Monday, August 25, 2008

Ping Pong's Coming Home

I thought our segment of yesterday's Handover Ceremony did a fairly good job of making a virtue out of necessity in its portrayal of what can be expected in London in 2012. In case you missed it, it showed a doubledecker straying off its route to be mobbed by a representatively diverse gang of urban mutants, only for the top deck to open up where an elderly rocker was mutely accompanying an inaudible X Factor winner while David Beckham kicked a football at the crowd. The days are long gone, I suppose, where we'd have seen Cliff Richard driving the bus, singing Summer Holiday with mini-skirted Beefeaters and Pearly Kings and Queens doing the Lambeth Walk whilst eating jellied eels. But still, I do wonder what potential visitors made of it. It was as alien an experience to folks living up here in Lincs as it would be to most people's expectation of a satisfying holiday destination. I also wonder what kind of show Paris would have put on if it had won the right to stage the games because, despite everything, as tourists we do like to hang on to our myths. I think it would have played safe and gone for the traditional scenes of Boulevard life rather than giving away the secret of what you'd see if you got off the RER a couple of stops too early.

On reflection....

I was being too fair. The segment was dire, a terrible advertisement for Britain - or rather it was an advert for a certain vision of Britain held by the type of person who's over-represented in the not-for-profit arts sector, one that is unrecognisable to most people. The Creative Director responsible for it is Stephen Powell, who heads up a touchy-feely Arts Council funded outfit up in Cumbria called Lanternhouse
(stephen@lanternhouse.org). Why, when London's West End leads the world in producing popular spectacle that draws in over 13 million paying punters a year, the job was given to someone from the subsidised (i.e. loss-making) sector is beyond me. We could have had colour, effects, properly trained dancers in dazzling costumes and great music played well, sung well and correctly sound-engineered - people would have loved it and recognised it as being what we are best at. Instead we had to cringe at the typically dismal unimaginative and chronically arty-farty fare that only people who are used to being given chunks of public money to spend can get away with. No doubt it's doubles all round back in Cumbria as they pat each other on the back and tell each other the public are too dumb to understand good art. I hope Boris has sense to sack the lot of them for next time.

6 comments:

Can Bass 1 said...

Yes, but the Chinese had already done that. We British should be proud of our amateurism. Won us an Empire after all!

All Shook Up said...

Ah those were Gentlemen Amateurs, sense of superiority over natives honed on the playing fields of Eton. Can't imagine Cecil Rhodes standing for the indisciplined bunch of unwashed luvvies in Beijing.

Selena Dreamy said...

Fortunately, I never laid eyes on that footage because I had a premonition of it's utter, dismal wretchedness. It's only when I heard on the news, that a portrait of Myra Hindley had become part of its feature, that I realised how truly depressing it really was.

Once the material of Empire and the arbiter of nations, now dumbed down into a consumer culture with no real sense of their own purpose, these appear to be the remnants of a nation with no direction or ideals left, other than the uncontested cynical imagination, the nihilistic pleasure in the abject for art’s sake, and the pointlessness that has become an art in itself...

All Shook Up said...

There was no need for it, though, Dreamy. We can do this stuff and do it well. We could have chosen from leading impresarios like Cameron Mackintosh, ALW, Bill Kenwright, Raymond Gubbay. We have Pinewoood studios, major Hollywood directors... our advertising talent is world class. I'd even sooner have seen the set designers for bloody Ant and Dec's Saturday Night show given the job than Powell. Instead, it was handed to some backwoods 'outreach' org from Oop North - and it came up with something nobody would even have turned out to watch on a rainy day in Ampleforth.

These people like Powell don't represent me or millions of others and I still believe the tide can turn.

Glamourpuss said...

Agreed, but then I find anything involving DB embarrassing - sure he can play football, but aside from that, he has very little to recommend him.

Puss

All Shook Up said...

He's our National Symbol.

Bloody hell.