Stuff & Nonsense #1189

-> And I used to be a citizen
-> I never felt the pressure
-> I knew nothing of the horses
-> Nothing of the thresher
-> Paulo, take me with you

And I used to be a citizen

I never felt the pressure

“The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci once wrote that to make a revolution in a western democracy, you have to understand that the the elite system does not rely primarily on the state to defend itself.

You can take the state, said Gramsci: but capital has line after line of trenches and fortifications beyond it.

He meant the churches, the media, the royal family and its opaque political powers, the legal system, the ideas in our heads, and ultimately the very institutions workers themselves created: trade unions corrupted by proximity to management; political parties corrupted by proximity to power.

When you watch how Corbyn’s leadership has had to operate it becomes obvious where the final defence line of the 1% is dug: it is inside the Labour Party. In fact physically it is somewhere between Corbyn’s office in the Norman Shaw building at Westminster and Labour HQ on Victoria Street.”

Paul Mason

I knew nothing of the horses

“Increasingly, there is reason to doubt the wisdom of handing a former biscuit executive the keys to Wembley. A plausible boardroom operator Glenn might be, but at the level of injecting pizzazz and élan into an England set-up in a chronic state of denial, he is sorely lacking.

While head of United Biscuits, he offered plenty of management bromides about the art of leadership, not least the need for authenticity and marketing acumen. So far, his tenure at the FA is becoming mired in the same corporate abstractions, outwardly slick but spiritually hollow.

… He did not need a consultation exercise to spell out the soullessness of the enterprise, for it was there in plain sight: the vapid answers of players media-trained to within an inch of their sanity, the transformation of their training grounds into a quasi-military encampment, the alleged complaint that the duvets at their £500-a-night hotel in Chantilly were not fluffy enough.

They were so pathetically mollycoddled that grown men could not even give a straight answer about their in-house darts competitions or their cuddly lion mascot, Kit.

It had been the same at the World Cup in Brazil, where the FA press department banned two journalists for supposed espionage, as if Roy Hodgson’s experiment with James Milner at right-back was on a par with the nuclear codes. It is the FA, not the media, who have programmed players to act like automatons, incapable of independent thought, fit only to be swept silently through mixed zones inside the cocoon of their Beats by Dre headphones.”

Oliver Brown

Nothing of the thresher

If we take out the network content, just £98m of Scottish viewers’ £320m is spent on actual Scottish programming. And what that means is that if Scotland were to be independent, the BBC would suddenly have a £222m hole in its budget. The loss of Scottish licence fees would take a 6% bite out of the broadcaster’s coffers, at a time when its finances are already under severe pressure. (The licence fee hasn’t increased since 2010.)

The rest of the UK would still expect Question Time and Newsnight and The Weakest Link and all the other shows currently “made” in Scotland to be produced and broadcast in the event of Scottish independence, so that would be a very real loss.

(The actual size of it would be slightly smaller than £222m, as Scotland would very likely want to buy in BBC programming. But we know that the market cost of that is more in the region of £20m, still leaving a £200m shortfall.)

And what that means is that the BBC has a large and direct vested interest in Scotland staying in the UK. The Corporation wouldn’t allow someone with a £200m interest in anything to appear onscreen as a neutral voice, but it pretends that it’s doing exactly that itself.”

Rev. Stuart Campbell

Paulo, take me with you

The trailer for the new Jason Bourne film progresses much as you might expect. There is running over roofs. There is jumping through windows. There are tense stares in secret government bunkers.

And there is gruff, urgent dialogue: Matt Damon says things like: “This is Jason Bourne”, and “I know who I am”, and “I remember everything”. In the trailer, he delivers eight economical lines – which, it has emerged, is about a third of his total in the entire film.

… gagging your leading man is also increasingly expedient. Cinema uses speech less and less. Superman says 43 lines in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom Hardy grunts out 52. That’s three times what Ryan Gosling manages in Only God Forgives. The reasons are obvious. Later this year, China will overtake America as the biggest box office territory in the world. The tickets may be cheaper, but many more millions of people in that country are forking out for them. If you’re in Hollywood, the western world is no longer enough. In order for movies to turn a profit, not only do they need to conquer east Asia, but South America and all of Europe too.

Fill films with dialogue, and they risk getting lost in translation. That’s why universal visuals – aliens, explosions, snug-fitting swimwear – are prioritised over complicated banter. It’s also why potentially contentious moments are not spelt out, the better to muffle in dub should such a fudge be required. Star Trek Beyond and Independence Day: Resurgence, for instance, both feature same-sex relationships – but not quite consummated, not instantly recognisable as such if you were squinting. Translate coyly, and you could pass them off as bonds of family or friendship, not romance. That’s helpful in China, where any representation of homosexuality on screen is forbidden (likewise a depiction of the supernatural, which has pretty much kiboshed Ghostbusters’ chances).

It’s also why characters in mainstream movies now simply say less. The last thing any nervous producer wants is for their blockbuster to get banned because it brings up something dodgy. Better to spray a field full of pesticides than sow it with words that could sprout into hot potatoes.”

Catherine Shoard


– > Scott Walker | Farmer In The City


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