Friday, 30 July 2010

BBC cuts - let's not be foxed, we want real reasons

Right, the BBC - for or against? More specifically, BBC cuts - wotcha thinking? I'm going to nail my colours to the mast right away and say that I am enormously pro BBC. I love it, I want it to stay, it provides the vast majority of what I watch and listen to on TV and radio, I would consider it a blow to British culture if it was to go or be reduced in any way. So, I'm unequivocal.

So much so that I joined in with a sea of like-minded souls recently and emailed my MP with my concerns after Jeremy Hunt spoke of the proposed cuts to the licence fee. The reasons for this 'proposal' (thinly veiled threat to some) is that the BBC needed to "demonstrate the very constrained financial situation we are now in". Which at first glance, second glance and in fact with every glance so far, begs the question, why? How does cutting the licence fee directly help with the deficit? As far as I can make out, it doesn't but this doesn't stop Hunt and my MP from carefully wording it so that it sort of appears that it does.

But it's really doing no more than demanding that the BBC removes its hat when the funeral procession goes past. Fair enough in some respects but is this really the government's business? Are they here to piously observe the Beeb's manners? And given that they are making such a big noise about the economic state of the country, shouldn't they be getting on with something a little more productive?

I'm not blind to the BBC's faults and in fact agree that they've had way too many 'let them eat cake' moments over last few years. Paying outrageous salaries to the big wigs and some ill-judged broadcasts meant that they made themselves seem both arrogant and flippant - and to the fans amongst us wincing through our fingers, positively self basting . But it musn't be forgotten that the BBC is unique in the level of its scrutiny as a public broadcaster. Its private sector rivals wouldn't fare so well if the spot light were upon them but can rest easy that it's unlikely to have to endure it.

Another, and arguably more severe criticism, would be the criminalising of those who find themselves unable to pay for their licence. It does seem unfair on the very poorest in society and I'm not sure that, worst case scenario, a prison sentence could possibly be justified for something so trivial. But I similarly cannot see that £4 a week is beyond the reach of the vast majority of people. For entertainment, that's excellent value. Less than a bottle of wine, less than hiring a DVD, less than the starter at most restaurants. As issues go, I'm sure this is solvable without resorting to diminishing the BBC in general.

So given that we, the 'all sorts' of Britain, pay for a licence, the BBC is left in the very difficult position of having to juggle catering for all tastes (being populist) with being innovative and creative (lavish costume dramas mainly). Something I think it does rather well - Doctor Who seems to straddle both comfortably. Much as I may loath Total Wipeout, I don't consider it to be the be all and end all of their output and am happy to pretend it doesn't exist while I patiently wait to tune into the next installment of Sherlock or Just a Minute.

One of the points that my MP copied and pasted (I saw someone else had received an identical email) to me was his intention to ensure that cuts were not "capricious or wilfully damaging" but that he would also "support choices that return the BBC to its supposed guiding doctrine of 'Reithianism'". I agree. But whether a bias exists or not should be a matter for a truly independant body to decide. Who knows, maybe the BBC could emerge as one of the most impartial news broadcasters we have. And maybe the government may come across as having a somewhat petty and vindictive agenda. Maybe.

Of course, one of the main platforms that they have chosen to inform the public of their proposals is the BBC, who on this occasion have interpreted Reithian values as not making wanker hand-gestures behind Tory MPs when they're not looking. The whole spectacle has somewhat reminded me of the ungracious rudeness encouraged in Come Dine With Me. You know, that Channel 4 crap.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Shut up and get to my point

Seeing as watching David Mitchell talk about cunnilingus on That Mitchell and Webb Look blew up my set top box (this is not a euphemism, it actually happened) it looks like I'm going to have to blog for my entertainment this evening. 

And what could be more entertaining than writing about how I'm never wrong. Yes, that's right, I'm never wrong. Well, not according to other people anyway. Otherwise they would stick to the points or arguments I raise and not rely on hysterical diversions and departures to give them something to say, wouldn't they? 

Yeah, you do know what I mean. I'm talking about those instances when you say something like "I'm not actually opposed to immigration as a whole" and it somehow gets translated into "I'm oblivious to your situation, your life and your feelings. Please correct me in the most indignant manner possible because I'm an idiot for not talking about your circumstances in fine point detail". 

I can only assume that such people are in awe of my flawless logic and reasoning, left to scrabble around in the remains of the debate, trying to pick up scraps where they can find them. Pity the poor fools as they feed on morsels of hyperbole and misunderstanding for survival. I literally rock. 

Except I don't of course. Even the most cursory glance over my life will tell you that I am wrong 99% of the time so why the need to veer so far off the point in the first place? Why are people so incapable of listening and engaging? (And succinctly gunning down my argument, at which point I do actually shut up.)

Self-importance would be one answer. There's nothing like the thrill people get when approaching a chance to crap on about themselves, particularly if it means recounting tales of woe. The whole world doesn't understand them and you become its representative. Or at least you would be if you were listening. In reality all you can do is wonder whether to punch them or appease them. 

Another likely answer is that many people are only capable of holding a single concept in their minds at a time. They'll pluck out one aspect of what you said, attach a personal experience or viewpoint and then run with it. Whatever else you mentioned is a mere dot on the horizon by the time they've finished. Although I'm sure it can hear them shouting. 

But this is incredibly dumb isn't it? Most things in life are complex and variable. Even if your pesky opposition is right in what they say, it's hardly an achievement if you fail to include all other relevant facts or opinions. It's like boasting about building a house and then becoming ridiculously proud of having just one brick. 

My last stab at understanding would be that, particularly on internet forums and comments sections, binary thinking is often favoured. You're right or wrong, good or bad, left or right, in agreement or not. No shades of grey exist. If there's a system of rating or recommending comments on a site, check it out, you'll see how swayed readers are by this type of thinking. If ever there were a reason for keeping your opinions to yourself, you'll find it online. 

Friday, 9 July 2010

Maintaining the right to feel annoyance

I have mentioned my terrible neighbours before and will continue to do so because they refuse to go away. But I haven't mentioned the Friday night pest as yet I don't think. 

If I was to say to you that I really hate the sound of people laughing you'd think I was a meany old misanthrope. But if I was to say that my neighbour upstairs and her friends were like a bunch of cackling Essex girls* at happy hour in Ibiza would you sympathise and feel I had cause to be annoyed? My point is, I'm not horrible, I'm literally being forced to dislike these people! 

*I actually hail from Essex and so can indulge in stereotyping. 

Monday, 5 July 2010

Talking of stupidity... there ever a better time to tell how stupid someone is than when they're trying to be clever? I'm a prime example of this of course, but I'm not on this blog to talk about myself *ahem*(I totally am).

But what is the real acid test for you? Here's mine:

Purple - trying to win "I'm the king of the castle" points against you for something that reflects on them. An old boss of mine once tried to get everyone to laugh at my crappy, pauper's car once. There's a reason why it was only once. 
Blue - genuinely believing that not being two-faced is more desirable than having tact, diplomacy and pleasant manners. 
Green - "I'm not racist but..."
Yellow - trying to pass off modern, daytime TV style claptrap as if it were your own little gem of  enlightenment - "you can't expect anyone else to love you until you love yourself", "I'm just being myself" and on and on. Sitting there with a look on your face like you're expecting to be treated like your generation's answer to Confucius won't swing it either. 
Red - laughing so loudly and incessantly - without a long enough gap to actually say anything funny in between - that your own (Freudian) id screams itself hoarse in desperation. These people are given to caring more that they are cool rather than clever, so I'm cheating.

Please, someone help my stupid neighbour

I am extremely concerned about my neighbour (the laughing policeman for those interested). He has been emitting the strangest, strangulated hoots for over an hour now and my unofficial diagnosis is that he is now hysterical due to being in the final stages of his stupidity consuming him whole. A sort of 'silly'fication if you will. The process has obviously reached his ears already because no mortal would be able to tolerate the sound of such thickery coming out of their own mouths without shutting up. 

If you have experience in working with such unfortunate people, or are just very big and very violent, please do all you can to put him out if his misery. And mine.