The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'the spectacle'
I'm no fan of Hollywood action flick director Roland Emmerich and his mindlessly bombastic work, though his house sounds all kinds of awesome:
Mao and Lenin fill the length of the 25ft living room wall; an old master-style painting of the Crucifixion shows Jesus sporting a Wham T-shirt; in the guest bathroom is a portrait of Saddam Hussein; and under the stairs, Pope John Paul II pores over his own obituaries. Welcome to the London home of Roland Emmerich, director of epic blockbusters, including Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. It's an overtly political home: glass coffee tables dot the house, containing 3D architectural models of politically significant places, including Abu Ghraib prison, Tiananmen Square, the Dallas road where JFK was assassinated, and - a nice Hollywood touch - the LA neighbourhood where Hugh Grant had his infamous encounter with a prostitute. There's even a giant White House-shaped birdcage in the top-floor hallway, with stuffed white doves.
Teall's starting point was a suitcase full of Mao statues that Emmerich picked up in Shanghai. He then approached film set designers and artists to realise his own designs, employing scenic artist Jim Gemmill to draw the murals that pepper the house, and a posse of prop and model makers to fabricate everything from the life-size papal waxwork to the coffee table dioramas. "The joy of working with film people is their can-do attitude," Teall says. "I had approached high-end furniture makers who gave me outrageous estimates and didn't grasp the humour in the pieces. An architectural model-making firm refused to build the Iraq prison camp."
Emmerich is currently in Vancouver filming, but family and friends visit regularly, sleeping in the guest suites. "It's a choice of English camp or American butch," says Teall, who designed the former with Princess Diana paraphernalia: hand-painted rose wallpaper, a gold bedspread with velvet maroon crown canopy from Harrison Gill in Chelsea ("It was so hideous, but it totally worked"); Charles and Di wedding dolls found on eBay that now languish in the fireplace, and Alison Jackson's photographs of a fake royal family in various compromising situations. The American room is kitted out with army-issue gear, including a bed throw neatly sewn from 70 pairs of vintage army underwear bought from a bemused army surplus store owner. The headboard is adapted from a second world war aeroplane wing. Resting on a bedside table is a photograph of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, wearing an open dressing gown revealing a hairy six-pack, Photoshopped from a gay website.There are photos here.
The Chinese government has hit upon a novel solution for preventing troublesome protests from erupting at Olympic events: surreptitiously lose most of the tickets, and bus in well-disciplined cheer squads to fill the empty seats, taking place of unpredictable members of the public:
Blocks of tickets went to government departments, Communist party officials or state-owned companies, which have quietly obeyed orders not to hand them out. “People are so angry because they slept all night outside ticket booths and got nothing and now they see this,” said one blogger, Jian Yu.
At some football matches in the northern city of Shenyang, only a third of the seats were taken. Even some gymnastics finals, usually one of the biggest attractions on the programme, were not sold out.Of course, people who waited for tickets but failed to get them (from ordinary Chinese sports fans to the relatives of foreign competitors) are rather annoyed, though they are assuming that the purpose of the Olympics is to provide an entertaining spectacle (or, alternately, to serve as a promotional exercise for corporate sponsors). The Chinese government's view of the Games' purpose is somewhat different: to buy legitimacy for a worrisomely totalitarian one-party state (one typically associated with doing unspeakable things to cuddly
And here is Charlie Brooker's take on it.
A funny thing happened in Berlin recently, where Madame Tussaud's opened their latest wax museum. Being ostensibly an educational institution, they had to put some historical figures amongst the celebrities, and it would have been impossible to cover the history of Germany without mentioning the elephant in the room, Adolf Hitler.
Of course, in Germany, any depiction of Hitler or the symbols of Nazism is still fraught with the risk that someone will rally to them or regard them with sympathy, and that the embers of Nazism may once again be fanned into flame; which is why Nazi symbols are banned in Germany, leading to things such as, many years ago, American heavy-metal band KISS having had to change their logo for the German market because two lightning-bolt-shaped 'S's are verboten there.
The Madame Tussaud's management took no chances; they posed Hitler behind a desk, to prevent visitors from getting too close to him, and showed him (quite reasonably) in a state of abject defeat. Additionally, the museum banned touching, kissing or posing with the dummy, and posted security guards to enforce this rule.
All of this was for naught, because, minutes after the museum opened, its second-ever visitor, an ex-policeman turned left-wing anarchist, vaulted the desk and ripped Hitler's head off:
Mr L. resigned from the Berlin police after being assigned to quell a May Day demonstration of left-wing anarchists – “I realised I belonged on the other side,” he said. Since then he has been active in the punk and squatter scene; since February he has been a care worker. His girlfriend Yvonne said: “I’m really proud of him. I’ve been furious about Hitler for days.”The act has been met with popular acclaim in Berlin:
One commentator hailed it as “a successful assassination attempt – sadly 75 years overdue”.
Henryk Broder, a columnist for Der Spiegel, exclaimed: “At last, a successful attack on Hitler!” His one quibble was the nature of Frank L.’s political outburst – no more war. Mr Broder said: “If the Allies hadn’t waged war on Hitler, we might still be under the yoke of his heirs. He should have shouted ‘Never again dictatorship!’ But that’s not a very fashionable rallying call on the Left.”
Politicians were also shedding no tears for the wax Führer. The Social Democrat politician Frank Zimmermann said: “It’s more of an artwork to rip off Hitler’s head than to put him on display.”It's interesting to contrast this with The Times' own readers' comments about the "Looney Left" and its rabid intolerance.
Charlie Brooker weighs into the London mayoral election; he's voting for Ken Livingstone, if only to stop Boris Johnson from winning:
A few years back, during the run-up to the Nathan Barley TV series, my co-author Chris Morris and I briefly kicked around a storyline about an animated MP running for election. When I say "animated", I mean literally animated. He was a cartoon - the political equivalent of Gorillaz - fashioned from state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery so that he could move and talk in real time, like Max Headroom. His speech would be provided on-the-fly by a professional cartoon voice artist working in conjunction with a team of political advisers and comedy writers, so he'd have an impish personality not dissimilar to the genie in Disney's Aladdin. Debating against him would be impossible because he'd make outrageously goonish statements one minute and trot out cunning political platitudes the next. Because he wasn't real, he'd never age, die, or be bogged down in scandal - and huge swathes of the population would vote for him just because they found him cool or fun or different.
Fast-forward to now. On May 1 London chooses its mayor, and I've got a horrible feeling it might pick Boris Johnson for similar reasons. Johnson - or to give him his full name, Boris LOL!!!! what a legernd!! Johnson!!! - is a TV character loved by millions for his cheeky, bumbling persona. Unlike the cartoon MP, he's magnetically prone to scandal, but this somehow only makes him more adorable each time. Tee hee! Boris has had an affair! Arf! Now he's offended the whole of Liverpool! Crumbs! He used the word "picaninnies"! Yuk yuk! He's been caught on tape agreeing to give the address of a reporter to a friend who wants him beaten up! Ho ho! Look at his funny blond hair! HA HA BORIS LOL!!!! WHAT A LEGERND!!!!!!Brooker then suggests that, should Johnson win the mayorality and not end up destroying London, that could open the doors to all parties running novelty candidates in the following election:
Basil Brush would be a shoo-in. Churchill, the nodding dog from the car insurance ads - he'll do. Or if we're after the ironic vote, how about Gene Hunt from Life on Mars? Or Phil Mitchell? At least he's a Londoner.
Former Playboy model, reality TV star and existentialist philosopher Anna Nicole Smith has been found dead in a motel room in Florida. While much has been said about her marriages and media appearances, Smith is perhaps most notable for her terse summation of the human condition into seven words: "it's just so hard to be me", a statement which stands alongside Sartre's "Hell is other people" in the annals of modern thought.
The cause of death has not been announced. More details are here.