Sunday, 20 November 2011

WOTSONTELLY, RICH HALL, CONTINENTAL DRIFTERS, BBC 4


 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.

20 comments:

Oldrightie said...

"the irritating and unavoidable polymath and heterophobic arsehole, Steven Fag" just one of the priceless observations in this post. Thank you, Buddy!

mongoose said...

Yeah, watched that shite too, Mr I. Although I very nearly didn't make it through the intro and was all but down the pub by the time the irritating little arsehole advised me that he was about to be a bit arbitrary. Well, I shall be a bit arbitrary and arbitrarily switch over to watch a UK road flick - The Antiques Roadshow. "Of course, you're not going to sell it but for insurance purposes..." Aww, fuck off! Or Flog It. We can watch some poor people being humiliated on TV for the sake of fifty quid. That would be much more interesting. Shit in the Attic, eh? I got plenty. Is it not just so bleeding obvious that if we gassed every antique dealer or auctioneer who has ever appeared on TV, well, would not the world be a better place? Of course, it would. But I digress.

I did read the Grapes of Wrath, you see, at school forty years ago now - nearer then to the time of that dustbowl than today's dustbowl is to my schooldays. So an interesting premise, maybe, of a parallel peeked out at me and so I watched it. Vacuous drivel ensued. Wasted another hour of my life that I'll not get back. And that jacket just demonstrates everything that is wrong with America. If you went out on the street wearing that in Wolverhampton they'd pelt you with rocks. Twat!

call me ishmael said...

I think we've done the Flog It genre in some detail but it remains an index of Ruin - and proliferates, even Angela Rippon now bringing her broadcasting skills to attic rummaging; it'd be a black comedy, if it was at all funny. Mrs narcolept remarked that she was always cracked-up by someone, selling-off a family heirloom on the grounds that it doesn't go with my daycaw. I never saw anything on these shows, incidentally, mr m, that I wouldn't rather have than the money.

I trust that the BBC's hunger for cheap teevee product does not result in more after the style of Mr Rich Hall, although I suspect it will. Flagging-up the Dustbowl without much significant reference to the current Depression was a dismal stunt. Oh, he mentioned it en passant but quickly returned to the subject of fictional moving pictures - as a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly. I think the Book of Proverbs said that. The only cure for a teevee presenter is a quick rubdown with a housebrick and a good hanging-up from a lamp post. I think I said that.

No thanks due, thanks, mr OR, this ain't showbiz.

mongoose said...

Sorry, Mr Ishmael, to offend by repitition but it is sometimes necessary. This today from the vile Ed Balls... "I cry at the Antiques Roadshow. You know, when someone comes in with some family heirloom and it’s often the last bit in the programme and the expert says, ‘Do you know how much this is worth? It’s valued at X thousand pounds.’ And they say, ‘I’m amazed it’s worth that much, but it means more to me than money.’ Incredibly emotional.” And is that the best you can do, Saruman? "Emotional?" Err, let me think a while. Errr. Oh yes, a bit of false emotion for the Antiques Fucking Roadshow. Getting down with the people, eh? Just too horrible a bastard to let live.

iolanthe said...

Thanks again for nailing it, Ishmael. Your vituperative distillation of Rich Halls Road Movie documentary, made want to download it, if only to see what kind of show might summon forth such bilious chunks of offal from within your shriven bladder. Although my initial reaction upon viewing was "Why is this walnut-faced Septic on my screen?" I have to admit it was well-researched,informative,thoughtful and sometimes very, very funny. Still...I had to remind myself I was watching a "Comedian". Credibility is suspect. Imagine how much better the show would have been were it fronted by a real person with real opinions,say Al Murray: The Pub Landlord. Or...dare I say it...your good self. That the show seems to heve been met with universal acclaim only reinforces my appreciation for you, Sir, existing as you do in your flyspeck corner of the blogoshere,setting the Great Unwashed to rights. I look forward to your keen and extremely articulate blogs.
Note: Richard Prior is misspelled: It's "Pryor."
Also: Stand Up for the Week is on Channel 4,not BBC3.
Also: "Nigger and "Jew" should always be capitalised for maximum racist impact.

call me ishmael said...

Thanks mr iolanthe.

Fuck me, universal acclaim, that's me told.

You mean the critics, don't you, what else can you mean? You mean that the people who tell you what you should like, liked it, or said they did, even though they probably only read the producers' blurb.

And you're understandably upset that some people - although it is perfectably acceptable for them to do so - think think that not only did Mr Hall get it entirely wrong but that he's a cunt, too. Heavens, you must be shocked right down to your self-righteous, nit-picking core.

Now, far be it from me to disagree with those who form your opinions for you but sometimes I just can't help myself. Do you think that maybe you shouldn't come here anymore, if it so upsets your carefully crafted equilibrium, you being right in there, in the middle of the shitegeist, telling other peolle what they gotta like, like some fucking Nazi.

Universal acclaim, mr iolanthe, you obviously have no idea how anti-human is that idea, do you, liebschen?

Verge said...

Never quite sure how to differentiate Hollywood from plain old Amerkin but lots of good stuff as well as the simpering smeg. Off the top of my head I'd bid that John Malk-directed "Dancer Upstairs", Tommy-Lee Jones' terrific "Three Burials" (which had the courage, sense and courtesy to hold its well-earned moral whammy til the very last line) and the glorious, barking mindfucks of David Lynch. For politically challenging drama, you probably need to look at TV - there's The Corner, & Generation Kill was well done, and although The Sopranos seldom set foot outside New Joizy it built up a roiling head of steam as state-of-the-nation allegory, Tony-&-co/America a bunch of petulant narcissistic sociopaths, greedy murdering bastards whose vicious outbursts are nearly always the other guy's fault.

iolanthe said...

Hey, Ishy. Thanks for disinviting me from your forum. I mistakenly thought the box at the bottom was for riposte. Obviously, this blog exists solely for you to get stuff of your chest.

And here's little ol' me taking a big steaming grudge dump all over it.

In the future I shall defer all personal opinion/thoughts/conduct to your empirical scrutiny. One suggestion though: stop watching TV. It seems to be self-harming you. Better you should confine yourself to your dark fetid bedsit making small incisions into your dusty ballbag with a craftknife, trying dismally to blot out whatever consensual childhood sodomy ruined your innocence.

Also, can the Reichian gibberish. That White Supremist shit is way way old-school. Move on.

call me ishmael said...

No, mr iolanthe, disagreements are fine, some of them run here for years. it's just the sheepish stupidity and name-calling that are tiresome. Yours, from a large country house.

Verge said...

"consensual childhood sodomy" Mr Iolanthe? What the fuck is that, apart from a contradiction in terms? Jesus fucking wept.

Quite like the sound of this Reichian gibberish, though. Always fancied a go in an orgone accumulator.

call me ishmael said...

I think, mr verge, that I have to work too hard to appreciate the stuff you cite, and I also lack your cultural reference points/background/education - I have only read two and half Burroughs books, for instance. We had a conversation here, a while back, about vampirism in cinema, Scandinavian stuff, I believe, thta, also was abovce my critical cinematic head. Mine, above, was a tilt at the mainstream Hollywood output and at the jackanapes, Hall's, earthy grandiloquence about something which is mainly entirely fatuous.

I watched a couple of Film Fours, last night; the first one, Franklyn, I made neither head nor tail of it and after Googling it was left bewildered at its acclaim and suspecting that there is, indeed, a vapid, critical universe ihabited by legions of braindead iolantheans, like the critics in private eye, or the new parents in Viz magazine, chatterinf rubbish nouvelle at one another. The second film was Bronson and it just made me weep from start to finish. You know, that we clever people can put someone in solitary confinement for thirty fucking years, saying that it's all his fault. Thirty fucking years. Not even as if he ever killed anyone. Cette animal est tres mechant, quand un l'attack, il se defend

iolanthe said...

Consensual childhood sodomy would be best exemplified by ...say...a couple of internet poodles who call themselves Verge and Ishmael perforating each other with waif-like abandon. Entirely plausible.

Christ you two pimpsticks are making it all too easy for someone to school you.

You're right though, name-calling ("Cunt"?... Really? that's what you're going with?"... "cunt"?) and "sheepish stupidity" (I think the word you were looking for... Wordsworth...is "sheeplike" or more specifically "ovine")... are tiresome.

Have fun, guys, bandying your big words back and forth with each other. I remain enthralled by such heady intellect.

How do you assholes even keep a job?

call me ishmael said...

There, there, mr iolanthe, calm yourself, it's all over now, just you hurry back to your redneck friends at Colonel von Fawkes's PizzaHouseofBlood, or wherever it is that you people trade insults. But thanks, anyway, for your explanation

As to jobs, I can't speak for mr verge but I don't - apart from maintaining my small estate - have to work. When I did, though, I should think it was much more demanding and satisfying than anything you've ever done, bless you and your little world of universal acclaim.

Verge said...

operetta monotreme

Arsecunts aside, Mr Ish, if you cross paths with either of the films I mentioned (Dancer Upstairs or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, give them a go. No hard work required.)

call me ishmael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
call me ishmael said...

Roger, mr verge, wilco.

Any thoughts on Bronson?

Edgar said...

A fairy for a troll?
How very droll.

call me ishmael said...

Ah, Is that what a troll is, then, mr edgar? Somebody like that? Bless him, everybody needs somebody to talk dirty to.

Verge said...

I thought Bronson was a hard watch, too, but well done - the weird shit towards the end somehow didn't seem weird at all, all things considered. Mr Hardy certainly bulked and nuttered up bloody well for the part. Our American cousins have that solitary shit down to a fine art, like a modern-day riff on some nasty Greek myth shit when you've really pissed off the gods, with their supermax protocols.

call me ishmael said...

There's a guy, David wilson, was a fast-track Cambridge grad prison governor, took him twenty years before he very publicly flounced out of the system, citing penal dustbin issues, and into a criminology chair at Birmingham Poly. I've known some of his students and they were clueless, too, like him. He may or may not have been a model for the governor in Bronson.

When you consider all the home seckatries of the last thirty-five years, the judges, the prison visiting magistrates, the parole board and all the smarmy governors, in fact the literally thousands of highly placed, well educated, well paid public sector employees who have all failed to practically or humanely deal with Mr Bronson but have instead thrown him into darkness the call comes,unbidden, Up against the wall, motherfuckers.

Yes, the US maximum security system is something I try to keep in the farthest recesses of my mind' death is a kinder, warmer subject for consideration.

Much of it was down, wasn't it, to that great humanitarian, Spunky Bill, the guy so warmly applauded at NewLabour conferences, the guy who celebrated his firts inauguration by roasting a good ole mental defective niggerboy in Arkansas ?