Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Picture Perfect

One time at The Esteemed School of Art a fellow student, in preparation to answer the brief to whatever dumb project we had been assigned, brought in some of his old baby pictures for reference. To be more precise, he arrived one morning with a series of large albums, labelled – if I remember rightly – at six monthly intervals from his birth.

Filled with photographs pretty much from birth until he out of the cot and scampering around in short trousers, their appearance astonished me because, while there are pictures of me as a baby, along with snapshots taken on holidays or at extended family gatherings, the photographs from my first twenty-odd years, in total, probably wouldn’t even fill one of his albums.

In the two decades since there’s barely enough for a couple pages worth. After my then-girlfriend and I took turns with the camera on holiday in Venice back in early 2002, there’s been only one picture taken of me that didn’t drop out a photo-booth slot. That’s loaded in the profile box on the right.

It was taken in Brighton a couple years back when we were filming for the NOF at the Labour Conference. Prior to some mouthpiece arriving for a taped interview, the photographer shadowing us wanted to check the lighting. I sat where the interviewee would eventually sit and she fired off a shot.

Typically we were so busy immediately after the event that I never got around to snagging a copy. Then it took a while getting hold of the photographer and the photograph. Without it I’d probably have to load up an old shot like this one

which would have probably left me with a whole lot of explaining to do. Anyway, there’s my happy, smiley face. Ain’t I the cute one?

I don’t know whether a photograph is supposed to validate you as a blogger. Some folk are simply happy to be themselves; others value anonymity due to the nature of their material. But catching various whiny bleats across numerous blogs, apparently it’s seen as incredibly bad form to post any form of criticism without putting your name to it.

Worse there seems to be a notion, floated like a rather noxious air biscuit, that we could all get along just fine without any form of criticism at all, whether it’s directed at television or film or theatre or what have you. Which is complete bollocks. I’m sure we’d all like to skip through sunlit meadows filled with unicorns and cute fluffy bunnies too but... it’s probably not going to happen either.

It’s a shame everything’s not perfect. That’s something circumstances rarely allow. But if, as an audience, everyone simply accepts the mediocre without objection, then the producers, unchallenged in their job, eventually become lazy. Do we want a future watching useless material starring Barry Shitpeas? Shouldn’t the audience be able to demand: “Not good enough, we want something better!” in whatever way they can?

Obviously an opinion needs to be an infirmed opinion rather than resorting to the level of, “You’re shit and you know you are!” Although, if we’re honest, that’s pretty much all the likes of Doctor Who really deserve. Everyone can’t like everything. One of the bods at work decided that the mercilessly amateur Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps – which is now in its seventh series – was only kept in production so that everyone was united in something they hate.

Hopeful ITV aren’t trying that trick with the equally unfunny Moving Wallpaper, the painful comedy without comedy. From the moment it aired, ratings tumbled faster than turds out of a mountain goat, but still it gets a second season. Is that because the writers promised they’d try and put one joke in the future episodes or because it’s Tony Jordan’s cherished project and the channel want to continue doing business with him?

Maybe the diplomatic aspect is what stops a lot of bloggers so utterly desperate to work in the industry from voicing a reasoned opinion. In their bright viewing world everything is shiny and brilliant. Obviously they don’t want to rock any boats and potentially jeopardise future prospects.

But what kind of impression does it give if it’s painfully obvious that the moment they roll off the turnip truck they’ll gladly drop to their knees, coating their throat with pint after pint of sulphuric jizz, as they empty out Beelzebub’s ball-sack for the sake of contributing to mediocrity. Because is you don’t have an opinion you want to voice, then you don’t have passion. Without that, what’s the point?


At 10:21 pm, Blogger Ian said...

Ah, but these days "passion" means just endlessly being enthusiastic about something no matter how shit it is.

Any hint of negativity and you're a "whiner", you're "cranky", you're a "glass half empty" person that's no fun to be around.

Nobody, but nobody, under the age of 35 wants to hear a little boy shouting out "But the emporer's got no clothes on".

The ony compensation for cranky old farts like me is that the young are going to inherit the earth they so largely deserve!

At 7:25 pm, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

People tell the truth when they have nothing to gain from lying, and when they don't fear the consequences of expressing a sincerely held opinion.

To put it at its simplest:

Anonymity = Honesty.

When people in the business have to stand beind their comments we get gems such the following from James Moran, the Doctor Who writer and blogger: 'Cathering Tate is going to knock your socks off. She's fantastic. And gorgeous, too. That's all I'm saying.'

Hard-hitting stuff.

Give me anonymity - and honesty - any day.

At 8:02 am, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

The argument that 'Anonymity = Honesty' is interesting and, I agree, for many that is their 'reason/excuse'. In truth, 'Honesty' SHOULD = 'Courage'.

As for that snap from the 'Santa-porn-shoot', I honestly have to say, that probably ought to have remained in anonymity!

At 2:25 am, Blogger Malice Blackheart said...

People treasure their own stupid possessions far too much. Particularly their stupid photograph albums, that no one is ever going to look at but them. What’s with these crazy people that want to show you pictures of them having fun somewhere you’ve never been? And if you don’t say anything, they’ll show them to you for hours. And these pictures they keep, they aren’t professional photos. Who wants to look at an out-of-focus pic of Mount Rushmore with some fat, spotty old hag sporting a Lakers cap in it? And these albums they fill on a monthly basis start to stack up and fill their room. You know it’s bad when you have to move a piece of furniture out of your room, so you have more space to stack your albums. Then you die, and your kids have to throw all sixteen tones of your shitty memoirs away. What a senseless waste of time and space.


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