Talking with my good friend Stuart Nolan (Hex Induction), I started ranting about the UK tv series ‘Skins’ - and despite spouting mouthfuls of disapproval several times verbally, I had never written it down until now. Speaking about Skins and its (lack of) youth directing, I said:
Skins particularly seems to have lost what little production values and youth influence it had; run by the money men, it seems to be more a projection of what they think youth audience need (sex & drugs) rather than what we actually want (it always reminds me of that scene in ‘A Hard Days Night’ where George stumbles into the office of an executive who works for a clothing manufacturer, and he has mapped out on a calendar that months ‘trend’ and can predict what the kids will be wearing from it, which is a genius piece of writing for what was really a film commissioned hastily to make a quick-buck across the pond whilst the beatles themselves were ‘the fashion’. My main beef with Skins is that even when portraying drugs as a catalyst for violence and trying to take the morral high-ground they are still ultimately glorifying them. that really bothers me.
And it really does bother me. Now I like to think Im a pretty media-savvy person, and as a result of that and my political stance (left wing) that my rather liberal viewpoint and opinions a) clash with the conservative ideals of the predominantly right-wing media executives and b) wont tally with the vast majority of the channel’s target audience demographic, but surely I can’t be the only one think what Im thinking? It frustrates me, because whilst (as I said) I like to think Im a very liberal person, when looking at shows such as ‘Skins’ I find myself seeing their portrayal of drug abuse (no matter what the context) to be bad - now is it in fact that Im a bit more prudish than I like to think I am, or is the general consensus of people with the same views as myself the same?.. Im actually asking, please tell me!
Anyway, thinking about the British media in general really ticks me off. I understand that the media industry and every company that comes under that are all very lucrative businesses, and as a result (and in order to function as a good business) have to be ran conservatively, in order to create their media, be financially viable and sustain themselves in what is a ‘peaks and troughs’ industry - Im under no illusions about that. I just hate how what is as much a creative outlet as it is an industry has to be ran like a business by right-wing, blue-collar yuppies who are the antithesis of everything that the left-wing creative workforce (who produce the material) stand for.
Whilst I hate that that is the case, I have just justified it, and could come to accept that ‘thats just the way it has to be in order to function with any level of sensibility’.. but when you look at something like the USA’s subscription-based institution HBO (and this is where I start to repete myself) you look back with disbelief at the state of the UK’s media institutions.
A liberal company producing liberal, high brow series and comedies not afraid to break conventions or strive to be ground-breaking or edgy, because there is a mutual understanding amongst everyone; from the executives to the commissioners, to the directors and across to the audiences (who, in fairness, do actively sign up for this channel and pay a subscription fee, meaning that they know what they are signing up for, which it could be argues discredits my argument in parts, but only to a degree)
One of aussie-bastard Rupert Murdoch’s gold-encrusted, rigamortis-riddled metaphorical media-fingers, his satellite TV company ‘SKY’ have brought HBO to our shores with their ‘Sky Pacific’ channel - free to anyone who has the most basic of sky packages. figures show that it the majority of SKY’s subscribers fall into the lower socio-economic groups. This means that now HBO’s cerebral comedies and thought-provoking drama series are at the disposal of people who quite frankly wont understand them. This is bad as it will fuel bad press and ultimately lead to poor viewing figures - meaning the channel could be dropped, as I imagine SKY are paying through the nose for the rights to HBO - they have to make that a financially viable purchase (and we’re back to money men!).
I hate talking about audience demographics and low socio-economic groups, sounding like Im condemning the lower-classes to a life of mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows and Eastenders; suggesting that their academically inept brains cannot possibly comprehend a little thinking whilst watching TV just after I’ve been preaching about my liberal stance - I don’t want to come off as a hypocrite, Im simply talking facts in relation to viewing figures.
HBO’s dramas, docs and specials are superior to ours in every single aspect, and I defy anyone to argue against that.
I could go on, but I will restrain. This was meant to be a ‘copy and paste’ job, that was 40 minutes ago. Damnit.