Because stuff needs talking about.

Archive for July, 2012

Montage Madness

Well we’re nearly there; the whole nation holds their breath in anticipation for the most exciting event in Britain’s recent history.  Yes the time has come, for the BBC’s montage marathon.

It started innocently enough, at the end of sporting contests to summarise the course that the tournament took and the high and lows along the way.  But from these humble beginnings, the simple montage’s stature has grown to become an ever-present feature before, during and after each athletic feat.

To me it’s as if the guilty TV companies are saying that real life is no longer appealing enough for the average audience.  That reality is doesn’t incorporate the excitement that the typical, reality-TV loving viewers thrive on.  No, life needs to be dramatized to really get the point across, to really manufacture that sense of power and intrigue, or people might switch off!

So as we welcome the Olympic Games to London, with the BBC promising extensive coverage of every sport, athlete and queen-loving patriot exploding with national pride directly into the camera, expect to get familiar with a few of these summation traits.

Music is the key factor in making any run-of-the-mill montage into something on the scale of summer blockbuster epicness.  Basically there are two options; the overblown chanting and drumming option which offers the ‘going to war’ semantic, you know, like they always do with the Welsh rugby team, or the acoustic cover of a previously famous option, you know, like they use on all those clever and heartfelt adverts where you watch someone get old in half a minute.  There are a few ground rules that the editors have to follow when deciding between the two options; any rivalry or chance of violence = epic war music, individual sporting competition and lots of shots of relaxed athlete = acoustic cover.  There are also the factors such as race, stature and sex; any Eastern European competitor falls into the bracket of war music as well as anyone bigger than us, whilst the majority of female athletes will get lumped into the acoustic cover category, or maybe, if they’re really lucky, the current pop song bracket, because girls love dancing and that don’t they?

If anyone can remember back to their English GCSE days then you will already be aware of our next trait.  The phrase is pathetic fallacy, and it has nothing to do with erectile dysfunction.  This is the montage maker’s mantra and is basically when the weather reflects the mood in a film or a book.  However, in the case of montages, it can quite often be the reverse.  You can often find that if there has been rain at an event (with tennis and cricket being the obvious exceptions, you can’t make a montage out of nothing , although I’m pretty sure it will be tried soon) then the mood will be set as a battle with lots of slow motion shots of bedraggled competitors and rain lashing down past a scoreboard of some kind or a symbolic piece of equipment.  If the weather is sunny then everything takes on a jovial mood (despite the athlete clearly sweating their nads off) and the montage will be laden with footage of ladies in sun hats and children eating ice creams and maybe someone will have been slipped a tenner to get into a fountain somewhere, you know, to really get the message across.  Even the typical British cloud, the most boring type of weather possible, gets manhandled into meaning something, usually as a sense of impending doom or loss for the home team.

So as the whole nation is plunged into a slow motion world of tears and smiles, pain and adrenaline, defeat and success, all condensed into a minute and served up with a helping of emotive music, just remember that this emotion is already there in reality, not just in this Hollywoodisation of life, created by the BBC and Sky.  These feelings are being felt, in real time, in real life.

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Hell’s F***ing Kitchen: Best Show in the World

I was always going to use this picture.

Take one volatile perfectionist, blend with a dozen hugely over-confident aspirational chefs, throw in a handful of increasingly ridiculous and degrading tasks and watch as the whole thing boils over with hilarious consequences.

Season ten of the most outrageous “reality” show kicked off a couple of weeks ago on British screens and so far, it hasn’t disappointed. So far we’ve been witness to sheep rustling, testicle eating, and scallop-related blood drawing, on top of the base level of egos, square-ups, and meltdowns which have become the constant theme of the show.

The catalyst for the success of the programme is of course the contestants, each of them instilled with the belief that they have what it takes to win, despite their fundamental inability to cook food which you would have thought would make them think twice before entering the world’s most embarrassing cooking competition.  But no, they appear on our screens undeterred, ready to shout meaningless American catchphrases such as ‘I got this one baby’ and ‘I’m all over this’  as they start to decimate the fifth New York strip in a row.  And of course, with every delayed entrée, and appallingly cooked main, more and more of Gordon Ramsey’s famously short fuses are lit.  Now all us viewers have to do is sit back and wait for the fireworks.

I can honestly say that when one of the contestants timidly sneaks their dish on the hot plate and you hear Ramsay’s words, ‘who cooked that?’ I genuinely feel a pang of nervous excitement as the guilty chef turns, clueless to whether they’ll be praised or publicly crucified by the angry caricature that they call ‘Chef’.

The programme’s status as a reality show surely has to come under question though.  I’ve worked in kitchens before and you never come across the numerous sackings each night and the food punching that occurs in this infernal canteen.  And just in case it was possible that, for just a minute, this programme might regress back to the monotony that is reality, they edit it in such a style synonymous with a Hollywood action film.  Honestly, I haven’t heard that many rising strings since I watch The Shining whilst listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No.5.

But what really makes the programme great, is its bass line of foul language, and how this has somehow become acceptable to air on the TV.  Post-watershed or not, there is still a fuck-load of swearing in this fucking bastard of a programme.  See it’s even got me going!  So great, in fact, is Ramsay’s reliance on curse words that the programme recently got in trouble with Ofcom because Chef dropped the f-bomb no less than forty-seven times in a one hour show.  Taking out the three advert breaks that evens out to about once a minute, and that is just him alone!  Combine that with the competitors and the dialogue becomes nearly as vulgar as the Terry vs Ferdinand court case.  It’s no surprise that they don’t show a repeat with the sign language lady in the corner, I think far too many people would get offended by all the gesticulating and switch over.

From now on, for your bi-weekly dose of excitement, anger, tears, and of course, effing and jeffing, tune in on Mondays and Tuesdays and watch Chef Ramsay verbally beat the shit out of the sorry bunch in front of him, in case you needed any more persuasion just watch this clip:


Advertise This: Pathetic Poetics

I’m back once again to tap into the rich vein that is terrible advertising, and this time it is the turn of the appalling rhyme scheme, as featured in every single advert ever!  Well, nearly every advert.

I’m not sure how this trend came about, but I am sure about how much it ruins my life for that half a minute when another company jumps on the poetic bandwagon and churns out another piece of unimaginative crap.  It seems though, that they have completely nailed their target audience; assuming the majority of British TV watchers are in fact 5-year-old American Dr. Seuss fans.  Here’s a look at some of the culprits who have been throwing their rhyming dictionary at any sort of product to entice you, the moronic, infant-minded audience to buy it.

Santander:

Christ! This set of adverts has remarkably snatched the title of ‘bane of my life’ away from the shouting Ladbrokes man, with its subtle use of repetition.  You might not have noticed, but I’m guessing this bank really wants to push the idea that ‘you save’, dropping the fallacy no less than 14 times in under a minute.  So much so in fact that the phrase becomes a meaningless, two-syllable noise.  I’m not sure what it is about repetition, but the effects leave me in a similar emotional (and physical) state to Will Ferrell in Austin Powers, and what really tops off the horrendous nature of the advert is the truly erratic rhyming pattern which has all the regularity of Italian football betting.

McDonalds:

I accredit these clowns (I picture a board room of Ronald McDonald’s) with starting this craze of alliterative atrocities with their advert entitled ‘McDonalds for everyone’.  It features a completely fictional scene where people in suits and elderly people are actually INSIDE a McDonalds as opposed to just scowling at one and its contents.  Strangely, in its glorified list of non-existent customer types, Ronald and Co fail to honour their main clientele of the unhealthy ones, the scally ones, and the too-hungover-for-real-food ones.  Despite their attempt to encompass every age, race and social clique, McDonalds have managed to alienate all but the most brainless by it’s somewhat fairy tale approach to poetry, with its blatant disregard for actual rhyming words and consistency in syllable length and stylistic devices.  Actually, ignore all of what I’ve just written, this is the least rhyming rhyming advert I’ve ever seen.

Premier Inn:

This advert is shit on three levels; first it tries to glamourise the appalling beds in their hotels, second it continues to employ Lenny Henry, winner of world’s least funny comedian (as chosen by me), to push bargain hotels on the public by saying “All you want is a bed mate, you might as well just sleep here”, and thirdly, they’ve manage to confuse poetry with googling synonyms for being tired.  With these three things combined, having Lenny Henry in pyjamas asking me to come and stay on his shit bed, isn’t really tempting me to make a booking. What really tops it off for me though is calming and relaxed tone that Henry tries to adopt has more than a strong resemblance to some kind of Barry White sexual advance.  Next time you see the advert, try hearing this song as the background music and watch how the semantics change as the ‘English Walrus of Love’ purrs at you from his rock hard bed.

Anyway, that’s my guide to disastrous forays into advertising poetry, complete with a shit load of videos keep you all going.  I hope you can manage to dodge through the minefield of assonance, alliteration and rhyming couplets for just a little bit longer with this aid.  Bonne chance, mon ami, bonne chance!