Crime Against (Supposed) Crime.

Please explain to me WHY so many people seem to be so anti-BBC?

Is it because people believe it to be a monster? Do people deem it too big for its boots? Do people believe there’s a lack of quality programming? Is it the whole Ross/Brand “Sachsgate” scandal? Are BBC bosses and controllers overpaid? Are BBC entertainers overpaid?

The debate arose again last night as I was listening to radio station LBC and Clive Bull. He started to talk about the TV licence. More to the point, trying to see if he was able to talk to one of the reported 200,000+ people that evade paying their TV licence. This figure has increased in the last financial year and he wanted to eke out whether it was purely financial reasons as to why people were no longer willing to pay their TV licence or whether something more underlying was accounting for TV licence dodging.

Clive wanted to know whether there was anyone out there happy to pay their TV licence. If it had not been so late at night and I was not so shy to make the call, I would have called in to say “me”! I WANT to pay my TV licence, because I can see what I’m getting for my money.

One man called in to say that he didn’t pay his TV licence as he no longer watched any live TV. He used his television to watch DVD’s via his DVD player. So cautious was he to evade getting grievance from the TV licensing body, that he severed his coaxial cable from the aerial on his roof. Clive pointed out that this move would be unlikely to be enough as the man’s TV would still have a tuner within it and therefore the ability to receive live television. That what the man would need to have is a computer monitor with no TV tuner within the screen.

So the man says “Right. This is where I am confused. So even though I don’t actually watch live television, because I have a TV with a tuner, I can still be deemed to be breaking the law?” Yes, says Clive. “Oh”, says the man “but that’s unfair and unclear”. In my mind I was thinking “Well, to avoid confusion or potential prosecution, I suggest you buy an LCD monitor with no tuner”, which Clive sort of went on to say himself. The man finished his conversation with Clive by saying “I’m quite anti-BBC really, but I do like their news web site. So if I’m on there and I see a link that says “watch now”, I’m breaking the law if I watch the clip?” Yes, says Clive.

The fact that the man begrudgingly confessed to using some BBC content wasn’t enough for him to think “Well, you know, maybe I should pay my TV licence?” Melon!

Do these people not think of the content that is provided to them for what amounts to 38p a day? That’s the price of a Kit-Kat! So, for the price of a Kit-Kat a day, you get advertisement free TV across eight BBC TV channels, a multitude of radio stations, including the BBC World Service. You have access to the wonderful BBC iPlayer (a chance to catch missed programmes via an online service that allows you to watch and download TV programmes and listen to radio shows for one week after original broadcast). You have online content via bbc.co.uk, including a news web site that is second to none. You also get a wealth of stunning programmes from documentaries, to drama. A lot of my favourite programmes are produced by the BBC including Doctor Who and Torchwood.

How on earth can you argue with getting that amount of content for 38p a day?!

There are so many who argue why they should pay a TV licence when they are on something like Sky. Get some perspective! Sky charges MORE for its basic service at £16.50 a month (and who, quite frankly gets Sky for its basic package? No one!), which is NOT advertisement free for that cost of subscription either, than the TV licence does. And with Sky’s basic package you are getting LESS content. Why anyone would pay to have Sky is beyond me!

Please! For those people who are hell bent on BBC bashing, please stop and think about what we have here in this country. A multimedia service that is revered around the world for providing quality and excellence and costs us all (well, those who pay it) a Kit-Kat a day.

Clive asked last night “So if people aren’t paying their TV licence, what are the consequences? I can see the consequences of people not paying car insurance, premiums go up. Does this mean TV licence dodgers will make the TV licence go up? What *ARE* the consequences?”

Well, surely the consequences would be programming and services will suffer. That perhaps something like Doctor Who would not have been put back on the screen, and certainly not with the love and financial backing it has received to make it more popular than ever.

The BBC news site would just be like some other ramshackle news site where you have to tread through mud to see content that is most relevant to you.

Things like the BBC Action Line would get cut. It’s there for people who may need to seek guidance or advice from seeing story lines in dramas or topics in documentaries that affect people greatly. Discussions on rape or medical conditions, cancer, mental health issues, etc, the BBC Action Line is a point of call for people to turn to if they want to discuss with someone how a certain subject in programming has affected them.

Funding for things like that would just cease to be.

I just urge people to please think about what they get for their 38p a day before they slag it (the BBC and TV licensing) off.

The Snobbery of Art – Tracey Bashing!

I read yesterday that there’s a long awaited (for us who love and appreciate her art) Tracey Emin exhibition at the White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard called “Those Who Suffer Love”.

Once again, there’s a bubbling undercurrent of controversy, for HEAVEN FORBID Tracey has a piece in it that shows that most women in the 21st century like to masturbate. One of her pieces is a flick-book animation of a woman masturbating. Oh, HOW pornographic!

The first article I read about the exhibition was on the BBC News web site. They mentioned the animation briefly, but seemed to realise there’s much more to talk about with Tracey’s work. They had a comment from Tracey about the piece. She said, “[Masturbation] is not just about self-love, it’s also about self-loathing and being alone and for the act of being alone.” I understand what she means completely. Tracey’s work speaks to me.

I have to say, I’d never even heard of her until I moved to the UK. And even then, it took a visit to Tate Modern and seeing some of her work for her name to REALLY resonate with me. I saw a short film she’d made, almost like a video diary piece. Her art is SO personal and the video work I found very moving. I think I started to become a fan from that point on. If indeed artists have “fans”, like rock stars do.

Perhaps that’s what the critics (and Lord, the woman has her fair share of them) hate about the “modern” artists or as the Brit contingent are referred to YBA’s (Young British Artists – in the early 90’s, when a set of them came to public attention). That they are sort of held up as “pop stars” and have fans and followers. Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, The Chapman Brothers, Michael Landy are in the ranks of being labelled YBA’s. Hirst and Emin appear to be the “King and Queen” of the YBA’s, given the Wikipedia entry on the subject.

I see Tracey as almost a “today” version of Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was ballsy. She went FAR beyond what was the “acceptable face” of femininity in her art and her life. Her art was deeply personal and although I’m not a BIG fan of her artwork, I am of Frida herself and the things she represented in the art movement at the time. She portrayed herself in her art. She showed us what she wanted us to see, not what she THOUGHT we WANTED to see.

And that’s why I love Tracey. Her art is personal, but it is in no way conceited or self-centred. I’m sure critics would disagree (oh how they would disagree), but that’s how I see it. And that’s why ALL art is good. Critics, I swear, through their snobbery think they must like ALL art. If they don’t like it, it’s not art. WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT! I don’t rate Damien Hirst much myself, but I don’t begrudge people liking his work, or think any less of them.

I do, however, think it’s criminal that art has become SUCH a commodity. I watched a programme recently called “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble.” Revealed in the programme were aspects about how the collectors make the art a bigger commodity than it should be. A couple of examples: Andy Warhol collector Jose Mugrabi and his sons prop up the price of Warhol works, because they own SO much if it. Jay Jopling (the owner of White Cube Gallery – incidentally) and Damien Hirst bid on his own artwork (Hirst’s) to make it sell for what THEY deem it to be worth. But not only that, they also retain a percentage of the work most of the time, as it’ll be bought by consortia in which THEY are part of, therefore reinvesting in their own work, making more and more profit each time.

Most of the critics that criticise Tracey don’t do it because of some morality about the absurd price of art. Quite the opposite in fact. Most of them think she’s just “not worth it” or is not an “artist”. But what is an artist? Someone who is creative? Someone who produces images (be they words or pictures) for viewing? And isn’t art, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? Should I be pandered to and told what is art and what isn’t? Should *I* be told what I should and shouldn’t like? Am I meant to like a Jackson Pollock, even though (frankly) I think an elephant can do a better job? That’s just MY opinion on Pollock though. I don’t expect others to feel the same. For what his art sells for, obviously most people don’t.

But the critics who critique Tracey seem to think we should all listen to them and stop liking her work.

Here are comments left on a article on the Times Online.

She’s absolutely right when at the end she says others artists will be missed by the media even if they are fantastic, whereas she will not . She’s “lucky”. Job done…but just don’t ask us to accept your rubbish as well. You’re extremely famous and lucky but you can’t draw. You are not an artist.

Bob, from Hong Kong.

I have a good idea for an artwork. Copy some of the crude scrawls from the walls of my local public toilet, add some pretentious titles and pseudo-intellectual explanations, and…

Oh bugger, Tracey Emin has beat me to it.

Chris K from Cheltenham

While Hirst doesn’t seem to be any better at drawing than Emin is, at least it is not what he’s trying to impress us with…. actually the ‘dead sheep’ and ‘pickled cows’ have quite an effect when seen for the first time. I just really can’t see what’s so special about her rather ugly sketches.

Paloma, from London

In response to Paloma, I dare say that what separates Hirst from Emin is that although it could be argued that Tracey’s sketches are crude (by definition a sketch is “A hasty or undetailed drawing or painting often made as a preliminary study.”), they ARE personal. What’s personal about a pickled cow? Yes, it’s very fascinating anatomically, but is it art? Is it something Hirst MADE? All he did was probably design the thing it’s displayed in. He didn’t “design” the cow, or make up the formaldehyde or probably even dissect the animal himself. Tracey’s not trying to “impress” us, she’s telling us her story (and for some of us her appreciate her art), OUR story).

Then there are just absurd, ridiculous statements that are laced with personal attacks.

Good grief! We have all had trauma in our lives – why is this hellish woman who wants us all to know about her tawdry life in a sick visual Big Brother style, taken seriously? Arrgh. She is not an artist but a poor exhibitionist who always makes me want to shower after seeing her work. Eeww shudder

Christina from Edinburgh

“As artistic as vomit. – Tom Franklin, London, United Kingdom”

Geez Tom, don’t give the lady any ideas!

Clickety6 from London, in reply to an earlier statement.

Tracey Emin can’t draw for toffee.
Nice frock she’s wearing though, so she must find a few suckers.

Sara from Leicester.

Maybe an inspirational woman, but an artist!?
You can fool some of the people some of the time…………

Steve Duckworth from Leicestershire.

Steve may have a point at the end, but if you are basing that purely on her drawings, then perhaps you would come to that conclusion. The Times article DOES point out (some people seemed unable to take this information in) that some of the drawings go back a LONG way.

Let’s not forget, they are doodles, sketches. What Tracey does is present ALL of herself. Good and bad. If you only show the “good” art, isn’t that sort of a con? A cop out? Why do people not understand that? That, what is artistic in her is the way she reveals herself. That’s HER art. That, if you like, SHE’S the art. If she left sketches out because they weren’t “good enough” she’d feel she was cheating us. And people can’t see that it’s the revelation of the art, and perhaps not so much the pieces themselves that is the art.

And that’s why I compared her to Frida. And that’s why I want to go and see the exhibition.

Alien Autopsy and Sci-Fi.

I just watch the DVD of Alien Autopsy, the film with Ant and Dec in it. It wasn’t too bad. Not absolutely “laugh out loud” funny, but good to watch. Liked seeing the story behind it.

 

There was a repeat of the Quatermass Experiment on BBC Four last night. They seem to be repeating a lot of Mr. T’s acting back catalogue on BBC Four at the moment. I watched it when it was repeated in 2005 (it originally went out live while I was away in Oz in 2005) and it was one of the first things to be on TV when it broke DT would be the next Doctor. I think with it being sci-fi based as well, it generated interest to see how he’d be.

 

I’ve got other DVD’s to watch. The final parts of the first series of Medium, the first 3 episodes of series 3 of Doctor Who and Blades of Glory, which I’ve been wanting to see for ages.

 

Coincidentally, the new, 4th series of Medium starts tonight on BBC One. I’ve recorded it as I’d like to try and watch the rest of the other series’ first.

 

Another thing I’m really anticipating is the (long, long, LONG overdue) return of Ugly Betty!! Yay! I have missed Ugly Betty SSSOOO much! God damn friggin writer’s strike!!!

 

Had a bit of a financial crisis today. Don’t really want to go into detail, but things will be REALLY tight until the rent is paid this month. Bread and jam for the next 10 days, me thinks! We’ll be okay. Just wasn’t something we really needed to happen right now, but you know how things are.

 

Documentaries: Sex, Religion, The Moon and Gordon Brown.

I’ve watched a few documentaries on Channel 4 in the last week and it’s had me questioning things and stuff.

I always think about these things in bed at night and say to myself “I must write about this in a blog post” and then never get round to doing it, or go off on a complete tangent and talk about something else entirely.

Anyway, the first doc I watched was In The Shadow Of The Moon about the Apollo Moon expeditions. Towards the end of the doc they were talking to one astronaut, Charles Duke about what his overall feeling was at having been one of very few humans to actually visit the Moon. I’m not sure if I’ll remember it ver batim but he said something like…he had an epiphany while up there. He was looking around thinking that this (the Universe) could not have been made by accident and that someone or something MUST be behind it. He had a new found sense of faith. That he believed in God more than ever. He is now the leader of the Duke Ministry for Christ.

I just found that weird. That for a man of science (being an astronaut) you would think after seeing what you saw out there in space that you’d be thinking “Wow, what an amazing Universe this is! Surely just one being could not have made all this?!”. Instead he thought “Wow! God did good!”

I find it very hard to believe that one sentient being – be it “God” as depicted in The Bible, or some other “higher” being, working alone – would be responsible for the Universe. Religion seems to dispute categorically the notion that the Universe is just random acts of biology, chemistry and physics coming together to make this thing we live in. Yet if there was a defined “beginning” (ie: God created the heavens, etc), where the f*ck did God come from???

I think we, as humans are just another virus floating around. We just happened to mutate enough to grow a brain that works out language and maths and all the mental functions we use now. But it’s probably very infantile in its approach compared to what could be “out there”. And by that I don’t mean God or a God but other alien life.

How do we know we’re not just some HUGE mistake? How do we know that this God of ours (if he is to be believed to exist) is not just creating this tension between us (as humans) to force us to wipe each other out? Perhaps “he” can’t be bothered to fix his mistake (IE: us humans) and thought “You know what? I don’t want to eradicate them myself, so I’ll let them do it to themselves”. And for us what seems like has gone on for THOUSANDS of years – a vast expanse of time for us – has just been nano seconds to this “God” of ours???

I’m getting a bit deep here, but there you go.

Anyway…on to the next one…

Last night there were two docs on. One about Gordon Brown’s first year as Prime Minister. I enjoyed watching that. I was worried it might be heavy, or over-politicised (yes, I know, it was about politics, what did I expect?), but it wasn’t. Maybe I like my politics “dumb”, I don’t know, but I know I enjoyed watching the “review” of Gordon’s year.

I was in Oz last year when Blair finally said “good-bye” and Gordon took over. It was weird coming back to the UK a few weeks later and have a new PM in charge. I was holding out SO much promise for Gordon. It was SO great to see the back of Blair! But it’s all gone wrong for GB. Most of it being things beyond his control. Bad floods, Foot and Mouth outbreaks, Northern Rock and the credit crunch. It all seemed to conspire against him. And really, it’s culminated in him taking the decision NOT to have an election at the end of 2007. Something at the time I was hoping strongly that he would do. Because I could just see his PM-ship getting worse and worse for him and that by the time an election was actually due, we’d be getting ourselves a new Conservative government – which is SSOO gonna happen now 😦

Anyway, the doc was good. Thank you Andrew Rawnsley.

The last doc I want to mention was Victorian Sex Explorer. Just looking at the Channel 4 web site for info on it there’s a page that says “All the best bits from The Victorian Sex Explorer”…erm, was there any? This is what I was about to say. I was disappointed. Not because there wasn’t any “sex” in it or anything gratuitous like, but because it was just bland. I really wanted to know about this guy’s life, but it wasn’t so much about him but more about the “things” he explored. Which was fair enough, I suppose, but it was SO inanely done. I just sat there at the end of it thinking “was that it?” I want my hour back!!

Well, that was a rant!

Ciao