The Loneliest Jukebox

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

Graham Author Page

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Church of the Poisoned Mind

The text below is reproduced from an email looking for volunteers to help turn higher education into a branch of the entertainment industry. Enough reality TV already.

The Charlotte Church show is looking for outgoing lecturers to take part in a feature on the second series of her popular Friday night Channel 4 show. The idea is called 'Charlotte In My Ear' as I said on the phone, Ideally we are looking for a lecturer of quite an academic subject to take part.

Charlotte would be hidden in a room somewhere at the university and would have a direct link to the lecturer via an earpiece and she would basically be telling the lecturer what to say and do throughout a lecture. This would be a hidden camera shoot, the lecturer would obviously be in on it but the students would not be in the know. At the end of the lecture Charlotte would come in and reveal to the students what has been happening. we would then need to get their individual permission to use their footage of them. (i.e. we would not use someone's image without their permission.) We would not make the lecturer say or do anything untoward. It's really just a but of light-hearted fun, it's really about changing people's preconceptions of what a lecturer would normally do. Obviously we wouldn't expect the lecturer to anything he/ she didn't want to. Also we would be giving an incentive for the lecturer to take part, for example a donation towards a field trip etc...This is to be negotiated.

We would only need an hour of your lecturers time and we would endeavour to set up the cameras out of hours, so as to keep any disruption to a minimum. The first series of The Charlotte Church Show regularly received 2 Million viewers so is great publicity for the university. It would be great if you could put forward anyone that might be interested at your earliest convenience. I would hope to come and meet any willing lecturers over the next week or two. We are looking to film this at some point over the next 4 weeks.

(spelling and punctuation in the original.)

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Going out live

Claire Fox News – Ideas behind the headlines will be broadcast live for the first time this evening, Monday 19 February at 8pm. If you miss it, it will be archived.

This week’s programme is on the fallout from Celebrity Big Brother.

The guests are:

Dr Graham Barnfield - senior lecturer in journalism at UEL who blogs at The Loneliest Jukebox (but you knew that anyway). Author of 'From Direct Cinema to Car-Wreck Video: Reality TV and the Crisis of Content', in Reality TV: How Real is Real?
Richard Woolfenden - film maker, Director XUBE TV.
Chris Jury - actor, writer, director.
Amol Rajan - on-screen audience co-ordinator for Channel Five’s The Wright Stuff, author of forthcoming book Take a Bounty Like Me, which is a manifesto for the handling of ethnic minorities in Britain.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Never a dull moment

Long ago, in happier times, I lived in Highams Park. This "green and pleasant neighbourhood" was profiled recently in the property section of the Independent (Robert Liebman, "It's a walk in the park", 14 February 2006, p.14). Local highlights in E4 include a blue plaque on Jubilee Avenue: "Plastics Historical Society: On this site, from 1897-1971, stood the Halex factory of the British Xylonite Company".

Steady on now.
Although I mock, I still think that closing the local hospital is a really bad idea.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Validating voyeurism

"It's likely happy slapping will run its course" editorialised the Evening News, part of the Scotsman group, in response to this story (7 February, log-in required). Maybe, but not when the mainstream media comes close to legitimising it. "$500 000 for Anna Nicole death video" was the reported offer from the Entertainment Tonight satellite TV show (The London Paper, 9 February 2007). What's their going rate for footage of Steve Irwin's death?

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

18 on the 19th

On Monday 19 February I'm off to 18 Doughty Street, "much more than a fine Georgian residence that has been renovated to the highest standards. It truly is a home and not just an office or studio. It is the home of the conservative movement," apparently.

I'll be a guest on Claire Fox News – Ideas behind the headlines at 8pm, discussing reality TV and the Celebrity Big Brother racism row.

Alan Wald writes with a reminder of his forthcoming book, Trinity of Passion
The Literary Left and the Antifascist Crusade
. "The second of three volumes that track the political and personal lives of several generations of U.S. left-wing writers, Trinity of Passion carries forward the chronicle launched in Exiles from a Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth-Century Literary Left. In this volume Wald delves into literary, emotional, and ideological trajectories of radical cultural workers in the era when the International Brigades fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and the United States battled in World War II (1941-45). Probing in rich and haunting detail the controversial impact of the Popular Front on literary culture, he explores the ethical and aesthetic challenges that pro-Communist writers faced.
Wald presents a cross section of literary talent, from the famous to the forgotten, the major to the minor. The writers examined include Len Zinberg (a.k.a. Ed Lacy), John Oliver Killens, Irwin Shaw, Albert Maltz, Ann Petry, Chester Himes, Henry Roth, Lauren Gilfillan, Ruth McKenney, Morris U. Schappes, and Jo Sinclair. He also uncovers dramatic new information about Arthur Miller's complex commitment to the Left.

Confronting heartfelt questions about Jewish masculinity, racism at the core of liberal democracy, the corrosion of utopian dreams, and the thorny interaction between antifascism and Communism, Wald re-creates the intellectual and cultural landscape of a remarkable era."

If it's anything like as good as the first part of the trilogy, I would strongly recommend it.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It's the done thing

Blog watchers will be aware of the recent competition between bits of the commentariat to spot obscure figures from public life. It's like a neo-con version of Heat magazine.

By coincidence, this long weekend I managed sightings of Bob Crow near Farringdon tube, Iain Duncan Smith and Guardian feature writer Laura Barton. When do I get sent my membership card and decoder ring?

The truly observant will have noticed that the real money is in property (e.g. see Jeremy Warner, "Gherkin sold. London's commercial property market is booming, and with good reason", Independent, 6 February 2007, p.37) and not in trainspotting.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Keep Whipps open

Yesterday saw me (+1) marching to prevent the closure of Whipps Cross, my local hospital. Over the years I've spent so much time in there that closure would be akin to being evicted. It was the first - and probably last - time I was on a demonstration with Iain Duncan-Smith (remember him?). Shadows on this picture stop readers from identifying my daughter, who is under the "OSP" of the main banner (purely by chance).

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Gambling on Theocracy

So the success of the Manchester super-casino bid was a bit unexpected. At least I'll be near a micro-casino if I fancy a night out, in "Stratford City, West Ham United FC or the Docklands' ExCel Centre" (none of which are really "on Waltham Forest's doorstop", incidentally). (Read on at "Casino causing concerns", Waltham Forest Independent, 2 February 2007).

I was interested to note the opposition to the proposed casino(s) coming from the al-Tawhid mosque in Leyton High Road. According to Imam Dr Usama Hasan, "Gambling is prohibited in the Koran. I don't think our congregation will like the casino being built at all." I disagree, but at least the first half of the argument is consistent with his religious beliefs. As an extra justification, Dr Hasan adds "Gambling causes a lot of problems, people who run up debt may turn to crime - it is all related." If gambling is absolutely forbidden on religious grounds, then the extra - often dubious - speculation about the social consequences is unnecessary. Some fundamentalist; the local Imam relies on secular arguments to make his case. (James L. Nolan has already skewered the US religious right for having the same relativist logic in its own self-justifications in his book The Therapeutic State: Justifying Government at Century's End).

I could come up with a cheap shot at critics of an "Islamo-fascist left alliance" who also have the same line on casinos as Dr. Hasan, but the odds on that happening make it too predictable.

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