10 November 2009

The Execution of Gary Glitter

Well, Channel 4 can hardly say they're ducking the punches. This was a tiny scratch of insanity writ large (could they have stretched it to a mini series or a phone vote? - I'll bet anything that was on the cards at some point, just grab someone from Ofcom, feed them a few drinks, and make them tell all). It started many bombs ticking; made people think about the death of TV, the death of the remix (the moment where Gary bug-eyes at the crappy remix is seventeen times more funny than intended), the death of the News, almost anything except the death penalty itself.

You watched, kept watching, felt your mouth creep open and hang there. This was coke spritzer in television form, a head bigger than Nikolai Valuev's, a head designed to punch. Channel 4 used to court this kind of controversy all the time; they clearly felt the need for some more. They clearly felt the need for a good kicking. Maybe they watched that programme on Mary Whitehouse and got a burst of vanilla-scented nostalgia for the good old days, when people could be relied upon to care enough to march on things. When people would do their cardies right up to the top and storm the barricades.

(The crowd / protestor scenes btw: pitifully empty. The budget needed thousands of extras; without them it was just some spinning cameras and a few people wandering around aimlessly. If they were trying to portray a surge of emotion then...)

I'm guessing at some level I enjoyed this; it acted like a counterpoint to A Short Film About Killing, a comical flipside, a film about death that didn't feel like a film about death. But, at some level, I enjoyed this because it's nice to be offered fresh meat now and then, it'll be interesting to discuss in class, it'll be a worthy addition to the the end of year WTF? lists and talking heads; it'll be on New Year's Eve again, attempting to catch in the throats of the post-pub crowd.

The remix will be out before Christmas. Is probably out now. Chris Moyles will be playing it.

It made me think of how understated I was being when I suggested the Young Gods version of Did You Miss Me ought to be playing from huge speakers on the clifftops as he crawled back to Britain. It made me think how, as a child, I used to think the phrase 'fact is stranger than fiction' patently absurd. It made me think of a time when Brasseye and The Day Today were surreal and over the top. I've already heard people gossipping that maybe this was a Derren Brown stunt; the sun didn't really disappear, this really wasn't on TV last night.

Does it matter that he's not dead? Is there anything to be gained in the rhizomatic linkage that has the other major drama on TV last night feature a literal car crash?

That said the guy that played Gary, played a blinder; he must've known what a weird one this was going to be and he looked and sounded like Gary Glitter, threw himself into it (eye-popping remix moment notwithstanding); this was a performance worthy of a better stage, a better script... Gary Bushell and Anne Widdicome played similar blinders; you really believed them, every nuance, every bombshell... they might have been one of the 54% of British people who favour the death penalty (but then they wouldn't be allowed to act on TV, would they? Well, I guess once Nick Griffin gets on, anything can happen). Anne and Gary B's performance was a twin-set of evil; some of the great screen monsters of our time - pity they couldn't get Jedward on the screen, doing a pro-death dance, singing an amended version of John Barleycorn...


Anonymous said...

Yes, you saw the same programme I did. The moment I saw a trailer for it earlier in the evening I just knew I had to watch this! It was like the first time I saw Monkey Dust: how amazing that this came to be made at all!

I'm always a sucker for a 'parallel world' where things look the same...almost. I enjoyed the media news reports, the talking heads, the politicians who dispense with the appeals process to make the system more 'humane'. I loved the hanging technician and his enthusiasm for health and safety.

It did what TV should do: take an idea and explore it in a gloriously mischievous way - reasonably cheaply.

Robert said...

Robert Chrysler i believe that my reality has been hacked by a vast, sophisticated network of hackers and that i have been set up as the perpetrator of crimes that i did not commit

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