You may only be a few days into your advent calendar, but television is already pretty much running at full Christmas capacity, bringing back traditionally festive programmes like a dancing programme where half the participants can’t dance and live celebrity torture all the way from the jungle, and ladelling on the festive misery with appalling adverts where each company battles to make the audience cry the most and then share their misery over Facebook, albeit in an astoundingly happy manner.
Winning at the moment is John Lewis’ desperately emotional two-minute epic where a hare, not content with spending Christmas with all its other friends, insists on disturbing a bear’s hibernation which will more than likely result in the bear’s death shortly after due to the lack of food after the Christmas dinner sandwiches run out. As long as you’re happy though hare, as long as you get your one day of happiness you selfish fool. It seems as though the hare’s heartless need for attention has been a massive hit with the weeping masses so far though, outstripping Boots’ present giving chav and Debenhams’ highly unrealistic depiction of fembots doing Christmassy stuff like ice skating or wandering around the house in lingerie in the pass-me-the-tissues-while-I-tweet-my-sadness stakes.
But if the snippets of festivity aren’t enough to forcibly stuff you full of Christmas cheer like an unsuspecting turkey, then stop over at Channel 5 for their daily regurgitation of straight-to-TV Christmas films. 5 were unable to contain their seasonal cheer and like an excitable cracker, ejaculated their underwhelming offerings on the 29th November. There are some truly great Christmas films though aren’t there? The Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone, Elf; who wouldn’t want to watch these quality heart-warming films, whiling away the miserable winter afternoons with family friendly humour? In fact, I could happily watch Elf everyday all year round and still chuckle when he gets hit by the taxi. The problem is; these films are not Elf, they’re not even Jingle All the Way. Instead we get such instantly forgettable titles such as I’ll Be Home For Christmas starring the one that was the mischievous middle child from Home Improvement and young Simba from The Lion King, Christmas Returns To Canaan featuring Miley’s denim clad dad, and It’s Christmas, Carol, which has an almost clever title, and that’s it.
But everybody loves a Christmas movie, I hear you cry. It’s true, everyone does, but these aren’t Christmas movies; these are interchangeable stories of nothingness where the overriding theme is blandness and practically all of the films follow the same well-worn plot of non-believer falls in love with newly created relation of Santa and believes again which gets about as tired as I do after eating my own body weight in pigs-in-blankets and selection box chocolate. All of the offending titles are described as family films meaning that adults and children alike can get together and bond over a shared hatred of the unimaginative, middle of the road sagas that hijack their screen at painful daily intervals. At least there is one positive then, other than the heart-warming life lessons of course.
We can only hope that they are saving the big guns until later on in the month and soon our memories of nondescript blandness will be wiped from our minds by the capers of John McClane and a German Alan Rickman, or a Santa killing Tim Allen and a whole host of films from an altogether higher class of Christmas flick. The trouble is, by the time the superior films come around our fondness for festivity is all but dried up, what with the sensory assault from all aspects of life since the first leaves began to fall from the trees. For now all we can do is hope that the power of nostalgia and festive cheer can take us through this flurry of awfulness and deliver us to the last few days of December before January pessimism takes hold so we can all enjoy real, cinema-gracing Christmas films. If only Channel 5 hadn’t been listening to “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” when planning their December lineup.
It’s been a while since I dived into the murky depths of terrible adverts but recently there has been one offending the nation for the past couple of weeks that is so awful, so painfully irritating, that it had to be publicly shamed in the hope that those in advertising will hear the public outcry and realise the error of their ways.
The advert of course is the McCain five-minute jacket potato advert and to avoid any long-winded tangential rambling, the heinous concept of a five minute spud will not be addressed. Instead we’ll focus on the miserable excuse for an advert that was chosen to try and force the microtato (proud of that one) on the poor, unwitting public.
For some unknown reason, the powers that be decided to use the ‘primary school rhyming’ method to sell their product: A method so terrible and overused that it has already been featured on The Pop Cult Assault for its crimes against the audience, but continues to be adopted by advertising companies on an almost daily basis. Undeterred by this, McCain plough on and present to us another dollop of dumbed down poetry, complete with pretty colours and little anthropomorphic animal characters to create that loving, homely feel. Not content with this most basic of rhyming schemes, McCain lower the standard yet again like a poorly educated game of language limbo and do away with sentences altogether, and leave us for a section of the advert with just a strange gathering of vaguely synonymous words. It’s as if the writers of this atrocity gave up and just copied out thesaurus passages to fill in the gaps.
In case you are unaware at just how bad this little verse is, or if your ears have done you a favour and simply refused to allow such drivel into your brain, here it is in writing:
Meet the jacket, say hello,
Take a seat and watch him go.
I thought you’d need an hour at least,
You fluffy, tasty, super feast.
But no, in just five minutes time,
Before I’d even found a rhyme,
For done or quick or brisk or wow,
Or yum yum yum or holy cow.
A tick had tocked and on the plate,
An hour’s worth of something great.
The oven-bakey, tasty jacket,
And out it comes of this nice packet.
It’s hard to know where to go next with this; do we acknowledge that we’re being asked to greet a cooked potato, or simply dive straight in to the almost football pundit-esque quality of jumbling up tenses like a grammatical tombola? How about that pre-existent words were deemed unsuitable for these sinful stanzas and that new lexis had to be invented in order to convey the true power of the writing. Nothing can evoke the same semantics as oven-bakey now, can it? I mean, why leave the coining of new phrases to Shakespeare or Joyce, what makes them so special?
To add insult to injury, as with previous McCain adverts, the bastardisation of poetry is set to ‘Oh Happy Day’, the anthemic gospel song which practically defines a section of Christianity, and now a backing track for an abomination in the field of literature and spoken word.
So there you have it; an advert once again adopting a terrible poetry style and failing, this time, in biblical proportions.
I have been made aware that, since leaving all forms of higher education, it has become solely my responsibility to feed my brain and quench the thirst for knowledge in a continual search for more and more valuable information. Instead, I shirked my obligation, and turned to daytime television.
Waking up late allows me to miss any news shows or culturally relevant programmes and head straight for the good stuff, and what better way to kick-start the day’s mind numbing entertainment than to head over to PickTV and into the dirty Hawaiian underbelly patrolled by Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman and his wife, Ric Flair. This of course is the long-running series ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ where the audience can witness a leather clad, chain-smoking lionesque bounty hunter, accompanied by his extensive bounty family, hunt down and arrest the constant supply of reoffending criminals. Not only can viewers be entertained with the thrill of the chase and little scuffles that break out between the bear mace toting Good, and the crystal meth toking Bad, but as an additional treat get to be parley to the life lessons and teachings doled out by the Dog as he escorts the captured bail jumper to jail. He does deliver the dog gospel in a nice and meaningful way though; he always takes his sunglasses off and screws one last cigarette into the offender’s trembling mouth before leading them to the big house. You couldn’t hope to be caught by a nicer guy, once he’s finished pushing you to the ground, cuffing you and celebrating your capture in your grazed face with his ponytailed family that is.
Once the hour of the Dog has passed, we journey in to the realm of the unexplained and the disturbing. Yes it’s Scouse medium Derek Acorah and his band of believers in Most Haunted. Here we follow a troop of susceptible and terrified explorers as they wander around old houses and repeatedly soil themselves as floorboards creak, wind blows and generally things happen. Basically think a group visit to a National Trust house with the lights off and sinister string music playing. The highlight of the show is invariably when Derek’s body is used as a host for the distempered, and surprisingly all Liverpudlian ‘spirits’ which inhabit the ‘haunted’ houses which feature in the ‘programme’. Embodiments range from friendly old ladies lamenting their ability to protect children or something, to the more menacing, aggressive male characters which particularly love to get in our hostess’, Yvette Fielding, face or look directly in to the camera. It’s amazing to think that these centuries old spectres, who had only candles for light and fires for warmth, are fully au fait with the concept of electricity, I mean, who would have thought it? What’s best is that after an hour of misinterpretation, coincidence and abject terror for the participants, the show invites on a parapsychologist to examine the ‘evidence’ filmed on the night. Unsurprisingly, the footage of Yvette shitting herself rarely satisfies the expert and yet another episode is archived under the heading: lies and deceit.
A relative newcomer to the world of daytime TV, but instantly worthy of recognition is Lizard Lick Towing. This is one of those reality hybrid shows which manage to, by their very nature, entertain and appal simultaneously. For those who are not aware of this miracle of television allow me to summarise it for you in a selection of keywords; redneck, towing company, guns, fighting, more rednecks. Now if that doesn’t get you googling instantly then I don’t know what will. Despite the obvious dramatization, it is impossible to not be amazed by the lengths that these people will go to prevent their beloved cars being towed. Best of all, after the Lizard Lick boys, Ronnie and Bobby (what else would they be called?) cunningly trick the dim-witted car owners into somehow allowing them to remove the vehicle, it is practically guaranteed that the angry party will follow them back to the lot, backed up by a South Parkesque rabble. In fact, so regular are the ruckuses in the Lizard Lick office, that Amy (Ronnie’s powerlifting wife) took to gluing the furnishings down after repeated attempts to use them as weapons. One thing that this show has taught me while siphoning the remnants of IQ out of my wilting brain is that, when a redneck says he’s going to tow your car, you can be damned sure that’s what is going to happen, especially if that’s what it says in the script.
So there you have it, instead of using my spare time to further myself, to learn and expand my mind and my world, I sit glassy-eyed and half comatose while PickTV and Dave spoon feed me no-thought-required, easy watching programmes while my mind crumbles and erodes through the sheer lack of stimulation. I best be going now, I’m sure there’s a programme starting somewhere involving some kind of law enforcement and/or law-breaker to hold my dwindling interest at least until the next advert break.
We are all familiar with the monumentally successful book series Harry Potter and the subsequent film adaptations which have captured the hearts and minds of children and adults alike since the late nineties.
What you may not know is that, with every release bringing more and more notoriety and the possibility to make some serious wizarding moolah, an almost infinite series started being planned, keeping Harry and his friends in a never-ageing, never-changing magical stasis, while each new title flew off the shelves to the sound of cash registers ringing. The idea was eventually scrapped however, as Rowling realised how much of a contradiction minefield the fictional world would create and was in a meeting with Bloomsbury, was quoted to have said, ‘Fuck that!’
Here at TPCA however, we have managed to unearth a shocking list containing just some of the hundreds of provisional titles that were being held in consideration for this new look, leviathan book series. We must warn you, it is clear that attitudes towards the nation’s beloved wizard had taken a turn for the worse, presumably as a result of the constant media storm surrounding Rowling and the imminent release of the film adaptations. Some are vicious, others just plain lazy, and some, well they’re just absurd.
So here, finally available for public viewing, is the forgotten list:
Harry Potter and the Effervescing Elf
Harry Potter and the Vandellas
Harry Potter and the Half-Pound Mince
Harry Potter and the Sartorial Disaster
Harry Potter and the Wizarding Occurrence
Harry Potter and the Ghost/Werewolf/Bad Wizard
Harry Potter and the Time Shit Got Real
Harry Potter in the Hood
Harry Potter and the Time He Didn’t Win
Harry Potter and the Disappointing Ending
Harry Potter and the Blood Test Mystery
Harry Potter Goes To Washington
Harry Potter up The Khyber
Harry Potter and Ron’s Dad: An Unlikely Team
Harry Potter and the Need to Prove Himself
Harry Potter and the Penetrative Sex Scene
Harry Potter and the Satisfying Toilet Read
Harry Potter and the Rehashed Plot
Harry Potter and the Muggle Genocide
Harry Potter and the Trip to Alton Towers
Harry Potter Sings the Classics
Harry Potter and the Hate Crime
Harry Potter and the Band of Nerds
Harry Potter and the Suggestive Robes
Harry Potter and His Merry Men
Harry Potter and the Spiked Drink
Harry Potter and the Incredible Likeness of Being
Harry Potter and the Victimless Crime
Harry Potter and the Wand Fest
Harry Potter and the Overzealous Friend
Harry Potter and the Crushing Weight of Expectation
Harry Potter and the Legend of Ron
Harry Potter and the Exile of Ron
Harry Potter and the Seducing of Ron
Harry Potter and the Long, Drawn Out Affair
Harry Potter and the Inevitable Film Adaptation
Harry Potter and the Wizard’s Sleeve
Harry Potter and the Dorm Room Diaries
Harry Potter and the Scandalous Revelation
Harry Potter and the Troubled Boy Comes Good Storyline
Harry Potter and the Unerring Lack of Emotion
Harry Potter and the Taciturn Hand
Harry Potter and the Steroids
Harry Potter and the Burning
Harry Potter and the Inexplicable Reliance on Owls
Harry Potter and the Complete Reading of ‘King Lear’
Harry Potter and the Surprising Omission of English, Maths and Science from the Syllabus
Harry Potter and the Massive Bereavement
Harry Potter and the Banana Hammock
Harry Potter: Neville’s Story
Harry Potter: Hedwig’s Revenge
Harry Potter and the Dutch Rudder
Harry Potter and the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe
Harry Potter and the Silly Dog
Harry Potter and the Never ending whimsical magic shenanigans
Harry Potter and the Mystery of Ron’s Face
Harry Potter and the Yay or Nay List
Harry Potter and the Viagra Potion Calamity
Harry Potter and the Statutory Rape Trial
Harry Potter and the Chastised Boggart
Harry Potter and the Underwhelming Performance
Harry Potter and the Crippling Adolescence
Harry Potter and the Straight to TV Movie
Harry Potter Unwavering Erection
Harry Potter: My Perfect Sunday
So there you go. The shocking list of unused book titles from an abandoned money spinning scheme. We believe that this list has barely scratched the surface and that there hundreds more just like it, hidden away from the public. It is our duty to uncover the truth and expose what might have been to the world. If anyone manages to dig out one of these lists of shame, please contact us and we will publish to the world this near literary travesty.
Thank you for reading and please get in touch.
Music is one of the most powerful forces in modern culture. A soundtrack to life, accentuating highs and lows, elation and sorrow and providing that extra tug on the heartstrings whenever reality fails to satisfy. This knowledge of the raw power of music has been readily accepted by television; and none more so, than the creators of South Park. Yes that’s right, you might not have thought it from the opening statement, but here is the top 5 musical works by Pop Cult Assault idols; Trey Parker and Matt Stone. And just in case you were worried, of course there will be videos.
5. Baseketball – The Car Song: Everyone gets that feeling once in a while where a song comes on the radio or your mp3 player and it just perfectly sums up the feelings you have at the time. Well in this instance, the relevance of the music in Trey Parker’s car goes a little bit further than most. As well as the super-personal lyrics, the song also perfectly encapsulates that moment in all terrible films when the protagonist thinks about giving up and everything starts becoming too much and then they receive a pep talk from a wizened old man or close friend. Luckily, this protagonist had his radio on otherwise he could have missed his life affirming rallying call and the whole film would have been about forty-five minutes long!
4. South Park: The Movie – Up There: Well where to start with this one? How about that this heart wrenching ballad of loneliness and longing is sung by the devil? Or the fact that said devil is slight doppelgänger of George Michael? Or how about that the entire score for this film including such timeless classics as ‘Uncle Fucka’ and ‘Kyle’s Mom is a Big Fat Bitch’ has won numerous gongs and had been nominated for many more? In fact, if it wasn’t for Phil Collins of all people, the song ‘Blame Canada’ would have won an Oscar! For me though it is this song that stands out the most, it’s easily the most overblown (this normally constitutes greatness in my eyes) of the bunch, and the juxtaposition of Satan, and his incredibly homo-erotic dream of life above ground is just mind-blowing. You’ll think you’ve been enjoying the song though, but wait until 1:33 when Satan gets down with his bad self and takes it to the next level.
3. South Park –Somewhere, Out There: Have you ever stopped and thought to yourself: If a penis could sing, what would it sound like? I know we’ve all been stuck with this quandary but thankfully South Park yet again provide the answer. In a heartfelt duet with a runaway mouse, Mr(s) Garrison’s genetically engineered… erm…johnson opens up (gross) and showers the audience (sick) with a golden (this is too easy) voiced rendition of the ‘American Tail’ hit. Now in Disney films we’ve seen some strange duet partners, like a candlestick for example, (not really sure what happened there) but I’ve haven’t seen a penis being made to sing since that one really weird party I went to a few years back, but you don’t want to hear about that! Anyway I’m getting off topic, if you want the answer to what a penis sounds like when it sings, the answer in this instance is…slightly like Stevie Nicks.
2: South Park and Team America – Montage Song: The song so good they used it twice. I’m not sure how they do it, but Parker and Stone’s ability to completely sum up and ridicule huge sections of popular culture in a few short lines is a joy to behold, and this time their victim is the constant stream of recycled action/sport films which insist on re-using the same exhausted script over and over again and cramming it into the heads of the foolish cinema goers.
It’s got to the point where I now feel that in order to achieve anything in life like getting a new job, or learning a new language, I’m going to have to get my ass down the gym and learn some hard-hitting truths while lifting consecutively heavier weights. So here it is anyway, a toast to the hugely clichéd montage which hopefully will spell the end of the ever-present, unerring, terrible action/film script.
1: Orgazmo – Now You’re a Man: If I made a list titled greatest songs of all time, this would still be number one. From this mock-action film comes a theme tune which acknowledges the rules of tough guy film music and twists them into a hilarious blend of hyperbole, epic rock, base level humour, and pop culture satire. Also, as a little added bonus, I can’t help hearing a bit of Metallica as Trey Parker powers his way through this track. As a warning, after hearing this song, it may well be stuck in your head for the foreseeable future so remember, shouting ‘No it’s probably the titties!’ in your best James Hetfield voice, is not acceptable, unless the other person has heard the song and then they’ll just think you’re the coolest kid in town!
So that’s it, I hope you enjoy my list. I’m sure there could be quite a lot of debate around this one so any comments are welcome. Enjoy!
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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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: