Sunday, 31 May 2009

Winners and losers

OK, so I wouldn't ordinarily follow up one post with another on the same subject, but given how big the Britain's Got Talent final was (over 19 million viewers - unheard of in a multi-channel age) I felt I needed to close the book on the subject.

Watching the show last night I was struck with an almost Calvinistic sense of predestination (I win extra points for using big words). It was as though there were nine contestants competing for the trophy, with Susan Boyle as a kind of wild-card-cum-guest-star. As a consequence, there was an uncomfortable atmosphere as the other nine acts gave their all in a show that seemed to be a foregone conclusion - as predictable as Lost having a season finale with a WTF moment. By the time Piers Morgan told Susan she was his favourite contestant and that he hoped she would win, it seemed as though the fat lady had sung (sorry, easy joke).

But then Diversity took to the stage, with another stunningly choreographed performance showcasing their wild-haired bespectacled secret weapon, who looks more and more like Scary Spice's Mini-Me.

And somehow, all the hype, coverage and hyperbole took second place to a genuine display of spectacular talent.

As much as I loved Susan's performances, and watching her go from spinster to superstar, I can think of no more fitting ending to a talent show than for the most talented act to win. And although there's an anti-climactic sense of 'is that it?' about being denied the denouement we all expected, we should be happy with how it turned out. Unfortunately, the media now have to cover their backs for making the SuBo story run and run, which is why half the headlines about the result seem to be about who came second, rather than who actually won. Even the press conference this morning with the Essex-based dance troupe focused more on Susan than anything else.

The reason Susan caught the imagination of the world wasn't because she had the most remarkable voice we'd ever heard. It was because she reminded us to look beneath the surface. She told us to never give up on our dreams, no matter how old we are. And she proved that eyebrows demand regular management.

More importantly, she showed us that winning wasn't as important as proving to the world that we have something to offer. Think back to her first audition, when she finished her song and walked straight offstage - she wasn't there for the judges, she just wanted her chance to show what she could do. She dreamed a dream, and for a few weeks, it was one we all shared.

Friday, 29 May 2009

The media reaches Boyling point

Obama's election, Bobby's resurrection in the shower and the WMD in Iraq. All pale into insignificance when compared with the column inches dedicated to a middle-aged spinster with unruly hair and depressing dress sense.

Unless you spent the last few weeks in a persistent vegitative state, you're no doubt aware that the UK is in the grip of Britain's Got Talent mania. All this week we've been treated to the semi-finals, as each night eight acts took their turn to showcase a staggering lack of the show's eponymous quality, with a few notable exceptions of course.

But there's only one act that anyone seems to care about, and that's Susan Boyle, AKA The Hairy Angel, SuBO (the woman has more aliases than Sydney Bristow). With the show heading inexorably towards its final edition tonight, the media has responded by filling its front pages with speculative, and often falsified, stories about Susan. It's no wonder the poor woman got off to a shaky start last week, even Jesus' second coming will be under considerably less scrutiny.

First it was Lily Allen 'blasting' Susan (in fact she simply said that the Scottish singer was overrated), then plastic-faced uber-gay Craig Revel-Horwood waded in to say that Susan sucked (presumably forgetting that he's a judge on a different show). Most recently, it was even considered news that Heather Mills was unaware of Susan's existence (presumably the apocryphal Amazonian tribe unaware of James Bond or Michael Jackson have at least watched SuBo's YouTube audition).

Then there are the stories of Susan herself, rather than desperate media tag-nuts who invoke her name for some easy column inches. Susan's moods, Boyle's breakdown, Susan quitting, Susan's pep-talk from Simon, Piers' defense of Susan, Susan's safe-house. It's enough to make your head spin.

In amongst all this coverage were two consecutive stories in my favourite neo-Nazi rag, the Daily Mail, which highlighted the alarming disparity between news and fact. In typical foaming-at-the-mouth style, the Mail churnalists had stated that Susan "stunned a room full of hotel guests with a four-letter rant... Watching the show the hotel's bar, Boyle is accused of sticking two fingers up at a television and shouting 'f*** off', before stomping off to her room." Weirdly, just 24 hours later, Susan's 'furious four-letter outbursts' were reported somewhat differently: "The churchgoer twice slammed her fists down on her chair, swore under her breath then hid away in her room at London's Wembley Plaza Hotel." Now, call me a pedant, but swearing under one's breath can hardly be considered an outburst.

Still, the old saying goes 'There's no such thing as bad publicity'. The show's been in the public eye all week, ratings have never been higher, and Simon Cowell will be able to afford lots more cosmetic orthodontic work. So everyone's happy. Apart from Susan, of course, who just seems to be caught in the middle of this media-managed maelstrom. Let's hope she pulls something out of the bag for tonight's final, starting with a decent outfit.

Have a little faith

The other day, I wrote about Mike Judge's new animated comedy The Goode Family, and lamented the fact that reactions had been so predictably partisan. The point is, it's OK to have conflicting viewpoints, and sometimes laugh at your own world-view. Beliefs aren't the problem, fanaticism is.

The last twenty or so years have seen fanatics in the US hijack religion and twist it to suit their own ends. Crooked televangelists like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, evil bigots like Pat Robertson, and flat-out fucktards like Fred Phelps and his inbred clan of hate screamers have all managed to misappropriate the meaning of Christianity.

So it's refreshing and more than a little heart-warming when other people with a recognisably religious persona speak out with a more progressive message. First up was tween legend Miley Cyrus, who took to Twitter to say "I am a Christian and I love you - gay or not - BECAUSE you are no different than anyone else! We are all God's children." OK, so the 'all God's children' bit was a little too Children of the Corn, but clearly her heart's as big as her gums.

This week, Marie Osmond (described on Wikipedia as 'actress, singer and doll-designer') spoke out in support of her lesbian daughter Jessica, calling her a "magnificent woman" and advocating equal rights for gays and lesbians under the law. This was in response to an article in The Globe, which alleged Marie was heartsick about her daughter's sapphic leanings.

Contradicting the widely-held view that, as a Mormon, she was sure to oppose the gay lifestyle, Marie said "I think it's sad when we have to separate something from society... There are a lot of women out there who have gay children, who cares?" she said. "I want love. I'm a Christian and Christ was that way - he loved everybody."

It's just a shame that so many people who identify as 'Christian' will commit the entire Bible to memory, and yet never once consider the meaning of the words that they scream at people from the roadside.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Whaddya gonna do, arrest me?

It's amazing what £1m can get you. You could buy yourself a nice country pile, snap up the rights to a C-list celebrity wedding, or just sit in the hotseat and heckle Chris Tarrant with nothing to lose. Alternatively, you could book Sharon Stone to screw up the launch of a new hotel.

The stunningly well-preserved 51-year old was invited to emcee the opening of the Mardan Palace Hotel in Turkey, for which she simply had to show up and read her lines off a teleprompter. Unfortunately, this proved to be her undoing when the word "Azerbaijan" scrolled onto the screen. Coming off-script, she's reported to have said "What is that? I can't pronounce this! Chaka Khan! Chaka Khan!"

It's not the first time that Sharon's opened her mouth and got into trouble (as opposed to her legs). This time last year, she wondered out loud whether the earthquake that killed almost 70,000 people was simply karma in action, because China was "not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine."

Admittedly, there's nothing new about celebrities speaking their mind, only to realise that they don't actually have one. The difference is, Sharon is widely reputed to have a near-genius IQ of 154. That's six less than Einstein if anyone's counting. As a consequence, she's always fancied herself as something of a philosophical feminist, commenting "If you have a vagina and an attitude in this town, then that's a lethal combination." Unfortunately, so is a big mouth and insufficient intellect to back it up. Verdict? Sharon Stone - dumb as a rock.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Who's laughing now?

There were concerns amongst the liberal comedy community that the election of Barack Obama sounded the death knell for political humour. After all, George W Bush gave satirists, humourists and general takers of piss eight years of great material. With the US finally selecting a strong, dependable and trustworthy leader, where was the comedy gold to be mined?

Recently, US network ABC premiered its new animated comedy show, The Goode Family. Created by Mike Judge, the talent behind Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill, the show focuses on a family of environmentally-friendly, politically-correct liberals, with an adopted African son and a vegan dog. As with most new comedy shows, opinions are divided, but I'm sad to say that they're split almost exclusively along political lines.

Liberal viewers are dismayed that their uber-tolerant, ultra-considerate, worldly-wise lifestyles are being skewered on prime time TV. Irrespective of the fact that right-wing views are regularly satirised in animated shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad. Alternatively, conservatives are falling over themselves to congratulate ABC for finally daring to poke fun at 'ditzy do-gooders' who 'care so very, very much about everything' - as though caring for things and doing good is a bad thing. They also seem to feel that, by poking fun at environmentalism, the show invalidates the concepts of sustainability and conservation.

Unfortunately, both sides are missing the point. I'm happy to remain blissfully ignorant about Mike Judge's political leanings, but early clips suggest that he is using the show to poke fun at liberal guilt and the pressure involved in always making the right choice. It doesn't really matter how he votes, as long as the humour he uses shows an inherent understanding of the issues he's portraying. In the pilot episode, the speaker in the organic supermarket announces “Attention One Earth shoppers. The driver of the SUV is in aisle four. He’s wearing a baseball cap” and the family's Toyota Prius has a bumper sticker that reads “Support our troops and their opponents.” This shows a sharp understanding of the complexities of modern life, and the way people try to do what's best, despite a conflicting sense of priorities.

A good friend of mine repeatedly reminds me that true intelligence is the ability to hold two conflicting points-of-view at the same time, and it's clear that this show understands that principle. So even if I see myself as the butt of many of the jokes, I hope the show lives long enough to find its audience.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Bible according to Mel

Who remembers 9-to-5, starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin? In it, the three women gang up to take revenge against their boss, played by Dabney Coleman, who they labelled a 'sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot'. Which brings me, none-too-subtly, to the original Mad Max.

Mel Gibson, the one-time king of Hollywood (often incorrectly labelled as Australian, when in fact he was born in the US) has, in recent years, withdrawn from the silver screen. These days, he spends most of his time behind the camera, unless it's mounted in a police station for the sole purpose of taking mugshots.

He's been in the news lately, althought thankfully this time it wasn't for unleashing a torrent of anti-semitic bile at the police. He's been proudly announcing that his girlfriend, Russian singer Oksana Grigorieva, is pregnant with his eighth child. It's highly likely that this is the kind of 'irreconcilable difference' that his wife Robyn had in mind when she filed for divorce last month.

Now I'm not one to judge (much), but my issue here is with Mel's hypocrisy. In sharing his Aramaic-language slasher movie with the world (and pocketing an extraordinary amount of money in the process) he made a very public statement about his Catholic faith. So I'm curious as to how Mel reconciles his adultery with his religion. Or, for that matter, the fact that he recently settled a lawsuit with the writer of 'Passion of the Christ' who accepted a far lower salary than he would normally claim, based on Mel's substantial understatement of the film's budget. None of these things strike me as being particularly Christian qualities.

Since Robyn and Mel have been married for 28 years, she's apparently entitled to half of his £600 million fortune. The more I learn about Mel, the more I reckon that she's earned every penny.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Chuck you!

Actor, martial-artist and professional beard-wearer Chuck Norris has spent recent years getting increasingly involved in politics. And it should come as no surprise that, much like his action movie counterparts, he leans heavily towards the right.

Last week, Chuck's regular column on focused on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. For the uninitiated, this is a proposed federal bill designed to expand the 1969 hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It's known as the Matthew Shepard Act, in honour of the young gay man who was picked up in a bar by two straight men, driven to the middle of nowhere, savagely beaten and left tied to a gate. He died several days later in hospital from his severe head injuries.

But Chuck doesn't like this law. He believes that it's squeezing out Americans' constitutional right to freedom of speech. Despite aknowledging that the purpose of the bill is to target crimes of brutality (something he's made a career out of), he fears that local judges could choose to expand it to cover a wider field of offences. All pure conjecture of course, but the real issue here is that Chuck fears that he won't be able to hate people freely. Because that's what America is all about. He even invokes the name of Carrie Prejean (yes her, again) and talks about how the poor thing was victimised for "respectfully giving her personal opinions." No mention, of course, of the fact that Miss Prejean has been actively campaigning to take away gay people's rights to marry.

Ironically, Chuck also uses this platform to condemn the fact that jokes were made at the expense of poor defenceless Rush Limbaugh (a man who once described 13-year old Chelsea Clinton as the 'White House dog') at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

Maybe he's taken a few too many blows to the skull, but here's where Chuck's point-of-view really comes unstuck. He's arguing against a bill that would protect people from aggressive acts motivated by hate, at the same time as condemning those who make jokes about someone who, by their very nature as an outspoken pundit, is fair game.

A few years ago, there was a flurry of jokes about Chuck, such as "Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is" and "Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door." At the heart of all of this humour though, is a sense that Chuck decides the way he wants the world, and uses brute force to make it happen, irrespective of logic or physics. And that's what's happening here, except that it's not funny at all.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Please have mercy...

Remember Liz Hurley? Plummy tart famous for a dress that looked half-finished and a wedding programme so lavish it made Mariah Carey look like Sister Wendy. She's been speaking to the press this week, saying she misses her 'old career'. Anyone?

If you're racking your brain to figure out what it is she ever did, other than give birth to a brobdingnagian baby or look doe-eyed when long-time boyfriend Hugh Grant got a blowie from a hooker, I'm sure you're not alone.

Apparently, Liz's long-lost career is that of 'actress'. She says "I really miss it. I decided I couldn't do movies for a while, which was a huge decision for me because I actually love making movies more than anything." I'm not so sure that everyone else was so keen, but there you go. It turns out that her absence from the silver screen was because she didn't want to take her son Damian out of school.

It's not all bad news though. Liz promises that "...if a great movie came up in the school holidays, I'd take it like a shot!" Well, I think that's a good enough argument for educational reform to eradicate holidays altogether. Still, if it means we can look forward to a belated sequel to modern classic 'Passenger 57', it can't be all bad...

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Gay is the word

Whatever happened to the love that dare not speak its name? These days, people can speak of little else. It's big news in the States at the moment, since this week's shock American Idol result. In case you haven't been following it, the final saw gay Adam Lambert square off against missionary Kris, only for Kris' red-state, Bible-thumping, down-home fans to roll up their sleeves and defeat the man who was pretty much declared winner on the first live show. The morning-after press conference saw Adam agree that his 'sexuality' (without ever explicitly confirming what 'it' is) probably cost him the vote, but he didn't seem to be harbouring any sour grapes. However, that didn't stop another gay runner-up, Clay Aiken, from rushing in to criticise Adam's performances, only to then apologise a few hours later.

Meanwhile, over on another reality talent show, Nigel Lythgoe (once described by Charlie Brooker as looking like 'Eric Idle watching a dog drown') has been kicking up a brouhaha as well. Following in the well-trodden footsteps of Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell (whose painful 'gay panic' banter is now as much a staple of every show as the performance recaps) Nigel felt the need to make an issue out of the sexuality of two male contestants on So You Think You Can Dance. Having expressed discomfort at the way in which the men danced together, Nigel then took to Twitter to comment further: "The same-sex ballroom guys did remind me of Blades of Glory. However, I'm not a fan of Brokeback ballroom." Thanks Nigel, you transparent-skinned, yellow-toothed ghoul.

And then there's Jonathan Ross, no longer allowed to broadcast his radio show live because the BBC are terrified that one of his inappropriate comments will slip through the net and upset someone in Tunbridge Wells. The latest upset was caused by a comment that parents should put their (male) children up for adoption if they asked for a Hannah Montana MP3 player.

So much controversy and so little time. It’s funny to think that it’s not so long ago that gays were happy to settle for insults and negative portrayals, since visibility was better than nothing. But in a few short years we’ve reached a point where mainstream society has embraced the gay cultural vernacular to such a degree that people feel perfectly comfortable criticizing it, as if from the inside. ’Homophobia’ is an easy accusation to make, but it’s almost impossible to prove. So I’ll just cross my fingers and tell myself that I believe in fairies…

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Suffer the children

In this week's Apprentice, we were treated to the sight of 'Heelarious', high-heeled shoes for babies in a range of gaudy patterns that would be perfect if you wanted your toddler to look like Bet Lynch. Unsurprisingly, this dubious footwear has provoked its fair share of controversy, provoking debate about people's desire to strip children of their innocence at an early age. Apparently, whorish footwear isn't every parents' dream for their little ones.

So I thought it was a weird co-incidence that the BBC announced today its plans to create a spin-off of its Wednesday night ratings juggernaut, featuring contestants in their teens, to air in 2010.

Why wait until you've built a successful career, when you can screw up your entire future prospects while you're still studying for your A-levels?

Most teenagers have a special brand of obnoxiousness brought about by fluctuating hormones and a preposterous sense of entitlement, so I suppose it makes sense that they be decked out in braces and thrust in front of the cameras to learn about humility the hard way. It's going to be like Brat Camp, but with more 'thinking outside the box'.

Still, after seeing proper 'professionals' confuse Kosher with Halal, try to sell mild Cheddar to the French, and masturbate the legs of a trampoline, its safe to say that our next generation of apprentices can't do any worse than we've already seen. Some of them may even manage to be likeable, a task that has proved to be way beyond the capabilities of this year's contestants.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Time to call it a day for 24

Call it a lucky co-incidence, fate or serendipity, but when Fox picked up '24' for its Fall 2001 season, they had no idea just how prescient its 'terrorists attacking the US' plotline would be. The pilot ended up being hurriedly re-edited to remove shots of a passenger airline exploding, since it aired just weeks after September 11. But despite the initial upset, the show managed to, not only capture, but actually define the zeitgeist of a wounded nation.

During the course of its first year, the show managed to juggle soap opera plotting (amnesia made a fantastic comeback), extreme violence and the kind of relentless cliff-hangers that would have Penelope Pitstop chewing her nails down to the knuckle. Perhaps more importantly, in its depiction of a bold, noble and unimpeachable African-American presidential candidate, the show arguably paved the way for Barack Obama's own bid for the White House.

Emboldened by a new wave of fans who discovered the show on DVD, 24 somehow managed to stretch out its implausable concept year-on-year, increasing in popularity with each successive season. Unfortunately, as the show evolved, and its leading man became increasingly indestructable (he's been brought back from the dead more times than Kenny on South Park), the politics of '24' began to take precedence. Self-proclaimed "right-wing nutjob" Joel Surnow, who created the show, started to make his influence felt and the tone began to change quite noticably.

Out went the ingenious plotting and smart characterisation, and in its place came a depressingly samey parade of torture scenes until the show started to look like one of Lynndie England's home movies.

Interestingly, in 2007, the military even waded into the debate, arguing that the depiction of torture as a fool-proof interrogation technique was having a detrimental effect on young soldiers. This shit never happened to the A-Team. Of course, the right-wingers were keen to have their say, with clueless, venom-spitting pundit Laura Ingraham arguing that the popularity of 24 was effectively a national referendum on the use of torture.

So when 24 returned after a year out, caused by the writers' strike, everyone was watching closely to see how the show would handle its responsibility to air both sides of the torture argument. However, this was not the subtle exploration that we might have hoped for. Jack's by-the-book counterpart looked as though she was itching to force a wet towel down a suspect's throat by the end of the third episode. So much for a fair and balanced analysis of the issues.

So now as the US reels from the latest season-ending cliff-hanger (the UK gets it this week) the whole format is starting to feel a little tired and repetitive. There's a saying in TV that when a show passes its prime it has 'jumped the shark'. I think '24' has dragged the shark out of its tank, shot its wife, electocuted its genitals and glued its gills together. After single-handedly killing 230 people, maybe Jack Bauer has finally earned a day off.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pity the pretty

Jessica Biel, star of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blade Trinity and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, has spoken out this week about the prejudice that has blighted her career. Turns out, she's just too damn hot.

Justin Timberlake's current squeeze has been talking to Allure magazine about the great roles that pass her by because of the way she looks. Apparently she years for the kind of roles that go to notable fuglies such as Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman.

Jessica's more than happy to put the work in, but what really bothers her is that some casting directors won't even see her for some roles. The fact is, it's all a little bit like the chicken and egg. Beautiful people want to be taken seriously, but that can't happen until they're seen as something other than beautiful. Just ask Charlize Theron or Nicole Kidman, who had to beat themselves with the ugly stick until Oscar finally sat up and took notice. Even Mariah Carey has recognised the value of boilerdom in getting a half decent role - she even managed to score some half-decent reviews in Cannes for her performance in Precious.

So spare a thought for poor, achingly gorgeous Jessica and hope that some visionary casting associate will look past the long legs, killer rack and perfect teeth and see the murderous lesbian, suicidally-tortured novelist or down-at-heel social worker that could be lurking just beneath that flawless skin.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Caveat Emptor

That's latin folks, for 'buyer beware'. It's a standard cautionary phrase, deployed whenever a purchase looks too good to be true, or when there's a hidden catch.

Funnily enough, it's a phrase that sprung to mind the moment it was announced that Michael Jackson was set to stage a 50-night residency at the O2 arena.

Given that the self-proclaimed 'King of Pop' was only able to squeak out two lines of 'Heal The World' last time he took to the stage in 2006, the idea of a two-hour epic concert seemed a little unrealistic. The man has all the strength of a dormouse crushed under a boot, and the vocal prowess of sneeze in a tissue.

The truth, as they say, will out - and now facts are starting to emerge about what ticket-holders can expect. It's a stunning roll-call of lookalikes, tribute acts and additional performers, all of which should hopefully distract people from the fact that, according to Holy Moly, MJ is only contracted to appear for 13 minutes per show.

The latest news is that Michael may or may not have skin cancer, which is weird for someone who doesn't actually appear to have skin. Either way, it sure sounds like someone gathering together a pile of sick notes in advance of something they really don't want to do.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

He said, she said, apparently...

The papers have been unsurprisingly falling over themselves to feed the Jordan/Katie publicity machine this week, with the news that Mr & Mrs Andre are to divorce. The great thing about a story like this, is that there are so many angles to cover.

Cynics can carp that it was fake all along, and Katie was simply biding her time to ditch Peter like the accessory he so clearly was. And the really cynically ones can contradict themselves by suggesting that the whole separation is another stage-managed publicity stunt, and that the couple will be happily reunited with a magazine story about them renewing their vows. In doing so, of course, they accidentally infer that the relationship was real to begin with.

Meanwhile, the rest of the bottom-feeders can flood the press with 'alleged' comments and insights (all in exchange for a handsome fee) into what's really going on between the estranged two-some. And that's precisely what they've been doing - how else would we know about the sexy texts, Peter's tears in Cyprus, the visits to divorce lawyers and, most recently, the two-year sex ban?

At the risk of sounding sympathetic to the couple, the alarming number of stories attributed to 'friends' and other unspecified 'sources' really shows up just how this culture of celebutainment infects the people on one's periphery to such a degree that everyone feels there's money to be made in it. Who cares if it's unquantifiable bullshit - as long as someone's paying, there'll be people who'll talk.

The wryly ironic postscript to all this is that the latest word from Camp Katie is that she's keeping a 'dignified silence'. This of course comes from her regularly updated Twitter feed, which allows her to give updates on the status of her marriage from the Maldives.

Interestingly, for a couple with no boundaries, limits or sense of self-restraint, none of us really have any clue as to what will happen next. Katie Price's talent is for being the most open 'closed book' on the celebrity circuit. And although we might not know what she's got up her sleeve, chances are, it'll turn into something lucrative.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Temper temper

Christian Bale (Finest actor of his generation TM) has been speaking out (in hushed tones this time) about his four-letter tirade against the Director of Photography on the set of the forthcoming Terminator:Salvation.

He graciously admits "Hey listen, I did it, it's in the public space. I take the consequences for it...I went overboard." Which is mighty big of him.

But despite this public mea culpa, Christian's not happy. This time, it's the sound guy who recorded his sweary tirade that bears the brunt of his methody madness. You see, there's an essential trust that goes on during the making of a movie, where the sound guy says that he's not recording. In fact, he shouldn't even be listening.

The problem is, when you start screaming invective at someone for several minutes, because they happened to break your concentration, it's kind of hard not to listen. I guess the sound guy simply thought Bale's behaviour warranted a little payback.

My advice, would be for the temper throwing tool to invest in a little anger management therapy before he next visits the movie set, and not try to misdirect people's attention at the guy who went public with the story.

In the interview with Total Film, Christian makes it very clear that he's not 'whining' or 'trying to cover up bad behaviour' - it's all about the 'creative trust'. Whatever the hell that is.

Friday, 1 May 2009

The meaning of artifice

Sometimes, we change our minds. Last week I wrote about the controversy that had erupted over the spat between Miss California Carrie Prejean and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. At the time I argued they were both as annoying as each other, and tried to avoid taking sides. Now I'd like to restate my position. As irritating as I find Perez, at least he's consistent. Carrie, however, is something different entirely.

First, let's talk vanity. Carrie took a question from the judges that saw her explode into the national consciousness by 'daring to stick to her beliefs'. Problem is, she seems to pick and choose when her faith applies. It was revealed this week that her funbags were paid for by the bosses behind the Miss California pageant. Call me a traditionalist, but if you're going to harp on about your faith and being raised with traditional beliefs, you maybe don't want to do it as you're getting used to the feel of a couple of silicon blobs recently inserted into your breast tissue.

But my disdain for Ms Prejean runs deeper than that. Despite her protests that she 'didn't want to cause offence' and was just speaking about how she was raised, events in the last week have shown just how disingenuous she's being.

Twittering about her frustrations post-Perez, Carrie decided to talk about her hero, a young girl who was murdered in the Columbine massacre. Carrie bleats that the girl was asked if she believed in God, and when she answered 'yes' she was shot. In the bleached bimbo's brain this clearly constitutes a powerful metaphor - young innocent declares her faith and is publicly asassinated for it. How she must empathise. Except, none of it was actually true.

Guardian journalist Andrew Gumbel wrote an article recently exploding some of the myths around Columbine. It turns out, the legend of Cassie Bernall was a fake. Although a recent convert to Christianity at the time of her death, she was never interrogated about her faith before being shot. Instead, it was a girl called Valeen Schnurr who was asked if she believed in God. She answered 'yes' and was spared. But we can't expect Miss Prejean to know, or indeed care. It doesn't suit the point she's trying to make.

But there's more. It turns out that Carrie has gone to Washington to help launch a campaign opposing same-sex marriage. She told NBC's "Today" show that she'll be working with the National Organization for Marriage to "protect traditional marriages." No-one has ever managed to articulate exactly what threat gay marriage poses to its heterosexual counterpart, even its most outspoken critics.

Nonetheless, Carrie is here to 'help save' marriage, by actively campaigning to exclude people from it. All of which makes her proclamations that she didn't want to offend or upset ring a little hollow. So although she talks 'live and let live', her actions seem to imply something entirely different.

Perhaps Perez was right. Maybe she's just a bitch.