The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'cool britannia'
Louise Wener, frontwoman of Britpop band Sleeper turned popular novelist, has written a memoir of her time in the Britpop scene/hype machine. If this review (by the ever-credible Jude Rogers, in the perennially right-on New Statesman) is anything to go by, it sounds like an interesting read:
After many years of Wener playing in different bands to general indifference, her four-piece Sleeper - named after the Woody Allen film - finally get signed by a major label in 1993. She is unforgiving about the conservative bias of the independent music scene, and holds the media in particular contempt. In the band's first interview with the New Musical Express, she is infuriated by a self-professed "revolutionary Trotskyite revisionist Leninist" who directs all his questions to her male bandmates, and later dismisses her as a "mad, ranty pop bird on the loose".
Wener also dismantles the myth that the likes of Blur were intelligent pop revolutionaries. She describes their rudeness, their ruthless ambition and their "easy, bohemian, moneyed odour". And then there are the groupies. Wener leaves nothing out. The bassist Alex James tells a young woman, "You're ugly, but I'm going to fuck you anyway," while their tour manager is despatched to select attractive girls from the audience and give them after-show tickets, known as "Blur-job passes".
The latest recipients of knighthoods include actor David Jason (best known as the voice of Dangermouse) and BBC presenter Terry Wogan (who misses out on being called Sir because he's an Irish citizen). Meanwhile the title of Companion of the British Empire goes to Dame Judi Dench and the two founders of film production company Working Title (which is sort of the Merchant-Ivory of Cool Britannia).
Working Title, the (Hollywood-funded) British film company whose studiedly "quirky" romantic comedies have become as synonymous with the 1990s as Merchant-Ivory costume dramas were with the Thatcher era, are putting the formula to rest. That's right, Hugh Grant will have to find something else to do. The studio will continue to make films in other genres (and, indeed, outside of swinging London and whimsical Britain; Working Title have made several films in Australia, including Ned Kelly and that Australian gangster comedy that followed shortly afterwards); chances are, whatever they are, they will be written to formula, focus-grouped to grab the broadest possible audience, and will make a mint.
Former Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell has condemned a reality TV show based on selecting potential MPs. Campbell has denounced ITV's "Vote For Me" series (or "Political Idol", as some call it), in which an "independent" political candidate is selected and groomed from a field of contestants, as exploiting youth cynicism and undermining the importance of politics. Which is all a bit rich, coming from the architect of Cool Britannia and Teflon Tony's image-conscious, style-over-substance media strategy.
Cool Britannia et al. In this postmodern age of designer style over generic substance, nation-states are learning from corporations and redefining themselves as brands:
The British management consultant Peter York has even argued that Nike's "swooshffitick logo means precisely what the crucifix meant to an earlier generation in ghettos -- it promises redemption, vindication and a way out."
In Belgium, for example, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has hired a team of image-makers to rebuild the country's reputation after years of scandals involving government corruption, child pornography, and dioxin-polluted chickens. In an attempt to clear the air, Belgium has decided to introduce a new logo and hip colors and will sport the cool Internet suffix ".be" as its international symbol. The overall aim of the campaign is to emulate Virgin, which, according to one Belgian advertising expert, "isn't big, but you see it everywhere you look."
(from the Council on Foreign Relations, who may or may not be a front for the Bavarian Illuminati and/or secretly controlling everything fnord from behind the scenes.)
News from Cannes: Bolshy British kitchen-sink film director Ken Loach has spoken out against current British film, saying that it's too concerned with being Hollywoodish. He has a point; most of the films coming out of the UK are rather formulaic. I blame Working Title and the "Cool Britannia" thing. Meanwhile, critical reaction to Baz Luhrmann's latest opus, Moulin Rouge, has not been the nigh-universal acclaim the Australian press would have us believe, with some critics dismissing it as little more than a music video aimed at adolescents. I guess we'll have to wait to find out.