemakers who can take their sub-average cliches and present it with so much glitter and sparkle that you hardly notice what’s beneath it all.

The talkbacks will begin soon and we’ll all wade through the usual music arguments. Let me save us all some time; I know there’re far worse bands in the world, I know that commercial rock is nothing new, I know that the music industry has always been about image and I know that even those precious fuck-you rock bands that I grew up on were really powered by Sony.

Nickelback are a new breed of all that, though. They’re a genetically spliced super group that combine the twin powers of alt dot origins and massive commercial appeal. Much like GI Joe, they have a copyright logo where the cock and balls should be – and should that sort of behaviour really be encouraged in the first place?

Totally Calum Best

August 14, 2008

You know when you’re talking to someone you occasionally take for granted – usually a best friend, parent or a spouse – and you totally, almost wilfully lose track of what they’re saying in order to focus on a flippant thought that’s just occurred to you? If so, you must’ve been through that very casual panic that occurs as your brain gets itself back together and attempts to backtrack to cover up the fact that you’ve lost their drift… I had a new and bastardised experience of that syndrome whilst attempting to force myself to watch this tripe.

My better half and I walked past billboards advertising this rubbish, all of them carrying an image of Calum Best wearing an enormous chastity belt. Obviously we found it nauseating. Despite the sickly feeling, I declared that, fuck it, I was going to watch it and douse myself with what could potentially be the worst TV event of the year. This kamikaze approach to television-viewing grows within me day-by-day and here, yet again, it manifested itself.

So despite all sane protestations from my nearest and dearest I actually set V+ to record Totally Calum Best, and then I allowed it to feed into my eyes and ears like a suicidal sofa-spud.

A little background on Calum Best, then. Despite being the son of fleet-footed soccerball genius and latterday souse, George (God rest his soul), Calum Best is famous for precisely FUCK ALL. His lumpen head appears very often in the tabloids looking gormlessly out at us, the dribble conveniently photoshopped from his fat, orange-tanned jowels, his receding hairline spiked into a questionable wimp’s mohican and his eyes carrying the unmistakeable bruised ring of one too many nights on the snuff, but he’s never done anything of note, so there’s no explanation for any of it.

In addition to the many slabs of Chinawhite fluff he’s taken home with him, no doubt making them suffer a puny ride on his tiddler in order to prove he’s a heterosexual, this brain-dead mong was also amusingly stung by the News of the World while getting his rocks off with a couple of ‘high class hookers’ – tooting gigantic amounts of nose-powder as he went about his business.

So it’s fair to say Calum likes the ladies – and whether it’s because he’s a highly sexed hetero or, as some cynics claim, because he feels the need to prove himself straight, is by the by.

MTV’s high concept response is to commission this shit. Totally Calum Best. The high-concept conceit is that the allegedly highly-sexed Calum Best has to remain celibate for 50 days. The reason for this is unsure. As I absorbed the first five minutes it was never explained why this was happening. And then, beyond those five minutes, everything is a blur. It’s as if the box was trying to communicate with me but my merciful brain stemmed the info-flow and refused to allow the bilge into my lobes.

After ten minutes I found myself in another room, strumming a ukulele I can barely play, with no idea how I got there.

Totally Calum Best is such vapid, empty bollocks that not only can I find nothing to write about it, I also can’t make myself sit and watch it. I feel like I’ve failed.

The Hills

August 12, 2008

Soap operas have long been a supporting leg for the table of society; they provide common ground for discussion, offer up countrywide watercooler gossip and dangle before us the idea that somewhere within our barren, empty lives there is drama.

I’ve known more than one person who would, every night, start with Neighbours and then work through Hollyoaks, Home and Away, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders in a straight flush of working class escapism. These people based their lives around those of others who didn’t exist. They spent their time absorbed in a fictional reality, whilst their very real one ebbed away.

When reality television became the genre du jour these people immersed themselves in that too – absorbing more and more cathode rays in the pursuit of gossip and speculation. Endlessly watching, discussing, watching, discussing, watching, discussing and all the while unaware that their days revolved around reacting to the stylised actions of others.

Which, in case you were wondering where this was all going, is a bit like sitting through half an hour of MTV’s reality soap opera ‘The Hills‘.

I wasn’t aware of this show until I stumbled upon this afternoon so a bit of Googled backstory may help the equally uninitiated – it’s a ‘docusoap’ about the lives of a bunch of rich and beautiful white people living in Beverly Hills, a spin off from another show about the same bunch of rich and beautiful white people living by the beach. I can’t quite work out who these people are or why they deserve their own TV show, but I’m guessing the fact they’re rich, beautiful and white has something to do with it.

Despite having no discernible talents, charisma or purpose we follow their every move as they are afforded the sort of connections and opportunities most people can only dream of, and we get to watch as they piss them away in a scat-orgy of mindless self indulgence and childish arguments. They work in exclusive nightspots, in high fashion, in entertainment and get to mingle with movie stars and industry giants whilst riding in private jets and squandering the income of your average household in one champagne-sodden long weekend. They are a Bret Easton Ellis novel come real.

First things first: this is not a reality show. If this is an honest portrayal of life then I have a gateway to Xanadu in my bathroom. It’s shot with the logistical complexity of a Robert Altman film – multiple camera angles no matter how impromptu the moment, exquisite lighting setups for each deeply-wrung conversation and editing so judicious it makes the Apprentice look like the work of DA Pennebaker. It’s also shot like a Michael Mann film – so cinematic in its portrayal of another indentikit LA bar that you wonder how they can have a normal conversation with a crew of 36 no less than 10ft away.

Each cast member is virtually indistinguishable from not only the others, but from themselves as well. With all the emotional complexity of a blueberry muffin they bitch about minute aspects of each other’s behaviour, overreact to the most basic of situations and prove themselves beyond all but the most simple human interaction. This is a world where a two minute conversation with an ex-boyfriend can lead to a screaming argument, where modelling for the editor of Teen Vogue is the most impressive thing ever and where the word ‘like’ features more than all other words combined.

I don’t see the point of this show. Soap operas offer consolation for the viewer, aligning themselves in sympathy whilst drama is supposed to offer blissful escape. But this programme does neither. The characters are so vacuous and pathetic that they’re not even worth scorn and their lives are so empty and repetitive that they make the supposed glamour of Beverly Hills seem dull. They don’t come across as special, or impressive, or even worth knowing – they’re not good guys or bad guys, they’re just people, boring ones at that, living the same life as the viewer – watching, discussing, watching, discussing – albeit in a different place.

Maybe, though, that’s the point – TV used to present excitement and escape as admirable pursuits, but that stopped us watching. Now it offers boredom and repetitive behaviour patterns; makes gossip and self importance important enough to be on TV and the audience will copy, they’ll ask less questions and do fewer things. Soon TV will be like an Escher painting, a self-eating circle snake of navel-gazing and nadir-worship.

Think I’m overreacting? Consider this – for the entire length of the show there was a piece of text in the corner of the screen advertising a new show on MTV that night, Totally Calum Best, in which the mentally-challenged fucktard attempts to go without sex for 50 days. I don’t want to sound like the old man in the corner, but if The Hills isn’t the beginning of the end of civilisation, then that certainly fucking is.