The Loneliest Jukebox

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

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

New trend, _Old Boy_, same old bollocks

It had to happen. Following the Virginia Tech massacre, mass media gets the blame. There are plenty of commentators who see the killings as connected to YouTube, ranging from sensible treatments of meaningless nihilism to "mass media for the YouTube generation" (Paul Harris, "Killer made his own horror film", Daily Mail, 20 April 2007: 10-11).

The Daily Mail regrets the end of the 19th Century, but it has briefly joined the 20th with a typical complaint about old media (film) and copycat violence. "In Cho's sick mind he carried images of a violent movie", says Harris. How can we actually know this? The Mail supplies no evidence of what exactly was in Cho's mind, nor could it be expected to. Even the evidence that Cho saw the movie Old Boy (2003) is lacking.

Instead the article relies on Cho's martyrdom video clips showing "disturbing parallels" and "striking parallels" with scenes in the film. I would suggest that if a human being is photographed putting a gun to his/her head or wielding a claw hammer those photographs will look like certain production stills from the film Old Boy; short of evolving differently shaped bodies and heads, there is no getting away from this fact. The Mail's online caption - "Seung-Hui puts a gun to his head in another apparent attempt to copy the violent 2003 film" - is another example of a daft parallel based on completely different things happening to look the same.

The article is accompanied by a box piece enumerating the similarities between Cho's manifesto and Old Boy (Richard Shears, "Revenge tale with gruesome scenes of death and torture", ibid). The point about each comparison is that it relies on things in the film having (vaguely) similar descriptions in real life. Each observation is brought in as "evidence", but there is nothing in the article that proves the killer even saw the film. How can we say it caused the killings - "the ultimate Quentin Tarantino movie", apparently? We can't - there's no proof at all.

PS. I better be right about this: I bought one of my best mates the Old Boy DVD for his birthday last year. Any massacres he carries out in future are his own fault entirely, OK?

PPS. While I was writing this an apartment burned in the next street. I was going to slate the crowd of rubberneckers who'd gathered to watch -- some did video it on their cameraphones and you can probably find it on YouTube soon if you cared to -- but most of them had been evacuated from the apartment itself, and had little choice but to stand around until the fire was extinguished. Apologies for thinking the wrong thoughts, folks.

*Also in the Mail: the video fight club for toddlers.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

No regrets (yet)

UK readers who are missing me this summer can watch me in the comfort of their own home (for about 10 seconds of screen time). My debut feature credit was in the movie Number One Longing Number Two Regret, which is released on DVD in June.

You can buy it at the Amazon link below (official site here).

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

That's entertainment

As announced previously, this blog is in a state of semi-retirement. The roses are coming along nicely, thank you.

As part of my life of leisure, this weekend I got to see Liverpool beat Manchester United 4-1. Before you double-check this result on teletext, I was watching the Masters Cup in Dubai, so it has zero consequences for the Premiership this year. Tonight, if it took my fancy, I could blow 995 AED on "World Celebrity Championship Boxing" at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and watch various fighters including Tommy Sheridan MSP, who I expect to come out swinging. (I'd best get that low blow in before his UK fans do.)

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