Monday, June 28, 2004

The third series of Bo Selecta on Channel 4 is a bit of a disappointment. This sketch "impersonation" programme pokes fun at celebrities by painting them as rough and sex-obsessed. There are some funny moments, but on the whole this is humour which hinges on the concept of 'difference': gay people, ginger people, blind people etc. It's done in that ironic sort of way which probably means that most people shouldn't feel allowed to be offended - but for me, it's a direct descendent of Bernard Manning. Take for example this season's development of the character of Mel B (Scary Spice). In the past 2 series, Mel B is depicted as a down-on-her-luck hasbeen, living on a rough council estate, desperate for a come-back, yet doomed to obscurity. In this series, Mel B is sharing a house with Patsy Kensit and the running joke is that she has a lesbian crush on her. It's the same every week. The obession with (non-heterosexual) sex just narrows things.

The programme also betrays its obession with "old" comedy by parodying a number of television shows that haven't had any new episodes made for a few decades: Porridge, Knight Rider, The Muppets, The Odd Couple and The 2 Ronnies - this makes me wonder who the "audience" of Bo Selecta is intended to be? Surely 30 and 40-somethings who would get the references won't appreciate this level of immaturity, whereas people in their teens and 20s are too young to remember these programmes? I think that alternative comedy has now come full-circle - it's almost back at exactly the same place it started from in the early 1970s. I look forward to series 4 of Bo Selecta, which will probably feature mother-in-law jokes, blacked up mistrels, stupid Irish people and large breasted women chasing people around in fast motion. Gah!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Scala sofa from Habitat is part of their "modular furniture" range. Each piece of impossibly expensive seating can be slotted together as the owner sees fit, creating a uniquely individual living experience. It's the first sofa I've ever owned where I can lie down flat on it. (It doesn't show up cat hair either - unlike my last sofa which I was a complete slave to).

On another unrelated, yet related note. I am so looking forward to the remake of The Stepford Wives.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Oh the horror! The horror that is Mr Gay UK. As "straight" society decides that beauty contests are a bit naff, the gay world embraces the concept even tighter to its pecs. This year you can submit your own photo and win a place in the final. Here are some of the "hopefuls":

Welcome to my exhausting world of addiction to prescription drugs.

Hiiiiiii! I'm mad I am! Vote for meeeeeeee! See ya!

My bottom's so sore from last night's "audition".

Join me in the duvet of lurve!

Are YOU my dealer? I NEED my dealer! Are you him? Get OUT!

I know - it's very cruel. I'm just like Gretchen from Mean Girls aren't I.

Big Brother 5 is more cartoonish and strangely addictive than in any previous year. My favourite "character" is Dan, who reminds me of Servalan from Blakes 7 - he's very Weimar Republic - all hand gestures, curled lip and bon mots. He's quite likeable, which for Big Brother is a new thing. Prototypical Hate Figure is the shrieking two headed monster that is Marco-Nadia. They both look like cast members of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Whereever Marco goes, he oozes a slimy trail of poison from behind him. Nadia meanwhile is a Pedro Almadovar film waiting to happen. Will she ever reveal her transsexual secret, or will she be overcome by the increasing number of "did you keep it in a pickle jar?" jokes?

I a fascinated by Vanessa's (Vinissa's) South African accent and her nice hair. If I were straight, she'd be the sort of girl I'd probably quite like to go to bed with. The male totty on the other hand is severely limited. Jason looks like something drawn by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics in a rush. I keep expecting him to announce he has special powers and can turn his huge hands into flaming boulders. Stuart (the straight A student) is the most inarticulate example of male youth I've ever seen. He talks like a rejected Dawson's Creek script - it's all like, you know. Those 4 As must have been in science subjects where your ability to express yourself properly is less central than doing a bit of maths. He deserves the Geordie female vamp(ire) Michelle. I hope she sucks every last bit of juice out of him.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The only man I'd ever become a stalker for

When I heard that Chris Isaak had his own sitcom I was kind of happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I've had a bit of a crush of him since he released Wicked Game in the early 90s (and I secretly still buy all of his albums) and sad because the idea of him selling his ass in some cheesy sitcom with a laugh-track annoyed me. Anyway, Channel 4 in their wisdom have been showing The Chris Isaak show on Saturday evenings, actually Sunday mornings at about 3am. Thanks to Tivo I have been watching it, and it's actually not that bad at all. Here's why:

  • There's no laugh track. Instead the sense of humour is quite subtle and "adult" bordering on dark. Obsessive fans, boob jobs, corpses etc.

  • Chris comes across as a genuinely nice chap who tries to do the right thing in the face of an insane world (give him 10 years and he'll be an old curmudgeon though). He doesn't live a wild rock and roll lifestyle and is very modest about his fame, or so the sitcom has us believe.

  • People are frequently horrible about him on the sitcom, saying his music is "VH1" etc. The poor man's too nice to bitch back at anyone, so he just looks hurt. Everyone borrows money from him too, and he just puts up with it. He's like a little puppy-dog in the big bad world.

  • Unlike his cd covers, you get to see Chris from all angles - and even though his quiff is thinning just a little bit and his nose is a bit pointy from certain positions, he's still lovely.

  • There's a weird naked mermaid lady who appears in a fish tank via an optical illusion with mirrors - and she gives Chris advice in each episode. Inspired.

  • Chris's manager/publicist Yola is completely neurotic and I love her.
  • Tuesday, June 08, 2004

    One of my continual carps is that I live in a boring small city that doesn't have a Starbucks or a Habitat yet. Admittedly, the bit which I live in is quite upmarket - all of the houses are practically mansions and have their own stupid names like "Lorien" and "Raffles". However, I sometimes crave the buzz of city life.

    Fortunately, all that has now been firmly laid to rest after I spent the weekend at the Midland Hotel in Manchester. The Midland Hotel is a huge, slightly run-down yet still very ornate and grand building which also has the dubious status of being the first place where Posh Spice and David Beckham first had sex (I looked for suspicious stains but didn't find any). After making use of the mini-bar, room-service, the hotel health club and the hotel film channel (Freaky Friday rather than Hot Susie XXX - why do hotels never have gay porn?) I decided it was time for bed. But that's when every drunk person in Manchester decided to stand outside the hotel and scream for eight solid hours. I got to sleep at 4 in the morning and was then woken by men digging up the road at 8. So that's it with me wanting to live in the city. I'll stick to having squirrels and hoity toity old ladies who look down on me as neighbours from now on. At least they're quiet.

    Tuesday, June 01, 2004

    What team do you support?

    Suddenly I keep seeing little "England" flags sticking out of the window of every other car. It's that boring football time of year again, when grown men reveal their inner idiots and terms like "banal nationalism" and "imagined community" that I gleaned from teaching Cultural Studies a few years ago start to echo in my ears like a hollow chant.

    I hate football (and everything it stands for). Always have. Always will. It's a tale I'm sure you're familar with: picked last at school for teams. Spent the whole lesson on the sidelines gossiping with queeny gay pupil who smoked. Never really learnt the rules or understood what the excitement was about. Never went to a football match. Watched in disgust as drunk adult men made arseholes of themselves in shopping precincts on Saturday afternoons. Theorised that men watching other men in shorts running around was a) all about repressed homophobia b) a poor substitute for sending all the chavies off to war as would have happened in earlier centuries c) simply about exploiting the working-classes by over-charging them for crap replica shirts and season tickets d) so ironic that "fans" tend to be fat loser Delta-males who's idea of exercise is stretching for the remote control.

    Most hateful at the moment is the way that other brands try to leech off the pleb popularity of football - beer and coke being particular culprits. Whoever thought up the "mini-fridge" emblazoned with football/lager motifs and large enough to sit by the side of the sofa so that Fat Blobby Fan doesn't have to shift his arse from the seat and miss a split second of the onscreen "action" should be strangled with their own gold chain.

    However, this year's most naff nefarious football related advertising campaign is from Mars (who let's face it, have never really got it right - "A Mars a Day makes you work rest and play?" More like "A Mars a Day makes Obesity just a second away.") Their current advertising campaign denotes quality of life as being "The Match. A Beer. A Good View". Words fail me. Hate overload.....

    There. I feel much better now. Much better.