Saturday, 25 March 2017

From the archive (2010): Whenever I hear the word 'culture'...

"Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver." said Hermann Goering at a time, perhaps, when the word 'culture' had some meaning. Had Goering been alive today, he'd have reached for more than his revolver: how about a bazooka, what about a small Howitzer or even a Trident nuclear missile? Personally, I'd rather use a Gatling gun; you know, those machine guns with a cylindrical magazine used in Westerns, something noisy, ungainly and guaranteed to do the job properly without killing any innocent bystanders.
I mean, let's face it, things are definitely NOT getting better on the cultural front; it's been one long and miserable decline where the most marked deterioration has been in the field of pop music – mainly because our so-called stars are not so much bothered about being accomplished in their field; they're more focused on the fame bit – getting out of limos at film premieres, running from the paparrazi, that sort of thing.
Piers Morgan. That probably says it all, and while chat show hosts generally have never been anything to write home about – they all suck up to their guests, squeeze their knees, come over all gushy and showbizzy and generally act in a sycophantic manner that is nothing short of embarassing – Morgan plumbs deeper depths by interviewing people who aren't really that famous.
I mean, at least Parkinson, for all his bad points (being a professional Yorkshireman, going on and on about cricket and being cringeingly 'buddy buddy' with the Big Yin) interviewed some of the greats. I'm thinking John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Mohammed Ali.
Morgan sits there chatting to tabloid people like Katie Price and, tonight (March 13th 2010) that girl from Hearsay whose name escapes me, she's THAT famous. Hold on, while I go and ask somebody. Ah, yes, Kim Marsh. You remember her, don't you? She was in Hearsay and she's now 33, I've just heard Piers say. Look, I've got nothing against her personally, I'm sure she's a really nice person and yes, she's had a few issues in her life, like most of us, and she's been in 'Corrie', but please, Piers, you're sitting there in front of her treating her like Parkinson might have treated the great John Lennon. But she hasn't had an airport named after her, she's not even Enid Sharples or Hilda Ogden and there you are acting as if you've got a major interview on your hands when you haven't. Marsh won a talent competition, for heaven's sake. She was in Hearsay! And you, Piers, have the audacity to talk to her about issues that proper musicians suffer from: tension from within the band, 'differences' which led to the split as if anybody really cared or, indeed, remembered. Hearsay were not Nirvana, they were not Blur or Oasis, they were not even Boyzone.
Yes, if there were 'musical differences' or disagreements within the Beatles, that might have been a big issue, but Hearsay! In Hearsay, musical differences probably meant they were out of tune. Whose idea was it to put Kim Marsh in front of Piers Morgan during the prime time slot on Saturday evening commercial television? Where's my Gatling gun? Hold on a second, though; that sounded a bit like Piers Morgan was some kind of television chat show 'big gun', up there, perhaps, with the likes of Parky, Letterman, Leno or Wogan, but no, Morgan's television career has been carved out of similar television shows to the one that put Hearsay in the public spotlight, and wasn't he once editor of the Daily Mirror and the man in charge when those bogus photographs of Iraqis being tortured were published?
The worst thing about the Marsh interview was the way it was couched. Morgan's questions, his whole attitude, his stance, gave the impression that he was interviewing somebody heavyweight, someone with a bit of history at least, a few major albums under her belt, perhaps, a serious acting career, perhaps, but no, it was Corrie's Kim Marsh – she's not even the biggest star on Corrie and yet there is Piers, asking (or trying to look as if he was asking) the big questions.
As I say, I've got nothing against Marsh, but she was the first of many 'manufactured' personalities from the Simon Cowell Play Dough factory, the man who gave us Cheryl Cole and a whole host of other people who are more interested in 'celebrity' than anything else and really aren't that good.
The main problem with the manufactured 'artistes' is that they don't appear to have any lofty cultural ambitions. I mean, would you ever see Pete Townshend, Robert Plant, Roger Daltry, Liam Gallagher, Damon Albarn, to name but a few, presenting television programmes let alone embarking upon their careers by winning a talent show? No, of course not; they struggled, they played the clubs and pubs and practiced in garages and then chased record deals before hitting the big time and turning into big festival and stadium attractions.
I know what you're going to say: if you don't like it, turn it off; and I did, to be fair. Actually, I left the room to sit here and write this article because I've noticed a marked decline in real talent in this country. I'm not saying that Marsh is not talented, it's just that she and Cheryl Cole and Katie Price and whoever else is out there queuing up to be interviewed by Piers – who, no doubt, is being heralded by the naive as 'the new Parkinson' – are really not 'big' enough to be given that 'big interview' treatment. Gordon Brown, yes; Paul McCartney, of course, but all these 'celebrities' who have found fame far too early, no.
What amazes me is the recent trend towards celebrity autobiographies; books written by people who are too young to have much to write about. I can understand established musicians wanting to put pen to paper about long and distinguished careers, discussing interesting subjects like gigging in Russia before the Iron Curtain came down, say, but imagine a book written by Sir Paul McCartney in, let's say, 1964 when there was so much still to happen?

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