More Misérables…

EbcosetteApparently people are freaking out that the BBC’s new adaptation of Les Misérables doesn’t have any songs in it.

I don’t know if this is down to general stupidity or simple ignorance about the original Victor Hugo novel. I’ll try not to pass judgement on the levels of ignorance in this country, but instead pose it as a question: are people really this stupid that they think the BBC left the songs out?

Maybe I’m taking the issue too seriously and go with the more humorous retorts. As one bright spark tweeted, “Victor Hugo just messaged. He’s livid that the BBC have taken all the songs out of his musical.”

 

Monkeyism…

Is there such a thing? In this age where swathes of people seem to take offense at almost anything, I’ve decided to rouse the bee in my own bonnet and talk about the exploitation of primates in advertising

When I was young, we had hugely popular TV ads with chimpanzees advertising a popular brand of tea. They were voiced by actors and were shown in a variety of comical situations – the most popular of which was probably the one in which they are removal men (removal monkeys), trying to get a piano down some stairs.

We now know that training the chimps for their roles took a huge toll on them and ruined their ability to interact properly with their own kind. So, we don’t use chimps in ads anymore, and that’s a jolly good thing. But, our simian cousins are still the lazy ‘go to’ for unimaginative advertisers. I saw this ad on the train the other evening – an orangutan selling audio books.

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I’m not suggesting that any orangs were harmed in the making of the ad – it’s probably just a photoshopped or computer generated. But I’ve chosen to take offense at the exploitation of monkeys (or are they apes?) and to make a plea that we don’t go back to the 1970s and those awful days of exploitative monkeyism?

Anyone for a #MonkeyToo movement?

Shakespeare on the tube…

I don’t know how long it’s been there, but I only noticed The Bard on the platform at Charing Cross tube station the other day.

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Apparently it’s a poem called On the Portrait of Shakespeare by Ben Johnson and was opposite Shakespeare’s portrait on the inside of the First Folio edition.

I’m resolved to keep my eyes open for more such things…

Currently…

51DrSp9UnjL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Reading The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt by Robert I Sutton. We all have to deal with such people (increasingly) everyday, and this is full of good advice on how to deal with them and escape with some sanity. The sequel to the workplace classic, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilised Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t

 

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Listening to Rainier Fog by Alice in Chains. Nuff said, it’s heavy on the guitars and heavy on the melodies. Alice don’t make bad albums!

Tired of being tired?

train adcofI can’t remember the last time I was tempted to whip out a sharpie and scrawl on a train ad, but this one had me getting pretty close.

“Tired of being tired?” it asks, as you can now take this liquid to wake yourself up.

It’s such a well-placed ad, seeing as most people will only see it on the way to work (feeling tired) and on the way home from work (feeling more tired!).

What I wanted to scribble though, was “Try switching your phone off and going to sleep at a decent hour!”

A petty thing, I know, but I never cease to be amazed at how the commercial pressures that we live under constantly get us to pay to make ourselves ill, and then try to sell us a cure as well.

Frankenbook…

I like a good Frankenstein metaphor, and The Guardian’s recent review of Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy has a corker when summing up the story of the social media giant:

“Facebook was founded by an undergraduate with good intentions but little understanding of human nature. He thought that by creating a machine for ‘connecting’ people he might do some good for the world while also making himself some money. He wound up creating a corporate monster that is failing spectacularly at the former but succeeding brilliantly at the latter. Facebook is undermining democracy at the same time as it is making Mark Zuckerberg richer than Croesus. And it is now clear that this monster, like Dr Frankenstein’s, is beyond its creator’s control.”

Having not been on the platform myself for several years, I can honestly say that I don’t miss it. It’s not even the privacy issues that got to me (there’s no such thing as free!), it was the behaviour of people around me and their addiction to it. Apparently the stimulation it provides to the reward centre of the brain is akin to produced by sex, chocolate. Only with social media, you get endless ‘dopamine loops’ – constant itches that you have to scratch.

Yes, the monster’s out there alright. And, the irony of course is that in Shelley’s novel, what the monster craves most is the community and connection that he is constantly denied – exactly what most people seem to crave along with their neural pleasure hit.

So how do you kill the monster?

I just hope that Facebook isn’t as enduring as the the creature…

Flakensteins…

That bastion of progressive and informed thought, The Sun, has shot itself in the foot in its pursuit of ‘snowflake’ students: Snowflake students claim Frankenstein’s monster was ‘misunderstood’ — and is in fact a VICTIM.

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The NewStatesman picked up on the story today, but The Times had made the same error a few days ago (it’s behind a paywall but you get the sense of the article).

Admittedly, I’ve read Frankenstein more times than I can remember, but even on the first reading, your sympathy is with the creature and you soon realise that Victor Frankenstein is indeed the real monster of the story. It’s one of the perverse pleasures of the book – especially if you come to it from having watched the Universal and Hammer movie monsters stomping around and smashing everything. The creature is scorned, misunderstood and tortured, but he learns to read and becomes more articulate, even poetic, in describing his dreadful plight.

Was there ever a gold age when journalists were well-read and educated? It seems now that whatever suits the editorial agenda will do – and I don’t suppose too many Sun readers will bother checking the facts for themselves. If they were concerned with such things, they would read The Sun