The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed -

Graham Author Page

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy slapping goes Dutch

Just been interviewed on Dutch local radio by one Eddie Roosen in Tilburg, Holland. Happy slapping continues to fascinate in some quarters of the media, particularly where they are just cottoning onto it. The death of politics contributes to a continuing preoccupation with interpersonal behaviour, the modification of which is treated as a top priority (cf. the national binge-drinking strategy debate). And I thought Britain already had a national binge drinking strategy...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Scoot, Barry Scott

He had me fooled. The shouting man in the Cillit Bang advert, Barry Scott, is a fictional creation. An actor plays the made-up rep for a cleaning products company, hard-selling the squirty goop in a bottle that sounds like a caption off a premium-rate phoneline ad.

But Barry has been a busy boy. Not content with hollering at TV viewers like Jim Robinson off Neighbours, he's also been offering his condolences to the emotionally distressed on their weblogs. While finding time to plug his cleaning product (full story here). Not bad for a fictional character. Coming soon: how Sherlock Holmes offered me cocaine online.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Bitter Aftertaste

Congratulations to Philip Thompson, director of The Bitter Aftertaste. His movie was selected for screening at the Raindance film festival at the UDC-Cineworld on Shaftesbury Avenue in London at 12.15pm on Sunday 9th October 2005. Based on the rough cut, I said that The Bitter Aftertaste provides: “Compelling and extraordinary insights from a timely use of objective investigation and documentary techniques to convey hidden truths." My remarks found their way onto the press release for the film.

The finished film, despite some of the uneven sound recording that only becomes apparent on the big screen, was even better. Here’s the director’s summary:

“A first film by Philip Thompson and one of WORLDwrite’s young volunteer film crews, The Bitter Aftertaste casts huge doubts on the capacity of chocoholics and shopaholics to transform the lives of farmers in the developing world through their supermarket trolleys. Shot in Ghana and the UK this hard-hitting documentary is sure to stir more than coffee and leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those who espouse fair trade as a mechanism for development. The film asks the questions often thought but never asked, does fair trade really change anything or just make Western consumers feel good? A must-see for everyone who believes the developing world deserves better.”

Further information, interviews with the film maker and reviews can go through this link . All in all, a job well done.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Forthcoming publication

Next year some of my thoughts on film noir and the relations between real and imagined cities appear in Manmade Modular Megastructures, by Ian Abley (Editor) and Jonathan Schwinge (Co-Editor); (ISBN: 0-470-01623-X, Paperback, 128 pages, March 2006).
To advance order your copy of Manmade Modular Megastructures, AD magazine, January 2006, click on this link to go to the publisher, or this link for Amazon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Auction here

From TV Listings:
Homes Under the Hammer (Stereo) (T)
Lucy Alexander visits a Devon bungalow and Martin Roberts explores a flat in Margate."

Yours truly was interviewed briefly for this show, on the subject of what should be done with the flat in Margate. In the style of Why Is Construction So Backward, I argued that the site should showcase the latest and greatest in prefabrication, taking the lead in pioneering the five million homes needed in South East England. No idea if my ramblings will make the final cut though.

Incidentally, at the time I was staying in the giant block of seafront flats that doubles as an asylum seekers' hostel in Paul Pavlikovsky's excellent movie Last Resort. They're actually quite nice inside...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Simon says

A thoughtful response to a recent Spiked commentary. Simon said...
"I read your article on spiked, and while I disagree with Younis' conviction for committing a breach of the peace, I also disagree with you.You say, "Younis acquired the video from the internet; he did not behead anyone himself in order to obtain it." The argument doesn't work for people who are found with a hard drive full of kiddie-porn does it? It's not enough to say "Mr. X didn't rape any children himself; he just liked watching other people do it."Younis should have been prosecuted for the same reason that they prosecute people who download child pornography, because the existence of an audience hungry for such images makes it more likely that people will provide them.It is undeniable that the content of the video is criminal; its possession should be criminalized to diminish the demand. If only one jurisdiction does this effect will be minimal, but it would be a good start, and perhaps other would follow. There would be little point in killing unimportant individuals if there weren't a global audience waiting to see it. The acts are more for the armchair supporters of the insurgency than directed at achieving any tactical objective. For you to claim some sort of parity between the fictional "snuff" of video nasties and the real-life horror of the beheading videos is post-modern nonsense. I watched The Devil's Rejects last night. It was a despicably violent movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the gulf between watching an actor cowering in fear before he is "slaughtered" and some hapless abductee is absolute. The actor picks up a cheque and goes home. The abductee does not."

Several points. You disagree with Younis being jailed for a breach of the peace, but would seem to prefer some new law where prosecution for possession of images was the preferred option. I've got gut level hostility to a retrospective prosecution of Younis if such laws came in. That said, it would be a moderate improvement if at least people would know they were breaking the law prior to dabbling in attrocity footage (as opposed to a retrospective prosecution). But let's face it, in terms of free expression, such a law would become a huge problem. Second, extraterritoriality: it's dodgy to prosecute for crimes committed abroad at the best of times. Do we want to see UK drug law applied to UK citizens who have a wacky weekend in Amsterdam, for example? Simon suggests extending the principle of extraterritoriality to images of crimes committed abroad, or even to images of gore acquired from overseas.

As for video nasties, the main reason to mention them at all in an article like mine is because the comparison illustrates changing attitudes. The gulf between fictional and real bloodshed is absolute, but different forces in society choose to pretend otherwise from time to time. In the 1980s advocates of the Video Recordings Act treated fictitious violence as real (they also maipulated the issue of child protection to their advantage.) These days a spectrum of voyeurs ranging from amateur collectors to respected news organisations revel in real violence as entertainment. The article makes it clear I'm not keen on this voyeuristic turn, but then there's no point in reserving free expression only for the people I agree with.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Severed Head on a Spike(d)

Shame on you if this salacious entry title pulled you in looking for gruesome images. I'm just supplying the link to my latest Spiked commentary, penned after more legal nonsense unfolding around the question of digital phone content. But feel free to read on anyway.

Of rebel rockers and rams

The frequency of my blogging has become inversely proportional to workload. Call it Barnfield's law. There will still be entries from to time to time, especially now that Steve Drewett of the Newtown Neurotics, after whose song this blog is named, told me he was a reader. The temporarily reformed band were excellent live last week and, oddly, the original line-up do not appear to have aged at all. So just like old times on both counts, without the Neurotics getting sucked into the nostalgia trip influencing at least one of the support acts.

If you are dithering about whether to see Shinya Tsukamoto's Vital, now on general release, I reviewed it here last year. It's an acquired taste, and probably less entertaining than seeing Derby fans turn on their new manager after a fast but shambolic first half on Saturday. Sadly the Shaggers got the last laugh with a late equaliser.