Because stuff needs talking about.

Archive for May, 2012

Cage Rage: A Question of Names

Try every name in the list with this picture, it works a treat!

I’ve been a little busy lately, mainly with work related things so I thought I’d make this post a bit of a short one.  However, it has been one of my favourites to write and will hopefully be fun to read as well.  It’s about Nic Cage for God’s sake how could it not be totally awesome!?

I’ve had a theory for a while that the worse the Nic Cage film, the more overblown and incredulous his character’s name has to be.  This list can be seen as a reserve store; we all hope that a Cage film can’t be so bad as to warrant one of these statements of obviousness, unless there is a Snake Eyes sequel on the way that I don’t know about.

Anyway, this list is here should you ever to need to spell out exactly your character’s patriotism and love for your family, or if you are under the impression that the audience won’t be able to determine your role as a misunderstood good guy through all the gun firing and explosions.  Enough talk, here it is, sit back and think of America:

Tennessee Lincoln

Jack Everyman

Cassius Truthseeker

Montana Headstrong

Vice McBane

Will N. Tact

Samson Carter

Laura Biding (disguised as a woman)

Ray O’Light

Free Spirit

Maverick Chamberlain

Monument Hill

Roosevelt Fury

Lincoln Peacemaker

Blake Veteran

Arizona Faithful

John Renegade

Jackson Thunder

Utah Grace

And, my personal favourite:

Pat Riot

I would like to thank Mr. Cage for the endless amusement and inspiration to write.  Without this man’s extraordinary talent, I would have many blank pages, and ITV 2 would be screwed.  Just take a look at this:


Direct Line: Uncomfortableness in thirty seconds or less.

What if we gave you this much? Would you do it then?

Ok, it’s been going on long enough now, for what seems like an eternity, Direct Line and their bulging advertising pay packet have been ruining our viewing pleasure in regular, thirty second bursts. To promote their product they have forced us to watch bad insurance sales, with “hilarious” results.

Tired of seeing Stephen Fry and Paul Merton buzz about the screen as CGI phones, Direct Line thought it was time for a change, maybe spend a bit of money and get some famous faces on screen instead of just inside a red phone with wheels. What followed was a barrage of agonising meetings between the ”comically” misunderstood salesman (you know, that one off Mock the Week) and a variety of Britain’s comedians who were willing to sacrifice the respect and reputation they once had for some sweet moolah.

Voiceover leviathan, Alexander Armstrong, has milked the Direct Line cash cow the most, with his horrendous, bomber jacket-clad character, which as well as being astoundingly shit, is also just a watered down, wider audience hybrid of characters from his sketch show. This moustachioed fool must either be the most worrisome old-fashioned RAF squaddie in the world or obsessed with constantly hunting out new car insurance deals at the expense of the viewing public. Or maybe he’s just lonely. He’s clearly the kind of man that would be found sat at the bar in the pub on his own, “nursing a sherry”, talking at any unfortunate passer-by who inadvertently came within close enough proximity to trigger the clichéd pub spiel. Every pub has one of these men, they wait, perched at the side of the bar, like a spider at the edge of their web, luring us stupid flies in with the bait of no queue. And then they pounce and trap you in their threads of belligerent, bigoted views as you will the beer out the pump, and nod and agree with all of the most intolerant assumptions just to get the hell out of there a few seconds quicker.

Anyway, as you might have guessed, when it comes to a character featuring in a series of adverts broadcast incessantly, Alexander Armstrong’s caricature of himself would not be my favoured option.

Next up for the exasperated Chris Addison to try and fathom is the dysfunctional couple, perfectly designed to send hatred coursing through my veins at the first sight of that barnet. Actually, as a side note, isn’t amazing how quickly your mind can translate the image in front of you, understand it as something you recognize and make you react accordingly? I reckon when this advert comes on, I can fill with rage AND change the channel in less than two seconds. Pretty good motor skills eh? Anyway getting back to the point, why would anyone decide to sell insurance through the use of a couple who hate each other but are too terrified to be apart? All this pairing does is demonstrate one of the most solemn aspects of human life; the fear of being alone. Would these people really prefer to be stuck in a loveless relationship, bickering over the most frivolous of issues? Yes sadly they would and what’s worse is that Direct Line will parade this farce of a marriage in front of us for comedic purposes.

So there it is, Direct Line continues to entice Britain’s comedians with money, and they ashamedly take it as they step up to the guillotine, all in the name of a little red phone. I personally like to think that the theme of awkwardness that runs through the adverts was not scripted, but was merely a by-product of the clash inside the actor’s heads of happiness from being paid a load of money, and their knowledge of their reputation being left in tatters from a few thirty second bursts, in a deplorable situation. Insurance sales and awkwardness, how could it not be funny?


Stay Classy…Planet Earth

“It was always tiring being a single mum, but a girly night in was just what the doctor ordered.” Anthropomorphic bullshit at it’s finest.

I must admit I was quite excited.  It might not be the coolest thing to be looking forward to, but the prospect of a new series of Planet Earth really appealed to my nerdy side.  This time it would be live, an intriguing spin on the classic documentary, so in my mind I pictured David Attenborough, in some remote part of the world, sharing his knowledge with all of us simpletons stuck at home.  Instead of Attenborough though, we are given, some might say a like-for-like replacement, Richard Hammond.  Not me however, I would not say that at all.

I can picture the BBC team now, wrestling with concepts of how to freshen up the show.

“We really need to appeal to a different audience, y’know, one that is younger, or pretends to be, and cooler, or pretends to be.  And we need to try and move away from the whole ‘nature expert’ idea as well.

“How about James May?”

“No, No.  We need a person who won’t bore the audience with facts or relevant information, that’s not what people want to see nowadays.  No, what we need is a simpler host, with a smiling face and a lack of anything about him.  What we need, is Richard Hammond!”

The problem with this programme however cannot lie completely with the presenters.  Perhaps the largest flaw has to be the fact that the only live part of the show is when Hammond and Bradbury tell us about what happened before the show, or when they flick on the night vision camera to show us some incredible shots of wildebeest sitting down.  Here I was expecting to witness the quintessential scenes of nature play out in real time, the harsh realities of our world being broadcast simultaneously as the equilibrium of life is demonstrated, but instead, all we are given is three baby bears, two hungry lions, and a Hamster.

It would appear that instead of being exposed to the harshness of realities, the audience is shown the terrifying truth that is live TV.  It’s not the BBC’s fault that nothing ever happens live, but after thousands of uneventful live-at-the-scene news reports, you would have thought they would know better.  They soldier on though, cutting between Hammond and Bradbury in an attempt to create some excitement by seeing a different face on the screen, with both of them recounting in amazed tones how one the animals actually did something before.

Do you know what the worst thing about this programme is though?  Not the presenters, or the fact that nothing is live, or the fact that very little happens, it is the constant lie that is perpetuated by numerous nature shows that animals think like us and are in fact just little Peter Rabbits and Baloos and Simbas.  Simultaneously, Planet Earth Live is trying to demonstrate the ruthless characteristics of nature, and Disneyfying all of the animals to tug on the heartstrings of the public. Do they really think we are all so morally defunct that we can’t feel emotion for a starving lion cub without it being named and having its life anthropomorphized? They might as well have just dubbed a voice over the top and got Elton John to bang out a few tunes in the background.  You don’t need to tell us that Harold the hippo gets a bit peckish around lunch time or pretend that animals are kissing or in love when they are just following their reproductive instincts and trying to sustain their species.  You can’t try and tweak the storylines of that which has no script, especially when your forerunning programmes have taught exactly how nature works.

So there it is; the BBC’s new nature programme, stripped completely of anything credible, interesting, and informative, and where the only live thing about it is a man in a tent in Africa, struggling to cope.  Brilliant.

The Telltale Heart (FM)

More music variety.  A simple enough statement.  Not inflated by hyperbole and superlatives.  Not brash or gimmicky.  Just a statement, in a succinct form.

But it’s also a lie.  Not a little lie.  A big one.

If you’re like me, and have a job which constantly has the radio on, blasting out incessant, obtrusive crap then you’ll know how important variety is.  Surely the cornerstone of any successful radio station is keeping the audience interested with a wide selection of new and old songs for them to enjoy.  Heart FM agrees, even going so far as to use this as their selling point, and then unashamedly and wholeheartedly ignores it, and plays Adele, on repeat, forever.

I know Adele is huge at the moment, she’s easily Britain’s brightest star all over the world right now, selling obscene amount of records with her powerful voice and catchy songs, but just once, just one shift, please Heart, can I not hear those three songs.  You know, the two about fire and, of course, the sad one.

Yes I understand how emotive that Brit’s performance was, what with the tears and everything, but surely a song might start to lose some of its power and effect when you play it every day for half a year.  You know when you say a word over and over again until you can’t make sense of it anymore and it has no meaning?  That’s what you’ve done to Adele, Heart FM.

So why not take a break on the Adele front for a bit?  Put it down for a year or so and then bring it back in a blaze of reminiscent brilliance?  Why not take a risk on something new and stop berating your valuable audience with endless repeats of everything by Rihanna, and the soulless abomination that is ‘Moves Like Jagger’.

So Heart, please take this on board, for the good of music and the future of radio. You have the power to choose what makes it big and what is forgotten. You can control popular culture, you can shape what Britain loves.  You have all this but you give it all up for an easy solution.  Your repetitiveness and lack of adventure convinces the audience that this is what they want to hear, and in return they ask you to play the songs over and over again until we all die from lack of excitement.  You have created a horrible circle of safety and a fear of anything different that encases the nation.  You have given us more music variety, in the tightest constrictions possible.

Ah well, what does it matter anyway, I’ll listen again, everyone else will listen again, Adele will make even more money and all of our diversity and imagination will drift away on the vapid airways.  Sorry, turns out this was a bit of a depressing one, wasn’t it?