June 10, 2007

'Where is this Interzone place, then?'


(For readers outside the UK... Alexa Chung and Alex Zane are the inhumanly smug presenters of Channel 4's Popworld, a programme that pursues compulsory trivialization to the point of leering, joyless nihilism. Someone who totally detested pop music and wanted to drain it of all remaining libido couldn't have come up with a better vehicle than Popworld, a kind of cheery-sneering marcabre lab experiment to see how far unmitigated PoMo can be taken. Channel 4's other late-night pop programmes are slightly more earnest, but if anything even more abject than Popworld. They are basically free promo slots for the industry to show off its latest - usually Indie - wares, and they produce the same immuno-response in me as gardening programmes or Formula 1 - I'd rather watch the inane quizzes on ITV Play. Channel 4, where once upon a time you could stumble upon PiL live next to Tarkovsky seasons or Patricia Churchland talking about eliminative materialism next to Art of Noise videos, is now prostituted out to the lowest-common-denominator fantasy projections of slumming-it ruling class producers going further and further downmarket in unseemly pursuit of the elusive under-30 dollar. Strange that anything 'educational' or 'difficult' is deemed to be oppressive and elitist, whereas programmes which explicitly tell people (usually working class) how to dress, eat and clean their houses are perfectly acceptable. It's OK to suggest that someone looks haggard because they have neglected the botox (rather than because they have been doing a miserable job and looking after kids for the last thirty years) but anything even remotely smelling of cultural or intellectual improvement is verboten. I suppose that's democratic materialism for you...)

A reader writes:

    What's most wearisome about the popworld/balls of steel/Friday night project axis is that, for the first time, we have a tv version of 'popism' - a place where everything is trivialised, where the 'nothing is true, everything is permitted' ethos just turns everything into an unholy mush, where the only condition is to be 'in on the joke'. The joke being precisely… what?

    So your question 'How many popists are there who didn't go to public school' could be extended to any of the new wave of the television of boredom. How many of the hapless researchers preparing jokes for Alexa went to state schools?

    ... One final word on the insidious effect of popism on tv - not sure if you've heard the Good Shoes record about Morden (basically, it says it's a shithole). Hardly the last word in sonic invention, but a pleasing, annoying racket if you like that kind of thing.

    Lo and behold, there's Alexa (a post on her must be round the corner!) taking the band round Morden, meeting with the tourist office, mugging for the cameras - basically, draining any power the single might've before it's even in the fucking shops! The implications are staggering - you can imagine an alternative history where Paul Weller is made to wear an Eton uniform while Alexa plays a saucy school-mistress, or Ian Curtis on a day-trip to Warsaw with Alex Zane pretending to be a goth ("where is this Interzone place then?")... Or how about Morrissey camping out on the Strangeways roof, while the pair of them play cheery prison guards, delivering him a cuppa?

      Posted by mark at June 10, 2007 09:19 PM | TrackBack