Posts from August 2003

Our man in Kabul

Our man in Kabul
: Ben Hammersley files his first report from Kabul. Damn, I love having a blogger as witness; the viewpoint is fresher, more immediate, less sculpted, more human.

The contrast here between the destruction and the rebirth could not be more marked. The buildings are covered in bullet scars, the horizon is punctuated with bombed out neighbourhoods, and the runway at the airport is lined – and truly lined, like some twisted can-can troupe – with destroyed aircraft. But despite all that, every other shop in this neighbourhood is selling some form of technology. There


: A great speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival attacks the creeping PCization of TV, popular culture, and the news — the oversensitivity to sensitivities that ends up adding up to a big lie:

The television industry is so in thrall to political correctness that soap and drama writers now routinely consult pressure groups for advice on what they consider offensive, the Edinburgh Television Festival heard yesterday.

In the annual Alternative MacTaggart Lecture, Rod Liddle, the former editor of Radio 4’s Today programme, called on producers to ignore attempts by organisations such as the Commission for Racial Equality, the mental health charity Mind and the anti-smoking group Ash to dictate what is broadcast.

“They hector and harry you into portraying society as they would like it to be, rather than as what it is,” Mr Liddle told an audience of broadcasters.

In many cases, the interference was done “with the connivance” of the Government and statutory bodies such as the Independent Television Commission and the BBC’s Editorial Policy Unit. The aim was to “bully programme makers into changing the nature of their news programmes, dramas and light entertainment in order to accord with the various agendas pursued by each group”….

He recounted how, before the Iraq war, BBC journalists were summoned to a meeting to discuss how they could cover the conflict without offending Muslims.

Later, he heard a BBC report about a British suicide bomber in Israel. The report concluded – “apropos of nothing at all” – that the vast majority of British Muslims were “utterly opposed” to suicide attacks against Israel.

“When we are forced into making these blithe and comfortable platitudinous asides we do everybody a disservice,” he said. In a desire to avoid inflaming religious antagonism, “we massage the truth in order to kid ourselves, and the audience, that that’s really the case”.

He gave warning that such “small incremental changes” to dramas or news may be well-intentioned, but “before you know it, we’re living in a sort of ghastly Sesame Street”, bearing no relation to reality.

Of course, this happens here, too: Special-interest pressure groups try to get art created by quota and agenda: don’t show smoking; have more of this kind of person or that; don’t say that even if people do say it. What it really means is: Be dishonest.

Somebody, please put up the entire text of the speech.


: The world is getting fed up with self-indulgent flash mobs. Says the Scotsman:

Now, the backlash has begun in earnest.

E-mail lists like “antimob” and “slashmob” provide a forum for those who are not totally convinced that flash mobs are an important artistic phenomenon.

Sites like Flashmugging mock the “young, naive, wealthy, bored, fashionistas” who take part in mobs. This spoof site warns that flash muggers stalk these events, quoting one such villain: “It

Bustamante and the N word

Bustamante and the N word
: Pacific News Service says Bustamante makes California blacks “nervous.”

The moment California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante said he was tossing his hat in as a replacement candidate in the recall race, the buzz among blacks was that he was the guy who used the “N” word….

In a February 2001 speech to a group of black trade unionists, Bustamante purportedly slipped and uttered the dreaded “N” word. When a handful of blacks in the audience stormed out in protest, Bustamante backpedaled fast and swore it was a slip of the tongue. He did profuse mea culpas and furiously waved his credentials as a staunch defender of immigrant rights, affirmative action and multiculturalism….

But the anxiety among blacks about Bustamante is less about his careless slip than about the resurfacing of political tensions between many blacks and Latinos….

If Davis continues his downward plunge in the polls, Bustamante’s stock will rise even higher among Democrats. That would include black Democrats too, if only it weren’t for that “N” word.

Gawlee, Guber, it’s that Gawker girl

Gawlee, Guber, it’s that Gawker girl
: (one of my day-job services) has a story about our own Elizabeth Spiers, known here as the editor of Gawker, known there as “that Wetumpka girl.”

Some of her Gawker dialogue might be considered a little risque for a Wetumpka girl, but fortunately for Spiers, her parents don’t spend much time surfing the Internet.

“They kind of vaguely know that I have a media job,” she says. “But they don’t really have any concept of what Gawker is or what its audience is or really even who 90 percent of the people we talk about are.

“It’s really not racy for here, but I think it’s very racy for there.”

: Where the hell is Wetumpka? Well, halfway between Riddle and Brassel Bottom, and a mere spit away from Eclectic and just down the road from Liberty, Friendship, Seman, and Kid.