Russell Brand doesn’t vote. Having been goaded about this by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in 2013, Brand wrote a book, Revolution, to show that he’s both right and in earnest. Many people are angered by others not voting, it’s a shibboleth of sorts, but Brand’s position seems reasonable to me; there are many causes for indignant scepticism in public life and much of it is a sham. I don’t share his seeming surprise, though, that wealth buys influence and that rich and powerful people generally want to protect and expand their wealth and power. You’d think someone on the threshold of middle-age (he’s 39) would have noticed a little earlier. This is what George Orwell published in 1941, when he was 38. Continue reading
Features + Flim-Flam
The countenance of a seagull
Among the most graceful of birds, they have the ugliest faces; in the countenance of a seagull we observe all the bitter hatred and malignance which we usually associate with the faces of money-lenders or book censors.
The terrible boredom of existential threats to the universe
Some of the best BBC dramas can be the most irritating. By the best I mean those they’re most pleased with, whose cushions they are forever plumping, whose production values are the most ambitious. Take, say, the increasingly indistinguishable Sherlock and Dr Who, for which the structure, pacing, editing, characterization, mannerisms, tics and assumptions have become hauntingly similar. Continue reading
A serious frivolity
The BBC shows a programme called Eggheads, you may have seen it. A team of challengers made up from more-or-less ordinary members of the public tries to out-quiz a team of fact-bores. There’s a variant, Revenge of the Egghead, in which one of the bores, the one who looks like Jeff Goldblum playing a hairdresser, writhes in his chair, coiling and uncoiling himself and sneering like someone auditioning for a part as a villain in Jungle Book—a villain of no real evil, no desire to tempt or corrupt, just a childish vanity that needs to be fed by scoring off others at Trivial Pursuits. Continue reading