“One interesting thing a UK reality show could do would be to run a program called “Nativist World”, set up a whole suburb with no immigrants and prices resulting from that labour shortage in the pubs, and shops, and then see what people think about their world.”—Guy Rundle in Hammersmith… in Crikey.
“Her stand-up comedy aside, Deveney’s career has essentially been a variation on a theme whose monotonous key notes are filling up column inches and giving readers a sense of social superiority. The idea of the people who commission this stuff seems to be to give The Age’s readers the chance to get themselves close enough over breakfast to the source of self-important snark (Deveney), quirky navel-gazing (Marieke Hardy), cosy principled “musings” (Kate Holden) or 2-minute-noodle-style literary knowingness (Shane Maloney), so that they can head out into the world - if not feeling an inner glow, at least feeling forearmed with someone else’s ironies. - It’s important to bear in mind, by the way, what all this guff - guff that undoubtedly knows it’s guff - has come to edge out of the newpaper almost completely - that is, book reviews, film reviews and social criticism that fulfil the minimal criteria of grown-up commentary - talking about the topic for more than three sentences back-to-back and not taking the elbow-room that new-style subjectively coloured journalism gives you as a pretext for talking about what bit of obnoxious or poignant behaviour you were witness to last time you were at the supermarket. - That The Age continues to employ Deveney as a tv writer is a sign of the deep downwards spiral it entered into long ago; the abrasive scatter-brained smugness might sometimes be amusing in a column devoted to Catherine’s larger-than-life personality, but applied to a medium, tv, that would be well served being written about from a thoughtful informed perspective, it’s inexcusable.”—from Cameron Shingleton’s sharp review of Catherine Deveney’s religious-baiting comedy show (and associated oeuvre). A review supplemented recently by Mal over at Pretty Cool (for an Iconodule). The video is, like, I mean, really something special.
Following on from Mary’s right-on critique of the NYWF, here is something I wrote years ago for an anthology of NYWF-related articles. As it happened, my piece wasn’t included as the editor wanted it abridged to about 1/5 of its original length. Given the length and sprawl was integral to the way the article communicated, that seemed like madness. So I let it slide. But not before I had penned my little reflection, which was to sit at the back with a list of contributors. It chimes with what Mary has to say. This is not at all surprising, given that we found ourselves swapping similar stories and ideas before her piece was published in Voiceworks…
I was at 2006’s Newcastle Young Writers’ Festival as a representative for Mess + Noise. That was – and perhaps will be again some day – a print magazine dedicated to music coverage beyond the style of both the PR-fattened newsstand music mags and the payola-fattened shopfloor street-press mags. On panel after panel the question was asked about how to sustain the M+N model – a model which, against current orthodoxy, featured about as much advertising as 1950s Eastern Europe and articles that could run the length of a secret police dossier. Plus a free CD with every second issue. It folded within a year of that NYWF – to the surprise of no one, perhaps, but to the dismay of many.
NYWF that year – a chaotically thrown-together thing with the mandatory escapes to the beach – seemed preoccupied with the question of independent media’s viability. It spoke to the political climate, but only in veiled ways. I guess in a world full of economic rationalists you need things like “arts management,” “cultural creatives” and “cultural policy studies”; you need these things that make innovative minds slot into the market, justifying their existence, all the while speaking the language of “networking” like mini-Patrick Batemans.
Such searching for market-mediated answers was at odds with the radically imaginative ways people had managed to create their own niche beforehand – and have continued to do so since. The NYWF zeal was infectious, a little bubbleworld of imagination, likeminds sparking with one another to passionately discuss…advertising:content ratios? It was the place where media nerds got to expunge their dirtiest thoughts. Compromise and consensus were on the menu, dished up regularly throughout the weekend. Here we were, all discussing the place of the media and writing in a world of advertising’s loud hailer and the market ascendant.
Then someone smeared themselves with cat food and the homemade ginger beer ran out and My Disco sandblasted skulls while Ghislain Poirier ravaged rumps, and for a minute everything seemed like it might just work out, the world might just tilt the way we all – right deep down – wanted it to… But it was over. Only the ambivalence remains.
I’m broadly sympathetic with Rockets And Rayguns in this argument, but it’s fascinating to me how the meaning of “mainstream” and the “ordinary consumer” is changing in what you might call Apple fan discourse (and, if R & R is right, causing schisms within that discourse).