Archive for February, 2010

“Jed…ward??! well i never!” (A ‘Leavis-like’ analysis of a chosen media text)

It has come to my immediate regard of this obscene farce on British television, so-called the ‘X-Factor’… I sat with ‘disgust’ being the only emotion I could fathom to form my features on Saturday evening as a pair of over-excitable juveniles jirated, jiggled, and garbled out something I refuse to classify as ‘music’.

Even if I had opted to ‘mute’ my ‘idiots lantern’, I would still have been faced with their atrocious attire! Adorned in what i can only describe as ‘overalls’, they proceeded to procrastinate around the stage, sporting hair that very much resembled the ‘White Cliffs Of Dover’, with a group of equally eccentric ‘exceptionals’ who wouldn’t have looked at of place at a ‘Thriller Convnetion’ in toe!

It is beyond my comprehensive conception how this ‘freak show’ can possibly be conceived as ‘entertainment’ (in want of a better word!) It communicates no ‘values’ of worth other than ‘how to make yourself look exceedingly idiosyncratic in front of millions of British tax-payers!’

I shall most certainly be writing to the ‘high-waisted’ and ‘over-paid’ gentleman whom I believe to be the organ-grinder to these ridiculously-robed monkeys!

A Woman Of No Importance: why it might be considered to offer us ‘sweetness & light’…

I read this play as part of my A-Level English Literature course, and to be honest, my ‘pre-omg-yawnfest!’ diagnosis was swiftly swept under the carpet, as this play was full of superbly written wit and humour as well as a voyeuristic insight into the social circles of ‘polite society’.

Why ‘sweetness & light’?

I feel that this media text offers it’s audience ‘sweetness & light’ because:

  • mainly due to its context (the high-class social circles of Victorian Britain)
  • written by Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who was highly thought-of in his field. He remains one of the great playwrights of all time, and his works still feature on many of the ‘reading cannons’ of A-Level English lit courses today.
  • although some may criticise the ‘references’ within the play that were ‘shunned’ by high society (single mothers etc), it is written with expert precision and encompasses the ‘whit’ and banter that was a commonplace ‘reflex’ in such circles

Values the text communicates:

  • ‘family’ – the importance of family ties and being there for one another
  • ‘pride’ – Mrs Arbuthnot retains her pride throughout, even though she has an illegitimate son.
  • ‘secrets’/’secret-keeping’ – this theme is ‘toyed with’ throughout the play, and also the importance of how life-changing secrets can be within societies such as this
  • ‘age=superiority’ – the older characters remain ‘aloof’ over those who are far younger

Overall, i feel that this play more than deserves its pigeon hole amongst the likes of ‘Jayne Ayer’, ‘Great Expectations’, & ‘The Brontë sisters’ to name but a few, and fills our lives with endless sugar and sunshine…

“You’ve arrived on a rather special night. It’s one of the master’s affairs…”

Fishnets? … check!

Heels? … check!

Over-sized pearls? … check!

Red lippy? … check!

Hotpants? … check!

Basque? … check!

… and that was just my boyfriend’s checklist!

It could only mean one thing (other than the unveiling of a secret that his grandmother of ’62 Hatherton Road with room for a pony’ would rather die than tell her mother’s meeting at the conservative club!) … of course it was ROCKY HORROR NIGHT!

So 9 of us donned heels, fishnets, and very little else and headed to ‘Wolverhampton Grand Theatre’ where we had fabulous seats only 4 rows from the front!

For those who’ve never seen the film, here’s a short plot synopsis:

“Follow squeaky-clean sweethearts Brad and Janet on an adventure they’ll never forget, with the scandalous Frank’n’Furter, rippling Rocky and vivacious Magenta. Get ready for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity in this thrilling production of Richard O’Brien’s classic original script!

Bursting at the seams with timeless classics, including Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the pelvic-thrusting Time Warp, Richard O’Brien’s ROCKY HORROR SHOW is a non-stop party!

Ready to thrill you with its frothy, fun and naughty moments, this is the boldest bash of them all, so sharpen those stilettos for the rockiest ride of your life! Don’t dream it – be it.”

Ainsley Harroitt played the narrator, and was sharp-tongued and quick whitted throughout, as the ‘film finatics’ heckled in all the right places … even taking time out from the script to plug his ‘cous cous’ range, which recieved raptuous applause and laughter from an audience that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a ‘bondage convention’!

David Bedella as the infamous Frank-N-Furter

The marvelous David Bedella played the flirtacious ‘Frank-N-Furter’ whose racy reputation was well and truly lived up to!

The sets, live music, and singing were first class! And even Ainsley had a go, with notable numbers being the famous ‘Time Warp’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite’. The audience were more than lively, and the girls and myself got up a few times to dance away with the cast on stage.

Although a few over-excitable ‘hecklers’ got a bit carried away, the audience participation factor of the show was no-doubt a large factor as to why the show has been so popular over the years and will inevitably continue to be so…

Overall, a fabulous night was had by all … and i don’t envy any of those who’re faced with the prospect of brushing out all of that ‘back-combing’ this morning!

*Natalie Jane*

A Spot Of Light Reading: F.R. Leavis, ‘Mass Civilisation And Minority Culture’

Leavis begins by making comment on the fact that there are now a lot less people who he would categorize as ‘qualified’ to comment upon ‘culture’, i.e. there are not many people now who would be able to comment first-hand on ‘high culture’.

“goodwill and intelligence are still too little available.”

“to set up as a critic is to set up as a judge of values…”

However, he then makes reference to an earlier work of his in which he counters this idea with:

“the record and perpetuation of the experiences which seem to him most worth having. For reasons which we shall consider … he is also the man who is most likely to have experiences of value to record. He is the point at which the growth of the mind shows itself”.

Here, Leavis hints that although someone may not have been brought up in a ‘high society’, the experience of life itself would allow any man (or woman) the right to comment upon high society.

He digresses to attack America for the ‘dumbing down’ of the British society, blaming the film industry primarily. Although I think he does go a little ‘overboard’, he does ‘back-peddle’ slightly in enough time to add that it is because of America we have ‘greater efficiency, better salesmanship, and more mass-production and standardisation’.

He also covers ‘language’, primarily English. He highlights Russell’s thoughts that ‘English is the best language in the world for advertising’, again with an underlying fear that the supposed ‘Americanization’ may destroy this.

‘Shakespeare was not highbrow’

He goes on to make a bold statement that: ‘standardized civilization is rapidly enveloping the whole world’. If this is indeed true, then it is rather worrying. Will we all soon become all the same? Will we blend into a huge mass culture, unable to differentiate from one culture to the next?

In conclusion, Leavis states: “it is vain to resist the triumph of the machine i.e. all the ‘pros’ that globalization has brought us.

I.A. Richards: “this century is in a cultural trough rather than upon a crest…the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better…a slow climb back may be possible”.

“it is best if we can to keep open our communications with the future”

It’s Only Flippin’ Pancake Day!

A severe case of repetitive strain injury is on the cards for a nation of pancake proffesionals as every Tom Dick and Harry tries out their ‘flippin’ skills and gorges on their ‘home made’ fondant-filled fancies.

The squirrels have been working overtime as the supermarket aisles are rammed with bumper packs of ‘Nutella’, and the only ‘juicy’ lemons left are of the ‘jif’ variety!

I’m still to brave the ‘pancak-ing’ after an 8 hour shift at work … or if i’m honest, just waiting for a time lapse in the kitchen where i wont get in trouble for sticking an over-enthusiastic attempt to my mother’s lovely white coving!

*Natalie Jane*

Happy Valentine’s Day: 14/2/2010:

Sainsbury’s has just about managed to shift it’s last ‘half price-buy on get one-1/3 off’ Christmas card in it’s seasonal sale when the ‘Valentine’s Aisle’ makes an appearance, decked out in all it’s horrifically-soppy ‘cheesyness’.

Call it a day of romance or yet another commercialised, over-rated ‘holiday’ that involves (much like any other) alot of the ‘green stuff’….but alas there’s no escaping it!

Every year on the 14th day of February, women and girls-alike await with anticipation an extortionately-priced bunch of man-handled roses and a soppy verse in a card, sporting a pair of ‘googly-eyed gorillas’ enblazend on the front (again over-priced).

However we all fall for this day of indulgence year after year … a guilty pleasure for millions of Brits…
All my but Grandmother of course, who refuses to allow a winged man in a nappy to dictate to her a specific day of the calendar in which she should set aside her weekly ‘perm’ to express her love for my Grandfather. Her outrage is usually followed by “i’ve been married to him for nearly 50 years! … never mind a ‘day’, i need a bloody medal!”

*Natalie Jane*

Brit Bags £56million!: 12/2/2010:

A jammy British ‘so-and-so’ will be laughing all the way to the bank come Monday morning, with their winning Euromillions ticket burning a £56million hole in their pocket!

Our weekly ‘dabble’ of a whole English pound on the lottery has been a popular British habit since 1994, and is very much part of British culture, along-side a day at the races and a night at the ‘dogs’.

I’m still waiting for my lucky numbers to come rolling in, after having a few small winners over the past couple of weeks, but alas no jackpot as of yet!

Let’s hope the lucky Brit who is due for a payday they’ll never forget wont spend it all at once!

*Natalie Jane*