Dancing in the Twilight

•July 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

Earlier today, I was asked how one would go about creating a series of films with a loyal fanbase, such as Twilight. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series (owing to the fact you aren’t a 12 year old girl, which is what caused that kerfuffle with the police a few years back), allow me to break down the franchise for you.

Bella is a girl. She likes Edward, who is a boy, and played by Robert Pattinson. This is the story’s state of equilibrium and is something that teenagers do, alongside drinking Smirnoff Ice to look cool and stabbing people.

However, throwing some disruption into an otherwise straightforward narrative is the minor issue that Eddie happens to be a vampire. This rather restricts the boundaries of their relationship, causing Bella to mope around in a strop. Constantly. For three films (with two more currently in production).

It sounds absurd, but it is in fact a winning formula. The third installment has just opened in the US to an absurd amount of money, just six months after the last one scaled impressive heights. And as a mathematician (I got an A in GCSE maths in 2004, thus rendering me fully qualified), I decided to see if there was logic to the madness.

And you know what? There is.

Allow me to elaborate.

‘a’ = sulking teenagers. To a, we add (b-c), an independent sum of ‘b’ (Robert Pattinson) with the subtraction of ‘c’ (a shirt), and from the overall total we remove ‘d’ (any semblence of a plot). Therefore, a+(b-c)-d = x (commercial success).

x is of course equal to two units of ‘m,’ denoting ‘money.’ Rest assured; there is no relation to Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece.

From this, we can extrapolate the equation x multiplied ten times by the unit of ‘y’ (the installment number of the series, e.g. New Moon = 2), which is itself multiplied by ‘m’. We are thus left with a final overall equation:

A successful film franchise = 10my – s

‘s’, of course, denotes a sense of shame.

Twilight: Eclipse is released in the UK this Friday. I fully encourage you to go and see it, thus proving me completely right.


With or Without U2

•May 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Picture the scene; You are standing in a desolate wasteland. Supplies have run dry, sanitation has gone out the window; you have only a multipack of Doner Kebab Pot Noodles to get you through the next few days.

Yes. You are at Glastonbury.

It’s Friday night, and you’re stood beside The Other Stage, eagerly awaiting the presence of the Flaming Lips. You’ve made it to the end of the first day without passing out, getting stuck in the tyrannous mud, or having eaten properly since Wednesday. But you are there in the moment; the excitement of the crowd in these final minutes of anticipation before Wayne Coyne and company take to the stage, with their musical-visual extravaganza. You feel tired, lifeless; but you don’t care. You are in this moment, and it will forever be a part of you.

Then, you turn to your left, and the anticipation turns to dread. Beside you, you see a man with expensively styled hair. His name is Kevin, and Kevin is an estate agent. But this is not the most instantly repulsive thing about him, oh no. He is wearing a pink polo shirt.

You see, Kevin is an idiot. When he booked his Glastonbury ticket, he and his annoying chums opted to attend solely based on the three headliners; the legendary Stevie Wonder, the mind numbingly dull Muse, and that most musical of hideous abortions, U2.

When the announcement came through that U2 were forced to cancel their headline slot owing to grand master Bono injuring his back (as explained by Mark Thomas via his twitter account), Kevin was gutted. He only owned The Joshua Tree and their greatest hits collection, but by God he was planning on rocking out to the Edge’s blistering solos. Alas, for him, it was not to be.

And so, on this Friday night, Kevin decided to do something audacious. He picked up his expensive tub of hair wax, spruced up all good and proper, and ventured on the journey to one of Glastonbury’s smaller stages for an evening’s entertainment. A journey which culminates here, approximately 2 feet to your left.

Suddenly, your excitement towards seeing the Flaming Lips becomes subdued. They are due on stage in five minutes, but you can no longer work up the enthusiasm for them; instead, you are forced to listen to Kevin and his chums regaling the time that Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire came on in All Bar One, and Mike jumped onto a table, took off his tie, and sang along.

The band take to the stage. Several songs in, they perform Yeah Yeah Yeah Song. Kevin and his friends go mental, jumping around in each others’ arms, shouting “YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH” an insurmountable number of times. They do not know any of the other lyrics from this near five minute opus.

The band finish the song, and Kevin and friends woop incessantly. Their enthusiasm is at least forgivable, but they are proving themselves to be more and more irritating as time passes.

“These guys rock!” You hear one of the group shouting to his counterparts. You reach near breaking point, as the use of the word ‘rock’ in critical analysis ranks highly on the list of musical sins, just short of buying a Scouting for Girls album from HMV as a present for a friend, without buying a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album to prove to the pretty girl at the till that you do actually have some musical appreciation, and that you aren’t really a vacuum of taste.

You start to vent your frustration. You tut loudly. Those around you look at you, feeling your pain. You are united against the estate agent army in spirit, though physical action would be frowned upon under the Glastonbury code of being nice to each other.

But then, you reach breaking point. Just as the band tear into their 2002 single Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt 1, you witness something unforgivable. Kevin raises his hand, and uses it to form a symbol of such musical ineptitude that you are forced to take action; Kevin raises devil horns.

Enraged, you lose control. You furiously march over to Kevin and tap him on the shoulder. He turns around, and you are no longer yourself. You do the one thing that can restore decency to this God forsaken set of circumstances, and punch him squarely in the jaw. You injure a finger in the process, but you don’t care. He falls to the ground, and you return to your spot. Those around you applaud your audacity, and offer you drinks by way of gratitude. Kevin crawls back to the tent, allowing everyone to become immersed in the musical moment once again. All is right with the world.

Unfortunately, this will be a common occurrence at this year’s Glastonbury. The 60,000 estate agents who would have gone to see U2 will no longer be huddled together in one easily avoidable space, as was the purpose of their booking, and forced to venture out into the festival’s unknown. In fact, the only winners of Bono’s bad back will be viewers of the BBC’s coverage, who will now be spared the sight of the shades-clad one.

So spare a thought next month for all those music fans whose weekend will be ruined, ironically, by the lack of U2.

The Story of Simon Cowell.

•November 17, 2009 • 1 Comment

Once upon a time in the land of Independent Televisionia 1, there lived a little orange man called Simon Cowell.

Simon was a music mogul, and a judge on an alarmingly popular TV talent contest. Every week, he would show off his trademark nastiness to its contestants. “You were rubbish,” he would cry! The members of the public stupid enough to watch would either laugh in agreement, or boo at him in anger.

But one week, Simon encountered something that, until then, he could never have imagined in the very worst of his nightmares. Before him stood what could only be explained as the result of chemical warfare-gone-wrong; two blonde identiclones with hair that defied gravity, who went by the names John and Edward. Together, they were ‘John and Edward.’

Simon despised them for their talents, or lack thereof. After a particularly dreadful rendition of Ricky Martin’s She Bangs in which they failed to remain in tune with each other – let alone the music – he publicly labelled them ‘the two horrors.’ Counting had always been his forté.

Unbeknownst to him, there was a movement stirring within the viewing public. For while many watched this weekly debacle with eager anticipation, there were a growing number who were increasingly irritated at the way the manufacturing process of the music industry was becoming so easily accepted by so many. Some were merely infuriated by the unnecessary key change added to the horrendous cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, released by the previous year’s winner at the hands of the powerful orange one. And thus began the uprising.

Many began voting for John and Edward via the phone-ins out of sheer spite for Cowell. They believed that affording them a real chance of winning the contest would upset him, and show up the programme to the masses for the debauchery that it was.

Week after week, they voted in their droves and Cowell became progressively more and more upset. During one edition, he even attempted to stop the backlash by proclaiming to have actually enjoyed their performance of the Ghostbusters theme. But even this didn’t stop the movement from growing.

Tired, dejected and miserable, Simon gave up his attempt to quash John and Edward’s supporters, and accepted the inevitable; he would be forced to record and release an album for the talentless creatures. He was not very happy.

And so it came to pass that John and Edward won the sixth edition of The X Factor. The campaigners had done it! They danced in the streets and made their joy known to one and all; for they had defeated the mighty music machine.

Poor Simon returned home and wept at the public’s decision. The same public he had served for years, providing them with artists such as Robson and Jerome. He felt used, betrayed and abandoned.

But then he remembered that his production company, SycoTV, received a massive cut of the phone-in profits, which ran into millions of pounds. So he stopped giving a shit.

The end.

Oh, God…

•August 30, 2009 • 1 Comment

A few days ago, I came up with some absurd ideas for television shows that could replace Big Brother. This wasn’t one of them.

I am actually speechless.

The End of an Error

•August 26, 2009 • 2 Comments

Rejoice! It was announced this morning that Channel 4 will not be renewing Big Brother when their contract with Endemol expires next year – and it really will signify the end of an era.

The show that has single-handedly caused the demise of quality television and allowed the sight of idiots shouting at each other to be deemed ‘entertainment’ is finally coming to an end, but will leave a four month gap in Channel 4’s heavily Big Brother-orientated schedules. It awaits to be seen how they choose to fill the void, but here are my ideas and suggestions for some inevitable hits:

Four D-list celebrities and Big Brother housemates compete simultaneously in front of a studio audience to commit the showiest suicide live on air. Viewers at home get to join in by hitting the red button and choosing whose demise to watch, and the bereaved relatives of the celeb with highest viewing figures win a caravan. Hosted by Vernon Kay, for an added sense of self-loathing.

Cheap and easy to make, Phone-In consists purely of two premium rate phone numbers charged at £1.50 a minute, displayed on a title card for an hour. The phone number that receives the most calls wins, and goes on to face a different phone number next week. Admittedly, this is more likely to fall within ITV’s remit.

Like Come Dine with Me, but for bastards. Four brides attend each others’ weddings and attempt to ruin their magic day by awarding points and complaining about everything including the dress, food and relatives using a xenophobic array of insults. The bride who awards points the most tactically to the others wins a free honeymoon.

Oh, hang on…

Danny Dyer fronts an hour where six of his best mock-cockney mates attempt to discover which of them is the ‘ardest by taking it in turns to beat him up. This will always end in a tie, and require a re-match in the following week’s episode, forcing the series to continue until the coming apocalypse.

Twelve wannabe models and irritating tosspots are dropped off on a desert island where they must survive for three months on a bare minimum of sand and water. Every week, somebody is voted off by the viewing public, and subsequently sacrificed and eaten by the remaining contestants. The series’ eventual winner receives a lifetime of free counselling.

A single camera stares at an empty room, 24 hours a day. Absolutely nothing happens, but millions tune in out of sheer curiosity, gripped to their television set and awaiting an insect to pass the screen so that they can complain about it to Points of View.

Each week, an attractive but insecure twenty-something female is forcibly shown photoshopped pictures of actresses and glamour models, and repeatedly shouted at for being ugly by Amanda Platell in an attempt to make her break down and cry on television. If scheduled correctly, she can then be whisked to the studio next door and appear on Celebrity Suicide.

Every home in Britain is forced to have a camera attached to their freeview box, and spends an hour watching a random stranger live their life, eat their food and scratch their balls. Meanwhile, another complete stranger watches you doing the same thing, and a chain is formed around the country. It’s simple but compelling, though it is limited to a lifespan of 60 million episodes.

Endemol put out a casting call for their latest show, billed as the NEXT BIG BROTHER, and require half a million idiots to send in audition tapes. The show is subsequently cancelled, but the audition tapes are broadcast in full to accurately display the level of idiocy this country has to offer. This will also be the first show beamed into space, serving as a warning against any potential alien races not to bother visiting.

The sad truth is that several of these are probably already in development. But the fact remains that with the demise of Big Brother, things really are looking up. The reality TV bubble is finally starting to burst, and maybe – just maybe – we might see a return of the thought-provoking and well-rounded documentaries this abortion of a show killed off.

A Dark Day for Quality Broadcasting

•June 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

Earlier today, culture secretary Ben Bradshaw outlined plans to share part of the TV licence fee with ITV – a proposal that couldn’t be any more shambolic if it tried.

ITV is supposed to be an independently funded broadcaster. As such, it is supposed to deal with any funding shortfalls via its own means – and that includes the £5.7 million fine incurred from the phone-in scandals.

It doesn’t help that the BBC is still in a somewhat vulnerable position after the non-stop harassment of the Daily Mail – a.k.a. Sachsgate – when the choice daily paper of right-wing nutjobs blew everything out of proportion. They launched a tirade against the corporation and the licence fee, claiming moral outrage, and felt smug as they watched the media circus come to town. As a result, anything the BBC does now comes under rigorous scrutiny.

The plans outlined stated that any funding taken from the licence fee would be spent on public service broadcasting, the result being that ITV Local News could see itself handed £130m from the BBC’s budget. Success, it seems, for the Mail’s campaign.

Except it’s actually a much bigger victory than you might think. All of ITV’s news output is provided by ITN, which is privately owned. Whilst ITV hold the largest share, the Daily Mail themselves own a 20% stake, and would actually benefit if the plans went ahead.

Now let me make this clear – I’m an avid supporter of the TV Licence fee. The BBC is a unique institution that this country is privileged to have, in that it provides creative content without fear of having to keep shareholders happy. It can actually take risks on daring shows that might not necessarily work without fear of losing advertising revenue. Things such as Blue Planet, State of Play and The Office, all of which are almost unanimously loved, but could never have been commissioned by another broadcaster.

For an independent network whose output consists almost solely of reality shows and talent contests to be given a massive amount of public service funding to help cover the cost of its own mistakes would be utterly outrageous, especially given the agenda of those involved.

If the proposals go ahead, then quality broadcasting faces a very dark future indeed.

SunTalking out of your Arse.

•April 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Jon Gaunt is an obnoxious prick.

Here’s the legal disclaimer. This isn’t a scientifically proven fact (though fret not, they’re working on it), but rather my own personal opinion.

Ergo, I’m exhibiting free speech.

On Monday, The Sun – everybody’s favourite children’s magazine – launched it’s very own online radio station, SunTalk. Billed as the “home of free speech,” Gaunt is fronting their daily three-hour dose of right-wing drivel.

Gaunt was fired from TalkSport in 2008 for calling a councillor a “Nazi” when he defended plans to stop smokers from becoming foster parents with some silly notion about ‘not wanting them to die.’ To be fair, it’s only a short step from imposing a fascist regime and exterminating six million people in cold blood.

Gaunty (as his moronic followers call him) spent the station’s inaugural hour speaking to David Cameron. To his credit, it was no mean feat given how far up Cameron’s bottom he’d managed to lodge his tongue, constantly referring to him as “Prime Minister,” and generally making clear his political stance. So much for Ofcom’s impartiality rules.

But therein lies the problem – Ofcom can’t touch them. As an internet-only broadcaster on a website belonging to a news organization, SunTalk answers to the Press Complaints Commission. It’s something Gaunt keeps proudly banging on about, as it means anybody can say what they like and there will be no repercussions. Take that, glaring face of government oppression!

Except everyone involved seems to have misunderstood what ‘free speech’ actually means. The British people are not oppressed, and anybody in the UK can criticise what the government does without fear of repercussions. That is freedom of speech, unlike in Zimbabwe where being openly critical of those in charge could very well cost you your life. It most certainly is not an excuse to air your ignorant right-wing views.

But let’s roll with it. An hour after he’d left the studio, an older-sounding gentleman phoned in with the view that Cameron hadn’t said enough about the elderly. Great! Only a few hours in, and SunTalk gets its first opportunity for a full-on political debate!

“I disagree,” said Gaunty, before accusing the caller of giving misinformation and promptly cutting him off.

Now ignoring the irony involved of The Sun accusing somebody of ‘misinformation,’ it seems you’re only allowed to express your opinion on the condition that you agree with those in charge – which is exactly what their whole imaginary crusade is supposed to be fighting against!

Ultimately, the station is probably harmless. For the most part, it’s just Sun columnists blabbering on about nonsense in their usual way – one of them expressed their opinion that the government shouldn’t have bailed out the banks, but the football clubs instead. But given it’s only accessible via their website, it should hopefully do nothing more than preach to those already converted.

Though ultimately, everyone involved needs to realise that just because you bang on about ‘free speech,’ it doesn’t give you license to talk out of your arse.