An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which follows the ex-VP’s continuing attempts to raise awareness of global warming, made $900,000 across 180 screens on the weekend of August 4-6, according to Box Office Mojo.
But the original made $1,356,387 across just 77 screens at the same point in its run in 2006, leaving Paramount’s confidence in the movie’s appeal looking misplaced.
Its documentary Daughters of Destiny, about a remarkable free school for India’s untouchables, doesn’t steer you to any conclusions but lets you think for yourself.
All this week I have been trying, with considerable success, to avoid being bludgeoned by TV programmes telling me in various sensitive and imaginative ways just how brilliant, heroic and historically maligned homosexual men are. I achieved this by sticking to Netflix.
One of the great things about Netflix (whose annual subscription costs just half the BBC licence fee, by the way) is that though it’s probably run by lefties it doesn’t try to ram its politics down your throat. Maybe this is one reason why its 100 million-plus subscribers are so much less resentful than BBC viewers: they’re being offered choice, variety, entertainment — not worthiness, race, gender quotas and compulsory indoctrination.
This week Netflix helped me catch up — under Girl’s instruction — with an addictively trashy series from 2012 about spoilt rich kids in New York called Gossip Girl; and also with a gripping documentary series — Captive — about how horrible it is being taken hostage. Best of all, though, was Daughters of Destiny — a four-part series telling the delightful true story of the Shanti Bhavan school in India’s Tamil Nadu province.
Here is what the Chancellor of Britain’s University of Kent thinks about Breitbart.
Völkischer Beobachter was, of course, the house newspaper in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s of the NSDAP – aka the Nazi party. So what Esler is doing here in his not-so-subtle way is accusing Breitbart of being a Nazi publication.
Yes, part of me thinks: so what? Angry leftists are forever accusing people who disagree with them of being Nazis; and of course in Breitbart’s case the charge is especially absurd given that Breitbart’s founder and CEO (together with several senior editors) is Jewish, that the site is pro-Israel, pro-freedom-of-speech, pro-property-rights, pro-free-markets, pro-civil-liberties, pro-democracy – none of which policies would have found much favor with the Nazis.
In BBC2’s The Box That Changed the World, Melvyn Bragg presented a Whiggish view of TV history so full of bien-pensant drivel that I had to switch over to ITV2
Melvyn Bragg on TV: The Box That Changed the World (BBC2, Saturday) was just what you would have expected of a critical appreciation of 75 years of TV, filmed at Bafta and presented by one of the BBC’s pre-eminent house luvvies. As an antidote I had to switch over to ITV2 to watch Love Island.
Yes, I hate Love Island too — every episode leaves me feeling soiled. It’s a mating game show, in which couples compete to shag one another in Majorca for a £50,000 prize, and, with ratings of around 1.7 million, it’s probably the most talked about programme on TV, which fashionable people are pretending to enjoy to show how down they are with popular culture. But I only watch it to keep Girl company and to reinforce my prejudice that we are fast approaching the end of western civilisation. Had reality TV existed in Rome in the late 4th century, I’m sure they would have made programmes exactly like this.
All the boy contestants are heavily worked-out lummocks who wouldn’t have a clue what to do with an aubergine unless it was something quite disgusting; all the girls wear revealing costumes, often with skimpy briefs that ride up their bottom cracks. But though there’s lots of talk of sex — rude charade games, naughty banter, plus some actual bonking (twice so far, though by previous series’ standards this is apparently quite abstemious) — it’s all weirdly unerotic.
BBC4’s new two-parter, How Hippies Changed the World, makes me wonder whether it was all worth it.
There’s an incredibly addictive old iPhone game called Doodle God where you effectively invent civilisation from scratch by combining basic elements. So, for example, water plus lava creates steam; the steam, in turn, can be combined with another more advanced element, I forget which, later in the game to create steam power; and so on and on until, from the primordial ooze, you have, through continual experiment, created nuclear weaponry and computers and aeroplanes and all the things we take for granted today.
I was reminded of it while watching part one (of two) of The Summer Of Love: How Hippies Changed the World (BBC4, Friday). Hippiedom, it argued, emerged from the random collision of three disparate movements in the late 1960s San Francisco Bay area — the Nature Boys, the Truthseekers and the Political Wing.
We now take it for granted that organic carrot juice, psychedelic drugs and virulently left-wing politics go hand in hand, but by the documentary’s account this was an accident of geography and fate: it just so happened that the radicals from America’s most left-wing university, Berkeley, lived next door to the acid-taking sophisticates who’d all read Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception and also to the back-to-nature freaks — such as Gypsy Boots, founder of America’s first health-food store in 1959 — who in turn had been inspired by the Lebensreform movement of late 19th-century Germany.
The music industry’s reputation for being full of bloodsucking parasites is spot on, if this BBC4 doc is anything to go by.
Birds have been giving me a lot of grief of late. There’s Tappy — the blue tit who has built his nest just underneath my bedroom window and makes rat-like scuffling noises that bother me at night and wake me early in the morning. And Hoppy, a mistle thrush fledgling who can’t quite fly yet, which means we have to keep the cat indoors, which means I have to deal with its horrible shit in the litter tray every day before breakfast. And the rookery in the big ash, whose inhabitants are very vocal, especially when one of their babies falls out of the nest and gets devoured by the dog.
I may be only a couple of dawn choruses away from losing it altogether, as my fellow Brummie Ozzy Osbourne once famously did with a pair of white doves. He had brought the doves into the offices of his record company, supposedly as a peace gesture to show that there was still life in his career now that he had left Black Sabbath.
The story — Osbourne gets drunk and, bored, bites birds’ heads off — is usually told to indicate just how dangerous, unhinged and metal Ozzy is. But actually, it tells us much more about the dark, calculating genius of his manager (and now wife) Sharon. Instead of trying to suppress the ugly story, which threatened to finish what was left of Osbourne’s career, she promoted it everywhere. His album, Blizzard of Ozz, went on to sell millions.
Sharon was an interesting choice to present Rock ’n’ Roll’s Dodgiest Deals (BBC4, Friday) on how rock stars are ripped off and exploited, given that that’s largely what her dad Don Arden — also a manager — did to bands such as the Small Faces. After the boys had had a string of hits, their parents went round to confront Arden, asking why their kids still had so little money. ‘They’ve spent it all on drugs,’ lied Arden.
But at least they had pocket money, accounts at Lord John of Carnaby Street, and a nice flat rented for them in Pimlico next to Honor Blackman’s. The Animals, who clearly would have been better off with a manager like Arden, got almost nothing for their ‘House of the Rising Sun’. According to singer Eric Burdon, when they went out to the Bahamas, where the $4 million they’d made was being held for their safekeeping, the holding bank— if it ever existed — had disappeared.
How accurate were these stories? Hard to say given that this was more an exercise in nostalgia than a properly forensic examination of how rock stars make their money. What’s clear is that the music industry’s reputation for swarming with bloodsucking parasites has not been overdone — and that bands really do need their Ardens, their Peter (Led Zeppelin) Grants and their Miles Copelands if they’re not to end up in penury.
Breitbart is a “very extreme right” organization that pumps out “fake news” but has no impact in the real world because it is ignored by the mainstream media.
I learned this from a Berkeley professor of linguistics called George Lakoff who was given space by the BBC to spout his views, virtually unchallenged, for half an hour this week on a Radio 4 programme called Word of Mouth.
Lakoff was introduced as an “eminent linguist” at the “forefront of the debate.” But no indication was given by the presenter Michael Rosen that he is, in fact, a left-wing professor from a left-wing university best known for writing left-wing books about how awful conservatives are and, most recently, for his vocal opposition to Donald Trump.
Perhaps this is because Rosen is left-wing himself.
As I’ve argued over similar issues before, none of this would matter a damn if Radio 4 were a commercial channel paid for by advertising or a subscription channel for smug liberals who wanted none of their prejudices challenged.
But Radio 4 is neither of those things. It’s a branch of Britain’s state broadcasting arm, the BBC — an organization funded by a compulsory subscription fee which all users are obliged to pay on pain of imprisonment. While it’s true that you don’t need a TV license to listen to the radio, it’s also true that Radio 4 is a long-established beneficiary of the BBC’s quasi-monopolistic domination of Britain’s airwaves. It has virtually no competition in the field of spoken-word features on the radio, firstly, because it has dominated the medium for so long and secondly because it is so massively subsidised (hence the lack of irritating adverts!), it would be virtually suicidal for any commercial venture to try to compete with it. In return for this extremely privileged position—which ought, by rights, to have long since been withdrawn by anti-monopoly regulators — it is obliged under the terms of the BBC’s charter to produce output that is rigorously fair and balanced.
This is why we should get cross: not because nasty, horrid, untrue things were said about Breitbart, but because nasty, horrid, untrue things were said about Breitbart by an organization wearing the mantle of authority and the mask of objectivity.
Germany has effectively declared war on Britain via its EU functionaries. How should Britain respond? Well, I can see at least three good reasons for accepting their challenge.
We got in lots of practice from 1914 to 1918 and again from 1939 and 1945. Plus, unlike the Germans, we’re still pretty match fit from Iraq and Afghanistan. So the next one should be a walkover.
The German military is fat, unfit and swarming with peaceniks who have been brainwashed by an education system which for the last 70 years has been teaching them that “war is bad, m’kay?”
Free men always fight better than slaves. (See, e.g., Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture). Germans really have nothing left worth fighting for: they are ruled by an elective dictatorship; their country is no longer theirs.
But I think if we are going to make absolutely sure of winning this one, there’s one thing we’re going to have to do first: dismantle the BBC.
Anyone who watched the BBC Nine O’Clock News last night with Laura Kuenssberg will know exactly what I’m talking about here.
Usually, BBC star reporters attempt at least a half-hearted gesture at pretending to be politically neutral in their reportage. But last night, on the BBC’s lead comment item on Britain’s Brexit negotiations, Kuenssberg was so flagrantly partisan that she might as well have done to the strains of Ode to Joy while draped in the blue and gold-starred Euro flag and wearing a huge badge saying “I heart Jean-Claude Juncker.”
Let’s just briefly recap on what has happened so far:
Theresa May invited President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker and his entourage to dinner at 10 Downing Street. Though it was reportedly all smiles on the occasion itself, afterwards a very different version of events was leaked to a German newspaper – possibly by Juncker himself, more likely by his sinister chief of staff, a German lawyer and dark arts practitioner called Martin Selmayr.
According to this German version of events, the evening had been “desastrose” and “eine Katastrophe.” Juncker had made it clear that “Brexit cannot be a success” and had – after some characteristically ill-mannered remarks about British cuisine – left dinner feeling “ten times more sceptical” about the prospects of a smooth Brexit transition. Juncker then reportedly phoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to tell her that Mrs May was “living in a different galaxy” and “deluded.” At which point Mrs Merkel could have chosen to pour oil on troubled waters by insisting that as far as Germany was concerned the only aim was to find a Brexit agreement satisfactory to all parties. But she didn’t. Instead, Mrs Merkel stuck in the knife by making a speech to the German parliament warning that Mrs May should drop her “illusions”.
Yesterday I asked of lying liar climate ‘scientist’ Michael Mann: “Does anyone take this guy seriously any more?”
But the question was a purely rhetorical one. I already knew the depressing true answer having just sat, fuming, in my car listening to Mann being given the red carpet treatment on a BBC Radio 4 science programme.
“Oh Professor Doctor Mann, Sir, may it please your eminence to descend from your radiant cloud for a few precious moments and explain to us mere mortals why your amazing and unquestionably brilliant new paper on global warming demonstrates you to be even more right about climate change than you were even in the days when you won your Nobel prize?” fawned and grovelled the BBC’s interviewer from his prostrate position on the studio floor.
Perhaps I exaggerate slightly.
But it would be fair to say that the BBC’s interviewer, Adam Rutherford, sought to leave the listener in no doubt that when it came to climate science the “Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science” Michael Mann was a respected expert of great insight whose opinions one could totally trust.
Jack Whitehall could have been perfectly awful as Paul Pennyfeather in Decline and Fall (BBC1, Fridays). He has spent most of his career comically playing up to a common person’s idea of what a posh person looks like: the stand-up who went to the same public school (Marlborough) as Kate Middleton; JP, the Jack-Wills-wearing yah character from Fresh Meat, who went to Stowe; Alfie, the impeccably upper-middle-class, Mumford & Sons-loving history teacher, in Bad Education.
But Evelyn Waugh’s class humour is more sophisticatedly snobbish than that, written for a more discerning audience in the days — sigh — when even semi-educated people knew the order of precedence between a duke, a marquess, an earl and, say, a common-or-garden baron. Would Whitehall, lowly son of a mere theatrical agent, really be up to such subtleties? Or would he overplay it as yet another lovable, mugging Hooray?
Well, I’m happy to report that young Jack (still only 28, the bastard) has done Waugh proud. He has produced a performance, his most mature to date, entirely in the service of the part — which is to say, self-effacing, mildly bewildered, almost cipher-like in its modesty. Pennyfeather’s job, after all, is to act as the bemused butt of Waugh’s sadistic humour. The world is a cruel and unjust place, Waugh had already realised by the time (at 24) he published his first bestseller. Pennyfeather is his part autobiographical hero, part torture victim.
You see him play both roles in the glorious opening scene where the Bollinger (i.e. the Bullingdon) is holding one of its booze-ups, ‘baying for broken glass’, and Pennyfeather, a mildly studious, tweedy undergrad destined for the clergy, makes the mistake of walking across his college quad at just the wrong moment. His punishment is to be brutally debagged.
Afterwards, we see the college authorities discussing how to punish this terrible crime. By which, of course, they don’t mean the raucous toffs — who are immune because they can afford to buy their way out with fines — but Pennyfeather who, by allowing himself to become a victim in so vulgar a way, has proved himself quite unworthy of the college. Naturally, the only thing to do is send him down. ‘I expect you’ll want to become a schoolmaster,’ says the mildly sympathetic college porter as he hands back his room key. ‘That’s what most of the young gentlemen does that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.’
This is classic Waugh, his voice and humour already fully developed