Now listen, I'm a comedian, working for the BBC,
so you better fucking listen to me.
“(Clarkson) He’ll tell you that a muscle car can’t compare to a Ferrari, But comparing a muscle car to a Ferrari is like comparing Jeremy Clarkson to a real television host. If this car was a woman it’d be Elizabeth Taylor. If Jeremy Clarkson were a woman, I wouldn’t be a goddamn bit surprised.” It was a clumsy, straining metaphor, I think it's the wrong way around, but it was typical, sustained ranting from the a-bit-too-old-for-it "comedian" and "film buff" - what is a buff? - Rich Hall. Scripted ranting seems so antiseptic, so rehearsed and reshot and edited and soundtracked, how do they sustain whatever it was that first fired the rant, when they're doing it repeatedly for a fairly meticulous teevee crew? but his was certainly a more engaging commentary on a largely - in fact entirely - white, Hollywoodian, ie Jewish industry than we usually get from Showbiz felchers-in-chief like Mark Kermode or Kirsty Wark or Jonafun Ross or, and why not, the late and very much unlamented Barry Knobman.
Continental Drifters was a rantathon with Hall perched in the back of a pick-up truck, all dressed up in a Stetson hat, laconic and motormouthing by turns about the critical fortunes of what he called, obediently, the Road Movie. As the truck and the attendant crew fleet wound its meditative way across the back roads of Montana, Hall most enjoyably excoriated the ghastly George Lucas for his paint by numbers StarWars franchise, rightly dismissed Easy Rider's Dennis Hopper as a doped-up megalomaniac lunatic, hymned the virtues of The Grapes of Wrath, Thelma and Louise, Badlands and I think, Bonnie and Clyde; Vanishing Point, too, was adored by our petulant, ruminant comic.
What undermined the whole process - a pseudo learned and entirely bogus exposition of the link between some ethereal Hollywood guiding hand and the changing moral culture of Amerika - was the assumption of it all, that a feuding tribe of nasty old men and their grisly output was worthy of serious artistic consideration. Hall posited that the Reagan Era spawned shoot-em-up Rambo and shoot 'em up Arnie movies and in Hallworld it was as though Hollywood - and not millions of ghastly Amerikans - had elected the dumbfuck, Reagan and his shrewish, stargazing bint.
The trouble with Hall is that he's just an old showbiz whore, popping up wherever he can earn a few quid. However learnedly he presents himself - and I don't know if an encyclopaedic knowledge of Tinseltown bilge is actually learning - Hall, by his every mainstream teevee appearance, vouchsafes his complicity in the myth of showbiz. He didn't expand his BBC- Clarkson rant to include, for instance, the irritating and unavoidable polymath and heterophobic arsehole, Steven Fag, but then he appears regularly, alongside all sorts of pretentious riff-raff, in one of Fag's many tedious shows, being funny. Even the Coalation rag, the Guardian, recently complained about Fag's noisy ubiquity but if they keep Rich Hall in cowboy hats, and Jo Brand in jam roly-poly then can they really be all that worthless, my dears ? Our Rich also - and, to my mind embarrassingly, appears on a kids comedy show on the BBC 3 Yoof Channel, Talk Shit For The Week, it's called, a gaggle of gobby, unfunny, young stand-ups, performing direly for a bunch of their uncritical, glad to be on telly peers, somewhere in the middle of this Polytechnic undergrad nightmare on walks ole Rich, flapping around like a fish out of water, you know, the way that that remorseless old gabshite, Barry Cryer, turns up at the Edinburgh Festival every year. Hall must be nearly my age, what the fuck is he playing at, doing Yoof TeeVee ? It's like seeing Bill Hicks or Lenny Bruce or Richard Prior on Strictly Come Dancing; not that Hall has anything like the vim and vigour and occasional saintliness of the great American stand-ups.
So when Hall tries to translate or adapt his rather monotonous schtick to a vehicle of apparently serious criticism he misses the mark by a mile and you would have to say he does so deliberately, for he, too, is a paid up member of the Showbiz Vermin Society. Hollywood doesn't make great films, doesn't make politically challenging films; look at who it rewards with Oscars, look at the obscene amounts of money it pays its servants, listen, if you can bear it, to the banal vacuity of Jude Law or Michael Douglas or George Clooney. Hollywood, peddling shit fantasy, demeans all involved in it and Rich, himself, in his small corner, is an integral component of GlobaCorp, rather like, in a larger more influential fashion, is Jeremy Clarkson. I wouldn't be a Godamned bit surprised if Rich Hall lusted after a BAFTA, or some Ricky Gervaise shit like that.
Hollywood aside, there's the odd bit of interesting ephemera. President Eisenhower, having in the war chased the Wehrmacht all over Germany's autobahn network, was determined that Merkins would have the same sort of highways, rather than the dirt tracks common everywhere and when he was elected Ike simply bypassed all the state legislatures and initiated the Interstate Highway programme, building forty thousand miles of fast road. Hall wearliy reminds us that as the roads were rolled out the founder of Holiday Express followed the earthmovers in a Cessna light aircraft plotting the locations, all across Amerika, where he would strangle to death any hope of originality or individuality in the hotel business.
Ninety minutes of unleavened Hall is about forty five minutes too much, he becomes an ugly, calculating, over-rehearsed earache after a while, a performer trying to be funny and serious simultaneously for that length of time demands more than is just of the audience. But it's worth a look, for all that, if you, too, have been sold the myth of the Road Movie,(nobody shoots-out the tyres ) the myth of the New Frontier (AnafuckingBaptist ethnic cleansing) and the white pioneer (generally a greedy, murdering racist bastard.) I sort of lost faith in them, simply on grounds of credibility, when my late brother pointed out to me, decades ago, that if those stupid indians had only shot dead the lead horse, or any of the team, then the first road movie, Stagecoach, would've lasted five minutes.
Not for the last time, John Wayne and Hollywood save the white world
from injuns and niggers and japs and gooks.