Archive for September 22nd, 2005

TV-Ridden Ravings II

Of all the ads for get-back-to-work-goddammit-your-employer-isn’t-happy products, the most obnoxious have to be the ones for Berocca. That Berocca sounds a bit like ‘Baracus’ is unlikely to be mere coincidence.

The manly and clean-cut protagonist of the TV ad takes his medicine to counter the emasculating effects of illness, or perhaps hangovers. A triumphant and energetic return to work in the office dispels doubts about his masculinity.

Being a man, then, depends on your capacity to meet the needs of your employer. In these ads, illness acquires significance through its relation to work. You are not simply ill, run-down or hungover: you are unable to produce, and because you are unable to produce, you are not a man.

This theme is apparently subverted by another TV ad for one of those vile-tasting instant soup products that taste like reheated dishwater. In the ad, the hero takes his masculine assertiveness to goofy extremes, as a means of disguising the fact that he is utterly indolent.

As the camera follows the protagonist around the chaotic office, the viewer is allowed a glimpse of a tantalising reality: office work is an absurd charade, but you’re in on the joke. Naturally, this complicity has a price. Masculinity, along with the magical vision needed to perceive the reality of the office, is conferred only by drinking cup-a-soups.

In reality, there is not much difference between the two ads. Both propose medication as a means of dealing with the sublime misery of the office. The principal difference is in the choice of substance: a sickly orange fizz, or a hot lumpy sludge.

Christ, two Lemsips and I’ve turned into a limp-wristed Media Studies student.

Young, Dumb and Full of Lists

The ageing rock dinosaur in me enjoyed this brief interview with Neil Young, one of the more unknowable personalities in rock music. Anyway, in tribute, here’s a spontaneous Neil Young Top 10:

1. The Needle and The Damage Done
2. Ambulance Blues
3. A Man Needs A Maid
4. Revolution Blues
5. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
6. Ohio
7. Tired Eyes
8. Southern Man
9. Like A Hurricane
10. Cowgirl In The Sand

As Young-o-philes might note, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. No Sleeps with Angels, Trans or shite Pearl Jam collaborations for me, no sir.

TV-Ridden Ravings

Alas, infirmity leaves my nose and my blogging clogged. This month has gone the way of all Septembers in the last decade or so, in that I have caught a rather snuffly cold.

Looks like fortifying myself with that L Casei Imunitass stuff for the last month didn’t do a whole pile of good. And here was me thinking it was going to provide an invisible force-field against disease.

Anyway, debilitated and unable to continue with my punishing fitness regime, I have spent a lot of time watching telly. It seemed like the decent thing to do, after receiving notice the other day that my TV licence had been renewed, to the tune of 150 Euro.

Last night I turned on the state broadcaster and Fair City was on RTE1 and a twenty-year-old programme on the art of book binding was on RTE2.

I have no real objection to paying for a crappy soap, but it feels unfair to be paying for something already paid for by people 20 years ago, many of whom are now dead, perhaps from the excruciating boredom that comes from trying to get your money’s worth from RTE.

Non-advertisement TV programming is eating itself. The other night there was a rather grand and fawning retrospective on Gay Byrne. It talked about how great Gay Byrne was, in terms that sometimes seemed like a justification for making a programme about him.

I am now funding TV programmes about the importance of TV programmes and their personalities, and paying to hear talking heads like Ryan Tubridy (whose granda or someone was in RTE) reminisce about what life was like when Gay Byrne was on the radio – the smell and cabbage and suchlike.

Take away the hagiographies, the absurd lifestyle/makeover shows, the soaps you can watch on BBC and ITV anyway, the endless recycling of archive coverage and what are you left with?

Well, there was an hour long drama about some young buck who was having a drug-fuelled affair with the local guard’s frisky wife. I’m not fond of making similes by introducing drugs into the equation (e.g. ‘it sounded like Englebert Humperdinck on acid’), but this was Fair City Nights on poppers.

Why do the docile masses put up with this dung? Will Rip-Off Republic ever turn the camera on itself and reveal one of biggest rip-offs of them all?

Still, there’s always the ads. On one of the not-paid-for channels, there was another celebration of the greatest ads ever. Why? Because ads are IMPORTANT. It’s GOOD to watch them, Chris Tarrant tells us without any hint of irony, because they can provide us with some of TV’s greatest moments of comedy, art and innovation.

Watching this stuff requires something a lot stronger than Lemsip.

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September 2005