"He f**ked your grand-daughter!"
These words bounced through my ears and into my brain before it registered that this was not only a shocking thing to say on an elderly actor's answerphone, but was also bloody funny. The actor in question was Andrew Sachs - he who played the stereotypical Spanish waiter, Manuel, in the classic BBC comedy known to us crusty old Brits as Fawlty Towers. Anyone who lives on this slowly-diminishing island of the United Kingdom will know that those four words uttered from the disabled mouth of Jonathan Ross during Russell Brand's pre-recorded podcast will know of the damage they have invoked to not only Brand's and Ross's collective media careers, but also (somehow) imprinting on television.
Two complaints were made after that podcast was put out. Just two. What followed was the outrage from that glorious institution of decency and pig-headed liberalism - The Daily Mail. "SACK THEM!" yelled their front pages as they detailed in transcripts what was (and wasn't) broadcast so their readership could pick up their pitchforks and torches and go on a moral rampage. The background story for Ross's exclamation was Brand had sexual relations with Sachs' grand-daughter - who incidentally is part of a troupe of "ladies" known rather affectionately as The Satanic Sluts. Throughout the podcast after the f-bomb was dropped, they kept on leaving answerphone messages. And kept on leaving more answerphone messages. At one point, Ross suggested they "use up the tape". This was all fantastic fun to listen to, but it was almost like listening to something fished straight out of the digital trashcans of 6 Music's desktop. As entertaining as Tom Baker's vocal torrent of abuse while making radio adverts for beds.
This is the thing though - that podcast shouldn't have gone out in the first place. It seems that the people responsible were those who let the podcast go out. Needless to say, a horrible knock-on effect has taken place. Thanks to the Mail, those complaints rose from 2 to 30,000; Brand has resigned from his radio DJ role at 6 Music; the controller of 6 Music has also stepped down; Ross has been suspended from everything he's been associated with at the BBC - which includes his chat show, his film review show, his radio show...
The newspapers made for grim reading as The Mail had a smug printed grin on its gurning paper face. It felt like they had won some kind of victory and the readership applauded such a wonderful decision. It definitely felt like somone had taken a molehill and crafted it into a massive mountain - the incident didn't deserve all the coverage and spin. One good thing from all this was that it pushed all those doom-and-gloom stories about the fall of the World's Economy to the inside pages - we can be at least thankful for that. The more worrying thing was this radio-based japery had suddenly impacted on the BBC as a whole and soon their programmes were under the spotlight. The Mail once more grabbed the reins with obvious relish and listed so-called wrongdoings that the BBC were responsible for. All the programmes mentioned are loved by many and have been cited as being ground-breaking entertainment.
As if by magic, Channel 4 produced the imaginatively-titled "The TV Show" and self-analysed itself with a newly-found moral compass. "Were we wrong to show a disabled person falling off a stool on the recent Peter Kay skit of The X Factor?". "Was it in bad taste?". They had a line-up of disabled people in the studio to comment - one of which actually took it as what it was intended to be - a joke. To quote Billy Connolly, it seems some people can't fucking take a joke these days. It's a bad time for television now - it'll be scared to put a foot wrong and dare to be exciting, edgy and fresh. It'll start to become a place which will be monitored and measured to the point where programming will start to become stilted and homogenised. It's indeed a sad thing. Charlie Brooker even commented that he's had issues with his enjoyable Screenwipe series where the BBC would step in and change/remove content. I do remember his comment regarding The Queen's Speech had to be removed and replaced with a "Removed at BBC's Request" while accompanied by some apt System of a Down. He had some great words to say regarding the Ross/Brand scandal.
Speaking of Mr. Brooker, he recently scored a victory for decent television by writing and producing the frankly jaw-dropping Dead Set. For those of you who have yet to experience it (possibly those Stateside), imagine the Big Brother house in the midst of a zombie outbreak. The hour-long initial episode had me in fits of amazement at what I was witnessing - frankly it was something I was glad to be watching at that moment in time. They had a meagre budget, but the whole five-part series oozed a filmic quality and a sense that everyone involved worked as hard as they could to come up with the goods. There were some great observations from Brooker - especially the Big Brother character archetypes - as well as some cracking effects work, Zombie Davina being an absolute triumph of casting and performance plus a crapload of gore. I'm hoping there's no sequel, but also hoping this will get the recognition it deserves. Actually Channel 4 should seriously consider showing the thing (it was shown on the network's hipster-sister channel - E4). It's out on DVD now and I really, really want to grab it and watch it without all those sodding adverts. Here's one of the best bits. (Curses to E4 for not letting me embed.)
Top Gear returned for a new Autumnal series, and it was insanely good. It was definitely the very embodiment of "cocking about" and in one truly mindless-yet-amazing moment, Clarkson drives a truck through a brick wall for one of the many truck-based challenges. He was injured by this act, but only slightly - and it made for great television. The Daily Mail reported this not for the act, but for the remark he made about truckers. They commented on how terrible and irresponsible and yaddayaddayadda. I would very much like to see The Daily Mail sink into the sea without a trace - it's one of those newspapers which irritatingly holds the moral high ground. If they had their way, shows like Dead Set and Top Gear would be banned and off our screens. Television would not be doing itself any favours with this move - many people these days don't watch television in favour of escapism from all this credit crunch dread through laughing at failblog.org and playing videogames.
Ah, videogames. My 360 is dead and I have to put it into its snug cardboard coffin after I've finished with this blog entry. It'll take 2-3 weeks until it comes back to me, but by which time I will have missed many major videogame-related launches for the 360 including Fable 2, Dead Space, Fallout 3 and Gears of War 2. The frugal part of me likes this. I won't be spending money on videogames which I could squirrel away in my bank account or save on buying a nice rug for my living room. I still have a list in my head of things which will make this flat more homely, although the work schedule I currently have with Wheelman, I've not spent much time here in the flat. I have such an amazing dream of what mural to paint on my wall, but have no time to do it. It's frustrating.
The game is definitely coming together though - I play new builds and get excited with what I'm playing. We're still tweaking things and people are working hard on getting the game as good as we can make it. I've become something of a Good Samaritan during downtime, fixing other peoples' bugs and chasing up other bugs too. I've been polishing my pixels and optimising as best I can. I don't want to be responsible for any slip-up or oversight on my part. I've been living day-to-day and working as hard and as best I can on this project. I've also made some decisions regarding what's going on in the media and on forums - in that I've decided to stop posting on one popular gaming forum as it's turned into something I don't particularly like. I've posted there for a fair few years now and there were the primary boasts of being a developer (working for Jester Interactive at the time). I've made friends on there, but there's this renegade element which relishes in piracy, name-calling and generally adhering to the Internet Dickwad Theory with gusto. You can't argue with these people especially when it seems like there's some kind of mob mentality - it's almost like being back in school. Balls to that. Keep your arguments about "Which is the best Zelda?" (Link's Awakening actually). I'm off.
Also I've self-imposed myself from reading any videogame-related "news site" - I use the term lightly because these are glorified blogs with people who consider themselves journolists but are anything but. The commenting hoards of the gamers will also be disregarded - the gaming public can either be wildly supportive or wildly hostile - there is no middle ground. I need to get myself onto some news sites which aren't so subjective and out for the blood of "suffering publishers/developers". So no more Joystiq. No more Kotaku. These sites can get on with their usual thing trying to fill the minds of gamers with negative and cancerous thoughts, and I'll get on with my thing of working on something I believe in.
I was also meant to update my blog the other day but I've been suffering a pretty lousy cold/flu thing, so I missed out on congratulating Mr. Barack Obama on being the new president of the USA. It's pretty monumental that he's the first black president too - although we all know colour shouldn't have anything to do with it. It's pretty exciting stuff! Also in keeping with the tone of this post, people are still talking about Ross/Brand..!