Writing from February 2001

Culture Shock

I've been back in England for almost a couple of months now and it's not what I expected. You might think I'd know what to expect, having lived here for all my life apart from the thirteen months I spent in Houston (or rather its outer orbiting satellite suburb of Clear Lake). The last time I was back in Blighty was last summer, when I spent a blissful two months staying with friends, working, going out and genuinely walking around London with a smile on my face. It was then so wonderful to be back that my return has been something of an anticlimax.

Continued…

In Personal on 4 February 2001. Permalink

Popstars - the year ahead

I think the rejected five should be formed into a band, a kind of anti-Popstars. Bitter, vengeful young things wearing black and singing about death, drugs and the pain of being hugely talented attractive folk who don't quite cut it. This will be bigger than all previous rock'n'roll feuds rolled into one. It'll reach a peak by Christmas when Popstars A will make a bid for the Xmas No. 1 with their cover of a classic Steps tune, only to have Popstars B (since blamed for three school shootings and the ritual sacrifice of a pet hamster in Dulwich) release a surprise rival bid for the top, a hate-filled scream-fest of bile about how they've never liked any of the Christmas presents their parents ever bought them and what's Boxing Day all about anyway. The entire Christmas Top of the Pops will be given over to a marathon Popstars session with Billie presenting from the safety of a plexiglass booth in the corner of the studio. Both groups play all their number one hits of the past year, while rival groups of teenage fans pelt each other with Sunny Delight-soaked wads of Pringles as the climax approaches. The final five minutes are simulcast on BBC 1 and 2 in a unique "interactive TV experiment," allowing the viewer to select images and sound of their favourite of the two Xmas singles, being sung simultaneously by the bands now seperated by a fire-filled chasm. Across the nation fights break out in living rooms as sulky teenagers beat their younger siblings senseless with remote controls in an effort to watch their favourite anti-heroes scream on BBC2. As both tunes leave their simultaneous middle-eights, with the Irish lad about to angrily RiverDance his way over to Myleene and burn the strings of her harp, with the studio descending into some horrific pre-pubescent West Side Story, with Billie cowering alone in her piss-sodden booth, Darius will descend from the heavens and bring peace and love to the world, and a new era of enlightenment shall dawn in which all men will be free to sing Britney Spears tunes without fear of being mocked by their peers.

In Music on 5 February 2001. Permalink

As square as Dawon’s jaw

Contains possible spoilers for British Roswell High viewers.

As any media studies student would be able to point out by the end of the "last week, on Roswell High" flashback, the show is an obvious metaphor on the alienation felt by every teenager. While all teens feel they are somehow misunderstood, these four American kids really are different. You wouldn't know it though, and not thanks to the clever alien genetic engineering that created them. While all angst-ridden youngsters are, in reality, just the same as everyone else, so the quartet of troubled off-worlders are identical to the rest of the Earthly population (or, at least, Americans). Not because they've managed to blend in perfectly with the regular small-town inhabitants, but because none of the locals appear to be human. All of them share the shallow characterization and stilted, melodramatic speech patterns of the well-scrubbed quartet, with the sole exception of Maria, the feisty but frustrated waitress who seems like the only genuine human trapped in a world of aliens. Perhaps this could be used when the increasingly preposterous plotlines begin to flag in a couple of series time.

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In Television on 9 February 2001. Permalink

A TIZ too far

[ TIZ = Temporary Intimate Zone ]

On the train home from London a couple of weeks ago I was sitting opposite a girl who was on the phone for half an hour to her newly-ex-boyfriend, and it was like a whole week's worth of EastEnders:

Continued…

In Personal on 21 February 2001. Permalink